Shadows & Roses

Toddler

My eyes opened to the white light of the early morning. Yawning I sat up and rubbed my eyes before looking at the clock next to my bed. It was just after ten and definitely time to get up.

Climbing out of bed I made my way to the bathroom and quickly did my business before returning to my room. Walking over to my bed I smiled as I saw a mass of blond hair stirring under the covers. A second later a pair of big brown eyes met mine.

"Good morning baby." I smiled as I sat on the bed.

My son Taro looked at me, still a little sleepy before standing up and toddling across the bed towards me. Plopping down on my lap he curled up, holding his favorite stuffed animal in his hand. It was a floppy brown dog that was named Inu and Taro was as attached to it as Honey was to Usa-Chan. Inu was a gift Mori had brought back from a business trip.

Smiling down at him I ran my hands through his blonde hair and kissed his forehead. Taro was 18 months old and the sweetest baby I had ever met. He loved to cuddle with whomever would let him onto their lap and freely gave kisses and hugs. Even if he had been quite the shock he was very much loved.

"Do you and Inu want to go to the dojo?" I asked as I held the sleepy toddler in my arms.

"DOJO!" Taro squealed suddenly awake.

"Yeah! Come on and Mama will get you all dressed." I smiled and picked him up before heading to his room.

I changed and then helped him put on the mini Gi that he loved. He liked looking like Daddy as much as he could which was easy since he was Honey in smaller form. After putting a similar outfit onto Inu I left Taro to play in his room while I changed.

After pulling on a pair of Gi pants and a tank top I collected Taro along with his diaper bag before heading out to my car. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant with Taro Honey and I had bought a house. It wasn't far from the Haninozuka Estate so when we'd moved we'd started using the dojo there. Honey usually left earlier than I did and Taro and I would meet up with him later since it was a pain to try to get an 18-month-old up very early.

"Daddy!" Taro squealed as he hurried to where Honey stood talking to Mori and Satoshi.

Honey smiled as Taro wrapped himself around his legs. Scooping him up Honey rested Taro on his hip and placed a kiss to his forehead.

"Morning." I smiled as I walked over.

All three already had a good sweat worked up since they had already been working. I was grateful that Honey would take Taro so that I could work out a little as well.

"Morning ." Mori said with a nod.

"Where's Chika?" I asked missing Honey's younger brother.

"Still inside. He refused to take a break." Satoshi said.

I nodded. That sounded like Chika. He couldn't let go of the fact that Honey would always be better than him. I wondered what he would do if Taro surpassed him as well one day. After all he was Honey's son.

At not even 2 all of us were slowly working with Taro on his martial arts. We'd all started training from the moment we had been old enough to stand on our own and my son was no different. Though I knew he really didn't grasp everything I knew he would soon enough.

"We'd better head in too. We've been out here long enough." Honey said and we all nodded.

As we walked in Honey sat down Taro, "Remember what Daddy showed you Taro? Bow."

I smiled as Honey took Taro's hands and clasped them together, showing him how to bow. When Taro did it Honey clapped, his face beaming with pride and a grin stretched across Taro's face.

As I started stretching in the corner I also watched Taro out of the corner of my eye. When he had seen Chika he had flipped out who he absolutely adored. Outside of the Host Club, Chika and Satoshi, Taro was pretty shy but around any of Honey and I's close friends he was overly excited and hyper much like Honey. However out of everyone he clung to Chika whenever he was around.

In turn Chika seemed a different person around Taro. Usually he was serious and seemed perpetually annoyed. When Taro showed up though Chika turned patient and even smiled sometimes. It was so strange to see what kinds of changes a little boy could bring about in him.

Turning from my son and brother-in-law I began to go through the familiar motions of my training. In no time I was working up a sweat and feeling the familiar and comforting burn of my muscles. However everything was interrupted as a familiar and very unwelcome voice hit my ears.

"Hello!"

Turning I saw Kasumi walk into the dojo. She wore a pair of tight jeans with a low cut top that showed more cleavage than was necessary. What really got me though was the designer boots she still wore. Growling to myself I marched over to her.

"Out." I said as I approached her.

"Oh Misora I didn't see you there!" she said tilting her head and giving me a smile.

"I said out Kasumi. Now." I ordered pointing to the door.

She cast me a hurt look, "What did I do? Why are you being so mean?!"

