понедельник, 8 октября 2007 г.

miko_no_da: [Fic] Three's a Crowd - Ouran Host Club, Hikaru/Haruhi/Kaoru

This one is for Trio, because I finally have a fandom I can write in that she's reading. It's been a while, nee-san. Hope you like it. I wrote this entirely by hand on the bus to and from school, in less than a week. @_@ I never write by hand, but I've been getting desperate because schoolwork prevents me from having any time at my computer. Now my hand hurts. ;p Title: Three's a Crowd
Series: Ouran Host Club
Pairing: Hikaru/Haruhi, Kaoru/Haruhi
Rating: PG13
Warnings: Het (what is it with me and het stories lately?), about as much twincest as is in canon, ie they're playing it up for the club. Minor spoilers for episode... 14, I think?
Length: 10,159 Things get complicated when it's not just 'our world' and 'everything outside our world' anymore. When Kaoru had set Hikaru and Haruhi up on that date, he'd known he would be jealous. It was inevitable, after all - though he'd been the first to acknowledge that he and his twin needed to reach out to other people, that didn't mean he wanted to give up the unique closeness they had always shared. So he'd braced himself for the emotion and managed to mostly ignore it, and the reward had been seeing Hikaru slowly emerging from his self-absorbed shell. It had been worth the effort, even if it had hurt like a bitch. What Kaoru hadn't expected was the way he felt when Hikaru came back from his second - and much more private - date with her. The expression of startled joy in his twin's eyes made Kaoru ragingly jealous all over again... of the fact that Hikaru had Haruhi, but Kaoru himself was still alone. And probably always would be. Haruhi was one of a kind, and who was to say it wouldn't take them another fifteen years to find a second person who could tell them apart? Even then, there was no guarantee that said person would be anything like Haruhi. She had a charm that was all her own, and which only peripherally had to do with the way she treated them as separate people. She was sweet, and pretty, and Kaoru liked spending time with her. If he hadn't been so focused on shoving Hikaru out of his comfort zone, Kaoru would have gone on that date with her. And probably have had a lot more fun than his brother had. Hikaru, of course, wanted to spend half the night lying in bed talking about what had happened that evening. It was what they always did whenever they were separated for some reason, and when Hikaru got excited he about something he could talk without stopping for hours on end. Listening to his twin babble on about Haruhi, Kaoru struggled to smother a growing sense of discontent and anger. Hikaru was oblivious, lost in his own enthusiasm, and that only irritated Kaoru further. Here he'd given up everything to help his brother, and Hikaru couldn't even be bothered to notice that Kaoru was hurting! The worst of it was, he had only himself to blame. Kaoru was the one Haruhi had expected to take her on that first date, and he was the one who'd played sick in order to force Hikaru to go instead. He found himself bitterly regretting it now, but it was far too late to change his mind. "...have to keep it hidden from our lord, of course," Hikaru was saying, still blithely unaware of Kaoru's emotional turmoil. "We don't want him going ballistic on me, and you know he will if he finds out I'm dating Haruhi. But he can't tell us apart, so you can stand in for me sometimes and confuse him. I mean, he'll notice there's only one of us there, but as long as he thinks it's a different one each time it'll probably take him a while to catch on..." "No." The word was out of Kaoru's mouth before he realized he intended to say it, but once uttered he had no desire to take it back. Helping Hikaru to slip away to make out with Haruhi would be rubbing salt in an open wound. "No?" Hikaru repeated, surprised. Then he frowned. "You don't think it's a good idea to try to sneak off when Tamaki is around? You might be right. Our lord is sharper than most people give him credit for. And we don't want Kyoya noticing either. Damn it, that really limits the amount of time I'll get to spend with her, though. Well, maybe we can arrange 'study sessions' or something. He probably won't think anything of it if both of us are supposedly with her. Once we're away from school you can just come home and..." "No," Kaoru said again, putting more force behind the word this time. He glared at his twin. "I'm not helping you spend time with her, Hikaru!" Utterly bewildered, Hikaru gaped at him. "But... why not?" he finally sputtered. "Because you're assuming you've got sole claim on her," Kaoru said, making each word deliberate and holding Hikaru's eyes the whole time. "I gave you that first date because I wanted to push you out of your damn ego. But I wasn't conceding defeat." "What the hell are you talking about?" Hikaru demanded. "I'm saying," Kaoru replied softly, but with an edge in his voice, "I'm saying that I want her, too. And I'm willing to fight you for her." There was a moment of stunned silence. Even in the dim light Kaoru could see the way jealousy flooded Hikaru's eyes, and he knew he'd just thrown down the proverbial glove. "I got her first," Hikaru pointed out, just as softly but with no less force. "If you wanted her, you shouldn't have played sick like that. Of course I knew," he added scornfully when Kaoru looked at him in surprise. "Do you think I'd have left you alone if I'd thought you were actually sick? I figured you'd just changed your mind and didn't feel like being sociable, so you were foisting it off on me instead. But you chose to do it, Kaoru, I didn't make you. Why should I let you horn in now?" "What makes you think you've got a choice about it?" Kaoru countered, his voice slowly rising. "You can't stop me. Why should you be the only one who gets to be happy, huh? There're two of us and only one of her - you do the math. I'm not going to be the self-sacrificing one this time, damn it." "You're too late!" Hikaru insisted, volume increasing to match Kaoru's. "She's already going out with me, and I'm not giving her up. And what do you mean, 'this time'?" They were sitting up