Chapter 10 – Infatuation

-][-

"Here I come, Misaka." Touma's voice came through across the hidden microphone. "Stop me if you can. Leave if you can't. Either way, I'll be giving it my best shot.

"To victory!"

With that roar, Tsuchimikado Motoharu allowed himself to smile widely. With telepathy used in their last Wrench Pole battle, they already know it's capable of reaching all the way to the other side as they communicated with others to give instructions on the timing of attack and such things.

However, since it doesn't work on Touma they made do with a hidden microphone. Nobody was really surprised that Motoharu had this kind of things, as being a member of the 'Idiot Trio' of the class him spending more effort on things that's not classwork was almost expected.

Not having telepathy with Touma however was a serious blow, as with that flash of electricity the microphone that was already shaky from Mikoto's earlier attack finally gave out due to over exposure to her power.

With a telepath helping her, Fukiyose sent a message over to him:

['How did Kamijou do in his part?']

['Everything is going just as planned.'] Motoharu thought back. ['And preparations on your end?']

['It took a while, but we've managed to coordinate the remaining telepathy users properly now. A few people were shaken by the earlier barrage, but they should be fine.']

['Excellent.'] Motoharu's sunglasses shined ominously under the sun. ['Then let us initiate Phase 2.']

-][-

On the other end, Misaki used her ability to show the confrontation between Touma and Mikoto to the rest of Tokiwadai students that didn't have a good vantage point. If nothing else, she needs to make sure they don't hit their own teammates, and to tell people to get out of the way unless they want to be fried by Mikoto's attacks.

She was also coordinating the combined attacks from her clique earlier trying to shoot him down, but he managed to amaze her in his ability to break through.

Goodness me. Misaki thought. She gulped as she replayed in her own mind that jump of his above the flames, his subsequent landing and his ease in stopping a electric bullet on the way down. At this rate even I might end up falling for him.

A thought echoed by a number of the girls she currently has a mental connection to, it seemed. A opponent he might be, that doesn't mean his deeds weren't impressive. Not many of them were sure if Mikoto can achieve the same thing, if forced to only dodge and defend.

With many of Tokiwadai's students focusing more on the spectacle in front of them as Mikoto dropped a thunderclap and summoned a wall of iron sand to try and stop Touma, only a few saw the blue haired boy running towards them, trying for stealth but unfortunately failing.

Aogami Pierce have entered the fray, and his speed surpassed that of Touma's he closed in onto Tokiwadai's territory.

"We have a problem!" Misaki yelled. She recognised him as one of Touma's friends, one of the two she ran into on that day she made the mistake of reading Kamijou's mind. Chances are he'll be as much as a threat as Touma is if given the opportunity.

['Fire at will!'] Misaki ordered her followers. Moments later Misaki cursed whoever crafted this stratagem on the opposing side.

Mikoto's fight against Touma was predictably fierce, and the battle prevented some of them from taking a shot at the approaching enemy. Judging from his path of running, only a third of the Tokiwadai students would be able to accurately hit the blue-haired teen without Touma and Mikoto's fight getting in the way of their projectile. The few attacks launched at him currently might as well be standing still with the absurd ease he seems to be dodging them like a ballet dancer.

More people might have been able to be used to attack, but unfortunately coordination was not likely. With their overwhelming firepower compared to most schools, all that was needed was the various cliques choosing a target and the game was completed if the match was a head-on clash, their unfortunate opponents bowing to Tokiwadai's superior ranged attacks. Cooperation of the entire school as a whole wasn't necessary to defeat their opponents normally, unless it was against other elite schools. That might have been one reason why they lost to Nagatenjouki Academy last year, with the various politicking between cliques impeding cooperation at critical moments.

And unfortunately, Misaki can't just take over them all and have them operate under her control. Sure it will increase efficiency, but there was also the problem of ethics… and high chance of being caught as the entire match is on television.

Therefore Misaki went for the next best option.

['This is Shokuhou Misaki, sending a emergency message to everyone.'] Misaki gave everyone a feeling of urgency she felt. This is not so much actively controlling them but to just let them feel the same as she did.

['Kamijou Touma is merely a decoy! Leave him to the Railgun, and focus all attacks on the blue-haired boy approaching. Hold nothing back!']

A few more tentative attacks followed Misaki's clique's own, and were just as easily dodged by Aogami like the ones before. With proof that the new intruder is indeed a threat, the rest opened the equivalent of full salvos towards Aogami.

