Volume 15!

"Troy … If you could just … maybe not … "

Turning his head from side to side, Levi scrunched his face as Troy continued to shower him with kisses like an overeager puppy. Levi held his hand up to block the assault, only to have Troy grab Levi's wrist, and press a kiss against his palm.

"You're not mad—" Another gentle kiss on Levi's cheek, and then one in between his eyes, "—are you?"

Levi gritted his teeth, and slapped his hand against Troy's forehead, shoving him away. He blanched when Troy suddenly grinned down at him, a spark twinkling in those crystal blue eyes. "That hero strength is something else, isn't it?" Troy asked, laughing, "Maybe I should be worried that you can beat me up now?"

With a sharp 'tsk', Levi kneed Troy in the gut, and hastily crab-walked out from under him, scooching up the sand of the lake shore until he had put several feet of distance between them. Troy watched him, sitting back on his haunches with a sigh.

"You … " Levi said, his voice tight. He was still breathing heavily, his throat dry and hurting.

Everything about Troy was hateful to him in that moment— his steady presence, the water glistening on his perfect, golden tresses, and the way his costume clung to every rippling muscle like a second skin. The most hateful part of all was the way Troy was looking at Levi, all that warmth and compassion. Disgusting compassion.

Levi looked to the side, his shoulders rigid. He was still lying there, propped up on his elbows as his chest caved. Glancing down at his own body, he took in the ripped, muddied spandex, his lip curling up. After a moment, a sharp laugh escaped his lips. "This explains why you were always following me."

" … What?" Troy replied, his tone slightly apprehensive.

Pointing at Troy, Levi narrowed his eyes with a languid smile. "You didn't tell me you were Triton," he said, "You thought I would forget the time you followed me home?"

Troy blinked. "Oh," he said lamely, looking down at his outfit, "Right."

Levi shrugged, his expression smoothing out as his eyes wandered to the now quiet training arena. Tiring. This was tiring. He wanted his brother, wanted Kraken to tell him what to do. "So," he said, his voice distant, "You were testing me." His gaze slid over to Triton. "And if I had been killed?"

Troy smirked at him. "Like I would have let that happen," he said, moving one knee forward slowly, shifting towards Levi. "All I want to do is protect you," he said, lifting the other knee forward. He had his hands raised, palms forward.

Levi found himself staring at Triton's cautious movements with narrowing eyes. "I refuse."

Blinking, Troy stopped. "You … refuse?" he said, with a quirk of his eyebrow. "You refuse my protection?" A small smile was playing on his lips.

"I don't need it," Levi replied with a low drawl.

There was a pause, Troy considering Levi with a quiet gaze. "Careful, Levi," he said, crossing his well-defined arms, "At some point, you will regret saying that."

Levi snorted, but felt a tide of worry anyway. The line had sounded unnatural in Troy's mouth, but his eyes were serious and unwavering as he watched Levi, and somehow Levi found himself fidgeting under the silent gaze. "Will I?" Levi said finally, making eye contact with Troy, "You can say that with so much certainty?"

Cocking his head, Troy smiled at Levi, his eyes warm behind his mask. "Am I the worst thing that ever happened to you?"

Levi sat up more. "What— "

"Gentlemen."

Both Troy and Levi froze, and then looked up at the platform. Volt was there, leaning over the railing, and grinning down at them. "What's with the cold front, eh, boys?" he said, "I thought you two were lovebirds, not mortal enemies."

"We're neither," Levi hissed, scrambling to his feet, and turning his shoulder away from Troy.

"Hey, now," Volt replied, "Don't be angry, Levi. We had to do it. You don't know how hard it is to trust someone in this game."

Levi almost found himself swayed by Volt's easy-going tone, but then realized that was the point, and scowled. He heard a chuckle from above him, and looked up with his teeth bared. "Is this in some way amusing to you?" he yelled, "Perhaps you should send out another robot, and I can be bashed around some more purely for your entertainment."

"No need to be snipey—" Volt began to respond, and then stopped. A curious expression passed over his face. "Well, anyway," he said after quick pause, "All is good now, you proved to be completely inept! Isn't that wonderful?"

"Wonderful?" Levi said, his hands balling into fists.

"Yes," Volt said back with a wink, "Only a former human could be so useless."

He burst out laughing, his head tilted back, and Levi considered lunging up there and strangling the obnoxious, arrogant prick. How pleasing it would be to bring Volt's bloated, rotting head back to Kraken as a gift. Levi licked his lips at the thought.

