memento mori

a suzumiya haruhi no yuuutsu fanfic

by brian randall

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: ignores one particular scene in novel 11, and may contain spoilers up to that point. this is a less than happy story, though it will strive to be as uplifting as it can, considering what it's about. hopefully the ending is positive, but it's generally a very sad story, and some of your favorite characters may have to suffer ... because that's the nature of life, isn't it? so make the most of what you've got. what else can you really do?

It would have been more fitting in some senses if the day in question had started out in some way different from the days that had gone before. If there were ominous clouds, dark music, or other cues to warn of what was to come. There probably were some clues, but that's the power of hindsight for you, isn't it? I saw nothing at the time that gave me adequate warning.

The most pressing issue was nothing but the unwelcome heat of a late spring day as the season turned toward summer. We had the benefit of our summer uniforms, at least, so it wasn't as sweltering as it could have been, but the daily trudge up the hill was guaranteed to raise an unwelcome sweat before reaching the top, regardless of how quickly or slowly one made it.

Even in my favorite season, the heat made me feel lethargic, so I plodded up more slowly than most of my classmates. By the time I reached the shoe locker, all I could really think was how unfortunate it was that our school still lacked air conditioning. The person responsible for such an initiative would receive my vote for Student Council President!

I could easily think of one person who could probably accomplish such a thing, but unfortunately for me, she'd be just as likely to shrug off the effects of the heat without even noticing them.

Sure enough, by the time I finished the long journey to our classroom - among the last to arrive - she was sitting at her desk, eyes flashing as they usually did when she spotted me.

I mentioned that anyone would work up a sweat working their way up the hill? Well, not everyone, evidently! How unfair life sometimes seemed.

Haruhi, why couldn't you give me some of your amazing heat-resistance?

"It's not that bad," she chided me, turning to stare out the window. "All you really need to do is move quickly enough that the breeze cools you as you run. Summer's much worse than this."

"What about warming up from exercise?" I wondered.

She shrugged, seemingly indifferent. "I didn't say to push yourself that hard," she clarified.

In itself, that was sort of a marvel, too...

At that point, I had arrived late enough that the teacher stepped into the room next, cutting off further discussion. Would anyone have taken the impression from such a start that it was to be their last day of school? I certainly hadn't. What was to happen was as much an unexpected strike as the Chicxulub asteroid must have been for the dinosaurs of that distant era!

The rest of the day had passed with the mild and uninteresting sameness as any other day. There were tests coming up soon, which was unfortunate. A more pleasant thought was the summer vacation that was to follow.

Who wouldn't have looked forward to that welcome reprieve from the schedule we had labored under so far, without any significant break beyond Golden Week?

When class ended, Haruhi immediately wheeled on me like an unleashed tiger, and set into another lecture on our schoolwork. Specifically on history. Presumably she had a suspicion that we had an upcoming test for it, but she spent ten minutes drilling the information into me.

Normally, the sense of that word is like a military drill - but with her, it was more like the hand-held kind, boring through even my thick skull and depositing the information there. Haruhi would without a doubt be an effective tutor, but I couldn't help but sigh at the way the students on cleaning duty merely shrugged and rolled their eyes as they worked around us.

Once she was satisfied that I understood which sections to study, we left for the clubroom together. Part of me wondered - Haruhi insisted that this unasked aid was to ensure that I did not fail my classes and jeopardize my role in the club. Was it really that?

Or was it to prevent me any chance of walking in on Asahina-san changing?

I didn't dare ask her!

Thanks to the delay for studying, by the time we reached the clubroom, it was a moot point. Asahina-san was already looking as lovely and angelic as always, wearing the uniform that I had come to associate with her. I knew I would some day come to miss that outfit very much, but for that moment, I was glad to enjoy her radiant visage.

"Ah!" she said, smiling at the pair of us. "Suzumiya-san, Kyon-kun - tea?"

"Of course!" Haruhi said with a firm nod, marching to the computer as I took my usual seat opposite Koizumi.

In preparation for the club session, he had already set up a chessboard. Well, there were worse ways to spend the day, weren't there?

But no sooner had I thought that and taken my seat then Haruhi shook her head firmly. "That's enough of that," she declared, looking around the club room before she had even switched the computer on. "Hmm, I like the fact that we've made this place our own- We've certainly made our mark! But we mustn't let it get too cluttered."

Koizumi raised his eyebrows, while I paused to survey the wealth of furniture that had been assembled as time went on.

Come to think of it, I could remember a time when the room was entirely bare, except for the table, chairs, and empty shelves.

As Haruhi said, the room was completely filled with markers of the memories we had established. Not just things that Haruhi had brought in herself - like the small refrigerator and the tea set - but things that we together have brought in. The pile of laptops, the games Koizumi and I played, Nagato's books, the poster that we'd made for that movie...

"So, a late spring cleaning?" I asked, sighing. So much for a relaxing day!

"Exactly right," Haruhi confirmed, nodding. "Some of those games you don't play anymore, right?"

Well, that much was certainly true. "But didn't we already do this?" I wondered.

"Even so, we have too much clutter," Haruhi insisted, waggling a fingertip. "And Yuki doesn't need all of those books, do you, Yuki?"

Nagato looked up at that, but quickly returned her attention to her book. Haruhi did have a point. There was a small stack of both game boxes and books that had overflowed the space available and onto the floor.

"What is your plan, then?" Koizumi wondered, smiling broadly.

"We'll box up all the books that Yuki doesn't want to keep, and the games no one plays," Haruhi explained authoritatively. "Then we can donate them, instead of just letting them go to waste!"

Donate them? To who? It was nice to see her being thoughtful like that, but was there a real plan?

"If we can't think of any cause worthwhile, we'll just box them up and save them to give away on Christmas," she finished.

