It's been two days since the incident between Chizuru and her father. Kyoya couldn't help but wonder why she was acting normal. It didn't make sense to him that someone who fought strongly for equality between the sexes didn't do anything. Was her exterior just a front? Did she have any ulterior motives? Was she so good at hiding her true intentions that even he couldn't sense it? Thoughts like this ran through his mind because he couldn't fully grasp the situation which was unlike him.
What he couldn't understand was how Chizuru managed to personally know most of the employees of the boat. The longer he observed her, the more he realized how lacking her dossier was. She wasn't like Tamaki and the twins who created chaos wherever they went, but she immersed herself in it to a fault.
The number of tourists swarming around them was already making him feel claustrophobic. The scent of sweat and noisy tourists wearing sandals and Hawaiian shirts to one of the largest cathedrals in Italy perplexed him. Even with their influence, they couldn't fully ask all the tourists to leave in all areas so they had no choice but to be mixed along the crowd for certain parts of the tour.
"Maihara-san, would you like to stop and rest?" Kyoya said courteously and hid his discomfort.
Chizuru shook her head without even looking at him as she went through one section of the museum after another. They followed the private tour group
"On you're right, you can see the tapestries dating all the way to the 1600's." The tour guide mentioned. "If you'll continue to follow this path…"
Kyoya was barely listening at this point. It wasn't their first time here, but his mother and Chizuru's grandmother wanted to see the Vatican once more.
"You're not a fan or religious art, Ootori-san?" Chizuru suddenly asked as she stood close to him.
Kyoya examined the gargantuan painting that spanned from one end of the wall to another. "It's not that I don't appreciate it. The quality and technique is certainly commendable, but…"
"But it all looks the same at one point?"
He didn't answer that statement. There was plenty of truth to it, but he couldn't possibly say something that disrespectful in foreign territory.
"You know, there's a nice restaurant not too far from here. I doubt they would notice us leaving." Chizuru whispered as she gestured at him to follow her.
It seems like she knew the place well and found one of the exits that lead to a side street. He followed her closely as they passed from one alley after another carefully avoiding the tourist infested areas. There were people on vespas passing closely by them. A brief scene of a mother holding her grown son by the ear and scolding him and lovers who were kissing in one of the more secluded areas. The shops became suddenly much smaller now and there were no tourists in the area.
"How many times have you been to Italy?" Kyoya asked.
"Eight or nine times?" Chizuru looked back and smiled. "Ah, we're here."
It was a small restaurant with pale yellow walls that have aged along with its owner. It looked like those family owned restaurants that have been around for at least three generations. Even the interiors have remained the same. Kyoya opened the door and they were escorted to their seats.
Being stuck in a cruise, forces people to get to know one another on a different pace. In the two days they've been stuck together, Chizuru noticed three things. First, Kyoya had quite the appetite, but he was far too mindful of his actions to let it show. Second, he had a certain look when he observed people. It was like as if he knew something that others didn't which was most likely the case. Third, was…
"You think I can predict your thoughts?" Kyoya suddenly asked.
Chizuru stiffened. He proved himself yet again. "How do you do it, Ootori-san? I've never met anyone with that kind of…skill."
Kyoya sipped his water. It was almost unsettling how much questions Chizuru asked about him. He wasn't sure if she was sizing him up or if it was just out of sheer curiosity. He leaned forward and his lips turned slightly upward.
"I observe people."
It was a clear statement, but Chizuru still couldn't grasp it. She wasn't the type who saw through people fully. "I noticed that too, but it feels like you're playing a game with yourself. I couldn't understand it myself."
Kyoya's initial hypothesis that Chizuru was a mellowed down version of Tamaki was scrapped. She wasn't an idiot. She didn't see through others with extreme accuracy but was the opposite. She let things unfold slowly and took it as is. She carefully extracted information from others and put two and two together.
"You're like that jigsaw puzzle my cousin got for me last Christmas." Chizuru had a nostalgic expression that quickly turned sour. "He got me a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that formed a blank page. All the pieces were white. No one could possibly solve something like that."
The food arrived and suddenly, the woman's attention was shifted to the food in front of them. Naturally, she started talking about the food. Kyoya found himself genuinely enjoying the discussion. If there was something Kyoya had to commend, it was how great of a conversationalist Chizuru was. She's able to talk about virtually anything without overwhelming others.
"Ootori-san, is it fine if I start calling you by your name?"
Kyoya nodded briefly. He was just surprised with the sudden request. "It would be my pleasure. How do you wish to be addressed, Maihara-san?"
"Just call me by my name. And will you stop talking to me like I'm some kind of business client?" Chizuru sighed. "But I guess I kind of am, right? Did your father ask you to follow me?"
"He did." Kyoya replied as he held his cup. There was no point in lying. He was about to drink, but now he wasn't so sure how Chizuru would react to this.
