Chapter 1: You Shouldn't Run From The Cops
Denki feels the electricity abruptly cut out a second before his game console died. The window to their cramped room is the only source of light now, so he flings open the curtains. Every inch of wall and ceiling is plastered with posters or magazine cuttings of Present Mic. He isn’t one bit embarrassed either. The guy is amazing. He’s idolized Present Mic for years and is why he even wants to be a Pro Hero.
Behind him, his fraternal twin lets out a loud groan after his crappy desktop dies a swift death. Denki’s not worried though, since all their computers were directly connected to an old server with a small backup gas-run generator and batteries in case the generator fails to kick on. The server automatically saves whatever you were working on every ten minutes. Outages were entirely too common in their household.
“Aunt Yozai,” his twin says muffled into an arm. “Now’s not the time!”
Denki laughs. “Jiki, take a break! It won’t kill you.”
A baleful silver eye glances through his dark brown locks. “It might. I need to get this project done. I was going to send it into that competition. You know—”
“The one that if you win first place you get a scholarship to that top end electronics high school? How could I forget?” Denki bounces up the ladder of their bunk bed and flops onto his bed. “You’ve only said so a million times!”
“By my estimate, it’s only been repeated fourteen times over a period of six months.”
Denki laughs again. “Yeah, yeah. I think you should take a day off. You’re in the—” He waves a hand around. “That phase where you’re just fixing bugs and stuff.”
“…Debugging?” His brother has twisted fully from his seat now, properly distracted. Perfect.
Denki feels the air in their room getting warm without the AC on and the sun shining in. At least they’re both wearing shorts and graphic tees. Thankfully, Katsunori is at his part-time job or it’d be even worse since he naturally puts off heat because of his Quirk.
But Denki’s going to get stir crazy. He needs to get out before he feels like he’s suffocating from the silence in the walls.
“Oh!” Denki lifts himself up off his pillow. “We should hit the arcades! My treat!!” He vaults over the side of the bed and lands in a cool-looking crouch. The soles of his feet sting but it felt great. “Yeah!” He throws out a-thumbs up with both hands as he straightens his knees.
Gazing through his heavy bangs with a single streak of blonde, Jiki blinks at him. “You’re going to hurt yourself one day doing that.”
“Maybe when I’m old and have osterpersosis!”
“Yep!” Hooking his arm through his brother’s, Denki drags him up to stand. As usual he slouches a bit, before Denki elbows him in the lower back.
“Hey! Rude.” Jiki rubs where he’d been jabbed in the back and then stretches. “Fine, fine. Let’s go,” he says as he’s rubbing grit out of his eyes.
“Alright!!” Denki reaches into the massive pile of books, papers, assorted pens and pencils, and notebooks on his own desk and pulls out his wallet. He pretends he doesn’t see Jiki’s annoyed expression. Messes really bother him, but Denki had the worst time trying to organize anything and couldn’t stay focused long enough to finish when he actually tried to organize. Most of the time, Jiki would cave first and clear the mess off of his desk so that it was useable again.
They nearly bump into their baby sister when they open the door to the dark hallway. Shinaya takes a quick step back, shining her flashlight into their faces.
She drops the flashlight down and backpedals. “Sorry,” the nine-year-old says with a quiet voice, the light glinting off her glasses and blonde braids. The light from the bedroom window seeps into the hallway.
“What’s the ETA to get the lights on?” Jiki asks her.
“I ‘unno. Dad said that Aunt Yozai cooked the circuit breaker.”
“That’s gonna take almost all day, if she has to check the wiring too,” Denki says.
“Why’d the relays not flip like they were supposed to?” Their sister as ever has a voracious appetite for knowing things. Denki turns to Jiki because of course he’d know. He seems to know everything.
“It’s not industrial grade,” Jiki answers, “they’re not built for the kind of stress she puts them through.”
Denki wraps an arm around Jiki’s shoulders, and the tension seems to ease from them. His brother has never liked the dark or the sudden lack of magnetic fields emanating from the walls. “Well, we’re heading to the arcade. You wanna come, Naya-chan?”
She hunches a little shyly, while shaking her head furiously. Her braids flop against her face before settling down. “N-no. I’d just get in the way. You should have fun without me.”
Letting go of Jiki, Denki reaches out to lightly tousle his sister’s fringe. “You wouldn’t be in the way, Sis! You know it’s okay to say no. We won’t get mad at you.”
Shinaya dips her head down. “I don’t wanna go when it’ll be packed with people. Can we hang out later?”
“Sure! Jiki’ll probably be working on his coding project, but we can!”
“Kay. I wanna bake a carrot cake.”
“That sounds awesome, Sis. Let’s put some chocolate icing on it too!”
“Cream cheese frosting usually goes on it…?” She says hesitantly.
“I know, I was teasin’ ya. See you later, yeah?”
“Yeah, see ya,” she answers softly and then slips by them to the bathroom, flashlight blazing at every dark corner before she enters. The fraternal twins head toward the entryway.
“Dad! Jiki and I are heading to the arcade!”
Wearing a ratty Metallica t-shirt with well-worn jeans full of holes, a beardless, gangly man with blond hair peppered with silver looks up from the innards of an LCD screen laid out on the wooden floor of their living room. There is a cord grounding him so he doesn’t accidentally destroy something with his Electric Shock. Sunlight streams in through the front window. “As long as you’re back before dinner. Tonight’s pan-fried fish and noodles.”
“Yeah, yeah!” Denki slips into his favorite sneakers while Jiki quietly does the same.
“Be safe and don’t be a stranger!” His father yells as they head out the door.
“I think it’s ‘and don’t talk to strangers!’, Dad!” Denki hollers over his shoulder as his Dad shoots him a thumbs-up and a wink.
Jiki rolls his eyes as the door shuts behind Denki. “Why is our Dad so lame?”
Denki answers trying to sound wise and all-knowing, “Middle age.”
His brother snorts, bumping him with his elbow, and leads them down the step and very short path to the stunted gate. “I think it’s a Dad thing. Awful puns and terrible in-jokes.”
Choumiryo Ward is pretty boring as far as Tokyo went. It mostly has lots of apartment complexes and residential neighborhoods. The closest place to shop is a convenience store. The actual shopping district where fresh produce could be bought is a good half hour walk, but the arcade’s only a block away from their tiny house. It isn’t like one of those big multi-storied ones found in huge shopping centers but it did take up the first floor of a sizeable building all by itself.
It’s Saturday so of course the noise of the crowd rushes over them after they enter. So much electricity flows around them that it made them relax. Jiki makes a beeline to the nearest open rhythm game, an old Pop’n Music game machine. As soon as Denki inserts money, his brother quickly clicks through the options, selects BATTLEmode and a song, and then chooses his speed. Denki chooses the same speed and hovers over his three buttons.
Denki wins that round because Jiki missed one of the Ojama button hits, so he scoots over and plays a full round first. He plays solo on expert level, some catchy pop song that was popular a few years back. His breath keeps catching in excitement, heart stuttering as he taps the controls mostly out of memory. It’s only a couple minutes before it’s over. He throws up a victory sign as he hits the leaderboard. “25th place, not bad!” He quickly inputs his favorite callsign, “Bolt”, and then surrenders the controls to a patiently waiting Jiki.
His brother chooses some upbeat rock song and begins hammering away at the controls. Instead of getting ‘Great!’, ‘FEVER!’ keeps flashing on the screen over and over again. He beats his best score, ranked 3rd place, and inputs ‘Jiji’ because his sense of irony over claiming to be an ‘old guy’ hasn’t faltered yet. They trade places and Denki plays again. After his turn, the credit turns back to 0.
As one they turn away from Pop’n Music machine to see that the Jubeat Qubell machine was open. Jiki raises an eyebrow and Denki nods his head in its direction so they both head to it. It’s one of Jiki’s favorites so Denki quickly adds money to it and steps back. It has a good sound system to drown out the noise around them with sixteen button-screens that light up to tap in time to the music. Jiki picks the Snow Goose song, no surprise. It’s intense and overwhelming in a way, and Denki personally loves the challenge, but it’s Jiki’s fingers that fly over the buttons tapping them like he’s typing in one of his coding trances.
After two minutes, Jiki completes the stage with Excellent and a perfect score. He selects another song. That credit will last him awhile.
“Hey, I’m going to grab something to drink. Want the usual?”
Jiki nods as he readies his hands over the glowing buttons as the song’s first chords begin.
Pushing through the crowd that has gathered by the old DDR machine where a little kid was shredding it on a dual-platform song, Denki sidles up next to the crane machine where several vending machines were stocked with a variety of snacks—one is dedicated to frozen treats—and drinks. Denki slots in the remainder of the money he scraped together by fixing random things for neighbors or his aunt. He picks a cold coffee for Jiki and an energy drink for himself. After collecting the drinks, he nearly bumps into a man wearing a trendy outfit; it’s obvious that the dude is loaded.
“ ‘Ey, I know you. You’re that kid who kicks ass at the Taiko Drum.”
Denki doesn’t recognize him. He doesn’t look like any of the staff or regulars. It’s weird but his face is hard to focus on. “Yeah? What d’ya want?”
“I wanna see how I measure up.” Something about his eyes, but Denki finds the more he stares the more he relaxes. It’s not that he’s not aware of anything else. In fact, he’s perfectly awake. It’s just the eyes seem to suck him in. Hell if he could say what color they were. That didn’t seem so important.
“You’re Kaminari Denki, right?”
“Yep, that’s me,” he responds lazily with a slow grin. The last of the tension seems to fade from his bones.
“Your aunt’s the one that owns the itty bitty Support Agency down the road?”
“Mmhm! Aunt Yozai’s always in there tinkering.” Denki responds happily. He doesn’t feel like he’s floating exactly, but he’s not concerned at all about giving out this information.
The man moves in closer, but doesn’t break eye contact. “’Ey, so, you want to help your family out right?”
“Always. Doesn’t everyone?”
“ ‘Zactly, kid. Y’see, my family,” and here the man smiles, “would like a sample from your aunt. She’s the best of the best, amirite?”
Denki is nodding along with a goofy grin on his face.
“And that sample would put your aunt’s name out there. Everyone will know about K Unlimited. It’ll be on the national news. Doesn’t that sound good?”
“Yeah! So you just need a sample?”
“You got it, kid.” He puts a business card in Denki’s t-shirt pocket. “Something portable, but durable. Come to the address on the card so we can put on a demonstration. Free of charge, kay?”
“Kay,” Denki says, and then the man turns his eyes away, and the immediate rush of arcade noise drowns out his first thoughts. His fingers are freezing on the drinks. He blinks and then frowns, looking up at the ceiling as he tries to remember… oh! He had to get a sample from his aunt’s lab. It’ll be great PR. He cradles the drinks, stretches his fingers to warm them, and fishes the card out. It’s heavyweight and the font shines under the dim lighting. “Rampage Media, huh?” There’s an address underneath and it’s not even that far from the arcade. He tucks it back into his pocket.
Pushing through the crowd, he finds his brother scowling at the crowd. When he sees Denki, he straightens his slouch and quickly meets him halfway. “I was getting worried that you got lost.”
“Yeah, nah.” Denki hands him his coffee. His brother pops it open and guzzles it down like water. Ugh, it wasn’t even sweet. “I’m broke after buying drinks, unless you want to spend your own?”
Jiki grimaces at the thought and starts towards the exit. “Let’s go home. I’ll ask Dad if I can borrow Mom’s laptop if the power’s not up yet.”
The street is much quieter and the fresh air feels great on Denki’s face. “Mm. I think I’ll go help Auntie out in the lab,” when Jiki gives him a weird look, Denki quickly adds, “Or wherever she needs me.”
“Thought she banned you last week.”
“That was last week. She always bans me, twice a month at least. It’s tradition now. Yep.”
Jiki snorts. A moment later, he hooks an arm around the back of Denki’s neck. “You’re irrepressible, little brother.”
“No, you don’t get to say that!” Denki slips out of his near-chokehold. “We’re the same age!”
A rare laugh erupts from his twin. “I was born first, ergo—”
“It was twenty minutes!! 2-0, that’s barely anything at all!” Denki whines as they turn towards the gate, where Asaya and Yuubae are checking the mail after returning from their part-time job.
His older sisters turn as one, because they’ve practiced it to be as unnerving as possible. They look identical with amber eyes and dirty blonde hair, but their sense of fashion couldn’t be more different. Yuubae has her hair cut short and spiked with gel because she likes the hard punk look with black leather and cutoff gloves, while Asaya has long hair pulled back in a loose bun and prefers a more forest-girl style with pastel colored loose-fitting clothing. They’re the same age as Katsunori since they’re triplets, but his older sisters are identical while Katsunori is a fraternal triplet, like Jiki is to Denki.
“Hey, little brothers,” they chorus together. Denki can’t suppress the shudder. He hates it when they do that, and the high schoolers knew it.
Asaya asks coyly, “Did you have fun-“
“At the arcade?” Yuubae finishes.
“Yeah. I made nothing but Excellent on the Jubeat,” Jiki says with a lopsided smirk as he eyes Denki. “This loser got lost on his way back from the vending machine.”
“Mm.” With some surprise, Denki realizes he still hadn’t opened his energy drink as he fiddles with it between his palms, but now he doesn’t want it since it’s too warm. He’ll stick it in the fridge.
“Denki, are you okay?” Yuubae is looking at him, eyes sharp. She’s always been that way, quick to be protective even when nothing’s going on. They’re all a little like that though.
“Yeah, just distracted. Don’t worry, Yu-chan. I’ll be fine once I’m able to play my game again.”
“But your homework?” His other sister prods.
“Psshaw. Asa-chan, if I wanted to do that I’d finish it yesterday, like Jiki here.” He gives his brother a solid whack on the back before he can slide away. “It’s not like I need to finish it to pass the upcoming test.”
“Your study skills are going to bite you in the ass, come high school,” Jiki says, because of course he does. With that, their sisters head into their overly warm home first, greeting the pictures standing on the altar in a small cabinet in the living room. Dad must have finished fixing the LCD screen because there’s no sign of it in the room now. Denki can hear him puttering around the kitchen.
“Welcome home!” Dad has popped up from behind the wall without giving them a chance to announce their presence as they all remove their shoes. Instead of asking for the laptop, Jiki hangs back and causes the back of Denki’s neck to crawl from his concerned staring.
“Yeah, we’re back!” Asaya brightly calls, while Yuubae heads to their room adjacent to Denki’s, probably to read smut knowing her. Asaya has already pulled off her loose shawl and hung it on one of the hooks by the door. “Need help?” She moves to the kitchen which hides behind a chest high partition, while Denki approaches the altar properly. The incense sticks have gone out.
“Nah, I got this,” Dad answers.
Asaya opens the fridge and swiftly pulls out ingredients. The fridge and the air purifier with its ozone-removing filters are the only things that hum with life in the entire room. They’re hooked into the grid for the backup generator that also keeps the server going. “I’ve got the salad. Did you have another all-nighter fixing all that stuff?”
After pulling the pillow from the corner where it was tucked, Denki kneels on it and then pulls out new incense sticks and tosses the old ones away. With a small spark, he lights them and sets them in their holders with a brief moment of silence and bowed head.
The altar has six black picture frames. Four are of their grandparents, kind-looking and old, all gone now since last year, but there are two others: one of a young boy and the other a young girl. The glare from the sun streaming in makes their faces indistinct. Denki sends a silent greeting to his deceased siblings, Denbai and Hane, whose Quirkening left them with lethal Quirks that took them within a month of gaining said Quirks. They would have been fifteen and six if they had lived.
If not for Jiki, Denki might have joined them.
“Hey,” his twin jostles his shoulder. “Did something set you off at the arcade?”
“Nah,” Denki manages a smile. “I sometimes wonder… about them.” He nods towards their siblings’ pictures.
“Me too. Hane’s Electro-flight was really amazing to watch.”
“Yeah.” Neither of them was born before Denbai reached his Quirkening, but his Electric Control Field sounded sweet.
Jiki’s waiting awkwardly next to him, while Asaya and Dad continue making dinner. He’s never been able to stand still next to the stark reminder of their mortality. “You know, you can sit with me while I finish the project. If you need to?”
Denki simply nods as he finally stands. “Thanks, Bro.” He gives him a relaxed smile, and some of that tension leaves his twin’s frame. “I’m going to see where auntie went off to. If I don’t show up for dinner, send help.”
Scoffing, Jiki turns away. “Bro, no one’s gonna come save you from auntie. You’re on your own there.”
Denki laughs, and Jiki asks Dad about Mom’s laptop. As soon as he gets permission, Jiki leaves in search of said computer. Mom won’t be back from her game developer job until late evening at the earliest. Denki tries to remember if this week was the dreaded Death March or if the deadline was next month. He was really bad with dates.
Entering the darkened hallway, he heads to the door slathered in danger symbols with a bit of wood keeping it propped open. The power was still out so the electronic lock system isn’t working right now. As soon as he gently lets the door rest against the wood stop behind him, he lets sparks dance over his fingers for light and descends the stopped escalator, which would normally carry him down. Once he makes it downstairs, he can see that his aunt is nowhere around.
That makes things easier. He turns on one of the hanging battery-powered lamps on the wall, and its dim light weakly brightens the room. Allowing the sparks to disperse, he slowly turns in place taking in all the tech squashed everywhere, mostly in pieces or in the process of being built. He knows her storage is packed full of readymade equipment in special briefcases but he doesn’t have access to those with their security locks.
Besides, he’s only going to borrow the gear for a little while. He really wants to impress the pants off of the PR guys so he goes over to the prototype boots—which look like giant metal slippers—but, more importantly, he knows they will fit him. He and his aunt share the same shoe size, until he hits his next growth spurt of course.
He steps into them and clips them on over his socked feet. Very carefully stepping out of its holder, the boots are heavy but he’s used to it. They’re only clunky because he hasn’t activated them with his Quirk.
