Disclaimer: I do not own Host Club…I just play with the lovely characters sometimes to amuse myself.

Spoilers: Mild spoilers for both Tamaki and Kyouya's background in volume 6 of the manga and very slight spoilers for episode 24 of the anime.

Fragments of Rose Colored Glass

sciathan file

Four o'clock, exactly.

…Never so much as missing a single tick of the silver second hand on his watch.

At four o'clock he came here, almost every day, in all conditions of health, by all means necessary. Like clockwork. Predictably, loyally…and - he only dared to think - lovingly.

Exactly as he did everyday, he observed the pristine whiteness of the walls, the polished floor, the faint stinging smell of antiseptic covered over with a perfume of roses, the starched and rustling uniforms of the staff. He noted every single minute detail and mentally recorded it.

Everything was as it should be.

Walking to the desk, he looked at the receptionist sitting behind it, and failing to recognize her, said in a firm voice, "I will be going to suite 1104." It was clearly meant to be a matter of polite formality.

The receptionist, however, missed this fact.

The woman looked over her roster briefly before smiling up at him and stating, "I apologize, Sir, but you can only visit that patient when there is a proper attendant. Unfortunately, both of our attendants have stepped out for the time being, so if you'll kindly take a seat – "

"Iguchi-san!" Came a voice from the other end of the glaringly white corridor at a volume that was just shy of a shout, "You must not know who our honored guest is on account of your recent transfer to this wing!"

The heavy set woman who had said this was moving toward the desk in a way that gave the impression that she was trying to hurry while retaining a nonchalant air about her.

Her strange demeanor was not lost upon the girl behind the desk.

Rather, the receptionist blinked up at the visitor for a moment, as if his name was written on his face somewhere. When the stranger's face remained passive and no explanation was forthcoming, she gave her supervisor a look of poorly veiled alarm.

The older woman, however, having arrived at the desk, merely bowed to the visitor and said, "Ootori-sama, please continue with your normal routine," she made a display of bowing a few more times in deep, feigned apology, saying embarrassedly "I apologize for the inconvenience Iguchi–san caused by her unfamiliarity with the procedures."

Kyouya gave her a polite smile in return and said, with impeccable refinement, "It was really no trouble Matsumoto-san, I'm sure Iguchi-san will become well acquainted with the regulations of this wing in a very short duration of time."

With that, he bowed and left the slightly stunned receptionist and the woman in charge of the wing in his wake.

As he turned the corner, he caught the older woman angrily remarking, "You must be a foolish girl indeed not to have recognized the primary benefactor of this establishment. In the future, you must remember that Ootori-sama comes in everyday at 4 o'clock and had strict orders to be left alone with –"

The doors that separated the reception area and that of the suites beyond closed, cutting off the rest of the impromptu tirade.

Realizing it was rather warm in this wing, he shrugged off his overcoat and slung it over his arm. Once he arrived at his destination, he would do the same with his suit jacket. Until then, conscious of his image and reputation within the establishment, he would keep it on.

He took another turn, footsteps echoing down through the white haze, and approached a set of secure steel doors. Their glinting, hard edges were seemingly the only change in the color within the entire building. Behind these doors, he knew, both from extensively studying the blueprints and floor plan of the wing, but also from a good deal of personal experience, there were two of the most private rooms in the entire building.

The hand scanner glowed green and flashed his name before there was a mechanical rasp of metal on metal and the doors swung slowly open.

Although still firmly awash in the world of clean white, the two doors - one on either side of the small alcove – showed a distinction no other location in the place did. Placing his hand on the sensor in the center of the door - aesthetically hidden under a wreath of fragrant rosemary – he heard a barely audible click as the door opened.

At first, it didn't appear that anyone was actually inside the poshly decorated room. Both Western style couches were bereft of any figures, the king size bed in the corner held no occupant, and not a single person sat in the high backed chairs that surrounded the large, mahogany table that was festooned with a vase of sweet smelling red roses.

