Disclaimer: It's mine! At long last it's mine! I finally have the… what? Touhou? Haruhi? No, I don't own those. I was ranting about something else entirely.


Exciting Investigation of Eastern Mysteries

A Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Crossover Fic

By Nathan Huss


*Thump*

Haruhi's first thought on appearing alone in the middle of a small field… after checking herself over to make sure nothing else had happened to her… had been that she needed to find the rest of the Brigade. Koizumi, as the Deputy Chief, would be able to take care of himself until Haruhi found him. No one she had hand-picked for such an important position would be defenseless, even in such unusual circumstances. It was the rest that would be in trouble. Mikuru was only a moe-moe girl, and wouldn't be used to roughing it with no preparations, let alone dealing with wild animals or those youkai the college students had mentioned. Yuki might have read something to help her get through things, but she didn't have much practical experience, especially with this kind of situation. And as for Kyon… well, it went without saying there, now didn't it?

Figuring out where to start looking for them had been the first problem. A quick check of her phone showed no signal, nipping that quick solution in the bud. Having to do it the old-fashioned way, the Brigade Chief had taken stock of her surroundings. The field she had appeared in was vacant save for a few scattered bushes and trees, the only other notable sight being the mountain taking up most of the southeast, its lower reaches covered in a thick forest and various twirls of smoke drifting into the sky from various hidden spots. That had seemed the best place to start, as the smoke might be from campfires or houses on the mountain, which would mean people to get to help her search.

*Thump*

Of course, even at her best jog (running full-out without making sure what was in front wasn't a good idea, as narrow miss of an inconvenient burrow hidden in the grass convinced her) it had still taken a decent amount of time. Even when she came across a dirt path, it meandered rather than head straight towards the mountain (though it did seem to be heading in that general direction). It wasn't the worst thing, though, as it was a clear, sunny day, with only the light chill of autumn. Small flocks of birds flew through the sky, looking for food in preparation for the eventual coming of winter. All very peaceful and tranquil.

Haruhi was, of course, utterly disappointed.

*Thump*

Where were the oni? Where were the tengu? Where were the ghosts, youkai, fairies, and witches? If it weren't for the matter of how she had gotten there, the lack of any structures, and how clean the air felt, she wouldn't have been surprised if this were just some really expansive nature park or something. But this was supposed to be… no, it had to be Gensokyou! So where were they?

Ok, she was willing to admit that, much as she had told Kyon, a bright, clear day at about… hm… midday? Early afternoon? A quick glance at her watch confirmed it as such. Anyway, that wasn't the time to really be spotting things like ghosts, and since there wasn't a river nearby kappa weren't really expected, and she didn't know about oni or tengu or other youkai (though overall they did usually live in caves often enough in the stories. More reasons to head for the mountain), but what about fairies! She hadn't seen any of them!

… which wasn't as important as finding the rest of the Brigade, of course. Though it still felt like a bit of a rip-off.

*Thump*

After a while Haruhi finally reached the forest as the path skirted along the treeline. For a moment she considered heading into the woods straight for the mountain, but eventually decided not to bother. An actual path that was clear of overgrowth, even an unpaved one, at least meant that people traveled it relatively often, and that there was somewhere for there to be a path to. As such, it was the best lead she had.

*Thump*

It was only a little bit after that that Haruhi found her first Gensokyou native. At first she hadn't registered it, but soon enough she noticed a number of muffled impacts coming from within the tree line. Rushing in to investigate, it didn't sound quite like an animal of any sort. The noise kept moving slightly, and only seemed to be a single impact each time. It didn't sound like an axe either, but…

Haruhi squeezed her eyes shut and flailed her arms in front of her as a gust of wind blew a cloud of dead leaves into her face. The rustling debris took longer than she expected to die down, but once she was able to see again and began picking them out of her clothes and hair, she noticed that the trees in this area were… bare. Completely.

Not that it would have been surprising to see for the leaves to be falling off the trees. It was autumn, after all. However, in front of Haruhi not a single one wasn't on the ground, covering it in a thick blanket of reds, yellows, and orange. She turned around and looked back up at the trees immediately behind her, their branches still filled with similar colors.

*Thump*

The sound brought Haruhi's attention back to ground level, and she immediately headed in the direction it had come from. Crunching through the piles of dead leaves, she hurried excitedly to find out who or what could have been causing this strange phenomenon. Finally rounding the trunk of a tree, she spotted the source.

