Chapter 1: The Beginning
Haruhi was at a loss. She found that no matter how hard she thought about it, she just couldn't find a solution. She always had some sort of plan; she assessed the situation and adjusted. It's what she had always done. So why was she drawing a blank on what to do?
Haruhi was not the oblivious fool everyone made her out to be when in came to romance. She simply was focused on her goals and didn't allow herself to be distracted from them. So she allowed Tamaki to entertain the notion of their "daddy-daughter" relationship and let Kaoru deal with his temperamental twin, pretending the whole time to be oblivious as they struggled with their feelings for her. It's not to say that she didn't care. In the time that she'd known them, she had come to love all the boys in the Host Club like family (something she was in quite short supply of before she met them). Just as she had unwittingly opened up their worlds, they'd done the same for her. Sure, she complained endlessly when they dragged her out for another one of their silly schemes or extravagant vacations, but she enjoyed spending time with them nonetheless. Though she did hate how Tamaki and the twins were always trying to dress her in pink frills.
Through her time with the Host Club, she had come to love each and every one of them in some way. And therein lies the problem. Because she loved one of them in a different way, in a bigger way, in a romantic way. And she knew there was no chance he'd ever return her feelings. Her musings were interripted by a sudden chime of her name.
"Haruhi!" the twins shouted.
Letting out a groan, she turned to them, "What?"
Th twins glanced at each other and then back to her, smirking, "We have something we want you to try on!"
Host Club had already ended for the day and everyone had yet to clear out. Haruhi had been straightening up before she got caught up in her thoughts. It had been a long day and she was not in the mood to deal with the twins and whatever skimpy outfit they wanted to stuff her in.
Sighing, she let out a curt "No."
"But Haruhiiiiiiii" they whined.
She shook her head at their whining and gathered her things. Looking around, she let out a satisfied sigh, everything seemed to be orderly enough. It was time for her to make her escape. But before she could, the twins whining was drowned out by a screech.
"How dare you two devils try to coerce my sweet innocent daughter into one of your perverted concotions!" Tamaki screamed.
Before she knew it, she found herself unwillingly a part of another game of Tug-the-Haruhi. She was not in the mood for their horseplay and quickly scanned the room for her usual savior, Mori-senpai. As she looked around, she was not surprised to see Kyoya typing away on his laptop, pretending not to notice her distress. She supposed it was for the best that he never tried to intervene, seeings as he would probably just add on to her ever-increasing debt for the rescue. Looking over her shoulder, her eyes finally rested on Mori, who was, as per usual, at the side of Honey-senpai. The small blonde was chattering enthusiastically about a new bakery in the area and seemed to be in a hurry to leave and go try it out. They were almost at the door when Haruhi finally caught the eye of Mori, but before she could even mouth help, his attention was drawn back to the cake-loving third year by a sharp tug on his slacks. His eyes and attention quickly reverted back to the blonde, and Honey successfully herded him out the door, rambling the entire time about cake.
Haruhi felt her stomach plummet and her eyes prick. Just like that she was reminded why the object of her affections would never possibly return them. Because Mori-senpai belonged at the side of Honey-senpai, and a mere commoner like her could never hope to compete. Trying to focus back in to the situation at hand, she tore her arms away from the twins and Tamaki, their shouts of objection drowned out by the roaring in her eyes, and hastily fled Music Room 3.
Mori would never love her.
On her walk back home Haruhi busied herself by mentally reviewing all the tasks that awaited her at home. She was tired of uselessly pining after someone who would never be hers, but try as she might, she could not force her feelings to magically disappear. She first became aware of her feelings for him at the Ootori Aquatic Park when he had lifted her into his arms and her heart began to beat unnaturally fast. Later, alone in her bed, her mind couldn't help but wander back to the feeling of his strong arms enveloping her and the warm blanket of security that wrapped around her when she was with him.
From there her feelings only seemed to grow with each passing day. But really, what wasn't to love about him? Mori-senpai was kind and considerate. He never interrupted her studies to harass her or forced her to do anything she didn't want to by threatening to increase her debt. He remembered small details, like the fact that she liked strawberries, and wordlessly reassured her when she was feeling upset with a simple pat on the head. Not to mention his stunningly good looks.
Realizing she had arrived at her door, she shook those thoughts from her head and reached into her bag for her keys. She had chores to do and papers to write. She didn't have time to entertain pointless fantasies that would never come to fruition. Mori-senpai was dedicated to Honey-senpai. He thought of her as nothing less than a small girl who occasionally needed to be protected. And his strong sense of honor prevented him from ever failing to come to her aid when she called. That was all. Letting out a deep breath, she got to work, tidying up the barren apartment.
In the Morinozuka dojo...
Takashi couldn't shake the thought of wide brown eyes pleading at him to help. He had been poised and ready to come to Haruhi's aid before his cousin drew his attention away. Takashi just couldn't seem to banish the guilt he felt when he turned his back on her and let Mitsukuni lead him out the door. He had continued to feel uneasy for the rest of the day. Not even training in the dojo seemed to be enough to shake off the lingering feeling of shame. His thoughts were interrupted by a shout.
