Again, a nice turn-out in concerns to reviews; so thanks everyone who submitted one. To those who didn't, feel ashamed and go to commission for repentance! Kidding aside, I've received a few comments that kinda raised a few eyebrows, so I'm gonna address the one that really stuck out the most to me. I won't name the person, but I will say that I don't really find the idea of changing who Kamijou Touma is and what he stands for appealing. I like Touma because of who he is and how hard he struggles; its the same reason I like Hamazura because both of these characters are very much normal with Touma's only exception being his right arm. That being said, I doubt I'll be diverting Touma's personality too far from what it originally was, but that is subject to change depending on how I take this. But, for the most part, I'd like to keep him the way he is for the sake of maintaining the character which all of us somewhere inside respect, admire, and are inspired by.

There is another review that I will comment on at the end of the chapter, so for now my chapter rambling is officially over.

Now, please enjoy chapter three of A Certain World of Darkness.

Evening hours, between the time most students were shutting into their dorms and curfew, held a peculiar atmosphere to it that was often times difficult to depict. There was no true way to explain it really, none that came to mind at least, to best describe the sensation that subtly squirmed its way into a person's being during this time. The streets, while still busy in other Districts, were often desolate from the normal crowds of students continuing on with their everyday lives; their destinations already so well integrated into their minds that their bodies often moved on their own accord without thinking. Whether they were making their way towards their schools or traveling to the designated facility to carry out the tasks assigned to them mattered little; their bodies still moved instinctively towards that destination. For that reason, it wasn't odd to sometimes witness some people flipping through charts or books as they traversed from district to district; though in some cases they possessed an ability which allowed them to perform such acts as easily as breathing. It wasn't as far-fetched to see someone expertly weave through a crowd with a quantum physics book covering their face and not brush up against a single person.

This was Academy City, a place so technologically and scientifically advanced that the abnormal was ordinary, and the oddest of events can be seen as a common occurrence.

But at night, the time before curfew, held a certain feel to that couldn't be explained; though not to be mistaken as a feeling of discomfort. Night signified the end of the day, the time in which one succumbs to the comfort of their own little homes and relishes in the opportunity to relax and allow the brain to gain some well deserved rest. Some people were less fortunate than others in terms of relaxation, due mainly to additional work that is required long after school was over or one punched out of work for the day. Those people, with the blessings of many, were what honestly kept this city moving, forwarding its advancement, and made it a better place for people who lacked the patience or desire to perform such tasks. Those were the unsung heros of this city, not that they really cared about receiving much credit at the time, but it was a fact that many did not ever truly recognize nor appreciate.

But, the sad thing was, those people never really had the time to enjoy those little luxuries which people often took for granted. They didn't have the time, and even if they did they most likely not be sated with doing nothing or indulging the cool night air. That was the feeling which Kamijou Touma relished in during nights like these; where he could take his time, let his body move on its own accord, and just bask a bit in the night and nearly vacant space that made up the sidewalk as he moved. Less people meant a less than likely chance of running into someone willing to start trouble; which meant he wouldn't need to spend the majority of his evening running away from people who wanted to beat him senseless for a trivial reason or another. Knowledge such as that was what made nights like these, moments in general like these, silently cherish.

It was one of the few moments in time where he could gain some relative peace and overlook the day's misgivings for at least a little while.

As it was, Kamijou was indeed indulging on this feeling, not at all caring about the weight of the plastic bag hanging down from his hand. His expression had remained neutral during the course of his travels, neither looking overly pleased nor overly depressed. It was just impartial, nothing more or less than that and, for the most part, this detachment was how he proceeded with most of the time; unless of course the situation around him alters in a way he does not expect or find tolerable. For the most part, he would rather not want to get involved in the situations he ends up finding himself getting into; but when he did he couldn't find it himself to regret it. Sure, there were a few times which made him ponder why he did one thing or another, but he didn't really have any true regrets for his actions. Most would misinterpret that statement as him saying he never believed he was in the wrong. Such an inconclusive statement was commonplace for someone who, apparently, looked like a delinquent. But that interpretation couldn't be more inaccurate; for he knew when he had done something wrong and, if it was within the realm of possibility, he would do whatever it took to rectify whatever mistake was made.