Moving through the dense, rustling layer was a young, blond-haired (with leaves stuck to it?) woman who seemed to be rising right out of the ground. Her dress at first glance appeared to be merged with the leaves, and it wasn't until she stopped in front of a tree and raised her leg that Haruhi saw that the hem of the red-orange dress was only patterned in the shape of leaves rather than actually made of them, blending into the fallen leaves on the ground until she raised her foot.

*Thump!*

With a solid kick the woman hit the base of the tree, and despite her thin stature it sent up a vibration that rippled up to the very top of the highest branches. Then, as she turned away towards the next, all the leaves shivered and dropped in an avalanche of color.

Haruhi had to admit she was impressed. Knocking down leaves wasn't particularly interesting thing, granted, but it was definitely being done in an interesting way that a normal human couldn't do. Was the woman a tree-kicking youkai of some sort?

That caused a brief frown, as Haruhi couldn't recall ever hearing about anything like that. Admittedly she hadn't really researched that kind of thing, but she had had a casual interest even before the visit to the lake shrine. Oh well. There was only one way to find out!

Stepping out from behind the cover of the tree, she called out "Hey! Are you a-"

The woman spun around immediately and slashed her hand through the air. Before Haruhi could finish her question she was forced to cover her face as a wave of leaves flew up at her from the ground. Reeling backwards she tripped over a tree root and ended up on the forest floor as the leaves continued to swarm around her.

"You can't see her!" came a growl. Haruhi tried to open her eyes to look, and just managed to see the woman stalking through the storm without the leaves even touching her despite the storm. "She tried her best even with all the weird weather, and you still complain about the crops. Maybe if you actually bothered to offer faith when you didn't need to she could do more, but that's all you get for only bothering one season out of the year! So you don't get to see her anymore if I have anything to say about it!"

"What...? I'm not…!" Haruhi tried to speak up, but was pushed down by another wave of leaves.

"If you think we're not doing a good enough job, why don't you go see those gods on top of the mountain? Yasaka is a god of wind and rain, and the priestess can control the wind, so why aren't you all complaining to them about it? Oh no, them you don't bother, that would be disrespectful. You'd have to climb the mountain to even talk to them. But the two of us, right next door, who have been here for generations? Well, it's just the Aki sisters. If they get upset they can't do anything anyway."

The woman slumped, and the leaves began to drift down normally, no longer being controlled. Haruhi took the opportunity to scramble to her feet, brushing off her clothes and hair and spitting out a few bits of leaf that had gotten into her mouth. Her eyes were veritably sparkling, however, and she looked at the one who had just assaulted her with a huge grin.

Hearing Haruhi get back up, the woman sighed and sent a tired glance in her direction before blinking and tilting her head. "Those aren't normal villager clothes…" she began. "And what is that…?"

"That was incredible!" Haruhi crowed. "How did you do that? Magic powers? Are you a tengu? A witch? Some sort of leaf-youkai?"

"I'm a goddess!" the woman shouted. "Aki Shizuha, goddess of Autumn! I'm no youkai of any sort!"

Haruhi's grin widened. "A god? Like Orihime and Hikoboshi? Or Inari? Or maybe…"

Shizuha smiled a little unevenly. "Well, maybe not quite as prominent as them, but yes… I am one of the Goddesses of Gensokyou's Autumn, in charge of the turning and falling of leaves."

"So that's why you were kicking the trees and they would all fall off the branches! Though that's kind of… well, it's awesome, but not really what you really think of how gods do things."

Grimacing, Shizuha replied, "Well, it's quicker than plucking them off one by one, and I've just really needed to work off some frustration since… well…" She looked at Haruhi again, squinting for a moment. "I'm sorry, but… just who are you?"

Grabbing the goddess' hand and shaking it vigorously, Haruhi answered. "Suzumiya Haruhi, founder and chief of the SOS-dan! Oh, this is going to be awesome! That'll show Kyon… always being a stick in the mud, saying my ideas aren't good, and here I'm meeting an actual goddess! I knew it!"

"'SOS-dan?' I've never heard of it," Shizuha said, a bit disoriented from Haruhi pumping her hand. "It's not from the village, is it?"

