The Ryukyu Islands were once an independent kingdom, so it was only natural when the self-dubbed royal Host Club decided to bring Haruhi to the beach, to select the previously royal Okinawa as their destination. That, and the fact that Haruhi lacked a passport.
Their day at the seashore was filled with happy guests brought along, for a handsome price, to play with the bare-chested and well-toned hosts under the tropical sun. All was well until Haruhi was tossed into the sea for reasons she felt were justified, but Tamaki did not. The evening spent at the hosting Nekozawa mansion was less than jovial and after some spooky boardgame revelations (it was Nekozawa's mansion, after all) and Haruhi feeling ill, everyone dispersed.
Outside, dark clouds are gathering, covering the moon at irregular intervals. The rooms of the occult master's mansion are dimly lit, including the bath inside the suite where Haruhi is recovering from her bout of nausea following overindulgence at dinner. In her state of disarray and emotional confusion, all she wants to do is crawl into her assigned bed and get some sleep.
"What a waste," she thinks as she pats her face with a soft towel. "How much is a plate of crab, anyway? But, I do feel better." She cracks open the bathroom door and peers into the adjoining bedroom. "Looks like I ran into the closest room available. This must be someone's…"
"Are you done?" asks a familiar voice. Embarrassed at having intruded on someone's personal space, Haruhi rushes to leave. "Sorry!" she exclaims while diverting her eyes. "I didn't mean to walk into a stranger's room. Oh, and I cleaned up your bathroom!"
"It's just me," Kyoya continues in an offhanded way, wondering if she'll still scurry off once she realizes "the stranger" is himself. Their growing friendship has been slow to emerge, but things between them have been warming in a steady fashion. It could be interesting.
Haruhi closes the door and turns. Standing in the center of the bedroom wearing nothing but striped pajama pants and a fluffy towel slung around his neck is the Shadow King himself. Alone with Kyoya? That's a new experience for the brunette and one that leaves her a bit unsettled. "Senpai, where is everyone?"
"They seem to have wandered off." Noting her wan face and having surmised the reason for her dash into his bath, he asks, "Well? You feel like apologizing to Tamaki?"
Haruhi prepares for a lecture. "It seems like I worried everyone. I'm sorry."
"I didn't worry."
"Really?" She's relieved at the unexpected response from the club member whose finger is on the pulse of everyone and everything that goes on between its members. She hates putting people out on her account, yet that's exactly what she seems to have done.
"I did have to stop the twins from beating those creeps from this afternoon to death and send flowers to the customers as an apology."
"That must've been a lot of trouble," she says in a meek voice, realizing she isn't going to escape chastisement, after all.
"I negotiated the price from fifty thousand down to twenty thousand, but there were quite a few guests that had to be put up at hotels, Haruhi. Not every Ouran family has a mansion in Okinawa."
"Are the flowers added to my debt?" she asks in a resigned voice.
"Never mind that," Kyoya replies in a cryptic manner, approaching the place where she stands beside a table and chair. His voice drops in pitch and volume. "Shall we do something else, since we have the chance?" Haruhi's brow crinkles in confusion. "Something…" He towers over her and she has to look up to meet his eyes, which are hypnotic in their focus. "Like…" He steps in closer and Haruhi steps back, her back pressed to the wall. "Men and women do?"
A large hand grabs one of hers, pinning it over her head while another flicks off the nearby light switch. Still uncomprehending, Haruhi asks, "Huh!? Why are you the turning the lights down?"
"You can pay for the flowers with your body," he coos in a honeyed voice before grabbing her by the waist with his free arm, pulling her away from the wall. Lifting her off her feet easily, he carries her towards the bed. "You say that being a man or a woman doesn't matter, but…" His strength and her surprise make her as easy to maneuver onto the mattress as a rag doll. The sheets rustle with their movement and rain begins to patter against the windows. Kyoya's eyes glitter in the small light that filters through the room, but she can't look away. "As a man, I could go after you at any time and as a woman, you couldn't stop me."
He's kneeling above her, arms extended, his legs on either side of her thighs yet she doesn't move a muscle, doesn't protect herself nor strike him. This is Kyoya-senpai, isn't it? Instead, her mind replays in rapid fire the day's events.
