Cat's Cradle

Characters/Pairings: Tamaki/Kyouya, Tamaki/Haruhi, Host Club
Kyouya had been able to see the red threads between people's fingers since the day he was born. A song of fate, and the breaking of. Tamaki was a man who could never be predicted.
Rather vague spoilers up to Chapter 63.

When he was a child, Kyouya had always – unlike his brothers and sister – been able to find where his father was.

He just had to follow the crimson thread that linked his middle finger to his father's index one.

The index finger links you to the person (or persons) who will help you further your goals and ambition. Evidence: Ohtori Yoshio's, my father's, index finger is linked to all of his children who will, of course, further the company in the future.

The middle finger connects you to the person (or persons) that forms part of your identity; someone whose existence is integral to your being. This thread is most commonly found amongst members of the same family. Evidence: My own middle finger is linked to my father's index finger.

Kyouya's pen paused over his notebook. These were the facts he knew for sure; that he had verified over and over again with his own eyes. The red threads that only he could see were always clearly linked to someone close to them on these two fingers. This made perfect sense: people could not have a connection with another person unless they had met them. Kyouya looked down at his ring finger and the red thread wound around it, leading out of the door and to nowhere.

Sometimes he could feel the slightest of tugs on the string, assurance that there was indeed someone at the end of it. But he had never met that person. His red threads – adorning his middle and ring fingers only, fortunately – had been there ever since he was born, yet he had not met the person connected to him by his ring finger.

Lifting his eyes, he watched the hustle bustle of his elementary school 'playroom' for a long moment. The red thread connecting Mitsuyama-senpai's and Kuze-senpai's ring fingers was as strong and unbreakable as ever, even when it was stretched taut because they were on the opposite sides of the room.

He turned to the window and watched as Suzushima Tohru-kun chased his fiancé Kasugasaki Kanako-san around on the field, both of them red-faced and laughing. The red thread wound around their fingers almost literally glowed in the sun, stretching and shortening whenever there was need, always remaining taut.

Kyouya closed his eyes and turned back to his notebook.

The ring finger links you to the person, he paused slightly in his scribbling before continuing, beside whom you will spend your life. The red thread acts much like a promise ring on this finger. Evidence: Kuze-senpai and his arranged bride, Mitsuyama-senpai.

Kyouya tapped his pen against his lip thoughtfully.

More investigation on this is required to come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Information on the thumb and the little finger has yet to be found.

"Ohtori-kun!" A voice jerked him up from his writing, a smile coming automatically onto his lips as he turned his head.

"Ohtori-kun, do stop writing and come over! Sensei just brought over some new toy cars!" the classmate – Yanasawa, the son of a major car company, he remembered – called, waving him over, a bright red toy car in his hand.

Kyouya's smile widened slightly as he jumped off the windowsill, bare feet stepping back onto the richly carpeted floor. "I'll be happy to, Yanasawa-kun."

He chanced a glance at his ring finger, at the thread standing out against the pale skin, red as a brand. Then he shrugged.

Perhaps the person at the end of it would be a girl from a powerful family, he hoped in a vague and faint way that only boys who had been forced to grow up too fast could hope. Then a marriage would be beneficial to his family.

Information on the thumb and the little finger has yet to be found, he read in his own handwriting, and scowled slightly. He did so hate not knowing things.

He closed his notebook.

Ohtori Kyouya met the person at the end of the red thread wound around his ring finger three years and seven months after writing that entry in one of his black notebooks.

"This is Suoh Tamaki-kun."

Curled around the little finger of 'Suoh Tamaki-kun's' left hand was Kyouya's red thread. For a moment, Kyouya's breath was taken away through sheer shock. What the... this...

He had never seen a red thread around a little finger before. But, more importantly...

The person who was attached to his ring finger was male. He was the Suoh heir, at least, which meant that a relationship between the two of them would be beneficial for the Ohtori family. But it remained that Kyouya couldn't marry him, unlike Kuze-senpai and Mitsuyama-senpai, unlike Suzushima-kun and Kasugasaki-san. Turning his head to the side, he let his glasses hide his eyes.

How very inconvenient.

