And if the spirit is willing and the rivers don't rise
And the light doesn't disappear out of our eyes
And adventure stays with us with its pain and surprise we'll be together again
And if the line takes the strain and the rope doesn't break
And the venom stays asleep in the tooth of the snake
And we don't hold against us the mistakes that we made
Oh, we'll be together again

- Dougie Maclean, "We'll Be Together Again"

Chapter 1

Hello, Goodbye

"Toumaaaa..!" a part-exasperated, part-depressed whine came from Index, currently entertaining herself with the highly meaningful action of pacing back and forth in the main room of Touma's apartment. The dark-haired teenager sighed, sitting behind the locked door of his bathroom. Right now, that was singlehandedly the only thing he could do to avoid her attacking him and biting him bloody. God, but sometimes being her friend slash foster father slash keeper slash renewable source of food was pretty damn impossible. In a way, he was glad – and he felt bad about it, because he knew that was very selfish of him – about this recent turn of events that he was only informed of yesterday.

Oh, right, you people don't know about this, he thought to himself loudly, as he liked to do sometimes, imagining (?) an audience listening to him, the protagonist and narrator of a story that was anything but boring (… right?). Style called me, Kamijou Touma, yesterday. Short summary of what you need to know: Index is leaving, at least for the time being (the time in question being a loosely defined term). Apparently the Church of England noticed a sudden rather unexpected surge in inquiries being made about Index in rather… disreputable circles, and Style, as well as other leading officials in the Church, thinks it best if Index lay low for a while. I'm not sure why they think this is a problem more worrisome than any other I've encountered due to Index until now, but apparently I'm getting an explanation the moment they get here.

Which would be today. At some point.

"Touma, I'm hungry!" Index's wail, interrupting Touma's inner monologue, was way too woebegone to actually mean what she said. It was more likely a not-particularly clever ruse to get him out of the bathroom (thank gods both Shinto and Christian for bathroom door locks).

"The fridge is full," muttered Touma, with a look of annoyance on his face (because who wouldn't be annoyed after spending the morning sitting on the toilet without any actual point to said sitting?), "take whatever you need."

He certainly wasn't having a fun time, either. Index, after all, was (despite all the irritation, trouble, merciless biting, etcetera and etcetera) his friend and he didn't feel right just kicking her out like this. Touma wasn't exactly appreciating the fact that she was looking at this the same way she looked at anything he did that she didn't like: that this was something to torture - usually by way of biting him so badly he had to be driven to the hospital due to blood loss - him over. It wasn't easy for him either.

"Toumaaaaaa…" her whine – in that same familiar tone that she had whenever he refused to buy her a toy or a pet – came from the main room again, this time less depressed and a bit louder. "Why do I have to go? It's not fair!"

Possibly. Then again, this DID mean he could finally have his bed back. After disinfecting the sheets. There was so much cat hair in them every time he washed them he was actually scared of what insidious experiments Index performed on Sphinx at night. This would be an opportunity to… well, really, get back to normal life. Somewhat. Until next Wednesday, at least, when Style would probably show up and drag him into something highly misfortunate. Or worse, Himegami… or Misaka. Either of those two would be a living walking counter to any sort of normal life.

He did not even want to consider how anti-normal would be anything someone like, say, Accelerator dragged him into.

"It's for your own good, Index-"

His phone rang loudly, the ringtone echoing throughout the room. No doubt it was Style, or Tsuchimikado, calling him to inform the Church has brought along its delegates and will be visiting sometime soon. Perhaps they're even downstairs.

Touma jumped to his feet and he reached for his pocket. And then the other one. And then he sighed and muttered, in a typical habit of his, "Fuko da."

His phone was evidently left out in the main room. The dark-haired youth muttered a few curses, steeled himself in advance to becoming a victim of childish sadism, readied his reflexes and unlocked the door, taking a bold, very, very bold step outside.

If I was a different sort of writer, here we would have a (well-deserved, no less) timeskip to where Touma is already treating his wounds, namely the bitemarks Index's latest assault left him. However, after a lot of personal debate with mostly myself I decided that there is a much more logical turn of events to be had here.

As Touma slammed the door open and stepped outside, just as he expected, Index pretty much pounced at him, trying to claw her way atop his head (which she would then promptly bite without mercy). It was that expectation that saved him. Immediately, he ducked, thus removing himself as a viable obstacle to Index's flight and consequently redirecting said flight's destination to the inside of the bathroom. He felt a slight pang of guilt when he heard her hit the floor, but, to be fair, she did try to bite him in the FREAKING HEAD.

Using this advantage – which he would not, he knew, have again – he raced towards his phone, slapping it open and holding it to his ear just as he dashed for the door.

