Aw, jeez. This took much longer than I wanted to get out, but with Christmas and work and everything, it was hard to find time to write. I also meant to respond to some of the reviews, but I never got around to that either. -_-; Regardless, I do appreciate your reviews and I thank everyone who have left their thoughts so far. I hope I was at least able to partially make up for the delay with the length of this chapter. This is the final one, so it's a doozy. I don't want to spoil anything, though, so I'll give my thoughts at the end. Until then, enjoy!
The Revelation of Haruhi Suzumiya
Spurred onward by my promises to Nagato and Koizumi, I soon reached the top of the hill. It was odd seeing the school under these conditions. Sure, it hadn't physically changed, but the instant the building came into view I was assaulted by memories. There was the table where Koizumi first told me he was an esper, and there was the fence I hopped over after Nagato flung me back to Tanabata for the second time. Everywhere I looked, I couldn't help but be reminded fondly of my time with the SOS Brigade. Even the unpleasant events seemed desirable to me now. That was a simpler time. Sure, we still had to deal with Haruhi's weird schemes, but we were all together.
At this point, it occurred to me that I was still wearing my school shoes. After all, Nagato didn't really give me the option of getting my regular shoes out of my locker. God, had I really been here only yesterday?
As I hurriedly approached the Old Building, I saw something that made my heart leap: The light was on in the SOS Brigade clubroom. So Haruhi was here.
I did everything I could to control the sense of elation I was feeling, but even then, I couldn't help but laugh a little. Now wasn't the time to get careless. I still needed to make it to the clubroom without running into any espers or time travelers or humanoid interfaces.
Practically bursting into the building, I immediately started climbing the stairs while keeping my back to a wall as much as possible. I needed to get to Haruhi fast, but other lights had been on here too. That meant that there were other people here and likely other agents. But it was okay. I could see the clubroom door now. I'd be fine as long as I didn't run into any—
Emiri Kimidori had appeared on the scene, her long hair fluttering behind her in nonexistent wind as she bore an innocent look I couldn't help but compare to Asakura's.
"The Data Integration Thought Entity predicted you would return here." She espoused. "Unfortunately, I cannot allow you to do what you are planning."
Great, so Kimidori wasn't going to help me. Not that I was surprised, as she had always seemed loyal to her bosses. That said, she'd never struck me as crazy like Asakura had, so maybe I'd harbored some hope that she'd be willing to look the other way if she saw me. I guess I was wrong.
"I'm afraid you are going to die here." She said, both of her arms transforming into those glowing white blades that I'd seen both Nagato and Asakura possess in the past. I reached into my pocket and drew the alien gun.
"Bring it on, Kimidori." I'm totally all talk. How am I supposed to shoot her with this and expect to actually hit? Still, I'm too close to give up now. The clubroom door is less than ten feet away. If I can just find a way to get past Kimidori, then I'm home free. At that point, all I'll have to deal with is Haruhi herself. Okay, maybe "home free" is not quite the proper choice of words.
And just as I was preparing to get into a fight I was certain to lose, a miracle happened.
The clubroom door opened and Haruhi herself stepped out, wiping her eyes for some reason. Down the hall, I noticed Kimidori's hands return to normal. I smirked. Of course, there was no way her bosses would want her to reveal the masquerade in front of the one and only Haruhi Suzumiya.
Speaking of Haruhi, she was carrying her bookbag and had a set of keys in her hand. She must have gotten sick of waiting and was planning to lock the room up. Once she saw me, however, the bag and the keys fell to the ground.
"Kyon?" For a second, Haruhi looked about as overjoyed as I felt. That is to say, a lot. But then she quickly replaced the expression with one of anger. Uh oh. "Kyon! Where the hell have you been? Do you really think you can just skip a brigade meeting and take Mikuru-chan and Yuki with you? You'd better get ready for the worst penalty of your life!"
There had to be something wrong with me. Even with Haruhi's yelling, I couldn't help but feel happy that I had finally found her. It's totally like her disappearance all over again.
Still, there were more pressing matters to take care of. Namely one Emiri Kimidori.
"Suzumiya-san." Kimidori said quickly. "I hate to interrupt, but the Student Council President needs to speak with Kyon-kun immediately."
Haruhi immediately wheeled on Kimidori, apparently only just noticing her. "Hey! I've said it before and I'll say it again: if the Student Council wants to harass one of my subordinates, they're gonna have to go through me first. If he wants to talk to Kyon, I'm coming too."
Oh Haruhi, you're wonderful.
Kimidori actually twitched a little. Was she getting annoyed? Worried? Both? "He's not in trouble. The president just wants to talk to him about something."
Don't listen to her Haruhi! If you leave me alone with Kimidori, I hold no illusion that you'll ever see me again.
Haruhi looked at me like I was crazy. "Dramatic, much? And what's that thing you're holding?" What? She's calling me dramatic? "Don't you worry Kyon, I'm not gonna let you get expelled, even after that stupid stunt you pulled vanishing last night."