"What village? We came on a train to see the shrine, but then we didn't find anything but our friend disappeared, and then there was this weird wind, and then I woke up in a field back that way-" she pointed back out of the forest, "- and headed towards the mountain because I saw smoke so I figured there would be some houses or something, and then I heard you kicking the trees, and saw you and when I was going to ask about it you went all…" Haruhi finally let go of Shizuha, and swung her arms through the air demonstratively.

The self-proclaimed goddess blinked, and then pointed a finger at the girl. "Y-you… you're from Outside? From outside Gensokyou?"

Haruhi's rapid nod caused Shizuha to bury her face in her hands. "Oh no… Minoriko is going to let me have it for this…"

"Who's that?"

"My sister… Minoriko Aki, goddess of Gensokyou's autumn harvest. She'd been getting a bunch of villagers complaining this year due to the crops being messed up from all this weird weather that happened during the summer… which we have no control over, I should add. I've been trying to keep any more from bothering her even though she told me not to, and I now I just attacked someone who isn't even from here…" She groaned.

"It's fine, it's fine," Haruhi said. "I mean, kinda scary right then, but it was amazing to see something like that actually happen! I'm just super lucky I was actually able to find someone like you. What else can you do, huh? Can you control the trees too? Or is it just the leaves?"

Shizuha straightened up and smiled, gesturing around them. "It's very important work for autumn to properly happen. The leaves falling are a very important part of the season. First I have to change the colors of the leaves so that their passing is that much more beautiful. If it was just the same green leaves it would hardly make a substantial impression to see them swirling in a breeze. Plus, since the trees don't have to support and grow their leaves, they can last through the winter, saving their strength for spring. And don't get me started on how much snow and ice the leaves would catch if they didn't come down. Any year when there's an early frost I can just about feel the limbs straining under the weight. I just wish I could do it longer, but…" She sighed, closing her eyes. "It never lasts. Sooner or later all the leaves are done, and winter arrives… Though that transience is part of their beauty…"

She blinked, and then looked back to Haruhi. "Oh, pardon me. I just get that way sometimes when I think about my work."

"It's no problem!" Haruhi said. "I mean, when I really get into something I can be the same way. I just wish that the rest of the Brigade was here to meet you as well, but since I don't know where they are…"

"You're lost?"

"Only a little! And they're probably worse off than I am when that weird wind split us up. I was heading for the mountain since I saw the smoke, and then I heard you."

Frowning, Shizuha nodded in thought. "A weird wind? Might have been one of the tengu, though they don't usually bother outsiders unless they try to intrude on Youkai Mountain. They'd be more likely to try for an interview…"

"'Interview'?"

"All right! Since you've been really nice about that misunderstanding, I'll help you out!" said Shizuha. "We'll head back to my house to let Minoriko know what's going on, then I'll take you up the mountain to see if the tengu or Moriya shrine know anything about your friends." With that, she lifted up into the air and began threading her way between the trees. "Let's go."

Haruhi could only stare as the goddess flew off. Then she shook her head and ran off after, a huge smile on her face even as she shouted for Shizuha to wait up.


"This is where you live?" Haruhi asked. "Kinda…"

"Yes. I know it isn't much, but it's home," replied Shizuha. "Come on in."

Haruhi looked over the place. It was a modest one-story house made of wood with a straw roof, looking for all the world like a peasant farmer's home out of a samurai movie, albeit a well-constructed one. There was even a large, fenced-off garden to the side filled with various vegetables just ready for picking with a storage shed a bit beyond it, and a small trail of smoke drifted up from the roof as the smell of… sweet potatoes…? wafted through the air. Shrugging to herself, she followed Shizuha inside as the goddess opened the door and walked inside.

"I'm home!"

"Welcome back," came an answering call from just inside.

As she looked around on entering, Haruhi easily spotted who she presumed to be Minoriko, who stood up from apparently tending to a small fire and pot in the hearth. The resemblance between the two women was fairly obvious, both of them having similar skin and hair. Minoriko was wearing somewhat more elaborate clothing, however, with a red dress and apron, a yellow blouse, and a hat that had a bunch of grapes set on it. Haruhi had to pause and tilt her head as she looked at the fruit, wondering if they were real or fake.

"Oh? Who's this, Shizuha?" the woman asked.

"Ah, this is Haruhi," the leaf-goddess leaned in a bit. "She's an Outsider. I ran into her a little while ago, and she'd gotten separated from her friends and was looking for them. I was going to take her up to see the Moriyas to see if they knew anything." She turned around and gestured Haruhi forward. "Haruhi, this is my sister, Aki Minoriko, Goddess of the Harvest. Minoriko, Suzumiya Haruhi, Chief of the…" she paused for a moment, "… S-U-S-dan?"