"Taka-nii! Dinner will be ready soon. You should probably hit the showers." Satoshi, his younger brother, called from the door way. Letting out a grunt of acknowledgement, Takashi gathered his things, quickly looking around to make sure everything was neat and tidy before he left. He showered hastily and threw on some clothes. Before leaving his bedroom, in an effort to disperse his conflicting emotions and collect himself for dinner, he let out a deep breath breath. He needed to remember that his priorities laid with his family. Mitsukuni took first priority over everything else. Watching over his cousin was and always had been his duty. With his mind temporarily cleared, he headed to dinner.
The next afternoon the Host Club had planned an everyday heroes type theme. Kyoya, as an Ootori, was naturally of course dressed as a doctor with a stethoscope resting around his neck. Complementing Kyoya's outfit, Haruhi donned scrubs. The twins had tried to get her into a skimpy nurse outfit which of course had Tamaki screaming at the top of his lungs about his daughter's innocence. Thankfully, Kyoya was able to soothe Tamaki. And after being handed another costume bag by the Shadow King, Haruhi was free to slip into the changing room and get ready to host.
The twins were both dressed as police officers, using their handcuffs for much less honorable things than cuffing criminals. Mori and Honey were both firefighters. Honey's costume practically drowned him, and Usa-chan was tucked under his arm wearing a firefighter helmet. Mori, on the other hand, was shirtless. With his suspenders stretching across his bare chest making him look even more desirable, if it was possible. Many girls had already fainted from the exposure to so much tanned skin. Lastly, the Host Club's King was dressed as a teacher, a pair of fake glasses completing the look. His designators swooned when he whispered promises of the kinds of things he could teach his special princesses. Altogether, the theme promised to be very profitable, much to the delight of the club's vice president.
Throughout the whole afternoon, Haruhi tried her best not to be distracted by the abs that ripped across Mori-senpai's tanned skin. But she was only human and couldn't help the quick glances she'd shoot him out of the corner of her eye when the chance presented itself. She was frustrated by how distracting a shirtless Mori-senpai was proving to be and cursed herself for her inability to keep her emotions in check. She slyly glanced in his direction once more. He was wiping some frosting from Honey-senpai's lips and sensed her eyes on him. Haruhi was embarrassed to find herself staring into steel gray eyes and quickly looked away flustered. She knew her cheeks were probably colored a rosy red, and her suspicion was confirmed when one of the girls sitting around her asked her if she was alright. She assured her that she was fine and managed not to glance towards the table where Honey and Mori sat for the rest of the club.
When the club was called to a close for the day, Haruhi changed back into her school uniform and started to gather all the dishes to wash. They had a dishwasher but Kyoya-senpai insisted that their fine china was too delicate and Haruhi was required to wash it all by hand as part of her duties in paying back her debt. Not that she minded; washing dishes gave her a much needed reprieve from the chaos of the Host Club and allowed her the chance to let her thoughts wander. She startled when a hand grabbed the plate out of her hand and began to dry it.
"Wha-" she cut off when she realized that Mori-senpai had somehow entered the room without her noticing and was now drying the plate for her.
"You don't need to do that Mori-senpai. I'm sure you've got other stuff to do that's more important than drying dishes."
Mori glanced at her and shook his head, taking the next dish from her.
"Seriously, it's fine. You don't need to help me." she assured him.
"I want to." came his short reply.
Haruhi opened her mouth to reply but then thought better of it and continued on with her duties. They worked efficiently, all the while not a word was exchanged between the two. To most, Mori-senpai's silent presence seemed uncomfortable, but Haruhi found it to be rather relaxing. He just had this aura of calm that he exuded, and it always seemed to soothe Haruhi's frazzled nerves.
Before she knew it, all the dishes were washed, dried and returned to their rightful places in the cabinet. She turned to thank the stoic senior but stopped short when she noticed him staring intensely at her arms. She quickly realized what he was looking at and shoved her hands into her pockets.
"Haruhi..." he started, now gazing into her eyes. His face showed nothing but its usual blankness, but if you looked closely at his eyes, you could see that he was clearly troubled by something. Not many besides his cousin were able to decipher the hidden emotions that clouded his pupils but Haruhi could guess what was bothering him.
"It's nothing Mori-senpai," she said briskly and moved to exit the small prep room. But she was stopped by a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"Let me see." he commanded, although his tone was soft.
Haruhi sighed but removed her hands from her pockets, pulled up her sleeves and presented her wrists for him to see. His eyes widened almost unperceivably but Haruhi caught it nonetheless. He gently ran his thumb across her bruised skin and she shivered.
"What happened." he demanded, still staring down at the bruises that decorated the pale flesh of her arms. She tried to pull her arms away but his grip tightened slightly, though not hard enough to hurt her. Sighing she fixed her gaze on the door before answering,
"Tamaki and the twins got a little too rough with their tugging is all. There's no harm done. Not like they ever do it on purpose."
"No harm done..." he echoed unbelievably. "You call this no harm done?"
He pulled away, his posture tense.
"Haruhi, your wrists are purple. How can you say no harm has been done!" he said, frustration coloring his tone.
Haruhi was caught off guard by how agitated he seemed. But before she could reply, he began to rifle around the cabinets, searching for something. Her momentary confusion was dispelled when she saw the white box he set on the counter. Pulling out some cream from the first aid kit, he swiftly unscrewed the cap and gently pulled her arms to him. Her breath hitched when she registered the cool substance on her skin. And she couldn't help but stare silently as he applied the cream to both her wrists with the utmost care. She was snapped out of her shock when she heard the cabinet close and realized that he had finished his tender ministrations.
