Участник:Hellerick/Билингвы/Судзумия Харухи 7-7 (ja-en)

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Chapter 7
駅前、ハルヒが俺と長門を見つけて応援団旗を持っているかのように両手を振り回した。その横にはちゃんと朝比奈さんがいて、少し離れて古泉もいた。ハルヒは躁的な上機嫌で、朝比奈さんもいつもより愉快そうな笑顔、古泉は俺にアイコンタクトを送ってきたが、言葉を発することなく前髪を指で弾いた。 Waiting in front of the station, Haruhi waved her hand madly like a cheerleader waving her flag the moment she saw me and Nagato arriving. Asahina-san stood just next to her, and a few steps away was Koizumi. Haruhi seems to be giddy to the point of being hysterical, while Asahina-san revealed a smile more cheerful than usual. Koizumi gave me a meaningful glance while flicking his bangs.
「ゆっくりだったじゃないの、キョンと有希。どこで油を売ってたの?」 “Kyon, Yuki, you two sure are enjoying yourselves. Just where have you been?”
ハルヒは長門に腕を絡めながら、 Haruhi said mischievously as she grabbed Nagato's little hands,
「本当はずっと図書館あたりで暖を取ってたんじゃない? 図書館に不思議なスポットがあるんだったらいいけどさ。あったわけ?」 “I bet you two were probably having a date in the library. It'll be better if you actually find some mysterious stuff in there, so did you?”
「ねえよ」 “Of course we didn't.”
ページを開いたら中の世界に吸い込まれる本はなく、行間から中の世界のキャラが飛び出てくることもなかったさ。もっとデカいか古いかする図書館の書庫にならあるかもな。 There weren't books which would suck the reader into another world, or books that people would emerge out of. Maybe you'll have better luck finding one or two of these books in those large and antique libraries.
「そうね、今度探しに行きましょ。古書専門店とかにね。あたしは鶴屋さんの一族以外立ち入り禁止の蔵ってのに入りたいけど、ご先祖様の遺言なんじゃしかたないわね」 “I see, then we'll try looking for them in those old bookstores next time. I had wanted to rummage through Tsuruya-san's ancestral store room, but that's off limits for outsiders.”
ハルヒはどこに行くという説明もなしに歩き出した。朝比奈さんと古泉は行き先を知っているのか、平気な笑みでついていく。俺と長門も。 Haruhi began walking at her own pace without declaring where we're going, and as though reading her mind, Asahina-san and Koizumi smiled nonchalantly and followed her. Nagato and I have no choice but to follow as well.
ハルヒに、おいどこに行くんだよ、なんてクエスチョンを投じても無駄なのは解り切っている。目的地が不明だとしてもかまわずハルヒは歩き続け、そのうち立ち止まった足もとを指差して「ここよ」と言って胸を張るだろう。SOS団号はハルヒ船長の操舵のもと、いずこへか出航し、まあ船の場合だったらバミューダまで行きそうだが、この時ハルヒが俺たちを誘ったのは、昨日も来た新装開店イタリア料理店だった。 I know very well that asking Haruhi “Where are you going?” was plain useless. Even if the destination was uncertain, she would still stride forward, then brake suddenly, point to where she's standing and declare proudly, “This is our destination!” If the SOS Brigade were to sail the uncharted seas under the guidance of Captain Haruhi, we might end up in Bermuda. Yet this time Haruhi simply led us to the Italian restaurant we'd been to yesterday.
昼飯を食っている最中、俺はたびたび朝比奈さんを眺めては複雑な心境を覚える。ナイフとスプーンを使って貝とエビのクリームスパをのどかに食べている姿。心を安んじるシーンだが、これから彼女は過去の俺と、バタバタした日々を送ることになるんだ。いっそ教えちまおうか。最悪、誘拐の件だけでも。 During lunch I glanced thoughtfully at Asahina-san many times. While I was relieved to see her enjoy herself as she ate her seafood spaghetti with her knife and fork, I realized that very soon she would be busy spending time with my past self, I felt like telling her everything, at least I should tell her about her getting kidnapped...
俺が葛藤していると、対面のハルヒが行儀悪く俺の皿の縁をフォークでこづいた。 While my mind was debating intensely, Haruhi suddenly roughly tapped the side of my plate with her fork and said,
「キョン、ぼうっとして何考えてんの? 悩み事でもあんの? 何だったら相談に乗るわよ、団長として」 “Kyon, what are you daydreaming about? If you have any problems, you can always tell the Commander.”
輝く瞳は元気の印だ。ハルヒはエイプリルフールでたわいなくついた嘘にあっさり引っかかったお調子者を見るような目で、 Her glittering eyes were proof of her enthusiasm. Haruhi then spoke with the look of someone who was far from amused by an unfunny April Fool's joke,
「それでさ、あんたがかけてきたあの電話。忘れたの? イタズラ電話よ。あれ、何だったわけ?」 “Oh yeah, you still remember that phone call you gave me? The prank call, that is, just what were you thinking?”
「ああ、それは」 “Oh, that.”
俺はお冷やを口を含むだけの時間を獲得してから、 I gulped for a while and said,
「我ながら面白くない冗談だった。なんかこう、そんなことを言いたい気分だったんだよ。言わなきゃよかったな。すまなかった」 “It was a stupid joke. I wasn't thinking properly then, if I had known the prank wouldn't work I wouldn't have called. Sorry about that.”
俺は朝比奈さんを一瞬だけ見つめ、ハルヒも同じ行動を取った。朝比奈さんは「え」みたいな顔でパスタを口に運ぶ手を止めたが、次の瞬間には俺とハルヒは再び顔を見合わせている。 I took a glance at Asahina-san, Haruhi did the same as well. Asahina-san replied with an “Eh?” and stopped sipping her spaghetti. We then turned to face each other again. “Not that it matters,” Haruhi said generously, “Next time be more creative with your prank calls, I'll give you bonus points if the joke's funny. Once you collect enough points you get to redeem them for a little prize. But be prepared to get a massive points deduction if the joke's not funny at all! Remember that!”
遠回しにイタ電を要求されているような気分だ。普通の連絡事項で電話したときにもジョークを考えておくべきなのかと悩み始めた俺を、ハルヒと朝比奈さんが類似したクスクス笑いで眺めた。 Feels as though she's asking me to give her a prank call. Does this mean I have to think up of a joke every time I call her? Seeing me looking troubled, Haruhi and Asahina-san began to giggle quietly.
* * *
ランチタイムの後、ハルヒは心残りなど何もなさそうに総員解散を告げた。朝比奈さん(みちる)さんから聞いていたものの、午前の部だけで終わりとは、さすがのハルヒも二日連続は疲れたと見ていいのか。その割には元気の弾けすぎている顔をしているが。 After lunch, Haruhi happily called it a day. I'd already heard from Asahina (Michiru)-san, but to dismiss the band after just a few hours in the morning... I guess having activities for two consecutive days was finally taking its toll on Haruhi as well, although she still remained as energetic as ever.
朝比奈さんが手で口元を隠しながら笑顔で俺に会釈し、長門は標準的な無表情で、古泉は見飽きたくらいの爽快さで、それぞれ違う方向へ向かっていく。 As we parted ways, Asahina-san smiled gently at me; Nagato remained expressionless; while Koizumi looked relaxed as though he'd seen it all.
ちょっとの間、ブラブラしてから俺は古泉をとっつかまえた。 I walked for a while before turning and calling out to Koizumi,
「礼を言っておくよ」 “I guess I owe you one.”
古泉は何事もなかったかのようなスマイル。 (no translation)
「どういたしまして。理想は未然に防ぐことでしたから、首尾よくいったとは言い切れませんね。カーチェイスは余計でした」 “Oh don't mention it. I was merely taking precautionary measures, and I'm not confident that they're adequate. I was pretty much redundant during the car pursuit.”
パトカーに乗っていた警察官姿の多丸圭一・裕兄弟は、あの人たちは本物なのか。実際に兄弟なのかどうかも疑わしいが。 Were those cops in the police car really the Tamaru brothers? I somehow doubt that they're even brothers.
「さて、ある時は孤島の館の主人とその弟、またある時はベンチャー企業社長とその弟、さらにある時は警察官コンビ……に身をやつした僕の仲間ということでいいじゃないですか」 “Well you could say they're my colleagues that sometimes pretend to be brothers who own a lone island mansion and run an investment enterprise, and sometimes pretend to be a pair of cops... would that do?”
森さんと新川さん。特に森さんの正体がどんどん怪しくなっている。 What about Mori-san and Arakawa-san...? Especially Mori-san, I'm beginning to suspect what her true identity is.
「お前の組織と、朝比奈さんや長門の親玉は手を握り合っているのか?」 “Is your organization working together with Asahina-san's and Nagato's bosses?”
「直接的にはノーです。ただし、いつの間にか暗黙の了解ができあがっていて、知らず知らず無言の連携を取っている場合はあるようです。僕にもよく解らない世界になっていましてね、いまや『機関』そのものが意志統一にほど遠い有様なんですよ」 “We aren't directly working together, yet for some time we seem to have created an understanding with each other, and have even joined forces unknowingly. The world is now headed in a direction which I'm no longer familiar with, and it may be some time before everyone within the ‘Organization’ can be united in understanding and intent.”
