Act 5

    "Otoro, otoro..."
    Haruhi climbed the front steps of Kyouya's mansion and paused before the door to gather a bit of courage. "Otoro, otoro," she reminded herself under her breath. "As much as I can eat." Switching her basket to one hand, she raised her finger towards the doorbell in determination. How hard could it be? She wasn't sure about the whole seducing thing, but maybe if she got closer to him as a friend it would be enough?
    Tires screeching in the gravel drew her attention, and she turned in surprise to stare at the limo that had just pulled up in the drive. A manservant was already stepping forward to open the door, and Tamaki's golden head appeared.
    Followed immediately by identical smirks under jagged brown hair.
    Haruhi sighed as the twins took the steps two at a time to pin her in at either side.
    "Oh~ Haruhi, what's this, what's this? Are you going to seduce Kyouya in his bedroom?" they sang in glee.
    "It's not like that," she protested, holding up her basket for inspection. "I thought if I brought him some tea and muffins..."
    "How clever of you, Haruhi," Hikaru teased.
    "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach," Kaoru quoted, patting her on the head.
    Tamaki had faltered a few steps below, and was looking at Haruhi blankly. She stared back quizically. "Tamaki-senpai, I thought you weren't involved in this game?"
    He opened and shut his mouth like a fish, but Hikaru was already answering for him, flapping a hand dismissively. "The Lord is only good with girls. We thought it'd be funny to bring him along."
    Kaoru rang the doorbell, grinning. "It will be worth getting up early to watch Kyouya's face when he has to listen to one of Tamaki-senpai's flowery speeches on endless love."
    Haruhi winced slightly at the thought. "Are you sure that's such a good idea? If the three of you burst in loudly this early in the morning... I thought you said waking him up was 'dangerous'?"
    "We leave that job to you," the twins proclaimed, shoving her through the door the instant it opened.
    Ignoring the startled looks of the servants-- and Haruhi's protests --they propelled her up the stairs, with Tamaki trailing behind in silence. A pair of maids saw them making a beeline for their master's bedroom and scuttled for safety. Ignoring this warning sign, Hikaru threw open the door brashly and stepped aside to allow his brother to push Haruhi in ahead of them.
    Haruhi dug in her heels against the rough treatment, and sent them both an impatient glare over her shoulder. "You don't have to be so pushy. If no one else will do it, then fine. Wait here."
    "How fearless!" the twins mocked, but in a stage whisper. They edged closer to the dresser, prepared to leap for cover, as Haruhi strode towards the bed. Tamaki took a wavering step after her, hesitated, then decided that no one deserved the wrath that was Kyouya in the morning. Steeling his resolve, he forced himself to cross the room after her.
    Kyouya had burrowed himself under the covers, and the only proof that he was in his bed at all was the balled-up lump in the middle of the bed. Haruhi set her basket on the bedside table next to a broken alarm clock and leaned over the bed a bit. "Kyouya-senpai?" she called quietly. "Are you awake?"
    The lump didn't even twitch.
    Tamaki reached out and prodded it boldly. "Kyouya~ get up!" he said loudly.
    "Go for it, King," the twins chanted quietly in encouragement.
    Taking a deep breath, Tamaki leaned over the lump and shouted, "KYOUYA, OHAYO!!"
    The lump jerked violently, and an arm appeared from underneath the blankets, quick as a snake. Tamaki scrambled back, barely avoiding a fist to the face. Haruhi leapt aside, eyes wide as she caught a glimpse of a murderous glare peeping out at them from under the covers. Then the arm withdrew, and Kyouya was hidden once more.
    "Maybe he didn't get enough sleep last night, and we should try later," Haruhi suggested, a bit unnerved.
    Hikaru snorted dramatically, flapping a hand. "He goes to bed at the same time every night like clockwork to get exactly eight hours of sleep. Isn't that what you said, Tamaki-senpai?"
    "Come on, King!" Kaoru encouraged. "Show him who's boss!"
    Tamaki nodded firmly, missing the quick grin the twins exchanged. Preparing himself to leap backwards at the first sign of malice, he stepped to the bedside again, reaching out to poke the lump again. "Kyo--"
    He jerked back, but not quite fast enough. A hand shot from under the covers and seized a fistful of Tamaki's shirt, yanking him closer so hard he almost fell across the bed.
    Tamaki found himself face-to-face with what was presumably his old friend. He looked tired, half asleep, and a little too scary for Tamaki's comfort.