During the car ride to Kyoto (which the idiot blond beside him had taken to be 'Japan's Disneyland' that was overran by ninjas, or some such nonsense), Kyouya watched Tamaki sleep and contemplated the three red threads on the blond's hand.

The little finger – of course – the middle finger, and the ring finger. Kyouya's lips curved into a bitter smile – he had seen cases like this, though never on the little finger.

There was someone else whom Tamaki was 'destined for', to use the cliché terms that the blond seemed to love so much. There was another person that Tamaki would be marrying – a girl from France, perhaps, or perhaps someone younger than them who wasn't part of Ouran yet. Kyouya had observed Tamaki and his surroundings very closely – for his own sake if nothing else – and he had never seen the other end of the red thread around Tamaki's ring finger.

Kyouya looked down to his own hand, flexing the fingers. The smirk turned upside-down when he saw the red thread around the ring finger. This was not the first time in his life that he wished for a pair of scissors capable of cutting the detested red threads that seemed to be able to play him like a puppeteer.

But the last few times he had tried, the scissors simply went through the strings – they were not material. 'Symbolic', Kyouya supposed, was the word to use.

And only he could see them. It was sometimes a useful ability, but usually...

Looking at Tamaki's reflection through the tinted glass windows of the car, Kyouya vowed silently to never fall in love with him.

Hiding behind another black notebook and the scritch scritch of his pen on paper, Kyouya watched Tamaki as the blond ran around the Third Music Room, his behaviour akin to a headless chicken. A panicking headless chicken. Kyouya smiled, and ducked his head.

There was a peculiar, irresistible charm to Tamaki, Kyouya mused, something that was a mixture of a puppy's innocence and stupidity, a prince's charisma and charm, a king's leadership and magnetism, and a jester's flamboyance. The boy was a whole royal court in himself.

More than his bright blond hair, it was Tamaki's optimistic and sheer, unbelievable sincerity in everything he did that drew people to him like a moth to a flame. Tamaki's smile made people trip over themselves trying to please him, just so they would have the fortune of having that charming smile and bright eyes turned onto them again.

Kyouya knew he was no exception, no matter how much he had tried to convince himself otherwise.

Tamaki had saved him from painting inside the frame all of his life, after all, just as he had saved every member of the Host Club in one way or another. He had done it nigh unconsciously, with all his heart and all of his sincerity, with a bright smile that pierced into their hearts as harshly as Eros's arrows.

Hikaru and Kaoru giggled in synchrony and pinned Tamaki to the couch, teasing him mercilessly. Kyouya looked at the strong, near-glowing red thread connecting their middle fingers together, the brightness contrasting against the soft pastel of the couch and the blues and beige of their school uniforms.

Who is not Kaoru, is Hikaru. Who is not Hikaru, is Kaoru.

Honey-senpai laughed at the side, sitting atop Mori-senpai's shoulder. The older boy smiled indulgently and patted the head of the bunny offered to him. Their little fingers were linked by a red thread, strong and unbreakable.

There were footsteps outside the door, soft and plodding. Kyouya adjusted his glasses.

"We have guests, gentlemen," he announced.

Everyone froze, then scrambled to get into position, Tamaki shouting for his subjects to hurry up and 'pay homage to the King'. Everyone ignored him. The door started to open.

Kyouya's breath caught in his throat in the middle of 'Welcome'.

Tamaki's ring finger thread was being pulled taut. It had always been slightly slack, but now...

Suddenly the air in the room became so much thinner. Kyouya's eyes widened at the shimmering red thread connecting Tamaki's ring finger to the person standing at their door: a wild-haired boy, with large dark eyes half-hidden behind oversized glasses, practically drowning in a brown sweater and slacks. The school's newest attraction: the freshman 'special student'. Kyouya's lips quirked upwards.

He watched as Tamaki chased the girl-not-boy around the room, his mind entirely blank. There was a fist closing over his heart, squeezing and squeezing and– Kyouya could not breathe. He closed his eyes, his hands tightening around his notebook.

The girl's near-shriek made him open his eyes, just in time to watch her skid backwards away from Tamaki's touch, eyes wide and horrified.

Perhaps it was fate, Kyouya thought, and laughed at the irony as she knocked over the vase, sending it smashing onto the floor and breaking into a million pieces. The crash resounded in his ears; in his chest.

