THE HOST CLUB COSPLAYS SHAKESPEARE
It was a beautiful spring afternoon on the Ouran school estate. The trees and flowers were in bloom, the fountains burbled, and the great chandelier in the central staircase swayed gently, filling the school with a soft tinkling noise.
In the Third Music Room, the stifling classroom air had given way to the smell of flowers and cut grass. All the windows were flung open and all the curtains drawn back to admit the spring breeze. The gentlemen of the Ouran High School Host Club were "in" for guests.
Tamaki, resplendent in a scarlet chiton and thin golden crown, was entertaining a handful of young women drinking iced green tea and eating baklava. He felt that this was one of his more brilliant cosplay ideas, but then he thought that of every cosplay he came up with. Honestly, though, who else would possibly, could possibly, stumble upon a copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream and think to dress up as Greeks and faeries?
He surveyed his kingdom with good cheer and easy spirits. At the door, Kyouya was welcoming a handful of late arrivals, dressed as Oberon, lord of Faerie, with a pair of fake ram's horns hanging off the earpieces of his glasses, some kind of sarong wrapped around his waist, and a lot of glitter (courtesy of the twins) in eldrich designs on his arms and chest. Hunny was showing off his faerie wings to several of his usual patrons and Haruhi was discreetly scratching hers where they dug into her shoulders. Mori, in traditional English Shakespearean dress, seemed perfectly at home as always.
As he stood to say farewell to his guests, Tamaki noticed that the twins -- both Puck, of course -- were nowhere to be found. Or rather, they took some spotting, even dressed in furry leggings, more glittery paint, and small goat's horns. They were creeping along at below-couch-back level, making their way stealthily towards Haruhi's bag which was hung carelessly on a coatrack behind the sweets table.
"Excuse me, my darling Hippolyta," he said to the girl sitting next to him. "Every moment I am not at your side is a moment my Greek heart aches, but I must see to affairs of state."
She swooned. They always did. Well, almost always. And people like Haruhi were an aberration, rather than the rule.
He caught the twins as they were crawing back from the bag, just under the sweets table.
"What have you been doing in Haruhi's bag?" he demanded, catching them by their horns.
"Ow!" Hikaru (possibly Kaoru) cried. "That hurts!"
"Let go, my lord!" Kaoru (possibly Hikaru) added. "They're glued on!"
Tamaki gave them each a little shake. "What did you steal from my daughter's bag!"
"Ah, Tamaki," Kyouya called. "Club hours are over, your princesses are leaving!"
"Just a book, Lord," one of the twins said. "Look what we found!"
He shoved it into Tamaki's gut and they both bolted, laughing, when Tamaki doubled over slightly and grabbed it. It was just a notebook with ordinary lined paper and a cheap pasteboard cover featuring Princess Princess. Perplexed, he turned it over.
Then his jaw dropped.
"me-x-KO...Mrs. Ohtori...Mr. and Mrs. Kyouya Ohtori..." he read to himself, studying the little hearts drawn around some of the words with increasing horror. Several times, the letters KO were encircled by a heart, occasionally with cupid-arrows added.
"Lord? Loooooord?" the twins called, but Tamaki was beyond hearing. Haruhi...loved Kyouya? How could that be? What did Kyouya have that he, Tamaki, her loving father, didn't have? Besides glasses, anyway, and a clipboard, and Tamaki could buy those quickly enough. Yes! He needed to go out right away and buy a clipboard!
"What are you looking at?" Hunny asked, tipping up the notebook so that he could see the front cover. "Princess Princess! Sooo cute!"
"Nothing for you!" Tamaki cried, clutching it to his chest tightly.
"I didn't know you liked Princess Princess, Tamaki-kun," Kyouya said, grinning a little.
"It's not mine! It belongs to Haruhi!"
"Tsk tsk, reading Haruhi's private notebooks," Hikaru and Kaoru shook their fingers in unison.
"I was not! YOU FOUND IT!" Tamaki insisted.
"Where is Haru-chan?" Hunny asked suddenly.
"She's gone to speak to one of her designees," Kyouya replied. "There she is."
Haruhi was walking towards them with a fellow student in tow, a worried-looking young woman in a very rumpled uniform.