"Shoes." Mori said pointing to her feet as the others came to stand with me.

"Yeah! They're new! Do you like them!?" she grinned up at Mori.

"No you're not supposed to wear shoes in the dojo genius." Chika scoffed as Taro hid behind his legs.

Taro wasn't a fan of Kasumi at all. He was frightened of her. The first time she had ever held him he had screamed himself red until Honey had removed him from her grasp. I couldn't say I blamed him.

Satoshi reached over and knocked Chika on the back of the head, "Don't talk to people like that! Especially your fiancée!"

Chika scowled at Satoshi before turning to Kasumi.

"You're wearing shoes which is prohibited in the dojo. If you would please go and take them off then reenter the dojo it would be appreciated." Chika replied through gritted teeth.

"But they're Armani!" Kasumi protested.

"Kasumi either go out there and take them off or I'll make you." I said.

Kasumi shot me a glare but walked out none the less.

"That was a little mean." Honey said but I knew by his voice that he really didn't care.

"She knows the rules of the dojo just as well as the rest of us even if she didn't ever do anything in one but whine. Good luck being married to her Chika." I replied.

About a year previous our parents had announced that Kasumi would be marrying Chika. Apparently they wanted more of a bond with the Haninozuka family than the one they had thanks to Honey and I. I really felt sorry for Chika.

Kasumi walked back in without her shoes and looked at me, "Happy now?"

"Ecstatic." I replied.

"Now where is my handsome nephew?" She grinned and looked at Taro who quickly moved to grab onto Honey who picked him up and carried him to the opposite corner of the dojo.

"Leave my son alone Kasumi." I said looking at my sister.

"He's my nephew though! Why won't you ever let me be near him?" she whined.

I rolled my eyes, "I have some work to do." and walked off.

It took some time to block out Kasumi's annoying voice but I managed to do it and get back to my work out. By the time I had finished I saw that Kasumi had thankfully left. Wiping at my face with a towel I walked over to where Honey and Taro sat.

"So how did he do Daddy?" I asked as I crouched down beside them.

"He did really well! He's going to be amazing!" Honey smiled.

"Well good. Anyhow we should get going. We have lunch at Haruhi and Tamaki's today." I said looking at Honey.

"Oh right! Haruhi promised to make red velvet cake!" he grinned.

"Alright then. Why don't you and Mori take Taro and go change and I'll meet up with you guys outside so we can ride there together." I said.

"Alright." Honey nodded and we headed into the main house to change.

At least once a month as much of the Host Club as was able got together to have lunch. Since most everyone was super busy with whatever it was we were working on it was hard to get all of us at one time. The rule was that if you were in Japan you came to lunch. No if ands or buts. Most of the time it was Tamaki, Mori, Honey, Haruhi and I along with the kids but this time the twins were in town so they would be there.

The only person that had yet to show up was Kyoya. He had visited Haruhi and Tamaki a couple days after the twins were born but he had been gone soon after. A huge deal had suddenly gone through and he'd had to relocate.

Now he was in London running the branch of Otori Medical that had been established there. He didn't often come back to Japan but kept in touch with Tamaki on a weekly basis. Shortly after Kyoya had left Tamaki had dropped the bomb on us that Kyoya had recently gotten married to a woman named Hamako.

When I had heard that he was married it had stirred faint feelings of jealousy and hurt but they had quickly passed. In truth I was happy for him. I hoped that he was happy with Hamako. I really only wanted the best for him.

I took a shower in one of the guest suites in the Haninozuka Mansion before changing into a pair of jeans along with a black and red striped top and red flats. My hair went into a high ponytail and with a quick swipe of makeup I headed out.

Honey and Mori stood out front by my car while Taro chased butterflies. The four of us climbed into the car and headed across town to Haruhi and Tamaki's. When the twins were 6 months old the house they lived in had caught on fire. Luckily they were all safe but they had had to move.

After a couple of weeks at our house they had found a house a little larger than the old one with a big backyard for the twins to play in. It had a big patio too which made it perfect for our little get togethers in the summer.

We had just pulled into the driveway when suddenly the front door flung open and Tamiko and Mattieu came running out. Mattieu had Haruhi's brown hair and Tamaki's blue violet eyes. He was smart as a whip but was a charmer just like his father. Tamiko was more serious than her brother but dramatic like her father, whom she shared her blond locks with, her eyes were big and round like Haruhi's. It wasn't unusual for her to get her feelings hurt and retreat to a corner until Haruhi could coax her out.

