Plans to investigate the cause of Haruhi's weird behavior or no, it's not like my routine the next morning is any different. Get up, get ready for school, climb Japan's own Mount Olympus, and settle in for a long day of classes that will all go over my head.
In hindsight, long does not even begin to cover it.
Haruhi doesn't say anything to me beyond a brief morning greeting, appearing to be completely lost in thought. My attempts to engage her in conversation are brushed off almost absent-mindedly, and eventually I stop trying.
Ten minutes in to my first class, time begins to drag. Each class seems to take half as long again as the previous one, and at one point I end up half convinced that Haruhi somehow slowed down my perception of time. But lunch goes by in a snap, just like normal, neatly refuting that theory- it seems today really is just that boring.
Without the stimulation the girl behind me usually provides, I fall asleep during two different classes, and awaken feeling even less well rested each time. Both teachers call me out on this. The classroom is also abnormally, stiflingly hot, which I find especially annoying given last night's nigh on freezing temperatures. What an awful, awful day.
Only when I'm on the verge of standing up and proclaiming that I just can't take this anymore does the end of day bell finally, finally ring, the sound sweeter in my ears than ever before. Of course, I still have to deal with whatever Haruhi's got in store, but...
"Club is cancelled."
...huh. Something weird, I'd expected, but not this kind of weird. The fact that Haruhi walked over to the clubroom and let everyone- even me, albeit just barely- get here before her probably should have tipped me off that something was up.
"Any particular reason why, Suzumiya-san?" Koizumi asks, sounding a bit surprised himself. He'd already gotten out the gameboard for something.
"Not really." Haruhi shrugs. "I'm just declaring today to be the brigade's official reprieve. So, make the best of it!" she finishes in a much more animated tone.
I don't even get a word in before she's halfway down the hallway, flickering away at half-light speed.
I take a moment to look over the room I'm still standing in the doorway of. Nagato is soundlessly packing up her book, Koizumi is putting away the game he'd just gotten out, and Asahina-san looks slightly crestfallen, having already started the tea. No one is questioning our abrupt day off, at least not out loud.
I shift my gaze back to the hall and sigh. I'm tempted to try and follow Haruhi, but she's already long gone. There's no chance I can catch up, or even keep up, with her going at THAT pace.
"Are you still worried?" Koizumi asks, noticing my expression.
"Yeah. You aren't? She just cancelled her favorite part of school."
"Suzumiya-san acts and lives in accordance with her whims, Kyon. You should know to expect the unexpected by now."
I grumble a little at that, but I can't say he's wrong. This isn't really "unusual" in the large scheme of things, I suppose.
Since I already have all my stuff packed up, I say my goodbyes and quietly leave, heading for home while I ruminate on Haruhi's sudden magnanimity. Strange or not, I do appreciate the break. Despite my two unplanned naps and the lack of anything particularly eventful today, I feel utterly exhausted. Maybe it's the fatigue of the last two days finally catching up with me, but I don't think I even could have dealt with anything Haruhi would have potentially had us doing.
By the time I get home my energy has dropped even further, roughly averaging "sloth in snowstorm" levels. I do my homework in a zombie like state, mechanically force dinner down my throat, and nearly fall asleep on the couch before deciding that if I'm this tired, maybe I need to go to bed early for once. It doesn't take but ten minutes after that to brush my teeth, hop in bed, and let the sweet embrace of Hypnos wash over me.
Thus the driest, most dragging day in recent memory finally comes to an end.
...and yet because God is cruel, or at least has a sick sense of humor, I only manage a few fitful hours of sleep before I blearily, unwillingly blink awake. I'm not willing to give up that easily when I so desperately need the rest though, so I'm about to switch positions in hopes of finding one even my sister would have a hard time waking me up from when I notice something.
That isn't my ceiling.
By extension, this isn't my bedroom.
I drag myself out of bed- no, it's a futon- and stand up, my eyes still partially closed. The only thought I can manage in my half-awake state is to curse Haruhi over and over- can't we go ONE day without something going wrong anymore? Koizumi, if you tell me this is nothing to worry about again I might just throttle you.
There doesn't seem to be a light switch in here, so I fumble around in the dark for a minute before I finally find a sliding door and open it to the rest of wherever I am. I'm greeted with nothing but more darkness, which I suppose I should have expected seeing as how it's still nighttime and people generally don't leave their lights on while sleeping. Surely there's a switch around here somewhere...
