It was a beautiful summer day in August when I ceased to exist.
On that fateful day I was busy downstairs working at the computer in my home office. I was sitting in my swivel chair pondering how to make my client's website work with the quirks of Internet Explorer. Regression testing is such a pain sometimes. Still, I was confident I would finish by the contract deadline.
Shamisen jumped up on my lap. "Down boy. I'm working." He responded and went off to explore the rest of the basement.
Upstairs, Haruhi had silently let herself in with the key. She quietly dropped her suitcases, took off her shoes, and crept downstairs. As usual I spotted her reflection in the computer monitor as she snuck up behind me. She coiled herself like a cobra, lunged, and grabbed my shoulders.
I feigned surprise. "Whaah! I told you not to do that!"
I let her flip my chair back so I was facing the ceiling. She gave me an upside down kiss. This time I had remembered to first set the latch on the dang swivel so I wouldn't flip over. I didn't want another concussion.
She was so predictable sometimes.
And I loved her for it.
"How was your business trip?"
"Good! They even discussed an option for a sequel. But I don't understand why they wanted to hire their own screenwriter instead of letting me write it." I did, but remained silent.
Later we ate dinner in the kitchen breakfast nook. I knew Haruhi would want to celebrate so I had planned and prepared a special meal.
It had taken me a half day of scrounging around the Kyosho market to find the all ingredients. I spent six hours slow cooking on the grill, running upstairs from my basement office to turn the rack every few minutes. Cooking Texas style dry BBQ is a pain, but it was so worth it.
"Kyon, this is really good. You've outdone yourself."
"Thanks. The secret is the spice rub."
"Mmmm.. what is in it?"
"I'll never tell."
My wife looked at me like a tiger eyeing its prey.
"I have ways of making you talk."
"Do your worst."
As Haruhi bent down to attack her fourth rib, I reflected on how wonderful my life had become.
It was a quiet life. After several years of my complete cluelessness, Haruhi finally rammed it through my thick skull that she loved me, though it took an act of god (literally) for me to finally realize it. Looking back I couldn't believe how oblivious I was. That whole experience was a remarkable story in itself [The Courtship of Haruhi Suzumiya -Ed].
After we finally confessed our feelings towards each other, I helped Haruhi to permanently suppress her unconscious god-like reality-warping powers that were triggered by her dreams. We were soon engaged, and by the following year we had gotten married and settled down. She wasn't ready for children yet, but I could wait.
I've always wondered, who, if anyone, had given her those god-like powers in the first place.
The SOS Brigade had long since disbanded. We met annually, on Tanabata, for a reunion at the café outside of North High. During those reunions I would feel a pang of nostalgia.. those crazy times, the thrill, the fun, the sheer terror (ok that not so much). But we were adults now, and life has a tendency to get in the way. After the last reunion we agreed that we would get together every 5 years.
At that moment the doorbell rang. I got up. "I'll get it."
I looked through the window. Yuki Nagato was at the door. I hadn't seen her since the last reunion.
Yuki Nagato was an alien, a Humanoid Interface. She was the ambassador to Earth from a very alien alien, a great universe-spanning entity that was so alien that it literally could not communicate with mere humans using language or symbols. It was an unimaginably powerful group intelligence called the Data Integration Thought Entity.
The Data Integration Thought Entity had sent Yuki Nagato to Earth to observe Haruhi. It was because it was fascinated with her. It was also because it was terrified of her, with very good reason.
I opened the door. Yuki was standing there, perfectly still, with her yellow-gray eyes staring right at mine. I have always been fascinated by those striking eyes, which were beautifully framed by her lavender-white hair. She had not aged at all, of course. Her delicate face wore the same blank expression that it always had: impassive, emotionless, and absolutely unreadable by anyone.
After all these years I was still probably the one human who knew her and understood her best. It had been eight years since we were.. close. More than close. She was my guardian angel and protector, my closest ally in dealing with Haruhi and her crazy powers. She had saved my life so many times. I owed her so much. I had shared my closest secrets with her. I had trusted her more than anyone else in the world.
Actually, I still do. And I will never be able to repay the huge debt that I owed her. That is probably the biggest regret in my life.
Eight years ago, after I delivered my ultimatum to the Data Integration Thought Entity, I asked Yuki if there was any way to prevent her from becoming unstable again. We met at her apartment several times to discuss it, in secret. Those little talks, sitting on her couch, became the most intimate series of conversations that I have ever had, or probably ever will have.
At some point during our quiet discussions something must have happened to Yuki. I think it was triggered by something I said off handedly, or maybe it was cumulative. I was never quite sure what it was exactly. But somehow she had an epiphany.
Then a miracle happened.
What happened next I will never tell. Two weeks were as long as we dared. For safety it should have been shorter.
We kept it quiet. We both had a mission. The universe was at stake.
Not just because of the danger if Haruhi ever found out (though I think she could probably handle it now), but because I made a solemn promise to Yuki, and it was I promise I bloody well intended to keep. I will never be able to repay the huge debt that I owed her, but I could do at least that much.
At the end of those two perfect weeks I worried that she would become unstable again. But she never did. Afterwards I would sometimes pull her aside and quietly query her status. She always reported it was nominal. I believed her; she would never tell me a direct lie.
Once I asked her if she had a theory about why the glitches, the error data, never re-appeared. She replied with a bunch of techno-gobbledygook. It was her usual way of avoiding giving me an answer to a question, so I didn't press it. But looking back on it now, I think the answer was simple: She wanted her beloved to be happy.
Nagato remained silent.
"Yuki, what is it?"
Then I noticed.. something. Her eyes shifted down a few degrees for a fraction of a second, then they looked up at me again. It was subtle but I could tell something was wrong.
"Emergency mode. You and Haruhi need to come with me immediately."
I was not going to make the contract deadline after all.