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Kiss Kiss, Fall in Love!

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All Yuu wanted was some peace and quiet.

It was a beautiful spring day in April and the cherry blossoms were in bloom. Pink petals fluttered through the breezy sky, surrounding the equally as beautiful, massive and ornate Ouran Elite Private Academy: a school attended primarily by children of the rich and famous, where lineage counts first and wealth is a close second. All students at the school are expected to be academically proficient and to possess leadership potential, however those with stellar family history are given entrance priority over those from families of lower social or economic status regardless of academic ability. One Japanese student each year per grade level is allowed into the school on a full-ride scholarship only if they can meet a certain score on a notoriously difficult entrance exam and maintain a position as the Top of the Class each trimester to ensure continued enrollment.

How Yuu ended up being that student, he had no idea.

Sure, he was smart and studious. He excelled at school and he always tried his best to do so, but he didn’t realize he would outshine everyone else in Japan at his age who had applied to go to this place. He only wanted to attend Ouran because it would ensure his entry into an excellent college, but everything else about the institution was bound to exhaust him.

Beginning with the campus’s… sickeningly pink and lavender coloration all over the buildings. Pink, being the favored color of flirts and teases, seemed to be painted all over the interior and exterior of the various Ouran buildings. Where there was pink, lavender usually followed to represent sophistication and a focus on one’s own advancement and moving up in the world. The buildings on the school grounds were inspired by famous monuments, such as Buckingham Palace, Place de la Concorde and St. Peter’s Basilica, all while simultaneously being reminiscent of mid-nineteenth century Paris.

Whether during the day or a late spring evening, Ouran reflected beauty, intelligence, and gentility. It was a place of unique charm for the new scholarship student, with classic architecture to house a classic curriculum. Ornate gate cornices headed the entrances into campus, and across the school grounds were lush and beautiful gardens, with fresh, clear water loaded with blooming lilies upon their green leafy pads. Pure, white-feathered birds flocked around the trees, and sometimes their downy feathers drifted along with the petals of the cherry blossoms.

It was disgustingly perfect. Yuu had no idea how one place could be so obstinate and over-the-top. And yet, despite having four massive libraries stacked to the brim with leather-bound, rare prints of all the most brilliant novels and stories of the centuries… the students still gathered there in clusters to talk, of all things.

Yuu stood behind the massive oak doors of the fourth library, which were cracked open as he peered inside. Girls in their fancy yellow dresses stood bunched around tables as they giggled loudly, and similarly, the guys in their smart pastel-blue blazers lounged around and chat about things like the weather. Seeing their uniforms had Yuu feeling self-conscious about his own state of dress; he was too poor to afford the ridiculously overpriced blazer that the school wanted him to wear, so he instead wore some old, baggy clothes that he found stuffed in the back of his closet.

A raggedy white dress shirt with a worn-out sweater-vest over it… well, it would have to do. He looked like a bum compared to everyone else, but Yuu didn’t feel like worrying over it too much.

Yuu scrunched his nose after observing the students for a moment and silently closed the door. That was the fourth and last library he had checked for some isolation and peace, but… they were all stuffed with overly-talkative students. Perhaps it was because the school year had just begun, but Yuu would have thought the rules would be strict in the library especially. And yet… they were being so noisy.

It seemed no one was enforcing such rules, much to Yuu’s disappointment. He guessed he had no choice but to wander throughout the ridiculously luxurious halls to try and find somewhere to go where he could lounge around all by himself.

He ended up walking up the grand staircase, which was covered in a red-velvet carpet. Rays of brilliant sunlight poured in through massive ceiling-to-floor windows, causing the chandeliers above to glisten and sparkle. The marble columns seemed to glow and shine, and all of the brightness caused Yuu to squint against the glare.

It was beautiful, sure… but it was just too much. Yuu sighed deeply as he glanced out the window to his left, eyes tiredly scanning over the treetops and the shapely bushes in the gardens. For some reason, he remembered his mother in that moment, for he usually thought of her whenever life seemed to be testing him.

It’s been ten years already since you passed, Mother… Yuu blinked at the sky as he wondered if she was up in the heavens, enjoying the serenity of an afterlife. He frowned as he continued to wander down the grandiose hallways, surrounded by obnoxious Rococo paintings and sculpture. Mother… it seems like the children of rich people come to school for the fun of it.

Yuu then paused as he looked up at a sign hanging above a particular set of doors. It read ‘Music Room #3,’ yet Yuu could hear no sounds coming from it. In fact, the entire hallway was rather quiet, and with a wave of relief Yuu pressed his hand flatly against the door. Perhaps this music room was unused and he could use it to study, all by himself, away from the suffocating rose-scented presence of the rich kids at this school.

Yuu sighed and opened the door, stepping inside and closing the door behind him.

When he turned around to survey his new study space, he nearly had a heart attack on the spot.

“Welcome to the Host Club!”

Yuu staggered back and plastered himself against the door, eyes wide as his grandfather’s old glasses nearly topped off the bridge of his nose. His heart was pounding out of his chest from the scare, and he realized too late that he had made a horrible mistake by entering this room without clearly looking inside first.

“H-Host Club!?” Yuu stammered weakly, his mind swimming with the bits and pieces of conversation he had overhead about the school’s infamous Host Club over the first week of his enrollment here. It was where the handsome boys with too much time on their hands entertain and charm girls who also have too much time on their hands. It was the school’s own personal, elegant playground for the super rich.

God, of all places for Yuu to accidentally stumble upon, it just had to be the Host Club.

“Oh, it’s a guy,” said two of the Hosts at the same time, fixing Yuu with mildly disappointed expressions. Why they looked so surprised, Yuu didn’t think about until later. For now, the shock of the situation was just too powerful for him to properly react.

“He’s in the same class as you two, right?” The tall one with glasses asked.

“Yeah,” the purple-haired one said with a long sigh, “but he isn’t very sociable, so I don’t know him too well. Neither does Rene.”

“Oi, don’t be rude to our visitor,” scolded the glasses-guy softly. He turned to Yuu, who was still plastered against the door in total mortification. He flashed a nice smile, tilted his head and said, “Welcome to Ouran Host Club, Honor Student.”

This statement seemed to surprise the others who were standing about, silently watching until now.

“What?” The blond host spoke up, his eyes widening with intrigue. “Then… you must be Yuuichirou Hyakuya, the honor student of the year.”

Yuu had been reaching for the doorknob, but to have the guy that Yuu had never seen before say his full name had Yuu freezing up with apprehension and confusion. He turned to stare at the guy, feeling his pulse quicken nervously for a few reasons, one being that he was painfully attractive. He looked like he strutted right off a magazine cover, and Yuu shrank back, not really wanting to associate with someone so… model-esque.

“How do you know my name…?” Yuu asked cautiously, feeling a little lightheaded from how… bright the room seemed. It was like all the people standing before him were radiating with overwhelming beauty, and well, Yuu felt like he dulled in comparison. He really wanted to get the hell out of there and go hide behind some bookcases. Dealing with these sickeningly pretty people was already giving him a headache.

“It’s just that our school tradition makes it difficult for commoners to get in,” the glasses-guy said nonchalantly. Yuu’s eyebrow twitched at his use of ‘commoner,’ but he couldn’t get a word in between the guy’s rambling. “Unless you possess a rather audacious nerve, you can’t become an honor student here. Or so I’ve heard.”

“I see…” Yuu mumbled, his eyes trailing off to the side as he looked to the door handle. But before he could reach for it, suddenly an arm was around his shoulders, and Yuu nearly yelped with the surprise of someone being so close to him without warning. When Yuu glanced over to see who it was, he noticed it was the startlingly pretty blond one, who was smiling charmingly at Yuu.

“He’s saying that you’re somewhat like a hero, Yuu-chan,” the blond pretty boy before him said with a wink. Yuu cringed at the nickname and his cheerful tone of voice. “Even though you might be at the head of the class, you’re still the poorest person in the school… others may start to look up to you.”

Yuu frowned and shrugged the guy’s arm off of him, attempting to inch away and put some space between himself and the flower-scented man. Yet despite this obvious attempt to distance himself, he continued to follow Yuu step by step.

“No, I wouldn’t necessarily go that far,” Yuu muttered, looking away from the blond’s nearly blindingly beautiful face. He was stunning in the same way that the sun was- only from a distance, not without eye protection, and preferably only in pictures. One should not risk looking directly at it.

“It doesn’t matter, does it?” The blond said sweetly while slinging an arm around Yuu once again. Yuu cringed and shrank back as he said, “welcome to our world of beauty, Yuu-chan.”

Yuu ducked under his hand and turned to face the door. “Excuse me.”

“Hey! Yuu-kun, Yuu-kun!” A peppy, sweet voice suddenly spoke up from behind him, and before Yuu knew what was going on, he was being dragged to the side by someone significantly shorter than he was. He was turned around to face the boy in question- one with big, round eyes and a sweet, child-like smile. “You’re a hero? Amazing!”

“I’m not a hero, I’m just an honor student,” Yuu told the kid, wondering briefly how old he was and why he was wearing a high school uniform if he was so young.

“Still, to find out that such a fabled, erudite student is gay is intriguing…” Mused the blond host from Yuu’s side, tapping his forehead with thought. Yuu turned to him with his eyes narrowed in confusion.

“Gay?” Yuu echoed, wondering where such an assumption came from. He wasn’t wrong, but Yuu wasn’t necessarily out to everyone- was it that obvious?

“Well…” the host murmured, then suddenly turned to Yuu with an inviting smile. “What is your preference?” He gestured to the tall, muscular man with scruffy white hair and said, “The wild type?” Then, he nodded to the small brown-haired boy who had just called Yuu a hero and said, “The boy Lolita type?” Next, he pointed to the odd pair of teens, one with purple hair and one with black hair and said, “The little devil type?”

Yuu was beginning to get where he was going with this. With rising panic, he watched as the blond gestured to the glasses guy and offered, “The cool type?”

“I-It’s not like that!” Yuu stammered as heat quickly rose to his face, taking a few shaky steps back. The realization dawned upon him- they thought Yuu walked into that room voluntarily while knowing it was the Host Club! He had to explain before they got the wrong idea! He inched further and further away from the blond, his hands shaking frantically. “I was just looking for a quiet place where I could study…”

Despite how far he backed up, the blond continued to follow until suddenly he was right in front of Yuu, a small, amused smirk on his perfect lips.

Yuu tensed up in shock as he reached out, trailing his fingers delicately along Yuu’s jaw as he seductively murmured, “or maybe…”

Yuu’s breath hitched with panic as the princely host gripped Yuu’s chin and tilted it up, aligning their lips for a kiss while he smoothly asked, “...you’d like to try me? How about it, Yuu-chan?”

The ticklish sensation of the blond’s finger under his chin caused shivers to roll down his spine, and with a strangled gasp Yuu broke from his hold forcefully. As he staggered back, he thumped right into a pedestal, and when he felt something tip over, he turned around with a sudden realization that he had just bumped into something he shouldn’t have.

Sure enough, as he turned around, he saw as a Renaissance-era vase fell to the tilted floor and burst into hundreds of tiny shards.

“Awh, that was the vase that was to be featured in the school auction!” One of the hosts regarded from behind Yuu, seeming more annoyed than distressed.

“Now you’ve done it!” said another host. “We were gonna start the bidding at 8 million yen for that.”

“Eight million yen!?” Yuu blurted out loud, his mind already spinning with how much money he had just single handedly destroyed. “How many thousand yen is that? How many thousands are in 8 million?” Why would they keep such an important item just out in the open like this!? Yuu thought incredulously while staring down at what remained of the centuries-old vase. He stood upright from the pedestal and glanced over his shoulder pathetically at the hosts.

“Um… can I pay you back?” He offered meekly.

“Can you even?” The purple-haired host asked with arched eyebrows.

“You can’t even afford the designated uniform,” the black-haired teen at his side pointed out.

“What is that grubby outfit, anyway?” The purple-haired one chastised him with a huff.

“What will it be, Mika?” The glasses-host said while glancing to the blond man who had rather indirectly just caused this whole mess, in Yuu’s mind.

The blond host, otherwise known as Mika, sat down in a chair and crossed his legs authoritatively.

“Have you ever heard this saying, Yuu-chan? When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you have no money, then pay with your body.” His eyes were dark and mischievous- much unlike the cheerful, charming student he was before, causing Yuu’s stomach to twist with dread. He pointed at Yuu and, with a devilish smirk, he announced, “Starting today, you are the Host Club’s dog.”

Yuu stared blankly at Mika, his resolve slowly chipping away with every passing moment.

He suddenly felt at least ten years older. Dreadfully and hopelessly, he reached out to his mother and hoped that she could hear his prayers.

This is too much, Mom. I’ve been captured by a ridiculous bunch who call themselves a “Host Club.” Someone save me from them, please…!

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

An hour later, rather than studying in a silent, isolated place… Yuu somehow found himself walking into Music Room #3 with a bag of goods for the Host Club from the nearby convenience store. He was told to go get a list of things, and after he was handed a generous amount of money, he felt obligated to go through with the task.

Yuu looked around once he stepped inside, feeling dizzy from the amount of people he saw inside. Female students in their poofy yellow dresses sat perched on the couches and tea tables, chatting and giggling along with the various hosts that Yuu still hadn’t learned the names of. The sound of porcelain tea-cups gently placed onto their saucer plates accompanied the soft chatter in the room.

“Mika-kun, what’s your favorite kind of music?” A girl’s high-pitched voice caught Yuu’s attention, and he turned to where she sat. He squinted at the sight before him of Mika, the charming host with luscious blond hair and sparkling blue eyes, with two blushing girls on either side of him.

“That one tune that reminds me of you… of course,” Mika said sweetly, casting a smile to the girl who asked. She covered her smile with a shy hand, glancing away as her cheeks blossomed with redness.

“I baked you a cake today,” another girl spoke up, batting her eyelashes as she slid the plate towards Mika. “Would you have some for me?” Instead of taking her up on her offer, he reached out and tilted her chin up with his index finger while fixing her with a passionate stare.

“If you will feed it to me,” Mika answered lowly.

“Oh, Mika-kun…!” The girl sighed dreamily, but she shied away from his hand, clearly too flustered by the mere thought to actually go through with it.

“Mikaela-sama, I heard about something,” spoke an elegant-looking woman with long, sleek black hair. Mika turned to look at her with a questioning tilt of his head. She set her teacup down on its plate and said, “You’re keeping an unpedigreed little kitten?”

“That’s one way to describe him- oh, there he is.” Mika finally noticed Yuu, who was standing a short distance away with the bag in his hands. “Thanks for shopping for us, little kitten.”

“Kitten…?” Yuu muttered out loud as he finally approached, his cheeks warming slightly with embarrassment from the pet name. He simply gave Mika a soft glare as he set down the bag and allowed him to reach inside. Mika pulled out the coffee he had requested and peered at it with interest.

“So, what’s this?” Mika asked, head tilting to the side once again.

“It’s what it looks like,” Yuu replied simply. “It’s coffee.”

“I’ve never seen this name brand,” Mika murmured, eyebrows tensed with confusion. “Is this the kind that’s already ground?”

“No, it’s instant,” Yuu said slowly, wondering if Mika was just messing with him or something.

“Instant?” One of the girls said questioningly.

“Oh, it’s commoner’s coffee, where you only have to add hot water, right?” Mika suddenly said, eyes sparkling with excitement.

“I’ve heard of this!” Another girl said, and Yuu squinted as a bunch of them suddenly started gathering around. “So it’s true about poor people not having any free time, so they can’t even grind their own beans, huh?”

“Commoners have their wisdom,” came another voice from behind Yuu, and when he turned around, he noticed the tall host with glasses now inspecting the coffee from over Mika’s shoulder.

“It says that 100g costs 300 yen,” observed the black-haired host.

“That’s an incredible price drop,” said the purple-haired host.

“I’ll go buy something else!” Yuu finally interrupted, feeling flustered that they were making such a fuss over the coffee he bought. “Excuse me for not getting expensive beans!”

“No, wait!” Mika said before Yuu could turn around. “I’ll drink this.”

Everyone seemed to be amazed by Mika’s brave proposition. They all clapped for him and looked at him with sparkling eyes, much to Yuu’s disbelief.

Are these people serious…? Yuu thought with a slightly twitching eye. Damn these rich people…!

“All right, Yuu-chan!” Mika suddenly said while thrusting the coffee into Yuu’s face. “Come over here and make this commoners’ coffee!” Then, he swiftly turned around and marched off with the coffee raised in the air as if it was some sort of trophy.

“Oh, Mikaela-sama, you carry the joke too far,” mused the woman with the long black hair, setting her teacup down onto its saucer. “There’s no way that such a lowly person’s drink will be to your taste.”

Though when Yuu looked to her, he realized they were the only two around. Mika wasn’t nearby to hear her words, so the situation was… rather odd. Yuu stared at her blankly.

“Oh, forgive me,” she said suddenly and turned over her shoulder, flashing a strange smile at Yuu, “I was talking to myself.”

Yuu just fixed her with a confused stare, but before he had a chance to say anything, Mika was calling him over again. So, without further ado, he joined Mika and the other curious hosts and decided to show them how to make instant coffee.

It was bizarre to Yuu that they had never done something that Yuu did nearly every single day… and he never thought he would have to teach someone else how to simply… pour hot water into a cup, and yet here he was.

Yuu dumped a spoonful of the coffee into each cup that was presented to him, then poured hot water into all of them. After stirring, he said, “There you go.”

“Let the tasting begin,” Mika said, strangely excited and practically sparkling with intrigue at the prospect of instant coffee.

“I’m a little scared to drink this,” one of the girls commented.

“If I drink this, my father will yell at me,” another one added. Her eyes widened as Mika stepped in front of her and cupped her cheek in his palm.

He towered over her as he seductively murmured, “What if you drank it from my mouth?”

“I-I’d drink it,” she answered breathlessly, and the other girls erupted into an excited chorus of squealing.

Good grief… Yuu glared at them and winced from the shrill sound. Irritated by their obnoxious fawning, he glanced over to the table where the purple-haired host and black-haired host were. They were always together, Yuu noticed, and he wondered why. It seemed the black-haired one was in the middle of telling a story.

“So then, he had this terrible dream, and when he bolted up from it…” he was saying, and the one with the purple hair suddenly flushed red and tensed up.

“Rene! Not that story!” the purple-haired one protested in response to Rene’s statement. His cheeks were reddening even more as he backed away slightly, little tears forming in the corners of his eyes. “You’re awful, telling that story in front of others…”

“Lacus…” Rene murmured, eyes wide as he watched a few tiny tears drip from Lacus’s round cheeks. The two girls watching looked as if they were holding their breath, eyes glued to the pair with anticipation. Then, Rene leaned over and cupped Lacus’s teary face in his hands, pulling the other man close so that their lips were nearly aligned.

“I’m sorry, Lacus…” Rene murmured lowly, as if he was speaking to his lover. “You were just so cute when it happened, I couldn’t help myself…”

“Rene…!” Lacus breathed, his eyes shimmering as he looked up into Rene’s passionate gaze.

“Waah! What beautiful love…!” The girls squealed, their faces flushing red with excitement. He figured the whole point of their act was to please the fans of BL, or the fujoshi’s… Yuu squinted at them, wondering why they were crying for joy. He didn’t understand their fangirling at all, but in that moment his attention was stolen by the two walking in the room.

“Sorry! I’m late!” said the small, brown-haired host from where he was held by the tall, white-haired host Yuu had seen briefly before. The smaller one was getting a piggy-back ride and rubbing his eyes as if he had just woken up.

“Yoichi-kun, Gekkoin!” One of the girls excitedly called out their names. “We’ve been waiting this whole time for you!”

“I’m sorry!” The smaller one said as he was set down to his feet. “I was waiting for Gekko to get out of his swordsmanship club, but I drifted off to sleep… and I still seem to be sleepy.” He rubbed at his teary eyes again, causing the girls all around him to seize up with blushes across their faces.

“How cute!” They all squealed at once, and Yuu watched on with extreme confusion. Was that guy really a high school student…?

“Yoichi’s a prodigy, despite his appearance.” Yuu turned around to face the host that just approached him- it was the tall, pink-haired one with glasses. “And Gekkoin’s draw is his silent disposition.”

Yuu narrowed his eyes, wondering how that was supposed to make any sense… but before he could ask, a cheerful voice called out to him.

“Yuu-kun!”

Yuu turned around just in time to see Yoichi bounding towards him, smiling ear-to-ear as he leapt up and threw his arms around Yuu’s shoulders.

“Yuu-kun, wanna have cake with me?” Yoichi asked, his smile so bright and cheerful that Yuu swore he saw little flowers dancing around his head.

“No, I don’t really like sweets…” Yuu admitted, a little dazed from the sudden tackle-hug from the supposedly younger student.

“Well, I’ll let you borrow my bunny, Usa-chan!” Yoichi offered, and Yuu suddenly noticed he was clutching a large, pink bunny plushie in the crook of his arm.

“No, I’m not up for Usa-chan, either…” Yuu muttered exhaustedly.

“You don’t like my Usa-chan?” Yoichi asked, his eyes glimmering with tears. Yuu looked down at the rabbit for a moment, realizing that it actually looked… quite soft and adorable somehow. He leaned in to look at it closer.

“I-It is cute, huh?” Yuu offered awkwardly.

Yoichi blinked widely at him and shoved the bunny in his arms. “Take good care of it, okay?”

Then, Yoichi returned to his guests, taking his place on the loveseat in between two of the girls.

“Our club’s policy is to utilize everyone’s individual characteristics to respond to the needs of our guests,” the glasses-host began rambling again despite the fact that Yuu hadn’t asked. Yuu simply held the bunny close to his chest and wondered how he ended up in this situation. The glasses-host then turned to gesture out to the clubroom, nodding over to where Mika sat on a velvet couch just across the way.

“By the way, around here, Mika is number one- the king.” Yuu stared as Mika turned to smile enchantingly at a girl next to him. “His request rate is 70 percent.”

“What's the world coming to…?” Yuu wondered out loud.

“With your 8 million-yen debt, you are this club’s dog until you graduate,” the glasses-host said with a sneering smile. “So you better get used to it. I'm surprised that an honor student could do something so careless. After breaking such an important item, you deserve to serve us, idiot Yuu.”

What the hell!? Yuu turned to stare at him with wide, shocked eyes. This guy was so properly spoken and smooth before, but was Yuu now seeing his true personality…?

Yuu’s eye twitched as he processed the abrupt shift in his demeanor, and when everything caught up to him, he glared at the snarky glasses-guy. “Hah?”

“Be sure to work hard, kitten.” Yuu froze up at the sound of Mika’s voice right behind him, but before he could turn around, the bastard decided to blow on his ear. Yuu cringed up and scrambled away, clutching the pink bunny plush tighter in his hands. He turned around with an angry flush over his cheeks.

“Don’t do that!” Yuu snapped at Mika, his eyes shimmering with embarrassment.

“You’re not going to get any girls as disheveled as you look,” Mika observed, completely ignoring Yuu’s words.

“I’m not interested in getting any in the first place,” Yuu replied dryly, eyes narrowed as he glared at Mika. Didn’t Mika remember that he was gay?

“What are you talking about? This is important,” Mika insisted. “Becoming a fine man and pleasing the ladies is everything, no matter your sexuality.”

“It doesn’t matter either way, does it?” Yuu responded sharply with an aggravated sigh. “Men, women, appearances, and such? What’s important as a person is what’s on the inside, right? I can’t understand why this kind of club even exists.”

“It’s cruel, isn’t it?” Mika’s voice spoke up, and Yuu immediately glared at him from the corner of his eye due to his smooth-talking tone. There Yuu was, being serious for once, and of course it didn’t get through to any of these morons. Mika tilted his head back slightly and sighed. “Think hard about it. Why do they put museum pieces in museums? It’s the duty of those who were born beautiful to show off beautiful things...”

What was it that you call people like this again…? Yuu squinted as Mika went off onto a tangent, no longer listening as he tried to find the word he was looking for. Let’s see… a pain in the neck? No... there’s a more precise expression…

“Also, the most important thing to remember… is how effective looking up at an angle is,” Mika concluded a long rant that Yuu hadn’t listened to at all. He leaned down and smirked up at Yuu. “Did I charm you?”

“You’re too flashy,” Yuu responded dryly. Mika recoiled and stared at Yuu with wide eyes. Then, Mika wordlessly walked over to a nearby chair and plopped himself down, looking a mixture of shocked and offended. A moment later, Rene and Lacus appeared, curiously inspecting the situation.

“You know, Mika… you can teach him the basics of hosting as much as you want,” Rene said slowly from Yuu’s side, “but in Yuu’s case, he hasn’t even passed the first, most basic visual test.” Rene stepped around to face Yuu. From there, he lifted up his hands to frame Yuu’s face. He then began removing Yuu’s glasses, and Yuu tensed up with confusion as they were pulled away from his face. “Now, with someone of his type, even if you take off his glasses, his eyes just look that much smaller…”

“Hey!” Yuu spoke up, a small pout on his lips. “I lost my contacts the day of the school’s opening ceremony, so that’s not my fault…”

Suddenly, Rene and Lacus were shoved aside and Mika stood before him, eyes wide and cheeks lightly flushed. “Rene, Lacus! Go get the spare uniform and bring Yuu-chan to the changing room.”

“Yes, sir!” They said in unison, and then Mika pointed to the glasses-guy.“Kimizuki, let the school know we need money for another spare uniform!” The host apparently named Kimizuki was already dialing someone’s number on a phone. Mika then looked to Gekkoin. “Gekkoin, to the doctor to arrange for contact lenses!”

“Mika-senpai, what about me?” Yoichi asked with a big smile.

Mika looked at him with a smile. “Entertain the guests while they’re busy. I’ll help you until Yuu-chan is ready.”

And before Yuu could ask what the hell was going on, he was tugged by both arms to some other room and being told that he was getting a makeover.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Yuu gulped as he buttoned up the shirt he was given by Lacus, then pulled the pale blue Ouran blazer over his shoulders. After changing into the expensive clothes, he felt a lot nicer-looking than before. He fixed his hair up a little and finally stepped out from behind the curtain, peering at the others with wonder.

“Are you sure I can keep this uniform?” he asked, blinking questioningly at Mika.

Mika, who looked starstruck with a flush across his cheeks.

“How adorable…” he whispered, his eyes glittering as he looked down at Yuu. “You almost look like a girl.”

“Yuu-kun, you look so cute!” Yoichi piped up.

“If that’s how you really look…” Rene murmured, “you should have said so sooner.”

“You might even be able to draw in some customers like that,” Kimizuki noted.

“It’s all just as I figured,” Mika said with a proud glint in his eye. “Starting today, you are an official member of the Host Club and I will personally train you to be a first-rate host. Yuu-chan, if you can get 100 customers to request you, we will forgive your 8 million-yen debt.”

Yuu stared at him, bright green eyes large and round with disbelief. “I’m a host now…!? Wait, since when did I-”

Before Yuu knew what was happening, he was interrupted, then ushered and seated in front of a classy coffee table with two girls, who looked at him with excitement and intrigue. They were already drilling him with questions, and Yuu’s head was spinning with the speed of what was going on around him.

“Yuu-kun, what hobbies do you have?” one girl asked him, a smile on her face.

“Do you do anything special to your skin?” another one asked. “It’s terribly pretty.”

Yuu was practically twitching with discomfort.

I can’t do this… I have no idea what I should be doing.

“Yuu-kun, why did you join this club?” a different girl piped up curiously.

Yuu stared at her, wanting to answer honestly that he was forced to, but knowing that wouldn’t be satisfactory. He remembered in that moment that if he could get 100 people to request him, he would be relieved of the debt that kept him working here.

Thinking harder, Yuu realized he had just the story for them.

After a winded explanation, Yuu paused and allowed the girls to respond.

“I see… your mother passed away 10 years ago after being sick?” One girl reflected, her eyes dark with pity. “So, who does the domestic chores in your house?”

“Oh, I do those by myself,” Yuu said earnestly. His cheeks warmed slightly with the fond memory of his mother, smiling and handing him her favorite cookbook. He glanced off to the side as he said, “My mother was good at cooking, and she left me lots of recipes when she was in the hospital… learning each of them is fun to do, and on days when they turn out well, my father is delighted, too. Those are the times that I really like…”

There was a brief pause amongst the girls and Yuu, who stared at him with slightly watery eyes and pinkish cheeks.

“Um… tomorrow, could we request you again…?” one of the girls said, appearing a bit breathless and shy.

“I would appreciate that!” Yuu said, internally cheering that he was one step closer to relieving his debt.

Off to the side, Kimizuki acknowledged, “Despite being an idiot, he’s popular right from the start…”

Lacus added, “A real natural.”

“No help needed,” finished Rene.

“Mikaela-sama!” The woman from before piped up, shooting Mika a harsh glare, for he had become very distracted by staring at Yuu’s soft, sparkling eyes. Not missing a beat, he turned back to the girls with a flashy smile.

“Oh, I’m sorry, my princess,” Mika apologized gracefully, “I’m just a little concerned about my kitten over there.”

“You seem to be keeping an eye on that one quite a bit,” she observed, giving Mika a sly smirk.

“I’m worried about him,” Mika said sweetly, then turned over his shoulder and called out, “Yuu-chan! Come here for a minute.”

“Yes?” Yuu said once he approached, peering at the refined lady with weary eyes.

“Say hello,” Mika told him. “This is my regular guest, Aiko Aihara.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Yuu said, smiling brightly like he had been before. In an instant, Mika’s face was red as he stared up at Yuu. He looked like he wanted to say something, but before he could, more of Mika’s guests spoke up and stole his attention away.

Yuu thought he saw Aiko giving him a rather… dark look. But before anything could be done about it, Yuu himself was overwhelmed and so he stepped aside to talk to the girls who approached him, forgetting all about the strange look that Aiko had given him.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

When the day was finally over and Yuu was left alone, he was eager to get home and away from the heavily-perfumed room. He felt like was going to suffocate from the flowery fragrance that seemed to never leave, and with a scrunched nose he searched for his bag, which was was sure he left in the back room when he was changing into his new uniform.

Oddly enough, his bag was gone. Yuu searched around, assuming it was simply misplaced or moved somewhere else by another host… but he couldn’t find it anywhere. Before he could go ask someone, something caught his eye outside. When he looked out the window, his heart sank at the sight of his bag floating in the clear fountain water below.

“Are you fucking kidding me…” Yuu grumbled, his forehead pressed against the window. He thought bullying wouldn’t be a thing at this school, but it seemed he was sorely mistaken.

With a deep, aggravated sigh, Yuu left the room and headed down to the courtyard to retrieve his soaked belongings. On his way down, he passed someone who he didn’t give a second glance to, but she spoke up and caused Yuu to pause in his tracks.

“Oh, it’s you.”

The weird way she regarded him had Yuu skidding to a stop. He turned and listened, his eyebrows furrowed with confusion as he recognized the girl.

It was Aiko- that customer that Mika introduced him to. She tilted her head with a small smile on her lips, though the gleam in her eyes was anything but friendly.

“How nice for you,” she said, “to have Mikaela-sama tidy you up. While you’re at it, why don’t you correct your poor upbringing?”

Yuu was shocked. He had no idea what to say in response, for he was still trying to wrap his mind around her strange words, and by the time he managed to ask what she meant, she was gone.

Yuu was confused the entire time as he stepped around the fountain, pants rolled up to his knees so they didn’t get wet while he collected his things. She was likely the person who dumped his things in the water considering her strange demeanor, but Yuu didn’t understand her reasons. What did he ever to do her?

After searching for a while, Yuu found everything except his wallet, which was the most important thing. If he didn’t find it, he wouldn’t have money for lunch that week… and that would be a serious issue.

“Hey, Yuu-chan.”

Yuu paused and stood upright to look over his shoulder at the strikingly beautiful prince behind him. Mika stood there, head tilted as he regarded Yuu with a small smile.

“You’ve got some nerve, skipping out on your club activities,” Mika said as he stuffed his hands in his pockets.

“I thought we were allowed to leave,” Yuu admitted with a frown. He shook his head and turned back to the water. “I need to find my wallet.”

“What happened to your stuff?” Mika asked, seeming to ignore Yuu’s dismissive tone.

“I just dropped it,” Yuu lied through his teeth. “I can’t find my food money for this week.”

There was a long period of silence, so Yuu assumed he just left because he was bored with whatever Yuu was doing. He wasn’t expecting the water to ripple around his ankles from behind, indicating that someone else had entered the fountain. When Yuu looked up, his eyes widened with shock as he saw Mika stepping through the water, eyes narrowed as he peered through the shallow water in search for Yuu’s wallet.

“You don’t have to, you’ll get all wet…” Yuu muttered, though he was secretly feeling strangely happy that Mika had decided to help him.

“Getting wet isn’t going to do any harm, is it?” Mika argued as he reached into the water. When he went on, his usual sparkly demeanor was gone. In fact, he sounded almost… tired as he murmured, “People always say that I’m dripping with good looks, after all.”

Yuu turned to look at him, eyes wide as he studied Mika’s profile which seemed to glow with the late afternoon sun. His eyes gleamed as he peered into the water, and his golden hair curled neatly around his face, soft and luscious in appearance.

Well, they aren’t wrong, Yuu thought as a light blush dusted his cheeks. Mika really was a gorgeous person, though his tone had intrigued Yuu enough to freeze him in place.

It was almost like Mika was… truly not as happy as he pretended to be, which caught Yuu off guard. Though before he could ask about it, Mika spoke up again, as cheerful as before.

“Oh? This might be what you’re looking for.”

Mika suddenly straightened up with a wallet clasped in his hand. Yuu watched, stunned as Mika approached him with the wallet and extended it to Yuu, a genuine smile on his face. He leaned down and looked into Yuu’s eyes, his azure gaze glittering with amusement.

“What’s wrong? You haven’t fallen for me, have you?” Mika teased, causing Yuu’s face to flush an even darker red as he reached out and snatched his wallet from Mika’s hand. He didn’t want Mika to know he was thinking that he actually was quite pretty, and even worse, that Yuu was wondering about Mika’s true personality.

After he let out a lighthearted chuckle, Mika stood upright and seemed to become much more serious than before.

“Still, how does something like this happen?” Mika asked, his eyes darker than usual. Yuu looked back up at him, lips parted with hesitation. He could tell Mika that he thought it was Aiko’s doing… but he didn’t want to stir the pot of any sort of drama. He pursed his lips and curled his hands into fists.

“Someone… might have thrown it in,” Yuu murmured, “but it’s no big deal. We have to get back to the club, right?”

Mika watched as Yuu stepped over the edge of the fountain and did his best to shake his feet dry. His eyes narrowed, speculative and hesitant, but he dropped it for now as he followed Yuu out and did the same.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“I… dropped it out the window,” Yuu said, a slightly embarrassed flush on his cheeks as he looked across the table at none other than Aiko.

Truthfully, he felt incredibly awkward. Why would she request Yuu, of all people, when Yuu knew she hated him already?

“I see,” Aiko said over a cup of tea, her smile wide and sickly. “That must have been terrible, huh? Having your bag fall into the pond all on its own… although, to make Mikaela-sama go through all the trouble of picking up your grimy bag for you… you really don’t know your own place, do you? Mikaela-sama is only paying you any attention because your upbringing was so unusual. Don’t go getting any ideas as to why he’s doting on you.”

The sudden sharp, cruel words were unexpected, but Yuu didn’t let it get to him. He was distracted as he listened to exactly what Aiko was saying.

“So what you mean is…” Yuu murmured, eyes wide as he studied Aiko’s face, “...you’re jealous?”

Yuu wasn’t sure how or why it happened. Suddenly Aiko’s arm flew out and knocked the vase of flowers off the table. Yuu acted fast, not wanting any broken glass to hurt her (even if she was a raging bitch), and so he lunged forward in an attempt to protect her.

Somehow, she ended up pinned beneath him on the ground. As soon as they hit the floor, Aiko let out a shrill cry.

“Yuu-kun just attacked me!” Aiko cried out, gaining the attention of everyone in the room as she pointed shakily up at Yuu. “Somebody, quick! Deal with this commoner!”

Yuu sat back and got off of her, eyes wide as he stared down at her outraged face. Though instead of showing her sympathy, Mika stepped over with an icy cold glint in his eyes. He reached down and helped Aiko to her feet, his face cold and unmoving.

“Mikaela-sama, Yuu-kun assaulted me!” Aiko cried to him, her eyes shimmering with faux tears as she looked up at Mika. He reached out, trailing his fingers along her jaw as he spoke lowly and sternly.

“How disgraceful,” he murmured, seemingly about Yuu before he went on. “You’re the one who threw Yuu-chan’s bag in the pond, aren’t you?”

“H-How can you say that!?” Aiko stammered, her face immediately twisting into one of disgust and offense. “Do you have any proof?”

“You really are quite pretty,” Mika said as he tilted her face up, forcing their eyes to meet. There, Aiko saw nothing but pure, freezing cold rage in his deep blue eyes as he smiled menacingly. “But despite this, you’re not fit to be our guest. I know this much…” his smile faded and instead, he glared harshly at Aiko as he sharply said, “Yuu-chan is not that kind of man.”

There was a heavy pause between them. Mika’s hand fell from her face and he stared down at her, clearly no longer playing ‘Host’ for her enjoyment. She staggered back and looked around at everyone else, who simply watched with wide eyes.

“M-Mikaela-sama, you idiot!” Aiko cried out, then ran out of the room in a dramatic hurry. Everyone watched as she slammed the door behind her, and once the excitement was over, the other hosts busied themselves with their guests. Mika, meanwhile, reached down to Yuu with his hand extended.

“I can get up on my own,” Yuu argued softly, though he took Mika’s hand anyways and allowed him to pull him up to his feet. He smiled down at Yuu, his face beautiful and blinding as always, and Yuu squinted at him before looking off to the side.

“...thank you,” Yuu muttered, his cheeks warming from the expression of gratitude. He wondered why Mika was still holding onto his hand, but despite this Yuu didn’t move to pull away. “You were… kinda cool.”

Yuu stepped away after saying that, his face warm with embarrassment, though he failed to notice the way Mika turned a spectacular shade of red.

He also failed to notice Kimizuki’s snarky comment as he left to go find proper cleaning supplies for the shattered vase.

Kimizuki leaned over to Mika and, with a smirk, he mused, “He seems to be exactly your type, Mika.”

Chapter Text

After classes the following week, Yuu found himself rushing down the polished, shiny floors of Ouran Academy.

He knew they would hound him if he showed up late… to the club he was forced to join. The whole situation was unbelievable, and yet there Yuu was, dutifully trotting down the halls in order to arrive to Music Room #3 in time.

Despite his best efforts, Yuu realized he was indeed a bit late… but he couldn’t help it. He was focusing very hard on his studies and practicing his Latin when he suddenly remembered the time. The Host Club wasn’t the first thing on his mind, especially not when he had a very important and high GPA to maintain, so who could blame him for forgetting to check the time every so often?

Yuu let out a little sigh as he pushed open the door to the club room. Hopefully, no guests were there yet… but when he peered inside, his eyes widened with disbelief.

There were… trees. Everywhere.

Yuu saw a few butterflies drifting through the air. The sun shone in brilliantly through the massive floor-to-ceiling windows, casting golden rays across the broad, vibrant green leaves of the palm trees and ferns within. A chameleon was crawling along one of the stems of a nearby plant while a bright orange butterfly landed contently on a blossoming red hibiscus flower.

Yuu stared in shock at a toucan perched up on a tree branch. It was currently preening a spot under its wing with its long, broad orange beak.

Where… am I? Did I take a wrong turn somewhere?

Yuu’s eyes slowly trailed to look in front of him, where the morons known as the Host Club were standing and posing as if it was anyone other than Yuu stepping inside. Well, he was in the right place… somehow.

But he had no idea what the hell he was staring at. When he opened the door… there were the south tropics.

All of them were wearing traditional Balinese sarongs, tied low on their hips and in varying colors. Lacus and Rene wore scarlet-red sarongs while Yoichi wore a green one. Gekkoin’s was a deep violet and Kimizuki’s was pink to match his hair. All of them had varying headbands and golden glimmering necklaces draped over their bare chests with the exception of Yoichi, who instead fashioned a cute lei of kika blossoms.

Meanwhile, Mika was the most extravagant of them all- he was completely decked out like a Majapahit prince. On his head was a crown of gold leaves to match his brilliant blond hair, which glinted in the sunlight and dazzled whoever looked at him. He was also bare-chested, much to Yuu’s embarrassment; he flushed slightly as he took in the sight of Mika’s lean torso and smooth skin, which was revealed all the way down to the hips. There, he wore sashes of embroidered red-and-gold silk, and around his waist was another silk rope sufficing as a belt.

He sat upon a fancy woven-twine chair, where he held a paper fan to cool himself off. He fixed Yuu with a charming smile and smoothly said, “Welcome, Yuu-chan.”

“You’re late,” Lacus said with a frown, now relaxing upon realizing that it wasn’t a guest but instead, another host at the door.

Yuu squinted at them and looked down at his phone. It was still definitely still early April, so how did they manage to make this place look like summer…? He yelped as the toucan suddenly flew down and landed on his head, but he didn’t attempt to swat it away. He was still in shock, but honestly, having such a wild bird sitting on him was actually kind of cool.

But how the hell they managed to get a bunch of exotic animals in this room, plus all the trees and flowers… Yuu had no idea. He stared at Mika, questions clouding his expression and making it clear to him that he was very confused.

“Um… so why does it look this way?” Yuu decided to ask something simple to start with.

“Huddling under a kotatsu table fearing the cold would be nonsense,” Mika said matter-of-factly. “Why else do we have this perfect heating and cooling system? Fine men don’t bundle up in bulky clothing. It may be a chilly early spring out in the world, but in our club, we welcome our frigid guests into a warm, south tropical aura. Today, this place is a supreme paradise- a hot island of everlasting summer!”

Yuu squinted at Mika, once again feeling his eyes burn slightly from the sheer blinding beauty that seemed to be radiating from every inch of his body. From the golden bracelets on his wrists to the colorful silken sashes on his waist… he really was a sight to behold. It was almost too much.

“What, do you not like our setup?” Kimizuki grunted, noticing his disapproving face. His head tilted to the side as he regarded Yuu with a scowl. “Don’t forget you owe us 8 million yen, dumbass.”

Yuu flinched and glared at Kimizuki. His host and true personas were truly polar opposites... and Yuu was very close to fighting back, but he didn’t want to increase his debt any more, so he simply huffed and turned away. As he turned, he noticed Gekkoin running around the maze of trees with Yoichi clinging to his back in a piggy-back style.

“Well, we have an outfit for you, so go change before the guests arrive,” Mika said, a wink accenting his statement. Yuu froze and turned back to him with wide eyes.

“Huh…!? An outfit!?”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“What heartlessness,” Mika spoke smoothly, his voice silken and charming as he lifted the chin of a girl seated at the table. The girl’s eyes widened and her cheeks reddened as he leaned in. “Even with my outfit, like that of a Balinese king- all too fitting for me- I am no more than a slave before my goddess, kneeling and swearing my loyalty… to you.”

“Mikaela-sama…!” the girl breathed, her eyes sparking with amazement. The other girls watched on with bated breath, but Yuu simply glared at Mika as he set down a few non-alcoholic martinis before the girls. Sliced fruit perched on the rims of the glasses to make their presentation even more delightful.

“Next week, Ouran Host Club will be sponsoring a dance party,” Mika said as he straightened up, azure eyes glittering with excitement. Yuu was going to ask what he meant, but his attention was pulled elsewhere- he heard another girl say something about the dance party at another table, and so he listened to them instead.

“What will you be doing at the party?” She was asking Lacus and Rene, who listened to her with content smiles.

“We’re renting the large hall in the central building,” Rene said, “and throwing a big main event there.” But then, he turned to Lacus and pulled the other man close, tilting his chin up to align their lips, as if they were going to kiss. He gazed into Lacus’s eyes as he murmured, “Although, I really wanted to spend the time alone with you, Lacus…”

“Don’t say that, Rene…!” Lacus responded passionately, his eyes glittering with embarrassment. His cheeks reddened as he shyly added, “I’m the one who really wanted it…”

“This is fantastic!” The girls squealed together. “Boys love with a south tropical flavor…!”

Yuu squinted at the ridiculous display, but as he turned away he nearly bumped right into Kimizuki. The usually-rude host was now acting prim and proper to fulfill his persona, though he broke character to glare down at Yuu.

Not feeling the need to bicker in that moment, Yuu sighed and said, “The guests seem even more worked-up than usual, huh?”

“A little skin exposure is popular,” Kimizuki noted while nodding down to their outfits. Yuu didn’t want to be reminded. He blushed a little at being reminded that he was mostly topless with only a silken sash stretched over his shoulder to cover up his bare skin. He wasn’t as exposed as some of the others, but still…

“Did you come up with this tropical project?” Yuu asked, wondering now because of his comment.

“I don’t come up with these things,” Kimizuki answered with a snort. “They all come from Mika’s wild imagination. But I may or may not have slipped a photo of Bali onto his desk the other day.”

Yuu stared at him with wonder. Kimizuki was totally the shadow king, there was no doubt about it. Yuu leaned against the makeshift bar as he glanced out over the guests and their hosts. His attention was caught by Yoichi this time, who came out from wherever he was hiding and extended his arms with a broad smile.

“Ta-da!” he cheered, showing off his lei with a broad smile to his guests.

“Yoichi-kun, you’re so cute!” The girls cooed all around him.

“Hehe, these are kika blossoms! We had them flown in,” Yoichi told the girls, who gazed at him with delight and excitement. A certain, tall, white-haired host was walking by when suddenly Yoichi turned and smiled up at him. “Ah, Gekkoin!”

Gekkoin paused to look down at Yoichi, blinking and silent as Yoichi picked another lei of flowers off the table. He reached up, having to stand on his tip-toes to toss the lei over Gekkoin’s head. As the flowers settled onto his shoulders, Yoichi smiled broadly and wrapped his arms around Gekkoin’s waist, then nuzzled into his bare, muscular chest.

“Look, now we match!” Yoichi cheered with a happy, rosy flush on his cheeks. The girls squealed and fanned themselves, overjoyed at the sight before them of Yoichi clinging to his tall, very brawny friend.

As usual, Yuu wasn’t sure what those two were doing and what it meant, but he snapped back to the present when he noticed a few girls clustered around him. Kimizuki was gone and he was on his own- it seemed that he had some girls to please now.

“I hope that the cherry blossoms are in full bloom for the dance party!” One girl was saying as she sipped on a fruity, orange drink. “Imagine, the two of us dancing among the fluttering cherry blossoms… it’s so dreamy!”

“You really think so?” another girl said with a swoon. They continued chattering for a moment, and so Yuu took this moment as his cue to do something to charm them.

He tilted his head to the side, his eyes glittering and soft as he sweetly said, “Ladies, you’re so cute to have such dreams.” In response to his seemingly simple words, the girls all froze up, their faces rosy as they smiled shyly. Yuu parted his lips to go on, but someone approached his side and softly spoke up.

“Excuse me,” she said, “I believe that it’s just about time for designee changes.” Yuu stared at her, a little confused. She tilted her head and raised a hand to lightly twirl her long, brown hair between her fingers. “I’m your next appointment. Akane Lida, 2nd-year, class B.” Oh, that was right- Yuu’s free time was about over now. Though before he could respond, he was taken by surprise.

Akane reached up, lightly taking Yuu’s chin and tilting it so she could get a better look at him. Yuu’s eyes widened at the touch, his face instantly warming with embarrassment.

“You’re even cuter than the rumors,” Akane said, her brown eyes sparkling. “I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to make you my new favorite.”

Yuu didn’t see the problem with that. His heart thudded with excitement- after all, more requests meant he was closer to paying back his debt- so he nodded a little breathlessly. “Uh… sure. Let’s go sit over there?”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

There was more to the situation than what met the eye, apparently.

After the day was over, Yuu was astonished to see the entire room cleaned out in record time. A bunch of people filed in and carried off all the trees, plants and animals without hesitation- Yuu assumed they were hired beforehand- and then everyone was changed back into their usual school uniforms before the sun sank below the horizon.

Off to the side, Mika was very noisily slurping on some noodles, his eyes dark and narrowed. He looked much different than earlier, when he was practically radiating with optimism and grace for his hosts.

Now, his eyebrows were scrunched and he looked like he could punch a hole through the wall.

“Stop eating that commoner’s ramen so damn loudly and come help us with the dance party planning,” Kimizuki demanded, further solidifying Yuu’s assumption that Kimizuki was truly the force behind all the Host Club’s activities.

“Is Princess Akane taking a liking to Yuu really bothering you that much?” Lacus asked with a small smirk.

“Her stupid illness isn’t something that just started, right?” Kimizuki muttered as he tapped away on the keyboard to his laptop.

“Illness…?” Yuu asked, eyes narrowed.

“Wandering host-hopping disease,” Rene said flatly, as if this was a real medical condition. “Otherwise known as never-the-same-boy-twice disease.”

“Usually, the girls who come around have a favorite that they always visit, but she can’t seem to make up her mind,” Kimizuki went on to explain.

