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Universe Roulette - Chapter 3

Title: Universe Roulette


Summary: Kyon wakes up one day, and the world is just a tiny bit different.  Koizumi, annoyingly, continues to remain the same.

Rating: PG. 

Author’s Note: Writing Koizumi psycho-babble is surprisingly fun.


Universe Roulette

Chapter 3

Kyon walked to school the next morning, and the hill was still just a gentle slope, Asahina was still his teacher, and Tsuruya was still in the Brigade. That was the proof he’d been waiting for that it wasn’t just a very strange dream. 
When classes ended that day and he’d paid even less attention than the day before, he decided that he couldn’t put off doing something about the situation any longer, no matter how much he wanted to. This was clearly a matter he was going to have to be proactive in, given that he seemed to be the only person aware that something was wrong. 
It was with this thought in mind that he asked to see Asahina-sensei – it was hard to remember to attach the ‘sensei’ - in private after class. Haruhi had given him a suspicious glance, but he mumbled something about his grades that she seemed to accept without question. 
It was still hard not to be unnerved when Asahina-sensei turned to him with a small smile after shuffling through some papers. It was nice to see that Asahina had gained confidence with age, but it was difficult to adjust to the sudden change in demeanour. “You wanted to see me? Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Uh, yeah… Asahina-sensei, you know how you’re from the future and all…”
She blinked, then suddenly demanded, “How do you know that?! That’s classified!”
A little startled by the outburst, he murmured, “Well, you did just confirm that for me…”
Covering her mouth, she turned to the side, seeming to take a moment to compose herself. “I see. Was it her who told you?”
She must have meant Nagato. Asahina always acted a little strange in regards to Nagato. “Actually, Asahina-sensei… you told me. Only it was in a universe different to this one.”
Her expression grew confused. “What do you mean?”
Kyon placed his hands on the desk. “I mean that Haruhi has re-created the universe. In the old universe I met a younger version of you that was a member of the SOS Brigade.”
“A new… universe?”
“Right. It’s not that different from the old one, well, except for the fact that you’re a teacher here… I need to know how to change it back.”
Asahina just shook her head. “Impossible.”
“You mean there’s nothing? Surely in your future someone would have…”
“No, I mean that it is impossible,” she repeated, massaging her temples. The gesture abruptly reminded Kyon of their new age difference – though to be honest, he’d never been entirely sure of what the age difference was to begin with.   “Suzumiya might be an anomaly, but there’s no way such a thing is possible. Even if it were,” she muttered to herself, “There’s no way anyone would even be aware.” She turned to him, and he was mildly surprised to see disappointment in her gaze. “Did Suzumiya put you up to this? Is this a prank?”
A prank? “No! Of course not! I wouldn’t lie about something like this!” Kyon protested. 
Asahina just smiled slightly at him, seeming to adopt her professional stance once again. “So you’re saying that you truly believe this is a new universe? ….Are you certain you’re not just a little tired, Kyon? I’ve noticed a lot of minor fluctuations in the time plane recently. It would be perfectly understandable if you were stressed.”
Tired and stressed were practically norms for his life ever since he’d become a member of the SOS Brigade. “I’m not imagining it. I don’t think I have that creative an imagination.”
She just shook her head again, gathering up her papers. “Why don’t you just head home and take a rest today? You don’t have to do tomorrow’s homework.”
“But… Asahina…” She wasn’t going to believe him?
“I’ll see you in class tomorrow,” she repeated firmly, then gave him another small smile and friendly wave as she left the classroom.
She really didn’t believe him. Kyon wasn’t exactly sure what he’d been expecting, but it wasn’t that. 
Was it so surprising though? Realistically, from another person’s point of view of course he’d be considered crazy. Certainly if someone came up to him making such a claim, that would be his first response too. Although considering the troubles Suzumiya had put him through, he might be more inclined to give others the benefit of the doubt… regardless, Asahina might not have been the best choice of someone to speak to about the matter either way. Even though her future self seemed a little more clued in and a lot less prone to panicking than the one he was familiar with, she’d never really been equipped for dealing with such catastrophes, and for all intensive purposes she was still human – just from a more technologically advanced time. He’d known that, too. Choosing to speak with her first has been more of an emotional choice than a logical one. 
