On a chill, 12512 summer evening, Brimmie and Fabrice Shaw learnt that not only were they having a child, but in fact twins ; the news had them cracking up with excitement, cuddled up on their decade-old couch, whispering loudly to one another, imagining and projecting onto their soon to be children.
Even with their limited funds, the perspective of having twins gave them wide, open smiles day in and day out. Were they looking forward to raising a life, two lives together - yes of course, but more than that... not one, but two abilities!
Brimmie and Fabrice had both been hooked to every hero blog and GHH gossip forums under the sun since their youth. Brimmie, who was a remarkable 2 meters and 10 centimetres tall, owned a collection of biographical, GHH heroes comic anthologies taller than herself ; and she could quote the last words of every single hero represented in those strips. And that pile only accounted for official, licensed releases ; as a preteen and teenager, and even occasionally now whenever she found the time, she had crawled through conventions and self-published book shops to amass an inhuman amount of fanworks on her favourite heroes, smaller heroes that hadn’t received any official anthologies, and vigilantes. Her love for the heroes had spread to the artists ; she had her favourites whose writing and style she swore by - and amongst them was Fabrice.
Fabrice Shaw had always been artistically inclined ; but for his first ten or so years, he hadn’t found any particular thing he liked to draw above all else, just sketching and doodling whatever he happened to see or dream up. All had changed over a single sleepover over at a friend’s for their 11th birthday. Fabrice had been the last kid not to fall asleep before the end of the b-movie the grown-ups had put on ; he even stayed awake through the credits, and long enough for the TV channel to move on to its next program ; an old documentary on hero and villain costume designs during the early years of the GHH. That day, everything clicked. The colourful, unorthodox shapes, the weird experimental fabrics and volumes of the golden age, before classic tropes and archetypes had been established. From that day on, Fabrice had fallen in love with the aesthetics and theatrics of heroism, browsing image boards for hours on end, drawing and designing costumes of his own. Once he’d become a teenager and pressed for cash, he had translated that passion to drawing questionable GHH-themed comics based on what was popular online ; and the first person to buy and comment on one of his self-published works was Brimmie.
Though she adored his art, she questioned his writing. Fabrice welcomed the criticism, and over time would come to her to proofread and rewrite his future publications. Her passion for heroism and studies in drama proved useful, and their now collaborative comics grew in quality and popularity. Neither of them were ever able to live from them - but the profits still helped them cut costs and work only part-time elsewhere, even with the occasional conviction for copyright infringement. It was their escape, into some other history where their parents had let them study in hero school too. And in a way, their decision to have children had been made under the same logic. They wanted little hero children of their own ; after taking their obsession out on figurines and posters, kids were the next step.
The Shaws named their newborn boys Brett and Felicio ; tan, mid tone skin marked by freckles and birthmarks, and black, spiked dry hair that just refused to lay down. Nose-deep in their parents' fandom since birth, they both intensely awaited the day they would develop an ability ; the first with starry-eyed excitement, the other with relative apprehension. Their wait continued until they reached six years old.
“Hurry up, Fel! I’m gonna fall asleep!” Brett screamed from atop of the slide from the top of his lungs, throwing various playful comments and taunts at his brother. “Shut up! I’m coming!” Felicio retorted half-heartedly. He didn’t even like that stupid slide anyway. It was way too tall and the ladder hurt his hands. He’d still climb it, but just to get Brett to shut up. He grumbled and pouted all while slowly making his way up, all while his brother continued shouting louder and louder. When he finally reached the top, it was only to realise that Brett was already gone, sticking his tongue out while smirking from down on the ground. Now he was all the way up there for no good reason. Holding in the urge to shed a tear over his hurt pride, Felicio frowned and closed up his hands - he started whining, pointing his finger and shaking his fists in Brett’s direction.
