In Your Dreams

Chapter One: Among the Zoogs

A Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu fanfiction

Co-authored by Halbarad and Brian Randall

Disclaimer: No disrespect is intended with the posting of this story. Situations and characters are property of Nagaru Tanigawa, and are used here without permission. His stuff; we're just borrowing it for a wee bit.

Note: Takes place after novel eight and ignores novels nine through eleven. Welcome to a divergent AU!

"...and the sky changed from orange to green." Sakanaka looks over at me and giggles. "Then I climbed on J.J.'s back - he was as big as an elephant! - and started racing the train. That's about the point where I woke up."

It's the end of the lunch break, and today I'm taking some time to catch up with Sakanaka. It's been a while since we took care of J.J.'s moodiness, and while I keep meaning to go over and visit, other stuff just keeps coming up and I forget about it. I try to check in with Sakanaka herself every so often, though, and for today she's talking about a dream she had last night.

"It's kind of cool, though - I've had dreams about riding J.J. before, and they're usually a lot of fun. Do you have any dreams like that?" She gives me a quizzical look.

"Not in the same way," I reply. "Most of the time I don't remember my dreams, but there are a few times I have. The one I remember most is usually something like glowing blue giants wrecking buildings."

Sakanaka makes a face in reply to that. "Sounds like a nightmare to me," she opines.

"Nah, not really. Honestly, they tend to happen when I'm upset about something, and it's actually kind of fun to watch them trashing everything." I give her a grin at that. "Kind of like I get to smash the world and start over, you know?"

She wraps up her bento as we finish up. "But what about people getting hurt, or things like that? Even if it is just a dream, it'd still be awful to have to watch that kind of thing."

"There's never any other people in the dream," I answer. "At least that I can-"

I catch myself as that dream comes to mind, and I can feel my face color a bit as the memory comes back. Not that I try to remember this a lot! ...but it's definitely something that sticks in my mind. "Okay, I have seen other people in them, but it's really rare and no one's ever gotten hurt."

"Well, that's a bit better, then," Sakanaka says, smiling a bit as we head towards the stairwell leading off the roof. "If that's the way it is, I could see it being fun, if you're looking forward to getting to make the world the way you want it to be. That's the fun part of dreams, at least to me - getting to see all the totally impossible things that can't happen in the real world.

"Oh- not that they can't happen at all!" She catches herself, blushing a little. "I know that's the kind of thing you're looking for in your club, I just meant-"

I wave it off as we enter the classroom again. "I know what you mean," I reply. "I'm still sure I can find a lot of interesting and strange things in the real world, but there's just way more that's possible in a dream. Things like aliens or time travelers or espers could still be out there for real, but I don't really think I'll ever find stuff like, say, pink dragons or unicorns in real life."

Kyon's two buddies have already headed back to their seats, and he gives me an odd look as he catches the end of what I'm saying. Sakanaka just giggles, nodding in agreement as she takes her seat.

"What are you looking at?" I demand, giving Kyon a scowl as I sit down myself.

He just shakes his head. "Nothing, just thought I heard something particularly strange there."

I just snort in reply, putting my head down on my desk as the first teacher for the afternoon comes in. At least I've got the teachers' assignment patterns worked out for now, so maybe I can get some 'dreaming time' in before the Brigade meeting after school.

Or at least that was the plan - which failed miserably, thanks to Kyon... although I should probably be thankful to him for that. While I had the regular assignments right, what I forgot to take into account was that Golden Week is coming up next week, and the teachers are handing out extra homework to be done over the holiday. Which reminds me, I haven't made any plans for the time off yet myself...

"All right, it's time to get serious about finding something unusual!" I slam my hand down on my desk, startling the rest of the Brigade - who, as usual, are reverting to their everyday, boring routine without me pushing them. Kyon and Koizumi just finished setting up the Othello board, Yuki is messing around with one of the club's laptops, and Mikuru is just starting to serve the tea when I make my announcement.

"Golden Week is coming up next week, and with that much time to search and set traps, we have to be able to find something - maybe a secret agent deep undercover, or a lost youkai wandering the back alleys!" I fix my gaze on each of the Brigade members in turn to gauge reactions, but nothing is any different than usual... figures.

Kyon shakes his head. "Even if we did find or catch something like that, what would we do with it then? Where would we keep it?"

"Fine then - what do you suggest for the vacation, smart guy?" I snap back. "And don't tell me 'nothing'!"

