"At least pretend you're paying attention." Haruhi reproaches me while I review my notebook's notes with boredom. "The university's entrance exam isn't far away and you have to be prepared."
"We function at different levels. If I don't like what I'm doing, it simply won't get into my head just because you want it. Plus, you talk about making an effort to study when you only need to read it once the previous day."
She's been in a bad mood. I ignore why, last week her mood accumulated a whole year of tantrums, insults and unconformities, as if turning eighteen and becoming an adult had robbed her from the little good mood she had. I think about it while I look at her and I pretend to listen to the earful she's giving me. I don't want to study today, I don't want to argue either. It's Sunday, we could be doing some other things.
"It's always the same thing with you, I've had enough of you today." Without saying anything else, she went upstairs, she came back seconds later, ready to go out of the door.
"Are we going somewhere?"
"Not you… I'll go see my parents, I'll be back tonight."
She didn't say goodbye. Without understanding with certainty such rare harsh mood, I saw her opening the door and disappear into the park.
This didn't start today however, but last Thursday... it was that day when I noticed it while I watched her throw melancholic looks through the window from her usual seat, the last on the row at the end of the classroom. It's pointless to say that my seat is in front of her. During these months we had managed to keep the fact we lived together a secret, although completely hiding it was virtually impossible. Everyone knows there's something going on between us, but nobody, other than the principal's office at school, and for merely administrative reasons, knows we share the same address.
"Suzumiya looks sad today." Kunikida said with that soft voice like a girl's while he opens his lunchbox.
"And you're telling me because…" I respond eagerlessly.
"Because you surely did something that bothered her." Taniguchi intervenes with sarcasm. "It's a surprise that she hasn't broken up with you yet, I think you are the unfortunate guy that has lasted the longest with her."
Unfortunate? Fucking envious guy, at least she didn't send me to hell within five minutes like she did you and I know you'd die to be in my spot. It pisses me off to listen to this dumb ass talk about things he doesn't understand.
"Sooner or later she'll get over it." I said at the end and trying to give the least possible relevance to the subject.
"And what will happen with you two at the end of high school? Will you continue seeing each other or will you say goodbye?" Kunikida asked again. I know his question is good mannered and it corresponds to a legitimate interest, but that doesn't take away the degree of obtrusiveness. So my reply got me out of the problem and conversation:
"I don't know."
However, the day ended and the mood of Haruhi didn't improve. The next day I told the rest of the brigade at different times.
"Perhaps it was something you did and didn't realize it." It was what Koizumi thought when I told him about the rare atmosphere I was living lately, during the change of classes between the first and second periods.
"Something like what? I don't tend to take her things or say anything inappropriate with her parents or mine… I don't think I've made a mistake."
"You probably forgot some important date."
"I organized with a month in anticipation her birthday party, I did my inquiries to get her a good Christmas present, I already bought the chocolate I'll melt in March for White Day and we still have time before April 1st."
"Could she have a hormonal situation?" Asahina expressed, she arrived to visit us at school and took us to a lunch fit for a king (with tea and all). "You know… since it's the twenty-eight of the month…"
"Perhaps what I'm going to say will sound weird, but I'm kind of aware of those dates and that's not the case… plus, when she's on those dark days, her mood isn't as bad."
"Have you paid attention to what she talks to you about? She probably feels you don't give her any attention."
"Although it results particularly difficult to keep all the silly stuff she normally tells me, I try to listen to them with integrity at least for half an hour after coming home from work."
"Sexual insatisfaction." Nagato shot while I walked next to her at the end of school, since my work was on the same way as her apartment.
"No… I don't think so…" I responded feeling my intimacy hickjacked. "Plus… from some days ago until now, we have not… how to say it...? done that kind of activity."
"A radical and inevitable change." She said those last words by stopping on the street she had to take to get home.
"What are you talking about?" Again… that feeling that something of vital importance is happening next to me without me noticing it.
"Suzumiya Haruhi could have a presentiment. I have no way to prove that's the case, it's only a supposition. You could try to find out on your own, talking to her."
Almost six in the afternoon of the same day. A routine which is killing my spirit.
"This is Kyon, how may I help you this afternoon?"
I listen to the dumb technical problem of the person at the other side of the line. I have to give guidance and a good service to whoever calls me between four in the afternoon and eight at night… it's a boring work, monotone and repetitive, but I make enough to support with my own means the house that since a little over a year ago I share with Haruhi. Talking about her, she is on charge of the expenses referent to meals and she's got a small savings fund for emergencies.
