Disclaimer: I do not own The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya or any of its characters. I also do not own any of the materials referenced in this story either. This was made for entertainment purposes only and not for profit. So there you go.

A/N: Well, well, well. Hello, my dear readers. I trust that you all know what today is. As a treat to commemorate this very special day, I decided to post this chapter up for you all on such a spooky night.

Besides the date, this chapter is also very unique for another reason: I was given the help of my very good buddy, Greg Zerich. You all may know him as the author of the fanfic known as "The Severance of Haruhi Suzumiya". A big round of applause for him on this. Forgive me for any OOCness on my part.

It is also worthwhile to mention that some parts of this chapter were inspired by the Dr. Who episode "The Empty Child". Feel free to read this collaboration of ours in the dark if you want. Might enhance the experience.


That is what the figure asks of me. A question I can't answer. The voice: hollow, but disturbingly familiar. Recognition flits on the edges of my mind, but fails to fall into place.

Maybe I don't want to know.

As the shade makes its way towards me, the streetlights go out as it passes, obscuring it. The sky is equally unavailing. It's like the world wants to keep me in the dark. Whether or not I should be thankful for that fact is something I have precious little time to contemplate.


It asks again. Even if I knew the answer, I'm not sure that I could bring myself to speak it. And yet as it draws closer, that is the only thing that it asks. The same tone, the same volume, like a record-player stuck skipping over and over.

It's getting too close. I move to run, but find myself unable. Whether it's fear that paralyzes me or something else entirely; it doesn't matter.

As it reaches out to me, I'm terrified. And yet, something else is present as well. But what? I can't let it touch me. I must let it touch me.

What have I done to deserve this?

Its outstretched hand is inches, centimeters, millimeters away.

I woke up with a jolt, knocking Shamisen clear off the bed. Any other cat might hiss or somehow complain about being so rudely awakened, but I guess my sister's rough treatment of him has made him somewhat used to it.

Yet, when I look at him, why does it almost seem like he somehow is taking pity on me? I know that animals are empathetic to their owners, but the way he looks at me...

Ugh, my mind is playing tricks on me. It was just a nightmare. Everyone has nightmares. Looking at the clock, I can see that it's a little past three in the morning. Tomorrow is yet another mystery search, and if I don't get back to sleep I'm barely going to be able to keep up, because while I'm sure that Nagato or Asahina would have pity on me, the one person that arguably matters most sure won't.

As I lay back down though, I can't shake this uneasy feeling. We all have nightmares, even recurring ones. But why is it that I think, no, that I know I've had this exact same dream before? More than once even? Why does it feel like I haven't slept in days, maybe weeks?

Haruhi, if this is your doing, then I don't know what I need to apologize to you for, but I'll bow so low that my head gets enough ground penetration to make an ostrich jealous.

Although of course they don't really bury their heads in the sand.

Before I can start digressing further into the habits of various flightless birds, a buzzing calls my attention. The slight glow of my cell receiving a call fills the room. But who would even bother at this hour?

As I take the phone into my hand and manage a bleary-eyed glance at the caller I.D., I see a name which is both comforting and troubling.

Troubling because if she's calling at this hour, then something is definitely wrong. Comforting because if this is a bad situation, there's no one I'd rather have by my side.

"Hello, Nagato."

No confirmation from the other end of the line, not even the sound of someone breathing, but then again, since I don't think she needs to, I don't find it that odd.

"You're obviously not making a pleasure call, so what's happening this time?"

"There is a situation developing which requires immediate response."

Immediate response, hmm? While I don't think I'd have too much trouble getting out of the house, part of me curses the fact that life-threatening, earth-shattering situations never have the courtesy to wait until the morning or afternoon to present themselves.


"All right, Nagato. Just tell me where you need me to be."

Sneaking out of the house to go see Nagato hadn't really been all that difficult. I'd gotten some dark-colored clothing on, snuck out the back, and ridden my bike all the way out in the darkness. Oddly enough, none of this felt the least bit strange to me. Amazing what getting involved with Haruhi has gotten me used to.

