[SHnY] The Score of Haruhi Suzumiya, chapter one. By Henry J. Cobb
[The Haruhi Suzumiya characters and situations are the creation of Nagaru Tanigawa. Other than that, he's blameless for the following.]
"Ah ha!" Haruhi Suzumiya threw open the door of the Literature Club room. "I thought you'd be in here."
I looked over the shoulder of the crazy girl, who had introduced herself to our class as wanting to live her life like the movies, and saw one person in the room. By her slight frame, I would have judged her to be a middle school student at most, but she wore the smallest North High School girl's uniform I had seen.
The smaller girl looked up from the book in her lap. She had very pale skin, short blueish gray hair and large glasses. She sat there for several seconds looking at us silently, but she seemed distracted, as if she was listening to something. Perhaps she wore one of those tiny radios that would be hidden in the ear?
Suzumiya, who had recently cut her own hair short, marched over to the corner where the girl sat and pointed at her. "Are you in the Literature Club?"
The girl nodded.
"Is there anybody else in this club?"
The girl shook her head.
"What is your special power?"
The girl's eyes darted to myself, then back to Suzumiya. She leaned back in her seat and lifted her book up to hide her face.
"That's enough, Suzumiya." I walked over to them. "Isn't it obvious that you're scaring her? Let's go before you leave her emotionally scared for life."
"No." Suzumiya turned to me. "This is the only clubroom available and there's only one person here. Obviously she must play an important role."
"What kind of logic is that?"
Suzumiya turned back to the smaller girl, placed a hand on the top of her book, and forced it down from her face. "Spit it out. We're not leaving until you tell us what is special about you."
"Suzumiya, that's enough."
"Close the door." The girl's voice quavered in a whisper.
"You heard her, Suzumiya. Let's go."
"Close the door, Kyon." Suzumiya stood with arms crossed, a smug smile on her face.
"Fine, if that will get this over with." I closed the door and then returned, to drag Suzumiya away by force if need be.
The girl put her book down in her lap again, then whispered, "I hear music."
"Ah ha! I thought so." Suzumiya clinched her fist in victory. "What kind of music?"
The girl looked down at her book. "It isn't songs, just instruments. It doesn't repeat." She looked back up at us with a faint blush on her face. "I know it sounds crazy, but it helps me. Last week I was about to step into the street while reading a book, and the music changed. I looked up and saw a truck pass by. I know you won't believe me."
"Of course I believe you. That is exactly the sort of superpower I want in my club. I'm Haruhi Suzumiya, action girl, and this is my boy hostage, Kyon."
The girl put her book aside, rose and bowed to us. "I'm Yuki Nagato. Hostage?"
Suzumiya ignored my glare. "You know, he gets kidnapped or threatened to call me into action. He's my Lois Lane."
"What?" I stood there shocked.
"Does, does that mean he's your boyfriend?"
Suzumiya tilted her head to the side and thought about it for a few seconds and then she turned to me with a smile as bright as a supernova, just before a star would collapse into a black hole. She put her arm through mine. "I suppose he must be, for the proper motivation and such. But Kyon, this is no excuse for you to slack off. We have to keep the tension up. Your job will be to complain and stumble into mysteries. Promise that you won't surrender to me, no matter how many times I'm proved right and rescue you."
"Rescue me from what?"
Suzumiya grinned and turned to Nagato. "What did your music sound like just then?"
"See? It's foreshadowing. Yuki, you must join our club."
"What is your club?"
"Yes." Suzumiya released me and rested her chin on her hand. "It needs to be a top secret organization, and we'll need a cover story to deal with the school authorities. Yuki, do you have application forms for the Literature Club?"
Suzumiya tagged alongside as I walked down the hill from school. Was she serious about my being her boyfriend? Didn't I get a vote about that?
"So, what is an action girl?"