This solved many problems, Kyouya tried to keep his own thoughts brisk and objective. He no longer needed to engineer an excuse for this 'Fujioka Haruhi' to stay in the club so as to keep her near Tamaki. Her new debt was practically tailor-made for it.

Kyouya smiled, and stepped forward.

Since Tamaki had seen through him that first time, that vow he had made two years and an era ago had been smashed all over the floor like the vase that 'Fujioka-kun' had just broke.

He picked up a piece and closed his eyes, pretending that it didn't resemble his heart.

"What shall we do, Tamaki?"

The thumb, as the finger with the most autonomy, represents the will.

The index finger, as the finger used to point, represents one's authority and ambition.

The middle finger, as the longest and most prominent finger, represents one's identity.

The ring finger, as the finger that one puts rings on, represents our creativity.

The little finger represents relationships.

Kyouya closed the window and leaned back against his chair, frowning and irritated. He pulled a hand through his hair.

All the websites and books he had read about the significance of 'red threads' and 'fingers' had told him the same things, and he knew that it was all true. To a point.

It was the ring, not the little, finger that represented relationships; romantic ones. He had seen many married couples (his parents not included) with red threads joining their ring fingers together, a bond purer and more unbreakable than the most expensive of rings.

He still had no idea what the little finger symbolized. Other than Tamaki, there were only two others he knew of who had the red thread wound around their fingers: Honey-senpai and Mori-senpai.

Perhaps it meant friendship, Kyouya thought, and made a note of it in his notebook. That interpretation fitted all permutations – only three, but still – of the use of the little finger he had seen so far. Perhaps–

Kyouya did not miss the implications of that interpretation, and it made his heart ache and his throat burn. But this pain he was used it, and he knew now that it would never stop.

Because it was fate.

Because his heart was in Tamaki's hands, and had been ever since Tamaki broke his porcelain mask and forced him to reveal his true self. However, it was to Haruhi that Tamaki's heart belonged to, and it would always be so. And Haruhi's heart belonged to Tamaki. These were facts as undeniable as the threads that connected them to each other. Kyouya knew – he had tried. He had tried to ignore the threads, waiting for a sign – any sign – of Haruhi returning Tamaki's affections.

They just hadn't realized that it was destined for them to be together. Kyouya wasn't surprised.

After all, Tamaki's awareness of himself could fit into a small teaspoon, and despite her observant nature, Haruhi was the same.

How perfectly annoying, to be honest.

Turning his eyes away from the computer screen, his attention was captured again by the antics of his fellow club members as they entertained their guests.

Hikaru seemed perfectly aware of his own feelings for Haruhi, and had come to terms with them. He, like all of them except Haruhi herself, was aware of Tamaki's feelings for the girl. In this, he was miles and miles ahead of the other two.

Haruhi, on the other hand, seemed to have realized that she had fallen head over heels for Tamaki. It was a fact that she had acknowledged but not yet gotten used to, and Hikaru's feelings for her only complicated things further. She was confused, but at least she was aware.

Tamaki was the worst of them all, Kyouya sighed to himself, pushing his glasses up his nose. Only the densest of men could have mistaken romantic love to be parental, but there was never a doubt that Tamaki was the densest man on Earth. But Kyouya understood. He knew why Tamaki had made that 'misunderstanding'.

Romantic love had, in Tamaki's experience, caused his parents much pain and suffering. It was unquestionable that Tamaki had noticed that his father could not see him and his mother as frequently as a father and husband should. The rare, insightful side of him must have also noticed what Suoh Yuzuru and Anne-Sophie had undergone because of the romantic love they held for each other.

Familial love was most likely simply just so much easier, in Tamaki's world, and it was something he missed sorely. He couldn't see his mother now, after all, and his father was frequently far too busy to pay attention to him. His grandmother hated him. Familial love was what Tamaki missed, and it was something pure and simple, which was why Tamaki kept this family setting in the Host Club.

Of course, this was all purely unconscious, as was Tamaki's wont. The blond probably had no idea of his own thought processes, but Kyouya knew exactly how that idiot's mind worked. He knew that Tamaki's current obliviousness was the manifestation of his fears.