now, glaring fiercely at each other from across the width of the bed. Kaoru felt a twinge of apprehension. They'd squabbled before, of course; they were only human. But all their big 'fights' had been staged for the entertainment value. This was the first time he could remember them actually being angry at each other. But he wasn't disturbed enough to back down. "If you weren't so damned self-centred, you'd know exactly what I meant," he snapped. "I've always given way to you, always made sure you were happy first. Not. This. Time. You've been on two dates, you're not exactly married to her. Even you haven't been calling her your girlfriend yet. So she's still fair game." "Yeah? Then I'll make her my girlfriend," Hikaru snarled back. "First thing tomorrow. So what are you gonna do then?" Kaoru winced. It was hard to predict what Haruhi would do at the best of times, but she obviously felt some attraction to his twin or he wouldn't have had to spend the last hour and a half listening to Hikaru talk about how much fun the date had been - including enthusiastic tangents about how it felt to kiss her. If Hikaru asked her to go steady, he was pretty sure she would agree. "You really are just a selfish bastard, aren't you?" Kaoru said, his heart aching from the double blow of knowing he was going to lose his chance with Haruhi and this irrefutable proof that his twin was utterly self-absorbed. Kaoru had always suspected that Hikaru would put himself first no matter what, but he'd never had it confirmed before. "Who's selfish?" Hikaru retorted. "You're the one threatening to steal my girlfriend from me! You missed your chance, tough luck!" "Excuse me..." a hesitant voice came from the doorway. "What?" they snapped in unison, turning to glare. The twin girls who served as their maids were hovering there, eyes wide. Seeing Hikaru and Kaoru practically ready to go for each other's throats wasn't something that happened every day. "Is something wrong, sirs?" one of them asked. "Yeah, it's too damned crowded in here all of a sudden," Hikaru declared bitterly. "I'm going to sleep in one of the guest rooms." The girls exchanged a glance, then bowed. "As you wish. We'll get one ready for you." Watching as Hikaru gathered up the things he would need for school the next day, Kaoru had second thoughts. In fifteen years they'd never been so upset with each other that they hadn't slept together. But damn it all, he was always the one who ended up compromising. He'd never really minded before. The problem was that this time, giving in meant losing his chance with the only girl who'd ever seen them for themselves. Silently he turned away, clenching his teeth on the apology that wanted to escape him. This time he was damned well going to stand up for himself. If Hikaru wanted to win this one, he was going to have to fight for it.
Tossing and turning, Hikaru tried to get comfortable in the guest bed. He wanted to blame the unfamiliar mattress for his insomnia and restlessness, but he'd never had any trouble sleeping in strange beds before. It wasn't the bed that was responsible; it was the fact that he was alone in it. They always at least slept in the same room, if not the same bed, and the room was achingly empty without the sound of his twin breathing and moving around next to him. Growling, Hikaru punched the pillow with far more force than was required to fluff it. Why had Kaoru decided to go and start this stupid argument, anyway? And then to act like Hikaru was the selfish one because he wouldn't give up his girlfriend without a fight! If Kaoru hadn't wanted him to date Haruhi, he shouldn't have set things up this way in the first place. Not that Hikaru wanted his twin to be alone and unhappy. Far from it - the more he realized how good it felt to be with Haruhi, the more he wanted Kaoru to have a chance to experience it as well. But not so much that he was willing to give her up and leave himself alone, instead. Especially not now that he knew what he'd be missing. The problem was, as Kaoru had pointed out, a simple matter of math. Two of them, and only one of her. It didn't add up no matter how he looked at it. And the odds of finding another girl like her anytime soon were astronomically low. Really, he should have expected this. He and Kaoru were different people, but their tastes were very similar as a result of having shared everything throughout their whole lives. It wasn't just the fact that Haruhi was the only one who could tell them apart. Hikaru was coming to care for her for her own sake - and that meant Kaoru probably was, too. And that just complicated things even further. Worse, he wasn't really sure he was ready to ask Haruhi to go steady with him, and jumping into it to spite his twin seemed like a bad idea. What if it was too fast for her and she turned him down? Then he'd lose her anyway. But if it was the only way to keep Kaoru from taking her from him... Of course, it wasn't like he was planning to announce it to the school even if she did agree to be his girlfriend. Tamaki's obsession with Haruhi was obvious to everyone but Tamaki and Haruhi. As far as Hikaru was concerned, Tamaki's insistence on trying to act like her father instead of like a potential boyfriend meant the older boy had left her up for grabs, and it was Tamaki's own damned fault that Hikaru got her first. That didn't mean he wanted the older boy after his hide, though. But the fact that they would keep it quiet, combined with the threat he'd already made to ask her to go steady, meant that Kaoru would probably assume he'd done it even if he hadn't. Hikaru sighed and rolled over. It wasn't a perfect solution, because it still left the two of them at odds with each other, but it was a start. At the very least it would buy him some time to think of a better idea. And in the meantime, be damned if he wouldn't soak up every moment of time Haruhi would give him. The more time he spent alone with her the more he understood what might have driven the idiotic girls who always confessed to him and Kaoru. And damn, but kissing was addictive. Hikaru fell asleep with a grin on his face, replaying the last half-hour of his date over and over in his mind.