There are two gauntlets she’s working on that are nearly done. Denki knows one is definitely a capture weapon, but the other is going to be a surprise. He quickly puts them on, latching them in place clumsily since he’s not used to trying it out on his own. He looks down at himself and then grabs the ankle-shin-guards that connect to the boots off the shelf next to the empty boot holder. He snaps them into place, and then grabs his aunt’s welding goggles for added coolness factor. He straps them to his head and looks into the shiny chrome of the nano-tech assembler near the lamp, adjusting the goggles.
“hmmm” He snaps his fingers when an idea hits him. Heading to a metal shelf deeper in the dark of the lab, he pushes some discarded parts aside and pulls out the sound cancelling-radio receiver he had hobbled together with his aunt’s help. Rechecking the chrome, he slides them on his head and then poses with a grin and a victory sign.
“Yeah! This is going to be so cool.”
Denki carefully makes his way up the metal steps, trying not to clunk too loudly on each step. “I probably should’ve put these on after I went upstairs,” he comments to himself.
When he pushes open the door, it’s Katsunori that’s standing there arms crossed and glaring with flinty, obsidian eyes. He’s a massive guy with black hair and bulging muscles and simply radiates heat due to his Quirk. The sticky, warm air becomes even more oppressive.
“I don’t like that nickname, Dekkun.” He sees the equipment on his little brother, and his scowl deepens.
“Ahaha, Nori-kun, you see. I was bringing these to Aunt Yozai. She said she needed them.”
“Huh, well that’s weird. Why would you be wearing them?”
Denki feels sweat pouring down his neck. “Because it’s easier than carrying them in the dark.”
“Hm. Whatever. Don’t get caught going for a joy ride like an idiot. Make sure you’re back before dinner, too.”
“Okay.” His relief is palpable as he makes his way to the cooler entry way and opening the door. “I’ll be right back! I’m gonna go make auntie proud.” Before his oldest brother can respond, he pulls the goggles over his eyes and activates the mag lev boots to skate out of their property and down the road. He bends forward in a slight squat and the boots work like a dream. The wind buffets his face and the sleeves of his Ω shirt as he tears around one corner and then another easily dancing around obstacles, vehicles or people or stray animals or telephone poles.
He turns on the radio receiver and with a small spark of his Quirk changes the frequency control in it. It’s a jumble of noise before he finally sets it. An old replay of “Put Your Hands Up!” is being broadcast. Hell yes. The show is on its break so the steady drums are pounding through his veins and the remixed violins sing through his limbs.
Braking sideways to a stop in front of the eerily nondescript building, Denki pulls out the card and checks the address again. Guess they must be a new start-up if they don’t have any signage. He pulls open the glass door, and the receptionist stands at his entrance. Kaminari-kun? We’ve been waiting for you, he reads the dude’s lips since he’s not removing the rocking music from his ears, thank you. The dude looks a bit shady and twitchy in the ill-fitting business suit and sunglasses, but Denki shrugs and moves past pairs of security guards in fancy suits also wearing sunglasses. That is weird. The lighting in here isn’t that bright.
It’s not until he passes into an auditorium with a large stage on it that Denki thinks he might be in trouble. Lots of guys in business suits and sunglasses turn from their seats as he enters, their conversations cutting off. Shit, is this a Villain convention. Shit. He vaguely remembers the news report about a villain gang moving into the neighborhood, but he honestly wasn’t paying that much attention.
“O-oh. I came to the wrong place, so I’ll just be—”
The guy from the arcade is there and bends down to eye-level, and Denki relaxes as the rational voice in his head screaming bloody murder fades to the far background. Oh, hey kid. You brought a lot of stuff. I only needed that. Bad guy points at the gauntlet that Denki wasn’t sure to its purpose. Dude’s lips flap but without sound Denki doesn’t feel like it’s a good idea, and the screaming voice telling him to Get-The-Hell-Out-Of-There is leaking back into his brain.
Denki’s lazy demeanor tightens, but he says brightly, “Oh, it’s not for sale.”
The guy’s eyes are trained on his, I’d ask for a demonstration, but I don’t think you’d be willing to do that,
“Nah, I don’t help villains,” he beams at the man when the dude suddenly pulls out a gun. Before he gets off a shot, Denki clicks the boots back on and they send him soaring away. He discharges the capture weapon on his right arm. This makes Boss Man’s eye contact with him break, and Denki’s breath is coming back in harsh gasps. The villains around him are closing in and this is bad, bad, bad, bad. They’re grabbing for him, reaching…
So, he releases a large jolt of electricity, only a million volts at 0.05 mA for a second or two, he’s not a murderer k thx. The arcing flash hits and passes through them, and a ring of twenty guys collapse on the floor with severe muscle spasms on top of one another. He stands up like he’s in molasses and looks at bad guy. Boss man with the Submit Eyes?—or whatever the hell his Quirk was—looks like he only just realized that he messed with the wrong person.
Everyone else is fleeing, but they can’t escape all at once. Denki can’t hear them with the music pounding in his ears. It emboldens him. He feels like a real Hero, and even a gun doesn’t really scare him. “You wanna surrender before I get serious?”
The gun fires, and it’s just dumb luck that Denki isn’t hit. Everything seems to slow down even more, and he clicks on his boots, electricity crackling up—regulate, regulate, regulate, don’t overdo it, he chants in his mind—and he body-tackles the guy. Under Denki, Boss Man is seizing up.
Denki quits using his Quirk and stands. The man is still twitching, even though his eyes have rolled back. Then Denki turns to the only exit. There’s still a bunch of guys trying to get out, but they’re all panicking and very stuck. Denki stands tall and grins broadly. One of them turns to see him approaching and another wave of panic goes through them.
Raising his hands up like a showman, Denki lets his Quirk spark from his wiggling fingertips and then he claps his hands together. A thunderclap that rattles his bones rocks through the group and they collapse towards the door. “Stay down, assholes!” Hopping up, the mag lev boots lets him hover easily over their twitching forms.
Dinner’s probably ready by now, he thinks as he makes it to the lobby doors. His eyes go comically wide when he sees the police cars and police trucks packed with trussed up villains. His breath catches.
“Oh shit. Shit shit shit shit.” Denki looks down at himself. Yep, he’s in deep shit. An unlicensed kid using unlicensed support gear and going full-on vigilante? SHIT.
A police officer sees him and without letting him out of his sight, hits the radio clipped to his shoulder talking into it.
Denki runs back out of the lobby and enters some backstage area, knocking down boxes in his panic. Sparks jump off of him towards the most conductive things around him. He bodyslams the emergency exit into a truly disgusting back alley full of garbage and broken appliances.
He scans the area, but it’s the high warmth behind him with the firelight flickering through his legs that truly clues him in that He. Is. So. Fucked. Denki spins on his heels and chokes.
The No. 2 Hero looks thoroughly annoyed. He must have said something while Denki’s back was turned. Denki jerks backwards as if he had taken a blow. He stumbles and nearly trips over his foot as he turned, and then surges towards the wall dividing the alley, pulling out some Jackie Chan moves from his ass. With the boots to propel him, he angles his feet just so in the corner grabs the ledge of the wall to flip safely over the tall obstacle. All the times he scaled his bunkbed pays off.
He takes a moment to breathe, and he floors it as soon as the wall begins turning colors behind him and melts. His brain states the obvious that Endeavour is in town. “FUUUUUUUUUCK.”
The frequency control in his headset is going crazy as Denki’s Quirk loosens from his control more. Sparks arc off him toward lampposts, doors and the bars on windows. The jumbled noises from his headset only drive his heart up to his throat. He swallows, takes a shuddery breath, and pulls his Quirk back enough for headset to stop doing that. He wants to get away and go home. He didn’t sign up for this.
“The Electrification vigilante is on the move. I repeat, on the move heading west. Choppers are on their way.”
Denki’s dumb luck is something of legend in the Kaminari household. He doesn’t know how the hell he got the police frequency, but he does an abrupt spin and goes in a different direction, towards Koshou Park. The thing with being a bored, hyperactive almost-teen is he knows all the hidey-holes in Chomiryo.
Everyone else seems to be moving really slowly as he darts around corners and slides past a few of Endeavour’s sidekicks. His heart chokes him for a beat, sending a shock towards them, and a look of surprise slowly crosses their faces, but he’s gone before they can even react. His panicked spark only shorts out the lamppost near them.
“He’s been spotted in the shopping district, heading south. Be advised as he is displaying super-speed in addition to his Electrification Quirk.”
Denki blinks behind the yellow-hued goggles. So… his Quirk can make him fast when he’s freaking out? COOL—Denki grins but then collides into someone who wraps their arms around him and spins to cancel his momentum.
Without thinking, Denki discharges the same amount of power as last time, but the pecs his face is buried in barely flinches. Denki’s heart is in his throat again as he cranes his neck up. He sees a sharp chin and a wide, blinding smile. “Oh god, it’s All Might!” He screams out like the stupid fanboy he is because. ALL MIGHT!
All Might tilts his head down and readjusts him so that one bulky arm wraps firmly around Denki’s skinny frame. His throat and chin are moving but Denki hears nothing as he gawks up past the pecs.
“The vigilante has been safely apprehended by All Might,” The radio receiver helpfully supplies.
Warmth hits Denki’s exposed side, and he cranes his head around in time to see Endeavor walk up. Denki’s heart slammed against his ribs. Pure lightning courses through him—REGULATE, his brain screams, but it’s far too late for that—and into All Might. No 1 Hero collapses like a pile of bricks. “Oh GOD. I -I KILLED HIM.” He watches in horror as All Might coughs up blood.
All Might is waving a twitching hand and still coughing up blood but appearing like he might be trying to calm him.
“They’re gonna lock me away forever. Oh god.”
Endeavor picks up his pace towards them, stalking like a MOTHERFUCKING GIANT predator. With a jolt, Denki shoots forward, skating towards the street. He cries out in panic as he realizes the police had started cordoning off all the streets around the shopping district. He focuses his Quirk into his boots and ricochets off a building to get the change in momentum he desperately needed. He shoots through the nearest opening left.
A wall of flame stops him in his tracks and spreads over the pavement underneath him. His change in direction had brought him back towards Endeavor! The mag levs judder, shuddering and vibrating, under him but remain stable despite the extreme heat of melted concrete. The boots were made to withstand 5000 W of actual power. Its bulk is mainly the cooling fins on it.
Denki looks up, and Endeavour’s frown has deepened and the flames wafting off of him are higher than before. He looks ready to barbecue him. His impressively large feet are melting the concrete beneath him with each step he takes towards Denki. “Enough. Turn yourself in, brat, before I get serious.”
All Might is hanging back with a sharper smile than before but at least he’s no longer coughing up blood.
“Oh thank god,” Denki mutters, relieved that All Might seems okay.
Suddenly Endeavour is on him and grabs Denki’s arm, wrenching him forward. The hand is too hot, way too hot and it scalds in an instant and burns not a moment later. Denki screams wordlessly as the shock of pain hits his nervous system. Electricity arcs from Denki as he immediately grabs at the scorching hand, and the No. 2 Hero is blown back into the nearest building, flames momentarily blown out.
Denki freezes like he’s a deer caught by headlights because he didn’t regulate that strike. Like a slightly stunned bull, Endeavour shakes his head and immediately gets back up, while steam momentarily billows from below his waist. Denki gapes because, well. Electric shocks can cause loss of muscle control, and well, he’s pretty sure Endeavour just pissed himself. He chokes on the reactive a snort trapped in his throat.
The glare from the Pro Hero is raging murder in the form of deadly cold blue eyes. “You damn brat!” He flies towards him, fist raised and incoming, but All Might intercepts catching Endeavour before he’s on top of Denki and spins him around so that he’s facing the opposite direction. The heat rolling off the No. 2 is like a blast furnace and even All Might has to step back as the flames turn blue.
Turning away as he cradles his hurt arm, Denki feels his secondary ability activate. The mag levs make it so much easier to zip out of the shopping district and past the stunned officers, realizing only as he’s soaring over the blockade that his earlier panic was really stupid.
He makes the mistake of looking at his left forearm. It’s blistered and red with cracked black center in one coin-sized spot. All the pain is around the edges though, and it shoots through the back of his head at the sight. He shouldn’t have looked. He stumbles, the pain knocking the breath out of him.
“The vigilante has escaped heading northwest. Any available Pro Heroes please respond, and be aware that this is a Code 015 event. Use of deadly force is expressly prohibited.”
The voices over the frequency are just white noise. Denki blinks at the grass. He is leaning against a tree in a semi-forested area, arm curled against his chest. He is sweating buckets, but shivering uncontrollably. He swallows down the vomit in his throat and looks up. It’s not Koshou Park. Where the hell is he?
He slowly looks around, using the tree to steady him.
UA High is right there. How the hell did he get to Musutafu? That’s a thirty minute ride by train.
He’s exhausted, and he’s panting and the pain doesn’t stop, sitting there like an uncomfortable knot he can’t remove from his brain. He’s only been burned once when he touched a hot pan when he was young, but this is a league of difference. He wonders if it’ll scar.
“What is the vigilante’s description?” A gruff, tired voice asks the dispatcher, and Denki zeroes in on the noise.
“Subject is male, aged 12, wearing a white t-shirt and bright green shorts and unlicensed support gear. He has shoulder-length blond hair with a streak of black in the front and tanned skin.”
Denki swallows but his mouth is so dry now. He’s finally calmed down enough at least, even with the pain pulsing like some living parasite behind his eyes. He wobbles as he listens closely.
“Currently in pursuit. Vigilante is outside UA grounds near the main building.”
SHIT. Denki ducks his head down and grits his teeth. He really wants to go home and get chewed out by his aunt, but now some other Pro Hero whose voice he doesn’t recognize at all is after him.
“Roger that. Units have been dispatched.”
Denki focuses on his shuddering breath and forces it to even out. Then he flat out runs making him bounce high enough to see the UA grounds over the wall. He had forgotten the boots. He swoops his legs forward as he lands and skates, but for some reason he can’t go as fast as he did before. Hit a limit, He thinks. So he cradles his left arm and turns a corner straight into a blast of air. His bones rattle from the vibrations that completely cancel his momentum, severely disorienting him. He clicks off his boots and curls forward to keep from flying back. He looks up when the air blast gently, yet suddenly disappears. He stumbles forward as the pressure disperses.
He almost dies again. “P-present M-m-mic?” He squeaks out.
The Pro Hero has his directional speaker around his throat and is peering at him over his glasses with a curious expression. “That must be some noise-canceller, KIDDO,” Present Mic lips flap with a grin and then poses and winks. “I heard you were a fan of mine, Denki-chan? Nice hairstyle.” He flashed Denki a thumbs up.
HIS HERO IS STANDING RIGHT THERE. The pain from his arm fades a little as he works his mouth but nothing is coming out.
“But you know? Being a vigilante is a BIG NO-NO.” Present Mic raises his hands as he shrugs and shakes his head.
“IT WASN’T MY FAULT,” Denki shrieks, wanting to confess all his sins to his Hero. “SOME DUDE USED HIS EYES ON ME AND I STOLE AUNTIE’S GEAR AND THEN I WAS SURROUNDED BY BAD GUYS AND I K-ZAPPED THEM! ZAPPOW-O-oh,” Denki stutters as thick strands of fabric falls onto his shoulders and then tightens.
He’s trapped! He flails but he can’t really move at all. And his Quirk isn’t responding at all. It feels like there’s a cork on it. He can sense how close the energy is, but it’s kept out of reach like a cookie jar being held over his head.
He stops struggling when it suddenly dawns on him that everything he did up to this point only made everything worse for him. Now exhaustion and pain is wound tightly with wave after wave of regret and guilt, spinning like some terrible merry-go-round. Held tightly in the capture weapon, he bursts into tears. “I JUST WANNA GO HOME.” His knees buckle, and the only thing keeping him from slumping on the ground are the tight bands holding him fast.
The cork suddenly goes away, and Denki doesn’t react fast enough to regulate the sudden, desperately familiar feel of his Quirk. Electricity courses through him, and the Pro Heroes are knocked back, their shoes left behind.
Denki stumbles and falls flat on his face. As soon as he awkwardly sits back up he lets out a screech of alarm. Present Mic isn’t moving—“Oh god, I didn’t regulate! Did his heart stop, is he okay, shit shit shit”—but the guy who had caught him is the first to sit up, muscles jerking in an uncomfortable way. His hair flies up and his eyes glow red when he directs them at Denki, and the pressure returns.
He sags to the ground. Raising his hands up from their trapped position at his waist, Denki yells, “I’M SORRY. IS PRESENT MIC OKAY?”
The guy is wearing all black in this heat, and his dark hair is long and shaggy and probably just as hot. He stumbles a bit as he stands, but he never blinks or looks away from Denki as he makes his way towards the other Hero.
“I GIVE UP, BUT LEMME TAKE THIS OFF.” Without waiting for a response, Denki squirms out of the slagged capture weapon and shoves it aside. He pulls off his headset and goggles and quickly unclips all the support gear, dropping it where he stood. He shimmies away from the pile, kneels and then lies onto the warm concrete, right cheek smooshed to the gritty surface, with his hands on top of his head. The position brings a new wave of pain from the burn, but Denki grits his teeth as tears flow from his eyes. The pressure hasn’t left him once.
Somebody groans. “Damn, KIDDO. You really pack a punch.” Denki watches as Present Mic’s sparking speaker is dropped like junk on the ground. “It’s not your fault though. Eraserhead didn’t properly do his job.”
Who the hell is Eraser—“Oh god, isn’t that Present Mic’s Best Friend. Shit, shit shit,” Electricity crackled along the ground, towards the two but then vanishes again.
“Cuffs broke?” Eraserhead murmurs as he tilts his head in Present Mic’s direction.
“Yep. Absolutely fried. I thought he couldn’t go over 1.3 million volts or something?” The Pro Hero is pressing a hand against his chest, and their voices are very quiet, but after the near silence of the headset their words might as well be jackhammers. “Wonder if it stopped my heart and the fall restarted it?” Nonchalantly, he picks up their shoes and slides one pair to Eraserhead.