He gives me back one of those long-suffering sighs that he's so good at - does he practice that at home or something? - before he replies. "Since we've got a full week off, what about a trip somewhere? I doubt we'd be able to go far since it's only a week, but..."

I consider it for a minute. He does have something of a point; it's not like we've had much luck finding anything here, lately, so a change of venue seems like a good idea. There's only one real question, though.

"Okay, fine - then where do we go?"

That just gets me a shrug in response - typical.

"Then you're in charge of figuring that out!" I point at him to emphasize the point. "You'd better come up with something by tomorrow, since we don't have a lot of extra time to plan!"

"Of course," he returns dryly.

That guy... he has no imagination at all! At this rate, I want to see what he comes up with just to see how severe his penalty is going to end up being!

The next day after class, I make sure to haul Kyon with me to the club room. He's got an assignment, after all, and I'm not letting him slack off on this one! Of course, we end up making it there before anyone else does and we have to wait anyway, but better that than having to deal with excuses if he was late.

"All right, Kyon, you've had a whole day to come up with something - this better be good!" I announce, once the Brigade has finished assembling. I put my hands on my hips, looking at him expectantly as I wait to hear what he's planning.

The results of this... aren't encouraging. Kyon sighs a bit, not meeting my gaze as he responds. "Well... I don't have much," he hedges. "I don't know about everyone else, but for myself I don't have enough saved up to take a trip and stay overnight somewhere. I was thinking maybe we could take the train to Kyoto and check out the old castles and temples." He shrugs uncomfortably before continuing. "I know everyone's probably been before, but... I honestly couldn't come up with anything else that I'd actually be able to do."

I scowl at that - Kyoto's just so normal - but he does have a point about the money; I don't have a lot saved up either. "How lame," I grouse. "Still, though, if that's all you can afford, I suppose it can't be helped. We can check out the old ruins for ghosts or youkai, I guess." That does remind me of a weekend trip I'd thought of myself, though. "If we're just doing day trips, though, we could scout out Himeji Castle too - there's a pretty famous ghost story associated with it."

The others don't really show any unexpected reactions to the suggestion. Koizumi seems pleased enough with it (although he generally seems to be okay with most things; there isn't much I've seen that will get him upset.) Yuki just glances up from her book to look at Kyon for a moment, and Mikuru has that somewhat lost look she almost always has when something's actually happening. Kyon himself still seems a bit dissatisfied, though - what's the story there? It's not like I said it was the worst idea in the world or something!

"What's your problem?" I fire at him. "Yeah, the idea is kind of lame, but I do have to admit that it's at least something we can do on short notice."

He looks for a moment like he's about to reply to that, then just shakes his head. "Never mind, not important," he says, waving off my impatient stare.

"Not good enough!" I snap back. "If there's something on your mind, spit it out!"

He frowns as he replies. "Eh... Kyoto is easy, but I can't help but feel like it'll be boring. I don't know about you, but I've been there so many times on school trips that I could probably start giving the guided tour speeches myself."

I shake my head irritably. "Yeah, but it's still better than just hanging around here doing more regular mystery searches," I counter. "Why, did you have something better in mind?"

"Well, sort of," Kyon says, scratching the back of his head. "I was thinking going to Okinawa would make a great vacation."

"This isn't just about a vacation, Kyon!" I start in on him, but he holds up a hand to stop me before I can really get going. Koizumi gives him a curious look as well, but Mikuru and Yuki are both lost in their own worlds - one making tea, one buried in her book.

"I figured you'd say that, so I thought if we went we might be able to see about checking out the Yonaguni Monument." Kyon sits back with a slight smile. He seems to notice Koizumi looking slightly lost, then explains. "It's a weird underwater rock formation just off one of the Ryukyu Islands. Really mysterious - no one's sure if it's a natural formation or something man-made.

"I like the idea - who wouldn't enjoy a trip down there, after all - but it's more of a dream trip. I don't think any of us knows how to scuba dive, and at least for the monument, there's no other way to check it out directly." He shrugs at that.

That's actually... a pretty impressive idea, considering the source. I'm kind of surprised he even knew about the Yonaguni Monument - Kyon's usually really reliable, but creative isn't a term I'd normally apply to him.

