Cheater! (Reader-Insert Version)
Author: HatedLove6
Content Rating: T-13
Published: 2016-11-06 11:41:06
Tags: ohshc, ouran high school host club, kyoya, reader-insert, reader, one-shot, romance


Summary:
All you wanted was that easel. Then some jerk tried to show off with his money, and you decided to teach him a lesson. Unfortunately, that "some jerk" turned out to be Kyoya Otori. How are you going to get out of this game unscathed?

Author´s Notes and Disclaimers:
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the series Ouran High School Host Club nor do I own the characters within the series which is owned by Bisco Hatori. The only thing I "own" is the creation of this fan fiction and my OCs which are not mentioned within Bisco Hatori's original works. This is the OC version, I have a Reader-Insert version of the same title also, if you'd like to read. This is the reader-insert version of the KyoyaxOC version of the same title, Cheater! This isn't a complete copy-paste job and only replacing the OC's name with an underscore. Instead, this is written in "your" point of view. I encourage you to read both versions, and would love to know which version you favor more.
Chapter 6
First Chapter | Previous Chapter


There has to be a way to get that woman fired.  Throwing your antique, hand-carved, easel made by your favorite wood-carver was the last straw, and you can’t take anymore of these “accidents.”  Sure, you could stand being locked outside your home gate for a few hours—you could draw or do your homework until she decided to let you in, which was always sometime before your parents came home.  You could also ignore the fact that she didn’t do her job when it concerned your matters such as making your breakfast, or dusting your room.  Actually, you preferred to clean your room yourself since there are things that you hold dearly and secretly.  It was that part of her job that had gotten you into this mess.

You had left your room for dinner, and she took that time to review your room to dust and straighten up, and saw your laptop screen.  She didn’t know anything about coding, but she had enough insight to connect the dots between the image of your father’s company icon, Akihiro Security Enterprise, and his recent and frequent grumblings that someone had hacked him, a hacker.  In layman’s terms, she knows that you were the one who had “stolen” some branches of your father’s security company, but to be honest, you prefer the term “borrowed.”  You did return it after all with new and improved additional features free of charge.  He shouldn’t even want to punish someone who had improved his work.

Naturally, she started blackmailing you.  She got to slack off and do whatever she wanted, along with extorting money from you, as long as she kept your secret away from your family, but all of these immature pranks started when she wanted be with your brother, who had a girlfriend and is now engaged, and you refused to help her.  Your brother is happy with whom he had chosen to be his future wife, and you weren’t about to disrupt that, even if your secret ended up exposed.  Unfortunately, she wanted to keep you in a tricky position and opted to torture you herself instead of letting your father do it.

He wouldn’t send you to jail, or press any charges, you are his daughter, and he even admitted that the improvements helped his company immensely, but he would keep urging you to join and take over his company someday, like he had done to your brother ever since he was born; however that’s not what you wanted.  More than anything, you wanted to become a graphic designer, designing websites or computer graphics for online games or movies.  Painting on a crisp canvas, what everyone knows you to do, is just one thing you love doing, especially if the power’s out (something that frequently happens as your father tests new security equipment).  As many prospects that your father’s company can offer, it’s just something that wouldn’t make you completely happy.  

You are too much of a people-pleaser and tend to let people, especially your dear family members, dictate your decisions, so if your father begged you, you probably wouldn’t be able to find any strength to refuse his request.  The thought of telling your father yourself and the risk of angering him, while rare, is also a frightening thing to experience, so you would much rather have someone else spill the beans than do it yourself.  Actually, there had been occasions where you had tried to tell him, but found yourself too scared to carry on.

So it’s either find the guts to tell your father, or let the maid keep torturing you, because there’s absolutely no way you would break your brother and his fiancé up and help that maid get him.  There is one thing you definitely know: whether she quits, or get mysteriously fired, she would most certainly tell your father that you are the hacker if either of those events happen.

“Hello, Mii-chan!” that infernal Tamaki Suoh yells, just barely registering through your headphones playing music, so thanks to that, you don’t jump or get startled as much as usual. 

Honestly, he shouldn’t scare you as much as he does, but he reminds you too much of that person.  Not the maid.  Your father has acquaintances all over the world, which leads frequent to trips out of Japan, which used to be no problem since you were home-schooled. You were eight, he was twelve.  At first he was nice, eccentric, and humorous with his flamboyantly royal personality, which you didn’t mind; however even at a young age you knew he wasn’t your type, but since your fathers shared an interest in merging their companies, marriage had become a casual conversation.  To make a long-story-short, the boy “proposed,” and you flatly turned him down with a static list of reasons why, and he didn’t take it well at all, and showed it by shoving you on the ground and forcibly kissing you.  It would have gotten uglier if your brother hadn’t have been calling for you.  The Spanish boy played it off as if he was only teasing before your brother found you, like it was a game, and no one considered his acts completely sinister.  Now, any male who was the flamboyant personality type sends violent shivers down your back.  Needless to say, every time you returned to Spain, you avoided him as much as possible, but he still found ways to hang out with you, and to keep proposing only to be turned down over and over.  And he kept invading your privacy when you were alone. 

You were more than happy to go to school, and stop your international travels—even if that meant meeting Tamaki Suoh.  After a full year, you know he’s not particularly dangerous, but he reminded you too much of that guy, and it has become more of a reflex to keep up your guard whenever you see him.  It’s too much of a hassle to keep the walls down for someone so energetic.  

Luckily, Tamaki isn’t alone.  Kyoya Otori has accompanied him.  Unlike Tamaki, he is much calmer and doesn’t regularly encourage you to participate in lively and frivolous activities.  

You had met him at a dinner party where his father had invited yours due to a successful business deal in which major hospitals the Otori family owned bought services from Akihiro Security Enterprises.  Since you two were the only people in your age group, you two were encouraged to talk and get to know each other, but it felt like it was too much pressure for you.  If you said something wrong, it could compromise the newly formed business deal, so that first night, you let him do all the talking, and to get him distracted further, so he wouldn’t notice your lack of participation in the art of conversation, you asked him to give you a tour of his home.  Later during the night, it became obvious that he had noticed, and regularly started asking you questions.  At first it was about your father’s company, but when he seemed to have gotten enough answers, the questions deviated to the rest of your family, and then eventually to you: what you liked, your favorite subject, where you had traveled to.  Simple answers seemed to be the best option because once you started talking about something that really interested you, there was no stopping your prattling, so you restrained yourself.  It didn't help that you thought he was rather good-looking.

