Author's Note: Thanks to Sarah, Alana and Kelly for the beta. All mistakes are mine.


What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor?

by LilRicki (aka Pansy Chubb)

"Kyoya!" Tamaki said, eyes wide. "Pirates!"

Fortunately, Kyoya was accustomed to such non-sequiturs from the Host Club King, and so instead of turning around to see if the limo was indeed being pursued by Blackbeard and his crew, he merely raised an eyebrow. "Pirates?"

"Why," Tamaki demanded, sticking his finger in Kyoya's face, "haven't we ever cosplayed pirates?" The limo hit a slight bump and Kyoya found himself grabbing Tamaki's shoulders before the blond tumbled into his lap.

Tamaki steadied himself, settling next to Kyoya with more than his usual lack of regard for personal space. "Pirates," he said again, leaning in as if he were about to share an enormous secret. "Our guests will love it!"

"Please don't speak so loudly in my ear," Kyoya said calmly, placing his index finger in the middle of Tamaki's forehead and pushing him away. The blond fell backward against the seat and giggled softly. "Why would our guests," Kyoya asked, adjusting his glasses, "want to be surrounded by seafaring criminals with poor hygiene?"

"Tch!" Tamaki said, attempting to sit up. It took him a few tries. "Not - not real pirates, Kyoya!" he said, finally levering himself up. Kyoya prepared to catch him again as he swayed with the movement of the vehicle. "Hollywood pirates!" His eyes were shining as he beamed at Kyoya. "Wouldn't I make a dashing swashbuckler?"

"Hmm, I suppose you would."

"Mori-senpai would make a really good pirate. He can have a hook-hand! Ooh, or would that be too scary?"

"He'll be fine if you pair him with Honey-senpai."

"Yes! We'll give Honey-senpai an eyepatch!" Tamaki gasped. "We'll give Usa-chan an eyepatch!"

Kyoya "hmm"-ed noncommittally. The idea had potential. He considered taking out a pen to jot down a few notes, but given the blond's current unsteady nature, decided against introducing anything pointy to the conversation.

"And Hikaru and Kaoru will be the villains!" Tamaki said, smacking his fist in his palm. "We'll stage an epic battle!" The King swept his arms out, and Kyoya literally had to duck to avoid being hit in the face. "I, the noble captain, shall battle the evil duo into submission and win the hand of the Lady Haruhi!"

"Ah," Kyoya said, adjusting his glasses again, "I had a feeling you were going to put Haruhi in a dress."

"Won't she be so cute?" Tamaki cried, putting his chin in his hands and grinning like an utter idiot the way Kyoya had seen him do so often this year. "We'll give her a curly wig, and lots of lace and frills, and pink ribbons in her hair, and I'll swoop in and rescue my little girl from those unscrupulous little devils, and . . ."

Kyoya tuned him out as the blond went into full-blown "doting father" mode; he'd heard it all (or some variant) before, and if he just nodded or "hmm"-ed at random intervals, Tamaki was sure to keep himself entertained. Instead, Kyoya chose to spend the rest of Tamaki's rant - or, if he were lucky, the rest of the ride home - reflecting on the evening. After all, he had learned quite a lot over the past few hours.

First and foremost, he had learned that a drunk Tamaki wasn't really any more difficult to handle than a sober Tamaki. Kyoya watched, bemused, as the blond continued to spout off Haruhi's and the twins' respective virtues and vices, his voice muffling as he leaned against the limo's tinted window, pressing his cheek to the cool glass as the moonlit landscape rushed by. Aside from a minor slur to his words and an appalling lack of balance, the Host Club King had retained most of the charm and personality that befit his position.

A drunk Tamaki was still Tamaki - just a more intense Tamaki, if such a thing were possible.

Regardless, Kyoya allowed himself a small - but malicious - grin as he reflected on the many ways he was going to make the Hitachiin twins wish they were never born.

And that was the other important piece of information Kyoya had learned: no matter the size of the party, no matter how shiny the distractions, no matter how elaborate the entertainment, Hikaru and Kaoru would always find a way to get into mischief.