"SOS-dan," Haruhi corrected. "I founded it myself!" Somewhat belatedly, she bowed to Minoriko. "Pleased to meet you!"

"I'm happy to meet you, as well," Minoriko said. "That's certainly an interesting name for a group."

"Thanks! It's had its ups and downs keeping it going properly, but this is just the kind of thing it was founded for! Aside from the rest of the brigade ending missing."

"Are you sure they're here in Gensokyou?" asked Minoriko. "It's not often that people end up here from Outside, and not usually in large groups."

Haruhi nodded her head. "They've got to be. First Koizumi… ah, he's the Deputy Chief… he vanished while we were investigating this shrine, then there was this weird wind, then the others disappeared one by one, and then I showed up here! There's no way they're not somewhere around here!"

Both goddesses looked at each other, and nodded. "It does sound about right," Shizuha said. "At least, as much as I've heard about this kind of thing. If they vanished around the Border, Gensokyou is the only place they could have ended up."

"You said you were near a shrine, though?" Minoriko asked. "I'd have thought you would end up near one of those; either the Moriya's or the Red-white miko's."

"'Red-white miko'?" Haruhi blinked in confusion. "There wasn't anyone at the shrine before everything happened, so I have no idea about that. Heck, I'm surprised you don't live at the shrine, since you're goddesses and all."

"Ah… the Red-white is the Hakurei miko. She's a trouble-maker, though she's important to Gensokyou's status," Minoriko said.

"And we live here rather than in a shrine because we're only active part of the year. Maybe if we had a priestess of our own who could look after the shrine the rest of the year, but who wants to even bother remembering us when it isn't even autumn?"

"Sister…"

Shizuha glanced off to the side. "Yeah, I know…"

Haruhi glanced between them. "Is she some sort of shrine thief or something? Did her family push you out of it? If she did, I'd be willing to show her!"

"No, no!" Both goddesses shook their head violently, as Minoriko continued. "The Hakurei have been around as long as Gensokyou itself. She's just a violent brute is all, blasting everyone around her if they so much as look at her wrong."

"If anything, the people who would be likely to be shrine thieves are the Moriyas," Shizuha said.

Quirking an eyebrow at that, Haruhi asked, "And you want me to go see them for help?"

Shizuha grimaced. "They brought their own shrine with them, thankfully, but they're really… pushy about gaining faith. They tried to take over the mountain, and even made an attempt on the Hakurei Shrine to get rid of the competition."

"The miko beat them down when they did that," Minoriko said, before giggling. "Something good that came from the Red-white, at least. They've calmed down since, but they're kind of shifty still. If they think that they can get faith from helping you, though, so they'll do it."

"If you say so," Haruhi said dubiously. "So, when can we head up there? I want to find everyone so we can explore Gensokyou. Plus they might be in trouble, so the sooner the better."

"Hm… it would probably be better to wait a while, now that I think of it," Shizuha said.

"What? How can I wait when the others are out there, probably looking for their Chief? It would be a dereliction of duty!"

"It's just that it's getting towards the end of the current guard shift on the mountain," Shizuha explained. "The tengu guards tend to get a bit testy near the end of their patrols, and since you can't fly we'll be easy to catch if they feel like making trouble even when sticking to the main paths."

"So? You're gods! Just curse them or something."

"We're gods of autumn. Cursing isn't really something we do."

Minoriko thought for a moment. "There's always Hina, but she doesn't like doing stuff like that."

"Who's that? Another sister?" Haruhi asked.

Shizuha waved her hand, dismissing the question. "No way. She's a curse goddess. Keeps to herself usually. If you get near her, the curses she keeps might leak out and get you."

"She tries to protect people, but just being around her can be dangerous," Minoriko said. "And having her release her curses intentionally, on the tengu for doing their jobs? Unless they were really out of hand, she wouldn't even consider it."

Haruhi frowned. "Whatever. We can just tell the tengu that I need to see the shrine. If the goddesses up there want people to come there shouldn't be a problem anyway."

"It's not a complete problem, but the fact that you're an Outsider, who they're suspicious of normally, going to see gods who came from Outside, right out of the blue…"

"What's suspicious about me? Are they paranoid or something?"

