Their vacation is ending, but the other members of the club still have one week of their punishment left. Can Kyouya and Haruhi keep the club running with only two members? Post-chapter 28.
She did notice that they were suspiciously absent for the rest of the break. There were no unannounced visits that left her with a pounding headache and the neighbors whispering to each other about her wealthy visitors for weeks afterward. No invitations to summer homes she'd never have been able to visit even if she'd wanted because she had no passport and they always went out of the country (save Kyouya, of course, the only one who always had the sense to invite her to somewhere within Japan and also the only one who'd still called with his regular courtesy invitation). She wasn't even getting the regular half-dozen phone calls from Tamaki a day, each more panicky than the last if she happened to miss them.
When she thought about it, she decided that the most likely explanation was that they were continuing to spend their break going to more "commoner" events like the exhibition. In the black mood he'd been in that day, Kyouya had seemed to take a certain amount of malicious amusement out of spoiling their secret by informing her of exactly why they were there that day without inviting her. If they were still trying to teach themselves about her 'culture' it would make sense that they'd been leaving her out of their plans, although she shuddered to think about the insane conclusions they'd be jumping to without anyone there to at least try reining in their imaginations.
Mostly it was a welcome break. For once she could concentrate on her school work without any distractions, and she gladly took the chance to get ahead in her reading so she wouldn't need to stay up to the small hours of the morning just to make sure she'd be able to keep her place at the top of the class the next time she found her days completely packed with club duties, surprise trips that were suddenly sprung on her out of nowhere, the twins getting bored and making mischief, and the thousand other ways they could find to distract her as she tried walking the path that should have lead straight to her dream once she made it into Ouran.
But she found herself missing the distractions as the days without contact from them turned into weeks. She'd gotten used to having them as a part of her daily life, even if they annoyed her sometimes, and it wasn't like they usually acted like rich bastards.
Well, she amended the thought, it wasn't like Hunny and Mori usually did. And she couldn't really hold it against the others when she was sure that they didn't realize how they came across (except, she was sure, for Kyouya, the only one of the rich bastards who actually knew what tact was and as such the only one who she knew was doing it on purpose when he said something completely annoying).
So when she heard her father saying "It's always so good to see you, Kyouya-kun!" as she pushed open the door to their apartment when she came back from buying some last minute school supplies, there was a brief instant when she way glad that things were finally getting back to what passed for normal.
A very brief instant that was quickly replaced by wariness when the door swung fully open and she saw that Kyouya was there on his own. "Kyouya-senpai? What are you doing here?" Even as the words left her mouth she realized that she was echoing her greeting from their last meeting, and sincerely hoped that this time wouldn't continue to mimic that one with him immediately asking her to spend money on him.
But the similarity was broken even as she thought of it by her father standing up and smiling her, absently smoothing down his dress with one hand. "Perfect timing, Haruhi! Daddy was beginning to worry he'd be late for work if you didn't get home soon, but I couldn't just leave poor Kyouya-kun to wait for you on his own."
Kyouya looked up at Ranka, giving him what Haruhi considered his best host smile, the one that made their customers believe that he was /ever/-so-sincerely thinking of nothing but their happiness when he directed them toward the newest online auction selling off some ridiculously overpriced old possession of their favorite host. "You should have let me know you were in a hurry, Ranka-san. I'm grateful for your concern, but the last thing I would have wanted to do is delay you."
As her father gushed over how well-mannered Kyouya was, an distrustful part of Haruhi's mind found itself certain that Kyouya had planned his timing out exactly, seeking a few minutes alone in her apartment to ruffle through her belongings and gather more information. Then she chided herself for being overly paranoid; even if he did know her dad's schedule (which wouldn't surprise her) it wasn't like he could have known that she would be out shopping when he got there.
Her father left and she waited, knowing that Kyouya wouldn't have forgotten her question. She watched as he took a long drink from the cup of tea Ranka must have prepared for him, appearing for all the world to be completely comfortable and unhurried in her 'commoner' apartment without Tamaki there with his ridiculous lessons on the 'proper' ways to behave that he'd picked up who-knew-where. Finally, just as she reached the point where she would have asked him why he was there again, he said, "I came to make sure you were prepared for the week ahead of us."
The first thing she thought was that he'd come to make sure she was on top of her schoolwork, although out of all of her friends he was that last one she'd have expected to suddenly become concerned with her grades unless things ever somehow got so bad that her flunking out of Ouran seemed like a sure thing. "My homework's been done for weeks," she offered as a response, "and I'm prepared for whatever gets assigned for a while."
"While that will certainly be helpful, it's not the point of this visit." He adjusted his glasses and looked at her in the way he had that always made her feel like he was appraising her worth. "It's safe to assume this upcoming week at the club will be a strain. Are you ready for that?"
"A strain?" she repeated, trying to remember what they had planned for the week. Nothing much, from what she could remember; the beginning and the end of the week were the only days they'd be in costume, and the only special activity planned on them was a haiku writing contest Tamaki had declared they'd have on their first day back to 'commemorate the fleeting joy of summer', which Haruhi took as Tamaki's way of saying that his obsession with all things Japanese was flaring up. "I'm not that bad at writing poetry, Kyouya-senpai," she ventured.
From the look he gave her (which actually seemed to have some disappointment with her mixed in, a part of her mind noticed with a little surprise) she could tell she'd misunderstood where his concerns lie once again. "You do remember that the others haven't finished their punishment yet, don't you, Haruhi?" he asked.
And suddenly the memories of how that afternoon had ended flooded back into her mind, and her eyes widened slightly. "You have to be kidding," she said, disbelieving. "They aren't even at the shopping center anymore!"
"I didn't expect that they would be," he said, turning his attention back to his tea. "But Tamaki and the twins, at least, won't risk coming to school before the month is out and having me find out that they escaped their punishment; if they haven't made contact with me yet it's certain that they haven't stopped to think rationally long enough to realize that my men would have caught them before they could untie themselves if I'd really wanted them trapped. Hunny-senpai and Mori-senpai may come to school since they won't see either of us during their classes, but I wouldn't place the odds on them coming to the host club before the week is out at higher than forty-five-percent." He took a drink to wet his throat, than met her eyes once more. "I considered that announcing that the host club would be taking a week long hiatus might be the wisest course of action, but I decided to allow you to have this opportunity instead."
She looked at him like she thought he'd gone insane. "Opportunity to what, Kyouya-senpai, see how long it takes to work myself to exhaustion?"
"If the increased workload proves to be too much for you, I can reconsider the possibility of a hiatus," he said, unconcerned, then smiled suddenly. If any of the customers had been there they might swoon at the change in expression, but Haruhi knew him well enough to recognize it as the look of the shadow king finding an interesting new plot. "Tell me, Haruhi, have you ever considered how much more quickly your debt would be paid off if you took the designations of half the women visiting the club? Provided, of course, that you can be a good enough host to keep their interest in you high enough so they keep coming through the week, even if you aren't the type they prefer."