I made it home full of soda after Nagato and Mori insisted I stay and drink until closing time after the whole Haruhi incident. Koizumi seemed to have already developed a tolerance to overdrinking. I on the other hand was on the brink of exploding.
"I'm home." I sighed in a very small voice, unable to yell in the house as I usually did because I might throw up if I did so.
I sat down on the couch to rest. I've gone through too much grief walking all the way home with all this soda in my system. I'll have to get up in a few minutes, to go to the bathroom…
"Oh, you're back." Uru said as she came into the living room in her pajamas. "Why are you home so early?"
"I wasn't late enough for you?" I frowned.
"Apparently no." Uru frowned back in a similar manner. "I was enjoying being home alone. Where the hell were you all this time?"
"I finally got that job." I said. "We won't have to worry about food anymore. By the way, what about dinner? We don't have anything."
"I ate." Uru said walking off.
Just this morning she was telling me we had no food. Now she's telling me she's already had dinner. My soda filled gut tells me she's had a nice lunch too. Something tells me she has some sort of secret stash of food she keeps just for herself. I won't have to worry about any of that anymore. Tomorrow will be my first day as a host.
Just before I went to bed I took a look at the four page calendar hanging on the wall. There was something different about it than usual. The word 'Spring' used to be the only word on the page, now there was a second word underneath it that read 'Friday'.
Best news I've had in the Reality. Tomorrow was Saturday.
If I was in the Old World, this wouldn't be something to be happy about. I'm pretty sure I'd be busting my back under the sun looking for mysteries. I wonder what the new Haruhi does on Saturdays, probably not what I've seen today.
Koizumi had told me yesterday that he would be stopping by at my house so we could go to the host club together. Sure I had a job, but I haven't officially started yet, thus I was still broke. Therefore I had nothing to 'eat' but free soda last night and no breakfast either. Of course, Uru had already eaten by the time I was downstairs. I'm not surprised and honestly, I don't even want to get into it. If worst comes to worst, I'll have to ask Koizumi for some meals.
I had just about given up searching for Uru's secret stash of food when I heard the bell ring. Uru got to the door before me and answered it.
"Who are you?" She asked.
"I'm Kyon's friend, Koizumi." He replied very politely to the little girl he had never seen before in the Reality or the Old World. He's acting casual now, but I'm sure he's very interested to find out who she was or where she came from. Uru came back into the house at once.
"Aren't you going to invite him in?" I asked.
"You friends are your problems." Uru said. "I don't have any reason to do anything for them."
This answer was to be expected.
"Sorry about that." I said to Koizumi joining him outside.
"Do you mind telling me who that was Kyon?" Koizumi asked.
"She's Uru, a little girl I met in the park the other day." I explained. "She tells me she has no home and no family. She's pretty good at cooking and cleaning and she wanted to stay so I decided to let her on account of not having my family here and all."
"She's definitely not an illusion." Koizumi said. "She's doesn't feel like a regular person either."
"What do you think she is then?" I asked.
"A part of the Reality." Koizumi said. "I may be completely wrong to. She has to have some close connection with Suzumiya. On the other hand she could be no more than some automation designed by the Reality, so that life here is possible without your family."
"I'm surprised Haruhi cares that much." I said. "Are we going to the host club?"
"We have some time before it opens." Koizumi said. "We don't have too many clients who want to spend their morning hours at a host club. We open fairly late, about noon at the earliest."
"I really can't suggest any places to kill time." I shrugged. "This Reality has nothing but a school, park, and a library apart from the host club. At least in the Old World I'd be able to sneak away from the mystery search to get a quick bite to eat."
"Suzumiya would not be pleased." Koizumi said.
"I don't care." I frowned. "I'm free to eat when I want whenever I want. Besides, this is a matter of life and death. Seriously, I'm wasting away here… Talking about Old World Haruhi is making it worse. Isn't there a good place to eat around here?"
"There isn't a recognizable eating establishment anywhere in these parts." Koizumi said. "From afar, buildings can be deceivingly flourishing. However, they are empty up close."
