Suzumiya Haruhi:Volume6 Charmed at First Sight LOVER

From Baka-Tsuki

Jump to: navigation, search

Charmed at First Sight LOVER

It all began with an annoying phone call.

It's always like this every year. Once Christmas is over, all the festive feeling simply vanishes without a trace. As we count down towards the end of the year, when Haruhi would begin the activities that she'd come up with, I had a brief period of winter vacation in which I could get some breathing space.

At that time, I was busy with the end-of-year spring cleaning chores, while wrestling with Shamisen in my room,

"Hold still. Be a good boy, it'll be over soon,"


I ignored his protests and lifted up the twisting furball, with new fur grown for winter, holding him under my armpit.

Memories of the time Shamisen reduced my cherished jean jacket to a piece of worthless cloth serve as a painful reminder to regularly cut his claws. Shamisen also seems to have a good memory as well for a cat, as every time he sees me walking towards him with a nail cutter, he would always attempt to escape at the fastest speed possible.

It was a nightmare trying to catch him, as I had to hold down a cat that would claw, kick and bite endlessly, while I tried to straighten his paws in order to cut his claws to a reasonable length, one by one. My hands would always be covered in claw marks once it was over, but while physical wounds can always be healed, the embroidery on my jean jacket can never be mended, so I dare not relax for a moment. How I miss the days when he could eerily speak and understand the human language. What happened to the straight-talking you?

Forget it, if he starts speaking again, it means something big has happened again. A cat ought to behave like one and just make meowing noises.

As I was done trimming the claws on Shamisen's right front paw and was working towards his left front paw...

"Kyon-kun! You've got a phone call!"

Barging into my room without knocking was my sister, carrying the cordless phone in her hand. When she saw Shamisen struggling in a battle of dignity and authority between cat and human, she smiled,

"Ah, Shami, do you need help cutting your claws? Let me help!"

Shamisen turned his gaze away from her, as though she were a busybody, and snorted like a human. I once asked my sister to help me cut his nails. At that time we split our tasks; I was in charge of holding his paws while my sister was in charge of the cutting. Unfortunately this eleven-year-old fifth grader didn't know when she was going too far, so she didn't have the talents for cutting nails either. In the end she cut far too deep into Shamisen's nails and he went on a hunger strike for a week in protest. Compared to her, my cutting skills were obviously better, but as always he would still run and claw everywhere. Are the brains of a cat as big as their foreheads?

"Who is it?"

I put down the nail cutter and picked up the phone receiver. Seeing a chance to escape, Shamisen quickly jerked loose and kicked off my knee before finally running out of the room.

My sister happily picked up the nail cutter and said,

"Um... it's a guy. I don't know him, but he says he's your friend!"

She then ran off to chase after Shamisen and disappeared into the corridor outside. I stared at the phone and thought,

Who could it be? If it's a guy, then it couldn't be Haruhi or Asahina-san. If it was Koizumi, then my sister would've recognized him as well. Taniguchi, Kunikida and my other friends would always call me on my cell phone, not my home phone. If it's some boring telephone poll or salesperson, they can go to hell... I thought as I pushed the talk button.


"Hi, is that Kyon? It's me, it's been a while."

As the rough voice said the first sentence, wrinkles appeared on my forehead.

Who the hell's this guy? I never heard this voice before.

"It's me! We were in the same class in junior high, remember? Do you know how much I've sighed during the past six months as I was thinking of you?"

What the!? That's gross!

"Identify yourself. Who are you?"

"It's Nakagawa. We were still classmates a year ago, have you forgotten after just a year? Or have you made new friends in high school and now you've forgotten all your classmates from junior high? How cold-hearted!"

The voice in the phone sounded very sad, yet...

"Of course not,"

I opened my memory banks and retraced my memories in my third year of junior high. Nakagawa, huh... I think I remember there was such a person in my class. He was a wide-headed, broad-shouldered, and a muscular athletic looking guy. I think he was in the Rugby Club.

But... I once again looked at the receiver.

We were only classmates in our third year, and we weren't particularly close to each other. We hung out with different groups in class. While we would occasionally greet each other when we walked by, I definitely don't remember ever having a conversation with him. After graduation, Nakagawa's name and appearance never even registered once in my mind.

I picked up the claw shreds dropped by Shamisen on the ground and said,

"Nakagawa, is it? So you're Nakagawa, it really has been a while. So, how are you doing? I remember you entering an all-boys school. Well? Why are you calling me now? Have you become the Secretary of the Alumni Association?"

"That position has already been filled by Sudou, who's now in Municipal High, but that's not important, of course I'm calling you for a reason. So listen carefully, because I'm serious about it,"

You called all of a sudden just to say you're serious? After such an ambiguous sentence, my wits were at an end as to guessing just what he was trying to say.

"Kyon, you have to seriously hear me out. The only one I can talk to about this is you, you're my lifeline,"

Now isn't that exaggerating a bit? Alright already, hurry up and say it. I'll just have to hear what you've got to say to a classmate who wasn't that close to you in school and has no impression of you after graduation.

"I think I'm in love,"


"I'm serious. I've been troubled about it. For these past few months, whether I was awake or asleep, I can only think of this,"


"I'm up to the point where I can no longer concentrate on doing anything else. No, that's not true. I still managed to immerse myself in my studies and club activities. Thanks to that, my grades have actually improved, and it took less than a year for me to become a regular on my team."


"This was all fueled by my love. Do you understand, Kyon? I'm so troubled deep inside. After looking for your home number in the junior high school book, do you know how long I hesitated before calling you? Even now, my body is still trembling. This is love, it's the amazing power of love that has compelled me to call you. I hope you understand."

I licked my lips. A cold sweat trickled down my forehead. Oh god, I should never have answered this phone
I licked my lips. A cold sweat trickled down my forehead. Oh god, I should never have answered this phone

"But, Nakagawa..."

I licked my lips. A cold sweat trickled down my forehead. Oh god, I should never have answered the phone...

"I'm sorry, but I don't think I can accept your love... All I can say is I'm sorry. I really am, I just can't promise you anything,"

I guess you could say a cold shiver just went down my spine. Now let me set the record straight, I am an absolutely normal heterosexual male. My preference for "the same team" weighs less than that of a humming bird, in other words, it's non-existent. Whether subconsciously or unconsciously, my preference has been "straight". See? Aren't I right? My body would go hot just thinking about Asahina-san. If Koizumi had called me saying such stuff, I would've hung up already. By the way, I'm not bisexual either. Do I make myself clear?

My mind was full of rhetoric I wasn't sure who to address to, I continued to speak on the receiver,

"So, Nakagawa, we can still remain as friends, but..."

Though we don't have anything between us that could warrant us as friends,

"I don't think I'll be able to commit myself to a romantic relationship, I'm sorry. That's all. If you want to pursue romance, try the boys school you're studying at instead, as I intend to lead a normal high school life. I'm glad to be able to hear your voice after so long. If we should ever meet in an Alumni Gathering, I'll pretend not to remember and would still treat you with respect. I also won't tell anyone about this, so good bye..."

"Hold it, Kyon!"

Nakagawa said sounding astonished,

"What are you talking about? Don't get me wrong, you're not the person I'm in love with. Where'd you get such ideas anyway? That's gross,"

Then what were you saying all those romantic stuff for? If you're not saying it to me, then who was it for?

"Actually I don't really know her name, I just know it's a girl from North High..."

Though I hadn't completely understood what he was talking about, I breathed a sigh of relief, like a soldier in the battle trenches relieved at hearing that a truce has been made. There was nothing scarier than hearing a confession of love from a guy... for me, that is.

"Can you please elaborate more? Just who was it that you're in love with?"

There is a limit to talking so confusingly. I am this close to putting you in my ignore list, you know?

By the way, what was wrong with this guy? Talking about loving someone already in his first year in high school. Even if it is love, it still is quite embarrassing to actually say who you like.

"It was in spring... sometime in May,"

Nakagawa began recalling his memories, he sounded very nostalgic as well,

"That girl was walking with you. I only need to close my eyes and her image would appear in my mind. Ah... her appearance is just so adorable, absolutely beautiful. Not only that, I even saw a glowing aura behind her back. That wasn't my illusion, yes, it was as holy and pure as the heavens shining upon the earth..."

His rememberance sounded like those dangerous drug hallucinations,

"I was completely overwhelmed. It was a feeling I've never had in my life, it's as though an electric current just went through my whole body... No! It was like being struck by a mega-lightning bolt that nailed me to the ground. I then stood there for hours, it seems as though I've lost all sense of time. By the time I regained my senses, it was already nightfall. And then I realized, this is love!"

Let us organize Nakagawa's Andromeda Strain-induced ramblings. From what he has said, he saw me walking with someone back in May, and he was awestruck by that person, who happens to be a North High girl... in that case, the suspects are significantly narrowed down.

The number of girls that have walked on the streets with me and Haruhi was very small, and I'm not making this up. If it's limited to North High schoolgirls, then my sister would be off the list, which would leave just the three SOS Brigade girls.

This means...

"This has all been determined by fate,"

Nakagawa continued to revel in his glorious moment,

"You know, Kyon? I had never believe in those mythical things like love at first sight. I too had considered myself to be a materialistic person. Yet love has arrived so suddenly, and it has opened my eyes. There really is love at first sight, Kyon~"

Why must I listen to you ramble on and on? Love at first sight? Seems like your eyes have been covered by some external skin.

"N, no... that's not true!"

Looks like this fellow was pretty sure of himself,

"I'm not the sort to be fooled by a girl's looks or figure, what's most important is her inner character. I saw through to her inner character with one look, and that was enough. That powerful impact made a strong impression on me that will be impossible to replace. Sadly, I just can't express this in words, all I can say is I've fallen in love. No, I'm still falling... do you understand, Kyon?"

That was what I didn't understand.

"Forget it, let's leave that aside,"

I decided to put an end to Nakagawa's never ending insane chatter,

"You say you were struck by the lightning thrown out by that girl back in May, right? But it's already winter now. It's over half a year now, just what have you been doing until now?"

"That's it, Kyon, now that you've mentioned it, I now feel even more depressed. I've been at a lost of what to do for these past few months. My mind has never rested since then, as my feelings could not find a way out. I was thinking all the time whether I would be a good match for that girl. I'll be frank, Kyon, I only just thought about contacting you recently. It was because you were walking beside her that I remembered you and decided to look up the junior high school book for your number. Her beauty is just so dazzling, never before has a girl made me go crazy like this."

To lose oneself completely over a girl whose name you don't even know, and to be stressed about it for nearly half a year, isn't your obsession a bit too scary?

Asahina-san, Haruhi, Nagato - their faces appeared respectively in my head. I decided to go straight to the point. To be honest, I already felt like hanging up long ago, but judging from how seriously intoxicated Nakagawa sounded, if I hung up on him, I'll probably have to face a barrage of fatal serial calls from him.

"Describe what the girl you have fallen for looks like."

Nakagawa went silent for a while...

"She had short hair,"

He said as though retracing his memories,

"And she wore glasses."


"The North High sailor uniform looked as though it was made specially for her. She looked gorgeous in it."


"And she was completely engulfed in this glittering aura."