    "Get. Out. Of. My. Room. You idiots."
    "Uhmmm..." Tamaki tried a smile. It felt wobbly on his face. "Ahaha... Come on, Kyouya, it's almost eight, it's a beautiful day, we thought--"
    "Don't think. And don't talk." Kyouya's voice wasn't much more than a growl, his eyes narrowing dangerously. "Just walk. That way." And shoving Tamaki away in the general direction of the door, he disappeared underneath his blankets again.
    There was a heavy silence.
    Finally Haruhi scooped up her basket and said quietly, "Maybe we should just wait until he gets up on his own."
    The twins nodded emphatically, already creeping towards the door on tip toes. Tamaki followed a little slower, trying to fix his rumpled collar.


    By the time Kyouya dragged himself out of bed an hour later, he'd completely forgotten about the visit. Still a bit groggy even after his shower, he padded downstairs in search of breakfast, brushing absently at a wrinkle in his shirt.
    He fetched his coffee-- already waiting for him in its china cup on its tiny little saucer --and headed for the den to wait for his breakfast to be brought to him. It was a nice morning ritual on the weekends to eat a leisurely meal, peruse the newspaper, and maybe open the windows to let in the breeze...
    ....Was that music he heard?
    He came to an abrupt halt at the den's entrance and stood staring blankly at the scene before him.
    Haruhi was standing by the bookshelves, commenting on the extensive collection while the twins were sprawled against each other on the couch, making clever remarks about the rich and famous as they looked over the entertainment section of the newspaper (the rest of the paper was scattered haphazardly across the floor). Tamaki was seated at the dusty piano in the corner, playing quietly.
    Kyouya's brain stalled, and for a moment he could only continue to stare uncomprehending, his gaze drifting towards Tamaki and lingering. What the hell? Since when had he had a piano in the den? ...Oh, wait. His sister had moved the mostly forgotten relic to the den specifically for when Tamaki visited, in hopes of hearing his music again someday.
    Tamaki had been lost in his own piece for a moment, swaying slightly, eyes closed and a small smile on his face. But he jumped as Kyouya's voice snapped out, his hands slamming out a decidely sour chord on the keys.
    "What are you doing in my house?"
    "Well, look who's awake," the twins exclaimed, tossing the paper carelessly aside. "We were afraid you would sleep all day!"
    Haruhi was, predictably, the first to actually apologize. "We didn't mean to intrude," she said, flicking the twins a meaningful look. "Oh-" She began rummaging through a basket on the coffee table and pulled out a few wrapped bundles. "I made more than enough for my own breakfast, and I thought you might like some." As if on cue, a manservant appeared in the other doorway, bearing a tray laden with steaming dishes of food. "Oh. Sorry." Unperturbed, she began repacking the basket. "I'll just save it for tomorrow."
    "We'll try Haruhi's cooking!" the twins declared quickly, eyeing the bundles with a mixture of eagerness and curiosity.
    Haruhi paused, eyeing them. "I thought you already ate."
    "We're hungry again!" And they snatched the food away and began unwrapping it quickly.
    Haruhi shrugged and pulled out a canteen. "Well, there's some tea, too, though it's probably not very hot anymore."
    Kyouya massaged his brow to fend off a threatening headache and motioned to the manservant, who had just set the tray down and was eyeing their guests with a vague air of confusion. "Bring some tea as well," Kyouya ordered, and began collecting the scattered sections of the paper. "That was thoughtful, Haruhi, but unnecessary," he said. "What are the rest of you imbeciles doing here?"
    "Kyouya-senpai is so mean when he's safe in his own home," Kaoru sighed, stealing salt from Kyouya's tray to sprinkle on his omelette.
    "He's always mean, unless he's in front of customers," Hikaru pointed out, grinning impishly. Haruhi's eyebrows rose as she watched him spread ketchup liberally across his eggs.
    "Only kids do that," she commented.
    "It's good to be a kid every now and then," Hikaru quipped. "Ask the King; he's a master of it."
    Kyouya snorted under his breath in agreement and settled himself in his armchair. "You still haven't explained what you're doing here," he pointed out coolly. "I don't recall inviting you."
    "It's a beautiful day, Kyouya!" Tamaki said boisterously, sweeping his arms towards the windows as he strode over from the piano, all smiles. "Come on, a day like this should be spent outside in the sunshine! Why don't we rent the beach? It will be fun!"