Tamaki, right now, was stuck in a rut that he couldn't find a way out of by himself. The more he held onto his fantasies of a Host Club family, the less he would be able to overcome his fears. That was why he needed Haruhi. Tamaki needed Haruhi to be happy.

Kyouya knew that as well as the back of his hand by now.

He rested his hands on the keyboard of his laptop, letting the glare of the screen shade his eyes from scrutiny.

Kaoru might have extracted a promise from them to not interfere unnecessarily, but Kyouya had always kept his promises. But he was also a master at finding loopholes.

Besides, he smiled wryly to himself, what sort of a 'wife' he would be if he ignored his 'husband's' blatant need for help?

Hikaru's ring finger was not tied to a red thread, a fact that was not unexpected. Not everyone had every finger adorned by the red string, after all. Fate liked to keep up the pretence of free will.

Having a red thread connecting you to someone meant that that person would always be one of the most important people in your life.

Hikaru's only thread led right to Kaoru. Kaoru, however, had another thread on his ring finger, the end of it slack and stretching out for eternity because he hadn't found his other important person. (This was the reason why Kyouya had never been fooled by the twins – he could always tell which was which. But there was no benefit in letting this knowledge be known, so he had kept his mouth shut and let Haruhi force open their door.)

Kyouya had never been worried about Hikaru and Kaoru's relationship, because they were bound so tightly together that they formed part of each other's identity. The red thread never lied, Kyouya smiled bitterly, and turned his mind back to the situation.

It would be useless to tell Hikaru to give up, he knew. Hikaru's nature was a contradiction in itself – the more he was told to not do something, the greater his urge to disobey and do it. Kaoru, on the other hand, was far more reasonable.

"Kaoru," Kyouya said softly to him one day, standing to the corner and watching Hikaru, Tamaki and Haruhi played their comedy of errors. "Who do you think Hikaru loves – Haruhi who expanded your world, or Haruhi herself?"

The younger twin looked utterly stunned for a moment, tilting his head to the side. "They are the same person, Kyouya-senpai."

Kyouya shook his head, "No, it's a different matter." He closed his eyes for a moment, "Figure it out yourself."

Kaoru was quiet for a long moment. It was obvious that he did not understand. "He really loves her, you know."

"I am not disputing that," Kyouya replied calmly. "Shall I reword it?" He turned around and faced Kaoru fully, looking the twin in the eyes.

"If it was someone else, say, a new transfer student, who had managed to tell the two of you apart and forced your world to open, would Hikaru fall for her?"

He walked away as Tamaki waved him over, ignoring the thoughtful stare that Kaoru was aiming at his back.

Phase one.

Haruhi's threads numbered two: her ring finger and her middle finger. The thread linked to the latter was severed, limp – the person on the other side was dead. Kyouya could only assume it to be Haruhi's much-exalted mother.

After all, Fujioka Ryoji's ring finger thread was severed at the exact same length.

For phase two, Kyouya needed to talk to Haruhi alone. Getting her into such a state wasn't an easy task, but he had resources that the others didn't – he simply visited Haruhi's home the night after club activities. Ranka-san welcomed him in with a wide smile and tea, and left the two of them alone after fussing over Haruhi slightly.

Kyouya left the tea on the table and did not drink a drop, leaning his head on a hand as he watched the girl.

"What is it that you wanted, Kyouya-senpai?" Haruhi asked, slightly nervous but mostly impatient. "I have studying to do."

Kyouya simply smiled in reply, turning to stare out to the streets. When he spoke, his tone was contemplative.

"Tamaki loves you," he stated simply, and nearly laughed as Haruhi immediately flushed a bright, flaming red. "He has loved you ever since he first called you his 'daughter'."

"Kyouya-senpai," she tried to begin, but was silenced when he raised a hand.

"You know his family background, Haruhi," he continued calmly. "His parents weren't married, but they loved each other dearly." A fond smile tugged on his lips, and he did not see Haruhi's eyes widened at the affection she could see in his eyes.

"Tamaki had once told me that his favourite childhood memories were of those times when his father could visit him and his mother – something that happens once every few months. He loves those times the most because that was when his mother's smile was the most radiant. When his father wasn't there, her smile was sad, melancholic, and slightly pained."