Despite the vast visual difference from the outside corridor, the feeling of emptiness seemed to pervade and infest what would otherwise appear to be quite a comfortable location.

Frowning, Kyouya looked around. He walked in, and in a gesture of comfortable familiarity that always felt a little out of place in this room, he removed his sports coat and set it over the back of one of the sofas.

Looking at the wide set of windows, he found exactly who he was looking for. The figure was one dark spot against the wide panel of windows that opened to a view of the mystical phenomenon that is the time of day when afternoon brightness fades into evening in early autumn.

Kyouya found that he couldn't make anything distinct out of the person's silhouetted shape until he drew closer. With the ghost of a sigh, he moved forward, unnoticed by the room's silent and almost moodily brooding inhabitant.

To bring a small degree of unobtrusive attention to his presence, he noisily pulled one of the dining room chairs along the coral colored marble so that the metal stoppers made a quiet shrieking sound as they skimmed along the glossy surface.

Alarmed out of some daydream or another, the person seated on the window seat jerked so violently that he nearly tumbled off his perch.

Kyouya merely smirked as he watched him pick himself up, and arrange his pillows and position into something both visually appealing and more advantageous for receiving visitors. Then he sat for a moment, staring at his new companion in dull comprehension.

Suddenly, he jumped to his feet and burst out, "Kyouya! I'm so glad to see you! Otou-san was the tiniest bit nervous last night and the fact that he didn't get any sleep with such awfully frayed nerves and, such quickly spiraling out of control flashes of anxiety certainly did not help him!" He stood up and rested a hand on his hip while using the other to gesture dramatically, "I felt so sick and weak for lack of my usual degrees of courage that I thought the flower of my youth might fade into the dark night."

Ah, Kyouya thought to himself, it is going to be one of those days.

Leaning back in his chair nonchalantly, Kyouya answered his best friend's worried ramblings with a curt, "You shouldn't worry…I informed you last night that all of the preparations were complete. In fact, I believe I told you that each of the eleven times you called, Tamaki."

"But," he said, putting a fist to his mouth and squirming like a child, "I want everything to be absolutely perfect for my cute and lovely daughter!"

Kyouya chuckled darkly, but while it carried the sound of amusement of some sort with it, at its core the sound contained no real trace of mirth.

"You also told me that multiple times in each one of your unnecessary phone calls. That's why I agreed to meet you earlier than usual today…I figured it would be the only possible way that your idiocy would cease long enough to allow me to sleep."

There was not even the slightest hint of annoyance in Kyouya's voice as he said this. No, that had faded a long time ago from these exchanges.

Tamaki looked at him for a moment, as if processing what had been said. After a moment his face looked like something had just become incandescent inside his brain.

"Ah, I see, I see. That explains why no one has come yet…you agreed to meet me early." He seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, "I thought those unscrupulous twins had managed to drag Haruhi off somewhere and perform some terribly horrible acts on her."

Kyouya simply responded that his mind made no sense whatsoever.

Tamaki, as usual, ignored his pointed comment and spryly sauntered over to the table, plucked a red rose from the vase, and went on about a number of rejected plans for the day's event. He then slowly made his way back to his seat, spouting something about hot air balloons and sunsets over Hokkaido, with a number of spiraling circles and a few steps that looked vaguely as if he was dancing a waltz with himself.

Finally, ending with something about assembling the entire student body and making a general announcement of his intentions, he sat down and affected a look that Suoh Tamaki very rarely displayed – one of serious contemplation.

The rose was, for at least a moment, temporarily forgotten on the seat beside him.

"But then, you know, Kyouya," his eyes were shining with a rare absolute vulnerability, "I realized that Haruhi wouldn't like any of that."

His best friend nodded and said solemnly, not so much as saying a word at what should have been a staggering revelation.

"I just…" he was seemingly distracted by something outside of the window, "I just want her to know that I love her."

"I know, Tamaki."

