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Game Two

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The twins are grinning, wide and bright and dangerous. Haruhi goes still, wary. Her books lay open on the table before her, and she should have known better than to be lulled into a false sense of peace when in the company of Hikaru and Kaoru.

"Haruhi," they say, "Haruhi, let's *play.*"

"I'm busy," Haruhi says, her voice firm. She knows it is useless: if Haruhi is a rock, the Hitachiins are a tidal wave. They are a natural disaster to be weathered.

The twins cheerfully ignore Haruhi's protest. They bend their heads together, lips pursed. "Poker?" Kaoru suggests, and Hikaru immediately amends, "strip poker?"

Haruhi frowns at them. "*No.*"

They shrug, grins widening--they are all teeth and glinting eyes, and Haruhi knows that there is no escaping.

Kaoru taps at his chin thoughtfully. "I know!" he says, "we should play the *which one is Hikaru* game!"

Haruhi slides her books into her bag, eying the door. It seems that Hikaru and Kaoru are hardly paying any attention to her, caught up in their own familiar drama.

"Kaoru," Hikaru says, gently chiding, "Haruhi knows us too well for that game to offer any amusement."

Kaoru flushes. His face falls, practiced dejection.

Hikaru grasps his brother's chin, turning Kaoru's face towards him. "Kaoru," he breathes, "don't despair! Your idea was a fine one--we're simply going to have to be especially *creative* in order to play with Haruhi."

Kaoru reaches out, and snags Haruhi's sleeve, halting her in mid-step. She stares at the door--so close!--and reluctantly turns back towards the twins.

"Luckily," Hikaru says, "I have an idea."

"A wonderful idea," Kaoru says.

"A fine student such as Haruhi requires a real challenge." Hikaru pulls a scrap of cloth from the pocket of his jacket. The last thing Haruhi sees is the predatory gleam in his eyes before Hikaru ties the blindfold around her eyes.

I will remain calm, Haruhi thinks. She listens to the twins moving, circling her, and can not help but shiver. A chuckle, and then a twin blows lightly across Haruhi's ear. She jumps.

"You've graduated to the next level of the *which one is Hikaru* game. We've never needed a higher level before you, Haruhi."

"We're interested to see how well you do." He nips lightly at Haruhi's earlobe. "Guess who?"

Haruhi twitches. "This isn't funny."

In chorus: "oh, yes it is!"

A thumb arcs across Haruhi's lower lip. Another set of hands slides from Haruhi's shoulders, and down the length of her arms. She breathes in, slowly exhales, and thinks about tearing off the blindfold.

"You're cute when you're flustered."

"I am *not* your plaything," Haruhi says, as stern as she can manage.

"We know that--"

"--you're different."

A kiss on the nape of her neck, just above the collar of her jacket. Lips brush lightly across Haruhi's knuckles, her hands caught in a steady grip. Haruhi swallows, her mouth dry, and reminds herself that the twins are *terrible,* but mean no harm.

"Go on--"

"--make a guess."

There is a hand on Haruhi's hip, and another cradling the back of her head. One of the twins brushes a fleeting kiss against Haruhi's lips, and another, before nipping at her lower lip and withdrawing.

Haruhi's face feels hot. Blushing is a mistake, and more encouragement than the twins will ever need. "Hikaru," Haruhi guesses.

They move, one twin stepping to the side, and the other taking his place in front of Haruhi. His hands cup her face, turn her head up. This kiss is longer, wetter.

"Wrong!" Hikaru says, as he tugs at the blindfold.

Haruhi blinks at the sudden light, and Kaoru and Hikaru's smug smiles. She decides that smacking them both would be a fleeting satisfaction, and not worth the chaos that would surely follow.

Kaoru sucks on his lower lip. "It seems dear Haruhi doesn't know us so well as she thought." He sighs. "Really, I'm disappointed."

Hikaru is magnanimous. "I'm sure she'll do better next time, Kaoru."

"Next time?" Haruhi repeats. She is ignored.

"I'm sure you're right, Hikaru."

Haruhi drags a hand across her eyes. "You two," she begins, and stops, at a loss for words. "I'm leaving," she says, finally. Maybe she will try studying in the gardens from now on.

"Ta," Kaoru says, waving cheerily.

Haruhi makes her escape.