A/N: It took a while, but I've finally wrote it. In this chapter I finished the plot I had in mind from the begining (Not everything was planned from the begining though), the loose ends get together. Things like: Kyon is pulling pranks!? He tried to rape her!? WHY!? WHY would she try to kill him!!!? But when I finally finished it and looked at the completed jigsaw puzzle it was me finishing the same puzzle, hence the name of the chapter. Anyway, enjoy!


Chapter 6: Mind screw


In my father's house are many mansions. Of course, when the fever took over me in the snow, and my brain exploded inside my skull, I died.

Liar.

With the paramedic helicopter thundering toward us and Haruhi and paramedics and all of her made up imaginary people, with all of them trying to save me, I had to die.

This was better than real life.

And your one perfect moment won't last forever.

Everything in heaven is white on white. Everything in heaven is quiet, rubber-soled shoes.

There is no fever in heaven. There are no monsters in heaven. There's no one trying to kill you here.

Faker.

People visit me in heaven and tell me I'm remembered, that I'm just exhausted. That I'll get better.

The angels here are the Old Testament kind, legions and lieutenants, who work in shifts. They bring you your meals on a tray with a paper cup of pills. The Othello playset.

The first one to visit me was God Herself. She sat on a chair beside my bed and for a while just stared at me, shaking her head.

After a long while of silence, God asked me, "What do you remember?"

I remember everything.

God asked if I can tell the story from my point of view.

I don't know where to start.

"From the beginning," God said.

All right. From the beginning, let's see... I had a dream. In it a human sized lizard with a crown on its head...

And so I told God the story from my point of view.

Now God just stares at me and asks, "Why?"

Why do I have to cause so much pain for others?
Why do I have to attack everything humanity worked for all these years?
Is it because I finally see how boring the world has become?
Is it because I finally realize what God's trying to achieve?

I look at God, her hair in a ponytail, and tell her that she's got all of this wrong.

We are not special.
We are not crap or trash either.
We just are.
We just are, and what happens just happens.

And God says, "No, that's not right."

And I smile.

Yeah.
Well.
Whatever.
You can't teach God anything.

-

"Severe type of pneumonia, at first it affected only his lungs and a slight fever was present," the doctor says. "But, the girl that was trapped with him claims he was delusional. Know what that means?"

The doctor seems to be testing the young nurse in training.

But she won't miss one chance to shine, "That the bacteria got into his brain? But still why he kept going like that?"

"Exactly, the bacteria got into his brain and created another version of events which caused him to act as he did. Right now he thinks he is in heaven. But he should be able to get out of it, complete recovery." The doctor says, scribbling something on his pad.

The nurse nods.

"All right, got some golf to attend to - when this IV finishes, change it to these two," the doctor instructs the nurse, pointing to the chart.

"Is it true that he almost froze to death on the roof of his school thinking he was saving the universe?" The nurse asks.

The doctor nods and shakes his head.

"Weird case indeed, but this isn't the first time I've handled something on this level before. But enough of him, let's talk about that da-"

Haruhi stops listening as the doctor and nurse walk away, their conversation growing too boring to follow. Anyway her mind's preoccupied at the moment, she's thinking about what Kyon told her just moment ago. About God, about humanity, about herself - the story from his perspective.

It's all too... strange.

Why would he attack the society at that level?
Why would he compare everything to God?
Why use so much biblical references?

Where the hell did those monsters come from?

At one point he mentioned that she was a God, what did that mean?

But first and foremost... will Kyon ever be the same again?

"I think Takeshi's going to be just fine," someone says from behind her.

Haruhi turns around and behind her is a woman in about mid-thirties, average looking. Haruhi never seen her, but she's bearing something oddly familiar about her.

Haruhi asks, "Are you his Mom?"

"Just call me Aki, I hate all the formalities, you're Haruhi aren't you?" the older woman smiles. "My son told me a lot about you."

"Really?" Haruhi says, a little surprised.

"Yeah, he is always telling stories about you and your companions and your adventures together," the older woman smiles. "Though some of his stories I find a little hard to believe."

Haruhi returns the smile as if understanding what she means and turns back to look through the hallway glass, at the bed behind it. Kyon's there sitting unmoving, he's indifferent, like an empty shell of his former self. His gaze's empty, looking at nothing in particular.

