Under Review

A fanfiction of Suzumiya Haruhi

The characters depicted herein are solely the creation of Nagaru Tanigawa; I'm just borrowing the keys to the car for a while.

The last couple of weeks have been kind of crappy. With the new year starting, I've been trying to find new recruits for the Brigade, but none of the new students have been interesting at all! Not just that, but I haven't been able to dig up any dirt on the student council since then, either - the president's been laying low since his ignominious defeat. It's not like we'd do any less! But still, it means things have been so boring since then.

I was expecting to get the Brigade to do something over Golden Week, but Kyon's mom insisted that he had to go take his little sister to visit family way out in the country - some kind of family tradition or something. Kyon claims he tried to talk her out of it, but knowing him that probably just means asking if he's got to take his sister this year and sighing when his mom says yes - he's not very good at saying no to people. Then again, neither is the rest of the Brigade; I can't even think of a time when anyone but Kyon's tried to change my mind about anything!

I want to shake things up somehow. Since I couldn't get any new recruits, and there's no suspicious activity going on with the student council, though, I'm going to need to come up with some other way to spice things up a little.

Conquering another club? Hmmm... nah, I've already got the computer club in my pocket, and I'm not sure any of the other clubs would be any use. The supernatural research society is probably our closest competition, but they're boring; they're not looking out for local stuff at all. The rest of the clubs are even worse - the sports clubs would only be good for forced labor, and I've got Kyon for that already; if I got someone to replace him he'd just get even more lazy.

Searching the city on weekends... well, we can stick to that, but it's usually more for hanging out than actually finding anything interesting. Good way to pass the time, but it's not really exciting, either.

Bleh, nothing outside the brigade sounds even remotely interesting. What about inside, though?

I haven't had any good costume ideas for Mikuru in a while... but then she's starting to get a lot busier, too, with all of her third year studies. Maybe I could dress up more myself...? Eh, it's an idea, but most of the costumes are either Mikuru's size or way too hot to wear with summer coming up, and I can't really think of anything awesome enough to go out and get. Costumes for the guys are out, too - about all they could do is cosplay and most of that's just way too expensive to be worth it.

Kyon's over there playing shogi with Koizumi - who's losing miserably as usual. Hmm, Kyon's pretty good at those - I don't pay attention to all of their games since I've usually got better things to do, but I don't think I've ever seen Koizumi winagainst him.

Maybe we could do a boardgame tournament? I could charge an entry fee, then offer up a prize - then enter Kyon in and end up keeping everything for the Brigade! And that'd give us more money for costumes! This is perfect!

Just as I start to stand up, ready to announce the plan, Koizumi stretches and Kyon covers up a gigantic yawn. That... would be the part I didn't think about, watching board games is pretty boring - we should only be doing that kind of stuff when there's nothing else to do. Koizumi and Kyon have both turned to look at me, since I'm half out of my chair, but I just shake my head and sit back down.

It sucks! No one else is going to come up with any ideas if I don't; everyone's been keeping quiet around me lately so I doubt I'd even get any suggestions if I asked for them directly. Although, if I'm really being honest I'll admit that... I may have been a bit on the touchy side lately.

Maybe I should just, I don't know... mix things up for a while? With Mikuru getting busier, maybe I should have Yuki try being the mascot for a while. Still the problem of costume sizes there, but she did look kind of cool in that witch's costume in the movie last year, and stuff like that should be pretty easy to put together.

The only problem I can see with that is Koizumi and Kyon. Koizumi's second-in-command, after all; not that he really does anything with it that I've seen. I'll admit that the idea of making Kyon second - at least for a while - is kind of tempting. I wonder if he'd actually do anything with it; maybe I could make him organize a couple of events just to see what he comes up with.

The only downside I can see - even if it's not a very big one - is that it'll look funny if I just give the second-in-command spot to Kyon. He's pretty lazy, after all, and it's not like Koizumi's done a bad job or anything; he just hasn't done anything at all, really. It'd be good if I could come up with some excuse why Kyon gets to try out the second-in-command spot.

