A Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu fanfiction
By Brian Randall
Disclaimer: The light novel series started with the novel 'Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu'/'The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi' is the creation of Tanigawa Nagaru. No disrespect is intended with the creation of this work; I'm merely a peasant with an easel and some borrowed paints.
Notes: This is, unabashedly, something I am writing for me. I ... don't usually do this, so I'm not terribly happy with my own motivation, but part of me feels an intense need to write this anyway. I don't know that I can say much in defense of my motivation, but I hope it's enjoyable. :x
In your life, you may hope, or even to some degree expect, strange things to happen.
For the most part, it doesn't happen. Life is cruel that way, showing you that your hopes and dreams of the amazing can't actually happen- Or not directly showing, which may be crueler. It just leaves you to realize it on your own...
After the better part of half a year in high school, settling into the routine, realizing that my future would have fewer of the exotic and wonderful things I had hoped for... Well, becoming resigned to things, I didn't really expect to ever encounter something strange or unusual.
Something ... well, I'll come out and say it.
Paranormal. Maybe even supernatural.
Or, realistically ... utterly insane. I can't help but prefer the former options to the latter, personally.
It's hard to explain it from this abstract, confused beginning, so, I guess it would be best to start where it - for me - began. I won't be surprised if you can somehow sort this out faster than I could; anyone, I expect, would be better equipped to handle what happened to me than I myself was.
The day started as normally as any other day. That doesn't tell you much, so...
I was awoken by a brutal stab of cold, my protective insulation - both physical and emotional - suddenly stripped away. For the first, my younger sister had stolen my blankets, giggling like a fiend as she ran off, chirping, "Crazy-Kyon, crazy-Kyon - still gets up for scho~ol!"
For the latter, my last clear memory - other than the last day of school - was a dream of being in the school's club building. I can't remember how I got there, only that there seemed to be other people with me... Vague impressions of them, at least.
I was teetering on the edge of a cement stairwell when someone shoved me, and I tipped free. I had tried to scream, but something caused my throat to lock up, leaving me to fall... Instead of the sharp impact that I expected, I bounced painlessly to the ground, my body inexplicably robbed of sensation.
There was a horrific sound, but physically, I felt fine- Then everything finally went dark before I could wonder, and I had the strangest, vaguest sensation of simply laying in a bed for a long while, able to make out voices, but not wake.
I won't lie; such a dream made me feel spooked and uncomfortable. I couldn't fathom what it meant, or where it had come from. Perhaps I was catching the cold that seemed to be going around?
I tried not to think about it, but after I woke up and started my morning rituals... Brushing my teeth with my little sister, fine, normal. No problems there.
After going back to my room to retrieve my uniform for school, I find that my little sister has over-enthusiastically marked off days on my calendar too soon- Or is trying to prank me. I have to admit, looking at the calendar closely, she's done a lot of work on improving the steadiness of her hand; I really would think I had made those marks myself, if it weren't for the fact that the last day I remember clearly is seventy two hours ago, by that measure.
When I get downstairs, my mother gives me a curiously critical eye, asking, "Are you feeling better?"
"I'm fine," I reply, shrugging, then sitting down for breakfast. She gives me a doubtful stare, but nods reluctantly, like a judge allowing the accused to escape because of a lack of evidence. That's awfully intense... "Haven't I been?"
"You haven't seemed really yourself the last few days- And you certainly haven't been doing your homework!"
What? I just resolved to start picking up on that - getting a card from Sasaki to ask how my studies were going was a good reminder that I shouldn't ignore them totally. Then again, why would my mother settle for me only having a 'good' reminder, as opposed to a 'constant' one?
I pretty much just tune her out and focus on my breakfast; I've got some time to work on my study habits before winter break.
After walking to school, I find myself being given strange looks by Taniguchi. But he's been sick - though he doesn't look as bad, at the moment - so I'd been staying away from him a bit. I don't want to catch anything myself, and this provides me a good excuse to continue avoiding him.
What I cannot avoid, is the fact that I sit directly in front of the class representative.
Her normally cheerful expression is drawn, unamused as she stares at me coldly. No dismissive sniff followed by the cold-shoulder, though; if there's one thing you can depend on Asakura for, it's to tell you what she really thinks. Tolerant as she is, it's hard for me to imagine what could have upset her.
Despite all of that, when I lean back in my chair and say, "Good morning, Class Rep," she presses her lips together in a flat line- And says nothing.
I can't say I like it ... but what can I do?
I turn forward and rub my eyes at the date on the board. Unsure of what's going on, I turn back again and squint. Hey, now. My little sister couldn't be responsible for that, could she?
"Ah ... Class Rep ... is that day correct?" I ask, braving her irritated demeanor. "Shouldn't- Shouldn't today be the nineteenth?"
Her normally impassive, pretty face (I recognize that she's out of my league, but I'm not blind, here) is creased with a scowl. "So now, instead of 'I shouldn't be here,' you're pretending to have forgotten the last few days?" she asks me, sounding ... not quite furious, but absolutely, unquestionably upset.
