Actions

Work Header

My Muse

Chapter Text

People can never quite understand anguish unless they experience it first hand. It's similar to how faith is accompanied by an unwillingness to believe in things that cannot be seen, heard, smelled, touched or tasted. Yet hypocrisy lies in human nature and the brutal way in which we crave and search for knowledge. Only when people experience anguish will they wish to have remained unaware and above all, ignorant.

Levi walked the busy streets of London, glaring intensely at the cobbled stones. He stepped this way and that with a graceful dexterity, avoiding the forming puddles with a determination that was a rarity to witness.

"Shouldn't have bought the cheapest fucking shoes. Waterproof my ass, you thieving bastard." The mutterings rose and dipped as the dark haired man narrowly avoided the oblivious passersby rushing to be out of the sprinkling rain. Levi was in a tremendously bad mood. His earnings from last nights gig had been chopped when he slammed a patron into an expensive part of the bar. The fucker deserved it for trying to feel up an unwilling woman but then the fact that he could no longer afford a new pair of shoes made him wonder if he should have intervened at all. Whenever he did anything supposedly good, karma didn't do anything to thank him. He was too fucking nice. He knew he should be thankful the bar didn’t press charges but he was no longer welcome to perform there and it was one of the nicer places. Letting out a heavy exhalation, he realised he would probably have to double his crappy shifts at McDonald’s.

“Watch it you fucking moron!” A rude man he had apparently knocked into, yelled, as he continued on his way, barging Levi out of his path. Brows wrinkled together with a comforting familiarity as his mood darkened further. He fixed his guitar bag back in place and strolled on, hunching his shoulders further inwards to help placate the evil straps from cutting craters into his skin. He probably should have left it at home, considering he was just out for a pair of shoes but he took it in a split second decision to visit the bar he trashed and apologise while offering a free performance that evening. After his purchase he aimed to visit a cheap cafe to wait for the rain to subside and gather what little courage he had to face the owner before what little daylight began to fade. Cars whizzed past, manipulating street lamps to playfully chase after them. The image resembled an oil painting with how rain clung to the vehicles vibrant colours, contrasting vividly against the drab city background. Levi gazed, entranced, the frown melting from his face to form a gentle tilt of his lips that many would find striking.

The squelching of cheap trainers, that would have been embarrassing in a quieter setting, was masked by the roar of traffic. Levi tutted in distaste at the moist feeling. Thinking back to his plan of action he realised he should probably text Hange to let them know he wouldn’t be home in time to make food. He was about to pull out his phone when the rain become more apparent, grumbling, Levi consoled himself that he’d do it at the cafe. He checked the time anyway, 16.37, his eyes widened and his legs kicked up a gear, he’d barely be able to get a coffee! Fumbling to put his crappy phone away he proceeded to slam into a human body. Levi stumbled back, grappling with his guitar case which caused his phone to topple from his hands to land with a solid thud. Levi blinked.

“What the fuck.” Levi didn’t know how to react, but it seemed he didn’t have to. The person who he’d bumped into was already crouched, picking up the phone and shakily exhaling in relief when there were no cracks to be seen.

"I'm so sorry, are you okay? It was completely my fault, I mean, who stops in the middle of the street to stare at cars, right? I'm really sorry. Here’s your phone, it’s fine, see?” Levi was numbly staring at the ground during the desperate barrage of questions but was startled when his wet phone was shoved into his face. More drained than angry Levi just wanted that fucking cup of coffee.

“It’s fine, it's a Nokia after all, no way that shit’s going to break even if you dropped it off a fucking cliff-” With the phone in his hand, all that filled his sight was the colour green. Very bright green.

“I still feel bad, I really am sorry.”

A boy, for he could barely be described as a man was shuffling his feet in a mildly awkward way. Furrowed brows and anxious emerald eyes flitted in a state of nervousness while he fiddled with a plastic shopping bag. With no umbrella and incredibly ill-suited clothes for a rainy Monday evening in March, he stood out as a peculiar individual. His brain seemed to kickstart.

“Tch, it’s fine but listen kid, try not to stop dead next time, shouldn’t you be in bed anyway.” The last part was grumbled and Levi really didn’t mean it but he was just a little pissed and a pissed Levi was a mean Levi. The young man paused his shuffling and stared him right in the eyes with a semi bewildered look, as if searching for a reasonable explanation for such a hostile reaction. Then the amiable demeanour slowly shifted to reluctant animosity.