The laugh that came out of her perplexed him even more. He looked up and watched her snickering on his expense.
"I realized that yesterday when we went through one store after another." Chizuru sniggered. The memory of her shopping spree and her poor escort came into mind. "Even I could tell you wanted to die halfway."
"What I couldn't understand was how you could differentiate all those shades of nude." Kyoya jibed. He knew the colors theoretically and could identify it in groups of two or three, but twenty shades were too much. No matter how much he looked, it was still just nude colored heels.
"Those shoes were a steal. I didn't have it in that shade." Chizuru scoffed. "That's why I offered to help you choose a pair. You don't seem to know any other color except brown, white, black, and grey. I think you'd look nice in something like royal blue or patterns."
Kyoya cleared his throat. It's not that he wasn't fashionable, but he just preferred more subdued colors and classic styles. He was about to defend himself, but she didn't even give him the opportunity to speak.
"You dress up like your brothers." Chizuru finished the remains of her pizza. "You three dress like your mother picked all your clothes for you guys. It's like your father's style which is almost well…old."
Kyoya sat there in silence. He didn't realize how much he and his brothers dressed similarly until now. He didn't bother on noticing such a trivial thing.
"I know that maybe the girls who chose you as a host would prefer that kind of style, but it doesn't bring out your best features." Chizuru pursed her lips to one side and looked at him. "You're the type that needs an accent. Like a certain pop of color to break the monotony or go totally monochrome."
"I am quite satisfied with the way I dress, Chizuru." Kyoya's smile started to strain. He didn't like where this was going.
"I know you are, but will you be satisfied with not looking like your best?" Chizuru played the only card she had. "Are you willing to be just slightly above average in that aspect?"
Kyoya was a perfectionist by nature and the thought of above average bothered him. Somehow, he found himself being dragged to one shop after another. He didn't plan on buying any new clothes since he has more than enough back home, but Chizuru strongly suggested that he get a fresh look. They came back to the boat that day with more than enough clothes to last him the entire trip. He had to put a limit or else Chizuru would have gotten enough for a year.
"I told you it would work." Chizuru gave a thumbs up to her new work of art. "You look like an actor. The glasses though are a good accessory to your look."
Kyoya found himself responding to Chizuru more openly. "The royal blue jacket was something I was quite surprised with."
"Right? I was sure the other girls were staring at you when we were having breakfast."
It was the sixth day of the cruise and the two decided to have lunch at the other restaurants in the ship. There were no stops today and they were in the middle of the Mediterranean. Somehow, they found themselves having lunch at a fast food style restaurant on another area of the ship that offered wagyu beef burgers and fries.
Chizuru looked at Kyoya questioningly. "I didn't expect you to like burgers so much. You didn't seem like the type to enjoy this."
"I was quite surprised myself." Kyoya wiped the corners of his mouth. "The first time I had this was with Haruhi, but the quality of the food was different."
"You were too prideful to admit you liked it at that time and pretended to find it satisfactory." Chizuru had a mischievous smile.
Kyoya pushed his glasses. "I don't understand what you're implying."
"Haruhi told me the story already." Chizuru dismissed. "She said you looked like you were forced to eat it out of hunger. The Ootori pride must be something to behold." She shook her head slowly as she said the last statement.
"She even told me about the beach incident." She suddenly gave him a quick look of contempt. She shook her head slowly in disapproval. "I didn't think you were that kind of guy."
"How is it that Haruhi is so fond of you?" Kyoya hoped to gain control of the conversation. He didn't expect his underclassman to tell every single bit of detail to her. It wasn't like Haruhi to be so chatty.
"How do you see Haruhi?" Chizuru rested her chin on her hands. There wasn't any malice in her words. It was all pure curiosity.
He pushed his glasses up. "She's merely a classmate and someone who's part of the same club."
"I know, but how do you see her as a girl?"
Kyoya wasn't feeling too comfortable with where the conversation was going. He was well aware of his feelings towards Haruhi, but he couldn't act on it. He couldn't let anyone else know this.
Chizuru took a deep breath. "Let me rephrase that. How would you describe her as a person?"
"She's logical, independent, and is highly intellectual." Kyoya felt like he dodged a bullet, but his composure remained intact. No cracks or holes to show his weakness.
"Right?" Chizuru nodded. "So, I couldn't understand why you guys were furious with why she acted to protect your guests before calling for help."
"We only cared about her safety back then." Kyoya placed his hands together.
"Which is understandable." Chizuru saw the root cause of it. She spoke with a certain sense of understanding. "I don't blame you guys for reacting that way, but have you considered that maybe instead of always being there to protect Haruhi, it would be better to teach her how to do it herself?"