You've got to be kidding— wait, last night? How did you know—?
"Your parents called me wondering if I'd seen you." Haruhi answered. "I can't believe you'd make your sweet little sister worry like that!" Great, she's mad again.
Kimidori was obviously getting worried. After all, all I had to say was 'I am John Smith' and it would be over. So why haven't I said it yet? Well, I figured if I did Kimidori would have no more reason to keep pretending and would just kill me anyways. We had to get rid of her. "Haruhi, can I talk to you in the clubroom?"
"What? What's so important that you can't tell me here?"
As Haruhi turned back towards the door and I moved after her, Kimidori appeared in front of it, her usual demure look replaced by a defiant one. "Suzumiya-san. I must insist that Kyon come with me now."
"Wha—? When did you…h-hey!" Haruhi began before Kimidori grabbed Haruhi's arm in what I can only assume was a vice-like grip. "Wh-what are you doing?" Haruhi asked as she struggled in vain to break free. This wasn't good. It looked like Kimidori was starting to get desperate.
That's it. Time to end this now. I leveled the alien gun at Kimidori and pulled the trigger. I thought I saw uncertainty in her eyes before the bolt of electricity shot across the hall and struck her. I guess Kimidori was still worried about overtly revealing her powers to Haruhi. Either that or I managed to catch her off guard. Maybe she was just surprised that I had been willing to use the weapon in Haruhi's presence.
"Woah!" Haruhi shouted as Kimidori released her and crumpled to the floor. "Kyon… you… you shot her." She sounded a mix of horrified, disbelieving and impressed all at once.
Through the corner of my eye, I saw a bunch of movement outside one of the windows. Upon looking out of it, I saw a dozen or so suited men approaching the building. Looks like leaving isn't an option. That's fine. I just needed to buy some time.
"I can explain everything, but you're going to have to trust me." I explained quickly. "The first thing we need to do is get in the clubroom." I continued, grabbing Haruhi's keys up off the ground.
I half expected Haruhi to lecture me on "giving orders to the chief" and how it's tantamount to treason, but instead she just stood there, staring at me dumbly. I guess me shooting someone had left her speechless. Huh. I'm actually pretty impressed with myself right now.
Look, that shot isn't going to keep Kimidori down for long, and once it wears off, she's going to kill me. Please, just get in the clubroom!
"What are you talking about?" Haruhi finally managed to ask. "You just shot her with… with lightning or something." She still sounded like she couldn't believe it. "How is she supposed to get up from that?" She eyed Kimidori, who really looked like she was dead, her eyes staring up at nothingness.
"Because she's not human." I said quickly, making my way towards the clubroom on my own. Haruhi followed, if only because she was intrigued by what I had just said.
"Not human? Her? That's impossible." God, how can someone like her be such a skeptic when it all comes down to it?
Wake up, Haruhi! Everything you've been looking for, aliens, time travelers and espers, not only are they all real, but they've all been right here the whole time! You haven't realized it, but you're actually drawing them to you!
"You mean how Yuki, Mikuru-chan and Koizumi-kun are all paranormal too?" Haruhi asked sarcastically. "Are you still going on about that?" We were finally in the clubroom, where I quickly set about locking the door and barricading it as best I could. "And what are you doing? Ordering your brigade leader around like this? Who the hell do you think you are?" Well, she's back to normal.
"We don't have much time." I explained. I really wanted to just come right out and say it, but I also needed to make sure my trump card had the maximum weight. And that meant that it needed setting up. "You can yell at me, or penalize my as much as you want afterwards, but please hear me out."
"I'm listening." Haruhi said, folding her arms.
On Tanabata three years ago, you drew a bunch of alien symbols on your middle school quad, right?
"Yeah…" Haruhi responded, clearly failing to see where I was going with this. "So what? Everyone knows that."
Does everyone know what it says? Do they know you wrote 'I am right here?' Do they know that you did it with another boy, one dressed in a North High uniform who showed up carrying another girl? A boy who talked to you about aliens, time travelers and espers? Oh, and sliders too, I guess.
Haruhi had uncrossed her arms and was staring at me with her eyes wide and her jaw agape. I was finally getting to her. "How… how could you possibly know that?" Then she leapt at me. "Who told you?" She demanded, grabbing my collar fiercely. "Have you met him too? Did he tell you?"
"Haruhi," I laughed a little. "No one told me anything. I knew about it because I am that boy. I'm John Smith." Even now, I couldn't believe that I was telling her this. It all just seemed so surreal, and this coming from the guy who'd encountered weird blue giants more than once before. She released my collar and stumbled backwards. We both just stood there for a few moments. This was such a momentous occasion that even the barricading felt like it could wait.
"But John was in North High when I was a middle schooler!" Haruhi protested. "You can't be him."
