Summary: Haruhi has been reading too many romance novels recently. She decides that the best way to relieve her boredom, and have her relationship with Kyon grow closer, is to play cupid with two of her brigade members.
Seasnake: My first Haruhi Suzumiya fanfic. I wrote this fanfic for the sole reason that it was a crazy idea that came to me and seemed like something Haruhi would do. I tried to write this story as close to the light novels as possible. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.
It was a spring day that had a nice combination of warm sun and a cool breeze. The uphill climb to school hadn't been horrible that day, relatively speaking. Haruhi hadn't made any unreasonable demands of her SOS Brigade recently, which automatically improved my mood. My life had been blissfully normal for the past week or so. I should have known that it couldn't last.
In the middle of class that afternoon, while I was trying to read my text book, I suddenly felt a hand grab my shoulder. It was like a horror movie where the main character slowly turns around to find a monster. Of course, what sat behind me was much worse than any monster I know of.
"What?" I grumbled at Haruhi.
"I've got it!" she declared in a loud whisper. Her smile gave me the feeling that 'it' was a very bad thing.
"We're in class, can it wait?" I asked even though my appeal was most likely a hopeless one.
"I can't talk about it in front of all these people. Meet me after class. Don't talk to the others," she instructed then leaned back in her seat. I was dumbfounded that Haruhi actually cared what other people thought. "It" must be something very important. I found it hard to pay attention in class after that discussion.
The end of school bell hadn't even finished ringing before Haruhi grabbed my arm and dragged me out of class. I still have no idea how that girl is so freakishly strong. She glanced from side to side, looking for a place where people wouldn't overhear us. Of course, it was the end of school and everyone was trying to leave. Haruhi was obviously frustrated by the number of people around. Then she did something that even I didn't expect, she ran into the boy's bathroom.
"Haruhi, you can't go in there," I tried to stop her but she just dragged me into the bathroom anyway.
"This is a secret of the greatest importance," she exclaimed.
"That you are in the men's room? I would say so."
"What are you babbling about?"
"This is the men's room!" I tried to explain.
"Perfect, nobody will be expecting battle plans to be talked about here." When did "it" become a battle plan?
This was not the craziest thing Haruhi had done by far so I just chose to be thankful that she hadn't dragged me into the girl's room instead. If anyone walked in to the bathroom now I'd just claim that Haruhi walked in by herself. Everyone at school knew she was crazy.
"Listen up, Kyon," Haruhi pointed a finger in my face. "Nobody can know about it. It is perfect. It will be like a fairytale." Now I was really afraid to ask what "it" was. Haruhi made a final glance around the empty bathroom just to make sure that nobody had materialized out of a wall in the past three seconds.
"Yuki and Itsuiki," she declared.
"What about them?"
"Isn't it obvious, Kyon? They are perfect for each other." That took me by surprise. "As brigade chief it is my job to make sure that my subordinates have successful love lives." Since when? And if so, how about letting me date Asahina? "I will not allow Yuki and Itsuki to deny their feelings for each other any longer."
"What makes you so certain that they like each other? At all?" I knew more about both of them than Haruhi did and I had no idea where she was getting this stuff.
"Oh, come on, Kyon. I thought you were smart enough to figure this out," Haruhi said in an exasperated voice. Wait, was that a compliment? "Think about it. Yuki never talks so it must be because Itsuki is in the room and she is shy around him. And Itsuki is always smiling because he is trying to impresses Yuki. It makes perfect sense." Really? By what logic? "They both have the same expression all the time because they are trying to hide their feelings for each other!" Haruhi declared. She had really scattered rhyme and reason to the four winds this time.
Despite myself, I started to consider what Haruhi was saying. It was true that Koizumi was the only one who could understand the technical gibberish that Nagato spoke about so easily. Koizumi had also noticed Nagato's gradual change in personality just as soon if not sooner than I had. And Haruhi did have a point about them both hiding their true feelings behind their expressions, although I seriously doubted that was because they were secretly in love. Could Nagato even fall in love? I mean, she acted human sometimes but she was still a computer. And hell if I knew what Koizumi's real personality is like. I don't like the guy enough to bother figuring it out.
"Do you have any other evidence?" I asked. I was curious even though I should have known better.
"What else do you need?" Haruhi said indignantly.
"What you are saying is a possibility but maybe Yuki just never smiles because she is always reading," I tried to humor her without sounding too supportive.
"Hmph," Haruhi pouted as if she hadn't thought of that. "For one thing, their personalities will even the other's out. Opposites attract, right?"
"Well…" I couldn't very well explain that this suggested romance was impossible because Koizumi an esper and Nagato was an alien, even if she did have a secret desire to be human.
"Besides, Yuki deserves a good looking guy like Itsuki."
"I would think that Nagato deserves someone better."
"Someone other than Koizumi."
"What's wrong with him?"
"He did stage that whole murder scene."
"Exactly, his goofiness will be perfect for Yuki!" Haruhi decided with a humph. "Not to mention he is loaded. Yuki would be crazy not to accept such a rich suitor."
"He's a suitor now? And if you think he is so rich why do you make me pay for everything?"
"You need the discipline. But we aren't talking about you right now, Kyon. I need to come up with a plan to get Yuki and Itsuki together and you are going to help me." I gave a big sigh and decided to make one more attempt at reason.