"What's your problem?" A scowl stole over his features and Levi couldn’t help but mirror the look, he was not in the mood to be dealing with hormonal teens. A wet shudder shook his shoulders as the rain suddenly poured harder.

"Other than the fact that you need to use both eyes when walking down a busy ass street?" Levi didn’t know why he was getting so riled up, it was just a fucking kid but he could feel his blood burning hotly, he wasn’t even angry about the phone anymore but rather over the kids’ attitude. The pounding raindrops were nearly deafening. A few people here and there, unaware of anything but themselves, walked around the drenched pair blocking the pavement. The roads had quietened, excluding the occasional passing car that rivalled the sound of the rain. They stared heatedly at one another, a strange energy sparking between them, they paid it no mind but Levi couldn’t quite ignore how the water clung to the boys' eyelashes, or the fiery green eyes that burned incandescent with an unreasonable amount of rage. Levi knew he’d just make it worse.

“Fucking hell, are you even old enough to be left unsupervised? Has mummy gone missing?”

The last remark seemed to make him snap because shockingly fast, the young man swung a fist sending him stumbling backwards. Pain throbbed sweetly through his synapses like an old friend. A distant gasp from a passerby greeted his ears but he could barely hear it over the roaring of his blood. Levi’s glower became downright menacing. He hated unnecessary attention. Bringing his eyes forward, he slowly rubbed his sore chin while green eyes glinted with superiority. The roaring got louder, making his fingers twitch. Well, that wouldn't do.

His fist flew before he could process it, knocking the cocky shit off his feet and into a large puddle behind him. Satisfaction rippled through Levi before he caught sight of the brats plastic bag. Multiple eyes followed the shopping bag as it went skidding across the damp street into the path of an oncoming truck. Seconds dragged by as they all watched the truck approach at a frightening speed. Suddenly, the boy began to sprint towards the road and Levi knew from the moment that he scrambled to his feet that he wasn't going to make it. Fire raced through his veins as he ran after the stupid brat. Reaching out he grabbed his collar and yanked with a strength fuelled by fear. The truck harmlessly fluttered a few auburn locks before the force of Levi's pull dragged him backwards into strong, secure arms. The boy yelled manic protests as the contents of his bag were crushed. The truck driver sped onwards, blissfully ignorant. The boy slumped, staring at the remnants of his purchases with frozen disbelief while Levi effortlessly dragged the dead weight away from the road and a few shocked drivers. Once safe, he dropped the boy like a hot pan. The rain continued to pour.

"What the fuck is wrong with you." Levi was shaking, hand clutching his guitar bags straps in a death grip as he attempted to move them back into place. Muscles spasming with adrenaline and nerves shot, he gave himself permission to lecture the reckless kid in front of him.

"It's a fucking bag, what the fuck could have been important enough to risk your fucking life!"

“Shut up!” The boy clambered to his feet but stumbled slightly towards the road and Levi's instant reaction was to reach for him again. A hand slapped his away, cracking their knuckles together in a painful collision which caused Levi to swear through gritted teeth. Furious green eyes distracted him from the pain.

“You don’t know anything!” He screamed with a ferocity that made Levi hesitate, stunned, making the initial anger and fear dissipate to a bone deep weariness.

"I know you would have been flatter than a fucking pancake if I hadn't dragged your stupid ass away from that truck.” Levi said with the intention of being placating but the statement simply did the opposite.

“You have no fucking right to lecture me when it’s your own fault in the first place! What do you expect me to say? Thanks!?” His deep, heavy breathing seemed to be the only thing keeping him calm enough to keep his fists to himself. Levi felt shame creeping along his cheeks, that was exactly what he expected. The young man seemed to assume so if the disgust in his eyes was anything to go by. Levi was just about to utter a quiet but heartfelt apology when a jolly ringtone interrupted him. The brat didn’t spare him a second glance when he caught sight of the caller ID, walking a fair distance away to stand beneath a little overhang from a closed charity shop.