"That's because while that event was three years ago for you, it's only been about six months for me." Haruhi gaped at me. It actually felt kind of good to see her this speechless. "Last Tanabata, I traveled back in time and gave you a hand with that chalk drawing."
Haruhi's eyes lit up. "You're saying you're a time traveler?"
"Close." I began, returning to my barricading of the door. "That's actually Asahina-san. I was just along for the ride."
"Mikuru-chan? A time traveler?" Haruhi repeated in surprise. As she spoke, I attempted to move the bookcase in front of the door, but it was far too heavy for me to move. Was I really going to have to entrust my fate to a simple locked door and a table? "Wait a minute… you told me that once before!"
That's right. She's a time traveler, Nagato's an alien, and Koizumi's an esper. You didn't believe me back then, but I thought you might listen to me now.
"You're saying aliens, time travelers and espers were here under my nose the entire time?" Haruhi surmised, motionless. "But… there's no way it could be that easy!"
Ah yes, that old argument. I turned my full attention to her. Maybe she'd believed I was John Smith, but here was the real moment of truth. "The reason behind that is because you're not exactly normal yourself."
At that moment, the door handle rattled furiously for a moment before someone started pounding on the other side. "Is there a Haruhi Suzumiya in there?" Came a deep voice.
"What do you want?" Haruhi snapped. "I'm a little busy in here!"
"We're looking for a boy who goes by 'Kyon,'" The voice explained. "He has recently suffered a complete mental breakdown and is experiencing delusions of grandeur."
Damn it! Don't listen to him, Haruhi! Crap, Haruhi looked like she was starting to have doubts. I had to press on before I lost this chance. Haruhi, you said you wanted to find aliens, time travelers and espers and they just happened to show up in your club. Don't you find that a little odd?
"Of course I do!" Haruhi replied. "Hence the whole 'too easy' thing."
Well what if it wasn't just a coincidence? What if you subconsciously had the power to reshape to world to match your desires?
Haruhi snorted. "If I had that power, then you'd have… uh, I mean… things would be a lot different."
But that's the thing! Although you try to hide it, you've actually got an inner skeptic that is policing the power you hold. It's keeping you from fully realizing what you can do!
"Wait, you're serious about this?"
Haruhi, your inner skeptic is really starting to bug me.
More pounding on the door. "You need to be careful, Suzumiya-san! That boy doesn't know what he's talking about! He could snap at any minute."
Ignoring the man, I kept going. In a less rushed situation, I would have told Haruhi everything, but in this case I had to settle for the abridged script. I told Haruhi all about her powers, and about the different explanations Koizumi, Nagato, and Asahina (yes, I'm trying to break the habit of calling her Asahina-san. It doesn't really fit with the whole trying to kill us thing) gave. I told her about the Data Integration Thought Entity and the way it was pressuring Koizumi's Organization into trying to kill me. Finally, I told her what actually happened to Koizumi and Nagato. There was a lot I had to leave out there, but the pounding on the door was growing stronger, and there seemed to be much more people there now. I doubted it would hold for long.
Haruhi. You have to change everything back. You're the only one who can.
"You're saying I have powers…" Haruhi said, staring at her hands. "That I'm God?"
Actually, that was only Koizumi's worst case scenario. All we know for sure is that you're able to alter reality.
"And you kept this from me?" Haruhi continued, sounding both mad and hurt. "My entire life, I've just wanted to find paranormal beings, to not be normal, and you kept it from me?"
Hey, I tried to tell you once before, but you didn't believe me, remember?
"Well what about them?" Haruhi countered. "What about the rest of the brigade? They lied to me too! Why should I help them?"
Because they're our friends!
"Friends don't lie to one another!"
Really? The girl who considered the brigade members "toys" was lecturing me on friendship? "They didn't have a choice. Their respective bosses all ordered them to keep quiet about it."
"That didn't stop them from protecting you."
That's because that was the first time they were actually ordered to harm another member of the brigade. They were ordered to kill me, Haruhi. If you don't save them, then that will mean they died because of me. I might look apathetic sometimes, but I can't have that on my conscience. I trust them. Can't you please trust me?
Haruhi took a breath. "Okay, I'll give it a shot. But don't think we're not gonna discuss this later once everyone is back."
Fine, whatever. I just want this nightmare to end!
Haruhi closed her eyes and concentrated. Meanwhile, I couldn't help but get increasingly more worried as the clubroom door was finally kicked off its hinges and the world still failed to change back. Now all that was standing in the way of the Organization was a measly table. What's the hold up, Haruhi?
"I'm doing my best." Haruhi grunted. "In case you've forgotten, I've never actually done this before."
Any second now, I was expecting the world to start changing, but it didn't happen. The agents were getting closer as well. I could see at least five of them through the doorway, and I thought I caught a glimpse of Kimidori in the hall. If they managed to take me away, I was going to die.
With that thought in mind, I fired the alien pistol through a crack in the doorway. One of the men in suits fell, but another sprang up from out of sight to take is place. And were those tasers in their hands? Damn it! I couldn't hold them off for long. We needed more time.
