Haruhi no Injun
(The Vacillation of Haruhi Suzumiya)
It was a typical Friday morning, and I was happy that this would be the last time I would have to hike up North High's arduous hill this week. However, I was almost sad to see the week end. Haruhi had been unusually pleasant just about the whole week. She and I had even gone together to a manga shop the other day, and it had actually been pleasant aside from the strange man in the green hat that insisted on shouting selling points at us. I was strangely looking forward to seeing the Brigade Chief, today.
I managed to get to school early that morning, and when I opened my locker to change my shoes, I found a note. I opened it hesitantly. The writing inside was prim and feminine, and very familiar. This could only belong to Miss Asahina. Could it be a love letter? No, no that would be too auspicious an occurrence.
Please meet me at the bench in the park after the SOS Brigade meeting. Also, when you finish reading this letter, please turn around calmly and greet Mikuru-chan and Tsuruya-san.
I turned around slowly and was unsurprised to find Miss Asahina and her friend Tsuruya walking by. "Er… hello, Miss Asahina. Miss Tsuruya."
"Hey, Kyon-kun!" Tsuruya said a little more loudly than was necessary. "Sorry again about Sunday…"
"No, it's alright," I assured her. I was just happy we were able to talk Haruhi out of taking us up on that plane again. We all went out for ice cream instead, and it was a much better use of our time. Thankfully, Haruhi seemed to have forgotten about her little foray into extreme sports soon afterward.
"Next time we get together, maybe we should just watch the sakura bloom, eh?" Tsuruya said, bursting into laughter.
"Y-yes," Miss Asahina said quietly. "I think that would be nice."
I wasn't able to stay and chat long, of course. It was soon time for class, and I didn't want to be late. I settled into my desk and out of habit looked back at Haruhi. She looked a bit melancholy… or perhaps just wistful. Regardless, she was definitely more subdued. I wanted to ask her what was wrong, but class had started so I would have to wait.
When our first break did come, I said, "Hey, Haruhi, you look like you have something on your mind."
Haruhi looked at me with a weird expression. "Oh… um, I was just thinking of last week. You know, we ought to do that again sometime. It was fun. And you dance better than I would have expected."
Yeah, that had been an odd evening. Haruhi had heard rumors of a haunted house on the outskirts of town, and—Haruhi being Haruhi—she had insisted that we go to investigate. That would have been relatively normal, but she had also made us dress up in ridiculous outfits more appropriate for a 16th century European court than looking around some house. She had even abducted me early and took me to be fitted appropriately, just to make sure. Seeing the three girls of our club, especially the divine Miss Asahina, dressed in such exotic clothing was very interesting, however, to say the least.
When we arrived at the house, Haruhi then insisted that we dance together. She had said that it was a ruse for the ghost—that any self respecting ghost wouldn't just show up for a group of people actually looking for it. So we had a dance party complete with music provided by a very expensive looking stereo brought by Mr. Suck-up himself, Itsuki Koizumi. I didn't complain much as it did allow me time to be so physically close to my most beautiful and pure angel. I did complain when Haruhi decided I was enjoying it too much and cut in. I certainly had difficulty enjoying it with her. Who was she to lead like that, anyway?
"I don't know why you wanted to have a… a ball of all things," I said finally.
Haruhi beamed. "I got the idea when I won some tickets to a ball last week. I decided it would be too boring to go to any normal ball, but if we did it in a haunted house, it might end up being fun."
That might be true, but wouldn't such a thing have been better suited for something like Halloween? That was a time when dressing up and going to haunted houses was considered normal. Maybe if she could just confine her behavior to the appropriate holidays, she would be alright. Then again, given how she handled Tanabata four years ago, it might not be surprising to find that holiday celebrations for her were simply a challenge to go beyond her normal weirdness.
"Oh, and I just wanted to remind you that my offer to tutor you is still open," she said nonchalantly.
"I think I'll pass," I said. I cringed when she gave me a look that told me she wasn't going to let this go. Thankfully, she seemed willing to forget about it for now. The rest of the day proceeded with a similar and comfortable level of dullness, until classes were finally over, and all that was left was to meet for our daily SOS Brigade meeting.
I arrived to Koizumi chatting about some nonsense with Haruhi. "I can understand that it can be very upsetting for some, but such plots have the crucial advantage of giving us the opportunity to develop a character or characters in a different context without having stick to any permanent ramifications of the plot required to cause such characterization."
"Well, I don't care!" Haruhi said with a pout. "Those 'just a dream' and other reset button stories really stick in my craw. It's like… what's the point in having all these awesome plot developments if it's all just erased like that. It's an insult to the discerning consumer!"
"Well," Itsuki said. "A story isn't just about plot development…"
"I don't care. If an episode of anime doesn't advance the plot in any way, it's just filler."
I did my best to ignore the incessant natter, and took a seat. Nagato was there reading her book as usual, though I noticed she paused for a moment and gave me what I would have to interpret as a thoughtful glance.