There's no way they are making the same mistake of taking just one person lightly, not after Kamijou Touma almost managed to breach their defences. One of their two Level 5s can barely hold him back as it is, and if the reinforcement is anything like him it won't be good.

With their supporting fire now directed towards Aogami, the few runners trying to pierce the defences of Touma's side was swiftly repelled, and forced to retreat and defending against incoming telekinetic strikes while doing so. Looking back to see the cause for the loss of their support, they found another person is doing the same thing Kamijou did in overcoming the attacks and their shock ended up as their undoing; with their movement slowed momentarily, it was just enough for incoming attacks to hit them as they are knocked back and forced to retreat.

With a finesse Touma's dodging didn't have, Aogami reached the half way point between the two sides faster than the young man currently locked in a cage of lightning and iron sand. With the shattering of the cage almost like a signal, more volleys of projectiles soared over the fight between Mikoto and Touma, travelling in a arc instead of a straight line.

It took more effort and control to do than just launching them in a straight line, not to mention the slower speed in firing rate, but they needed the additional fire power desperately. The feat of someone single-handedly breaking through being repeated would make them the laughing stock of the entire city, losing to a no-name school like this!

Despite the extra attacks, Aogami Pierce wove in and out without taking a single hit. He had to jump back here and there to reduce certain hits to only a grazing shot, but his speed was undiminished and his confident smile suggested he can do this all day.

-][-

['Aogami have successfully drawn their fire.'] A telepath reported.

['The Railgun is still busy with Kamijou… he's actually pretty good at acting, huh…']

['Preparations are complete!']

['Perfect.'] Motoharu had a urge to laugh evilly for some reason. He needs a vacation from the Dark Side of Academy City at this rate.

['Initiate Phase 3. Take them down.']

-][-

"UWOOOOH!" A battlecry came out from the other end, much to surprise of Tokiwadai students. With all their attention focused on the two that's looking like a lone hero trying to surmount overwhelming odds, they had forgotten about the others on the opposing end.

A wave of about thirty students charged out, mostly the captains of various sports clubs and those who are confident in their ability, whether it is esper or physical. After careful selection, only the best among their school was chosen to charge head on into certain danger, not just to minimise the losses but also to give the illusion every one of them is capable of similar feats as the first two have demonstrated.

And leading them is Tsuchimikado Motoharu, his sunglasses and jewellery glinting under the sun.

With Aogami still making headway into the left side of Tokiwadai's defences in spite of the sheer power assembled to strike him down, and Touma weathering the rapid thunderbolts that fired one after another without pause from Mikoto near the centre, the third wave trying to break through the right side was most definitely a problem. Lessening the pressure on the other two would most likely let them through, but if they don't they can only stand and watch as their opponent demolish their poles.

Truly, caught between a rock and a hard place.

The telekinesis attacks fired from the other side does not help Tokiwadai's position, as while with the many craters blown into the ground the dust shows the normally invisible force clearly, every shot used to defending against them was one shot less to be able to strike down the invading forces. Then again, letting the incoming shots collide with their own forces is not a option, since if their own gunners are taken out it would be all over.

Under the heavy assault by the rest of Touma's school who dedicated themselves to help shooting suppressing fire, the Tokiwadai students are forced to defend against the attacks. Aogami's obstacles lessened and with a burst of speed he charged, taking advantage of the drop in attacks and Touma did the same, ignoring the façade he had earlier of being pushed back. In spite of the amount of attacks Mikoto is throwing around, he ran forward slapping away attacks like they were minor annoyances and looked like he will make it through without much problem.

Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately, from Touma's point of view), Misaki's counter-plan came into action by this point.

-][-

['Shirai Kuroko.'] Misaki communicated to Mikoto's roommate, as soon as the third wave charged out from the other side. ['I want you to take Misaka and teleport to the other team's side. Take down all their poles as soon as possible, and break their morale.']

['Why?'] Kuroko's reply was suspicious. ['Why should I listen to you? I know it is a bad idea to interrupt Onee-sama when she's in a duel like this.']

['Because if you don't we will be overwhelmed.'] Misaki said succinctly. She doesn't have time for this right now. ['Look, I didn't want to reveal her secrets, but haven't you thought it was strange she's so enthusiastic about her current duel with Kamijou right now?']

['What?'] Kuroko knew most likely it is a trick, but she can't take the risk of ignoring of something he is involved with.