The party that should have been large enough to keep the twins entertained (and therefore out of trouble) had been thrown by one of their classmates. Minako Senoguchi, daughter of a prestigious Japanese banking tycoon and regular Host Club guest, was turning sixteen and had invited nearly half the school to the celebration. Even Haruhi, commoner though she was, had been invited by virtue of her status as a host. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and since they weren't there on official Host Club business, Kyoya had allowed himself to relax.

And if he had managed to sidle his way into a companionable conversation with their hostess' father, discussing prospective Ohtori-Senoguchi business relations and the state of the corporate world in general, well, then, all the better.

In fact, Kyoya didn't see any other members of the Host Club at all until later in the night. He was heading toward the front of the mansion with half a mind to slip out unnoticed to catch up on some work at home when he heard a voice behind him.

"Ah, senpai, there you are." He turned to see Haruhi standing behind him, looking slightly annoyed - though not with him, Kyoya noted. "They told me I should find you. Please come with me - they're waiting."

"Who?" Kyoya asked, though he turned to follow her.

"Mori-senpai and Honey-senpai. They said you would know what to do."

"About what?" Kyoya wondered, but his question was answered soon enough. Unfortunately, by the time he heard the music, he didn't really want to know anymore.

In one of the mansion's wings was a parlour, and in that parlour was a grand piano, and surrounding that grand piano were no fewer than twenty young ladies, and seated on the bench, in the middle of those young ladies, playing very loudly, was none other than the King himself, Tamaki Suoh.

As they entered the room, before Kyoya could ask again, Haruhi flatly summed up the situation in six short words.

"He's drunk. The twins did it."

"What?" two familiar voices chorused as Hikaru and Kaoru appeared out of nowhere, arms around each other's shoulders. "We were just trying to make sure His Highness had a good time!" The grinning wink they gave her was positively sinister.

"They kept switching out his empty wine glass for full ones," Haruhi sighed. (Kyoya barely batted an eye at the presence of alcohol at a mostly-underage party; it was common for highborn children to receive such indulgences from their parents. Kyoya supposed he should be thankful that at least it was only wine and not sake or some other liquour.) "Tamaki-senpai didn't notice because . . ." Haruhi shrugged. "He's Tamaki."

Kyoya peered at their leader, just visible through the gaggle of awed girls surrounding the piano. The blond was playing exuberantly - something furiously Russian - a far cry from his usually sedate musical manner. Judging by the girls' reactions, Tamaki hadn't yet done anything untoward in his inebriated state, but Kyoya knew better than to hope that would continue. Tamaki was excitable enough as it was; they couldn't take the chance that he wouldn't unwittingly say or do something to permanently damage the image of the Host Club.

Kyoya sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "How many glasses has he had?"

"Oh, not too many!" one of the twins piped up. "Two or three, maybe."

"Four at the most," the other chimed in.

"Nine," Mori deadpanned.

Kyoya turned to see Mori and Honey standing near the door, watching the proceedings with respective undisturbed calm and wide-eyed curiosity.

The twins giggled wickedly. "Well, he's half French!" one of them declared. "He should be able to handle a few glasses of wine, right?" the other finished.

Haruhi sighed. "I wouldn't be surprised if senpai just forgot that the legal drinking age is higher in Japan . . ."

"What should we do, Kyo-chan?" Honey asked, looking up at Kyoya with big brown eyes. "Maybe it would help if he ate some cake?" he asked eagerly.

"I think the best course of action," Kyoya answered, "would be to send him home."

Haruhi nodded agreement. "When Dad comes home after too much to drink, I just put him to bed." She eyed Kyoya. "Will Tamaki-senpai be that easy?"

"No," Kyoya sighed, "I doubt it. One of us will have to make sure he gets home." And stays out of trouble on the way there, he added mentally.

The twins snapped to attention. "We'll do it!"


The duo pouted at the rejection (which had been voiced simultaneously by every other sober member of the club). "Then who?"

Kyoya turned to Mori and Honey.

"Our estate is in the opposite direction," Honey piped up, not showing nearly enough remorse for Kyoya's taste. "Waaaay far out of the way."

Kyoya looked at Mori.

"I came with Mitsukuni," the taller boy said bluntly.

"I see," Kyoya said, fighting the urge to roll his eyes. So much for help from the upperclassmen. "Haruhi?" he asked half-heartedly.

"She came with us!" one of the twins announced, throwing his arm around her. "We're a package deal."

