The Only Constant is Change

It's Haruhi, Kaoru, and Hikaru's final year at Ouran. Dynamics are changing and evolving... What will happen to the Host Club Members?

Author's Note: This story takes place about 8 months after the events in A Faire Shot at Mythology. It can be read as a stand alone, but it references events and items from that piece as well. If you are reading my work for the 1st time, I would humbly suggest reading my other stories The Game and A Faire Shot at Mythology before reading this to completely understand some of the relationship dynamics that I use. I promise that if you like this style of writing you will like those too. =)

http://archiveofourown.org/works/681492/chapters/1250078

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41. Revelations

The group reconvened an hour later. After some quick discussion it was decided that Kaoru would take the Porsche to pick up Renge, Tamaki and Hikaru would take the Aston, and Hani, Takashi, Kyouya and Haruhi would ride in the Land Rover. After the tournament they would all stay in those groups except for the group in the Land Rover who would go back to the house and shower before going back out in pairs – Kyouya with Takashi and Haruhi with Hani. 

The mood in Land Rover was filled with quiet intensity. Takashi drove while Hani sat in the front seat – their hands linked as their arms rested on the center console. In the back, Kyouya sat on one side but he had pulled Haruhi in to the middle so he could put his arms around her for the drive. He was content to tuck his head on top of hers and let his arms loosely fall around her waist. Haruhi, for her part, was leaning back into him and trying to complete some of her breathing exercises, using his heartbeat as a focus. Her nerves had hit hard the minute that she had walked back downstairs with her bag. 

As she shifted minutely again for the tenth time, Kyouya murmured quietly in her ear. “Relax love; you are going to knock their socks off.” 

Haruhi sighed. “I am sorry love, I was fine earlier but now the nerves are setting in. I know I can do this, but I can’t stop thinking that I will forget a sequence and dishonor Hani and Takashi.” 

Hani looked back over his shoulder at the two of them with a stern look on his face, “We wouldn’t have arranged for this if you weren’t ready. Which makes me wonder if you are questioning our judgment or our abilities as your senseis to properly teach you, since Takashi and I will ultimately be the ones who are judged by your performance, Haruhi.” 

That was really harsh. Indignant on Haruhi’s behalf, Kyouya arms tensed around her and he opened his mouth to say something, but Takashi caught his eye in the rear view mirror pleading with him to remain silent for the moment. 

At Hani’s hard words, Haruhi sat bolt upright. It felt like she had been punched in the gut. She stared at Hani for a moment, each word a hit to her psyche, but the hardest hit of all was the realization that he had called her Haruhi and not Haru-chan. Even during training when he had to formalize the separation between student and teacher, he had called her Fujioka. It was that clear disapproval in his tone that finally shook her up.By questioning myself I am questioning them. They trust me and I need to trust their judgment as Masters without calling it into question. It shows my respect to them and their teachings. I need to trust in them and trust in myself. Hani’s right. I am ready. Now I need to show it. 

Hani watched the play of emotions across Haruhi’s face – shock, hurt, and then her almost physical reaction to his use of her name, and not the pet name he had given her. It twisted something painfully inside him to watch it, but it was a cold hard lesson and one that she needed. If she didn’t find her confidence on her own, she would become a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. As her Sensei, it was his responsibility to make her see it. So he kept his face hard, and let Takashi’s hand absorb the trembling in his fingertips. 

Taking a deep breath, Haruhi closed her eyes and found her center. She let go of the self-doubt and focused on the knowledge that they had gifted her with. She let herself be humbled by the trust and respect that they had for her, which gave her the drive to prove that their faith was not misplaced. Opening her eyes, she said formally, eyes lowered, “I am must humbled by your guidance and wisdom, Sensei. I am honored by your training. I just realized that I bring more dishonor to you by questioning my training than by any mistakes or miscalculations I may make in my performance.” She looked up at him. “I honestly didn’t realize the politics that were in place with this decision to test. I am sorry for my self-doubt and I won’t fail you. I swear.” 