"Did Haruhi want me to starve to death in this Reality?" I asked. "Honestly, no restaurants?"
"Try not to think of it that way." Koizumi said. "You must remember that this is not like the Old World where one can freely roam and do as he or she wishes. This Reality has a determined flow. By that I mean an opportunity is sure to reveal itself, it is just that we have not encountered it yet. It is not a matter of where and how to get food, but whether you choose to eat it or not when presented to you."
"You're saying I'll get to eat if we wait long enough?" I asked. "It's not like you're going to buy me anything. I'm pretty sure it won't be appearing out of thin air. What are the chances we'll meet someone that'll have the heart to feed us?"
Koizumi didn't answer. I was beginning to think he was getting tired of my questions. A short moment later we had arrived at the park, one of the few places that 'existed' in the Reality. It was a quiet place. Lots of open grass a few benches, the occasional tree, there seemed to be a little fog. I could clearly hear our footsteps on the path leading into the park.
"Look around you Kyon." Koizumi finally said. "Do you not find it strange that there are no people here?"
"It's kind of early in the morning for people to be roaming around in the park, don't you think?" I asked.
"Imagine if there were." Koizumi said. "You walk up to a stranger and talk to him with the intention of becoming good friends with him."
"Why would I suddenly want to befriend a stranger?" I asked. "I might if they approach me first but I wouldn't care to grab anyone off the street."
"Exactly, you do not care who the stranger is." Koizumi said. "They are illusions. People you see when you are outside. They become part of the scenery and you couldn't care less about who they are, what they are like. Suzumiya is just as indifferent as you are, possibly even more so to strangers. That is why she created this Reality to have the least distractions as possible. Only the people she has had a special connection with exist as something more than mere illusions. Not just the people either, places, things."
"It would be an improvement if illusions were convincing enough to fool me." I said. "I can't ever forget the fact that they're fake."
"I do not advise you to become too comfortable with the Reality." Koizumi said. "Focus on what is real."
"Real?" I asked. "Like Haruhi?"
"She feels more like a stranger than anyone else does." I said. "What's the point? If this Haruhi isn't the one from the old then she's just a whole new person, the girl in this Reality isn't Haruhi."
"I thought you did not approach strangers." Koizumi said. "Then why did you speak to her first? Why did you not ignore her? Was it because she looked like Suzumiya Haruhi? Had the same voice as Suzumiya Haruhi? Because she sat where Suzumiya Haruhi sat in the classroom? Certainly there had to be something deeper that drove you to interact. Even after your first meeting you chose to continue your relationship."
I thought back to when I woke up in the Reality in the classroom. Sitting behind me was a dark, shy, quiet girl who was nothing like the Suzumiya Haruhi I used to know.
"Suzumiya left the old world, taking everything that mattered to her with her." Koizumi said. "Naturally her powers followed her, leaving the Old World on the brink of non existence without its god. Sure, you must not see much in Suzumiya in the Reality. Everything about her has been sealed away. It is up to you to unlock those pieces and keep what you want and keep sealed the things you do not."
"Do these pieces include her memories?" I asked.
"What do you think Kyon?" Koizumi asked. "Do you believe that Suzumiya's memories are something that is worth bringing with her into the Reality? Or do you believe that they are gone?"
"Memories like that don't just disappear." I said. "There's no doubt they're sealed up with everything else about Haruhi. All I need is to unlock it and make her remember. All we need are connections. Am I right?"
"You're getting the hang of it." Koizumi said.
"But how does this all end?" I asked. "After I've unlocked everything there is to Haruhi?"
"A new world will be created based on the decisions and choices you have made in the Reality." Koizumi said. "You and Suzumiya will learn more about each other until the final connection is made."
"Final connection?" I asked.
"It comes in many forms." Koizumi smiled. "I do not know exactly how it happens either."
I closed my eyes to process everything that I heard from Koizumi. I just needed to make Haruhi remember who she was. Does this mean I have to treat her as an amnesia patient instead of a complete stranger from now on?
"Hello Kyon!" I heard someone call from across the park.