Kaoru stuck close to his brother from the moment they got to school the next day. He had a half-formed notion that if he could just keep Hikaru from being alone with Haruhi, his twin wouldn't have an opportunity to ask her to be his girlfriend and Kaoru would still have a chance. He was fairly sure Haruhi would accept a date with him if he asked her, and quite certain that she wouldn't agree to go steady with Hikaru when she'd promised a date with him. There was just one small flaw in his plan. Staying close to Hikaru meant he didn't have a chance to speak to Haruhi in private, either. And he wasn't quite bold enough to ask her right in front of his brother. So how the hell was he going to do this? Maybe he could write a note asking to speak to her at lunch, and then sneak away when Hikaru wasn't looking. As they had during their staged fight, they'd sat with her between the two of them, a tacit drawing of the battle lines. It would be easy enough to slip her a message without the teacher noticing. He shifted in his seat, checking from the corner of his eye whether he'd be able to get her attention. To his shock and dismay she was already holding a little piece of paper under her desk, reading it silently. When she then looked over at Hikaru and nodded, Kaoru knew they'd once again twin-shared the idea and Hikaru had beaten him to it. Hikaru caught him looking and smirked, and Kaoru snarled silently at his brother before returning his attention to the front. Now what? Hikaru had asked before him, so Haruhi would go with him before Kaoru. And then it would all be a moot point. Kaoru had to talk to her first. But how? He still hadn't come up with a good idea by the time the bell rang to release them for lunch. He watched miserably as Hikaru stood and declared, "You go ahead, Kaoru. I need to ask Haruhi about last night's homework. I'll meet you in the cafeteria." There was nothing Kaoru could say or do and they both knew it. Nodding reluctantly, he conceded defeat with ill grace and gathered up his books to leave. He felt like his heart had risen into his throat and was trying to choke him. By the time he finally saw them again, lunch was nearly over. Haruhi normally ate in the classroom, but Hikaru had apparently persuaded the stubbornly independent girl to let him buy her lunch for once, because they were both carrying trays as they approached his table. They were also both flushed and a little mussed, and Kaoru clenched his teeth as he realized they must have been making out. The smug, triumphant look on Hikaru's face left no doubt. He'd asked, she'd agreed, and that was the end of it. Feeling suddenly like he might be sick, Kaoru stood up and picked up his tray. "Here, you guys take this spot," he said, and hoped his voice hadn't come out quite as much of a croak as it had sounded to him. "I'm... not feeling very well. I think I'm just going to find somewhere quiet to rest until lunch is over." He avoided looking either of them in the eyes, but he couldn't quite evade the hand Haruhi put on his arm to stop him. "Are you okay? Are you sure you don't want us to come with you?" she asked, her big brown eyes full of concern. "We can skip lunch, or I don't mind eating alone if you just want Hikaru. I can study or something." Somehow Kaoru forced a smile, though it probably looked as sickly as he felt. "Nah, no sense in you two going hungry just because I was a pig and ate too fast. I'll see you in class." He shook off her hand and made his escape before she could say anything else. At the door he looked back just long enough to see that they'd sat down and Hikaru was watching him. The smug look in his twin's eyes had been replaced by something that might have been an apology, but Kaoru wasn't ready to accept it. Not yet, not when just seeing them together made his chest feel like it was on fire. Maybe not for a long time to come.
"Are you two fighting?" Haruhi asked Hikaru nearly a week later. "Eh?" Hikaru blinked, startled by the sudden subject change. Not that they'd been talking about anything - going by way of the roof wasn't exactly the fastest route between their classroom and the Host Club, but it did win them a few moments alone. Without Kaoru's help the 'study session' plan was lacking a crucial element, and Hikaru had been forced to find less satisfactory methods to spend some time with her. He made the most of every moment they got, and she didn't seem to object. "I asked if you and Kaoru are having a fight," Haruhi repeated, twining her fingers through his. Hikaru shifted uneasily and forced himself to laugh. "After the way we fooled you last time? I'm surprised you'd even think it. You didn't strike me as the type to fall for the same prank twice." "But that's just it," Haruhi said, looking up at him. "You're not being theatrical about it this time. In fact I think you're doing your best to keep people from noticing. If it was another act you'd be trying to draw attention." Damn the girl for being so observant, anyway. Granted it was exactly that frightening level of insight that had drawn him to her in the first place, but it was working against him now. As far as Hikaru could tell, nobody else had noticed the tension between him and his twin. They were doing their best to act normally, still teasing people and playing their 'forbidden love' game for the club. But things were strained between them. They weren't outright fighting, but Kaoru was avoiding him whenever they didn't have to be together for the sake of appearances. And truthfully Hikaru had been avoiding him too, because he couldn't stand to see the wounded look in his twin's eyes. Trust Haruhi to be the only person to see what was really going on. Briefly he considered dissembling, but she wouldn't believe it. Finally he sighed and raked a hand through his hair. "It's complicated." "Want to talk about it?" she offered. "Maybe it will help." He'd already opened up to Haruhi more than to anyone but Kaoru, but this was one thing Hikaru couldn't talk about. Tell her they were fighting over her? That would make her feel guilty, and he didn't want to seem like he was putting the blame on her shoulders. It wasn't her fault she was only one person. "I can't really." He shrugged and tugged her closer, tucking her head under his chin and wrapping his arms around her waist. He liked holding her like this, almost as much as he liked kissing her. But it was weird to feel so close to someone other than Kaoru. "It's just... growing pains, I guess. Don't worry, we'll work it out." Surely, they would. They had to. They couldn't live like this forever. Eventually Kaoru would have to forgive him for keeping Haruhi. Wouldn't he? "I hope so," Haruhi said, resting her head on his shoulder. "It's hurting both of you, and I don't like to see that. You know if there's anything I can do, you only have to ask." "Find a way to clone yourself?" Hikaru suggested under his breath, only half joking. When she pulled back to look up at him questioningly, he shook his head. "Never