Monday, the day of the Sports Meet. After viewing some of the other events, Kyon steadily began to lose his confidence. As he took shade from the sunlight, he remembered the reason why he had to win first place. To him, saving the world was only second to being able to buy an air conditioner for the Brigade Clubroom with the money.
With the events of last night, the three of the four reliable runners in the SOS Brigade were fatigued beyond hopes.
Koizumi looked fine with his smile. Haruhi thought nothing of him and believed that he was in good shape. The truth was that he was heavily bandaged under his T-shirt from last night's battle with Blue.
Nagato was also not in her best shape. She too had received quite a battering from Blue. Kyon remembered the way she had been limping when she was approaching him in the space. He'd hoped that she would be able to heal herself completely overnight. He could only say so much for the Brigade's trump card.
Kyon's body had taken the most damage. He was tired physically and exhausted mentally. He tried some practice jogging to see how much he could take, but it was no good; he was out of breath after a minute. He had biked, leaped, sprinted, and virtually completed a marathon around the neighborhood in the Closed Space, or at least his body felt that way. He could only hope that his length of the track would be short enough to make it possible for him to reach the next runner before his breath gave out.
"You're running last Kyon." Haruhi said to Kyon as they gathered in the Clubroom.
Of course, what luck. Not only was the last runner supposed to be the best runner, but he would be the most penalized if the team lost. What was the point? It would have been better for the world if he had let Blue stab him then and there in the closed space.
After changing, the Brigade left for the track. Of course, this was the biggest event of the Sports Meet. Basically every club in the school related to sports participated. There were no other events scheduled at the same time. Seemingly every student in the school was gathered around the track field in addition to the parents and other nonstudent visitors.
"Alright everyone, let's show this entire crowd what we're made of!" Haruhi shouted as the runners got to their places.
"Good luck, Kyon. We have to win this one." Koizumi said.
"Good luck to you too." Kyon sighed.
"I mean it. We have to win this one." Koizumi smiled.
"Suzumiya may destroy the world depending on the outcome of this race, Kyon." Koizumi continued casually. "But no pressure."
Feeling slightly sick, Kyon walked in the opposite direction to the starting line for the last runners.
Okabe prepared the starting signal.
"Stop damn it!" Kyon hammered his thighs with his fist to stop his legs from shaking.
"Three, two ,one…" Okabe counted.
The starting signal went off with a bang.
The first runner from the SOS Brigade was Koizumi. It looks like had a good night's rest since last night's event. Still, there was a slight limp to his running. Kyon could tell from a distance that he was suppressing his wincing under his smile. He made good time, even keeping up with most of the other runners. Kyon's eye twitched when he saw Arakawa and Mori in the crowd cheering. As touching as it was to realize that Koizumi had family to cheer him on in the Sports Meet there was one thing that bothered him. Impassive was an understatement for their expressions. Did they not know how to enjoy these events? At least smile…
Koizumi passed the baton to Asahina who began run with everything she had with a roaring cheer and applause. Kyon cursed under his breath for being the last runner. He wasn't able see any of the service from where he was. So much for his moral support, but there was still hope. Taniguchi was videotaping from the front of the crowd with a very expensive camera. It would suck so hard if the world ended with his fail running. No! He was going to win! He was going to ask Taniguchi later if he could see the tape!
The SOS Brigade was in seventh place out of eight runners. This was bad. Kyon looked over at Haruhi who was tapping her foot ominously. She gave the feeling of a drag racing vehicle on standby- and then she began to smirk when Asahina neared Nagato.
Asahina passed the baton with two hands and what seemed like a clumsy bow. Kyon knew that Nagato was doing everything in her ability to win the race. If it wasn't for some magnetic ability she had applied to her hand, the baton would have rolled away into the crowd, dooming the race and the world. Magically the baton snapped into Nagato's grip as she rocketed into her stretch of track.
Nagato was doing excellent! Kyon pumped his fist as Nagato caught up to the ahead runners They were in fourth place, third, second, then third… then forth… back to fifth… what? Hope was gone faster than Kyon's allowance on a Saturday mystery hunt. Nagato was slowing down, was she getting tired? She slowed down into the speed of an average runner. Luckily she was right in front of Haruhi before she came to a complete stop.
With an explosive start Haruhi blasted across the strip of track knocking down the runners beside her with the sheer force of her take off, creating a vapour halo with her forehead shining in the sunlight. A chain reaction occurred as the fallen runners tripped up the runners next to them and so on. Everyone was on the ground as Haruhi left them in her dust clouds and pity.
There were just two people left in the race. It was Haruhi and one of the runners from the track team. They were equally matched. Kyon was too mesmerized at the beauty of her take off that he did realize that she was headed straight at him at full speed and that the person running beside him was the Captain of the track team.
