Choices, choices

A "Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" fanfic

by Ongaku no Usagi

Disclaimer: I do not own "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya". It belongs to Nagaru Tanigawa.

Chapter 11:

I think I'm in love.

No, really. I know that gets thrown around a lot, like a baseball between two elementary school students. More often than not, it just falls flat, plop, onto the ground. Because we all know, don't we, that love is one of those useless, indefinable words, overused since time immemorial, by every human who has walked the planet.

But I definitely think I am in love. Whenever she passes, my heart gives a great thump, like an over eager sumo wrestler playing a bass drum. My palms get sweaty; sometimes the rest of me does, too. When she's talking to me, my brain goes fuzzy, and words get stuck somewhere in my throat, I'm not even sure if they have time to meet my vocal chords at all. So I think I am in love.

Now the question is, with whom?

Yes, that's the tricky bit. Being the rational character that I am, the kind who knew, indeed, from childhood, that Santa Claus does not exist, and came to accept, later, that such things as aliens, time-travelers and espers do not exist, either, I'd like to dredge up an old biology lesson from junior high and use the scientific method to reach a rational conclusion.

The steps of the scientific method are, of course, as follows:

1. Ask question

2. Do background research

3. Construct hypothesis

4. Test with an experiment

5. Analyze results/draw conclusion

6. Determine if hypothesis is true

Repeat steps 3-6 as necessary

7. Report results

Step (1) is obvious. "Who am I in love with?" However, it seems necessary at this point to lay out the possible candidates.


1. Asahina Mikuru

» A beautiful, somewhat bashful, red-haired girl from the year ahead of me. Terrific cook, heartwarming smile, looks great in a bunny-girl or maid outfit.

2. Nagato Yuki

» A quiet, serious girl with short blue hair who can be roused to action and transform into an ass-kicking superhero at a moment's notice.

3. Suzumiya Haruhi

» A loud, obnoxious, manipulative, controlling, willful, stubborn, but admittedly very attractive girl with shoulder-length brown hair. Excels at everything she does. Damn difficult to be around, though.

We move on now to step (2): Do background research. The majority of that is available in the information given for the last question, but it seems vaguely that I've forgotten some was it? Oh, it'll come to me later. You know how it is; you walk into a room and completely forget what it was that you came in there for; so you retrace your steps and go back where you came from, and then, determined, you go back into the other room, only to forget once more...Well, all that to say, I won't worry about it right now.

Now for step (3): Hypothesis.

Hypothesis 1: I love Asahina Mikuru.

Step (4): Experiment

I walk into the club room, marked with the hastily pasted "Literature Club" tag on the door. Asahina-san is the only one there at the moment, the others not having arrived just yet. She is busy pouring finely steaming water out of a hot-pot into a lilac-sprayed teapot on the counter.

My heart gives that tell-tale thump as I look at her, tenderness welling up like a hot spring in my chest. I step into the room and close the door softly behind me.

She looks up, her red hair bouncing as she does so, and gives me a smile. God, that smile! So cute! So alluring! In addition, my mind is still reeling from the knowledge that something besides her hair is also bouncing...

Quelling the reaction I have to snatch her adorable, frill-adorned body into my arms and cover her face with kisses, I casually put a casual smile on my casual face and walk casually over to casually prop against the counter next to her. Then I say, casually, "Hey, Asahina-san."

"Oh! Hi!" She beams back at me, setting down the hotpot and turning to face me. "How are you, Kyon-kun?"

Damn whoever told her that nickname in the first place. Once, just once, I want to hear my real name drop from her honey-like lips...but no, all I have is that stupid nickname that my sister, adorable though she may be, endowed me with instead of the much more distinguished "Onii-san." (sigh) C'est la vie.

"I'm fine," I say, watching as she reaches automatically to pick up the teapot to begin pouring tea into the cups lined up neatly on the counter.

Here's my chance to prove Hypothesis 1!

I hastily reach for the teapot at the same time, so that our hands collide suddenly, sending electric tingles from the tips of my fingers into my spine. Ah...this feeling! It must be love, right? Of course right. I look up at her to confirm her expression...does she like me back?

My thoughts, however, are very rudely interrupted by the sloshing of piping hot liquid onto my hand and the sleeve of my jacket.

"Itai!" I pull back, nursing my burning hand as I squinch my face in pain.

"Ah! I'm so sorry! Here, let me help you!" Asahina reaches out to take my hand with one of her small ones, the other dabbing at my arm with a tea-towel, concern written in her wide amber eyes. Ah, bliss! It was worth it, in the end!

"What are you two doing?"

The sharp voice invades our little moment together. We glance up, startled, to see Haruhi standing there with a scowl, arms akimbo. The moment is rather effectively wrecked, like a butterfly splatting onto the windshield of a semi going 100 kph.