mind, I'm just being weird. As much as I hate to say it, we should go or people will notice we're late." She nodded and turned to go, one hand still caught firmly in his. They wouldn't let go until they got down to the stairwell where people might see them. Sometimes Hikaru wondered what Haruhi thought about their relationship, and his request for secrecy. He'd explained about not wanting to set Tamaki off and she'd agreed, but she'd looked a little dubious. Did she ever think he was ashamed of her low status or something like that? She was so hard to read, he could never tell what was really going through her head. For a girl with the iron will he knew she possessed, she was remarkably easy-going and undemanding, and her willing compliance most of the time made it hard to tell what she wanted. "Haruhi," he said. She looked back at him curiously, and he found himself suddenly tongue-tied. "I... I just... I don't appreciate you enough," he mumbled, flushing. "I mean, I know I kinda suck at communicating with people, or whatever. You deserve better." She smiled at him, the same smile that had made him fall for her in the first place - the one that said she was perfectly aware of his flaws and thought he was more than a little odd, but she liked him anyway. "I don't mind," she assured him. "You're learning." She reached up to kiss him briefly. "Now hurry, or we will be late." They had to run through the last few halls to make it in time, but they slipped into the music room just before Kyoya started assigning the groups of girls to a Host. The second-year raised an eyebrow at them, but Haruhi blinked innocently and Hikaru shrugged a sheepish apology, and Kyoya apparently decided to drop it. Moving to take his place in the group of Hosts, Hikaru accidentally caught Kaoru's eye for a brief moment. In his twin's expression he saw regret, jealousy, longing, and a loneliness so deep it made Hikaru's heart ache in sympathy. They both looked away, unable to hold the contact. Throughout the entire first round of Hosting, Hikaru kept catching his brother glancing over at where Haruhi was seated. Kaoru was doing a better job of hiding his emotions than before, but Hikaru could still see that soul-deep sorrow if he looked hard enough. He tried not to look. Unfortunately, the whole mess was now affecting them badly enough that it seemed Haruhi wasn't the only one to notice. Their hearts just weren't in their act, and several of the girls asked if they were feeling well. Gratefully taking the offered out, Hikaru 'admitted' they were suffering from a bit of a cold. The flood of sympathy that resulted probably more than made up for any revenue losses that might have been caused by their lack of enthusiasm. But they couldn't keep that up forever, and they had to do something to break this stalemate they were caught in. Preferably before it ate one or both of them alive. "Let's switch it up," Hikaru suggested abruptly when they took their first break. "What? Now?" Kaoru asked, startled. "Sure," Hikaru nodded firmly. "This is getting out of hand, Kaoru. We need to do something to distract the girls - and us. Switching places will force us to think about being each other instead of brooding." Trading places had always been one of their favourite ways of entertaining themselves. Not that anybody could tell them apart to start with, but they knew they were very different people. Seeing how well they could act like each other was a challenge. Maybe spending an afternoon thinking like him would make Kaoru realize what a difficult position Hikaru was in. Maybe it would even make his twin forgive him. "Hey, I know!" Hikaru added, inspired. "Let's see if we can fool Haruhi! If we're really trying, I mean. That ought to be enough of a challenge to keep us occupied. Think we can do it?" Kaoru looked thoughtful. "Yeah... I think we could if we put some effort into it," he agreed. "What the hell, why not. It's been a while anyway." Gleefully Hikaru set to work fixing his hair to lie in the other direction. He didn't think this would really solve anything, but at least it couldn't make things worse. And anything that got them out of this destructive rut would be a good thing.
"Hi... Hikaru..." His twin blushed and looked up at him uncertainly, from much closer than usual. The 'slip and catch' routine had gone off without a hitch, and now they were pressed tightly together in a very suggestive pose. Kaoru looked back at his brother, his expression one of fierce protectiveness. "I've got you, Kaoru," he murmured in a husky voice, as if the position was affecting him and he was trying to hide it. "You know I'd never let you be hurt." The girls squealed and sighed, and Hikaru fluttered his lashes and looked coy. "I know you wouldn't, Hikaru." His imitation of Kaoru's voice was perfect, just as Kaoru's imitation of him had been. They'd had a great deal of practice at it, after all. Maybe it should have felt strange to address someone else as if they were him, but they'd been doing this so often and for so long that he answered to 'Hikaru' as readily as to 'Kaoru'. Given that even their nannies hadn't been able to tell them apart, there was no way to be certain which of them had started with which name, anyway. They'd settled it between themselves when they'd been five, but it was a fifty-fifty chance they'd chosen wrong. Slowly, drawing out the time they spent in contact as if he couldn't bear to let go, he pulled Hikaru back to his feet. His twin was still blushing and keeping his eyes averted, and the girls were going nuts. Being able to blush on cue was one of their best moneymakers. Hikaru had been right about one thing, at least. The exercise was distracting them and making it easier to perform for the club. Kaoru felt better than he had in days, though he didn't trust it to last. For once he actually regretted it when Kyoya indicated that they could take their second break. With a brief exchanged glance they agreed to stay in character for the break and the final round of Hosting. Neither of them wanted to break the fragile truce. On the other hand, Kaoru didn't really want to stand around talking, either. He knew avoidance wasn't the answer, but it helped for the moment. Chances were good that Hikaru would take the opportunity to make people think Kaoru was also spending time close to Haruhi, and Kaoru didn't particularly want to watch. Except, as he discovered when he ducked into the back room, Haruhi was already there. It was just the two of them, though that could change at any moment. "Hey," he greeted her, heading towards her. Long habit made it Hikaru's tone and inflection when he spoke, since he was 'in character'. She was studying - no surprise there. The Host Club took up a lot of the time she would have otherwise spent studying, and she made up for it at every opportunity. But she looked up at him with no sign of irritation at being interrupted, and smiled at him. "Hi. On break?" Kaoru almost tripped, because there was so much more warmth