    Haruhi winced slightly. "Rent the beach," she muttered to herself. "Rich bastards."
    Kyouya glanced towards Tamaki over his coffee, face unreadable. His gaze flickered momentarily towards Haruhi, and he frowned. Haruhi being here couldn't be a coincidence-- especially with the twins tailing along. Was this her attempt to participate in the game? He hated to shoot her down; if someone were to win, he would rather it be her... But this was probably his best chance at getting his idiot friend to let a few things off his chest.
    "You can leave now," he informed the twins bluntly. Ignoring their loud protests, he turned to Haruhi. "Since you seem willing to offer your services as a cook, maybe you could come by later tonight and try for dinner instead."
    "All right," Haruhi agreed.
    The twins sputtered in an attempt to suppress their snickers at her naiveté.
    They began whispering as they huddled together, scribbling in a notebook. "Oh~ I think someone's in the lead!"
    "Kyouya-senpai wouldn't take advantage of Haruhi, would he?"
    "Hmmm, she wouldn't know til too late. She's a little slow when it comes to things like this."
    "We can come back and watch to make sure she keeps her honor."
    "Do we still have those night vision goggles?"
    "We can hear you, you know," Haruhi said loudly.
    Kyouya ignored them, pinning Tamaki in place with a hard stare. "You and I need to talk. Don't go anywhere."
    Tamaki blinked in confusion. "Uh, all right..."
    "Or maybe someone else will get more points before Haruhi gets a chance," Hikaru whispered loudly as he and his brother watched avidly, pencil poised above the paper in readiness.
    Kyouya turned a glare on the twins, and they were on their feet and dragging a stumbling Haruhi towards the door in a flash. "Keep us updated, Tamaki-senpai~!" they called over their shoulders.
    Kyouya set his coffee down firmly once they were done and settled his arms on the armrests, gazing steadily at his friend, who was picking curiously at the remains of Haruhi's cold breakfast. "What is the matter with you lately?" Kyouya demanded abruptly.
    Tamaki looked up in confusion. "Huh?"
    Kyouya's fingers twitched, but he managed to keep his patience. He wasn't about to let on that he'd already spoken with her. He wanted to hear Tamaki admit it out loud. "You've been moping around in a disgusting manner for weeks." His voice softened a bit as he touched on the sensitive subject. "Is it because you weren't able to see your mother?"
    "What? Oh-- no." Tamaki smiled ruefully at the ketchup-and-egg mess. "I'll see her someday. I know I will."
    Kyouya eyed him keenly. "Then it's Haruhi." He didn't miss the other boy's slight flinch, and bulled on ruthlessly. "You can barely stand to look at her, much less speak directly to her. She, however, seems perfectly fine. What happened? I practically gift-wrapped her for you, and now..." He stopped himself, drawing in a slow, calming breath. He was vaguely surprised at the stab of muted pain that admittance cost him. "If I'd known you were going to throw her aside, I would have stepped in and taken her for myself."
    Tamaki looked up quickly, a mixture of panic and surprise flashing across his face. "Wha-- No!" he practically shouted.
    Kyouya quirked a brow. "You don't really have the right to protest," he murmured. "You obviously have no interest in her anymore. In fact, this game is probably the perfect chance for me to have her, if I wish."
    "You- you don't want Haruhi!" Tamaki sputtered, red-faced. He seemed in complete shock that his friend was expressing any interest in the girl whatsoever. Idiot, Kyouya thought to himself wearily.
    "It seems to me that I want her a bit more than you do," Kyouya pointed out, reaching for his coffee. "Especially if you're so willing to give her up without a fight..."
    Tamaki leapt to his feet, hands fisted at his sides and face red with emotion. "She wouldn't want you anyway," he blurted. "My daughter is too good for someone--" he cut himself off abruptly, but Kyouya snorted into his coffee quietly.
    "For someone like me?" he finished calmly. "And stop referring to her as your daughter; it's tiresome." He glanced at his friend over his mug. "Stop being stupid and tell me what really happened. Did you realize you can't see her as anything other than a friend? Or--"
    "I don't-- She's-- I'm Haruhi's Papa!" Tamaki insisted stridently, looking desperate and a bit wild.