路地裏を歩き続けながら、古泉は片方の肩をすくめた。 As we continued to walk along the path, Koizumi shrugged his shoulders and said,
「一部の意見としては、宇宙人や未来人なんて本当はいないんじゃないかという極論もあるんです。長門さんや朝比奈さんは自分が宇宙人もしくは未来人だと思いこんでいる気の毒な女の子なのではないか、と」 “There are some among us who actually hold the extremist view that Nagato-san and Asahina-san are just pitiful delusional girls who think they're an alien or a time-traveler, and that there are no such things as aliens or time-travelers.”
いまさらそれはないな。保証書をつけてやってもいい。 Boy, they sure are stubborn even at this stage. These guys should come attached with a warranty for stubbornness.
「しかし、長門さんの魔法のような力や朝比奈さんの時間移動能力、それらすべては涼宮さんが発生させたものであって、そして彼女たちはそれぞれ自分たちが宇宙人あるいは未来人だと思いこんでいるだけだったとしたらどうでしょう」 “Well, they could argue that Nagato-san's magical-like abilities and Asahina-san's ability to travel through time are all triggered by Suzumiya-san, causing them to believe they're an alien or a time-traveler... What do you think about that?”
そこまで言っちまったら、どんなことでもアリだろう。 If they can say even that, then what couldn't they deny?
「あるいは神的な能力の持ち主は涼宮さんではなく、別の誰かなのかもしれません」 “Maybe the one with omnipotent powers isn't Suzumiya-san after all, but rather someone else?”
古泉は皮肉めいた微笑にシフトしたつもりかもしれんが、俺にはいつもの爽快ハンサム顔にしか見えん。 Koizumi's probably trying to add some sarcasm to his smile, yet all I saw was his usual grin.
「台風の中心部は晴れていますが、周辺部は暴風雨にさらされています。少し外れたポイントにいて外壁から真ん中を見下ろすような立場の人がいるかもしれません。いつも、いそがしく立ち回るのはあなたでしょう? もし自分が脚本家なら、そんな疲れる役を自分に振りますか?」 “The eye of the storm is very calm, yet it is surrounded by calamity. Maybe there are some that decide to watch from the sidelines and see how all this unfolds. You sure have been kept busy as well, would a scriptwriter play such a tiring character himself?”
古泉得意のあやふや解説だ。借りもあるので静かに聞いておいてやろう。聞いたことを覚えているかどうかは確約しきれないけどな。それができるんなら俺の成績はもっと小マシなものになっている。 There he goes with his ambiguous statements again, but since I owe him one, I might as well listen. Though I can't guarantee that I can remember everything, because if I could my grades would've improved by now.
「正直なところを言わせてもらえば、現実問題、僕も少数派になりつつあるんですよ。どの意見に帰属するのかと問われたら、僕はまず第一にSOS団を思い浮かべてしまいます。僕の所属団体はいまや『機関』よりもあそこであると感情が訴えかけているのですよ。だから、こうも思います。もし『機関』から与えられた使命がSOS団の利益を損なうような場合、果たして僕は葛藤などするのだろうかと、ね」 “To be honest, I'm beginning to be marginalized. If you ask me where I belong, then I would have to say it's with the SOS Brigade. My feelings tell me that rather than the ‘Organization', the SOS Brigade is where I truly belong. I've thought about it before, should the ‘Organization’ come into conflict with the SOS Brigade, would I be stuck in a dilemma? You know what I mean?”
長々と演説したところで俺は|聴 衆を続けてやる気構えだったのだが、こんな時に限って古泉は心情|吐露を短くすませ、ひらりと手を振って歩き去った。 Just when I was preparing for one of Koizumi's long-winded speeches, this time he chose to finish it with his question and part company with me.
* * *
* * *
俺は自宅に戻り、シャミセンとシャミセンの毛が散らばる部屋の床に座り込んで腕を組んだ。 After I got home, I sat on the floor of my room, now completely covered with Shamisen's fur. The project with Asahina (Michiru)-san was over, but the project with Asahina-san (small) has only just begun. In other words, I still have work to do!
手元に未来通信#6が残っていた。 I also still had Letter #6 from the future:
『すべてが終わったとき、あの公園で』 “When everything is all over, please come to the park...”
朝比奈さん(みちる)を元の時間帯に戻したのが#5なのだから、次はこの#6に従うだけだ。しかし、さてと。 I've already followed Letter #5's instruction and sent Asahina (Michiru)-san back to her time period where she came from, that just leaves Letter #6. But then what...
本当にすべては終わったのか? まだ何かあるような気がしてならないんだが、どうしてこんな気分になっているか自分でも解らない。メザシの小骨みたいなものが頭のどこかに引っかかっている。 Was it really all over? I felt like something's stuck in my mind, but I couldn't think what it was, just like getting choked by a fish bone and not being able to spit it out.
インプットのない頭をいくらひねっても答えは出そうにないので、届けられた朝比奈さん(大)の手紙を全部読み返してみた。どれも未だ意味不明で、俺たちの行為にどんなメリットがあるのかさっぱりだ。だったが。 It was pointless trying to squeeze dry a brain that's already empty, so I went back and read all of Asahina-san's (big) letters. The problem was that they were all so cryptic, I just couldn't guess what good following the instructions would bring, yet...
「そうだ。これ一つが例外なのか」 “Except this one,”
俺が取り上げたのは三通目の指令文書だった。 (no translation)
『山へ行ってください。そこに目立つ形をした石があります。その石を西に向かって約三メートル移動させてください。場所は、その朝比奈みくるが知っています----』 “Please head to the mountain. There lies a rock that stands out from the rest. Please move it three meters west of its original position. As for the exact location, Asahina Mikuru will know...”
これだけが、ハルヒの動きと連動している。SOS団全員で同じ場所に立ったのはここだけだ。無益な宝探し。何も出てこず、出ないことの解っている……。 Only this was linked with Haruhi, and this was the only place where everyone in the SOS Brigade had gathered. A fruitless treasure hunt, though I already knew the outcome beforehand...
もう少しで何かつかめそうだったが、妹が晩飯の支度の|終 了を告げに部屋に飛び込んで来たため、ひっかかりを残したまま俺は部屋を出るハメになり、風呂に入って頭を洗っているあたりで考えていたとっかかりすら忘れてしまい、浴槽の熱い湯に顎まで浸かっている頃には今日は早めに寝ちまおうということしか頭になかった。 As I was about to link all the missing pieces together, my sister charged in saying it was time for dinner. Reluctantly, I left my room. I decided to forget everything as I washed my hair in the shower. By the time I dipped my chin into the bath water, my mind will only be thinking of quickly getting some sleep.
だが、本日最後になってまたしても指令がやってきた。未来人からではなくハルヒから、下駄箱通信の代わりに妹が電話を持って。 As if right on cue, today's instruction finally arrived, save that it's from Haruhi instead of some time traveler, and instead of a letter in a shoe locker, the instruction came via the phone in my sister's hand.
「キョンくん、電話ー。ハルにゃんからー」 “Kyon-kun, your phone. It's from Haru-nyan,”
浴室の戸を勝手に開いてやって来た妹が俺に電話の子機を渡す。俺は手を振って妹を追い出しながら、受話器を耳に当てる。 My sister barged into the bathroom holding the cordless receiver, I quickly waved my hand and drove her out while placing the phone by my ear,
「もしもーし」 “Hello?”
『あ。ひょっとしてお風呂にいんの?』 “Oh, you're taking a bath?”
ハルヒの声が浴室にこだまする。その通りだが、変な想像をすんなよ。 Haruhi's voice echoed through the bathroom walls. Yeah, I'm taking a bath, so don't go around getting any funny ideas now.
『しないわよ、バカ。そんなことより、明日、また駅前に集合ね』 “Of course I wouldn't, you idiot. Anyway, as usual, we'll meet tomorrow in front of the station, got it?”
どうしてこんな時間にいきなり言い出すんだ? 昼の別れ際にでも言えばいいものを。 Now you tell me, why couldn't you say that when you dismissed the team earlier today?
『いいでしょ。こっちにも都合ってものがあるのよ』 “Well, I was sort of busy myself as well.”
お前の都合以外に何かあった例などあったか? I don't remember you being considerate about other people's free time.
『いいからっ! ああ、でも集合時間は昼過ぎでいいわ。うーんと、午後二時ジャストね。あんたは何も持ってこなくていいわよ』 “Shut up! Let's meet in the afternoon, um... two o'clock would do. You can come empty handed,”
あんたは? What about you?
「こっちの話よ。いい? 明日の二時だからね。来なかったらメッチャ後悔すること請け合いなんだからね、時聞厳守よ時間厳守、いいわね!』 “That's none of your business. Remember, two o'clock tomorrow, if you dare stay away I'll make you regret it for the rest of your life. Be punctual! See ya.”
早口で言うだけ言って、さっさと切るのがハルヒの電話作法だ。俺は子機を握ったまま風呂を出て、バスタオルで身体を拭きながら考える。 Haruhi has always been swiftly straightforward when talking on the phone. I stepped out of the bathtub with the phone in my hand and thought as I dried myself with the towel.
やっぱりまだ残っていたわけだ。今度は何だ。二月のハルヒはアンニュイモードから始まって、節分、宝探し、二日連続不思議探しと来て、これで最後か? “Here we go again, what is she up to this time?” Ever since entering into sulking mode in the beginning of February, Haruhi had gone through throwing soy beans in Setsubun, treasure hunting, and two consecutive days of mystery searching. Does she intend to end this all with a bang?
