The Courtship of Suzumiya Haruhi

Prologue: In which a plan is decided upon.

A 'Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi' fanfiction.

Note: This fic is a sequel to The Blunt Force Trauma of Suzumiya Haruhi. It may not make much sense if you haven't read that, first.

Disclaimer: The novel 'Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu'/'The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi' is the creation of Nagaru Tanigawa. I do not know the producers yet, but the animation company responsible is Kyoto Animation. 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. ;)

Every story has a beginning, but it's hard to look for the start of this one. I could say it started when I met her. I could say it started when she rewrote the world. Or, I suppose, I could say that it started four years ago, when everything came into alignment.

And by 'everything', I mean autoevolution: the control of memetic information through social structures to realign reality. The advent of the espers: their battles to save reality from destruction at the hands of Celestials in Closed Space. A fracture in time-plane conjunction: a rift that that prevents all time-planes prior to this one from lining up correctly, denying access to the past from the future.

I think I got that right.

Anyway, I suppose it would be easiest to say that it started long before I let myself realize it. Most of these things do, really. The risk of reacting rather than acting.

So, why don't we go to the point where I stopped reacting? Let's call that the beginning, even though it isn't, really.

This would be about a month and a half after Suzumiya Haruhi was assaulted by a classmate, a Taniguchi Yosho. At that point, I knew what I had to do.

I just hadn't done it yet.

Patience; these things require time!

Our club room has become very comfortable, after all of the work that Haruhi put into it. Presently, it is myself, Mikuru, Yuki-chan, and Koizumi, because our leader is absent.

"Where is Suzumiya?" Koizumi finally asks, once the calm becomes nerve-wracking.

I'm trying an experiment, though it mostly boils down to trying to unnerve Koizumi. The trick is to do it without frightening Mikuru -- which is quite difficult. "Well," I say finally, "as it happens, she's trying to convince the faculty to release the SOS brigade from standard school responsibilities for a few days to take a trip to Hokkaido."

"Hokkaido?" Mikuru asks wonderingly, peering down into her teacup. "Why there?"

Koizumi nods. "A mysterious death, according to the papers," he says after a pause. He looks down at his teacup. "A high school student was found beaten to death in a train station, and there are no witnesses to see how he arrived. Security camera footage didn't show him entering the station, so no one is sure how he got there."

Yuki-chan, unperturbed, merely flips to the next page in her book. Today it's 'Interface'.

"O...oh," Mikuru says, voice trembling. "W...why would Suzumiya-san want us to go there, though?"

"It's mysterious," I say, before Koizumi has to explain further. "And it has to do with that time that Haruhi knew what she was."

He nods, and explains anyway. "According to the dream ... the backup that Nagato-san gave me," and for this she looks up, but doesn't raise her face; her eyes shift to him momentarily, and then go back to her book, "this matches what happened there, almost."

"Oh," Mikuru says in a tiny, timid voice. "Is it dangerous?"

And then Koizumi gives me that patently superior and condescending gaze -- if I hadn't learned that it was as friendly as he could get, I'd have gotten quite sick of him, I assure you -- grins, and says, "I have no idea. He wasn't one of the Agency, though. I can tell you that much."

", are we going there?" Mikuru asks worriedly.

"I doubt it," I tell her.

Koizumi looks over sharply. "Is that so?" he asks, his facade fallen. Excellent; a strong step towards unnerving him.

Mikuru is even more agitated, not the intended goal. "I have things well in hand," I tell her. "Haruhi will almost certainly be shot down by the teachers today. She might make a stronger effort tomorrow, but I can interrupt her with a suitable distraction."

This calms Mikuru down, and Koizumi readopts his aloof expression, though I sense a certain nervous tension hidden behind it. "Will you share your brilliant plan with us, then?" he asks.

Damnation. He's unflappable, I tell you. That's the best I'll get out of him. No way to do it without making Mikuru sob.

"Yes," I allow tiredly, trying to keep the annoyance from my gaze. No need to let him know.

But this is a good time to enjoy my tea and allow the silence to stretch dramatically, anyway. It's not like I'm wasting minutes of animation, or anything.

Koizumi waits patiently. Mikuru waits, glancing nervously between myself and the other club members. Yuki-chan finishes her current chapter, moves her bookmark, which I doubt she actually needs, closes the book, and stares forward blankly, not really meeting anyone's gaze.