"This is Kamijou Touma speaking-"

He had no time to lock the door, because Index was by now (mad with rage, too) right behind him. He merely slammed it closed hastily and dashed down the corridor towards the elevator which, he honestly hoped, would've been a legitimate refuge.

"Uh," a voice belonging to a person that was so unused to being unsure of herself, yet felt exactly this way right now, said from the other end of the line, "this is Kaori. Kanzaki."

Touma would've grinned, normally – Kanzaki was one of those few people which, nowadays, he never really saw any downsides to meeting – she was remarkably incapable of being irritating. However, these were not normal circumstances, especially because the elevator door slammed closed right in front of him, prompting him to hastily sprint for the stairs with all of his might.

"Kanzaki-san, I'm really- kind of- well, not really in the best situation right now! Please tell me you can take Index off my hands, like, right now, before she kills me- uungh!"

In a sheer fit of fuko da too great to be illustrated by any known words in any human language, Touma, in the process of racing down the stairs, slipped. Slipped. His phone lashed right out of his hands and down the stairs, while he achieved something that extreme sports fanatics have long tried to do but eventually after millions of failed attempts deemed a level of misfortune beyond the capability of a normal human being. He slipped so dramatically, his entire body twisted, bending over the barrier separating the stairwell from, well, thin air (a lot of it: thin air all the way down to the parking lot) and he fell. Down. In those few seconds of him falling, he closed his eyes. There was a bright flash, and a scream, and…

For a moment, he thought he had died. Then somebody laughed. A woman. Wait…

Touma opened his eyes, took a glance to the left, to the right, and then fixated his eyes on the beautiful purple-haired woman right in front of him. Who was, yeah, laughing. Himself, he couldn't exactly laugh. There was something wrong with the picture here. He was just… sitting. Just like that. On… the street. Wait, since when was the street squishy and… moving?

"Will you get off of me already?" Style-Magnus muttered from under him. Apparently, somehow, by some sheer uncontrollably absurd strand of logic that makes sense only in the weirdest of plotlines, Touma managed landing flatly on the guy, slamming him right to the ground. And apparently, somehow, by some sheer uncontrollably absurd strand of logic, Kaori was finding this amusing. Touma sighed and grabbed on to the sheathed katana she held out for him to use as leverage to get up.

Just for a moment, their fingers touched. The sword-maiden seemed to blush. Touma knew he definitely blushed, because – he had a habit for noticing stuff like this, and said habit was really annoying him lately – he noticed her beautiful breasts bounce under that shirt of hers-

Gah! Focus!

"Now then," said Style, dusting his cloak off, "I don't think you fell out of the fifth floor for legitimate reasons – you never do. So I can only assume Index will be down shortly. Don't take the card out of your pocket, please, until you're sure she won't bite you."

"What card..?" came a confused response from Touma, right before he felt something in his back pocket. Realization struck him just as Index, with a face red with childlike rage, raced down the last stairs and towards him, growling nothing particularly articulate-

… and bumped into… well, thin air. It was as if someone had erected an invisible barrier between him and Index.

"Ha! You can't touch me!" he growled, triumphantly, as Index put on her best impression of a mime, trying to find a way through the invisible barrier. There was none, apparently.

This was not happening! For once in his lifetime, he was actually safe from her bites?! Finally!

"Ahaha! You can't touch me while I have this!"

Touma salvaged the card from his pocket, holding it up in the air victoriously. And just as he did that, another realization struck him, one that had a lot to do with the soundless invisible explosion that he felt shake the air as he touched the card. A lot like a typical neutralization he performed on any other supernatural power with Imagine Breaker.

"No, you fool!" shrieked Style, as Index successfully stepped through the now neutralized invisible barrier. Touma gulped.


TL;DR: Touma had a LOT of bites on him after that.

Right now, he was sitting in the departure hall in Academy City's airport, by a table on the other side of which sat Style-Magnus. Kanzaki stood beside, her arms crossed on her chest. (I see what you're thinking, fanboys.) Style lit his trademark cigarette and started talking, after a quick glance to make sure that Index was still picking her toy on the toy vending machine.

"Right, Kamijou. You know the situation, I've told you about it on the phone. There have been a lot of inquiries about Index lately, in secret agencies of less than good reputation. And I mean a lot. The amount has literally jumped from zero to more than acceptable in one day. That was two weeks ago. By now, we've caught so much chatter about this topic it's not even funny anymore."

Touma's face contorted into a rather frustrated expression.

"You see, Touma-san," Kaori spoke, quietly, "We've never had info about Index be transferred so quick through such mundane channels as a private investigation agency, even if it was one of the best. Mainly because the major threats to Index, if they used such a channel, could be identified and isolated and dealt with rather quickly."

Her eyes drifted from him, watching away at nothing at all. Her face betrayed her regret.