Levi continued to stand in the rain, stumped and feeling a little lost as to what to do next. He was unsure whether to carry on with his plan and visit the bar. Checking his phone he realised he missed all cafe opening hours so there would be no courage gathering available. Maybe he should just go home and hide away rather than try to make amends with a stranger. The sky was becoming more overcast by the minute and Levi sighed, ruffling his soaked hair he winced as his hands brushed his bruised face. Slowly, he made his way over to the brat who was speaking hushedly into a phone that looked just as cheap as his. The kid glanced his way before hurriedly finishing whatever he was saying and ending the call. A dark glare was thrown his way before he turned, undoubtedly to walk away but he paused as Levi spoke.

“Hey, I’m sorry.” He remained facing the street, which Levi would have found insulting if he had any energy left, the adrenaline spike left him with what felt like a sugar crash.

"For being a dick I mean, not that you helped much. Who'd of thought a puny thing like you would swing first.” His jaw snapped shut when he realised the tired ramblings coming out of his mouth. So much for apologising. It probably seemed like he was trying to further antagonise him, the thought made him cringe, his jaw already ached. Levi rubbed his face in remembrance as well as in mild annoyance at himself. The kid still hadn't turned around, nor had he left, but his tense shoulders gave away his irritation. Levi had best get going, but he threw a line over his shoulder as he passed the rigid form in an attempt to humanise himself.

“The name’s Levi by the way, sorry again.”

“Eren.” Levi paused in his steps. The rain was far too loud for a whisper to be heard. His trainers squelched as he faced the boy once more who was now staring at the wet tarmac. The shiner he’d given him stood out against his tan skin. Unsure as to whether he had heard anything, Levi opened his lips to ask but was cut off.

“Look, thanks for saving me but if you hadn’t been so much of a dick as you best put it you wouldn’t have had to do so and I would have still had those fucking meds." With that, the boy stiffly walked past him and into the rain that had become a light drizzle, he didn’t look back and Levi blankly watched him retreat before he disappeared behind a corner. Levi felt like the worst fucking piece of shit, it was probably for a sick family member and he had just caused more financial strain for the obviously struggling kid. God he just wanted to melt into the ground. Thoroughly ashamed, he began a solemn walking pace back to his home. There was no way he was in any state to grovel at the bar managers’ feet, he’d rather just climb into bed and berate himself for the rest of the night and his day off. More than anything, Levi felt despair. He thought he’d learned from his mistakes.

Chapter Text

Emotions are complicated things. They can make the most cowardice person a soldier and the most selfish person a humanitarian. Like a flip of a coin however, they can also bring out the nastiest, ugliest and most vile parts of humanity. This balance is one that humans have tried to perfect since the dawn of time. Still, the closer mankind seem to get, the further away from good we walk and the longer we fall. So the question is, are the good things enough to ignore the bad?

The walk back was abysmal. It might have stopped raining but the wind chill made it brisk, add to the equation his soaked clothes and he was freezing his fucking balls off. As he approached the rundown apartments, Levi realised he never actually texted Hange, being so caught up in, well, being a dick. Groaning in remembrance as well as his lack of foresight, he reasoned that it was unlikely the med-student would be out of the hospital this early in the evening anyway. Levi gritted his teeth against a particularly harsh wind that seemed to sweep through his soul as he gradually ascended the grimy metal stairs. Testing the handle it appeared to be as locked as he left it. He fumbled with his keys as the wind whipped his hair like an overzealous puppy while he stood shivering. His fingers had lost all sensory input. Grasping the keys in a death grip he fought with the rickety front door, after a particularly hard shove the door happily gave way, nearly sending him tumbling. Levi glared at the overgrown plank, he’d swear it was mocking him.

He slammed the door behind him and shuffled into the dingy rented flat. Flicking on the hallway light, he carefully put down his guitar case to lean against the peeling wallpaper and meticulously scraped off god knows what had decided to host a party on the bottom of his shoes. Placing them side by side next to Walace the Wilting Plant (Hange refused to get rid of it) he began to strip off his sopping wet coat. Levi really didn’t want to hang it with everything else so he gave up caring and just dropped it on the worn welcome matt. He promised his bacteriophobia that he’d wash it twice. Still shivering from the damp clothes he reasoned why not take them all off, he didn’t particularly want the extra work of mopping the floor and he was going to shower anyway. Peeling off his white collared shirt, he dropped it onto the coat, the same went for his black jeans. He briefly wondered where his brown striped cat was, no doubt napping the day away. Stood in a pair of briefs, the coolness of the flat sent shudders crawling across his bare body as he rushed to the bathroom down the hall, his feet padding a soft rhythm against the wooden floor.
Once there, he flicked the switch on the wall and proceeded to lock the bathroom door, too many times he’d been walked in on by Hange because of an ‘emergency’. More like “Are bottle caps recyclable and if so how do I recycle them?” Rolling his eyes in remembrance, a fond smile (which he’d deny), delicately painted his thin lips. Pushing down his last layer and placing it in the laundry basket, he stepped into the pristine tub and turned on the shower, dodging the freezing spray in a routine manner. Hesitantly testing the temperature, he was content to find it scalding and moved into the powered water that beat his body in the best kind of way.