It was just one of his many good traits that people would openly admit to. Say what you want in terms of appearances, but no one could deny that Kamijou Touma was a very selfless person.

Though, truthfully, it wasn't uncommon for someone to be even slightly selfish at times. Touma was no different on that matter; especially when it concerned his budget and food supply. Hence the reason he was out and about at this time of night, having arrived far past the point where getting a good deal on essential food products to last him until the following week. Knowing that, he opted instead to at least do his homework before heading out to stock up on provisions; dreading the inevitable loss of funds in his account once he had completed this task. Sure enough, his bank account took a considerable blow from his trip to the store; which meant that he had to make it last long enough until next week when he received some additional funding from his parents.

Silently, he was very grateful that his father had given him as much as he did out of his check every two weeks. It wasn't an extraordinary amount, but enough to last him and a little extra if he could properly manage his budget. The unfortunate fact is, half the time, money had a habit of trickling down the drain due to his own misfortune; such as losing a couple yen to a broke vending machine, misplacing a few bills from his wallet, his bank-card being eaten by an ATM, and once even had his entire wallet sucked up by those cleaning robot that roam around the streets constantly. He had to fight tooth and nail to retrieve it from the latter event; even ended up getting into some trouble with Anti-Skill for that one, but it was inevitably put aside since the situation was justified.

Even still, Touma just wished to spoil himself like any other youth his age would if he had the access funds to do so. He hardly ever had the means to do so, but when he did he didn't do it on something miniscule; it had to be something that would last and, overall, benefit him in the future. That, in its own right, was just proof enough that he had his bouts of maturity and wasn't at all wasteful with his money. He couldn't afford to be like that even if he wanted to. Ultimately though, the fact still remained that, even with such maturity, it didn't help his money situation in the slightest bit; fact it only discouraged him further.

Hence why he was doing his best to enjoy the calm, quiet, stroll back to his dorm; relishing in the cool night air that came in the evening hours. He had enough to worry about since summer vacation was on the horizon and, if things kept going the way they have lately, he would be stuck doing supplementary lessens for the entire length of his holiday. From the standpoint of an ordinary high-school student, he had the full intention of indulging on that little bit of time away from classes to actually have some, misfortune-free, fun with his friends.


Odd, he could have sworn something dark and demonic was calling him. He must have been hearing things, yes, definitely hearing things and it was just the wind. That was the mindset of the said teenager as he deluded himself purposely to continue on his merry way back home. It was meant to be reassuring, even if he damn-well knew he was just making excuses not to turn to locate the source of the voice.


Once again, it must have been a fabric of his overactive imagination. Who could possibly be calling out to him at this time of night? Despite that mindset, in spite of those thought of reassurance, Touma's pace noticeably increased as he walked. Proof of this being that the plastic bag which had previously been hanging lifeless in his hand was now swaying rapidly back and forth as a result of his increased pace. He did not dare turn to address who the mysterious voice was and where they were coming from. It was one of the basic rules if you ever found yourself in a situation befitting horror flick: don't ever turn around.



All bets were off once the voice had shown up directly behind him and was practically blaring into his ears. In saying that, the teen forwent the delusion he was maintaining and simply started running. Touma no longer cared if everything in his bag fell out at this point; he just knew that getting the hell home as fast as humanly, and ordinarily, possible and seal himself up in his dorm room until morning. Had he looked back, which was pretty much not going to happen, he would have seen a classmate of his staring at his retreating back with a look of astonishment and slight irritation on her features as she watched him run. Her appearance was one very similar to Touma's in the sense that she could easily blend into a crowd of people without appearing out of place. The only distinctive traits she bore being the narrow-rimmed glasses on her face and the short brown hair that was fashioned into a low-hanging ponytail. Outside of that, there was little else out of the ordinary that made her stick out; something she knew and would sulk in a corner about if openly mentioned.

At this current time, she was staring out into the distance as Kamijou's form vanished from her range of vision. With a dejected sigh, she folded her arms across her, less than endowed, chest before making a single inquiry.

"What's his problem; he acted as if he was being stalked or something."