"Okay, Haruhi, why do you think they would be happy together? They need to have some common interests."
"You can't question love, Kyon," she said stubbornly.
"Sure I can."
"It may be difficult to get those two to realize their true feelings but I accept the challenge! Unrecognized love such as this is not allowed in my brigade." Haruhi ignored me.
"Uh huh," I muttered. She really seemed invested in this idea. I tried to think of a good argument to discourage her but I came up empty.
Crazy as her idea was, it seemed pretty harmless. Koizumi was Haruhi's yes man. He wouldn't object to any of her demands with the fear of creating more closed space and for whatever other reasons he might have. He was an actor already, even if not always a good one. I doubted he would have a problem with this and if he did I hardly cared. But Koizumi wasn't my concern. Nagato had already had problems with feeling human. Would having her fake a crush on Koizumi be too much to ask? Could she even do it? I thought it over but I couldn't see Nagato caring. Nagato knew not to be upset by Haruhi's random whims.
I looked at Haruhi's smiling face. Trying to talk her out of it would probably cause more harm than good. Nagato wouldn't care and would be fun to see Koizumi be the center of Haruhi's malicious attention instead of me for a change.
"What the Hell, I'll do it."
The SOS Brigade meeting that afternoon consisted of Haruhi barging into the room, dragging me behind her, and declaring that the meeting was canceled. She claimed that this was to keep Nagato and Koizumi from becoming suspicious. She apparently didn't understand the concept that a break in routine was extremely suspicious. She then finally released her grip on my arm and headed to home for the day. In the bathroom she had warned me that she would come up with a plan tonight and then give me instructions tomorrow. I was relieved that I would have the chance to warn the two victims beforehand.
"No tea?" Asahina asked in a whimper long after Haruhi had already stormed out of the clubroom.
"I'd love some," I answered as I sat down in one of the chairs.
"I thought the meeting was canceled," Koizumi commented on my sitting down. He still wore his customary annoying grin. "I'm going to head home." He picked up his bag to leave.
"Hold on," I stopped him. I glanced to check that Nagato was there. She was, of course. She sat in her normal spot reading a thick book like always. "I got something you should know. But Haruhi thinks it is a secret, alright?"
"Naturally," Koizumi smiled and sat back down.
"W-what is it?" the angelic Asahina asked nervously as she set a teacup in front of me.
"Don't worry," I turned to the beautiful maid. "It has nothing to do with you. In fact, you should be safe from Haruhi as long as she remains distracted by this."
"Oh," she said softly. She gave me a smile that made me melt. Haruhi must have no soul if she was able to torture this kind creature.
"If Asahina is not involved, I must be," Koizumi said with a carefree smile. Normally his face made me want to punch him but today I had something better. I leaned back in my seat so that I had a good view of both Koizumi's and Nagato's faces at the same time. It might be immature, but I wanted to see their reactions to this news.
"Haruhi has come to the conclusion that you and Nagato are secretly deeply in love." For a brief moment, Koizumi's smile disappeared and was replaced with an expression of genuine surprise. Nagato glanced up from her book for a half a second. Her face didn't change but she blinked at me once before returning to reading.
"Is that so?" Koizumi recovered quickly. He gave an amused smile and leaned his elbows on the table. "Did she say what gave her that impression?" You are accepting this pretty quickly.
"She pointed out how you both never change facial expressions and something about opposites attract," I shrugged. "It's Haruhi, what do you expect."
"Koizumi and Nagato in love?" Asahina said with surprise.
"Why is that so crazy?" Koizumi asked me.
"Why do you have to contradict everything I say? Do you like each other?"
"Not at all. Honestly, the thought never occurred to me. No offense, Miss Nagato," Koizumi glanced over to the alien.
"None taken. I have no romantic feelings for you either," Nagato answered blandly and turned a page of her book.
"Is she quite set on this?" Koizumi looked back to me.
"Why, don't want to play along?" I would be lying if I said that I wasn't enjoying this. It was nice to finally find something that annoyed Koizumi.
"I will happily pretend to be whatever will keep Miss Suzumiya content," he continued to smile. "Miss Nagato, you don't mind, do you?"
"No." That was a relief. I would have felt guilty I was making Nagato do something she didn't want to.
"What does Miss Suzumiya have planned?" Koizumi wanted to know.
"She will tell me tomorrow. I'll warn you guys if it is anything too crazy."
Crazy didn't begin to describe the plan that Haruhi laid out before me the next day. I got to school only right before the bell so Haruhi had to wait until lunch before she could drag me out to the hallway and talk to me.
"That is illegal, you know."
"Oh come on, Kyon, sending love letters is an ancient tradition."
"But this is mail fraud, it's against the law."
"I don't plan to get caught. Besides if any mail man saw these wonderful love letters, he wouldn't doubt that they were real for a second." She waved a few scraps of paper that she had written on in my face. Haruhi apparently had spent her time last night coping Nagato's and Koizumi's handwriting to write ridiculous love letters. She now wanted me to mail them.
"Why not just put it in their mail boxes without mailing them?"