After that, as your fathers grew closer, your relationship tentatively grew closer as well, but you weren’t sure if you could call each other friends.  It was more of an acquaintanceship.  Eventually, after you had been frightened out of your wits by Tamaki, Kyoya had seemed to become protective of you; albeit protecting you only from Tamaki, but, because of that, you had more opportunities to try and converse with Kyoya, and because of those many more opportunities, you got the chance to see him outside of his father’s pressure.  He was different than at the dinner parties.  It was subtle, but you could notice it right away, and you grew to like this side of him than the stoic business-obsessed side.  When the Host Club was brought up, as strange as it was, it seemed he enjoyed talking about the club and the other hosts.  It seems he finally made close friends that weren’t just business opportunities, and that’s what you wanted from Kyoya—to be not just a business opportunity, but how?

You press pause on your CD player and allow your headphones to hang around your neck in order to greet them.  “Is there anything you need?”

“We, the wonderful Host Club, would like you to paint our club portrait,” Tamaki says in his prince-like tone with his melodramatic poses.

“Um, why me?  Why not ask the Art Club?” you ask as you reach in your bag for a handkerchief to clean the pastel off of your fingers.    Drawing is always something you do at lunch.  Umehito likes to use this time to meditate or chant, and you don’t like to disturb him, and because of your lack of conversation skills and because you don't smile often enough, it seems that the other students had deemed you too uptight.  Not to mention that because your mother isn’t from a wealthy background, you aren’t at their level of class, so you’re often left alone or are ignored.

Tamaki tries to answer, but he doesn’t get the second word out before Kyoya elbows him in the ribs.  That was another thing that Kyoya didn’t normally do, and proof that he and Tamaki are good friends.

Kyoya smiles, but you recognize it as a “business” smile.  You two are not good friends, and you feel a tinge of disappointment.  “Your father had brought some of your paintings over at our house one evening to show off your talent in case there would be some interest while he was updating our alarms in one of our summer homes.  They are well done and we need a sort of an ‘inside-job’ done for us.”  

You look back at your hands and keep rubbing them.  “Because of all of your fangirls?”   

“Yes.  In fact almost all of the members within the Art Club consist of girls who come to the Host Club so we can't really depend on them, you see.”

“Oh, because of the whole favoritism thing?”

“Yes, exactly.  That would cause a bit of problems for our profit.”

“Okay.  Um, when do you need it?”  You look up to him in order to be more polite.  This is considered a business deal, and it would be rude to not make eye-contact when it concerns your dead-line and other such details. 

Tamaki suddenly bursts up from in front of your desk, startling you and making you drop your handkerchief.  “Anytime before the year is over is just fine, but we would like it as soon as possible.  You see, Mori and Honey will be graduating this year and we wanted the portrait of the very first and wonderful Host Club to be hung on the walls of the school so people will remember us in the future!”

It’s hard to recover from the scare, but you manage to clarify that you understand the timeline.  You refuse to look up at Tamaki.

“Oh thank you, Mii-chan!  Of course we’ll pay for all of your hard work and eff—.”

“It’s alright.  You don’t have to pay me,” you say.  This project will be done as a favor, for a friend.  Hopefully, this will get Kyoya to see it that way.  

“Eh?  You don’t want to be paid?”  Tamaki bends over the front of your desk to try and catch your face while you pretend to straighten out your sketchpad.  

“No.”

“We could at least buy you a new easel and a new canvas for the painting,” Kyoya offers.  “I had heard that your very rare and one of a kind easel had been damaged.”

You look up at him in surprise.  How did he know that?  “How…?  Never mind.”  Of course Kyoya would know.  He has several contacts he could ask, and, not to mention, that your father is quite talkative.  Your father was probably the blabber.  “Yes it is, but it’s OK.  I have five other easels and ten canvases already prepared.  All I really need is to take a photo of what you want me to paint.”  Besides, you already found another easel thanks to your online art enthusiast buddies, and had been keeping an eye on the auction.

“No need.”  Kyoya takes out a photo out of his jacket pocket and hands it to you.  “We already had a professional photographer take the picture.”  

In the picture, Mori is standing in the back with his usual straight face with only a hint of an amused smile.  Kyoya and Haruhi stand in front of him, but behind the ornate and cushioned chair that Tamaki is sitting in.  The twins, Kaoru and Hikaru are kneeling in front of the chair, and framing the previous four with one arm each, while their other arms are practically cradling Honey, the last Host Club member.  After the once-over, you tuck the photo in your sketchbook, careful to find a blank page so no drawing residue would transfer onto the photograph.

“OK, I’ll get started when I get home.”  You look at them with a business smile of your own.  “Um, Otori-san, can I have my handkerchief back?”

He hands you your handkerchief, and says, “Thank you for agreeing to paint the portrait, Akihiro-san.”

“No problem.”

Before Tamaki could do anything—he looked like he was prepared to tackle you—Kyoya gives his ear a sharp yank, and drags him out of the art room.

You take the photograph back out and look at it again.  Kyoya has his business smile on.  You wonder what he would look like if he actually laughed.  Oh well.  There will be other times.  For now, you'll just have to focus on impressing him with the painting . . . and winning that auction for the easel.

The next morning, the time is just about up, but you have played this game before.  You won't put down a price until the last possible second.  Luckily, the people betting are snoozers who are only looking for a cheap deal and set their price way below than what the easel is actually worth.  Yes, auctions are supposed to be a chance for people to get expensive things for the cheapest price, but it's also about competition.  In the cases of online auctioning, it's also about strategy.  However, with this particular auction, you won't need it.  The last price was laid out fifteen hours ago, and if no one had challenged that meager price, you would win easy with a hundred dollar raise on that price.