As for the spot I'd agreed to meet Nagato at, it wasn't really that far away. I'd actually gotten to be quite familiar with the area. The same park where Nagato had taken to her apartment to tell me about herself and Haruhi, and where Asahina had revealed herself to me as a time-traveler from the future. This place just seems to be a magnet for attracting things from out of the ordinary.

Just like last time, I spot Nagato already waiting for me. She's wearing her everyday uniform and with her hands folded upon her lap. Just the way she has not moved at all and keeps staring straight ahead in her seat reminds me of a China doll. Though Nagato can hardly be considered frail. I roll up and park my bike to the side of the wooden bench she's sitting on. Slowly, but surely, she turns her head to face me while I approach. Something about her face tells me something is definitely up.

Call it intuition.

"Hey. I got here as fast as I could, Nagato. Sorry if I took so long," I greeted, giving her a small wave. Nagato continued to stare, silently rising from the bench. I was prepared to follow her, just in case.

"Your timing was perfect. The situation in question has not happened yet," Nagato replied to me. So there's still time to handle whatever is about to take place? Well, that's good to know.

"Where are Asahina and Koizumi?" I pondered out loud, checking for any signs of the time-traveler and esper. I thought for sure that that perhaps Nagato would have invited them along if the problem we were facing was serious enough.

"Mikuru Asahina and Itsuki Koizumi will not be appearing tonight. This matter does not deal directly with them. I only require your assistance," she responded plainly. Just me for this one? Okay. I think I can handle it.

Then without so much as another word, Nagato turned and began to walk down the main path of the park. Unsure of what was to come, I began to roll my bike alongside me as I followed after her. Wasn't long before I was able to catch up to her.

"What's happened? Does it have to do with Haruhi?" I ask inquisitively.

Nagato did not turn to face me as I spoke to her, but still answered back. "The Integrated Data Thought Entity has informed me of a drastic change occurring in the data of this world. Something that even I did not anticipate."

Nagato not anticipating something? Now I knew this was bad.

"What didn't you anticipate?"

This time, Nagato fully came to a stop. My breath caught in my throat the moment she slowly turned to look at me. I never really noticed it before, but in the moonlight, her eyes are a very beautiful shade of amber. Or is it gold? Great. I'm trying to dodge the problem of the week that Haruhi may or may not have caused by commenting on my extraterrestrial friend's eyes. Nice. The petite humanoid in front of me seemed to open her mouth for a fraction of a second before she shut it again.

As if she were hesitating.

"...Do you remember when I briefly possessed Haruhi Suzumiya's ability to control data?" Nagato's voice sliced through the stillness of the night.

Of all things, I was not expecting her to bring up that touchy subject. The memories of what had happened during winter break came rushing at me like a stampede of bulls. How could I not forget the events of that experience? No one remembering Haruhi and Koizumi, Asahina and Tsuruya not knowing who I was, Asakura actually stabbing me, an emotional Nagato, and the fact that I had actually had to rescue myself... Very hard to actually forget an experience like that.

But what did that have to do with this?

"Yeah," I answer. "Be a long time before I ever forget any of that other world. But why bring it up? I thought that when you rebooted this world, the other just sort of... vanished."

Nagato almost seemed to lower her head somewhat, so that she was now facing my chest. "You are somewhat correct in that assumption. When I reset this world to its original formatting, I dispersed all trace amounts of data pertaining to the alternate world. They remained in existence, but unable to be entered as another reality."

I think I understood what Nagato was getting at. She may have technically erased that parallel universe, but a few harmless trace amounts of it remained behind. Kinda like when you delete something on your computer. It's gone, but not forever. Just moved to someplace else where you can't see it.

"All right. I think I'm following along with what you're saying. But what does that have to do with tonight?" I inquired anxiously.

"There is about to be an anomaly entering this immediate area. The data surrounding it originates from the other world."