"Nobody would be fooled by that. You have to put this one in Yuki's mail box," she held up a piece of lined paper, "and this one in Itsuki's mail box. Then the mailman will deliver them to the other person's address and nobody will be the wiser." Except for the fact that not even Asahina would be fooled by those horrible poems and cliché expressions of affection that Haruhi had written. Not even in my wildest dreams could I picture either Nagato or Koizumi writing those.
"Fine, I'll make sure they are mailed," I gave in.
"Of course you will," Haruhi shoved her stupid letters and the envelopes into my hands.
"Now, for phase two!" she started to walk down the hallway. I stuffed the papers into my school bag and ran to keep up with her. "We spread rumors about both of them."
"That they are dating?"
"No, that would ruin everything. We are going to make sure that people know how available and irresistible they both are. That way they will each have countless of attractive boys and girls trying to date each of them. The hordes of suitors will then make them realize that they only have feelings for each other." You have been reading way too many romance novels. Besides, nobody in this school will believe a single thing out of your mouth. Your ability to spread rumors was officially revoked after the bunny suit incident. But I didn't tell Haruhi any of this. Let her attempt to spread all the rumors she wants.
I barely got to afternoon class on time after spending my lunch wandering the halls, listening to Haruhi make up things about her brigade members. I don't remember all of what she said but I think there was something about Nagato winning a childhood beauty pageant in which she was so beautiful it made the judges cry and Koizumi wresting a wild boar into submission while on a hunting trip. My personal favorite was the story of how Koizumi solved a murder case that had the police stumped for months. Even I had been able to figure out his murder façade on the abandoned island, a great detective Koizumi was not.
I wondered what Haruhi had planned for after school. However, what she did took me by surprise. She did nothing. She went to the clubroom like normal and then held an aimless conversation with Asahina about bra sizes, which I nobly resisted the temptation to listen to and instead concentrated, mostly, on my Othello game with Koizumi, before calling an end to the day and heading home.
"That was surprising. She must be taking this very seriously if she is willing to be patient with her actions," Koizumi voiced the same thing I was thinking once Haruhi left.
"She is just waiting for your mail to be delivered," I answered.
"Do you think she is going to do this with other people too?" Asahina had a valid concern that Haruhi would decide to marry her off.
"She will get bored with this soon enough," I assured her.
"Not too quickly I hope, I have been enjoying the recent absence of closed spaces," esper boy smiled as he put the Othello board away. Nagato opened the door to leave without giving us a backward glance.
"Nagato, don't tell Haruhi how horribly written the love letter in your mailbox is," I warned her before she disappeared.
"I'm going to receive a love letter in the mail? I can't wait to get home, now." Koizumi was obviously enjoying this.
Despite her patient attitude earlier, Haruhi seemed to be in a hurry the next day. I got to school a second before class on purpose so that I could avoid her. She spent the morning classes reading through a pile of paper back books. From what I saw the titles were, "How to get a boyfriend", "Dating for Dummies", and several flowery titles that are sold at convenience stores. So, she did read romance novels. She was taking this way too seriously.
At lunch she once again ambushed me and dragged me to an empty hallway. "Did you mail the letters?"
"I said I would."
"I'm going to find Yuki, you go and spy on Itsuki."
"I only get to see them at the end of the day. I need to know what they thought of the love letters. Maybe they are already eating lunch together. Wouldn't that be romantic?"
"Also, lunch is when suitors try to flirt. I need to see this." Oh right, I had almost forgotten about those hordes of suitors that you wanted to summon.
On Haruhi's command I went to 1-9 to search for Koizumi. I had to wonder why she hadn't recruited Asahina to help. Asahina could have spread rumors better than Haruhi. I eventually found Koizumi eating his lunch outside. I knew I was supposed to be spying but I didn't bother to hide. Esper boy waved at me when he saw me.
"Hi, I'm here to spy on you," I said then sat down with my uneaten lunch at the same table.
"Miss Suzumiya wants to make sure I don't eat lunch with another girl?" His obnoxiously perfect smile didn't waver for a second.
"Actually, she is under the impression that you should have 'hordes of suitors'." I ate my lunch as quickly as possible in case Haruhi showed up again.
"She is going by the theory that popular, unattainable guys are more attractive?" What words did you just use to describe yourself? "There are a couple girls in my class who have expressed interest in me. I'm sure I could arrange for them to talk with me in Suzumiya's presence." Why does every male in this school have to brag to me about how popular he is with girls? I'm stuck with Haruhi, have a little sympathy.
"Koizumi, Kyon, fancy running into you here!" Haruhi shouted as she suddenly ran towards us. I was not surprised to see that she dragged Nagato behind her. "Mind if we eat lunch with you?" Haruhi grabbed a chair from an adjacent table. She then sat down without waiting for an answer and pulled Nagato into a seat next to her. The table we sat at was made for two people at most. The four of us must have looked ridiculous crowded around that small table. Koizumi and Nagato were hitting elbows and Haruhi almost knocked my lunch off the table when she slapped down her bento.
"Please sit down. It is always a pleasure to see you both," Koizumi said a little late.
"Did either of you get any interesting mail recently?" she stared at them expectantly. Real subtle, Haruhi. Koizumi stalled for time by slowly chewing his food before answering. He seemed torn between acting shy or talking about it. Nagato stared at the table in silence.
