Disclaimer: I don't own Host Club. But I can draw some gnarly stick figures with snarky dialogue. The lyrics that gloss each part are from Patty Griffin's heartbreaking song "Mother of God." I don't own them either.

Spoilers: Tamaki's family background in Volume 6 of the manga and episode 25/26 of the anime. Slight spoiler for volume 8 of the manga.

Warnings: This is a background story fic, and thus, OCs and imaginative scenarios abound...if they are not your cup of tea than consider yourself warned. Also, I favor the manga's characterization of Suou Yuzuru over the anime's.

For namistai8 Gift wraps Yuzuru and shoves him towards her

Simple as Boys and Girls

sciathan file

I. It's Saturday at the Mansion / The Oldest Boy Walks with a Slouch

He had come there with no intention of doing anything but representing the Suou Family by re-affirming their long-standing arrangements and, if possible, establishing new relationships within the French market. The list had been drilled relentlessly into his head for the month prior to his departure.

It was, simply put, all that Suou Yuzuru had been told to do and, even if her ideas concerning familial propriety did seem extreme every now and then (and this was perhaps, he generously thought, due to the recent death of his father), his mother was not someone to be disobeyed.

Even before his father's unexpected passing, it was always his mother's words that were spoken with his father's voice. It was simply the kind of woman she was – a woman who stared down the disagreeable elements of the world with haughty and unflinching grace.

But one could never call the forthright quality she had anything but "grace" and she never seemed to visibly step over any boundaries.

She was the unsmiling dynamo behind the Suou family, who in no way took lightly the honor attached to the family name that she had received upon acceptance of her marriage to the late family head.

Their marriage had been for that purpose and that purpose alone – perpetuate the family line, honor good breeding, fortify business relations – and, upon his father's death, he knew very well that he was expected to accomplish the same things.

Yuzuru had done all he was asked to without complaint.

He had married a woman of excellent breeding and secured a major bank merger. His wife was polite and publicly gracious – the very model of the demure spouse of an elite businessman, with just enough of a dull wit to make her seem charming – and, privately, she was very much the object of the business transaction that everyone understood her to be. Yuzuru would often joke with her that she was "all business," with a wry smile.

She never found the joke to be funny in the least.

The woman merely retired to her own self-imposed solitude in the mansion – simply known as Suou #2 – that she had been allotted by her marriage.

Love and emotion were not prerequisites for marriage when one had a name to uphold.

To her and everyone else of his class, these were merely given details that someone of station accepted without question. Marriage was inherently pragmatic and functional, divorced from personal endeavor and linked to collective prosperity…especially if one was the head of an elite family.

And, despite a slight, hazy sense of rebellion that often caused him to make slightly pointed, sardonic comments about how marriage transactions occurred in a very literal sense (always out of the presence of his mother, of course), he too accepted it as a fact of reality.

Despite all he did, however, his mother merely continued to look at him and say, "You are still a fool to think that I shall let you control the board as you are…you still have very far to go."

Even if this trip to France was a small vote of confidence in his favor – very small considering that he was only allowed to meet with a group of fairly small investors, but none of the Suou family's main international allies – he knew that his mother wouldn't be pleased by just small achievements.

She was a woman who smiled only when prudent – a practiced, dainty upturning of the lips without the slightest trace of mirth. Yuzuru could not even remember a time when she had smiled because of him…no matter what he did to try to please her.

He simply told himself that she didn't smile at anyone else either…

But even that was a small consolation because, he remained a fool who was assigned to the periphery of the Suou empire where he could appear to be handling all of the duties of the male heir without having any impact on anything of great consequence.

His mother, of course, was very tactful if nothing else.

And this is why he found himself half listening to the strains of Mozart and making small talk in French with several would-be business associates (Yuzuru could only banter about any business arrangements rather than actually executing them, knowing that his mother would dismiss most of these men as being, ultimately, unfit to associate with the Suous) in the Bontecou Estate.

So far he had found himself more an object of curiosity – he caught several tittering laughs and half hushed sentences about Japanese politeness throughout the evening – than anyone regarded as a powerful business figure.

This, would be, he thought wryly, what his mother would call "necessary social niceties." Ah, but she always did have a flair for economy of expression when it came to her distaste for, presumably, the entire human race…Yuzuru himself would have grimaced and, with an ironic lilt in his voice, said more of less what he actually thought with a good deal of verbal gilding over it.

He moved to escape to the fringes of the chattering group.

However, a French gentleman – Cholmondeley, did he say? – accosted him with a vague preamble and then launched into a long discussion on his opinions of the current bout of American neo-imperialism and its effects on the global market. Skillfully, Yuzuru held a serious frown on his face and gave the appropriate empty phrases that sounded as if they meant something of great importance at all of the right times during the conversation, nodding intermittently at the points the man emphasized with a pump of his fist. When it came time for his response, he rephrased the main points of the argument with lavish verbal decadence and gave a deceptively neutral treatment of all those he found disagreeable.

In effect, what his mother called "necessary social niceties" were nothing more than boring exercises in rhetoric.

And, although the Cholmondeley gentleman should have, by all rights, been done with the topic according to the tacit rules of such rhetorical social conversations, he continued on by emphatically stating several unrelated points with ridiculous conviction. What topic he was on now, Yuzuru himself could hardly say.

More polite nodding and smiling – with an occasional shallow remark – was done before Yuzuru managed to excuse himself to get some more champagne and the man moved on to his next…victim.

Finding a quieter corner, away from the possibility of any more spewings of half reasoned, but very vocal, opinions, he relaxed for a moment and merely listened to the piano music.

The Mozart piece had ended and there was a brief pause before a new song began. Taking a sip from his glass, Yuzuru noticed that that was a very subtle shift of interest in the pianist's direction.

Listening, he understood why.

The melody was a strong flow of runs of notes, blending together on top of bittersweet chords. Like a cherry blossoms floating on a river, his mind poetically supplied. There was something energetic about it…with a subtle undertone of tranquility.

It was not a composer he recognized at all - and being a Suou he had been thoroughly educated in such matters - and above the sea of heads of dancers and mingling guests in cocktail finery he could not so much as see the piano, let alone the pianist that played it.

A woman, smoking absorbedly in the far reaches of the little alcove seemed to notice his interest.

"She's very good, no?"

The woman spoke flawless – if brash - English.

Yuzuru gave a small start and turned to her, calling on another aspect of his linguistic prowess, before saying, "I am not quite familiar with the piece, but it is quite the blossoming melody…and the pianist obviously displays a marvelous degree of skill."

The woman gave a small, husky laugh before taking another draw of her cigarette and blowing a smoke ring in Yuzuru's direction.

"It is obvious you've never heard it, as I have never seen you here before…But, Pierre Bontecou indulges his daughter's compositional skill at his little gatherings. He quite humors her fancies and plays the loving, though occasionally absent, father."

