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Leviathan

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        Tsukauchi Naomasa rubs tired circles into his forehead, staring at the flickering computer screen with a mixture of exhaustion and bitter acceptance. The monitor displays a number of websites, all restating the same information in different formats. They’ve been following Razorback for at least a month now, yet there’s still absolutely no information on the villain. None at all. It’s mindlessly frustrating, but Naomasa has to admit that whoever this is knows what he’s doing.

        He opens yet another webpage. This one is slid carelessly into the top right corner of the screen and has a condensed, organized look to it. It’s probably some sort of nonprofit, Naomasa assumes. His eyes scrunch up at the corners as he forces his tired eyes to focus on the information present, although he’s doubtful he’ll found anything new.

        Razorback, the website states. Status: Villain. Quirk: The ability to grow spines of an unknown material from anywhere on the skin. These spines can be removed or forcibly expelled with no damage to the host.

        It’s a rather mundane quirk, really, compared to some of the others. Naomasa’s genuinely impressed that someone with such an ability has managed to carve out such a name for himself. Then again, it’s relatively easy to carve something out with piercing spines and a butcher’s knife.

        Razorback has taken seven lives in the past month, yet his motives are strangely unknown. That might be the most frustrating part. Naomasa huffs. Villains who are on some sort of self-righteous killing spree and announce their reason for doing so usually inadvertently make it easier for the police and heroes to predict their next victims and set up traps accordingly. Either Razorback knows this and is purposely being quiet about it, or he’s just killing without rhyme or reason. Naomasa isn’t quite sure which is worse.

        He groans and presses his palms into his eyes, his chair squeaking and rolling backwards. This isn’t getting anywhere. He’s just going to end up frustrated, and frustration won’t get him anywhere. He’s about to call it quits and turn in for the night when God himself intervenes, and his phone dings noisily. The noise is enough to drag him out of his tired stupor, and he unlocks his phone.

        11:34 [Tsunagu] We have reports of a hostage situation nearby. It’s been requested that you accompany me and assist in negotiations.

        11:34 [Tsunagu] Sending you the location now.

        Naomasa frowns, brow creasing into wrinkled lines. He types in a ‘Be there in ten.’ before hastily tidying up his workspace and turning off the lights of the office. He’s the last one there; not an unusual occurrence in the slightest, but still tedious. A repetitive pounding sound reaches his ears, and he opens the front door of the office to find the dark world being soaked in a furious downpour. He can barely hear himself think over the deafening roar of the raindrops splattering on the street, and he can’t help the groan that crawls out of his throat. It’s going to be a very long night.

        He pulls on his trenchcoat and smooths down his hair before fastening on his hat, opting to go for a dead sprint through the rain. He shuts the door behind him, lingering in the shadowy underpass for a second before sprinting out into the rain. His boots splash noisily on the ground, and the rain is like a sledgehammer on his back. He almost falls under the force and wonders absentmindedly if it’s the effect of some overpowered quirk. He figures its not.

        He almost slips a few times but manages to make it to his car, absolutely drenched and shivering. His hands shake slightly as he starts the car, and he settles for venting his former frustration into flipping off the rain through the car window. The headlights flare to life, illuminating a million tiny specks rushing past in white sparks. Already tired of the sound of the rain hammering on the roof, he turns on the radio and pulls out.

        It’s nothing short of a miracle that he manages to make it to the location Best Jeanist sent him reasonably on time. Traffic is a nightmare, and Naomasa spends most of the ride focusing intently on whatever news is playing at the moment.

        By the time he gets there, the situation has considerable worsened. The villain, who Naomasa has been told is nothing more than a teen in possession of some sort of helicopter blade quirk, has grown increasingly frustrated and has begun making threats. Naomasa takes a back road or two and manages to make decent time.

        He doesn’t bother trying to avoid the rain at this point. He’s going to get soaked either way, so he just ignores it bitterly as he runs to where a crowd has clustered around a narrow alley. He spots Best Jeanist at the front of the mob and shoulders his way through the cluster of people, eyes trained on the alley. As soon as he stumbles to a stop next to the pro hero, he’s already talking.

        “How’s the situation looking?”

        “See for yourself,” Best Jeanist answers grimly, mouth pressed into a thin line. Naomasa presses one hand to his forehead like a visor and attempts to squint through the rain pummeling him from all sides. He can make out the fuzzy image of a what appears to be a teen with massive propeller type blades instead of hands. They’re hunched over and appear to be yelling furiously, although Naomasa can’t hear them above the noise. In their grip trembles the hostage; a… a tiny child. They can’t be older than four, Naomasa realizes with a start. He can make out wide eyes and a mop of rain-soaked hair. They’re shaking, and Naomasa jolts when his eyes land on the razor-sharp propeller blade pressed against the child’s throat.