I've never heard her use such a tone before, and judging by the sudden, awkward silence in the other students around us, neither have they.
Taking this prompt to draw close to me, still wearing his breathing mask to reduce the chances of contagion, Taniguchi remarks disapprovingly, "Really, Kyon ... how many girls are you going to upset before you stop these games?"
This ... from him? "What?" I manage, turning from Asakura to stare at him.
"Man-to-man, I do admire your persistence, and your creativity- But you're not getting any girls; you're going to get them to hate you if you keep doing things like this. Bad enough you were messing with Suzumiya, but it's going around that you made Asahina-sempai cry?"
Asahina-sempai? The idol of our school? "I wouldn't dream of making her cry!" I protest, shaking my head. "What the hell are you talking about!?"
"So, the rumors about you asking her to open up her blouse for you aren't true?" he asks skeptically. "Tsuruya-sempai made that all up?"
I don't even have the nerve to talk to her - to say nothing of a request like that! Only in my wildest dreams - or Taniguchi's, I suppose. "Of course not!" I snap. But, 'Tsuruya-sempai'?
It takes me a minute to place that name - Kunikida mentioned her a few times; I think he's infatuated with her. From what I recall, she's intelligent, and from an influential family. I think she's also friends with Asahina-sempai, but...
"When did it happen?" I ask in suspicion.
"Well ... I wasn't here, but according to Tsuruya-sempai, the day before yesterday," he mumbles, frowning.
"That's impossible - we don't have classes on Sunday," I return.
"Today is Friday," he counters, shaking his head, giving me an odd look.
Well, that- That would ... make sense, but it's rather hard to accept me inexplicably missing so many days.
"Why is everyone so adamant about today being the twenty second?" I can't help but ask, shaking my head. "If yesterday was the eighteenth, then today is the nineteenth, isn't it?"
"Today is the twenty second," someone else comments, breaking into our conversation. I look over at the weathered face of Okabe, giving me a calculating, considering look. "Kyon-kun, would I be right to guess you haven't completed any of the homework you've been assigned over the last three days at all? Bad enough you skipped class on one day..."
"I didn't do anything I haven't been assigned yet, no," I grumble. "And I didn't skip any classes, either!"
"As fantastic as it sounds, he seems to believe what he's saying," Asakura allows, somewhat doubtfully. "Shall I take him to the nurse's office?"
Okabe heaves a weary sign and gives us a nod-
What the hell is going on here?
Sounding equally put-upon, Asakura shrugs and gives me a stern no-nonsense look. "Come along now, Kyon-kun," she instructs, beckoning me to follow and leading me towards the door.
"I can't say I care for your technique - it's lower than I would stoop - but you do seem to be getting results of some sort," Taniguchi grudgingly allows, moving away to sit back down at his own seat as Okabe calls everyone else to attention, since the class rep is busy handling - evidently - a troublemaker like me.
I follow Asakura to the hall, not sure what else to do. Normally, I'd be delighted to be getting personal attention from the lovely class representative, but somehow, I just cannot at all enjoy it. "What's going on with this prank?" I complain, once we're in the hall.
"'Prank,'" Asakura grumbles, shooting me a brief, angry scowl. "Is that what you call breaking Nagato-san's heart? Let me tell you something, Kyon-kun - playboys are the worst, but after what you did..." She trails off, her blue eyes spearing into my own.
As upset as she is, I still don't know what she's talking about. "I assure you, whatever was done to upset you, I never intended it," I protest. Who's this 'Nagato' person, anyway? The name sounds a bit familiar, but... What's all this about breaking a heart? That's too crazy!
"You really have no memory of the last few days?" she asks. "Running around looking for someone named 'Suzumiya'? Telling me I 'shouldn't be here' and asking if I transfered to - of all places - Canada?"
"I've never heard of Suzumiya, except that Taniguchi mentioned that name this morning," I counter. The only way I could think of me telling Asakura she shouldn't be there would be to say that the lovely class rep deserved to sit next to someone more worthy of her than me- But there's no way such words would escape my mouth.
"So you say - now," she says in reply, her expression thoughtful, her gaze moving down the hall, away from me. "But a few days ago, you were saying equally mad things. If I take it that you're speaking the truth, and didn't do what you did out of cruelty, then you are either very clumsy ... or you are not well."
I can't help but stop dead in my tracks at such a blunt analysis. I wouldn't expect to hear something like that except from a girl I knew in middle school. Somehow, the feeling I'm getting from Asakura right now reminds me far too much of the last time we actually spoke. I can't find any words to say, but since it seems to be my word versus that of everyone else ... what can I really do but accept that?
I wish I could say it was a prank or something like that, but...
I come to attention realizing that Asakura is standing close - almost uncomfortably close, considering her coldness - staring into my eyes again. "Ah," I manage, flinching back, looking away. How does someone so pretty suddenly look so ... menacing?
"You seem earnest," she judges, sounding less than wholly convinced. "I'll accept that you were not well when this happened - but I'm still keeping a close eye on you. So, on to the nurse's."