Of course, this is Kyon we're talking about. "A dream trip, huh?" While I'll privately admit to being impressed, there's no way I'm telling him that - he'd just take it as an excuse to get even more complacent, and he's lazy enough as it is. I don't want to come down on it as lame, since it actually isn't, but I need something to use to spin my response... then I remember talking with Sakanaka at lunch yesterday, and I know just what to do. "Dreams are supposed to be full of wild and impossible things, and that's the best you can come up with?"

He gapes for a minute in surprise, then shuts his mouth and frowns a bit, which gives me enough time to continue. "I'm not saying it's a bad idea, but as a dream? Too tame, it's something we could actually do - even if it would be hard to arrange."

Kyon shakes his head a bit. "Most of the dreams I remember aren't exactly what I'd call good trips - they're usually at home or at school, just that things are weird in one way or another."

I frown a bit at that... but then, I have to admit that most of the dreams that I can remember are the same way. "I guess that's kind of true," I sigh. "It's not like you can pick and choose where you go when you're dreaming."

And then the last person I expected to contribute chips in. "A-actually, that's not entirely true," Mikuru ventures. "I've heard there's actually a technique to let you take control of your dreams - it's called lucid dreaming."

I raise an eyebrow at that. "I think I remember hearing about something like that before, too, but how did you know about it?"

Mikuru starts a bit at the question, looking embarrassed for some reason - what, it's not that strange a question! She fumbles with the skirt of her uniform for a minute before replying, not meeting anyone's eyes. "It... I... um... it's something I learned about before I, um, came to Kitago."

I shrug - I don't see why that's anything to get embarrassed about. The others look somewhat interested, but I don't see why it's important at all. No one seems curious enough to pursue it, anyway, and as gazes turn back to me I nod.

"Anyway! Plans are set for next week, so be ready! Kyon's right, we've all been to Kyoto plenty of times before, so try to find unusual things to look into for this trip!" I nod sharply, then head over to my desk to start researching myself.

It goes pretty well, for the most part. It doesn't take me long to find more information about the ghost story I'd heard about Himeji Castle, but most of it is stuff I already remembered - nothing really all that new. The idea of poking over a ton of websites about landmarks in Kyoto is boring as hell - at least for now, anyway - so I start browsing sites at random.

After some random clicking around on sites about famous temples, I come across one talking about Houryuu-ji, a Buddhist temple in the Nara prefecture. It's close enough for us to reach on a day trip, and I haven't been there myself, at least. No ghost stories that I can find, though; I'll keep it in mind as a backup, at least, if we can't find enough interesting stuff to check out in Kyoto.

I'm just about to leave the page and look for something else when I notice the name of one of the landmarks at the site - the Hall of Dreams. Nothing all that special by itself, but it does remind me of my talk with Sakanaka again, and Mikuru's slightly odd statement about controlling dreams earlier in the meeting. I figure I've got enough research done for today, and so I decide to do some research on this 'lucid dreaming' thing.

I'm so absorbed in my reading that I don't even notice Mikuru and Koizumi leaving. I only notice Kyon and Yuki because Kyon comes over to the computer to check on me, bag in hand.

"Uh, we're headed out now," he fumbles out. "The bell for the end of club meetings sounded a few minutes ago, so..."

I blink a couple of times as I look up at him. This is pretty interesting stuff, all about different types of sleep and the way lucid dreaming works - and the fact that anyone can learn how to do it - but he has a point; I can't stay here reading all night. "Mmmm, okay, go on ahead - I'll lock up once you guys are gone."

Kyon nods at that, and he heads out ahead of Yuki. I don't really pay her too much attention as I get the computer shut down, but I do notice that she lingers next to the table for a minute before she leaves, while I'm waiting for the computer to finish powering off. Normally I wouldn't think anything of it, except that when I collect my own bag, I notice that there's a book on the end of the table - kind of an aqua green color, about the size of a textbook; it doesn't look like the novels that Yuki usually reads, or that are all over the shelves in here. It's a little odd, since Yuki almost never leaves her books laying around, but when I turn it over, I notice that it seems to be about lucid dreaming, of all things! Maybe she noticed what I was reading and had a book she wanted to offer me?

I shake my head, stuffing it in my bag before I head out and lock up the club room. However it got there, I can certainly put it to good use - after what I was reading about online, I kind of want to try it myself now!

I don't have much opportunity for reading it that night, though; homework assignments for the vacation week ahead are starting to get issued, and since I don't want to waste any of my vacation time doing it, that means taking more time than usual to finish it up at home. I don't bother to take the book out of my bag before school the next day, though; if nothing else, I might be able to start in on it at lunchtime.

