Missing scene, after France. Some benefits are more important than silver and gold.
The costumes and backdrops were packed away, the used plates and teacups had been sent to the school kitchens for washing, and all that was left was for Kyouya to pack up his laptop and other belongings. He was always the last to leave the third music room, and he had moved a little slower today than usual. He had to work twice as hard now that he was back in Japan to boost the club's revenue, since the numbers had dwindled while he and Tamaki were absent. He'd recovered from his exhausting experience in France, but he was still lacking in energy.
He looked around the empty room, feeling a strange nostalgia pass over him. He was the Shadow King, the one who managed to make the club run as efficiently as possible. He would never have thought, three years ago, that he would be one of the founding members of such a frivolous extracurricular, yet strangely enough it had proved extremely beneficial. Haruhi had been right, when she said he looked for more than just physical rewards in his associations with people. He knew this club, these few hours at the end of the school day, could not last, yet as long as he could he hoped to make it as worthwhile as possible.
He looked up and saw Tamaki walking back into the room. Everything about his body language was open and honest, while Kyouya always kept himself closed off and calculating. It was just another thing about them that was so different, and which Kyouya cherished so much.
"Good, you're still here," Tamaki said. "I had to say good-bye to our dear daughter and the twins, but I want to talk to you, too." The club president stopped a few feet away from him, positioned so that the light from the setting sun made his hair shine with red and wheat and golden colors. In that moment he looked very French, and suddenly Kyouya was again aware of the vastly different cultures they had been raised in, something he hadn't thought about since they first met. He was used to Tamaki by now, and hardly noticed the other boy's accented Japanese.
Kyouya noticed that Tamaki's face had that look which only appeared when they were alone together. He was smiling, and when their eyes met Kyouya had the unsettling impression of being transparent. Tamaki acted immature and foolish around other people, but he was perceptive about many things. And he was one of the only people who saw a glimpse of the third Ohtori son's true self. Kyouya didn't believe that even Tamaki understood him perfectly, as the sports festival proved, but he was persistant. He always ended up doing what was best for Kyouya, even if his plans seemed meddlesome and naive at first.
"I have everything ordered for tomorrow's club activities," Kyouya said, picking up his clipboard from a nearby table. When his thoughts got too uncomfortable, he focused on business. Tamaki gave the list a quick look, but he didn't seem too concerned.
"I'm sure it's fine," he said, "but that wasn't what I came back for. I have faith in you as my vice-president." Tamaki's eyes gazed off to the side, as though he were thinking deeply about something. "It is in our capacity as friends that I wish to speak with you. You know, there is nothing more pure than friendship between men. Best friends stay together through everything, and have the kind of intimacy that is stronger than that of family or even romantic attachments--"
"I appreciate the sentiment," Kyouya said, cutting him off and giving him an amused look, "but you don't need to use fancy words with me. Just tell me what you're trying to say."
Best friends. That's what they were. Nothing more complicated than that. His palms felt sweaty, so he crossed his arms. Tamaki looked briefly disappointed at the interruption of his dramatic monologue, but laughed and grinned. "I forget that things are so much simpler with you, Kyouya." Tamaki was the kind of person who took on the emotion and feelings of people around him. Not consciously, of course, but Kyouya couldn't help noticing that Tamaki seemed to calm down around him. And when he was around the Suoh boy, the fire burning in Kyouya's heart cooled a little, and he could let his mask slip--not completely, but it was enough to let him breathe.
"Anyway, I just wanted to..." Tamaki stumbled over his words, and Kyouya couldn't help smiling despite the serious expression on his friend's face. It was strange to see him suddenly unsure of what to say, when he usually had no trouble speaking without filtering anything through his brain. "It was really great what you did for me, in France." His eyes were far away, as though he was looking past Kyouya and remembering what the country of his birth looked like. "I've been worried about my mother. She was sick when I left and I hoped that she was doing well." He paused for a moment, and Kyouya thought about how most people would not realize that Tamaki had a lot of hurt inside of him. He had been torn away from the person he cared for most, brought to an unfamiliar place with strange customs and a different language. But he had taken the adversity in stride, dealing with unfortunate circumstances in the best way he could, which was to face it with a smile. Kyouya had admired his seemingly limitless positivity. It was easy to forget that Tamaki hid his pain deep inside.