"I-You didn't need-Thank you Mori-senpai." she finally settled on, refusing to look anywhere but the floor.
A soft "ah" came his reply and she felt his large hand pat her head before he turned and left the room. She stood there for an unknown amount of time before the furious beating of her heart finally calmed.
Hopefully I'm not doing too terrible...
Chapter 3: Barren Soil
In which two love struck fools try to lie to themselves...
The guilt from the previous day came crashing back tenfold after he caught a glimpse of her bruised wrists while helping her clean up. In an attempt to make up for his previous failure to help her, Takashi had decided he would help her clean up after club hours. But when he saw the bruises on her wrists, the feeling of failure had nearly overwhelmed him. He could have prevented the pain that the three had carelessly caused her. It would have hardly taken a minute for him to remove Haruhi from their clutches and set her a safe distance away. But instead he had left her there. Even though her eyes clearly had called out for his help. But he had been doing his duty to Mitsukuni like expected of him. His cousin was the one he was supposed to watch over and protect, even if the small cake fanatic didn't actually need his protection. It was his duty; he was bound by honor and tradition. Except, Mitsukuni would have been fine for the split second it would have taken him to rescue Haruhi from the devious twins and the over exuberant Host Club King. He let out a growl at his inability to quell the turmoil in his mind. Why was he so torn?
Takashi huffed and closed his textbook, knowing he wasn't retaining a single word he read. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to get Haruhi out of his thoughts. Those wide chocolate eyes haunted him not only in his waking hours, but had invaded his dreams recently as well. Takashi was a practical man. He had very little needs and even fewer desires. After all, he was brought up in a manner that dissuaded frivoulous pursuits of pleasure and unnecessary wants. His purpose was to observe and protect. He trained relentlessly and took pride in his Kendo achievements. But those same skills also served him well in his duties to Mitsukuni. He strived to bring honor to his family and make sure his cousin was satisfied and safe. That was what he always did. Thoughts of Haruhi banished for the time being, Takashi drifted off into a restless sleep.
As Haruhi walked to school, she reminded herself of the decision she had reached the night before. After standing in the prep room for a humiliating amount of time in shock, Haruhi had headed home for the day and taken care of all her chores and homework. But that night in bed, her thoughts couldn't help but turn to the wild type member of the Host Club. Frustrated with herself for letting him invade her thoughts once again, she had done her best to think of something else, anything else. But to no avail. He had taken her by surprise when he had helped her clean up and had caught her completely off guard when he tended to her bruises. The gentleness of his actions had done nothing to lessen her crush on him. A crush that was quickly developing into something much more. No... she couldn't be falling for him. Could she?
Turning over in her bed, Haruhi dismissed such a silly notion. She was in her first year of high school. She had dreams and aspirations that needed to be achieved and only would be through extreme dedication to her studies. She had no room for a relationship, no room for love in her meticulously planned out life. Not to mention she had a father to take care of and a debt owed to the Host Club. She had sworn to herself that she would keep her father comfortable when he got older and pay him back for all the hours he had to work to keep them afloat. She really couldn't afford anything else on her plate. Besides, she was confident he held no such affections for her. Mind made up, she promised herself that starting the next day, she would slowly but surely distance herself from Mori-senpai. No more calling out to him for aid, no more furtive glances from across the room, and no more daydreams of him in class.
She had done the best she could to stick to the rules she had established for herself. The only distractions that plagued her in class came from the twins, but she had long since become proficient at blocking them out. And when they tried to drag her out of the classroom for lunch to sit with them at the Host Club's usual table, she had dug her heels in and told them she had work to catch up on. Sensing her stubbornness, they had shrugged and slunk off - most likely to cause mayhem elsewhere. Lunch passed quickly and Haruhi actually got some work done without the twins there to nag her or Tamaki there to comment on how sad it was that she couldn't afford the cafeteria (if you could even call it that) food. She ate her packed bento in peace, something she had not managed to do since she had relented to Kaoru and Hikaru's pleas to join the rest of the guys at the Host Club's lunch table.
The rest of the day passed without a hitch and before she knew it, she was making her way to the Third Music Room. For once she managed to make it there on time, getting the necessary things settled before they opened. The club hours flew by, filled with the incessant chatter of the girls and the usual acts from the Host Club members. After hours she attended to her cleaning duties swiftly. Thankfully, Mori-senpai did not join her in the clean up. Before she knew it, Kyoya dismissed her for the evening and she escaped out the doors without being ensnared by Tamaki or the twins. As she opened the door to her silent apartment, she thought to herself, "Maybe I can actually pull this off."
Sorry this one was so short...
Chapter 4: An Inkling
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...
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?
Chapter 5: A Question Posed And A Realization Made
In which the Shadow King begins to meddle and Takashi comes to a realization...
"Haruhi I need to talk to you before you leave today," Kyoya called from his usual seat, his fingers never faltering as they flew across the keyboard.
"Sure thing Kyoya-senpai," she acknowledged, feeling dread coil in her stomach.
Did he know? Or had he picked up on her recent avoidance of Mori-senpai?
