When Haruhi arrived I was already waiting on the street, humming a cheerful tune to keep my spirits up - the opening melody from that history show with the sun rising over the horizon.

"Well?" Haruhi snapped as she stalked over to me.

For once that girl was dressed to suit her natural beauty. Jeans and sneakers, and a pastel-patterned long-sleeved shirt with a piece cut out to expose a diamond of skin above her breasts. I was surprised that girl's brain contained such an ordinary concept of 'sexy', a middle ground between school uniforms and bunny suits.

"Very good," I said. "This should work for the plan." It was indeed what I had requested: fashionable, without being conspicuous for a schoolgirl; and not something you would worry about getting dirty, if you had to get down on your knees and elbows to crawl.

Haruhi's eyes narrowed. "That's not what I mean, you! What is this 'place' we're -"

I looked at my watch. In just 2 minutes we'd be behind schedule.

"What schedule?" stormed Haruhi.

I began to move toward the entrance to that structure, the dominating skyscraper, the tallest building in this area of downtown. The morning sun blazed through the clear, calm air and gleamed like a hundred golden spotlights off the straight, flat sides of the towering building.

Haruhi followed, making bloodthirsty threats in an effort to obtain information. However, I had done some reading on the foreign concept of 'romance', and I understood that 'mystery' was an important quality in boys, and that to explain everything right away would destroy the 'mystery'.

"Follow my lead," I instructed Haruhi in the confidential tones of a spy, "and don't say anything suspicious once we're inside."

Haruhi was outraged at my insolence. She did not, however, seem bored. Sometimes I thought I understood how to handle this girl.

We stepped through the great glass doors of the skyscraper.

"Ah," I said uncertainly as we came to the entrance desk. "We have an appointment to see... Kimura Ryuuichi-san on the 49th floor?"

With a bored expression, the salaryman at the desk picked up a phone, dialed, spoke. He asked for our names, and I provided the aliases that Koizumi had given me to memorize. Then we were directed over to a security guard standing in front of an elevator bank, and we were waved through.

I glanced over at Haruhi to see how she was doing. To her credit, she was keeping an ordinary passive expression on her face. When she saw that I was looking at her, she let her eyes widen just once in incredulity before relaxing them again.

I would be a lying bastard if I claimed that I wasn't enjoying this part.

The elevator took us up to the 49th floor, and we got off. The elevator closed behind us, and went on its way -

Then, rather than moving toward Ryuuichi-san's office, I stepped over to the call button, and pressed it.

Ding! Another elevator had arrived, and Haruhi followed me in, shooting me another look of incredulity.

"Kyon!" Haruhi whispered. "Why are we just going back into -"

I took a small, white cube out of my pocket and held it up to the elevator's reader; it beeped, and a red light flashed to green. Then I punched the button for 60, which was as high as the elevator went, and we started rising.

"We had to get off at 49 earlier," I explained, "because the security might have noticed if we didn't stop at the original floor. Don't worry, Ryuuichi-san knows we're not really coming."

"Kyon!" exclaimed Haruhi. "What was that? Where did you get it!"

"I borrowed it from someone who had access to advanced devices," I said blandly. "Someone who really wasn't supposed to lend it to me, so I know you'll understand that I can't tell you the name."

(The kindly-natured Asahina-san had wanted to do something to help. I don't think she expected me to use the device in plain sight of Haruhi, but that wasn't a very consequential matter by comparison.)

"Kyon?" said Haruhi in a tone of shock.

"The next part is tricky," I warned her. "Once we get off, keep silent and follow me until I tell you otherwise. Be sure to stay calm. Oh, and try to walk quietly."

Haruhi opened her mouth to say something, and at that moment, the elevator dinged. At once she closed her mouth.

There was a time when I would have danced across the rooftops of the city in celebration of finally finding a way to make that girl shut up. To have her do so at my orders, with that look of helpless indignation in her eyes, would have been like an impossible dream that could only fall as a blessing from somewhere even higher than Heaven. I still felt that way, to be honest.

The elevator doors opened, and we stepped out onto the 60th and highest floor into a small entrance vestibule with four doors. Thankfully there was no one else present. I went to the third door, without opening it, and held up a finger to Haruhi to indicate that we should wait.

After a short while, I heard faint footsteps from the other side. I brought up my wristwatch and began counting seconds.

23 seconds after the footsteps passed, I turned the doorknob - it rotated freely, indicating that Nagato had successfully dealt with that security system - and carefully opened the door to reveal a long, grey-carpeted corridor studded with doors.

