Night. At one of the hospital terraces.
"So, basically, that's what happened", I told Koizumi.
"Amazing, indeed", he answered, reclining his elbows on the fence. "And here I thought you were only a human being."
"I guess that puts us in the same club. To be honest, I really don't know whether I'm still a Time Lord or not."
"Or perhaps the universe was just created last night", he added, saying with a hand gesture, "and these were the memories that were given to us."
I shrugged. After all, this was a whole new universe, and we didn't know what would be ahead of us. But I was sure of one thing: The status of the SOS brigade would never be the same. I would no longer be the Arthur Dent that was always passive to the dangers in front of him. Haruhi would no longer be locked out of the loop and oblivious to her having the ultimate power - especially after having the crap being beaten out of her by the Master.
And about Yuki...
Yuki. It's been almost three days since Haruhi fell in coma, and Yuki hasn't smiled again. Either she's completely traumatized by the aforementioned events, or she just went back to being her old self. At least I feel better knowing that she wasn't being threatened with deletion in the first place. That thought just gives me the shivers.
I sighed. It's time to see how Haruhi is again.
While I was walking down the stairs, I wondered what would be better for Haruhi... the world's no wonder being in jeopardy should she remember - so it was time to see what would be better for her. Would it be better if she remembered everything - including her pain for losing me as a romantic interest? How would knowing that she never had a chance after all, affect her?
The consequences of establishing an ontological paradox can be hard for one. What was my responsibility for falling in love with Nagato, even after Haruhi needed me so much? But I wouldn't have met Haruhi in the first place if I hadn't traveled back in time to three years ago... heh. Years of time traveling and I still can't answer a question so simple. What's your responsibility now, Kyon?
Bah, whatever! As a Time Lord, I've always been successful at improvising and dealing with the unknown. Why shouldn't I be able to, as a human being? But enough pondering.
"Koizumi... I still have to thank you for lending us this hospital for Haruhi."
"My thanks go to you", he answered. "Finally I'm free from having to wake up in the middle of the night to take care of those guys. For that you have my complete gratitude", he said.
"Now that I think of it... does that mean you're a normal human being now?"
"I sincerely hope so. To be honest, I never liked the idea of having these powers being invested upon me without my consent. And it's not like I have stopped being a member of the brigade. And I really like participating, even if passively, in the brigade activities."
"But, Koizumi... if you could choose between having those powers or not... what would you choose?"
"The powers by themselves are irrelevant to me. What really scared me was having the fate of the universe depend on my performance in the sealed spaces. It's just too much responsibility for one man."
"Yeah, I can relate."
We approached Haruhi's room. Sitting outside, was Asahina-san (young). She still looked like a boy who had his little dog getting rolled by a car while playing ball. I guess some things don't change after all.
"How is she?"
Asahina-san frowned. "Kyon-kun... i'm getting a bit scared... what if she doesn't wake up after all?"
"Don't worry, she will. You have to trust Nagato on this."
"By the way, have you talked to her yet?"
"About life... loneliness... and how you feel... those things."
"Uh... no, Kyon-kun... but why should I -"
"Please do. "
Nagato came out of the room.
"Any news yet?" I asked.
She just shook her head. And then she looked at me. With that gaze. That gaze that said nothing... and everything. I looked back at her, and felt tempted to caress her cheek. But as I slowly raised my hand, she held it and stopped me.
"Not yet", she said to me. "We must still wait". Nope, she wasn't talking about Haruhi, but about us. Still, her words were clever, as everyone else thought she was talking about her. I nodded, noticing for the first time that, as an android, she was still able to make conscious decisions regarding us and those that surrounded us.
Koizumi stepped in to take care of Haruhi. "Do not worry", he said. "I'll take good care of her."
And then I noticed, that Koizumi smiled faintly. But contrary to other times, his smile looked more calm, and sincere.
"I fancy her a lot", I remembered him saying. He looked very disappointed when he told me that Haruhi only liked him because he seemed mysterious.
As he closed the door, I wondered what things he could whisper to her while she was sleeping. Would he confess his love to her? Or tell her about our adventures in sealed space?
I looked at Yuki again. "Nagato..."
She looked at me again. I only smiled at her, and she nodded. She moved her lips without making a sound, but I understood perfectly what she said, and it should be obvious by now what she said. I liked to be reassured that her feelings were being sincere. That's one of the things that changed, and I was grateful for that. I caressed her hand. "Nagato, please trust Asahina-san. She can be a wonderful friend."
