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Universe Roulette - Chapter 6

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: Kyon talks to Nagato, and Koizumi poses difficult questions.


Universe Roulette

Chapter 6


Rather than awkwardly muddle through lunch alone the next day, Kyon ate in the clubroom.  He had become so used to having Nagato there as part of the furniture that it was somewhat strange that the room was completely devoid of any presence.  He thought it privately pathetic that he was hiding in the Brigade clubroom to eat lunch by himself, but it was even more uncomfortable to sit out in the grounds or cafeteria eating alone and brooding over the disappearance of his friends.  Besides, as soon as he finished eating he'd go talk to Nagato, and hopefully this time get somewhere with his attempts to return things to how they should be.  That thought in mind, he scoffed his food in record time.

It was with some trepidation that he abandoned the comparative safety of the Brigade clubroom and headed next door.  Calming his nerves and reminding himself that it was just Nagato, he knocked twice on the computer society’s door.

There was no response.

Of course.  This was Nagato, after all.

No other choice, then.  He swung the door open.  Sure enough, Nagato sat reading in the corner of the room.  Odd.  For some reason, he thought that the fact she was in the computer club would mean that she'd be on the computer instead of reading.  She looked up blankly when he walked in, but otherwise gave no sign of acknowledgement.

"Oh, good, you are here," he said, more to himself than anyone else.  "Can I talk to you for a while?"

Nagato just closed the book in her lap in response.

Right.  Apparently this Nagato was even more reticent than the one he was familiar with.  Then again, it hadn't been until after she'd spilled her true identity to him that he'd actually exchanged more than two sentences with her.  The difference between her and Asakura was so amazingly wide.
Without much preamble, Kyon launched into his story. While he explained the changes the universe had been going through, Nagato’s expression didn’t so much as flicker. She didn’t even blink, which was a little unnatural, but she was effectively an alien computer, after all. Or something like it. Either way, she seemed to quietly absorb his story until he finished and rocked back on his heels, waiting for her response.
Nagato stared at him for a long moment, and he barely resisted the urge to fidget under her emotionless gaze.
“And you say this has happened twice now,” she finally stated.
Another long, awkward silence.
“Given the available information, it is not likely that you are lying. There is a small chance that you are suffering paranoid delusions, but in light of your recognition of my status without background information, your hypothesis of Haruhi Suzumiya influencing the environment in such a manner is plausible. Furthermore, the Data Thought Integration Entity is troubled by the fact that you say this has happened twice in a short period of time. It is indicative of instability, and without the appropriate data to predict further changes, creates an untenable situation.”
Kyon felt his knees go slightly weak with relief. “You’ll help, then?”
“The Data Thought Integration Entity will investigate some means of correcting the matter. However, due to the complexity of the information involved, it will take considerable time and processing power. Even then, there is no guarantee that a solution is within our grasp. Suzumiya Haruhi creates data from nothing. This is an ability that is currently beyond the Data Thought Integration Entity’s understanding.”
“Autonomous evolution,” he quipped, recalling the term from what felt like distant memory. 
If Nagato was surprised, she didn’t show it. “Yes.”
“Okay then. I understand that these things take time. But if you could tell the Data Thought Integration Entity to hurry up, you know… because last time the universe changed before we could even do anything about it.”
She just nodded, though the movement was so slight Kyon thought he might have imagined it in optimism. “I do possess one more query, however.”
“You are aware that Asakura possesses the same abilities as I. Why did you instead approach me? You are obviously familiar with the designation known as Asakura, and she is more readily accessible to you in comparison with myself.”
Kyon flinched. It was a fair question, but he didn’t really want to answer it. Slumping, he confessed, “Asakura and I had… some issues, in the original universe. You… deleted her, I guess.”
He was a little concerned about what the consequences of admitting that to Nagato might be – after all, Asakura’s parting words of warning haunted him every now and again, even if he trusted Nagato implicitly – but she merely nodded again, as though that was all the explanation necessary. 
A quick glance at his watch revealed that lunch was almost over. Heading for the door, he called out, “I’ll come back tomorrow, then.”
No response. But he still felt a little better after having spoken to Nagato. When he’d spoken to her in the last universe, she had reported that the Data Thought Integration Entity was reluctant to act. But if there was going to be a potential universe-altering bonanza, then he was confident that the matter would see some action.
He even allowed himself to hope for a moment than in another day or two, things might be back to normal. It seemed like Nagato’s ‘magic’ could do almost anything. It was naïve to think so, but he’d take whatever shallow, comforting thoughts he could get.
The notion was enough to carry a good mood all the way through afternoon classes – or at least until Haruhi chewed him out over skipping club two days in a row. That brought him back down quickly. There was no way her holiness Haruhi would let him get away with skipping club again, so that afternoon Kyon would have to go and face Asakura.
Needless to say, his feet were dragging when he left the classroom that afternoon. Haruhi was still on cleaning duty, so he even had to go alone. His slow pace at least managed to drag out to the walk to the Brigade clubroom to a good ten minutes. Then he spent another thirty seconds standing outside of the door, not particularly wanting to go in but acutely aware of the fact that he looked like a fool standing there staring into space.
This was stupid. He was just being paranoid. Kyon took a deep breath, plastered what he hoped was a neutral expression on his face, and strode into the clubroom.