It was a simple affirmation that he understood because he could no longer say anything more at this part. He had tried once, but the results had been almost disastrous.

Seeming to recover his usual exuberance, Tamaki looked back at him again, even though his tone was solemn, it was combined with the childish gesture of touching both of his index fingers together and continually pressing them against each other at odd intervals.

"I don't know if she will want me or not – as hard as that is for anyone else to imagine - but," he smiled here, the innocent and naïve smile a world of misfortune could not directly touch, "I just want Haruhi to know that I love her."

Kyouya leaned an arm on his knee and balanced his chin on his fist.

"It has been all taken care of Tamaki. All we have to do is wait for her to return from her classes. Other than that, I believe that Mori and Hunny's visit from their college will lure the twins and any others away so that you two will be quite alone…in fact," in a gesture that appeared more threatening than comforting, Kyouya adjusted his glasses with two fingers, "I'll assure you that you will be quite alone with her."

Tamaki looked like a happy, but more than slightly nervous, puppy dog.

"However," Kyouya leaned back, affecting an air of someone who couldn't care less, "the rest will be up to you."

Tamaki smiled idiotically and endearingly. Kyouya very secretly believed that, as long as he smiled at anyone like that, no one would ever have the heart to refuse him.

It was certainly true in this case. He flew through the conversation with every memorized nuance, expression, and gesture.

Now he simply had to wait.

Sure enough, in exactly one minute and forty-seven seconds, he heard the distinctive ring of his cell phone. He bowed cordially to Tamaki and apologized that he needed to take the call. He strolled to the far end of the large room and answered the call in a soft, controlled voice.

"Ootori-sama," came the voice on the other line, "Is Suoh-sama ready now?"

Kyouya glanced back at the window seat and noticed that his friend had, in his absence, pulled his knees up to his chest and rested his head on top of them. He was blushing furiously and seemed to be reciting various lines again and again.

Kyouya sighed audibly into the phone.

"He is as ready as he ever is."

There was a brief, uncertain pause on the other line. The speaker changed tactics.

"I'm glad that you take care of Suoh-sama so well, Ootori-sama. He's always so much more lively after you leave. Even Himeko-chan doesn't have that sort of influence on him."

"That's because I was there that day, and Himeko-chan, understandably, was not."

"Ah, yes, you are, of course, correct Ootori-san. And would Earl Grey suit your taste today?"

Kyouya glanced back to Tamaki, who was now berating himself between his fits of recitation.

"That would be fine, Yamazaki-san. You may come for him in five minutes, as usual."

"As always, Ootori-san."

With one finessed and practiced gesture, Kyouya flipped the phone closed and strolled back to his chair by the window.

He affected as apologetic of a look as he was capable of.

"Tamaki," the man seated on the window looked up, hope and despair fighting for dominance in his facial expression, "Ranka-san just called to notify me that Haruhi has a bit of a cold and may not come in until later in the day."

Alarm won over both warring expressions.

"Okaa-san!" he exclaimed, jumping up and marching with purpose for the door, only to be stopped by Kyouya's hand holding him back with gentle force, "Our precious daughter is ill! We must bring comfort to her in all the ways we are capable of!"

Kyouya sighed inwardly.

"I've already had one of my family's doctors sent to her house, just in case. Your presence there, particularly in your current state of excitement and anxiety, will most likely make matters worse."

Tamaki had the good grace to look a bit guilty at this assessment. He resigned himself with an air of foolish dignity and made only one remark to no one in particular.

"I suppose that our plans will have to wait until her return."

Another rare thing occurred – Tamaki's usual openly expressive countenance took on, for just a fleeting moment, an unreadable expression.

He mumbled a clipped, mostly incoherent phrase, and returned to looking out of the window.

At this point there was a discreet knock on the door. It then opened without so much as an invitation and three women in starched, crisp outfits entered the room.

Tamaki looked on for a moment and then his entire melancholy attitude took on an entirely different shine.