"If you want her help," said the other twin, mirroring his brother and crushing Haruhi between them, "you'll have to send us, too."

The brothers leaned in with leering grins. "Come on. You can trust us."

Haruhi made a squished, panicked-sounding noise.

And that was how Kyoya came to be speeding toward the Suoh mansion, listening to Tamaki wax poetic about the finer points of French cooking (when he'd gotten onto that subject, Kyoya didn't know) while trying (and failing) to open the limo's moonroof. After all, there was no way Kyoya was going to force Haruhi to endure the combined antics of the twins and an intoxicated Tamaki; Kyoya might be a cold, calculating, manipulative bastard, but he wasn't that cruel.

After his third unsuccessful attempt to maintain his balance while poking at the moonroof controls, Tamaki huffed out a breath and plopped back into his seat. A thought seemed to occur to him, and he turned deliberately to Kyoya.

"What are we doing?" he asked, brow scrunched in puzzlement.

"You are behaving like a moron," Kyoya answered. "I am taking you home."

Tamaki seemed to ponder this for a moment. Then, "Why?"

Kyoya adjusted his glasses. "Because, Tamaki, you," he said, "are drunk."

A pause. A widening of the eyes. A gigantic grin. "Really?"


"And you're taking me home?"


To Kyoya's slight horror, Tamaki's eyes began to well up in joy. The blond threw his arms wide. "Mon ami!"

And quite suddenly, Kyoya found himself the recipient of a bone-crushing bear hug, something Tamaki hadn't done since they'd finished middle school.

Kyoya grunted. "Get off me, you idiot!" He was pretty sure his ribs were bruising, but the Host Club King seemed oblivious to his plight.

Then, in a flash, Tamaki pulled away - and immediately began fiddling with the door lock on his side of the limo.

"What are you doing?" Kyoya asked wearily, but Tamaki just laughed. Kyoya called out a quick order to the driver and the limo slowed down just as Tamaki managed to work the door open.

The blond stepped outside as they rolled to a stop, hanging on the top of the open door when his feet got tangled beneath him. Righting himself, he laughed again and took a few stumbling steps away from the vehicle. With a sort of bemused resignation, Kyoya followed.

"What is it now, Tamaki?" Kyoya looked around in the half-moon's light and realized that they had almost - almost - made it; the gate to the Suoh family's secondary mansion was barely a hundred meters away.

"I'm drunk!" Tamaki announced happily.

"Yes, we've established that."

"And you're taking me home!"

"Yes, as I said earlier."

"But you're doing it wrong!"

"Yes, I - what?"

Tamaki slung a heavy arm around Kyoya's shoulders, forcing him to adjust his balance or else be pulled to the ground. "This," Tamaki said, taking a step forward and dragging Kyoya with him, "is how two best buddies walk home drunk, mon ami!"

The pair stumbled down the road, and Kyoya managed to signal the limo driver to wait there. "Tamaki, this is absurd."

"No!" Tamaki disagreed, gesturing with his free hand. Kyoya found himself automatically adjusting his grip on the lanky blond to keep him upright. "This is how they always do it in movies! When two best friends have had too much to drink, they have to walk home together, with their arms around each others' shoulders and singing at the top of their lungs!"

Uh oh. "But I'm not drunk," Kyoya said quickly.

It was no use: Tamaki took a deep breath, opened his mouth - and burst into a fit of giggles. He turned his head and buried his face in Kyoya's shoulder, apparently embarrassed. "I don't know what to sing!"

"Fortune smiles on me," Kyoya said dryly. They were nearly at the gate now, and since they'd already come this far . . . "So, Tamaki, tell me more about this pirate cosplay." Anything to stop you from singing.

And so Tamaki got his movie scene, stumbling home drunk in the arms of his best friend, debating the merits of various eighteenth-century pirate weapons. (Swords, not pistols, Kyoya insisted with vehemence; even if they only shot pellets, there was no way he was going to let the twins within fifty meters of any sort of projectile weapon.)

As they made their way up the long, winding driveway, it occurred to Kyoya that there wasn't a single other person on the entire planet for whom he would do such a thing. The realization made something ache in his chest, but it wasn't an altogether unpleasant sensation.