The baton touch on both sides was almost simultaneous, but the Captain had the head start. Haruhi's running was outstanding, but her baton passing was horrible. It made it extremely hard to receive for Kyon when she was brandishing it around like a lunatic waving around a knife. He almost dropped it before hauling it out of there.
Kyon's mind was white. As much pain as he was in, he found himself running faster than he had ever had before. He was even catching up to the track team Captain. He focused solely on pushing his limits. They were nose to nose.
"Do not lose Kyon! He heard Koizumi cheer as the finish line came into sight.
"Almost there! Just a little!" Asahina said right beside him.
Kyon was sure he heard Nagato mouth something similar. Something he couldn't hear.
"RUN FOR YOUR LIFE KYON!" Haruhi screamed as Kyon began falling behind the Captain.
Haruhi's words stuck in Kyon's head. He made a burst of speed and catching up to the Track Team Captain, they were now running side by side. Kyon's legs began to tire. He had reached his limit. No matter how much he pushed, it was just impossible. His body wouldn't follow. He was going to black out in exhaustion. His mind was going blank.
And then he found himself in a completely white space. It was bright and completely empty. He slowed down, looking around. Was it another Closed Space? Now of all times? No, this was no closed space. This place was too warm. It wasn't hollow and depressing like he knew Closed Space was. He stopped completely, sat down on the floor of the strange space to catch his breath as he wondered where he was. At first he thought that he had finally passed out from exhaustion and was now in a dream, or some new world Haruhi made for failing the race. But somehow, he knew that wasn't the case. He could feel that he was still running, somewhere far away.
Then he felt someone sit down behind and lean against him back to back. He didn't look over his shoulder to check who she was. He knew immediately, he knew this feeling, this weight, this presence, the scent, and most importantly, her voice.
"Amazing Kyon, I didn't know you could run like that."
"Well, it isn't enough. I can't keep going." Kyon sighed.
"Are you giving up?"
"I don't have a choice do I?" he chuckled. "But… I can't do it. My body's too heavy. It won't go any faster."
"Don't let me hold you down."
"You? Never." Kyon replied.
The two stayed silent for a moment. Just long enough for Kyon to recover.
"Are you still feeling heavy?" she asked as she stood up.
"No. Not anymore." Kyon said, taking a deep breath and getting up as well. The two were still back to back.
"None." Kyon smiled. "I finally get to say farewell."
"I don't think so."
Asakura grabbed Kyon's hand. Then steadily his surroundings began to take color and accelerate.
"Is this a dream?" Kyon asked Asakura.
"It's all in your head."
"Oh." Kyon said disappointed.
"But why should that mean that it isn't real?" Asakura smiled.
Kyon noticed that his legs were still in running motion. The colors became a blur and he saw that he had returned to the race. Something was different, he wasn't running by himself. His lone arm was pulling him forward, with great velocity. The Track Team captain fell behind him astonished at his sudden burst of speed. The finish line was right in front of him. His lungs were about to burst, it hurt to breathe. But this… this was more thrilling than anything he had experienced in his life.
"Fly!" Asakura laughed. The cheers from the crowd were numb in his ears, only her voice was clear. Kyon felt his arm make a final jerk towards the finish line tape. He felt the light pressure on his stomach, the snapping feeling of the tape breaking on his front.
"First place for the Brigade!" Haruhi laughed as she handed out cold drinks to all the club members who had just returned from the field. "Cheers to everyone!"
As the Brigade sat celebrating the postponement of the apocalypse (All but Haruhi), Kyon was feeling quite happy with himself. He had never thought one in his life that he'd feel this good after a race Haruhi had put him through hell for.
He looked towards Nagato who gave him a nod. Something told him she never had to run fast to be the Brigade's Trump card.
And this week ended with the best ending I could have possibly hoped for. Haruhi told all of us that she was planning to use the prize money for an air conditioner for the clubroom at the members' requests. At the end of the Sports Meet the principal announced that the clubrooms in our building were to be fitted with air conditioners. With that condemning news Haruhi decided to invest the money into our next movie for the upcoming School Festival.
Asakura? If you're wondering about what happened to Asakura it's not much of a surprise to know that Nagato once again exercised her brilliant ability to manipulate data, made it so that Asakura returned to Canada at the last moment Sunday night, as well as stopping the endless phone calls and offers for scholarships at various sports related schools and colleges.
Haruhi on the other hand wasn't so quiet about the whole transfer. For the next week we investigated for the missing SOS Brigade member. Only to be turned down by the landlords and neighbours who claim they never knew she came back to begin with. The room she had stayed in was empty and looks as if no one had set foot in it for a long time. Like I expect how it happened last time, there was no address or any contact numbers.
Even so the funny thing is that everything that was left behind stayed in a way that made me believe Asakura would just burst into that dull grey clubroom that stunk of Othello and Haruhi's madness, with that excited glow in her eyes and repaint the whole scene in a brighter hue any moment. The blue bunny suit she had worn was hung in the assortment of costumes in the corner. The whole Sports Meet went exactly as planned by Asakura. I can remember the taste of her cooking, the huge gap in my allowance that had been made to buy her a sundae. I remember the look on Haruhi's face when she wanted to join.