“Up until last time, she was with Mika-kun, right?” Yoichi asked, leaning against his chair with his plush bunny, Usa-chan, nestled comfortably in his lap.

“Ah, so this is because he had his guest taken from him?” Yuu muttered with a sideways glance at Mika, who heard him and turned abruptly in his seat.

“That’s not why!” Mika snapped. “Why do you have to be so popular with the girls when you’re gay? The only ones who know that you’re gay are in this club, so why…!?”

Yuu rolled his eyes as he glanced at all the others around him. Mika continued on but Yuu stopped listening. He muttered to himself, “You act like I’m the only gay one here.”

“By the way, do you have any experience in social dancing?” Rene asked, now also ignoring Mika and Yoichi, who was now consoling their club leader. “It’s essential for the party.”

“Huh?” Yuu stared at him blankly. “No… but the party has nothing to do with my quota, right? I’m not all that interested in going to events, so if I could be excused…”

“No, social dances are a common practice for a gentleman,” Mika said, now suddenly listening to their conversation. He fixed Yuu with a stern expression and continued on. “If you want to walk the path of the host that badly, then you have to show us how far you’re willing to go, Yuu-chan. If you can’t master the waltz in one week and demonstrate it to us at next week’s party, then you’re back to being an errand boy.”

Yuu stared at him in shock, already feeling the world crumble beneath his feet.

Seriously…!? I only have one week!?

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The following day, Yuu somehow found himself stepping in circles around the room with none other than Akane Lida in his arms.

Lacus and Rene insisted that letting the customers practice with Yuu would be a great activity. They would find his inexperience endearing and be willing to help him out. Sure enough, Akane was first in line, a gentle smile on her lips as she stepped into Yuu’s embrace.

Meanwhile, Mika stood off to the side, watching with dark, envious eyes as they twirled around the makeshift dance floor.

“Quick, quick, slow…” Akane said as she tried to guide Yuu around. He did his best to keep up, though his cheeks burned hot with embarrassment from how close they were and from the nervousness he felt. Even if she was a girl, it was intimidating to be so close to someone so beautiful. Yuu gulped and tried not to let his nervousness show as he followed Akane’s instructions. “Good, Yuu-kun. On ‘slow,’ bring your feet together. The gentleman always leads. Be sure to look at the girl you’re dancing with.”

“R-Right…” Yuu stammered, looking up from their feet to instead focus on Akane’s sparkling eyes. He tried not to let his eyes wander to Gekkoin and Yoichi, who were currently spinning around at a ridiculous speed. Yoichi’s laughter was loud and bubbly, much to the happiness of their customers.

Yet despite his attempt to not get distracted, he did- and somehow managed to lose his balance. With a yelp, he toppled forward and fell, pinning Akane beneath him on the floor, his knees bordering her thighs, where they were pressed together beneath her dress. She looked up at him breathlessly, and Yuu immediately felt his face plummet into a deep shade of red. How could he possibly be so damn clumsy!?

“I-I’m so sorry, Akane-san!” Yuu stammered, but she reached up and wound her arms around his neck. He let out a surprised, choked sound as she pulled him down, bringing their faces rather close together.

“That’s alright, Yuu-kun,” she responded with a warm voice and flirtatious smile. Yuu might have choked a little on his breath. He briefly thought that if he was straight, he might have been thrilled to see such a beautiful girl flirting with him.

“You look gloomy, Mika,” Lacus teased from the side of the dance floor, far enough to where Yuu couldn’t hear him. He then turned to Rene and slyly remarked, “He said that he wanted to be the one Yuu practiced with.”

“He’s too tall to stand in as a woman for Yuu,” Rene stated. Mika glared harshly at them, and so they scurried off to tend to their next guests before they were reprimanded.

“Thank you for letting me practice with you,” Yuu was saying once they got to their feet. He lead her to a nearby table, where cookies and hot tea awaited her.

“Oh, that’s okay,” Akane said with a kind smile. “I know you’re trying to do some special training, so I’m that much happier to have you all to myself.”

Yuu stared at her, suddenly noticing a strange glint in her eyes. He didn’t really understand it, but it seemed… less genuine than before. He didn’t know what to say, but before he could even think of anything, Akane was already distracted with the teacup on her table.

“Oh, my!” She remarked, and Yuu glanced up as he noticed Kimizuki approaching them. “You got new cups? Ginori, right?”

“You do indeed have a keen eye,” Kimizuki said, his speech now formal and elegant- much unlike his usual brash tone of voice. “They arrived only yesterday. Lately, our club has been seeking to improve its tea sets.”

“I see,” Akane murmured while looking down at the emerald-green teacup. “It’s a nice color… very lovely.”

“You must really like tableware, huh?” Yuu said with a friendly smile. For some reason, this statement had Akane’s eyes widening as she flushed dark red.

“N-N-Not really, no, I don’t!” She defended suddenly, her eyes wide with embarrassment. “My word, what are you talking about?” She then erupted into a bout of nervous laughter, which had Yuu even more confused than before. Of course she liked it- he just saw the tender expression in her eyes as she caressed the teacup. So why would she hide it…?

“Excuse me, I’ve brought the teacups you ordered,” came a voice from the doorway. Kimizuki turned to address the delivery person, but the sound of the voice had Akane tensing up suddenly in her seat, her eyes wide with alarm. Yuu noticed this shift in her expression and, feeling confused, he looked up at the guy who had just walked in.

“Thank you,” Kimizuki said kindly to him. “Every item that you choose for us is popular with the girls. It’s very impressive.”

“That’s good to hear,” he responded, his grayish eyes sparkling with delight.

“Are you a dealer?” Yuu asked, eyes round with curiosity as he approached the man.

“I’m just a regular student,” the black-haired teen responded with a laugh. Yuu only just noticed his uniform and realized how silly his question sounded; he blushed and looked down at his feet. The silence following his embarrassment was accompanied by sharp laughter.

“Yuu-kun, you’re so funny!” Akane said, turning around in her chair to smile at him. Despite her smile, her eyes were… distant and somewhat guarded. “Still, I can’t blame you. He doesn’t look like the heir to a first-class corporation, after all.”

“Heir?” Yuu echoed.

“His family business centers around the importing of tablewares,” Kimizuki informed him. “Currently, it has the top market share in the country. So whenever anything exceptional comes in, we’ve asked him to send it our way. That’s because we trust your eye for these things, Kouta-kun.”

Yuu listened to Kimizuki’s words, but he was more focused on the strange expressions both Akane and Kouta wore. Akane’s expression fell into something more sullen, and she turned around slowly to focus on her tea. Meanwhile, Kouta gazed at her pitifully, almost like he had something to say but didn’t know how to express himself.

“Oh, no, my eye still has a long way to go,” Kouta responded modestly, a small smile resting on his face as he turned back to Kimizuki.

“Your studying abroad in England starts next month, was it?” Kimizuki asked with a tilt of his head.

“Yes,” Kouta affirmed. He nodded to Kimizuki and Yuu. “Well, I’ll be off.”

Yuu was still focused on Akane, who was now sulking and looking down at her tea with a dark expression. He couldn’t quite see her face from his angle, but… Yuu frowned and took a step forward. He paused, however, when he noticed a particular blond approach her table first.

“Are you enjoying the host club?” Mika asked, a tender smile on his lips as he paused beside her table. She didn’t answer, so Yuu stepped over, deciding to ask the first thing on his mind.

“Are you close to that guy who was just here?” Yuu asked. Somehow, his question got her up in arms. She tensed up and flushed red again, just like when he asked her about her interest in tableware.

“Huh!?” Akane blurted out as she turned around to face him. “N-N-Not really, no, I’m not! M-My word, what are you talking about, Yuu-kun!?” Yuu blinked widely at her. Didn’t she just say the exact same thing in response to liking teacups?

“N-Now, if you’ll excuse me, take care!” Akane said in a hurry before darting from the club room, flustered and shaken. Yuu didn’t have a chance to get a word in before she was out the door and long gone.

Yuu was about to turn back to Mika and ask if he knew anything, though in what felt like a mere second, Yoichi had draped themselves over his shoulders and cheerfully called out, “Yuu-kun! You know, Kouta-kun is Akane-chan’s fiance!”

Yuu staggered from the extra weight and willed his heart to slow down after such a startling embrace, but he was even more surprised by Yoichi’s words.

“Kimizuki, how long have you known?” Mika asked suddenly, stepping past Yuu and Yoichi to look sternly at the taller man.

“About him being her fiance?” Kimizuki turned to him with arched brows. No other customers were around in that moment, so Kimizuki dropped his host facade. “I research all sorts of stuff like that about our guests on my free time. They’re childhood friends and their engagement was arranged by their parents. I didn’t think we’d ever need to know this shit and yet here we are.”

“Alright then,” Mika said, lifting his chin authoritatively. “Let’s examine our strategy. Ouran Host club exists in order to bring happiness to the girls… and their relationship is clearly estranged. We need to fix this.”

“We do?” Yuu muttered, his eyes narrowed with doubt, but everyone else was already enthusiastically agreeing.

Mika smirked and looked at Yuu. “I know just how to go about this.”

Yuu tried to fight the sudden dread settled in his gut, but he knew that no matter what Mika had planned… there was no escape for him now.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

One week later, the grand main hall was clustered with eager, excited girls as the lights went dim. A single spotlight shone down on the main speaker, who stood atop the grand staircase with a charming smile. His white suit shone in the light, seeming to shimmer and sparkle along with the stars in the sky. He extended a graceful arm and bowed to the guests all gathered before him.

He spoke proudly. “My little lambs who have gathered here tonight… Ouran Host Club bids you a fond welcome to this dance party.”

After saying this, all the hosts who were posed along the staircase bowed in unison with Mika.

The lights were all switched on in a grandiose, pompous display. The chandeliers on the ceiling dazzled and sparked high above the heads of the students. From off to the side of the room, the Ouran orchestra- dressed in suits and classy, sleek black dresses- began sliding their bows along their violins, violas, cellos and more. Others in the orchestra blew delicately into gleaming silver flutes and piccolos. Along the sides of the room were varying tables of fancy snacks and desserts, including a chocolate fondue fountain with sliced fruit for dipping.

The girls all broke into applause, their smiles bright and wide as they gazed up at Mika, Kimizuki, Yoichi, Gekkoin, Lacus, Rene, and Yuu, who had no idea how or why he was standing up there with everyone else.

He hoped he didn’t look ridiculous. His heart was slamming his chest from being put in the center of all the attention. At least he wasn’t as singled out as Mika was- but still, being the focus of so many people was overwhelming.

“We invite you to enjoy yourselves to your heart’s content as you dance with the Host Club members,” Kimizuki said to the crowd, his arms extended elegantly to gesture to the hosts beside him. “In addition, the guest who is recognized as the best dancer and is chosen as tonight’s queen will received an impassioned kiss on the cheek from the king.”

Mika smiled sweetly out to the girls and said, “Good luck to you… my queen.”

The girls erupted into frenzied squeals in response to such a reward. Yuu thought he saw one girl fall over onto the floor- he honestly wouldn’t be surprised if that was what he really saw.

“Yuu, your enthusiasm is low,” Rene sharply accused from Yuu’s side.

“I’m not used to this sort of thing,” Yuu grumbled. “The only dance party I’ve ever been to is the bon-odori festival at the neighborhood park.”

“You can’t call that a dance party…” Lacus muttered. “Well, you’re here anyways, so why don’t you at least try the cuisine? There’s a real spread.”

“A spread?” Yuu murmured while looking up at Lacus, his cheeks slightly rosy, for he felt embarrassed that he didn’t really know about all this stuff. “L-Like with fancy tuna?”

“You poor thing!” Lacus cried out as he threw his arms around Yuu’s shoulders. Mika had joined them now, his eyes wide and face pinkish as he regarded Yuu’s flushed face. He was being coddled by Lacus and on the other side was Rene, pitifully patting his shoulder.

“Get some tuna here, stat,” Mika said to Kimizuki, “and add some deluxe sushi.” Kimizuki was already pulling out his phone to make the order, and Yuu was all but baking in embarrassment from all the attention. He didn’t want his comment to cost them even more, and yet…!

Damn these rich people…! Yuu thought as he was pretty much smashed against Lacus’s chest in a crushing hug.

Eventually he was released and the hosts all dispersed into the party. All of the hosts danced with various girls, looking as sophisticated and classy as true princes. Yuu leaned up against a nearby column, watching them dance with a dazed expression. He wasn’t sure he could ever dance like they were, effortlessly guiding around various women without a single hitch. None of them stepped on their feet or tripped on their long gowns like Yuu would.

“Yuu-kun!”

Yuu turned with surprise when he saw a familiar person approaching him. Stepping over to him was Akane, with her hair braided neatly to one side over her exposed collarbone. She wore a beautiful blue dress that was sleeveless on one side- the dress was asymmetrical in fashion, covering the opposite shoulder of her braid. It hugged her form nicely and opened up on the side, exposing one of her long, graceful legs through the slit of her dress as she walked over to Yuu.

“I’ve been looking for you,” Akane said warmly. “You’ll dance with me, won’t you?”

“Yes, of course!” Yuu said, standing upright as he extended his hand to her invitingly. His heart pounded nervously, for now the plan that Mika had crafted was officially in action.

Yuu gulped heavily as he guided Akane to the center of the dance floor. As soon as he arrived, he caught the eye of Gekkoin, who nodded and gracefully dismissed his dance partner.

In seconds, he rushed after Yuu and scooped the smaller boy up in his arms. Akane had no time to react as Yuu was whisked away and brought out of sight in seconds. He had to admit that it was embarrassing being carried by Gekkoin, who was able to lift him so effortlessly- but the burn on his cheeks subsided as he was finally set down in the private room behind the staircase.

“You didn’t have to be so high-handed,” Yuu grumbled, wondering how many people saw them running out like that.

“Never mind, just get changed,” said Lacus briskly. He had followed them inside and thrust a bundle of clothing into Yuu’s arms. Yuu knew what it was, but… he still groaned with dread as he unfurled the dress in his arms.

Why he was the one who had to dress up as a girl now was beyond him, but… Mika had insisted it would work.

“You have 20 minutes until the party climax,” Lacus informed him. “We already called Kouta and he’s probably arriving soon.”

Yuu was shoved behind a curtain to get into the frilly green dress.

“Gracefully ask him what his feelings are,” Lacus continued on. “This is Mika’s strategy, and yet there’s something unsettling about it… but nevertheless, we do as he says!”

Yuu finally finished putting the dress and silky black wig on. He stepped out from behind the curtain, cheeks burning from the feeling of the light, flowy material fitting to his body and fanning out around his legs. He felt… dainty, somehow, and he didn’t meet Lacus’s eyes as he sat down abruptly into the chair in front of the vanity provided. Immediately Lacus got started with applying makeup to Yuu’s face, which Yuu would have never agreed with were it not for Mika’s assurance that it would not have to happen again…

...probably. He added that part after Yuu had already agreed to the plan. Honestly… at least Mika also added that Yuu didn’t have to prove himself with the waltz just yet and that he had more time to learn than just a week.

“What’s taking so long?” a voice asked sharply from the doorway after a few moments passed. “Kouta-kun is going to arrive any minute, and-”

Yuu looked up, eyes wide as Mika stepped inside and froze in place. He stared at Yuu, completely still and breathless and he took in Yuu’s feminine appearance.

“What do you think?” Lacus said with a smirk as he gestured to Yuu, who stood there with the strapless dress hugging his body tightly around the waist. It fanned out over his hips and cascaded into a dramatic, ruffled display, covering his legs and only revealing his ankles and high-heeled shoes. “Isn’t he cute?”

“My face feels heavy and it’s hard to walk in these shoes,” Yuu grumbled stiffly as he stood up, immediately teetering on the heels. They were small heels, and yet Yuu was worried he’d end up tripping and falling at some point. He cleared his throat, wondering if he could make his voice seem feminine enough to convince Kouta that he wasn’t… a guy in a dress.

“Now, go just outside the main doors,” Lacus said, “and wait for Kouta. He should arrive there in three minutes, for that’s the time we indicated on the fake letter. Go, hurry!”

“Okay, okay!” Yuu hissed as he stumbled out the room, his heart pounding strangely from the way Mika stared at him so intensely.

“Good luck!” Lacus cheered.

Yuu didn’t hear Mika whisper about how cute Yuu was under his breath, for he was already on his way to the doors and too far away to catch such a subtle confession.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Yuu cautiously stepped out into the moonlit hallway. It was narrower than the grand hall, where the dance was occurring currently. Unlike that place, the chandeliers here were dim and there was no one around.

No one except one solitary boy. Kouta turned with surprise as Yuu approached him, eyes shy and demure.

Kouta lifted a piece of paper in his hand. “You wrote this letter?” He paused and looked at Yuu, his expression a mixture of surprise and confusion. “You’re a lot different from what I imagined.”

Yuu hesitated. Was it that obvious that he was a dude…? Kouta tilted his head, trying to get a better look at Yuu. It must have been hard to really make out the details of his face thanks to the dark lighting of the night, but that was the whole point- in bright lighting, Yuu worried it would be too obvious who he was.

“Have we met somewhere…?” Kouta wondered out loud. Yuu’s heart jolted with panic. He couldn’t reveal his true identity!

“No, we’ve never met before!” Yuu defended quickly, hoping his voice was high-pitched enough to pass for a girl. He was beyond nervous and already thinking up excuses- he was sick, he had a throat disease, he was scared… all of the above, even.

“I’m sorry,” Kouta said calmly, and Yuu stared at him with wide eyes, questioning and eager to hear what he had to say. This was the most important part, to see if their mission would have any chance of working out. “I appreciate what you’ve said, but I can’t respond to your letter. I… already have another girl who is dear to me.”

Yuu straightened up. Bingo. He assumed it was Akane, but he had to press on just to make sure. “Kouta-san, is she your…”

“Unfortunately, she isn’t my girlfriend,” Kouta clarified before Yuu could even continue. “Or I should say… she’s through with me. She’d be better suited having a more dazzling, self-confident man…” Kouta looked out the window, watching as the cherry blossom petals twirled in the nighttime breeze. “That’s why I’d like to change as well. Looking at the world… I want to become an even greater man. I know it’s selfish of me, but what if you were to wait for me?”

Yuu nodded at him with understanding. “That really is selfish of you, huh?” Kouta winced at his words, but Yuu continued on unapologetically. “It’s crazy to think she’d undersand you unless you tell her so. You have clear feelings for her, so why are you hiding them from her? And if you want to change, well… I think that people can begin to change from the moment they decide they want to. So do it already.”

In that moment, Kouta stared at Yuu, amazed and breathless- and then the doors opened to show Akane, who appeared to be leaving the party.

She froze and Kouta breathed out her name. “Akane…”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Akane whispered bitterly. “I seem to be interrupting something… I’ll just…”

But then, Yuu watched with a pain in his chest as tears slid down her cheeks. She ducked her head down and turned, then ran down the hall. The sound of her heels clicking against the floor almost drowned out the hiccups of her cries, but Yuu still heard them and clearly, so did Kouta. The other boy called out her name and ran after her, pushing past Yuu without even glancing in his direction.

A moment later, Mika stepped out from the dance, his hands in his pockets as he joined Yuu’s side.

“Didn’t we just complicate things?” Yuu remarked, his eyebrows tense with concern as he watched them run off.

“He went running after her,” Mika said affirmatively. He looked down to Yuu with a sweet smile. “I’m assuming you want to change?”

“Please,” Yuu grumbled, turning to follow Mika back to the changing room.

As it turned out, Akane and Kouta returned to the dance hand in hand. Whatever issues they had were worked out and they were on the dance floor, smiling as they stepped in elegant circles amongst the other pairs.

Akane was announced as the dancing queen of the night, but she politely denied her reward in favor of kissing her fiance instead. The love story had all the girls at the dance swooning with delight, and all jealousy over anyone being kissed by Mika was avoided.

It was a brilliant plan in the end, and despite the fact that Yuu was still rubbing irritably at a little hint of eyeliner left on the corner of his eye, he had to admit that Mika was indeed a genius for pulling off something so outrageous in such a fabulous way.

Ouran Host club exists in order to bring happiness to the girls… Yuu thought back to Mika’s words from before, a small smile on his lips.

Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to be a host, after all.

Chapter Text

The gardens of Ouran Academy were absolutely stunning and the utter definition of extravagance.

The cherry blossoms were in full bloom, sprinkling perfectly pink petals all across the lawn. Within a special, gated section of the gardens were many tables with pristine white cloth draped over them. Atop the tables were delicate, pastel-pink tea sets and China plates, holding desserts like strawberry tarts, slices of fine lemon cake, crispy biscuits, scones, and chunks of fresh fruit. Flowers in decorative vases stood around the garden, and within the gated enclosure stood seven beautiful men in formal wear.

Mika, Kimizuki, Lacus, and Rene wore crisp black vests over white dress-shirts, with slacks and polished shoes to top off their outfits. Aprons were tied about their waists, for they were there to serve the women who would spend their brunch with the beautiful men.

The other three- Yuu, Yoichi, and Gekkoin- wore traditional Japanese yukatas, all of simple colors, yet very fitting of the springtime atmosphere around them. Gekkoin’s was a deep red, Yoichi’s was a soft pink and Yuu’s was a dark, fitting pine-green.

The yukatas accented them each, bringing out the color in their skin and eyes. In unison, they bowed and welcomed the women who were now stepping inside the gated area, eyes alight with excitement and joy.

It was the flower-viewing reception, for the flowers were now at their peak of the season. It was the hosts’ job to serve the women snacks and beverages as well as make the experience as delightful and romantic as possible.

“Which cup would the princess like her tea in?” a charming, smooth voice asked. The man in question stood behind a blushing first-year girl, his golden locks framing his stunning blue eyes and even more stunning smile. “The Foley? The worcester? Or perhaps the Susie Cooper Gardenia?”

“How pretty,” she gushed while placing a dainty hand over her chest. “These are all English antiques, right? Mikaela-kun, which one do you like?”

Mika reached down and took the girl’s hand in his own. She let out a soft, surprised gasp as Mika knelt down before her, tenderly grasping her hand.

“Why, I’d like to take my princess out, of course,” Mika answered, his eyes glittering with pure charm.

“Oh, Mikaela-kun…” the girl sighed, flustered by his bold and suave words.

“Have you ever been to Covent Garden?” Lacus asked his guests from another table. He held a tray of teacups for the girls.

“Nope,” one of the girls answered as she looked up at her waiter. “Our only antiques come from Portobello.”

“It’s quite interesting,” Rene added from where he stood beside Lacus. “Most of the Victorian pieces around here are from there-”

He was cut off, for as Lacus stepped forward and went to lower one of the teacups down, his foot caught on a loose tablecloth and he stumbled. The teacups spilled and the burning hot tea scalded Lacus’s hand. In shock, he dropped the tray and the contents all clattered to the ground.

Luckily, nothing got on the guests, and Rene acted quickly- partially due to genuine worry, but also to make sure their guests were not upset by this little hiccup.

“Lacus!” He gasped and turned around, watching as Lacus clutched his burning hand. One of his fingers had a cut in it, and little red droplets began beading from the wound. Quickly, Rene grasped Lacus’s hand and brought his finger up to his lips. He dutifully sucked on the wound, wanting to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible.

The lewd display had the two girls on the edges of their seats, eyes wide and faces flushed with excitement.

“For pity’s sake… that’s what you get for not watching what you’re doing,” Rene scolded softly, his lips brushing against Lacus’s finger. He raised passionate eyes to Lacus, who watched on with a flush across his face. “You just need to keep your eyes on me.”

“Rene…!” Lacus whispered, his eyes glimmering from embarrassment.

“I can’t take anymore!” One of the girls sighed, turning away with a quickly reddening face. “It’s just too fantastic!”

“You have to watch, or it will go to waste!” The other girl hissed. “This is a rare scene!”

“You’re absolutely right, miss.” The girl paused and looked up at the new host who had approached. He must have heard the ruckus and came over in a hurry in case anything had gone horribly wrong. Luckily, Lacus and Rene had it under control, but Kimizuki was there so he might as well make use of his presence.

Plus, he had to make his pitch to these guests.

He looked up to the cherry blossoms with a calm smile and murmured, “As with these cherry blossoms, beauty is fleeting. There isn’t a single day when you will see them like this again. And so…”

He then pulled out a book he had tucked under his arm. “I created this book, containing photo collections that capture the beauty of the passing days.” On the cover was Rene and Lacus… but then Kimizuki pulled out books with images of all the other hosts on their covers. All of them were in a bag he had slung over his shoulder, however he had the Lacus and Rene one handy because of the current situation. “Incidentally, I’ve prepared similar books for everyone else. In the event that you were to purchase them all together, there is a special set price.”

“I’ll buy them!”

“The whole set!”

Both girls sprang up from their seats eagerly, and from the side Lacus and Rene watched on after cleaning up the mess Lacus had accidentally made.

“So that’s how the club makes money,” Rene murmured in acknowledgement. “Which raises the question…” He gave a sideways glance at Lacus.

“When did he take any pictures of us?” Lacus wondered out loud.

Meanwhile, Yuu sat across from Yoichi, watching with a mixture of dread and apprehension as Yoichi aggressively whisked a cup of green tea… way beyond what he had to. The tea was splashing out over the edges and it was obvious Yoichi hadn’t added enough hot water. The girls seated with them seemed to be aware that what he was doing was wrong, but no one was saying anything.

Yuu was starting to lose hope. Should I tell him…?

He glanced up at Gekkoin, expecting the man that was always at Yoichi’s side to interrupt… but he just stared down at Yoichi, a small smile on his lips. He seemed very amused by Yoichi, which wasn’t helping anything in the slightest.

But finally… Gekkoin spoke up.

“Yoichi…” he leaned down, lips close to Yoichi’s ear as he murmured, “you lost too much.”

Oh… he said it. Yuu stared with wide eyes, wondering what Yoichi’s reaction would be. They all watched with bated breath as Yoichi’s expression slowly faded from shock to clear disappointment. His eyes shimmered and a light flush spread across his cheeks from humiliation.

“Y-Yoichi-kun, I’ll take it!” The girl nearest to him said, quickly taking the cup from him before he could cry about his mistake. “It looks delicious!” …despite there being next to nothing in the cup, Yuu finished to himself with a bewildered stare.

“Yes, that’s exactly the amount we wanted to have!” The other girl assured. “You’re amazing, Yoichi-kun! How ever did you know?”

“Really?” Yoichi breathed, his eyes alight once again as he sat upright. Yuu sighed deeply from where he knelt on the mat, already exhausted by this event. He stood up, deciding to take a break now that the girls were gushing over Yoichi’s terribly-made tea and Gekkoin was serving them sushi.

He stood and looked up at the cherry blossoms, trying to clear his mind. The sight was gorgeous, and he had to admit it was the perfect day to be outside. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, but he was not alone for much longer.

“Yuu-chan, how about it? Enjoying yourself?” Mika spoke up, causing Yuu to open his eyes and glance over his shoulder. “The flower-viewing reception isn’t all that bad. But then again, in our case, we’re more busy being admired than doing any admiring.”

“You’re blooming in more ways than one, huh?” Yuu snorted as he turned to face Mika, who seemed to be sparkling with the springtime atmosphere.

“Well said,” Mika complimented with a small, mischievous smirk. He stepped a little closer, his eyes fixed on Yuu as he reached up to Yuu’s hair. Momentarily stunned, Yuu watched as Mika picked a petal from Yuu’s hair and raised it to his lips.

“I wonder if you’ll fall for me, too,” Mika murmured before he planted a kiss the petal, and Yuu instantly felt his face heat from hearing such a corny line. He glanced to the side and huffed rather than answering, for he was wondering if Mika lived his life completely detached from the severity of the world.

Though before anything else could happen between them, Yuu was suddenly surrounded by two familiar people. His eyes widened as Lacus wrapped an arm about Yuu’s shoulders, pulling him back so that he leaned into Lacus’s chest. Meanwhile, one of his free hands was gently caressed by Rene, who stood right in front of him.

“Yuu, have you decided on your elective courses for this term?” Lacus asked, his breath ruffling Yuu’s hair just above his ear. He fidgeted slightly, wondering why they had to cling to him like he was one of their customers. He didn’t ask to be held this way, dammit.

“How about Conversational French?” Rene suggested, gripping Yuu’s hand a little tighter. “If you’re going to, let’s take it together. After all, we’re in the same class…”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Overhearing this conversation, Mika turned around and immediately found solace in Kimizuki, who so happened to be right nearby.

“Say, Kimizuki…” Mika murmured lowly, his eyes dark with envy. “Since Lacus and Rene are in the same class as Yuu-chan, they get to spend more time with him than I do. We only have our club activity time together… but because of their classmate status, they have a greater chance to become closer to him, which means-”

“Oh, you’re just now realizing that?” Kimizuki snickered. “Oh, and since they’re in the same class, they’ll be going through the physical examination at the same time.”

Mika stiffened, his eyes widening with realization. “The physical examination…”

Immediately, his mind wandered. There would be Yuu, shirtless and vulnerable. He was so cute, of course everyone would be staring at him. Yuu wouldn’t know why, but it was obviously because he was so desirable… Mika would be able to step in and protect Yuu. He would wrap his arm around his waist, pull him close and lift his chin to tell him he would always be safe-

“That can’t happen,” Mika said, interrupting his own thoughts with a stern voice as he turned and faced Kimizuki. “We have to find a way to- to…”

Kimizuki arched his brows slowly. “We can’t make him not take the examination.”

“I-Is there a way I can be there with him?” Mika hissed, softly enough so that Yuu didn’t hear. “I want to make sure no one looks at him.”

“So you can ogle him?” Kimizuki snorted. Mika tensed up and his face reddened in response to his crude remark. “Whatever, Mika. Pull some strings if you must.”

Mika nodded to himself, deciding that he absolutely must be with Yuu during that examination… no matter the cost.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The day of the physical examination was upon them, and Yuu couldn’t be any more bewildered by the way this ridiculous event was going.

Not only were there an excessive amount of nurses and doctors lined up for these rich people, but they hardly said anything bad about any student’s health. They were there to simply appraise them and make them feel good about themselves- and according to Rene, it was because most of them had private doctors at home anyways, so that this event was merely for show.

Yuu was overwhelmed by how obnoxious it was.

When it was Rene and Lacus’s turn to be examined, they stripped their shirts off right in front of a crowd of girls, who all swooned and squealed over the sight of the two handsome men standing so close together and only half their bodies clothed.

Apparently, this event was really popular. And because of that, the Host Club took advantage of the crowds.

Yuu watched on with narrowed eyes as Rene grasped Lacus’s hands in his own. He looked at Rene with feverish eyes, his face flushed and his voice low with a possessive fervor.

“I won’t allow it,” Rene murmured, though the girls clustered around their examination area were deadly silent so that they could listen. “Even if they are doctors, I won’t let them touch your body.”

“What are you talking about?” Lacus responded softly, his expression bashful with just a hint of playfulness. “When we’re alone, you always say you’re playing doctor and exhaustively amuse yourself with my body…”

While the girls screamed with delight, Yoichi appeared out of nowhere and pushed Yuu behind a curtain. When he stumbled back there, he gasped as he backed right into someone else. That person wrapped their arms around him and held him close, and Yuu stiffened when they leaned down to whisper in his ear.

“I’ve been waiting here for you, Yuu-chan,” Mika said, and his voice sent shivers down Yuu’s spine. He immediately reddened and staggered away from Mika’s arms, then fell to his knees on the ground from the sheer surprise of it all. He stared up at Mika, wide-eyed and confused as all hell.

“Mika? What are you doing…” Yuu started to ask, but Mika knelt down and lifted a finger. As he pressed it to Yuu’s lips to silence him, he fixed Yuu with a dark, emotional stare.

“Don’t worry, Yuu-chan,” Mika assured. “I will protect you.”

Yuu didn’t know what to say. He sat there, frozen with shock as Mika stood up, fastened a black wig onto his head and unbuttoned his shirt. Before Yuu could protest, Mika slid the curtain open and stood before the nurse, unflinching as he said, “I’m Yuuichirou.”

It was the most embarrassing thing Yuu had ever witnessed. The girls all murmured that it was obviously Mika, and then Lacus was laughing hysterically a moment later with Rene snickering beside him.

“I can’t believe he actually went through with it!” Lacus was saying between laughs. “I told you they’d see through it!!”

“Why do you think Mikaela-sama did this?” One of the girls was saying to her friend. “Is it because he wants to protect Yuu-kun?”

“No, that’s too cute!” Her friend squealed in response. “Could it be that Mikaela-sama likes Yuu-kun and doesn’t want anyone to see him like this...?”

Mika flushed hot and turned around after whipping the wig off. He stepped back inside the curtained area and looked regretfully down at Yuu.

“They saw through it,” Mika told him bleakly, as if Yuu didn’t just see the entire thing unfold before his eyes.

Yuu narrowed his eyes as his face burned impossibly hotter from embarrassment. He didn’t understand why any of that just happened… but he wasn’t going to be humiliated by these whackjobs any longer.

“Yuu-chan?” Mika asked hesitantly, but he was clearly getting the message that Yuu was pissed. After a rather sharp glare from Yuu, Mika stepped back, eyes wide with surprise.

“Get out already, jeez!” Yuu snapped, and flustered, Mika staggered out and begrudgingly waited outside of his changing space. Yuu sighed deeply, finally relieved that he was alone. It wasn’t like he was a girl or anything, so why on earth Mika went such lengths to prevent people from seeing him was beyond him.

As Yuu stood there, unbuttoning his shirt, his mind wandered briefly and strayed into an uncertain territory. He couldn’t fight the blush that rose to his face, though he was more confused than anything.

Was Mika… jealous at the thought of people seeing Yuu undressed?

That made sense, considering how he just acted- but why? How could that be when Mika spent so much of his time pleasing women? It made no sense on the outside, and yet… Yuu had seen hints of the contrast within the Host Club members. Each of them certainly had a persona that they embraced most of the time, if only to appear perfect to their customers, but in truth… they were much more complicated than that.

The easiest to notice was Kimizuki, who was elegantly spoken before the ladies but swore like a sailor the minute he was off the hook. Gekkoin was silent, so Yuu wasn’t able to tell much about him just yet. Yoichi was generally cheerful, but the childish sparkle faded from his eyes when he was no longer working. Lacus and Rene acted like impassioned lovers, but when they weren’t performing as hosts, they seemed rather disinterested in everything around them. Maybe that’s just because they were bored in class, but still, Yuu had seen an interesting difference.

And as for Mika…

Yuu frowned. Mika was… not as clear as some of the others. He was a sparkling prince charming for his guests, but outside of the Host Club… Yuu wondered about him. What was he really like? Who was he, deep down inside, past the superfluous layer that he showed everyone else?

Could it be that he, too was interested in men, and therefore-

“Yuu-kun, are you ready?” The nurse’s voice cut through his thoughts, causing Yuu to flinch with surprise. His eyes widened and his face burned with embarrassment. Why was he thinking such a thing about Mika out of nowhere!? There was no way someone as handsome and as popular as Mika would even glance twice in Yuu’s direction. All of his flattery and flirtatious one-liners were part of his job. Of course he was only just keeping up his public image.

If Mika was even remotely interested in Yuu… well, Yuu wouldn’t know how to think. Mika was absolutely gorgeous, but Yuu didn’t really know him… as a person, and certainly not as anything but a host. He didn’t know how he’d even respond.

It wasn’t possible, anyways. Mika was way out of Yuu’s league.

“I’m ready,” Yuu responded, dismissing his thoughts as the nurse stepped inside. She kept the curtains closed, assuming that Yuu was shy about appearing partially undressed before the other students.

He wasn’t, really, but that was all thanks to Mika. Yuu rolled his eyes before he turned around to face the nurse, hoping to just get this stupid “examination” over with as quickly as possible.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“Mikaela-kun, why is it that you’re so beautiful?”

A few girls sat around Mika, who was lounging in a loveseat with his legs elegantly crossed. He wore a silken navy-blue kimono, which draped over his perfectly sculpted body and hung open in the center. His skin seemed to glow in the warm lighting of the club room, and his deep blue eyes sparkled with brilliantly feigned desire.

Over his shoulder was a faux ponytail, attached to his hair where no one could see. It was tied by a ribbon, which was a pale blue to compliment his kimono.

“Because I want to catch your eye… if only for one second longer,” Mika answered elegantly, a small smile edging onto his lips.

“Why is it that your voice is so mellow?” Another girl asked, her hands clasped together as she breathlessly asked her question.

Mika tilted his head and smoothly said, “So that my feelings might reach your heart.”

“Why is it that you look at me with such passionate eyes?” The third girl decided to ask, her voice strained with the most subtle hint of shyness.

Mika reached up and pushed some of his bangs aside, fixing the girl with a fervant stare as he huskily whispered, “Because your fresh, young smile makes the spring in my heart overflow…”

While the girls swooned over Mika’s princely demeanor, at another corner of the room, Lacus and Rene were seated side-by-side, dressed in matching deep purple kimonos.

“The two of you would wear matching kimonos, huh?” One of their guests pointed out with a light laugh.

“The ones that everyone is wearing today were designed by my mother,” Lacus said, a proud smile on his face. “If you like, I can take your order. It was my grandmother that dressed me, though!”

Before the girls could respond or Lacus could continue, Rene reached over and tilted Lacus’s jaw so that they looked into each other’s eyes. He leaned in close, eyes glimmering with lust as he lowly murmured, “But it’s my task to undress you, Lacus.”

As he passionately spoke Lacus’s name, he pulled the other man closer so that their lips nearly brushed. Pink flooded into Lacus’s cheeks and he turned away, his eyes slightly teary with embarrassment.

“R-Rene…!” Lacus protested sweetly, glancing off to the side. “You’re embarrassing me in front of the others…”

“What a tender embrace!” The girls squealed together, but off to the side, Yuu watched them more intensely than usual. He was really trying to catch the contrast between their true personalities and their host ones, but it was hard to tell when they were so good at their jobs.

They’re up to their nonsense again, that much is for sure. Yuu sighed as he sat back, though his attention was instantly nabbed by two girls who were quickly approaching him.

“Yuu-kun!” One of them called out excitedly. “You look so cute in a kimono!”

“A-Ah…” Yuu stammered, a flush spreading across his cheeks. Truthfully, he was a little embarrassed to be showing some skin again, but only because he was openly being ogled by everyone. It was different at the physical examination, when it was just for the doctor… but this was for everyone to see.

It was especially embarrassing when Mika attached the green hairpiece and murmured that it was beautiful under his breath. For a moment, Yuu wondered if Mika meant he was beautiful and not the hair piece, but he quickly shook that thought before it could go any further.

“It looks like you’re getting plenty of guests nowadays,” Kimizuki commented from where he sat just a short distance away. He was delicately trailing an inky brush over paper- a befitting hobby for his elegant character. “Keep it up.”

Before Yuu could thank him, the girls who were just talking to him turned to look at Kimizuki, eyes round and cheeks flushed with admiration.

“Kimizuki-sama, you’re just too much in that kimono,” one of the girls said. She paused and decided to ask, “Are there any new photo collections of the Host Club coming out?”

“Unfortunately, nothing is scheduled at present,” Kimizuki answered with a smile. “However…”

Kimizuki went off on a tangent that Yuu didn’t care to listen to. He was just mildly impressed that all on his own, Kimizuki was able to operate the club and keep it from going bankrupt.

“Yuu-kun… Yuu-kun!”

Yuu turned around, eyes wide and questioning as Yoichi approached him slowly, tears beading in his eyes. The girls that were clustered in the area turned and watched their exchange with concern and interest.

“I lost one of my sandals…” Yoichi said pitifully, his shoulders sagging with defeat. He reached up and wiped cutely at one of his eyes, though his other hand sadly clutched at the one sandal he still had.

“You were just wearing them a while ago, weren’t you?” Yuu said as he got to his feet and approached Yoichi. Though before he could do anything, Gekkoin appeared form the side, holding the sandal Yoichi had “lost.”

“Yoichi…” he said lowly, then knelt down beside the much shorter host. Yoichi looked down, eyes soft with tears as Gekkoin tenderly took his foot and slid the sandal on. The kimono slipped slightly, revealing much more of his leg than was probably necessary or natural, making the scene look… somewhat lewd. Yuu stiffened, watching as Yoichi breathlessly responded.

“Gekkoin…” Yoichi whimpered softly, his face flushing red.

“It was lying over there,” Gekkoin murmured, his fingers slipping up the smooth expanse of Yoichi’s ankle. Then, he released his foot and the folds of the kimono fell back over his leg.

“Gekkoin!” Yoichi cried out, then fell forward and threw his arms around Gekkoin’s neck. He nuzzled into the larger man, and Gekkoin wrapped his arms around Yoichi’s tiny waist protectively.

“Fantastic…!” The girls breathed, watching their tender scene with excited smiles. Meanwhile, Yuu wondered how the hell everyone could get so weepy so suddenly. The tearful acts seemed to be everywhere today…

Suddenly, Rene appeared out of nowhere, seemingly free from his duties. He extended a little pastry to Yuu and said, “This is for you.”

He was so stunned that he just held the pinkish treat in his hands, not knowing exactly what it was but immediately enticed by its appearance. He wasn’t really a big fan of desserts, but it looked really good, and it was nice of Rene to give him this out of nowhere. Plus, he knew someone else who would have enjoyed this snack much more than he would.

With slightly flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes, Yuu looked up at him and stammered, “I-I can have this?”

“How charming!” Lacus said from behind Yuu, but moments later he joined Rene’s side with a smile.

“Yuu-kun, you like confections?” A girl asked, having overseen the exchange.

“No, I’m not one for sweets,” Yuu answered honestly. But then he looked down at the treat, a small smile gracing his lips. “Still, it might be nice as a memorial offering for my mother.”

The girls surrounding him watched with teary eyes as Yuu looked down at the pastry tenderly. He tucked it away somewhere safe, and as he did, he overheard Lacus remarking that they had a new guest. Immediately he approached the girl, who seemed hesitant to enter the room, eyes fixated on the hosts with a mixture of nervousness and excitement.

“What are you waiting for?” Lacus said as he extended a red rose to the girl- one that he pulled seemingly out of nowhere. “Come on in.”

“It isn’t any fun to just watch,” Rene added while leaning against Lacus’s shoulder.

“Here, don’t be afraid, my princess,” Mika offered, now extending his hand to the shy girl. She was so surrounded now that Yuu couldn’t even get a good look at her. “Welcome to Ouran Host Club.”

There was a pause, and what followed had Yuu’s jaw dropping out of sheer shock.

“You need to polish your acting skills, you know.”

The sudden, sharp words had Mika reeling back, eyes wide and lips parted wordlessly. Even Lacus and Rene backed up, amazed as the tiny girl stepped out from behind her hiding spot, brown eyes regarding him harshly.

“And you two,” she fixed her attention on Lacus and Rene. “Are you really a thing or what? You do know that faking it for the audience isn’t very polite. Some of us want real representation, you know.”

“Representation…?” Lacus echoed, uncertainty clear in his eyes.

“I’ve decided,” the girl said, her arms crossing over her chest. She flicked her chin up confidently. “Your characters all need some work and improvement. And to help you accomplish this, I’m going to become this Host Club’s manager.”

“Uhm… and who are you?” Lacus asked, eyes narrowed with confusion. The short girl turned, her lavender locks swishing against her shoulders as she smiled up at him.

“Shinoa Hiiragi, first-year, Class 1-A,” she responded smoothly, without a hitch. “I plan to improve this place as quickly as possible.”

“Hiiragi…” Kimizuki murmured, eyes wide with recognition. “They are a very prestigious family around here.”

“Indeed,” Shinoa said, clearly having overheard his comment. She stepped forward, the big bow tied in her hair bouncing slightly with every step. Then, she extended a finger to Kimizuki, snarkily adding onto her statement. “And for that reason, you will respect my decision!”

At first, everyone was too bewildered to respond, but after a moment’s hesitation, Shinoa lifted the small bag she had been holding. Yuu hadn’t noticed it until now. “I brought homemade cookies to compensate for my sudden intrusion. They’re slightly burnt, but I hope you don’t mind.”

“How kind of you,” Mika said, seemingly recovered from her insult. He reached out to taste-test one of the sweet treats, but she quickly moved the cookies out of his reach and turned up her nose.

“None for you until you act more genuine,” Shinoa huffed, then turned to Yuu with a glint in her eyes. “As for you…” She approached Yuu, then extended the cookies with a tiny smile. They were placed in his hands before he had a chance to refuse them. “Go on. Try them.”

Well… Yuu couldn’t really say no without being rude. He slowly took a chocolate-chip cookie from the batch and raised it to his lips. After taking a small bite, he murmured, “They’re savory and not all that bad…”

And before Yuu knew what was happening, suddenly Lacus and Rene were on either side of him. Another cookie was placed in his mouth and his eyes widened as his chin was tilted up by Lacus, who smirked and leaned in, murmuring, “Let me see…”

Yuu stared, too shocked to move as Lacus nipped at the other end of the cookie, just barely an inch away from Yuu’s lips. As soon as he took a bite, Yuu turned away, cheeks burning hotly- but Rene was right there on the other side, turning Yuu so that he faced Rene instead.

“There’s cookie crumbs on your face,” Rene murmured, and then he leaned in and, for whatever reason, licked the crumbs with one swift motion from the corner of his lips.

Stunned, Yuu reeled back, his face reddening profusely. “Y-You know, if you’d just say so, I could get them off myself… a-and if you wanted a cookie, they’re right here!” He lifted the bag to Lacus, but he wondered if either of them heard Yuu’s response over the squealing of the girls all around them who had witnessed the needlessly suggestive scene.

Shinoa was watching their interaction with narrowed eyes. After the girls erupted into chatter about what they had just seen, Shinoa blandly remarked, “This is all far too cliche and predictable.”

“Huh?” Mika stammered, for he was the first to respond to her cooly spoken words.

“All of you hosts are lacking a dark side,” Shinoa went on, as if they were silly to not know such a thing. Everyone stared at her blankly, unsure of how to respond to her rather critical thoughts. “Girls are vulnerable to handsome young men going through trauma. If you keep carrying on in this ridiculous manner, it’s only a matter of time before everyone grows tired of it.”

There had to be some truth to her reasoning- at least, that’s what Yuu thought. A girl’s insight would be especially helpful. Since she was a girl herself, she must know what the customers would enjoy seeing the most- at least, more than anyone else in the club. Yuu might have somewhat of an idea, since he was interested in men… but he wasn’t a romantic, and everything he had seen the hosts do for the girls reeked of corniness to him.

Shinoa turned to Yoichi, who was currently clinging to Gekkoin’s side with round eyes as he regarded Shinoa wearily. He seemed to shrink into Gekkoin’s side once he was the center of her attention, like he wanted to be hidden away instead.

“If all you are is cute, inside and out, then you’re the same as a baby,” Shinoa said, looking him up and down with bored umber-brown eyes. “Surely that tiny body of yours is filled with an insatiable desire to destroy and take revenge for all those who have wronged you.’

Yoichi stared at her, his innocent demeanor momentarily dropping. Yuu watched with heightened interest, his eyes wide. Yoichi quickly recovered and his eyes glistened with fake tears. “W-What are you saying?”

“You,” Shinoa turned to Gekkoin, head tilted back to inspect the tall, white-haired man. She ignored Yoichi’s hesitant question and went on. “You are the bad influence, the one that encourages baby-face over here to embrace his darker side.”

Gekkoin merely blinked down at her wordlessly, and so Shinoa turned and regarded Lacus and Rene. “You two are villains. You,” she said, looking at Lacus, “act very cheery and smiley, but there’s blood on your hands… and you,” she nodded to Rene, “act cold and aloof, but you would end someone’s life without a second thought if you had to.”

Mostly everyone was too surprised to say anything in response. She turned to Kimizuki, relentless as she assigned his role. “You’re the selfish punk of the story, always bickering with the main character, even though deep down inside you do care for him. Speaking of him…”

Shinoa turned with a smirk to Yuu. She pointed and said, “You are the main character. Reckless, stupid and far too kind-hearted for his own good. And your phony prince is the one that will capture the most attention of the audience, most likely, due to his charming looks and painful, isolated past…” Without giving Yuu any time to process, she faced Mika, a grin spreading across her face.

“You are the lonesome prince,” Shinoa diagnosed Mika’s role effortlessly. Mika flinched slightly, lips pursed in a tight line. “You are heart-stoppingly gorgeous, yet the one you love most is too dense to notice your emotions, and so you are left forever yearning, hoping one day that your love will be requited…”

“Okay, how are you making this all up on the spot?” Lacus interrupted, shaking his head quickly. “It’s kinda creepy…”

“It’s nothing,” Shinoa waved her hand with a clever grin. “I’m just a big anime fan, so I suppose these sorts of plots form in my head without much effort…”

“Anime… she’s an otaku?” Lacus hissed not-so-softly to Rene.

“I’ve never seen one before,” Rene responded lowly.

“Anyways!” Shinoa clapped her hands together. “Let’s get to work. You should start practicing your new roles immediately. We can make a promotional video- a short film, if you will- exhibiting your darker sides. Acting is an attractive quality in men, after all. The girls would love to see your anguished expressions while knowing it wasn’t actually true.”