Kyon seems even more lethargic than usual today, though. I'll admit to being slightly curious as to why, but if it's something important I'm sure he'll tell me at some point. The day goes by pretty much as normal aside from that, but I don't get much time at lunch to do much of anything, unfortunately - the squeeze at the cafeteria is worse than usual and I barely even have time to finish eating.

After class ends, I head off to the club room like I normally do; there's nothing pressing today, so I don't bother to wait up for Kyon. Yuki's the only one in the room - unsurprisingly - and so I go through my usual routine while I wait for the others to arrive: checking the club's email address and website to see how many visitors we've had, scanning through a few 'news of the weird' websites to see if anything interesting has happened nearby that's worth checking out. Nothing on any front today, though, but that's not really that big a deal - this is mostly just to kill time while the slowpokes take their time getting here.

Mikuru's just stepped into the room and started changing when my phone buzzes; it's a message from Koizumi - apparently something came up with his part-time job on short notice, and he won't be able to come to the club meeting today. Which sucks, of course, but without any major plans for the day it doesn't bother me all that much. After I delete the message, I hit 2ch for a while, but I've only just pulled up the first thread on the paranormal board when I realize: why isn't Kyon here yet?

Mikuru is just starting to pour the tea when I stand up and look over the computer. "Where the hell is Kyon, anyw-"

And of course, that's when he finally opens the door and comes in, although he looks pretty tired. That's no excuse for not telling me back in the classroom, though, so of course I call him out on it. "Where the hell have you been?"

"Sorry," he says wearily. "I was- well, I guess it's not all that important." He shuffles over to his seat, not meeting anyone's eyes - I don't like this one bit.

I'm about to snap at him again to demand an explanation, but he manages to beat me to it - barely. "So, er, I have some not-so-good news," he mumbles. "I mentioned our plans for next week over dinner last night, and apparently my parents neglected to inform me that we're heading out to the country again this year."

I grind my teeth. "Kyon... you didn't tell them you had other plans?" I slam my hands down on my desk. "You have Brigade duties!"

"I tried!" he protests. "I told them I had stuff planned with my club, but my mother insisted! My grandmother isn't doing too well, and Mom wants to make sure she gets a chance to see me and my little sister, so they've been planning a big family reunion out in the country for a while."

His shoulders slump, and he rests his arms on the table in front of him. "I even tried to explain that I'd be fine staying home by myself for the week, but my mother insisted - there's absolutely no way I can get out of going."

I clench my teeth at that; I can feel the beginning of a headache coming on already. "Rrrgh... This sucks!" I'm mad enough to want to throw something, but I guess I can't really blame Kyon here - it does sound like he made a decent attempt at trying to get out of it, and in this case it's not like we have any travel arrangements that'll be screwed up by him missing the trip. We could always claim there were, but from the way Kyon's making it sound his mom would want proof, and we don't have any.

I stalk over to the window, turning my back to the club room as I rest my hands on the sill and stare out into the courtyard. The Brigade isn't dumb enough to interrupt my mood, at least for the most part; Mikuru does set down a cup of tea, although whether it's just her routine or a peace offering I'm not sure. Either way, the tea is as good as always, and the heat from a long draught of it helps me calm down a bit.

When I turn back to face the others, Kyon looks like a man waiting for his execution, and Mikuru keeps casting nervous glances between him and me; I notice out of the corner of my eye that Yuki doesn't actually have her nose buried in a book for a change, either - she's looking at Kyon, too. I cross my arms, considering what to say for a moment; he seems to pick up on the fact that I'm looking at him at that point and essays a sickly smile.

"So, I'm guessing I've got some kind of penalty," he tries, at least looking at me now even if he's got trouble meeting my eyes.

I think about that for a moment; I definitely could penalize him for this, since he's going to be absent for a lot of activities, but in consideration, what would the point really be? He already looks pretty miserable about it - which tells me that he wanted to come with the Brigade, and from what he said he did make a pretty decent try at staying behind to do the Brigade activities instead.

And, frankly, Kyon picks up plenty of penalties for things that are his fault - so it's not really that hard a decision to make. "No, no penalty," I reply, shaking my head. "It's not like it was your fault this time, since your mom sprung this on you out of nowhere."

He relaxes a bit at that, which tells me I shouldn't let him off the hook completely, either. "Since you won't be with the rest of us doing Brigade activities, though, you're going to have a separate assignment!" I announce, just as he starts to get settled back in his chair - which makes his head snap over in my direction.