Well, I don't know much about that, but...

"Do you mean Nagato?"

It really was a surprise. At first I thought the person that would drive Nakagawa nuts would either be Haruhi or Asahina-san, I never thought it would be Nagato. Taniguchi sure knows how to grade his girls. The first time I saw her, I thought she was just a silent and weird ancient doll sitting in the club room, I never knew there were so many people with such refined taste. Of course, my impression of Nagato now has changed greatly since then, especially in the past few months.

"So her name's Nagato, is it?"

Nakagawa's voice began to sound excited,

"How do you spell that? Can you please tell me her full name?"

Nagato Yuki. Nagato as in the battleship Nagato, Yuki as in "having hope".

"...It's a good name. One would think of the impressive battleship Nagato, while her name Yuki symbolizes that there is hope... Nagato Yuki-san... it's just as I thought, it's a clear name, full of possibilities. Elegant, yet not overbearing, and it doesn't sound aloof. It's just as I have imagined it to be!"

How did he imagine it to be? What sort of delusion could he see with just one look? You say you only care about inner character, may I ask what does one's inner character have to do with love at first sight?

"I just knew,"

He said matter-of-factly, his confidence was beginning to sound irritating.

"This is not a delusion. I'm sure of it, that no matter what she looks like or what her personality is like, she possesses a kind of rational beauty. I saw in her the wisdom and logic that one would find in a deity; she's the sort of highbrow girl that one might never meet in one's whole life,"

I think I'll look in the dictionary for the word "highbrow" later, for the questions in my head still remain unanswered,

"That's what I don't get. Why is it that you know she would be noble just by looking at her once? You've never even spoken to her, you merely saw her from afar!"

"I just know, that's why I'm so hopelessly in love with her!"

Why should I listen to you yell for no reason!?

"I'm so grateful to God. I'm so ashamed of myself for not believing in him before. Since then I have regularly gone to a nearby shrine to pray every week, I would also occasionally go to churches, both Catholic and Protestant."

Praying blindly everywhere is more unfaithful than not believing anything at all. Besides, it's not like you'll get results every time you pray. Pick one deity and stick with praying to him.

"Yeah, you're right,"

Nakagawa replied casually,

"I thank you, Kyon. I'm even more determined now because of you. From now on, I'll only pray to one goddess, and that is the Goddess Nagato Yuki. She would be my only goddess, to whom I'll give my unconditional love..."


As he'll just go on and on, I quickly interrupted him. Partly because it just sounded too cheesy, and partly because I was becoming irritated for some reason,

"So what do you want? I already know why you called, but what next? You know it's pointless, telling me about your love for Nagato."

"I need you to relay a message for me,"

Nakagawa said,

"I hope you can give a message to Nagato-san. Please, you're the only one who can help me. Since you were walking side by side with her, you should be pretty close to her, right?"

He's sort of right. We were both members of the SOS Brigade, and we are still happily revolving as satellites orbiting around Haruhi's gravity well. Besides, the Nagato he saw walking with me was the bespectacled Nagato back in May. I see, so it was back then, the first SOS Brigade Mystery Search, the time when I went to the library with Nagato. How nostalgic... compared to then, my understanding of Nagato has now increased hundreds of times, so much so that I'm beginning to wonder if I've come to know too much about her.

With these memories in my mind, I asked Nakagawa,

"Right, you say you remember seeing me walking with Nagato..."

To be honest, I felt uncomfortable asking this question,

"But, why did you only think that I was merely close to her? Didn't you think that I could be dating Nagato?"

"Not at all,"

Nakagawa didn't flinch a bit,

"You are the sort who's fond of weirder girls. Like back in our third year... now what's her name, weren't you going out with that enigmatic girl?"

You, as a Nagato-lover, are the least qualified to comment on my preferences. I suddenly felt as though I'd just lost my balance, but it's obvious he got something wrong. Ah yes, Kunikida has gotten that wrong as well. I was just friends with that girl, now that I think about it, we've not even met since our graduation from junior high. I still do occasionally think of her every few days, I wonder if I should send her a New Year greeting card...

For some reason, I feel as though I'm digging my own grave, perhaps I should change the subject.

"So, what is it that you want me to relay? An invitation for a date? Or do you want me to ask for Nagato's phone number? I'm sure that's an easier favour to do,"


Nakagawa's response was bullish,

"Right now I'm still a nobody, how could I just appear before Nagato-san like that? I'm just not qualified, that's why..."

He paused for half a beat or so,

"Can you please tell her... to wait for me."

"Wait for you to what end?" I said.

"Wait for me to propose to her. Will that do? Because right now I'm just a first year high school student without any social experiences."

Well, I'm not that much different from you.

"That won't do. Listen to me, Kyon. I'm going to work really hard from now on. No, the truth is I've already been working hard. At this rate, I would qualify for a state university with my grades."

Well, it's good to have a long-term objective.

"I'm going to do a major in Economics. I'll continue to study hard once I'm in a university, and try to be the best amongst the North High graduates. Once I'm out in society, I'm not going to join some big company, but I'm going to get a job with a medium or small-sized firm."

He sure knows how to talk, and it sounds as though it's all going to happen. If a ghost were to hear him say such stuff, he'd probably laugh so hard he'd get a stomach ulcer.

"But I won't be content with being a classless person. Give me three years... no, I'll only need two years, I'll learn all the knowledge that I'll need to start a business."

I'm not going to stop you, so go ahead and give it a try. If by then I'm having trouble with my career, mind if I work under you?

"After that, the company that I've created would take five years... no, I'll try to settle this in three years, by then it'll be listed in the Second Section of Topix. Its projected annual growth will be at least ten percent, and it'll all be net profit."

I find myself struggling to catch up with Nakagawa's mode of thinking, but he seemed to be getting more excited as he went on,

"By that time, I will be able to take a small break, since all the preparations will be ready."

"Preparations for what?"

"Preparations for my proposal to Nagato-san."

I fell silent like a deep-ocean shellfish, while Nakagawa's words felt like a torrent of waves splashing towards me.

"I still have two years before I graduate from high school, and four years from university. My in-job training would take two years, while it'll take three years for me to set up a company and get it listed in public. That's a total of eleven years. No, let's round that off to ten years. In ten years, I'll be a formidable entrepreneur..."

"Are you nuts?"

I'm sure you would all understand why I was suddenly so rude. What girl in her right mind would wait for him for ten years? Not to mention that the girl has never even met him before. To suddenly have a guy ask her to wait ten years for him so that he could propose to her, if she had actually waited mindlessly, then she wouldn't be from this world. Unfortunately, Nagato just so happens to be from out of this world, literally.

I bit my tongue and waited.

"I'm serious."

What's worse was that he actually sounded serious as well,

"I'm willing to bet my life on this, because I really mean it."

If sounds have blades in them, then his voice sounded as though it could cut through many wires at once.

Now what should I do to get this over with?

"Well... Nakagawa,"

The image of Nagato silently reading her book appeared in my mind,

"This is just my personal opinion, but Nagato actually has a lot of hidden admirers. So many that she's already feeling exasperated by them. I commend you for your fine taste in Nagato, but she is going to remain single for now, and the chances of her waiting ten years for you are close to zero."

I actually made all that up, how was I to know what would happen in ten years? I wasn't even sure of my own future.

"Besides, something this important ought to be told in person to Nagato herself. Though I'm reluctant to do it, I'll still help arrange a meeting for you. It's the winter vacation now, so it shouldn't be a problem asking her to spend one hour meeting you."

"I can't do it,"

Nakagawa's voice suddenly went soft,

"Right now, I don't think I'm capable of seeing her. If I saw Nagato-san's face, I would faint at once. Actually, I have seen her from afar recently. That time, it was just outside the supermarket by the station... though it was at night, I still recognized her back, I was instantly frozen, and I stood there until the supermarket was closing. If I were to meet her directly... the consequences would be unimaginable!"

Oh boy, Nakagawa has been completely infected by the love virus. He even set out his plans for the next ten years, such was an indication of how serious his illness was. While there exists a cure, it'll only be available after he has been awestruck by meeting the alien directly, and then having her reject him and run away.

Besides, he has already gone to great lengths to call a person he barely knew just to bemoan his agony. Even more terrifying, it was impossible to predict what he's going to say next. I already have to put up with Haruhi, and now Nagato has brought me another annoying person to deal with.

Sigh I deliberately sighed loudly so that Nakagawa could hear,

"Well, basically I understand already. Just repeat what you want me to say to Nagato."

"Thank you, Kyon,"

Nakagawa sounded really grateful,

"We'll definitely invite you to our wedding. I'll have to ask you to write a speech for us then, you'll be the first to give the speech. I'll never forget you for my whole life. If you ever feel like making a name with me, I'll make sure there'll always be a place in my company for you."

"No thanks, just hurry up already!"

I listened to Nakagawa's anxiously irritating voice while placing the receiver on my shoulder as I grabbed a blank piece of paper.

After noon the next day, I quietly climbed up the slope towards North High. As the altitude slowly rises, the white vapour coming out of my breath became more visible. As to why I was walking to school during winter vacation, it was because the SOS Brigade was holding its regular meeting today.

Today was also the day on which we would do some spring cleaning of the club room. Asahina-san would occasionally sweep the floor, but as with the second law of thermodynamics, in which the total entropy of any isolated thermodynamic system tends to increase over time, this rule also applies to our club room. (The concept of entropy originated from the German physicist Rudolph Clausius in 1862 to define the dispersal or degradation of usable energy (often incorrectly explained as "disorder") in a system. In a theoretical reversible process this amount would remain the same, though in any real process this amount increases (irreversible). For example, if no one had offered to help clean a lazy person's room, the room could only get messier — it'll never be tidied up all by its own.) All sorts of junk were gradually brought into the club room to create a kind of orderly chaos, and the culprit responsible for all this mess was none other than Haruhi, who would grab anything she fancies. Not to mention Koizumi bringing in one board game after another, Nagato bringing in more and more thick books and reading them at the speed of a flying arrow, as well as Asahina-san, every day trying to brew the perfect tea... In other words, everyone besides me was guilty. It'll become chaotic if we continue to leave it like this, so I suggested it's time to bring the stuff back to each of their homes, with the exception of Asahina-san's cosplay wardrobe staying at least.

"Man, what a pain,"

I just couldn't walk at a relaxed pace because of an extra piece of note paper in my jacket pocket.

That note contained a word-by-word dictation of Nakagawa's declaration of love for Nagato. It was so retarded that I had to restrain myself from throwing the pencil away many times when writing it down. The only people I could think of who could say such embarrassing stuff without any shame would be some professional conmen; besides that, I can't think of anyone else. "Wait ten years for me"? Give me a break already!

Walking into the mountain breeze, I arrived at the familiar school complex.

Arriving at the club room complex, I was still an hour early for the meeting.

This was not because I was afraid of the rule that whoever comes last has to treat everyone, that rule only applies for activities outdoors.

On the phone last night, Nakagawa said before going,

"Don't just copy it down and then give it to her, you'll just be a substitute author then. Who knows, maybe she wouldn't read it. You have to recite the whole thing to her in person, using the same passionate tone that I just used..."