"Yes, but we weren't..." Kyoya stopped mid-sentence. He was blinded by his own thoughts that he didn't see it in that light. He realized their mistake.
Chizuru smiled when she knew he understood. "Tamaki will surely bring her into our world and we know how vicious it can get. You guys won't always be there to protect her."
That was the core of Chizuru's ideals in life and it reflected in most of her actions. Kyoya found himself admiring that now. In the short span of time, he's learned a lot about plenty of things.
He was also aware that Chizuru and Haruhi saw each other regularly. It came to a point that Haruhi even attended a Zuka Club event. Based on his sources, the two saw each at least once every two weeks. Chizuru accompanied Haruhi with her daily errands and would spend the afternoon with the Fujiokas. This woman genuinely cared for Haruhi and she understood that not everyone is as open minded with the thought of a Suoh having a "commoner" partner. Chizuru's sentiments told Kyoya more than enough. She wasn't naive or sheltered, but she wasn't the scheming type as well.
"How is she so fond of you? Tamaki was even jealous at some point." Kyoya repeated his unanswered question. He never mentioned how the Host King spied on the two as they went around doing regular everyday activities. Tamaki sulked for days because his daughter didn't look that happy when he accompanied her to the grocery.
"I don't invade her space like you guys." Chizuru looked at Kyoya and wondered why he didn't understand. "I don't mean to offend you, but you guys think you understand women."
There was this pause as Chizuru tried to formulate her thoughts properly. "I think this is especially true for Suoh-san. He's placing an ideal on Haruhi and it's like he's expecting her to be that person in his head without her knowing what that is."
Kyoya almost snickered. Almost. "That is exactly the case."
"That and Haruhi told me it was draining to be with Tamaki and the twins." Chizuru said as she tried to reach the straw of her milkshake using her mouth.
"I have to agree with her." Kyoya leaned against his chair. "Dealing with Tamaki takes a certain level of patience."
"How did you end up forming a Host Club with Tamaki? I doubt you broke a vase or something." Chizuru crooked her head to one side.
"Because it was a drastic idea in itself." Kyoya reiterated.
Chizuru looked at him with an expression that had more questions that needed answers. Their pleasant lunch suddenly turned differently when Chizuru's father entered the restaurant. Luckily, the man and his mistress didn't notice the two teens.
The upper class had a terrible way of treating mistresses. Certain people had a way of reminding people they didn't belong. The woman longed for some familiarity by eating at a more relaxed environment. Kyoya watched in Chizuru eavesdrop without any sense of shame.
"Chizuru-" Kyoya was suggesting that they leave discreetly, but Chizuru had other plans.
"Shhh…. they're arguing already." Chizuru ordered a plate of nachos just to justify their extended stay in the restaurant. She may hate her father, but it didn't stop her from snooping around.
Kyoya could hear them fighting over the dinner the other night. Apparently, Yukio's mistress didn't know that he was still married. She also didn't expect him to have a daughter her age. At this point, Kyoya wasn't sure if the woman lived under a rock or was just ignorant.
"Either she didn't do her research." Chizuru took a bite of her nachos. "Or I severely misjudged her."
Kyoya had a small smile on his face. "Or the lights upstairs just don't work at all."
Chizuru looked at Kyoya. Did he just imply that her father's mistress was just stupid? "Kyoya, I can't believe you just said that."
Another thing Chizuru's learned was how Kyoya had a way with words. His humor was dark, dry, and sarcastic. It wasn't the type of humor that worked with people who didn't read between the lines. He was rather witty if he let himself speak his mind more, but there must be a reason why he keeps his thoughts to himself. One could only imagine how dark his thoughts could get. In certain events that he let it out, it was actually funny and was usually at the expense of his target.
"I'm sure you were thinking of it." Kyoya's smile was almost too refreshing for his statement.
"But you said it."
Kyoya glanced briefly at the commotion unfolding right in front of their eyes. "Either she's going to walk out, or your father is going to make his fragile masculinity felt."
Chizuru almost spat out her drink. She found herself in a coughing fit and tried to breathe. "You really like witnessing these kinds of things. That's why you enjoy the Host Club. I can't believe a you pretend to hate drama, yet you spend a considerable amount of time observing."
"Well, I can't believe you could sleep peacefully after watching Titanic." Kyoya pushed his glasses up.
Yesterday after dinner, Chizuru insisted on watching a movie and staying up late. They ended up staying at his family's suite. The sound of crying and panicking passengers in the movie reverberated. When Kyoya's parents got back from their usual drinking sessions with the other "adults", the scene where Rose and Jack were navigating through the half sunken hallways of the Titanic was the first thing that greeted them.
"Well, I can't believe the first thing you thought after the car scene was how the owner was going to get the surprise of his life." Chizuru started laughing without any inhibition.
"No one would want some couple copulating in their brand-new vehicle."