“She’s got a point,” Kimizuki finally spoke up with a nod. He looked to Mika thoughtfully. The leader had been silently observing everything, apparently too surprised to interject all this time. Unfazed by his silence, Kimizuki went on. “Perhaps this would actually spike some interest and increase our attendance. Appealing to their hearts is not a bad idea.”

“Then it’s settled,” Mika agreed, now shaking off the strange things Shinoa had said about him after only a few moments of knowing each other. He fixed determined, bright blue eyes on the hosts and declared their next move proudly. “We will begin preparing a script and a mini plot for the film tomorrow. For now, let us focus on the remainder of our event.”

And before Yuu knew it, the club was already within Shinoa’s control. A seemingly harmless girl with a bow in her hair had completely taken over in a moment’s notice, and Yuu couldn’t explain why, but he had to admit he was secretly impressed by her authoritative aura.

One wouldn’t expect someone so small and cute to have so much influence, and yet there she was, smiling with satisfaction as the hosts drifted back off to their other guests, murmuring to each other about their newly appointed roles for their upcoming promotional film.

Yuu really did want to know the reasoning for her characterization choices, however…

Chapter Text

“You have to keep trying, Mika!” Lacus tried in vain to smile with encouragement, but slowly, his expression fell as he noticed that the other man hadn’t budged. His hands were raised in an encouraging gesture, but then they lowered, and in seconds Rene was right beside him, a hand clasping his shoulder.

“It’s no use…” Rene murmured darkly, his eyes shimmering with tears. He looked from Lacus to Mika, troubled and deeply moved. “He’s… he’s going to risk everything.”

“He’s that important to you?” Lacus spoke hoarsely, his own eyes glassy with emotion. “Even though you haven’t seen each other since you were children… you would really go that far for him?” His eyes focused on Mika’s back; the mafia boss was about to risk everything in order to save the one he loved. Dressed in a form-fitting black suit, Mika looked grimly down at his polished shoes, thinking deeply about the life-threatening risk he was going to take.

Mika suddenly looked up and out the window, a very dark, grave expression in his eyes. His hands clenched into tighter fists, and the foggy image of his reflection could be seen. He looked intensely out at the starry sky as he said, “He’s my precious angel, and I will stop at nothing to protect him... my dearest person. Even if that means…”

Mika turned slightly, his eyes glinting with an unimaginable fury. “Even if that means putting an end to anyone who comes in my way.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Yuu stared up in shock at the people who had shoved him down. Two figures loomed over him- one was impressively tall and intimidating, while the other was of a smaller stature, though his eyes lacked any sort of sympathy or emotion. Their shadows stretched far and long, and Yuu gulped slowly as he studied their expressions- particularly Yoichi’s.

His eyes were totally vacant as he stared down at Yuu, cold and determined.

“This is it,” Yoichi said sternly, a firm contrast to the cheerful voice he usually spoke with. Rain sprinkled down around them, and the droplets slid down Yoichi’s unflinching, stony expression.

Meanwhile, the rain slipping down Yuu’s face mirrored the path of tears.

“Your death won’t be quick and clean,” Yoichi went on, his tone low and threatening. “You have to suffer. I want toy to suffer so badly that you regret ever being born.”

Yuu gaped helplessly up at the gang’s leader, clearly trying to think of a way to beg for forgiveness, but his mouth snapped shut when Gekkoin lifted a gun and pointed it directly at Yuu’s head.

Finally, Yuu choked out, “W-Why…?”

Yoichi’s eyes flashed with malice. “You know exactly why you’re in this position… it’s because…”

There was a silence, and suddenly Yoichi’s eyes watered. Then, without wasting another moment, he fell to his knees and threw his arms around Yuu’s shoulders.

“Yuu-kun, I’m sorry! I really can’t do this!” Yoichi cried out, and immediately their director’s voice called out.

“Cut!”

Yuu glanced over when the rainfall stopped, seeing Shinoa standing at the edge of the set with her hands on her hips. “Yoichi-kun, you need to stick to the script!”

“But I-” Yoichi started to say, but Shinoa didn’t listen. She went on to direct the cameraman and those handling the fake rain, and slowly, Yoichi got off of Yuu and groaned as he walked over to Gekkoin. He leaned against the taller man for support, and Gekkoin stroked his hair and murmured something quietly to the smaller boy. Yoichi just needed a break; it seemed that acting this cruel to his friend took a lot out of him, even if it was just acting.

Yuu got up and accepted a towel from an assistant, then looked out over the film’s set and crew. It really looked like something from Hollywood, complete with all sorts of cameras and props. Shinoa had apparently prepared all of this on her own, but what started as an idea for a short film to hype up the host club’s acting abilities turned into something more suited for the real silver screen.

Rich people. Yuu narrowed his eyes in disgust at the sheer amount of makeup artists and producers scurrying all over the damn place. It must have cost a fortune to hire them all for something as small as this. He sat down off to the side of the set with a sigh and rubbed at his wet hair with a towel.

Somehow, in just a few day’s time, Shinoa had crafted an entire story centered around Yuu, a reckless, determined policeman ready to end the violence of the mafia once and for all, and Mika, the mafia boss himself. Except… the twist was that Mika had been trying to find his long-lost childhood love for ten years. Yuu was apparently that childhood love, spiking up a forbidden romance between the mafia boss and the policeman.

Despite Yuu trying to reason with Shinoa that it would be more appealing to the girls who would watch this if the police officer was a girl, Shinoa shook her head and stayed firm with her decision. After all, there were plenty of fujoshi in the Academy, and so this sort of story would attract them to the Host Club.

Yuu could only groan, for he knew he had to go along with it… especially when Mika excitedly agreed with her and approved of the storyline and its potential. To see the Hosts dressed in black suits, looking so serious and passionate, threatening and longing… all of those emotions were ones they could never express in a normal situation with their guests, so a film would have to do.

Yoichi was the leader of a rival gang, one that hated Mika, and once they found out who Yuu was to Mika, they set off to try and kill him in order to bring Mika down. But clearly, having Yoichi as the main villain wasn’t working out so well… not when the actor was too empathetic to even pretend to be as merciless as his character.

“Yuu-chan!”

Yuu snapped out of his daze when he heard his name called out by none other than Mika, who was rushing over to him with a big smile on his face. It was so unlike the dark expression he had in the scene that they filmed just a few hours prior, and now he only wore a white button-up undershirt, for it was warm out and wearing the heavy, black tuxedo would only make him incredibly uncomfortable.

“How was my performance?” Mika asked excitedly. Yuu peered up at him, recalling the scene where he swore to do anything to save his childhood love.

“It was awesome… you’re so enraptured by this,” Yuu commented earnestly, watching as Mika reached up to loosen his tie and unbutton his collar.

“I’ve discovered a whole new facet of myself,” Mika admitted with an even wider smile. “Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to go down this road for a little while.”

“Are you sure?” Yuu asked doubtfully, glancing briefly over to the short, yet incredibly authoritative girl with the lilac hair. Shinoa might be brilliant at times, but she was a lot to handle already. Yuu wasn’t planning to become an actor, either. Then he looked back up at Mika and nonchalantly added, “Besides, you don’t need to act miserable to be appealing or anything. I think you’re fine just the way you are, Mika.”

Mika’s breath hitched and his eyes widened as he gazed down at Yuu, frozen in place. “R-Really?” His cheeks colored and he looked aside as he murmured, “If you say so…”

Yuu felt a twinge of embarrassment in his heart at the way that sounded. His face warmed a little, but honestly, he was just thinking that if Mika got a dark side, he’d be even more trouble- and nothing else! Yuu fought down the way his heart sped up slightly and looked to the side awkwardly.

“Yuu-san!”

Yuu turned to see Shinoa’s head peeking out from around the corner. He was actually relieved to see her just now. She called out, “Over here!”

“Ah, alright!” Yuu replied and rushed to her without saying anything else to Mika. When he reached the shorter girl, he looked up and jumped with surprise at the sight of two tall, scruffy-looking guys with scowling faces standing right behind her.

“I’ve just asked these two gentleman to make a special appearance,” Shinoa said gleefully, as if she wasn’t at all phased by their angry-looking faces. Yuu felt a bead of sweat nervously roll down his temple and he looked at them with a heavy, foreboding feeling sinking in his chest.

“Appearance?” One of them grunted.

“What are you talking about?” muttered the other through irritably gritted teeth.

“We’re gonna need some more villains for the big climax, after all!” Shinoa went on as if they hadn’t spoken at all.

“H-Hold on, Shinoa…” Yuu tried, but Shinoa simply grabbed their arms and began tugging them away.

“Okay, just stand by over here…” Shinoa said as she led them away.

“Hold on!” One guy snapped as he yanked his arm free from Shinoa’s grasp. “You think you can just push us around however you want to? Who the hell are you!?”

As soon as she was shoved back, Shinoa cried out with surprise. She bumped into a ladder and various lights and microphones, and immediately, they all began to fall. Yuu’s heart slammed with panic at the sight of all the large pieces of equipment about to fall onto the girl, and without thinking about it, he leapt out to protect her.

“Watch out!” Yuu warned as he shoved Shinoa out of the way. He turned to brace himself against the falling objects, and they all slammed against his back before clattering to the ground. Yuu winced from the pain, and in the process he was knocked down to his knees.

“Are you alright!?” Shinoa gasped with shock, turning around instantly to fret over Yuu.

“Yuu-chan!? What happened?” Mika came rushing around the corner in an instant, for he likely heard all the sounds, and he froze in place at what he saw.

Yuu turned to look at Mika, though his eyes had watered and a few tears sprinkled down his cheeks. His lips parted to say something, but before Yuu knew what had happened, Mika’s eyes were ferocious and blazing with rage, just like they were in the film. In a split second, Mika had one guy’s collar twisted up in his fist, and he shoved him against the wall with a glare that rendered him speechless.

“Which one of you started this?” Mika asked threateningly, his shadow intimidatingly stretching over the guy’s trembling body.

“W-Wait, Mikaela!” the other student cried out, catching Mika’s attention. Mika looked over at him with a sharp glare, causing the student to flinch before he pointed at Shinoa and hesitantly added on, “She’s the one who started giving us a hard time!”

Yuu got to his feet while rubbing his teary eyes and said, “It’s true, Mika. Those guys aren’t at fault.”

Mika dropped the kid he had shoved against the wall and immediately rushed over to Yuu. The two students instantly made a run for it, clearly not wanting to be involved any more than they already had been.

“Yuu-chan… does it hurt?” Mika asked, hovering close to Yuu.

Then, slowly and gently, Yuu felt two smooth hands cup his face. He flushed red from being held so tenderly, and for a moment he could only wipe at his eyes. Eventually, he reached up to his eye, where his contact had slid out of place during the ruckus, and finally- amongst all those annoying tears- he pulled it away from his eye. As soon as he could see a little clearer, he looked up and saw Mika right in front of him, eyes shimmering dark cobalt with concern.

“D-Don’t look so worried…” Yuu stammered with embarrassment, his face only reddening further. He held up the finger that balanced his contact lens. “My contact just got misplaced, that’s all… it slid out at the worst time.”

Mika froze, clearly trying to process what had just happened, and once he did, he began to smile. Yuu watched with shock as Mika’s face broke out into a wide smile- not one of charm and seduction, but an honest, bright smile accompanied by a heartfelt laugh. His shoulders shook as he laughed and laughed, and it was such a melodic sound that Yuu was rooted in place, stunned that someone’s laugh could sound so naturally… beautiful.

“Oh, so that’s it!” Mika said between bouts of laughter, and he looked down at Yuu with his blue eyes twinkling like gems. Yuu held his breath. “Once you can cry like that on command, you’ll be a full-fledged host!”

Yuu just stared back at him as warmth rose from his chest all the way to his face. His cheeks reddened slowly and he could feel the heat tingling in his face, but he couldn’t stop a small smile from creeping onto his lips. He was at a loss for words as Mika met his gaze, his eyes and smile sparkling and shining brighter than the sun itself.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“I bought that movie!”

“Me too!”

“So did I!”

Several days later in Music Room #3, the hosts all watched on with awe as the girls surrounded them with gleaming eyes and wide smiles. They were speechless with shock as they gushed about what they liked most about the film.

“That scene in the rain was the greatest!” One of the girls squealed with flushed cheeks.

“And Mikaela-sama, the lonesome prince, pining for a forbidden romance!” Another added on with a dreamy sigh.

“The deep relationship between Lacus-sama and Rene-sama in the background was so meaningful!” A third girl’s eyes sparkled as she remembered the scenes between the infamous pair.

“I want to see Yoichi-kun act like a thug again!” One girl commented enthusiastically.

“Yuu-kun’s poignant expressions!”

“Gekkoin-kun was definitely some kind of masochist, huh?”

Mika turned with round, shocked eyes to look over at Shinoa. Their lady manager looked utterly pleased with herself as she stood beside Kimizuki, who was studying something on his clipboard with widened eyes.

“The sales have been amazing,” Kimizuki commented breathlessly.

“As you would expect from first-rate Hollywood staff,” Shinoa said, matter-of-fact. “It’s best to have as much as we can in the club budget, right?”

“I’m starting to think this wasn’t such a bad idea,” Kimizuki said with a nod as he handed the clipboard back to Shinoa. “This was a brilliant plan. We’ve made tons already, and the film was only just released to the student body yesterday.”

Yuu looked over to the girl in question, with a seemingly innocent smile on her face. Well, perhaps Kimizuki was right, and having her around was actually quite beneficial to the club if she was going to make them money like this. She was already a huge help, and Yuu found himself already warming up to her.

As the day went on, Yuu busied himself with tidying up the club room. He walked past Lacus and Rene, who were draped over each other, nearly kissing in front of a group of blushing spectators. Yuu glared at them and grumbled under his breath, “What a ridiculous act…”

“Huh?” Lacus turned his attention to Yuu, for he had apparently heard his comment. “Something you don’t like about it?”

“It’s not just that,” Yuu said as he paused in his steps and turned around. He might as well be honest about it. He wasn’t homophobic by any means- hell, Yuu was gay himself- but he never understood why those two flaunted it so much. And plus… if they were into each other, why did the girls like it when they didn’t have a chance? With tensed eyebrows, Yuu looked at them with confusion and admitted, “I can’t figure out why you two are so popular.”

“Apparently…” Rene spoke up, turning to the crowd, who was watching on with intrigue. “Yuu doesn’t understand the merits of having us in the club.”

“Listen here,” Lacus said as they both stood up. Yuu found himself bordered by the two of them, and he glanced at Lacus doubtfully as the purple-haired host explained himself. “Just having a couple of good-looking gays earns plenty of high points, and making a show teetering between that and friendship is also desirable.”

Well… perhaps some people liked to just be onlookers, rather than participate themselves... Yuu hadn’t really thought of that.

Then, Yuu’s eyes widened as Rene gripped his chin, tilting it up as he leaned in so close that his nose brushed Yuu’s cheek. “On top of that… there’s the scenario of having two people who have such deep ties to each other loving you at the same time.” To emphasize his point, on his other side, Lacus took hold of Yuu’s chin and directed him to look over to him instead, his warmly-spoken words brushing against Yuu’s sensitive ear.

“It’s the ultimate young woman’s romance, right?” Lacus murmured.

“E-Er… I…” Yuu’s face was flushed red now, and it was only then that he truly noticed their compromising position. Yuu was pressed strategically between the two of them, his face rapidly reddening due to the lack of space between their faces and bodies…

… he had just become part of their act!

“I can’t bear it any more!” One of the fan-girls squealed with delight, and the onlookers all broke into various cries of joy and pleasure. Yuu slipped away from the two of them, now taking a deep breath of air as he tried to calm down his racing heart. Jeez, they were really something else, and Yuu made a note in his head to never doubt them again. They were cunning enough to turn any situation into their favor, even criticism.

When he turned away, he saw Mika towering over Shinoa while going off on a tangent, his eyes sharp with anger. Yuu stepped a little closer and heard him ranting, “When I let you have control of the club’s website, it was on the condition that you would take it seriously!”

“I am taking it seriously,” Shinoa said nonchalantly, completely unfazed by Mika’s wrath. A smug grin was on her face as she said, “I was up until dawn last night working on it~”

“And this is the screen you made!?” Mika shoved his laptop in Shinoa’s face, and as Yuu stepped around to see what it was, his blood ran cold.

It was… a picture of him looking over his shoulder, completely bare from the hips up!!

“Ohh, Yuu-kun, you look great!” Yoichi complimented after appearing out of nowhere.

Immediately, Mika was swarmed by girls who wanted to see the image, though he just looked disgruntled and irritable. Finally, he relinquished the laptop and escaped the crowd, letting them drool over the image as he went right back to Shinoa.

“When!?” Mika hissed. Shinoa didn’t respond, only questioningly raising her eyebrows, and so Mika asked with more force, “When did you take nude photos of Yuu-chan!?”

“You’re intensely delusional,” Shinoa said with an elegant shrug. “It’s photoshopped, of course.” Mika’s face fell into one of pure shock, and so Shinoa grinned with triumph. “I did a good job, didn’t I? Magnificent skill, if I do say so myself.”

“What a wasted use of your skills!” Mika huffed, his face now reddened with embarrassment. “Have some shame!” But then, he seemed to pause after thinking about it longer, and in a quieter tone went on. “But if you are going to do it… maybe… put him in an outfit, like a maid dress or something…?”

“That’s silly,” Shinoa waved her hand around dismissively. “It would be quicker to ask him directly to wear that kind of stuff!”

“Y-Yeah, I guess you’re right...” Mika straightened up as he looked over to Yuu. “I could ask him…”

Yuu, ever since seeing that image, was in a state of paralysis. Or so he thought. He could feel his soul just barely hanging on, about to leave his body in the next breath he took. He had resorted to leaning his forehead against the wall, favoring the sight of the floor and his own feet above all else. He couldn’t remember being photographed like that, and thousands of questions spun around his brain until somewhere, in the distance, he heard that it was edited. Well, that explained it, but still…!

He hardly noticed when Mika appeared behind him.

“Yuu-chan, what do you think about wearing something like a maid’s dress?” Mika suggested hesitantly, his cheeks warming further.

“Yuu-kun looks great!” The girls were still swooning over the image on the laptop screen. “Still, like Mikaela-sama says, I’d sure like to see Yuu-kun dressed in woman’s clothes…”

“Yuu-kun is so cute, I’m sure they would look good on him,” another girl confessed with a sweet smile.

Yuu finally came back to his senses and turned around. He shot a glare up to Mika, who immediately backed off with a woeful smile of defeat. He then turned his attention to Shinoa, who was looking on with a hand raised up to cover her cheshire grin.

“Would you stop photoshopping pictures of me without my permission?” Yuu asked bluntly. “Just what do you take other people to be?”

“Isn’t that obvious?” Shinoa tilted her head mockingly as she answered, “Toys.”

Yuu immediately regretted ever thinking that Shinoa would be a good manager. No… she was a demon! A demon disguised in the body of a cute girl!

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“Say, Yuu…”

After setting down a tray of tea for some girls, Yuu turned over his shoulder and caught sight of Lacus and Rene, standing a small distance away, side-by-side as always.

“We have a favor to ask,” Rene started off once they had Yuu’s attention.

Yuu tilted his head. “What is it?”

“The next day off that we get…” Lacus continued, “can we come over to your place?”

“Why would you?” Yuu asked in response, genuinely confused by their sudden request.

“Because we’re awfully interested in it,” Rene said with a small smile, which was quite an unusual expression for him.

“No way,” Yuu huffed, immediately dropping all consideration thanks to that response. They were being way too suspicious now. Plus, Yuu's place was probably like a cardboard box to these guys. He didn’t want to be mocked for being poor the entire time they were over.

“None at all?” Lacus tried with a pout.

“No way,” Yuu repeated flatly. “You’ll just make fun of me.”

“No matter how much we ask?” Rene pressed.

“No way,” Yuu said for the third time.

“I’ve also been thinking of paying my respects to Yuu-chan’s family-” Mika cut in, but Yuu didn’t even let him finish before he glared at the blond to silence him.

“No way in hell,” he grumbled, stopping Mika in his tracks. He proceeded to sulk and sigh woefully, but Yuu ignored him.

“See? That method was bound to fail,” Rene huffed in frustration, turning his attention onto Lacus.

“Well, I don’t mask anything and always express myself honestly, so I thought that just asking would be the best way,”  Lacus countered, seemingly rubbed the wrong way by Rene’s comment. “so maybe you shouldn’t look so guarded all the time and learn from me.”

“Don’t go spinning this around.” Rene narrowed his eyes. “Lacus, I’m the one who’s always going along playing your selfish games.”

“I may be the one to suggest them, but you’re the one who enjoys them so much, Rene,” Lacus snapped back. “If you don’t like them, then just stop. What are you, stupid?”

“You’re too stupid to see it for yourself,” Rene replied sharply. “The one you’re in love with is Yuu, isn’t it?”

“Huh!?” Lacus immediately reeled back, his cheeks burning red. “H-Hey, you’ve got it all wrong! You really are stupid, Rene! For one thing, why is it that I would fall for that guy?”

Yuu was too shocked to even process any of the things going on in front of him. In mere seconds, the two of them started arguing like crazy, and suddenly Shinoa was beside them, rattling off before Yuu had the chance to even respond to anything.

“Fantastic!” Shinoa gushed, her hands clasped together as her eyes sparkled with mischief. “This is fantastic! A beautiful, yet poignant four-sided relationship around Yuu-san! What’s more, two of them are long-time lovers!”

“Stay out of this, otaku,” Lacus snapped with a frown.

“What a mean thing to say to your manager!” Shinoa cried out jokingly.

“Enough already!” Rene glared at Lacus, catching everyone’s attention again instantly. “You’re always getting into my bed! You’re such a pest!”

“That’s because you seem so lonely! I had no choice but to sleep next to you, you idiot!” Lacus defended, his cheeks warm with a mixture of embarrassment and rage. The girls still were enjoying this, however, likely assuming it was all an act, considering the details about the two of them sleeping together. It was known that they were over at each other’s houses all the time, but the sleepover details were always private. And so now knowing a little more about their private life, the girls gushed and squealed as the two rattled off insults at each other nonstop.

“Who’re you calling an idiot!?” Rene snarled, “You’re doing worse in a number of classes!”

“Look who’s talking! Maybe you should study linguistics more!” Lacus yelled.

“You grind your teeth too loud!” Rene responded.

“Who is it that tosses in their sleep and falls out of bed!?” Lacus defended.

“You’re a sex freak anyways!” Rene stomped down his foot.

“Me!? You’re the sicko here!” Lacus shrilly replied. “That’s it, we’re through!”

The two of them stormed off in separate directions, leaving all the hosts speechless and shocked by what they had just seen. Yuu gaped and blinked a few times, totally dumbfounded.

Lacus and Rene… broke up?

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The following day was… awkward, to say the least.

“Hey, Yuu.” The student in question looked up from his homework, meeting the eyes of Lacus. He waved nonchalantly and sat down at his desk, and Yuu nodded to him, though he was at a loss for what to say. He felt tense around him and Rene now, unsure if they had made up yet or not.

Clearly, they hadn’t talked to each other since their fight, for Rene walked in a moment later with dark eyebags and bloodshot eyes. Yuu felt a twinge of pain in his heart. He looked like he hadn’t slept at all.

“Good morning…” Yuu greeted Rene awkwardly. Rene paused by his desk, and Lacus tensed and began shuffling around in his bag instead of looking at his ex-boyfriend. Yuu pursed his lips and studied Rene’s exhausted face. “Are you alright?”

“Oh, sort of,” Rene said with a slight shrug. “Last night, I had the rare chance to sleep by myself, but I had a bad dream. You see, my hair was dyed purple of the most garish shade…”

Just as he went to sit down, he randomly slipped and fell to the ground. Yuu looked over with surprise, but he saw a leg extended out behind his own chair.

Ah… it was Lacus’s leg. He had just kicked Rene’s chair over, likely offended by Rene’s jab at his hair color.

Rene glanced over to Lacus, eyes gleaming maliciously, and he suddenly lunged out to grab the leg of Lacus’s chair. The abrupt movement of Rene yanking the chair caused Lacus to fall out of his seat, and when he got up, he looked like he was about to beat Rene into a pulp.

They then proceeded to start throwing objects at each other, from pens to notebooks and whatever else they could reach.

Yuu sighed and put his forehead against his desk.

This is annoying.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The fighting went all the way through to lunch, where Yuu was unwillingly dragged to the refectory to eat with the others. Usually, he ate on his own in peace and quiet in the classroom, but today, he agreed to go only because Lacus begged him to and Yuu felt bad for him.

Though when they started nearly screaming at each other again over what they were ordering, Yuu wondered if he should have just stayed up in the classroom anyways.

“Are you two still fighting?” a familiar voice remarked from the doorway, and Yuu looked over to see Mika striding inside, a small frown on his lips. Behind him was Gekkoin, Yoichi and Kimizuki. “You’re embarrassing the Host Club.”

“It’s the Host Club!” A few girls in the refectory began gasping and whispering amongst each other. “The boys from the Host Club are all together!”

“Okay, break!” Yoichi immediately rushed over to Lacus and Rene and stood between them. “You’re both to blame for this fight!” He then presented a small cake on a plate, covered with vanilla icing and a big, plump strawberry on top. “Split this cake in half and make up, okay?” He then paused and looked down at the cake. “Oh, but I want to eat some too, so I guess we have to divide it into thirds… but we can’t split the strawberry, so what should we do? Maybe I should just take it… after all, I love strawberries, so that’s okay, right? Oh, but don’t you both like strawberries too?”

Yuu was cringing as the tension between Lacus and Rene only grew worse and worse, for they were becoming irritated with Yoichi’s rambling and attempts to be cute and placating. Gekkoin noticed this before anyone else, so he slid over and picked Yoichi up from under the arms and carried him off.

“You’re only making the situation worse,” Gekkoin murmured lowly to Yoichi. “Just stop.”

Yuu let out a long breath, then turned and nearly ran face-first into Mika’s chest. The princely host beamed widely down at Yuu, his eyes sparkling excitedly. Yuu briefly thought that if he had a tail, it would be wagging rapidly from side to side, like a puppy’s.

“Oh, Yuu-chan!” Mika had gone from scolding Lacus and Rene to smiling over Yuu. “Fancy running into you in the refectory!”

“I was concerned about those two,” Yuu answered with a nod to Lacus and Rene. “I usually just eat my bento in the classroom.”

“Yuu, here’s a spot,” Lacus called out, catching Yuu’s attention and beckoning for him to come over. Yuu nodded a brief farewell to Mika, then went and sat down next to his brooding friend. Lacus nodded to his lunch and asked, “What do you have in your bento?”

“Yesterday’s simmered leftovers, some rolled omelet and such,” Yuu answered.

“Can I try some?” Lacus asked with a grin. “You can have some of mine too.”

Yuu didn’t care in the end; it was nothing special, anyways. “Sure…”

He looked down at Lacus’s tray and his jaw dropped. Holy shit, he had no idea what he was even looking at. The food on the plate was awfully lavish, ranging from some sort of exotic fruit puddings and elegantly displayed appetizers. He had never eaten that sort of thing before…

Where to even start? Yuu hesitated, then delicately stabbed his fork into the nearest plate. It appeared to be carpaccio… and it looked amazing. Yuu took a bite of the carpaccio and his eyes widened considerably. The flavor was delightful, and he immediately melted into the taste. It was so good…!

“Yuu, is it any good?” Rene’s voice suddenly came from his other side. The black-haired teen took a seat next to Yuu, pointedly ignoring Lacus as he offered, “You want some of mine, too?”

Yuu was about to say yes, but he didn’t even get a chance to agree before Rene was tilting his chin up flirtatiously, bringing a spoonful of soup to his lips. “Here, eat up…” He thought he could hear the distant squeals of fangirls.

But before Yuu could even accept the soup, Lacus leaned over and clamped his lips around the spoon.

Rene’s attention snapped to Lacus. With his voice muffled around the spoon, Lacus grumbled, “Butt out. Go away.”

Yuu just barely managed to get out of the way before a food fight broke out between them, and he thought that perhaps he should have eaten in the classroom after all.

(He was kind of bitter about not tasting the soup, too.)

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

While seated around the table for a club meeting, everyone was present besides Lacus and Rene. Normally, Mika would have been furious about this, but considering the circumstances he let it slide.

Kimizuki began the discussion with the obvious. “If they don’t figure it out quickly, we’re going to have to stop offering the ‘yaoi pair’ package.”

“We could always change that to Mika-san and Yuu-san,” Shinoa said with a small grin.

“No way,” Yuu replied, stomping down the idea before it could even grow. Mika sulked off to the side.

Kimizuki glared at Yuu. “Well, if it goes on much longer, you’re gonna have to do just that.”

“Why me?” Yuu huffed defiantly. “Why not anyone else?”

“If you had just let them go to your house, this wouldn’t have started in the first place,” Kimizuki retorted, clearly blaming Yuu for their skirmish. Yuu narrowed his eyes and got ready to defend himself, but Yoichi spoke up before yet another rift formed in the club.

“This hasn’t happened before…” Yoichi frowned as he looked down at the stuffed rabbit in his lap. “I’ve known them since pre-school. We weren’t in the same year, so I never talked to them, but it seemed like they always played together…”

“You’re right,” Mika added, looking off to the side as he recalled a memory. “I’ve only known them since middle school, but it seemed like except for themselves, they kept everyone else at a distance. Thinking about it that way, maybe this fighting is a turn for the better. It means their world is starting to get a little larger, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s best to leave them alone for now so they can work it out.”

Yuu nodded to himself as he glanced out the window at the setting sun. It could be beneficial to leave them on their own, but if it was truly their first fight, Yuu wondered if they really needed someone to tell them when to call it quits more than ever. Plus, if they haven’t fought, did they even know how to make up with each other?

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

And that was why, the next day when they were still rattling off insults to each other, Yuu decided he had enough of their shit.

“Enough already!” Yuu snapped, causing the two ex-lovers to stop and stare at Yuu with shocked, wide eyes. He stormed over to them and shoved them apart, his expression twisted with irritation. “You both are to blame for this fight, but you’re even more to blame for bothering everyone around you!” With glaring eyes and pinkish cheeks, Yuu huffed and demanded, “Now say you’re sorry! If you don’t make up right now, then I’ll… I’ll…” Yuu didn’t know what he wanted to say, so he pointed at them and flusteredly threatened, “I’ll cry, and I’ll never let you come over to my house as long as I live!”

There was a moment of pause. Rene and Lacus said nothing and simply stared at Yuu.

Yuu waited, feeling his face warm a little more with the embarrassment of what he just said.

Then, the two of them smirked.

Yuu froze up. “W-What’s with those faces?”

“So, Yuu…” Lacus grinned and tilted his head. “Does that mean if we do make up, we can come over to your house?”

Yuu looked between them with stunned eyes as everything slowly, but eventually, clicked into place.

Wait a minute…

… was all of that… just an act!?

“I’m sorry, Lacus…” Rene was murmuring lowly and seductively to Lacus, who was now being intimately held in his arms. Yuu didn’t even see them move, for god’s sake. “Even though I was just following our script, I’m not fit to be your lover to say such awful things to you…”

“Not at all…!” Lacus nearly whimpered, delicate, glittering tears beading in the corners of his eyes. “I’m the one who was terribly worried about what I would do if I hurt you, Rene…!”

“Lacus, I’ll never let you go…!”

For a brief moment, no one could move. They were all stunned at how good of an act those two just put up for a handful of days, and even if it was a real fight, they had recovered from it way too smoothly.

“Oh, so you were just faking the fight!?” Yoichi cried out in disbelief.

“Well, we were just bored,” Lacus shrugged as he stepped out of Rene’s embrace, a wicked grin on his face.

Yuu was exhausted as he slumped into the nearest chair and processed everything that just went down. Shinoa cackled delightedly from the sidelines, and Yuu briefly wondered if she was part of their faux fight, too.

They were all the same as demons. There was no doubt about it. For the hundredth time, he was questioning what sort of club he had gotten himself into.

Chapter Text

When the door to the Host Club opened one normal afternoon, none of the hosts were expecting to see an elementary-school kid on the other side.

“Welcome,” they greeted in unison, but the surprise and curiosity was evident on their faces when the young boy closed the door behind him. He was a small kid, with scruffy brown hair and wide, chocolate-colored eyes.

“It’s a kid…” Lacus remarked.

“A boy,” Rene added helpfully.

“What’s wrong, little lost boy?” Mika asked with a grin. “Do you need something from our palace?”

“Y-You’re this place’s king?” The boy stammered, standing upright now that he had everyone’s attention. He was staring at Mika, likely assuming he was the ringleader of the bunch right off the bat.

Mika’s eyes gleamed at the word “king.” Yuu rolled his eyes and looked off to the side, already knowing how much Mika loved it when that title was applied to him. Graciously, Mika tilted his head and spoke in a regal tone of voice. “Yes, I am the King of this Host Club.”

“I-I’m Taichi, Elementary 5th-year, Class A.” The young boy named Taichi lifted his chin and took a deep breath. Then, he fixed his eyes on Mika and demanded, “Take me as your apprentice, Host Club King!”

Yuu inwardly groaned as Mika’s eyes glimmered and his face pinkened with excitement. He already could tell this would be a fiasco. Yuu thought that they should tell Taichi that this place was for big kids only, but of course, Mika was immediately won over by his new little fan.

Secretly, Yuu thought he was adorable as well, but he didn’t want to admit that out loud.

So, no questions asked, Taichi was seated at Mika’s table a few moments later to observe how he spoke with his clients.

“My, Mikaela-kun, you have an apprentice?” his current client asked with a rosy-cheeked smile.

“Yes,” Mika responded with a brief, fond glance to Taichi. “He’s still in grade school, but I like the look in his eye.”

“Can such a small boy serve as a host?” she asked with a tilt of her head.

“I think kids have their own type of charm, one that is completely innocent,” Mika responded smoothly, lifting his hand to lightly take hold of her chin. “Unlike my passions for you, my dear…”

“O-Oh, Mikaela-kun!” The girl’s face flushed with embarrassment, and she sighed delightfully from the mere thought of what he had suggested.

Meanwhile, Yuu watched on with narrowed eyes as he glanced between the couple and Taichi. The boy was almost falling out of his chair, leaning so close that he was practically on the table between them. Letting Taichi observe them at such a close distance had to make it difficult for Mika to do his job; at least, that’s what Yuu thought.

“Good for you,” Rene interrupted as he walked over to Mika, with Lacus close behind him. “That’s an adorable little apprentice you have there, Mika.”

“Rene…” Lacus murmured hesitantly from behind him, and so Rene turned over his shoulder to look at his lover questioningly. Lacus raised a delicate hand up to his lips, where he posed daintly, as if pondering something while on the verge of tears. “Rene, do you wish you had someone close to you who was that cute…?”

Rene acted immediately, pulling Lacus into his arms and affectionately nuzzling into his hair. “Silly… I could search the whole world and not find someone as cute as you, Lacus…”

A nearby pair of girls squealed with delight, causing Taichi’s eyes to widen with shock.

“H-Homos!” He stammered, seemingly amazed that he had finally seen some in the flesh. The comment had Yuu snickering slightly, and he turned away to retrieve some tea for a table of girls who had just wandered in.

Just then, Yoichi appeared out of nowhere and hugged Taichi from behind.

“Taichi-chan!” Yoichi smiled widely as he greeted the boy. “Want to have some cake with me? We have chocolate and strawberry!”

“E-Eh? What are you doing in a high school uniform?” Taichi questioned while squirming out of Yoichi’s hold. He looked bewildered as he stared at Yoichi, then bluntly asked, “What grade are you?”

Stunned by his rather harsh response, Yoichi fell back with stricken eyes. Not missing a beat, Gekkoin appeared, his shadow stretching threateningly over Taichi’s tiny form.

“What’s wrong, Yoichi?” Gekkoin asked, and Taichi flinched with fear and surprise from the sight of the tall, muscular man.

Yoichi rushed to hide behind Gekkoin as Taichi gaped and pointed. “No fair! You can’t go having older friends like that!”

In the process of backing away from the unlikely duo, he bumped into Yuu, who was carrying a tray of tea (as per usual). Yuu looked down at the kid with surprise, noticing his stunned expression.

“What’s the matter?” Yuu asked, a small smile on his face. He was naturally good with kids, and it showed every time he interacted with them. When Taichi didn’t answer, Yuu set down the tray on the nearest table and went on. “Ah, are you surprised at how everyone here is so unusual? I was also unable to get a grasp of the atmosphere around here at first, which threw me for a loop. I still don’t think I’m used to it yet myself, haha…”

Taichi stared up at him with wonder. “If you’re gay, how are you going to teach me how to make a woman happy?”

Yuu’s eyes widened with shock. Damn, this kid was sharp despite being so young! How he picked up on Yuu’s sexuality from just interacting with him once was beyond Yuu, and so he didn’t even know how to respond. Therefore, for one he was grateful when Mika showed up to rapidly change the subject and answer his question in his own way.

“Personal identity doesn’t matter if you know enough about women and how to please them,” Mika said gracefully as he placed a mentoring hand on Taichi’s shoulder. “At Ouran Host Club, we use our own personal characteristics to meet the needs of our guests, no matter our preferences. For instance, I am the princely type… and as for the others…” Mika nodded to each and every host as he listed them off. “The Wild type, Gekkoin… the boy Lolita type, Yoichi… the little-devil type, exhibited by both Rene and Lacus… the cool type, Kimizuki… and the natural type, Yuu-chan.”

“Natural…?” Yuu murmured to himself, feeling his cheeks tint with warmth as he was designated a type for the first time since joining (albeit unwillingly).

“We have the perfect assortment,” Mika finished with a short sigh as he glanced back to Taichi. “So if you wanted to join, I’m just not sure if we can find something we’re lacking for your role…”

“His age would suggest the boy Lolita type, but we already have Yoichi…” Kimizuki agreed with a nod.

“Tepid! Quite tepid!” The interruption of a female voice caught everyone’s attention. With the maroon bow in her hair bouncing with every step, Shinoa strutted forward and stood affirmatively with her hands on her hips. “Gentlemen of the Host Club, to think that you’d be so lackluster in your character analysis… I am a little bit dumbfounded.”

“Alright, Shinoa…” Mika tilted his head with a challenging grin. “How would you work with the material he’s got?”

“While it’s true that there are some girls who like Yoichi-san’s level of cuteness, he is still a high school student!” Shinoa tutted with her finger pointed at Yoichi. “But as Mika-san remarked before, some girls love the pure innocence of a child! As well as Yoichi can impersonate some level of innocence, his actions still have an underlying flirtatiousness, especially when interacting with Gekkoin-san, which is what his clients enjoy! And so, a little boy like Taichi… yes, he is truly a boy, and so he is undoubtedly the naughty type!”

“The naughty type…” Taichi echoed with furrowed brows.

“Yes!” Shinoa raised her chin up high with an affirmative nod. “The essentials of the naughty boy type are wearing shorts, which you are doing, and to have skinned knees and cheeks to play up your naughtiness. Yes, what you need are some bandaids to make it seem like you get in trouble!” Without missing a beat, Shinoa pulled out a few bandaids and fastened them to Taichi’s knees and one on his cheek. Yuu wondered where the hell she pulled them from, but he didn’t bother to question it. “Now, run! Run like a spoiled child and trip at the end!”

“H-Huh?” Taichi stammered, but Shinoa clapped her hands and pointed.

“You’ll know what to say once you fall! Now go!” Shinoa pushed his back lightly, and off Taichi went, running through the music room like a reckless brat. When he pretended to fall, one of the girls knelt beside him with concern in her eyes, seemingly unaware of the “training” going on.

“Are you alright, little boy?” the girl asked. Taichi sat up slowly and rubbed at his cheek, as if it was sore from where he fell.

“It’s nothing…” Taichi answered effortlessly, looking off to the side with a light flush. “No big deal.”

The girl smiled to her friend, who was standing just a short distance away, and they gathered together to coo over how adorable he was. Noticing their reactions, Shinoa proudly put her hands on her hips and said, “Perfect!”

“Outstanding,” Mika regarded with a gleam of pride in his azure eyes. “That was perfect coaching, Shinoa.”

Though once Taichi returned, he looked frustrated as he shook his head back and forth. “Nevermind… there’s no way I’ll make her happy with this, there’s just not enough time. Sorry to waste your time.”

“Her…?” Yuu murmured thoughtfully.

“H-Hey, Taichi!” Mika attempted to call out, but the boy ran off. Without looking back, he darted out of the Music Room, leaving everyone inside shocked and confused by his abrupt decision to leave.

“Hm…” Shinoa huffed lightly. “And yet, after I took the trouble of coaching him, he won’t keep going…”

“Well, typically no one would take a liking to that sort of lesson,” Yuu regarded with a long sigh. Seriously, did any of these people understand how kids were? “But nevermind that… aren’t you concerned about him? ‘There’s not enough time…’ what could that mean? Plus, he said something about ‘her.’ Who is she?”

Thoughtfully, Mika looked back to the door, where Taichi had just been moments prior. He seemed to be thinking of something to do.

After a moment, he straightened up and said, “As soon as our guests leave, I have a plan. We can discuss it then.”

Yuu nodded, hoping that whatever Mika had thought of would be successful.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Dressing up in a middle school uniform was not at all what Yuu considered to be a successful plan, and yet there he was, cringing as he walked through the halls of the elementary school with Yoichi clinging to his arm.

How did we get to this point again? Yuu wondered with a scowl, an embarrassed flush on his cheeks as he pretended to be a middle school kid bringing Yoichi, an elementary school kid, back to his classroom. Yuu had no idea why he couldn’t be a high school kid, but Mika and the others had insisted that he wore the signature Ouran Middle School white blazer to make it seem more like a plausible situation. It was rare that elementary kids would be anywhere near the high school, but for them to get lost around the middle school was not very unusual.

Truthfully, they were drooling over how cute Yuu looked in the middle school uniform, much to Kimizuki’s exasperation.

“We snuck in easily enough,” Yoichi assured him with a bright smile. He wore the green uniform of the elementary boys, with a cute blue necktie situated around the collar of his shirt. In shorts and knee-high white socks, he really looked as young as his face suggested. “At this rate, no one will notice a thing, Yuu-kun!”

“I understand your disguise… but why do I have to be in a middle school uniform?” Yuu hissed through gritted teeth, his eyebrows twitching in irritation. To make matters worse, they were standing out like sore thumbs from the elementary school kids- they may have younger-looking faces, but they were both significantly taller than all the children they passed by!

“Oh, there it is,” Yoichi said as he nodded to a door coming up on their right. “Taichi-kun’s classroom.” As they stepped inside the empty classroom, Yoichi released Yuu’s arm and smiled widely. “When I was an elementary school student, this was my classroom, too!”

“There’s no one here,” Yuu remarked as he looked around wearily. “Now what do we do…?”

They fell silent as they tried to think of what to do next. That was when they heard the sound of a piano playing from a room just nearby.

“Let’s take a look,” Yoichi suggested with a smile. He took Yuu’s hand, and Yuu blushed slightly, for he never did that sort of thing with his friends. Yoichi’s hand was unexpectedly soft and warm, and he tried not to get too embarrassed as they left the classroom and made their way down the hall where the piano music was coming from.

They paused by the large glass windows to glance inside. There were a lot of kids there, but they were all preoccupied with their own instruments. A young girl with tiny pigtails was playing the piano, a contented expression on her face as he tiny fingers danced across the keys.

Sure enough, sitting on the windowsill and watching her with big, chocolate-brown eyes was Taichi.

“There he is…” Yoichi whispered, squeezing Yuu’s hand a little tighter. They watched on for a moment, and Yuu noticed how transfixed Taichi was while observing the girl play the piano. He looked like he admired her, with his eyes round and sparkling, but a part of him looked upset at the same time. It was like he was holding himself back from doing something more.

When the door to the room opened and a different little girl stepped out, Yuu released Yoichi’s hand and called out to her. “Excuse me…”

The girl paused and looked to Yuu with a questioning look. Yuu knelt down in front of her with a kind, friendly smile.

“I wonder if you would tell me about that girl playing the piano?” Yuu asked gently, and the girl seemed less surprised to see them and more relaxed. Yuu let out a small sigh of relief, knowing that kids could be very intimidated by people older than them at first, especially those that they didn’t know.

“Ako-chan?” the girl looked over to the one on the piano, apparently named Ako. “She’s going to be moving away real soon. Her father has to move to Germany for his job before the end of next week.”

Yuu’s eyes widened with realization. When Taichi said he didn’t have much time, he was talking about Ako moving away. It all made sense now. He was about to thank her when the door opened again and Taichi himself stepped out. As soon as he saw Yuu and Yoichi, he tensed with recognition and stammered, “W-What are you two doing here?”

Not wanting to waste any time, Yuu smiled to the girl and thanked her. She ran off afterwards, leaving Taichi, Yuu and Yoichi alone. Yuu looked at Taichi’s flustered expression and decided to just be blunt and honest, as he usually was. “Taichi… when you said you wanted to learn how to make women happy, you weren’t talking about an unspecified number of women. You were talking about one girl- Ako. Is that right?”

Taichi’s eyes widened as he glanced to the girl in question through the window, who was still busy playing her piano. When he looked back at Yuu, speechless, Yuu smiled and went on.

“Only you can find the way to do that, right?” Yuu paused to let that fact sink in. “A host’s job is to make all women happy, but when it comes to a single girl that you like, you have to face her as yourself, not as a host.”

Taichi’s eyes watered with defeat as he looked at the ground. “It doesn’t matter anymore… there’s no time. I just wanted to at least watch her play as much as I could before she left. That’s all…”

It was Yoichi this time who spoke up, looking over Yuu’s shoulder with a knowing smile. “That set piece that she’s playing is a duet arrangement of a Mozart sonata, right?”

“Y-Yeah…” Taichi stammered, and so Yoichi grinned widely and gestured down the hall with a nod of his head.

“Come with us back to the Host Club,” Yoichi offered. “I think our King can still help you.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

When they returned with Taichi and explained the situation to the other hosts, everyone seemed to have that same knowing gleam in their eyes that Yoichi had before. Yuu was confused, but rather than asking right now, he watched on as Mika walked over to the corner of the room and pulled aside some sheer, pale-yellow drapery.

Behind the curtains was a grand piano.

Yuu gawked at the sight of it- was there always a grand piano there!? Then again, this was supposed to be a music room… so Yuu guessed it made sense, but still, he was shocked that he managed to miss it every time he was in here.

To Yuu’s amazement, Mika sat down in the seat, lifted the cover, and without hesitation… began to play.

Yuu was frozen in place as Mika’s eyes slipped closed and he lost himself in the music. His long, elegant fingers danced across the keys, pressing down beautifully onto each ivory key to create a lovely melody unlike Yuu had ever heard before. He studied Mika’s profile, so serene and relaxed as he played like a natural, reciting the sonata that Ako was playing entirely from memory. Even though he wasn’t there to hear it, he knew exactly what it was when Yoichi told him the name of the piece.

“Awesome…” Taichi breathed from beside Yuu, who was still and unmoving, watching with pink cheeks and gleaming eyes as Mika created the most beautiful music he had ever heard before.

When Mika’s piece came to a close, Yuu’s face flushed darker red when he realized he had been staring so openly. He looked aside hastily, his heart pattering quickly in his chest, but for once Mika only spared him a tender glance and instead, focused on Taichi.

“You did become my apprentice, right?” Mika said to the little boy while extending his hand to him in invitation. “Come on. I’ll teach you to play that duet before she has to leave. I think if you play it together… that will make her very happy.”

The smile that broke out across Taichi’s face was deeply heartwarming. Yuu felt himself smiling despite his former embarrassment from staring at Mika, for he was just happy to see a kid so excited to learn. Before, he thought that he was the only one good with kids here, but in that moment he realized that Mika’s ability to charm affected not only girls, but children as well.

Yuu felt his own heart beating rather heavily at that thought, and he turned away to go change back into his normal uniform in order to distract himself.

Mika? Charming Yuu at the same time? That was just silly… Yuu shook his head as he walked away. He was happy for Taichi- and that was all there was to it.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Only a few days later, the club room was set up beautifully, complete with plenty of freshly-blooming roses within pale pink vases. The hosts were all dressed in creamy-white tailcoat tuxedos with red-and-white striped ties, their dress shirts the same shade of pink as the vases. Chocolate brown vests and trousers topped off their enticing ensemble, and their guest of honor stood in the doorway, her young eyes wide with amazement and enchantment. Everyone else in the room- all of the Host Club’s members and guests- all stood in clumps around the room, whispering excitedly to each other.

“Welcome, princess,” greeted the hosts in unison, arms extended to the purpose of her visit.

“Today’s main program will be Taichi’s piano recital.” Mika stepped aside and gestured to the grand piano, which had been moved from the corner of the room to the center. There, at the seat of the piano sat Taichi, nervously staring at the keys with rosy cheeks. Ako stood in place, breathless as she looked at her friend, and Mika took her tiny hand to guide her to sit next to him.

“Princess, if you please…” Mika said as he lead her to the seat and let go of her hand. Ako paused for a moment, likely very surprised by this grand event set up all for them.