Miss Asahina served tea as usual, and as usual it was heavenly. I ended up embroiled in another board game with Koizumi during the course of our meeting, in which I trounced the esper soundly, while Haruhi seemed content to chat up the stammering Miss Asahina and Nagato. That was a bit surprising, as she usually kept to herself until she had orders to deliver, but as I said Haruhi had been acting more pleasant lately, though her conversations still inevitably centered on weirdness in general.
The meeting ended as Nagato slapped her book shut. Four of us filed out of the classroom as Miss Asahina stayed behind to change back into her normal attire. As we left, Nagato pulled on the sleeve of my blazer and I turned, almost expecting to see a shy, lonely look on her face like the one I had seen this past winter in that other reality, but her look held nothing but serious business as was typical. She handed me a book and said, "Read this, please," and then walked away down the hall. This didn't seem good. First a mysterious letter from what was probably the future Miss Asahina and now Nagato was giving me what was likely to be another bookmark note.
I sighed in resignation and turned to Koizumi, who waved at me with that foxy grin on his face. "What is it with you?" I asked.
"I don't know what you mean," he said evenly, obviously knowing exactly what I meant.
"Alright, you two," Haruhi said authoritatively. "Move along. I don't want you pervs hanging around while Mikuru is changing."
She was one to talk. She was the one to usually undress poor Miss Asahina by force. Her perverted nature was well known to everyone in school. Nonetheless, I had other things to do, so I acquiesced to her request and turned to leave.
"Hey, wait a minute Kyon!"
I turned back to look at Haruhi, who had called after me urgently. I wondered if she forgot something, but I really had no idea why she would need to call me back.
"Ara…" Haruhi said with a perplexing look of hesitation on her face. Well? What was it? She was tongue tied for several seconds, though it seemed like minutes. Then her face got that goofy expression she got when she thought of something "fun" to do and she began waving like a maniac over her head. "Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out!"
Was that a joke? That was pretty lame. I waved back laughing weakly before turning again to leave. Koizumi followed closely behind, and when we were out of earshot of Haruhi, he spoke up.
"What has been happening between you and Haruhi this week?" he asked.
It had been nothing Koizumi didn't know about, already, of course. She was being less obnoxious, but there was nothing else going on at all.
"Well, it seems there were a couple… disturbances in the past week. Large Sealed Realities that nonetheless seemed to collapse before anyone from the Organization could intercept them."
"And you think I would know anything about this?" I asked.
Koizumi sighed and shook his head. "It can't be denied that you have the greatest effect out of anyone on Haruhi's emotional state. There is only one real question here. What has happened to cause this. Further, what do these large but short lived anomalies mean? Will they continue? Are they harbingers of doom?"
That was more than one question. In any case, I couldn't help him out with that. There was absolutely nothing I could point to in the past week that would have caused anything like this to occur. Of course, trying to interpret Haruhi's emotional state was like trying to interpret the future in the cracks of bones.
"I see," Koizumi said. "Well, I'm disappointed but I can't say I'm surprised. Even I was unable to discern any behavior that would indicate the stress that would cause a Sealed Reality to form. She has seemed more… relaxed and happy recently. Perhaps this is an indication of her accepting reality as it is, though we can never truly be certain of that."
"Maybe," I said. "If that means no more threat of apocalypse if we get one crazy chick miffed, then I won't cry too much."
"Regardless," Koizumi said, "We will monitor this situation as it develops. Hopefully the Organization's worst fears are unfounded."
When we exited the school, Koizumi and I went our separate ways. I oriented myself toward the park, and considered the book Nagato had given me. It was a thinner book than her usual fair, though it was science fiction, which was unsurprising. I opened it and found a bookmark there. On it was Nagato's incredibly neat, almost mechanical handwriting. It seemed a pretty standard summons.
I arrived at the park to find an older woman sitting at that fateful bench. She was familiar in the way an old friend was after twenty years. This was definitely Miss Asahina's future self, and she greeted me with a warm smile. It was not a smile I returned easily, as I was still upset with her for manipulating poor Miss Asahina (small). Perhaps it was odd to be angry with her for being unkind to her past self, as she would be the one to understand more than anyone what her younger self was going through. However, I still felt upset on principle.
"Hello, Kyon-kun," she said. "Please, sit down."
"I'm not sure exactly what happened, but it seems everything has turned out well."
"What are you talking about?"
"The events of the last week," Miss Asahina said. "That alternate timeline seems to have become closed again. Everything is happening as it should."
"Well… that's good to know," I said. "But what is this about an alternate timeline?"
"So you don't remember?" Miss Asahina asked with a genuinely baffled look on her face. "How interesting. Of course, the knowledge we gained from the experience has been classified to all our past selves in order to preserve the timeline. I suppose it's better like this." She seemed, however, to fidget a bit, and looked as if she were fighting back an urge to grin. "You're sure you don't remember? The ball? The bathroom? … 'Kyon's Girl'?"
