Участник:Hellerick/Билингвы/Судзумия Харухи 7-8 (ja-en)

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Epilogue
翌日、朝礼ギリギリで教室に飛び込んだ俺は、ふくれ面の谷口やそんな級友をからかう国木田を無視して自分の席の後ろに声をかけた。 The next day, after just making it to school on time I barged into the classroom, and ignoring Taniguchi looking grumpy and Kunikida chatting with other classmates, I sat down and began flirting with the person behind me,
「よう、元気か」 “Hey, how's it going?"
「当たり前でしょ」 “I'm fine, of course!"
ハルヒは陰謀を巡らせている時特有のチェシャ猫笑いを返してきた。おやまあ、睨む前に笑いかけられるとは、こいつも一晩で感情を入れ替えられるタチなのか。 Has Haruhi's gentle cat-smile, an indicator of her being up to no good, returned? Whoa! She didn't even look at me when she made that grin. Looks like she's the sort that would change moods after sleeping for one night.
予鈴を聞きながら席に着いた俺の背後から、にゅうと首が伸びて耳元で囁き始めた。 When the first bell rang, Haruhi stretched her neck from behind and whispered to my ear,
「キョン、言っておくわ。昨日のこと、ベラベラ喋っちゃダメよ。特に谷口とかにはね、内緒にしておきなさい内緒に。あたしが恥ずかし……くは別にないけど、いい? あんまり吹聴すんのはよくないわ。希少価値が薄れるし」 “Kyon, I'm warning you, don't go around talking about what happened yesterday. Especially not to Taniguchi. This has got be kept a secret at all costs, or else it'll be so embarra... ahem, anyway just don't go around announcing it. Gifts are best cherished."
何をゴニョゴニョ言ってんだ。もらったものなら俺は返さないぜ。食い物となるとなおさらな。 What the hell are you talking about? Once something has entered my pocket, don't even think of wanting it back, especially when it comes to food!
「返せなんて言わないわよ。だったら初めからあげたりしないもんね。それとは別の話。今日の放課後はいそがしくなるから覚悟しといてよ」 “Who says I'm asking you to return it? What are you getting so uptight for? If I wanted it back, I wouldn't have given it to you in the first place. Anyway, we're gonna be busy after school, so be prepared."
解っているさ。実は俺もいそがしいんだ。今日の朝比奈さんを八日前に行かせて、二日前から帰ってくる朝比奈さんを出迎えないといけない。それでようやく終わる。長い長い一週間が。 Roger that. Actually, I haven't been able to relax today, as I've got to send today's Asahina-san back to eight days ago as well as receive the Asahina-san traveling from two days ago. Only then would this long week come to a close.
* * *
* * *
その日の昼休み、鶴屋さんが俺の教室まで来た。滅多に弁当を持ってこないハルヒが学食に行っているのは幸いだ。俺は食いかけの弁当を放置して、「キョンくんーっ!」と廊下で叫ぶ上級生のもとへと走った。 During lunch that day, Tsuruya-san came to the classroom to look for me. It was good that Haruhi, who rarely brings a boxed lunch, had gone to the cafeteria. I put down my half-eaten boxed lunch and headed towards her as she yelled "Kyon-kun~!"
「ここじゃなんだからっ」 “Let's talk somewhere else,"
鶴屋さんは俺のネクタイを引っ張るように階段を駆け上がり、最上階のさらに上、屋上に出るドアの手前で足を止めた。かつてハルヒが俺を連れて行った薄暗い踊り場である。雑多な美術用品が転がっているのはあの時のままだ。 Tsuruya-san pulled my tie and dragged me towards the staircase before stopping just next to the door leading towards the roof. Haruhi had also brought me to this dark staircase, with all sorts of arts and crafts scattered about as before.
「いきなり本題なんだけどっ」 “I'll cut to the chase,"
俺を試すような笑みで、鶴屋さんは胸元から写真の束を出してきた。 Tsuruya-san smiled cautiously and took out a stack of photos from her pocket.
「ねえキョンくん、どうしてあっこにあんなもんが埋まってるって解ったんだい? あたしはものごっついたまげたよっ」 “Kyon-kun, just how did you know there was something buried there? That totally took me by surprise, you know."
やっぱり出てきましたか。で、何が。 You actually found something? So what did you find?
「とんでもないもんが!」 “Enough to surprise you!"
鶴屋さんは写真を|扇 状に広げて、 Tsuruya-san spread out the photos in a fan shape,
「まず一個ビックリしたのはさ、穴掘ってたら、ほんっーとうに、三百年以上前の壺とコンニチワしたことさ!」 “The first surprise is, when I began digging, there really was a three-hundred-year-old pot down there coming out to say 'hi' to me!"
差し出した写真にはひび割れだらけの土器がどこか白い壁を背景に写っている。 The photo she handed to me showed a pot with cracks all over, using a white wall as a background.
「三百年以上前ってのは確かなんですか?」 “Are you sure it's over three-hundred years?
「スーパー確かだよっ。アイソトープ検査までしてもらったし、なんと、中に入ってたのがまた驚き!」 “Absolutely sure! I even took it for some radiometric dating, but it's what's inside that's even more amazing!"
二枚目の写真中央にはボロボロになった和紙が写し出されていた。仮名文字が書いてあるみたいだが、俺にはさっばりだ。一つ解るのは、和紙の端のほうにどこかで見たような山の絵と、小さな×印がついているところだけ。その×印が山の中腹についてあるのが何とも言えない。 The second photograph showed a crummy old piece of paper, with some words written in hiragana, but it still looked blurry to me. The only thing I could see clearly was a familiar picture of a mountain on the edge of the paper, with a small "X" written on it. No guesswork was required to figure out what the "X" was referring to in the plateau.
「これがねえ、マジで鶴屋房右衛門、あたしのご先祖様が書いた文章なのさ。時に元禄十五年。内容は、ざっと訳すと『何だか変なものを手に入れたが妙な胸騒ぎがするので山に埋める』とかって書いてあんだよ、これ」 “This was really written by Tsuruya Yauemon, my great-great ancestor. The letter says 'I felt a bit uneasy after obtaining such a strange object, so I decided to bury it', it's dated at 15 Genroku."
ハルヒの宝の地図。あれにも似たようなことが書いてあったとハルヒは言った。そしてあっちはガセの地図で、こっちはマジ。 Haruhi also mentioned something like that being written on her treasure map, but that was a copy, while this was the real thing.
「でもこの房右衛門|爺さん、うっかりしすぎだよねっ。埋めた場所を書いた手紙を一緒に埋めてるんだものさっ。どうやって探せって言うんだっ?」 “But this Yauemon-jisan sure is absent minded, burying the letter and the treasure together. How are we supposed to find it that way?"
笑いながら鶴屋さんは三枚目を提示した。 Tsuruya-san smiled as she pointed to a third photo.
「何です、これ」 “What's this?"
写真に収まっているせいで縮尺の程度がよく解らないが、どうやら十センチほどの金属棒だ。地中で長い眠りについていたとは思えないほどピカピカで、目をこらすと表面に基盤のような線が蜘蛛の巣のように描かれている。無秩序な模様に見えて、その実は美しい対称性を持っていることに俺は気づいた。江戸時代の装飾品かな。 As the object was within the frames of the photo, I had no idea how large it actually was. It looked like a metallic rod about ten centimeters long. The surface was still shining so brightly it didn't look like it had been buried for three-hundred years. Upon closer inspection, one could see lines that resembled circuit wires, spread all over like a spider web. The pattern looked irregular at first sight, yet it was elegantly symmetric. Was this really something made during the Edo period?