"You look down this afternoon, Kyon. Is there something bothering you?" She asks with her political voice, friendly and trusted, my area supervisor. Why does she talk to me with such familiarity, you'll wonder. Well, it's because she's a friend… an close and old friend.
"Not really. I suppose I'm simply tired. It's a fortune it's finally Friday."
"Big plans this weekend for you and Suzumiya?"
My supervisor gets closer to me, it's strange to talk to her as my supervisor when she's exactly as old as me. With the same familiarity which with she talks to me she deposits one of her soft hands on mine.
"If you have a problem you need to talk about, don't hesitate to come to me. I always have time for an old friend." She gifts me her enchanting smile.
"Thank you, Sasaki."
I see her go back to her office and the memory when Haruhi found out she'd be my supervisor assaults me. A whole week she came to pick me up at work, argumenting that "the first love is always the first love." Of course, once again, I did everything I could to convince her that Sasaki wasn't that first love… it seems it doesn't get into her head that the friendship between a man and a woman doesn't always have to end in a love relationship. "You don't have to feel jealous, wasn't I who came back from the closed space for you and only you?" It was what I asked in the face of her doubts, she replied with an "idiot," but she blushed and sometimes it was impossible to hide her joy… now that I think about it, those days today seem so far away...
"I'm back! I brought back some soomen!" I exclaimed as soon as I arrived home. However, the turned off lights and the silence were the things that waited for me that day, Haruhi works from home, thus I thought it'd be weird not to find her home.
"Ah, yeah… it's just that… mom asked me to stay home with them tonight, she's been a little sick…" Haruhi tells me on the phone, she didn't sound very convincing. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you… I will be home early tomorrow."
"Early" was an ambiguous term. In all the time I had as a member of the SOS Brigade, "early" meant "some hours before." Haruhi redefined it when a little after seven at night arrived. On top of that she spent the rest of the night pretending I didn't exist or trying to stick to my brain the university's entrance exam. That without taking into account that when bedtime arrived she barely gave me a short "good night" before turning the light off and pretending she was sleeping. Nevertheless, habits are hard to quit. In the morning I woke up with my face on her belly and my arms around her waist while she hugged my head. I don't have any doubts that we continued to love each other as intensively as when we realized it a little more than a year ago… however, something was missing, or remaining, or was incomplete. I couldn't say what in reality.
"I don't know what you're talking about." It was her response when I asked her, just as short while we had the somen I had brought for breakfast.
The worst thing you can do in a situation this tense is to get mad. And that's exactly what I did. Without being able to avoid it, I dropped the chopsticks on the table… well, being honest, I threw the chopsticks next to the plate.
"You notice that unless you tell me what has you so bothered, I can't do anything to fix it, right?" I told her with seriety while I try to find her gaze. She doesn't dare looking at me. She doesn't respond either. "Haruhi…"
"Nothing is bothering me, leave me alone."
"Fine, let's play a little hiding game." I stood up and I took my unfinished plate to wash it, as that was the rule in our house. "But take into account that my patience isn't infinite."
She was a capricious girl. That is the only truth. It hadn't surprised me in the least if she had gone to a corner to throw a tantrum after I left the table, however, that didn't happen. She calmly finished her breakfast and minutes after she called me to the table again to study for the famous exam. It was there where we began, and as you noticed, only an innocent comment was needed to make her leave the place without even giving me an explanation.
I played warfare videogames the following hour. In a way I don't understand, it resulted relaxing to dismember aliens to distract my mind (I hope Nagato never finds out about that), but even with the apparent fun, I had decided a while ago that I would go get her a little later… I'd go without letting her know, perhaps talking a bit with her parents would solve the mystery. Destiny, as always, had different plans for me that afternoon. The bell rang and I opened the door.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, sounding a little rude.
"Won't you invite this old man to have some tea?"
"Ah, of course… come on in, Mr. Suzumiya…"
The man was, like surely you already concluded, Haruhi's father. He never found out about the true reason why Haruhi and I ended up living together, according to him, it was because we loved each other a lot and we weren't patient enough to wait to become legal adults. Although part of that argument was true, the truth had to do with the arrival of the SOS-Ni brigade, more than a year ago. The first months the guy was a nightmare, almost as much as Haruhi when it comes to attitude, at a certain point I became afraid he could be spying on me and it was extremely difficult hiding anything from him, his intuition and capacity to observe people were the same as Haruhi's, but seasoned with twenty years in advantage over his daughter.
