Author's note: Hello everyone, hope you had a Merry Christmas and I wish you have a Happy New Year.
"Well, I guess this is it."
Kamijou Touma quietly closed the book he was reading, and then let out a huge yawn.
"Finally! One test I could actually study for."
He placed the book inside his bag, and then quietly turned around towards his curiously empty bed.
"Such a strange sight."
Ever since he could remember, Kamijou had to share his room with the little nun at the very least, so any occasion where he could be by himself was rare.
It had been nothing but a simple coincidence: this afternoon just as his party arrived home they found Tsuchimikado Maika outside her brother's room reading a note; it seemed he had gone somewhere and wouldn't come back tonight.
Rather than going back to her dorm, the maid in training just asked Index to stay with her and have a slumber party on her brother's room. A request Index was happy to accept once the promise of food was made. Kamijou was invited as well, but he politely declined since he had to study, plus Tsuchimikado would kill him if he knew he slept in the same room as his little sister.
"It seems they've fallen asleep."
They were a little noisy at first, but he had stopped hearing them around midnight.
Kamijou stretched himself as tiredness was finally beginning to take its toll.
"I should do the same as well."
He looked around his room looking for the other girl who lived with him, but she was nowhere to be seen. That wasn't uncommon though, she would often disappear for a couple of hours at a time only to be back to her 'observation' before he knew it.
Kamijou muttered those words to no one in particular as he lay down on his bed to sleep, slowly drifting into a world of dreams that would change his life forever.
'Ring! Ring! Ring!'
The horrible sound of a bell drowned the poor soul of the boy who hastily tried to stop it; one look at the source of the hellish alarm told him it was about time for him to get up.
"Index, are you in the bath…? No wait, she didn't sleep here last night."
Kamijou looked at himself in the mirror and noticed his face looked miserable. He didn't have a good night sleep, as for some reason he kept having horrible nightmares that involved his roommates, classmates, and most people he knew. Morphed into strange creatures that weren't quite marionettes nor really puppets, singing catchy songs about their everyday life.
"What was that all about anyway?"
He shook his head and quickly finished his business in the washroom and got dressed. He thought about getting something to eat, but it was quite late and there wasn't enough time.
"Huh! What is this?"
As he was going out, the boy spotted a little stack of cards placed on top of his table, he picked the top card of the stack and then looked at the back.
"Academy Battle… Is this some sort of trading card game? Index is this yours?"
There was no one to answer him. He sighed and resigned himself to ask his roommate about those mysterious cards later. It was getting late and he had to get to school.
Kamijou interrupted himself with a sad smile before he could finish those words. As he was going out he thought about knocking on the apartment next door but decided against it in the end, thinking Index would get mad at him if he woke them up.
On his way to school, the boy with the imagine breaker couldn't help but to notice how the entire day had been… quiet. He was so used to his unluckiness getting in the way of his daily commute, that the fact that not even an old lady had asked him to cross the street made him unease.
The most depressing thing being that he was used to this kind of moments being the calm before the storm, and then just as he lowered his guard: a magician would try to invade Academy City, or maybe the underground organizations would rise, or… Well anything could happen really.
Kamijou heard one of his friends calling him from behind, the young man with blue hair and piercings.
"How are you Aogami?"
And just as he said those words, a huge yawn escaped his mouth.
"…A little tired thought, I was so excited I couldn't sleep last night."
"Are you that hyped for the Christmas party?"
Aogami looked at Kamijou with pity on his eyes and then slowly shook his head.
"What's with that condescending stare?"
He then proceeded to ignore Kamijous words and sigh.
"That is so like you Kamijan, getting so excited for a little party."
"What are you talking about?"
He looked at his friend as if he was crazy, yesterday he seemed really excited about the party and he even heard him mumbling about how he was going to meet the goddess of moe again.
"The party is not the reason to get excited, it's the company."
"Company? Don't tell me you…?"
The boy with blue hair simply gave him a cocky smile, and slowly nodded his head.
"Yep, I did it Kamijan… I finally got a date with a beautiful lady from Kirigaoka Girls' Academy."
"Huh?" Was all Kamijou managed to say, to be honest while he knew Aogami was famous from his love of anything that could be classified as a human female, this was the first time he ever heard he actually acted on said love rather than just watching from the sidelines.
"So I'll be attending the party with a companion, although I kind of wish we could skip the party and just go to the aftermath…"
He noticed how Aogami just went on and on about what he was planning to do with his date on Christmas, and finally understood why the sudden change in personality. Honestly Kamijou found really weird how the boy with blue hair could simply ignore an opportunity to go to a party with his idol, but if he says he actually found a date then maybe he finally decided to face reality, and start going after girls he actually has a chance with.
"You've matured Aogami."
His friend let out a grin, and patted his back.
"Don't worry Kamijan, I'm sure you'll get there too."
Kamijou sighed and just kept walking in silence, although his mind kept getting distracted by the thought of a girl so perfect Aogami decided to ask her out, and at the same time crazy enough to actually accept going out with him.
"Hey you two!"
Both boys turned around to find the last member of their group, a blond young man with sunglasses… No wait.
"Tsuchimikado… What did you do to your hair?"
Tsuchimikado Motoharu, a boy best known for his sister complex, and his blond spiky hair... that wasn't blond anymore.
"Huh…? Well I had to cut it recently."
Kamijou looked at him directly. It is true that it was somehow shorter than usual, but the fact that it changed colors overnight and was the same dark color as his seemed like a more notable change.
"Oh I see… I didn't notice Tsuchimikado-kun."
"Well it was just a little, you have good eyes Kamiyan."
A little drop of sweat went through the back of Kamijou's head as he noticed how he seemed to be the only one who noticed the hair color change…
But knowing Tsuchimikado like he did, chances are there is some magical reason behind all this, and there's nothing to worry about.
"Anyway, never mind my hair. Let's talk about our plans for afterschool today, yesterday I was caught up in some things, and couldn't…"
So he decided to just play along for now, he could always ask Tsuchimikado later on.
A little later they arrived at their classroom, everything seemed the same as always and Kamijou was grateful none of his classmates had any more unexpected hair color changes.
"Good morning everyone!"
The boy greeted his teacher and then sat on his desk, eagerly awaiting the test as he could finally study for once.
"Well I hope you guys are ready for the history test."
He could hear his some of his classmates mumbling, some with happiness, most with dread. But everyone looked anxious as the little teacher pulled out a huge stack of papers from behind her desk, and began to hand them out.
"Huh? She hasn't arrived yet, that's weird…"
The pink haired teacher stopped for a moment besides Himegami's seat, as she seemed to be absent today. That was odd; she wasn't one to miss school.
"Here you go Kamijou-chan."
He took the piece of paper and placed it on his desk with confidence, he spent the entire night studying the history of esper development, and he was sure he memorized every single detail, every single fact that could possibly appear on this test.
"Well, you can start now."
As he heard the words of his teacher, Kamijou took a second to breathe and mentally prepare himself to ace this thing, so he lowered his sight and read the first question.
'What year did the Taika reforms occur?'
Kamijou's mind froze as he read the question over and over again, and then it nearly broke apart when he looked down and noticed all the questions were of the same kind.
He lifted his hand in what he thought was his unluckiness finally catching up with him.
"Yes Kamijou-chan, do you have a question about the test?"
"Yes, actually I do…"
"What is it?"
He inhaled all the air he could into his lungs before finally asking a question he thought was perfectly reasonable.
"I thought today's test was about the history of the development of ESP."
But for some reason it caused everyone in the classroom to burst out laughing. He couldn't help but to think they were overreacting. They should be used to this kind of things by now, but that didn't stop his 'best friends' from mocking him.
"What are you talking about Kamiyan?"
"ESP? Isn't that when a girl starts…"
Aogami couldn't finish that sentence though, as Fukiyose threw an eraser right between his eyes.
"That's PMS idiot! ESP are psychic powers."
But luckily for Kamijou, the laughter stopped as Komoe-sensei cleared her throat to regain control of the classroom.
"Kamijou-chan. I don't know whether this is your idea of a joke, or if you really thought the subject was about that. But this test is about Japanese history."
He lowered his head back into the test and whispered to himself.
"What's their problem? It's just an innocent mistake… And to think I spent the entire night studying for the wrong subject… Such misfortune."
"Sorry, I'm late everyone!"
Suddenly Kamijou Touma's mind froze again, this time stronger than before as he knew that voice. It belonged to a girl that had caused him so much trouble, a girl that he could never even touch. He raised his head, and saw with terrible dread that Suzumiya Haruhi had appeared before him.
"Moh! Suzumiya-san you're always doing this."
The girl tried to laugh off her teacher's scolding as she grabbed a piece of paper from her and sat on Himegami's seat.
"Sorry… It's just that an idol's work is so tiring. Yesterday I was rehearsing until 4 am, so I couldn't help but to wake up a little late."
"To be so full of energy despite working so late; as expected of Academy City's greatest idol."
"And she was only 5 minutes late, so awesome!"
After this one could hear the entire classroom swooning for their idol, even the little pink haired teacher couldn't help herself… Well there was one person who didn't move, completely petrified, and terribly confused, Kamijou Touma raised his hand in desperation.
"What is it Kamijou-kun?"
He took a deep breath, and braced himself for the worst.
"W… Why is Suzumiya-san here?"
The little teacher looked at him confused by his question.
"What do you mean Kamijou-chan? This is her school, where else would she be?"
"I understand you Kamiyan, why does such a perfect idol have to come to this dump every day? It really is mindboggling… Not that I'm complaining of course"
There was a moment of silence when the entire classroom seemed to give tacit approval to Aogami's words, only the idol herself objected.
"Come on everyone… I love this place, I could've gone to any of the schools in the School Garden if I wanted to, but I like it here. This is my home, and you're like my family."
Following her words, a few tears could be heard coming from her classmates as well as some declarations along the lines of 'We don't deserve her'.
The idol gave a smile to the classroom that left everyone in a daze, and then sat on her desk with her test in hand.
Kamijou slowly looked down to his test, before raising his head again.
"Sensei… I'm not feeling very well. Can I go to the infirmary?"
The little teacher looked at him, and sighed.
"Kamijou-chan if you just wanted to skip the test you could've just said so from the beginning."
"It's not that, I…"
"Ok, but I'll only repeat the test if you get a note from the nurse, ok?"
"Yeah, that's fine…"
He stood up and gave her the piece of paper, slowly making his way out of the classroom as his ears were filled with whisper of words like "What's his problem?" and similar.
Once he was out of the door, he closed it with extreme care, and then ran… He ran out of the building into the courtyard so fast his legs gave in less than a minute, then as he collapsed on the floor Kamijou Touma finally let out the question on his mind.
"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?"
Then he hit the ground with his fists over and over again, so strong was his pounding he managed to raise a little could of dust before feeling a sharp pain on the back of his head, and passing out right where he laid.
"Wake up! Kamijou Touma!"
The boy slowly opened his eyes as he realized a mild headache had taken over his mind, looking around he noticed he wasn't in the courtyard anymore, rather he was calmly resting on what appeared to be the nurse office.
"Thank god! I was starting to think I overdid it."
