Shou’s first memory that he could place an exact age to happened when he was five.
His room was dark when his eyes snapped open. A bad dream he couldn’t fully recall but still left him trembling in fear. After a few minutes of laying in place, certain a monster was hiding just beyond his sight in the darkened shadows of his room, Shou scrambled out of bed and ran. His feet padded frantically down the hall like something was chasing after him. He creaked open the door of his parents’ bedroom and quickly slide inside, closing the door behind him with a thud.
“Shou?” His mother’s voice sleepily called out from the dark. “Did you have a bad dream?”
Shou’s answer was to climb up onto his parents’ bed.
“Your pops is the most powerful esper in the world,” his father said as he crawled over him and settled in the space between the two. “There’s no reason for you to be afraid.”
Shou soon fell back asleep, secure in the knowledge no nightmare monsters could haunt him while his parents were there.
“Be gentle, Shou,” his mother murmured. He was six years old, and learning how to properly interact with small animals. His mother guided his hand to carefully pet the white and orange hamster. Calm, patience, and gentleness weren’t easy for an excited kid to manage. However, the soft fur and wiggly nose made it worth it the strain.
“I wanna keep him!”
“A pet is a big responsibility. He’ll depend on you to take care of him.”
“I can do it,” he replied with her face all scrunched up in serious determination.
“So you’ll make sure he has food, water, and a clean cage everyday?”
Shou nodded excitedly.
“And you won’t get bored? Once you commit to take care of a pet, to decide you don’t want to anymore would be cruel. A living creature isn’t a toy.”
Shou thought deeply as any young child could before coming to a conclusion. “I’ll take care of him like you and pops take care of me!”
His mother smiled lightly and patted his head. “Okay.”
Shou was seven when his mother left. At the time he didn’t understand why his mother cried while hugging him before leaving the house that morning.
Days later he creaked open his father’s office door and peeked inside. He was on the phone, voice harsh and angry. Shou considered going back to his room; his father didn’t like to be interrupted when he was busy. However, while Shou’s nerves and desire to know clashed into indecision, his father hung up the phone.
“Don’t stand at the door like a halfwit, Shou.” His father turned to look at him with eyes colder than he’d ever seen before. “What do you want?”
Shou stepped just inside, fidgeting with the hem of his sleeve as he looked up at his father. “When’s mom coming home?”
As soon as the words had left his mouth, red seemed to seep across the entire room like that bleeding wall from the horror movie he wasn’t supposed to watch. Then the floor began shaking as if there was an earthquake. Shou stumbled back, falling roughly on his butt. He’d never feared his father’s powers before, his powers were cool and made him like the superheroes on tv. However, in that moment, his father’s expression was unrecognizable: a dark and twisted version of the father he’d known up until that point.
“She’s not coming back.”
Once the shaking came to a still, Shou scrambled to his feet and raced out of his father’s office as if running from a nightmare.
“You want to awaken your psychic powers, don’t you?” His father asked one morning shortly after he turned eight years old.
Shou did and said as much, thrilled by the attention his father was giving him for the first time in what felt like forever. He, like a lamb to the slaughter, followed his father down into the darkest depths of Claw.
He doesn’t remember much after that. Hours, days, longer bleeding together in a blur of agony and terror and begging screams that were ignored.
His powers didn’t even awaken.
At least not until he returned to his room, aching more from the hollow hole inside him than the lingering pain, only to find his hamster dead in its cage. No one had bothered to care for a simple pet while Shou wasn’t able.
Grief, guilt, anger, bitterness all flooded into that hollow before violently bursting. Glass shattered. The light bulb blew. Books, toys, and furniture spun in a vortex with Shou as the eye of the storm.
At age nine, Shou was thrown in the training “hell-pit” for the first time.
He stared down at the cellar hatch with wide eyes and a rapid heartbeat. It would be pointless to cry and plea, he knew that. Still Shou found himself doing it anyway. “Pops, please! I don’t want to go in there!”
“Stop whining. You have the strength to handle a few dozen low level evil spirits.”
Before he could plead again, his father’s red aura covered and lifted him off the ground. The hatch swung open; and, he was unceremoniously dropped down, down into the dark. His left leg skidded on the edge of a concrete stair but he managed to catch himself with his own telekinesis before he could be seriously hurt. Ignoring the sting of pain and wetness of blood dripping down his leg, Shou scrambled blindly back up the staircase until he found the hatch. He banged against it with all his strength, both physical and psychic.
“Pops! Please! Let me out! Please...”