待てよ、どうして朝比奈さん(みちる)は言わなかったんだ。俺が彼女から聞いたスケジュールに明日の駅前集合は入っていない。朝比奈さんは無関係なんだろうか。知らなかったから言えなかった、または知っていても言わなかったか。 Hang on, how come I never heard any of this from Asahina (Michiru)-san? Meeting in front of the station tomorrow wasn't included in her itinerary. Did she have anything to do with it, or did she know nothing about it, or maybe she was deliberately hiding this from me?
そんな歴史なんかなかった、ってのは勘弁して欲しいぜ。 Please don't tell me that this part of history never existed...
* * *
* * *
もちろん言われた時間に言われた場所に行くのは習性以上に条件反射となっており、その日の午後二時五分前に駅前にやって来た俺を、すでに全員が揃って待っているのは冬の次に春が来る以上に普通の現象だった。 Yet arriving at the specified location at the specified time was becoming a habit for me. There were still five minutes remaining when I arrived in front of the station that afternoon, but the scene of seeing everybody already there waiting was more reliable than seeing the seasons changing from winter to spring.
珍しくもハルヒは俺の時間前|遅刻を咎めることをせず、喫茶店に向かうこともしなかった。 The sun must be rising in the west! Not only did Haruhi not blame me for my late arrival, she didn't lead us into the coffee shop either. We walked together to the bus depot, there Haruhi shoved me onto the bus as though escorting a prisoner.
気になるのは朝比奈さんが小さな欠伸を連発しては、慌てて口元を隠す仕草で、よく見たらハルヒも寝不足なのかしばしば目を擦っている。しかし俺が見ているのに気づくとキッと睨み、口をアヒルにして窓の景色に顔を向け、景色はどんどん緑が濃くなっている。 I was becoming aware of Asahina-san's constant yawns and attempts to cover her mouth quickly afterwards. I then noticed Haruhi also seemed to be lacking sleep as she kept rubbing her eyes. When she realized I was watching her, she quickly glared menacingly at me and turned her face away with a scowl to look at the scenery outside, which was becoming greener as the bus went along.
俺たちを乗せたバスは山を目指していた。先日、宝探しに鶴屋家の山まで行ったものと同じ道程だった。 The bus drove towards the mountain, it was the same road we took when we went treasure hunting on Tsuruya-san's private hill.
降りた停留所も同じだ。そして、また同じルートで鶴屋山山頂を目指すのかと思っていたら、 We even got off the same bus stop. Don't tell me we're climbing Tsuruya Hill using the same route we took last time?
「こっちから登ると遠回りなのよね。もともと裏道だしさ。南のほうに回って、そっから登るのよ」 “That is actually the longer and less direct path. This time we're going to climb from the south side on the other side of the hill.”
ハルヒがハキハキと歩き出し、朝比奈さんと長門も二度目の登山に何の疑問も持っていない足取りで続く。古泉はしばらく顎を掻いていたが、 Haruhi walked with steady footsteps, followed by Asahina-san and Nagato as they climbed the hill for the second time without hesitation. Koizumi rubbed his chin and said,
「さあ、行きましょう。ここまで来たら引き返せないのは僕もあなたも同じです」 “Let's go. We're here already, so there's no point in retreating anyway,”
わけの解らんこと言い、くっくっと鳩みたいな笑い声を上げた。 While chortling like a pigeon.
ハルヒは山の麓をぐるっと周回するように南を目指している。どこに行きたいのか、俺にも解り始めた。何度か来たことがある。ごく最近、二日連続で。 Haruhi walked around the outer range of the hill and began climbing from the south side. I was now aware where we were headed, as I had been there for two consecutive days not long ago.
広がるのは山以外には枯れた田んぼと畑のみ。一度目、俺は朝比奈さん(みちる)とこの道を辿って山を登った。二度目、SOS団全員でこの道を下りてきた。 Besides the mountain forest, a dried grassy field appeared before our eyes. The first time I climbed this way was with Asahina (Michiru)-san, the second time I came down the hill this way with the SOS Brigade.
あのひょうたん石のある場所、そこへ至る最短|距離の獣道に、ハルヒは先頭を切って入っていく。 Haruhi led the way, picking the shortest route as she led her brigade to the gourd-shaped rock.
「なるほど、道理でだ……」 “So that's why...”
俺が石を移動させた日、朝比奈さんにしては道案内がしっかりしていると思ったんだが、こうして何度か辿った道だからだったんだ。 On the day when I moved the rock, the reason Asahina-san was able to guide me directly to the destination was because she had already climbed this hill many times.
その朝比奈さんはハルヒに手を引かれ、危なげな足つきで山を登り、長門が後ろで転落防止係を務めてやっている。 And right now this Asahina-san was walking haphazardly while being dragged by Haruhi, with Nagato acting as her guardian and preventing her from falling.
すぐに例の場所に到着、ハルヒは中腹の平地部分にぴょんと飛び出すと、お気に入りの椅子であるように、ひょうたん石の上に座った。 Very soon we arrived at our destination. Haruhi quickly rushed onto the plateau, and as though finding a seat, sat right on top of the gourd-shaped rock,
「キョン、古泉くん、宝探し第二弾よ。考えてみればさ、一日がんばっただけであきらめちゃうのは粘りがなさすぎるってものよ。やっぱ、見つかるまでやんないと、宝探しってのはそういうものよ」 “Kyon, Koizumi-kun, we now begin the second phase of the treasure hunt! Think carefully, we were too impatient to give up after digging for only one day, we can't just leave empty handed!”
極上の笑みを見せたハルヒは、コートのポケットから園芸用のスコップを二つ取り出し、俺と古泉に向けて放った。 Haruhi revealed a bright sunshine smile as she took out two small shovels normally used for gardening from her coat pocket and threw them towards me and Koizumi.
「本当はこの前みたいにシャベルで隅々まで掘り起こしたいんだけど、特別にそれで許してあげる。それから掘るところも一つだけ、ここよ」 “I had wanted you to dig using those large shovels like last time, so I'm letting you off the hook this time! There's only one place we need to dig this time, and it's right here!”
自分の真ん前、つまりひょうたん石のすぐ側を指差している。三日前、俺と古泉が二メートルも掘った部分とまったく同じところだ。そこはもう掘っただろう、と俺が言う前に、 Haruhi pointed right in front of where she was sitting, at the side of the gourd-shaped rock. That was exactly where Koizumi and I had spent our life force digging as much as to two meters deep. Before I could say “We've already dug there before", Haruhi spoke again,
「なくしたと思ってた物がいつの間にか一度探した場所に戻ってることってよくあるじゃない? 宝も似たようなものよ。探し物は、何度となく同じ所を探して見るものなわけ。あたしがあるって言ってるんだから、あるわよ」 “Isn't it common that the things that people desperately want to find are actually lying in places which they've already gone through? The same goes for treasures, if you want to find them, you'll have to go through the same spot carefully. When I say there's treasure, then there has to be.”
花咲爺さんが飼っていた忠犬よりも確信に満ち溢れているハルヒだった。どういうわけか、朝比奈さんもうんうんと笑顔でうなずき、変わりないのは長門だけという|状 況下で、俺がスコップを手に何もしないでいる道理もなく、やっと俺は古泉が今|浮かべている微笑の意味を悟り始めていた。 Haruhi's confidence is greater than the loyal dog of the Old Man who Made the Trees Blossom. Asahina-san nods her head and smiles in agreement, while Nagato doesn't even move an eyebrow. In that case, I decide not to daydream while holding the shovel in my hand, and I began to understand why Koizumi was grinning.
掘り進めるのに時間も手間もかからない。事前に掘り返されていた土は軟らかく、小型スコツプでも余裕であり、深さもまたさほどではなく、ものの一分でスコップの先が固い物にぶち当たった。 I didn't spend a lot of time or energy while digging, as the dirt that we piled back in was already quite soft, so even digging with a small shovel was easy. Not to mention as I just stuck the shovel in the dirt, it immediately hit something hard.
ハルヒのニヤニヤ笑いを浴びながら、俺は土をかき分けて掘り当てた物を地中から取り出した。四角い箱はどうみても元禄時代のものではない。センベイかクッキーだかの缶製入れ物だ。三日前に俺と古泉が探したときにはこんなものはなかった。この三日間で誰かがここに埋め直した物に違いなく、誰が埋めたのかは考える余地もない。 Basking under the evil smile of Haruhi, I wiped the dirt away with my hands and picked up the object the shovel hit. The box I held didn't seem to be from the Genroku period, it was more like a senbei or cookie container. As I didn't remember seeing this when digging with Koizumi three days ago, someone must have placed it in here during that time, but I didn't have time to think of who it was that put it in.
「あけてみなさい」 “Well, open it,”
と、ハルヒが言った。小さい葛籠を選んだお爺さんを見る雀のような顔で。 Haruhi's expression is like that of the Tongue-Cut Sparrow when the kind old man who came to visit him chose his smaller present.
俺は缶に手をかけ、パカンと蓋を外した。 I held tight to the box and pulled the lid open with a “clang” sound,
「…………」 “...”
黄金でも小判でもなかった。だが宝物と言ってクレームが来ないくらいの物には違いないだろう。 There was no gold, not even a Koban coin. But I don't think anyone would complain if I said there was indeed treasure inside.
華やかな包装紙でくるまれ、綺麗にラップされた小さな六つの箱が入っていた。リボン付きなのは言うまでもない。 There were six little boxes wrapped delicately with shiny wrappings, with a ribbon on top on each of them to boot.
そしてやっと、本当にやっととしか言いようがない。 Finally, as now was the most appropriate time to use the word “finally",
俺は今日が何月何日なのか思い出した。というより気づいた。ある意味、七月七日より重要な日付だ。一部の男子学生にとっては。 I suddenly remembered what day it was today. Instead of remembering, it was more like noticing. For some guys, this day was far more meaningful than July 7th.
