The Genderbending of Haruhi Suzumiya [Spoilers Aplenty]
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Suzumiya Haruki No Setsubun, part 24. The End: 'Action!'
Nagato started to beat the drum, providing the beat. We could have found a tape that included drums, but Koizumi had vetoed that idea and said something complicated about 'evoking a primal response'. I let it go because I got the odd impression that Nagato wanted to do it.
Three white-clad girls - Koizumi, Taniguchi and Kunikida - danced out into the circle, bowed to each other, turned outward, bowed to the audience I hoped and prayed they couldn't see, then turned inward again and clasped hands.
The boombox started to play its tune; violins screamed, copper instruments droned, and the drum thundered under and over all. I could barely see Nagato's hands move, he was drumming so fast. His face remained as impassive as ever, though.
I heard my cue in the music and danced out onto the circle, the skirt of Makuro's black
whirling about my legs. A voice started to sing. I never bothered to ask Koizumi which member of the Organization provided the vocals included in the music tape. Or did they hire a professional singer?
wa soto, fuku wa uchi,
awe and rule the land."
The white-clad dancers parted before me, reformed their circle around me, started to skip along clockwise. I whirled whiddershins, hands raised to the sky.
wa soto, fuku wa uchi,
And humans build
Humans seek shelter from the storm."
Tsuruya-sempai came onto the dancefloor, whirling the staff that looked so much like Makuro's as if it were a quarterstaff. The chiming of the little bell fit into the rhythm of the music, its silvery note a part of the energetic din.
Tsuruya-san started to dance around the circle of white-clad girls, matching me step for step, staff whirling all the time. His golden mask glittered and gleamed as if the midday sun were shining on it.
"A man rises high,
A woman reaches for the sky,
Ask questions why.
They clasp their hands
The white circle parted, and I reached out, put my hands on the silver staff between Tsuruya-sempai's. We danced, whirling around and around each other until I felt dizzy. But I couldn't afford to feel dizzy; I tried to fight it off, to stay in the rhythm.
Around us, the world seemed to contract ... expand ... contract. Was the white blur that surrounded us the threesome dancing clockwise around us, or was the fog closing in? I felt as if I were being watched. The scent of the incense was far stronger than it should be, was filling my head.
was soto, fuku wa uchi,
Humans stand upon the land,
Believe they rule until the end,
They do not understand."
I had to stay clearheaded. Had to be ready for ... Now.
I threw up my hands and somehow managed to stay on my feet when my brother burst in between Tsuruya-sempai and myself. My brother 'stole' the staff from Tsuruya-sempai, managed to flick his heels and danced in the middle of a star drawn in chalk. Tsuruya-sempai shook his hands at the sky in mock fury and accepted another staff, this one made of plain wood, out of Taniguchi's hands.
Kunikida and Koizumi circled me, supported me while Tsuruya-sempai and my brother began a fight that looked spirited, but had been choreographed to within an inch. And the singer and the instruments droned on, while Nagato released a rhythm that set our blood pounding.
And no man can stand before,
And no woman shall rise up a'more."
My brother 'defeated' Tsuruya-sempai, who 'fell' to the ground and quickly rolled himself out of the dancing area without getting up. I threw my hands up to the sky in a gesture of despair, and around me the other girls did the same. My brother started to dance around us, counter-clockwise, and we fell into step.
One by one, the dancers in white loosened the straps of their
and flung them aside, leaving them clad in faux tiger's hide. My brother stopped on a star and jumped and twirled, flicking the staff so its bell chimed. I stood in place on a moon and raised my hands to the sky again, while the three other girls, now in full
disguise, danced around my brother.
“As was at beginning,
So ‘tis at the end.
Against what was meant to be
No mortal may defend.
Oni treasures hold
While mortal substitute enfold.”
Beyond the dancing girls, Tsuruya-sempai dug both hands into his tote bag and brought them out, filled with flower petals harvested from night-blooming jasmines. He started to throw them into the air as the girls passed him. The scent of flowers mingled with the incense, turning the air thick and heavy, and petals fluttered everywhere.
I was suddenly reminded of the time Haruki wanted to shoot scenes for his movie on the roof, and he set off fireworks. This smelled better, at least, but there was at least as much noise. Where were the irate teachers now…?
”As was at beginning,
So ‘tis at the end.
What was held at the start
Though to travel its part
To the owner must come
When all’s said and done.”
The fog was whirling all around us, twisting and darkening like storm clouds. Was I the only one who could see that? Was I the only one who could see tall figures wearing black suits and white Oni masks, staring at us out of the fog? None of the others reacted to it, so probably… Not really fair, was it?
I had to force myself to keep moving. The girls in tiger skin spun, leaped and twirled all around me. Four girls in tiger skin.
”You spirits gathered from far and nigh,”
I started to sing.
I know my singing voice isn’t that great. My grades in Art were somewhat disappointing to both my parents and myself when I was still in Elementary. But I practised my lines well, so please be content with that.
”You riders of thunder, you challengers of sky,”
”You shakers of mountains, who lightning hurled,
Gather near me now, hear the words of this girl.”
I directed my words at the fourth figure in tiger print, the one who shouldn’t be there but was. The short one. She moved quick as lightning, but I had no trouble picking her out between the others.
”As it was at the beginning, so it must be at the end.