Wrapped up in his thoughts, Kyoya was startled when Tamaki abruptly came to a halt, his voice trailing away into nothingness.


The blond's demeanor changed entirely. He stood still, staring at the mansion's front entrance - which had just come into view as they rounded the final bend - with a hesitancy that bordered on trepidation. His eyes were dull, and there was a tightness around his mouth that Kyoya had never seen before.

Kyoya looked at the mansion's entrance, but the only thing he saw in the pool of lamplight was another limo parked in the circular drive-up - certainly nothing out of the ordinary.


Tamaki slowly lifted his head to look at Kyoya. Then, just as slowly, he smiled, chuckling softly.

"Hey Kyoya," he said, "we should go around to the back entrance. We . . . we won't bug anyone that way, and - and that's what they do in the movies!" He kept smiling as he warmed to the topic. "They always have to sneak in, to hide their drunkenness from their wives! We can pretend to sneak in, too - it'll be fun, right?"

"Sure," Kyoya said - not because he agreed, but because, for the first time since he'd known him, Tamaki's smile wasn't reaching his eyes.

"Okay!" Tamaki said with false brightness. "Okay." They turned toward the path that would lead to the rear of the mansion, and Tamaki's voice got softer as they left the lamplight. "Just for tonight. Just . . . just tonight."

They made the rest of the trek in silence. Finally, as they approached their destination, Kyoya spoke quietly.

"Whose limo was that, Tamaki?"

He felt the blond tense, but then Tamaki gave him another too-bright smile that made Kyoya's stomach twist.

"My grandmother must have come to check up on me!" he said with a kind of desperate cheer. "To make sure I'm 'upholding the Suoh name.' She . . . she does that sometimes."

"Ah." Kyoya had nothing else to say, and so they entered the house in silence. They didn't meet anyone as they walked down the lower hall (not even any of the servants, which Kyoya thought was odd), and Tamaki didn't speak again until they were navigating one of the back staircases.

"She came all the way to see me," he said suddenly. "I . . . I should probably go see her, right? That . . . that would only be proper."

He smiled painfully again, and something inside Kyoya snapped.

"No," he said, the word out of his mouth before he'd made a conscious decision. "You're in no state to receive guests. As soon as we find one of the servants, I'm handing you off so they can put you to bed."

"But - but, my grandmother . . ."

"I'll go make your apologies for you."

Tamaki stopped and stared. "You . . . you will?"

"Yes. It's time I made some connections with the Suoh matriarch, anyway." He shrugged. "And you need to go to bed."

Tamaki stared a moment longer, and then he smiled - a real smile this time, and the knot in Kyoya's gut loosened immensely.

"Tch!" Tamaki said, chuckling as they stepped into the upstairs hallway. "This is why you make such a good mother, Kyoya! Are you gonna make sure I'm tucked in, too?" he laughed.

It wasn't difficult for Kyoya to feign exasperation. "You do realize that, out of the entire Host Club, I'm probably the least motherly of us all?"

Tamaki giggled. "That's why you're so good at it."

"That doesn't make any sense."

"It doesn't have to. I'm drunk."

"Ah, yes, of course. I see now."

"Hey Kyoya, remember when - "

"Tamaki," said a sharp voice.

The duo stopped dead. Kyoya felt Tamaki's grip on his shoulders tighten. Knowing what he was about to see, the Ohtori heir donned his business mask, smiled benignly, and looked up.

Shizue Suoh - matriarch, businesswoman and grandmother - stood before them, blocking their path.

"Honorable Mrs. Suoh," Kyoya said, offering a bow as best he could with Tamaki still draped across him. "What a pleasant surprise! We weren't expecting to meet anyone this late in the evening."

The old woman peered at him with distaste. "You're Ohtori's youngest, aren't you?" Kyoya nodded, and she sniffed. "And what is my . . . grandson doing hanging off of you like that?" She pronounced 'grandson' as if it were a dirty word.

Kyoya felt more than heard Tamaki take a deep breath, and then the blond looked up, and the hated fake smile was back. "Grandmother!" he said, detaching himself from Kyoya's side. "I'm so glad to see you! Were you waiting long?" Tamaki wobbled slightly as he approached the old woman, but Kyoya forced himself to stay put. "I wish I had known you - "

The crack of the Suoh matriarch's backhand echoed throughout the hallway. Tamaki's head snapped back, his cheek red from the force of the blow. The little balance he had was lost, and he tumbled to the carpet, catching himself clumsily on his hands and knees.

