The Eternity of Haruhi Suzumiya
The autumn of my second year was in full swing, yet it was still surprisingly warm, as I tried to doze through another English class at North High School. But my chance at peaceful slumber was constantly interrupted by a rhythmic thumping in the back of my chair. I looked around to glare at the perpetrator and was met by the million megawatt smile of Haruhi Suzumiya.
If I was bored by the lesson, I couldn't imagine how Haruhi was dealing with it, no doubt desperate to drag me off on another hare brained scheme. Unfortunately for my backside, Haruhi couldn't handle her boredom in a normal, healthy, way by falling asleep or staring out the window. Instead, she spent it depriving me of my beauty sleep like a mischievous demon from some old fable. I tried to edge my chair and desk out of range of her swinging feet, but the scraping noise alerted the teacher who glowered me into submission. So continued this painfully normal part of yet another school day and frankly the monotony of it was starting to give me a headache. I closed my eyes against the throb and leant heavily on my hand, only to be jostled into wakefulness as Haruhi struck again, sending my palm scraping up the side of my face.
After what felt like centuries and with a collected sigh of relief, the class ended. But I knew that I would have no time to relax as I readied myself for the inevitable. I'd just managed to get a hold of my bag, when an expected hand grabbed my tie and yanked me towards the door. I shrugged at Kunikida and Taniguchi as they looked at me with pity, shaking their heads as I was dragged into the corridor. Why Haruhi couldn't just ask me to come with her like a normal person was beyond me, but then Haruhi was as far removed from normal as it was possible to be.
After some struggling, I managed to detach myself from her clutches and had to almost jog to keep up with her determined strides. "So, what's got you so excited?" I asked as I tried to hide my dread at the answer.
Haruhi grinned with light chuckle, "No spoilers Kyon, you'll have to wait till we get to the club room and then I'll make an announcement to the whole brigade."
"I can't wait," I sighed without enthusiasm, but Haruhi didn't seem to notice.
The club room was the same as always, with Koizumi idly playing solitaire with a pack of cards. Whilst Asahina looked cute as always in her maid outfit as she brewed some tea and Nagato was surprise, surprise, reading a book. They barely reacted to the commotion that was Haruhi, when she burst into the room with an extravagant greeting. She immediately launched into a dramatic explanation of her latest scheme, while I collapsed into a seat opposite Koizumi, gratefully accepting a cup of tea from Asahina and tuned out Haruhi's rantings.
It didn't seem like anyone else was particularly interested either, Asahina was so lost in thought that the tea she was pouring overflowed the cup and began to pool on the table. It took quite a few seconds before our brigade's mascot noticed and began to frantically clean it up in a squeaking panic. Koizumi had his usual irritating smile on his lips, but it was the only part of the esper's face that was smiling. He absent-mindedly shuffled the cards in elaborate motions, automatically making vague affirmations to whatever Haruhi was on about. Nagato was still buried in her book, but the little humanoid interface seemed to have slumped under the weight of her shoulders, turning the pages with ever decreasing speed.
They all looked dead tired from dealing with Haruhi day in, day out. It took its toll on me, so I couldn't imagine what they had to go through, especially with all the responsibilities their superiors loaded in on top. Though over the last week or so, things had definitely become worse, there has always been at least some enthusiasm from the three of them. But now they just sat there listlessly, all motivation gone, just waiting to get their next assignment over and done with.
"Haruhi" I said cutting in whatever she'd been saying, causing her to stop with a confused noise as she realised I was talking. "Haruhi, why don't we take a break for a while, you know just take some time off to relax and have fun."
I could feel the other three's eyes watching me intently as Haruhi replied in a hurt voice, "but this is going to fun, isn't it guys?" She looked hopefully at the others for encouragement, but only received polite confirmations from Koizumi and Asahina, while Nagato went back to her book.
"It will be fun, I'll show you look," Haruhi said with desperate determination and off she went again. I sighed at the spinelessness of my comrades and slumped forward onto the table, watching Haruhi's one man show over crossed arms. She was busy covering the club's whiteboard with gibberish and I tried to decipher it, but my tired brain couldn't make heads, nor tails of any of it. Asahina stared blankly at the board, occasionally putting a finger to her ear and nodding slightly. It was surprisingly to see the timid time traveller even hinting at her origins in front of Haruhi, but Asahina didn't seem to care any more.