That was the most ridiculous request I've ever heard. I have no reason, nor am I so simple, to be jerked around by that idiot. Yet after sincerely pleading with me, coupled with the fact that I'm generally a nice person, I just couldn't find a way to refuse him. Therefore, I desperately need to find a situation where no one else was around besides Nagato. If I went an hour early, the other members wouldn't have arrived yet, except for the familiar, ever reliable and ever present alien-created Living Humanoid Interface, Nagato Yuki.

After formally knocking the door and hearing a silent reply, I opened the door.

"Hi there!"

I wonder if I sounded too unnatural? My mind urged me to rephrase that sentence,

"Hey, Nagato. I knew you'd be in here."

Inside the club room, filled with the chill of winter, Nagato looked like a life-sized doll which one would not detect any warmth from, sitting quietly on her seat and reading some thick hardback book about some sort of disease.


The poker face looked at me without any expression. Looking as though she was going to touch her forehead, she lifted her arm, but then lowered it again.

That movement looked as if she was about to push up her glasses, but Nagato doesn't wear glasses now. It was I who said she looked better without glasses, and it was she who decided to leave it like that. So what was that action for? Has the habit from six months ago come back?

"The others haven't arrived yet?"

"Not yet."

Nagato answered concisely and returned her gaze back to the page packed with so many words that there were almost no spaces between them. Was she the sort that would feel a sense of great loss if she wasn't doing anything?

I walked stiffly towards the window and saw the central courtyard below, which was visible from there. As today was a holiday, the school was nearly empty. Some of the more cold-resistant members of the various sports clubs can be heard chanting from afar through the window glass.

I stood facing Nagato. It was the usual Nagato, her skin white as ever, and her face blank as ever.

Now that I think about it, we haven't had a four-eyed girl for quite some time. Who knows if Haruhi would grab another four-eyed girl just to do a corporate reshuffle?

I thought of such useless stuff while taking out the well-folded notebook paper out from my pocket,

"Nagato, there's something I need to say to you,"

"What is it?"

Nagato flicked a page with her finger tips, I took a deep breath and said,

"Some lame bozo says he fancies you, I've decided to help him all the way and help him declare his confession. Well? You want to hear?"

According to my plan, the moment Nagato says "no" right there, I would proceed to tear up the paper to shreds. But Nagato just looked at me without saying anything. To me her icy-cold looking eyes suddenly looked as warm as if they had melted into water, was it because my opening line was so impressive?


Nagato shut her lips tight and stared at me like a surgeon examining a patient,

"Is that so?"

She slowly uttered those three words above, while still looking at me without blinking. As she seems to be waiting for me to continue, I had no choice but to unfold the paper and began to recite Nakagawa's confession,

"Oh my Great Goddess Nagato, as Your most faithful follower, I am distressed that I can only express my adoration of you this way. May the Goddess please forgive my insolence. In fact, from the moment I laid my eyes on Your Holiness..."

Nagato kept looking at me while silently listening. Yet I was the one who was feeling more and more uncomfortable. As I was reading Nakagawa's stupefying confession, the whole thing just felt more and more stupid. Just what on earth was I doing? Was I nuts!?

Nakagawa's story ended at the time when he has bought a huge house in the suburbs and is living an idyllic life with two kids and a white dog. As I was reading this diary of the future, I noticed Nagato was still staring silently at me. I suddenly had a feeling I was doing something extremely stupid.

Why did I agree to do this!?

I stopped reciting. If I were to continue reading this piece of lunacy, even I'll go insane. It's unlikely I'll ever become close friends with Nakagawa, since I'd never hang out with someone who could come up with such cheesy lines. Now I knew why we barely knew each other back in junior high. After falling in love at first sight, his feeling incubated for nearly half a year before he suddenly asked me to be his messenger, and his message has to be a totally ridiculous love confession. Sigh, he was beyond help.

"Forget it. Anyway, that's about the gist of it. I'm sure you more or less get it?"

Nagato simply said,


She then nodded.

She does?

I looked at Nagato, and Nagato looked back at me.

Time passes by quietly as though the words of silence grew wings and flew around us...


Nagato slightly tilted her neck, but apart from that she didn't do anything else, but continued to stare at me. Um... now what? I should be talking, right?

As I was running through my vocabulary on what to say...

"I have received the message that you have relayed to me."

Her gaze never moved away,

"But, I cannot comply with his request."

She said in her usual calm manner,

"I cannot guarantee that my self-control mechanism can continue to remain stable for the next ten years."

After finishing, she shut her lips tight again. She never once changed her expression or moved her eyes away from me.


The first to budge was me, I pretended to shake my head just so I could look away from those dark eyes of hers which looked as though they were about to suck me in,

"You're right. Ten years is just too long."

Though the confession's problem didn't just lie with a waiting time that was too long, I still breathed a sigh of relief. As to where this relief came from, to put it simply, I just didn't want to see Nagato getting close with Nakagawa or some other jerk like him. I don't deny that I still have some impression of that other Nagato in my mind when Haruhi had disappeared. Nakagawa wasn't too bad, he can even be classified as a nice guy, but I just can't get rid of the image of that Nagato looking distressed as she softly pulled my sleeve.

"I'm sorry, Nagato,"

I crumpled the piece of paper into a lump,

"It's my fault. I shouldn't have dictated this thing word-for-word, and I should've turned down Nakagawa's request on the phone. Please forget what just happened. I'll have a word with that idiot. Don't worry though, I don't think he's the sort that would become a stalker."

But, if Asahina-san were to suddenly have a boyfriend, I'd probably stalk him all day...

Huh? So that's why, that's how it is.

Now I knew what this uncomfortable feeling in my heart was.

Whether it was Asahina-san or Nagato, I just can't stand any guy getting between them and me! It was that simple. That was why I felt so relieved, I guess I'm an easy-to-understand guy.

What about Haruhi, you say? Ah, if it's that girl, then I'm not worried at all. Haruhi would usually ignore any guy that dares to pursue her. Should the skies one day fall and Haruhi actually begins to go out with someone, then she wouldn't be busy looking for aliens or time travelers. That should be a good news for the Earth, and I'm sure Koizumi would be delighted at the decrease in workload.

After that, the turbulent and surreal part of my life would come to an end. Maybe that day would really arrive, but I was sure it wasn't now.

I opened the club room window. The incoming wintry breeze, which was so chilly that it could cut a wound in the finger, clashed with the warm indoor air, which was warmed by our body temperatures. I thrust my arm out and threw the lump of paper I had in my hand as far as I could.

The lump of paper slowly floated along the wind and landed silently on the large grassy knoll adjacent to the corridor linking the main school complex and the club room complex. I guess it'll soon be blown into a water duct by the complex building, and then decompose along with the fallen leaves and return to nature...

But I guessed wrong!

"Oh shit!"

There was a person walking on that very corridor that suddenly changed direction and headed for the grassy knoll. That girl turned and glared at me as though I've just thrown a cigarette butt, and proceeded to pick up the lump of paper that I just threw.

"Hey! Don't pick that up! And don't read it either!"

Ignoring my futile protests, she picked up the garbage that no one asked her to, she then opened up the crumpled paper and began to read it silently.


Nagato continued to look silently at me.

Let us take some time to consider the following questions:

  Q1. What was written on that piece of paper?
  A1. A confession of love for Nagato.

  Q2. Whose handwriting was on the paper?
  A2. My handwriting.

  Q3. What would a stranger think if he had read this?
  A3. He'll probably misunderstand.

  Q4. Then, what would Haruhi be thinking if she had read it?
  A4. I don't even want to know.

And so, Haruhi read the piece of paper thoroughly for some minutes, and then lifted her head up and looked sharply at me, while revealing an evil smile that looked sinister, seemingly up to something.

...As expected, today was definitely not a good day!

Ten seconds later, she had already entered the club room in the most ferocious speed possible and was grabbing me by the collar,

"JUST WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING!? Are you an idiot!? I'm gonna have to throw you out of the window just to knock some sense into you!"

She yelled while carrying a smile, only that her smile looked a bit stiff. If the strength that she used to drag me towards the window were converted into energy, it would be enough to supply a day's worth of indoor heating. Not even my frantic attempt at explaining could reduce the intensity of this strength,

"No, wait, I can explain! I was helping this old classmate of mine called Nakagawa..."

"What!? Are you trying to shove all this to someone else!? It's your handwriting, isn't it?"

Haruhi said menacingly while she dragged me back, she then stared at me with her large bell-like eyes from a distance of just ten centimeters.

"You gotta let me go first, I can't say anything properly if you pull me around like that,"

As I was tugging and pulling with Haruhi, a fourth person had arrived at the wrong moment.


Asahina-san's eyes were as big as a tray as she stood outside the door. She elegantly covered her mouth and said,

"...Um... are you in the middle of something? I wonder if I should come back later..."

While we were in the middle of something, but it was nothing serious. Besides there's nothing fun about twisting and pulling with Haruhi, it would be a different story if it were with Asahina-san though... Anyway, please do come in. From the past to the present, I have never once denied Asahina-san the right to enter, nor do I intend to.

Furthermore, Nagato's sitting here in the club room as though nothing's happening, so there's no reason why Asahina-san couldn't come in. If she could help me get out of this mess, she was all the more welcome.

As I was smiling at Asahina-san while tussling with Haruhi at the same time...

"Oh my,"

The last member had arrived, sticking his head from behind Asahina-san,

"I wonder if I arrived too early?"

The fellow revealed a cheerful smile and swept aside his hair parting,

"Asahina-san, it would seem we have arrived at an unsuitable time. Perhaps we should return later until they settle some domestic affair. I'll pay for your coffee at the vending machine as well."

Hold it, Koizumi. If you were treating our wrestling around as some typical domestic squabble between a married couple, then I suggest you go have your eyesight examined. Oh, and don't try to use this as an opportunity to abduct Asahina-san. Asahina-san, this is really nothing, so there's no need for you to worry and nod your head and agree with him.

Currently Haruhi was clutching my shirt tightly with all the strength she could muster, while I grabbed on Haruhi's wrists. At this rate I'm going to suffer from ligament pains, I quickly decided to call for reinforcements,

"Hey! Koizumi! Where do you think you're going? Come and help me!"

"Hmm, now whose side should I stand on?"

Koizumi decided to play dumb, while Asahina-san stood stiffly and blinking non-stop like a terrified little rabbit. She didn't even notice Koizumi casually placing his hand on her shoulder as he attempted to play the knight in shining armour saving the damsel in distress.

What was Nagato doing then? I took a glance and noticed Nagato was doing what I thought she would do, she hardly looked concerned and continued to read her book. Oh come on, it was all because of you that I'm now in such big trouble, why can't you at least say something?

And then, Haruhi's clutches became even tighter,

"I must be blind as a bat! I can't believe I've actually recruited someone so dumb as to write such a stupid love letter into my brigade! Now that pisses me off! You're to resign immediately! Man, I feel so terrible, it's like sticking a bare foot into a shoe full of cockroaches!"

