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― 馨物語 ―
KAORU MONOGATARI ARC

In Medias Res miniseries, Part I of VI

Title: This Interminable Wait
Pairing(s): Kaoru/club member
Rating: M
Disclaimer: Ouran High School Host Club belongs to Hatori Bisco and related companies.
Word Count: approximately 30,000 words in 6 parts. [Complete]

Complete summary: Straight 'in the middle of things'. Kaoru has been seeing one of his host club colleagues on the sly. Everything has now come to a head and it's time to decide the course of the future.



THIS INTERMINABLE WAIT


"All who make wishes are the same. When one wish comes into conflict with someone else's wish, then one must make a choice. Either abandon one's own wish… or crush the other's wish for the sake of your own." – Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volume 24, Chapitre 187


Kaoru refreshes the page.

There is no new mail in his inbox.

He refreshes it again, unable to stop his heart from plummeting in disappointment or his finger from inflicting this pain on himself. To distract himself, he flips through his design manuals, assorted notes and his portfolios of photographs and drawings. Of late, it has been getting harder to study – regardless, Kaoru knows better than to jeopardize his chances of professional success in any way.

He knows better, because he must get to the point where he is larger than life.

To become no longer human but a character whose every quirk is accepted and every sin forgiven – he doesn't mind being at once publicly excoriated and beyond reproach, at once known by everybody and unknown by everyone, if only, if only…

If only.

It doesn't keep him occupied for long. Nothing does.

There is the all-consuming obsession and there is him, helpless to resist being eaten up. There is the agonizing wait and the torturous anticipation, there is the need and the want and this is the unhealthiest addiction Kaoru has ever willingly chosen.

Refresh.

Is this worth it?

He lowers his head to the desk and closes his eyes.

It is within his power to stand up now and march to wherever Hikaru is to ask that Hikaru lend him his strength, to demand that Hikaru save him from himself.

Please. Refresh.

The heating in the mansion isn't high enough. What feels cold, body or soul?

Hikaru, help me; I can't pull away. Hikaru, Hikaru, Hikaru, Hikaru…

Refresh.

He doesn't even want to pretend to be absorbed in something else – not the sketches scattered in front of him and not the music playing in the background and not life itself unless he gets what he wants.

Opportunities to sleep have been few and far between as the date for the show draws ever closer. If Kaoru were smart, he'd have gone to bed already. There's always the whole of tomorrow to refresh this one inbox, refresh refresh refresh refresh refresh refresh refresh refresh refresh –

"Kaoru!" Hikaru bursts into the atelier in his green pyjamas, hair mussed from sleep. "What?"

Kaoru sits up, startled. "What?"

"What 'what'? I heard you calling me!"

"H-Huh?"

"You were shouting at me, you woke me up, don't 'huh' me, idiot! Stop making so much noise! What's up with you? Why haven't you gone to sleep? You know we have to wake up at five thirty tomorrow to get to the office by six thirty latest, right? Preferably six fifteen?"

Kaoru blinks at him throughout his rant.

"Sorry," he says softly. "Go back to sleep, Hikaru. I love you, goodnight."

"Fuck it, I don't want your apology. I love you too, that's why I want to know why you've been acting weird these past few days! We've been busy with the show so I didn't think it was the right time to discuss it, but now I'm thinking I was wrong not to have confronted you earlier! The hell is going on?"

"Hikaru," Kaoru says, with a hint of a whine that gets his brother every time.

"Oh no you don't. Spill."

"Nothing. I'm tired too, I'll be going up to sleep soon, I promise."

"Of course you're tired! We've only been working more than 100-hour weeks! You think I haven't noticed you fiddling with your phone all the time, or using the computer before you go out and before you go to sleep? Kaoru, I don't wanna have to ask again – what's up with you?"

Kaoru reaches a hand out for his brother; obligingly, Hikaru comes to hold him. He inhales Hikaru's familiar scent, hands fisting in the emerald silk fabric. "I don't know… how to… begin telling you about – about everything, I guess. I just – I don't even need an email, I haven't emailed him either… I'm just – I want – I don't know."

"Try me," Hikaru challenges, a glint in his eyes.

Sighing in surrender, Kaoru grasps the screen and twists it forward and left to allow Hikaru to read the contents displayed on it.

Before taking hold of the mouse, Hikaru gives him a stern, displeased look, his lips pressed into a thin line.

Docilely, Kaoru leans into his brother's side as his brother clicks and scrolls through the messages in his email.

Uh, whoops, that one might have been a bit personal.

That one too.

And that one contains – Kaoru gasps in faint horror and switches off the monitor.

The screen blanks out in front of Hikaru.

"Don't worry about it, I can always wash my brain out later," Hikaru informs him flatly.

Kaoru winces.

"It's not like I didn't know. Obviously you were seeing someone and keeping it secret from me," Hikaru snorts.

"H-Huh?"

"Yes, I knew, dumbass. Come on, Kaoru. I may not have known who it was but the other signs were pretty hard to miss. Then you've been getting edgier and edgier – apart from the show, there's only one other event happening in the next couple of months that we'd even be remotely interested in, so that cleared up the identity quick."

