The Apology

A 'Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi' fanfiction.

Note: Takes place during 'Sigh' as I attempt to sort out my own squicks with Kyon and Haruhi's ... discussion ... over a drunk Mikuru. This is now entirely from the light novels instead of the anime (though I swiped hair colors, just to annoy old school anime vs. manga Ranma purists. Lawl).

Disclaimer: The light novels of Suzumiya Haruhi are the creation of Nagaru Tanigawa. 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. ;)

I was furious. I don't know that I have ever been as enraged as I was at that moment.

You see this in high-school age anime all the time. The sort of scene where the hero has to put his beliefs on the line for the sake of the world, or where he risks the fate of the world for his own beliefs.

If you've seen any boy's anime, you know what I'm talking about.

But it wasn't anything like I always dreamed when watching those anime, and I may be doing everyone a disservice by calling myself the hero of this story. Those scenes always feature giant robots, cataclysmic world-destroying devices, weapons that annihilate entire solar systems, or maybe using galactic discs as giant throwing stars. That sort of thing. Those kinds of heroes wouldn't be unanimously told they were idiots, even by the people they were trying to save.

So, still fuming, I listened to Tsuruya's apology, not feeling it and barely hearing it. Apologizing with that smile and giggle? You mean nothing, Tsuruya. Even your face troubles me right now. As Nagato left, immediately and silently, walking away, Tsuruya followed the small girl with her eyes, then said, in a very quiet, conspiratorial voice, "Hey, hey, Kyon-kun, when you finish your boy's talk, come back to my house, around the back entrance, okay?"

She must have seen the lingering fury in my eyes, for she recoiled a half-step, and her smile faded. "Please," she added, though she didn't look away from my gaze. I don't trust myself to speak, so I nod. In my mind, I'm thinking of a tiny, Nagato-like nod, though it's probably hugely exaggerated compared to hers.

At any rate, this clandestine meeting will be where Tsuruya tells me that she's a slider, or a vampire, or a member of a yakuza family (though, I somewhat expect that, really)... Something that would suit Suzumiya's demented fantasies. I strongly doubt I will care, but maybe, just maybe, Tsuruya will say something that explains her own behavior.

I think, as though I have any right to judge. I'm just so angry right now I could lash out at anyone.

I turned away from the entrance, still carrying the extra equipment except for the camera that Suzumiya kept. It troubles me even further to know that Suzumiya's still inside there with Asahina ... but Koizumi's still out here. He sidles up to me on the walk down the hill. Just as Tsuruya predicted.

How did she know, I wonder?


You probably already remember the contents of my discussion with Koizumi (though, it was more of a speech from him to me, than anything else), but I will summarize here:

Koizumi is upset that I have lost my cool (well, sorry, Esper-san, I'm just a regular person, and I don't think 'divinity' is any excuse to behave like a spoiled brat, especially at Suzumiya's age!). Though I will admit, I was surprised at how angry I became myself. It doesn't make me less so to try and analyze it.

After dragging me all the way to the temple lot where the pigeons were used in the filming, Koizumi explains that the pigeons are now pure white, and it's an example of Suzumiya changing the world. Like Asahina's eye-beams weren't enough proof?

Anyway, ultimately it boiled down to the smile-masked esper begging me to make up with Suzumiya.

As if! Suzumiya crossed a line, Koizumi. But, I nodded dubiously at him anyway. I don't hate Koizumi, I'm just very angry.

The discussion ended with Koizumi offering me a taxi ride back home. The temple is a good distance from where I live, so it would be nice ... it's also quite a walk to Tsuruya's house. So, I declined his offer in any case, saying the walk would clear my mind.

I had a lot of energy. Angry energy that made my stomach boil. Even so, Koizumi's taxi had rolled out of sight no more than a few minutes before a large black limo pulled out of a side-street, and cruised to a stop next to me.

This is a sight unusual enough that I turned to look. What could anyone in that car want to do with me...?

The window rolls down, and Tsuruya's face pops out. "That took way too long!" she protests, shaking her head. "Anyway, get in, get in!"

Before the driver can get out and open the doors - I think that's how it's supposed to work - Tsuruya opens the door, grabs my arm, and yanks me into the vehicle.