"Let me show you, Kyon. Now watch me carefully." Suzumiya did four backflips down the hill, then ran back and stopped me in place with a half dozen kicks that stopped millimeters from my nose. She then stepped up, grabbed me by the arm, and pulled me into motion again. "So Kyon, think carefully about this."
"Think carefully about how you almost kicked me in the face?"
"No, that's not it. The real question is, what color are my panties?"
"What? What kind of question is that?"
"You didn't see them, did you?" She grinned.
"Uh." It was only Suzumiya's grip on my arm that kept me walking forwards. The memory of a few seconds back was etched in my brain. The sense of danger had been immediate. "Sorry, I didn't see them. My eyes were focused on your shoes."
"See, I've got a magic skirt."
"It looks like a standard North High school uniform to me."
"It doesn't matter what I wear. I'm never exposed."
I didn't know what to say to that so I walked in silence. I had known that all the sports clubs had begged her to join, and now I had seen why for myself. That had been an example of Olympic class athletic ability.
At the station she spoke up again as I was unlocking my bike.
"Give me a ride to your house."
"I want to meet your family."
"What, to announce our engagement?"
"Nope. We've got to keep that a secret. Now do you want me to sneak after you, or will you give me a ride?"
She rode in the same fashion that Sasaki had a few months previous, standing on the back of my bicycle with her hands on my shoulder.
My little sister seemed pleased that I had brought another girl by, but not half as much as my mother was. Suzumiya agreed when my mom asked her to stay for dinner.
At dinner my mom was full of questions which Suzumiya cheerfully answered. Suzumiya explained how we had both joined the Literature Club that day and even brought up her own top class standing in middle school, unbidden.
"I'm amazed that a girl like you would go to North High. Even with cram school, it was the only school that would take my son."
"What?" Suzumiya turned to me. "Is our schoolwork really all that hard, Kyon?"
"Yeah, yeah, I get by."
"I'll help him with his studies, Ma'am."
"Oh would you, dear?"
"No problem. We're in the same class after all. Kyon, what's your cellphone number?"
My mom told her as she entered it into her phone, then she made a test call right there, so I "would have her number handy".
After dinner I escorted Suzumiya to our door.
She grabbed me and leaned in close. For a moment I thought she might kiss me or something, but instead she whispered in my ear, "Thanks, Kyon. Now that I know what your family looks like, I'll be able to rescue them when they get kidnapped." She stepped back. "Well, goodnight. I'll see you in class tomorrow." She waved and walked away.
I didn't need Miss Nagato's so-called gift to have an ominous feeling myself. Suzumiya had said when, not if.
As I turned back inside I saw my mother standing there.
"She's such a nice girl. I fully approve."
That makes one of us, Mom. Unfortunately I didn't give voice to my doubts.
"Do you want to die, Kyon?"
I looked up from my bento at my fellow classmate. "Taniguchi, can't these death threats wait until after lunch?"
"It's not a threat, it's a warning about Suzumiya. At the start of each school year in middle school she'd find herself a boyfriend, and by Christmas he was gone. The first year boy just vanished one day, the second year boy fell off an overpass and under a truck, and the third year boy was found in the school quad the morning after Tanabata, with parts scattered around. After that, nobody would go near her. Sure, Suzumiya's got the looks, but is it really worth it to be victim number four?"
I had heard on the news about the brutal killing, but because the case had involved minors, no names had been given. "If Suzumiya is a murderer, then why hasn't she been arrested?"
"Oh she had a stone cold alibi each time, but the one and only thing the three boys had in common was her."
"Well you've got it all wrong. Suzumiya is not my girlfriend."
"For your sake, you'd better keep it that way." Taniguchi removed his hands from my desk and walked back to his.
Most of the class had seemed to ignore his outburst, but our class representative, Ryouko Asakura, had been watching it carefully. She turned away when our eyes met. I could see why Taniguchi rated her so highly. In looks, grades and athletic ability, she was second only to Suzumiya, but in sanity she far surpassed her of course. Another difference was that Asakura had kept her long hair. When she pulled that back into a ponytail for PE she had the definite advantage. If only she'd talk to me.