I cast my eyes around the clubroom looking for anything useful. Laptops? No. Frog costume? No. Bamboo plant? No— Wait. Behind the plant was the window (which, interestingly enough, seemed to have reappeared since Nagato last made the glass vanish). Unable to believe what I was doing, I flung the window open and climbed onto the sill.
"Kyon?" Haruhi said, opening her eyes. "What are you doing now?"
We need more time. Follow me.
"Where? Onto the roof?"
"Don't listen to him, Suzumiya-san!" One of the men called from behind the table. They were almost inside. "That boy does not understand the danger he is putting you two in!"
"Shut it." I replied, shooting off another bolt of lightning from my wonderful Checkov's Gun. "Take care of the John Smith who would shake up the world, remember?" I said, holding out my hand to Haruhi. "It's now or never."
Hesitating only for a second, Haruhi grabbed my hand and we climbed onto the roof. As we climbed, I heard the sound of many men storming the clubroom. My shoddy barricade had finally fallen.
Come on, Haruhi! You've got to change the world back!
"I'm trying!" Haruhi yelled, bringing her hands to her head. "This is all so crazy… how am I supposed to know how this works?"
I don't know? Trust your feelings?
"Great advice." Haruhi said sarcastically. "Any real suggestions?"
Uh… uh… Wait! You've almost remade the world before! Try to focus on that feeling!
Remember that day you came to school with your hair in a ponytail? You said you had a nightmare the night before that.
Haruhi's eyes widened again. Clearly, she's getting better at figuring out where I'm going with stuff. Careful, Haruhi. At this rate your eyes might just pop out of your head "Are you saying what I think you are?"
You were trapped at North High with me and a bunch of blue giants, right? There was a giant shade over the entire area too. Hell, it looked kinda like things do right now.
"That was… real?" Haruhi said, staring directly at me. "But that means that you and I…"
Oh right, I'd almost forgotten about that. Okay, that's a lie. It actually was a really memorable experience.
"Hold it!" Shouted one of the Organization members who had now climbed onto the roof. "Kyon, we're here to help you. Just come quietly and you can receive treatment."
Wait… that was the man who called Koizumi a traitor back in the Closed Space. Did that mean that Koizumi…? He was putting on a concerned look, but I could tell it was a mask just like the boy's. I'll never go with you! Not after what you did to Koizumi!
"Then I'm afraid there's nothing else to be done then." He said, leveling a taser gun at me. I aimed the alien weapon in his direction, but he'd already pulled the trigger. I felt the darts embed themselves in my side and I felt a sudden surge of pain. It was different then being stabbed, but that didn't change the fact that it hurt like hell. I couldn't control my body as it went limp and I toppled down.
"Kyon!" I heard Haruhi shout, but I couldn't register more than that. I felt multiple pairs of hands grab me, and I realized dimly that more agents must have made their way to the roof. I couldn't think of much else, however, as the man with the taser kept sending regular jolts of electricity into my body. Damn him… I bet he was enjoying this.
"Don't you worry, Kyon. This is for your own good." The man said loudly. Then, he whispered into my ear, "I hope you're ready to join Itsuki Koizumi and that interface friend of yours."
"Leave. Him. Alone." Came a voice that sounded both familiar and alien at the same time. The electricity stopped and I turned towards the source of the voice. It was none other than Haruhi. Something was different about her, though. Her fists were clenched and there was wind swirling all around her as dark clouds formed in the sky. Oh gods. Should I be relieved or worried? Well, since Koizumi's superior was repeatedly clicking the trigger of the taser and I wasn't feeling any pain, I'm gonna say relieved.
Now that I was no longer in blinding pain, I could get a better view of my surroundings. A good half dozen members of the Organization had made their way to the roof, two of which were still holding me. In the center of the roof stood Haruhi who looked more pissed than I'd ever seen her.
"S-Suzumiya-san!" Shouted one of the agents, this one a younger man. "Don't worry. This boy will be fine once he receives treatment for his delusions…"
"Shut the hell up." Haruhi replied, her voice somehow echoing and clearly audible above the howling wind. "I trust him, which is more then I can say for the rest of you."
The espers seemed paralyzed by fear. Made sense, if you ask me. From what I've seen, some of them actually consider Haruhi their deity. And now that her wrath was pointed in their direction… well, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.
Breaking free from the two men who apparently forgot they were actually supposed to be holding me, I sprinted back towards Haruhi. The way things were looking now, she was definitely the preferable one. Besides, I had a hunch about exactly how I could make her remember how she felt the last time she used her powers on a global scale.
Too bad things are never that easy when Haruhi is involved. As I ran in her direction, I heard Koizumi's superior declare "If I'm going to get killed for this, I'm not going down without a fight!" And then I heard a loud bang. For a split-second I thought it might be thunder from the clouds Haruhi had apparently summoned, but an incredible pain in my lower back revealed otherwise.