A bone deep, liquid rage unleashed itself in Kyoya's body, coursing through his veins like molten lava. His fists clenched until his knuckles creaked and his nails bit into his palms. For a brief moment, he literally could not see straight, and the image of his best friend at the feet of that vile woman swam before his eyes.

And then the feeling passed as Kyoya shoved every unhelpful emotion down into a dark, deep place in his soul where he could deal with it later, and with practiced ease set the Ohtori mask back in place.

"Have you been drinking?" the matriarch hissed. "You disgraceful, filthy child! And in front of an Ohtori, too! You disgust me."

Tamaki had tipped to one side and was now sitting on the floor, keeping himself upright with his hands splayed on the carpet. He did not look up.

"If I may," Kyoya interjected neutrally, taking a step forward, "it isn't entirely his fault - rather, this is the unfortunate result of a prank gone wrong." He shrugged and gave her a small smile that felt like it would break his face. "Such it is with teenagers - I'm sure you understand."

The old woman's sour face didn't change. "He is a disgrace to the Suoh name," she said with conviction, then looked back down at Tamaki. "Do you see what you've done? You've dragged an honorable Ohtori into this mess with you."

Kyoya gave a chuckle that grated his throat. "Honorable Mrs. Suoh, I assure you - "

"This is what you do," the matriarch continued, ignoring Kyoya's interruption. "Forcing others to go along with your idiotic ideas, dragging them down. Like that foolish club of yours." Kyoya bit the side of his tongue so hard he tasted blood. "You ruin everyone's lives."

The pronouncement seemed to echo in the silence that followed. None of them moved. Kyoya didn't breathe.

Finally, the old woman straightened, looking down her nose at the boy at her feet. "I can see that my coming here was a waste of time. You don't deserve the Suoh name." She turned to walk away, then paused. "You should leave," she said to Kyoya, looking over her shoulder. "You have my profound apologies for everything this contemptible child has put you through."

"Thank you," Kyoya said with a bow, the words tasting like acid in his mouth, "but I assure you that it's really no trouble at all. In fact, I was going to be on my way as soon as I'd found a servant to make sure Tamaki got to bed safely."

"I dismissed the servants for the night."

"Ah," Kyoya said, and had to pause to force the simmering rage back again. "Then," he continued, taking a step toward Tamaki, "if you will permit me to - "

"Kyoya," the matriarch said, and Kyoya didn't like the way she said it (he hadn't even known she knew his name) or the way her lips quirked into a calculating smile, "since my grandson is apparently incapable of basic social niceties at the moment, would you do me the favor of escorting me to my limousine?"

Kyoya wanted to tell her to go to screw herself. He wanted to tell her he hoped she tripped on the stairs and broke her neck. He wanted to tell her there was no way in hell he was leaving Tamaki alone, on the floor, bleeding from wounds inflicted when all his defenses were down.

But he was Kyoya Ohtori, and Kyoya Ohtori simply did not say such things to the matriarch of the Suoh household.

He bowed with a gracious smile. "It would be my pleasure."

Kyoya felt like utter scum as he stepped around Tamaki to take the old woman's arm. She smiled up at him, and he smiled back, and tried to ignore the way his entire body screamed at her touch.

As they walked away, Tamaki spoke.

"Thank you for visiting, Grandmother. I'm sorry I wasn't a better host."

The woman didn't even acknowledge that she'd heard her grandson's voice.

And the saddest part, Kyoya thought as they rounded the corner and disappeared from view, is that that idiot is completely sincere.

The walk down to the front entrance was possibly the most unpleasant experience Kyoya had had in all of his sixteen years. They made small talk, but Kyoya barely remembered what was said (he would later chastise himself for this - it was often the little details that could give one more leverage in later business transactions). He smiled as he handed the old woman into the back of the limo, wishing her a pleasant remainder to the evening. And he rooted himself to the spot as the vehicle drove away, forcing himself to watch until it was completely out of sight. Only then did he allow himself to return to Tamaki.