['The winner gets to do whatever they want to the loser after this match. Do you think you can handle it that once we lose your 'Onee-sama' would submit to whatever fiendish plans he has waiting for her?']

"WHAAAAAT!" Kuroko yelled, just in time for a explosion to collide close to their side as the bombardments from the telekinesis attacks struck.

['You heard me the first time.'] Misaki's mental voice had a touch of amusement to it, despite the urgency. ['Come to think of it, you were always on the receiving end of the punishment, weren't you? Maybe Misaka have gotten tired of the same thing after a while, and wanted a taste of being on the receiving end of things for once? I believe you can understand the pleasure of being dominated by the one you love, so is it really that much of a stretch Mikoto would seek that? And the fact she chose Kamijou, and not you, to be the hand that performs the act…']

"AAAAAARRRGH!" Kuroko heard something snap in her head, and she vanished. The telepathy connection was snapped with the teleportation, and Misaki smiled as she managed to salvage the situation.

"One down. Two to go."

-][-

Mikoto flinched as Touma rushed closer, right hand outstretched. All thunder vanished from the surface of her body, as thoughts of fight and flight warred within her.

That gave Kuroko the perfect opportunity to teleport in without being electrocuted, and then vanish with the Ace.

"Wha…" Touma looked surprised at the turn of events, but he was prevented from thinking further as fire surged around him, encasing him into a dome. The heat was intense, and he felt difficulty in breathing under the flames that surrounded him.

The oxygen within the dome is used to fuel the flames, leaving little for him to breathe in. It appears whoever is responsible for this is trying to make him unconscious by cutting off air for him to breathe, rather than trying to cook him alive.

With a desperate leap, he touched the edge of the dome and heard the familiar 'Crack!' that comes alone with negating abilities; and then had to roll on the ground to prevent a water hammer colliding into his torso.

"We'll be your opponents now, Kamijou Touma." A voice told him as he got back up to his feet.

Looking up, a red haired girl with a ball of flame in her hand glared at him, accompanied with five other girls. There was something about her, and the timid black-haired girl with round glasses on the edge that seemed familiar.

"… Akiha? Fuuko?" Touma hazarded a guess.

"Your onslaught stops right here!" Akiha bellowed imperiously. Wind ripped apart where he stood as he jumped back, and more projectiles followed his path.

He tried to run around them, but having six girls keeping track of his every move in wide open space doesn't really give him much options. Compared to the waves of attacks from before, they can't really miss at this range. This resulted in him being pinned down and forced to focus his efforts on blocking attacks rather than charging through, while not daring to retreat too far unless he want to be shot at by everyone again but unable to move closer to push down any poles.

He considered his chance of just forcing his way past the girls. Sure, it's not impossible, but taking all these hits to just bring down one pole didn't seem like a fair trade.

He should have just burst past Mikoto back then instead of keeping her busy. They still had the illusion of invincibility on their side back then at least.

In theory, it didn't seem like a good idea to put all their eggs in one basket and let Kamijou single-handedly take down Tokiwadai; if he was the one taken down instead, they're all doomed as renewed volleys will rip through them after their target was eliminated. That's why they changed the plan to a multi-pronged attack. Ironically, the original plan might have worked better in hindsight.

['Kamijou Touma is pinned down, even if not eliminated. Everyone, take down the rabble approaching while I handle the blue-haired one with a few other people.']

With echoes of affirmation from other Tokiwadai students, Motoharu's group came under heavy fire. Cries of surprise came from a few that was hit and blown back, but the majority continued to valiantly run forward in spite of the harshness it entailed. They dodged and countered against the attacks with their own ability, like blasting down shots or withstanding a hit or two, but it was obvious they cannot hold out much longer.

['We need backup! Cover us, now!'] One person said urgently back to their supporters via the telepathy link, seconds before a ball of ice collided into his belly and knock him flying backwards. With Touma now being held back by comparatively less flashy attacks and Aogami supposedly going head to head against Shokuhou, they now faced the might of Tokiwadai in nearly its entirety like Touma had done. Bullets rained down upon them like battlefields of old when armies clashed head on and arrows filled the sky; Motoharu's team is now in a dire situation.

Dust rose up from the ground, covering Motoharu's group from sight and the cloud threatened to cover the entirety of Tokiwadai's area. They used the same trick in their first match, and the situation was bad enough that they are willing to try this anyway. Using the cover of the dust that the craters conveniently supplied, they will attempt to try and then push down the poles as their opponents' view is obscured.

