The Courtship of Suzumiya Haruhi
Epilogue: In which, the more things change, the more they stay the same. But sometimes, that's okay.
A 'Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi' fanfiction.
Note: This fic is a sequel to The Blunt Force Trauma of Suzumiya Haruhi.
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. )
As it turned out, there was no ghost after all. At least, none that Yuki-chan was aware of. That made for a nice surprise for me, as that pleasant late-night discussion on the rooftop with Haruhi left me stiff and aching in the morning. Though in retrospect, it probably also meant that Haruhi never intended to really follow through on the ghost-summoning anyway, and just wanted our discussion to happen -- somehow.
So after some cleaning to tidy up Yuki-chan's apartment, we all drifted away home to finish homework before school tomorrow. Haruhi and myself, naturally, left last.
We couldn't hold hands since I was pushing my bike, but that was alright with me. I enjoyed last night, but I'm afraid of moving too quickly, and Haruhi had established that I was the brakes on an otherwise wildly speeding train. Well, I somewhat put myself in that position, really....
Her last words to me that day as she was about to enter the train station were, "Don't bring lunch tomorrow, okay?"
I smiled and waved, she gave me a satisfied smirk, and that was that....
What followed was a very pleasant week, nothing much out of the ordinary, even for our club, it was sedate. Haruhi was more into the games than she had been in a while, even going so far as to bring a few new ones in. She made me lunch twice that week, by the way. I was just thinking I could get used to it, until, of course, that fateful Friday....
"Oh," she said, when it was time for the club to end that day, "I almost forgot. Kyon, I need to talk to you in private."
Koizumi, Mikuru, and Yuki-chan gave their own farewells and left us alone.
I watched the door that Koizumi had closed behind him, then looked back at Haruhi and raised an eyebrow. "Yes, Brigade chief?"
"Not right now," she said, not quite meeting my eyes. Then she straightened herself up and stared at me. "Though, I guess I'm still in charge anyway."
I couldn't help but smirk at her when I realized where she was going with this.
Her face pinkened ever so slightly, and she tried to cover it with a scowl. "You get so cocky when we talk like this!" she grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest.
"And you get so cute," I countered. Her face darkened a tiny bit more, but she couldn't quite keep the smile off her face.
"Anyway," she said, shaking her head and turning her head to the computer, "I already made the plans up for us. So, we'll leave on Saturday and come back on Sunday."
The implications begin to settle in. "We're going to be there overnight?" I ask. Together? Alone? "This seems to be moving a bit quickly...."
She snorts. "I should have known that'd be the first thing through your head," she chastises me. "We won't be sharing a room...." She hesitates, for a moment her lips quirking to shape another word; probably something rude or derogatory, but she swallows whatever it was.
I know I said I didn't want her to change, but I have to admit, watching her choose her words with care, seeing her show thought and consideration.... Well, it _is_ nice. And to that end, we both want to avoid the annoyingly stereotypical tsundere/jerk relationship. So I bite my tongue and don't criticize her for leaving her sentence unfinished. "Well," I say, trying to keep my voice from sounding defensive, "it was only the first thought to cross my mind. What is the plan, then?"
She coughed quietly, tapping a key to wake the system from its screen-saver. "It's pretty straightforward," she answered. "There's a youth hostel with segregated baths in town, with a scenic view of the castle. If you get a working pass, they give you a room and meals are included. I booked us as the male and female staff, respectively."
I step around the desk and look over her shoulder, since she's using the computer anyway. The screen shows some sort of web-receipt confirming the reservations. Made in the name of the school, I note. Giant bold red text says, "Valid user: IP Confirmed from (Nishinomiya:Kitago)." She tries to scroll the page, but not before I see that the reservations are for only two (one male, one female, as she said).
"Anyway," she says quickly, "that means we're going to be doing some basic chores around the place to earn our rooms, but it's free, isn't it? And we'll still have most of Sunday during the day free to check out the castle."
"It'll be different from me paying for everything," I agree. "Funny that the receipt is dated from before our ghost story meeting."
"Gah!" she exclaimed, her face darkening very deeply. "Eh.... W...well-"
I smirk, shaking my head. "It's fine," I tell her. "What exactly will we be doing there? I've never worked at a hostel before."
"Well, in that case, I'll do the skilled labor, and you'll do the menial labor," she says with an imperious sniff and a wide grin. "Obviously."
I can't help but chuckle. "Of course." Now, how to run this one by my parents.... Maybe it's better not to think about it too hard; the last thing I want is Haruhi engaged in a yelling match with my mother for weekend custody of me.
"What's that face?" she asks. Not the irritated inquisition the last time she asked, a genuinely concerned question. "Something bothering you?"
"Oh, just thinking of what to tell my family," I answer. "Hmm...."
"I just said I would be spending time this weekend with the same students as last week," she tells me, her eyes shifting away, to look at the receipt on the screen. She shakes her head and clicks through the menus to shut the computer down. "Anyway, I want you to look forward to this. So ... you'll tell me if you're not having fun?"