今日は二月十四日である。 Today was February 14th.
つまり、バレンタインデー。 Valentine's Day.
* * *
* * *
「手作りなのよ」 “I made them myself,”
ハルヒが横を向きながら説明する。 Haruhi leaned forward and explained,
「昨日の昼から夜までかかっちゃったわ。あたしとみくるちゃんと有希で、有希の家で夜なべしたのよ夜なべ。本当はカカオから作りたかったんだけど無理言わないでって感じよ。だからチョコレートケーキにしたわ」 “Last night, I've been working all night with Mikuru-chan and Yuki and even had to spend the night at Yuki's place. We had originally wanted to use just cocoa powder to make chocolates, but we thought that was too grandiose. So in the end we decided to make chocolate cakes instead!”
包装に貼ってあるシールに三人の手による文字が書いてある。三つずつ、俺の名前入りと古泉の名が記されているもの。 On each box wrapping there was a sticker with the name of myself or Koizumi handwritten by the girls; we both got three of these each.
スコップを置いた古泉は、几帳面に手を払って箱の一つを手に取った。「古泉くんへみくる」と書いてあるからそれは朝比奈さんが作ってくれた宝物だ。 Koizumi put down his shovel and picked up one of the boxes after elegantly wiping his hands free of dust. On top it was labeled “For Koizumi-kun - From Mikuru-chan". Now that's a treasure, made by the very hands of Asahina-san!
ハルヒは機関銃のように、 Like a machine gun, Haruhi began to fire away,
「そりゃもう作ったわよ! やってるうちに楽しくなってけっこう張り切っちゃったりもしたわよっ、けどいいじゃないのよ、あたしはイベントごとをことごとく押さえてないと気になって上の空になっちゃうし、正直言って『仕掛けられたとおりにハマってるんじゃない?』って思ったりもしたけど、それがどうしたって? いいのよ、こんだけ広まってる風習なんだから、わざわざお菓子屋さん陰謀論を唱え出すヤツのほうが寒いわっ! いいの! あたしも有希もみくるちゃんも楽しかったからね! ホントは唐辛子でも入れようかと思ってたんだけど、しなかったけど、何よっ、その目っ!」 “Of course it is! We made it specifically for you guys, it was fun and exhausting when we made it, but we're fine. I had been feeling uneasy about this secret plan, as I had wanted to laugh at you guys for falling for it, but what's the point? In the end, this has become a well-accepted tradition after all. Though there are still some that insist that this is all some conspiracy conjured up by the confectionery industry, seriously are they nuts? Anyway, I had fun making these with Yuki and Mikuru-chan, we even thought of adding pepper inside at first. Well, what's with that face of yours?”
いや、なんでもねえ。ただただ、ありがたい。本気でそう思うんだ。なんせ俺は今の今まで今日が世の男どもにとって妙にソワソワする日であることを完全に忘れていたんだからな。覚えていたら気の利いたリアクションを前もって考えておいたんだが、純然たる不意打ちをくらって女子団員三人の誰にも何も言えん。軽妙な受け答えも照れ隠しの韜晦もアドリブでは難しいんだ。たぶん俺にはそれをするだけの人生経験が足りてないんだろう。 “Oh it's nothing, I'm actually so grateful I could weep.” That's what I truly thought, since I had completely forgotten about the very day that all the men in the country had been so looking forward to. If I had known then I would have prepared some charming words, but this had come all so suddenly that I was at a loss on what to say to the three female brigade members. I was neither good enough to make an elegant response, nor was I prepared to act embarrassed. Perhaps that means I've still got lots to learn in life.
体中の力が抜けていく。すべての謎が解けた気がした。二月に入って挙動と情緒のおかしかったハルヒ。時間を跳んでやってきた朝比奈さんが宝探しについては言いにくそうだったこと。谷口のヤサグレ具合とお前はいいよな発言。 My whole body relaxed, now everything makes sense. Haruhi's irregular behavior at the beginning of February, the Asahina-san that traveled from the future not revealing any further details concerning the true nature of the treasure hunt, and Taniguchi's sudden dumping by his girlfriend...
ハルヒはあれだ、ずっとこのことを考え続けていたのだ。バレンタインデーにおけるチョコレートの渡し方。まったく全然、これっぽっちも素直じゃねえ。部室でくれりゃいいものを宝探しとか言い出して穴を掘らせ、その穴に埋め直しておくなんて、どんなヒネクレ者が考えつくんだ。てことは、そうか。鶴屋さんもグルか。つまりは宝の地図も嘘っぱちだ。ハルヒが簡単に宝をあきらめたのは、そんな宝など最初から埋まっていないのを知っていたからだ。ハルヒにとって宝と呼べるものは、あの時点ではこれから埋めるものだったんだ。その宝とは、すなわち今俺と古泉が手にしている三つずつのチョコレートで、こんなもののためにハルヒは二月の|上 旬をずっと不安定に過ごしていたってわけか。長門と朝比奈さんを巻き込んで。 Haruhi sure is something, so she was bothered by how she could give chocolates to me all this time, but she just wouldn't admit it. She could've just gave them to me in the classroom, but instead she had to come up with treasure hunting as an excuse, just so we could dig a hole for her to bury the chocolates inside, that's how indirect she is. Does that mean Tsuruya-san was an accomplice to this as well? The treasure map was probably fake as well, the fact that Haruhi gave up the hunt so easily meant she knew there was no treasure all along. That was because the treasure she mentioned had not yet been buried until the suitable time. So it was this treasure - the three pieces of chocolate cake Koizumi and I each received - that made Haruhi so uneasy, she even dragged Asahina-san and Nagato into it as well.
なんという----。 Now how should I say this...
バカ野郎だ。こんなことを企画したハルヒも、それに気づかなかった俺も。 “You stupid idiot!” That was for both Haruhi, who had planned this, and for myself, who had not figured this out earlier.
「義理よ、義理。みんなギリギリ。ホントは義理だとかそんなことも言いたくないのよ、あたしはっ。チョコもチョコケーキもチョコのうちだわ」 “They're just obligation chocolates! They should be obligation chocolates, sort of! Actually I don't know why they have to call it obligation chocolates. Chocolates and chocolate cakes are both made of cocoa anyway,”
秋の草むらで鳴く変な虫みたいなハルヒの声を聞きながら、俺は気力を振り絞って頭を上げた。 Haruhi sounded like one of those strange insects chirping in the autumn grass fields. I slowly made an effort to lift my head up.
ハルヒが怒り顔で睨んでいる。朝比奈さんはイタズラ娘のような優しい笑み、長門は無表情に俺の手元を見つめていた。 What I saw was Haruhi's eyes looking glaringly at me, Asahina-san smiling gracefully like an adorable girl who just did some mischief, and Nagato looking blankly at my hands.
「ありがとうございます。大切に食べますよ」 “I'm extremely grateful for this gift. I'll definitely enjoy it,”
古泉に先を越された。ハルヒはきゅっと| 唇 を引き結んでから、 Koizumi spoke before I could... Haruhi twitched her lips and said,
「帰ったらすぐに食べちゃうことをお勧めするわ。晩ご飯の前に一気食いする勢いでね。神棚に飾ったりしないでよ」 “I hope you quickly finish them all when you get home, even better if you do it before dinner! Don't take them as offerings to some shrine!”
ハルヒはぷいとまた顔を横向け、すっくと立ち上がった。 Haruhi hurriedly turned her head away, and then quickly stood up,
「じゃあもう帰るわよ。イベントは終わったらすぐに席立たないと帰りの乗り物が混雑するんだから。あたしは眠いわ。明け方まで、それ、やってたんだからね。それから徹夜のままここ来て埋めて、また戻って有希んとこで二時間くらいしか寝てないの。みくるちゃんも、有希もそうなんだからね!」 “Let's go home. If we don't leave after the activity ends, we'll get stuck in a traffic jam on the way back. Boy, I feel sleepy, we worked all the way till sunrise, you know? And we had to come and bury them here afterwards, so by the time I got back to Yuki's place I only slept for two hours. Mikuru-chan and Yuki as well!”
* * *
* * *
その帰り道だった。停留所でバスを待っている間、ハルヒは俺から最も離れた場所で明後日のほうに視線をやり、決して目を合わそうとしない。やれやれ。 On the return trip, when we were waiting for the bus at the bus stop, Haruhi stood furthest away from me and stared at the skies, totally avoiding eye contact with me. Oh boy.
俺は隣にいた朝比奈さんに小声で囁きかけた。 I whispered to Asahina-san who was standing besides me,
「本命はなしですか」 “Do you have anyone that you like?”
「うん」 “Um,”
どこか寂しそうに、朝比奈さんはこくりと、 Asahina-san said looking despondent,
「ここで誰かを好きになっても、あたしはいつか未来に戻らないといけないから。お別れしないといけないのが決まってるんです。その時が悲しいでしょう……?」 “Even if I did fall for someone here, we would have to part when it's time for me to go back to the future. That would be too painful for me...”
なんというマトモな意見だろうか。反論の糸口すら見つからない。完壁なまでの正論で、そうであるがゆえに、そのまま納得するのが躊躇われるほどだった。 Such an impeccable way of thinking, there was no way I could argue against that. Yet even when faced with such a perfect argument, I was still hesitant on whether to accept this fate.
