"How the Game Was Won"

"Do you think we'll ever be here again?"

She's not sure why she asks it. It barrels out of her before she's even fully formulated the words. She just feels she needs to ask it, like if she doesn't now she'll never have the chance again.

Admittedly, she probably won't.

Maybe that's why it happens. Why she steps closer, why he doesn't turn away. Why their lips, already wet with rain, meet to get wetter as tongues slip in.

Maybe that's why they don't stop.

They were in a baseball field.

Well, more precisely, they were in the dugout of a baseball field. There was something very ironic about that—innuendo made reality. Or was it coincidental? Just plain funny? Haruhi was sure she knew but now that graduation was over and done with, every useless tidbit she had ever learned seemed to have temporarily gone on shore leave. Kyon would probably know, but it wasn't fair to wake him now.

Really. She was just going to have to wait.


… Oh, who was she kidding?

"Kyon! Kyon!"

She shook him as she called and he grumbled, clearly less than happy about it. One eye opened and he moaned, "What?"

"What's the definition of 'irony'?"

"Are you serious?"

She smacked him hard on the elbow and he hissed, "Dammit, it's 'going against the expected', all right?"

"You sure?"

"Yes! Can I go back to sleep now?"

She nodded and his eyes shut instantly without another word, not even a hint of appreciation for her kindness. Oh well. She could go without it, just this once. She was sure she could come up with a suitable punishment for it later.

So, 'going against the expected'. Did that fit? Not in the ways she thought it had—at least, not very well—but in others, she guessed it did. She'd never have expected that she would be in this position, in this place, and certainly never with him. They had spent all of high school chasing after different things. She wanted excitement; he wanted peace. She longed for novelty; he, consistency. She craved the unusual and looked everywhere she could for the one who wasn't like the others, who didn't just walk to the beat of a different drummer but stole the stupid thing and played it as erratically and randomly as he could. And he?

He lusted over Mikuru (understandably so, but still, case closed).

Yet, life hadn't worked out that way. Why? He wasn't all that attractive—Koizumi definitely won out there. He wasn't charismatic or charming—he usually acted as if every step he took were part of a slow steady march onto a funeral pyre. He wasn't hardworking or dedicated—the contrast between his grades and his intelligence served as definite proof of that. In fact, he was everything she hated: lazy, boring, and unmotivated. Worse still, he was normal and, worst of all, perfectly content to be so. He should have disgusted her; his friends certainly did, and they were no better than he was.

So why? When did it start?

She sat up, feeling unbearably restless, and watched the wind skate through the trees. The sun (it must have come out while they were sleeping) was setting. Had they really been out here all day? Her mother was going to kill her if she didn't call or get home soon.

But …

Kyon seemed like he was back to snoozing peacefully, completely unaware of the time, and this time she really didn't want to wake him. Forget her mother; she didn't want to leave just yet and it was obvious he didn't either.

She brushed off the dirt on her legs and grabbed her clothes with a sigh. They were completely covered with mud and grass stains, and for a second she regretted the decision. But while she wasn't exactly eager to put them on in this state, she had no choice. Her muscles were bursting with energy and there was an entire field waiting to be touched after the rain. So with one last grimace, she put on everything but the socks and shoes, stepped out of the dug-out, and began to run. She didn't follow the bases; just went straight into the outfield, an uncontrolled grin splattering across her face as she felt the cool plush beneath her feet. No track, no guidelines, no guidance—complete and utter freedom.

Kyon would appreciate this too. He wouldn't say it, of course, but he always acted like he never had a choice in anything (which was honestly the most ridiculous thing she'd ever heard). It would do him some good to have an experience like this, where no one controlled him but him.

Maybe that's why it had to be him, it suddenly occurred to her. Because he needed her. Because he wanted more in his life, contrary to what he said he wanted or what he tried to be. Maybe his devotion to that image should have tipped her off right at the beginning. No one ever seemed to be who they tried to be. Yuki was actually sensitive and a little naïve; Koizumi was shy and shut off from everyone else; and Mikuru … well, okay, she was exactly who she seemed to be. But her potential to be someone else was clearly there, and Haruhi especially saw that now, whenever she managed to get out of Tokyo and come visit the Brigade.

Then what was Kyon?

Stupid question. Though she forgot it sometimes, he was the boy who started it all, even before he knew what he was saying.

"All that stuff about aliens, you didn't really mean all that, did you?"

In that one question, he had made himself different. It had been so casual, asked mostly out of sex drive rather than any true intellectual curiosity (she knew how boys looked at her; how they thought they hid their idiotic drooling was beyond her), but it was the first time anyone had ever really asked. Most people had kept their distance from her, and the brave souls who did dare to venture closer had ignored the topic completely.

She didn't like him all the way back then though. She was interested, but she didn't have time for 'stupid' things like that back then.