    Kyouya slammed his cup down and stood up, temper stirring. "Tell that to yourself as much as you like," he snapped. "No one else is fooled. Except perhaps Haruhi herself. What happened after that festival? Why are you avoiding her? Whether or not you tell me, the fact remains that you've left her out there for anyone to have--"
    "You can't have her," Tamaki said fiercely, a bit of anger finally showing in his eyes as he glared back. A moment later his shoulders slumped, and his gaze dropped as if in defeat. "Besides, she isn't interested in... being with... anyone right now."
    Kyouya hesitated, watching his friend carefully. "What makes you say that?"
    "Because she told me," Tamaki said in a rush, and sat back down abruptly. He waved a hand vaguely, staring blankly at the eggs again. His voice sounded hollow. "She wants to concentrate on her grades... On her dream. She'd quit the Club if she thought you'd let her. She doesn't want any... 'distractions'."
    Kyouya sat down slowly, studying the other boy pensively. "And that bothers you."
    Tamaki didn't even look up, but neither did he respond.
    "You never made any real move," Kyouya pointed out bluntly. "If she hadn't told you that, and things hadn't changed, do you think you would have tried something?"
    "What are you talking about?" Tamaki mumbled.
    Kyouya gritted his teeth in impatience. "The fact that she told you she won't be dating anyone affected you badly," he said slowly. "Why do you think that is?"
    "Because--" Tamaki hesitated, frowning. "...I don't know," he finally admitted meekly.
    Kyouya opened his mouth to respond, and paused. In his head he quickly went over the conversation he'd had with Haruhi a few days ago. "I don't love him", she'd said. And yes, she'd said she could do without the distraction, especially when she needed to devote so much attention to her schoolwork. But she'd also alluded to an exception... that she would only date if it was someone she cared deeply about. And if she'd even mentioned that, did that mean she had someone in mind, or...?
    There was that irritating twinge again. It annoyed him that he'd been able to ignore it until today. He shoved it away ruthlessly, refusing to explore it any further. "I don't have the patience to put up with your moping," he said firmly, earning a startled glance. "Either fight for her regardless, or put it behind you and move on. Straighten out your feelings and make a decision. And do it soon, because if I see you brooding on a windowsill or sending Haruhi one more kicked-puppy look, I'll--"
    Tamaki burst into laughter so suddenly Kyouya lost his train of thought.
    "Sorry," Tamaki said hastily, fighting back a wry grin. His expression was hard to decipher; he looked upset and relieved and confused all at once. "It's... not something I try to think about too much. You're a mean mother, but maybe you're right. Maybe it'll be easier to understand if I just..." he hesitated, as if unsure just what he should be doing.
    "Go home," Kyouya said firmly, adding a dollop of creamer to his coffee, satisfied that he'd at last talked some sense into the idiot. "Think about it, or try talking to your father. Anything to decide what you're going to do next. Until then, you're useless to the Club, and an annoyance to me."
    "Shut up." Kyouya took an experimental sip of his coffee, eyes drifting towards the paper. "While the rest of these buffoons are trying their hand at this infantile game, you can figure out how you feel so that you know where to go from there. And don't worry about tonight; as tempting as it might otherwise be, I somehow doubt I'm the one Haruhi's interested in. I won't sully her honor... Unless I catch you and those interfering twins crouching in the bushes, in which case, just to spite you, I'll--"
    The coffee was probably going to leave quite an impressive stain in the carpet, as it spilled slowly from the gently rolling cup and seeped into the fibers.
    The thought flickered through Kyouya's numb brain automatically, barely registering. He stared at his friend's face from inches away and tried to unfreeze his body; especially his fingers, still gripping an invisible cup, because he must look pretty foolish.
    Tamaki's fingertips were warm against his cheek and jawline, and he was so close his breath was a puff of warm air against Kyouya's face.
    Belatedly Kyouya's vocal chords restarted. "What are you doing?" he demanded, hating the barely perceptible strain to the words.
    Tamaki flashed a quick, winning smile, only a hint of uncertainty in the backs of his eyes. "You started talking about the Game, which reminded me that I decided to join in. And when Hikaru started talking about points, and you mentioned Haruhi coming over to make you dinner, I realized that if I want to be in the lead, I'd better try a little harder."
    "....I see." Kyouya's eyes slid sideways to stare at the stain in the carpet, then upwards towards the doorway as if to make sure there were no grinning identical smiles hovering by the jamb. He still couldn't seem to get the rest of his body to move, and his brain was still slagging a bit. "Tamaki."