"We haven't been able to, this time."

The look on her face was just so miserable. For the first time in her entire life, she didn't seem to have been able to deal with an enemy. For the first time in her life, she seemed to have actually less than succeeded at a task. For the first time in her life, she had failed to protect what she valued the most. Touma felt guilty, as if he had been the one to cause her to feel this way.

"I'm sure it wasn't your fault," he murmured loud enough for her to hear, even though he knew it wouldn't help much. Well, the bright side was that she at least smiled at him. A shy and very pretty smile, with just a trace of a blush on her face, too. She was really endearing sometimes, to be perfectly honest. And when she wasn't, well, then she was just plainly hot.

Dammit, Touma, keep it in your pants!

"It was," she replied, still smiling, "but thanks anyway. The point is, the trace of the culprit got lost in a chain of sixteen different fake identities used to communicate with these agencies. A pro is after Index, and what's worse, it's probably not a magician, so we have no idea of what moves he might take – a magician would be pretty easy to stall for you. Not to mention, there's too much information about her already out. If we don't spirit Index away to London, there will be an obscene number of agents and bounty hunters after her. That's why she has to be taken away."

"I don't understand," Touma scratched his forehead. "Why can't you just place a stronger guard on her here? I already hardly own anything in my dorm," he grinned more at Kaori and less at Style, "I could go live on the street if you need a place to stay. It's hardly an improvement from the bathroom. Or, a better question: why can't I go with you guys to London?"

"Placing a stronger guard on her requires resources we don't really have," Style replied, scratching at his cigarette. "And you going to London is too problematic. I don't know if you've noticed, but it is the middle of the school year. Someone would notice, and it wouldn't be Tsuchimikado."

"Ehehe," Touma gave an awkward laugh. These were rather depressingly solid arguments. Depressingly not so much because he was worried about Index going away – the thought that his bed would finally be his own again was just too fantastic to worry about anything else by this point – but rather because he should've thought of them himself. "Got it. Now, though, there's one problem. Index will be safe in London, I'm sure of this. But… not to sound selfish, but what about me? Me and Tsuchimikado are literally the only people here who will help me if someone, still uninformed that Index has left for England, brings, say, an army of bounty hunters here. I and my psychopath right hand – both literally and figuratively – can only take on so many people at once."

"First of all, I trust you, Kamijou Touma," Style looked him straight in the eyes, a piercing glare that at the very core said, basically: 'Prove to me you deserve it'. "Second, we've actually… taken precautions for your safety, and we trust those precautions even more. Thirdly, you won't be alone with Tsuchimikado, not just because this is a city but also because Kaori seems to want to stay here. For the time being."

There are some points in your life that the only logical thing to do seems to be dilating your eyes so they look like silver plates, give your conversation partner a quizzical expression that only translates into English as "srsly man wow that's" and then use your mobile to post a status on Facebook saying nothing but one word: "Winning."

Unfortunately, Kamijou Touma neither thought of doing these things nor managed to think of doing them as before the surprise managed wearing off, his "psychopath right hand" showed up.

"Kamiyaaaan~!" Tsuchimikado, standing just a few steps behind them, yelled in that typical schoolboy way of his, immediately prompting a response from Kaori: clenched teeth. "Only you, my friend, manage to trade a child you've been babysitting for hell knows how long now for a sexy swordmaiden bodyguard! Unintentionally! Take good care of Neechin, now, she's wanted to take care of you for a long time…"

"SHUT UP!" Kanzaki growled, both embarrassed and enraged, pointing a finger angrily at the blonde teenager. "I'm not, er… taking care… of anyone! Why can't you ever just go away, Tsuchimikado?!"

"Nor is she your bodyguard. She merely opted to spend some time here, home in Japan. Nevertheless," Style said, calmly, lighting another cigarette, "Tsuchimikado is right on one thing. Take care of Kaori, Kamijou Touma. She has certain inadequacies with washing machines."

Touma shot a confused glance at Kanzaki, who tacitly averted her eyes while clutching her fists and put on an air that spoke of nothing less than the urgent need to punch Tsuchimikado and Style both in the face. Then he redirected his glance to Tsuchimikado, who was currently dying of laughter, and to Style, who put on a bit of a smile on his face, but that cleared up few of his doubts. "You're never going to let me live through that incident, will you?" Kaori said, almost grating her teeth while at it.

"No, not really. Back to business, though. Tsuchimikado, you've arranged for a place for Kaori to stay, I hope?"

As Style said this, his eyes fixated on the blond kid as if to pierce him through. It was plain that Style quite simply did not trust the teenager's ability to do anything other than lie.

"I did indeed, barcode face! And it's most likely safe, too. There's a nifty hotel down the street. I would've gotten her baggage there, too, if I'd managed to catch up to you before now."