As predicted, their last ditch effort came to naught. Two wind-using espers alone blew away their cover like it was nothing and knocking them off their feet. The resulting barrage that followed, even with the protective casing around the attacks, floored anyone left standing.

Motoharu almost reached the other end despite being struck several times, but ultimately fell as he ran into a invisible wall of telekinesis someone put up in front of him. Dazed, he joined his comrades in unconsciousness with a headshot accurately taking him out.

-][-

Aogami slowed down as the beauty he saw with Touma a while back approached him, signalling others to leave him to her and go take down the group approaching. While Misaki is off limits in his own eyes as he doesn't go after girls of his friends, the various other girls seem to be fair game.

Especially the one with dark hair tied in a ponytail and a fancy hairclip attached. That one pushed all sorts of fetish buttons he had.

"Well, hello ladies." Aogami gave a slight bow. "My name is-"

"Save it for someone that cares." One of the four with Misaki growled. "All we want right now is for you to end up on a stretcher at the infirmary. You've mocked Tokiwadai's pride trying to trample over us without even using your ability; at least that Kamijou guy respected us enough to fight seriously, not treat this frivolously and seeing this as a game like you are!"

"But-"

"No buts." Electricity started to spark around her. While she might not be Mikoto, a Electromaster above level 3 can still deal quite a bit of damage. "Shokuhou-sama, may we?"

"Do as you wish with him. Just don't hurt him too much; he's still a friend of Kamijou's and I don't want to explain to him why I allowed his friend to be hospitalised for a few months." Misaki allowed the subsequent violence in taking place, smiling beatifically in a way that jarred when compared to what she had just permitted.

And just to be sure he stays still for long enough to be taken down, Misaki decided to 'suggest' to him it would be better for him to stay still and be taken down. The run-in with Kamijou Touma made her realise it is a bad idea to look into another person's mind when you have no information on them, but surely that doesn't apply here. One, she's just scratching the surface of his thoughts; and two, the circumstances means she's allowed to use a mental attack. With the Daihasei Festival being a situation that's for gathering data on esper conflicts, among other things, she's theoretically allowed to use mental attacks as long as she doesn't leave lasting damage.

Besides, it's not like she knows nothing about him. If she can stand the mind of a pervert and psycho lesbian like Shirai Kuroko, surely she can withstand whatever thoughts he's having about her and Touma back when they first met.

With a single look, Misaki delved into Aogami's mind. What she found was not quite what she expected.

-][-

Haa, you're too naïve Kami-yan. I have a wide range of acceptance when it comes to women, not just including fallen female main characters, but also…

It's not that 'I like lolis', but 'I also like lolis'…

A maelstrom of images and thoughts assaulted Misaki. With something that tasted like bile rising up, it was all she could do to keep standing.

Not even Shirai was this bad. Not even some of the more… 'exotic', so to speak… entertainment novels she had come across in some of the other young ladies' minds was this bad. Seriously; a riding crop, a bridle, and sixteen feet of silk rope used in that kind of situation? Just how sickening can the human mind get?

Not that she particularly wanted the misfortune to ever find out first hand.

Here however, she didn't even recognise half of the things Aogami is thinking, and the other half she felt staggered in how in the world does he get excited by something as mundane as them?

Twin braids, ahoges, curly-haired, girls in sailor clothes, blazers…

I will succeed! A single thought ripped through to her, its intensity above all others. I will show Kami-yan that my efforts are not in vain! He can have his harem, and I will support him in his endeavours!

So, WHY? Why is my own plans not successful, and he gets all the girls?

This stops TODAY! My rewards are right here in front of me, and I will defy fate and obtain love just like Kami-yan! A Harem route is not beyond my reach, YOU HEAR ME!

Misaki tore away from his mind as fast as she can, sweating profusely. Controlling his mind might still be possible, but no way is she going to stay in that kind of mind for even a nanosecond longer.

That proved it. Mind reading dangerous people is definitely not a good idea. She should have thought better than to go into the mind of someone affiliated with Touma.

The only good thing that came out of this was she didn't risk this on the girl named Index. If just the friend of Touma was this bad, Misaki didn't want to think what would have happened to her if she went into the mind of someone even closer to Touma than Aogami.

Time for Plan B, it seemed.

-][-

"Wait a moment, we can still be reasonable about this!" Aogami tried to argue, not even noticing the attack on his mind. Sadly, none of his words and reasoning could convince the girls otherwise as they gathered up their power for one attack.

