Catastrophic


Just a quick story idea I thought up when it occurred to me that Mikoto's issue with cats was decidedly supernatural in origin...


Despite all appearances to the contrary, Kamijou Touma would be the first to call himself a cat lover.

Sure, maybe he wouldn't seek them out like a Gekota- obsessed fangirl, but he was perfectly cordial to any that he happened to meet. He'd give them a scratch behind the ears, a rub on the belly, and maybe—if they were looking particularly pitiful, or if he was feeling particularly generous—treat them to a meal on the house. The facts were clear: Kamijou Touma was a cat lover, or at least a pretty good friend.

None of these things stopped him from letting out a startled curse one afternoon, when he was knocked over by a cat running as if it had been fired by the Railgun herself.

Kamijou groaned and sat up, rubbing his neck with an aching hand. "Jeez," he muttered. "Just when I thought I'd make it through the day without any misfortune…"

He gave himself a quick once-over, trying to make sure that he wouldn't have to check in to his hospital room for the thousandth time. Kamijou breathed a sigh of relief—his hands were pocked with fresh markings from the sidewalk and his tailbone felt like it had been kicked by an extremely angry middle schooler, but nothing major had happened.

"Hey, idiot. What're you doing on the ground?"

Quickly, Kamijou looked up, ready to defend his honor as an esteemed intellectual—and froze. "Oh, great. And there I was thinking things couldn't get worse…"

The girl standing above him narrowed her eyes. "And just what," Misaka Mikoto said, "is that supposed to mean?"

Oh, damn! He knew all too well what would come next if he wasn't careful. "I was just thinking about my fall!" Kamijou said desperately. "I didn't mean anything about anyone—"

"You were looking straight at me when you said it."

"Looking? At you?" Kamijou gave a weak laugh. "What makes you think that? I wasn't—you can't be thinking—"

"Are you trying to say I'm not worth looking at?"

Somewhat surprisingly, no sparks had flown from Mikoto's bangs yet, but Kamijou swore he felt the hair on his arms rise at the remark anyway. "Nonono, I meant…"

"Is that anything to say while sprawling on the ground like the idiot you are?"

"Oh, I give up," Kamijou groaned. "Just zap me and get it over with."

"Huh? That was fast. Are you trying to get zapped or something today? Something must be wrong with you…"

As Mikoto continued to trample on his intellectual dignity, Kamijou surreptitiously focused his gaze on her hands. There was something that he'd learned during their many encounters, something that Mikoto might not have realized herself: nine times out of ten, before she started throwing her lightning around, she'd clench her hands like she was getting ready to punch the air itself. The knowledge gave Kamijou what amounted to an early warning system.

Right now, despite what her speech indicated (she was still lambasting his balance, intellect, and just about everything in between), the coast seemed pretty clear. Both hands were relatively relaxed—the right hand hung by her side, and the left was just holding a small can of cat food…

Wait. Cat food?

Kamijou squinted at the can. Something about it being there, in Mikoto's hand, bothered him…

And then, in a flash of genius, esteemed intellectual Kamijou Touma understood what was happening.

Mikoto was still talking, though Kamijou had managed to miss every word that she'd said. Apparently she'd realized as much, because she scowled and said, "Hey, hey! Are you even listening to me?"

Kamijou just stared at her.

"Don't tell me you hit your head that hard," Mikoto said. "He—llo?" She waved a hand in front of his face. "Can—you—under—stand—me?"

"You were trying to feed him, weren't you?"

Mikoto's eyes widened. "W-what? Feed? What are you talking about?"

"That cat." Kamijou nodded at her left hand. "What else would that cat food be for? I'm sure a Tokiwadai ojou-sama like yourself knows about all kinds of makeup I've never heard of, but even I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be using that."

"I…" Mikoto looked at Kamijou, then at the can in her hand. She looked back at him.

A second later, all of District 7 was treated to an unscheduled fireworks show as a certain something was shot straight up into the sky at three times the speed of sound.

"C-cat food?" Mikoto stammered. "What cat food? I don't know what you're talking about."

"Sure," Kamijou said, as fragments of freshly fried cat food rained down around them. "I don't know about any cat food either."

Mikoto's hands were curling into fists. "Oh, come on! So what if I'm trying to feed cats? It's a great way to give back to society!" A single spark shot out from her bangs—

—and crackled into nothing as it met Kamijou's right hand. "That's a great example of the problem here, isn't it?" he said. "One of the Sisters told me about this. Something about your powers makes animals freak out." Kamijou whistled. "Must suck, for a cat lover like you."