Even though she was full of rage, Haruhi still managed to display an enigmatic looking smile. It's as though she didn't know what expression to use in such a situation,

First, you are to leap up a wall with a dry salted fish in your mouth and fight for territory with other wild cats! And you have to wear cat ears while doing that!
First, you are to leap up a wall with a dry salted fish in your mouth and fight for territory with other wild cats! And you have to wear cat ears while doing that!

"Before arriving here, I've already thought up of thirteen kinds of punishments! First, you are to leap up a wall with a dry salted fish in your mouth and fight for territory with other wild cats! And you have to wear cat ears while doing that!"

If Asahina-san were the one doing that in her maid uniform, I'm pretty sure it would be a sight to behold; if I were to do it, the next thing you'd see would be me being hauled off in an ambulance.

"Though we don't have cat ears,"

I turned towards the window and sighed.

I'm sorry Nakagawa, if I don't bust you, I'll become the next object that gets thrown out of the window after that lump of paper. If possible, I didn't want to reveal anything about you, but if Haruhi's misunderstanding were to continue, even Mother Nature would be messed up.

I took a look at the widely opened eyes of the Queen of the Brigade, using the same comforting tone when trying to calm Shamisen down as I cut his claws, I said,

"Listen to me, it's... you'll have to let go of me first, Haruhi. I'll explain everything until even your dull wits finally get it."

Ten minutes later.

Haruhi sat on a steel chair with her legs crossed while sipping her green tea,

"Your friend sure is weird. Although he's entitled to fall in love at first sight, this obsession is just pushing it too far. What a jerk."

Love not only makes a person blind, it causes brain damage as well, you know. Ah well, it's not that I disagree with her last statement anyway.

Haruhi waved the piece of wrinkled up letter,

"At first I had thought you had teamed up with that idiot Taniguchi to make fun of Yuki. Since it sounds like the stuff that he'd do, not to mention Yuki's the quiet, obedient type of girl, she's bound to get fooled."

I don't think you'll be able to find anyone in this galaxy harder to fool than Nagato. But I didn't interrupt and listened quietly. Probably sensing me refraining from talking, Haruhi took a quick menacing glance at me before suddenly reverting to a relaxed expression,

"Forget it, you wouldn't even dare do such a thing, You neither have the intelligence nor the cunning anyway."

I wasn't sure whether she was complimenting me or dissing me, but at least I wouldn't do something an illogical elementary school kid would do. And no matter how crap Taniguchi was at expressing himself, he wouldn't do something so childish either.


The one who lit the fuse was the resident fairy and angel of the SOS Brigade,

"I think it sounds romantic,"

Asahina-san said indulgently,

"If someone were to go crazy like that over me, I think I'd be happy... Ten years, huh? I'd certainly like to meet someone who was willing to wait ten years for me. So romantic..."

She clasped her fingers while her eyes glittered.

I wasn't sure whether the 'romantic' that Asahina-san spoke of was the same 'romantic' that I think of. I just felt that they have differing definitions. Maybe the vocabulary has changed in the future. After all, she was the sort of person who didn't even understand how a boat could float on water until someone explained it to her.

Oh yeah, Asahina-san's attire today was rather normal, a simple sailor uniform. This was because her maid uniform, nurse uniform and all other costumes have been sent to the laundry, including the frog suit as well. When Haruhi and I had carried the whole cosplay wardrobe containing Asahina-san's bodily fragrance to the laundry store, the store owner just kept staring at me and Haruhi, and that left a mental scar within me.

"Nakagawa and romance are basically insulated from each other,"

I gulped the remaining cold tea in my tea cup and continued,

"Even if he had been reincarnated in the wrong body, he's the sort of physical guy who's destined to never have a chance at becoming the male protagonist in a shoujo manga. His animal horoscope is represented by the black bear, the one with a crescent mark in his chest,"

As I said, I began to envision a figure that matches up with what he looked like in junior high.

"Really? He sounds like a gentle muscular guy to me."

Though that was far different from my image, the impression both images made was similar, since he does have a well-built physique. Yet my view on him was unlike that of Asahina-san's.

I really should apologize to him for describing him like that, and before I could destroy all evidence of Nakagawa's declaration of love - I ought to apologize to him for this as well, but I no longer have the strength to do it - Haruhi had already read it out passionately to everyone. After hearing it, Koizumi's reaction was different from that of Asahina-san's,

"Now that was a stunning speech,"

He continued with his ever pretentious smile,

"The letter generally revealed to the reader a good impression about the author. While it was slightly over-idealistic, the fact that he was down-to-earth and grounded in reality was commendable enough. Though the author kind of lost himself as a result of a sudden frenzy, from his words one could see his passion and ambition. If this Nakagawa-san can really work as hard as he says he will, then he is sure to become a remarkable person in the future."

This psychoanalysis sounds like something from a small-practice clinical psychologist. Can you really comment on someone's life just like that? If you can give such an irresponsible critique, then so can I. Just who are you trying to con anyway?


Koizumi threw another smile at me,

"It requires a great deal of courage to use such language in a confession letter. And you reveal yourself to be a generally nice person by agreeing to dictate it. If I were you, my fingers would have been trembling too much to be able to write anything,"

What's that supposed to mean? Are you giving me a thinly-veiled criticism? Unlike you, I do cherish my friendship. I'll still go through the trouble of playing Cupid even knowing it'll be a waste of time.

I shrugged my shoulders and told Koizumi about what happened earlier,

"Nagato already gave me her reply long before you came,"

I spoke on behalf of Nagato, who was paying both Haruhi and Koizumi the same proportion of attention,

"She said ten years was too long. Well, that's expected, since I think so as well."

At this moment, Nagato, who had been silent so far, finally spoke,

"Let me see."

She stretched out her tiny fingers.

Now that surprised me, it seems to have surprised Haruhi as well.

"I guess you are curious about it,"

Haruhi said as though reading through the expression of the sole member of the Literature Club hidden under her bangs,

"Though Kyon's only responsible for dictating this love letter, you could still take it home as a souvenir. After all, this letter is either very ambiguous or very honest, but it's rare to find this sort of confession in this day and age,"

"Here you go."

Koizumi received the wrinkled piece of paper from Haruhi and passed it over to Nagato.


Nagato lowered her eyes and began reading my handwriting. At times her eyes seems to be focused at the same place, as if trying to grasp the meaning of those lines of words.

"I cannot wait."

Well, that's to be expected.

But Nagato then added...

"But I can see him."

A sentence which caused everyone in the room to fall silent, she then added another line which nearly made my jaw drop,

"I am curious."

After finishing, she looked at me with her usual gaze.

It was the gaze I knew - a very determined gaze, as clear as a flawless, handmade glass artifact.

The spring cleaning ended not quite like a typical spring cleaning. When I suggested taking care of the books on the bookshelf, Nagato did not answer with a "yes" or "no", but just stared silently at me. Seeing those eyes that barely hid a hard to describe sadness, I just couldn't bear taking the books down. The only board game from Koizumi's collection that ended up in the trash can was a paper-made backgammon board that came with a magazine and was only played once.

Asahina-san's personal collection consisted of only her tea leaves anyway. On the other hand, for anything that Haruhi brought in, she responded with a resounding, "You can't throw that away!"

"Now listen up, Kyon. It's a sin to throw away something without ever using them. I would never do such a thing. Things that can still be used ought to be reused again and again. As long as their quality lasts, I would never throw them away. That's the spirit of environmentalism."

Over time, this room might gradually become a rubbish dump thanks to this girl. If you really care for the environment, then you shouldn't be minding the business of anything that isn't living, that's what I think anyway.

Haruhi tied a triangular handkerchief to her head, handed Nagato and Asahina-san a mop and broomstick, and gave me and Koizumi a bucket and cloth and ordered us to clean the windows,

"This will be our last time visiting this place this year, so we'll have to make this place sparkling clean before we can go home. Only then can we ensure that we can come back feeling at ease after the New Year,"

After receiving our orders, Koizumi and I began to clean the windows. Time to time I took a look at the North High schoolgirl trio, wondering whether they were cleaning the room or just spreading dust around. My partner then spoke softly to me,

"This is just between us. Besides the 'Organization', there are various other organizations that have wanted to approach Nagato-san. Because she is now just as important as Suzumiya-san and you. Among all the Integrated Data Entities, Nagato-san's existence is particularly unusual, especially recently."

I sat on the window sill and breathed some warm moist air onto my hands, trying to keep away the chilling wind which was lowering my body temperature with ease, while continuing to wipe the window with the wet cloth.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

It is actually quite easy to play dumb. Recently however, I experienced something with Nagato and Asahina-san that had nothing to do with this Koizumi and Haruhi, and the present me exists as a result. I could not sit idly by and play dumb with this current situation.

"I'll think of something,"

I continued, while looking relaxed on the outside.

This incident was started by me, so I should take care of it myself.

Koizumi wiped the inside of the window while smiling,

"Indeed, I'm counting on you this time. Just trying to prepare for the SOS Brigade's end of year snow mountain field trip is enough to keep me busy. Besides, you could still mess around with Suzumiya-san to reduce stress. Unfortunately, I do not have such a luxury."

"Then who's the tomcat?"

Yet, the beautiful smile on Koizumi's face became twisted,

"Don't you think it's about time that I take off this harmless looking mask and change this image that I don't even know when I created it for myself? It is after all very tiring trying to talk courteously to a classmate all the time."

If you feel so tired, then stop it already. I completely didn't feel like controlling his expression.

"That won't do. My present image fits perfectly with how Suzumiya-san would imagine me to be. I am quite an expert in understanding her mental conditions, after all,"

Koizumi sighed in an exaggerated way,

"On just this basis alone, I feel very envious of Asahina-san. She doesn't even need to pretend, she only needs to be herself,"

"Didn't you once say Asahina-san could be making up this appearance of hers as well?"

"Oh, did you actually believe what I said? If I can win your trust, then my hard work may have produced some fruit after all."

Just as pretentious as ever. It's nearly a year already, and his flamboyant way of speech still hasn't changed a bit. Even Nagato's heart has gone through some changes, but you're still as fake as ever. Asahina-san doesn't need to change, it is best that she remains the same for now. This is because I've met the other Asahina-san, and know that it's a pre-determined fact that she would grow both physically and mentally.

"If I were to take on a different appearance..."

Koizumi began to wipe faster,

"Then it would not be a good omen. Keeping the status-quo is my duty. I'm sure you wouldn't want to see me look serious."

"Yeah, I certainly wouldn't want to. Since you're always grinning idiotically all the time, you're ideally suited to stick closely around Haruhi and help her clean up her mess or plan stuff for her. I'm really looking forward to the mystery play in the snow mountain this time. That's more than enough, right?"

"That has got to be the best compliment I've heard, please allow me to accept it in its entirety."

I didn't know whether he meant it or not, since anything that Koizumi said would end up as white vapour on the glass.

Later that night...

I stared at the sleeping face of Shamisen who had wrapped himself in a bundle on my bed, while indulging in a sense of warmth. While wondering deeply where that warm feeling came from, I might as well try and figure out where the division between love and lust begins and ends. At that moment a thought sparked in my head that cried out That's it!...

"Kyon-kun! Your phone... it's from the same person as yesterday..."

My sister once again held the phone receiver and opened the door to my room.