No, you're wrong. A few minutes before the auction is over, a person by the user K. O. places down a price a thousand dollars higher than the previous, probably trying to show off and lay claim to the easel.  People who show off with their money reminds you of your snobby peers and it makes you feel irritation.  As beautiful as the easel is, you aren't about to pay more than twice what it's worth; you're too careful with your money to just blow it all on an auction.  You are definitely going to teach this guy a lesson in the art of auctioneering . . . and hacking.  The odds of this person knowing advanced HTML and CSS coding is probably small, so the odds of the person knowing anything about hacking is dismal.  

Plus, you did hack your dad's company successfully without a trace.  

You quickly crack into the auction site database and find K. O.'s IP address and insert a CD with a program in it and send the virus to the person's PC.  The virus is simple and harmless whose only function is to slow down the screen.  If he memorized the screen layout, he could still put down the price, but the screen wouldn't show any cursor movement or the ticking of the clock, and while he's confused, you'll merely put down a dollar higher than his and win.  Hopefully that will teach him a lesson about grandstanding.  After you're sure you've won, you retrieved the virus and prepare to close the window that connected his PC with yours, but he's quick enough to send you a message.  You had underestimated this bub.

K.O.: I know who you are. I know that you are within the walls of Ouran High School. If you hand over the easel that you succeeded to get by the means of cheating, then I won’t send any means of authority to get you and arrest you for sending that virus.
Correction: you had grievously underestimated the person. Don't panic. Don't panic. There is no way for the person to know who you are because you have programs to reroute your IP address. It would take an expert at least a few hours to figure it all out. He's bluffing; he has to be. You run K. O.'s IP and found that he is also in Ouran High School. Your heart starts beating a little harder, and a little faster, a little scared of who the person could be, and if you would get into trouble if he catches you. After finding Ouran's list of students, you run the initials and only found a few people, but you only know of one person smart enough to send a message out to you this quickly. Kyoya Otori. You can close the window at any time and he would never find out it was you who had just hacked his laptop. Or you could take this chance and get to know him on a deeper level. Anonymity is a glorious thing where you could leave pretenses at the door. No one judging facial expressions, and not having to interpret the other's face. It is so much easier telling a stranger things than people you know after all. This is probably the only chance you'll get, but what if you get caught? His connections to the police force scares you. If he tells your father, that scares you even more. Just treat this like a game, and win at all costs.
o??o??o??o: Am I correct in assuming thAt you are Otori Kyoya? If you are, then you would have already Sent the authorities after me if you knew my identity. The Otori Kyoya I know wouldn’t stand for these Kinds of things. I apologize for the virus, but I had no choice. Don’t worry, the virus is easy to expel and it isn’t in effect any longer. The security that you have installed on your laptop will take care of it. I will again apologize for the mishap. Please do not try and pursue or contact me again. K.O.: You are correct in your assumptions. I am Kyoya Otori and I applaud you in your little performance so I’ll give you a deal. If you give me your name, and the easel, I won’t send the proper authorities after you. You won‘t be in any serious trouble if you agree.
Pfft. You won't be in any serious trouble? Not likely. If you get caught, you would most definitely be in deep trouble. No deal. Remember: in order to hook a guy in, entice him by stroking his ego and act submissive, even though you're superior.
o??o??o??o: I apologize, but I caNnot take that deal. I do trust your words, you are always honorable with them, but I don‘t want to willingly give up my idEntity. I’m sure that you enjoy challenges, and you seem Kind of bored at times, so here’s my proposal: let’s continue this game a little lOnger. I apologiZe if I’m making you frustrAted now. I’ll give you hints from time to time and I’ll let you know if you are correct or incorrect. However, there are rules. No viruses from either one of us, I give you my word. You can hack into the school network if you want because I can guarantee that you will need it at least once. You cannot ask me anything personal about myself (name, parents, hobbies, etc). The last rule is that this game is only played at school when both of us are present. If I don’t respond Within two to five minutes, then I haven’t received your message because it’s out of rAnge, which means I’m absent from school. It will give you another hint from the rosters. Now, are you willing to continue? K.O.: Okay, I’ll continue with this game. If I win, I get the easel, and you‘ll be my slave until I graduate college.
Wow, slavery? It's good he won't get the police involved.
o??o??o??o: And if you give up, my identity, for as far as you got, remains unknown. Deal? K. O.: Let the game begin. o??o??o??o: YoUr first hint is something you’ve probably already noticed about ME that is unusual. It’s my username. The numbers stand for my initials and my nickname. If you can figure out all of the possible combinations, tHen I’ll give you a freebee and tell you which 10 possibilities are my Initials. Don’T worry, the numbers are in order. I would normally give you twenty-four hours for an answer, but you’re smart, so I’ll give you until lunch. NO random guessing; I’ll know. Have fun.
In place of the question marks are three numbers that stand for the first initial of your first, nickname, and last name. Years ago, while trying to come up with a handle that no one would figure out, you had been hanging out with your third cousin twice removed, Nekozawa Umehito, and he had brought up the subject of Pythagorean numerology, in which the letters of the English alphabet was lined up under the numbers one through nine, and about having to add up the digits if there were more than one. Genius. No one would be able to figure it out on their own. That's why you just gave Kyoya a hint. Within the above messages, you capitalized letters that spell out “Ask Nekozawa Umehito.” It's risky. You're related and friends with him; therefore you would be suspect number one, but if Kyoya didn't figure out your initials, he would lose, and you wouldn't be able to talk with him anymore. If he figures out you're the hacker, you lose, and he would probably forever look down to the end of his nose at you, closing any hope that you and he would become more than just acquaintances or business partners. So, before he loses, or before you're caught, you send messages, trying to entice him in casual conversation.
o??o??o??o: Just wondering, why do you help with that host club if you aren’t that interested in the girls? Are you only there for profit? K. O.: I thought you said not to ask questions about ourselves; plus I’m busy trying to figure out your lame hint.