It appeared his plan of 'impressing the opponent' went horribly wrong. If he was facing another school of lower levelled espers, he would have won much glory and admiration for being able to do that much while 'apparently' being a Level 0. Here, however, he was seen as mocking his opponents in that they don't deserve his full power, as the ojous' worldviews made them think showing respect and taking them seriously means using their esper ability in full power if it came to conflict.

That's something even Mikoto, someone not very much like a ojou in her behaviour, managed to accept.

With Misaki hypnotised them into a trance-like state that allowed them to focus better, all their ability got a boost in power. Not something that would allow them to increase their Level, but a noticeable difference none the less. Using Misaki's skills to coordinate them, they can cooperate better and use combination attacks in much higher efficiency when compared to others.

Seeing his opponents in no mood for talk or negotiation, Aogami sighed.

Why does Kami-yan get all the luck with the girls, damn it?

Now knowing his plan of impressing his opponents will no longer work, he lost the drive to continue just like back during the first match of the sports festival. Then again, that doesn't mean he can't go down in a blaze of glory, using his defeat in a final attempt to defrost their resentment towards him (and to hopefully convince them that his heart is pure and someone worth their attention).

Laughing almost in a self-mocking way, Aogami charged. And in response a great pillar of fire rose up to intercept him, followed by a storm of wind and lightning. Finally, a blizzard struck, the general area in the aftermath like the wrath of nature has been concentrated into one vengeful retribution.

Even without a overly muscularly bald man at the sidelines showering him with love, Aogami still managed to be taken out in a painful manner. This time however, he went down with a smile on his face, accepting his fall and waits for the next time to prove to the world he's capable of getting a girl.

-][-

After Mikoto cowered back as Touma approached she felt Kuroko next to her, and then the now-familiar feeling of being teleported washed over her. Looking up, she saw surprised faces of Touma's classmates around her, and the large-chested girl on the Management Committee he met in her event on the first day talking to him was here as well.

"Wait, is she…?"

"The Railgun?"

"How did she get here?"

With Kuroko's teleporting range of 81.5 metres, getting across the field was not a problem. The reason Kuroko haven't already gone over to the other team and wreak havoc was due to the element of surprise. She wanted to do so at the end, so even if they figured out a teleporter can ignore the chore of being shot at and just go straight to them they won't be able to counter it in the limited time left. Bringing Mikoto with her would be a good idea too as once over on the other side all it would take is a few wide-area lightning to take down everyone.

Of course, Misaki's words forced her to put the plan into action a bit earlier than expected.

"Onee-sama!" Kuroko buried her face into Mikoto's back as she held on. "Quick, take down their pole before they attack! We still have other targets to go to after this one!"

"Kuroko? Why did you-!"

"I don't care if you have exotic interests, Onee-sama! But I cannot stand it if he is the one that ends up doing that to you!" Kuroko blabbered, still trying to come to term that Mikoto would do such a thing after Misaki's words. "You already have me! Why would you agree to the wager that you'd know you might lose when you have a perfectly willing companion here devoted to you and willing to do things like that to you if you wanted me to-"

"It's not like that!" Mikoto raged, sending a shock through Kuroko and forcing her to let go.

She's really getting tired of saying that all the time. Even if it was true.

Looking at the display in front of them, many aren't sure what to make of this.

"Wait, she was the one that planned on losing?" One person said incredulously.

"So they both planned on losing and being tormented by the other person?" Another said in the same amazed tone. "Wow. Guess they really are made for each other."

"I'll say. Knowing Kamijou and all the girls he's seen with, the Railgun seems more his type than the Queen."

"You're sure? He's always going on about more developed girls being his preference…"

"A sham, a sham I tell you. When's the last time you saw him go after a well-developed girl?"

"Two weeks ago, trying to sweet talk the cashier at a corner store. Just because you never see him do it doesn't mean he's a innocent."

"Good point." Everyone nodded in agreement at that line of thought, despite how badly they have mistaken the situation; Touma at the time was just trying to prove to the cashier his bank card cannot possibly be broken somehow.

"Onee-sama…" Kuroko croaked. "Now do you understand? Just leave him and let me-"

BZZZZZZT-BOOM!

Mikoto shot a thunderbolt towards the pole, burning it black and it fell onto the ground with a loud 'Thump'. Spectators immediately turned to see the cause of the commotion, and it also attracted the attention of various other people of Touma's school.

