A shameless bit of WAFF set in the Haruhi universe
by Brian Randall
Disclaimer: The novel series of Suzumiya Haruhi that began with 'The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi' is 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.
Notes: Probably diverges from canon, but that's probably also alright. :)
Most days are the same, enough so that when there's any chance to celebrate and do something different, you have to leap at it and take it head on. Special days are just days - marking off when the Earth is in some specific position relative to the sun. So? That applies to every day!
So special days aren't special at all - unless you make them that way!
That means when one comes along, you have to grab it by its horns and do something with it!
Because of that, I make sure the Brigade calendar tracks every holiday we can think of. Not just to dress Mikuru-chan up, though that's fun, too. Still, if we do the same thing every time, then we just blew the whole 'special' thing entirely. However, there are a lot of days in the year, and sometimes it's hard to make them all interesting.
I appreciate that he caught a few days I've managed to miss that we needed to celebrate, but because he's such a slacker most of the time, I'm not exactly going to let him know that. That's good - makes him a worthwhile subordinate. I wish he'd work harder and try to earn a better rank, but figuring out what motivates him is actually kind of hard to pull off.
Sometimes it's looking out for his friends, though I'm glad to say that doesn't have to happen too often. Once it was something as seemingly inconsequential as his homework. I've tried to prod him on that, but it didn't get the results I was really hoping for.
Kind of a pain, really...
Well, on the other hand, if I could figure him out in an instant, he wouldn't be nearly as interesting. So ... I guess that's actually okay.
So imagine my surprise when I get to school and find him and Koizumi-kun waiting for me by the shoe lockers!
"What's this about?" I ask warily, looking between the two. I get the impression sometimes Kyon's closer to the others in the club than I am, which is kind of annoying; I hate the idea of him going behind my back to do stuff with them and leaving me out! Like- Like that time he met with Mikuru-chan at the cafe without me knowing!
"Did you forget what day today was?" Kyon asks, giving me that 'I'm pretending I'm not amused' look he has.
I take a breath and try to remember. It's March, middle of the month, nearly. I suppose it's the 'Ides of March,' but I can't see that being something- Well, maybe a prank, if he's comparing me to Julius Caesar, but that seems like a stretch for him. But no way would I want to give him the satisfaction of admitting I didn't know!
"I remember," I answer levelly. I nod at Koizumi-kun, knowing I can rely on him when Kyon's playing around. "So, what do you have, then?"
"I'm pleased to offer this!" the fair-haired boy at Kyon's side says brightly, reaching into his coat and producing a package. It's small, flat, and wrapped completely in white-
...oops. White Day! How did I forget that?
I was supposed to make Kyon and Koizumi-kun get me, Mikuru-chan, and Yuki a bunch of really nice gifts! I somehow forgot all that, and they went out and got things on their own?
Well - I can admit that I don't mind nice surprises, so letting that slip isn't so terrible. Anyway, for Kyon's smugness, I'm sure that Koizumi-kun's gift will be better. Seeing that, I'm sure he'll understand he has to get me something else, to make up the difference!
"Alright," I allow, taking the small package from Koizumi-kun and tearing it neatly open, not scattering paper everywhere. Inside the flat box are a collection of those jangling bracelets - the kind you wear a half-dozen of together at once. I think they're called bangles. They're silver, but not real silver, just colored that way. They're actually not bad; if they were real the cost would be a few thousand yen.
Pretty enough, but I don't think I'll wear them right now. "That's very nice," I congratulate Koizumi-kun. His taste is pretty decent. I can't really complain, anyway. "Excellent work; fifty points!"
Koizumi-kun nods, happy with this praise, and I close the package back up before stuffing it into my bag.
When I look at Kyon, he reaches into his blazer and pulls out another package - the paper's not quite as fine, but it's the same exact size. I tear it open the same way- What the hell?
Kyon got me the same thing? Well - not quite. These bracelets are different colors, instead of just silver. White (silver, really, matching the set Koizumi-kun gave me), yellow, red, blue, green, gold, and brown. I stare at them for a few seconds, realizing what Kyon must be implying with them.