His voice never answered; and, the hatch never budged. It was a refresher on a harsh lesson already engraved in Shou’s mind, a seeping wound reopened so many times he’d lost count.
He then sensed the evil spirits drifting toward him; no doubt drawn to the racket he’d been making. Realizing there was no other choice, he turned to face the pitch black that hid them.
That day Shou learned to turn his psychic aura into light. There would never be any reason to fear the dark again as long as he could create his own light.
At age ten, Shou killed for the first time.
He’d already seen death more times than he cared to think about. The members of Claw were constantly in fighting and one upping each other in hopes of gaining the boss’s recognition after all. Most didn’t know Shou’s direct relation with Claw’s boss, but it didn’t take long before words like “genius” and “prodigy” were being used to describe him. Those words, he quickly learned, only earned him enemies.
There wasn’t much to the event honestly. A sparring match gone too far. Another esper desperate to prove himself better by any means. He remembers the burning in his lungs, the full weight of a teenager pinning him down with hands and telekinesis squeezing his throat. A crazed voice gloating that he was going get rid of Shou once and for all. That he was the best, the prodigy that deserved all the attention.
Shou’s mantra of no one will save you turned into a desperate last ditch gambit. A flash of light so bright it filled the entire training room. Painfully blinded, his attacker lost focus. At that moment Shou lashed out with all the telekinetic force he could muster. When his flash bomb faded and the dust settled, the attacker laid sprawled out with head bent an unnatural angle. He’d been unable to protect himself with a barrier before being slammed into the wall with more than enough force to break a human’s neck.
Shou sat there, gasping and staring blankly at the still warm corpse, until the throbbing burn in his lungs subsided. Then, numbly, he got up and went searching for HQ’s resident healer. Fukuda’s eyes filled to the brim with sorrow when he told him what happened. Shou didn’t get why the healing esper would be sad for him when he was the one to survive the fight.
“When I joined, I didn’t think Claw would be like this…” Fukuda muttered to himself as he reached out to touch the blooming bruises on Shou's neck. Fukuda’s soft, caring touch filled a void inside Shou that he’d forgotten about and made him long for more for the first time since his powers awoke.
Shou met her mother again when he was eleven.
It took a little over a month of secret messages and shifting plans before they were able to work out a time and place. The whole way there his chest felt tight with a flurry of contrasting emotions: anger, sorrow, fear, excitement, hope.
Finally he stood before the door of a run-of-the-mill hotel room, hand raised to knock but hesitating at the last second. However, he didn’t need to as the door quickly opened. Mother and child stared at each other, words briefly failing as they took the sight of the other in for the first time in four years. Then arms flung around Shou, who flinched at the sudden movement before taking a deep breath and willing his body to relax into the embrace.
After a long moment his mother pulled away and stared at him with troubled eyes. “I should have taken you with me when I left.”
Old anger shot through Shou because she should have! However, he swallowed it down like bile. He knew better now how hard it would have been. Between the money and lawyers and overwhelming psychic abilities, it had been next to impossible. And his mother hadn’t known - hadn’t wanted to believe - that her ex-husband would put his own child in harms way.
“It’s not that bad,” he lied.
Though her lips tightened in uncertainty, his mother didn’t press the issue. Instead she put a gentle hand on his shoulder and ushered Shou inside the room. “You’ve grown up so much. Let’s sit down and catch up.”
Shou’s twelfth birthday was similar to the past few: mostly ignored or forgotten. In fact, he had forgotten about it until he’d gotten a phone call from his mother at breakfast and hid away in his room so they could talk. Then, oddly enough, Serizawa must have found out because he had given him a giant Hamtaro plushie. Shou had scoffed at it. No way would he keep a childish gift from a man too delusional to see the reality of his father’s plans.
The rest of his day was normal. He kicked the collective asses of a trainee group after one loud mouth decided he didn’t want advice on using psychic powers from some little kid. A few hours later he snapped a challenge at Shimazaki and got his ass handed to him. He didn’t have any injuries bad enough to need healing; Shimazaki was a sadistic bastard but he respected Touichirou too much to seriously hurt any part of Shou other than his pride. Still Shou used it as an excuse to seek out Fukuda and guilt him into a birthday dinner outside of HQ.
“You’re the only person in Claw I trust,” Shou later said in between bites of restaurant cake. “I’ve been thinking for a while now that my pops needs to be stopped. We can’t depend on the government or some story-like hero to do it for us. So I’m going to be that hero. You in?”