I think that, after such a long hiatus, I owe an apology to those who have been wondering whether or not I will continue my stories. Five months is a long time, and I know that many Naruto fans wish to see another chapter of Product Shinobi. Worry not, I have not killed the story. I plan to return to writing chapters for it. However, college has taken its toll on me and I have less time to myself for writing. I do much of my chapters in long periods of time, usually several hours. Since I have to be in and out to attend classes every several hours, I have not really had much time to sit down and write. Once again, I'm sorry, but I will do my best to try to bring you more chapters.
Now onto the story. I do not know why, but I really cannot put this series down. Probably my favorite series, the characters scream with depth and complexity, allowing me to write their parts much easier. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Once again, I thank SolAtrus for beta-ing the story.
Note: Upon editing online, there were some strange capitalization issues going on. While I believe I caught them all, a few may have slipped my grasp. Please do your best to ignore them.
I do not own Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu.
When Suzumiya Haruhi stares, I can really feel it. There is a strange, almost uneasy feeling that comes with her piercing brown eyes that not even a teacher can deliver into a student that has failed one too many tests. It is not discontent, as I am unsure whether or not she is disappointed in me at the moment. It is not one of praise, as she very rarely, if at all, praises me.
It is one which creates an unusual apprehensiveness, an anxiety where I know it will not threaten my livelihood or my future, yet still causes me unnecessary worry. The hairs on my head will go white before high school is over.
It's lunch time and I'm sitting at my seat, doing my best to calmly eat the lunch that I brought from home. By now I would have finished, but with that incessant staring, I can only say that I have eaten very little. With the majority of lunchtime passed, I wonder why she's staring at me. The best method is to ask.
But at the same time, asking someone, especially Haruhi, is something that I really don't like doing. More often than not, I hear something that is often worse than the idea of not knowing what is coming.
Even now, however, I find myself unable to not ask.
"You're staring at me, aren't you?" I decided not to ask why yet.
"..." there was a shuffling sound from her seat. "No."
Now that I know her more than when I first met her, I can say that Suzumiya Haruhi rarely lies, especially to me. She may misinterpret and create a lie out of that, but to make a stand-alone lie is something else. Turning around in my seat, I look over to see that shifted her gaze away from me and is instead looking at the classroom. Her head is on her desk, her hands forming a little mini-blockade in front of her.
As I have said, this is currently lunch time. There aren't that many students around, as many are either outside or at the cafeteria eating. And normally, Haruhi also would be at the cafeteria enjoying a lunch of sorts. The fact that she is not there warrants questioning, despite how much I dislike doing it. It is my job to keep this planet from disappearing in Haruhi's wrath, despite how it may seem otherwise.
"How come you're not at the cafeteria?"
Her form retracts a little. "I forgot my lunch money."
"Oh," a reason so simple can only attract such a simple response.
"..." she raises her posture to look at me. Again with those creepy stares...
"Well, aren't you going to share your lunch with me?" Her impatient response leaves my mouth hanging a little, as do many of her other responses.
But share my lunch with her? She's asking quite a thing from me. I turn away from her. "Normally, you don't ask someone to share his or her lunch with you."
"But you're a boy!" I am a man! "You're supposed to offer or at least share your meal with a girl in distress!"
She does bring up a valid point. Normally, any male would, when the girl is someone who he hopes to have any sort of favor with, would offer a meal to her in such times of distress. In a way, women hold a Dangerous grasp over men, able to twist and turn them to their desires, despite how life may seem otherwise.
But I think I can say that I have found some favor with Haruhi, to the point that I don't have to offer her a meal, or at least not just yet. Besides, she has me pay for almost everything else.
Now that I know that the problem is minuscule at most, I can slowly feel my appetite returning to me. I reach into my lunch to pull out a piece of shrimp. But as I bring it to my mouth, I suddenly stop.
A very dangerous idea crosses my mind.
I put the piece of shrimp down, back into its dish. Turning around in my seat, I take my lunch and put it onto her desk. Her face brightens and a smile creeps up onto it. Then, using my chopsticks, I pick up a piece of food and just hold it there, uplifted from the tray, and right in the middle of us.
Her smile falters a little and her mouth slowly forms a small O. She has no clue as to what I am going to do. She is, however, thinking about whether I am going to feed her, or she has to come to the piece of food herself. A faint tinge of red has sprouted on her cheeks. Ah, yes, one of the few moments where I gain a bit of leverage over Haruhi. A god of our world must still stay within our world's boundaries of law and common sense.