After handing the receiver which was playing some pop music tune to me, my sister then sat by the bed and began pulling Shamisen's whiskers,

"Shami, Shami~ Shami's so furry, sounding so purry~"

I looked at my sister looking cheerful, then at Shamisen looking unconcerned, then back to my sister singing away as I placed the receiver by my ear. Now what was I thinking about before all this?


"It's me,"

Nakagawa, my classmate from junior high, couldn't repress the anxiety within himself and asked straight away,

"How'd it go? What did Goddess Nagato say? Please tell me, no matter what her reply is, I'm already prepared. Hurry up already, Kyon...!"

Sounds like a candidate struggling for a parliament seat in an election anxious about the latest exit polls.

"I'm sorry, but things didn't go quite as planned,"

I waved at my sister signaling her to get out while trying to sound sorry,

"She said she won't wait for you. She cannot imagine, and cannot guarantee a future ten years from now... that's her answer,"

My mouth slickly relayed the facts out. "But I can see him." ...I thought deeply how Nakagawa would react to this peculiar sentence from Nagato...

"Is that so?"

Nakagawa sounded surprisingly calm,

"I guessed so as well. She couldn't have agreed so easily,"

I continued to wave my hand, humming a mindless song, my sister had no choice, but to forcefully pick up a moaning Shamisen and walked out of my room. She probably wanted to sleep with him in her room. In about an hour, Shamisen would run with his tail between his legs back to my room. It's typical for cats to feel aversion to humans who give them too much care and attention.

After my sister left, I grabbed the phone and began my inquisition,

"Hey! Is that all you have to say after I have to read such an embarrassing declaration for you?"

If you knew you were going to fail, then don't ask me to be your messenger!

"Everything has to go through certain procedures,"

You are least qualified to lecture me when you yourself have skipped through warming up and jumped straight into proposing. You have disregarded the basic rules of Shogi, who on earth would do a checkmate on their first move anyway?

"I know, it must be distressing to receive a love confession from a complete stranger."

If you knew that already you should have kept quiet in the first place. The only people who would knowingly step onto a landmine are members of the bomb squad or people seeking excitement.

"But I thought at least Goddess Nagato would become more or less interested in me."

This was pretty much part of Nakagawa's elaborate crime. Nakagawa was indeed the first person that Nagato felt "curious" about. Such was the devastating power of Nakagawa's background. I dare guarantee that at least his shamelessness is unrivalled on the whole planet at present.

"That's why, Kyon, I need to ask you for another favor."

What is it this time? My kindred spirit was about to be chipped away completely now.

"Did you know that I joined the American Football Team in high school?"

Nope, this was my first time hearing it.

"Really? That's the thing, besides this I don't have any other requests. This time we'll be having a friendly match with an American Football team from another boys school. Please do bring Goddess Nagato along to watch this match. Of course, I'm in the the starting lineup."

"When's the match?"


Didn't I say this before? Handling just one difficult creature like Haruhi was enough for me. Why must their schedule be so tight all the time?

"There's nothing I could do if Goddess Nagato is not willing to wait ten years for me. Despite this, I just hope I can move her with my heroics."

Such a conclusive deduction. You should at least consider my position. Even if you don't care about me, you ought to consider how busy the rest of us are going to be for the end of the year.

"Is it inconvenient for you?"

It's not exactly inconvenient for me. I was free as a bird tomorrow, and most probably Nagato was as well. So, it's not inconvenient at all. At this rate, I'll really be forced to go and see your heroics.

"That's great, do come. Though it's a friendly match, it is going to be a duel to the death. Tomorrow's match would be the annual match between the American Football teams of my school and the neighboring boys school. The outcome of the match would affect how we spend the New Year. If we lose, we would be greeted by a hellish winter vacation. There will be no rest for us even in New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. Everyday besides the regular practice, we'll simply get more practice."

Nakagawa sounded really serious, maybe even tragic. But for me it's all none of my business. There was a mountainload of troublesome stuff I needed to take care of before the end of the year, and it's only a few days before the snow mountain mansion field trip.

"Kyon, it's fine if you're busy. All you need to do is just bring Goddess Nagato over. That's all that I ask of you. If she refuses, then I would truly give up. But as long as there's a one-to-a-thousand chance, I'm willing to take it. If I don't try, a dream would just be a dream,"

Yeah, you sure can talk big. Yet my weakness was my inability to say mean stuff,

"Alright then."

I laid on my bed and sighed a breath that somehow never came out,

"I'll call Nagato later."

I have a feeling Nagato won't say "no",

"Where's your high school? If Nagato says OK, then I'll bring her over,"

Maybe I'll bring someone else as well... it's fine if I bring a few more people, right?

"Thank you, Kyon. I'll remember this debt I owe you,"

Nakagawa then cheerfully told me how to get to his school, and when the kickoff for the match would begin,

"You truly are a natural matchmaker! I'll have to hire you as our host for our wedding! No! I should name my first child after you..."


After a cool farewell, I hung up the phone. If I let Nakagawa continue with his ramblings, I'm afraid holes would be bored out of my head already.

I placed the home phone receiver on my bed and picked up my cell phone, trying to look for Nagato's phone number in my address book.

And so, the next day came very quickly.

"You're too slow! How can the person who made the appointment be the last to arrive? Are you sure you even want to go!?"

Haruhi pointed at me with a smile on her face. The location was in front of the familiar station, which has become the official meeting point of the SOS Brigade. The other three - Nagato, Koizumi and Asahina-san were all waiting for me as well.

Originally, I had intended to just bring the silent Living Humanoid Interface along, but like I said, it just wasn't possible for the two of us to watch the game alone. No matter how tight a net is, it will always have holes. If the brigade commander were to find out we went without her, god knows what kind of weird punishment she would come up with. Just thinking about it was enough to give me shivers. I might as well drag the others along into this, so after calling Nagato, I proceeded to call the other three. As to why they all agreed, it could be either they just happened to have some free time, or they were just simply curious about this guy who fell in love with Nagato at first sight.

As it was in the middle of the chilly winter, everyone came wearing thick clothing. Asahina-san's outfit was worth a mention. Wearing that white artificial fur coat, which could either be furry or fluffy, she looked so cute, like an innocent white rabbit. If one were to fall in love at first sight, one's target ought to be Asahina-san instead.

As for Nagato, she simply wore a simple hooded coat over her uniform and placed the hood over her head. As expected from the alien created doll, she is able to resist such freezing Earth temperatures.

As it was in the middle of the chilly winter, everyone came wearing thick clothing
As it was in the middle of the chilly winter, everyone came wearing thick clothing


Though she was about to see the person who had confessed to her, she still remained expressionless.

"Alright, let's go. I can't wait to see what that guy looks like. Besides, this is my first time seeing an American Football game,"

Haruhi wasn't the only one in a good mood as though going to a picnic, Asahina-san was also smiling happily, Koizumi maintained his evil looking grin, and I looked unexcited, while our main character Nagato carried no expression whatsoever.

"I checked the bus routes around the park beforehand. It'll take about half an hour to get from here to that boy's school by bus. We can get on here,"

Koizumi led the way speaking like a tour guide as my words dwindled.

It's all fine as long as you're happy, whether it's this guy, Haruhi, or Asahina-san.

As Koizumi walked along, he gradually came close to my side and whispered meaningfully to my ear,

"To be honest, you sure do have a lot of extraordinary friends."

I waited for him to continue, yet Koizumi only gave me a grin and went back to his duties as a tour guide.

Nakagawa an extraordinary person? Who knows. To feel as though he's struck by lightning just by having one look at Nagato, he must be more extraordinary than the average person in order to have such special senses.

Walking to the bus depot, I just felt something was amiss.

For some reason, I just couldn't be happy.

After riding on the privately-operated bus for about half an hour, we walked for a few minutes before arriving at that boy's school. The game had already started.

As I had overslept, we had already missed two buses, so that by the time we arrived it was already fifteen minutes since the game had begun.

It didn't seem like we could enter the school grounds, so we walked along the perimeter, and very soon came to a field that was surrounded by a barbed fence. The American Football friendly match had already started.

"Wow~ Such a big school field,"

I totally agreed with Asahina-san's awestruck comment. Unlike the North High school field, which was basically a piece of flat land created from the leveling of a hill, a lot of money seems to to have been spent on building this very wide private boy's school sports field. Besides, the place where we were standing was about a story higher than the sports field, giving us a great vantage point. Apart from the five of us, there were some old geezers that would occasionally pass by, and plenty of schoolgirls, which I suspect to be fangirls, squeezing their faces on the wire fence, and cheering away in their high pitched voices for each boy's school.

Listening to the smashing sound of the white and blue jerseys and helmets, the five of us found an empty spot where we could stand alongside in a row.

Nagato remained speechless and didn't give any reaction.

Still silent...

I knew absolutely nothing about American Football. I remember after winning our match in the baseball tournament, Haruhi showed us the application posters for the American Football and soccer tournaments. In the end we entered neither tournament (of course that was after going through many trials and tribulations), but just to be safe, I still went and looked up the rules. It looked simple, but it was quite complicated. Though it wasn't hard to play, it wasn't a sport in which we could just join in if we felt like it.

In fact, just watching the bullfight beyond the fence proved that my choice not to participate was correct.

The offensive side carried an oval-shaped ball that looked like a rugby ball but not quite. In order to progress just one centimeter, the players would have to throw, pass, hold and charge forward simultaneously. In order to stop that ball from going one centimeter into their territory, the opposing defensive side would have to suddenly attack the opponent player holding the ball, struggling to take the ball away from him and obstruct their attacking formation. The sound of their protective pads clashing never stopped.

In general, it was a pretty American sport.


Haruhi clung to the barbed fence and looked intently at the players who were now clustered into a group,

"So, which one is Nakagawa?"

"The one with the number 82 on his back, the white team,"

I said according to the description Nakagawa told me. Nakagawa was the tight end, in which he's positioned at the side of the offensive team's line and was responsible for both blocking the defense and catching passes. Although Nakagawa is big, he's also quick and agile. Hmm, he sure got the right position.

"Huh? Looks like the players could switch positions, why's that?"

"Because the players are divided into the offensive and defensive teams. Nakagawa is in the offensive team."

"They're all wearing helmets, so can they attack using that? How hard can they smash into each other? Can they do Judo throws, or can they use any combat techniques?"

"They can use neither. There's no such allowance, and they can't use their helmets either."


Haruhi looked keenly at the field. There was no American Football team in North High; if there was, this girl would definitely try to find a way to sneak in and wreak havoc. Who knows, she might just be able to achieve something using her instantaneous movement and explosive energy.

"This is such an exhilarating and enthusiastic sport. It's very suitable for winter!"

I listened to Haruhi making her comments while quietly taking a glance at Nagato. She still maintained her empty expression, simply following the ball's movement. To me, she didn't seem to be really paying any particular attention to Nakagawa, but just simply daydreaming.

The five of us just stood there and spent some time watching guys from the boy's schools smashing into each other.

"Um... would you like some tea?"

Asahina-san took a flask and some paper cups out from her bag,

"I thought it might be cold, so I prepared some warm drinks."

