By definition, it was someone who saved people while getting nothing in return. A knight in shining armor, who was ready to sacrifice himself as long as the people who look up at him stayed safe. A role model, a revered leader whose words were poems of wisdom, the man who could flip the world and make a change: A hero.
Many years ago, a newborn baby, right out of the womb had manifested a quirk. A known story, which was no longer surprising anyone, as for eighty percent of the world’s population now had a quirk of their own. It could be the simplest superpower, but it was still supernatural and made you feel special.
A long dream of humanity came true in a blink of an eye, and now there were so many people running wild in the streets and calling themselves heroes that it was hard to count exactly how many of them.
Thus, why was it that the definition was no longer relevant?
Usually, kids who dreamed about changing the world were laughed at. They told surreal stories, making words turn into nonsense with their mouths and innocent frames of minds. They received a warm smile, and responded: “I’m sure you’ll be a great hero!”; the phrase could be formed in more than one way. You could play with the words and adjust them however you’d like. This was how young souls began their journey into the heroic trap.
After all, it was easy to spread lies.
It was even easier to pledge empty promises.
Not that it was someone’s fault, per se. It took more than one man to devastate the purest essence and turn it into an industry of horrors and illusions. Of empty fame and buffed ego. Just one big circus show of manipulation, wasn’t it ironic?
Honestly speaking, Denki really couldn't say anything, he was one of them. One of the zombies that fell into the trap of the glorified heroic world, blinded by the money and fame it promised to bring you if you dared to step in.
And if you had some ties and relations. Perhaps some spare money to spend, you might just make it.
The moral was: Don’t dream of being a hero, kids. Unless you were rich, had diplomatic or economic ties with influencers or powerful people in the hero industry. Because your skills didn’t matter how well trained you were, it wouldn’t lead you anywhere. Nothing but favoritism could turn a man into a hero. Most of the successful heroes were rather rich from wealthy families, or people who became friends with rich and wealthy people and found themselves part of them.
Of course, there would always be that one lucky bastard, but he was one in millions. Do that math yourself.
The legend of All Might was just an example of the said lucky bastard. He was well trained, he was doing his job (or at least did) with full heart and passion, making people follow him because of who he truly was but - but it was one in a million people. He was one of a kind.
And you know? When a dumbass failure like Denki concluded this, probably there was something wrong and rotten in this. After all, it was Kaminari Denki we’re speaking about.
The sound was something that could be described as that: a ‘swoop’ sound and then a dull pop, as a few drops of yellow liquid poured on his bare shoulder. The drops didn’t hesitate before they began to trickle down slowly, threatening to slide off his shoulder completely, but they were stopped by the sharp movement of a handkerchief on his skin, a sterile towel actually, which sent a sharp arrow of pain up his spine.
Denki breathed in.
“And...Done.” a pat on his shoulder. Denki lifted his eyes to look at the woman standing above him, who was smiling innocently at him. As if she didn’t just inject a drug into his body. As if she hadn’t been doing it for the past year and a half.
Her pink dreadlocks fell on her shoulders and yellow, eerie eyes were digging into his own. Denki looked away with more force than he needed to. “What’re the results?” he simply asked.
“Results,” she murmured as she wiped her hand. “Is that all you care about, Kaminari?”
He decided not to answer.
“Well,” is all left for her to say after being rejected of a response, “Fine. I found nothing,” she shrugged.
Kaminari shot her a look, his eyes narrowed a bit. “But-”
“I think that you’ve been skipping your daily dose, haven’t you?”
Denki recalled the past few days. “No, I haven't.”
“Hm,” Dr. Hatsume hummed and spun on her chair, to face the computer screen in front of her. “Then maybe we should change your meds again, but I'm afraid that it’ll make you need to come here more than once in a month.”
“How much more?”
“Once a week?”
Kaminari swallowed. “Nevermind then,” he didn’t want to visit this place more than necessary.
Mei eyed him from the corner of her eyes, licking her plump, red lips. They stared at each other in silence for a few moments, when then Denki stood up and reached to grab his shirt.
“Are you alright to leave?” she asked, it sounded like a whine.
“Yeah,” he answered shortly, coldly, not wanting to open an unwanted conversation. She clicked her tongue. "You used to talk more," she noted innocently, causing Denki’s shoulder to tense a bit, despite his mind being all but a blurry, dazed mess. He shrugged, unable to wreck his mind for a better answer. “I can’t blame you, you poor thing-”
“And whose fault is that?” he retorted, not thinking. Mei snickered.
“I’m doing this because-”
“I know,” he cut her, “Gotta go.”
He felt a little childish when he didn’t respond to her goodbye and slammed the door behind him. It was his way of showing discomfort and maybe a bit of a grudge he had been carrying around for the past year and a half.
