"You can't get rid of me, Nagato-chan, no matter how much you wish you could." An innocent, jovial voice stated, repeating the message it had been giving for over a year. Whatever the speaker was, their words were audible only to the interface; the other inhabitants of the clubroom remained ignorant of their very existence.

If you won't go away, can you please be silent like you used to? The lilac-haired alien mentally pleaded, their thoughts more eloquent than their speech could ever be.

"I could go back to being just an observer but I've learned that you follow my suggestions if I persist." The disembodied voice countered with a giggle, potentially rekindling an argument the two had gone over numerous times before. This time there was a difference: they were in the literature clubroom.

"Nagato, are you okay?" Kyon asked as he looked up from the chessboard he and Koizumi were battling on. The familiar sound of pages turning had completely ceased, the uncanny quiet drawing the youth's attention.

"Yes." She lied, turning a page to fake reading.

"You like his concern, don't you? It's only concern for a friend, a sibling at best, you know. But you want more than that, you want the feelings he directs towards Suzumiya Haruhi. I can give you that, Nagato-chan." The voice tempted.

Nagato, distracted by her tormentor, missed Kyon's next question and automatically nodded when she realised he was waiting for a reply. The response appeared to satisfy him and he returned to his game. To keep up the pretence of normality she had started, the golden-eyed girl turned another page without absorbing anything written on it.

"She's coming." The voice spoke – or was it doing something else? – with uncharacteristic venom before falling silent. A slight disturbance in the data around Nagato marked the speaker's leaving.

The reason for their swift departure was made clear when the door was thrown open with exuberance only two people at North High could be expected to use. One had bizarrely long green hair; the other was the closest anything had yet come to being a god – or maybe they were a god, or even God. It was the latter who had rushed into the room with a smile on their face that could only spell trouble.

Haruhi only stayed long enough to grab Kyon and drag him out of the door, scattering the chess-pieces and knocking Mikuru over as the time-traveller attempted to give Haruhi a cup of tea, which fell to the floor but fortunately didn't land on anyone.

"She's been dragging him out like that a lot recently. You know what she's doing with him, you don't need me to tell you what I saw them doing before I came back. But I'll tell you anyway because I'm your friend: they were kissing. Or at least it looked like that." The voice whispered into Nagato's ear upon their return – or were they merely inserting the memory into the interface's mind? The voice added a complaint in a voice scarcely different from their normal tone: "If only Suzumiya Haruhi didn't warp all the data around her, I would be able to get a better look."

Neither Mikuru – knitting quietly as far away from Nagato as possible – nor Koizumi – packing the chess-pieces away – showed any interest as the interface's fingers stopped turning the pages in front of her.

"I know it hurts, Nagato-chan, but you have to get over this emotion. I'll help, I promise. You just need to bring me back." The voice – now nothing more than a ghost formed of data – coercively pleaded.

No, I will not listen to you. I brought you back before and all you did was try to kill him. I cannot trust you. Nagato responded quietly.

"Did you really bring me back or did you just turn something that looked like me into your protector? Either way, I had no choice about what I did in that world." Nagato's observer countered without the slightest change in the tone of their voice. It sounded more like a voice for normal conversations than anything as surreal as 'bringing someone back'.

"Remember what it was like to be nothing but data? Now imagine what it would be like to be nothing but data and on your own; no longer joined with that which gave us life. With all the memories of the physical world but only able to see and slightly manipulate data, it's nothing but torture. You could end this for me, Nagato-chan. I'd be grateful enough to do everything I can to help you." the voice continued, changing tactic temporarily from bribery to emotional blackmail and then seamlessly changing back.

If I bring you back then I will be deleted as well and you will be deleted again. The lilac-haired girl argued as she turned another page on her book (actually a phonebook).

"If you get deleted Kyon-kun will get Suzumiya Haruhi to bring you back, like a good brother would, and destroy our creator. I'm willing to risk deletion in exchange for a little more time in the physical world." The voice said, adding (whether truthfully or not) in a whisper, "… and with you, Nagato-chan."

Nagato sat for minutes trying to come up with a response, processing the same amount of thoughts a human would take hours for, before giving up on trying to find and argument to counter the voice's. Part of her was saying that just because she had lost the argument she didn't have to do what was being suggested. It was ignored by the majority of Nagato's mind, which still relied heavily on logic.

"Is something the matter, Nagato-san?" Koizumi asked when the interface rose to leave the room long before normal.


Neither of the room's other two inhabitants said anything else, though the esper looked suspicious and Mikuru thoughtful, whilst Nagato left, or anything afterwards, returning to their previous activities.

The golden-eyed girl was headed purposefully towards the school's exit, choosing which location to go to in order to return the voice to a body and the physical world. It needed to have an exceedingly high concentration of data for her to be able to do so, which left two options: Haruhi's house and the baseball stadium.

Nagato chose the house – there were less likely to be people there, it was closer and the data would be more densely concentrated.

"I'm glad you've decided to help me, Nagato-chan." Asakura Ryōko whispered, giggling.

AN: Much better version. At least Nagato TRIED to resist.

Still, first YukiXAsakura romance on this site. Which is... odd. Did everyone miss the subtext in book 4? XD