Papa, the little boy says, tell me a bedtime story, Papa.
Once upon a time, the man replies quickly, there was a young man who didn't go to bed when he was told. He never made any friends and both his health and grades suffered. The end.
I like Tamaki's stories better, the boy deadpans. The man can see the boy's mother in him, can hear her in his voice, and he smiles.
Would you like me to see if Tamaki will tell you a story? the man asks gently.
No, the boy protests, I want you to tell me a story.
I already have.
That one didn't count! It wasn't a real story, Papa.
The man's smile widens. And what constitutes a real story?
A plot, the boy responds seriously, and the man has to try very hard to keep a straight face. Character development. Good defeating evil.
Perhaps I should let Tamaki handle this one, the man muses, stroking the little boy's cheek tenderly with his finger. He has a better imagination than I do. He can talk at quite length about princesses, knights in shining armor, fire-breathing dragons—
Not a fairy tale, the little boy returns. I've heard all of them already. Just make something up, Papa.
The man murmurs to himself about his demanding offspring and sets about thinking. Once upon a time, he begins and has to forestall the little boy's objection with a slender finger on his lips. Once upon a time, there was a prince. The prince was lonely, although he would never say he was because of his pride, and his father the King took advantage of his loneliness to make him do whatever he wanted. The King would say, My son, help me take over this neighboring land, and the prince would reply, Yes, Father. The King would say, My son, help me acquire more riches, and the prince would reply, Yes, Father. The King would say, My son, help me forge new ties with powerful foreigners, and the prince would reply, Yes, Father.
One day, while the prince was doing the bidding of his father, he met a noble boy from another land. At first, the prince was sure that the noble boy wasn't worth his time, but the King had wanted to use the boy's family to make sure of his iron-fisted rule on the kingdom, and so the prince made friends with the boy. But as time went by, the prince was surprised to discover that he had fallen in love with the boy.
The noble boy asked, Why is it that you only ever do the will of your father the King?
Because he is my father, the prince replied, and he is my King. Why should I not do what he asks? Does not your family pay taxes because the King says it should be so?
What I meant, the noble boy corrects himself easily, is that I only ever see you doing the things your father asks of you, never the things you enjoy. Why is that?
But the prince couldn't answer. He only stared at his beloved in shock, and after a long while, the noble boy changed the subject.
On the day that the prince had planned on confessing his love, he came to find out that the noble boy was engaged to a peasant girl. The girl was—
Really, Papa? A love triangle?
You wanted a story, didn't you? the man hushed quietly and continued. The girl was very beautiful, although she was also very unaware of her own beauty. The noble boy was excited to be betrothed, and he could speak of nothing else for weeks before the wedding. The prince, afraid of losing his only friend, retreated from him for a very long time. By the time the day of the wedding came, the prince had decided he would go, tell the noble boy his feelings, and then bless his beloved's marriage, because she made him happier than anyone else could.
When he had done so, the noble boy smiled. She was right, he said.
She was right? the prince repeated. What do you mean, she was right?
The noble boy gestured over at his bride. She told me you loved me. I wanted to say something, but she said it would be better if I waited on you. The noble boy smiled again and kissed the prince. She also said that she doesn't agree with a marriage where one partner will be miserable.
But you love her, the prince states.
Yes, I do. But I would still be miserable.
Because you would be miserable.
The prince hesitates before saying, If you're happy—
I couldn't be. Not without you. But even with you—
You would still be miserable, the prince finishes.
The noble boy chuckles lightly. I would, because she would be miserable. Even though she would never admit it, she would be miserable. My happiness depends on someone's misery. I hate it.
And so, the prince, the noble boy, and the peasant girl decide to ran away to a far away land and all live together as one, even though the King came to hate the prince for it and never spoke to him again. And the three of them had many beautiful, intelligent children together and were happy forever. The end. Now go to bed.
The little boy huffs. That was a little sudden, Papa. I expect a proper ending the next time you tell it.
The man rolls his eyes and sighs. There was a plot, some character development, and good defeating evil. I met your specific criteria. Now go to bed.
The man finds his wife listening at the door. They walk together to their bedroom, and she is smiling as she says, Don't let Tamaki hear you tell that story. He'll be offended that you were the prince and he the noble boy.
It's my story, Haruhi, the man replies, shutting the door behind him and kissing her. I'll tell it however I like.
It's our story, Kyouya, she corrects, returning his kisses eagerly. Although your ending was a bit more…ideal than what really happened.
The next morning, the man overhears the little boy telling Tamaki about his lack of story-telling ability, and Tamaki can only smile and glance over at him as he promises to teach him how to tell a better bedtime story.