[The Haruhi Suzumiya characters are the creation of Nagaru Tanigawa. No infringment of his rights is intended.]

I had only been in the same freshman high school classroom as Haruhi Suzumiya for one month and she had already roped me into joining her SOS Brigade. In addition to myself, her underlings included Yuki Nagato, who had seemed to come along like a fixture of the Literature Club room that Haruhi had commandeered, and Mikuru Asahina, a buxom sophomore Haruhi had found wandering around the school.

I had taken it upon myself to protect the two girls from Haruhi's schemes. Yuki never spoke up and hadn't asserted herself at all when Haruhi stormed in to take over her clubroom. And Mikuru had only feebly complained when Haruhi dragged her into the clubroom and molested her. Mikuru had been at the verge of tears when I pulled Haruhi's hands off her. The thought of what might have happened if I wasn't there ensured that I would always attend the daily meetings.

And it wasn't just in private either. Haruhi had just used blackmail of staged photos with Mikuru to get a state-of-the-art PC. As our brigade leader tried out her newly stolen toy, I went to Mikuru, sitting on the floor, and tried to talk her into quiting the club.

Mikuru wiped away her tears, turned to me and winked. Her expression had changed in an instant. Gone was the shy, flustered and easily embarrassed seventeen year old girl. In her place was a woman of such vast confidence that it dwarfed Haruhi's bravado. Her outfit, body and face were the same, but she was not the same person at all. Where the girl Mikuru had always seemed to stumble uncertainly from place to place, this woman sat with a calm composure that waited like a coiled spring, ready at any moment to leap into the most intricate of dances.

"Kyon!"

This woman Mikuru nodded towards the desk where Haruhi had called from, and then slumped forwards, once again the trembling girl-child.

As I walked to Haruhi's side, I considered what had just happened. I must have imagined it all. People do not change that much in a lifetime, much less a instant. I looked over Haruhi's shoulder at the computer screen, "Yes, what is it?"

"Make a webpage for the SOS Brigade, while I go search for the remaining members."

Yes, she had said something about needing a mysterious transfer student. I took the seat she had vacated, and took a moment to look at Mikuru before starting on the project.

Mikuru waited for Haruhi to close the door after herself, then shifted again to that amazing woman as she looked up. She rose on one foot, spun ninety degrees with inhuman grace and bowed towards me, or perhaps towards Yuki, who still sat in the corner reading a book.

I could not hope to look away as this all-woman Mikuru turned and walked to the door. Every tiny movement of hers seemed to strike directly at my libido. And then she stopped and waited for my gaze to travel slowly up from her backside to her face, which was half turned towards me.

Again she winked at me, her message clear. She had played me like a musical instrument. We both knew that she had the complete advantage over me, anytime she wished. Then she turned again to the door, slumped in on herself, and grasped the door handle with infinite uncertainty.

I stared at the door for half a minute after she had closed it behind herself and shuffled off. Then I turned to Yuki and asked, "Did you see that?"

"No," Yuki turned the page of the book in her lap and continued reading, "I saw nothing."

That night my dreams were haunted by that strange woman Mikuru had suddenly become and then un-become as quickly. She wore a thousand different faces, but each time she had that same inhuman grace. I saw her in a thousand different outfits and as often in none at all. She danced, we danced together and in the end we did other things. Finally she turned to me and said, "Kyon, we can meet together if you like. But she must never know."

"Know what?"

"Kyon!"

"What?"

"Kyon! Wake up, it's morning!" My little sister pulled me and my blankets off my bed, then she turned and ran from my room, "Mom! Kyon's wet the bed again."

It wasn't urine. I showered and dressed then gathered up my blanket, sheets and pajamas and put them all in the clothes washer and started it up before leaving for school.

I spent the lunch period in the clubroom, working on the website while reading a book on web design. Had the stress of putting up with Haruhi gotten to me? I found it hard to focus on the screen as my thoughts drifted to the woman concealed within Mikuru. I hungered to see her again, but what could I say that wouldn't make me sound like a total freak?

The bell for the next class rang and I saved the file, with hardly anything done on it. I saw movement from the corner of my eye and turned to Yuki. She always sat quietly reading so I had paid no attention to her at all, especially today with dreams of that woman Mikuru dancing through my head.

Yuki had closed her book and was writing a note on a bookmark. Then she stood and presented the bookmark to me with both hands.

I reached out to take the bookmark and my hand brushed against hers. Then I reached up with both hands to grasp hers, "Yuki, you're so cold, like ice. Sitting all the time must be murder on your circulation."

She stood there for a moment, closed her eyes and sighed. Then she slowly withdrew her hands from mine to fold them against her thin chest. She looked at me with hurt, fright and perhaps a small blush, which quickly faded to her usual expressionless face. "Excuse me please." She bowed ever so slightly to me and walked to the door. She stopped at the door and without turning said, "Seven p.m.". Then she left.

I glanced at the bookmark. All that was written there was an address and what might have been a room number, 708.

That afternoon I found Yuki and Mikuru waiting in the clubroom. Mikuru asked me politely and timidly if Haruhi was with me, and then shifted to her woman persona when I said I hadn't seen our dear leader since the last school period.