「壺の中にあったのは手紙とこれだけ! しっかしこれが大問題なのさ。先祖のタイムカプセルから出てきたって、なかなか信じてくれなくてさー」 “We only found the letter and this in the pot! But here comes the problem, no one would believe that our ancestors' time capsule could contain such a thing..."
「どうしてです?」 (no translation)
鶴屋さんは嬉しそうに、写真を振って言った。 Tsuruya-san enthusiastically waved the photos and said,
「だってそれ、チタニウムとセシウムの合金だよっ?」 “Let me tell you, that thing is made of a titanium-cesium alloy!"
ここは驚くところなのだ。あとで国木田に尋ねて、改めて驚こう。 Now that was truly shocking, I should find Kunikida and tell him so I could freak myself out again.
「三百年前の地球の科学技術じゃこんなの加工できないってさ。調べてくれた人が言ってたけど、もしこれが本当に何百年も前のモノなら、超古代文明の遺産か、その時代にやって来た未来人の忘れ物か、よその星から来た宇宙船の欠片くらいしか思いつかんっ、とかって呻ってた」 “It's simply impossible to find the technology on earth three-hundred years ago to make such an alloy. The guy who helped me do the testing said if this was really from hundreds of years ago, then it either has to be an artifact from some super ancient civilization, or an item that a future time-traveler left before, or else it could be the fragment of an alien spaceship!"
……超古代文明はちょっと勘弁してもらいたいな。 ...Please don't let it be from a super ancient civilization...
「でも、これ、なんかの部品っぽいよねっ?」 “But, doesn't this looks like a spare part for some object?"
鶴屋さんは三枚目をしげしげと見つめ、そして俺に笑顔を向けた。 Tsuruya-san studied the third photo and then smiled cheerfully towards me,
「キョンくんはどっちだと思う? 未来人か宇宙人だったら、どっちがいい?」 “So what do you think, Kyon-kun? Would you pick an alien or a time traveler?"
邪気のない上級生は、さらにこんなことまで言って俺を無言にさせた。 I was left speechless when her innocent face suddenly came up with such a question.
「そろそろ決めといたほうがいいかもにょろよっ!」 “It would be better for you to decide quickly!"
* * *
* * *
鶴屋印の壷から出てきた謎のオーパーツは鶴屋家が厳重に保管してくれることになった。鶴屋さんが確約してくれたのだから安心だ。間違いなくそうしてくれるだろう。まずはハルヒの目に届かないようにするのが先決だが、実はある予感に苛まれていることを告白しておく。そんなことにはなって欲しくないと考えているし、正直考えたくもないのだが……。 The mysterious object found inside the pot stamped with the seal of the Tsuruya clan was placed under safe-keeping at the Tsuruya residence. It was reassuring to see Tsuruya-san slapping her chest as she promised to take good care of it, but that's to be expected. The priority is to make sure Haruhi hears nothing about this, but to be honest, I've got a bad feeling about it. I hope things will never turn out that way, and truth be told, I don't want to think about it any more...
その部品がいつか必要になる時が来るような気がしてならない。 I just have a feeling this spare part would make itself useful one day.
ひょっとしたら鶴屋さんに宝の在処を教えてしまったのは早計だったかな。誰にも教えず、俺が掘り返すこともなく、胸にしまって放っておくという手もあったかもしれん。 I wonder if I've told Tsuruya-san about this too soon? Would it have been a better idea, not telling anyone as well as not digging it myself?
しかしさ、できるか? そこに何かがありそうだと悟って、割合たいそうなモノが埋まっているらしいと気づいて、そのまま何もしないでいるようなことがさ。俺の知的探求心は知らない言葉をすぐさまネットで調べたくなるくらいにはまだ現役だ。 But could I do it? After realizing something amazing must be buried there, could I play dumb and pretend there's nothing there? My curiosity burns so strongly that if I see a word I don't understand, I search the internet until I find out everything about it.
それに、なんかの拍子にハルヒが掘り返す可能性を残すより、鶴屋さんの所有物となったほうが謎パーツにとっても幸せだろう。ある日|突然、超古代人か未来人か宇宙人が現れて、それを返せと言ったとしてもハルヒなら絶対うんと言ったりしない。そもそもあいつの目の前にそんなもんが現れて欲しくない。その連中が朝比奈さんや長門のように身分を隠してくれるとは限らないからな。過去に戻って現在を未然のものとするよりも、今できることをして未来の不幸を未然に防ぐべきなのさ。俺たちは現在で生きているのだから。 Besides, Haruhi might have decided to go back and dig some more. So it was good for this mysterious device that it could return to the safe-keeping of Tsuruya clan. Should a day arrive when the people from the ancient civilization, time travelers, or aliens would appear to claim the device back, judging from Haruhi's behavior, she would certainly tell them to go to hell. I never want her to see such an object, because those people would probably disguise their identities just as Asahina-san and Nagato have. Instead of traveling back to the past to keep the present intact, it's better to do my best to take precautions against any unforeseen events in the future, since the present is where I reside, after all.
* * *
* * *
鶴屋さんと別れた俺が教室に戻ると、ハルヒが俺の弁当を勝手に喰っているところに出くわした。 After parting ways with Tsuruya-san and returning to the classroom, I found Haruhi munching on my boxed lunch.
「おい、こら。それは俺のだぞ」 “Hey! That's mine!"
「解ってるわよ。あたしだって知らない人のお弁当を無断で食べたりはしないわ」 “Of course, I know that! I wouldn't eat a stranger's boxed lunch."
知っているヤツのなら喰っていいことにはならんぞ。返せ、吐け。 That doesn't mean you should eat the boxed lunch of someone you know! Spit it out!
「そんなことより」 “Let's leave that aside for now,"
ハルヒは空になった弁当箱に箸を入れて俺に突きつけながら、妙な顔で俺を見上げてきた。 Haruhi placed the chopsticks into the empty boxed lunch and shoved it over, while looking at me with a strange expression,
「あんた、何をそんな気持ちの悪い顔してんの? ニヤニヤしちゃって」 “What's with that gross expression, just what're you grinning at?"
ニヤニヤ? 俺がそんな顔をする理由があるか。と、俺は自分の頬を撫でた。驚いたことにハルヒが正しい。確かに俺の顔は弛緩しているというか歪んでいるというか。 Grinning? You tell me why on earth I would grin. Touching my face, I realized Haruhi was telling the truth, the muscles on my face must have been either relaxed or contorted.
「変な顔」 “Freak."
失礼なコメントを放って、ハルヒは顔を背けた。髪が舞い、やや幼めの耳元が覗く。 After making such a rude remark, Haruhi turned her head away. Her silky hair waved along and revealed her tiny ears.
その瞬間、どういうわけだか把握した。 At this point I suddenly understood something.
俺が無意識にニヤニヤしているらしい理由さ。だって、どうして笑ってなどいられるんだ? この一週間で俺はどんな目に遭った? もう一人の朝比奈さんとさまよい歩いたのはまだいいが、新型の未来人と新手の組織が登場し、朝比奈さんを誘拐したりなどの、さも敵っぽいことをしでかしてくれ、そいつらがまた出てきそうな上に、どうやらその勢いで別口の宇宙人までやってくるらしいことに加えて、山の中から用途不明のオーパーッまで出てきたって言うのに、へらへらしている場合じゃないだろう。 The reason why I'm unconsciously grinning. I wonder how I could still grin after going through so much this past week. Aside from having to spend time with the other Asahina-san, a new group of time-travelers and another esper organization have appeared, trying to cause all sorts of mischief like kidnapping Asahina-san. I won't be seeing the last of them, not to mention a rival alien faction could stick their heads in as well. To add insult to injury, a mysterious device was dug up on the hill. It just isn't the time to grin like an idiot.