Denki whimpers and starts shivering again. He keeps trying to focus his eyes, but everything goes blurry no matter what he does.
“He wouldn’t need to reach that high since we were so close. Think of substations and the amount of space between the step-down transformers and the fences.”
“What a powerful Quirk,” Present Mic mutters sounding a lot like Denki’s sister, Yuubae when she gets jealous about Asaya’s cooking.
“Hey, KIDDO.” Present Mic is suddenly there, like he teleported or something, and loud, tapping his cheek lightly. Denki thinks he must have zoned out. “Hey, roll over and sit up, so we can cuff you and get you medical care for that third degree burn of yours.”
Denki slowly does so, stomach rolling. His joints hurt. No his everything hurts, especially his arm. “Ugh.” His lips are chapped, and he feels intensely thirsty. His arms are gently maneuvered into the Quirk Suppressors and then as soon as they’re secured he’s pulled up onto his feet by his Hero. Present Mic is holding up his sagging body, and Denki feels himself teeter. He’s caught by a solid, warm hand and easily lifted. He blinks slowly up at Eraserhead, and the detail Denki notices first isn’t the heavy bags under his black eyes or the stubble, but the crease of concern between his thin eyebrows.
Then he’s being set down on a gurney, and the paramedics are checking him over, his pulse and his eyes, that he’s still breathing. They prop up his feet and throw a sheet over him, keeping his injured arm free of it. After one of them sticks needles in the elbow of his unhurt arm, the other connects a half bag of something to it which they stick on top of his chest. They load him into the ambulance, and the doors shut.
The paramedic, who followed him in, picks up the bag and puts it on the large hook sticking out from the wall. “Denki, I’m going to pour some water onto the burn okay?” She upends the small bottle with a narrow spout, and the cool relief it brings is only momentary. She pauses and repeats the process again. He hisses.
”How about you tell me a bit about yourself?” After drying off the area around the burn, the paramedic places a moistened, large bandage over the burn and then wraps it in place. The ambulance jolts into motion.
“C-can I have some water?” He croaks out.
“That’s what the IV was for. You should start feeling better soon. If you feel worse, then tell me.”
“O-oh. Thanks.” Denki looks down at his bandaged arm as the heavy swaying of the ambulance jostles him around. The siren sounds far away even though he knows they’re right under it. “Um. Why doesn’t it hurt in the middle where the black part is?”
“The nerves were destroyed. They’ll grow back. Mostly.” She smiles at him and prompts him again, “Do you like video games?”
“Yeah, been playing the newest Final Fantasy release.” His tongue feels a bit heavy now and his eyes are watering, and he looks up at her. “Did anyone die because… because I…”
“Shocked them?” She shakes. “No fatalities yet, but severe electric burns can cause necrolysis. Don’t worry about that right now, hun. Just take it easy.”
Denki’s eyes slide close, and he slips into sleep as the pain fades away.
When he wakes up, his head feels like when he’s got a bad cold, stuffy and full. He rolls his head, realizing he’s in a hospital room, a private one, and there’s a police officer sitting by the door. He looks down and sees that he’s still got the suppressors on, and one hand is cuffed to the bed. His left arm is bandaged from the cuff to the elbow but he doesn’t feel a lick of pain.
A hand waves in front of him, and his deaf aunt says, Finally awake, Thunderclap? Today she’s forgone the heavy smock, welding goggles, and protective gloves for casual khakis and a purple button-up shirt. Her blonde Pixie cut has been gelled to keep from sticking up in all directions from the static always present around her.
He squints at her. It’s too early, he clumsily signs back, hindered by the bulky suppressor cuffs and the handcuff attached to the bed frame, and then turns his head away. It hurts too much to try to talk with his hands when they’re so bound up like this.
She snaps her fingers at him in that annoying habit that he can’t ignore. He meets her dark gold gaze again. “What?” He growls.
You messed up big time. Instead of turning yourself in, LIKE YOU SHOULD HAVE, you attacked FOUR Pro Heroes, unlicensed and untrained. You’re not wiggling out of this one with an apology bow and begging. WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING? His aunt is furious, breathing hard as she forcefully slid through the signs with jagged movements.
His breath stutters a little. “I… I wanted to show everyone how cool your gear is. I’m really sorry.”
She covers her face with a hand and lets out a loud breath. When she looks at him again, she looks a little less angry.
He’s hesitant, but he has to know. “Did you lose your Support License?” He asks slowly, biting his lower lip and eyes tearing up.
They suspended it for a couple of weeks. It’s barely a slap on the wrist for the monumental BLUNDER that occurred. It’s the additional fine for not having it properly secured that really hurts.
He winces because money has always been tight in their household. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking straight after I took out the villains. I saw the cops and…” He swallows and stares at his balled fists. He wishes he could sink into the bed so his aunt would stop looking at him like he was the biggest idiot in the world.
She taps him with a gentle knife chop to his forehead. You’re not even a teenager yet.
“I’ll be thirteen next week”, he points out with an unimpressed look.
You’re underage. Lack of judgment and youth go hand in hand and with your Quirk just complicated things. She throws her hands up in momentary frustration, before speaking again,Your court date is next week. Until then, they agreed that after you’re discharged that you’ll be put you under house arrest with a tracker and those cuffs. She points at the suppressors. Your mom and dad insist that you’ll have any and all unfinished homework done before then.
“Oh god, that sounds worse than jail.”
Tough luck, Thunderclap.
“And my siblings are going to be a nightmare about it. Can’t they stick me in a jail cell?”
LOL, his aunt says her face lighting up with huffing laughter.
Denki blushes, mortified that he was going to have to live with his family after running around like a half-assed vigilante. He hadn’t been quiet about his dream of being a Pro Hero. This? This was going to be held over his head forever.
Look on the bright side, there are some really cool videos of you as Vigilante No. 356, zapping the tar out of the No. 2 Hero. The shit-eating grin on his aunt’s face hasn’t left yet, in fact it seems even more delighted as she relays that.
Sinking into the pillows of the bed, Denki wishes he could pull his hands up to cover his face and settles with curling up on his left side, keeping his arms propped on his hip. If there were videos, there were probably memes and gifsets too. Everyone was going to know about his short-lived vigilante antics, friends, neighbors, and classmates.
How was he going to get into UA High after this? They only take the best. Not juvenile delinquents.
His aunt taps him on the shoulder, and he looks up to see that she’s moved to the left side of his bed. Repent and don’t do this again. You can earn forgiveness with time and determination.
“Thanks,” he says softly. His aunt pats his head and strokes his cheek with a roughened palm.
Then she removes her hand and gently says, I love you, Thunderclap. We all do. Your stunt scared all of us. We weren’t sure if you were coming back, especially when Hothead showed up. Thankfully, All Might was there or else…
He stiffens and looking remorseful. “Sorry. I love you too, Aunt Yozai.”
She smiles again, eyes shining. Rest. Now that you’re awake they’ll probably discharge you in a few hours.
He nods and relaxes back as his aunt continues to stroke his hair. He wonders what prison they’ll send him to and if he’s really going to be okay in there. The one senpai he knew that came back from prison was fairly well-adjusted, so maybe it’ll be fine?
His eyes drift over to the window when they catch the movement of two sparrows chasing each other.
Well, he thinks as his eyes slip close again lulled by the fingers stroking through his hair, at least he’ll make new friends, right?
Chapter 2: A Quirkening Most Deadly
Hey, uh. This chapter was just supposed to be how Denki and Jiki got their Quirks followed by a time skip with Jiki flailing about Denki making poor choices.
Instead, it blew up.
Jou => Jiki
Daiki => Denki
This is head canon explained; why the heck do so many characters' given names in canon describe their Quirks when most aren't born with their Quirks full developed? Because it's trendy. (Even Aizawa has 'Erase' in his given name.)
Edited Quirk disaster scene for clarity.
Before their Quirkening, Jou was always in charge, always first to explore new things, always holding little Daiki’s hand as they went forward into some grand adventure. He never felt afraid of things, not like Daiki.
The two of them were always together. They liked wearing the same clothes, eating the same foods. It was hard to separate the two of them during activities, so they even went to the same class in the preschool. Strangers didn’t know they were twins; then again, strangers were kind of stupid, since the twins’ hair oppositely reflected one another. It was like standing in front of a mirror with the same colors simply switched up.
So, when they were three and a half and still living in Saitama, it wasn’t surprising when their Daddy said, “You’re about the same age as Denbai was then, you know?”
Denbai, their dead older brother. The picture of him on the funeral altar showed a brightly smiling brown-haired and amber-eyed child close to their age. Frozen in time, he gazed out in between the kindly elderly faces of Nana and PawPaw, Mama’s parents. Jou didn’t want to die too and leave Daiki with only a picture of him. His hand tightened over his brother’s sweaty hand.
Mama was sitting at the couch, nursing baby Shiori, while the rest of them, Jou’s three older siblings, Daddy, and Daiki, were squashed at the kitchen table having finished their meal.
With scared golden eyes, Daiki flipped his hand up so he could squeeze his hand back. Jou was sure he felt scared too, but it didn’t show as much as Daiki’s. “Yeah?”
“The Quirkening,” one of his ten-year-old sisters muttered. Yuubae, he thinks. Lately, that black shawl went wherever she went.
“Is coming,” said Asaya, clinging to her stuffed animal.
“Soon,” squeaked Kaori, the only black-haired one among the children.
“How do you two feel living with Gramps and Granny until your Quirks come in?”
“I don’t wanna go!!” Daiki yelled, while his fingers got tighter on Jou’s. “I wanna stay home with the baby!”
Mama shushed him as the baby started making worrying noises.
“I wanna go,” Jou whispered loudly to Daiki, “Gramps and Granny are lots of fun and and and, there’s lots of toys and and we get our own beds!”
Fine blond hair with a single streak of dark brown swayed in his twin’s face as he looked down at the table. “…maybe.”
“You can choose your names when your Quirks come in,” Daddy says helpfully. “Gramps and Granny will be happy to help out.”
“What if I want this name?” Daiki was still staring at the table as he fisted his hand tightly under Jou’s.
“Then keep it like your sisters did,” Daddy answered easily. “But it’ll be easier for you down the road if you change it. People won’t ask as much about what type of Quirk you have. Your given name would be self-explanatory.”
“Self-explan-a-ri?” Daiki looked at Daddy with a severely furrowed brow.
“Like, it describes itself,” Jou said to his brother. “Like rainfall is self-explane-atory ‘cause it’s rain and it’s falling.”
“OH.” A broad smile broke out on his face. “You’re super smart, bro!”
Jou’s face reddened a bit. Or well, a lot. Things came to him easily and it stuck in his brain. He felt bad that Daiki wasn’t the same as him, but his brother didn’t seem to mind.
Daddy was looking at them patiently for an answer. That’s what Jou liked best about him. He was never in a hurry like some of the adult helpers at preschool who fell over themselves to teach him more kana than the rest of the class. They always wanted to separate him and called him words like ‘prodigy’ and ‘genius’, but Jou wouldn’t have it and threw a fit whenever they tried to take him away from Daiki.
Meanwhile, Jou’s sisters were fidgeting, talking silently to each other with their hands. Things like, It’ll be nice with the brats at the Grands. They're nosy and never stop following me around.& Don’t be mean, Yuu. & I wonder what kinda Quirks they’ll have. & Kao, I’ll be happy if they live. They all were in agreement with Asaya’s scary statement, but Daddy wasn’t paying attention to them at all. He didn’t see what they were talking about and Mama’s attention was with baby Shiori.
“We’ll go,” Jou said tightening his hand around the clenched fist Daiki had made. He didn’t want to make Mama sad like Denbai’s death anniversary did to her every January. From what he put together, their brother had broken the air around him without meaning to and couldn’t breathe anymore when only some things called o-zone and car-bon mon-xide were all around him. It was why there was always a fan-vent running in every room with a deliberate hum. Mama wouldn’t let anyone turn them off.
“But—but…” Daiki worried at his lower lip.
“We’ll be okay, lil bro,” Jou teased. “‘Sides you love Granny and Gramps!”
“Okay,” he said softly, “If you wanna go, we can go.”
The fist finally relaxed under his palm, and Daiki threaded his fingers through Jou’s own and grasped tightly.
Tokyo was BIG. Compared to Saitama anyway. There seemed to be no end in sight of the city, just more city. Little parks dotted places and were the only things breaking up rows and blocks of stores and apartments and malls and parking lots.
Looking away from the car window, Jou squashed his fear down and knocked shoulders with his twin. Still holding Jou’s right hand, Daiki looked up at him and his cheeks split into an easy grin. Jou smiled back.
Daiki’s happiness was so infectious that sometimes it was hard for Jou to share him with other kids at preschool, and it was hard not to chase after any bullies stupid enough to pick on Daiki. His twin wasn’t much of a crier but his eyes were especially expressive; whatever he felt radiated from them and many times Jou felt like he could feel it too.
Sometimes after they were tucked into bed and the lights were off, Jou and Daiki would talk until Daiki’s nerves let him sleep. Jou had tried and tried but never seemed able to stay awake much longer after that, drowsiness pulling him into deep sleep. Similarly, they always woke up within minutes of each other; no matter how quiet Jou tried to be, his twin’s eyes would snap open the moment his feet touched the floor. Sometimes, Jou would find himself awake because Daiki had woken first from a bad dream.
It was never something Jou had questioned before, but after all the talk of Quirks and their effects from Daddy he wondered if that had to do with anything.
They settled in and were enrolled in a new preschool. One of the kids there already had already grown into his Quirk, proudly showing off his thick green, scaly skin and reptilian eyes. Yet, another kept spraying others with water with a finger.
The two additions to the class were easily accepted and quickly thrust into the Villain roles of their game of Heroes-and-Villains. Heroes all had Quirks and always won in the fights against the Villains was the reasoning, so it was easy to play along with such a simple premise to split the class evenly.
A strange feeling of relief seemed to unwind Jou’s tight gut as more of their classmates showed off in the game of negotiate-then-capture. Plenty of kids lived through their Quirkening. Why should he and his brother be any different?
It was a whole year and six months after they moved in with their grandparents. They had gotten homesick after the first week or so, but soon grew used to the new rhythm. Even their older siblings came to visit with Daddy every other month, when the twins’ Quirks still hadn’t come in. Oh, and they had a new older brother now that Kaori had changed his name to Katsunori.
That was really cool because Jou had always wanted an older brother, and ‘Nori and him had always gotten along best anyway. Daiki thought ‘Nori’s name was a lot cooler anyway, since the character for it meant ‘burn up’, which was perfect for their older brother who was always giving off so much heat simply by being around.
They would videochat with Daddy every night, and Mama would pop in to say hi but was usually busy with baby Shiori and her at-home job.
They were almost six now, and the teachers at their kindergarten thought the two of them might not even get Quirks; Jou had overheard them when they were whispering about it. Being without a Quirk happened sometimes, though it was really rare nowadays, rarer than being deaf like their aunt. Jou hoped that Daiki at least wasn’t Quirkless because he thought it would crush his brother. He was always playing as Pro Hero All Might. The other kids in class were impressed by Daiki’s laugh and smile.
Then, Daiki got his. Something startled him while Granny and Gramps were taking them through the mall to buy birthday gifts for their older siblings. Lightning burst through him—through the both of them, though Jou didn’t feel it at all—and struck the televisions on display at an electronics store they were passing.
“Oh,” Daiki let go of Jou’s right hand and stared down at himself in awe. Jou turned away from him and backed up to stand closer to him, curious about how everyone else felt about Daiki’s Quirk. Gramps was staring at the destroyed monitors with great fascination, and Granny was busy trying to calm the manager who was yelling from the doorway, though he was timidly ducking behind the frame whenever he took a breath to stop yelling.
Jou’s eyes looked around. Most everyone was on the floor or hiding behind whatever object they could. Some had their phones out, either recording or talking frantically. He had a feeling that Daiki was going to get into trouble, but only reached for his brother’s hand and squeezed when a hand quickly sat in his.
With a look of utter rapture, Daiki lifted his free right hand. Sparks crackled and popped over the surface. “Look! Look!!”
“I see it. It’s super strong, isn’t it?” Jou looked pointedly at the destroyed appliances.
Daiki dropped the hand, Quirk dissipating like he had touched something he shouldn’t. “…oops.” He only then seemed to notice that a man in a blue uniform was yelling at them. “Oh, oh no no no no. That’s bad. I broke things. Am I villain? Am I going to jail?” Fat tears showed at the corners of his eyes, the closest Jou had ever seen his brother to crying.
“It was an accident, and no one was hurt. They won’t send you to jail.” The frantic worry that clung to his chest lessened at his words, and Jou felt he could breathe easily again.
Blinking rapidly and rubbing his face into his shoulder, Daiki sniffed wetly. “Oh. Yeah. Okay.” He smiled brightly. “You’re so smart!”
Sometimes, Jou wanted to say it didn’t matter. Being smart didn’t help him make friends. Others didn’t like hanging around smart people, especially people like Jou who spoke too freely and hurt pride and softer feelings alike.
At any rate, cards were exchanged between the manager and Granny. Gramps talked to the cops that appeared while some new Pro Heroes were talking with Jou and Daiki.
“Wow! What a Quirk!” The blond man, wearing sunglasses and large speakers around his neck, boomed a bit too loudly. His hair was so long it could have touched his back if it wasn’t swooped back up like a cockatiel. Jou took a step closer to his brother with a wince at the Hero’s voice. Daiki didn’t seem to mind at all as he showed off the crackling lightning again.
“I’m Present Mic, KIDDOS.” Jou blinked at the word that wasn’t anything he knew as the man with triangular tuffs of facial hair above his soft smile crouched to get at eye level with them. He thrust a fingerless, black gloved hand out to them. “Nice ta meetcha!”
