Big raindrops rocketed past the tree branches and hit the ground in small splashes, coloring the grey asphalt black in patches.
Mikoto hurried through the park with her school bag above her head, her breath leaving small puffs in the air. She glanced up at the darkening skies, and her heart skipped a beat. I hope it doesn't start before I get back. The bus stop was not far away; she could see the rooftop at the end of the park, the small shed facing the street where the buses back to her dorm would stop.
Feeling relieved, her speed increased slightly, and she side-stepped a muddy puddle while the rainfall increased in force, hammering against her school bag. Hoping it would be able to repel the worst of it, she finally reached the bus stop and the shelter it provided. Just as she let out a relieved sigh, the sky blinked, and a rumble of thunder cracked across it moments later. Her shoulders tensed and her head pricked for a second, before the feeling passed and she put a finger to her forehead with another sigh, this time dejected.
"I guess I was being too optimistic, huh."
The autumn weather was always unpredictable, even more so without Academy City's super computer to forecast it for them. It's still annoying that it gets to me so easily though… giving an indignant huff, Mikoto looked over at the time tables displayed on the screen inside the shed.
"Are you kidding me?" Her expression fell. The time table read with a news flash; 'Due to traffic light problems in Area A there are up to twenty minute delay…' she didn't care to read more. Sighing again, she sat down on the bench inside the shed, placing her dripping wet school bag beside her. As she leaned backwards into the transparent glass wall, she gazed upwards just in time to see another flash cross the sky.
She shuddered, and leaned forward while clasping her arms around herself. The rumble followed soon after, and she gazed at the ground, eyes narrowed. If they'd told me this was a side effect of becoming a high level electromaster… yeah, right.
It wasn't that much of a big deal, but she had hardly gotten a minute of sleep last night because of the same weather. Her body had tingled and itched the entire night and it was impossible to relax in the slightest. Hopefully this storm would pass by the time she got back, though she would much rather have been comfortable in her room already. She stared ahead, hands still clamped around herself, tugging at the sleeves of her school jacket. If I can't sleep, maybe I'll pass out from exhaustion. Her head was already heavy, but now the sensation in her limbs kept her wide awake.
"Oh, Misaka-san!" A familiar voice broke into her thoughts and she looked up in surprise, having failed to sense anyone approaching. The girl who had just joined her under the shelter held a large Chinese fan in her hand and her long black hair was damp from the rain. In her other hand she carried a plastic shopping bag.
"Kongou-san!" She was surprised, not only to see her here so far outside the Garden, but also that she'd be out at this time. Still, seeing that Mikoto was as well, she wasn't one to question that. I doubt Kongou-san got caught up at the arcade though. Reminded of the gang of guys she'd beaten down back there, Mikoto was struck by a guilty conscience. I hope Kuroko wasn't called out at this time.
"This sudden downpour startled me," Kongou-san said, as she lightly shook the fan that dripped of water, and checked the contents of her bag. "I was on my way back by foot when it suddenly started coming down. I guess you were caught in the same storm, Misaka-san?"
Mikoto smiled, yeah, it's probably the same storm… "Yeah, I was surprised. And it seems like we'll be stuck here a while, with those delays."
Kongou-san looked at the time table then, and her eyes widened. "Oh no." Then she sighed. "There seems to be an awful lot of traffic light problems around here. Just yesterday I was crossing a street when the lamps suddenly shut down. I wonder what would cause them to fault so often?"
Mikoto tensed up, remembering an incident yesterday that might explain the problem.
Kongou-san didn't seem to notice. "This sort of weather makes everyone lazy, I suppose it may even affect inanimate objects."
She was combing her hair with her fingers, and Mikoto realized she was all wet. "Oh." She reached down, opened her backpack, and pulled out a handkerchief. "I know it's not really enough, but you should dry yourself off a little, Kongou-san." She smiled and held out the handkerchief, and Kongou-san looked surprised.
"Oh no, I couldn't…"
"Don't be silly, just take it."
Hesitating, Kongou-san at last reached out and took the offered cloth. "Well then… thank you very much, Misaka-san. I will make sure to clean it before giving it back. Please excuse me." She wiped her cheeks, neck and forehead and then folded the handkerchief neatly and stuck it in her pocket. "It really did surprise me, I was not prepared at all."
Mikoto opened her mouth, but the sky beat her to it and flashed again, sending a shudder down her frame. "Nngh." Biting down, she clutched at her arms again, wishing once more that she was back in her dorm room. The crack of thunder rolled over them, slowly swallowed up by the clouds and dissipating in the distance.
"It sure is making a lot of racket. …Misaka-san?" Kongou-san looked at her, and Mikoto let out a tense breath and relaxed the hold on her jacket.
Kongou-san looked worried all of the sudden. "Are you startled by the thunder?" She suddenly grew determined. "I assure you it's perfectly safe, Misaka-san!"
She might have misunderstood, but Mikoto appreciated the concern. "Yeah, thanks. It's just a bit uncomfortable."
"Uncomfortable?" She blinked.