「ずっといればいいじゃないですか」と俺は言った。「この時代だってそんなに悪くはないでしょう。未来にはたまに里帰りすることにして、住民票をこの時間に移しちまえばいい」 “Then don't go back,” I said, “This time period isn't that bad, is it? You can always go back to the future anytime, only you will have made your new home here.”
「うふ、ありがと」 “Hee hee, thanks,”
朝比奈さんは緩やかに微笑んで、思わず奪いたくなる唇をほころばせた。 Asahina-san smiled gently, I was really tempted to kiss those pink lips of hers, which were like a flower that had just blossomed.
「でも、ここはあたしの生まれた時間じゃないんです。故郷はあっち、未来なの。いいえ、あたしにはここは過去。お客さんなだけ。未来がわたしの現在で、自分の家。いつか帰らないといけないところです」 “It's just that this period isn't the period where I was born, my home is in the future. I mean, as this is technically my past, I'm simply a visitor here. The future is where my present and where my home belongs. Someday I would have to go back.”
竹取物語だな。どんな対策を講じても止めることができず、その時が来たら地上から去ってしまう。それは彼女の居場所がそこではなかったからだろう。俺だってそう思うかもしれない。 She is like the Kaguya-Hime, nothing can be done to stop her from leaving the mortal world when the fated time arrives, since she doesn't belong here after all, or at least that's what I truly think. If I were to go back a few hundred years into the past, at first I would be feeling curious about the new environment I was in, but after a while, I would begin to miss the advanced tools and machines, the crisp display of a video game, the microwaved boxed lunch from the local convenience store, and trying to write a meaningless text message or make a phone call that transcends time with my cell phone. In any case, nothing beats being able to sleep in a nice warm bed in your own room.
いくらここで同じことをしていても、朝比奈さんには自分の時間ではないように思えるんじゃないだろうか。なんたって過去にいるわけだ。不自然な場所にいたら、あんまり気も休まらないんじゃないかと想像はできる。 Even if she could do all the same stuff in this time period, Asahina-san would probably still feel out of place here. She is, after all, just a visitor, and I guess if a person is in a place that doesn't feel like home, she would probably feel unsettled as well.
「あっ、でもでも」 “Oh, b... but...”
慌てたように朝比奈さんは手をパタつかせた。 Asahina-san frantically waved her hands and explained,
「こうしているのが楽しくないんじゃないですよ。とてもやり甲斐があるし、がんばらないとって思ってるんです。本当、キョンくんがいてくれてよかったぁって思ってます」 “This doesn't mean I'm unhappy here. I've found staying here to be quite meaningful, allowing me to work hard to become even better. Actually I'm grateful that you have always been by my side, Kyon-kun.”
嬉しいことをおっしゃってくれるじゃないか。ちょっと試しに言ってみよう。 I was very delighted to hear her say that, so I decided to try something to see how she really feels,
「じゃあ、帰るときに俺を未来に連れてってくれるってのはどうですか?」 “All right then, when the time comes for you to return to the future... Why don't you take me along?”
そんなことになったらハルヒが黙っていないだろうから、 Though Haruhi's not going to keep quiet about it if that were to happen.
「もうこの際全員で未来旅行といきましょう。ハルヒも長門もついでに古泉も連れてってやりゃいいんです。文句は俺が言わせたりしません。ああ、だんだん未来に移住すんのも悪くない気がしてきた」 “Then we could have an SOS Brigade tour of the future. We'll bring Haruhi, Nagato, and Koizumi as well, I can guarantee there'll be no complaints from them. Hmm, now that I think about it, it wouldn't be too bad moving to the future either.”
「ええっ」 “Eh!?”
妖精のような瞳があっけに取られたように見開かれ、 The fairy-like round eyes now widened in astonishment,
「ダメっ、ダメです。ものすごく禁則|事項です。そんなこと……」 “N-No, you mustn't! That sort of action is absolutely forbidden...”
しばらく朝比奈さんは驚いた顔をしていたが、ようやく俺の表情に気づいたのだろう、口を閉ざすと、細い肩を揺らし始めた。 The fear in Asahina-san's face stayed for a while, but then she noticed my expression. She quickly shut her mouth and her shoulders began to move gently,
「うふふ、もう。キョンくん、冗談ならもっと冗談っぽく言ってくださいよー。びっくりするじゃないですかぁ」 “Hee hee, really, stop making such serious jokes. You gave me a scare.”
「すみません」 “Sorry.”
そうさ、冗談に決まっている。ここは俺がいるべき時代だ。今までさんざんな目に遭ったり、特に三年前から四年前にかけてせわしなく行ったり来たりもしたもんだが、必ず帰って来ることになったのが今のここであり、SOS団の部室である。高校生活だってまだ一年に満たないし、ハルヒだって現代にまだまだやり残したことをわんさか残しているだろう。あいつが何もかも完了する日が来るなんてありえんのかね。だったら、未来に逃亡を図るにはまだ早すぎるってもんさ。 Yup, it was obviously a joke. The time period where I must exist is here in the present, though I have gone through lots of hardship, including having to travel to and from three to four years in the past; yet right now, the SOS Brigade club room is still the place where I would go. It's still less than a year in high school, Haruhi still has plenty of peculiar ideas waiting to be explored, and it's likely she won't give up so easily. So it's still a bit early to think about leaving everything behind and escaping to the future.
朝比奈さんはいつか元いた未来に帰ってしまうのかもしれない。しかしとりあえず、今はまだ帰っていない。それでいい。楽しい時間を連続させていれば、おのずと未来も楽しいものになるだろう。かつて彼女が言ってた時間平面がどうしたというパラパラマンガの比喩、そいつを参考にして言うならば、すべてのページにギャグだけを重ねていって、ラストの一枚だけがホラーになるなんてことはないよな。そんなもん俺は納得しねえ。誰だってそうだろ? There will come a day when Asahina-san would return to the future, but at least for now she is still with us, and that is enough. If all the happy moments were to be joined up together like beads in a necklace, the future would probably become interesting as well. Asahina-san once described the various time planes as a series of still images in a cartoon. In that case, if every page consists of comedy, then it's simply impossible for the last page to contain any horror elements. I'll never allow that to happen, I mean, who would?
俺は一度、ハルヒたちSOS団の仲間を失って、それから取り戻した。そん時の決意を俺はまだ忘れちゃいない。これから何がどうなるんだとしても、たとえ転けようが倒れようが必ず前向きにだ。たった二ヶ月前に刻みこんだ決意をあっさり| 翻 すほど俺は全方位型のお調子者じゃない。ただし「やれやれ」は除かせてくれ。ありゃ特別だ。 I once lost Haruhi and my friends from the SOS Brigade for a brief while, but now they're back within my embrace. I'll never forget that determination I had then. No matter what difficulties I'll face, how many times I fall, I'll never stop going forward. I'm not the sort of bridge-burning expert that would so easily abandon a decision I made just two months ago. I only ask that the exclamation “yare yare” be reserved exclusively for me.
つまり、いくら安っぽいプライドでも叩き売りにかけるにはもうちょい値が下がってからだということだ。やれやれと首|振りながらも全力で前に出ていれば、そうとも、セリフなんてどうだっていいんだ。「このバカハルヒ」でもいいし、「俺もつれてけ」でもいいし、長門のように無言でもいい。二人三脚で走る際には誰だって相方と脚を結ぶさ。一人で三脚を兼ねるより、五人六脚するほうがまだ簡単だ。 In other words, no matter how cheap one's self esteem is, the price would still be too high to be able to sell it in a flea market auction. Even if one were to sigh “yare yare", it'll be fine as long as he's willing to give it his best. Nobody cares about the dialog anyway, whether it's “Haruhi, you idiot,” or “Take me with you,” it's fine if you keep as quiet as Nagato as well. In a three-legged race, everyone's foot is strapped with their companion, as it's impossible to run a three-legged race by tying one's own legs together, and it's even more fun running with five people in a six-legged race.
そのことを、この一週間で俺は強く学んだ。 After the events of the past week, I came up with the above realizations.
* * *
* * *
駅前と自宅を行ったり来たりする日々だった。だが、それもしばらくは間隔が開くだろう。とうとう最後までハルヒはそっぽを向き続け、ろくに挨拶もせずに背を向けた。憤然と大股で歩いていく我らの団長|殿だったが、さて明日はどんな顔をして教室にいるのかね。 It's been quite some time, starting with the ritual of meeting in front of the station to coming back to call it a day here. All this time today Haruhi has turned her face away, she didn't even bother talking with her back turned to me. As Our Excellency the Commander then walks away in great strides, I wonder just what sort of expression she would appear with in the classroom tomorrow?
俺はポケットに収まった小箱の重みを確かめながら、朝比奈さんと長門に謝辞を述べ、朝比奈さんはかえって|恐 縮したように「黙っててごめんなさい。涼宮さんに固く口止めされてたの」と頭を下げた。なに、長門にすら有効なハルヒの口止めだ、無理もありませんし、だいたいこんな重要行事を忘れていた俺のほうがどうかしている。ここしばらく様々なことがあったとは言え、まるでバレンタインがNGワードにされていたようにすっぽり抜け落ちていた。 I made sure the boxes were still in my pocket as I thanked both Asahina-san and Nagato. Asahina-san even bowed apologetically, “I'm sorry for hiding this from you, because Suzumiya-san had forbidden us to say anything...” What's really amazing is that Haruhi had managed to keep Nagato's mouth shut as well. Anyway, it was understandable, since even I had completely forgotten such an important day. After going through so much stuff, the arrival of Valentine's Day was the last thing I could think of then and it had quietly slipped past my consciousness.