Actually, that's an idea. It's been about a year since the Brigade got started - maybe I should review everyone's progress and use that as the excuse for all of the rearrangement? It'll be a good way to record all we've gotten done this year, too; I can use it to organize a record of the Brigade's activities, then we can use that for recruitment - this is perfect! I'll get it started during the club meeting tomorrow.

"All right, heads up everyone!" I slam my hands down on the desk to get everyone's attention. Kyon's the last one in - as usual - with Koizumi prodding him along, and since they've just made it in Mikuru's still in the middle of taking tea over to them.

"I've decided that since the Brigade's first anniversary is coming up, it's time for performance reviews! Exams are too much trouble, so I'll be reviewing everyone's activities for the last year to determine your standing in the Brigade!" Kyon, as expected, heaves a sigh at this, but doesn't say anything.

Koizumi - well, Koizumi keeps that same old smile on his face and nods. It's almost creepy how he never seems to do anything but smile, at least whenever I've seen him. Yuki just glances up from her book, and Mikuru - also as expected - just looks like a deer caught in the headlights.

"I'll be busy with this for a while, so the brigade is dismissed! I'll have to see about tomorrow, since I don't know how long this will take," I say, nodding in confirmation.

With the announcement out of the way, I grab one of the laptops and wait by the door for everyone to leave so I can lock up. Kyon just shakes his head as he walks past. "I already know I'll end up last," he says with a sigh. "I can't remember the last time anyone but me actually got a penalty for anything."

"Maybe if you'd actually put some effort in you wouldn't get so many!" I retort, but something pings at the back of my head at that. Is that really right? No one else has gotten any penalties this whole year?

I can't help but frown a little as I lock up the clubroom and head down to the station to go home. I'll... admit, I do tend to be harder on Kyon more than the others, but then he's the only one that pushes back when I do anything to him, either. It makes him easy to penalize for insubordination, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't actually appreciate that once in a while - it kind of stops being fun if I can get everything I want without trying.

Kyon does have something of a point, though. I'm not sure it's right that he's the only one to have earned any penalties this year, but it's definitely true that he'll have way more than anyone else does - which isn't going to look good if I give him the second-in-command position after that. Of course I am the Brigade's chief, so it's not like anyone's going to argue with me (except for him) but I should at least TRY to make this look somewhat fair. Hard work should be rewarded and poor behavior should be punished - no one wants to see their work get ignored, after all.

I pass Koizumi and Kyon as I head down the hill to the station; as usual, Koizumi's smiling and talking at length to Kyon about some abstract concept. Kyon, as always, looks irritated when Koizumi starts talking to him like that; I've overheard them once or twice before, but as far as I can tell it's just that Koizumi likes to ramble on about weird stuff from time to time and Kyon's the lucky recipient. I can kind of understand why Kyon would be irritated, though; if Koizumi tried to start up some weird talk like that with me I wouldn't stand still for it.

Here's the station, at last. Time to head home - I can start on the reviews after I get some dinner. I'll have to dig out all our photos from this year tomorrow; I don't want to haul them all home, though, so I can do that in the clubroom tomorrow. Now, if I can just get everything to work out the way I want it to... this year should get going a lot better than last year did!

Mom's left a note that she's out shopping and won't be home until late; since I've got the house to myself, I decide to put on some music and make dinner before I get started on the reviews. Probably better this way anyway, given Mom's cooking...

Dinner and homework are both defeated quickly, then it's time to get started. After flipping the laptop open, I start up files for the four Brigade members - and after a minute, one for myself as well; I'm not perfect, and trying to find the areas where I need to improve is probably a good idea.