I walked through, trying to let my sneakers hit the floor with little force. It still made a little noise, but not so much that the security guard would hear, I thought. I softly closed the door behind us - glancing down at my watch again as I did so. Then I walked off in a certain direction, Haruhi following behind me. In accordance with the natural laws governing this type of situation, that girl walked much more quietly.

I counted off the doors as we passed, glancing at my watch the while. The ninth door had a keypad next to it. I tapped code 3499027 into the keypad. Then I painstakingly opened that door, and let Haruhi pass through before stepping through myself and carefully closing the door behind.

We now stood in a stairwell, wide and windowless and strictly utilitarian with white paint. There were no stairs down, and the top of the stairwell was around one and a half stories above us, separated by two flights.

Rather than continuing forward, I held up my finger again for another wait, looking intently at my watch. In a short while we heard footsteps passing the door to the corridor. I kept my finger up for another 30 seconds after that, then moved toward the stairs.

Haruhi followed. As for the expression on her face, it was indescribable in ordinary language. You would have to engage a poet specialized in praising the beauty of girls who are confused as hell. I think a day like this might be the best in my whole entire life, and I hope it isn't the last.

At the top of the stairs was a door with signs saying things like "Keep out" and "Danger" and "Alarm will sound". I pushed it open without a qualm, mentally thanking Nagato again.

We stepped out, and just like that, we were there - in the location which (I had reasoned out) was the best possible place for me to do this.

The roof of the skyscraper was a huge wide space which no one had bothered to beautify in the least, just a flat plane of dusty light metallic-grey. There was a short raised ledge to mark the border with the air, so that from where we were standing in the middle, you couldn't see the lower world at all.

I had worried about winds, since winds are faster as you rise higher. The air at ground level had been calm, but up here there was a steady wind that blew against my skin, and now and then a sudden gust - still, nothing that would knock a person over. There were no clouds at all in the terribly pure, sapphire-blue sky. Really, you would have to call these ideal conditions.

I glanced over at Haruhi to make sure she was all right and still flabbergasted, and then I began to walk toward the nearest boundary of the roof.

"I don't think we should be standing up right next to the edge," I said, "but if we crawl on our hands and knees when we get close, we should be safe from vertigo or a gust of wind."

Haruhi was following. "Is Kyon an international jewel thief?" she asked. Her voice sounded surprisingly calm.

Of course not. If I myself was an international jewel thief, I wouldn't have needed to borrow that device from a friend.

"Well then, are aliens from outer space going to come here and take us off this roof?"

If that were to happen, it would mean that my plans had failed.

"Kyon," Haruhi said.

There was a note in her voice that I had heard before, but only very rarely.

It was the emotion that a casual acquaintance would think was unknown to Suzumiya Haruhi, that concept called "concern".

Haruhi looked serious.

"This doesn't seem like something Kyon would do. Isn't a place like this a little dangerous? What are we doing here?"

I stopped walking for a moment, and looked at her.

"Haruhi," I said, "it can be hard to talk to you sometimes, did you know that?" I had to pause then, and take a deep breath, and exhale, and then do it again. Certain words had been waiting in my brain for an endlessly long time now, and the process of finally expelling them was putting so much tension into my voice, it was a wonder that my vocal cords didn't rip themselves apart.

"I mean," I said when I could speak again, "if right now, in this serious situation, I were to just completely ignore you, and laugh, and go on doing whatever I was doing, you would be a little put out about being ignored like that, wouldn't you?"

Haruhi's eyes were wide. I guess the amount of pent-up anger in my voice was so great that even Queen Oblivious of Oblivia had noticed it.

"Because that's what you do, Haruhi, all the time. You just go ahead and do whatever you please, and you don't accept any requests from the people you drag along with you. Like our existence isn't worthy of your notice."

I had to stop, then. I was aware that my hands were shaking. I felt a sense of distant surprise; I had no idea there was so much bottled up inside me.

This wasn't how I'd meant things to go. Not at all.

Haruhi opened her own lips again. She had a cautious look on her face.

"I'm sorry," Haruhi said.

My jaw dropped open. Completely literally, I would have expected the world to end before I heard Haruhi say those words.

"I had no idea Kyon felt that way. Why didn't you say something earlier?"

"Say something?" I said. There was still a lot of tightness in my voice. "What good would it have done to say something? Under ordinary circumstances, it's impossible to have a serious conversation with you."

Haruhi looked at me. Then, "Maybe I should just keep apologizing," she said, "but that would be giving up my own pride. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, but the fact remains that Kyon never said anything."

