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Normal Things

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You spend so much time with the abnormal that you forget, sometimes, just how normal you are.

School is the most relaxing part of your day. You see the other students walking home, talking amongst themselves, happy to be out of the daily grind or bothered by the prospect of whatever homework they have to do or haven't done and in that respect you're the same, but school is... fine. School is normal. School is safe.

You're not even at your front door before you get a phone call, and it's them, and you go. Because Suzumiya is part of that daily grind, and she gets bothered by things too. Most normal people find their own ways to rest and relax and get over it and most likely she does too, or thinks she does, but that's not enough. So you go, and you fight, and it's late by the time you get home. Time works strangely there, but there's still travel to consider. Getting there. Getting back again. Dinner's in the fridge.

You spend your days watching out for her and your nights filing reports. Sometimes, you get to sleep. More often you try to but find yourself unable, wide awake and wondering if there isn't something you're supposed to be doing. And it's fine to sleep. That's what you're supposed to do. Rest up, get some of your strength back. But there's so much more you're expected to do that those quiet moments feel uncomfortable; you've missed something, you've forgotten something, you've overlooked something. Worry has a way of keeping you up at nights, but it can be exhausting, too. Eventually, you sleep.

Your time is so divided and your masks are varied. Any given day (and night) might demand you to

- finish those reports
(because you're the only one with the practical expertise to be able to complete them)

or

- smile for suzumiya haruhi
(because she has another scheme that could have terrible consequences for the world if not pulled off just so)
(and your role is to agree with her, always)

or

- make a formal visit
(because the reports are valued, but they're not enough. You wonder how many times you have to repeat the same things in front of a committee before they understand.)

or

- attend a battle
(because smiling for Suzumiya wasn't enough this time, clearly)

or

- go to school, do your classwork, do your coursework, do your homework, revise and rinse and repeat
(because it would be conspicuous if you were to fall behind)

or

- it's the weekend, relax
(because even you have to do that, too.)

It's only been three years, but it feels like it's been so much longer. Of course, even you still don't know how this works; there was three years ago, and then everything changed. Espers came into the world. Asahina's group found themselves unable to access anything previous. There was the power surge and her and this. Did everything explicitly begin three years ago, or was it all re-written? One may as well have been as much as the other. This began three years ago but perhaps, in this possible 'new world' (nobody knows anything for certain), it's been going on for a lot longer. And you consider yourself lucky that you're the kind of person able to manage your time in such a way, able to present and convince and persuade and you wonder, also, if these powers really were given to you only by chance, on a whim, granted by the fickle hand of fate. You do what you have to do and you're good at what you have to do. Perhaps this was always how things were meant to be. You wonder if you believe in fate. Something's at work here, but you can't come up with anything for definite.

You do all of this, and it's fine. It's what you're expected to do. It's all you can do. You're given your missions and you accept them, you're asked to write reports and you do. It satisfies you to know that nobody knows of the secret priority you cast on all days no matter what the content. It's simple and it's silly, but you

- think about Kyon
(because for all you can remember in recent memory, you haven't been able to stop.)

It is in those moments that you suppose that you are normal; all of these other things don't matter, because you have somebody to think about. You do your background research and find nothing abnormal about him at all and you smile, because that's good. Because he's normal, too. Just a normal, human boy. You're not too sure that you can really believe that what with everything else surrounding him, but you'll run with it, for now. You check on his past and his family and discover more about him than he's ever told you and you suppose that this is quite invasive, in a way. But it's your job, and you'll never tell him what you know. Besides, secretly, it pleases you. It's nothing malicious. An invasion of privacy, but Kyon has no dark secrets.

Like the concept of Suzumiya Haruhi, you wonder too when precisely it was that you became aware of your feelings for Kyon. Sometime before now. Sometime after first meeting him. That's all you can specify. He's a normal boy with a normal life and you're fascinated.

You think of him in your idle moments, when nothing else is so important to encroach on your private time. You think of him while typing, running on auto-pilot and letting the words write themselves. So dry and stiff and formal. You think of him in the club room that lunchtime, admiring the way his hair has chosen to fall today, the way he's slouched back against his chair, the way he scratches at his neck pulling a little of his shirt aside, revealing just slightly more skin than it did before. You consider this between glancing at the chessboard, secondary thought relegated to your next move. It's alright to take your time. You don't have long for lunch, but it's just that sort of game.

(It can wait until after school.)

