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. =)


65. Thrown Gauntlet

“…and it is with a heavy heart that I am asking for all upstanding business owners and the social elite to boycott the Fashion Week Grand Ball sponsored by Hitachiin Design Group. HDG’s loose and blatantly sexual business practices are an affront to all decent and hardworking people. It ensnares the unwary and turns them from conservative, studious, and principled individuals into debauched, depraved, and loose ones. As you know from recent publicity, my youngest son has recently succumbed to their indoctrination. It is my eternal hope that I will be able to extricate him from the web spun by an unorthodox family and a girl who has no status, questionable parental guidance, and who obviously is looking to better herself by trapping the son of a wealthy and powerful family.” 

Kyouya sat in the leather seat of the airplane frozen in shock and anger, which caused to Tamaki to quickly grab the remote and mute the volume on the screen as the news anchor cut to an interview with a reporter claiming to have insider information on the scandal. On either side of him, Haruhi and Hikaru sat equally silent. Haruhi had a death grip on his left hand and only Kyouya’s right hand on Hikaru’s leg and Kaoru kneeling in front of him kept the twin from jumping up and tearing through the cabin in rage. 

Not that Kaoru was faring much better in containing the emotions that were stewing, but both Hani’s and Tamaki’s hands on his shoulders calmed him enough to grit his teeth and say, “Forgive me Kyouya, but your father is a deranged egotistical asshole and should be shot.” 

“He is not my father,” Kyouya answered immediately with an edge of frost that none of the Host Club members had heard before and which sent shivers down Tamaki’s neck. “A father would never think of making such a public display to humiliate over what should be a private family matter. He is the donor of part of my genetic material, but he lost the right to be my father long ago. It just took me until last week to realize it and today to confirm it.” He took a deep calming breath and turned to look at both of his lovers. “Haru, Hika … I am so very very sorry that that … that… I can’t even think of a word vile enough to describe him.” 

“I can think of several ,” Hikaru muttered. He closed his eyes and tried to calm down. Opening them he looked at Kyouya, “it’s not your fault. But if I know mom, your fath- Yoshio is in for far more of a battle than he thinks he is going to get.” 

“Mom’s lawyers are formidable and Yoshio just slandered HDG on national TV,” Kaoru said with quiet venom. 

“That’s what I don’t understand,” Haruhi said quietly as everyone turned to look at her. “Yoshio is usually far too shrewd of a businessman to do something so overt and public. Kyouya’s disowning him must have rattled him more than we thought.” 

“How are you so calm, Haru-chan?” even Hani’s voice held anger. 

“I’m not,” Haruhi responded vehemently. “But if I want to be a lawyer and take on clients that are going to be fighting against others as misogynistic, egocentric, and power-hungry as Yoshio Ootori I need to find some way to lock down the anger. I didn’t think I would have to learn so quickly, but that is life.” She reached across to take Hikaru’s hand in her other one, never once relinquishing the hold she had on Kyouya’s. “Hika, Kao, do you think your mom would let me shadow her legal team? I know I can’t be involved directly, but I would like to observe.” 

“If for some reason she doesn’t you can shadow mine,” Kyouya said with steel in his voice. “I will not let Yoshio get away with this. I cut my ties and made my decision because of his egotism. He can try to make me out to be a lost, weak, pitiable boy in the media, but he seems to have forgotten what I can do. Maybe it is time to remind him of that fact.” 

“Here, here!” Hani chuckled. “You know that you have the support of House Zouka already, but we may be able to get a few more families on your side. There’s far more politicians that use Zouka security forces than Ootori and we already know that anyone in the Ootori forces that was trained by our House has quit. It may not seem like much, but when your protection detail suddenly disappears, you start to rethink your priorities.” 

“Wait a minute,” Tamaki said, “I get that you are all on board with taking Yoshio Ootori down, but what about the things that he said. Don’t they bother you at all?” 

Haruhi looked up at the blond Host King. “Tama, I’ve been accused of trying to rise above my station and ‘sink my claws’ into one of you poor rich boys, pretty much from the moment that it came out that I was a girl. I have learned not to let that bother me, since I know that none of you,” she waved her hand to indicate all of the Host Club, “think that of me that way. I am upset about Yoshio indicating that my father is a questionable parent, but again that doesn’t surprise me because we all know my father is non-traditional to say the least.” 

“Our family has also always been subject to behind our back whispers about our morals,” Kaoru said quietly, “’All those half naked women and men in risqué poses for ads or openly dressing and undressing backstage without regard for who might see.’ It was never anything that we paid attention to, because as much as the social elite might gossip and whisper, they were always first in line to buy our latest line. They are generally a bunch of hypocrites… so why pay any attention to what their mouth says, when their actions show they will continue to throw money at us as fast as they can. Actions speak louder than words, and I think Ootori is going to come to regret his… Mom is the absolute best at turning negative press into something positive.” 

“He also seems to have forgotten that it was his idea to push for a betrothal between Kyouya and Haruhi while they both were still at Ouran, which Ranka refused to consider,” Takashi stated quietly. “When that bit of information leaks out, his argument that Haruhi is only seeking wealth and her father’s guidance is questionable will be rendered inert.” 

“I had forgotten about that,” Tamaki replied. “It also goes to Yoshio’s character that he proposed that arrangement while Haruhi and I were dating. That alone could be used to illustrate his disregard for propriety and custom. I know it really pissed Dad off.” 

