"I find it kind of funny and I find it kind of sad that the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had."

-Mad World, Gary Jules.


Out of Maria's POV

Maria had disarmed Tamaki before he could succeed at turning the gun to his own head.

"Tamaki, quit that suicidal shit. Now is not the time for teen angsting!" Stephanie yelled as she waltzed into the room. Then she looked at the floor and noticed she had stepped in blood, "Gross."

When she looked up she saw Connor and nearly peed herself, "So…you're not dead. B-But there was fire and then you went poof and… Damn, how high was I?" she mused to herself as she assisted in untying him. She voiced into a device, "Mission completed. Connor found on scene. Return mission commenced."

"You smell like...like…" Maria said to Connor.

"Rat piss." Connor elaborated.

And then Stephanie dropped him immediately and proceeded to gag in the corner.

"When we get home we're calling Nana, and she's going to give you a proper bath." Maria insisted. The last time that happened was when Connor broke both of his arms when he fell out of tree. He couldn't bathe himself for an embarrassingly long time.

"No." he said, eyes wide in alarm, "Lock me back up, anything but that!"

As Maria was laughing, she noticed Tamaki was not. His hand was still in a stiff fist, as if he was still grasping the gun.

"Tama, you're scaring me. Quit that." But he did not respond. She proceeded to slug him in the arm while saying, "Stop that!"

He blinked, and cleared his throat. His eyes seemed to be a bit glassy, and it was a bit trivial whether he was all there or not.

"You're a hero. I'd be dead if it wasn't for you." Maria was whispering to him over and over again, yet he couldn't help but think that being a hero did not feel like this at all; rather, he felt the deepest bonds of something sinister resurfacing for the first time in a long time.

And the look in those eyes as life left them…

No, Tamaki decided. He was not a hero at all.


"The Director is dead." said the Anti-Director to the Lorenzo.

He wanted to be ecstatic; go through some kind of rapture or something. Yet the moment was not as Lorenzo hoped it would be. The hole in his chest was still there, and all scars remained. Nothing had changed.

"What?" Lorenzo demanded as surrounding anti-agents stared at him, "Do you expect me to throw a party? You're job isn't over yet. Get a move on!"

All anger seemed to be directed outward, although it was truly directed towards himself. He wondered what it would take to fix himself, and he came to the only undeniable answer: bringing Vivienne back. But that was an improbability. So, he settled on being flawed, like so many of us eventually have to do.


Maria's POV

At the moment of my father's death I did not feel sorrow or shame or guilt. I felt something that resembled regret. I remember feeling that we could have been so much more. I hated those words: could have, should have, would have. The point was we didn't. And, hypothetically, the argument should end there. But we keep wondering, dwelling on things that didn't stand a chance.

I remember Tamaki trembling, eyes wide with disgust and shock.

He was frozen. I knew we were thinking of the same thing—the past.

No one had to die back then.

"You're a hero." I whispered.

And I knew he didn't buy it for a moment. He turned to me, trying to hide the tears in fear that we'd call him a crybaby. But, in a moment like this, I thought it would have been okay to cry.

He said in a very tired voice, one that quivered slightly "Just take me home."


Out of Maria's POV

"Burn, baby, burn!" Kyoya sang as he flipped the final switch; then proceeded to giggle madly as he watched the flames appear before his goggle covered eyes.

Moments later, when all the smoke cleared, the agents were still there as before. Although, they appeared to be unharmed; they were unconscious.

"Bummer." he muttered, pouting slightly.

Lorenzo managed to capture a few stray agents, and then he took the pulse of some of the unconscious ones to make sure they were not dead.

"That's good. They're alive. I don't think my conscience could have taken it if they weren't." Lorenzo mused aloud. It was time that people stopped dying. And, God damnit, that shouldn't be too much to ask at all.


10 hours later

Maria's POV

We had a huge mess to clean up and a lot of deals to settle with various people. It turned out that by default, Tamaki now owned the Agency. And you should have seen the look on his face.

We were on a plane about ten hours from that point, headed home. Kyoya and I were exchanging stories about what was happening, when I got to the part about pointing a gun at my father.

"And of all people I thought of what you would do." I admitted.

"You know they sell 'What Would Kyoya Do?' wristbands, right?" he said with a straight face.

"I'm sure they will in the near future." I said. He was scribbling in his little black notebook, and I just knew he was planning on how to market them.