"Y...yes, thank you," I allow, hanging my head. "I really ... don't know what's going on here..."
This is so strange! "D...did I ... really do terrible things over the last few days? And ... why wouldn't I remember it?" I can't help but ask.
The tiniest glimmer of sympathy crosses her face, and she sighs, stepping back a half-step and raising one hand to her cheek, shaking her head slowly. Her eyes drift closed, as though to shut out a forming headache. "Even if it wasn't you - to everyone else, you have a lot to apologize for."
I bite my tongue, keeping myself from protesting. Instead, I say, "Well ... I will apologize as sincerely as I can for something I can't remember doing. Certainly ... I wouldn't want anyone to tell you the things you say I said."
Her eyes open, her expression softening the merest bit. "Be prepared to apologize anyway," she warns me. "Because believe me - you will apologize to Nagato-san, if you expect me to forgive you."
I can't say I'm pleased about that, but if it gets me back on a good path with Asakura, I will gladly accept it. "Okay. Who is Nagato-san?" May as well be respectful, since this is someone I - evidently - owe an apology to.
"We're moving a bit fast," she says with a shake of her head, clicking her tongue. "Before anything else, we need to have you properly examined by the school nurse."
I nod acceptance, and she continues leading the way.
I don't really know what I expect the school nurse to say in response to the class rep dragging me to see her over some poorly explained memory issues - certainly, I don't expect her to really understand, anyway. Indeed, after hearing Asakura relay my story, the nurse gives me a very unimpressed look and pronounces:
For what it's worth, Asakura looks less than convinced, too - now the tired judge who nods as they participate in something they've been pressured into accepting. "Well, what should we do in the meantime?" she asks.
The nurse, who looks to me like a crabbier, weathered version of one of my mother's friends, sighs and says, "Rest, naturally. A few days from now, it'll be winter vacation, and you'll feel better after that, certainly."
"And in the meantime?" Asakura presses, not leaving me time to get a word in edgewise.
Not that I'm really sure what I'd say...
"Well," the nurse says, giving me a considering look, "you can rest here for now, if you like. Otherwise, you can go back home to rest, if you don't think you'll be up for classes."
"Hmm," Asakura muses. "Well, Kyon-kun?" she prompts.
"I don't really want to miss class," I lie, throwing away a golden opportunity to skip. My mother would give me enough grief.
"It's probably fine either way," the nurse says, with a shrug, frowning. "This close to the end of the semester, there's no reason to overdo it."
"Then, why not rest for homeroom?" Asakura suggests, shaking her head. "You can come back to class later."
I can't somehow like the fact that it feels like she just made that decision for me...
The nurse nods in satisfaction, and Asakura gives me a tight, forced smile before turning away.
Thinking about things ... I can't really complain about the chance to sit still without the mind-numbing distraction of lessons and try to figure out what's going on.
Without anything else to do, I lie down on the infirmary bed and tried to rest. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I couldn't help but wonder what was going on with me.
How does a person just lose three days like that? Was there any significance to the strange dream I had? Was it just stress?
The only thing I could be certain of was that laying down and resting was significantly more stressful than I would have liked. Hey, if I'm supposed to be relaxing, what's up with that? Instead of being relaxing, it's more time to just be afraid that something's actually wrong with me.
Is there a disease you can get that does this? If I was acting crazy ... did I have multiple personality disorder? I had thought the idea was interesting and read up on it once; I wasn't a licensed therapist, but I didn't recall matching most of the symptoms. For one thing, my complaints aside, my parents are far too protective and supportive.
Discarding that as a foolish thought, I tried to think of what else it might be. Amnesia? Well, that wasn't the only reason to experience memory loss, but that would only explain why I didn't remember - not the fact that I was acting in a way I didn't think was particularly reasonable. I'm generally happy not to draw undue attention to myself!
I couldn't come up with a theory that explained everything to my satisfaction.
I suppose I must have dozed off at some point. And at some point, the nurse also left.
I guess these things because I was shaken awake with a touch that made my sister's seem gentle.
"John," someone whispers urgently. "Wake up!"
"Wrong person," I mumble in response. Since when did we have a foreigner in our school, anyway?
"John!" this voice hisses. "Come on! You have to explain things to me!"
"I'm not 'John'," I return tiredly, not rousing yet. "I have a name, okay?" I'm fully awake, but keep my eyes shut in any case - no sense rewarding whoever is interfering with my much needed rest! "I'm-"
"Kyon?" the voice asks, filled with disappointment.
Heaving a sigh, I open my eyes and blink- An unexpectedly pretty girl with long dark hair done up in ribbons stands over the hospital bed looking down at me. She's dressed in a Kouyouen uniform, her hands on her hips. I have to say that she's pretty - she'd be quite lovely if she were smiling instead of staring at me like I was some unwanted form of bug!
"Do I know you?" I ask, blinking again, then sitting up when she steps back, crossing her arms over her chest and glowering.
Rubbing my eyes again, I see that there's someone else in the room with us - this other person is a boy, from the same school as her. "Why are there non-Kitago students here?" I ask dumbly.