Nagato's answer was as clear as ice and chilled me to the core.

"But... From the other world... Coming to... Nagato, what do you mea-"

Before Nagato could even answer me, she suddenly turned her head to the right. I followed her gaze, thinking she may have spotted someone or something in the park or coming up the path. Nothing except the few scant lampposts lining the side of the road greeted us. I would have asked her what she was looking for, but I was interrupted by the flickering of the nearest lamppost. It buzzed erratically, the next one copying it. And the next and the next. They continued to blink in and out of power until they just sort of stopped altogether. A soft wind began to blow towards us, scattering a handful of dead leaves .

"What was that?" I had an inkling of a feeling that this wasn't natural.

"It's starting to breach this reality. We have less than two minutes," Nagato spoke, instantly breaking out into a small run. I didn't question a thing and went right after her, abandoning my bike right there. Nagato kept running a few feet ahead of me, but went at just enough of a pace for me to keep up with her. I followed her out of the park entirely, dashing out into the street in the process. I was briefly afraid of Nagato and me being spotted by someone who might find a pair of teens running around at this hour strange, but the streets seemed completely devoid of cars. Not even a garbage-truck. Not wanting to question my luck, I continued to hurry after my lavender-haired friend as she ducked into a dark alley between a small store and a shop of some kind.

It had to happen somewhere dark, didn't it?

Panting from my romp, I came to find to find Nagato standing still in the passage. A dumpster took up the left side of the alley, sprigs on grass poked out of the cracks in the cement, and the end of the alley curved to the left. Nagato took a step into the shadows, one delicate foot at a time. Her fingers were curled into small fists at her side. I couldn't see her face, but I guessed she was probably scanning the area in front of her for whatever we were looking for.

But just what is it that's so bad?

Nagato, who seemed to have read my mind, turned her head over her shoulder to look at me. "It should occur in three seconds. Stay close."

"Already? But just what is going to occur in three seconds?"

Speak of the devil, I got my answer in three seconds. A faint glimmer of light began to emanate from corner of the alley up ahead. Like two foolishly curious fish seeing the glow of an anglerfish in a trench, Nagato and I began to move towards the source of the light from around the bend. I wisely stuck behind her the entire time we crept forward. I listened carefully for any tell-tale signs of movement. What I heard sounded somewhat similar to the low crackling of electricity. Something lightly scraped against the pavement.

Nagato started off without me, confidently striding down the alley without a care in the world. I trailed right off after her. At the end of the curve, Nagato faced the direction of the light, and... just sort of stood there. She did not go any further. Nor did anything lunge out of the alley and attack her. Seeing her nod subtlety at me, I took a deep breath, and stepped into the light to see what had gotten her attention.

When I did, I felt as though all of the air had been sucked out of my lungs.

I could not believe what I saw lying on the pavement before us. It just couldn't be. I had been expecting a slider or some sort of monster to be waiting for us in here. But instead of that, draped across the bottom of the alley at Nagato's feet... was another Nagato.

I stared right down at the duplicate in awe. She was lying flat on the earth on her stomach, bathed in the light of a hole from the wall that I had just barely noticed. It was just about the size for a person to crawl through and filled with what looked like the static that appears on a television set. Before either of us could take another step, the hole crackled with grey electricity that licked the wall around it. It gave another sizzle, shuddered, and just shrank to the size of a pea. Gone.

But I had another questions- like who the person that I was kneeling down next to was.

The purplish hair, the sailor uniform, the angelic face that was lying with her cheek pressed against the ground... Everything was the same. Right down to the last detail; a perfect match. The main differences that distinguished them were the numerous small tears in her clothes, her right arm bent at an angle, scratches and bruises on her legs and face, and a pair of glasses on her face. The left lens had a spider-web crack in the center. Wisps of smoke curled up from her body, carrying the scent of electrical-burns and something coppery.

I knew it.

It was her.

"Nagato! Is this... Is this really who I think it is? Is this who you wanted to show me?"