"Don't worry, he will be okay," the woman says.

"How can you be so sure?" Haruhi snaps back then blinks the anger away, "I mean... he changed, he's different. I know what the doctors say, but I don't believe them. No bacteria can make someone like that."

"Actually..." Kyon's mother begins. "This already happened to him before."

"What?"

"Yes, perhaps it would be best for me to explain it from the beginning," the woman breaths out as if preparing to endure something painful. "I've never really talked about this with anyone, but you deserve to know."

"When Takeshi was younger he was unstoppable, he was always running around, always causing trouble. He was pestering people, calling other children names, even bullying, pulling pranks. He was a kid and kids act that way, so we brushed it off as nothing. Then it got serious, his pranks were getting... deadlier. Once he brought a cow to the school and took it up the entry stairs. Cows can go up the stairs, but getting them down is a whole different story. There were three injured children and one so badly he almost died. Children gave him the nickname 'Kyon' at that time, we are still wondering what exactly it means."

Haruhi's speechless. Every time she called him that, she just reminded him everything.

"He was too young to answer for his crimes to police, so it was up to us to punish him. After we payed the fine and smart money we still didn't know what to do with him. We tried everything, but he was unable to focus his attention on something for longer than thirty seconds. We tried professional help, they diagnosed him with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and just gave him some pills which he wouldn't take. When his pranks got more violent, beyond the line of insects and animals and again he injured one girl, I decided it was enough. With my husband we sat down and thought up the best solution we could, we transferred him to another school."

"They called it 'The School of the Future', it was a catholic school led by American missionaries, but we didn't know that until it was too late."

The woman looks at Kyon behind the glass. Uninterested, he scratches his head.

"One day he came home from the school and was calm. No pranks, no running around. I kept telling myself to be happy about it... but... he was different."

"He got apathetic, cynical about things, we just wanted him to calm down. But since then... he just did what everyone else did. It was just like how he got his nickname, everything he did was by sheer inertia."

The woman stops talking.

Haruhi doesn't say anything.

Kyon's mother continues, "I should have listened to him when he didn't want to go there, but I just kept pressing and led him to the school anyway. I led Kyon there and picked up Takeshi later that day."

The woman stops for a while, recovering herself.

"Then one day Takeshi got sick. Doctors diagnosed it as a severe type of pneumonia, but said he could cure it home. He just had to take the pills and stay in the bed resting. But he wouldn't rest. I found him doing his homework when I got home, later that day he tried to walk out of the door telling us he just wanted to jog like every other day. At first we blamed the fever for it, then we discovered what the 'School of the Future' really was."

"As I said they were religious group that spread the word of God, it was a part of the Catholic Church so called Faith Movement. At first I found nothing strange about that, it was just a normal school with a few religious subjects, but then when he got the pneumonia I decided to visit the school. At first what they taught was just basic subjects, math, biology, etc., but then I stumbled on the 'religious hour' where they trained them to be the 'winners above devil'. They were telling the kids that Christ will cure you no matter what. Encouraging them to put down their glasses and try to read. That if they did take them off the God would grant them the ability to see without them. That you just had to believe. That didn't seem strange, but a while into the lesson I realized the full extent of what it meant. They were simply telling the near sighted people to take off their glasses before they decided to drive a car."

"That's why Takeshi tried to act just as he always did even thought he was sick. Day later, the pneumonia worsened. The doctors said it spread into his brain and that he got hallucinations."

"For about three days he was in a hospital, I used that time to transfer him back to his original school... but... when he got back, it was that apathetic changed Takeshi... And he was like that ever since."

Haruhi and the woman watch each other for a long time.

"I... didn't know..." Haruhi says.

"Don't worry, it's not your fault Haruhi, Takeshi will be just fine... he's just never going to be really himself again. Now if you'd excuse me I brought him some oranges," The woman smiles weakly and enters the hospital room to say hello to her son.

Haruhi stands there for a while, thinking in all the hospital noise. In the annoying smell of disinfectant that hospitals are known for. And it all made sense. The pranks, Kyon's increasing boldness, his visions and everything he told her about God. Now it adds up. That wasn't Kyon acting out of his character, that was Kyon coming back to his origins. The real Kyon.