Each small thought is unimportant, and welcomed. It's something to think about that isn't official. It takes your mind off the monotony. (You tell yourself this.)

... Except it's not that at all, and you know it. You've known it for as long as you've been aware of it, that you're just not that kind of person. You wonder if you've changed, in these three years. Suzumiya wanted you to be the cool and mysterious transfer student, didn't she? Now you are. You're smooth and popular and it all comes terribly, terribly naturally. Enough to make you wonder.

You've not really been attracted to anybody before, not like that. Boys in your class would point and whisper and lean over to you, what do you think?... You never thought much, but never said that. It was the normal thing to lust over the girls in the year above, even if you were really too young to know what to do with those feelings. You played pretend until reality kicked in and you were suddenly presented by those feelings, harsh and invalid, and you wonder if this was what they spoke about all those years ago.

You feel embarrassed, sometimes. When you look up and realise Kyon's watching, and you smile it away like everything else but feel, for a moment, incredibly aware of yourself and aware of him. You weren't doing anything, were you? So why was he watching? You feel like you're pinned under a microscope, but Suzumiya is trying to force Asahina into another outfit and the moment is lost.

Sometimes you say something and he doesn't - or won't - understand it. He scowls and he grumbles and again, you smile, letting him work his own discomfort out. Obscure references and obtuse theories, because you find that far easier than being simple and direct. Because saying things like that means he's got to listen to you more, you get to speak to him more, you get to lead him through these complicated pathways of information when you could take the easy route, but don't want to, because you gain a little private satisfaction this way. Because when he's confused, it's rather sweet. Because you like the thought of, one day, being able to engage with him on an intellectual level. You're quite sure he's capable of it, but know that he's also the kind of person who would most likely rather spend his time normally, thinking about normal things. And that's fine. Because he's normal.

You're normal, too. You tell yourself this. Constantly. Repeatedly. Those thoughts have invaded your mind to the detriment of everything else and it's late and you should be asleep, but you're not, because you're thinking of him. You fuck your hand and imagine he's fucking you and remind yourself, this is normal. You're a normal teenager who, sometimes, has sexual thoughts about other people. It would be stranger if you didn't, surely? You think of him, because... you just do. Because you find Suzumiya charming and can acknowledge what makes Asahina attractive, in an objective sort of a way, but it's not them you think about. And you suppose that it's normal for some people to be gay, too. You know that, rationally, this could be anything; a phase that might pass, a definite sense of orientation, a glitch in the matrix, anything. In theory, it could be anything. In reality, it is this. And you don't know what it is.

You know that this can never be reciprocated. That thought is the most damning of all. You know it can't. Not just because you're a boy, and he's a boy, and you're both male and some people find that strange, but because of her and that and all this. Because he's the one that Suzumiya chose, under whatever context that falls. Because he's a rational and sensible sort of person, definitely not the kind to become so infatuated. So intoxicated. And you know all of this so can't help but tease him sometimes, just to see. Move in a little too close, because you know that it makes him uncomfortable. Because that is, as unsatisfactory as it is, as close as you can ever get.

You like Kyon because he makes you feel normal. Because, as much as you find these feelings hateful, you know that you are not alone in them. To consider them like that, they're almost boring. You lie there in some imitation of post-coital exhaustion and hate it, in a blank sort of manner. Because no matter how deep these feelings rage, you know you can never announce them. You think of Nagato, and feel jealous. She's there to observe, isn't she? She observes. Does she ever feel jealousy? Does anything she ever feels even begin to approximate what a human might feel? You don't know, but admire her at least for being good at her job. She never has nights like these, you're quite sure of that.

When you talk with Kyon, it's normal. He doesn't understand and you smile it away, but it's normal. Just simple conversation between two friends. Isn't it? Aren't you? You can call yourself that now, can't you? You're not too sure, and don't know how to ask. Nonetheless, you've been through a lot together.

You don't know if that makes it better or worse.

You let yourself be overcome, sometimes. Silly thoughts. Stupid thoughts. The curve of his neck and the blush of his lips, the tone of his voice and the shade of his skin. Any one of those thoughts could transport themselves into your imaginings, and each one feels like a tiny betrayal but he'll never know, and so you indulge. And you feel guilty, but you suppose you're supposed to feel that way. And this feels wrong, but more than that you know it a dead end, something that can never come to anything. And you're afraid, in love, and on your own.

(You stop, there.)

(It's too much.)