"Yes. This is the alternate version of myself that I created using Haruhi Suzumiya's power. She is the reason I required your assistance."

I felt dizzy; like I was literally going to just faint right there in this dark alley. "But why is she here? How did she get here? I thought that... that... Why is she here?" I sputtered in confusion.

Nagato walked over to where I was crouching near her double. "This alternate image that I created was made from the same exact data as my own. I based her basic model off of myself, but with suitable changes in behavior that I theorized that you would prefer," Nagato explained calmly in contrast to my tense situation. "...However..."

An icy feeling in my gut arose. "However, what?"

Nagato folded her hands across her lap, staring down at me with an almost saddened look. "...However, it seems that when I deleted the universe created for you and my copy, her data refused to disperse."

I was even more confused by now. "Refused?"

"At first, I could not detect any traces of my copy. I assumed she had been reformatted back to the data of this world as a part of me once again. But during these past few weeks, I gradually began to sense her presence from beyond this reality. It was faint at first, but grew stronger over time. I managed to place to place a lock-on system to pinpoint where she would emerge into our world," Nagato explained to me.

All of that information was way too much for me to take in. I... I... can't even begin to think of what she's been through. Did she get here through just sheer force of will? Walking through whatever separates our worlds just to get here? Oh, god, there shouldn't be this many cuts on her. Is that blood on her face? Is she even breathing? I extended a hand towards her to try and pick her up, only for Nagato to grasp my shoulder.

"Do not make contact with her."

"Why not? We have to help her! She could be dying!"

"Expose to the coding of the barrier that separates our worlds has corrupted her data. Making any physical connection with her will surely have a negative reaction to your state of being. Her body and mind have degenerated to low conditions."

I slowly stood up, now wary of the girl who lay on the ground. "Corrupt data? So... what will happen exactly if I touch her." Again, Nagato said nothing. Never a good sign.

"Please tell me this is a joke, Nagato. Tell me it is. Your bosses are just trying to get a reaction out of me aren't they? She's not real, is she? Is she? If it is a joke, it's not funny at all." Damn it, what's wrong with my voice? It's cracking up and I'm having trouble even seeing straight.

Nagato just peered down at me as if I were a small child in trouble; this stare of hers just made me feel so uneasy. "Humor. Often used as a coping mechanism in high-stress situations."

You can certainly say that again. Whatever I had planned on saying next went unheard of as the alternate universe version of Nagato suddenly jerked herself up from the ground in a flurry of limbs. I sprang away, standing away from her in surprise at her unexpected movement. The alternate Nagato was now set directly between me and my own Nagato. She stares straight at the brick wall ahead of her with widened eyes, just breathing heavily. Her ragged breath made puffs of white in the cold air. Her exposed legs pulled themselves close to her body as she adjusted herself to a half-sitting position. In the moonlight, I saw a hideous bruise just above her left kneecap. She propped herself on the ground with only one arm, the other still limp. Broken.

I nervously stood and watched, while my Nagato remained in her reserved stance. The alternate Nagato continued to inhale and exhale, only to start a coughing fit. I don't even think she has noticed us yet. I was thinking about getting her attention by saying something, until a wet, violent cough escaped her mouth. She brought up an arm to her chest and spat a gob of blood that splattered the wall in front of her. She hacked and spat a few more flecks after it, turning the ground a dark red.

That was when she paused and turned in my direction. She blinked once and gasped softly. It really was her. She looked so weak and pitiful that I just wanted to cradle her in my arms. Blood dribbled from her lips, her eyes were streaked with tears, the left side of her chest was bleeding, and a tiny cut was planted on the right side of her cheek. But she still looked beautiful in my eyes.

"...Kyon?" She practically breathed the word out . I had to strain my ears to hear her. "...Kyon? Is that... you?"

"Y-Yes. It's me, Nagato. It's... wonderful to see you again," I said shakily to her. What else was I supposed to say to her? She didn't even look like she had noticed the real Nagato yet. Speaking of which, she was just staring right at her clone's back with an indifferent expression.