He didn't run, but it was a near thing.

He found Tamaki where he'd left him, curled on his side in the middle of the hallway, his head resting on the carpet.

Kyoya crouched next to him and put a hand on his shoulder. "Tamaki." The blond's eyes were at half-mast, glassy and staring at nothing. Kyoya shook his shoulder lightly. "Tamaki, time to get up."

Tamaki closed his eyes in response, turning his face a little more into the carpet. "'m tired," he mumbled.

"I know. That's why you have to get up."


"Come on, Your Highness, let's go." Kyoya grabbed his arm and pulled him into a sitting position. Tamaki grunted, but didn't say anything. With difficulty, Kyoya managed to get them both back on their feet, though Tamaki sagged against him even more than before.

They walked slowly down the hall, the only sound the quiet shuffle of their feet. Kyoya kept glancing at his friend, but Tamaki hung his head, letting his hair cover his eyes. The silence was smothering, but Kyoya couldn't think of anything to say.

If he'd been anyone else, Kyoya might have said something sympathetic - opened up to his friend and shared his own less-than-satisfying experiences with relatives who were more competition than family - but he was not, and so he didn't, and the silence continued.

Tamaki's grip on Kyoya's shoulders tightened as they finally reached his bedroom. "Bathroom," he said suddenly.

Obediently, Kyoya turned and took him to the adjoining master bath. Tamaki disentangled himself from Kyoya, hurried unsteadily across the gleaming white tile to the equally gleaming white toilet, and promptly threw up.

For a brief moment, Kyoya was at a loss. Then, calmly, he began searching the cupboards and drawers. He found a washcloth and ran it under cold water for half a minute. Meticulously, he squeezed it out and folded it into a rectangle.

By this time Tamaki's initial heaving had run its course. The blond reached up and listlessly flushed the toilet, but still knelt over the bowl, panting slightly. Kyoya approached and slowly crouched next to him.

"Hold still," the Ohtori said. He laid the washcloth carefully across the back of his friend's neck.

Tamaki closed his eyes at the cool sensation. "Thanks," he mumbled.

Kyoya "hmm"-ed acknowledgment. They stayed that way for a few minutes, Tamaki breathing slowly and Kyoya pretending to admire the elegant decor. Then Tamaki must have decided he was done being sick, because he slumped to the side, sitting on his hip and laying his cheek on his outstretched arm, which was still wrapped around the rim of the toilet.

"'m sorry," he said sincerely, eyes still closed.

"There's no need to apologize. It's not your fault."

"No . . . no, I mean, I'm sorry for . . . for - "

"Tamaki, I said you have nothing to apologize for."

"I meant . . . I meant - the club, and the way - the way I - "

Kyoya reached out and grabbed the back of Tamaki's neck. The blond's eyes flew open in surprise as the other teenager squeezed so hard it was almost painful. Kyoya brought his face level with Tamaki's, unblinking as he forced his friend to look at him.

"Tamaki, listen very closely," Kyoya said, a frightening emphasis on every word. "You have nothing to be sorry for."

Kyoya held that position as he let Tamaki drink in the words. After a moment, Tamaki swallowed, closed his watering eyes, and gave a small nod.

"'kay," he said hoarsely.

"Alright." Kyoya nodded and gave another instinctive squeeze before removing his hand and the washcloth from the back of Tamaki's neck. "Think you can stand?"

Tamaki nodded again, and Kyoya handed him the washcloth as he sat up. After wiping his face, he accepted his friend's hand and got unsteadily back to his feet.

Kyoya took Tamaki's arm around his shoulders again (it seemed natural now) and they headed back to his bedroom. Halfway through the trek to Tamaki's bed (this being the Suoh mansion, the rooms were very large, and the pair were moving rather slowly), an unexpectedly loud chuckle burst past Kyoya's lips.

The Ohtori composed himself with a muttered, "excuse me," but the outburst still caused Tamaki to swing his head up, looking at him like he'd grown an extra set of eyes.


Kyoya chuckled again. "Oh, an amusing thought just popped into my head." He eyed his inebriated companion. "I was imagining what would happen if your grandmother were ever to visit the Host Club."

Tamaki paled a little. "Wh . . . what?"