Daiki immediately latched onto it, shaking the hand vigorously and transferring some of that movement to Jou who simply went with it. “W-whoa!! You’re a Hero like ALL MIGHT!! I LOVE ALL MIGHT. OH! My name’s Daiki and this is my twin Jou and he hasn’t got his Quirk yet but what’s it like to be a Hero? Do you catch a lot of Villains? Could I be a Hero!?!” He flapped his arms around. “Why d’you have a speaker around your neck? Is it for your Quirk? It’s really big. Gramps has a bigger speaker but it’s not as cool-looking. Hey! I want sunglasses like that too! They’re so pretty. And how do you make your hair do that shweeoop thing!? Oh, oh, Yuu-chan—that’s one of my older sisters since Mom just had Shiori last month—she would love that jacket. Where’d you get it? Was it really expensive? Does it have hidden weapons in it to trap Villains?”
While Daiki rambled on in his excitement without letting the smiling Present Mic answer and clung to the Hero’s hand, Jou looked up at the other Pro Hero standing behind Present Mic. He was bald, wearing a long, tan trench coat . No, he wasn’t bald, Jou corrected when the Pro Hero glanced down at him. That was some kind of skin-tight blank mask split where his mouth was, showing only a little bit of teeth. It made his face a little scary and villainous. The hands peeking out from the coat looked like a purple so dark it was almost black.
Abruptly, Daiki stopped mid-sentence and snapped his head up. “Hey, what’s his name? He’s a Pro Hero too, right?”
Standing abruptly, Present Mic wiped his released hand down the thigh of his snug black pants and chuckled. Jou understood why since Daiki tended to have sticky hands from sweat. “Well, of course he’s a HERO,” he boomed, hands gesturing towards his quiet companion. He sweeped into a deep pose, introducing the guy with a grand gesture. “Oh, this is Ectoplasm. He’s got a super COOL attack!” Present Mic hung his head to the side and did a thumbs up.
Again, Jou parsed over the foreign word. There were a couple of things in English the teachers had taught to the whole class like, Excuse me, Please, Thank you, and Hi, my name is Jou! The words the Pro Hero used kind of had the same sound and cadence.
Kiddo and Hero and Cool were not among the ones taught at preschool. Cool must be a good thing?
“That’s COOL,” Jou mimicked, looking up at Ectoplasm, who definitely could scare Villains with one look.
Daiki turned to Jou with stars in his eyes. “What does COOL mean?! C’mon, tell me.” He whined and pulled at Jou’s right hand which hadn’t left his left the entire time. “Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me.”
Jou shrugged. “Something good.”
Present Mic laughed at that and patted his buddy(?) on the shoulder. “See? Kids’ll love you if you give them a chance!”
Ectoplasm grunted and turned away, trench coat flaring out as he walked away. Daiki pouted in disappointment, but Jou kinda thought that Pro Hero might not like kids at all.
“See, KIDDOS? Definitely COOL.” Present Mic wiggled his fingers in Ectoplasm’s direction like he was casting a spell. “Now, if only I could get that old guy to get rid of that mask,” he mused out loud.
“Why?” Daiki stared up at the Pro Hero, stars still in his eyes.
“His face looks super COOL since it’s always smiling.”
“Like All Might?”
“Yup!” Present Mic put his hands on hips, one eye closing thoughtfully as his lips pulled into a sharp smile. “And that mask can get in the way of using his Quirk.”
The Pro Hero pointed at his mouth. “He can spit out clones.”
“Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa,” Daiki said staring with the most dumbfounded expression on his face that Present Mic started laughing.
Jou felt a twinge of pain, so he turned to his twin and said, “I think… he likes your face, but isn’t used to it like me.”
“Uh. Okay? I don’t get it.”
“Watch,” Jou said and then imitated the dumb, lost expression his brother had made. “Whooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.”
Predictably, Daiki burst out laughing and then fell over unable to stand as he was wracked with laughter. “O-OH. HAHAHAHAHA. YOUR FACE. HAHAHAHAHA.”
Merriment bloomed in Jou’s chest and the pain washed away easily. He looked back up at the Pro Hero.
Present Mic was poking fingers up behind his sunglasses to wipe tears away, and then a real grin bloomed on his face, sharper and scarier than the one he used for his introduction. “Sorry, sorry. You KIDDOS are too cute!
Kiddo must mean, children?
“Ah, hello Mr. Present Mic,” Gramps said as he finally got away from the cops. “I see my grandchildren are keeping you entertained. I hope they haven’t been rude.”
“Oh not at all! The KIDDOS are COOL!” He threw up thumbs up with both hands and thrust them forward once. “They remind me of my own little niblings!”
Daiki hadn’t stopped looking at the Pro Hero with stars in his eyes. Jou’s worry swiftly changed to dismay when his brother thrust a thumbs up at Present Mic and yelled, “COOL KIDDOS!”
This made Present Mic laugh again and pat Daiki’s head. “That’s right! Now, try not to break anything that doesn’t belong to you with your Quirk again. OK?”
“OK,” Daiki repeated, eyes fixed on the Pro Hero.
“I gotta go! SEE YOU LATER, KIDDOS!” With a flippant salute and one last shark smile, Present Mic turned and jogged over to where Ectoplasm was still waiting for him near the plaza’s water fountain.
Now that Granny had finished talking to yet another adult dressed very nicely next to the manager who kept bobbing his head in their direction, she quickly walked towards Daiki and Jou.
“Well!” Granny said, clapping her hands together. “Who wants ice cream?”
“I DO I DO I DO I DO. MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME,” Daiki frantically said as if she would suddenly change her mind from the stern look Gramps was giving her.
Jou nodded when Granny looked at him.
“Great!” She smiled, dropping her hands as she bent closer. “Only after you eat your lunch!”
“Oh. Okay.” With Jou still on his left, Daiki reached for her hand, and Granny took it. Gramps collected Jou’s free hand as well. The mall was so big that they could all fit in a row like that. It was amazing.
It wasn’t until they got home later that their grandparents laid out a list of names for Daiki to choose from. Neither of them could read the kanji yet, but just like Daddy their Gramps carefully went over what each said and meant. The shapes stuck in Jou’s brain.
The one Daiki chose was Denki with two characters, one for ‘lightning bolt’ and one for ‘spirit or nature’ that together meant ‘electricity’. It fit his brother to a tee.
Later that night in the small room they shared that held a bunk bed, Dai—Denki turned to him and said, “I can’t wait until you get your Quirk, Jou!”
Jou wasn’t so sure he had one, besides the feelings he got from his twin. It would make sense anyway, especially since Yuubae picked up on people’s thoughts here and there with her Electro-Reception.
He nodded anyway.
Denki had Quirk Counseling sessions a couple of times before the doctors were satisfied with his classification and declared that his biggest ‘output’ was low enough and ‘discharge potential’ fast enough that he didn’t need Quirk limiters. Jou hadn’t missed the yet in Gramps’ tone when he was explaining this to him while they waited in the waiting room.
“Granny gave it to me. Can you read it?” Denki thrust a printed piece of paper towards his brother as soon as he saw him in the waiting room with Gramps. It held Denki’s name and age, and other things.
There was a box with grids over it and numbers along the bottom and side with labels Denki didn’t understand. There was a gray, angular swatch covering an area inside of it. There was another box with gridlines but instead of a grayed-out area it had a line like a check mark with a distinct cutoff to it. He didn’t know what to make of either of them. He looked back up to the ‘Outline of Quirk’ at the top and then under it.
(??)-(??) Type: (Long?)-Term Electricity-(??).
Jou read the kana hovering above the kanji out loud to Denki, but some of them didn’t make any words he knew which meant he couldn’t explain them. But when it said ‘type’ and talked about electricity, he said, “I think it says what type it is? Like what the teachers said. Mutant and emit and transform types. Stuff like that. It’s electricity.”
“Well, duh! Next, next!”
Jou obliged of course, while Denki practically vibrated with excitement.
Quirk Name: Making-Electricity.
Most Electricity-(??)-Output: 20 kV
Most Electricity-Flow: 20 mA
Most Power: 10 W @ 0.001 seconds
Total (??)-Electricity-Capacity: 20F
Jou barely finished before Denki was bouncing up and down and asking, “What’s kV stand for? Or mA, or W, or F?”
They asked Gramps, but he simply frowned down at them. “I think I’d overcomplicate it if I tried to explain. I’ll get you an age-appropriate resource!”
The twins exchanged a look, and Jou asked, “What’re you getting for us?”
So, before they went home, Gramps stopped by a bookstore while Granny kept them entertained with stories about a stray, noisy cat, Nyan-Nyan, that had practically been adopted by her and her closest neighbors.
When Gramps returned, he slipped into the car and turned to place a large picture book in their free hands, Jou’s left and Denki’s right.
Let’s Learn About Electricity! It said in large bright hiragana. There was a drawing of kids huddled towards the bottom right corner pointing at the opposite left corner of the book where a bolt of lightning struck a tree.
“They have a book about me?”
Jou gave him an unimpressed look.
Denki burst into giggles because of course he knew what the title had meant and was just being silly.
Gramps grinned at their silliness and pulled on his seatbelt as Granny drove them home.
Denki slowly read out loud, and they learned exactly what V and A and W were (volts for force and amps for current and watts for power) and how V and A mixed together to make W. It also drove home exactly how dangerous electricity could be. It was why high voltage lines were put on top of poles away from people and why fences with big danger signs were wrapped around gravel-lined plots.
Denki continued reading even as they walked inside together. He stopped with a frown. “But I only have 20 kV? The high volt lines have 10,000 V. What’s the k stand for?”
“I dunno,” Jou said as they sat on the couch. They finished the book but it didn’t tell them anything about what F could be. They apparently were sitting too still and quiet for too long because their grandfather came in.
“Oh, I’m glad you like the book, tykes.” Gramps patted their heads, which they both ducked under some.
“Gramps, we have a question?”
“Oh, what’s up, Denki?”
“What’s the k stand for in kV?”
“Oh, kV, like kilo-Volts? Huh. I didn’t think it’d talk about metric prefixes in a kid’s beginner book, but okay. Hmm.” He thoughtfully ran a finger over his lower lip. “Okay, so a kilo adds three zeroes to whatever number V is”
Both of their eyes bugged out, and they looked at each other.
“20,000 V, Denki,” Jou whispered.
“But, but but but, that’s more than the high volt lines!” Denki burst out, lifting the book and pointing at the powerlines illustrated inside. “Why am I not like this, Gramps?”
“Well. First of all, you can’t reach a high enough amperage to make the same wattage of power. Secondly, you can’t produce it continuously like a live wire can.”
Denki stared at Gramps for a long time and then looked at Jou. “I feel so stupid, bro.”
“Aw, tyke, even full grown adults have trouble with these concepts! Don’t beat yourself up.” Gramps took a seat next to Denki and gave him a one-armed hug. “It’s okay to not get it. I wasn’t explaining it very well. Hmm.” He rubbed a finger against his nose this time as Denki wiggled in his hold.
Jou frowned in thought, trying to pick through what he’d said. “Um, so, Denki can’t make enough current to make the 20 kV really bad with the-the watts?”
“Exactly. You know how you get shocked by your Dad?” They both nodded. “He’s giving off about 50 kV each time, but since the current is really small and happens for a very small time, it’s painful but not dangerous.”
“Ohhhh,” Denki said and then perked up. “What about F? What’s it mean?”
Blinking at the wrinkled and creased printout that was shoved in his hand, Gramps took it and peered. “Hm. Oh! That’s farads for capacitance. Er. The capacity for the number of volts you can store.” He flips the paper up and down. “This means you’re like a supercapacitor—well, a huge series of them—and a quick discharging one at that. So the more you use it up, the less likely you’ll send out a bolt like you did at the mall,” Gramps hesitated. “Does that help?”
“I need to learn Dad’s Ground,” Denki announced and then looks at Jou. “Hey, you didn’t get hurt…” His eyes got huge. “When the lightning went through you and hit the screens and and and. You’re okay??”
Jou tilted his head at his brother. “It was a week ago. I’m okay.” Embarrassment flooded through his chest, and Denki rubbed the back of his head.
Gramps looked at Jou with a stern look. “Well. We can’t do anything now and you seem fine, but you really should have said something, Jou. It could have hurt you, like stop your heart.”
But it didn’t, he wanted to say. “Sorry, Gramps. I’ll say something next time.”
Their grandfather gathered them in his arms and hugged them tightly smelling like cologne and metal before pulling away. “Let’s not let that happen again. Got it, Denki?”
Denki nodded enthusiastically, and protectiveness blossomed in Jou’s chest. His twin smiled at him. “I’ll control this Quirk! Just you wait!”
Jou smiled back, trusting that he really would.
However, it was another five weeks before it happened.
One moment Jou was eating his breakfast of onigiri rolls and a small bowl of steamed vegetables and the next the lights started flickering over the kitchen table. He looked at Denki who was staring up at them with a frown.
Their grandparents hadn’t noticed yet, since Gramps was washing dishes and having an intense conversation about some important people who made laws with Granny who was drying the dishes and putting them away.
Then, like magic several objects began to pull away from their resting places nearby and floated in place for only a moment before drifting towards him. Jou’s jaw dropped and some food dribbled out, while the rice ball slipped out of his brother’s slack fingers. Jou didn’t understand why the cups he and his brother were drinking from or the chopsticks or the plates hadn’t moved. The objects—several pens, a pair of scissors, and a ruler—all slowly came to rest themselves coolly against him, in his hair, face and chest. It probably looked silly but he was too shocked to try to pull them off of him.
“Metal,” Denki whispered with a grain of rice stuck to the corner of his mouth as the lights continued to flicker. “It’s all metal! You’re a magnet like Gramps, bro! I told you! You have a Quirk!!”
Granny came to Jou’s side, since Gramps was quickly grabbing everything made of metal off the countertops and shoving it behind the child-proof locks on the cabinets—the kettle, knife block, toaster, rice cooker. The lights began to flicker in the kitchen and entryway too. Granny held out a comforting hand, and Jou took it with his left.
“Let’s try to stop using it?” Her voice was soft and measured, but her gray eyes looked worried.
“Okay,” Jou said trying not to notice how the metal stools were slowly being dragged towards him, until Gramps picked them up and shut them in the coat closet. They thudded against the wall. There was a loud rattling from the kitchen drawers and thumping as anything small and metal shifted and tried to move towards him.
As soon as that quieted, there came a clanging of pots and pans. The lights were flickering more sporadically, dimming and brightening at strange intervals. He swallowed and tried to get it to stop, but it only seemed to be getting worse not better. The walls were filled with metal. The stove and refrigerator couldn’t be stowed away. There was too much metal, metal pipes and wiring, metal fixtures, metal picture frames in the hallway.
A similar-sized hand grabbed his right. Denki grinned at him. He didn’t seem scared at all. Maybe it was because he didn’t understand what could happen. “For me, it’s like a switch. Y’know, like for the lights.” He flicked his finger up, “On.” The sparks popped into existence and strangely drifted towards Jou. Then Denki flicked his finger down, “Off.” The sparks disappeared.
The house was beginning to creak and groan, like some miserable ghost, while Gramps grabbed the picture frames, tossing them into another cupboard. He ran back into the room and grabbed the TV and then the short metal table with his Magnet Hold and tossed them down the basement with a great crash.
Granny’s hand was shaking in Jou’s hold. Her hands were always warm and steady, but now they were cold. The lights blinked on and off, and the speakers of the radio hidden inside one of the drawers crackled suddenly with a jarring white noise, at times whining and shrieking. Several heavy things thudded into the floor underneath them.
“On, Off, On, Off,” Denki chanted, picking up Jou’s hand to repeat the gesture. “C’mon, say it with me.”
“On, Off, On, Off,” Jou said with his twin, closing his eyes tightly as his finger was pointed up and down. A strange wobbly sensation made itself known in his stomach, spinning like a top. The movements that Denki were getting him to do were only making it spin faster and faster and faster. “Wait. I think. I think it’s…” He tore his hand away and cut it across pushing the top over to disrupt its motion, “OFF.”
There were several loud BANGs from the basement and the kitchen and from down the hall as everything crashed to the ground. Jou breathed out and slumped against the table feeling tired. How had Denki been so bubbly after first using his Quirk?
“Yeah! You did it!! COOL!” Denki cheered, punching the air with two thumbs up just like the Pro Hero that was officially his favorite.
“Magnetism. Specifically a magnetic field, huh?” Granny said brightly while Gramps wheezed tiredly by the doorway. “What another lovely Quirk.”
Jou didn’t think so. It only affected metal for one. With so much plastic around, what exactly was it good for? Second, it seemed really unsafe.
“Oh gosh. Are you okay?” Granny’s hand left Jou’s and as she went to fuss over Gramps, who looked a bit pale. Granny held his head and peered close to his eyes. “Chest pains?”
“N-no. God no. Out of shape.” He laughed weakly and ran his fingers through her short gray hair, pulling their foreheads together. Jou wasn’t sure what look Granny was giving Gramps, but Gramps looked like he held the moon in his hands.
Denki made a face at his brother. “Ugh. They’re making kissy faces.”
Turning his face to the cold table, Jou let his mouth hang off the edge so he could breathe and talk more easily. Covering his head with an arm, he said, “They’re married. That’s what they do.”
“What’s wrong? You’re upset.” Denki poked him in the arm.
“I coulda broke the house. When we’re in it.” Keeping his face smooshed to the table, Jou waved his hands to the walls. He could sense the metal, like an itch he couldn’t quite reach. It caged them in. “I thought it was just a wood house, but it’s not.”
“Huh,” Denki uttered. Jou turned away from the table to blink up at him. “But this house’s tiny?” Denki’s confusion was easy to read. He was probably thinking about the giant beams used in skyscrapers.
“It’s like a cage, but smaller gaps? But it’s not made with wires. It’s like… metal sheets with holes in them with rods sticking down below the floor?”
“You’re right, tyke,” Gramps said, startling Jou a bit when he began to ruffle his brown hair. “Had this house remodeled to redirect stray electric particles to ground and protect my electronics from your Dad. He was constantly frying things, even destroyed the wiring too until he figured his Quirk out.” He pointed out a port on the wall, similar to the ones for cable. “That’s a grounding port. I put one in every room. We connected a wire to that and then to him before he touched anything electrically conductive.”