Koizumi dealt some cards to me, heedless of Haruhi's complex plans and I looked at my card hand despondently as he smiled back. Nagato had finished her book and stared at the planes in sky with no interest in the world inside the club room.
After a while Haruhi seemed to notice the apathy in the room and slowly ran out of steam. "Well, that will do for today," she said awkwardly before turning to me with a last jump of enthusiasm. "Come on Kyon, you're going to help me get all the things we'll need."
I had no idea what I was getting into, but there was no refusing our great leader and honestly, I wanted to get out of here. So with a sigh I hefted myself to my feet and yawned before slinging my bag over my shoulder. The other three watched me, exchanging looks as a quiet voice suddenly said, "Kyon, there is a matter I wish discuss with you."
It took me a moment to register the speaker, when I clocked Nagato's large cold eyes staring intently at me. Before I could respond, Haruhi jumped in with, "Yuki if you need to talk to someone, I'm always ready to listen."
"No, it is a topic I need to discuss with him, you may leave." Nagato said bluntly, before adding as an afterthought, "thank you."
Haruhi looked so startled, that Koizumi quickly covered Nagato with, "actually I was wanting to talk with Kyon myself." His smile became increasingly forced as he awkwardly continued with, "you know, boy's stuff."
Koizumi's grin was so disturbingly broad, that I was more than little worried what this 'boy's stuff' might entail. If it wasn't for the fact that I knew that this meant some problem related to Haruhi, I would have probably run a mile. Asahina looked like she was readying an excuse to keep me here, so I said with forced casualness, "you go on ahead Haruhi. I'm sure this won't take long and I'll catch you up later."
"Oh, okay," said Haruhi with disappointment, "Meet me at the cafe once you're done here." She slung her bag and headed out the door, before turning back to say with an attempt at her usual enthusiasm. "Oh and as punishment for this, you'll be buying."
I felt that was a tad unfair as I wasn't the one that had chosen this, but it seemed important enough to the others to risk Haruhi's wrath. I gave an affirmative wave of how little I cared and watched as she vanished out the door. Once the sound of her shoes had faded, I turned to the others and sighed. "Okay what has she done now?"
Koizumi and Asahina looked at Nagato, but she seemed deep in thought. Her silence irritated me after she'd insisted on wanting to 'discuss' something so urgently. Asahina sat down next to me in a rustle of petticoats, looking at me closely with her puppy dog eyes. She was sitting a little too close for a girl this cute and I was starting to feel uncomfortable, when she said with concern, "how are feeling?"
"Fine, I guess," I stammered. "A little headache earlier, but your tea sorted that out."
"That's great," Asahina said with an impossibly cute blush. "I was hoping the new blend I was trying might help, I added something to help counteract the effects of 'classified.'" Her censor snapped her out the conversation and she looked embarrassed, as I started to wonder what the hell she'd put in my tea. Before I could demand a better explanation, Asahina's tone slid back to concern as she enquired awkwardly. "Anything else, any feelings of déjà vu or something like that?"
"Occasionally I suppose," I said vaguely before the confused memories of that endless summer the previous year rose from the depths of my mind. With dread I asked, "déjà vu, please don't tell me we're going through all that again?" I groaned as I put my head in my hands, "I swear I've done all my homework, so don't start blaming me." I looked at Nagato for explanation, but her expression was as always frustratingly neutral, though her haunted eyes hinted at the nightmare she'd endured.
"If only it were that simple," laughed Koizumi without much conviction. "It would seem if Nagato's theories are correct, that Suzumiya has quite out done herself this time."
His unhelpful smile and even less helpful words were really starting to grate on me as I asked, "and I repeat, what has she done this time?"
"Well the time of it is, rather a complex question," replied Koizumi philosophically.
I sighed, I'd had enough of this, they can deal with whatever it is, I'm getting out of here. I grabbed my bag and said irritably, "let me know when you get to the point."
"Kyon, please wait," exclaimed Asahina and I turned to give her a withering look, which sent her back to her chair.
Nagato finally chose this moment to say, "I will attempt to explain, but this concept is not easy to explain in human terms." Her voice was so quiet that I was forced to go over and sit with her, she probably had to dumb down this theory so that my no doubt primitive mind could comprehend it.