Five minutes after his 'escape', we find our Ordinary High-School Student panting with his back pressed against a building half a mile down the street from his dorm. His breath, though rapid, wasn't heavy at all; being chased by delinquents as frequently as he was had its benefits to say the least. That knowledge was something he was less than proud of admitting, but he even he could find the positive side in his misfortune when it he felt like it. At the very least, nobody could call him physically inept with the amount of running he did. Astoundingly enough, during the entire course of his sprint, not a single item in the plastic bag had spilled out. That knowledge alone was considerable enough to provide him with a greater sense of satisfaction than anything else. Having said that, maybe he was finally going to end his day on a good note rather than one that spelled disaster for him.

A soft chuckle escaped his lips at that thought; having already regulated his breathing back to normal and heaving himself away from the wall he was leaning against to resume his trek home. Said chuckles helped bring about a satisfied smile to his face as he took a few steps forward down the path that would inevitably lead him to home. As he performed these actions, that same positive outlook continued to play repeatedly in his mind. He was allowing himself to feel a small bit of victory over fate for once; having finally succeeded in one-upping whatever existence plagued him with misfortune for a change instead of the other way around. Had anyone else been present during this time, that person would have considered him crazy with the way he continued to chuckle to himself.

But, apparently, fate didn't fancy being laughed at.

So in response Fate had decided to remind Kamijou Touma that he was, to put it bluntly, its bitch.

In the four steps which Touma had made, he had passed the building which had a very narrow passage which separated one building from the one directly beside it. There were no lights there, no cameras, no fence, nothing which blocked off that passage from being entered or any security to monitor that specific area. But that was not all natural, for if one looked close enough and was able to see, they would note the glass littering the ground. A much easier thing to take note of was that, on the very corner of the opening to the passageway, a large hole was present where a security camera used to be located. But not a single one of these things was noted by the ordinary high-school student; but that didn't mean he was completely oblivious to his surroundings. It was, after all, very difficult not to notice the brilliant green light that illuminated the darkness in the alley, along with a portion of the area outside the threshold.

Then it came; that same brilliant green stream of pure energy that he had encountered not even twenty-four hours ago. Only, in this instance, it wasn't coming from his front, it wasn't easy to determine where the blast would go, and it most certainly wasn't just one. The only reason Touma could conclude such a thing was simply because it wasn't just one light he had foreseen; but several. No more than three, but that knowledge wouldn't have eased his heart in the slightest even if he knew the exact number of blasts being fired at him. Having been fortunate enough to notice and react was his saving grace here, and his choice of action had been very simple; yet at the same time very intelligent act on his part.

Having been subjected to the attack the previous evening, he had already come to the conclusion that these streams of energy traveled on a linear path; meaning they had a single trajectory that he could easily determine. Of course, being capable of determining the exact trajectory and reacting fast enough was a difficult task in itself to accomplish; given the velocity that these beams of energy traveled at. Henceforth, his reaction to this surprise attack had been simple; to duck. As basic a tactic as this was, getting closer to the ground was actually the wisest decision to make when you were someone in his position. For the moment his form crouched, his right arm rose instinctively in the direction the blasts were coming from. This had proven to be the best option, as two of the three streams of energy literally passed over his form whilst the third had been traveling in the direction of his mid-section had be still been standing. Had he the time to observe the trajectory of the previous two blasts, he would have noted that one had been aimed for his head and the other his right shoulder. Thankfully, with his right arm raised and his hand opened, the blast that would have disemboweled him had he still been standing collided with the extraordinary right hand and thus, turned the deadly attack into nothing.

"You're a real pain in the ass to find, you pest."

In spite of this statement, the speaker who had made this proclamation clearly sounded amused about something or another. Still standing patiently in the alleyway, the clacking of her shoes against the hard concrete almost seemed foreboding as the individual gradually advanced towards the teenage boy who had yet to rise from his crouched position. Said teenager didn't even completely lower his hand yet, taken instead to lowering it slightly to avoid to get a better view of the person who had attacked him without reason at all. By the time the clacking of heeled shoes finally ceased, the boy's deep blue eyes shone with realization upon seeing the same long soft-tea colored hair and lightly shaded brown eyes belonging to that same girl he had 'helped' yesterday evening. Of course, it should have been obvious to him at this point who his attacker was, but then again Academy City did have many people sharing a similar abilities as other people; if even to a slight extent.