The pact you must uphold, the damage you must mend.
What as token was given, it must be repaid.
The reversed equal is offered, so take now this trade.”
She whirled closer, the golden eyes behind her Oni mask burning like the eyes of a tiger. The air sizzled whenever she passed me. Closer. Closer.
”Your honours receive,
On your feast you may gorge.
Your rest you must take,
The prison you must forge.
Your blood you now bind,
The bound you must guard.
Rightful payment has been rendered
And we complete now this Art.”
I reached up and snatched the horned headband off, cast it into the air in front of her. The cold wind snatched at my hair, whipped it around my head. A small, pale hand reached out and snatched the extraterrestrial item out of sight. The smell of dirt and darkness cut through the heavy scent of incense and flowers, and I heard a voice grumble in the back of my head:
”Fine, then. I’ll take it, I’ll take.
The price is accepted; what is offered is not fake.
But know you this now, before I yield to your thrall;
When I accept what is rightfully mine, then I take it
There was a cold gust of air, a distant rumble of thunder… and the fog was just fog.
And I was suddenly
“Whoa, Kyon! Amazing finish! Cut and
Wait. I know that voice. But that voice shouldn’t be here. I’m covered in sweat, I’m exhausted from all the dancing, my throat is raw from singing at the top of my voice. Why am I so cold?
Looking down, I saw that the black
had disappeared, leaving me in my underwear. In accordance with the ritual’s instructions, today’s set had tiger print. I felt my cheeks catch fire from embarrassment. When I looked up and saw Haruki standing in the door that led back down into the school
with a hand camera
, I fell to my knees and shrieked.
In all the fuss that followed, with a chuckling Koizumi and a red-faced Asahina-sempai shielding me from view while Haruki laughed and clowned around with my little brother and Tsuruya-sempai, I almost didn’t notice that my yellow ribbon had been neatly tied around my right forearm…
Things were a little confused after that. I secured clothes from my bag, grabbed my little brother by the scruff of the neck and tried to flee home. That didn’t work.
“Kyon, amazing!” Haruki bellowed, patting my back so hard that he almost knocked me over and dislodged my grip on my little brother’s scruff. “I never knew you had it in you. We’ll have to rewrite the script to perfect it, but it’s a great start!”
“Why are you here?” I asked, my voice very bleak indeed.
“Aha, I must confess I informed Suzumiya-san of the time he should be here,” Koizumi said, an embarrassed smile on her face.
Really. I feel strongly motivated to inform the Grim Reaper when he should come to your house.
“Well, Suzumiya-san was so upset,” Koizumi said, waving her hands in a placating gesture. “I’m afraid your idea to surprise him failed due to my inability to remain strong in the face of his, heh, sulking.”
Itsuko grinned when she said that; her eyes twinkled. Haruki looked embarrassed, but blustered his way through.
“Who was sulking? I was angr – I was ups – You shouldn’t try to keep secrets from me, Kyon! You’re one million lightyears too early to try! All you can do when trying to surprise me is cause chaos and disorder in the SOS-dan, so learn from your mistake!”
“Lunch is served!” Taniguchi called.
Yes, I noticed you trying to insert your whole head into Asahina-sempai’s picnic basket. I’m glad to see you managed to extract yourself before the rest of us had to starve.
“Right,” Haruki said. “Let’s eat, then we can talk about the alterations to your script, Kyon. I can see we need to make a great many changes…”
“Can’t that wait?” I asked. “I’m exhausted.”
“So eat, eat and regain your energy!” Haruki said as he pulled me over to where Taniguchi, Kunikida and Tsuruya-san were setting up Asahina-sempai’s handmade delicacies. Asahina-san was pouring tea, bless him. The fine smells of food and drink were slowly driving away the thick scent of incense and jasmine.
“Mitsuuru-kun!” Haruki bellowed, causing Asahina-sempai to leap a foot into the air. “For the next, improved performance, I think we can put you in a different role…”
“I had to tell him,” Itsuko whispered to me.
Your face is too close. Your apologies are pointless. I will have my revenge.
“I understand completely. Would it help if I told you that Suzumiya-san was generating a rather impressive Closed Space, and my superiors in the Organization twisted my arm in the matter?”
“I shall take it under advisement,” I grumbled. “But you either you or Nagato has to do something for me.”
“I will, of course, be most happy to assist you in whatever way I may,” Koizumi told me. She smiled brilliantly and slipped her arm through mine. “Also, I am certain that the Organization will be happy to extend its support, now that your performance has resulted in the continued safety and vitality of Suzumiya-san. Needless to say, I doubt we would have survived if Mashiro had been released to devour him.”
That’s great, but you’re too close.
“Somebody has to get that camera away from Haruki and erase the film before he puts me on youtube or niconico in just a tiger print bikini and panties,” I said.
Itsuko glanced over at Haruki, who was forcing Asahina-san to waltz with him. The camera in question was nowhere in sight, but there was a bulge under his shirt which seemed familiar.
“Might I try to get you a million yen as compensation for emotional trauma, instead?” she suggested. “It might be more easily done.”
It’s been a
time since I wrote an instalment for
. Gentle readers, I hope you enjoyed it! I can end the story here, or there can be an epilogue. How say you?
Something new is coming. We bid you welcome ... to Overshadowed Earth.
The start of
Suzumiya Haruki no Setsubun
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