"A different color for each day of the week," Kyon offers. Then he shrugs, adding, "I guess Koizumi's is better for fitting the theme of the day, though; this just felt right since you're usually pointing out my off-color humor anyway."
"With a follow up like that, what else could I want?" I mutter. Still ... colors, days of the week... Trust him to remember something like that. I can't really be ticked off, and the quality is about the same between his and Koizumi-kun's. Actually, I guess Kyon's is a bit more thoughtful.
"They're very pretty," Koizumi-kun adds- Just like him; he doesn't get it, but he's still trying to help his friend out.
"You get points for creativity, but lose some for that joke, Kyon- forty points!" I declare.
He shrugs, his smile not really fading. I'm not really sure where to go from there, so stuff it in my bag next to the package from Koizumi-kun. There's still school today, though, so I move past them to change my shoes.
They stay in place, not really looking over as I open my shoe locker. I check, but there are no extra packages stuck inside for me. I'm still mulling over what to think of the gifts, and put one hand up to check my hair- Still in place, but... I wonder about growing it out again? Maybe not as long as I used to have it, but enough for a ponytail?
It's a thought, but one that's interrupted as I hear Kyon call out, "Nagato!"
I turn to watch - I can't really be surprised that they remembered. It's not like I was the only one who gave them chocolates last Valentine's Day, and it is the tradition for boys to reciprocate on White Day. Still, I guess if they give superior (or inferior) gifts to Yuki or Mikuru-chan, I should know, right?
I finish changing shoes and move over to Koizumi-kun's side on the wooden slats, not the bare floor for outdoor shoes, so I can watch. Yuki accepts Kyon's offer first - which ... at a glance is perfectly freaking identical to the one he gave me, except for the name on the top!
She opens up the package with grave solemnity, her expression almost entirely unchanging as she reveals a collection of bracelets in very slightly differing shades of green. Koizumi-kun's package is another identical copy of the others we've seen. Silver again? At least Kyon tried to be a bit more interesting in terms of color!
"Thank you," Nagato says quietly to both of them, closing her packages up and placing them in her own bag with careful deliberation.
When her gaze turns to me, I allow, "We're about equal on that front- Mikuru-chan should be here soon, right?"
Of course, a lot of other students are around. Most of the girls are either looking crestfallen or hopeful; no one's really remarked on us. I did tell Kyon to keep the Valentine's Day thing a bit more subtle, but I guess it's obvious enough with two people giving me gifts that it's just an obligation exchange, not...
Something about that bothers me a bit, but I don't want to think about it yet. I've got all day in class to ignore my lessons and figure it out.
"Soon," Nagato agrees, moving past me silently to change her shoes.
Very shortly, Mikuru-chan arrives, huffing slightly for breath and walking next to Tsuruya-san. That girl gives a healthy laugh at the sight of us together, clapping her hands together and baring one prominent tooth in an excited grin. "Ooh, todays~!" she cheers. "Haha, Haru-nyan, what did you get?"
"I'll show you after Mikuru-chan gets hers," I defer.
"Eh?" the girl in question noises, looking blankly at me, then toward Kyon and Koizumi-kun in mild confusion. "A...am I forgetting something?"
"It's White Day," Kyon says, a little too happily. Especially he's too excited to be giving her the same thing - it is the same thing, isn't it? - as he gave me! "Here, Asahina-san!" It's the same size, at least - just like the ones he gave me and Yuki.
Well ... I can't exactly chew him out, but judging by how many other boys in the room are giving him dirty looks, I won't have to. Sometimes I forget just how appealing Mikuru-chan is ... not that it'd be good for her to be involved with those types of guys. Yeah, alright; it's better to have just Kyon drooling over her than idiots like Taniguchi.
"Oh!" she exclaims, blushing. "I- I forgot! U...um, thank you, Kyon-kun!"
She accepts the package from him and opens it delicately, trying not to tear the papers. Well, there's a shocker! He got her ... bracelets!