Mikoto released her arms and slowly, her heart steadied. "It's kind of silly, I guess. It feels like my ability resonates with the lightning and I can't really control it. It feels uncomfortable."
"Oh, I see! Since you are an electromaster…" Kongou-san looked worried. "Will you be alright?"
Mikoto smiled despite herself. "Yeah, no worries. It's just a little bother."
"It seems like a rather big bother if you ask me." Kongou-san stated, and she gazed at the sky.
"Why don't you sit down, Kongou-san? It'll probably be a while before the bus arrives."
"Oh!" The girl jolted, as if she'd forgotten all about the prospect of sitting down. "If – that is, if you wouldn't mind, then…"
Mikoto smiled at her polite shyness. Really, Kongou-san had this mild and gentle side that more people ought to know of. "The bench has plenty space for the two of us."
It seemed like this was enough to convince her. "Then, please pardon me." Kongou-san gingerly sat down on the bench beside her, as if worried it would bite her. The shopping bag rested on the ground between her feet.
"Where have you been?" Mikoto asked, referring to the bag.
Kongou-san's expression lightened. "I was merely wandering the streets when I found an adorable little shop. I could not resist the temptation of buying some goods for my friends."
"Huuh, can I see?" Mikoto leaned forward, but Kongou-san quickly shoved the bag under the bench.
"No, Misaka-san. There is a gift for you as well." For some reason, her cheeks grew pink at that.
"Really?" Mikoto blinked in surprise, and then a warm smile spread over her lips. "I can't wait to see what it is."
Kongou-san's cheeks grew even redder. "I-I-It's nothing of great interest, really, I do hope you will find it to your pleasing!"
"You're making me really curious. Can't you give me a hint?"
"I-I suppose." She looked thoughtful. "I believe you could describe it as a token of gratitude."
Mikoto blinked. "Gratitude? For what?" It didn't really help her guess what it would be either.
"W-Well, for… for being willing to befriend me, I suppose." Her face was growing a darker shade of red as she spoke. "I feel like I owe a lot to you, and for that I wanted to say thanks…"
Mikoto stared at her for a second, her chest swirling lightly. A bright smile worked its way onto her face. "I should thank you as well in that case, for being willing to befriend me."
She looked shocked. "What? Oh no, it's the least I could – I mean, Misaka-san, you are the talk of the school, surely you have more than enough people to pay attention to on a daily basis!"
Mikoto's smile grew more solemn. "A lot of people only think of me as the Railgun, I suppose. I don't have many close friends like you, Kongou-san. I really appreciate it."
She looked stunned, and when she failed to utter another word, Mikoto tilted her head in puzzlement. "Kongou-san?"
Suddenly, she leaned in. "You mean that, Misaka-san?"
Mikoto was surprised by her suddenness. "Well, yeah. There are a lot of friendly people, but you're really special." As were Kuroko, Saten-san, and Uiharu-san, and a few others as well.
The blush on Kongou-san's face remained, and she averted her gaze in a shy manner.
Mikoto smiled, and then the sky above them blinked again. This time the thunder came almost immediately; Mikoto clamped her arms around her torso and leaned forward, gasping down a shudder of breath as the tremor ran through her body. It felt like even her gums stung.
She hardly noticed it happen, but soon realized that Kongou-san had scooted closer, and now held her arms around her as well. "Does this help, Misaka-san?"
Mikoto's eyes widened, and not only because of the sudden embrace. Her heart was still racing, but the itch left behind from the lightning seemed less intruding.
"It – it does." She said, and was surprised again when Kongou-san leaned forward and her forehead touched upon Mikoto's shoulder.
Her voice was low as she spoke next. "I was so happy when you showed me around on my first day here. I did not realize who you were, but I grew to like the person I met." Her arms squeezed around Mikoto, and Mikoto's cheeks flushed lightly.
"I-It wasn't anything special – I mean, I did enjoy it as well." She averted her gaze, and when another lightning strike lit up the sky, the hairs on her neck stood on end. Kongou-san's arms tightened around her, and somehow the tremble that followed didn't seem as profound as earlier. She was starting to feel light-headed. The lack of sleep, combined with the continuous thunderstorm, was starting to get to her. Kongou-san raised her head and smiled.
"I hope we can become even better friends in the future, Misaka-san."
"Y-Yeah…" A new shudder struck her, just moments before the flash and roll of thunder. A hand cradled the back of her head and pulled her down, until her cheek rested against a slightly damp uniform.
"Please, Misaka-san, just relax."
The comforting voice washed over her, and Mikoto's eyes drooped slightly. "Thanks. I couldn't sleep last night…"
Elegant fingers stroked over her hair and the drowsiness seemed to grow tenfold. "You should not exhaust yourself, then. I will make sure you get back to the dorm properly."
"Mm…" whatever words she had planned to say next died on her tongue, as the heavy feeling of sleep gripped her. Even when the next flash of lightning struck overhead, the calm caress of Kongou-san's fingers and the faint scent of her smell through the rain made the tingles all but dissipate.
Mikoto closed her eyes, and finally fell asleep.