The smiling Asahina-san was like an angel! I'm so grateful! It really was getting a bit chilly standing still while watching the game.

And so, we sipped on the excellent tea which was brewed by Asahina-san herself, and watched the American Footballers playing exuberantly in the middle of the chilly breeze.

Just as we were immersed in enjoying our tea while watching the game, the second quarter ended and the half-time break began. Dressed in white, Nakagawa's team gathered at the opposite end of the field. There stood a muscular man that seemed to be the coach yelling loudly at them. Though we couldn't see clearly, we could make out someone wearing a number 82 jersey amongst the team.

As for the match itself, if you really want my opinion, I thought it looked pretty dull. There were no elegant long passes, or running backs dashing for 30 yards across the length of the pitch. Both sides have managed to secure their first downs, and both sides have scored regularly so that the score was still pretty much level, with neither side managing to claim a decent advantage over their opponent.

However, I so happen to know someone who hates things that were dull and boring, and her name is Suzumiya Haruhi.

"I don't think there's any meaning to this at all,"

Standing in the same spot, Haruhi began to mumble. She wasn't alone in breathing out white vapor, as we were all doing the same.

"Those players are better off, at least they get to run around,"

Haruhi said while wrapping herself with her arms to stay warm,

"But it's just too cold for us who are just standing still. Is there a coffee shop nearby?"

The picnic mood seemed to have been blown away by the chilly wind, since Asahina-san's warm tea wasn't served ad infinitum and so we had run out of it quite some time ago now. Even before then, half of Asahina-san's trademark Warm Tea of Love had already been cooled down due to the cold wind, and so didn't do much to help keep the body warm. Not to mention that today saw the arrival of the first wave of a cold-front since winter began. Haruhi wasn't the only one shivering due to the cold, both Asahina-san and myself were frozen stiff as well. Nagato was probably the only person who didn't feel cold, as she feared neither hot nor cold.

"As expected, one can't experience any fun if they're just a spectator. Maybe I should join in and have some fun, I think I could be in charge of throwing the ball,"

Haruhi's bell-sized eyes were now squinted into thin lines thanks to the body-temperature snatching winds,

"Seriously, I'll freeze to death if I stop moving. Kyon, did you bring any good stuff? Like a thermal bag?"

If I had brought that, you think I wouldn't have used that already? If you must warm yourself up, why don't you do a marathon around the school or do some push-ups? It's economical and healthy at the same time.

"Hmph! Fine, since I already have a thermal bag here anyway, and it's a large one as well,"

Haruhi slowly wrapped her arms from behind Asahina-san and held her tiny little neck that looked so fragile as though it's about to break off.

"Kyaa! Wah! Wh... what are you doing?"

That voice of course came from the embarrassed Asahina-san.

"Mikuru-chan, you sure are warm. And soft as well,"

Burying her chin under the snow-like artificial fur on Asahina-san's coat, Haruhi glued herself to the back of Asahina-san and hugged the tiny figure of the upper classman which was well-endowed in one area.

"Just let me be for a while. Hee hee, Kyon, are you feeling envious?"

Of course I am. If I want to hug something so soft and warm, I might as well hug from the front.


Haruhi gave a jestful look,

"Does that mean..."

She seemed to want to say something, but then shut her mouth, and slowly inhaled softly,

"You want to do that to Mikuru-chan?"

I looked at Haruhi's mischievous face, and the wide-eyed face of Asahina-san, who was being wrapped tightly in Haruhi's iron grip. I began to think of an appropriate answer, as I was becoming preoccupied with endless thoughts, my lifeline arrived from behind,

"If you guys don't mind, why don't we hug each other?"

Perhaps wanting to join in our discussion, Koizumi carried a vulgar looking smile and gave his gross suggestion.

"Though running in a marathon is fine, I really don't mind having two guys hugging each other just to stay warm, you know."

But I do. I've said it many times already, I'm not interested in "the other side". Koizumi, all you needed to do is just quietly play your part as the commentator for the game. This is just between me, Nagato and Nakagawa. Your presence here is more or less irrelevant. I might as well say this, but Haruhi and Asahina-san's presence too was irrelevant.

I took a glance at the other side,

"That's not important..."

The important person present - Nagato - remained silent as ever, and simply looked at the field intently. She didn't even move a muscle. It felt as though her eyes were going after Nakagawa, but even I wasn't sure whether her gaze was focused on him.

On the other hand, Nakagawa was the same. As part of the offensive team, whether he was active on the field or resting on the sidelines, he never once looked over to this side. I went through so much trouble to bring Nagato here, and he ignores us completely. Even now, during the half-time intermission, he gathered with the other players in a circle discussing strategy. Has his passion for this game and his desire to win surpassed his pursuit of love?

Or maybe he's doing this on purpose? If what Nakagawa said was true, if he even takes one glance at Nagato, then he would quickly lose himself. I still think he was exaggerating things, but if he's telling the truth, then it'll definitely be bad for his game.

"Ah, whatever,"

I mumbled and looked at the back of Nagato's head, whose short hair fluttered in the wind.

I guess I'll wait till after this match when Nakagawa comes out of his school for him to meet Nagato. At this rate, if the second half goes smoothly and Nakagawa's team wins, then he'll be free as a bird.

Yesterday, Nagato said "I can see him," so it won't be bothersome to arrange for them to meet. Although I didn't want them to meet at all, I also didn't want to be a heartless person who would mercilessly deny other people's hopes and requests. This way I could at least ensure my ears can get some peace.


Unfortunately, things never quite go as one would expect. It was less than five minutes into the third quarter after the whistle signaling the resumption of the match when...

Nakagawa was hauled off in an ambulance.

Allow me to describe how that fellow managed to get himself wounded. Here is what happened:

The second half began with the opponent's turn on the offensive. Their running back had only managed to gain 20 yards and lost possession. Now it was Nakagawa's team's turn to go on the offensive.

Nakagawa was positioned on the edge near the scrimmage line which was tightly watched by both sides. Standing behind the white team's center, their quarterback seems to be making some signals to his teammates. Abruptly, Nakagawa moved from the front lines and towards the side, while at the same moment, carrying the ball, the quarterback retreated two to three steps. The opponent's defensive guards, cornerbacks and linebackers instantly charged forward like wild beasts.

Nakagawa sped up his pacing and cut into the hash marks, spun around and made a fake as though trying to receive a pass. The quarterback then nimbly threw the ball past Nakagawa toward the wide receiver, who was further downfield.


I wasn't sure whether it was Haruhi or Asahina-san that made that cry.

Like a spinning bullet, the ball didn't quite follow its intended trajectory. One of the opposition linebackers leapt forward, but could not quite intercept it. A turnover was barely avoided as the ball hit through his fingertips, but now the ball had changed course after being slowed down forcefully, falling toward a position no one had predicted.

It was in this moment!

I saw Nagato, the near immobile Buddhist statue, begin to make her move.


She placed her fingers on the edge of her hood and pulled it over, covering her face. But the hood did not cover her mouth, and so the sight of her lips chanting rapidly did not escape my attention.


Nagato was definitely chanting something very quickly.

I only saw this from the corner of my eye, as most of my attention was focused on the intense battle on the field.


I instinctively leaned forward, my eyes widening.

This was because I noticed the ball had changed direction, and it was falling toward the spot that Nakagawa was charging towards at an amazing pace. At the center of my gaze, Nakagawa made a dazzling leap, grabbed hold of the ball in mid air, and then attempted to make a safe landing...

...and failed.

At the same time as Nakagawa had leapt up, the opposing cornerback covering him also made a superb leap. He had only one target, and that was the ball which everyone on the pitch see as second only to their lives.

Like a long jump athlete, that cornerback jumped into the air after running for some distance, just as Nakagawa was reaching for the ball. As humans do not possess wings, they could not move around the air as freely as they might wish, and so after the cornerback jumped as strongly as he could, he subsequently went into free fall, crashing right into Nakagawa. The kinetic energy instantly went down to zero. Seeing how both players were flung backwards, one can imagine how huge the impact was.

The opposing cornerback spun 90 degrees and fell to the field on his back; the defenseless Nakagawa, however, spun forward beautifully and landed on his head.


This exclamation came from Asahina-san who looked stunned.

I too gave a cry, as Nakagawa had landed in the worst possible way for a human being. Just like the victims of the Tombstone Piledriver, or the Inugami Clan, he landed with his head first. However, for the wrestler, there was a wrestling platform, for the victim of the Inugami Clan, he at least landed in a swamp, but for Nakagawa, the cold and hard ground received him.

(Yokomizo Seishi - Japanese detective fiction writer, best known for his Kindaichi Kosuke series. The later manga series, Kindaichi Case Files, stars Kindaichi Hajime, the grandson of Kosuke. In one of the Kindaichi Kosuke stories, Inugami Clan (Only Japanese wiki available) - The victim was found with his head buried in the swamp.)

The sound which I dreaded hearing came to our ears a beat after the image was transmitted to our eyes.


It was good that he was wearing a helmet, otherwise judging from that loud thudding noise, I can bet that his skull would certainly be shattered.

The referee blew his whistle and stopped the match. Nakagawa lay there motionless. Nakagawa grabbed the ball tightly as though he was grabbing hold of some precious memento from his family and stopped moving... or rather, he didn't even move a single inch. The atmosphere was so tense it wasn't even funny.

"Is he alright?"

Haruhi asked with a stern look with her face over the fence.


As though watching a gory scene from a horror movie, Asahina-san hid behind Haruhi's shoulder,

"Ah, here comes the stretcher,"

She said in a worrying voice.

Surrounded by his teammates, Nakagawa was now carried up the emergency stretcher and brought away from the field. Despite this, his fingers still clung tightly onto the ball, his never-say-die attitude sure was admirable. If this battle casualty did not inspire Nakagawa's teammates to victory, then I don't believe anything else would.

Lying on the stretcher with his helmet taken off, Nakagawa's situation wasn't as bad as expected. He did respond to the cries from around him, and he nodded to every question that was asked. Though he tried to sit up but fell down again, at least he was still breathing.

"I guess it was a minor concussion,"

Koizumi attempts to explain the situation,

"I guess we don't have to worry too much, as this sort of accident is common in this kind of sport."

You're not a doctor, and you're standing so far away, so don't act like a damn expert. It would be good if you were correct, but the head is very fragile, you know. The coach and consultant teacher seemed just as concerned as I was. A few moments later, the siren of the ambulance could be heard approaching.

"Your friend sure is unlucky,"

Haruhi said with a sigh,

"He wanted to make an impression in front of Yuki but instead got himself injured. I guess he was too eager that he didn't expect things to go wrong."

She seemed rather sympathetic to Nakagawa. Does she really want to arrange for Nakagawa and Nagato to be together? Then how come you were so quick to refuse the Computer Research Group President's request to borrow Nagato?

After hearing me say that, Haruhi replied,

"Kyon, though I personally think love is a kind of disease, I'm not the sort to get in the way of people's pursuit of romance just for the fun of it. After all, everyone's view of happiness is their own,"

I wonder if Nagato should be considered lucky to be loved by Nakagawa?

