Kyoya is easily my favorite character in OHSHC, and easily my favorite parts of the anime and manga are the rare glimpses when he abandons all pretenses and speaks from the heart. This is a collection of 5 conversations where he does just that. The conversations will mostly be with canon characters, although they all take place in the same universe as my other stories.

Come on and let it all out, let it bleed,
Did you get what you want? Did you get what you need?
I'm behind the lines, behind the walls,
Tell me what's the bet you made, was it that bad after all?
White knuckles, maybe it's not so bad.

-"White Knuckles," OK Go

It was early spring in Tokyo, and the cherry blossoms were at their peak bloom. It was the kind of night on which Suoh Tamaki, the Host Club King, would have typically organized a hanami party, giving in to his urges to share beauty with all those around him—regardless of their level of interest. But not tonight. It was early spring in Tokyo, but it was spring break in America, and more specifically, at Harvard. Kyoya was home.

The group had gathered at the Hitachiin mansion. As was typical, Hitachiin Yuzuha and her husband were gone, so the boys had the run of the whole place. But tonight they were holed up in Hikaru's room with a couple cases of beer and some much-needed conversation.

Kyoya was perhaps not quite drunk, but he definitely wasn't sober either. He almost never surrendered this much control, but the last few months had been so hard, and so lonely. After the rest of the Host Club had returned to Japan, the enormous gap between American and Japanese culture had hit him harder than he'd anticipated. Six months in to his college career, he found himself with plenty of classmates and acquaintances, but no real friends. So just for tonight, back with the boys he'd always considered better than brothers, he'd decided he could afford to let go let go a little.

He considered the six original members of the Host Club. He knew many people assumed Tamaki gathered together the scions of the most important families in the school, who were also some of the most important families in Japan. It wasn't an unreasonable assumption; it's what Kyoya would have done, and Tamaki, despite his somewhat dizzy exterior, was more than smart enough to recognize the advantages such a group would bring any of its members. But what Tamaki had done instead, in his typical fashion, was to gather together the loneliest, most damaged boys in the school and forge them into a family. With the possible exception of Mori, there wasn't one of them who didn't find in their strange brotherhood a level of acceptance and affection that had eluded them for most of their lives. Kyoya would probably never tell him so, but he loved Tamaki fiercely for that.

"Where's Haruhi?" Kyoya had asked when he'd first shown up, seeing Tamaki already installed and holding court.

"Studying, of course. She's on track to get a full-ride scholarship for pre-law at not just Ouran University, but several other prestigious schools as well," the blond had replied, pride in his girl evident in his voice and the beaming grin on his face.

Kyoya hid a smile. He adored Haruhi, of course, as they all did. But he was grateful to her for bowing out tonight and allowing them to have the kind of free-flowing, no-holds-barred conversation that would have been impossible in mixed company. Although he could have lived without the turn this particular conversation had taken.

"Come on, Kyoya. It's your turn. Describe your perfect woman."

"Pass," he said firmly, taking another long pull off his beer. "Hikaru, you go." He knew the elder Hitachiin would need no urging; he'd always had a mouth on him, and as he gained more confidence in his independence, he was starting to reveal an impressively filthy mind.

"Big tits," Hikaru said, taking a swig of his own beer.

"Obviously," his twin said dismissively.

"No, I mean HUGE. Big enough to get lost in for days." He demonstrated the approximate size he had in mind with his hands. "And a perfect, soft little mouth."

"And?" Kaoru prompted.

"What do you mean, and? What else is there?"

"Tits and a mouth. That's your perfect woman?" Mori rumbled.

"I think you're missing at least one or two other essential body parts, there," Kyoya remarked sarcastically

"No, no, no!" Tamaki interjected. "The object of this isn't to indulge in crass sexual fantasies."

"That's right," Huni agreed. "We're supposed to describe our Perfect. Woman. Our other half. Not some adolescent sex doll, Hikaru."

"It's fine for you two to talk," Kaoru defended his brother. "You have girlfriends."

"Yeah, some of us have no recourse other than our imaginations," Hikaru grumbled. Tamaki turned beet red as that implication set in, but Huni just grinned.