in her voice and expression than he was used to seeing. Belatedly it occurred to him that she must think he was Hikaru. Even though he'd stayed in character and the whole point had been to see if they could fool Haruhi, he realized he'd subconsciously expected her to know it was him. He should tell her the truth. They'd proved they could fool her and that was the point. Better yet, he should turn around and leave so she wouldn't be embarrassed when she realized she'd looked at the wrong twin that way. He should, he knew he should, but he couldn't get his feet to move. How often in the last week had he imagined what it would be like to see that look on her face? Haruhi was far too self-contained to indulge in the sort of theatrical displays of affection that most of the girls seemed to think were normal. But that very reserve made the quiet warmth in her eyes feel so much more powerful. All the jealousy he'd slowly been shoving away came surging back, and he found it hard to breathe. He wanted her to look at him like that, like just being with him made her that happy. Not for the first time or for the last, he cursed himself for pushing Hikaru into that first date. "Are you okay?" she asked. Jolted out of his thoughts, he realized she'd stood and come over to him. She put a hand on his arm in concern, and suddenly it felt like she was much too close. Kaoru swallowed hard to try to clear his throat, intending to reassure her and get the hell out of there. Before he got the first word out, a desperate and insane urge swept over him and utterly sidetracked him. She thought he was Hikaru. This wouldn't have been the first time his twin slipped away to be with her for a few minutes during club time. If he asked her to go with him to, say, one of the change rooms... It was wrong; it was worse than wrong, it was unthinkable. But he was thinking it, and once he'd started he couldn't make himself stop. This might be his one and only chance to find out what it would be like. "Yeah, I'm fine," he said, burying himself firmly in his brother's persona. Hikaru, he was Hikaru, and this was his girlfriend. "Sorry, I was just kinda lost in my own thoughts. Do you..." There he faltered, having no idea how Hikaru would phrase a request to go make out. He nearly broke character, shocked at the realization that there was something about his twin that he didn't know. But either Hikaru had never figured out how to blatantly ask either, or Haruhi just assumed his hesitation was due to his earlier preoccupation, because she just smiled again and nodded. At least that put him on more familiar ground. He'd watched Hikaru lead Haruhi off more than enough times over the last week to know how his twin acted. Kaoru reached out and caught her hand firmly in his, praying she wouldn't notice the way he was trembling. The little curtained alcoves they used to change had more than enough room in them for two people to stand at a comfortable conversation distance. But Haruhi stayed as close to him as if there had been barely enough room for them both. Kaoru slipped an arm around her waist, and she turned in his arms and lifted her face to his. Heart pounding, Kaoru closed the remaining distance between them. Her mouth was sweet and soft against his, and she wound her arms around his neck to pull him closer. It was nothing like he had imagined kissing would be, but it was instantly addicting. Stifling an involuntary moan, he put his hands on her hips and drew her closer against him. The heavy school blazers they both wore kept him from feeling the shape of her body against his, but warmth ran through him at the contact anyway. He tried to match what she was doing with her mouth and act like he knew what the hell he was doing, because if she realized this was the first time he'd ever kissed anyone it would be a dead giveaway that he wasn't Hikaru. After a moment she parted her lips, and he took that as an invitation to slide his tongue into her mouth. That didn't feel anything like he'd expected it to, either. The moment when his tongue met hers, it was as if an electric shock pulsed through his whole body. This time he couldn't stop the soft groan that escaped him, and she made a muffled sound of desire in return. Gods, no wonder Hikaru hadn't been able to talk about anything else. And no wonder he was constantly scheming to try to find more ways to spend time alone with Haruhi. Kaoru could have happily spent hours like this, exploring the taste and feel of her mouth and listening to the little noises she kept making. No wonder Hikaru was so adamantly attached to her, for that matter. If their positions had been reversed, Kaoru would have flatly refused to consider giving her up, too. He wasn't sure he could bear to give her up now, he just didn't have a choice in the matter. She was Hikaru's girlfriend - and Kaoru was the lowest kind of worm for tricking her like this. He pulled away abruptly, gasping for air and feeling like a fish out of water. She blinked up at him, startled, as he held her at arm's length and tried to find the strength to let go entirely. "Kaoru! You're crying!" she exclaimed softly, reaching up to brush off the tears he hadn't even realized he'd shed. "What's wrong?" "Nothing, I just... what did you call me?" He broke character in mid-sentence, stunned to hear his own name. "Kaoru," she repeated with a bewildered expression. "What... but... did you know it was me when you came in here?" he asked, floored. "Of course. You know I can tell you apart," she said, giving him an odd look. "But then... what are you doing?" he demanded. His mind was spinning in little circles. If she'd known it was him and not his twin, why had she come in here with him? Why had she looked at him that way? "Um... I thought I was kissing you," she said slowly. "Isn't that what you wanted?" Dazed, Kaoru stared at her. Haruhi could think in strange ways sometimes, but there wasn't a single duplicitous bone in her body. There was no way, just no way he could believe she would so casually cheat on her boyfriend. Which meant Hikaru wasn't her boyfriend. He'd never asked her to go steady at all, he'd just let Kaoru think he had. Suddenly all the guilt that had been eating at him about kissing his brother's girlfriend vanished in a wash of anger - and elation. Anger that Hikaru had lied to him, and elation that he hadn't yet lost his chance. "Will you go to dinner with me on Saturday?" he blurted out, almost stumbling over the words in his haste to get them out before he lost his courage. She chuckled, a warm sound that went straight to his gut and made him shiver in reaction to the answering heat it evoked. "I wondered how long it would take you to ask. Of course I will." She'd been waiting for him to ask? Did that mean it was really him that she wanted? But then why date Hikaru? Maybe she just liked them both and wanted a chance to compare before she decided. That made sense and it emphasized once again that she realized they were different. Unlike all the girls