DISCLAIMER: I don't own the Haruhi Suzumiya series, whether anime or novels or manga or whatever. I merely dabble for fun and no profit is being made from this fanwork. All rights belong to Naguru Tanigawa, Kadokawa, Kyoto Animation, and etc.


"Snow Mountain Illusion"

HARUHI'S VISIT

Ultimately, Haruhi thought she was a good person. She knew she could be pushy, if it could be called that. She knew her personal ethics had a tendency to shift around, moving whichever which way suited her best at any given time. But getting right down to the bottom of it all, she really thought she was a good person. She didn't go out of her way to cause trouble after all; rules and laws just tended to get in her way, making it much easier to ignore them rather than undertake the long process of rebelling and changing them. And she never hurt anyone - on purpose anyway.

On accident, however? Well, how could she avoid that?

In some ways, she guessed her behavior with Kyon was the best example. She never meant to make him worry or anxious (although she couldn't lie and she didn't enjoy it). It just happened a lot, a mere side effect of her attempts to liven up his life a little bit. One day, he would thank her for the dragging, the commanding, the trips, the strange activities. In fact, she was certain that Kyon did really enjoy them even now, right here in the present. He just acted like he didn't most of the time out of some strange sense of personal responsibility.

So yes, ultimately, she was good. Sometimes though, Haruhi had her doubts. Sometimes she wondered if she really was entitled to a moment of selfishness here and there (and sometimes collectively all in a bunch).

This also was probably best exemplified by Kyon, now that she thought about it.

Not yet ready for bed, Haruhi shifted with a sigh, perched on the silken window seat to watch the snow. She didn't often think about it, but sometimes she did wonder whether it was fair to drag Kyon into things like this. She didn't feel bad about it per se; she really did think most of the time that it was what was best for him. But there was the small little fact that initially, she hadn't been thinking of his best interests. That name was even now so often at the edge of her mind, threatening to escape through her lips whenever she saw Kyon.

John Smith. . .

He was the teenager who had given her hope as a young, bored middle-schooler, the one who gave her the courage not to give up. And he also looked so much like Kyon that she wasn't sure she would be able to tell the difference if the two were standing right next to each other. That is, until Kyon opened his mouth. That would and usually did dispel the illusion. The two couldn't be any more different in when it came to how they thought.But then again . . .

There were also the similarities that she just couldn't understand. They thought differently but the way they spoke was the same: that same medium-deep pitch, the same soft intelligence that wasn't planned out or elevated to near pretension but natural and fluid. They were both stubborn enough to argue, interested enough to not deny, and logical enough to have a valid reason for both. They didn't treat her like a freak, a lab rat, a controller, or some sort of god, but rather the way she deserved - like an equal. And then there was the vibe she got from the both of them, that aura of stability and calm and understanding that annoyed her as much as she needed it.

Smith obviously being a fake name, Haruhi had sometimes contemplated whether they were in fact the same person in the beginning. It was quickly squashed by reason: John Smith would either be a NEET or a college student by the time she was in North High, and even if he had stayed back for a multitude of weird reasons he wouldn't be a first year like her. However, it had been enough to get Kyon through the conversational door where greater men had tried and failed, and while she learned fairly quickly in his speech about ordinary people that the two were definitely not the same boy, the initial resemblance had earned him a permanent note of interest in her book.

And then, the dream. Being inside that odd world rekindled that thought about the Kyon/John Smith dilemma, as he acted more like John Smith than before. He had spoken honestly, no tricks or sarcasm for the most part. He talked about the world, their world, with a smile, saying he really did like it. He babbled on about her being important, and then -

She touched her lips absently.

But of course, this was all still purely hypothetical, and Haruhi didn't really believe it. She merely wondered, because, if it was a dream, what did that mean for her? That she liked Kyon? Or that she didn't like Kyon? That she liked John Smith? Or that she didn't like John Smith? That she wanted some undeterminable balance between the two? How was that fair?

Well, if it was the last, she would just have to make a choice. She was not going to be one of those girls who couldn't decide between guys in all those manga series. She always hated things like that. And really, the choice wasn't that hard. One she knew; one she really didn't, had only been idealized into someone real to her. One she maybe. . .well, liked, not that she'd admit it; one she . . . crushed on despite the nasty, fangirlish connotation that went with it.

