When Haruhi was young and naive, her vision of the future was fairly simple: go to a good high school, attend a good university, get a law degree, support herself and her father. Even after attending Ouran, this plan changed very little aside from the addition of ‘survive the Host Club’ to the beginning of the list.
Somehow, even after she’d come to a sort of equilibrium regarding the Host Club’s constant over-involvement in every aspect of her life, she’d still kind of assumed that after they all graduated they’d finally leave her alone and she could continue her life as planned. The twins, she was sure, would get bored; Mori and Honey had always followed their own agendas more than the Host Club’s; Kyouya would see no profit in continued association with her unless by some chance he needed cheap legal advice, and Tamaki had the attention span of a concussed puppy.
She really, really should have known better. Not only did they all plague her in various innovative ways all through university, they seemed to regard grown-up life as a continuation of the Host Club with age-appropriate perks added in. The twins in particular were fond of coming by her house after a night of socializing in order to serenade her drunkenly. They’d done it frequently enough that even the paparazzi had gotten tired of documenting it.
Still, when her doorbell rings at three o’clock in the morning on a rainy Tuesday, it’s quite a surprise to find Kyouya standing there.
“Kyouya-senpai!” She stammers. “Uh... would you like to come in?”
“Thank you,” he says, striding past her to stand disdainfully in her kitchen, and yes - he hasn’t changed a bit. His voice is still smooth, dismissive, and makes want to check her bank balance.
“Would you like some tea?” Haruhi asks, trying to convince herself that it’s run-of-the-mill politeness making her ask and not an example of falling back on Host Club habits in times of trauma.
“Yes, I think so,” Kyouya says, and seats himself at her table without asking.
“Congratulations, by the way,” Haruhi adds. She, along with all the other members of the former Host Club, had spent the previous day receiving Tamaki’s increasingly rapturous text messages as he waited with Kyouya at the hospital for Kyouya’s wife to give birth. She’d spent a few spare moments idly wondering how Kyouya would have spread the news if it hadn’t been for Tamaki. She wouldn’t put it past him to conveniently forget to mention his offspring until such time as it became most profitable.
“My wife was responsible for the majority of it,” Kyouya says offhandedly.
“How are they both doing?”
Haruhi rolls her eyes behind Kyouya’s back. Kyouya certainly knows that Tamaki has provided the full story already (in suspiciously romantic detail, granted, but that’s Tamaki for you), but isn’t it traditional for a new parent to want to talk about his child? Even Haruhi, who prides herself on being practical and grounded, had maybe been a little bit effusive after the birth of her own daughter. Allegedly.
Kyouya doesn’t say anything else, and Haruhi lets the silence remain unbroken. She and Kyouya have never been conversational friends, even now that she no longer owes him eight million yen and their conversation should in theory be less fraught. In social situations she typically leaves him to Tamaki, which has the added bonus of leaving Tamaki to Kyouya as well.
She serves the tea in silence, and they sit and drink for a little while. Kyouya seems perfectly content to let his presence remain unexplained, and Haruhi finds her old Host Club sense of annoyance coming back. Rich bastards. He’s just lucky no one else in the family woke up when the doorbell rang.
“Kyouya-senpai, not that this isn’t nice, but did you have a purpose in coming here at three in the morning?”
Kyouya quirks one eyebrow at her over his tea cup, and Haruhi resigns herself to a long and frustrating visit. He’s probably going to refuse to tell her now, just out of sheer perversity.
To her surprise, he puts the cup down. “I’ve always admired your practicality, Haruhi.”
She blinks. That actually sounded sincere, which is frightening. “Thanks?” she manages.
“Hm.” He tilts his head, and the dim kitchen lights glance off his glasses, hiding his eyes. “You also seem to be an adequate parent.”
“Thanks,” Haruhi says, her tone significantly drier.
He shifts again, and it strikes Haruhi suddenly that he seems... well, that if he weren’t Kyouya and it weren’t physically impossible, he would seem nervous. The idea is so implausible that for the first time in her life she actually greets the familiar sight of a pen and a notebook appearing out of Kyouya’s coat pocket with something like relief.
“Explain your technique,” Kyouya says stiffly, and strike the relief. The terror’s back.
“My - my parenting technique?”
“Yes.” He seems to be on firmer ground now that he has a pen in his hand and a notebook to hold. “You and Tamaki are the only other members of the Host Club thus far with offspring, and of the two of you Tamaki is significantly less likely to be able to answer the question reasonably.”
Haruhi stares. On the one hand, it’s a compliment - the underhanded backhanded upside-down kind that only Kyouya can pull off - but on the other hand she has absolutely no trouble imagining the consequences to befall her the first time little Katsutoshi does something his father finds unacceptable.
