My throat closed up and I gasped for a breath that would not travel past my swollen throat. 'Oh my god, he's choking me to death with a Jedi Mind grip. Goodbye, Hikaru, I love you.

Kyouya continued to watch me with his emotionless gaze as I played out my internal melodrama.

"Meet me out front after club, alone."

I lowered my hand from my throat. He is not killing me now?

"What about Hikaru," I croaked.

"I don't think we need to involve him in this, do you?" He smiled and it sent a chill down my spine.

He walked away and I slumped onto a nearby beam, my heart beating audibly.

He knows Hikaru does not know, but how could he? I will admit I was a little impressed by his web of intelligence. And a little terrified of it as well, okay, really terrified. What other choice did I have? No one crossed the shadow king and I had done just that.

After club, I walked out with Hikaru and Haruhi.

"Now explain to me again why you want to hang out with Kyouya… alone?" He raised a suspicious eyebrow in my direction.

"What's the big deal, we're all friends can't I hang out with someone besides you from time to time."

I did not mean for it to but the comment hurt him, but Hikaru looked at me like a kicked puppy. What is wrong with me? This whole Kyouya-thing is driving a deeper wedge between us.

"Well," Hikaru rounded on Haruhi, "If you're going to spend time with Kyouya, I guess I should go to Haruhi's." He grinned at Haruhi who returned it with a bland expression.

"Sure," she said.

Hikaru almost fell over. I am not sure if it was shock or excitement. I had expected her to put up a fight, or at least pause to think about it.

"Did you hear him correctly? You want to let Hikaru over to your house, let him riffle through your things, get hyper on sugar and most likely bounce of your walls."

Hikaru glared at me with a shut-up-your-not-helping-look. I shrugged and smirked. Honestly, I was jealous my two best friends would be having fun while I was walking death row.

"I always end up letting you two over in the end; I figured I could save myself the energy and just say yes right away."

Haruhi's laziness wins again.

"Kaoru, ready to go?"

I swiveled my head around. Kyouya waited at the top of the steps. His expression gave nothing away.

I swallowed hard. This was it. "Yup."

I grabbed Hikaru's hand and squeezed a goodbye. I wished there was more time to tell him I love him, to apologize for not telling him the truth but that would have to be sufficient.

Hikaru must have sensed my upset because he squeezed back equally hard.

"See you at home."

"Yeah." I forced a smile and then climbed in Kyouya's limo after him.

Kyouya did not say anything as we rode to what I could only assume would be a desert where he would kill and then bury me. I twisted my hands and tried to think of a convincing plea.

'I swear I won't breathe a word and be your slave for life,' was a tempting choice.

The limo stopped and Kyouya smiled that dangerous smile that turned my spine into water.

"We're here, after you." He motioned towards the door.

"Kyouya, I—"

"Please, after you," he repeated.

The chauffer held the door open for me and I forced myself out into the bright light. I blinked as my eyes adjusted, I had expected many different things, among them a torture chamber, but I had not expected to be standing outside a sushi bar. A fluorescent light flickered on and off in a dirty window, advertising half prices Saki. What a dive I thought.

"Shall we?" Kyouya walked past me and into the front door of the bar.

I gaped after him for a few minutes before shaking my head and following him in. Inside, the place was as just run down as the outside. Peeling vinyl cured on the red booth seats. Behind the sushi bar, with questionable looking fish, a balding man greeted Kyouya.

"Welcome, Ootori-san, the usual?"

"No, not today, but I'd like to use your private party room, if possible."

"Of course, Ootori-san." He hurried over to a curtain dividing the front room from the kitchen, I presumed, and shouted inaudibly. A few moments later, a young woman emerged with an annoyed expression. She curtly showed us to the back of the establishment and past another threadbare curtain into a small square room.

"What do you want?"

"We'll both take water, for now," Kyouya gave her a host club smile, which she returned with a small blush.

"Yes, sir," she disappeared behind the curtain.

"You come here often?" I asked hoping to ease the tension and the fear in my stomach. I was not sure I could eat even if I wanted to.

"Yes, when I require discretion."

The waitress returned with our water glasses. My stomach twisted into knots. What was taking him so long? Kyouya dismissed her with a smile and she walked away slowly, shooting Kyouya one last parting glance before disappearing past the curtain.

Kyouya took a sip of his water while I fidgeted in anticipation. Why was he delaying the inevitable? Was he waiting for me to spill my guts? Maybe I should start.

"Kyouya, I know about you."

"I am aware."

"And believe me, it wasn't like I was trying to pry… well I was but not for that I swear!"

He watched me, his hands folded on the tabletop. I bit my lip to keep from babbling on.

"You haven't told Hikaru." It was not a question but a statement of fact.

I nodded my head.

"I've noticed something over the past few months, something you've probably only just begun to notice yourself. Hikaru and you are growing apart."

I opened my mouth to refute his statement but stopped myself. He was right.