Taniguchi had waited until after Suzumiya had left for the cafeteria, and to "patrol the school", before making his scene. A pity, as I would have liked to see Suzumiya's legs again, as she was kicking his nose in. I had replayed her demonstration in my dreams last night, but with an erotic twist added to the danger. I had dreamed that I had caught one of her legs, and kissed my way down it, as she made approving noises. I had awakened just as I got to the hem of her skirt. Her madness did seem to be rubbing off on me.
After classes Suzumiya rushed off for parts unknown, so at least I didn't have her tagging along with me on the walk to the clubroom.
Miss Nagato was sitting in her corner chair by the window and looked up at me when I entered the clubroom.
"Hi, Miss Nagato. What's your inner music saying now?"
She blushed and hid her face behind her book. Strange girl.
The cover of her book had a title in western script. English, German, French or something like that. I turned to the two bookshelves and glanced at the spines of the books there. Perhaps a third of the titles were foreign and none of the Japanese books appealed to my tastes.
I sat down at the table and took out my homework, having nothing better to do at the moment. After five minutes staring at the same math problem, I was startled when the door flew open.
"Look who I brought!" Suzumiya dragged in a girl shorter than herself, but who had a fuller figure, and long brown hair. The new girl seemed to be too terrified to resist, as Suzumiya pushed her into the clubroom then closed the door behind them.
"Where did you kidnap her from?" I spoke up to try to lighten the mood.
"I found her in one of the sophomore classes."
"Why did you kidnap her?"
Suzumiya reached from behind to grab the other girl's chest. "She's so small and cute, but she has a bigger pair than I do! And they're real! Having her around is sure to attract the sorts of villains who swing the other way from you, Kyon."
The girl squealed loudly under Suzumiya's attentions.
The door flew open again. A girl with long dark green hair was standing there. "Unhand Mikuru at once!"
"Damn! I should have locked the door. Well, I found her, so she's mine."
"This is your final warning. I am the eldest daughter of the Tsuruya family, and heir to the Tsuruya crane style." Miss Tsuruya adopted a martial arts pose.
"I'm Haruhi Suzumiya, and I say bring it." Suzumiya pushed her captive behind her and turned to face Miss Tsuruya.
Tsuruya advanced, and in no more than ten seconds the two girls traded at least a dozen kicks and punches. I couldn't track it all, but it seemed as if every attack was blocked. I was amazed that neither girl seemed to bump into the wall or table, in spite of the narrow space they fought in.
Tsuruya took two steps backwards to the open door then bowed. "My compliments to your teacher, Miss Suzumiya. Please take good care of Mikuru."
"As you say." Tsuruya bowed again, but just slightly, and closed the door behind her. I didn't hear her footsteps, so she might have been waiting there just outside the door, but then again she didn't seem to make any noise at all when she moved. Tsuruya seemed to have a natural grace and quietness about her. If at that moment somebody had warned me that the Tsuruya family headed a ninja clan, I would have believed them, and it would have saved so much trouble later on.
Suzumiya rushed over to lock the door, then turned back to her prize. "Well, Mikuru, what's your full name?"
"Mikuru Asahina. What's this all about?"
"You heard Miss Tsuruya. You're mine now, so you're going to join our club."
"But I'm already a member of the Calligraphy Club."
"Then quit that."
Miss Asahina looked around the clubroom. Miss Nagato was still hiding behind her book and I just shrugged.
Suzumiya advanced to use her slight height advantage to stare down at Miss Asahina. "Look, I can tell that you have some sort of special power. Tell me about it."
"But there's nothing unusual about me." Miss Asahina started to shake under Suzumiya's insistent gaze.
My pity for the newcomer overcame my fear. "Forget it, Suzumiya. She's not going to play your game."
"Oh?" Suzumiya turned to Miss Asahina. "Mikuru, please tell us about your totally ordinary life."