Whatever he wanted to discuss, it probably wasn't good. With a sigh, Haruhi hurried through the rest of her responsibilities and made her way to where Kyoya sat.
"What is it you needed to talk to me about senpai? Haruhi inquired.
Kyoya swiftly closed his laptop and gathered all his belongings. "Would you like a ride home Haruhi?" he said.
Aware that he wasn't actually asking, she shook her head and followed him out the door. Not a word was exchanged between the two until they were safely ensconced within his limo.
"Haruhi," he started, the tint of his glasses not allowing her to see his eyes, "as we are both aware, your addition to the Host Club was one of obligation, not choice."
She nodded in response.
"You owe the club a debt," he continued, "however, soon this will no longer be the case."
"You mean..." she trailed off, hesitantly.
"Yes, you will have soon paid back all the money you owe us. By the end of the month, I calculated, perhaps even sooner," he confirmed.
"Wow, I thought you'd hang my debt over my head until you graduated. Where's the merit in this Kyoya-senpai?" she asked bluntly.
"I just thought you should be made aware of it. I am quite looking forward to the decision you'll reach," he stated mysteriously. Haruhi was about to ask him what he meant by that when he opened his mouth once again. "We've arrived. Do take care."
She jolted when she realized that the limo had in fact come to a stop. Sighing at his unspoken dismissal, Haruhi took the hand that was offered to her and stepped out of the limo. The driver bid her good day and the limo had already pulled away before all the pieces clicked into place. Kyoya was unsure whether or not she would stay a part of the Host Club without her debt looming over her. Giving her a lift home was simply his way of testing the waters, trying to feel out what her decision would be when the time came. But why was he even allowing her the option? He could just continue to add on to her debt for minuscule things that weren't her fault like he'd done in the past. Confused, Haruhi slowly made her way up to her apartment. She pondered the unspoken question he had poised. Would she stay?
She had not planned on leaving the Host Club until she graduated, but that was because she had assumed the boys would never give her the chance to. And now that the option had presented itself, she couldn't help but think about what her life would be like with them no longer dragging her around everywhere. She'd have a lot more time to study and maybe relax for a change. While the thought seemed appealing, she also knew she'd miss them. They had become her closest friends, practically her family.
But on the other hand, the new distance she'd imposed between her and Mori-senpai was painful when she still had to sit in a room watching him dote on Honey-senpai for hours. Maybe leaving the club would do her some good? After all she knew she couldn't keep pining after him like this forever.
What if this was the only way to get over him?
Takashi felt something distinctly uncomfortable settle in his gut as he watched Kyoya and Haruhi walk out together. It almost felt like... jealousy. But why would he be jealous of Kyoya?
He came to a realization quite suddenly. Oh what a fool he was, for it to have taken him this long to realize. Well he supposed he shouldn't have been too surprised. After all, he had only noticed that Haruhi was a girl when he picked her up and felt the feminine curves of her body. No wonder Haruhi's avoidance of him had him so troubled. It was because... because he loved her.
For such a sudden realization, he was certain that it was the truth. His love for her had grown so slowly, so quietly, that he had not even registered the change in his heart till it was far too late to do anything about it. Yes, Morinozukas were not indecisive people. His feelings for Haruhi would not fluctuate or waver; he would stand firm in his love for her, just as he did in everything else. He would love her for the rest of his days. Even if it was from afar. His heart would now and forever more, belong to her.
Though she was so dense in all things romantic that he doubted she would ever realize it. In fact, with the way that she was pulling away from him, he might be losing the tentative friendship he had developed with the petite girl.
Hmm, he would have to remedy that. And soon, before she slipped away from him entirely. With that decision, the turmoil in his mind settled, and he felt as if a great weight had been lifted off of him. Apparently his subconscious had long ago accepted that Haruhi had ensnared him, and was simply waiting for him to catch up. His mind unburdened and a new resolve firmly in place, he stood and turned to help Mitsukuni gather all his things so that they could head home for the day. He had a plan to come up with.
I'm not sure how much I liked this chapter. I'm still a little uncomfortable when it comes to dialogue. But hope you guys enjoyed...
Chapter 6: Troubled Waters
Kyoya approached him the next morning before classes began. Mitsukuni was meeting up with some of the Karate Club members to spar and give some pointers, so he was all alone for the moment.
"Ah, yes Mori-senpai, there you are. I've been meaning to speak to you," Kyoya remarked, looking not at all surprised to see him. Takashi turned to face him as a sign that the younger man had his attention.
"I've noticed you've been more silent and withdrawn then normal during club hours. While normally I wouldn't comment because Honey keeps our guests entertained quite well, due to some approaching uncertain circumastances, I would like you to try to be a bit more attentive to your guests from now on. Your style of hosting is the closest to that of our natural host and I want Haruhi's customers to feel comfortable turning to you," Kyoya stated.
Takashi merely raised an eyebrow.
Kyoya twisted to open his bag and took out his black notebook, flipping to a page.
"If my calculations are correct, Haruhi will have successfully paid off her debt by the end of the month or maybe even sooner. Before I was confident she would remain in the club. Now, I am not so sure. Thus, I must ensure that should she leave, profits don't fall. If she is no longer serving as a host, you will make the most suitable substitute to take on her usual clients," Kyoya explained like he was conducting some sort of business meeting.