"Anyway, I was really surprised that you went looking for her. And I'm glad you did." Tamaki was looking at him now, his face openly showing his gratitude. "It means a lot to me, to hear that she's all right."
"It wasn't a problem," Kyouya replied. "Anne-Sophie was easy enough to find." Somehow it didn't feel right, trying to minimize the significance of what he did. Right now he didn't care if Tamaki could see through him. "What are friends for, if not to help each other?" Tamaki's expression suddenly changed, and he smiled knowingly.
"I knew that you had a heart in there somewhere, Kyouya," he said. "It was just a matter of time before you let it show. You always act as if you only care about benefits, but you did something kind for me without any thought of your own interests." He placed an arm around Kyouya's shoulder, and Kyouya relaxed despite his distaste for physical contact. When it was Tamaki, he didn't mind.
"Maybe you're rubbing off on me," he said, and the tone of his voice was almost teasing. "Your mother is a beautiful woman." His eyes drifted away from his friend's face as he added, "You resemble her in a lot of ways."
Tamaki's eyes widened, and he laughed. "Ah, Kyouya, you're so unlike yourself today." He turned away from the Ohtori boy and walked to the window. The roofs of the campus buildings reflected the colors of the twilight, and Kyouya wondered what it was that Tamaki saw as he looked out over the school grounds. Kyouya thought perhaps it was true that he was different. His actions in France had surprised even himself. But, he thought with a smile, he had changed in a lot of ways since he met Tamaki.
"Maybe," Tamaki began, and his voice was so soft that Kyouya had to strain to hear it. "I mean, I miss my mother, and I want to see her again soon, but... in a way, I'm glad that things turned out the way they did." Kyouya leaned against the window frame next to him, listening closely. "I met my very first and best friend," he continued, pausing a moment to smile widely at Kyouya, "and I've learned so much while I've been here. I really have fun with everyone."
Kyouya thought about what his friend said. Perhaps it was true that Tamaki didn't want relationships in the club to change, although he doubted the Suoh boy was aware of his true feelings. He didn't think he wanted things to change, either.
"So, what I'm really saying," Tamaki continued, "is that it's sort of like fate, you know?"
A red string. Kyouya believed that, if such things existed, he knew whom his would be connected to. He doubted Tamaki realized how much their meeting those years ago had affected him. He'd never thought he would discover his heart again, buried underneath all those facades and disappointments. The weight of being the third son--maybe it had become just a little bit lighter in their time together.
"Tamaki," he said, breaking his friend from a rather picturesque reverie. Tamaki had the tendency to strike poses that resembled the princes of those manga that Nekozawa Kirimi liked so much.. "We should be going soon. Our drivers are waiting."
"Ah! You're right!"
They walked out of the third music room together, and to the entrance of the school where their family cars waited. Tamaki was starting to walk away, but Kyouya reached out and touched his arm. It was only brief contact, but Tamaki looked back at him, a question on his face.
"Now that your father is preparing you for business," Kyouya said, "perhaps you can assist me with the financial and scheduling matters of the club." Tamaki's eyes widened and he was silent for a moment, and then he pointed a finger with a dramatic flourish. Kyouya felt his lips twitch, and it was difficult to resist the urge to smile.
"Very well, Ohtori-kun! I would be honored to have such responsibilities! Perhaps the first thing I will do is prepare a budget for a trip to take our apathetic daughter to Peru--"
Kyouya walked past him to the waiting car, his arms crossed and a look on his face that Haruhi would surely describe as demonic.
"Like I would ever trust you with such important things," he said, adjusting his glasses with a smirk.
The last thing he saw as the car drive away was Tamaki's expression, the conflicting emotions of anger and amusement fighting for equal ground. Kyouya sighed and crossed his legs as he leaned back into the leather seat.
He hadn't remembered the last time he had smiled so much. Benefits, indeed.