“Let’s play together,” Taichi offered timidly, and that was what did it for Ako. She beamed and sat down beside him with a sparkle in her eyes. Everyone else fell silent to listen to the two, and the many girls who frequented the Host Club were thrilled to see such a sweet, tender young romance bloom before their very eyes. It was truly a great idea not only for the kids, but for the Host Club at the same time.

“We’ve done a good thing,” Mika murmured once the two were well into their playing, and Yuu nodded with agreement, his chest warm with approval. Yuu watched the two play- he saw how widely Ako smiled and how deeply happy she seemed. Taichi was smiling as well, though he seemed to focus more on Ako than anything else, and it made Yuu feel so good to provide this opportunity to the kids.

“Wholehearted love…” Yuu responded softly. He smiled and peered up at Mika playfully. “Is that another way Taichi takes after you, Mika?”

Mika looked back at Yuu with a tender look in his eyes, one that made the blue in his irises shine more brilliantly than ever. “Absolutely.”

Yuu gazed back at him, a little starstruck. Finally, he smiled back, feeling a surge of joy rise in his chest like a cloud.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After class, Yuu was walking past the fountain in front of the south building. He was minding his own business, ready to go do his laundry at home, when suddenly Rene and Lacus appeared on either side of him and grabbed his arms.

“Abduction complete!” Lacus cried out. In a split second, a black limousine pulled up in front of them, and the door was opened to reveal Mika inside with a lieu of flowers about his neck. Yuu was thrown inside, and after him came Lacus and Rene. Inside, Mika- along with Kimizuki, Shinoa, Gekkoin and Yoichi- was already seated, grinning and waving at him. The door clicked shut, and the limo drove off before Yuu could even protest.

Despite him asking the entire time where they were going, no one answered him, and he was only given a pair of swimming trunks, a towel, and a duffel bag with some other things he might like to use. When they got out of the limo, he was ushered into a changing room, and so reluctantly he put on his swimming trunks and a light hoodie that he found in the bag. He wasn’t really fond of strutting around shirtless like the other guys.

Finally, he exited the changing room and got to see where the hell he was taken to.

He stepped out onto a tropical beach, complete with rows of palm trees and vibrantly colored birds… and the sight only made him even more befuddled.

There were no tropics in Japan. Was he dreaming? This place was clearly outside; it wasn’t a water park. He looked around for an exit, but all he saw was the beach, the ocean, and endless forests. It looked like the changing room had vanished entirely.

Everyone from the Host Club was gathered around towels and beach chairs, lounging about in suits and sipping on fruity, tropical drinks.

“Spending time to relax is important for us to refine our flawless beauty,” Mika explained with a flashy smile. “So we’re here in a convalescent, therapeutic theme park run by Kimizuki’s family! It doesn’t open for another month, but we have the whole place reserved to ourselves on a special advance invitation. Come join us!”

“I don’t care to waste my time here, so can I go?” Yuu grumbled, glancing around for a way out. Though as soon as he turned away, Yoichi was in front of him, a big smile on his face.

“Yuu-kun!” He called out as he grabbed Yuu’s wrists in a vice grip. “Want some coconut juice to drink? Or maybe some mango cake?”

Yuu looked back at his sparkly eyes, then gradually up at everyone else. He sighed deeply and realized he wasn’t going to get out of this soon enough, so he just had to go along with it. Plus… Yoichi was really squeezing his arms, like he was silently forcing Yuu to stay. Yuu caved in with another short sigh. “Uh… sure, I’ll take the coconut juice.”

“What’s with the hoodie?” Lacus asked when he approached Yuu. Yoichi had disappeared to get Yuu’s drink. Lacus looked Yuu up and down briefly. “Are you not swimming? Wait, do you even know how to swim?”

“I can swim as well as the next guy, but I’m just not very interested in this place, and I’d rather go home than goof around here swimming,” Yuu answered flatly as he glanced around the apparent amusement park. “What’s so great about this overblown facility, anyways? A vinyl pool should be all you need for playing in the water…”

“What’s a vinyl pool?” Lacus asked with furrowed brows.

“Let’s see…” Yuu tapped his chin, wondering how to explain this. “They’re about this big…” he motioned with his arms, “and you pump them full of air.”

“That’s an air boat,” Lacus said while shaking his head. “There’s no way something that small could be a pool.”

“It is a pool,” Yuu insisted. “Little kids play in them a lot, you know.”

“More importantly…” Shinoa narrowed her eyes as she approached the conversing duo. She nodded down to Yuu’s hoodie. “None of us were given any sort of pullover- not even me, and I’m a very cute girl!”

From where he sat in the shade, Mika paused and glanced over to them with widened eyes.

“Ordinarily, you’d think Mika-san would be dying to see you in nothing but a swimsuit, but how interesting that he gave you a hoodie to cover up with and not any of us…” Shinoa went on, speaking loudly enough for Mika to hear. Yuu squinted, then glared over his shoulder at Mika, who flushed red and very pointedly looked away.

“It was my choice, believe it or not,” Yuu said after he gave Mika the stink-eye, and in that moment Yoichi came rushing over to them, holding a coconut with a straw sticking out its top.

“Yuu-kun, here’s your juice!” Yoichi interrupted with a smile. “I’m going to go play at the current pool now!”

“Ah, thank you!” Yuu smiled as Yoichi ran back over to Gekkoin, who was swimming in the pool powered by jets to make it seem like a river with a strong current, or perhaps a tide pool. Yoichi jumped onto his back as if Gekkoin was a dolphin, laughing carelessly as the stronger man continued to propel them through the water.

“Gekkoin is awfully close to Yoichi, isn’t he?” Yuu remarked to Shinoa, who stood beside him, watching the pair swim with bemused eyes. “Are they childhood friends or something?”

“It’s more like… Gekkoin serves Yoichi,” Kimizuki answered, having appeared out of nowhere. Both Yuu and Shinoa looked at him curiously.

“Serves?” Yuu blinked widely. “Like a butler?”

“Their families have a long history of beng master and servant,” Kimizuki filled in, “but despite that no longer being necessary in this day and age, Gekkoin continues to serve him. It must get his blood going or something.”

Yuu and Shinoa both hummed with intrigue as they watched the two interact in the water. It seemed that no one could tell if they were lovers or not, but it hardly mattered.

Mika finished his drink and joined Yuu’s side by the edge of the water, though before he could say anything, he was splashed directly in the face by a spurt of water. Yuu flinched from the jet of unexpected water even though it didn’t hit him, and in his surprise, he looked over to see Lacus and Rene holding water guns.

“Bulls-eye!” Lacus grinned victoriously.

“It’s a water gun battle,” Rene added with an affirmative nod. “If you get hit in the face again, you lose, and there’s a penalty game.”

“Who’d want to play along with that childish game?” Mika muttered irritably as he wiped the water away from his eyes.

“Oh, I dunno, we could always make your dear Yuu-chan do it,” Lacus said with a devious smirk. “We could get him all wet from head to toe…”

Yuu looked at them with a raised eyebrow, though before he could even have a say in whatever weird shit they were scheming, Mika grabbed a water gun and furiously pumped it full of water.

“I won’t allow it!” He declared, and then Yuu watched with confusion as Mika chased the others down the beach with his water gun raised threateningly. Sighing, he went and took a seat in the shade to enjoy his coconut juice in peace.

By the time Yuu was almost done with his drink, it had gotten suspiciously quiet. Mika, Lacus and Rene were off somewhere in a water gun battle. Kimizuki was nowhere to be seen. Even Yoichi and Shinoa were elsewhere. Yuu looked confusedly at Gekkoin as he approached, rubbing at his wet, spiky white hair with a towel.

Yuu gulped a little as he watched the water droplets slide down his defined chest and abs. They trickled down between the bumps of his muscles, leaving behind glistening trails that went all the way down to the edge of his trunks. They were soaking wet and so they clung lowly onto his hips, revealing defined hipbones and a little trail of hair from his belly button down to…

Yuu immediately snapped his eyes back up to his face, feeling an embarrassed heat rise from his neck and bleed out to his ears. Gekkoin was looking at him, eyebrows arched as Yuu stared back with rapidly reddening cheeks.

“U-Uh, do you want a drink?” Yuu offered his coconut milk nervously. Damn, he didn’t mean to check Gekkoin out like that. It was hard when he looked like a legitimate swimsuit model and was standing right in front of Yuu, shirtless and slick from the water… how could he not stare just a little?

“Sure,” Gekkoin said and took the coconut from Yuu’s hand. He took a sip or two, then looked out at the water with tensed brows. He seemed to be concerned, and so Yuu tilted his head and stood up. He was surprised to see that Yoichi wasn’t around.

“Did you lose sight of him?” Yuu asked tentatively. Gekkoin frowned and looked back to Yuu. With a small sigh, Yuu nodded and went on. “Everyone else is gone, too. It’s kinda weird. Should we go look? Besides, I’m sure Yoichi is safe with the others. He’s tougher than you might think.”

Gekkoin gazed down at Yuu with an intrigued expression. Then, he reached out and...

… ruffled Yuu’s hair. Yuu blinked wide-eyed at Gekkoin, his cheeks tinting pink from the unexpected affectionate gesture. Then, Gekkoin lowered his hand and turned around to look off at the trees.

“I’m going to go look for them,” Gekkoin announced, and without waiting for Yuu’s answer to see if he would follow or not, he went off directly into the trees.

“A-Ah, wait!” Yuu followed after him, his heart racing with uncertainty. “Don’t go alone!”

Deep down, Yuu knew this was just an amusement park and that they weren’t in any real danger, but the jungle seemed so realistic. He still couldn’t help but to be frightened at the prospect of any venomous animals or freaky, poisonous bugs. And so everywhere they went, Yuu flinched and jumped at the rustling leaves and crunching of twigs beneath their feet.

Gekkoin sighed after a while, turning around to regard Yuu with thoughtful eyes. Yuu stopped in his tracks, feeling embarrassed that he was clearly being such a drag.

“Sorry, I’ll just…” Yuu muttered, about to turn around and try to find his way back, but he froze in place when Gekkoin approached him, his shadow completely enveloping Yuu.

“Yuu…” Gekkoin murmured, sending a jolt of surprise through Yuu’s chest. Wow, he thought, that’s the first time he’s called me by my name…

And then, before he knew it, Gekkoin had lifted Yuu entirely with one arm scooped underneath his thighs. Yuu gaped with shock, one arm curled against Gekkoin’s body and the other pressing flat against his chest.

His face burned a brilliant red as soon as he realized he was being held so tenderly by Gekkoin. And most of all... this guy was carrying Yuu’s entire body with one arm!

Yuu gulped, feeling the brawny muscle of Gekkoin’s arm holding him, and when he looked up at the older man, his nose was dangerously close to brushing against Gekkoin’s neck. That fact alone had Yuu blushing even more, and he ducked his head down in the crook of Gekkoin’s neck to avoid looking at him any longer.

“Ah…” Gekkoin suddenly spoke, the sound deep and reverberating throughout his chest. Even Yuu could feel it, and he looked up with a start. Did he seriously just doze off cuddled up against Gekkoin!? Mortified, Yuu began blushing again, and when he heard the rustling of leaves, he realized Gekkoin spoke because they had stumbled across the others.

“Gekko!” Yoichi cried out as he burst out from the leaves, arms outstretched. “I found you!”

“Yuu-chan!” Mika looked relieved, as if he had also been searching for Yuu this entire time. “You’re safe, thank god! We got lost during our water gun battle, and we found the others wandering around, but we didn’t know where you or Gekkoin were!”

“O-Oh, uh, yeah, we’re fine…” Yuu stammered as he was set down to his feet, and immediately Mika pulled him into a hug. Being embraced by yet another very attractive shirtless guy had Yuu’s face plummeting into heat again. When would he ever get a break…?

When Mika finally let go, Yuu stepped back and cleared his throat, praying that his pent-up hormones hadn’t gotten the better of him. Being around all these guys- especially Gekkoin, who was practically dripping with testosterone- was doing all sorts of things to Yuu’s teenage body. He shuddered a bit and stood off to the side, a respectable distance away from everyone else.

“You did very well protecting Yuu-kun!” Yoichi praised Gekkoin as soon as the two were reunited. He held onto Gekkoin’s wrist to tug him down so that they were of a more equal height, and then he patted Gekkoin’s head as if he were a well-behaved dog. “You didn’t get lonesome without me around, right?”

Gekkoin looked to the side hesitantly. His face might have tinted a light shade of pink, though Yuu couldn’t see it clearly. “I wouldn’t say that…”

Once the whole group was finally reunited, they headed back to the changing rooms.

“We should go to the beach next,” Lacus suggested with a grin.

“The beach would be nice,” Shinoa agreed with a nod.

“I might not mind going to the beach,” Yuu admitted with a small smile. “This obviously artificial location isn’t really my thing, but the real beach would be nice. It’s pretty there.”

“Alright, you got it,” Mika responded with a wide grin. “Next, we go to the beach.”

Yuu paused to look at the simulated sunset, a small, contented smile resting on his lips. The thought was promising, and he hoped that one day it would really happen.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“The beach?” Yuu blinked with wonder at Lacus and Rene, who were hovering behind him as he organized some decorative books in the clubroom. It had been a week since their outing to the artificial tropics, and things had more or less been going as normally as they could. It was only a matter of time, Yuu realized, until something weird or out of the ordinary happened again.

“Yeah, you said you wanted to go,” Rene reminded him.

“Ah, I did…” Yuu scratched at his cheek as he remembered his admission on the shore of the tropical beach. “I guess I didn’t think it would happen so soon.”

“Well, we’re going!” Mika announced, having appeared out of thin air (as usual). “Tomorrow morning, we will all go together.”

“At least this time I know when we’re going…” Yuu muttered. “I don’t like being abducted.”

“Then, it’s settled.” Mika nodded affirmatively. “We’re going to the beach in Okinawa!”

Chapter Text

The line that divided the sky and the ocean was a distant, blurry haze. It was like the two weren’t separated at all. The brilliant azure sky was reflected by the clear, shimmering waves of the sea, and the sun shone down onto the sandy beach, creating a picture-perfect image that one would normally only find on a postcard. It was a splendid day to be out on the beach, and the Host Club was open for business on the shore of this particular privately-owned beach.

After dropping their belongings off at a villa that the club rented out just for themselves, they went to the beach to meet their excited guests. Many girls from Ouran stayed nearby hotel rooms for the night so they could spend time with the Host Club on the beach in this special summer-themed occasion. The cost of the rooms was funded by the profit from the film’s DVD sales.

All sorts of things had been going on; Mika was taking private strolls along the coastline with his clients, spending a little bit of alone time with each girl. Kimizuki was making lemonade with a few of his guests while Lacus and Rene played a game of beach volleyball with their girls. Yoichi and Gekkoin were building sandcastles while some of their guests helped and watched with big, bright smiles. Shinoa was relaxing with a large, fruity drink and flipping through a manga book with a large pair of sunglasses perched on her nose.

And Yuu… well, Yuu had no idea what to do, so he sat in the shade and looked out at the sea and the various events taking place.

“Yuu-kun?” a tentative female voice asked from behind him. Yuu turned around from where he sat on his towel to look at her. He noticed she was accompanied by a few other girls. The same girl went on to ask, “Aren’t you going to swim?”

“I like looking at the sea more,” Yuu replied with a small smile.

“Well, would it be okay if we joined you?” one of the girls meekly asked.

Yuu tilted his head at them thoughtfully. “Sure, but you should go swim. You’re wearing such cute swimsuits, after all.”

The girls all turned red and giggled amongst each other. “Well, alright then! But don’t get lonely!”

Yuu smiled and watched them run off, then relaxed back onto his towel. He didn’t mind spending a little time on his own to just admire the scenery. Though, his solitude didn’t last long when he heard Yoichi calling out to him, waving a small shovel up in the air.

“Yuu-kun! Let’s go hunting for seashells!” Yoichi offered, and behind him stood Gekkoin… bare-chested and slick with tanning oil, his entire body gleaming in the sunlight. Yuu froze up as his face heated considerably. Jesus, was that really necessary!?

“S-Sure…!” Yuu called back, then got to his feet and went over to where Yoichi was crouched by the shoreline. He grinned awkwardly and nodded to Gekkoin, who only regarded hm with a momentary look before looking off at the sea. Gulping, Yuu knelt down beside Yoichi and tried to focus on literally anything else. He noticed how Yoichi already had a bucket of seashells.

“Wow, these are beautiful,” Yuu remarked with rounded eyes. There were all sorts of shells there, from conches to sand dollars, and it wasn’t long before Yuu was poking around in the shallow water and discovering his own little collection.

Eventually, Yuu caught sight of Mika walking nearby with a few girls by his side, and without thinking much he bolted to his feet with a large shell in his hands. “Mika!”

Instantly, Mika stopped whatever he was saying to look over to Yuu, who was rushing over to him with a big, goofy grin on his face. “Look, look! This shell is huge, isn’t it? Isn’t it cool, Mika?”

Mika’s face flushed pink and he smiled back at Yuu. The girls beside him watched his expression with varying levels of awe and amusement. “It is! Where’d you find that, Yuu-chan?”

“Right over there!” Yuu inspected the shell with sparkling eyes. “It washed up, and then-”

“A-A centipede!!” one of the girls shrieked, and Yuu suddenly noticed the worm-like bug crawling up the side of the shell. It was rather tiny, but the girls all screamed and jumped back to distance themselves from the threatening creature. Even Mika flinched and backed up, and Yuu merely looked down at it with slight surprise.

Then, he plucked it off the shell and threw it far away, into the cracks of a nearby rocky cliff.

“Yuu-kun is so manly…!” One of the girls commented as they began inching closer to him, still cautious despite the bug being gone now. “And yet, still so nice…”

“Fantastic…!” Another girl sighed dreamily. They crowded around Yuu immediately, and Mika looked down at him with warm, fond eyes.

“Is there anything you’re afraid of?” Mika asked with a light chuckle. Yuu looked up at him with an amused grin, then shrugged and continued to admire his shell. He was more than happy to show it off to the girls who were now crowding them, too- the shell was passed around, and after awhile, Yuu decided to keep looking for more. Maybe he could give them out as gifts or something.

So, that’s what Yuu did for the rest of the afternoon- he trotted around the shoreline with his bucket, digging up as many shells as he could find, and he saved the ones that were impressive enough, at least in his opinion. After some time, the sun settled low in the sky, coloring the landscape varying shades of warm ambers, soft oranges and rosy pinks. Around that time, the guests began going back to their hotels for dinner.

A few guests were still scattered around the beach however, and as Yuu searched around a rocky cliff, he heard a few girls calling out his name.

“Yuu-kun!”

Surprised, Yuu looked up to the source of the voices, and sure enough he saw three girls waving at him from atop the rocks.

“This breeze feels great!” One of the girls called down to him with a smile.

“It’s dangerous up there!” Yuu replied. “Be careful!”

But as soon as the words left his mouth, they seemed to be carried away with the wind. His eyes narrowed with suspicion when he saw two gruff-looking guys climbing up the back of the rocks. He certainly didn’t recognize them, and he knew this beach was rented out by the Host Club for them and their guests only.

And considering the creepy grins on their faces, they were up to no good. They started talking to the girls, and Yuu couldn’t hear them clearly, but he could tell the girls were immediately uncomfortable.

That was unacceptable. Yuu grit his teeth and made his way to the other side of the rocky cliff, then climbed up as quickly as he could. When he reached the top, he saw that they had cornered the girls and were trying to grab them.

Disgusting. Yuu clicked his tongue and then stood his ground as he shouted, “Oi! Get the hell out of here! They don’t want you, so stop bothering them!”

“Yuu-kun!” One of the girls breathed with relief. They all watched on with sparkling eyes, clearly very grateful to be saved by their dashing host.

“Why, you little kid…” the one guy narrowed his eyes and stalked forward, but Yuu only glared back at him, hands balling into fists. The girls began inching away, and so Yuu made sure to help protect their path of escape. Once all three of them climbed down the rocks and were on the beach safely, Yuu was going to turn around and make sure they were alright- but the second guy had crept up behind Yuu and shoved him forward.

Yuu stumbled a bit and was immediately grabbed by the first guy. His shirt collar was bunched up in his fist, and Yuu glared angrily at him, revolted from the stench of his beer-scented breath.

“What’s with these spindly arms, huh? Don’t go trying to act tough when you’re such a disgusting little twink,” he spat, and Yuu immediately reeled back an arm out of rage. First, these guys were freaky predators and now they were homophobic? That’s what did it for Yuu- and so, without thinking, he decked the guy square in the face.

The punch resounded loudly and the guy cried out in pain, staggering back and releasing Yuu in the process. The second punk came running after Yuu, but Yuu managed to trip him so he fell onto his chin, which made a cringe-worthy crack against the rocks below.

“Yuu-chan!” Mika called out fearfully, and Yuu tensed as he saw Mika rushing up the side of the cliff. The girls must have asked him for help.

“Mika, don’t worry, I’ve got this under control-” Yuu assured him, but to his shock, the first guy had recovered from the punch quickly and leapt forward before Yuu could finish his sentence. Yuu could only gasp as he was shoved back, hard, and he lost his balance as he slipped from the edge of the rocky cliff and began falling.

Besides the involuntary fear and shock of falling backwards into the ocean, Yuu was even more surprised to see Mika jump off the edge of the rocky cliffside as well, reaching out to Yuu.

Then, he hit the water with a hard, stunning impact. The surge of the ocean’s current swept him far, far below before he had a chance to recover from the shock of the impact. Yuu knew how to swim, but he wasn’t prepared to, and the ocean was strong. He scrambled in the water, his arms flailing helplessly, but he eventually felt someone grab him and hold him tightly.

Mika…

Yuu clung to the person who held him, knowing that it was Mika who had saved him, and he stayed still as Mika propelled them up to the surface.

He didn’t quite remember losing consciousness, but perhaps he lost oxygen for a moment or two during the swim back to the surface. He wasn’t sure, but when he really became aware of his surroundings, he noticed that he was being carried by Mika as the blond walked them to the shore. As he blinked his eyes open further, his heart thumped harder against his chest as he noticed how tenderly Mika held him, with one hand under his upper back and the other under the fold of his knees.

As soon as they got to the shore where the others were gathered, Mika paused and let Yuu down onto his feet. Still a tad stunned, Yuu kept gripping onto Mika’s arm with one hand, his eyes lowered to the sand beneath them as he shivered from the coldness of the ocean water. Noticing his chilled state, Gekkoin draped a towel over Yuu’s shoulders, and Yuu glanced to him gratefully as he pulled it tighter around his trembling form.

“Where are they?” Mika asked lowly, his eyes blazing with the same sort of rage from when he thought those students were threatening Yuu during the filming of their movie.

“I took their ID’s,” Shinoa said, proudly holding the two plastic cards between her fingers, “and Kimizuki-san might have given them a few more bruises. We already reported them for trespassing.”

“The girls went back to the hotel,” Kimizuki added as he rubbed at his knuckles, which were slightly reddened. He looked to Yuu, eyebrows tense with worry. “If we need a doctor, I can-”

“I don’t need a doctor, I’m alright,” Yuu insisted, now finding his voice again. He let go of Mika entirely and stepped away to put a little space between them. But then, his eyes widened as Mika reached out to grip his shoulders. He was turned so they faced each other, and Mika’s angry eyes clashed with Yuu’s, much to Yuu’s shock.

“Why did you try and handle that by yourself?” Mika hissed, looking frantic as he searched Yuu’s face.

“I-I was just there and I didn’t have time to think of anything else-” Yuu tried, but Mika interrupted him before he could even finish.

“Well think about it, you idiot!” Mika snapped, causing Yuu to flinch. “You could have gotten hurt, trying to fight on your own like that!”

“I’ll apologize for making you come after me, but why else would you be mad at me?” Yuu challenged, now feeling defensive more than anything. “I was handling it just fine! I haven’t done anything wrong! It would have been worse to ignore them and let those girls get harassed!”

“You should have called for help first,” Mika hissed, then harshly let go of Yuu’s arms. “Not… not taken that fight on your own. Dammit, Yuu-chan…”

And with that, Mika turned away abruptly, then stalked away from the group. An awkward tension hung in the air, and Yuu glared furiously at Mika’s back. He didn’t think in that moment about Mika being worried about him- he was just pissed that Mika thought he couldn’t defend himself or handle stuff like that on his own. He was a man, too… he didn’t need to be babied constantly.

Yuu pulled the towel tighter around his shoulders and marched off in the direction of the villa without another word.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

At dinner, everyone was silent and it was suffocatingly awkward. Yuu wore a comfortable, slightly oversized hoodie that Yoichi complimented when he walked in, and despite Mika’s eyes following Yuu’s every move, he refused to look over at the other and instead took his seat.

“Let’s eat, Yuu-kun,” Yoichi insisted with a slightly nervous tone of voice. Clearly, he was trying to dispel the negativity surrounding Mika and Yuu, but Yuu wasn’t having it. It was dark and gloomy outside and it appeared as if there would be a storm later; it was quite fitting of the atmosphere inside at the same time.

Yuu glared at Mika briefly, who was looking down at his plate, and then he took a crab leg for himself. Instead of using any of the tools to crack the shell open, Yuu resorted to using his bare hands.

Crunch. The sound was so loud and aggressive that Mika flinched, and Yuu looked straight ahead as he nonchalantly and savagely ate the crab meat right from the leg.

He didn’t pause or anything, either. Yuu was fucking hungry, and so he was going to let out his anger on breaking these crab legs one by one. Over and over, he used his fists to snap them in half, then bit down angrily into the meat, shamelessly eating without any regard to table manners.

Sensing his anger, Mika could barely eat his own food. After hearing endless legs cracked and devoured, he sighed and stood abruptly from the table. “Alright, I get it. Since you’re not going to reconsider your actions, I’m going to bed.”

Without another word, Mika stormed out of the dining hall, and Yuu paused in his aggressive, animalistic eating to watch as he retreated. Then, he glanced hesitantly to Yoichi, who was frowning at Yuu.

“Hey, Yuu-kun…” Yoichi started off gently. “I think… I think Mika-kun needs to apologize for snapping at you, but you know he’s only worried about you… so I think you owe him an apology, too.”

Yuu’s eyes widened with realization as he slowly lowered his crab leg. “Mika’s… worried about me?”

Rene sighed and shook his head. “Anyone with eyes can tell that much.”

Yuu thought about it for a moment and his heart sank. Now, he felt ridiculous, being so mad at Mika when Mika was only worked up over his well being. With a frown, Yuu quietly murmured,  “I’m sorry…”

“Of course we’ll forgive you!” Lacus cooed. “You’re too cute for us to stay mad at you!”

“Now I don’t feel so good,” Yuu admitted with a groan. He lowered his forehead onto the table. “Ugh…”

“Go wash up for the night,” Kimizuki suggested, then stood from the table. “I’m going to go do the same thing. Everyone, finish up so that the maids can clean and go get their rest.”

“Got it!” Yoichi responded with a wide smile. Yuu took his advice and wandered down the hall, then found the nearest room and went inside to bathe.

After showering, Yuu walked out into a dark bedroom, which was… odd, considering that he swore it wasn’t dark when he came in… but whatever, he didn’t think about it any longer. Yuu rubbed at his damp hair and yawned as he wandered further inside, and then-

“Shit!” Yuu yelped with shock when he saw Kimizuki sitting at the small table by the window, staring at Yuu behind the glare of his glasses. “W-What the hell, Kimizuki? Don’t just sit there in the dark like that!”

“You were the one to wander into my room,” Kimizuki pointed out with a short sigh. Yuu tensed up with the realization that he had just walked into some random room without even checking to see if it belonged to anyone in the first place.

“O-Oh, sorry…” Yuu apologized with an awkward smile.

“I only put my bag in here, so I’ll move to a different room,” Kimizuki said with a shrug. “It’s no big deal.”

“Really?” Yuu smiled as Kimizuki stood up from his chair. “Thanks! This room is so big, I wonder if the others are the same size…? Kimizuki?”

Yuu trailed off, confused as Kimizuki walked up to Yuu and paused in front of him. His expression was tense with irritation, and so Yuu frowned as he looked up at the taller man. “What, are you mad at me too now? I already said I was sorry…”

“It’s not that, Yuu…” Kimizuki sighed as he ran a hand through his short, choppy pink hair. “Well, I guess it kind of is. It’s… you’re-”

“I get that you were all worried, but would you lay off already?” Yuu bit out with narrowed eyes. “I’m not incapable of handling myself. You’re all acting like I was some damsel in distress. I can fight!”

“Really now?” Kimizuki’s eyes flashed with anger. “Can you fight against two guys at the same time? How about three or four?”

“Yeah, I can!” Yuu challenged with a pointed glare, thrusting his face up so it was closer to Kimizuki’s. “Don’t believe me?”

“That’s not the point!” Kimizuki grit his teeth. Before Yuu had a chance to react, Kimizuki grabbed him by the shoulders tightly. “Dammit, Yuu! Open your eyes a little! You may be a guy, but you’re gay!”

“And so what?” Yuu snapped back as he tried to step away and squirm out of Kimizuki’s hold. “So is almost everyone in this damn club-”

Yuu gasped as he stumbled and fell back against the bed. Kimizuki’s weight fell on top of him, and after falling, Yuu’s eyes snapped open with shock.

Kimizuki was on top of him, his shadow covering Yuu’s body as he pinned him down to the mattress. Their eyes locked briefly, and Yuu was rendered speechless by the sudden, unexpected emotion in Kimizuki’s eyes- emotion that he never noticed before.

He looked… stricken and desperate. Yuu was frozen with confusion and surprise, but most of all, his heart ached with empathy. He couldn’t help but to feel pained as soon as he saw such shattered emotions in Kimizuki’s eyes.

“So am I,” Kimizuki hissed, so quietly that Yuu thought he imagined it. “It’s not just Rene, who’s on the ace spectrum, and Lacus, who identifies as bisexual. You and I both are gay, but our experiences are different, Yuu. I’m older than you, and I’ve seen how nasty people can get… do you understand?”

Yuu blinked up at Kimizuki, only slightly surprised by the revelation that Kimizuki was gay. He was way more shocked at how… terrified Kimizuki looked. His hands shook slightly from where they gripped Yuu’s shoulders, his fingers tightening in the fabric of his hoodie.

“Kimizuki…” Yuu murmured quietly, peering up at the older student’s concerned gaze. “Have you… have you been bullied or something?”

Kimizuki was tense as he looked down at Yuu, searching his eyes briefly before looking away, as if he didn’t want Yuu to see his true emotions. “That and much, much more, but… that’s not what I’m trying to say right now. Listen, it’s not hard to tell that you’re gay, which can be a bad thing sometimes. Just… don’t be such a dumbass and look out for yourself, alright?” Kimizuki let go of his hoodie and sat back, then slid off the bed while keeping his eyes averted. “I’m glad you stuck up for those girls, but you can’t always be the hero. Just remember that.”

Yuu stared at him silently, all sorts of questions spinning in his head. His lips parted to ask something, but just as he took a short breath in to speak, the doorknob moved and the door swung open.

Mika stood there and then froze, staring at Kimizuki and Yuu blankly.

“Uh… sorry to intrude,” Mika finally said. “I was just exploring the villa. I’ll go.”

“N-No, wait.” Yuu called out as he sat upright on the bed. Mika paused and looked at him with mild surprise, and then he glanced to Kimizuki hesitantly.

“I’ll be going now,” Kimizuki said dismissively. He knew the two needed to talk and make up from their argument, and so Yuu was thankful for his understanding as he walked out past Mika. Then, Mika stepped inside and shut the door behind him.

“What were you doing with Kimizuki?” Mika asked quietly, looking at Yuu with a little hint of suspicion.

“Nothing, really…” Yuu muttered as he looked over at Mika. He didn’t really want to give Mika any details of their conversation, for he didn’t know if Kimizuki was out to everyone else or not. He tended to be a bit reserved and closed off from the others, so it wouldn’t surprise him if Kimizuki kept it to himself. It wasn’t Yuu’s place to out Kimizuki to anyone, even Mika, and so he didn’t really want to tell Mika much else.

“You expect me to…” Mika started, but then he sighed and turned away. “Nevermind. A lot happened today and you must be tired, so…”

“A-Ah, wait, Mika…” Yuu stammered, his heart racing a little faster as he tried to will it in himself to apologize. He parted his lips to say something as he stood from the edge of the bed, but in that moment, a bright flash of lightning painted the room in electric-white light.

Following was the deafening crack of thunder, and Yuu became paralyzed with fear.

Shit. He hated thunderstorms. He stared at Mika with petrified eyes, and he paled as his heart began to race faster and faster from terror. Endless rainfall pelted the windows, and Yuu held back a frightened whimper.

Mika paused and stared at him, shocked by Yuu’s outburst and sudden silence. “Yuu-chan…?”

Shaking off his fear momentarily, Yuu looked around the room quickly for somewhere safe. His eyes landed on a large wooden wardrobe, and so he darted over to it with a nervous laugh.

“W-Would you look at the time!” Yuu called out loudly as he yanked the wardrobe’s doors open. “I-I just remembered something I have to take care of! So, if you’ll excuse me, haha… hahaha…”

“O-Oi, Yuu-chan, no one has any business in there…!” Mika called out with confusion, but Yuu ignored him and shut himself within the wardrobe. He hugged his arms and leaned against the back of the dark closet, clenching his eyes shut and trying to force himself not to cry. Another clash of thunder boomed outside, and Yuu whimpered quietly.

“Are you… are you afraid of thunder?” Mika asked, his voice muffled from the wooden doors of the wardrobe between them. “Come on, Yuu-chan, get out of there… staying in there makes it even scarier, doesn’t it?”

Yuu slid down so that he sat at the bottom of the wardrobe. As he hugged his knees to his chest, he bit out, “I’ll be alright. I always get through it by doing this.”

Mika was silent for a moment. “Always… by yourself?”

Yuu nodded, but then he realized Mika couldn’t see him. He pressed his forehead against his knees and clenched his eyes shut. “Yeah. I’ll be fine.”

It got quiet, and for a while, all Yuu could hear was the rain outside. He thought Mika finally left him alone, so of course he was startled when Mika suddenly opened the wardrobe. Yuu looked up with surprise, his slightly teary eyes meeting those of Mika’s.

“I understand now,” Mika said softly, expression soft with empathy. “You… you must have grown up without relying on anyone else. That’s why you fought today without asking us for help…”

Yuu stared up at him, feeling his heart twist and contract with emotion. How was it that Mika saw through him so suddenly, that he understood more than anyone else ever had, all within a few minutes?

“So, come on.” Mika extended his hand down to Yuu, a welcoming smile on his lips. “You’re not alone anymore, Yuu-chan.”

His heart pounded and pounded, resounding loudly in his ears and chest. Yuu couldn’t move. He just stared in shock at Mika- Mika, who had pinpointed his insecurity and his loneliness when Yuu least expected it, and who was now offering to be there for Yuu during his times of weakness.

A crack of lightning followed by thunder finally jerked Yuu into motion. He jumped, frightened by the loud sound, and this time he leapt up and into Mika’s embrace.

He threw his arms around Mika’s torso and buried his face in Mika’s chest, clenching his eyes shut as Mika tenderly held his back and stroked his hair with his other hand.

“From now on, I’ll be there,” Mika promised softly, his breath warm against Yuu’s temple. “I’ll do all I can not to take my eyes off of you to make sure you don’t feel like you’re alone again.”

Yuu practically melted into his arms, and he clung tightly to Mika’s shirt, like he was afraid Mika would disappear if he let go. His chest felt warm with happiness, with the comfort of being with someone else, and the fear slowly ebbed away the longer he was held by Mika.

Eventually, they ended up on the bed together, for now that Yuu had started clinging to Mika, he refused to let go. He didn’t let himself think about it. He was just so grateful to have someone there, holding him and stroking his back in the most comforting way, that he didn’t stop to become bothered by the fact that he was cuddling in bed with Mika.

And so when he woke up the next day after the thunderstorm stopped, he finally realized he was nuzzled into the crook of Mika’s neck… and so he immediately flew back with so much force that he fell off the edge of the bed with a loud thump.

“Yuu-chan…?” Mika woke up slowly, blinking his eyes open with a yawn. As he stretched, Yuu saw the shape of his body and his musculature through the material of his white t-shirt, and immediately Yuu’s heart began pounding harder. Yuu stayed put on the ground with his face as red as a cherry, his whole body utterly baking with an embarrassed heat unlike anything else.

He had just… slept in bed with Mika all night, cuddled up to him as if they were lovers or something.

Not just anyone- he slept in the same bed as Mika, the drop-dead gorgeous (yet obnoxiously flashy) prince of the Host Club. The very same guy that Yuu may or may not have a developing crush on. He couldn’t help but be attracted to Mika- because come on, when someone that handsome was hovering in his personal space all the time, it was hard for him to ignore such a flawless face- but feeling anything deeper than that was a challenge for Yuu. He wasn’t one to fall prey to a pretty smile so easily.

But after last night, hearing those things that Mika said… Yuu covered his face with his hands and curled up on the floor. God, why did Mika have to sound so romantic!?

It only made his feelings more stirred up…

“Hey, Yuu-chan…” Mika was sitting on the edge of the bed now, peering down at Yuu with a slightly embarrassed smile. “I’m sorry… you were clinging so tightly to me, and I couldn’t just push you away when you were so scared. So I just fell asleep… b-but I promise I didn’t do anything weird!”

“Yeah, but did you think it?” Yuu grumbled as he peeked out from behind his hands, his face still burning red.

Instead of sputtering and laughing off the question like Yuu expected, Mika instead fixed him with an earnest, tender smile and said, “Not at all. I just wanted to be there for you, Yuu-chan. Nothing else- I promise.”

Well, shit, that wasn’t the answer he was expecting. Yuu felt his heart pound harder and he looked at the floor, shy and flustered from how… caring Mika was being right now.

“Are you feeling better?” Mika asked after a moment, and Yuu sighed as he nodded and got to his feet. He winced as he rubbed at his back- he might have a big bruise there now from how hard he fell on the ground.

“Yeah…” Yuu glanced around, his face still burning hot. How was he supposed to act now? He shuffled his feet for a moment and looked everywhere but Mika as he awkwardly spoke. “U-Uhm… I’m sorry… for how I acted yesterday. I… I didn’t mean to worry you. So, uhm, t-... thank you for… uh… saving me, and then keeping me company all night…”

Mika simply sat there, staring at Yuu with wide eyes and a flushed face. Though his blush was light and nothing to compare to Yuu’s, who was practically melting into the floor.

“A-Anyways!” Yuu suddenly snapped and stood upright. “The others are probably wondering where we are, so we should go get breakfast…”

Mika stood up from the bed with a smile wider than Yuu had ever seen. He fixed Yuu with a tender, joyful expression as he said, “Lead the way, Yuu-chan.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The next few days went passed by rather uneventfully. Things went back to normal, though Yuu secretly felt a little more relaxed around Mika. They didn’t need to talk about what happened, but there was a deeper understanding between them now, and that alone had Yuu’s chest feeling warm and fluttery more often than not.

It was only a matter of time before something odd happened at the Academy. Yuu found out they didn’t have afternoon classes for the next two days due to some exposition for the cultural clubs. Students from other schools would come representing their very own clubs and mingle with Ouran students to discuss collaborations and possibly get ideas for their own events. It was an annual occasion, apparently.

Yuu was in one of the grand meeting rooms with Lacus, Rene, and Shinoa. They were all representing the Host Club, though Yuu was the only one looking out for anyone who wanted to talk. Meanwhile, behind Yuu, Lacus and Rene harassed Shinoa because she had never tried instant coffee before.

“It’s the preferred drink amongst the whole Host Club right now,” Rene told her. “If you call yourself our manager, then you have to drink it.”

“I-I’ve heard of instant coffee before!” Shinoa stammered, clearly flustered by her lack of knowledge about commoner’s coffee. “Ah, it’s that one item, right? You know, the stuff where you buy the beans that are already ground?”

“That’s completely different,” Rene said as he shook his head. “Instant coffee doesn’t have the slightest hint of the bean remaining. You just mix the powder with hot water, and then drink it like that. It’s an incredible product.”

“You see, it’s coffee, and yet there’s absolutely no robustness to it,” Lacus added. “Still, it’s strangely satisfying. Come to mention it, the club’s stock has run out.”

Rene turned around and placed a hand on Yuu’s shoulder. “Yuu, go buy some. You’re the only one who knows where they sell it, and it’s your job.”

Yuu sighed deeply and went for the door. “Fine. But don’t expect me to come back to this... exposition thing.”

“Have a safe trip!” Lacus cheered as Yuu stomped out of the room. As he left, two girls followed behind him, apparently leaving at the same time.

“Yuu-kun, thanks for all that you do,” one girl said with a sweet smile. Despite her kind comment, Yuu rubbed at his temple with a sigh.

“For crying out loud, they can’t even buy their own instant coffee,” Yuu complained. The girls giggled lightly, amused by the silly domesticity between Yuu and the other hosts.

“Rene-kun and Lacus-kun seem to be enjoying themselves,” the second girl commented. “It’s all thanks to you, Yuu-kun.”

“Hm…?” Yuu turned to look at them inquisitively. “What do you mean?”

“Well…” One girl tucked a strand of hair behind her ear delicately. “We’ve been in the same class as those two since middle school, but they’ve never been as friendly with the rest of the students as they are now. It’s like they never let anyone get too close. I don’t think the two of them liked school very much… I wonder if it was when they started the Host Club. They’ve started to talk to us little by little.”

“But especially since you came to the school, Yuu-kun, they started to talk to all the other students,” the other girl added with an affectionate shine in her eyes. “That’s why we are so very happy now. After all, it’s important to have fun every day, right?”

Yuu hummed to himself as he listened to their words. “I see… well, I’ll try to keep them entertained, at the very least. Even if that means going out to buy them some instant coffee.”

The girls giggled. “Good luck, Yuu-kun!”

Yuu waved to them as he made his way out the school for now. It wasn’t a very long journey to the convenience store, and on his way back he carried a large bag filled to the brim with different brands of instant coffee. Maybe if those two dorks kept trying all sorts of coffee, they’d find their favorite kind. Yuu was secretly amused by how enraptured they were by instant coffee, even if it was astonishing to him to see how rich they had been their entire lives.

On his walk back, Yuu looked up at the sky and the trees in the gardens. The leaves were all bright green, signaling the fruitfulness of summer. Every bush and plant was blooming and lush with life, and butterflies danced around the plants in search for nectar.

Yuu breathed a contented sigh, and as he closed his eyes, his foot caught on a small crack. Yuu stumbled, about to trip and crash onto the ground, but suddenly a pair of strong arms stopped his fall.

Yuu stumbled and finally got his footing back while flushing with embarrassment. How humiliating, to run into someone like that! “A-Ah, sorry, I didn’t see… you…”

He trailed off, incredibly confused as he came face-to-face with a tall, burly student wearing a uniform he had never seen before. The tall red-headed man smiled charmingly down at Yuu, and he reached out to tilt Yuu’s chin up so their eyes were aligned.

Uh… just what is he doing?

“It would be a shame if any harm came to that cute face of yours,” the man smoothly said, gently trailing his thumb across Yuu’s bottom lip.

Yuu sputtered as his face burned red, and he leaned out of the man’s hold instantly. “A-Ah, are- are you lost or something?”

“I was just taking a walk after the exposition and I bumped into you,” the man responded gracefully. “Allow me to introduce myself… my name is Crowley Eusford, a second year at Sanguinem Academy. Might you know where is school’s Host Club is located?”

“Uh… sure,” Yuu said with an abrupt nod, his head still spinning from Crowley’s unexpected flirtatious gesture. “I can take you there. Just follow me and… uh- whoa.” Yuu’s eyes widened as Crowley took his bag out of his arms, then carried it with one hand as he snaked his other arm around Yuu’s waist. He tugged Yuu close to him and began walking as if they were dating or something.

“Ouran Academy is just so beautiful!” Crowley began gushing about the architecture and gardens of the Academy before Yuu could protest about how close they were. In the end, Yuu just dealt with it. He didn’t want to give the Host Club a bad impression or anything…

… seriously, why insanely attractive and obnoxious guys were constantly drawn to Yuu, he had no clue.

Chapter Text

“And… here we are.” Yuu paused once they were inside Music Room #3, where everyone besides Lacus, Rene and Shinoa were gathered, entertaining a handful of guests.

“Oh, perfect!” Crowley sighed, and just as Yuu stepped aside, Crowley suddenly knelt down onto one knee and took Yuu’s hand in his own. Yuu’s eyes widened with shock as Crowley brought his knuckles to his lips, as if Yuu was a rich duchess and he was paying his respects. He froze up, face warming as he stammered with confusion. What the hell was this guy doing all of a sudden!?

“Thank you for your help, my dear,” Crowley murmured, then planted a kiss right to his hand. Yuu flushed even redder with embarrassment, and mortified, he looked out helplessly to everyone else in the room. A few girls gasped and squealed at the romantic sight, but Mika looked about ready to deck Crowley in the face.

“Hold it!” Mika snapped defensively as he charged up to the pair. Crowley stood up, still holding Yuu’s hand in his own. He even stroked his thumb over Yuu’s knuckles, as if to comfort him, and Yuu tensed up. Shyly, Yuu pulled his hand away and instead, reached for his bag of coffee, which Crowley handed over to him. Meanwhile, Mika fumed at their contact and glared up at Crowley. “Don’t go touching Yuu-chan without asking first! Who even are you!?”

“Oh, is that a way to greet your guest?” Crowley replied easily, an amused smile on his face. Their blue gazes clashed, and Mika narrowed his eyes challengingly. Unfazed by his protective display, Crowley elegantly introduced himself. “My name is Crowley Eusford, the president of the Sanguinem Academy Host Club.”

“A-Another Host Club?” Yuu stammered out loud. He immediately shrank away with amazement. Did every school around here have a Host Club? Were Host Clubs common amongst rich people schools…!?

“I came here for the exposition, but I found myself intrigued by the stunning architecture and beauty of this campus,” Crowley went on, looking dreamily out the window for a brief moment. His attention was brought back to Yuu, who froze up when he realized he was being stared at again. “And then I stumbled upon this adorable little student here, who so kindly lead me to your notorious Host Club.”

“Are we notorious?” Yoichi asked off to the side.

“Maybe,” Gekkoin muttered with a shrug.

“He’s one of our hosts,” Mika bit out sharply, fixing Crowley with a defensive glare. “Naturally, as a host, he’s trained to be kind to anyone and everyone. Even students he doesn’t know.”

“Oh?” Crowley raised his eyebrows with intrigue, ignoring Mika’s subtle jab in favor of admiring Yuu. “He’s a host already? Well, that’s just splendid!” Yuu had just returned from setting down the bag of instant coffee onto a nearby table. When he stood a distance from Crowley, the Sanguinem student approached him, as if he had to be hovering right beside Yuu to speak with him.

Then, Crowley reached out to trail his fingers along Yuu’s cheek, which warmed under his touch. He shied away from Crowley’s intimidatingly attractive face, eyes squinting as if he’d be blinded by his radiance. He had enough to deal with at Ouran; the last thing he needed were hosts from another school hovering in his space as well.

Splendid? What’s that supposed to mean…? Yuu frowned stubbornly.

“I have a favor to ask of you, but before that, I want you to know that you are more than welcome to join our Host Club at Sanguinem,” Crowley offered, causing Yuu’s eyes to widen. “You would be the perfect addition.”

With Yuu’s intelligence, he could easily pass their entrance exams, and Sanguinem was known to be a brilliant school… but Ouran was the one Yuu wanted to be at for the sake of his future, no matter how gaudy and ridiculous it was. Yuu glanced over to Mika, who looked crestfallen, as if he really thought Yuu would up and leave so easily.

Yuu offered him a tiny smile, then reached up to move Crowley’s hand away from his face. A few girls had clustered about, watching on with watery eyes and bated breath as they waited to see what Yuu would do when asked to leave the club he had gotten so used to being part of.

“I’m sorry,” Yuu said as he stepped back to put distance between himself and Crowley. “There are all sorts of people in the world, but none can compare to the friends I’ve made here. Plus, I’m studying at this school because I have a specific goal for my future, so I never intended to quit Ouran to begin with.”

Mika sighed with relief, and Yuu glanced at him sympathetically before looking back at Crowley. The other school’s Host Club leader blinked down at him with mild shock, though it was quickly followed by understanding. “I see you are dedicated to this group and this school, Yuu. That’s quite alright… but may I still ask you about the favor?”

“Hm? Oh, sure,” Yuu said with a curt nod. He didn’t mind helping people out if need be. “What is it?”

Crowley smiled graciously and stood upright to explain himself. “Our Host Club does a range of activities, including putting on regular performances of songs and plays that we research every day. In just three days from now is our biggest event, which is an annual play that we put on to celebrate the birthday of the founder of Sanguinem.”

“Ah…” Yuu nodded with understanding. Perhaps they wanted Yuu to spread the word here at Ouran, or even attend their event. He wasn’t really into going to the theater, but he would do it if he had to, or suggest that someone else in the club who was more interested went in his place.