Koizumi had been left with all the remaining equipment, but if he can take that taxi whenever he wishes, he won't have to carry it far.

After landing awkwardly on the seat next to her, almost sprawled across Tsuruya (I was in little mood to enjoy it), she squirms around me, not seeming to mind the contact, and slams the door shut.

Immediately, the limo begins rolling down the hill. "Sorry, sorry!" Tsuruya says brightly, straightening up and making no move to push me away from leaning on her.

I straighten myself up and look out the window. "Suzumiya-related?" is all I have the will to ask.

"Eh ... a little," Tsuruya says slowly. "But, hey, can't a girl want to have talksies with a boy on her own?"

"It's too suspicious."

"Oh? Really?" Tsuruya adopts a thoughtful expression, gazing upwards at the window in the roof and touching one fingertip to her lips in contemplation. Then she turns to me with bright eyes and a huge grin. "Was it the limo that was suspicious?"

"No," I say tiredly. My anger is still there, but dim and out of reach, like a pressure behind my eyeballs waiting to intensify on cue and turn my vision red again. "It's just that girls don't ever want to talk to me, except in the context of Suzumiya."

"Hmmm... 'Suzumiya', you say," Tsuruya drawls. "You're that mad at Haru-nyan?"

One eyebrow twitches, that orb of pressure gives a restrained pulse. "Yeah," I agree, seeing no reason to deny it. "I'm mad about a few things."

"Hmmm..." Tsuruya seems to like that noise. "Are you mad at me, nyoro~?"

I have until this point tried not to look directly at her. So, I turn, and actually look at her.

Incidentally, she found enough time while I was talking with Koizumi to change her clothes. I have never seen her in anything other than her school uniform, so the realization that she is wearing a civilian's kimono causes me to blink in surprise. It looks of high quality - very fitting on her. The yakuza image is only strengthening in my mind.

But when I turn my gaze to her face, as expected, she looks only slightly troubled by all of this, not nearly as concerned as I would have hoped. Hope, expectation ... locked in an eternal struggle, like the unstoppable force, and the immovable object. "Tsuruya...san," I say, remembering to append the honorific aloud, even if I don't think it ... after all, dropping it is less formal, "I would be lying if I said I wasn't bothered. But why are you asking? You saw me lose my temper."

"Oh, so..." Tsuruya's smile fades, and she looks a bit downcast for a moment.

"I like to see people smiling," she says, grinning and giving a hands-out, 'can't-be-helped' shrug. "It may be a bit silly, but I like there to be happiness in the world, yeah?"

"What's that got to do with me? And getting Asahina-san drunk?"

Tsuruya makes that absent lip-tapping gesture. "Hmm..." Then she turns and fixes me with a serious gaze. "Haru-nyan should be happy, if that doesn't sound too silly."

"We've been over this," I say in irritation. "I can't condone just trying to appease that girl whatever she tries, when she uses people as her playthings! It still makes me angry."

The limo pulls into Tsuruya's driveway and stops. "Well," Tsuruya says, shaking her head, "Haru-nyan has gone home, even though I invited her to stay with Mikuru-chan. So, come inside."

"What's this about?" I ask, following her out of the limo. The driver exits the vehicle but says nothing, just bowing to Tsuruya, who nods at him.

"Well," Tsuruya says, her grin coming back, "we're going to have dinner and talksies about things."

"Bribing me with a meal?" I ask, unimpressed, but able to keep the derision from my voice.

"Haha, no," Tsuruya says impishly, her wooden sandals clicking across the stone path as she leads me to her house. "Dinner is only a setting. Don't worry about it!" After she slides open the door and I kick my shoes off, Tsuruya points at one of her maids, waiting inside the entryway. "Oi, this boy needs a nice hot soak!" she demands. "If he doesn't behave, we'll have to go in and bathe with him to make sure it gets done, nya?"

"I understand," the maid replies in a meek voice, not raising her eyes from the floor. "This way, Kyon-dono," she says, beckoning me.

"What's this about?" I ask, somewhat bewildered. This is getting silly; what's Tsuruya's plan, anyway?"