But she didn't want a choice. She wanted both.

Frustrated, her hands went to her hair, pulling out the hairtie of the bun and allowing the dark waves to fall on her shoulders. She growled slightly, as she realized (even though she did really already know) that it was still too short to do much of anything with it. There were a few basic looks, but she wanted intricacies, hopelessly complicated movements and twists of the fingers, anything to take her mind off the question it asked her now because it wasn't like she could answer it anyway. If Kyon was ever John Smith, he certainly wasn't anymore, and if he never was . . . well, there was no use trying to find out how she felt about that.

Just as she settled on a small little ponytail to start the process, she heard the door behind her open and she turned her head, already spouting, "What in the world are you doing? You should at least knock!" when she saw who it was.

Kyon shut the door behind him before he replied in his usual way, "Thanks for the welcome, Haruhi."

"Kyon?" Haruhi said before she could stop herself. Displeased by the surprise in her voice, she put on an attitude as she huffed and continued. "Well, what do you want?"

He stepped closer, taking the opposite side of the window-seat and nearly sitting on her foot as he sat down."I couldn't sleep. I figured you couldn't either."

"And what if I was?"

"It hasn't been long enough. Actually, I was surprised you didn't try to set up another pillow fight or anything like that."

"I didn't feel like it," she said with a roughness she only slightly regretted. It may not have been directly his fault that she was so frustrated but he was a significant part of the whole problem. Too significant, she thought, and haughtily pulled the tie out again before he noticed the ponytail.

"Too bad. I was looking forward to it."

The scowl fell away from her face.

Wait.

What?

"You were?"

"Yeah. Aside from the blizzard, things have been pretty boring, don't you think?"

Was he being serious? He looked it; he was leaning against the windowpane as if they were having the most casual, normal conversation in the world. But it just didn't make sense; Kyon would never say something like that.

Unless it's not Kyon, she thought.

"I mean," he continued. "It wouldn't be the most interesting thing in the world. Not like aliens or something like that. But it would at least be a little fun."

But that's not possible. Is it?

"Since when do you like fun?"

"I always like fun!"

"Uh huh."

"I'm serious," he said, his grin making him look anything but that as he turned towards her. "I really do, Haruhi. Why else would I be here?"

He shifted closer, drawing out the last bit.

"Why would I have picked you?"

She could feel his breath hot on her nose as he leaned in far too close. His eyes were unreadable, tracing her over in a way that made her uncomfortable and yet oddly flattered. But picked? What did he mean by picked? He didn't pick her; he had just been some weird boy too addled by hormones not to try and talk to her. If anything, she had picked him.

Of course, there was someone who could say he had picked her. . .

In a whisper, she said as quickly as possible:

"John Smith?"

There was a flicker, and a split-second was all it took for a reply. A monosybillic grunt really.

"Hmm?"

And in that split second, Haruhi changed her mind. "Never mind. Don't get so close!"

She shifted, preparing to get up. She shouldn't have said anything; it couldn't be. Despite everything, she was ultimately all too aware of the world worked. John Smith was just a boy who had looked like Kyon three years ago and Kyon was just being weird. Everyone was entitled to a little variation now and again, right?

This logic served her well, until she rose and he grabbed her wrist, pulling her down and around till his lips met hers, and it all went careening out the window.


Haruhi blinked, a dozen sides of her mind battling for her next move. The Brigade chief wanted to smack him for such a forceful display. The spitfire wanted to take it a step further, to crush this pathetically normal display before it got out of hand. The thinker preferred a more passive means, desperately needing to know who this was right now, finding it far too interesting that he had only kissed her after her remark.

The girl paid none of them any mind, saying instead gently, You know you want to. And she did, Haruhi realized as her eyes half-closed lazily. Her heart was a drum, a frenetic wild beat against her chest that she had never experienced before, as he kissed her with what almost felt like hunger, so different from that time in that strange dream. Everywhere he touched with his free hand (his left hand was still tightly gripping her wrist, as if he was worried she'd disappear when he loosened it) left her skin in flames. Yes, she wanted it and she could feel he did too. It wasn't just a casual thought or an odd glance or a handhold; he was kissing her with all the intensity of the kisses they had missed, the moments where they had stood too close or spoke too privately, as if he was afraid he'd never get another chance.