Touma had seen many, many, many scary things throughout his life. Too many to list, really. But still, he couldn't help but gasp when Kanzaki took her sword and flung it, with a bit of a feel that she wanted to kill him with it (even if it was still sheathed), at Tsuchimikado, who unceremoniously caught it with one hand.

"Here. My baggage."

The aircraft broke its contact with the earth, lifting off the ground with a dull and rather quiet thud.

What? You expected some sort of belletristic commentary on how the airplane achieved the divine task of defying gravity, and as it disappeared, it looked rather like an eagle? Who am I supposed to be, Victor Hugo? Find another victim to ply your sick scenery porn desires on. Airplanes have been defying gravity since their very inception. By now it's neither divine nor unusual, especially considering that is the very way of discerning an airplane from a bike. And I'm not sure how idiotic you have to be to liken a plane to an eagle in the 21st century, for one because an eagle can actually flap its wings and emits way less CO2 into the atmosphere. The Wright Brothers' days are long gone, there's nothing actually romantic anymore about airplanes. They've become what they are now – tools for moving people from one place to another much quicker than usual.

Touma and Kaori, observing as the plane distanced itself away from them and vanished beyond the horizon, felt nothing poetic about its flight, either. They watched on thinking not of defiance towards nature or of, in sharp contrast, the pseudo-natural pseudo-poeticism of the aircraft and its ability to climb the skies, but of the fact that their dear friend, Index, was being swept away to a quite distant place by that, well, tool.

"Well, that's over with," Touma spoke, after quite a while. "Want a bite to eat?"

Kanzaki, surprised by the unexpected question, did something of a half-gasp, half-cough. And slightly blushed. Deep within the dark bowels of his mind, some perverted part of Touma's personality was highly enjoying the sight. Most of the rest of his personality, by contrast, didn't exactly feel comfortable with making Kaori feel uncomfortable, and forced him to say, "You don't need to if you don't want to-"

"No! No, I want to," she interrupted him rather eagerly, delivering him a bright smile. "Let's go, Kamijou Touma. Let's go grab a bite to eat."

Well. Now that you're past that, I would like to make a few notes.

1) You've read both the description and the story; by now, I'm relatively, more or less, somewhat a bit just a little, sure that you realize this is mostly a romance fanfic. Thank God, it's not just that, otherwise, knowing my experience with romance fanfics, I'd go, "nuuuuuu I'm just bored nuuuuuu" right after writing the first chapter. I'm trying to develop something of a main plot for the pairing to run alongside to without pushing it into the background or, quite the opposite, being pushed into the background. Of course, there is the slight problem that I might get bored of this just like I do of all my other fanfics, but at least it will (hopefully) be at least three chapters in.

2) Guys, if I do get bored, feel free to bombard me with demands to continue, like readers did with my "Otherwise". Also, I'm really sorry to the readers of that sad fic, but after I wrote the first and only chapter I sort of felt like I had accomplished my great historical goal of making ASoIaF less tragic. Anything more felt like an overextension. If I get bored with this one, though, remind me that my great historical goal in writing this one was writing a legitimately long enough Touma/Kaori fic because there aren't enough to sate basic human justice and that goal will not be accomplished until the fic's FINISHED to its very penultimate end.

3) My grasp of canon is really bad. I'm only scratching myself through the last episodes of the anime, and I have not read the light novels nor read the manga. Quite frankly: this diverges from the plotline at the end of the second season of the Toaru Majutsu no Index anime. So I apologize in advance for any inaccuracies of any sort.

4) On the name of the story, and the song quoted at the beginning. "We'll Be Together Again" is a folk song by Dougie MacLean, the world's most underrated candidate for both most badass man on the face of the earth and best singer ever. I admit it, the title was halfassed a bit – I merely took the song I happened to be listening to (which I thought was as good a theme song for the Touma/Kaori pairing as… for any other pairing, really) and tossed it in as both a direct inspiration for the title and as a quote at the beginning of the story. What I find rather interesting that the song works not only as a theme song for Touma and Kaori, but also (in a friendly and/or friendzonely way) as a good background to Index leaving. Just a random thought.

5) There is the matter of Style/Stiyl/Steyr/idunno-Magnus's name. The official English translation seems to be Stiyl, but myself, I'm not much a fan of that transcription, and much more used to one variant I found in a fansub I watch: Style-Magnus. My personal overall favourite is the Japanese pronunciation - Steyr - but that's so distant from Stiyl that the part of the fandom that watches dubs and not subs like me would probably not get it all. So I went for something which is somewhat more aesthetically pleasant (well, to my ear) but is less unexpected to English speakers.

6) Review pls gais i beg u