Suzumiya Haruhi:Volume6 The Melancholy of Asahina Mikuru

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The Melancholy of Asahina Mikuru

Even though many incidents happened during winter break, it more or less turned out to be as I expected, just like getting nothing in return after purchasing a lottery ticket. As I reluctantly trudged through the cold, I silently blamed the school's lame construction as it made the already freezing temperature seem even colder.

Trying not to suspect the cold of being a top-secret counter-measure made to combat global warming, I tried to fix my eyes elsewhere, but they so happened to land on the classroom's malfunctioning heater, making me wonder if our classroom was actually colder than the north pole itself. Thinking about how I would have to suffer the same fate until I graduated from high school, I was embarrassed at myself for not choosing a better school. But alas, what could I do? I was already stuck at North High.

After school, having nothing better to do, I once again made my way to the clubroom.

Originally belonging to the literature club, the club room had, during the past year, slowly morphed into the SOS Brigade's official headquarters (although I'm not sure "official" is the right word to use). Just like a mother bird gradually forgetting about its own young and treating a cuckoo's baby as its own, the whole school seemed to have forgotten about the literature club's existence. Added to the fact that the sole literature club member didn't mind us occupying her club room, even I wasn't bothered by it much anymore, never mind Haruhi.

No matter how you looked at it, this was the only place I could go after school hours. Although I did intend to skip club activities once in a while, the thought of a certain girl sitting behind me trying to drill holes in my back with her killer intent fired through high intensity vision beams was enough to vanquish any attempt of any kind. It simply wasn't worth the risk. However, I wasn't sure if I was making the right choice, or merely the easy one.

With those thoughts in mind, I instinctively knocked on the door, having arrived at the club room without even knowing it. If I were to enter without first knocking, there was a good chance I would be greeted with a sight as beautiful as heaven to behold. However, I'd rather make that small, often insignificant gesture, in order to ensure something like that doesn't ever happen again.

Under normal circumstances, I would often be answered with a soft "Yes," as the door was slowly opened by my smiling sempai, whose appearance was angelic to say the least. She was so beautiful she could easily pass as a fairy, pixie or elf in disguise. Waiting for her to open the door was an after-school ritual that I had comfortably gotten used to.


There was no answer. Hence it was safe to conclude that there were no fairies, pixies, elves or smiling board game freaks in the club room. Even if there were someone inside, it would be the silent book-lover. Not even Haruhi was inside. This I was willing to wager my most prized possession, second only to my life, on.

Having reached this conclusion, I boldly opened the door, as if opening the door to the refrigerator in my house.

Of course, Haruhi wasn't inside, nor Koizumi, and to my surprise, not even Nagato.


Asahina-san was.

Her hot figure was impossible to conceal under that maid outfit, as she sat on one of those steel folding chairs, holding her broom in one hand, and wearing a look that suggested that she was spacing out. There was no doubt, it was our beloved Asahina-san all right.

...she sat on one of those steel folding chairs, holding her broom in one hand, and wearing a look that suggested that she was spacing out
...she sat on one of those steel folding chairs, holding her broom in one hand, and wearing a look that suggested that she was spacing out

Wait, something wasn't right.

She was totally oblivious of me entering the club room, as she sat there gazing into space, occasionally letting out a sigh or two. It was simply amazing. Even simple gestures like that could be watched over and over on tape, and still be equally beautiful.

I admired the beautiful scene before me for a full minute, before I proceeded to wake her up.


The desired effect was instantaneous.

"Eh? Ah? Ah! Yes!"

Jumping up from her seat, Asahina-san looked at me with eyes full of surprise, as she tightly clutched her broom in a half sitting position.

"Ahhhh, Kyon-kun.... When did you arrive?"

What do you mean when, I clearly remember I knocked.

"Eh, d-did you? I d-didn't hear it at all...... S-sorry."

Asahina-san's face turned a deep shade of pink, as she nervously answered my question. "Umm... I was thinking about some... ehh.... stuff..."

Asahina-san hurriedly stuffed the broom into a utility closet Haruhi nicked not too long ago, before raising her head to face me. The expression she wore was also fantastic! Anything she did was fantastic! Asahina-san banzai! If it weren't for me constantly reminding myself not to, I would have surely rushed forward and cuddled her in my arms, which is what I've always wanted to do. Well, what are you waiting for then? Just do it! Nay, hold on a second, try to think about what would happen to both you and the world... Just as the war between the angels and demons in my mind was fast coming to a conclusion---

"Where's Suzumiya-san? Isn't she with you?"

Those miserably short sentences were enough to bring me back to reality. Oh crap, I had almost caused another major disaster, one that involved the fate of the world. Again. Pretending as if nothing had happened, which was partially true after all, I calmly placed my bag on the desk.

"That girl's in charge of class duty today. She's probably sweeping the auditorium right now."

"I see..."

As if uninterested in Haruhi's current whereabouts, Asahina-san once again closed her cherry lips.

Even though I wasn't really good at guessing Asahina-san's thoughts, I could clearly tell something was different with today's Asahina-san. The time-traveler would usually welcome me into the club room with a smile as bright as a flower in the sun (of course, most of the glow was due to my imagination), along with her clear, hazel eyes and soft, silky hair, while giving out an aura of absolute sweetness. Today, however, she radiated a sense of melancholy.

With the words "troubled" clearly written all over her face, Asahina-san stood there looking at me, her hands twirling furiously in her lap, as if she had to convey an extremely difficult message. Sadly, it wasn't due to her being unable to confess her love towards me. I've only seen this Asahina-san once, and it didn't take long for the memory to once again resurface. This was the same expression Asahina-san wore when she unexpectedly begged me to follow her (for the first time) to the past, or more specifically, to the 7th of July three years ago, the day of the Tanabata Festival.

Half a year had passed since then, and while Asahina-san has grown even cuter, I unfortunately remain that idiot who always succumbs to a woman's charm. Although I knew that this had more-or-less something to do with Haruhi or the current state of the SOS Brigade, I consoled myself yet again by saying "Oh never mind, that isn't so bad either". No matter what Asahina-san said, I would never remain startled for too long, never mind refuse her offer.

As I was busy trying to imprint Asahina-san's red maid outfit as my homework, it appeared that she finally made up her mind, as she opened her round lips and said:

"K-kyon-kun, I-I have a favor to ask..."


The door to the club room softly opened, as if trying to make the least amount of noise as possible. With a swish~ it slowly slid open. I instinctively turned my head backwards, only to see the short-haired, poker-faced girl silently enter the room.

Like an android, Nagato proceeded to close the door.


Taking a swift glance at me and Asahina-san, it seemed that Nagato understood that she was intruding. Nevertheless, she said nothing and merely headed to her regular seat.

With her face devoid of any emotion, Nagato sat on her chair before pulling out a large hardcover from her bag. If she had shown any interest in me and Asahina-san staring face-to-face in an empty club room, it was far outweighed by that book which would be better off being called an encyclopedia, the title alone being enough to give anyone a headache.

Let's just ignore the fact of who reacted first. Asahina-san's actions would always be larger than mine, and consequently, more obvious.

"A-Ah, that's right. Tea. Let me make some tea."