Unless it's not Kyon, she thought. Then it's just some guy I barely know trying to jam his tongue into my mouth.

Eyes wide open, Haruhi pulled back and popped him in the mouth with her fist.

"Ow! What the hell was that -"

"How dare you do something like that without my permission!" she yelled, cutting him off. "I know who you are!"

"Why wouldn't you?"

That was not the response she expected.

"Wait, what?"

His eyes flickered up to meet hers, then turned away before she could catch whatever emotion was lurking there. He sighed, and suddenly he seemed just like the Kyon she was used to seeing, not even the slightest trace of anyone else, and she was surprised how relieved she felt.

"Whatever. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that. For some reason, I just thought you'd enjoy it. Good night, I guess."

And with that, he ran off before she could stop him, slamming the door with such strength the sound made her jump, although she soon quickly started running through her thoughts again.

What just happened?

Do I go after him?

If it's Kyon, I should, at least to explain.

He doesn't deserve an explanation! He shouldn't be acting so perverted!

But if it's John . . . no way! How dare he think he can just waltz right in without a single word to me in three years and do. . . well, THAT!

Taking her chances, Haruhi turned and burst open the door, making that same ridiculously loud noise. . .

And found the reason for it in the simultaneously opening of every door by her Brigade members.


Returning home, Haruhi couldn't help but think she handled herself rather well. She didn't push Kyon on the issue the entire time, although they had been a bit busy with Yuki's sudden illness. Even now, she had kept her silence. She felt pretty content that her somewhat selective description on the events would have provoked a response if it had been him, and in hindsight, she didn't really think it was. The body was Kyon, but the words were all wrong. Kyon wasn't a liar or anything like that, but unnecessary particulars he kept to himself. He was just uncomfortable with that sort of thing, and it wasn't like he needed to tell her things for her to know how he felt.

He might not always know how he felt, but she had a pretty good grip on the whole thing. How he could be that thickheaded about himself, she'd never know.

Idiot, she called herself immediately after this thought. She hadn't known either and it wasn't fair to pretend otherwise, even if just to herself. It was funny, really. All that time worrying about it and dreaming, yet the second that guy, whoever he was, kissed her, it all seemed to fall into place. All of a sudden, John Smith was who she'd always rationally knew he was but just couldn't accept: a complete stranger, if one who helped her in a really sad time for her, anddefinitely not the one she wanted to have her real first kiss with.

Not to say that person was Kyon. Not at all.

Maybe she just hadn't wanted to let go. He had shaped so much of the past three years around him and his mystery; it would feel - still felt - like admitting the desire was gone was making it all seem a waste, making it as if he never mattered at all. She could be stubborn that way, she knew that.

But if it wasn't for him, I'd never would have met Kyon.

And of course, her thoughts went back to him. Maybe the real reason she wanted to still like John Smith was entirely different. Maybe it hadn't been about letting go, but refusing to know.

Maybe as long as she liked John Smith, she could say that maybe, just maybe, she didn't really like -

Fat chance!

"You're quiet," Kyon muttered quietly.

"Hmm?" She turned to Kyon, the real Kyon, absently noticing that while he had plenty of space to move over he was rather close to her.

"And your cheeks are red. Don't tell me you're that cold?"


Two down, and two more to go if Audley ever does them. Let's hope she does! I think ultimately, this turned out to be what I wanted it to be. Maybe if I ever can nail the tiny little things that are bugging me about it, I'll re-do it, but for now I am content.

Speaking of Audley, once again, I thank her. However, she only gave me a slight read over to tell me if all the cogs were coming together right. Yes, Audley is at school, so you won't see her lovely betaing hand around for a while. However, my friend misstee (not real name) has graciously stepped in, DESPITE not really caring for this series. So, thank you, and give her a big old round of applause, guys.

Until we meet again.