She looked at Asahina-san, making her nervous.
"Asahina-san, I think Nagato and you need to talk about lots of things. Please, do not waste this valuable time."
I handled Asahina-san a piece of paper, and she gasped. "Kyon-kun... w-what does this mean?" she said, looking at me.
The paper had read: "Please don't be afraid of Nagato-san. She needs your friendship as much as you'll need hers someday."
Below, it had some squiggly lines - a special symbol that, as I would find out later, meant "critical to your mission". In a way, I'm also fond of the adult Asahina-san. She was my previous companion in the other universe, but I have to tell that through the years she really has matured and become a really capable and intelligent person. I wonder who she works for "now" in the near future? Is it me? Is it Haruhi herself? Is it maybe an older Asahina-san? That would be quite funny.
As I was thinking this, walking in the hospital halls, I ran into a beautiful female doctor.
"Kyon-kun! Long time, no see."
"You still have some questions, right Kyon-kun?"
"Well, yes, some..."
We sat down in a nearby bench.
"I suppose your first question is how we managed to get your Suzumiya-san into the past..."
"That was an easy one. It happened during the preparations for the school movie. Guess who gave her the idea to make a movie about us, Kyon-kun?"
I couldn't believe it. It was you, after all?
"Let's say that the whole series of events was an experiment made by Suzumiya-san. Altho I had to lie a little..."
"I told her that this was a parallel universe and she had to take her own place."
"Wow. I hope nothing went wrong..."
"Of course not. We chose this because it was a predetermined event."
"Of course, later I told her the truth, and she agreed to have her memory erased. She recovered it a few days before the 18th."
"I see... so there's nothing else for us to do, to keep the timeline fixed?"
"Just something trivial, Kyon-kun. Then you won't have to worry about the past anymore. Like a normal human being, or a normal Time Lord in your case, you'll only have to worry about the future. To be sincere, I envy you a bit."
"Like the Nagato-san you met this year, I'm currently tied to my future self - at least for a couple of years. I'm anxious to not know what the future holds for me. I have to admit, it's both exciting and a bit scary... I may give you another visit in the future for the goodbye..."
"Oh no, I wasn't supposed to say this... well, it's not really a goodbye... it's a bit... complicated... but you don't have to worry. We'll still meet... as friends... I'm sorry, I can't say anything more."
"I understand, Asahina-san. So I suppose you're your own future boss?"
"Only for a while - it's boring and exciting at the same time. Don't worry, it'll be exciting for you, Kyon-kun. You'll see."
"Now I have to go. I think you should check Suzumiya-san's room, she's about to wake up."
"Kyon? John? What was that dream? Ugh, this is confusing! Where am I?"
I felt very dizzy. What the hell just happened? As I opened my eyes, I saw myself in a hospital room. It felt so weird. Wait a minute... Mikuru-chan...?
"Hey, Mikuru-chan! Why are you crying so much!"
"We thought you weren't going to wake up!"
"Shut up! Of course I woke up! It's not like I would let myself sleep forever... wait... I don't... remember what happened. My head..."
"You should take a rest, Haruhi. Everything's fine". Kyon, that idiot... now you try to act condescending towards me? I... I think I need to rest..."
I couldn't keep myself awake. I only heard Kyon telling everyone to go, and I heard the door close. Then I fell asleep and had this very weird dream.
I was saving the world with John Smith... the guy who helped me call upon the stars three years ago. But why did he have to have Kyon's face? This is a joke, right?
The weirdest part of the dream is that I was talking to my other self... not from an alternate world, but from an alternate timeline... weird stuff. I really can't explain it.
The dream faded, and the next dream I had was that I *was* my other self. For some reason I didn't remember my previous life in North High. I had been studied at Koyouen with Koizumi-kun. Then, a few days ago, I received the most amazing call. It was John Smith! The same guy!
It was the most amazing dream I ever had. I met a time traveler, who looked a lot like Mikuru-chan. And I met myself... and...
it was just a dream. It was just a dream, right? Right?
It's not fair! I wanted to do all of these things, and...
I remembered what Kyon just said to me. Well, he was John at the time. I was special. I was special for him, and for my friends...
"Oh, you woke up."
The whole brigade was in front of me.
"Kyon! What date is this? How much have I been asleep? Answer me, we have lots of things to do!"