"The Data Integration Thought Entity has been considering this possibility for some time and has bent its considerable will in the hope of disproving it, but the evidence is inescapable." There was an unusually troubled expression on Nagato's face as she continued, "Through consultation with our counterparts at Kouyouen Academy and some, experimentation on my part, we have been able to confirm that we are within a massive temporal anomaly."
I glanced at the others who were both listening intently, there wasn't a trace of a smile of Koizumi's face now. The seriousness of his expression spoke of the gravity of the situation, far more than any words. "I would like to know more about these, experiments," He said with curiosity. "My Organisation would like to check these findings for themselves."
I on the other hand would like the Entity and the Organisation, to hurry up with telling me what was going on. Feeling like I was being forced to ask the obvious I said with a sigh, "so how big is this 'anomaly?'"
"Our combined analysis has found that the events of the previous summer were only a fraction of Suzumiya's true ability," said Nagato flatly. "It would appear this loop in time, expands across the last four years, to a variable point in the near future."
It was so subtle, but sitting this close you could see the scars of untold repeated centuries haunting those alien eyes. It was so easy to get lost looking into them, that for a second a thought I saw another Nagato smiling shyly up at me. I shook away the confusing image as my mind began to throb again with the thousand questions that rattled in my brain.
So I asked more simply, "how long has this been happening, I mean how many times have we been through this?"
Nagato seemed almost ashamed as she revealed hesitantly, "I do not know. I have managed to establish limited contact with some versions of myself from previous iterations, though I am limited to versions that were interfaces of the Data Integration Thought Entity."
"So the Entity doesn't exist in all traversals of temporal loop?" Asked Asahina in surprise.
"No, it has proven more challenging to access the memories of my predecessors who are other types of alien life form, but even more so the ones that were..." Nagato paused and looked at her tiny hands with what I think was sadness, "...human."
Even though it was slight, seeing this much emotion in that usually blank face was unnerving to say the least. I tried to push the conversation on by asking, "So these 'iterations' are different each time?"
"Yes," Nagato said slowly, "there is a greater degree of variance than what we experienced the previous summer. But on the whole the five existing members of the SOS Brigade are a constant, though the natures of Koizumi, Asahina and myself, vary."
The other two seemed concerned by this, while was more curious about my own fate as I asked, "but Haruhi and me stay the same?"
"For the most part, Suzumiya's eccentricities have grown over time. Whereas yourself," Nagato halted as she seemed to be considering the correct way to put it." I believe that you are aware subconsciously of the anomaly and the fatigue of reliving these years has affected, your enjoyment of life."
I shrugged dismissively, I certainly didn't remember all these loops, surely everyone experienced déjà vu at some point. It definitely didn't mean that Haruhi was making us live our high school years over and over again. As for my joie de vivre, it wasn't easy staying cheerful when I was constantly getting mixed up in all this and having to listen to this crazy talk. I looked at Koizumi and Asahina, asking them, "so you two believe all this?"
Koizumi considered before saying, "While I do find the concept rather intriguing. There are some elements to Nagato's theory that I'm not positive on or more correctly I believe that her solution suffers from a fatal flaw."
Intriguing would be last thing I'd call it, so I looked at the rather nervous Asahina, who said. "It certainly fits with 'classified' issues within our studies of 'classified information.' Though it can be difficult to analyse 'classified' from this point in 'classified'..." She trailed off forlornly in a string of 'classifieds,' before shouting "classified" with frustration in the manner of a curse. I wondered what kind of future swear word was so bad that it had to be classified, though maybe it was just to protect me from hearing such foul language, from such a cute girl.
"Surely from the future you can get a better picture of what is going on within these loops," I said, "I'm assuming you can still contact the future?"
"Yes, but I'm afraid it doesn't work like that," Said Asahina fretting. "The scope of these loops is 'classified.'"
Asahina sighed and gave up, slumping against the table top in pitiful pile of lace. Nagato spoke up and explained. "The magnitude of these anomalies is far greater than time, space and even the Data Integration Thought Entity. Everything is reset, everything is changed to suit Suzumiya's desires and it is this that has sent the Entity into disarray."
"Reset to what and when?" I asked, though I had a feeling I already knew the answer.