He followed the source of the voice with his eyes, and found not the nurse but rather a Catholic Saint he knew quite well.
But just like everything else there was something different about her. She wasn't wearing her typical half-torn jeans and white shirt combo, or even a nurse uniform that would've fit with the environment; rather she was dressed in a tight fitting black business suit.
"Sorry Kamijou. I didn't mean to knock you unconscious, but I kind of overreacted when I saw you yelling like a madman in the middle of the courtyard. "
And it wasn't just her clothes, her long hair was tied in a bun behind her head rather than in her usual lovely ponytail, and she was uncharacteristically wearing makeup that together with the thin frame polarized glasses she had around her forehead made her look more serious and mature than ever before.
"I'm sorry… Did you carry me here?"
She nodded her head slightly in a serious manner, a gesture the made Kamijou blush if only a little bit. To be perfectly honest to someone like him who liked women with a mature aura, he couldn't help but to find this new Kanzaki extremely alluring.
"Yes I did, I couldn't just let you laying there in the middle of the yard could I…?"
In that moment a little 'blip' could be heard, immediately Kanzaki pulled out an expensive looking phone from her coat pocket, and in less than a second she unlocked it, checked the message, and put it back into her coat.
"Anyway sorry about your neck again, but I need to leave. Haruhi-san just texted me that the test is over and we need to get going right now. Otherwise she's going to be late for her interview in that talk show… Man, Koizumi-san is going to get mad at me again."
"Suzumiya-san? Are you taking care of her?"
She just nodded her head again.
"Of course I'm her bodyguard remember? Don't tell me the shock messed up with your memories?"
Kamijou just sighed.
"Yeah… Don't worry about it, I remember now."
Fortunately for him, lying about the state of his memories was already something he could do naturally.
"Ok… I recommend you stay put for the time being, you might get nauseous or pass out again if you move too much; also I told the nurse what happened and she agreed to send a note to Komoe-sensei. You can take the rest of the day off."
"Just what did you do to me…?"
She gave him a small smile as she put her glasses on and then turned around again, leaving the room with only that gesture.
"I can't believe this."
Was all Kamijou could say as he let himself fall into the bed, noting a sharp pain when he felt the back of his head touching the pillow.
"Did an Angel fall again? Or maybe this is how the imaginary numbers district looks on the inside…? Such misfortune."
He slowly closed his eyes to take a nap when he noticed something displayed on a large bookshelf right in front of his bed. The boy stood up ignoring Kanzaki's warnings and quickly made his way towards it.
"The History of Academy City? This is…"
It was a copy of the book he had spent the entire night yesterday reading, it had the same cover and everything as it appeared to be the same edition.
"Academy City started as a simple idea in the mind of our illustrious founder Edward Alexander Crowley, in 1947 only two years after the end of the greatest war the world has ever seen. He wondered about the possibility of a city independent of any nation entirely devoted to the pursuit of academic knowledge. "
"What the hell is this crap?"
The book looked the same, but the content was completely different. He touched his head with his right hand and noticed no change, and then he tried to do the same to the pages of the book he was reading, but…
"In 1952 Mr. Crowley proposed this possibility to the leaders of the world in an audience inside the recently founded headquarters of the United Nations. Charmed by his powerful speech and revolutionary ideas, the U.N. almost unanimously decided to give him a modest amount of funding for his project, and more importantly a sizable piece of land that was his to build his dream on. But there was still a problem, since his city would need to be independent of any country, there was still the question of which nation would give up some of its territory for its construction. "
"In the end, it was decided that it would be build in the nation of Japan. The country while not officially a member of the U.N. at this point in time, accepted on the conditions that any workforce, materials, or services needed on the construction of the city had to be Japanese in its origin, and also that should the project fail, the Japanese government reserved the rights to repatriate the land it was giving up".
"It is said that upon hearing this conditions, Mr. Crowley just smiled to himself and said: 'It won't fail.' Before immediately accepting and starting to work on the blueprints of what now more than half a century after its founding, it's the center of the academic word with technology said to be 30 years more advanced than anything else in the world. The true city of tomorrow: Academy City!"
"For crying out loud, this reads like a theme park documentary!"
Kamijou slammed the book shut, taking some time to catch on his breath before putting the book back on its place.
"Is this magic spell? Or maybe collective hypnosis or some crap…? This isn't what I read last night!"
He managed to get a hold of himself just as he was about to lose it, touching his head once again with his right hand, trying to dispel something that just wasn't there.
Giving up, Kamijou Touma simply left the room and found himself without a place to go, he didn't feel like staying at school so he just quickly sneaked into his classroom and got his bag back. Luckily for him, Komoe-sensei noticed him, but let him go without trouble.
"She must have gotten the note already… Thank you Kanzaki."
It felt weird for him to thanks someone for knocking him unconscious, but what can you do about it?
"I guess I'll just take a walk…"
Taking some time to stroll around, Kamijou couldn't help but to notice how despite everything looking around the same as usual, for some reason he felt as if he was a stranger in his own city.
"It's like they never existed…"
It was probably how every trace of esper abilities seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth; usually you would see at the very least a few kids playing with them, or a teleporter gliding through the air or something; but now those memories seemed nothing more than a distant dream…
"Stop right there sir!"
Kamijou stopped himself as he noticed he was about to cross an intersection on a green light.
He jumped backwards when he felt a truck passing right in front of him, losing his balance and falling butt first into the ground.
"Sir you need to be more careful..."
"Sorry I was…"
But both stopped talking as their met, Kamijou easily recognizing the judgement member known as Shirai Kuroko.
"Oh, it's you…"
There weren't many changes to this girl, the only thing Kamijou could notice on first sight was that those weird belts filled with nails she carried on her legs were gone, replaced instead with a huge taser that looked far more threatening.
"Kamijou-san, I suppose that warning we gave you to refrain from your usual 'cough' vandalism might have affected you somehow, but that's barely a reason to throw your life away."
A single drop of sweat dropped down the back of Kamijou's head as he saw that Shirai was saying that without an ounce of sarcasm. It was in this moment he noticed the thing that changed the most about Shirai Kuroko, usually she would look at him with annoyance, if not pure hatred, however right now she was obviously… bored.
"Sorry, I just got lost in thought for a while…"
"That is no excuse, if you don't feel like paying attention to the street you're on then stay at home… Speaking about that shouldn't you be at school?"
"I got a note from the nurse to go home early today."
She extended her hand towards him. Kamijou however couldn't understand her gesture right away, it was only a few glares later that he got it, quickly pulled out his id from his wallet, and handed it over to her.
The girl lazily took it, and scanned it with a little terminal she had on her pocket.
"It seems your story is true…"
"Of course it is… Wait a minute, shouldn't you be a school?"
Shirai looked at him visibly annoyed by his lack of formality, something completely unwarranted considering Kamijou was her senior.
"Kamijou-san, I assume you haven't forgotten that Judgment members are allowed to skip school if there is a reason that requires them to do so… Today it just so happened that one of my coworkers was sick, and couldn't report to her morning patrolling duties."
She didn't say it, but Kamijou could easily hear "Not that's any of your business." at the end of her sentence.
"Anyway Kamijou-san, please be more careful in the future. I must now take my leave."
Then Shirai simply turned around and casually walked away, leaving the still sitting on the floor Kamijou to stare at her as she did.
"At least she's still the same…"
"What is that person doing sitting in the middle of the street, says Misaka as Mi… Ouch!"
"I told you to stop speaking like that! That verbal tic of yours needs to go."
The boy stood up as soon as he heard a familiar voice coming from behind him, turning around immediately he found the scene of a little girl whose cheek was being gently pulled by a dark haired boy who seemed familiar.
"I'm sorry, I'll stop… I promise."
"But I'll let you know it's not a verbal tic, it's a speech pattern."
The dark haired boy let go of her, and then turned his attention towards Kamijou. He stared at him for a while before suddenly having a realization.
He extended his arm to point at Kamijou, but stopped completely mid action for no apparent reason.
"Huh… Sorry, I…"
The dark haired boy didn't react to Kamijou's words and just stayed motionless.
"What's wrong? Hey isn't that the person that beat you in…?"
Reacting only when his little companion (Someone that upon further inspection the spiky haired hero could recognize as the 20001 SISTER he knew as Last Order) spoke to him.
"I said let's go. We need to get going towards your ballet lessons young lady."
Then he grabbed her hand and quickly walked away from Kamijou, who could only say:
"What was that all about?"
Before shaking his head, and forget about that pointless scene.
"This is getting weirder by the…" 'Growl!'
But his self-pity was interrupted by his stomach letting him know it was time to eat.
"I guess I'll just get some hamburgers or something…"
He quickly scanned the area around him and found the perfect place to eat and sulk for a while…
"Welcome to Joseph's Coffee and Restaurant! Are you by yourself sir?"
The waitress: a girl with her head tied in a ponytail, a little ahoge that was kind of cute and a smiley face as a decorative ornament on her apron, winked at him as she heard his answer.
"Great! Please follow me."
She took him through the restaurant to a little two people table in the back of the place.
"Here you go."
He took a seat, and then took the menu the waitress handed to him.
"I'll be back in a few minutes for your order."
He looked at the girl go to the table next to him and then around the restaurant, the whole place was completely full and he was lucky enough to get the last available table.
"I was lucky…? That's not a good sign, not a good sign at all!"
Yet before he could begin to sulk properly, Kamijou was interrupted by a familiar girl standing right beside him.
The girl seemed surprised at him mentioning her name, but didn't say anything and just stared at him, long enough to make Kamijou uncomfortable.
"I'm sorry, do I know you?"
It was only when she said those words that Kamijou noticed she wasn't wearing her usual clothes, or her iconic priestess costume; rather she was wearing the same uniform as Kazakiri Hyoka.
"Ah sorry, I just…"
"It's my hair isn't?"
Well it was true that Himegami's haircut did evoke the image of an ancient princess in Japanese mythology, but this was obviously not the reason Kamijou knew who she was.
Given his circumstances though, accepting her explanation seemed like the most reasonable thing to do.
"I see, you know a lot of people think I'm joking when I tell them that's my last name, but I… Oh sorry, how rude of me, I'm Himegami Aisa."
Then the girl made a little bow, this surprised the boy who quickly stood up in reaction and did the same.
"I'm Kamijou Touma."
"Nice to meet you, Kamijou-san."
"Same here Himegami-san. How can I help you?"
"Well you see Kamijou-san. I was wondering, since this place is full and you're by yourself… if you wouldn't mind I sat here and joined you for lunch."
After saying that, Himegami gave him a huge beautiful smile, and even with all the troubles that were haunting him, Kamijou had to admit that made his heart skip a beat.
Immediately before he could finish accepting her proposal, the girl just said "Thank you." and sat in the chair opposite to him.
"At least she isn't asking for money because she's beautiful this time."
Kamijou sat back again and then moved to pick his menu, however since there was only one on the table, both occupants tried to get it at the same time, causing their hands to touch.
"Oh I'm sorry…"
He noticed Himegami blushed a little when he touched her.
"It seems we're going to have to share."
Kamijou placed the menu in the middle of the table and then moved his head towards the center; at the same time, the girl in front of him did the same.