"I should go compliment the lady on her wonderful playing," he said politely.

The woman chuckled again. "Rather, you mean, compliment her father on his business assets…That is presumably why you're here."

Yuzuru quite thought he liked the candor of these people…even if the sentiment was a bit…off. He brushed off the comment with a light laugh.

"That may well be," he made an elaborate gesture with his hand that was suited more to fan the smoke away from him than to emphasize any point, "But one must also have the poise and temperament that is necessary for pursuing the fine pleasures in life."

"Ah, a business man, as I suspected."

Yuzuru bowed with a small flourish and introduced himself. The woman's eyes grew wider. He meant to add an excuse so that he could go meet the pianist and compliment her, but he was interrupted after the last syllable of his name was uttered.

"You're a Suou…and here?"

Seeing the woman's obstinacy fade with the mere mention of his name was both gratifying and a bit disturbing. While he found the woman's attitude a bit brusque, he never could feel anything more than disappointment when he was simply reduced down to "Suou" when moments before he had been another mere human being engaging in normal social banter.

The woman seemed to recover herself and the inevitable followed…she introduced her company and began to give a sales pitch about how the Suou Empire could benefit from her product.

Yuzuru merely tried to keep his attention towards the piano piece that had now picked up in tempo and was hurrying on towards the cadence that would announce the end. His sense of urgency increased with the fast paced rhythms and, with a rare display of utter impatience, his mind tried to formulate any sort of excuse to be rid of the woman and her electric resistors.

The music stopped.

Yuzuru gave a half mumbled excuse – probably something about how he would be sure to contact the woman in the future after a discussion with the board – and began walking towards the area of the piano at a pace that was probably too brisk for the mild-mannered social environment he was in.

But applause was still going on in scattered bursts.

A waiter came by and asked if he would like a wine class, he took it with a curt thanks to avoid further conversation and continued to weave his way through the crowd, dodging attempts to start polite conversations with all of the opportunistic vultures who recognized him.

All he wanted at that moment was to see who had created that music.

Over the head of a woman in a scandalously low cut dress, he saw the black shine of the grand piano and – more impressions and blurs than concrete images – the form of a woman in blue with hair like spun gold.

Yuzuru's mind imagined that she was bowing and acknowledging the applause in a dignified manner, tinged with the barest undertone of embarrassment.

But, even though he was an admittedly romantic individual, he had no idea what had prompted his thoughts to go in this trajectory. He just knew it was necessary at that moment.

Over the heads of several gentlemen in their tuxedos, he caught where the crowd was parting a little.

…And had to merely watch as the crowd continued to part and a girl – yes, she was indeed a slight, delicate looking blonde woman in a blue gown – disappeared through the doorway and out of his sight.

He felt a vague stab of something completely foolish and inexplicable in any rational terms. A strange loss for something he was not certain he had ever even had.

But, before the feeling could seep into him and he could digest it and ascertain what, in fact, it was, a dignified man with silver coloring the tips of his hair and manicured moustache, waved for his attention.

Had it been any less than his host, Pierre Bontecou, he might have made an excuse to be rid of all of the tedious idle chatter for the evening and retired to his hotel.

"It is a pleasure to at last meet you, Monsieur Suou. I trust you have enjoyed my daughter's lovely music?"

As he said this, there was a shining aura about him that clearly showed his fatherly pride. However, as much as Yuzuru would have liked to tell him that he had found the music of unparalleled beauty, as if from the mind of the muses themselves and calling back ancient spring times from the past and painting them with notes within the minds of everyone who listened, his more than verbose tongue could only be found to be saying, "I found it impressive, indeed, Monsieur Bontecou. It is not everyday that guests are treated to a pianist of your daughter's caliber."

The training in him chattered on, apparently, where he was unable.

"I trust your mother is in good health and hopefully taking the news of your father's death well?"

Small talk, small talk. Yuzuru was internally loathing every minute of it at that very moment.

"As well as can be expected," he found himself responding like an automaton, "And we look forward to maintaining our current relations as we have in the past, especially because, Monsieur, you are an old friend of my father's."

The man gave a hearty laugh.

"I see you have inherited his silver tongue, as well…."

Rather, thought Yuzuru cynically, even while smiling at the man, he had also taken up his mother's voice.

"- But, come, let us speak of things besides business."

The man made a gesture to someone behind him. Curiosity getting the best of him, he turned to see who Bontecou was smiling so radiantly at.

He looked back to see his daughter.

Their eyes met, and for an ephemeral moment, there was a look of utter shock on the girl's face that Yuzuru was certain was mirrored in his own. And, for reasons that Yuzuru was unable to completely fathom, they simply remained staring at each other for longer than was polite.

"Adéle," he said, chiding her gently, "stop gaping and please come meet our honored guest."

The girl blushed and said, "Excuse me, Monsieur!" before rushing forward.

Pierre shook his head even though a look of endearing indulgence remained on his face.

Yuzuru realized that he was still staring dumbly at her.

Somehow he stumbled through the proper introductions and said, "Mademoiselle, your music was nothing short of…superbly enchanting."

Adéle must have noticed that his words were far from the polite compliments she usually received from the preeminent self-important art critics who often came to these parties. Although the man's slight accent added a bit of a whimsical tone to his praise, his words were obviously in grave earnest.

"Perhaps, Monsieur," she said boldly - seemingly surprised by her own behavior, to her father's boundless amusement - "when you come to discuss business with my father later, I can give you a more private concert."

Yuzuru was quite certain that he blushed and mumbled something about that being quite an honor.

Pierre Bontecou wisely left the two alone for the rest of the evening and many evenings there after. He considered himself to be man who, above everything, wanted to see his daughter happy.

II. Something as Simple as Boys and Girls / Gets Tossed All Around and Lost In the World

She sat down on the bed and gently stroked his hair. He was still in his suit and looked vaguely dazed – half from the past week's flurry of activity and biting bits of conversation and half from the red-eye he had taken to escape all of it.

What he had done slowly filtered down into the more conscious areas of his mind.

He had returned to France and deliberately disobeyed her.

And Yuzuru had no idea what would happen if he returned to his mother and his wife with the news that he would only disobey further. And on an issue that would most likely garner a lot of unpleasant attention more far-reaching than just the small circle of the Suou family.

But for this news, he had to come back, even if only for a night or an hour.

Adéle guided a hand to her abdomen, "This," she said, her eyes shining, "will be my –our - best work of composition, Yuzuru."

There was a bitterness to his smile in response that did not go unnoted by her.

"I am sorry that it will cause trouble for you…but I will never apologize to anyone for what I have done. I have no regrets."

Her voice was soft and soothing but stubborn and tense by turns.

He sighed, "Even I have heard the rumors about us. People are not discreet, Adéle, they talk about anything that occupies their brain at that moment at any given opportunity. Especially about something – even as splendidly wonderful as it is – like this."