Chizuru's heard all sorts of comments about the infamous car scene in Titanic, but Kyoya's sentiments were a first. She had to wipe the tears that escaped from her eyes. "Your mother looked absolutely mortified."
"She did look for the quickest route to the nearest lifeboat when you left." Kyoya smiled genuinely without him realizing.
"So that's how your real smile looks like." Chizuru had a mini celebration of success. "I had a feeling you were forcing it at times."
She was glad that he was finally letting loose now. She was seeing a different side of Kyoya now and it was slightly different from the first version she saw. The first one was charming and amiable without question. This new version was far more interesting to hang around with.
On their last day in Greece, the guests decided to have a Mamma Mia themed dinner. The white interiors and refreshing scenery was brought to the ship. The whole setup was elaborate, and the songs were amazing. They even had the actual band performing for them that evening.
Chizuru engaged herself with the other guests and tried her best to keep up, but it wasn't working. She then retreated to the sidelines and watched everyone enjoy themselves with the festivities, but Chizuru couldn't anymore. She's been stuck with her father for more than a week. It's the longest they've been together since she was a child. She felt like she was suffocating, and her thoughts just raced until she finally gave in.
She walked out to the back of the ship where no one could see her. This was probably the closure she's been waiting for. In the back of her head, there was always this tiny bit of hope that things would change, but reality was just diminishing that light until it disappeared.
"I can't do this anymore." Chizuru ignored the cold winds that sliced through her as she sat on the edge of the lounge chairs on the deck. She was far too exhausted to act like she was fine.
Her father purposely berated her, her mother, aunt, and even his mistress. She didn't understand. What she did wrong? What did she do to her father that would cause so much hate between them? Her mind was screaming in protest as she endured everything, but she could only take so much.
Kyoya crossed his arms and leaned against the wall as he watched her. It was almost astounding with how self-absorbed Yukio Maihara could get. He saw through the game being played though. Yukio Maihara knew that his daughter lacked in that aspect. He planned on breaking her on the spot so he could get what he wanted.
Chizuru didn't play games like the rest of them, but what she didn't know was how powerful of a player she was.
"He's trying to break you." Kyoya sat across from her.
"Break me? What for?" Chizuru's breath was shaky.
"You're his biggest threat." Kyoya smirked. "He knows you have potential so he's trying to nip it at the bud."
"I don't understand." Chizuru fiddled with her hands. "I don't want to have anything to do with him."
"There's a reason why your mother won't divorce him." Kyoya explained. "It's for you. She chose your birthright as something far more important."
"I'm not next in line for that. In fact, I'm the last one in line." Chizuru bit her lip.
Chizuru's eldest cousin was a devout Catholic like her mother. He was practically a saint. He wouldn't dare harm a fly. Her other cousin was quite eccentric with his Buddhist inclinations. They had more claim over the position as head of the family. They came after her aunt and father. There wouldn't be any problems with the succession planning if her uncle didn't suddenly die of a heart attack seven years ago.
For most people, that was how the situation was. Kyoya had a talent of visualizing multiple possibilities and how probable it was to happen. By the looks of things, Chizuru was going to get right in front whether she liked it or not. It was a longshot but was still a possibility in the grand scheme of things.
"No one's asking you to join the family business. There are plenty of ways around it." Kyoya felt the adrenaline rushing through his veins. The very fuel of his existence was to play this game. "Have you heard of having a board representative?"
"Kyoya, I'm not like…you." Chizuru sighed. "I'm not good at these sorts of things."
"You'll never get better if you don't try to learn from it." Kyoya crossed his legs. "I had a feeling you were enduring your father's treatment because of your mother's position. It would appear as she was doing the same for you."
Chizuru looked at him with awe. Kyoya saw through everything with maddening precision and accuracy. She thought she hid it well enough, but he could see through the cracks.
"I'm not good at lying."
"You aren't." Kyoya's expression was indecipherable. "It takes skill and lots of practice."
Somehow, Chizuru felt like the chills she was getting wasn't from the winds anymore. There was this dark look emanating from Kyoya's eyes. She didn't play the game she was just terrible at it and not didn't sit well with her.
"Whether you like it or not, you're going to have to play." Kyoya looked at her directly without blinking. He could feel her need and uncertainty. "Luckily, I'm willing to teach you a thing or two."
Chizuru looked hesitantly at Kyoya. He was offering a solution, but was it enough? Was she that desperate to strike a deal with an Ootori? Hinako warned her that Kyoya was dangerous, but she couldn't sit back and watch. She wasn't sure what she was getting herself into, but the manipulation, lies, and meticulous planning that went with this sort of scheme was the Ootori's specialty.
Kyoya's expression was dark with a tight-lipped smile. It was almost menacing in character. He offered his hand. "Let's shake hands then and formalize our agreement."
