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Thunder In the Round

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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!”

“Osteoporosis?”

“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.

“Ow—ey!”

“Watch it!”

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?”

“Mm.”

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.

“Yo, Kakkun—”

“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?