"You take it!" Tamaki said, all but throwing the notebook back at the twins and fleeing the scene of the crime.
NOTEBOOKS ARE EASILY MISTAKEN
"Hi, Kaoru," Haruhi said, leading the shy-looking girl up to the twins. "Where did you find that?"
"It fell out of your bag," Hikaru said smoothly.
"We didn't know you like Princess Princess, Haruhi-kun," they said in unison.
"Aha, heh, well, I don't buy manga," Haruhi said, rubbing the back of her head sheepishly. "I only found it, it belongs to Miss Higa."
"Thank you!" the girl said anxiously. "I thought I'd lost it!"
"Ahhh," said the Hitachiin brothers, exchanging a knowing look. "Here you are, princess!"
She blushed, accepting the notebook and clutching it against her chest much as Tamaki had done a moment earlier. Hikaru grinned at Kaoru. Kaoru grinned back.
"Always a pleasure to serve you, Miss Higa!" they chorused. She giggled and seemed about to say something, but just then the bell chimed four.
"My driver is waiting! Goodbye! Thank you, Haruhi!"
"Someone has a crush on Kyouya," Hikaru said when she was gone. He leaned on one of Haruhi's shoulders.
"I wonder if Kyouya knows," Kaoru said, leaning on the other one. Haruhi considered this dilemma.
"Telling him," she said slowly, "wouldn't be very nice."
"We aren't nice, Princess Princess," Kaoru said.
"And there's no benefit in it for you, since Kyouya's much too polite to tease her about it," Haruhi continued.
"We aren't as concerned with profit as Kyouya is."
"And she wouldn't know who'd told, so she'd stop attending Host Club totally. That would make Kyouya angry," Haruhi said, as if concluding a logical thought. The twins hesitated. "I certainly wouldn't want to make Kyouya angry, so I'd have to tell him it was you."
"Ahahaha," Hikaru said. "Well, we won't tell, will we, Kaoru?"
EMERGENCY MEETING OF THE HOST CLUB
"You look like Nekozawa," Hunny observed, when Tamaki finally arrived. It was true that he was clad in a long black cowled robe and had sunglasses on to hide his eyes, but Tamaki felt this was vaguely uncalled-for.
"Why are we here, anyway?" Hikaru asked, studying his fingernails boredly. "The school isn't even open at this time of day. Why did you phone us all up -- "
" -- in the middle of dinner -- " Kaoru put in.
" -- and make us come sneak into the garden?"
"I tore my trousers climbing in to unlock it for everyone," Hunny said petulantly.
"This is a secret emergency meeting! Why aren't you all wearing black?" Tamaki demanded.
"I am," Mori volunteered.
"Where's Kyouya? Where's Haruhi?" Hunny asked.
"Aha!" Tamaki held up a finger dramatically. "Secret emergency meeting, commence! We are convened today to discuss Haruhi and Kyouya's scandalous love affair!"
The twins stuck their tongues out at each other.
"They aren't in love," they said.
"No, Lord, we mean -- "
"Silence! We cannot let the love of two people tear the Host Club apart! We are family! Would you trust your beloved daughter with Kyouya?"
All four of them considered this.
"But I haven't got a daughter," Hunny said finally.
"No, you wouldn't! Therefore it is imperative that, one, Kyouya never find out about Haruhi's crush, and, two, Haruhi be made to see that he is unsuitable for her," Tamaki insisted.
"How do we do that, lord?" the twins asked, almost too eagerly. Tamaki pulled back a fern frond to reveal a chalkboard on which he had inscribed a long list of instructions. The top of the chalkboard prouldy read:
THE BRILIANT FIND A DATE FOR KYOUYA PLAN!
Beneath it was a list of duties for each Host Club member to perform. All four of his co-conspirators studied it in awe.
"You misspelled "brilliant", Lord," Hikaru said finally.
"That's not important!" Tamaki shouted. "I will now outline for you the points of the Brilliant Find A Date For Kyouya Plan!"
The rest of the Host Club, at least the Club in attendance, snapped to attention.
"We must find a girlfriend for Kyouya," Tamaki lectured sternly. "How do you get a girlfriend, Hunny-senpai?"
Hunny squinted. "A date?" he asked.
"Yes! So we must find a date for Kyouya. What does a date consist of, Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin?"