"Aunt Sora! Uncle Honey! Uncle Mori!" they both cried and a minute later I felt Tamiko dive into my arms.

"Hey sweetheart." I smiled kissing her cheek.

Mori scooped up Mattieu and Honey grabbed Taro's diaper bag before the group of us headed inside.

"Hello?" Honey called as we walked in and a moment later Tamaki appeared.

"Hello to you too!" Tamaki smiled.

"Tama!" Taro shouted and Tamaki smiled before picking him out of Honey's arms.

"Did you miss your Uncle Tamaki? Hmm?" Tamaki asked as he picked up Taro, bouncing him a little.

Haruhi walked out of the kitchen wiping her hands on a cloth, "Hey!"

She hugged all of us before turning to the twins who had long since scrambled from Mori and I's arms, "Did you two go outside without permission?"

"Sorry Mommy." Tamiko said frowning, Mattieu looking just as guilty behind her.

"It's okay this time because someone was out there but you are not to do it again because you might get hurt okay?" Haruhi asked and both nodded.

"Good. Now come on and we'll all go outside and wait for Uncle Hikaru and Uncle Karou." Haruhi smiled and before she could blink the twins were making a beeline outside.

The rest of us followed them the backyard. Once outside I sat Taro down and he retreated over to the sandbox just off the patio and began to tinker around with the toys that sat in it. When I was sure that he was settled I took a seat next to Haruhi.

"How's everything going at he firm?" I asked as Haruhi handed me a glass of lemonade.

"Great actually. I have this case I'm working on now involving this woman who used to work at this big supermarket chain. She was sexually harassed by a co-worker who was the owner's son. When she told the owner he fired her and reported her for theft even though there was no evidence that any money ever went missing. My boss says that if I land this case he's going to give me even bigger ones in the future." Haruhi smiled.

"That's amazing! Congratulations." I replied.

"Thanks. And my firm just put in a child care center which means I'll be able to be at work longer and not have to worry about the daycare closing. Plus I get to see them whenever I want." Haruhi said.

I shook my head, "That's so great. I can't imagine having to go all day without seeing Taro. I hate being away from him for a few hours when my father makes me come in for board meetings. At least Honey has him though so I know he's in good hands. Oh! That reminds me. My sister showed up at the dojo today."

Haruhi's eyes went wide, "Really?"

"Yeah. She didn't take off her shoes and then tried to talk to Taro. Honey got him away though before he could start crying. What part of 'don't ever come near my child' doesn't my sister understand? She tried to kill me for god's sake! Why would I want her around my son?"

"Wow. Can't Chika keep her from coming to the dojo?" Haruhi asked.

"No. She does whatever she wants. It's like talking to wall. A spoiled, selfish, spiteful wall." I sighed.

There was a ding from inside and Haruhi stood up, "Sounds like lunch is ready. Sora would you help me bring everything out?"

"Sure." I smiled and followed Haruhi inside.

Haruhi took the pan of Soba noodles from the stove and brought them to the sink to wash them out. I reached into the fridge and collected all the condiments we'd need along with plates from the cabinet. Once the noodles were cooled Haruhi and I carried everything outside.

Tamaki had taken the kids inside and helped them wash their hands. Now all three sat at the table in booster seats with their plates in front of them, bibs around their necks. Tamaki and Haruhi had an extra booster seat at their house for Taro and Honey and I had ones at our house for the twins.

I carefully put a small pile of cold Soba noodles on his plate before putting a little bit of sesame seeds and seaweed on top for him since they were his favorite. When he was settled I made my own plate and began to eat.

A moment later the door slid open and Hikaru and Kaoru came walking out.

"What? You started without us?" Hikaru asked.

"If you had showed up on time you would've been here when we started eating." Haruhi chided.

"Well is it our fault that we had to pick up a little surprise before we got here?" Kaoru asked.

"How many times do I have to tell you two not to bring alcohol around when the children are here?!" Tamaki said standing up.

"Oh relax Tamaki. They didn't bring anything of the sort. I told them it would be tacky and improper for a lunch meeting."

I looked up from where I was wiping Taro's mouth off and felt my heart began to beat wildly and before I could stop it his name fell off my lips in a whisper.

"Kyoya…"

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