"It is love, Yuzuru. Love. Perhaps people talk, perhaps your mother doesn't understand…but why do all these people need to understand? I'm not going to deny you all of this because some bored people talk…are you?"

He sighed dramatically and took his hand away from her, crossing his arms over his chest in one fluid, but terse, movement.

"It's not just 'some bored people.' It's the papers, other families, potential business partners, current business partners - "

"Who are you, Yuzuru?"

The simple question was said in a voice that everyone else had assumed belonged to a world of delicate alabaster vases and porcelain women meant for display. No, Adéle had never belonged to a floating world of abstract pleasures…she belonged to something darker, deeper…more vibrant than the bisque realm that everyone else automatically fit her into.

In the face of four simple words that formed the most basic of interrogatives, Yuzuru had to admit that he was the fragile one. Because Yuzuru knew that, even with her father's protection, even she wasn't immune to the goings on of the privileged classes…she simply never let go of who she was within the myriad of rumor, expectation and enforced etiquette.

"…I don't know what you mean." There was a feigned, practiced uncertainty in his response.

She noticed this as well. There was a barely perceptible turn of her head towards the wall of the room from what, perhaps, was disappointment.

"I shall phrase the question then, so that you are able to understand me better," there was an edge to her voice, not harsh, but…Yuzuru found, as he often did, it was something he couldn't quite define. "Do you intend to be your mother's puppet forever?...Because you are still speaking with a voice that's not yours."

Yuzuru closed his eyes and frowned, drawing in a deep breath and letting it out pensively. What he was doing was suddenly perversely funny. With a haggard chuckle he said, "I've become a Suou again, haven't I?"

She nodded and quipped, "Only a Suou" keeping her entire expression neutral and waiting to see what he would say next.

"I don't want to be one."

She took both of his hands in hers and then leaned forward so that her blue eyes were looking directly into his, "Then be only Yuzuru. Always be Yuzuru before you are a Suou."

Adéle's idealism was irresistible.

He relaxed and let her slide her arms around him. This minute movement was enough of an answer for the woman he loved so much. She was a woman who never asked for more than him…but she asked for a genuine him bereft of the facades that lineage and upbringing had built around him.

He tenderly wrapped his own arms about her waist and leaned his head upon her shoulder.

In that one gesture he told her that for her and their child, he would toss away any parts of the world that got in their way, he would speak with his own voice, and make his own decisions.

The next morning he vowed he would return to Japan and do what was necessary to secure Yuzuru's existence. Because in securing Yuzuru's existence, he would be able to create a world where Adéle's existence at his side was no obstacle and love no longer fell before a foolish and abstract concept of impersonal duty of the Suous.

All these were unspoken promises he made himself.

III. All You Kids Get Out the Back Door / I've Never Seen Her This Mad Before

"You are nothing but a fool."

The Suou Matriarch shifted within her chair, appearing supremely unfazed.

Yuzuru stiffly stood his ground.

"I processed the papers to divorce her this morning. I intend to do it."

A glint in his mother's eyes were the only evidence that she had at all reacted to his statement – and they only flashed for a moment before they resumed their normal austere dimness. She had never been what one would have called a "warm" woman, but she had never simply sat there and looked at him in this manner.

He was waiting for some sort of concrete reaction. However, she seemed to be the woman who presided over the company's board of directors at that moment more than his mother.

"Yuzuru," she said evenly, no hint of emotion coloring her tone, "What you intend to do is not my concern…what you will do - because it is your duty and place to do it - is my only concern."

Every muscle in his body grew a little tenser as he remained standing there, looking at her. It was an old game cat and mouse, it seemed, a twisted and proverbial staring contest with higher stakes than usual. Loud verbal fights had always been something she had relegated to people without enough breeding to know better. And, because Yuzuru knew his mother, he knew the first one to flinch would lose.

Slowly, his mother moved to lean on the arm of the chair, her eyes directly on her son.

"I know you've had your flings, your whores, your little affairs. Foolish as they are, I won't condemn you for them, I know what the…stress…of this world can do to a man. But at some point, Yuzuru, your follies should cease. As you know, a certain propriety is needed even if some indignities are tacitly permitted."

She made a dismissive gesture with one hand as if she waving at some cringing servant or a simpering lap dog, "Now, go rescind your papers before you cause me any more idiotic trouble."

For the very first time in his life, Yuzuru hated her…he hated his mother's presence, her command, her way of making him feel like he was a child at every turn…while she always seemed to have some larger, more elusive vision of what he was supposed to be and become hidden somewhere beneath her cool exterior.

He would not flinch.

"I will not, Mother."

His second refusal aroused something in her. She flattened her palm and leaned more heavily on it, her eyes narrowing,

Not once did she take her gaze off of her son.

"What do you think you are doing with this one? You want more French harlots…? They're a dime a dozen, if you want a little belle dame sans merci, I can give you a hundred for each handful of francs you throw into the streets of Paris. Stop being a fool…I'll not have one in my line, especially not one so intimately related to me."

Her whole speech was like a litany of obvious truisms made all the more damaging by the fact that she only sounded annoyed at him rather than even the slightest bit angry.

Yuzuru realized he had already been dismissed without so much as a thought.

Clenching his fists and looking down at the ground he said, with deliberate slowness, "I know her and consider myself a good - that is not to say utterly flawless - judge of character, Mother. But that's not the issue here."

"Then, Yuzuru," he didn't dare look up at her, "Why don't you tell me what the issue is?"

He took a deep breath and said, very simply, "I love Adéle and I will marry and return here with her despite your objections, if I have to. However, mother, I would like your permission."

When he stopped and was greeted only by silence, Yuzuru suddenly realized how ridiculous he sounded even though he had tried to put every ounce of all of the solemnity he possessed into his plea. A part of him thought that he had truly proven his mother right and shown himself to be a fool.

Impossibly, his mother began laughing. Laughing. Abruptly, she broke off.

"What power do you have, Yuzuru? Besides your thoroughly amusing threats – amusing simply by virtue that they reek of an idealism that we can't afford – what can you back up your wild fantasies with?"

She paused for what seemed like a minor eternity.

"See, my dear son," her tone indicated he was anything but her "dear son" at that moment. "You don't seem to understand what our position is. Yes, we have certain advantages from status and wealth…but we have those because we maintain a certain…veneer. You don't knowingly sully that with lesser things. It's the price, Yuzuru…the price you have to pay for being who you are."

"Mother," he responded with a soft intensity, "She's pregnant. And I will marry her."

The silence that followed his full disclosure of the situation was deafening.

"I see." There was a slight cruel tremble in her voice, "Bastards, Yuzuru, are things you have no need to trouble yourself about…morally, financially, or otherwise."

With a haughty dignity, she stood up and walked straight to him, thrusting his hand under her son's chin and forcing him to look her straight in the eyes.