Brett gave out an elongated scream - not another snarky response, but a pained, ear-piercing squeal. Felicio immediately fell silent ; their parents shot to their feet, suddenly turning their attention back to their sons from the park bench they had been sitting on. Brett stood awkwardly still, his arms held up in front of him, halfway through the motion of crossing against his chest, stopped in midair. His toffee skin was now speckled with small, dark burn marks. His hair, cut into a military flat top on a monthly basis, had spiked up in all directions, like a porcupine. Someway, somehow, he’d been electrised.
After just a few seconds, Brett returned to his senses. He looked puzzled more than anything - then, suddenly, his eyes dilated, and enlightened expression stretched across his face as he turned back towards Felicio, opening his mouth again. “Did you do that?
- What? No!
- Yes, you did! You did! You have an ability, Fel!” The boy jumped up and down excitedly as he continued his high pitch chanting, occasionally shivering or hissing from his burns, but happily beaming nonetheless. Fabrice and Brimmie both had to grab his arms to hold Brett in place and keep him from climbing up the slide and hurting himself any more than he already was.
That day had two immediate consequences for the Shaw household. The first, a trip to the hospital that shortly ended with the surprise and relief that Brett was only superficially bruised ; the second, a series of excessive tests and efforts to confirm that Felicio had, indeed, develop the ability to generate and manipulate electrical currents, inadvertently electrifying his brother through the metallic slide. Fabrice and Brimmie had been gung-ho on their “little boys” becoming heroes before ; now, their fixation was able to solidify, and their enthusiasm no longer knew any limits. They spent tireless nights struggling through administrative headaches and exploiting legal loopholes to take Felicio out of public schooling and into a GHH school mid-year ; they bought him more and more unofficial merch and sketched him little make-believe comics about what he might someday be like ; told him about their own past aspirations for heroism and even vigilantism, and how lucky he was to actually have the chance to pursue that path - suffocating him in everything superhero-related and squishing to null any unrelated ambitions he might’ve fancied. Not that Felicio hated the idea of working for the GHH - but had he been given more freedom, it certainly wouldn’t have been his first choice.
As for Brett, he was more hopeful and impatient than ever. He would picture grand stories of himself blowing his brother and parents away with a mere display of his future ability, that he would surely develop any minute now - to which Felicio would scoff, simply to annoy his sibling further. He wasn’t the type to shoot down his enthusiasm, however ; in fact, Felicio would even let Brett take for himself the countless hero-related gifts their parents force on him, and listen to his sibling project himself onto past heroes, picturing himself with their abilities ; Brett with a fire sword, Brett with ice manipulation, Brett with heart bullets. While Felicio passively floated along with the monotony of GHH education and did dear god anything else with his free time (mostly sleeping), Brett went on daydreaming, studying Felicio’s homework and begging him to tell him all about his classmates and teachers - months, years passed, and still he hadn't shown the slightest hint of an ability. Felicio continued to bring home promising grades, while Brett slowly fell by the wayside of his parents' good graces. Perhaps subconsciously ashamed of his ineptitude, perhaps wanting their family to only be associated with a successful career in heroism, or perhaps not seeing the point of a physical school that wasn’t hero related, having always worked from home themselves, they eventually removed Brett from public school entirely, having him follow online schooling instead. Though this took a toll on his general mood and personality, the twin never took it out on Felicio - or at least, if he was jealous, it never showed through ; if anything, the abilitied boy was the one who felt guilty and empathetic, refraining from using his ability in front of his brother.
Brett lived his heroic aspirations through his brother just as much as his parents did ; he would doodle costume ideas, imagine him undertaking this and that important mission, and insisting to a self-conscious Felicio raised on online nihilism that there was absolutely no way he wouldn’t at LEAST rank A. Even then, Brett hadn’t lost hope ; It didn’t matter how long it took for his skills to show through. Everyone knew about the record-holding Dave Pando, better known as the GHH hero Late Bloomer, the man who had developed that ability to accelerate plant growth at the astounding age of twenty-seven years old. Brett would definitely develop an ability too, someday. Someday.