The Kissing Booth
The Host Club was now open. It was being held in the gardens, and the general theme was Fairy Tales. The girls goggled and fawned as they admired the Club members' get-ups.
"What are you supposed to be, Hunny-senpai?" asked one of the girls clustered around the pond.
Hunny was bobbing along, kept afloat by a seashell-patterned floaty. "I'm a mermaid!" he cried happily, twisting enough to lift his constrained legs from the water and show off his glittery green fin outfit.
"Ah- I think you mean merman, Hunny-senpai," one of the girls giggled, while the others twittered about how adorable the small senior was.
Mori, predictably, stayed close by to keep an eye on his charge. Several girls were clustered around him, very much impressed with his dashing knight's armor.
Kyouya, dressed as a wizard-- very intimidating in his dark robes and pointed hat --stood off to the side as he scribbled in his notebook. To his right, Tamaki was lounging beneath a sakura tree, a low coffee table separating him from a line of eager customers. A sign hanging from the table read: "One Kiss - 1000 yen".
"We'll alternate," Kyouya promised without looking up as he jotted down notes. "You're the most popular, so you'll spend half an hour at the booth now, and half an hour again just before closing, for anyone that missed you. The rest of us will take turns in between for fifteen minutes each."
Tamaki, despite his relaxed position, was eyeing the grouped girls a bit nervously. His cheeks were a littler more colored than normal. "What about Haruhi?"
Kyouya finally lifted his eyes to seek out the singular female of the group. She was seated with three of her most loyal customers, chatting with them in her easy familiar way as she poured them each some tea. She was dressed as an elf, with fake ears, a jaunty triangle hat, and a simple green tunic. Hers had been the simplest costume to make, but the customers seemed no less enamoured with it.
"She'll get her turn," Kyouya said firmly, returning to his notes. "It's just a kiss on the cheek."
"Ah, sou..." Tamaki offered his first customer a wide smile that betrayed none of his trepidition.
Except to one of the people who knew him best. Kyouya didn't look up from his book, but he could sense his friend's private embarrassment at the prospect of kissing so many girls. Flirting was one thing, this was something else altogether. "Pretend you're awakening the 'princess within' or some such dribble, if that makes it any easier," he muttered.
Unwilling to appear the coward, Tamaki straightened hastily, offering the blushing girl before him a dazzling smile. Seated on a little cushion before the table, she fidgeted shyly. Slanting his eyes to the side, Kyouya studied the self-proclaimed King approvingly.
Tamaki's initial plan had been, of course, to dress as a prince. Then Haruhi and the twins had come through, suggesting something much more unique. Haruhi had come up with the idea, and the twins had provided the costume. Kyouya had been skeptical at first, but he had to admit, the idea had been pulled off flawlessly.
"Technically, Pan is a satyr-- a faun," Haruhi had mused as the twins went over the first basic ideas for the costume. "But it would be too much work to get that full affect across." She had eyed Tamaki tolerantly as he'd flirted shamelessly with a group of girls who had come to seek Haruhi out for tutoring. "Of course, he was also a notorious lech and seducer," she'd muttered.
"He had lots of girlfriends, didn't he, Haruhi-chan?" Hunny had asked brightly, eager to show he had at least some basic knowledge of the mythological god.
"Er..." She'd scratched at her head in a mixture of embarrassment and humor. "He didn't have a very good reputation, being such a pervert. A lot of women ran away from him and hid. And it wasn't only women he was with. Like the shepard boy Daphnis... Oh, but don't mention any of that to Tamaki-senpai. Just let him believe he's some ethereal god of some sort. He can work with that easily. I doubt he bothered to do much research."
"Being a god is good enough for him," Kyouya had agreed dryly. "He'll willingly do the part just for that."
The costume the twins had designed was simple but elegant. Bare-chested, he wore loose forest-green pants that hung low on his hips. The twins had managed to make odd-looking shoes that somewhat resembled hooves, and two blunt little horns stuck out of his ruffled blond hair. He hadn't liked that very much; used to keeping up appearances, the assault of vigourous hands on his head in an attempt to make his hair look more wild and wind-blown had not been taken well. But altogether it had the desired affect. The girls were going into swooning fits.
The girl slid her 1000 yen onto the table hesitantly and turned her cheek. Tamaki hesitated for only an instant before leaning forward. He placed gentle fingertips to her jawline and brushed her cheek with a light romantic kiss.
The girl nearly fainted.