As if wanting the entire world to know what she was about to do, Asahina-san deliberately raised her voice as she stumbled towards the kettle.

"Water, water."

Cradling the kettle in her arms, Asahina-san hurriedly opened the door to the refrigerator.

"Kyaa~ We're out of water... Not to worry, I'll go fetch some."

I stopped her, just as she was about to hurry out of the club room.

"Let me help you with that"

I stretched out my hand to retrieve the kettle from my senpai.

"It's already cold enough outside. Should you step out in that outfit, you'd inevitably poison other students' eyes. There's no need to provide free eye candy for anyone. The water fountain's just downstairs. I'll just go and get it..."

Upon hearing this, Asahina-san immediately said:

"A-ah, then I'll go with you."

Asahina-san looked at me with eyes like those of a cat being left alone in the rain. She is so cute! Cuteness aside, however, this was also quite a troubling situation. Even now Asahina-san is still not accustomed to being alone with Nagato-san. Someone should definitely break the ice between them. But come to think of it, having both an alien and a time-traveler co-exist together in a small club room was already quite an amazing feat. I suppose it all boils down to who's involved, huh?

Seeing that Asahina-san would rather follow me to fetch some water rather than stay in the club room alone with Nagato, I could find no reason to refuse her, even if I were to dig all the way to the Mohorovicic discontinuity to search for one. Of course, if it were Haruhi then things would be different. Heck, there wouldn't be any need to dig at all – all the reasons would come spewing out faster than an unearthed oil fountain. Luckily Haruhi wasn't around, or else I would probably suffer another series of mechanical pencil jabs.

With the kettle safely in my arms, I hummed to myself as I considered which route I should take to the water fountain. I finally decided to take the path to the Old Block, when...

"Ah...... Wait for me..."

Still clad in her maid uniform, Asahina-san stumbled along, like a young cat stubbornly clinging on to its mother.

Walking side by side with Asahina-san, I felt a sense of pride swelling up within me. Although it wasn't me who gave Asahina-san that perfect figure, those angelic features, or her charming personality, as far as I know, I was the only one to have ever been so close to her. Ahaha, what joy!

Too busy feeling pleased with myself, I totally forgot all about Asahina-san's melancholy. That's why—


Just as I started filling the kettle with water—

"Are you free this Sunday? There's a place I would like to visit with you."

Asahina-san's tone was dead serious. At the same time, I was so shocked by her statement that no modern calculating device could determine the exact value of my surprise. For a moment, I totally forgot what day today was, and how many days it would take to reach Sunday. After much effort, I finally managed to croak out......


Even if I had something to do this Sunday, at Asahina-san's invitation, all the red markings on my calendar had magically disappeared. Even if she requested we meet on the 29th of February, I would still be there. Who cares about something as trivial as a leap year?

"Yeah, I guess I'm kinda free."

After forcing out those words, shrouds of mist began to slowly rise in my heart.

--- Haven't I heard this somewhere before?

But then again, at that time we were traveling to three years ago. Time travel gets kinda boring after a while, you know? Sure, it may seem fun at first, but frequently hopping from past to future and vice versa, one has to wonder if one's appetite grows larger after time travel.

"Please don't worry."

Asahina-san had subconsciously picked up the kettle, and had started playing with it. Her eyelids were drooping, as she casually watched the flow of tap water.

"This time I'm not going to the past, nor the future. Actually, all I wanted was to get some tea leaves from the local supermarket. Kyon-kun, would you care to accompany me?"

Asahina-san then proceeded to reduce her voice to barely audible levels, and placed her index finger on her cherry lips.

"Keep this a secret from everyone...... Okay?"

My chest once again swelled with pride, filled with so much confidence that I reckon I would still be able to tell a straight out lie after a full dose of Veritaserum.

The days, hours, minutes and even seconds that soon followed never felt longer. Why is it that the more you stare at the clock, the slower it moves, as if intentionally mocking you? Could it have, by any chance, decided to take a holiday while I wasn't looking? Even shaking the clock with my hands didn't seem to speed up the movement of the accursed second hand. I finally realized how powerless we humans truly were subjected to the slow passing of time, as our dull and tasteless life slowly drifts by.

Nevertheless, this was the first time I had an ordinary, time-unrelated outing with a time traveler, for the sole purpose of purchasing tea leaves. Now I'd been thinking these past couple of days (since there was obviously no better way of passing time). I didn't think Asahina-san was one to have any problems doing the shopping all by herself, and she definitely wasn't so indecisive as to need help deciding what brand of tea leaves to buy. Even if she bought the worst tea leaves available in the market and produced a cup of totally horrible tea, I would probably still enjoy it. And the rest of the SOS Brigade wasn't that picky either.

If so, what did Asahina-san invite me out for? And why so mysteriously?

A boy and a girl, of similar age, walking together on a Sunday.

That is to say, would that be what normal humans consider a date? Hmm, I can't think of any other explanation. Yeah, it's a date alright, just as I thought. Choosing tea leaves was just an excuse, after all. Aww, you didn't need to be so mysterious. Couldn't you have just told me right then? No, wait, this is how it should be. Otherwise, it wouldn't be Asahina-san.

With those thoughts in mind, Sunday finally came.

I pedalled my bike furiously as I sped towards the agreed meeting spot before the train station. My trusty bike seemed to understand how I felt, as even without a motor, the pedals spun shockingly fast. This was probably the first time I had looked forward to a meeting ever since I joined the SOS Brigade, because this was an extremely ordinary outing. The destination was not a sealed space with blue giants, the tickets weren't tickets to the future, and the mode of transport definitely wasn't a UFO.

Unless the one waiting before the station was the elder version of Asahina-san, with that secretive smile that screamed of a hidden motive, now that would be a different story.

No matter how you look at it, I'm still a high school student with a moderate amount of intelligence. Thanks to that and my past few experiences, I could more or less predict how the future would turn out. Asahina-san (big) was no exception. She would appear whenever I got the feeling that she would. So even if she showed up today, I would not be surprised....

"No way!"

I forcefully parked my bike in the shade of the power poles, before proceeding to lecture myself.

Even my thoughts had become biased! If things carried on like this, even if something did happen, I'd still remain perfectly calm. And that wasn't good, either. The only person who can stare something weird in the face and remain perfectly calm is someone who's missing a few screws in his brain. I want to be a normal person, or at least someone who's mentally sane! Although it may already be too late for that, I should at least smile when it's the time to smile. Now was definitely one of those moments.

So, I tried my best, and forced myself to smile.

The Asahina-san standing at the usual SOS Brigade meeting spot today was none other than my favorite version of Asahina-san.

Standing amidst a busy crowd, she waved furiously at me with that tiny, lily hand of hers. That pose was enough to melt anyone's heart.

Sporting a simple yet elegant outfit, with a different hairstyle, she was like a girl trying eagerly to blossom into womanhood. Seeing such a change in her, I was moved to the point of tears.

Faced with an elegantly dressed Asahina-san, I hastily pulled my bike to a halt, and revealed a Koizumi-style smile, which I had rehearsed over and over in the mirror.

"Sorry I'm late."

Although there was still 15 minutes till the agreed time.

"It's okay......"