Takashi's thoughts had begun to race the moment Kyoya brought up Haruhi leaving the club. He felt vaguely sick at the thought of no longer seeing her sitting in her usual spot, lending a compassionate ear to the girls who designated with her.
"Mori-senpai, did you get all that?" Kyoya queried.
Feeling frantic all of a sudden, Takashi gave him a stiff nod before stalking away from the young Ootori. In his hurry, he missed the smirk that flashed across the Shadow King's face before his cool mask of indifference slid back in place. All he knew was that he needed to talk to Haruhi. He had almost made it to her classroom when the school bell sounded. Sighing, he turned around and headed towards his class. Talking to Haruhi would have to wait till after Host Club then.
Sitting through class had been hellish. He was sure his notes were atrocious because he barely heard a word in his lessons all day. He wasn't worried, he would just get the notes from Mitsukuni. No, he had something far more important on his mind. Like what he would do if Haruhi left the Host Club and he no longer had an excuse to bask in her presence. No longer had an excuse to watch her, or pull her into his arms, or pat her incredibly soft hair. That uncomfortable feeling in his gut resurfaced.
No she wouldn't quit the Host Club. Would she?
Takashi had to admit that he was surprised she had been able to put up with them for this long. He understood the desire to right a wrong, to pay back a debt owed. But honestly, they could have easily absorbed the cost of the broken vase with the combined riches of their very prominent families at their disposal. Originally, they had simply wanted to toy with the poor commoner. But he now knew that Haruhi was a very intelligent young woman. She had changed them all, for the better. He was sure that if she really wanted to, she could have left the club a long time ago. He had no doubt she'd be able to find a way to come up with the money somehow. So why did she stay?
"Ne, ne Takashi would you like some cake?" Mitsukuni asked.
Realizing he hadn't been paying nearly enough attention to his cousin during Host Club as he should be, Takashi nodded. Honey cheered, happy that he had indulged him. Mitsukuni was aware that Takashi wasn't partial to sweet things. After eating a few bites of the cake Mitsukuni had placed in front of him, Takashi refilled the girls' cups and wiped some icing off Mitsukuni's cheek. His role as the wild type successfully carried out, the girls broke out in cries of "MOE!" and whispered excitedly to each other about his actions and Mitsukuni's cuteness.
Without the presence of Haruhi, he would simply go back to existing. Mechanically going through the motions of what was expected of him, day in and day out. No, he couldn't lose her. If he did, the world would fade back into monotone, back to dull gray. She was the one who breathed life into him. The person who made him realize that he had an identity outside of Mitsukuni's caretaker. Haruhi made him feel like Morinozuka Takashi mattered. She had proved to him that others would like him just the way he was, without Mitsukuni by his side. She liked him as he was. Haruhi didn't just tolerate his presence as a package deal with Mitsukuni. And that, that fact had turned his whole world upside down. It had given him a new perspective on life. And he wanted nothing more than to show Haruhi that her faith in him hadn't been mistaken. He wanted to show her how much he loved her.
Turning to Mitsukuni, he said softly, "Mitsukuni, I can't come home with you today."
Mitsukuni looked surprised at his sudden statement, but his expression quickly morphed into a pout.
"But Takashi! I wanted to play with you and eat more cake!" he whined.
"Tomorrow," was Takashi's only reply.
Something glinted in Mitsukuni's eyes but it was gone before Takashi could identify it.
"Fine," Mitsukuni pouted, "Guess it'll just be me and you then Bun-Bun."
The sad look on Mitsukuni's face prompted the girls to assure him that they would play with him, shoving more cake in his direction, and Mitsukuni quickly recovered the cute expression he normally wore. But Takashi could tell it was just an act. Nevertheless, he had to speak with Haruhi today. He could make it up to Mitsukuni tomorrow. His resolve firm, Takashi turned to te clock, willing the tie to pass quicker.
After what seemed like an eternity, Host Club was finally over. It was time to make his move. Mitsukuni, still upset with him, raced out of the room the moment the club ended, not even giving him a glance goodbye. It hurt a little but Takashi knew that Mitsukuni would get over it fairly quickly and then they'd be fine. So, he brused it off and fixed his attention on Haruhi. She was tidying the room just like she did everyday after hours, but she seemed to be in a hurry for some reason.
Knowing how clumsy she was and seeing the look of intense concentration on her face, Takashi thought it best not to approach the girl quite yet. He didn't want to scare her and cause her to accidentally break something in her fright; he knew that there was a high chance she would, so he sat and continued to watch her instead. She was such a small little thing but she was so fierce too. She had this deep well of determination and so much mental fortitude. Takashi admired her greatly for that.
But as she finished up her duties, he couldn't help but feel concerned. Her intense concentration on cleaning had given him a lot of time to study her and what he saw alarmed him. Haruhi was pale, but more so than usual. The bags under her eyes were very pronounced and her uniform seemed a little looser on her. Had she been eating properly? And how about sleeping?
In short, she didn't look so hot.
"Haruhi," someone called softly.
She looked around for the source of the voice and was shocked to see Mori-senpai standing a couple feet away from her. He looked troubled. Trying not to appear as panicked as she felt, she picked up her bag and turned in his direction.
"Is there something I can help you with Mori-senpai?" she questioned, wanting to cut straight to the chase and keep the conversation as short as possible.