Hani’s face relaxed immediately, “I know you won’t Haru-chan.” His smile was brilliant. 

The tension in Kyouya’s body melted as Haruhi leaned back into him. Her fidgeting was gone. I didn’t like it, but Hani’s chastisement was exactly what Haruhi needed. He meant every word and the disappointment was real. It made her see beyond herself and challenged her - the sign of a true Master. 

Haruhi leaned back into Kyouya, but she kept her next question directed at Hani. “There is more to this tournament than you are telling me, isn’t there?” 

Hani glanced over at Takashi who nodded. “Yes... I am sure you would have noticed immediately when you got there, but you deserve to know ahead of time. You will be the only woman testing for your first master rank. Despite the fact we live in a modern world, some of the judging council members ideas on what is proper and who should be allowed to test are at best in the 18th century. They feel any homosexuals, women, and anyone under the age of 40 do not have the proper morality or life wisdom to be allowed to call themselves Masters. A few of those even think that commoners, solely by the virtue of their birth, don’t have the same moral code or intelligence to achieve a true Master rank. Thankfully, they are a small portion of the council so they don’t have the ability to unilaterally block or deny the rankings, and there is a growing movement among younger Masters to eradicate this hidebound way of thinking, while still keeping the spirit of traditional teachings. For all of the civil rights movements of the last 60 or so years globally, there are still pockets of extreme prejudice and the Old Masters are one of them. Change is coming, though, and rather dramatically. It started 25 years ago with several commoners demonstrating their mastery and founding schools that now have an international reputation for excellence. Then the age of people achieving Master ranks started slowly decreasing, and five years ago, the highest Master Rank achievable was bestowed upon a man named Zhi Fujimia who was 28 at the time. He was the sole student of one of the council members and his skill is flawless. I can’t wait for you to meet him, actually.” 

“So there are ranks to Mastery?” Kyouya asked. 

“Yes,” Takashi replied, “there are five Master ranks possible and all who have achieved the highest ranking are on the Council.” 

“What level are you and Hani?” 

“We are both level 3 Masters.” Takashi answered. 

“And boy does that stick in the craws of the Old Masters,” Hani said with a grin. “We were the youngest to ever achieve a first level Mastery and we are on our way to being fifth level by the time we reach age 26. At the time, there was a lot of dissention on whether we could test for our first level at only sixteen years old. Many on the council felt that we shouldn’t be allowed the privilege of testing until we reached the age of 18, but our families pulled rank. This was one of the times that being of royal descent helped more than hindered. Since then, with Master Zhi’s assistance and the help of several other younger members of the council, we have been shaking up the Aikido and Kendo disciplines.” 

“We still have to hide our relationship though,” Takashi said quietly. “Zhi and a few other trusted members know, but until we achieve our fifth level and become part of the council ourselves, if it came out, we would be blackballed and not allowed to test. Even with the influence of our families, it is not certain if it could be overcome.” 

“That’s just wrong!” Haruhi’s fury came out in her voice. “Your skill and moral code has absolutely nothing to do with your sexual orientation!” 

“Historically, homosexuality was a common practice among both foot soldiers and officers since there were obviously shortages of women in battle and there is never a shortage of the sexual need,” Kyouya said. 

“You’re right Kyo-chan, but as western influence has crept in over the last millennia, that fact was swept under the rug and, when it is acknowledged at all, it was twisted to be taught that only commoners practiced it, since officers would satisfy their carnal needs with geishas… and since only aristocracy could be officers, it ties back to the claims for so many years that commoners didn’t have enough of a moral code to achieve mastery.” 

“Wow. That is really just … wrong. On so many levels, actually.” Haruhi responded. “How can people remain so willfully deluded? Wait… nevermind, I know the answer to the question and it’s the reason I am studying law in the first place.” 

