I’m pretty sure most of you are rather unsatisfied with my first completed chapter, so here’s the second, written with more finesse and less fluff (do note that the last few sections are not considered fluff), and provides a better explanation to the background of the story, focusing on my take on how the Integrated Data Sentient Entity came about. I’ve clued in another original character to tell the story better, but also included two rather familiar characters. You may find that it makes certain references to the first chapter, despite the time frame being set a few months later. Read on, please.
Just as expected, I arrived at the market street with five minutes to spare. Locking my bike to a nearby parking rack, I hurried off to the designated meeting place, an air-conditioned café which some of us in class 2-2 tend to frequent a lot after school hours.
As I opened the door and was greeted by a chilly air freshener-infused breeze from inside, I noticed, to my slight dismay that the other party was already there, waiting for me. Ou Yuukyou, wearing a pale pink polo tee, was seated at a table at the far end of the café with Kimidori Emiri, a friend of Yuukyou’s and a neighbor whom I got acquainted to some time ago. Yuukyou waved eagerly at me to go over and Emiri-san greeted me with a warm smile.
“Sorry to make your wait,” I muttered as I took my seat opposite the table. Both of them shook their heads in a matter that said, ‘it’s alright’.
“Nah, we just like to be early,” Yuukyou replied, tapping his right fingers on the empty table surface. His left arm was propped on it, with his hand curled in a fist that he was touching to his lips.
“So, why’ve you called me out?” I asked. My classmate and his friend quietly glanced at each other, and then gazed at me, as though contemplating something.
“What is it?” I began to be a bit suspicious.
“Oh, nothing,” Yuukyou replied. “I doubt you’ll have trouble understanding what I’m about to say anyway, given that you’ve already experienced a bit of it yourself…” He looked towards Emiri, and both of them nodded in agreement.
Needless to say, that didn’t clear anything up at all. “What is it? Tell me.”
“Alright. We won’t keep it from you anymore.” Yuukyou took a deep inhale, as though preparing to deliver a half-hour speech documentary on flies.
“Would you believe me if I told you I’m not an ordinary human?” He asked. I was stunned; not just at the bizarre question, but also at how it took him so much hesitation to say something as simple as that out.
“Uh, yeah,” I bluntly answered. “You’re knowledgeable at almost everything in this world that’s got to do with humans. So knowledgeable that I’d believe you if you said you were some alien camped in Earth’s orbit, observing everything that happens in this world.”
I actually wish I hadn’t said that afterwards, but the outcome might’ve been the same either way.
In immediate response, Yuukyou and Emiri pulled the same face at me in perfect unison. An expression of complete shock. I suddenly realized that I’ve never seen Yuukyou look that way before in class, with wide-open eyes and mouth gaping, and I suppressed the urge to laugh at how odd he looked with it.
“How did you know…?”
My smile instantly faded. That they’re saying this in such surprise would mean…
“Did you… Know about it all this while?” Emiri barely whispered. Her facial expression completely denied her usual introverted and seemingly oblivious exterior. “That we have been observing you all this time?”
“Hah?” Now I was too shocked to speak. “I was just joking…”
Yuukyou sighed. “Well, I never expected that. But yes, we are serious.”
No way. I inched closer and studied his expression meticulously, looking for any signs of amusement. There were none, and by this time I realized I was already leaning over the table, so back away.
“As I said before, you’ll have no problems believing us, but that’s only once I’ve confirmed that you have no problems believing in your ability to create and walk through portals that lead to external dimensions…”
Absolutely no way. How did you know?
“We’ve been observing the world, Akira-kun. And that includes you.”
Is that so… Then that might mean he really is an alien. It seems possible enough, and he even has evidence. I’ve never told anybody about that before.
“It would seem that you still have trouble coming to terms with this fact,” Emiri spoke up, weighing her words carefully, though they were so soft they would balance less than a feather, while observing my expression, which I believe was one of complete confusion and doubt. “Perhaps you’d like to hear our story?”
Great. There’s even a story behind it. The fact that I have come to terms with my supernatural power should’ve meant that I would have no problems believing that aliens exist, or even that I know somebody who’s an alien, but at that time I found it hard to comprehend anything at all. All I could do was nod.