"I did get this one interesting letter, yesterday. Not the first one like it I've ever received but it was very nice." He was obviously lying through his teeth. Haruhi, however, didn't notice.
"What was it about?"
"I would rather not talk about it." Koizumi took another bite of food in an attempt to end the conversation. Haruhi looked very satisfied with his response.
"Nagato, what did you get yesterday?" Haruhi shifted her attention to her second victim.
"A handwritten letter about a private subject," she answered in her normal tone of voice.
"Did you like it?"
"It was a new experience." I was impressed by how cordially Nagato managed to answer Haruhi's questions.
At this time I noticed that Nagato didn't have a lunch. She must have left it behind when Haruhi forced her to come here. I would have offered to share some of mine but considering the circumstances, I thought better of it. I don't know if Koizumi noticed my meaningful glances between him and the empty table in front of Nagato or if he just figured it out on his own. Either way he did the thing that Haruhi wanted.
"You must be hungry, Miss Nagato. Here, you can have mine." He handed what was left of his lunch to Nagato. She accepted it without a word. Haruhi elbowed me in the ribs, a lot harder than was necessary. She gave a triumphant smile as if to say "See, I told you so."
Haruhi and I went to the clubroom together that day. Haruhi actually waited for me to pick up my bag before leaving. While I was surprised at how considerate she was being, I knew that this wouldn't help dispel the general assumption that she and I were dating. When we arrived at the clubroom Nagato and Koizumi were already there. Instead of sitting in her usual spot, Nagato sat across from Koizumi with the old Othello board between them. This was a shock. I don't think I had ever opened the clubroom to see Nagato doing anything but reading. Haruhi, of course, was ecstatic at seeing them together.
The brigade chief pestered them with annoying questions then got tired of that and sat down in front of the computer. At least she left Mikuru alone. I drank several cups of Asahina's amazing tea while I watched the alien and the esper. I could beat Koizumi at Othello so Nagato simply destroyed him. It was surprisingly entertaining to see. They played a total of five matches while I watched. I don't know if Koizumi had a misguided hope of winning or if he subjected to the inhumane defeats for Haruhi's benefit, either way he continued to smile the whole time. Nagato obviously didn't break a mental sweat by winning this game.
I suggested that they switch from playing Othello to something with a bit of luck involved. They agreed but only got in one game before Haruhi declared the day over with.
The next two days were Thursday and Friday. The whole SOS Brigade did an excellent job in making this ridiculous thing appear real. Koizumi made sure that Haruhi saw him taking with several pretty girls in his class. And Asahina managed to get a few boys from her fanclub to say a few words to Nagato. After seeing this, Haruhi didn't say anything else about the 'hordes of suitors'. Nagato joined Koizumi for lunch without prompting from Haruhi on Thursday and Friday. From the bushes, where Haruhi instead we camp out and spy on them, I could see Nagato set her thick book on the table top so that Koizumi could read over her shoulder if he wanted to. I doubted Koizumi could read as fast as she could but it was a nice gesture anyway. At least I got to eat my own lunch while on these stake outs.
Haruhi made me mail several more cheesy love letters. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous about getting caught. But the government probably had more important things to worry about than a highschooler mailing fake love letters between his two friends. I chose just to be happy that Haruhi paid for the stamps herself.
In the clubroom Nagato put her reading on hold to spend her time playing games with Koizumi. I also joined in and played a few three person games. Nagato won them all, even the ones that were supposed to be largely luck. I had suspicions that she was using her bogus magic to cheat, how else could she have beaten him at Battle Ship that easily? However, Koizumi didn't seem to care at all.
Yep, everything appeared to be going great. Then at the end of Friday, after Haruhi ended the club meeting, she said something very startling to me.
"This is pathetic!"
"They are playing hard to get. I can't have this."
"What are you talking about? They are getting along fine."
"It's the weekend. I expected that Itsuki would ask her out. What self-respecting guy wouldn't?" She wanted them to go on a date, this weekend? "They have known each other for a long time now. Why are they being so shy? This is no fun at all," she pouted. I knew Haruhi well enough to tell that this was bad. She sounded frustrated and bored. Bad things happened when she got that way. "It is so hard to play cupid these days. What do I have to do?"
"I thought you just wanted them to realize their love for each other. You want them to act on it too?"
"Duh! Yuki is beautiful; Itsuki should be showering her with roses. And Yuki doesn't care at all that she has such a handsome guy interested in her."
"Maybe you shouldn't rush these things. We are only in high school. Their love might be better if you left it be." I knew I was speaking nonsense but I had to calm Haruhi down.
"That is totally stupid. The sooner they get married the better." Whoa, now! Who said anything about them getting married? She grabbed my tie and yanked me down so she could talk right in my face. "We are going to get them together!" I still don't get why you are including me in this. "Go have a boy talk with Itsuki. I'm going to have a girl to girl talk with Yuki."
"You know about girls and all that," she released my tie and stormed off to find Nagato before the book worm escaped to her apartment. Great.
I got out my cell phone and called the number that Koizumi had given me. Esper boy picked it up on the second ring.
"Hello?" he said, annoyingly cheerfully.
"We have a problem."
Koizumi and I met at a small café to discuss our options. Asahina wasn't there and Nagato was busy being lectured about God knows what by Haruhi.