そんなヤツはタダのバカであり俺はタダのバカでないつもりだ。俺が顔を緩めているんだとしたら理由があってのことだ。そうだとも、今にして気づいた。 Anyone who thinks that way is a simplistic idiot, and I have no intention of becoming one. That's right, by now I've realized this point, which was why I didn't keep such an uptight expression.
今までさんざんな目に遭い、これからも遭いそうだってのに現在の俺はまったく動揺していないんだ。何だろうが誰だろうが好きなように現れろ、と思っているんだ。 To date I've already experienced plenty of unfortunate events, and it will probably go on this way. However, I don't seem to be fazed by it all; in fact, I now feel that no matter what comes my way, they could bring it on.
なぜならば、俺はそいつらをちっとも恐れたりはしないからだ。来たいのなら来ればいい。相手をしてやろうじゃないか。だが俺一人で立ち向かうんじゃないぜ。きっとその時、俺の横には長門がいて、古泉がいて、朝比奈さんがいる。むしろ俺の前でハルヒが仁王立ちしているかもしれんし、後ろで鶴屋さんがケラケラ笑っているかもしれない。それでもいいのなら、やって来い。敵も味方も中立も共闘勢力も知ったことか。 Was it because I didn't give a damn about them? The wave would be imminent, but I won't be alone! I would have Nagato, Koizumi, and Asahina-san by my side supporting me, while Haruhi would place her hands on her waist and sit in front of me with her legs crossed, and Tsuruya-san would stand behind me laughing all the way. I don't care whether you're an ally, a foe, a neutral, or just have a common interest with us, so bring it on!
俺はハルヒから手渡された空の弁当箱に蓋をすると、ナプキンで包んで鞄に押し込んだ。 I closed the lid on the boxed lunch Haruhi handed me, and covered it with a handkerchief before placing it in my bag.
変な顔と言いつつ、ハルヒのほうがよほど変な顔をして俺を眺めている。それほど変か、今の俺は。 Calling me a freak, aren't you looking just as freakish with that expression of yours? Did I really look weird just now?
「なあ、ハルヒ」 “Hey, Haruhi,"
「何よ」 “What?"
眉を寄せるハルヒに、俺は言った。 I said to Haruhi, who had wrinkles on her forehead,
「SOS団を頼んだぜ」 “The future of the SOS Brigade depends on you."
パカリと口を開けたハルヒは、 Haruhi looked stunned for a while,
「あったりまえでしょ」 “Of course it does!"
瞬時に| 唇 と目の端を吊り上げるという独特な笑顔となって叫んだ。 Her lips instantly formed a grin as she shouted,
「それは、あたしの団なんだからっ!」 “I founded this brigade, after all!"
* * *
* * *
その放課後である。後は二人の朝比奈さんを入れ替えるだけだと思っていて、俺のやるべきことはそれで合っていたのだが、ハルヒのやることもまた一つ残っていた。いや、忘れていたわけではない。まさかこんな大騒ぎになるとは聞いていなかっただけの話だ。 After school, thinking that my work would be done once I had arranged for the two Asahina-sans to switch places, I had nearly forgotten about the "favor" Haruhi asked me to be ready for earlier this morning. Well, I didn't exactly forget, it's just that this activity was much bigger than I had expected.
俺が知らされていたのは、ハルヒがアミダクジ大会を開き、巫女の格好をした朝比奈さんが賞品|進呈係を務めるということのみで、まさかクジ引き大会の内容が、 First, Haruhi said she was planning to hold a lottery using Amidakuji, with Asahina-san dressed as a miko while giving out the prize to the winner; then the drawing point of this contest turned out to be...
「SOS団プレゼンツ、朝比奈みくるちゃんの手作りチョコ争奪、一日|遅れのバレンタイン特別アミダクジ大会、参加料一人五百円!」 “The SOS Brigade's Belated Asahina Mikuru Handmade Valentine's Day Chocolate Amidakuji Contest! Admission is 500 yen each!"
という、今現在ハルヒがメガホンで触れ回っているようなものだとは思い至らなかった己の不明を深く恥じるしだいだ。 When I think of Haruhi carrying her loudspeaker and making her presence known everywhere, I shudder as I am reminded of how naively stupid I had been.
そりゃあ、朝比奈さんの手作りチョコレート争奪アミダクジ大会ともなれば巻物レベルの紙が必要とされ、参加費を一人五百円にしても楽勝で応募者が殺到し、万単位の稼ぎになりそうで、それが俺のもらったやつならば、もちろんこんな罰当たりな場に提供することはしないわけだが、朝比奈さんだけは俺と古泉用のものにプラスして、三つ目の義理チョコを作らされていたらしい。 At the Belated Asahina-san Handmade Valentine's Day Chocolate Amidakuji Contest, the papers used for drawing lots were as long as a large scroll. Though the admission fee was a whopping 500 yen, I can imagine everyone fighting to get in the front of the line as we cheerfully watch our income grow rapidly to a five digit sum. Besides Koizumi's and mine, it seems Asahina-san had made a third obligatory chocolate as well for this occasion. Like hell I was going to donate my chocolate cake for this god-forsaken contest anyway.
「実は長門さんがほとんど作ってくれたんですけど……」 “Actually, Nagato-san was the one who helped out in everything..."
* * *
すまなさそうに白状する朝比奈さんは、今すぐ神社にテレポートしても通用しそうな巫女|装束を着せられて中庭の芝生に怯えた顔で佇んでいる。ハルヒがどこかから持ってきた衣装で、ホームルームが終わるやすっ飛んでいったハルヒが朝比奈さんを部室に連れ込み、強引に着替えさせたものである。節分の豆まきで俺が漏らした言葉を執念深く覚えていたとみえる。 Dressed in a miko attire suitable for any time period if she were to travel through time, Asahina-san stood on the grass field out at the courtyard and spoke apologetically to me. Once home room session was over, Haruhi had gone and dragged Asahina-san into the club room and forced her to put on that miko costume, though I have no idea how she obtained it. Looks like Haruhi was still feeling inspired about what I had incidentally said while throwing beans during Setsubun.
ハルヒの激励を受けた俺と古泉が部室の長テーブルをかついで降り、中庭に置くやハルヒはメガホン片手に走り出して、受付|嬢の役割を拝命したのは長門である。 Under Haruhi's barked orders, Koizumi and I carried the long table from the club room downstairs and placed it on the grass field outside. Haruhi then held up her loudspeaker and began to make her move, while Nagato was assigned the task of cashier.
そして中庭には生肉に引かれたゾンビのように男子生徒どもが群れ集い、黒山の人だかりを形成しているという、この国の行く先を憂いたい気持ちが充満する空気を醸成していた。群衆の中に谷口と国木田がいるのを見て、俺はクラスメイトの将来をも憂い始めた。 Very quickly, the male students began to swarm the courtyard like zombies attracted by fresh meat. The atmosphere was so surreal one can't help, but worry about the state this country was headed to. When I saw that even Taniguchi and Kunikida were amongst the crowd, I began to worry about the future of my classmates as well.
ハルヒが大量の男子生徒と少数の女子生徒の群れをメガホンで誘導しつつ、 Using her loudspeaker, Haruhi began to organize the crowd which was largely guys with a few girls scattered around,
「受付はこっち、有希の前に並んでちょうだい! 五百円と引き替えに数字入りの整理券を渡すから、券をもらったら古泉くんのところにいって、アミダの好きなところにその数字を記入するの。横線は一人一本、どこでも自由に描いていいわよ!」 “If you want to participate, line up here in front of Yuki! You'll be handed a number card once you've paid your 500 yen. Once you have the card, head to Koizumi-kun, where he'll write your number in your preferred slot as well as draw as many horizontal lines wherever you like!"