Good. He's making fun of you, which means he's at least somewhat relaxed.
o??o??o??o: Reread all of the messages. I only said not to ask me questions. I never said that I couldn’t ask you any questions. Loosen up a bit, will you? I can feel your tension all the way from here. You better hurry, time’s running out.
A few minutes later, he figures out the subliminal message, and as much as you would love to continue to chat with him, you're teacher is starting to stare at you, making you quite uncomfortable. As soon as the bell rings, you race towards Nekozawa's class to warn him not to tell Kyoya too much; to just explain the numerology and not mention that the username is yours. Or that you're involved in any way. As soon as Nekozawa sees you, his eyes glitter and engages you in a heavy conversation of whatever new thing he had learned that concerns his club, and you just couldn't find the room to interrupt him. Damn your eagerness to please people. You nod and smile, waiting for the opportune moment to get in a word about your immediate situation, but you don't have enough time. Kyoya calls for Nekozawa's attention. Crud. “Hello, Otori-san. What can I do you for? Another favor for the Host Club?” Nekozawa asks. “I would like to talk to you in private. I need a bit of help with something.” “Ah, OK.” He turns to you and quietly utters, “I’ll see you later at the club room?” You smile and nod as you wave and leave for your next class, afraid to say a single word in fear that the sound of your voice would give away your rattling nerves. Kyoya's smile doesn't help ease them. It seems all you can do is hope that your cousin understands the situation on his own. You would definitely have to interrogate him later in his club. Your next class is a bore, so you wait for Kyoya's message with your pre-typed reply of congratulations, knowing that he would figure it all out before the time limit. And he does. You see the text box open right before the bell rings, and indeed he had figured out the list of letter combinations. When you spy your initials, you feel a shiver run up and down your spine. He has gotten closer to you. He saw you with Nekozawa, and the subliminal message specifically told him to ask him. Does he suspect you? Is he just playing along until he could garner substantial proof?
o??o??o??o: You are correct. Well done and just in the nick of time. Are you going to answer my question from before? I realize you purposely skipped it, but it’s still a safe question, right?K. O.: Are you going to give me the 10 initials?
Should you tell him the truth and slip your actual initials in with the mix? Or should you cheat and give him ten fake initials? No. You have to keep your word. If you cheat now, you would never live with yourself. Along with the ten initials, you try to throw in a bit of humor.
K. O.: You’re getting overconfident of yourself, you know that, right? So what other plans, do you have for this little charade?
You reread your previous message, and it did seem a bit cocky. Maybe that's a good thing. If you act relaxed, act as if you have nothing to hide, he would underestimate you. The beauty of anonymity is that he doesn't have to know you are absolutely freaking out.
o??o??o??o: Sorry, do I seem overconfident? I’m just having a bit of fun. And as for the plan, I’m just making it up as I go along really. At least you’re not bored, right? I can just imagine you sitting in class looking over your profit margins that you’ve already looked at thousands of times while the teacher drones on and on about something that you‘ve already gotten ahead in. Even when girls surround your table at lunch, you seem very distant from them. I can bet you put on that same face in the club too, with that same fake smile, but they’re too infatuated with your good looks and family background to really notice that that‘s what that is. A fake. So, let’s just take our time with this game, or are you planning to give that easel to someone in a hurry?
And you have to keep reminding yourself: this is just supposed to be a game. Play the game, get to know him through the land of no-faces, win the game, and close all the windows and doors. End it without any chances of him opening the entrances back up.
K. O.: You must be quite bored too, to actually want to continue this, even though your identity’s on the line. So why don’t you want me to know your name? o??o??o??o: Well, all I can really say is that if a certain someone knew that I was having some form of personal contact with the Kyoya Otori, son of the great Otori family, she’d get mad. Not that I think you would rat me out or anything, I just want to be on the safe side of things. K. O.: ‘She?’ A fan-girl of mine? o??o??o??o: I wish, but no. My mother. She’s a little iffy about your family. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that if she doesn’t get to know someone first, she automatically doesn’t trust them. There are other reasons, of course, but I don’t feel like divulging in them. K. O.: After you told me not to ask about your family, you go and tell me about your mother?
Aw crud!
o??o??o??o: That was a mistake on my part. Oh well, it can’t be taken back now. It’s not as if you’ve ever personally met my mother anyway. I’m going to have to end this for today. I’m a little behind on homework next period so I’m going to try and get that finished this lunch period. Talk to you tomorrow.
It really is a good thing that Kyoya had never met your mother.
K. O.: Running? Fine. It’ll just give me time to cross-reference the initials and the student list. o??o??o??o: That’s great, after you’re finished with the cross-referencing, it’ll get really interesting, but no, I really do have homework to do. It’s distracting at home so I wake up very early and end up doing homework here at school between periods and during class. But you can believe what you want if you feel that self-ego needs that much petting.
Remember: the best way to distract a guy is to aim for his pride and hit it hard. If he doesn't know who you are, he'll be too busy searching for you to recognize your errors face to face, and if he does know who you are, he'll probably make the mistake of letting his knowledge slip, giving you enough of an incentive to close the doors and feign innocent until you're taken to court. And you would continue to feign your innocence until he has proof. For the rest of the day you plan your next set of moves for every situation you can think of. You hadn't realized that Kyoya was actually pretty adept when it came to computers, but if he was a true expert, you think he would have let you know by now. Still. It's risky. What if he was playing you? Anonymity sucks when you can't predict the other's moves. You have to find out what he's thinking somehow. What does he look like when he's replying to your messages? Once the last bell rings, you receive a text from your cousin:
From: Umehito Nekozawa Subject: Remember to come by the club today for the portrait. There's also something I wish to ask you.