        “Oh my God… Tsunagu, why didn’t you tell me that the hostage was a child?” He asks, hands curling into tight fists. Part of him wants to rush in and save the kid himself, but it’s not his place. He would most likely only end up making the situation worse.

        He doesn’t get a response, and based off of Best Jeanist’s expression, he doesn’t think he’s going to get one. He swallows, mouth feeling dry, and turns back towards the the scene.

“What are his demands?”

“He wants a gun and some sort of transportation away from here with the promise that he won’t be followed,” Best Jeanist answers. “My guess is that he’s just some sort of petty crook acting out of desperation.”

        Naomasa bites back a bitter remark, tongue burning with words as cold as ice. He swallows them, eyes narrowing slightly.

        “We clearly can’t engage directly. He has too tight of a hold on the kid. One slip up, and...” He bites his lip. “We also, however, can’t afford to let him go unpunished.”

        “We’re aware of the limitations. Midnight has been sent to try and sneak in from behind and knock him out, but we are unaware how the rain will affect her quirk.”

        Of course. The damn rain. Naomasa curses under his breath. Just then, the propeller villain takes the opportunity to speak.

        “Clock’s ticking, heroes!” He sneers, tone full of desperation. Naomasa’s not sure how he manages to hear it above the rain, but he does. “Choose. This brat’s life, or my arrest?”

        To prove his point, he presses the blade further. Even from here, Naomasa can see the way the kid goes deathly still and the beginnings of a red stain.

        “Tsunagu, we need to go, now -”

        He never gets to finish that, because all of a sudden the night lights up in a blinding flash of green and an explosion of dust and smoke. Naomasa’s pushed backwards by the force of the blast, although he doesn’t lose his footing. His eyes snap to Best Jeanist’s, hoping desperately that this was some plan of his, but there’s no recognition in the hero’s eyes. Uncertainty and fear claw at Naomasa’s gut, and he turns back to the flickering cloud.

        That’s when he hears it. There’s a horrible, shrill scream that starts out high-pitched and slowly warps into a bellowing inhuman roar. It’s deafening, like the roar of a jet taking off but amplified a hundredfold. Naomasa presses his hands to his ears, squinting through the rain. What the hell is going on?

        The question is quickly answered when the smoke dissipates in the rain. There are a few bright flashes of electric green that light up the alley with a sickly radioactive light, before something crawls into view. Naomasa’s heart immediately lunges into his throat, and he can hear his pulse pounding in his ears like the wing beats of a startled bird.

        The thing is massive, easily close to the size of the buildings its next to. It’s impossible to make out details in the downpour, but he can see a massive mouth filled with glittering teeth the size of his arm. The creature is curling upwards like it’s swimming through the air, curling in lazy spirals towards the sky as if gravity doesn’t exist. He spots six legs kicking and pushing at nothing, each tipped with curved claws glistening in the green light.. Massive fins spread out all over its body, from its back and head, and a tangled wet mane blankets the back of its head and runs all the way down its spine to the tip of its long, swishing tail.

        Suddenly, the creature halts in its ascent and bends over, moving as if in slow motion. Piercing green eyes glowing like neon lights land on the crowd, and the beast cocks and snaps its head wildly. Its many legs go from leisurely treading the air to kicking and clawing at a frenzied pace, and the beast unhinges its jaw to its maximum potential and roars .

        No, it’s not a roar. It’s a horrible, gutwrenching, earsplitting scream .

        The frozen quiet that had been suspended over the crowd of spectators abruptly shatters like broken glass as people around him wail and shout, desperately trying to escape. Naomasa can only watch in mute horror as the beast swings its head from side to side as if looking for something, screaming again and again. Then, in one clean sweep, it twists in midair like a coiled spring and slams its fin-tipped tail into the nearest building, smashing through it in a cloud of smoke and debris.

        Naomasa lunges out of the way as chunks of brick and cement start raining down in clusters, looking around for shelter from what he fears might soon become an unstoppable rampage. He spots an alcove across the street and moves to sprint towards it, but is stopped by yet another scream that sends ice shooting through his veins and freezes him in place. The creature swoops over his head, close enough for him to touch and knocking him over just by the force of the action alone, and smashes into the buildings across the street. Its eyes are wild as it thrashes and claws at anything and everything, Every now and then it will disappear into the smoke, only to emerge in a flash of green lightning and a piercing scream.

        From his position sprawled on the ground, hands and sleeves soaked, Naomasa has an unobstructed view of the creature swooping and shrieking, destroying anything it touches like a horrible disease. He feels almost sick; where had the thing come from? What was it? Was it a quirk?

