A/N: This was meant to be my stab at writing Kyouya/Tamaki, but because my muses apparently only approve of KTH, that's what it turned into. Also, written in a little over an hour, and self-beta'd. So feel free to point out my mistakes, because I'm sure I missed a few. Loosely based on the prompt "Above" from a prompt list that's been sitting unused on my hard drive for like a year. I don't remember where I got it.
Kyouya has always known that he was higher on society's ladder than Tamaki. Although the Suou family occupied one of the top rungs, the Ootori family wasn't all that far behind and, while Kyouya didn't doubt for a second that he had a bastard half-sibling somewhere in Japan, his father was wise enough to have never openly adopted the child into his family. Tamaki might have been the son of the head of one of the most prestigious families in the country, but that didn't change the fact that he was illegitimate, born of a sickly French woman who had sold him to secure her own well-being.
Or so society saw it. Kyouya knew that Tamaki had sacrificed his own happiness to do what amounted to saving his mother's life. By coming to Japan with his grandmother, he had given Anne-Sophie a fighting chance at survival, and Tamaki had once said that it was better to know she was alive and mostly well and never see her again than to be holding her hand and sobbing into the sleeve of her nightgown as she drew a long and painful final breath. Kyouya had heard some vicious-minded people intimate that Tamaki's decision had been a selfish one, because he gained a father, grandmother, and a mansion full of servants, was sent to an elite school to receive a superior education, and made friends with the children of the most powerful families in Japan. But by leaving France, Tamaki lost his mother, his French grandparents, a school full of friends, and the basic comforts of one's mother-tongue and -culture. Kyouya often found himself wondering what the members of high society would do if they suddenly found themselves in Tamaki's shoes.
Regardless of the reasons, Tamaki wasn't very high on anyone to-do list, and most likely never would be. If he wanted to run off and live in sin with some commoner lawyer, that was his decision, and no one truly expected anything else from him. The third son of the Ootori family, however, was held to quite a different standard. He couldn't run like Tamaki could. So Kyouya orchestrated things to the best of his ability, and when he was quite sure the moment was right, he allowed a rather damning photograph of Tamaki and himself to be leaked to the gossip rags.
It was messier than he would have liked it to be, but the end result was exactly what he'd planned: the press spun a tale of a single drunken tryst, which they then said should be swept under the rug and chalked up to youthful indiscretion. When Kyouya allowed them to be caught again several months later, the press put his father under quite a lot of pressure to voice his opinion about his son's homosexual affair with the bastard child of his biggest professional rival. Yoshio finally issued a press release saying that Kyouya was no longer associated with the Ootori family in any way, and that he was handing his legacy over to his oldest son Yuuichi. Society knocked Kyouya off the rung beside his father and watched him fall, fall, fall until he landed somewhere in Tamaki's general vicinity. He was still higher, of course, had always been higher, but a rung or two wasn't much difference at all when the other person was himself a 'youthful indiscretion.'
But the mess was okay, because it had all unfolded in such a way that no one had ever mentioned Haruhi. Kyouya made sure that the ticking time bomb that was his relationship with Tamaki was detonated under carefully controlled conditions, so that none of the malicious shrapnel so much as brushed the delicate skin of Haruhi's reputation. Although the public knew Tamaki cohabited with a commoner and that Kyouya had moved in with Tamaki, no one seemed to put together that they were all living together, that they were in a ménage à trois relationship. And since the shockwave from the blast had sent him so far down society's damned ladder, when everyone did belatedly realize what the situation truly was, no one really cared what the hell he did with his life anymore. If he wanted to spend the rest of his life being labeled a sexual deviant and living in the dregs of society, that was his decision, and no one truly expected anything more from him.
He was happier than he could imagine now, being able to wake up every morning tangled in the limbs of the two people he loved most in the world. But he was especially happy that the rungs between this new (commoner?) Kyouya and the former Kyouya had been destroyed by the fire he'd set, because it meant that no one could yank him out of his life with Tamaki and Haruhi and back up to the top of the ladder, where his father and brothers waited to remind him that he was the third son and unworthy of happiness.
And that sort of freedom was certainly worth all of the arsony.