"You've had a long day!" Tsuruya says with a shrug. "And you can't expect to enjoy a high-class meal with the dirt of the road on you, can you?"

"If I protest," I say slowly, "what will you do?"

"Exactly what I said!" she answers, her grin widening.

Perhaps it is my doom to be manipulated by women my entire life. If I anger Suzumiya and disassociate myself with the SOS Brigade, does that make me subject to Tsuruya's will? No, I've been manipulated enough today. "And what about my parents? They're going to be suspicious that I don't come home."

"No problem!" Tsuruya says with a beaming smile, leaning forward at me to peer into my eyes. "They already know you're here. I borrowed Mikuru-chan's phone, so it's fine, nyoro~!"

Rubbing the point of a single finger into my temple, I sigh and turn to the maid. "I don't want to be difficult for you. I apologize for the unreasonable demands you must endure."

Even though this maid must be in her twenties, obviously older than us, she is subject to the whims of Tsuruya. "I will show you to the bath," she says demurely, turning around and leading the way.

Feeling I have no choice in the matter, I follow. She bows to me at the door to the bath house, then, her eyes not meeting mine, she explains, "Tsuruya-dono has asked that I prepare proper clothing for you for this meal. Ah, I don't wish to be unreasonable, Kyon-dono, but I do follow the mistress's wishes ... would you please leave your dirty clothes in the empty hamper, then wear the yukata she has set aside for you?"

"I'm guessing she told you to call me Kyon?" I ask in response, eyeing the massive bath. Probably our entire class could fit in it comfortably.

"That's correct," she says, still not raising her eyes.

"Fine, fine. I don't want to make needless trouble for anyone else."

She bows, then when she rises says, "Thank you, Kyon-dono. Please enjoy your bath as long as you like; Tsuruya-dono will be waiting for you when you're done."

"Right," I sigh, bowing back. "Thank you as well." I'm tempted to ask her name, but I get the feeling she would tell me it was unimportant.

Stepping into the bathing room, I follow her instructions, throwing my day clothes in the hamper. Truth be told, despite my protestations and irritations, and my true resentment of feeling I have no real power of choice in the matter, washing myself vigorously with cold water does cool my temper a bit.

Telling myself that I should set all that aside for the moment and enjoy this high-class environment, once I'm clean, I settle into the bath. I should probably describe it, because I can admit to myself that in all likelihood I am almost certainly not going to be able to enjoy such facilities again. A once-in-a-lifetime chance. It occurs to me that this is where Tsuruya bathes every day, and Asahina herself, just earlier today before...

At any rate, aside from being large enough to fit an entire classroom of students, it is made of stone, with elegant wooden panel walls. The sloping washing area floor has wooden slats, so the excess water flows between them and into a concealed drain. It is rather like the bathing area one might find in a high-class mountain retreat, or an outdoor hot-spring, except indoors.

So, I allow myself to stew in my own resentment, sweating out my anger in the hot water. After an unknown time, breathing in the steam and wondering if my fury will flow out of my pores, I finally exit. To settle my nerves, and perhaps to try and snap myself out of Asahina-related thoughts, I splash myself with cold water a few times before toweling myself off and putting on the robes that had been left for me. A bit big, but a robe is a robe, so it fits, if it's just a bit loose on me.

I almost feel like a feudal lord ... though, I would have to be an esteemed prisoner of a rival lord to be in this situation. Oh well.

After exiting the bath, giving a forlorn glance to the clothes I leave behind, I'm startled to see the same maid waiting for me outside. Could it be that ... she waited for me the entire time?

"It's no trouble," she assures me. "Ah ... if I might...?" she trails off, one hand reaching towards my belt.

"Did I put it on wrong?"

Taking that for assent, she quickly redoes the yukata tie and adjusts the fit. Is this really proper! Anyway, it's not too big, I just have no idea how to put it on properly.

Well, it's a small belt, not the wide sash on a woman's festival outfit. Even so, when she's done arranging things, the awkward knot I had tied in the belt is replaced with a more elegant one that tucks away the loose ends, shifted to my left side, just below my elbow. So that's how it's done?

I feel a bit embarrassed. "I'm sorry to be so problematic for you."