He lets out a sigh at that - so predictable - and finally manages to really look at me. "Alright, I suppose I don't have too much room to argue, since I'm not getting any other penalties. What is it?"

I rub my chin in thought. "I don't know yet, but there's still a couple of days before the holiday starts. I'll give you your assignment tomorrow," I decide.

"Fine," is the response. "It'll probably beat doing homework, anyway, and I imagine I'll have plenty of time for it - I suspect I'm going to spend a lot of time saddled with babysitting my cousins."

I can't help but make a face at that - I hate babysitting. I've only had to do it a couple of times, at least, but it always ends up boring as hell; half the stuff the kids want to do sounds interesting, but usually their parents warned me specifically not to let them do that. Such a pain. Tutoring isn't so bad, though; I have something to focus on myself, in that case, and if I can make it interesting, the kid usually isn't any trouble.

"Better you than me," I aver. "Anyway, since it looks like things aren't going to go anywhere today, and Koizumi called out anyway, club is dismissed. Mikuru-chan, Yuki, keep looking into stuff we can do nearby - Kyon may not be coming along, but that doesn't mean we're canceling our Golden Week plans!"

Yuki just nods in reply, and Mikuru adds a nervous confirmation. I give them both a nod, shooing Kyon out of the room so Mikuru can change out of her maid costume before I head over to shut down the computer.

What a drag. I can't help but think that taking a bunch of trips to old landmarks is going to be a lot less interesting without Kyon - even if the trips wouldn't be all that different with him there, the snarky comments would have been worth it.

I spend most of the trip home trying to come up with ideas for things Kyon could do while he's away. Obviously things like mystery searches are out; even if I believed he'd actually stick to it without supervision, it wouldn't really be something he could do if he's stuck watching his cousins.

He didn't say where in the country his family lives; maybe I should find out and have him look into finding out about any local legends or things... but then I remember that this is where Kyon's family is from. He's demonstrated a few times that he's at least slightly interested in old stories or tales of the unusual - hell, even yesterday he showed it by knowing about Yonaguni. That said, though, he probably already knows any legends around there, so telling him to look for any is basically just giving him a free pass.

I toss around a couple of other ideas as I finish the trip home, but can't come up with anything solid. Since the Brigade meeting broke up early I'm home quite a bit earlier than usual, and to top that off Mom texted me to let me know she'd be working late tonight, too, so I've got an empty house to keep me company for most of the night - not something I particularly enjoy all that much.

I head up to my room to knock out my homework first, and it's while I'm digging through my bag that I come across the book that Yuki left yesterday. I wonder...

Homework comes first, though - no sense in getting behind, even if my mind is on other things right now. I shove the book to the back of my mind and buckle down to the task at hand, first. At least with the extra motivation, even the extra vacation assignments don't hold me up for long.

Once everything's done, though, I grab the book and flop back on my bed with it, considering the idea. While I haven't gotten too far into the book itself, from what I read online yesterday it said that just about anyone could learn to become aware of and then control their dreams with some effort. For an assignment... Well, learning to control dreams is definitely cool; maybe not all that unusual, but it'd still be pretty awesome - being able to change the world around you to become whatever you want, even if it does go away when you wake up.

If anyone can learn to do it, though, then Kyon can - he's about as 'average guy' as they come. I can see a couple of bonuses, too; if he's spending all day doing stuff with his family, this is still something he can do at night, since it's not like they could distract him that much while he's sleeping. On top of that, maybe the ability to do whatever he wants in his dreams will help him bring out that creative side more - I see flashes of it every now and then, like when he originally suggested making the Brigade, and given the kinds of things he can come up with when it does show up...

The movie's the best example I can think of. I'll admit to being irritated with his improvised narration at first, but in going back later and watching? I really don't think it'd be quite as good without it. There was definitely plenty of room for improvement there - on everyone's part, really. Even I made some mistakes there - but the less said about that, the better.

It's decided, then. I'll talk to him tomorrow and give him this assignment - I just hope it works out as well as I think it can!

After waking up, I'm mildly annoyed to realize that I haven't remembered anything about my dreams, even since getting interested in lucid dreaming. I know that remembering your dreams is supposed to be part of it, but it's not like I can just snap my fingers and go 'okay, I want to remember my dreams now!' and it'll happen. Anyway, once Kyon learns to do it, I can grill him on how he got it working, and then try it out myself - it'll probably be easier to learn it from someone that knows how than it would be from the book, anyway.