I frowned at Mikuru, "Is there some strain in pretending to be human?"

"Oh, I don't know. Does it show?" Mikuru stretched in her chair in the most amazing way then waited for me to close my mouth and look back up at her face before smiling at me.

I sat down across the table from her, as close as I dared, "And what was that yesterday with the PC club and before when Haruhi first dragged you in here to molest you. Didn't that bother you at all?"

"Oh you poor little boy," Mikuru leaned over the table to play with my hair, "Don't worry about me. I'm the professional."

I sat there unmoving. I knew her claim to be only one year older than myself was a lie. It was a damn lie. But I suspected, like most women, that she would never admit to her true age.

"Yah-Hoo!" Haruhi burst through the door without knocking.

I glanced over at Mikuru, who had returned to her seat in an instant, and was once again that timid insecure girl.

Haruhi had brought some printed fliers and a bunny suit for Mikuru to wear.

I sat there and stared at Mikuru's artfully feeble struggles as Haruhi stripped her. Mikuru complained at every step and yet her motions never really got in Haruhi's way. How could she time things so well? Surely the two of them hadn't practiced this routine a thousand times before?

Then I saw Mikuru wink at me and I fled the room.

A few minutes later Haruhi opened the door. I saw that she and Mikuru were both dressed like Playboy bunnies. Mikuru was hunched over and trying to cover herself with her arms, while Haruhi presented herself, hand on hip. Yuki hadn't moved or changed at all of course.

Haruhi hopped off to distribute the fliers with Mikuru in tow behind her. As Mikuru was pulled along backwards I couldn't help but look down at her feet. Every step was made just in time to keep her own balance and to keep from unbalancing Haruhi, even as they went down the stairs.

The two girls didn't last long at the front gate of the school before being dragged off to the school office. I waited in the clubroom with Yuki for their return.

Mikuru was sobbing when they came back. I found myself wondering if this act was to make it impossible for the facility to keep them long, so as to spare Haruhi.

I barely made it out of the clubroom as Haruhi started to strip. Mikuru's sobs continued until after Haruhi walked away in her school uniform. A few minutes later Mikuru emerged in her own school uniform, glanced both ways to see that we were alone, and then she did that walk again. She didn't look back as she walked away. She didn't need to. She knew exactly were the gaze of any man, or for that matter, any boy older than twelve would be. With a talent like that she could have anything that men would gladly offer her, including their very souls. What was she doing here, pretending to be a high school student? What was Haruhi to her?

As I walked home I put my hands in my pockets and pulled out the folded bookmark. Back at my house I looked up the location online then snuck out after supper.

My sister had heard me pass her room and came out, "Where are you going Kyon?"

"I forgot something. I'll be back in a bit."

The address turned out to be an apartment building. At the intercom I punched in the room code and said "Hi, I'm here." The intercom clicked off and the door opened. I took the elevator up to the seventh floor and rang the doorbell for apartment 708.

Yuki opened the door and then backed away. I followed her in and noticed that she kept her distance. Yes, that was my fault. I had touched her today without permission. So why did she invite me to her apartment?

"Where is your family?" I asked as I removed my shoes.

"The mountains." She walked into the room.

"So you live here all alone?" I followed her, at a respectful distance.

"Yes." Yuki stood to the side in her living room.

Her living room had just a kotatsu and not even drapes for the patio doors. She motioned for me to sit at the kotatsu, then she went into an adjoining room and returned with a tea tray. I watched how she carefully stayed out of my reach as she poured a cup of tea for me. If she was so afraid that I would attack her at any moment then why invite me to visit her alone? I pondered the question as I drank the tea.

"Are you injured?" Yuki spoke down at the table.

"What?" I looked over to where she sat.

"From today." She moved her gaze up to my hands.

"What do you mean?" I shrugged.

"My apologies for today. It was inexcusable. There is little that I can offer you. My body would be inadvisable, but you may look at it if you wish," She stood and started to take off the jacket of her school uniform.

"Wait. What? Stop!" I held up my hands.

"My apologies again. My body is not as beguiling as those of my older sisters."

"What is this all about?"

Yuki looked down at the floor. "My master has a message for you. It is that his sister must not awaken, for her condition is delicate. I would advise you to not upset him. My master has a notable temper."

"By your master's sister, do you mean Mikuru?"

"No, the situation involves Haruhi Suzumiya."

"There's nothing delicate about her, or the inner Mikuru for that matter. And if there is anybody in this world who really needs to wake up and smell the coffee, it's Haruhi." I stood and walked over to her.

"My master has his reasons." Yuki backed up a step.

"Enough of that crap. Whoever this master is, just let me know the details. I can get you free from whatever it is, because you have rights as a human being." I reached out towards her and then stopped myself and let my arms drop to my sides.

Yuki glanced at my sudden motion in fright, then dropped her gaze back to the floor when she saw I wasn't getting any closer. "You cannot, for I am not. Please remember what I have said and keep it a secret. It would be best if you kept Mikuru Asahina's secret as well."

-HJC