Levi melted underneath the heat, rolling his muscles under the burning water that caressed his skin like an eager lover. It lovingly rolled over the taut tendons in his neck and shoulders, gliding down his defined back that dipped gracefully inwards in an enticing curve. Over strong arms and softened abs before slipping between his most intimate areas with adoration. In his incubation state, images from the day unwillingly glided through his mind, reminding himself of a boy with jade eyes. Gone was the tranquil mindset and a shame strong enough to wind him made itself known. Levi hadn’t felt guilt this heavy in a long time. He’d always hated feeling this way, and so avoided human interaction for years out of the fear that he would disappoint or somehow wrong others, but unfortunately, the bitch that fate was it had happened anyway despite his best attempts. He didn’t know what he’d do if he ever saw him again, it was unlikely but Levi liked to think he could make it up to the kid somehow. Not that he had any money himself but he could probably call in a medicine favour from Hange. Despite the wishful thinking a weary sigh escaped his lips, his breath mingling with the steam as his self-hatred mounted. Another unbidden thought appeared at the corner of his sombre mind but he squashed it before he could process it, flushed, he quickly finished his shower. Once suds free, he turned the shower off abruptly and went to grab his towel from the railing to wrap it around his hips. It took a couple moments of grasping bare metal until he computed that the towel was not were it should be. Levi was done.

"Fucking four eyes! Screw it." Levi grabbed the hand towel to cover his modesty and stomped across the bathroom, slamming the door into the wall with a very personal aggression, he was on his way to scream into his bedsheets when he caught sight of a face peeking out from the living room, all smiles and unbothered by his undressed state. He gritted his teeth in embarrassment, was he really that distracted by his issues that he didn't hear the front door open? It’s not like the squealing hinges were quiet.

“Hey Levi! I borrowed your towel this morning because Biscuit knocked over some of my homemade lotions, I think she’s still sulking in your room.” Rolling his eyes skyward, he tried his hardest not to snap. His emotionally exhausted default seemed to be murderous anger. Hange must have had an inkling of intuition because their smile slowly dropped, coming forward with hesitant steps but stopped at what they thought to be a safe distance away from an angry Levi.

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to handwash it three times!” They assured enthusiastically, reaching out to pat the grumpy man on the shoulder. He avoided it before contact was made and Hange’s positive disposition vanished like wisps of smoke and a stony look was left in its place.

“Levi, what’s wrong? You haven't avoided physical contact in years. Are you really that angry at me? I’m sorry but there wasn’t really anything else to clean up the mess. Or did something happen?” Hange’s concern was far more off putting than their usual care-free manner and he just wanted a sense of normalcy to end the day so Levi did something which he did often enough to feel bad about, he brushed them off.

“It’s fine Hange, I’m fine, just tired.” The doubtful look almost made him crack but he remained standing and after another moment Hange conceded with pursed lips.

“Okay then, do you want me to cook tonight? Or how about I order in pizza!” Levi's lips twitched, Hange was back. Yet he knew he wouldn’t be able to stomach the thought of food, or an evening of pretending like he was fine.

“It’s okay. Order something for yourself, I ate earlier.” The doubt resurfaced but Hange smothered the worry, if Levi wanted to tell, he would. Shrugging, they threw a ‘Suit yourself!’ over their shoulder and disappeared into the living room to undoubtedly visit the adjoined kitchen for some instant noodles despite Levi's suggestion. They certainly lived like a student. Alone in the hallway, the gloomy street lights that shined through the front door’s frosted window appeared to creep along the beige walls. Unnerved, Levi clutched the hand towel against him and quickly went to collect his guitar from the doorway, conscious of giving Hange an eyeful, before rushing into his bedroom as if to escape the shadows. Shutting the door, he discarded the hand towel and grabbed a fresh pair of briefs from the clean clothes he had yet to put away. He fumbled a bit to get them on as he walked the last couple of steps, he then collapsed on the single bed face first. He laid there for a long moment just not having the energy to exist before a small weight joined him near his pillow. Whiskers tickled his neck.