I'm feeling impatient all morning, though, so I head back to the classroom after picking up my lunch to talk to Kyon. Unsurprisingly, he's occupied when I enter the room - as usual, Kunikida and that halfwit Taniguchi. The fifteen minute wonder catches sight of me coming back in right away, though, so by the time I make it back to my desk they've already fled to their own side of the classroom. Honestly, I don't even know why I agreed to go out with him in middle school - it's not like I didn't know exactly how it was going to turn out.

Kyon just raises an eyebrow as I reclaim my seat. He'd already turned his desk around to face mine since the two stooges were over here, so at least talking is easier than usual.

"Something on your mind?" he prompts, once I settle back and start eating. "It's a bit unusual to see you in here at lunchtime."

"I'm working on putting your assignment together," I reply. "First off, though, how often do you remember your dreams?"

He blinks a couple of times at that. "...what? Where'd that come from?"

"Just answer the question!" I snap back.

"Good grief," he mutters, just on the edge of my hearing, which just serves to irritate me further. Before I can yell at him to take this seriously, though, he actually does answer the question. "Not all that often, or at least not for very long. Most of the time I don't remember anything, but every once in a while I'll have some fuzzy recollection - but even that's usually gone by the time I get to school."

That's about what I expected, really. The same is true for me for the most part, too, except for a few rare things - like the dream about the giants, from last year. I remember that one really well even now, almost a year later.

But given that, maybe he's got something similar? "What about any particularly memorable dreams?" I continue, cutting off something he was about to say. "Even if you don't remember most of them, surely there are some that you don't forget!"

"Uh, actually there's nothing I-" He catches himself in mid-sentence, giving me a long, considering look.

Why is he looking at me like that? Do I have rice on my face or something? I take a minute to wipe my face, not taking my eyes off Kyon, but his expression doesn't change at all.

"What's with that look?" I challenge him. "Let me guess, it's something perverted that you don't want to tell me." I don't really think that's it, though - he doesn't look even slightly embarrassed, and if it really was something weird like that I imagine he'd be red in the face or fidgety.

He sighs in response to that, finally breaking his stare. "No, nothing like that," he mumbles. "There's really only one dream I remember well.

"You were in it, but before you jump on me about it there was nothing perverted about it at all. We were here at the school, and there were these giant blue... things, destroying the school building and everything around it."

For no apparent reason, I can feel my heart start pounding in my chest - this sounds way too familiar. I can actually feel more than see it, but Kyon's looking at me again, so I fight hard not to show any kind of reaction to it.

"So... I was in it, huh?" I manage to get out. "What was I doing then, if I was in it and it wasn't anything perverted?"

"You were..." Kyon sighs. "You were excited about the blue things clearing everything away to make way for something new and better, and I was afraid that we'd end up losing everything we already had if that happened."

Okay, this is seriously weirding me out - if I didn't know better, I'd swear he was talking about my dream. "Was that all?"

For some reason that makes him look away. "That's... there might have been more, but a lot of the details are fuzzy," he finishes, not meeting my gaze - and I feel sure that he's either lying or not telling me the whole truth there. Given what he did say, though, I somehow don't think that pressing for more is such a good idea right now.

"I'll keep it in mind, thanks," I mumble, turning to face the window as I try to get my thoughts organized. Is it possible that somehow Kyon saw my dream - or that I saw his? That seems almost like it could be some kind of psychic power, although Kyon's about the last person I could imagine having some kind of unusual power.

Maybe it's just possible that dreams can overlap somehow? Geez, now I want to work on controlling my dreams to see if it really is! I rest my chin on my hand as I stare out the window; I can't help but frown a bit as I consider. I still like the idea of making Kyon work on learning to remember and control his dreams, but now I want to learn it myself, too - and there's only one book.

Then I have to resist the urge to smack myself in the forehead for being so shortsighted. I may only have one copy of the book now, but there's nothing stopping me from going to the library or a bookstore to get another copy, is there? With that settled, I turn back to my food in earnest. Kyon looks slightly puzzled, but apparently not enough to actually ask what's going on. He'll find out soon enough, anyway.

I wait until after classes have started before I write down the full title and author of the book; I don't want to tip Kyon off to what I have in mind until the club meeting today. Once that's done, the rest of the day's classes drag, as usual when I'm excited about the Brigade meeting or something else after school.