"What would the Host Club do if I didn't run it?"

"I thought Tamaki-" I started, but I was cut off.

"Shhhhh. That's what we all want him to think." he whispered.

Sensing this was true, I simply nodded.

Joshua then walked by and leaned over my seat, while saying, "So, I heard the Director was your Dad. What other things are you hiding from us?"

"Shitloads of stuff, dude." I admitted, and began to sound serious. I noticed that some eavesdroppers leaned in to hear more, and even Joshua seemed a bit interested.

"I… have a double life…" I announced dramatically. Everyone gasped and then I continued to say the following, "… as a gigolo, and his name is Pablo." I admitted.

Everyone sighed in disappointment and Joshua gave me this glare as he went back to his seat.

"So, how much exactly would one have to pay to meet this Pablo?" Kyoya asked jokingly.

"Pablo's a cheap bitch. You can pay him in food stamps."


Out of Maria's POV

Stephanie sat next to Tamaki for the return trip home. He was very quiet and seemed to be sleeping. She lightly grasped his hand when they got on the plane, and she hadn't let go since.

"I'm proud of you, little rookie." she whispered to his sleeping form, "Then again, I've always been proud of you. But now you've grown up. You don't need me anymore. And…I keep trying to tell myself that's good…because I won't always be around to save you."

She was trying to convince herself more than anything.

"Why? Where are you going?" Tamaki said in a panicked voice. She chuckled. The clever bastard wasn't sleeping at all.

"I don't know!" she said loudly, "Maybe I'll move to England. Maybe I'll settle down. Hmmm, I don't know, get married?"

He pretended to gag and she chuckled, "What? I can be normal! I can totally…hey; maybe I'll even have kids! That'd be nice."

He was laughing to the point of tears, and she was hitting him repeatedly. He just kept laughing, and soon she found herself laughing as well. But then he stopped abruptly, and looked at her worriedly.

"You're not serious, right? About leaving?" she swore those eyes could kill.

"The whole world is out there, kid! I could actually get my teaching degree, or something!" she said, which caused him to smile despite the sinking feeling in his gut.

"Look, I know I pretend like I hate you and everything, which I do sometimes, but I need you. I can't do this. They want to me to run the Agency, and I can't even run a club right! Let's admit something right now, Kyoya does everything. I just show up and look pretty."

Come on, people. Do you actually think Tamaki is ignorant to the fact that he doesn't do jack? He's just a manipulative prick, is all.

"You don't need me." she said again, "I hate to admit it, but you don't. And don't be a pussy and start crying. You have people around here who love you. Be strong for them, kay? If you are, maybe one day I'll come back for you. Me and you, hitting the road. We'd take the world by storm, wouldn't we? But promise you'll be strong."

Reluctantly, he nodded.


When the plane landed in their hometown Stephanie called up a cab. She had said goodbye to everyone already, but just before that she left she kissed Tamaki on the cheek, ruffled his hair and told him to be good, and to be less of a pansy. He was embarrassed, and told her not to treat him like a five year old.

She entered the cab and as it drove off she yelled, "Later, rookie!"

And he yelled back, "Don't call me that!"

The sound of her laughter got lost in the wind.


Maria's POV

When Stephanie left on her journey of self-discovery, she promised to write. Even then, Tamaki was pretty torn up about it. I told him we'd talk about it over some deserts and coffee over at our favorite French café (the only French café in our area).

"She's lying. She won't write." he moaned while we checked out of the airport and walked to the car.

"She's not lying." I said simply.

"How do you know?" he asked.

"Because she has no one else in the world but you." I reminded him.

Tamaki sometimes forgot how lucky he really was. We were almost near the car when he got a tap on the shoulder.

"Mom, not now." he said as he turned around and saw who it was.

"Yeah, ma'am. He can't really deal with anything else today." I explained.

"But this is important. The Agency is in chaos and they need some sort of statement from the higher powers. We quickly need to come up with some orders." she explained.

"We?" he asked, and then seemed to relish the look on her face.

"Well, yes. You can't do this alone." she said, outraged.

"You're very correct. I can't." he turned to me and asked, "Would you, Maria Standford, take me, Tamaki Suoh, as your lawfully crack headed business partner?"

"I do." I said, and couldn't resist the urge to bust out laughing when I saw his mother's face.

"What's the meaning of this, Tamaki?" she asked.