“Huh,” Denki said again. He looked absolutely lost. Meanwhile Gramps scratched his head thoughtfully probably wondering how to rephrase. Granny had a funny look on her face, the kind that made Jou think she was reliving happy memories.
“Dad shocks us if he’s not using his Ground, remember? Gramps made that,” Jou pointed at the port, “As a Ground since Dad hadn’t learned to use Ground when he was a kid.”
“OH! I get it!” Denki frowned. “That must’ve sucked. Shocking everyone all the time.” He looked down at his hands, flexing them. “I don’t shock people on accident? I just get too full and then ZAP! But not like Aunt Yozai, since it doesn’t hurt me?” He looked up at their grandparents who exchanged a look. Auntie’s Quirkening had almost killed her.
Granny crouched by him. “Well, that’s because of your Mama. Your body is like it’s made of Ground, except it holds it all in, right? Until you let it out.”
Nodding along, Gramps said, “That Rubber Quirk of hers is dead useful to insulate you from shock.”
“Insulate? Like a blanket?”
“Yeah, tyke. All that electricity is wrapped up inside you like a blanket,” Gramps stepped closer to Denki and held a shoulder. “We just need to make sure you don’t hold too much at once until you get better control.”
“Alright then,” Granny said straightening, “Let’s look up names for you, Jou.”
“Jiki,” he said, and their grandparents looked surprised. “It’s ‘magnetism’, right? You said it earlier. When Gramps was out of breath.”
“Jiki and Denki, then. Did you want to learn how to write it?” Granny brought her hands on top of their clasped hands and drew the twins closer. “It even shares a character with Denki’s.” She tapped Jiki’s nose, and he wrinkled it at her.
Denki raised his hands up. “This is awesome, bro!! We both have Quirks and yours is a magnet one and I can’t wait to see what else you can do with it!”
After his last Quirk Counseling session, Jiki stared down at the printout with his name, date, type, and Quirk name that Gramps had passed on to him after a sincere congratulations.
There was a giant + sign with each leg and arm labeled, the vertical one was B/-B, and the horizontal was -H/H. Inside was a gray wavy swatch of gray like a leaning s. Then there was another but like a giant L with ‘Pull (KG)’ written on the left side and ‘Air Gap (m)’ on the bottom with a curved line curled against the L.
He had no idea what the images were supposed to be. Gramps probably knew. Unfortunately, Jiki didn’t understand much else on his paper since like Denki’s the kana were for words he didn’t know.
Sum-(??)-Magnet-Power: 9.7 Teslas
Leftover-(??)-Magnetism: 0.01 Oe
(??)-Magnet-Power: 0.3 Teslas
Jiki rubbed at his eyes and didn’t try to read anymore. There were more lines with lots of unknown words and numbers, more than Denki’s had. Why did his Quirk have to be so difficult? “Gramps, what’s a Tesla?”
“It’s uh…” Gramps ran a hand through his hair. “Gosh, how do you describe magnetic flux density to a six year old.”
Jiki waited for his grandfather to continue because honestly he had no idea what ‘flux’ or ‘density’ were, not to mention, them used together.
“Okay, you know what. Your greatest magnetic strength is stronger than an MRI magnet. They keep those stored in a room without any metal so that they don’t get things like gurneys and fire extinguishers lodged in them.” He tapped the next two numbers. “According to your coercivity and remanence values, you’re supposed to be a soft magnet? It means, you can’t make magnets with your Quirk, but with your strength you can attract or repel a car. Also someone could disrupt your Quirk with an opposing magnetic field of their own. Which… is strange since you’re strong. That’s really fascinating actually. How is that happening? I tend to magnetize stuff if I hold it too long, but yours won’t do that. But the permeability and susceptibility values are also—”
“Thank you, Gramps.” Jiki reached his hand up so Gramps would hold it. “I got the gist now.”
“Oh. Haha. I suppose it’s a dry listen,” Gramps said as he took Jiki’s hand and led them out to the waiting room. “Sorry, tyke.”
Denki bowled him over with a massive hug, and Gramps let go of him with a smile. “Jiki, Jiki!! Granny’s getting us ice cream! Isn’t that COOL?” He was going a mile a minute again. Jiki watched as Granny offered a hand to Gramps. They looked a bit sad. He blinked but looked away when they looked towards them. “And and—” Here, Denki leaned forward whispering, “Granny said we might be able to mix our Quirks together! Because of electro-magnetism thingy.”
Jiki tilted his head and smiled. “I wanna try it,” he whispered back conspiratorially.
“And she bought a book!” Denki pointed at the bag hanging from her arm. “Oh and—uh, Granny doesn’t have a Quirk? I don’t know. It makes me sad, but she said it was okay?” He scratched the back of his head. “I don’t get it.”
With a small shrug, Jiki offered his right hand, and Denki automatically took it with his left. Jiki was tired from all the tests. His Quirk really drained him, unlike his twin. He was honestly a bit jealous.
Denki swung their arms and bounced as their grandparents led them out of the Quirk Clinic. “When we get older, I wanna make a Hero Duo with you! The Electro-Magnet Heroes!”
Jiki wasn’t opposed to the idea, so he nodded. “‘Kay.”
They only had one more week with Granny and Gramps before they had to go home since they’d made it through their Quirkening. Their classmates at their kindergarten were really upset that the kids with the coolest Quirks were leaving, but the teachers helped calm them and made that last week as fun as possible.
It was afterschool, and they were outside crouched on the sidewalk. Their grandparents had shooed them out, telling them that they would call them in soon for a surprise treat. Neither of them minded getting out from under their hawk-like eyes, even for a few minutes. They’d gotten a bit stricter, especially when it came to their Quirks and using them.
Jiki found the heat never really bothered him anymore, but he would get really cold when he used his Quirk so he wore pants even in the intense heat of summer. A cackling Denki was creating sparks, while a quiet Jiki was wrapping them with magnetism to float them around like little flickering lights. Except when they hit an object the lights made a loud snap and crackle sounds as they grounded.
After reading the skinny book about electromagnetism out loud to Denki, Jiki had practiced and reviewed the information until he felt the concepts stick to his brain. He had discovered something about his Quirk in the process. “Denki, wanna see something COOL?”
“Huh?” The sparks disappeared from his hands, and he stood up. “Sure! Show me!”
First, Jiki released the sparks still floating around, and they cracked and fizzed winking out. With a frown of concentration, he spun the top inside his gut and then poked the resulting magnetism in and out of his index finger quickly. A very small spark sputtered to life hovering just around that finger, crawling like an inchworm.
“WHOAAA!! You can make electricity like me?!” Denki slapped his hands on his face, eyes shining with amazement.
Jiki’s concentration faltered and so did the little lick of lightning, but he smiled. “It makes me tired, not like yours.”
“Wait wait wait wait wait wait!!!!” Denki clasped his hands against his chest. “Can I make magnetism?!”
Blinking quickly, Jiki grinned at him. “Yeah? I dunno how since you’re not a battery.”
“Uh, you make a coil, like a spring, with your electricity and then magnetism gets made. But the electrical flow has to be continuous to maintain the magnetic field? But you’re a capacitor which has a charge time…”
With a determined look, Denki nodded. “Got it. Hit me with your spark! But LARGER!”
“Eh????” Jiki was getting a weird feeling in his stomach as he straightened from his crouch. It wasn’t pleasant. “Uh. Are you sure?”
“You can’t hurt me! This’ll be COOL! I promise!!”
“Well, okay.” Jiki frowned and focused on the spinning top. He extended his hand towards Denki. This time he pushed enough magnetism through the length of his arm and jolted with surprise when the same back-and-forth motion actually made lightning arc along his forearm. “Ready??”
“Yep!” Denki held out his arms as electricity began to jump around the entirety of his body crawling up from his ankles to the top of his head like the edge of a screw. “Hit me!”
Jiki connected the arc jumping along his arm with a directed flow of magnetism. The moment it struck Denki, nothing initially happened, but his twin wasn’t hurt at all. He began to glow and then…
The mailbox on the wall next to them wrenched itself off the wall and struck Denki in the back.
“Hey! Ow!!” Pain should’ve been the end of it, breaking Denki’s concentration, but…
More small metal objects, like name plates, shiny pebbles, torn wiring, and door bells, began pelting him. “Yeouch!!” The neighbor’s side gate that had a rusty hinge came flying and slammed into the brick wall beside them embedding deeply. They both spun towards it, eyes wide.
“This isn’t fun!! Make it stop. I-I can’t get it to stop!!” Denki stammered still glowing bright. Gutters were twisting and tearing free from houses across the street, floating. Jiki’s arm was locked in place so he couldn’t swipe like he normally did to stop using his Quirk. He tried thinking of slowing the top but it had no effect.
“I’m trying!! But I’m stuck!” If Jiki couldn’t stop the spinning top or break the circuit he’d made with Denki, then things were only going to get worse.
The street lights moaned as they swayed and then giant shadows were converging on them. Every car in the neighborhood was dragged towards them, crashing into one another like some great metal stampede. Most stopped short because of the nearest telephone poles and brick walls and buildings in the way, but as they piled up they tumbled forward, closer and closer. Then a delivery truck tripped over the others and flew into the air with a surreal tumble soon followed by other smaller vehicles, inexorably pulled towards Denki. Metal street poles were bending and slowly pulling apart, telephone cables and powerlines whipping around frenetically.
Jiki’s feet moved without thought as he grabbed his twin brother and pulled him closer to the brick wall. Even though he couldn’t break the circuit with his brother, he remembered something Gramps had said and began to spin another top, wanting it bigger and faster than the first one, but in the opposite direction of the first.
The cables above them snapped with a loud BANG and FLASH of a firecracker, while he raised his free hand and yelled out with his eyes closed in concentration. The other top wobbled and stopped its movement. The glow in Denki sputtered out like a candle in a strong wind and the objects stuck to him clattered against the concrete.
Darkness converged as the hulking inanimate beasts cornered and covered them. They stared up in horror and fell on their butts onto the warm concrete. Jiki kept the same top going and quickly wrapped Denki with his arms. In seconds cars and taxies and trash cans and city mail boxes and trucks and even a city bus blanketed them with a horrific crash, grinding and reverberating for almost a full minute, but just short of them like a protective bubble repelled them. Each crash vibrated through the ground and into them while the noise grew fainter and farther away. They held themselves very still in the dark, and Jiki tightened around Denki in the silence. They were too terrified to move until they couldn’t hear anything else.
“…Are you okay, Jiki?” Denki’s voice was small, and they were sitting in front of their grandparents’ house. Under a giant junk pile. And he was pretty sure something sharp had struck him in the arm. When Jiki didn’t answer, Denki made a spark and jerked back when he saw how close his face had been to getting skewered by a metal pole. “EEPS.” He shifted to steer clear of it. The cars were crunched up here and there in impossibly small spaces, and fluids were dribbling down the walls and pooling by their knees. “O-oh.” He quickly put his spark away. “I… I smell gasoline?”
“Me too,” Jiki said into the darkness, finally feeling safe enough to stop the top in his gut. When nothing happened, he breathed out heavily. They both watched enough action movies to know what happened when gasoline was present. Explosions. Lots and lots of explosions. “‘M t-tired.” He eased back against the brick wall behind them. He was glad he couldn’t sense any physical pains from his twin in the dark. “D-don’t touch anything. I saw powerlines.”
“A-are we gonna get out? What if we’re stuck here and die???”
“Won’t happen. Heroes will come get us.” Jiki picked up his hands towards the inside of the metal heap, but was careful not to lift them too far away from Denki. “I don’t… There’s too much junk, and I’m too tired. And… and if I could-if I push it away, it might hurt someone.”
“It was my stupid idea,” Denki said with a watery tone. “You saved me.” He sniffled, leaning his back against him. “I’m—I’m sorry!”
Jiki hugged him, feeling the self-blame and hurt and fear. “It happened ‘cause of me. Of course, I fixed it, lil bro.” He ruffled his brother’s hair like Gramps always did.
“H-hey, quit it.” Denki stiffened as he caught Jiki’s hand by touch. “Why is your hand wet? Did you get something on it?”
Wincing, Jiki fell silent.
“You’re hurt,” Denki whimpered out, tears threatening again. His fingers followed the path of warmth until it nearly touched the sharp pain in Jiki’s forearm.
“I’m okay,” he said. “A little tired. And it hurts a bit, but no biggie.”
“Liar. It hurts more.” Denki shifted and ripped down from his shoulder from his favorite Present Mic shirt that he had worn every day since meeting the Pro Hero. It had been so thin to start off with that it was already ratty with large holes on that side. Pulling him forward some, Denki wrapped the strip around Jiki’s arm many times. He tried to tie it in the darkness but the wrapping was loose when he finished. “You won’t die now,” he said through an angry sniffle.
Something loud cracked through the dark and the entire heap sagged, and the two found themselves with their faces pressed awkwardly against the ground in a tangled press of bodies and metal. They shrieked in terror, deafening one another until suddenly they couldn’t bring in air to scream into the blackness. Fueled by adrenaline, Jiki spun the tops in his gut in the same direction as last time, pushing up, just a little. Just enough. The metal groaned and shifted above him like an unstable stack of cards.
They gasped and coughed for air. Jiki moved his hands right under the metal and pressed up again until it gave them another inch to wiggle. His legs were throbbing painfully and he could tell something was wrong with Denki’s arms and his left side.
A strange calmness was settling inside Denki’s chest and he reached out blindly touching Jiki’s face and then sunk his fingers into hair next to his ear. “I love you, bro.” His last words, Jiki thought suddenly. Denki was sure they were going to die, like in the sad movies they weren’t supposed to watch.
“Love you too,” Jiki whispered, curled weirdly on his side with his legs bent all wrong. The dark pressed in like some living thing. He couldn’t let up his Quirk no matter how tired he was. He wouldn’t let them die. He had to keep pushing the tops to spin in his gut so the heavy, packed junk would keep off of them or they were dead. And he didn’t want his Mama even more sad or his siblings or his Daddy or Gramps or Granny. “We’re gonna live, lil bro. I promise. The Heroes will come. They’ll come.”
Denki’s hand tightened, fingers digging against his scalp, but he let up when it began to hurt. “All Might?”
“Uh. Isn’t he in Hosu City?” Jiki asked into the dark, grateful that his brother’s hand was there. It was calming.
“Yeah, but he can run really really fast!”
Jiki couldn’t help the laugh bubbling up, but when the darkness started to dip down and push them against the concrete, Jiki had to stop and focus again. He had to hold the dark back to keep them both safe.
“A-are you stopping it from smooshing us?” Denki’s voice was filled with awe even as his fingers trembled on his head. “B-but… but you’re s-so tired.”
“Yeah,” Jiki said as he felt Denki start to cry again. “It’s okay. I got it.”
“C-can you feel me too? That my arms hurt really bad like your legs?”
“Mhm.” Jiki looked blindly to where his brother laid, mind always on the pressure above them. “Since forever.”
“Oh,” Denki whispered. His tears had ceased as soon as his mind was distracted again. “Like Yuu-chan’s electro-res’ption. But with feelings.”
“Yeah.” The spinning was beginning to waver and then wobbled, and the dark dipped. A headache was blooming and a severe pain lanced through his chest as Jiki gritted his teeth hard and pushed.
His twin’s hand stayed as a calming presence, but Denki started to cry again. “Stop! You’re hurting yourself.”
“Can’t,” Jiki said simply.
And then, like some obnoxiously booming angel, a voice called from above, “KIDDOS, CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
“PRESENT MIC!!!” Denki screamed, “WE’RE DOWN HERE. HURRY!!”
Jiki sensed when some of the metal seemed to melt from the load he was straining against. The strain became a little easier.
“DOWN HERE. DOWN HERE!!” Denki chanted, until light poured abruptly through gaps, blinding them both. Jiki continued thrusting up, not trusting to let go of his Quirk yet.
“KIDDOS!?” Present Mic’s voice boomed, startling Jiki’s concentration and his Quirk gave out. They were going to die, they were going to die because he couldn’t get the tops to spin anymore and and and—Denki’s shriek stopped abruptly.
“Bro, bro, bro. Look!”
Jiki opened his eyes, wincing as the dim light stabbed into his eyes. Denki was sitting up, arms hanging crookedly in his lap as he gazed up and around. The metal heap, all of it was being held back by wood like an asymmetrical cage, branches of wood that had sprung through the gap above them like large fingers. The brick wall behind them was cracked and ruined from the weight.
“My Lacquered Chain Prison should hold until we clear this out, kids,” a man’s voice said soothingly. “Stay put while we do.”
“Okay!!” Denki cheerfully answered, face turned towards the light. He had scratches all over his face and blood was sliding down both sides of his face and then down his neck, soaking the collar of his totally trashed Present Mic shirt. His left side had a piece of metal sticking out of it, also bleeding.
“Is your brother okay, KIDDO?”
“Yeah!! He’s really tired from holding it all up!” Denki took a deep breath. “His head and chest hurts, and-and his legs are broken, like my arms! Oh, and his arm was bleeding, so I did some First Aid-ing!” Denki leaned over his brother and with shining, red-rimmed eyes more quietly said, “You were right. The Heroes did come.”
Jiki mustered up a smile as the Pro Heroes finally broke away enough of the twisted metal so they could see the street in front of their grandparents’ house. Wearing their spacesuit, Thirteen was standing fairly far outside of it, a single finger of a glove open to disintegrate the debris. As soon as they finished clearing a path, three other Pro Heroes appeared in view wearing plainsclothes instead of their usual Hero uniforms, hovering outside the wooden cage. A few of the bars shifted making a large enough opening for Denki. “Hey KIDDO with the broken arms, come on out.”
With some trouble since he couldn’t use his arms, a gasping Denki dragged himself on his butt with his feet and then stood up in the sunlight. In addition to the blood and shrapnel, he had reddish orange, light blue and green, and dark brown stains all over his skin and was covered in dust from what Jiki could see. “Present Mic!”