"Are you okay?" he asked, staring at her so intensely she felt like he was peering into her very soul.
"Oh yeah of course! Nothing to worry about Mori-senpai," she assured him, well at least she hoped she came off as reassuring.
He did not look convinced.
She inched towards the doors, "If that'll be all, I'll be leaving then senpai."
"Let me walk you home," he responded.
Internally panicking, she shook her head, "There's no need. Really Mori-senpai I'll be just fine."
"Why are you avoiding me?"
She looked up sharply at that, "Err what are you talking about Mori-senpai? I haven't been avoiding you. Not at all."
His gaze sharpened further, "Haruhi, you're not a very good liar."
She knew that her cheeks were probably screaming out that he was right but she couldn't do anything about the blush covering her face.
"I'm gonna go," she said before turning on her heel and dashing out the music room. She couldn't hear if he replied or not over the roaring in her ears. Feeling tears well up in her eyes, she ran as fast as she could.
Run faster run hurry
The mantra looped endlessly in her head egging her on.
She didn't stop until she felt like she was about to collapse. Gasping for breath, she doubled over placing her hands on her knees, desperately trying to swallow up as much air as she could.
"Haruhi!" she heard someone shout distantly.
Alarmed that Mori-senpai was still on her tail, she shot back up intent on running away once more. But she tripped in her hurry to get away. As her body came in contact with the hard cement, she hissed.
"Haruhi!" his voice came again. She could hear the panic in his voice and the pain she felt was briefly overwhelmed by the sudden guilt she felt for putting it there. Tears once again spilled frmo her eyes and she didn't know if they were due to the pain in her heart or the pain from the fall. But her wrist was aching fiercely and she wished the ground would just swallow her up.
Everything was too much. The pain shooting through her was unbearable and the world around her seemed completely deafening and utterly nauseating. She was hyper aware of the warm liquid trickling down her knees and sticking to her uniform. Everything was too loud, too bright. Her mouth was incredibly dry and it felt like someone was sitting on her chest. Some part of her registered that Mori was still calling her name, but the rest of her was too focused on trying to catch her breath. Oh god, she couldn't breathe.
Suddenly the whole world let out a shriek and right before everything went dark, she heard a distorted voice scream, "Someone call 119! He needs an ambulance!"
Ooo what's happen to the poor couple now hmm? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Chapter 8: ...Comes Crashing Down
It's that time ladies and gentlemen... time to bring on the angst
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
His talk with Haruhi did not go at all how he wanted it to. Sure he didn't think everything would go perfectly as planned but he didn't think the girl would flee from him for goodness sake!
The moment she had turned and sprinted off (she was surprisingly fast) he had grabbed his bag and darted after her. He almost lost sight of her multiple times in his haste to catch up to her. She was so small. And it was hard to duck out of the way of all the people in the street and keep up with her at the same time. Being so tall wasn't always an advantage, especially at the moment. But he manged to stay with her throughout their impromptu chase. And then she had fallen...
He had heard her choke on a sob the moment she had turned away from him but now her breath was coming out in harsh pants. His heart ached at the thought of her pain. He had to get to her and calm her down. He would do anything to get that pained expression off her face. He wanted, no he needed, to figure out what had caused her to run away from him. And he could tell from the way she was clutching her wrist close to her side that she needed some medical attention too.
Perhaps it was this desperation that caused him to forgo looking both ways as he raced across the street to her. In his single-minded pursuit of Haruhi, he had managed to completely block out the world around him. He failed to hear the shouts of those around him and the loud honk of a car. No, it was all lost to him. The only thing running through his head was the desperate desire to get to Haruhi. She was so close... if he could just reach her.
And then suddenly, his side was on fire and he was on the ground. All the sounds that had previously fallen on deaf ears were now horribly loud and the world, glaringly bright. Distantly, he heard a woman shouting oh my god oh my god oh my god and a man screaming about an ambulance. He could no longer see Haruhi and every nerve in his body was screaming at him in protest of any movement. Something in the back of his mind was telling him that he needed to stay awake. But he couldn't be bothered to listen to that voice. And as the darkness closed in on his already blurred vision, his only thought was...
I hope she's okay
When Haruhi returned to awareness, she was in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room. But before she could start panicking, she realized from the beeping of the machines around her, that she was in a hospital room. Forcing herself to keep taking deep breaths and rationally assess the situation, she took a better look around her surroundings. It was a fairly standard room, nothing extravagant about it. That observation in itself calmed her slightly. She must be alright then. If not, Tamaki and the twins would have gone into hysterics and demanded only the best care for her and the fanciest hospital room. But the absence of said friends did concern her. What happened?
Before her thoughts could spiral into a less than pleasant direction, she heard the click of the door and her attention was immediately diverted towards the figure standing in the doorway.
"Kyoya," she whispered uncertainly. He looked exhausted. His hair was disheveled, probably from running his fingers through it too many times, and his tie was crooked. He looked marginally relieved to see her awake but still weighed down. Just what had happened?
While her eyes were raking over his appearance, Kyoya had stepped fully inside the room and closed the door behind him. He made his way over to her bedside and grabbed the clipboard on the small table beside her.
"How are you feeling?" he questioned.
