“Ah, don’t worry about it, Denki-chan; even if you did totally bomb the physical examination, the written test was pretty easy, ne?” Tomomi’s harsh words aren’t exactly comforting, though she’s never been good at offering a shoulder in times of need. True to her tough nature, she doesn’t believe in a delicate approach when it comes to most things, the truth especially. As such, you deflate ever more behind the curtain of your changing stall, still standing halfway in your sweatpants. “Besides, it’s not like they can just turn you away! You can shoot fucking lightning from your fingertips! That’s, like, the best!”
Even at her encouragement, you can only huff. “Yeah, but it’s not much use if I can’t even get to the scene on time because I’m out of breath.”
“Oh, please, you can do that cool electric-jump-glide thing,” Tomomi said dismissively, throwing back the curtain in the same instance. You eep, yanking your pants up as quickly as possible despite the fact that your best friend since middle school has seen your underwear more times than you could possibly remember. Or care to. She has a bad habit of walking in on people changing and otherwise unclothed. Perhaps that’s her secret superpower. “Now, hurry up, so we can go grab our results!”
“Has it been an hour already?” you mutter with a sense of dread.
“Yes, so get your butt in gear.” When you continue to hesitate in your little cubicle of shame, Tomomi blows out a large puff of air, causing her bangs to fly up in response. “This is what you’ve been waiting three years for, right? So, what’s the problem?”
You avoid her piercing, lavender gaze, staring pointedly at the messy laces of your running shoes. “Yeah, but…that’s exactly why I’m afraid, Tomo. What if I fail? I chose not to go to college so I could hone my powers and train to become a hero…but what if I’m not even good enough to do that? Then I’ll have wasted an entire year of my life, and all those scholarships I refused —”
Tomomi interrupts you with a load groan. “Oh, my god, how many times do I have to say this before it gets through your thick skull; if they don’t accept you, then who gives a fuck? You don’t need their permission to do hero-y stuff and save people! If that’s what you wanna do, then do it! Maybe you’ll need to get a part-time job to keep yourself afloat, but otherwise, you can do whatever you want, yeah? So, fucking do it, Denki-chan!”
“…stop calling me that,” you grumble, soundly defeated by her gruff logic.
She laughs, grasping you by the wrist and physically hauling you out of the locker room. “I think it suits you perfectly! Or do you want me to call you Sparky instead?”
“I don’t understand why I need a ridiculous nickname in the first place.” You gently remove your arm from her grip to walk beside her, although, Tomomi being the woman she is, it’s more a light jog than a casual stroll. Her long, silver ponytail bounces hypnotically across her shoulders, nearly slapping you in the face when she turns to give you a look. “It just makes me sound silly.”
“Well, I for one think it’s cute! Just like you, Denki-chan!” She pinches your cheek to prove her point. You whine pathetically. “Plus, it may catch on when you become a famous superhero! I can see it now!” She winds an arm around your shoulder, throwing one hand out in a wide arc as if to illustrate the sweeping scene that’s playing out in her head. “The mysterious and sexy Denki-chan saves the day, yet again! She’s so beautiful and mysterious and ultra-cool; everyone’s hearts are going doki-doki for Denki-Denki!”
“Hush up, will you?!” you whisper-yell, shrinking down in embarrassment at her excessive volume.
A few of the others in the hall turn to look at you and your face flares with heat and shame. So much shame. Tomomi merely glares at them, causing them to turn hastily back to their business. She always likes to embarrass you and then defend you from said embarrassment. It’s rather contradictive of her. Probably the effect of many years of protecting you from bullies, but also still fulfilling the role of humiliating older sister. You’re not sure how she manages to multitask so effectively.
In the midst of your musing, you arrive at the gymnasium. The staff has already cleared out the weights and machines by this time, although the damage somehow done to the floors and ceiling are still present. Not much they can do about that at the moment, you suppose. Yourself and Tomomi queue up, watching as the many others ahead of you take their folders, walking off to open them privately. Some, however, open theirs on the spot, and the constant stream of negative responses doesn’t help settle the churning of your stomach. Sensing your anxiety, Tomomi discreetly reaches down and grabs your hand, squeezing it reassuringly. Although she’ll completely deny performing the heartening act later, you smile up at her gratefully, squeezing back.
