Fujioka Haruhi has a terrible memory. She is not dumb, she was an excellent student back in her youth, scoring perfect on every quiz, test, and exam, with room to spare. She never forgot what she had learned in school, as she made every effort to organize and maintain the knowledge in her head. It was an important quality for her, and one that she polished through constant diligence.
Fujioka Haruhi has a terrible memory in a different sense; she does not remember faces very well. So when one day a bright, orange-haired man dressed in a black hakama sporting an overly large sword on his back climbs in through the window of her hospital room, Fujioka Haruhi gets a vaguely strange shock of deja-vu.
She asks, "Do I know you?" but cannot place the young orange-haired man at any point in her past memory.
The orange-haired man scratches his head and pauses to think. "Don't think so," he finally says, before jumping down from the window sill and landing on deftly on the tiled floor.
"Oh," says Fujioka Haruhi, and leans back in her bed, and resumes writing out cooking recipes in the black notebook in neat, crisp handwriting. The man says something, but she's not really listening because she's thinking of her little girl who's not so little anymore, who will be left motherless in a very short period of time.
"You ready?" the man is asking in a light conversational tone.
Fujioka Haruhi lifts her head and looks at him. She has just finished the last word of her cooking book, and ends it with a pretty little note for the recipient. Closing the book gently, she sets it neatly on the bedside table, lightly placing the pen on top of it.
She sighs, peacefully, then smiles at him. "Will you tell her I'll miss her?" she suddenly says.
The man pauses in the middle of idly brushing at his hakama and looks at her in a curious way. Then he says, "If I see her, sure."
There is one last peculiarly familiar feeling as she reaches out a hand kindly to the man, a gesture she learned to be gratuitous and maternal, and as the man stares at it blankly before finally realizing she's asking for his hand. He slowly holds his rough, large hand out, and Fujioka Haruhi takes it, and holds it between her two hands that are losing their warmth. The man's hand is tense and he's shifting awkwardly, avoiding eye contact, something about it seeming more teenager than adult.
"Thank you," she says, in her best smile. It feels strange saying it, though; oddly as if the merit is years overdue. The orange-haired man looks at her again, but this time he has stopped fidgeting. The awkward sense is absent as he returns the smile, the heavy lines of his somewhat gruff face easing into a kind expression that is strangely fitting. Then Fujioka Haruhi's hands slowly began to loose their strength, and knowing it's time, they both pull back to let the man do his job.
"What's it like?" she asks softly.
"Different," he says, and then adds, "But like going back Home."
"Hm," she muses, and leans back in her bed. Her eyelids are suddenly extremely heavy. "I wonder if I'll see her when I get Ho...me..."
Then suddenly, all is silent, and Fujioka Haruhi finally falls asleep. Wordlessly, the orange-haired man reaches behind his back and touches the hilt of the large sword.
Strange how she didn't perceive the entire situation odd, she later thinks, as she walks among the streets of Rukongai, only stopping to wave goodbye to the little black butterfly that guided her there.