"I see. Miss Suzumiya is not satisfied with our actions so far?"
"She wants you guys to go on a date." I didn't mention the marriage thing because I was pretty sure that Haruhi was just exaggerating.
"I'm sure that can be arranged. That is not what has me concerned." You're concerned? I couldn't tell because of that stupid grin. "If our act fails to live up to Miss Suzumiya's expectations things could get very messy."
"You recall what happened when our school movie didn't satisfy her?"
"Yeah, she started to alter reality to the way she wanted it. Oh," the gravity of the situation hit me right then.
"Yes, I'm quite afraid that Miss Suzumiya will begin to alter my emotions or personality to what she will find most pleasing. After all, in her mind this is just another movie that she is staging for her entertainment." Koizumi's smile appeared very nervous now.
"Crap, I hadn't thought of that. But would she do that to her friends?"
"Not on purpose, I'm sure. However, Miss Suzumiya's powers activate without conscious thought. We are going to have to stage a date for Miss Nagato and myself that will meet all of Suzumiya's requirements to avoid this."
"Right, how hard can that be?" I sighed then looked up and noticed that someone else had entered the café. "Nagato, did you escape Haruhi?" The alien joined us at out table.
"Haruhi Suzumiya's mental state is unbalanced, corrective measures must be taken immediately," she said in a voice that sounded more serious than usual.
"Yeah, we were just talking about that."
"What do you suggest Miss Nagato?"
"I accessed Suzumiya's home computer's hard drive to search for the origin of her current desires."
"You hacked into Haruhi's computer? Good idea. What did you find?"
"On this past Sunday Suzumiya read a short manga series that was serialized over the internet. In the plot two characters meet and fall in love while they are working to set up a romantic relationship between their respective best friends. The conclusion can be drawn that Suzumiya wishes to replicate this scenario." Koizumi nodded in agreement while Nagato spoke.
"I suspected the same thing. Miss Suzumiya is doing this because she wishes to grow closer to you, Kyon. After all, what is more romantic than playing cupid? That explains why she has left Miss Asahina out of the loop."
"Can we just focus on how to fix this?" I grumbled. I didn't want to talk about Haruhi's motives. Why did everything that girl do lead back to me in some way? No wait, I don't want to think about that either.
"Considering the risks involved here, perhaps you could do whatever you did to get out of the closed space and spare us the trouble?"
"Do you want me to punch you?" Koizumi chuckled before continuing.
"The solution seems pretty simple. We will stage a date for Miss Nagato and myself. Will a simple dinner and movie suffice? "
"I doubt it," I suddenly remembered something Haruhi had mentioned to me a while ago. "She hates normal dates like that. And you need to ask Nagato out in person. Haruhi thinks it is cowardly of guys to ask a girl out over the phone."
"I agree with that."
"There is more," Nagato spoke while looking at the table. "In our last discussion, Suzumiya provided me with sufficient information to construct a date that will meet her standards. However, there are variables that make it impossible. I am unable to act in a way that Haruhi wishes." Here is it was. Haruhi wanted Nagato to act like a normal girl. Stupid Haruhi, she should have known better.
"What does she want us to do, exactly?" Koizumi asked matter-of-factly. Would a little sympathy kill him?
"She wishes that both of us display emotion openly, that we present gifts to one another, and that we appear in love."
"I can show you how to act. It is very easy once you get the hang of it. I can find a wide brimmed hat for you to wear that will keep Miss Suzumiya from seeing your face at a distance. You won't even have to smile."
"Suzumiya already expressed her displeasure that I would wear my uniform on a date. I will require information on current fashion to modify my clothes accordingly."
"Right, it would be best if I wear something new as well." It was hard to believe that they were planning a date from the way they talked. Sounded more like they were going into battle.
"Okay, how about this." I jumped into the conversation. "I'll give Haruhi a call and convince her to schedule a search around town tomorrow. That will give you guys a chance to tell her that you plan to go on a date on Sunday. Then we will have until Sunday to prepare."
Nothing exciting happened for the first part of Saturday so I'm going to skip over it. As expected, Haruhi was more than happy to arrange a brigade meeting. She then sent Nagato and Koizumi to search by themselves. Mikuru called in sick, like we planned, so I was stuck wandering through town with Haruhi. Like I said, nothing exciting so I will skip in my narration to the end of that trip. Haruhi and I were waiting for the other two at the restaurant where we were supposed to meet to finish off the day. Nagato and Koizumi showed up holding hands. I shouldn't have been, but I was surprised because we hadn't discussed that. Haruhi was grinning from ear to ear when she saw them.
While we ate, Koizumi did all the talking about how he had a wonderful day with Nagato and that they planned to go on a date. Nagato didn't say anything. She stared off to the side with her normal emotionless face but the way she tilted her head made it look like she was embarrassed. Her acting was so impressive that I almost became concerned that Haruhi had already altered her personality. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. By the time that Haruhi headed home, she was more than content with her game.
I reveled in the fact that Haruhi had forced Koizumi to pay instead of me for a change. Then the three of us headed to Nagato's place. We met up with Asahina at the entrance to the building. She showed us what she had spent her day buying once we were all upstairs.
