Summary: Five ways that the SOS Brigade's membership never was. AU. There's some vague references to Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, and if you're not familiar with who John Smith is and the details of Tanabata three years ago, Haruhi's part won't make sense. In short, lots of novel references.

this voluntary state of apart

i. and years from now

"I got my new orders today."

Koizumi turned around, a vague notion of what he was about to hear echoing in his head preemptively. "What?"

"Suzumiya Haruhi's mental state has continued to destabilize. The higher-ups want someone to observe her more closely."

"By that, closer proximity to her, you mean."

"Yes. Tomorrow, I will transfer to North High. I leave the rest here to you."

Koizumi nodded as his smile tightened. "It should be interesting, meeting her. I have no doubt that she will immediately seek you out, seeing as you are transferring in the middle of the year."

"To be honest, as she's continued to destabilize for a while, I think that my transferring at this time was planned purposefully."

"True."

"But you're right; it should be interesting."

His esper companion was gone from homeroom the next day, leaving behind no contact address and many confused classmates who all directed their questions at him. He answered them to the best of his ability – evasion was his strength, after all – and pushed out of his mind the images of red orbs and black sky as class began.

But when it came down to it, he only existed for that battleground. For fighting the Celestials, for obeying the Agency, for managing Suzumiya Haruhi's stormy moods. It was due to her that he existed in this way. And if the organization's belief was correct, that she was akin to a god, then he had to thank her for that and a great deal more. His chance to work with these individuals and to literally supervise the world, for one.

At the same time, even if he was an esper, it wasn't as though he was guaranteed all of the interesting jobs. The fact that he wasn't the one walking into North High right now proved it.

But still…

Koizumi looked out the window, and wondered what it was like to meet a god.


ii. I'll cry to remember

"Denied."

"W…w-what?"

No, there was no way. How could –

"Request of traveling into the past on said date three years ago – denied."

"But you can't! As our memories and the data show, we have to go back and make sure that these events regarding Suzumiya Haruhi occur as they were supposed to, which requires my presence there!"

"Do not make me repeat myself again. Denied."

Asahina furrowed her eyebrows, suddenly realizing how angry she was. They didn't understand. She had to be there. She had to be part of the SOS Brigade. She had to help Kyon move back and forth, repeatedly, between those years. She had to help her past self along the way. She had seen all of that, along with several of the higher-ups, and they knew. She had to go.

They'd told her to prepare an order for her past self three days ago, and now, they were suddenly changing their minds?

The fate of the future had suddenly reversed, and she was powerless to do anything about it. Powerless to make sure that their pasts, presents, and futures would all turn out like they were supposed to.

"We have reanalyzed the situation and determined that this is for our best interests, if the future does not turn out the way we'd originally planned."

They didn't understand.

Asahina slumped down, not understanding how only three days ago she felt like the best part of her life was beginning. Only three days ago, and at this moment...

What would the future become now?

She didn't want to know.


iii. how very close we were

"Asakura, we are sending you to North High."

She nodded while smiling. "I'll take care of it."

"Nagato, you will be her backup. We entrust this mission to you."

She gave the merest of nods.

Nagato knew that her abilities surpassed Asakura's. She also knew what the future would be – what was supposed to have been, at least. Coupled with this order, this meant that there had been a change in the primary goal of the data observation program and the Integrated Data Sentient Entity's plans.

She pushed that data to the back of her mind, and estimated the size of what the data explosion would be and how much usable information they could salvage from it.

"You understand how the mission has changed."

"Yes."

She understood.


iv. knowing this, will I reach for you

"If you're interested in her, then I say, just give up!"

"Kyon's always liked weird girls anyway."

Kyon sighed. Leave it to Taniguchi and Kunikida to misinterpret a situation.

But he still observed Haruhi and her strange habits anyway, still struck up a conversation with her out of the blue and talked about her ever-changing hairstyles, still wondered why she jumped from club to club every single day without looking back.

"What kind of magic did you use?" Taniguchi exclaimed one day, after Haruhi had left during the break like she always did.

"What?"

"I've never seen Suzumiya talk to anyone for so long! What'd you talk about?"

Whatever came to mind, really…

"And why would she want to talk to you anyway?"

No idea.

"But I'm relieved," Asakura remarked with a smile. "She can't go on being isolated forever, so it's great that you're her friend."

"Friend?" Another misinterpretation. When had several minute-long conversations meant anything, anyway?

"And if there's anything I need to tell Suzumiya-san, I can just do it through you!"

"No, I'm not her spokesman or anything!"

Taniguchi and Kunikida wouldn't stop giving him strange looks for the rest of the afternoon, much to his chagrin. Repeatedly telling them that he wasn't interested in her and that he wasn't her go-to guy would only worsen the situation.

He was starting to regret all of this, really. He wished that he'd never started up those conversations.

The next day, they drew slips of paper from the cookie tin to determine their new seats.

Kyon got a seat in the back.

Haruhi got a seat in the front.

Kyon sighed, out of relief. Though the strange tug that he felt when he glanced at her – as though this was wrong, all wrong – only served to confuse him.

Goodbye, Haruhi, he thought anyway, shrugging it off. After all, it looked like they wouldn't have much to do with each other ever again.

For better or for worse.


v. the way you want me to?

Haruhi looked up at the night sky.

No matter what anyone thought, covering a field with intricate drawings of white chalk lines to communicate with extraterrestrials was difficult. And tiring. Especially if no one was there to help her. So she flopped down on her back against the grass – she deserved the break – and closed her eyes for a moment.

Images and words assailed her mind:

How many people are here, Dad?

Well, if it's a sold out day, 50,000 –

50,000 –

1/2000. One-two-thousandths of the population of Japan

An even smaller fraction of the world –

You're only ordinary, you know that, right? Your whole life is being lived out right now by countless individuals –

- countless –

- When was your life ever interesting?

No.

Something unique has to be out there.

"Come find me, I'm here." Please answer. Please tell me that it's possible.

Haruhi quickly opened her eyes.

Only the night sky greeted her, as silent and dark as ever. Not even a single star was glimmering to give her the hope that aliens, time travelers, or espers existed.

Was it possible to feel so alone in a world with enough inhabitants to make her feel like a drop in the bucket?

She closed her eyes again, before quickly getting to her feet. It was just too depressing. Far too depressing.

Tonight she would go home and fall asleep, and tomorrow morning she would again be another ordinary middle school student, out of thousands and thousands in Japan, going through an ordinary school day in an ordinary student's life.

Ordinary, huh.

That day, Haruhi left more than the unanswered message to the stars behind.

What's it like, to be so ordinary?

She had the rest of her life to find out.

--l--


I never expected to write for a new fandom so soon. And uhm, my writing is still all dark, so that won't change. Though I have a few more planned for SH, so who knows what'll happen.

Lyrics are from Vienna Teng's Daughter. I'd rather that some of the headers went with different pieces, but my mind stuck on the order of them, so eh. Thanks for reading, an especially huge thanks to Dex for being my faithful beta (who supplied…how many of the ending lines?), and comments are adored :D