Finally, after an hour and a half of waiting — which mostly consisted of you watching clips of other superheroes in action and Tomomi gushing about how hot the Blizzard of Hell is — you make it to the front of the line. You stutter out your name to one of the individuals handing out results. He briefly turns and scans through a large box of alphabetically sorted files, then swiftly turns back and hands you a stiff, yellow envelope. Tomomi receives hers in a similar manner, though she has to remove you from the gymnasium forcefully, as you’ve forgotten how your legs work.
Tomomi knows you’ll want privacy when you open your results, so she drags you off to a secluded corner near the rear exit, far from the rest of the superhero hopefuls, all of whom are upset to some degree. Not a very bright outlook. If you’d known that the tests were so difficult to pass, you wouldn’t have even thought about taking it. Your best friend sits you down on a cold, metal bench, whereon you continue to stare blankly at the paper in your hands. After a whole minute passes, Tomomi sighs in aggravation and sits back, ripping open her own folder without hesitation. Your eyes immediately flicker over to her lap.
“Ah, well, this was expected.” She holds up her paper for you to see more clearly. A big ‘F’ emblazons on the front, further, smaller font underneath explaining her obvious failure. “I got a 62 out of 100, though, so it was pretty close.”
“Because you’re smart and athletic. All I have is brains, and very little at that. I probably didn’t even get half of your score….” Realizing your rudeness, you quickly snap out of your own self-loathing and place a hand on her shoulder. “Oh, Tomomi, I’m so sorry! If they picked anyone from our group, I figured it would’ve been you!”
“Why’s that?” she asks, genuinely curious. “I’m not particularly special. Not like you anyway.”
“Well, I guess, but…you’re kind, intelligent, strong, and you’re charismatic, as well. Those are, like, hero essentials! All I’ve got are these….” You nearly say ‘dumb powers,’ but they’d be quite useful in the right hands. Maybe not yours, but someone’s. “You’re just a better fit than me. After all, you’re already my hero.”
In a rare moment of bashfulness, Tomomi blushes. “Yeah, yeah, stop kissing ass and just open your folder. You can mention all that shit in your acceptance speech when you win a Nobel Prize, or whatever.”
You role your eyes at her tsundere tendencies, and they land on the envelope still clutched tightly to your chest, now damp from your clammy hands. Breathing in and out, you lift your index finger, sliding it underneath the lip of the envelope and carefully breaking the seal. The top of the paper inside looks like a stark, deathly white in comparison and you swallow thickly. This is it. The moment of truth. Shaky fingers pinch the top of the parchment, lightly tugging it free of its confines.
For one palpation inducing second, you completely forget how to read. The amalgamation of letters and symbols means nothing to you, then Tomomi screams excitedly and all the breath comes rushing back into your lungs. You didn’t even know you were holding your breath. Vision blurry with tears, you view the large, bolded letter with amazement.
Not only did you make it, but you were good enough to slide all the way into another class. Maybe it was just your powers — which they had you display after reading your profile — or your interview — which you thought went pretty well, as far as job interviews are concerned — whatever it was, you made it. You glance down at your score, surprised at the relatively high number of 90. Guess your powers really do make up for a lot in the way of physical fitness. You wonder if other heroes with non-physical abilities struggle similarly.
The thought comes so naturally to you that you can barely contain your squeal of happiness. Tomomi wraps you up in a hug from the side, grasping you so hard your back cracks several times. You giggle, half-hysterical and half-relieved, embracing her back, tears streaming down your cheeks.
“You did it, Denki-chan! And look at that! Class B! Class B!” She separates herself from you before jumping to her feet with excitement. “Oh, wow! We’re definitely celebrating tonight! Where do you wanna eat? I’ll treat you to anything! Oh, Denki-chan, I’m so happy for you!”
“Thanks, Tomo!” you manage through a blocked throat, still wiping tears from your face. “I’m kind’ve in the mood for sushi, actually….”