"Ah my princesses! You came to our fair club simply because you missed us so! I must say I am flattered with such attention from the gentler breed such as yourselves."

He charged forward to the group - who blushed demurely at his advances - the rose once again at the ready.

"Actually, Suoh-sama, we were hoping you'd come with us for a moment."

Tamaki affected a flamboyant and graceful bow before gallantly stating, "Of course, this is strictly against the rules but, " he said this last part with a conspiratorial whisper and a roguish wink, "for ladies of incomparable beauty such as yourselves, I will just this once tempt the danger of your burning lips!"

He walked off with two of them, elaborate compliments and bits of French echoing throughout the building until they had walked through the steel doors that separated the private suites from the rest of the wing.

The last one stayed, a small smile playing on her lips as she set a pot of tea and two Western style cups down on the table.

Turning to Kyouya she said simply, "He's the most lively patient we have…exceptionally energetic for a fifty-four year old in his condition."

Kyouya merely nodded. These were the same sort of pleasantries that began each of their conversations.

"Although, Ootori-sama, I think that you are very fortunate to have known him before all of this." She glanced at a series of pictures on the mahogany sideboard before very quietly adding, "She must have meant quite a bit to him."

"The world," he responded, lacking any sort of inflection, without skipping a beat.

"As soon as the tests are complete, the nurses will bring him back. Oh!" She hit her fist in her other hand in a gesture of sudden recognition, "Himeko-chan called and asked us to tell you that she will also be coming to visit him tomorrow morning."

"It will be good for him to see her," he responded. His tone was once again indiscernible.

The nurse smiled a little sadly at him.

"She comes in the mornings when Suoh-sama is a bit more lucid. Sometimes he even remembers her a bit."

"Himeko tells me that he goes on and on about her as a five-year-old. He gushes his love for her with all his usual nonsensical phrases."

It was the only time during the conversation when any sort of emotion at all had colored his tone. However, the nurse frowned at the slightly rude appraisal of what she pictured as sweet paternal love before turning away and looking back at the series of pictures dotting the sideboard again.

"Even though her father has no recollection of her sometimes, she always smiles at him so sweetly when she visits."

Kyouya merely gave a curt affirmative response to this observation knowing that, as she was Tamaki's daughter, it wouldn't be any other way. Even with Haruhi's practicality so firmly engrained in her, that girl would smile at Armageddon exactly like her father.

The nurse, noticing his preoccupied expression at her comments, looked at him a bit nervously, as always, wondering what to do with the person who paid so extravagantly for a man not even related to him to live in such comfort. Kyouya only met her gaze evenly.

Finding that she could not endure under his watchful eyes, with a small, anxious laugh, she looked at her watch and turned back to him with a hospitable smile, while actually looking somewhere over his right shoulder.

"Suoh-sama should return in twenty minutes. If you please, Ootori-sama, you can enjoy the tea here until then."

He bowed formally to her, as always, and said the requisite "I thank you for your hospitality and care, Yamazaki-san."

The nurse returned a hasty, awkward bow and, uniform rustling all the while, hurried out with a little more speed than, perhaps, was prudent.

Nonplussed, Kyouya sat in his customary seat opposite the sideboard, where he could see an entire gallery of familiar faces displayed in gilded frames.

The majority of the photographs were of the various members of the Host Club over the years, with the exception of the one picture Tamaki still possessed of his mother and a graduation portrait with his father.

Besides that, there were photos that marked every single important event and commemorated every single important person in the life of Suoh Tamaki.

There was a photo of him and Tamaki on the day that Kyouya had launched his now world-famous Ootori Hotel Chain, a single shot of Tamaki with his first paycheck in his position as a pre-school teacher, a glossy portrait of the seven members in their uniforms the last day before Hunny and Mori's graduation, a cheap Print Club quality picture of all of them at the Fujikyu Highlands amusement park at the five year anniversary of both the Hitachiin twins' and Haruhi's graduation, a posed and graceful shot of Tamaki and Haruhi's wedding day, a family photo in which he clung to both Haruhi (she looked characteristically annoyed, Kyouya noted with amusement) and his teenage daughter…

…and one simple portrait of only Haruhi. His eyes remained resting on it for a minute.