"Levi?"

Turning his head, he saw Troy staring at him with a small frown. "What?" he asked, smirking.

"Your teeth … " Troy replied, tilting his head slightly.

Levi quickly swung his head around, and shut his mouth. Sliding his tongue along his teeth, he inwardly cursed his sudden lack of control. They were razor sharp, pointed and menacing. Calming himself, he looked back at Troy. "That was weird," he said with a forced chuckle. Troy smiled back apprehensively, one eyebrow raised.

"Children … " came Volt's singsong voice, "I wasn't joking, let's get this show on the road. Happy faces! Levi, you should get cleaned up."

Levi looked back up. "For what?"

"For what?" Volt replied with a large grin, "For your welcoming party, of course!"

''''

Levi sat in a corner.

It was the least they— all of these clowns, could do for him. Leave him alone, let him brood. Let him hate everyone, everything, every single little atom on the planet because here he, Leviathan the supervillain, was … at what was basically the equivalent to a Superhero mixer.

Not that they knew he was Leviathan, or anything, but they did know he was Levi Mender, the unsociable bookseller, which was good enough. He brought a bottle of beer to his lips, and chugged, savoring the harsh, wheaty taste.

The party was in some sort of dining hall, which was just as pristine and white as the rest of HQ. There were heroes just … literally everywhere, and they were all wearing their costumes. If Levi was one to suffer anxiety attacks, then this party would have been the mother of all triggers. There were mythical heroes, aliens, and genetic experiments traipsing around, dancing to dubstep, and getting smashed.

It was horrifying.

"Hunching isn't good for your spine."

Levi turned to snarl at whoever dared— realized it was Dee, and immediately pulled himself back. She smiled knowingly at him. "May I join you?"

Straightening his back with a cough, Levi nodded, and patted the spot next to him on the bench he was sitting on. Dee sat, smoothed out her skirt, and leaned in to speak in Levi's ear. "Don't feel too obligated to stay," she said, "They just like to have excuses to party."

Levi already felt himself relax slightly. "That's a relief," he replied. He turned to look at her. "You were trying to warn me before, weren't you?"

"Well," Dee said, "Not really. I felt bad, but I saw the prudence in making sure you weren't an imposter of some sort."

Frowning, Levi looked back out at the party. After a second, he took another chug of his beer. He hissed with pleasure at the alcohol burning his throat. "I thought heroes were supposed to be more … " he trailed off, tilting his head back against the wall, looking at Dee from the corner of his eye.

A small smile was playing on her lips. "Naive?" she said, without looking at him.

He felt his jaw clench. He looked down at his fingernails. "I guess."

"Levi," she said, "I can't imagine how you must feel right now, but when we met before, you struck me as someone with a lot of self-possession. Somehow, I don't think being thrown into the training arena was that traumatic." She finally tilted her head at him. "So don't take it out on Troy for too long. He's feeling pretty horrible about it right now."

"I didn't ask for this," Levi replied, his voice tight, "and I didn't sign up to be a pet owner. That puppy can go find someone else to whimper at."

Dee laughed— a light, breathy, pleasant sound. "Puppy?" she said, "That's how you think of him?"

Shrugging, Levi took a small sip of beer, his eyes roving over the party.

"Levi," Dee said, talking a little slowly, "Troy … Triton … he's the best we've seen in years. He aced the training courses within months. He's on par with Volt, he could really be the one to replace Volt's … " Trailing off, her voice dropped off as Levi continued to stare at the crowd with hard eyes.

"So?" Levi said, his voice cracking only a little bit.

Triton was what? The best? That clown? Levi wanted to burst into hysterical laughter, but he didn't because he could hear the seriousness in Dee's voice, and suddenly he was wondering what the hell he had gotten himself into. What he had gotten Kraken into. Troy wanted to date Levi, thought Levi was a hero … shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.

He should be salivating at the idea of pulling some epic romantic betrayal, but shit. He didn't want to be killed. Not by that punk.

Coughing, he looked at Dee. "I mean," he said, "I've seen Triton on television, he doesn't seem that tough. Leviathan has gotten the better of him once or twice."

"Yeah?" Dee replied, "You think so?"

He almost choked on his beer at her amused tone. Turning to ask her what she meant, he stopped when the music suddenly cut out, and silence rang out through the hall like a sledgehammer. He looked around just as Volt's booming voice was heard.

"People!" he shouted, "I think the best way to introduce Levi to HQ is to show him what he has to look forward to!"