Not giving her the time to reply, he continued on, "Your charts indicate that you suffered from a panic attack before losing consciousness. You badly sprained your wrist and you have some minor abrasions and contusions as well. You also somehow managed to bruise your ribs too. Although even more troubling, the doctors noticed signs of malnourishment and a lack of sleep. Something that we shall definitely address Haruhi. But at a later time."
His dark eyes pierced into her as he listed off her ailments and Haruhi once again felt overwhelmed at the situation she had awoken to. Something must have given her away because Kyoya's eyes softened and he clasped one of her hands in his. Shocked by his initiated physical contact, her eyes shot up to his.
"Haruhi I know this must be a lot for you right now and I promise I'll explain everything to the best of my abilities but for now there's something more important that I think you'll want to be made aware of," he stated softly.
Still looking into his eyes, she nodded for him to continue.
"There's no easy way to say this to you," he started and she tensed, bracing for whatever horrible news was about to be relayed to her.
"Mori-senpai was in an accident. To be precise, he was struck by a car while running across the road. From what eyewitnesses recount, he was chasing after you. I am unsure about the situation that led up to these events but he was quickly rushed to the hospital. You were collapsed on the sidewalk and were also brought here as well," he told her, his voice never faltering.
The second Haruhi heard Mori and an accident in the same sentence, the air had rushed from her lungs and cold dread washed over her. She forced herself to focus on what Kyoya was saying instead of simply breaking down in tears. With each passing second, she had found it harder and harder to breathe. The memories rushing back to her as Kyoya continued his speech. When he concluded, Haruhi realized that she was shaking.
Kyoya seemed to be aware of this as well because he squeezed her hand gently in reassurance. In reassurance of what, she didn't know. How could she feel any semblance of reassurance when she was well aware that this was all her fault? She was startled from her stupor by a sudden dampness on her uniform pant leg and she became aware of the fact that she was crying. She hastily scrubbed the tears from her eyes and moved to get up. Kyoya looked mildly alarmed at the turn of events but nonetheless helped her stand.
"Just what do you think you're doing?" he asked.
Brushing off his question, she looked around for her shoes as she was still dressed in her school uniform. After spotting them, she quickly slid them on and turned back to Kyoya.
"You're going to take me to see Mori-senpai and fill me in on the rest of the details as we walk. So shall we?" her tone leaving no room for argument.
Already halfway out the door, she motioned for him to follow her. Kyoya's lips pursed but he didn't demand that she get back into the bed that instant so Haruhi counted it as a win. Letting him guide her through the long corridors of the hospital, Haruhi turned to Kyoya, eyebrows raised. Even though her heart was aching something fierce and she felt something akin to the sensation of drowning, she forced herself to push that all aside when she addressed him.
"So what's the situation, Mr. Shadow King?"
I know I'm horrible sorry lol. So should I drag out the angst even more or tie everything up in a nice little bow? Let me know in the comments. As I don't quite know where I'm going with this story... I really appreciate all the wonderfully nice comments I've gotten and the kudos too. Thanks guys!
Chapter 9: Fallout
Sorry for the wait. Still trying to sort out where I'm taking this story
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kyoya quickly explained to her that the other members of the club were unaware that she had been injured in any way. As far as they were concerned, she'd simply been there when the accident had occurred. They had been led to believe that Haruhi was being checked over as a mandatory hospital policy or however Kyoya had originally spun it. She asked that Kyoya please keep it that way; he had just quirked his eyebrow in response and shrugged it off. He went on to tell her that Mori's condition was still unknown and his parents had yet to arrive. All in all, Haruhi felt pretty apprehensive about facing the other members of the club. And she felt wildly unprepared for seeing Mori in a hospital bed. He was such a strong silent presence that she couldn't fathom him laying motionless in a hospital bed. Mori-senpai and frail were not two synonymous words.
"-ruhi!" Kyoya called. She snapped back to reality to see Kyoya looking at her somewhat impatiently.
"Sorry Kyoya-senpai, what was that?" she said, quite aware that he knew she'd spaced out on him.
"I said that they're just around this corner and that I suggest you prepare yourself to be bombarded by the imbeciles that make up the rest of the Host Club."
Haruhi nodded distractedly at Kyoya's attempt at acting like everything was business as usual and drew in a deep breath. She knew her hands were still trembling so she shoved them into her pockets before taking a step around the corner. She felt her heart pang at the sight before her. Tamaki was slumped over in one of the stiff hospital chairs, head buried in his hands. Kaoru and Hikaru sat on the floor, leaning against each other, deathly silent and still for once. And finally, her eyes fell on Honey, Usa-chan clutched tightly against him, staring vacantly at the wall. The look on the young martial artist's face was so drastically different from his usual cheery demeanor and Haruhi was once again filled with guilt. She was directly responsible for that despondent look after all. It was her fault that Mori was in this hospital to begin with.
Beside her Kyoya cleared his throat and four pairs of eyes were immediately on her. The twins sprung up at the sight of her and Hikaru, in a much more subdued tone than usual, asked her if she was alright. She was trying to form some semblance of an answer when her attention was diverted to the small senior approaching her. Honey-senpai said nothing as he slid off his chair and made his way to her; Haruhi's heart ached even more at the sight, if that was even possible. He peered up at her, Usa-chan still firmly in his grasp,
"Ne, Haru-chan. Is Takashi going to be okay?"
