One merit of poetry few persons will deny: it says more and in fewer words than prose.
Very few knew just how good Denki Kaminari was at languages. The boy could speak seven of them after all.
He learned English himself when he was too small to even read proper novels. He was obsessed with American Comic Books, they were so much more exciting than the standard Manga. X-Men comics were certainly his favourites: Mystique was like his sister, and Angel was like his brother, and Storm was like him! Only, Storm was so much cooler wasn’t she?
He learned Italian from his mother. Apparently her father was Italian as she drunkenly rambelled to him once. Denki always was her favourite; their own private language . Toga always hated that… Good thing dad liked her more.
Russian came from his time at the Commision. The main handler Denki had was a Russian lady, small but strong. Denki always hated red lipstick after her.
He taught himself Latin, and Greek, and Spanish in his free time, nothing very exciting there. The Commission encouraged his thirst for more languages in his arsenal.
English was hope. Good Denki!
Italian was private. Great job my darling!
Russian was survival. Khorosho!
Latin was useless. You’re so smart Denki!
Greek was pointless. Amazing Denks!
Spanish was a duty. I’m so jealous of you Denki!
So Denki was smart. He wasn’t always book smart, but he was street smart. He could navigate to anywhere in Japan. Maybe it was strange to his classmates how Denki was always the first person to act as a guide if they needed to find a specific location, but it kept him useful. Denki really needed to be useful.
2767 wasn’t useful to our cause.
2767 was cut off.
You’ll do better 2768.
It was almost unfair how 2A got far more opportunities than 2B. Well, no. It was just plain unfair. But 2A wasn’t complaining. Just another instance of classism that Denki could add to his ever growing ‘why I hate UA’ list.
The best opportunity they had, in Denki’s opinion, was a chance to visit the World Hero Expo. It was a bi-annual convention that was essentially exactly like the Olympics mashed with a comic book convention but with heros instead of athletes or hormonal teens in cosplay.
Not that a hero in training wasn’t exactly like a hormonal teen in cosplay.
Which, by the way, when does a hero stop being in training? Who decided that? How could they go from knowing nothing to knowing everything? Denki hated pressure enough as it was. Maybe that’s why he could never be a hero?
Or, maybe that was just reason twenty-seven on his list. Maybe twenty-one? He was losing track.
Focus! Back to the subject at hand, this year’s World Hero Expo was being hosted in Japan. An honour they say. A chance to prove themselves they say.
Bullshit Denki says. Did that sound a bit like Yoda? He’d been watching far too much Star Wars recently. Though the languages in Star Wars were often stolen from real life dialects and-
Look- point is, Denki didn’t want to go. He’d already been once as a child in England with his brother; the Commission dolling them up in matching costumes and making them do a showing of ‘The Future of Japanese Heros.’ Ironic that 2A called their booth the exact same thing.
He wasn’t ranked high enough to merit being given a time slot to show off or answer questions. It was honestly rather insulting. He got to attend, but was basically told to be quiet and let the real talent shine- Bakugou, Kirishima, Deku, Todoroki, Ochako, Momo, Hitoshi, Iida, even Koda- they were deemed more special than he was.
Why was no one else in his class upset about it? They just congratulated each other like this was some prize to be won. They wished the chosen few good luck and went off to do something more fun. They went to watch the American Heros performances. But Denki decided to stay for Shinsou’s segment. His darling amazing beautiful Hitoshi who would amaze the crowd with his mind control quirk!
Only problem? Scheduling. Of course scheduling would get in the way. And obviously no one in their class spoke Russian like the main organizer’s assistant, who’s translator was across the hall with his boss talking to the real talent- Hawks. Well, Denki did. But why would he get involved? It was just some confusion that had nothing to do with him.
Why should he care that Bakugo looked one step away from murder? Or that Midorya looked close to tears? Or that Kirishima looked so flustered? In all honesty, he could live with those. Those were normal. What got to him was Todoroki flinching as the assistant- a burley retired hero with a physic similar to Endeavour and a temper built from the same cloth- turned to yell at Todoroki.