“We were formally residents of a distant cluster of solar systems, approximately ten thousand Earth light-years away from your local planetary system. I am unable to disclose their names as we are unable to express it verbally in human language. They have also not been tracked and recorded in human research files yet, so no names have been given to them yet. Actually, people of our race can be found in several different galaxies all around the universe, but the majority of us are based in this cluster of solar systems. That is where we were born.”
It was almost a strain listening to her speak. But she sure was careful enough to give rational explanations to things she could not say. Perhaps they really did want my belief that badly.
“Our race was a highly advanced one. We were granted with the technology to observe planetary systems from afar, cover great distances in space, and most importantly the capacity to gather, store and analyze vast amounts of information, so that we can answer all the questions we have ever asked.”
“So you must’ve lived at a pretty high standard, eh?” I asked.
“Actually, we do not exist according to the laws that govern human geography,” Yuukyou replied, his lips curled downwards slightly. “Even if we did, we’d be far from living in first world-class.”
“Yes, that’s true,” Emiri agreed, gazing downwards resentfully. What’s the matter with them?
“You see, the major flaw among people of our race is our desire for supremacy. As such most of us would rather use our advanced technology to wage wars over dominance. Factions emerged out of our community and divided themselves over different parts of our controlled solar systems, each wanting to be superior over the rest in terms of power, ideals and intelligence,” she explained to the spotless tabletop.
“Call it the Crusades if you like, I think it’s quite similar. Stuff like science versus religion, or ‘my religion’ versus ‘your religion’,” Yuukyou jested, craning his neck and glancing around. He waved and caught the attention of a blue-haired waitress, who immediately walked over.
“So you’re involved in the fighting too?” I asked Emiri, seeing that Yuukyou was busying placing an order.
“Well, we did start a separate faction, but it was to escape from all the warring. We were the few whose mentalities had transcended the imperfections of desire, or rather, desiring too much, if you may.”
“That’s why we’re all Buddhists,” Yuukyou added halfway through telling the waitress his order, having heard the conversation with his left ear facing us. He really does have a knack for trivia, doesn’t he?
“So what did you do?” I guess all I could do in this conversation was ask questions. Emiri did not seem to mind it though; she seemed prepared to answer whatever queries I posed her in her best possible ability. A good sign of somebody being honest.
“Our main objective was to formulate a plan to escape our homeland and seek refuge in other systems that contain planets suitable for life. Of course, we have long since discovered numerous planets around the galaxy that fit this description, but we needed to locate one that would be inconspicuous enough to be out of the scope of focus of our race. We needed to construct a transport powerful enough to travel great distances over space, and develop researching and adapting technologies to observe existing life forms in said hospitable planets and assimilate ourselves according to the laws that govern these worlds so as to thrive normally in them.”
“So I guess you did, and you chose planet Earth, and you turned yourselves into human beings,” I inferred. Emiri nodded, Yuukyou gave me a thumbs-up smile, and for some unknown reason, the blue-haired waitress standing beside our table with a notepad in hand could not help but smile. She hurriedly went off and disappeared past the kitchen doors at the far side of the café.
“But, when it was discovered that our faction was developing this highly sophisticated technology that immensely surpassed anything created before, the other factions took it to offense, that we were secretly plotting to win this gridlock of an arms race, and banded together to strike us down.”
It was almost like hearing a war story from a civilian war survivor. Both of them looked extremely somber, and extremely convincing. I felt my doubt gradually fading away with each word they said and each facial expression they made. In felt, I was beginning to feel interested in this new discovery of aliens and hearing their literally out-of-this-world experiences.
“Many of us were unskilled in combat, and lost out to their enhanced warring proficiency. A lot of us perished amidst the pandemonium. Thankfully the transport was constructed as last after a hurried assembly, and we escaped the homeland with only a handful of us left.”
“So there are more of you out there.”
“Yes, but not a lot,” Yuukyou answered, reiterating. He still has that habit of saying things on behalf of others as long as he has the authority to do so, I suddenly realized.
“It was abroad the transport, which was agreed to take us to planet Earth, that we completed our Assimilation technology. And after a long period of time, as mentioned before we finally arrived on this ‘third rock from the Sun’, and discovered as much as we could of it while in orbit-“
“-While dodging all your artificial satellites,” Yuukyou sidetracked. “And we actually enjoyed making all these discoveries. It took our minds away from the despaired situation of our homeland.”