“We have been rehearsing very hard for a long time for this day…” Crowley said, but then his expression became troubled. Yuu listened closely, his head tilted to the side. Crowley’s eyes were downcast and dark with stress. “But of all things, the student playing one of the most important roles was in an accident and is in the hospital. Yet despite this, we can’t allow our performance to be cancelled or delayed, for whatever reason. A birthday cannot be moved. And so…” Crowley suddenly grasped Yuu’s hands, and everyone watching their interaction held their breaths.

“I would like you to play the role of this character, Yuu.” Crowley fixed him with a serious, impassioned stare, and Yuu nearly shrank back with shock. “Fortunately, despite being important, this character only has a few scenes. In most scenes, this character is just there to be a symbol rather than to take on an active role. All you’d have to do is stand there, pretty as a picture. You’d have very few lines, and with your intelligence, you could learn them right away.”

Yuu hesitated as he glanced at the others, silently begging for help, for he had no idea what to do. The other hosts just stared at them, also too shocked to respond or interject, and Yuu’s mind spun. He might as well ask the first question that was on his mind. Hesitantly, Yuu looked at Crowley and meekly said, “M-Might I ask… why me, and why not someone from your school?”

Crowley’s grip on Yuu’s hands tightened, as if he was determined to keep Yuu from slipping away. “You are perfect for the role. Only you could pull it off. Trust me… a natural host like you is something our club lacks, and we need someone like you for this role more than ever.”

Good god. Yuu couldn’t turn him down, not when he was looking into Yuu’s eyes so desperately as if he was on the verge of tears. The girls all watched on with similar, eager expressions, waiting with bated breath to hear Yuu’s answer. Yuu wasn’t a jerk- he wasn’t going to turn him down, not after Crowley was practically on his knees, begging for Yuu’s service.

It wouldn’t be so bad, Yuu determined. If he just had to stand on stage and recite a couple lines for one performance, he could manage.

Finally, Yuu gave in.

“Alright,” Yuu said, meeting Crowley’s eyes. “I’ll do it.”

This came as a huge shock to the other hosts, who gaped and stared, speechless as their guests gushed and applauded Yuu for his kindhearted answer and willingness to help another host in need. Crowley smiled widely at Yuu, thrilled by his answer, and he graciously shook Yuu’s hand before letting go.

“Fantastic! You can stay at our school for the next three days, in one of our dorms, and you may leave as soon as the show is over if you wish,” Crowley went on smoothly, as if he had already arranged everything prior to knowing Yuu’s decision. That actually might be the case, Yuu realized, and he grinned awkwardly at Crowley as the older student went on. “Do come to Sanguinem with me tomorrow after your classes so we can rehearse. Then it will be the weekend, so I assume there will be no clashes with your schedule…”

Crowley exhaustively went over their plan, and then before he knew it, the next day approached and Yuu was whisked away to Sanguinem with the student he had only just met.

He really wondered why he was chosen- seriously, nothing about his appearance indicated that he was a good performer, he was sure of that much- but it was too late to think about it now. After an hour long car journey, Yuu’s jaw dropped as they pulled up to what looked like the biggest cathedral Yuu had ever laid his eyes on.

Sanguinem Academy shone white in the sunlight, though its windows seemed to shimmer with an array of iridescent pale colors. The building almost appeared like it was made of opal stones, glimmering various colors under the sun, and Yuu was immediately overwhelmed by its architectural beauty.

While Ouran was all pinks and purples, Sanguinem was white and colorful, sparkling unlike Yuu had ever seen. With two gigantic towers bordering a stained-glass rose window, the building really looked like a massive, white version of Westminster Abbey, and it seemed far too expensive and way more elaborate than necessary for a school. Yet, as Yuu had learned from Ouran Academy, these students expected this level of luxury everywhere they went, and they didn’t blink twice at such rich ornamentation. It was part of their everyday lives- something that Yuu was sure he would never get used to.

After Yuu dropped off his stuff at his assigned dorm (which was bigger and way more lavish than his entire house), he was lead to a special room where everyone participating in the play was rehearsing.

“Thank you so much for joining us, Yuu-kun!” one student bowed his head to Yuu and handed him the script. “You lines are highlighted. There aren’t many, but do not hesitate to ask for help if you need it.”

“Thank you…” Yuu nodded and looked down at the script. He skimmed over the summary of the story and learned that it was a tragedy. In order to take revenge on his father, Frederick, a nobleman, came up with a scheme to shoot his father’s young lover, Marianne, right in front of him. But in the end, he fell in love with Marianne himself, and they had an affair. At the climax of the play, Frederick dropped the gun right when the crucial moment came, and his father snatched it before Frederick could change his mind. Apparently, Frederick was armed with a pistol that he thought had only blanks, but was actually loaded with live rounds… and so when the father shot at his own son, Frederick earned a fatal wound and, after professing his love to Marianne one last time, died in her arms.

He began flipping the pages until he saw a highlighted section. Perfect, he found the part he was playing. His name was Marianne, and he-

… Yuu narrowed his eyes. Marianne? That was a girl’s name and seemingly the heroine of the play. Yuu tilted his head, then looked up at the student who had given him the script.

“Ah, is this some mistake?” Yuu asked with an apologetic smile. “I have the script for Marianne’s part…”

Everyone stared at him silently, then turned their attention to Crowley with varying expressions of shock and confusion. “Crowley-san, you mean to tell us that he doesn’t know?”

Yuu went rigid.

Oh, god, what had he really gotten himself into? Yuu looked around between the faces in the room, and just as he was beginning to suspect that it wasn’t a mistake, he noticed that no one moved to give him a different script.

Save me, mother… Yuu thought to himself with a sinking feeling of defeat.

“Yuu, you’re playing the part of the heorine, Marianne,” Crowley said with a deceivingly charming smile. Yuu already wanted to melt into the floor from embarrassment. As if this was no big deal, Crowley waved his hand around in the air with a bashful laugh. “I could not find anyone, man or woman, nearly as beautiful as you for the part. You are the perfect replacement!”

Yuu lowered his head with a heavy sigh, for he knew there was no reasonable way out of this. He would just have to swallow his pride and bear it. He couldn’t leave these people without a suitable person for the role, considering how close it was to the performance, and taking back his word would just be cruel- no matter how much information was miscommunicated. It was perfectly possible that Yuu misheard something before. He really didn’t know, but he wasn’t going to be selfish about it now.

It was only one performance. He could do this.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After a the second day of rehearsal was near its end, Yuu began wondering if he really could do this.

“Ah, Marianne, how many thousands of nights have I prayed that I might see you?” Crowley paused to look to the ground, sapphire-blue eyes shimmering with faux tears of longing. “How greatly I despised being told that we were from different social classes, and the thousands of other obstacles in the way of our love!”

“Frederick-sama…” Yuu responded, trying to sound timid like a maiden, though he couldn’t help but to blush from embarrassment. Who the hell actually talked like this? He interacted with girls on the daily, but even they weren’t so… bland and repetitive. Clearly, the character Marianne was written by a man who knew nothing of women, and how they are just as complex as anyone else.

While Yuu mentally critiqued the representation in the play, Crowley clutched dramatically at his chest while staggering to his knees. He continued to recite his lines with overwhelming emotion. “Sure enough, the gunshot wound I just suffered has it in for me… is this where my fate ends?”

Yuu came to kneel beside him, for he was instructed to do so, and he grasped Crowley’s hands in his own. Again, Yuu whispered Frederick’s name, this time shakily, as if he were about to cry. “Frederick-sama…”

Crowley exhaled shakily and leaned forward to press their foreheads together. Yuu swallowed slowly, intimidated by how close they were, but he stayed put. It was part of the script, after all, and there was no reason for him to get embarrassed.

“Marianne, when you are close to me like this, I feel no pain at all…” Crowley admitted, his breath warm against Yuu’s lips. Yuu resisted the temptation to move away, for his heart was beating a little too fast for his comfort. Unbeknownst of Yuu’s internal gay thoughts and struggles, he went on. “I feel so very peaceful right now… you are an angel. You are like the figure of my mother… your warm gaze envelops me… it’s enough to make me forget even the pain of my wound, and yet, and yet… my love for you, and my vengeance toward him are things that can never be blotted up...”

Yuu gazed at Crowley, as though with concern, but after getting over his initial embarrassment at being so close to someone as attractive as Crowley, all he could think was the ridiculous nature of the scene. This Frederick guy was sure talking a lot for someone who was shot and was dying. Yuu dryly thought to himself that he was really hanging on, despite the fact that he was apparently bleeding to death. Yuu wondered if there was any way, in this universe, to get him to a hospital in the time that he was talking his head off.

Then, to express his pain, Yuu stood up and began lip syncing the pre-recorded song that the original actress sang. It was painfully embarrassing, but at least he didn’t have to actually sing. It could be worse, he reminded himself as he dutifully recited the lyrics. After the song came to a close, he knelt down by Crowley one last time. After a short exchange, Crowley slumped over and “died,” signaling the end of the play.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

When the day of the performance came, Yuu had apparently missed a very, very important part of the script- and it was way too late for him to back down now.

It was painful enough to put on a dress, to attach hair extensions and allow a bunch of Sanguinem Academy girls to cover his face in makeup, but they revealed something to him that he hadn’t expected to hear.

As a cherry red lipstick was applied to his lips in a thick, shiny layer, one of the girls wondered out loud if it would smear during the kiss scene.

Yuu tensed up upon hearing this. He wasn’t told about a kiss scene! Wondering what they were going on about, Yuu decided to ask. “K… Kiss scene?”

The girl paused, holding the lipstick near his face with an expression of wide-eyed surprise. “Oh? Yuu-kun, were you not aware? In the final scene, right before he dies, Frederick kisses Marianne!”

Yuu’s blood ran cold. He thought immediately of Crowley’s charming smile and his touchy nature, and then it all made sense as to why Yuu was chosen so specifically for this role… despite not going to Sanguinem, not being a girl, and also not being in any way involved with theater. Could it be that Crowley was actually interested in Yuu romantically… and that was the reason Yuu was picked!? Yuu was baffled by that thought, for why would someone as stunning as Crowley be interested in him, but it had to be the reason he was picked over anyone else.

And regardless of how charming Crowley might be, Yuu didn’t feel the same way, nor appreciate the secretive methods he used to try and steal his first kiss.

Feeling dread settle in his stomach, Yuu sighed loudly and slumped over with defeat. He wasn’t sure how the hell he had gotten so wrapped up in this role, yet there he was, gripping the folds of his lime-green dress between tense fingers. He felt ridiculous, dressing up as a girl for the second time in his career as a host, and he wondered why the hell he was always the one picked for stuff like this.

Mother… is the world truly against me?

He continued to wonder if he was cursed during the preparation and last-minute touch-ups. The girls surrounded him, painting eyeliner about his eyes and making sure his lashes were coated in mascara. It made blinking feel heavy and sticky, and Yuu was trying his best to resist the urge to wipe it all off.

He wondered why he was Marianne, of all people, all the way up until he was on the stage, standing and acting pretty as he was told to do. How the hell he ended up there in a dress was beyond him, but the girls who knew of his origin as an Ouran Host squealed and cooed in the front rows. He tried not to look at them too much, feeling his heart flutter from embarrassment as he posed and flaunted his feminine side before the auditorium.

And to Yuu’s horror, amongst the sea of faces seated in front of him… was none other than the Host Club themselves.

Thankfully, Yuu’s only lines were basically Frederick’s name and the song he had to lip-sync, but he nearly forgot when to say ‘Frederick-sama!’ with those idiots staring so intently at him. It was especially embarrassing for Yuu when he met Mika’s eyes, so intense and so cerulean than his skin burned hotly under his makeup. Yuu gulped and tore his eyes away, flushing as he privately wished that Mika liked what he saw- no matter how silly Yuu felt he looked.

Does he really have to stare at me like that? Yuu wondered sheepishly as he stood on stage, and he was tempted to cover his exposed shoulders with his arms. He continued to glance between the audience and Crowley, and secretly, he wondered how on earth the kiss scene was going to go down. He didn’t want to give up his first kiss up on stage, not in drag, and definitely not to Crowley. That sort of thing was supposed to be special, to be shared with someone he actually had feelings for. Just as this thought crossed his mind, he glanced to Mika, but the other was clearly unaware of the thought that just flitted through Yuu’s mind.

Now’s not the time to be thinking about that, Yuu reminded himself harshly, his hands shaking slightly from where they were clasped behind his back. Why did thoughts about Mika and his potentially developing feelings for the princely host have to show up in the most inconvenient of times?

Instead of dwelling on Mika, Yuu mentally filed through all the ways he could avoid kissing Crowley. He could pretend to suddenly faint, or maybe he could just… actually break his leg by jumping off the stage. That seemed like a more redeemable outcome than being kissed by Crowley- no matter how attractive and suave the man was, the thought of actually being kissed by him made his skin crawl.

The only one he wanted to be intimately held by was- Yuu halted his thoughts and gulped, his eyes involuntarily finding Mika in the crowd again. He couldn’t believe he had such a thought standing up on stage, where everyone could see him and was supposed to be watching him.

Flustered by his embarrassing thoughts, Yuu recited his lines as he wondered why Mika and the other Hosts were even there in the first place. Perhaps their attendance was a polite gesture to support Sanguinem’s Host Club, but Yuu had a feeling that they were only there to see Yuu’s lackluster performance. He really wished they’d just wait for him outside or something instead.

Somehow, the play went by in a whirl, and before Yuu knew what was going on, he was lip-syncing his song and the end of the production was rapidly approaching. His heart thundered louder and louder in his chest, for he was hyper-aware of Crowley’s presence so near to him. He wondered why Crowley would have kept their upcoming kiss a secret- it seemed so dishonest and sneaky compared to everything else- but then again, Crowley may have been this shady from the get-go. He didn’t tell Yuu he was playing a girl until it was far too late, after all.

Yuu still tried to think of an escape path, and occasionally he sent pleading glances to Mika, hoping that they would get the message and do something. But unfortunately, the song ended and the Ouran Host Club stayed in their seats, unaware of Yuu’s silent cries for help, and completely unknowing of what was to come.

Surely, if they knew a kiss scene was coming up, they would intervene…!

The song ended, and so Yuu gingerly knelt down beside Crowley, looking into his bright blue eyes hesitantly. They were a beautiful shade of blue, but they weren’t Mika’s eyes… and knowing this caused Yuu to be tempted to recoil.

He wanted his first kiss to be with… Mika. Not Crowley. The realization hit Yuu suddenly and he froze, not knowing what to do with himself. He wasn’t sure when he would finally accept the fact that he had a massive crush on Mika, despite his dorky attitude and obnoxiously beautiful appearance… but he didn’t think it’d be on a stage where his first kiss was about to be taken by Crowley.

“Marianne, before I go…” Crowley passionately whispered, and he reached up to cup Yuu’s cheek in his hand. Yuu tensed up, eyes wide as Crowley’s gaze glimmered with passion and excitement. Yuu was unable to move, and he had no idea what he was going to do now. It was too late. Crowley inched closer as he whispered, “I must… show you the extent of my love…!”

And then, it happened. Yuu was tugged down, and his lips parted with a gasp. The black extensions of his hair fell down, shielding their faces from the audience, and so Yuu turned his face just slightly at the last possible second.

Crowley’s lips were warm against his skin, just barely brushing the corner of his mouth, but Crowley ended up kissing the spot below Yuu’s cheek instead. As they parted, Yuu breathed a sigh of relief, for he had managed to avoid it at the last possible second. His heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest, but relief washed over him from head to toe.

He thought he saw Mika standing in his peripheral, and sure enough, he could hear the scolding whispers of audience members telling him to sit. Yuu’s heartbeat thundered in his ears, and he wished he could tell Mika that nothing had actually happened, but of course Mika had no way of really knowing in that moment.

Crowley went slack in his arms, and the lights blackened to signal the end of the play. Yuu felt like a heavy weight was lifted off of his shoulders, for the unexpectedly daunting task of filling this role was finally over. He smiled as he got to his feet, and Crowley followed, though he looked a bit disappointed before putting on a fake, flashy smile for the audience.

Yuu fixed him with a curious expression before facing the crowds as well. He had no clue why Crowley was suddenly after him, but at least it was over, and there was no way they’d get close to kissing in any other scenario.

After Yuu changed out of his costume, he exited the backstage area and practically ran right into Mika, who was standing as close to the changing rooms as the Sanguinem students allowed him to get.

“M-Mika?” Yuu stammered as he looked at the other Host, whose eyes were a stormy, dark blue. His lips were tight and his eyebrows tensed, and Yuu immediately knew why he looked so stiff and upset. He flushed red and looked down at his feet, then reached up to scratch the back of his head. He had to explain what really happened.

“Ah, uh, you see…” Yuu struggled to find the words, for his heart was pounding with embarrassment. He realized he owed Mika no explanation, for they weren’t dating or anything… but for some reason Yuu was compelled to tell Mika the truth, and he really wanted his possible crush to know that his first kiss wasn’t stolen by another man. He swallowed and continued awkwardly. “We… we didn’t kiss.”

Mika’s shock and relief was immediately evident. His eyes rounded and his shoulders dropped, as if finding out this fact cleared a stormcloud previously hovering over his head. “You didn’t?”

“No,” Yuu confirmed with a shake of his head. “I, uh, I didn’t know about that scene until it was too late. It wasn’t rehearsed. So I just turned my face away and, well, yeah… he kissed me right here,” Yuu pointed to the spot just beside his lips, “but nowhere else…-” Yuu’s eyes widened as Mika reached up, then touched his fingertips to the spot where Crowley had kissed him. The skin tingled and Yuu blushed, frozen in place as Mika’s fingers touched the skin there and hovered so closely to his lips.

“Forget how it felt,” Mika murmured, his tone oddly strained. “It doesn’t mean anything to you… does it?”

Yuu felt his entire face burn hot. He had no time to think about why Mika was acting this way when no one else was around, when there were no girls to please and no one to impress. It was just the two of them. Yuu’s pulse sped up rapidly as he rushed to clear up any misunderstandings regarding his feelings, or lack thereof, for Crowley. “N-No, of course not! I don’t even know him! It was weird, to be honest…”

Mika dropped his hand after hearing that, a gentle smile on his lips. Yuu bit back the disappointment of Mika lowering his hand, for he was unintentionally anticipating something more to happen. With a warm voice, Mika said, “Good. You looked beautiful up there by the way, Yuu-chan. Your lips are still a little red.”

Yuu immediately reached up to rub at his mouth. He was certain his face was even redder than the lipstick he wore just moments prior, and he looked anywhere but Mika as he practically melted on the spot. “S-Shut up. I looked ridiculous and everyone knows it.”

Mika laughed lightly, his eyes twinkling as he shook his head. “Not at all! You-”

“You were stunning.” The sentence was finished by another voice, and Yuu startled thanks to Crowley’s sudden presence. He had appeared from right behind Yuu, emerging from the changing rooms, and Yuu staggered aside to put distance between them immediately. Crowley looked at him with a wide grin, his royal blue eyes scanning Yuu up and down. “I do miss seeing you in that gown. You really pulled it off well.”

“I think Yuu-chan is perfect the way he is right now,” Mika challenged, an unfriendly grin on his face as he glared at Crowley. “Adorned in his pale blue Ouran Academy uniform, he couldn’t be any cuter than he is right now.” Yuu would have flustered over such a statement or perhaps smacked Mika up the head for it, but in the moment he was too shocked to even react, his wide eyes flickering between the two guys nervously.

“Oh? I’m glad you came to support the performance, Mikaela-kun,” Crowley responded, as if he hadn’t even seen Mika standing right there before. “What did you think? We tried incredibly hard to make this production as perfect as possible. Thank you for lending out your precious host to us.”

He speaks like I’m some sort of commodity, Yuu thought begrudgingly as he looked at Crowley. Mika’s eyebrow twitched, for he likely had a similar thought. To Yuu’s surprise, Mika put his arm around Yuu’s shoulders and pulled him close, causing Yuu’s heart to thump suddenly from the contact.

“Yes, and we’ll be going now,” Mika said, his voice strained with forced friendliness. “Thank you for coming to our Host Club for help. We sure hope no accidents harm your actors and actresses in the future.”

Crowley looked coldly at Mika. “Yes, the timing was unfortunate… I do not think we will be needing your help again, but if you need us for anything…” his attention shifted to Yuu, and his eyes were immediately warm and affectionate, “...we are more than happy to lend a helping hand.”

Yuu nodded weakly. God, this situation was so suffocatingly awkward, and Yuu wanted to get out of it immediately. He looked to Crowley with an uncomfortable grimace and said, “W-We’ll keep it in mind, thanks! Bye!”

Then, without waiting another moment, he dragged Mika along and marched out of the Academy, outside to where the other hosts were waiting.

For the first time in a long time, Yuu was relieved to see them. All he wanted was to get back to Ouran and out of Sanguinem- hell, if he could avoid ever coming back, he would. It wasn’t a painful experience, per say, but he didn’t want to go through it again.

“You’ve been saved!” Lacus cried out dramatically as the hosts swarmed around Yuu. “Well? How was it? Did he taste nasty? Was there any tongue?”

“Ew,” Yuu scrunched up his nose at the implication of kissing Crowley like that. “No. We didn’t even kiss.”

“You didn’t?” Yoichi asked, eyes round as he looked between the faces of the hosts. Kimizuki, who was unnaturally stiff before, suddenly exhaled and ran an agitated hand through his hair. His odd reaction went unnoticed by Yuu, who was too busy laughing nervously as he walked to where his temporary dorm was.

“No, luckily I avoided it,” Yuu repeated. “I’ve gotta get my bag, so wait for me here!”

Yuu wanted nothing more than to be alone for a few minutes. He was at the dorm in a matter of minutes, and inside the empty room he clicked his suitcase shut and briefly lost himself in thought. His heart was still pounding from the exhilaration of the performance, but more importantly than that… the realization that he might actually like Mika more than a friend.

His cheeks blazed hotly as he let this fact sink in. His stomach twisted and fluttered, and Yuu paused to kneel down, his forehead pressed against the edge of the bed.

Do I even have a chance…? Yuu thought almost immediately, for his first instinct upon catching feelings was to stomp him down. Relationships between two guys almost never worked, at least in Yuu’s experience from watching the news and reading tragic historical tales… not to mention, Mika was Mika. He was the most desired guy in the school, the best-looking host, the king of the club, the one that…

...simply couldn’t be gay. He likely had a huge, bright future ahead of him- and so did Yuu, but his father was, well… already a unique individual, and so Yuu had no issue with acceptance. He just intended to keep it to himself if he could… but if he dated Mika, his sexuality would be everyone’s business.

Yuu shook his head and got to his feet. What was he thinking, contemplating such serious things when he only just accepted the fact that he was crushing on Mika? It was ridiculous. Nothing was going to come out of these one-sided emotions, and Yuu was adamant on keeping them locked away until they faded.

He couldn’t ruin Mika’s reputation, and he definitely couldn’t face rejection if he decided to confess to Mika. Not that it would ever happen.

With a firm resolve about his newfound emotions, Yuu grabbed his bag and marched out of the dorm. He met up with the others and was crammed into a limousine to take them back to Ouran, but of course he had to be sitting right next to Mika. He was all too aware of their sides brushing and how often Mika’s hand barely touched his own.

Yuu tried not to focus on it.

It’s all in your head, he told himself. Mika is way out of your league. Just give up before you get your hopes up.

Yuu decided this much and kept his eyes firmly ahead and away from Mika. He moved his hand aside, making sure that they wouldn’t touch again, even accidentally. He couldn’t handle the excitement of a hint of something that was clearly never going to happen.

Meanwhile, Mika opted to put his hands in his lap, his heart slowly sinking from the silent rejection.

Chapter Text

The weeks of spring flew by until Ouran Academy was cast in the hot rays of the summer sun. Every day was busy for Yuu, working hard with the other Hosts while managing his schoolwork and helping out his dad at home. Now that it was summer break, he was free of Club duties and able to focus on his summer homework and keeping both himself and his father properly fed.

His dad wasn’t a bad cook, but he had his hands full a lot. He worked really hard and made money for the both of them all the time, and so Yuu felt like the least he could do was make meals and keep the house clean. Even though that included Yuu chewing him out for leaving some things messy.

Yuu trudged down the street of his neighborhood with a contented sigh. His forehead was a little sticky with sweat, and the hot air of August made the road before him look a tad hazy. He didn’t mind since he was almost home, where he could sit in front of his fan and cool off. Bags of groceries were bunched along his arms, and he was happy since he got all the advertised specials that Sunday morning. The supermarket really was the best place to be at that time.

Yuu mentally ran through his list of things to do that day. Once he stored the groceries, he would have to wipe down the counters and tidy up, then fold that load of laundry…

… but as he approached his apartment complex, he stopped in his tracks at the sight of a ridiculously luxurious limousine parked right outside. He furrowed his brows, wondering what on earth was going on. Was there some sort of movie being filmed? A few pedestrians were standing around, peering at the car curiously and wondering the same things that Yuu was.

And then, the door opened. The ones who stepped out were none other than the guys of the Ouran Host Club.

Yuu turned around and debated slamming his head against the nearest hard surface. His face already began burning with embarrassment.

“Wow, so this is Yuu’s house, huh?” Lacus remarked as he peered up at the apartment building. “It’s pretty big, isn’t it? Bigger than I thought.”

“It has lots of rooms!” Yoichi said enthusiastically.

“No, this is just an apartment complex, you morons,” Kimizuki responded sharply. “His place is only one of these doors. Not all of them.”

“Remind me why you all followed me here?” Mika hissed lowly, glaring at the others beside him.

“It was obvious that you didn’t have the courage to come here alone, so obviously it’s better that we all came en masse,” Rene responded dryly. With a gentler tone, he added, “We all miss him too, you know.”

“Okay, okay, but…” Mika waved his hands around nervously. “Remember, this is just a, ‘we happened to be passing by’ sort of nonchalant visit and definitely not because-”

“Too late,” Yuu cut in as he walked over, eyebrow twitching with irritation. “Go away. You’re causing a scene.”

Flinching, Mika turned around along with the other hosts. They seemed to be completely unaware how out of place they looked, wearing designer clothes and standing near that ridiculously expensive car. Yuu’s cheeks burned with embarrassment as he stood there, wearing a casual v-neck black shirt and snugly-fitted jeans with some scuffs in the knees. Besides the few bracelets on his wrist to accessorize, he looked completely average in front of them.

Meanwhile, the other hosts all looked like they pulled their clothes straight from a magazine. Mika especially looked alluring, for he wore a tight-fitted shirt that showed off the definition of his torso with a sleeveless hoodie zipped up halfway. His white jeans were flawless, hugging his thighs and calves perfectly, and black leather boots were the final, fitting touch to his sharp and appealing look.

Yuu’s face flushed as he realized he was likely staring, and he forced himself to look away before he got too wrapped up in his appearance. Remember, Yuu, there’s no chance, no way he will want you. Stop getting yourself all worked up!

Little did he know that Mika was staring at Yuu as well, cheeks reddening as he admired how adorable Yuu looked in his casual, plain and simple clothing. Though, before he could say anything, an older woman approached Yuu and tapped him on the shoulder. It was the landlady of the apartment complex.

“Excuse me, Yuu-kun, is everything alright?” She asked hesitantly. “Driving up in foreign cars like this…” She lowered her voice and went on, “Are these people the Yakuza or something?”

“No, um…” Yuu started to say, but then Mika approached her and gently took her hand in his own. She looked up with surprise as Mika charmingly smiled down to her.

“Please to meet you, madam,” Mika said with a dashing grin. “My name is Mikaela, and I’m one of Yuu-chan’s friends.”

“Oh, my, my, my…!” The lady stammered with quickly reddening cheeks. “What am I to do?”

Mika’s smile melted away into a wistful, apologetic, misty-eyed gaze. “I’m terribly sorry for suddenly stopping by like this and causing a stir…”

“Oh, not at all!” The landlady waved her hand around dismissively and turned to Yuu excitedly. “Yuu-kun, I’ll come drop off some snacks later, okay?” Before Yuu could respond, she turned back to Mika and said, “Please, make yourself at home!”

As she rushed off, Yuu watched with irritation while Mika straightened up and ran a hand through his elegant hair. Now that the landlady had invited them in, Yuu really had no choice but to let them come inside and explain why they were there.

“Fine, fine, come on up…” Yuu grumbled reluctantly as he headed up the stairs. The hosts all excitedly followed him, and as they approached the door, Yuu glared over his shoulder at them. “But I’m warning you right now, you just get a little look. Like, three seconds! And then you need to go so I can do my housework!”

“Aw, but Yuu-kun, I brought a gift!” Yoichi interrupted with a sweet smile. He extended a neatly wrapped box to Yuu. “It’s cake! There's both strawberry and chocolate, and some others, too!”

At the sight of the luxurious-looking box of sweets, Yuu felt his resolve weaken. Especially when Yoichi was smiling up at him so kindly, with sparkling eyes and rosy cheeks… Yuu’s own face reddened with embarrassment as he caved in to the cute boy before him.

“Well… I-I guess we can have tea and cake first,” Yuu muttered as he turned around to unlock the door.

After the door swung open, he stepped inside and removed his shoes, to the fascination of the others. Yoichi remarked, “We have to take them off? It’s like a dojo!”

“Pardon the intrusion!” Mika called out as he stepped inside.

“Excuse us,” murmured Gekkoin as he ducked under the low door frame.

“I’ll go make tea,” Yuu said, but before he could go into the kitchen, Lacus stopped him and handed him something.

“I have this black tea that my father bought as a souvenir from Africa, so here,” he offered with a smile. “It’s best as a milk tea, if you have any.”

“Oh, thanks…!” Yuu took the bag with rounded eyes. They really came prepared to stay after all. “Yeah, we have milk.”

After he made the tea, he returned and set the cups down in front of everyone. Yoichi had the cakes displayed neatly on the table. “Yuu-kun, pick yours first!”

“Oh, really…?” Yuu’s eyes glittered and he looked down at the various baked goods. He wasn’t big on sweets before he attended Ouran, but after having so much luxurious food… how could he turn them down now? Yuu smiled a little and pointed at one delicious-looking cake. “The strawberry one, then.”

“Okay, so you, Gekkoin and I will have strawberry, and the others can have the chocolate!” Yoichi said with a bright grin. He divided the strawberry cake up into three slices, then set the plates in front of them. Yuu began munching at his cake, but he noticed another strawberry on the edge of his plate. When he looked up, he saw Gekkoin looking at Yuu expectantly.

“You like strawberries, right?” he murmured, then moved to give Yuu even more.

“Yes! Thank you,” Yuu responded brightly, his cheeks rosy with happiness. The strawberries were really crisp and juicy, and Yuu was happy to get more if Gekkoin didn’t want any. The taller man’s gaze softened as Yuu happily chewed on his fruit, and he was completely unaware of the way Mika was holding his breath, admiring the sight with a racing heart.

“So… remind me why you all appeared out of the blue?” Yuu finally asked, fixing Mika in particular with a pointed stare. “It’s summer vacation. There’s no club duties to be done, and Shinoa isn’t here so I assume this isn’t official business.”

“Not… necessarily,” Mika murmured as his face reddened further. He looked off to the side, and Kimizuki looked at Mika with narrowed eyes. He looked irritated, but it was Yoichi who spoke up instead.

“It’s because we missed you,” Yoichi admitted with a genuine smile. “We’ve all known each other for awhile, in one way or another, but we haven’t spent much time with you outside of the club. It was Mika-kun’s idea.”

“H-Hey…” Mika tried to defend himself, but his eyes locked with Yuu’s and he swallowed nervously. Even Yuu was embarrassed to hear that, and he looked shyly at Mika. After a brief moment of silence, Mika took a deep breath and went on. “It’s true. I was thinking of seeing you again, Yuu-chan… summer vacation is too long. I- erm, we couldn’t wait to see you again.”

Hearing this had Yuu’s face burning up even more. He fidgeted and looked down at his half-eaten cake, and he tried to calm down or slow the beating of his heart, but it was nearly impossible. Everyone was looking at him with a shared, tender expression, and Yuu was gonna explode if it went on much longer.

“Alright, you can stay longer…” Yuu finally said as he felt the tips of his ears burn hot.

“Yay!” Yoichi cheered, and everyone went back to eating their cake.

After their snack, everyone realized they were still hungry. Yuu didn’t offer to make anything, since he only had enough for himself and his dad… not six random, uninvited guests.

“We can pay for it,” Kimizuki said as they wondered what to do. “Why don’t you order some of your favorite sushi or something?”

“N-No, don’t worry about it,” Yuu shook his head. “Besides, if you pay for it, you’re gonna badger me to pay off my debt…”

“Not this time,” Kimizuki corrected nonchalantly. “This comes out of sales of photos of you that we auctioned off.”

“Then… isn’t this really on me?” Yuu grumbled, but after running a hand through his hair to calm down, he realized it would be silly to turn down free food. “Fine, fine. I have a friend who runs a nice sushi shop nearby, so I’ll give them a call. They have some high-quality stuff.”

“Aw, but I’d like to eat your cooking!” Yoichi protested softly.

“Well… even if I started now, it would take a long time,” Yuu admitted. “And I don’t have enough groceries for all of you.”

“Do you need to go to the supermarket again?” Lacus asked with round eyes. “Can we go with you? I’ve always wanted to see a commoner’s supermarket!”

Yuu sighed, wondering if it was a good idea after all to let them stay so long. “Fine… but I swear, if you cause a scene, I’m pretending like I don’t know you.”

“I’m so excited!” Lacus cheered as he got to his feet. “Let’s go!”

Yoichi was quick to follow him, and everyone filed to the door to put on their shoes and go. After Yuu put the dishes in the sink, he turned around and saw everyone else going outside- except for Mika. Curiously, he went back to the living room and saw Mika kneeling in the corner.

“Aren’t you coming?” Yuu asked as he peeked his head inside.

“Yeah,” Mika responded, and it was then that Yuu noticed exactly what he was doing. His hands were clasped together as he looked down at the shrine for Yuu’s mother. “I’m paying my respects to your mother first.”

Yuu glanced at the shrine and noticed the framed picture of her, where she was smiling as she stood against a bright blue sky. It was a rare expression of her’s, according to Yuu’s father. Shigure rarely smiled, but when she did, she was truly the happiest she could be. The image reflected her most joyful state.

“Thanks for going through the trouble of doing so,” Yuu said, and he watched as Mika took the picture frame in hand and looked at the image.

“Yuu-chan, you take after your mother, huh?” Mika regarded with a warm voice.

“Yeah, my dad says so, too…” Yuu murmured as his cheeks warmed slightly. It was a bit embarrassing to be talking about this alone, in all honesty, but he waited patiently for Mika as he looked at the picture.

“She was pretty,” Mika said softly. “She looks smart, too…”

“I don’t know if she was pretty or not, since I’m biased, but she was a lawyer,” Yuu said as he squatted down onto the floor behind Mika.

“Oh? I’ll bet she was a pretty capable one, too,” Mika said with a smile. He turned over his shoulder to look at Yuu, who briefly recalled his mother’s gentle aura and punctual style of dress.

“I’d say she was, too…” Yuu responded tenderly, his eyes lowered as he went back into his memories. The gentle way Shigure would pet his hair and tell him she would be home soon would be a feeling Yuu would always remember. His scalp tingled in that moment, as if she was right there and petting his head again.

“W-We better get going,” Mika stammered suddenly as he got to his feet. “We’re keeping everyone else waiting-”

But then, as soon as he stood, he slipped on the edge of the pillow… and fell down right on top of Yuu.

“Ah- I’m sorry, Yuu-chan!” Mika said as soon as he had toppled over, and Yuu winced as he tried to clear the dizziness from the impact. The fall caused him to hit his head, but as the pain ebbed away, he looked up and found himself frozen in place.

He was totally in Mika’s shadow, and their faces were… really close. Mika was looking down at him, eyes widened and cheeks reddening, and Yuu felt his own skin begin to burn hot from embarrassment. One of Mika’s knees was right between Yuu’s legs, and this fact caused Yuu’s heart to pound relentlessly. If they moved just a bit closer together, they could…

“Oi, Yuu, I’m home. Why’s the door open?”

Yuu’s blood ran cold as he looked over and saw none other than… his father, standing in the doorway.

There was an awkward moment of silence as Mika’s eyes met with Guren’s. Yuu swallowed slowly and said, “Dad…”

“I’m sorry I left you home alone last night,” Guren said, his eyes narrowing as he looked accusingly at Mika, “but it seems you might have had some company.”

“H-He just fell!” Yuu said as he sat up abruptly, shoving Mika back. “You’re getting the wrong idea, idiot Guren!”

“Am I now?” Guren accused, one neatly-trimmed eyebrow raising speculatively. He stepped inside, high heels clicking against the floor. “Well, the look on your face says otherwise.”

“Oi!” Lacus called inside the house as he peeked his head around the doorframe. “You were taking so long that we… oh, so that guy that passed us downstairs is Yuu’s father, after all.”

“Hello,” Rene said as he pushed past Lacus, hand extended. “We’re Yuu’s good friends. I’m Rene, and this is Lacus.”

“We’re part of the Ouran Host Club,” Lacus said with a flashy grin. Shortly after their introduction, Gekkoin, Yoichi and Kimizuki came back inside, and Guren tilted his head to the side. His long, silky lavender wig seemed to shine in the light, and he reached up to push a few strands behind his ear.

“Ah… I’ve heard of you guys,” Guren said as they all got a good look at him. “Well, take a seat. I’d like some tea.”

“There’s some leftover,” Yuu muttered as he got to his feet, looking awkwardly at Mika, who never got a good chance to introduce himself. Guren was giving him the cold shoulder, not even sparing a glance at him as Yuu went and got him a cup of tea.

When he returned, Guren was explaining his appearance. “Well, I work at a bar for drag queens. The name I use there is ‘Mahiru.’ You can call me that when I’m in drag.”

“Will do, Mahiru-san!” Yoichi replied cheerfully. Yuu felt a growl in his stomach, so he got up and decided he’d go to the supermarket on his own. With Guren here to entertain them, they wouldn’t have to follow him around.

“Where are you off to?” Guren asked as Yuu headed to the door.

“The supermarket,” Yuu said, eyes scanning over the hosts, “alone. Behave yourselves while I’m gone.”

“Aw, Yuu!” Lacus cried out dramatically. “I want to go to the commoner’s supermarket, too!”

“Don’t even try,” Guren said to him. “Once he’s spoken, he won’t listen to you.”

Yuu sighed and shut the door behind him as he excited the house. He just hoped Guren wouldn’t show them embarrassing baby pictures while he was gone.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

As soon as Yuu left, Guren looked away from the door and turned back to the hosts. “When he decided to go try out for Ouran, he did the enrollment paperwork all by himself. I’d like to respect his spirit of independence, but sometimes I wish he’d depend on me more…”

Everyone listened silently, including Mika, despite his awkward first impression. Guren looked at all of them and went on. “I’m grateful for you guys. He seems to be happy and enjoying himself at school now, in his own way.”

“Thank you for your hospitality,” Kimizuki said with a nod.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get more comfortable and change out of this,” Guren said as he stood up and stretched his arms. But as he made his way to his room, he noticed Mika still off to the side. As the other hosts started to chatter amongst themselves, Guren approached the lonesome prince-like host and sighed softly.

“So, you weren’t doing anything to my son just now, Mikaela?” Guren asked, eyebrow raised as he glared at the blond.

“You know me?” Mika stammered as he was suddenly regarded. “N-Not at all. I swear, it was an accident. I tripped and fell.”

“Hm…” Guren narrowed his eyes, but then sighed shortly. “Fine. I'll believe you for now. And of course I recognized you from first sight,” Guren rolled his eyes as he crossed his arms over his chest. “You’re the idiot club president that often comes up in Yuu’s stories.”

“Aha…” Mika laughed awkwardly as he looked to the side. Well, there went his plans to make a good first impression on Yuu’s only parent.

“But maybe you should go with him,” Guren suggested a moment later, much to Mika’s shock. His eyes widened as he turned back to look at Guren, as if he didn’t hear him right. Guren nodded to the door. “His mother died at a young age, and he took all of the housework upon himself. I worry about him, you know. I’m the only one who can protect him, after all… whether he doesn’t know how to rely on others, or if he just has no desire to, he doesn’t give you a chance to worry over him. And yet, he has a way of saving others without even realizing it.”

“Yeah, that’s something… I understand.” Mika responded after a moment of silence. Guren looked at his expression, seeming to notice something, and so he patted Mika’s back and pushed him lightly to the door.

“Alright, so go,” Guren encouraged. “But you’re still on thin ice. If I catch anything weird going on again, you’re banned from seeing him ever again.”

“G-Got it!” Mika acknowledged quickly. He nodded thankfully to Guren, then got his shoes on and ran out without another word.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Yuu was not that far down the street when Mika caught up to him. It surprised him to see his senpai appear so suddenly when he left everyone behind at home, but it wasn’t like he was going to send Mika back or anything. He just hoped Mika didn’t cause a scene at the supermarket for his beautiful looks or whatever other distracting qualities he had.

“What’s the matter?” Yuu asked as he looked over his shoulder. Mika came up to him with a flushed face and a sideways smile, as if he was trying to think up some excuse to explain why he appeared so randomly.

“Oh, er, um… I just suddenly wanted to carry your shopping basket, Yuu-chan!” Mika said nervously, his face flushing redder. Yuu studied his expression for a moment, but then he began to smile out of mild embarrassment… and perhaps a little happiness.

“You’re weird,” Yuu remarked, a warmth in his smile that briefly rendered Mika speechless. His eyes glittered and for a moment, Yuu wondered if Mika wanted more out of their friendship, too. He considered the possibility that Mika wasn’t just making it up for the fans, that he… actually liked Yuu in the same way he liked Mika.

Flustered, Yuu shook the thoughts from his mind as they walked inside the supermarket. “So, was there anything you wanted to eat?”

“Uh... how about a stewpot?” Mika suggested as he turned his eyes to the aisles. “With lots of meat in it, and no chrysanthemum.”

“Oh, that makes sense,” Yuu agreed. “When there are a lot of people around, a stewpot would be better. It is kinda warm for it, though…”

He failed to notice the way Mika was watching him so softly, admiring how Yuu tapped his chin with his fingertip as he picked out ingredients. He loved the way Yuu’s eyebrows scrunched and how he hummed to himself as he pondered various options. It was especially adorable when he would have to lean up on his tiptoes to reach higher shelves, or when he squatted low to look closer at the prices. During all of this, Yuu was too focused on judging the proper proportions for everyone, taking allergies and dietary preferences into account, and calculating how much everything would cost to notice Mika's longing gazes.

Though, Yuu secretly didn’t mind the extra company. It was pleasant to have someone to mindlessly talk to as he shopped, even if their conversations were nothing substantial or anything important. Mika’s presence was... comforting and somewhat welcomed (for once). Not that Yuu would admit that out loud; the mere thought had his cheeks warming with embarrassment.

He hadn’t realized how lonely his routine had been for years now, but to have someone there giving him ideas and helping him carry things was… really, really nice.

A small part of Yuu wished that they could do mundane things like this more often. It was almost like they were…

… partners.

Yuu flushed red at the domestic thought. They weren’t even dating! How could he be thinking of something so serious and so embarrassing out of nowhere? Yuu tried to keep his reddening cheeks out of Mika’s sight, but Mika blinked curiously at him as they headed to the checkout. Shit, he thought, Mika obviously noticed… “Yuu-chan? What’s wrong?”

“N-Nothing! It’s just hot outside!” Yuu brushed him off, but Mika titled his head to the side, slightly amused at Yuu’s stammered response.

“We’re indoors,” he reminded Yuu. “There’s air conditioning.”

“A-Anyways, let’s check out!” Yuu diverted the subject as his heart raced a little quicker in his chest.

Rather than pushing it, Mika smiled warmly and watched affectionately as Yuu clumsily scanned his items and put them in bags to carry home. Yuu didn’t realize it, but Mika was thinking they should do things like this more often as well.

As long as Yuu had his company, he thought anything might be just a little more enjoyable with Mika at his side.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The first day back at the Host Club was not supposed to turn out like this… but Yuu realized he had made a grave mistake as he stared down at the spilled tea on the table.

And more importantly, he focused on the tea now soaking into the plushy pink fabric of Yoichi’s precious bunny, Usa-chan.

“Oh no,” Shinoa remarked, a hand lifted over her mouth as she looked down at the disaster. She was just about to take the tea away when Yuu came barreling into the side of the table. “Now you’ve done it.”

“It’s not our fault!” Lacus huffed as both he and Rene slowed down and approached the mess.

“Y-You idiots!” Mika stammered as he caught sight of the tea-soaked bunny. “You’re the ones who bumped into the table, right?”

“No, it was Yuu,” Rene corrected as Mika frantically rushed over. “He was running away.”

“We wanted to have some fun by having him do a little cosplay,” Lacus explained.

“We’re always doing cosplay, you know,” Kimizuki muttered from where he stood a short distance away.

“Well, it wouldn’t be the usual Host Club kind of cosplay!” Lacus retorted. “This time, we would put Yuu in a bunny costume!”

“That sounds fitting for him,” Shinoa remarked with a sly grin.

“You’d want to see that too, right, Mikaela?” Rene asked, a subtle, sly grin curving on his lips.

Briefly, the image of Yuu in that sort of outfit drifted through Mika’s mind. With his waist and hips shown off through that form-fitting outfit, low-cut and revealing his shoulders and collarbones… surely, he’d be blushing as he tried to hide, but his legs would be covered with nothing except sheer tights. Right on the rise of his adorable bottom would be a round bunny tail, and atop his head would be big fluffy ears, bent slightly at their tips, just to make the outfit as cute as it could be. They couldn’t forget to add a collar around his neck, accentuated with a little bow made of ribbon...

Mika’s face was bright red as he turned away, not wanting Yuu to know of his lascivious thoughts. “I-I’d definitely want to see that, all right…”

“Oho.” Shinoa glanced curiously to Yuu to see his reaction.

Except… Yuu had missed the entire conversation, for he was too busy looking at Usa-chan and wondering what they could do to fix this. Would a tea-stain come off in the wash, or would Yuu have to go buy some sort of special detergent? Maybe they could ask Yoichi what to do, or even Gekkoin. This surely wasn’t the first time he had accidentally stained the toy.

“This isn’t the time for that!” Mika’s voice sharply cut into Yuu’s thoughts, and he looked back at him, confused to see the princely host flushed and grimacing at Shinoa, Rene, and Lacus. “Let go of him already!”

“No!” Lacus and Rene responded in unison, and Yuu groaned as he was tossed around again. Shinoa giggled delightedly in the background.

“Guys, shut up!” Kimizuki hissed as he glanced to a nearby couch. “You don’t want to wake Yoichi, do you?”

Shinoa, Lacus, Rene and Mika all shut up immediately and looked over to the couch in question. Yuu followed their line of sight and raised an eyebrow at the image of Yoichi, sleeping soundly against a frilly pillow, cuddled underneath a blanket with a pink rabbit pattern.

He’s a high school 3rd year and he’s still taking naps…? Yuu thought with a frown. Then, he sighed and placed his hands on his hips as he approached the side of the couch. “Well, we can’t help that his bunny has been stained. Let’s wake him up and apologize.”

“Wait, don’t go near Yoichi!” Lacus warned, and as Yuu looked over his shoulder, he noticed Lacus, Rene, Shinoa, Mika, and Kimizuki cowering behind another couch. “Come take shelter over here!”

“What are you doing…?” Yuu asked as he came over, then knelt down to join them.

“Yoichi is a totally different person when he wakes up, especially if someone else wakes him up,” Lacus went on, eyes full of worry. “This is just a rumor, but once when one of his servants tried to wake him up when he was still sleepy, he immediately flipped them onto their back and slammed them so hard into the ground that they broke their shoulder blade! It’s terrifying!”

“I heard Usa-chan was handmade by his grandma,” Rene added carefully. “Judging by the way he always carries it around, it must be a precious thing to him. Once he wakes up and sees that Usa-chan is dirty…”

“I don’t wanna die!” Lacus wailed, apparently in extreme distress.

“You’re exaggerating,” Yuu dismissed with a groan. “That story is ridiculous.”

“There’s plenty of evidence that Yoichi has a split personality,” Kimizuki argued vehemently. “And if you don’t believe me, you’ll find out when he wakes up.”

“This is bad,” Mika said with furrowed brows. “We have to do something before he wakes up-”

But it was too late. Everyone froze as Yoichi sat up and began rubbing his eyes.

“Quick, give him a substitute!” Shinoa hissed as she shoved a teddy bear into Yuu’s arms. Suddenly nervous, Yuu tensed up before he got to his feet and quickly rushed over. Then, he gently placed the bear onto the couch next to him and backed away.

Yoichi took one, long, slow look at the bear. For a moment, they thought it would work… but then Yoichi grabbed the bear and threw it to the floor which so much intensity that Yuu thought the ground shook under the impact. It was only after he saw this that he believed the story from before.

“Shit-!!” Kimizuki hissed as soon as Yoichi looked over to the table, where Usa-chan was soaked in tea and untouched since the accident.

“Gekkoin, help us!” Lacus cried out to the taller man, who had just re-entered the room after being away for awhile. He blinked at Yoichi, taking in his darkened eyes and scowl, and effortlessly came up with an excuse.

“Usa-chan wanted some tea,” Gekkoin explained. “But he got a little messy in the process.”

