(early November)

Laney sighed as she dragged her attention back to her book, trying her best to ignore the scarlet maple blazing outside her living room window. Kyoya was sitting at the table across the room, working on his dissertation. Laney was less successful in her efforts to ignore her husband, dressed extremely informally in jeans, a faded Harvard shirt, and bare feet. Although she admitted no one could wear a suit quite like Kyoya, she found she preferred the relaxed look on her husband. Quit it, she chided herself. Work first, then play.

After the wedding, the two of them had moved into a five-bedroom townhouse in Georgetown, a wedding gift from Laney's grandparents. Laney hadn't wanted to accept, but her mother and Kyoya convinced her.

"It's not a wedding gift, it's a reward for marrying into the Ootori family," she had fumed.

"Yes, but I don't see any reason why you should throw it back in your grandmother's face," her mother had reasoned. "It's a gorgeous house."

Laney looked helplessly at Kyoya, who just shrugged and said, "It's up to you, love. At the very least, it would make a great investment property. But I would have thought the deck with the porch swing would have sold you on the idea."

"Don't cut off your nose to spite your face, Laney," her mother said.

Now, Laney had to admit that they had been right. She adored the house, and she and Kyoya had slowly been redecorating and furnishing it to make it more of a home. Or at least, they'd been trying to; with both of them working on their doctorates time had become a precious and rare commodity.

Kyoya looked up from his computer, startled, as Laney suddenly threw her book across the room. "Good read?" he inquired mildly.

"My brain is absolutely going to explode if I read one more sentence," she groaned. "Why why why did I take 'Marketing Applications in Biotechnology' for my first elective?"

"Probably because you married into a family that is currently trying its hardest to obtain a stranglehold on said biotechnology for said marketing applications," Kyoya went to retrieve Laney's book. "You missed the fireplace by about 2 inches. Good aim, love."

"You should have seen the professor's eyes bug out when he read my name," Laney sighed. "You know the Ootori Group is an actual case study in this course?"

"I didn't know, but I'd be shocked if we weren't," Kyoya said, not without a touch of arrogance.

Laney stretched and grinned fondly at her husband. "Let's go for a walk, baby," she suggested, getting up and joining Kyoya in front of the empty fireplace. "It's supposed to rain all day tomorrow."

"I promised Tamaki one of us would be home all day today," Kyoya said.

"I'm sorry, you what now?"

"I promised him someone would be home," he repeated, not without a hint of irritation. "Evidently he's having something delivered today, and someone needs to be home to receive it."

Laney shook her head. "I can't believe how thoroughly he has you wrapped around his finger."

"Trust me, I've found it's easier just to go along from the beginning. He always winds up getting his way in the end. He's like some unstoppable force of nature. Although," he added thoughtfully, "he's certainly open to persuasion when you know the right pressure points."

"You are a very, very bad man," Laney purred, pressing herself up against Kyoya and kissing his neck.

Kyoya's hands went to Laney's waist, dipping inside her pants to cup her rear end. "Care for a demonstration?"

"Always," Laney said as she started unbuttoning Kyoya's jeans.

The doorbell rang, and a series of heavy knocks echoed throughout the house. "Suoh Tamaki: life ruiner," Kyoya muttered in Japanese as he pulled away from Laney reluctantly.

Laney laughed and rose on her tiptoes to kiss him on the nose. "Pull yourself together, and go answer the door."

Kyoya padded down the hallway to the front door, Laney close at his heels. When they opened the front door, they saw two deliverymen and a large furniture truck double-parked in front of the house.

"You Mr. Ootori?" one of the men asked.

"Yes," Kyoya answered.

"Here. The guy who ordered this insisted that you read this before we set it up," he handed Kyoya an envelope.

Shaking his head, Kyoya ripped it open and read the note inside. "Just when I thought maybe he was starting to grow up a little," he sighed. "His idiocy truly knows no bounds." He handed the note to Laney. "You might as well set it up in the front room," he told the men, holding the door open wide as they filed into the house with two giant boxes.

Laney looked at her husband. He had a frown on his face, but she could tell he was struggling not to laugh. She read the note.

Dear Kyoya! Now you can sit under your very own kotatsu in your own home! And I made sure it's big enough for Haruhi and I to join you when we visit you for Christmas! xoxo - your best friend Tamaki!

"What the hell?" Laney asked, completely bewildered as she handed the card back to Kyoya.

"It's a table with a heater under it and blankets …" Kyoya started to explain, but Laney cut him off.

"I know what a kotatsu is. What I don't know is why on earth Tamaki would send one to us."

"Don't you know anything?" Kyoya tapped her on the head with the card. "It's the symbol of a happy home life."


"No, not really." Kyoya kissed her forehead. "I'll tell you the whole story later. Come on, let's go watch."

Hand in hand, the couple walked back into their home, closing the door behind them.