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.
"I was joking, by the way. I will do nothing of the sort."
"I know. I don't want you to. You're perfect already."
They have sex. It's fun, though Ari's a bit distracted.
The next day, he shows up at the Host Club at the usual time. He's spent most of today focusing on diligence and kindness, since he's always loaded up with dissonance; now he's got both in spades. This should be a cakewalk.
He wonders if there's going to be cake. Then he remembers Honey is involved. There's gonna be cake.
There is in fact cake. A table of perfectly identical small pink cakes.
Honey stands in the middle of the table, staring at him somberly.
A crowd is gathered around.
Well, that's not at all intimidating.
Ariel's usual glamour is a bit brighter than usual, making him look almost uncannily beautiful. He actually sparkles a bit, though that's not the glamour as much as it is the body glitter he's dusted gently over his skin.
"Halloa!" he calls cheerfully.
"Ariel von Winter," Honey says.
"Are you prepared? Once you start, there is no turning back."
Ariel straightens his back. "Yessir."
"Okay!" Honey says, grinning.
"Your first challenge is the pick the right cake! There are lots and lots but only one isn't gonna make you really sick."
His expression turns briefly somber.
"It's a lot of wasted cake, but that's okay! We have enough cake for everyone after you pick!"
Poison cakes! How delightful.
Ariel selects a cake, flexes dissonance - all the other cakes are poison, do you really want to be part of the crowd? You're not a follower, little cake, you're a delicious, non-toxic pastry, possibly filled with raspberry jam - and picks it up without hesitation.
He takes a bite. No jam. Pity.
Honey joins leaps down and hugs Ariel.
"Congratulations! You've completed the first challenge."
And then he grabs the rest of the now unpoisoned cake.
Ariel ruffles his hair.
The twins come up from behind him and sign their arms around his shoulders.
"Don't get cocky yet."
"You've only just started."
"Cocky? Me?" Ariel shakes his head. "Never."
"That's a shame."
Ariel shakes his head again. "Arrogant? Occasionally. Prideful? Regularly. But cockiness implies that my confidence is misplaced, which is something I make a point of avoiding - whether that confidence is in myself or others."
"We'll see about that."
They step back and in the process, Hikaru dramatically trips, spilling a cup of dark red tea on his outfit.
"Guess you'll have to change."
Ariel grimaces. "Yes, gentlemen, well done. As the collective Hitachiin scion I imagine you know how exquisitely difficult it is to get tannin out of a white silk suit?"
"Sorry," they say, not sounding sorry at all.
They take his arms and march him to a closet in the wall of the clubroom. The crowd parts to let them through.
They open the doors and shove him inside.
Now, this Ariel had expected. He clicks his fingers together with a flare of Dissonance to conjure up a spark of light which he feeds into a petal of bright almost-flame. He uses it to examine the contents of the closet.
He thought this was going to be hard.
Ariel exits the closet a bare few minutes after he was pushed in. Over one arm hangs his white suit. He wears an intricately silver-embroidered black mariachi jacket, hanging unbuttoned over his bare chest, and a long, swishing skirt of many particolored layers. Somewhere, he found a pair of size twelve black four-inch stiletto heels. In his hair rests a single perfect silk rose.
"Thank you for the access to your closet, gentlemen," he says, sashaying towards the twins. "I do hope my choices please the panel."