Crud. What is with today? All you wanted was that easel, which involved teaching some guy a lesson. Unfortunately, that “some guy” turned out to be Kyoya, and now your cousin is going to tease you to no end in sight. This day could not get any worse. You quickly head to the Black Magic Club, and aren't surprised to be greeted by your cousin with a wider grin than usual with his hand puppet, Beelzenef, making more menacing gestures than what was normal. He croons your name, extending the syllables in a teasing manner. “Is there something you're not telling me? Perhaps, something involving a certain someone who came to see me after you paid me an unexpected visit?” “What did you tell him?” He chuckles. “Don't worry. I didn't tell him a thing. I just gave him a book to read.” “Are you sure you didn't say anything unnecessary?” You give him your best glare, but it doesn't seem to phase him at all. “I mentioned your birthday, and your astrological sign, but I'm sure it went right over his head. He doesn't seem to have any interest in the astrological personality tendencies, and if he did know the basics of each sign, you are obviously much more complicated than what he probably assumes you to be.” “You what? Why? I could have just played that part off as if I was asking you for a divination reading, but now he knows we're connected. I am now the number one suspect! I can't! I have to think of a way of throwing him off my trail.” “Yes, yes, yes, you can figure it all out later, but right now you owe me and I would like that portrait finished today.” There's no way you're getting out of it, and there's no way any of your lecturing will get through to him. He is right though. You have time to think of a way to deceive Kyoya into suspecting someone else. It'll be hard, but if you're clever enough, you'll find a way. Somehow. At least you won't see him for the rest of the day. By the time you're finished with the portrait, he'll be at home. Besides, painting has a meditative affect on you, calming you down, and forcing your panic away. It reinforces the distance between you and your problems, but only until it's finally finished. “I'm done, Ume-kun,” you whisper. The quiet atmosphere was too nice to ruin it with a louder voice, and, besides that, you didn't want to accidentally interrupt him just in case he was meditating or performing some sort of spell. You look around the room and see Kyoya and Haruhi sitting on the couch, causing you to jump from your seat, startled, and not prepared to see him so soon. “Ah!—Hello, Fujioka-san, Otori-san. You startled me. Is there anything that you needed?” you ask far too quickly to seem innocent. You're as guilty as a cat with the tail end of a fish hanging out of your mouth. They both stand from the couch. Kyoya looks at you directly, and answers. “Tamaki wants to see you today, so Haruhi and I thought that we should come and get you before he—.” There's a loud bang from the door opening suddenly. You look to see your second-worse nightmare, Tamaki. He spies you and starts running. “Mii-chan! I shall rescue you from—!” Luckily for you, he trips over the rug with a breathy grunt. Nekozawa arrives from the shadow after hearing all of the commotion and sees Tamaki face-down on the floor. “Suoh-san? What are you doi—?” Nekozawa asks, before he is illuminated by the twins’ flashlights. In which case, Nekozawa starts running to a safe, dark, corner, screaming out, “Murderer!” During all of the confusion, Kyoya grabs your hand along with your backpack and leads you out of the clubroom, with Haruhi flanking your back. Once out in the light, you hear cheering. “Yay! We rescued you!” It's Honey holding his stuffed bunny, standing alongside Mori. He looks at you with bright eyes and a gaping smile. “Tama-chan said that we should welcome you while they fight the demon!” 'Demon'? Nekozawa? Oh dear. “Hey, hey! Now that you're rescued, do you wanna eat some cake with me and Usa-chan and Takashi?” This is bad. Kyoya surely suspects you, and you aren't prepared to make any sort of defense or counter offenses. “I’m sorry, Haninosuke-sempai. I only stayed to help Ume-kun. I was planning on working on the Host Club’s portrait as soon as I got home. I’m sorry.” Wait. This could be an opportunity for you to take. Besides, Honey looks so disappointed, and your people-pleasing self can't hold out for much longer. “Umm, well, maybe I could join you for lunch tomorrow?” You look to Kyoya to see if he would let you, and to see if he would also be joining the two seniors. He nods. Perfect. “Yay! She’s joining us tomorrow!” Honey whirled in a circle with his bunny plush. “OK, Takashi and I will see you tomorrow!” He waves as Mori and he walk off to their car to head home. “I suggest we head home too before Tamaki comes out from his ‘rescue mission,’” Kyoya says. “Agreed,” Haruhi says curtly, before walking off. You would also like to go home in order to avoid Tamaki, but you can't help but be worried for Nekozawa. Should you hide and wait for him? Nah. Kyoya “rescued” you, so he would probably tease you about it if you stayed. He's teased you enough today. Let him deal with them on his own. You walk also, catching up with Kyoya, who still has your bag. “Would you like a ride?” he asks, handing you your bag back. Is this a test? Is he wondering if you'll run away? If you do run away from his offer, it will most certainly seem suspicious. “Yes, please,” you say, hoping your smile will say 'I-swear-I'm-innocent-and-am-not-hiding-anything.' “Thank you for offering. Let me just call the driver to cancel, and Ume-kun to make sure he’s really OK.” By the time you've finished canceling your driver, you're sitting in the middle seat of Kyoya's family car, with Kyoya right next to you with his laptop open. From the corner of your eye, you see that he's checking the Host Club's website. Now to call Nekozawa. It takes him a few rings to answer, and when he does, you can hear him panting and wheezing. “Hello? Where are you?” “I'm on my way home. Are you OK?” “Barely. Tell me, are you with Otori-san right now?” You peak at said person, and he's still looking down at his screen. Stay normal. That's all you have to do. Stay. Normal. “He offered me a ride home, yes.” “Oh, so you ditched me with those devils and their illuminating objects of cursed murder so you can go philandering off with your crush. Thank you.” Just to tick him off, you produce a royal, “You're welcome.” It's not like you are flirting, so there was no need for the “philandering” lecture, you just need to make sure that you don't seem like a suspicious person to Kyoya. This is a dangerous game you're playing, and it needs to finish before you can even consider how best to interact with him. “If it ever just so happens that you two get married, I will spike your drink with aphrodisiacs so potent that—.” Oh my god! You grumble your quick good-bye and snap your phone closed. Can your face get any redder? “Everything alright?” Kyoya asks. Quick, make an excuse! “Yes. He started to ramble on about cursing Suoh-san; it was about to get graphic.” Good. Now change the subject. “What are you doing?” “Host Club margins, but it can wait.” He closes his laptop, and tilts his head in your direction. You're not sure if you succeeded, but he seems to be relaxed. “Tamaki and I didn't see you at your usual table. He wanted to know how the portrait was coming along.” “It’s only been a day. I’m not even close to finishing it.” “That’s what I told Tamaki. By the way, he wanted to invite you to sit at our table as an ‘honorary guest‘ until the portrait is done.” Tamaki's wild