The others in line squealed in anticipation.
Confidence restored, Tamaki went at his task with renewed vigor, finding some special thing to say to each lady before bestowing them with the much yearned-for kiss. Kyouya kept an eye on things for a few moments more, then, when he was satisfied that the fool wouldn't chicken out, he began to make his rounds. He checked on how the others were doing, stopped to charm customers, helped Mori fish a floundering Hunny from the pond, and deftly removed Hikaru's hand from Haruhi's waist on passing.
All in all, it was a complete success. The weather was beautiful, the costumes fit in well with the surroundings, and most importantly, the customers were happy. And since happy customers equated to paying customers, all was right in Kyouya-land.
Hunny took over the booth after Tamaki and applied sticky smacking kisses to each adoring girl in line. Kyouya was eyeing the twins suspiciously-- they were huddled under a tree with Haruhi, whispering, while Tamaki listened from the sidelines, objecting noisily to whatever they were plotting --when Hunny called him over. It was his turn. Sighing inwardly, he tucked his notebook into the wide sleeve of his robe and headed over to the booth. This was one part he would have preferred to stay out of himself, but the other club members had objected vehemently.
"If we have to do it, so do you," Haruhi had ended the argument at last. The others had nodded firmly, and that had been the end of it.
Kyouya smoothed his face into the polite expression he wore for all the customers and took his seat behind the booth. The girls seemed to get even more flustered. Tamaki, Hunny, and the twins were one thing, but to receive kisses from the normally aloof Mori and Kyouya... They looked as if they couldn't decide whether to fight to go first or last.
Kyouya waited patiently until the first girl finally plucked up enough courage to take a seat across from him, and smiled at her. Her blush intensifed, and she put her money down with a trembling hand, turning her head aside and displaying her soft cheek.
It wasn't until he was leaning forward to give the girl her money's worth when one simple fact struck home.
He'd never kissed anyone before.
Not even on the cheek. Aside from the twins (and Haruhi, though her first kiss had been an accident, and with another girl), none of the other club members, to Kyouya's knowledge, had kissed anybody either. No wonder Tamaki had been so fidgety.
Stomping down the momentary flutter of apprehension, he regained his cool emotional distance and pressed his closed mouth briefly to the girl's cheek before anyone could notice the hesitation.
It was a quick peck, the sort one might give their great-aunt, but the girl squeaked and looked ready to pass out from a strange mixture of ecstasy and terror. Blushing furiously, she scrambled to her feet and hurried off while the other girls whispered excitedly amongst themselves. Some of the more frail-hearted ones changed their minds and left the line hastily, but the rest only looked suddenly full of burning determination to get their kiss from the untouchable shadow king.
Kyouya switched his attention to business matters, his mind far away as he dutifully and emotionlessly laid a quick kiss on each customer's cheek. He had withdrawn from his surroundings so far, waiting for the whole dull process to be over, that he almost didn't see the face of his impending doom until too late.
Or faces, rather.
There were only a few customers left, and the twins were next in line. Kyouya froze, lips a few inches from the newest girl's cheek, and stared over her shoulder at them with an icy glare. What did the idiots think they were doing? He finished the kiss quickly and glanced around. Was there trouble? Had they come over to warn him that Haruhi was being harassed again, or Hunny had eaten all the desserts?
"Time's almost up," Kaoru noted, grinning at his watch. "You have time for one~ more customer!"
Hikaru grinned wickedly and leaned down to flash 1000 yen in Kyouya's face.
Kyouya leaned back, eyes narrowing, but another hand appeared under his nose, waving 2000 yen. "I was here first," Tamaki declared regally.
The twins glowered at him. "No fair," they chimed indignantly. "You can't just cut in like tha-- Oi, King!"
Tamaki was ignoring them. He sat himself down across from Kyouya and grinned at his friend, who was gazing back at him in displeasure. "You owe me one," he said smugly.
Kyouya looked from him to the twins and had to grudgingly admit the doofus was right. Better to peck his best friend on the cheek than suffer whatever sadistic-- and possibly perverted --plan the twins had cooked up.
Sighing audibly, he leaned forward as Tamaki did likewise, already turning to offer his cheek.
Kyouya saw Hikaru's sudden smirk too late.
Hikaru reached out swiftly, seized a fistful of Tamaki's hair, and twisted the blond's head around, shoving forward at the same time.
Kyouya found his mouth mashed quite firmly against Tamaki's own.