Just his luck, Asakura was the only one present.  He’d even walked slowly; where was everyone else? She whirled around and sent him a dazzling smile.  "Kyon!"

"Hey, Asakura," he replied as casually as he could, though heard his voice hitch slightly anyway.  Honestly, what was he getting so worked up for?  She hadn't really come back from the dead.  And as far as he knew, this Asakura hadn't ever done anything wrong.
She clasped her hands behind her back and leant forward, whispering, "Nagato told me what's going on.  If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them."

Nagato had told?!  Already?! Wait, of course she had.  By the looks of it, in this world Nagato was the 'backup'.  He was already regretting coming to club.  "Ah, no, it should be okay."

"If you say so," she conceded, then placed a finger to her lips and winked at him.  "Though I'm rather hurt you went to Nagato instead of me."

Kyon fixed a smile on his face, and replied, "Nothing personal, I just knew her better in the original world."  He hoped to God - though could he really hope to God when it appeared that Haruhi was currently filling that role? - that Nagato hadn't mentioned anything about Asakura's demise.  It was a good thing he'd been vague on it. He’d hate to give the bubbly girl any ideas.

The blue-haired beauty just nodded and smiled radiantly.  "Of course."

Thankfully, the door opened again, admitting Koizumi and Tsuruya this time.  Tsuruya immediately ran over to Asakura and the two of them started yabbering on about something at high speed.  Koizumi greeted everyone and then headed over to the pile of board games, holding up a card game questioningly.  Kyon nodded his assent, relieved by the normalcy of the action in this vastly different Brigade.  The awkward atmosphere dissipated somewhat, even though the mood in the clubroom was still different from what he remembered.

As they set up the cards, Koizumi commented, "It's quite strange for you to miss two afternoons in a row.  Suzumiya was rather upset.  Is everything alright?"

As though summoned by her name, the door swung open violently, and their self-appointed ultra-chief strode into the room, glanced about imperiously, then smiled in satisfaction when she saw that everyone was present.  Haruhi did like arriving fashionably late and having a grand entrance.

