Music room 3, the home of Ouran High School's infamous Host Club.
The doors are wide open and the sounds of chatter and laughter come from inside.
Ariel has heard of the Host Club. He's heard a couple of things, actually. And he's seen a couple more.
First, they're magic as all hell. All from old families, and, you know, he has eyes. Too pretty. Kind of like him.
Second, to reiterate, they're pretty. And they do weird parties. Weird, sexy parties. (Elijah rolled his eyes at him. Elijah doesn't really get the concept of "sexy" without actual sex being involved. Elijah's weird.)
Third... Ariel's not sure there is a third point, actually. Numbers are fake anyway. Whatever. He wants in.
Open door's convenient for that. He doesn't exactly sneak in, but he doesn't make much of an entrance, per se. Just kind of walks in. Like a normal person. Except better. Because he's cooler than normal people. That's how it works.
Inside, the club is decorated to look like a fay court. Young trees have been brought in to line the walls. Fairy lights are strung between them. There's a stone fountain in the center of the room and the sound of the water mixes with faint, unearthly music that can barely be heard.
Tamaki, as always, is the king. He wears a laurel wreath.
Each of the hosts has fairy wings, they are delicate and shimmer slightly and are even more covered in magic than the rest of the room, though if you look closely, you can see where they are attached to harnesses under the host's clothes.
Fairies! Ariel likes fairies. This is promising.
He considers the fairies available. He's aware of the "type" thing, but he hasn't actually put much thought into which he'd prefer. Prince Charming: appealing, but possibly too close to his own schtick. "Mischievous," or more pertinently "weird incestuous yaoi subplot": again, tempting, but slightly too reminiscent of his own current life choices. Strong and silent? Interesting. Adorable?
Wait, what the fuck?
There's... a child here? Soaking in dissonance. Ari's head fills with static for a minute before he remembers that there are people who gather dissonance through means other than stupid amounts of sex. After that, it's still kind of full of static. What the fuck is a kid doing in this room. Wearing fairy wings.
Ariel approaches very, very cautiously, the non-Adorable types forgotten.
The kid sees him and beams.
He's barefoot and wearing a wreath of tiny white flowers in his hair.
The man standing behind him gives Ariel a considering look.
Ariel considers him right back (with more emphasis on different areas), before turning back to the child, what the fuck. His expression is both guileless and entirely free of internal screaming. "Hi! I don't think we've met, I'm new here. What year are you in?"
"I'm a senior!"
"Did you skip a couple of grades, then? You must be pretty smart."
"No, silly. I'm eighteen."
"Wow, you're actually older than I am. That's really cool! It's nice to meet you!"
what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck
"It's nice to meet you too! What are you doing here?"
"Well, what do most people do here? Like I said, I'm new. - Oh, and my name is Ariel. Ariel von Winter." He sweeps out a gracious bow. Can't stop being melodramatic and self-aggrandizing just because you're dissociating, Ariel, come on.
"My name's Honey!" he says, bouncing up and down slightly.
"This is the host club! We're nice to people and talk to pretty girls and do fun things and I eat lots of cake."
The bouncing does not help Ariel's current mental state.
"Cake, huh? Got any going spare? I do like cake." And gluttony. Which, okay, that's probably where the kid's getting all that dissonance, right? ...where the legal adult is getting all that dissonance? We can stop having upsetting thoughts now? We can't? Cool, cool.
"I have lots and lots of cake," Honey says.
He turns to look at the man standing behind him.
Who goes to a small table partially concealed by the trees and retrieves a cute, two tiered cake that is covered in icing vines and purple flowers.
He hands it to Honey.
Honey looks at the cake.
And then looks at Ariel.
And then looks at the cake again.
"How much do you want?"
Well, that's a face. Okay, guess it's Charity time instead. "Just a little bit. Can't ruin my girlish figure."
Mori takes a knife and carefully cuts out a slice of the cake. He puts it on a plate and hands it to Ariel along with a spoon.
He hands Honey another spoon.
Honey digs into the cake.
Ariel has a bite. It's very good cake. Also, it gives him a chance to corral his thoughts a bit.
Okay, so. Apparently it's no longer morally indefensible for him to be kind of into Honey. That doesn't mean he's super comfortable with it, or anything, but - it's something.
It's not the persona. He's not attracted to whatever bizarro shotacon act he's got going. He's just... fascinated by what kind of person would use dissonance to prevent himself from aging (because that's obviously what's going on here, now he thinks about it), who then spends his time in a host club, being slightly less sexualized than his clubmates, waited on hand and foot by some kind of bodyguard... Ariel doesn't know what's behind the kiddie mask, but for some reason, he really wants to.
And, okay, there's a physical element. A creepy physical element, because Honey is creepy and everything related to Honey is creepy. (That's kind of intriguing in and of itself. Ariel is himself pretty fucked-up, and there's a certain professional interest to be had in someone so fucked-up he can fuck up everything around him.)
It all adds up to something. Probably, "something" is "talking to Honey in a context where they can actually discuss magic, and aren't surrounded by a million random kawaisa-crazed teenage girls".
Also, this cake is delicious. Goddamn.
"Wow, this is really good cake! Does the Host Club get treats like this all the time?"