For a brief, terrifying moment, no one thought it would work. But then, Yoichi’s eyes regained their usual sparkle and he grinned widely. “Oh, he did? So that’s why his face is all dirty! Do you think he wants some cake too?”

Gekkoin’s expression seemed to soften as he looked down at Yoichi. “Perhaps. Let’s go find out with our guests and give him a bath afterwards.”

“Okay!” Yoichi agreed with a wide grin. A collective sigh passed through the other hosts, and it seemed they had gotten worked up over nothing. As if they were waiting for the right moment, a few girls entered the room with happy, expectant smiles. Yuu felt relieved, for everything was solved without a hitch, and the guests were just beginning to arrive. He focused on cleaning up the mess of the tea as Yoichi and Gekkoin welcomed the girls.

Once situated with desserts, the girls began chatting with their favorite hosts as they waited for their tea to be prepared. “Yoichi-kun, what kind of chocolate do you like?”

“Mousse? Bonbons? I’ll bet it’s chocolate cake that’s your favorite, huh?” Another girl rattled off her guesses for what Yoichi might enjoy the most.

“Let’s see…” Yoichi thought out loud with round, doe-like eyes. Finally, he happily exclaimed, “I like them all! I love chocolate, Usa-chan, and all of you!”

“Oh, how cute!” The girls exclaimed amongst various squeals and giggles.

“Yoichi is in a good mood, huh?” Yuu remarked as he was walking past Mika, who paused in his duties to watch Yoichi entertain the girls.

“Thank goodness,” Mika sighed with relief. “We settled the Usa-chan issue without any trouble.”

Shinoa nodded along as she stood by Mika’s side. “Yoichi-kun’s charm points include the phrases, ‘I love candy,’ and ‘I love cute things.’ Or so everyone says… but for my part, I’m not sold on the tepidity of his easygoing character. As it stands, there’s just something missing…”

Yuu raised an eyebrow at her, but then continued walking towards them the tray of tea he was carrying. Once he approached the table and set down the tray, he said, “Yoichi, if you keep eating nothing but sweets like this, you’re bound to develop cavities.”

“It’s okay, I make sure to brush my teeth,” Yoichi dismissed easily. Though, as if Yuu had caused it himself just by speaking up… Yoichi winced as he took in his next bite of cake and immediately began to tear up. The girls gasped and stared with shock at Yoichi’s stricken and fearful expression. Gekkoin immediately straightened up, alarmed at the sight, and for a brief second, no one moved. It was like no one knew what to do.

“Yoichi, don’t tell me…” Yuu murmured, but Yoichi kept his eyes averted.

“It’s nothing, really,” Yoichi said quickly. “It’s nothing, it’s nothing!”

But before he could keep trying to hide it, Gekkoin- who was seated next to him, leaned in close and grasped Yoichi’s chin in his hand. Yoichi leaned back, trying to escape, which caused his back to hit the cushions of the couch. Gekkoin arched over him, putting them in a rather suggestive position that had the girls gasping and blushing with excitement.

“That’s it!” Shinoa said from where she stood beside Mika. “That’s it, that’s it! What was missing was this type of moe!”

Gently, Gekkoin coaxed Yoichi’s mouth to open, and his eyes narrowed as he peered inside.

“It’s a cavity,” Gekkoin reported grimly.

“No, I’m okay…!” Yoichi insisted as little tears beaded in the corners of his eyes. He trembled like a frightened animal under Gekkoin's protective figure.

Mika, noticing the unavoidable situation, straightened up and looked at the girls around them. “Until Yoichi recovers from his cavity, all sweets are off-limits to him. In order to allow the entire club to offer its support, we ask you to temporarily refrain from consuming any snacks within the club.”

“N-No, Mika-kun!” Yoichi protested weakly. “I don’t want snacks to be off-limits…! I’m not in pain… I’m not in pain, okay?”

“It’s off limits now,” Gekkoin insisted, and he immediately moved to clear away all desserts from the table. Yoichi watched, defeated, as his precious cake was taken away. Kimizuki was busy calling in a dentist, and meanwhile, everything else went back into business.

In fact, Yoichi’s badly-timed cavity ended up being entertaining to his guests. They doted on him and did all they could to make him comfortable alongside Gekkoin, while others watched on with bated breath as the muscular man gently took care of his precious host, Yoichi.

“It’s too bad, Mikaela-kun…” sighed a guest sitting at another table nearby. She tore her eyes away from the sight of Yoichi and Gekkoin in order to look sadly at Mika. “I wanted you to have some of the chocolate that was specially made by our new pâtissier, which my family hired in from France, but I understand that you’re refraining from sweets.”

“Do not fret, my princess,” Mika responded smoothly, his head tilted charmingly to the side. “For Yoichi’s sake, we all want to help him in whatever way we can to abstain from sweets.”

“Your friendship is so beautiful,” she responded with a small smile, despite her disappointment. Wanting to erase all sadness from her expression, Mika lifted her hand and clasped it tenderly between his own palms.

“Besides, I’m sure it’s better this way,” Mika went on smoothly. “However delicious the chocolate may be, in the face of my heated love, it would probably melt and go to waste as it vanished away…”

Yuu, having overheard the exchange, tried not to puke in his mouth. Who the hell said stuff like that, and worst of all, how on earth did he get stuck with a crush on Mika, of all people?

My princess? Is he serious? Yuu thought with a brief eye-roll. Maybe it was just an act, but how much cringier could he get?

But then, Yuu thought about Mika smirking against his ear, whispering ‘my princess’ lowly and sweetly… and his skin suddenly felt much hotter than before.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad for him to call me that… Yuu reasoned with himself. But then, he quickly shook his head and dismissed his thoughts. Never mind that- he had other things to take care of for now.

Chapter Text

Just a little farther… Yuu kept his head up as he briskly walked down the hall towards his next class. He wasn’t going to be late, probably, but after Shinoa found him and chatted his ear off outside the restrooms, he was delayed a bit more than usual.

He didn’t plan on stopping- but then he noticed something peculiar happening just down the hall involving none other than Gekkoin and… a girl. She was someone he didn’t recognize at all. She might have been a regular at the Host Club, but he couldn’t recall her name. And considering the fact that they were alone...

Whoa… is this a confession? Yuu’s eyes widened and he backed up around the corner. He didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but he didn’t know a whole lot about Gekkoin and he couldn’t stomp down his curiosity. He was super attractive, tall and muscular… of course any girl would be into him. Yuu couldn’t deny his own slight attraction to him; he looked like a swimsuit model, after all. Plus, he didn’t want to interrupt their conversation, so he figured the next best option would be to wait until a better moment to walk by.

“I can’t hold it in any longer,” the girl said softly, her voice trembling as she looked down with daintily flushed cheeks. “I just have to have you accept my feelings for you, Gekkoin-kun.”

Yuu watched with widened eyes from behind the corner as Gekkoin looked down at her, his face stony and unmoving. Just as he thought, it really was a confession…! He waited quietly for Gekkoin to respond, but Gekkoin wasn’t saying a word. In fact, instead, it was the girl who continued to talk.

“Can’t you do that?” She paused and looked up at him worriedly. “You don’t, by any chance, have someone else that’s dear to you, Gekkoin-kun?”

Yuu held his breath. Gekkoin was as stoic as ever, gazing down at her with a serious glint in his eyes and a hand in his pocket. He secretly wanted to know as well, but the girl seemed to understand more than Yuu did from looking at his face alone.

The girl’s eyes glittered with tears as she looked down silently. Then, she spoke again. “There is someone, isn’t there?” Her voice wavered, and as tears fell down her cheeks, she turned and ran away before Gekkoin even spoke. Her pale yellow dress fluttered as she rushed off, creating a picturesque image of a heartbroken maiden. But Gekkoin made no move to stop her- he simply watched as she dashed away, looking slightly sorry for hurting her.

Yuu frowned, then turned away and continued towards his class as if he hadn’t seen anything. But Gekkoin’s troubled expression would remain in his memory for the rest of the school day.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Two girls at a table in Music Room #3 couldn’t help to notice a particularly sorrowful host pacing around right beside them. Their conversation slowed down as they peered curiously at Yoichi, then realized why he looked so upset.

When he looked to them with an adorable pout, they both gulped and averted their eyes, knowing that they couldn’t help Yoichi now.

Noticing their attention, Yoichi smiled brightly and approached them. “What are you drinking there?”

“D-Darjeeling tea, Yoichi-kun,” the first girl answered awkwardly. Yoichi peered curiously at the steaming beverage, then turned to the other girl.

“What are you eating?” He asked her, eyes wide and glittering sweetly.

“A-A spot of a sandwich,” she stammered hesitantly. Yoichi tilted his head and smiled a little more, appearing so painfully adorable that surely, it would be impossible for them to resist him.

“You know what?” He blinked cutely at them as he began suggesting something that just might do the trick. “I think some sweet candy would go well with the tea. You know, like cake or something, right? Right?”

The girls both were blushing by now, enchanted by his precious smile and seemingly innocent chatter. But the spell quickly faded as they were reminded why Yoichi couldn’t have cake with them. Nervously, one girl responded, “Yes, I suppose it would…”

“It sure would…” muttered her friend. They exchanged glances, for they both had the same idea now, and then set their teacups down onto their saucers. At the same time, they stood up and kept their eyes away from Yoichi as they fled the scene.

“We’re sorry, Yoichi-kun!” The one girl called out.

“It’s for your own sake!” Added the other girl.

“W-Wait!” Yoichi called out defeatedly, the corners of his eyes beading with tears. But the girls didn’t turn back- they obeyed the rules of the club and made sure Yoichi didn’t get any snacks. It had been a painful few days now, both in regards to his tooth and his cravings, and so he dragged his feet over to where Yuu was standing.

Yuu took notice of his sulking form. “Yoichi?”

Weakly, Yoichi reached out and gripped Yuu’s sleeve like a lost child. “Yuu-kun, am I bad…?” He looked up with round, shimmering eyes and flushed cheeks. Tears gathered in his eyes, and he pouted pathetically up at Yuu, hoping to give him the most adorable puppy-like expression he could muster. “Have I done anything to make the world hate me…?”

Yuu’s eyes softened and he looked genuinely upset by Yoichi’s appearance. Then, he frowned and sneakily glanced around. Finally, he leaned in close to Yoichi with his index finger over his lips so that they kept their voices low. “Okay, look… just a little one, okay?”

As he rummaged around in his pocket, Yoichi’s expression went from pouting to joyful in a second. Bingo. “A snack!?”

Yuu’s smile was angelic. His cheeks were rosy and his eyes were glimmering as he said, “Yes. Here.” He placed the snack in Yoichi’s hand, and once Yoichi looked down…

… his expression went blank. It was… kelp.

“The color is kind of similar to chocolate,” Yuu said, genuinely unaware that this was the last thing Yoichi wanted.

He absolutely chose the wrong person to whimper to... for sure.

As he trudged away, the other hosts gathered to observe Yoichi speculatively.

“He’s on edge,” Mika pointed out.

“Somebody talk to him,” Lacus said quietly. “He’s scaring me…”

“Ah, he’s headed for the candy shelves,” Rene observed, nearly not alarmed as he should have been.

“Relax, they’re all empty,” Kimizuki said with a sigh. Yuu heard the shifting of a chair, and when he turned around, he noticed Gekkoin approaching Yoichi with a tense expression. Once he stood close enough to Yoichi, he frowned and reached out to him.

“Yoichi, you can’t have any sweets or snacks if you want to get better,” Gekkoin said, very sternly. “Not even a little.”

Yoichi seemed to have had it. He turned around with tears gathering in his eyes, and suddenly stamped his foot as he stood up to his full height and glared up at Gekkoin.

“Just a little bit won’t hurt, right!? You’re being cruel!!” Yoichi’s yelling caught the attention of the guests, who turned and watched the scene with soft gasps. “Stay away from me already!!”

After that, Yoichi stormed off, leaving Gekkoin standing there looking very… very… hollow.

The silence in the room was heavy. Mika stood up quickly and called out, “Yoichi!” before running after his friend.

“Hey, are you alright?” Lacus asked hesitantly as he approached Gekkoin’s side. But Gekkoin didn’t even answer. He continued to stare off to the side, his eyes dull and lifeless.

“He’s taken heavy damage,” Rene observed. “But whether you had no choice, or you’re just self-destructing… if you’re going to be so depressed, then you shouldn’t have acted so coldly towards him.”

“It was on purpose…” Yuu murmured out loud, which caught the attention of a few others, including Gekkoin. He realized he had to elaborate. Yuu pursed his lips and then asked, “By any chance, were you trying to make Yoichi upset with you?”

“That couldn’t be right, could it?” Shinoa frowned as she tapped her chin. “Having Yoichi-kun mad at him would be like the end of the world for Gekkoin-kun. Why would he do it on purpose?”

“Well… in order to punish himself,” Yuu continued reluctantly with a sideways glance at Shinoa. He fixed his attention back to the tall, sulking host. “Am I wrong?”

The girls crowded around them all held their breaths with anticipation. After a long silence, Gekkoin lowly responded to Yuu’s question. “Because it’s all my fault… Yoichi’s cavity was due to my carelessness. I forgot to make him brush his teeth before his nap… twice.”

His confession has the girls tearing up from the sheer emotion and pain showcased by the usually quiet, reserved host. They were completely moved by his words, and even some of the other hosts were as well.

“B-But Gekkoin, that’s not your… responsibility, is it?” Lacus interjected hesitantly, but Gekkoin went on as if he hadn’t heard them at all.

“If Yoichi has to get false teeth, I’ll…” He ran a hand dramatically through his hair, as if he were very stressed out.

“No, that won’t happen,” Shinoa consoled with a pitiful smile. Yuu frowned a bit, surprised by Gekkoin’s negativity.

“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if Yoichi hadn’t yelled at me,” Gekkoin went on drearily.

“The rough treatment he got from Yoichi was the punishment that Gekkoin gave himself,” Kimizuki narrated to the audience of guests who were watching. The girls whispered and cooed various things to each other while glancing at Gekkoin, likely wondering what they could do to help him get along with Yoichi again.

“Still, while it may sound like a nice story in the short run… it’s a bit much over a single cavity, isn’t it?” Shinoa remarked with a short sigh. Just then, the door creaked open and there stood Mika and Yoichi. It was evident that they remained there, behind the door the entire time as they listened in to what Gekkoin had to say for himself.

“So, there you have it, Yoichi,” Mika said with a gentle smile. Yoichi looked at Gekkoin with shimmering, tearful eyes and a flush across his cheeks. Questioningly, he glanced up at Mika, like he didn’t know what was next. Mika gazed down at him and asked, “What will you do now?”

Yoichi paused for a moment, scanning the audience of girls and the other host’s faces for a moment. Then, he sniffled and rushed forward with a pitiful sob. His entrance alerted Gekkoin, who’s eyes widened as Yoichi rushed forward and threw his arms around his waist. Gekkoin looked down, breathless as Yoichi buried his face into Gekkoin’s chest.

“I’m sorry!” Yoichi cried out pitifully. “I won’t ever forget to brush my teeth again!”

Gekkoin’s gaze softened, and slowly, he put his arms around Yoichi and held him tenderly. The powerful emotion between the two was incredibly clear, and the girls all clapped and cheered for the pair in between sniffles. They immediately broke into a chattering storm over what they just witnessed- it was practically like a film, with how dramatic and touching the scene before them was.

Though once Yoichi stopped his crying, one girl stepped out from the crowd and approached Gekkoin with a hesitant expression. Yuu’s eyes widened at the sight of her- it was the girl from before, who had confessed to Gekkoin in the hallway! He immediately became worried about what she would say after being silently rejected by Gekkoin.

“Are you a fan of Gekkoin?” Mika asked kindly, ignorant to who she was. He watched as she walked up to the pair, not disturbed by her lack of an answer. Instead, she looked up at Gekkoin with a nervous expression.

“I understand,” she said shyly, then glanced down to the floor. “Gekkoin-kun, I now know who it is that is so dear to you.” She looked to Yoichi, who was rubbing at tearful eyes while watching her speak. The girl went on. “Gekkoin-kun, having the person most import to you being Yoichi-kun is so… it’s so… somehow, it’s just so terribly…”

The air was tense, and Yoichi shrank slightly behind Gekkoin. But then… the girl finished her statement with an enthusiastic squeal of...

“Adorable!”

Shinoa grinned and stepped up, then placed a hand right on her shoulder. “It would appear that you have just taken your first step into a new world.”

Then, Shinoa and her new friend began chattering excitedly about the overwhelming moe that came from the pair, and somehow, Yuu was not surprised by the outcome whatsoever.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The following week was the last summer event that the Host Club was putting on. Soon, the weather would become too cool for outdoors activities and the beautiful gardens would wilt away in the brittle air of winter. For now, they still remained in full bloom, and so the Host Club gathered in the traditional Japanese garden that Ouran kept in one section of its many, many acres of property.

The event paralleled their springtime cherry blossom viewing party, in which they dressed in yukatas. This time, they would wear specifically Heian style clothing. Each host had someone to entertain.

“Oh, Mikaela-sama, we mustn’t…!” One girl gushed as she was held by the princely president of the Ouran Host Club. “The many other girls that long for you will resent us…”

Mikaela pulled her a little closer to reassure her. “My princess, these hydrangeas will keep us hidden for the time being.” He turned her around so that he could gaze sincerely into her eyes. Against a backdrop of a glittering, pale blue pond that reflected the sky, Mika looked absolutely enchanting. “For this moment, at least, I am yours alone. The spirits of the hydrangeas stand by us.”

“Mikaela-sama, I yearn to be with you…!” The girl confessed with tearful eyes.

A short distance away, Lacus and Rene sat with a few girls as they attempted to match seashells to each other to make a perfect clam. Lacus attempted to put two shells together, but they didn’t fit.

“Sorry about that…!” The girl who told Lacus to pick that shell apologized.

“I lost again…?” Lacus frowned as he lowered the shells.

“Go easy on him, alright?” Rene said softly to the girls, a faint twinkle of amusement in his eyes. “Lacus is quite the crybaby.”

“Rene, you liar!” Lacus retorted as he looked to his partner, a pout on his lips. “Who’re you calling a crier?”

Though his feisty expression faded as Rene leaned in close, taking Lacus’s chin in between his thumb and index fingers. A dashing smirk appeared on Rene’s lips- a rare expression for him, indeed- as he tilted his head to the side. His voice was low and seductive as he murmured, “So you say, but when it’s just the two of us playing punishment games, then what happens, Lacus…?”

“B-But Rene, that’s because you… a-ah…!” Lacus’s face flushed bright red from the memory as Rene brought his hand down, then teasingly trailed his index finger up Lacus’s neck. Slowly, he brought his fingertip further along the curve of his jaw. The ticklish touch sent shivers down Lacus’s spine, and he flushed even redder as he tilted his head back along with the steady movement of Rene’s finger.

“What!? What!?” The girls squealed enthusiastically. “What happened!?”

Away from the chaos, Kimizuki sat with a few of his own guests. The girl to his right peered down at the trickling water of a stream as she remarked, “My, since when did the inner garden have this fantastic little stream?”

“It’s called a yarimizu channel,” Kimizuki explained elegantly, a peaceful expression on his face as he peered down at the stream that wound around them. It was bordered by larger gray rocks, and a few tiny bonsai trees shaded the water amongst the hydrangea bushes. “It’s said that during the Heian era, people would get a sense of the four seasons from the flower petals and autumn leaves that drifted along these waters.” Then, he decided to fixate his attention on the girls as he smoothly said, “I had this made out of my desire to spend the four seasons together with all of you.”

As the girls swooned over Kimizuki’s heartfelt words, Yoichi and Gekkoin sat off to the side atop a mat with their own guests. Yoichi was sitting in the circle of Gekkoin’s legs, with his back pressed up against Gekkoin’s front.

“The two of us will now eat soba noodles!” Yoichi announced, for he kept his arms in his lap as Gekkoin maneuvered the chopsticks in front of Yoichi. Then, once he got enough between the sticks, he lifted the noodles up to approximately where Yoichi’s mouth must be. His mouth was wide open as he leaned up, attempting to reach the noodles, and the sight was quite comical in the end.

“How cute…!” The three girls sitting there all squealed, admiring the silly, yet intimate way the two hosts were acting with each other.

After a long while of entertaining some girls, Yuu finally got a moment of peace. His guests were now all occupied, and Yuu wasn’t very surprised; he was still a new addition to the club. Everyone else had established fans, and Yuu was just sort of there for those who had no one else to go to. At least, that’s how he thought of it.

He took in a deep sigh and enjoyed the fragrance of the flowers. Ever since he got into this school, he actually had quite a few moments of relaxation amongst all the chaos of the host club. I guess that’s what acclimation will do for you, he thought with a contented smile.

But he thought to soon.

“Yuu-chan, duck!!”

He had no idea what to expect, but suddenly Mika was charging towards him with a panicked expression. As he turned to see what the commotion was, he gaped at the sight of a mari ball hurtling towards him, and his eyes widened with fear as he froze up. Though before the ball could make contact with his face, Mika leapt on top of him and they crashed onto the ground behind a row of hydrangea bushes.

Once the world stopped spinning, Yuu gasped at their position. His costume was all disheveled, and Mika had him pinned down in a position similar to when Guren walked in on them. Yuu’s face heated immediately from both the memory and their current situation, and flustered, Mika practically flung himself off of Yuu.

“S-Sorry, Yuu-chan! You were in danger!” Mika apologized, flustered as he got to his feet. Though before he offered to help Yuu up, he whipped around angrily at Lacus and yelled, “You almost hit him!”

“Isn’t it your own fault for not catching it?” Rene drawled out with a shrug. “If you can’t even play kemari very well, then I weep for your reputation.”

“What!? Then catch this!” Mika challenged as he kicked the ball back towards them. As they ran off, Yuu groaned as he sat up and brushed the leaves and debris off his period-style clothing. Honestly, at this rate, they’d damage all their nice costumes. It seemed no one cared about that but Yuu.

“Are you doing alright, Yuu-kun?” a girl’s voice asked him as he adjusted his costume. Looking up, Yuu’s eyes rounded with surprise.

“Ah, yeah, I’m fine! Thanks!” Yuu was a bit flustered that someone was concerned about him, so he got to his feet quickly. He looked at the girl curiously, for he didn’t recognize her. She had notably red hair pulled back in high pigtails, and she seemed nervous as she looked at Yuu with violet eyes. Yuu tilted his head at her. “You’re not a regular, are you?”

“No,” she confirmed, with slightly reddening cheeks. “I’m from the Newspaper Club. I’m Mito Jujou, second year, class A. I came by to observe the Host Club’s party in hopes of writing an article about it for the next issue.”

“Oh, I see.” Yuu smiled kindly to her. “Do you need to interview us or anything like that?”

“I think observing will be sufficient,” Mito assured. “Thank you for the offer. Though, you see, the club hasn’t had anything really that interesting to report on lately… so I might attend a few Host Club events until I find something.”

“You are more than welcome to attend,” cut in a voice from behind Yuu, “but do please speak with me about any photos you take.” Yuu turned around, seeing that Kimizuki was approaching with a friendly smile. Though, Yuu didn’t miss the defensive glint in his eyes, as if Mito was going to be a threat to them somehow. Yuu didn’t understand his apprehension, but he nodded along. Kimizuki continued, “This is because we get many of our profits from photographs of the Hosts, and so if too many are put in the paper, it might harm our revenue.”

“Understood,” Mito said with a curt nod. There seemed to be no conflict, and so Mito looked out at the other Hosts and nodded towards Gekkoin and Yoichi. “I’ll go over there now, if you don’t mind…”

“By all means, please enjoy yourself as you observe,” Kimizuki said with a kind smile. After Mito walked away, Kimizuki turned back to Yuu and spoke lowly, quiet enough so only Yuu could hear. “Be careful around her. People like her are trained to pick up on the littlest of things to turn into a rumor or a scandal.”

“Eh…?” Yuu furrowed his brows as he tilted his head to hear Kimizuki better. “She seemed really sweet, though. Why would you assume such a thing?”

“Some of the articles they’ve published have caused a huge shitstorm at the Academy,” Kimizuki explained. “And very little of what they come up with tends to be true. I’m worried about your reputation in particular so… just keep an eye out, alright?”

“Okay…” Yuu murmured, and after giving Yuu a thoughtful look, Kimizuki turned away and went back to his guests. He wondered what that was all about, and now he felt a tad paranoid about it all. He really would have to watch himself if what Kimizuki was saying was true…

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The nice weather continued to linger around for a bit longer, and so Mika insisted they continued to do as many outdoor activities as possible before it got too cold. Just a few days later, the Host Club entertained their guests by playing what they called “commoner’s games” outside on a neatly-trimmed grassy field in the gardens. Some of the girls were participating while others simply opted to watch the hosts run around.

In the midst of a game of kick the can, something spontaneous happened that Yuu was not at all prepared for. After a particularly powerful kick from Mika, everyone scattered as the can went flying high into the air. Mika ran right to Yuu without a good explanation and grabbed his hand.

“Over here!” He said as his grip on Yuu’s hand tightened. Then, he ran quickly into the maze of rose bushes just beside the field. Yuu watched Mika’s grinning face, wide-eyed as he was ushered away, and in moments they were surrounded by hedges covered in blooming roses. It must be the last few weeks of their lives, since the coldness would set in soon and cause them to shrivel up. For now, the sweet fragrance surrounded them as they turned this way and that. They were running and running until…

Mika slowed down with a bright smile still plastered across his face. His shoulders rose and fell with heavy breaths and laughter, and then he turned to face Yuu with sparkling, cerulean eyes. “We got away!”

“We sure did,” Yuu replied with a small smile, though his eyebrow twitched with irritation. “But… Mika, I have a question.”

“Hm?” Mika smiled and tilted his head.

Yuu deadpanned. “Are we lost?”

Mika’s eyes flashed with a bit of panic, and so Yuu immediately knew the answer. He answered before Mika got a chance to fabricate some sort of excuse. “We’re lost.”

“Let’s go this way!” Mika suggested rather than acknowledging the fact that he got them stranded in the rose maze. “There’s a nice hiding spot around here… I think!”

He thinks, Yuu added to himself dryly. With a heavy sigh, he followed Mika around the corner of the next aisle of bushes… and sure enough, there actually was something pleasant waiting there for them. It was a little gazebo covered with vines, and roses bloomed all around. The gazebo, made of white marble, sheltered them from the sun and enclosed them in a space entirely surrounded by lush green leaves and flowers fitting of Ouran’s character. The gaps between the columns were encased with glass, covering them from any wind or precipitation.

Inside the gazebo was a little table, and a ledge was built in to the wall for seating. In a way, it was the best place to wait for someone to find them and guide them out (if anyone went looking for them at all).

“In a sense, we’re stranded, aren’t we?” Yuu remarked as he took his seat in the shade of the gazebo roof.

“You’re not wrong,” Mika laughed nervously as he sat down beside Yuu.

“You know,” Yuu sighed softly, “I didn’t think I would be playing this game once I got into high school…”

“This isn’t fun?” Mika guessed with a bit of a frown. Yuu shook his head.

“No, it’s fun,” Yuu corrected him with a small smile. “I played it with my friends when we were in elementary school.”

“Really?” Mika said, eyes soft with admiration as he looked at Yuu. Then, he moved his attention to the flowers, where for a moment he looked… almost melancholy. Yuu froze in place, watching his profile closely as he seemed to fall into deep thought. “I didn’t have many friends who were the same age as me. My mom got sick easily, and I was so worried about her that I didn’t go outside much as a child.”

Yuu tilted his head as he looked from Mika’s sad, small smile to his eyes, which were shaded a darker blue and slightly averted. After a pause, Yuu gently commented, “That sounds like it was rough for you.”

“I suppose,” Mika agreed with a mild shrug, “but to cheer my mom up, I’d always sit and play the piano beside her.” Then, the sadness in his expression was shaken away as he looked up, peering at the rays of sun that shone down onto the grassy pathway before them. “That’s why it’s so fun for me to play with everyone like this. I didn’t get to do it when I was younger… so we should do this again!”

And then, Mika turned to Yuu with the brightest, most genuine smile Yuu had ever seen from him. Yuu had gotten used to Mika’s princely smiles, the way he flashed his teeth to make girl’s hearts flutter (and his own, albeit unwillingly), but this smile… this smile was rare. He remembered seeing it when they were filming that insane movie under Shinoa’s command, when he laughed after finding out Yuu was crying simply because his contact lens was out of place. He saw a brief hint of that smile way back when they first met, when he handed Yuu his wallet, dripping with the fountain’s water.

It was a special sight- one that had Yuu’s heart lodging in his throat and making his face heat up considerably. “Y-Yeah. Let’s do it again.”

Mika was looking at him in a way that had Yuu feeling jittery. He studied Yuu’s face like he was going to lean in and close the distance between them, and the thought confused Yuu to no end. He was certain he was delusional and simply seeing things, because there was no way Mika was into him as well. Someone as gorgeous and unattainable as Mika couldn’t have feelings for Yuu… it just didn’t make sense to him.

In reality, Yuu was thinking way too lowly of himself. He was totally oblivious to his own intelligence, passion and beauty, and Mika itched to shower him with all sorts of loving compliments.

Yuu was frozen in place as Mika leaned in just a little closer, eyes flickering down to his lips. Yuu thought he was seeing things, that this couldn’t really be happening. There was no way Mika was about to… to kiss him.

“Yuu-chan…” Mika spoke softly, tenderly, and he reached up to touch the side of Yuu’s face. The brush of his fingertips against Yuu’s burning cheek caused Yuu to wince slightly, not from fear or disgust but from surprise. He didn’t pull away, and he looked into Mika’s entrancing eyes as his crush leaned closer to him- so close that his breath was warm against Yuu’s lips. “See, the truth is-”

Click.

Yuu and Mika both turned quickly, eyes widening as they looked to the source of the sound they both just heard. They swore they heard something coming from the rose maze, but there was no one.

Mika’s eyebrows tensed and he stood up quickly.

“M-Mika-” Yuu stammered awkwardly, reaching out hesitantly as Mika quickly walked to the pathway. Yuu followed him, heart racing with worry. They definitely both just heard the click of a camera lens. That was not something they just made up.

Mika froze as he turned to the right, and when Yuu joined his side, his eyes rounded at the sight of the girl from the Newspaper club, Mito Jujou. She was holding a camera, which would explain the sound, but she didn’t look guilty at all. In fact, she had the camera positioned before her eyes, and she was kneeling in front of a particularly beautiful rose.

“Oh- Yuu-kun, Mikaela-kun,” Mito said, as if she was surprised to see them there. “I thought I heard voices nearby. I was just taking pictures of the flowers here. Aren’t they stunning?”

Yuu looked up at Mika, expecting him to say something corny about how she was more beautiful than any of the roses here, but he stayed frozen, eyes cold as he stared down at her. It was shocking, for Mika was the last person to act such a way in front of a girl- especially one who attended the Host Club.

Feeling the need to make this less awkward, Yuu felt tempted to say something. Though as soon as he parted his lips, someone else spoke up from behind them instead.

“They are, and they sure do make a pretty picture.” Yuu turned around, surprised to see Kimizuki of all people walking up to them steadily. Shinoa was beside him, but she paused once she reached Mika’s side. Kimizuki continued, “But actually… can I have your camera for a second?”

Mito’s eyes widened and she nodded, then handed it over. Kimizuki positioned the camera in front of his face and said, “Smile.”

“W-Wha-!?” Mito stammered as her face flushed red, and Kimizuki snapped a couple of pictures. He laughed lightly as Mito huffed about, flustered that Kimizuki snuck a picture of her like that. Then, she snatched the camera back and lifted her chin high. “No tricks like that again, alright?”

“Aw, I couldn’t help myself,” Kimizuki answered smoothly, a small smile on his lips.

“Anyways, we got lost here,” Yuu said as he peered hesitantly at Shinoa. “Can you guys lead us out…?”

“You look like a lost puppy,” Shinoa teased with a girlish giggle. Yuu’s cheeks burned awkwardly, and he pouted as he looked to the side, hoping to shield his embarrassed expression. “Alright, let’s all get out of here!”

Yuu followed along and for a few moments, he was by Mika’s side. He wanted to ask what Mika was going to say, and why he had such an expression. What was that about leaning in…? Was he actually going to kiss Yuu? Anxiety welled up in Yuu’s chest at the mere thought of asking him outright. If he was wrong to assume Mika was going to kiss him, it might ruin their friendship for good.

He didn’t know where to go from there. For a moment, he looked over to Mika, but Mika had his attention focused elsewhere. His cheeks were still reddish and he seemed to be in deep thought. Plus, Yuu knew now wasn’t the time to ask him about it, while they were surrounded by other people. It would have to wait until the next best moment they got alone together.

Yuu just prayed he wasn’t mistaken about it all… but he wondered if he would ever gather the courage to bring it up to Mika when the time came.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

This is bad.

Kimizuki’s brows were tense as he walked down the hallway, each step brisk and hurried. He came up to the Newspaper Club’s meeting room and knocked on the door, then waited with a tapping foot until someone opened up.

“Ah, it’s Kimizuki-kun,” one of the students of the club greeted him. “What can we do for you?”

“I’d like to speak to Jujou-san about the photographs she took of the Host Club,” Kimizuki stated his business. “Is she here?”

“Present.” Mito approached the door and tilted her head. “What can I do for you?”

“Can I talk to you? And please bring your camera.” Kimizuki looked her in the eyes, hoping to convince her that this was serious. She fixed him with a curious look, then slowly agreed and got her camera. Once they were in the hallway together, Kimizuki ran a hand through his hair.

“I understand you want to look at the photographs of the Host Club before we publish anything,” Mito began, seeming to guess his reason for coming, “but they aren’t developed or anything yet. I haven’t even gone through them.”

“We can talk about that later,” Kimizuki said evenly. “I wanted to talk about the picture you took in the rose garden.”

“The flowers?” Mito asked innocently. “They are really nice, aren’t they?”

“You know what I’m talking about,” Kimizuki sternly corrected her. His brows were tense and his voice lowered, and after quickly checking the hall to make sure that no one else was nearby, he continued. “The one of Mika and Yuu. I saw it on your camera. Sorry to be sneaky, but that’s why I wanted your camera in the first place.”

Mito tensed up. “I was only passing by,” she defended softly.

“I know you were following them to try and get a good story,” Kimizuki argued. “I get that it would be exciting for the paper, to see two hosts flirting outside of their fanservice duties. But… please, don’t do this. Not to them.”

“Why not?” Mito arched her brow challengingly. “There’s nothing wrong with the two of them being together. We’re not going to trash-talk them or the Host Club. We were only going to write a speculation of what could be going on. Everyone knows it’s just talk.”

“Forgive me, Jujou-san, but it’s clear to me that you have no idea what you’re talking about,” Kimizuki hissed, his demeanor becoming a bit more threatening. He couldn’t help it, not when both Yuu and Mika’s safety was on the line. He had a brief memory of being slammed up against a wall, of hateful words being spat into his face, of a breath-taking punch jamming hard into his gut… and all because of something as innocent as a crush on another boy, long ago. He shook the memories free, but his panic was evident. “People are vicious. I know you’d like to think that everyone is friendly here at Ouran, and that these things are just talk… but the worst sides of people can come out when you least expect it. And an article like that can cause their relationship to… to fall apart, and then-”

“Alright,” Mito held up a hand. “Alright, I get it. You don’t have to get so worked up.” She lifted her camera so that Kimizuki could see the screen. Then, she selected the image- one where Mika was caressing Yuu’s cheek and leaning in, eyes half-lidded- and deleted it. Kimizuki felt the weight of the world roll off his shoulders. Mito smiled a little at him as she lowered the camera. “It’s gone now. You won’t see anything about this in the paper, mark my words.”

Kimizuki exhaled heavily. The panic seemed to ebb away, breath by breath, and he looked to her gratefully. “Thank you.”

Mito shook her head, as if he was being silly for even thinking to thank her like that. “No, thank you for opening my eyes. That was low, even for me. I shouldn’t have even considered it.”

After a quick goodbye, Kimizuki returned to the Host Club, secretly grateful he stopped a disaster before it could even happen.

No one knew it, but he did a lot behind the scenes, and he was alright not getting credit for it. He never had anyone to protect him before, so now he could be the one to defend the people he loved.

As long as he could keep his friends safe, that’s all that mattered to him now.

Chapter Text

The crisp, cool atmosphere of autumn finally settled in the courtyards of Ouran Academy, causing the flowers to wilt and drop their colorful petals in preparation for winter. The trees displayed a brilliant array of golden, ginger and dusty-brown leaves that occasionally sprinkled down onto the walkways below.

Yuu’s attention was pulled from the leaves drifting in the light breeze as the class president spoke up to carry on their business. “All right, let’s move on to the next item of the agenda. I would like to discuss the plans for next week.”

“Plans…?” Yuu mumbled under his breath. Sitting next to him, Lacus leaned over with a smirk.

“Halloween,” he reminded Yuu. “You became an honor student here starting in high school, so you wouldn’t know about it, huh? Here at Ouran, during the grading of our in-school trial exams, we’re allowed to take off until the last day of October every year and hold costume parties here on campus!”

“To promote camaraderie, we’re allowed to take a whole day and use it however we like, as a class event,” Rene added on from Yuu’s other side. “Usually we have tea parties, watch movies and so on. But to be honest, that’s getting kind of boring.”

Yuu shrugged. He didn’t really care what they did, one way or another.

“We should have a Halloween special test-of-courage tournament!” Lacus suddenly offered, raising his hand high and cutting off whatever the president was saying next. “We’ll ask the superintendent to open the school to us at night! Then, we all take turns dressing up as monsters and scare each other!”

The class all murmured amongst each other with this newfound idea. Yuu blinked at Lacus, wondering how he thought up of such an idea out of the blue, but it was certainly clever. The president’s face flushed as she pointed authoritatively at Lacus.

“I-I wasn’t finished with my speech, you know!” the president, Mitsuba Sanguu, declared hotly. She directed her violet eyes to Lacus accusingly, though it didn’t surprise Yuu, for she was the kind of person to get defensive over little things like that.

“Aw, but isn’t it a good idea?” Lacus pushed on, completely unfazed by her flustered attitude. “It’ll make for a high-spirited, exciting event.”

“I like the part about the school at night,” Rene chipped in, a particularly sinister shine in his eyes. Yuu gulped nervously when he noticed that expression. Rene was usually pretty stoic unless he was acting as a host, but to see him looking excited over something like this was… a bit creepy, to say the least.

“The school at night, huh?” One student said excitedly to another.

“That could be kind of exciting,” said another, a wide grin on his face.

“I just thought of a really scary idea!” added one girl with a smirk.

“Everyone takes turns as frighteners, and one-by-one, we test our courage,” a different student elaborated on Lacus’s original idea.

“Going one at a time wouldn’t be very efficient, would it?” Mitsuba challenged haughtily from where she stood at the podium. She flipped a blonde pigtail over her shoulder. “We also have to consider time allocation. There should be at least three or four frighteners at a time.”

“It would be better if it were really scary, right?” Lacus pushed on with an encouraging nod. Clearly, even if Mitsuba seemed against it, she was already proposing ways to make the event better. It was already working out for them.

“The team gets the most terrified during the test...” Rene said, a wicked smile stretching across his face, “will be featured on the front page of the school paper and mocked for their cowardice.”

Mitsuba looked somewhat pale up there all of a sudden, and Yuu got the sense that she was actually afraid of losing such a competition, hence why she was against it. But as soon as the class exploded with agreements and claps of excitement, she must have realized there was no way she could convince them to change their minds.

She got herself together quickly, however. After clearing her throat, she stood taller and raised her chin up high. “Okay then, um… does anyone have any objections to this event?”

She stared directly at Yuu, since he had been quiet the entire time, as if expecting him to speak up and object. But Yuu simply returned her gaze, confused and indifferent, and so she sulked and caved in to their decision.

“Very well then,” Mitsuba agreed curtly. “For 1-B’s class event… we would like to settle on the Halloween special test of courage, proposed by Lacus-kun.”

The class erupted in cheers. With an aggravated sigh, Mitsuba turned to the vice president, Sayuri, and their treasurer, Kagiyama. Frowning, Yuu looked at the executive students and wondered if he could help out somehow.

“What should we do about the budget?” Kagiyama was asking Mitsuba as Yuu approached. “Once we start going in for the ghost costumes, there’ll be no end to it.”

“We should keep it under 300 yen,” Mitsuba proposed. “Keeping it cheap will make things interesting.”

“We might have people who will faint,” Sayuri cautioned with a worried frown, “so maybe we should have a doctor standing by… would that fit in the budget?”

While Kagiyama fiddled with the math, Yuu glanced to Mitsuba, who seemed a little more shaken than she should have been. He must have looked at her for too long, for she eventually faced him with a deep frown.

“What are you staring at?” Mitsuba snapped. Her cheeks reddened and Yuu arched an eyebrow at her.

“Nothing, I just…” Yuu trailed off as he noticed that her hands shook ever so slightly. “Are you afraid of this event, by any chance?”

“Me, afraid?” Mitsuba barked out, a wry smile coming onto her face. “Where ever did you get such an idea?” Before Yuu got a chance to answer, Mitsuba went on. “I’m only… exasperated, because all the other classes get to have the usual tea parties and such, but ours is the only class unanimously choosing a test of courage! I don’t understand the point, it’s autumn already!”

“If you didn’t want to, you could have opposed it,” Yuu suggested, keeping his voice low so that other students couldn’t easily overhear them. “If you spoke up, we all would have gone along with your idea.”

“Doing so would seem like, as president, I’m lording my authority over everyone, so I decided not to,” Mitsuba replied as she crossed her arms over her chest. “That’s why I was hoping to be rescued by you-” But then, her eyes widened and she paused as she realized what she just admitted out loud. Her face colored and Yuu smiled slightly; he knew he hit the nail on the head with his suspicions.

“How was I supposed to rescue you?” Yuu asked, head tilted to the side.

“You’re just an idiot!” Mitsuba snapped with a finger pointed directly at him. “I sent out signs to you in order for you to oppose the idea because you didn’t seem like you were interested in this sort of thing!” Yuu recalled the way Mitsuba had stared at him when asking if there were any objections, but Yuu was too surprised to respond. Plus, he wasn’t against the idea overall… so he didn’t think to ruin everyone’s fun.

“If even one person was against it, I could have brought it up for discussion,” Mitsuba went on rapidly, “but because you were so dense, you missed all my hints!”

“S-Sorry, I had no idea…” Yuu muttered, and he noticed the class still wasn’t thinning out, even though it should by now. It seemed everyone was eager to plan immediately. He focused back on Mitsuba. “Um, maybe we can be in the same group when the time comes, if you’re scared. Maybe if you’re by my side, you won’t get too afraid and you’ll stay calm.”

Mitsuba’s eyes widened as her face colored a brilliant shade of red. She stammered over her words, creating such a show that even Sayuri and Kagiyama looked over at them questioningly. Though a second later, Mitsuba grabbed his arm and yanked so that Yuu was closer to her height.

“Keep this absolutely secret from people like Lacus-kun and Rene-kun,” Mitsuba hissed into his ear, but as soon as the words escaped her lips, the two demons in question seemed to appear out of thin air.

“Oh, so Mitsuba-san is a scaredy cat?” Lacus said jeeringly, much to Mitsuba’s shock. She flinched and staggered back, though before they could say anything more, Sayuri caught the attention of the class.

“Let’s decide who wants to be in each group right now!” She called out, which had everyone excited immediately. Rene and Lacus each respectively grabbed Yuu’s and Mitsuba’s arms.

“The four of us will team up together!” Lacus announced, a broad grin on his face. Yuu realized he didn’t have a choice but to be with those two, which didn’t surprise him in the slightest.

“Alright, you will be group A!” Sayuri declared as she scribbled down their info on a clipboard.

“Good luck, Miss President,” Rene said lowly, a sneer on his face as he nudged her in the side with his elbow. She let out an embarrassed squeak sound, but luckily it didn’t seem to be heard by anyone else as other students all tried to propose their groups next. Yuu briefly felt bad for Mitsuba, for she unwillingly got roped up in their shenanigans and was likely in for a wild night.

Poor girl… Yuu thought with a small sigh.

Shortly after the decision of everyone’s groups, they were dismissed. For a moment, Yuu considered hanging back to ask Mitsuba her thoughts about everything in a more private setting… but she was gone in a flash, likely to take care of some other duty, and so he went on his way to the Host Club.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Halloween was finally in full-swing. The test-of-courage was that evening, and so for the duration of the day, the Host Club put on their very own Halloween-themed party to entertain their guests. Naturally, the Hosts all chose an array of costumes, though Mika, Lacus and Rene all favored dressing as vampires. Meanwhile, Yoichi and Gekkoin put on horns to look like demons. Kimizuki dressed as a ghostly-looking nobleman, and that left Yuu… who felt embarrassed now that he showed up in a cutesy-looking werewolf outfit.

It wasn’t nearly as intimidating as he thought it would be. He forgot that the only costume stuff he had remaining from past Halloween’s was the fluffy pair of ears, paws and tail he wore ages ago. He was probably still in elementary school when he wore something so embarrassing… but he didn’t want to show up as the only one out of costume, so of course he was going to do his best here, no matter how silly he felt…!

“Trick or treat,” murmured a voice seductively from right behind his ear. Yuu yelped and flinched, and when he turned around, his eyes rounded at the sight of Mika flashing a fanged smile at him. The whole room was dark and lit only by flickering candles, creating a spooky atmosphere fitting of the Halloween season. For that reason, Yuu hadn’t noticed Mika coming up behind him.

“M-Mika, you scared me,” Yuu stammered, his face warming from the unexpected lack of proximity between them. Memories of their almost-kiss a few weeks ago lingered in the back of his mind. Though they hadn’t gotten a chance to talk, the looks Mika gave him seemed loaded with… something else, but Yuu couldn’t quite decipher it.

In an attempt to calm his pounding heart, Yuu had been keeping his distance. He was afraid of his feelings worsening before he got any answers from Mika. It sure seemed like a confession was about to happen, but… it was pretty hot that day. Yuu might have been imagining things in the end.

Though, as if he knew what sort of doubt was flickering in Yuu’s eyes, Mika put on a dazzling smile and leaned in close. Unsure of what to do, Yuu tensed up, his breath catching in his throat as Mika’s gloved hand slid up to cup the side of his cheek. His boots must have given him a little more height, for Yuu bent back slightly as he felt Mika practically lean over him. To make matters worse, his other hand grasped Yuu’s lower back, keeping them pressed close together.

“Can I get a treat from you in the form of some blood…?” Mika asked, voice low and purring as his lips practically brushed Yuu’s burning cheek. Yuu’s lips trembled and he nearly crumpled up, for Mika’s smooth voice made everything in his mind stop entirely

“Wow, look at Mikaela-kun and Yuu-kun!” A girl squealed, breaking the spell Mika had put on Yuu. Damn, he really was an expert at Hosting… Yuu flushed a darker red as he squirmed in Mika’s grasp, turning his face away shyly.

“Mikaela-kun, you’re a vampire this year!” gushed some girls from off to the side. “You look just fantastic!”

“And look at Yuu-kun! He’s a cute little puppy…!” One guest cooed, causing Yuu to suddenly snap out of it and step away from Mika.

“I’m a ferocious beast to be feared!” Yuu defended, and if his fur was real, it might have bristled in an attempt to look scarier. Instead, the girls aww’d at his adorable appearance, and Yuu only blushed further. Indignantly, he turned away from them, but that only made the girls (and Mika) swoon even more at his ‘tsundere’ act, as Shinoa was describing it from somewhere off to the side.

As Mika focused on the girls now sighing and blushing over his vampiric appearance, Yuu was grateful to get a moment to himself. He found himself watching Mika caress their faces and speak smooth, romantic phrases into their ears, and a little pang of longing tugged at his heart.

He didn’t want that sort of treatment, obviously… he wasn’t a guest to the Host Club, and he never wanted to be treated like one. But to be held by Mika, to have Mika look at him unlike he looked at anyone else… it might be nice. Most of all, questions from their time alone in the rose maze lingered in his mind, and he itched to ask Mika about it.

It was too bad that Mika wasn’t in his class or able to join them tonight. Yuu would likely get a moment of privacy with him there if it were the case.

He hadn’t realized he was staring so much until Mika’s eyes met his own again, questioning and gentle, and Yuu flinched as his cheeks burned red. He turned away quickly and went along with his duties, not wanting to be caught gazing longingly at Mika again.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

All across the school were strings of glowing blue lights, accentuated by occasional jack-o-lanterns to light up the eerie night sky, which glittered with an array of constellations. Pumpkins with flickering candlelight illuminated the long hallways of Ouran Academy, though many corners were left in complete darkness- just enough to make anyone uneasy about what could be lurking behind the pillars and inside presumably empty classrooms.

Yuu narrowed his eyes, which were now mostly adjusted to the darkness, as he crouched behind a decorative column with Mitsuba, Lacus, and Rene. A pumpkin with a twisted grin was perched atop the column, and the creepy shapes of its face were cast against the opposing wall from the flickering candlelight.