Mori simply shook his head. "Just because one has a girlfriend doesn't mean one necessarily is having sex." Under his breath, he added "Idiot twins."

"The counterfactual is also true. I'm surprised at you, Hikaru; I would have thought you at least would have figured that out by now." Kyoya put in.

"Wait. Hold up, senpai! Are you saying …" Kaoru couldn't even finish the sentence.

"American girls are considerably more generous with their favors than Japanese girls, or at least more so than the ones in our particular circle," Kyoya said smugly.

"Okay, that is it," Tamaki said, leaping to his feet a bit unsteadily. "No more prevaricating, Kyoya. You're on tap."

"Why bother?" Kyoya affected an attitude of extreme boredom. "It would be merely academic. Unlike the rest of you assholes, I actually have responsibilities to my family that preclude such useless imaginings."

Tamaki narrowed his eyes, and Kyoya cursed internally. Tamaki could always tell when something was really bothering him. He'd been like that since they were 14. He'd go along, acting like an idiot with his outsized plans and dreams of grandeur, and when you least expected it—bam! He'd turn around and just eviscerate you with his keen observations. Kyoya put his chances of getting Tamaki to drop this subject at well under 10%.

"Come on," Tamaki pressed. "Pretend, just for a second, that you're not an Ootori. That the future is wide open. Your perfect woman. Go."

"Big tits. A soft little mouth. Among other attributes."

"Be serious. And don't copy Hikaru, of all people."

"Why are you so obsessed with this, Tamaki?" Kyoya was starting to get upset, and the alcohol was making it more difficult than usual to hide it.

"Because you have a nasty habit of settling for what you think you can get rather than going after what you really want," Tamaki said, ignoring the dumbstruck looks on the faces of the four other boys in the room. Out of the corner of his eye, Kyoya caught Hikaru start to open his mouth, but Huni elbowed him sharply.

Kyoya frowned. He remembered his sister, Fuyumi, on her wedding day. Her eyes wide and bright with unshed tears, insisting We're so in love, and it's going to be so perfect, Kyoya. I've never been happier. When she'd been unable to prevent the tears from making an appearance at her reception, she claimed they were tears of joy. He could still recall the expression of disbelief on his brother-in-law's face. Right then and there, he'd figured out the most important quality he needed in any future partner; the ability to deal with the necessary and inevitable realities of their situation.

"Kyoya," Tamaki insisted, bringing him back to the present. "We're waiting."

"Why make me imagine something I can never have? What possible purpose can that serve?" Kyoya asked, his voice ragged and low. The other boys were silent; it felt like it was just him and Tamaki in the room.

"You have no idea what the future may hold. Don't be so quick to limit yourself."

Oh, fuck it all, he thought. Why not pretend for the night? "Smart. She'd have to be smart. Smart enough to actually keep up with me. Do you have any idea how acutely and painfully boring it is to be able to anticipate every word out of a girl's mouth? I want someone smart enough that I can't manipulate her." He took a long pull on his beer.

"Smart. What else?" Tamaki asked, his voice carefully neutral.

Kyoya closed his eyes, thinking. "She'd have to be able to deal with my family. Stand up to them, but not so obviously that she steps on anyone's toes. She'd stand up to me. Smart enough to understand me, and strong enough to tell me when I'm making a mistake. But not mean. She'd be kind. Sweet. Passionate. Ambitious. Someone who gets my sense of humor. She loves music as much as I do. She's warm enough to counterbalance my coolness. She's not intimidated by me." He opened his eyes, half-wishing he could take back the torrent of words, half-relieved he was even capable of imagining a perfect girl in the first place.

"Are girls usually intimidated by you, Kyo-chan?" Huni asked quietly.

"Hell, senpai, I think half the girls I sleep with only do it because they're intimidated by me." Catching Mori's disapproving glare, he amended, "Maybe intimidated is the wrong word. But even in America, where my name means pretty much nothing to your average Harvard student, they're attracted to power. Not to me." He took another swig of beer, only to find the bottle empty. Hikaru silently handed him another one.