"I think," Kyoya said slowly, "that it would be best to assign the twins to her." He gave Tamaki another sideways look. "Don't you?"

Kyoya waited as the blond's muddled brain processed the imaginary scenario.

"That," Tamaki said, eyes wide, "would be a catastrophe." And then he burst into an explosive fit of giggles.

Kyoya laughed too - at the ridiculous notion and at the dissipating tension. "Yes," he agreed, "of epic proportions." And a fitting punishment for all involved, he added to himself.

Tamaki laughed for a long time. Several times, Kyoya thought he was winding down, but then another funny thought would occur to him and manifest itself in a fresh set of giggles. Any other night it might have been annoying, but Kyoya found that, right now, he didn't mind at all.

In this way, Kyoya managed to get Tamaki safely into bed (the lanky blond sort of just flopped onto it, still giggling, and so all Kyoya did was pull off his shoes and throw an extra blanket on top of him).

"Thanks . . . Mother," Tamaki said, and giggled again, though it turned into a yawn halfway through.

Kyoya resisted rolling his eyes. "Tamaki, I'm going to use your computer."

"Huh?" Tamaki watched blearily as Kyoya retrieved his laptop from the desk across the room. The black-haired teen settled himself in the armchair next to the bed, looking for all the world as if he were about to conduct a business meeting. "You . . . you're staying?"

"Idiot," Kyoya said lightly. "I just want to check my e-mail. I made some very important connections tonight."

"Oh." Tamaki closed his eyes, and a silly grin spread across his face. "Okay."

Kyoya ignored him, focusing on the screen instead. When he next looked up, Tamaki was out like a light, snoring softly, a faint smile still on his lips.

Kyoya shifted in his chair, settling the laptop more comfortably across his knees. Tamaki had left himself logged into his personal e-mail account, and something caught Kyoya's eye. Buried among the messages the Host Club King had received that evening - which included more than a dozen from "Hitachiin, H." or "Hitachiin, K.", all featuring various embarrassing photos of Tamaki from the party (Kyoya would have to do something about that later) - was one from "Senoguchi, M." Shamelessly, Kyoya opened it.

It was a typical "fangirl" letter that the members of the Host Club often received (though Kyoya received them less often than the others) trying to disguise itself as a simple thank you note. Kyoya knew better; the e-mail had arrived over twenty minutes ago, which meant that its writer had either determined to write it just before going to bed or had actually written it during the festivities, which even now might still be ongoing.

Kyoya sighed and wondered if Minako knew how desperate such an act made her look. (He also wondered how much wine the birthday girl herself had consumed.) But such was the effect Tamaki had on the young ladies.

In the message, Minako expressed her gratitude to Tamaki for attending the party and her hope that she would see him again soon. She asked if he had enjoyed the food and the music, and made some remarks about her friends that were supposed to be funny but came across as petty instead. And then, in the only part of the letter that Kyoya found remotely interesting (it was also the part where the writer finally managed to sound halfway intelligent), Minako wrote an entire paragraph about how much she had enjoyed Tamaki's piano performance, and how invigorating she found Shostakovich to be.

Kyoya leaned back, arms crossed, and studied the screen. His brain began shuffling through the various business profile snapshots and tidbits of corporate information he kept in mental storage.

"Ah," he said softly as the pieces fell into place. He sat back up and logged into his own e-mail account, idly noting that there were no thank you notes for him (he hadn't expected any). Despite this, he began drafting his own letter to the young Senoguchi heiress.

Honorable Miss Senoguchi,

Please allow me to convey my gratitude for the invitation to your birthday celebration this evening. I am honored to have been included in your gathering of friends and family. I sincerely hope that the party was everything you wished for, and that the coming year will be filled with similar happiness.

If I may now be so bold as to make a suggestion that may increase that happiness, I couldn't help but notice how enamored you were of Tamaki Suoh's skill when he played the piano earlier. I confess that I myself am not a music aficionado, but I do recognize and appreciate such talent - though perhaps not as deeply as a true music lover like yourself.

With this in mind, I offer up the suggestion that you invite Tamaki to the Senoguchi estate for a formal piano recital. Through our acquaintance in the Host Club, I know that he does not get to play as often as he would like, and I am sure he would relish the opportunity to perform for you and your family.

