Holy expostion, Batman! This chapter was a pain in my keister to write as I tried to explain just about everything in the plot up to this point, foreshadow some goings-on and still throw in some bit fan-service/comedy and still keep it all in character. I would greatly like to hear from you if there's anything I need to explain better, put a little simpler, make less OOC, or fix some typographical errors.
I AM actually rather happy with the pace, however, and am surprised I've managed to put out a whole new chapter in a matter of days. I'll try to keep up the pace.
As always, I don't own the characters, series, or a soul (sold it to the devil years ago)
I awoke with a strange feeling covering my face for the second time in a day, but this time it was a cold and wet feeling. I slowly sat up in my bed and allowed my vision to come into focus to find a familiar face before my own.
"Ha... Haru—GEH." A surge of pain shot through the back of my skull, causing me to wince in pain. When it finally settled down, I got a good look at my caretaker. I was in the nurse's office, alone with Haruki who sat at my side with a wet washcloth in his hand. His face showed a strange mixture of relief and rage. Actually, it was mostly anger.
"Honestly, Kyonko, what is the matter with you? I greet you as a goof commander should, and in response, you faint on the spot. What kind of behavior is that for a member of my SOS Brigade?!" He sighed in irritation before pointing his finger right in my face. Now who's being irritating? "Your commander demands an explanation, or you'll face the death penalty!"
I sighed deeply. The 'death penalty,' huh? That confirms it. She might be in a new body, and she might not remember being a girl, but this was definitely the Haruhi I knew, no doubt about it.
"Hey, what're you smiling about?" he asked putting his face right in mine, probably trying to see into my mind. Hey, wait, was I smiling? I was. But why? "You better not be hiding something!"
I shook my head nervously. Shit. What can I say? 'Last time I saw you, you were a girl?' Even I don't know why I was acting so weird. But I need to think of an excuse. "Well, uh, that is... Oh, yeah! I kinda... missed breakfast this morning. It's, uh... part of... a new diet. And... I guess I couldn't go without food."
"Are you stupid?!" Haruki got on his feet and seemed angrier than ever. "What were you thinking?! You need to eat breakfast."
While it had been a lie, the fact that Haruki seemed so concerned with my health gave me a warm feeling in my chest. Maybe he'd come over and feed me himself. Wait, why am I saying that as if... Dammit! Curse these new female hormones!
"If you don't eat, you'll never get more womanly curves!" he said with a satisfied nod.
"Listen up, Kyonko, for I will only say this once: Roughly 50% of a breast is made up of adipose tissue, more commonly called fatty tissue! Not only that, but the hips, thighs, and buttocks are also given extra fatty tissue as directed by increases in estrogen! If you don't begin each and every day by having a meal with a high fat content, such as eggs, vegetable oils, and fish, how can you ever expect to become a real woman, instead of an ironing board with legs?!"
My womanhood had just been insulted. All that morning I could think of nothing but ways to restore my manhood, but to have it insulted like that... It was unforgivable! I wasn't going to sit back and take another word of this insane biology lesson!
"Now hold it right there!" I quickly vaulted from the bed and reached back to deliver a thunderous slap across his face that echoed through the room. "Now you listen to me! Okay, so I'm as flat as a board! I don't have womanly curves, but so what?! I... I..." Truth be told, I'm not even really sure why I was so upset. It was hardly the first time Haruhi had lectured me. "I'm still me, and if that's not good enough for you... then... Well, who cares what you think, anyway?!"
Oh boy. I'd never spoken to Haruhi that way, and as I realized what I did and braced for his oncoming rage... he smiled. Eh?
"Heh. Ha ha... Ho hahahahahahahaha!" His smile quickly turned into a fit of laughter. Okay. I was confused. What the hell was so funny?"
"Now that is the Kyonko I know!" he said with a radiant smile that outshone the sun. "Koizumi came to talk to you shortly after you passed out and told me what happened." I gritted my teeth and blushed in defeat. Koizumi, you jerk, what did you tell this moron?
The curtain around the bed slid open and in stepped that jerk, now sporting a nurses cap on her head and the same stupid smile. "I'm sorry, Kyonko, if I'd known you were prone to anemic spells during that time of the month I never would have made you come with me without at least offering to take you to breakfast myself."