"Have you eaten here before Kamijou-san?"
"Yeah, it was kind of different back then, but yes."
"Anything you can recommend me? I just got to this city from the countryside so I'm not familiar with the food from this place."
"Countryside…? Erm… Well I suppose the hamburgers are pretty good."
He noticed the girl had a look of disappointment on her face.
"You don't like them?"
"No, I do… I was just expecting something more... You know, exotic."
A little drop of sweat when down the back of Kamijou's head as it finally dawned on him just how different was the Himegami in front of him from his Himegami.
"Well… there's a lamb burger with blue cheese and mushrooms."
"Lamb…? I think I want to try that."
He noticed the gluttony in Himegami's words as a little bit of droll made itself visible. But before he could say a comment about that, a female voice came from beside them.
"Are you two ready?"
It was the waitress, she eyed at Kamijou as if scolding him for lying about being alone.
Was all he could whisper to himself.
"I want to try the lamb burger."
"I'll take the classic."
"Understood! Would you like something to drink?"
"I want a soda, please."
Kamijou answered quickly while the girl hastily looked at the menu, as if she had forgotten she had to drink something.
"I think… I'll take some green tea."
"Ok… It'll be ready in a moment."
Then the waitress went away.
"Thanks a lot Kamijou-san. I'm surprised; my mother warned me that I should be careful around people from the city, but everyone I've met so far has been pretty nice."
"Well I won't tell you to be scared of everyone, but you should listen to your mother…"
Suddenly it hit him: Why was this Himegami so different from the girl he knew?
"Speaking about that Himegami-san, where are you from?"
She smiled as she played with her hair and eyed towards the direction the waitress left off.
"I'm from a little village near Kyoto. It's really small so I doubt you have heard of it."
If he remembered correctly Himegami's entire village had been wiped out by herself when a vampire turned the entire population into his kin. But this obviously wasn't the case now, so maybe…
"The best! I really love it! Everyone is like a big family, and I love them very much, that's why…"
If esper abilities don't exist in this world, then maybe Himegami's ability doesn't exist either.
"I decided to come to the city and study to become a doctor. The village is pretty far away from the nearest hospital and…"
And if 'Deep Blood' doesn't exist, then who can say that Vampires do either?
"I want to open a little clinic there and help everyone."
"Really? That's pretty noble of you."
"Oh, t'is nothing special ya hear me!"
Kamijou just stared at her, and then as she noted what he was doing she got terribly embarrassed as she noticed her neutral accent suddenly vanished for a second.
"I mean… it's nothing special really."
"Himegami… san, could it be you're actually a country bumpkin?"
"Of course not! It's just that when you live in the countryside the accent sticks to ya."
She instinctively covered her mouth embarrassed when she slipped again.
"Oh come on, it's nothing to be ashamed of."
"But my mother told me people from the city make fun of people like me, that's why I spent so many sleepless nights practicing to speak like this."
"Himegami… does that mean you actually…" 'giggle' "…You actually practiced speaking with a neutral accent? 'giggle!' Like I don't know, watching TV dramas and then acting them out with your friends?"
Kamijou had to muffle his laughter as she heard her whispering surprised: "how did you know?" and then turn bright red.
"Himegami? How rude! Mother was right, people from the city 'are' mean."
"Sorry, I'm sorry…"
But the girl would have none of it. She looked away from him, and pouted.
"I'm really sorry, ok? Plus it´s not your mannerisms I think are funny, if anything they make you cute. It's more how you try to hide them that it's just… hilarious." 'pffft'
Kamijou was completely aware he wasn't helping his cause one bit with that muffled laughter, but he honestly couldn't help it.
"Cute…? I'm cute you say?"
But the boy's laughter stopped when he noticed the girl turned fifty shades of red, covered her mouth with her hand, and looked down to her skirt.
"Just be yourself, ok?"
The girl snapped back at his words and took a moment to regain her composure, and clean her throat.
"Well, if you're really sorry I guess I can forgive you… Kamijou."
"That would be great… Himegami."
They both laughed together for a short while.
"Oh my! What do we have here?"
But they were cut short when they noticed the waitress was back with their food.
"Here's your lamb burger, and the classic."
The girl with the apron placed all the food and drinks on the table and quickly went away.
"Ok, let's try this thing."
Himegami picked up the burger and quickly took a bite out of it.
"Wow! This is delicious."
The boy did the same thing and quickly remembered how hungry he was. It was funny how a good conversation could make people forget anything, but once these two started eating, not a single word left their mouth until they were done.
The girl stretched her arms and then let them fall to her sides.
"Me too, I think they made this things bigger since the last time I was here."
Then the girl shook her head and quickly checked her phone.
"Anyway Kamijou, I think we should ask for the check, I need to get going."
Kamijou just nodded at her.
"But first I'd like to have your number if you don't mind."
As the two of them exchanged numbers, Kamijou noticed that there was no one named 'Himegami Aisa' on his contact list, and going down the list it became obvious there were missing several others.
"Are you ok Kamijou?"
But he didn't have a lot of time to dwell on the issue.
"Really? For a moment you looked really sad when you were checking your phone."
He just shook his head.
"It was nothing, sorry."
An awkward atmosphere was threatening to form around this two, but it was quickly dispelled by the sound of a little plate being dropped on the table.
"Here's your check."
Both of teenagers snapped out of it when they heard the voice of the waitress. Kamijou immediately reacted and tried to get his wallet.
"We should split this in half."
"Actually, about that Kamijou…"
Suddenly Kamijou braced himself for the worst, knowing his luck the words 'I left my wallet at home' would be uttered any time.
"I was thinking since you were so kind in letting me sit here, and you're the first friend I've made on the city… Well I wanted to invite you."
He couldn't help but to let go of his wallet and let it fall to his seat, this was the first time something like this happened to him ever since he could remember.
"Well that's very nice of you Himegami, but I…"
But before he could argue with her, the waitress came back and unceremoniously took the little plate with Himegami's cash card on it.
"You can leave the tip if you want though, I don't have a lot of cash on me."
Kamijou scrambled his wallet to pull out the appropriate tip, and then once he had it on his hand almost dropped it when she heard the girl in front of him giggling.
"What happened? Why are you giggling?"
"It's nothing I was just thinking about how lucky I am to meet someone like you Kamijou. Between you and the nuns I met earlier, I almost doubted what my mother said to me."
"Nuns? There were nuns in Academy City?"
The girl looked at him dumbfounded. It wasn't her fault though; someone like her would surely have no knowledge of the conflict between science and magic, and thus not found anything weird in finding nuns in Academy City.
"Yeah, they have a church and everything…"
Assuming said conflict still exists that is.
"You know I was nervous at first since I'm not a follower of their religion, but they were really nice to me and even gave me a few pointers."
"That's really nice… Listen could you tell me where is that church?"
"Sure, it's only a few blocks west from here."
In that moment the waitress was back with Himegami's cash card and receipt, they quickly left the place as it was still full and they didn't want to be a bother.
"Well Kamijou, it really was a pleasure to meet you."
The girl suddenly blushed bright red again and played with her fingers in front of her face.
"I was thinking… Since I don't know many people in the city… Could I call you to hang out together sometime?"
Kamijou smiled at her.
"Sure, anytime you want."
And in turn she returned his gesture with a beautiful smile of her own.
"Great! Now I must leave, I need to attend my evening classes."
"Ok Himegami, take care."
The girl just nodded at him with a smile still shinning on her face, and then quickly turned around and left.
"That was nice…"
Kamijou immediately shook his head and then remembered the words Himegami said but a few minutes ago.
"Yeah, they have a church and everything…"
"She said it was a few blocks west from here."
There was no reason for him to go visit that place, yet the simple novelty of seeing a church filled with nuns inside Academy City made the trip worth it.
"And here it is."
It was a small building, notably smaller than any other church he had ever seen. Yet despite this the place seemed fairly opulent, with great golden decorations, and a massive stained-glass window that probably cost more than his entire room by itself.
"Can I help you sir?"
And just as he was about to step in, he was greeted by a single nun cleaning the entryway.
"Eh, nothing I just wanted to…"
The nun immediately noticed Kamijou nervousness and smiled at him. The blond girl seemed familiar to him, but he couldn't quite place her.
"Oh is it the first time you're visiting our Church? Come on in…"
The girl stepped aside and made reverence. So formal Kamijou felt it would be rude if he didn't do as she said.
"No problem. Our next service starts in 30 minutes, please feel free to stay if you wish."
He entered the church and he was immediately wowed by it greatness. It was impossible to describe but the place seemed bigger and even more opulent on the inside: a giant cross made of gold, little stained-glass windows representing the fourteen stages of the cross, and a huge altar made of expensive looking marble.
"We've been getting lots of tourist ever since we reopened last month, mainly students that had never seen a church before…"
The nun had a huge smile from side to side of her face when she said those words, but their meaning was obviously not lost in Kamijou.
"Well I had seen a Church before, but this… This one is beautiful."
The girl nodded.
"Of course! Want to hear its story?"
While the boy though he had already studied enough history for a lifetime, he could feel the eagerness of the girl so he thought it would be rude to refuse.
"If you would be so kind."
For some reason Kamijou made a little reverence not unlike the one the nun did when she invited him in.
"It'd be my pleasure."
And humoring him, the girl responded in kind before starting with her explanation.
"This church was built when Academy City first opened its doors in 1958. The founder Sr. Edgar Alexander Crowley was not a believer of the Catholic faith, but he did believe that the city he was building should accept people from all faiths, so even on his first draft for Academy City he included at least one place of worship for all of the mayor religions. "
The girl kept walking through the church as he told him the story, forcing Kamijou to follow her.
"This place was chosen to house the Catholic faith. It was originally very humble, as the resources were tight during the construction, and since it was believed that there wouldn't be many people looking for a church in a city of science, they didn't even bother to give it a name."
Finally, the nun stopped when she reached the altar. This gave Kamijou time to appreciate the exquisite marble structure.
"And they were kind of right. There weren't many believers in the city at first; actually there have never been as far as I know… So while the church was always used as place of prayer by the few devouts that visited it, it inevitably deteriorated with time since we lacked the money for repairs."
Then the girls' smile turned even more warm, as if she was about to tell her favorite part of the story.
"It was then when one of the sisters from my congregation decided to make an effort to restore it. About two years ago she got a job as a waitress and donated 100% of her income to a fund for the restoration of the church. She was an inspiration for all of us, and soon everyone, even our former resident priest did the same… It was hard work since we had to attend to our duties inside the church as well, but nobody complained."
As she told her story, a couple of tears appeared on the edges of the girl's eyes.
"Of course the fact that so many nuns were working around the city made a lot of people curious, so we told them about our mission, and before we knew it we were receiving thousands of donations; many of them coming from people outside the faith. We received so much money we could've rebuild the entire church three times over if we wanted to, but the sister who started everything, said we should take what we needed, and donate the rest to a charity that helps orphan children in Academy City."
"I know what you're thinking, but we did donate the money… It just so happened that our cause made it to both the Vatican and the City Administration, and in a joint venture between the two organizations they decided to lend us the labor force, and pay for the materials for the restoration of the church… Resulting in this beautiful temple you see now."