"The Tsuruya family found me on their doorstep as an infant and raised me as their maid. That's it. There's nothing unusual about me at all."
"Fine, you're free to go for now." Suzumiya unlocked and opened the door. "But, Mikuru."
"Come here tomorrow after classes with your maid outfit. You can drop it off in this room when you arrive at school."
"I can't do that."
"Tell Miss Tsuruya that it's an order from me."
Miss Asahina nodded timidly at this, then rushed through the open door.
As she walked beside me down the hill from school, Suzumiya seemed especially pleased with herself.
I decided to risk popping her bubble. "So what happened last Tanabata?"
"You heard about that? I suppose one of the other students from my middle school must have tipped you off. A tragic case. I've resolved to never let it happen again."
"So won't I be the next dead boy hostage?"
"The difference, Kyon, is that I will not work alone again. I'm gathering a team of extraordinary students. This time when the enemy moves to take the bait, that is you, I'll have them."
"What? Okay, I'll admit that you've got great fighting moves, but Nagato and Asahina aren't a match for a small dog, combined."
"If I just wanted fighting strength alone, I would have recruited Tsuruya, not Mikuru. No, I need somebody to cover my blind spots. Being able to see everything about what I see just isn't enough."
"So why me? Why not some other boy?"
"When you gave me the idea for starting the club. I saw that you were going to be in it. I hadn't paid much attention to you before, because you're ordinary, but then when Nagato asked, I saw that we two were going to have a relationship."
"Are you saying that you can see the future?"
"No, I see tropes."
"Is that a kind of ghost?"
"No, it's a cinimatic convention. Like when two people get into a mixup at the start of the movie, and it's clear to everybody watching that they're going to be a couple at the end. It's not like I love you or anything now, but I can see where the trope is headed, so I'm along for the ride. I think it'll all work out, probably."
"Life isn't like the movies. And what do you mean, probably?"
"Well any trope can be subverted, and that's not the only trope I see in you."
"Oh? Then what are the other possibilities?"
"It seems just as likely that your death will inspire me to become an even better hero. Either way is fine."
Fine with you, Suzumiya, but not with me.
She insisted on riding home with me again, and when my sister asked if she had come to play, Suzumiya insisted that she had to help with my homework.
My mother seemed especially pleased as she brought tea and snacks to the living room. She even got Suzumiya to call her 'Mother'.
We finished our homework just after my father arrived, and this time she only said she'd see me in class the next day.
"Kyon, it's a pity that she couldn't stay for dinner. Please let her know that she's welcome any time."
On Friday afternoon I opened the door to the clubroom to the sound of Miss Asahina's shriek. She had just changed out of her school uniform and was standing there in bra and panties.
I jumped to the side, waited for Suzumiya to enter, then closed the door behind her.
I stood guard at the door until I was invited in.
"What do you think, Kyon?" Suzumiya pointed at Miss Asahina, who now wore a maid outfit.
"She works as a maid, as she said."
Suzumiya clapped her hands twice. "Mikuru, make us tea." She pointed at the tea set that hadn't been there yesterday.
"Yes, Ma'am." Miss Asahina bowed then set to work.
Suzumiya had her serve each of us tea, even Nagato who had been reading a book through all of this. Then she asked me. "Well Kyon, what do you think of the tea?"
"It's very nice. Obviously she's been practicing making tea for many years, as part of her job."
Suzumiya switched to a foreign language and engaged first Nagato and then Asahina in conversation. Nagato seemed to understand what was said, but had a harder time speaking herself, while Asahina seemed perfectly fluent.
Then Suzumiya switched back to Japanese. "So, Mikuru, where did you learn French?"
"I don't know French."
"Ah ha! I told you, Kyon."
"Told me what? And where did you learn French, Suzumiya?"
"From subtitles. Now, Mikuru, let's get your measurements." Suzumiya pulled a measuring tape out of her bag.
I made my exit. There had been a strange note in my shoe locker that morning and this seemed as good a time as any to follow it up.