She speaks first. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
She has no idea how much pleasure this brings to me. "Are you kidding? I have to give up my lunch for you now. Tell me how that should make me happy." I hold a straight face, but I'm pretty sure that I might have let a smile or two slip out.
But now we begin part two. Right as she begins to lean in to take a bite, I quickly put the food into my mouth and start chewing. All color drains from her face, leaving a paleness that almost matches plaster. There is a look of horror on her before it is quickly replaced by anger.
"W-What do you think you're doing?" she hisses. Even she does not wish to create a scene in this situation, lest everyone see her eating out of my hand. "If you're going to offer me a meal, then offer it. Don't tease me!"
"Teasing? I'm not doing that. I'm just eating my share," I say. I pick up another vegetable and start eating that as well, causing Haruhi to elicit another contained scream. "Besides, wasn't it you who forgot your lunch money? It is not written in the laws of anything that a boy must share his food with a girl. It is to be done at his own discretion."
"But aren't boys supposed to be nice to girls? What happened to being raised as a gentleman?"
"Sorry to burst your bubble, Haruhi, but boys are only nice to the girls they like." Oh, how I so love doing this. I can see the effects of my low blow immediately. Her demeanor has dropped and she now sports a frown that is somewhere of a facial expression between sadness and tears. She sinks back into her seat and her head is lying on the desk, buried beneath her arms.
Taking the last vegetable, I finish eating my share. "Hey, Haruhi."
"What do you want now?" she doesn't even look up at me. "Are you here to tell me that I'm fat as well?"
As much fun as it is to poke fun at Haruhi, I know that you can only anger a god so much before facing its wrath. Besides, I had the best of intentions in mind anyway. I just wanted to have some fun while I was at it. I'm giving up more a little more than just half my lunch anyway.
"Take a look for yourself," I say to her. Using my chopsticks, I pick up that piece of shrimp from earlier before and now Dangle it in front of her, almost coaxing her to eat it. As she looks up, she sees the food, but quickly turns away. Like anyone who has been hurt, trusting someone is not easy.
"This better not be a trick again."
"In a magic show, no magician does the same trick twice." I know that Haruhi is intrigued by magic, as she has always been one in search for the supernatural. The word magic is magical, no pun intended, in its abilities to garner her attention. "I'm no magician, but even I know that repeating things simply makes it boring."
"So you were enjoying yourself back there," she says with a frown.
"Of course not. I'm giving up half my lunch here. Now open up."
She bites her lips, blushes a little, and then finally opens her mouth and accepts the morsel. Then in a swift motion she grabs the chopsticks out of my hand and pulls the lunch tin closer to herself. "I'm going to have to punish you for this. Teasing the brigade leader is a felony!"
Ah yes, more punishment. Haruhi certainly likes to give these out, specifically towards me, may I add. "Well then, what is my punishment?"
She begins to eat. "I'm not sure yet," she says between bites. "I'll tell you at a later time."
I'm sure that Haruhi won't notice this, as she fails to notice all the subtle things and searches only for grandeur. I decided to leave her all the good things, just to add a nice touch of care, if only to reduce her wrath. If I'm lucky, maybe she'll just skip over the whole punishment thing. But judging from experience, luck is rarely on my side.
She stops chewing for a moment. "You know, this is actually very good," she says. "Do you make your own lunch?"
It's been several weeks since that whole lunchtime affair. Haruhi has yet to assign a punishment for my most grievous deeds against her. For once, luck is on my side, it would seem. All this time, she has yet to even mention the word punishment to me. It's like a reprieve that feels more than deserved in the scheme of all things.
But at the same time, it is only a reprieve. I have begun to wonder just when this lucky break of mine will end. What that mind of hers holds is always uncertain, but I can be certain that I never come out unscathed. She leaves her mark on me with everything she does, or at least upon my wallet.
I am the slave of Suzumiya Haruhi. Or so I conclude. I must bend to that will of hers, whether I like it or not. Stepping out of bounds is an apocalypse just waiting to happen. And sadly, that is quite literally true.
Today's classes are over, but like every good SOS Dan member, I head to the literature club room. I quickly grab the handle of the door, twist, and open it, looking forward to the sweet little maid's tea. Asahina's tea is such a delight, that missing it by showing up late ought to be a crime punishable by-
Haruhi? "What's going on?" I ask. "Where's everyone else?" Where is Asahina's tea that I long so much for? Haruhi is sitting on top of the table, her legs dangling off of the edge, and she's smiling at me.