Sadly, my tea, and thus my ability to taunt Koizumi (I apologize, Mikuru, but justice dictates that I at least try) are not infinite. I set the teacup down, glance towards the silent hall, and ponder. In an anime, Haruhi would appear just in time to hear my plan, and ruin everything. In a novel, she would hear it through the door without me realizing it. Other mediums would undoubtedly offer other, equally annoying and transparent devices to destroy my plan, or make things unnecessarily difficult.

So I rise from the table and turn to the teapot, filling my cup again. As I do so, the door slams open, and Haruhi growls, "They won't let us go!"

"Go where?" Koizumi asks, as I turn around and retake my seat. Mikuru collects herself and shuffles a deck of cards before her, shooting one brief, questioning glance at me before she deals them out. What are we playing, anyway?

"Hokkaido," Haruhi says, taking her seat at the computer, resting her chin on her fist, glowering at the keyboard. Her pensive gaze tells me that she's more upset and worked up about this than I had expected. "There's a mysterious circumstance there -- the kind of thing that we should investigate! But the school board doesn't want to let us have time off! They have no respect for the importance of the SOS Brigade! Sometimes I wish--"

"Hey," I interrupt her, before she can finish vocalizing her desire, "it seems that you're still forgetting context. This group is supposed to investigate mysterious circumstances, but right now the police are investigating it. I've read the papers, and obviously you must have too, or you wouldn't have known. We've seen somewhat more mysterious things in our time, and all the same, it happened on a train. What would we investigate?"

"Maybe it's the place itself!" she protests, distracted from her railing against the faculty. Probably that is for the best, I might add. "The station where it happened!"

"Or the train car, which I'm sure is either a crime scene we can't access, or already moving who-knows-where across Japan."

Mikuru blinks at this, her face paling. " think ... a car that someone had died in.... I mean, when I get on the train myself...." She looks faint, with the cards only half-dealt, her hands trembling. "Ooooh," she groans, sinking in her chair.

Haruhi glances at her, frowning, then turns her attention to me. "You're such a kill-joy," she grumbles. "This could have been something big! Why are you so against it?"

"Maybe I'm not," I counter. "But hear me out, let me explain that first, will you?"

"Fine," she grumbles, while Koizumi unobtrusively takes the cards from Mikuru and resumes dealing where she left off.

"We can easily make a project out of investigating it from here," I say, when I am left with five cards. Koizumi picks up his, then absently passes stacks of chips to the other players. Poker, I suppose, which I am terrible at. Haruhi raises one eyebrow in skepticism, as though to say I am suggesting we all buy into a cover-story for a complex conspiracy.

"Running off wildly without paying any attention is the kind of activity that will only land you in trouble -- as I think a certain notebook a month or so ago should remind you." This prompts a wince from Haruhi. Koizumi makes a thoughtful noise, and nods to Mikuru. She shakes her head, rousing herself from her faint, though she's still somewhat pale. After a glance at her cards, she pushes some chips into the center of the table.

"But, we'd just read the news?" Haruhi asks doubtfully. "That's it? That's a whole plan?"

Yuki breaks from her book long enough to study her hand, and push a slightly larger stack of chips into the center of the table. I pick up my cards and pretend to look at them, though in reality, I don't care. Koizumi or Yuki always win this game. I push slightly more chips onto the table than Yuki.

"'Just read the news'," I say sighing. "Information analysis and logic can carry us a good distance, can reveal facts that a casual glance could overlook. Going in head first would allow anyone with something to hide to know that we were people to hide things from."

Koizumi matches, calls, and then Mikuru hesitantly discards two cards. Yuki discards three cards, and then ignores the replacements Koizumi deals her, turning the page in her book. I rest my hand on my five cards and shake my head slightly at Koizumi. I'm sure his cards are better than mine anyway. When he draws only one replacement card, my upcoming loss is a foregone conclusion.

"We're not information experts," Haruhi says, crossing her arms over her chest. "What is that kind of long-range analysis good for? That's such a boring method!"

"If there is a conspiracy or cover-up, would we want to alert the people involved that we were people to be dealt with?" I ask, raising one eyebrow.

Haruhi's eyes widen slightly. "Well.... Maybe," she says. Then she becomes more animated, her face lighting up as she leans forward. "No, we'd absolutely want that! That would be a huge windfall! With open opposition, we can prove that a conspiracy exists for certain!"