I complained about your behavior many, many times! I couldn't count the number of times using exponentiation, tetration, or up-arrow notation! You never listened to a single thing I said!

"You didn't indicate you were being serious!" said that girl in a tone of indignation.

I SAID that I was serious! I said, 'Seriously, Haruhi' and 'I'm being serious now, Haruhi' and many similar phrases!

"That's just a figure of speech!" shot back that insane girl. "No one would think you're really being serious if you say it like that!"

We were alone up here, and there was no realistic way that anyone could hear us no matter what happened, so I threw back my head and screamed "GYAAAAAHHHHHHH!"

When I was done, I felt a little better.

Haruhi was staring at me. "Is that why you wanted to have this conversation on top of a skyscraper?"

Ironically, no. That was just an unplanned side benefit.

"Then why are you doing all this? This isn't the sort of thing Kyon does!"

My mouth twisted. "You know, Haruhi, I really used to lead a boring life before I met you. Just like all those people."

"All those -?"

I turned and began walking again, toward the boundary of the skyscraper. As the vast ground and horizon far below us came into view, I dropped to my hands and knees and began crawling forward, just in case there was a gust of wind, or my brain decided to make me fall over.

I reached the edge, controlled my breathing, stuck my head out over the border ledge, and looked out on everything.

Of course it wasn't everything. Not really. It was only a tiny, tiny fraction of the Earth. And yet there were so many more cars, so many more houses, so many more buildings, and the tiny people, so much more life than I could comprehend. How long would it take just to talk to all the tiny dots that were visible from here, and hear out their stories?

Looking out over that vast panorama, my imagination couldn't help but picture a curtain of grey nothingness sweeping across it -

I drew back my head from the brief artificial ledge. I swallowed hard, and tried to suppress the feeling that I was going to throw up. I had the feeling I was a little more afraid of heights than I had realized just from riding on rollercoasters. My plan hadn't accounted for that.

So I drew back, and watched Haruhi look out over the world...

As she looked, some of the concern eased from her face. Soon Haruhi was relaxed, smiling, delighted by the view.

Of course that idiot goddess wouldn't be afraid of heights.

Finally Haruhi turned her head away from the world, and looked at me. She said, "It really is much more beautiful like this than just looking out a window from high up."

My own lips opened. "I have a lot of things I want to talk with you about, Haruhi," my voice said. I was surprised by how gentle I sounded. "This conversation may not go like you expect. Even so, can you please take this seriously, listen to me seriously, and reply to me seriously, if it's just for one small hour?"

"Of course!" said Haruhi.

Ugh. That 'Of course!' didn't sound too promising. "I mean it, Haruhi."

"If I say I will, I will," Haruhi asserted. She shot me a look as if to say 'Stop questioning me.'

Sigh. Maybe that girl got to be God by virtue of being the ultimate island of stability.

I raised a hand to gesture out at the panorama, and began.

"All those people," I said. "The ordinary world. According to all the stories, this ordinary world is what the extraordinary people try to protect. If you read a comic book about superheroes, it would be about superheroes defending all those everyday lives. The superheroes wouldn't be trying to cure AIDS or feed starving children in Africa or otherwise change the world. We have scientists for that sort of thing. No, a superhero is someone who defends that ordinary, everyday life from the forces that try to change it. Even if those stories come from our imagination, still, those are the people we praise above all others."

Haruhi was looking a little surprised, as though shocked that I was capable of philosophy deeper than ankle-deep. Still, she opened her mouth in reply and poured forth her own thoughts on the subject:

"I vehemently disagree with that attitude."

I nodded. Haruhi could hardly be expected to agree with any words in praise of normality. "But it's an ordinary human instinct to want to preserve the status quo, because if the status quo is broken, you could lose everything you already have. To gain anything beyond your current life, or even fix something terribly wrong in your current life, you have to risk losing what you already have. It's like how it's prohibited for us to be on this rooftop. With us kneeling down like this, we won't fall, and a gust of wind won't blow us off the edge. So why isn't this beautiful view available to everyone? Well, but what if we decided to throw a bowling ball off this building? Since this rooftop is 262 meters high, the bowling ball would fall for 7.3 seconds and strike the ground like a cannonball at 248 kilometers per hour. If someone did manage to fall off this rooftop, then the normal laws of physics, which don't care about human beings any differently from bowling balls, would dictate that they die. To obtain the joy of this beautiful view, people would have to risk something they already have. Losing something you already have is much more painful than giving up a possibility that hasn't been realized. That's why most people allow themselves to be trapped in normality, even when it's uncomfortable. And the S.O.S. Brigade doesn't have any right to look down on those people, Haruhi. Because even in the S.O.S. Brigade, you might find people who were afraid to move forward and reach for more, if that risked the status quo we call 'the ordinary world'."

