Kaoru stared outside at the broken, dead trees in the front yard, their trunks only a shade darker than the nighttime sky, unbroken by stars, the moon hidden behind a thick cloud cover. Fall had come and gone rapidly, and winter had arrived, bringing with it that biting chill that sank deep into one's bones and settled there, so that Kaoru never seemed to feel warm. Even the fire crackling and dancing merrily didn't seem to chase away the constant cold, and so Kaoru huddled deep into his comforter, staring outside.

It was hard to believe that it was only mid-October. Winter hadn't even officially arrived yet, but the coldness swept months ahead of it, a glimpse of things to come once the snow began to fall. Kaoru sighed, wishing his brother was home, but Hikaru was gone for the night, having left earlier in the day to visit Haruhi at her modest home, before stopping by Tamaki's place and seeing what he wanted, since he had called earlier, wailing about something.

So Kaoru had been left alone in the Hitachiin mansion for the day. Hikari had, of course, invited him to go along, but Kaoru had refused, begging off on the grounds that he had homework to do before their fall break ended, and would be grateful for a night of silence, without the distractions that his brother caused on an hourly basis.

The day had been quiet, as promised, and Kaoru had made decent headway on his homework, bypassing lunch in favor of finishing up his last assignment. Now he'd have the final three days of their break to relax. After a quick, but extravagant dinner, catered by stoic personnel, Kaoru had retreated to his bedroom to sleep. Still, once he was up there, he found that he couldn't fall asleep, bereft of his brother's presence.

Which left him where he was now, huddled in a comforter on the window seat staring outside at the oppressive darkness, his thoughts chasing each other in circles. With a sigh, he closed his eyes, leaning his forehead against the cool glass, his thoughts on his brother. Hikaru had always been with him, the only person who had always understood and supported him. And until Haruhi had come along, he had been the only person that Hikaru would rely on, that would be allowed to see his twin's vulnerable side.

Not that Kaoru begrudged Hikaru's attraction to Haruhi. Of the two of them, Hikaru had always been the more easily wounded, while Kaoru was more grown-up, less susceptible to the insensitivity of others. So it was natural for Hikaru to attach himself to the one person who could tell them apart, who was completely clueless as to her own attraction and the way she affected the members of the Host Club.

Still, Kaoru couldn't help but feel the tiniest bit of jealousy towards their naïve, guileless classmate. After all, it was her innocent and honest way of living that had attracted all of them at one point or another. Even Tamaki and Kyouya had found themselves intrigued by her, and if he wasn't mistaken – which he rarely was – their fathers were trying to set their sons up with Haruhi, the rivalry as lively and intense as always. It amused Kaoru to watch them sometimes, bickering over Haruhi's oblivious head. Still, it opened up an opportunity for Hikaru to slip in there unnoticed, but as long as Haruhi remained as clueless as usual, there was no chance for him.

Another shudder wracked his body, and Kaoru sneezed. He hoped he wasn't getting sick, but supposed he should probably curl up on the bed instead of continuing to lean against the cold glass. Shifting, Kaoru slowly rose, turning his back on the pitch-black night and drifted towards the bed, falling onto it with a soft thump. His room was dark and warm, but the chill wouldn't leave him, sunk deep into his bones.

Sighing miserably, Kaoru curled up into as small a ball as possible, his legs tucked up towards his chest and his arms wrapped around his knees. It was a familiar position, one he used to adopt when there was a thunderstorm and his twin wasn't in the room with him. He wasn't scared of storms, exactly, but he didn't like being without his twin for long stretches of time, and if Hikaru was anywhere other than the house, it was guaranteed that he wouldn't return until after the rain had stopped falling.

Drifting into a fitful sleep, Kaoru dozed restlessly, tossing and turning in the king-sized bed. Every little creak disturbed him, startling him into wakefulness as he sat up in bed, staring outside at the blackness. He found himself wishing for even a few stars to light the night sky, to break up the unending darkness. Eventually, though, he'd drift back into a light doze, unable to sleep properly without his other half curled up beside him, their hands gripping each other loosely, together even in sleep.

A soft thump outside, followed by a muffled curse, and Kaoru was started awake once more. Peering at the nearby clock, he saw that it was only two in the morning. Surely the servants wouldn't be awake yet, or at least not in this wing. Listening to the footsteps coming down the hallway towards him, Kaoru relaxed, pleasantly surprised. Hikaru was home.

The door opened almost silently, and the dim light from the hallway filtered into the room, surrounding the body standing there with a faint glow behind him. "Kaoru? You awake?" Hikaru whispered quietly. Kaoru sat up, answering without words, and Hikaru slipped the rest of the way inside, making a beeline for the bed, stripping as he went.

Finally, he slipped under the covers that Kaoru held open for him, curling up immediately against Kaoru's chest, the warmth from his body spilling onto Kaoru in a rush of heat and pleasure. Hikaru sighed in contentment as they rearranged their bodies, so that Kaoru was flat on his back, Hikaru curled over top of him, his head cushioned on his brother's chest, one hand stroking Kaoru's stomach and hips absently, the gesture soothing and familiar.

"What's wrong?" Hikaru asked softly, his voice hushed in the intimate darkness of their bedroom. Turning his head slightly, he brushed lips over Kaoru's collarbone before moving them slowly up his throat and cheek, eventually finishing at his mouth, kissing him gently, chastely, the touch intended to be comforting.

Kaoru relaxed into the kiss, his mouth slipping open to allow the other's tongue inside. So many people would call their relationship wrong, taboo on at least two different levels. They were both male, and they were twins. Still, as children, and even as teenagers, their parents had never been home, their servants hadn't been allowed to truly care for them, and even the one maid that they had hoped would be able to separate them hadn't been able to in the end.

It had been a natural progression for their relationship to grow from brothers to lovers, and not even society could make them feel guilty or ashamed of their intimacy. It was just Kaoru and Hikaru, brothers and lovers, each other's best friend and strongest support.

"You're thinking too hard again," Hikaru murmured into his mouth, breaking off the kiss and snuggling against his twin. Kaoru brought his arm up and combed his fingers through his brother's spikes. Gradually, Hikaru's body relaxed against his, warm and heavy against his own. Kaoru felt his own eyes growing heavy, comforted by the presence of his brother, but he forced the words out of his mouth.

Mumbling tiredly, Kaoru observed, "You came back early." Hikaru just nodded, his left hand still petting along his brother's side. "Why?" Kaoru wondered, all but asleep. Hikaru just shrugged, shifting against him for a moment before settling back down, one of his legs thrown over his brother's, his chest and stomach pressed against Kaoru's side.

"It's dark out tonight. The darkest night we've had so far," Hikaru replied, his voice unexpectedly sweet as his breath tickled across Kaoru's chest, leaving a trail of warmth in its wake. "I didn't want to stay out tonight. Couldn't sleep," he mumbled, his words trailing off as his breath evened out.

Kaoru smiled into the darkness of the room, delighted as his twin's admission. Even with Haruhi and their friends from the Host Club to distract him, he still needed Kaoru, still wanted him.

Tilting his head, he brushed a kiss across the top of Hikaru's head, lips pressing lightly to the silky hair, and mumbled, "Neither could I. So how about we sleep in tomorrow?" A mumbled agreement reached his ears, and Kaoru smiled, closing his eyes. Perhaps dark nights weren't such a bad thing after all, he thought, just before drifting off, cuddled against his brother.