Kyoya smirked. He saw clearly through her. "I don't teach this sort of thing to just anyone."
Chizuru reluctantly shook his hand and it felt like she made a deal with the devil himself. However, this was a price she needed to pay to protect herself and her mother. She was tired of playing nice and Kyoya's expertise was exactly what she needed.
Kyoya stood up and offered his arm. "The first rule with playing the game is acting like you've got a winning deck."
Chizuru couldn't comprehend it fully she followed his lead as they walked around the deck. "What if they figure out I'm bluffing? I don't have a winning hand."
"Yes, but to pull off a good con you need to fool yourself first."
They slowly made their way back to the party. Kyoya felt Chizuru's grip tighten. "Let's gamble for tonight. Let everyone think you've got more power than they think."
"Anyone who would do a basic family tree on me would see through it."
"Your grandmother hasn't named the next representative for a reason. She's still looking for the best candidate. If you were truly not part of her options, she would have chosen early on. Strictly speaking, it's fair game." Kyoya said as he took a glass of punch for himself and his uneasy companion.
At a glance, Chizuru looked fine, but she was so close to breaking. He knew why he was asked to keep her company. "Are you feeling better?"
Chizuru nodded and placed the empty glass on the table. "How sure are you that this is going to work?"
"Power resides where people think it resides." Kyoya leaned closely. "How do you think people think that I'm a good candidate for succession if I didn't do this properly?"
Chizuru froze. It was true. She actually forgot that Kyoya was in fact Yoshio's third son. He never gave off a message that he was limited to such a position, but he wasn't arrogant as well. It was all just the power of perception.
Kyoya sat on the edge of his bed and massaged his temples. There was a warning on the boat at around midnight that there were going to be strong waves. He didn't deal well with this and felt nauseated the entire night. It was impossible to sleep so he had to tap into a more unconventional method. Honestly speaking, Kyoya didn't think he would use the 12-year-old Suntory Hakushi Hikaru gave for this purpose. He slept peacefully after that. When he looked at the time it was almost time for lunch. He washed up and got changed.
"You did well, Kyoya." Yoshio put his newspaper down and nodded at his son. In the last two days, he saw a significant change that shifted the tides in their favor.
"Thank you, otousama."
"I expect you'll continue the good work."
Kyoya nodded politely and left. His mission was a success, but there was still plenty of work to do. Placing Chizuru at a favorable position was easy. It was getting rid of her father that would prove to be troublesome. He went to the other end of the hall where Chizuru's room was.
He was about to knock when he realized the door was left slightly ajar. He heard someone crying and there was this uncomfortable sensation that burned in his stomach. He carefully opened the door and made his way slowly into the room.
"No, stop. Please, don't."
He clenched his fists and emerged from the side of the room. Suddenly, he realized it was all for naught. Chizuru's lips quivered as she placed a piece of chocolate in her mouth. Without even looking at him, she moved to the side of her bed and made space for him to sit.
"Don't look at her. No…don't fall for her." Chizuru wrapped herself in a blanket and mouth the song the heroine was singing.
Kyoya watch the scene and he couldn't understand where all her emotions were coming from. The lead actress looked like she was singing as part of a play and then the lead male actor kissed her at the end.
Chizuru started slapping Kyoya's arm. "It's too late. Landon's fallen for Jamie."
"What movie is this?"
Chizuru turned slowly and looked at him with eyes wider than he's ever seen before. "You haven't seen A Walk to Remember?"
Kyoya shook his head.
"You haven't seen A Walk to Remember?" Chizuru repeated slowly with more emotion as she stressed through each syllable.
This was something Kyoya found annoying. It's like as his answer would change if the question was repeated slowly with more stress placed on each syllable. He sighed and leaned against the pillows behind him.
"Did you have breakfast already?"
Chizuru couldn't look at him straight in the eye. There was fear written all over her face. "You don't remember what happened this morning?"
Kyoya shook his head again.
Luckily, Chizuru didn't repeat the same question. She wasn't told that Kyoya woke up with a bad temper and she had to find out herself. The results were almost paralyzing. She feared a newly awaken Kyoya more than her father. Even more than the devil himself.
"If you're feeling much better, we can order room service." Chizuru suggested carefully.
She reached over the phone and ordered herself some lunch. "What do you want?"
"Steak. Medium rare."
Chizuru nodded and mouthed "Sides?"
Chizuru placed the phone down and looked at Kyoya suspiciously. Prior to almost losing her life, she saw a bottle of alcohol on Kyoya's bedside table that morning. She had a feeling he used it to sleep through the turbulence last night.
"I didn't know you would do something like underaged drinking."
"Ah, you saw that?" Kyoya replied with very little remorse.
"I would have thought that you were the type who followed the rules." Chizuru hugged her pillow close
Kyoya's lips turned upward. "Strictly speaking, I do prefer to follow rules, but there are always exceptions."