“Do you know the story of the clock tower witch?” Rene spoke lowly and teasingly to Lacus, his eyes gleaming with mischief despite the lack of a smile on his face. “Long ago, a girl student who was dressed up like a witch on Halloween took a tumble from the clock tower. Ever since, anyone who sees her on Halloween is cursed.”

Mitsuba was strangely tense as she overheard this story, her wide eyes locked onto the clock tower, which was fully visible from where they sat. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows cast a spooky moonlight onto the students, and the massive clock hands on the tower inched with every passing second.

“Stop that,” Mitsuba snapped at Rene, her eyes narrowed as she forced her attention away from the tower.

“Yeah, cut it out!” Yuu finally spoke up while glaring at Rene (and Lacus, who was smirking knowingly). “What good is it to scare someone on your own team? It’s our turn to be scaring the others right now!”

“But no one has come yet, and we’ve got nothing to do,” Lacus protested. Then, he changed the subject by smirking and pointing at Yuu’s pointed ears. “Plus, you don’t look very scary with those cute little werewolf ears.”

“Shut up!” Yuu snapped, his cheeks heating as he turned away from them. Instead, he focused on Mitsuba and pulled out a book from his bag. “It’s alright, Mitsuba. Look, I borrowed this book, titled ‘Ways to Get Through Scary Situations’ from the school library.”

“Y-You did that for me?” Mitsuba said softly, her face coloring slightly as Yuu cracked the book open. She looked down at the pages with a tender expression in her eyes, seemingly grateful that Yuu was going out of his way to help her out in these trying times.

“Let’s see, what have we got here…” Yuu murmured as he looked at the first passage. “Method number 1: just bear through it, it will be over eventually!” He skimmed a few lines down. “Method number 2: chant, ‘away, spooks!’ ten times. Method number 3: If you see something, pretend you didn’t-”

“No, those don’t solve anything!” Mitsuba interrupted, exasperation clear in her tone. She stood up suddenly with her hands balled in the folds of her dress. Her witch-themed costume was really cute, but clearly she was not one for this kind of atmosphere. “I’m leaving. Call me names and put me on the front page of the paper, but I’m getting out of here!”

“Eh, are you sure?” Lacus challenged, arching an eyebrow slowly. “Even if it means you don’t get to be all snuggled up to Yuu anymore?”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Mitsuba defended, cheeks turning even redder. “Idiots! He’s not the one I like!”

“Well then, who do you like?” Rene asked, tilting his head to look curiously at Mitsuba.

“T-That’s…!” Mitsuba flustered and looked away pointedly. “W-We’ve simply been friends since we were little, but that doesn’t have anything to do with this! We’re just childhood friends!”

“Okay, okay, we got it…” Lacus dismissed with a knowing cheshire-like grin. Yuu looked at her profile sympathetically, but in the moment, he swore he saw something pass them by in his peripheral vision. A slight sinking feeling settled in his stomach as he turned, wondering if he should even say anything now that Mitsuba was sitting still and no longer threatening to leave.

“Am I imagining things…?” Yuu murmured, glancing to look at the window. “There was some sort of shady figure outside the window just now…”

“What are you talking about!?” Mitsuba’s shrill voice responded almost immediately. “S-Stop that! Not you too, idiot Yuu!”

Just as her voice finished echoing down the hall, they heard a thump from the staircase, and everyone turned to the source of the sound. With wide eyes, they watched as a fake skull came bouncing down the stairs, where it then landed spectacularly in front of them.

“T-This is a sneak attack by those Team B guys, right?” Lacus asked, looking much more pale than before. “It’s not their turn yet!” He turned to look up the stairs and yelled, “Follow the rules!”

When they waited for a response, they stared at the top of the stairs… and everyone’s blood ran cold as they saw someone step out into full view. It was… a creature, shrouded in a dark cape, and atop their head was…

… a witch hat.

“T-That couldn’t be… the… the clocktower witch, could it?” Mitsuba stammered out, but before anyone could answer her, the figure started running down the stairs.

Screams broke out from everyone, who then scattered and ran in random directions to get away from the oncoming monster. Yuu wasn’t sure where he was going, and truth be told he wasn’t really that scared- he just liked the thrill of the chase. He charged off down one hallway, wondering if he would get away or if the creature would rush after him, since he was alone.

His assumption was correct. Yuu could hear the footsteps behind him and he grinned, wondering if he could outrun the creature chasing him. He knew coming up, there were two different ways he could go as soon as he turned the corner…

… but once he reached that hallway, he gasped at the sight of a dead-end. It was set up so that Yuu couldn’t get past it, and now he was cornered- with the exception of a small closet door just a few paces away. Yuu darted to it, wondering if he could get inside quick enough, but it seemed to be rigged against him. Just as the creature turned around the corner, Yuu managed to get the handle to move, and he yanked the door open fast.

But before he could close it and shield himself inside, the person lunged at him, and Yuu yelped as he was shoved against the wall. The door slammed shut, keeping them in darkness, and the other person pressed up entirely against him.

“Alright, alright, you got me!” Yuu said, squirming due to the lack of space between them. “Now get off!”

“Did I really scare you, Yuu-chan?” came a familiar voice, and Yuu froze, eyes widening.

“Mika!?” Yuu gaped. “Why the hell are you here? This is for my class only!”

“I got permission to partake,” Mika admitted, though Yuu couldn’t see his face or anything. It was completely dark in the closet that they managed to cram themselves into. “The others are around the school, terrorizing the first-years as well.”

“That’s cruel,” Yuu protested, “but clever, I guess.”

“We got the Black Magic Club to work with us,” Mika added, a soft laugh escaping his lips. “So who knows where they are right now.”

“Great,” Yuu huffed as he rolled his eyes, though Mika couldn’t see him. “So can we get out of here? I need to find my team. I feel bad for letting Mitsuba run off with those two. She’s probably crying by now.”

“Ah? Uh, sure, give me a second…” Mika shuffled around, though after a moment of pause, he fell still and quiet. Yuu waited, though not hearing anything had his suspicions rising again.

“Mika?” Yuu questioned.

“It’s… uhm. We’re stuck.” Mika’s voice was small and awkward.

“What!?” Yuu barked out. “What do you mean? Do closets even have the capability to lock themselves!?”

“I-I don’t know,” Mika admitted, “but I think when I jumped at you I caused some props to fall, and… they might have fallen against the door. It won’t budge.”

“Let me try-” Yuu insisted, but in the process of trying to move closer to the door, he only pressed himself up against Mika. He couldn’t see a thing, but he suddenly felt Mika’s breath against his ear, and he yelped as heat flooded into his cheeks. “Um, nevermind, I-I guess we just have to wait until someone comes this way…”

“I-I guess,” Mika mimicked, his voice shaky and uncertain. Yuu shifted around, trying to find somewhere else to stand that wasn’t right up against Mika, but there was nowhere to go. When he tried to back up, he stepped against something and lost his footing, causing him to grasp onto Mika’s arms tightly to refrain from hurting himself. This caused them to practically be hugging, and Yuu’s heart sped up rapidly.

“Sorry…!” Yuu gasped, beyond flustered now that this was happening. God, he hoped they weren’t stuck here for much longer. He wasn’t sure how long he could handle being pressed up against Mika like this, with no end in sight. The air between them was tense and hot, and Yuu wasn’t sure which heartbeat he heard pounding in his ears… but it was deafening. The urge to say something about his feelings was there, thrumming in his veins, but… how the hell was he supposed to start?

“Hey, Yuu-chan…” Mika spoke up first, luckily for Yuu, but at the same time his anxiety only grew worse. The anticipation to know what Mika had to say about that day had been clouding Yuu’s mind for weeks now. “I, uh… I’ve wanted to talk to you for awhile now, about… something.”

“Something?” Yuu echoed, his heart beginning to race faster. He wished he could see Mika’s face, but without any light, he could hardly make out Mika’s outline. His fingers tightened in the fabric of Mika’s costume, which embarrassed him, but there was hardly anywhere else for him to put his arms without making things even more awkward.

“Yeah,” Mika went on shakily. His breath was warm against Yuu’s lips, eliciting a small shiver from him, and he tried to prevent a blush from rising even though Mika couldn’t see it to begin with. “These weeks spent with the Host Club, with everyone together… they’ve been the best in my life.”

“Really?” Yuu asked softly, a sudden ache settling in his chest. He always assumed Mika had it all, since he was rich and much have gotten everything he desired… but he had always noticed how tightly Mika clutched onto his friends, and how… lonely he appeared to be sometimes.

“Mmhm,” Mika confirmed quietly. “I never really had friends growing up, as I told you before, so this club really means the world to me. I know you joined… not necessarily because you wanted to, but because we bribed you, and I sorta feel bad about it now. Yuu-chan, can you be honest with me…? Do you… do you actually like being a host?”

Yuu was shocked. That was not what he was expecting to hear at all. Compared to their first meeting, when Yuu was practically dragged into his job unwillingly… and considering how Mika was the reason for his entry… he didn’t think Mika would be insecure about something like this. But it seemed his grandiose declarations and flashy personality was all an act, and that deep down inside, he was nervous about everything falling apart on him.

No wonder he pushed so hard to ensure everything continued to be fun every single day. He knew his time with the club was limited, and so he wanted to make the most of this carefree life until he was thrust into the real world again.

Yuu frowned as he thought about his answer. It was obvious, but he wanted to word it perfectly as to not hurt Mika’s feelings. “It’s… well. Being a host is not the sort of thing I thought I’d be doing in high school. You know I don’t even like girls that way, and so it was truthfully my last choice to be surrounded by a ton of hot guys who say corny things to girls every afternoon over tea.”

“Aha… I see,” Mika said, sounding a little sad, but Yuu pushed on.

“Though I’ve gotten to know all of you,” Yuu continued, eyes glimmering with honesty in the dim light shining through the crack of the closet door. It wasn’t enough for Mika to see him clearly, but now that their eyes were adjusting they could just faintly see each other. “I see now that you’re not just a bunch of airheaded morons flexing your masculinity for the girls to drool over. You’re all… you’re all doing this to make people smile, to give girls a place to flirt and have fun without getting in danger, like they might in other situations. You do this for yourselves, to dress up and act out scenarios and… and to have fun with each other, too. You’re all more than the host personas that you chose to be.”

Mika was quiet, processing Yuu’s words, and so Yuu took a moment to collect his thoughts and carry on. “In the beginning, I would have begged for any way out of the Host Club. But now… now, I don’t want to leave. You’re all the only friends who have cared enough to show up at my house during break simply because you missed me. You’ve gone out of your way to give me fancy food and take me to vacation hot-spots simply because I expressed a little interest in going. You’ve all done a lot to make sure I’m safe because of my sexuality, despite not all being gay yourselves.”

“I-I’d like to correct you there,” Mika spoke up hesitantly, which caught Yuu’s attention. He paused, listening as Mika seemed to ponder his words. “Uh. None of us are straight…”

“Huh?” Yuu furrowed his brows. “I-I mean, Kimizuki told me he was gay, and that Rene is ace and Lacus is bi… I’ve got some assumptions about Gekkoin and Yoichi, but that leaves… you.”

There was a pause, and Yuu held his breath, waiting to hear what Mika’s response would be. He had been dying to know the truth of Mika’s preferences for ages now, but it never had the chance to come up until now. And there, finally, Mika gave his answer.

“I’m just like you,” Mika said, so soft that even if anyone was listening outside the doors, they wouldn’t have heard him. “I love and appreciate women for many reasons, but not because I’m attracted to them. It’s just another thing that makes me an outcast, I guess.”

Yuu was always confused about Mika’s comments about Yuu being cute, about his apparent embarrassment around Yuu in states of undress, and his protectiveness of Yuu… but being the leader of such a club, and someone who spoke so highly of loving women in the beginning, Yuu always got mixed signals from Mika. Now, hearing it from his own mouth cleared Yuu’s doubts, and he swallowed slowly as the pieces gradually clicked into place.

“Oh,” was Yuu’s intelligent response, and he immediately felt silly for not having anything better to say. He finally got himself together to ask a little bit more about Mika’s private life. “So… are you out to anyone? Besides me?”

“The others know,” Mika said, clearly referring to the hosts, “but no one else.”

Yuu briefly wondered about Mika’s family. He knew nothing about them besides the fact that his mother might not be around anymore… but everything else about Mika’s past and family was shrouded in mystery. He itched to ask him about it, but he knew those sorts of conversations were supposed to come naturally. He certainly didn’t want to push Mika to vent about it when they were trapped in a tiny, dark closet on Halloween.

“That brings me to how I feel… about-” Mika began to say, but then, he paused when there was a sound just outside their door. He shifted and began pounding his fist against the door. “Hey, is someone out there!? Help us, we’re stuck!”

Yuu quickly realized what was happening and he also started to knock his knuckles against the door. “Help! Let us out!”

Though they probably sounded like they were part of the Halloween act, for their calls for help only caused the people walking by to scream and run away at full speed. Yuu let out a groan of exasperation, and Mika similarly sulked as they realized their only chance of escape had just slipped through their fingers.

“We’ll never get out at this rate,” Yuu remarked as he slouched. “We might have to stay here all night.”

His statement was met with silence, and Yuu readjusted himself, though he was still pressed up close to Mika. Slowly, Mika’s arms settled around Yuu’s waist, and Yuu’s pulse quickened from the intimate position.

“I wouldn’t mind that,” Mika confessed quietly, which caused Yuu to tense and flush red. He wasn’t sure what that was supposed to imply, but considering how his sexuality was just revealed added with how he had been acting towards Yuu all this time… it made Yuu’s mind spin and his heart race with the possibilities now coming to light.

With quivering hands, Yuu ducked his eyes down (as if Mika could see them to begin with) and took in a deep breath. “Mika, I-I need to know. Do you… do you like-”

But then, the door handle began to shake, and Yuu flinched as he was torn away from his heated, flustered thoughts.

“Yuu? Is that you in there?” a familiar voice asked from the other side, and Yuu quickly recognized it as Kimizuki.

“Yeah, it’s me!” Yuu called back, just as the door was pulled open. Moonlight flooded into the closet, along with the glare of a flashlight, and there stood Kimizuki and Shinoa right behind him. She grinned knowingly when she saw the color on his face combined with the sight of Mika right behind him, and the two stumbled out as they finally had room to breathe again.

“We thought we’d never get out!” Mika confessed with a nervous laugh. “We were in there for ages!”

“We heard all the commotion a few minutes ago, so we came to investigate who did the scaring,” Kimizuki told them. “We didn’t think it’d be you two, just asking to be let out of the closet.”

Shinoa snorted at the many implications from those words alone, and Yuu’s ears burned hotly with embarrassment.

“Let’s get going,” Yuu insisted, wanting to move past the teasing. He was shaking slightly from the fact that he almost just confessed in there… to Mika, of all people. “I gotta find Mitsuba. She’s probably stuck with those two.”

“Oh, Mii-chan?” Shinoa perked up at the sound of her name. “My dearest childhood friend, trapped in such a predicament? She absolutely hates scary stuff! I must go with you and comfort her!”

Hearing that had Yuu’s eyes widening. Mitsuba mentioned something about liking a childhood friend in that way. Who else would it be besides…? He stared at the lavender-haired girl, but Shinoa only looked back at him with her head tilted to the side, eyebrows arched with curiosity. Yuu broke their eye contact, deciding that now was not the time to ponder how she might feel about Mitsuba.

“Right,” Yuu murmured. “Well, follow me. I think she went this way.”

They set off together to try and find Mitsuba by tracing Yuu’s steps and, once reaching where they were all last together, going the other way down the hall. It turned out that Mitsuba ended up stuck in a room with Lacus and Rene, who continued to tease her with scary stories, and she all but leapt into Shinoa’s arms when they found her.

And for that reason, Team A of the courage competition were the losers. Lacus vehemently argued that it wasn’t their fault that they were picked on by the Host Club, but the rules were the rules, and they all ended up on the front paper as the biggest scaredy-cats in Ouran Academy.

All the excitement of the event died down as the bitter cold of November crept in, but Yuu couldn’t forget about what he was about to ask in that closet, cooped up with Mika on Halloween night.

Do you like me, too?

It was such a simple question, but Yuu couldn’t bear to bring it up again. The embarrassment would eat him alive. But they had gotten so close to finally facing their feelings, and Yuu was worried that there was already enough context before their interruption to make it clear what he was going to ask.

For that reason, Yuu wondered if it was Mika who should address the elephant in the room. Even though Yuu was going to confess, he’d be damned if he would let himself get to that point again. When else would they be alone like that ever again? It wasn’t an everyday occurance.

Most importantly… where did they go from here…?

Chapter Text

Despite the bitter cold and brutal, sharp winds of winter outdoors, causing the students to shiver, a warm atmosphere welcomed guests inside Music Room #3. The hosts inside greeted their customers with gentle, charming smiles as they dressed in late Edo era samurai costumes, colored a sky blue over gray hakama trousers. The bright colors contrasted the bleak gray of the clouds above, tricking their guests into thinking it was already spring again.

“Mikaela-kun!” One girl rushed over to Mika almost as soon as she walked inside. Her eyes gleamed with an unusual level of excitement. “You’re dressed as Sakamoto Ryoma, right?”

“He’s so wild and handsome!” A friend beside her added with an impassioned voice. Mika posed elegantly with a katana sword resting against his side, and he turned a mischievous smile to the girls in question.

“Yeah,” he confirmed their suspicions with a husky tone, eyes gleaming playfully, “and I’m gon’ make sure I get your hearts, too.”

“Mikaela-kun, it’s so fantastic when you speak in Tosa dialect!” The girls squealed over his unusual speech.

Yuu, meanwhile, thought it just sounded weird. He squinted at the display and secretly wished he never had to hear Mika speak like that again. With a small sigh, he looked down at his own costume, noticing the white-trimmed sleeves of the yukata. He didn’t realize this type of cosplay would turn out to be so popular. Apparently, more girls than he could imagine were maniacal fans of the Shinsengumi, for according to these fans, the Shinsengumi were gallant and gave their young lives to the sake of their country. They lived by the bushido code, stoic and refusing to stray from their righteous path. Moreover…

… Yuu looked over as he saw Rene and Lacus, wrapped up in each other’s arms as Rene begged Lacus not to die quite yet. Girls cheered and blushed over the scene, projecting whichever historical couple they fancied onto the two, and Yuu put the rest of the pieces together himself. There must have been a lot of homoerotic possibilities in a world where men stayed together and valued their incredibly intimate bonds with each other more often than the modern era.

Despite Mika’s words from before confirming that he was Sakamoto Ryoma, they were advised by Shinoa not to cast themselves in any specific role, for she said it would be better for the guests to fantasize for themselves who the hosts were supposed to be. For that reason, Mika agreed to any identity his guests gave to him. In fact, a moment later, Yuu heard Mika agreeing to a different guest’s assumption of who he was dressed as.

With a small sigh, Yuu sat down in a nearby chair and relaxed, letting his mind drift elsewhere as the guests became comfortable with the role-play setting.

“Yuu-kun as Okita Soji is perfect…!” one girl sighed dreamily as she gazed at Yuu’s profile. “He fits in as the handsome, evanescent young swordsman…!”

“No, Yuu-kun, don’t die!” Another girl cried, but their words fell on deaf ears. In that moment, Yuu was spacing out as he remembered that the supermarket was having a bargain sale on pork. He wondered if he could make it there in time after his club duties…

Meanwhile, another cluster of girls wondered about Gekkoin’s role. While staring at him with round, sparkling eyes, they speculated together. “He has to be Shimada Kai, huh?”

“No, Yamazaki-san would be better…” another girl argued.

“My dark horse choice for Gekkoin would be Soma-san,” chimed in a third guest.

Suddenly, Gekkoin shot to his feet and twirled the speared staff in his hand, then pointed its sharp end directly at the door. The swift and deadly movement caused the girls to gasp and watch with amazement, and everyone’s attention went to the person who he reacted so strongly against.

There, at the door, stood… a man. His eyes were not wide with surprise, but rather narrowed with challenge, and he glared up at Gekkoin with a light flush across his cheeks. His chestnut-brown hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail, and he seemed to fidget for a moment before suddenly bowing his head down in respect.

“Senpai,” the student said shakily, “please take me on as your apprentice!”

Gekkoin stared down at the student with total confusion. A silence settled over the Host Club, for they were all amazed to hear such a thing so suddenly and so randomly from someone they had never met before. He lowered his weapon and cocked an eyebrow. “Who are you?”

“Narumi Makoto, class 1-A,” the student apparently named Narumi introduced himself stiffly. “I’m the heir to the 3rd-generation head of the Narumi Syndicate… a-and I was enrolled here at the high school level.”

Yuu’s eyes widened- he recognized that family name for sure. They were the most powerful line in the whole Kanto area. Rumor had it that if one’s eyes met with Narumi’s, they would have bad dreams for three months. There was even a story about Narumi bumping shoulders with someone in the hallway… and that student was sent to the hospital. Everyone who attempted to talk back to him were practically sent to their graves!

Students from class 1-A always said that he was the human blizzard, and they all seemed to harbor a pretty intense fear of him. Yuu wondered why a human weapon like himself wanted to become an apprentice of Gekkoin.

“Why?” Gekkoin finally asked, and Narumi took in a deep breath to start talking.

“It’s all because of the way I look,” the student slowly confessed, his eyebrows tensed with clear frustration. He didn’t seem to notice that everyone else was listening in, or if he did notice, he didn’t care enough to stop and wait for a more private moment to speak.

“From the time I was born, my old man would always say I was set to be the greatest gangster of our time, ‘cause of the mean look I had. I was taught how to be a godfather for as long as I can remember.” Narumi raised his brown eyes again to look up at Gekkoin. “Because of that education, nobody ever comes near me. Even my friends don’t get too close anymore. But in reality, I want to hang out with everyone else. I just don’t know how to associate with other people anymore.”

“Poor guy…” Yoichi remarked softly from where he stood just behind Gekkoin.

“That’s why I need you to show me, Gekkoin-senpai,” Narumi went on fervently, hands balled into fists. “How can you be the way you are? As mean-looking as you are- expressionless, unspeaking and unsociable, so how is it that you’re able to get those who are around you to like you so much?” He stepped further inside the club, causing Gekkoin to take a surprised step back. Gekkoin might have even been offended by the way Narumi just described him; they weren’t necessarily positive things, after all. “Please, teach me your secrets!”

Gekkoin didn’t answer, which clearly caused Yoichi to notice his strange expression. He likely sensed the way Narumi’s words might have come off as well. Concerned, he tugged on Gekkoin’s sleeve sweetly and gave him a sweet pout. “Gekkoin, are you okay?”

“I’m a little lightheaded,” Gekkoin admitted to Yoichi. But he clearly didn’t have an answer for Narumi, and the air between them was quickly turning tense and uncomfortable. Not willing to let their club activities be soiled, Shinoa was the one to step up and greet Narumi with an understanding smile.

“There may be many points of difference between you and Gekkoin-senpai, but there is one definitive thing you’re lacking,” Shinoa said to him. She caught Narumi’s attention and smiled knowingly, then gestured to Yoichi. “Gekkoin-senpai may have a mean look, and he may give off a feeling of iciness at first glance. But with Yoichi-san by his side, it’s almost like he’s a teddy bear that little animals are fond of. You see, Yoichi-san’s presence plays up Gekkoin-senpai’s tight-lipped character. Even without saying anything, just by placing Yoichi-san with him, people discover a tolerance for Gekkoin-senpai all on their own, and they are left with a positive interpretation of him as a nice, quiet young man. That’s the plan.”

Narumi looked shocked at this explanation as he peered down at the lavender-haired girl. Feeling proud of herself, Shinoa combed her fingers through a lock of silky hair, then pushed it over her shoulder haughtily as she continued. “It’s no exaggeration to say that Gekkoin-senpai’s charm was first established once Yoichi-san was there. However, Yoichi-san cannot be separated from Gekkoin-senpai, so that cannot be helped!”

Then what was the point of that entire rant…? Yuu thought with a grimace as Shinoa laughed to herself. It seemed she wasn’t finished, for she went on to elaborate on another point.

“The next thing to address is your fashion,” Shinoa said, pointedly looking up-and-down at his unbuttoned uniform. “Here, come with me! Let’s discuss what you could do…”

“Ah… alright,” Narumi muttered with a glance in Gekkoin’s direction. The girls watching all crowded around Gekkoin, admiring him for the way he handled the situation despite barely speaking at all. They seemed to be in awe of his aura and how he listened so earnestly to Narumi’s plea. Meanwhile, Yuu followed Shinoa and Narumi, for he was worried that she would come up with something embarrassing for the poor guy to wear. After all, she was always trying to force Yuu into frilly dresses and animal costumes, so who knows what tricks she had hidden up her sleeve.

“Narumi,” Yuu called out once he reached his side. “You’re better off not putting too much faith into what she says…”

“Who are you?” Narumi asked, eyes narrowed with suspicion. Yuu smiled kindly at him.

“Yuuichirou, but call me Yuu,” he introduced himself. “I’m also a 1st year and was admitted in high school. I guess that makes us the same!”

Narumi stared at Yuu, speechless for a moment before he suddenly asked, “D-Do you like playing kick the can?”

Yuu was taken aback by the random question, but he might as well answer honestly. “Well… if I had to say, I’m probably not too interested.” He paused as he recalled playing with the club, and how that lead into getting lost in the rose maze with Mika. The memory brought a light blush to his cheeks paired with a small, timid smile. Gently, he admitted, “Still, it might be fun to play once in a while.”

Narumi stared at Yuu, eyes widening as his face began to color. Yuu looked right back at him, wondering if he said something to offend him, but then Shinoa appeared again after seemingly disappearing for some time. Yuu hadn’t even noticed that she was gone until she was back again, a devious smirk on her lips.

“I’ve decided on a strategy for your lovely new image,” Shinoa declared. Without further ado, she pulled out a headband and, after leaning up onto her tiptoes, fastened it to Narumi’s head. Yuu’s eyes widened as he stared at the cat ears now on top of Narumi’s head, perky and fluffy and adorable despite the contrasting glare in Narumi’s eyes. “Kitty ears are the do-it-all lovely item…” Then, she paused as her eyes lit up with a new idea. “I’ve got it! You would look much better if you were not only a kitty, but a maid as well!”

“Are you making fun of me?” Narumi grit his teeth as he glared down defensively at Shinoa. But before she could respond, another unusual person peered inside the music room, his blue eyes searching the clusters of people all around.

“Excuse me, has anyone here seen someone named Makoto Narumi stop by…?” he asked, but before anyone could answer him, his eyes settled on the one he was looking for.

Narumi’s face colored a bright red as the other student, who Yuu knew as Shuusaku, stared at his cat ears.

“I’m sorry,” Shuusaku flatly said, clearly trying to contain a smile, “I didn’t mean to interrupt your private pastime.”

“Who are you saying has a private pastime!?” Narumi hollered in response, his face only getting redder and redder. “Dammit!”

After flinging the cat ears to the ground, Narumi took off with Shuusaku following close behind. Yuu watched the door close with a frown. He didn’t think Narumi needed an image change in the end, and he wondered when Narumi would realize that.

Determined, Yuu rushed out of the room and went after them. He didn’t want Narumi to have the wrong idea about everything- Shinoa was a trickster, but he might have actually gotten hurt by her jokes.

He heard Shuusaku’s voice down a hallway, but after hearing Yuu’s footsteps, he fell silent. Yuu froze and hid behind a wall, hoping that the sound of his labored breathing was quiet enough to go unnoticed.

“Shuusaku, you’re…?” Narumi said, so quiet and hesitant, as if he couldn’t believe what he had just heard. Yuu clearly missed the beginning of the conversation, but he stayed still as he listened to what Shuusaku was saying. He didn’t want to eavesdrop, but it seemed like a bad time to interrupt them and clear a misunderstanding.

“I’m sorry for not telling you earlier,” Shuusaku went on, seemingly convinced that he didn’t have to have their conversation elsewhere despite his brief silence. “I’m… Shuusaku Iwasaki, son of the godfather of the Kanto branch of the Iwasaki Syndicate.”

Even Yuu held his breath at this revelation. Who would have thought that Ouran actually had another yakuza student enrolled in the same year!? Shuusaku went on after Narumi failed to respond with anything other than a soft gasp. “I have long been opposed to the any-means-necessary methods of the Iwasaki Syndicate, and on a rainy day one year ago, I got into a big blow-up with my father and ran away from home.”

“That day…” Narumi spoke softly, as if remembering something important about the day Shuusaku spoke of.

“Yeah, that day… I’d never felt as anxious before as I did then,” Shuusaku went on, voice gentle as if speaking to a frightened child. “I had nowhere to go, and everyone else along the street just passed by me, as though they couldn’t even see me. And just then… you stopped and offered me your umbrella, of all things. Ma-chan, you’re exactly the sort of person I thought you’d be when I first saw you.”

Ma-chan? Yuu blinked in surprise at such a cute name coming from one yakuza heir to another.

Shuusaku continued, since he received no answer. “When I went to join up with the Narumi Syndicate, you accepted me with kindness. I know… Ma-chan, I know that you’re more self-conscious and awkward than most people, and yet… you’re warmer than most people. And it’s not just me, everyone in the syndicate knows. They just don’t say anything since it would embarrass you.”

There was a pause before Shuusaku went on. “I wished to be someone like you, so I cut ties with the Iwasaki Syndicate and cosigned myself to make my home amongst the Narumi Syndicate. Please… allow me to remain at your side, Ma-chan, from here on out as well. And trust me when I say you don’t need to change what you look like… you can go to the Host Club if you want, but don’t go asking for an image change or anything like that. You’re perfect the way you are.”

Yuu’s face heated up as he slowly stepped back towards Music Room #3. He had a feeling they were talking too intimately for Yuu to be listening in on, but he was relieved to hear Shuusaku say that Narumi didn’t need to change his image. He heard enough to know that Shuusaku was a very dear and trusted person in Narumi’s life, one who would help Narumi take the right steps to become more sociable.

He didn’t expect to see Narumi back at the Host Club again, in that case.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Except… Narumi showed up to the Host Club the very next day.

This time, it didn’t seem to be because of Gekkoin or any sort of desire to be his apprentice. No, in fact… no one knew why he came right off the bat.

“It’s Narumi-san, from class A,” murmured a student from one table. “I heard he tried to make himself Gekkoin-kun’s apprentice.”

“Narumi isn’t going to be a host, is he?” Speculated a different guest. All eyes were on Narumi as he went inside and sat down on a pink loveseat, his cheeks burning red. Then, he looked around until he met Yuu’s eyes.

“I-I’d like to request Yuu,” Narumi said at last, and his words caused an uproar.

“What is this!?” A girl gasped with excitement. “What’s going on?”

Shinoa joined their excitement with her bright brown, glinting eyes and a wide smirk. “Has he at last arrived?”

Neither Narumi or Yuu had any idea what they were talking about, but a request was a request no matter how strange it seemed. Yuu quickly gathered himself and walked towards him with the tray of tea he had prepared before. He was going to bring it to a few girls sitting off alone together, but they hadn’t asked for it so he could make more tea for them later. For now, this would do for the two of them.

“Narumi, welcome,” Yuu said as he put on a gentle, friendly smile characteristic of his host persona. “You’re our guest today, right?” He sat down on the loveseat next to Narumi, who suddenly flushed and scooted a bit farther away from Yuu. It was a bit weird, but Yuu didn’t bother questioning it.

“Y-Yeah,” Narumi confirmed awkwardly. It was true that they never got male guests, so his presence was causing quite the commotion. But no matter how unusual the visit was, Yuu was going to treat him like he treated any of his guests.

“Is tea alright?” Yuu asked before pouring Narumi’s cup. “You don’t mind something sweet?”

“Here, I’ll help,” Narumi offered but Yuu shook his head and inched the teapot away from him.

“That’s okay, you’re our guest, after all.” Yuu poured the tea and then turned a teasing face to Narumi. “Is this your first time as a guest in this sort of club?” After Narumi flinched and reddened, likely remembering the cat ears he was forced to wear, Yuu grinned mischievously and added, “Just kidding. I remember you.”

“Y-You’ve sure got this host thing down, don’t you?” Narumi muttered while glancing at Yuu nervously.

“I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do at first,” Yuu admitted with a fond, nostalgic expression, “but lately, I’ve figured out that you just have fun and act naturally.”

Their conversation went on, and both were unaware of the way the girls all fawned and sighed over the display before them.

“Look at the expression on his face!” A girl whispered excitedly.

“He’s in love with Yuu-kun!”

Yuu definitely heard all the commotion, but he wasn’t listening closely enough to pick out exactly what they were saying. He noticed that Narumi’s tea was nearly gone, and so he offered, “Would you like another cup?”

“Yes, thank you,” Narumi responded quietly, and after Yuu had finished pouring a cup, a familiar presence appeared at his side. Yuu turned and looked up, surprised to see Mika approaching with an unnaturally pale complexion.

“Mika? What are you doing?” Yuu asked, truly confused as to why he was just standing over them like that. He finally plopped down onto the couch next to Yuu, not saying a word, and so Yuu had to quickly think of some way to deal with this. Suddenly, he remembered a little token he had in his pocket, so he pulled it out and placed it into Mika’s hand.

“Here, if you need something to do, you can have this,” Yuu said. It was a little packaged fidget toy, something that Yuu didn’t think he would need but thought it might come in handy anyways someday. “I got it for free at the supermarket where I bought the instant coffee earlier.”

But before he could even continue talking to Narumi, Mika turned to him with the rings now separated. “Look, I solved the puzzle rings, Yuu-chan.”

“That sure was fast,” Yuu murmured, a little surprised that his tactic to distract Mika failed. “Okay then, please try to attach them again.”

Though, regardless of his efforts to keep entertaining Mika with the toy, the princely host refused to budge or go anywhere else. Noticing the awkward tension, Narumi decided to speak up.

“Y-Yuu…” Narumi said hesitantly while glancing between the two hosts. He must have decided it was time to just get to the point. “Listen, would it be okay for me to come here again? I mean, I was just thinking, rather than entertaining just girls, maybe it would be a relief to have someone come in once in a while who could just… chat.” Narumi fell silent, and Yuu stared at him with surprise. No one had ever offered to come for the sake of hanging out with Yuu. He was so shocked that he didn’t say anything, and so Narumi became flustered and went on.

“Uh, I mean, if I’m not bothering you…” Narumi added cautiously. But then, Yuu snapped out of his initial surprise and gave Narumi an honest, warm smile.

“I’d be thrilled,” he said sweetly, failing to notice the way Mika flinched beside him. “It would let us become closer, Narumi. It’s nice to have a friend who shares the same values, huh? I haven’t had many friends that I could talk to like this. It would be nice to have a friend like you.”

“He got shot down, huh…” a girl remarked off to the side.

“He couldn’t even confess his love… and got told that they were just friends,” another guest responded.

“That’s just like being told, ‘let’s just be good friends,’ after announcing your love to someone,” observed another.

“That poor guy…!” A few guests sighed longingly.

Still unaware of their comments, Narumi perked up and enthusiastically said, “W-We’ll be friends forever! You and me, right?”

“Mhm!” Yuu agreed lightly, though he wondered why Narumi was speaking with such intensity after they had barely known each other for a few days. Either way, he seemed nice enough, and he did need some new friends. Yuu didn’t mind in the end.

“How moving…!” The girls watching all cried out, tears sparkling in their eyes, and before anyone could react, they all charged over and surrounded Narumi and Yuu. Narumi seemed shocked from their attention, though such ridiculous things happened often in the Host Club, so Yuu wasn’t particularly taken aback.

He knew there was some sort of commotion going on around them the entire time, though he hadn’t bothered to listen closely. He stood back slightly as the girls overwhelmed Narumi.

“We’ll be your friends, too!”

“That was magnificent!”

“Thanks for the moe!”

Even the other hosts began joining in, showering praise and love all over Narumi as if he had just done something particularly incredible.

“We’ll be your friends, too!” Lacus offered with misty eyes, grabbing Rene’s arm, though the other host seemed less enthusiastic. “Let’s play kick the can together!”

“I’m your senpai, but I’ll be your friend!” Yoichi offered as he leaned over the back of the loveseat. He shoved his stuffed rabbit in Narumi’s face, probably a little too roughly and suddenly to be pleasant. “You can borrow Usa-chan!”

Sighing, Yuu inched aside until he practically bumped into Mika, who also got up during all the chaos and distanced himself from the crowd. As he turned to look at Mika, he noticed a strangely distant look in his eyes, and so Yuu frowned in response. “What’s the matter, Mika?”

“Nothing, I’m just thinking about the way Narumi is feeling… and my heart aches a little,” Mika admitted quietly, and he looked distantly at Narumi’s profile.

“That’s strange,” Yuu replied with furrowed brows. “There shouldn’t be any reason for you to have your heart ache with sympathy towards him.”

“I guess not,” Mika murmured, eyes downcast. But his sadness didn’t last long. He gathered himself long enough to suddenly perk up and announce that they would all do icebreakers to get to know Narumi better and make him feel more welcomed in the club. It was expected for him to as much, since he was their leader, after all.

Off to the side, Yoichi sat beside Gekkoin as he watched Mika’s expressions, eyes as sharp as a hawk’s. Mika insisted on sitting next to Yuu during their icebreaker activities, and his arm rested against the back of Yuu’s chair, very close to touching his shoulders.

“At this rate, I wonder if there will be any developments between those two before we graduate,” Yoichi remarked, turning his attention away from them and up to Gekkoin.

The stoic host was looking at the pair as well, expression complex and calculating. “Who can say?”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“Welcome!”

Guests of all sorts stepped inside Music Room #3, intrigued and excited for what sorts of surprises would come their way that chilly December afternoon. Arranged all around the room were what looked like low tables, but extending from their edges was a thick blanket that reached the floor. Atop the tables were fruits and green tea, steaming and ready to drink.

“My, what is that… unfamiliar-looking piece of furniture?” one girl whispered to her friend, eyeing one of the tables on the ground.

“That’s a kotatsu, if my memory is correct,” her friend responded.

“Oh, is that what those are?” She looked down at the kotatsu with rounded, intrigued eyes. “It’s my first time seeing one.”

“Me, too,” her friend nodded along. “Normally, kotatsu are only used during winter, so it makes sense that they’re here now.”

“Since it’s now December, we would like you ladies to enjoy the home-style kotatsu service of the Host Club members today,” Mika responded to them with a welcoming tone. He gestured to the tables encouragingly, and the girls all began to advance to their chosen kotatsu with eager smiles.

As Gekkoin poured tea for the guests at his table, Yuu hung back for a while beside Kimizuki, who was silently observing behind the glare of his glasses. The hosts were spread out between the various kotatsu set-ups in the room, chatting happily with clusters of relaxed girls.

“Is sitting under a kotatsu really all that fun?” Yuu asked Kimizuki offhandedly. He had always had one in his home growing up; it hardly seemed like an experience that deserved an entire event dedicated to it.

“They sure are a hit,” Kimizuki responded with a shrug.

“Is providing kotatsu service like this one of Mika’s ideas?” Yuu glanced to where Mika sat, then back up at Kimizuki.

“Yeah.” Kimizuki didn’t say anything else, so Yuu turned to him and squinted with a tiny pout. Noticing his disgruntled expression, Kimizuki looked at him from the corner of his eye. “What? Do you not like this?”

“No, it’s fine,” Yuu said with a weary tone, eyeing Kimizuki suspiciously. “But you don’t seem to like much of what the Host Club does. Like right now, you’re just watching. Didn’t you found this club with Mika? Why aren’t you more excited?”

“Yeah, I helped found it, and I enjoy it. Why do you doubt it?” Kimizuki retorted, eyebrow arched.

“It’s just... why would someone like you agree to run something as crazy as the Host Club?” Yuu pressed, genuinely wanting to know why Kimizuki put up with all the chaos when he seemed like he’d rather be doing absolutely anything else most of the time. Though, to Yuu’s surprise, Kimizuki’s eyes softened with fondness as he looked at Mika from across the room.

“Because it was so crazy,” Kimizuki answered simply, and then left Yuu alone to think about that answer. He joined a few girls at a kotatsu unoccupied by a host. What did he mean by that? Yuu tilted his head, assuming that Kimizuki was secretly into things like thriller films and haunted houses. Perhaps he was the kind of person who was bored with daily life and needed crazy things to entertain himself.

Yuu only pondered it for a moment longer before heading off to his own kotatsu. It was always difficult for him to tell if Kimizuki was enjoying himself as well… but whatever the reason, it seemed evident that he found it a worthwhile effort in the end.

Not much time passed before Yuu was lost in conversation with the girls at his kotatsu. Things were going well- they were rosy-cheeked and smiling, clearly having fun with Yuu. Just as they were running out of things to say, Mika decided to approach and take a seat right beside Yuu. His gesture was random, but suspiciously well-timed.

“Mikaela-kun, you’re really clingy to Yuu-kun lately,” remarked the girl sitting across from them, her eyes glinting with curiosity. “He’s hardly left alone with us anymore.”

“You’re right!” Gasped her friend from beside her. “Yuu-kun sitting by himself is a rare sight! Mikaela-kun is always there.”

Hearing this had Yuu’s cheeks reddening, and he looked down at his lap, unsure of what to say. Mika was the one who should handle this…

“I’m just making sure he’s not getting teased too much by you ladies,” Mika responded easily, giving them a playful wink. At the same time, he slid an arm around Yuu’s waist, causing Yuu’s eyes to widen and his skin to heat up from the unexpected contact. He gasped lightly as Mika tilted his head, lips brushing against Yuu’s hair as he went on. “Besides, I’m the one who loves to tease him the most. Isn’t that right, Yuu-chan?”

“I always forget that he calls Yuu-kun by that adorable name!” The girls squealed and gushed over the affectionate display before them. Meanwhile, Yuu was quickly becoming overheated (he blamed the kotatsu), and so he shot up and cleared his throat loudly.

“I-I’ll go get us more snacks!” Yuu blurted out with a nervous laugh, then nearly tripped over his own feet on his way over there. Being so close to Mika made him flighty before, but now… now, it felt like his heart would beat its way right out of his chest. His feelings for Mika had never been stronger, and they seemed to just keep on growing with every passing day.

The only way to calm down was to put space between them, but even that didn’t always work. Then, Yuu was just left alone with his thoughts, which manifested into ridiculous daydreams of things that had Yuu blushing to his ears. It was like he could never escape from these emotions.

Even if he theoretically had a chance… why wasn’t Mika saying anything? After their time alone in the rose maze, and then the closet… the questions were right on the tip of Yuu’s tongue. Mika seemed so confident and proud usually, but when it came to Yuu, it was like the charming host forgot how to speak properly. Yuu could just make the first move, but he was terrified of the rejection he might get. Just because they were both gay didn’t mean it was guaranteed to work out.

Doubt clouded Yuu’s mind, but he did his best to believe in Mika. Except… he had been doing that for ages now, and it was starting to get tiring.

Fine. If he doesn’t say anything by Christmas, then I’ll confess first. Yuu made the decision in his head as he prepared the next round of tea and gathered a plate of pastries. He couldn’t let this hang over him forever, like some sort of heavy, dark cloud of anxiety and uncertainty. He had to clear things up before it got even worse, especially if this was all one huge misunderstanding and Mika had no feelings for him whatsoever.

The sooner, the better. Christmas was in 2 weeks, and then the term would end for break. If Mika was going to reject him, there would be enough time off for Yuu to grieve over his broken heart and to recover without having to deal with seeing Mika, or doing any sort of Host Club duties.

And in the… surprising event that his feelings were reciprocated, then they could spend time together over break going on dates, and maybe they could even be together during the New Year.

The thought of holding hands with Mika as they walked around the city at night, illuminated by Christmas lights… it caused Yuu’s heart to pound even harder. He wanted nothing more, as embarrassing as it was to admit, even to himself. Such a simple thing caused him to fluster like a girl.

Maybe they could share scarves, too…

“Yuu-chan, do you have the snacks ready?” Mika called out, interrupting Yuu’s daze suddenly and causing him to flinch. Yuu was glad that the tray was still on the table, for if he was holding it in that moment, he surely would have dropped it and spilled everything all over the floor.

“Coming!” Yuu responded as he shook the thoughts free of his mind. He could think about potential dates with Mika later. For now, all he knew for sure was that he was going to tell Mika about his feelings on Christmas, before they all went home.

Christmas was the day Yuu would find out once and for all.

Chapter Text

Bright, colorful strings of lights were lined up all over Ouran Academy. Glowing bulbs of blue, red and green speckled the architecture both inside and out, spreading Christmas Cheer everywhere. Snow covered the rooftops, causing the lights to glow softly beneath the white, frosty layer. Inside, the academy was bustling with all sorts of people for the 43rd annual Ouran School Fair, held on Christmas Eve. The people, both visitors and students, were dressed in their best outfits. Students showed off their lavish school and all they had accomplished to their equally as pompous parents.

Yuu was wearing an outfit that matched the entire host club, and he had to admit he felt quite elegant in it. An off-white vest over a dark gray button-down, accentuated with a thin, red ribbon tied into a bow in his shirt collar wasn’t something he would have picked out on his own, but he didn’t think he looked bad in it. Completed with black trousers and polished shoes, Yuu felt spiffy enough to blend in with the rest of the overly-lavish visitors here for the fair. At least he wasn’t forced to wear some sort of embarrassing Christmas-themed outfit with a Santa hat or anything like that.

It was chilly to stand outside the main doors of the salon, even with the bright morning sun shining down on them, but he was required to be here and greet the guests alongside Kimizuki until the others arrived. If Yuu didn’t know any better, he’d assume this was some sort of wedding banquet or something equally as over-the-top. It was a very ritzy event, and it seemed like way too much money was being spent on a mere school fair.

Besides… Yuu frowned slightly as he crossed his arms over his chest, aren’t school fairs supposed to be more homemade-looking, like we made everything ourselves?

“You’re talking about schools in general,” Kimizuki responded flatly, causing Yuu to flinch. He hadn’t realized he spoke his thoughts out loud like that, but he couldn’t take it back now. He looked up at Kimizuki with an eyebrow arched questioningly, so Kimizuki elaborated. “What the parents care about is planning and leadership. Most of the students here are expected to be future leaders by nature, so they’re required to impress everyone with their strengths.”

“Oh…” Yuu’s eyebrows furrowed. That sounded like it took all the fun out of school fairs, at least in his opinion, but despite that, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves with their families. It was very impressive that everything, from the food to the layout of the decorations, were planned entirely by the students. He was going to ask about the previous years, but then he got distracted with the sounds of hooves clicking against the pavement accompanied with the chime of jingle bells.

Yuu turned, curious and alarmed, and his jaw dropped when he saw who was holding the reins.

Both Gekkoin and Rene sat in the front, calling out to the horses to slow down as they approached the main doors. Right before his eyes, a horse-drawn carriage came to a stop, and the two horses snorted and bucked their heads briefly before settling down.

“Yuu-kun!” Yoichi called out as he waved an enthusiastic hand from the carriage. He wore a black, hooded capelet lined with fluffy, creamy-colored fur around his shoulders to top off his look.

“Climb aboard, Yuu-chan!” Mika joined him, also waving at Yuu with a broad smile. His eyes glittered and reflected the joyful lights hanging high above the salon doors, and his cheeks were flushed slightly from the cold. His breath fanned out in a little white cloud, and Yuu felt his face warm slightly at the charming sight of his crush.

Plus, Mika looked really good in that outfit… he even had a heavier coat thrown over the ensemble, lined with the same sort of soft fur as Yoichi’s capelet. His heart hammered faster, for he wondered how on earth he’d gather up the courage to actually talk to him like he planned weeks ago. It would probably be much easier if Mika wasn’t so heart-stoppingly beautiful.

“Look, look, it’s the boys from the Host Club!” A girl called out excitedly. “How fantastic!”

“I want to ride with them, too!” Admitted another student who sighed dreamily.

Yuu’s face was still warm, but he snapped out of his initial surprise to respond. “Aren’t you all coming in? It’s cold!”

“Let’s take a ride first!” Mika insisted. “Shinoa’s handling everything inside, so it’ll be fine. Don’t you want to ride in a horse-drawn carriage in this weather? It’s beautiful!”

“Fine, fine,” Yuu caved in quickly, and Kimizuki followed. He wondered why the hell they even had a carriage to begin with, but after being part of the club for so long, he learned to stop questioning everything so much. First, Yuu climbed up onto the red seats of the carriage, and then Kimizuki got on behind him. Lacus and Yoichi sat on one side, and then Mika, Yuu and Kimizuki were snug on the other side. Yuu was pressed in between them, which embarrassed him, since he didn’t realize he’d be so close to Mika when they got in. It was warm and comfortable, and he tried not to get caught staring or blushing too much.

As the horses trotted onwards, Lacus turned around slightly to grin at Rene, who was in the front holding the reins for one horse.

“Hey, you’ve gotten so good at this!” Lacus complimented with a grin.

“You should have practiced with me,” Rene responded cleverly.

“It’s fun to have all of us riding in a carriage like this,” Yoichi said as he relaxed against the seat with a sweet, rosy-cheeked smile. His eyes trailed over their faces as he sighed contentedly. Almost as soon as the words were spoken, the bells in the clock tower chimed, and Mika perked up with excitement. He turned to Yuu with his honest smile, the one that always had Yuu’s heart skipping a beat.