自室に戻った俺は、ハルヒの命に従うわけでも晩飯代わりにするつもりもなかったが、いそいそと三つの包みを開けた。透明なプラスチックケースの中に、溶かしたチョコレートでコーティングされたケーキが入っていた。 I entered my room and hurriedly opened the three small boxes, but I did not intend to have them as my dinner as Haruhi had asked me to. Inside the transparent plastic box was a cake coated with a chocolate layer.
ハルヒのが円形、朝比奈さんがハート形、長門のは星形をして、おのおの表面にホワイトチョコで文字が書いてあった。 Haruhi's cake was round, while Asahina-san's was heart-shaped, and Nagato's was star-shaped. On top of every cake were some words written using white chocolate cream.
ぶっきらぼうに「チョコレート」とそのまんまなことを印しているのがハルヒで、「寄贈」と見事な明朝体を躍らせているのが長門だ。朝比奈さんのものには「義理」とあり、らしくないなと思いかけたらオマケ付きだった。急いで書いたらしい文章、「涼宮さんにこう書くように言われました」とメモられたキッチンペーパーの切れ端がケースの底から現れる。三人が長門のマンションのキッチンで大騒ぎしているシーンを思い浮かべながら、俺は三つの贈り物を冷蔵庫にしまいに行った。妹が勝手に喰わないよう、念を押すことも忘れるわけにはいかない。 Haruhi simply wrote the description of the cake “CHOCOLATE"; Nagato's cake was written in very proper handwriting “COURTESY"; while Asahina-san's was written “OBLIGATION CHOCOLATE", just when I was thinking this doesn't sound like her style, I noticed there was more to it. Under her box was the corner of a handkerchief, with a message that read “Suzumiya-san asked me to write it like that,” It seems to have been written in a hurry. I imagined how the three of them worked their hats off in Nagato's kitchen, and then placed the three present boxes into the refrigerator. That reminds me, I gotta remind my sister not to nick those cakes as well.
* * *
* * *
陽が落ちてから、俺は自転車で漕ぎ出した。 As the sun began to set, I got on my bike and began pedaling.
最後のチェックポイントは長門のマンション近く、公園の例のベンチに指定されている。 The final checkpoint was near Nagato's apartment complex, the long bench inside the park.
暗く無人の公園で、外灯の光にポツンと浮き上がるベンチに先客はいない。チャリを停め、公園に足を踏み入れてもまだ人影は現れなかった。 Inside the dim, empty park, the bench that was brightly illuminated by the street lamps was empty. Even after parking my bike and walking into the park, there was not a single person in sight.
冷たいベンチに腰を下ろし、俺は虚空に声をかけた。 I sat on the icy-cold bench and said towards the air,
「そこにいるんでしょう、朝比奈さん」 “Are you there, Asahina-san?”
ベンチの背後にある常緑樹の植え込みがガサガサと音を立て、ゆっくりとベンチを回って待ち人がやって来た。 A rustling noise was heard from the bushes behind the bench, and the person I was waiting for walked around the bench and made her appearance,
「座っていい?」 “Is it okay for me to sit down?”
もちろんです。話は長くなるかもしれない。 Of course it is, we may even chat for a long while.
「ふふ、わたしはあまりお話できないと思うけど」 “Hee hee, I'm afraid I might have to make things brief.”
朝比奈さん(大)の優麗な姿が俺の横に席を確保した。冬の装いをした大人バージョンの朝比奈さんは、そうして見るだけなら一般人とまるで変わらない。見ている者の目が熔けそうになるくらいの美貌を除けばな。 Asahina-san's (big) elegantly beautiful figure was now sitting on the empty space beside me. Wearing winter attire, Asahina-san was no different from anyone else, save that frost-melting beauty of hers.
俺は冬の空気を吸い込み、吐き出しながら言った。 After inhaling the cold air of winter, I breathed out some white vapors and said,
「説明してくれるんですよね」 “Can you explain everything now?”
「どこからにしましょうか」 “Now where should I start?”
「俺と朝比奈さんがやった、お使いみたいな初っぱなのイタズラから」 “You can start from the first prank which the little Asahina-san and I had to carry out like an errand.”
地面に釘を打って空き缶をかぶせ、気の毒な男性を病院行きにさせた。もう遠い日のことのようだ。 The prank where a poor man had to go to hospital for getting his foot injured after kicking a can that was nailed to the ground. It now felt like ages ago when I mentioned it again.
「そうしなければならなかった理由があるの」 “Was that really necessary?”
朝比奈さんは斜めに向けた顔を淡く微笑ませ、 Asahina-san tilted her head and smiled softly,
「キョンくん、想像してみて。もしあなたが何年でも何十年でもかまいません、過去に行ったとして----」 “Kyon-kun, please think carefully. Whether it be a few years ago or a few decades ago, if you could go back to the past...”
慎重な口調だ。 She carefully chose her words,
「そこで過去の歴史を見ることができたとします。でも、その歴史が自分の知っているものと違うものだったら?」 “And witness history in the making. Yet when that history is different from what you remember, what would you do?”
「違うものってのは?」と俺は飲み込めない。 “What do you mean by ‘different?'” I didn't understand what she was getting at.
「たとえば、あなたが去年の今日に時間|遡行したとします。その時の、一年前のあなたはどこにいましたか?」 “Let's say if you went back to one year ago today, what were you doing then?”
たぶん、部屋でゲームしてたかでしょう。誰かにチョコレートもらって浮かれていた覚えもない。 Probably shut up in my room playing video games. I don't remember getting giddy over someone sending me chocolates then.
朝比奈さんは小さくうなずいて、 Asahina-san nodded her head slightly,
「その歴史が違っている状態を考えて。あなたが一年前の自分の家に行ったとき、その家にあなたが住んでいなかったらどうですか? あなたも、妹さんも、ご両親もいない。あなたの家には別の知らない家族が住んでいる。そして、あなたの家族はあなたの知る自分の家ではなく、どこか遠いところで別の人生を歩んでいたとしたら……」 “Now try to imagine a situation that's different from that version of the past. When you travel back to your home one year ago, but find that you weren't living there. Instead of your sister or your parents, the place was now occupied by another family. Even your relatives have become different from the ones which you knew, living a totally different life in another place...”
そんなバカな。 How is that possible?
「過去に来てみたら、わたしたちの知っている歴史と微妙にずれていたら、その未来にいるわたしたちがどう思うか解る? 過去は常に未来の干渉を受けねばならないとしたら。そうしないとわたしたちの未来が形成されず、別の未来になってしまうとしたら」 “When, after traveling to the past we find out that history is slightly different than it was as we knew it, do you know what we from the future would think? If every moment in history depended on interference from the future, then our future would never be able to exist if we did not interfere, and everything would change...”
朝比奈さんの声が少し遠くなった。まるで述懐しているような口調で、 Asahina-san's voice began to stray away, as though feeling nostalgic about something.
「本来なら生き続けていないといけない人が死んでいる過去。本来なら出会っていたはずの二人が出会わない過去。その過去を放置していたら、わたしたちの未来が訪れないと解ったとしたら」 “A past where someone dies when they're supposed to live; or where two people have never even seen each other when they're supposed to be good friends; if we leave these situations alone, then our future would never arrive...”
寂蓼感のある微笑みがさらに翳った。 Her lonely smile was now cast in a lonely shroud,
「種明かしをしますね。あなたが置いた空き缶を蹴って足をケガしたあの人、病院でとある女性に出会います。二人は結婚して子供をもうけ、その子供は次の子孫を残すことになります。それはあの時、あの男性が病院に行ったからなんです。それ以外に出会う歴史はありえません」 “I'll get to the point. The person who got injured kicking the empty can that you placed will meet a certain lady in the hospital. Afterwards, they get married and have children, and pass the torch to the next generation. This was all because he went to the hospital that day, otherwise those two would never have met in their whole lives.”
その男性が俺と一緒にいた朝比奈さんを見上げ、微笑ましい表情を作った映橡がフラッシュバックする。 An image of the man smiling uncomfortably while looking up at me and Asahina-san flashed before my eyes.
「あの記憶媒体もそうです。データをあの状態にして届けることが必要でした。その人は偶然から同じデータを構築することになっていたの。でも、その偶然の目がこの過去にはなかったんです。もしかしたら抹消されていた。だから送る必要がありました。できるだけ偶然を装う形で」 “The memory device was the same, it was necessary to deliver the data in that condition. Someone may have stumbled on similar data by coincidence, only this coincidence didn't exist in the past, perhaps it was erased. That was why we had to deliver the data ourselves, and try our best to make it look like a coincidence.”
花壇に落ちていた記憶メディアを誰かが拾い上げ、たまたま適当な宛先を書いて送ったところがその人だった----とか、と彼女は説明した。 “Someone picks up a memory device from a flower bed, and just happens to send it to someone else at the right address.” - She continued to explain.
俺は二の句が継げない。そんな偶然があるわけがない。おまけにあの時には、変な野郎が現れてデータを手渡しまでしてくれた。あいつが邪魔していたらどうする気だったんですか。 I didn't know how to respond. That sure wasn't coincidental, not to mention the freak that appeared then, and handed the memory device to us. If he had decided to create trouble, then how would things turn out?
「彼は邪魔をしません。そのデータは彼の未来にも必要だったものです。だから彼もこの時代に来ることができています」 “He wouldn't dare, that piece of data means everything to the existence of his future as well. That was why he came to this time period,”
朝比奈さんは明瞭に、 Asahina-san elaborated in simple terms.