"Maybe it's time to rethink your naiveté?" he says. They sink further into the featherbed as Kyoya drops onto his forearms, his face nearing hers. She smells the scent of his freshly-washed skin and expensive grooming products. "Acting natural is all well and good, but it's a mistake to keep your guard down."
Haruhi stares deeply into the eyes boring into her own hearing Tamaki's angry voice demanding that she admit her mistake reverberating in her mind. Cognition must flicker across her face because, for a few moments, Kyoya's eyes widen, then re-narrow as he resumes his air of predatory menace.
"Senpai, you wouldn't do this," she says softly. "You have nothing to gain from going after me, right?"
The dark-haired teen stares at the girl beneath him. Without his glasses on and in the darkened room, she's blurry, but definitely unguarded and unafraid. Certainly, he could take whatever he wants from her, but that's not his intention. A scare is all he hopes to achieve. Well, maybe a willing look? He has to admit that if she's interested, he's tempted. But no, this is Haruhi. She's seen past his rhetoric, his game, compared his professed threat against his true nature and seen through him. Or maybe just seen him.
He draws back, amused at his epic fail in frightening her or even enticing her. Any other girl would have sobbed or screamed or even welcomed his advances. He should have known better; known better than to think she'd be scared of him or throw herself at him or be anything other than the insightful and level-headed young woman he's come to know.
But it's more than that. Her attitude and her actions prove her implicit trust in him, and her trust holds merit because it's based on who he is beyond the façade, the reputation and all the other facets of his well-crafted public persona. A twinge aches in his shuttered heart. She is his friend.
Showing his true face to anyone other than Tamaki, however, is still treacherous ground to the Ootori heir, so he huffs audibly and moves off of her, softly chuckling to himself. "True, true. You're right on the mark." He sits on the side of the bed and restores his glasses to his face. "You're quite interesting," he admits to himself out loud before addressing Haruhi without looking at her. "But do you understand?"
Haruhi sits up. "Yes," she says. "I get it."
"I'm glad, because-" Thwack! A downy pillow lands on the back of his head, pushing him forward at the waist. "What the-"
"Take that, Ootori Kyoya," proclaims a haughty voice.
Kyoya looks back in stunned surprise at the girl he thought he knew. The rain has stopped and the moon reappeared, revealing clearly Haruhi standing on the bed, a pillow clutched beside her head with two hands.
"What are you doing?" he asks in a steady voice.
"I call it evening the score."
"No," he replies and shakes his head.
"Oh really?" Another swish of pillow heads Kyoya's way.
He fends it off with one hand pushing the pillow back and throwing the girl off balance. She stumbles to one side. He stands and spins about, prepared to catch her, but she rights herself while swishing the pillow yet again. It grazes his shoulder.
"Dammit, Haruhi. I'm not playing." His annoyance is rising, even if she is justified and he knows it.
"C'mon, senpai," she challenges, a mild glare pinning him in place. "I came along on this so-called vacation and done my part as a host. I've had a re-ally bad day and I get what you were trying to do, but I'm tired of dealing with the male mind and I just need somebody who can let me pummel them a bit."
"And you've decided that I'm the proper target, is that it? I'm surprised at your choice."
"Why? Because you're the Shadow King?" Her sarcastic tone could rival his own. When she adds a two-note cadenced,"Ooo-ooh," he's both taken aback and impressed.
Haruhi is now dancing back and forth atop the bed throwing feints with her pillow held before her like a shield. Her pique is ignited and she's no longer tired. Kyoya weaves to maintain what he hopes is intimidating eye contact, to no avail.
"That pillow is likely European, filled with goose down and quite expensive," he says, appealing to her practical nature while his mind processes the way the moonlight filters through the gauzy dress, revealing her figure beneath and sending an unfamiliar jolt of electricity through his body.
"Add it to my debt," she retorts.
"That isn't the point," he says, unaccustomed to her hubris aimed in his direction and in his equally sudden bodily reaction.