Taking his eyes away from that portrait, knowing its understated significance, he studied the picture of Himeko. Apart from her blue eyes, the girl might otherwise have passed for someone of pure Japanese blood.

Even now, with both of her parents more or less absent from her life at the age of only twenty-six, she still smiled exactly as she did in the portrait before him.

In fact, with his usual attention to detail, Kyouya noted that her smile and Tamaki's were almost identical.

However, while she shared her father's exuberance for all things positive and shiny, she did not have the same dynamic and widely varying emotional constitution.

Kyouya, one of her five "uncles" - and most likely the one who saw her the most regularly, with perhaps the exception of Kaoru and Hikaru - had only witnessed her cry two times in her life past her infancy.

The first was when she had watched Tamaki give the eulogy at Haruhi's funeral. At first, she had looked on as her father had spoken frankly and honestly about the one woman that he had ever loved, with the fewest theatrics and dramatic turns of phrases that any one who had ever known him had ever seen him use. Her eyes were dry and her expression sober until the very end, when Tamaki had directly addressed Haruhi.

Kyouya thought that the change was quite jarring for her. It was hard to imagine how the father, who had at one time bought her every item she had remotely wanted in the candy aisle of the local supermarket and then had to explain it to his wife when he got home, bore little recognizable similarity to the man who laid out in simple words how he would always miss her mother.

When he had returned to his seat and sat heavily down next to her, wrapping his arms around her shoulders, she had wept burying her head in his chest. Crying strangely silent tears, Tamaki merely held her.

It was as if Himeko knew her father so well that she could guess, exactly as Haruhi always could with important things concerning him, what was coming and held onto him in that moment.

A month and three days after the funeral, Kyouya had received another call from her.

"I'm sorry to bother you, Uncle," there was a strange tremble in her voice, "But could you please come to see Otou-san? He is acting…strange."

At first, Kyouya chuckled and responded as he always did when anyone questioned Tamaki's behavior.

"Himeko-chan, your Otou-san has always acted strange."

"He…he's crying in the corner."

Kyouya had actually smiled at this, at the time. It was a habit Haruhi had broken him of many years ago, citing it was a poor example for his child and a general embarrassment to himself and everyone in the general vicinity when he languished in the corner every time he felt minimally slighted.

When he heard a sob catch in her throat, however, he grew concerned.

"Himeko-chan…what is Tamaki doing, exactly?"

"He keeps shouting that his cute daughter is late and I tell him that I am right here and he doesn't even seem to register that I have spoken to him at all. It's like he doesn't see me. Now he is saying that Kyouya hasn't come yet and if he doesn't come then everything will be ruined. I've tried to calm him down, but he keeps saying these things! But he just keeps going on about his daughter and - "

She stopped suddenly, trying to get the note of hysteria in her voice under control.

Kyouya tried to be as gentle as he knew how to be in his response, "If he is asking for his daughter he may be talking about your mother."

"…Their weird joke?"


"But, Uncle, he knows she's gone. He knows. He's been more depressed than usual these past weeks, but I know that he verifiably knows."

She just kept repeating variations on the phrase again and again. Kyouya hadn't been able to respond with anything more than a "I'll cancel my appointments and have my driver go there directly."

When Kyouya arrived Tamaki had berated him for being late and then exclaimed that, on account of nerves, he hadn't been able to sleep the entire night. Kyouya did his best to soothe over his friend's nerves as best as possible before finding his daughter curled up with her mother's portrait, sobbing in the other room of the small apartment they had shared.

For the last three years of his life, out of all the pictures and days and important events, Tamaki could only solidly and clearly remember one single day in his entire life.