"It's nothing," she assures me, giving a slight, sympathetic smile. "This way, please, Kyon-dono."

I follow her in silence, only pausing for a moment to examine myself in a mirror. With the maid's arrangement, the outfit looks more proper on me; the image of 'Kyon-dono' the feudal lord is amplified. Well, except for the Tsuruya family crest that's patterned all over the outfit. Imprisoned rival lord, or Kyon-in-exile.

Not wanting to inconvenience the maid, and suspecting that Tsuruya's got me prisoner at the very least until my laundry is cleaned, I resume course behind her. She leads me outside of the main house, around a large sand garden, and into a small hut.

'Small hut' only means in comparison to the estate in general. Folding panels could divide the room into halves, and each half would be a bit smaller than my bedroom, but not by much. The panels conceal one tiny of corner of the room, probably hiding whatever furniture is in here. In the center is a sunken hearth with a small, dying fire, a kettle hanging above it. On the floor is a low, formal table with place settings for two. Tsuruya kneels behind the table and smiles brightly when she sees me ... but aside from the mat beneath herself and the one that is presumably for me, there isn't any additional furniture visible in the room.

"There you are!" she says cheerfully, her voice full of energy. Her gaze goes to the maid who stands outside the doorway. "We're ready for dinner now, alright? Kyon-kun, take a seat!"

"Of course," I say, trying to kneel. Even with the yukata, this quickly becomes very uncomfortable, so I shift to a more comfortable cross-legged position before the maid even returns with a heavy tray.

She silently sets out the dishes before us, then bows her head. "Will there be anything else, Tsuruya-dono?"

Tsuruya's glinting eyes survey the collected dishes, then she looks up and nods. "Yeah, yeah! Ah, Kyon-kun should have some milk, and bring me another bottle of that!"

I briefly wonder what 'that' is, but before I can ask, Tsuruya takes the kettle from over the fire and pours tea for both of us. "Eat your fill!" she encourages me. "Just don't eat too much, or you'll get sick."

It seems a waste, all that food before the two of us ... it's too much. Still, it's the best meal I've seen since that island detective misadventure. "Thank you, Tsuruya-sempai," I finally say. She is a sempai, regardless of my feelings on the matter, so that doesn't aggravate me as much as 'san'. Though, I'm being petty.

"After you," I say, nodding my head. "I'm still a bit confused as to what this is all about."

She waves a hand dismissively. "No problem! I'm going to make everything up to you."

"I see," I say, frowning. I appreciate these high-class experiences, don't get me wrong, but I will not be bribed to forget my morality so easily.

When I don't make a move towards any of the dishes, she gives a small snort, still smiling, and snatches my plate from the table. She serves up a large pile of rice, and quickly adds her pick of the dishes around it, pausing thoughtfully here and there, as though able to decide what I like. Then she hands the plate back to me, instead of setting it down.

"Ah ... thanks." Though, I feel a bit like a child, now. Still, I take the plate and put it down, sampling some garlic chicken carefully.

"There you go!" she says enthusiastically, serving herself a heaping plate as well.

Very quickly, the maid returns, quietly setting a ceramic carafe of something before Tsuruya, and another before me. Glancing inside, I see probably a liter of milk.

"You may be calcium deficient, nyoro~!"

"Is that so?" I ask dubiously.

I confess; my mood was heavily swayed by the fine things before me. The meal was exquisite, and my temper softened, like wax exposed to the sun as we ate together in relative silence. Tsuruya was quietly thoughtful, though still smiling, only really speaking to insist that I finish my milk, and drink more tea.

It's hot, and oddly bitter, but not bad. It must have steeped too long on the fire, while I was in the bath.

Once I'd eaten my fill, which wasn't much from my point of view, since I was drinking so much milk and tea, I bowed my head. "Thank you for your generosity, Tsuruya-sempai."

"No problem, no problem!" she said, her cheeks slightly flushed. Then she giggled, and turned her face towards the doorway. "Hey, clear these dishes, and thens you're dismissed for the evening, nya?"

The maid bowed, cleared all the dishes except for our teacups and Tsuruya's carafe, then bowed again and closed the door behind her on her way out.