And beautiful it was, Kamijou had seen a few pictures of several of the world's greatest Churches, and while this one wasn't anywhere near as big, in terms of beauty it had nothing to envy to those places.
"And to remember the one who started everything, everyone decided to name this previously nameless church in her honor."
"That was a great history."
"Yes! I'll always be thankful to the people of Academy City."
Kamijou looked at nun in front of him, literally bouncing of happiness and then shook his head.
"By the way sir, might I ask for your name."
"Of course, I'm Kamijou Touma."
"Nice to meet you Kamijou-san, I'm Sister Lucia."
The boy froze as he heard that name, upon further inspection this was the girl he knew as sister Lucia, blond hair and blue eyes intact. It was amazing how a simple smile could make someone look so different, especially someone who's always frowning like her.
"Same here… Anyway Sister Lucia, I need to leave now, but before I do could I ask you something?"
"Sure Kamijou-san, anything you wish?"
"What is the name of the sister…? I mean what is the name of this church?"
The girl smiled again and closed her eyes. You could tell she enjoyed answering that question.
"This is the Holy Church of Orsola Aquinas."
"I knew it…"
But soon her face was filled with curiosity when she heard Kamijou's words.
"Huh? What do you mean Kamijou-san? If you knew it then why…?"
The sister got closer to Kamijou, her face being so close to his that it made him feel a little uncomfortable.
"Erm… It's nothing…"
"What do you mean 'it's nothing'? It must be something, otherwise…"
"Sister Lucia, please don't bother our visitors…"
But she immediately pulled back when she heard a voice from behind her.
"I'm sorry Sister Agnese!"
And following said voice back to its source took you to a nun with red hair tied in braids Kamijou knew well, she got closer to Kamijou and bowed.
"I'm sorry for her behavior."
Embarrassed, Kamijou felt a cold drop of sweat going down the back of his head.
"It was nothing really."
"I see, thank you."
Both nuns bowed in unison, then as Sister Agnese was about to retreat. Sister Lucia seemed to get an idea.
"Kamijou-san, why don't you stay for our mass today? Sister Orsola will be officiating."
"Sister Lucia, I don't think he's interested in…"
"Actually, if you don't mind I would like to attend… I mean if it's ok with you…?"
Sister Agnese was taken by surprise by his comment, but quickly shook her head and regained her composure.
"Sure, everyone is welcomed in our church."
Sister Lucia smiled at him.
"Ok, we'll be back in a few minutes… please sit anywhere you like."
The boy picked a seat near the back of the church, and then as he waited more and more people entered the church. He didn't notice anyone he knew, but there were far more people that he would have guessed.
Then just as he was starting to get bored, Orsola Aquinas entered the hall accompanied by a little nun he recognized as Sister Angelene, who helped her carry the stuff she would need for the mass. As Sister Orsola got behind the altar, the little nun gave her a cross necklace full of beads.
"We'll begin by praying the rosary."
Then the ceremony began… Kamijou had never been in a mass for as long as he could remember, but he did knew a few details thanks to his roommate's tendency to talk about magical rituals, ceremonies or anything that crossed her mind. The most important thing he remembered was that he should stand, seat, or kneel when everyone else did.
Truth be told, there was no reason for Kamijou to be in this mass… No there was no reason for him to be in this church at all. He just wanted to see with his own eyes if it could be true, if the conflict between magic and science didn't exist anymore.
It was a foolish thought though. The existence of a church inside Academy City proved nothing; but seeing all these people, happily attending mass in the city of science without a care in the world… As if it was the most natural thing to do… Then maybe it might just be true.
"The mass is ended, go in peace."
"Thanks be to God!"
He snapped out of his train of thought when he noticed everyone was leaving, Kamijou quickly decided to do the same and finally go home.
As he was leaving, the boy found someone waiting for him at the door.
"Sister Lucia, what are you doing here?"
The girl smiled at him and then played with her fingers.
"I just wanted to know if you enjoyed attending mass today."
"Yeah, it was enjoyable; Sister Orsola is a good speaker."
"She is isn't she? Our former resident priest actually recommended her for the job, and everyone agreed she should do it."
Obviously he had paid the least amount of attention possible to the ceremony, but he had to admit he did found himself listening to her speech a few times.
"Anyway Kamijou-san, I just wanted to invite you to come again whenever you feel like it…"
The nun cleared her throat before saying her next words.
"I know you're not a believer in our church, but its doors are always open to anyone."
She made a small reverence again.
"Of course, but I don't know when I'll be able to come back…"
"Anytime you wish Kamijou-san, I'll be waiting for you."
The girl then smiled again and quickly said her goodbyes, getting back into the church to prepare for the next service. Upon seeing the image of the nun going back into the church, Kamijou could do nothing but to sigh.
"What am I supposed to do…?"
He shook his head and then turned towards the direction of his dorm.
"Is this because of the melancholy of a super powered high school girl? Or did I hit my head and fell into a coma…?"
The boy sighed as he walked, looking at the source of his misfortune in the form of his right hand.
"At least that would explain why my imagine breaker doesn't work…"
He touched his head again and gave another sigh, longer and stronger than the first.
"Those people on the church, they looked really happy."
Ever since he woke up in that hospital bed on that day, Kamijou never had much interest in religion, and since most of what he knew about it came from magicians or a certain magical index. He always thought of it as something extraordinary that defied his understanding of the world.
"I think I even saw a few people from my school, it was kind of nice."
So the most mundane part of it. The part of regular people showing their faith however they could was something he had never really seriously considered.
"What is this supposed to mean? Did the world mend itself when I wasn't looking? The only thing missing from this place are my lost memories."
He looked around the city and found a strange feeling… Many times had people complained that Academy City's light was only skin deep, that a horrible darkness lurked behind a fragile crust of brightness that could crumble at any minute, but that didn't seemed to be the case anymore.
There were no espers abusing their powers, no troublesome magicians running around, no vampires destroying the lives of his classmates, no apparent conflict between science and magic, and the most confusing part of everything was that the world seemed like a better place because of it.
As he walked through the city, this facts and conjectures paraded inside Kamijou's mind with no apparent solution: Why did everything change? Could it be reversed…? And more importantly, should he try?
"Argh! This is pointless…"
He sighed again, and then quickly looked at the source of his misfortune.
"Now that I think about it, if espers don't exist, and assuming magicians don't either… Then does my imagine breaker…?"
The boy stopped dead on his tracks as he heard a voice he knew quite well coming from behind him.
"I finally found you… you know that was really sneaky of you; quitting while you're ahead."
Kamijou scratched the back of his head and sighed
"I knew it was you… Biri Biri."
"Hey… what's with that face? And isn't about time you started calling me by my name?"
"I've heard that one before…"
Standing right in front of him was the girl he knew as the third ranked esper of Academy City: Misaka Mikoto, clad in her characteristic Tokiwadai Uniform.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
She looked at him visibly annoyed by his comment.
"Nothing much… Anyway what can I do for you Misaka-sama?"
He made a little bow, which unfortunately made him miss the moment the Tokiwadai's ace annoyance turned into anger.
"Stop that! I've come to settle our score once and for all."
"What do you mean with: settle our score?"
Kamijou honestly had no idea. Unless she happened to be the only person in this city who was still an esper, whatever score she wanted to settle was unknown to him.
"I told you to stop feigning innocence! As Academy City's number 3, I can't allow myself to let you walk away with a victory over me."
Maybe she was talking about Academics? Nah it couldn't be, she was still in middle school and… Well last time the boy tried to study with her, she ended up helping him with his homework.
The girl then pulled out something from his bag, Kamijou braced himself as he noticed she pulled out a… Card deck?
"I modified the entire strategy of my Railgun deck just to beat your Illusion breaker. There's no way I can lose now!"
"So that's it?"
Kamijou felt a weight being lifted from his shoulder.
"I'm sorry Misaka-san; I don't have my deck with me…"
He could instantly notice the disappointment that appeared on the number 3.
"So it is true…"
And then that disappointment made a few tears appear on her eyes.
"I heard rumors about it, but is it really true that you are retiring?"
"Just what kind of… I mean yeah, I need to focus on school… I even sold my deck and everything."
Kamijou took a moment to lament the fact he was getting used to telling lies. That could wait for another time though, since as soon as he said those words the girl's deck slipped and fell to floor. Luckily there was no wind to blow the cards away.
"I… I… I see…"
The Tokiwadai's ace hastily picked up her cards and put them back into her bag.
"Sorry I've bothered you then."
Then immediately she turned around to flee.
He grabbed the girl by her forearm before she could run away; he didn't really know why he did that though, for all he knew this was another Mikoto, different from the one he knew… But he did know stopping her was the right thing to do.
"What do you want? Let me go!"
The girl tried to get her arm free, but he held her tight.
"Listen, I know we can't play cards but… since you're here, want to join me for some coffee?"
Mikoto stopped struggling when she heard that, taking some time to calm herself before turning around.
"I would love to."
Her expression had gone back to something closer to the Mikoto he knew would have, but there was still something off about her.
"Perfect! I know of a place nearby where we can get some…"
Mikoto happily followed him, but as they made their way towards their destination, the ace began to notice they weren't going to the commercial district where all the great coffee shops were. They were entering a park instead.
"Wait a minute!"
Kamijou stopped right on the spot he was, wondering what had he done wrong this time.
"I thought you said you wanted to have a cup of coffee?"
"Yeah, we can buy some on this vending machine."
The girl sighed.
"You need to learn how to…"
But she cut her sentence short when she noticed Kamijou was in the vending machine, buying their drinks and paying no attention her.
"Oy Misaka-san! Do you want hot coffee or iced coffee?"
Then she sighed again.
"Anything will do…"
"Hot coffee it is then!"
"You're so dense…!"
She whispered to herself.
"Huh? Did you say something Misaka-san?"
He offered the can of coffee to the girl.
She picked it up carefully as if to not burn her hand.
"We can sit here."
Then the boy pointed at nearby bench, the girl just nodded; as they got besides the bench, Kamijou did a reverence and stood aside.
"After you Misaka-san."
Mikoto on her part, being more annoyed than flattered just sighed.
"Misaka-san this, Misaka-san that… You know, I don't like it!"
"Erm! You don´t like… What Misaka-san?"
Kamijou was totally clueless of what Mikoto was thinking, and this only helped to make her annoyance even greater.
"Exactly that! You're my senior you know, you can drop the formalities."
The boy just stared at her in disbelief, unsure of what to do. Mikoto on her part just laughed.
"What's with that face huh? I'm telling you can call me M.i.s.a.k.a… Heck Mikoto is fine too if you wish. I'd even prefer it to avoid you finding another me and have a case of mistaking identity."
It's important to note she actually made a pointing gesture with her index finger each time she mentioned a letter when she spelled her last name…
"Erm… I mean… Sure Mikoto… But what do you mean finding another you?"
She surely couldn't mean… Maybe the SISTERS project still existed? In that case how did that even work if there was no Radio Noise to tie the MISAKA network together? Maybe…
"Oh, I've never told you have I? I have two younger sisters just like me, we 're triplets."