Leading my hand over the wall gets me to another door, this one with a handle. Opening it and feeling around finally pays off in the form of what at least feels very much like a light switch. Hopefully I won't be disturbing anyone who might be here, I don't know how I'd explain my presence in their house.
Flipping the lights on blinds me momentarily before my eyes adjust. I seem to be standing in a bathroom, and...
Nagato is standing right in front of me. Gah!
I jump slightly and back away. Oddly, Nagato does the same, looking more emotive and apologetic than I've ever seen her befo-
Wait. That's a mirror.
Oddly, instead of the hysteria I would think I would normally experience in such a situation, sarcasm fueled by annoyance is what rises to the fore. It isn't hard to think of either, because in the past four days we've gone from demons, to spirits, to bodily displacement. Has Haruhi suddenly lost the ability to focus on ONE thing for more than 24 hours? It's like her subconscious is throwing darts at a wall to pick what to alter reality with next! At this rate we'll have doubled the number of insane situations she's caused all year by next week!
That train of thought doesn't keep me distracted for long, but seeing Nagato's body with my somewhat frightened/somewhat annoyed facial expression in the mirror manages to stop me cold for a moment, just because of how out of place it seems. The combination looks so unusual on her near-constantly emotionless face that I'm almost tempted to make silly faces at myself simply because I can. Seeing as how that would be sort of rude, I hold myself back, and settle for merely boggling.
While I'm staring, I notice I'm in Nagato's North High uniform- thank the heavens she sleeps clothed, I don't think I could deal with having to see "myself" without that right now. Though, how I'm supposed to change clothing later, without seeing anything, is... maybe as an alien superbeing's "humanoid interface", Nagato just "warps the data" on her body to change? Can I do that now?
Ah, that's right! Nagato can alter reality to some extent, so if I'm her right now, I just need to figure out how to do that, and use it to get my actual body back. It probably isn't actually that simple, but it's a start. That's nice to have right off the bat for once.
I step back a moment to gather my thoughts- all things considered I think I'm taking this remarkably well. My thought process didn't default to panic mode, and I immediately started thinking of ways to deal with and solve my current predicament. Good to know I'm getting used to these sort of things happening on a regular basis. I'd rather they didn't happen at all, but at least I can cope.
...No, actually, this isn't that. Even after everything I've been through, I can't possibly be this calm about something like this. Why am I taking this so well? Is it because I'm in Nagato's body right now?
At the moment, I'm not sure I care. I need to get a better bearing on the impact of this situation.
Moving back to the main room, I finally find the main light switch and confirm that this is indeed Nagato's apartment. There's a near-imperceptible shakiness in my movements that I would assume is caused by shock- not much though, which is another bit of support for the "it's just a Nagato thing" theory.
I decide to test my voice, half wondering if it's going to be my real voice issuing from Nagato's tiny body, like always seems to happen in cartoons.
"I am not Nagato Yuki."
Wow. I'm speaking in Nagato's voice alright, but I don't sound nearly as apprehensive as I thought I would. My temporarily female voice sounds far less troubled than I really think I should feel about the "I've been bodily displaced" issue. Sure, that was more expressive than Nagato usually sounds, but it was nowhere near as anxious as I think it would have come out if I was inhabiting anyone else's body.
Definitely a Nagato thing then. I think I now see how she's always able to keep her cool no matter what the situation, if this is the extent of her "panic" when something actually occurs. Or maybe I have the cause and effect reversed, and its her perpetually calm mind that conditioned her body to release no stress hormones regardless of the situation. In which case I am going to screw up her brain chemistry just by being in here, so hopefully that's not the case. Although, does she even have... okay, I'm getting distracted.
The phone on the wall catches my eye. Hmm. If I ring my cell phone right now, who will I get on the other end? Nagato in my body? Haruhi in my body? Oh please tell me not the latter.
On that note, since I'm sure it's her that's behind this (like she almost always is), I must once again ask- why would she WANT this to happen? What's the point? Her motivations are inscrutable anymore- I'd thought that after all this time, I'd finally started to understand how Haruhi's mind works, at least to some small degree. But the events of this past week have me starting to doubt that I know what she wants at all.
I'm jolted from my thoughts by the phone ringing less than two feet from my face, startling me- not that my body does the instinctive jump it normally would at a loud noise, and my face stays set in the same expression, so I doubt that to an outside observer I'd really look all that alarmed. As much as I want my normal body back, I could get used to this- being mostly unflappable is kind of nice. Before the phone can start on a second ring, I pick it up and answer, not really thinking about what I'm doing.