Haruhi nodded slowly, to show that she had seen through the hidden meaning of my words about our relationship.

Of course she didn't really see at all.

I looked back out on the world. "But you know... things always change, and therefore the status quo is always lost. If things can't possibly stay the same way forever, then when will I confront the risk? Is it better to wait until we're older, when our youthful idealism has been ground down by the many compromises an adult makes in order to be successful? Or is it better to just let things slide, not thinking about the distant future, until finally it all falls down? I think that's what the people who defend the status quo might not realize. And -" My voice stumbled. "And I'm afraid too. It's not even that I found my courage. I just realized that it wasn't possible, in the long run, for things to stay this way indefinitely. What happens when you're thirty years old? What happens when you're ninety years old? In the long run, the status quo can't possibly persist. Once I realized that, it wasn't even a question of courage any more. Just a question of timing. So I want to try talking with you a little more honestly, Haruhi."

"All right," that girl said. "What did you want to talk with me about?"

I swallowed. "It might seem a little odd, but... by way of introducing an important topic... I would like to change the subject back to the one that you introduced the day before yesterday."

Haruhi blinked at this. "New costumes for Mikuru-chan? Oh! You mean the topic of God."

There was a moment of silence. Haruhi was looking puzzled, and as for me, the words seemed to be sticking in my throat again.

"Well?" Haruhi said. "What does theology have to do with our - I mean, what does theology have to do with anything?"

Breathe, I told myself. "I remember I once saw an online debate between an atheist on the one hand, and a theologian on the other hand. The debate was about faith. What does Haruhi think about the concept of faith?"

Haruhi looked puzzled. "Well, obviously it's a crutch for weak-minded people who don't understand science."

I coughed and tried to suppress a grin. Certainly a statement like that was very characteristic of Haruhi, but - "Don't you think that some people might criticize you for holding that stance, and simultaneously wanting to meet psychics, aliens, and time-travelers?"

"I want to meet them," Haruhi stated firmly, "not believe in them. Rather than resting on faith, I am trying to test my beliefs and obtain evidence. Therefore, my attitude is scientifically correct."

I wasn't sure Richard Feynman would have agreed with that. "The atheist in the video asserted that the concept of 'faith' had been invented by religion to protect beliefs that could not be defended by any other means. In other words, it's like someone telling a lie about being sick, who, when challenged, has to forge a note from the doctor, and then later, give a phone number for the doctor which connects to a friend's cellphone. If you had to keep on defending a lie for long enough, you would eventually invent the doctrine of 'it is virtuous to believe no matter what'."

Not surprisingly, Haruhi approved of the atheist's stance.

"But," I continued, "the theologian shook his head sadly, and said that the atheist was naive about the emotional depth of the experience of 'faith', that it wasn't a concept invented by culture, but a feeling built into all human beings. In proof of this, the theologian offered the analogy of someone who's told that their lover has been unfaithful to them. If the evidence wasn't conclusive - and if you really loved that person - then you might think of everything they meant to you, and everything that you had done together, and go on putting trust in them. To trust someone because you love them more than anything - we would even call this believing in your lover. This, the theologian said, was the emotional experience at the root of faith, not just a trick of argument to win a debate. That's what an atheist wouldn't understand, because they were treating the whole thing as a logical question, and missing out on the emotional side of everything, like Spock. Someone who has faith is trusting God just like you would trust the one you loved most."

Haruhi's gaze was abstracted, probably looking for hidden meanings in my words. "And what did the atheist say to that?" she asked.

"Oh," I said, "I think he shook his head sadly, and commented on how wretched it was to invent an imaginary friend to have that relationship with, instead of a real human lover."

Haruhi laughed aloud. "I think the atheist won the debate."

I wonder what the theologian would think if he knew God had said that - or the atheist, for that matter.

In my mind I visualized the Earth as seen from above in the photos taken from spacecraft, a great glowing blue-white orb. In my mind I visualized the stars. Slowly turning, the Earth, forever shining, the stars. I tried to draw strength from that image, since I couldn't exactly pray to God.

It was time to risk something I already had.

I muttered something about needing to stand up, and walked away from the ledge a little. I couldn't look out at the panoramic view of the city without imagining a grey curtain sweeping across.