Tomomi punches the air definitively. “Then it’s decided! We’re going to Donshūnouo and buying the most expensive thing on the menu!”
You raise an eyebrow at her, smiling and laughing and a crying mess. “The most expensive sushi is 225,000 yen.”
“…okay, something still expensive, but more realistic.”
The loudspeaker interrupts your celebratory plans as the announcer vocalizes your name, followed by the names of two others whom you don’t recognize. Wow. It’s surprising to think that out of eleven-thousand entries, only three made it through. And you’re one of them. You gleefully squeal to yourself, clenching your fists and bouncing in your seat. Were it not for Tomomi’s sharp hearing, you would’ve missed the command to meet in some room for a debriefing. Composing yourself as best you can — lamenting over your now puffy eyes — you stand proudly and begin walking off in the direction instructed.
When you don’t hear Tomomi’s footsteps trotting along beside, you glance back, seeing her standing exactly where you left her. She raises a hand in a wave. “I’ll meet you right here when you’re done, alright?”
You stop and turn around completely. “You’re not coming?”
“Nah, this is your time to shine, Denki-chan. Plus, meetings are boring,” she says with a faux-yawn. Showily stretching her arms, she settles back onto the bench, folding the appendages behind her head and closing her eyes. “I can barely handle them at work, much less when they’re about boring hero stuff. That’s your expertise.”
Smiling at your roundabout way of encourage your independence, you laugh disbelievingly. “Okay, I’ll see you in a bit. And don’t forget about that sushi! You promised!”
“Yeah, yeah, I hear ya.”
With that, you head off to the designated lecture hall. The examination center is large, imposing, and confusing, but with the aid of a couple maps and a helpful janitor, you soon find yourself standing outside the door, apprehensively fiddling with the hem of your t-shirt. Voices echo out from inside, one sounding angry, another sounding bored, and the other sounding quite serious. Shit, maybe the meeting’s already started! You can’t very well go in now! How embarrassing! Surely all the other heroes will think you irresponsible! Well, it’d be even more irresponsible not to show at all, you suppose.
Steeling your nerves, you grasp the handle and slide the door open. Three pairs of eyes land on you and you immediately feel like running away. “U-Um…I’m sorry, this is Lecture Hall 6, right?”
“Yes, you’ve arrived just in time,” the man at the head of the room states. You breathe a sigh of relief and step inside the room, closing the entrance behind you. “Take a seat so we can start.”
Glancing over at your fellow rookies, you wonder where exactly you should sit. Would it be too presumptuous of you to sit next to them? But if you sat too far away, they might think you unfriendly. Then again, it may be rude to just approach someone without even knowing their names…. Thankfully, the lecturer swoops in to save the day.
“Ah, yes. You two already know each other, so I almost forgot.” He introduces you by name and you bow politely to the two at the table, whom he gestures to as he names. “This is Genos and Saitama.”
Hesitating slightly at the lack of formalities, you offer your niceties to the men. “It’s good to meet you, Genos-san, Saitama-san.”
“You, as well,” the blonde one returns civilly, his cybernetic body clinking softly as he dips his head.
Saitama merely nods in your direction with a casual, “Ditto.”
How strange. However odd, you figure yourself familiar enough to take the seat next to the cyborg, folding yourself up as small as possible. The lecturer begins his speech and you belatedly realize that he forgot to introduce himself. Ah, well. You’re sure he’s some kind of hero that you’ll hear about eventually.
“Let me first congratulate you all on passing the exam,” the man starts and you smile demurely at his praise, peering excitedly down at the envelope in your lap. Loud, open-mouth chewing ruins the moment quickly, however, from your left. Peeking out of your peripherals, you can see Saitama splayed haphazardly over his seat, arm hooked over the back of the chair, with a large wad of bubble gum hanging halfway out of his mouth. Not very professional, but no one’s really saying anything about it. Plus, Genos looks very scary with his arms crossed and gaze pointedly fixed forward. You keep quiet. The lecturer isn’t as easy to pacify, as the noise clearly annoys him. “Though it was more of a lucky fluke for one of you…. You better not waste that luck of yours and start working hard.”