        His radio buzzes and fizzles from where it is clipped onto his pocket, and he fumbles for it with one hand while trying to keep the rain out of his eyes.

        “This is Tsuragamae,” he hears a staticky voice on the other end bark. “What the hell is happening down there?!”

        Naomasa presses down on the button and prepared to respond but cringes as he’s cut off by yet another twisted scream. As soon as it fades, he holds the radio close to his mouth and tries to shield it from the rain.

        “The alley that the hostage situation was in suddenly exploded and… this… thing came out,” he chokes out for lack of anything better to describe it as, eyes blinking furiously as rain pounds on his back. “It’s some sort of floating serpent the size of a building. It appears to be crazed and is currently going on a destructive rampage. Extensive damage. Extremely.”

        He hears Tsuragamae bark something indistinct before there comes a more crisp, “We’re on our way.” The radio then dissolves back into static.

        Naomasa jams it in his pocket, staggering to his feet and straining his eyes to catch sight of the creature in the distance. It’s left a sickening trail of destruction the likes of which he’s never seen before, even in all his time as the chief detective of the police. The amount of destroyed buildings and smoke hurts, and he’s not sure if he wants to see it in the light of day.

        His attention is abruptly captured when, quite suddenly, there’s silence. The creature is gone, Naomasa realizes. Vanished into thin air. The only sign that it was ever here is the trail of shattered buildings and dust that it left.

        Naomasa stares, wide-eyed, his breathing coming in heavy puffs that turn to smoke in the flickering light of a bent streetlight. That’s where he stays, alone on the street in the pouring rain, until the rest of the police force arrives.

        They search for months, but nothing is ever heard or seen of the creature dubbed “Leviathan” ever again. There was nothing, and there is nothing. No registered quirks to date are even slightly similar to what he saw that night. Eventually, they give up, hoping that the Leviathan’s debut was a one-time occurrence only.

        Naomasa should have known that he wouldn’t be that lucky.

-----

        Izuku wakes up to the sun shining on his face in blinding bands, and he squints and groans. Swatting at the light like a cat does nothing to ease his predicament, and he eventually settles for sitting up. His head is still groggy with sleep, and he shakes his head to clear it and looks around. Clothes are strewn about in the floor in crinkled heaps, and the wall is covered in dozens of posters. All-Might, mostly. Who can blame him? All in all, the room is tight and dusty and calming, and Izuku spares himself a minute to just bask in it.

        And then the minute is over, and Izuku pushes himself out of the bed with a sigh, resisting the urge to hurl himself back in as he’s greeted with an unpleasant wave of cold. Nope. Can’t do that. As tempting as the thought is, he can’t be late to school again.

        Izuku pulls on his uniform and heads into the bathroom, picking up the toothbrush off the counter. He pipes a thick dollop of toothpaste onto it and jams it into his mouth, brushing a bit slower than usual. While he’s at it, he takes the opportunity to examine himself in the mirror, checking himself up and down. He feels relaxed, but his body- no, his quirk- doesn’t always agree. This time, however, it seems to have calmed down, and isn’t displaying any of the usual ‘accessories’ that come with any sort of emotional agitation. Izuku’s honestly pretty relieved to not have the beginnings of a spinal fin trying to sprout from his back and tear a hole in his uniform again. It’s been a while since he’s been relaxed enough to not let any of the Leviathan slip through the cracks and make itself known on his body. He raises his eyebrows at himself in the mirror and laughs at how stupid he looks before rinsing off his toothbrush and heading downstairs.

        The kitchen is warmer than his bedroom, which comes as a bit of a relief. He’s not sure if it’s just him or if it’s thanks to his quirk, but his room always feels absolutely frigid. It drives him insane.

        “Morning, Mom!” He says with a soft smile as he grabsa piece of toast off a plate, not even bothering to sit down. She clearly hadn't heard him coming, and spins around, wide-eyed.

        “Oh! Izuku, honey, you scared me,” she breaths with a laugh, and he can’t help but wince a little. As soon as he does, he feels his feet shift a little bit, and claws try to wiggle their way to the surface. In one quick practiced motion, he squashes the emotion, and the sensation fades. It’s nothing, he half tells himself and half tells the Leviathan, even if he isn’t sure if it can hear him. His mom was easily spooked, but most mornings he remembered to make some sort of noise to indicate his presence.

        “Sorry, mom,” he says awkwardly. She rolls her eyes and pats his head with a huff.

        “No need to be sorry. Now sit down and eat before you're late for school!”