That reasoning made him feel a little better, but it didn’t change the fact that his teacher now thought him crazy. Weary with that knowledge, Kyon headed to the clubroom – only to arrive as Koizumi was locking up. “Oh, Kyon!” the esper greeted.
“Hey. Where’s everyone else?”
“The girls went shopping again – costumes for the band, apparently.”
That was mildly terrifying, especially since that included the possibility of him and Koizumi having to wear something that Suzumiya picked. Still… “Even Nagato?”
“Suzumiya was quite insistent.”
“Ah.” When directly ordered, Nagato usually did whatever Haruhi wanted without complaint.  Not that Nagato ever complained. 
“Did you need to go into the clubroom for anything?” Koizumi asked, hesitating before he locked the door.
Kyon waved a hand dismissively. “No… no need.” He eyed the esper speculatively. Hell, he hadn’t had much luck with Asahina, and Koizumi was the one who originally postulated the theory of Haruhi being able to create new universes to him – maybe he would have a better idea of what to do. At least Koizumi would be more likely to believe him. 
Though there was one thing he ought to be sure of first… “Hey, Koizumi, you’re an esper, right?”
The other teen stilled briefly, and then cocked his head at him, smile growing uncertain. “Is there a problem with that?”
“No, just checking,” he replied, then, “Can we talk somewhere for a while?”
“Certainly.” The smile was back, but Kyon didn’t miss the slight crease of concern on the esper’s forehead. 
They grabbed some coffee from the vending machine in the hall and headed into the school courtyard. The afternoon light was still warm, filtering through the trees, and it reminded Kyon keenly of the time Koizumi had first explained to him that he was an esper and his role in the whole sorry mess.
“Is there a problem?” the transfer student asked as they sat down.
“You could say that.”
“Ah, would this be at all related to what you mentioned yesterday?”
He’d almost forgotten that muttered comment the day before. “Yeah. Damn it, I’m going to sound crazy.”
“Crazy is merely a matter of perspective.”
Kyon just sighed, not wanting to get into another philosophical discussion. “So, let me just check… as far as you’re concerned, Tsuruya has always been a member of the Brigade, right?”
The esper’s eyes were open now, and the smile had been replaced with a deadly serious expression that was usually a sign of things going badly. “…Yes.”
“…And Asahina has always been a twenty-something teacher.”
“By Asahina I take it you mean Asahina-sensei, your teacher and supervisor of the calligraphy club?”
He nodded, frown deepening. “Yeah. I thought so.”
“Kyon, what is this about?”
There was no easy way to say it, so there was no point beating about the bush. “Two days ago, the universe was remade.”
That made the esper sit up a little straighter. “What?”
Kyon leaned back, spreading a hand to vaguely encompass everything before him. “This. It’s different. Not all of it – a lot of it is the same – but all I know is that overnight a whole bunch of things changed, and the only one who’s aware of it is me. As far as everyone else is concerned, things have always been like this.”
“And you think Suzumiya is the cause?”
“Of course she is! Do you know anything else that could cause this?”
Koizumi held his hands up defensively. “Sorry – it’s just a shock. You have to admit it’s quite an outrageous claim, and one that is almost impossible to prove.”
“Do you believe me?”
“I am inclined to at least hear you out. What you are saying is within the realm of possibility.”
“Asahina-sensei didn’t believe me,” he reported moodily. “She just thought I was crazy.”
“Unfortunate, but understandable. She has not been as closely involved with Suzumiya as we have, and when confronted with the suggestion that the life she currently remembers might be fake, most people would make large irrational leaps of logic in order to dispute that fact. It’s known as cognitive dissonance.”
“So you’re saying you’re immune to this… dissonance?”
“Not at all. I’ve merely always been open to the possibility that Suzumiya may remake the world without my knowledge, so the idea is not quite so challenging to my beliefs and self-identity. Though might I ask – am I any different to the Koizumi you know in your universe?”
“Not in the slightest,” he muttered.
“That’s relieving to hear. Though I’m not yet entirely convinced.”
