"To persuade to disobedience or disloyalty."
"Hm?" Kyouya didn't even bother to glance up, eyes on the monitor as he checked the weekly auction sales online. Haruhi's discarded pencil box had earned an impressive amount. He was going to have to tell the twins to ferret something else out of her backpack during class.
"To lead astray usually by persuasion or false promises," Tamaki continued seriously. He was standing on the other side of the monitor, reading word-for-word, apparently, from a scrap of paper.
"What are you babbling about?" Kyouya muttered distractedly, only lending half an ear. Haruhi had already begun a mass search for the pencil box. The twins better not have screwed up and put something up for auction that actually had sentimental value, like the pen incident.
Tamaki hesitated a moment, then carried on boldly, "To carry out the physical seduction of : entice to sexual intercourse."
He had abruptly earned Kyouya's undivided attention.
Across the music room, the animated discussion between the twins had screeched to a halt. Mori was twisting around in his chair to stare, and Hunny's eyes were as big as dinner plates. A half-chewed piece of cake fell from his open mouth and landed on the edge of the table with a plop.
Kyouya opened his mouth, but for a moment his voice failed him. He could only stare in horrified disbelief at his friend. Tamaki didn't notice; he was frowning at the paper in his hands, as if the words on them puzzled him in some way.
His voice was too loud in the silence. "Is this a contest to see who can, uh..." He couldn't seem to complete the sentence. Everyone waited, wincing in anticipation of the explosion that was sure to occur.
Tamaki finally met Kyouya's gaze, his face a mixture of puzzlement and anxiety. "'Lead astray' and 'disloyalty'??" He gasped in horror. "The plan is to make you so angry you want to leave the Club!!" He whirled angrily on the twins, and missed the impressive dent Kyouya's head left on the desk. "I will not allow such a game!!"
"Are you really that stupid??" Hikaru burst out.
"Tamaki-senpai, think of what happened during the fantasy theme in the sakura grove," Kaoru prompted a bit more patiently.
"That just proves it!" Tamaki declared.
"..Okay, because it's Kyouya, you have a point," Hikaru sighed, rubbing irritably at his brow as if to ward off a headache. "But--"
"We aren't trying to run Kyo-kun out!" Hunny insisted fervently. "He would tell us if we went too far. Right, Kyo-kun??"
Kyouya rose to his feet abruptly, struggling to keep his impassive mask in check. Ever since the... incident ..at his house three days ago, he'd forced himself to act as if nothing had happened. Luckily for him, Tamaki had acted like he'd completely forgotten about it. Or maybe 'acted' wasn't the right word.
"I refuse to discuss this idiocy any longer," he snapped. Snatching up his laptop, he crossed the room to put some distance between himself and Tamaki, trying not to make it too obvious. He seated himself primly in one of the ornate armchairs, staring unseeing at his monitor. "Where is Haruhi? She's late."
"She had to go to the bathroom," Kaoru answered.
"She's been gone awhile," Hikaru noted with a slight frown. He and his brother exchanged a glance, and they headed for the door simultaneously.
"Where are you two going?" Kyouya demanded.
"Now we have to pee," they chorused in bored tones, and had strolled out before they could be ordered back.
Kyouya stared down at his laptop, fingers frozen tensely over the keys.
Masaka... Was he the reason she was absent? Had he pushed things too far last night?
"They're checking on Haruhi," Hunny spoke up quietly, expression a bit worried. "That second year who hassled her before-- Yafuki-kun --has been bothering her again."
Kyouya frowned, privately a bit relieved that someone else was at fault "She never said anything."
Hunny shrugged one shoulder as if to say 'That's Haruhi for you'. "She doesn't think it's a big deal, and she doesn't want to start a fuss. Kao-kun and Hika-kun have stopped it when they saw it happening."
Predictably, Tamaki threw a fit of epic proportions. "Men are harrassing my daughter and no one told her loving Papa??" He cried, flailing frantically at the air. "No one can treat Haruhi like that!"
