One could barely tell it was a library, with all the chattering going on. Of course, in a school like Ouran High, talking was one of the most popular student past-times. The girls bragged about the new designer handbags they bought and the boys bragged about the companies they would one day inherit, while all the students shared in a love for gossip. For most people, the constant din would make it hard to get any studying done at all, but there were those who had learned to tune out the annoying voices who didn't understand that a library was supposed to be a quiet place to read and study.
Miku Hirosaka was one of those few. A second-year student at Ouran, she had yet to fall prey to the prattle bug. She assumed it was thanks in part to her family's humble beginnings. They were what was known as 'new money': A family with no prestige who had just recently acquired their fortune. Because they spent most of their life as commoners, she had attended public schools through junior high. But when it came time for her to enter high school, her father insisted on her attending nothing less than the best, most elite school in Japan... which happened to be Ouran High.
Of course, Miku had her own theories about why none of the other students had invited her into their social circles. She was a bit on the shy side, and intimidated by the wealth of the other students, in spite of the fact that she was just as wealthy as any of them, now. She also missed a lot of school for personal reasons that, thankfully, the superintendent seemed to understand.
There were rumors circulating around the school about her, of course. This she knew, because the gossips were never concerned with keeping their voices down when they discussed the latest rumors. Some people thought her father was a professional hitman who had to flee the country so he couldn't be arrested for some high-profile murder. Others were convinced she was the assassin, and that was why she missed so much school. No one ever bothered to ask her directly, though. But she really didn't mind. She actually found the rumors to be quite amusing, at times, and as long as people stayed out of her real personal life, she could deal with a few ridiculously far-fetched stories.
Sighing to herself, she continued reading the article she had found in the latest edition of the Journal of Cardiology and Vascular Medicine. She had to admit, Ouran had one of the most extensive medical libraries she had ever seen – likely due to the fact that all three sons of the Ootori Medical Group's chairman, Yoshio Ootori, attended Ouran. While the eldest two had already graduated, the youngest was in the same year as her, though in a different section.
One of the paragraphs in the article caught her attention, and she re-read it aloud under her breath, scribbling the information down in her notebook before checking the citation at the bottom of the page.
"Strategic Approaches in Coronary Intervention by Stephen G. Ellis," she said to herself, committing the name and author of the book to memory. Closing the journal, she got up from her seat and made her way to the second floor of the library, where the medical texts were kept, stopping briefly at the card catalog along the way.
"For a school with so much money, you would think they would have computers to look stuff up on," she muttered as she flipped through the cards, looking for the number of the book she was searching for. Once she found it, she quickly jotted it down on a pad of paper sitting on top of the large bank of small wooden drawers and tore the top piece of paper off before climbing the stairs to the second floor.
Clutching the paper in her hands, she checked it against the numbers posted on the end of each row of books until she came to the correct section, then turned and made her way through the stacks in search of her desired text.
"617.412 ELL," she repeated over and over as she checked the spines of the books, stopping about halfway down the aisle. She kneeled down and began reading the numbers aloud to herself.
"617.412 ASY, 617.412 DER..." her voice trailed off as she reached the final book on the bottom shelf. Sighing heavily, she looked up at the top shelf of the next section.
"Figures," she mumbled, standing back up and looking around for something to stand on. Her eyes fell on a ladder hooked to a track above the bookcases, and she smiled at her sudden change in fortune. Walking back to the end of the aisle, she grabbed the ladder and slid it along the track until it was standing before the books she had just examined, then climbed to the top to examine the books on the top shelf of the next section.
"617.412... ELL," she called in a quiet, sing-song voice while examining the numbers on the spines. "There!"
With the book in sight, she reached out to take it from the shelf and found her fingers falling a few inches short. Frowning a bit, she grasped the sides of the ladder and began hopping, shimmying the ladder closer bit by bit. After a couple of inches she stopped and again tried the reach the book. This time her fingertips managed to make contact with the top of the spine before falling away uselessly.
"Come on, you son of a bitch," she growled, standing on her tip-toes and stretching her arm as far as she could as she made another attempt to remove the book from its shelf. She felt the book starting to come loose from the others around it and grinned triumphantly, but her smile fell when she felt her foot starting to slip off the ladder. At the very moment she finally had the book in her hand, she lost her balance and fell from the top of the ladder, heading for the floor several feet below.