Step (5): Analyze results.

Well, honestly, I can't say that I really have any results to draw from this. Out of the ordinary, I mean. Yes; touching Asahina-san makes everything go woozy, but isn't that a normal reaction from touching a beautiful, older girl? If I'd had a few more minutes, maybe, enough time to draw her close, touch her shining hair, lay a tender kiss on her forehead, maybe...

Well, I guess it's back to step (3).

Hypothesis 2: I love Nagato Yuki.

Now, judging from my first reaction when I'd met Yuki, I'd have to admit I would have laughed at myself for even considering this option. Let's face it; Yuki is not my type. She's too quiet, too serious; also, I don't prefer her looks.

But they say, "Never judge a book by its cover." (har har har)

With Yuki, it's been the experiences that we've shared. The way she's saved my life, more than once. They way she felt when I held her out of concern after her battle with Asakura Ryouko. There's something about her outward fragility that draws me to her, makes me want to protect her; but her inward toughness is surprisingly sexy.

Onto step (4): Experiment.

On days when she isn't in the Literature Club room (AKA SOS Brigade looted-property-and-abducted-members-storage-room) I can know with almost precise certainty where she will be. Thus, when I poke my head into the library after school hours, it is no surprise to me to catch a glimpse of her short, silver-purple (did I say blue earlier on?) hair trailing her like the whiff of a lingering perfume as she passes down the next aisle to disappear between ceiling-high bookshelves.

Unlike Asahina-san, I know that I can be myself around Yuki. I don't have to put up a "casual" act to try to convince her I'm "cool" because, quite frankly, this girl has already kicked my ass clear across a battle-field classroom before. In other words, if I ever wanted to seem "cool" to her, my chances have dwindled to nil.

Following her between the rows and rows of books, I find her kneeling on the ground, deeply engrossed in whatever heavy book she's picked up this time. I squat down next to her, pushing the book down slightly so that she has to look up, and say, "Hey" with a grin.

She blinks, and I think I can detect a little startledness in her expressionless face. She seems to be working her mouth around the word as she replies, "Hey" in reply. Ah, Yuki! Well programmed that you are, you are finally beginning to pick up the vernacular language! (And at the same time, I seem to be adopting your habit of using annoyingly long words...hmm...)

"Whatcha reading?"

Wordlessly, as always, she lifts the book so that I can see the cover. The title's in Japanese, but I still can't understand what it says, as always! Sometimes I wonder if Yuki secretly hides tiny little light novels in a fake book cover or something, and pulls them out when nobody's looking. She can't honestly be interested in that fatiguing stuff, can she (Augh! More long words! Yuki, you're rubbing off on me!).

Speaking of rubbing off...I notice a tiny smudge on the tip of her nose. Hesitantly, I reach out a little, as if to inspire an inquiry. But of course, Yuki, who has turned back to her book, doesn't ask, and I am left with my hand stupidly hanging out in midair. Even though I know this would be a good opportunity to test out Hypothesis 2, there's still a sense in which I can't really bring myself to take the initiative. She's a little like a antique masterpiece painting; you don't want to touch it lest you destroy its purity. But I've touched her before without tainting her, right?

I swallow and gently rub my thumb against the tip of her nose, marveling at how smooth it is, and at the feeling of breathlessness that overtakes me when I do so. Such a difference from the tingling that I get around Asahina-san! I'm actually dizzy, and I pull my hand back quickly, as if afraid that I'll faint from lack of breath.

The expression in her eyes when she looks up at me makes my breath catch in my throat. "What's wrong?" she asks softly.

Remembering to breath again, I let out a little laugh as I rub the back of my neck awkwardly. "Ano, nothing just had a bit of chalk on your nose, that's all. I just wanted to get it off, so...sorry if I disturbed you..."

She's still looking at me!

And then it comes. The smile. Small, yes, practically unnoticeable yes, but a definite smile! Whatever feeling I had before is totally eclipsed by how I feel now.

"Thank you."

I return her smile; no, I completely outdo it. And I must be blushing, yes, because my smile is so wide...ooh! But she has returned to her book, and I have no further excuses to continue touching her, so I get up and leave, casting one last glance behind me at her serious form bending over the volume.

Step (5): Analyze results.

At this point, I will admit I'm pretty confused. Because that feeling with Yuki...isn't that more of the deep feelings, rather than the tell-tale tinglies fabled in junior-high girl's thoughts? And yet, I can't really say. Not yet. What to do? How can I choose?

I suppose I need to test out Hypothesis 3: I love Suzumiya Haruhi.

