Summary: She's only wanted to be different from everyone else, but he keeps on bringing her back down. One of these days, this has to end. Written for 31 days, August 26, 2007: Someone's world destroys itself for love.

Painting The Sky

Haruhi is not stupid.

Looking at her grades and talents, no one would think that. Considering her personality, no one would dare say that.

Knowing herself, though, Haruhi can believe that she is. She's stupid, she thinks, for entertaining the thought that she can be unique, that she can live her life like no other person in the world can. That she can avoid the same pitfalls that other people always encounter.

What a joke.

She's human after all.

(too human.)

--l--

"For color, Monday is yellow, Tuesday is red, Wednesday is blue, Thursday is green, Friday is gold, Saturday is brown, and Sunday is white."

"Then that means that if we use numbers to represent the days, Monday is zero and Sunday is six, right?"

Huh, so he's figured it out. "That's correct."

"But shouldn't Monday be one?"

She frowns at him. "Who asked for your opinion?"

"…Yeah, right."

He gives her another cursory glance before looking off to the side, and she frowns again. He seems a little familiar, somehow, which is weird. Sure, most of her classmates seemed to be homogenous, but none of them had figured out her hair system before. And…

"Have I seen you somewhere before?"

He looks up. "Don't think so."

Just another boring classmate.

But she glares off into the distance as the teacher starts droning, thinking about cherry blossoms and white chalk, and fingers her hair.

It's too long. It's been too long for a while. She should get it cut.

Of course.

When he asks why the next day, she replies, "No reason."

--l--

Haruhi's not interested in normal humans because they're boring. Simply because their lives are boring. They can get so self-absorbed and blow inconsequential, miniscule events up into disproportional explosions of drama and never realize that almost every other person in the room is living the exact same kind of life that they are, and it's all so pointless.

It will truly be a letdown if even the aliens and time travelers and espers aren't interesting.

But at the very least, they'd be unique. And she wants unique. She wants special. She wants exciting.

(She wants life.)

(She wants to live.)

--l--

"Late! Pay the fine!"

He concedes to it, though she can hear his mumbled protests. But late is late, and as a SOS Brigade member, he should understand that and remember the consequences.

They draw straws to determine groups, and he ends up with Mikuru.

He concedes to that, too, if the foolish look on his face is anything to go by.

"It's not a date, Kyon! Remember that!"

And she slams her empty cup on the table, eyes burning.

--l--

To be unique, one can't be like the rest. That's what unique means. One of a kind.

It means that she can't succumb to what those around her do. Sure, she's admitted to Kyon that she still feels like what other girls her age feel at times, gets those same urges that they do once in a while. Unique is unique, but she's still human.

It only makes her more determined.

(to be what they are not)

--l--

She gets angry when she doesn't end up in a group with Kyon that day in town, in the morning. Or the afternoon. And there's no one to direct her frustration towards, because it was complete chance, and even if Kyon messes everything up he couldn't have messed that up. Or maybe he could have. How would she know?

Maybe she didn't even want to end up in his group anyway. Who'd want to be in a group with Kyon?

Yes, it was definitely all his fault. All of it.

(Oh, she knows what this means.)

--l--

"Love is a sickness," she had said. And she had tried, tried to experience what the others in her class seemed to enjoy so much. Maybe there was something to the whole relationship thing that she just hadn't seen yet, something 'special' and 'impossible to put into words'. Even 'unique', though that might've been hoping for too much.

A movie on Sunday. A phone call on Monday. A walk home on Tuesday, a confession on Wednesday – by phone, no less! – and greetings on the other days.

Routine, routine, routine.

After going through all the guys who'd bothered to even ask, no, she couldn't believe that it was worth it. And they were all so boring that it made her want to write off humans forever as the most mundane creatures in the universe. Why couldn't one of them have been an alien? A time traveler? An esper? A slider? She wouldn't have minded that at all. It would have made them interesting, one of a kind. Unique.

Not boring.

Simply something else.

--l--

She walks into the clubroom, and Mikuru's already in her maid outfit. Kyon sits up straight in his usual spot while nursing a cup of tea, and Haruhi doesn't miss how his eyes flicker from the cup to the girl who served it with that stupid expression on his face and all.

She walks into the clubroom; just like that, he drops the look and leans back in his seat, and it's as though something shutters behind his eyes. Face straight, look ahead, eyebrows lowered, retort ready.

(fight or flight, and he's prepared)

Not today.

Rushing past him without so much as a glance backwards, she grabs the teacup that Mikuru sets on the table and downs it in one gulp.

It's a waste of time to spend so much of it on one single drink.

--l--

Naturally, after her declaration of not wanting to catch the illness, the world's course of action was to have her fall for someone. And of all people, Kyon.

She isn't stupid. When the warning signs came, she figured it out.

But it didn't change how stupid she felt. Annoyed, aggravated, surprised, stupid.

Vulnerable.

(the contagion of the disease is at her door, but the question is: to answer or ignore?)

--l--

There's a period of time where Kyon starts to look at Yuki more often than not, sometimes simply watching her, as though he was…waiting for a reaction? Looking for signs? Watching out for her? Completely infatuated with her?

Yeah, maybe not, but still.

Kyon always watches Mikuru the most, anyway.