The bastard shot me.
As I fell face forward, I heard Haruhi gasp, and then scream. Even in my current state, her wail sent a chill down my spine. I'd never heard Haruhi that enraged. No… with her power… Although I couldn't see what was going on, I felt a huge rush of wind shoot past me, and the agents let out frightened yells. Despite it causing me great pain, I was able to move my head just enough to catch sight of a few of the men. The were all floating in the air as if tied to invisible marionette strings as Haruhi shouted. "I'm going to kill you bastards!" The ground started to shake as thunderbolts cackled in the background.
Haruhi, no… if you lose control of your power, you may accidentally destroy the world!
"Who cares? They're gonna pay what they did to you!"
Don't do it, Haruhi… You're not a killer… Don't let these men turn you into one!
"Shut up, Kyon! Don't you dare question your leader!" As she yelled, a giant shock wave struck me and sent me tumbling across the roof, which wouldn't have been pleasant if I'd been in perfect condition. With my bullet wound… well let's just say the 'most painful moment of my life' probably was no longer on December 18th. I guess she noticed, because the winds started to die down. "Wait, I… I didn't mean to…"
I'm not quite sure what happened after that. I heard the members of the Organization let out loud yells, but it sounded more like Haruhi had dropped them instead of killing them. All I knew for sure was that Haruhi was now kneeling near me and cradling my head in her arms.
"Kyon, I'm so sorry." Haruhi said. Unless I'm mistaken, she might have been crying. "I never meant to get you hurt…"
Ch-change it back… Change the world back, Haruhi.
"I already told you, I don't know how!" Haruhi shouted in exasperation. "Picking a couple of people up is a little different than changing everything! Here, m-maybe I can heal you or something." She tried to turn me over in what I assume was an attempt to get at the bullet wound, but I didn't let her.
There's… no time. Kimidori could be up here any second. You have to remember how you felt the last time you almost changed everything.
"I…I thought it was a dream all this time." Haruhi said, at a loss for what to do. Man, I sure miss the confident Haruhi.
"If… you don't… remember," I said, fighting the pain and struggling to remain conscious. "Then maybe I can remind you." I put my hand on the back of her head and brought it down towards mine. As our lips met for the second time in our young lives, I noted how soft hers were. Once again, I closed my eyes, and to my surprise, I felt her kissing me back this time. I remained conscious as long as I could, but very soon I blacked out.
I woke to find myself laying on my bedroom floor, in my pajamas and everything. This sure seemed familiar. At least I didn't seem to have a bullet wound in my back anymore.
"Kyon-kun!" My sister shouted, bursting through the door. "Get u—Oh, you're already up." She pouted, disappointed that she wouldn't get to drag me out of bed this morning, but she made do by grabbing Shamisen off of my bed. "Come on, Shami, time for breakfast."
"Wait a second." I said, stopping her. I needed to confirm something. "Weren't you worried about me? Wondering where I was?"
She gave me a look that said "Is your head alright, big brother?" She cocked her head to the side and asked "What do you mean? You haven't gone anywhere, have you?"
"No, I guess not." I said with a smile. It might finally be over. Still, I needed to be sure. As she left, I searched all over for my cell phone so I could give Nagato or Koizumi a call, but it was nowhere to be found. Instead, I stumbled across my school shoes, jammed into my closet for some reason. Interestingly, I was missing one of the ties for my school uniform as well. Getting dressed with the tie from my spare uniform, I left for school as soon as possible. These clues were good indicators that Haruhi might have succeeded, but I wouldn't be satisfied until I knew for sure.
I bolted from my door, only to run smack dab into a young woman. Oh great. Just when I thought this was over, there was the older Mikuru Asahina smiling sweetly at me. Oh no. In my attempts to block out the trauma, I'd neglected to tell Haruhi about her betrayal, hadn't I?
Sorry Asahina, but I've dealt with Ryoko Asakura. That smile isn't fooling anyone. I reached into my pocket but was dismayed to see that my alien gun was missing. Damn it… could I really bring myself to fight Mikuru Asahina? And would it even do any good? She is a time traveller.
"It's okay, Kyon-kun." She said. Although she was smiling, her eyes looked sad. "I'm not going to hurt you."
As much as I would love to believe that, I'm not really in the habit of trusting people who try to shoot me.
"What about Koizumi-kun?"
Crap, you've got me there. I really did want to believe that Asahina wasn't actually trying to kill us, but after all this, I wasn't going to let my guard down for some sweet words, even if they came from her beautiful lips…
Stop it! She tried to kill you, remember?