"I have three outfits for you to choose from. Which one do you like, Nagato?" she asked nervously as she spread three sets of clothes on the floor in front of Yuki. The alien knelt on the carpet and studied each one with her steady gaze. "Oh, uh… here is yours." Mikuru adorably fumbled with her shopping bags before handing one to Koizumi. Esper boy had decided to play it safe and give Asahina money for new clothes instead of risking Haruhi getting upset that he wore something he already had.
"Perfect," he smiled as he looked through his bag. Nagato was still staring at the clothes in front of her so Mikuru offered to make some tea. Haruhi had trained her well.
"The other things are in the blue bag," she called from Nagato's kitchen. I grabbed the bag she mentioned and dumped several volumes of shojo manga onto the floor. It had been my idea to use the girly manga as study material. Haruhi had been reading this stuff and cheep romance novels so we should to if we wanted to pull this off. I also hoped that Asahina could teach Nagato to mimic a few of her unbelievably cute actions. I once again felt very thankful that I was not in target of Haruhi's attention this time.
Koizumi picked up one volume at random while I looked through the titles. Asahina had done a good job picking ones that Nagato and Koizumi could use. The stories were full of innocent romances and panels heavily decorated in flowers and sparkles. I realized we had our work cut out for us when I flipped through the volumes. Adorable Mikuru could summon up any flowery manga effect at will but the most Nagato ever used was a few action lines or maybe a falling feather here or there.
"Don't tell me that you read shojo manga," I noticed that Koizumi had been intently looking at the volume he held.
"You shouldn't discriminate, Kyon. Some of the genre is very good." He smiled like he was going to laugh and put the manga down. I rolled my eyes at him and glanced to Yuki. She was still examining the clothes.
Asahina rejoined the group while carrying a tray of cups. She cautiously set one near Nagato before hurrying to put distance between her and the alien. Poor Mikuru was still nervous around Yuki. I knew from my time traveling adventures that she would never outgrow that, not that I blamed her. I had thought that Koizumi was still cautious around the resident alien too, but apparently I was wrong. Because esper boy crouched next to Nagato, placed a hand on her shoulder and pointed to an outfit.
"I think that one is the best." Nagato turned her head slightly to look at him with the same expression as always. He gave her a grin then walked away. Nagato studied the clothes again then picked up the outfit that Koizumi had indicated and carried it into the bedroom. She shut the door to change without a word. "What? She looked like she needed help deciding," Koizumi said innocently in response to Asahina's and my stunned stares.
"Where are you planning to go?" I changed the topic.
"Miss Nagato and I were discussing it. We have decided that it would be best to have a long date to make sure Haruhi is completely satisfied. If we are lucky she will consider our date a successes and move onto another project after tomorrow. Nagato checked the movie list but there is nothing showing that Haruhi would be interested in."
"Why does that matter?" I asked a stupid question.
"We believe that Miss Suzumiya wants to use our date as a surrogate for the one she wishes to go on with you."
"Forget I asked."
"Appeasing Haruhi Suzumiya is absolutely necessary." Nagato came out of her bedroom in her school uniform and holding the new clothes draped over one arm. "My system is already prone to malfunction. Any attempted reprogramming by Suzumiya could cause problems with unforeseen consequences." She sat down beside us. Man, I'm sorry Nagato. If I wasn't such an idiot I would have tired a lot harder to talk Haruhi out of this crazy idea. Asahina gave a small whimper of worry as she joined us sitting down. Koizumi joined us in our serious silence without his normal smile for a moment. But only for a moment.
"You are going to make me wait until tomorrow to see you in the new dress?" he said jokingly to Nagato. She turned to look at him without expression. I didn't expect her to say anything but she answered him with a simple, "Yes."
"He was kidding, Nagato."
"I am aware."
"Actually, I am quite serious." His goofy smile didn't make me believe him.
"Seriously, knock it off."
"We plan to ride the train in a complete circuit and watch people get on and off. Then we will view street performers." Nagato returned to the important conversation.
"Wait, street performers? Is there a show going on tomorrow?"
"I have arranged for some members of The Agency to be in the square. I didn't tell them the whole situation, still they will be there."
"We will then walk and view sights that are considered both romantic and beautiful." Nagato continued in her emotionless voice. "After which we will purchase food."
"At least that is the plan. We were hoping that you could offer a few more suggestions. Is there any place that Miss Suzumiya has expressed interest in?"
"Not that I remember." I racked my brain but couldn't think of anything. What they described sounded like Haruhi, random and aimless. She should be happy with their date. "By the way, Haruhi is under the impression that you're loaded so better humor her."
"I'll buy Miss Nagato something expensive in that case."
"These expressions and actions are exaggerated beyond social norms. Am I supposed to act unrealistically?" Nagato had started to look through the manga. That wasn't unrealistic, an alien, an esper, a time traveler, and a girl with god-like powers were unrealistic. Besides, Mikuru was just as cute as any anime girl I've ever seen.
"We are just going to put on a show to please Suzumiya. She doesn't care if you over act." Koizumi almost sounded reassuring. Yeah, she can't tell when Koizumi is obviously lying, either.
"Asahina, if you wanted to tell a boy you liked him how would you do it?" I asked.
"Oh, well, I never thought about it?" She looked horribly embarrassed and held her hands over her red cheeks. Nagato watched then mimicked her movements. It looked fake but it might just fool Haruhi, even if Nagato didn't change expressions.
