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Universe Roulette - Chapter 7

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: In retrospect, I should have just cut this chapter and the last one altogether - they don't really advance the story that much. Oh well, bit late now. :S What is it about seeing the words actually posted that changes how you read them?


Universe Roulette

Chapter 7


Kyon didn’t arrive to class until after the bell rang. He stared out over his classmates in a sea of black uniforms and white and blue sailor style shirts, and silently took his seat in front of Haruhi at the back of the room. She naturally looked right at home in the more traditional school uniform, but then, there were few outfits the girl couldn’t pull off.
“What’s up with you?” she hissed. “You’re late.”
“I slept in, since when was that a crime?” he retorted, tugging at his collar exasperatedly. It felt so weird. He’d never worn the traditional black uniforms with the high collar before, and it was impossible to feel comfortable. He felt out of place, even though everyone else was wearing the same thing.
The uniform itself was so distracting that it took him a good ten minutes to realise that Okabe-sensei was teaching the class again. She’d been their homeroom teacher originally, so having her up the front of the class wasn’t nearly as shocking as having Asahina-sensei there.
Obviously it was a new universe. It only took about twenty seconds to reach that conclusion when he’d spied the new uniform in the closet where his jacket and tie used to hang. But where did Asahina go? Was she teaching a different class? Or… his hope spiked briefly that maybe her younger version was back in the club again. 
Unfortunately, a quick glance around revealed that neither Kunikida nor Taniguchi made a comeback. That left him mildly bitter, but there wasn’t much that could be done about it. 
The hope that Asahina might have returned to club was enough to carry him through the day alone. Although his hopes were slightly dampened when it appeared that Nagato was not a member of the club, as upon checking the computer society’s clubroom at lunch, she was reading in a corner. Not wanting to waste time again, he quickly informed her of the situation for what felt like the thirtieth time, even if it was only the third, and extracted a promise to do something about it. At least the repeated attempts at explaining things were showing him the critical path to getting out the pertinent details without being called crazy. If it happened another one or two times, he might even get good enough at it to summarize the whole problem in thirty seconds flat.
His good spirits were completely dashed when the afternoon finally arrived, however. Asahina had not returned to club, and the ensemble from the previous universe remained. Kyon was not above admitting that the new uniforms were quite flattering on the girls, and much to his chagrin the traditional outfit seemed to suit Koizumi better than the tie and jacket combo. It was just clothes, but it still felt distinctly alien and uncomfortable to wearing something different after so long. As though things weren’t alien and uncomfortable enough already. 
If that wasn’t off-putting enough, the music video wasn’t happening here either, apparently – Haruhi was making placards of sorts instead, presumably for club advertising if the logo on it was anything to go by. Kyon didn’t want to risk admitting that he had no idea what he was supposed to be doing, so he just dutifully did what he was told without question. Apparently this was normal behaviour for him at least, since no one questioned him on it.
When club ended that afternoon, though, Koizumi approached him. “Kyon, what happened yesterday?”
“What?” he asked, dumbfounded.
“Yesterday,” the esper repeated, looking mildly concerned. “It isn’t like you to miss an appointment. I know it was late, but Asakura and I were waiting to meet with you for quite some time. We really can’t let Suzumiya be idle for too long, you know.”
For a brief glorious moment, he had a spike of hope that maybe someone else was aware of his situation already, but at talk of meetings he hadn’t heard of, was quickly disappointed. “I guess I should apologise. I don’t remember,” he confessed.
“You mean you forgot?”
“Not exactly… more that I have a different set of memories now,” he said, more musing to himself than answering the question properly. “I guess. I’m sure the me I am in this universe had his reasons, but I don’t know what they were, so yeah, we can say I forgot.”
It was almost worth it to see the expression of mild consternation on the unflappable esper’s face. “…Kyon… or should I say, are you really Kyon?”
“That’s a good question. Is the Kyon in your mind the same as the one in mine?” he responded rhetorically. After a moment of perplexed silence, he dropped the deadpan face and allowed himself a slight smirk. It was counterproductive, but he couldn’t resist the urge to turn the tables on the philosophical transfer student for a change. “Forget it, I’m just messing with you. Honestly-” Here he quickly glanced around, checking to make sure there wasn’t anyone within ear shot. “-Yesterday, Haruhi remade the universe again. She’s been doing every few days lately, and I’m the only one who seems to be immune to it.”
A quick summarized version of events brought the esper back up to date. As always, the esper just clasped his hands and thought about it before agreeing that it was highly probable. “What tipped you off, might I ask?”
“The uniform changed. Used to be jacket and ties. Changed to the traditional.”
“Hmm, Suzumiya must have been watching television again. I can see the aesthetics in choosing the traditional uniform.”
“I hate it,” he complained. “The tie was annoying in the older one, but it was still better than this damn collar.” 
“And this is the third universe you’ve been in now?”
“Fourth, if you count the original,” he corrected.
“Right. And you’ve not made any progress into rectifying the situation in any of them?”
“I’ve hardly had the chance. I have to keep figuring out what’s different in each one. Sometimes I don’t even realise it’s a new universe straight away. It’s not really the sort of thing you could work out in just a couple of days, right? But by the time it looks like I might be getting somewhere, Haruhi’s switched universes and I have to start again from scratch.”
“I see. You’re trapped in something of a Groundhog Day style dilemma.”
“You could put it like that,” Kyon conceded grumpily. “But this time I went to Nagato at the first opportunity. Hopefully that Data Thought Integration thing can actually make some progress this time.”
“I’ll talk to Agency about it too,” Koizumi promised as they reached the school gate – they’d walked the long way and discussed the matter as they went. “In fact, I’ll go speak with my colleagues now. From what you’ve said, time may well be of the essence, especially if you’re not certain of what factor is causing the instability in the first place.”