Then she's pulled out of her daydream.

"So how is he?" Koizumi asks with Nagato and Mikuru behind him.

And Haruhi frowns and puffs up her cheeks, "That idiot? He's just a dead body that's waiting to be cleaned and shoved in a drawer!"

-

Everywhere, the words are mixing.

Words and lyrics and dialogue are mixing in a soup that could trigger a chain reaction. Maybe acts of God are just the right combination of media junk thrown out into the air. The wrong words collide and call up an earthquake. The way rain dances called storms, the right combination of words might call down tornadoes. Too many advertising jingles commingling could be behind global warming. Too many television reruns bouncing around might cause earthquakes. Cancer. AIDS.

The newspaper headlines mixing with hand-lettered signs. Leaflets stapled to telephone poles mix with third-class mail. The songs of street buskers mix with Muzak mix with street hawkers mix with talk radio.

We're living in a teetering tower of babble. A shaky reality of words. A DNA soup for disaster. The natural world destroyed, we're left with this cluttered world of language.

Whatever.

It doesn't matter anyway. There's no use to struggle, because you can't avert Armageddon anyhow. Really, just ask dinosaurs, if you think any of them survived.

Big Brother is singing and dancing, and we're left to watch. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but our role is just to be a good audience. To just pay our attention and wait for the next disaster.

I stop my hand just before opening the door to the SOS Brigade club.

I grin, the feeling is that I have the best seat in the house. Front row, center.

I throw open the door and say, "Anyone missing their favorite lapdog?"

Inside everyone expect Nagato jumps a little startled by my act, just what I was aiming for. Koizumi sits by the table some tabletop game opened before him as if he wasn't worried about my recovery at all and he smiles, his smile deserving a punch more then ever. Asahina-san stares at me for a while then the tea set she was holding falls to the floor and she puts her hands to her mouth gasping, same old same old. Nagato closes her book and looks up at me, bigger reaction than what I was expecting. And Haruhi stands up from behind computer, her expression unreadable. But we all know who I aimed that question at.

"Kyon..." she says.

"Right," I circle around the table and look out of the window. "I thought it was me who had brain problems. Were you experimenting with lobotomy or something?"

Haruhi shakes her head, "You! You're... okay?"

I grin at her, "What can I say? I'm hard to kill. I'm like a cockroach. You can step on me, but even if I won't survive I'll just keep coming back."

Haruhi looks up at me her eyes trying to tell me something.

"Besides, somebody needs to hold this bunch together," I say. "There's no way telling what's going to happen if I'd left you guys alone for too long."

Nobody laughed.

'Savior' isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind.

"But let's get back to business," I finally break the uncomfortable silence. "I wanted to ask you something, I-"

Out of the corner of my eye, I see smiling Koizumi elbow Asahina-san. Who stares at me, her eyes filling up with tears.

"Well, maybe after the club," I reconsider, sparring myself of the foreseen consequences.

She takes it, which confuses me. Normally she would try to pry it out of me somehow unable to wait for even three seconds. Something's up.

During the club hours, others ask me about my condition. I answer them as best as I can, I lie. Well I don't exactly lie to them, I'm just averting to tell them the whole truth.

I look at Haruhi. She's quietly listening to me.

And then it gets to me. She knows everything. How I know, I don't know. I just do, it's that gut feeling somebody knows your every secret.

About me when I was eight. About my family problems. The ADHD. The pneumonia. The school of the future. Everything.

But, I'm not angry. Nor am I scared of what's coming. Instead, I feel at peace.

The feeling is that now we're even.

I know the truth about her. She knows about me.

Expect the truth about me is the normal kind. Not the reality-warper kind.

Nevermind.

Everyone is packing and Haruhi catches me as I put on my jacket, "So what did you wanted to tell me?"

I look around, "Not now the others might hear us."

"Why is it such a problem?"

I don't answer her until the others leave.

I clear my throat and begin, "I'll say it this way, were you ever in a successful relationship?"

She lets her jaw drop, "What?"

"Who ended your previous relationship?" I say.

"Me! Get to the point!" she shouts out.

I smirk, "So do you want the truth or the jedi truth?"

"What's jedi truth?"