However, once he accepted the idea and we began to treat each other, I gained in little time his trust and he mine, becoming good friends.
"I was just thinking about going to visit tonight." I commented while I drank the badly prepared tea I improvised.
"You and Haruhi have problems, right?"
"I don't know. She doesn't tell me anything."
"I noticed because in all the times she's gone to visit us, she tries to avoid talking to me… I suppose because she thinks I could come tell you."
"Would you do it?"
"I'm here, am I not?"
We talked for a bit about the possible causes of the Haruhi's unrest, we played video games and a while after, the talk took some more seriousness.
"And tell me young man… Have you thought what you'll do?"
"Well, if I don't find out what it is that has it so upset…"
"I'm not talking about that. You are a young couple, all couples have arguments. I'm talking about what you'll do in the future. In less than a month you'll finish high school and you both are already adults… I see you guys live well and all that, without any pressures…"
"Where are you trying to get?"
"Perhaps Haruhi is upset because you haven't taken any measures for the future, you don't give her that stability that she might be looking for."
"Stability? Please! You know her since she was born! Stability isn't precisely her strong point."
"That's why. She loves you, you have no idea how much… she's probably afraid that you don't take her seriously and that you aren't looking for a future in the long run with her."
I didn't immediately respond. Apparently he didn't expect me to do it and looked at me condescendingly. Perhaps it was that… I pay taxes, I make the minimum possible effort to have okay grades, I don't look for perfection like she does… she's got a money trust and a savings account, she's more worried I'm able to be accepted into the university than she herself. I think he's right. The question is: how do I change my attitude into the right direction? It's incredible to think that we have faced the end of the world more than once and I can't deal with a domestic problem of this type.
"You're right. I'll talk it over with her when she gets back."
The old man smiled at me like someone who is satisfied doing his good deed of the day smiles and began to say goodbye.
I stayed on the stool in the porch for a pair of hours after Haruhi's father left, after that time I saw his daughter arrived and stood in front of me for some seconds, displaying that enchanting white dress with straps that makes her look like an extremely beautiful alcatraz.
"Did my dad come?"
"Yes… how do you know?"
"Well, unless he's got a lover, he doesn't have any other place to go." She sat next to me, enjoying the good weather at the end of winter.
"What do you say if I invite you to dinner to a nice place and we come back later to finish going over the tests for the entrance exam?" I proposed to her. For the first time in several days I saw her smile.
"Let's go to the cafeteria next to the station. And let's not study anymore today… it's Sunday, we should do other things."
Her intranquility perturbes me. Seeing her so docile and quiet, without that particular demon that lives within her and makes her loud and upset squeezes my soul. The young girl that won my heart by twists of fate was hidden under this girl that had left behind the melancholy to give away an incipient nostalgia… that nostalgia of the young adult who is leaving behind the chrysalis of the childhood and an adolescence that seems too fast, and which has ended without you noticing it.
That was only the prologue, the introduction, the anteroom, the previous mandatory... A very short time was left before that peaceful Sunday ended and with it, my tranquility. Suzumiya dad came all the way here and partially cleared the mystery that represented my life partner's terrible mood, I say partially because I know there's something more, but having figured out this part was an important advance… however, that wasn't but the beginning of a small ordeal that the brigade would go through in the following days and which would formally begin the following day, on Monday. The signal that would announce everything would turn upside down would be an apparent common traffic accident. If I had simply only imagine what was to come…
Author notes: Once I finished "Recurrent Dream" my mind was clear about the existence of a complete universe full of adventures for the SOS Brigade, and it was only matter of time and inspiration for them to finally arrive. This story, once again translated by luf5, is chronologically the second, however, it was the third in order of publication, supported on the original formula of Nagaru Tanigawa, but nowadays seems logic to follow the natural order of time. This story is going to be shorten than "Recurrent Dream", I really hope you enjoy it.
Translator's Notes: Hey guys... I'm back with another of pepsipez' story! I wanted to start translating at the beginning of the year, but for some reason or another I hadn't been able to sit down and start. I noticed then that I was becoming very lazy. Haha. So I finally found the energy to start back again. Hybrid Aspiration follows Recurrent Dream chronologically, so I thought it'd be a good idea to translate it next. All of pepsipez' stories are amazing, so I know you'll love each and every one of them. I hope you enjoy this first chapter and expect to see the next one in about a week! Au revoir in the meantime...