"Well, we're alone," I said, rubbing at my temple with one hand. "So, what is it we need to discuss about Suzumiya?"

I feel oddly ambivalent. That food must be leeching blood from my brain, taking extra power to digest. I feel suddenly I shouldn't move much, or I might get lightheaded.

"Hmm," Tsuruya murmurs thoughtfully, looking skyward. Ceiling-ward, I guess, since we're indoors. "Eh, well, I like to see smiling people!"

"That's fine," I agree with a shrug. "But just because it makes one person smile, is it alright to... Ech... How do I say this." I knit my brows together, but the anger I was previously feeling seems distant, inaccessible.

"I don't think it's right to put someone in that situation," I finally say. "I especially think that it's wrong that in that entire room, only one person was looking out for Asahina-san. And when I stood up for her, and told Haru- Eh, that is, Suzumiya, everyone turned against me."

"Even Nagato-chi?" Tsuruya asks, shifting her position to rest her elbows on the edge of the table to peer up at me.

Nagato ... well, I hadn't considered much. Really, she was just an observer, still. Koizumi was just a pawn in Haruhi- Damn! Again! In Suzumiya's game. Despite his explanations that it was something he had to do as a defender of the world and justice and so on, I want to punch his smiling face for just blindly enabling her. He never does a damn thing to try and dissuade her once she decides on what to do.

For his vaunted heroism, he leaves the genuinely hard work of trying to talk Suzumiya out of anything to me. What a jerk.

But even as those thoughts cross my mind in a tangle, I sullenly admit, "Nagato didn't do anything at all, I guess. She just watched." Then my brows furrow, and I look at Tsuruya. "And ... Tsuruya-sempai, you went along with Suzumiya's plan without a care in the world. How could you do that to your friend?" More accusation than I wanted, but that lost anger seems to be finding its way back.

Tsuruya's grin slips a bit. "I wanted Haru-nyan to smile," she says simply. "And Mikuru-chan ... ah ... well. Hmm, I want to take care of all my friends! I want them all to be happy!"

"I'm not happy," I tell her, very directly.

Her grin vanishes, and she turns her gaze to her carafe, which she uses to fill her teacup again. "You know, Kyon-kun ... maybe it's not so obvious to you? Haru-nyan was very upset, even if she only seemed angry. She was, how to put this ... I think she hoped somehow she would make it so she could persuade you to agree with her?"

"I don't care about that!" I snap. Ugh, my head is swimming. I take more of the tea before me, which Tsuruya refills from her carafe. "Yelling and ... bah. What am I trying to say ... I guess I want Haruhi, ugh, Suzumiya to grow up. I want her to treat her friends as friends, not toys. Smacking Mikuru, er, Asahina, over the head, what's that supposed to be anyway!"

"Jealousy," Tsuruya answers, grinning toothily. "You've never stood up for her that way, right?"

"Well," I say, thinking. There was that one time, but I shouldn't mention it to Tsuruya. She still hasn't told me what kind of non-human person she is yet. And, anyway, that closed space experience that she thought was a dream ... doesn't comfort or console me in any way right now. It just makes me more bitter. "I do an awful lot for her she never sees," I say instead. "And I don't get rewarded for it at all."

"She's awkward," Tsuruya says with a shrug. "Haru-nyan isn't a bad person at all. I know! Do you know who she's mad at?"

"Me," I answer instantly. "For not letting her use Mikuru-chan as a toy." Damn, where has my control of my tongue gone? That should be Asahina, not Mikuru.

Tsuruya makes a waving gesture with one hand, from the wrist, as though to tell me to cool it down, or it was nothing. "Nope!" she sings. "Haru-nyan is angry at Haru-nyan for not seeing that she would upset you! And she's putting so muchly into her movie, so much heart, that it's crushing her inside to see you suddenly turn against her!"

I sputter wordlessly in response. I'm sorry. I wish I could say I had some suave, smooth protest to launch at her instead, but I can say nothing.

The green haired, fanged smiling girl nods quickly. "Yeah, yeah, that's what it was. But Haru-nyan doesn't like to show her heart. So when she makes Kyon-kun angry, she yells at Kyon-kun, because she doesn't know how else to say it. She feels bad that she upset you."