Said girl, having finally stepped out into the dully lighted area, appeared to be looking quite satisfied with herself if the soft smirk on her features was of any indicator. Her left hand was positioned on her hip whilst her right simply hung limply by her side, her purse dangling between the gap created by her left arm's positioning. But, if Kamijou was to be honest, the thing that really had him captivated had nothing to do with her body or face; but instead her eyes. Those were eyes that should not belong to someone who had the body of a model, though he could not really say who or what kind of person those eyes should belong to. The point here was this; they were dark, they were empty, and they had that same familiar gleam to them that he had witnessed before.

"Though," That simple word had been all it had taken to capture every ounce of his attention. It had nothing to do with her tone, how it sounded to his ears, or any other common factor which would usually present itself when she spoke to males. They listened because, when she wanted to display her less than homicidal side, it sounded almost heavenly to their ears. Touma, however, was paying close attention for a different reason entirely; his reason being that this girl required his attention less she try to blast him again. "I will admit, seeing you practically on your knees is rewarding enough for my patience."

"Great…" Grumbled Touma aloud, though still refusing to move even slightly in the event that she attacked him once more. From this position, he could at least leap to a safe distance to avoid her attacks should she decide to use multiple beams like she had just now. In spite of this, however, he wasn't nearly as afraid as he very well should have been given who the girl in front of him was. If anything, though, he was more annoyed with this situation than anything else; having to deal with this girl the second time in nearly twenty-four hours. Could he really not get a break from these people chasing after him all the damn time! Was that really too much to ask for!? "…the angry oujo-sama of all people just needs to appear now of all times."

"Oi, what are you mumbling about down there, speak up."

"Nothing, nothing."

With a sigh, the boy slowly and cautiously rose back to his full height whilst maintaining his gaze on the girl who had oh-so-suddenly decided to appear before him. In retrospect, this action wasn't the best one he could have taken given the previous advantage he had in terms of maneuverability. He could still make a dive for it if he had to, but the chances of that being entirely successful were slimmer than they would have been prior to standing. Even still, that did not mean he had completely discarded his caution; for his right hand was still open and his arm was still leveled with his naval. If it came down to it, he could raise it fast enough to stop any sort of attack that was aimed at him dead on.

"So, is that the way you greet everyone you meet?"

The wise-crack inquiry that was ill-suited for a situation like this had done nothing to remove the smirk on the girl's features. Instead, the girl merely shrugged in response whilst shifting her head to the side, her gaze lingering towards the dark and vacant street in which the two of them were currently located on.

"There are worse ways I can think of to 'greet' people." The quiet laughter that followed this statement made Touma silently pray that he would never be forced to be on the receiving end of those 'greetings' in the future. He thought that because, at this point, it was unlikely she would be leaving him alone for some reason or another. "I'll be sure to show you sometime."

"I think I'll pass." Still sounding mildly annoyed with this situation, Kamijou gaze a fleeting glance down the vacant street which his dorm was located. He could make a break for it still, he could still ditch her if he just kept running, but he doubted the possibility of losing her at this point. It had been no coincidence that she had found him after only a day of searching; it was just inconceivable to do such a thing in such a short amount of time. So, coming to that realization, he figured the best thing to do was uncover the largest inquiry that came to mind. "So, what do you want?"

"Straight to the point, huh?" Though her head had still not altered in position, her eyes had moved instead to address the teen in question. This had allowed him to see the clear amusement that was assorted in with various other emotions that he could not currently depict. "Well, I want a lot of things, but for the moment I'll settle with…a challenge."

"A challenge…?"

"I don't think I stuttered; I want a challenge and I'm mainly curious about a little rumor that's going on around the city." As she spoke, the sound of her heeled shoes clacking along the concrete once more entered the boy's ears as she gradually came closer; her head was now to facing him directly whilst her eyes bore holes into his own and grew closer with each tantalizing step she took. "The urban legend of 'a man who could nullify other Esper abilities', I wanted to see if such a rumor was conclusive or not. You have proven it twice already that it indeed exists; now I want to see which of our abilities is stronger. My Meltdowner, or that right hand of yours there."