Asahina-san breathed a sigh of relief, as she lowered her gaze to the ground.

"I just arrived too."

That was followed with a smile.

"Alright, let's get going!"

Asahina-san stepped forward, as her hair gently bobbed up and down.

Looking at Asahina-san with her hair tied up, an indescribable feeling slowly welled up in my heart. I was like one of those loyal knights in your typical RPGs, with a sworn duty to protect a princess who had to flee the palace due to inner conflict in the royal court and wander all over the world.

Asahina-san's tiny footsteps, coupled with her childlike features, made me wonder, was she really a year older than me? Her footsteps could easily compare to my sister's, and to top it off, she was still very young-looking. Looking down at her small footsteps, an urge to protect her swelled up in my chest, so much so that I feared that if she turned back to look at me with those big, round eyes of hers, even she would feel uncomfortable.

I mean, every single one of my actions was different compared to my usual self. Being cooped up in a small, awkward room together with the eccentric Haruhi, smiling Koizumi and silent Nagato, my actions were usually half-hearted and often chaotic. Now, there was only Asahina-san and me. Better still, no one knew about it. The tyrannical brigade commander, the reliable alien, and even the esper weren't here. This was quite the change.

I really wanted to announce this at the top of my lungs: Deciding to go out with Asahina-san alone is the best decision I have ever made in my life!

To tell you the truth, I was happy. Very happy. Walking side by side with one of North High's most beautiful students, even if someone chucked my Purple Diploma into the gutter, I would still not feel any sense of regret, seeing that the diploma was issued by a country that wasn't renowned for literature anyway.

We were headed to the mall near the train station.

Sometimes, having nothing better to do, I would accompany my family here to do the shopping. This mall mostly sold food and apparel, and it also had a large bookstore inside. However, that was Nagato's field of specialty, not mine. As I expected, Asahina-san took me to the lower level, where the food was sold.

Beyond a row of shining ATMs was the store we were headed to. Specializing in dealing nothing but tea leaves, the racks inside were filled with all sorts of different kinds.

"Good afternoon."

At the sound of Asahina-san's cute greeting, the shop owner's face immediately cracked a smile that resembled bitumen melting on a hot summer's day.

"Welcome, thanks for visiting us again."

It seems that Asahina-san had already become a regular at this shop, and was on friendly terms with the shop owner.

"Ehh... Which type should I buy?"

Asahina-san muttered to herself, while surveying the different type of tea leaves printed on a large poster hanging by the wall, complete with their corresponding names and prices.

Of course, my knowledge of tea leaves was less than Asahina-san's, so I was unable to give her any suggestions. I stood silently by her side as I inhaled the different aromas and fragrances of the various tea leaves, my nose itching wildly in the process.

Turning serious at the topic of tea leaves, Asahina-san discussed with the shop owner the various methods of brewing tea, from the amount of leaves to the time required. I stood there listening, with nothing much to do or say, like a scarecrow after harvest.

The only one who ever gave any comments on Asahina-san's tea was me. Haruhi would usually down the entire cup in a single gulp, probably not even noticing whether it was tea or not, while I can't even confirm if Nagato has any taste buds or not. Koizumi rarely voices his opinion on any matter anyways, so the only one left was me.

I had already sworn that I would drink any tea that Asahina-san prepared, even if it was a silver goblet of hemlock. Seeking aid right after drinking should allow me to live to tell the tale. Most importantly, Asahina-san's feelings would not be hurt.

Seeing that I had no advice to offer whatsoever, I continued to stand idly by the door, playing the role of Asahina-san's chaperone. It was not until Asahina-san finally made her decision and bought the type known as "High-classed-goddess" or something that I finally stopped standing guard like a sentry.

"It's such a rare chance that we get to come out together---"

Asahina-san looked at me with even politer eyes than usual.

"Do you want to come in and drink some tea? The dango they serve here is quite tasty. We could ask the shop owner to help brew the tea leaves we just bought earlier......"

Even by the time all the hydrogen in the sun had been consumed and turned into helium, I would still be unable to find a reason to refuse her offer. In a simple shop like this, it was surprising that tables and chairs were prepared, as if telling me to come in and sit down. Without a second thought, I followed Asahina-san into the store and sat down, as the aroma of freshly brewed tea soon filled my nostrils.

There was one thing which I greatly missed.

Asahina-san seemed to care a lot about the time, as she frequently shot glances at her watch, unable to calm down and enjoy her tea. Her actions, however, didn't seem deliberate, and it was as if she was trying to hide it from me. My apologies, Asahina-san, but no matter how much you try to hide it, I can still notice. Because apart from looking at the time, you seem to be sighing every time you glance at your watch. Something must be bothering her.

"The dango here is tasty, and the tea is also sweet smelling, just as expected from Asahina-san. Hmm... this is really delicious."

Even so, I pretended not to notice Asahina-san's nervousness. I really must desist from praising myself for being such a kind and thoughtful soul. Oops, I'm sorry. Is it already too late?


Asahina-san took a bite from her dango, before glancing at her watch again.

I suddenly had a bad feeling, like the calm before the storm.

That's right; this whole ordeal was fishy from the start. The fact that I was going out with one of the top three beauties in North High, who, even in that cute winter outfit, failed to conceal that hot body beneath it, would be enough to propel anyone to the roof of the school hostel and yell about it at the top of their lungs.

I drank my cup of tea, and as the hot fluid slowly flowed down my digestive system, my suspicion began to grow thicker and thicker.

There must be a catch.

My analysis of past experiences and data has proven that the only upperclassman in the SOS Brigade, Asahina Mikuru-san, is indeed a time traveler. She was sent here from the future for some reason, which unfortunately remains classified information. As for how she became the SOS Brigade's official mascot, well, that was all due to Haruhi's tyrannical ways. It definitely has nothing to do with her original assignment.

That's right. Observing Haruhi is her official assignment. She's also in charge of bringing me to the past and the future, in order to trigger future events or to clean up the mess my past self has unknowingly created. Those were the assignments her superiors gave her. No matter how you think of it, that more or less resembles her true mission.

So the question is, was today's date an assignment too? Was the whole tea leaves choosing business meant to camouflage the true purpose of events that were about to happen? Did Asahina-san know from the very start? Come to think of it, that expression on her face kinda gave everything away......

After finishing our dango, Asahina-san insisted on paying on her own.

"It's okay, since it was me who asked you out in the first place."

Even so, I can't let you spend so easily.

"It's really alright. You treat us every time anyway."

That's because that idiot Haruhi made a self-proclaimed rule that the last one to arrive would be the one who would treat the entire brigade to a meal, and, for some unknown reason, the last person to arrive is always me. In the end, I was the one to settle the bill, something you don't see outside the SOS Brigade. Today was different, though, and maybe it was due to the rare chance that the both of us got to go out alone, all the bills stuffed in my wallet seemed to be screaming to be let out. Perhaps they thought being spent this way would be more meaningful.

"Let me settle this bill for once."

Asahina-san looked at me with pleading eyes.

"Pretty please?"

The expression Asahina-san wore was so genuine, I naturally nodded my head in agreement.