“Hey, KIDDO. Wait, weren’t you the one who blew up some tvs?”
“Yeah!! I’m Denki! And that’s Jiki! He’s—”
“Hold up!” The Pro Hero boomed, forestalling Denki before he started chattering. “You’re bleeding all over the place!! Follow Ectoplasm to the paramedics, GOT IT?”
“GOT IT,” Denki repeated, hesitated, and then very carefully bent so as not to jostle his arms too much or hurt his side more to look back at his twin. “But Jiki…” Ectoplasm placed a dark purple hand on his shoulder. Jiki could sense the worry and eagerness to please at war inside Denki following Present Mic’s direction.
“Go, lil bro,” Jiki encouraged from where he lay alone in the darkness. “I’ll see you at the hospital.”
“See you,” Denki said, but the worry didn’t leave his eyes. He allowed them to ferry him away.
“Kamui,” A warbled, echoing voice stated out of view. “I cleared enough debris and my sidekicks have cleared the area of civilians so it should be safe now for you to reinforce the pile.”
“Jiki? They’re about to open up that space where you’re trapped. Stay put!” Present Mic called into the cramped space, “We’ll be right back! ALRRRRIGHT?!”
“YEAH,” Jiki said as loud as he could, but it was more of a groan and it made his head hurt.
With a loud ‘hmph’ and a grunt, the wood grew thicker and layered over itself. Slowly, it pushed the debris away, creating a wooden dome tall enough for the Pro Heroes waiting outside.
Eight Ectoplasms walked in, wearing a graphic tee, khaki pants, and velcro tennis shoes. They stood at equidistant places of the dome looking at the wood suspiciously and then braced their hands against it.
Then wearing similar clothing Present Mic came in, lacking his usual sunglasses, headband, and speaker, and set down a bright yellow flat board next to Jiki. “Hey, KIDDO. You did good. We’re going to need to move you. How are you holding up?”
“Thirsty but also like I’m gonna throw up. Really cold. And I have the worst headache ever.”
“Probably Quirk Exhaustion. You know what that is?”
Yet another Ectoplasm knelt gingerly on the opposite side of Jiki.
“I used my Quirk too much.”
“Yup, so don’t try again. Before we slide you onto here,” Present Mic tapped the yellow, strangely shaped board with holes at its edges, “we need to check something.” He held a finger up, looking very serious without his sunglasses to mask his piercing eyes. “Can you feel when Ectoplasm does that?”
Suddenly pain flared up his legs from the bottom of his shoes. Yelping, Jiki’s eyes darted to see Ectoplasm pulling back from where he very softly tapped.
Denki yelled something far away.
“Sorry, KIDDO, had to check before we moved you” Present Mic said with sad eyes as he grabbed the side of the child-sized stretcher. “On three, Ectoplasm’s going to roll you so I can get this under you, so we can get outta this dangerous place.”
The blond Pro Hero counted and suddenly Jiki’s world tilted as warm hands pulled him onto his side. He yelled out from the pain in his legs, but fell silent as he was on his back again strapped down.
“Still with us, Jiki?” A gruff, very deep voice asked.
“Mm.” He looked blearily into Ectoplasm’s all-white eyes and an ever-present grin. Oh. His mask doesn’t cover his mouth anymore. Then Jiki was disoriented as he was suddenly lifted off the ground.
As soon as they left the junk pile, there was a loud roar before them. Cheers and clapping from a blurry crowd behind bright yellow and black police barriers. The sound of groaning metal settling overcame that but only for a moment, followed by a blast of wind. Behind them, Jiki saw a humongous pile of crumpled vehicles standing taller than any other building in sight.
The noise of the crowd bothered him, and Jiki couldn’t see much else since the sun was beaming down on him painfully for what felt like hours. He groaned as they came to a stop and set him down on some kind of metal-framed, portable bed. He felt the boxy shape of an ambulance beyond it and winced away from his Quirk when his headache worsened.
“They’ll be giving you splints before taking you off the spinal board, KIDDO,” Present Mic said, while one paramedic unstrapped him and another rolled out two long pieces of vinyl. The one that unstrapped him took a pair of scissors to his jeans and pulled them off. Jiki stared down at his crooked, swollen and bruised legs.
“Suspected greenstick, but no exposed bone or bleeding,” the paramedic said to the other, who nodded. “Hey? I’m putting your right leg into the splint first. Then your left.”
He nodded, and a warm dark purple hand slipped into his and he clung to it and cried as they jostled his legs and slipped the plastic covers over each. Then a switch was flipped, and air ballooned around both of them until his legs felt stiff inside of them.
Without warning, they carefully rolled his left side onto the awaiting portable bed and slid the board out. Jiki cried out, pain lighting up his awareness. The warm hand left him and patted his shoulder, making him feel its loss. He knew the Pro Heroes were saying something to him, but he couldn’t make sense of the jumble of noises in addition to the pain and he was already crying too much to respond.
The same hand that had offered Jiki comfort now pressed against Present Mic’s shoulder and drew him away, and the blond Hero let it despite the pained look behind the sunglasses.
Meanwhile, the paramedics took Jiki’s unhurt arm and his inner elbow stung, but it was barely anything compared to the horrible pain of his legs and head.
Jiki had the sensation of the bed being lifted, wheeled legs folding quickly underneath him, and then the doors slammed shut.
He blinked awake, feeling both legs in casts up to his groin under the blanket, and saw gauze wrapping around his right forearm. He kept blinking, turning to his right. In the only other bed in the room, Denki was asleep, both arms in full casts peeking out from under his gown. He had bandages on his face. It was… really weird to be awake while Denki slept on, like his twin was totally limp on the ground clinging to his ankles while Jiki tried to walk. It made thinking difficult.
Gramps with both arms in a sling and hands wrapped in gauze perked up from his slouch. Granny was dozing against the wall. “Tyke! How’re you feeling?”
As soon as he spoke, Granny jerked awake. “Oh, Jiki.” With a watery smile, she reached over and placed a hand over his. “You’re awake. Goodness gracious, saints alive, I thought we’d lost the both of you.”
“S’rry,” he slurred. It was actually hard to keep his eyes open. “Showed him I could make electricity, so he made magnetism. Couldn’t break it—and then we got trapped. He smelled gas so it was—was dark.” He shuddered in memory, small frame shivering. “Th-then everything pressed down.”
Granny ran a hand over his cheek, and his eyes looked into her soft gray ones. “I’m proud of you. The Pro Heroes told me you stayed calm for your brother.”
Jiki hadn’t felt that way, at all. “He stayed calm for me.”
She smiled, “Of course.”
Then Gramps leaned forward with a stern look, “You two know better than to experiment with your Quirk without adult supervision.” He jerked his head to Denki’s bed. “This is exactly why we have this rule.”
Flinching, Jiki nodded. “S’rry.”
He sighed and then leaned against the wall again. “Course I should’ve done the right thing and not messed with the stack sitting on top of you two. Guess breaking the rules runs in the family.” The grin he sent Jiki was more of a grimace and Granny placed a hand on his shoulder as he continued, “Anyhow, your Mom and Dad will pop in as soon as they get here with Yuu-chan, Asa-chan, Nori-kun and Shi-chan, but before they do your Granny and I were wondering if you wanted to stay here until your casts came off. Obviously, with our house trashed, we’ve been temporarily rehomed at a duplex down the road but… we thought we’d offer since we know your house in Saitama is kind of small and hard to get around in with a wheelchair.”
“We can stay?” Denki’s drowsy voice asked from the other bed.
“As long as your parents say it’s okay, of course!” Granny grinned brightly at him as she stood up and shuffled to his twin. “How’re you feeling, Denki?”
“Better! Arms hurt but it’s all,” he paused and opened and shut his fingers in time with his pulse.
“Throbbing, maybe?” Granny asked.
“Yeah!” His golden eyes met Jiki’s silver. “How’re you?” Jiki didn’t know why he asked if he could already feel it.
“Wanna nap forever.”
Denki rolled his eyes as he sat up. “Well, yeah! You did hold up a mountain of cars. I mean, like, like,” he huffed when he lost the word he wanted to say. “How’d you like the Heroes?”
Denki turned a huge pout on their grandmother. “Grannyyy,” he whined and held up his heavy arms, suddenly upset.
She wrapped him up with a hug. “What’s all this, huh? Frustrated?”
“He forgot the Pro Heroes! They visited! And he did all the work, but he doesn’t remember!!” As soon as he was free of her arms, Denki turned both casts towards his twin. “I got their autographs!!” He bounced up and down in his agitation and his side twinged from the wound healing there. The hospital bed creaked worryingly.
Gramps harrumphed, and Denki glanced at him and settled down on his haunches. “Sit down before you fall out of bed and have the staff in an uproar. They already had to do your stitches once. Don’t make them do it again or they’ll be strapping you down.”
“Okaaaaay,” he said slowly. Rolling back off his deep crouch, Denki sat back with an annoyed sigh while the bed let out a loud croak.
“We do have pictures of the Heroes’ visit,” Granny said, holding up her phone and wiggling it side to side.
“Show him!! Show him, show him, show him,” he chanted with a sway as Granny shuffled towards Jiki.
Jiki took it carefully and swiped through the images. He was in every picture looking half-dead and out of it, and he wasn’t even trying to smile. He wasn’t even looking at the camera, but somewhere beyond it.
Of course, Denki and Present Mic in his typical Hero Gear would make faces at the camera and goof off. In one they had a double thumbs up with their fully extended arms, chopping them up and down like some weird robot since Denki couldn’t do the thrusting movement as usual with his arms in casts. In each of them, Ectoplasm stood stiffly next to Jiki’s bed.
Jiki continued swiping through them and giggled now and then at his brother’s silly antics with his favorite Pro Hero.
Then there was one where Present Mic had clasped his hands against his face in a ‘WHAAAAAAT’ expression while Denki had stiffly held out a hand with five fingers barely opened and one finger from his other. His twin was smiling but Jiki recognized pain in it probably from Denki moving his fingers like that. The next one had Present Mic posing heroically and head tilted to the side with a finger held up in an ‘I GOT AN IDEA’ stance while Denki’s face had lit up and had his both arms up in a ‘YAY!!!’ position.
And then the next swipe winked and flickered into a recording set in this very brightly lit room.
“Happy birthday to you~! Happy birthday to you~! Happy birthday, Denki-chan and Jiki-chan~! Happy birthday to you!”
Denki had a Present Mic hat on and kept blowing into a kazoo out of sync with the singing from the group of assorted Pro Heroes and their sidekicks. With the same vacant expression present in the other pictures, Jiki also had a silly purple hat on but it was of Ectoplasm.
“OKAY, YOUNG LISTENERS,” Present Mic’s loud voice made the phone’s tinny speakers spasm and crackle, “Make a wish!”
A store-bought, chocolate-frosted cake seemed to float across the screen with candles already lit.
Like they always did, Denki only blew half the cake out, and then turned to Jiki nudging him with a gentle swing of his cast-extended arm. “C’mon, Jiki, blow them out!”
Jiki gave him a long blink, and then he slowly leaned forward and blew it out to cheers and applause. Granny’s giggling was heard from the phone, muffled behind a hand, and then the recording ended.
Stunned, Jiki looked up. “What. WHY DON’T I REMEMBER THIS.”
“SEE. IT’S WEIRD.”
Gramps was shushing them loudly. “Settle down!! Good Ness. You’re not at school. People are ill here.”
They both had cowed expressions.
Arms jerking against the slings because he forgot they were strapped down, Gramps jutted his chin towards Jiki, “They had you on some real heavy painkillers to reset the breaks in your legs and to combat the Quirk Exhaustion. Painkillers like that can mess with how you form memories, so it’s not a surprise that you were so out of it and can’t remember.” His arms jerked again in the slings, and Gramps sighed at himself. “This all happened yesterday.”
It felt like Jiki had slept longer than that but then he kinda had after he passed out in the ambulance. Yeah, sure, he had been upright and alert but he was definitely asleep since he didn’t remember.
A nurse stepped in after a knock on the door. “Oh,” he said as he saw that Jiki was looking at him. “Good to see you awake. Mr. and Mrs. Kaminari are here to visit the kids.” He gave Denki and Jiki a sympathetic smile, “I’d like to let your siblings in, but it’s against hospital policy because of their age. The doctor in charge of your cases said she’ll have you discharged within the hour so you can go home.”
“What’s ‘discharge’,” Denki loudly whispered from his bed.
“Maybe let us out so we can go home?”
“Yep,” Granny said ruffling Jiki’s hair, “But with more paperwork.”
“Ugh,” the twins uttered in disgusted stereo. They understood paperwork because of how much there had been to get their names changed. It all seemed needlessly complicated like the adults themselves.
Thankfully, about ten minutes after their grandparents left, their parents arrived tearfully hugging them tightly to their chests. Mom was obviously pregnant again, and Denki was spazzing out over the prospect of another younger sibling. Dad told Jiki he was only going to have the casts on for a month and a half, only two weeks longer than Denki, because someone at the hospital had used their Bone-Healing Quirk to speed it up.
Distracted from his excited flailing, Denki had wondered out loud why they didn’t just heal them all the way, but Mom said that there were a lot more people with broken bones in the hospital other than just them and so it was only right that they used it for emergencies.
Jiki understood and even though he wanted to whine like Denki, he kept his mouth shut.
Thankfully, his twin started talking about how awesome Heroes were and how cool it was that they saved them just as Jiki’s Quirk slipped. And how much he, Denki, wanted to be a Pro Hero to protect and save others, too.
A quiet Jiki looked to the window and saw how dark it was outside, a gaping maw ready to swallow him whole. He shivered as he remembered the bone-deep screeching and the way Denki had clung to his hair in the dark, hope fleeing him even as Jiki held Death itself back with repelling magnetism...
No, Jiki didn’t want to be a Hero anymore, didn’t want to play as them either. He expected Denki would understand why whenever they found themselves in the dark.
Chapter 3: Cringing Is a Spectator's Sport
Pretty sure this is the last chapter from Jiki's POV.
Phew. Also, writing this fic has given me a greater appreciation for Denki.
Oh, yeah, and there's this delicious platter of brownies if anyone gets the references to another anime. :3
Haru wasn’t born long after the casts came off, and soon the whole family had moved into the house in Tokyo that Granny and Gramps had rebuilt after their electro-supermagnet fiasco. Even Aunt Yozai came to live with them setting up her ‘Inventor’s Corner’ in the now-off limits basement downstairs. Gramps and Granny had decided they liked the smaller duplex, but they were always just an easy walk away when any of the young Kaminaris wanted to see them.
Meanwhile, Denki and Jiki had another three combined Quirk counseling sessions in which they discovered:
That between their twin-empathy Jiki’s was way stronger and passive than Denki’s, who only at best had vague impressions unless he focused fully on him like that time under the junk heap.
That Denki could jumpstart Jiki’s magnetism with a shock to his belly.
That Jiki could levitate Denki like his sparks, though not for very long or very high and with only repel or attract control from his position.
That holding hands kept Denki fully charged even when Denki was trying to stay fully discharged.
That when they held hands, it didn’t take much effort from Jiki to shoot lightning from his fingertips at whatever targets were in front of them in strong contrast to Denki’s wide-area effect. Denki cheered and whooped every time Jiki reduced a target to slag. Jiki mostly felt weirdly like that super old, creepy Villain in that one famous space opera that a lot of place names gave a nod to in some weird homage.
The last discovery meant that their Quirks had come in at the same time after all. They just hadn’t realized it at the time.
They didn’t have to demonstrate their supermagnet combination, probably because the destruction potential was high and the Quirk researchers didn’t have the proper facilities for testing it. Additionally there were some spectacular videos from bystanders as people frantically fled from their vehicles being pulled to their combined epicenter. Some had required assistance from Heroes when they couldn’t move fast enough, especially because they had small children.
At the end of their last Quirk counseling session, the twins were moved to separate rooms and run through a gamut of specific tests again. Once they were done, they were taken to the same room and given a stern lecture of avoiding prolonged physical contact with each other and were both handed printouts written for their age with simple hiragana. Denki felt crestfallen at the lecture, but grinned at Jiki anyway.
Denki’s stats had improved, able to discharge a max of 50 kV, expend a max of 0.1 mA, both limited by his 20 W output. Jiki’s own remained mostly unchanged, though they added a line about his having the ability to create ‘alternating current’ with a note that its scale relied on the strength of the magnetic force he used but that the effort to maintain it drained him too much to be a public concern.
Then they went home.
After the mountain of metal, they had nightmares, and of course Jiki managed to convince Denki to keep quiet about them and Jiki’s fits of panic. But after the move, they couldn’t keep it secret any longer; their big brother Katsunori slept on a futon on the floor and was alarmed when he was woken abruptly by Jiki’s muffled sobbing. His big brother’s warm hand was soothing on his back, while Denki cuddled next to him and pet his hair. They were sent to child-specific Quirk trauma counselors. Denki did better at the talk therapy. He was always better at talking stuff out, while Jiki tended to shy away from what bothered him.
They got better though, and the ‘panic attacks’ lessened. Denki always helped whenever Jiki was struck with one from innocuous stuff like a giant shadow passing over them or the sound of a train squealing by. He would get disoriented when the tops automatically began to spin in his stomach ready to repel the danger. Having this Quirk reflex sometimes made him think they were trapped again until he was brought to a quiet bright place and given space. The therapist said this was totally normal after his experience and taught him calming exercises for his rapid breathing and spiraling thoughts. It helped when he had presence of mind or Denki to remind him to do them.
Jiki’s sticky brain, which was always a blessing when it came to remembering things, was now a heavy curse because it was almost a year later, and the memory was still as clear and sharp as if it happened yesterday, like some recording that he could replay any time he wanted. Time didn’t help him, not like with Denki, who talked about how the memory of the junk heap was getting fuzzier feeling like it happened to someone else. Jiki kept it to himself, deciding it wasn’t something he could change. It was something he would have to live with.