"Well, you see, Mom, you're too selfish. I know you're game. Instead of going to find your own son, you decided to take down the most powerful agency in the world. Why? So you could use if for your own bidding. And I can't let that happen. You planned everything, but you never dreamed in a million years that your son would have the courage to shoot."

She stood, speechless, and then changed tactics. All of a sudden she was the sweetest woman on earth as she said, "My baby boy…"

"I can't, Mom. You know I can't. I'm sorry, but you get no say." he dismissed the conversation, took all of the paper work out of her hands, and walked away.

I couldn't believe it! Twice in the same week! It struck me that Tamaki was becoming a badass.

"You don't think she's going to get into some sort of custody battle with your Dad?" I questioned worriedly.

"Of course not. I'm not of use to her anymore. She'll just disappear."

And she did.


As Kyoya, Lorenzo, Joshua, Connor and I all road home in Tamaki's car, Lorenzo curiously asked him, "What's going to be your first statement?"

Tamaki didn't even mull it over for a second. He said, "We're going to issue an email to them that states: Volunteers only."

Joshua began to chuckle at this, "For once me and Suoh are on the same page."

"Miracles happen every day." Lorenzo reminded us all.

Every hour is more like it.


Before we went to the coffee shop, we stopped by my house to let my mom know Connor and I were home. I noticed Connor was very silent on the ride there, and by the time we got there he ran into the house and hugged Mom like he hadn't seen her in years.

"Mommy?" he said, his face buried in her shoulder.

"Yes, Connor?" she said, slightly confused at the sudden affection.

"I want another hermit crab." he said.

"No. Not after what you did to the last one." she said.

"We'll debate this later. And, there's something else." he confessed.

"Yes, sweetie?" she said, slightly worried now because he still hadn't let go of her.

"I saw Dad yesterday."

I'm not sure if Connor picked up my messages, but I was telepathically telling him to shut his pie hole.

"He's joking, Mom! Next thing you know he'll say he sees dead people. It's an exercise for Drama Club. They're studying that movie, The Sixth Sense?" I explained rapidly while I tugged on Connor's arm.

"I'm not lying! God, I'm just so tired of lying to you, and now I'm trying to tell you the truth."

Mom looked bewildered, like we just bombarded her with snow cones or something. After a moment of silence she looked at Connor and said, "I believe you." Then Connor and she went into the kitchen and I ran out of the door, jumped into Tamaki's car, and told him to step on it.


"So, he's telling her?" He asked before he took a sip from his latte.

"Correction: he told her." I clarified.

"Well, I don't think it's so bad. In fact, this kind of ties into my next decision as Director." Tamaki explained.

"Which is?" I inquired.

"I think it's time our little Mom and Pop operation came out in the open." he said.

"You're shitting me." I deadpanned.

"No. Even after I issued the statement, one-third of them decided to stay. And as you know, that's a lot of people. So, I thought, why not work for the greater good? And that's when it hit me: The Agency is coming out of the closet!" he declared, which earned us quite a few stares.

And then I laughed and threw up all of my papers and charts in the air in surrender. If the whole world is going mad, why not just go along with it?


Out of Maria's POV

After Connor conveyed the whole story to his mom, she wrapped her arms around him and whispered, "I'm sorry."

And then he said, "I'm sorry, too. Wait, what are you sorry for?"

"That I didn't tell you sooner." she confessed.

His eyes grew wide, "Tell me what?"

"I knew. All this time I knew."

"What exactly did you know?" he asked.

"Well, for starters, I knew that your father was training to be the Director. I was planning on divorcing him, but I didn't want to upset you two. And then without my permission he took you two to Paris and I was so worried you wouldn't come back alive. But you did, and I was so grateful. Of course, I genuinely thought he died." she explained.

"So, all those times I went on foreign exchange…"

"I'm not stupid. I pieced together that you must have had a hand in your father's death." she confessed.

"You thought I murdered Dad, yet you still…" he was overcome with emotion.

She hugged him again, "You're my son. My love for you is unconditional."

And out of all the things to think of at this moment, a particular Dr. Seuss line came to mind:

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.

For the first time in a long time Connor accepted what happened, and shed cleansing tears. He'd wake up in the morning, and view all of it as some far away nightmare. Because, it wasn't just about being accepted by others. Connor began to accept himself.