Ignoring my questions entirely, the girl stands up straight. "Okay, 'Kyon' is a stupid name, but it's probably fitting. Did they take you through time? Take you into space? Oh! Did they probe you?" she demands, staring intently into my eyes, looking disturbingly excited by that last question.
"...maybe I am losing my mind," I say slowly, staring back at her. "So you two must be hallucinations?"
The swat to the top of my head from the girl really stings!
"What was that for?!"
The boy at her side - with perfectly groomed hair and a thoughtful expression - remarks, "Suzumiya-san, if this person is separate from John - that is to say, if this person is 'Kyon,' and not 'John', then they wouldn't retain the same memories."
"So?" she retorts, shooting him a flat stare.
"So ... he would not know our names, or what you are looking for," he clarifies.
"Oh, right," she sighs. "Right- I'm Suzumiya Haruhi, and this is Koizumi Itsuki," she explains. "And you're 'Kyon', the guy who the time traveling slider John Smith replaced for three days."
"Do you have me mixed up with the main character in a BBC science fiction show?" I blurt out. "What on Earth are you talking about? Is this some kind of prank? The same one from this morning?"
Suzumiya grits her teeth, glowering, her eyes threatening and dark. If I weren't so confused and irritated, I'd be cowed for certain!
"I ... don't think it's a prank," Koizumi says cautiously. "However, it occurs to me that 'John' may have been careless - or even ignorant of the effect his actions could have on you."
At my blank look, he chuckles humorously.
"I should start at the beginning," he corrects himself. "Now-"
"No time," Suzumiya snaps, shaking her head tersely. "Let's get to Nagato's clubroom first. We can explain everything there."
I find myself climbing to my feet despite my reluctance. Even so... "Clubroom?" I wonder. "And who's this 'Nagato'?" No one's explained that to me, but I do want an explanation, and I have to admit that I'm intrigued!
"She's going to be our official club representative, of course," Suzumiya answers, shrugging. "We applied for permission between our schools, and as long as she signs the forms, we will be allowed to attend a club here."
I still have an awful lot of questions, but let myself be led into following behind her, walking in step with Koizumi as she charges through the hallway. Incidentally, we end up passing Taniguchi on his way to the shoe locker. He actually yelps in alarm, and then stares at me with something akin to reverent horror.
What's that all about?
In short order, we're marching down the corridor past the second year classrooms, and Suzumiya skids to a halt before the school idol, the lovely Asahina-sempai!
"Ah!" Suzumiya says brightly. "Asahina-san!"
"Wah!" the upperclassman yelps, jumping into the air- A heartbeat after that, one of her classmates steps before her, meeting Suzumiya's energetic stare with a stern gaze of her own.
Ah! Tsuruya-sempai! Asahina-sempai's companion, a girl who almost always stands at her friend's side! Now ... what was it they were saying I had done here?
I freeze in place, feeling mortified- Wait! I was accused of trying to open Asahina-sempai's blouse? If everyone else remembers it this way...
I don't know for certain that sliders or time travelers exist, but if they do, they are the most inconsiderate jerks!
Koizumi and I are not quite the center of everyone's attention, thanks to the focus on the spectacle of Suzumiya and Tsuruya-sempai facing off, while Asahina-sempai cowers behind them.
"So, you're from the 'Student Council's Information Division'?" Tsuruya-sempai asks, taking up a mildly offensive stance, looking for all the world like a street-fighter preparing to brawl.
"Feh," Suzumiya retorts, grinning. "That cover isn't needed any further - now we have permission to be here!"
"But not to abduct Mikuru!" Tsuruya-sempai counters.
"It wasn't an abduction, it was a citizen's arrest," Suzumiya corrects her foe.
"Is ... she always like this?" I manage to awkwardly ask Koizumi.
Laughing nervously, he admits, "This ... is a recent development. She was much less lively before meeting you- That is, before meeting John!"
'Lively' is not the word I would use.
"In any case, I won't let it happen again," Tsuruya-sempai swears, her grin menacing. "I already warned that first-year off! If you lay a finger on this girl, now..."
Ouch! That wounds me, too!
"Not a problem," Suzumiya returned flippantly. "Asahina-san, you remember what happened yesterday?"
Shaken from her timid cowering, the older girl starts. "Um!" she exclaims. "Yes, I... I do, but I don't understand..." She looks anxiously at me, and then back to Suzumiya. "I thought ... maybe it was just stress?"
"I'm starting to wish that really was it," I mutter, feeling a headache forming. "What exactly happened yesterday?"
"Well, somehow," Suzumiya explains authoritatively, waggling a finger as she spins to face me, "when myself, Koizumi, John, Asahina-san, and Nagato-san were all in the clubroom, John was able to use the computer to go back to his own world."
"It seemed that way," Koizumi admits reluctantly. Around us, the crowd of staring students has only increased. I thought things were awkward this morning! "Um, but we lack sufficient evidence."
