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Universe Roulette - Chapter 12

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: The beginning of the end.


Universe Roulette

Chapter 12


Kyon had gone to bed in a reasonably optimistic mood the evening before, but then spent the night dreaming of closed space. Such dreams inevitably put him in a foul temper – he really wasn’t fond of those monochrome worlds at all. He wound up sleeping through the first period, until Haruhi started kicking the back of his chair to wake him up. He sent her a scowl, but vainly tried to focus on what the teacher was saying after that. How was it that no matter how many different universes the girl inflicted upon him she always wound up sitting behind him?
Right, she had some sort of infatuation with him apparently. Borne out of her inability to bend him to her will. She ordered him around all the time, and he usually went along with being her errand boy - wasn’t that enough?
It was an avenue of thought he’d treaded down far too many times to even consider venturing near again so early in the morning. Contemplating how thoroughly Haruhi was messing up his existence was an activity best saved for afternoons, or better yet, the dead of the night. Damn, it was hard to concentrate on class though. It was maths, one of his poorest subjects, made even worse by Okabe-sensei’s bored monotone. It would have been easier to concentrate if Asahina was still teaching…
Lunch arrived, and Haruhi whirled out of the door as soon as the bell rung, stopping only long enough to order him to make certain he came to the clubroom when school ended – usually a good sign that she was going to skip out on the remaining two periods of class in order to cook up trouble. He nodded and waved her off with a yawn, then glanced around the room. It seemed too quiet. Belatedly, he remembered that he didn’t have anyone to eat lunch with – Taniguchi and Kunikida didn’t exist anymore. He frowned to himself as he stood and made his way to the cafeteria alone. Really, what was wrong with him? They’d vanished several universes ago.
A wave of loneliness and melancholy swept over him. Grabbing some food from the cafeteria, he made a beeline for the courtyard where he and Koizumi had eaten lunch the day before… but the courtyard only contained several girls gossiping in small groups. 
He scuffed his shoe on the ground with a grunt, shoving his hands into his pockets to ward off the sudden chilly breeze. Koizumi usually ate in his classroom, he knew that, and yesterday had simply been an aberration. Besides, it wasn’t as though he wasn’t going to see the other boy that afternoon in club anyway. Just because Koizumi was the only person he could talk to without being called crazy was no reason to be clingy.
Still, it was hard to curb his impatience through afternoon classes. He was eager for a friendly, familiar face. It seemed like classes would never end. 
Finally the day was over and class was dismissed. Haruhi had, predictably, skipped out on afternoon lessons. Probably finalising details for the shoot next week. 
Despite the fact that he’d had a horrid day, week, month, there was a spring in Kyon’s step as he headed to clubroom. As much of a transformation as the SOS Brigade had gone through, there was at least one enduring constant in his life – he and Koizumi could play board games while they waited for Haruhi to turn up late with more crazy work for them. Even if they didn’t spend any time discussing the problem at hand or getting any closer to a solution, at least while they were playing board games and Koizumi still had that irritating unshakeable smile he could pretend that life was normal and that when club was over he’d be going home to a warm house where his sister would be underfoot and his mother would make his meals and do his laundry.
After knocking firmly – more out of habit from his days when Asahina had still been in the brigade than anything else – he swung the door open, greeting on his lips. His hand froze on the handle when he registered a foreign presence in the room.
The computer society’s president? Did he pick the wrong room? It certainly looked like the Brigade clubroom.
The blonde looked over, and gave him a weak smile. “Ah, it’s just you, Kyon.” What the hell? Since when had the upperclassman ever been so familiar with him?
The universe must have changed again, he realised belatedly. Best to play along, so as not to be considered crazy. “Hey. Where’s Koizumi?”
“Koizumi?” It was Haruhi’s voice behind him. He started involuntarily as she swept past him into the room. “Who’s that?”
The blonde was laying out a card game on the table in clear invitation. “Not another ‘client’ come to seek the services of the brigade?” His voice was tight and wary.
Kyon couldn’t respond. It felt as though all the air had been sucked from his lungs.
“Oi, Kyon, hurry up and close the door. You’re letting the cold air in,” Haruhi said crossly as she plonked imperiously down in front of the computer. “Okay, so I was checking this out this afternoon! What do you think?” She held up a flier.
“Basketball?” the blonde asked weakly.
“Yeah. We only need five players for a team! It’s perfect! If we win the tournament, it’ll be great publicity for the Brigade! Kyon, close the door already!”
Never once had he even considered the possibility that Haruhi would will Koizumi out of existence. The notion never even crossed his mind.
“I have to go,” he mumbled, then stumbled from the room and ran down the hall.
“Kyon! Hey, Kyon!”
He passed by a surprised Asakura and Tsuruya in the hall, but didn’t acknowledge them. He didn’t stop running until he was several blocks from the school.
Impossible. Everything else looked the same – club was the only thing that changed. He was still living in that depressing little apartment by the train tracks. Okabe-sensei was still teaching class. Taniguchi and Kunikida were still missing.
It was cloudy again, casting a dreary pall over everything. It was suffocating.
“Just let me out already!” he yelled. Nearby, a mother jerked, then quickly herded her children away.
That was right; protect them from the crazy person. Laughter bubbled up in his throat. Maybe he really was crazy. Koizumi said that he might be a dimensional traveller Haruhi dreamed up, right? For all he knew, even his original universe might be a lie, a false set of memories to go along with all the others. 
Enough already.
A person across the street was giving him a weird look. Kyon sighed and started shuffling back to that apartment.
He refused to think of it as home.
It was all so tiring. As soon as he made it inside, he shut the door and leant against it, sliding down to the floor. His phone trilled from his bag, but he ignored it. It would just be Haruhi chewing him out for leaving club early.
The hours passed by, and he didn’t move.
The sun set, and he dragged himself to his feet, made dinner, and then proceeded not to eat it. He wound up going to bed early.
When his alarm went off the next morning, he didn’t bother getting up.
The sun crawled across the sky. But he couldn’t bear the thought of dragging himself to school that day.
Without anything to really do, he completed the homework skipped the night before and cleaned up the apartment some. He didn’t have much of an appetite, but ate some of the leftovers anyway. They tasted like cardboard in his mouth.
He just needed some time to absorb it. Some time to get himself together. Some time to think of a way out.
Koizumi had been the way out, though. They were just about to start getting somewhere. And now Koizumi was gone.
When the clock struck three, his phone buzzed once more. Haruhi again. This time he answered. “Hey.”
“Kyon, where are you?!”
“At home, stupid, where else would I be?”
“You’re supposed to be at club! What’s your excuse? It better be a good one!”
“I don’t feel well. I’m staying at home today.”
“Weak! Where’s your strength of spirit?! Get over here!  We’ve got basketba-”
There was a tussle, and it sounded like the phone was being wrenched away from her.
“Kyon?” Oh grand. Asakura. “You’re sick?”
“Yeah.” It was close enough to the truth.
“You just concentrate on getting better then, okay? Don’t mind what Suzumiya says. We’ll manage somehow!” A pause, then, “Oh, there’s someone else who wants to talk to you.”
“Kyon.” It took him a minute to place the voice. The computer club’s president?
“Hey.” Come to think of it, there was something he needed to ask. “I have a weird question.”
“Uh – what is it?”
“…Are you an esper by any chance?”
“What?” The blonde sounded confused. “What on earth is that?”
His heart sank. “Never mind.”
"Kyon," the blonde whined.  "Come back to club soon.  Haruhi's being really scary... well, scarier than normal."