After that, Asahina-san and I left the supermarket. Seeing that the both of us had nowhere else to go, we stood transfixed on the spot, under the harsh, winter sky, staring at the crowd that passed before us.

The phrase "Well, see you tomorrow" is generally used when you want to take leave after everything is done, but even then it still seems ungentlemanly. Of course, I'm not the type of guy that would bolt once my job was done, and furthermore, it was still a long time before the sun set. A month has passed since winter, meaning that the sun should set really, really late......

"Accompany me for a walk, okay? Kyon-kun......"

Those pleading eyes again! Faced with those facial expressions and a voice that would make anyone's knees turn into jelly, I found myself in no position to disagree.

Asahina-san revealed a divine, aurora-like smile.

"Come on, let's go this way."

Without further hesitation, Asahina-san began walking. What a pity. I had secretly hoped Asahina-san would grab my hand as she walked. Seems like I had my hopes too high.

With the winter breeze beating softly upon my shoulders, I chased after Asahina-san's petite figure.

And just like that, the both of us strolled for quite some time.

Asahina-san seemed to have decided the destination right from the beginning, as she shot occasional side glances at me, trying to ascertain whether I was there or not, since I followed her without making a sound.

I kept my lips tightly sealed, as I followed Asahina-san's footsteps. Many questions were flooding my mind. The more I thought of it, the weirder today's Asahina-san seemed to be.

Err, how should I put it? The usual Asahina-san was a weak, pitiful little girl that would unconsciously stir up the desire to protect her in every man's heart, and her cute little movements were enough to make anyone's lips curl upwards into a smile. Today, however, her every movement resembled mine during a physics pop quiz.

Not to mention that she would nervously look around as she walked.

It's as if she was afraid someone was staring at her... Wait, that's not right either. Asahina-san wasn't paying attention to her back, nor her front, but rather, her sides, like an elementary school girl looking for a missed checkpoint during orienteering. If she wasn't the cute, doll-faced beauty she was now, but rather a middle aged man, she would probably be arrested by the cops for acting suspicious in the middle of broad daylight. Even if she did get arrested, with her absolute charm, any offense on her part would be easily pardoned. But that wasn't the point.

Asahina-san's actions were absolutely suspicious.

I suddenly felt a sense of nostalgia, as I slowed down my steps.

No, nostalgia shouldn't be the word to use, since I was used to playing here ever since I was born. I should have been sick of the same scenery by now, but why—


Now I get it.

Ever since I had begun walking here from the train station, I had felt a sense of familiarity, as well as one of nostalgia. I finally understood why.

I mean, the first city-wide search for mysterious events conducted by Haruhi was one event that remained deeply etched into my mind even today. Especially the memory of Asahina-san and I being paired together, now that was sweet. Even if I fractured my skull and had amnesia, I would still be unable to forget that memorable incident.

That's right. That was the same path as the one I was walking down now, of course I would feel nostalgic! Even the circumstances were similar! Although it hadn't even been a year since that incident I felt as if 800 years had passed since then.

Asahina-san's true identity as a time-traveler was already set into solid stone right now, but back then I didn't have a single clue. Not until she revealed it to me as we sat on the benches by the cherry blossom trees did I realize she wasn't the simple, innocent, doll-faced, well-endowed SOS Brigade mascot she had appeared to be.

That was all now a thing of the past. No wonder I had felt nostalgic.

Just like I expected, Asahina-san was indeed headed to the place I had in mind. The only difference from before is that aside from glancing side to side like a herbivore looking out for predators, she was now earnestly looking at her watch.

Even if I had called out to her, I feared that it would have no effect whatsoever on her, as she continued her zombie-like stroll.

Breathing out countless white clouds from our mouths, the both of us silently made our way forward, until we had finally reached our destination.

The path of cherry blossoms by the river bank.

Even if there was some chance the cherry trees could manage to keep their flowers until summer, it would take a miracle for cherry blossoms to blossom during winter.

Although our bodies made contact, Asahina-san seemed not to care. Even after passing the bench where she dropped that "I am a time traveler" bombshell last year, she seemed not to care. It was obvious Asahina-san had lots of things on her mind right now. Just what was troubling her?

Feeling lonely all of a sudden, I then heard a soft muttering:

"Isn't it time yet......"

Asahina-san once again looked at her watch.

"It should happen any time now, but..."

Seeming to not realize that she was talking to her self, Asahina-san let out a sigh, and once again continued to look to her left and her right.

I pretended to not notice, and concentrated on the path below me instead.

Sigh. All of a sudden, all the enthusiasm I had for this date had completely vanished, even though a romantic stroll was supposed to be a lovers' rendezvous. Ah forget it. I suppose that's what life's about anyway.

Forget the cherry blossoms, not even a single leaf could be found on the cherry blossom trees. Soon, even the trees themselves were far behind us.

Asahina-san continued to walk forward in the upstream direction. Should we continue along this path, Nagato's apartment would undoubtedly come into view. Should we go even further, we may even reach North High.

Thanks to our "walk", my body had begun to feel warm. It's a pity that the warmth wasn't induced by having Asahina-san beside me.

Finally, we left the river bank, and proceeded in the direction of the train tracks. Oh yes, I remember walking together with Haruhi along this route too.

With memories constantly resurfacing in my mind, even I had begun to feel a little uneasy.

"Kyon-kun, over here!"


If Asahina-san hadn't tugged at my sleeve, I would have probably kept walking straight and not even noticed.

"We need to wait to cross the street."

Without realizing it, we had already arrived at the crossroads situated near the train tracks. Asahina-san pointed to the opposite side of the street. The pedestrian traffic light by the zebra crossings showed a red figure.

"Oh... I'm sorry."

I immediately apologized, as I returned to Asahina-san's side. Even though the road was quiet and devoid of any cars, Asahina-san had insisted on waiting until the light turned green. Ah, now that was more like the Asahina-san I knew.

Not even 10 seconds later, the traffic lights turned from green to red, as the pedestrian light flashed a healthy green.

Asahina-san and I made it across the road at the same time.

Just then---

A dark shadow suddenly appeared behind my back.


This small scream was made by Asahina-san.

The shadow ignored us and ran onto the zebra crossings. From the looks of it, it was probably an elementary school kid, who should be around my sister's age – A bespectacled, feisty fourth or fifth grader.


This loud scream was also made by Asahina-san, and was also accompanied by a series of loud and chaotic noises which made my eyes bulge.

A large vehicle was coming down the center of the road at high speed, with its tires firmly glued to the ground. Even if the traffic lights were currently a blaring red, the vehicle (an emerald green van) was sharply juxtaposing the color of the traffic lights the driver had conveniently failed to notice, as he continued to speed forward into the zebra crossing, with absolutely no signs of slowing down.

At that time ---

The school kid who had charged into the middle of the road finally noticed that he was in danger, as he stopped dead in his tracks.

The vehicle was fast approaching. The driver, who had decided to ignore the traffic lights, had apparently no respect for traffic rules either. An image of the young kid being run over by the van flashed into my mind, but at the same time, my body was already leaping into action.

"You bastard!"

I have no idea if the insult was directed at the kid or the driver. All I know is that I had rushed forward, as the world around me slowed down as if in bullet time. From a third person's point of view, however, everything probably happened in an instant.