        Izuku does as she requested, eating quickly as his mom sits down across from him

        Midoriya Inko is a small woman with the same dark green hair as Izuku and a dazzling smile. She’s sweet and understanding and everything in between, and Izuku would do anything for her.

        The meal passes in relative silence. It’s normal. This isn’t a tight, empty silence. This silence is calm and comforting, a wordless conversation between mother and son that passes between like the breeze on a summer day.

        Having finished up, Izuku grabs his bag from where it was loosely hanging by one strap on a chair and slings it over his shoulder, stretching.

        “Alright, mom, I'm gonna head out. See you later!” He says, opening the door with a satisfying click. The knob is worn and familiar under his hands, slightly scratched from days when the Leviathan had managed to push claws onto him for one reason or another. He’s glad today’s not one of those days.

        “Bye, honey! Stay safe!” She called after him. Izuku smiled and pushed open the door, immediately buffeted by an unruly gust of icy wind.

        “Don’t let the cold in!” He hears from the kitchen, and he can’t help but laugh to himself a little bit as he shuts the door. The cold swirls all around him, whistling and puffing in a quiet melody. Izuku blinks as it bites at his eyes, but shakes away whatever emotions that might bring. He doesn’t need to sprout fins from his head just because he’s a bit chilly.

        Just as he thinks that, he feels a faint prickling at the back of his head. Izuku rolls his eyes so hard they almost go back into his head and tries to convey, ‘what did I literally just say’ directly to his quirk. It doesn’t work, and if anything only speeds up the process. Izuku’s frustration only grows with his inability to stop the blue-green fins from sprouting out of his head like sails, and they respond by growing faster.

        That’s why Izuku shows up to school, face slumped in resignation, with two sets of frilly fins poking out from his hair that look like someone took a pair of scissors to the edges of them. His eyes are habitually trained on the floor as he enters the classroom and sets his bag down next to his chair, but that’s not enough to avoid the piercing gaze he immediately feels once he does.

        “Oi, Deku, what’s up with the fans?” Katsuki barks, tone begging for a response. Izuku’s gut instinctively tries to clench up in fear, but he shuts it down just as quickly. He’s been dealing with this for years. There’s no need to be afraid.

        “Hey, you useless brat. I’m talking to you,” he hears again. He responds by wordlessly sliding into his seat and training his eyes on the board, taking care to wipe any and all emotion off of his face and slip it into his pocket for later. He can feel the stare on his head growing increasingly infuriated even from here, and he mentally sighs and prepares for the worst.

        Sure enough, not even a few seconds later, a pale hand slams down on his desk and is immediately accompanied by a few crackling explosions. It’s not enough to actually damage the desk, but it will leave soot everywhere that will stain all of Izuku’s physical classwork black.

        “Oi, you deaf? Those ugly ass fans kill your hearing?” He hears, although he wishes that the fins did negate his hearing. It would save him from having to deal with this bullshit again. He continues to stare at the wall ahead of him, hoping that the bell will ring soon and drag Katsuki away from him.

        Katsuki, now undoubtedly pissed, grabs one of Izuku’s upper fins and yanks, hard . It sends a spike of pain shooting through his head and down his spine, but Izuku manages to lean into the pull a bit to negate the damage. All the while, he keeps a bored, indifferent expression on his face. He’s not sure how much of it is to put off Katsuki, and how much of it is to keep the Leviathan from trying to manifest.

        At least it appears to be working a bit.

        Katsuki growls wordlessly, face contorted into raw anger. One hand snaps out, locking around Izuku’s jaw and twisting his head painfully so that they’re looking each other in the eyes.

        “I’m talking to you, you good-for-nothing lizard,” he spits, teeth gritting together. Izuku feels his own mouth shift and knows without seeing that his own teeth are sharpening and twisting. Preparing. He forces whatever emotion is causing it out, before raising his eyebrows at Katsuki and stating flatly, “Piss off.”

        Katsuki looks like Izuku just pissed in his drink. “What the fuck did you just say to me?”

        “You heard me,” Izuku responds just as monotonously, probably going to earn a beating later for his actions. He’s taken enough by now that it doesn’t phase him.

        Katsuki draws back a glowing red fist, and Izuku wonders if he’s going to throw the first punch then and there, but the teacher picks that moment to open the door and stroll to his desk, eyes immediately scouring for and finding Katsuki. As expected, he does nothing about the actual situation, and simply clears his throat.

        “To your seats, please,” he says, and his voice is low and disinterested. Katsuki hisses and draws a finger across his throat as he leaves, and Izuku ignores him.