I decide to start with the low-hanging fruit. Kyon was definitely on the mark about the penalties; for mystery searches, it's easier to try to remember times when he hasn't gotten a penalty for being late or slacking off. Only one comes to mind - the one time it ended up just being the two of us on a search, right after that really weird, vivid dream almost a year ago. I made him pay for our food anyway of course - what good is having minions if you can't make them take care of that kind of stuff? - but that's the only search we've been on where it was just me and him in a group looking for things. It's actually kind of frustrating; I'd like it if we could have spent more time doing that kind of thing, since it's somehow just that much more interesting when it's me and him...

I put the brakes on that train of thought. Yes, it's fun to imagine hanging out with Kyon more often, but it's not getting this done any faster either. I might as well give him some credit for that time, though, since he does get so many penalties in general, so I add it to his file. Since I'm still technically going through penalties, though, I spend a few minutes trying to remember if anyone else actually has earned any penalties.

The only thing I can come up with still involves Kyon - namely, that 'date' between Mikuru and Kyon that the neighbor kid that I tutor told me about. I have to admit, though, that even though they earned a penalty for not telling me about their little 'outing', I should at least give them some credit for saving the kid's life. Mikuru and Kyon... I have to admit Mikuru can't be beat when it comes to the moe charms, but Kyon should be smart enough to see through that!

...dammit, I keep getting sidetracked on Kyon! That's it, no more focusing on Kyon for now, I'll work on reviewing the others first and come back to him.

Might as well start with Mikuru, since I just pulled up her file for that thing with my neighbor.

I'll give her credit for doing the right thing to save his life, but there's a definite penalty for going to spend time with Kyon behind my back - unsanctioned Brigade activities, that'll work! What else, though... in general, she gets a bonus for always having such a high moe factor, and she's always been willing to try out costumes - that's an added plus! She's always got tea in the clubroom, too, and I have to admit she may be even better than me at making it, so points there as well.

On the down side... well, while I appreciate the fact that she's willing to go along with what I do, it'd be nice if she showed some initiative to do things on her own too; about the only things she does by herself are getting dressed up for the brigade meetings and making tea for everyone, and I started her on doing both of those. Even if she doesn't really branch out much from there - and with her being in third year this year she might not have the time - she could maybe try coming up with some costume ideas on her own.

I think that'll do for Mikuru for general impressions, next is... hmm, let's go with Yuki next.

I'm... not even sure what to put down here - technically she's contributed the room, since it does technically belong to the Literature Club still, but aside from that I don't even know what to put down for her - she's always there, she's always got a book, and she almost never says anything.

She seems to be really good at just about everything she tries, except maybe acting; she was amazing on the guitar when we were filling in for the missing ENOZ members at the cultural festival. She should probably get a credit for contributing in facing off against the student council, too, since we had to do the anthology to keep the room; I take a minute to give everyone a credit for that, since everyone contributed a story.

I'm going to have to give her the same criticism as Mikuru, though; she never does anything on her own initiative. She did come in costume to the cultural festival, but it was only that one time - even Mikuru's more enthusiastic about it than that! Mikuru at least picked up on stuff I sugg... well, made her do, but she stuck with it afterwards anyway. Yuki's so much a part of the scenery that I'd probably notice her more if she was missing.

She seems pretty close to Kyon, too - I remember she said she had family issues that she felt like she could only talk about with him - but I guess I can't really fault her for that too much; Yuki seems like the kind of person that doesn't make friends too easily, so it's at least good that she has someone she feels like she can talk to. I suppose Kyon should get some credit for that as well; even if I'd like it better if Yuki trusted me with stuff like that, at least Kyon's looking out for his fellow Brigade members.

For Koizumi... hmm. Where do I even start on this one...

Well, the easiest impression is that he's a massive fake. Definitely had the mysterious transfer student thing down, but he's so plastic and shallow that I'm half convinced he's either hiding something massive or he's completely obsessed with his image and tries way too hard to keep it up. It's easiest just to ignore him; if he did have a secret, it'd probably just turn out that he's some kind of massive otaku or something and doesn't want to get busted for it. Either way, though, it's annoying and worth a demerit - I'd like to think that everyone in the Brigade should be able to be honest with each other.