Haruki nodded in agreement. "It's all right, Koizumi. Kyonko should have notified us of any and all medical conditions in her paperwork when she joined the brigade. You couldn't have known." Haruki's smile turned from beaming as he looked at Koizumi and became condescending as he looked at me. "And I figured, if anemia is a lack of blood, I figured, what gets the blood pumping better than a little anger? I'd say with that outburst she's cured!"
My face was redder than I thought humanly possible. If I wasn't anemic before, I was going to be with all that blood rushing to my cheeks. First of all, what paperwork? I never signed up for the SOS Brigade. No one did! It was more akin to a kidnapping than an official agreement! Secondly, that's why you insulted my chest? Ugh. And I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. Not to mention that despite your A+ grades in biology you don't realize an adrenaline rush would only make anemia worse? Whatever. I lost the will to argue. And I'm not going through nor willing to even think about that time of the month.
Haruki then stood up and headed for the door. "Well, since you seem to be better, I'll see you back at class. And you better not even think of skipping our brigade meeting this afternoon! I've got big plans for Golden Week, and there won't be any weaseling out of them!" I sighed. Fine, whatever. I'll need to find a way to convince you to turn us all back to normal anyway, so it's not like I have a choice.
Before leaving me to my angry thoughts, however, Haruki stuck his head back in the room. "Oh, by the way, it's been a long time since I saw you in a ponytail. It looks good on you."
Erk. That was a cheap shot. It would seem my cheeks are permanently set to red as the anger drained from me and was quickly replaced by embarrassment and nervousness. My heart began to race once more. "Why...?" Why did he continually make me feel this way? Haruhi and I were friends. I can be reluctant to admit it, but we were. I could even say close friends but... "Why does he always make me feel this way when we talk?" I hugged my knees tightly and hid my face from Koizumi, who was still watching.
"Well, it would seem this has gotten even more complicated..." she whispered.
I decided to eat the lunch Koizumi had delivered for me, seeing as I'd left home without mine, in the club room. I tried to eat it in the classroom with Taniguchi and Kunikida, but, as it turns out, female Taniguchi's problems finding a boyfriend were equally as irritating to listen to as male Taniguichi's girlfriend problems.
As I opened the clubroom door, I prepared for the worst. I already knew what to expect, and it seemed that I was correct. The room looked virtually identical, except for one thing.
In the corner of the room sat a boy on a metal chair. He seemed almost as tall as Haruki. Maybe even taller. It was hard to tell with him sitting down, but he would have easily dwarfed my now puny body. However, unlike the well-defined and fit Haruki, this boy was more slender. At the tip of his long arms was a book, the title of which I couldn't even determine the language of. His short, purple hair was well-groomed, as was his overall appearance. Square-rimmed glasses sat before his deep-yellow eyes that could convey a world of ideas on an otherwise expressionless face. Nagato Yuki (or rather, Yuuki, as I later learned, was its new spelling).
"N-Nagato, is that you?" I asked sheepishly. There really was no use in asking. There was no one else in this world who could look so utterly perfect a poker face as Nagato. Really, I just wanted something to start a conversation and to assure myself that Nagato was still herself... himself... dammit, this is still hard to get used to.
Without so much as blinking or turning his head in the least towards me, Nagato nodded his head so slightly that you would never have seen it lest you were looking for it. That's comforting. If even Nagato's personality were changed, what hope did I have in resisting my new feminine compulsions?
"So... it would seem we've all... switched genders?" I said hesitatingly. I sincerely hoped that Nagato had at least noticed though it wouldn't be too surprising if she hadn't.
"Indeed." His voice was... deep. Deep but soft. At least his inability to answer most questions in more than a single word was the same as well.
"Do you... do you know why it happened?" Nagato nodded, and then there was an awkward silence. Ah, yes. I was so nervous I almost forgot the need to be very specific when talking to Nagato. "Could you please explain it to me?"
Clap. Nagato shut his book and sat it on a nearby table before turning to me. "Some inaccuracy is inevitable in verbal communicating and some concepts are beyond the intellectual understanding of humanity in the present era." In other words, it was going to be complicated.