"Do you sleep with … with a lot of girls, Kyoya-senpai?" Kaoru's voice was half-envious, half-sympathetic, as if he knew the driving force behind his friend's hookups was as much loneliness as lust.

Kyoya gave a small bark of laughter. "Define sleep." No one answered. "Why do you morons always insist on sticking your noses where they don't belong? Not enough girls to get a bad reputation, but more than you could count on one hand. Never more than twice with the same girl. Subject. Fucking. Closed." He looked around. Hikaru's and Kaoru's mouths were hanging open. Mori still looked disapproving. Huni looked sad. He avoided looking at Tamaki. Fat lot of good that did.

"Why?" Tamaki asked.

"I'm 19 and reasonably healthy. I think you can figure the why out for yourself, dumbass."

"This from the guy who doesn't do anything without a reason? From the guy who made self-discipline into an art form?" Tamaki was relentless. "Cut the crap, Kyoya. Why?"

"Because they're there. And they're convenient and willing. Because it is so goddamn lonely over there, and sex makes that go away, at least for a little while.

"I never really figured out how to make friends. People always tried to be friends with me, because of my family. And then after you came, Tamaki, I just rode your coattails. Let's face it—none of you would be friends with me today if it weren't for Tamaki. So now I'm over there, and no one is particularly impressed that I'm an Ootori. And sure, I can put on a good face, but-" he stopped, helplessly.

"But what?" Tamaki pressed.

"Now I know what real friendship looks like. And a pale imitation just isn't enough for me, not anymore."

"Kyo-chan, you're wrong. We all would have been friends with you," Huni insisted.

"But would I have been friends with any of you, Huni-senpai?" Kyoya asked, pausing to drain the bottle. "Not just the surface bullshit because of our families, but actually friends? God, even Tamaki and I wouldn't have been friends if it wasn't for our families pushing us together." This time it was Kaoru who handed him a fresh bottle, and he took another long, relentless drink. Fuck it. I'm not going to make it home tonight anyways, so I might as well go all out. "No one at Harvard cares about my family; or at least not anyone I can see being friends with. But there's no family name and no shining prince to smooth the way for me now. All I can manage is empty pleasantries and one-night stands. And I am sick to death of it."

"Why don't you just come home, if things are that bad?" Kaoru asked.

"Because that would mean I've given up, which would be worse than anything. I can't ever afford to be seen as a failure in my father's eyes. And it's not like I'd see you guys all that much more often than I see you now." He drank more. "At least over there I can sleep with a girl over there without worrying about when it's going to come around and bite me in the ass. About when I'm going to run into her father or older brother at some social event, or worse, meet her in an omiai."

"I thought you just said you were sick of one-night stands," Mori pointed out.

"Yes, well, evidently not so sick of them as to voluntarily choose celibacy. Sure, it's empty and meaningless, but god! It's nice to at least have the option of forgetting how goddamn lonely I am for a night."

"You know, I never cared about your family," Tamaki said suddenly. "I mean, my father did, and my grandmother did, and of course I wanted to make them happy by being friendly to you. But like I told Haruhi once, I'm me before I'm a Suoh. And being your friend, your best friend, rather than just being friendly? Your family never even once entered into it." Tamaki took a meditative swig of his own beer. "Your façade was so perfect, without a single crack. I just knew someone fascinating had to be lurking behind it. And I was right. Look at you! You're bad-tempered, calculating, arrogant, a complete workaholic, and ambitious to a fault."

"Wow, Tamaki. I feel so much better."

"I wasn't finished. You're also deeply compassionate, brilliant, and probably the most loyal friend I've ever had, which is saying something," Tamaki spread his arms wide, indicating the other boys present. "You're insightful, and if you're ambitious to a fault, you're also generous to a fault." When Kyoya opened his mouth to protest, he cut him off. "Don't think I don't know about the 'bonuses' you've been arranging for Ranka to receive in his paychecks."

"Shit," Kyoya muttered, somewhat unreasonably embarrassed at having been caught. "He doesn't know, does he?"