A lie.

"Just tell me what you want already, or I'm out of here!!!"

All right. I heard rumors around town, there's a house where numerous victims spotted ghosts.

"Really? Then why did you wanted them to leave!?" She says, "Call others to meet us at the usual spot!"

Well the ghosts there appear only when there's two people or less.

Haruhi opens her mouth then stops realizing what I'm aiming for.

"Oh... All right, then let's check it out." She stops, "Only the two of us."

I nod.

That's the idea.

-

The crowds of people shoulder around us, the women in red coats and men in santa suits. People are eating marshmallows and chestnuts in paper cones. Snow is everywhere. Somebody steps on Haruhi's foot and she pulls it back, saying, "I don't believe I got talked into this."

"And don't take this for something it's not, all right?" she says, "I'd never-"

Let's not talk shop.

The ground is crisscrossed with thick black cables. In the darkness beyond the lights, engines burn diesel to make electricity. You can smell diesel and deep-fried food and vomit and powdered sugar.

These days, this is what passes for fun.

A scream sails past us. A glimpse of some little yellow haired girl. It's a carnival ride with a bright neon sign that says: The Octopus Nightmare. Black metal arms, like twisted spokes, turn around a hub. At the same time, they dip up and down. At the end of each arm is a seat, and each seat spins on its own hub. The scream sails by again, and a banner of yellow hair. Both the girl's hands are clamped on the guard bar fastened across her lap. A token coin bullets past us.

Haruhi is watching her, "Looks like fun."

See? World is not always just boring.

"I'm not so sure."

I pick up the token.

Why don't we try it then?

-

The ride was fun, but not enough to make her see that the world is the best just how it is.

In her boots, Haruhi picks through the snow and sawdust, stepping over the black power cables.

Holding out my hand, I say, "Here."

And she takes it.
And I don't let go.
And she doesn't seem to mind.
And we're walking hand in hand.
And it's nice.

My hand feels warm, and I think I've opened a new chapter with her.

The carnival rides thrash the air around us, diamond-white, emerald-green, ruby-red lights, turquoise and sapphire-blue lights, the yellow of citrons, the orange of honey amber. Christmas music blares out of speakers mounted on poles everywhere.

So did you ever rode a Ferris wheel before?

"What do you have me for?" Haruhi plays the know it all see it all face, but I know she didn't.

Everywhere, there are men and women, hand in hand, kissing. They're feeding each other shreds of pink cotton candy. They walk side by side, each with one hand stuck in the butt pocket of the other's tight jeans. Watching the crowd, Haruhi says, "Don't take this the wrong way, we're just friends."

You said you liked me.

"That was different. You were there freezing in the snow, I had to say something. You'd have no use for me dead, would you?" Haruhi turns away from me, "Besides, so what? Friends like each other don't they?"

Why are we holding hands then?

She doesn't answer. We look at one pair that got beyond the line of kissing.

There's no friendship between man and woman. Just foreplay.

Haruhi turns to me, "What did you just say?"

You're imagining things.

Haruhi looks up at the Ferris wheel, a ring of red and white fluorescent tubes holding seats that sway full of people, "That looks doable."

You scared of heights?

Haruhi turns to me, "I'm not scared of anything."

A man stops the wheel and all the carts swing in place while Haruhi and I sit on the red plastic cushion and the man snaps a guard bar shut across our laps. He steps back and pulls a lever, and the big diesel engine catches. The Ferris wheel jerks as if it's rolling backward, and Haruhi and I rise into the darkness.

Halfway up into the night, the wheel jerks to a stop. Our seat swings, and Haruhi makes a fast grab for the guard bar. I grin.

Not scared of anything, huh?

She just stares daggers at me.

Hey, don't get jumpy, we're here for fun, remember? You want some caramel corn?

I feel farther and farther away. Looking up, out of the colored lights and into the night sky, we're getting closer to the stars. Someone in the school I was forced to attend once said that stars are the best part of being alive. On the other side, where people go after they die, they can't see the stars. The deep outer space, the incredible cold and quiet. The heaven where silence is reward enough.

I look at Haruhi and realize what has to be done. No I realized that before, that's why I'm trying to get to her. To fix things. Because you can only fight spells with spells and beside her I don't know any magicians.

