Title

By: EthanHaas

He rubbed his eyes, setting his glasses down on the desk in front of him. Thankful that the door to his office was closed, he leaned back in a handsome leather chair and allowed himself an uncharacteristic moment of tiredness. The sun streaming in through the high windows behind him illuminated a large mahogany desk, littered with files, papers, manila envelopes, and half-finished, long-since-cold coffee cups. He hated this office and everything about it, save for the fact that it was he who sat in that chair five days a week. Rubbing the bridge of his nose where his glasses sat, he sighed quietly.

Spring had changed imperceptibly into summer and he knew that just outside his window, the setting sun was casting golden rays on the end of a warm, sultry day. His eyes still closed, he could picture the scene outside so many stories below, full of families out to enjoy a night downtown. He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the computer screen, the air conditioning making him jump a little as though he had actually been outside. Realizing after a few moments that he wasn't absorbing a thing, he sighed again and gave it up as a bad job. He closed his eyes again as the image of the street below, thronging with people, reentered his mind. He could see them sitting down to dinner on the breezy patios of restaurants, see them escaping the heat in movie theaters, parents being dragged around by small, giddy children. Then, from the back of his mind, unbidden but not entirely unwelcome, a face entered his thoughts. His face broke into what was unmistakably a smile (albeit maybe half of one) and he leaned forward to pick up the only picture frame on his desk, containing a photo of the living counterpart of his mind's wanderings. The little girl in the picture was no older than two, frozen in time in a rare moment in which she wasn't squirming in her mother's arms. She was smiling a smile that secured short time outs and extra stories at bedtime, a smile she had since perfected and Kyoya often told her to get trademarked. There was chocolate ice cream smeared down a once-pristine white sundress and her mother wore an expression of amused exasperation, something she did often.

Kyoya leaned back in his chair once more, seemingly unaware that a terrified and harassed looking intern had just opened his door cautiously. Surprised that the usually perceptive and astute man before her seemed oblivious to her presence, she stood frozen and wondered what exactly she had walked in on. Was that…wistfulness? Fondness that she saw on his face? Before this moment, she would have bet half her salary that Kyoya Otori was incapable of such emotions. At an office party, she had once (under the influence of four glasses of wine, the fifth having found its way onto her dress instead) told a colleague that her boss had the emotional range of a tea kettle.

"What is it, Yuki?"

She jumped and nearly dropped the stacks of books and case studies in her arms. He was still looking at the picture frame but his tone was brisk, business-like, almost bored.

"Haruhi called, sir. She asked you to s-stop on your way home t-tonight and get band-aids." The girl looked absolutely petrified, as though fearing her boss might suddenly breathe fire.

Setting the frame down, Kyoya put his glasses back on and resumed his ceaseless typing. If the girl's request had seemed strange to him, he didn't show it. "What kind?" he asked, his silver frames glinting in the sun.

"Something pink is all she said." She waited breathlessly for a moment and then bowed herself out of the room, looking positively thrilled to be gone.

Kyoya began to shut down his computer and gather his briefcase to leave. Before he stood, he took one last look at the picture, taken the year before. Haruhi's hair was longer then and so was the little girl's, though she still wore her hair almost to her waist. It was the only thing about her that set her apart from her mother, of whom she was a perfect, tiny replica. They look tremendously alike, he thought with a rueful smile He laughed as he stood to leave, taking one last glance at the photograph as the afternoon sun glinted off of the little girl's sheet of long, blonde hair.

"It's just a few more steps, you can do it," she said softly. She turned back and looked at Kyoya helplessly, trying not to laugh. They both watched from the top of the stairs as the youngest Otori made a dramatic production of walking up the stairs, dragging her feet and stomping. It was ruined somewhat by a huge yawn and the teddy bear that skimmed the carpet as she dragged it in one hand.

"But it's so f-f-far," she mumbled, failing to stifle another yawn.

"And you refused to let your mother carry you," Kyoya said quietly, pushing up his glasses as he poked a hole in the little girl's argument.

She reached the top stair and he half expected her to fling herself down on the floor. There's no denying she learned to act from her father, he thought. The little girl raised her arms up to him, her award-winning smile unable to mask the fact that she was either about to pass out where she stood or dissolve into tears of naps not taken.

He bent down and scooped her into his arms, tossing her easily over his shoulder. "No, daddy!" She squealed, her pigtails flying everywhere. Kyoya made to walk towards her bedroom but stopped when she tugged on his collar. "I have to say good night to Mommy!" He turned and let the girl throw her arms around her mother's neck and plant a sloppy kiss on her cheek.

"You. Bed." Haruhi's voice was soft and kind but contained just the hint of a threat that said she'd clearly tolerate no tomfoolery before bed or they'd both be facing the wrath of a tired woman who wasn't above shin kicks and boycotting Disney movies (according to the weakness of each member of her household). Kyoya carried the little girl to her room and set her down on the bed, helping her with the covers and tucking her in as he'd done hundreds of times before. She settled her bear beside her as Kyouya took the ponytails out of her hair, inwardly wincing at the filthy toy as he did every night. Thinking this would be the night he stole it and washed it (or better, burned it), he was lost in the details of that stealth mission when he realized she was staring at him with eyes that were heavy with sleep and only half open.

"I fell down today," she said quietly. He knew she'd been holding in this most important story for bedtime but had obviously not anticipated being so sleepy when she told it. She held up her arm and showed him her elbow, which now held no less than 6 Hello Kitty band-aids, none of which were covering anything remotely close to a scratch, let alone bloodshed.

Settling himself cross legged on the floor, he rested his cheek in his hand on the edge of her bed. "Did you fall or did you get pushed?"

"I fell at the park. Ryouta laughed," she answered, at this point too sleepy to summon any tears to do her thrilling story any justice. Kyouya vowed silently to buy out and destroy Hitachiin Enterprises. And then to set a pack of wolves on Hikaru and his son. She held out her arm more insistently, never too tired to start pouting. "Make it better?" It was as much a plea as it was a command. Oh, she's good, he thought, fighting the urge to roll his eyes. Just like her mother.

He smiled and took her small arm in his hand and kissed her elbow. "Does that feel any better?"

"Yes," she grinned toothily up at him. She hugged him, linking her arms around his neck and then burrowed down under her covers.

"Good night." He stood and turned to leave the room, pausing at the light switch.

"I love you, daddy."

"I love you too, Saeka," he said softly, turning off the lights and shutting the door.