Once the chime sounds for the end of classes, I'm off like a shot to the club room. I don't really feel like hauling Kyon along today, and having an extra few minutes to get ready for him won't hurt, either.

I'm just finishing up my usual online checks when Kyon and Koizumi make it into the room; I glance up as they come in, but it isn't until then that I notice: "Where's Mikuru-chan?" I ask, looking between Kyon and Yuki.

Yuki just gives me a blank look in return, Kyon shrugging before the door opens again, a breathless Mikuru entering behind the boys. "Sorry I'm late," she pants. "I had to, um, run a quick errand for someone before the meeting." She's breathing heavily, which just makes that unreasonable chest stand out even more...

Dammit, focus! This is no time to be getting distracted! I manage to unclench my fist, turning my gaze to Kyon as he and Koizumi take their seats, Mikuru glancing over at the costume rack nervously before she heads over to start making tea. Koizumi looks like he's about to go get a board game out when he notices me looking in their direction.

"Is there something I can do for you, Suzumiya-san?" he asks, half out of his seat.

"No, you're not the one who has a special Brigade assignment for next week," I retort, putting my hands on my hips as I look at Kyon.

"I take it this means you've decided what my assignment is going to be," he responds dryly, shifting in his seat to face me.

My only answer is to pull the book out of my bag, then walk over to the table to slam it down in front of him.

"What's this?" He gives it a puzzled look, only briefly glancing at the title.

"That's your assignment," I tell him, as Koizumi cranes his neck over the table to get a look for himself. "It's a book on lucid dreaming - remembering and even controlling your dreams. While you're out in the country, I expect you to learn how to do it, and then report back on your findings!"

Kyon seems at a loss for a moment as he responds. "Okay, I guess... Any particular reason for studying this?"

"Well, if you have to do stuff with your family, you obviously aren't going to have time to go out searching for mysterious things," I explain. "That means studying something, and since you can't exactly get a book on how to be psychic, this seems like a good idea!"

Mikuru is looking at the book with wide eyes now, while Kyon scratches his head in confusion. "Okay, I guess that makes sense, but... why dreams?"

"Because all sorts of amazing things can happen in dreams - there are lots of stories of famous people being inspired by dreams, like the guy who invented the sewing machine or the author of Frankenstein. Who knows what kinds of things you could come up with in your dreams?"

He puffs up a little at that. "Well, I suppose it would be interesting to remember more of what I dream about... maybe I could dream about something important like that."

I don't like the slightly self-satisfied look on his face at that, so I can't resist bringing him down a notch. "Besides, from what I've been reading, supposedly anyone can learn how to dream like that - so if you can learn it, that absolutely proves it!"

"Of course," he sighs.

The rest of the meeting is pretty quiet; Koizumi and Kyon settle into one of their usual board games and I spend most of the rest of the time browsing through 2ch. Since there's just tomorrow and the half-holiday for Showa Day left this week, I declare the Brigade in recess until next Monday - this is still a vacation after all, so giving everyone some free time is fine.

After the meeting breaks up, I decide to hit the library first. I shouldn't need the book for long; once I've learned how to do lucid dreaming myself, I won't need it any more, obviously. I appear to be in luck, though; after I look up the book in the catalog, I head over to the shelf where it's supposed to be just in time to catch a librarian putting it back on the shelf - it was just returned earlier today, apparently.

It doesn't take me long to get the book checked out, and from there I grab some dinner from a cart serving ramen on the way home - Mom said she had to work late to finish up some projects before the holiday started, so I've been on my own for dinner all week long, and I don't feel like cooking tonight.

Once I'm settled in at home, I decide to skip homework for tonight and crack open the book. There's nothing due at this point until after Golden Week, so losing a night to something else isn't going to kill me. The first order of business, though, is to see what this has to say about sharing dreams with other people...

It's not until Mom gets home that I realize I've spent almost three hours reading, the slamming of the door behind her jarring me out of my focus. On the down side, my ramen is stone cold now, but at least I have a fairly good grasp of the fundamentals of how lucid dreaming works, and I should be able to start practicing soon - even tonight, if I feel like it.

It didn't say anything about being able to see other people's dreams, though, but that's okay; this seems more like an instruction manual than a major treatise on dreams and how they work. It definitely doesn't say anything about it not being possible, though, so it's worth putting some effort into trying out. It might take a little while, but I'm absolutely certain that with some practice I'll be able to find Kyon's dreams!