The twins looked at each other. "Dinner and a movie?"
"A girl! Therefore we must find a girl! A girl Kyouya will like!"
"This is our plan of attack. We must find a girl who is like us. We know Kyouya likes us," Tamaki said. "Sort of. So! We must find out which one of us he likes best and find a girl who portrays these excellent qualities. STEP ONE! Mori-Senpai, you must find out who Kyouya likes best!"
"Ok," Mori said impassively.
"Next! We must introduce her to Kyouya Ohtori! Hunny-Senpai, you will introduce them, being sure to list off the following POSITIVE QUALITIES of Kyouya-kun!" Tamaki tapped the blackboard with a pointer. In one corner was a list of Kyouya's positive qualities. Ambitious; Handsome; Quiet; Sensible; Wealthy; Likes Banana Splits.
Hunny saluted. "Aye aye!"
"NEXT! Kaoru Hitachiin! You will arrange the date! We must find out where Kyouya thinks a good date would be! You will find out and arrange it!"
Kaoru's salute was so sharp he nearly hit Hunny with his elbow. "Yes sir!"
"Hikaru Hitachiin! You will follow them to make sure their date is a success!"
"What will you do, Tamaki-senpai?" Hikaru asked, winking at Mori.
"I...will...keep Haruhi and Kyouya decently apart from each other," Tamaki said with great dignity.
MORI-SENPAI IS GOOD AT ASKING QUESTIONS
Mori sat down at the table where Kyouya was working.
Kyouya was always working, much as Mori's father was. His father filled Mori with awe, and thus Mori was deeply in awe of Kyouya. He would have died before showing it, but then Mori generally would have died before showing much of any emotion.
"Hi," he said.
"Hello," Kyouya replied without looking up.
"How are you?" Mori asked.
Kyouya paused, glanced up, adjusted his glasses. After a moment of contemplation, he replied, "Our attendance is up."
Mori nodded. This made absolute sense as a reply, coming from Kyouya. He ruminated on how best to broach the topic of what Kyouya Ohtori was looking for in a potential lifemate.
"Do you like Tamaki?" he asked. Kyouya's fingers slipped on the keyboard and he hit backspace a few times.
"Of course," he said evenly. "Don't you?"
After a few minutes of comfortable silence, Mori rose and walked back to where Tamaki was dancing with impatience on the other side of the room.
"He likes Tamaki," he announced.
"Only because you didn't ask him about anyone else!" Tamaki said furiously. "I heard you! You should have asked him about everyone! Besides, where are we going to find a woman who's exactly like me?"
One of the twins coughed. It sounded suspiciously like "Renge!" Tamaki whirled on them furiously, but Hunny put himself between the twins and the storm.
"I'll ask him," he said eagerly. "Usa-chan and I will find out who he likes best!"
"Hello," Haruhi said, and Tamaki nearly jumped of of his skin. He turned to find her standing on the edge of the group, looking on curiously. "What are we talking about?"
"Nothing! Nothing," Tamaki said, putting an arm across her shoulders and leading her away from the others.
"You shouldn't talk about Kyouya behind his back," Mori heard Haruhi say as they walked off.
He liked Haruhi. She reminded him a little of his practical commoner great-grandmother. She was pretty, too.
HUNNY-SENPAI IS ALSO GOOD AT ASKING QUESTIONS
Kyouya looked up from his laptop, turning unerringly in the direction the call had come from, over his left shoulder by the west-facing windows. Hunny was sitting at a table in the far corner, waving at him.
"Kyouya-chan, are you working very hard?" Hunny asked.
"Not really," Kyouya replied, leaning back.
"Come have banana splits with me!" Hunny insisted. Kyouya glanced back at the laptop screen, saved his file, locked the computer down with the triple-encryption program he'd written himself last year, and closed the lid. A few minutes couldn't hurt, anyway, and if Hunny had arranged for his favourite dessert, the diminuitive senior must want something very badly. Something only Kyouya could provide, otherwise Mori would already have done so.
Kyouya's curiousity was piqued.
"Thank you," he said, sitting down in front of a banana split, a truly splendid banana split as only Hunny's insatiable love of sweets could produce. There was almost certainly a banana somewhere in the dish, underneath three large scoops of ice cream, an ocean of chocolate sauce, nuts and sprinkles by the score, a veritable tower of whipped cream, and four cherries.