"It's really the ones with strict parents who turn out to be the best liars." Chizuru looked at him with narrowed eyes. The fact that Kyoya wasn't denying anything said a lot.
"I'm probably the first Ootori to be associated with a Host Club. If that isn't something that makes me different from my siblings, I don't know what will." Kyoya paused for a moment. "Besides, I spend a considerable amount of time with Hikaru and Kaoru. You think they won't do something like underaged drinking?"
"I can't deny that." Chizuru smiled sheepishly.
The food finally arrived and the two decided to eat at the private promenade deck connected to the suite Chizuru's family stayed in. They ate in silence as Kyoya continued to read one of the books he brought along while Chizuru continued to watch the movie from her seat.
"You two are practically inseparable." Suzue Maihara looked at the two teens doing their own thing.
Kyoya stood up and greeted her politely. "Good afternoon, Maihara-sama."
"Be careful with who you charm, my dear. I'm a divorced middle-aged woman willing to accept any sort of attention." She jokingly replied. Her attention shifted to the movie playing. "A Walk to Remember?"
It seems like the trait for watching sappy movies was a Maihara family pastime. Kyoya continued reading his book, but he was curious with what happened. He found himself glancing a few times until he placed his book down. Somehow, the longer he watched the more annoyed he felt. This was exactly the kind of thing Tamaki loved. It was a good thing the movie finished before he could gauge his eyes off.
"The captain said we're arriving at the final port later tonight." Suzue said as her eyes stayed focus on the screen.
"There's going to be another themed party, right?"
"Yes, but it's going to be even more extravagant. As requested by Shizue Suoh herself." Suzue stood up and looked at her watch. "Oh, we should start getting ready."
"Well, I heard that Yama-niisan was planning on proposing already." Chizuru laughed. "It's a good thing I brought something suitable enough."
With the new trick Chizuru learned from Kyoya, she became a dangerous weapon as she made the trick her own. It still needed a lot of work, but it got the job done. The teacher was proud of the student at this point. She had one final night to prove herself.
Kyoya stood close to the end of the grand staircase as he waited for Chizuru to arrive. He politely greeted those who passed his way. Almost everyone was wearing a gown. He always made sure to bring a three-piece suit whenever he went on events like these.
"It seems like you always find yourself close to energetic people." Shizue Suoh said as she walked down the stairs. The woman exuded an aura fitting of an empress.
Kyoya walked towards her and offered his arm. "They do have a way of drawing people towards them."
"Tamaki called me and wondered when he could see you." Shizue shook her head as she thought about how immature her grandson was. "You've made him too dependent on you."
Kyoya smiled back politely. "Please, Suoh-sama. If anything, I feel like I've grown to rely more on Tamaki more than I would wish to admit."
Shizue glanced back at him. "You sound exactly like your father. Just leave me here. I'll find my way around. You shouldn't keep your companion waiting."
Kyoya turned around and saw a young woman headed his direction. Chizuru conversing with the other guests as she walked towards him. A lot of the other men called her a Japanese version of Audrey Hepburn. She radiated the same kind of elegance and poise most of the time. When she didn't have to act so formal, she was quite a mess.
Most of the guests that were closest to their age were in their late twenties to thirties. They were practically seen as children, but that didn't stop some from being curious. Chizuru said that a lot of girls and some of the boys who preferred to keep their identities secret had a huge crush on him. There was a small Kyoya fan club and Chizuru was the source of all information.
"Neh, Kyoya…I heard the proposal was going to happen anytime soon." Chizuru whispered.
The guests were all standing awkwardly in the area, so the scenario was about to unfold. The Yamanote family's eldest son was going to propose to the second born daughter of the Ayanokoji family. The clueless soon to be blushing bride stood close by the grand piano.
"Doesn't her youngest sister go to Ouran?" Chizuru asked. It was a family of four daughters and a single boy. Most families would try to marry off their daughters.
Kyoya nodded. "She was Honey and Mori's classmate."
Suddenly, the Yamanote heir, wearing a Greek styled robe, descended from the ceiling slowly and rose petals fell. He was doing some elaborate hand movements that followed the beat of the music. There was a chorus of children singing. They were probably trying to mimic an angelic choir of sorts.
Chizuru and Kyoya weren't strangers to such displays, but this was too much even for them. Not even a seasoned Zuka Club member and Host Club Vice President could have prepared for a presentation this opulent. If Mori were here, he would have screamed by now.
Kyoya pushed his glasses up. Tacky, repugnant, distasteful, cliché, repulsive. His mind could only think of so many synonyms at this point. Even Tamaki or Benibara wouldn't do something this stupid. He looked at Chizuru who had a wide tight-lipped smile on her face as she fought with all her power not to burst into laughter.