Words that weren’t even volitie, the tone was just too angry for them. So Denki sighed, kicked off the wall he was leaning on, and approached the quarrelling group.
“Enough,” His voice was colder than usual. The argument hit close to him for reasons he didn’t quite understand. No one paid him any attention, of course they wouldn’t. Nothing was particularly helpful about Kaminari Denki. “Hey! Enough!” A raised voice caught their attention finally. He pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Look- The Russian is trying to say that Shinsou, Todoroki, and Koda have to perform on the other side of the hall. The animals for Koda can’t be in this section and he’d rather have a high attack quirk and a high mental quirk over there too. If you follow me I can take you.” He held up a finger when people tried to ask questions, turning to the frantic assistant to tell him he would handle it in Russian. The assistant, finally hearing something he understood, nodded frantically and ran to do one of his hundreds of other tasks.
And cue questions in five, four, three, two-
“So then, our little brother went all like, assassin mode and said in the most serious voice I have ever heard- ‘enough.’”
Himiko was practically rolling on the floor with laughter at the reenactment from Keigo. Honestly, Denki would have never involved himself if he knew Hawks was paying attention and had a feather tailing him.
Stupid ass overprotective ass brother.
“O-M-G,” Toga exclaimed. “You’re so cute when you try n’ be scary Denks!!”
“I hate this familyyyyy!” Denki then picked up a pillow, and promptly screamed in it.
A flurry of questions were fired off. Questions that Denki easily sidestepped with a level of grace that his sister would have been proud of.
“I only know a bit of Russian! I got really into this soap opera and picked up some conversational sentences.”
“No, I’ve never been here! I just memorized the map so I wouldn’t get lost like usual!”
“Todobroki- don’t be silly, of course I’m not a secret Russian spy!”
“Wow Momo! Do I really not have an accent? I must be a natural!”
“Oh, I’m pretty good at English too but that’s about it, Deku! You have to let me look at my page in your notebook later, k?”
Denki sometimes felt he was broken. Well, he felt that a lot, but this was in terms of his emotional connection with people. He may not understand people’s problems because they all seemed so trivial, but beyond that, he often found it difficult to care even when he did understand. Things that were destroying people’s lives he met with a certain ambiguity.
So maybe languages were so important because it, on a fundamental level, allowed him to understand more. It made him feel less unusual even if from an outside perspective, it made him seem so not normal.
He had a habit of clinging to things others never cared to understand. Shinsou, Luke, Stain, languages, anger, bitterness-
Denki had another secret talent where he could manipulate some of his nerves to get a feeling of- well, nothing. Nothing at all.
It was better than any high a drug could give him. Failed a test? Zap : nothing. Someone grabbed him suddenly? Zap : nothing.
But no matter what electrical current he sent to his brain, he still was still able to understand people. He, himself, may speak gibberish, but he could fully hear the mocking laughter about his overcharged state.
In that case, perhaps his need for more languages was a coping mechanism for the way he couldn’t communicate in those phases. It was terrifying to be trapped in your own head with no way to do anything beyond a thumbs up.
So was it an obligation? Obsession? Escapism? Honestly, Denki could barely remember the days at this point. He was only growing worse and worse. Borrowed time after all. Sometimes he had to invent reasoning to rationalize his own behaviour- like a character in a D&D sesion… God, what would his friends say if he told them he was so broken?
He sometimes lost feeling without zapping himself. Sometimes his eyesight blurred and morphed. Sometimes he couldn’t remember where he was or how he got there. Sometimes the electrical buzz got so loud he felt he would never hear anything else.
Watching his classmates perform was almost dull? Sure they did do what they set out to accomplish, showcasing their unique powers and all, but it wasn’t anything he hadn’t seen before. His boyfriend’s was the only one he cared about, since it showed how far he had come.
There was a time where ‘Toshi would never even consider using his powers on anyone but an opponent. To see him using it on volunteers? Volunteers that applauded him and laughed after that fact? It was… sweet. It almost made Denki reassess his belief that he had a lack of empathy.
The electric one could pass for American. We can take him off your hands.
What if he shorts out the power? Keep a tight leash on him.
