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We All Fall Down

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Takashi was bothered.

He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but something about the week had seemed off. While the girls around him chatted quietly among themselves, Takashi mentally reviewed the week. It started off quite normal on Monday. He went about his usual routine silently: wake up, eat, met Mitsukuni at the limo, get through the school day, Host Club, practice Kendo, eat, do homework, and then get some sleep. Nothing out of the usual. Tuesday went quite similarly, besides a slight hitch (not rescuing Haruhi).

He supposed Wednesday was when things started changing. He had noticed during Host Club hours that Haruhi kept tugging at her sleeves. When the club dismissed the ladies for the day, he watched her flit around the room collecting the dishes and tidying up. Mitsukuni was still engrossed in devouring his cakes. So when Haruhi headed into the prep room, he followed her. Still feeling slightly guilty about not aiding her the previous day and not wanting to confront her right away, he had assisted her with the dishes. It was then that he caught sight of the bruises.

He had almost dropped the tea cup in his hand when he saw the deep purple on her skin out of the corner of his eye. Only years of conditioning kept his expression neutral and the teacup secure in his grasp. He allowed her to finish up the remaining dishes. But when everything had been returned to its rightful place in the cupboards, he turned to confront her. Unsure how to start off, he stayed silent but she noticed his firm stare directed at her arms.

She tried to brush it off but he would not allow her to. When she shoved up her sleeves and presented her wrists for him to fully inspect, he couldn't help his eyes from widening slightly. Her arms were covered with a patchwork of bruises but he could make out the faint outlines of hand prints. He stiffened when his mind quickly connected the dots about how the bruises had come about. Nevertheless, he wanted to hear her say it and questioned her about it. He couldn't believe the casual way she had dismissed her injuries. They had hurt her!

Realizing he wasn't getting through to her, he dismissed the discussion temporarily in favor of locating the first aid kit that he knew they kept around somewhere. Takashi was a man of action, words were not his forte. So instead of trying to get her to understand that the way the troublesome trio treated her was unbecoming of gentlemen, he instead set about treating her injuries. When she quietly thanked him for his actions, he dismissed it with a pat on her head. But he couldn't deny the inexplicable warmth that filled him upon hearing her express her gratitude to him.

"You've been really deep in thought today Takashi! Your forehead even got kinda scrunchy for a little bit!" his cousin remarked, successfully shaking him out of his thoughts. "Ah," was the only response.


That night his sleep was restless and he awoke the next morning thinking of warm brown eyes and rosy cheeks. He was oddly distracted throughout Thursday. And he continued to be bothered by something through all of school today. Usually, he was grateful for the looming weekend and the repose it afforded him from all the squealing girls. But not today.

Host Club flashed by and he blinked slowly when he noticed the lack of background noise underneath his thoughts. Coming back to his senses, he surveyed the cleared out music room. One of the twins (Hikaru if he was not mistaken) was absorbed by whatever game he was playing on his handheld device; the other was draped over the sofa, watching him play over his shoulder. Kyoya was scribbling in his staple black notebook; Tamaki was adamantly talking to him - not that Kyoya seemed to acknowledge. Takashi then glanced to his left, where Mitsukuni sat happily gorging himself on a rich chocolate cake. The brown of the cake immediately reminded Takashi of a certain cross-dressing female and he looked around once again to find her.

Quickly locating her familiar mop of brown hair, he found her seated on a couch, hunched over some assignment. Seeing how engrossed she was in her studies, Takashi took the time to study the girl. He let his eyes trail over her form. She was truly beautiful. Not in the superficial way the ladies at Ouran flaunted at every chance. Her beauty came from within. Takashi knew that while the other girls at the school might be decked out with diamonds and other precious gems, Haruhi was the one with a heart of pure gold. She was the only female that had ever caught his attention.

When he noticed Haruhi staring back at him, he realized he had been looking at her for far longer than appropriate. He couldn't help it. Something about her was utterly captivating. But it seemed Haruhi did not appreciate his gaze, for she turned and gathered up her belongings when his eyes continued to rest on her after she had returned his stare. She called out to Kyoya, seeking his permission to leave. When he nodded his acquiescence, she waved goodbye to the twins and hurried from the room before Tamaki could register her departure. It was only after she had left - and Tamaki began to wail about his "daughter" abandoning him - that Takashi realized Haruhi had never said goodbye to him. He found it bothered him greatly for some reason. He would have to meditate on it later...

(Unbeknownst to him, another had caught his stare. Glasses flashing against the light, something was marked down in the Shadow King's black notebook).


Meditation and the entirety of the weekend passed without yielding any answers. He still couldn't grasp whatever was just out his reach. Monday came and went and Takashi still couldn't shake the feeling that something was not right. It kept tugging at the back of his mind. It finally hit him in the middle of Host Club Tuesday. The thing that was bothering him was...

Haruhi.

While his thoughts strayed to her often, the two of them actually interacted very little. And recently, that small interaction had been reduced to practically nothing. He attributed being unable to pinpoint what exactly was amiss to the fact that Haruhi was extremely subtle in her avoidance of him. But the longer Takashi thought about it, the more obvious it became to him that Haruhi was slowly decreasing her presence in his life. She had not sat at the lunch table that the Host Club typically occupied since sometime the week before. And besides lunch, the only time he really got to spend around the small girl was Host Club.

He had noticed some time ago that Haruhi's gaze frequently wandered during Host Club. But in the past week, Haruhi's gaze never managed to wander over to him. Sometimes he'd notice her watching Mitsukuni but he never felt the weight of her stare upon him. Something he had hardly noticed until it was no longer there.

Had he done something to offend her in some way?