"It's nothing," he says, looking very satisfied with himself.
Her colors are varying shades of red, and she gasps in appreciation.
"They're lovely! Thank you so much, Kyon-kun!" she gushes.
He's a little too puffed up with pride after that, so I pull his package out of my bag as Mikuru-chan accepts Koizumi-kun's. It's a little surprising that she seems less impressed with Koizumi-kun's offer; I guess Kyon got the advantage by presenting his first? I can't blame her, it is annoyingly uncreative that they give us all the exact same thing.
"This is quite nice, Koizumi-kun, thank you."
Though, being honest, Koizumi-kun has really disappointed me. He stuck with silver for all three - I have to admit, while they'd both be penalized for repetition, Kyon would get more points for creativity. Then again, considering I need to take Kyon down a notch-
I hand it over to Tsuruya-san and she re-opens it while Mikuru-chan fumbles to store her gifts in her bag. "Oh, those are such nice colors!" Mikuru-chan remarks, totally missing the point, while Tsuruya-san bursts into laughter anew.
I don't even have time to point out how annoying that is before she rushes to Yuki's side. "Nagato-chi - you too, right?" she giggles.
"Yes," Yuki replies in her soft voice.
"Haha - that's perfect!" Tsuruya-san cheers, smacking Kyon on the shoulder hard enough to make him wobble unsteadily. "Good work, Kyon-kun, Koizumi-kun!" Koizumi-kun weathers his own playful swat without shifting or letting his smile fade in the slightest.
Wait, she thinks that was good? After I told her about what we did in the first place for Valentine's Day, she thinks that was clever of them?
Tsuruya-san sees my face at that and snickers, "Haru-nyan - isn't that very fair of them?"
I guess I'll have to think about that. In the meantime, I shake my head and say, "Well, the day's not over yet!"
Even having said that to Tsuruya-san, I can't help but return to that thought I'd put off once we get to class. Considering how things went, I guess it's probably for the best that he actually didn't figure it out, but ... I kind of actually did want something else - something more from Kyon.
He's got to realize his position and work to improve his standing in the Brigade! Then again, I also keep going back to what Tsuruya-san said. It bugs me, but if Kyon had given me something different or better, wouldn't he be sending a message to Yuki and Mikuru-chan? I wanted something more, but despite what I want, logic keeps breaking up my daydreams.
Kyon and Koizumi-kun did have to shell out the cash for those gifts in triplicate. And the bracelets are decent quality, so even if they got a really reasonable price, three times that could be fairly hefty. Koizumi-kun works part time, but he's a pretty nice guy - more thoughtful than some people, usually - so if he got us something nicer, he'd be making Kyon look bad.
That would actually be pretty mean of him, and I have a hard time seeing him behaving that way. Thinking about things further, Kyon does almost always get hit with the restaurant penalties, so realistically, that takes away from anything else he could add to the cost of gifts, doesn't it?
Yeah, buying gifts that someone else made doesn't match the effort of me setting up that whole 'treasure hunt' thing. That was a lot of work! Even so ... I can't think it'll go over well if I complain too much after Tsuruya-san's comment.
I guess she hit it right on the head - that was really fair of them. They received equal gifts from three girls, and they returned equal gifts from two boys.
So as much as it bothers me, it's not like there's anything to be done about it.
Or is it? I hate to just give up - so that means if I want things to change, well ... that would be up to me, wouldn't it? If I wanted something more (or better) from Kyon, wouldn't I need to give him something more?
And being totally honest with myself ... I haven't really done that.
Hell, I even told him straight-up that what I gave him was just for obligation, and that I was considering putting pepper into the cakes as a prank! I didn't really mean that, but I absolutely said it, and I'd be an idiot to think he'll pay attention to how I do my hair and not pay attention to what I say.
And other than not getting something special just for me from Kyon, didn't the day so far really work out nicely? Aside from which, what went wrong was my own fault, looking back on things and keeping what Tsuruya said in mind. That also means it will happen again unless I take the initiative - but now I know that.