"You can see it happening in small degrees. Exploring each other's independent interest. Developing relationships with other people." I thought of Hikaru and Haruhi alone at Haruhi's and my stomach twisted in jealousy. "And before you knew it, you were keeping secrets living independent lives. Am I correct in my assessment thus far?"

I knew he was and I was sure Kyouya was certain as well. It never occurred to me how closely Kyouya watched us.

"Now I know what you're writing in the notebook all the time."

He smiled and it almost seemed genuine. "You could say that. Now taking that into account, I am sure Hikaru, is as of yet, unaware of these occurrences. He is blissfully unaware of his evolving world. And I'm sure you can imagine what would happen if he learned of this before he was ready…"

The idea struck me like a blow to the stomach. If Hikaru realized He and I were pulling apart it could break him and there was the possibility that he would revert to the old selfish Hikaru. I couldn't let that happen, not when Hikaru was finally happy.

"Am I understanding you correctly, if I keep your secret you won't help Hikaru along to this discovery?"

Kyouya shrugged. "Perhaps, I'm merely making suggestions."

He is blackmailing me, the bastard.

"Fine," I ground out. "I won't tell everyone you're gay. Happy?"

What had I expected? Triumph? Smug satisfaction, maybe. But definitely not the profound sadness I saw in his eyes.

XXX

I returned home and headed towards my room. I could only imagine the expression I wore because Tachibana and the others gave me a wide berth. I should have been satisfied, the deed was done and I had ensured my secret. For now. A nagging thought teased at the back of my brain. How long can I really trust him to keep quiet? I prepared a plan of retaliation should it become necessary, under no circumstances could this be leaked.

"Ootori-san."

"What!" I snarled.

The maid who had spoke to me reeled back and I could see her fear of me in her eyes. I reigned in my anger, this was not right I never lost my cool.

"Can I help you?" I amended.

She eyed me warily none-the-less. I have to arrange her termination. I cannot let it get around that I have a temper.

"Your father has requested to speak with you in his study," she said her eyes pointed at the floor.

"Very well, I'll be in after I change."

"He said 'immediately upon your return'," She added, not meeting my gaze. I could feel her contempt rolling off her in waves. Or was that my imagination.

"Fine." I brushed past her and down the opposite end of the hall towards my father's study.

When I arrived, I knocked on the door.

"Come in," my father's cool voice beaconed.

I stepped inside. He sat at his desk writing, I couldn't see what, but his lap top was open on his desk. I got the impression I had interrupted his work. I was tempted to offer to come back later, but that was never an option with my father. If he wanted to speak to me now, it would be now.

"You wanted to see me?" I asked.

"Take a seat, Kyouya."

I sank down into one of the leather chairs across from him. He continued to write without looking at me for several more seconds. When he finished, he set down his pen and folded his hands on top of the paper he had been writing. We stared at one another without speaking until I looked down at my hands.

"You're late home, where were you?"

"I was balancing the club budget."

"You're lying to me, Kyouya."

I arched a brow at him; more intrigued than surprised. Of course, we had our private police and it would be a simple matter for my father to gather intelligence on me. Since when were my personal affairs of interest to my father?

"I received a call from Arakaki-san. His daughter came home from school rather upset, you wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

My father knew everything. There was no use denying it. Ms Arakaki had gone home and told her father who had then called my father. How juvenile.

"Its club policy, we don't date, it's a conflict of interest."

"I see…" He let the words hang on the air for a moment. "And it would no longer be a conflict of interest if I were to forbid you from club activities. Or gallivanting about town with one of the Hitachiins."

I opened my mouth to reply but my father raised his hand and I clamped my mouth shut.

"Kyouya, you're a bright boy, why do you insist on wasting your time with these people? What is the benefit to your future? You realize what is at stake; you are the third son, who's to say if I'll have any inheritance left for you?"

My grip on my knees was white knuckled. Had he had threatened to forbid me from the host club and disinherit me in one breath?

"What are you suggesting, Father?"

"I'd advise you to amend you club policy and be careful about who you are seen with after school hours."

"Yes, Father."

"I'll call Arakaki-san and let him know the good news. Perhaps wedding bells are in our future."

"Yes, Father."

"You may go, Kyouya."

I rose and headed toward the door. Though I had always known this would happen, somehow I had always assumed that I would accept it without a second thought. After everything that had happened over the past couple of days, I felt empty.

A/N: And I return for another installment. Sorry for the delay, as I have previously mentioned, I'm prioritizing my stories by popularity and thus far this story has been taking a back seat to my other more trafficked stories. Not to worry though, I am slowly wending my way through this tale, and this is only the beginning and I've sworn to myself that I won't abandon a story ever again. If you'd like to see quicker updates, however, drop a review, add to your favorites or dare I say it set an alert for updates. It lets me know your reading and maybe it'll help this story bump up on the priority list.