“Yes, we learnt a lot of new interesting things about planet Earth,” Emiri cracked a gentle toothy smile. “We feel that Earthlings are actually very lucky to be able to live in such wonderful environments. Of course, looking away from the bustling parts of human life where people struggle to make a living by gaining profits, and the directly opposite parts where poverty brings extensive discomfort to the needy, and all the conflicts and strife that are strikingly familiar to us. We delved into the arts, the sciences, even a mixture of both.”
“Most importantly, we conducted substantial studies on how the Homo sapiens species of mammals live and function. Like their anatomies and their universes of thought. That was because we had to create fully functional images of them that we can implement onto ourselves and co-exist with the rest of the Homo sapiens population,” said Yuukyou.
Just say ‘humans’ please. You sound too condescending.
“And thus, he we are. Living, breathing aliens in human form. That’s our background, are you satisfied?”
“I can pretty much believe anything now, having heard your story. I find it hard to doubt your explanations too. Yes, I’m satisfied as much as I am amazed,” I stated.
“Makes me wonder why you’re not amazed at your own ability to create and cross over separate dimensions,” the bespectacled youth muttered. “By the way, if you must know, each of us has actually developed sizable expertise on different fields of Earth-based studies.”
“In other words, you focused on various fields of studies until you’ve built up a forte in that specific field,” I said.
“Uh-huh. I’m an expert at social studies and sciences, meaning whatever events that take place on Earth because of human actions. That’s how I know so much about such stuff like the sex lives of past American presidents or the legend of Che Guevara, and can spout them out in class,” Yuukyou winked slyly. So that’s how he came to be the walking encyclopedia.
“Ah, I happen to be very good at math. I range from Game theory to algebra to binary notation,” Emiri spoke up, in a rather shy and humble tone. “Technological knowledge happens to be a strong point of mine too.”
“I’m impressed,” I exclaimed. “But, do you have a name for this alien race of yours?”
“Incidentally, yes,” Yuukyou replied. “We were created out of this vast sea of data known as the universe. We started out as pure data, and as various caches of data gathered together, we became sentient, and we began to evolve by collecting more data. We are almost as old as the universe itself, and as it expanded, we expanded together with it, and our relative database became more expansive and eclectic. Almost nothing in this universe is unknown to us. As such, because our existences are derived largely from data, we call ourselves the Integrated Data Sentient Entity. I came up with that name myself,” he grinned proudly.
“However, telling you all about us isn’t the main purpose of this meeting,” he spoke, immediately lowering his tone of voice to a more serious one. “It was to provide you with a little bit of background information about us. Now, this is a little more background information about what we have got to do with this world.”
What, there’s more?
“Until most recently, the Integrated Data Sentient Entity has expressed great interest on planet Earth, which is partly the reason we chose to come here. We have observed that with the success of the evolution of Mankind living on this world, Man gradually acquired the mental capability to pursue knowledge. This organic bipedal life form became an object of interest. For a long time we have always believed it to be impossible for organic life forms, who have limited data collection and transmission ability, to be able to acquire knowledge.
“It would not be until most recently, when the handful of us have arrived and conducted further studies on your kind, that we, referring to us only as the rest have yet to find this out, fully discover the importance of observing all forms of organic life forms on Earth, as it could provide us solutions to our own evolutionary dead end. Other organic life forms all over the universe normally become sentient, but only the humans on Earth have evolved continuously to higher levels. This is what we have discovered before, and have been delving into during our stay here.
“Now we move on to recent events.” Yuukyou announced, clearing his throat. I bent over to listen closely.
“About three lunar orbits ago, while we-”
“He ‘means three months’,” Emiri quickly explained. Three months, huh. We were still together then… Crap, why am I suddenly remembering that?
“Yes, sorry. About two Earth months ago, while we were still based in planet Earth’s orbit, we encountered an abnormal data hotspot unlike anything seen on the surface of this planet. We traced the centre of this data spike to a region within a bow-shaped archipelago called Japan. Zooming in closer, we witnessed two humans positioned close to the epicentre.” The boy leaned back against his seat and adjusted his glasses coolly. I did know where this was getting to yet.
“It happens that the person positioned just inches away from the epicentre was you.”
I raised my eyebrows in surprise.
“And it happens that the person standing directly on the (0, 0) co-ordinate of the epicentre is Suzumiya Haruhi.” He gave me an enigmatic grin.
I froze at the spot. Wait, what?
Yuukyou and Emiri said nothing; they stared at me, waiting for a response.