There was a split second of stunned silence in the garden in which Kyouya's staggering brain had barely enough time to process--
warm soft lips, a hint of moisture as Tamaki's mouth parted slightly in surprise, a huff of hot air against his bottom lip
--and then abruptly all the girls in the garden erupted in shrieks of fangirly joy.
"HIKARU!!" Haruhi shouted from somewhere, voice shocked.
Kyouya jerked back so fast he lost his balance. He caught himself on his elbows in the grass at the last instant and stared numbly back at Tamaki, who was still half-leaning over the table, mouth open a bit as he sat gaping back.
Hikaru and Kaoru were laughing so hard they looked about ready to piss their pants. Belatedly Tamaki seemed to realize what had happened, and exploded. His face scarlet with anger and embarrassment, he shook free of Hikaru's hand and leapt up to confront them. He danced with rage, waving his arms in the air and shouting threats while the twins leaned against each other and fought to breathe between howls of laughter.
Then Tamaki made as if to grab them, and they managed to pull themselves together enough to go racing madly across the grounds with Tamaki hot on their heels, still screeching like a banshee. The twins' gleeful chant rang on the air.
"Kyouya and Ta-ma-ki sitting in a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"
Kyouya remained where he was, face blank, until Haruhi, struggling to look more concerned than amused, came over to check on him.
The twins finally came back to do their joint sessions at the booth, pretending not to notice Kyouya's and Tamaki's sidelong glares. The rest of the afternoon was uneventful, unless you counted Haruhi's stint behind the booth when both twins bought a kiss apiece, earning another Tamaki explosion.
They knew better than to stick around for long afterwards, however. The minute the last customer was gone, Hikaru and Kaoru were nowhere to be found. That was all right with Kyouya. He could bide his time. In the meantime, let them wait nervously for the inevitable retribution.
Tamaki, however, scoured the gardens high and low for them, promising to mete out fatal justice while Haruhi got up and headed for the school without a word. Kyouya suspected she had an idea where the twins had gone, but let her go without comment.
"Awww," Hunny pouted as he picked at the remains of a trifle. "Tama-chan is in the lead now. Kyouya-kun didn't like your bunny, he wouldn't eat my cake, and he wouldn't let the twins touch him. Tamaki's the only one who's had any success!"
"Aa." Mori began covering up the one or two pies that had been untouched.
"Hmm~" Hunny swung his legs over the edge of his chair, gazing pensively in Kyouya's direction. "Maybe it's better this way."
Mori arched a brow in question, tugging off his gleaming breastplate.
"It's a game of chances," Hunny declared, half to himself, as he stuffed the rest of his trifle into his mouth.
"Chance," Mori corrected automatically, reaching out to wipe Hunny's mouth with a cloth napkin. "A game of chance."
"How is this a game of chance?" Hunny giggled, propping his elbows on the table and resting his chin on his wrists. He slanted his eyes upwards to grin at Mori through his bangs. His voice was quiet. "I mean chances. Maybe that isn't what Hika-kun and Kao-kun intended, but..." his gaze shifted towards Tamaki as the blond staggered out of the bushes, back from his fruitless search. "That's what it is," Hunny finished firmly, mouth softening in a fond smile. "For all of them."
Mori stared at him in silence for another moment, then transferred his breastplate to his left hand, holding out his right in invitation. "Come. You're still expected to be home in time for dinner."
Hunny bounced from his seat, scuttled up Mori's arm, and perched on his shoulders. "Ja~ minna~" he sang cheerfully, waving as Mori carried him down the path.
Tamaki turned to wave in farewell, while Kyouya grunted in reply, attention on his notes.
Tamaki looked around, hands on his hips, and heaved a sigh. The garden was deserted. Soon the clean-up crew would be along. He strolled over to Kyouya and propped himself against his friend with his elbow on the other boy's shoulder. He took a peek at the notes Kyouya was scribbling, then, finding them boring, turned his gaze away and offered the garden a satisfied smile. "Well! That went well. And I suppose that booth was a good idea. We made a lot of money, didn't we?"
Kyouya's eyes barely flickered towards his friend, but he kept his expression unreadable. Secretly, he was a bit surprised at Tamaki's casual behavior after what had occurred earlier. "Considering the simplicity of the idea, the earnings were somewhat decent," he agreed, doing some quick math in the corner of the page. "Still, the overall total for today's events is still not enough to put the club's impending debt safely behind us."