Now the pictures on the sideboard just marked a passing of time and aging that their owner could no longer discern in either their glossy prints of the faces of the friends who came to visit him. He himself only looked at them and, with absorbed rapture, commented on his wedding picture that Haruhi was wearing a dress. In reality, these records of memory only remained there merely to remind anyone else who came that there was more to Suoh Tamaki's life than one day.

It was not even a day most people considered to be the most important day of their lives – it was not the day he had proposed, nor the day he was married, nor the day his only child was born.

It was a day that fit Tamaki's personality – seemingly trivial to all but himself, who the day had meant the world to.

Now all he remembered was the date that he had first confessed to the then Fujioka Haruhi, a commoner scholarship student who had unwittingly fallen into all of their lives, that he loved her.

And, although Kyouya himself didn't completely understand the logic and machinations that had caused his best friend's brain to choose this moment, he understood why Haruhi was the subject of it.

Himeko had said it the best way he had ever heard it phrased because, despite it all, she still maintained that inherited magic bit of positivism that had ensnared Kyouya's worldview so long ago.

When asked, Himeko, a stack of French novellas and shoujo manga under her arm as she went to read to him, had once told her favorite Uncle that "I know he won't ever be fine again." a statement that would never come out of her father's mouth but would have been perfectly in keeping with her mother's infamous bluntness, "but as long as you ask him about her, he's almost like he used to be."

Tamaki had always been, by nature, the one who gathered people together and saved them. It was simply the core of his personality. Haruhi, however, had been the only one that had managed to act on Tamaki as he did on the rest of the world.

Haruhi, as he had told Yamazaki-san earlier in much simpler terms, had effectively been his world and the end of most of his elaborate, overly exuberant efforts.

Kyouya knew with the certainty of having known him for the vast majority of his own fifty-four years that Tamaki's memory hadn't used to be selective – he remembered everything he saw but only selectively expressed it. It was a part of his seeming invincibility. It had allowed him to smile even while he was separated from his beloved mother and ultimately, disinherited from the life he was forced to live.

But, as Haruhi succumbed to the same acute lymphocytic leukemia that had taken her mother when she was ten, Tamaki had finally come up against something that nothing he could do and no position he could affect could alter the course and outcome of.

Kyouya looked back at the portrait in which Haruhi smiled alone.

It was supposed to have been for a memorial altar. Himeko had originally taken it here in order to set it up in her mother's honor, knowing that Tamaki was unable to do it.

Tamaki, however, had thrown an angry fit in which his daughter (whom he kept referring to as a "princess of ill-breeding," ironically) had been unceremoniously tossed from his suite and he had demanded to see the others who were responsible for what he perceived as both a cruel joke and repulsive slur on Haruhi's honor.

Kyouya himself had been jarred by the report of his friend's uncharacteristic anger.

The situation had gotten so far out of hand that, as the contact number in lieu of his daughter, they had called him at a business meeting in Okinawa. Without explanation, he told his younger son to take over the meeting and flew aboard his private jet back to the small convalescent home.

Tamaki had not calmed down in the two hours since the initial phone call, and although his orders were strictly to the contrary, one of the nurses said that he was so out of control that they might have to sedate him.

Somehow, with one phone call to friends, Kyouya had managed to convince him that it was a joke in incredibly poor taste by the twins. As he handed him the phone to speak to them to complete the illusion, Tamaki then dealt out insults and particularly harsh punishments without allowing a word in edge-wise. This continued until Kyouya heard Hikaru murmuring something about him having become a mindless nutcase and, immediately taking control of the situation, Kyouya thought it wise to end the ruse.

He then made sure that Hitachiin Industries received a particularly large account with his European hotel chain.

That was when they all became incredibly conscious of how bent Tamaki was on keeping his wife very much alive.

His invincibility had now taken another turn. There was no Haruhi for him to remain close to anymore and that, for even the unreal dynamo of positivism that Tamaki was, would always remain far too much for him to take.

Rather, his mind had taken the rose colored glass that he had used to see the entire world with and shattered it, allowing him to view only one shard.