"Of course he knows. He's far from stupid. But I convinced him that taking your help would be an act of kindness to you," Tamaki said. "He's more likely to take it from you than from me, at least until Haruhi and I are married. My point is, Kyoya," he continued seamlessly, "you don't need me. Your positive qualities speak for themselves. But that's not your problem."

"Oh? And I suppose you know what my problem is, Daddy?" Kyoya said nastily, clinging to the faint hope that if he were glacial enough Tamaki would drop the subject.

"Of course I do, Mommy. You keep everyone at arm's length because you are absolutely terrified of the risk involved in letting someone in. Particularly a woman; particularly, god forbid, a woman you might fall in love with."

"Fuck off," he snarled. "You have no idea, any of you, how easy you have it. How straight your paths lie. Oh sure, you have an obstacle or two here and there, but nothing insurmountable. I've been gambling my entire life, and I've had to make contingency plans for every possible outcome. I'm laying the groundwork for at least four different scenarios that probably won't come to fruition for at least another ten years. So don't you dare presume, Tamaki, don't you dare fucking presume to tell me that I should just abandon everything and follow my heart."

"I am not a complete idiot, Kyoya," Tamaki said calmly. "That might happen to be the best advice I could possibly give you, but I am not such a fool as to think you would bother to take it. I know you better than that. But—there is friendship, you know. There does exist a middle ground between semi-anonymous sex and passionate love, and that middle ground is well within your reach without requiring any sacrifice of your ambitions."

"What the hell do you know about it, Tamaki?" Kyoya asked wearily.

"Just because I'm in a committed relationship doesn't mean I don't talk to other people, you know." His voice held the merest bite. "It doesn't mean I don't have eyes to see what is going on around me."

"Tama-chan's right, Kyoya," Huni said seriously. "Think about Spain. Your father relied on you precisely because of your strong friendships. The only person who is asking you to cut yourself off from the rest of humanity is you."

"Senpai, you know that we want you to have friends in America, right?" Kaoru said suddenly.

Kyoya turned with an icy glare. "I don't need your permission, Kaoru."

"Of course not," the younger boy replied easily. "I know that you know any friendships you form could never replace what we have together. Making new friends wouldn't be the slightest betrayal of us. Obviously you know that. I'm just reminding everyone that you know that."

Kyoya stayed silent, not trusting his voice. Despite what he said about not needing permission, hearing Kaoru's words lifted a weight off his shoulders that he hadn't even been aware was there.

"Your world is so much larger than you let yourself think," Tamaki said quietly. "And the risks are never quite as dire as you imagine them to be. No matter what else happens, you will always have us, mon ami. And we will always have your back. There is nothing in this world that could change that."

"Thank you." Kyoya stared at the floor, not daring to meet anyone's eyes. "If it wasn't for you guys, I think I might have cracked up quite a while ago. I owe all of you a debt that can never be repaid."

"Don't fool yourself into thinking we don't all owe that same debt," Mori said unexpectedly. "There's a word for it: family."

"Family," Hikaru echoed firmly. "Not milord's stupid incestuous imaginings, but family nevertheless. Brothers."

"Who are you calling stupid and incestuous?" Tamaki said hotly. "I never noticed you complaining before Haruhi and I got together. And my love for her is still as pure and strong as a father for his daughter!"

"Really?" Hikaru shot back. "So you won't mind if I sneak over to her place later tonight? Because a father has no place in his daughter's room late at night, right?"

"Idiot twin, that's not what I meant! Our love is pure, not asexual!"

"Stupid milord, do you really think Haruhi would be okay with you spilling tales of your sexual conquest to us?" Kaoru joined in.

"That's not … that's not …" Tamaki sputtered. "That's none of your business!" he finally managed. "And why are you laughing, Kyoya? As my best friend, you're supposed to be on my side!"

Kyoya finally stopped laughing long enough to catch his breath. "You really are a bunch of idiots," he said happily.

Author's Note:So there is the first conversation. Updates to this will be extremely periodic, as I am still working on my other current story, S'Wonderful. So far I have 5 conversations in mind, but I'm willing to entertain the idea of requests. No promises, though. :)