Spring cleaning leads to Christmas? Only you, Haruhi...

"Anyway," she added with a scowl, as though able to sense my thoughts, "that's a secondary concern, Kyon. The important thing is that this room is our headquarters! Our home! We can't afford to let it get cluttered, can we?"

"Alright," I sighed. Cleaning the clubroom wasn't the worst possible fate.

Clapping her hands together, she declared, "Then get to it! Yuki, you too - I'll get a box and be right back!"

With that, she cheerfully stormed out the door at high speed.

Koizumi shrugged with his normal easy-going smile and turned to study the amassed games. "We have collected rather a lot, haven't we?" he mused.

Yuki quietly closed her book and rose from her seat. After placing the book carefully on her chair she turned to her selection of titles adjoining the game library.

I had an impression that she wouldn't enjoy going through and choosing which to discard any more than I would!

"But ... what should I do?" Asahina-san wondered quietly, setting the tea she had offered us earlier on the table. That poor upperclassman looked mildly forlorn at the cup that Haruhi hadn't even stuck around to accept.

"Maybe you should just relax?" I suggested, shrugging. "You've worked hard enough for us in the past already, so why not take a break?"

"So, we may as well get to work, then," Koizumi added, pulling a game I could distantly remember playing only one time against him from the shelf.

While I'd rather have relaxed like I just told Asahina-san she should, the only excuse I thought Haruhi would allow was ignoring that chore to study for the upcoming history test. Sighing, I climbed to my feet tiredly and bent to the task at hand.

Under Haruhi's direction, we managed to cull both books and games. Asahina-san was given a well deserved break - but being too nervous to just sit and watch us work, Haruhi produced a feather duster and had her clean the shelves underneath the game boxes and books.

Asahina-san dusting the shelves with her cute earnest expression of concentration made the effort worth it, incidentally!

Once we were done, Haruhi eyed the single stuffed box and nodded in satisfaction. "Okay!" she declared. "Everyone else is dismissed! Kyon, you'll carry these for me."

"How did this suddenly happen?" I wondered.

"You have to contribute, too," she chastised me, as though I hadn't helped pull boxes from the collection already. "Good job, everyone - Kyon, grab that box and let's go!"

I sighed, shaking my head, but rose and lifted the box. For a single moment as I lifted it, my vision darkened and I felt unsteady.

I caught my balance and righted myself quickly enough, dismissing it as a side-effect of being stationary too long. Perhaps Haruhi had a point about being me being too sedentary?

I didn't give it any more thought, just plodding after Haruhi and grimacing at the way my collar stuck to my neck. Carrying such a burden in this heat was unpleasant enough...

Observing my toils, Haruhi merely clicked her tongue, holding the door for me. "I should make you run laps," she remarked, frowning. "As it is, I wonder if you'd even pass the Brigade physical fitness test!"

If it involved competing against Haruhi, no human would!

"You were allowed to skip it, but if we are to add new members, it will be required," she said authoritatively, falling into step at my side.

And a scholastic requirement, as well, I was sure.

"Of course! The best and the brightest, and the most fit as well," Haruhi expanded, nodding. "Everyone has to have some special strength to make them worthwhile members!"

Some, or all of them? Did Haruhi really think everyone could start with full stats in everything?

Anyway, if everyone had only 'some' special strength, then what was mine?

I knew better than to ask, so just nodded, setting down the box to put on my shoes. It wasn't as heavy as some loads I had carried, but I wasn't looking forward to hauling it around for an extended period. I loosened my tie in anticipation of sweating even further while changing shoes.

When I lifted the box again, I hear a distant roar in my ears as my vision inexplicably dimmed - my balance veered, and I stumbled, managing to catch myself, but stepping onto the wooden walkway in my outdoor shoes in the process. After blinking, my vision returned to normal and the rushing sound faded.

Haruhi gave me a strange look for a moment, still bent over from where she was tugging her second shoe into place, and I tried to shrug as well as I could while carrying the box. Pursing her lips, she gave a small shake of her head and finished, holding the next door and watching me closely.

"Anyway," she continued, looking up into the afternoon sky, "let's take care of this errand. If you do a good job, you will be rewarded!"

"I'm not sure I've seen that to be true so far," I sighed, rolling my eyes.

"That's because you don't put in enough effort," Haruhi reprimanded me, lowering her gaze to fix me with a stern scowl. "Now let's hurry!"

"Where are we even going?" I asked, hitching the box in my arms slightly higher when it started to slip as we passed through the gate.

"The shopping center by Kouyouen Station has a donation center," she explained patiently. "Whatever they don't accept you will take home and store until later."

"So I'm to provide storage for this stuff?" The burden in my arms had become even more so!

"Naturally!" came the immediate, completely unhesitant response.

I sighed again, trudging after Haruhi as the sun beat the sweat from my suffering form.

The heat and Haruhi's lecture on why it was my responsibility seemed to put me into a mindless daze, mumbling vague confirmations at the appropriate points in her lecture as we plodded down the hill.

I lost awareness of our surroundings, just focusing on following her and wondering when I could escape the heat. If I were to be rewarded somehow, I'd have settled for a cool drink in an air conditioned cafe! If that was too much, perhaps merely something in the shade?

"Kyon!" Haruhi called. "Kyon!"

For some reason, as she cried out, the world around me was tilting crazily; game tokens and instruction booklets were flying across my field of vision, and through them the world was rotating steadily. My senses told me that gravity itself had shifted, somehow oriented at some point on the horizon as that earlier rushing roar returned, drowning out Haruhi's voice. The pavement of the sidewalk began to vanish behind a dark curtain that consumed my vision even as it rushed up to greet me.

My awareness was entirely gone before I hit the ground.