“It’s almost time for the opening ceremony,” Mika informed him. When he spoke, the warmth of his breath fanned across Yuu’s face, his close proximity only deepening Yuu’s blush. To make matters worse, Mika winked and said, “Let’s make this Ouran Fair one for the school history books.”

Mika said that so easily, and yet he had no idea what was on Yuu’s mind. Yuu had planned out every detail of his confession in his mind, but he wondered if it would actually go the way he wanted. Regardless, he was suddenly filled with a warm, optimistic feeling, and he prayed the anxiety would stay away for the remainder of the fair.

Yuu smiled back at Mika, cheeks tinted pink with happiness. “Sure.”

After the carriage was parked in a proper location and the horses were tended to, the Host Club all went to the grand ballroom, where an orchestra played to commemorate the beginning of the fair. Students danced in the center with their parents, and some students even danced with each other. Yuu was glad to see Mitsuba and Shinoa spinning around together, with Mitsuba’s face flushed redder than the dress she wore. As his eyes trailed around the crowds, he saw a bunch of familiar faces; Akane and Kouta were happily dancing together, and off to the side Narumi was surrounded by girls who were regulars at the Host Club. Shuusaku lingered nearby, watching with an amused glint in his eyes.

After a few announcements were made, the clubs all went off to their respective spaces, and parents followed them. Yuu was surprised no one else’s parents had shown up yet from the Host Club with the exception of Shinoa’s father. He wondered if they would come at all, or what their reasons for not attending were.

He didn’t think about it much once he was in the central salon with the rest of the club. Many regular guests were there with their parents to show them what sorts of extracurriculars they attended. The chandelier hung high above their heads, sparkling beautifully and casting the room in a glimmering sort of light.

Yuu pushed along a cart of assorted cakes and parfaits, topped with thin slices of dark chocolate and delicately sliced fruits. They were served on pink china plates with thin, silver forks resting neatly beside each dessert. On the bottom shelf of the cart were pots of tea and hot chocolate.

“Look, Mother, this is the Host Club I’m always telling you about,” said one girl who attended the club regularly. She gushed excitedly to a rather unimpressed woman dressed in a smart business suit. “Isn’t it fantastic?"

“I’m not so sure,” the mother responded, eyes narrowed as she looked over the guests and hosts alike. “To have them be fussed over by all the girls just because they may be good-looking…”

“Indeed, madam,” interrupted the most charming host of all, much to her surprise. Mika was right there, eyes downturned with a hint of humiliation and modesty. “It’s true.” But then, he took her hand and held it gently. Rather than pulling away, she stared at Mika with wide, surprised eyes and lightly flushed cheeks. “After all, the real purpose of this club is nothing more than meeting our selfish desires to spend even the slightest moment with beautiful women such as yourself.”

“O-Oh, my…!” The mother gasped and turned to look at her daughter. “W-What a fantastic club you have here!”

“Thank you very much, madam,” Mika bowed his head respectfully. Yuu couldn’t disagree that Mika’s charisma was incredibly powerful, but that was… almost too easy. He continued to push the cart along, and he came by the table where Yoichi and Gekkoin were seated. Of course, Yoichi was leaning back, cheeks dusted pink as Gekkoin fussed with the buttons of his vest.

“Your button has come undone, Yoichi,” Gekkoin said lowly, fingers carefully adjusting his clothing. Yoichi smiled sweetly in response.

“Thank you!” Yoichi looked so adorable in that moment that it caused a few people watching to gasp and swoon from its affects. Yuu briefly pondered how easy it would be for Yoichi to manipulate people with that sort of innocent-looking expression, and it sent a mild chill down his spine. Yoichi was too powerful.

“How heartwarming!” One mother commented with a misty-eyed gaze as she watched Gekkoin and Yoichi interact. “Are they brothers? What a thoughtful older brother!”

Wrong… Yuu thought with a grimace. With the tension between them, it’d definitely be weird if they were related in any sort of way… plus, they didn’t look alike at all, in Yuu’s opinion.

At another table, Rene and Lacus were making a show out of feeding each other pastries, which many students and (oddly enough) parents alike seemed to be enjoying immensely. Yuu neared Kimizuki, who seemed to be talking to a bunch of suspicious parents about the activities in the club.

“One of our themes is to acquire societal culture, so we are able to research a wide variety of customs pastimes, and historic traditional dress from countries all over on a daily basis,” Kimizuki said, smiling gently at the father who was listening to him. He sounded so refined and sophisticated in comparison to the Kimizuki that Yuu knew, and he scrunched his nose as he passed by.

“Oh, how wonderful!” The father exclaimed, clearly convinced by Kimizuki’s explanation of their fanservice.

What an unashamedly political thing to say, Yuu thought to himself. He rolled his eyes, and as he reached the center of the salon, he finally found someone sitting on their own. She held a pair of opera glasses, which was… an odd sort of thing to carry around, but it somehow fit in well with the atmosphere, so much so that Yuu almost didn’t notice it. Her black-and-white dress contrasted with her pale pink hair, which cascaded down her shoulders in long, silky strands. He had never seen her around here before, so he assumed she must be related to someone at Ouran and came along to see the fair.

“Welcome,” Yuu greeted to her, a tender smile on his face. He gestured to the cart with a brief nod of his head. “Would you like something sweet to eat?”

Her reddish eyes narrowed slightly, and her face remained stoic and statuesque. Yuu was slightly off-put by it, but some people didn’t mean to look so mean; that was just how they looked. Yuu didn’t let her expression startle him too much.

“You’re a member of the Host Club?” she asked, rather than responding to Yuu’s offer.

“Yes,” Yuu nodded with a smile. She eyed the pastries briefly, but before she could answer, a lot of commotion was suddenly started by the entrance of a particular person. Curious, Yuu’s eyes looked to the doors, where an elderly woman stepped inside. He wondered why everyone was making such a fuss when suddenly, Mika was at the front of the crowd, his smile bright and eyes gleaming.

“Grandmother! You came!” He called out, and Yuu’s eyes widened from the realization of who she was. Mika rushed up to her and extended his arm to the interior of the salon. “Come, have a seat inside.”

Though, to Yuu’s shock, the woman disregarded Mika entirely and turned to look at Yuu. He flinched, wondering why she seemed to be looking at him when she said, “Krul-san, come over here.”

After the pink-haired girl Yuu was just speaking to stood up, Yuu realized she was talking to her and not Yuu. His lips parted with surprise and question as the girl, evidently named Krul, stood up and made her way over to Mika and his grandmother.

“For the duration of the school fair, you are to escort Lady Krul Tepes,” she said, not even looking directly at Mika. As Krul approached Mika, she offered Mika a small smile, and Mika looked down at her stonily. His expression barely changed, and his grandmother looked at him with narrowed eyes. The silence lasted a little too long before his grandmother spoke up again. “Is something wrong? I’m telling you to do this.”

“I’m in your hands, Mikaela.” Krul’s eyes glittered as she raised the opera glasses, inspecting Mika’s face through their blue, round lenses. Slowly, Mika’s expression shifted into a gentle, charismatic smile, but Yuu felt his heart tighten. That was his fake, forced smile… and one he only wore when he wasn’t feeling well at all.

“Very well, Grandmother,” Mika responded calmly. “I will do everything within my power to see that she will be happy.”

As questions were spinning in Yuu’s mind, Shinoa appeared from behind Yuu to stand beside him. Her father seemed to be enjoying a dessert while speaking with Kimizuki. She looked up at Yuu with a small frown on her face, which didn’t suit her well at all.

“That’s Krul Tepes,” Shinoa said, quietly enough so only Yuu could hear her, “the only daughter of the renowned Romanian Tepes family, which descends from royalty. They don’t simply have high social standing… they’re the owners of Grand Tepes, the company that the financial world has been clamoring over as of late, for being a foreign-funded firm, rapidly buying up businesses in Japan. But I have no idea why she has come here to see Mika-san…”

Frowning, Yuu watched as Mika walked away, a hand resting on the small of Krul’s back. It made his heart twinge with jealousy and he finally averted his eyes.

“I’m sure he’ll tell us later,” Yuu said dismissively, and then began pushing the cart around once again. He had to ignore the little ache in his heart, at least for now.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Now that the morning had passed and the afternoon activities were in full swing. Many guests went off to attend a luncheon, and meanwhile, Yuu and the other hosts had a quiet break to themselves. They changed into white tailcoat tuxedos with gray vests underneath, and red cravats mirrored the red bows that they all wore with their uniforms that morning. Underneath, a pastel pink shirt finished off the ensemble, and Yuu checked himself out in the mirror. It didn’t look half-bad on him, after all. He felt that this was the nicest he had ever looked during the Christmas season.

Yuu, alongside with the other hosts, approached Music Room #3, intending to go inside and have lunch there. But it seemed the room was already occupied- Yuu slowed down once he heard gentle piano notes coming from inside the room.

When the piano notes silenced into a brief pause, a voice from inside spoke up and asked, “This is the room where you always conduct your Host Club?”

“Yes,” responded another voice. Yuu’s eyes widened- it was Mika, and the other person must be Krul. Hearing the same comments, everyone else came to a stop and stayed silent. Yoichi glanced at the others, a troubled frown on his face. Mika must have been playing the piano for her; perhaps she had requested to hear him play.

“I was watching you in the salon, and you all seem to get along very well,” Krul commented casually.

“That’s because the Host Club is like a family to me,” Mika replied with ease. But Krul didn’t answer, and the notes of the piano started up again. As everyone listened, Yuu looked around at their faces. He briefly met eyes with Lacus, who looked as if he was about to burst inside and interrupt. Though before he could, the notes slowed down again, and Krul spoke up with something else.

“Mikaela, you’re making everyone else suffer because of your capriciousness, aren’t you?”

Hearing the sudden question caused Yuu to sharply gasp. Kimizuki grit his teeth and angrily stepped forward, but Yoichi held out his arm to prevent him from storming in there. But no one was watching Yuu, who suddenly grabbed the doorknob and turned it. The sound alerted Krul and Mika.

“Who is it?” Mika called out. Yuu glanced apologetically to the others, but then pushed the door open and stepped inside with a tense expression. Krul was sitting on a loveseat, tilting her head back to look at their visitors, and Mika was seated at the piano bench in the corner. He looked stunning, illuminated by the crisp white light that reflected off the snow. It shone in from the large windows, casting rectangles across the polished floor.

“We were wondering where you were,” Yuu said, lifting his chin high as he glanced at Krul a little too pointedly. “It’s break time for the hosts now.”

“Oh, my apologies,” Krul said with a small smile, one that certainly wasn’t kind. “Mikaela belongs to me right now… though you seem to be jealous.”

Yuu flinched as an icy feeling of shock stabbed through his heart. His eyes widened and he parted his lips, for he wasn’t sure what to say. Instead, he clenched his fists and pointed at the two of them. “You’re not being responsible, Mika! Ordinarily, I might call it capriciousness, but-”

“Let’s give him a pass,” Kimizuki dismissed curtly, shooting a sharp look at Yuu. “It was his grandmother’s order, after all, to watch Lady Krul today.”

Yuu was shocked that Kimizuki stopped him, especially when he was also upset by what was going on. A silence settled between them, and no one else spoke up. Yuu grit his teeth and turned around, then stormed out of the room. “Whatever. I’m going to go take my break without you guys, then.”

After the doors closed behind him, he heard a pair of footsteps trailing after him. When he turned around, Yoichi was there, of all people. His olive-green eyes shone with sadness, and so once they were far away enough from the music room, Yuu slowed down and paused in his tracks to hear what he had to say.

“You know… there’s a reason Mika-kun’s grandmother is so cold to him,” Yoichi said softly. “I didn’t want to be the one to tell you this, but… it’ll help you to understand the situation better.”

Yuu pursed his lips and turned around, facing Yoichi with tensed brows. “Okay, fine. Tell me, then.”

“He’s an illegitimate child,” Yoichi said, and the words hit Yuu like a slap to the face. His blood ran cold and he stared at Yoichi, almost unable to believe what he just heard. Yoichi allowed the shock to sink in and settle before he went on. “Twenty-something years ago, the head of the Shindo family at the time passed away at a young age. Mika-kun’s father entered a marriage of political convenience with a woman of his mother’s choosing to succeed the family. But several years later, he found true love with a woman that he met in Russia… and Mika-kun was born. He tried to leave his political marriage to marry her, but his mother was firmly against it. Not only was Mika-kun’s mother sickly, but there were a lot of obstacles to have her live in Japan, so Mika-kun lived there, in Russia, until he was 14.”

Yuu hadn’t realized that Mika moved to Japan so late in his life. His eyes widened at that fact, and Yoichi took a brief break before going on.

“He seems to have had a happy childhood, but as time went on, his mother’s family business failed,” Yoichi said with a frown. “After they became burdened with a great debt, Mika-kun’s grandma came up with a proposal. She was worried about there not being any heirs to the Shindo family, so she provided Mika-kun’s mother with enough money to live comfortably… but in exchange, Mika-kun was to be sent to live in Japan with his father… and since then, she has not allowed Mika-kun to visit her, or vise versa.”

Yuu let it all settle in with an aching heart. He knew the pain of losing a mother, and though Mika’s mother may still be alive… she was far, far away from him. According to Yoichi’s story, he hasn’t seen her for years now, and he likely had no idea when or if he would see her again. Yuu never realized that Mika had been going through this all this time… he was always so cheerful and carefree that Yuu never considered he might have had a painful upbringing.

“But the thing is…” Yoichi tensed his brows and looked down. “Mika-kun’s grandmother is the most concerned about the Shindo family continuing to prosper. She wants Mika-kun to have an heir, above all else… so I’m guessing that the reason she’s here is…”

Yuu shook his head, not wanting to believe what he was hearing. “No. No, she can’t be. That… that’s too…”

“Unfair?” Yoichi finished with a frown. “I agree… Mika-kun doesn’t want to marry some random girl for the sake of producing a child. I’m sure that… after today, Lady Krul will go home and that’ll be the end of it.” Yoichi paused uneasily, his eyes lowering. “At least, I hope so.”

His uncertainty settled uncomfortably with Yuu. He pursed his lips and clenched his hands into fists. As badly as he wanted to confess to Mika, that wasn’t on the forefront of his mind in that moment. Now, he just wanted to get Krul out of here so Mika could continue to enjoy himself and not be pressured by his grandmother any longer.

“It’s easy to feel sorry for him, but I’m glad Mika-kun is who he is now,” Yoichi confessed with a small, sympathetic smile. Clearly, now he was trying to make Yuu feel better. “He’ll be fine. Having accepted everything he’s been through, he’s here now in the Host Club, with us.”

Yuu nodded a bit, and the approaching Gekkoin, Lacus, Rene, and Kimizuki caught his eye. They seemed to know what he and Yoichi were discussing, and an understanding passed between them.

“Let’s go get some lunch,” Lacus offered once they all stood around together. “Mika will probably join us later.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Mika didn’t show up, after all. After the hosts had eaten in a solemn sort of silence, they went back to business in entertaining their guests for the afternoon. Yuu was pushing around a cart of sweets once again when Kimizuki approached him and took the handle for himself. Yuu turned to him, clearly confused, when Kimizuki nodded to a table over to the side.

“You’ve been requested,” Kimizuki said, and Yuu followed his gesture to see Krul, leaning her chin on folded hands. She gave him a faint, sly smile that rubbed Yuu the wrong way, and he nodded as he allowed Kimizuki to take the cart and continue his business. It was odd to see her on her own, since Mika was meant to be escorting her, and he wondered where Mika could be.

Yuu sat down across from Krul and peered at her face from over a bouquet of large, blooming red roses. “By your leave.”

“Mikaela seems to have quite a soft spot for you,” Krul said, getting straight to the point. But she didn’t say anything else and merely waited for Yuu’s reaction.

“You mean to say you’re jealous?” Yuu flatly responded. Though he was working as a host, he wasn’t going to sweet-talk her. She wasn’t a guest to him- she was an intruder.

“Well, listen to you,” Krul laughed lightly, as if taken aback by his accusation. Then, her eyes narrowed as she said, “Mikaela won’t be coming back to finish the fair activities.”

“Why not?” Yuu challenged, head tilted to the side. Krul merely smirked at him as she combed her fingers through her hair.

“You’ll find out.” She then sat up a little straighter and looked him up and down. “Are you Mikaela’s lover?”

The sudden question had Yuu’s face flushing, but he wasn’t going to lie about their relationship, as badly as he wanted to snap at her and say he belonged to him. Yuu quietly said, “No.”

“I see… good.” Krul then stood up slowly. “Then you’re nothing to him.” Hearing such bold words had Yuu’s eyes widening in disbelief.

“I’m not his lover, but I’m not nothing to him,” Yuu went on, eyes narrowing with defense. Krul didn’t know Mika like Yuu did, and she likely never would. Her words would never hurt him, but they definitely angered him.

Krul tilted her head, then turned her back to Yuu. She didn’t seem to have a response to that. “By the way, you won’t need to finish the fair activities, either.”

Before Yuu could ask what she meant by that, she was walking away, and Kimizuki came towards the table where she left Yuu sitting on his own. He scratched at the back of his head and looked down at Yuu with a troubled expression.

“It’s true,” Kimizuki said softly. “Thanks for all the hard work you’ve done for so long. With that request with Krul, your quota has been met. The debt for the Renaissance vase that you broke is now cleared. You are free to quit being a host at any time now.”

Yuu’s eyes widened in disbelief. He had to be kidding. Already, the debt was paid? That was great news, news that Yuu should be relieved to hear… but he only felt the sinking feeling of disappointment. There was no way that, all of a sudden, it was over and there was nothing Yuu could do about it.

But it was true that he didn’t have to quit… he simply had the option to do so. Yuu frowned stubbornly and shook his head. “I’m not quitting. I’m glad I don’t owe you anything anymore, but that’s not the point. I’ve… I’ve become a family with you guys, and you’re not going to get rid of me so easily.”

Kimizuki seemed taken aback for a moment, but them, his eyes softened and a small smile rested on his lips. It was a genuine smile, an expression that Yuu didn’t often see from Kimizuki, and his heart skipped a beat at the sight. Kimizuki nodded after hearing that. “Alright, well, none of us are forcing you to leave, so that’s fine with me.”

“Hey, is that Mika over there?” Lacus’s voice suddenly caught Yuu’s and Kimizuki’s attention. They all turned, shocked to see Mika walking into the salon, dressed in the white tuxedo that the entire Host Club wore to match. On his arm was Krul, and Mika’s expression was gentle and relaxed, but Yuu’s heart ached and twisted.

His eyes… looked so hollow. All the joy and brightness from earlier was gone- and to make matters worse, looming behind him was his grandmother. She stared at the hosts with an unwavering expression, and Yuu felt his stomach suddenly begin to sink. He had no idea what her tight-lipped frown meant, but he figured it was nothing good. The hosts gathered in closely, including Shinoa, who looked just as upset as the rest of them did.

“I have an announcement,” Mika said to the hosts, but to no one else. Others who were in the salon busied themselves with parents and simply gazed at the hosts from afar, admiring their beauty and entirely unaware of the situation at hand. Mika didn’t speak loudly enough for everyone else to hear; only the hosts and their manager who had gathered close to him.

“Due to my engagement to Lady Krul Tepes, I will be heading home to Russia with her. I don’t know when, or if, I will return again.”

The words were completely insane. There was no way… no way that he meant that. Yuu tried to process something as surreal as an impromptu engagement to some random woman he just met, and not to mention his impending departure to Russia on a moment’s notice. It had to be a trick, a lie, anything at all.

Everyone was too shocked to speak. Mika’s grandmother lifted her chin authoritatively.

“Come, Mikaela,” she said, voice cold and unfeeling. “Your ride to the airport is awaiting you.”

Mechanically, Mika turned around and departed the salon, as if in slow motion. Yuu’s entire world was spinning slowly and falling apart all at the same time, and he watched with total confusion as Mika’s back grew smaller and smaller, until he could no longer be seen amongst the crowds of people stretching down the hall.

“That… that can’t be true.” Kimizuki was the first to speak, his voice shaking. “There is no way his flight would be tonight.”

“We need to talk with him, alone,” Lacus agreed. “Who’s gonna be brave enough to pry his grandmother away from him for a few minutes? I mean, surely even she would let us talk one last time, if that’s the case…!”

“It won’t be the last time,” Yoichi argued. “It can’t be…”

“Why would Mika agree to something like this?” Rene wondered, his voice somber and eyes downcast. He looked deeply hurt, and Gekkoin put a reassuring hand on his shoulder as he shared a similar expression.

“He wouldn’t agree to this,” Gekkoin pointed out with a tense frown. “It doesn’t make sense.”

“Then there must be some sort of reason why he’s going along with it, if it is true.” Yuu finally gathered himself to speak up, despite the screaming pain in his heart. He looked at the others with bright green eyes, shining with a fiery determination that was distinctive to Yuu. “Yoichi told me about his past and the complications with his mother. His mother lives in Russia still, right?”

“I… I would assume so,” Shinoa responded hesitantly, but she suddenly nodded and seemed to understand why this was all happening. “Could it be that… no, that’s too cruel.”

“His grandmother would do something that heartless,” Yoichi pointed out with a troubled frown. He directed his attention to Yuu. “Are you implying, Yuu-kun, that this engagement only happened on the condition that…”

“...he could go home and see his mother again,” Yuu finished with an affirmative nod. Everything seemed to be clicking into place. “That’s the only way this would make sense. He had to make a choice between seeing her and staying here, a place he never wanted to go to begin with. But… but if Mika’s mom is anything like Mika, if she’s worth his love, I-I can guarantee she wouldn’t be happy to see him if he arrived under those circumstances!”

His outburst caused Shinoa to tear up, and everyone else seemed deeply moved as well. What Yuu said made total sense, and Yuu himself was convinced that his guess on the situation had to be true. His hands clenched into fists as he turned to head down the hall after them. “I need to make Mika understand that his mom wouldn’t want to see him like this!”

“What if they’ve already left by now?” Yoichi called out frantically, after Yuu already took a step forward. “Will you catch up to them?”

“I won’t find out from standing around here!” Yuu responded, then paused in his tracks. “You guys stay here and take care of the guests, alright? I’ll be back with Mika, I promise!”

Then, Yuu took off running down the hall without waiting to hear their response. He didn’t care if he ran into anyone else or accidentally shoved them aside.

Nothing mattered now besides getting to Mika in time, before it was too late.

Chapter Text

Everywhere he turned, he thought he saw the head of blond hair he was looking for. It was far too distracting, and despite the many times he thought he finally found Mika… it was always someone else. Yuu was getting fed up with how fruitless his search was becoming. How far away could Mika and the others have gone in such a short time…!?

Yuu grit his teeth and clenched his fingers in tight fists. He couldn’t give up. He’d search every room in the Academy if he had to. But there wasn’t enough time before their impending departure, and he needed to be as efficient as possible. He couldn’t afford to stall and ask others for help.

Feeling desperate to find Mika immediately, Yuu charged towards the nearest set of doors, then shoved them open with his shoulder. The people who were gathered outside gasped and moved aside, muttering their disapproval at how brashly Yuu had just barged outside and nearly pushed them over. He didn’t care what they thought, and he didn’t pause to apologize for almost smacking them with the doors. Instead, he looked around wildly, his mind focused on no one but Mika.

And then, he saw him- in the window of a car speeding by.

“Shit…!” Yuu cussed out of desperation, his heart clenching with anxiety as he watched the car speed away. He couldn’t chase the car on foot, and he didn’t have a car he could drive, either. He had no way to chase them now…!

But then, Yuu heard a snort, and he looked over to the source of the sound abruptly. The huff came from one of the horses still connected to the carriage that they had ridden that morning. Yuu’s heart pounded with the wild idea of using the carriage to pursue them; it was something that could only happen in a movie, or some sort of fictional tale, but by god, no one was going to stop him from trying it. The carriage was his only hope to catch up to Mika now.

Ignoring the gasps and questioning murmurs of the people around him, Yuu leapt into the front seat and grabbed the reins. He raised his arms up, high above his head, and then with all the force he could muster, he threw the reins down. The horses cried out with surprise from the sudden demand, and they reared back onto their hind legs as they whinnied. Yuu apologized to them in his heart, and he would be sure to give them treats or whatever he could do when they got back- but for now, he needed to get to Mika as fast as he could.

After their hooves slammed back down onto the pavement below, the horses jerked into motion and began running at full speed, as if their lives depended on it. Yuu’s eyes were stretched wide with fear and shock, for he couldn’t believe he was actually doing this- but there was no turning back now. The sound of their hooves thundered across the paved path, taking off in the direction that the car had just went. The wind whipped Yuu’s hair back and he gasped from the sensation of the freezing air billowing against his face.

Adrenaline pumped through Yuu’s veins, setting his senses on fire and causing his heart to pound wildly. The cold air of December bit at his skin, but he didn’t focus on the bitter pain. He had other, more important things to worry about, and that was getting Mika to come back to Ouran before time ran out.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Everything felt… pointless.

Mika’s heart had been hurting so much, for so long that now, he didn’t feel much at all. Krul was beside him, and the stuffy air of the car was becoming suffocating with the sickly sweet scent of her perfume. He felt nauseous, his eyes downcast and blank as he processed that he was leaving everything behind.

That morning, he wouldn’t have thought such a thing was possible. Never would he give up the Host Club… not in a million years.

And yet, with his grandmother offering to bring him to his mother… his heart twisted, and the pain that followed was an agonizing emotion stabbing him over and over. His mother was sickly, and she was likely all on her own over in Russia with no one to keep her company. Mika hated that he left her alone all this time.

It had been years… and he never even got to hear from her. If leaving Japan and potentially never returning was his only option, then so be it. He didn’t need to fret over his own happiness; he just wanted his mother to have someone to talk to, to not be alone anymore. The Host Club would have to go on without him, even though that was the last thing he wanted to happen. He just couldn’t abandon his mother, not when she was powerless like he was. They only had each other.

“What’s the matter?” Krul finally began to speak, her eyes focused on Mika’s stony profile. “You haven’t said anything.”

Mika didn’t answer. His skin prickled with irritation, for she clearly had no idea what he was going through, and his throat felt tight with emotion. Krul didn’t seem to like his silence, despite the obvious signs that he didn’t want any of this. He clearly didn’t want to talk, but she pressed on anyways. “You’re a host, aren’t you? Entertain me.”

Now that they were alone, with the exception of the driver in the front seat, Mika turned to her with tense brows. There was no reason to continue his charismatic charade in front of her; she was not his guest at the Host Club at all. He was unmasked now, showing his true emotions as he glared harshly at her blank face. “What about you? Are you really okay with getting engaged to a man you just met on orders from our families?”

Krul didn’t answer him, for she looked slightly troubled after hearing such a thing. Her lips parted to respond, but instead, she paused and stared out the window with wide, shocked eyes. Her jaw slowly dropped until she was gaping and unable to speak. Mika tensed and followed her line of sight, and what he saw was so unbelievable that if Krul hadn’t seen the same thing, he would have thought he was hallucinating.

Of all things to be outside that window… it was Yuu, charging at full speed down the road alongside them in a horse-drawn carriage.

“Yuu-chan!?” Mika gasped as he sat up straight.

“Yuuichirou Amane…?” Krul breathed, as though she couldn’t process what she was seeing. Mika frantically looked to the driver.

“Pull the roof back!” He snapped. It was a convertible with a retractable roof, after all, and rolling down a window wouldn’t be good enough.

“But sir, it’s freezing. It’s December-” the driver began to say, but Mika wasn’t willing to reason with him.

“Just do it!” Mika yelled, and the driver slowed down slightly as he pressed the appropriate button to pull back the roof. Krul yelped and clutched her jacket close to her shoulders, likely becoming cold from the sudden wind, but Mika didn’t care about her comfort. Once the roof was pulled all the way back, Mika stood higher and knelt against the seats, his hair ruffling wildly from the speed they were going.

“What are you doing, Yuu-chan!?” Mika called out desperately, eyes stinging with the sharp wind and the emotions welling up inside of him. He braced his hands against the edge of the car. “It’s too dangerous! Stop the carriage, now!”

“Mika!” Yuu hollered back, clearly not listening to a word Mika just said. “Please come back!”

Mika grit his teeth as his heart squeezed and ached. His hands were trembling. “Look, just stop the carriage!”

“Nobody wants you to leave!” Yuu snapped, causing Mika to flinch and his eyes to water. He often felt that many people were put out by the Host Club, that he had forced Yuu into joining and potentially the others in the beginning, too. But he couldn’t speak out his thoughts. Seeming to sense this, Yuu went on, his voice carrying over to Mika’s heart. “Mika, you really are an idiot! A huge idiot! Do you really think your mom would be happy to see you knowing you just abandoned what makes you happiest!? We all love being in the Host Club! We really, really love it!”

Mika’s eyes widened as his words sunk in.

Yuu was right. His mother would be so sad if she knew the circumstances of his return, that he left behind his dearest friends and the one he was falling in love with without even a proper goodbye. He wanted to see her so badly, and he hated being separated from her- but he didn’t want their reunion to be sour with the fact that Mika was forced to choose her over his friends. He didn’t want it to be against his will, like it was now.

When he saw her again, he wanted to bring his friends, his true love, or perhaps all of them… so she could meet the people that had touched his heart. He didn’t want to bring Krul, who would likely remind her of the woman his father had to marry. He suddenly realized he was becoming the same man as his father- who he swore he would never become.

But truly, Mika was not the same man his father. He was his own person, and he didn’t need to follow his grandmother’s coldhearted orders if he didn’t want to. He had the power to change his own path now.

As Mika’s mind spun with these realizations, Yuu then let go to one of the reins. Alarmed, Mika snapped out of his daze with a gasp. His body seized up with shock, and he prepared to yell at Yuu for how dangerous that was- but before he could say a word, Yuu extended his hand as if to pluck Mika right out of that car.

“Even I… even I love being in the Host Club!” Yuu called out, his hands trembling. “A-And… I… I love being with you, Mika! S-So please, don’t go, alright!?”

I love being with you.

Mika’s heart throbbed, and emotion rose to his face in the form of a flush and tears in his eyes. He reached out, desperately wanting to take Yuu’s hand, but Krul grabbed his arm and forced him to pause. Mika looked down, bewildered at her behavior, but he was surprised to see her with such a troubled expression.

He had no idea what to make of it, but before she could speak, the carriage suddenly rammed against the rails that ran along the edge of the bridge they were driving across. The carriage swerved, all thanks to Yuu releasing one of the reins and losing control of the horses. The horses skimmed against the rails and cried out, veering away from the danger of the bridge’s edge and causing the carriage to rock violently to one side.

“Yuu-chan!” Mika called out with fear, then gasped as he watched Yuu lose his footing. The carriage swayed dangerously, its wheels spinning wildly in the air as it tilted and caused Yuu to slide down. Terrified that he might get hurt, Mika lurched forward, and Krul finally let go of his arm.

Turning over his shoulder, he gasped, “Thank you…!”

Krul’s eyes widened with amazement, and Mika turned away from her. With his heart pounding wildly, Mika made a leap of faith.

With a slam, Mika landed on the other side of the carriage, but he was just a split second too late. The force should have caused Yuu to topple inwards, but instead he fell out… and over the other end, right off the bridge itself.

Mika had only a split second to react. He jumped off the bridge right after him, for he was not willing to let Yuu fall down into the freezing water of the river below all on his own.

Reaching out, Mika cried out, “Yuu-chan!!”

Yuu’s brilliant green eyes met his own, tearful and loaded with more emotion than Mika had ever seen. His hand extended as he called back, “Mika…!”

Their hands met, and it felt like the world slowed down. They were falling at an incredible speed, but just for a moment, Mika admired the way Yuu looked, coated in the silver light of the moon. His eyes sparkled like the stars, and the relieved smile on his face as soon as their hands met was an expression that melted Mika’s heart. He grabbed Yuu’s waist with his other hand and pulled them flush together.

Yuu tucked his face into Mika’s shoulder, clinging to him tightly as they fell down, down, down until they made a sudden, hard impact with the icy water below.

Mika held his breath as they dove under, and for a moment it was so cold that he was too stunned to move. Luckily, he gathered himself quickly enough to start swimming, and after kicking his legs wildly, he propelled them up. They burst from the surface, gasping and coughing, and Mika directed them to land with swift kicks of his legs.

Yuu must have been more shocked than Mika was, for at first, he hardly moved. Since he was worried for his health, Mika held Yuu close as he got to his feet, carrying him tightly in his arms, bridal style. Yuu shivered and trembled in his hold, and Mika wished he wasn’t also soaking wet… but they’d get help quickly. They weren’t far from campus, after all.

“What a reckless thing to do,” Mika scolded softly as he began walking up the hill. “Look, you’re soaking wet because of it.”

“That doesn’t matter, does it?” Yuu responded, and then tugged at Mika’s sleeve as a silent plea to be put down. With a mild reluctance in his heart, Mika paused and set him down onto his feet. He had rather liked doting on Yuu like that…

Yuu looked at him with a lopsided grin, then held a thumbs-up as he smugly said, “Like they say, ‘a man dripping with good looks,’ am I right?”

Mika watched as Yuu ran a hand through his soaking wet hair and pushed it back in an attempt to look sexy. The sight was so silly that Mika let out a huff of laughter, and within moments they were laughing so hard that Mika’s sides hurt. He could barely breathe by the time their laughter died down, and neither could Yuu.

After they came over the rise of the hill, they paused and took a momentary break, and Mika couldn’t hold back anymore. He stepped close to Yuu and yanked him close in a hug, one that had Yuu gasping with surprise.

“Mika…?” Yuu questioned, voice muffled by his shoulder. When Mika took a little too long to speak, Yuu patted his shoulder. “C’mon, it’s freezing out here. We need to get inside before we get sick.”

“Thank you…” Mika spoke tensely, his voice trembling as he clutched Yuu as tightly as he could without hurting him. He ignored Yuu’s concerns for now, focusing entirely on Yuu’s presence right there and then. “You’re right about my mother. I won’t ask how you found out about it, since I assume someone in the club told you, which is fine. I’m just glad that… I’m glad that you showed up as my voice of reason when I needed you most.”

Yuu shifted slightly in his arms. He hugged Mika back tightly, his own hands shaking as he clutched the back of Mika’s wet jacket. “Y-You could have gotten seriously hurt when you jumped out of the car, you idiot…”

“Look who’s talking!” Mika scolded as he backed away, glaring into Yuu’s eyes. “You’re the one who decided to come after me in a carriage, of all things! Don’t go scolding me about risky behavior when you’re just as guilty!”

“Oi, I didn’t have a choice!” Yuu retorted hotly. “Like hell I was going to let you run off to Russia with some chick when you already have someone who loves you right here in front of you! Jeez!”

Mika froze up, his eyes widening with shock as he stared at Yuu. At first, Yuu continued huffing and puffing at him, cheeks rounded indignantly, but then as the silence stretched on his expression fell into one of pure shock. His eyes rounded and his face began flushing red as he stammered over his words. “I-I… I mean, uh… n-not just me, um, the others! And I mean, like, they love you… in a certain way. A family way. And so do I! But not just in a family way, I… I like you in a… well, uh, it… it’s also, a, uhm-”

Mika couldn’t resist any longer. With his hands gripping Yuu’s waist tenderly, he pulled him in close and connected their lips in a sudden, passionate kiss. The feeling sent a rush up his spine and he held the position, just long enough for Yuu to feel the same electrifying feeling that he felt- and then, he pulled back with a goofy smile.

Yuu was staring at him, lips parted with shock and face burning red. He swallowed and glanced down to Mika’s lips, then back up to his eyes. “That’s not how I planned my confession to go at all.”

“You had it planned?” Mika teased, his smile only widening.

“L-Listen, it was gonna be at the dance…!” Yuu protested, far too cute for his own good. “I thought it’d be so romantic, but instead we’re both soaked to the bone out in the cold after falling off a bridge…” Yuu trailed off, and a smile slowly began to spread on his face. “Come to think of it, that’s kind of an awesome story.”

“Most people’s first kiss happens in some boring way, like when they’re in 1st grade on the playground,” Mika remarked with a victorious smile. “Not many people get to say they kissed after jumping off a horse-drawn carriage and falling into a river on Christmas Eve.”

After laughing in response, Yuu leaned in close to connect their lips again. This time, his hands cupped Mika’s cheeks, soft and tender and warm despite the cold weather around them. Mika’s eyes fluttered shut as his face warmed up, and he focused on the way Yuu’s lips molded against his own, slightly demanding but not enough to be overwhelming. He retreated when it felt right to, and after a particularly rough chill caused Mika to shudder, Yuu seemed to snap back into attention.

Noticing how cold they were, Yuu grabbed Mika’s hand and interlocked their fingers without a second thought. Mika’s heart leapt at the feeling, and he almost forgot to move his feet when Yuu started heading towards the Academy. Finally, he rushed to catch up, their footsteps crunching the snow beneath their shoes.

“Okay, for real now, let’s go get changed and attend that ball,” Yuu said, and Mika followed behind him, heart pounding in his chest as pure happiness flooded through his veins.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It seemed that the moment they arrived to the Academy, the two of them were surrounded by their friends in a massive group hug. Mika was especially squeezed tightly, scolded with loving words by the other hosts one by one for running off like he did.

In no time, they had changed into their final outfits of the night, both because that was the plan and because they had no other choice. And when Mika stepped out from the changing room… Yuu was breathless.

He looked impossibly more amazing than before, wearing a pale-blue tuxedo jacket and matching pants that were so soft in color that they almost appeared to be white. The ruffled, silken cravat on his neck was accentuated by a brooch on its center, and a brighter blue handkerchief was tucked in the front pocket of his jacket. Only the collar and edges of the sleeves of his black undershirt stuck out from underneath the jacket, accenting his look beautifully.

Yuu wore something nearly identical, though his colors were shades of green rather than blue, reflecting the brightness of his eyes perfectly. Mika seemed to be in a similar state of shock upon seeing Yuu, cheeks reddening slightly as he waited for Mika to come closer.

“Should we get to the ball now?” Yuu asked, slightly embarrassed that Mika was just gaping at him and standing still. “Everyone’s waiting.”

Mika rushed towards Yuu, then grasped his hand and continued right on along, out the doors of Music Room #3. He flashed a wide, bright smile over his shoulder as he tugged Yuu along. “Let’s go!”

The clocktower was illuminated blue to fit with the winter season, and it glowed up in the starry night sky like an icy beacon. The clock read that it was just two hours until midnight, which would mark the end of the fair.

Mika and Yuu entered the grand hall, hand-in-hand and eager to mingle with their friends. After the drama of the day, all they wanted was to celebrate together, as they had planned to do. Everywhere on the dancefloor, couples stepped in elegant circles, their dancing skills as polished and as refined as they could be. After all, they had grown up in families that made sure dance lessons were essential. Their steps were synchronized and professional, the picture-perfect image of a sophisticated dance party.

Yuu was nervous about his own skills, for he never really learned how to dance… especially not with another man. He glanced at Mika shyly, wondering what would happen next- but before he could ask to dance, Yoichi appeared in front of him and grabbed his wrists in a vice grip.

“Yuu-kun!” Yoichi called out, his smile stretching across his face. “Come on! Let’s dance!”

In seconds, he was tugged away from Mika, who simply watched with wide eyes as Yuu was dragged into chaos. The serenity of the dance floor was ruined in an instant with the entry of the Host Club, and especially Yuu and Yoichi. In fact, Yuu wondered if he was dancing with someone or on a carnival ride, for he was spinning at such a high speed that he feared if Yoichi let go, he’d go shooting into the nearest wall (or unfortunate person) at the speed of a bullet.

They only seemed to be spinning faster and faster- the whole world was a blur around them. Feeling like the earth was tilting off-balance, Yuu frantically stammered, “Y-Yoichi, what the hell are you doing!? Slow down!”

“This is fun, though!” Yoichi argued with a bubbly laugh, and just when Yuu was sure he’d fall backwards, Yoichi let go of him. It was the worst possible moment to do so, for as soon as Yuu was free of Yoichi’s death grip, he tipped backwards and braced himself for the fall-

… but instead, he stumbled right into Gekkoin’s waiting arms. The usually quiet host seemed to have expected this outcome, and without missing a beat, he maneuvered Yuu until he was facing Gekkoin. One large hand rested on his waist while the other held Yuu’s hand, catching Yuu off-guard as they suddenly began to dance together.

Yuu’s dizziness wore off and he shook his head rapidly. His eyes widened as he looked up at Gekkoin, suddenly flustered to be in the role of the follower rather than the leader. Gekkoin looked so serious, but a light glimmered in his eyes as if to suggest he was truly having a good time. He even offered a small smile, and then lowly remarked, “You’re blushing.”

Naturally, that only made Yuu blush even more. He felt so small in Gekkoin’s hold, for the other man was so goddamn tall and large in every sense of the word that of course he would feel this way. Feeling embarrassed from Gekkoin’s observation, he stammered but failed to say anything in response.

Gekkoin’s lips twitched into a wider smile, and then he pushed Yuu slightly so that he spun outwards. As they stood apart from each other, Yuu’s free hand was suddenly taken by another, and his grip on Gekkoin’s hand slipped away.

Yuu turned into the arms of his new dance partner, who to his surprise was Rene. Their eyes met and Yuu offered a grin, though he took that moment to ask, “So, uh, care to explain what’s going on?”

“We’re playing ‘pass-the-Yuu-chan-until-Mika-kills-us,’” Rene informed him, eyes sparkling with mischief. “Is it working?”

“H-Huh?” Yuu asked, his face reddening further. Though before Rene could go on, he spun Yuu out of his arms again and sent him straight to Lacus. The purple-haired host cocked a grin at him as he settled his arms around Yuu’s body effortlessly.

“Hi there, princess,” Lacus teased, and Yuu narrowed his eyes at him indignantly. His cheeks puffed out in a light pout and he considered stepping on Lacus’s foot, but figured he wasn’t that mean and held himself back, despite the urge.

“If I’m the princess, what does that make you? The frog?” Yuu teased in return, a sly grin on his face. Lacus looked offended for a second, much to Yuu’s joy, but then his grip on Yuu’s waist tightened- and he was suddenly dipped down low to the ground.

Yuu yelped, eyes widening as he stared up at Lacus, who shadowed him and waggled his brows. “So if I’m the frog, doesn’t that mean you need to kiss me?”

After hearing that, Yuu narrowed his eyes and stuck out his tongue. “Nice try, but no thanks.”

“Aww…” Lacus pulled him back to his feet, still somehow in time with the song that the orchestra played. “You’re no fun. But fine, fine, I’ll send you off to your prince charming.”

After another twirl, Yuu fell into Kimizuki’s arms. Wrong prince, Yuu thought with an awkward grin. In comparison to the others, he was incredibly stiff and his cheeks were nearly as brightly colored as his hair. Yuu tilted his head and looked up at him with a questioning gaze. “You alright?”

“Look around us,” Kimizuki muttered, eyes sliding to the side. Yuu followed his gaze, then blushed as he noticed the crowds of girls clustered all around the edges of the dance floor, watching the hosts dance with Yuu one after the other. They gushed and held their hands to their cheeks, clearly soaking in all the fanservice being displayed before them. Yuu turned away from them to face Kimizuki, but he was suddenly aware of how close they were, and he glanced down at his feet, the flush across his cheeks darkening.

“I see,” Yuu mumbled shyly. They weren’t even doing this on purpose… it just happened. Perhaps they had gotten a little too used to their roles as hosts. He glanced up at Kimizuki and offered a shy smile. Despite his embarrassment, it didn’t bother him that much, and he felt Kimizuki needed a little reassurance in that moment. “Hey, don’t mind them. Just enjoy yourself.”

Kimizuki’s eyes widened slightly, and he looked like he was going to say something in response. Instead, he looked up to someone behind Yuu, then suddenly sent Yuu spinning out into a different direction.

He wanted to know what Kimizuki was going to say, but the question died on his tongue as he came face-to-face with Mika, at last. His charming partner smiled at him, eyes glimmering and cheeks rosy, and the squeals of their fan-girls chorused in the background. Yuu heard them and he laughed, but besides that, he pushed them to the back of his mind as he settled into Mika’s arms.

“So…” Yuu spoke up first, a shy smile crossing his lips as he peered into Mika’s eyes. “Are you gonna stay here or will I have to chase you down again?”

Mika’s expression softened, and his thumb trailed gently along the side of Yuu’s hand as they danced. “I’m sorry for being so stupid before. This won’t ever happen again… I can promise you that. I’d be a pretty lousy boyfriend if I decided to leave without another word.”

“Damn right you’d be!” Yuu agreed haughtily, his eyebrows tensing indignantly- but then, his eyes rounded and his cheeks reddened as Mika’s words sunk in. “W-Wait, did you just… did you just say… boyfriend?”

Mika tilted his head, as if it was a silly question to ask. “Yeah. That’s what we are now, right? Boyfriends?”

“W-We didn’t really establish that,” Yuu murmured, face heating up rapidly. His hands suddenly felt jittery, but his heart pounded with happiness. The word sounded right, like it fit Mika perfectly, unlike any other word could. His eyes hesitantly met Mika’s, but gradually, he reflected Mika’s smile. “But… you’re right. That’s what we are now… we’re boyfriends.”

Mika’s hand tensed on Yuu’s waist. He looked embarrassed, his eyes glancing around briefly before settling back onto Yuu. Then, he leaned in slightly so that their foreheads were nearly touching, and Yuu’s heart leapt up high in his chest. “Yuu-chan… I want to kiss you right now.”

Yuu swallowed slowly, as though he could calm his racing heart. “Then kiss me.”

“I-I can?” Mika’s eyes rounded with shock. “I mean, you… uhm, and I… well… uh, we’re hosts. And not only that, I’m not really out…”

Yuu’s flirtatious and longing gaze softly changed into one of understanding. “Mika, I won’t make you kiss me right here if you’re not ready for everyone to know. We can kiss somewhere more private.”

Mika’s face only turned redder. “In private...” he murmured, as if a sudden thought just occurred to him. Yuu narrowed his eyes, then maneuvered his hand so he could pinch Mika’s skin. “Ow!”

“No dirty thoughts right now, you pervert,” Yuu chastised, and Mika sulked ever so slightly. But it wasn’t long before he perked up again, eyes glancing down to Yuu’s soft, pink lips and back up to his enchanting eyes. Yuu noticed his expression and he became flustered again, anticipating Mika’s next move.

Finally, he sucked in a small breath and spoke up. Mika looked incredibly determined, as though he was going to do something very, very risky. “If… if you’re okay with it, I’m gonna do it now.”

Yuu blinked owlishly. “You’re gonna kiss me in front of everyone?” It would mean coming out to the world all at once. Yuu was amazed that Mika seemed to be prepared for the consequences.

And just like that, Mika nodded once in response. He seemed to gather himself, his grip against Yuu’s waist tightening as he quietly asked, “Can I…?”

“Stop taking so long,” Yuu whispered, and after that, Mika lifted a hand to cup the side of Yuu’s neck. The touch tickled his skin and made Yuu shiver slightly, but he enjoyed the sensation; Mika’s fingertips were warm and soothing. Slowly, he leaned in, and it felt like everyone in the room held their breath as the two drew closer and closer together.

Finally, Yuu’s eyes fluttered shut and their lips touched, feather-light and tender. The joyful cries of the girls watching was loud and nearly distracting enough to make them part, but Yuu let their cheering fade into the background. He melted into the kiss and leaned happily into Mika, his heart thumping rapidly against his chest. Their fingers slowly laced together, and though they parted for a moment, they wasted no time in kissing a second time. This time, it was deeper and more impassioned, one that had Yuu’s skin burning from the emotion he felt coming from Mika.

It felt so right and so perfect in that moment, to be kissing Mika right there on the dance floor, surrounded by harmonious music on Christmas Day. It was true- in the midst of their kiss, Yuu heard the bells of the clocktower chime, and he smiled against Mika’s lips.

He knew he’d get to share a kiss with Mika over New Year’s as well, and he was already looking forward to it.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The Ouran High School Host Club was where the handsome boys with too much time on their hands entertain and charm girls who also have too much time on their hands. It was the school’s own personal, elegant playground for the super rich.

Of all places for Yuu to accidentally stumble upon during the beginning of the academic year, it just had to be the Host Club. All he wanted back them was a sanctuary to study in, and most of all, some well-deserved peace and quiet.

But now, back to school after their winter vacation, Yuu sat in the very same chair that Mika once sat in, facing the front doors as their guests walked inside. It was their first time hosting after Mika and Yuu were known as a couple throughout the school, and understandably, they were nervous about how it would affect the outcome of their club’s attendance.

Contrary to what they expected, their numbers seemed to have tripled.

The crowd before them was bigger than they had ever seen, and yet they were all starstruck. With bated breath, they stared at Yuu with Mika right behind him, arms folded loosely over the chair behind Yuu’s head. Both of them smiled warmly to the girls (and guys) lingering in the doorway.

“All of us here at the Host Club, from the bottom of our hearts, have been waiting for you,” Yuu said, extending a charming hand to their guests. His emerald eyes glimmered as he gave them the most genuine smile he could muster.

“We’re so glad you came, and welcome!”



~*~*~*~END~*~*~*~