Anyway, we need to clean it all up. And pretty soon, before things get worse. The Espers. Time travelers. Aliens.

We have to fix it. All of it.

And Haruhi just looks into my eyes unable to hear my thoughts. We rise higher, farther away from the smells, away from the diesel engine noise. We rise up into the quiet and cold. All the crowds of people, their money and elbows and Santa hats, get smaller. The food booths and the portable toilets get smaller. The screams and Christmas music, smaller. At the top, we jerk to a stop. Our seat sways less and less until we're sitting still.

This high up, the breeze teases, rats, backcombs Haruhi's hair.

The neon and grease and snow, from this far away it all looks perfect.

Perfect, safe, and happy.

The music's just a dull thud, thud, thud.

And this is how we must look to God.

Looking down at the rides, the spinning colors and screams, Haruhi says, "I'm glad you understand me."

Huh?

She says, "I think I always hoped someone would."

"...I'm glad it's you."

Her jacket is light blue, but it's not a regular robin's-egg blue. It's the blue of a robin's egg you might find and then worry that it won't hatch because it's dead inside. And then it does hatch, and you worry about what to do next.

On the guard bar locked across us, Haruhi puts her hand on mine.

"Kyon..." she says and I look up at her. "What are we going to do now?"

That's not my name and you know it.

Holding out her other hand, Haruhi says, "Here."

And I take it. And she doesn't let go. And we kiss. And it's nice.

I pull back and see the stars behind her head form a strange ornament. The stars start to pulsate, beat.

I place my hand to her throat pretending to hold her romantically and find her neck's carotid artery. The heartbeat of the stars behind her is set to almost but not quite perfect time with her own pulse. I do not feel reassured.

And Haruhi says, "From now on, we can do anything." She says, "Anything."

I tell her that perhaps what the world really needs is to be left alone.

And Haruhi smiles locking her arms around my neck and says, "Oh Kyon, if you could just hear yourself."

We kiss, and she peels off my jacket. We kiss, and I open the zipper of her jacket. My jacket, her jacket and blouse. I'm touching something I never believed I would.

Here I am, somewhere I never dreamed I'd ever be, I say, I'm falling in love.

And Haruhi, blazing smooth and hot in the center of the light the stars give, she smiles and rolls her head back, saying, "That's the idea."

I'm in love with her. In love. With Suzumiya Haruhi... God, please... have a mercy on my pathetic soul.

Then again, it doesn't seem I'm falling to the dark side or anything. But, still...

And the seat jerk into motion again.

I look at Haruhi and she looks up at me and smiles, "What?"

Your eyes. They're brown. I never really noticed before.

And this is my life.

At the bottom, the carnival man snaps open the guard bar and I give Haruhi my hand as she steps out of the seat. The snow is loose and soft, and we limp and stumble through the crowds, holding each other around the waist. Passing one booth, Haruhi stops us, and the man behind counter asks: What will it be?

"Time for some caramel corn," Haruhi says, flashing her teeth. "Takeshi, here, is going to buy."

And I can't help but laugh.

Some things never change.

Well, not like I can do anything about it. After the carnival I take Haruhi to her house and she says we should do something like this again and pretty soon. Then she kisses my cheek and runs into her house. I don't protest, it's my job to obey isn't it? After that I go home. On my way home I meet two dogs sniffing at something in the snow. One looks up at me and growls, I kick a rock in their direction. I get home, unlock the door and Mom tells me to take out garbage, I take it out and meet Taniguchi outside. He's out on his way to a blind date. We chat for a while about what happened. I don't talk about my progress in the relationship I have with Suzumiya. When I get back my sister irritates our cat and it scratches my hands, it's not that bad but it hurts. I listen to a baseball game on the radio and do my math homework. I watch evening news with my parents and shed sarcastic remarks over the news like there's no tomorrow. Later in the evening my parents, probably tired of me, say I still need to rest and send me to bed. I change and make my bed. I set alarm on my phone and go to sleep.

And I have a dream.

In it I am Phil Marlowe and I am having sex with a goat that was fed with glass shards and barbed wire and don't see it weird at all.

I'm dating a God, there's nothing out there to surprise me anymore.

Now, this is my life.