She might as well been out with a cold and I wouldn't be surprised if she came to class the next day smiling like she usually does. Everything and everyone was waiting for her to once again make a return and make everything a bit happier again. Then again, one could only hope.
Will she be back? Well, to tell you the truth, I really don't know. Then again, Haruhi can destroy the world on a whim, Nagato is an alien, Asahina is a time traveler, and Koizumi is an esper fairy. Was it really that much of a long shot? No matter how long, I'll never think otherwise.
Kyon and Haruhi were walking together in the park on one of their weekend mystery hunts. It had been a long time since Kyon had a reason to go through this part of town. The dried leaves littered the path the two were walking through. Eventually they stopped by in front of a brand new drink vending machine Kyon had never seen before.
To his dislike, the machine had replaced the one he and Asakura were resting nearby in the park. It bothered him to find out that a part of Asakura's proof of existence had been erased.
Kyon slipped some coins into the slot. As reluctant as he was to be a patron of the offending drink machine, he was pretty thirsty. He decided to go for an energy drink, the very same he had bought Asakura. He pressed the button and moments later a clanking sound let him knew that the drink was in the compartment.
"What do you know?" Kyon chuckled.
"Did you find a mystery?" Haruhi asked curiously.
"It gave me two." Kyon proudly shook the free can in front of Haruhi.
"What? Two drinks?" Haruhi certainly didn't want to be outdone by Kyon. "This machine is obviously busted; I bet I can do it too."
Haruhi inserted her money and pressed the same drink. With a small clunk, the single can fell into the compartment.
"What gives?" Haruhi yelled. She held out her hand expecting some sympathy.
"What?" Kyon asked.
"Well give me one!" Haruhi said.
"Why? Drink your own!"
"No! Then it will be meaningless! You have to give me that drink!" Haruhi argued. "This is destiny!"
Kyon pocketed his free drink and popped open his first one. He walked ahead leaving Haruhi with a single lonely can. One could tell that she obviously wanted the one cradled in Kyon's pocket. She chased after Kyon and she didn't stop insisting that the drink was rightfully hers.
"For your information, I'm planning to save this for later." Kyon frowned.
"Fine! You can stick that can up your nose for all I care!" Haruhi pouted and walked ahead.
Kyon sighed and watched her speed away. He noticed that he was in front of the bench that he and Haruhi had stopped to rest for their first evening session. It was here that he saw that streak of blue hair appear. He took the free drink out of his pocket and with a hopeful smile placed it on the bench while nobody was looking.
Beta Reader/Editor: LightningHunter
Moral Support: HaruhiAnon, DaemonOmega
Special Thanks To: Tunafishisgood and everyone at the "Worlds of Suzumiya Haruhi" Site (wohs-project dot org) and forums.
Author's Comments - "LordPlagus777"
From the time I finished my first ever fan fiction and the time I finished this rewrite of it, it has only been a little over a year. It was this first idea and my love for the characters that sparked the beginnings of what I was going to do regularly for many months to come.
As with every story I write, I wish for the reader to feel as if his time was not wasted if not fully satisfied with my stories. I hope that these words reach many people. Please wish my luck as I write more stories in the future.
Beta Reader's Commentary – "LightningHunter"
When LordPlagus777 first sent me a message requesting I beta read his upcoming Haruhi Suzumiya fiction back in late January '10, my immediate response was "Huh, I completely forgot my beta profile was still active. Need to update some of that stuff. Anyway, yeah, sure, sounds like fun." Well, over the few months I've been working on this (although admittedly it would've been shorter if I hadn't been so lazy getting back to him all the time), I daresay I've enjoyed reading the fiction and working on it. Beta work is fun because you get to read stories before other people can. Plagus had some good ideas, planned the fic through and through and so I took to the challenge like a man with something to prove and -quite heavily- edited every chapter, often overdoing it, so not everything got through.
Myself, I usually work in other fandoms, mostly Naruto, but lately I've entered the fanfiction world of the Haruhi Suzumiya series, because, well, I don't like Naruto and spend most my time ranting about it rather than actually writing for it. TMOHS is a smaller fandom but branching out, in beta-ing and in writing has been great and you'll probably see more of me in the future. Hope you enjoyed the fic.
Closing Commentary – "LordPlagus777"
To Our Beloved Readers: That puts an end to another project. And just to let you know, I feel pretty damn proud of myself. It's been a "blast" working with LightningHunter, or as much of a blast that is possible in the process of writing and editing fan fiction.
As I usually do, I thank the people who make all this work meaningful. The most important part of everything we write for. Yes people, we did this all for you!
Thanks For Reading: LordPlagus777 and LightingHunter