Disclaimer for all chapters: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Many thanks to Yasuhei, who has looked over these early chapters for me.
Ah, how to begin? It's hard to know, when you travel through time as much as I have. Not only is life far more recursive and confusing even than you would expect, but the nature of stories change. The perspectives on time and causality and interrelationships of events - interdependence, perhaps – mean that it's a little hard to relate to the books and stories that people with linear lifestyles enjoy. It feels even harder to start trying to think of one yourself.
The best place to begin this story is in my childhood. Before I was recruited by the agency, because some of the trauma that made me who I am today began very early in my life. From the exact moment I was born, in fact. The trauma that I am talking about is that of my energetic, paranoid, manic, unstoppable mother.
I grew up to the age of preschool attendance in world that seemed impossibly scary. Terrifying and alienating! As I learned to talk, I didn't develop a vocabulary of the normal words kids did. I didn't know what a bunny was until I was babysat by one of mother's friends, and that was when I was four! No, my mother taught me almost from the day of my birth about time travellers, ESPers, aliens, magicians, yakuza, vengeful gods, and sliders.
"You have to remember, Kurumi-chan! Make sure you never forget this! If you create a time paradox you might end up never being born, or being born as a boy, or even as a mutant with arms coming out of your face! Uwaa, it's a world of limitless possibilities!"
Needless to say, I lived in terror of the world at large. I was scared of shadows on the street, in case they were pockets of alternate realities that threatened to swallow me hole and steal me away. I jumped at the sound of helicopters and airplanes, certain that they were UFOs coming down to assasinate us all, or turn us into monkey hair covered slaves, or to probe us anally. But it wasn't until my first day of preschool that I felt true hopelessness and despair.
I had only been there for two hours; I was sobbing so hard that they had to call my mother in to pick me up. She might have lost her new job over that, but she never had one complaint about that. She just gave me a big thumbs up, and had a brave wide smile on her face.
"Good vibes level up time, Kurumi-chan!"
I sniffled and wrapped my arms around her legs. The denim was warm from the morning sun. She disentangled me and hefted me up into her arms. The gentleness in her voice was unusual and surprising.
"There, there. I won't force the issue. I can tell something really awful happened. But if you feel up to talking, I'd like to know. Then I will know who to beat up for you!"
The sweet unexpected softness of her voice, combined with that last sentence, sent tears cascading over my cheeks again. Snot ran down into my mouth, and I cried it out until I was a shivering, whining mess in her arms. My head felt hot like a fever. I felt a little distant from the world.
I realised that I was being carried home slowly. For the first time in my life, my mother seemed ready and willing to listen to anything that I had to say. Hiccuping and being jolted a little as she carried me up the stairs of an overpass, I confessed.
"I had a fight with a boy. H-he said that he'd get his Dad to beat me up, and I... I..."
I just couldn't say it. I huddled closer to my mother's chest, and hid my face from the world. I must have spread my goopy slime all over her, but she didn't seem to mind at all. She didn't reply at all for a while, and the sound of her feet slowly making their way down the stairs once we had crossed the road was my entire universe. Nothing else existed, but my desperate pain and a mother's warmth that surrounded everything. I wanted to pull her around me like a blanket, fall asleep, and never have to wake up and meet rude boys who had fathers ever again.
"Kyon, you idiot." Were the words that finally reached my ears. At that young age, innocent of knowledge and true awareness, they meant nothing to me. Then she said other things, that made more sense. "You know? I knew I'd miss your dad. But I never thought that it would hit you as hard as it did me."
I sniffed and nodded against her. "Me too."
She hefted me onto her shoulder as we reached the entrance to our apartment block. In went the keycode, and then in we went. The elevator doors closed behind us as we headed closer to our home.
"I know it's hard, not having a father. But trust me. Anything comes your way, and Suzumiya Haruhi will punch them right out! Buchaaa! Like that, see? And if that doesn't work? Well, I'll just have to steal some of their hair or fingernails. Then when we meet exciting aliens, we can have them home in on the DNA and get real creeeeeeepy revenge!"
I shuddered at the thought of aliens capable of such cruel acts, but something in her words made me feel safe and secure. Though I felt lost and alone and only half of a person – all because I had realised that "Your Dad's not here anymore" really did affect my life and identity – I fell asleep quickly and woke up feeling brighter than I ever had before. I even drew some pictures of giant space octopi to give to my mother. The smile she beamed down at me was the happiest thing I had ever seen. It was a smile wider than my entire head (I was really small back then), and it was amazing.
The next day, of course, she made me a Roswell autopsy themed lunchbox and abandoned me at the preschool from 8am until 7pm. But that was a normal aspect of the life that was to come for me; what is more important in my mind is that moment of speechlessness shared together. Without words, we both felt the same heartache at the exact same time. I would like to believe that wherever my father was, the strength of our love found some way to reach him.