"Let the twins handle it, Tamaki," Kyouya interrupted sternly. He found himself staring at his laptop's screen, fingers till poised motionless over the keyboard. It was impossible to concentrate on the task at hand. His mind was still stumbling over unwanted guilt over last night and the idiocy that the club president had been babbling about minutes earlier. In the end, it all came back to Tamaki. The blond moron was to blame for everything. He never would have come on so strong to her if he hadn't...
He jerked his mind away from that with an internal wince, irritated at his own feelings of guilt. Nothing had happened; there was no reason for him to feel like such a dirtbag. He turned his anger outwards, towards the person he thought deserved the brunt end of his temper. "What was that garbage you were just spewing?"
At his cold tone, Hunny and Mori glanced at each other and decided to stay out of it. Tamaki, however, was still caught up on Haruhi's present plight.
"I have to go to her! She needs her Papa! Mother!! Why aren't you more angry about this? It's a disgrace!"
"That is not the garbage I am referring to," Kyouya said, his voice hard. He lifted his eyes slightly to glare at the other boy. "That definition you were just reading--"
"What?" Tamaki stared at him blankly. Kyouya was seriously considering throwing something-- his laptop could probably do a good amount of damage --at the idiot's head, when Tamaki seemed to remember the scrap of paper in his hand. He lifted it and glanced over it again. "Oh, this. You told me to look up--"
"I wasn't serious," Kyouya interrupted hotly. "And if you're so stupid that you had to actually look that up, then--"
"Kyouya~ why do you have such a scary look on your face?" Tamaki whined. "You're the one who told me to do it." He hesitated, reading the definitions once more. He blinked. "...Oh." He looked at Kyouya in surprise. "Is that why you're so mad? You don't want to be seduced?"
Kyouya opened his mouth and shut it again, baffled. He pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose in an attempt to hide the momentary mental stumble. "I don't think you completely understa--"
Tamaki strode over and put his hands on the armrests, effectively penning the other host in. He leaned into Kyouya's personal space, a devilish smile stretching his mouth wide. "But then, Kyouya, you never bother to seduce any of the princesses we get here, so maybe you're uncomfortable at the thought of the roles being reversed."
Kyouya could only stare back, at a complete loss for words. When Tamaki shifted gears from brainless prince to intelligent fixer-upper, Kyouya was usually able to take it in stride. He'd gotten used to it. But this was a little harder to swallow. Because if Tamaki was insinuating that he in fact did understand the nature of the Game now...
"That's so cute, Kyouya!" Tamaki exclaimed, clapping both hands heartily on his friend's shoulders. "You're just shy! You don't have to be! We're all friends here. You know it's all for fun!"
"It's for our own amusement," Hunny agreed, then ducked behind the teapot when Kyouya shot a glare his way.
"I'm not sure I understand how one can be proclaimed a winner when there are no points involved," Tamaki admitted thoughtfully, missing Kyouya's dark look. "Especially since it's all in good fun." He grinned suddenly. "Or maybe, knowing you, it's better to look at it as a good thing when there's a lack of reaction."
Kyouya frowned irritably. "What on earth is that supposed to me--"
"Like not getting punched in the face," Tamaki said quickly, and snatched up Kyouya's hand, bringing it up to his mouth. Kyouya tried to yank his hand away, horrified, but Tamaki's grip was surprisingly strong. Then, to his ultimate disbelief and mortification, Tamaki swung into full Prince mode, complete with imaginary shoujo bubbles and alluring smile.
"Ah~ so shy. And such smooth skin and penetrating, er.. eyes..." He hesitated as he got caught in the full blast of Kyouya's most deadly glare. He cleared his throat and jerked his eyes to another part of anatomy to avoid the stare. "And such silky-looking hair and fine bone structure--"
"Now you're reaching," Kyouya managed to growl from behind clenched teeth. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Hunny having a silent fit in a valiant attempt to keep his laughter bottled up. Mori was pointedly not watching the bizarre exchange. "And if you value our friendship at all, you will release me this second and cease your idiotic dribbling."