"Here, try this one," Koizumi held up an open manga volume and pointed to a panel. I came to the conclusion that he was enjoying this way too much. Nagato scanned it with her eyes then hunched her shoulders slightly and held her hand just under her chin in a tentative gesture. Koizumi turned to a different page and held up for her to see. "Miss Suzumiya would like it if you did this." He looked close to laughing. Nagato paused for half a second to analyze the illustration then tilted her head drastically to one side, tapped the side of her skull with a mock fist, and stuck her tongue out. When a normal girl did this it was extremely cute, however, Nagato's movements were robotic and her eyes didn't hold any sparkle. Even when she showed the emotions she had, her eyes never glistened like Asahina's.
Esper boy turned another page. Nagato pulled both of her hands and held them like cat paws. "Meow," she quoted what the cat-girl character was saying in the panel. Her voice didn't vary from her normal speech so the meow was flat. Despite that, Koizumi smiled and gave a small sound like he was stifling laughter. I knew he could be a jerk sometimes so I grabbed the manga with the cat-girls in it away from him before he could make Nagato pose more.
"Don't take advantage of her!"
"I don't appreciate that accusation." Nagato seemed unfazed by our argument and instead leafed through a manga volume.
"You were making her pose like a cat-girl."
"Suzumiya would love to see her do that. I want this to go well."
"Of course, you use that as an excuse."
"Koizumi," Nagato interrupted us. She held open a page of manga to show him. Koizumi looked at it for a second then grinned and dramatically flipped his hair like an anime pretty boy. Oh great, now Nagato is having him mimic things from manga. Maybe the manga had been a bad idea. "Do this," Nagato turned to another page.
"Place my jacket over a puddle for you?" Koizumi looked at the manga. "Good idea."
I finally got home after several hours of planning for the date tomorrow. Everyone had made sure to memorize the plan. Asahina was lucky that she didn't have to do anything. But I knew that Haruhi would force me to help her spy on them. I dare say that Nagato was prepared to humor Haruhi and pretend to be a normal girl for a little while. Before I left, I told her that I was sorry for letting Haruhi get away with this. But she shook her head and said that it wasn't a problem. I don't know if I believe her that she is fine with it or not. Of course, despite the risks, Koizumi was having a blast. He should seriously go into acting when if he finds it this much fun.
Good thing my sister let me sleep in late on Sunday, because Haruhi called me earlier than expected. My ringing phone woke me up. I answered it and was not happy to hear Haruhi's obnoxious voice demanding that I get up and go the spot where Koizumi told her he would meet Nagato. I knew I had no other choice so I did as I was told.
Haruhi and I sat at the meeting spot for a good hour before Koizumi showed up. Haruhi promptly yanked me into the nearby bushes when he came near. We then had to wait another ten minutes for Nagato to arrive. By this time I was sore form sitting perfectly still in the poky bushes. If Koizumi and Nagato didn't know we were in the bushes, which they probably did, they knew we were somewhere close by.
Nagato wore the pale blue and gray stripped dress and blue jacket that Koizumi had liked. She also took his offer of wearing a wide brimmed hat to obscure her face. Koizumi, I hate to admit, looked very sharp in the casual clothes that Asahina had bought him. It was spring and not that warm but he kept his jacket unzipped and the top button of his shirt undone. Did I mention I don't like him?
"You look good, Nagato." He handed her a bouquet of roses. The flowers were probably a bit over the top for a first date but Haruhi had no common sense and whispered to me how romantic the flowers were.
"Thank you." Nagato turned her face away to mimic embarrassment, just like she had practiced yesterday.
"I wish I had thought to go on a double date," Haruhi muttered. "That way we could watch without sneaking around. But we can't just badge in now. Not with the camouflage we are wearing." Yeah, she had told me to wear brown and dark green. But, wait, a double date? I decided that I liked the bush. Yep, this bush was nice and comfy.
Koizumi and Nagato exchanged a few more sentences then they held hands and walked towards the train. They made sure to not glance over their shoulders and to walk slowly enough for us to keep up.
"They are moving, let's go," Haruhi said excitedly. She darted from the bushes to hide behind a building. She glanced around the corner then dove to another bush. All of he normal people who stood nearby stared at the crazy girl. I sighed and walked from one hiding spot to another without pretending to be a secret agent. Whatever Haruhi wanted to happen happened, right? So, hopefully she wanted no police officers to be nearby or for them to wonder why she was damaging shrubbery.
The rest of my day continued like that. Haruhi had me buy two newspapers so that we could sit on a bench and hide our faces from Koizumi and Nagato. I think she wanted to set up this date mostly for the excitement of getting to stalk two people around the city all day. Most of it was boring for me so I'll just recap quickly. Whenever we got within hearing distance of Koizumi and Nagato they were always talking about boring things or subjects that they had rehearsed before hand. Obviously, Koizumi did most of the talking.
There was one time that I almost lost my composure. Koizumi started babbling to Nagato about how happy he was to have transferred here, how nice the SOS Brigade was, and what a good leader Suzumiya was. He's such a suck up. But when he commented about how perfect Suzumiya would be with Kyon, me, I had to restrain myself from crumpling the newspaper I held into a ball and throwing it at him. I don't know what Haruhi's reaction to his speech was, because I suddenly became very interested in the sports section.
