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Universe Roulette - Chapter 11

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 and Koizumi start to work on some sort of solution.


Universe Roulette

Chapter 11


Kyon was absolutely dreading school that day.
He couldn’t believe it. Had he really broken down and cried all over Koizumi’s shirt? Forget that – he let the esper hug him! 
He was absolutely mortified.
His feet dragged on the way to school. Maybe he could just skip club? No, as much as he was dreading it, he needed to see Koizumi – they were yet to work out some way of fixing this whole problem.
At the very least Koizumi managed to fill in a few blanks. He didn’t know everything, but his background check solved a few mysteries – his parents and sister had apparently died in a mysterious house fire when he was in elementary school, and he hopped between foster homes for most of middle school before moving out to begin living on his own when he started high school. His money came from a trust fund set up by his parents’ life insurance company and was apparently just enough to see him through to the end of high school. It was all rather convenient and utterly stank of some soppy novel Haruhi had probably been reading before bed.
The girl in question was humming, clearly pleased with herself. Despite his intentions to just ignore her, old habits died hard. “What’s got you in such a good mood this morning?”
“Oh, it’s you. We were talking to the cosplay club yesterday, and they were so excited they offered to do all of our costumes! All we have to do is let them take a few photos so that they can advertise their works! That works out even better, because it’s like advertising for the Brigade as well!”
“And how many of them did you have to extort to arrange that?” He wasn’t too worried about the costumes – Haruhi had written a high school drama, after all. They honestly probably could have just worn their usual clothes.
Haruhi ignored his question and barrelled on. “We don’t need to do any set work for the first few episodes, but we’re going to have to look into scouting some locations later. We need something exotic! If it’s not exotic and interesting, no one’s going to want to watch!”
No one was going to want to watch anyway. He could only hope that Haruhi lost interest before it came time to film some of the more complex episodes.
Luckily, Okabe’s timely arrival spared him further conversation, and Kyon could safely go back to being embarrassed about his display of weakness the day before. Good times.
At least he didn’t have to worry about it until club that afternoon. The bell rang for lunch, and Kyon wandered off to ‘Brigade headquarters’ for lack of anything else to do. Honestly, the whole ‘lone wolf’ thing was wearing him down. He was almost at the point where he was willing to try striking up conversation with random people in the hallway.
He’d barely settled himself in when there was a knock on the door. “What is it?” he called.
Koizumi was standing in the doorway. What? He wasn’t supposed to be there then – Kyon at least had until the afternoon-
“Hiding in here again?” Koizumi smiled, walked over, grabbed his hand, and started tugging him out the door. “Let’s eat outside.”
“What- But-”
“It won’t do you any good to mope in there. I thought you might be able to use some sunshine and fresh air.”
“Hey, let go, it’s embarrassing!”
Koizumi cheerfully ignored him, and didn’t release him until they were outside underneath a shady tree. “Here should be good.”
Scowling, Kyon flopped down on the grass. Admittedly, it was nice outside – there was a pleasant breeze and the warm midday sunlight was as close to being the polar opposite of his dark cold apartment that you could get. “What’s your problem?”
“I just wanted to let you know that I spoke to the higher-ups last night. Your information has spared them a great deal of discussion time, and they’re now focusing on ways to incite Suzumiya to change things back to the original universe.”
That was something, at least. “How long do you think it will take?” That stupid Agency was so slow when it came to doing anything other than fighting divine giants.
“There’s no way to know for sure. I dare say they’ll want to have a relatively fool-proof plan worked up…”
“It doesn’t need to be fool-proof. I’m immune, right? I’ll remember which plans don’t work, and we can just eliminate them one by one,” he interrupted.
“I suppose… wouldn’t you rather it work the first time, though?”
“Better we move faster, before a butterfly lands on her head or something and she decides to change things again.” Honestly, he just wanted a ticket out of this universe already. 
“I’ll suggest that course of action to them, then. It might take some convincing, but they should come around.”
They lapsed into silence at that – discussing such heavy matters as the destruction and recreation of the universe did not help lunch go down. For just a while, though… just that short period of time… things felt almost normal again.
It was best to just move past it already. Kyon scrunched up his empty juice box and took a deep breath.