For a special day, I managed to forget about it entirely; that means what happened, even if it's not quite everything I wanted, was a real surprise; doesn't that make today genuinely special? That other part not working out...
Of course, it'll take me almost a whole year to get a chance to change things - so that sucks.
Thinking about that, I stare out the window. It should be a warm, sunny spring day, but the bank of clouds rolling in is more fitting to the day's name. 'White Day' indeed...
Ignoring the teacher, I lower my head to my crossed arms on the desk and let myself drift off.
Despite napping, I end up not feeling a whole lot better about things when we get to the club room. For a 'special' day, I don't really have the motivation to do much else. Really, I set things in motion a month ago to turn out this way.
Knowing you have only yourself to blame for something...
It's happened to me before, and this isn't really as bad as the last time - not by a long shot! - but it's still pretty miserable.
So I just let things be.
Mikuru-chan admires her bracelets after serving tea. Yuki sits in her chair and reads, evidently ignoring her gifts entirely.
Kyon and Koizumi-kun play a few rounds of chess, but Koizumi-kun ends up excusing himself from the club early - part-time work again. I look out the window before he leaves; it was unusually cold at lunch time, but that seems to have escalated quite a bit. I wouldn't be surprised by a storm at this rate. "Watch out for rain," I warn, pointing at the umbrella bucket we added for the more miserable days of winter.
The bucket we added after a certain someone complained we shouldn't use faculty umbrellas.
"I'll do my best!" Koizumi-kun agrees, taking one of the umbrellas in the bucket. "Take care!"
After that, Yuki rises from her seat and announces quietly, "Computer club."
...yeah, I can't blame her. The whole 'special' part of today is pretty much done with. It's just the dull aftermath.
"Have fun," I sigh. "Don't let those nerds give you any naughty gifts."
She blinks and agrees, "Understood."
I'll give her credit for trying, but even that silly behavior doesn't lift my spirits much. Taking another look at the clouds I decide, "We may as well call it early today," as Yuki steps out.
"Ah?" Mikuru-chan wonders, blinking. We've just finished the last round of her tea, so she shakes her head, not making another batch. "Well, if you like, you can go on ahead; I need to clean up and change."
"Sure," I agree. I pause at the doorway, frowning. I had originally gotten us five umbrellas. Someone - probably a certain lazy nameless person who had insisted we needed the bucket in the first place - must have taken one home and forgotten to bring it back the last time it rained, because there are only three left.
As tempting as it is to make him deal with the results of his own laziness, I keep thinking ... if exchanges are fair and I want to get anywhere...
"Kyon," I warn him, "you'd better stick with me. There are only two umbrellas left after this," I pause to heft one of the three, "and you're not going to be making either Mikuru-chan or Yuki go home without one in this weather."
"Or my Brigade chief," he returns coolly, just finished putting up the chess set from the last game he'd played with Koizumi-kun.
"That's right!" I agree. "So you'd better stick with me!"
"Hmm," he replies, giving me that Kyon-look again.
Mikuru-chan blushes and gives me a smile. "Ah, that's alright, you don't need to worry about me," she insists. "It's not even raining yet!"
"As cold as it is out there, I really wouldn't be surprised if it snows instead," Kyon remarks, grabbing his heavy coat as I finish pulling mine on. He pauses again, loitering for a moment as he checks his bags and pockets while Mikuru-chan cleans up the tea set. What, is he waiting for her to change in front of him?
He catches my look as he's patting his coat pockets, then shrugs and steps out into the hall with me. It doesn't take long for the cold to settle in - I guess Kyon was right about snow instead of rain! This is unusual weather for this time of year, but it suits my mood at the moment.
Kyon says nothing all the way to the shoe lockers.
Even after, when we step out, he's silent. Of course, with no snow or rain, the umbrella's pointless at the moment. We walk down the hill toward the station where we'll part ways ... but I really don't know what to say to start things off. I know I want to talk to him, but I'm not sure how to begin. I absolutely don't want to seem like I'm backing down from something I had said before!
A little less than halfway to the station, thin fog has rolled in, making it hard to see long distances. In a way, it makes it seem like the world is smaller. I keep from shivering, wishing I'd thought to bring a scarf, and Kyon looks up, making a thoughtful noise as a handful of snowflakes drift down.
"What's bothering you?" he prompts, instead of remarking at the weather.
"How does late snow lead to that?" I have to ask, opening up the umbrella. It probably won't do much, but it'll keep it out of my hair, since the wind is relatively still. "Anyway- Don't you want to share the umbrella?"
"I didn't say they were related," he remarks. "And, anyway, this little snow is nothing; it'll melt before it touches me." He raises a hand to catch a snowflake, and it proves him wrong, landing on his palm. A moment later, it does melt away, though. He shrugs as though it had actually proved his point.
Well ... I guess I can at least be happy that he noticed, but it's still not really working out the way I'd hoped.
So ... I have to be honest here. He'll never give me anything back if I can't give him something first, right?
"I ... kind of wanted something else for White Day," I mutter.
He looks around, making a thoughtful sound as the fog around us thickens.
"Like what, though?" he wonders, stopping before a store display. "What are the traditional White Day gifts? It could have been white chocolate, or marshmallows, but those would never compare to what you made for Valentine's Day. I thought you'd rather receive something that would last a bit longer. Other than that," he jerks a thumb at the display behind him, and I realize it's mannequins in nothing but underwear.
White, mostly transparent lingerie, to be specific.
My face heats up, and my knuckles tighten on the umbrella. That would be a bit much, wouldn't it? I can't get angry at him for this one; the display is even marked with a huge banner reading, 'White Day Sale! Half Off (At Least!)'
"Well, if Koizumi and I got you ... something along these lines, that'd give the wrong impression to everyone at school - to say nothing of the fact that I don't know your three sizes." He pauses and looks thoughtful, adding, "Or Asahina-san's or Nagato's, for that matter."
He has a point on the first part. I think I'd forgive him if he gave me something like that, but if he managed to get my sizes perfectly, I'd be a little creeped out, and anyway, it'd be way, way too soon for that. Then he goes on about Mikuru-chan and Yuki again?
So I bite my tongue.
"Come to think of it, I guess you missed it because of your nap, but Taniguchi tried that - with three girls."
I can't help but snort. "That idiot," I grumble. "That's pretty desperate."
"Yeah, well ... he's kind of a romance nut," Kyon agrees. "And not in a good way - I can't think you'd want that associated with the Brigade. All three of you getting something like that? From two guys?"
Alright - enough talking about underwear. "I'll concede that point, now stop being so pervy and get on with it already!" I warn him.
"I'm nothing compared to him," he returns mildly, resuming the walk down the hill. I keep pace with him, and then he remarks, "This weather ... really living up to the 'White Day' name, isn't it?"
All the same, as the fog picks up and the snow thickens a bit - I kind of like it. The entire outside world is melting away, piece by piece, leaving just the pair of us. Almost, it's enough for me to say...
"Anyway," he continues, breaking the fragile silence, "considering all of that, jewelry - the last traditional White Day gift - seemed like the only reasonable choice."
I wish I could disagree, but there's no way to do that without sounding whiny or petulant. It sucks, but it keeps circling back around to the fact that ... I need to give him more to reciprocate, if that's what I really want. I suppose that's the only good to come from the day, I realize, stopping before the station. No one else is around in the small bubble we share inside the still gentle snow and dense fog.
Yeah, the one positive I can get out of this is that now I know for certain what I really wanted. I can't help but think of Orihime and Hikoboshi, though. Needing to wait a full year for that opportunity...
"Alright," I sigh. "That's how it is, then." That's how it is this year, anyway. I shake my head and turn away - I just don't feel like saying something as final as 'goodbye,' having fallen as short of the mark as I wanted.
"Haruhi, wait," Kyon calls.
What now? I turn back and shoot him a warning glare. Can't he read my moods by now?
But he's not meeting my eyes. He's looking off into the fog and snow.
"Still ... having said that, there is one other thing," he admits, reaching into his coat pocket and pulling out- Really? Another one of those boxes?
I take it anyway, fast enough he should flinch. He doesn't, though he does turn to watch me as I tear it open. It takes a little bit of work to open it with one hand holding the umbrella, but until it's opened, I can flip it around any way without spilling out whatever's inside. Shortly enough, I get it unwrapped, then manage to hold it upright in one hand and flip it open with my thumb. The lid is still hanging on with a flap, so I peer inside.
More bracelets isn't ideal but- But ... it's not more bracelets.
"E...earrings?" I ask in surprise. I can see the hooks, but I can't move the tissue out of the way to see what they are yet, still holding the handle of the umbrella. All that effort, and I'm thwarted by my own umbrella and a piece of tissue?
He moves closer and takes the umbrella from me, holding it over our heads. I don't move away, just pushing the tissue to one side. Hanging from the hooks for actual decoration ... a pair of glass beads with bits of metal inside? I lift one out of the box - from that angle, I realize the metal bits align to make the character of 'Orihime.' I check the other one, and it forms 'Hikoboshi.'
It's ... well, from Kyon, it's amazingly thoughtful. Even if it is just glass and tin, it's pretty obviously custom-made - he had to have commissioned it somewhere.
I don't know... I think I should be offended to get something so crummy! But ... it's not, really. It's actually something that looks dull and worthless, but isn't on closer examination. After I take the time to look at it ... it's really amazing!
And even though it's pretty much exactly what I would have wanted, I have to ask, "Why?"
I don't want to think he's got something special like that planned for Mikuru-chan, or Yuki. I really don't like to think that the bracelets were entirely Koizumi-kun's idea, and Kyon got me something extra because Kyon couldn't afford anything else, either, so...
"Koizumi said we should give identical gifts in return," Kyon admits, his cheeks a little pink, not meeting my eyes. "Which would make sense - but I didn't get identical cakes."
"What are you talking about?" It's not like they used different ingredients, and I'm certain Mikuru-chan's and Yuki's had to have tasted just as good; we worked together, after all.
"I'm saying ... one of them wasn't marked 'obligation,'" he clarifies, shrugging his shoulders. "So..." He leaves it at that, shifting his feet. Considering we both know what I said...
I could let things go there - I could just accept that and go home, having gotten pretty much everything I really could have asked for, including the fact that he saw through to what I really meant, but couldn't make myself say. More than anything else, this tells me I don't really need to offer more to get more back; Kyon can really, genuinely understand me.
But then I think about things, and mostly about reciprocation.
Maybe, just maybe ... if it's only the two of us in our tiny world of whiteness, I can give him something else, too. Waiting a whole year...
He doesn't really have enough time to react when I snap the box shut and grab him, pulling him down a little as I step up on tip-toe.
His eyes drift shut just as mine do, and I think back to a dream from almost a year ago - a dream it's taken me this long to make a reality. Our lips touch, and the arm he's not holding the umbrella with goes around me...
So, some time later - I'm not really sure how long - we break apart, the sound of a chime from an arriving train echoing through the fog. Kyon looks completely stunned, but also ... as rare as it is, he's got that smile he tries to hide, the one that says that he's happy, too. He'd only show that if I really caught him off guard!
"Don't forget to keep that to yourself, or else you won't get any more some day," I tell him, unable to keep a trace of satisfaction from my voice as I snatch the umbrella from him.
I turn around and march away after that; I can call him at home later - to remind him to bring the other one back, and make sure he's doing his homework.
The brief snow has already stopped, and I'm somehow sure that the fog will lift almost as quickly. For tomorrow... I think I might save those bracelets for some later day, but those earrings won't clash with the school uniform at all.
And I think that suits me just fine!
Author's notes: Hopefully the OOCness is forgivable in the name of WAFF; I may rewrite this one next year to give it the polish it deserves. :P