“Hey Biscuit, I heard you had a rough day too.” He heard a soft meow in agreement and Levi glanced at her with tired amusement, Biscuit was demanding to be petted.

“Yeah, yeah, I need comforting too.” His voice fell to a whisper at the end, his amusement deflating to leave him empty once again. He ran his thumb in a repeated motion over her head and gently scratched behind her ears. Soft purring vibrated through his fingers, relaxing Levi slightly, that was until Biscuit got bored with the attention and leapt off the bed without a goodbye.

“Spoilt cat.” He grumbled as she swaggered her way to the food bowl. The bed sheets rustled gently under his body as he rolled over to take in the four drab walls covered with music scores that protected his solitude. His gaze drifted over to the tiny window next to his bed that shone a soft but ill light, illuminating his sanctuary. There was one small framed picture standing strong but alone on a cheap and sparse desk below the window. It was a tattered child's drawing of a woman with dark hair and a boy and a girl holding the lady's hands with large smiles on their faces. Levi turned his face away from the past to look out the window once more. He watched the street lamps in the distance dance across the dark clouds in simple appreciation. When he was younger he wanted to be a painter. Sometimes Levi still wished he was a painter instead of a musician. He craved the ability to capture moving scenes in a frozen moment, forever timeless. Such art was the only thing he ever found truly magical.
Unfortunately, opportunity was an absent figure in most of his childhood and Levi grew up with his imagination being shunned instead of nurtured. Finding that crappy guitar, fixing it and learning to play through trial and error was the best thing he ever did. He perfected his music theory later in life, only able to buy the books when he started making money by busking on the dirty streets of Hackney. The world is a horrible place, only kind to those who show potential to succeed. That boy had made him think of a time long past. He felt a kindred connection despite his initial hostility and he recognised the meagre second-hand clothes, cheap shopping bag and tired smile for what they were. Not that he could do anything about it, hell, he’d probably just make things worse. Like the medicine. Squeezing his eyes in frustration, he let out a self-deprecating laugh. It was funny how being surrounded by lowlifes, thieves and all things dirty made him want to help, fix and mend the broken. Of course, with age comes cynicism and childish optimism fades into a detached outlook on life. In short, Levi had given up, and yet the boy obviously hadn’t. He was still going strong, still trying, still fighting. Such youthful determination in a rotting world was awe-inspiring. The chance of seeing such strength of character again would be low, people just didn’t have the willpower or inspiration to-

Levi heard a single note echo through his mind. That single note formed into two, then four, then eight. Multiplying like an organism attempting to make a life. Levi’s eyes shot open. He stumbled out of bed towards his manuscript book and guitar, tripping over the towel in his haste, he grabbed onto the frail stool beside the desk to halt his tumble. His fingers grasped the feeble jar of stationary, searching for a pencil with a clawing desperation, accidentally knocking them across the desk. Heavy breaths filled the stillness of the impatient room that was slowly closing in on him. Fumbling with the lone pencil he wrote down the notes that danced through his mind with the frenzy of a man trying to hold onto the sun’s light as it slips below the horizon. Levi notated for hours, never breaking from his trance. During his semi-aware state of hysteria, a revelation came to him. Finally pausing his pencil movements, he stared at his finished scores. Wide eyes took in the music he didn’t remember creating. Sharp exhales shook Levi’s soul as his eyes flickered across the octave leaps, accented passing notes and chromaticism with reverence.

Levi had finally found his Muse.

Chapter Text

There is no such thing that hardens a wrought spirit like hope. It the magic that can combine a nation through simple belief alone, inspiring millions of people to follow an idea in the hope of a better world. It can change a person's mind and body by pushing them past what they thought were their limits to something beyond that. It is what maintains the will of those who don’t see a reason to continue living, and it is this uplifting commodity that creates a scar unlike any other when it fades. Hope is the last thing that keeps determination afloat and so it makes sense that the fall would be damaging beyond visual comprehension.