"To the night of Tanabata four years ago," said Nagato. "Though the circumstances involving Haruhi and yourself drawing the signal on the school field differ greatly between iterations."
"Why doesn't that surprise me," I sighed, "I wonder why Haruhi likes that night so much?"
The three of them looked at each other knowingly, but didn't answer. So I asked the big question without enthusiasm, "So what are we going to do about it or at the very least can we do anything about it?" I had a bad feeling I was about to roped into doing something stupid, but I sat there tapping my fingers on the table until someone answered.
"Most of the resets occur when Suzumiya becomes dissatisfied with the world and attempts to change things to conform to her new desires." Nagato said almost bitterly. "The most common cause of dissatisfaction is you."
"Seriously," I exclaimed, "what did I do?"
Koizumi let out a bark of a laugh, while Asahina looked away from me, leaving Nagato to continue with. "Most resets are triggered when you are perceived to be entering a relationship with someone other than Suzumiya. I believe you remember when you and Suzumiya became trapped in another world, but you acted in a way that convinced her to return?"
It wasn't like I'd forget kissing Haruhi, especially while surrounded by giants in strange grey world. It may have just been a dream to her, but the touch of Haruhi's lips as I held her in my arms had been very real to me. "Yeah," I stammered awkwardly at the memory, " but I don't see how..."
"That was reaction to your attention being too focussed on Asahina," said Nagato bluntly as Asahina whimpered. "Though previous iterations have also involved interactions with; Asakura, Sasaki, Tsuruya, Koizumi and..." I was about to protest while Koizumi raised an amused eyebrow. But I was silenced when Nagato's slightly harsh tone suddenly became quiet as she added, "...myself."
My mouth flapped wordlessly, as I tried to think what to say to all that. Sure Haruhi could go into a massive sulk when she didn't get her own way, but all this, it was beyond even her. "Look," I said bluntly. "Haruhi has made it clear to me that she thinks romance is stupid, I doubt that she'd rip apart the world over and over just for me."
"If only a lady's heart was so simple my friend," chuckled Koizumi, "even you must realise that by now. Surely it isn't that big a hardship for you to confess to such a fine young woman, should be no problem for gentleman such as yourself."
His casual smile was particularly grating right now and judging by the looks he was getting; the two ladies here weren't impressed either. "If it's that easy, why don't you have a go?" I snapped, "I'm sure that stupid grin of yours can charm even her."
Koizumi's face flashed with anger before he yanked that false smile back on to his lips and said with shrug. "Believe me, if Suzumiya had any interest in myself, this whole situation would have never have happened."
The thinly veiled contempt in his voice made me want to punch him, when Nagato pointed out in an exceptionally cold voice. "All attempts by Itsuki Koizumi to enter a relationship with Suzumiya have ended in failure, but have never caused enough stress to make her reset anything."
I gave him a smug smile, which Koizumi returned with an uncaring one of his own, probably to try and hide the dark look in his eyes. My smile was short lived as Nagato added. "But all prior attempts by yourself have also ended in failure, always ending in a reset."
I looked a Nagato incredulously and said, "Then why in the hell are trying to get me to ask her out then?"
"Because all evidence indicates that her emotions towards you are the primary cause of the anomaly," Nagato said.
"Then wouldn't it be better to wait it out than risk another one?" I asked.
"That has been attempted twice, but also ended in failure," stated Nagato. "It appears that reaching the conclusion of high school without any relationship occurring distresses her enough to reset again."
"If she liked me so much, she'd have asked me out by now," I snapped with irritation.
This time Asahina piped up, blushing with awkwardness as she said, "Suzumiya is a passionate person and regardless of her abilities, she is still a teenage girl. She has always been inspired by how things are done in stories, so it shouldn't be a surprise that her desire for romance is based on those concepts. You must be able to see how close you've become over the last few years, she trusts you far more than the rest of us and she has been quite forward with you, only you're..."
Asahina trailed off into her idiotically fretful mutterings, leaving Koizumi to finish off with a sneered. "Imperceptive, obtuse, thick as..."
"Whatever," I cut in, glaring at the smiling esper. "Do you really expect me to believe this fairy tale nonsense, that I'll confess my undying love and suddenly everything will be okay. Haruhi's many things, but she's not crazy enough to want me riding up in shining armour. I'll allow that the 'real world' is a shaky concept with her around, but I thought you three had more sense than that."