Kaminari shoved his hands into the pockets of his purple hoodie and sniffled, trying to avoid all the curious eyes shot at his direction as he passed the white halls of The Institute for Gadgets and Support Items, or shortly I.G.S.I - the one of a kind institute with the best professors, doctors, and scientists, that made machines come to live. It was a special place, specialized for inventors to create support items for heroes, and the place was fancy and huge by all means.
The opening ceremony had been five years ago, and since then the institute seemed to only get bigger, fancier and gather more passionate scientists. It was open for the whole day and night, and if you managed to work there - congratulations, no more worrying about money. The salary there was crazy.
Denki was almost jealous. He wasn’t surprised that some of them earned more than the world’s best pro heros.
He stepped outside and breathed the cool air of mid-October into his lungs. After a few moments of standing like an idiot, Kaminari began to walk down the street. It was noon, and the people were flooding the streets from the right and left. Everything seemed to be so peaceful, calm.
Kaminari rummaged through his pockets with trembling fingers for his earphones, trying to take control over his hand with all his might. It seemed that the effect of the drug had begun to start, and he was better to get home before his brain went blank for at least an hour. After realizing that he couldn’t grab his earphones he cursed under his breath, inhaling slowly to calm down. His hand stayed in the pocket.
“Hey, isn’t that Chargebolt?”
The phrase cut Denki’s ears like a sharp arrow, making the color fade his face for a single moment.
“Yeah, that’s him.”
“Can you even call him Chargebolt anymore? I mean, he retired more than a year ago.”
Whispers all over Kaminari’s head. He shook them off, trying again to grab onto his earphones. He didn’t want to hear it. It had nothing to do with him. Why did they even need to discuss it as they were passing him? Why did people keep doing this every time?
“He changed so much, God.”
It wasn’t him who changed, it was the world that had changed for him.
Denki speeded his walk, and as he went farther from the group of people, the walk turned itself into a run. And soon enough he found himself running. Lungs were burning, sweat gathering on his forehead as his throat dried out and his heart beats increased. He made a sharp turn from an alley, wanting to reach his street as soon as possible - when suddenly something exploded from behind.
Instinctually, Denki turned his head back. A few meters away, a window of the bank was smashed and smoke rose from the building. Some screams, that sounded as though they were staged, echoed in his ears. It felt that the people were screaming just to make the feeling that something supernatural and special was happening. As if they were actors. Waves of them were running to the sides, escaping, as the face of some random villain appeared out of the smoke.
He knew the villain wasn’t looking at him. He knew that he was too far away to even be seen by him - but he still felt his eyes piercing his flesh, judging his body. His legs felt numb, and his mouth was dry. It was suddenly hard to breathe because the instinct to dart forward and fight the evil was just so strong-
But he stood. He didn’t move. There was no need - soon enough a hero would show up and do his job. And he wasn’t wrong, because a moment later the crowd started screaming.
“Deku! Deku is here, we’re saved!”
The green haired hero was indeed here. He appeared on the top of another building and leapt down, hitting the villains in the face with his fist: “Detroit Smash!” he screamed in his usual high pitched voice that refused to change since high school. It was funny because he was a buff guy, a pro-hero of fame and glory. The new Symbol of Peace.
Kaminari's breathing stabilized, as he heard a few more strikes from inside and Deku turned toward the people. He raised his hand and smiled broadly, showing that there was no more threat. That this villain was no effort for him at all. The people around him cheered, they screamed, they adored and worshiped him. Kaminari couldn’t deny the fact that once he also adored his heroes. All Might, for example.
After a short check that nothing was going to pop up and destroy the moment of victory, Kaminari decided to go away before the press would appear, followed by the police and eager fans. He owed Deku for taking away their attention, so he could slip into his apartment building safely, with no need to face the whispers about him anymore.
Denki managed to get to his apartment without many obstacles, only his body that tried to shut down before he hit the bed. But he was used to this, thus he made his way home safely. It was impossible to open the lock when his hand was trembling like crazy, but somehow he managed anyway and pushed the door open with his body.
His apartment was nothing fancy: a living room, a kitchen and a bedroom. It was quite small, something he could finance with the little money he had from his current job, and that wasn’t beyond what he needed. Gray walls, plain boring, cold floor. The furniture was mostly old stuff from outlets, so he didn’t spend a lot of money on it. Sometimes he didn’t understand how he had the amount of money to keep him under a roof.
His medication was what took most of his money. All the reassuring promises of Insurance companies, who promised discounts and subsidies were discovered to be sweet nothings. He learned that the hard way, for a year and a half by now. He saw nothing wrong with them earning money on him, but he wished he could skip that stage when he realized that his life was already ruined and scattered into pieces.
He kicked his shoes and dashed toward his bed before he collapsed on the floor. He felt his energy drained more and more, and when he finally managed to enter his room - his body hit the mattress and everything went black and dark.