"Don't worry about that." I shrugged my shoulders. "I don't need to know the technical details. I just want to know the basics of what happened."
"...I see." Nagato paused for a moment, as if calculating what constituted as 'basic' in his mind. Maybe he was. "At midnight last night, Suzumiya Haruhi released a burst of data that contained the spatial coordinates of an alternate universe. This particular universe developed virtually identical to the universe that you are familiar with except that the genetic coding of a specific age group of humans from ten through twenty within a single city was altered, causing their bodies to develop into the gender opposite of the one that you are familiar with. The two universes began to move towards each other and collide."
My jaw hung open. Nagato's ability to go from one or two word responses to long-winded monologues also seems to be intact. "S-So, two... worlds colliding. That's... a bad thing?" To be honest, I knew I was stating the obvious, but when you're dealing with Haruhi, the obvious isn't always correct.
Nagato pushed his glasses up his nose. Wait, why did he have glasses now? "This type of event has never occurred in any instance known to the Integrated Data Sentient Entity. The ramifications of two parallel universes moving together has never been studied. So far, the only known side effect was the transference of minds from one universe to the other. Specifically, only Suzumiya Haruhi and Suzumiya Haruki, and those close to them were transferred, as they are the focal points of the movement. The closer to the two of them a person was, the more complete the transfer."
"I... I see." Actually, I didn't get it at all. How do parallel universes somehow collide? And why would they? And what do you mean a 'more complete' transfer? Are there people out there with half a mind? Well, then again, Koizumi did say some of the espers in the Organization had two sets of memories. Maybe they are stuck between worlds. Maybe. Hey, I'm just a normal guy. Girl. Person. I shouldn't have to contemplate the existence of parallel universes, let alone the consequences when they crash into each other like a couple of rams butting heads.
"...Do not worry." Nagato spoke in a calming tone. Well, it wasn't really calming so much as I wanted to hear it as such. "The Integrated Data Sentient Entities of both worlds as well as all Sentient Humanoid Interfaces have erected a data barrier that will halt any further collision."
"...Ah. I see. So, we're going to be okay?" I asked expectantly. Come on, Nagato. Lie to me if you have to.
"...Yes. The Integrated Data Sentient Entity has appointed me and my alternate counterpart in our original world as overseers of this."
"...We are to watch over you and your alternate counterpart. I will render any assistance you require upon request. In the event of any unforeseen catastrophic events, I will also act as your shield."
"Shield? Me? But why?"
Nagato paused. It felt like I had just given an incorrect answer in class. But instead of talking down to me, he simply stated in the same flat voice, "Because you are the only one who can set the world in order."
There it is again. I'm the 'only one' who can fix the world. But I suppose it's true. I, more than anyone, have more sway over Haruhi than anyone else in the world. Even if she's stuck in a guy's body, she's still Haruhi, and I still have my Ace in the Hole: John Smith. Wait, John Smith is a guy. So in this world, who did Haruki meet? Jane Doe? Whatever. That's a desperation move, anyway. In the meantime, all I have to do is convince Haruki to somehow return the world to normal. Which means I need to find out why all of this happened in the first place. Easy as can be, right?
...Ugh. Wrong. Haruhi's thought pattern was hard enough to decipher on a good day. Trying to understand her motivations in a new world with a new body would be like trying to solve the ancient Greek Labyrinth blindfolded.
"You will be fine." Nagato's voice once more interrupted my mind as it wandered down into the depths of despair. "I trust that you will find the answer."
For the first time all day, a smile creased my lips. And I could almost swear I saw a blush creep to Nagato's face when he saw it. Almost. Though it could just have been wishful thinking. In either case, he picked up his book and began to read once more as if nothing had happened.
I sat down and opened my lunch. I needed to build up my strength. Nagato was right. I can do this. Nobody else could. The thought of some girl, an alternate version of me running around in my world with my body was too disturbing to stomach. So no matter what, I was going to bring things back to normal.
Or at least as normal as can be when you're dealing with Suzumiya Haruhi.
End Chapter 3
So, how was that? Anything confusing? This was mostly exposition, so it's important that it's readable and intelligible. But I hope most of all that it was entertaining. Again, please send me any critiques you have, and thanks so much for the positive reviews.