So this is what they want to talk to me about. Suzumiya Haruhi created something that doesn’t sound too good, which is typical of her, and because I was with her at that very moment, I must have something to do with it. I felt frustration surge through me instantly.
“Why don’t you tell this to her instead?” I asked, my voice dry with irritation. “She’s the one who created all this, isn’t she? And what exactly is this that she created?”
“Well, we do not know why that happened, or what effects it would have,” Yuukyou explained. “None of us are able to fully process all the new data being created. More importantly, while it is known that humans are limited in the amount of data that they can process, Suzumiya Haruhi is able to create flares of data on her own. Surely you must’ve noticed something during the times you were with her.”
I very much want to forget everything that had happened during that time. I brought a hand over my left eye and touched it lightly.
“We feel it is wise not to tell her anything, too. Suzumiya Haruhi does not know that she is creating all this massive data. It is best to leave it that way, because if she learns about her power and begins creating data on her own will, most possibly creating disastrous results. As of now we’re still observing her,” he continued.
“And what’s this got to do with me, pray tell?” I asked.
“Well, while it was evident that Suzumiya Haruhi is the centre of this explosion of data, you were suspiciously close to her at that very moment of the creation. We have analyzed the situation and have come to a firm conclusion that, while the data-creating ability of Suzumiya Haruhi was innate but inactive, your presence had activated it and catalyzed its growth.”
Now he’s talking about chemistry. There was never any chemistry between Haruhi and me.
“This is reaction is the reason behind your ability to create separate dimensions out of thought, and separately, your other ability to enter foreign dimensions. The former is very much like an active yet severely limited form of Suzumiya Haruhi’s, where you are able to process and emit caches of data at your own will but with effect only to the dimension you create. Meanwhile Suzumiya Haruhi’s ability is in a passive form, where releases similar data involuntarily that can be observed in the present world. The latter is what is known as ‘dimension sliding’. Does that term ring a bell, Akira?”
That was the first time today that he addressed me by name. Annoyed, I was brought back to one casual conversation I had with Haruhi just a month before that incident…
“Haruhi once mentioned that she wanted to meet four kinds of people: Aliens, time travelers, espers and sliders. I thought she was referring to my specialized baseball pitch, but she said it had something to do with dimensions… Come to think of it, you guys are aliens…”
“Yup! And you’re the dimension slider with an added ability that could prove very useful and potentially dangerous. During that brief period of time when you lost yourself in an enclosed dimension, I presume you must have met an esper. We have yet to make contact with any time travelers, but I’m positive we will soon,” he said, satisfied at my previous statement. “In explanation, these swarms of data Suzumiya Haruhi processes can make visible modifications to the present world.”
“So it’s something like ‘what Haruhi wants, Haruhi gets’, is that it? But you said her abilities were passive. Doesn’t all this prove that she can modify the world with her thoughts?” I was in the mood for debate right now.
“If it was that way she’d be here asking us about our life back home right now,” Yuukyou murmured defensively. “It’d be illogical to say she created people like us too, because we’ve been around eons before your planet was even formed. Though, in your case it could be a bit different.”
“But in terms of your ability to process data actively, we believe that during this reaction that gave rise to Haruhi’s superhuman ability, said ability was split into two, and one half was imparted to you, the catalyst, who happened to be in close range at that time. It was very fortunately balanced off: You received the portion of the ability that grants you active control over your data creation, it would hardly affect real-time events; Haruhi received the portion that grants her the power to modify events in the world, though it is only passive.
“That is why we have decided to base our human forms here in Japan, and adopt Japanese personalities. We call these creations, of organic optically visual forms, Humanoid Interfaces. In this form we’re the same as any other human physically and mentally, albeit with alien knowledge and talent. We have also made arrangements to stay close to the both of you for observation purposes, and chose to take up residences in the same apartment as yours.”
“That’s two birds with a stone,” I commented, slightly alleviated of my frustration. “It’s conveniently near the station too.” So, that explains how the both of them have come to live in the same apartment as I do.
“Yes, that too,” Yuukyou agreed. Emiri nodded. “Anyway, digressions aside, let’s move on to the present,” Yuukyou continued. “We’ve called you out here today because we need your help. Yours, not Suzumiya Haruhi’s, as her powers are merely passive and as she is not to know anything about this. You have the might to open up enclosed dimensions at will. You can assimilate objects previously occupying its spaces into it, including people. You have complete control over whatever happens inside. As long as you’re inside your world, you have the advantage. And we request that you impart your ability to us.”