Mikoto glared at him for a long while. "No one asked you to feel bad for me, you idiot," she said finally, turning her eyes away from him. "Besides, I can still feed the fish."

"How am I not supposed to feel bad for you after hearing you try and console yourself with that?"

Even accounting for the "idiot" jibe, it was hard for Kamijou not to pity her. But what could he possibly do to help? From what Misaka Imouto had told him, Mikoto's problem stemmed from the fact that she unconsciously emitted a weak electromagnetic field from all points around her body, like the AIM diffusion fields that Komoe-sensei was so interested in. That wasn't something that a person just switched off.

Unless…

"Hey, Misaka?" Kamijou said slowly. "I think I have an idea. But first…we're going to need some more cat food."


"Why did I end up paying for the cat food?"

"H-hey! If you're going to help me, you have to commit fully!" Mikoto yelled, crossing her arms.

Kamijou looked despondently at his wallet. "But for a poor student like me…"

"Fine," Mikoto said. "If this actually works, I'll pay you back. And speaking of which…" She glared at him. "You still haven't told me what you're planning."

"Look," Kamijou said. "I can't believe I never realized this before, but I've got your solution right here." He held up his right hand.

"…was that supposed to be a really lame way of asking for a high five?"

"No! Come on, you know what happens when your powers meet my hand," Kamijou said. "They stop working. Since that's the case, don't you think that I could also cancel AIM fields? Actually, I know I can! That whole thing with Kazakiri—" He stopped himself midsentence; now was definitely not the time to talk about Academy City's resident angel. "Well, anyway. Point is, if I hold your hand, I can cancel that electromagnetic field long enough for you to experience the joys of cat-feeding!"

From the look on Mikoto's face, it seemed like she'd only caught one part of his rant. "If you hold my what?"

"Look, I know the idea of holding a grubby delinquent hand like my own sounds real nasty," Kamijou said, rolling his eyes. "But if you want to do this, it's a sacrifice you'll have to make!"

"I…" There was a very strange expression on Mikoto's face that Kamijou didn't really understand, but she shook her head almost violently and said, "Fine, I can do that." Her face shifted into a fierce glare. "If it turns out this was just some way to get me to hold your hand…"

Kamijou sighed. "You'll see," he said. "Now let's go! We need a cat for the cat food to mean anything." He turned and started off, his eyes already scanning the plaza.

(It almost seemed like Mikoto muttered "you could've just asked to hold my hand" from behind him as he left, but there was no way that was right.)


"That," Kamijou said, panting and rubbing his back, "took us way too long."

They'd ended up finding a prospective recipient of their cat food stuck in a tree. After a five-minute argument about who would be better off standing on top of who, Kamijou had shaken his head and tried to climb the tree at the same time that Mikoto tried to launch herself off the ground with a blast of electric force. They'd managed to collide in midair and land on top of each other—though, on the bright side, the impact had knocked the cat out of the tree, after which it landed on Kamijou's waiting back.

"At least you didn't have a ten-ton high schooler dropped on top of you," Mikoto grumbled. Her face was tilted away from Kamijou, but he was pretty sure her expression was one that promised a hundred lightning spears in the back later.

"Hey! Call me an idiot all you want, but I'm imposing an upper bound of two tons for all weight-related statements!"

"That's nothing to say to the girl you just flattened—"

At that point, the cat they'd managed to salvage let out a loud, plaintive meow.

Both Kamijou and Mikoto stopped, and whirled to look at the cat. The cat, meanwhile, kept its gaze locked on the can of food in Kamijou's hands. It meowed again, and the two flinched at the same time.

"It's hungry," Kamijou hissed, tearing open the can and all but throwing it into Mikoto's hands. "Now's your chance—and take that scary frown off your face! You're going to scare it away."

"Only if your hair doesn't scare it away first." Hesitantly, Mikoto poured a bit of food into her hand and reached out towards the cat—and stopped, an instant later. "Aren't you forgetting something?" she said. She kept her eyes on the cat, not looking at Kamijou.

"What?"

"How could you forget? You're the one who suggested it!"

"Oh, right. Your hand…" Kamijou hadn't expected to start doing this in such an open space. He desperately hoped that neither Tsuchimikado or Aogami would stumble across them. "All right!" he roared, mostly to cover his embarrassment. "If you thought you would never feed a cat, let me break that illusion of—"

"Just take my hand already!" Mikoto finally tore her eyes away from the cat just to glare at Kamijou. "You know what? Screw it." With that noble declaration, Mikoto reached out, snatched Kamijou's right hand, and dragged him to sprawl beside her.