The gesture was only for show…Yuzuru knew that he had already flinched and missed some opportunity somewhere.

"You want to divorce her?…do it. The woman has outlived her use anyways, her family would be ruined would they pull out of our arrangements. You'll see the aftermath and I'll have to send someone competent after you to cover up for your blunders. But, do remember who gives you license for you and your whores to live in such extravagance…I will entertain other more fitting options for you so that don't breed filth. Until then, I hope that you become something other than the disappointing fool you seem bent on embodying."

She withdrew the hand and Yuzuru found he no longer have the strength of will necessary to remain focused on her. As if weighed down by the indefatigable amount of shame he was feeling at the moment, his head snapped into a bowing position so that he could only see the hem of her kimono.

"You're not the kind to throw away everything so lightly, Yuzuru," she drawled with the confidence of someone who knew exactly how the world – and, in particular, her son - worked, "Get out."

Realizing there was nothing but further damage to be done, he found himself flatly responding "Yes, Mother" and trudging out of the room.

His mother had already decided that she would hear no more on the matter.

And, Yuzuru knew better than anyone that women such as his mother did not make idle threats.

IV. Something as Hard as a Prayer on Your Back / Can Wait a Long Time For an Answer

The subject of Adéle was not something that was broached again for many years. And noticing her lover's demeanor when he returned to her three months later, Adéle herself never mentioned any plans of marriage.

Although, because of the vicious gossip and press coverage that the dissolution of Yuzuru's legitimate marriage caused, she must have known that such an event was, at least in theory, possible.

But she had told only him that he – the man she had come to love – was enough for her. Marriage was, to her, merely a social convention to solidify the trust she had already invested in him.

After that discussion with his mother and her subsequent frigid and formal behavior to him at formal occasions (for he spent as much time as he had to in Japan either in one of his many offices or in the second Suou Mansion, exiling himself from his mother's less gracious private behavior), he had become devoted to making himself someone whom she couldn't readily criticize on any of his public fronts.

In this way, Yuzuru found that he had become a man who was curiously bifurcated. On the stage of the world, he was a serious and charming businessman who was building a reputation for shrewd, well thought out transactions and mergers. However, in France, he was free to be a man of ridiculously elaborate speeches and privately romantic gestures. Yet, these two men who were all at once himself, seemingly lacked any common ground.

He was unfortunately made to be the businessman when his son was born. While securing a bank merger in New York, he received a call from no less than Pierre Bontecou himself.

These days the man seemed rather strained talking to him and had avoided him altogether for the past few months. However, Yuzuru could not say that he could blame him. Despite his own position, he always carried the knowledge that the burden placed on Adéle – despite how she tried to ignore it and decorate it with virtues – was the heaviest one in the entire situation.

Her father acutely knew that, although the love between his beloved daughter and his foreign business associate was obvious and true, Adéle would never become anything more than a "mistress" and a "sinful harlot" as things stood.

"I do hope you will make room in your busy schedule, Monsieur, to return to my daughter and her son soon."

His slightly disparaging use of pronouns was all the overt disapproval of the entire situation that he would show, apparently.

"How are they?"

"The baby is healthy."

"And Adéle…?"

There was a hesitant pause on the other line that was indicative of the fact that, however she was, Adéle had forbidden her father from telling him. That and the fact that it wasn't her making the call more than likely could be construed to mean that she was not well.

In response to his inquiry, all her father wearily answered was, "Just please, return as soon as possible."

Yuzuru gave a heavy mental sigh that he did not allow to carry over the phone. He wanted to rush over there at this precise moment with no explanations or indications of where he could possibly be going, but he knew that it couldn't be done, not with his schedule…with the Americans, the deal would simply fall through. The fact that it was a crucial venture for international expansion only added to the unfortunate situation.

"Three days, I need three days."

The other man, however, did sigh and, giving a dissatisfied and more than slightly angry good-bye, hung up the phone. Apologizing to his associates and switching back to English, Yuzuru went over a point about easing international transfers through the implementation of a more technologically advanced system.

But in becoming the businessman again, he felt like some vital part of him was once again slipping away. Internally, he felt not only bifurcated, but in danger of tearing into two individuals. At the moment, he wouldn't have minded had one walked off and left the other alone.

A week later, Yuzuru was finally at liberty to return to France.

When he arrived at the country house where Adéle had stayed for the majority of her pregnancy, he was surprised that a maid with timid politeness detained him in the foyer, apologetically saying that, "At the moment, Monsieur, Madame's father is with her."

After a few minutes, the man emerged from a room at the end of the hall and looked nothing short of disappointed and angry. In his hand he kneaded the silver cross of a set of rosary beads.

Upon spotting Yuzuru, his demeanor darkened further and he stated with frigid politeness, "It would have been better if you had just 'forgotten' to come at all. Better for both of them."

Passing swiftly by, the old man left the building without any further commentary.

The small feeling of pronounced guilt that always preceded any trip to France surfaced and, for once, could not be rationalized away. With every step towards Adéle's room, it seemed to metastasize.

He should have thrown away the business meeting – no doubt his mother would have sent someone to adequately clean up the affair – and simply come here. To Adéle. To his son.

Yuzuru entered her room and realized that, upon seeing him, Adéle was trying to put on a face that covered up whatever altercation had just taken place. It was not one of some fake joy, but rather one that just tried to disguise the fact that she had been crying.

Looking at her, he had the vague thought that, if she had been able to, she would rather have hid in some dark corner of the room.

However, Yuzuru's eyes couldn't help wandering to her bedside table where there was a significant increase in small plastic containers of various pills and medicines.

She immediately saw where his focus lay and exclaimed, more hurriedly than she intended, "Would you like to see your son?"

Giving her a look of concern that was the product of a week's worry with no news of her, he hurriedly asked, "Are you alright Adéle? I would hate to think that a single petal of my delicate flower might even feel the wind too strongly…" he realized that he was rambling nervously.

Her response was one of those smiles that inevitably meant that, out of concern for others she was trying to lie…and could not for all her good intentions succeed in doing so.

"Just a few complications from the birth, Yuzuru. It's nothing at all."

Simply from the tone she used, he doubted it was the "nothing" she was making it out to be. He opened his mouth to press the issue further and was meant by increasingly stubborn and annoyed declarations of "I am certainly fine!"

Finally, she just stubbornly refused to answer altogether.

Instead, she gestured feebly to the basinet at the side of her bed. Eyes passing over the medication once more, Yuzuru decided that he would allow her to win this round, for the time being, and be guided towards a matter of equal importance.

But he vowed that he would find out the extent of her supposed wellness later.

With a nod of permission from her – this really was her domain anyways – he tentatively made his way over to the crib. The baby in it was curled up, thumb in his mouth and arm around the blanket.

"You should hold him, Yuzuru."