The Nagato in front of me continued to lie there on the ground with a confused expression. But as I stared into that tired face of hers, I saw her face began to change. Her eyes observed me closely as she unsteadily began to climb to her feet. I began to offer a hand out of instinct, but drew back when I recalled Nagato's warning. The alternate Nagato finally managed to prop herself up onto her feet by using the side of the building for support. She clung to it with her working arm and stared right into my face. She wore a mixed look of sorrow, happiness, and resentment.

Wiping the blood off her lip, she opened her mouth and spoke.



"Why?" she asked me again, taking a step towards me. I instinctively back away from her. This only served to make her narrow her eyes at me.

She was angry now.

"Why did you leave me?" she demanded, her voice carrying a hint of poison in it. "You chose this other world over my own. You didn't even give it a chance. You abandoned me. You betrayed me. Everything began to fade after you left us. I lost everything and everyone. I hated you for that. I started to forget things... You're so selfish..."

My heart ached in my chest.

She titled her head to the side and began to ramble and murmur random words that I couldn't make out. "Nagato, what's wrong with her?"

"Her emotional state has eroded considerably. All of her feelings- my own feelings- have mingled together to revive her."

"Then this is how you really felt about my decision? All of the emotions and thoughts you pushed aside? They..." I gestured to the coughing Nagato replica. "...all make her up?"

"...Yes. The two of us are connected. She felt your presence through me. That's how she was able to locate a way into our dimension," Nagato answered stoically.

"Why?" gagged the alternate Nagato, spitting up a bit of blood on her stained uniform as she stumbled towards me still. "Why did you leave me? Why? What did I do? ...Kyon... I missed you so much." Her expression went from mournful to a sort of dazed smile as she lurched in my direction.

The scent of burned fabric, flesh, and blood got even stronger. I kept backing away from her, seeing the blood she had left on the ground. Smoke curled from it like her clothes had. It sizzled where it fell. What would happen if she were to actually touch me? And why does this all seem familiar?

The smile on the alternate Nagato's face was suddenly replaced by one of pain. "Ahhh...!" She gripped the shoulder of her broken arm. "Please help me, Kyon. It really hurts."

"I'm so sorry about what happened to you and your world. I wish I could help you. I didn't want anyone to get hurt!" I gabbled, nearly tripping in a puddle of filthy water. "But this is my own world. I already have a Nagato of my own! She's my friend!"

As if finally noticing her counterpart for the first time, the alternate version of Nagato turned around and saw the real deal standing a few feet away from her. She turned back to me, looking depressed.

"But I don't want to be your friend."

"What?" I asked, my brain already trying to wrap itself around what she had said.

"Why do I have to be just your friend? Why? I wanted... I want to be more than just friends. I want... I want... Wh-"

The sound of metal piercing through flesh spilt through the air. I dropped my jaw at the sight in front of me. A shining white blade of energy had burst through the human Nagato's crimson chest. Her tiny feet dangled inches over the ground, while her mouth was open in a silent scream.

And attached to the end of that blade was the arm of my own Yuki Nagato.

"Estimated amount of consciousness left, one minute, twelve seconds. Estimated completion of data acquisition, one minute, seventeen seconds," Nagato deadpanned. At those words, tiny white sparks began to eat away at the feet of her doppelganger. I couldn't believe what I was watching. It was like with Asakura all over again.

"K-K-K... K... yo... n... I... I..." the stabbed girl in front of me gurgled. Her blood still dripped to the ground, where it sizzled like an acid.

"Nagato, you're hurting her! What are you doing!" I yelled, running to her side. I thought about shaking her arm to see if that would even do anything, but the look in her eyes told me not to try anything crazy.

"Trust me," she said.

Knowing Nagato had never failed me before, I obliged. I could only watch in silence as the sparks continued on the glasses-wearing girl until they reached her stomach. I watched helplessly as the bloodied version of Nagato turned around to look at us.

