I’ve been really loving “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning” by We Were Promised Jetpacks and “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons lately. I feel like there’s a thematic link there (obvious in the song titles), but the songs themselves are quite different. Do you think you can do anything with them (together) as a prompt?

I love both of these songs, lionheadbookends! I never really thought to compare them even though, as you said, their titles are similar. I suppose it’s because of when I encountered the songs (years apart, that is) and again, as you said, the feel of them is quite different; but I’ve given them both another listen with the lyrics in mind and I think I’ve got the link.

Thunder by Imagine Dragons is more easily understood as a song–not that simplicity of meaning makes it less musically entertaining–but as a piece of literature it’s fairly straightforward. An age old story of a kid from a (small) town who doesn’t quite fit, who is going to leave and make it big even though no one really believes in them. It’s almost the same idea behind a hero’s  journey–an internal call to action that differentiates the protagonist from the others in their hometown who are satisfied to stay behind.

In Thunder, it’s the vocalist vs the rest of his town/the world, but in a way it’s also the vocalist vs his own determination–can he keep going and achieve his dreams despite all the negativity trying to bring him down.

It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning by We Were Promised Jetpacks is more difficult to parse. Frankly, I’m still not sure how many people are involved in the story. There’s definitely at least two people: the vocalist and whoever the vocalist is going to guide home. That person is probably also the person whose body was black and blue. But there is probably a third person who is threatening to punch out the vocalists lights.

So as a narrative, this song might be about two teenagers dating and one of them has an abusive parent. Unless it really is just about two people in a rather disastrous relationship. But regardless it’s not really about the story so much as it is about the feeling: there’s chaos and violence and fear and at some point the vocalist decides to leave not out of an actual desire to do so but out of necessity, out of survival and desperation. And on top of that, the vocalist is not entirely sure if outside is more dangerous–it’s night and there’s a storm, no guarantee of safety, but at least it’s not where he is now about to get beaten. Bleak, yes, in comparison to Thunder which is uplifting.

In Thunder, the thunder and lightning is a good thing–a goal to be reached, to become so great that you change the sky, everyone looks up to see you, everyone listens; no one can beat you down. In It’s Thunder and Lightning, the thunder and lightning is neutral–force of nature which the vocalist decides is a better fate than the closer, human violence.

Ultimately what connects these songs, besides their titles, is the theme of leaving a toxic place–maybe to follow one’s dream towards a bright future, or maybe just to escape, braving the unknown to get away from the known danger. Moving on to bigger if not necessarily better things because to stay is to stagnate, be victimized, and die.

But you’re not here for an essay analyzing these two songs, you’re here for what I can make from the analysis as a prompt.

Frankly, lionheadbookends, whenever I see lightning (or thunder) my brain immediately goes to Tetsuki because she’s… well, she’s it for me. Maybe also Kiyoshi Utsugi–who has Lightning natured chakra as well–but given her specific circumstances it’s hard to apply prompts as easily to her.

Tetsuki is my go to OC–my everywoman, if you will–and this prompt could not be more suited to her. But it’s a very different side to her than I normally explore because it’s, well, less fun?

For me and for her, I think.

Because except for her “first life” that is, Trailblazers in KHR, Tetsuki doesn’t really have a toxic home life either because a) her families are kind if not loving or b) she has no home/family.

In her first life, Tetsuki’s parents were neglectful if not outrightly emotionally abusive. They might have possibly also been physically abusive earlier on–leading to Ryohei and Tetsuki taking up martial arts–but nothing that continued for long.

Were I to ever write Trailblazers properly, there would be a scene where, for the first time since the mafia madness started, Tetsuki’s parents came home (they travel a lot, mostly, hardly ever in Namimori which is why she can get away with so much but also where the neglect comes from) and suddenly the badass, cool senpai who will throw herself into this world of Flames and danger is just a teenaged girl who trembles whenever her parents raise their voices.

There would then be a point where–primarily the Sasagawas, but also the rest of the Family–remind her that she isn’t what they say she is, that she’s more than just a burden or an incompetent or whatever they say of her. And she leaves, probably to live with the Sasagawas properly (whose parents have always been quietly preparing for this day, pretty much have everything but the paperwork done to make her their third child) or, depending on the timeline, to a full-time member of Vongola.

So while it’s similar to the prompt idea, unfortunately, that’s not quite enough.

For this prompt I would probably go with a Viridescent–though I’m not yet sure what fandom would best house this particular episode–in which Tetsuki has the memories of her previous lives but none of the powers.

Which isn’t a combination I’ve yet done, I think. I’ve done powers and memories (Externality, Multiphenomenal, the Power Rangers Viridescent). I’ve done limited powers and limited memories (Iron Will). I’ve done powers but no memories (Deuteranomaly). But I haven’t done no power with memories.

I think I might have tried something like that previously in Big Hero 6 but I’ve put myself off of that fandom, unfortunately, and it wasn’t very good to begin with…

Because here’s the thing. In a new world where she has the memories but none of the powers, then that really brings the validity of the memories into question. If she could just randomly manifest lightning in her hand, that’s close enough to proof for the rest of the odd things in her life. But if she only has the memories and no way to prove it than what is inside her own mind, then there’s no way to tell if maybe it’s all just a delusion.

… which perhaps means it’s an Inception fic?

Hrm… but unless she encounters the characters, there’s not much point in her being in Inception given that it’s basically “the real world” but with mental espionage. And considering that, the memories themselves would give her powers as related to everyone else because she would have the best security ever if not also thorough forges or intricately physics-breaking architecture.

Ah, shit, that actually sounds pretty cool though.

So perhaps the fill to your prompt would be the “prologue” to this Inception Viridescent: like, Tetsuki is born in a “normal world” to awful parents who are, perhaps, so similar to her original, awful parents that it puts the rest of her memories into doubt. Maybe there never were any reincarnations or any fantastic powers, maybe it was just a desperate, over imaginative dream of a girl in a terrible situation.

Maybe she tries to run, tries to go to Namimori only to find it doesn’t exist. Maybe her grandmother was actually named Hisae Kaiza, but she passed long ago and certainly wasn’t a calligraphy/magic teacher. Gotham may very well exist, but there’s nothing on the level of the superheroes she knows (Nolan’verse Batman might very well be a real thing, given all of it is ~science~ and, possibly, Ra’s al Ghul’s “immortality” is him doing a pre-PASIV mind restructuring such that his consciousness gets passed onto a newer, younger body).

As far as she can find, none of her memories are real, and yet… she’d rather try to scrape out an existence out there, which may never be as good as the lives she remembers, than go back home which she knows for certain is worse.

And then maybe it gets worse. Maybe she is snatched–this is an awful world, but a lone teenage runaway who thinks she’s more powerful than she actually is will not survive long–and gets experimented on (there’s a new technology and different countries/companies are eager to be the first ones to crack it). She’s a fascinating subject, but hard to break, and so  they get her addicted to Somnacin thinking that will let them control her.

Maybe she escapes anyway, learns of extraction (and inception), of weaponizing dreaming and imagination, and turns her weakness into her strength.

I’m not saying she eventually ends up as Saito’s on-call secret keeper (extractors learn to fear the shadow of this mogul, the one whose mind can’t be broken into) but that is one way of getting her to interact with the characters. Maybe instead of him being “the tourist” it’s her.

Or maybe she’s just another professional dreamer in the world of Inception, dreaming of worlds and lives that probably don’t exist.

~

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