長門が手際よく客をさばいている横で、古泉はB4コピー紙に定規で縦線を引きまくっていた。このぶんだと三ケタは必要で、紙も二枚や三枚ではすむまい。 As Nagato efficiently dealt with the queue, Koizumi had to frantically draw lots of straight lines with a ruler on the large B4 paper. It seems he would need more than one piece of paper, as it looks like he'll be drawing hundreds of lines.
古泉がコピー用紙をテープでつなぎ合わせる回数が増え続けるにつれ、俺が腕時計を見る回数も増え始めた。非常にまずい。このままでは間に合わなくなる。 The number of papers that Koizumi had to cellotape together increased at the same pace as the number of times I turned to glance at my watch. Oh shit, at this rate, I'll never make it on time...
朝比奈さん(みちる)が帰ってくるのは四時十六分。ここにいる朝比奈さんを過去に行かせるのは四時十五分で、それも巫女から制服に着替えさせる必要があるときた。 Asahina (Michiru)-san would return on 4:16PM, so I had to send this Asahina-san away by 4:15PM, not to mention the time needed for her to change back to her uniform first.
そして現在の時刻は四時を今回ったところであり、長門の整理券配布と古泉の線引きはまだ終わっていない。 The minute hand had already gone past 4 o'clock, but Nagato still hadn't finished handing out the number cards, and Koizumi still had plenty of lines to draw.
マスコットにしては引きつった笑顔の朝比奈さんが、プレゼント仕様の装飾を施された包装箱を手にして立っている。この時期に巫女の格好も寒そうだが、そんな感想を抱いている場合ではなくなってきた。この衣装をといて制服に着替えるのに何分かかるだろうと、頭の中で計算しているうちに、ようやくアミダクジは完成した。予想通り、丸めたらちょっとした巻物になりそうな長さを誇っている。 Asahina-san stood by the side, holding the present box, her smile rather stiff for a mascot. Looks rather cold to cosplay as a miko at this time of year, doesn't it? But there's no point in wondering about these issues. As I was busy calculating how long it would take to change from a miko costume to a school uniform, the Amidakuji was finally complete. As expected, the papers used are together as long as a large scroll. It's certainly a scene to behold.
ハルヒはおもむろにペンを取ると、何十もある縦線の一本を選んでその下にハートマークを描き、ついでにむやみと無秩序に横線を増やしまくってから、 Haruhi casually picked up a pen and randomly picked one line out of dozens of them, and drew a heart shape at the bottom, she then added another bunch of horizontal lines.
「さあーこのハートに辿り着くことのできたたった一人だけが、朝比奈さんの義理チョコが手渡しでもらえます。もらえた人は大喜びすること! じゃあ右端から順にいくわね」 “Now come! Only one can reach this heart and win the Valentine Chocolate handmade by Asahina! You'll definitely cry tears of joy if you win! We'll begin on the right side!"
アタリのマークから逆に辿れば一回で済むってのに、どうしてそんな時間のかかりそうなことをするんだ。そりゃ一発で当たる確率は低いから、徐々に盛り上げていったほうがいいのは解る頭の働きだが、俺が不都合なんだよ。 It was already exhausting trying to trace which line the heart would reach from, but are you trying to kill me by wasting so much more time!? Though the odds of winning in one go are now very slim, Haruhi is sure putting a lot of effort into stirring up the atmosphere, but I really don't have much time for this!
俺の焦燥を知らないハルヒは、持参したCDラジカセをテーブルにのせると、再生ボタンをガションと押した。威勢のいいテーマが流れ出す。『天国と地獄』。運動会か。 Oblivious to my anxiety, Haruhi placed the portable hi-fi on the table and pressed the play button, a cheerful melody began to play. Orpheus in the Underworld? This isn't a sports fair, dammit! ( It's common for Japanese schools to play this song during sports fairs. )
こうなれば頼みの綱を使うしかない。ここにはクジ引きの女神が居合わせている。 Looks like I've got to resort to desperate measures, I must have pretty good karma for Lady Luck to be sitting right by my side.
「悪い、長門」 “I'm sorry, Nagato,"
俺はセンベイの缶に投げ込まれた硬貨と紙幣の山を見下ろす振りをして、パイプ椅子に腰掛けて動かない受付嬢の横顔に囁いた。 I pretend to look at the coins and paper money stacked up like a hill inside the senbei box as I whisper softly to the ear of the cashier sitting on the chair beside the table,
「一発でクジを当てさせてくれ。時間がない」 “Please let this draw be over in one try, there's no time left!"
「…………」
緊張と寒さに震えるコスプレ巫女をじっと見つめていた長門は、目だけを動かして俺を見ると解ったとも何とも言わずにすっと立ち上がり、ハルヒが赤ペンに持ち替えてアミダを辿り始めようとする直前、横から手を伸ばして横棒を一本書き加えた。 Nagato was staring straight at Asahina-san, shivering non-stop because of the cold wind, as she heard my prayer. She then turned to take a glance at me, and then silently stood up. Just before Haruhi began drawing lots from the right side with a red pen, Nagato quietly and elegantly adds one more line.
* * *
* * *
その十分後、俺は朝比奈さんの手を引き部室めがけて走っていた。 Ten minutes later, I was pulling Asahina-san's little hand and rushing towards the club room.
「わわっキョンくん……! いたい、その、どうしたんですかぁ?」 “Wah, Kyon-kun...! It hurts, what's going on?"
足をもつれさせる朝比奈さんが悲鳴じみた声を出しているが、この時ばかりは気遣うヒマがなく、残り時間は五分もなかった。 Even if it means having to drag Asahina-san and make her cry, I couldn't care less anymore, as there are only five minutes left!
「説明は後でします。今は急がないとヤバいんです」 “I'll explain everything to you afterwards, but we'll be in trouble if we don't hurry!"
俺は小柄な上級生|巫女を片手で抱えるようにして階段を三段飛ばしで上がる。 I carried the tiny miko upper-classman and climbed up the stairs three steps at a time.
アミダクジのほうだが、さすがは長門、あっさり俺の願いを叶えてくれた。一番手の生徒がいとも簡単に賞品を引き当てたことに関しては、ハルヒも他の連中も驚く以前に白けていたようだが、もともと誰かに当たるようなものなんだから気にするな。ハルヒはそれでも盛り上げるつもりか、BGMを『勝利をたたえる歌』に切り替え、整理券ナンバー56を持つ生徒を強引に引きずり出すと朝比奈さんと向かい合わせに立たせた。ちなみに当選を勝ち取ったのは巻き毛の可愛い一年生女子で、しきりともじもじしていたのが印象的だ。妙に暖かい空気の漂う中、朝比奈さんはぎこちない手つきでその娘に賞品チョコを渡すとハルヒの要請に従って握手を交わし、なぜかその場の全員が拍手するという意味不明な事態を巻き起こした。これもハルヒがどこからか持ってきたポラロイドで二人がツーショット写真を撮られているところまでは我慢したが、もう限界だった。 As expected from Nagato, the draw was over in just one draw. Seeing how the first student chosen had won the prize so effortlessly, besides being stunned, Haruhi and everyone else couldn't hide their disappointment. Well, there's only one winner after all, so don't take it personally, guys. Still keen on keeping the atmosphere on a high, Haruhi changed the background music this time to See, the Conqu'ring hero comes. She then forcefully pulled the student who had card number 56 and made the student stand face to face with Asahina-san. By the way, the winner was a cute, curly-haired first-year girl - the way she looked shy and embarrassed sure was mesmerizing. Under a strange atmosphere, Asahina-san stiffly passed the chocolate to the girl, and under Haruhi's instruction, they both shook hands, at which point the crowd suddenly roared into a thunderous applause. I didn't understand what they were so joyous for. I still had to wait for Haruhi to take a photo of the two of them with a tripod camera she obtained from god-knows where. It's gonna be troublesome if this goes on any longer!
