Kyouya let his pencil tap over the name of the Host Club King, and he lifted his eyes from his folder momentarily. The over-energetic blond was currently calm and cool as his fingers danced over his beloved ivory keys. All around Kyouya, women were uttering hushed noises of pleasure and admiration. A certain few even swayed softly at their tables as they sipped their tea. He returned his eyes to his folder again.

Note: Introduction of piano playing to tea ceremonies: success.

Kyouya shut his folder with a snap and adjusted his glasses. Despite his academic records and work ethic, there were some things Tamaki would always be better at. It didn't take number one grades in the class to notice the pattern. Whereas Kyouya always succeeded in analytics and numbers, Tamaki had the upper hand in more humanities related subjects. Literature. Art. Piano. And of course, actual interaction with people and other aspects of sociability. Without fail, Tamaki always gained more customers than Kyouya, every single day.

Kyouya let his eyes wander for a moment, and they found themselves staring at their newest host. Haruhi, dressed in a white suit, as they all were, was serving tea to some of the guests and winning them over with her adorable smile. But as she handed the customers their tea, Kyouya noticed that she would look up towards Tamaki and his piano several times. Her face was soft as she listened to the beautiful melody gliding through the room.

Yes, it seemed no matter how hard Kyouya tried, there were always some things that Tamaki would beat him at.

Everyone was gone. Haruhi and the twins had already cleared out the tables, so the music room was empty of everything except the piano. Kyouya finished balancing out their treasury after today's hosting. Then he logged out of his laptop and stood up. Before he left, he paused at the piano. His fingers twitched at his sides. Since no one was here anyway, he gave into his whims with a sigh and sat down at the piano. He took a while adjusting his posture and fingering the keys, as if he was cautiously getting reacquainted with an old friend after so long, a friend whose last memory of which consisted of an argument and fight. But after a considerably lengthy hesitation, he began.

Kyouya remembered his first piano lesson. He had taken one almost a month after he had first met Tamaki. At first, it was only because of a sheer desire to emulate Tamaki's gift, to create something as beautiful as he could. But when Kyouya had realized just how challenging the piano was, he began to grow bitter. Soon, though Tamaki never knew of his friend's lessons, piano playing became a competition for the two boys. It didn't matter that Tamaki had never made an official declaration; he was Kyouya's rival all the same. Kyouya began to hold secret competitions with the blond all the time, in many other areas as well. But no matter how often he practiced, no matter how hard he worked, the results were the same. Second-best, a title Kyouya was not used to nor particularly liked.

So typical of the third son, Kyouya thought grimly, gritting his teeth. Can't do anything right.

A door creaked. Kyouya paused, drawing out the high note a couple beats longer than he was supposed to. His glanced out of the corner of his eyes to see who had dared to disturb him. Then he smoothly resumed playing, his eyes closed and a soft smirk on his lips.

"Is there anything you need, Haruhi?" he called out to her as his fingers skimmed over the keys.

"Ah, K-kyouya-sempai! It's nothing important," Haruhi stammered nervously, which only made Kyouya's smile widen. "I seemed to have accidentally left my math book in here, so I came back to get it. Then I heard the piano playing and thought it was Tamaki-sempai."

Tamaki . . .

Kyouya's fingers slipped, creating an ugly glitch in what otherwise would have been a perfect song. His brow furrowed. He hated anything less than perfection.

The Otoori heard Haruhi's quiet steps as she looked for her math book, and then her soft intake of breath when she found it. There was a long period of silence after that, which the piano was all too happy to fill.

"I didn't know you played the piano," Haruhi commented after a while.

"It's an old hobby of mine," Kyouya explained coolly. He heard the girl draw closer to it. Kyouya finished the song with an over-the-top flourish, just to impress her, and then his fingers were still. He glanced up at her, adjusting his glasses so that his eyes were hidden by a glare. "Do you like it?"