Maria's POV

"Well, what do you know, the lovebirds are back." Kaoru announced nonchalantly. It was a few days after our return into the country. We didn't return immediately due to Agency mishaps.

"Are you referring to me and Tamaki or me and Kyoya?" I questioned, more curious than offended.

"No, Maria. He was referring to Tamaki and Kyoya." Hikaru interjected.

And for some reason Tamaki seemed a bit too flustered about it, and Kyoya was smirking. Oh no. Ohhhhh no.

"NO! Really?" I exclaimed and Tamaki adapted a murderous glare.

"No! It's not how it looks. It's just…it was one time. And it wasn't even me. And I don't even think Kyoya was in his right mind. And…" he continued to whisper but I cut him off.

"So like, you guys had sexy fun lovey dovey time?" I asked. Yeah, I know. Several years of health class and my terminology was equivalent to that of a grade schooler's.

He looked like he was about to vomit, "NO! It was…just a peck…"

"You need to get your definition of a peck checked out." Kyoya interrupted from his desk.

Haruhi overheard and went, "So, does that mean you've always been gay?"

"No!" he exclaimed.

"So, I turned you gay?" she exclaimed and hit him on the arm while pouting.

"No!" he said again.

"I didn't know you could turn people gay." Honey said in a confused voice, and Mori proceeded to cover his ears.

"Youuuu."Tamaki growled while glaring at Kyoya and I.

"Us." we said in unison.

He began to drag me out into the hallway and then he said to Kyoya, "I'll deal with you later."

And, get this, Kyoya went, "Can't wait." with a wink. That sent Tamaki over the edge and he ran out of the room with me following behind.

"He's just…those are the drugs talking." Tamaki said.

"No! Kyoya admitted he had a problem and went to one of those self-reform meetings a couple of days ago. You know that." I said with a chuckle.

"I can't tell the difference between a drugged Kyoya and a normal one. Is that bad?" he asked.

"No. Personally, I think he just likes seeing you flustered. I mean, you look adorable…" I admitted.

"This is no time for compliments! Wait, you think I look adorable?" he asked.

Damn it, he never lets a single compliment slide. So, I distracted him by pretending to have an asthma attack and telling him to go retrieve my inhaler. Which he'll never find.

Wanna know the trick?

I don't have asthma.


Out of Maria's POV

Lorenzo and Kyoya met after school for the third time that week to work on their project. No, it wasn't for school. It was more of a personal ambition.

The two of them realized what a team they truly made when they worked together for the first time, and realized they couldn't make a moment like that go to waste.

So, they did the obvious. They began to form a company.

Of course, it was in its early stages. They took what money they had in their bank accounts (which was more than most of us will see in our lives) and they bought stocks; hoping to gain more money to fund the beginning of their company with.

It just struck Kyoya as so odd. He spent his whole life wishing he could inherit his father's company, and competing for it with his brothers. Sometimes it felt like he was competing for his father's love. And not once did it occur to him that he could do it all alone. That he didn't need someone to do it for him, but he could start from scratch, like the commoners did.

He never felt so liberated and motivated in his life. He actually cared for once.

Lorenzo immediately jumped on the opportunity, since he couldn't see himself living with his rich and overbearing parents for the rest of his life.

"They make me floss between every meal!" he confessed, "Wait, correction, they have someone floss my teeth between every meal. Apparently I can hurt myself."

Both of them knew it now was the time to make a stand, and to get out before it was too late.

"I'll let you name the company. What will we call it?" Kyoya asked.

"Viv-corp." Lorenzo said.

"I like it. It has a ring to it. Does the V.I.V. stand for anything?" Kyoya asked.

Lorenzo merely shook his head and chucked. Oh, if only Kyoya knew. It stood for everything Lorenzo was and ever would be.


A Month Later

Maria's POV

"Okay, so, my bitches, my play is today. And you're all going to be there. End of story." Connor announced over the loud speaker, and then it sounded like he was getting into an argument with the School President before she snatched the intercom and began to make morning announcements.

That night we all dressed up in our best clothes (my best is basically equivalent to Tamaki's worst) and the Host Club plus Lorenzo got reserved seating. Confusingly enough, there was an extra seat reserved. The Twins were already speculating that it was Connor's new girlfriend when someone came to fill the seat.