It's true. Despite her excellent looks, I couldn't help but find Asahina naturally untrustworthy now, just like what had happened with Asakura. "So, you gonna kill me now or what? Cause I can bet Haruhi wouldn't take too kindly to that." That is, assuming she didn't just chalk last night up to a dream like before…
"I never said anything about killing you." Asahina replied, beginning to walk in the direction of the school and motioning to walk with her. A few days ago, I would have jumped at the chance, but I made sure to keep my distance this time. "All I said was that I had to ensure a predetermined even would occur. That event was you and Koizumi-kun fleeing into the Closed Space. Didn't you find it odd that we left you alone after all that? We're time travelers, after all. We knew everything you would do."
Then what was the reason for trying to shoot me? You could have just told us this.
She looked away. "I wish I could have, but you know I can't do that. That sort of information is classified.
Right. Classified Information. I hate that stuff.
"Besides," She continued. "As painful as it was, everything that happened with Nagato-san, Koizumi-kun and myself are what gave you the resolve necessary to successfully use your trump-card on Suzumiya-san."
I grimaced. She had a point there, but I didn't like it. Were all time travelers this manipulative? As beautiful as she was, I didn't know if I could trust the older Asahina after all this. Still, I had to ask, "Does that mean that there may be a time in the future where the 'predetermined event' will be my death?"
"And if you were ordered to kill me or someone else from the brigade, would you do it?"
"I… I don't know." She answered. The way she was acting, she actually struck me as being more like her younger self.
"Then until you give me a real answer, I don't think I can trust you any more." Having to say it felt like I was ripping my heart out, but I couldn't allow myself to be blinded by her beauty any more. I could only trust her if she proved herself trustworthy. With that, I passed her and made my way to school alone. If she was going to kill me this time, she would have done so already. Besides, I had to make sure my other friends were alright.
"I never wanted to hurt you." Mikuru said softly from behind me. I grunted, refusing to look at her lest my resolve falter. "Please don't hold it against the younger me. I don't think she could bear it."
Don't you worry. I don't blame her. I've never liked how you can keep your past self in the dark like you do and regardless of who she may grow up to be in the future, I believe she is innocent now.
"I understand." She said quietly. "Then this is goodbye for now. I will see you in the future."
I don't doubt that.
She said nothing else, and I couldn't help but glance back. Mikuru Asahina had vanished, probably back to her own time. My heart hurt from the encounter, but there were more important things to take care of. Turning back towards the school, I began to ascend the hill. I walked briskly, but I didn't run this time. As much as I wanted to see everyone, I couldn't quite bring myself to run this thing again so soon. Besides, a small part of me was worried about what I might find. I had just let Haruhi redesign the world. Would she really stick to what I asked of her? Or worse, what if she made a mistake? Maybe the entire school would be an SOS Brigade headquarters, or Asakura could be back again. Or worse, what if Haruhi herself was gone? I passed by Kouyouen High. Could I really go through the horrible experience of her vanishment again? And what if, combined with that, one of my other previously mentioned possibilities were to occur as well? How would I fix that?
At this point, I'd reached the spot where Koizumi had pushed me out of the Closed Space. This was where I made my promise to him and Nagato. That's right. No matter what may have happened, I made a promise to them. If I hadn't managed to keep it, then I'd just have to find another way.
It wasn't much longer before I reached North High School. Good, the building seemed intact and there were plenty of familiar students milling around. I stopped by my shoe locker before realizing it was pointless. After all, I was kind of wearing my school shoes. As expected, my regular sneakers were located inside. I closed it with a sigh. Despite my rush getting here, I didn't have long before class started. Just who should I look for first…?
"Kyon-kun?" Said a voice behind me. It was soft, but even in the crowded room, I recognized it immediately.
Mikuru Asahina. Only this time it was the younger one. And she looked just about ready to cry. Asahina-san, it's good to see you—
"Kyon-kun!" She shouted, throwing her arms around me. "I… I never thought I would see you again!" She sniffled.
Asahina-san, I'm all for hugs, especially from you, but such a public display of affection is likely making me Public Enemy Number One of the entire male student body.
"Oh, s-sorry!" She yelped, releasing me. "It's… It's just my superiors didn't tell me I'd be coming back. I really thought I was leaving forever." To her credit, despite Asahina-san's obvious distress, she was keeping her voice low enough so as to avoid any eavesdroppers. Still, there were a couple of people watching from a distance, and they probably wanted to kill me.
Heh, join the club.
"Asahina-san." I said quietly, motioning her towards a less crowded hallway. "About your superiors, I actually have a question."
She looked nervous about that. "I-I'll answer it as best as I can, but a lot of that information is classified…"
That's okay, just do your best. I know you obeyed them when they told you to leave, but if your superiors ever made an order that could really hurt me or the others, would you follow it?
Asahina-san averted her eyes. I knew it, I was going to get the same answer as before. This was a waste of time…
"I don't think I'd really have much choice in the matter, because of classified information… um, I mean… well, you see what I mean, right?"
I did. If her superiors were able to manipulate her mind into preventing her from revealing information they deemed to be classified, they could potentially control her in other ways. Damn those time travelers! Maybe I was too hard on the older Asahina. Of course, for all I know she could be the one behind everything… Ugh, my brain hurts. Whatever. I need to get to class and see if anything's changed.