who'd confessed to them over the years, who hadn't really cared which twin they dated. Feeling like he'd won some kind of battle, Kaoru pulled her close and kissed her again. She laughed and kissed him back, then pulled away. "I have to go, my break must be up by now," she said, and he released her reluctantly. She checked quickly to see if there was anyone outside, then ducked out of the change room. Kaoru waited a moment before following her, trying to compose himself. There were so many conflicting emotions surging through him that he could hardly tell up from down. Mixed with the most amazing feelings he'd ever experienced was more rage than he'd ever felt towards his twin. There was still a bit of lingering guilt that he'd tried to trick Haruhi, and just to make things even more complicated he was also sympathetic to Hikaru's refusal to give her up. Finally he drew a deep breath and forced himself to focus. There was still no one in the back room when he emerged; he'd gotten lucky. He - both of them - needed to be more careful if they didn't want Tamaki to catch them at it. As he headed for the door, he remembered belatedly that he was supposed to be in character. He struggled to put himself back into Hikaru's frame of mind, but it was more difficult than it had ever been before. He was too angry with his twin, and too happy as himself. He'd taken two steps into the music room when someone grabbed him roughly by the shoulder and jolted him right back into his own identity. Kaoru found himself yanked back and slammed into the wall almost hard enough to knock the air out of him. Shocked, he looked up and found himself face to face with his twin - and Hikaru was very much not in character. In fact, his brother was absolutely furious, and his hands on Kaoru's shoulders were tight enough to hurt. Leaning in close, Hikaru snarled at him. "You asshole, you let Haruhi think you were me just so you could get her alone, didn't you? What the hell kind of bullshit are you trying to pull?" Hikaru hissed at him, keeping his voice low enough that nobody would be able to overhear him. Kaoru stared into his brother's enraged amber eyes, and something in him snapped. Hikaru had the nerve to call bullshit on him after the bastard had let Kaoru spend a whole week miserably believing that Haruhi was taken? "Haruhi!" he called, loud enough to draw her attention. Not that he needed to; every eye in the room had been on them from the moment Hikaru had grabbed him. "Which twin am I?" "Kaoru," she replied promptly, sounding puzzled. Thankfully she didn't ask why he wanted her to prove it again so soon. For a moment, Hikaru looked so angry that Kaoru honestly believed his brother was about to punch him. He glared back, daring Hikaru to try it. Kaoru would give as good as he got. Instead Hikaru shifted his grip to Kaoru's upper arm and forcibly dragged him towards the door. "We are not having this argument in public," he snapped, flicking a quick glance at their avid audience - Haruhi and Tamaki in particular. Kaoru gave a short, sharp nod and went willingly. The astonished and excited whispers broke out before the door had even closed behind them, but he didn't care. Let them gossip. The truth was between him and his twin. By mutual silent agreement they went to the music room across the hall, so the soundproofing would keep the others from eavesdropping. Kaoru had a feeling it would be the last thing they agreed on for quite a while. He caught Hikaru off guard by taking the initiative, rounding on his twin the moment they were in the room and before Hikaru had a chance to do more than open his mouth. "You son of a bitch, you deliberately let me believe that you'd asked her to be your girlfriend, so that I wouldn't ask her out," Kaoru raged, fists clenched. "No, you led me to believe it. You never even asked her, did you?" He might be the more levelheaded of the two of them, but that just meant he didn't lose his temper as fast, not that he didn't have one. He'd well and truly lost it now. "Yeah? Did you know that before or after you kissed her?" Hikaru retorted. Kaoru flushed despite his best efforts not to, but refused to let himself be sidetracked. "She knew it was me right from the start, and she invited me as much as the other way around." It hadn't really hit him until he said the words; that warm expression had been directed at him, Kaoru. "Face it, Hikaru, you fucked up and you wasted your best chance, and I'm not going to let you get a second one." "You... damn it, you already asked her out, didn't you?" Hikaru exclaimed, dismayed. "I'm not just going to take this lying down, Kaoru. I will fight you for her." "And I'll fight back," Kaoru said, his voice cold. "But the winner will be up to her." "What do you mean?" Hikaru asked, wary of such a seemingly obvious statement. "We both just go ask her to go steady and let her pick?" Kaoru successfully hid his wince at the idea, but it was an effort. That was the obvious solution, and given that she'd spent all her time with Hikaru up to this point it wasn't hard to guess which of them she would choose. Thankfully nobody knew Hikaru as well as Kaoru, and he'd spent years learning his twin's weak spots. "Oh sure, that's fair," Kaoru scoffed. "I haven't even had one date with her yet. First you let me believe you're going steady with her, and now this. What's wrong, Hikaru? Afraid if she has a chance to get to know me, she'll want me instead?" It was the sting to his brother's pride, not the appeal to his sense of fair play, that Kaoru was sure would buy him the time he needed. Hikaru was obviously afraid of exactly that, or he wouldn't have lied to Kaoru in the first place. But Hikaru's stubborn pride would never let him admit to a weakness like that. Sure enough Hikaru's face went pale, and he jerked back as if Kaoru had punched him. "I'm not afraid of anything," he snapped. "I'm just trying to spare you the heartbreak of having her turn you down after you've had a chance to try to win her over." "Then prove it," Kaoru challenged his twin, voice soft and dangerous. "We'll both date her, do anything we want to convince her except ask her outright to go steady. We wait for her to ask one of us." Hikaru considered it, eyes bright as he probed the idea to see if there were any traps or loopholes. "It'll take forever, doing it that way," he pointed out. "You think?" Kaoru gave him a mocking smile. "I don't know. From what I've seen, when she decides she wants something she doesn't let anything stand in her way. She's here at Ouran, isn't she?" "Fine, you're on," Hikaru said instantly, stung once again by the implication that Kaoru knew her better than he did. "Then I guess that makes us rivals." "I guess it does," Kaoru agreed. There was a moment of hesitation as they looked into each other's eyes, silently asking if they really wanted to become enemies. They could have taken that chance to turn back, but they both turned away instead. So be it. Maybe in the end, they were too alike after all.
