It was the middle of autumn, and the nights were beginning to get quite cold.

Haruhi answered the door in a thin nightgown and slippers, something which struck him as unwise for a number of reasons. She blinked once and fixed him with a blank stare. "Kyouya," she said, half greeting and half question.

"I received a rather frantic call from Tamaki," Kyouya explained smoothly. He hadn't intended to come here again. "Something about eternal darkness?"

"Oh. Right," she sighed and leaned against the door frame, gesturing for him to enter. He noticed how she shivered from the cold and pressed her knees together as he walked past. "It's just a power outage. He was being dramatic, but I guess it's my fault. I forgot to tell him they were doing work on the power lines tonight."

She closed the door, and the front hall fell into darkness. Kyouya could see her vague outline as she fumbled with something, and then the flashlight in her hand, which had somehow escaped his notice, clicked on. Lit from below, her features were thrown into sharp contrast; he looked away when those features shifted into a smile. "Well," he began, facing the patterned glass window of the door, "If there's no emergency, there's no need for me to stay. I can be on my way."

"No, don't worry about it," Haruhi replied, "I'm making tea. I've already got the kettle on, since Tamaki woke Kotoko up. They've only just gone back to sleep." She pointed down the hall with the hand holding the flashlight, flinging shadows across the walls. "You can come in for a bit."

Hardly able to refuse, he followed her almost reluctantly into the kitchen where she rummaged for some candles to light and put the flashlight away. In darkness again, she set three candles across the middle of the table and turned back to hunt down some matches. His eyes tracing the shadowed shift of her back, Kyouya reached into the pockets of his coat to pull out his phone, a pack of cigarettes, and finally a lighter. "I've got it," he said, holding it to the wick and casting the room in the warm glow of the candles.

Haruhi frowned at him over her shoulder. "Thank you," she replied, closing the drawer in front of her and turning her attention to the kettle on the stove. She poured the tea and set two cups on the table, and she picked up Kyouya's lighter as she sat down. It was a shiny silver and, she assumed, ridiculously expensive. Her thumb brushed across the expected grooves of the Ootori insignia engraved on one side. She frowned again and gave Kyouya a look without saying anything.

Kyouya hated that look, an expression caught somewhere between disapproval, disappointment, and the reluctant decision that it was not her business. It flitted across her face at least once every time they met. It's your fault, that withered and bitter part of him wanted to say. Instead, he simply said, "I know." It came out harsher than he intended, but Haruhi only sighed like every other time he said it. He considered himself fortunate not to be called on it.

He seemed to be angry at everything these days; there was a roiling and irritated heat behind all of his actions. Kyouya tried to channel it into a focused rage at what he believed to be the source, but he couldn't hate Tamaki. It was impossible for him. He could hate Haruhi, sometimes for weeks at a time, but all that succeeded in doing was making him sick to his stomach with the mix of anger and guilt that built up.

He observed that Haruhi did not return his lighter. The look was gone; she lifted her tea cup and leaned back in her chair, but the lighter remained tucked in the palm of her hand. He should have found it irritating, and he did, but there was amusement there as well. His lips curved up to the transition point of a smirk and a smile, and he brought his cup to his mouth.

Haruhi still spoke calmly and confidently. Naturally. She still behaved far too comfortably in his company. Her voice lilted across the room as she tilted her head back, eyes half-closed, as she finally began to show the evidence of being unexpectedly woken up in the middle of the night.

Pushed against the back of the chair, the fabric of her nightgown shifted, bunching up near the top and moving her collar to one side. Kyouya's eyes traced the path of her left sleeve as it drifted slowly down her shoulder. He followed the line of the cloth as it continued past her clavicle and dipped into the hollow of her throat. Her voice seemed to fade away from him, white noise to his ears.

Quite suddenly, his thoughts shifted upstairs where Tamaki was most likely now asleep in one half of a large bed, a restless infant tucked against his chest.

Kyouya stood quickly and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he was staring resolutely just above Haruhi's head. He really shouldn't be here.

"Kyouya?" Haruhi set her cup down and gave him a concerned look.

"I'm leaving," he mumbled, shoving his phone in his pocket and fumbling for a cigarette. He glanced at her briefly. She still had his lighter and seemed disinclined to return it, so he leaned over the table and held the cigarette over one of the candles to light it. He had never made a habit of smoking inside, not even in his own home, but he was consumed by more urgent matters.

Haruhi followed him as he crossed the threshold into the hall and reached for the doorknob. No doubt she was puzzled by his odd behavior; but he was done and he was certain of this decision, sudden as it seemed. He was tired of hovering around the edge of her and Tamaki's life.

He opened the door and looked back to take in the sight of Haruhi through the smoke drifting into his line of vision: a woman, wife, and mother shivering in front of him and pulling her sleeve up, confusion on her face. A woman he had no business maintaining ties with.

He dipped his head and turned around. "Have a good night."

Have a good life.