One can only surmise that the Yamanote heir was going to get rejected. No person in the right mind would accept such a proposal that was bordering public humiliation. There's a reason why the Yamanote heir was still single.
As if things couldn't get worse, there was interpretative dancing as he recited a poem while the choir sang in the backfround. It was painfully embarrassing to watch. Most of the spectators were too shocked to even keep their usual polite masks at this point.
"Control yourself." Kyoya scolded lightly. He could feel Chizuru shaking as she gripped his arm tightly.
The thing with situations where people couldn't react freely was it became a hundred times funnier because of the societal restrictions. Chizuru was silent but tears continuously streamed down her cheeks as her shoulders shook uncontrollably. She was careful not to make any sound.
"You looked possessed." Kyoya had to bite his lip at this point. It was starting to get difficult even for him. He took slow deep breaths and recited the value of pi to keep his composure. He watched his father leave the room discreetly with a cigar in hand. Clearly, it was too much even for him.
"Yes, I'll marry you."
A round of applause was heard. Finally, the torture they were subjected to was over.
Chizuru dragged him to the secluded part of the deck. It was their usual hiding spot. Kyoya pressed his lips together. He never expected someone from a prestigious school for young ladies to sit slouched with her legs spread apart. It contradicted how poised and elegant she looked wearing a gown that was embroidered with beads and all sorts of feather trims. He's never seen any of his classmates or any girl from Ouran sit like that so openly.
"Someone might see you."
"They're too busy congratulating the new couple. No one's going out here." Chizuru dismissed. She took off her shoes and watched the seaside town that was buzzling with life. "You should wear formal suits whenever you could. It brings your charm up. Didn't you notice all the girls trying to get your attention?"
Kyoya stood beside her as they watched the town nearby. It seems like there was a festival of some sort. "I was taught how to dress properly for such occasions."
"I was getting jealous at some point." Chizuru pouted. "I wanted Mayu-neesan to notice me too. It's not fair."
Kyoya almost forgot that Chizuru wasn't interested in men. She didn't give off the stereotypical vibe that he saw in movies. To be honest, he wasn't completely exposed to the LGBT community as much which may cause some errors with how he perceives them.
"There's something I want to clarify."
"I thought the Zuka Club was about female supremacy? The projects you were talking about earlier didn't really reflect that." Kyoya clarified.
"That's Benibara's belief." Chizuru crossed her arms. "It was mine as well for some time, but…have you met my cousin Sho?"
"Well, Sho-niisan is a devoted Buddhist. At first, I believed women could live without men and that we were better. Sometimes, I still do." Chizuru paused. "He taught me an important of balance. There were plenty of things a woman can do that a man couldn't, but that didn't make us better. There were certain things men could do that we couldn't do as effectively, but that didn't make you any better."
Chizuru looked at the festival happening in the town. "I just want all women to have the same opportunities presented to them. Why is a man who works relentlessly seen as a family man, but when a woman does it people think she's neglecting her family? Or why is a divorced man seen as having a marital issue and a divorced woman is seen as the marital issue?"
"You're planning on breaking a culture that's been placed for generations." Kyoya replied. It astonished him how she had the courage to go against that, but family was always a different matter.
"Japan wasn't like this initially. It was only in the past century where we were subjected to such treatment."
It was almost midnight and Chizuru put her heels back on. "I swear if I have to dance another waltz, I'm going to throw myself off this boat."
Then in that moment, a certain idea hit her. Her eyes light up and she smiled at Kyoya. "You wanna go to a real party?"
Kyoya couldn't believe how he found himself in the middle of an Irish festival drinking his second pint of beer as Chizuru danced with the one of the locals. To think she came up with the excuse of feeling sick right when she was standing near his father and her aunt. The pupil has finally understood how to use her new skills for the wrong purpose.
The town had its charms. It was exactly how anyone would imagine a small town beside the sea. It was loyal to the photos seen in travel magazines. The cobblestone streets, the old structures, and endless beer that was being offered to everyone in the area.
At least here, he was of legal age to drink. He looked at his half empty pint of beer and sausage platter. An hour has passed, and Chizuru isn't showing any signs of going back to the ship just yet. She's been dancing with strangers since they got here. He was trying to figure out what holiday it was since most of the people were wearing traditional styled clothing. His trail of thought was broke when he saw Chizuru kissing another woman.
It was going to take some getting used to. He looked away briefly and just ate his food in peace.
"You're on your second pint?" Chizuru looked at him in awe.
Kyoya drank whatever remained of his beer. "I'm going on my third."
He offered Chizuru a drink which she took, but she wasn't much of a drinker. She looked at him and wondered how he could drink something like this.
There was a slight pause in the music until the musicians started another round of something upbeat.
"I feel like I'm in a tavern." Chizuru laughed.