"Kyon-kun!" Asahina-san called after me. I turned back to her. She actually looked surprisingly determined. "Even if I wouldn't actually be able to do much… if I ever got an order like that, I would do everything I could to stop it!"
Hmm… I didn't get the impression that she was lying. Maybe I should give her older self another chance. Either way, I trusted this Asahina-san, which I guess is all that matters right now.
I didn't have long to consider it, however, as at that point I had to sprint to class. I made it, though, and Haruhi was sitting in her seat looking bored as usual. Wait… did that mean…?
"Hey Haruhi," I said, sitting down in my seat. Okabe-sensei must have been late today, so I had a bit of time to talk to her. "What's up?"
"Nothing really." She answered. "I had a really weird dream last night."
Really? Had things really worked out the same way as last time? This might just be too good to be true! "What, uh, what was it about?"
Haruhi looked at me oddly. "Kyon, have you ever kissed a girl before?"
Normally I might consider this one of her usual non-sequiters, but this time it seemed surprisingly relevant. Still, I was caught off guard and and ended up giving her a straight answer. "Yeah, I've kissed this one girl a couple times." Looking back, I probably should have lied. Oh well, Haruhi still seemed to buy that it was a dream. As long as I didn't outright tell her, she probably couldn't really figure it out for sure. And that inner skeptic of hers would probably give me a hand as well.
"Right." Haruhi said, feigning disinterest. "Just wondering."
"So Suzumiya-san believes it all to be a dream?" Koizumi summarized with an interested look. "Then it seems we got lucky once again, although we're probably going to need to be a lot more careful around her from now on."
Just as I'd hoped, Koizumi was alive and well. I'd ducked out of the classroom during lunchtime whereupon I bumped into the esper. Clearly he'd had the same idea as me. Now we were sitting at that familiar table on the grounds and discussing everything that had happened.
So… I hate to ask it, but what's dying like?
Koizumi chuckled. "Oh, the Organization didn't kill me. They managed to get the jump on me and they captured me, but they didn't finish me off at that time." He took a sip of the coffee he'd brought with him. "I assume they wanted to either interrogate me or possibly use me for leverage over you, but it looks like things worked out before that could happen."
So I guess we still don't know if Haruhi can actually bring people back from the dead, do we?
The esper shrugged. "No, I guess not. Still, I'm not complaining."
Makes sense. I've gotten close enough to death to know it's no picnic. Of course, it would be interesting to know what it felt like to go the whole way.
Koizumi smiled. "Maybe so, but I'd rather not be the one to find out."
So you mentioned the Organization earlier. They still exist?
He nodded. "Yes."
So are they pissed that you betrayed them and everything?
Koizumi shrugged again. "I'm not sure they remember. If they do, they haven't said anything to me about it."
But it's possible that they do, right?
He looked grave for a moment before standing. Lunch was almost over so we'd have to return to our classes. Damn, I'd really wanted to try and find Nagato this break, but our conversation ran long. "Yes, it is possible. Yet another thing we'll have to keep an eye on."
Great. Even when I have Haruhi fix the world, things still manage to get more complicated?
"It looks that way." Koizumi said with a grin. "But you know, as long as I'm with you guys I don't think I would have it any other way."
Hey Koizumi, that's just about the most honest I've ever seen you.
He chuckled again. "Well I decided that I needed to work on that." He turned to go. "I'm just glad things worked out."
"Hey Koizumi." I said, and he turned. "Thanks… thanks for everything."
Koizumi's grin widened. "I'm pretty sure that's the first honest thanks I've ever received from you."
"Well, I've decided I needed to work on that."
Koizumi laughed and waved over his shoulder as he left. Yeah, I know that was sappy and uncomfortable. Shut up. I thanked Nagato, it's only fitting I do the same for Koizumi when he was willing to make the same sacrifice she did.
The rest of the day passed agonizingly slowly. Haruhi remained pretty quiet and the instant the bell rang I sprinted from my seat towards the clubroom. Haruhi was probably perplexed by my sudden interest in club activities, but I didn't l pay her much heed. Koizumi and Asahina-san were okay, but there still was one more person unaccounted for.
After bursting into the clubroom (at my pace, I was certain that I'd beaten Asahina-san there), I was greeted by one of the most comforting sights I'd seen in a while.
The clubroom was exactly the way it had been before this whole thing started. The window was intact and there was no sign of my makeshift barricade. The door was even still on its hinges. But best of all was the small girl sitting in the corner reading a book.
She mechanically turned her head to face me, but she stood the instant we made eye contact.
Nagato… you're okay!
She nodded and set her book on the table, giving me her undivided attention while I approached her. I glanced at the title. A Romance of Two Worlds. Huh.