"Though I may think a person is extremely unlucky, as long as that person thinks she is happy, then she must be happy,"

I shrugged my shoulders and allowed Haruhi's romance philosophy in my left ear and out of my right. I'm sorry, if Asahina-san's boyfriend turns out to be an absolute moron, even if Asahina-san's happy with it, I'm not sure I would be able to wish them the best of luck. In fact, I might even try to stop their relationship from developing any further. But then, I'm sure no one would blame me.

"I hope your friend's all right,"

Asahina-san said and placed her palms together in front of her fur coat. Her prayers looked genuine and were hardly pretentious. That's the sort of nice person she is. With Asahina-san's prayers, even if one were to suffer from bone fractures all over, he would definitely be healed in less than thirty minutes, so Nakagawa's going to be fine.

Finally, the paramedics arrived and placed Nakagawa into the ambulance. They were so careful in handling the stretcher, it's as though they were carrying a box marked "Fragile - Handle with Care".

After placing Nakagawa inside the ambulance and shutting the doors, the sirens begin to sound once again. The ambulance drove off, with the red beacon on top slowly fading into the distance.

Nagato, who was five times more silent than usual today, stared at the departing ambulance with her obsidian-like eyes, as though trying to prove the existence of Redshift with her naked eyes.

So, now what?

Nakagawa's show of affection for Nagato has been called off due to the unexpected withdrawal of its main star, and we have lost any interest in watching the resumed game all the way to the end anymore. As the weather was freezing, and the original objective was now non-existent, there was no longer any reason for us to remain here any longer, since our intended target had now been sent to the hospital.

"We can go to the hospital, too,"

Haruhi made the suggestion,

"If our intended target had gone to the hospital, if we follow him, we can continue this love story. After all, it would make perfect sense for Yuki to be worried and come pay him a visit. Your friend would be grateful as well. Besides, there's heating inside the hospital, right? So what do you think of this idea?"

To be honest, Haruhi's instant idea wasn't bad at all, but I didn't feel like going back to the hospital again. Ever since I met Haruhi, my psychological scars have been increasing.

"Don't you care about your friend? Let me tell you this, when you were carried off in the ambulance, I was worried to death. But that's only because we're friends,"

Haruhi forcefully pulled my hand and said roughly,

"Besides, it was you who started all this trouble this time,"

Walking away from the field with me, Haruhi then stopped again,

"Oh yeah, which hospital did that ambulance go to?"

How the hell should I know?

"Let me check,"

Raising his hand, Koizumi smiled and accepted this task,

"Please wait for a while, it'll take a minute or so,"

After turning his back to us and walking for a few steps, Koizumi pushed a few buttons on his phone and spoke softly, then listened to what the other side said. About a minute later, he hung up and walked towards us with a smile,

"I found out which hospital he was sent to,"

I have no idea which number he called to inquire, but I was pretty sure it wasn't 119.

"It's a hospital we're all very familiar with. I'm sure you all know how to get there without me saying,"

A wave of rememberance came over me, my mind instantly thought of the monotonous dialog, the red apples, and the cheerful smile Koizumi had given me.

"Yes, it's that one. The general hospital which you stayed in before,"

The one whose warden happens to be a friend of your uncle's? I stared at Koizumi. This has got to be a coincidence, otherwise...

"It's a coincidence,"

Noticing my alligator eyes, he began to giggle,

"No, it's true, it really is a coincidence. I was surprised as well, honest."

You don't have to smile so cheerfully. This doesn't change the fact that I still don't trust you.

"Then, let's all head to that hospital! Might as well call a taxi! Since there are five of us, if we divide it between ourselves, the fare ought to be cheap,"

Haruhi quickly began to take charge of the situation.

"Suzumiya-san, I think it's about time we have a meeting for our coming field trip to the snow mountain. These two can take care of the visit, while you, Asahina-san and myself would stay behind to prepare for the trip, how about that? Because we have yet to sort out the departure date, what luggage to bring and other minor details. We won't have much time if we don't take care of these soon."

But after hearing Koizumi's suggestion, Haruhi remained hesitant,

"Huh? Really?"


Koizumi continued his persuasion,

"It's almost New Year's Eve. Organizing a New Year's activity in the snow mountain mansion is a major event. I had wanted to gather the SOS Brigade to meet for the winter field trip today, but I didn't expect this extra event in our itinerary,"

Well, sorry about that.

"Oh no, I don't mean to blame you at all. On the contrary, I should be the one who's apologizing. I'll leave Nagato-san in your hands, so please hurry up and go meet with Nakagawa-san in the hospital. As to what to do there, I'll let you decide the best course of action. I would wait at the usual coffee shop with Suzumiya-san and Asahina-san, you can come there after the visit... Is that fine with you, Suzumiya-san?"

Haruhi remained silent for a while and then said with a frown,

"Hmm, you're right. I wouldn't be much help going to the hospital. And Kyon's friend is only interested in Yuki anyway,"

She looked extremely reluctant,

"Alright, Kyon, you can go visit your friend with Yuki. If he could write such a love letter, he would probably be dancing like wild after looking at Yuki for five seconds."

After that, Haruhi pointed at me and said with a pouting look,

"But remember to report everything in detail to me afterwards! You hear?"

And so, we all took a bus back to our gathering spot. From there, we split into two parties. Nagato and I would ride another bus to the private hospital, while the remaining three would continue to be regular customers of the nearby coffee shop.

Nagato never turned her head around once as we parted ways, but I suddenly had an urge to look back. I saw Haruhi and the others also turning around and looking at us, and Haruhi was also making some sign language with her arms as they went further and further. I didn't delve into what she was implying with that strange body language as I turned back to look at my companion, who had buried herself inside her thick hooded coat.

How should I put this...

To put it simply, the inquiries I had were now wrapped tightly around my heart like barnacles. The first question concerns Nakagawa, who had fallen in love with Nagato at first sight. Why was it that he happened to get injured in the game? The second was in regard to what Koizumi had said to me back at the gathering spot, "You sure do have a lot of extraordinary friends". I was particularly bothered by that word "extraordinary". I would readily admit that I have no friends that possess any weird characteristics; if there were any, then it would have to be Koizumi. Just what did he mean when he said Nakagawa was "extraordinary"?

Another point that cannot be ignored was the mysterious incantation Nagato made. Nakagawa's accident happened just after Nagato had recited her spell. Even a dull person, as long as he has memory of such events, would be able to link these two together. As someone who could make a stand-in batter like me make three consecutive home runs, Nagato was capable of doing such a thing.


Nagato buried her face within the hood of her coat and said nothing, but very soon the answer would be revealed.

Upon inquiring at reception, we learned that Nakagawa had completed his treatment and had been transferred to his ward. Though his injury was minor, he still needed to be hospitalized for further observation. I walked with Nagato, who followed me like a ghost possessing its host, and entered the corridor leading towards the ward that the receptionist had indicated.

After a few steps, we had arrived before the ward. Nakagawa was staying in a six-person room.

"Nakagawa, you okay?"

"Hey Kyon!"

My former classmate wore a light blue hospital gown and was lying on the bed. Nakagawa's face looked vaguely familiar to me; he still has his crew cut. He sat up straight like a panda who just woke up from his nap.

"You came just in time, I just finished my treatment. The doctor said I still need to stay for one night just to make sure. I probably injured my neck when I fell, that was why I felt like throwing up. Fortunately the doctor said it was just a minor concussion. I gave the coach a call as well, telling him I would be out by tomorrow, so they don't need to come and see me..."

As he seems immersed in talking non-stop, he suddenly noticed the ghost that was standing behind me, and his eyes widened as a result,

"I, is that... c, could it possibly be..."

It's not possibly, it's definitely,

"This is Nagato. Nagato Yuki. I thought it'd cheer you up, so I brought her along."


"I'm Nakagawa!"

He roared as he introduced himself,

"Naka as in Nakahara Chuya, and Gawa as in Kawamura (note: the "k" in kawa becomes hardened to a "g" when preceded with another word in front so it's not a typo)! My name is Nakagawa! I wish to be friends with you!"

He said reverentially like a daimyo meeting his shogun for the first time.

"Nagato Yuki."

Without any cheerfulness in her voice, she plainly reported her name. She didn't take off her hooded coat, she even kept her hood on her head. I couldn't take it any longer, so I flicked that hood that was covering her face over to her back. After coming all the way to see him, it'd be a pity if she left without even showing her face.

Nagato remained silent, but simply stared at Nakagawa, who was looking stunned. After about ten seconds,

"Huh? ...Ah~"

Nakagawa was the first to change his expression, he gave a surprised look,

"You're... Nagato-san, right?"

"Yes." Nagato replied.

"Were you the one that Kyon walked with early in spring this year...?"


"The one that often goes to the supermarket before the station...?"


"Really... is that so..."

Nakagawa's face became sullen. I would have thought he would cry tears of joy or would be so moved that he would faint, but it was neither. Instead the atmosphere was now becoming unexpectedly stiff.

Nagato was now looking at Nakagawa with eyes that seemed to be observing the immobile flatfish in an aquarium; at the same time I also noticed that Nakagawa was looking at Nagato as though staring at a manhole cover on the road.

These two individuals had gotten into a staring battle all of a sudden. Very soon, one of them showed signs of frailty. As expected, Nakagawa was the first to move his eyes away.


Though Nakagawa spoke softly, I guess the other patients in the ward could all hear him clearly, but only I could see him moving his fingers discreetly, gesturing me to come over to him.

"What is it?"

"There's something... er, I need to talk about it with you alone. So... could you please... ask..."

Seeing as how he kept looking at Nagato, I understood at once. He wanted to tell me something, but didn't want Nagato to hear it.

I turned towards Nagato...

"Is that so?"

There was no way the two of them could be telepathically linked, yet Nagato gracefully turned, walking out of the ward at the pace of a luggage conveyor belt.

Once the door was shut, Nakagawa breathed a sigh of relief,

"That girl... is that really Nagato-san? Is that her?"

I don't think I've had the fortune to encounter Nagato's imposter yet. Though I've seen her behaving in a completely different way before, but that's all in the past now.

"You should be happy," I said, "Your future bride ten years from now has come to see you, can't you at least pretend to be moved?"

"Umm... hmmmm,"

Nakagawa mumbled and nodded his head,

"That's Nagato-san... alright. No doubt about it. That was neither a twin sister nor a doppelganger."

What the hell are you trying to say? Don't go telling me that she isn't Nagato just because she isn't wearing glasses. Haven't you seen Nagato recently yourself? Nagato had already heeded my request back then and stopped wearing glasses since. I'm not accepting any lame excuse like you having a fetish for glasses and so can't accept Nagato now, I'm telling you.

"No, that's not it!"

Nakagawa lifted his head, his face looked troubled,

"I don't know how to say this... please let me think, Kyon. I'm sorry..."

Nakagawa then sat on the bed and began groaning. Has he bumped his brains out after all? His reaction was totally unexpected. There was no point talking to him. No matter what I said, he would just reply with an "hmm", as though trying to think seriously on something. In the end, he even clutched his head as though having a headache. I didn't have the patience to play with him forever, so I decided to leave the ward,

"Nakagawa, I'll have to ask you for the details later. I can't give her a reasonable reply like this..."