Immediately she pulled out her phone and showed him a picture of her and two other girls just like her.
"Oh I see…"
"You know I love my sisters very much, but I don't like when people call me 'Misaka' because it can be confusing when everyone is together."
For some reason, the image of a teacher calling for 'Misaka-kun' to solve a problem on the blackboard, and three different girls standing up at the same time appeared on Kamijou's mind.
"I see. That must be really confusing."
Mikoto smiled at him.
"Right isn't it? And to make things even more confusing, the other two have this weird speech pattern when they say their names after every sentence… It's cute at first, but it gets annoying after a while and to make things worse the little one started to copy them."
The ace made a surprised face and quickly whispered "Yeah, I forgot to tell you about her." Before searching on her phone for another picture, in this one there seemed to be three Misaka's just like Mikoto, a much younger Misaka, an older Misaka, a Misaka slightly older than the last, and a middle aged man.
"This is my dad; he's a really important person… I don't know exactly what he does, but mommy says he's correcting what is wrong in the world."
Mikoto became completely absorbed in the picture; it was easy to see she enjoyed talking about her family.
"This is my annoying older sister; seriously she's literally the WORST person you'll ever meet."
Now that he thought about it, Kamijou realized the Mikoto he knew was an only daughter, every single one of her sisters was nothing but a clone… and at least 10.031 of those clones were dead. He would never see his Mikoto talking like this about his sisters.
"This one in the middle is me, to my right is my sister Ichigo. She's the only one of us that doesn't live in Academy City, that's because she managed to skip a grade and got accepted into some high school in a town called Nishinomiya. Anyway, to my left is my other sister…"
"Hey you kids! What are you doing in our bench?"
But her explanation was cut short when they noticed a gang of thugs surrounding them.
"What seems to be the problem sir?"
Kamijou immediately stood up and tried to reason with them, something he thought would be ultimately useless but at least it let him buy some time to analyze the situation. There were five people in all and he could notice two of them carried what appeared to be knives in their pockets. Unfortunately for the boy with the imagine breaker, the disappearance of esper powers meant people were less likely to throw fireballs at him and more likely to have weapons.
"What do you mean what's the problem? That's our bench you and your little girlfriend are using."
Judging by the situation it seemed to Kamijou the wisest course of action would be to flee. Normally he could punch one of them and start running, chances are they would give chase, but with Mikoto right beside him that wasn't a possibility.
She wasn't the Tokiwadai Railgun anymore, just a regular middle school girl; so he couldn't just count on her to fry them if they didn't chase him.
But Kamijou's analysis was cut short when he saw the figure of one of the thugs flying in front of him into the ground, and more importantly the figure of a regular middle school girl throwing a man more than twice her size without a problem.
"What are you doing? Run!"
Immediately after her judo demonstration, Mikoto grabbed Kamijou by his hand and ran through the opening caused by the thug falling, leaving the rest of the group behind them before they had a chance to know what hit them.
"What the heck was that?"
"Do you always have to ask stupid questions? Just run as fast as you can!"
And that they did. The boy didn't really had a way of knowing for sure, but he estimated they ran around two kilometers in ten minutes. They never even saw the thugs chasing them; they never had a chance to catch up after the first sprint.
"Hah…!" pant! "I think we lost them…"
Kamijou wasn't really exhausted, but he was visibly tired, his body was sweating like crazy and his breathing was still heavy.
"Yeah, so it seems… Lucky!"
Mikoto on her side looked as if she just had her morning jog.
"What do you mean 'Lucky'? Why did you do that?"
She giggled at him while she made a pose.
"You mean that throw and escape maneuver? I only thought that was the best course of action, I mean you were thinking of doing the same right?"
Looking at her Kamijou found no strength on his body to be mad at her.
"I was thinking a punch to the head would've done the trick just fine."
"I knew it! I can read you like an open book."
Mikoto made a little jump to celebrate her 'victory'.
"Just where did you learn to do that? I mean the judo stuff."
"Oh that? Daddy made everyone take self defense classes. I'm telling you those guys were lucky, my older sister carries a huge taser that can output more 10.000 volts and my younger sister a fully automatic rifle that shoots rubber bullets that hurt like hell."
And just as he was finished recovering his composure, the couple was interrupted by another girl who looked just like Mikoto. They had the same face, body type, uniform and everything else, the only notable differences was the Mikoto wore a flower pin on her head, while the other one had a cute heart shaped necklace.
"Oh it's you…"
"Oneesama, what are you doing here…? Misaka inquires on the location of her sister."
Mikoto from her part just sighed.
"There's that speech pattern again. Can't you speak like a regular person for once?"
"No, it's my endearing character trait… Misaka explains the secret of her popularity."
"There you go again…"
A little drop of cold sweat when down through the back of Kamijou's head as he watched the scene unfolding in front of him. Seeing the Misaka sisters arguing so casually made him a little awkward to say the least.
"And what do you have to say Oneesama? Being out so late with…"
Suddenly Misaka Imouto stopped moving as she looked at Kamijou's face. Had the lighting been better, the boy would've seen a shade of redness slowly appearing on her cheeks.
"It's Misaka's savior… Misaka says as her heart skips a beat."
"Huh? What do you mean by that…?"
But she snapped out of it as soon as Mikoto called her attention.
"Nothing you should be concerned about Oneesama… Misaka says trying to hide her embarrassment."
Immediately Misaka Imouto grabbed her older sister forearm and turned towards Kamijou.
"Thank you for taking care of Oneesama Touma-kun, but we need to get going before mother gets mad at us… Misaka says noticing we have five minutes before curfew. I'll call you… Misaka whispers secretly."
Then she bowed and as she raised her head again. Kamijou could see how she quickly winked and blew a kiss at him.
"Hey why did you…? Wait a minute! Five minutes? Why didn't you say that in the first place? Let's run!"
Both sisters didn't even wait for Kamijou's response before sprinting away, getting out of his sight in less than a few seconds.
"Well, that was… Unexpected. 'Sigh!' I better go home now, before I get interrupted by some other alternate reality version of somebody that I used know."
The boy quickly checked his surroundings and found that in their sprint, he had gotten considerably closer to his dorm.
On his way home, Kamijou found absolutely no problems whatsoever, opening the door to his apartment less than fifteen minutes after saying goodbye to the Misaka sisters.
He took his bag and tossed it into his bed, and then he grabbed an empty cup from his cupboard.
"I need some cold water…"
As soon as he opened the door of his fridge, the cup fell to the floor.
"What is this supposed to mean?"
Kamijou's face turned pale as he noticed how his fridge was full of all kinds of food: meat, eggs, cheese, ham, anything one could think of was there.
"Don't tell me…"
He looked around the room, trying to find at least one sign of someone else being there, but it was all for naught.
"I guess I should've seen this coming."
The boy's shoulder's dropped as low as they could get before he gave one last sigh.
"I don't care anymore…"
And just like that, the boy simply tuned off the lights and went to sleep.
The next day started as usual, with a morning alarm that was just way to noisy. Kamijou woke up and looked around his bed, not really sure what to expect, the images of a dream involving himself and a few girls he knew crawling through dungeons with somewhat skimpy clothing still lingering on his mind.
"Index, are you in the…?"
But the bathroom door opened by itself, revealing that Kamijou Touma was in fact alone in his apartment.
"I guess not…"
He took a quick bath, and then prepared himself a generous Japanese breakfast with all of the bases covered.
"I made too much…"
The boy then sighed, and lazily put all the food he couldn't eat into the fridge, finally opening the door of his apartment to face the outside world.
"Good morning Kamiyan!"
Only to be greeted by his dark haired neighbor.
"Good morning Tsuchimikado…"
"What's with that face Kamiyan? The morning´s beautiful and the… Woah! What are you doing man?"
But the neighbor's cheerfulness was interrupted by Kamijou putting his right hand on top of his head for what appeared to be no apparent reason what so ever.
"It's still dark…"
"What you mean my hair? Of course it is! What other color would it be? It's been like this ever since I was born."
"You should dye it, I think blond would look good on you."
"You know, I was actually thinking about that the other day, but I don't know if…"
But Tsuchimikado was interrupted by the voice of a young maid coming from behind his door, before he had a chance to respond, the door opened.
"You forgot you lunch… Oh! Good morning Kamijou."
The maid gave him a gracious reverence and then gave her brother a huge lunchbox.
With that, the little maid just gave a small bow and retreated back inside her brother's house.
"Anyway, as I was saying Kamiyan. I was thinking of dying my hair, but I don't think my sister would like it."
"I see… It must be nice, having a little sister living with you."
When he heard the boy´s words, a huge grin formed in Tsuchimikado's face, the kind Kamijou knew he was up to something.
"You have no idea Kamiyan… By the way have you thought about that mission I told you the other day?"
Suddenly Kamijou's face got brighter. After all it was true that esper powers disappeared from this world anymore, but that didn't mean Magic did too.
"Don't you remember Kamiyan? I was planning on teaming up with the battle nuns and take on the God's right seat this weekend."
That sounded like something the Tsuchimikado Motoharu he knew would say, Kamijou's mind filled with joy; maybe there's some magician that knew what happened who could help him…
"That's why I need the help of a certain retired miracle player to…"
But of course, his illusions had to be broken.
"Wait a minute… Are you talking about card games?"
Tsuchimikado suddenly shook his head and his index fingers in a perfect rhythm.
"No no no no no Kamiyan, it's not just a simple card game… It's Academy Battle: Science is magic! Which is very different and much more exciting. "
"Oh come on Kamiyan! Don't tell me you don't miss it? I mean just a few months ago you were playing against the number one in the city to get back that middle school girl's cat, don't you remember how awesome that was?"
"No way Kamiyan! There's just no way that you don't remember! I mean just that move when you played the ultimate nullifier against his vector redirection was simply insane."
"Can't say I remember that."
This routine was repeated over and over again until they reached school, and a couple of times after that.
"Good morning everyone."
Once in his classroom, Kamijou had to deal with the consequences of his behavior yesterday. Nothing particularly worse than a few stares and maybe a couple of harsh words, at least until his teacher decided to talk to him.
"Kamijou-chan, I heard yesterday you got into an accident and hit your head… Are you ok now?"
"Yeah, I still got a light headache but I'm fine otherwise."
The little pink haired teacher let out a sigh of relief upon hearing those words.
"I see… That's great Kamijou-chan, the nurse told me she feared you might have gotten permanent damage to your head, and that you were lucky your cranium didn't get fractured."
"What do you mean permanent damage?"
"Anyway, I was thinking about it and I decided to let you repeat yesterday's test after school tomorrow. I shouldn't be doing this Kamijou-chan, but considering the circumstances I believe it's the right thing to do."
"Thank you very much Komoe-sensei… Now about that permanent damage thing we were talking about…"
"So I hope you take this opportunity to study for the test this time."
After saying that, the little teacher didn't even wait for an answer and just moved on to her class.
Kamijou spent the entire morning in school. It felt awfully familiar to him, the lack of esper powers didn't seem really an issue, and most of the class dynamic was pretty much intact… To be perfectly honest, at the end of the day he felt that the lack of Himegami made for a much pronounced difference.