It was a good thing I got there in time. Grabbing the motionless boy by the collar, I slung him forward with full force. Devoid of momentum, I fell down to the pavement.

The furiously speeding van was past me in a flash.

I could feel cold sweat trickling down my face.

That was close, too close for comfort. The renegade van had missed me by mere centimeters. If I had been only the slightest bit closer, my foot would probably be as flat as the bottom of my shoe right now.

Throughout winter, my body had barely sweated. Now, no thanks to the driver, I found my whole body sweating furiously. It was too hot to bear.

"You f@#%ing bastard!!"

Even though I didn't know who was driving the van, I felt my temper rising all the way to my temple, as I shot a killer glance at the speeding van and swore loudly.

"Don't you know how to drive?! It's bad enough to beat the red lights, but accelerating in a pedestrian crossing zone? Are you retarded? Are you trying to kill someone or something? Asahina-san, did you happen to see his license plate number?"

Since I was too busy falling together with the young boy, it was only natural that I failed to see his license plate. I looked at Asahina-san, hoping that she had noticed---

"Now I see..."

Huh? See what?

A dumbstruck Asahina-san stood there with her eyes opened wide, not even moving an inch. Oh well, that's to be expected. It's only natural that one would be shocked witnessing an accident first hand. But that's not what surprised me.

What surprised me was that Asahina-san not only wore an expression of shock, but also...

"Now I see... So that's why... That's why I was sent here..."

Mumbling to herself, Asahina-san looked at the young lad who had nearly lost his life.

Her angelic features were mingled with relief, as if finally understanding everything.

Not knowing what was going on, I continued to lie on the road, as Asahina-san strode over to us like a zombie, her face as pale as a sheet. It's a pity she wasn't headed towards me. Her gaze was fixed on the young chap beside me, who too had his buttocks glued to the ground.

Perhaps it was due to that close encounter, the bespectacled young boy also wore an expression full of shock, his face as pale as Asahina-sans'. It was not until Asahina-san approached him that he blinked in surprise.

"Are you hurt?"

Asahina-san knelt beside us on the road, and placed her hands on the boy. The boy slowly shook his head like an android. Asahina-san's next question, though, caught me totally off-guard.

"If so, can you tell me your name?"

I had no idea why Asahina-san was interested in knowing his name. After all, what was the point of it? The boy, though, honestly answered her question.

I'm pretty sure I had not heard his name before, as I hadn't the faintest memory of him or his name. Asahina-san, however, seemed to have different ears than mine.

Even before he had finished mentioning his name, Asahina-san had stopped breathing; she did a faithful parody of Nagato, kneeling there without moving, her eyes staring directly at the boy's face. It wasn't until he had finished that Asahina-san take a deep breath, and said:

"I see, so you are..."

The young boy's mouth hung wide open. After narrowly avoiding being run over by a renegade truck, he was now approached by a beautiful girl who asked him for his name. No matter who it was, the experience was enough to freak anybody out. I understand what you're going through, glasses-boy.

However, Asahina-san appeared dead serious.

"Then, you have to promise me---"

The look of anxiety she wore on her face was one I had never seen before.

"No matter what happens, you have to look out for cars. Be it on the road, or when boarding a public vehicle, or in an airplane, or a train, or even a boat... Be careful not to trip or fall... And don't drown. Please, no matter where or when, be sure to take care of yourself, okay? Can you promise me that much?"

The boy must have been shocked, because I certainly was. You don't have to be that direct, Asahina-san, and even if you did, couldn't you have at least toned it down a little?

"Pretty please...?"

Hearing a tear-faced Asahina-san trying to sound as sincere as possible, I made up my mind to shout "YES, MADAM!" in the young lad's place. Just as I was about to do so......


The young boy nodded and promised her. He continued to stare at Asahina-san, looking as confused as I was.

"I'll be careful."

He said each word stiffly, as his head bobbed up and down endlessly, which resembled Humpty-Dumpty sitting on his wall.

Asahina-san was apparently still not satisfied, as she stretched out her pinky.

"Let's make a pinky promise then."

Looking at a stuttering boy make a pinky promise with Asahina-san, I felt a sharp pain in my chest. I believe it was something called jealousy. I had privately hoped and wished that I was the only person allowed to do that. But seeing that he was just a kid after all, I decided not to fake a fall in order to disturb them. I breathed a sigh of relief as Asahina-san finally stood up. It seems I'm far from reaching maturity, after all. Is that good or bad? Don't ask me, even I don't know.

But just then, I thought of another way to disturb them. Pointing at the traffic light, I said:

"Asahina-san, the light's turning green anytime soon. It's dangerous to remain in the center of the road.

The green pedestrian light had begun to flash rapidly.


Even as she stood up, Asahina-san continued to eye the bespectacled boy. As if realizing this, the young boy lowered his head and avoided her gaze.

"Thanks for saving me at the nick of time. I'll be careful in the future."

Then, with an air of politeness, he said,

"Well then, I should get going soon."

After bowing from his waist towards us, he trotted across the street, and disappeared without a trace.

Asahina-san stood there unmoving. Her eyes were still glued to her precious little gemstone, as she continued to look in his direction even after he had disappeared from our sight.

I couldn't take it any longer.

"Asahina-san, the light has already turned red. We should hurry."

I forcefully pulled the beauty dressed in a winter outfit off the street. As I slowly shook her by her shoulder, I realized that her soft body was similar to that of Shamisens', who had for some reason decided to share a bed with me. Wrapping my arms tightly around her must undoubtedly feel great, especially in a moment like this. But of course I wouldn't do something like that.

As the light turned completely red---


The sound came from somewhere positioned diagonally below me. The source was Asahina-san, and the reason it came out all muffled was probably due to her burying her face on my shoulder.

What the? --- This was what I first thought.

Asahina-san's face was buried on my shoulder, as her own shoulders trembled furiously. It didn't seem like she was laughing.

"Sob, sob..."

A trail of crystal clear tears flowed out of her tightly shut eyes, moistening my shirt. Asahina-san then grabbed on to me like a little girl, her tears flowing continuously down her porcelain cheeks.

"Wh... What's the matter, Asahina-san?! Say something! Asahina-san?!"

I had been in a couple of sticky situations in the past, but this was undoubtedly the stickiest situation I had ever been in. Why is Asahina-san crying? That young boy was saved, isn't that supposed to be a good thing? It's not like anyone died... You should be happy now, not crying your eyes out. Or was the impact of the entire incident too great for Asahina-san to bear? Is she developing symptoms of shock?

"That's not it."

Asahina-san said through her sobs.

"...... I feel useless. I k-know nothing... I c-can't do a-anything..."

I'm even more confused now.

Even then all she did was cry furiously, as if losing all will to speak. Just like how Shamisen clawed at me whenever I picked him up in fear of falling, Asahina-san clawed at my shirt, clinging on to it tightly, as she continued to bury her face in it.

What's going on here?

My brain resembled a miniature whirlpool. There was only one thing I was certain of.

Today's activities had finally come to an end. This date-like invitation initiated by Asahina-san herself had finally gone in a huge circle, and ended where it had started, in a grand fashion.

