Winter in the SOS Brigade room was nothing to be envious of, especially on this particular Thursday. The heater I had picked up did little to help, as in order to keep myself from getting bored, I continued to humor Koizumi in his board games. And, as I continued to humor Koizumi in his board games, I was drawn away from the heater and back into the winter chill. The only thing keeping my insides from growing icicles was the sweet and warm taste of Miss Asahina's tea.
"Please enjoy," she urged as she set a cup in front of me. I felt her apron brush against my knee as she turned to make a cup for Koizumi. Was it legal for someone to be so good at cosplaying a maid?
"Thanks," I replied, pulling my scarf around my neck a little tighter, and taking a sip.
The cold proved to me just how barebones the club room was. The Computer Club had installed internet in our walls, but right now I would kill for just a little bit of insulation. In fact, I would readily trade all four notebook computers we had won after our last altercation with our "rival" club.
"Your move, Kyon," Koizumi smiled.
I was not very good at Othello. I was, however, better than Koizumi. I scooped the desired piece into my hand just as the club door burst open, announcing Haruhi's arrival.
"Hello, everyone!" she declared. Everything Haruhi said was a declaration. If Haruhi lost the use of her vocal cords, she would find a way to declare it.
"Hey," I said without looking up. Everyone else replied in their own way: Koizumi with that incessant smile, Miss Asahina with her cute greeting, and Nagato looking up from her book.
"I have something to show you all!" Haruhi announced, making dutiful strides towards the large PC at the forefront of the room. "Come here…that means you, too, Kyon. You lazybones." She flashed me a cheeky grin.
Well, being over there means I'm just that much closer to the heater, so I'm not one to complain.
Haruhi splayed her fingers over the keys in a mad dance to find what she was looking for. The page loaded up as Haruhi let out a "ta-da!" As I realized what it was, I only became more confused.
"Haruhi," I began, "this is a fanfiction website."
"I know that!" she fussed. "But take a closer look."
I did so. "…Is the common link that all of these stories look mind-numbingly awful?"
"No, you dummy! – "
"They all appear to be romance stories," Koizumi surmised.
"You're getting warmer," Haruhi said gleefully. "They're all about soul mates!"
I could make neither heads nor tails of this sentence. Luckily, Haruhi indulged in explaining to us plebeians. "In soul mate stories, the two lovers are connected somehow. Sometimes it's a red string of fate that only you and your soul mate can see! Sometimes their name is a permanent tattoo on your wrist. Sometimes you know what the first thing they'll ever say to you is. Imagine that! No one will ever have to worry about finding a partner ever again!"
"Wait a minute," I interjected, "aren't you Haruhi "Love is a mental illness" Suzumiya? Since when were you interested in romance?"
"I'm not," Haruhi asserted. "But that doesn't mean I can't find and recruit a pair of soul mates for the SOS Brigade! It'll be the first really exciting addition to this club, and you can't blame me for trying to spice things up a little around here!"
If you only knew.
"Miss Suzumiya, from the way you're talking, it sounds like you're looking to go matchmaking," Koizumi ventured.
"Matchmaking and recruiting, Koizumi. You're perceptive."
"Haruhi, hold on," I said. "You can't just force people together and call them soul mates!" Wait, was that true? "…I think."
Haruhi let out a groan. "Stop making sense, Kyon! This is why you're boring. I'm taking away one thousand points!"
Points of what? And how many did I have before?
"Anyway, I'm going home to research!" Haruhi said, and I got the feeling she meant she was going to read more fanfiction. "You're all welcome to stay, but you'd better rest up for tomorrow! It's a big day and we're going to change the world!"
After all these months, I knew she was right, for better or for worse.
I went home shortly after, and after a short round of studying – or perhaps as a result of it – I fell asleep. Morning came way too quickly.
I struggled my way to school and took my usual seat in front of Haruhi. She had already taken off her winter coat, shedding it like a snake from its skin. Impressive, considering the lackluster heating in our school building.
"Morning, Haruhi," I greeted the eccentric before me. Plastered over her face was that all-too-familiar manic grin.
"Morning, Kyon! I hope you're ready to make a lifelong match, with lifelong consequences!"
I didn't like the way that sounded, but then, nothing about the last two days told me I should be excited. And once Haruhi set something in motion, it was very difficult to stop it.
"As ready as I'll ever be…" I mumbled.
"What's with that attitude? I thought you'd be happier about this; after all, it's your friend we're setting up."
Well, maybe if I had known that – wait, what?!
"We're doing what to my friend?" I would have done a spit take, but my throat had become suddenly and completely dry.
"Kunikida is going to find his soul mate!" Haruhi announced to me, standing and putting one foot up on her chair for emphasis. Her ability to pose like an imposing shogun while saying such nonsensical things was truly impressive.
My eyes flitted across the room – was anyone watching? No, it seemed that declaration had gone unnoticed by the class. My gaze landed on the doorway, however, just as a certain pair of people walked in: Taniguchi and Kunikida.
Haruhi naturally drew their attention. She was still posing like a Japanese Teddy Roosevelt, and I realized I still had a shocked look frozen on my face. The dynamic duo ambled toward us.
"Hey, what's all the theatrics for?" Taniguchi kidded as he sidled up to my desk.
"Looks like you two are awfully excited for the weekend," Kunikida added, with that slight smile of him. It reminded me of Koizumi's – I sometimes wonder if Kunikida is hiding something from me. Maybe he's the dimensional jumper Haruhi always wanted.
"So what are you up to?" Taniguchi needled.
"It's really nothing – "
"Kunikida, starting today, you need never worry about finding your true love ever again!" Haruhi beamed.
Kunikida was almost as surprised as I had been. He possessed an uncanny ability to roll with the punches, however, and simply asked, "What do you mean, Miss Suzumiya?"
"It means the SOS Brigade has smiled upon you! It means your life is about to be blessed! It means your happiness will soon spill over!" Haruhi grinned.
"It means," I finished, utterly defeated, "that we're setting you up on a date."