"I suppose she must be at her school…"
He glanced at the empty spot that used to be hers; for what he could gather from his classmates, it seemed that was the seat of Suzumiya Haruhi nowadays.
"And I suppose she must be doing idol stuff."
But regardless of who owned the seat, the boy felt it was it being empty that bothered him the most.
"I guess it's not like being in the same classroom with Suzumiya-san is something new, I mean just a month ago I was with her and…"
Suddenly Kamijou got an idea, a little glimmer of hope that could help him make sense of what happened to the world.
It was a chance in a million, but he did remember him telling him that he was used to stuff like this happening, so maybe…
"I wonder if I still got his phone number… I think I saw it yesterday…"
He hastily pulled out his phone, checking his contact numbers until he find just the one he needed.
"Lucky…! I´m getting used to this and that's not good."
The boy lamented his misfortune once again before sending him a message: "Did the world changed for you too?" He would've preferred calling, but he was still in class.
"Please open your textbooks in page 210."
It seemed like he got something to do while he waited for an answer. He quickly pulled out his copy of 'History of Academy City' and opened it on the indicated page.
"The level scale as a way to measure the strength of the ability of an esper was first established in…"
"What is this?"
Kamijou hastily did a double take, checking out every page of the book he was holding until he finally got to a simple conclusion.
"Could it be…? I was holding this book during the whole night… This is it!"
But he was quickly brought back to reality by his teacher. Then he shrank a little when he looked around the classroom and noticed everyone's eyes were fixed on him.
"What is it Komoe-sensei?"
"I'm happy you enjoy history lessons, but could you please be quiet."
He just gave a little nod and buried his face into the book.
Before laughing to himself, and keep on reading his book. He never would've thought the history of Academy City… The real Academy City could be such an enjoyable read.
It was only a few minutes later when he heard it: 'Bleep!' the little sound that indicated his phone got a message, and luckily for him it was from the person he expected.
"Somewhat… Is it the same in Academy City? Is Haruhi over there? Do you remember everything?"
A drop of cold sweat went down the boy's head as he read the message; it seemed he wasn't the only one suffering through this situation.
"Yes, yes and yes."
He simply answered his questions.
Their conversation was brief and to the point, the boy from North High hadn't really given Kamijou any specifics, most likely because he didn't knew them himself. But they agreed to rendezvous in his apartment later tonight.
"I hope Kyon-san doesn't have problems getting here."
Luckily for them it seemed this new Academy City had much laxer requirements for someone to enter… Or at least that was Komoe-sensei told him when he interrupted her class just to ask that question.
"She didn't take that too well…"
But it mattered not. For the first time in nearly a day and half Kamijou felt relaxed, as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and just as the final bell marked the end of school for the day, Kamijou Touma began his route back to his apartment.
The boy walked down the street about as fast as he could. He just messaged the boy from North High with his address and he should be on his way now.
"I hope we can figure this out together. Man I was so lucky to still have his phone numbers with so many people missing."
He put his phone back into his pocket and then just enjoyed the scenery as he walked back home. It was amazing how commuting through Academy City every day made someone forget just how stunning this place could be.
It was on this very same route that Kamijou spotted the same dark haired boy he saw with Mikoto's little sister yesterday. He was sitting alone in a bench that just so happened to be in the way of the boy's route. The spiky haired boy wondered whether or not it was good idea to talk to him, especially after what Tsuchimikado told him happened between the two.
"Hmpf! What do you want?"
But as he was making himself those questions, the dark haired boy spotted Kamijou looking at him.
"Can I sit here?"
At the very least, Kamijou thought he could try to talk to him. If he was correct with his assumptions, this dark haired boy was supposed to be Academy City's number 1: Accelerator.
"Heh! I don't care, do as you wish!"
He sat besides the dark haired boy, unsure about how to start a conversation. In the few seconds of uncomfortable silence that followed, he quickly noticed the physical differences between the Accelerator he knew and this one.
His hair was a dark shade of brown that was near black, close to the one Tsuchimikado had; meanwhile his skin was somewhat darker or at the very least not anywhere near as pale as before. He remembered someone theorizing that Accelerator's albino like appearance was because he used his vector redirection to deflect the sun's radiation since he was little, so this is probably what he would like if he didn't… He still looked a little bit like a wimp though.
"I heard you're retiring."
And just as he finished his assessment, the dark haired boy spoke to him about the same thing Tsuchimikado had been bothering him this morning.
"Yeah, I even sold my deck and everything."
He heard a small grunt coming from the dark haired boy.
"Quitting while you're ahead? Coward!"
"It's not like that; I just need to focus on my studies and…"
"Whatever your reasons got nothing to do with me, but… I suppose I'll regret not having the chance for a rematch."
Accelerator giggled to himself, and then stood up.
"Still I suppose I should be thankful. Thanks to you I was able to detect the weakness of my vector redirection deck, plus…"
The number 1 looked away as he said his following words.
"That penalty of babysitting that little girl… The brat is annoying, but I suppose it has helped me mature somewhat, so…"
Finally he turned around and bowed.
"Thanks a lot Sempai!"
Accelllerator nodded satisfied at his answer and quickly turned around and left. Leaving Kamijou behind as he wondered why he even humored him.
"I guess it was just the right thing to do…"
"Excuse me sir, could you help me with some directions?"
Immediately as the number 1 esper was leaving the scene, Kamijou was surprised by a voice he knew quite well. He slowly turned around hoping to find exactly what he did, a little silver haired nun named Index. She wasn't dressed with her iconic white and golden habit though; rather she wore a pair of dark blue jeans, a green shirt and an unbuttoned blue sport jacket that was almost the same color as her jeans. This combined with a subtle but still noticeable amount of make-up in her face and the way she tied her beautiful long hair in a braid made her look completely different from the nun he knew.
Learning nothing from his experiences with the other Himegami, he blurted out her name as soon as he saw her. However her reaction couldn't be more different from that of the other girl.
"Indekusu…? Is that a word for foreigner? Or maybe it's a greeting? "
The nun said something in English and then pulled out a little book from her jacket titled: 'Common Japanese Idioms'; quickly flipping through it for a while before getting visibly frustrated.
"I can't find it! Did I miss it the first time around? Oh well, I guess I'll research it later."
"Erm, sorry can I… "
"I am trying to reach… wait that should be… find this hotel."
The nun handed him a piece of paper which was a pamphlet of a hotel, reluctantly the boy took it and tried to make sense of the situation.
"This hotel is on school district 3, and we're in district 7 right now. You need to take a bus that'll get you there."
Index looked at him with a face that told him that she didn't understand a single word she said.
"Sorry, I'll speak slower… The hotel is on district 3. You need to take a bus."
She listened carefully before nodding.
"Got it, thanks a lot sir."
The nun looked around the street she was on, before turning to Kamijou once again.
"Might I ask where could I find a bus stop nearby?"
The boy gave a little sigh before speaking to her slowly once again.
"It's a little complicated, I'll take you there."
The girl only needed a fraction of a second to understand his words this time; she smiled and nodded at him.
"Thanks a lot sir…?"
"I'm Kamijou Touma."
"Nice to meet you Touma-san, I'm… Wait, that's his first name isn't it? I screwed up…"
He noticed the girl looking down. He couldn't quite get her English earlier, but he had an idea of what could be bothering her.
"It's okay. You can call me Touma if you wish."
"I see, thank you very much."
"No problem. You should be careful though; some people will think it's rude if you skip formalities just like that."
"Of course, I will be careful from now on Touma."
The girl nodded at him once again with a smile.
"So shall we go now?"
"Ok, follow me please."
The girl nodded again and did as she was told, it seemed she did know Japanese well enough, but had troubles understanding when people spoke to her. At least that was the conclusion Kamijou arrived after their small conversation.
"First time in Academy City?"
"Yeah, I won a vacation trip in the church's fund raiser."
"That was very lucky."
"Incredibly lucky! I have been studying Japanese for a few years now, and I never thought I'd have a chance to visit this country."
"Really, where are you from?"
"I am from the United Kingdom."
Kamijou glanced to his side and noticed Index casually strolling with a smile on her face. Luckily for him it seemed once she relaxed her Japanese started to flow much better.
"I see… Well welcome to Academy City…"
"Thank you very much."
"Granted, this is not exactly Japan."
The girl pouted a little, but otherwise her attitude remained the same.
"I know that, but it is as close as its going to get for me for now."
"And I hope you enjoy our city, did you arrive today?"
"Yeah, they sent my baggage directly to the hotel from the airport, so I thought I should do some sightseeing."
"And then you got lost."
He noticed a couple of veins appearing on the nun's forehead.
"Yeah, I did…"
And with that discovery, Kamijou wisely thought to change to theme of the conversation.
"So, are you interested in Japanese culture? I mean since you were taking classes…"
Luckily for him it worked, and those veins disappeared from her forehead as quickly as they appeared.
"Well kind of… Originally I just wanted the extra credits and I thought Japanese would be more fun than the other options, but once I started learning about it I did became more and more interested on it."
Suddenly the girl's eyes got all misty as she played with her index fingers pushing them tip to tip.
"But it is kind of hard, there is a lot of stuff to remember and I always get nervous and forget the details. This morning I misread a couple Kanji in a menu and ended up having to eat rice cakes for lunch, then I messed up my pronunciation and I think I somehow insulted the waitress, because she got really upset when I tried to tell her what I really wanted to eat… It was not a fun meal."
A drop of cold sweat when down Kamijou's forehead as he heard Index speaking, it was as if her Japanese got better the more they talked, and he found out that as long as he kept his pronunciation clean and didn't use the most complicated words she could understand him just fine. With just their short conversation he ended up with the conclusion that this Index actually had a great understanding of spoken Japanese, but her nervousness got the better of her. This also meant that this Index probably didn't have a photographic memory either.
"I can imagine that, listen… Mind if I ask you something about your church? I mean I'm assuming you're an Anglican right?"
Suddenly a huge smile appeared across her face.
"That is correct Touma, more specifically I am part of the Church of Necessarius."
As she said that Touma froze, so far he had seen how esper powers were nowhere to be seen on this world, but he wasn't really sure if magic still existed, so maybe if she…
"It is a special branch of the Anglican Church that has people from all religions coming together to try a do what's necessary to make a better world through charity."
Or maybe magic didn't exist either. Of course Kamijou knew her words weren't really proof since she could be hiding her true identity or be living outside the influence of the magic side… But since magicians lived in hiding, then how could he ever be sure if they still existed?
"That's sounds very… nice."
He expected the little nun to smile, but instead her face changed to something that could only be described as melancholy.
"It does sound nice, but I am not really sure we are actually doing anything."
"What do you mean?"
"Touma, have you ever wondered why the world is the way it is?"
"Well, sometimes but I…"
"The world is the way it is because people made it that way. Nearly everything in the world whether good or bad, is like that because that's the way society evolved over our history."
Kamijou was unsure to tell her the world used to be very different for him a couple of days ago, but seeing Index so engrossed in her speech made him stay quiet.
"Simply putting a band-aid over a problem does not make it disappear; only getting to the root of the issue and solving it is the only way to really make a change. The things we do at Necessarius are like that, we do not really solve anything, just help at whoever we can."
