Title: So a Man Sharpens
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Characters: Ootori Kyouya, Suou Tamaki, Fujioka Haruhi
Spoilers: Kyouya's Unwilling Holiday; And Thus, Kyouya Met Him
Summary: It's a simple fact. There's always a price to pay. (Four vaguely interconnected ficlets focusing on the friendship between Kyouya and Tamaki.) 823 words.
Disclaimer: Hatori Bisco's. Not mine, except for the story.
Notes: Title from this Bible quote--"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17).
"What I don't know won't hurt me, right, Kyouya?"
It's an off-hand, teasing comment, delivered with an open smile and shining eyes.
Kyouya dips his head and pushes his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose. What is often deflection and obfuscation, he knows Tamaki sees as delicacy.
"Of course not."
Tamaki claps him on the back and strolls off, hands in his pockets. Kyouya watches him go. His reassuring smile fades. What Tamaki doesn't know...
Friendship. All this because he offered him friendship.
What Tamaki doesn't know...well, Kyouya will never tell him.
Kyouya stares at the tea stalk floating upright in his cup.
Tamaki chatters away, full of schemes, voice bright with happiness that Kyouya's fallen in with his plans. It's infectious, but Kyouya's far too much of a pragmatist to fall under that spell for long.
The host club is a venture that will cost him.
It's a simple fact. There's always a price to pay.
Tamaki has nothing to lose from this. His dreams are grand, but Kyouya knows the cost of doing business. Tamaki never has.
It's only to be expected. Kyouya's strength resides in this--that he cannot lie to himself about his role in this. He can deceive his father, he can delude Tamaki (which does not take much effort, sadly...fortunately), but there will be a reckoning.
He'll be ready.
"You've never told me why he trusts you."
He pauses, pen in hand, in mid-stroke. He doesn't look up, and answers, as he finishes his sentence, "I thought you'd already come to your conclusions about that."
Haruhi sighs, and sits down next to him on the chaise longue, on the edge, hands in her lap. Graceful, he thinks. He doesn't forget (Unlike the others.) that she's a girl. All this he sees from the corner of his eye, as he follows his line of thought through onto paper.
"I think it's obvious," she says.
His pen is running out of ink. He'll have to replace it soon.
"Do you?" He asks, absently.
"Kyouya-senpai. You're ignoring me."
He stops writing. Holds the pen poised. Looks up.
"I apologize. What is it you want to know?"
She raises her eyebrows.
He places the pen in the bend of his notebook and closes it, then balances the book on his knee, holding it in a loose grasp. He breathes in. Patience. "Really, Haruhi. This is old territory. Is it so hard to believe that we both have clear advantages?"
"I'm only asking why."
He hesitates, thinks, If you must know. "Why? That's simple. I've never betrayed him."
"No. But you keep things from him."
Blunt, as always, and true.
"He needs it. Tell me you wouldn't do the same."
"I'm not you, Kyouya-senpai."
"No, you're not. A fact for which we are grateful."
The question gives him pause and he looks at her, trying to figure out her line of questioning. He thinks he knows. Her eyes are clear, not judging, only serious. She deserves to be answered in like gravity, but he can't help but push, just a little.
"For whom are you asking, Haruhi? Yourself or Tamaki?"
She doesn't answer, just gravely looks at him. Kyouya doesn't break the gaze. If he did, she wouldn't come to the conclusion he's arrived at already.
She smiles, eventually. "It doesn't matter," she says, "as long as you keep caring for him, I trust you not to hurt him."
He gapes at her. Her smile fades, as she gets up, but traces of it remain in her eyes. Her hand brushes across his notebook and it slips off his knee. She bends down to pick it up, before he can reach it, and hands it back to him, saying, "Thank you, Kyouya-senpai, for answering my question."
He takes it from her, returns it to its former place, looks down at it, as he spreads the fingers of his hand over the glossy black cover. When he looks up, she's already across the room, the twins, like bookends, on either side of her. He taps the notebook with his index finger, once, twice, before tossing it down beside him.
Curse the girl. It's beyond his understanding how she can see everything else except that which concerns herself.
A sheet of graph paper, with two rows separated by a dashed line into two sections laid out in landscape format, hidden away. The first row is marked 'Ootori - asset' and the second 'Suou - liability', delineated in bold black ink that has seeped through to the other side. Pluses and minuses march unevenly across the rows, creating a staggered pattern.
The totals are marked neatly on the far right. Suou's assets far outweigh Ootori's liabilities by a wide margin. Circled in red, below the two rows, tilted across the pale blue boxes, are the words 'an acceptable loss,' also written in red.