We all glared as she sat down and took off her cap. She had the balls to wear a simple vintage t-shirt with one of those rock bands on it as well as some shorts and sneakers. She took off her neon green sunglasses and placed in on her lap. Then she said with a dazzling smile, "Missed me?"

"Stephanie, I'd appreciate it if you gave me a notice when you visit! And what's with the outfit?" Tamaki exclaimed.

"Don't you love it? I got it for free!" she leaned in and whispered, "I'm dating this really cute guy and he designs clothes. You'd think he was gay, but apparently not, considering that time in his room when we-"

"I'm going to request you don't share the details." Tamaki interrupted.

"Jealous?" she asked.

"Very." he said sarcastically.

And although I could see she was gearing up to make a really biting comment, most likely about the size of Tamaki's assets, the play started.


Out of Maria's POV

Connor felt that the only good thing that came from his experience as an agent the past few years was that he had a lot of emotion that he could channel into his acting. He knew a talent scout would be there that night, and he put his heart and soul (literally) into the performance. He bared himself to the world, and just hoped it would not laugh at him.

It paid off.

The talent scout met him face to face, and told Connor that he was brilliant. He gave him his card and told him to call to schedule an audition for an agency.

"W-What agency?" Connor asked.

"A talent agency, kiddo. You ever heard of those?"

"Oh. Right. Thanks." Connor smiled.

Connor heard the talent scout talk into his phone on the way out, "Weird kid. But a good kind of weird. And he's wicked talented. Just what we needed."

Connor never felt more invincible in…well, he never felt invincible before.


Maria's POV

We had this supermegawesomefoxyhot singer at our party (Kyoya paid for it) and we celebrated the greatness that is my brother. The food was delicious and the people weren't half-bad either.

Lorenzo had stepped out to take a phone call, after all, he was still Vice-Director.

A few moments later he busted into the room and began to pace with much purpose. Finally, he stopped pacing and proclaimed, "Maria, Kyoya, Tamaki. Outside. Now."

"Is there some sort of situation?" Tamaki questioned.

"Besides you coming out? Yes, there is." he confirmed as we walked out of the door.

At this point Kyoya and I were on the ground laughing.

After we got into a quiet area he whispered to us, "There's a bomber two blocks down in that big building owned by your father's company." he said to Kyoya, "And your father and sister are inside."

"Well, that should be no problem. I'll just employ the bomb squad." Tamaki said.

"That's just it! You issued that order a few weeks ago and now the bomb squad has quit." he explained.

"So you guys are just going to let the building blow up?" Kyoya questioned.

At that moment Tamaki and I made eye-contact.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" I asked.

"Depends. What are you thinking?" he asked.

"That you and I just became the new bomb squad?" I asked.

"Couldn't have said it better myself." I said.

And that's how I learned to disarm a bomb

Although it consisted of a lot of yelling and screaming—"Which wire is it?" "The yellow one!" "The fuck, that's not yellow! That's mustard seed." "You are gay."—we made it out okay.

It was at that moment that it came to me: It doesn't really matter what situations you're forced into. Mental disorders, family problems, losing loved ones, self-esteem issues—you name it. We are not defined by our worst nightmares.

We're all fucked up, but that's not all we are.

We are friends and enemies. We are love and war. We are everything in between.

And as long as we screw ups, nobodies, and losers are there for each other, no matter what happens (kidnapping, bomb scare, questioning of sexuality) we will always make it out okay.

Even with a weirdo like Tamaki Suoh as you're partner in crime.


A/N: This is the end! I really can't believe it. It's been an amazing ride. But I swear, I love these characters to death. They've become a part of me, and I think we all know someone who has had the same problems these characters have. That someone may be you. And it's just brilliant that in the face of such hardships, we're still here. So, I just want you all to give yourselves a pat on the back. You deserve it.

I swear, this was like therapy. I really can't give these guys up. Who knows, maybe one of them will make a cameo in one of my future pieces.

I think writing is cheaper than therapy, don't you? You won't catch me going to a therapist as long as I have a pen in my hand and paper at my disposal (in this case a laptop, but I think pen and paper sounds more romantic.)

Thank you! That's all I have to say. Thank you for letting me share this. It came from the heart.

That's the key to writing: If it comes from the heart you can't go wrong.

Have an amazing day.

NO.

Have an amazing LIFE.

As John Lennon said, "We're all relatively young people. The game isn't over yet."

Show the world what you're made of and you won't be denied.

With Love,

Your New Best Friend.