Within that one shard Suoh Tamaki was still untouchable.

But Kyouya knew that even though he had retained that one splinter, the rest of the broken pieces had been swept up and thrown away.

The door to the suite opened with a crash as Tamaki rushed back inside, interrupting Kyouya's reminiscing.

"Kyouya!" he called, running up to him, gesturing elaborately all the way. The nurses exited the room with their customary giggles and sighs. Some things, thought Kyouya with dark amusement, never would change.

Tamaki leaned on the table, one hand raised and gesturing expansively.

"I just saw the most wondrous utopia of Commoner medical wisdom shown to me by our lovely princesses - truly an experience you should have been there for, due to the nature of your family's business…you might find the way in which the common folk receive medical attention to be quite enlightening! I was even allowed the privilege of sampling such reserves of bountiful knowledge!"

"Somehow Tamaki," Kyouya said, standing up and walking towards the window, "I doubt I would find as much amusement with it as you."

The conversations all continued with slight variations and rhetorical flourishes. Kyouya's responses were all tailored according to this well-practiced script. He had deviated once from it, a long time ago, but that had left the other man looking at him in confusion, trying to reconcile what he knew with a fact that now was.

He had never allowed it to happen again after that.

Kyouya sometimes wished he could explain to him again that medical knowledge had to do with his family's business…not the hospitality industry where he had carved out his a name for himself through his own merit.

That was what Tamaki had actually wanted for him all of those years ago, when he had accused Kyouya of giving up too soon. Ever since then, be it in the race for his family's business or in the stiff competition between hotel chains, he had silently and stoically honored that.

Thinking this, he suddenly thought of a brief conversation he had shared with Haruhi on the evening of her wedding reception.

"Kyouya-senpai," she had asked cautiously, using the honorific that she used for both him and Tamaki until Himeko's birth, "Yesterday, trying to do some paper work at the bank, I found that Tamaki had some very well disguised stocks linked to his accounts."

Kyouya smiled and answered her simply, "That's a rather interesting thing to have found."

Haruhi looked a tad bit annoyed with him. She was not one to mince words. She sent Tamaki to do that.

"Why would you do that for him?"

Kyouya gave her a quick penetrating glance and said, attempting to evade the question entirely, "Call it a wedding present."

Haruhi knew him all too well and said doubtfully, "These date back far too long and," she grumbled, "You already bought us our entire china set for our wedding gift."

Under her gaze, he wouldn't even dare smirk. Haruhi was almost as dangerous as Tamaki in these situations…she just noticed more of the practical concerns than her, now husband, did.

"Senpai," she said, seriously, with only a tiny hint of her former annoyance, "Really…why would you do such a thing for him?"

This question had nothing whatsoever to do with stocks.

In a rare display of trust, Kyouya answered with enigmatic truth.

"Because without Tamaki I would be nothing."

He doubted she understood the full implication of the phrase, but Haruhi being Haruhi knew enough not to inquire further.

Perhaps knowing her, she knew it was wiser not to know all of the notorious Shadow King's secrets.

Suddenly, looking up at Tamaki, he noticed that his friend was now staring at the door to the room sadly. It seemed as if any sort of life that had somehow managed to thrive in the room had mysteriously evaporated into the pleasantly colored marble tiles.

"I'm not going to be able to tell her today."

Kyouya did his best to give him what he hoped liked like a genuine smile at his friend's statement.

"Don't worry, Tamaki. I'm sure she is waiting for you."

He watched as a look of uncertainty crossed his friend's face and continued on.

"I'm sure that your outcome will be more favorable than whatever depressingly impossible scheme you have dreamt up in the event of a failure on your part."

At the mixed comment, he looked as if he was debating on either pulling Kyouya into one of his now rare - though excruciatingly painful - embraces or hiding in the corner at the correct assumption of the goings on within his head.

He looked rather guilty at any rate.