He turned back to Haruhi, picking up the cup of tea, "Despite his constant declarations of romantic love for those 'princesses' of his, Tamaki doesn't understand the way most people do."

Standing up, he carried the cup over to the sink. He knew, without having to ask, that she knew what he was hinting at. Haruhi was, after all, a very intelligent person. Tamaki had good taste at last.

His smile had just the slightest edge of bitterness and sorrow.

"Haruhi." The girl lifted her head to face him, large luminous eyes entirely filled with confusion. "He's an idiot, so you will have to make the first step." He dropped a hand onto her shoulder, and then withdrew it.

"Just think about it. I'll see myself out."

Tamaki's three red threads almost glowed in the dimness of the room: the ring finger for Haruhi, the middle for Anne-Sophie, and the little finger for Kyouya himself.

They were studying together, as per their usual schedule. It was a weekday, after all. But what was unusual was Tamaki's near-complete silence.

Kyouya was a patient man. He simply waited, hands flying over his keyboard as he typed out an essay for English class. He watched Tamaki out of the corner of his eye. After a few long moments, Tamaki finally spoke. "Ne, kaa-san?"

Kyouya smiled, turning to the blond and tilting his head slightly to the side. "Yes, tou-san?"

For what reason Tamaki had designated him as 'Mom', Kyouya did not know. Perhaps it was because they were in the same year. Or perhaps it was because Tamaki was slightly delusional.

"I think..." Tamaki drew up his knees, hugging them to his chest."I think I like... like Haruhi, kaa-san."

The world blacked out for the briefest of moments. Kyouya blinked.

He had never realized before today that a heart could hurt this much. He wondered briefly if he was going to have a heart attack. His hands shook slightly, and he picked up his cup of tea, gripping it, to force himself to stop trembling.

Closing his eyes for a few seconds, he just breathed. He had known this would happen; had nearly orchestrated it to happen. Yet... yet it still hurt so much.

Kyouya took a sip of the tea before putting down the cup, leaning against the table as he pushed down the lid of his laptop, fully meeting Tamaki's violet eyes. He smiled wryly.

"So you finally noticed."

Tamaki's jaw dropped open and he gaped like a landed fish for an instant. Then he closed his mouth with a loud click, dragging a hand through his hair. "Why didn't you tell me, kaa-san? No, no! More importantly!" he flailed his arms about. "More importantly, kaa-san, this is wrong! I'm her daddy! This is just... I'm such a pervert," he moaned aloud, curling back into a ball.

Kyouya stood up and walked around the table to Tamaki's side. Dropping down into a crouch, he reached forward and tilted Tamaki's head to get the blond to look at him.

"You're not," his voice was sharp and firm, causing Tamaki's head to snap upwards, eyes wide. "You're not her father, Tamaki, nor do you love her as one."

Tamaki's breath caught in his throat in mid-protest.

"Tamaki, you're an idiot. You don't have to be scared. You're not your father, nor is Haruhi your mother. Aren't you Tamaki before you're Suoh? That's what you told her, are you going back on your words now?" He shook his head, and Tamaki gasped. Kyouya took it that he finally understood."

Boring his eyes into Tamaki's, Kyouya chose his next words carefully, "Just because you love Haruhi like a man loves a woman doesn't mean that she'll automatically get hurt or stop smiling. She's stronger than that – you know that. Besides," he smiled wryly, "anyone who wants to come between you two will have to get through us first."

He sat back and stood back up, gathering his books and walking to the door. He paused then, and delivered the final blow, "If you can't overcome this trial, then how can you prove yourself to your grandmother?"

Opening the door, he exited the room. He didn't think that he could stand it when Tamaki finally realized his feelings.

He leaned against the door and closed his eyes. Everything was falling into place, all according to plan. So why...

So why did it hurt so much for him to simply breathe?

The next few days went back to a whirlwind of normality – Haruhi still blushed when she looked at Tamaki; Tamaki was his usual exuberant, idiotic self; Hikaru continued to try to woo Haruhi.

Kyouya, armed with a mother's patience, simply waited, his eyes hidden behind a clipboard and glasses.