        They’re choosing their futures today, Izuku registers somewhere. He’s not actually listening, instead far more focused on whatever his head’s locked onto at this point. He doesn’t expect any attention. Ever since the incident ten years ago, when he used his quirk for the first time and subsequently killed thirty-two people , he’s made a point of keeping his quirk ambiguous and unnoticeable. He’s doing a pretty good job, actually. Most, if not all of his classmates think that his quirk is just some kind of flamboyant body modification that’s not actually useful for anything, and he’d like to keep it that way. Nonetheless, the fins annoy him to no end because they’re just too similar to the fins of the Leviathan that had been caked in blood and dirt on that infamous day, and if someone makes the connection…

        In his agitation, he barely notices Katsuki challenge the teacher over something stupid, like, ‘grouping him in with the rest’ or whatever, or the way his hands thicken and curl into claws.

        “You’re trying out for U.A., aren’t you, Katsuki?” He hears the teacher ask. There are a few startled gasps and murmurs that follow, but Izuku isn’t really sure why they’re surprised.

        “Hell yeah, I am. Even aced the mock exam they set up. You all can bet your asses that by the time we’re out of school, I’m gonna be a better hero than All Might himself!”

        The rest of the class is in awe of his confidence. Izuku wishes he would quiet down.

        “Come to think of it, isn’t Midoriya trying for U.A. as well?”

        Izuku has never wanted to disappear more than he did in that moment. He settles for fixing the teacher with a poisonous stare as the room’s attention slowly but surely switches to him, like a targeting system locking on. There’s  silence for a moment, and then the class bursts into mocking laughter. “Frilly little Izuku? No way!” He hears among the cackling. “He’ll get killed in the exam!”
He only shrugs, not bothering to fight back. It’ll be over soon, and then they’ll all forgot about it, and he can leave. He doesn’t know why they care, anyways.

        And then, over the noise, he hears a familiar, threatening growl. Oh, boy .

        “Deku!” A split second later, Izuku is pushed backwards by the sheer force of Kacchan slamming his hand onto his desk. “How dare you claim that you’re on the same level as me, you worthless brat!” He spits the words like Izuku had said he was going to U.A. to purposely infuriate him, and Izuku swears he can see smoke coming out of the other boy’s ears. It wouldn’t be surprising.

        “When did I ever claim anything?” He asks flatly. This earns him an explosion to the face, searing his nose and cheeks as he grits his teeth and does his best not to respond. His quirk grants him somewhat of a temperature resilience to both cold and heat, but even that’s not enough when he’s being blasted from three inches away.

        “Listen, Deku. You’re just an ugly, weak scarecrow with a failure of a quirk. You could never be a hero. How dare you try to compete with the likes of me?”

        “I’m not trying to compete with you, Kacchan,” Izuku says.

        “The exam is impossible for someone like you,” Kacchan snarls. “Don’t waste my time.”

        “I’m not wasting anyone’s time. You’re the one up in my face. If you ask me, I think you’re the one wasting mine.”

        The class falls uncharacteristically silent, and Izuku  knows without a doubt that he’s crossed a line. He can’t bring himself to care, really. He just keeps on throwing out emotions as soon as they appear and tries to prevent claws on his feet from poking through. After a short while, however, the silence becomes unbearable, and he sighs and turns to look at Katsuki.

        He’s smiling, like this is some big game and he’s just won the grand prize. Izuku supposes, in a way, that he has; he’s more or less handed Katsuki a good reason to beat the shit out of him on a silver platter. Too late to take it back now.

        “We’ll see who’s a waste of time when you’re wasting away on the ground, Deku ,” Katsuki croons, crossing the room to slide back into his chair with more elegance that he’s normally capable of. Izuku almost responds with “Great! Looking forward to it!” but he saves that kind of direct sarcasm for after school.

        The day passes in an unremarkable blur after that. Most days do, really, when the only thing he has to look forward to is an afterschool beating. Today’s especially hazy considering that he’s fully aware that today’s ass-kicking is going to be extra painful.

        Why can’t he just keep his mouth shut and stay out of trouble for once?

        With an impressive lack of finality, the last bell rings, and Izuku starts packing his bag. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t get far, and the worn yellow backpack is ripped out of his hands and flung onto the floor.

        “So you really think you’re on my level, huh?” Katsuki sneers, suddenly mere inches away from his face. Izuku wants to say that he didn’t imply anything of the sort, but bites his tongue and instead gives Katsuki a bored look.

        “I guess I’ll just have to teach you what my level looks like, then.”

        He senses the punch before he sees it. His quirk is reptilian in its nature, and he’s particularly susceptible to heat signatures. Katsuki’s habit of warming up his hands before swinging makes it almost laughably easy to step out of the way, which he does. Katsuki stumbles a step, but has already pivoted and swung his leg in a wide arc into the back of Izuku’s knees.