She manages to confront him about Yuki during the winter vacation, and when he says it's because he's been worried about her due to "family issues that could force her to move away", Haruhi feels a wave of relief. For which, she isn't sure.

But she can never bring herself to ask about Mikuru, because there's nothing that she doesn't know; he worships her tea and gazes at her ridiculously and simply treats her far, far differently than the others. She needs no confirmation because there's nothing that she doesn't know.

(she knows so much more than he thinks she does)

All the same, though, she still can't ask. Because asking cements things in yes and no and while she knows, she doesn't necessarily know, and what you don't know can't hurt you more often than not.

(this has to change. something has to change.

but it won't be her. it won't.)

She watches him watching her or maybe her but never her, and wonders what it will take for him to give her the same kind of attention as the other two. To worry for her, to care for her. This is why she goes up and simply takes, or grabs, or orders. He won't reject her then, and that is better than nothing.

What she has to take the others simply receive, and maybe that's where the problem started in the first place.

--l--

No.

The problem started with Kyon.

Always, always Kyon.

Always.

--l--

Ever since it happened, she's wanted to know: what the hell was that dream? Freud would have a field day with it. That's how obvious the meaning is.

(but it felt so real)

She also wants to know, why did she tie her hair up into a ponytail the morning after? It'd been too short for one in the first place and more hassle than it was worth.

(but he said it suited her best)

However, the thing that she wants to know the most: why can't she figure things out any more? Why is everything such a puzzle, if things are still so boring and the same?

(why are the answers always so clichéd?)

--l--

Haruhi knows that Kyon will never, ever see her as anything but what he disapproves of. His every frown another push, his every remark another shove.

(His every interaction with Mikuru, another weight on her chest)

He will never care for her the way that she doesn't want to acknowledge wanting, and it's starting to drive her insane. This is why she doesn't want to be like the others. This is why she wants something more.

This is why she always wants what she can't have.

The problem is: she can't change what she wants, and she can't change the world.

Something has to give.

(because something's bending to break, it's only a matter of when)

--l--

Just when that dream's started to give her a sense of ease for the strangest of reasons, she walks into the clubroom and Mikuru and Kyon are together again.

"What are you two doing?"

They spring apart.

(this is nothing at all)

She grinned, and held up a bag. "Mikuru-chan! You're tired of maid costumes, right? Come, time to change!"

Haruhi forces the other girl into the nurse's uniform with great gusto, and doesn't think about how the door closes behind them (or the who).

--l--

There are other events.

They're making the movie and she smacks Mikuru on the head in an effort to get her to let the contact lens fly out – Idiot, what are you doing? – Don't interfere, I planned this! – Nobody did, this isn't funny, Asahina isn't your toy – Well, I've decided that she is! – and then suddenly Kyon's between them, and his fist is leveled at her and he's seeing red.

And she knows but doesn't understand.

She stays with him after school to finish the movie and promptly falls asleep, then gets angry at him when he hasn't finished editing it.

Kyon tells her to consider the feelings of the baseball team, Koizumi reminds her that great leaders need to know mercy, and for them she tries so hard.

A year goes by. Summer trips, winter trips, and odd occurrences blend together in memory. There are never any aliens, time travelers, or espers, but she doesn't mind so much. As though she's changed.

Kyon is still the same, however, and this she minds a little more.

--l--

The day the brigade meets before the start of their second year of high school, Kyon arrives late and is accompanied by a girl, Sasaki, who introduces herself as a close friend before giving a brilliant smile.

This girl hadn't seen him for three years and only knew him for one, yet she could still say such a thing.

(but while Haruhi's known him longer, better, she still can't say a thing.)

She smiles brightly that day and leads the brigade through the streets, but inside she keeps wishing; inside, she contains the storm.

--l--

Haruhi doesn't believe that anything's impossible. You just have to try hard enough to make it happen, for anything you want.

This is the first time where trying is counterproductive.

Maybe it's that you can't apply logic to people, to emotions. To this sickness.

(maybe it's that this isn't meant to be.)

--l--

I wish that things weren't like this, she thinks as she falls face-forward onto her pillow, and imagines a world where she'd never made the mistake. Never succumbed to the disease.

Wishes never won wars.

But when it comes down to fight or flight, this time she has no weapons at hand, no shields to bear. Only something to fight for that she's not even sure she wants now.

(look how much trouble he's caused her already, look how much)

This is why she calls it a disease. This is why she doesn't want to be like the rest. This is why she takes refuge in trying to be unique, in painting grass white and brushing skies green.

He can make her happy with a single word, bring her down with a single swing; he can force her to smile when she wants to bolt and mutter when she wants to shout. He can bring her down and make her feel too human and she doesn't want to feel this any more, never ever no.

She wants to go back to her aliens, her time travelers, her espers, her sliders. She wants to go back to being extraordinary and unique.

She wants to go back.

Tomorrow, I wish that everything would change.

--l--

Haruhi will never know that she always gets what she wants, in the end.

--l--


So I saw the theme and went "AHA, this is SH". And uh, yeah, I just had to write it. Despite having no time and how I really shouldn't be doing anything but schoolwork right now and urgh. And I feel like I'm losing my touch…my style's dimming, and things don't resonate as much as they used to. Oh well.

Thanks to Dex (Aliora) for the quick beta, and comments are awesome like whoa.

Now I realllllly need to do my homework. Ahaha. Sigh.