俺は問答無用で朝比奈さんの手をひっつかむと、後のイイワケを考えずに走り出し、今に至る。そして部室にも至った。 I quickly grabbed Asahina-san's hand before she even had a chance to say anything, and headed straight for the building complex without time to even come up with an excuse. Finally, we arrived at the door of the club room.
「ひい、あのぅ、なにが、キョンくん……?」 “Eh, where, wha...? Kyon-kun...?"
朝比奈さんが怪しむのももっともだった。いきなり部室に連れ込まれて、 I can't really blame Asahina-san for looking so confused after being dragged to the club room so suddenly.
「早く着替えてください!」 “Hurry up and change!"
ハンガーに掛かった制服を突きつけられているんだからな。 I took her uniform hanging on the clothes rack and shoved it into her hands,
「三分以内にです! 早く!」 “Do it in three minutes, quickly!"
俺の迫力に押されたか、それとも俺がよほど鬼気迫る顔をしていたのか、朝比奈さんはカクカクとうなずいて、だがまだ衣装を脱ごうとはしない。いっそ俺の手で脱がせるべきかと腹をくくり始めたとき、白い指先がおずおずとドアへ向けられた。 I don't know whether it's the tone of my voice or the terrifying look on my face, Asahina-san trembled as she nodded her head, but she made no sign of taking off her costume at all. Dammit! I might as well take it off for you! Just as I decided to do it anyway, her little white hand pointed towards the door.
「あの……」 “Um..."
「なんでしょうか!」 “What now!?"
「外に出てください」 “Can you please go outside first?"
一秒で退散した。俺は閉じた扉の前で腕時計とにらめっこを開始する。十二分三十三秒。 I spun out of the room in less than a second and began to look at my watch as I leaned against the closed door. The time was now 12 minutes 33 seconds.
「朝比奈さん、まだですか!」 “Asahina-san, are you done yet!?"
「……ちょっと待って」 “...N-Not yet!"
ごそごそする気配や衣ずれの音に妄想を働かせている余裕はなかった。ハルヒが後を追っかけて来やしないかとそっちの心労もキツい。 It's just that I was already anxious enough trying to make sure Haruhi wasn't chasing along. There was no time for me to daydream about the sound being made by the articles of clothing rubbing against each other.
「朝比奈さん!」 “Asahina-san!"
「もうちょっと……」 “Just a little longer..."
午後四時十四分を通過した。もう待てない。俺は部室に飛び込んだ。 It was now past 4:14 PM, I can't wait any longer! I quickly barged into the room.
「わわっ、キョンくん? まだ、わっ、わっ」 “Wah! Kyon-kun! I'm not, wah, kyaa!"
目をいっぱいに開いた朝比奈さんは、セーラー服のファスナーに手をかけた姿勢で固まっていた。急いでくれた証拠に白衣と袴が床に散らばっている。拾うのは後回しだ。 Asahina-san's eyes widened as she stood stiffly with her hand placed on the zip of her sailor uniform. The white kimono shirt and red hakama on the floor was proof that she had been changing, but now's not the time for tidying up.
俺は朝比奈さんの両肩をつかむと、そのまま掃除用具入れに押していく。 I placed my hands on her shoulders and pushed her towards the broom locker.
「わひぃ、きょ、きょ」 “WAH! K, Kyon-kun!"
そんな声を聞きつつ闇雲に押していたのがよくなかった。朝比奈さんが足を滑らせ、その勢いで俺は彼女を押し倒した。 I was at fault for ignoring Asahina-san's yell as I pushed her. Her legs tripped and as a result, I ended up falling on top of her.
「わぁっ! だめ、だめです……」 “Wah! No, don't..."
何をしているんだ俺は。床に伸びてか弱く首を振る姿をゆっくり眺めることなく、軽いセーラー服姿を引き起こし、片手でスチールロッカーを音高く開けると朝比奈さんを押し込む。 Just what the hell was I doing? I had no time to enjoy seeing her look vulnerable. I quickly picked up Asahina-san in her sailor uniform, loudly opened the stainless steel door of the broom locker, and promptly shoved her inside.
「いいですか朝比奈さん。よく聞いてください。今すぐ、今から八日前に遡行してください。いいから、とにかくしてください」 “Asahina-san, listen carefully. Please travel at once to eight days ago from this time! Don't ask anymore, just do it!"
目元を潤ませていた朝比奈さんは、きょとんと、 Still feeling shell-shocked, she said teary-eyed,
「……え。でも、申請しないと」 “...But, I still haven't received authorization..."
「してください、すぐに!」 “Please! There's no time!"
「八日前にですか? あの、何時に?」 “Eight days ago, is it? What time?"
くそ、さっさと思い出せ。あれは何時何分だった? 朝比奈さんは何と言った? キョンくんが八日前の午後----、 Damn it! Hurry up and remember! Just what time was it then? What did Asahina-san say to me that time? "You told me to return here at exactly..."
「午後三時四十五分。そこまで超特急で!!」 “3:45 PM! Hurry up and go!"
「は、はい……あれっ?」 “O-Okay... huh?"
小動物のような目で俺を見上げていた朝比奈さんは、さらに目を見開いて片手を頭に当てた。 Like a little animal, Asahina-san looked innocently at me. Her eyes then widened as she placed her hand on her head,
「まだ申請してないのに、もう来ました。時空間座標……。八日前、二月七日午後三時四十五分の----ここ? えっ。最優先強制コード……?」 “The authorization came even before I even applied. Time coordinates... eight days ago, February 7th, 3:45PM... Right here? Huh? Top Priority Clearance...?"
「行けば解ります。そっちで俺が待っているはずだ。そいつがどうにかしてくれます。よろしく言っといてください」 “You'll understand when you get there, I should be there waiting for you. My past self will take care of everything from here onwards, remember to say 'hi' to him for me,"
四時十五分まで十秒を切った。 It was less than ten seconds to 4:15PM.
驚いている顔の朝比奈さんにうなずきかけながら掃除用具入れを閉めた。スチールロッカーに阻まれて息づかいも聞こえない。 I nodded to a terrified looking Asahina-san, and gently closed the door to the broom locker. Within the stainless steel locker, I could not hear anything from within.
情けは人のためならず、ということわざがある。誰かに何かをしてあげたら、その何かはいずれ自分に返ってくるのだよってな意味だが、良くも悪くも自分の行為が自分に戻ってくる現象を今ほど実感したことはない。俺がここまで息せき切ることになったのは、二日前の俺が朝比奈さんの帰還時間を四時十六分などと指定したせいだ。その二日前の俺がその時間を選んだのは、二日後の俺がこれほどせっぱ詰まることをまるで想像していなかったせいだ。どっちにしても俺のせいか。 As the saying goes, what goes around comes around, karma comes back to haunt what one has done, I have never felt about this so strongly before now. The reason I'm catching my breath now was all because on the day before yesterday, I had set Asahina-san's return coordinates at 4:16PM. At that time, I never thought it would be so nerve wracking, but in the end it's all my fault.
「朝比奈さん」 “Asahina-san?"
ロッカーに喋りかけてみる。返答はない。無駄だとは解っていた。八日前の俺へ向けた忠告を言付けることはできない。なぜなら俺はそんなことを聞かなかったし朝比奈さんも言わなかった。言いたくても時間切れだ。 I tried speaking through the stainless steel door, there was no response. I knew it was a waste of time as well. Besides, I didn't give any warnings to my past self eight days ago, since I never heard of any warnings myself, and Asahina-san said nothing about it. Even if I wanted to, there was no time.
腕時計の表示は四時十五分を三秒も上回っていた。 The watch now showed the time to be three seconds past 4:15 PM.
