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Tamaki stands at the window and watches through the glass as Haruhi runs across the walkways, past the fountain and through the gardens. The sight of his "daughter's" determination to arrive at the supermarket before it closes makes Tamaki proud, even if it is only so she can purchase meat while it's on sale.

If she hadn't dashed out the door before Tamaki had a chance to say anything, he would've offered to give her a ride back to her neighborhood in his limousine. Entranced and slightly surprised by how quickly his "daughter" can move, Tamaki continues to gaze at Haruhi's shrinking figure as the Hiitachin twins depart, and Mori and Hunny follow suit after saying goodbye.

Finally, after Haruhi vanishes outside the school gates, Tamaki turns from the window and his lilac eyes focus on Kyouya, who is typing away on his laptop, his fingers dancing rapidly across the keys, as he is frequently found doing.

"Did you hear what Haruhi said?" Tamaki ask softly, the usual buoyancy absent from his voice.

Kyouya does not turn away from his laptop: his fingers pause for only an instant before resuming their task. "Haruhi said many things, Tamaki. To which specific phrase are you referring?"

Tamaki sprawls over the sofa behind the table where Kyouya is sitting, lounging across the cushions. "What she said about her mother. Her mother is dead, remember?"

Never once disrupting his perfect posture, Kyouya rises from his chair, displaying fluid grace and poise in every motion, and moves to join Tamaki on the sofa. When he settles on the settee, Kyouya fixes his gaze on Tamaki.

"I'm curious about the reason you chose to bring this up in conversation," Kyouya says, his eyebrow arching ever so slightly.

Tamaki sits up, positioning himself on the sofa. "Kyouya," he says gently, "I know this might be difficult for you to talk about, but I think that maybe you should. I think it would help you."

A feeling of distinct discomfort washes over Kyouya, but he is careful not to reveal his true feelings in his demeanor. "Presumably, you are referring to the death of my own mother."

Tamaki nods, his expression concerned. "It's been over a year now, Kyouya, and you've never even mentioned it to me. " A hurt expression crosses Tamaki's face. "Have you talking about it with someone else?"

Kyouya can feel every muscle in his body tense, and there was nothing he can do to alleviate his rising frustration about situation, this topic he never wanted to discuss. His jaw wants to clench, to prevent words from spilling out, he wants to rip something apart to allay the tension in his body, he wants to run out of this room to escape the feelings he wishes he doesn't possess.

But instead, he remains in his position of elegant relaxation and coolly gazes into Tamaki's eyes. "I see no reason to talk about this with anyone, Tamaki. It is, after all, my own private business."

A crestfallen expression mixes with the worry on Tamaki's face, and he looks as if he's disappointed. "I had hoped that you and your father had at least-"

Twisted amusement and melancholy battle for dominance of Kyouya's emotions, and in the end he merely looks at Tamaki, quirking an eyebrow. "After all, my wellbeing is my father's top priority."

The words don't flow quite as smoothly as Kyouya is expecting; to be honest, his tone is aggravated and bitter, the words corroded by rancor harbored so deep within himself he didn't know it existed.

Tamaki looks momentarily startled, then his expression softens, and he reaches out and lays a hand on Kyouya's shoulder, ignoring the way his friend stiffens as his touch.

"I know this must be difficult for you, Kyouya," Tamaki said kindly. "And I don't want you to feel as if you have to go through this alone. I'm here for you to talk to. Whenever you need me, just say the word."

Grabbing Tamaki's manicured hand, Kouya deliberately removed it from his shoulder. "That's all good and well, Tamaki, but my mother's death is not something I want to discuss with anyone. Furthermore, I will not discuss it with anyone."

Much to Kyouya's dismay, he could see a glint of steely determination in Tamaki's oddly colored eyes. "Well," Tamaki said firmly, "I think that you need to discuss this with someone. It's unhealthy to keep everything inside. You should share your feelings with someone. It makes you feel better, in the end."

Forcing his chilliest tone of voice possible, Kyouya did his best to appear unconcerned. "To be honest, Tamaki, I think that's pathetic. The idea that people are unable to control their own emotions and need to talk to someone else is rather ridiculous, and we are disempowering ourselves as a society by adhering to such ludicrous views."

Instead of immediately defending himself and his ideas as Kyouya expects, Tamaki leans forward, as if attempting to look deeper into Kyouya's eyes. Ignoring the desperate urge to rise from the sofa and stride away, or at least break eye contact, Kyouya held eye contact with his closest friend, determined not to betray even a hint of weakness.

Tamaki finally chooses to reply after studying him intensely, as if Kyouya is a specimen under a microscope and he is the scientist. "Kyouya, please. I know you. I know you're just saying that to try to change the subject. But honestly, do you think it would be better if everyone was cold and never told anyone else how they felt, just like you?"

"Of course," Kyouya replies icily. "Why does emotion cause someone to become better?"

"I suppose emotion makes everything seem more exciting and sincere," Tamaki says with a small smile.

"There you have it," Kyouya says coldly. "Because of inherent human nature, society is forced to act a certain way, even if they don't honestly feel that way. And people are so willing to be accepted by society that they forget honesty and just follow social standards."

"So you'd rather be honest than put on a show?" Tamaki questions, leaning so close that Kyouya is tempted to shove him away.

Unable to cope with this situation any longer, Kyouya stands and stalks over to the window, gazing outside exactly like Tamaki had only several minutes earlier.

"Kyouya?" Tamaki questions gently.

"Why the hell should people fake emotion?" Demands Kyouya in an uncharacteristic display of anger, pounding his fist against the wall. "It doesn't make a difference. It doesn't make anything more sincere. It's stupid to pretend when in all honesty you don't feel a thing."

Wordlessly, Tamaki stares at Kyouya.

"My mother was a cold, calculating woman, a shrewd partner for my father's business. I barely knew her; it's not uncommon for people of our status to be raised by nurses. My mother spent even less time around me than my father did. I clearly did not interest her in the slightest.

"So why should I cry over her? Her death was sudden and shocking, but I did not know her enough to be devastated by the loss. Besides, if it had been Fuyumi or I, or either of my brothers, do you think that she would waste even a second to shed a single tear over one of us? Of course not.

"And yet," Kyouya leans against the wall for support, a sudden feeling of exhaustion overwhelming him, "I still feel guilty for my inability to be saddened by her death."

Tamaki abandons the sofa and glides over to Kyouya, wrapping his arms around him and folding his friend into a hug. "Don't you think I know what it feels like to miss my mother, Kyouya?"

"Tamaki . . ." Kyouya begins, but Tamaki shushes him.

"Thanks for talking to me, Kyouya," Tamaki says, happiness evident despite his soft tone. "Don't you feel better now?"

Kyouya rolls his eyes, glad that Tamaki cannot see him and make a fuss. Still, he replies readily, "Yes, Tamaki, I suppose I do."

Tamaki doesn't let go of him for several more moments, and Kyouya doesn't push away, content to remain in his friend's embrace.