It was in this moment where Touma could see just how different this Index was from his Index. They both had their hearts in the right place, but this one had a more down to earth personality that somehow clashed with the more childish Index he knew.
"But even if you can't change anything, you just can´t ignore it."
The girl giggled, keeping a sad smile over her face.
"Of course, even if it is just one person I would like to help whoever I could, but I just… I… I would love to live in a world where bad things didn't happen."
As soon as she made her declaration, silence reigned between the two. It was only a moment later, when the uncomfortable silence made the girl embarrassed that she quickly shook her head and tried to improve the mood.
"What am I saying Touma? Sorry for bothering you like that."
"No… Its okay, listen the bus stop is right there."
The girl turned around and noticed the little shack, and also that was a bus was about to arrive.
"And if I'm not mistaken, that one should take you to your hotel."
"I see… Thank you very much Touma, listen before we part ways could I ask you for your number."
They quickly exchanged numbers, and in a twist of fate, Kamijou noticed the number of this Index and his Index were the same, something completely improbable since her phone line was surely from the UK.
"Thank you, you are the first Japanese person I have ever met, so I would love to stay in contact."
"Sure, anytime you want."
"Well then, I must leave now Touma."
Index nodded at him with a cute smile, then she turned around and ran towards the bus, leaving Kamijou alone in the middle of the street, once the bus was out of sight, the boy dropped his head.
"A world where bad things don't happen… Kind of like… This one?"
A certain dormitory:
I must admit I was pretty surprised when I woke up a couple of days ago and found that the world had changed during my sleep. I was just like a movie I saw once, I believe it was called: The Disappearance of… of… I can't remember the whole title, but it was pretty good, so check it out if you can.
Granted there were a few differences, for an example when the main character in that movie had to look for the heroine, he didn't end up having to take a two hour trip to a city that technically wasn't even in the same country.
It was a pretty strange coincidence, just as I was about to give up searching for her, I get a message from Touma of all people who tells me she's in Academy City of all places… Granted, with all that happened so far, I suppose I should've seen this coming.
Luckily for me, this version of Academy City is considerably friendlier to outsiders, and they easily sold me a two day visa to stay for tourism, hurray! Now if only everything else had been just as easy. I had a lot of trouble moving around the city, since the last time I was here the guides didn't tell us much about public transportation other than it operates by itself, and there's also the fact that once I finally arrived at Touma's apartment he wasn't home.
What to do? What to do? I tried calling him but the call wouldn't connect and he doesn't seem to be getting my messages. I suppose I should wait for him, but I don't think hanging around suspiciously in an apartment block is good idea, let me think… Oh! Isn't this place close to that park I went with Haruhi? I'm not really sure, but I think going there and back for a drink beats standing here until Touma get's home.
Turned the park was a little farther away than I thought it was, but it doesn't really matter I guess. The sun was already setting when I spotted the familiar looking vending machine in the distance. Seeing that thing somehow brings bad memories of something that happened not too long ago, but I hope this one won´t transport me to a different dimension or something.
Huh! I heard a familiar voice coming from beside the machine, and a quick look revealed to me that it was the person I've been looking for slumped over a bench looking all tired. I decided to buy some coffee from both of us and then approached him.
He raised his head slowly, and I could notice his face looked terrible: all tired and sad. Upon seeing me both of those emotions left his face though, but there was still a hint of melancholy lingering.
I gave him one of the cans I got and he took it without a thought, but instead of opening it, he kept it on his hands to get some warm.
I took the chance to sit next to him. There was a brief moment of uncomfortable silence after that before he spoke to me.
"Kyon-san… What is going on?"
"I'm not really sure. I suppose it has something to do with Haruhi, but I honestly got no idea."
"Suzumiya-san? Figures, I suppose I should've seen that coming."
"But I got a message from one of my friends…"
"You got a message? You mean to tell me there are other people who remember the world from before besides us?"
"Well not exactly. It's from the girl you say it's an Angel, but she's completely different now… It seems before the changed she managed to leave me a message."
I handed him the bookmark I got from the literature club copy of 'The Fall of Hyperion', he looked at it for a few seconds and then read it aloud.
"Program run condition: Collect the keys. Deadline: Two days later."
Then he gave it back to me.
"What is this supposed to mean?"
"I'm not sure, but I think that if I manage show this message to Haruhi we can figure out how to turn the world back to how it used to be."
"Turn it back…"
It was weird, as soon as I mentioned that, Touma slowly shrank on his seat, and the little melancholy I spotted before grew deeper on his face.
"You know Kyon-san: there are no espers on this world, and I think there is no magic either."
Well I suppose I should've seen that coming, back in North High's literature club the Ichigo-san who was with Nagato didn't seem to have her powers.
"You know there's a girl I knew back in the previous world. She had a special ability and someone forced her kill her entire family and her whole village with it, thanks to that incident she suppressed her emotions and suffered a lot… But here she never had to kill anyone. She's just a happy country girl looking to become a doctor to help the village she murdered in her other life"
I see… Wait, why are you telling me this Touma?
"… And she's not the only one, there's another girl I know who had to live with the burden of thousands of her clones being slaughtered by someone. Here the whole thing is like a bad dream, her clones became her sisters and now she lives happily with a huge family… Even the one who did the slaughter is better off, now he's just a kid who plays a lot of card games, but his heart is in the right place."
Touma shrank even more.
"And there's this other girl… Back in our world she was really childish and never acted her age. Her church forced her to remember some horrible books that could destroy her mind, and then they wiped out her memories every year to prevent her from knowing too much, so she never had a chance to grow up naturally… Here she's an honest girl that seriously tries her best to make the world a better place."
"Ever since I can remember all I wanted to do was become a hero, to help people that need to be saved… But is it not better to have a world where people don't need to be saved? Where heroes just aren't needed anymore?"
"So what are you trying to tell me Touma? Do you think this world is fine? That we should do nothing and stay in this world?"
"It's not like that, but I…"
"Listen, of course I know what you're talking about… This is a world that's not chained into will of one person, but don't you think the people we left behind deserve better? Don't you think the Index-san or the Misaka-san we left behind deserve some happiness too?"
"Don't get me wrong, I kind of like this world… But this is just an illusion, and aren't you always saying that illusions must be broken? What happened with that?"
I don't remember at which point in that conversation we stood up, neither who threw the first punch, but before I knew it Touma's right hand was deep into my stomach while I returned the favor with mine into his collarbone.
I moved my head to my left to evade a jab of his aimed to my face, I tried to counter with a hook that managed to hit him slightly on his side, but he brushed it off and hit me square on the jaw with a right upper that hurt like hell.
There wasn't really any malice in our punches though; rather I believe they were the culmination of the stress we had build up during this last two days that just needed to vent itself somehow. I don't remember exactly for how long they went on either, the next thing I knew was that we both had our right hand clenched into fists buried into the other face, and then we collapsed on the floor at the exact same time.
"You have a mean right Kyon-san…"
"You too, my guts will be remembering it for a while… Touma"
"I can understand that feeling…"
"No seriously… Do you fight a lot? Your punches were really sharp, and trying to hit you was like catching a fly."
"Hey, I might not look like it but I street fight a lot, so I got a lot of experience… It comes with the job."
"As expected of a hero I guess."
"But what about you Kyon-san? You don't have a good technique per se, but you have good reflexes and when you do hit, you hit like a truck."
"Hey, you don't spend training everyday in hell without gaining something."
"I see Kyon-san."
"You know, you've been calling me Kyon-san since we met each… Drop the formalities, it's not like it's my real name anyway."
I could hear a soft laugh coming from where he was laying, and then I could see Touma standing up and after spending a few seconds stretching himself he moved next to me and offered me a hand.
"Need a hand Kyon?"
I sat up to take on his offer and felt pain equivalent to saying that my entire body screamed in horrible anguish and misery for being hurt like never before. Then when I grabbed his hand and stood up I felt pain equivalent to saying that the past sentence was a huge hyperbole.
Still regardless of my condition of extreme suffering, the most important thing I had to do was asking a question to the person in front of me.
"So what are you going to do Touma? I need to talk to Haruhi and I have no idea where to even begin looking… I can't do this without you."
He looked at me for a while and sighed.
"I guess you need to be saved Kyon… I don't know if I can do much, but you can count with the help of this Kamijou Touma."
He made a fist in front of him.
"It's the least a hero could do."
I did the same as him and then we bumped our fists into each other.
"Thanks a lot Touma."
"So what do we do now?"
Touma turned around and began walking back towards his apartment.
"Well I doubt we can do much at this hour, so the best we can do is trying to sleep. Tomorrow we'll search for Suzumiya-san. You know she's a student at my school but she didn't come to class today…"
"So then how are we going to find her?"
I followed him and noticed how he smiled to himself.
"Whether or not she comes to school doesn't matter, she's an idol in Academy City. That means somebody somewhere has already leaked her schedule for the next few days online, and I know just the guy we can ask for that information…"
He talked me about it all the way back to his apartment. Turns out there's a huge underground, online network dedicated to stalk… I mean admire idols from the distance and that Taniguchi 2.0, I mean that guy with the blue hair and the piercings was knee deep into the whole thing.
"I see, thank you Aogami."
"Yeah sure I owe you one… Bye!"
Touma hanged up his cell phone and the turned to me.
"Yeah, I had to nag him a little, but he promised to help us. Now rumors say that coincidentally Suzumiya-san doesn't have anything scheduled for tomorrow. According to Aogami that means she's planning to go to school, but he's looking to confirm that information and he'll call me again when he does."
"Going to school huh? How lucky…"
Touma scratched the back of his head when he heard those words.
"Yeah, ever since the world changed it's been like that. I'm trying not to get used to it though."
In that moment I remembered Nagato's theory of how Touma's unluckiness was born. According to her, Haruhi unconsciously made situations unlucky for him because she couldn't affect him directly with her powers. So it stands to reason that in a world where Haruhi was a regular high school girl, Touma unluckiness disappeared.
"By the way Touma, does your right hand still…?"
"Hell if I know…"
Touma looked at his right hand for a while before smiling.
"Then again in a world where the supernatural doesn't exist, my imagine breaker has no purpose either."
"I guess you're right…"
"Either way, that doesn't matter… "
In that moment Touma was interrupted by the sound of his phone ringing, he immediately picked it and answered it.
"Hey Aogami that was fast…"
"Sure, just give me a second."
Touma pressed a button on his phone and placed the call on speaker.
"Ok, Kamiyan… Listen I was able to confirm my sources and it seems that Suzumiya-san will go to school tomorrow."
"Now, usually I would object to someone trying to interfere with an Idol's life, but since it's you asking me Kamiyan I'll make an exception. With that out of the way I know you guys are thinking charging ahead before or after school and try to talk to her…"
Well that sounds good.