Despite how happy I was to see Nagato safe and sound, I found it difficult to find the words to express it. Instead, we just stood there for a few moments in silence. Before me was the girl who had started all of this. The one who had put her life on the line and gone against her very programming in order to protect me. Sure, I was grateful for all Koizumi (and even Asahina-san, to a certain extent) did, but that didn't change the fact that Nagato was the one who set everything into motion, She was the one who refused to leave my side and was only thinking about protecting me. I'm not sure I could really express my gratitude in words.
I guess simple is the best way to go. "I'm so glad to see again."
"I am… glad as well. It was uncertain whether I would have the opportunity to return, or whether I would do so in my current form. Those possibilities considered, this was the most desirable outcome."
Hey, I promised you, didn't I?
She nodded. "Despite probability, I chose to anticipate this outcome above all of the others. Still, there were unknown variables that meant I could not account for it with full certainty."
Good old Nagato, with your barely understandable explanations. But you're saying you did everything you could to trust me, despite what the Data Integrated Thought Entity might have told you?"
"I previously stated that I would bet everything on you." Nagato continued. "I have never abandoned that belief."
So, speaking of the Entity, is it still around?
She shook her head. "According to my data, the Data Integrated Thought Entity no longer exists in this galaxy, and possibly this universe, although that will require more investigation."
What about its interfaces? Like Emiri Kimidori for example?
"A number of humanoid interfaces still exist in this world. However without any connection to the Data Integrated Thought Entity, it is unknown whether they will remain hostile."
Well we'll see, I guess. Their fates are in their hands now that they don't have anything ordering them around. For once they can decide what they want from their lives.
"Yes." Nagato said softly before doing something I never expected from her.
She hugged me.
Yes, it wasn't the most natural hug, as the girl was clearly inexperienced (she wrapped both her arms around both the middle of my torso and my arms as well). I couldn't really hug her back from this position, but my mind was focusing more on the action itself anyways. "Nagato… you're hugging me."
She released me and backed up. "I analyzed all available data on social interactions and determined that it was appropriate." She stared straight into my eyes. "Was I incorrect?" She asked, sounding almost nervous.
"No, no you weren't." I replied, giving her a hug of my own. This time I did feel her hands on my back.
"Thank you, Kyon." She said. I guess she was getting more in the habit of using my name… or my nickname at least.
"Thank you, Yuki." I replied.
And then the door opened as Asahina-san and Koizumi stepped through the threshold.
"Oh, are we interrupting something?" Koizumi asked, grinning like usual while Asahina-san looked shocked and confused.
On another day, I might feel embarrassed, or want to punch Koizumi or something, but right now I was just happy that we were all alive and together again.
Strangely, Haruhi was late to the clubroom that day. It wasn't long before Asahina-san was in her maid costume making us tea while Nagato read in the corner and Koizumi and I were engaged in a game of backgammon.
Everything was back to normal. Well, comparatively, anyway. And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way either.
Eventually Haruhi did show up, practically kicking the door down as always. "Hey everyone! Sorry I'm late, but we have some important things to discuss now that I'm here!"
Ah yes, the sentai team, right? After all this, that actually was starting to sound pretty fun.
"Close, but no cigar, John." Haruhi replied.
"Okay, then wha…" I began, before I realized what she'd said. Wait… she didn't… did she? I heard a teacup shatter on the floor. Asahina-san looked terrified and Koizumi's mouth was still smiling, but his eyes certainly weren't. Even Nagato had looked up from her book, her eyes appearing to be even wider than usual. The entire brigade was now staring intently at both Haruhi and myself as if waiting for one of us to do something.
"What, you didn't think I was going to fall for that stupid 'it was just a dream' schtick again, did you?" Haruhi said with a mischievous smile. "Now what's this I hear about being me being God?"
Okay, screw what I said before. As I looked from Koizumi to Asahina-san to Nagato and back to Haruhi, I reflected that things were going to be different from now on.
Well, there it is! The post-kiss epilogue might have dragged a little bit, but I wanted to evoke the style of the light novels. Plus, there were a lot of subplots that needed closure. This was actually a pretty big step for me, as I almost always try to make my fanfics fit into the chronology of the series I'm writing for. Oh well, it was nice to shake up the status quo if you ask me.
That said, I really wish I could have included more Haruhi and Mikuru in this thing, but much of the story didn't allow it. Plus, is it just me or is it really hard to write Haruhi accurately? That girl is crazy! I mean, writing in Tanigawa's style is hard enough on its own, but once you throw Suzumiya in there everything gets tougher. Oh well, there were a couple loose ends, so maybe I'll write a sequel at some point. I don't have any plans for that at the moment, though.
I'd really like to know what you thought! If you enjoyed my first non-short-story foray into the Haruhi fandom, I'd love to hear it. Or, if you thought there's stuff I should work on for the future, tell me that too. I could go on all day about how much I love reviews, but I doubt you'd enjoy reading that so I'm only going to ask one more time: please review!
And now, in the words of the great Ferris Bueller: "You're still here? It's over! Go home."