As most men do with facing such situations, Yuzuru gave off a small look of alarm. He felt calm enough to actually go through with the feat only when he felt Adéle's hand on his shoulder – he noted, guilt replacing his fear - that even the light touch felt feeble to him.

He curled his hands around the small body of his son and lifted him up.

Almost immediately, he began crying. Not just crying…bawling. Despite his obvious discomfort, Adéle seemed to have eased into what looked like an almost genuine smile as she watched them both.

Mimicking something he had seen on some ridiculous American sitcom during his stay in New York, Yuzuru contorted his face into something so ridiculous that anyone who had seen him in any location but France would have thought he had thoroughly lost all sensibility.

Impossibly, his son cried even harder at this.

"Perhaps he thinks you're teasing him, Yuzuru…he cries very easily." she said, poking a faintly trembling finger into the boy's blanket and tickling him.

The little boy's laughter was, in the happy glow that surrounded his son and the woman he loved to Yuzuru's doting eyes, the sweetest thing he had heard in months. Adéle took the baby into her arms and made soft noises to him until he was asleep in her arms.

"I haven't named him yet. I've just decided that it should be a Japanese name."

Yuzuru smiled wryly at her forthrightness and responded, "And why have you decided this?"

Carefully, she wrapped the blanket tighter around him. "I want him to know who he is. Always…even if he never leaves France. So, I would like you to give him his name."

Posing one arm in front of him, as if he was going to recite a poetic apostrophe, he declaimed with gusto, "But he is obviously destined to be a charming prince to his maidenly mother – what with my dashing looks and his mother's angelic grace and vibrant eyes, how could he not? – who will grow to be a handsome knight at whose feet many pure nymphs will fall, enchanted."

His son, finding his sleep disturbed by his father's own extensive praise of him, blinked adorably pitiful eyes and, once more, began wailing.

Adéle gave a laugh that ended in a slight cough and immediately made herself busy rocking her child. Looking up and seeing that the exuberance had faded from her lover's face and had been subsequently replaced by another look of concern, she gave another forced chuckle and gently prompted, "A name, Yuzuru, he must be crying for a name."

Noting her insistence, he voiced the name that he had long thought about…mostly because it seemed supremely unconnected to any member of his own family, "We will name our adorable son 'Tamaki,' then."

"Very well," she said carefully, "Tamaki Suou…or, if you prefer, Suou Tamaki."

At hearing her append that name - in addition to the one he had newly bestowed on the boy - to the baby in her arms, Yuzuru froze.

"He is yours, and therefore a Suou, Yuzuru." She said quietly, seeing his reaction. "But that doesn't mean that he can't be Tamaki, just as you are Yuzuru."

Perhaps that was the first time that Yuzuru truly understood how much - even though she had to have realized that the Suou in him did still exist – Adéle wanted to ignore the other half of him.

V. When I Was Little I'd Stare At Her Picture / And Talk to the Mother of God

For the next years of his life, Yuzuru measured the years he spent away from his small family in France by the feet and inches that his son grew in his absence.

Yuzuru actively courted business in a number of different European principalities, meeting them at extravagant locations in France and then – scheduling such events for longer than they should have taken – took a few days out of each venture to see Adéle and Tamaki.

The first gift he had ever bought for his son was a bear – when purchasing it, the cashier had quipped that it had a rather disagreeable face – but it was more to amuse his mother than the child himself. To his surprise, however, Tamaki had taken to the Bear with a fierce loyalty second only to that which he showed his mother.

Adéle had the family butler snap a picture of the moment while saying with laughing disbelief, "He is too young to be teased Yuzuru! But he really does adore the ghastly thing."

Successive visits showed that the boy was already quite the charmer…the maids always regaled him with tales of the lovely things "Le Petite Monsieur" had told them and her mother's guests.

"And, oh! Monsieur, at the last ball, his brief appearance fairly charmed the Marquis himself."

"-Not to mention the Marquis's wife…'You have a heart as pure as your visage, Madam,' indeed!"

"Imagine a five year old with such…eloquence, let alone one who understands the word 'visage'!"

In exchange for the anecdotes, Yuzuru always rewarded them with his own speech and was pleased to hear them, when they thought he was out of earshot, saying, "Ah, Le Petite Monsieur certainly has a personality akin to the Monsieur Suou."

But, where Tamaki seemed to blossom in all of the social niceties that the French were skilled at, there was also something strangely serious about him at times, even from an early age. It was not the normal breed of seriousness one might associate with a child…it was just a sort of mild-mannered calmness and protectiveness that he selectively displayed.

Yuzuru noticed with a muted pride that it was a seriousness that was centered entirely around his mother.

It seemed every time that he arrived in the château, Tamaki would dash out like an exuberant whirl wind, shouting "Father! Pére! Otousan!" in his trifecta of languages (all - he noted with a warm degree of pride - spoken with a flawless accent…).

After this initial flurry of activity and chatter and declarations that his father was indeed greatly missed in his all too lengthy absence away from them (a sentiment Yuzuru always appreciated far more than he had the ability to express) Tamaki would always hug him tightly and hurriedly spill out his enumeration of the wonders that he had lately discovered in the beauteous world.

At the rare opportunities when his schedule afforded him an opportunity to tuck the little boy into his bed, Tamaki always asked for stories and descriptions about Japan.

Yuzuru always laughed after he had exited his son's bedroom to leave him to his overly fantastic dreams because, from the vaguely, well, misleading and slightly exaggerated depictions he had given the boy of his other heritage, he must picture Japan to be quite an…interesting place. However, Yuzuru always meant to correct his assumptions that not all temples were located in Kyoto (actually, he believed the exact phrase that he used was that Kyoto was the "veritable Wonderland of Japan"…) and that covert ninja brigades roamed all shady side streets (at age twelve, Tamaki truthfully thought that ninja attacks were, in actuality, the third leading cause of death in Japan and, with tears, supplicated his father to hire a standing army to remain around his person at all times…) and that the sharing of the kotatsu (and the playing of mahjong on the very same table, because in the houses of Commoners there was a surprising lack of space) was the most time honored tradition of family togetherness and bonding that the Japanese culture possessed. In telling the tales of his amusements to Adéle, he often was met with laughing disapproval….not that he minded in the least.

Yuzuru also noted that it was always Tamaki - with a careful degree of seriousness coated by his ever-present vivacious enthusiasm - who would escort him to his Maman upon his arrival in France.

As Yuzuru had expected, it was not "nothing" that had been wrong with her. After Tamaki's birth, she was more often found either in her bedroom or in the conservatory with a blanket carefully tucked over her by her son's childish hands looking pale and brittle than walking about the house in a state of fitting health.

Tamaki never had to be told anything about his mother's condition. He simply knew instinctively that his mother was unwell and, with the smile that he clearly inherited from her, protected her. This was behavior that Yuzuru couldn't take even the smallest sliver of credit for…he never had the time with the little boy to instill such traits in him.