Two weeks and one day after his little 'talk' with Tamaki, Kyouya was the only one silent when their idiot savant of a king declared, in his usual flamboyant manner, that he and his dearest, cutest Haruhi (not daughter, never again), were together, and was that okay with everyone?

"We must have cake!" Honey-senpai announced joyfully, holding up his stuffed toy in the air. "Cake to celebrate! Na, Takashi?"

"Aah," Mori-senpai nodded in affirmative, smiling.

Hikaru had his arms crossed, a dark glare marring his features. Kyouya's hands tightened on his clipboard – the twins had always been sore losers, after all.

Then, Hikaru sighed. "You better take good care of her, idiot lord," he muttered finally, almost pouting.

Kaoru, who had been watching anxiously, laughed, slinging an arm around his twin's shoulder. "Big brother has finally grown up!" he teased.

"Oy!" Hikaru protested immediately, reaching around to aim for Kaoru's ribs. "That's unfair! Take that back!"

As the room dissolved into chaos with Honey-senpai joining into the fray, Kyouya saw Tamaki turn and give Haruhi a blindingly bright smile, so full of love that Kyouya's breath choked in his throat.

Haruhi smiled back, her cheeks slightly flushed, gentle and beautiful, and oh the red thread connecting them was glowing so. But Kyouya kept his eyes on the new couple, trying to reason the burning behind his eyes and the trembling of his fingers away. He had done the right thing.

He had.

After all, Tamaki and Haruhi were fated to be together. This wasn't a competition or game that he could win – Kyouya would never play with Tamaki's feelings that way. Besides...

Even if there was a game, Haruhi had won the moment she stepped into the Third Music Room.

Kyouya watched Tamaki for a long while more, hiding behind his notebook and his glasses. He marvelled that it was possible for the blond to shine so much brighter now than before, when 'before' he had shone like a sun. Kyouya watched him, and congratulated himself on a job well done.

He had done the right thing.

So why did his self-congratulations feel so suffocatingly hollow?

"That wasn't very fair, Kyouya-senpai," Kaoru dropped onto the seat beside him, swinging his legs slightly.

Kyouya's hands paused in typing, turning around and raising an eyebrow in silent question.

"You promised not to interfere unnecessarily," Kaoru pointed out. "But you did anyway."

Kyouya chuckled, pushing his glasses up his nose. "I beg to differ, Kaoru. I found the interference extremely necessary."

Kaoru blinked at him for a moment, and then laughed. "That's just like Kyouya-senpai, twisting my words like that."

"That would be a pot calling the kettle black, wouldn't it?" Kyouya countered, shrugging.

There was a short silence before Kaoru, folding his hands behind his head, spoke again, "Ne, Kyouya-senpai, what merit did it bring you to help Tamaki-senpai?"

The egoist mask slid on easily, as natural as a second skin. Kyouya gave the younger boy a smirk, "Tamaki, and thus the Suoh family, will owe me for the rest of my life."

Kaoru tiled his head to the side, "You believe that Tamaki-senpai and Haruhi will be together for that long, Kyouya-senpai?"

Kyouya let his eyes slide over to Tamaki, to his ring finger and the unbreakable red thread. He thought about the bodyguards he had following the two of them (following all of the Host Club, actually, including Honey-senpai and Mori-senpai because, really, martial arts did no good against guns) whenever he couldn't watch over them himself.

A director wouldn't let his play's best couple come to harm, would he? Kyouya closed his eyes and smiled.


Perhaps Tamaki would say that there was something poetic and heroic about living with a broken heart, but to Kyouya, it was all just terribly inconvenient.

To put it lightly.

He was starting to dread seeing his best friend daily, because every time he saw the blond his chest would constrict and made it difficult for him to breathe. The spine of his notebook was starting to crack from how hard and how often he gripped it.

Unrequited love, he wrote in his notebook to take his eyes off Tamaki and Haruhi, bears no merit whatsoever. In fact, the detriments of such an endeavour deserve a warning against it. He smirked slightly at that, half-amused and–

"Kyou-chan, you think too much," Honey-senpai's voice suddenly came from Kyouya's left. Said dark-haired boy's mind screeched to a halt, and it was only his self-control that prevented him from jumping.