By the time she had finished speaking, she had moved her position to the point that, had he not retreated back a bit, she would have been well within his comfort-zone. Her expression had remained the same as it had before; betraying nothing yet displaying everything that needed to be seen. Again, though, the various emotions that were running rampant in those lightly tinted brown eyes were so many in number that it was nearly impossible to decipher them all. One thing that could be said though was that she was absolutely serious in this matter; so serious that it made him wonder if she was either overly zealous regarding this matter or feeling intimidated by the power his arm possessed. One thing was to certain, however; she certainly appeared confident.

"So you want me to act as a human target huh?" Was the analysis which Touma had voiced aloud, groaning loudly once those words left his lips whilst his posture became noticeably more deflated. His expression, which formerly held caution and concern, contorted into something that made this whole 'challenge' seem monotonous to him; his half lidded eyes and the deep frown on his features replacing the concern that was previously there a moment ago. Upon witnessing such a pitiful expression, Mugino began to silently seethe at how calmly and disinterested he appeared now compared to just a moment ago. "Sorry, but I'm tired, I'm hungry, and I've got class tomorrow; come back in a few days and we'll see."

W-was he really just brushing her off like some sort of pest? Was he really ignoring her as if she didn't matter, like she was some everyday commoner who he saw in passing every single day!? What right did he have to undermine her? What reason was there for him to believe in his right mind that it was ideal to turn his back on her with such carelessness!? It was intolerable, inexcusable, and most importantly the last thing anyone in this city should do in the face of someone such as herself!

She was Mugino Shizuri, one of the seven Level 5 Espers in a city composed of at least two-million people, and ranked the forth with her ability Meltdowner. She stood at the panicle of power in which every Esper that populated Academy City dreamed of someday reaching. She was the leader of an underground group, ITEM, and was backed by one of the Board of Directors. She had enough money to do whatever she damn-well pleased, had the looks to have any person she fancied, and have more political pull thanks to her backer to get away without anyone being the wiser. And yet, this teenager, this commoner, this insolent, ordinary, spiky-haired, ignorant worm was brushing her off as if she was no better than he was. But that couldn't be further from the truth, she wasn't normal, her being an Esper was testament enough of that, and she sure as hell wasn't ordinary. Her name was one that was well known within the darkness of this city; there wasn't a soul alive and thriving in the underground that didn't know who she was and how easy it was for her to destroy anything she set her eyes on.

He would learn this, this Kamijou Touma would definitely be left trembling in the wake of her wrath.

Had Touma been looking at her, or had Mugino been capable of seeing her own expression, one could clearly note that her features became less proper-like and more devious than anything else.

I don't think it needs to be said, but Mugino Shizuri wasn't one to taking 'no' as an answer.

Touma hadn't even taken two steps away from her before that same brilliant green energy shot past the side of his head like a bullet. His back was to her, he couldn't see her from his peripheral vision, but he knew from the silence that followed this action that she was staring at the back of his skull. And it wasn't from an angle in which she was gazing at him, she was directly behind him, while the stream of energy that had burst into existence and shot past him had only been off by ten inches or more. Since he had deduced that those beams of energy traveled on a linear path, he was easily able to conclude that she had the perfect shot at his head and purposely missed.

"I don't believe I was asking you." Uttered Mugino, the tone in which she spoke turning vicious and callous. For the time being, the girl who was speaking to him wasn't just another everyday person with an exceptional power at her disposal; but a beast that had finally cornered its prey. "You either accept my little challenge or you'll die; it's that simple."

Touma, as ignorant as he was, wasn't as oblivious towards a very real threat when he saw one. Esper's that he had encountered in the past usually were too scared to really try anything else once their abilities had been negated by his right hand. Those were the same types of people who squandered their abilities and were generally very weak people once they couldn't use their powers anymore. Touma never had a problem with those previously stated Espers, which explained why he was more annoyed with Mugino's little 'challenge' than intimidated or frightened. In her defense, she obviously wasn't aware of how many espers Touma had dealt with in his life since became clear what his ability actually was. To him, dealing with espers was like dealing with children who hounding at a teenager; persistent as they may be, they were still just kids who couldn't do much harm aside from pestering a person constantly.