"That's not the point," Suzumiya declares, shaking her head. "The point is, I want to see if all of us return, if it happens again!"
"Doesn't that require this 'John' person?" I wonder.
"You'll have to do," Suzumiya counters. "Now, if Asahina-san joins us, we only need Nagato-san, and-"
"And she's not here," Asakura cuts into the conversation. A look to the side shows the irritated class representative standing at the edge of the (now very large) crowd, arms crossed over her chest. "I'm really not certain what game you're all playing, but after whatever it was that actually happened yesterday, Nagato-san stayed home today."
Suzumiya deflates, looking irate. "Oh," she says sourly. Brightening, she stands up and said, "Well - that's no problem! We just need to find her, and-"
"Apologize to Nagato-san?" Asakura interrupts coolly. "For whatever strange prank you're playing, and pulled poor Kyon-kun into, as well? That's what he agreed he'd be doing after class, after all."
...I'm not sure I like this any more than being held responsible.
"Of course," Suzumiya agrees without hesitation. "Well, fine, then! We'll find her and get her to come back here!"
"One thing at a time," Asakura admonishes, giving Suzumiya a flat stare.
"Even if I don't quite share her energy, I admit I'm curious about recent events as well," Koizumi volunteers. "If you would be willing to lead us to where we could meet her again, that would be fine by us."
"And Mikuru?" Tsuruya-sempai wonders, looking between Suzumiya and ... well ... me.
"I don't really know what happened, but I apologize without hesitation," I agree, bowing to Asahina-sempai. "I think it's been said well enough - but I don't remember anything that's happened over the last three days!"
"Fine, fine," Suzumiya answers. "I'm sorry it was so much of an emergency I made up that story."
"W...well, after yesterday, I'm a bit worried about Nagato-san as well," Asahina-san pipes up unexpectedly. "Um, Tsuruya-san, this should be fine; I'd like to see her again."
"Alright," Tsuruya-sempai sighs, hanging her head and shaking it. Glancing at Ryouko, she explains, "I know that girl from student council work, so I'm sure that as a class representative, she will be responsible. However..." Looking up and meeting Asahina-san's gaze, she warns, "...so much as one finger, and let me know, promise?"
"O...of course!" Asahina-san agrees. "Um, now ... your name is Kyon-kun? If ... it was something that will only happen once, it's fine, isn't it?"
Relieved that she has forgiven me, I rise, nodding.
"In the meantime, we've had enough spectacle at the school for one day," Asakura declares, leading the group of us to the shoe lockers.
On the long march from the school and down the hill - past Suzumiya and Koizumi's school, incidentally - I have some time to mull things over. It seems my reputation as nothing more than a normal student is probably irreparably damaged. Somehow, I long for that peace of this morning, when everyone merely acted as though some jerk from another dimension had taken my place for three days.
Now, however, the entire school had seen me at the periphery of Suzumiya's proclamation and madness.
The only good part about it was that Asakura seemed to blame the others more than me ... and that came at a small cost to my pride. It was a lot to take in! If it weren't for Suzumiya swatting me earlier, I might think I was still asleep!
"Something on your mind?" Koizumi wondered from my side. I glanced over to him, then up ahead, where Asahina-san was carefully keeping Asakura between herself and Suzumiya.
"Trying to puzzle out what happened," I explained with a shrug. "I mean, I think I heard the gist of it from you, but I'm not really ... 'getting' it."
"I'm working on a theory," he says slowly. "If Nagato-san is amiable, then I would be happy to sketch it out to the best of my ability."
Even though I'm not sure I care for this guy, I would be happy to know more about this situation. Though... "So, what's your relationship to Suzumiya?" I ask.
He winces, sighing. "You've divined where my mind is," he allows. "We are dating, though I'm not confident how much longer it will last."
That's a hell of a frank assessment! Why share that with me?
"Though it seems she regards you and John separately, I have to admit, the attention she showed him inspired some jealousy," the other boy says with a small shake of his head. "It is one thing to drift apart, but another entirely to see her light up so much from his words and presence."
"She's into ... aliens?" I wonder.
"Evidently," Koizumi agrees. "Though... While I have been watching you only for a short time, I observe a number of differences between you and John. I do not think you are the same person, certainly. It did seem to me that John had an awful lot of interest in Suzumiya-san, as well, which I don't see from you."
That is a shock. How different would this version of me be to have interest in her? What the hell kind of history would they share?
Before I can think of that further, we reach the apartment of this unknown person. It looks expensive! This is a pretty upscale place!
Asakura looks over her shoulder as she opens the door to the lobby and lets us in. For my part, I can only stumble through at Koizumi's side.
Marching across the surprisingly warm lobby, we quickly reach the elevator, where we have to crowd inside. I end up near Asakura, which isn't the most unpleasant thing in the world. Especially, the fact that she's not being quite so cold to me - that helps quite a bit!
"So, what is your connection to these students from Kouyouen?" Asakura asks curiously.
"They claim to understand what happened over the last few days - events which I don't remember," I offer, shrugging helplessly.