Kyon muttered a quick, "I'll tell you later," watching Haruhi dance over to the other two girls, bag in hand.  Ah, costumes again.  It would be best to keep an eye on proceedings so that he and Koizumi could evacuate the room before being physically thrown from it.
Eventually, the girls decided that they were going to change – Haruhi had some notion of doing a music video instead of just a movie this time apparently. The pair of boys dutifully evacuated the room and stood outside in the hall.
Koizumi was watching him with that perpetually calm smile on his face, clearly expecting that this was the best ‘tell you later’ time. Kyon eyeballed the door, not trusting that the conversation wouldn’t be interrupted, and asked, “So, what’s this music video thing?”
The expression didn’t change other than a slight crease in the esper’s forehead. “What do you mean? Haven’t you been paying attention all week?”
“I wish it were that simple,” he grumbled. “Just explain, quickly.”
“Haruhi’s writing her own song, and wants to make a music video for it,” the esper replied, though his voice was measured and doubtful, as though he was expecting to be interrupted at any moment. “She said it would be more effective than a live performance, because this way they can have multiple costume changes. Though really I think it was that she wanted to perform most of the musical parts herself.”
Kyon nodded thoughtfully. That sounded like Haruhi. She’d probably become impatient with him and Koizumi being slow at learning to play. Haruhi was all about instant gratification, and wasn’t very understanding of the fact that not everybody shared her aptitude for almost anything you threw at them. “Right. Thanks.”
Koizumi’s expression grew thoughtful. “You really don’t remember, do you?”
Kyon was about to respond when the door flung open, and he nearly choked. The girls were all wearing ridiculous outfits that looked like they belonged on a Spanish ballroom dance floor. And were those feathers? 
“Well? What do you think?” Haruhi announced proudly, gesturing to the other two girls who were wearing matching ensembles, just in blue and green instead of red.
“You look ridiculous,” he replied in a bored tone.
“Hmph! Who cares what you think anyway? These costumes will make our video a huge hit! You need glamour if you’re going to make a good music video!” she proudly proclaimed, then tapped a finger to her chin. “I just wish we had more people in the club to be backup dancers. All the really glamorous ones have lots of girls.”
“For what it’s worth, I think the costumes are just smashing,” Koizumi piped up. Hopeless sycophant. Even knowing why the esper did it, it still turned his stomach.
“As usual, Koizumi has the best taste! Hurry up Kyon, take pictures! We’ll put them on the website!”
“Sure, sure,” he agreed, accepting the camera and dutifully snapping photos as the girls struck a variety of poses. In all honesty, the outfits were quite head turning on three such beautiful girls, but it was sort of hard to take them seriously when all that would ever spring to mind was Tsuruya’s terrible zombie acting or Asakura’s creepily cheerful declarations of his impending death.
So the afternoon passed in that fashion, with most of it spent in dress-up rather than actual progress being made in regards to the making of a music video. Normally songs were supposed to exist before the video was made, right? Although it sounded like Haruhi hadn’t finished writing it in this universe yet. At least it looked he and Koizumi were off the hook in terms of the clothes for now.
It was a relief when their self-designated ultra-chief declared club activities for the day over. Kyon was looking forward to going home to some normalcy, where his little sister would get underfoot and his parents would chatter meaninglessly over dinner. 
Unfortunately, the comfort of home was to be denied a little longer yet. When he stepped out of the clubroom, Koizumi was waiting for him. “Hi,” he greeted with a cheerful little smile.
“What do you want?”
“Just wondering what all that was about earlier.”
Right. He hadn’t actually informed the esper about the universe change yet. How troublesome. Explaining it twice in one day was annoying. Best to just go for the abbreviated version so he could go home faster. “Oh, right. Haruhi remade the universe again. This is twice now. But don’t worry, Nagato’s on it.”
“Nagato Yuki?”
“Right, you probably don’t know her here. She’s one of Asakura’s people.” It felt backwards explaining it like that.
“I see.”
Even though the intention was to drop the news and amble off, Kyon couldn’t help but eyeball the transfer student. “You’re taking this rather well. Didn’t think you’d believe me so easily.”
“Well, it does rather conveniently explain your unusual behaviour the past few days. And if you say that one of her people are looking in to it, there must be some merit to it.”
“Hn. That makes it easier for me, I guess,” he dismissed. It was a relief not to have to go through the details this time.
“I do have one question though.”
“Oh?” Koizumi’s questions were always doozies that had the tendency to rob him of sleep.
It did not disappoint. “Do you know why?”
“Why Haruhi wanted to remake the world. Was she bored? Upset? Did something bad happen in the original world? I would think that is the key.”
Why. It wasn’t an angle he’d considered before, though it felt like the obvious approach once pointed out to him.  Boredom was the usual factor apparently, but he didn’t think Haruhi had the chance to get bored anymore – the Brigade did plenty to keep her occupied, and they rarely ever had more than a few days down-time before another manufactured misadventure would crop up. If she was still bored with that, there wasn’t anything anyone could do short of inciting anarchy in the streets.
What had happened on the day before the original universe change? It seemed so long ago now, so incredibly far away even though it hadn’t even been a fortnight yet. Guiltily, his mind leapt to the encounter with Asahina that day. Could that really have been it? True, Asahina had stipulated that jealousy was a factor in Haruhi’s initial abortive attempt at remaking the world, but their vivacious leader hadn’t appeared upset at the time, so he’d been confident that he was off the hook.
That would give him a hell of a guilty conscience if it were true. Being single-handedly responsible for the destruction of the universe as everyone knew it – or was it two universes now? – because he hadn’t been able to resist some harmless flirting was quite a heavy burden. But then, why remake the universe again? Maybe he could attribute the first upset to that incident, but now that Asahina was his homeroom teacher he could hardly flirt with her anymore. 
“I don’t know,” he eventually replied with a dismissive shrug. Koizumi just nodded thoughtfully and didn’t ask any more questions. It continued to bother him though - all along the walk home, while he did his homework in the evening, and even while he lay in bed that night, staring at a ceiling lit dull grey by the moonlight.
When he woke up the next morning to his sister jumping on his bed, he was already running late. But he lost at least an additional ten minutes staring at the new school uniform hanging in his closet, a sense of dread settling over him.