But this situation was very different, this person was very different, and her claims going far past the point of being empty threats. She was very serious about this, she was equally serious about killing him too if he didn't obey to her whim. Personally, he didn't see why she was so obsessed about something so pointless. Seriously, did she not have anything better to do with her time than to bother him? Though, when he thought about it, she did say something about an urban legend that depicted the power his right arm was capable of. That meant she must really not have much better to do with her free time if she had found that little tidbit of information. Still though, urban legend aside, what was the point of going this far to prove something that, in his mind at least, didn't really matter that much in the first place?

He still had the option of running away. He knew this area quite well since this was only a couple blocks away from his dorm. Getting away from her would have been the best option, slip in between the buildings, hide out for a bit, and eventually sneak back into his dorm room once the cost was clear. Better yet, he could just call Anti-Skill and they could deal with this nut-job of a girl who was threatening his life. At the very least, all he would need to do from there was stall her until they showed up; something which wouldn't take much time at all. Clearly these two options would have been the best ones in the sense that he could avoid the entire situation by performing either option. So what was stopping him from performing either of these actions?

The answer was easy enough to determine once one was aware of their surroundings. This area of the district was filled with other dorms, meaning people who had retired for the evening were at home and in a enclosed space. Unless they spared a glance outside, they wouldn't know that there was someone outside who could basically fire lasers into their homes. He knew that, after intentionally missing her target just a moment ago, that there was a lot of heat coming off those blasts. Just because she had missed didn't mean she couldn't hurt him; in fact it briefly felt as though he was standing next to an exposed flame. He was sure that, if the blast had come any closer, he would have lost a bit of his hair and the area of his shirt would have burnt away due to the intensity of the heat alone. Other variables outside of her willingness to kill him if he didn't oblige her were how her attacks effect the surrounding area; with a high probability of getting some unsuspecting bystander hurt or even killed in the crossfire. Factors such as those were the main reason which kept Touma from following through with any sort of strategy which involved running away; hence why he remained rooted to the spot as he contemplated how to get away from this girl and avoid any collateral damage that could injure anyone else.

Of course, Mugino wasn't known for her patience and this was made pretty clear when he noted a greenish glow beginning to illuminate the area in front of him. She was preparing another possible warning shot, but he really wasn't willing to test his luck a second time this evening. Having said that, the boy exhaled noisily whilst his shoulders slumped a bit before once more turning around to face Mugino; taking note of her own annoyed expression upon meeting her eyes. Whatever it was that had irritated her must have dulled somewhat, as the small sphere or energy that was hovering over her left shoulder faded away as her body relaxed upon having attained the spiky haired youths full attention.

"If that's really what you want," For the second time in nearly twenty-four hours, Mugino was subjected to the same hardened, courageous, and determined azure sphere's that had sparked her interest the night before. As before, a delightful chill trickled down her spine at the sight of those eyes, eyes that only spurred her on to permanently rob him of and replace them with fear and anguish. "then I'll do it; but only under two conditions."

"Oh, and since when did you believe you wer–"

"Two conditions."

Calling it irritation would not do the situation justice if one were to be honest; having been interrupted by some piss-ant of a person was not something which Mugino tended to allow. Even though she held almost all the cards in this game, he still had the audacity to act as he stood above her. Normally, that action would have gotten someone killed in that instant, but she allowed it if only this once. After all, if it turned out she didn't like the terms in which he presented, then she would simply deny him those terms and proceed with her attack anyway. Whatever those conditions were, she would still more than likely fare just fine regardless of what they were. She was still a bit angry with his attitude, but she would at least hear him out; though it would be begrudgingly.

"And those conditions would be…"

"My first condition is that this thing doesn't last longer then ten minutes." Without missing a beat, the teen went ahead and addressed the first issue on his mind. Hearing that, Mugino merely crossed her arms across her developed chest before slowly nodding. Even if she had no intentions of following the terms he made, this one wasn't too much of an issue. Adding a time-limit to their little scuffle only limited the amount of time she had to toy with him before she ultimately snuffed him out of existence. Hence why it was a condition she was willing to accept; for it only provided an even greater challenge in the grand scheme of things.

