Good Evening!I'm posting Chapter Nine of 'Silent Challenges' tonight. I hope you're doing well!Title: Silent ChallengesSeries: Chapter Nine, 1701 wordsPairing/Character: Mori & HaruhiRating: TSummary: "With one last look, they took a final pass through the door."Cross-posted to ouran_fanficsFF.Net
There was a soft thud as something ran into the wall. They watched fascinated as a small white creature ran past them, soon followed by a brown blur, therein taking the battle to another room.
"I've got my money on Piyo," decided Kaoru.
"No way. Choji is faster."
"Maybe, but Piyo's got the talons."
Hikaru shrugged. "Meh. If only he knew how to use them."
Standing in the doorway of the now empty apartment, Hikaru and Kaoru soon found themselves nudged aside as Haruhi entered the bare room.
"You guys, I don't think this is what Takashi meant when he asked you to watch his animals for a while."
Both twins gave her a shrug. "We didn't start it."
"Yeah. In fact, we tried to end it, except that that little tanuki happens to be very fast…"
Finally they asked together, "Besides, who are we to interfere with nature?"
Haruhi walked past them, to crouch in the doorway leading to where the two animals now stationed themselves across from one another. She only needed to wait another moment before Choji came trotting over to her. Cradling the animal, she brought him back out to the main living area.
The twins both eyed her, seemingly impressed.
"Nice work, Haruhi!"
"Then again, you do have the distinct advantage of smelling like their adoptive dad…"
Kaoru nodded in agreement, "Not to mention, you do resemble Choji's own kind…"
"Ha ha." She didn't even bother to look up, instead enjoying the new look of calm and contentment on the animal's face. "Are you ready to go?"
Silence fell over the three of them as they all glanced around the now-empty apartment. Between the seven of them, they had turned five living spaces into pieces of each other and home. Now, as they prepared for their return to Japan, all but one of those apartments stood empty. Though he would return with them for part of the summer, Kyoya had decided to stay in America for college.
Haruhi stood up while the twins gathered the chicken. With one last look, they took a final pass through the door.
A large smile crossed her face as Haruhi walked back through her family's front door. Twirling around to find her father setting luggage aside, she threw her arms around him. It felt good to be home.
Ranka patted his daughter on the head before returning her embrace. "What's this? Usually I'm the one who has trouble letting go of you!"
"I missed you, Dad."
"I missed you, too. But tell me, how badly are you going to miss having all of that independence?"
Putting some thought into it, Haruhi sat down on a familiar spot on her floor. "It was a wonderful time being there, but I think I had the independence before I ever left the country... But I'm glad to be back home. It's strange, though, to think that I spent slightly more time abroad than I did at my first year at Ouran Academy. Yet getting ready for another year at Ouran still feels like I never left at all."
"Speaking of which, now that your secret is out, do you plan on dressing male or female?"
"I'm not entirely sure yet, although I suppose it would be best to dress as a female." She laughed, "It should keep things interesting while being a host!"
The two of them spent hours talking. There was little in the way of household maintenance for Haruhi to tend to, as her father had done his best to keep up with Haruhi's cleaning standards within the home. It was one of the ways he maintained her presence during her yearlong absence. The only new addition to the home was a bulletin board featuring photos and keepsakes from Haruhi's time in the States. Full of candid as well as planned photos, there were also pamphlets from museums and other places they had visited. The board even featured a menu from the host club's most frequented restaurant. The collage of memories existed much to Haruhi's amazement, for while she had indeed sent pictures and mementos home, the bulk of the pieces had not come from her.
I guess Kyoya has now officially issued photos of me to everyone… I'll have to remember to thank him for this, later.
As much as she had missed her father, even Haruhi was surprised at how much she opened up to him amid her homecoming. It was not that she ever had anything to hide from him. While there was a clear understanding of feelings between the two of them, Haruhi preferred to keep her fears and hardships to herself. In her opinion, her father already had too much else to worry about. Considering as much, she took a deep breath before losing the nerve to inform her father of an invite Takashi had recently presented her.
