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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45. The Path

Hani wolf-whistled as Haruhi, Renge, and Sakura walked back out of the restroom, “Haru-chan, you look great. I don’t know which you wear better – the House Zouka sash or those HDG boots!”

She laughed and winked at the group, “Thanks. I am kind of attached to both of them.”

“Ancestors save me from House Zouka’s flirty nature…” Zhi looked up to the sky and said with mock-seriousness.

“Ha! Like you have anything to complain about that!” Sakura poked her husband in the ribs.

“Not a bit,” Zhi grinned at his wife and slipped his arm around her. “I took the liberty of having your cars brought around to a side door to ease your escape, but there are paparazzi stationed at every exit including the roof. There is no clear way out and it looks like they are prepared to wait hours.”

Kyouya stepped forward, “Thank you that was very kind. I am now expecting to be accosted every time we step out until we plan an interview. We will just have to make do and push our way through as quickly as possible.”

“Good Luck!” Zhi said with sympathy as he led the way. “It’s always awkward being the focus of so much attention, especially when you aren’t used to it.”

“Most of us actually are used to some,” Tamaki said, “It’s Haruhi who hasn’t experienced it before and who we are trying to shield. But we know our princess; she won’t let them fluster her.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence Tama,” Haruhi replied. “I HAVE to get used to it, like it or not. I am not giving up the people in my life just because of a little camera time. I know you and Hika are going to be working on stuff this afternoon and evening for the Ball on Saturday night. If you could also send a message to your reporter friend, sometime today. I want to get the first interview over with, so we can hopefully have a break for a few days.”

“I will do that,” Tamaki answered with a grin in his eyes. What a sneaky way of deflecting the reality that Hikaru and I are supposed to be having a date this evening. Well… it wouldn’t hurt to kill two birds with one stone.

“Since I don’t know what’s waiting on the other side of the door and I know we will have to break for the cars quickly, I am going to say good-bye here,” Hikaru said and pulled Haruhi in for a kiss. He held her tightly, before saying, “I am so proud of you, my love… and so incredibly happy that you are mine. I love you.” He kissed her again quickly before whispering, “Have fun with Hani. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do… and everything I would! I expect to hear all the juicy details. I will see you later tonight. Also… make sure to tell Kyouya that it’s ok for him to have fun with Takashi. Otherwise I can see their afternoon being a chess match and discussion on the merits of Gothic verses Renaissance art in religious iconography.”

Haruhi giggled as Kyouya responded with a frown, “I happen to like chess and art history.”

Haruhi giggled a bit harder.

“That’s not what I meant and you know it, lover,” Hikaru grinned before pulling Kyouya into a swift kiss.

Kyouya smirked as he responded, “Have fun working on ‘things’ with Tamaki. Will we see you back at the house later?”

“Most likely,” Tamaki interjected. “As nice as the Bed & Breakfast was last night, I am looking forward to one of my own beds. I didn’t get much sleep last night.” The gleam in his eyes reminded Kyouya of just what the two of them were doing instead of sleeping. “Still… this afternoon going over ‘things’ (his voice betrayed the same ironic tone Kyouya’s had) with Hika will be interesting. There are definitely some details we need to work out.” Like how my budding relationship with his brother and his two lovers is going to work…

“I know that whatever happens, you will find the best way to deal with it,” Haruhi said with a smile at the thoughts she could read across Tamaki’s face.

“You get the feeling we are missing something here?” Zhi said to Sakura as he watched the conversations pass between the others.

“Just some details that need to be cleared up before the Grand Ball on Saturday,” Kaoru quickly interjected. “Speaking of which, we would love it if you both would be guests of HDG at the event. It’s going to be the event of the year, I promise.”

Sakura’s jaw dropped, “Oh my god… Are you serious?”

“Absolutely,” Hikaru grinned. “We like you both and, honestly, we can use all the allies we have.”