I sat up straight when she said that last part. I'd had strange dreams that I could recall only vaguely all week. I had tried to push some of the weirder ones out of my head, but that gaudy pink banner with "Kyon's Girl" emblazoned across it… that was burned into my memory. "How… did you know about that?"
Miss Asahina definitely let a smirk sneak out for a nanosecond this time. "I see. So was it just like a dream to you? I suppose Miss Suzumiya wanted it like this, then. Everything that's happened this week; everything that I initially remembered… it was all recreated as a middle path, as if the split had never occurred. At least, that's just a theory…"
That was nice. It seemed Miss Asahina (big) was becoming more like Koizumi.
Miss Asahina giggled modestly. "Here I am sounding more like Itsuki-kun every day." Her expression became more serious. "I suppose all you need to know, then, is that everything is fine now, for awhile. You shouldn't need to worry, at least not until…" She conked herself on the head. "Well, that's classified."
I gave her an irritated expression, but she only smiled back at me in that way that reminded me too much of Miss Asahina (small). Then we parted ways.
It wasn't far to the library from there. When I arrived, I found Nagato waiting for me inside, just as her note had said she would be. She didn't speak to me until after she had checked out a large pile of books and given them to me to take out.
"Haruhi's data creation," she said when we had exited the building, me carrying her stack of books in my arms. Why did she have to check out so many, anyway? "It has been deleted and all overwritten data has been restored."
I looked quizzically at the bookish girl beside me. "Excuse me?"
Nagato glanced sidelong at me. "Yesterday morning, Haruhi Suzumiya created a new world. It was a world more in keeping with her ideal, in which she was a true goddess who could will anything she wanted into existence."
"Do you mean to say that the world was destroyed?" I asked.
"In a manner of speaking," Nagato replied. "For a whole day Haruhi ruled over existence. She gave all of her friends everything they wanted." For a moment I could have sworn her eyes glazed over in something like wistfulness. "However, as she looked down on what she had created… she was overtaken by melancholy."
"What?" I said in surprise. "Why? She could have anything she wanted. Why would she be sad?"
Nagato remained silent for a moment. "I believe… it may be a confirmation of your hypothesis. The you that existed for the six days after the vacillation of Haruhi Suzumiya, that is."
"The… huh?" I said. She was being completely incomprehensible and I honestly couldn't understand what she was talking about. What about "the vacillation of Haruhi Suzumiya"? What hypothesis?
"In brief," Nagato said calmly. "Haruhi Suzumiya, being in complete control of her data manipulation and creation abilities, discovered that her human self obstructionist drives rendered her unfulfilled emotionally."
"Oh," I said. "I can understand that."
Nagato seemed to size me up in that impassive manner she has. "Of course." She looked back ahead of us as we continued to walk down the sidewalk. "From the compilation of data collected by the IDSE, it has been determined that Haruhi Suzumiya's desire for conflict was incompatible with her knowing control of all data around her. Because of this, after one day she deleted the data of the new universe and recovered the data of the old universe."
"Wait… so… how was she able to do that?" I asked. "How do you know she got everything right if she just remade everything?"
"She did not create a replica," Nagato said. "Instead, it seems that the data of the old universe still remains in some form when it is overwritten, though it is impossible to access it normally. Restoring the old universe in this case is similar to retrieving data from a formatted hard drive."
"Okay," I said. I was beginning to understand what she was talking about, thankfully. "But what about our memories of the past week?"
"Haruhi Suzumiya's fabricated the memories of those involved in the matter to fit with a universe in which she did not split into five separate entities."
"So that was real…" I said. The memories were like a dream and very incomplete, but I could definitely remember something about a bunch of different weird Haruhies. "I thought it was a dream."
"Haruhi Suzumiya's ability to overwrite your memory for some reason is incomplete," Nagato said. I do not know if this due to some inherent ability you have to resist her power or if it is merely due to Haruhi not wanting you to completely forget. My own memory was erased completely, but the IDSE was unaffected; therefore, the missing information was supplemented by the entity. Those in the future were unaffected, as well, but everyone else's memories have been completely replaced, including Haruhi Suzumiya's own."
"Wow," I said. "That's… pretty wild."
"So did Haruhi really sleep in my bed?"
"She was quite forward," Nagato confirmed. "I believe the armband may have been what is called 'over the top'."
"Did… Did Koizumi really go Super Sai—"
"I believe the time for questions is over," Nagato said abruptly, pointing to her apartment building. "If you would like to discuss this at a later time that would be acceptable, but now it is time for you to go home and complete your studies."
Nagato's gaze had an underlying intensity when she looked my way. "Haruhi Suzumiya would be very unhappy should you fail in your exams."
I laughed weakly and agreed, waving goodbye as I headed toward my own home. I wouldn't think much about the incident after that, and in fact the memory of it faded over time until I'd nearly forgotten. It wasn't until much later that I would remember it again.
That was when I would discover a small pink armband hanging out of Haruhi's bag.