        He visibly grimaces, and a few blotchy scales appear on his arms, but he doesn’t buckle. He simply walks forward, reaching down the pick his bag. Katsuki predictably uses this opportunity to jump on his back and grind his face into the tile of the classroom floor.

        Izuku grits his teeth, wincing when a particularly sharp canine that was definitely not there before scrapes against his lip. His emotions are beginning to slip from his grasp. He needs to reel it in before Katsuki can figure out that he’s not as weak as he’s led everyone to believe or- god forbid- connect the dots and realize that Izuku is a horrible creature and a murderer and a monster .

        Katsuki’s smart, Izuku will give him that, but not even he’s smart enough to connect the two pieces with the lack of hints Izuku’s left. This calms him down a touch, and he hears his teeth squeak as they shrink a bit closer to what normal teeth should look like.

        He lets himself go limp and still, his face smashed uncomfortably against the cold tile. There’s silence, and then he feels a sneaker carefully nudge him. He doesn’t respond.

        “Fuckin’ coward couldn’t even take one hit,” he hears Katsuki gloat, before there’s a telltale zipping noise and a bark of laughter.

        “Hero Analysis for the Future. Number thirteen .” The last bit sounds almost incredulous. “Like hell he’s gonna need this. Besides, I’m sure he won’t miss one little nerdy book if he has twelve more . Goddamn.”

        He hears a popping, and then a crackling, and the smoky smell of burnt paper fills his nose. It takes all of his self control not to jump up and let the Leviathan go wild for a bit, and all he does is lie there motionless on the ground while months of work go up in flickering flames.

        He hears laughter, then the click of a lock, and Katsuki tosses the book out the window like it’s worth absolutely nothing.

        “Honestly, if he had any brain at all, he would’ve thrown himself off of a bridge or something a long time ago,” Katsuki says flatly. There’s more laughter and then- finally - they leave.

        Izuku counts to fifteen, just to be sure, before groaning and letting himself get off of the floor. His nose aches faintly where it’s been smushed into the ground for the past five or ten minutes, but he ignores it and all but stumbles to the window. He peers out, and sure enough, there’s his book; it’s drifting serenely on top of the small pond on the school’s campus, drenched and waterlogged where it isn’t coal black.

        Izuku’s hands shake from where he’s clutching the window frame, and he’s aware of his own breathing as his senses slowly but surely become more refined. His arms and legs prickle as their muscle mass increases slightly and they’re coated with a layer of dark, almost black teal scales. Two thin fins start to poke through his lower back, one on either side.

        At the same time, his movements become ever so slightly further away, somehow as if he’s not the one controlling his own body, but is merely a spectator.

        Izuku growls, and the inhuman snarl that leaves his throat is more than enough to get him to immediately close off his frustrations. He’s losing control. He can’t lose control, not here.

        He closes his eyes and breathes. In, and out. In, and out. In, and out.

        The Leviathan’s attributes slowly but surely disappear, scales vanishing back into his skin and fins curling back towards him until there’s nothing left. Once they’re all gone, he lets out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. He’s back in control.

        Izuku huffs and grabs his backpack off of the ground as he leaves the classroom, heading down the hallway and out the door. Once outside, he circles back around to the back where the fountain is. The book is probably demolished, but it won’t hurt to check to see if anything’s salvageable.

        Surprisingly, most of it is. Katsuki’s explosions only really burnt the cover and the first few pages. The rest of it’s uncomfortably wet and will most likely dry into a wrinkly mess, but there’s minimal ink bleeding and most of his notes are still legible. To him, at least.

        Izuku lets out a bitter sigh of relief as he tries to squeeze a bit of the water out. It doesn’t do much, but he still holds onto the book like a lifeline as he makes his way off campus. The walk home isn’t a long one, but his wet hands are shivering by the time he’s hardly halfway there. He knows it’s because his hands are still wet from the pond, but that’s not going to stop him from being bitter around it.

        He opts to hold the soggy book in one hand and tuck the other into the collar of his uniform, squeaking when his cold hand touches his collarbone.

        He’s so caught up in this that he almost doesn’t hear the muddy, frothing voice echoing around him as he passes through the underpass. Keyword; almost.

        “Well, how convenient. Hope you don’t mind if I borrow your skin, kid!” Someone gurgles, and suddenly he’s surrounded in a thick, goopy liquid the color of vomit. It’s churning and twisting and- Izuku inhales sharply, alive. It’s the sludge villain. The one from the news. Just his luck.

        It doesn’t take long for Izuku to realize that he could very easily die here.

        “Shit!” He yells, eyes going wide as the first sparks of fear begin to take root in his chest. “H-help!”