Tamaki continued as if he hadn't heard. He tried to lay a kiss on Kyouya's knuckles, but Kyouya strained against the grip, making it so Tamaki had to practically double over just to keep his face close to the resistant hand. "When we are alone, I will tell you in more detail just how charming I find you," Tamaki promised in a stage-whisper, having, in Kyouya's opinion, just a bit too much fun at his expense.
Why haven't you hit him yet? his subconscious hissed frantically.
Then the door burst open, and his eyes jerked in horror towards the trio that came strolling in.
Hikaru's voice was loud and irritated, overriding Haruhi's protests. "Next time that lowlife pulls something like that again, you come and get us. You don't have to take crap from him."
Kaoru sounded more concerned than angry. "You don't know what a guy like that is capable of, Haruhi. Don't try to argue with him, just ignore him and then tell us about it."
"I can take care of myself!" Haruhi insisted. "I don't want to start any trou..ble..." She screeched to a halt, and the twins followed her wide-eyed gaze to where Kyouya sat frozen with his hand still trapped in Tamaki's grip. Tamaki had turned his head to stare at them in bewilderment.
Kyouya rose to his feet abruptly and brought his schedule book down hard on top of his friend's head.
Tamaki yelped and released Kyouya immediately, stumbling back and clasping his hands atop his head with a wounded expression. "Mama!" he complained. "You're so abusive!"
The twins burst into laughter. Haruhi blinked slowly. "Tamaki-senpai, were you trying to..."
"I don't understand," Tamaki complained, teary-eyed. "All the girls like it when I say things like that and--"
Kyouya reached out and snatched a handful of the other boy's uniform, dragging him bodily across the room and over to a window. "Look, you king idiot," he hissed, glaring at his startled friend. "How many times do I have to remind you I'm not one of your dithering fangirls? What the hell are you trying to pull?"
Tamaki looked confused for a moment, then abruptly flushed with impatience. He pushed Kyouya's hand away roughly. "What do you want from me?" he demanded, and Kyouya winced at his volume, forcing himself not to look and see if the others were watching with interest. "Why is this upsetting you so much? You agreed to the Game. You're my friend, Kyouya, and you won't even let me touch you--" he grabbed Kyouya's hand, startling him, "-without getting mad. It's just a Game!"
Kyouya hesitated, a bit taken aback by his friend's annoyance. He'd actually hurt the moron's feelings. He aborted his instinctive attempt to pull his hand away. Without meaning to, he glanced across the room towards Haruhi. She dropped her gaze instantly, and he tried to ignore the gnaw of guilt. Hikaru caught the silent exchange and sent him a suspicious stare, so he returned his eyes reluctantly to Tamaki.
"People can... get hurt in a game like this," he said carefully, keeping his tone low.
Tamaki blinked, releasing Kyouya's hand. "How?"
"...Things can.. get out of hand in games with rules like this one."
"Kyouya-kun, what are you doing--?"
He shrugged off the memory violently and stomped on his conscience.
Tamaki studied him with a puzzled expression. "I don't fully understand," he admitted slowly. "But if you're afraid something bad will happen, you could always end the game. And declare a winner." He waggled his brows and grinned in meaningful encouragement.
Kyouya rolled his eyes.
Hikaru stepped forward quickly, having caught at least some of what was said. "Hey, no cheating!" he said loudly. "If we think you choose a winner just to end the Game, we'll just make the rules a bit more specific." He grinned. "Anyway, Tamaki-senpai, why do you think you have such a good chance at winning?" he practically purred.
Kyouya tried to silence his friend, but Tamaki was already boasting. "I've been able to do more than anyone else!" he proclaimed. "He didn't like what anyone else did. Obviously, I'm in the lead!"