"And the second condition?" Her tone, which had shifted back to a more subdued one, still had traces of mirth within it as she spoke. Honestly, the most she stared back at those eyes of his the sooner she wanted to get the event started. Just looking at them was exhilarating enough as it was; the thought of taking away what she was seeing within them was making her mouth water.

"The second condition…"

If one were to ask a person their purpose for going out into the evenings, the list of reasons can be as diverse as the color spectrum that artists use to pain. The reasons various, some having pretty common reasoning to go out while others had more elaborate intentions in mind for their endeavors. While its safe to assume that everyone who went out so close to curfew had malicious intentions, the ones who did often times had ways to avoid being caught out so late. Either by having someone cover for them or a place to go that would keep them out of being discovered by anyone; it all depended on the situation more or less. Anti-Skill couldn't be everywhere at one time, and with a population as big as two million it was impossible to keep track of every person's whereabouts. Given, there was technology which could do such a thing, it was pointless to exploit it due to the fact that it substantially violated personal privacy and would cause public uproar if such technology was used. It was used regardless, but only one person had access to it and only one person could exploit it without anyone being the wiser. That person was the founder of Academy City and General Superintendant, Aleister Crowley; but again that level surveillance and technology was reserved for him alone to exploit and no one else.

But I digress.

Among those who were out and about at this time of night, the subject of attention went towards one person in particular. Admittedly, though, he wasn't anything worth mentioning in terms of appearance. He was just another normal student and a person who was simply out at this time for the same reasons A Certain High-School Student had been out for; stocking up on supplies. He was a plain looking lad, scrawny build and rather bland clothing; basically he was yet another face that deserved nothing more than a fleeting glance before disappearing into the mass and forgotten. It was wrong to disregard an existence to that extent, but it was just how things were most cases.

Though, if for no other reason than respect, he at least had a name; and that name was Haigo Hensei.

He was just your run of the mill student who was performing the simple task of restocking his food supplies.

Nothing out of the ordinary and nothing worthy of future commentary.

But, as he was making his advancement back to his own dorm and call it a day, someone entered his line of sight. To be specific, two people entered his visual range that he could immediately take note of. One of these two people was a male, around his age, and appeared as average as he was in appearance. The only difference being his spiky black hair, something that made him stick out pretty well and most likely did a perfectly good job at making him more noticeable than other people. Aside from that, nothing else really stuck out, nothing worth musing over really; just another ordinary guy out during the evening hours…or at least that would have been his thoughts had the boy been alone.

Hensei had to guess that was walking pretty close behind him was his company; and boy what company he had. She was, literally, a bombshell that made his brain momentarily pause just from looking at her. Her long tea-colored hair, her fashionable attire, tall and developed physic; even the way she walked was enough to gain his undivided attention. Those factors alone were more than enough to have him captivated, but after mentally slapping himself he turned his gaze elsewhere to avoid getting caught staring at her. Not that anyone could blame him for it, but he viewed himself better than someone who shamelessly stares at women in passing. That led to people getting the wrong impression, which meant some girl would call him a rude at best and a pervert at worst.

Even though he fancied himself neither of those things, he couldn't help but shift his gaze from the boy to the girl as the three people gradually came closer to each other. These two individuals, however, were going the opposite direction as him, meaning that the three of them would pass each other before long. Even as the gap between the two of them gradually decreased, Hensei's mood steadily became more sullen as the girl's appearance became that much more stunning up close than it had from a distance. The fact that the boy in front of her was most likely her company instantly installed the thought that the two of them were dating. Envy entered his heart at the thought of someone just as plain as him had managed to score such a elegant looking girl; his heart screaming how unfair it was for someone else to be as lucky as the man before him.

If he hadn't valued the privacy of others and not wished to be labeled as a loon, he would have gotten on his hands and knees before the boy approaching him and beg for the secret behind his success.

"–uch further are you taking us?"

"We're almost there, just bare with me."

"You'd better keep your word, I mean it."

"Right, right, just keep up; it's not much further."