Mind your tongue child. Impress everyone always.
Denki froze at that name- said with trepidation from across the hall. He hadn’t been called Bolt in a long long time… it felt like another lifetime, like Todoroki’s ramblings about reincarnation theories. But Denki peeled his eyes away from where they’d wandered to Hawks’ own display across from Shinsou’s- picking up kids with his wings and sending them flying around the space. Surprise, surprise: Hawks was told to come and not Endeavor. Hawks had always been the better people-person, even if he would not admit his soft spot for kids with blond hair.
His own golden eyes met ash grey ones- eyes he only vaguely could remember. His memory was absolute shit on the best of days, especially from before he got that power up that cost him his freedom yet again to the League. It was totes worth it though.
He could recall the girl had a common exotic dancer name. Sapphire? Rose? Candy? Almost everything was better than the horrible ‘Bolt’ moniker. The girl, no, woman, smiled though her eyes showed shock. Most were not taught the art of schooling their emotions like Denki, and then Hawks. They stared in silence for a moment, both being reminded of lives that had already been lived- people they used to be and yet still were.
2768 should not have been spying on his brother, he knew that, he had been trained better, and yet- he was still so young. If people talk about him, he is going to try and listen.
Don’t take this the wrong way Hawks hun, but Bolt is creepy. His eyes specifically.
No he isn’t. He’s just… he shouldn’t b-
Shouldn’t be here? *Sigh* They’re carting me and Cerebral off to England tomorrow. I’ve outlived my use here... You know, one day they’re gonna pick between the three of you. No use for people with attachments ‘round here, especially familial bonds… His quirk is too good for them to waste.
None of us should be here. Everyone knows that. So you have to decide who has to be here. Because they’ll kill your brother the moment he steps out of line, he’s going places- and if they can’t control it, then they’ll end it.
“Sorry my dudette! You’ve got me confused with someone else! I’m-”
“Kaminari Denki.” He was interrupted by another familiar ghost of his past. Denki had forgotten the woman had had a sort of love affair with another of the HPSC trainees- seems they had reunited in their adult times. Freedom really did do wonders for people didn’t it? “Class 2A. Quirk: Electricity. 168cm. Siblings-”
Denki cut the man off with a nervous giggle, checking left and right to ensure they were not being watched. He would never hear the end of it from Hawks if he got figured out then and there. “Oh damn, bro! Have not seen you lot in ages! Not since that party a few years back?” Sero was watching him. That wasn’t bad, he was easy to fool. Easy to manipulate. “Hanata! Mind telling ‘Toshi I went to get coffee with old friends if he comes looking for me? Appreciated! You want me to bring you back your usual? Pog, kay!”
Lying is easy 2768.
Smile to hide any cracks in your words.
As long as you keep talking no one has time to question inconsistencies.
Sound confident and they’ll hang onto the edge of your breath.
He led the group to an empty holding room for demonstrators. Did people really not want to spend the extra money to use locks electrical quirks couldn’t hack? In this day and age? Though, he supposed most would not risk breaking a law at a place like this. How very boring.
The moment they slipped through the door and Denki assured himself there were no cameras or people present- again, the security was so laughable, people really trusted their heroes too much- his smile dropped. His eyes emptied. His voice was cold and clipped. It was almost frightening how easy it was for him to switch back, to revert back, to how he was trained to be… he hardly even remembered that time and yet it felt more natural than his most realistic smiles.
Crystal sighed, hand laced with her partner’s. “B- Kaminari-”
“Quanto sei stupido? You are so lucky that was one of my more foolish classmates or I could be in so much shit right now,” Denki switched his dead eyed gaze back and forth to thoroughly chastise the older, and taller, ex-child hero trainees. “Vous têtes du noeud almost blew my cover. Do you know how hard I have worked on this?”
He wouldn’t deny that it felt thrilling to be able to let loose for once. He could rotate between his arsonal of languages for more colourful insults, he could yell if he wanted! He couldn’t remember a thing he did in his past beyond the odd fact here and there, but he knew he had done things his siblings didn’t have to because of his rather handy quirk. He knew he did not have clean hands. He knew he had never really cared about the concept of life. Was that taken from him too? Hell, he was almost tempted to kill them just for the reminder of what that was like...