Kyon just grunted a ‘thanks’ and raised an arm in farewell as he headed down the gentle slope that used to be a hellish climb. It was true – at least this time he’d been able to act on the first day. Hopefully that would be enough time for Nagato or that mysterious Agency of Koizumi’s to come up with a plan. 
Still, it was odd how small and cosmetic most of Haruhi’s changes to each universe were. If she were really so bored, why didn’t she just dream up a universe where she was a secret agent or something?
Right, there was that rational subconscious of hers. It was practically a menace.   Somehow, Kyon felt that he would have been less unsettled to wake up in a universe filled with dinosaurs than to wake up in one that contained only subtle changes. It was more insidious the way not all of the differences were immediately visible.
Kyon ate lunch in the computer society’s clubroom with Nagato the next day, and the day after that. Granted, eating with Nagato was more or less exactly the same as eating alone, but it felt a little less awkward and pathetic than hiding out in the Brigade clubroom. And it made it easy to keep up to speed on what the Data Thought Integration Entity was doing about the situation, since Koizumi’s Agency seemed to spend a great deal more time discussing problems than actually doing anything about them. The esper at least had the good grace to look sheepish and apologise, but honestly it didn’t seem like anyone else felt any urgency over the situation.
That was all well and fine, and he was almost getting used the new routine – though even after a couple of days of it he still couldn’t feel comfortable in the unfamiliar uniform – until the fourth day when that routine was broken by the computer society’s president waltzing into the clubroom at lunchtime. 
The blonde strode in, clearly not expecting anyone other than Nagato to be present, and halted quite abruptly. There was a moment of panic while the other boy looked around – no doubt searching for Haruhi – before he relaxed slightly. “Oh, it’s just you.” Obviously Haruhi had soured relationships between the two clubs just as effectively in this universe as the others, though without Asahina to push around it would remain a mystery how she’d done it. It was probably something worth asking Nagato about later. “What are you doing here?”
“Eating lunch,” he replied evenly. It was tempting to roll his eyes, but he held some sympathy for the computer society’s president. The Brigade hadn’t made his life particularly easy, and he was technically an accomplice to those crimes through inaction. 
“But this is the computer society’s clubroom.”
“Is it a problem? I’m being careful not to make a mess or damage any of the machines,” he pointed out.
“He’s here with me,” Nagato quietly interrupted when it looked as though the blonde was about to make an issue of it.
The upperclassman started violently, Kyon watching with some bemusement. It appeared that he wasn’t the only one who sometimes considered Nagato a part of the furniture – with her consistent presence and silence it was easy to forget she was there. “Oh, Nagato! Well… okay… if you two are… I mean I guess it makes sense, but…. I’ll just leave you to it,” the computer society president babbled, quickly leaving the room again without even saying what it was he’d come there for in the first place.
It had been a mildly disconcerting disruption to his routine, but as Nagato said that the solution to his dilemma was ‘still pending’, he ignored it. Unfortunately, it appeared that in this case the high school grapevine was working against him.
As they were closing up club that afternoon, Haruhi suddenly started badgering him. “I heard you’ve been eating lunch with that girl in the computer society.”
It was an effort to remain nonchalant, but Kyon felt that he’d almost mastered the art by now. “Nagato? Yeah, what of it?”
A myriad of emotions fluttered across their leader’s face, before she suddenly smiled and slapped him on the back. “Ha, it makes sense I guess! She’s a loner too, isn’t she?” Haruhi never did mince her words. “Well, that’s good then! Get her to come along to club activities some time. We need more numbers! Come on, Tsuruya, the store’s going to close!” And with that, the girls flitted out of the clubroom, leaving the guys to finish closing up.
That wasn’t exactly the response he’d been expecting. Kyon felt oddly insulted, actually, and for a moment wondered if he was actually upset that she wasn’t jealous, which was just stupid because a jealous Haruhi was a one-way ticket to the end of the world, quite literally. 
His displeasure must have been showing, because all of a sudden the esper addressed him.
“Is it hard?” Koizumi asked as they finished packing away the board game they’d been playing.
“What do you mean?”
“You know… Haruhi calling you a loner like that. You obviously weren’t in your original universe. You’re usually the last to leave club here and the first to arrive, and spend all of your lunchtimes working on the website.”
“Huh.” He didn’t know that. “Have I been acting that different?”
“Aside from that, not really, I suppose. You’ve been doing well, considering.”
“I guess. I have no real way to compare.”
“But is it hard?”
“It could be worse.” It was difficult to imagine how, given that three cherished friends had vanished as though they had never existed, but he kept reminding himself that it was better than having divine giants running around smashing things. But maybe that was what was really bothering him. He still missed his friends. It was only natural, really, but it was still sort of annoying to hear the girl who had wrenched them from him calling him a loner. It was her damn fault, after all. 
Most irritating of all was that Koizumi - who by all rights was practically a stranger in this universe - could see through him like that. Kyon just sighed and rubbed his hand against his forehead tiredly. Maybe he would take Haruhi’s advice and try to convince Nagato to join their club instead of the computer society. Their fearless leader was always stating that they needed more members these days, and maybe if they managed to pool all their resources in one place, a solution to this cycle could be found. Nagato would probably need Asakura’s permission to make such a move, though. Grand. He’d have to talk to the blue-haired psychopath tomorrow. Not a psychopath, he belatedly reminded himself. Just an alien computer who, in a completely unrelated universe, once tried to kill him.
Maybe he wasn’t quite settled into the new routine yet after all.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 2nd, 2008 12:51 pm (UTC)
Oh god, I think I read that one too. o___o

I mean, it's an interesting idea, but...

You're a smart cookie. ;) You already know how I think.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )