Happy Birthday Props to my girl AmaltheaLuchiaAizen! Hope you enjoy your special day! Sorry it took so long to post birthday wishes! ^_^

"Ryuji...I don't know how, I don't know when, but I will get you back for this," said Haruhi ominously.

Coming from the girl who pranked Kamoshida ten ways to Sunday in humiliating ways, that was downright terrifying. Ryuji could only take solace in the fact Haruhi didn't actually hate him and was just annoyed with him.

"Did you really tell him that the trip to the ramen factory had been called off?" said Ann.

"Come on, you know the TV station is better!"

"And the fact Haruhi had made it abundantly clear he despises the media is of no consequence to you?" deadpanned Ann.

Ryuji had the grace to wince at that one.

"It slipped my mind."

Haruhi's annoyance lasted right up until she saw detective pretty boy... I mean Akechi again.

Suddenly her sour mood changed to dark amusement as she was called on the spot on live TV to add her opinion about the Phantom Thieves.

"Personally I think there's a separate group that's causing these mysterious accidents."

"Separate group?" repeated Akechi, openly surprised.

"You claim the Phantom Thieves of Hearts are evil because they change criminals who have hidden their tracks into decent people who admit their crimes so that they can finally be punished by the proper authorities. And yet you have provided no evidence that the Thieves are also behind the strange accidents which have hurt so many."

"The fact they possess an uncanny ability to change people with no known method is proof enough," said Akechi quickly.

"And yet if they were in it for the notoriety, why wouldn't they announce the fact they were behind the accidents publicly? So far the only known 'victims' are a gym teacher who openly admitted to raping his student and a plagiarizing artist who took in and abused his students for their work. Not to mention the cards have two distinct writing styles, indicating they're still relatively new to their work," Haruhi calmly pointed out, which caused the audience to murmur among themselves at the logic.

It was true...so far the only 'victims' of the Thieves were people that deserved punishment. While the thieves did cause their targets to confess, they left the actual punishment in the hands of the proper authorities.

"Furthermore the people targeted are too random, and have never actually received one of the infamous calling cards. All signs point to the thieves being recent, and therefor not the culprit behind the strange incidents of people acting out of character," Haruhi continued. "Even the 'Phan-site' only appeared after the Kamoshida incident, and there wasn't even a hint of the thieves existing before that point."

"You sound like a supporter of the thieves," said Akechi, though while he appeared to be smiling the expression didn't reach his eyes at all. He looked pissed, in Haruhi's opinion.

"I prefer to have all the facts, not just the cherry picked ones designed to inspire the media to write up false accusations against innocent parties," said Haruhi flatly.

"So what is your honest opinion of their methods?" asked Akechi.

"While I agree that whatever they are doing could be considered morally dubious, the simple fact is that so far their actions could fall into a gray area based on the fact that none of their actual targets have been harmed outside of changing their moral compass back to acceptable standards. They don't take the law unto themselves, they merely convince their target to seek their just due," said Haruhi without hesitation.

"Why not reveal themselves then?"

"For the same reason that victims of their targets only come forward after the fact. Retaliation. Just because they have some ability to change people's hearts doesn't mean they are invulnerable in their civilian form. Never mind the fact that their own families could be targeted by the people they go after. Japan is a very family oriented society and the wrong thing said by the media could utterly destroy not only their reputation, but their families as well."

It was pretty clear Haruhi had won this particular argument by the way the audience was nodding slightly in agreement.

From the glee in the eyes of the woman holding the microphone, there was a pretty good chance this show was going to be re-aired later.

"Seems Japan's modern day Sherlock Holmes has been thoroughly outwitted!" she said with cheer.

"Actually Sherlock Holmes hated the media. The books in question were memoirs written by his associate Doctor John Watson, as Holmes was not a fan of the press in the least with how often they blew things out of proportion," said Haruhi absently. "He certainly never would have gone on any talk shows unless he was being blackmailed rather thoroughly by his brother Mycroft."

Ryuji and Ann hid a snicker at the annoyed look on the older woman's face at being corrected on fictional characters.

They were so recording this episode later for a good laugh.

Later that night...

"Did you really embarrass Akechi Goro on live television?" asked Yusuke as they watched the recording.

"Every half-wit detective wants to pretend they're the next Sherlock Holmes. Almost none of them bother to actually read the books or get their facts right about him," said Haruhi disgusted. "Holmes didn't do it for the fame, he did it for the challenge and he hated the media. It was Watson who wrote about their adventures that made them famous after the fact. Never mind the fact that Holmes wasn't a private detective in the first place. He was a consulting detective. He was never actually paid for his services."

"You seem to really take it personally, nee-san," said Futaba.

"I'm British, and I find it annoying when people make references that they don't bother to research properly. How would you feel if someone pretended to know art and started spouting famous names that they never studied in the first place or pretended to know coding when the best they could do is use someone else's work as a base?" said Haruhi sourly.