When the twins had 'fought' in the past it had always been spectacularly public, and they'd had a great deal of fun coming up with dramatic ways to show their supposed anger with each other. But when it happened for real, the battle was more of a cold war. For more than three weeks they didn't speak to each other more than was absolutely necessary, and they were icily civil when forced to interact. They sat on either side of Haruhi in class and as far apart as possible in all other situations. One thing was certain, Hikaru reflected as he flirted half-heartedly with his assigned girls at the Host Club. They were never again going to be able to convince people that their staged spectacles were for serious. Not now that the real thing had been on display. "So, are you and Kaoru..." one of the girls began tentatively. He flicked a glance at her and she gulped and fell silent. Nobody quite had the nerve to ask when or if the twins were going to make up, or even what the fight had been about. Not after their reaction to the first few questions, anyway. There had been a huge outpouring of sympathy for both of them at the beginning of the fight, but as time went by and the twins showed no signs of reconciling, the girls had begun to get bored. Fewer people were asking for either of them, and if things continued in this trend they were going to be in serious trouble soon. The 'forbidden love' aspect had been what drew the girls to them, and if they didn't find something to replace it with they were going to end up with no customers at all. Trying to do some damage control, he gave the girl a flirty smile. "What can I say, ladies? Kaoru just can't compete with your charms. I'd rather spend the time with you." They giggled and fluttered, but looked disappointed. By the time Kyoya called the end of the session Hikaru was fairly certain he'd lost their interest entirely. Scratch three more off his list. He looked around automatically for Haruhi, hoping to get to her before Kaoru did. Most people seemed to be assuming that they were using Haruhi as a convenient intermediary, and that was fine with him. It meant that Tamaki thought nothing of them seeking out her company, as long as they were careful to keep things utterly platonic in public. He found his brother first; Kaoru was looking towards the door to the back room with a worried expression. Hikaru's heart lifted. Maybe Kaoru had just asked Haruhi to do something with him, and she'd turned him down. Maybe she was finally going indicate her preference. It wouldn't fix the mess entirely, but if he and Kaoru weren't actively rivals they might at least be able to speak to each other again. Hikaru wasn't willing to back down, but he honestly wasn't sure how much more of this he could take. To his surprise, Kaoru headed towards him. He still looked worried, which was a distinct improvement from the frozen, polite expression he usually used with his brother these days, but it made Hikaru uneasy. "What is it?" Hikaru asked warily as Kaoru reached him. His twin ended up standing much closer to him than had been their habit of late. Hikaru heard excited whispers start up among the girls, and wondered if Kaoru was just trying to drive their numbers back up. Well, if so, Hikaru was willing to play along for the moment. "Kyoya just pulled Haruhi into the back room with him," Kaoru murmured, keeping his voice low. "Yeah, so?" Hikaru asked, baffled as to why that would make Kaoru look so worried. "What, you don't think he's going to ask her out, do you?" That was the last thing they needed, another rival. Kaoru gave him an impatient look. "Hikaru, we've been losing the club an awful lot of money lately, and I'm pretty sure Kyoya has realized that Haruhi is what we're fighting over. What if he decides to take it out on her instead of us?" Hikaru's head came up like a deer scenting a hunter, and he stared wide-eyed at his twin. "Shit. This would be the perfect chance for him to put her back in debt to the club. Damn it, we can't let her pay for our issues." "Agreed," Kaoru said grimly. "Let's go." They didn't need to discuss what they were going to do; they fell back into working as a seamless unit as easily as if they'd never stopped. They ducked out of the main door of the music room, and headed quickly for the other door into the back room. Once there they paused, and Kaoru carefully inched it open far enough for them to peer inside. As they crouched down so they'd both be able to get a look, Hikaru was hit by a wave of longing. He'd missed his twin fiercely, but he hadn't realized how much he'd wanted their easy synchronicity back until this moment. Sure enough Kyoya looked like he'd backed Haruhi into the proverbial corner, and he was wearing his 'upset accountant' frown as he spoke to her. Thankfully they were close enough to the door for the twins to be able to hear them. "...has to stop," Kyoya was saying. "Things cannot be permitted to continue this way." Far from being intimidated, Haruhi looked a little baffled. "I agree, but as long as they keep refusing to speak to each other I don't think there's much the rest of us can do." "Not 'the rest of us'," Kyoya corrected her. "You have to deal with it. This fight won't end until you put a stop to it." "Me?" Haruhi was startled. "What have I got to do with anything?" "Gods." Hikaru kept his whisper low enough not to carry, but his anguish came through clearly anyway. "She's oblivious." Too softly to be heard inside the room, he thumped his head repeatedly against the doorframe. "How can someone as smart as she is not have realized that we're fighting over her?" Kaoru moaned in agreement. "This is never going to end," Hikaru muttered hopelessly. "Shh," Kaoru said, and they leaned in close to the door again. "...deal with it once and for all. Pick one of them and tell the other that it's over," Kyoya ordered her flatly. "Or all the lost revenue so far and all future losses will be your responsibility." Kyoya folded his arms across his chest and gave her a stern look. "Pick one?" Haruhi repeated. She'd gone from confused to indignant in the blink of an eye. She planted her hands on her hips and matched Kyoya glare for glare. "I would never try to come between them like that! They come as a set. Anyone who tries to date one of them without involving the other is in for a rude awakening. They've been too close for too long for someone else to break that bond." Stunned, Hikaru pulled back and braced his hand against the wall. He needed the support; it felt like his legs had turned to jelly. On the other side of the door Kaoru had done the same, and when their eyes met they traded identical dazed expressions. "We come as a set," Kaoru echoed her softly, astonished. "It's so simple. We come as a set, of course we do." "Trust Haruhi to see things at right angles to the rest of the world. Is she still the oblivious one, or is it us after all?" "I think it's us." "I think you're right." Looking back into the room, Hikaru watched as Haruhi continued to chastise a visibly startled Kyoya. What were the odds of them finding a girl who not only could tell them apart and was attractive in her own right, but who understood them better than they understood themselves? Approximately one in six billion, because Haruhi was one of a kind. Feeling like a massive weight had been lifted off his chest, Hikaru looked at his twin and a wild grin spread across his face. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" "Aren't I always?" Kaoru replied with an identical smile. He softly closed the door again, and then held his hand out to Hikaru. "No more fighting?" "No more jealousy," Hikaru agreed firmly, and took the offered hand. "We always did do best when we shared." They pulled each other into a tight hug, and Hikaru would have sworn he could feel the shock as the world put itself back in its rightful order. "So. Who apologizes to whom?" he asked when they finally separated. "We'd better put on one hell of a show to make up for the last couple of weeks." "I will," Kaoru said, lowering his eyes with a hint of a blush on his cheeks. "I owe you one anyway. I... Haruhi knew from the start it was me that day, but I thought we had her fooled until she said my name afterwards." "You what?" Hikaru started to get angry all over again, but he just couldn't sustain it. The truth was, he'd probably have done the same or worse if their positions had been reversed. "Yeah, well. If I hadn't lied to you in the first place you wouldn't have been that desperate, so I owe you one as well." They both nodded, a silent acknowledgement that the apologies had been heard and accepted. Now they could put it behind them, and hopefully never think about it again. "I'm the 'uke', though," Kaoru pointed out. "You're perceived as being the more dominant and independent one, so it makes more sense for me to be the one to decide I just can't live without you anymore and back down first." "Right, but how do we keep them from suspecting that we already did the making up while we were out here?" Hikaru asked. "They'll want to know what we spent all this time doing." "That's easy," Kaoru replied, and the quality of his grin was enough to convey his thoughts to his twin. "Perfect," Hikaru agreed, a wicked light in his eyes. "Let's do it." When he re-entered the music room, Hikaru's hair and clothes were mussed and he was visibly favouring his left leg. Conversations came to a screeching halt when people saw him, but he lifted his head proudly and ignored the attention, acting as though he always looked like he'd come straight from a fight. Kaoru slunk through the door a few moments later, limping on his right foot and keeping his shoulders hunched and eyes down. He was just as artfully mussed as Hikaru - it had taken them the better part of ten minutes to get the look just right. Neither of them sported so much as a single bruise, but it was amazing what body language and a bit of strategic rumpling could accomplish. Everyone in the room instantly assumed that they'd just been in a brawl. Well, almost everyone. Hikaru saw Haruhi giving the two of them a bemused smile, and somehow it didn't surprise him that she was the only one to realize it was an act. In all respects he and Kaoru continued to treat each other exactly as they had been for the last few weeks; which was to say, they each did their best to pretend the other one didn't exist. They took their places, and their plan bore instant fruit. There was a fresh rush of sympathy towards both of them, and the girls flocked to them. Hikaru put up with the mothering, but answered all questions about what had happened by changing the subject abruptly. A few times he let himself drift off and stare into space with a pained look, and it made the girls coo and flutter each time he did it. He didn't need to look to know that Kaoru was doing the same, only with more emphasis on 'mournful' and less on 'grieving'. Hikaru was also paying close attention to the chatter of the girls around his brother, and he was finally rewarded when he heard one of them give the cue they'd agreed to act on. "Kaoru-kun, you seem so distracted," one of the girls simpered. "Are you very hurt?" "No, I just..." Kaoru trailed off, his voice anguished, and Hikaru had to admire his brother's sense of artistry. "It's not my body that hurts, it's... it's..." Hikaru could actually hear the wobble in his twin's lip, and only long practice kept him from snickering as the girls lapped it up. "I... I can't stand it anymore!" Kaoru burst out, and there was a startled gasp from the girls around him as he flung himself to his feet. "Hikaru! Hikaru, please, I can't take this, please forgive me!" Kaoru's eyes welled with unshed tears. He'd always been good at crying on cue, one of the few things about him that Hikaru couldn't quite perfectly mimic, but when Hikaru met his brother's eyes he sensed they weren't entirely an act this time. Some of it was reaction to the very real relief of the end of hostilities between them. Hikaru glared at his twin as Kaoru crossed the room, but allowed his gaze to soften when Kaoru threw himself down to kneel at Hikaru's feet. "Please!" Kaoru begged again, letting one tear slide artfully down his cheek as he looked at the ground. "Please, I was wrong and you were right. I swear it will never happen again. I don't want to fight any more. Hikaru..." Another tear fell, and this time Hikaru caught the droplet on his finger, brushing his thumb over Kaoru's cheek. "Don't cry," he murmured, and he didn't have to try very hard to make his voice husky. He was no less relieved than his twin. "Please don't, Kaoru, you know I can't stand to see you cry. I'm sorry, too. We were both wrong." "Then you'll forgive me?" Kaoru pleaded, lifting his eyes. Hikaru leaned over him protectively, cupping his twin's face in both hands as if he was about to kiss Kaoru. The girls squealed, and he saw a flicker of amusement go through his brother's eyes. "If you can forgive me for hurting you that way," Hikaru murmured tenderly. "Kaoru..." "Hikaru..." Kaoru smiled through his tears, now flowing freely, and Hikaru heard at least one flash bulb go off. "I can forgive you anything as long as you stay with me." "Always," Hikaru promised passionately, and the girls went wild. Despite the fact that they spent the rest of the last round of Hosting effectively ignoring the girls and supposedly absorbed in each other, Hikaru had a sneaking suspicion they'd put a good dent into recouping the revenue losses caused by their fight. Kyoya certainly looked happier as they closed up for the day. They caught up to Haruhi on her way out of the school, coming up behind her on either side and each reaching to take one of her hands. She wound her fingers around theirs, smiling up at each of them in turn. "Let us take you to dinner?" Hikaru asked her. She was remarkably stubborn about how much money she would allow them to spend on a date with her, but he was learning to adapt to her restrictions. Presumably Kaoru was too. "We're celebrating," Kaoru continued. "You can pick the restaurant..." "...but you have to let us treat you," Hikaru finished. "Together? All three of us?" Haruhi asked, and looked both relieved and joyful when they nodded. "Oh, good! You've finally got things worked out, then. I told Kyoya-senpai you'd manage. I'm glad. Whatever it was, it was eating you both alive." "Haruhi..." Hikaru had to know, or he'd spend the rest of his life wondering. "Hmm?" she said, tilting her head at him. It was Kaoru who actually asked the question they were both thinking. "Do you really not know what we were fighting about?" "No," she shook her head. "I couldn't get either of you to talk about it. But it will be much nicer now that we can all go out together instead of trying to split my time between the two of you. We don't get enough time together as it is." They exchanged a look over her head that was full of amused exasperation. She still had no idea - it had clearly never even occurred to her that they might fight over her, because in her mind it had been obvious from the start that they would share. When they spoke, however, their voices held nothing but grateful affection. "Don't ever change, Haruhi." "We like you too much just the way you are."

Комментариев нет: