a bit of angsty whining that doesn't deserve to properly be called fanfiction
disclaimer: the light novel series begun with 'the melancholy of suzumiya haruhi'/'suzumiya haruhi no yuuutsu' is the property of tanigawa nagaru and is used her without permission. no disrespect is meant with the posting of this story.
note: this is a very rough story because it's largely personal; trying to work some depression out and cast it into a story i can throw away; the content is going to be abysmal, so i appreciate comments on the technical and stylistic aspects; i don't expect anyone will enjoy reading this; i sure didn't enjoy writing it. in fact, the style may be deliberately cruel ... it's probably best to brace yourself; i think this is the closest i've ever come to shoot the shaggy dog.
After exiting the train station, my feet - long familiar with the route - wound between the salary-men, students, office ladies, and everyone else in the area who found the train convenient transportation. In Japan, that's 'almost everyone.' Even considering how long it had been since my last trip, I had no trouble navigating to the sidewalk and down the street leading toward my destination.
When I was younger, I was the sort that would feel aloof, even though I wouldn't admit it.
Now, though, after all I'd experienced...
Now I walked through the crowd thinking how alike everyone was.
Then, it would have meant that we were all the same. Now, I understand it's that we're all different, and yet ... not that different. I suppose that's the power that time holds over us - time and our experiences.
Because this is now, but...
The couple sits at their table in the fancy restaurant. The small square surfaces are covered with white lace, decorated with candles, and the lighting is kept low. A group of sharply dressed musicians play smooth, elegant music on their stringed instruments, hiding all but the merest edges of other conversation, granting the illusion of privacy to everyone in the room.
There are many couples, and he knows that they aren't that different looking from any of the others. They've come here before. He orders the pasta primavera; a reliable favorite. After hedging for a bit, she settles on the shrimp scampi, then they exchange nervous smiles while waiting for the waiter to deliver their orders.
He can't help but shift in his seat and think of all that they've done together; how far they've come.
Oh, college, yes, but further than that, to this point where 'Brigades' and 'enemies' and all those things are far behind...
Just him and her, as he realizes it was always meant to be.
I stepped into the lobby and found myself frozen in place, trapped and uncertain, shifting back and forth slightly like an uncollapsed probability wave. The observation of a security guard and his knowing nod sets me into motion once more.
I trod quietly across the marble floor, reassured by that recognition.
It'd been this long - a year, at least - since my last trip, and I was still recognized? Then again, I would have been told if I'd managed to lose my job.
No one said a word to me as I crossed the spacious, quiet lobby, and stepped into the elevator at the same time as a woman several years my junior. She gave me a bright smile and I nod at her wordlessly.
She hit the button for the top floor, then paused as the doors shut to ask me, "Which floor?"
"Same," I answered, nodding very slightly.
She studied me for a moment, then grinned. "Courier-san! You're the courier!" she deduced, pointing at the bag I'm carrying. "Ah- I'm so excited~!"
The courier? I suppose in a way I was. My own manual labor, even. I wasn't not dressed in a nice suit just to deliver my work, so I probably projected a disheviled and worn appearance.
"That's me," I agreed, after thinking about it. I had actually managed to forget I was carrying the manuscript, but hefted the bag from my shoulder momentarily. It was just a messenger bag, but it was from my college days, when ... someone had written the name she called me on the bag's nameplate.
"Kyon," she says quietly, rolling her eyes at something while he's distracted, looking at the musicians.
He turns back, raising his eyebrows. "Haruhi?" he returns.
She snorts softly, then looks away, not meeting his eyes. He wonders what she's thinking; her eyes are an unreadable mystery, glowing with the excitement of adventure or not. He knows she's planning another adventure - gearing herself up for something.
It doesn't matter to him at this point; he'll be there with her. That's good enough for the time being.
He thinks they've been through enough already, haven't they?
I shook my head, realizing the elevator was still rising. Trailing off into a daze and thinking of the past like that... "So, you're a fan?" I asked.
"Like you!" she agreed, pointing at the nameplate on my bag. "But I'm not just a fan!" she exclaimed. "I'm the biggest fan! Hehe- Well, not to boast, but I also do the artwork~!"
"Ah," I replied, a bit surprised. The elevator stopped then with a chime, and we stepped out into the upper lobby. "Um- I really like your artwork," I offered. "I can't wait to see your pictures for the new books."
She gave me a bright grin, reminding me of an imitation underclassman from the start of my second year. "Thanks!" she cheered, blushing faintly as she waved, dashing toward the office where she's expected.
The energy of the young, isn't it? I had that much energy myself ... of course, when I was her age, other people around me had even more...
She hesitates, uncertain. He thinks that's not like her, but then stops himself.
That's not true at all, is it?
She's grown a lot in the time he's known her - amazingly, even. She's so much more considerate of others than she'd once been; sometimes enough so that he feels ashamed for ever doubting her.
He'd like to think that he's grown a bit, too, but knows well enough to rate himself below her.
"What's wrong?" he prompts, offering her a supportive smile.
She shifts in her seat, then shakes her head as the musicians launch into another number. "...nothing that can't wait," she decides with a sigh.
He still wonders what's distracting her, but maybe it doesn't matter, if he can lift her spirits another way?
I stopped delaying the inevitable and walked through the doors to my editor's office. He wasn't on the top floor the first few times I delivered manuscripts. He must have worked his way up.
His look at me when I stepped in was both relieved and pained. "Finally!" he said, instead of offering a greeting, tapping his knuckles on his desk.
I obliged and stepped closer. For all that I hadn't been in his office in so long, the decorations hadn't changed. I glanced at the photo of his wife and children on his desk. Behind it was - well, a drawing from that young woman I had met in the elevator.
The cover of my first book.
My editor clapped his hands together once and then rubbed them - his little ceremony to beginning this whole thing. I was familiar enough with it that it didn't alarm me anymore; I actually managed a small smile for it.
He then turned to his desk drawer and produced two tumblers and a large bottle of Suntory whiskey. After pouring a nearly full glass for each of us, he took his and announced, "Kampai!"
I took the other cup and gently tapped it against his, returning the cheer and taking a sip. The drink was strong, but I'd gotten used to it, even if it had been quite some time. He took a bigger swallow and set his glass down, giving me a distracted gesture to relax as he opened the manuscript up. I accepted the invitation and sunk into the massive, plush leather chair.
"After nearly two years," he sighed, shaking his head.
I nodded absently; long familiarity and a memory of my editor's ability to tune out the outside world when reading were enough. I barely manage to finish my drink before dozing off.
The musicians stop, producing a bubble of clear sound - the conversations of the other diners become more noticeable to the couple. He shakes his head slightly, one hand going into his pocket, feeling the shape there.
He'd thought about it a long while. She likes things exciting and dramatic. She likes things amazing and colorful.
What could he do to make presenting the circle of precious metal and stone to her worthwhile?
In his mind, nothing could be truly worthy of her-
So where presentation will not suffice, sincerity will be his brand. Earnestness and conviction will have to do; she always tells him he's not that creative anyway. The musician's break is the ideal opportunity, he realizes, and if he doesn't act...
His hand reaches for the thing in his pocket; his fingers close around it. His lips part, the words coming to his tongue-
She speaks first, stunning him with her determination as she suddenly spits out: "We should see other people."
"Wh...what?" he stutters in response, shocked by the remark.
She scowls, not meeting his stare. "It's... Look- I like you, a lot. I think you like me, too- But maybe this is all too much? Maybe- Maybe ... you would be happier with someone else?"
He stares in shock, unable to believe what he's hearing.
She meets his gaze for the merest moment, then looks steadfastly away. "I think we should be friends, though; as far as things go, you can't really keep up with me half the time anyway," she continues. "And- I don't want to make you feel bad for having to let me go off, or to feel bad myself for leaving you behind.
"So - we should be friends. And see other people."
His mouth shuts, and he blinks his eyes furiously, as his fingers trace over the shape in his pocket again, pressing so hard he might cut himself on the settings for the stone. "I...is that what you want?" he asks, almost awed that he's managing to keep his voice from hitching.
"Y...yeah," she says quietly, still looking resolutely away, not willing to meet his eyes. "I... I like you- I really do. But ... for me, even if I can make myself hold back to these things ... it's not enough. I...it's not anything you're doing wrong- But how many times have we been here?"
"I- I don't remember," he answers, running his free hand through his hair and frantically trying to recall. How many times have they come to this place? "I thought it was your favorite?"
"No, it's boring," she grumbles in return. "That's me, though, not you..." She shakes her head and for another blinding instant, their eyes meet- She looks away just as hurriedly again.
He clings to the only thing he can think of in the light of this change: "But ... we'll still be friends?"
"Y...yeah," she mumbles.
"So ... some day, if you need something - like to talk to an old friend - you'll call me, right?" he ventures, his voice cracking slightly at the end. He tries to cover it with a muffled cough, but doubts she believes the act; he knows he wouldn't buy it.
Instead of pressing his stumble, she hunches over slightly more.
The silence drags on.
"I'll ... wait for your call, then," he says, before stopping himself. What else can he say? He knows he'll break if he tries to do more than keep up a front, so says nothing, borrowing a smile from another classmate that he hasn't seen in years...
I was roused from my nap by my editor's long, rumbling sigh. I sat up straight, a bit stiff, and rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
When I woke up enough to study my editor, I saw he'd finished with both the manuscript and his bottle of whiskey. And judging by the clock, it was the next day already, though much earlier in the morning than when I'd initially arrived.
He looked tired, though his expression was difficult for me to read. Entirely sober, at a glance, but he had plenty of time. Maybe he was mildly troubled? I'm not sure-
There was one way to be certain, though; I asked him, "What did you think?"
After a thoughtful moment, my editor looked me in the eye and said, "Well, you've pretty much killed the dramatic tension, but it'll probably work anyway. I don't think your readers are in it for the action as much as the romance - and that's subtle, but well handled. It's ... really admirable, though - it's so clear from the subtext that the two of them are going to be together forever.
"Even though the guy didn't do anything meaningful in the last book- That's okay. You know everything will work out; their love is strong enough that it doesn't even matter!"
"The perfect relationship," I agreed quietly, looking away, staring blankly out the window, but not really looking. And like all other truly perfect things, something that's almost pure fantasy.
"I just need to know..." He gestured to the completed manuscript before him and asked, "What happens next? Where does it go from here?"
"Just waiting for the next adventure with her, of course," I answered. "Beyond that ... I don't know."
He nodded slowly at that, his gaze joining mine. "No author's note, as usual," he remarked, with a quiet sigh shaking his head. "I suppose you'll want me to make something up again?"
"Yeah," I replied absently. I had no idea who read my books, honestly - I wouldn't know what to say to anyone who wanted a personal message from me.
My editor gave another sigh and nodded, briefly glancing at some other documents on his desk. Well, it's not like I'm the only person who writes for him. "Alright," he said, picking up a smaller stack from his printer's tray. "Here are my revision notes for you. Take care, now, alright?"
I nodded acceptance, tucking the papers into my familiar messenger bag and trooping out the door. I was mildly surprised to be reunited with the same artist in the elevator, this time headed back down to the ground floor. She was practically vibrating with energy, clutching a docket of papers in one hand.
I supposed she would have been one of the few fans I'd met, then?
"Ah!" she exclaimed on seeing me. "Oh- Taking the manuscript back to Sensei?"
"Taking the manuscripts back for some touch-ups," I agreed.
"Oh, oh, gosh," she gushed, giggling. "I'm so excited~! It's so hard knowing that there's work coming up, but not knowing when - I spent the last week straight sitting by my phone waiting for the call~!"
"A week?" I mused.
She nodded eagerly. "Ah- But that's nothing! I love Sensei's work - it's really a privilege and an honor to get to draw for him!"
I nodded back, though my thoughts weren't on her much.
"I was getting really worried when it took so long, but Sensei came through," she added. "Ah! I hope some day I can meet him!"
"That day could be closer than you think," I answered absently.
"Aha, w...well," she managed, her face turning crimson. "S...sensei has a girlfriend, I'm sure... Ah- N...nevermind about that!" I blinked, wondering what she was talking about, and she waved her hands in front of her defensively, as though to wave what she'd just said away. "I-I'll be okay, just doing my best and waiting by the phone for the next assignment!"
"That's the spirit," I encouraged her. "If it takes ten years, or twenty-"
"Or a hundred!" she returned. Not quite as brightly, though; even if it's just a bit, her mood seemed dampened.
I tried to pay closer attention to her, wondering at the shift.
She was still determined, though. "As long as it takes!"
I hadn't really looked before, but she was fairly pretty; she probably had a boyfriend or husband to take care of her. That probably really helped her wait ... I shouldn't interfere and appear too concerned. "Exactly right," I agreed.
She gave me another smile, nodding. "Good luck! Oh, a...and Sensei- If you see him..." She hesitated as the elevator stoped, and the doors slid open.
"Yeah?" I wondered, when the moment dragged on. "I do need to get back - I'd never forgive myself if I missed my own important call."
"Ah, it's nothing," she said, shaking her head, her eyes shining before they squeezed shut and she smiled again. "O...oh, no, it's nothing... Good luck!"
I nodded again, my thoughts are going back to where they always go. I had to get home sooner than later.
Just like I told her, though - I'd never forgive myself if I missed that call.
Author's Notes: The pretentious Latin title works out to 'I have been pushed away.'
I think I'm actually pretty happy with the style. The content sucks, but I (personally) feel much better for having gotten it out. I hope this doesn't make anyone else feel bad...
I would like to thank Halbarad for his suggestion of title and other input, Murphrid and Sarsaparilla for their advice on how to focus and intensify the emotion in this fic, and Arakawa for his commentary - all of them helped me shape this fic into what it is.