“Didn’t he also say that I was dead to him,” the thought coming surprisingly neutral from Kyouya’s lips. “If I was to be stricken from the family records, why is he suddenly reversing that statement and playing up the impression that I am a lost child he wants to welcome back into the fold?” 

“Because his little scripted press release did not draw him nearly as many sympathizers as he thought it would,” a disembodied voice said over their shoulders. 

Everyone looked up to see Yuzuha’s face on the screen they had been watching earlier. 

Yuzuha waved away the question that she could see forming on their lips. “My plane. I have the access commands to control the video screen and since you obviously didn’t hear or see the incoming video call message, I assumed that you had the volume down. So I initiated and accepted the call myself before turning up the volume. But that is neither here nor there, from what I could catch of your conversation, I take it you saw the press conference.” 

“Yes,” Kyouya replied, “I am-“

“Don’t you dare apologize to me Kyo-yoshi for the actions of Yoshio Ootori. They are his alone and they do not reflect on you at all. You are far more a moral and upstanding member of the community than your father is… and he is starting to understand that his reputation is less solid than he thought, thanks to some insider information that was accidently slipped into the hands of the board members at Ootori Enterprises.“ Yuzuha’s bland tone was belied by the smirk hovering around her lips. 

“What did you do, mother?” Hikaru asked. 

“Nothing yet, my sweet,” Yuzuha replied. “I had absolutely nothing to do with it, honestly! Yuzuru Suoh might have mentioned to one or two of the board members that are on his board that the mysterious KO Enterprises that purchased the floundering Ootori stock two years ago, made it profitable, and gave it back to the company was in fact a side project that Kyouya built in his spare time while still managing to obtain perfect grades at Ouran. That impressed them far more than the excuses regarding the mismanagement and misallocation of resources that Yoshio had stated were the cause of the decline in their stock prices.” 

“Trust Dad to slip that into conversation,” Tamaki grinned at Kyouya. “He probably also made it out to be some kind of extra credit project that highlighted your ambition and drive to succeed. That way it highlights your qualities while subtly reinforcing that Ouran Academy has the most elite students.” 

“You know your Dad well, Tamaki,” Yuzuha grinned. 

“What about the allegations that he is throwing out about Haruhi and HDG?” 

“We have our lawyers drawing up a slander lawsuit as we speak,” Yuzuha replied. “The plaintiff is noted as all of HDG including its employees and associates. Which coincidentally includes both Haruhi and Ranka, since Haruhi has technically been an in-house model for the twins for the last 2 years. Ranka’s official title is Executive Design Consultant and has been for a month prior to these slanderous allegations.” 

“I am confused,” Haruhi replied. “How am I considered an employee of HDG?” 

Kaoru looked at Hikaru and they both turned a faint pink. “You know all those make-over sessions and times we had you try on a bunch of our ideas?” At her nod he continued, “Technically, you were on HDG payroll all that time. Remember that disclosure agreement we had you sign?” 

“Vaguely… I thought it was just my promise that I wouldn’t leak any of the upcoming designs to the press.” She gave both the twins a concerned look. “You know that I never expected anything from you both either monetary or clothing-wise out of it, right? I did those sessions because you were my best friends.” 

Hika leaned over and kissed her cheek, “We know. We also know that even though we wanted to pay you for your time and effort, you wouldn’t have accepted it… So we put it everything you would have earned at an entry level model’s wages into a savings account with a decent interest yield. We figured that you could use it to offset any expenses for college and law school that your scholarships wouldn’t cover. It was going to be a graduation surprise, but this situation kind of spoiled that.” 

Haruhi had tears in her eyes as she pulled the twins into a hug. “Thank you. You don’t know how much that means to me.” 

They held her for a few minutes more before Yuzuha caught their attention again. “I don’t want to break this up, but I need to get back to finalizing the schedule for this evening. I just wanted to let you know that Renge and a car will be picking you up directly from the hangar. Airport security has assured me that no unauthorized press will be allowed inside the private hangar area, but they cannot prevent access to anyone who legitimately has a private plane or hangar space, so you may still run into a few people. I know at least one tabloid has a private jet, which means they might be able to ambush you. At this point, I would just respond ‘no comment’ to anything they ask. Renge has also been appointed as spokesperson for HDG and she will let them know that HDG will be holding a press conference with to respond to Yoshio Ootori’s comments tomorrow evening after the close of Fashion Week.” A fiery note crept into her voice, “we are not going to let the vultures affect the event this evening. If anything, they will be chomping at the bit for the press conference tomorrow after the Grand Ball plays out tonight.” 

“At least that gives us some time to prepare,” Kaoru commented. 

“Do you mind if I join you at the press conference?” Kyouya asked quietly. “I intend to file my own slander suit against my father, but I would like to show that I am united with HDG.” 

“I was hoping that you would be willing,” Yuzuha answered. “You may not technically be an employee of HDG but you are definitely a part of it.” 

“Thank you.” 

“All right, I am signing off. I will see all of you in about an hour. Like I said earlier, try not to fret too much over what Yoshio Ootori said at his press conference. We have far more ammunition than he is aware of and we have no reservations in using it. He seems to have forgotten that Fashion is a multi-trillion dollar business and HDG has a leading role… It is time to remind him.” 

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