There were a few expectant growns from the crowd.

"Yes!" Volt continued, laughing, "You all know that the means … Highlight reel!"

"Here we go," Dee said from beside Levi, and Levi quirked an eyebrow at her just as all the lights in the room shut off, and suddenly a giant screen was projected on the wall. He looked up, and found himself laughing. It was a video of fights between heroes and villains, the film grainy.

"That must have been from awhile ago," he said.

"Yes," Dee replied, "It's a long video. You'd better get comfortable."

He nodded, leaning back against the wall with a grin, and looking back up at the screen. He didn't mind watching battles, found it kind of enjoyable and interesting, considering how old they were. At least it was taking his mind off 'one of the best' Triton.

Suddenly, there was a click in his head. He smiled. "What do you want?"

"Where are you?"

Oh, and how should Levi answer that. "I get some personal freedom, Kraken," he said telepathically, "I get my own secrets."

"To hell with that," Kraken replied, "Levi, get home. Now."

The irritating, arrogant and commanding tone of Kraken's voice was almost heartwarming. "Imissyou … " Levi replied, smirking at the angry ripple that was Kraken's response.

"You little shit," Kraken said, "If I find out that you're at Rage's … "

"I'm not," Levi replied, "Actually—"

He stopped, his mouth dropping open.

There was a hush from the crowd. "Ah, yes," Volt was saying, sounding a little subdued, "Well, we all remember this one … "

Getting up from the bench without realizing it, eyes glued to the projection, Levi walked forward, everything around him falling away. He couldn't even feel himself, there were no thoughts in his head as he watched the video, moving closer to it. He couldn't … there had to be some cosmic rule … he just, he wished he had never seen was he was looking at.

''''

It was Leviathan. Kraken's Leviathan.

He was standing on top of a car, talking to someone off screen. Whoever had been filming was hiding behind some rubble, and the view was a little shaky … but there was no denying it. Leviathan was right there.

He looked so powerful. Well, he looked a lot like Kraken— same build and all, but he had the same silky raven hair as Levi, the same emerald green eyes. Where Kraken was wild and barely controlled temper, this Leviathan was cold and composed. But he was so breathtakingly powerful.

A tear rolling down Levi's cheek broke him from his reverie, and he quickly wiped it away before anyone saw. Licking his lips, he stepped closer.

This was what was taken from Kraken, this brother. They really had been twins. Levi could imagine that Leviathan was the one who took care of Kraken, just based on his general atmosphere. He looked like he knew everything, like he could predict the future.

A click sounded in Levi's head. "Did you fucking hang up on me?"

"We're not talking on a phone, dumbass," Levi replied, but his heart wasn't in it.

There was a pause. " … You ok?"

Jumping from the car, the Leviathan in the video stalked closer to who he was speaking to, and finally someone else came on the screen. It was Volt.

Volt looked young, reminded Levi of Troy, and he was standing in a fighting stance, lightening snapping at his fingertips. Leviathan was saying something to him, but there was no audio, and Levi could only imagine what it was. Volt looked pissed though, and was shouting something back at Leviathan.

"Look at me," Volt said from next to him, and Levi jumped. He hadn't realized he had moved so far into the crowd. Volt turned his head to smile at him. "I was just a kid, then," he said, "I had no business going up against Leviathan."

Levi looked at him with surprise, his eyebrows rising. "Why did you?"

"Hm," Volt replied, his smile lingering. He let out a heavy sigh. " Well, … there he is."

Glancing back at the screen, Levi's eyes widened. He was looking at his brother, Kraken, sauntering on screen. Kraken joined Leviathan, and standing there side-by-side, they looked unstoppable.

A click again. "Levi?" Kraken spoke in his head.

They truly were two sides of a coin, with Leviathan's long, sharp, black tresses framing a pale and serious face, while Kraken stood there with his messy, brown hair and fiery eyes. Levi felt small looking at them, felt like a stranger in his own body. What right did he have to be Leviathan? How could he ever replace the man in that video?

"You dumbass … " Volt muttered from beside him.

The Volt on the screen had stopped shouting, and was now speaking animatedly, a light blush blooming on his cheeks as he talked. He was gesturing wildly, and was saying something specifically to Kraken, getting a little too excited. Kraken and Leviathan were staring at him coldly, Leviathan looking especially bored.

"What's going on?" Levi asked, his eyes still glued to the screen.

"Ah, well," Volt replied, a slight bitter edge to his voice, "Just me being idealistic. It happens with all young heroes. I got over it."

