Toaru Kagaku no Magician
The doorbell rang.
Soaked to the skin, Ishiki walked to the entrance of his small dormitory. His mood was so degraded by that moment that he literally expelled steam. Or, rather, his body produced such heat that the water over his skin and uniform evaporated, drying his clothes and skin quickly.
Even though his ability was similar to the striking and powerful Pyrokinesis*, this was not Ishiki's power. It was easy to mistake him as a user of that power due to the ignition that occurred to the oxygen of the surroundings when he got angry.
Even so, his ability was much more. In the beginning, the scientists at Academy City believed that he was a Dual Skill, but that theory was discarded eventually when they researched further the functioning of his power. Ishiki didn't fire the oxygen directly by lighting or heating it. If that was his power, he shouldn't be able to cause freezing or small but violent earthquakes.
His power consisted of molecule vibration control. When he vibrated molecular oxygen in his surroundings it ignited. When he slowed the vibration rate of dihydrogen monoxide it reduced its freezing point, creating solid-ice walls. The same principle was applied to control steam. The violent earth movements were caused by maintaining hard and constant vibrations to the nitrogen, iron, and phosphor molecules present in the atomic constitution of the ground, leading to violent subsoil unevenness and, even, big earthquakes in small areas.
Because of this, his ability was registered under the name Base Alter—Skilled in the Four Precepts**.
Arriving at the door he was completely dry, which juxtaposed with the soaked room and the books scattered all over the floor, wet as if the Genesis Flood had manifested exclusively in his room.
Who is it this time? he thought, gritting his teeth in a way he nearly could hear them creak.
Nevertheless, when he opened the door, his face contorted by anger turned to an appeased expression. A girl of middle height, her hair copper-colored, was at the entrance to his room, with her hands behind her back.
Attired with the distinguishing uniform of Kurumizawa High School, with a white dress shirt wore under a turquoise wool vest, the girl posed her reddish-brown eyes on his friend's, as happy as always—or, is needed to clarify, almost always.
"Good morning, Kishi-kun!", greeted the girl, waving her right hand happily.
"Eeh... Good morning, Yukiko", answered Ishiki.
"Eeh? You seem weird. Did something happen?"
Dissimulate, Ishiki, dissimulate! You can't let her know, said the boy to himself.
Yukiko Hitogata was the name of the girl. One of his two childhood friends. A sweet and kind person, though she was strong-natured and a bit unstable.
"Hm? Why do I smell smoke?", inquired the girl, frowning slightly.
Ishiki looked away, in a vain try to not reveal his wrathful behavior just minutes ago.
Shit! I forgot to tell her to not come for me today, he thought. This morning has been truly unfortunate.
Absorbed in his thoughts, Ishiki didn't notice the change in his friend's expression. She wasn't smiling but was looking at him with mistrustful eyes. Being unable to avoid it, he felt the girl shoving him violently to the side. She didn't even take off her shoes at the entrance when she noticed the disaster caused by the earlier battler between a raging Ishiki and the fire system.
"What happened here?!", she yelled, making an exaggerated movement with her hands, as if the untidy room were a monster she wanted to defend herself from.
"Eh... A little problem with the fire detectors...?", answered the boy, scratching his head nervously.
" 'Little'?! Look at this place! Even my own room is more organized than this garbage dump!"
"Haaah? Don't talk like it's my fault!", reclaimed Ishiki, returning fast to his own bad manners. "I slept badly last night, and the alarm clock rang suddenly when I wasn't even in a deep sleep! Even you would've woke up in a bad mood!"
"You do know why it is called 'alarm clock' in the first place, right?! And yes, I admit that I wake up in a really bad mood each time that hellish sound rings, but that is not an excuse for your serious self-control problem! You really need to control that power of yours every time you get furious!
"Besides, how is that you slept bad?", the girl averted her gaze from the room and fixated it in his face, looking closely. "But you... You're wounded! Who did this to you? Were you in a fight again?!
The girl's face quickly changed from anger to concern. She had those mood changes a lot, and her attitude reminded Ishiki about that character archetype... Tsunderes, were they called?