"Vietnam? What an interesting place to bring the young woman in your life…"
"I'd like to go, Dad. It's only for two weeks. It would be good practice for me."
"Practice? For what?"
"If I'm going to be a lawyer for people who are impoverished or suffering, don't you think it would be good for me to witness it firsthand? To help, and try to do something good for them? You don't have to worry, Dad."
He let out a stressed laugh. "Yes, Haruhi, I do have to worry. That's what fathers do. And before you remind me that Takashi and his family are martial arts champs, did you stop to think about how his immaculate training will stand up against guns? Or bombs?"
Empathetic as she was, Haruhi had expected her father to refute with questions like this, and came to the conversation prepared. "It's a peaceful area that they're visiting. It's more about distributing aid than anything else. It's poverty-stricken and repressed, but not what I would call violent, either."
Not being used to waiting on an answer from her father, it was one of the few times in her life Haruhi truly understood what the average teenager must feel like. She was not especially fond of it.
Ranka, on the other hand, had at this point spent nearly half of his life worrying as a parent. His daughter was extraordinary and responsible, and truth be told, when it came to Takashi Morninozuka, he had all the trust in the world. Sending his only daughter—his only family—out into a potentially dangerous place, however, was a difficult pill to swallow. Trust and responsibility would mean nothing if they were to cross paths with someone harboring less than honorable intentions.
He tried to imagine what Kotoko would do. It wasn't difficult to imagine the encouragement she would be brandishing onto their daughter. Haruhi's mother had exuded confidence and fearlessness. In Kotoko's mind, it mattered not whether a person stood at the very bottom, or the top of their world. Anyone bold enough to be a part of existence was in some aspect in harm's way. To dwell on the things that could go wrong was to detract from the possibility of putting other things right.
Ranka sighed, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Oh, Haruhi. You really are your mother's daughter."
Understanding her father's acceptance, Haruhi was thrilled and relieved to put the conversation behind her. The two of them discussed further her impending status as a third year at Ouran, with Ranka drawing up an amusing pros and cons list to Haruhi beginning her school year as a girl. She was more than satisfied to end the day with laughter, before retreating to her old bed.
Haruhi lay in bed, her attention directed toward the stars outside the window. While uncertain as to the majority of her own beliefs, she was thrilled to be accompanying Takashi on a task that seemingly exemplified his own. Then, she wanted to engage in unique situations, and take the chance to do something good for other people. One needn't adhere to any certain faith to do that.
Concerning the makeup of her own beliefs, Haruhi wasn't completely sure of what they were. For as long as her mother hadn't been alive, she had always wanted to believe in Heaven. Seeing her mother again depended on it.
Analyzing the situation further, it was not lost on Haruhi that after countless years of developing human intelligence, even the most brilliant of people still had not figured everything out. It was not too much of a stretch for her to believe that some higher power was indeed directing everything in existence.
She had also noticed over time how people had a tendency to go out of their way to shield other people from understanding them, or from realizing the entirety of their personal feelings and logic. It would not be a surprise to Haruhi, then, to find out that there was a God whose ultimate plan remained universally veiled.
Whether or not there truly was a God, Haruhi did not know. Even while admitting that Takashi's God and Savior might exist, her own quiet and apprehensive truth remained that she had never been able to pray to Him, either way.
Laying on the damp grass of his family's sprawling estate, Takashi took in the scent of a nearby rose garden. It had been over a year since he'd enjoyed the opportunity to simply wander the familiar paths on a warm summer night. He found himself wanting to bring Haruhi here.
Their year in America had expired entirely too fast. He had enjoyed knowing that at all times, Haruhi was a mere walk away. As glad as he was to be home, Takashi would miss that one unintended luxury. He contented himself in knowing there was much to be shared in the summer months that lie ahead.