“Kyouya-senpai,” she says, very slowly. “You understand that there isn’t a - a secret commoners’ child-rearing method or anything, right?”
His eyes narrow. Apparently, that wasn’t funny. “Thank you, yes,” he says icily. “As I am not Tamaki, that consideration did in fact enter into my calculations.”
Haruhi sighs. “I just would have thought that a well-qualified nanny would be more to your tastes.”
The light flashes off his glasses again. Haruhi winces. “As son of the head of the Ootori family, he will of course be provided with highly qualified care. Nevertheless, there is still a parental influence to consider.”
Haruhi frowns. That’s true, of course, but she’d always gotten the impression that families rich enough to send their kids to Ouran tended to be a little more hands-off than that. The twins barely ever mentioned their parents, Mori’s and Honey’s fathers seemed to function as instructors rather than guardians, and before moving to Japan Tamaki hadn’t even seen his father in years. It just doesn’t seem like Kyouya to go in the face of family tradition for some romantic notion of Fatherhood, even if his own father had been a narrow-minded, uncompromising, dictatorial tyrant with needlessly stringent expectations and an over-developed sense of propriety -
“Ah!” Haruhi says triumphantly. “It’s because he slapped you!”
She has about half a second to appreciate the novelty of a look of total shock crossing Kyouya’s face before she realises what she just said, how loudly she said it, and who she said it to.
Forget eight million yen - Kyouya is going to ruin her, and she can’t even say she blames him. Much.
“Kyouya-senpai!” She gasps. “I didn’t - that was completely inappropriate - “
“I see your bluntness is also intact,” Kyouya says, his voice a little strained.
“I’m so sorry - “
“Haruhi, breathe,” Kyouya says sharply. “You are... not incorrect.”
Haruhi’s mouth slams shut on the next three things she was planning to say. What? She cannot, in the long and varied history of her association with the Host Club, remember Kyouya ever admitting something of a personal nature so easily.
Kyouya’s eyes narrow. “Your full understanding of the situation can only benefit me at this point,” he says. “Your technique?”
“I... yes,” Haruhi says. “Yes, let me think.”
Kyouya takes a patient sip of his tea. His hand is trembling, ever so slightly, and it is that more than his words that snaps her out of her shock and makes her start thinking. She had struck a nerve before, however unintentionally. It’s important that she gets this right.
When Tamaki asks for parenting advice, it’s always because he needs someone to be practical for him. Kyouya is already a practical person, though - it’s possibly the only thing he and Haruhi have in common besides a resigned tolerance for Tamaki. If it were the twins asking, Haruhi would remind them to be adults for their children, but Kyouya has always been the most adult of the Host Club. She would tell Honey that children need to eat vegetables along with their cake, and she would tell Mori that his children would need him to talk to them. Kyouya most likely already has a nutritionist on his household staff and he’s definitely good with words.
What kind of parent would Kyouya be, left to his own devices? Haruhi wonders. He will certainly provide for Katsutoshi financially, and ensure that the boy has an excellent education. He will see to Katsutoshi’s physical and intellectual needs with, Haruhi is certain, a mildly frightening degree of overkill.
He will, in short, do everything his own parents did.
Haruhi takes a deep breath. Kyouya’s strongest asset is his ability to collect information and use it to his advantage, right? Time to put that to work.
“When he’s little,” Haruhi says slowly. “Treat him the way Mori treats Honey. Pick him up and carry him a lot, and let him know that you’ll be there for him when he needs you.”
Kyouya tilts his head slightly, considering. Emboldened, Haruhi continues. “When he gets more confident and starts pushing back, treat him the way Tamaki treats the twins. Let him play and test his boundaries and even let him think he’s gotten you a few times, but don’t forget that he’s scared of the world and he still needs you to let him know when he’s gone too far.”
Kyouya isn’t writing anything down, but he doesn’t seem quite as tense as he did a minute ago. Haruhi decides that’s close enough to encouragement, and keeps going. “When he’s gotten that down and he starts to take an interest in the world, treat him the way you treat Tamaki. Be patient and let him be an idiot sometimes, but be sure he knows you’re right there behind him the whole way. And invite the Host Club over a lot,” she adds as an afterthought. “Put together, you all make almost a whole well-rounded person and it’ll be good for him to be able to observe that.”
Kyouya laughs into his tea. “Very perceptive, Haruhi.” He eyes her over the rim of his cup, smile lingering around his mouth. “I’m surprised you didn’t bring yourself in as an example as well, though.”
Haruhi gives him a dry look. “Don’t hold him to an eight million yen debt and I think we can call my part in this finished.”
“Fair enough.” He takes another sip. “You know, for incredibly cheap tea this is actually reasonably palatable.”
Haruhi sighs. “You’re welcome, senpai.”