Such a simple question, yet such a complicated answer. Overwhelmed she sunk down onto her knees (not noticing the alarmed expressions that crossed the faces of the boys around her) forcing herself to look at the one in front of her. She felt her eyes prick as she made eye contact with the small martial artist and she managed to choke out an, "I don't know Honey-senpai."
Apparently that had been the wrong answer because Honey's face screwed up like he had just eaten something sour. His tone much sharper than before when he replied,
"What do you mean you don't know? You were there weren't you!"
"I'm sorry Honey-senpai but I really don't know."
Picking up on the tremble in her voice, Kyoya took a step forward placing himself between the two.
"I know we are all deeply troubled by the situation we have found ourselves in but let us not cause anymore undue despair to one another.""
Honey growled in response to Kyoya's words and Haruhi felt an emotion she never thought she'd associate with the blonde: fear. She scrambled off the floor and took a step back. Honey took one forward.
"She was there. She knows what happened and I want some answers!" Honey challenged, his voice rising with each word.
"I'm so sorry Honey-senpai. It's all my fault," Haruhi said softly.
At that, Honey's face turned red.
"I HATE YOU!" he exclaimed, expression livid.
Tears clouded Haruhi's vision as he continued his rant, "I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN! LEAVE! LEAVE RIGHT THIS INSTANT!"
Haruhi took a step backwards and then another. As she turned to flee, she heard him shout, "AND DON'T COME BACK!"
I know Honey's response might seem a bit extreme to some. But when he got a cavity, he told Mori that he hated him. I figured if that's how he dealt with Mori denying him sweets, he'd react even stronger to his best friend being in the hospital and not knowing what was gonna happen to him
A uneasy silence blanketed the group after Haruhi made her hasty retreat. The twins glanced at each other, engaging in some sort of telepathic conversation. Whatever the two concluded left them both with tight lips and a pursed brow. For once, the group's grand leader also seemed to be at a loss regarding what exactly they should do. Tamaki alternated between staring down the hall Haruhi had run down and failing to shoot discreet glances at Honey. After his diatribe had ceased, the small blonde had simply retreated back to his previously held seat and continued to stare unseeingly at the wall.
"Well that was a bit much, don't you think?" Kyoya commented, breaking the silence that hung over the bunch. They all turned toward Honey, who didn't reply or even blink for that matter. Kyoya took a deep breath before quietly exhaling, "Well I'll be off then."
"Wait a second!" one of the twins called.
"Aren't you going to stick around to hear about Mori-senpai?" the other finished.
"No," the Shadow King answered coolly, "I have other things to attend to at the moment. Furthermore, this is my family's hospital. Any news regarding Mori-senpai's condition will be shared with me the minute it is known."
With that he walked off, unbeknown to the rest of the group, to locate Haruhi.
Haruhi, after calming down a bit, was aimlessly wandering the hospital. She wasn't sure if she was allowed to leave or not. After all, she had never gotten the chance to speak to the doctor since she had not been conscious when she arrived at the hospital. She had no desire to go back to her room where Kyoya would undoubtedly be waiting for her to return. She figured that they had been brought to an Ootori hospital so he would have no problem locating her but it probably wouldn't be worth his time to personally seek her out. He could always have an announcement made over the intercom. But the others were still probably in the hospital, so that was out. Kyoya most likely would have someone else fetch her for him then. With that in mind, Haruhi continued on; it was best to keep moving in situations like these.
She really couldn't stand hospitals. They were full of people having some of the worst days of their lives. A building filled with so much anguish and helplessness. Haruhi had watched her mother unsuccessfully battle her illness in dreary white hospital rooms. Watched plenty of doctors shake their head slowly and saw her father break down into sobs more times than she cared to count. And she once again found herself confined within these tear-soaked walls, this time with Mori-senpai's life on the line. If something happened to him, she'd never forgive herself.
Shaking herself from such thoughts, Haruhi realized that she had reached the ground floor of the hospital somehow. She glanced once at the doors, yearning for nothing more than the ability to run away and never return. Instead, she turned and walked towards the gift shop. She had been wearing her bag when she had originally fled from Mori-senpai and when she had awoken, it had been on the chair in her room. She probably had enough money to purchase a small get better soon gift for Mori-senpai. She scanned the shelves and her eyes zeroed in on the price of a simple stuffed bear. Yup, definitely an Ootori hospital.
Sighing, she headed for the clearance section of the store, hoping to find something more reasonably priced there. She walked past the flowers, thinking briefly that they'd be more suited for Tamaki. Then continued on past the assortment of stuffed animals. Next came the various games and coloring books. Her eyes briefly lingered on the different gift baskets but they all fell outside of her price range, clearance or not. Haruhi was beginning to feel more and more hopeless by the minute, would nothing go her way on this terrible day?
Finally, her gaze was drawn to an item sitting on the very bottom shelf. It was perfect. A small smile graced her lips as she held it up for further inspection. Yes, it would definitely do. It wasn't much. It had come from the clearance section after all, but Haruhi felt slightly lighter knowing that she had found a gift well-suited for Mori-senpai. And one she could afford too.
Sorry that I haven't updated in a bit and that this is so short. I'm still in the process of trying to figure out where to take this story or possibly wrapping it up. Leave a kudos or a comment to tell me what you think...