Kyon rubbed a frustrated hand through his hair. “I don’t really know what I could say to prove it to you, especially since you don’t seem to be any different in this universe.”
“Perhaps the best way to tackle the problem is to first figure out why you are aware of this… change… while no one else is?” Koizumi suggested lightly.
Kyon blinked. “I thought you’d already know that. You were the one who told me that your Agency thought that I was immune to Haruhi’s influences – hence why she’s been keeping me around. I admit I was sceptical at the time, but now I think I’m ready to believe it.”
Koizumi seemed thoughtful, tapping a finger against his lips. “Ah, well, in that case I do believe you.”
What? “Why the sudden change of heart?”
“It’s quite simple. The Agency has been throwing that particular theory around for the past few weeks, but I haven’t spoken of the matter with you yet. The fact that you are aware on your own, yet claim the information came from me… I would consider that to be sufficient evidence of your claims.”
“I could just be insane. It could all just be a figment of my imagination,” he pointed out.
“True, we can’t rule out that possibility either. We can’t even rule out the possibility that Suzumiya might have decided that dimensional travellers were interesting, and created you on the spot. But it is generally far better to be prepared for the worst case scenario.”
Koizumi always did give you enough brain-bending options to shake your confidence in your own existence. Kyon could feel another headache developing. Logic and common sense were his forte – abstract concepts and whimsical ideas were better suited their resident esper. It wasn’t that he didn’t always follow his schoolmate’s philosophical ramblings, but more that they stretched the boundaries of his logic beyond what he felt were acceptable limits. Kyon didn’t believe in postulating grandiose theories without evidence and reason. Then again, until recently Kyon hadn’t believed in aliens, espers or time travellers, either.
“Let’s not get sidetracked by any of that,” he stated firmly. “What can we do about it?”
Koizumi adopted what he’d mentally dubbed as his ‘thinking pose’, running his index finger down the bridge of his nose. After a moment, the esper suggested, “Why don’t you outline the differences between your universe and this one, to begin with?”
It was reasonable, and simple enough too. He’d only noticed a few major differences between the two, and a couple of minor and largely inconsequential changes here and there, so it only took a couple of minutes to outline everything he’d noticed. The esper just nodded thoughtfully throughout, and when he finished, spent a couple of minutes in contemplative silence while Kyon finished drinking his cold coffee.
“I’m sorry to say that I cannot think of any means of reliably returning things to how you remember them.”
“Those powers of yours aren’t much good then, are they? You can enter closed space, but can’t really manipulate it?”
“Closed space is a completely different matter. Our work is preventative in its nature. We are, in effect, a medicine for Suzumiya’s moods. Though I must admit that I feel partially responsible. The Agency works to prevent this very sort of thing from happening, and the fact that it has occurred suggests our failure in the world you come from.”
“Please don’t make me feel any more like an alien,” he grumbled.
“Sorry, sorry,” Koizumi apologised, not looking the least bit sorry at all. “But there really doesn’t seem to be anything that can be done. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is to make the best of a bad situation, rather than stirring the pot even more in the act of trying to right relatively minor problems.”
Wait… “You’re saying that I should just ignore it and make do with this universe?”
“Consider it from my point of view - I’m quite attached to this universe. I can understand that you might be stressed, but by the sound of it things are, for the most part, almost identical to the world you come from. Would you really risk destabilizing the situation further by trying to return things to their previous state?”
It was a compelling argument. As upsetting as it was to lose Asahina’s friendship in the club, it wasn’t like she’d vanished altogether.  And heck, the commute to school no longer included a hellish climb. It made him sad, certainly, but when he weighed his options, doing nothing might be the best option. It appealed to his lazy side, too.
He’d talk to Nagato tomorrow, he decided, just for a second opinion. It was always possible she might know of a way to restore things to their natural order without creating much upset. If not… well, he’d just have to get used to treating Asahina like a teacher and not a fellow student.