What? Now you're chuckling? What's so funny, you idiot!
"Let me get my clothes!" I shouted. "We have a Christmas performance to prepare!"
The doctor came in, and said I needed to rest for a bit, after some examinations. Stupid hospital policies. Well, I guess they should detect if something's wrong with my head, with all that beating... beating? No, no... that must've been a dream.
But... why do I remember it so vividly?
And then I remembered... for some reason, I remember Yuki telling me, that she had feelings for Kyon. It was before Kyon arrived on December 18th, we were about to go shopping. Poor Yuki... I had mixed feelings about that, you know? I realized that I had feelings for him. But I can't ruin that... and I felt like... I had seen this coming. No, I already knew it. But... why?
Someone knocked the door.
It was Yuki.
"Yuki! How've you been? I was just thinking about you!"
"Thank you. I wanted to ask..."
"It's about Kyon, right?"
She nodded, looking down. How could I say no to her? "Yuki, it's not like he's my boyfriend or anything. You know... when I saw him for the first time at school, I felt that she would be a wonderful friend, and I really love him, but... I can't do this to you. Go ahead."
"Oh, you shut up! And stop being so shy!", I shouted, pointing at her. "Hey - once in a while, I want to see you smile, okay? Can't you act more human once in a while?"
"Now go, I'd like to have some time alone."
Yuki left the room really quick. I really hope she gives him a kiss or something... dammit... why am I crying?
"You love him, don't you?"
"Would you like to cry on my shoulders?"
I realized the voice sounded just like mine. It was my other self! But... how? And next to her, was the old Mikuru-chan! Is this a dream? I don't know, but it hurts, and I need so much to...
My other self hugged me, and told me things would be fine. I would find someone to love me... god, I needed that hug so much!
I must be going crazy, why am I crying to myself! Does that mean that I have nobody else to take care for me? So much that I needed to travel in time to comfort myself?
"You know", she said. "I've always wanted to do that. I asked Mikuru-chan, and she said I could. It's a bit confusing right now, but I guess you'll understand how it works."
I looked at the older Mikuru-chan, and she held my hand. "Would you like a hug?"
I nodded. She smelled nice, and I felt at peace so much...
"Please, I'd like to talk to you other times... I feel so lonely at times... and I thought Kyon... John... I really don't know what's real anymore."
"You should rest, Suzumiya-san. You'll understand everything in time. Oh - here, have this."
"What is this?"
It was a small device, something like a hair pin, but it looked like some futuristic device.
"It's a TPDD. You're going to use it later. You'll also be able to talk to me with it."
"Thank you! But.. how do I use it?"
"Ask my other self to teach you. It's easy."
"Let me sleep next to you... just for now..."
I held her hand... and squeezed it... knowing that Kyon and I couldn't... but... it doesn't hurt that much right now...
"Whenever you ask, I'll be with you. It's a promise", said Mikuru-chan.
My other self was looking at us. She looked very happy. I envy her.
"You know, I'm a bit scared", she said. "Because I'll feel exactly how you're feeling right now. But I guess that'll be fine, since we're here for you. It's funny..."
I was feeling sleepy. My other self took something from her pocket... it was an old hairpin I thought I had lost. It was a smiley face. Hey, where did you get that from? Never mind. I felt sleepy.
Was it just a dream? Or was it real? No... it can't be possible... as much as I'd like, time travel's not real, or is it?
I looked at my left, but there wasn't any hairpin. And there wasn't any TPDD. It was just a dream, dammit.
A few minutes later, the doctor came in, and said I could go home.
I'm exhausted. I want to play some videogames. Is this real?
It is real! Screw the videogames! "Hey, Kyon! Get in here! We're leaving!"
"Where else? To go shopping, come on, hurry! Mikuru-chan, what time is it? Let's go, let's go!"
December 24. Morning.
"Kyon-kun, wake up! Wake up!"
Brrrr! It's freezing in here! I want to sleep one more minute...
"Kyon-kun! Wake up!"
It was the last day of school for the year. I looked inside my bag to make sure Haruhi's Christmas present was there. Classes went normally, and Haruhi looked a bit melancholic. I caught her sighing at the window between classes.
"Why that sigh?"
"Nah, nothing important", she answered. "Hey, Kyon, you haven't been spying on us, right? My hot pot is a VERY secret recipe!"
"No, no no... I swear!"