He was whole and aware…something that was entirely Adéle's work.

Yuzur's favorite moments, however, were when Tamaki would – under his mother's gentle, but strict instruction – play the piano. It was the boy's favorite activity – better even than playing with the few acquaintances that he had either among the serving staff's children, or the few in the country neighborhood, more than childhood escapades, more then imaginative flights of fancy he babbled on about that were products of the books he constantly secretly borrowed from the library.

However, what pleased Tamaki most was the smile on his mother's face when he did well on the piece he was playing. What disappointed the little boy the most was when his mother suggested that, "Perhaps, a bit more practice was needed?" Inevitably, this led to a display of his strangest behavior – hiding in the dimmest corner of the room – of which, Adéle could only say, "He used to think that no one could see him like that…he's my little ostrich." Yuzuru found himself nodding and finding himself unable to personally account for the origins of such behavior at all.

And, for all of his rather short-attention span and amazing interest in all of the inner-workings of the entire universe, Tamaki's attention was never more focused than at the rare times when his mother played her own music for him.

When Yuzuru was alone with Adéle, she would always fondly reiterate of her precious son, "He is my best composition."

Back in Japan when he pondered this same sentiment, distanced from the soothing balm of the two most important figures in his life, he was left wondering if, perhaps, Tamaki had such a "composition" simply because the only thing that he received from his father was a penchant for unnecessary verbiage…his innate sense of himself and the almost frightening way in which he saw what others wanted most was something that he could only attribute to Adéle.

Those were not traits that one could instill during handfuls of days and weekend visits.

So, each time he returned to France he continued marking the durations of time that he was away by noting how, each time, Tamaki had grown...in more ways than simply height.

But the intervening times he was only witness to in a series of still pictures that Adéle presented him with at various intervals, marking all that he had missed.

VI. I Live Too Many Miles From the Ocean / And I'm Getting Older and Odd

Dinner was always served promptly at seven o'clock in the evening with all of the necessary idle chatter and talks about possible business agreements and social events and such with his mother and her rare guests.

Sometimes, during private discussions with his mother, there were all too lengthy discussions of Yuzuru's marital status and the danger it would bring, in the future, to the Suou Empire and name.

When such a subject was brought up, Yuzuru would nod and give a smile filled with the efficacy of an entrepreneur until his mother tired of his false servility and either dismissed him or left the room herself, her train of attendees in her wake. He felt a bit of satisfaction each time she tired of him.

In the fourteen years since their initial disagreement, Yuzuru had long ago returned to the Main Suou Mansion and the only slightly more frigid company of his mother – this time, as a businessman who was slowly taking the financial world by storm.

In these years he learned that he had a modicum of power over his mother and her constant reminders that, although he was the head of the family, in essence he was no more than a figurehead in terms of any major decisions of succession and such…even if he would not risk the consequences of throwing his current world away, his mother knew that the continuation of her precious bloodline lay only with her son.

And beyond her own son, all that remained was his mistress' child.

It seemed so ironic that what was, in his mother's mind, his greatest sin and rebellion against her high principals and breeding, was also something that, as years advanced, had become all too critical to the continuation of her high principals and breeding for her own liking.

This galling circumstance poisoned anything French that came into her life…she would avoid all wines, fabrics, furnishings, and anything to do with the country that the "harlot" who stole her son hailed from.

Adéle and Tamaki were never a subject that she overtly broached, but Yuzuru knew that she certainly had found out long ago where her son disappeared to intermittently on his business trips. His mother knew that this matter was not the closed case that she would have liked it to be.

And this was a fact that never ceased to make him wary.

Business and breeding had made her a hard woman, and Yuzuru feared that, as the one more intimate relation left that she would admit to having, what she saw as his "betrayal" of the family honor had finally finished off anything but those hard qualities in her.

So, when he had come back from a late meeting – his first as the chairman of Ouran Academy – he was surprised to see his mother waiting for him, strikingly absent from her normally inflexible dinnertime, in the mansion's grand foyer.

As soon as Yuzuru had stepped through the door, she made a gesture that indicated that he should follow her out the doors again.

"Your bags are packed and your schedule adjusted, now, come with me."

Yuzuru merely stopped suddenly before asking, incredulously, "Where exactly am I coming to?"

"Don't ask, just comply as you should," she snapped, moving past him.

She didn't see it fit to inform him of her plans until, after a long, silent flight, he found himself flying over the familiar landscape of France.

Deciding to hazard another inquiry, Yuzuru only received a cryptic answer from the old woman in a voice that was a sharp warning that he had better not question her further.

"On behalf of the board, I am overseeing the acquisition of a new company."

Until he pulled up at a very familiar place, he obeyed the unvoiced commandment.

The car rolled to a halt at the Main Bontecou Estate.

"Mother," he said, not so much as bothering to hide the anger in his voice, "Why are we here?"

Giving him a truly unfathomable look, she responded, "You still remain a fool, I see. The Bontecous have lost most of the backing from critical French companies – I've heard it had something to do with…gossip and rather immoral behavior on the part of the daughter - they are purportedly a very religious family - which makes her behavior all the more…unsavory."

She let the words hang in the air between them. There was nothing new about the content of her speech, as Yuzuru had heard such diatribes throughout all of the years of his life applied to different Japanese families….but never to himself, never to Adéle. And all the more horrible was that fact that her voice had the element of one who has spoken a prophecy and, due to a lack of penitence on the part of her audience, has at least seen it fulfilled.

A stilted version of his usual suave behavior emerged automatically and he numbly responded, "I see."

"I still don't think you do, Yuzuru," she said, calmly and evenly, "They are bankrupt. The board has generously decided to buy what's left of their holdings for a reasonable price."

Yuzuru highly doubted that this visit solely had to do with monetary prices.

Unfortunately, his assumption proved itself to be horrifically correct when Pierre Bontecou entered the room in order to consult with his lawyer. After all of these long - and evidently hard - years, the old gentleman was merely a feeble specter of the man he had met fifteen years ago at a party in the ballroom of this same house – and, upon seeing Yuzuru, he was struck silent.

With great dignity, he drew himself up and said, very quietly, "So at last you've managed to destroy everything."

Leaving a room of confused lawyers and a look of strange satisfaction on his mother's face behind him, Pierre left without another word.

Beside him, his mother lowered her head and remained silent. Smoldering with anger, Yuzuru remained silent throughout the entire meeting, the Suou corporation lawyers handling everything.

At the end, he thought he detected a smile bit of triumph in his mother's even tones when, looking over the contract she quipped, "It's a pittance…but it will do."

Yuzuru realized that she had been waiting for years to utter something like that. And he, wrapped up in trying to redeem himself from his earlier follies in his eyes, simply failed to realize that she had done what she always had done so effectively…she had made it a matter of personal business.