I immediately regret my instinctive actions, but I've already picked up the phone. Too late to back out now. Please tell me it's someone who can fix this, or tell me how to fix it. At least don't be someone I don't know and will have to attempt to impersonate Nagato for.
"Nagato-san?" Phew, sounds like Asahina-san.
"This is Koizumi Itsuki."
...Of course it is. In that case-
"Kyon speaking." I reply. Might as well just get that out there right now.
"You too? Well, I suppose that means-" The phone beeps loudly, indicating another person trying to reach me.
"One moment, I've got another call coming in." I tell him. With both Koizumi and I in different bodies, and at least two displaced minds unaccounted for, I'm not too worried about picking this one up. Gee, I wonder, who could it be?
I switch lines.
Oh hey! It's me. Or, given the tremor in the voice, it's probably-
"I-it's me! Mikuru! I know I sound like Kyon, but-"
"You've switched bodies, right?"
"Y-yes... how did you know?" Hearing Asahina-san's inflections overlayed on top of my voice is... mildly disturbing, honestly, and not nearly as cute, though that should go without saying.
"Because I'm Kyon. I've got Koizumi in your body on another line."
"O-oh. T-this is probably a bigger problem than just me and Kyo- um, you, then, isn't i-"
Another beep interrupts that statement. I ask Asahina-san to hold for a moment and switch lines again. Apparently EVERYONE calls Nagato first thing when there's a crisis.
"This is Nagato Yuki. Who is currently inhabiting my body?"
...Nagato herself included. That's Koizumi's voice, though more monotone than usual, as was to be expected.
So, Koizumi is in Asahina-san's body, Asahina-san is in my body, I'm in Nagato's body, and Nagato is in Koizumi's body. All bodies and minds are accounted for.
I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding. Seems Haruhi got left out of this, thank God. Whom I still don't buy is her.
Well, this is a fine mess. I might as well just put us all on conference call, given how this is going thus far.
I unconsciously combine the three calls in to one, which is weird because I don't recall knowing how to do that, especially on a landline phone. What the...?
Koizumi's words filtered through Asahina-san's voice reach my ear before I can ponder it any longer.
"So, we've all switched bodies. I'm sure we've all gathered by now that this is almost certainly Suzumiya-san's doing."
No, really? "So, do you believe me now Koizumi? Ready to help me figure out why she's doing all this yet?"
I can practically hear the amused smile. "I never imagined Nagato-san could sound quite so sarcastic. However, I will admit that perhaps something larger is going on that we are unaware of, as I admittedly cannot connect this to anything that has happened prior."
Finally. Glad to know I'm not in this by myself.
"Alright, so what do we plan to do about it?" I ask, before deciding to rephrase the question. "Actually, what do we plan to do about this, since I find it rather more pressing than the big picture right now?"
"Frankly, I think we should count ourselves lucky that Suzumiya-san does not seem to have been swapped like the rest of us. I imagine we'd have a much harder time hiding this if so, wouldn't you?" Ugh. Koizumi's semi-smarminess and Asahina-san's voice do NOT go together.
Wait, are you actually suggesting we can hide this from her? I mean, we could all stay home and pretend we're sick, but that might just lead to Haruhi knocking at our doors, best case to check in on us and try to help (possible), worst case to see if we're lying and just faking it (far TOO possible).
"I-I'm not sure how well I can imitate Kyon..." I hear Asahina-me say from her end.
"I have to agree with Asahina-san." I concur, unconsciously nodding my assent. "I'm not certain about your acting skills Koizumi, but I don't think I have the talent to pretend to be Nagato for who knows how long. And how would that even fix this mess?"
"On the contrary, I think you could pull off Nagato's mannerisms quite easily. And if the 'pattern' holds true, then Suzumiya-san should lose interest in whatever stray desire caused this quite soon, don't you think?"
"No." Koizumi's voice interrupts... Koizumi from the other end of the line. "The other phenomena were eliminated directly."
"Nagato's right." I follow up. "The demons and ghost didn't go away because Haruhi lost interest, but because we got rid of them."
"Hmm. A valid point. But it is likely the best we can hope for at the moment."
That's a really defeatist attitude Koizumi. And, come to think of it...
"Question. Why are all of us awake right now?" I ask. "It seems a bit conspicuous that we would all wake up at three in the morning and discover this simultaneously."