"Is that so?" she wonders doubtfully as the elevator stops, and she steps out. "Well, explanations or not, I expect you to apologize to Nagato-san!"
"He will," Suzumiya says confidently, grinning. "That's no problem at all!"
...I can make my own decisions in these matters, Suzumiya.
"Who is Nagato-san, exactly?" I ask. "I gather she's a club president...?"
"Nagato Yuki. You really don't remember? You came here and had dinner with us on Wednesday! And you were very cold to me, too..." Asakura peers into my eyes.
"Oho, really?" Suzumiya chuckles, raising her eyebrows. "Good for John!"
"I'm sure I'd remember if I had dinner with the class rep and another girl!"
Asakura nods, still looking thoughtful. In short order she leads us to an apartment door - we're on the top floor, it seems! - and presses an intercom button. It takes a few minutes, long enough for me to start to get cold in the winter chill, before a girl's very soft voice whispers back across the connection.
"H...hello?" someone tremulously asks.
"Nagato-san," Asakura answers brightly, "there's someone here to see you!"
"I'm not ... feeling well," the unseen speaker hesitantly replies.
"Nagato-san, would you please let us in?" Asakura begs. "I think this might cheer you up!"
"M...maybe tomorrow," Nagato mumbles back.
Shaking her head, Suzumiya steps up to the door intercom grill, ignoring Asakura's worried stare. "Nagato-san!" the Kouyouen student barks. "We have recovered the real 'Kyon'; he's returned to our universe and come to visit you!"
Oh, boy... It's starting to really scare me just how plausible that whole thing is starting to sound!
"Ah!" the unseen Nagato yelps. Much faster than I would have anticipated, the door's bolt is thrown, and it cracks open. Inside, the pale, somewhat timid face of a small girl with light, short hair and a pair of shining glasses lenses is peeking out.
She looks like she's been unwell lately; her eyes are a bit reddened, and she's wearing only a heavy winter robe over what look like her pajamas. She stares out, for some reason at me, and asks, "R...really?"
Sighing, Asakura shakes her head a small distance and says, "Well - these people have come to apologize to you for their misbehavior! I suppose on my part it's a bit demanding, but I'd very much like to have an explanation for things lately, as well!"
"It's fairly straightforward," Suzumiya remarks. "But let's go inside and discuss it over tea, not stand out around here!"
"Y...yes, alright," Nagato agrees, her face turning slightly pink for some reason as she looks away from me.
"Asahina-san, you know how to make tea, don't you?" Suzumiya asks offhandedly.
"Eh?" the upperclassman starts. "N-not unless it's instant!"
"Bah," Suzumiya grouses, her expression falling. "Alright - whatever. I'll make it, then!" she declares, pushing through the doorway.
Asakura scowls, following her. "You don't know where things are," the class representative scolds Suzumiya - who seems indifferent. "I'd better do it."
The pair of them storm past Nagato like a pair of older sisters, determined to take care of their younger sibling. For my part, even invited inside, I scratch the back of my neck nervously.
Surprisingly enough, it's Asahina-san who speaks first, ignoring the murmur of Asakura and Suzumiya bickering. "Are ... you feeling better, Nagato-san?" she asks gently, leaning forward and smiling cautiously.
Ah, Asahina-san's a gentle soul; willing to brave ... who knows what sorts of horrors and scary things to check up on a classmate. I suppose that I have to grudgingly put Suzumiya and Asakura in that category as well. They're both looking out for this girl too, right?
"Y...yes," Nagato whispers shyly, face darkening even further. "Um, c...come inside..."
The trio of us enter and add our shoes to the row that Asakura and Suzumiya started, still grumbling at one-another in the kitchen.
Nagato glances at them, and after she closes the door leads us to the kotatsu where it seems she was camped out.
Something about this girl is seeming more and more familiar to me, but I can't quite place it...
Hurriedly pushing the pillow she was clearly sleeping on to one side, Nagato goes to a cabinet for some cushions while I look around. Her apartment is full of bookshelves and well cared for but old furniture. Shortly, she's arranged cushions around the table and says with a shy stutter, "S...sit down..."
"Alright," I say agreeably. The apartment is fairly warm, compared to the outside wind, but a kotatsu is quite pleasant, so I take a seat. Asahina-san takes a seat almost opposite me, and Nagato sits between us. This seems fine to me, right up until Koizumi takes the seat at my other side.
"Thank you for inviting us in," he says brightly. "Nagato-san, could I ask you for a pen and a piece of paper?"
"Um... Okay," she says, rising from her seat and padding over to another cabinet, shooting occasional glances back at the pair of us. Asahina-san watches her thoughtfully, and she returns just as Asakura and Suzumiya come back from the kitchen.
Asakura smiles politely, but if I read things, any ire she had at me has shifted entirely onto Suzumiya. For her part, the girl in the Kouyouen uniform carries the kettle, and Asakura places the cups on the table.
In short order, Asakura takes the seat next to Asahina-san, and Koizumi sits next to Suzumiya. That leaves me and the class rep as the lucky pair who don't have to share a side of the table.