I grabbed my bag and headed for the door, throwing back, "This is just stupid, I'd better go catch up with her, hopefully she won't 'reset the world' just because I'm late from listening to all this crap."
I stormed off, leaving Koizumi and his 'I told you so' shrug behind. I let my feet do the navigation as I fumed my way down the hill into town. What were those guys trying to pull, Haruhi has done some outlandish things in her time, but resetting the world because of me, hardly?
Yeah I'd thought about asking her out, few guys wouldn't, she was smart, pretty and that smile of hers was incredible. But she was also off her rocker, dealing with her part time was hard enough, but dealing with all the time would be impossible. Even if I did and she said yes, would that be end to this mess. If what they said was true, then every time we had an argument, Haruhi would snap her fingers and we'd be back to where we started. Though it was strange how easily I just accepted this whole idea of these time loops, maybe I was just used to this particular brand of crazy or maybe I knew somehow they were right.
Well not entirely, whatever Haruhi's problem was, it wasn't me and I was sure the truth of that would out itself eventually. She spent most of her time bothering me with orders and dragging me along on insane quests, hardly the actions of a girl in love. I'd never seen her mooning over me or leaving notes in my locker that said anything other than, 'be at some such place now.' It was bad enough being bossed around by her, but I was sick of being ordered around by the other three. Telling me where to be, what to do and now how to feel.
Anyway it wasn't like being stuck at school was that bad, certainly beat adult life with its jobs, kids and mortgages. Now I knew the universe would probably loop on itself regardless, I could relax about my exams and enjoy the rest of school life. Thinking about it like that made me feel a little better about the situation despite my anger at the others. When I reached the café with a show of breathlessness, I was met by an equally angry Haruhi, who shouted "What time you call this?" heedless of the busy café around us.
I ignored her and collapsed into a seat at our usual table, looking up at her pout with tired eyes as I asked, "What do you want?"
"What do I want?" Said Haruhi, "I want an explanation, I want..."
"To drink, Haruhi," I sighed as I cut in. "You said I was buying."
Haruhi stopped as she was caught off guard, then said stiffly. "Because you took so long I had to get it myself," pointing at a half drunk tea and crumb covered plate. I shrugged, relieved to be only spending my meagre finances on myself, as I ordered a coffee from the waitress.
"Look Haruhi, you know why I was late," I said with exasperation. "I was helping the others with some stuff and it ended up taking longer than I thought, sorry."
"What did they want, it is the duty of the brigade leader to look after her subordinates." Haruhi asked dramatically for adding with quieter concern, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
I struggled to think of answer, it wasn't like I could say, 'hey Haruhi here's a laugh, they want us to out so you'll stop resetting the universe.' Because I wasn't sure she would laugh and I'd no idea what would happen if I asked her about these time loops. I mean did Haruhi have any inkling about what she was doing to the world, did she get déjà vu like the rest of us or was it all buried so deep that she never knew?
My silence was beginning to make her concerned, so I said casually, "nothing much, don't worry about it."
But it was clear that it did worry her as she looked downcast as she sipped her tea. "Why is it always like that?" Haruhi asked, "you four always seem to be busy talking or doing stuff together, but when I ask, all I get are vague answers. Don't think I haven't noticed you all having so much fun, that you're too tired to do anything I want to do. Sometimes it feels like you're all trying to avoid me, especially when everything seems to stop as soon as walk in the club room door."
Considering how much our 'fun' consisted of cleaning up the mess Haruhi had created while having her own fun. That her incessant escapades had driven some of the brigade to the brink of madness and despair. Yeah, it wasn't surprising that we'd all started resenting our glorious leader a little and I'd been increasingly wondering if they only way to get break would be to convince Haruhi of the truth behind her nature. The closer we became made it much harder to keep lying to her, I hated how it made me feel, but what else could I do?
"It's just that the Brigade's activities can be so intense, that we can get a bit tired out. For starters, I think Nagato is still recovering from that illness, then Asahina has all her third year exams to worry about and Koizumi has err, girl problems." I bundled together from the first thoughts in my head in hoping they sounded convincing as I ploughed on with. "Maybe you should let them have a break for a bit, then I'm sure they will ready for whatever you can throw at them." I tried to sound encouraging even though wasn't sure why I was covering for them. But it was clear they were all in a bad way, otherwise they'd never have been even considering their ridiculous plan.