He really was far too distracted if people could sneak up on him, he scolded himself as he turned to face his upperclassman.

"What are you talking about, Honey-senpai?" His tone was perfectly polite and neutral.

But it was Honey-senpai's tall shadow who answered, rather abruptly, "Tamaki might just surprise you."

Kyouya just blinked. Honey-senpai and Mori-senpai did indeed have the rather annoying habit of speaking Cryptic, a language that no one else could understand. He simply tilted his head to the side – a look of curiosity.

Honey-senpai beamed at him. Mori-senpai smiled, and squeezed Kyouya's shoulders lightly.

"Kyou-chan, sometimes you have to stop thinking so much and just feel, ne?" With that enigmatic last sentence, Honey-senpai and Mori-senpai left to greet their next customers.

Leaving Kyouya entirely confused and rather annoyed, because he hated the former emotion – it suggested that he did not understand, and Kyouya hated not knowing. He shoved the thoughts to the back of his mind and turned back to his laptop.

Duty called.

Kyouya closed the last cupboard with a satisfactory thump. He surveyed the empty Music Room with a slightly wistful smile.

As usual, he had stayed behind after everyone had left to clear up and finish calculating the day's profits and the schedule for the next day. Well, mostly as usual – usually Tamaki was with him, chattering his ear off.

But, Tamaki now had someone else's ear to chatter off – he had left with Haruhi, the first ones to leave in fact, so he could bring her home 'the commoner way'. And Haruhi, of course, had not refused him. No one could refuse Tamaki once they had fallen to his charms.

Leaning his forehead against the window and enjoying the coldness, Kyouya mused that there was something to be said about Ouran's architecture, especially when matched against the setting sun. He amused himself by contemplating on the costs of the limestone and the marble that was used to build the school, not to mention the steel with gold gilt; the clay and porcelain, and a million other materials that he only had superficial knowledge of.

The Ohtoris didn't specialise in real estate or architecture, after all.

Kyouya let out a soft exhale and closed his eyes. The quiet was... unsettling. As strange as it sounded, Kyouya had grown used to the noise.

But the source of the noise was gone, wasn't it?

Kyouya growled softly to himself. His thoughts were running in absolute circles, and he was right back where he started.

Heartbreak was difficult to handle. It made him inefficient, drove his mind into irrationality, made his chest hurt to the point of checking his family records for cases of heart attacks. He had found none, of course.

He heard the turn of the knob, and then footsteps – but he didn't move, for those footsteps were as familiar to him as his own.

A pair of arms wrapped around Kyouya's shoulders, and Tamaki dropped his head to rest on the left one. Kyouya tensed slightly – the overly physically affectionate idiot. "What is Mom thinking so hard about?" Tamaki asked, almost idly.

Kyouya spotted Haruhi standing a little distance away. He closed his eyes and sighed. "I thought I told you to quit with the family game, Tamaki," he reminded wryly.

Tamaki shook his head, "You just told me to stop calling Haruhi 'daughter'. You didn't say a thing about calling you 'Mom'."

Kyouya shrugged slightly. He didn't actually mind if Tamaki still wish to continue on with that little game – after all, it was just a game; a proof of Tamaki's idiocy. He turned slightly to look at the blond, "What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to walk Haruhi home?"

"I... wanted to ask you something, Kyouya," Tamaki murmured. Haruhi started walking towards them again, her footsteps getting nearing.

Stepping backwards out of the warmth, Kyouya asked, "What is it, Tamaki?" Tamaki didn't answer immediately, smiling gently before he reached up and tucked a strand of Kyouya's hair behind his ear.

Then, in a move mirroring what Kyouya had done two weeks ago, Tamaki tilted his head up and kissed him.

Kyouya's eyes widened to an almost comical size behind his glasses and he gasped. Tamaki took immediate advantage of his open mouth and snuck his tongue in, licking the roof of Kyouya's mouth and Kyouya's mind nearly disappeared entirely. Then – a flash of brown at the corner of his vision.

His hand rose, gripping onto the fabric of Tamaki's uniform for a moment before he pushed the other boy away, hard.

"What..." he was panting slightly, a hand covering his mouth. "What the hell was that, Tamaki?" His eyes blazed with anger, the other hand clenching around the windowsill.