She stops moving. "Did Tamaki put you up to this?" she asks, head tilted to one side. "Scare Haruhi. Make her see that she was stupid today. Yeah, yeah. I get it, now. But here's what I don't get: Why do you go along?"
Kyoya crosses his arms over his chest. "In the first place, Tamaki did not put me up to it - directly. In the second place, what do you mean: go along?"
"It's a straightforward question, senpai." Haruhi sounds smug. "Tell you what. Beat me in a round of pillow fighting and I'll explain it to you."
"Scared I'll win?"
"It's of little consequence to me if you do."
"You lie like a rug, Ootori Kyoya. You're dying to know what I think." It's a dangerous game, baiting him, but a ticked-off Haruhi is a Haruhi he should have considered and didn't.
"Playing commoner games is Tamaki's forte, not mine," he adds, vexed that her statement is true.
She waits a few seconds, then asks in a quieter voice, "Haven't you ever had a pillow fight before?"
Kyoya pushes at the glasses on his nose. "I've watched the others at our occasional sleepovers."
Haruhi has guessed as much but she continues. "You didn't play?"
"Of course not."
"Didn't you want to, even for a little bit?" Pique has shifted to empathy and her aggressive tone dissolved into curiosity.
"Does it matter why?" he says, pretending he isn't affected by her genuine interest.
Haruhi flops down on the bed and sits cross-legged, her hands clasped atop the pillow in her lap. "I'm just trying to understand you. You're always acting the villain. I think I know why you do it, but you don't have to pretend with me."
Kyoya knows she can't even imagine why he keeps his own guard high and on alert, nor is he about to confess. But she isn't being judgmental or manipulative or any one of a dozen reasons people ask him questions about himself and her innocent candor makes him want to tell her things he's rarely shared with anyone, except Tamaki.
"I promise I won't tell a soul," she reassures. Kyoya holds her gaze and she waggles her brows at him.
"This game. Should I remove my glasses?"
"That might be a good idea."
He sets them on the side table by the wall switch. "Are there rules to this parry?"
"None that I can recall." She rises to her knees as he nears the bed.
"How does one win?"
"Winning isn't the point." To her feet.
"Then where's the fun?"
"Fine," she says, over-exaggerating the word as he stands bedside. "We'll make it a three-point match with a point for each body shot."
"Good. No holds barred?"
"Well then," he says, and in one swift move grabs a pillow at the head of the bed with his left hand and swipes low, against Haruhi's ankles.
"Point," he says.
She tumbles onto the mattress and Kyoya is on his knees beside her at once, pillow poised to smite her. She rolls to one side and is up on her knees once more, hitting him squarely in the belly with her own fluffy weapon.
"Point for me!" she cries, but Kyoya lands a solid hit on her hip with his own before falling onto his back.
"Two," he says with some emphasis.
Haruhi edges forward on her knees, hefting her pillow once more. "I'm coming for you, senpai," she warns.
"Just try it," comes the retort as he drops his pillow onto the floor.
As she swings her puffy missile forward, Kyoya reaches up and grabs her hands and pillow alike, yanking both forward. The pillow sandwiches between them at the waist while Haruhi's small but soft breasts land on his chest.
Ooof! Their faces are close and having a feminine-looking, and feeling, Haruhi laying on top of him is something Kyoya finds surprisingly arousing with not much separating them in their current attire.
"No fair," she objects.
"You said no holds barred," he reminds. They stare each other down and Kyoya releases her hands, settling his own on the bed. "You wouldn't take advantage of me, now, would you?" he asks in a playful manner.
"I thought you said that wasn't possible," Haruhi says, sitting up and straddling the older teen, inadvertently applying more pressure to the pillow pressed between their lower bodies. It flattens it to near nothingness, evoking an involuntary groan from Kyoya.
"It's not, but I wouldn't mind," he says, enjoying the way her body feels resting against his crotch.
Haruhi is aware, then, of the pillow between them molded to their bodies. Her lesson in gender differences moves to the next level as the current state of the pillow fails to disguise the current state of Kyoya. A feeling of excitement and nervousness churns within the enveloping secrecy of night, the comfortable bed and the sweet tension of the moment. She absorbs it all, unsure of what to do next and wondering what Kyoya is feeling.