Tamaki took a seat within the chair and, with one of his usual mood changes that spanned mere seconds, smiled up at him.

"You're usually right Okaa-san…" and he said, leaning on his fist and smiling listlessly at the rows of pictures on the sideboard, "At least I'll have done my best."

In Kyouya's opinion, the evidence of him having done so was already around him. No confirmation was needed from him. He merely headed over and slipped his arms into his sports coat before returning to the table.

And, like every day, Kyouya bent down and kissed Tamaki tenderly on the top of his head.

And, like everyday he had done so before, Tamaki looked up at him, confusion lingering in his eyes. Kyouya would then smile at him, genuinely, but sadly.

He would never once utter the words "I love you" to the man in front of him. Those words were far too sacred for a place like this.

And, Kyouya knew that now, those words had no real place to go.

He gave a rather abrupt good-bye as Tamaki stared after him, just as the visits had ended for as long as Kyouya could remember coming for them.

Tomorrow Tamaki would not remember anything that had occurred today, or yesterday, or last week…or for the last three years of his life. And, barring a miracle, he never would.

Tomorrow Tamaki would not remember that his best friend had been kissing him on the top of the head for the last three years because he would once again be back in the Third Music Room worrying over why Haruhi was late.

Kyouya wondered if there would be a day he would only remember her…and no one else.

Of course, when Kyouya thought "no one else" he simply meant himself.

His words to Haruhi had been the most candid truth he had ever said on the matter – without Tamaki he would, indeed, be nothing.

So, as Tamaki's world dimmed to a single bright fragment, so did his.

As he passed through the lobby once more, the young nurse on duty handed him the usual charts as he walked out of the building, leaving Tamaki to wait for Haruhi by the window of his room.

The woman with the seemingly imperturbable demeanor and starched gown smiled and told him, "Other than the obvious problems, the tests have shown that Suoh-sama is in impeccable health. He might live on for years still."

A strange feeling of exhilaration, which was almost immediately overwhelmed entirely by a feeling of horrid dread, sparked within Kyouya's mind.

His expression, however, showed neither of these reactions.

Rather, Kyouya accepted the folder from the woman with an unreadable mask on his face.

He put on his overcoat and left the building without another word.


A/N: First and foremost, I'd like to thank elvaron for her help on this…and listening to me whine about all my insecurities regarding this incredible departure from anything I've ever done. Hearts and sparkles for her! 3

This idea came to me while contemplating the lyrics to the song "Ellsworth" by Rascal Flatts while sitting in a sign shop waiting for an order. In tribute to that song, a sentence of the chorus was paraphrased in the final part. But, I do believe this is the most depressing thing I have ever written….I kinda want to cry reading it over again ;; This is also, as you may have noticed, a rather twisted response to episode 24 of the anime…which made me squee like a sugar high fangirl in happiness and then write this. My brain has an extreme disconnect somewhere…

It's also my first venture into a blatant slash pairing…but really, in my opinion, Kyouya belongs to Tamaki…I have been converted. And, come to think of it, I don't believe there has ever been a kiss written into, well, anything I've written.

Also, I didn't want to make it readily apparent what was, in actuality, happening. I wanted to give you some disconcerting information that seemed a little off, but reveal the reasons for it little by little…the first hint of what exactly is wrong with Tamaki is the wreath of rosemary on the door of his suite…rosemary for remembrance…hopefully I fooled you a little!

But above all, this is part of my constant crusade to show that none of the characters' situations in Host Club exist in isolation from each other…the principle tragedy in this is actually Haruhi's death which spawns a lot of multi-faceted tragedies. This ultimately effects not only Tamaki, but Kyouya, Himeko, and through the telephone exchange with the Hitachiin twins, it is implied that it effects the other members of the club.

I also wanted to try my hand at a realistic tragedy…not too angsty and not too trivial…just, something that felt real with undertones of sadness.

Okay, it is more than time for me to stop rambling now.

Thank you to all who read, and I hope you got some enjoyment out of it!