"Hence the Game."
Kyouya shut his notebook with a slap and turned to face the other boy, forcing him to remove his elbow from Kyouya's shoulder. "If the twins want to find an amusing way to earn money for the club, I see no problem with it," he snapped. "But not at my expense."
"Oh, come on, Kyouya," Tamaki scoffed, flapping his hands dismissively. "Don't be such a stick in the mud."
Kyouya frowned. "You seem to be conveniently forgetting how the twins used you to play their foolish little game not one hour ago."
Tamaki blinked at him, and for a moment Kyouya incredulously wondered if he had indeed forgotten... Then slowly the blond's face began to color. "Oh, that." He placed his hands on his hips and laughed loudly. It was a forced laugh that made Kyouya wince in displeasure. "That doesn't count. Besides, they'll pay for it soon enough! I'll make them--"
"Doesn't count," Kyouya repeated sharply, eyeing his friend suspiciously. "So you've decided not to participate after all?"
Tamaki's smile slipped away as he hesitated, thinking that over again. "Oh. ...Hmm.." He began gnawing on his lip, eyes flicking to the side. "That's right," he muttered to himself. "The winner gets a weekend with Haruhi, so..." He beamed. "Hey! I'm in the lead now, aren't I?"
Kyouya's voice was flat. "What?"
Tamaki, as usual, missed the warning signs completely. "No one else has kissed you yet! You've never even kissed a girl! That means I'm winning!"
Kyouya smacked him upside the head with his notebook, hard. "Don't go braying things like that in public," he ordered coolly. "Besides, you just said it didn't count."
"Yes it does." Tamaki rubbed at his head absently, grinning happily. "It counts. And I'm winning."
"You're not," Kyouya growled, spinning on his heel and striding off.
"Why not??" Tamaki hurried to catch up.
Kyouya plucked off his ridiculous pointed cap and tucked it under his arm. "Because I say so."
"Hey!" Tamaki jumped in front of him, forcing him to stop. He frowned disagreeably at Kyouya. "That's not a reason," he insisted. "I'm the only one that's actually done anything--"
"Only because Hikaru has a twisted sense of humor."
"--So I have the most points!"
"There are no 'points'!" Kyouya snapped. "This is not soccer. You can't win this stupid game of their's by earning enough 'points', you king of idiots."
Tamaki looked lost. "Then how do you win?"
It occurred to Kyouya suddenly why the whole concept of this game must be a puzzle to Tamaki (aside from the fact that he could be incredibly dense). Most of the games the twins set in motion had set rules and an easily defined victory. Whoever can make so-and-so laugh first, whoever goes longest without any desserts, etc. But this game wasn't so cut and dry. Kyouya sighed and rubbed at his brow for patience.
"Tamaki," he explained wearily, "this game is not determined by any one specific thing. A forced kiss doesn't make someone the winner. Neither does earning a smile, or instigating a hug, or anything stupid like that. This is a game about winning somebody over-- me, in this instance."
Tamaki thought about that for a moment. "So it's sort of like the laughing game?"
Kyouya stared at him blankly. "How so?"
"Well, you're not allowed to use tickling in the make-someone-laugh game," Tamaki pointed out. "You can't force the person to laugh, you have to find a way to make them laugh all by themselves, with a joke or something. Is this like that? You have to earn a response?"
Kyouya blinked. "Crudely put, but... yes, that's a simplified explanation of it, I suppose."
Tamaki leaned in close, bare-chested, hair still unruly, and grinned at him. "So what kind of response do I need to get to win?" he asked in a low voice.
He was trying to be secretive; the whole thing was just a fun game to him. But Kyouya found himself leaning back instinctively, heart giving a nervous thump. Tamaki watched his retreat with confusion.
"Don't ask stupid questions," Kyouya muttered, dodging around the other boy and striding down the path. "If you'd won, you'd know it."
"How?" Tamaki called after him in frustration.
"Shut up. What makes you think you'll win anyway?" Kyouya shot back irritably. "You suck at this sort of thing. How could you possibly think of some trick to winning?" Stop talking, his mind hissed warningly. Don't goad him. You know if you do that, he'll only...
A quick backwards glance showed Tamaki wearing a confident little smile.
"Because," he pointed out simply, "I know you best."
Kyouya stared at him for a moment, then turned his back and hurried away.
Author's notes: Yes, Tamaki really is that dense about emotions >XD;; Poor Kyouya.
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