I turned towards the source of the voice and saw Asakura Ryoko waving at us from the park entrance. She was carrying a plastic bag which made me assume that she was on her way home from some morning shopping.
"Who is this Kyon?" Asakura asked examining Koizumi. I couldn't help but notice that both their smiles were frighteningly similar. "Your friend? I haven't seen you before at school."
"He recently transferred in." I answered.
"Nice to meet you." Koizumi smiled holding out his hand. Asakura took it delicately. "I'm Koizumi Itsuki."
"Asakura Ryoko." She returned Koizumi's handshake. "What are you doing out in the park so early? Have you had breakfast yet?"
I noticed Koizumi put his hand on his gut the same time I did.
"No, in fact we were discussing where we could have some." Koizumi played masterfully.
"We still haven't decided." I added.
"How would you like to come over for breakfast?" She asked. "It's a little late but you can't go skipping meals, it's unhealthy."
I remember having dinner with Asakura last time I was stuck in an alternate world. I'm one of the people who find it hard to swallow food in the morning, but if Asakura is the one cooking, I'm sure I'd have no problem doing so. But that was beside the point. I haven't eaten anything since yesterday's lunch. I'd eat just about anything right now.
As I was expecting, we weren't going to eat at Asakura's apartment. Instead we were all going to Nagato's place to eat. Asakura cares a lot for Nagato in the Reality. As a concerned neighbor and a close friend she doesn't mind making and eating with her for all three meals a day. It makes you wonder why they aren't already living in one apartment if they're this close.
We stopped in front of Nagato's door as Asakura knocked.
"I'm back Nagato!" She called in a motherly voice. "Open up!"
In a few moments there were muffled bumping noises and sounds of things being knocked over. It took a good while for the door to be unlocked and opened. Nagato was at the front door, without any glasses. I couldn't help but be immediately concerned at the fact Asakura left Nagato alone practically blind. Koizumi and I entered Nagato's apartment. I was very surprised to see that it was as furnished as any normal residence would be, instead of the bare, empty space that the Old World Nagato lived in.
There was something that impressed me even more, Nagato in light purple pajamas. Was there really anything more to be said?
"I've brought guests over." Asakura said.
"Who?" Nagato asked looking aimlessly around the room for these guests.
"I don't know." Asakura said playfully. "Why don't you guess?"
She took Nagato by the hand and led her in my direction. She was coming straight at me. At first I considered dodging, but that would be too cruel a trick for a blind Nagato. So having no other choice I stood still. Nagato continued forward and eventually sank her face in my chest.
Asakura beamed while Koizumi smiled once again in a shockingly similar fashion as Asakura.
There was a weird feeling where Nagato put her face. I realized that this was the sensation of her breathing in my shirt. After a few seconds of a particularly long inhale she stepped back.
"Why if it isn't Kyon." Nagato finally said.
Asakura didn't take too long to make breakfast. In a few moments Koizumi and I were sitting in the dining room resisting the urge to lunge at the first plate of whatever Asakura placed on the table. Only after a few agonizing seconds of watching her place the dishes were we allowed to eat. It must've been the hunger playing tricks on me, but it was almost as if Asakura purposely hovered the food at my nose level for a second before setting it down.
There really wasn't much more to be said. Somehow Koizumi and I finished that amazing amount of food Asakura had cooked up. Now that I was feeling fuller than ever, I was suddenly feeling more optimistic and energetic.
"We get going soon Kyon." Koizumi said to me.
"Where are you two going?" Asakura asked.
"We have to go to work." I answered.
"Can we come?" Nagato asked.
"C'mon now Nagato, I'm pretty sure Itsuki and Kyon are very busy." Asakura said. "It might be troublesome for them if we were to follow."
"Well put Asakura." Koizumi chuckled.
"They work at the host club." Nagato said.
Asakura seemed to be surprised.
"Oh my, of course." Asakura laughed smiling wider. "I had forgotten. In that case, you don't mind if we follow don't you?"
"Of course not." Koizumi said relieved at Asakura's reaction. "It would be the least we could do for your hospitality. Do you not agree Kyon?"
