It was another theme afternoon at the Host Club. Hani had introduced Tamaki to Studio Ghibli almost two weeks ago after discovering the truly upsetting fact that he had never seen "My Neighbor Totoro." They'd subsequently marathoned every Ghibli movie ever released and Kyouya had started collecting props and costumes and scouting locations for what everyone knew was coming: Spending the next couple of weeks cosplaying a different Ghibli movie every day.
Today was "Howl's Moving Castle" and, of course, Tamaki was resplendent and completely in his element dressed up as the flirtatious wizard Howl. Haruhi had found herself (quite literally since she'd had no warning beforehand) dressed up as Sophie with a cute little grey bobbed wig and plain blue dress. The twins were darting around causing mischief and making puns about being "hot" with both dressed up as Calcifer. Hani, of course, was adorable dressed up as little Markl; he even had a big bushy beard that he'd put on to pretend he was an old man. And Mori was truly in his element dressed as the tall but silent Turnip Head.
Kyouya was the only odd man out since he'd outright refused to dress up as the Witch of the Wastes or Madame Suliman's pet dog. So, instead, since he already had the glasses, they'd just dressed him up as Hayao Miyazaki himself, so at least he wasn't entirely off-theme. Besides, with the way he ordered everyone around it only made sense for him to be dressed as the esteemed director.
They were all up in the drama club's costume shop since they didn't have to do much to it to turn it into a tea room resembling Howl's bedroom -- it was already full of lavish and expensive costumes, props, and furniture. Haruhi had been shocked and a little appalled to find out, in fact, that all of the costumes were made from high quality silks and wools, and that all of the jewelry was real rather than just costume. It just helped her get into character, though, since she just had to remember to replace "the drama club" and "Tamaki" with "Howl" when she talked about wasteful spending (she got a few reprimands from Kyouya when she slipped).
Everything was going well, though, otherwise. Until the lights suddenly flickered out. A few of the clients cried out, there was the sound of rushing footsteps, but the lights quickly came back on again.
Then there was a scream.
One of Tamaki's clients was slumped over on one of the chaises in his area, a knife sticking out of her back.
The Host Club immediately moved into action. Kyouya announced for all of the other clients to please move to the other side of the room while Tamaki checked on the stabbed girl, then sent Haruhi out to call the police since Tamaki had insisted that they leave their cell phones in the music room to really "get into character."
Tamaki announced that the girl was dead just as Haruhi announced that the doors were locked from the outside.
The clients were in a panic when the lights went out again and another girl was slumped to the ground with another knife in her back. Kyouya was in the middle of rallying Hani and Mori to break the door down when Tamaki stopped him.
"Don't you see? That's just what the killer wants! He probably has an accomplice waiting outside the door right now, ready to kill us all the second we leave!"
Some of the girls cried out. Kyouya looked from them to the victims and back to Tamaki, "Then what do you suggest we do about this?"
Tamaki took a pose, "Find the killer and solve the mystery!"
The twins found a few things among the costumes and outfitted Tamaki with a hat, cape, and pipe until he looked like Howl cosplaying Sherlock Holmes. Hani asked him what they should do first.
"First we must find out who those bodies belong to!"
So Mori and Haruhi went over to check the two victims. They were both first years and both members of the drama club.
"We've never had clients from the drama club before," Haruhi said, confused.
"Yes," Kyouya explained, "they tend to avoid the Host Club as a 'base form of theater' since we perform only to entertain whereas they consider themselves 'true artists.' However several of them chose to come by today," he glanced at Tamaki, "I assumed to see what we did in person and to make sure we took care of their facilities."
"Aha! Don't you see?" Tamaki asked. There was no answer. "Clearly the killer has a grudge against drama club! Now all we have to do is determine who has the most to gain from the death of the drama club!"
He turned to consider everyone there, the clients, the other host members ... and then turned back to Kyouya, pointing accusingly.
"Kyouya! You said yourself that the drama club looks down on us!"
Kyouya adjusted his glasses unconcernedly and only said, "No."
"What do you mean?!" Tamaki demanded. "We all heard it!"
"That's hardly proof of guilt," Kyouya pointed out. "With that kind of evidence we could easily say that you're the killer."
Tamaki recoiled, "What, why?!"
"You were in charge of acquiring the space for today's special meeting. Yet, as has already been pointed out, the drama club doesn't much care for us, so why would they so easily allow us to use their costume shop for one of our meetings? Perhaps they didn't. But you, in your determination, decided to gain the use of it through any means necessary."
"Yeah, Tono," Hikaru chimed in. "Maybe you killed the entire drama club just so we could use this room for our meeting."
Kaoru slid up next to his brother, "I bet the entire drama club room's just one big massacre site."