やけに静かだ。俺以外誰もいない部室で聞こえるのは、風の音色とそれに乗って中庭からやってくるぼやけたガヤくらいのものだ。まだ何かやってんのか? It was extraordinarily quiet. Besides myself, the only sound that can be heard in the empty club room was the breeze and the sound of the crowd outside, haven't they dispersed yet?
俺は掃除用具入れの前に立ち、待ち続けた。 I stood in front of the broom locker and waited quietly.
かたん----。 “Klunk!"
この音じゃなくてもいい、掃除用具入れの中に掃除用具以外のものが現れる音をさ。 I don't know how else to describe this - a strange sound emanated from inside the broom locker.
息づかいが聞こえなくとも気配で解る。単なるスチールロッカーが、まるでアンティークな調度品に変化したような錯覚を覚える午後四時十六分ちょうど。 I knew there was someone inside even without listening to the sound of their breathing. It was exactly 4:16 PM, the stainless steel locker suddenly felt like an antique piece of furniture to me for some reason.
俺は扉を開き、このために用意していたセリフを言った。 I opened the door and spoke the line that I prepared to welcome her back,
「おかえり、朝比奈さん」 “Welcome back, Asahina-san,"
二日ぶりに見るロングコートにショール姿。鶴屋さんの借り物|衣装。 Wearing the large coat Tsuruya-san lent her, it had been 48 hours since I last saw this Asahina-san.
「あ……。えっと……」 “Ah... um..."
朝比奈さんは照れくさそうにうつむいて、そして、ゆっくり面を上げた。清らかな瞳が俺をおずおずと見上げ、上目|遣いのまま固定される。やがて仄かな笑みを形作った| 唇 がそっと花を咲かせ、言葉をも生み出した。 Asahina-san blushed and lowered her head, and then slowly lifted it again. With trepidation, she slowly moved her crystal clear eyes upwards and finally stopped when they met my eyes.
A while later, a smile appeared on her face. Her pink lips blossomed like a cottonrose hibiscus as she spoke the following words,
「……ただいま」 “I'm back."
* * *
これでゆっくり見つめ合うという叙情的な雰囲気を味わうことができたらよかったのだが、俺と朝比奈さんを取り巻く|状 況はそれを許さない。今着ている外出着から着替えてもらわねばならず、しかしまだ鶴屋さんから制服一式を受け取っていない。 It would have been great if I could continue to spend time alone with Asahina-san like that, but the circumstances simply would not permit me to do such a thing. I'd better get her to change out of that casual wear, but there was still no sight of the uniform that Tsuruya-san had promised to bring.
しかたがないので朝比奈さんにはもう一度|巫女さんになってもらうことにして、俺は部室を出るとドアにもたれ掛かった。 Looks like she'll just have to wear the miko costume again for now, and once again, I stepped outside of the club room and leaned against the door.
それにしてもハルヒたちは遅いな。都合のいいことではあったが、やけによすぎるのが気がかりだ。そしてもう一人、こっちはもう少し早く来てくれたら手間が省けたかもしれない人が紙袋を手にして歩いてきた。 By the way, it's strange that Haruhi didn't come to ask for my head. While it was good that everything was going fine, it's worrying that it can sometimes be too fine for comfort. At the same time, along came a person carrying a paper bag, if she had arrived earlier, I wouldn't have had to go through so much trouble.
「やっぽー。キョンくん、ゴメンよう。これ、みくるの制服と上靴。昼休みに渡そうと思ってて忘れてたよっ」 “Hey! Sorry, Kyon-kun, here, Mikuru's uniform and indoor shoes. I had wanted to give them to you during lunch, but I forgot,"
鶴屋さんは数歩で距離を詰めると、 Tsuruya-san stepped closer to me,
「んで? ハルにゃんたちは中庭で何かやってたけど、みくるはどうしたい?」 “What's going on? I see Haru-nyan up to something in the courtyard, and where's Mikuru?"
無言で部室|扉を指した俺にニッカリ笑いかけ、鶴屋さんは自分の家の冷蔵庫を開けるような気安さでノブを回した。 Tsuruya-san smiled meaningfully when I silently pointed to the club room door, and proceeded to turn the door knob as though opening her own refrigerator door.
「やぁ、みくるっ。着替えかい? あー、ちょうどいいや。その服、ついでに持って帰るよ」 “Oh, Mikuru. Are you changing? Oh... that's just excellent, you can take these clothes back home,"
俺に片目を閉じて見せ、鶴屋さんは部室に入っていった。慎んで廊下の壁を眺める俺には見えないが、朝比奈さんの驚く顔なら容易に想像できる。何度も見たからな。 She then turned to wink at me, and then walked inside. Though I could only squat outside in the corridor and stare at the wall, it's not hard to imagine the surprised look on Asahina-san's face, since I've seen that look many times already.
「手伝ってやろうかっ。着せ替え着せ替え。今日は巫女サービスデー?」 “Let me help you! Getting changed~ Huh? You're cosplaying as a miko today?"
朝比奈さんのあたふたした声と鶴屋さんの童女みたいな笑い声を聞きながら、俺は廊下に座り込んだ。朝比奈さんの生き別れの妹に貸したはずの服を、どうして朝比奈さん本人が着てこんなところにいるのかなんて、鶴屋さんにとってはどうでもいいことだろう。あんな説明に何の効能もないのは俺も彼女もよく解っている。それでもまったく気にしないのが鶴屋さんの偉大なところだった。一生頭が上がりそうにないな。 I leaned against the wall and heard Asahina-san's confused-sounding yelps and Tsuruya-san's child-like laughter. Tsuruya-san probably never gave a thought as to why Asahina-san would take off clothes of a younger twin sister she's not supposed to have met before. We both knew it was pointless trying to explain further, yet the wonderful thing about Tsuruya-san is that she never seems to mind. Looks like I won't be able to look at her without feeling inferior for the rest of my life.
俺が苦笑の面持ちでいると、長門と長テーブルを背負った古泉を引き連れてハルヒが戻ってきた。船ならば大漁旗をデカデカと掲げているような得意顔で足音高く、缶の中の小金をジャラジャラさせながら、 As I began to smile wryly, Haruhi triumphantly returned, bringing Nagato and Koizumi, who was carrying the long table. She strutted in such a boastful way, tapping the floor tiles loudly as she stepped and shaking that money can in a loud and ridiculous manner. If she were on a fishing boat, she would probably be brandishing her flag to show off what a catch she'd made today.
「どうしてみくるちゃんを連れ去ったりしたのよ。ブーイングものだったわ」 “Why'd you suddenly take Mikuru-chan away? We were booed badly, you know?"
あんな薄着であれ以上外に出しておいたら風邪を引きかねないと思ったんだよ。それにもったいないだろうが、朝比奈さんの特別衣装姿なら|鑑賞 料だけで五百円取れるぜ。 I was afraid she would catch a cold from wearing so few clothes. Besides, we're giving these guys a good bargain. Just for seeing Asahina-san in that costume, we should charge them an extra 500 yen!
「まあ、そうね。あんたの言うことも解るわ。こういうのは出し惜しみしないとね。ありがたみが減っちゃうもの」 “Yes, you're right! We should've charged more. These occasions are hard to come by, after all,"
第二弾の企画をすでに始めているのか、ハルヒは機嫌よく同意して、 Haruhi actually agreed to what I said without hesitation, has she already come up with a new activity?