So when did she make time?

She remembered kissing him (or dream him or whatever that experience had been) she had only known him for a few months. She couldn't have really liked him then, could she?

But I did. Why would she have gotten so jealous of Mikuru otherwise?

She paused, bored with running. Perhaps a cartwheel instead? She decided yes and put herself into position, mentally counting down in her head.

Three. Two. One.

"Blast off."

She pushed off and it was perfect. She went for another, and another, let the rush of dizziness cloud her senses until she finally slipped on the still dewy grass and collapsed.

Maybe there was no reason. It was scary, but entirely possible. Maybe Kyon was Kyon. and that was enough. It wasn't like anything had come through her mind this morning, when he had found her on the field. Then again, she hardly had the chance. 'Forethought' hadn't exactly been the word of the hour.

Actually, it was strange to think how easily something that had felt so perfect could not have happened. Well, maybe not perfect. It hurt, a little. More than she had thought anyway, even though she knew enough to think it couldn't be as easy as TV made it look. She had felt split open. Like she was chopped fruit or split pants.

Yet Kyon had known. Of course he had known. He seemed to know everything, or at least learned fast. He had slowed, gripped her shoulders tighter, whispered in her ear, "It's okay, it's okay, do you want to stop?" Like she could possibly have said no by that point, or anything but "Go on, idiot!" but he had asked it anyway, had stroked her hair and kissed her harder, a new pressure to distract from the old—

She shivered, shaking it all off. But she couldn't stop the smile, couldn't keep from leaping a little bit as she got up and moved into another cartwheel. No, it wasn't perfect. But maybe, that was okay. Kyon wasn't perfect. He could be obnoxious, pessimistic, passive-aggressive and just generally a pain in her ass. Yet she wouldn't want him to be any different, at least not now.

Once she did. Once she dreamed of him making lines on fields, laughing as she gaped, saying, 'You were the one who asked if we met before.' When had she stopped? She couldn't honestly say. Just one day she turned around and it was him, not a boy with a crazy alias and a sleeping girl on his back, and that was okay—more than okay. Perfect. Extraordinary. Right.

Really, that was the term. It had felt right, with him. So maybe …

Maybe, just maybe, she didn't need to know how they got here.

A scary thought. And yet …

Maybe, just maybe, she could be okay with that.

She was readying herself for another cartwheel when she was distracted by a half-laugh, half-scoff that could only belong to one person.

"I thought you were sleeping," she said, folding her arms and turning to face Kyon. He was still in the dugout, leaning gently forward on the railing and watching her with an expression so amused she wanted to kick him just as much she wanted to keep it going.

"Like I could after you woke me up."

"Never stopped you before."

This time he gave a real laugh, one of the few she's ever heard from him. "That's true."

It's only now that he seems to realize he's still shirtless (if not more) and he quickly ducks back down to root out his clothes. Like I don't already know what's down there, stupid. Smiling, she does a few more cartwheels, giving him time to get dressed.

She really didn't need to know. When things started, why, how—what did any of it matter? He was here, right now, coming towards her with that easy grin that was so rare, she couldn't even justifying making a tally for them, making it all the more infectious.

"Well," he said, "here we are. What now?"

"Do you think we'll ever be here again?

Here, right now, that was all that mattered.

Yeah. She could be okay with that.

Maybe that's why it happens. Maybe that's why it goes on, why they awkwardly fumble in an old field and play with emotions they still haven't voiced but knew all along. Or maybe it's more. Maybe it's a mixture of things she'll never know, things she could never possibly realize.

But they leave the field hand in hand, her pulling him along when he trails behind, and suddenly past and future don't really seem to matter. Where they'll be tomorrow, how they got to today—he's never been one to agonize and she's never been one not to enjoy things when they came.

Here, right now, that's all that matters; the thrill of the win, not how the game was won.

After a year of writing and rewriting and editing this, I can't say I'm fully satisfied. I guess I'm just self-conscious about it, especially since Kyon and Haruhi have such a complicated relationship that writing such a peaceful, blissful, and romantic moment like this seems rather odd. I put this up merely because I know it's the best I'm ever going to do, and it's a challenge that I strongly felt like taking up. Regardless of whether I succeeded, it feels nice to have at least tried (even if there is no way it's better than "The Girl Who Would be God", which you all simply MUST read if you want a more detailed smutty adventure).

Anyway. Many, many thanks to Audley for betaing this and reigning me in here and there (and sorry that the other one calls for a severe whipping to punish my muse; you're seriously the best though, and I appreciate every harsh scolding I get).

Happy End of Endless Eight Day.

Until we meet again.

DISCLAIMER: The Haruhi Suzumiya series belongs to Nagaru Tanigawa and Kadokawa. This fic is done for pleasure, not profit.