I don't know what they talked about when we were out of hearing range. I think they just stood in silence for large portions of time. And another time I saw Nagato moving her hand as if explaining something to do with computers to him and Koizumi nodding in response. I guess he really is the only one who can understand anything she says.
Their date was mostly them wandering around seeing sights that were, as Nagato put it, considered both romantic and beautiful. Haruhi kept muttering about how perfect it all was. The members of the Agency were where they said they would be to act as street performers. I have to wonder if they were curious why Koizumi was there holding hands with Nagato. Koizumi also did good by his word. He bought Nagato an expensive and, I say at the risk of sounding girly, really beautiful bracelet.
At the end of the date, we were all on the train heading back to Nagato's place. Koizumi was going to see her home like a gentleman. This was time for my part of the plan.
"Hey, Haruhi," I whispered even though they were too far away to hear us.
"What?" she said irritably and looked up from the magazine she was reading, one I bought when she got tired of the newspaper.
"Do you think their date was a success?"
"Not yet, dummy, they haven't kissed. What kind of a date doesn't end in a kiss?" she said in a huff and returned to reading. I gave a sigh then pulled out my cell phone.
"My sister wanted me to text her," I said as an explanation even though Haruhi didn't ask. I typed the letters. "Sry" then sent it to Koizumi's phone. They hadn't wanted to kiss unless absolutely necessary. I wouldn't blame them if they hated me and/or Haruhi after this.
So we got off the train, walked to Nagato's building, and then hid in yet another row of bushes to watch. Haruhi has the makings of a great peeper.
"Here we are." We were far away and I could barely Koizumi.
"Yes, thank you." Nagato's words were very hard to hear but I managed to make them out. Haruhi held her breath when she saw Koizumi bend down. He kissed Nagato very lightly on the lips. It was more of a peck really. Still, I could feel the excitement erupt from Haruhi as she hid next to me.
"Success!" she whispered very loudly. As long as you are happy, Haruhi. That is what this was all about.
"Good night," Koizumi straightened and smiled down at Nagato. She nodded. He started to walk away but she said something else.
"Itsuki Koizumi, your intelligence is above average and your appearance could easily attract a female human." For a second I thought my ears were playing tricks on me, did she just call him smart and handsome? From what I could tell, she was looking at him with her normal expression. Koizumi turned back to look at her and gave her a surprised face. This did not appear to be scripted. He blinked only once before smiling again.
"You are the most intelligent and beautiful sentient being I have ever met, Yuki Nagato." I gaped with an open mouth as Koizumi waved goodbye and Nagato entered her building.
"Was I right or was I right, Kyon!" Haruhi hugged me around my neck. She hugged me! Well, actually it was more of a strangle hold. Good thing, she let go before I fainted from lack of oxygen.
"Yes, you were right," I told her what she wanted to hear.
"I'm always right!"
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves."
Haruhi skipped home in a state of bliss that night. I trudged home and pulled twigs out of my clothes. I then got home and tended to the deeper scratches I had received from the stupid bushes. Haruhi hadn't gotten injured at all, go figure. I chalked this whole thing to be a success. Still, I was curious about that final exchange between Koizumi and Nagato.
In order to ask them about it, I got to school early on Monday. I found them sitting outside together. Most likely they were waiting for me. Nagato had a thick book open on her lap. Koizumi leaned back on the bench and wore his normal smile as if nothing had happened.
"Morning, Kyon," he greeted me when I walked up to them.
"Haruhi Suzumiya's mental state is stable once again," Nagato informed me.
"Yeah, she seemed happy yesterday. I doubt she will give you two any more trouble."
"That is a relief." I glanced from Koizumi to Nagato and contemplated whither I should ask or not. "Are you wondering about that last conversation we had yesterday?" Koizumi guessed why I was staring at him. "Well, put your mind at ease, it is nothing like that. Miss Nagato and I merely discussed that many romantic scenes involve the saying of goodbyes and after the two characters turn away from each other, one says something very meaningful to end the scene."
"I don't remember that discussion."
"We were not present when I noticed the fact from my research," Nagato answered simply without looking up from her book.
"Right, sorry for thinking anything else," I felt like an idiot as I walked away. I had gotten them into this mess by supporting Haruhi then I had the nerve to question that they had perhaps fallen prey to Haruhi's craziness.
Still, I glanced over my shoulder as I left. The alien interface who wished to be human and the human who loved being abnormal were sitting together in the shade without looking at each other. Was it possible? After all, if those last compliments had been scripted why did Nagato talk like her normal self and why did Koizumi use the words 'sentient being'? Then again, I had been pretty far away; maybe I hadn't heard what they said correctly. Yeah, it probably would have sounded more normal if I was closer. I found myself glancing at Nagato's wrist. Her sleeve would have covered the bracelet Koizumi bought her if she was wearing it, so I couldn't tell. But who would wear something that expensive to school anyway? I shook my head with a sigh. This was ridiculous. I was the one who had been infected with Haruhi's special brand of insanity.
So, is there any real romance in this story or not? I'm honestly not sure. You will have to decide for yourself. But don't dare say that there was romance between me and Haruhi!