“Now, why do you want my power? And am I supposed to teach you how to do it?”
“It’s only a matter of copypasta from your mind to ours,” Yuukyou answered, using an ED meme well-known among the two of us. “And as to the reason we want it…”
He leant forward and propped his forearms on the table. Emiri followed suit.
“We’ve been discovered by the rest of the Integrated Data Sentient Entity. As we speak there is a large flotilla of transports similar to ours – I presume they stole our technology prior to our departure – looming in Earth’s orbit. Apparently they were drawn towards Earth once again when they witnessed this data hotspot that is Suzumiya Haruhi, three months ago,” he whispered. “They have discovered that we were here all this time, and are eager to hear about our findings regarding this situation.”
“They can actually pick it up from that far away?” I could not help but feel amazed and envious of Haruhi. She’s got the whole universe’s attention now, and I don’t doubt that’s what she would want.
“Yes, and we’ve been put on the spot. We’re willing to disclose whatever findings we’ve made of planet Earth, be it Suzumiya Haruhi or other matters concerning aforementioned solutions to our evolutionary dead end. After all, we’re loyal to our people.”
“Loyal enough to run away from your homeland?” I quipped.
“Look, the only reason we took off was to get away from the fighting. That’s got nothing to do with loyalty. Besides, we’ve informed them that our departure was nothing more than to further our studies on planet Earth, and they have already apologized for their rash actions against us.
“Still, one can’t be too sure. They might be plotting something amongst themselves, perhaps to annihilate us all and steal our valuable technology. We simply cannot have that happen to us; we prioritize the safeguarding of our own lives before anything else as, needless to say, life is the key to existence. As such we’ve decided that it was safest to have an edge over them; a powerful and useful advantage that we can rely on to back us up and overcome the fact that they have us heavily outnumbered when necessary. We had to make sure that as long as it’s here on Planet Earth, we have the upper hand over them. After all, a good majority of us in the Sentient Entity are highly radical and ruthless, and fighting fire with fire seems to be the best solution,” he explained.
“So you still have the spirit of competition for dominance within you, eh?” I remarked. Both of them looked at each other and flushed in embarrassment; a classic human reaction. I was truly impressed at how accurately they crafted their Humanoid Interfaces.
“Heheh, we just realized that, didn’t we?” Emiri told Yuukyou, who nodded sheepishly. “Very wise deduction, Akira-san.”
“Indeed it is,” said Yuukyou. “And that’s why we’re here. We request that you bestow your powers onto us. We promise never to tell or grant it to the rest of the Integrated Data Sentient Entity; it is only between you and the few of us. In doing so we could also better analyze yours and Suzumiya Haruhi’s abilities and use the information gathered to, as I say once more, find the solution to our race’s evolutionary standstill.”
Man, they’re really so much into the ‘two birds with a stone’ scenarios, aren’t they?
“Actually, having heard everything you’ve just said, I’m pretty inclined to help you to my furthest extent,” I said. “After all, it’s very interesting that aliens and other weird people exist in this world. It takes the boredom out of life, and we can have something out of the ordinary to do. Plus, I go by the saying ‘It is better to do it and regret than not do it at all’.”
“Your way of thinking mirrors that of Suzumiya Haruhi, Akira-san,” Emiri commented.
“How true. She probably got it from you,” Yuukyou pointed out.
“Yes, that’s very nice,” I groused sarcastically. “Will you update me on your situation every now and then so I can get an idea of what you people are up to? I’m interested in knowing.”
“Granted,” said Yuukyou cheerily. “You’re our benefactor, after all. By tomorrow’s sunrise I am going back into orbit together with another one of our members to meet the leader of this newly-arrived fleet of space transports and liaise with them. I’ll let you know how that goes.
“Anyway, in ancient times in Asia, the rulers of China would appease the barbaric tribes in the North by marrying off their daughters to the tribe leaders, so as to maintain good relations and discourage them from attacking their territories. In similar tradition, there is a gift I would like to offer you in hopes that you would agree to our request, but since that seems unnecessary I have decided to offer this gift to you as a token of appreciation and goodwill instead.” Yuukyou broke into his usual mischievous grin.
“No, it’s not really that- Wait, you’ve offering me your daughter?”