“…About yesterday, I’m sorry,” he mumbled, just knowing he was probably blushing like an idiot.
Koizumi blinked, then broke out into a smile. “Oh, don’t worry about it. I think you needed it.”
He had needed it, but Kyon didn’t really want to acknowledge that. “It wasn’t right to just dump that on you.”
“On the contrary, that’s exactly what I’m here for. We’re friends, aren’t we?”
He supposed they were. A couple of weeks ago he would have sooner died than admit it, but they generally looked out for each other, attended the same club every day, and played board games together when they were bored. How much more did they need to qualify for friendship? Kyon nodded vaguely.
“Even if you might not be exactly the same as the Kyon I remember, that still holds true. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, please feel free,” Koizumi assured him.
That was… really very kind of him.  Koizumi was always nice to everyone – that was his whole gig – but he’d always been sort of aloof, too, which irritated Kyon immensely. Such kindness didn’t sound right coming out of that mouth that was so adept at spouting lies.
The bell trilled, signalling the end of lunch. Koizumi stood up, dusting blades of grass from his clothes. “I suppose we should be heading back. You’re feeling better now, right?”
“Yeah.” He’d be damned if he said thanks, but the esper smiled in a way that told him he didn’t need to.
At least he was able to pay attention in afternoon classes. He was only lucky that it was coursework they’d been through in a previous universe, since he’d scarcely paid any attention at all for the past week. He turned up to club like a good little robot that afternoon, too, and even managed to hide his flinch when the only one there was Asakura. He still wouldn’t drink her tea, though. There was paranoia, and then there was just plain common sense.
Haruhi was nearly half an hour late. She kicked open the door, paraded into the room, and dumped an armful of clothing all over the game of five-in-a-row he and Koizumi were playing. “Costumes are here!”
“That was fast. Did you have them working through the night?” he asked.
It was meant as a joke, but Haruhi flipped her hair over her shoulder and smugly affirmed it. “Of course.”
She was terrifying.
Tsuruya and Asakura were sorting through the clothes, holding up outfit after outfit. “Yaaa, these are great!” Tsuruya exclaimed.
They were all very fashionable, true, but looked more like the sorts of things college students would be wearing. At least there was nothing too embarrassing, even though Kyon thought that the patches on the elbows and knees of his outfits were overdoing it. “I’m homeless, now?” Oh god, if Haruhi suddenly dreamed up a universe where he was living on the streets he just might have to try and kill her.
“You’ve got to exaggerate it. That’s how they do it on TV!”
On bad television, maybe. Koizumi picked up a shirt. “I think they’re wonderful.”
Just because he was feeling a little more charitable to the esper at the moment didn’t mean his sycophantic ways weren’t irritating. “Suck-up,” he mumbled under his breath.
“Right! We should be able to start filming next week then,” Haruhi decided, hands on her hips.
A thought occurred to him. Kyon tentatively raised his hand. “Hey.”
“What is it?” she snapped, as though daring him to disagree with her.
“In the opening scene – we’re all in it. Who’s going to hold the camera?”
Silence, then… “We’ll just grab any old person walking past.”
That was a phenomenally stupid idea. The camerawork was bad enough when one of them did it – how much worse would it be if an unwilling stranger did it? The awkward pause suggested that he wasn’t the only one having those thoughts.
“I have a friend who can maybe help out!” Asakura piped up with a cheery smile. Saved. Even if it was one of Asakura’s people.
“That’s fine, then,” Haruhi agreed, then added, “We need more people. See if you can get her to join. Okay, let’s try these on! We have to take photos for the cosplay club!”
The rest of the afternoon was spent being Haruhi’s dress-up dolls. Fortunately it didn’t look like he and Koizumi had that many wardrobe changes, so they got to spend most of it sitting out in the hall while the girls played dress-up. It was a little boring, but lately he’d grown a bit of an appreciation for boring. And no doubt once the filming started he would be worked to the bone as ‘chore boy’ again. Honestly, it never ended with that girl.
Finally they were released from the ultra-chief’s clutches. Kyon mentally ran through a list of things he needed to do when he got back to the apartment. There was laundry that needed to be done, grocery shopping, and he had a book report due the next day. Haruhi really should have considered how her Brigade activities ate into other people’s time every now and again. If there was any time left over after that, he might even try some brainstorming of his own. Leaving everything to Koizumi’s weird Agency was way too optimistic.
The apartment was still dark and empty and depressing, but Kyon was feeling a little better about things now. This time, surely, he would find a way out of this mess.