Error in Calculation


A 'Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi' fanfiction.

Disclaimer: The novel 'Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu'/'The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi' is the creation of Nagaru Tanigawa. No disrespect is intended by the posting of this fanfiction, as I do not own the characters or settings involved. I'm merely dabbling with another set of paints. ;)

Note: This takes place between novels seven and eight. Additionally, a character or two is borrowed from Higurashi, which is the creation of Ryukishi07, but don't read too much into that.

I will tell you a story that I keep hidden from the rest of the story I tell.

Don't look at me like that; a man is justified in keeping secrets. Especially these.

I will refer to a few incidents, which you should remember by now. Firstly, my discussion with Nagato after she had created that alternate reality, during the winter. After that, the snow mountain incident, which I know now was due to the 'macrospacial quantum'... whatever. That thing.

Then there was that time when I realized how jealous I was when a middle-school acquaintance tried to confess to her. And the time that she said nothing when I asked her to arrange for us to spend time together, and then, well, ditched her.

I still blame Asahina-san (big) for that, by the way.

But, I cannot dodge personal responsibility entirely.

Okay, I can, but I reserve that trick for Haruhi.

And this is about Nagato, not Haruhi. Nagato, who I sometimes thought of as an ally, sometimes thought of as a goddess I wanted to seal up in a shrine and worship, and sometimes, but not nearly enough, someone I thought I could protect.

So not long after Asahina-san's kidnapping, before the end of the school year, I had decided that I was going to ask Nagato out. Mind you, I had no illusions about what the experience was going to be like - probably awkward, with her staring at me coolly, and me making a fool out of myself. Someone would also inevitably let it get back to Haruhi, and then I would end up paying the price.

But let us consider that penance for mistreating Nagato.

Perhaps I am needlessly digressing ... but then, you know this isn't the first time. Actually, that's no excuse at all, is it?

To the point, then:

I had asked Nagato to meet me at the cafe that the Brigade frequently stopped at. She had agreed in her quiet, unresisting way, and after meeting up, we took a table near the back together.

She stares at me, her eyes full of liquid light, and says nothing.

"Nagato," I say slowly, trying to find the words, "I feel like I owe you a lot."

Her eyes turn downward, to her bubble-tea. "No problem," she whispers.

I frown as a somewhat familiar looking waitress comes to our table and sets my own coffee before me. At a table behind me, a larger man in a black shirt with a red tie laughs quietly about some joke with his friend in a white shirt. Maybe I enjoy the mostly unchanging reality, and maybe I enjoy the silences that Nagato and I can share; while she's always quiet, I cannot complain about the fact that silence between us means that everything is alright.

"Kura-chan," the man in the white shirt says, chuckling, "you never really have told me what possessed you to transfer all the way here from Okinomiya."

"Ah, well, to be honest, Aida-chan, when I was younger I just thought Nishinomiya would be more interesting ... and at the time, there was a request for more officers to respond to an uprise in yakuza activity, so..."

Well, I don't really care about the specifics of their conversation. I can guess that they're police officers or something, most of the time. But right now, they're two friends enjoying a discussion. Much like I want Nagato and myself to be.

After adding a touch of sugar and cream to my coffee, I shake my head slightly. "It's more than that, Nagato," I tell her, lowering my voice. No reason to allow myself to be overheard. "Just like that cave cricket incident. I get the feeling that somehow, you've done much more than I might ever really know for me."

"It is no problem," she repeats, though for a moment - just a moment - I see a hint of something in her eyes. Something that numbs and chills me. I pride myself for being able to read Nagato, when most people can't. Maybe I'm arrogant and don't see anything more, and maybe I'm just fooling myself and claim to see things that aren't there. But I sense, for just that instant, unspoken sadness.

"It is a problem," I reply, staring at my coffee cup and slowly rotating it on the saucer, fidgeting for no reason. "I ... can't lie to myself forever. But more importantly, I can't lead you on for no good reason."