She shot me a pleading look and sighed. "I just wanted to make you happy."

And then her head slumped forward. Both of her arms hung limply now. A few more seconds remained until she was gone completely. Looking at the ground, I saw there were no remains of anything that would have proved she was here. No footprints or blood. Her hand reverted from its sword-form, Nagato brought it up to her face to observe it, like she was inspecting a broken nail.

"What did you do to her?" I asked in the uncomfortable silence of the alley.

"Her very presence threatened to corrupt the rest of this world if she were to remain free. So I was tasked with containing her coding within my own," Nagato said, looking to me at the last part. What? So she's inside Nagato's head or something?

"So she's not dead? You just downloaded her or something? She'll be okay?" My heartbeat began to slow down in relief somewhat. Still didn't make me feel any less like a complete monster at what I had done though.

"In a way as you put it, a download. I have stored her within my own memory to keep her from corrupting anything. She was not have supposed to have emerged from the data-flow like that. A part of me I couldn't erase that easily. But..."

"But what?" I inquired. "Aren't we done here?"

Nagato looked down at her feet. "Not quite. The real task comes now."

Oh, no. "Just what does that mean exactly? I thought you asked me to come out here because you wanted to show me your parallel-self. I didn't even do much of anything, now that I think of it."

"Tell me," Nagato said in a voice like a whisper. "Have you been feeling odd this night?"

"What do you mean by that?" I said back, now feeling creeped out.

"Feeling bouts of nostalgia."

I rubbed the side of my head in contemplation. "Now that you mention it, yeah. I feel like I'm really familiar with certain things this night, Nagato. But how would you know about that?"

Nagato stepped out into a bright patch of moonlight, her gaze locked with mine. "Because you have relived this exact same night a total of fifty-five times."


Did I hear that correctly?

"What are you saying?" I began, shivering. I stared directly into her face when I noticed something. Something on Nagato's face that I knew she did not have before- a cut on her cheek. "Nagato, your face..."

"So it has already started then..." the alien drawled, touching her face. I looked down at her body and saw what appeared to be minuscule cuts being ripped into her clothing. Like invisible razors were slicing away at her. An ugly bruise sprouted on her knee, going from the size of a coin to an apple in seconds.

"Nagato... What's happening to you?" I asked quietly, dreading the answer.

"On this very night, my duplicate entered this world from the new one I had created. Her data had been corrupted from wandering the realm of junk-space in search of a wormhole into our own. I was instructed to contain her data within myself. Unfortunately, my superiors had no way of noting that the infection would spread to myself. On that very night, I was with you when I... changed," Nagato explained in her monotone voice.

"You mean you're being changed into... your other self? How is that even possible? What does this do with the night repeating!" I nearly screamed at her. Suddenly, my feelings of déjà vu and the nightmare didn't seem so far-fetched anymore.

I was trapped in another time-loop once again.

"My copy and I are one in the same. What happens to her data, happens to my own." At that, Nagato raised her left hand to her mouth, balled it into a fist, and coughed. My unease turned to fear when she pulled it away, blood dripping from it. "The process is nearing the final changes..."

Nagato swayed uneasily on her feet, tottering backwards before she regained her footing. She grabbed her head with both and hands and grunted. Seeing her like this was completely surreal. I'd seen the Nagato from the other world display emotions, but this... this was just unnerving.

"Nagato, tell me what's happening, please," I begged to her. I needed to know what was going to happen and what I could do to help her. I stuck out a hand to comfort her. Rather than remain still, Nagato crept away as if my arm were some kind of monster.

"Do not make contact with me. I could harm you with a mere touch," she rasped, breathing heavily. More blood trickled out of her mouth in a ghastly puddle. "I have set this night in a time-loop in order to give you enough chances to discover a way to help me and keep the viruses within me from spreading. The night will reset itself should I place you in any danger that will prove fatal."

So all those times I relived this night, I died? Almost died? My, god...

"What do I do to help you?" I yelled, not caring if I woke anyone up. "Tell me, Nagato!"

"You must talk to... You must find... " Nagato sank to her feet, with her face in her hands, knees pulled up to her chest. A shudder went through her body.

"Yes? ...Nagato?" I took a step closer. "Nagato?"

Nagato did not reply back to me. Instead, she lifted her face out of her palms, and swayed on her feet. Locking eyes with me, she breathed out one word.


Incredible how that single word nearly caused my knees to give out from under me. What happened next was something that I felt was intensely familiar, yet would be burned into my memory for all eternity. For a moment, I saw a gleam in Nagato's eyes and assumed them to be tears even though she wasn't crying. But it wasn't tears that I saw shimmering- something else. Her eyes almost seemed to be forcing themselves out of their sockets like a fish's eyes. I looked away from Nagato's face to her body while she rose, a dark red patch the size of a tea-drop becoming visible on the left side of her chest. It continued to grow at a steady rate, the spot becoming damp. Nagato began to cup the area with her left arm, grimacing while the blood seeped between her fingers. Her other arm now hung limply from her side now. It just sort of swayed like a pendulum in front of me.

Something was also making its way out of the skin across the bridge of her nose. A small, thin, clear band of some kind that's connecting itself to the glassy bulges. It pushed itself from her nose, the two clear protrusions from her eyes following them. They flattened themselves in front of her eyes and stayed there. Similar-looking bands rose up from along the sides of her head, causing her hair to rise as they settled themselves behind her ears.

It took me five seconds to realize what had just come out of Nagato's face.

A pair of glasses with a cracked lens.

Her transformation to my nightmare was complete.

"Why?" she moaned, stepping towards me with one raised blood-stained hand. "Why did you want to leave?"

I quickly looked behind me. Rows of stores lined the back of the alley. A long stretch of road lay in front of me. Without another thought, I ran for it.

"Why? Why are you running... Come back to me, Kyon..."

I felt like raw energy was surging through my legs, I looked back to see Nagato slowly loping after me. That distraught look she wore made it all the harder to keep running from her. Her grabbed a hold of a white building's backdoor for support before she continued her pursuit. I swear, she left a bubbling hand-print on it.

"Why did you leave me? Was it for her?" she wailed after me.

I kept running until I reached the end of the alley. The clouds had covered the moon now, covering everything in a near blackness. Nagato still had quite a ways to catch up with me. I thought about running into the street for help when I quickly realized how bad that was. What if by chance, someone saw her stumbling around in the middle of the street? A girl covered in blood with a broken arm was sure to attract attention. Someone might try to help her and... I didn't really want to picture what would happen to a human being instead of a pile of stone or brick.

"Why?" came the cry from behind me.

Digging around in my pockets, I took out my cell-phone and flicked it open. I had to divert her somewhere where she couldn't escape or encounter anyone else. Maybe I could goad her into one of the back buildings and keep her there while I called someone on my cell. Who the hell would know what to do at this hour? Asahina wouldn't be of much help since we were in a loop and Koizumi and his agency probably wouldn't know how to fix her. Wait... Maybe... Maybe I could try Emiri Kimidori! She was Nagato's superior, so she would have a good way of knowing about what to do. Point me in the right direction at the most. I quickly flipped my phone open and scrolled down to her number, grateful that I had taken the time to ask her for it from that one meeting with the Student Council. Giving another look to see how far along Nagato was, I listened to the sound of ringing on the other end.

One ring. Two rings. Three rings. Pick up, Kimidori. I really need some help here. A fourth ring followed, and then the sound of someone picking up. I heard some static, followed up by a voice that I was not expecting.


I nearly dropped my phone in shock. Nagato's voice continued to pour out of my cell, the same word repeating over and over again amidst the static.

"Why? Why? Why? Why?"

I shoved it into my pocket in a panic. I would have to run there instead. I gave another look to see where Nagato was.

"Why?" she groaned, hand inches away from my face.