「それよりキョン、びっくりしたわ。有希がいきなり残念賞を発表するんだもん」 “But Kyon, I sure was surprised. Yuki actually offered to give everyone a consolation prize,"
ハルヒは長門の細い背をばしばし叩きながら、 Haruhi patted her hand on Nagato's slim back,
「徳用袋入りのチョコレートがあるでしょ? アルファベットとかが刻まれてるやつ。それを一個一個、クジに外れた連中に配ってあげたのよ。そんなの用意してたなんて驚き。有希、よくそこまで気が回ったわねえ。でも、いいアイデアよ。これで外れた連中だって、今度何かしたときも残念賞目当てで財布を緩めるってものよ」 “You know those bargain chocolate packets? The ones with the chocolate brand names on them. Yuki personally went and gave one each to every person who didn't win! I never thought she would prepare such a thing, good job Yuki! You sure thought it out well. This is a brilliant idea, this way no matter what contest we hold, people can always expect a generous consolation prize even if they don't win!"
長門目当て、の間違いではなかろうかと思ったが、長門の機転に感動を覚えるほうが先だな。その時間|稼ぎのおかげで助かったよ。 They're probably only going to be looking forward to Nagato personally giving them a prize, I thought to myself. Before thanking her for thinking quickly on the spot, I should first of all thank her for buying time for me.
「…………」 “..."
長門はわずかに身じろぎをして、早く部室に入って読書をしたいと言いたげな、俺にしか解らないような顔をする。 Nagato slowly turned around, as though in a hurry to rush back to the club room and bury herself into her book. Only I could understand the expression she's made.
その時、部室の扉が内側から開かれた。 At this moment, the club room door opened suddenly.
「あ、鶴屋さん、来てたの。どうしたの? その服」 “Oh, Tsuruya-san, you're here? What's with those clothes?"
「やあ、ハルにゃん! これはね、みくるに貸してたのさ。あたしは取りに来ただけ、お邪魔虫にはならないっさ」 “Hey, Haru-nyan! I've lent these to Mikuru, I'm just coming to take them back, so don't worry about me taking her away from you!"
鶴屋さんはロングコートを肩に引っかけ、残りの服を紙袋に入れて靴を指先でブラブラさせていたが、 Tsuruya-san placed the long coat over her shoulders and stuffed the rest of the clothes into her paper bag, while spinning a shoe on the tip of her finger,
「じゃね、ハルにゃん」 “See ya later, Haru-nyan!"
「うん、またね。鶴屋さん」 “Okay, see you tomorrow, Tsuruya-san!"
ハルヒとハイタッチをかわすと、最初から最後までまったく目線を泳がすことなく立ち去った。朝比奈さんのことも昼休みのこともまるでなかったかのような日常ぶりだ。ありゃあ真似できそうにない。大物過ぎる。あの人がいる限り鶴屋家は安泰だ。 After clapping their hands together, Tsuruya-san disappeared at the end of the corridor. It was as though the stuff concerning Asahina-san and what she told me this lunch time never happened, she was still the same person as before. Not even I could act like her, she is just that amazing. The Tsuruya clan would definitely prosper with her in charge.
「…………」 “..."
長門はふらりと部室に入ると、本棚から無造作に本を選び、パイプ椅子を広げて座ると、さっそく読みふけり始めた。 Nagato drifted into the club room, randomly took a book down from the bookshelf, and like water flowing in a stream, elegantly settled on a steel chair and began to indulge in the world of her book.
俺が古泉を手伝ってテーブルを運び入れるのを尻目に、ハルヒは巫女姿の朝比奈さんが懐かしそうな顔をしているのにも気づかないで、 Haruhi stood by the side as she watched Koizumi and me carry the long table back inside, by which time she had noticed Asahina-san in her miko costume for some time. She said,
「みくるちゃん、今度思い切って高いお茶っ葉を買ってきていいわよ。軍資金はたんまりせしめたから。これもあなたの働きによるところ大だわ。喜んでちょうだい、みくるちゃん。この功績によってあなたはSOS団副々団長に昇進することが決定されたわ」 “Mikuru-chan! We've amassed a great amount of funds today, so you'd better buy the best tea leaves as celebration! This is all thanks to you. For this achievement, I'm officially promoting you to Deputy Vice Commander! There's no need to be shy, Mikuru-chan, show some happiness!"
団長机の中をまさぐるハルヒの意気揚々たる姿を見ながら、俺は端の席を確保すると、テーブルに突っ伏して脱力した。 Seeing how Haruhi was feeling so pleased with herself while sitting on the commander's desk, I picked the chair furthest away and laid exhausted on the long table.
それにしても疲れた。ヘタに時間移動に関わると、つじつま合わせに奔走することになるってのがよーく解った。誰を責めようにも、そうしちまったのは俺なのだから責任|転嫁の矢印は常に自分に向いている。未来人はいつもこんな苦労をしているのか? なら朝比奈さんには当分何も教えないほうがいいな。現在の朝比奈さんに精神|負荷のかかる重い荷物を背負わせたら、あっという間につつかれたダンゴムシになりそうだ。 I am truly worn out. Now I finally understand how exhausting it is to tamper with time, trying to make sure that the effects line up with the causes. Even if I wanted to blame someone, I only have myself to blame. The arrow would still circle 360 degrees back to myself. Is the work of all future time-travelers as stressful as this? Looks like I'm going to have to be careful when talking with Asahina-san, otherwise I'll place a heavy psychological burden on her shoulders, and she'll probably roll up into a ball like an armadillo whenever she gets jabbed.
「その苦労のいくつかを僕にふってくれてもよかったんですよ。事後処理は僕の得意科目です」 “I don't mind sharing some of that burden, cleaning up the mess is my forte, after all,"
隣にいる俺にだけ届く小声で囁きつつ、古泉はカードゲームのパッケージを破った。 Koizumi said to me in a volume in which only I could hear, while opening the wrapping of the box of a card game,
「涼宮さんの計画なら、少しは見当がついていましたしね」 “I'm beginning to understand a bit concerning Suzumiya-san's plan,"
俺が顔を上げるとトレーディングカードをためつすがめつしながら微笑んでいる古泉と目が合った。ハルヒは「これに一番似合う髪型はどれかしらね」とか言いつつ、椅子に座らせた朝比奈さんの髪をあれこれいじくり回している。されている朝比奈さんが背中の毛をくしけずってもらっている猫のように目を細めているのを見て、 I lifted my head and found myself exchanging glances with Koizumi, who was studying his deck of cards with a grin. "I wonder which hair style suits you best?" said Haruhi while sitting Asahina-san on a chair and playing around with her hair. At the mercy of Haruhi, Asahina-san shut her eyes tightly like a cat whose hair was being brushed. I watched this scene play out as I said,
「お前、ハルヒがいつもと変わらない調子でいるとか言ってなかったか?」 “Didn't you say there was nothing unusual about Haruhi's behavior?"
「だからですよ。宝探しも市内|探索も、いつもの涼宮さんがやりそうなことです。むしろ無理してでも普通に振る舞おうとしていたんですよ。まさか、あなたがバレンタインデーを忘れているとは涼宮さんでなくとも思いません。僕たち男子生徒にとってはもらえるアテがなくとも気になる日ですからね。当然、彼女はあなたがその日を気にしていると思っていて、わざと素知らぬふりをしていたのです。二日連続の市内パトロールもその表れですよ。ひょっとしてもらえないのかな、と、あなたをヤキモキさせる計画だったんでしょう」 “That was what I meant, as treasure hunting and mystery searching are part of Suzumiya-san's regular activities. Maybe I should've said she's deliberately pretending as though nothing unusual is happening? Who would have thought that you would have completely forgotten about Valentine's Day? It's not just Suzumiya-san, I'm sure no one would forget. For guys like us, this is a day that we would at least pay some attention to even if we're not confident of receiving any chocolates. Of course Suzumiya-san would have thought you would be anxious about it, that was why she pretended nothing was happening. Having two consecutive days of mystery searches was a clear indication of her plan to drive you crazy about whether you would receive any chocolates on that day."