"The kind of tavern where a bar fight is about to happen soon."
Chizuru suddenly held his hand. "You can't stand there the entire time."
She caught her target slightly off guard and tipsy. She brought him to the dance floor where all the locals were doing something that looked like a polka.
"Chizuru wait." Kyoya protested as she was brought into the middle of a sea of people.
"We're going to have to get a bit closer." Chizuru pulled him close and started to take the lead.
"I can't do this." Kyoya's system fought for control. "I don't know the steps."
"Neither do I." Chizuru squeezed his hand.
Kyoya watched the people around them and observed their movements as he hesitantly danced with Chizuru. He wasn't comfortable with doing something so unfamiliar.
"Don't think too much, Kyoya." Chizuru laughed. "Just go with it."
This was what made Chizuru different. She didn't create chaos, but she drowned herself into the unknown. It was her curiosity and need to be part of what was happening that kept her world interesting. She wasn't like Tamaki or the twins who embarrassed themselves most of the time by making a scene. She joined and immersed herself in whatever was happening. Kyoya didn't notice that he was getting pulled along.
Little by little the two found a beat they were comfortable with and they weren't sure what they were doing. It looked like a cross between a waltz and a polka, but that didn't matter. The two were actually enjoying without any hesitations or boundaries. No one was there to scold them for doing something absurd. No one could have imagined that Chizuru managed to drag Kyoya to dance on top of a dining table with complete strangers.
Kyoya couldn't even believe it himself.
Suzue searched everywhere for Chizuru. She wasn't in her room and she didn't have breakfast yet. None of the other guests have seen her since she left the ball early last night. They were supposed to go on a tour with the Ootoris in two hours.
"Ms. Maria, have you seen Chizuru?" Suzue asked one of the staff that was assigned to their room.
The woman nodded and hesitantly lead her to a room at the end of the hall. Suzue followed the woman and bumped into the Ootori matriarch.
"Have you seen Kyoya?" Mikazuki asked.
Suzue shook her head. "He wasn't there for breakfast too?"
"I haven't seen him the entire morning. I thought he was with Chizuru." Her concern was growing now.
The two women walked towards Kyoya's room and was greeted with quite a sight. Kyoya was leaning against the wall as he slept still wearing last night's clothes. Chizuru was sprawled on the floor. The place reeked of alcohol.
"I had a feeling she went there." Suzue laughed. She saw the party briefly and knew it was the kind of place her niece would love to be in. "I apologize. It looks like Chizuru dragged your son into her escapades."
The two women looked at Maria. The poor woman wasn't sure how to respond. The two came back at around five in the morning practically holding onto each other since they couldn't stand. What would usually take a ten-minute walk to their rooms became a maze. It was a good thing Chizuru was close with the employees and they tried their best to guide the two back to their respective rooms.
"Chizuru it's time to go." Ume Maihara called her only granddaughter from the car.
"Just a few more photos, obaasama." Chizuru begged. She took photos with almost all of the staff and her new friends. Her crush, Mayu-neesan, and of course she needed a picture with Kyoya.
All the guests were saying their goodbyes as they all went their separate ways. It was a bittersweet feeling as their vacation came to an end. The Ootori family was getting ready to leave after the usual pleasantries have been exchanged with those that mattered.
"Kyoya! Let's take a picture before we leave."
Kyoya sighed. "We're both going back to Tokyo anyways."
"That's different. Besides, we're going to London first before going home. My aunt has a lunch scheduled with the Dutchess of Cambridge." Chizuru dragged him and forced him to take a selfie with her.
Mikazuki smiled as she watched her son and his friend. It looks like her plan worked. Ever since Tamaki and Haruhi left for Boston, she felt like Kyoya's been a bit sad. She had a feeling Kyoya treasured the Host Club that now the dynamics were going to be slightly different he wasn't quite himself. The change was so subtle that maybe Kyoya didn't even notice it himself. But a mother saw through these things clearly.
"Can you leave already?" Kyoya smiled darkly. "I think we have more than enough pictures already.
"I got it. I'll go now." Chizuru started to walk away, but before she left she turned around and smiled. It was her gut feeling telling her something.
"I'm not sure if this would help but when your brain and heart aren't on the same page" Chizuru smiled and pointed at towards Kyoya's chest. "This is the answer."
Little did Chizuru know the weight of her words that day. It made Kyoya take the big leap. He called the other hosts in Japan the following day and suggested they move to Boston before summer vacation ended. They were all bound to study abroad at some point so they might as well go together.
In the same way that Kyoya wasn't aware how vital his presence was at that time. He didn't know that it was this trip that made Chizuru decide to become a doctor herself. He gave her the courage to go reach beyond the norm. He taught her to how fight discreetly. He taught her lessons that brought her to the path where she was now.