"That just... If that's so, she needs to grow up even more! She needs to learn how to say, 'I'm sorry, I've gone too far'!" I slam my hands down on the table. "I'm tired of all these demands that I pretend this didn't happen - tired of everyone saying I need to apologize to her!"

"No, no, no," Tsuruya says, shaking her head and glancing at my teacup. She raises her carafe, then seems to change her mind, and fills her own cup, ignoring mine. "Haru-nyan doesn't want you to apologize."

I blink in confusion. "What?"

"She wants you to forgive her."

"E...even so... That's a lot to ask for," I manage.

"Even so," Tsuruya says with a shrug. "Haru-nyan will give up on everything if she can't make it up to you. And you know Haru-nyan; can you imagine her begging for forgiveness?"

I can't even form an image of an apologetic Haruhi in my mind. Though... When I consider what Tsuruya says, I can see she may be right. Because there is no image of Haruhi apologizing, when she's upset and embarrassed, and realizes she's stepped over a line, she acts angry instead of sorry.

Erg... Suzumiya, not Haruhi. I stare at my teacup, realization dawning on me. "You ... slipped me alcohol, didn't you?" I ask in accusation.

Tsuruya sits up straight and clutches her stomach, bursting into loud peals of laughter. "Yeah! Of course!"

"Of course?" I echo, eyebrow twitching. I don't know if I'm an angry drunk, but I suspect I should not drink when I'm angry. I slam my hands onto the table again. "Tsuruya! I... What the hell! You know I'm upset about what you did to Miku- Asahina, and you just do the same thing to me!"

She makes that tiny wave, still chuckling. "I drank waaaaaaay more than you," she says, her eyes slightly unfocused. "How does a willful girl like me or Haru-nyan really apologize, eh?"

"This is your apology?" I asked, my head fully swimming now. "Getting me drunk and telling me to make up with Suzumiya?"

"No, I gave your liquor for another reason entirely," she says with bright cheer. "Mood setting! For the mood! What made you mad about seeing Mikuru-chan drunk?"

I blink, looking back. During the island fiasco, we drank red wine ... we probably shouldn't have, but Asahina was more adorable than usual after she got smashed on a few mouthfuls. So it wasn't her being drunk, it was her being taken advantage of while drunk.

"Yeah! Exactly!" Tsuruya exclaims. "And it was me who followed Haru-nyan's instructions and did it. So, Kyon-kun gets mad at me because I did something that seemed careless towards Mikuru-chan, right?"

"Seemed careless?"

"Well, what's the worst that could happen?"

"Someone could take advantage of Mikuru!" That's what makes my blood boil. That and Haru- Damnit. Suzumiya not growing up.

"I don't think Koizumi's like that," Tsuruya answers, teeth glinting.

"Suzumiya obviously is."

"That's true," Tsuruya says, giving her 'can't-be-helped' shrug again. "But, that's why I drank! I put Mikuru-chan at risk, right?"

"Yes," I say. I'm still more upset with Suzumiya, but Tsuruya's complicity aggravates me.

"So, now I'm at risk!"

I blink at her stupidly a few times, then look around.

We're still alone in the small room. "From who?" I ask, puzzled.

"Hahaha! Kyon-kun, such a gentleman, playing stupid out of respect!" she says before she bursts into another peal of laughter. "This is my apology to Kyon-kun! I want to ask you to make up with Haru-nyan, so, take advantage of me!"

She springs to her feet and folds the screens in the corner out of the way, revealing a large futon and heavy blankets. I'm too stunned to do more than stare as she swiftly lays out the futon, then sits on it, beckoning me closer.

It takes a long time for words to come to my mouth, and it's a bit of a struggle, but finally I say, "You're not serious."

Now, if I were someone else, perhaps Taniguchi, who graded Tsuruya as a solid A, I would have leapt at her. If I were more drunk, well, from past experience I probably would have just passed out. But I'm not someone else, and while I am lightheaded, my control over myself isn't totally gone. In any case, this is just too much for my conflicted heart right now.

"Hey, hey, you've had your first kiss, right? You have that look."

Not in the real world, but, "Uh ... yeah," I admit. "Wait, 'that look'?"