    "...Do you even understand this game?"
    Tamaki hesitated, face screwing up thoughtfully. "It's a lot like being a Host," he finally declared happily. "Although Kaoru did warn me that you probably wouldn't really like to hear much poetry, and you might hurt me if I kissed your hand. Why? Is there a rule against this? I haven't done anything yet."
    "....I don't think you really understand the game," Kyouya said carefully.
    Yet. He said yet.
    Shut up, he ordered his babbling subconscious fiercely.
    And why couldn't he get anything intelligent to come out of his goddamn mouth?
    Belatedly he started to pull away, but Tamaki's fingers wavered only an instant before gripping a little bit harder. The blonde looked confused at the retreat. "Women like it when I touch their face like this."
    "I am not a woman," Kyouya pointed out, tone clipped. He finally forced his gaze upwards, meeting that puzzled gaze. Instead of grounding him, it only served to freeze him up again.
    SHUT UP.
    "I know that," Tamaki huffed. He shifted a bit to settle his weight. He had one knee on the edge of the cusion between Kyouya's knees, the other foot flat on the floor to keep himself upright. "But..." he hesitated, offering a fleeting, sheepish smile. "I don't know how else to do this, so..."
    Kyouya wrenched his eyes away, and found himself glaring at the coffee stain. His fingers were digging into the armrests. "Then don't do anything," he said through clenched teeth.
    "I don't want you to participate in this moronic 'game'," Kyouya snapped.
    Tamaki pouted. "I thought you said we could continue the game because it meant more money for the Club."
    He had? Damn it.
    Had he?
    It was a bit difficult to think properly with Tamaki's breath falling on his face, near his mouth, like before, like--
    As if reading his mind, Tamaki said cheerfully, "Though because of Hikaru at the booth, I think I'm in the lead now! I mean, I didn't plan it, but--" He stopped, eyes widening as if in comprehension. "Oh~ Is that how I gain points?"
    "No," Kyouya said quickly, and tried to pull away again. The fingers refused to relinquish their grip. "Don't be stupid. You stupid half-wit."
    "Quit calling me stupid."
    "You can't possibly be thinking about--"
    "Well, maybe not now," Tamaki admitted slowly, frowning again. "That was an accident, and no offense, but even if you are the Mama, that was a little weird."
    "Although," Tamaki continued curiously, "Hikaru told me the other day that there was nothing wrong with it. He said it's good practice for girls! He said guys do that kind of thing all the time. And did you know girls do it, too? To practice for their boyfriends? Isn't that interesting??"
    "Will you let go of me?"
    "What? You want someone else to win?" Tamaki peered at him suspiciously. "Or did Hikaru already get a point when I wasn't looking?"
    Did the idiot even think about the words coming out of his mouth, or--
    Then suddenly there was pressure against his mouth-- just for an instant. It was quick and hesitant and nothing more elaborate than a peck, but--
    Tamaki pulled back, looking a bit unsure, but smiling anyway. "Am I in the lead again? Because if I do need to think about what Haruhi said, maybe if I win I could get that weekend with her, and..."
    He went on talking, but Kyouya didn't hear him. He stared numbly at his friend, mouth still partially open.
    His lips tingled when the air hit them after that brush of warmth, but at last it galvanized him into action.
    He jerked his head out of Tamaki's loosened grasp and shoved his friend hard.
    Tamaki tumbled to the floor with a startled squawk.
    Kyouya was on his feet an instant later, fists shaking by his sides as he glared furiously down at his friend. "Don't get involved in things you don't understand, you simple-minded brat," he snapped, a bit surprised at the heat behind his words. "How stupid can you be? This type of game isn't for someone like you, who would rather call someone their daughter than admit when they like someone. I'm not going to sit here and let you make a fool of yourself and me just because you need to work out your own problems. Do yourself a favor, 'King'. Look up 'seduce' in the dictionary, then let me know if you're still so intent on participating in this little 'game'."
    His subconscious was babbling frantically. Don't tell him that, that's not the point, listen to what you're saying
    Ignoring it, and turning his back on the gaping boy, he stalked from the room.

Author's Notes: Gaahhh I've been horrible about this fic, but there were a few recent reviews asking for more, and Mami has been hounding me ENDLESSLY O_O about it, so... here's a new chapter ^_^ I'll try not to let there be such a long wait between chapters again ^.^;;

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