まとめて下駄箱にでも入れておいてくれてもよかったんだ。俺の靴箱は未来人専用の郵便受けじゃないんだぜ。 Then wouldn't it be better if she could just directly put the chocolates in my shoe locker? That locker isn't reserved for time travelers, you know!?
「局所的に普遍性を嫌う涼宮さんのことです。それでは面白くないと思ったのでしょう。それに宝は苦労して探しあてるもので、手に入れたときの喜びも大きいというわけです」 “Suzumiya-san is just the sort of person that likes to take such a convoluted route. If she had directly given them to you, she would have found it too boring. Besides, we worked very hard to dig out those treasures, so it was quite rewarding when we found them."
古泉はカードを吟味するように並べ、その手を休めずに、 Koizumi seems to be examining his cards as he continuously organizes them into various rows and columns.
「僕はたいそう嬉しく思いましたが、あなたは違うんですか?」 “I sure had a lot of fun, didn't you?"
何だそれは、誘導尋問か? What's that supposed to mean? Is that a loaded question?
俺が気の利いたリアクションを考えていると、 Just as I was about to make a witty response...
「そこ、キョンに古泉くん! くつろぎ私語タイムは|終 了!」 “Hey, Kyon! Koizumi-kun! Whispering time's over!"
大声がウトウトしていた朝比奈さんをピクリとさせ、俺と古泉の視線を集めさせた。ハルヒはシニヨンに結った朝比奈さんの頭から手を離すと、 The loud exclamation had Asahina-san waking up in surprise from her daydreams as well as catching the attention of Koizumi and I. Haruhi released her hands from Asahina-san's hair, which was tied into a bundle...
「では、講義を始めます!」 “Now, on to the main agenda!"
ホワイトボードをバンバン叩く。 She then smacked the white board,
「特にキョンと古泉くんはよく聞いてないとダメよ」 “Listen carefully, especially Kyon and Koizumi-kun!"
どことなく策謀家めいた笑みを閃かせた団長は、デキは悪いが性格は素直な生徒を前にした塾講師のような顔で言った。 Haruhi gave the smile of a strategist and talked to us like a cram school teacher teaching her honest yet dim-witted students,
「これから、三月に予定されているイベントについて講義します」 “We'll begin with the planned activities for March!"
俺は来月のカレンダーについて考えを巡らせ、 I glanced at the calendar for next month and said,
「ひな祭りか」 “For Hinamatsuri?"
一瞬黙り込んだハルヒは、 Haruhi went speechless for a while,
「……そうね、それもあったわね」 “...Ah yes, that one as well,"
忘れていたらしい。 I'm amazed you forgot.
「覚えてたわよ。目新しい行事を楽しくやるには故きを温ねることが大切なんだから、忘れるわけがないじゃないの。三月三日には、そうね、渡り廊下の最上階から雛あられを撒きましょう」 “Of course I remembered! It's only through refreshing one's memories that one can discover new revelations, so there's no way I'd forget. March 3rd, huh? Right, we can toss rice cake offerings from the top floor corridor!"
ひな祭りがそんな行事だったとは初耳だ。 Now that's the first time I've heard of such a silly activity for Hinamatsuri.
「それはそれとして、三月はもっと別の忘れちゃいけないイベントがあるでしょ?」 “Let's leave that aside for now, aren't you forgetting another bigger festival in March?"
ハルヒは特大の望遠鏡を銀河中心面に向けたときに見れそうな星空のような笑顔で、 Haruhi's smile is as the stars from the center of the Milky Way shining through the powerful lens of a super-telescope.
「今日はその日のことを、あんたと古泉くん限定で脳ミソに刻み込んであげようっていうの」 “Today I specifically want Kyon and Koizumi-kun to think on what they'll have to prepare for that day!"
いったい何を張り切って講義してくれるのか。 So what are you trying to say then?
「ホワイトデーについてよ。三月十四日、この日はバレンタインにチョコレートをもらった人が義理だろうが何だろうがくれた相手に三十倍の恩義で報いなければならない日とされています」 “I'm talking about White Day! On March 14th, when a guy receives an obligation chocolate or whatever confectioneries on Valentine's Day, they'll have to repay the favor by thirty times!"
いつもはブリンカーをつけられた暴れ馬なみに斜め前を突っ走っているっていうのに、どうしてこいつは都合のいいときだけ普遍性を取り戻すんだ。まあ三十倍ってあたりにハルヒ的インフレモードが働いているが。 She's like a wild stallion running blindly with blinkers on, why must Haruhi choose the moment when everything is going right for her to get back to normal!? Returning thirty times the favor was probably calculated using Haruhi's inflation rate.
「有希とみくるちゃんも今のうちに希望の品を言っておきなさい。この二人が」 “Yuki, Mikuru-chan, you can now ask for whatever you want! These two will do everything to get it for you!"
俺と古泉を指差して、 She pointed at me and Koizumi,
「何でも好きなものをお返しに持ってきてくれるわ。恩返しする鶴がいたのは大昔、今は現代で、それも人間だってんだから、反物よりもっと素晴らしいものを返してくれるわよ」 “They'll get anything you want! Crane Maidens repaying their kindness are out of fashion, in this day and age people should offer things that are thousands of times more valuable than cloth!" (Story of the Crane Maiden)
ハルヒはものすごい勢いで口元を笑わせた。 Haruhi then smiled pridefully,
「参考までに言っておくと、あたしが欲しいなぁって思うものはね、候補はいくつか思いついてるんだけど、今考え中。近々発表するわ。だいじょうぶよ、一ヶ月もあれば何とかなりそうなものにしてあげるつもりだから」 “Just as reference, let me give you an idea of the stuff that I want. Though I still haven't decided which one to get exactly, so I'll announce that in a few days time! I won't purposely ask for something that'll be impossible for you to obtain within a month's time, so don't you worry!"
遠慮も何もないハルヒのことである。おそらくかぐや姫が求婚者にそうしたように無体なものを要求するに違いない。それが『邪馬台国畿内説を裏付ける物的|証拠』とか『蓬莱島産不老不死の妙薬』的な無理難題でないことを切に祈りながら、俺は減らず口を叩いた。 Haruhi spoke without reservations, just like how Kaguya-Hime comes up with ridiculously impossible tasks for the suitors who had came to ask for her hand in marriage. While hoping she isn't going to be asking for non-existent stuff like "Authentic Artifacts of Yamataikoku" or the "Elixir of Life from Horaijima", I said to Haruhi,
「ただし、俺たちが宝探しに費やした程度の苦労はオプションでついてくるぜ」 “Just so you know, we may take into account the amount of effort we'll spend on finding your treasure,"
言い終える直前にこれでは逆効果だと気づいたが、もう遅い。 By the time I realize my retort may backfire, it was already too late.
「もちろん」 “No problem!"
ハルヒは両眼にプレアデス星団をまるごと押し込んだような光を灯らせ、 Haruhi's eyes glittered brightly, totally eclipsing the brilliance of the entire Pleiades constellation.
「そっちのほうが楽しみよ。あたしが欲しいものをくれるんだったら火星にだって取りに行ってあげる。ねえ、有希、みくるちゃん。あなたたちもそう思うでしょ?」 “That's the attitude I want! As long as it's anything that I want, I will get it even if I have to go all the way to Mars! Isn't that right, Yuki, Mikuru-chan?"
朝比奈さんが遠慮がちに、長門が本に目を落としたままうなずくのを眺めながら俺は肩をすくめた。まるで呼吸を合わせたような、古泉とぴったり同じタイミングで。 Seeing Asahina-san looking awkward and Nagato nodding her head while keeping her eyes glued to her book, Koizumi and I both shrug our shoulders at the same time, as though it had all been rehearsed before.
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