He's also more of a yes-man than even Mikuru is - while she never really says 'no' outside of some basic token protests, I've never heard Koizumi offer even that much. He -has- come up with ideas before, which is better than Mikuru and Yuki, but half the time it's stuff I'd been thinking about anyway, so it's hard to give him much credit for that when all he really did was beat me to saying it. And for the one really good idea he did have, the island mystery, all he did was follow my directions when he came up with the one for winter vacation. And it wasn't much better than a kind of lame story that time, too! He gets credit for creativity for the original one, but points off for the second one; it was just way too lazy.

And finally, Kyon. Where to begin...

Well, I guess I already have. On the negative side, he's got no motivation and he's lazy; that's where all the mystery search penalties have come from. Kind of insubordinate, too - he likes to either snark about or argue with my ideas. If I'm going to be perfectly honest, though, that might actually be better than what the others do; Mikuru just quietly going along and Koizumi agreeing almost immediately to whatever I suggest. I guess I won't count off for that, and it kind of offsets the lack of initiative - it at least shows that he's thinking for himself, even if he doesn't always agree with me.

And I guess he did show some initiative, too; he was the one that came up with the idea and put up the poster for the SOS Brigade to take care of students' issues, which got us the case with Sakanaka and J.J. - and I guess the first case with the computer society's president, although that one never really went anywhere.

As I'm noting this all down, I notice the previous note about the one city search he made; on thinking about it, he's probably got better attendance than any of the other club members. I know I penalized him for attendance when he was in that coma in December, but honestly I suspended all the brigade's activities during that period anyway so we could all keep an eye on him. It gives him something extra on the positive side to outweigh the negatives he's picked up.

On the positive side, he's got the stuff I added for him about initiative, but he's also got the note I added from Yuki - watching out for other Brigade members. I do have to admit that's probably one of his strongest points; not just Yuki, but he also watches out for Mikuru, too. Maybe more than is really appropriate between two Brigade members! I'm about to mark him down for that, but... really, when I think about it, it's probably better that he's watching out for her than not. It's not like they've actually done anything inappropriate; there was the 'date' a few months ago, but neither of them's really given any sign that they're actually dating, and it's not like I've forbidden any other Brigade members from meeting and doing things outside of official activities.

After thinking about it for a minute, I decide not to count it against Mikuru, either; I'd be a bit of a hypocrite if I let Kyon off the hook for it and penalized Mikuru, even if I suspect it was her idea to begin with. She could probably talk Kyon into carrying her all the way to Tokyo!

I consider adding some general impressions on my own sheet, but I suppose that wouldn't really be fair, which is the whole point of doing these reviews in the first place. If I come across anything that's particularly important while going through our activities from this year I can note it down, I suppose. Maybe after I finish up the others I can ask them for their impressions of me, too.

As I consider starting to review the Brigade's activities in the last year, I end up absently staring at Kyon's file - where I see the note about attendance for Kyon. As I think about that search a bit more, I find myself smirking; that was probably the most fun I've had on a mystery search, even if he did try the dumbest prank during it - claiming that I already had time travelers, aliens, and espers in the Brigade.

Oh, why the hell not? With a grin, I put down the descriptions next to the other Brigade members' names on their files.




KYON - ?


Since I still need to go over all the events to catalogue all the unusual stuff we did in the past year anyway, it'll make a fun thought exercise as I go - it'll be funny to try to imagine these kinds of people doing all the stuff we did, since I'm sure they'd be doing way more interesting things anyway.

Just as I'm about to get started, I glance at the laptop's clock; it's later than I thought. I should probably save this for tomorrow after school. I can work in the clubroom and go through all the photo albums to refresh my memory.

I'm feeling good about these reviews - I'm sure I'll build up a good picture of all the Brigade members, which should be useful for all kinds of stuff - movie casting, special projects, you name it. I'm definitely glad I had this idea!