I will not lie. I screamed right there. Fell right on my ass and onto the cement. I scrambled through some more puddles and ducked down a passageway to my right. My fear propelled me through trashcans, boxes, and recycling-bins lined along the path. I couldn't see anything in this new alley, besides my own hands. I didn't dare to check if Nagato was behind me anymore. I ran through who knows how many back-alleys and even a lot, until I came to a path with light from a lamppost. Without thinking, I ran for the turn.

I ended up coming face to face with a chain-link fence.

I clawed at the fence and shook it roughly. Too narrow for me to squirm though and no dirt for me to try to dig through. I even tried to climb over it, but my shoes kept clipping off through the small holes. I felt like a fox in a trap, awaiting the hunter to come and collect me.


I spun around with my back to the fence. Nagato had found me.

"Nagato, you don't want to do this. I know you're still there somewhere. I want to help you," I reasoned, trying to see if the old her was still in there. At first, she just stared directly at me with unblinking eyes. She started walking again, her right arm still dangling lifelessly. The lights along the tops of the buildings lining the alley blink out completely as she advances.


This is it. Nowhere to run now. I'm reliving my nightmare for the fifty-six time.


Oh, god, she's nearly on top of me now. Just a few more inches and I'm done for. I don't know what will happen if she manages to touch me but... I don't want find out. It's no mistake that I'll probably die. But that's not what truly scares me here. Oh, no. The worst part of it is that I'm about to die at the hands of one of my most dear and closest friends. The irony is not lost on me. After all we've been through together, this is how it ends.

Well, this is not really the end. Just a part of another endless cycle I've fallen into with Nagato. Only much worse. I get to actually see her suffer visibly this time. I totally blew it. Just like all those other times, I bet. How many times will this loop go on for?


Nagato reached out to me with one blood-stained hand, the tips just barely touching the front of my shirt. I swear, it felt like someone had touched me with the tip of a branding iron. And yet, I still wanted to hold her and tell her everything was going to be all right. Her pleading eyes meet mine one last time.


Everything fades to black once again.

I woke up with a jolt, knocking Shamisen clear off the bed. Any other cat might hiss or somehow complain about being so rudely awakened, but I guess my sister's rough treatment of him has made him somewhat used to it.

Yet, when I look at him, why does it almost seem like he somehow is taking pity on me? I know that animals are empathetic to their owners, but the way he looks at me...

Ugh, my mind is playing tricks on me. It was just a nightmare. Everyone has nightmares. Looking at the clock, I can see that it's a little past three in the morning. Tomorrow is yet another mystery search, and if I don't get back to sleep I'm barely going to be able to keep up, because while I'm sure that Nagato or Asahina would have pity on me, the one person that arguably matters most sure won't.






Wait, why am I thinking about Nagato at the moment? I don't know why, but it's like there's something at the back of my brain that is telling me that something is wrong. I can't place it, but something just feels out of place. I feel like I've forgotten something from my dream, but I can't remember what. Shamisen is now settling himself into my lap as if to comfort me. I absentmindedly scratch him behind the ear in thanks.

What do my nightmares and Nagato have to do with each other?

Before I can begin to ponder more about this case of paranoia, the ringing of my cell cuts through the silence. I crawl over and gingerly pick it up. I'm getting a sense of foreboding from it, and I haven't even answered. What is wrong with me? Haruhi, if this is your doing...

I take one look at the name on the caller I.D. with my blurry eyes and an odd set of feelings overcome me. A mixture of relief and... familiarity. Again, it's almost like a feeling of déjà vu. I try to force the feeling away, brushing away some sweat on my brow. I flip my phone open and place the receiver to my ear.

Even as I hear the sound of complete silence on the other end, I still can't help but feel that I've somehow done this before. But I'm absolutely sure it's nothing to get that worried about.

"Hello, Nagato."

A/N: Thanks for helping me out, Greg. You were awesome to work with on this.

As for the rest of you all...

Happy Halloween.