antics are certainly amusing, and just picturing him saying that you're an honorary guest makes you chuckle. “Yeah, it is like him, but I‘m sorry to say that I‘ll be busy for a few days at lunch. Tomorrow is my only spare lunch time.” “What are you going to be busy with?” His tone sinks a couple octaves. “Studying mostly. I’ve been getting a little behind on some subjects.” Would asking him about Nekozawa be wise? Would it do more harm than good? Well, it was something to talk about, because carrying a conversation is hard. “By the way, if I may ask, what did you want with Ume-kun earlier?” Maybe if you play dumb it'll work. “Nothing much. I just needed to ask him something.” “Ah.” It's hard to tell where you stand with him. “If you want, I could help you after school.” Good. The conversation has steered away from Nekozawa. It was probably a bad idea to bring him up in the first place. “No thank you, I can manage on my own. You’re probably already busy with the Host Club anyway.” His eyebrow twitches. “Actually, yeah, you’re right. I‘m probably going to be pretty busy.” You can't help but smile because you know for a while he'll be focusing on 'capturing' you. This will probably be as close as you'll ever get to him, but it's fine as long as you have some sort of unique relationship that he doesn't have with any other person. Does this make you selfish? He doesn't seem to have any qualms about not continuing the conversation, so you let the silence linger also. It's fine now, and it's actually quite relaxing being near someone, but not having to talk. Soon enough, you arrive at your house and say your good-byes. You spend the rest of the night planning and preparing for lunch the next day, including rerouting the easel to the Otori's residence.
Once you and Kyoya detect each other's signals the next morning, you continue where you had left off.
o??o??o??o: Are you ever going to answer my question from yesterday? K. O.: What question? o??o??o??o: Why are you in the Host Club if you don’t seem to be interested in the girls? Are you there only for profit? K. O.: I’m in the Host Club, yes, for profit. Maybe to you I seem to be uninterested in the girls, but I am interested, just in my own way. This is a business, after all. Why I am in the Host Club as a host, however, is none of your concern. o??o??o??o: Business I understand, but there’s another reason?
After that, it becomes apparent that he's not going to answer the question, but you still hold a conversation. What is it about the Host Club that makes his eyes shine and smile that certain way? As soon as the lunch bell rings, you stop answering him, making an excuse that you're behind in the next class, but in actuality you have a seat and a slice of cake reserved for you with Honey. Unfortunately, Tamaki is also there. “Mii-chan, you've come at last! I was so worried. That devil didn't do anything to you did he?” As he is about to hug you, you hide behind Haruhi with your sketchpad up, and you also feel Mori's large steady hand on your shoulder. You're in good hands. Honey soon grasps onto your hand and leads you to a seat between himself and Kyoya. It'll be difficult to fool him, but it isn't impossible. It's now or never. If you don't take this chance of throwing him off your trail, there may not be another chance. While you take out your phone and send a message from under the tablecloth, you converse with Honey. Not much, but enough.
o??o??o??o: Are you really not interested in girls, or is it that you have a specific girl in mind? K. O.: I don’t like any girl specifically. I thought you were too busy. o??o??o??o: There‘s going to be a sub for a few days, and you sitting with some girl is far more interesting at the moment. That never happens. Does she mean anything to you?
Kyoya bolts up from his chair, nearly tipping it over, and looks around the entire room, missing you entirely. His eyes are wide and his jaws are clenched. You hadn't meant to make him mad, but you need to push him further. “Otori-kun, are you alright?” you ask. You send another message. “I'm fine,” he mutters and sits back down when his laptop pings.
o??o??o??o: Ooh, touchy aren’t we? Make sure not to worry your darling girlfriend there or else she’ll find out what we’re up to and the game will be over. You’ll lose. K. O.: She is just a girl, that’s all. She’s not my girlfriend. Where are you? o??o??o??o: Close enough to see what’s going on. So if she’s not your girlfriend, what is she to you? You even gave her a ride home yesterday. That’s not something you would do for just any girl either. K. O.: How long have you been stalking me? o??o??o??o: “Stalking”? Believe it or not, I’m not a stalker, you’re just quite noticeable, and apparently easy to wind up. I find it intriguing on how many personas you carry around. You’re not that hard to figure out. I can feel your frustration from over here. How about another hint to ease your torment? Of course, if you take the hint now, I won’t give you another freebie. Three hints are my maximum, but here I thought that you would be able to figure me out with only one hint. I guess two is alright, but I expected a lot more from you. K. O.: No hints. No freebies. I can figure you out. o??o??o??o: I know you can, and that’s why I’ve decided to add a deadline to this game of ours. You only have one more week.
Kyoya tenses up, with his fury flaring, and growling as he types in his reply. Honey decides to move to the other side of the table and sit on Mori's lap. You also change seats to the other side, next to Mori and Honey, which makes it easier to hide your phone. The table is so focused on Kyoya, no one notices that you're texting and looking down at the screen.
K. O.: You can’t keep adding rules. o??o??o??o: It’s my game, and this just makes it more challenging and fun, don’t you think? Besides, it’s daunting to think that this game could last well after graduation. I think this time limit will be a good motivator. I’m not messaging you like this for a romantic date after all. K. O.: I’ll find out who you are, but I don’t need a week. Three days will be plenty of time.
Three days? That's such a short amount of time. It'll be close, but if you planned as well as you think you have, it should be just enough time to close and lock the door in his face. He has to lose, and you need to keep your identity a secret. The easel should be arriving at his home any day now.
o??o??o??o: Three days it is then. Good luck! And by the way, tell Akihiro-san I said hi, will you?
He slams his laptop closed. You can't look at him, and even go to lengths to hide your face behind your sketchpad because you're unable to hide your smirk. Kyoya is officially off of your trail. All that's left is to end the game. Just three more days. Later that day, he offers you a ride. It's a good opportunity to observe the aftermath, to make absolutely sure he no longer suspects you, so you don't refuse. Other than polite pleasantries, he doesn't say a word. You're nothing but confident, even when you arrive late to school the next day because your brother just could not leave his fiancé alone. Even though you did add your initials to the list, and even if he cross-references the school's students and staff, you doubt that you would be on Kyoya's mind. What you don't expect is for him to join you in the art room at lunch. You don't refuse to let him join you, but it's still quite unusual. Like the car rides, there's no conversation. It's just you two in the room, doing whatever it is you are doing in each other's company. In this case, you're studying and doing homework, and it looks as though he's doing the same. When you are working on the same subject, he moves his desk next to yours and works with you. You can feel the butterflies in your stomach and your face flush. Maybe you feel a little guilty; after all, you sort of threatened him, and now he's spending personal time with you, but that is an unexpected result. You didn't plan for this to happen, so you have nothing to feel guilty about. Besides, after the game is over, he'll probably leave you alone again, so you may as well savor it while it lasts. Just savor it.