Kyouya Ootori glanced at his watch as he casually wandered through the stacks in the medical section of the Second Reading Room, sighing when he realized he had to get to the Host Club. He enjoyed his time spent there, but a part of him wished Tamaki would learn to take more responsibility. He was only the vice president, after all, whereas Tamaki was the president and therefore should be the one in control and in charge – not him. Although, the fact that he worked so hard to keep the club afloat and running smoothly did provide him with an excuse to forgo catering to the ladies on the occasions that he just didn't feel like it.
Sighing again, he placed the medical journal he had been reading – the one he wanted to read had already been checked out – into his briefcase, and tucked his notebook full of information for the Host Club under his arm, then began his slow retreat away from the sanctuary of the corner table on the second floor. His only respite lay in the comforting knowledge that today was not one of Tamaki's so-called 'theme days.' Aside from that, he could only hope that the afternoon would go smoothly and without incident.
"Come on, you son of a bitch."
The voice interrupted his thoughts as he rounded the corner of one of the stacks of books, and his eyes fell upon a girl with mousy brown hair who was feebly attempting to reach a book on the top shelf. Kyouya smirked a bit at her choice of words, thinking how unbecoming it was for a young lady of high social standing to use such language. He was about to offer to help her retrieve the book when she suddenly lost her balance and toppled backwards off the ladder. Without a second thought, he dropped his things and lunged forward, holding out his arms to catch her.
Luckily, he had always had quick reflexes, and managed to prevent her from falling to the floor. Though the force of her body falling into his arms sent him stumbling backwards into the shelves of books, he still managed to keep his own balance. Sighing in relief at the averted tragedy, he looked down and found her clutching a book to her chest, her eyes tightly squeezed shut as if bracing herself for the impact of her fall.
"Are you alright?" he asked, chuckling a bit.
The girl gasped in surprise and looked up at him with soft brown eyes, taking a few moments to register exactly what had happened before nodding slightly.
"Yes, thank you," she replied quietly, still holding onto the book in her arms for dear life.
Kyouya nodded as he set her down on her feet, her long brown hair brushing against his nose and tickling it nearly to the point of sneezing. He couldn't help but notice her perfume due to their closeness, a mixture of roses and cherry blossoms, and almost laughed at how contradictory it was that someone with her kind of language would wear something that smelled so utterly feminine. He didn't try to understand it, though. He would never fully understand women, no matter how hard he tried, even if he was the top student in his class.
"Do be a little more careful in the future," Kyouya admonished her. "I can't always be here to catch you."
He offered her a gentle smile and she merely stared at him like a star-struck fangirl for several seconds before finally blushing and turning her head down to stare at her toes.
"Sorry," she apologized, her voice still registering barely above a whisper, and bowed deeply to him. "Thank you, again."
Kyouya nodded, his smile turning to a bit of a smirk, and watched as she straightened her posture and scurried off with her book held tightly to her chest. Curious, he glanced up to where the volume had been and discovered it was a book about cardiology.
"So that's who had the latest issue of the Journal of Cardiology and Vascular Medicine checked out," he said to himself as he walked back to where he had dropped his things in his haste to break the girl's fall.
Bending down, he picked up his notebook and began flipping through the student dossiers he kept at the front, searching for the girl's picture. He knew she looked familiar, but he couldn't quite place a name with her face. After completely going through the freshman class, he finally found her part-way into the junior class files.
"Miku Hirosaka," he read aloud to himself. "Second year, section B. Ranked third in her year. Family became rich practically overnight three years ago when her father's IT company went public. Father now resides in Los Angeles, where the company's base of operations is located. Decided to remain in Japan with her mother. Excellent grades, horrible attendance record." He hummed a little to himself as he closed the notebook in one hand. "I wonder why Suou allows her to get away with missing so many classes. Ah, well."
Pushing the question to the back of his mind, he picked up his briefcase and continued on his way to the Third Music Room. After all, it wouldn't look good for the most responsible member of the Host Club to be late.