Mikuru raises, Yuki glances at her three new cards, and also raises, and I absently push the rest of my chips into the pile, causing Koizumi to emit a quiet, frantic strangling noise before he slides all of his chips in, too, shaking his head. After a moment of hesitation, Mikuru gives me a weak smile and slides her chips in. Yuki follows suit, and Koizumi sets his cards on the table, face down.

"Open opposition might prove to be dangerous, if such a thing exists," the esper remarks, though his expression is still genial. I wonder if that will get through to Haruhi; Koizumi is almost never willing to go against her ideas.

"I don't want people to chase us!" Mikuru says quickly, shaking her head and clutching her cards to her chest.

Yuki turns the page in her book.

"Don't be a coward like Kyon, Koizumi," Haruhi encourages him. "That's _exactly_ what we need!"

"Assuming this conspiracy and cover-up exist," I say, holding one hand out to forestall further commentary from Haruhi, "we would be best informed by knowing what the cover story is. The more known details from the official story we have, the better prepared we will be when we we actually investigate. If there is a discrepancy, we will know it immediately, perhaps well enough not to react, and stay below the radar of any watchers."

"But, if we're subtle like that it'll take forever! Wouldn't it be better to be found and chased? Think about it! Action movie escape sequences! Car chases! Explosions, and, and--" Ah, Haruhi ... so excitable. She is much more formidable when she's fixated.

"Haruhi," I say sternly, dropping my extended hand to the table. "A boy was killed. If he is only the merest obstacle in some vast conspiracy, we're only high-school students ourselves. Why don't we just keep an eye on things and look for conspiracy-like cover-ups beforehand?"

"I.... I could handle myself," Haruhi begins hesitantly, nervously glancing between the other club members.

"Haruhi...." I won't finish the statement aloud, but unspoken, the implication of Taniguchi's assault does not need to be voiced a second time.

"W...well.... Okay," she says, shifting her shoulders uncomfortably and looking away. It pains me to use those difficult memories on her, and I have little doubt that Koizumi's workload will be increased by it. " wouldn't hurt to do research beforehand."

"And if it's nothing, truly nothing, then we'll know without taking a very long and boring trip to a very remote and cold place," I add. I really don't want to go to Hokkaido. I especially don't want to become embroiled in a spy novel, or a conspiracy-theory thriller.

"Fine," she mumbles, looking defeated and nervous. Perhaps I was too harsh.

"I apologize," I say, sighing. "But ... we should discuss this later."

She blinks in alarm, the light coming back into her eyes as she focuses on me. "What? If it's club business, we can talk about it here."

I give a small, lopsided smile. "I'm afraid I have to go home; my little sister needs help with a school project."

"That's the real reason you don't want to go to Hokkaido!" she explodes, leaping to her feet and pointing at me in accusation.

"Absolutely untrue," I tell her, shaking my head quickly. "I did the same project years ago in the same school; repeating it is a monotony I do not look forward to. Going to Hokkaido would be an escape from that. But, alas, we are here, cautious and safe, so I should help her." It is true I am not exactly eager to work with my little-sister on her photo collage ... and going to Hokkaido truly would be an escape.

But the photo collage is easily preferable to whatever madness Haruhi would bring upon us.

"W...we're not done here," Haruhi grumbles. "I'm walking home with you to make sure this isn't some ploy!"

"If you insist," I say with a shrug, rising from my seat. Koizumi reveals his hand of cards, then looks at me questioningly. I turn over my cards without checking them, or his, and ask, "Is the entire club coming with us?"

Mikuru makes a strangled noise, and stares in dismay at her own cards. Yuki blinks and looks over, then blinks again.

"My, my," Koizumi murmurs. "A royal flush ... I should have put my money on you, Kyon."

"What?" Haruhi asks, suddenly distracted. "That's got to be an omen of some sort! Luck like that doesn't just happen! I am _absolutely_ following you home tonight." So much for revealing the plan to the rest of the club. I'm sure they can figure it out, though.

It probably doesn't take a genius to understand anyway, but.... So begins:

The Courtship of Suzumiya Haruhi

Author's note: Only a few years late. Also, the card thing was written before I saw season two or read the novels. Damnit. -_-

In further news, this will also be my last Haruhi anime fanfic, as I have been hopelessly sucked into the world of the novels. They are my Obsession of the Moment. Apologies.