"A little bit, yes," Minoriko said, moving back to the hearth. "Plus, you are a bit… hm…"

"'A bit' what?" Haruhi asked. "I'm just a high school student!"

Shizuha nodded with a look of comprehension. "Oh… 'high school student?' That explains things. So is the priestess up there from what she says."

Haruhi blinked at the two of them, and then shook her head in frustration. "Whatever. I can't just sit here doing nothing! How about flying up? If you carry me we could be up there in no time I'd bet!"

"No way…" said Shizuha. "I can head up there myself because of my autumn duties, but carrying a human that they've never seen? Putting aside that carrying anyone would slow me down we'd be easy targets

"Well… when was the last time you ate?" Minoriko asked, forestalling Haruhi's response. "Had you been looking for your friends very long?"

"I ate an early breakfast because we were going to see the shrine, but we were going to have something later on."

"Would you like something, then? I have some stew that's just about ready. It was going to be for later on, but it's more than ready to eat now."

Grimacing, Haruhi put a hand over her stomach. She had been getting a little hungry, but it had been nothing major compared to finding out where Kyon and everyone were, but now that she had nothing to do but wait. "Yeah, that would be good. Thanks."

Minoriko nodded, and reached for a bowl and ladle. "Here, though be careful not to burn your tongue."

Haruhi accepted the food as it was portioned and offered, and dug in immediately. "Mm… S'good!" she exclaimed as she continued to eat.

"Of course!" Minoriko said proudly as she set up a kettle to boil. "I only use the freshest ingredients, naturally, and they've all ripened to perfection! When you think about autumn, it's about the food, after all."

"Mm…" Shizuha hummed as she spooned herself a bowl of the stew. "Don't be silly, sister. You think about the leaves. You can't miss them."

"Only near the forests," countered the other goddess. "In the fields there's just the harvest being gathered, and preparing for the coming winter. Leaves blowing through the wind offer a soothing view, but soon enough lie on the ground."

"It's that impermanence of their flight that makes it all the more worthwhile. The leaves fall from the trees, dance through the air, and upon resting on the ground prepare the earth for the plants in spring to grow and bear new leaves, which fall come our season to begin the cycle once again."

"The harvest has its own transitory nature as well." Minoriko sniffed haughtily. "The slow growth and care of the crops imprints them in the minds of the farmers. Upon collection, their time slowly winds away to be cooked and provide for the body of the farmers. Leaves can appeal only to one's sight, while the meal will appeal to sight, smell, taste, and touch, and hearing if you include the sounds of the boiling pot or sizzling grill."

"But the visual aspect of leaves concentrates the impression one gets from it. Though, it's not just sight; there's the sound of their crinkling, the scent in the air…

Haruhi, still eating after taking a second helping, watched incredulously as the two goddesses continued to argue about which aspect was better, each of course promoting their own domain. It was only due to a lack of heat in their words that she didn't suspect the situation of being just short of a fight. She wondered what would happen if the two did decide to fight. Shizuha had been able to take her down with just leaves. Who knew what they could do when fighting someone on the same level as themselves?

She shivered and edged closer to the hearth. Was it getting chilly? Her watch didn't say it wasn't too late, though for all she knew Gensokyou didn't match up with the normal world for that to matter. A glance out of the window to check the sun showed it still at a good height… as well as letting her catch a glimpse of blue hair and eyes duck down from peeking just over the sill.

Haruhi just about leapt for the window, startling the Aki sisters.

"Wha- what is it?" Minoriko asked.

"I saw someone! It was… ah! There!" Haruhi exclaimed, pointing outside.

Right at the edge of the Akis' garden were two young girls… no older than Kyon's sister, if that, and shorter regardless… or at least that's what Haruhi thought at first. Both were wearing blue dresses, but at each of their backs was a shimmering that took a moment for her to recognize as wings. One of them… a green-haired girl… had ones that looked like golden insect wings which twitched slightly in the air. The other… the owner of the blue hair Haruhi had spotted… had ones that appeared to be… multiple sets of ice crystals?

"What are they…? Get out of there!" Minoriko shouted from beside Haruhi, almost falling through the window as she leaned out and pointed at the two outside. "You'd better not be… hey!"

The two girls spun at the goddess' shout, eyes wide. On seeing that they had been spotted, the blue-haired one shoved the other and shouted "Go, go!" before turning to the house and thrusting out her arms.

