Suzumiya Haruhi had no fear.

Now, if taken as an absolute, then clearly it cannot be true, as, no matter what any time travelers, aliens, or espers say, Suzumiya Haruhi is human and humans are always suspect to fear. However, in terms of showing fear, she shows it very little, powered on by her boundless, infinite (and some would call it insane) confidence- when she fears, she simply buries it with said confidence.

Today, at this precise moment, however, no amount of infinite confidence could keep the fear hidden.

It was slow, horrifyingly so, with every moment burned deep within her brain, to be replayed over and over in cold, dark nights when she would wake up mumbling his name feverishly.

He fell.

As if gravity itself cruelly yanked him down at such a happy time, just as she was laughing and smiling, he fell. His jacket flicked in the air resistance, arms flailing just as helplessly as she felt, legs prolonged in their giving way.

For an instant, Haruhi thought she had met his eyes, seen the sheer terror in them, and maybe, just maybe, a pleading look for help.

And, if she could have (consciously), Haruhi would have done anything and everything in that moment to prevent what was to come.

Yet she could do naught but watch, utterly frozen, as Kyon took that deadly tumble down the stairs, to crash sickeningly, head first, against the unyielding metal.

It was only when her voice started hurting that Haruhi realized she was screaming.


The rest was a blur, though apparently she shouted and bullied an unfortunate paramedic until she was allowed to be in the ambulance. Koizumi said he made excuses for her afterwards, though exactly what those excuses were, Haruhi didn't know and didn't really want to.

Because if Koizumi made up some lame story about her being Kyon's girlfriend or anything like that, his Vice-Commander status would be busted down faster than you could blink. And trying to replace him would just be a nightmare.

She doesn't like Kyon like this, she decides, sitting by his bedside ("A brigade commander must never abandon her subordinates in a time of need!"), staring intently at his face. There are bandages wrapped tightly around his skull, and she can't see the lines of blood that had been seeping out during the fall.

He's quiet, and that disturbs her, because Kyon always has something to say, even if he doesn't say it, the words are there on his face. His eyes don't glimmer with annoyance or defiance, don't have that look that echoes her own yearning for something extraordinary.

As he is now, he could be sleeping.

The door slides open, but Haruhi doesn't bother looking up. Whoever it is, they're not nearly as important as Kyon is.

He is, in effect, the most important person in the Brigade. Mikuru is the mascot, Koizumi her second, Nagato the mysterious one, but Kyon... he's everything else. The devil's advocate, the dissenter, the only one who's truly equal to her despite being the lowest ranked of the brigade.

And, in the darkest corners of her heart, she admits he is also the only one she could ever truly be open with.

"The doctors say he's stable." The voice is male and smooth, but there is a tone of worry in the voice that is unmistakable.

"That's good," Haruhi says quietly, so much so that Kyon would be incredibly surprised by it. Her hands are folded tightly in her lap, though on occasion they fiddle with the hem of the skirt, wringing it nervously. "It's good that your relative is important in this hospital. Thank you, Koizumi-kun."

"Ah, ah, it's nothing," Koizumi waves the gratitude off, voice still smooth, obviously attempting to be comforting as a source of stability. Haruhi supposes she should be grateful, but watching Kyon lifeless save for slow breathing, she can't bring herself to feel.

He takes the seat across from her, with Kyon laying between them, and for a moment, all they do is study his face.

"He looks as though he is merely asleep," Koizumi murmurs, his ever present smile dim and darkened. "It is a nice thought."

Haruhi says nothing.


She looks up, finally removing her gaze from either Kyon's face or her lap. Koizumi is leaning in, eyes unreadable.

"Do you feel responsible for him?" there is an odd note in his tone, something that is untraceable, unknowable, accompanied by the strange look on his face.

"He's a brigade member." Not just a brigade member, but the founding one besides her, the one she counts on to be an equal, a friend.

And maybe something more.