There's a pause before he- she?- responds. "...hmm. Another good point. Perhaps it was desired that we talk to each other about this ahead of time."
"Erm... but, couldn't it have been the transfer of consciousness that woke us up...?" Asahina-san asks.
"That is also possible, assuming that's even how this works." Koizumi admits. "It seems quite impossible for us to truly know right now. Perhaps we should discuss this more at length tomorrow, when we are all less exhausted."
As mentally tired as I'm sure we all feel, we really, imminently need some sort of plan. One other than "we all pretend to be each other and fail miserably at it" like some agonizingly cheesy sitcom.
"I'm open to suggestions, Kyon, Asahina-san, Nagato-san. Feel free to share if you have any."
Unfortunately, I don't. My solution would be "fix this tonight, before it becomes an even bigger issue", but that doesn't appear to be on the table, since that's up to Haruhi's whims.
...hey, wait, no it's not! I already thought about this!
"Here's one. I'm in Nagato's body right now, right?" I lead in confidently. "And that means I have her powers. So, if I can figure out how-"
"It is highly unlikely you would be able to override changes directly wrought on our personal data by Haruhi Suzumiya." Nagato cuts in. "It is equally unlikely that The Integrated Data Thought Entity would approve of any such attempt, or that you would be able to do so immediately with no prior experience in data manipulation."
...Well there goes the wind from my sails. I didn't even get to finish what I was saying before she shot me down.
"I suppose that settles that then. We'll meet tomorrow after club to discuss this and try to find a solution." Koizumi finishes, sounding annoyingly pleased. Just what is there to be pleased about right now, hmm?
"O... oh. Okay then, um... I'll see you all tomorrow then..."
I'm just about ready to interject again when all three lines hang up near simultaneously, Nagato apparently agreeing by omission. I'm left with no choice but to sigh and hang up the phone, as thoughts about the impending disaster of tomorrow spring to mind.
There is no way this is going to work. I feel like I can know for a fact that there is zero chance Koizumi can pull off Asahina-san's mannerisms, because even a talented actor would have difficulty mimicking the sheer purity and innocence of her character. Even considering Asahina-san trying to act like me is just... I don't know, I can't even visualize it. Nagato isn't talkative enough to get by as Koizumi, though she probably still has it easiest. And as for me...
If Haruhi even so much as questions us tomorrow, we may as well just come right out and say it. We'd at least save ourselves the stress, and the indignity of acting like idiots. Though, comes to think of it, if Haruhi DID find out about this, she probably wouldn't end up losing interest in it, which would mean... we might end up stuck like this permanently.
A cold dread grabs me at that. Now there's a scary thought. Tomorrow's little act will have more on the line than I realized. Damn you Koizumi, there had to be some better option than this!
I walk back towards Nagato's bedroom, not really sure if I should try to go back to sleep right now or not. Actually, CAN I even sleep? I have no idea if Nagato is even capable of it. At the very least she's pretended to do so before, whenever the Brigade stayed overnight somewhere, so... I guess I can try?
...no, hold on a moment. Nagato doesn't usually USE her bedroom, does she? So why the heck did I wake up in a futon? Is that something else Haruhi did, or is it just something about Nagato I didn't know?
And another thing- how does the Integrated Data Thought Entity factor into this? It usually has some sort of ever present connection to Nagato, so did that connection go with her? Or am I the one connected to it now? Does it know everything I know now if so? I mean it probably already knew everything I could possibly even hope to know, but... ergh, I have no idea. This is pointless to speculate on when I have no way of getting any answers.
Bereft of any better ideas, I lay myself back in the sheets and gaze up at the ceiling, suddenly a lot less tired than I was not so long ago. Too many questions whirling around in my... er, soul? In Nagato's brain? Can I really consider it my brain if, physically, this is Nagato's-
...you know what, just forget it.
AN: A bit short, but that's what happens when you divide chapters by days.
According to book 10, Nagato DOES own pajamas. However, I'm working under the assumption that she only wore those due to being "sick", unless someone has proof that she wears them on a nightly basis. Stupid thing to worry about, but tell me if I'm wrong all the same.
I'm not usually a huge fan of body swaps (though I very much am one of gender benders), but I saw this idea in a Haruhi fic a long, long while ago, and was saddened that it was only one chapter long. I'll try to see if I can put it to any better use here.
Review? Come on, do it for Naga-Kyon! No, not Kyon as a snake person, Kyon as... look, you get the idea.