"What is 'leading on'?" she asks in her soft voice.

She doesn't ask many questions, but she always heads straight for the ones that make me feel like a jerk. 'Glasses fetish' indeed. Heaving a sigh, I say, "It's when a guy is a real prick, er, that is ... an unlikable person, because he ignores someone else's feelings. Or maybe he just acts like he ignores someone else's feelings, either for his own gain, or because ... he's afraid of the consequences."

After a moment, she says, "I see."

"What I'm trying to say," I stumble, awkwardly, feeling my face heat up, "is that ... I don't want to be the one who relies on you for everything and gives you almost nothing in return. I don't know how, but I'd like to ... do something for you. I may not understand everything ... okay, honestly, I may not understand much at all, but all the same, I'm under the impression that your ... instability is my fault."

"It is no problem," she says again.

That's Nagato for you. "And I disagree with you on that point," I grumble. Her frozen gaze turns to me and briefly wavers, reminding me of that unreadable look she had when she released Asahina-san and myself from the stasis field in her apartment. "I want to help you out."

"It was an error in calculation," she replies. "The incident causing the initial error was synchronizing my waveform function with Suzumiya Haruhi's. The temporal and spacial existence that it occurred in is a hypothetical projection-matrix from non-concurrent reality. Sympathy and contagion caused an irreparable loop in logic, which I calculated would not be an issue for..." She pauses, blinks at me. "Nearly six hundred years."

"A...anyone would go crazy after that long," I tell her, thinking of the time loop last August. I didn't have memories of the other instances, but it was maddening just being aware that they existed. It must have been hell for her. And of course, being somewhat spineless, like a weak male lead in a dramatic anime with multiple love interests, I didn't even call her or visit when she took a day off to recuperate.

"I believe I understand what you are saying," she finally said. "However, even if I am sympathetic to the emotions of Suzumiya Haruhi..." She trails off while making a tiny face, reminding me of her struggle for words when she first tried to tell me about what she really was. A sharp cough from someone else in the cafe causes me to glance over my shoulder, but the waitress is already bustling to another table ... it sounded like her voice, anyway. "Not all of ... my feelings are caused by Suzumiya Haruhi," she admits, turning her gaze back to her empty glass.

I say nothing for the moment, drinking more of my coffee.

"But it would be ... inadvisable to act on these feelings. Suzumiya Haruhi's reaction would be ... difficult." Then she blinks, and for a moment, her eyes are shining, moist. "At one time, I attempted to make a world where ... my desires would be realized. You rejected that world."

I shift in my seat uncomfortably. "I rejected that world," I agree quietly. "But that's because the people in that world weren't the people I knew and came to care about. Most importantly ... I rejected that world because even if she looked like you, and had the most soul-melting smile I'd ever seen ... that Nagato was not the Nagato that I've come to know. Eh ... at the risk of being too forward ... she wasn't my Nagato."

She blinks rapidly several times, eyes still moist.

"What I'm trying to say is, if nothing else, I'd like us to be better friends. And I know you have feelings, so ... as much as I can, I'd like to be there for you when you need. Don't just wait for me to call on you ... call on me." I reach a hand across the table, palm up. "If I'm a part of the problem you're experiencing, I'd like to try and also help prevent it from being a problem in the future. And, well, sometimes that may mean calling me out on acting indifferent ... even if- Ah, well, who am I kidding. Even though you're right, and it's the kind of thing that we can't let Haruhi see."

An instant stretches into an uncomfortably long pause, before she cautiously reaches her own hand across the table, setting it atop mine as though afraid that we would explode, like matter and antimatter. Thankfully, that doesn't happen; her small, cool hand rests in mine, and I give it a weak, hopefully comforting squeeze. The tiniest bits of color blossom on her cheeks as she stares at our linked hands; if I were not searching for them, I would not have seen them. Scientific instrumentation powerful enough to detect it may not even exist, yet.

But I refuse to believe it's just my imagination.