You shrink into your seat even further, knowing he’s not talking about you, but feeling slightly victimized anyway. Geno’s dark eyes cut down to you at the movement and you jump, sweating slightly under his heavy gaze. Focusing on the base of the podium ahead of you, you block out all other sounds while attempting to ignore the cyborg’s analyzing stare boring holes into your head.
After what feels like a millennia, he eventually turns away when Saitama pops a bubble so big it encapsulates his entire face. By this time, the lecturer has taken to standing atop the podium, though how he got there is a mystery to you. Genos offers a handkerchief to his friend to help rid of the sticky substance, while the lecturer hops down from the podium, gripping it tightly and looking even angrier than before. Oh, great, you haven’t even started yet and someone already hates you! Damn it!
“Now listen carefully!” he says, clearly restraining his true anger. “As a Class A superhero, I have some influence over the decisions of the Hero Association. If I see a superhero not acting like a superhero should, I will personally make sure they lose points and ranks accordingly!”
Heat creeps up your neck at his rage and you feel slightly embarrassed for your fellow hero, even if Saitama doesn’t appear bothered in the least. He’s not really done anything bad, just a bit rude. This lecturer just doesn’t like Saitama’s ignorance of his position. Probably really prides himself on his rank. Yet, if they were to ask you, someone of great importance wouldn’t be debriefing newbies.... You don’t voice your thoughts, for obvious reasons.
A few minutes of yelling and all over unhelpfulness later, the lecturer dismisses your group and, being closest to the door, you leave first. The two men follow along behind you, which absolutely mortifies you because what if you walk funny? What if they stare at you lewdly? What if the back of your pants are somehow caught in your underwear and now your panties are on display for all to see? That’s practically impossible, of course, but what if?
By the time you reach the main lobby, you’re calm enough that you can actually hear the conversation they’re having. Something about getting something to eat, preparing dinner or something. You wonder if they live together. Friends? Family? …Lovers? You heard Genos call Saitama “sensei” several times, so perhaps they’re living together for training purposes. Whatever the case, Tomomi rises to greet you the moment you approach. She, of course, notices the two trailing along behind you and a sly smile spreads across her face. You panic internally.
Oh, you know that smile. She’s about to do something embarrassing to you, isn’t she?
“Denki-chan~!” she squeals as girlishly as possible. Already, you want a vortex to open beneath you and eject you into the cold, clammy hands of death. Tomomi runs up to you and lifts you in her arms, swinging you around like a doll. “How was the meeting, lil sis? Did you behave? Oh, who’s this?” She suddenly pretends to notice the two men, subtly stepping in their way so they can’t merely ignore her. “Friends of yours?”
“Uh…,” you stutter intelligently, turning to the others, who don’t try to step around and actually look somewhat intrigued. Damn it! You were hoping they’d just leave. Well, half-hoping, anyway. The other half of you is elated that they’re even slightly interested in your personal life. “Th-this is Genos-san and Saitama-san. They’re heroes, too.”
“Ah, how cool! It’s nice to meet you!” She thrusts out a hand in greeting, practically forcing them to accept the gesture. “I’m Yamauchi Tomomi, Denki-chan’s best friend!”
You whack her on the arm as violently as you dare in public. “Stop calling me that!”
“Ahaha, always the kidder, this one!” Tomomi pulls you into a headlock, rubbing your head with her knuckles. You try to escape her clutches, but she wasn’t the captain of the wrestling team in high school for nothing. “Anyway, have you guys had dinner yet?” Obviously not. They’ve been testing all day, same as you. “We’re going to get sushi and I’m buying! Wanna come?”
Saitama agrees without hesitation, the appeal of free food apparently too much to deny, no matter how annoying Tomomi is. Genos agrees, as well, though you suspect only because Saitama’s going. Plus, it would be a good time for him to determine how much of a threat you are to his own ranking; you probably shouldn’t tell him you’re in already in Class B….
Tomomi releases you from the crook of her arm when they agree, throwing her fists in the air. “Yosh! Let’s eat!”
This is already a disaster in the making.
You just wanna go home.