Haruhi nodded as she considered this, then look at me intently as she said, "What about you Kyon, are you needing a break from me. You always seem ready to jump up and help the others, yet I have to practically force you to be around me. When was the last time we hung out together, just the two of us?"
Haruhi's voice had become unnaturally quiet for her, as those big brown eyes bore into my soul, searching for answers. I struggled to recall the last time we had, because with all the messing about with time, I couldn't be sure what Haruhi remembered and even my own memories were muddled. I hung my head in shame, unable to meet her gaze as I admitted that I didn't know. So I tried to quickly change track as I suggested, "Well are you free at the weekend, we can go together and do whatever you want?"
This didn't cheer her up as much as I'd hoped, if anything she looked torn as she put a soft hand on mine. "But do you actually want to or are you only doing it because I asked you to?" Haruhi said with a hint of desperation. I stalled as I knew that there would probably be a load of homework to do by then, but Haruhi read my indecision as a negative and glared at me with tears edging her eyes. "I knew it, all I wanted, was for you and me to…" Haruhi sniffed as she wiped her eyes, "… do stuff together. But it's clear you'd rather be off having a good time with Mikuru or Yuki, well if they're more fun than me, then fine."
Before I could answer, Haruhi rose from her chair with a great screech of chair legs and made to leave. I called to her to wait as the entire café stared at us, but she only walked faster out into orange light of the setting sun. But I refused to let her go like that and I vaulted the table, sending crockery flying. Shouting an apology, I burst out the door and squinted in the glare for Haruhi. Whatever Asahina had given me had clearly worn off, as my head was screaming as I saw Haruhi walking quickly away, her yellow ribbon streaming in the quickening breeze.
Gasping for breath I caught up with her and put a hand to her shoulder. She turned at looked at me, the tears in her eyes not making me feel half as wretched as her smile, when I said. "Haruhi, I do want to go do stuff with you, just name it and we'll do it."
Haruhi shook her head and said, "I want to, but it's clear now it won't mean to you, what it does to me. Even now you're asking about what I want to do, when I was hoping that you'd want me to come somewhere with you." Her half smile faded as she looked up the street with a sigh and added, "I just want to go home now. I guess, I'll see you at school tomorrow."
I tried to think of something to stop her, but I doubted anything would. I don't know why she had to get so upset about me spending time with the friends, that she'd dragged into our lives. I doubt spending time with me would be fun, all I'd want to do is relax at home and Haruhi would bored witless by that. I was sure I must have spent time with Haruhi recently, I just couldn't pin point the exact date, but we had, hadn't we?
Damn it was hard thinking clearly these days, the air felt heavy and the clouds seemed to thickening as I trudged home, hoping to get there before the rain. I'd just have to make it up to Haruhi somehow, spend more time with her and try to be more positive about her plans. I'm sure once we got into the swing of one her schemes, she'd be back to normal in no time and I'd be dragged about town on every errant going.
I didn't beat the rain and by the time I squelched through the front door I was desperate for a hot bath. After that, dinner and all the usual activities of an evening, I headed to bed early. Even though I felt exhausted, sleep did not come easily and I drifted fitfully out of confusing dreams. The storm raging outside wasn't helping either, with the wind howling and thunder booming.
Shamisen yowled as I climbed out of bed and opened the curtains, watching great forks of lightning split the sky. In the after glare of the strikes, I thought I could see great figures silhouetted against the darkness and wondered if they were Haruhi's celestial giants. As I watched the storm I saw a red light dancing through the night, it seemed to be weaving erratically as it hurtled through the rain. As it rapidly became clear that it wasn't slowing down, I moved slowly away from the window, positive that it was on a collision course for my house. Then suddenly as I readied to dive for cover, the red glow blinked out.
Against the glow of the street lights I just made out a human figure in the dark, tumbling like a rag doll through the air. With a sickening crash it went through the front hedge, skimmed across the lawn, before vanishing amongst the flowers beneath my window. I rushed outside to find the prostrate esper lying at the end of long gouge through the lawn. He groaned as he propped himself up against the wall and smiled with a lopsided grimace.
"Ahh, I did get the right house," Koizumi chuckled as he coughed up some blood. "Please except my apologies for the damage to your front garden."