“We would be honored.” Zhi said with a little bow.

Renge whispered something in Kaoru’s ear. He nodded and gestured for her to continue.

“Since you are going, I am hoping you will do something for me…” Renge started to say, hesitation evident in her voice.

“Of course,” Sakura said with a smile. “What is it?”

“Well… Everyone knows HDG designs of course, but Yuzuha has taken me under her wing and with her and Kaoru’s guidance I have designed a couple of dresses. They are still HDG labeled, but I will be wearing one of my designs that night and I would be honored if you would wear another. Most of the models that night will be wearing Kao and Yuzuha’s designs.”

“I would LOVE to,” Sakura said and threw her arms around Renge in a hug. “Oh my… I am so excited!”

“Aaaand the Ouran Host Club gains another couple members,” Hani laughed. “OK… any more goodbyes or are we ready to make a break for it? We need to get Haruhi some real food before she passes out… and if she’s not hungry, she should be after that workout.”

“I’m starving,” Haruhi said with a grin. “Food please!” The rest of the group quickly gave each other hugs and discreet cheek kisses. “Let’s do this…”

Zhi pushed then held open the door with a grin and a wink. “Good Luck!” he murmured as they all rushed out into a sea of flashbulbs.
 

 

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

“Ms. Fujioka how does it feel to be the first female to get your Mastery?”

“Mitskune Haninozouka – How did you and Takashi Morinozouka decide to teach Miss Fujioka?”

“What is the relationship between the three of you and how do Kyouya Ootori and Hikaru Hitachiin fit into the equation?”

“How is your new Master status going to affect HDG? Are you going to become a model for the group?”

“How do you feel about joining House Zouka?”

The questions bombarded Haruhi and the boys as they tried to push through. Latching onto the last one Haruhi paused, took a deep breath and said in perfect French, “I am honored to be a member of the prestigious House Zouka. I hope to do my Masters and my House proud. I cannot speak to your other questions at this time, Kyouya, Hikaru and I will be giving an exclusive interview tomorrow and many of those questions will be answered. Now please, I just finished a rather tiring testing and I am in great need of food and rest. Will you let us through please?” She gave the media a very sweet and innocent smile.

“Who is going to interview you?” a voice shouted from the back.

Kyouya put his hand on Haruhi’s back and said with firmness, “You will find out on Thursday. Now please excuse us.” He took advantage of their confusion and curiosity as the tried to determine who would have gotten access to such an exclusive interview, to quickly push further and open the door to the Land Rover for Haruhi before hurrying across to get in on the other side.

Takashi and Hani also quickly entered the vehicle and watched with a sigh of relief as the rest of the group made it to their vehicles without being further harassed. “That was something else.”

“I’ll say,” Kyouya said as Takashi pulled onto the freeway. Once they were away he pulled Haruhi onto the seat next to him and looped his arms around her. He took a few moments to just breathe her in and let all of the worry from earlier dissipate. I need her in my arms for just a bit more… then I can let her go with Hani this evening.

Haruhi smiled up at Kyouya, “I really am ok, love. Though I should warn you, I have some pretty spectacular bruises. That last combo to the ribs and thigh was a doozy.”

“I know you can handle it, I just don’t like seeing you hurt.” Kyouya whispered.

“I am not made of glass, love. I will heal. I gained so much today for such a minimal thing as a few bruises,” she stretched and kissed his chin. “Besides… I am kind of proud of them. Today I felt like for the first time, I really could hold my own in anything the world threw at me. Don’t get me wrong – I know I had help, but that last test where I was partnered with someone I had just met… I was an equal. Maybe not in skill level, but I was just as important to the end result as Master Zhi was. Gods, does that even make any sense at all?”

“Perfectly, Haru-chan,” Hani replied from the front seat, while Takashi nodded. “Though I also understand why Kyo-chan was worried. We were too. It’s not fun watching the people you care about get hurt… at least not in that way.” He finished with a grin. “I can think of plenty of other times though… and let me tell you, sparring IS foreplay with the right partner.” He linked his fingers through Takashi’s.