"Forgive me for being so forward, but..." Koizumi gives her a piercing look, something beyond the genial smiles he consistently wears. "Is that all?"

In another situation, she might have sputtered and spat at such a question, but at the moment all she managed was a sudden intake of breath and slight flinch.

Koizumi looks as though he wants to add more for a moment, but he holds back, staring at her with a hooded look. It is perhaps the first time she's ever seen him serious.

"He's been there since the beginning," Haruhi finds herself saying, staring down into the blue hem of her skirt as though it was the most interesting thing in the world. If there is heat in her cheeks, clearly the hospital's heaters are working too hard. "He's supposed to be there, with m-us."

Koizumi obviously catches the misstep in her voice, but, to her relief, chooses to ignore it. He merely smiles genially, and almost hums as he says, "Ah..."

They sit in silence again, save for the steady in, out, in, out of Kyon's breathing.

Finally, Koizumi stands up, startling her out of her reverie, and before she can question him, he is already heading to the door.

"Where are you-"

"He's very lucky to have such concern." Koizumi's back is to her, and for some reason, she feels like he is deliberately keeping his voice even and his face hidden from her sight. "I know that everyone, myself included, wished with all our hearts for him to wake up."

"Koizumi-kun..." Haruhi furrows her brow, gazing at his back as though it could reveal the mystery behind his behavior to her.

At his name, Koizumi straightened, almost stiffly, before turning his head to look at her, that placid smile on his face. "Watch over him, okay?" his smile quirked up a little higher. "I'll arrange it so you can watch over him until he wakes up, so you can stay by his side."

"Ah... um... thank you," Haruhi manages softly, feeling oddly embarrassed but able to hide it valiantly.

"You know, I hear that talking to someone in a coma can help," Koizumi continued gently, smile less cordial and more understanding now. "And even holding their hand could comfort them, however unconsciously."

Without waiting for a reply, he left.

Haruhi stared after him for a long time.

Then, slowly, hesitantly, she began speaking. "You know Kyon, you're really troublesome."

The steady breathing offered no protest, but Haruhi could easily hear the sputtering retort in her mind. It gave her impetus, gave her a reply.

"I mean really, worrying us like that, what are you thinking?" she glared at him, managing quite a strong one considering his unconscious state. "You made Mikuru-chan cry, for God's sake!" huffing, she crossed her arms. "You're so selfish sometimes, you know that? Always disagreeing with me, always complaining..."

She trailed off. It was getting harder and harder to scold someone who wouldn't fight back.

"But you're still here, aren't you?" she gave him a pensive look, before glancing away. "I guess I should thank you. Without you, I wouldn't have thought up the SOS Brigade, wouldn't have had all these experiences, wouldn't have found Yuki, Mikuru, or Koizumi..."

Haruhi paused, that vivid dream from all those months ago returning to her mind yet again. The blue giants, the monochrome world, and her and Kyon alone together...

"Ponytails turn me on."

And then he kissed her.

Almost unconsciously, she brushed her hand over her hair. Still not long enough for a ponytail.

... Not that she was planning to grow one out or anything like that.

"So... thank you." The words are quiet and soft and, even if Kyon was awake, he probably wouldn't have been able to hear it.

But they hang in the air, almost tangible, capable of having weight. And, she might have imagined it, having been running nonstop since the fall, but Haruhi could have sworn Kyon's hand twitched for just a moment.

And even holding their hand could comfort them, however unconsciously.

"Be grateful for this," Haruhi muttered, remembering Koizumi's words as she reached over, hand almost trembling. "It's not every day one gets to touch the hand of the Brigade Commander."

By the time Koizumi returned, Haruhi was asleep in a rather uncomfortable position, half in the chair, half on the bed.

With her hand clasped tightly around Kyon's.

Koizumi smiled faintly, before sighing as he stood in the doorway, "I suppose I should get Suzumiya-san a sleeping bag."