"I don't want to hear any more about that idiot's love life, the kind of things I'm allegedly doing with other people, or bust sizes." Mikoto said with a cross-popping vein visible on her head. "Now, the clock is ticking. I'm going to bring down every last pole your team have and be on my way. I have a score to settle with a certain idiot who's currently still over at our side, so let's make this quick, alright?"

In response, a fireball was shot towards Mikoto from beyond the current gathering of people. News of a breach has travelled, and they are going to do everything they can to hold off the inevitable defeat.

"Fine." Mikoto's surroundings started to crackle with energy, and the strike was shot down easily. "Then let's do this the hard way."

A lightning storm brewed, and then spread from Mikoto. Those who got out of the way were spared, and those that stood their ground and fought were struck down without hesitation. Anyone trying to stop her was shot with a bolt of lightning, and while it didn't do lasting damage (or even extremely painful for that matter, nothing worse than being zapped by static a few times) it certainly paralyzed them and made sure they won't be standing back up. That, combined with the renewed hail of projectiles from Tokiwadai dealt grievous damage to both the morale and the combat ability of Touma's side to retaliate.

In the midst of this chaos, Kuroko took the chance and started to teleport to poles and knocking them down in no particular order. Within the span of two minutes, nearly all the poles are wiped out and a third of the school was paralyzed.

Fukiyose Seiri only sighed at the outcome, knowing better to get in the way of feminine rage in response to when boys talked too much. Still, from what she has seen maybe Misaka is someone not unlike herself, and she's only being linked to Kamijou because of the rumours.

It certainly wasn't because some non-existent good point from him actually managed to attract Misaka to him, right?

-][-

-][-

With the battle over, Tokiwadai have managed to defeat their opponent without suffering a single point deducted from their own poles pushed down, and eliminated their opponent's poles completely.

In spite of that, this was not the flawless victory many would have claimed in a different situation. They were pushed back from the start, and it was only thanks to a sneak attack that they managed to win; something that left a bad taste in their mouth, seeing as they never had to do so before. They wanted to fight honourably like Kamijou Touma did, openly challenging opponents' full power head on and prove they decisively deserved the victory.

It sufficed to say he got himself quite a few more admirers after that last battle, much to Mikoto's and Index's eventual chagrin.

-][-

"Ow…" Touma winced at the way his spine shuddered involuntarily. As soon as the poles in his school was knocked down, Mikoto shot a high-voltage attack all the way across the distance between the two sides and tried to fry him.

It's almost a miracle she had enough self restraint to not use a railgun.

In his reflex to cancel the attack, he was shot from behind as the attack from the six girls aimed to only hold him back ended up as the final blow that struck him down. If it weren't from the time limit of the match ending the event, he might have suffered more attacks from Mikoto as she rushed in.

Guess having well-honed reflex can be a bad thing at times.

"That was impressive, Touma." Shiina congratulated him. Next to her, Touya nodded, proud of what his son had done against a elite school.

Touma's parents only wished for him to be happy and be far away from superstitions. Now they are seeing their child being recognised as someone capable, in addition to being accepted by his classmates as they welcomed him with open arms after the match ended. It was better than anything they could have dreamed of.

Of course, after being zapped by the disaster that is Misaka Mikoto, many have changed their minds about how 'lucky' Touma really is. If he had to deal with that on a daily basis, then they wish him all the luck in the world. Some actually started to call it his penance to be doomed to deal with the Railgun for the rest of his life, as a result from other girls being attracted to him.

Anyone who can handle girls as feisty as the Railgun probably deserved that kind of attention from them, most of them finally realised. Any lesser mortal would have been long dead after that kind of tough love.

"Well, I can see how Mikoto has fallen for you now." Misuzu added with a wide smile on her face. "Really, challenging a entire school of high level espers without backup? I won't be surprised if my daughter has to fight off hordes of admirers just for a chance at you."

"You're exaggerating." Touma forced a laugh, as for some reason Index and Mikoto seem to be glaring daggers at him. Index wasn't that impressed by the show of esper abilities, she had already seen many such demonstrations in the days before, and to her magic is still more powerful. She has a whole library of sources telling her the things she had seen so far is nothing compared to magic.

And it's not like she hadn't seen Touma do more impressive things.

As for Mikoto, well, she's just annoyed her chance to fight Touma was taken away from her. At least that's what she's telling herself.