Now, she clearly expected her son to do the same in order to prove that his display over the years was more than an elaborate charade.

The businessman had finally collided with his other self and found that, even after all these years, he hadn't succeeded in uniting the two diametrically opposed people he was supposed to be anymore than the first day that he had noticed the division.

For once not caring what his mother thought of him or if she was pleased or not, he returned to their car and rode with his head in his hands.

"Don't think that we are finished, Yuzuru. There is one more aspect of the deal that we must pursue before we leave this vulgar country."

"No, Mother, I think I am through."

It was the best he could muster. Yuzuru could only think what effect the day's proceedings would have on Adéle and Tamaki…the old problems still remained. Even if he refused every arranged marriage his mother came up with, he couldn't so much as put together a budget for the only woman he would ever truly consider to be his wife.

He had never found himself out of the corner she had put him in fourteen years ago.

An hour later, the car ground to a halt again.

Lifting his head, he realized that they had arrived at another Bontecou house…the one in which Adéle had lived since Tamaki's birth.

Without waiting for Yuzuru or offering a single gloating word of explanation, the Suou Matriarch rose and stepped through the door. After an initial moment of shock, Yuzuru stood and scrambled after her. Desperately, he managed to part her entourage and catch a hold of the tie on her kimono, causing her to turn to him with icy rage and cut off any protests.

"You didn't think that woman would never pay, did you, Yuzuru?"

He was at a loss for words.

She continued in and, seeing Yuzuru following behind her at a length, the maids hastily hurried to find their mistress, all obviously a bit alarmed by the way in which the two figures had entered.

With all the haughty grace that was befitting of a woman of her position, she followed the maid to the sitting room. Yuzuru began to go in the other direction before he heard the sharp command of, "Come, Yuzuru!"

For the umpteenth time that day, he had no idea where or what he was coming to.

But, at this point, he knew better than to refuse. He realized, in light of the situation, that it was half-hearted refusals that had led him here in the first place…for the time being he could only mitigate some of the damage that might be done.

Wrapped in a shawl, Adéle, absolute outrage shining on her face, appeared at the door. Turning to a maid, she gave an uncharacteristically curt order to keep Tamaki to his wing of the house.

His mother looked her over with a barely perceptible curl of the lips into a scowl.

In Japanese she stated, "So you are the woman."

Looking at the difference between the facial expressions on Yuzuru's face and that of the woman she suspected was his mother, she immediately took stock of the situation.

"Oui." She said simply. "That does not give you the right, Madame, to come into my house as you have."

The Japanese that she used was clipped and profoundly accented.

His mother, already finding fault, scoffed, "Graceless creature…"

"Yuzuru," said Adéle, softly in French, "Would you care to explain to me the meaning of this?"

He opened his mouth to say anything to her, but was cut off with a gesture by his mother.

"He does not know the reason for this…visitation. His only purpose here is to witness the consequences of his actions, mademoiselle."

She spat the last word out as if it were a bug that had found its way into her mouth. She evidently got pleasure out of seeing the woman who she held responsible for her son's more disgraceful past look absolutely furious at this statement.

"And the reason for this visit fortunately has very little to do with you."

At this Yuzuru stood up. It was too much.

"I don't know what you think you are doing, mother, but you can't be serious enough to-"

Without so much as raising her voice the older woman just scoffed and said, "Of course, I am serious, Yuzuru. Why else would I come out to this…place? Besides," she did not take her eyes off of the woman in front of, still framed by the doorway, "If this is what it takes to teach you the price for being a fool and for being deceived by…that…than I will do it."

"Mother. I have tried - "

She cut him off with a gesture and, ignoring him entirely, began addressing the woman in front of her.

"I have come to strike a deal with you….I believe you will find it most generous, considering the circumstances."

Yuzuru doubted that anything that went according to what his mother perceived to be the "circumstances" of the situation would be generous in the least. And yet, all he could do at the moment was watch whatever exchange was going to take place, once again powerless to stop it.

He gazed at the angry and betrayed look on Adéle's face with such a hollow feeling of mounting guilt, that he didn't know that he could contain it for the entirety of his mother's elaborate charade. Right now he was – despite his efforts to think of some way not to be or strike some happy medium between himself and his name – a Suou.

From the look on her face, Adéle knew this as she always did.

"The Suou family is in need of an heir…and your…" she paused, searching for the correct word before saying incredulously, "son, is – however, he dubiously might have come by it – the only one who might possibly fulfill this position at the moment."

Adéle paled and reached out to grip the door.

"No. Never."

"I understand your…convictions…but, I am also a woman of business and I believe I can compel you to see things from, " she gave a look at her son, who merely looked rather dazed and disbelieving, "our perspective."

The younger woman looked over to Yuzuru, praying that he would somehow contradict those words. However, all that was present on his face was a look of helplessness.

Impossibly, the Suou Matriarch continued on.

"I've gathered that you are not in good health and it would be in your best interests to maintain adequate medical care…unfortunately, your current financial circumstances will not be amenable to this aim. In exchange for that boy, I shall put the proper resources at your disposal to insure your future…well-being. However, he will not be allowed to return to you."

The knuckles on Adéle's hand were now visibly white as she gripped both the wall and made a nervous gesture to pull her shawl closer to her.

"Non," she said, lapsing into very quiet French, "You can't have Tamaki…I - I don't care what happens to me. I'll never sell him! Do you hear me," she looked wildly fierce now, despite the tears in her eyes, "I will not allow this!"

Not immediately answering the desperate woman's cries, Yuzuru's mother stood up and said simply, "I think our position is clear. You may consider it."

To her it was business as usual and not her son's life. She was making it amply clear.

When the door to the drawing room shut, announcing that she had departed, Adéle turned her attention to Yuzuru who just sat, looking at her with a look mixed with both profound guilt and pure horror.

"Yuzuru," she said, not moving from the door, "There must be something you can do…for our son! You can leave her, the choice is there, you can leave here and remain here with us. We can survive like that…we can!"

There were no flowery words or speeches to be made that might change things. The him that he had cultivated in France was simply…inadequate.

"…Adéle…I can't leave you like that. You won't survive...we both know it. You're not strong enough."

Her eyes narrowed at this comment.

"No, Yuzuru, it is not I who is not strong enough. All I asked of you was that you not be what that woman made you. That is not who I loved. That is not who your son asks about. But that is - now I understand! - who you are with her. Do you want that for your son? Is that what you want? Do you want him to just be a Suou?" she spat the name out with a contempt he would never have thought her capable of.

He should have shouted loudly and protested with every single fiber he had, but he found himself saying in a calm, disturbingly rational voice, "No, Adéle, that is not what I want. But I will take him back to Japan with me if that's what needs to be done in order to keep you safe. He's with me. I will watch over Tamaki."

If it would keep her safe…keep them both safe, he would.

Trembling, she shouted back at him, "So you will allow him - your only child - to be at the mercy of that horrid woman?"