He bashed that thought away as quickly as it came. He was not a villain. He was not a hero. He was the middle line. He had to remember not to forget that, no matter what ghost of his past popped up to say hello.
Crystal glanced at Cerbrial, eyes conveying a silent conversation. “Okay. We didn't mean to cause problems or blow your uh, cover? Honestly, I’m just shocked you’re still alive, kid. Cause clearly your brother is. And uh, what was her code? 2767? Anyways, I’m guessing she is considering the news?”
“The odds were 6.76% all three of you would survive,” Cerbrial added very unhelpfully.
“Well, not like you two were meant to survive either. I was pretty sure everyone was dead from back then,” Denki rolled his eyes. “Not that it would make a difference to me. Actually, it would be way easier if you all were dead. Я бы вас послал, да вижу вы оттуда.”
Crystal again locked eyes with her partner, eyes conveying a level of trust that Denki was incapable of producing no matter how much he cared for his own boyfriend. It made him miss something he was unable to have yet. That made him feel something unpleasant. Denki always was prone to jealousy.
“You know kid,” Crystal reached forward to ruffle his hair. “you seem happier. That’s good, real good.” She sighed when he instantly batted her hand away. “Perhaps not happy , but happier.”
“You’re lucky I did not fry a nerve in your hand. The median maybe? No, I find the ulnar is much more painful.” Bolt sneered. “If I recall correctly, I did not enjoy touch then, and I certainly do not now.”
Whatever Crystal was going to say got interrupted by the door opening. In walked Jirou and Kirishima- because of course they did. Jirou was… dangerous for Denki, if she overheard him talking, it could be bad, really really bad.
“See, told you I heard him in here.”Jirou snapped her fingers in front of his face. “Hey, idiot, we’re talking to you.”
There was a brief moment of hesitation before Denki’s smile popped back up on his face. “Huh?”
Kirishima noticed the moment of blank frustration on his no homo best bromo’s face for the half second. Strange. “We’ve been looking all over for you, Sero said you went to get coffee? It’s time to go back to the dorms.” A pause. “Who are your friends?”
“You have friends?” Jirou was astounded.
Denki giggled a bit, easing back into his persona. He could practically hear Cerebral wanting to interject with some logical assessment of the situation. “Aw man, sorry to worry y’all! These are some of my old friends from my hometown.”
“Uh-huh.” The purple head had heard something, she must have. She was being too suspicious. “And why are they shocked you’re alive?”
Okay, that’s not too bad to lie past. As long as the people behind him smile and wave, he can talk his way through it all. “Oh, you heard that? Sorry if that worried you! You know how like, my hometown is all uh, shady and stuff?” She didn’t, but to acknowledge that would be to acknowledge she didn’t know him well, and Jirou was too headstrong for that. And Kiri would be too upset he didn’t know everything about his bro from another mo’ to let slip he didn’t know either. Let them know just enough to want to know more… “So, there were some villain attacks that were really close to me, blew up my school so I got moved to a different one. Guess my fam kinda fell off the radar. I was gonna get coffee but I was close to crying and didn’t wanna be so unmanly around strangers you know?”
Jirou backed down, he could see it in her eyes, and Kirishima’s smile became much less nervous. Mission success. Denki turned around and hugged the two he had just told to not touch him. “You should totes reach out to my brother guys, he’d love to hear from you!”
He wished he could have hissed some great going away threat to the two ghosts of his past that he hardly remembered, but he couldn’t- not with Jirou there. So he settled with a smile and a wave, marching out of the room with his friends. Denki mask firmly in place.
It made him confused though… Denki Kaminari was a mask, of course it was, but was Bolt/2768 not also a mask? Why did they feel so similar to each other despite being so far apart. It clicked in his head- somewhere way back in a place he would reserve to process later- that perhaps he never had once ever been allowed to be himself. Perhaps his languages were only a craft he honed to please others. And, perhaps he was just as weak and submissive as he shamed others for being.