In fact, I believe it would be an excellent idea to make it a family affair; that is, your honorable father could extend the invitation to the entire Suoh family, including Tamaki's own honorable father and esteemed grandmother. In this way, after everyone has enjoyed the recital, you and Tamaki could escape together and enjoy each other's company without fear of being caught in the middle of the adults' business discussions.

I hope you will consider this humble suggestion, and I thank you for permitting me to share it with you. Thank you also again for the invitation to your party, and please give your honorable father and mother my regards. Otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu!

Humbly yours,

Kyoya Ohtori

Kyoya reread what he had written. It wasn't exactly subtle, but then again, he didn't want it to be - there was no guarantee Minako would get the point otherwise. With any luck, she would take his suggestion at face value, and the Suoh estate would be getting an invitation from the Senoguchi household within the week.

The Senoguchi's, who, if Kyoya's mental database served him correctly (and it always did), had been eluding formal business relations with the Suoh companies for years. The Senoguchi's, who were among the top three companies in Japan with which the Suoh clan most desired to establish such relations. The Senoguchi's, from whom the Suoh's elderly matriarch would not dare to refuse an invitation, even if that invitation were in honor of the grandson she so despised.

Kyoya smirked as he envisioned the sour old woman at the recital, forced to smile and nod in agreement as everyone around her showered Tamaki with praise. And if friendly business relations resulted from the event, the matriarch would be forced to acknowledge that Tamaki had been the impetus - something which would piss her off to no end. (She would never admit to such out loud, of course, but she would know, and that was enough for Kyoya.)

Of course, this plan rested on several unreliable factors - not the least of which were Minako's susceptibility to suggestion and the sway she held with her father - and so Kyoya kept his hopes in reserve for the moment. Patience was, after all, one of his strong suits.

Still, as he hi the "Send,", he was as close to gleeful as he ever got.

(It didn't occur to him until much, much later that, by possibly strengthening Suoh-Senoguchi relations in this way, he could be hurting his own chances for successful Ohtori-Senoguchi negotiations in the future. When he realized this, he found himself slightly dumbfounded - not at the fact that he hadn't taken such consequences into consideration, but because he couldn't find it in himself to regret the decision.)

Kyoya glanced at the clock and sighed. Seeing that Tamaki was still sleeping soundly, the Ohtori heir supposed it was time to go home. He pulled out his cell phone to text his driver to (finally) come pick him up, closing the laptop at the same time with a soft snick.

With zero warning, Tamaki gasped and bolted upright, and Kyoya was glad no one else was around to see a dignified Ohtori nearly jump out of his skin. (In reality, he'd only jerked a little in surprise, but it was more reaction than the usually unruffled teenager gave.)

"Kyoya!" Tamaki cried, voice heavy with sleep. He turned to the bedside, his bleary gaze not quite focusing on his friend, and when he spoke, the words were slurred.


It was apparent that whatever Tamaki had to say, it was of the utmost importance.

"We never figured out what kind of pirate you would be."

Kyoya stared. Tamaki blinked owlishly at him, swaying where he sat. As Kyoya watched, the blond's eyelids began to droop again.

"Well, that's obvious," Kyoya said finally, adjusting his glasses. "I'm the first mate."

Tamaki took in the information, still blinking woozily. After a moment, he bobbed his head in a sharp nod of agreement. "Yeah," he said.

And then he flopped back down, rolled over, and was asleep again before he'd stopped moving.

Kyoya held still for a moment, waiting to see if there would be any more unexpected outbursts. After confirming by his deep, even breathing that the blond was indeed heavily asleep this time, Kyoya opened his phone again. He texted his driver a short message.

Staying late. Will call when pick-up needed.

Kyoya returned the phone to his pocket, sat back, and opened the laptop again. The New York Stock Exchange had opened just a few minutes earlier, and Kyoya decided he would check up on his American portfolio. The late night hours were his most productive time, after all, and he had a lot of work to do. Besides, he still had to think of a suitable punishment for the twins while the details of their transgression were fresh in his mind.

And if he occasionally wandered onto various historical and costuming websites to learn more about the details of eighteenth-century pirate garb (the Hollywood kind), well, no one else needed to know.


Author's Note: Feedback, of both the positive and constructively critical kinds, is much appreciated.