A/N: I would've just left it at Attack & Release, but I've been getting so much feedback after I finished it that I guess I couldn't keep this pair hanging so let's see where this goes. It'll be short but I hope you enjoy! (FYI: the chpt titles are based on song titles...)
11/18 - I've changed the first chapter a bit because I had pretty much written myself into a corner and had trouble continuing the following chapter in Hanji's POV. I think this one is better and I'll be able to finish. I'll be out of the country for a bit but will update again soon. So much thanks for your patience and adds!
"Well, if it rains, I don't care
Don't make no difference to me
Just take that street car that's goin' up town.."
-Black Water by The Doobie Brothers
Levi leaned out the apartment window, arms crossed against the sill, as smoke billowed from his mouth. The cigarette dangled from his fingers and he looked at the clear summer night sky full of flickering stars and swirling clouds. Corn stalks whistled in the gentle wind, squirrels and raccoons skittering through the woods as semi-trucks howled on the distant highway, basically deserted. Levi took another drag on his cigarette. God, he hated this town and the argument going on behind him was not helping his mood.
"That's not the point, Hannes!" Petra flailed her hands in the air, cheeks flushed in frustration. Levi used to find it cute, how easy it was for her to turn red over the littlest things with her strawberry blonde hair, but with the way things had turned out tonight, it simply added on to his irritancy. She looked like a tomato. "You were supposed to be there! What is wrong with you?"
The soon-to-be-ex-manager lifted his finger but suddenly belched, a deep long rumble erupting from his throat.
Oruo raised his eyebrows. "…Impressive."
Petra's eyes cut towards the guitarist, glaring daggers, and he visibly gulped. Levi snorted.
Tonight was supposed to be the band's Turning Point, as emphasized by Mike, at the Taste of Maria three-day festival. With a population of about 3,400, two clubs, one and half malls, as well as one movie theater, the town lacked much of a social scene besides the rare events that took place during the summer. What had Hannes said about booking them a spot to play in their lineup? Something along the lines of, no fucking problem! Well, they had a problem alright.
They weren't booked.
"Do you know how much of a complete moron I felt like?" Petra shook her head, wagging her finger and cocking her hip on one side. "Stepping into the booth and giving them our name only to be told that we're not on the list! We're not on the list. The list!"
Hannes smirked and lifted his hands. "Look, I said I was sorry."
"Uh…" Oruo coughed. "No you didn't."
"Oh…whelp, it's the thought that counts."
"What thought? What!" Petra shrieked and Levi's sanity almost about had it. As a drummer, he should be used to such loud noises but the lead singer's voice had reached such a pitch that his ears were going to bleed.
"Look," Mike finally spoke up as he had opted to remain quiet like Levi during the entire ordeal. He had been sitting in the corner, thinking silently on the night's events. "I think what we're all trying to say in our own words is bye Hannes."
Hannes' bushy eyebrows shot up. "Huh?"
"Yes, goodbye, Hannes."
"See you later, buddy!"
"Fuck off." Levi flicked the cigarette out the window and gave Mike a look. "What?"
The bassist chuckled and simply shook his shaggy blonde head.
Hannes wavered by the door, clearly confused as to whether he should be angry or relieved. He had been with the group for a while, booking gigs from time to time, but mostly getting drunk in between those times. The Titans had always been an iffy act, their experimental style of music opposite of mainstream, only garnered them a few followers on social media. Not including family. Honestly, Hannes was just the cherry on their train wreck of ice cream.
"Huh," he scoffed, "you think you know a guy. I mean, after all I've done for you"—
"Getting us kicked out of the high school football halftime show?" Orou crossed his pale arms. "I still can't show my face around there and I have to pick up my sister from that place!"
Hannes waved his hand, dismissing Oruo's comment like a smelly fart. "Man, I'm only one person. You wanna blame your failure on me? Sure, I'm not the world's greatest manager"—
"Yeah," said Petra, "you're the world's worst."
"Why won't anyone let me finish my"—
"No." Levi pushed himself off the windowsill and turned around. He was exhausted and the only thing bubbling in his stomach was a half-eaten greasy ass taco that he had for breakfast. How long does it take to break up with someone these days? "I know you're a bit of a dumbass since you can't seem to fully function without a bottle in one hand so let me spell this out for you: Get. The hell. Out."
Levi had taken a few steps forward and although he was significantly shorter than Hannes—about a head shorter in fact—his cold blue eyes and blank expression was enough to cause the former manager to stumble back.
He sniffed. "Whatever. You guys aren't going to make it anywhere with a wailing banshee and two-left-hands over there on the guitar."
"Hey!" Oruo reddened.
"Just calling it like I see it. You guys are a shitty band. Case in point."
"And you're a piece of shit. Case in point." Levi tilted his chin towards the door. "I assume you know what to do with that."
Hannes snorted but eventually spun around, exiting their apartment before flipping them off as the door closed on his disappearing disheveled figure.
"Well…" Oruo opened a box of cold pizza resting on the cluttered counter. "Well."
Petra screeched and stormed out of the living room, pulling off her shirt in the process as she headed towards her bedroom. The pizza slice slipped from Oruo's hands as Mike's eyebrows merely soared to the top of his forehead and Levi cleared his throat. But, they remained quiet, quite used to the scenario. There were things they knew about each other over the course of years and once they all moved in together, Petra had gotten a little too comfortable with the arrangement. Because it could be somewhat difficult to focus when a member of the opposite sex walked around in a bra and, currently, boxers.
"I'm so tired," she said returning, fiddling with a strap to a tank while she stood in the middle of the living room. "So sick and tired of all of this crap. I mean, really even though Hannes is a literal piece of shit, like—oh, Levi d'you mind? My panties are in the hamper."