「わたしたち、未来からはそれは必然でした。でも、あなたやデータをもらえた人にとっては偶然なんです。時間はそういうふうにできているの」 “For us future time-travelers, that is a predetermined event; but for you and the recipient of the data, it's a coincidence. That's how time works,”
「…………」 “...”
頭がくらくらしてきたのは、俺のイマジネーション可能領域を軽々|突破しているからだろう。 I feel a bit dizzy, maybe it's because the dialog had broken through the boundaries of my comprehension with so much ease.
「亀とあの子が出会ったのも偶然です。あの子はあの時、二人の男女から亀をもらったことをずっと覚えていました。男の人が亀を川に投げ入れたとき生まれた波紋や、ぼんやりと流れていく波紋。亀は長生きして、あの人はその亀を見るたびにその様子を思い出すことになります。それがきっかけになって、そうね、一つの基礎理論が生まれます。別の要素がたくさん組み合わさった結果なのだけど」 “It was also coincidence that the boy had seen the turtle. He will always remember the little turtle he obtained from a young man and young woman, as well as the ripples caused by the young man dropping the turtle into the water, and how the ripples slowly disappear as they dispersed from the center. As turtles live very long lives, every time he picks up the turtle he would always think of the scene he saw then. Though there were many other factors, but it all came from this event, which would inspire him to formulate a set of basic theories.”
おそらく----と俺は目眩とともに想像を飛躍させる。あの少年はタイムマシンの発明者か何かになるんだ、あわやの交通事故にゼニガメ。俺の手が未来を変えたわけか。あの少年の未来と、この世界の未来を。俺がやったちっぽけな働きのおかげで…… Could it be... while feeling dizzy, my imagination began to go wild. Perhaps that boy would one day become the inventor of the time machine, and the one who inspired him to think about the turtle turns out to be me, causing changes in the future. Thanks to my unconscious interference, that boy and the future of this world has...
出し抜けに別の記憶が| 蘇 った。文化祭の数日前、映画のクライマックスに四苦八苦していた俺に、長門が言ったセリフだ。 A memory from a corner of my brain was suddenly awoken. It was a few days before the school festival, something that Nagato said to me at a time when I was mightily busy while shooting the climax of the movie,
『未来の固定のためには正しい数値を入力する必要がある。朝比奈みくるの役割はその数値の調整』 In order to stabilize the future, it is necessary to input the correct value. Asahina Mikuru's mission is to adjust that variable to an acceptable value.
俺の記憶力も大したものだが今は感心している場合ではない。ここで最も気になるフレーズは、未来の固定のため、ってところだ。固定するも何も未来は一個だけだろう、という心境には、最早なれない。 Now was not the time to be feeling giddy about how good my memory was. The ambiguous phrase “in order to stabilize the future"... “There could only be one future, whether it was stable or not, right?” I had long since abandoned that idea.
未来は固定されていないのか? Could the future be unstable?
て、ことは、朝比奈さんのものとは別の未来がどこかにあるってことなのか? In other words, could there exist other futures apart from Asahina-san's future?
そう考えるとわずかに納得がいく。わずかだぜ。だが、未来が枝分かれしているというのなら、つまりだ。あの眼鏡少年が生きている未来と死んでいる世界の二つがあってもおかしくない。でもって、俺はあの時、後者の可能性を消してしまった。 It would make sense if that's the case, but only a little. If the future really diverged into many different branches, then there once existed two futures where the boy survives in one and is now dead in the other, it's just that I've killed off the possibility of the latter from ever happening.
ようするに俺は一つの未来を片腕一本でまるごと消滅させてしまったのだ。 That means thanks to my help, I had destroyed one future completely.
正解かどうかは知らん。そんな推測も成り立つと言うだけの、ここで『読者への挑戦状』を挿入したらドアホと言われるだけのモロモロな基盤だが、いったん思いついた妄想は簡単には去ってくれない。俺は茫然とし、さらに唖然ともした。他にどうしようがある? I didn't know if that was the correct answer. Even though this deduction was so weak that if I were to say “Here's a problem for our readers to discuss", I'd probably be condemned as an idiot; but it wasn't easy trying to dispel a wild thought that I had just formulated. When I thought about this, I just didn't know what to say. Was there more?
「分岐点がこの時間帯に集中していました。たいていはどちらの道を進んでも同じ未来になるんですが、あなたがこの数日でしたことだけは必ず分岐先があるんです。違う未来に続いていた……」 “The divergence points are mostly concentrated in this time period, though a lot would end up the same, anyway; but the things that you have done the past few days, if not done, would create divergences that would lead to all sorts of futures...”
優美な声が薄くなったように感じる。 Asahina-san's charming voice began to grow weak,
「近いうちに、もっと大きな分岐点がやってきます。とても強力な未来……。そちらが選ばれてしまうと、わたしたちの未来は……ええと、あまりよくないことになっちゃうかも」 “Very soon you will be faced with a great divergence, a choice that would cause a great change to the future... If you chose the other side, then it... um... it wouldn't be good for our future.”
何故か身体の動きが鈍い。朝比奈さんのほうを向こうとしているのに、くそ、顔が妙に強張っている。 I suddenly felt stiff for no reason, and I had wanted to turn and face Asahina-san. Damn, why can't I turn my face!?
「でも大丈夫。わたしは信じているから、ね?」 “But it doesn't matter, because I can trust you, right?”
俺の意識がかすみ始めた。モヤの中に見たことのある文字と線が渦巻いている。ホワイドボードの絵が頭の中で駆けめぐった。二つのXが渦の中に見える。古泉の仮説。X時点は二つある。 My consciousness began to blur, a familiar image begins to form in my dizzy mind, two curvy lines criss-crossing each other. The figure on the white board rotated in my mind, and in this whirlpool I saw two spots marked “X". There were two X's, that's what Koizumi said.
過去を完全に消し去ることはできない。修正された歴史は元の時間に上書きされる。 The past can never be completely erased. After being amended, history would simply be rewritten over its original time-space.
そして俺には別の思い出もあった。あのループする夏休みだ。俺たちは何万回も同じ二週間を繰り返していた。 This triggered another memory - we had experienced being in that never-ending two weeks of summer vacation for thousands of times already.
しかし、長門を除いて最後の二週間しか覚えていない。そのほかの何万回はなかったことになっている。なら、すぐに答えは出るじゃないか。 Except for Nagato, the rest of us only remembered what happened in the final two weeks, the previous thousands of times were as though they never existed. Then the answer became obvious.
過去はなかったことにできるのだ。事実として過去があろうがなかろうが問題にはならない。確かにそれがあったのだとしても、誰も気づかなければないのと同じだ。そのためには----。 The past can be erased, in fact it wasn't a question of whether it existed or not. Even if it did, it's as good as non-existent if no one had noticed it. So in order to achieve that...
記憶を消せばいい。 One would need to erase all memories of that past.
十二月十八日から二十一日の間、俺があちこち走り回って三年前に跳んだり朝倉に刺されたりしたという記憶を抹消されて、ただ病院のベッドで目覚めたとしたらどうなる? 俺はきっと、古泉の説明通りに階段から落ちて頭を打った拍子に三日間の記憶|喪失になっていただけだと思ったことだろう。 If all my memories of my experience between December 18th and 21st, as well as leaping back three years ago and getting stabbed by Asakura were all erased, what would have happened to me when I woke up in the hospital bed? I would probably have believed what Koizumi had told me - that I merely tripped down the stairs and knocked my head, then lain unconscious for three days.
文芸部少女となった長門や書道部の朝比奈さんやポニーテールが異常に似合う他校のハルヒや一般人化した古泉の記憶を、まるごと消されていたとしたら、時間のループやタイムトリップの整合性なんか気にしなくてすんでいた。 Nagato the Literature Club member, Asahina-san the Calligraphy Club member, Haruhi with her surprisingly fitting ponytail, and Koizumi as a completely normal person. If my memories of these people were each erased, then one would not have to worry about any time loops or traveling back in time to fix history.
だが、それでは不都合だった。 Yet, things just wouldn't fit that way.
十八日の未明、朝倉の一撃で瀕死になっていた俺は未来から来た俺たちを見て、もう一度俺がその時間に行かねばならないことを知った。異常化した長門を直せるのは三年前の長門だけで、実行したのは先月一月二日の長門。それだけは必要だった。 In the early morning of the 18th, after being attacked by Asakura, as I came close to death, I saw myself from the future. I realized then that I had to go back to that time. The only person who could provide a remedy to the astray Nagato was Nagato from three years ago, and the person to execute that remedy was the Nagato from January 2nd. Only these were essential.
そして時間は上書きされた----。 After that, time was rewritten...
寒気を感じる。ハルヒはそのことを知らない。谷口や国木田もそうだ。知っているのは俺と長門、朝比奈さんと伝聞情報のみの古泉だけだ。 I felt myself shivering. Haruhi knew absolutely nothing about this, neither did Taniguchi or Kunikida. The only ones who knew about this were me, Nagato, Asahina-san, and Koizumi who had heard about it.
だとしたら、俺がハルヒの立場に置かれていた可能性がないとは言えない。俺の知らないところで歴史が書き換えられていたとしても、仮に知ったのだとしても、その記憶がなければ事実もないってことになる。 If that's the case, it's not impossible that I could already be in Haruhi's position. I might or might not be aware that history was being rewritten; if I did not possess the original memories, then the “truth” would never exist.