He wonders about her, too, but distracts himself, saying, "We all play parts, Haruhi. Whatever the moment calls for, don't we? For example, I could say that you're a kijimuna right now, here to steal my breath away by laying on my chest."
"That would be the twins. They have red hair and play pranks."
"Yes, but them getting as close to me as you are now isn't likely. Actually, it will never happen, no matter how much they beg."
Haruhi chortles. "Then maybe you're a shisa," she chides, liking their growing closeness.
"If I were, I would certainly protect you."
"Just like you protect the club, right? Just like you were trying to protect me by showing me my limitations before. You're really a nice guy, aren't you?"
The usually clear-headed Ootori considers his options but nothing is clear to him: not his motives, not his feelings, certainly not an expected outcome to this very unexpected scenario. The nebulousness of it all causes a minute fumble and instead of his hand moving to caress her thigh, he caresses the pillow.
Haruhi senses his movement and jumps, saying, "Oh, no you don't, senpai. No cheating." And with that, the moment is gone and she's climbing off of him and the bed, misshapen pillow in hand.
Kyoya sits up, cursing under his breath, his excitement killed by his irritation at having lost a rare opportunity with the slip of a girl prancing in the center of the room. So be it. He grabs a pillow and they face off. Haruhi swings her pillow back and he does the same as they move towards one another.
A soft thud echoes as the pillows collide. Hand embroidered with the Nekozawa family crest, the sturdy white pillowcases hold delicate bastiste tickings filled with thousands of the softest pinnons from the pristine geese that live in the alpine mountains of Austria. Royalty has been known to sleep on such tickings and they receive only tender loving care in the best of homes. Until now.
A flurry of white bursts above them as thousands of bits of fluff whirl around the teens, startling them as they look with wonder at the miniature blizzard whirling about. Feathers flutter swiftly to the floor while wee tufts of down float slowly throughout the room, seemingly everywhere in a matter of seconds, coating the bed, the floor and every piece of furniture, to say nothing of themselves.
"Ooops," Haruhi mutters, lips pursed as she waits to hear how much the damage will cost.
Instead, Kyoya is chuckling again. She smiles in return.
"Senpai? Are you okay?"
Kyoya clears his throat. "Why wouldn't I be? I'll take care of replacing the pillows, if you're worried about that. But I assume we'll call this a draw?" He tosses the empty ticking between them, as if in challenge.
"If it suits you." She throws her own empty ticking on top of his, their smiles admitting that something significant has shifted between them.
A knock is heard at the door along with Tamaki's voice. "Kyoya? Do you have lotion and stuff? My sunburn stings." As he enters the room, clumps of fluff spiral on the floor while lighter bits kick back up into the air to find new life amongst the air-waltzing down. Haruhi sneezes twice.
The bed is disheveled, as are his friends, and the room is coated in white. Tamaki's confusion is only matched by his anger. "Ky-o," the blond snarls.
Kyoya ignores the blond as he dons his glasses. Grabbing his shirt from the back of the chair, he shakes out the feathers. "Don't open doors without waiting for an answer," he admonishes. He throws on the shirt, leaving it unbuttoned.
"But you- Haruhi- The bed!" the blond sputters. Haruhi wonders why the feathers aren't an issue, but says nothing.
"Relax," the brunet says as he approaches his friend, stopping to slip on his sandals by the door. "We were just having a pillow fight."
Tamaki's anger subsides at once and his puppy face emerges. "Pillow fight? But why were you and daughter playing without me, Mommy? I like pillow fights."
Kyoya looks into the sad face, then slaps a bottle of suntan lotion into Tamaki's stomach. "Here, take the lotion. I'm going to go over the plans for tomorrow." He pauses at the door. "It was Haruhi's idea. Ask her." And he exits the room, leaving Tamaki staring at Haruhi with a slack jaw. She shrugs, but a small smile graces her face.
The brunet saunters down the hall, scruffing down out of his hair and imagining what he might have done if Haruhi had actually taken him up on his offer to do what men and women do.
"Nothing to gain?" he thinks. "Ha."