"I do rely on you," she says, not looking up. "That is why I no longer have cross-temporal synchronization. That is why I have sealed most major functions away with password protection. It is because ... I trust you."

...I'd be lying if I said I didn't at least suspect that. It's still somewhat staggering to hear, as it's one of the most emotional things I've ever heard Nagato say. "Thank you, Nagato," I tell her quietly, bowing my head. "I'm glad I can do at least that one small thing for you."

She squeezes my hand back, her head sinking a fraction further as she stares into her empty glass.

"Oi!" the larger man calls loudly, rising from his seat and waving at the waitress, his cell-phone in his other hand. "Thanks for the service, but I'm afraid we have to go. Duty calls."

I glance over as his friend pulls a large bill from his wallet. Aida, I think the smaller man is called, asks, "Is this too much?"

"Ah, yes, quite a bit - I'll get change," the waitress replies, ducking her head. "One moment."

"No time," Aida says, shooting me a smirk. "Use some of the extra to cover the couple over there in the corner, if it's not too much trouble."

"Certainly!" the waitress chirps, giving the two police officers a warm smile and a proper bow as they hustle out of the door, handing the bill directly to her.

Nagato's eyes are still watery, as though she was struggling to contain something, but she gives a sharp nod. "It is not a small thing," she finally says. "I should thank you."

Of course, this is me, and the world where Haruhi lives. It is at precisely this moment she walks in, Koizumi and Asahina-san behind her. Mine and Nagato's hands both dart away from one another, mine nearly knocking over my coffee cup as I snatch it and almost choke on the now cooled drink, trying to act casual. Asahina-san looks charmingly bewildered, as always, and Koizumi's usually unreadable expression shows mild disappointment at me before he covers it up.

"'Couple'?" Haruhi asks, storming past the waitress. "What's going on here? I demand an explanation!"

"Instant scene," I sigh, setting my coffee cup down. "Just add Haruhi."

"And what's that supposed to mean?"

Nagato quietly explains, "I was asked to assist in studying."

Yeah, that sounds about right. I try to offer to help Nagato, and it all comes out as me relying on her even more... What a shock. I'm probably spineless enough to pilot a giant robot. Maybe even a whole squad of robots, which all link up into an even larger giant robotic spineless wimp.

"What, I'm not helpful enough?" Haruhi demands, looming ominously overhead, arms crossed over her chest as she glares down at me.

"Well, we can't all be as accidentally brilliant as you," I tell her. "Some of us struggle. Anyway, what are you doing here?"

"I can believe it," she says, sighing, shaking her head. "Well, when your cell phone went straight to voicemail, I called your house, and your little sister told me where to find you. Turning your phone off to ask Yuki for help studying and trying to hide it from the rest of us? You really are dumber than a bag of rocks!"

"Thanks," I reply dryly. Also, note to self: Never tell my little sister anything about ... let's go with anything, again. Ever. "At least I have my charm and wit."

"I really doubt that first part," she says skeptically, uncrossing her arms and dragging another table next to the one that Nagato and I share. "But sure, you can be amusing sometimes."

"So, you see me on the level of a trained monkey, dancing for an organ grinder to amuse you?"

Her eyes light up. "Ooooh!" she enthuses, her grin widening. "That's a great costume idea, Kyon! It'll be even better than the reindeer!"

...why do I do this to myself?

"We'll find some small cymbals, and-" Haruhi blinks suddenly, halfway lowered to her seat next to me as she stares at Nagato. "H...hey, Yuki? Yuki-chan? Are you alright? What's wrong?"

"Nothing is wrong," she answers, blinking, two tears escaping her eyes, rolling down her cheeks.

Haruhi stares, working her jaw, then I'm suspended by my front shirt collar, Haruhi manhandling me - as she always does. How does someone shorter than me lift me into the air, you ask?

Very casually, as it turns out.

I wish I could say otherwise, but I cannot. It seems my fate to lose any struggle with a woman, but especially Haruhi. Please, don't let my little sister discover this weakness.