I turned back to Haruhi, and said:

"But trusting a friend who turns out to be imaginary isn't the most awful thing that could happen to you. Not by any means."

Haruhi furrowed her brow. The awful tension was coming out into my voice, now.

"I mean," I said, the words shaky, "what if you believed in God, and trusted God, and it turned out that God wasn't worthy of that trust?"

Haruhi was starting to look anxious. Anxious and confused.

Suddenly the cellphone in my pocket gave two silent buzzes, the signal for a Sealed Reality forming - a large one, but not a huge one, not yet.

"Kyon," Haruhi said - her own voice was tense now - "what are you talking about?"

Besides her being anxious, I also saw that Haruhi was squinting as she tried to look at me, since the morning sun was behind me. So I stepped a little to my left, so that my shadow would fall on Haruhi. From her perspective it must have looked like I was a darkness blocking out the Sun.

"I'm talking about the Riddle of Epicurus."

And I spoke the words which I had burned into my memory.

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then she is not omnipotent.
Is God able, but not willing? Then she is malevolent.
Is she both able and willing? Then whence evil?
Is she neither able nor willing? Then why call her God."

Haruhi stared at me.

"I mean," I said, my voice trembling, "this world - this world where children go hungry and die, where children get sick and die, where children are abused and even sold into slavery, where a hundred and fifty thousand people die every day - this world can't be forgiven, Haruhi. If someone deliberately made this world like that, then she couldn't be forgiven either. For the longest time I didn't think about that. I just went to school on weekdays. Maybe I can't be forgiven for that, either. Conventional religions try to talk about free will, which doesn't make any sense for letting children be born with uncurable diseases. Conventional religions talk about God's inscrutable wisdom. Can you think of a good reason for God to do that, Haruhi? If," I swallowed, "if you do have an answer, I'm willing to hear it out."

Haruhi, who was beginning to look frightened by the way I was acting, shook her head.

"I didn't think so," I whispered, "I didn't think there could be an answer to that." Then, raising my voice again, "So where does that leave us? If you eliminate the atheistic answer to the Riddle of Epicurus - that there is no being of omnipotent power - then that leaves the possibility that God is, is malevolent." Something seemed to be blocking my throat. "There are stories like that in H. P. Lovecraft. That God created the whole universe as a dream to entertain itself, just because it was bored; and it doesn't mind when the people in the dream suffer. Maybe God is entertained by the suffering, or maybe God just doesn't care one way or the other. Wouldn't that be the most terrible betrayal of all? If you trusted God like trusting the one you loved most, and it turned out that God was a monster that created the world out of boredom to divert itself, absolute power and absolute callousness? If God's true heart is like that, some alien uncaring thing, then we're all doomed anyway, and the world might as well end sooner rather than later. I don't want to live if God is like that!"

"Kyon." Haruhi's own voice was breaking now. I looked at her, and she looked just like an ordinary school girl, dressed prettily in jeans and sneakers and a shirt with a diamond cut out above her breasts. Not alien, or cold, at all. "What - what is this -"

"But," I whispered. My voice strengthened. "But, the Riddle of Epicurus doesn't exhaust all the possibilities. Like Koizumi said, the truth might be outside the conventional categories. I mean - what if God were omnipotent, but not omniscient? What if she could do anything, and didn't know it? What if she honestly didn't know that she had the power to do something about the world? What if she wasn't even thinking about all the horrors of the world, just like I wasn't thinking about them for so long? Then God might, might, she might even be a good person after all. Someone who would save people and take care not to shatter the Earth, if she knew that she was God." I was crying freely now, the tears running down from my eyes. "She might really truly be, a good person."

"So I've decided to trust in God," I said, and now I was smiling even through the tears. "I will believe in God with all my power. Because I have faith in you, Suzumiya Haruhi."

Haruhi stood up. She walked closer to me. Her arms twitched for a moment, like she wanted to reach out to me. "Kyon," she said, her voice wavering, "please stop. Please explain. I don't understand what you're talking about."

"I'm talking about you. You're God."

The endless wind blew across the deserted rooftop of that skyscraper, as though we were the only two people in the universe. In my imagination, if not in reality, the whole universe held its breath, waiting for God to respond.

"I still don't understand," said Haruhi. "Is it a metaphor for -"

"It's not a metaphor for anything. You're God, Haruhi. It's not a figure of speech or a koan, it's a plain fact. The answer to the great question of theology is 'God is Suzumiya Haruhi'."