Kyouya chuckled. “Um… yeah. I could see that actually. It’s definitely a turn-on to watch you two sparring. Though that may have more to do with bare chests, skin glistening with sweat, and heavy breathing.”

Hani laughed loudly, “It’s all a dominance game in the end. I thought you would appreciate that.” He threw Kyouya a wink. “One that I still want to play with you one of these nights. I honestly don’t know which of us would win. It’s been a long time since I have been able to say that.”

“Please let me watch that!” Haruhi said with a grin. She caught Takashi’s eyes in the rear view mirror as he nodded. “Actually, I can probably vouch for Hika, Tama, and Kao too. I know we all want to see that.”

Both Kyouya and Hani laughed. Kyouya’s arms tightened around her. “Well… there is always tomorrow night. Something tells me that Yuzuha’s idea of a photo shoot will be more intimate than the usual backdrop-pose-click.”

“You are probably right,” Haruhi said with a light laugh, “Yuzuha doesn’t know how to do anything simply. Everything is over the top and we all know she passed that on to Hika and Kao.”

“So where did Tamaki get it from?” Kyouya laughed. “But you are right. I don’t think any of us really understood simplicity when we first met you. Now it’s a luxury we crave even as we make things more complex.” A dark note started to creep into his voice.

Haruhi heard the tone and quickly stretched up to kiss it away. “No darkness here. Just light and love.” She deliberately switched topics. “So what are you and Takashi going to do this afternoon?”

“Well I was going to suggest a Museum and a bite to eat, but now Hika’s words are making me think twice,” Kyouya said with a grimace.

“I would like that actually,” Takashi answered catching Kyouya’s eyes in the rearview mirror. “There is a collection of Raphael’s works at the National Gallery or if you don’t mind doing something a bit more modern, I met an artist who specializes in glass when Haruhi, Mitskune and I went Christmas shopping. He has a gallery showing that ends this weekend.”

“I like that idea even better,” Kyouya responded. “Glass blowing as an art form is fascinating.”

The rest of the ride was spent in comfortable chatter and ideas for the afternoon.

 

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

By the time they reached the house, Haruhi’s stomach was grumbling loudly, much to her embarrassment and the guys’ amusement. So immediately after Kyouya and Takashi dropped them off, Hani asked, “I was thinking about taking a car and finding a restaurant or something, but you really do need to eat. What do you say to raiding the kitchen?”

“I say… I think I love you for suggesting it.” Haruhi laughed. “I was going to sneak in and find something to snack on even if we were going to go out. I can’t ever remember being quite this famished before.”

Hani lead the way into the kitchen as he replied. “There are a few things at work here. You just did a full routine and a full sparring session. Neither of which was easy and which you aren’t really used to doing back to back. Plus I am guessing that you probably didn’t eat much this morning due to nerves and not wanting to feel weighed down.”

“That about sums it up,” Haruhi smiled at him. She grabbed a handful of almonds from a bowl on the counter before ducking her head into the refrigerator. “Hmmm… the kitchen is fully stocked. What are you the mood for? I can make pretty much anything from what’s in here.”

Hani slipped up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, holding her tightly for a moment before pulling her back and placing her firmly on a stool next to the large prep table. He took notice of the slight wince she made as her bruised muscles twitched. “You aren’t going to make anything Haru-chan. You have done enough for the day. I may not be as skilled as you in the kitchen, but I know enough, especially about what your body needs to replenish itself right now.”

Haruhi stared at Hani in mild disbelief. This was not a side she had ever seen of either her friend or her Sensei.

“Also, I saw the wince. How bruised are you?” Hani asked as he pulled out several vegetables, noodles, and a couple of strip steaks and proceeded to start chopping them into smaller pieces.