"Then there's no problem! This is just a secret between us, and if you don't do anything with me, then my heart will break too, because I'll know I was responsible for the rift between yourself and Haru-nyan." She pats the bedding next to her.

"But ... I..." This is too much for words. "So, I don't really have a choice?"

Her smile switches to a scowl. "Of course you do," she says, sighing. "Forgive, or don't. If you insist, I'll leave, nya."

"There's... What about... Er, I mean, if I was saving myself for someone-"

"It's a secret," Tsuruya says with an imperious sniff. "A bond between Kyon-kun and myself, that neither of us ever reveal. Aside from which, if this can't make you smile, my heart will break again."

I try and mull things over, so she gives an exasperated sigh and rises to her feet, loosening the sash of her robes before tugging me over to the futon. Once I'm sitting there, she goes to the lights and dims them, then starts tugging at my robe. "I guess I won't say no," I admit, still overwhelmed by this sudden development.

"This is skinship," Tsuruya says. "I want to be friends with everyone, nya? It was my fault things got to this point, so I will fix them!"

"Um," I manage, as our robes open, and her hot breath is on my neck, contrasted by the slightly cold touch of her nose. Her soft, warm fingertips are gently trailed by her elegant nails. The scent of her hair fills my nostrils before she captures my mouth with her own, one hand going-

Anyway, out of respect for Tsuruya-sempai, you'll have to use your imagination for the next part.

I do not apologize.


Much later, the lights are completely off. I stare at the ceiling, a blanket half across me, and half across Tsuruya-sempai's warm figure. The clouds of the earlier afternoon have cleared, and now the only illumination is from the high, narrow windows, a few slivers of moonlight spilling into the room.

"Mmmm," Tsuruya-sempai sighs happily, resting her head on my shoulder. "Now," she says suddenly, one fingertip tracing lines across my chest, "we both know that this is a friend-skinship, not a love-love one, nyoro~?"

"What a thing to say," I manage to very weakly protest. My fire and rage are gone, completely wiped out by this event. I feel guilty, but morbidly compelled: "Have you, er, done this before?"

I can feel her face scrunch up against my shoulder. "No," she says softly. "But for Kyon-kun and Haru-nyan, well, that is my apology. Of course, Haru-nyan can never know."

I don't even want to imagine how Haru- Suzu... Oh, well. Fine. I don't even want to imagine how Haruhi would feel if she found out. If everything Tsuruya-sempai said was true, at least. At this point, I absolutely cannot doubt her earnestness. Even so, what has transpired ... is bewildering, at the very least.

An 'apology' of this magnitude from someone as high-class as Tsuruya...

"Yeah," I agree when she stops tracing shapes on me and jabs me several times. "It'd be worth more than both of our lives."

"Hah... Haru-nyan means well, nyoro~!"

"Do we have to talk about this now?" I ask, grimacing.

"Yes! Absolutely. Or was my apology not good enough...?" She shifts one leg against me, and I squirm in embarrassment.

" was fine," I say quickly. "I... Um. I accept. Fully. I mean, yes."

"Good! Good!" she exclaims, letting her curled leg rest across my thighs. "I like you, Kyon-kun, but no falling in love, okay?"

It makes me feel bad to admit this, but strangely enough, I didn't feel anything like love towards Tsuruya-sempai. I know it sounds cold, but I felt a tremendous sense of relief, maybe companionship, and a tiny bit of affection. A new problem has arisen, however. Guilt threatens to consume my heart, where it was once filled with rage.

Even so, not for one moment could I imagine dating this girl. Long term, I wouldn't be good enough for the kind of family she comes from, no matter how I tried. Intermediate term, if Haruhi found out, she would, quite literally, explode. Short term, as likable as Tsuruya-sempai is, she is completely insane.

I mean that in the nicest way possible. I really do.

"Tsuruya-sempai," I finally manage to say, shaking my head minutely, "there was a time when I thought the strangest, most bewildering girl I could ever meet was Haruhi. But here we are, after..." I felt my face heating up; I couldn't talk about it so casually, even as we lay together. "After... Anyway, then we're talking about Haruhi and me. Isn't that selling yourself just a bit short?"