"I excused the others."
"What for? Was there something that I wasn't informed of?" I let go of the handle and enter the room.
"Well, you may choose to view today as special." She gets off of the table and starts pacing around me. "You see, today is the day that we finally address the issue that is your punishment."
I see that luck has finally decided to retract its blessings.
"It took a long time for me to finally decide on just what this punishment would be." Perhaps luck was never with me at all. "First, you, a mere underling within the SOS Dan's hierarchy, most gravely insulted me by not only dangling food in front of me, but also calling me unattractive." That is a lie; I never stated that you were unattractive. "But at the same time, you hinted that, quote, 'Boys are only nice to the girls they like.' Shortly afterwards, you offer me your lunch."
She stops pacing and turns to face me. "I know that it was not a guilty conscience that lead you to share your food with me." As if you have one. "People who act due to a guilty conscience do not act as you did that day." There is a resounding slam and I finally realize why she was circling around me earlier. She has stopped herself right between me and the now shut door, trapping me within the walls of the clubroom.
"There is more than what meets the eye, and I intend to know just what it is." She's like a tiger that is just inches away from landing that final blow. There is no escape, and I doubt that there is a way to outwit her.
"Will my answer reflect what my punishment will be?"
And so, the great stand-off begins. Haruhi will not stop until she receives an answer, and I will not give one because I'm afraid of the repercussions. With neither party wishing to give in, only some sort of divine intervention would solve this problem.
But even that won't help me, as Haruhi is the god of our world. Is there no way that either of us, or more importantly I, can get away unscathed? I rack my brain for answers, little white lies that would not harm either of us. But each one seems worse than the last one, and time-
"Are you going to answer me or not?"
is running out. I need to try a stall tactic.
"Well, what if I told you that I was only wanted to make fun of you for a little bit? I did give you my lunch in the end, right?"
"Yes, you did share your lunch with me in the end. But," she raises a finger in the air, "perhaps I should refresh your memory of just what was in that meal?"
"When I first took a look at your lunch box, the first thing I realized was that the majority of what you gave me was rice and various meats. There were very little vegetables in there. And while by itself it may not seem like very much, meat is more costly and favored by people. For you to leave these for me has brought me down to two interpretations. The first would be that, by chance, you just ended up leaving those for me. The second, more probable reason is that you purposely left it for me."
I gulp. I think.
"For now, I have to figure out which of the two interpretations is correct." She puts her hands onto her hips. "...But I think I already have my answer."
Excuse me? What about my side? What kind of unjust ruling is this? "I didn't even say anything yet! How can you pass judgment on me so quickly?"
"You didn't have to say anything," she says, turning around and reaching for the door handle. For a moment, I catch a glimpse of something, right before she turns. "Your body language gave it away." She begins to open the door. With her back still turned, she speaks one final time, her tone indiscernible. "Your punishment is that you have to make me dinner this Saturday. My parents are out of town, so don't worry about them. Just bring the ingredients and utensils you need. Everything else should be taken care of. You are dismissed for today." She exits and the door closes.
So, dinner, huh?
The bad news is that it's already Friday. I quickly leave the classroom and inspect my wallet. It would appear that I must once again part with my money. I should tell her that I can't keep affording to pay for everything.
There was a slight complication within our... dinner plans. While it was originally going to be held at her house, her mother caught a fever and ended up staying at home. Her father naturally stayed as well to take care of her. Instead, my parents were suddenly out of town and my sister was at a sleep over at her friend's house.
So, given the circumstances, dinner is now at my house. Haruhi managed to escape from her house under the pretense that she was going to a study session. Indeed, she has brought her books with her and is currently studying at the living room desk. As for me, I'm in the kitchen, making dinner.
The rice is being taken care of; it's cooking in the rice cooker that is conveniently placed next to the dinner table. On the stove is a small pot of chicken curry with vegetables to go over the rice. In a slightly larger pot is miso soup to go with the meal.
It's nothing grand, really. I don't know why she wants me to cook for her. I have little, if any, culinary ability. At best, I can boil water, use a microwave, and prepare rice via rice cooker. If she's expecting a first class meal, then she's going to be disappointed. Both the soup and the curry are from a package. The chicken is simply a chicken breast cut up into chunks, cooked in a pan, and then transferred into the curry to simmer. The vegetables inside are just carrots and some other leafy greens, nothing too fancy. It's the same story with the soup too; although it's packaged, I added some vegetables into it as well.