This was a conclusion anyone could reach, even without the deductive mind of Koizumi Itsuki.

I knew that I couldn't stand there forever, being clawed by a crying sempai under the winter sky.

This was because many casual pedestrians had already slowed down their steps, and directed their gaze to the odd couple standing by the street. What are you people doing outside in this cold weather?

"Asahina-san, we should find a place to sit, a place where you can calm down... Err, can you walk on your own?"

Although she still insisted on burying her face on my shoulder, she nevertheless gave a weak nod.

I stepped very carefully, trying my best to match Asahina-san's depressed footsteps. Walking beside a sniveling Asahina-san, I slowed down my footsteps, while silently lamenting my fate. It was what I always wanted, and not. Sigh. Now the only thing I hope for is to not be noticed by any boys from North High. If word got out that I made Asahina-san cry, the whole Asahina Mikuru cult following might very well be after my head.

"Where should we go then..."

A place where we would not draw too much attention, get a good rest as well as get out of the cold, did such a place exist? The only place that I could think of would be the café. However, sitting opposite a crying girl in a café was almost the equivalent of suicide.

Actually, I had noticed that the building near the street where this entire incident took place happened to be Nagato's apartment. If I were to ask her, she would have probably opened the door for us, but my instincts told me it was better not to do so.

So, there was only one place left to go. The holy grounds located near Nagato's apartment, the park which held many fond memories. Seeing that we had already passed the bench by the river bank, and the urgency of the situation, it would only be appropriate that we use that OTHER bench, which held even more memories.

At least we would be able to rest our tired legs there. Who knows, maybe someone would even pop out from the bushes behind.

With weather cold enough to freeze anyone to death, it's no wonder no one bothered to visit the park. As expected, that bench remained empty, enjoying the harsh winter winds by itself.

I sat Asahina-san down on the bench, before sitting down beside her, ensuring that there was a small gap between us. Sneaking a glance at her face, I noticed that she still had two trails of tears down her porcelain face.

I rummaged through my pockets, searching for a handkerchief, but alas, all my hands felt were the fabric used to make my clothes. Damn, how could I forget to bring them today? What could I use in place of a handkerchief to wipe away Asahina-san's pearl-like tears? Just as I was panicking, and on the verge of tearing off my sleeve---


Something soft suddenly fell lightly upon my shoulders. That soft something was none other than Asahina-san's neck. After round one of sobbing in the streets, was she coming back for round two? The way she rested her head upon my shoulder truly touched my heart. However, I refrained myself from making any sudden movements, in fear of causing a misunderstanding. That's because this situation greatly resembles that time. I had been flicked on my forehead once, I don't want something similar to happen again this time.

"I'll go get some coffee for you, okay?"

I had thought that this was a brilliant idea, but to my surprise, Asahina-san gently shook her head.

"Or would you like some oolong tea?"

The maroon head of hair once again shook sideways.

I tried my best to picture the automated drinks vendor's menu in my head, as I continued to ask.

"Then what about---"

"......I'm sorry."

A weak voice finally reached my ears. Asahina-san still had her head on my shoulder, and as a result I couldn't see her face. But even without looking, I could probably guess what expression she had on her face right now. When Asahina-san apologizes, it means that she's really sorry.

I decided to remain silent, and let Asahina-san do the talking.

"The reason I invited you out was to save that boy. I too had no clue earlier, but now I finally understand. It's all for this, and this only..."

Alright, go on.

"F-following the orders of my superiors, I asked you out. The time, place and even the places we should visit, I was merely following orders. It was all to protect that boy, to see to it that that accident would not happen... That was my mission."

Superiors? Asahina-san (big)'s secretive smiled drifted into my mind.

"Wait a second. If that's the case, you could have asked your superiors to make things a little clearer. Like for instance, stand guard at that crossroad at this specific time, your mission is to protect this kid known as blablabla from an accident. Wouldn't that be better?"

"Well... I also wish for clearer orders from my superiors. The problem is that they refuse. They refuse to let me know anything. It must be because I'm not capable enough...... Just like today, all I could do was follow orders..."

Once again, Asahina-san (big) flashed into my mind.

"You shouldn't think like that..."

After hearing me utter out that statement, the head of long, maroon hair shook violently, the hardest it had shook the entire day.

"No, that must be it! Why else would they lay such an important mission on my shoulders without telling me beforehand? It must be because I'm so useless......"

After that, she fell silent, as the breaths of white air coming out from her mouth, which had disappeared as she was talking a moment ago, once again returned. It seems her mood tallies with the topic.

"Asahina-san, who was that kid?"

Her nose still making loud sniveling noises, Asahina-san paused for a while before saying:

"...... That little boy is a very important person in the future. It's all because of him that I'm able to come here. If he were to die, everything would be over..."

Her voice grew softer and softer, until it was on the verge of vanishing completely.

"I'm sorry... I can't tell you any more than that..."

In other words, that unknown kid could not die now at any cost. In order to prevent this from happening, Asahina-san was sent to lead me to that place --- That was the true rescue plan.

If I had been only a second too late in grabbing that kid away, he would have been plowed straight into by that van. I'm afraid I didn't know how things would've turned out then, but I daresay they wouldn't have been pretty. Without this minor miracle, the probability of that kid saying goodbye to this world would've been very high.


Wait a second, which was the true turn of events? I saved that kid alright, that was what just happened. Then, what about the future? In the future Asahina-san had come from, wouldn't this kid be already dead in the first place? But since that was a no-no, the time travelers decided to send Asahina-san to protect him...

No, that's not right. Something's weird.

I saved that kid, meaning that he successfully avoided being run over, that should be what really happened. That is to say that in the true turn of events, the kid never ever met with an accident. Otherwise, Asahina-san would be unable to come here from the distant future. But if he never met with an accident, there wouldn't be a point in sending Asahina-san to the past to save him. But that would result in the kid being run over by the truck, and if he got run over by a truck, then he wouldn't have been able to make time travel possible. Which is to say ...

"Ouch, my head hurts..."

My brain started to ache.

No matter how you thought about it, something wasn't right. Whenever I thought about anything that was above my level, you would probably be able to smell the scent of something burning coming out from my ears.

"I don't get it at all."

I might just as well ask.

"Did that kid truly meet with an accident? Which is the true turn of events? I'm really confused now."

Asahina-san shook her head, and said in a mysterious voice:

"We are not the only ones from the future."

"There are others who do not wish for the existence of time travelers, or the possibility of time travel."

An emerald green van. Driven by a driver full of killing intent.

"You don't mean to tell me......"

I didn't need to wait for her answer. Even past experiences pointed to the same thing.

One similar person was Asakura Ryouko. Although she was also an organic living interface created by the Integrated Data Sentient Entity like Nagato, the two of them seemed to have different opinions on Haruhi. It wouldn't be a surprise if they came from totally different factions.

Also there was the other group aside from the "Organization" that Koizumi had mentioned earlier. Koizumi had mentioned that these two factions were currently at odds with each other.

Finally there was whoever had made the freshest memories in my mind, the faction who planned the entire Snow Mountain incident. They even created a sealed space so strong even Nagato had failed to destroy it. "Our" (Referring to the SOS Brigade) Enemy – That's what Koizumi called them.