"Well, then," Asakura prompts, as Suzumiya nods in satisfaction. "I believe you have something to say to Nagato-san?"
"Um, I should apologize," I say belatedly, "however, to be completely honest, I don't have a very strong grasp of the last few days, and evidently ... things happened that I assure you all I would never do."
Asakura gives a doubtful nod at that.
"I may be able to add something to this," Koizumi supplies. "Ah ... there's a bit at the end that it would be easiest to start with, and then I can begin properly, I believe. Does that sound acceptable?"
"Any explanation would be better than no explanation," I sigh.
"First of all, yesterday, the four of us, since we can't really count Kyon, witnessed a paranormal event!" Suzumiya announces triumphantly.
"Is that so?" Asakura asks skeptically.
"I ... think so," Asahina-san says timidly, nodding her agreement and looking to Nagato.
"Y...yes," she agrees shyly, staring into her teacup.
"Precisely the case," Koizumi says smoothly. "That event specifically was that, once certain factors were aligned, we all witnessed John - a person who appears identical to Kyon, but exhibits different behaviors and also seems to have different memories - vanish into thin air."
Asakura and I ask simultaneously, "Thin air?"
"T...the lights flashed," Asahina-san volunteers quietly, "and then the power turned off, and..."
"...and he wasn't there anymore," Nagato finishes glumly, looking at me uncertainly.
"This ... sounds hard to believe," I sigh. "But everyone insists that I somehow lost three days of time. I don't know what else to think."
"Hmm," Asakura muses doubtfully. "And how did Kyon-kun come to be replaced by this other version of him? This 'John' person?"
"Thankfully I spent a small bit of time in discussion with him; he explained much of his circumstances to me," Koizumi offers, smiling thoughtfully. "Now, in John's world, he knew all of us, but we all held different roles."
"Is that so?" Asakura asks thoughtfully.
"Let me start at the beginning," the other boy says confidently, warming to his subject. "Now, as I understand it...
I can't possibly reiterate everything that Koizumi went through. It was rather a lot; I was astounded, and a bit appalled, that he could recall as much as he seemed to. Suzumiya chimed in bits here and there, but also looked surprised at some of the things Koizumi said. For all I knew, he was just giving us a summary of a light novel he enjoyed, or even making it up on the spot. The paper he had taken from Nagato ended up well used to make a number of diagrams that helped demonstrate his points, especially with 'parallel time-lines'.
All it would really require was Suzumiya playing along with him for whatever reason.
Still... Despite all that, certain parts rang true. Koizumi mentioned something about John taking Nagato to a library. I did remember, then - it was while at a library that I met that shy, quiet, Nagato Yuki! It took me a bit, but when he mentioned that I looked over, and our eyes met.
She blushed and looked away, but I couldn't stop staring. This girl would remember something so insignificant?
Finally, after a series of nonsensical adventures, which appeared to revolve around Suzumiya's alternate-reality self having the power to recreate the world, Koizumi got to the point of John appearing in our world. And replacing me.
Between the people I was in the room with, they were able to put together a remarkably consistent explanation of what 'I' supposedly had done. Easier to think it was that jerk from another world!
Even Nagato haltingly chimed in, agreeing that 'John' had asked her if - and even hoped - she was an alien. Suzumiya just nods knowingly, but I don't need Asakura's unhappy stare to remind me about that! How would that quiet girl feel if someone came into her clubroom, where she was usually alone, and then demanded that she be something absurd and amazing?
That wasn't fair at all!
If 'John' was real, he was scum lower than Taniguchi!
Still ... when Suzumiya took over the story, finishing up with some whole 'assembling the SOS Brigade' bit, even she stopped smiling when she explained 'John' rejecting Nagato's request that he join her club. After that, I wanted to punch the guy!
But after that, as they said, 'John' vanished into nothing. As if he'd never been there ... except for the people who saw him vanish.
"This is a bit to take in," I said, once Suzumiya trailed off.
"Even you find it hard to believe," Asakura sighs, shaking her head. "This is rather amazing... Supposing that this is the case, that Kyon-kun and I believe this, then what happens next?"
"Simple!" Suzumiya declares. "Koizumi and I have permission from Kouyouen to attend Nagato-san's club - as long as she agrees." Nagato looks confused by that part, which is about how I feel. "Then we get Kyon and Asahina-san to join, and the SOS Brigade is reformed!"
"O...okay," Nagato says quickly. She seems very keen on this after that second part comes up, for some reason.
"But- I'm already in the calligraphy club!" Asahina-sempai protests, shaking her head. "It's true I wanted to understand what happened yesterday, and I was worried about..." She shakes her head again and gives Nagato a warm smile. "That was quite a scare we had yesterday! I'm glad to see you're healthy!"
"You have to join us, though!" Suzumiya demands, scowling. "We have to-"
"Why is that, Suzumiya-san?" Asakura interrupts, before she can get into a proper tirade.
"Eh- Well, we got one supernatural event when all of us were in one place, so I want to do it again!" she explains simply.