"Y-You're not angry?" Kaoru asks, hushed with disbelief.

"Furious, but I took it all out on Tono and Haruhi."

"That's – !"

"Unfair to them, I know. They said they'd rather I vent my anger on them than hurt you anymore than you've already been. I'm super pissed off at you, Kaoru."

"I'm sorry," he says quietly.

"For not telling me," Hikaru clarifies for his benefit. "Four years, Kaoru. Four. My wildest guess was a year, and I'd thought that was pushing it! I can't even – those emails go four years back – that's too much by anyone's standards! If it were four months, it'd be difficult enough for me to forgive you!"

Kaoru repeats his apology miserably.

"Actually, if anyone'd asked me, I would've said that the only situation that I would find forgivable is if you found someone and didn't tell me for four days. Not weeks, not months, and absolutely not years. You want to know what the worst thing is? I understand why you didn't say anything. When I put all the little puzzle pieces together and finally figured it out, I completely understood because it's just like you to be such an idiot."

Kaoru ducks his head in disgrace. "Hikaru…"

"Don't use that tone on me, I'm so pissed off I want to scold you first! First you thought that you guys didn't have a chance in hell of making it last, so you thought it would be better that no one knows – not even us, friends so close that we're practically family, or me, actual family – to stop things from getting awkward when the group of us meet up. Then it got serious and you didn't want me to know because you didn't want me to hate him when the time came for him to leave you. You didn't want us to break away from them, you know they're also important to me. Then you found out he was serious about it too, and it became your top priority to keep it from leaking to the press. By that time you were in so deep that it became harder and harder for you to tell me because you'd have to justify why you didn't just come out with it from the start! That's it, isn't it? Meanwhile both of you have been killing yourselves by working way too hard to become famous and accomplished in your own right to break free at last. Do you have any idea how the rest of us felt when we found out – how we still feel? How guilty do you think I feel, that I let you struggle for four years without lifting a finger to help you?"

"Hikaru, it's not your fault! Don't take on that sort of guilt! The – the others all know as well?"

"Duh. When the engagement was announced, Tono said he caught sight of your face and knew immediately."

"I thought I hid it well," Kaoru laughs weakly.

"You did – you have. Too well. What are you going to do now?"

Astonished, Kaoru answers, "Nothing."

"Nothing?! You're just gonna let him marry her?"

"Yes. Honestly, it's enough that he tried to make us a possibility – he didn't have to, but he did."

"Kaoru, don't, don't just – !"

"Don't what, Hikaru? Don't give up? A part of me always knew we'd come to this."

"Fight for it!" Hikaru urges desperately. "You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Four years of commitment, four years of pain and secrecy, four years' worth of your life that you'd never ever get back. Fight for it!"

"I can't, Hikaru," Kaoru whispers hoarsely. "No matter what, I won't ruin his future like that. Didn't you read the emails? He was so close – this just happened to be the endgame move. If he marries, it's checkmate. He wins. For as long as we've known each other, he has wanted this – he's wanted this for longer than he's wanted me. I can't be selfish, I can't do that to him! I can't carry that burden of being the person who caused him to fail or caused him to give up his dreams! I won't be able to live with myself! Even if I go public with our relationship, what makes you think we'll stay together? What makes you think he'll ever forgive an underhanded move like that?!"

"I can't watch you do this," Hikaru pleads. "Don't make me watch you do this. I feel like I might die from heartache, and mine is merely secondhand."

Kaoru laughs again, impossibly sincere and gentle in the circumstances. "It's because it's new to you – a lot to process and feel. I've lived with this for years, Hikaru. Really, when I say that I saw it coming – it was inevitable – I mean it. Every word."

"Then why did you get involved? Why did you let yourself walk this path when you knew it could only lead to this?!" Hikaru shakes him by the shoulders. "Why, Kaoru?!"

"Because." Kaoru grins sheepishly.

"Because what?! Does it deserve the price you're paying for it?!"

"It was incredible while it lasted."

Hikaru snaps his mouth shut with an audible clack. He fills his lungs with air and rids himself of the impulse to shout.

"Don't cry, Kaoru."

"Eh? I'm not crying," Kaoru replies, touching a few fingers to his eyes and showing them to Hikaru as proof. "See? Dry."

Hikaru stares at him silently.

But you have, and you will.

"No," Kaoru contradicts. "I'll survive. I still have you, don't I?"

"Kaoru…"

"It's not the end of the world. Actually before this took place, I spent all my time being anxious about it – I thought it'd finish me for sure, I kept telling myself that I wouldn't make it if we came to an end, but now that it's upon me and I can't avoid it… I'm still alive, aren't I? It hurts and I'll take a while to heal, but I'll survive, Hikaru. D-Don't leave me, though, I really wouldn't – I need you. Please."

"That shouldn't even be a question."

"Okay then. Okay. That's all I need to know that it'll be all right one day. Let's go to sleep."


Next: Chapter 2: So Close
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