Yusuke and Futaba both had a pained look on their face at the comparison.

"Point taken," said Yusuke. He found those types of critics particularly trying to deal with.

Haruhi didn't know why the student council president was confronting her...though she would have a rather strong word with Ryuji regarding his loud mouth if they were this easily caught.

However she took one look at the girl's eyes...and her first thought was of Hermione.

Which was why she did something rather impulsive and likely to get her punched or slapped.

She dragged Makoto onto the roof, made sure the door was closed and hugged her.

"What are you...?!" said Makoto, blushing furiously.

"You don't need to hide from me. I can tell you're under a tremendous amount of stress from that pig of a principal to find the thieves, never mind keeping your grades up and having to deal with the students who no longer trust you because you were unaware of what Kamoshida was doing. And I highly doubt things at home are any easier, with a high strung older sister like yours," said Haruhi.

Makoto stared at her, absolute shock filling her features.

"How did you..."

"You remind me strongly of a friend of mine back home. She didn't really connect well with others and took to using books as protection against the pain of spiteful children who didn't like being shown up by a 'buck-toothed know-it-all'," said Haruhi. "She was extremely rule abiding as well, until she realized the hard way that the rules of the adults only worked if the adults themselves were willing to follow them in the first place."

Makoto was silent, still in shock over the warm hug and the understanding tone of Haruhi's voice.

"Which is why I can tell you're under a lot of stress trying to uphold the expectations of the adults around you, especially those in authority. You're trying so hard to please everyone that you're killing yourself by the inches in the process. Eventually something is going to give and unless you find a suitable outlet, it's not going to be pretty at all."

Makoto flinched. Haruhi had pretty much nailed that on the head.

"What do you suggest I do then? If I don't turn in the Phantom Thieves then..."

"The Principal is on the way out. There's no denying that and the 'mystery benefactor' who made it clear they want him replaced might start demanding the school board bring in his replacement sooner. So stall for time...and come with us so you can see what it is we're actually doing, to see if our methods satisfy your own sense of justice," said Haruhi.

"And if I find it wanting?"

"Then turn us in. We're trying to do the right thing, using the powers we have to help others. If our methods are wrong, then having an outside perspective would only help us in the long run," said Haruhi.

Makoto was silent, but Haruhi could tell she had her.

"...One target. If I find your methods against my own personal morals then I will turn you in," she said finally.

An hour later...

"Whoa, whoa, whoa...what is she doing here?" said Ryuji.

"She has a recording that could implicate us as the Phantom Thieves because someone was talking a bit too loudly on school grounds," said Haruhi, giving Ryuji a Look. He backed down and winced at the implication. "Which is why I offered her an alternative. She'll join us on our next big job and see our methods for herself to determine if we are doing the right thing or need someone to reign us in."

"WHAT?" said Ann in shock. She wasn't the only one, Ryuji was stunned into disbelief as well.

"Are you sure about this?" asked Morgana.

Haruhi smirked.

"She reminds me of a friend back in England. She had a strong moral principle as well, but the reality was that she just needed the right friends to remind her that sometimes rules need to be bent for real justice to be done because the adults in charge were too corrupt to be trusted with it."

Yusuke was the first to translate that.

"You think she could be like us, and is merely waiting for the right stimulus to develop abilities of her own."

"Once she drops the good girl act I'm sure Makoto-chan would be an excellent addition to our group."

"Hold on, I never said I would join you!" said Makoto.

"Look, the truth is that you can either make the authority figures in your life happy and be miserable, or show your real self and finally be done trying to please everyone for false gratification from people who just want to use you for their own selfish benefit," said Haruhi flatly. "I'm not saying you need to become a delinquent, but perhaps it's time to quit letting the adults in your life push you around because they're older and show that you're grown up enough to handle real life as opposed to a cage."

Makoto looked almost as if Haruhi had struck her, as her words hit entirely too close to home for the other girl to be remotely comfortable with.

"You do realize that if things go wrong and I turn you in then your probation will be revoked," said Makoto.

"I'm British, so the threat of being in trouble for that fake charge never bothered me in the first place," said Haruhi shrugging.

Makoto gave her an odd look.

"You're British? But your accent..."

"I had a lot of help, and my natural looks fit in closely enough with the general populace that I blend in easily," said Haruhi.

The fact she was technically nineteen and therefor should have already graduated was something she would keep to herself. It wasn't like she cared about her age anyway, and it would only make things even more awkward than normal.

"So...who should our next target be, miss Student Council President?" asked Haruhi.

"Someone has been blackmailing students in Shinjuku. There are serious crimes attached," said Makoto, trying to find her footing again. Something about Haruhi caused her to see things differently, almost from an outside perspective.