They've played this game before, up and down like a rollercoaster of lingering touches, wandering hands, and messy sheets. It had been a while, though, so his eyes flicked to the dark boxers hanging loosely around her toned waist. Her airy voice may have sounded neutral, but Levi could feel her staring at him intently. Was it a sign that his clothing fit her so well?
Petra placed a hand on her hip.
Or maybe it was just a testament that he needed to gain weight.
He shrugged wordlessly and plopped on the battered stained couch, arms falling back to rest behind his head. "The guy was an asshole so problem solved. We going to move on or what?"
"Move on to what? You heard him. I mean, he thinks we suck and he's our manager. Or was." Oruo picked at the cold cheese and scowled. "Damn, shit, I don't know."
She slipped on her tank top. "What do you mean, you don't know? I mean, if you're trying to say something…but there are always other ways I guess but you're right…"
"Petra," said Levi because this clearly wasn't going to go anywhere soon, "what are you trying to say."
She took a deep breath. "I'm trying to say that there are always other ways. I mean, I used to find us gigs in the beginning, remember? I could go back and give it a try…"
"Yeah, I vote nay on that one. That gig at the petting zoo had me picking out hay from my ass for a week."
"So I guess we've come to reach…" Mike paused, briefly ignoring Petra's middle finger and Oruo's smirk, "that long and winding road. Or more like short driveway path. Alley makes more sense with our hobo-like lifestyle but"—
Levi blinked. "Is there a point to this sentence?"
"Okay, fine, but I've been thinking, and don't freak out or anything but maybe this is a sign?" He shrugged, folding his arms. "Maybe we should call it quits?"
The drummer briefly froze. The idea wasn't even that absurd or anything—hell Levi had been thinking of calling it quits on multiple occasions. In fact, he had done it but he would wind up back where he started. He hated this town but it always had the habit of pulling him back. It was like a bad dream.
Seconds passed by as Petra opened and closed her mouth wordlessly like a dying fish out of water. She closed her eyes momentarily. "You're right."
"What? What are you"—
"Mike, I'm agreeing with you!"
"You've got a point. I'm just so…" she ran her fingers through her hair and stared at the ceiling. "We've been together for years but we've been going on and on in circles. Right?"
Oruo chewed his pizza slice slowly, seemingly contemplating before he spoke. "…It would be nice to show my face at my sister's school. Or anywhere really. Hannes really screwed us over."
"Levi?" Mike tilted his head.
While he was the relatively silent type, this time around Levi had chosen silence not because he was listening intently or figuring out his expletively-chosen-words but because he was deep in thought. He was deep in thought because it seemed like he should be relieved. Damn, wasn't this what he was waiting for—a chance outside the Titans? Because, there had to be more to his life than failing to pay Mr. Pixis' rent on time. More than their usual hang out at the bowling alley and the same faces. More than what the carefully constructed town of Maria had to offer.
Levi wanted this. So, why couldn't he apparently form the words?
Petra chuckled and crossed his arms. "Of course Levi's okay with this. He's been trying to get out since day one, remember?"
While their laughter rippled throughout the small apartment, Levi shrugged, forcing a small smile to twitch the corner of his mouth. He wasn't really sure what else to do. "Sure, whatever. As long as I get to sleep on a real bed I'm fine."
But Mike had always been ever the observer—or stalker—because while Oruo and Petra went off to their rooms, chattering about a possible goodbye tour for their 20ish something fans, the bassist lingered by the hallway. Levi really didn't feel like talking so he began setting up his sheets on the couch. The apartment was the best they could afford on their meager budget of waitressing, barista-ing, and dog-sitting. So, officially, the living room was Levi's unofficial room because with only two rooms, he'd rather not share with Mike and Oruo.
God-awful snoring wasn't the best accompaniment to sleep.
He unfolded the sheets carefully, eyes focused, and fluffed out the small pillow. At least he could keep things organized here on his small shitty couch and while he usually had a hygiene regiment for before bed, a meticulous use of thirty minutes, he decided to forgo it tonight and climb under the covers regardless. Levi needed to think.
Mike leaned against the wall, somewhat hidden in the shadows while the various lights in the apartment clicked off as the other band members went to bed. "What're you thinking, Levi?"
"What…" he tucked in the sheets, "do you mean?"
"Iunno. I'm guessing you've got some secret plan you created or something. Escaping this shitty town finally, you know?"
Levi snorted because, honestly, he wasn't exactly sure what to say. Whoop-de-fucking-do?
But Mike continued to wait, for something who the hell knows, which caused Levi's skin to prickle in irritancy. He slipped off his shirt and pants until he was clad in only his boxers. Levi scowled. "How long are you planning to watch?"
"Listen, man," said Mike, a faint frown creasing his eyebrows, "you don't have to be an ass. Something's bother you—I get it." He paused. "You don't have to tell me but at least be honest with yourself."
A whatever was tossed as Levi slid under the sheets and Mike finally left. Fucking finally. He rolled onto his side, arm tucked underneath. The sliver of light faded away once Mike closed the bedroom door and Levi stared into the darkness. He was clearly annoyed but what was even more annoying was that he didn't know why. The Titans – it had always been more of a hobby, something he kind of tumbled into with people who soon became a part of his life. He almost scoffed. His life before meeting the Titans was something he definitely could not go back to.
The appliances rumbled throughout the apartment and the clock hanging in the hallway ticked softly. A shaky breath escaped from his throat. Honesty. He hadn't been honest with himself in a while. Because now, this life he had with a new family was about to end.
But, eventually, his eyes fluttered, vision blurring, until he finally slipped into the depths of sleep.