"The Man Behind the Curtain"

NOTE: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and its characters do not belong to me. I am merely taking it out for a spin, for my own pleasure and no profit whatsoever.

I'm sleeping. Really, I am. Watch me snore, see me glide through the levels of my subconscious to the deepest possible REM sleep.

Or not.

I got out of my bed, being careful not to wake Shamisen, who was curled up somewhere around my thigh. Although, if I think about it, I'm fairly sure I could have danced my way out and he would have continued on snoozing. Lucky bastard. I contemplated making some tea for myself, something sweet and warm on this cold night, but decided against it. Tea doesn't quite have the same effect when the lovely Asahina's hands are not involved in the making. Instead, I move over to my bookcase, which after years of cobwebs and spiders being its only tenants has finally seen the presence of the proper inhabitants. None are mine, aside from a few scattered volumes of manga; all belong toNagato. She seems to find it easier to dispose of her leftovers by means of me rather than keeping them in her own apartment.

I pick up a book at random. The Wizard of Oz. Hmm. Not Nagato's usual style. Is this one of mine? It seems more like Haruhi's, actually, so it makes sense I would have had it from a long time ago, when I wasn't too different from the way she is now. Young girl gets thrown out of her average, everyday, black-and-white farmhouse into a magical world of color. The ending, as I recall, had her going back.

Haruhi would be appalled.

I sit, deciding to read. These sleepless nights have been at least good for clearing the dust off the bookshelf. Not to say that they happen often. Although recently they've been happening more often, unfortunately. Why? I couldn't tell you. By now I should be used to the ridiculously abnormal events of my life, and while I feel that somehow I wouldn't trade it for the world, there are nights like this where I cannot seem to appreciate it at all, nights where I am forced to wonder precisely who I am.

I'm just an plain, boring boy. I resigned myself to this fact in middle school, after putting away my dreams of aliens, time travelers, and espers. Even when I discovered such things had been brought to reality, I was assured that I was still nothing special. Meanwhile, my former dreams and fantasies currently rest on the small, hair-brushed shoulders of a weird and cruel girl.

Therein lies the problem. Haruhi Suzumiya - also known as the potential for auto-evolution, a time warp, God, and annoying, (although perhaps I threw in that last one). She was the one chosen by the Agency— to use the term 'chosen' loosely. She's the one with tremendous power inside her, hidden away. She's also loud, stubborn, and refuses to accept anything as normal, thus changing it to the abnormal way she wants it to be. So, that begs the question:

Just who am I?

Am I an accident? An anomaly? The annoying comic relief who gets killed in the last act? We've established how normal I am, so what possible use am I?

But, believe it or not, these are not the questions that plague me. My mind may sometimes be irritated by them, but soon I am running off into something bizarre and potentially dangerous and I forget all about it. No, my sleep is troubled by the questions these questions lead to. Questions that I wouldn't ever think about in the day, that can only come at night as I lie peaceful and still and open to suggestion.

What if I am not an anomaly? What if I'm far more than the SOS Brigade could ever dream of?

What if Nagato's attachment to me is more than that of a deep friendship?

What if Mikuru is embarrassing herself for nothing?

What if Koizumi is in the wrong religion?

And again, what if I am not an anomaly? What if the reason Haruhi is interested in a plain, ordinary person like me, why she would care about what I think, why she insists on having me around is because she has to? Is it because she is designed to?

Because…I am the man behind the curtain?

Many thanks to my beta, Audley, who is positively excellent at this.