“You're giving me a ride home again, Otori-kun?” For the third day in a row, Kyoya has offered to give you a ride home after he had caught you outside of the art room after school. The other students had left, leaving you behind to finish off some rough sketches, so it isn't as if it's public, but it isn't private either. This could rouse some suspicions from other people if they know about the car rides. Kyoya smiles though, as if he doesn't care about his reputation as a host. “Yes, I would like to give you a ride home, if that’s OK with you.” No matter what, you can't let the opportunity to observe or talk with him escape. “Oh, thank you. I thought I would have to wait for my brother for a ride. Let me just send him a quick text to let him know that I have a ride, OK?” Since your brother is subbing for a teacher, he's supposed to give you a ride, but you text him that a mere friend is giving you a ride. He can't know that the “friend” is Kyoya Otori. A male. A rather good-looking male that you may or may not have a little crush on. Let him assume that your friend is of the female variety. After a few minutes you receive a reply, giving you the OK. “My brother says it's OK.” “Really? I’m a little surprised. He’s usually very protective of you, isn’t he?” Your brother may not know about the Spanish boy, but he is extremely protective of you nonetheless. “Well, I merely told him that a friend is giving me a ride. I didn’t mention your name, or your gender, and he didn’t ask. Is that OK? That I said that we’re friends?” Maybe calling Kyoya a friend is too presumptuous. He smiles again. Even if it's a business smile, it's hard to keep the blush down. “Yes, that's OK. I don't mind. Shall we?” You agree with a nod. Again, you sit in the middle with him next to you, but it isn't so relaxed. Maybe you had went too far with the threat. “Are you OK, Otori-kun? You haven‘t been looking too well.” “I just haven’t been sleeping well, that’s all. It’s nothing for you to concern yourself over.” He's not happy, so your heart sinks. It's best if the game ends as soon as possible. “Has anything been going on with you? Anything strange lately?” “‘Strange’? What do you mean by strange?” you ask, feigning innocent. “Just anything out of the ordinary, I guess.” “Um, does you giving me rides so often count as strange?” You make sure to smile, showing that you're trying to be humorous, even when you don't want to. He gives you a light glare, a first, but quite stunning to see. “No.” Kyoya should be getting the easel today, along with the message: Game over. As soon as you get home, you'll close your account on that auctioning site, and erase any data left behind on that site, as well as close the message window. Of course you'll still watch over his laptop activities just in case, thanks to knowing his IP address, but hopefully he'll get the hint and just give up. It doesn't sound like something Kyoya would do, but all you can do is hope. This game is getting to be too much for both you as well as him.
The next morning, you're viewing Kyoya's activity through your own screen, viewing each keystroke he hits. He's trying to send you a message, but it's blocked. He'll be getting a fake error message each time he tries to send you a message.
K. O.: Just because you returned the easel does not make this game over, you damn coward! Tell me why.
Ah, so he has received the easel, and he's angry. That's not surprising. He tries once more, but after the error message pops up again, he quits. In between classes you continue to monitor what he does, but it's what you feared. He won't give up. Kyoya digs into cross-referencing the initials with the school's roster. You may suspect which people are on his list, but you're not Kyoya. He won't have that list written or typed up somewhere, so you could still be on that mental list. Next he searches the auction site with no luck. Then he uses a search engine and looks up your handle along with other variations of the same numbers. Crud. He finds your father's five-year-old “wanted ad” describing your trick to his company. Kyoya invents an email. You suspect that he's going to send your father an email, which is the absolute last thing you want to happen, especially if he knows if that's your handle. Maybe you're father is too busy to check his email. In which case you could just hack into your father's email account and delete it, but Kyoya's subject line is too tempting to let it just sit: your handle. This is bad. Your father responds almost immediately, and Kyoya responds just as fervently with more pieces of proof. You dig through your bag for your programs encrypted on CDs for emergencies such as this, but you can only find the CDs with a patch job. It won't solve the problem (which, at this point, you are desperate enough to blow up his computer if you could only find that certain CD), but it should give you some time so you can find the CD. As Kyoya is typing up another email to add to the conversation, along with attaching screenshots of your conversations, you feel the horror creep into you as you see the syllables of your name typed on the screen. He knows! Where is that CD? At the moment, you can't find the right CD, but you do find one that could stall him for a while. All it would do is prevent the email from being sent, and you would have to keep resending the program every time he would try to send it, but it would buy you time until you found the right program to use. Blowing up his laptop would be your last option since you really didn't want to stoop to destroying someone else's property, but the option will still be on the table. You'll just buy him a new laptop if it comes down to it. Just in time, you send the patch program just before he hit the send button. A fake error message pops up on his screen. He tries again, only for it to pop up again. You think he'll give up and try again from a different approach like the last time, but he keeps trying to hit the send button, and you have to keep resending the program. What is he doing? Why doesn't he just do something different? Wait. Can he track you through the program you're using? Oh, crud nuggets! Where is that CD? You flip the pages of your CD binder as you keep resending the patch program until finally you find a CD. It isn't the CD you wanted, but it will make his laptop freeze, which is just as good until he simply turns it off, and then turns it back on again. The point is, that it will give you more than enough time until you find the more