"Don't encourage them, idiot," Kyouya snapped, pushing him away. He glared around at them all. "This conversation is over. We have a meeting to get ready for."
Tamaki started to frown, then seemed to think better of it. He spun around and clapped his hands once dramatically, already switching back to club president mode. "Yes! Our lovely princesses will be here soon, and we must be ready for them! Hunny! More snacks! Mori! Make sure every place is set just right at every table! Hikaru, Kaoru!"
Kyouya tuned him out, flipping open his scheduling book and staring intently at a blank page. Neither he nor Tamaki made eye contact with Haruhi for the rest of the afternoon.
Haruhi seemed unbothered by it. But Kaoru watched the three of them with thoughtful eyes and wondered.
Haruhi's general ignorance and inexperience at what the students of Ouran considered "normal" had often sparked last-second vacations, trips, and adventures before; likewise, their curiosity on how "commoners" amused themselves had led to great fun on their part and embarrassment on hers.
When Renge put in an appearance later that day to 'check on the club's progress', and give 'helpful' suggestions, she stopped for a moment to tell an uncaring Kyouya what a wonderful time her younger cousins had had at his themepark.
Immediately some of the customers chimed in with their own praise, telling of their own visits, or how they had gone there on dates before.
Haruhi listened with wide eyes for a moment before blurting in disbelief, "Kyouya owns a themepark??"
"Actually, his sister funded it," Renge explained, always quick to show off her knowledge of the hosts. She dug a pamplet out of her pocket and handed it over. "Some school project when she was in high school. It's a great success! It's for children of all ages."
Haruhi flipped through the pamplet with a mix of wariness and interest. "'Fun World'? An indoor beach for the wealthy I can understand, but it's hard to imagine Kyouya's family owning something like this. It does look like fun, though."
"His sister likes children--" Renge started, looking ready to sweep into one of her winded monologues.
But the twins had overheard, and popped up from behind the couch, startling Haruhi. "Na~ Haruhi, don't tell me you've never been?"
She scowled indignantly, staring at the colorful pictures in the handout. "I've been to a themepark before," she huffed. "A long time ago with my mother. It was small, though, and I don't really remember much..." Her jaw dropped when she got to the section on price packages. "But of course I've never been to this place-- Why would anyone pay this much?? This is a year's worth of rent for a three-day pass!"
"Poor Haruhi." The twins pat her on the head sympathetically.
Hunny bounded into her lap, knocking the breath out of her. "Haruhi~! We should go! You'll love it! It's so much fun!!"
Tamaki had been trying his best to pay more attention to his customers than the conversation, but as usual, his willpower weakened at the thought of another chance to show Haruhi a 'better life'. He leapt to his feet, finger jabbing at the sky. "Yes! We must educate Haruhi on the fun of Fun World and the relaxation of a day spent enjoying one's life to the fullest! Kyouya!!" His finger swept to the side, to where the other boy was already pulling out his cell phone in resignation. "Set it up! Hunny! You are in charge of packing a lunch!"
"Wait a minute," Haruhi interrupted hastily. "It's a school night! And besides, I have no interest in--"
Tamaki carried on enthusiastically as if she'd never spoken. "Hikaru, Kaoru! Ready transportation!"
The twins saluted smartly. "Aye aye!" they chimed.
"Wait--" Haruhi tried again.
"Mori! Make sure Haruhi gets home and has enough time to change!" Tamaki set both fists on his hips, glowing with anticipation of their afternoon. Haruhi buried her face in her hands in defeat. "Let Operation Fun World commence!"
"Sa~" Hikaru murmured to his brother, grinning. "A change of scenery could make the Game more interesting, ne?"
Haruhi overheard. "Don't tell me there's a Tunnel of Love at this park," she pleaded with a wince.
The brothers only smirked. "We can always improvise," they claimed airily, flicking a conspiritorial glance Kyouya's way. He caught the look and stiffened, glowering at them suspiciously.
Haruhi almost felt sorry for him.
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