"Hmmm," Haruhi said, sitting down on the bench next to Kyouya without a single thought. Kyouya tried to fight back his amused smile. "It's good I guess," was Haruhi's blunt reply as she shrugged.

A vein twitched in Kyouya's temple, but he decided to ignore her criticism. He played five short notes going down the scale and asked, "But not as good as Tamaki, right?"


Did she have to be so honest? Kyouya wondered resignedly.

"I don't think anyone can play better than Tamaki-sempai."

She's still talking about it!

"Nope, Tamaki-sempai is definitely the best when it comes to the piano. He's the King, no matter how idiotic he may be."

I wish she would just shut up before I get really pissed off, Kyouya thought to himself, struggling to keep his temper in check.

He quietly shut the cover on the piano. "What does Tamaki have that I lack, Haruhi?" Kyouya asked. He didn't expect Haruhi to answer. Actually, he really didn't even mean to say that out loud. It just sort of escaped his lips before he could really think, something he tried to avoid doing.

Haruhi tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Mmm, I don't really know. I'm not a piano expert," Haruhi admitted. "But, I think it's because Tamaki-sempai's looser with his feelings. He's not afraid to express himself with song."

"Oh?" Kyouya replied, cocking an eyebrow at her.

Haruhi nodded. "That has to be it. After all, isn't the number one goal in art to make people feel something? But if you're locking your emotions up inside and refusing to show what you might think, then how are people supposed to clearly understand the sentiment you're trying to convey? Being honest with yourself and revealing your true intentions without fear. I think that is the main challenge to things of that nature, right?"

Kyouya stared at her for a while, but then he let out a chuckle. "So you think that I should be more open, huh?"

"Well, ordinarily you're always really cold and it's hard to tell what you're thinking, so I'm sure it must affect your piano playing," Haruhi replied. "You don't live up to your full potential, I guess."

"Are you sure you think it's okay for me to be so honest though?" he asked with the slightest crooked grin.

"Why not? I think it would be a nice change," Haruhi said. "People might like you more instead of being afraid of you all the time."

Kyouya heaved a long sigh and propped his head up with his elbow. "Just remember that you're the one who suggested it," he said. His eyes met hers, and with his free hand, he gently reached up to Haruhi's cheek, giving it a soft caress.

Haruhi blinked in surprise and flinched back. "What are you doing?" she asked curiously.

Kyouya chuckled again, shaking his head at her cluelessness. "Taking your advice, that's what."

He slid closer to her and, after a slight hesitation of wondering if this was really alright for him to do, he leaned in. He heard Haruhi suck in her breath sharply, and her body tensed up. But once his lips met hers, Kyouya was relieved to find her relaxing again, her body melting against his. Kyouya didn't hold the kiss for long, because he was still slightly worried that he was making a mistake. When he broke away, he rested his forehead against hers and closed his eyes. "Was that message clear enough for you?" he asked quietly.

Haruhi swallowed, and she muttered a hoarse, "Yes." They sat there for another few seconds before Haruhi jumped to her feet and hurriedly collected her things. "W-well. I'll see you tomorrow, Kyouya-sempai," Haruhi stammered. She forced out a hasty goodbye as she rushed out the door.

Haruhi shut the door and leaned against it, her mind whirling. What exactly had just happened? Barely breathing, the girl brought a hand to her mouth, which was still tingling with his taste. She shook her head to clear her thoughts and stood there for several seconds, trying to calm herself down.

The piano's notes resumed spilling out from underneath the doors, exactly as if nothing had happened. But this time they were different. Haruhi's heart slowed down and matched its soothing rhythm. The sound was both so much sweeter and bitterer than before. Smiling softly, Haruhi gave a little nod to herself. "Exactly," she whispered, relishing the sound with her eyes closed. "I can understand the song perfectly now."

A/N: Yay! Another half day and day off from school=another fanfic for you guys. Aren't y'all excited? Btw, I've never played the piano before, but I do like to listen to it. If anything seems off in the description, it's just because I'm ignorant.