"And no feeling guilty," she says breezily, as though able to read my emotions. "From now on, as a friend of Haru-nyan and Kyon-kun, we must avoid this as much as possible, nya." Then she makes a thoughtful noise. "Of course, I can't do this with anyone else except for you, Mikuru-chan, and Haru-nyan, so I may demand payment once in a while!"

"Payment?" I ask, staggered. Suddenly, this doesn't sound high-class at all!

"Yes! Our occasional skinship can be payment for loaning things to you and Haru-nyan. She won't think there's anything unusual about me giving things to the two of you, and I can make sure you stay on the right path with Haru-nyan!"

It seems I have no real choice at all, but I cannot help the smile that comes to my face. "Of course," I reply.

She rises suddenly, kneeling at my side and allowing the blanket to slip away. "Good!" she exclaims, totally unabashed about the display she's giving me. Though, I suppose at this point, there wouldn't be a purpose to it. She searches through the pile of clothes and picks out my robe, and then her own. "We'll take a bath together, then I'll send you home before Mikuru-chan wakes up."

"Er, okay," I manage, somewhat dazed.

Her eyes swing to me, narrowing slightly, though she still has that wide smile on her lips. "Just a bath," she warns me.

Did I mention she was an energetic girl? I doubt I could do anything more than 'just a bath' if she wanted to. Or I did. Not that I wouldn't mind, but... No, no. As strange as this is - and I should honestly be getting used to strange things - I feel I've made a friend today. Not one I can afford to be close to frequently, but ... well, it's something.

I cannot help but be touched by Tsuruya-sempai going so far out of her way to try and take away my negative feelings, just so she can see myself and Haruhi smile again. And I do not mean that in any kind of dirty way.

After we get cleaned and dressed, Tsuruya-sempai walks me to her car, where the driver is waiting. All the other serving staff seem to be gone, or just out of sight, and she waves at me brightly as the limo pulls out of the driveway.

The driver says nothing to me, and out of respect for Tsuruya-sempai's status, I don't bring up anything either. I would absolutely die if word got out. While I suspect that Tsuruya-sempai herself would get over it mostly instantly, Haruhi...

What a tangle this is!

As I get out of the limo and thank the driver with a bow, I decide that it'd be for the best to pretend this didn't happen. I respect Tsuruya-sempai, oddly enough, more than before this all happened. But adding this into the confusion, well, I've got my hands full. I can remember her message without concentrating on ... the rest.

My little sister opens the door to the house while I'm standing in the street. It's only when I realize that the limo is gone, that it occurs to me I've spent at least a minute just standing still, staring at nothing in particular. "Oh, it's Kyon!" she says brightly. "I thought I heard a car stop here."

"I got a ride home," I tell her.

"Oh?" My little sister peers at me suspiciously. "The lady who called said you were angry about something. Are you alright?"

"Calcium deficiency," I decide after a moment, smiling weakly. "I drank almost a whole liter of milk; I'm positive I will feel better in the morning."

Isn't that what Tsuruya-sempai had suggested? I think so. So, yes, let's just go with that.

Author's note: I don't really know why I wrote this. When I saw that scene in the anime, it squicked me badly due to the lack of, eh, closure I guess, on the disagreement between Haruhi and Kyon. I wondered where all his upset could possibly have gone, and was vastly bothered by the possibility that Haruhi just willed his anger away. I read the novelization, and that scene didn't upset me as badly there, but I found room for this fic anyway.

So, a small pointless nothing, meaningful of, er, less. Meant to be somewhat funny (as funny as it can be, considering). Mostly just working my feelings on that difficult scene out. I strongly doubt that any other stories I actually write

Astute readers will realize this is the third time I've tried to post this story. For whatever reason, a certain reader (note here that I am polite enough to refer to him anonymously, a courtesy he does not return, because he is a troll) got really offended by this fic and started flaming me because my religion was not his religion, and evidently, because I wrote this story I 'could never understand what forgiveness was'. Mostly, it was the troll's stance that his opinions were fact, and I was wrong for daring to disagree.

Hopefully ff net's ignore feature will work, since I asked him politely to leave me alone three times, and he did not. We'll see.