“Which is yet another reason why we love you Haru-chan,” Hani winked at her. 

Takashi looked over at Hani and a silent signal passed between them, “there is one more thing that you should know, ashke.” He caught her eyes in the rearview mirror for a brief moment before looking back to the road. “If you achieve your first level mastery rank today, you will be the first woman to do so. If you continue and achieve fifth level you will be the first, if not only, woman on the council.” 

Haruhi’s breath caught and she was stunned into silence. 

Kyouya tightened his arms around her in support, before asking, “But surely there are other women who have achieved Master ranks? You said there are several international schools. Surely they complete the testing and ranking process for their students. I can’t imagine that there aren’t women who have earned the rank.” 

“There are. Master Zhi’s wife is a third level Master in her own right, but she has earned that level through Master Zhi’s school, not through the council. He petitioned for her to be allowed to test for her mastery, but it was rejected. That’s why he is so supportive of this. If Haruhi as both a female and a commoner can prove her mastery, then he will repetition the council to allow Sakura to test, since a precedence will have been set.” 

“Why was Zhi’s request denied?” 

“Politics, mostly,” Hani sighed, “He is of common blood, even though he was ward of an aristocratic family. The family connection was enough to let him test for his Mastery, but the blood impurity meant at the time he didn’t have enough consequence to gain a majority vote of council members.” 

“I have to ask, and please know I mean no disrespect, but how much do I owe the Haninouzouka and Morinouzouka families for the honor of being allowed to test?” Haruhi asked. 

“I won’t deny that there was some family pull involved, but less than we expected. Our two families make up nearly one quarter of the council, and since you are Takashi’s and my first and chosen student, you were guaranteed support from them. Some of the older uncles were not thrilled that we chose to teach together rather than separately or that the fact that the student we chose was a woman, but they would not show that dissent publically by voting against it, though my dad and Takashi’s dad as heads of the families got an earful. Thankfully, both of them support us and have met and been charmed by you, so they stood fast against the protests. You will see them there today, since they are both on the Council as well.” Hani answered. 

“Master Zhi has been gaining a loyal following over the last few years by his devotion to the art and his humble straightforward nature. When he supported it, several other council members did as well,” Takashi continued. 

“It still wasn’t quite enough for a majority vote,” Hani hesitated for a moment, “There is no easy way to say this, so I will just say it. The rest of those that voted for your chance did so because they are expecting you to fail. If you test and don’t earn the title, they can continue to push that women don’t have the innate ability to become Masters and to a lesser extent commoners as well.” He paused and took a breath, “It will also cast discredit on Takashi and my teaching ability, which will make it harder for us to achieve our next mastery.” 

“Wow.” Haruhi was at a loss for words. 

“That’s a lot of pressure,” Kyouya said quietly, a hint of anger in his voice. 

“Ashke, do not let this bring you back to fear. Mitskune and I do not doubt your ability or our ability to teach you. If something should happen, you still qualify for Mastery in our school.” Takashi said, then seeing her shaking her head at his statement, realized where her thoughts were, “also do not worry about Mitskune or I not being able to achieve our next mastery. It would delay it a bit, but they cannot deny our skill and will not be able to deny our rank for long.” 

“It’s still a lot of pressure,” Kyouya repeated and glared at Hani who managed to look contrite. 

Haruhi tilted her head up and gave him a swift kiss. A look of determination was in her eyes. “It is pressure, I won’t deny it. But it’s exactly the kind of challenge that interests me and all three of you know it. I know Hani and Takashi wouldn’t have considered this, if they thought I wasn’t ready to take it on. I admit to nerves this morning and self-doubt, but Hani rightfully chastised me for it. I am ready. Now, I am even more determined to earn this. For them as well as for me.” 

“Anyone ever tell you, you’re sexy when you are fierce?” Kyouya grinned at her and pressed a kiss to her forehead. 