After such a short period of time, are your hands itching again? The Enemy. What an annoying name.

Those who planned on killing an otherwise happy, young lad who would one day contribute greatly to mankind, what were they thinking? Those who insisted on making the young lad's life miserable, where were they hiding?

There are others who do not wish for the existence of time travelers, of the possibility of time travel.

Who do you mean by "others"?


Asahina-san's cherry lips slowly trembled. For a moment, it appeared that she was about to say something, but she finally decided not to say anything, as she kept her lips tightly shut.

"... I can't tell you that yet."

With that, she once again entered her sniveling state.

"That's why I feel as if I'm useless. It's the truth. I really am useless. I can't do anything to help you. I can't even help you understand. I'm really worthless."

That's not true.

Asahina-san, you're not the least bit useless at all. It's the restrictions that have been placed upon you that have made you unable to shine. And the one who's placing those restrictions on you, is none other than the future version of yourself.

But of course, I couldn't tell her that.

This I promised Asahina-san (Big) on the first 7th of July. We even made a pinky promise.

"Please don't let her know about my existence."

As for how long I should keep this promise, I had no idea. And since I had no idea, I should probably stick to keeping it a secret from Asahina-san herself. Even I didn't know why was I being so stubborn. But I had a feeling that it would be better not to say anything for the time being.

I wonder what she thinks of me for being silent? Asahina-san continued, in a depressed voice:

"It's just like what happened just now. You were the one who saved that kid, Kyon-kun. We time travelers are prohibited from getting involved directly in any incidents concerning the past..."

Is that so?

"The only ones who can alter the past, are the ones who live in it. Anything other than that is strictly against the rules......"

So that's why you needed my help?

"It's what my superiors told me to do. All I did was follow instructions, even though I didn't know why I had to act that way. Thinking of this, I feel like... an idiot."

You are no such thing.

"I've always hoped that my superiors could tell me more. That's why I wrote many letters to them, but they were always refused. My superiors must really feel that I'm useless. That must be it."

I've told you that's not the case.

I couldn't bear watching this, as I finally opened my mouth and said:

"Asahina-san, you're definitely not useless. The truth is, you've done a lot, no matter whether it's for me, the SOS Brigade, or even the whole world, so don't fret over it."

Asahina-san suddenly lifted her head and looked at me, but then she quickly averted her tearful gaze to the floor.

"...... But, the only thing I've done is dress up. It's the only thing I'm capable of..." Her voice was really depressed. "And even...... During "that time", I had no clue what was going on......"

This I could finally understand. "On the 18th of December"---

"That's not true!"

For someone like me, my attitude could be considered quite serious right now. Apparently Asahina-san had the same thoughts in mind, as she raised her head, as if startled by my sudden shout.

I can swear, Asahina-san, you're more than just a tea serving mascot. Images of Asahina-san (big) surfaced in my mind.

Snow White. It was thanks to her hint that I was able to return from that Sealed Space.

7th July, three years ago. After going back in time with Asahina-san, I got a hint from Asahina-san (big) as to what to do, before finally seeking Nagato's aid.

And then, when reality was altered, she was the one who helped restore it----

That's right, I haven't told them in full about that incident yet, maybe because it's probably too much for them to digest. I plan to wait until some time had passed before I tell them. I just told them briefly that we were going to save the world. The three of us, Nagato, Asahina-san, and I, then went back to that time where I encounter a dying "me" on the ground and Nagato's "alternate" form, before putting everything to an end. I believe that this event remains fresh in Asahina-san's memory. The only difference is that she, unlike me and Nagato, won't notice a future version of herself. This was what Asahina-san (big) had planned.

I dare say that both small and large versions of Asahina-san were the Asahina-san I knew, and not the "altered" version of Asahina-san who didn't even recognize me. In Nagato's words, both of different times but of the same entity. Or something like that.

This Asahina-san was just acting according to her orders, but deep down I knew that the one who was issuing these orders was none other than the elder version of Asahina-san herself. Asahina-san (big) should know what should be done and what should not. I mean, it's her own self we're talking about.

If it was anything that Asahina-san (small) should know, she would have told her in the first place. Seeing that Asahina-san had not revealed anything, I thought it was best that I kept quiet. "At least, don't let her know who was there in the first place." This was what Asahina-san (big) had asked of me.

Of course, I could tell you that in the near future, you would become an even more beautiful woman than now, and even cross the boundaries of time and space in order to assist me. It would be no difficult task to me. For example, during the second time I returned to the 7th of July three years ago, I could have easily awakened the "me" sleeping on the bench, and spat out everything I knew. In other words, to tell or not to tell, it was all up to me, as simple as that.

But of course I didn't do that. Although no one told me I couldn't do that, it was specifically because no one had told me I could do that that I didn't do that. Thinking back about it, I feel as if I've made the right choice.

One day, this little version of Asahina-san will go back to the future, before returning as the elder version of Asahina-san to once again assist us. Although the current Asahina-san was an indispensable treasure to the SOS Brigade, as well as the club room's private maid, there would come a day when she would have to return anyway. Everything was tightly connected. Only with the present could there be the future. If the present was mingled with all sorts of other foreign matter, who knows what the future will turn out to be—

I suddenly realized something.

"That's right!"

I wanted to open my mouth and spill everything out, but I knew I couldn't. My desire to do so conflicted with my better sense of judgement – I finally understood what it felt like. So that's how it feels.

Thinking about what happened last summer, during the first city-wide search for mysterious events, Asahina-san and I had walked side-by-side to the row of cherry blossom trees by the riverbank, where she revealed to me her true identity as a time traveler and tried to explain the concepts behind time travel. Of course, whether that counts as an explanation, I have no idea. All I know is that it had something to do with time planes, cartoons and drawings, while having nothing to do with water.

At that time, no matter what I asked, her answer would always be:

"Classified information."

What I'm going through now should be roughly what she went through then. That's right, now wasn't the time to tell her everything, but...


I still wanted to console her. That's why I opened my mouth.

"What is it?" Asahina-san asked, her bright eyes opened wide, staring straight at me.

"Erm... It's like this. Actually, Asahina-san... well... how do you put this... Err... You're definitely not just Haruhi's plaything. And err... how did it go again? Something like... there's always something below the surface... groan~"

I gave up thinking about the proverb halfway through my sentence. No matter what I said, it would be full of plot holes. How annoying~ I had wanted to console her so that she would stop feeling so down, but apparently making up lines as I spoke was not my specialty, hence the half-assed sentences you see above. If it was Koizumi, he would surely be able to come out with some beautiful sounding nonsense which I would undoubtedly be annoyed at. However, a man should always know his limits. I couldn't always run to Nagato or Koizumi for help. This was my problem after all. I should solve it by my own.

Even so, this was just like giving a baboon the latest, high end computer but not telling him how to use it. Although I really wanted to console Asahina-san, my mind was totally void of any useful vocabulary.

"Erm... I mean..."

Maybe some physical stimulant would help. Perhaps it would speed up the flow of impulse. With that in mind, I knocked my skull with my fists. Nothing happened – my mind was still as blank as before.

"...... Err... Umm..."

In the end, all I did was err and umm, as if waiting for the sun to set.