All the while, the cat sat watching, licking its lips and staring at the the food in Mikoto's hand.

"This is usually when they run away," Mikoto said, beginning to extend her hand towards the cat. "I'm…actually kind of hoping this will work." Her grip tightened on Kamijou's hand.

Kamijou gulped and looked away from the sight of Mikoto's hand around his own, trying to ignore the sensation. "Don't you have faith in me?"

"N-no!"

And at that moment, without further ado, the cat padded forward and started eating from Mikoto's hand.

Kamijou smirked with satisfaction. "See? What did I tell you—ow!" The smirk changed into an expression of intense discomfort. "Hey, you're really holding my hand! Would you mind loosening up there?"

"It's—it's actually eating the food!" Mikoto's voice was thrumming with excitement. "Aw," she cooed, just as the cat gave a satisfied purr and rubbed itself against her hand.

"Ow, ow, ow!" Kamijou was still trying to ignore the feeling of having Mikoto's hand around his own, but for an entirely different reason now. "I agree! Cats are cute! Can you ease up on the hand-holding?"

Mikoto looked away for a split second and regarded their hands: her hand was squeezing Kamijou's so much that it was whitening under the pressure. "Sorry," she said, loosening her grip slightly and prompting a relieved sigh from Kamijou.

A second later…

"Ahh! What happened to easing up? This is worse than before!"

"He's—he's licking my fingers!"

"Since when was it a he?"


Several minutes of pained yelling and endeared cooing later, the cat decided that it had had enough of the food (or at least the shouting) and padded off, after a parting rub against Mikoto's hand.

Kamijou collapsed to the ground with a moan. "I think you broke my fingers," he said. "I've never regretted having a plan of mine work so much."

There was no answer. After a while, the silence had lasted long enough for Kamijou to get a little worried. "Hey, you alright?" he asked, looking over at Mikoto.

She was looking in the direction that the cat had gone, an odd expression on her face. "That was the first time I ever got to feed one of them," Mikoto said. "And he actually walked away instead of acting like I'd kicked him…" She looked at Kamijou. "Thank you," she murmured quietly. There was a tender look on her face that Kamijou almost didn't recognize.

"Uh…sure?" Part of Kamijou was happy, of course, that she seemed to appreciate what he had done so much. But on the other hand… "That was really nice of you," he said, squinting at her suspiciously. "Almost too nice. To be honest, it's kind of scary…"

Wait. Had he said that out loud?

Poof went the tender look. "Wait, what?" A second later, Mikoto's face resumed normal biri-biri operations. "I wasn't trying to be nice! I was just…just…daagh! Fine! If that's the way you want it, then don't you dare run away from what's coming!"

"U-uh, wait," Kamijou said, backing away and raising his hands. "I never said I wanted anything but a nice little thank you…wait, why are you grabbing my arm?"

"Oh, come on, idiot!" Mikoto started dragging Kamijou away to some unknown location. "Don't you even remember that you were the one who paid for the cat food? Jeez, this is exactly why you have that budget you keep complaining about…I told you that I'd repay you if things worked out, didn't I?"

"How does repaying me involve dragging me—ow, stop pulling so hard! Hold on just a second! I mean—let go, and then hold on! Can't you just give me the money?"

Mikoto gave a very unladylike snort. "A broke idiot like you shouldn't forget his payments," she said, giving his arm another rough pull. "Likewise, a Tokiwadai ojou-sama shouldn't forget her debts." She looked back at him for a split second, and Kamijou almost thought he saw a smattering of pink across her cheeks before she whirled away again. "You spent about an hour helping me feed that cat, and I'm not spending time figuring out how much that's worth in yen. So there's only one thing left to do."

"I'd be fine with you just letting me go in peace!" Kamijou yelled, as he stumbled behind her.

"Are you kidding? No way!" Mikoto started pulling at Kamijou even harder. "You and I are finding someplace to eat, and you"—she punctuated this with an extra-hard tug—"are ordering something to make up for that cat food! Come on, walk faster! It's almost dinnertime, and we need to stay there for an hour for this to work!"

"I-I'm pretty sure whatever restaurant you end up picking is going to charge way more than one can of cat food's worth!"

"Oh, shut up!"


(And if Tokiwadai's Ace slept that night with a hand pressed to her chest and a ridiculous grin on her face—well, that was nobody's business.)


Fin

If you enjoyed this story, please leave a review! I read all of them and appreciate each of them a lot, and - to be honest - they're a big motivating factor for me to write more stories. Favorites are appreciated too!