In all honesty though, if I had a choice, I wouldn't be making her this. If I had a little more time, then I would have at least tried to plan out the meal. We would have some small things, the main course, and then maybe some sort of dessert.
Well, there is dessert, but it's really just ice cream from some time ago. I checked earlier and it's still fresh. If she really wants some, then I'll make her a bowl or something.
"So is dinner done yet?"
I almost jump. I must have gotten lost when I was watching the small swirling vortex that the ladle made in the middle of the soup. "Almost, just have to do a taste test." That was a lie. No matter how official it may sound, I know that any sort of 'taste test' I administer will not determine anything.
"Well then, what are we waiting for?" she takes the ladle from my hand and dips a tiny bit of it into the soup. Raising it to her mouth she blows on it just a little to cool it down before taking a sip.
"Hmm..." her voice trails off a little bit. "It needs some sort of kick to it." She returns the ladle to me and then starts opening and closing cupboards. I walk up behind her just to make sure that she isn't doing anything too dangerous. "Hmm..." she scans high and low, and I can't help but get the feeling that she's looking for-
"Aha! So you do have ketchup!"
No! "Haruhi, this soup is a traditional staple of Japanese diets. You are not going to ruin it with ketchup," I tell her in a stern voice.
"But it's so boring that way!" she pouts a little. "Everyone eats it 'traditionally', and frankly I'm tired of it." She makes her way to the pot, open ketchup bottle in hand. I reach forward and grab her ketchup hand. I relieve her of it, close the cap, and put it on a higher spot on the shelf.
"I don't care if it's boring." A daring gamble crosses my mind. "You said you wanted me to cook you dinner, right?"
"Yes, what does that have to do with anything?"
"Well, then why are you in the kitchen? I thought I was supposed to make the meal, not you."
"..." she's silent and does her best to come up with a counter argument.
"Isn't this supposed to be a punishment of sorts for me?" I say, returning to the stove. I turn off the heat and begin to set up the table for dinner. "Besides, I've already finished cooking."
She sighs. "I guess you're right," she kneels down by the table. Once the fire is turned out, I move what I can onto the table and begin to serve. A scoop of rice, some curry on top of that, and then traditional miso soup. I begin to sit down when I hear an outburst from Haruhi.
"Hey!" she sounds amused, "This is what you had for lunch that day. Quite a coincidence, no?"
Let's keep it that way. "When I went to the store yesterday, they were out of..." wait a minute, "everything else that I can normally make. All this stuff is actually from packets, save the meat and vegetables."
Did Haruhi want me to serve her this food? But her desires do not affect me though. So that means that she must have wanted the market to only have these items when I visited. I don't know why she wants to taste my cooking though. Is she looking for something?
"Really? I thought had a feeling that you prepared this yourself. This just proves that fact." She picks up a spoonful of rice and puts it into her mouth, chewing slowly. "Yup," she mutters through her lips. She chews a little more before swallowing, "you definitely know how to at least prepare food."
The rest of the meal is lost in the usual talk. Of course, it's more of Haruhi talking and me nodding along, offering a comment or two whenever the situation needed one and soon, the meal was done. Thankfully, however, Haruhi decides that she will help me with the dishes. While we wash, dry, and put away dishes, we remain quiet. The talkativeness of the meal is now gone, replaced with only the necessary words needed to do the dishes.
When we finish, Haruhi decides that it's time for her to go. Packing up her things, she's now at the front door. I open it up and, like a gentlemen, hold it open for her. She smiles.
"Thanks for the meal."
"You're welcome," I reply.
And then she leans in.
Backing away from our brief contact, I can see the blush on her skin. However, she does not appear to be bashful over her actions. I can feel the heat reaching my cheeks and I can't help but wonder.
"Why did you do that?"
"To commemorate the evening, but more importantly," she leans in and whispers to my ear...
And just as quick as she leaned in, she is now out the door. She turns to speak to me, pointing an accusing finger at me. "And don't even think about playing around." The thought never crossed my mind. "I'll be watching you closely now."
I call out to her. "What made you choose me?"
"Because at the very least, you can cook. That's more than at least half of the male population at our school."
... I will take that as one of the rare compliments that Haruhi ever gives out.
Well, there you have it. I started this story sometime before or during this past winter break, so at least I can still get some things done within a time frame. Let's hope it holds up.