That was until Asahina-san said---

"Kyon-kun, you don't need to say any more."

I immediately lifted my head, and found myself staring into Asahina-san's confused eyes. Her mouth, however, was curled into a smile.

"You don't need to say any more."

She repeated.

"Whatever you're trying to say, I understand."

Asahina-san widened her smile, as she gently nodded.

Huh? You understand? Just what do you understand? I haven't said anything---

"You really don't have to say anymore. This is already enough."

Asahina-san's previously tightly closed lips parted open, as she looked at me with warm eyes. There was a faint but detectable trace of understanding in her eyes.

I suddenly realized something else.

Realize what, you say? Do you still need to ask?

What I realized was – Asahina-san had finally realized.

She may have realized, from my stuttering speech patterns, the true message I was trying to convey. Even though I never told her out loud. But why didn't I? There are only a few explanations to this question.


Just as I was about to open my mouth to speak, Asahina-san gently raised her left hand, and placed her warm index finger on my freezing cold lips.

That was my cue to stop.

There wasn't any reason to continue on. My thoughts had already reached Asahina-san. The both of us remained silent.


Asahina-san slowly lifted her index finger, and placed it on her own lips. That sent a wave of ripples through my heart.

Asahina-san slowly lifted her index finger, and placed it on her own lips. That sent a wave of ripples through my heart.
Asahina-san slowly lifted her index finger, and placed it on her own lips. That sent a wave of ripples through my heart.

"That's right."

That was all I could say.

Silence is gold, speech is silver. Wasn't that the case? There wasn't any pitcher in this world who needed to babble to the catcher what his next pitch was going to be like. There were highly convenient ways of communication in this world, such as through signals or body language. Simple matters need not be expressed through speech.

Why was that so? Well, it's because even without saying it aloud, the both of us had already understood what was in each other's hearts.

Since communication was possible even without the medium of speech, why bother? There was no need for vocabulary, no need for long winded speeches, and it certainly conserved energy.

The only response I could make, was to smile.

That was enough. Any thing that couldn't be conveyed via speech would just have to be conveyed through the heart.

The following Monday.

The time was after school. Everyone gathered at the club room as always, trying the newly bought tea. After everyone had finished, the SOS Brigade commander said:

"Say, Kyon."

Unlike me, Haruhi had no sense of gratitude, as she downed the entire cup of burning, 70 degrees Celsius tea in less than two seconds. After all that trouble Asahina-san and I went through, couldn't you at least taste the damned tea?


I replied as I secretly snuck a side glance at the smiling Asahina-san.

"Ahh... Do you want seconds?"

Asahina-san picked up the kettle, preparing to pour some tea into Haruhi's empty cup.

Haruhi suddenly leaned forward, and placed her chin in her hands, before uttering out some strange lines:

"I happen to have a habit of talking to myself."

Is that so? This was new. After knowing you for almost an entire year, this is the first time I've heard you've got such a habit.

"Even if there were others beside me, I would still carry on."

Before that, you should get a mental checkup.

"So, I'm going to start talking to myself again. If by any chance any of you hear it, please bear with me."

What are you trying to say? But before I could say that, Haruhi suddenly raised her voice, and said:

"You know, there's a smart and honest kid living near my house. He wears spectacles that resembles a professor and looks really smart in them. His name is..."

Haruhi mentioned a name that I was sure I had heard just recently. My back suddenly started to sweat, but that wasn't because of the heat.

Asahina-san froze on the spot.

"Soooooooooooooooooooometimes, I go over to help him with his homework. Which is why I went to his house yesterday. But that's when he said: The bunny girl's together with a guy."

Haruhi let out a spine-chilling smile.

"When we filmed that movie in autumn, he just so happened to be nearby. He had a really deep impression of Mikuru-chan in a bunny suit. Since we were on the same topic anyway, I asked him what that guy looked like. This is what he drew."

Haruhi took out a piece of paper that was clearly torn out from an exercise book. There was a rough sketch of a highly familiar face. Hmm... how come it seems like the one I would usually see every morning while looking in the mirror? Wait, that should be me. No matter how you look at it, it was my portrait drawn on the paper.


Haruhi suddenly let out a deep laugh.

That kid turned out to be a big mouthed yet talented artist! Isn't he supposed to become a scholar some day? Don't tell me he aspires to become an artist in the future? If I had known this, I would have bribed him, so that he would become temporarily mute and disabled.

My vision blurred for about three seconds, as I waited to see if a saint would suddenly descend to save the world.

Asahina-san was trembling all over, and her voice seemed to have lost its function. In a situation like this, chances that a new character would burst in were too slim, so I desperately swept my eyes around the club room.

"... ... ..."

After looking into Nagato's negative four degrees Celsius eyes, for some reason I felt sick to the stomach.

On the other hand, Koizumi did nothing but smile, as if thoroughly enjoying the entire situation. Wait a minute. These guys wouldn't have known everything from the start, would they?


Haruhi's expression resembled one who had eaten an onigiri covered with blended chili paste and crushed psychedelic mushrooms , that is to say, one who wanted to laugh but was trying to restrain herself.

"Spit it out. Where did you and Mikuru-chan go yesterday, and what did you do? Don't worry, I promise I won't get mad."

I shot a sideways glance at Asahina-san, who resembled a frog drenched in green paint, her face green all over. I was one to talk, though, as cold sweat trickled endlessly down my face, like a toad being surrounded by three dozen serpents.

It must have been my illusion. For a moment I thought I saw Haruhi's aura rise up behind her, before turning into a violent display of fireworks, which proceeded to smash the glass window pane behind Nagato.. Or some illusion of that kind of extent.

"I'm sorry."

Koizumi stood up straight, as if wanting to avoid the invisible fireworks, before picking up his chair and moving away from the window pane.

Then, he made a gesture with both of his hands, and continued to smile like he used to. The only thing he missed out was the words "Please carry on."

Damn you Koizumi! I'll deal with you afterward by murdering you using big bets in poker! I'll remember this!

"A-ah... About t-that..."

The task at hand was to create a lie that would convince Haruhi. But right now, I really don't have the time to think of one, so could anyone out there please help me? If possible please text me, because even a courier service wouldn't be able to make it here in time.

Faced with my stuttering self, Haruhi decided to repeat her question.

"Well spit it out, and I want it to be so long and precise that even Koizumi-kun, Yuki and I can understand. Or else..."

Haruhi took in a deep breath, and revealed a bright smile, before saying:

"The both of you will be punished severely! That's right, how's this one seem?"

Haruhi announced a punishment so inhuman that even the blood stained gates of hell would tremble after hearing it. I looked at Asahina-san and found that she was shaking.

Just like I was.

What happened in the clubroom afterwards, this I think needs no further explanation.

Faced with Haruhi's sadistic smile, Nagato's even colder-than-usual expression and Koizumi's annoying smirk which seemed to suggest he was mildly enjoying this, I desperately racked my brain for some sort of explanation, like a lost soul furiously trying to squeeze out some water from a dry sponge in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Beside me, Asahina-san was thrown into a total state of panic, together with the kettle, tea leaves and all.

I really don't think I need to explain any further. You guys can probably guess the rest.

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