        “Woah! None of that, thank you kindly.” The villain cuts him off, and suddenly, something is flowing down his throat and up his nose and oh my god the sludge villain is trying to get inside him. That’s when Izuku’s tight hold on just chest loosens, and the fear he’s been restraining rushes in like arctic water.

        He starts flailing and kicking, doing his best to scream despite the ooze muffling him. His brain starts to fill with fear and adrenaline, and he can already feel the Leviathan twisting inside him as it makes itself known.

        “Almost there! It’ll be easier if you don’t struggle!” He hears. Izuku’s lungs burn, and he tries to breathe desperately. He succeeds in inhaling a bucketful of villain-slime and desperately tries to cough it up to no avail. His struggling began to fade as his vision blinked in and out. Oh god, oh god, it wasn’t supposed to end like this, it wasn’t supposed to end like this.

        Suddenly, he feels a roar rumble to life deep inside of him, and it’s not the slime villain he’s afraid of anymore. He tries to suppress it, to fight, but his strength as gone.

        If he’s going to survive this, he doesn’t have a choice.

        He feels his quirk flare to life before it shows, but when it does, it moves faster than it ever has before. In seconds, he’s covered in scales, and fins burst from his back and his head. His teeth grow into fangs, and his hands and feet curl into claws. A finned tail bursts from his spine, swishing and swaying and sending up dirty clouds with each stroke. The more it progresses, the more Izuku’s aware that he’s losing himself, but he grits his teeth and fights it. It’s like trying to hold onto sand as it drains through his fingers, but he’s not going to quit. He’s not going to lose control.

        “What the hell? What kind of-” The Leviathan hears, but Izuku forces himself to pay no mind. On instinct, he opens his jaw as wide as it will go, and the slime villain eagerly rushes to cram themself in. Instead, however, Izuku lets out a horrific, twisted scream that’s far louder than anything something of his size should have been able to produce. The force alone sends the slime villain flying out of its would-be host in a spray of ooze, eyes wide as they splatter across the ground.

        “Holy- What the hell are you?”

        Izuku drops to all fours, eyes glowing a bright radioactive green. His fingers are clenched white knuckled as he can feel his strength being sapped. His gaze is fading, as his control loosens.

        The slime villain is crawling away, eyes narrowed accusingly. Izuku turns to stare at it, breathing heavily, and it gurgles something equivalent to a curse. He can’t last much longer.

        “How d-dare you assault me?” he growls, and it comes out much lower and rougher than it should. He tries to make it sound braver than he feels.

        “What the hell are you?” The slime villain gurgles. That urge overcomes him again, and Izuku opens his jaws and screams once more, paralyzing the offender in their place before stalking forward on broken, puny limbs not made for walking like this.

        A noise catches its attention, however, and his fins flare outward.

        “Who-” He forces out, trying to stand, but something smashes into the ground at the entrance of the underpass, and he hears a bellowing cry;

        “Texas smash!”

        A blast of wind sends both Izuku and the slime villain flying, rolling to a stop. In a blur of color, the newcomer rushes forward and scoops the slime villain up, ignoring their furious screams. They then turn towards Izuku, and without wanting to, he snarls. His eyes won’t focus right, and he can’t figure out who the figure is or where he is.

        He’s hanging on by threads at this point. It’s a miracle he’s still in somewhat of a control at all.

        “Don’t go near it!” The slime villain screams. “I- I tried to possess some kid and they turned into- that thing, it- it’s not human!”

        Izuku’s breath stutters as his gut twists and he squeezes his eyes shut. They’re right. He isn’t human. He’s a monster.

        A hand presses against his back, and Izuku’s eyes snap open wide. The Leviathan thrashes at the sudden touch, and he lurches back like he’s been burned, shaking. He can feel his tail hitting the ground, but it doesn’t feel like it’s his.

        The last grains of sand are running through his fingers.

        “Young man,” the figure says, and he’s taken aback by how low and calming their voice is. He grits his teeth and clutches at the ground, breathing heavily and forcing himself to be still , dammit.

        “D-don’t…” He tries to warn them, but his voice comes out in a gravelly inhuman growl. No, no, no.

        “Can you look at me?”

        He forces his eyes upward, ignoring the way the ground is swimming and rolling. The figure is standing above him, crouched. They seem familiar , but he doesn’t know why.

        “Can you breathe?”

        Breathing? Yeah, he can do that. It’ll be hard, but…

        He forces himself to suck in a deep breath, and then let it out. Another, then another. The panic recedes from his system, and the Leviathan slowly but surely begins to wither.

        As soon as it weakens even a little bit, he reaches in, grabs on, and takes back control.