"Hey, Kamijou!" Another voice cut in, either not seeing he's currently busy with other people or just didn't care.

Touma and the rest of the people around him to see who it was that was interrupting them. Sogiita Gunha jogged up to them, his face split with a smile that almost glowed with happiness.

"Damn, man, that was really a match filled with guts!" The other spiky-haired teen said excitedly. "You held back on me that time a few days ago? Not cool man, not cool."

"Ah, well…"

This guy was watching? Both Touma and Mikoto felt a sweat drop forming on the back of their head.

"Can't you see you're interrupting something there, Sogiita?" Another person sighed exasperatedly. A teenager wearing average PE uniform approached them, a look on his face like he's tired of dealing with everything Gunha has been doing.

"Am I?" Gunha said blankly, before noticing Touma's parents with them and other assorted persons like a older Mikoto and a nun of all people with Touma. "Oh. Sorry about that." He laughed sheepishly.

Haratani Yabumi sighed again. He really doesn't know why he allows himself to be dragged around by Gunha.

"Well, anyway…" Gunha placed both hands on Touma's shoulders and looked earnestly into his eyes. "If we face each other in a match, don't hold back on me alright? It would be such a shame to let a opportunity like that go by."

"Um… but aren't we on the same team? You're wearing a white headband instead of a red one." Touma gulped, not quite comfortable with how close Gunha is getting. The schools of Academy City are split between Red and White sides, in order to allocate matchups between schools. Surely he knew about that by the third day?

"Oh, that? Red doesn't match well with my school uniform, and I'm more used to a white headband." Gunha shrugged, finally taking his hands off Touma. "Though Biribiri over there seem to be on the Red team as well? That's a shame, I would've liked a rematch as we never did see who won last time."

"My name is not Biribiri!" Mikoto said on reflex, conditioned by all the times Touma used to call her that. "My name is Misaka Mikoto. I understand we've never introduced ourselves that time, but can you not make up nicknames for people like that?"

"Well that has to be better than just saying 'you' when I talk to you right?" Gunha tilted his head, not seeing why Mikoto is angry at him.

"Sogiita, you're going to be late to your matchif you don't hurry!" Haratani said, already walking away. "It's on the other side of the district, you know?"

"I can always just fly there if I have to-"

"We've been through this before! Don't just take the most direct method when there are breakable things involved!"

Things like buildings and people, for example.

"Oh, fine." Gunha started to jog away, turning to give both Mikoto and Touma a wave as he moved away. "See you two around then!"

"…" Touma and Mikoto looked at one another, then sighed as one.

"…" Misuzu looked deep in thought, before finally gravely saying:

"Well Mikoto, you have a long road ahead of you then. It appears not even other young men are immune to his charms. Don't worry though, I'll be supporting you all the way-"

"It's not like that!" Touma and Mikoto both shouted, interrupting Misuzu's teasing. Though Touma was referring to how there are members of his own gender after him, while Mikoto is denying having that kind of connection with Touma.

"Ara ara, not even Touya was this bad back in our day." Shiina blushed as she reminisced about their student days. Touya gave a forced chuckle as if in agreement, glad that the one time something this bad happened to him was kept secret by his friends.

The same can't be said for Touma's situation, not when he has many VIPs like Level 5s around him. That practically begged for someone to take a photo of the things that had just happened…

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Within minutes, cellphone photos of Gunha embracing Touma hit the net and the gossip sites. Nosebleeds flowed like a flood as fangirls 'squee'd and let their fantasy overtake them, two of the most manly examples of hot-blooded teenagers in the city being together was clearly too much for their imagination.

Touma's classmates, after they had finished dragging themselves off the ground from collapsing in laughter at the turn of events, gained more sympathy for their unfortunate comrade. Things did not look good for Touma in the immediate future.

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*End Chapter 10*


Author's Notes: Gunha's a bit of a crack pairing I'm writing just for fun. I'll probably take him out of the story if it's too much, so speak up if you're for or against the #7 staying in this fic (as the joke character paired with Touma anyway; I've got other subplots planned for him). Either way, he won't be the one Touma ends up with at the conclusion of the story, just being another facet of Touma's misfortune in that it brings him more unwanted attention.

And if anyone asks why isn't Kumokawa behind all the scheming in this match, I'm thinking something like sport event results won't be something high on her to-do-list. It doesn't really matter to her whether they win or lose, and this gives other people like Aogami and Motoharu a chance to shine.