I looked at him, wincing at the cuts, bruises and the horrible angle of his left leg. I automatically reached for my phone, before remembering it was up in my bedroom and started to dither about what to do.
"I'm going to call an ambulance, don't move any..." I started before Koizumi stiffly raised a hand to silence me.
"It's too late for that," Koizumi said with a wince.
"Don't be stupid, I'm sure they can fix you up," I demanded.
"There's no point, the end has already come," resigned Koizumi looking at the tumultuous sky. "The Celestials have grown too strong and closed space is expanding too fast, it is clear Suzumiya has already begun to reshape the world. All we can do now is wait and see what kind of world she'll create for us." He looked up at me and grimaced as he asked. "What the hell did you do, you were supposed to win her heart, not break it?"
As the torrential rain soaked the both of us, I felt bad for correcting a dying man. But I insisted on pointing out that this was because we kept Haruhi out of everything, not half baked ideas of romance. Koizumi shook his head with a laughed, "I told them you wouldn't understand, but the other two were insistent."
I was about to object when a movement made me look towards the road. "Ahh speak of the devils," muttered Koizumi as I looked at Asahina and Nagato standing beneath an umbrella. Asahina gasped at Koizumi's broken state and ran over to shield him from the rain. After a moment's indecision she pulled out a strange gadget from her bag and jabbed it against his neck. He sighed with contentment and thanked her as his body relaxed a little.
Koizumi looked at Nagato and asked without much hope, "is there anything we can do?"
Nagato shook her head slightly, "No, the process is now irreversible, we can only wait."
There was silence between us as I could feel their disappointment in me, I wanted to protest my innocence but I knew there was no point. I looked at the sky and even I could see that things were very wrong, as the clouds were torn between the storm and clear stars in an unnatural patchwork all the way to the horizon.
I felt I had to suggest something to try and relieve my guilt, so I asked, "If there's no way of stopping this, is there any way to get a message to our next 'selves' and give them a head start?"
Asahina and Koizumi looked at Nagato, who was deep in thought, until she said, "I was investigating a method, but there was not time to test its viability."
Asahina said, "It must at least be worth trying. At this stage, I doubt it will hurt."
Koizumi shrugged, "it'll be better than nothing, maybe they'll have better luck."
I watch her nervously as Nagato nodded and gently took my hand in hers. She brought it to her mouth and there was a jab of pain as she bit into my palm, just below my pinkie finger. I fought the blush growing in my cheeks as she stayed like that for a little while, her small lips brushing my skin.
Eventually she let go and looked up at me, her eyes gazing intently into mine. "Since you undergo minimal change between iterations, you are the best suited to transport the data. Though success is not guaranteed if Suzumiya no longer desires the existence of the myself or the Data Integration Thought Entity."
"I'm sure it'll be fine," I said with empty reassurance as a loud boom of thunder rolled overhead. But the storm sounded wrong as the echo distorted through the tormented night. In the distance I could see a ripple in the air, travelling towards us at astonishing speed.
"Here it comes," said Koizumi, steeling himself against the unknown. He then took a deep breath and raised an empty hand in a toast. "Well it's been nice knowing you all and for what it's worth, I hope we're all friends on the other side."
I nodded in reply with a grim smile and looked at Asahina who did likewise. The last thing I saw was Nagato looking at me with the slightest of smiles and then, our world ended.
As the past formed around me, I marvelled at how green and lush everything was, on this warm July night. I lost myself in the beauty of the past until I forced myself to focus on my mission and anxiously rushed to find my target. Hiding in the trees that surround a dark school playing field, I watched a middle school girl ordering a boy of the same age around the field. They were both laughing as he pushed a strange old contraption that was painting white lines on the grass, weaving an intricate pattern of words and symbols.
I smiled as they laughed and joked with each other, becoming so enraptured by their joy that I almost tripped over and nearly gave myself away. With a classified curse, I performed one final reconnaissance and jumped forward to see the same pair happily enjoying summer break together. Then forward again to watch them approaching North High's gate on their first day of high school, their faces lit with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.
[Author's Note: Well I hope you enjoyed this first part of my story of the SOS Brigade, all reviews are appreciated and I hope you want to see more. May the future bring more than pachinko machines. - Godric]