Who cares about you, Levi thought to himself with a frown. His fingers curled into his palms. "Yes, but," he said, trying not to sound too interested, "What about those two?"

Volt snorted. "They were humoring me," he said, "Quite nice of them, if you think about it." Sighing, he looked over at Levi. "Let me tell you," he said, "I was a grade-A moron back then. I thought that if I just got him to listen to me … If I just somehow made him see … " Pausing, Volt closed his eyes and smiled a harsh smile.

"Leviathan?" Levi replied.

Volt opened his eyes. "Leviathan?" he repeated. He let out a strangled, rueful laugh. "Hell no, no force in existence would have ever made Leviathan good. He was rotten to the core."

Feeling a sudden tremor of anger, Levi told himself to cool it.

"No," Volt continued, "Those two … nothing could get in between them." Coughing, he crossed his arms. "Anyway, that's how Leviathan got himself killed."

Levi could feel his teeth elongating this time, felt the urge to rip Volt's throat out. What did he mean 'that's how Leviathan got himself killed'? Someone killed him, he didn't get himself killed, and now Levi would kill Volt for speaking ill of— no. Pulling his teeth back, Levi sighed, shaking his head. He watched the video switch out to a different fight, one not involving anyone he knew, and the palpable tension in the room abetted.

"You know," Volt said, his voice distant, "When the new Leviathan came around, I just didn't expect for it to happen all over again. It's like Kraken's even more attached to this one than he was with the old one."

For the first time since seeing Leviathan, Levi actually felt a little better. "Yeah?"

Volt nodded without saying anything. He was still staring at the projection, but his eyes were glazed over, his mouth set in a thin line. He was standing with his shoulders stiff, and with each passing second, it looked as if anger and energy were being sucked into his core, and was being contained there by a very flimsy gate.

"God damnit, Levi, answer me!"

Levi winced at the sudden acidic anger in his head, which he hid with a cough. "I'm fine," he replied to Kraken, "but I may not be back tonight."

His eyes had wandered back over the crowd, which was when he finally noticed Triton. He was standing amidst some other heroes, his contagious laughter wafting through the air. Leaning against him, Firea had one arm around his waist, and was smiling up at him with a small spark in her eyes.

Triton was the center of attention, and Levi could see the other heroes were trying to vy for even a second of his time.

Looking back at Volt, Levi sighed, and patted him on the shoulder. "They're brothers, aren't they?"

Volt snorted, and Levi frowned. This wasn't the first time he had seen Volt lose his charming, roguish demeanor over the familial relationship between Levi and Kraken. "Why is that such a bad thing?" Levi asked, "You sound … displeased."

Glancing at him, Volt quirked an eyebrow. "Displeased?" he repeated, a small smile playing on his lips. "You sound so much like—"

He stopped. And then he really looked at Levi.

But then there was a heavy hand on Levi's shoulder, and Troy's smiling face came into view, and he was laughing merrily. "Levi," he said, "Don't spend the whole time talking to Volt, I'll get jealous!"

Levi couldn't take his eyes off of Volt, mostly because Volt was still staring at him. "Well, I … " Levi stuttered, almost falling back against Triton's chest.

"This won't work, at least fucking tell me where you are!"

Now Triton was pulling Levi towards him, wrapping an arm around his waist. "I can't believe this is happening," he said, sounding a little drunk, "It's fate, isn't it Levi? We wouldn't have been able to be together if you were human!"

Volt was still, still, still staring, his eyes glued to Levi, his mouth silently shaping Levi's name, working through the vowels and consonants.

"Don't think I won't come find you—"

Swallowing, Levi tried and failed to laugh. "We haven't really discussed our relationship yet, Troy … "

" —Levi, listen to me. This is not the right time for you to be out alone—"

"Ah, come on," Triton slurred, ruffling his nose in Levi's hair. "Stop playing hard to get."

" —Don't make me burn down the entire city looking for you, Levi—"

Volt's eyes had gone flat, and the corner of his lip was slowly curling upwards as he watched Levi, and Levi was pretty sure his heart had stopped beating right at that moment.

"That's it, Levi. I'm going to fucking—"

"Shut up, Kraken!"

There was a tick of silence. Volt was now grinning at him, eyes flashing. Everything seemed to drop away.

Levi had said that out loud.


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(a/n) Ok! After much gnashing of teeth and general hair pulling, here is the fifteenth chapter! I hope everyone enjoyed it :)