But Denki’s love of Present Mic didn’t fade, unlike his memory of that disaster, and his desire to become a Hero grew stronger than ever. He always kept tabs on the DJ Hero’s new radio show, excited to keep his twin apprised of anything interesting.
And then, Shiori’s Quirk came in early; the rest of her family only found out when she turned the surface of the table into a stretchy hammock with a simple touch on accident. It was such a gentle Quirk, too, and only worked on non-living objects. She didn’t seem aware of how relieved everyone was when her Quirk didn’t turn out to be a dangerous one. She chose Shinaya for ‘elastic’ or ‘flexible’ and then took Quirk counseling of her own though hers only lasted one session.
From a young age, Jiki found he really hated when people shoved their smartphones in his face. His thoughts would skate around, and he would get confused as his thoughts scrambled. The same thing would happen if he was standing too close to the microwave or game console or desktop tower when it was running. Sometimes he would even forget the past events of the day or something he learned recently. It wasn’t until a proud seven-and-a-half-year-old Denki slid a pair of hi-tech headphones, the first prototype he’d made with Auntie’s help, on Jiki’s head that the mystery was solved.
But not before Jiki ripped them off his head, the room whirling around like he was sick with vertigo. His mind was reeling as he tried to piece together where he was, what he was doing, what day it was… he flinched back when somebody he didn’t know touched his shoulder and asked if he was okay.
“Don’t!” Jiki yelled, slapping off the other kid’s hand. “Who are you? What are you doing in my room??” Panic was clawing at him, and anything metal was being pushed back by the force, probably destroying whatever hard drives were nearby. Thank god for Mom’s server, otherwise…
“Bro?” Golden eyes were wide, and the surprise on his face mirrored in Jiki’s chest mingling with cutting hurt. “I—we’re twins? And it’s my room too?”
Silver eyes jerked around in confusion as he looked at the familiar DJ Hero staring down from the posters on the wall and the second and third desks in the room. The Pro Hero wasn’t his favorite. Katsunori didn’t sleep in the bunk bed but why else would it be in here? Why would there be a third desk? Jiki closed his eyes, hunching over as he covered his ears. Lots of details were there, but there was a problem with his memory. Just one. He didn’t know who the kid standing next to him was.
“D-do I need to get Dad?”
“No. Who are you?” Jiki asked again, pulling his hands down and turning in the chair.
The flustered blond kid with a stripe in his fringe, shaped just like Jiki’s, fidgeted in place. It was a lot like looking in the mirror and Jiki’s stomach lurched at the thought of forgetting someone so important. “I-I said it already?”
“No, I mean your name.”
The blond squinted his eyes looking perplexed and worried. He stated softly, “Denki. Kaminari Denki.”
Whatever block had wedged itself in Jiki’s mind was unleashed at the utterance. It unlocked detail upon detail and flooded Jiki’s brain with a wealth of information on his twin. It took a minute for him to process it all. He frowned as the knowledge began to settle and then looked down at the pair of headphones on the floor. “Sorry. My brain must’ve glitched. I remember you now.” His shoulders hunched as he mentally berated himself. “Sorry.”
Denki flung himself at him, wrapping him tightly around his shoulders. “Bro!! What happened? I put the radio headset on your head and then—” He pulled away and saw that Jiki was staring at his creation. He frowned down at it. “That’s what did this?” He scooped it up, keeping it far away from Jiki. “But, why?”
Suddenly, it clicked. Jiki had always preferred listening to music with speakers, not headphones. He couldn’t think straight otherwise and anything he was trying to learn would seep out like someone trying to hold an unwrapped stick of room-temperature butter. Now, he understood why. “The permanent magnets. Must be.”
Gramps had told him a long time ago that he was like a soft magnet. What if his prodigal memory was related to his Quirk? Did that mean that a simple ferrimagnet had the potential to wipe or corrupt his memory if it was too close to his skull? Well. His stomach did funny flips at the thought. It was good that he hadn’t snacked recently.
“I used the strongest ones that—oh. OH. Wait.” Denki worried at his lower lip and looked at him with concern. “Does this mean your brain’s like a giant hard-drive that can get wiped?”
“At least my Quirk doesn’t have any effect on it. That would be troublesome,” Jiki said.
Denki’s eyes were huge. “What if you got into a car accident and they tried to give you an MRI scan? Would you forget everything?? There’s magnets in everything, bro!! OH.” He went to the white board on his wall that he kept recent magazine clippings of Present Mic, and methodically began taking off all the magnets and setting the glossy paper cutouts on the massive pile of stuff already on his desk. He took out the container with the finger-sized magnetic holders and dumped the others into it. He darted around the room scooping up anything portable that had magnets in it.
“Denki, could you… not say anything? I don’t want Mom to worry, and it would be a bother to everyone else.”
Lifting up a plastic drawer with an assortment of magnetic clips and hair and ear accessories plus his homemade headset, Denki whipped his head up. “Huhhhh? But… Everyone should know about it, so they don’t get magnets near your head? I’m getting rid of the fridge magnets next, and they’ll ask. Plus, if Gramps accidentally activated his Quirk on your head, he’d feel real bad to have hurt you and then yell at me for keeping it from him.” His lips pulled into a determined line. “And I know you, Bro. You’re trying to keep secrets again, so no, we’re not doing that. Not again. Not telling anyone about the nightmares from getting trapped or your panic attacks was a bad idea then, and this is a bad idea now.”
Heart racing with spiking anxiety, Jiki squirmed under his brother’s protective stare. Denki was right. This was one of many reasons that his twin would make a good Hero when he grew up.
“And, I never want you to look at me like… like that again… like I’m some stranger. That seriously freaked me out. What even was that? And then it was like a switch was flipped when I said my name. Do you, like, have a data bank with names and pictures linked with info or what? And the headset magnets made you forget my name and how I looked? Mmmm,” he said thoughtfully. “Maybe it’s ‘cause I surprised you when I stuck them on your head. So, when you thought of me that’s how I got wiped.” He nodded to himself, doubt washed away with resolve. “And why we gotta say something. Then we can learn about it with supervision. ‘Cause this has gotta be Quirk-related.” Hitching the drawer up one-handed, he grinned brightly and thrust out a thumbs up. “Yeah! I got you, Bro.”
Face heating, Jiki simply looked down at his hands. That was always the case, wasn’t it?
Three years passed after the Time That Changes Were Made concerning magnets in their household, and Denki’s determination to become a Hero burned like the sun in the back of Jiki’s mind. More and more, Jiki felt like a deadweight in his shadow, holding his brother back from his potential. He didn’t want to be a Hero or do anything related to Heroics like Support or Business, not with that memory of being buried under a junk heap still as clear as a cloudless day. At least his twin understood and never pressed it, but Denki never really applied himself towards his ambition and that concerned Jiki.
During the spring of the twins’ fourth year in elementary, Haru became Hane, and weeks later was tragically caught in a sudden upsurge of air when her Quirk activated accidentally, too far away from Jiki’s magnetic reach. No one was able to catch her in her screaming freefall, no Heroes with the right Quirks were around to, and Jiki blamed himself for a long time. He couldn’t be a Hero if he couldn’t even save his littlest sister.
Grief fell like a sickness on everyone in the house. Jiki was short-tempered and constantly on the verge of crumpling anything made of metal or destroying any electronics he touched. ‘Genki Denki’ was sluggish and disinterested in playing games like a black hole had swallowed up his energy, and Shinaya would suddenly start crying mid-conversation. Their siblings, Dad, and Auntie were really the only functional ones in the household, making sure they were fed and dressed for school.
Taking extended leave from her job, Mom wouldn’t talk to anyone for weeks and cradled Hane’s favorite teddybear while she stared off into space. Dad was gentle with her but even he had his limits when Jiki found him crying into a pillow with the door open to the master bedroom. Gramps and Granny took Mom to her counseling sessions, but it would be another year before she could smile again. They all had family therapy. It helped because the anger under Jiki’s skin stopped itching constantly, so did the emptiness in his chest. Denki stopped being scared of sudden outbursts from him—Jiki hated to remember so clearly but he yelled horrible, awful words like guided missiles and threw things too when Denki wouldn’t leave him alone in his miserable self-hatred. His twin never deserved that kind of abuse, and Jiki wished he had walked away instead of taking it out on him because his Memory Bank wouldn’t let him forget now—and they were able to return to some semblance of the warm sibling rapport they had before.
Presently, Jiki didn’t want to be in the sterile room filled with others half his age to take one stupid test, but he had to let Denki go, and if his twin was always fretting over Jiki, Denki wouldn’t apply himself to get up to snuff to pass the entrance exams for UA High which were only three years away.
After a few hours, he turned in the test and finally exited the building squinting into the sunlight. He hitched up the small bag he’d brought for the calculator, his pencil bag, and an easy read on astrophysics if they had a break.
Of course he breezed through it. His Memory Bank had a search index which made regurgitating information child’s play. He had to work harder for anything requiring critical thinking, but that was easy too as long as he understood the problem. Plus, Memory Bank always had examples of related problems and their correct answers too. It didn’t really count as cheating if that’s how his brain worked, right?
“Bro! How’d you do? You feel pretty confident, huh? Huuh?” Denki grinned at him brightly, straightening from where he was loitering by the building.
“No sweat,” Jiki responded as they headed to the nearest train station, a few blocks away.
“Only you would act like that after taking the entrance exam to that brainy middle school.” Denki’s grin broadened.
Typically, people only got into this particular school when they were still young since it provided classes from kindergarten all the way to senior year in high school. That’s why Jiki was much older than the other prospective applicants. By his age, the application process was extremely time-consuming and intense so it was easier on everyone involved to get in earlier.
He still didn’t regret deliberately flunking all those intelligence tests his teachers and counselors had insisted on him taking. He understood early on that he wouldn’t be kept in the same class with Denki if he answered truthfully, remembering how his preschool teachers excitedly pulled him away from his classmates to teach him harder concepts. All he wanted was to stay by his brother’s side as they went through Quirk growing pains together. No, there wasn’t any regret there though the adults in charge would get upset when the results came in with such poor scores.
“Nerd,” came the lighthearted insult.
“Hey, hey. That’s downright hurtful, coming from someone who barely scrapes by.” Jiki tapped his twin on the forehead once and tutted. “When is the King of Clubs going to realize that people will like him just as much without acting like a dumb clown all the time?”
“I’m not good at school stuff like you are,” he muttered rubbing at the tapped spot.
Jiki held in the sigh. “You’re good at plenty of things, Denki. Do you really think Aunt Yozai would let you work on her inventions if she thought you were stupid?”
With a pat to his brother’s shoulder, Jiki looked him square in the eye. “I want you to go be the Pro Hero you want to be, but you won’t make it if you don’t work for it. If you’re serious about it, about being a Hero, UA High should be your goal.”
His twin’s shoulder pulled away in case Jiki reached out to him again and the sharp tang of doubt made itself known as Denki looked away. “Yeah, I know that.”
“High school entrance exams aren’t everything. Just because you pass them doesn’t mean they’ll stick you in Heroics, not with so many applicants with passing scores. They’ll be looking at your school records to see how well-balanced you are, you’ll have an essay to write with your application, and there’s an interview process.” When Denki felt like he was shrinking back upon hearing that, Jiki stretched and took hold of Denki’s hand, something that lately he only ever did in the grip of a panic attack. “If they come to know you like I do, you’ll get into the top class. But,” he paused, squeezing his hand, “Only if you apply yourself.”
Squeezing the hand back, Denki searched his face with the frown that meant he was checking Jiki’s feelings on the matter. “…You really think so…”
Jiki gave him a lopsided smile and slipped his hand free. “First things first. Stop shopping around for clubs. It’s already mid-semester. Pick one up. After that, I expect you to actually pay attention in our classes.” He waved a hand negligently. “I don’t really care if you don’t take notes or do the homework. Cramming for tests only go so far when your mind is so far away from the source material while it’s being covered in class that you might as well be in outer space. I’m honestly surprised you even make 70s. You must be lucky when you guess on the multiple choice sections.”
“Oh yeah,” Denki said with a thumbs up. “Using the power of elimination!”
Slapping a hand to his forehead and dragging it down his face, Jiki let out the longsuffering sigh he’d been holding back. “I swear to god you’re such a dork.”
The goofiest smile came onto Denki’s normally sharp face along with a great helping of bubbly amusement which tickled Jiki’s brain and took immediate effect, and suddenly Jiki was laughing so hard he had to clutch his stomach and dropped his bag on the ground. “You jerk! Let-let me—haha—catch my breath.”
Denki swiped his abandoned bag, opening it out of curiosity. He looked away like he smelled something bad and picked the large book up like it was a dirty diaper. “Ugh. Astrophysics? Why can’t you stick with regular physics like the rest of us peons?”
Able to catch his breath finally once Denki was distracted, Jiki swiped the book from him and lightly swung it at his head. Denki ducked of course, and the heavy paperback missed by a lot. “Our classmates don’t really know much about physics,” he said smugly. “So, I don’t really know what you mean by ‘us peons’.”
His blond twin grumbled and shoved his hands in his pockets, looking away shyly.
“That’s what I thought,” Jiki teased.
For the first time in their lives, the twins attended different schools and had different classes. At first the adjustment was hard, since Denki so heavily relied on Jiki’s notes and the knowledge he held with Memory Bank. Once they adjusted, the twins always made time to hang out or talk.
Lately Katsunori was always busy. If he wasn’t studying, whether that be memorizing concepts at the library or practicing them in the kitchen for culinary school entrance exams, then he was working at his part-time job at the child care center nearby. The twins saw him even less than they normally did.
Meanwhile, Yuubae and Asaya were both studying to become premed students, though the former wanted to be an RN and the latter wanted to be a vet tech; they worked at MgRonald’s because of the offered flexible work schedule.
Lastly, Shinaya mostly kept to herself, spending much of her time online or reading when she wasn’t at school. Now and then she sought out Denki for advice, but when he wasn’t around she’d get red-faced, apologize, and run out of the room. Jiki knew it wasn’t because she didn’t like him; she simply shied away from him when he was by himself because of his cool mannerisms. Also, he knew from Denki that his penetrating gaze was intimidating even when he was trying not to be.
In a matter of days, Denki had made new friends at Shio Middle School since many of their classmates from elementary went to different middle schools just like they did. He would often talk about them, particularly the shy Shigeo who tripped over himself all the time and was so afraid of his Quirk that he pretended to be Quirkless. Most of his class went along with it, just so that the guy wouldn’t collapse from a heart attack or something. Denki mostly felt sorry for him.
“Dude needs some serious therapy but his parents either don’t believe in it or have some dumbass reason against it,” Denki was saying while he hung his head back over the top bunk bed, his hair like a giant waterfall of yellow fluff.
Jiki was at his neat and orderly desk, chewing on his eraser as he tried to think of how to set up the mathematical formula to solve the physics problem presented on the page. “Mm,” he muttered. “Well if they keep acting like he isn’t an ESPer, you should tell the school counselor. They’ve got studies on rejecting children’s Quirks, and they’re all bad. All it does is make the Quirk unmanageable, and if it goes on for long enough it’ll turn even a harmless Quirk Wild, full stop.”
“Yeah, he’s already got the symptoms? And he keeps mumbling percentages, and I wanted to know if it's right to interfere. I mean, someone else should’ve noticed by now, right?” Denki rolled onto his stomach, flipping his hair up over his shoulder with an arm. “Someone other than his nutty boss at his part-time job. I didn’t think we were even allowed jobs at our age.”
“It would all be under the table. Maybe your friend needs the money and support where he can find it.” Spinning his chair to face his brother, Jiki gave him the look. It was a look of utter serene acceptance that his brother could be an absolute dork when he doubted his own good judgment. “Hell, yes, interfere, Master of Interfering-In-Business-That-Isn’t-Yours. If you don’t, this Shigeo could blow up, and—you mentioned he was psychokinetic?” He waited for the nod. “I know you already know that could flatten the whole place if he gets stressed enough then. So take care of it.” He turned back to the physics problem jotting down a possible set-up that might lead to a solution. He stared down at the math he’d written out, frowning. But if he solved it would it actually answer the problem?
“I love you too, Bro.”
“Uh huh,” he mumbled as he decided to go ahead with the equation. Then he abruptly stopped writing mid-solution at the sappy warm feeling in his chest when it became too distracting. He blinked and looked at Denki and his broad grin. With an eyeroll, Jiki reciprocated with plenty of affection, admiration, and trust at his brother. “I’ve got to get this done, you dork. I have about five more problems to finish tonight.”
“Okay, okay. Sheesh,” Denki said cheerfully, snapping up his PSP, and played to his heart’s content. Hopefully he had already gotten his homework done because Jiki had promised himself that he wouldn’t keep nagging him about it. Denki had to learn to manage his time on his own and badgering him wouldn’t do that.
Not a week later, Aldera Junior High in Mustafu had a Wild Quirk Incident, trashing an entire classroom, but thankfully there were no injuries. The guy was the same age as them, looking thin with shining silver hair, but his face was blurred out and his name was never shared. He had quietly turned himself in without incident despite having a checkered past and his current guardian showing himself to be an ass on national tv. There had to be more to his story, but like so many underage cases there wouldn’t be much resolution for spectators.
Jiki was infinitely glad Denki had gotten help for his friend, and, after watching the newscast streaming online together about the Incident at Aldera Junior High, they shared an understanding look. Wild Quirks only surfaced this late for terrible reasons, mostly neglect or abuse. Denki’s friend, Shigeo, with his severe anxiety and strict parents wasn’t the typical case which was why he slipped so far under the radar.
Dinner a few nights after that was quiet at the Kaminaris, but very lively. Auntie was actually upstairs for once, sharing their meal, excited about a new contract she’d landed for multiple specialized taser rods that reacted to a specific frequency of gravitational warping. Her hands were spilling all the details, while everyone joined in with cheers or compliments or questions of their own.