Yuzuru lowered his head and could not look at her, answering at a length, "Tamaki is like you, Adéle…he can change things without letting them change him. It is a gamble, but I am certain that if anyone can, he will be able to. He is too much like you are to ever be hers to control."

He was greeted only with a tense, loud silence interrupted, at last, by a single sob. However, he tried, he could not assure her that Tamaki wasn't him and that is why Yuzuru was certain he would succeed.

"He…Tamaki…Yuzuru, he's all I have," she hugged herself, tugging at the shawl repeatedly, but seeming not to notice what she was doing in the least.

Yuzuru simply felt like it would have been a crime to touch her and comfort her in those moments. She – and Tamaki, it seemed – were both being made to pay for a crime of his creation…not the crime of the original affair, for he never considered that to be a mistake in his life, but for never fully pursuing what he should have.

"Adéle," he said, so quietly that it was possible that she might not have heard him, "I am sorry…so very sorry."

However, she could find no more words for him and, as a mark of the profound inadequacy of his response, without another word to him, she turned and left.

It was many months before his son told him – with a compassion he certainly didn't deserve – that he had heard the entire discussion and decided to comply on his own. Yuzuru knew that, at the very least, Tamaki had done what he did not and tried to assuage the tears from his mother's eyes.

For months afterwards, in the rare times he managed to see the boy at Suou #2, he couldn't help but think that he didn't deserve someone who could look at the world in the way his son did. He didn't deserve someone that, through his mother's teachings, could have a strength that Yuzuru himself had never known.

Tamaki, he felt, should have stayed Adéle's.

He had tried to play the devoted and obedient son while fulfilling the conflicting role of lover and father…in the end, he found he had failed to do either.

With all of his heart, he wished he had kept those vows he made to himself. Because, having never expunged the Suou, he was at last forced to become him entirely. Now, it seemed his mother and his own cowardice had thoroughly cut off the man who was only Yuzuru.

He hoped beyond hope that, one day, Adéle might forgive him his weaknesses.

But more than that, he hoped that her greatest composition – a boy who had her quiet and strength and innate knowledge of other people – could change the world in all the ways that Yuzuru himself couldn't.

Tamaki, like his mother, was entirely whole. Yuzuru vowed he would do what was in his power to keep him that way…if his son needed him at all.

VII. Maybe It's Alright / Maybe We Won't Fight Anymore / Maybe Love is Waiting at the End of Every Room

It was at the school festival in Tamaki's second year that Yuzuru saw just how much like his mother his son was.

The gesture that he made was not an overt act of rebellion – merely taking a bite of food off the fork of a Commoner girl in front of his grandmother – but, to Yuzuru, it meant so much more.

Tamaki, for all that he had been put through in his life, remained as much himself in Japan as he had been in France…as endearingly silly and charming and innocent as he had always been.

And, with his son around, Yuzuru found some sort of relief from being in Japan on a fairly permanent basis. Whenever he was around him, he could feel himself slipping back into the man who had once convinced him that roaming bands of ninjas occupied every shadowy crevice, simply waiting for hapless passerbys…

Now he simply told him outlandish stories about how Commoners made do with their overly cramped living spaces. He had completely believed that they always sat with their arms wrapped around their knees to conserve space.

However, when all that the charming boy did when he discovered the, well, misinformation was rail at him for being a "mean old man!" and yet, Yuzuru found that his overall credibility hadn't suffered at all as he lapsed into another ostentatious story, he thought that his son really must be too good to be true.

But, even despite Tamaki's subtle act of rebellion, his grandmother had acknowledged him as his son for the first time.

His son was changing the world around him very slowly…like small concentric ripples emanating from a single – charming and adorable, I might add – source, he thought poetically. Smiling wryly to himself, he looked over to see his mother's disapproving look.

Yuzuru remained smiling anyways.

Adéle would be proud of her silly son. This was one of the few things that Yuzuru knew for certain…He never felt like he could take any credit from Adéle for the way his son had turned out, but Yuzuru had watched over him in his own way.

He looked over to see his son say something to the girl at his side – the Commoner Scholarship Student at last dressed as her own gender, he noted – after which she smiled radiantly up at him….not the simpering smile of his admirers, but something more…well, for the moment, words failed him.

Watching them, he felt like he was watching scenes from his own life play over again.

However, somewhere he knew that, for Tamaki, there would never be a question of a divided loyalty and never a need to ask for or merely wonder about forgiveness. He was not his father.

Yuzuru was happy that, in all of the ways that mattered, he took after his mother.

Because of that, the scene he saw unfolding would tell a far different story from his own.

Fin

A/N:

Fics that are supposed to be 5 pages need to stop being 20+ now. You hear me, fic? Oh, and so you all know, I tried hard, but I fail at French. I speak only Spanish and English.

First, the boring stuff that interests me, i.e. the writing experimentation that's in here. I know it's not horribly original, but I wanted to do a kind of puzzle fic / vignette cycle where every bit can stand alone, but the overall fic gives you a glimpse at Yuzuru's overall character. Because I essentially chronicled a span of 20 or so years, I chose to do more specific, emblematic incidents than an overall "hereiseverythingyouwilleverneedtoknowaboutthischaracterOMG!" fic. Also, I tried to mirror the first and last sections (including Yuzuru's poetic thoughts). And, in case you are wondering, what Tamaki is saying to Haruhi at that moment is his famous "I'm me before I'm a Suou" line. squishes Tamaki

Now, onto the rhyme and reason for the character analysis…the basic premise, as I probably hammered over your head throughout the fic is that, for all their similarities, Yuzuru is not a Tamaki. Tamaki is the kind who would initially throw away the world and decisively walk a path…Yuzuru is the kind who unsuccessfully tries to find a middle path, but can't really reconcile the disparate aspects that both roles require of him. He is, even from what little we've seen of him, a deeply complicated character and I tried to put forth all the inherent contradiction that I read into him into my portrayal…I'm not sure it worked, but that's what I tried to do. Yes, I think he is in many ways trapped by Suou-sama, but I really do think that he had some volition that he didn't necessarily take advantage of. Really, I had the character's framework, I just wanted to shade him in and give everything a more nuanced look…he's not a totally honorable character, but he's a sympathetic character.

Inadvertently, Tamaki crept in as well…I wanted to explain his upbringing a bit because, although I love him to death and am fairly certain that he has a very strong will to begin with, such convictions need to be cultivated in children…worldviews don't come out of nowhere. And, the part about the ninjas from Volume 8 of the manga needed to be in here…I laughed so loud and went, "Oh, Yuzuru, you rock my world" when I read that. Too bad anime!Yuzuru is all stuffy and not fun…

Okay, enough of my ramblings. As usual, comments will be greeted with zealous fangirling and more lengthy dissertations on character analysis, if prompted…I hope you all enjoyed!