She smiled up at him, “only the people who know I love them too much to hurt them when they make sexist remarks like that.” 

“I think it’s just the Ootori charm.” 

Haruhi swatted Kyouya’s arm around her waist. Hani and Takashi grinned at each other and the mood in the Rover lightened considerably. 
 

 

*******************

The Land Rover pulled into the parking lot with the Aston right behind it. Tamaki and Hikaru got out and joined the others, while obviously continuing a conversation that had started in the car.

“I still say the musical is better than the movie adaption. It’s visceral and pure. The staging is done by professional singers and dancers, not just actors who can carry a tune and movie effects.” Tamaki said.

“But the rough and slightly unpolished nature of the actors’ voices lent an air of credibility to it compared to a more polished stage production. Plus the ability to have the audience see the expressions close up on the characters faces meant the emotion could be more intensely experienced. In a stage production it is harder to see the actors’ expressions, especially if your seats are on an upper balcony. And the costuming was amazing.” Hikaru countered.

“What are they arguing about?” Hani asked curiously to Haruhi.

“Les Miserables. The movie vs. the stage production,” Haruhi responded, stifling a grin. “It’s an argument that Hika and Kao get into all the time. It’s fun to watch it play out when there is time for them to really get into it.” She put two fingers in her mouth and whistled loudly, “Hey boys! Save the rest of the debate for when you are alone. We need to get inside and if you want to find a seat up close, you need to do that soon.”

Hikaru grinned at her, before sweeping her a bow and then pulling her in for a kiss. “Sorry love, you know how I feel on the subject.”

“I do.” She gave him a hug.

“But we can wait.” Tamaki said with a grin and twinkle in his eyes before giving her hand a polite and gallant kiss, since they were out in public. “Now it’s time to support you.” He pulled a banner from behind him. It read - Go HARUHI!! Kick Aikido Ass!!!

Haruhi groaned, “Tama… please tell me you aren’t intending to bring that inside?”

“Why not? I made it for you. I thought you would be happy,” He let a sheen of moisture fill his large violet puppy dog eyes.

It was Kyouya who pulled the banner from his hands, and bopped Tamaki over the head with it. “Stop it, Tamaki. You know that Haruhi doesn’t appreciate attention drawn to her like that.”

The moisture dried up immediately, which confirmed Haruhi’s guess that the Host king was faking it. Still he winked at her before turning back to Kyouya and saying in his most dramatic voice. “Our darling princess deserves every show of support we can give her.”

“I guess I should be happy you are referring to her as ‘our darling princess’ rather than ‘my darling daughter’,” Kyouya muttered, while the others tried not to laugh.

“I can’t be his daughter anymore since I slept with him, it would be too wrong even for his twisted mind,” Haruhi giggled, “But he still has to have a way to annoy you, Kyo-love.” She looked at her watch and gave a little eep. “Crap, we need to get in there, NOW, or I won’t have enough time to change and warm up before my testing begins.”

“Go love,” Kyouya kissed her, “Kick ass for us. I want to tell the world I am dating the first female Master.”

Hikaru looked oddly at Kyouya for his comment before shrugging as Kyouya mouthed “Later.” Turning to Haruhi, he pulled her into another hug and gave her a deep kiss before saying, “Rip them to pieces. I love you.”

Tamaki gave her a hug and a chaste kiss on the cheek before saying, “Good luck, princess.”

She smiled at all of them and said, “I love you all. Thank you for being here with me for this. It’s a good feeling to know I have a cheering section.” Before she could get caught up in any more conversation, she picked up her bag, slung it across her back and marched resolutely towards the building.

Hani and Takashi picked up their bags to follow, but Takashi turned back once more to say, “Thank you for sharing her with us. It means more than you know.”

“You’re welcome. Truly.” Kyouya said and gripped Takashi’s arm at the wrist as he did the same to Kyouya. “She is yours as well. Know that.” He smiled, “Now go change the world!”

   
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