Oil in Water
many thanks @summerpipedream for the commission! happy valentine’s day!!!
The sprawling opulence of the university grounds
barely affected Sakura as she rushed across the campus, expression harried. She
was late! Sakura spared the breath
for a curse as she checked her watch again. She couldn’t believe that she was going to be late. This was her first class
since the transfer; what sort of impression would she be making with this?
How was she to predict a massive fight between Sasuke and Naruto right before she had to leave?
(Then again, in hindsight, she should have planned for it. They were always fighting.)
Sakura ran up the stairs, nearly tripping over herself against the slippery material of the stairs. Was that marble?
Sakura shook her head, knowing she didn’t have time to think about it. She had to get to class!
“Sakura! There you are!” Ino called, grabbing Sakura’s arm and halting her frenzied progress.
“Ino?” Sakura said, looking her friend over incredulously. “What are you doing here? We’re supposed to be in class!”
Ino laughed, pulling out her phone and showing Sakura an email. “Professor cancelled class. Something about washing his dogs?”
“What kind of professor cancels class on the first day?” Sakura asked, grabbing the phone out of Ino’s hands.
Ino shrugged, unconcerned. “I guess Professor Hatake does. Anyway, there’s something even better! I thought it was a joke when I first came here, but no, it’s real. We have to go see it.”
“What are you talking about?” Sakura asked, even as Ino pulled her along down the corridor.
Ino shook her head. “Honestly I’m not even sure how to begin explaining it. It’s probably best if I just show you.”
Sakura quickened her pace despite herself, curiosity getting the better of her. What exactly had Ino heard about on her visit? Why hadn’t Sakura heard about it?
The sounds of giggles reached Sakura’s ears and the scent of…was that perfume? Perfume permeated the air, almost cloyingly sweet. Sakura’s eyes began to water and she valiantly fought against sneezing.
“This is it,” Ino said, staring up at large white doors, gilded in gold.
“Seems a bit…much,” Sakura said.
Ino laughed, patting Sakura’s shoulder. “You don’t know the half of it.”
Ino pushed the door open and Sakura blinked at the sight that greeted her. Flowers abounded, probably the source of the perfume, and the room was filled with women. They flocked around the few men in the room and Sakura had to squint against their blinding smiles.
“Is this a seraglio?” Sakura asked, looking around wildly. The decorations, even by the standards of the prestigious university, were excessive and lavish. “Seriously, do these women even want to be here?”
“Why don’t you ask them for yourself?” someone said from behind Sakura.
Sakura jumped, turning to look at the speaker. He was tall and dark haired, elegantly aloof. Sakura peered up at him closely, before nodding decisively. He wasn’t a Uchiha.
Thank God for that. (She really couldn’t handle another overbearing, clingy Uchiha.)
He seemed a bit nonplussed by her nonreaction to him. “Ootori Kyoya, manager of this establishment.” He made a small, somehow patronizing bow in her direction.
“So you’re in charge of this seraglio?” Sakura asked, unimpressed.
“I believe the correct terminology is ‘reverse harem,’” he replied, gesturing to the six or so men in the room. “Which type is to your taste today?”
“What,” Sakura said, staring around in horror. It wasn’t a question. She could hear Ino cackling behind her.
“Mother!” a blond man called, latching onto Kyoya. “Mother who are these lovely women?” He took Ino’s hand, pressing a kiss to it. “Surely, they cannot be mere mortals, gracing us with their godly presence.”
“Mother?” Sakura asked, glancing askance to Kyoya and desperately attempting to ignore the theatrics.
Unfortunately, she drew the attention of the blond. Her hand was grasped gently between two of his own, as the man stared down at her amorously.
“I am Tamaki Suoh,” the blond said. “And who might you be, lovely?”
“Unimpressed,” Sakura replied.
Ino laughed as the man entered a flamboyantly depressed state. “Really, you’re going to have to up your game with Sakura. She’s been fielding this sort of behavior since high school.”
“High school you say?” Kyoya said, glancing at Ino with renewed interest. “Do go on.”
Sakura didn’t have a chance to prevent that embarrassing conversation from happening as arms suddenly latched onto her neck. Sakura was unable to stifle her automatic response, shifting her weight through her hips, gripping the assailant’s arm, and flipping her assailant over her head. She pinned him down, surprised to find herself staring into large doe eyes.
Sakura did not notice the way the room fell silent as all eyes turned to the spectacle she’d just made. She did, however, notice the heavy hand that came down on her shoulder.