My report for Haruhi would have to wait as well. If I told her what had happened, she would simply glare at me.

Exiting the ward, I found Nagato leaning against the wall waiting for me. Her dark bead-like eyes turned towards me, and then turned to the floor.

Exiting the ward, I found Nagato leaning against the wall waiting for me.
Exiting the ward, I found Nagato leaning against the wall waiting for me.

"Let's go,"

Nodding her head slightly, Nagato resumed her role as my personal ghost and obediently walked behind me.

Just what was going on?

Like a tiger beetle, I walked ahead of Nagato, who remained silent all along, and hurried towards the bus stop.

The scene that followed at the coffee shop was a scene most of you are familiar with. Haruhi laid out her plans for the winter vacation and chattered away, Koizumi nodded with mechanical efficiency, Asahina-san slowly sipped her Darjeeling tea, I wore the look of being at a loss on what to do, while Nagato played her role of the silent listener without any opinions from beginning to end.

The bill was evenly divided amongst us in the end, and so today's SOS Brigade activity had come to a conclusion. When I arrived home, what awaited me was...

"Kyon-kun! You came back just in time, you've got a phone call..."

My sister held out the cordless phone in one hand, while she carried Shamisen with her other arm and smiled at me. I received both the phone and Shamisen and proceeded to enter my room.

As expected, that call was from Nakagawa.

"I really don't know how to say this..."

For everyone's information, this call was made from the hospital's pay-phone. Nakagawa's voice indeed revealed something that seemed hard to say,

"Can you please relay a message, that I would like to cancel my wedding appointment?"

He sounded like one of those medium to small-sized corporate presidents begging for a postponement in payment of their ever increasing debts.

"Care to tell me why?"

While I sounded like a creditor in a very bad mood towards a hapless business owner,

"You went to describe your dream of living together as a happy couple all on your own, and now you're saying you want to give up after just one day? Then what was the meaning of all this yearning for these past few months? You're saying you've changed your mind after meeting Nagato? If you don't give me a very good reason, you can forget about me relaying the message for you."

"I'm sorry. I'm not even sure I understand myself..."

Nakagawa's apology seemed sincere...

"When she rushed to the hospital to see me, I was very happy and grateful that she did. But unlike before, Nagato-san this time didn't have those illuminated rings or aura about her. She just seemed like a normal girl one would find anywhere in the streets. No, she was a normal girl no matter how I looked at her. As to why she became like that, even I find it hard to explain."

My mind came up with Nagato making an expression that says, life is unpredictable.

"Kyon, since then I've been thinking seriously, and have finally come to a conclusion. I was deeply in love with Nagato-san in the past, but now I don't feel any affection towards her. That means I must have got it wrong in the first place."

What do you mean you got it wrong?

"I made a mistake. It wasn't love at first sight. Now that I think about it, there's no such thing as love at first sight. And yet I've been mistaken, thinking that's what my feeling was."

Okay. Then what were your claims of having seen Nagato engulfed in a white angelic halo, and going through a feeling of being struck by lightning all about? How do you explain the amazing fact that you would be frozen stiff at the sight of Nagato?

"I really don't know,"

Nakagawa's voice sounded so apologetic that he sounds as though he was begging for the weather forecast for the next hundred years,

"I haven't got a clue. The only explanation I can think of is that it has all been a hallucination..."

"Oh really?"

Though I sounded rude, I didn't intend to blame Nakagawa at all. In fact, I wasn't surprised. Because things didn't go beyond my expectations. When I first heard Nakagawa rave about his delusions, I had already guessed what this was all about.

"Alright, Nakagawa. I'll relay the message for Nagato. I'm sure she wouldn't be too disappointed, since she never really gave a thought to you in the first place. She'll probably forget about you in an instant."

I could hear a breath of relief through the phone.

"Really? If that's true, then thank goodness. Otherwise I really wouldn't know how to apologize to her. My nerves must have gone haywire back then."

That has to be it. There's no doubt about it, Nakagawa's nerves weren't functioning properly at all back then. But they're all back to normal now. Someone must have cast a restoration spell on him, perhaps?

I then had a short chat with Nakagawa, until his phone card was running out of credit, and we said goodbye. It was good that way, as we may yet meet again.

After hanging up, I quickly called another number,

"Are you free to come out now?"

I arranged a time and location for the person on the other side of the phone, then picked up my scarf and coat. Shamisen, who was lying sprawled out on my coat, got rolled off onto the carpet where he looked at me with a scowl.

After a busy day yesterday, today, which was just as hectic, was soon coming to an end.

I pedaled on my bike and headed towards that holy ground for peculiar people, the park in front of the station near Nagato's apartment complex. Nagato had called me out to meet her there back in the beginning of May. When I traveled with Asahina-san back in time to Tanabata three years ago, I also woke up in that place. And recently, when I went back in time for the second time, I was sitting right there with the grown-up version of Asahina-san. All these past memories came flooding back to my head.

I rode near the entrance of the park and parked my bike there, and then walked towards the park.

Sitting on the park bench full of memories waiting for me was a person wrapped in a hooded coat like one of those Jawas. Under the illumination of the street lamp, she looked as though she had emerged from the darkness itself.


I said to the little figure that was looking at me,

"Sorry for calling you out all of a sudden. It's just like what I told you over the phone, Nakagawa's changed his mind."

Nagato stood up naturally and nodded her head slightly, she then said,

"I see."

I gazed at Nagato's pitch black eyes,

"Isn't it time you tell the whole truth now?"

As I came rushing over by bike in the fastest speed possible, my body still felt warm, so I could still stand like this in the middle of a chilly night for a little longer,

"I can understand Nakagawa falling in love with you at first sight, since everyone has their preferences. But the way he changed his mind today was just too unnatural. Not to mention after today's game... after Nakagawa got injured and was sent to hospital, all the affection he had for you had disappeared, so I'm guessing that his injury was not a coincidence,"


"Were you pulling any strings? I know you did something during the match. It was you who let Nakagawa get injured, right?"


After replying swiftly, Nagato lifted her head to face me, and then said,

"The one whom he had fallen for was not me."

Her tone was so plain it sounds like she's reciting an essay,

"What he had seen was not me, but the Integrated Data Sentient Entity instead."

I silently listened, while Nagato continued in the same expressionless tone,

"He had the extra-sensory ability to interact with the Integrated Data Sentient Entity using me as an interface."

I could feel the cold wind biting my ears.

"However, he did not understand what he had just seen. Humans are organic lifeforms after all, and are thus on a totally different recognition level from the Integrated Data Sentient Entity."

..."A glowing aura behind her back... as holy and pure as the heavens shining upon the earth..." That was what Nakagawa had said.

Nagato continued her explanation without showing any emotions,

"He must have seen the culmination of aeons of knowledge that has transcended time and space. Even though the data that he had extracted from the interface was very insignificant, it was enough to overwhelm him."

And that was why he got it wrong... right? I looked at Nagato's messy hair and sighed. The "inner character" that Nakagawa felt was merely just a part of the Integrated Data Sentient Entity. While I didn't completely understand it, Nagato's boss is a powerful existence that possesses an enormous history and knowledge well beyond the grasp of humanity. It now became clear why Nakagawa, who had accidentally stumbled upon this knowledge, became so disoriented. It's just like unwittingly opening an attachment that carries a malicious program, eventually your computer would be hijacked and there is nothing you can do about it.

"So that's why Nakagawa would mistakenly think that he had fallen in love?"


"So... you decided to amend his feelings during the football game?"

In place of a spoken reply, the messy haired bowl head nodded and then said,

"I analyzed the powers that he possesses, and then had them deleted."

Nagato continued,

"The capacity of a human brain is too small to connect with the Integrated Data Sentient Entity. I foresaw that he would continue to behave in such a way if left unattended."

This I understood. Putting aside Nakagawa's reaction of going into a trance upon seeing Nagato, just the fact that he has waited for nearly half a year before telling me his plans for the next ten years was proof that his brain has been short circuited. If he was allowed to go on like that, who knows how crazy he would get. I shuddered just thinking about it.

Yet, there was something else I didn't understand.

"Why did Nakagawa have such powers? Was he born with the ability to see the Integrated Data Sentient Entity through you?"

"He probably began possessing such powers three years ago."

Three years ago again? The reason Nagato, Asahina-san and Koizumi are here was all because of something that happened three years ago. Or to be precise, something Haruhi caused to happen...

At this point, I realized one thing.

The extra-sensory ability that Nagato had mentioned. If that's what it was... I get it now. Who knows, Nakagawa could probably be a back-up esper to Koizumi. In spring three years ago, Haruhi indeed did something. She caused a temporal faultline to appear, created a data explosion, and gave birth to espers around the world. If that's the case, then it wouldn't be surprising if Nakagawa were to replace Koizumi as the esper by her side. Koizumi's enigmatic sentence now made perfect sense. Whether he already knew, or just happened to find out about it these past two days, that fellow must have realized Nakagawa possessed some semi-esper powers. That was why he implied that I had a lot of "extraordinary" friends.

"It is possible." Nagato said.

Or it could be... I felt a shiver that had nothing to do with cold weather. Not everything can be traced back to that single incident three years ago. Haruhi might still have the ability to influence other people in a supernatural way even now. Just like allowing the cherry blossoms to bloom in autumn, turning all the pigeons' feathers in the shrine to white overnight. She's still spreading her influence to the people around her to this day.


Nagato stood there motionless without answering me, or maybe she has said everything she wanted to say and began to walk off. She slowly went past me, who was also standing motionless, and began to go back into the darkness, like a wandering ghost about to ascend into the realm beyond...

"Wait, can I ask you just one more question?"

Nagato's silhouette gave me an impression that was hard to describe, I instinctively called and stopped her.

Claiming to fall in love with Nagato at first sight, and coming up with an extremely embarrassing love letter, Nakagawa was, according to my knowledge, the first person to declare his love for Nagato. After hearing me recite his wedding proposal yesterday, what was going on in her mind? Someone came to declare his sincere love for you, telling you "I love you, let's make a happy future together", but after a whole day, it turns out that he was just mistaken. Just how did you feel about that?

The questions in my heart finally formed into words and came out of my mouth,

"Don't you find it a pity?"

In the past few months since we met, I've shared many memories with Nagato. Though I've also shared memories with Haruhi, Asahina-san and Koizumi, I found that I've experienced more events with Nagato in particular. In fact, every situation seems to involve her. I might as well mention this, she's probably the only person to cause the bell within me to shake the most vigorously. No matter what happens, Haruhi would always find a way out, Asahina-san only needs to remain as herself, while Koizumi can go to hell for all I care, but...

I finally couldn't resist asking a question which I've been dying to ask,

"When you realized that his confession was all just a misunderstanding, did you feel any pity about it?"


Nagato stopped, and sort of turned her face towards me. A sudden wind blew by and covered Nagato's face with her hair.

The night wind was so cold as though it could slice off my ears. After waiting for a while, a tiny voice travelled through the wind and into my ears,

"...A little bit."

Charmed at First Sight LOVER End

Return to Main Page Back to Asahina Mikuru's Adventure Episode 00 Forward to Where did the Cat Go?
Personal tools