He didn't respond.  A distant part of him felt bad for the computer club's president - although he had apparently lost that role now - but it was not enough to overshadow the bitterness that he was the one who Haruhi had used to replace Koizumi.  Why him?  What did Koizumi do wrong?  The esper always supported everything that Haruhi did, pandered to her every whim, did his utmost to ensure that she was never bored or displeased.

...Was it because of him?

Kyon felt his breath catch in his throat.  Was it just coincidence?  He'd spent a lot more time with Koizumi lately, simply because aside from Haruhi, Koizumi was the only friend he had left.  Haruhi didn't have any reason to be upset about that, though - Koizumi was in the Brigade too, and she didn't have any reason to be jealous of him... did she?

The thought was a disquieting one.  Maybe Haruhi just wanted him utterly miserable.  Intellectually, he didn't think that was the case - she was good person, really.  He knew that she'd felt terribly guilty during that fake murder case on the island that Summer when it appeared that after wishing for something morbid to happen it actually did.
But he couldn’t ignore the pattern anymore. Couldn’t pretend that he wasn’t responsible.
“I’ve got to go,” he mumbled.
“Wait, Kyon-”
He hung up, and stood there in the darkening kitchen, shaking.
Everyone he spent time with, everyone he was friendly with… they all disappeared. Did Haruhi’s jealousy run so deep?
It was his fault. Not just Asahina… everyone.
He sank to the floor, phone slipping through nerveless fingers.
It was the same as murder, really.  No, worse than murder.  Their entire existences had been erased, as though they had never even tread on the surface of the planet.  All because of him.  He'd killed them.  He'd killed Asahina because he'd dared to flirt with her in Haruhi's presence.  He'd killed his friends because he'd spent his lunchtimes with them.  He'd killed Nagato because he'd gone to her with his problem.  He'd killed his parents simply by being their son, and his sister by proxy.  And he'd killed Koizumi because he'd dared to get close to him when all others had been wrenched away.

Anyone who got close to him would vanish.  Haruhi would ensure it.
Kyon buried his head in his arms. Why did he ever even allow himself to hope? 
He was never getting out of this hell.