Kyouya carefully began excavating one end, in search of the elusive buried banana.
"Do you like banana splits?" Hunny asked, whipped cream smeared on one cheek.
"I'm very fond of them," Kyouya said agreeably. He took a dainty bite of vanilla ice cream.
"Me too. You know what else I like?"
"Do tell," Kyouya said.
"Bunnies! And you know what else? I like the Host Club. Don't you like the Host Club?"
"It's reasonably profitable, for the amount of energy expended," Kyouya allowed.
"I like Tamaki and Hikaru and Kaoru and Mori and Haruhi and you and even Renge," Hunny continued. Kyouya nudged some of the ice cream to one side, damming up the river of chocolate syrup. "But you know who's my favourite?"
"Mori-senpai?" Kyouya hazarded.
"Yes! Because we practice Kendo together."
"That seems reasonable," Kyouya agreed.
"Who's your favourite, Kyouya-chan?"
Kyouya paused while he swallowed a mouthful of ice cream and sprinkles.
"Well, Tamaki is very charismatic, and Hikaru has a lot of ambition, and Kaoru is friendly. Mori, of course, is a hard worker. You are very earnest, Hunny-senpai, and so is Haruhi, and very studious. Renge is..."
Even Kyouya had a difficult time finding an adjective for Renge, but he finally decided on, "...imaginative."
"But which do you like best?" Hunny asked, ice cream dripping off his spoon onto the table.
"Haruhi is most like me," Kyouya said, considering the question. "Then again, Tamaki is my closest friend. However," he continued, and noticed a slightly annoyed gleam coming into Hunny's eye, "I think I admire Hikaru and Kaoru the most. But you are definitely the strongest, and I admire strength. Come to think of it, Mori is a lot like me too..."
He'd finally uncovered the banana, and was eating it in small bites with his spoon. Hunny sighed. Then, with an air of salvaging a bad situation, he asked, "But Mori is not your favourite? Because he's my favourite."
Kyouya smiled indulgently. "He can be your favourite, Hunny-senpai, I won't object."
HARUHI ACTUALLY IS GOOD AT ASKING QUESTIONS
"Hi, Kyouya-senpai!" Haruhi called, running to catch up with Kyouya.
"Hello, Haruhi," he replied, slowing his pace slightly.
"Where are you going? Isn't Host Club starting soon?" she asked, wondering if Kyouya could get her out of a few minutes of the club.
"I have an errand to run," he answered.
"Oh! I thought you would have a servant do that. Or me," she added.
"I'm not like the twins," he replied. "Besides, I have to do this one myself."
"Oh? Where are you going?"
"To get Biscoffu cookies for Tamaki."
"Ooh, his favourite. Would you like me to come with you?"
"If you like," Kyouya said, descending the front steps of the school. A car was waiting, and a private guard saluted as he held the door for both of them. Haruhi, seated in the Rolls-Royce Kyouya's family preferred, looked around curiously.
"I never send servants," Kyouya continued. "And the twins would lace them with hot pepper sauce or something equally...amusing."
"But you could have asked me."
"You wouldn't know where to get them, would you?"
Haruhi blushed. "No."
"I like to get them myself," Kyouya added as the car pulled out into the traffic beyond Ouran's gates. Haruhi watched cars and bicyclists whiz by as they drove towards the upscale shopping district.
"You like Tamaki very much, don't you?" she asked. "You said you were just part of the club because it brings you profit, but we both know that's not really true."
He inclined his head, seemingly unwilling to verbally commit to anything.
"Why do you like Tamaki so much?"
Kyouya gave her a slight frown. It appeared he'd never considered the question. "He's...never boring," he said finally.
"No, he definitely isn't."
"Do you like Tamaki, Haruhi?"
"He's all right."
"Do you like Ouran?"
It was Haruhi's turn to frown. "Yes, of course."
"May I ask you a personal question?"
Haruhi leaned away from him a little. "What kind?"
"You say you have a goal in attending Ouran High School. If you could achieve that goal at some other school, would you transfer?"
"Ummm..." she thought about it. "No."
She laughed. "I like Ouran, I told you. And the Host Club are my friends now. Even if they're weird. Is that the way you feel about Tamaki?"
"Yes," Kyouya said, gazing out the opposite window. For just a moment he wasn't the menacing, bespectacled "cool" character. He looked his age, maybe sixteen or seventeen, and as though he had more responsibility than he knew what to do with.
"Umm, Kyouya-senpai," Haruhi asked slowly. "Are you in love with Tamaki-senpai?"
Kyouya turned suddenly, studying her with intense scrutiny. "Why do you ask?"
"You looked like you were," she answered honestly. "Just now, I mean."
"The point is moot," he replied, turning back to the window, looking more composed now. "Tamaki loves you."
"It's a little embarrassing," she admitted. "But, don't you think about why he loves me? Because I'm ok?"
"Well, I look like a boy but I'm ok, because I'm a girl. Socially, I mean."
The car stopped, then, and the door was opened for them. Kyouya gestured for her to go first.
He was silent all through the shopping trip, and Haruhi was quickly distracted; she'd never been in a market like the one they were in, which carried the sort of food that would cost a month's rent on her family's apartment. There was wine that cost the entire amount of her yearly tuition at Ouran, if she had to pay it herself.
Kyouya bought two boxes of cookies, a delicately wrapped packet of chocolates, and a small bag of coffee. She watched in interest as he pointed to the beans he wanted and an attendant ground and packaged them for him.
"For you," Kyouya said, offering her the chocolates. "Try one."
Hesitantly, because it would probably be too sweet, she bit into one. "Oh!"
"It's bittersweet," he said, pointing to the label on the package. "And it has chili powder in it."
"It's good," she replied, climbing back into the enormous black car.
When they arrived back at the Host Club, Tamaki leapt up from the couch where he was sitting with two regulars and ran to the door.
"WHERE WERE YOU?" he demanded. "YOU'RE LATE! WHY WERE YOU OFF ALONE WITH MY DAUGHTER?"
Kyouya mutely offered him the cookies. Kyouya didn't blush, and Tamaki couldn't see past the reflection on his glasses, but Haruhi looked up sidelong and saw an expression in Kyouya's eyes that answered her earlier question.
She should have her father talk to Kyouya. Although, knowing both of them, he probably already had. And, knowing her father, he'd probably made a pass at Kyouya. Not with any intention of following through -- her father might admire handsome high school boys but had plenty of boyfriends of his own. He'd have done it because it would make Kyouya feel better. Feel normal.
Her father was much more perceptive about these things than she was.
SECOND EMERGENCY MEETING (THIS TIME WITH BLACK CLOAKS)
"Mori is not his favourite," Hunny said proudly. This time he had come prepared in a tiny black cloak with a trim of pink bunnies.
"That's all you got?" Tamaki asked.
"Oh, Lord, you're not doing your part," Hikaru (black cloak, bright pink lining) and Kaoru (black cloak, neon blue lining) said.
"They practically had a date today!" Kaoru said, laughing.
"We'll take over for you," Hikaru promised, rubbing out Tamaki's name on the blackboard. He replaced "Tamaki" with "Hitachiin" and then rubbed out their names below, replacing them with Tamaki.
"That is not important now!" Tamaki said, erasing the whole line with his sleeve and then dusting the chalk-dust off. "What do we know?"
"He likes Tamaki," Mori said.
"He doesn't like Mori best," Hunny added, clutching Mori's hand.
"DO WE THINK," Tamaki asked, "that Kyouya enjoys loli-shota?"
They all paused to contemplate the idea.
"O-kay!" Tamaki wrote down his own name, then Mori's name and crossed it out, then Hunny's name and crossed it out. He wrote the twins' names, then stepped back to survey his work.
"You forgot Haruhi," Hunny said, pointing.
"We definitely couldn't find another girl like Haruhi," the twins chorused.
"Therefore it is time for PLAN B," Tamaki replied, spinning the blackboard around. On the other side was a detailed diagram headed "AUDITIONS FOR KYOUYA'S DREAM WOMAN."
"Oooh," the twins chorused.
There was a sudden roar. The Host Club looked around fearfully. A nearby bush rattled, then shook violently, then burst apart to reveal Renge, rising on her platform from the depths.
"This plan," she said calmly, "requires a woman's touch."