At this moment the blue-haired waitress reappeared again at my side, bearing a tray loaded with a mug of coffee, a bowl of banana-split ice cream, and a glass of strawberry parfait. The parfait must be mine; Yuukyou knows I love parfait. The waitress eyed Yuukyou meaningfully as she sets the food on the table, then faced me. She had a very pretty face and an attractive figure. I could not help but blush a little.
“I’m not his daughter,” she told me flatly, cheekily sticking her tongue out.
“Akira, this is Asakura Ryouko,” Yuukyou said. The waitress bowed deeply.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve been observing you and Haruhi-san together with my comrades for a very long time. I’m glad that I finally get to speak to you in person.” Her voice was mellow and sweet, and pleasing to the ear.
“She’s our vixen, Ryouko-chan is. Her forte is in human emotions and thoughts. Among all of us she pulls off her Humanoid Interface the best, and is most knowledgeable when it comes to dealing with and understanding humans,” Yuukyou proclaimed. Asakura Ryouko blushed shyly.
“Well, it always pays to have good looks. People get more co-operative that way,” she rationalized. That is very true.
“Actually it’s quite unnecessary, Asakura-san,” I said quickly. “I’m very willing to help you guys out.”
“Call me Ryouko,” the pretty girl said, making eye contact with me. She had a very pleasant smile. “Also, there is actually a personal aspect behind why I agree with this move too.” She winked suggestively.
“Ah, you want to get closer to me so you can understand how I use my powers better than your comrades, don’t you, Ryouko-san?” I said, keeping in mind that information-gathering was these aliens’ raison d’être. In response Ryouko lowered her head and pouted unhappily. She looked immensely cute that way.
“Don’t be so cold, Akira-kun,” she whimpered. “I just want to be friends with you.”
I instantly replaced my unimpressed expression with one of astonishment.
“It’s just a desire that subsists in me after having been assimilated into the human mentality,” she clarified. “A fondness for a fellow human being, most usually of the opposite sex, which eventually breeds a yearning to be with that person.”
I can clearly see where she was going. But seeing somebody so impossibly beautiful and perfect saying things like this to me… It was almost like a scene out of an anime for me to experience first-hand.
“You want to be my companion?” I inquired. I did not want to say ‘girlfriend’ in case I was reminded of Haruhi. Her face went a deeper shade of crimson, and broke eye contact with me at once. Nobody could tell she was an alien from outer space, at this rate.
I chuckled. “I don’t see why not. You can be my companion.”
As suddenly as she showed her forlornness just a few moments ago, she brightened up again, and grinned at me gratefully.
“Thank you very much, Akira-kun. I promise you won’t regret. Ah, my shift’s over. I have to get changed. Please excuse me; I shall join you guys later.”
She departed with a flourish of her long bluish hair. I quickly thought of something…
“Was she listening to me the whole time?” I asked Yuukyou. I had not seen her so she must have been behind me the whole time, and only the other two would have seen her.
“Only from the part where you agreed to help us did she come around. It is true, you know, she also has the most vested interest in you compared to all of us. She was very impress at you character, especially during the time you were still with Haruhi,” Yuukyou said. I shuddered tartly.
Noticing my detachedness, Yuukyou added, “You know, if it’s really that bad, you shouldn’t keep it all to yourself.”
I gazed up from my parfait. He looked genuinely concerned. I sighed.
“You should already know everything. You’ve been observing us this whole time, haven’t you?”
“I’m sorry, none of us were present to witness it when the both of you broke up,” he took a casual sip of his coffee, and eyed me expectantly. “What happened?”
I sighed again. “She socked me one in the eye with her fist, somehow managing to fracture my skull, and left me for dead there and then. And it thundered and rained heavily for a whole week nonstop after that. Come to think of it, it can all be linked to, as you say, her innate ability.”
“You’re absolutely right, Akira. I’m so sorry.” He began inspecting my face carefully, especially around my left eye. “How’d you fix it?”
“I opened up a dimension and willed it to fix itself,” I mumbled. It was the most logical thing to do at that time.
“You better get it checked though. I’m not too sure somebody of your caliber can fully understand the anatomy of a human skull and heal it accordingly. No offence meant. I’m just concerned that the wound might open up again.”
I tucked into my dessert obliviously.
“You must’ve aggravated her pretty badly that time. We witnessed an all-time high of data spikes and anomalies emitting from her during that week-long period, and plenty of foreign dimensions, the kind similar to that in which you met the esper, sprang up everywhere and lingered around for vast periods of time,” he stated.