        His vision goes a frothy white and he’s dimly aware of his eyes rolling up into his head as he smacks into the pavement.

-----

        Izuku opens his eyes only to be immediately assaulted by a wave of pain so overwhelming that he almost vomits, eyes going wide. He can’t breathe. No, that’s not right. He can breathe. He could always breathe, but the Leviathan is-

        The Leviathan. Is it- Where-

        Izuku raises his hands and flexes them. They move at his command. He’s in control, and his hands are perfectly human.

        He gasps, wrapping his arms around himself, shaking. The Leviathan was almost in control. He survived the attack, but the Leviathan was almost in control. He’s never been that close without losing it entirely.

        He looks around, eyes wide, for the destruction, but there is none.

        “What…?” He whispers to himself, gazing at the untouched stones. It’s okay. He didn’t do anything, just defended himself. He was still in control.

        “Oh thank God ,” Izuku half sobs, covering his eyes with his hands and sinking to the ground.

        “Young man,” an oddly familiar voice asks, and Izuku is suddenly very aware that he is not alone. The figure. They’re still hear. “Are you okay?”

        He jolts like he’s been slapped, scrambling away from the voice. Who is it? What… What did they see?
His horror triples to the point where his tail reforms to cover his face when he realizes the person who saw him was no one other than literal All Might himself.

        He’s staring, wide-eyed and shaking, and more and more parts of the Leviathan are appearing. No, no, this can’t happen, he needs to calm down -

        “Woah there! I didn’t mean to startle you. Are you alright?”

        Izuku squeezes his eyes shut, inhales, and exhales. The Leviathan fades.

        “What happened?” He asked. He’s dimly aware of fighting off the slime villain before All Might shows up and almost losing control then and there, but it’s foggy and grainy, like he’s watching it through an old-school film reel.

        “I believe you were attacked by this here slime villain who managed to evade my grasp earlier. Sorry about that.”

        “No- I- I know that, what…”

        “You appeared to be some sort of frilled reptilian humanoid. Is that your quirk?”

        “...That was it?”

        “That was all I saw, yes.”

        Izuku only very narrowly avoids thanking whatever God there is right then and there, and just gives him a stiff, jerky nod. He didn’t recognize the True Leviathan. He doesn’t know.

        “Thank you for, uh, saving me.”

        “Just doing my job!” All Might stands up. “Glad to see you’re okay. You were acting pretty strange there towards the end.”

        Izuku stiffens and his heart skips a beat, but All Might doesn’t seem to notice.

        “That’s a pretty impressive quirk you’ve got there as well. With some practice controlling it, you could make a fine hero, you know.”        

        Izuku blinks, eyes wide. He can be a hero ? All Might thinks that he can-

        All Might doesn’t know what he is , or what he’s done .

        He smiles, but it feels forced. “Th- thank you very much.” He stops, before shyly adding. “And! Uh, can I get… your autograph?”

        “Already done!” All Might winks, and then he’s gone, and Izuku’s left to drop the facade and hyperventilate until he’s borderline on Leviathan territory once again.

-----

        It takes him at least a solid ten minutes to pull himself together. He almost let the Leviathan take control. He was so close. Literal All Might showed up and saw himself almost become the Leviathan. What would he have done if he knew?

        But All Might didn’t realize, and it’s okay. It’s okay.

        The sun’s going down, he realizes, and he forces himself to stand on shaky legs. His book is on the ground in the corner, and he picks it up and clutches it like a lifeline, white-knuckled. He needs to get home. His mom’s probably worried sick.

        He heads out of the underpass a bit faster than he usually walks, but he doesn’t want to be there. It reeks of the Leviathan’s scream and the slime villain’s gunk, and he worries that if he stays there any longer, he’ll snap.

        He takes one of the more crowded roads this time, hoping the sheer number of people will bring him some sense of anonymity. It does, and it’s incredibly calming. No one pays him any mind here. They’re all too focused in their own little worlds.

        There’s less people around as he walks further, which he doesn’t really worry about. It’s getting darker. There’s bound to be less people.

        That’s when he notices the crowd of people all clustered around an alley on the opposite side of the street. There’s smoke rising from it in massive billowing clouds, and the sheer amount of noise coming from the spot suggests a villain attack.

        Izuku’s brain screeches at him to ignore it and keep walking , but before he knows what he’s doing, he’s crossed the street and is fighting his way to the front of the crowd. There’s heroes everywhere, but none of them seem to be intervening with the situation. Most are trying to combat the growing fires or just working crowd control. He twists and turns, trying desperately to see around the people around him the heroes ushering them back, but he manages to catch a glimpse.

        His world broils and shatters.