Haruhi yelped as she was pulled back by the collar of her shirt, only to stop and stare in shock as the window was suddenly sealed by a layer of ice.

"Ooh… that fairy!" Minoriko growled. "Shizuha!"

"I've got her!" responded the other sister, already out and rounding the building. Haruhi heard several pops and saw the walls of the house rattle slightly as several yelps were issued. Scrambling for the door to get a better look, she once again was pulled back just in time to see several icicle shards fly past like arrows.

"Keep back!" Minoriko said. "That may just be a fairy, but she's a troublesome one. Just stay in here!" With that, the goddess ran to join her sister.

Of course, Haruhi immediately followed, though cautious of more frozen projectiles.

Once outside, she could only watch in awe as three figures flew through the air. The sister goddesses were releasing waves of glowing spheres at the girl that was apparently a fairy, who was in turn returning fire with a multitude of ice shards. All three of them dipped and jinked to avoid the opposing attacks while returning fire. Haruhi could barely keep up with it all, having to jump aside several times to avoid being hit by either sides' misses as wave after wave was thrown around.

Suddenly, the blue-haired fairy threw out her arms wide. Haruhi wondered why she was making a bigger target when the girl shouted "Perfect Freeze!" and the temperature almost instantly dropped. There was a shimmer in the air, followed by a flash, and then all of Shizuha and Minoriko's glowing balls hung motionlessly in the air, coated in ice. The two goddesses stared in shock as ice shattered along with their spheres, and then had to begin dodging frantically as the fairy began firing again.

"Ahaha! Two on one, three on one, even five on two! Even if you make yakimo, I'll just have kuzumochi instead!" the fairy crowed. "No leaf-plucker or dirt-stomper can beat me!"

"'Dirt-stomper'?" said Minoriko indignantly.

"'Leaf-plucker'? Why you little…!" Shizuha sputtered. "I'm not about to let some fairy mock us like that!"

"Hmph! You should just take an early nap! It may not be winter yet, but I'm at the strongest chilling! There's nothing that-"

*Thump!*

"-makes froggies pickle like shaved ice…" the fairy slurred as she rapidly drifted down to the ground. Both goddesses blinked and looked down between where Haruhi stood in the garden, and the now-split-open kabocha squash she had just thrown had landed.

"Didn't mean to hit her that hard…" Haruhi mused as she walked over to where the two descended. "From the way it looked I thought she was tougher than that."

"She's a fairy. A fairly strong fairy even being out of her favored season, but still a fairy," said Minoriko. "Hm… what should we do with her?"

The three of them looked down at the blue-haired girl, who was lying on her back cradling her head in her hands.

"The other fairy already got away," Shizuha said. "Probably long gone by now. Let's just pop this one so she can't bother us for a while. Maybe being dead will warn her off."

"… Wait, dead?" Haruhi shrieked. "You can't be thinking of killing her!"

"It's not a big deal. Considering how powerful she is, and the approach of winter, dying would only get rid of her for a few hours at best." Shizuha shook her head. "But it would be an inconvenience and might disorient her enough to wander back to her home."

"No way!" Haruhi stood between the goddesses and the fairy, arms spread out. "I want to meet all the kinds of people here, so we're not 'popping' anyone before I can even talk to them! Or after, even!"

"It's not like fairies can really die… permanently, I mean," Minoriko said.

"No!"

The two goddesses shared a look, and then sighed. "Fine," Shizuha relented. "It was only an idea. But you keep her out of trouble then. She tries to steal from us again, and…"

"Yeah, got it," Haruhi said. "I'll take care of it, don't worry."

"Good luck with that. We'll be seeing just how much damage she and her friend caused."

The Akis headed over to survey the damage. Glaring at their backs for a moment, Haruhi nodded to herself once and turned back to the fairy, who was now sitting up and sulking, even as she gingerly rubbed the spot where the squash had impacted.

"So! I'm-"

"Wasn't fair," the girl said, shooting a pointed look at Haruhi. "Weren't flying up with us, so weren't part of the duel. So it wasn't fair! You only surprised me 'cause of that, so you didn't really beat me…"

"Excuse me for not being able to fly," replied Haruhi, crossing her arms. "Besides, you were stealing, so you don't exactly have room to be complaining."