Okay, let me just say now, of the three, this is the one I'm dreading the most. Touching Asahina-san's hand was enjoyable, and fun and sweet, and touching Yuki's nose was soft and warm, but any contact with Haruhi has more of the insinuation of the "painful" or "choking" or "smothering" effect, bordering on "life-threatening" should the occasion arise.

But I am a rational being, taking on an unbiased experiment in order to draw a concise conclusion on which I can base my results. Therefore, like any good scientist, I shall have to don the rubber gloves and protective eye-gear and hope for the best.

I meet her on the hill, going down that 45 degree angle of agony going up and tripping going down. She always goes my way, but sometimes I go out of my way to avoid her. Her and her rants; her and her bright ideas; her and her jerking on my tie to try to get me to see her point, as though half-strangling me will convince me of the veracity of her opinion. But today, I have girded up the loins of my mind (which makes no sense, anyway) and I call out to her, "Hey! Haruhi! Wait up!"

She pauses and turns back, that look over her shoulder of contempt but also smug satisfaction, and waits for me to catch up to her, puffing a little. We have reached the bottom of the hill by now.

She continues to scowl as she asks, "What is it? Anything exciting?"

"No...not...really..." I am still wheezing. Damn hill. Stupid, stupid hill. I find myself cursing it at every ascent and descent. I wonder if Yuki could use her powers to level the whole thing. "I just wanted to know if you wanted to walk home together."

"Oh." Her tone clearly indicates, That's so boring. Which means, You're so boring.

Yes, I'm boring. Get over it, Haruhi.

"Why exactly do you want to do that?" she asks, but she has continued walking, and gives me no sign of Go away.

"Well, we're friends, right? Don't friends usually hang out once in a while?"

"Friends? With you?" She pauses, still walking and looks up at the sky, tendrils of her brown hair blowing up against her face. Despite my feelings of vague terror around her, I still find my fingers itching to brush it away. But I can't.

"I guess so," she continues, "though I never thought of it that way before. Ne, Kyon, what do you do on weekends?" she asks abruptly.

I shrug. "On days when I'm not being coerced by you to go parading around town on my day off, I guess...sometimes I take my younger sister to see my grandmother..."

"Somehow I still can't see you as an older brother. What else do you do?"

Why this determination to see what I do with my time off, anyway, Haruhi? Exactly why does it matter to you, when all I am to you, really, is a little pawn, or a white/black piece knocked off from an Othello board, spinning as it hits the ground, futilely trying to get away before it gets stepped on? Then I think back. "Friends?...I guess so, though I never thought of it..." Could it be, is she trying to get to know me? Trying to find out what I like? Trying to connect?

There are a few moments around Haruhi when she seems particularly sweet. 99% of the time she's a total pain-in-the-neck, getting everyone around her to respond to her whims without a care in the world of what they think about her, and then everyone once in a while, she turns 180 degrees and suddenly, wham! She hits you with just how extraordinary she actually is. And those moments remind me of why I even bothered with Hypothesis 3.

She is still looking at me, waiting patiently for my response. The sunlight is fading, leaving cold air of biting breezes swirling around us, and she shivers a little. I don't like to see that. Don't like to see her cold.

I stop and pull off my jacket, watching her eyes widen as she pauses a couple of steps ahead of me. Closing the distance, I gently drape my jacket around her shoulders, our eyes locked, searching the other's, asking questions, answering questions. The backdrop sunlight casts a reddish-golden glow on her brown hair, drawing out individual strands in shining highlights, and I enjoy how tiny she looks in my jacket, small hands clutching at the sleeves to draw it closer around her. I wonder how she feels, wonder what she thinks about the remaining body heat I left on the cheap polyester lining. Even though now I am the one without any sort of covering, a deep warmth spreads in me from being even this close to her.

Haruhi, you are stunning.

"Well, shall we continue?" I ask gently, stepping back. Predictably, she doesn't thank me, but briskly continues, scowl deepening, if anything. It seems she is actually trying to outpace me.

"In any case, you don't have this weekend off!" she announces, seemingly annoyed at her own previous question. "We have work to find aliens, time-travelers, and espers!"

My mind shorts out suddenly. "Oh," I say.

"What, you have a problem with that?" she snaps.

"No." I was answering my previous question to myself. The thing that I'd forgotten earlier. I've retraced my steps; here I am, remembering. The details that were missing about the three girls of my acquaintance who I am attempting to discover which one I am in love with. One is a time-traveler, one is an alien, and one is...well, kind of a god.

In other words, rationality is useless. Because that sort of thing, the things that normal people know obviously don't exist, do exist. My world as a rational being is falling around me. The scientist must abandon the scientific method because rationality no longer works as I thought it did.

Ah, man. Now I have to start all over again.