"But chances are that'll only get her lovely bodyguard to hit you with a German supplex, or mauled to death by her rabid fans before you get to say the first word. What you need to do is…"
We spent the entire night that day preparing our strategy to meet with Suzumiya Haruhi. The guy with the blue hair actually came up with a good plan, so I suppose he's far more reliable than I thought at first, at least this version of him that is…
The next day after a quick breakfast courtesy of Touma, we put our plan in motion. It was pretty simple: The guy with the blue hair and the piercings would get me a position as a substitute driver of Haruhi's limo… A good plan that in normal situation would be hampered by my inability to drive a car, but since this is Academy City the place where cars can drive by themselves then that was a moot point.
Well there was another thingy though. He naturally demanded some payment from his services, but instead of money he wanted Touma to get back at playing some card game or something for a plan he had with a friend of his… A weird request I know, but Touma told me we should just roll with it.
But anyway, I'm getting off the point… Fact is that now I'm in front of a huge apartment building, the kind that so luxurious a month of rent must cost more than my house; waiting for Haruhi with a huge limo I barely even know how to operate.
As I waited I remembered another important thing I did yesterday. Check out this Haruhi's back-story on the internet. Apparently she earned an scholarship to Academy City as soon as she got out of middle school and then became an idol shortly afterwards. But the thing that called my attention was the lack of detail from her life before coming to this city, there was barely anything worth mentioning. Except for references to a certain incident I happen to remember…
You know is kind of weird, there isn't anyone around here. Usually you would expect the paparazzi or her fans to be around, but this whole place is deserted except for me, and well… I just can't shake the felling there's hundreds of eyes fixated on me right now, I mean I'm positively sure I'm being watched…
Either way, there's no time for that I guess... As now the person I know as Suzumiya Haruhi is coming out of the gates of her condo… She surprisingly looks just like the Haruhi I know, exception being that she still had long hair.
"Who are you?"
And before the idol even glanced at my direction, I was surprised by someone I know recognize is Kanzaki-san and… Koizumi?
"Easy Kanzaki-san, I was informed that Arakawa-san would be taking a leave of absence today… This must be the replacement the agency sent."
For some reason the cat got my tongue, and with cat I mean Kanzaki-san. Even if she isn't a magician anymore she still can be really threatening when she looks like she's about to kill you… Also I must comment I don't like how this one ties her hair in a bun; ponytails are more suited for her in my opinion.
"Great, might I see your ID then?"
As for Koizumi… Well he looked like Koizumi I guess, and for I could see he acted like Koizumi too.
I pulled out the little card they gave me yesterday when I entered the city and gave it to him. Immediately Koizumi scanned it with her cell phone. Now let's see if I can really trust that guy with the blue hair and the piercings.
"Ok, seems we're fine Mister..."
"Oh! What happened with Arakawa-san?"
And just as I was out the spotlight, who better to approach me than the idol herself?
"Yeah, I was told his first grandson would be born today ma'am."
Easy… Just like I rehearsed last night… Why must I be so bad at lying under pressure?
"Really? Great! Well let's go to school then Mister…?"
"My name is… John Smith."
A Certain High School:
Kamijou Touma quietly studied on his desk. Komoe-sensei was giving literature class, but that wasn't what he was reading… Rather he was studying a little hand book he found in his apartment: the instruction and rule book of 'Academy Battle: Science is Magic!' with annotations done by someone he theorized must have been himself from this dimension.
"This game makes no sense…"
"Hey did you hear?"
He took a break from his desperate attempt to humor a promise he made, to listen to the whisperings going on around his class. At least that would help him clear his mind.
"What is it?"
"It seems Suzumiya-sama was going to come to school today."
"But she's not here…"
"Exactly, it seems she got distracted by someone from her past and disappeared."
He smiled a little when he heard that, it seems whatever plan that boy from North High had to get the idol's attention worked.
"Yeah! Rumors say that when she met with him she canceled all her appointment for today and some sources say they saw her limo leaving the city sometime before noon."
The boy estimated that if they had left Academy City a little before noon, they would have reached North High about half an hour ago at most.
"But who is person? Do we know anything about him?"
"All we know is that someone who was keeping watch to her condo today said his name was J…"
But Kamijou eavesdropping was interrupting by the sound of his phone getting a message. He quickly pulled it out and checked the screen…
"It's from her… Huh?"
Before he could respond though, Kamijou noticed everyone around him seemed to have frozen. He tried to move as well and quickly noticed he couldn't… He was conscious, but his body just wasn't moving, not even blinking or breathing. But he didn't choke nor did his eyes become dry, it was as if time itself had stopped so such thing just weren't a concern anymore. There was a part of him that he could still move though: his right hand.
It was still holding his phone and in his desperation he let go of it, but it didn't fall. It was as if it was suspended in time, even the screen had stopped updating, but just as he picked it up again, the phone worked normally again.
Unfortunately he wasn't in a position to touch the rest of his body so his wrist and fingers where the only joints that seemed to work. He tried to struggle but it was simply impossible for him to reach something, maybe if he could touch his desk then…
"Calm down Kamijou-san."
But suddenly he heard a familiar voice coming from behind; it was the girl that used to stalk him on his world: Emiri Kimidori. He tried to speak with her but his mouth couldn't move, he couldn't even grunt as his vocal cords seemed to be stuck.
"You're a weird one Kamijou-san… The other one was deliberately left alone by her, but you… "
He felt Emiri's arms embracing him from behind, and her face resting at the side of his.
"Not even stealing her powers she could move you… That's really impressive."
She didn't seem to be breathing, at least Kamijou couldn't hear her doing so.
"Even then I guess you really weren't the main character of this story, you weren't even there for the conclusion… But you don't seem to care about that."
She tightened her embrace around Kamijou, pressing her face against his neck.
"I'm not one to talk though; I think I completely disappeared until now."
She changed positions so her arms were around her neck and her head on top of his.
"Hehe! I don't get many chances to come this close to you Kamijou-san…"
She remained like that for less than a second, but for Kamijou it felt as if an eternity had passed in the blink of an eye.
"…But I guess everything has to end eventually."
Suddenly he felt her arms and face disappearing from his body, and then he felt his lungs filing with air, his eyes blinking and the world around him moving again.
He looked around and noticed Komoe-sensei was teaching her class as usual, walking by Himegami's seat… And Himegami was there listening to the lesson and taking notes, he turned around and saw a blond Tsuchimikdo smiling with mischief and typing something into his phone. In the back he could see Emiri Kimidori standing near the wall smiling at him, and a little nun peaking through the backdoor waiting for her time to go inside the classroom.
"He did it!"
Kamijou was about to stand yelling in celebration, but just as he was about to do so a quick stare from Komoe-sensei putted him back into his seat.
But that wasn't enough to wipe the smile out of his face, a few tears appeared at the edges of his eyes but he quickly wiped them off. It was in that moment he noticed he was still holding his phone… The message he just received still being showed on the screen.
"But how…? Wait a minute, I was holding my phone the whole time when… It makes sense I guess."
He read the message again and again, before deciding to save it permanently.
"That illusion… I'll remember it."
"Well that's everything for today."
He noticed the bells were ringing and everyone stood up to leave. Kamijou stood up to do the same, but he was unable thanks to his teacher was standing in front of him.
"Kamijou-chan, I hope you haven't forgotten that I told you we would repeat the history test today after school."
"You did say, but that was… Wait a minute…"
He looked at his phone again and noticed the date matched with the time he spent in that other world, and he had signal so his phone must have synchronized by now, so then how…
"Well then get back into your seat! Sensei has to get home early today so we need to start right away."
The little teacher hurried him back into his seat and then quickly gave him a piece of paper.
"You have two hours Kamijou-chan, good luck!"
He looked at the test in front of him before coming into a realization.
"I used to know all these questions…"
But with everything that happened and since he had spent the entire morning studying a card game, his memory of 'The History of Academy City' was a little hazy… and with that I meant he didn't remember one single thing about it.
"Are you ready Kamijou?"
It was around noon of the 24th of December. Kamijou Touma gave one last tug to the bandage wrapped around his arm to make sure it was fastened properly. He was going to a party where none other than Suzumiya Haruhi was going to be present so he couldn't afford to take any risks.
"There! Let's go."
"Ok, now get in line."
He took a look around to see Academy City behind him, then at his classmates lining up to get into the bus that would take them to the train station.
"Hey Kamiyan! You can skip line with us if you… Ouch!"
He cringed at the sound of Aogami getting his cheek tweaked by Fukiyose.
"Absolutely not! We spent nearly a whole week planning for this thing and I'm not going to let you ruin it by creating chaos."
She let go of him and then the boy with the blue hair just raised his shoulders towards Kamijou as a way of apologizing, he responded by waving his hand.
"Touma… Are you sure you packed all the ingredients?"
He looked to his side and noticed Index standing beside him, she looked surprisingly calm.
"Yep! I even had Fukiyose check everything twice before we left the city."
"Kamijou! I appreciate you trust me to keep your clumsiness in check, but you must learn to take care of things by yourself!"
The boy made a quick hand gesture to Fukiyose who was too busy taking care of loading their baggage into the bus to notice.
"So I'm sure everything is fine."
"That's good Touma, I bought some meat and potatoes for the hot pot with the money you gave me and I can't wait to…"
"I brought some burgers…"
Then Kamijou noticed that Himegami Aisa was standing to his other side. Neither him nor the little nun were surprised by her sudden appearance though, as it was something they had gotten used to by now.
"Won't that go bad during the trip? I heard lamb is pretty delicate."
Himegami seemed puzzled by his remark.
"Lamb? No, I brought meat burgers and I packed them in a portable ice chest so they should be fine…"
"Oh I see…"
Kamijou barely had time to sigh before he noticed a tiny bit of drool in the corner of Himegami's mouth, it was a little but it was definitely there.
"Lamb burgers though… I'd love to try that."
"I'm sure you'll love them."
"What's wrong? Did Aisa bring lamb to the pot?"
And of course when somebody mentioned food, the little nun just had to enter the conversation.
"No, but Kamijou was telling me they must be great."
"Seriously Touma? We should try them sometime!"
A little bit of cold sweat went down Kamijou's forehead as he knew he would be the one paying those, but still… how could he refuse?
"Sure, I know a place… I hope they still sell them."
"Thank you Kamijou-kun."
"Thank you Touma."
He nodded as both girls gave him a smile of thanks.
Ever since he came back to this world 4 days ago Kamijou had felt a little uncomfortable. Mainly because everyone acted as if he never left. It wasn't because he had to act as if he remembered everything, that was nothing new to him and to make things easier nothing of interest seemed to have happened during that time anyway.
The thing that bothered him was how everybody else went on as if nothing had happened, and it would be correct to say that it was thanks to this incident that it finally dawned on him just how powerful Suzumiya Haruhi actually was.
Someone who could control reality like that was simply something that was beyond his comprehension, how could a being like that even be allowed to exist…? And the worst part was that according to what he talked with the boy from North High over she wasn't even responsible for this incident. Kamijou wanted to ask him more about that but he refused and told him he would explain himself personally during the party… Not something the boy with the imagine breaker had trouble accepting.
"Kamijou! Get in the bus!"
Kamijou Touma snapped back to reality when he noticed it was time to board the bus. He knew this incident was far from over, that there would be more trouble to come in the future, and he might have to be the one to face them should the time come, but…
"At least I can have some time to enjoy everyone's special hot pot right?"