appropriate CD—other than the program that will make his laptop into a giant fireworks display. The door to the classroom you're hiding in slams open, startling you enough to bolt out of your chair. In your flight or fight, you're looking for a quick exit before actually looking at who slammed the door open, but in your hesitation, the instinct to run turns off. Kyoya slammed the door. He found you. Of course. He knows you're the one who hacked him, so of course he would confront you face to face sooner or later. It's strange though. Kyoya looks almost confused. “Akihiro-san? You're the hacker?” What's that supposed to mean? He put your name in the email to send to your father, so why would he doubt his own conclusion? Still, there's something you have to find out. “How did you know it was me?” “I didn't.” “But the email . . . you put my name in the email.” “I was trying to draw your brother out.” Your brother? He's just a science substitute teacher. Yes, he's advanced in computer technology, but only just enough. There's no way he could have replicated what you had done. But Kyoya didn't know that. You had seen Kyoya look up your brother's information, so you knew that he was a suspect. Only stupid people let their panic rule their actions, and looking back on it, all of the stupid risks and stupid moves you made, you can't help but let out bursts of giggles. Those giggles quickly become loud rounds of guffaws, and even Kyoya joins in a little with his own chuckles. In between your fits of laughter, as if trying to explain why you're laughing, you say, “If I hadn’t have panicked . . . you would have never found out. I could have won!” “If you hadn’t have cheated by returning the easel, and ending the game early, I wouldn’t have felt the need to hurry. I would have happily assumed it was your brother, searched his equipment and found him innocent of all charges, leaving you in the wind.” You calm down enough to be able to speak regularly again. “I thought you had suspected me, even after I tried throwing you off my trail.” “I never suspected you from the beginning. You had been completely off my radar.” That makes you start giggling again. So there had been no need to do anything at all. As far as Kyoya had been concerned, you weren't even on the board. “I can't believe this.” If only you hadn't have panicked, you would have realized that Kyoya merely thought of you as an “art freak,” as the twins enjoyed calling you, and probably assumed you had little to no knowledge of computers, so wouldn't have needed to go to such lengths to disprove your guilt. It's too late to learn from that mistake now. So what does Kyoya want now? What is he entitled to as a reward for beating you at your own game (that you cheated at). “So, what was my punishment? Your slave until college graduation, was it?” He walks closer to the desk you're sitting at. “First I want to know why.” “I really wanted that easel.” “No, why did you hack me?” You may as well come clean. “I honestly didn’t know it was you until you replied to my message. After that, I panicked. I didn’t want you to know it was me who froze your computer, and you wouldn’t let it go, so I proposed a game.” “Why did you end the game early?” “You had been giving me a ride home every day for over a week. I thought it was because you suspected me and wanted to observe my behavior, to see if I would panic.” “And the easel. Why did you send it to me?” Isn't that obvious? You snort and shrug. “I was going to get it back, anyway. It was for me in the first place, wasn’t it?” He snorts back. “Was all of this really just so I wouldn't find out who you were?” You can't look at him in the eye, and you can't keep the blush down. At first it was just that, but as you kept asking him questions and conversing with him in subjects you couldn't possibly ask him face to face, it became enjoyable. For that week, where you could be as pompous and confident as you wanted to be, and strut your stuff, it felt like you could really shine, even if he didn't know it was you. You wanted to get to know him, and for him to get to know the real you, but not so soon, and definitely not under those circumstances. It was just as much about you as it was about him. “You have feelings for me, don’t you? And you had no intention of telling me.” You hum an affirmative. Putting your feelings into exact words is frightening. “I know you don’t think I’m all that impressive, and it’s not like I’m the best person for your benefit. Plus, I’m an ‘art freak,’ as some of your friends have seem to enjoy calling me. I love art, that will always be my passion, but I do enjoy coding, and figuring out puzzles. In addition, you’re in the Host Club. Isn’t it some kind of rule that you can’t have a girlfriend, or something? I figured it would just waste both of our time if I had declared my feelings for you, and so decided to pretend it was nothing.” He sits in the stool next to you with his knees facing you. You have his full and undivided attention now, and there is no screen to hide yourself in. There's no anonymity now. “You seemed to enjoy sending me messages, and asking questions about me.” That must have really seemed stalkerish. How awkward. “It was just moments of weakness. I was just supposed to enjoy the moment while I had the chance, and close the door when it ended.” “If I hadn’t found you.” “If I hadn’t have panicked, you wouldn’t have found me. You still didn’t think it was me even as you slammed open that door.” He props an elbow on the desk and leans his head into his hand. Kyoya doesn't say anything for a while. You have to know. “So, what now? Are you going to tell my father?” “What do you think he would do?” “Well, I won’t go to jail due to the statute of limitations, although you can still press charges on me.” “If you fix my laptop and promise not to do this again, I won’t.” Well, maybe you could promise not to hack him again, but if you meet some other jerk online you probably wouldn't guarantee anything. Fixing his laptop, however, is what you can do with no problem. All you have to do is look into the list of programs in his PC, and delete each and every one you installed. “Done. And I have a disc at home that could improve your personal security if you want it.” With all of the trouble you caused, it's the least you can do. Kyoya nods, agreeing to the extra service. “I won’t tell your father, and I won’t press charges.” “So . . . what? Slavery until college graduation?” He smiles, but unlike his business smile, this has a hint of a sadistic streak. It isn't down-right malicious, but it's a smile you're not going to enjoy seeing when it's aimed at you. That much you know. “Yes.” You slump your shoulders and hang your head. Of course Kyoya wouldn't cut you any slack, even though you had successfully deceived him until the end. “You are to attend the Host Club every day and help me with my duties, organize the club website, and help with cleaning up after.” Great. Now you have to be around Tamaki and attend the Host Club. “Is that all?” you retort. “Just one more thing.” You sigh, “What?” What could possibly be worse than visiting the Host Club and be a maid along with their personal technical analyst? “Let's go out on a date.”
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Chapter 6
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