What were they talking about? Where were they going? What sort of promise had the boy made? Questions like these came in spades as the three people passed one another; neither party sparing him a second glance which only further installed that feeling of normality and indistinctiveness. He couldn't stand it, being so easily disregarded by such a babe and yet someone else similar to him was so lucky! It wasn't fair, it went against every rule that was conceived between normal people! The hot and sexy women were always meant to be with men of the same status; not some ordinary commoner like himself or that guy! That was the law of the universe, that was the unspoken and unwritten law of society!

It was just plain bullshit and unfair for that guy to be so damn lucky!

It was because of these nerve-wracking thoughts that entered his mind that the young man ceased his movements for a moment to clutch a handful of his hair and began tugging at it so hard that he may as well have pulled it out. During the course of this action, tears of frustration and envy streamed down his eyes at a fast rate. Yet, in spite of this aggravation and jealousy, a part of his heart had felt the need to complement the boy who had one-upped just about everyone he knew by having gotten himself such an attractive young woman as his girlfriend. The part of his heart which made him complement the lad in passing also managed to open the doors to a new perspective that made his actions cease once more whilst a spark of hope emerged in his eyes.

Perhaps it had nothing to do with looks, maybe status or class mattered when it came down to it all. Perhaps that guy did look average and normal, but there was still a possibility which had allowed that teenage boy to attain such a fine diamond such as that. It had to be the guy's personality; something which made looks and status become obsolete in the eyes of that girl. While appearances and class were indeed things that most women looked for in a man, someone with a good personality that was compatible with their own was a key factor which usually could make or break a relationship. Obviously the guy who had passed him had the traits of a good personality, for he himself could not think of any other reason why the girl would be hanging around him otherwise; especially at this time of night.

With that thought in mind, Haigo Hensei turned his attention around towards the retreating backs of the couple along the sidewalk; his eyes watering as he pumped his fist up into the air in the direction of his newest hero and idle. He would follow his example; he wouldn't let things as measly as appearance or class hold him back. He lacked both, but his personality would eventually win the heart of some girl out there in the future. He knew this now, and in his heart, mind, and soul he had a Certain High-School Student to thank for making him realize this. Hensei would make him proud, prove to everyone that even he could eventually have a girlfriend as beautiful as that boy's.

"Thank you." It needed to be said, it would be wrong of him not to display gratitude to someone who was deserving of it. He now had hope for the coming days, a reason to believe again, and a new inspiration to strive for a better tomorrow. With that simple action completed, Hensei turned around and presumed his journey back home; where he would rest for the coming day and become nothing more than a fleeting memory in the eyes of the couple whom he had turned his back to.

Hello there, nice day aint it?

Now, on with a few notes before I get to the other review mentioned above. You'll note that, in two of these scenes, the people which appeared were 'normal' everyday students that you would see along the roads or in the classroom. Apply this to the mental thoughts that were written during the second scene and I'm willing to bet you can figure out this chapters theme. That's right 'normality' and to that extent Touma's dealing with Espers can also be listed in the 'ordinary' category in his mind. To everyone else, dealing with Espers wanted to kick your ass isn't commonplace, but to him it is and thus the reason it still follows the overall theme of this chapter. And yes, I know I left this chapter hanging and I'm willing to bet half of you reading this are screaming at me to get on with the fight. I will, but I have a quota in terms of chapter length and these AN's are wordy enough as it is.

Oh, and don't think too much on the guy in the last scene; he's just as he seems. His name meaning can be found if you go to Denshi Jisho (websit I use for jap terms) and just type it in. You'll get a good chuckle out of it to say the least.

Now, for the question in the review before I wrap this up. To answer it, again not mentioning names, I'll say that Mugino is a high possibility but Rikou I'm not sure about. If anything, I'd rather not think about the pairing since Touma's right hand negates the 'Red String of Fate' meaning that the possibilities of who he ends up with are limitless. It could be anyone for all I know, but know that I'm not going to put Hamazura on the sidelines if I ever get that far. I like the guy too much to leave him out and let him get some lovin'. Poor guy has enough problems as it is, leaving him out would be the greatest insult to his character and I won't let that happen.

As always, leave any inquiries, thoughts, or concerns that linger in your mind in your review. Also, if there are any mistakes that present themselves to you, please inform me so that I can make the necessary adjustments. Until the next chapter, I wish you all good health and good fortune.

Goodbye for now.