This is why I didn't want you to see me like this. I hate to worry you for things without importance..., he thought.
It was always the same. They encountered, argued, and yelled at each other, and even so they always had a great concern for each other's wellbeing. Ishiki remembered when they were children, his bad character took him to fistfight against other classmates, especially when they bothered her. Even so, Yukiko always ended up crying, both for the commotion because he jumped to defend her with Maruo, their other friend, and also because of seeing them with bruises and scratches.
It was, in fact, way before they moved to Academy City and signed up for the Ability Development Program.
Way before becoming Ability Users. In those distant days, now just living in their memories, Ishiki just had his fists to fight. No fire, earthquakes nor ice. Only his own strength and determination.
It was even curious that the latter mentioned was what pushed him to his violent questionings. After all, he was afraid that the murderer will start to look for Level 0 victims only to satisfy his morbid bloodthirst.
Because the girl standing in front of him was exactly that, a Level 0 Ability User, with a latent, undeveloped and undiscovered talent. It had nothing to do with the scientists' negligence, nor with mistakes in the examinations. It had nothing to do even with her own carelessness in her training.
She simply was incapable to project a superhuman ability until she reached, at minimum, Level 1.
"Who was it this time? And you better not be fighting that dangerous criminal from the news!"
"Who? You mean the murderer?", asked Ishiki.
"I mean the one with the cape. That guy seems to be really powerful. Don't dare to try and capture him on your own!", the girl warned him. "Anti-Skill and Judgment will take care of him".
"No, no. I really didn't fight with anyone that dangerous. It was a Level 2 that tried to take my wallet", lied the boy. "I just restrained him until Judgment arrived".
"Really?", asked the girl. The mere idea of someone trying to steal from her best friend terrified her.
"Geez... You always look for an excuse to pick up a fight. You're starting to be like that dude from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure or something.
"I'll try to fight less, okay?", Ishiki gave up.
"I want you to promise it!", yelled the girl, kicking the floor. Her eyes glowed more than usual. Was it due to the tears covering them up?
Without knowing what to say or how to act in front of a girl crying in front of him—and such a beautiful one—Ishiki agreed.
"I promise", he said, showing his right pinky finger to her, blushing a bit.
Yukiko smiled a little. She wiped the tears from her face and crossed her own pinky finger with her friend's.
"Thank you...", murmured the girl, looking down, slightly embarrassed.
Suddenly, her face returned to a wrathful expression while she picked up something from the floor.
"Please, tell me these aren't the manga I lent you", she said, glaring at him. The sweetness and concern in her gaze disappeared, replaced by irrepressible anger.
The mass that she picked up was of different colors, mainly black-and-white. The books' covers were nearly liquified due to the excess of water.
"... Oh, oh..."
"Yo, Issan, Hitogata-chan", greeted a red-haired boy, peeking from behind Ishiki's apartment's opened door. A fast shadow passed by his side, to the hallway, like it was running from the Devil itself.
"I'm going to kill you!", yelled Yukiko, pursuing Ishiki across the hallway. She didn't even bother to put on her shoes when leaving. "You owe me three Kijutsushi-san's volumes!"
"I'm sorry! I'm really sorry! I will replace them, I promise! Just calm down!"
"DON'T YOU DARE TELLING ME TO CALM DOWN, ISHIKI!", screamed the girl.
The red-haired boy observed his friends disappear behind the corner.
Love problems? asked the boy to himself, staying there without being even noticed by his friends.
"I would have to mediate between them again...", he murmured to himself, picking up his friends' shoes from the entrance and closing the apartment's door.
I will arrive late to class again for their fault!
*As in the original series, I write the abilities' names in kanji, changing the pronunciation with furigana. In this case, Pyrokinesis is written as 発火能力 (Hakka Nōryoku), which means Ignition Power, but the furigana above is read as パイロキネシス (Pairokineshisu).
**Base Alter is written as 四冊熟練 (Yonsatsu Jukuren), but is read as ベース・アルター (Bēsu Arutā).