“She brought it all onto herself,” I said bitingly in between mouthfuls of parfait. “I made a very bad decision, and ended up bottling all that spite within me, until I felt I had to make my feelings known to her. Of course she was unhappy to hear it, and unreasonable as well. That’s how it ended; with a crack.” I felt it better to be general.
“So isn’t it your fault for making that bad decision?” Yuukyou countered.
“Yes, I was at fault there, Haruhi recognized it too and accused me of that. I admitted defeat, but I couldn’t bear to blame myself. You needed the logic of a champion chess master not to make that decision in such circumstances. Who knew she kept that kind of vulgar personality within that genteel façade…”
“You should learn to accept people for who they are. It’d make you a better person,” Emiri spoke cautiously.
“Then I won’t be human anymore,” I retorted. “She should change to somebody more acceptable instead.” Seeing Emiri’s sudden despondency, I added, “But I’ll consider doing that. Thank you very much.”
“You won’t have to worry about anything when it comes to me, though.”
Ryouko said that, but it was so abrupt and she said it while standing right behind me, so I leapt in shock. When I turned around to look she was cupping a hand over her mouth apologetically yet cutely. She had changed her waitress outfit for a casual t-shirt and jeans. Ryouko took the seat beside me a muttered a bashful ‘sorry’.
“You shouldn’t make it a habit to eavesdrop like that. You might lose your job,” I told her grimly. To make up for it I thoughtfully pushed my parfait towards her. She smiled amiably at me and accepted the offer, moving the glass towards her. I watched as she dipped the spoon in and withdrew a large mound of strawberry-laced ice cream, which she cheerfully brought close to my face. Instinctively I opened my mouth and let her feed me. Across the table I heard Yuukyou cooing playfully.
“I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,” she promised, spooning out some ice cream for herself. “This is exactly what I like about you, Akira-kun. You tend to be rather stern to people at times, but it’s because you care for them, and you show that by expressing your kindness to them.”
True, I am always like that, and it was no different with Haruhi. But, I felt I must have given too much leeway to somebody who does not have enough realization. This was what I believed had worsened her attitude. I found it hard to understand just then why I had cared for her so much.
“That’s just how you are, Akira-kun. And that’s a good thing,” Ryouko said.
I was alarmed. “Did you just read my mind?”
“No, you had that faraway expression that suggested you were thinking about something in the past. It’s about Suzumiya-san, isn’t it?” She asked uneasily. I nodded.
“Yes, I must agree with Emiri-chan here, you need to accept her for who she really is and be less rash in your actions. The whole town was flooded for weeks because you made her angry during that episode. Who knows what worse could happen should it happen again?” Yuukyou said.
“It won’t happen again, I’ve promised myself never to see her again,” I answered. “Besides, now that you’ve informed me of the extent of my abilities in comparison with Haruhi’s, if anything happens because of her, I can easily fix that, can’t I?”
“It’s not that easy, Akira,” he retorted, blasé. I nodded listlessly.
After the dessert treat which Yuukyou paid for we headed for home. Yuukyou and Emiri were taking a cab home, and agreed to meet at my apartment later on to conduct the data extraction (Yuukyou winked indicatively at me just before getting into the car), and leaving me to pillion Ryouko back on my bicycle. She steadied herself precariously on the struts of the back wheel and curled her fingers gently around my shoulders.
“Are you sure this is safe?” She asked with a shaky voice. Apparently she had not experienced this kind of transport before.
“Yeah, I’ll go very slowly so you won’t lose balance,” I assured her, pushing against the pedals and beginning a smooth pace. “What’s your door number, by the way?”
Yuukyou lives in the sixth floor, Room 601. Emiri lives in the eighth floor, Room 808. My room is numbered 506, and is located in the fifth floor beside a friendly middle-aged man residing in Room 507 and another neighbor in Room 505 whom I have yet to meet.
“That’s such a silly question, Akira-kun. Are you sure you still don’t know my door number up till now? You’ve been passing by it so many times now.”
Naturally I would have said yes, but something she hinted in that statement my question.
I could understand that Asakura Ryouko is nothing more than a Humanoid Interface constructed specifically to grant my every hankering fantasy so as to make relations with me as smooth as possible. But for some reason I actually did not mind at all.
Ryouko began massaging my shoulders affectionately.
“Nice to meet you, resident of Room 505,” I said.