“I am starting to turn colors on my ribs and thigh.” Haruhi responded. “But Sakura had some of the salve with her and gave me a good dose before we left the Arena.”

“Sakura would be prepared and she knows just what that salve can do.” Hani’s voice held approval. “But as hard as you worked your body, it’s going to need reapplying soon. Any other soreness or stiffness?”

“My upper back and neck are starting to feel a little sore and I think I may have pulled a muscle in my left thigh.”

“That sounds about right. Especially with that last combo Hiro Nakashimi threw at you and then that return lift combo you and Zhi did. I know we haven’t practiced it much, so your body wasn’t used to it, though it is flexible enough to adapt.” Hani continued while he tossed the steak and vegetables into a pan for a quick stir-fry and put the noodles into boiling water.

Haruhi’s mouth started to water from the smells and her stomach rumbled again.

Giggling, Hani handed her the bowl of almonds and she grabbed another handful. “Here, have a few more almonds. The stir-fry will be done in a couple more minutes. I have a suggestion if you are amenable to changing our afternoon and evening plans.”

“What is it?”

“Instead of going out somewhere, I think we should stay in.” Hani smiled. “Everyone else is gone so we are still alone… and even better… we have a hot tub and snacks readily available.”

“I like it!”

“Good, because a good soak and a good massage will help with the soreness. The salve will help with the bruising, but we still may have to use some make-up to cover you up for the photo shoot tomorrow.” Hani dished the stir-fry into two bowls, set one in front of her and the other on the place next to her before digging in the fridge for a couple of bottles of sparkling water. Setting those down as well he pulled up another stool and gestured for her to start eating.

“Oh my gods this is wonderful…” Haruhi said between mouthfuls as the tender steak balanced with the crunch of the vegetables and the softness of the noodles. “I had no idea you could cook.”

“I was always trying to sneak into the kitchens as a child to steal sweets. It would drive the head chef crazy. Finally his assistant cornered me one day and made me an offer. I could have a treat if I helped her prepare whatever meal they were working on.” Hani smiled as he reminisced fondly. “I was never given anything hard to do, but I enjoyed it. The kitchens always smelled wonderful. I was actually a bit disappointed that as I got older and devoted more time to my martial arts, I had less time to visit the kitchens.”

“That is such a great story and I can totally see you charming the assistant chef with your large blue eyes.” Haruhi laughed.

“She is still there, actually.” Hani giggled. “Whenever I visit home, I always sneak into the kitchens at least once. The basic cooking skill has come in handy since Takashi and I started University. We can always go to the dining hall, but our apartment on campus has a small kitchen. So if we are too tired to go out or just don’t want to socialize we can make something. Takashi also is a pretty good baker. For as much as I love cake, every time I try to make one it is always rock hard. Takashi makes one that is so light and fluffy it just melts in your mouth.”

“See… that’s something I never knew about either of you,” Haruhi said. “I am really glad we all decided to do this date night thing. I am learning so many new things about everyone.”

“It has been fun,” Hani smiled. Stacking her now empty plate on his, he took them both over to the sink. “So now that you have been fed… what do you say to relaxing in the Jacuzzi for a bit? It will help your muscles loosen, and then I will rub some more of that salve in.”

“I say that I am a very lucky girl and I feel like I am being spoiled tonight.” She caught Hani’s hand and squeezed.

“Weeeell… you are our princess, but more than that – tonight you are finally and forever a member of my House. I want to welcome you properly. You are already following House Zouka’s tradition and embracing love in its many forms. I want to show you one more…”

The desire lighting up his eyes made the butterflies flutter through Haruhi’s stomach. I have seen the look before, but there was always someone else around. At the moment it’s just Hani and me. Hikaru’s earlier command to enjoy herself flitted though her mind. She looked up to see Hani holding out his hand.

Smiling she took it and started laughing as Hani started running up the stairs to the Conservatory.

   
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