A month had passed since the night when Levi's outlook on life had changed. It was a small shift in his mental processing that he wasn’t fully aware of, all he knew at the time was that the world appeared minutely brighter than the one he’d come to know and expect. He had woken up the next morning to early sunlight curling through the room. The warmth of the sun was accompanied by a fuzzy and overwhelming sense of peace that made him roll and stretch in contentment as he wriggled his toes and admired the feeling of fresh linen. It was a feeling he hadn't known in a long time. He'd laid there for an indefinite amount of time, with biscuit tucked into his side, for once enjoying life while he listened to the muffled world outside his window as it slowly began to wake.

Levi had recalled the way in which he'd notated the night before, exhibiting the same desperate savagery as Kandata had when grasping that spider's thread. Even so, in the morning light of new chances and even newer beginnings, a smile swept across Levi's face as he rediscovered his music scores splayed across the desk. Exhilaration bubbled through his chest as his feet struggled to stay still with the need to do something productive. A new beginning indeed. All thanks to an obscure spark of inspiration, some part of him believed it to be because of the kid who he still didn't know the name of but Levi liked to believe it was just his own motivation making a long awaited appearance.

It was naively foolish of him to think things would get better. After a month he still wasn't getting anywhere. He'd composed and composed, creating five more songs all made from the same inspiration from that night. He clung to the new found insight with ripped fingernails and calloused skin but with the cacophony of ticks from incessant clocks and nothing to validate his hard work the encouragement began to dim along with the memories of what caused his creativity. Levi hated the apparent dependency. He wanted to be capable of using his own mind to make art but his muse lived in whatever happened that day and unfortunately, he couldn't seem to control what sparked his creativity. Though it didn't stop him from being disgusted by his lack of mental independence.

Levi was honestly beginning to think he was going through an early mid-life crisis, which was causing him to have bouts of petulant mopiness. A drastic change in thinking, a loss of interest in things he was fine with before and an unwilling infatuation with a vastly younger man seemed to tick all the boxes. Even Hange was beginning to notice his increased moodiness despite their late nights at the local hospital. Truthfully, it was quite endearing, they tried to cut back on their hours and make sure he was eating something substantial instead of his one meal a day nightly take outs fuelled by self-pity. It was something he really couldn't afford to continue purchasing but cooking was just too mentally taxing. Yet the fact that Hange had to be there to pick up his broken mess of a self at the cost of their education threw in a lovely cocktail of self-hate and guilt to his already fragile mental state, which halted his appetite altogether. It was about a week in when Levi found the deep bags and shallow cheeks harder to ignore. He started to dread reflective surfaces.

Overall, that night might have been a pivoting point in his life but things refused to look upwards. So with this dejected mentality, Levi did his every day five days a week repetition of approaching upcoming or new bars in town, performing in said bars at night for a few hours with bad pay (he didn’t dare charge them higher) and occasionally working shifts at McDonald's if they got crowded. He didn't get called in very often because his face scared away the customers. He was losing his purpose in life after the many years it took to find one and he didn't know what to do about it.

Levi sighed in an effort to expel the emptiness that was slowly becoming as deadly as the worst disease. He was collecting the precious equipment that was scattered across the floor of his bedroom that he'd need for tonight's gig, why the bar didn't have a sound system he'd never know. The process was tiring but meticulous and oddly calming in a numbing sort of way. Finally picking up his guitar from beside his desk, he caressed it with fond fingers and warm eyes. He ran a thumb across the strings, strumming them gently in an attempt to draw strength for another hard night and an even harder crowd. His fingers paused above the instrument as he caught sight of his reflection in the wardrobe mirror.

Had he always looked so, defeated?

Hiding under crumpled brows and black hair, weary grey eyes that had been cruelly aged by the world's injustices stared back. Hange was right, he did look unhealthy. Firm muscles once strong were fading from his lack of exercise and his weathered but youthful face was turning into a shade reminiscent of snow. Despite the crisp white shirt hidden beneath a dark blazer, black trousers and fancy, although worn, shoes he adorned, they couldn't draw attention away from the despondent slump of his wiry shoulders. When had doing anything become a chore? He passed a hand through limp hair and watched as it fell lifelessly from his fingers. He exhaled shakily as an unfamiliar emotion squeezed his lungs, leaving him unable to take a deep breath. Tearing his eyes away from the pitiful sight he speedily picked up his rucksack of equipment and flung it over a shoulder. Placing his life long companion into its guitar case, he strode out the bedroom door and down the hall until he heard Biscuit’s paws padding against the wooden floor.