"Kyoooooon," Haruhi growls, "what did you do to Yuki-chan?"

"Nothing," Nagato says, her voice unchanging, despite the tears trickling down her face. "I am ... happy."

"You don't look happy," the demonic Brigade leader comments, dropping me to the floor where I fall to my knees, almost collapsing into Haruhi. She absently grabs the back of my shirt collar and pulls me closer to her, incidentally pressing the side of my face into her hip as she stares intently into Nagato's eyes.

Hey! Doesn't this seem even the slightest bit inappropriate to you! Not that I terribly mind- Wait! I don't acknowledge that! Forget about that part! I assure you, I am full of resentment for the current situation, and only my completely powerless state in a struggle with a female prevents me from trying to escape!

Yes. That is exactly it, now let us never discuss it again. I reiterate: Never again.


Moving on.

"Okay!" she relents abruptly, shaking her head. "If study sessions with Kyon mean so much to you, I'll allow it. But if he does anything I don't approve of..." Her gaze turns to me, her smile widening to a manic, world-devouring grin, eyes gleaming with the fury of a million suns. I believe she has added-attack paralyze, because I cannot move when she stares into my eyes.

This is beyond unfair, considering that my loss was already a foregone conclusion. You don't need cheat codes when you get to level 99, Haruhi.

"You will wish it was merely a hundred death penalties!" Then she lets me go, smacking my shoulder playfully. "Give her your handkerchief, you jerk," she orders.

"Yeah, that's me," I sigh, climbing back into my seat and handing Nagato my handkerchief. She efficiently dabs at her eyes and folds the cloth back. "Go ahead and hang onto that for now," I add, when she seems uncertain what to do with it.

She nods, holding it in both hands, a tiny smile coming to her lips. "Thank you," she says softly. "I am glad."

"I'm supervising these study sessions," Haruhi warns as the waitress approaches. "He really is hopeless. It'll take all of us to get him respectable grades."

"Na...Na...Nagato-san was crying?" Asahina-san asks, her eyes wide as she seems to partially recover from her shock. "'s smiling now!"

"This is interesting," Koizumi agrees, shooting me a look that promises one of those epic lectures I've learned to lump in with anything said by a teacher, ever. That is to say, I will ignore it.

"Well, of course she's smiling now," Haruhi says, rolling her eyes. "With all of us beating study information into Kyon's skull, she won't have to endure being around an idiot so much!"

On a personal note to Haruhi, though one I will not speak aloud: I STRONGLY DISAGREE.

But I digress. "Can we talk about something other than how dumb I am?" I ask.

"Yeah, okay, next order of business," she says, turning to the waitress and stabbing a finger at me, "since he made Yuki-chan cry, even if it was because she's happy, he's covering all of us. So, everyone, order whatever you want!" The waitress giggles quietly and nods, brushing a strand of pale green hair out of her face and giving me an encouraging wink after Haruhi turns to the menu.

Business as usual, I suppose... While the others are ordering, I casually lean my face on one hand, incidentally hiding my lips from Haruhi. I silently mouth the words, "Afterwards, library?" to Nagato.

Her eyes shimmer slightly and she gives that tiny nod she uses, her smile widening the merest amount. That's enough for me ... for now, anyway.

Author's notes (08/31/'10): And ... done. Revised. *ahem* Hopefully this will break us out of the Endless Eight loop. How many times have I posted this chapter, I wonder...?

Technically, this could be a standalone fic that has nothing to do with the previous chapters, which are somewhat AU, while this could more likely fit into the cannon universe.

I really didn't expect the police angle to chew up as much text as it did. It was kind of fun, even though I failed to maintain the genre (this is a Haruhi story, after all). I didn't write Itsuki terribly well, and that's a fault of mine for being relatively new to the media.

I enjoyed writing this story, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. :)

And yes, on occasion, my pro-Yuki bias has been mistaken for a moon by escaping rebel starships. What of it?