Tamaki, getting more nervous, started backing away from his clubmates.
Hani peered at him tearfully over Mori's shoulder, "Is that true, Tama-chan? Did you really kill those girls?"
"N-no, of course I didn't! If I really killed the whole drama club," he countered triumphantly, "then how were those girls still alive?! I went to talk to them yesterday!"
Haruhi barely needed time to consider that and just casually pointed out, "They could have been absent yesterday, or missed the club meeting for some other reason."
"Come to think of it," Hikaru said, "I didn't see either of them in class yesterday."
But Haruhi just wryly pointed out, "That's because you're not in their class."
Kaoru completely ignored that, though, grinning maliciously at Tamaki, "I bet they came here to tell Tono that they knew what he'd done and threaten to tell the whole school about it, so he panicked and killed them before we found out how evil he truly is."
"Well that's pointless," Haruhi replied, "we already know that."
"Now to be fair this is a whole new level of evil than previously expected," Kyouya pointed out.
Hani just cried, "No, Tama-chan, I can't believe you would do something so mean!"
Tamaki just stared at them, backing towards the door, stuttering and gasping, trying to find a way to defend himself.
When the lights went out again.
Another wail went up from the girls and they heard Tamaki grunt in surprise. When the lights came back up, he fell to the floor with another knife sticking out of his back. The girls screamed.
Haruhi was startled, but narrowed her eyes at the knife, glancing between it and the ones in the backs of the other victims and muttering to herself, "They're all the same."
Kyouya glanced down at her, "What was that, Haruhi?"
"The knives," she said, pointing at each one. "They're all the same. They're all sticking out exactly the same way."
She made her way over to Tamaki, ignoring the pleading from Hani and their clients for her to be careful and to stay away, and kneeled down beside his body to examine the knife more closely. She dipped her finger into the liquid seeping into his Sherlock cape. It came back bright red and sticky and she looked at it for a moment before sticking it in her mouth to taste.
"Let's just dump his body already and get back to the party," the twins complained in unison.
And in the next instant, Tamaki was miraculously on his feet, Hani clinging to his leg proclaiming how happy he was that Tamaki had come back to life as he shouted accusingly at the Hitachins, "That's how you react to your leader being brutally murdered?!"
They just grinned as Haruhi announced, "Corn syrup!" and stood up to peel the knife off of his back. Tamaki sweated as she brought it over to show the rest of the club members and their clients.
"It's just a trick prop, see?" she said, poking at the tip and making the lower half retract into the half with the handle. "The blood is just corn syrup and food coloring and some silicone with adhesive on it," she gestured to a bit of bubbling "blood" around the seam of the knife, "to keep it attached to his back."
The girls crowded around Haruhi, cooing about how brave and smart she was to figure the mystery out, and then the other two victims popped up, laughing smugly.
"You see? It worked perfectly!" the first victim announced.
"What did?" Haruhi asked them, confused. "Why were you trying to scare us and our clients?"
"It was part of the deal Tamaki made to get them to agree to use the room."
Everyone turned to Kyouya and Tamaki asked him accusingly, "How did you know?!"
Kyouya didn't answer, just adjusted his glasses and threw on a smile, turning to their clients to apologize for all of the excitement, and offering them ten percent off of their Host Club merchandise in apology to anyone who was dissatisfied with their service.
Meanwhile, the two drama club members explained, "We wanted to show you amateurs what real actors looked like."
"Being able to die believably on stage is the mark of true talent for a performer."
"Whatever," Hikaru said, waving that off dismissively. "Why do you have so many fake knives anyway?"
"Obviously," the second victim answered, "we do quite a bit of The Bard's work."
"At least one play a semester," her clubmate added.
The two of them collected their third knife and warned Tamaki to put the Sherlock getup back when they were done and left the Host Club to finish up their meeting.
Tamaki watched as Kyouya settled things with their clients and sheepishly looked over at Haruhi, "I'm sorry for scaring you."
She blinked up at him, "Oh, I don't know that I was scared. I just wish you'd warned us about it ahead of time, senpai. That's not the kind of thing you just spring on people." He started pouting, but she just smiled, "Still, it could have been fun, if we planned it properly. You did give a pretty convincing performance, senpai."
Tamaki looked down at her, how cute she looked in that blue dress, her silver wig sparkling in the lights of the costume shop, and that open and honest smile of hers. He took her hand, placing it against his chest, over the blue glass pendant. Tamaki watched her flush, a little nervous and a little confused, and told her gently, "Sophie, you have my heart."
And just like that all of the fluster drained out of her face and Haruhi just looked up at him blandly, "You were more convincing as a dead body." With that, she took back her hand and went over to help Kyouya see the girls out, ignoring Tamaki being mockingly comforted by the twins behind her.