"I have no problem with it." I replied.
"Great then!" Asakura said. "Give us a moment to take care of the dishes and get changed. You two make yourselves at home. Feel free to watch a little TV if you like."
After switching on the TV and handing the remote to Koizumi. Asakura took Nagato and disappeared into the kitchen.
"How are you feeling Kyon?" Koizumi smiled.
"It feels like I'll be fine for a week." I said. "Too bad it's only the feeling."
"Is living in the Reality really that difficult?" Koizumi asked.
"I have Uru in the house which is really the reason I'm still alive." I said. "I remember you telling me that you were alone in this Reality. It must be harder for you."
"I too have no family in the Reality." Koizumi said. "But you have no idea what it is like to be conscious of the Reality and not be you."
"What is it like?" I asked. "Is there a difference? You and I are both having hard times here."
"It is not what you think it is." Koizumi replied. "Everything runs like clockwork, I have a steady income, I have no real problems with food."
"That's great." I said. "By the sound of it you're doing better than I am."
"You are missing the point." Koizumi said. "You must consider the purpose of this Reality."
"Rebuilding Haruhi." I replied. "Look Koizumi, I haven't forgotten."
"Who is doing the rebuilding?" Koizumi asked.
"I am." I replied.
"That makes all the difference." Koizumi said. "The Reality was created to change to your choices and yours only. Every time you make a choice, it has some effect on the surroundings and people."
"That's really not something I'd say was making my life any better." I said. "You have a job and you're eating just fine. I wish my perspective was that simple."
"You may call it simple." Koizumi said. "But I call it restricting. What I say or do has no effect here. Let me ask you a question, do you want to work at the host club?"
"Well, yeah." I replied.
"That is a choice, something that I or anybody else can never make." Koizumi explained. "It makes no difference whether I am unconscious of the Reality or not. Sure I can make small decisions that have no effect on the big picture, like what drink I buy at the convenience store, or which sock to put on first. I cannot choose to transfer out of school or stop talking to you altogether, even quit my job at the host club."
"It's not impossible." I said.
"Yes, it is not." Koizumi said. "The physics of the Reality are just inviting me to do so. Everything I am in this Reality was decided by Suzumiya. But when she was doing so, she had no idea that I, having my abilities, would be able to penetrate and potentially do as I wish. I am conscious of myself. I know what this Reality is. I know who you are, the value of your existence. What if I was to grab a knife from the kitchen and attempt to murder you right here?"
"Wow, what an example." I winced.
"I sincerely apologize." Koizumi smiled. "But while it is possible, it is at the same time, impossible. Koizumi Itsuki, as a friend of Kyon, with a good amount of knowledge, awareness, of the Reality would never do such a thing. That is Koizumi Itsuki's purpose. That is what Suzumiya and through self awareness what I too have decided. It is pointless to ponder the what ifs, theories that hold no purpose do not exist and therefore unfathomable. While you are a crucial piece to the purpose of this Reality, your death would mean the end of everything as we know it. I on the other hand am not. In the case of my death, the Reality has its purpose and my absence does not hinder it. Things will continue."
"Don't put it that way." I said. "I can name a few people who would be affected if you died. Would that really be allowed?"
"If it was so, then would that not have been my purpose?" Koizumi smiled. "You might feel grief and sadness, even Suzumiya may feel sorrow. However, I doubt it would ever be enough for her to destroy the world and start anew."
To Our Beloved Readers: Due to another project I'm deeply immersed in, TFDOSH will be on hiatus until I finish it. I also have to finish rereading the light novels to refresh/add to my knowledge of the Suzumiya Haruhi universe. I decided since that this was the point in the story where I intend to go in a different direction than in the original, it would be the best to take a break here. I'll be back in a while, after I organize how everything comes together in future chapters.
Special Credit to Mayziken who has beta read everything up to this point. Hopefully the future chapters as well. I apologize personally for the many distractions keeping me from continuing.
Shout out to any Bronies reading.
Thanks For Reading: LordPlagus777