"That's good! Hey, remember that tomorrow we have this Christmas performance for the orphanage, make sure you don't break your leg or something, or I'll break your other leg to make it even, is that clear?"
As it was winter, classes finished the early afternoon, and Haruhi ran to the brigade room. After arriving upstairs, before the brigade room, I stumbled upon Asahina-san. The adult Asahina-san.
"Asahina-san! What are you doing here?"
"I'm on a mission, Kyon-kun. It's a mission different from what I've been doing so far."
"Different? In what way?"
Asahina-san whispered something to my ear.
"Really? You're not kidding, right?"
"No, Kyon-kun. It was an order from the top. Apparently the stability of the whole universe depends on it."
"Hey, you're scaring me now."
She smiled. "But there's no danger now. And I always wanted to do this. It'll be exciting, just to... but we have time, Kyon-kun. Let's go."
After finishing our brief time travel mission, I knocked the brigade room's door.
I opened the door.
"Kyon! What took you so long, everybody's waiting for you!"
"Well, I had to get someone. It's a guest."
"Guest? Who is it, is it one of your friends?"
"It's... someone you already know. Asahina-san?"
I walked to the table to leave room for Asahina-san to enter. Haruhi just kept staring at her. "M... Mikuru-chan?"
"Merry Christmas, Suzumiya-san. No, it wasn't a dream."
All I could see was Haruhi running towards Asahina-san, hugging her and crying. While hugging Haruhi, Asahina-san made a gesture to her younger self to keep quiet, and smiled. The younger Asahina-san just kept staring at the wall, and then whispered at me. "Kyon-kun, what does this mean?"
"Classified information", I whispered. "You'll talk about it later, don't worry. Just enjoy the party, okay?"
After a minute or so of cathartic emotions, we heard a female clearing of throat coming from outside. Asahina-san spoke. "Oh, right! I have another guest. Guess who?"
I still couldn't believe it. I had gone with Asahina-san to get her, but it still was hard to digest. A little girl of around 12 years old, wearing a nice dress and a white sweater. "So, you're my future self?" she asked.
"Yes! Yes, I am!" said Haruhi, wiping her tears. We closed the door, and little Haruhi kept asking herself and Asahina-san tons of questions, most of them answered with a "Classified information".
"Are you kidding me?"
But she calmed down after she finally got to taste Haruhi's cooking. "I'll give you the recipe later".
Then, the presents exhange. I gave Haruhi a box with her old hairpin, and some object that Asahina-san couldn't reveal to me. "Classified information", she said. She was very happy after looking at it. She also got a Christmas card from Koizumi, and another one from Nagato.
For Yuki, Haruhi gave her a couple of books on philosophy (don't ask me which books, they had hard-to-understand titles), and a little sphere with a Santa Claus on it. You would shake it and it would snow. But she didn't shake it. "When I get home", she said.
I got a Christmas gift card, and a wristwatch with the SOS emblem on it (Koizumi also got one). Also, Nagato gave me a sci-fi book with a special bookmark on the first page. "Tonight at 7:30, at the park." Hmm... this sounds like a date!
Asahina-san got a new dress, a book on self-esteem (what's with Christmas today? Everyone's getting books!). "Hey, read it thoroughly, okay?"
Asahina-san smiled. "Yes!"
Asahina-san told me she and Haruhi would escort little Haruhi back to her time, that I didn't need to worry about it. I still don't understand how little Haruhi didn't recognize me as John Smith later. Maybe her memory got erased? Maybe she thought it was just a dream? I don't know. But, nevermind. It was a wonderful party.
Later that night, I went to meet Nagato at the park. She said she needed to talk to me in private.
As she served me tea, she spoke.
"Is it good?"
"Yes, it is very good, thanks."
This reminded me of the first time we had talked about Haruhi. It should be obvious that she had something very important to say. I got a bit anxious.
"I have news."
She looked at me firmly. There was a strange glitter in her eyes. "It finally happened."
"The little sphere... with a Santa Claus..."
"It was a surprise. I knew it would snow inside it... snow is very important for me... I don't know how she found out. But, after I shook it..."
She looked at me, and tears began flowing out of her eyes. Nagato... no, I shouldn't call her by her surname anymore. Yuki... you're crying?
She stood up, and I stood up. She stared at me, and to my delight... she smiled.
We hugged and kissed each other.
"I love you", she said, looking at me with a very intense brightness in her eyes. "I love you so much!"
"I love you too."