"Wasn't stealing. Maybe… Came down from fighting the toad, and was a bit hungry, but didn't take anything yet! Woulda probably asked, but then the fall sisters showed up and started shouting." The fairy hunched over. "Woulda beat them. I'm strong; I even almost beat Marisa last spring! And I did win against all the fairies, so I'm the strongest!"

"No excuses! So long as I'm here, you knock it off, and I'll make sure they don't try to start anything either."

"Hmph… who're you, anyway?"

"I'm Suzumiya Haruhi!" she proclaimed, beaming. "Founder and Chief of the 'Spreading Excitement all Over the World with Suzumiya Haruhi Brigade,' also known as the SOS-dan! Mission statement: to find aliens, espers, fairies, and all sorts of interesting beings and have fun with them!"

"Fairies?" That inclusion caused the blue-haired girl to perk up, looking up at Haruhi. "You really want to meet fairies? And play?"

"Of course! I want to meet all sorts of interesting people. Before coming to Gensokyou I was looking for espers, aliens, time travelers, and sliders, but couldn't find any. But here! There's goddesses, and tengu, and fairies, and more! I want to meet them all! I've only met the Akis and you so far, but it's still been amazing!"

The girl grinned and hopped to her feet. "I'm Cirno! I'm an ice fairy, and super-strong! Nice to meet you, Chief!"

"Same to you, Cirno!"

"So, so!" The fairy was jumping up and down, wings fluttering. "Do you want to play now? Maybe hide-and-go-seek? I can go get my friend and those three from by the shrine! Or, or how about tag? But maybe not 'cause you said you can't fly… We can go get a ball from the shopkeeper, or one of those kicking boxes! Or…!"

Haruhi couldn't help but giggle at both Cirno's sudden burst of energy and the suggestions for what they could do. It turned out she wasn't just a little girl in looks, but in her taste in games as well. Unfortunately…

"I can't," she apologized. "The rest of my Brigade is missing, and as Chief I need to find them to make sure they're all right. I can't go skipping out on my responsibilities, no matter how much I'd like to play with you."

"Oh…" Cirno said, looking down. "Yeah… the person in charge has to do stuff like that. It's really hard when I have to do that! So what are you gonna do?"

"The Akis said that the people up at the shrine on the mountain will help me. So once they figure it's safe to head up past the tengu, I'm going to see about it."

"Huh… why don't you just go now?"

"Apparently the tengu are really touchy about people showing up or something," Haruhi scoffed. "Which is pretty rude if you ask me, but since I don't know the way myself I have to wait until they think it's a good time."

"Aw…" Cirno pouted. "Just waiting is boring. You should take the fairy paths! Then you could be up and back and then we could all play!"

"Fairy paths?" asked Haruhi.

"I use them all the time and the tengu almost never bother me," the fairy said with a decisive nod. "They go all over the place, including to the top! I haven't gone that far, though… Only to the toad's pond for rematches."

Haruhi knelt down quickly and put her hands on Cirno's shoulders. "You can lead me through these fairy paths! It'd be a huge help!"

"Hey, yeah! Then you can find your friends, and then we can all have fun! Sure!" Cirno said. She grabbed Haruhi's hand, and started to fly towards the mountain, pulling the teenager along. "C'mon! Let's go!"

"Right!" Haruhi agreed, and turned to shout back to the goddesses. "Shizuha! Minoriko! Thanks for the help! I'll come back with everyone next time, I promise!" That done, girl and fairy sped for the mountain.

Coming out from around the side of the garden, Minoriko blinked as she caught a brief last glimpse of Haruhi disappearing into the woods. "Wha… where are you going? Wait! Oh, this can't be good… Shizuha! Problem!"


Author's Notes:

Well! Finally! A new chapter, and it only took a bit over a year… I think Haruhi was subconsciously interfering or something. Took me about 4 or 5 revisions/start-overs to get this done. But now it is!

Just to put up here; yes, I've seen Symposium of Post-Mysticism. Not using it, beyond any ideas I already had previous to its release that just happen to coincide. So no Kisume being a psycho-troll or whatever, for example.

Oh yeah… I'm on TVTROPES! Well, more like that EIoEM is on the "Fan Fic Recommendations" pages for Touhou and Haruhi. Still, very good for my ego.

Anyways… C & C & such are welcome. Things to the effect of "What took you so long?" and "The next one had better be out quicker!" will earn my undying enmity. Flames will be dumped in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost and then blamed on Mokou and Kaguya fighting.