それどころか、今こんなことを考えている俺が、別の時間|軸によって上書きされる可能性だってあるんだ。今の俺はなかったことになり、別の俺が未来に向かって進んでいく、そんな時問軸が。 Besides, it's possible that while I was worrying about all these considerations in the present, my past could be rewritten in another time period. My present self would cease to exist, my past self would move towards another future, and this was all because of the alteration in that time period.
“Erase all your memories concerning this incident.”
“No one can guarantee that something that hasn't happened would ever occur.”
一週間後から来た朝比奈さんは、一週間以内に自分と出会ったことはないと証言してくれた。だから俺は鉢合わせしないように苦労したのだ。だが万が一、出会っていたとしても大した問題ではなかったかもしれない。 The Asahina-san from a week later once guaranteed that she has never seen herself, so I went to great lengths to make sure they never see each other. If they really do meet, I don't suppose much harm could be done.
なぜなら、この時間にいた朝比奈さんからその記憶を奪い去ればいいだけだ。そうした上で一週間前に時間|遡行させれば、会おうが会うまいが結局どっちでもよかったことになる。 That's because the problem could be solved simply by erasing the present Asahina-san's memory, so that when she travels back to the past a week ago she wouldn't have remembered a thing. So it doesn't make much of a difference whether they met or not.
腹の奥で暗い情動がふつふつわき上がる。先月、病院のベッドで情報統合思念体に感じたものと同じ感情だ。今度の矛先は朝比奈さん(大)へ向いていた。 I felt a surge of negative feelings coming from my chest, this being the same feeling that I vented against the Integrated Data Sentient Entity when lying in the hospital bed last time, but this time those feelings were towards Asahina-san (big).
この人は過去の自分を、朝比奈さん(小)をいいように操っている。朝比奈さんをいつまでもオロオロしがちな頼りなく可愛い上級生のままにさせている。ああ、そうでないとダメだというのは解るさ。かつての自分の経験した歴史をそっくりなぞらせる必要性も理解する。過去に対する未来の対抗措置と古泉は言った。でも、もう少し何とかならなかったのか。 She had been toying with her past self, that is Asahina-san (small), in the palm of her hand. Making this Asahina-san play the role of a clumsy and unreliable cute elder-sister. Yeah, I know you had no choice, but to allow your past self to experience history as you had remembered it. This must be what Koizumi was saying about the future doing something about the past. But couldn't you come up with something better?
首から顔にかかっていた呪縛が解けた。横を向くのに一時間もかかったような気がする。俺は思いつくままのセリフを言おうと口を開き、そこに誰も座っていないことに気づかされた。 The curse that was constraining my head was finally released, I nearly spent an hour just trying to get out of this dizziness. Yet by the time I wanted to say what I was feeling, I found there was no one standing beside me.
朝比奈さんが俺の横から消えている。弱々しい外灯が照らしているベンチには俺しか座っていない。ただ、朝比奈さんの身代わりのように小さな箱が置いてあった。 Asahina-san had vanished into thin air just next to me, only I remained sitting on the bench under the dimly lit street lamps. However, in Asahina-san's place on the bench was a small box.
包装され、リボンのかけられた正方形の小箱。 It was a delicately wrapped, square-shaped box with a ribbon on top.
メッセージカードがついていた。灯りに透かしてみる。ただ一言『Happy Valentine』。 It even came with a card. Placing it under the light, I found a single line that said, “Happy Valentine.”
何の変哲もないチョコレートだった。未来のお菓子的な形も味もしない。朝比奈さんの時代でも菓子作りのレシピがそんなに変化していないのか、この時代に合わせてくれたのか。 A box of chocolate that could be found anywhere, without any flavors or styles from the future. Are chocolate recipes the same throughout the ages? Or did she make this chocolate according to the recipes of this time period?
「だけどな、朝比奈さん……」 “But Asahina-san...”
これで簡単に懐柔されたとは思って欲しくはないぜ。今日は今までとは桁外れに情報を提供してくれたが、それでもまだ不十分だ。自分の誘拐は言わずもがなと思ったのだと解釈してあげてもいい。しかし、バレンタインの絡んだハルヒの宝探しとひょうたん石に関しては、あえて言わなかったとしか思えない。そうさ、あれだけが全然無意味なんだ。ハルヒはどこにチョコレートを埋めてもよかった。あの石の近くでなければならない理屈なんてない。俺に石を移動させる理由もない。 You can't just keep me quiet like that. Yeah, you did make an exception and provided information, but that's not good enough. Leaving aside the fact that you said nothing about you getting kidnapped, but you were obviously hiding the truth behind Haruhi's treasure hunting and the gourd-shaped rock on purpose! That's right, there's something fishy about this. Haruhi could have buried the chocolates anywhere, for what reason must it be buried by that gourd-shaped rock? And why did it have to be moved in the first place?
それとも朝比奈さん(大)、これもあなたの読み通りですか? 今から俺がしようとしていることも、すべてあなたの規定|事項なんでしょうか。 Could this all be within the calculations of Asahina-san (big)? Has she clearly listed everything that I would do in her pre-determined list?
『すべてが終わったとき----』 “Everything is now over...”
どうやら今日じゃなかったようだ。いつかそのうち、その日に俺はまたここに来る。いっそのことSOS団全員で押しかけてやろう。ハルヒや古泉に説明する言葉を今のうちに考えていて欲しいものだ。俺にはオブザーバー役しかできないだろうからな。 Looks like it's still too early for that. There'll come a day when I would come to this place again, I might very well bring everyone from the SOS Brigade then, so you'd better come up with a satisfactory explanation for Koizumi and Haruhi! I'm just a mere observer, after all.
* * *
* * *
俺はその場で電話を一本かけた。 I quickly made a phone call,
「もしもし、あ、鶴屋さん? 俺です。ああ、みちるさんなんですけどね、自分の家に帰りました。鶴屋さんにくれぐれもありがとうと、借りた服は必ず返し……え、そうですか? それと、あのですね、明後日あたりにあなたのよく知っている朝比奈さんが意味もなく謝るかもしれませんが、聞き流しておいてください。それで彼女が離れに残した北高の制服がありますよね、それ、明日、学校に持ってきてくれませんか。ええ、俺んとこに。放課後までに」 “Hello? Is this Tsuruya-san? It's me, well um, Michiru-san has gone home already, she wanted me to thank you for taking care of her, and she said she would return the clothes you lent her... huh, really? Oh and, when you see Asahina-san the day after tomorrow apologizing to you for no reason, please let her be. And can you please bring the North High uniform she left behind to school tomorrow? Yes, bring it to me before school ends,”
ここまではただの報告だ。俺は鶴屋さんの『あーい』という明るい合いの手を聞きながら、息を整える。 This was all that I needed to do up till now, after hearing Tsuruya-san going “Okay~” on the other side of the phone, I adjusted my breathing and said,
「それからもう一つ。こっちが本題です。鶴屋さんのあの山、宝の地図の山ですが。ああ、そのことならいいです。ハルヒも回りくどい手を使ったものだと……。ええ、もらいましたよ。四つ、いや三つね。まったく楽しいイベントでした」 “There's one more thing I need to tell you, and this is the most important. You know your family's private hill? The one with the treasure map, that is. I see, it's fine. I never thought Haruhi would go in such a large circle just to... Yeah, I got four, um I mean, three from them. It's pretty interesting,”
鶴屋さんの上げる笑い声を遮り、 I tried to suppress Tsuruya-san's deafening laughter and continued,
「その宝の地図の話でもあるんです。あの山の南、田んぼの脇から登ってく道があるんですが、知ってます? それなら話は早い。そこを登ってすぐに平らになっている部分があるんです。それも知ってますか。じゃあひょうたんみたいな石があるってことは? うん、実はあるんです。でですね、その石が置いてあるところから、東に三メートルほど行ったところ[#「東に三メートルほど行ったところ」に傍点]を掘ってみてください。面白いものが出てくるかもしれません」 “You know from that treasure map, you could actually climb the hill from a path that leads from the marsh grass fields? Great, that makes things easier to explain. From this path you'll come to a flat plateau, do you know there's a rock that resembles the shape of a gourd? I'm not kidding, honest. Go east about three meters from that rock and try digging on that spot, who knows, you might find something.”
疑問符のついた応答をする鶴屋さんに、 I then said to Tsuruya-san, who was sounding very puzzled,
「俺にも確証はないんで百パーセントじゃありませんが。でもありそうな気配なんですよ」 “I don't have any evidence, so I can't be absolutely sure. But there should be something,”
もし俺が石を移動させておかなければ、ハルヒは目についた石を目印にしてその場を俺たちに掘らせただろう。そして何かを見つけたかもしれない。見つかるはずのない何か。見つけてもらっては困る何かを。 If I hadn't moved the stone from that place, Haruhi would have probably asked us to dig on that spot the moment she saw the rock. And she might have ended up discovering something that's not supposed to be found and discovered.
西方向へ三メートル。俺が石を抱えて歩いた距離だ。たったそれだけ。 All I did was merely move the stone westwards for about three meters.
鶴屋さんに適当な生返事をしておいて、俺は電話を切った。 After giving some random responses to Tsuruya-san, I hung up the phone.
せめてもの抵抗さ、朝比奈さん。俺はあなたも未来も出し抜くつもりはないが、それでも何かをやってみたい時だってあるんだ。 This is a small act of defiance from me, Asahina-san (big). I have no intention of playing mind games with you and your different versions of futures, I just want to play a prank from time to time.
ハルヒほど傍若無人ではないにしろ。 Though I wouldn't go as far as Haruhi would, of course.