Warning: Spoilers for Episode 24, and the corresponding manga chapters.

Only More Stupid

Ootori Kyoya is not particularly fond of idiots, although when the situation calls for it, he's very good at pretending. He knows how to shift his glasses so that they don't see the disapproving glint in his eyes, and how to smile so that they don't notice he's grinding his teeth. He has mastered how to politely excuse himself so that he can go back to quietly laughing at their stupidity in the corner, and maybe it's cruel and maybe it's pretentious, but with all the imbeciles in the world, it seems only fair. He understands, after all, how useful foolishness can be when it is manipulated; and sometimes you have to respect it anyway, because blood dictates you do, even when brains don't.

Ootori Kyoya is not particularly fond of Suou Tamaki, although after the past few months, he has grown increasingly immune to the young man's insane and outlandish behavior – spending weekend after weekend (not to mention practically every class) with the school chairman's son turns out to be the best cure for repulsion. Tamaki does not seem to understand the concept of restraint and propriety; every gesture is an overblown pose, every word is dripping with drama and dashing, every smile is laden with feeling and sugar, and it makes Kyoya feel rather sick to witness it all the time, nonstop, but he has to deal with it.

Duty tells him that this man is going to be a powerful ally for the family business, but even if that were not the case, it wouldn't look good for the third son of Ootori to be rude or brusque or cold; he has to act warm for the sake of his good name, and there's nothing wrong with that. Kyoya has been walking on eggshells since birth. The jagged edge of this overzealous freak just happens to be particularly sharp, but he'll be able to successfully tread over it eventually – he always does.

Tamaki brings him chocolates one day, shoving the heart-shaped box at his self-declared 'best friend' without any semblance of shame. Kyoya has to hide the incriminating gift in his desk and say, rather redfaced, that guys don't give other guys such things in Japan, because it will be deemed improper and gossip might spring up. Tamaki puts a finger to his cheek and his eyes grow big and wobbly like a puppy dog in hysterics, and he whimpers, "It was only a thank you for taking me to Kyuushu last week, mon ami,"

Kyoya sighs and puts on his best mask and pushes his glasses further up his nose, measuring the frost in his voice as he answers, "I may not be particularly adept at French, but you've been flinging around mon ami too carelessly as well, haven't you? Taking into account the fact that it's so intimate, of course, with all due respect." But he doesn't want to respect this man, this creature, this alien, this foreigner with an irrepressible love for Japan and flaunting and flirtation, considering how serious the business of his inheritance is.

"I – I'm sorry," Tamaki crouches in the corner and tucks his head into his knees. "Have I been embarrassing you?"

But Kyoya has perfected the Art of the White Lie, and he won't trip now, he won't slip now, no matter how infuriating it gets. "Of course not. I was just trying to teach you some more about our culture."

Instant recovery – Tamaki flings his arms around Kyoya and nuzzles against his head, clinging like a human spider. "Ahhhh! I knew it! Thank you, Kyoya! Japanese culture is so wonderful!" There are stars in his eyes as he pulls back and grins hopefully at the class president, who desperately wants to push the man away and give his glasses a good wipe. "Does this mean I get to see the kotatsu soon, too?"

Kyoya manages to flick him sharply on the head while still smiling in a very friendly manner. "Don't get ahead of yourself, now." It actually isn't right for them to be on first-name basis, either, Ouran High being the battleground of etiquette that it is, but he can never seem to teach Tamaki things at his own pace (and since when did he become the guy's personal tutor?) – in fact, he has to try his hardest just to stay abreast of Suou's unbelievable tempo, because the chairman's son is a whirlwind and a flood and he is uncontrollable, and Kyoya hates him.

Or wants to, at least. Because one day he comes home and there is melody wafting from the piano that was always more furniture than instrument, and Kyoya has learned some pieces before but he could never play them like this: as if every note has meaning, every trill has life; every phrase is a poem and every shift in key is a story. He can't stand to see his sister weeping as she greets him, and his brothers with their heads bowed, shoulders quivering as the piece reminds them, without any words, how lonely they've all been.

He tries to stop Tamaki before the tears can run down his own cheeks, inviting him to tea in the sitting room; but the blonde man complies without pausing in his playing, and in the end Kyoya has lost, and he has to look away before anyone sees his defenses crumble.

He shouldn't have bothered, though, because at the end of the day he's still forced to raise a white flag – because he is defeated after finding out about Tamaki, and about himself; about how he always pushed aside his dreams just because he thought it was the right thing to do, and how he let birthright get the better of talent. Ootori Kyoya has been fighting a battle his whole life, and his greatest enemy is his own reflection.

But here's this nuthead pulling him away from that mirror and out of that frame and out of those labels, and for once he can smile without any inhibitions (Tamaki tells him laughingly, after they've cleaned up the mess from the overturned table, that perhaps his fake smile is a touch more endearing). Kyoya smirks as he settles down on the couch. "And why would you want my smile to be more endearing?"

"Let's just say I have plans for something great, mon ami." Tamaki takes a teacup from the new set the maid brought out, and pours himself a drink. "I'll tell you soon enough. It's going to be spectacular!" Kyoya rolls his eyes as he sips his own tea, but something in him is genuinely interested. After all, Tamaki isn't as dumb as he seems; there were always the marks in school to prove it, but he never could admit it to himself until today. "Umm, Kyoya," the chairman's son has started pacing the room and peering suspiciously at the walls. "Do you happen to have the kotatsu ready yet, by any chance? That's why I came here today, after all."

Well, there's always the thought. He decides that Tamaki is really like those naive fairytale princes, only more stupid, and with more clouds around his head – he socks him a good one on the shoulder and tells him not to push his luck, and in their next term he takes the seat behind Tamaki out of his own free will ("Yay," the blonde shouts, and Kyoya realizes he's made a terrible mistake). Then one day in winter he comes home and Tamaki is snug as a bug in the kotatsu (has it really been so long already?), and the suggestion of a Host Club springs out of his mouth without warning.

There's the rather disturbing joke of matrimony – "Because a club is a family, Kyoya, and if I'm going to be the father, someone has to be mother" – but Kyoya's used to this sort of bizarre scheme by now, and the benefits do sound appealing. Besides, Tamaki has taught him the value of dreaming even when one's awake, and that hasn't been so bad.

"Let's ask them in spring."

Ootori Kyoya is not particularly fond of idiots, but there are always exceptions.

A/N: I'm not sure if Kyoya would ever think in run-on sentences, but I hope you enjoyed it just the same. (It was meant to be platonic, but interpret as you will.) Comments would be greatly appreciated. :D