This bid is the break K Unlimited needed! I might even need helpers if they keep coming. She nudged Denki with her elbow and smirked. Right, Thunderclap?
Denki laughed quietly and waved her off, No way! Someone else who actually knows what they’re doing—like Magnet—would be better.
Please, Jiki added in vigorously as his hands fluidly shaped his words, Just because I know doesn’t mean I can build reliably. If you’re getting me involved, let me stick to the theoretical details and number checking.
Yuubae and Asaya chortled softly.
Spoken like an aspiring engineer, Katsunori’s large hands spoke delicately.
Fire, I already said—
Magnet wants to be a computer programmer! Yuubae and Asaya signed perfectly together because of Yuu-chan’s Quirk, unnerving Denki enough to choke on his bite of curry, while Dad rubbed his back on the other side of him in a fussy manner. Mom couldn’t help snickering, though she coughed a couple times to clear her throat.
Well, as long as you get it, Sunset and Sunrise, Jiki said with tight, overly cool movements and then more openly and warm, Auntie, I’ll be glad to help out with the nanite interfaces once I know enough about them to not ruin them.
Aunt Yozai giggled behind her drink and waved him off. Don’t be so humble! I bet you could program them tomorrow, Magnet.
While he gave a demure reaction to Auntie’s compliments, Shinaya quietly watched behind her glasses, her eyes drifted from one pair of hands to the others. She had only spoken once to congratulate their aunt and spent the rest of the time following along with the conversation but otherwise too shy to join in and mess up her own handwork. Considering that she had an unhealthy perfectionism about everything? It was little wonder she didn’t have OCD. She didn’t even have a solid nickname yet, like the rest of them. Jiki rather liked Rubberband, but Shinaya didn’t, so he never used it. For now, they simply called her ‘Naya when they wanted her attention.
Dinner finished quickly after that, and they returned to their rooms. There was a very strict schedule for bathing with such a crowded household, so the boys had already taken their baths before dinner. In the room where every wall and ceiling held Present Mic’s face, Katsunori rolled out his futon with practiced ease taking up the space between the bed and their desks.
Jiki was enjoying a new book on quantum physics on the bottom bed of the bunkbed, when he felt the bed shift and Denki’s head stuck out.
“You wanted to be a soup chef, right Nori?” Denki, with the bottom half of his body perched on the top of the bunk bed and his arm flattened to the vertical stretch of frame, rolled his head side to side on his arm. He looked like he was about to fall out, but they long had gotten used to his strange habit of literally hanging around.
“Sous chef, but yeah, eventually. I’ll be a Commis chef first,” Their older brother nodded. “Pretty sure I’ll have that internship secured once I get through the next two years of schooling. I won’t hear back about passing the entrance exam until next week, though. Why do you ask?”
Denki grinned. “You don’t really talk much about it. I just wanted to know.”
Wearing loose pajamas, Katsunori took a seat on the futon. “That’s sweet of you.”
“You still doing oil paintings?”
Katsunori brushed a hand nervously through his black hair. “Well… yeah. I can take you to the studio if you want to see them, but its shared space so you’d have to promise not to mess with other people’s stuff.”
“Yes, I promise! I get to see my big bro’s artwork? Hell. Yes!”
Making a noise in the back of his throat, Jiki lightly kicked the bottom of his bed. “God, how can you be this awake when it’s bedtime?”
Denki pushed himself over so that he was hanging right next to him off the side of the bed and stuck out his tongue. He popped back up out of view to let the bedframe protect him when Jiki tried to hit him with a pillow. “Crabby McCrabPants. All you seem to do is read and do schoolwork. Nerd.”
They almost started a pillow fight if Katsunori hadn’t raised the temperature a few degrees, and the twins started to sweat. It was a nonverbal threat. “Cut it out, you two. I’m turning off the lights.”
The lights flicked off, and soon the A/C kicked on bringing blessed cool to the room.
“Dork,” Jiki whispered at the lumpy springs above him.
“Nerd,” Denki’s voice replied from above in the dimness of the night light, which glowed from the corner closest to Jiki.
The temperature in the room rose another five degrees, and the bed shivered and shook as they moved to throw off their bedcovers. Denki’s pajama shirt landed with a light thump against their shared closet while Jiki chugged on his waterbottle from sudden dry mouth. Jiki heard the telltale click above him as Denki turned on the fan installed on his wall and a sigh of relief.
“Go to sleep,” came the deep, grumbling voice of their oldest brother from the lump on the floor, “Unless you personally want to experience the Sahara Desert at noon.”
Neither of them made another peep.
Jiki had been on edge all day ever since they visited the arcade. The power to the house had only been restored a few minutes ago, but Denki had yet to return even after Auntie had, who confessed that she hadn’t seen him all day.
Something had happened to Denki, though his brother seemed totally oblivious to anything being wrong. He wouldn’t lie like that and then up and disappear. His mood had been strange, something foreign clouding it up, but Jiki hadn’t been able to place a finger on it.
It wasn’t until he heard a massive amount of sirens running by outside their house that the feeling morphed into deep unease.
Not long after, as he stood on the first step leading to their house and stared over their walled-in tiny front yard with Katsunori, Yuubae, Asaya, and Shinaya, panic slammed into him like a sledgehammer, radiating from his chest. Oh no.
“Oh, poop,” Katsunori kiddy-cursed when he saw Jiki sway and clutch the front of his shirt. He raised a warm hand to steady him. “I shouldn’t have let Denki leave. He’s in trouble, isn’t he?”
“What?” Jiki felt cold as the unease seeped into dread. His older sisters exchanged a look. Just because he was panicking, didn’t mean… Denki wasn’t the cause of the police rush, was he?
“I-I thought he was taking the Support Gear for a test run before meeting Auntie in the backshed.”
Shinaya looked up at their older brother worriedly.
“You must’ve been wrong,” Asaya softly said as Yuubae cursed darkly under her breath about knowing something was fishy. “Did he say anything else?”
“That he was going to make Auntie proud… No. No way. You can’t think,” Katsunori looked at his sibling with fear in his eyes.
Yuubae gestured pointedly towards Jiki who had started breathing exercises to calm himself down. Asaya placed a comforting hand on Shinaya’s left shoulder as she looked more and more concerned, eyes sweeping over them.
Katsunori groaned into his hands because it didn’t sound like the Denki they knew.
“I know. It doesn’t sound like him, but somebody must’ve gotten in his head and scrambled up his thoughts,” Yuubae said, crossing her arms and tapping her fingers in agitation against her elbow. “Like I said, something felt off when he came home from the arcade.”
“They prolly got more than they bargained for trying to twist Denki around like that,” Asaya pointed out. “If they were trying to steal Auntie’s Gear? The moment he snapped out of it…”
“It would be on,” Yuubae finished. “He always does stupid stuff when he gets like that.”
Auntie tapped their youngest sister on the shoulder asking what was going on. Shinaya very slowly and carefully answered, Denki left with Support Gear. Now we hear police sirens close by. He might be in trouble since Jiki’s acting weird.
Auntie’s eyes grew huge with dismay, turning to flick up and down Jiki’s form, and then she said, I’ll be right back.
She activated the gloves she always wore with a press to a button on the inner wrist of both and flipped the switch on her visor to turn on the communication system she'd devised to interface with the old house phone and her own cell phone; she'd built it after a long annoyance at the lack of progress in old-fashioned TTY devices. The small speaker at the top right of her chest and the microphone nestled beside her right ear gave respective output and input for Hearing devices.
Pulling the visor down from where it pushed back her fringe and over her eyes, the screen lit up with her audio analyzer-to-visual readout program. When it came to calls, the program took the incoming audio signal and translated it for her to read, and then her hand movements through the motion-sensitive gloves would be translated into writing, which was then converted into an audio signal to send to whichever Hearing person picked up.
Turning away as Aunt Yozai made a callsign and then dialed out numbers with her gloved hands, Jiki dropped the hand that had been digging into the front of his shirt. “I need to—” Worry propelled him forward and he took off running before he finished speaking. His older brother yelling at him that that was a bad idea. His other siblings simply watched him go.
Unfortunately, as soon as he turned the corner, the police cordon was up and he couldn’t get through. However, with his siblings' words fresh in his mind, Jiki was convinced that something had happened at the arcade. Maybe it was a Villain or something after Auntie’s Support tech, but the panic was genuine and then sudden terror flared through him. He took several deep breaths holding them for a second or two before releasing them.
“Hey!! Get me to my brother! He doesn’t think straight when he’s wigging out,” he called to the police officer closest. At the lizard-faced officer’s blank stare, Jiki went into greater detail, “He’s about my height with blond hair and a black strip right there.” He jerked a hand at the opposite side of his own blond strip. The terror died down to a tense fear again. At least he didn’t feel hurt. “Really strong electrical Quirk. He probably overdid things.”
Uneasy murmuring about what he was saying passed through the crowd. Many were looking at him with interest or disdain, but he ignored them.
The lizard-faced police officer gave him another unimpressed stare and then tapped another officer passing behind them. “Hey,” the voice was especially feminine, high and airy, “This kid says his brother’s the one who ran off after knocking out that gang.”
The detective blinked and tilted his fedora. “That true, kid?”
There was another flare of terror, this time accompanied with pain lancing across his left arm. “Son of a—” He bit off the curse as he clutched his arm. That. That felt like a burn because the pain couldn’t be ignored and sat on his head like a dumbbell. “Yes!” He gritted out.
“Let him through,” the detective said, and the lizard-man lets him pass. His concerned gaze fell on him. “Do you need to see a medic?”
“No, we’ve got shared empathy so I can tell you he just got burned badly, here.” He pointed at his unblemished left arm, circling about how big it felt.
The man winced and led him away from the prying eyes of the crowd and the media. He offered a hand after removing his hat. “I’m Detective Tsukauchi. The gang your brother shocked into submission was one of my department’s ongoing cases.”
Honestly, that sounded just like something his twin would do, that is, after intense training and a provisional Hero license. Not the wet-behind-the-ears kid he was. Jiki shook the man’s hand though it was impatient. “Look, Denki—that’s Kaminari Denki—was acting off earlier today after we went to the arcade. Then he grabbed some of Aunt Yozai’s Support Tech and left without telling anyone where he was going. His Quirk is called Electrification, and it’s wicked strong with a max of 1.3 megavolt discharge, but capped at about 500 W. I can handle this without damage so if you’d just send me out to calm him down, he’d turn himself in.”
The man immediately pulled a radio from his belt and repeated the most relevant information succinctly to a dispatcher. The dispatcher acknowledged the information, and he hooked it back on his belt. “Sorry, but that would be grossly negligent and against protocol to send an underage civilian into an incident like this. Even family.”
“Okay. Okay, I get it,” Jiki said through gritted teeth when the pain rolled through him again followed by exhaustion. He clutched his arm, thinking quickly. “His favorite Pro Hero is Present Mic. He’s idolized the guy ever since we met him when we were five. You could set up a trap and slap some suppressors on him. No muss, no fuss.”
With a determined glint in his eyes, Detective Tsukauchi picked up the radio again and called the same dispatcher, relaying the information about getting Present Mic on the case, pronto. The dispatcher acknowledged it and they signed-off. “Thanks, Kaminari-kun. You should head on home before your family worries about you. They’ll be informed shortly of the situation.” He put his hat back on and walked towards one of the parked police cars.
Hand gripping his left forearm, Jiki hated the feeling of uselessness but he’d decided early on that this kind of scenario was not his thing. Lizard Police Officer let him through the cordon, and he walked home at a more subdued pace.
“JIKI! We were worried sick!!” Her visor perched on top of her head, Aunt Yozai’s automated vocaloid voice yelled from the speaker on her chest lagging behind what her hands were saying, “It’s bad enough that Denki’s gone vigilante and encountered Endeavour!”
Ah, that’s why Denki’s arm got burned. That Hero was No. 2 solely because of his ruthless efficiency at Villain Round-Up, but he certainly was no friend to civilians, especially those who had divergent capabilities like those found in ‘disabled’ people. Practically the anti-thesis of All Might where it mattered, Endeavour had been quite vocal about there being no need for ‘silly’ accommodations when those who needed them were a slight fraction of the population and other such wonderful utterances. Such as, handicap parking spots being freed up after eight pm because people who needed an extra hand weren’t supposed to have night lives. Basically, Endeavour was an ableist turd, who believed that those he deemed weak didn’t deserve to live their lives as independent existences with these simple accommodations. None of the Kaminaris liked him.
Jiki raised a hand, picking at the space slightly above his forehead with forefinger and thumb and then chopping the hand down from it multiple times, Sorry, sorry.
“I can’t believe he would do something like this,” her speaker intoned a milder inflection of annoyance this time, but the rest of Auntie expressed exasperation and worry, “Do you think it was a Villain??”
Jiki frowned, and then signed, Probably. He acted odd after the arcade. You didn’t see it but it was like a thought got stuck in his head and he couldn’t focus until he did something about it.
Auntie rubbed her forehead and then signed for him to come home, “Let’s go home.”
Did you know you left your speaker on? He pointed at her chest.
LOL, she signed with a half laugh and turns the speaker off in the middle of a robotic laugh. I forgot after talking to the authorities. Oops. She turned everything off before leading him back to their home.
They re-entered the house. The atmosphere was intense as the Kaminari family huddled around the LED monitor showing current news with subtitles running along the bottom. Nobody was interested in the dinner growing cold on the table. Mom had a deadline coming up for several of her projects at work so she wasn’t home yet. She probably wasn’t even aware of anything being wrong yet.
“—a surprising turn of events, Vigilante No. 356 has escaped All Might’s deft capture at Choumiryo Shopping District,” as the newscaster speaks there’s a video of a blurred-face Denki unleashing a large shock to the massive hero who doesn’t seem bothered at all but then Endeavour showed up and a larger crackle of lightning slammed into the No. 1 Hero and he was down for the count and smoking slightly, “and is currently facing off Pro Heroes in Mustafu near UA High.” There’s an eye-in-the-sky shot right outside a tall wall on the road next to the famous high school where Denki, wrapped in some kind of fabric capture weapon from behind by a standing-haired Pro Hero in black, stood motionless across from Present Mic. “Reports indicate that the underage vigilante has been talked down by Present Mic and is waiting for the police to take him into custody.”
Dad muted the television. “Well, kids,” he stated repeating everything he said with his hands, which they all did as second nature whenever Auntie was around, “What have we learned today?”
“Don’t go vigilante?” Yuubae bit out acerbically, fingers cutting the air sharply.
“Close,” Dad said with a wink. The high schooler rolled her eyes.
The ever-present pain in Jiki’s arm was dropping away finally and then he felt drowsiness roll through him, but he caught himself before he toppled over. He lightly slapped his cheeks and blinked furiously to stay awake, while Aunt Yozai gave him a curious look. I think Denki’s been given something to knock him out? And his aunt nodded in understanding.
“—turn yourself in when you do something wrong,” Shinaya was saying, hands gracefully tracing the words.
“You got it! Then Pro Heroes don’t have to get involved and your quick decision to give up will be taken into consideration by the judge in charge of your case.” Dad nods towards the screen, his law training showing through. At one point Dad thought he was going to be a lawyer, but that was waylaid when he fell in love with Mom. “Now he’ll have several counts of aggravated assault with a deadly Quirk, aggravated assault to authorities, affray with a deadly Quirk, and reckless use of a Quirk and Support Gear while underage and without a license, in addition to evasion of authorities, defacement and destruction of personal and public property, and breach of peace.” He sighed heavily.
“Dad, let’s eat, yeah? And call Mom. She’ll flip out if she finds out later,” Asaya said and then pushed Dad towards the table.
Auntie snapped her fingers to get their attention and then said, Let me do it. I already snacked, so I’ll eat later. I’m expecting the authorities to call to tell us where Thunderclap’s been admitted.
Thanks. Dad’s relief was palpable, no little wonder there. Mom’s temper was well-known in the family though she normally went to the gym to take out her frustrations instead of yelling at them. She hated that aspect of herself, so early on she buried herself in work and let level-headed Dad handle raising them. It was a good arrangement considering their personalities and temperaments, Jiki thought. He did catch himself missing Mom’s presence even if she was tired and prone to curtness when she was around and wasn’t as physically affectionate as Dad. He was sure that his siblings all did.
They sat at the quiet table and ate in pure silence, Denki’s bout of vigilantism running like a taut thread through their usually playful antics because there was no way he was avoiding time in prison.
He worried about how much this would change Denki, how it would change how UA High would look at his application two years from now. Did he even have a chance at Heroics now with a criminal background? He’d never even dreamed—let alone consciously simulate this development with Memory Bank—that his brother would get into this much trouble with the law when Dad was very clear about it. It was a thought Jiki would chew on for several days that only research would appease.
He searched the school’s publicly available records, the public information that he compiled from a variety of sources, and old juvenile delinquency records from twenty years ago. He then cross-checked for errors and then compiled with Memory Bank until a clear picture of Heroes with less than sterling pasts surfaced. Any details he missed were mostly filled in by Hero fanatics on fan forums, but the final results heartened him.
UA High had a history of giving second chances, of holding out a hand to those with less than ideal applications. The one case that stuck out the most was that of Eraserhead, or Aizawa Shouta, the underground Hero who was better known for the Villain takedowns in poorer districts and who shunned any kind of media attention. Briefly, Jiki wondered why he would be the one to help subdue Denki at UA High since the man was better known for his nocturnal habits, and his hunting grounds would normally not take him to the nice area in Mustafu. He filed the question away for later perusal. Perhaps he was simply visiting as an alumni.
Eraserhead had several misdemeanors in his youth related to Quirk use and physical assault, but was still accepted into UA High though it was Gen Ed. He was later transferred to Heroics due to his exemplary performance in the UA Sports Festival that spring, and even though he wasn’t listed in the graduating class of his year or the subsequent ones he was still able to become a Pro Hero that ranked in the top 100.
Jiki rubbed his eyes feeling the information settle into Memory Bank. At least he had good news to tell Denki once he saw him again.