The host club of Ouran High School was a beloved staple of class life. Among the trappings of such a club–the trite little snacks, the steam coming from the heated beverages, the gentle conversation from the club’s hosts–you could understand why people held it in such high regard. It seemed a haven in the midst of the rest of the hustle and bustle of classes. Still, it wasn’t exactly your cup of tea.
From across the room, your friend Ayaka grinned at you over her teacup. As was her tradition, she’d requested time with Tamaki and was now joining in with several other girls from your class to talk to him. You sighed and shook your head. It wasn’t so much that you thought the idea was silly, it was just that…how were you really supposed to get to known any of the boys when they were so surrounded?
For that matter, it was never any fun falling in love with someone just playing a part. Still, Ayaka insisted at least once a week on dragging you there so she could spy on you spying on your crush–or at least she said. Tamaki always seemed to be a bit too distracting for her to keep this up.
"Sitting out again, [Last Name]-san?” Kyoya asked from over your shoulder. You blinked and twisted on the overstuffed loveseat to give him a bashful smile. As usual, the young man was seated at his desk and going over…whatever it was Kyoya went over when the rest of his friends were busy elsewhere. Work, you supposed. It was one of the nice things about liking the boy so few requested time with.
“I’m afraid these sorts of festivities just aren’t my style, Ootori-san,” you answered. “No offense to you or Suoh-san.”
He shuffled his files in between his hands. “Are you certain you wouldn’t like to try speaking to Morinozuka-san? He’s quite popular lately.”
You shook your head and placed your hands delicately in your lap. Even without looking, you knew how swarmed Morinozuka would be with girls. Somehow the thought of having to be ‘romanced’ in front of others made the thought worse. Perhaps Kyoya recognized this because he continued with a smirk:
“It seems Fujioka isn’t busy.”
You shook your head again, biting your tongue to keep from refusing him verbally once again. It was sure to get around to your father and it was hard enough with him constantly heckling you take part in the host club activities. Forming helpful business connections was the only reason he was letting you come to this school.
At this, Kyoya’s charcoal eyes narrowed, although he did not look displeased. They dipped again onto the words printed on his papers and then flashed up toward you again. His smirk this time was wider than ever.
“Then how about you help me with a little project?”
“E-Eh?” Your cheeks, which had thus far managed to remain clean of color, reddened suddenly. You looked wildly around to see who Kyoya was talking to and still had to point to yourself to clarify when you saw no one. “Me?”
“Unless you don’t think you’d understand what you’re doing.”
You took the offered stack of paper without a second thought. Without them to hinder him any longer, Kyoya leaned forward on his desk and rested his cheek on one of his hands.
“Have you made any plans now that your family’s company will no longer transfer to you?”
Your arms stiffened, more because you hadn’t expected Kyoya to keep tabs on your family’s business than you found the question offensive. The [Last Name] Corporation was small compared to most at the school.
“O-Oh.” You managed a weak chuckle. “It’s still going to be transferred to me.” Not that you wanted it to.
His eyebrows rose at that. “Really?”
“Yes, Father and Grandfather decided only last week. I–I didn’t want to say anything at school because…” You trailed away and bit your lip. Due to the small nature of your family’s company, most people at Ouran ignored you. There wasn’t much point in forming meaningful connections with people that couldn’t help them in some big way. But with the little upset that had happened, more people had started to talk to you. You didn't want to go back to eating lunch alone again after six months. “Well, Father thought it might be for the best.”
“I’m surprised. What about your brother?”
If only. Then you could have done something you wanted with your life. “Yuki was only born two weeks ago,” you said with a smile. “They want to transfer the company a little sooner than he’ll be able to run it. Besides.” You shrugged. “I’m already supposed to know everything they want.”
Kyoya tapped his finger against his desk. When he spoke again, he was frowning. “Aren’t business and mathematics your worst subjects, [Last Name]-san?”
Your fingers froze around the papers you still had yet to look at. How did he know? Sure, you spoke to Kyoya on occasion, but he had no reason to go to such lengths to learn about you. Was it this obvious to the rest of your classmates that you had no place among them? “Um…I believe so.”
“Then why would they want to go on with the plan to appoint you the head of [Last Name] Corporation?”
“I…I…” Your lips shook and you forced them into a line. Crying in front of your future business associates was sure to get you another lecture. As you widened your eyes to beat away the tears, you took a look at the packet Kyoya had handed you earlier. What you saw made your lips twist in an altogether different fashion. “Ootori-san?”
“These are just photographs of you and all of your friends.”
“I was rather hoping you would help me pick the photographs for next school year’s host club calendar. Although we had stunning sells this year, perhaps having a young woman choose would help us earn more money next year.”
You chuckled and slid the papers back onto his desk. “I–I don’t think I’d be much help with that.”
“Why not? Don’t you plan to purchase one?”
Kyoya watched you for a moment longer, then scooped the papers back into his hands. “Hm? Well then, perhaps get it for your friend over there. Fukuda Ayaka, I believe?”
You glanced over at the girl Kyoya was speaking of. Your best friend was currently squealing so loudly that several of the others in her vicinity were giving her looks. Tamaki, it appeared, didn’t mind too much, but you could still feel your cheeks burning. Kyoya turned back to you with a smirk, his fingers still clutched around his set of calendars.
“N-No,” you managed to stammer, before adding a hasty, “thank you!”
“And why not?”
“I think she spends enough time staring at you all as it is.”
“And you don’t? Would you buy one if it was simply dedicated to me?”
Busted! You could feel your cheeks burning more brightly than ever, which made you even more uncomfortable. Normally you had a handle on your outward emotions. Somehow, you thought, you could salvage this situation.
“W-What do you mean, Ootori-san?”
“I mean that you always make sure to sit near me when you visit and never ask from anyone else…and that the chocolates I received on Valentine’s day had a note with handwriting suspiciously similar to yours and included a poem only studied by those in the advanced English program.”
All you could do was gape. His expression was not derisive, but it was serious enough that you could guess you had upset him. Stupid, stupid Ayaka for convincing you to give him those–for dragging you here every week!
Stupid, stupid you for letting her.
Before Kyoya could go on, you got to your feet quickly. So quickly, in fact, that it sent several things on his desk tumbling to the ground. The rest of the noise in the host club continued on and above the tinkling of broken glass, but it was not loud enough to drown out Kyoya’s silence. Staring at your shoes instead of your face, you bowed.
“I’m very sorry to have disturbed you, Ootori-san. I…I will not be returning to the club.”
You turned to leave. You very nearly thought you’d made it. Instead, you heard Kyoya call your name from his desk.
“Yes?” you asked. The quiet clack of his shoes against the tile floor drew near to you, then stopped.
“If you’re having such trouble with math, perhaps I could tutor you some night.”
You spun around, mouth agape. He held up a hand to prevent your protesting and continued:
“And perhaps we could get that dinner as well. I myself am rather a fan of Donne and it is difficult to find people to converse with about his works.”
“Um, um.” You stammered, though a wide grin had already broken across your face. “S-Sure.”
He nodded. “This Saturday evening then.”
“Okay!” Your dad would be thrilled. “But…but why?”
Kyoya smirked one last time before heading back to his desk. “I believe your company could be advantageous later. Perhaps a relationship with the future head would be advantageous as well. If so,” he grinned at you over his shoulder, “I certainly can’t let the future head fail her classes. Consider it a...business offer."
"And in return?"
He flashed you another smile. "You help me with these calendars."
Some things were just worth it.