“When did you start following me, huh?” He asked, slightly bewildered as Biscuit carded herself through his legs, tail high in a question mark. He’d had her for just under a year and she’d always been an aloof little lady, only following when food was involved so this was new. He crouched carefully, holding out his hand to test the waters only to be head butted, vibrations travelled up his arm at her noisy purring. Chuckling at the unexpected affection, he stroked his hand across her body and playfully up her tail.

“I’ll see you later Biscuit, take care of Hange while I’m gone.” Strangely enough she seemed to heed his remark and trotted off into the living room to probably join Hange on their day off.
He felt calmer which he was thankful for, now he just had to survive the night.

"Be back later Hange." Levi announced his goodbye, not too bothered about being heard. It would honestly be easier for both of them if Hange didn’t notice his absence but he voiced his departure out of courtesy. An orchestral movement of noises caused Levi to jolt, swiftly turning his head in surprise to catch messy brown hair appearing from the living room.

“Hey wait! I was about to make some pasta, couldn’t you be fashionably late?” They looked a tad frazzled, they were obviously in the middle of something and not about to ‘make some pasta’ but he kept his observations to himself.

“I have to go before eight to set up, it’s the place that doesn’t have a sound system.” He attempted to placate the med-student, after all, he really wasn’t hungry. He didn’t need mothering and he could tell if he felt unwell, he wasn’t that stubborn. Hange just looked disappointed.

“Levi, you haven't had a proper meal since Wednesday night.” He felt guilty, of course he did, for making them worry and essentially forcing them to take care of him because they were a fucking medical student for fuck’s sake and that’s their job but he was also getting frustrated. He didn’t need the help.

“It’s Saturday. I know that you've been really fatigued and I’m worried about your blood sugars.” They’d crossed their arms with a palpable nervousness but were unwilling to back down this time. It seemed that he had pushed them past their point of silence, it gave him a sick sense of satisfaction.

“Levi, for the love of God have a banana or something.” His lack of reaction was only making them more exasperated. Facing the door, he attempted to keep his own irritation in check, there was no reason to blow up at Hange for being a friend. He just had a lot of issues which he’d prefer to deal with privately and apparently Hange had a problem with that, despite knowing very well how he tended to cope. He took steady breaths and went through possible options on how he could swerve the likely confrontation, he really couldn’t be doing this right now.

“Hange-”

“No, no you’re not doing this again. I’m sick of being your caretaker because you’re not mentally well enough to do anything. Which is fine, I was fine with that but you’re not even trying to get better. At least try!” An ugly feeling ricocheted in his stomach with every harsh syllable. His grip on the door handle tightened to a strength he wasn’t conscious of as he fought with the sharpness that danced on his tongue, eager to sliver free. Spite curled darkly around his next words.

“I’ll try to be back by eleven, maybe.” He ripped the door open, passing the threshold of their rundown apartment and slamming the door behind him, unaware of the indents he left on the inner door’s handle. He took a few quick steps to the inadvertent metal balcony and leaned heavily over the edge, needing to escape the shadows in his head. He gazed down with eyes full of turbulence at the lit street lamps shining halos across the dark street. The wind brushed his face and stroked his hair in greeting, like a mother asking where her child had been all day. Levi let his eyes slip shut as he simply breathed and the pressure constricting his chest eased a little in the company of mother nature. Wanting more of that fleeting reassurance he tilted further and further until his bag of equipment began to slide haltingly up his back. He leaned backwards before gravity could claim him, feeling like he did so too soon, his whirling thoughts weren’t any quieter and he wasn’t remotely close to being calm.

Levi exhaled heavily as he aimed to rid the lingering anger that throbbed lazily under his skin. He knew this would happen, that his sorry state would make their patience snap, but despite predicting this for weeks it was never enough to shock him out of the pit he’d spiralled into. He doubted anything would at this point, all he could do was make sure nothing else influenced his fragile mindset for the rest of the evening. Tonight he was going to be polite and courteous to the manager and the patrons; nothing would piss him off or affect him in any way. With a determination he didn’t feel holding his shoulders higher than his recent slump he made his way down the stairs that clunked under his weight.

He was half right at least, no one pissed him off.