Haruhi's face twisted. She looked as if she was trying not to burst into tears.

In my pocket, my cellphone vibrated three times. Well, you would expect a girl to be upset if the boy she liked had gone insane.

"You're thinking I'm crazy," I said. "You might find the idea a little odd, but it's not something I just made up. I was also surprised when I first heard, but I've seen unmistakeable things over the last two years, and there's no doubt that it's the truth. Will you hear me out? I can offer you evidence -" And I took a step closer to her, so that I was almost touching her, and leaned forward slightly -

"Don't!" Haruhi said fiercely, and she took a step back from me. She was starting to cry, now. "Don't you dare kiss me, Kyon! A kiss isn't evidence! A kiss isn't something that couldn't possibly happen if I'm not God! I won't let our first kiss be so sad! I won't let our first kiss be wasted like that!"

I took a deep breath. This was it.

"Our first kiss was two years ago, beneath a grey sky, within the school grounds as they were destroyed by blue giants, on the night you almost erased and remade the world."

Haruhi paled. I'd thought that was a figure of speech before, but her cheeks literally went white as the blood drained from them.

And I stepped closer to her again, and I said those same words again, which I'd never forgotten:

"Though you may not know it, there are all sorts of people who are very concerned about you. It's not ridiculous to say that the world literally revolves around you. Everyone believes you are a very special person, and they've tried to back up those beliefs with actions. You may not know it, but the world is headed in a very interesting direction."

Haruhi was utterly frozen, now. Then her lips fluttered a little and she whispered, "What now..."

This was the thing she had said last time, two years ago, at this point.

"You know, I really like you in a ponytail," I recited.

"What?" Haruhi whispered the appropriate reply.

"I don't know when, but since then, I can't stop thinking of you in a ponytail. I think that suits you best..."

"What's gotten into you?"

For the second time in my life, I leaned over and kissed Haruhi. I kept my eyes open, this time. Both of us were crying, but I don't think it was a sad kiss.

This was when I had woken up, last time, but today this world was still here. The script from before had run out. Now it was time to continue and move forward.

"...and I like you, Haruhi, and I want to date you. But before that there's one last thing I have to do first. I have to awaken you. I want you to wake up, God, because of the good you could do in the world, and all the prayers that no one is answering right now. I want you to wake up, God, for the sake of the ones who are screaming and who would give anything for it to stop, and for the sake of all the countless people in the world who are quietly unhappy. And maybe I'm even doing this, because faith can only last for so long before you need evidence, and I want to be sure of you, Haruhi."

My throat closed. I would have prayed, then, if there had been anyone to pray to except the slight girl standing next to me.

But my prayers weren't answered. Haruhi's face didn't suddenly light up, she didn't suddenly say, 'Oh, I am God!' Beneath the tears, her face still looked confused.

"What happens if I believe all this?" Haruhi said, her voice trembling. "Am I supposed to try and create... a banana or something?"

I had been afraid it would come to this.

"No," I said. "I don't want you to try that. Up until now the world has been sustained by your common sense, that you don't believe things like that are possible. I suspect that if you just tried to make a banana or something, your common sense would prevent you from doing it, and then you would become even less confident and the whole task would become harder. You might even acquire the belief that you can't do anything, and I don't know what would happen then."

I slowly circled around Haruhi. She turned herself to track me. Soon it was me who was facing Haruhi and the Sun, and Haruhi who was looking toward me on a line toward the edge of the skyscraper's roof.

"So you're not going to try to create a banana," I said. "There's no reason for you to slowly level up and unlock your powers. A hundred and fifty thousand people die every day, which works out to one hundred people dying every minute, so I don't think we should take time for that. I think that trying to do it slowly would just worsen the chances of success, anyway. Instead you're going to wake up and realize your capacity as God in one shot. I believe in you, I trust you, I have faith in you, and that's how it's going to be." This was why I had brought us here in the first place.

I leaned forward again and kissed that girl. I hugged her desperately, and inhaled the scent of her hair.

Then I stepped back, and stepped back again.

"You have 7.3 seconds."

I whirled and dashed for the edge of the roof. I think I was half-expecting Haruhi to move faster and grab me back, but it seems that I succeeded in taking her by surprise.

Her scream came just as my foot was launching me off the ledge.


But the sound of her voice dwindled rapidly.

I'd imagined myself looking back up toward her as I fell, but in retrospect that couldn't happen; the world whirled crazily about me and I had to close my eyes almost at once. If there was a grey wave sweeping across the world, I didn't want to see it, anyway.

Trust in God -