She glanced up…and up and up into the stony face of another club member.
“It’s fine, Mori!” the boy…man beneath Sakura said, voice full of charm and cheer. He met Sakura’s eyes with a large smile. “I’m sorry for alarming you. You have wonderful form though.” His eyes were suddenly wise and assessing. “Jiu-jitsu, right? Makes perfect sense with your size.”
Sakura huffed a nervous laugh, offering him her hand. “So sorry about that. Really, I don’t know what came over me.”
“This place is a little overwhelming,” the tall man, Mori, said.
Sakura smiled up at him, grateful for the support.
“I’m Honey,” the short man said, all cutesy smiles. “Will you be my friend?”
Sakura flinched as a chorus of ‘aws’ filled the room. She looked around, surprised to find all eyes on them. “Uh…sure,” Sakura said, taking his hand and shaking it firmly. “Maybe we can spar sometime?” She missed his and Mori’s surprised looks. “I saw the way you took that hard fall; you were completely fine. What style do you study?”
“We dabble in different fields,” Honey said. “My family is…rather known for martial arts.”
Sakura began to ask for him to clarify that rather cryptic statement when a voice drawled, “Yes, yes, the Haninozuka family is quite interesting but back to a more important topic…”
“Us,” a similar voice finished.
Sakura turned, taking in the duo standing before her. They were twins, with red hair and gold eyes. They wore matching smirks as they looked her over, seeming to find her wanting.
“Let’s play the ‘Which one is Hikaru?’ game!” one of them exclaimed.
“C’mon pinky, tell me, which of us is Hikaru?” the other said, leaning in close.
Sakura shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. Who are you two?”
“Ah, brother! How could she say such a cruel thing?” the first speaker said, turning into his twin’s embrace.
“Don’t worry brother,” he replied, caressing his twin’s cheek. “I know who you are.”
Again, the room was filled with wistful sighs as people looked on.
“What is this place?” Sakura muttered, beyond befuddled and questioning the sanity of everyone around her.
“It’s a host club,” came the calm reply to Sakura’s rhetorical question.
Sakura glanced to the side, surprised to see a brunette girl standing there. She wore the same uniform as the men so Sakura assumed that she worked here. The stranger wasn’t nearly as flashy as any of the others. In fact, she seemed…normal.
“Host club?” Sakura said, belatedly realizing that the woman was watching her expectantly.
“Yes, we entertain guests here with some…sometimes over the top flair. It comes from a place of love.” The woman smiled, offering Sakura her hand. “I’m Haruhi Fujioka, the ‘natural’ type.”
“What?” Sakura asked. “What’s a natural?”
Haruhi laughed, face flushing. “God, I suppose I’m starting to talk like them now. Everyone in the host club has a type assigned to them that they play into for the entertainment of our patrons.” She stopped, looking at Sakura’s expression. “I must sound like an idiot.”
“No,” Sakura said, waving her hands to dissuade Haruhi. “Not at all. While this is all a bit…overwhelming, your explanation makes it seem nice. You’re trying to spread joy to others.”
“Exactly,” Haruhi said, smiling slightly. It was a nice, easy smile and Sakura suddenly understood why she was called the “natural.” “Anyway, I could tell you were getting a bit uncomfortable. Would you like me to show you the exit? I can keep the others from interfering.” She looked around, smiling wryly. “They seem a bit preoccupied at the moment.
“Yes, please!” Sakura said, surveying the room. “My friend came here with me…”
Yet Ino was nowhere in sight.
“The blonde?” Haruhi asked. “She left about fifteen minutes ago after a conversation with Kyoya. She seemed rather satisfied. She was…cackling.”
“That sounds like Ino,” Sakura sighed, shaking her head.
Haruhi pulled aside a thick velvet curtain, revealing a smaller, less ostentatious door. “Here’s the exit.”
Sakura smiled up at Haruhi, relieved. “Thank you for all your help.”
“N-no problem,” Haruhi replied.
She watched as Sakura snuck out the door, hand pressed to her suddenly thumping heart.
“Interesting woman, isn’t she?”
Haruhi didn’t even jump, turning to look at Kyoya. “What are you planning?” she asked.
“The Yamanaka woman was quite helpful in shedding light on Haruno Sakura. Apparently, she has quite a following.”
“Kyoya,” Haruhi began, dread pooling in her stomach.
“Tamaki!” Kyoya called. “We’re getting a new recruit!” He looked down at Haruhi, smiling. “We need to expand our demographic after all.”