I smirk at the thought that she would _really_ listen, but nod. "Of course," I tell her. "What's the worst that could happen?"
Me and my big mouth. First of all, working at the hostel wasn't as bad, or as much fun, as I thought it would be. Simpler, and much harder. Open-air outdoor baths are great, even in cold weather. But they're quite large, don't clean themselves, and I gave myself a blister on both hands by the time I had finished scrubbing both (before you start asking, no, there were no girls there when I was cleaning the girl's half of the bath -- that's what the 'closed for cleaning' sign was for). My uniform was a somewhat ragged but clean blue onsen-worker's robe. Haruhi's was a much better condition pink kimono with bell patterns on it.
I scrubbed, moved furniture, lifted heavy objects, and generally wore myself out. She served plates in the dining hall and did dishes. I climbed across the roof and nearly fell -- twice -- cleaning the gutters. She did laundry. I spent some time dismantling broken heating tables and replacing the worn or damaged parts. She waited in the lobby and greeted new guests.
Not exactly what I consider a fair distribution of labor.
Anyway, that was just Saturday, so after we got our own meals (once the 'regular' guests had already left the dining hall), I dragged my weary self into the room I was sharing with an older man who was studying something there -- I wasn't clear what. I barely had enough strength to make my futon up before collapsing into it.
It seemed that I only closed my eyes before someone was shaking me awake, and I tiredly opened my eyes to see Haruhi kneeling over me with a dangerous grin. She puts a fingertip across my lips before I can speak and points to the other futon. I allow myself to be lethargically towed to my feet and pulled down the hall to her room.
Naturally, she's not sharing hers.
Did I mention unfairness?
"Okay," she says, releasing my wrist and hurrying to her bag in the corner. The only light is a small battery powered hand-held lantern, but it's evidently enough for her to see by. While I'm rubbing my eyes and contemplating collapsing onto the floor and falling asleep right there, she pulls a variety of things from the bag. A length of rope, a map, ski masks, black clothes ... is that a grappling hook? "Now-"
"What exactly are you trying to do?" I ask, squinting at the collection of things.
"Isn't it obvious?"
"Haruhi," I say, as realization sets in, "we are _not_ breaking into Himeji castle in the dead of night. As you yourself mentioned, it's a world heritage site! There's security there, not to mention the fact that it's an ancient _fortress_. What are the two of us going to manage to do? I've been working all day -- there is no way I have the energy to even seriously consider this!"
"No problem," she says firmly, dropping the rope and walking over to me, grinning that huge grin she gets, her eyes shining like small galaxies in the reflected lamp light. "You just have to trust in me, right? You have no confidence or energy, so take some of mine!"
Then she makes a face, and it's not quite the death-gaze she turned at me during our 'duel' against the Computer Club ... it's softer, a bit more manic, and every bit just as frightening. "There," she says, releasing my shoulders after an indeterminate amount of time, when all I can do is stare into her eyes. "You should be feeling something, right about now!"
I sure do.... I'm not tired anymore, at least. "What exactly are you beaming into me?" I ask, feeling my face flush and an awkward need to either hunch over or run away.
"Eh?" she asks in surprise. "W...well--"
"No, I get it," I tell her. "You want me to say no, don't you?"
"That's stupid!" she protests, looking away, her cheeks lighting up. "Unless you come up with a better idea, we're going, and that's that!"
"Halt, break, time-out, I move to veto," I say in a rapid string of refusal. I think I get her game, though.
When she turns to face me again, ready to launch another protest, I grab her shoulders back and pull her into a kiss. When I breathlessly release her, she allows, "...maybe we don't have to go."
What have I gotten myself into? But I can tell by the mischievous glint in her eyes that this isn't over ... not quite. "I think I'm going to go to bed," I tell her. "We need to keep up our energy for tomorrow -- more work, and then a legitimate tour of the castle when we're done, right?"
She pouts, but nods, a tiny smile playing around the corners of her mouth. It's only after a few more kisses, and the heart-stopping silence that grips us both at someone mumbling and walking down the hallway that I break away and retreat to my own room that something finally clicks.
As much as I complained about not having a choice in the matter, being with Haruhi being a duty, and all that other juvenile nonsense.... Even though Mikuru seems to think it's for the best, Yuki-chan supported me, and Koizumi (if anything) was pushing me to make the move to open up to Haruhi.... The one who _really_ wanted me to be there and slow her down ... was her.
And suddenly, I don't mind at all. So what if occasionally she plans on going extremely overboard, just because she knows I'm there as her safety net? It certainly makes a guy with my test scores and complete normalness feel useful to someone who doesn't know she has the power to shape the world, but does it anyway.
Really, that's not a bad feeling at all. That 'beaming' thing might be a pain, though.
Author's notes: A bit disappointed with this one, but it ended, neatly enough. I kind of like the prequel better, insofar as I _can_ like something that's basically a Status Quo/Reset Ending (I have _got_ to stop doing that in Haruhi fics). It was nice and waffy, and let me have Kyon give something meaningful to Haruhi. I feel anything else I tried to do with this storyline would just be inflating it pointlessly.