It was just so much easier to let the anger take over rather than the hope. He turned his eyes to Haruhi.

"I hope that you can give me a satisfactory explanation for allowing him to pull that little... stunt." His tone was cold enough to freeze the air around them.

But both of them were unfazed – Tamaki didn't even break into his usual theatrics. Kyouya's glare darkened.

Finally, Haruhi answered, "You helped us a lot, Kyouya-senpai. So we want to thank you, and..." she sighed, trailing off as she turned to look at Tamaki. Before Kyouya could respond, Tamaki picked up the end of her sentence and continued.

"I've been thinking a lot about what you said, Kyouya," Tamaki's voice was as serious as it was when he had first saved Kyouya from himself. "About Haruhi being my daughter."

He took a deep breath, "I love Haruhi, but... Kyouya, I didn't designate just anyone to be 'okaa-san' in my family, Kyouya."

"What are you trying to say, Tamaki?"

Haruhi made an exasperated sound as she shook her head. "Just get to the point, Tamaki-senpai." Tamaki pouted at her for a moment, then turned his full attention back to Kyouya.

"I love you, Kyouya," he said sincerely, and his eyes were so bright and hopeful. Kyouya's heart was beating so fast, roaring in his ears and he could hardly believe his senses. He must be dreaming. That was the only logical solution.

But their touches were so real, and Kyouya had never been one to come up with fantasies like this, especially not fantasies that surprised him into speechlessness.

"Kyouya?" Tamaki sounded worried now, fretful. "Um... Kyouya! Say something!"

Kyouya's eyes were drawn to Haruhi's hands by her side, to Tamaki's hand now on his cheek. The red thread connecting the two lovers was so bright and obvious that Kyouya closed his eyes, his shoulders slumping slightly. His own thread was on the little finger, he reminded himself, and took a breath.

"You... I can't do what you want me to, Tamaki." His voice was gentle; tired. He took both of their hands in his, as if they would be able to see the thread connecting them. "You two... are fated for each other. I can't come between that."

The red threads were one of the most solid constants in his life – they were always correct. He had no place here.

"But we want you to, Kyouya-senpai," Haruhi stated bluntly, as if it was the most logical thing in the world. This wasn't just Tamaki's wish, he realized.

"Kyouya," Tamaki said before he could answer. "I don't understand what you mean by fate, but... I don't care. I don't care." Violet eyes bore into grey, and Kyouya didn't flinch, no matter how much he wanted to. "I won't let you give up. You give up too easily, Kyouya, but... Maybe I'm selfish, but I love you. I love Haruhi, but I love you too, Kyouya.

"It is such a bad thing if I want the both of you by my side?"

"Kyouya-senpai," Haruhi said quietly, "I... The both of us want you with us."

Kyouya's head reeled. For a moment, he felt utterly out of his depth. He looked down, staring at the red threads running between the three of them. Then he looked at Tamaki's determined, loving eyes and Haruhi accepting ones.

Tamaki might just surprise you – Mori-senpai's words.

He closed his eyes, and let a small, genuine smile curve his lips. He leaned into Tamaki's embrace. When he answered, his voice was soft, almost marvelling.


As Haruhi wrapped her arms hesitatingly around his waist and Tamaki beamed bright as a star and stole his lips, Kyouya wondered if this was still a dream.

"I have an ally to deal with you now, Tamaki-senpai," Haruhi said, dry as dust and a little muffled.

Tamaki sputtered, causing Haruhi to laugh. Kyouya watched them, and thought that he really should have predicted this.

It didn't matter what the little finger symbolized anymore. It simply ceased to matter because, well, Tamaki wasn't a person to adhere to such things as 'fate'. Tamaki broke rules and expectations as he spun through life like a hurricane. He did whatever that made him and everyone else whom he cared for happy – destiny, propriety, rules... they were all completely useless in the face of Tamaki's brightness and optimism.

Tamaki couldn't be tied down or made predictable by such a flimsy thing as a red thread between fingers. He loved; he wanted; and he got whatever he wished for eventually. It was the penultimate of selfishness and childishness, yet...

Kyouya wouldn't want him any other way.