"Except, I'm me and not 'John'," I counter. "So we'd be missing one person anyway."
"You're going to be close enough!" Suzumiya insists excitedly.
"Let's say for the sake of discussion that's all true," Koizumi says softly, looking thoughtful. "And that for the sake of an experiment, Asahina-san joins us one time, as well. It would only take a minute or two, after all."
"Alright," Asakura and Suzumiya agree, before glancing at one-another warily.
"Then what?" he asks, spreading his shoulders in a shrug.
Suzumiya blinks, then says, "Well, then Kyon and John switch places!"
"I don't want to go to his crazy world," I counter. "And the last time he was here, he embarrassed me, and did shameful things that people now think I'm responsible for!" Even the thought that evidently in that other world I could ask Asahina-san to open her blouse for me doesn't motivate me to try this!
"Well..." Suzumiya trails off. "From his view, he was thrown out of his world just like you probably feel," she counters. "You've only lost three days - for him, it was a struggle to get home!"
...I hadn't thought of that before. Even so... "So he just takes gambles and makes leaps of faith, hoping each time that the next leap will be the leap home?" I ask a bit doubtfully. Though, even as I say that, I guess from his own point of view, his actions would be reasonable. He did just want to go home...
"Right!" she says enthusiastically.
"And ... you want to drag him back here and throw me into his universe?"
He probably wouldn't want to be in my world any more than I would want to be in his. And might I do similar things in his place? Koizumi raises a hand to conceal his smirk at this argument, but I think he's on my side, here.
Suzumiya just gives me a scowl. "Alright," she relents. "So no swapping places - but what about getting everyone together and just seeing if the computer behaves strangely again? I mean, if there's something there, I want to check that out!"
"As long as I can trust you to not try and send me away," I say flatly.
"In the meantime, you're transferring to Nagato's club for the sake of one experiment, and then you'll abandon it?" Asakura asks doubtfully.
Suzumiya snorts at that, rolling her eyes. "As if!" she retorts. "No - this is the group that witnessed something strange with me! And Kyon here is a genuine survivor of alien inter-dimensional kidnapping! I'm deadly serious about staying with the club! I want it to be a new 'SOS Brigade', just like the stupid me from that other world!"
"I am not letting you step on Nagato's club," the class representative warns Suzumiya.
"I- I don't want to be part of that either," Asahina-sempai agrees anxiously. "I'd like to be friends with Nagato-san, but not that!"
"Then we can simply be a club drawn together by a supernatural event," Koizumi proposes. "And we can use the literature club as a cover to reasonably and safely research the supernatural, going forward."
Suzumiya turns to snap at him, but freezes, thinking about something before she speaks.
"Perhaps," Asakura says doubtfully.
"T...that seems okay by me," Asahina-sempai allows.
"I- It's okay!" Nagato says, when all attention goes to her. "Um..."
Wait a minute. Did I just get dragooned into joining this club? "I didn't agree to join," I say, frowning.
"I- I still have-" Nagato starts before trailing off, fumbling through her pockets. To my amazement, she pulls out a crumpled and worn form from her pocket. "It... I think I always meant to give it to you, and not him," she manages, not able to meet my eyes. "Um, but..."
I can thank Asakura's angry comments from earlier for making it clear to me. The words 'playboy' and 'broken heart' resurface enough to really hammer it home.
...oh, hell. To see the way her eyes fill with hope, holding up the paper in a shaking hand... The way her breath quickens... Those are strong hints.
Asakura kicking me from beneath the table just reinforces the message, but I get it. I get it, alright? Maybe one good thing came out of that jerk coming to this dimension. While I'm not really sure I'm wild about searching for the supernatural, I think I have found one worthwhile thing. Something I would have missed if it weren't for all this madness.
Taking the crumpled form, remembering Nagato's reddened eyes, and Asahina-sempai worrying about this girl after 'John' handed the forms back...
"I have to join, don't I?" I ask, before Asakura can kick me again. Smiling, I add, "I have to apologize for that guy who took this form from you the first time ... but maybe don't hold it against him too much. I think he must have known it was for me instead of him, right?"
Nagato gasps in muted delight, eyes shining. Suzumiya whoops, thrusting a fist into the air. "Alright! That's it- Asahina-san agreed she'd switch to this club too, right?"
"Ah!" the upperclassman gasps, startled from the happy smile she was wearing a heartbeat ago. "I- I did?"
Sighing, Asakura shakes her head. "Alright," she allows wearily. "But if any of you make Nagato-san unhappy..."
She doesn't need to say anything else. Still, if one good thing can come out of this...
"Thank you," Nagato says quietly.
Glasses aren't really my thing. At least, usually. But somehow, here... She really is cute, isn't she? Well, I guess I can't hate John too much. Maybe this will really work out okay after all.
Author's Notes: I've been playing with the idea for this fic for a bit over a year. Finally got around to writing it to try and banish some personal demons. The 'transfer to another club' angle is kind of weak, but it was used in the Nagato Yuki-chan spin-off manga, so why not?