It was an extra slow day for Levi. After working late into the night, dealing with the cadets, and then the incident in the hallway, sleep eluded him until the early hours of the morning. Needless to say, he was very, very tired, and therefore very, very grumpy.
"Oi! Get up, brat!" Levi barked as he kicked the limp leg of a fallen Sasha. She let out an exhausted groan and peered up at him with pleading eyes. "Tch. If you don't get up now, then you won't be having any dinner either."
That was all it took for the girl to jump to her feet, salute him, and then continue along the track with the other fatigued cadets.
Levi returned to his spot against the stone wall, crossed his arms, and proceeded to bitterly watch the struggling cadets. He almost regretted giving them extra laps for punishment, as he had to keep an eye on them the entire time to ensure their continued co-operation, but it was much more appealing to him than paperwork in his current tired state.
The corporal sighed as he leaned his head against the wall and closed his heavy eyes. His irritation slowly began to wither away as the harmonic melody of a piano seeped into his mind and lulled his stressful thoughts. It was like a sweet lullaby that wrapped him in a gentle embrace and quenched the headache-inducing sounds of the cadets' thumping footsteps and ragged breaths. A small smile formed on his lips. He couldn't remember the last time he had felt so at peace.
Levi's eyes shot open as he broke away from the trance. He pushed off of the wall and turned to the doorway leading into the castle. The gentle melody grew louder the closer he got to the door. He placed his hand on the old, worn handle and paused. He knew there was an old piano in the following room, but he had never heard it played before, and he was quite sure that no one in the military knew how to play such an expensive instrument.
The door creaked as he slowly opened it and stepped inside. He paused for a moment, eyes blinking as he tried to adjust to the change of lighting, before turning his head in the direction of the piano. The music had stopped, and noting the lack of another person in the room, Levi's irritation only grew.
"How could they have run off so fast?" he said, gritting his teeth as he peered behind each door in the large room. No one. Besides the open piano lid, there was not a single trace of anyone else being in the area.
"Who you talking about, Shorty?" came a sudden voice from behind.
Levi sighed and scrunched his eyes shut as he felt his headache return. "What do you want, Hanji?" he questioned dully.
"I heard about what happened last night," she began.
Levi inwardly groaned. Turning around, he regarded the eccentric woman with vague distaste. "I don't give a shit about what you've heard," he replied in his monotone voice.
Hanji rolled her eyes. "Well I think you should, because something is strange..." she said, trailing off as her face contorted into a pensive frown.
"Yes, everyone has already established that you're strange, Shitty-Glasses," Levi said, crossing his arms over his chest.
Hanji ignored his comment and stared at him with intense, excited eyes. "I heard the cadets complaining about their punishment," she said.
"You're wasting my time," Levi cut in, letting a small sigh escape his thin lips.
"But that's not all!" Hanji shifted her weight between each foot and glanced at the door leading to the training field. She almost seemed to bounce on the spot as she continued to speak, "I heard them complaining about how it wasn't fair that Eren didn't get punished."
Levi shrugged. "It's their own fault. Why would I punish Eren when he wasn't even there to begin with?"
The brunette nodded her head vigorously in agreement. "I know, I know! That's exactly what I thought! But then," her brows furrowed and her voice lowered as she stepped closer to the corporal, "after Eren said he wasn't with them last night, they all looked at him like he had grown an extra head- whoa, maybe he can grow an extra head, I should test that during my next experime-"
"Oh. Right. So, yes! They all looked really surprised and they didn't believe him! Then they went on about how he was listening to the ghost stories and even argued with Jean."
Levi closed his eyes and brought a hand up to his forehead. Listening to the babbling woman was only worsening the throbbing in his skull.
"Maybe he's experiencing some memory loss. A side effect from being a titan-shifter perhaps? But you didn't see him there either, maybe it was too dark and you didn't notice..." Hanji mumbled, more to herself than Levi, as she jotted her thoughts down on a small notepad.
Levi walked passed the brunette towards the exit, stifling a yawn with his hand. "I don't care. Take it up with Erwin if you feel it's important," he said, leaving the room without a second glance.
"You're making it up."
"Am not! Guys, I'm serious. I got barely any sleep last night 'cause it wouldn't stop."
"You were probably just hyped up from all the stories, Sasha," Reiner said.
Sasha frowned and took a large bite of her bread. "I know what I heard," she said.
Christa placed a delicate hand on her friend's shoulder. "Sasha, please don't talk with your mouth full."
Said girl made an incomprehensible sound at the blonde before thickly swallowing the large bite. "I'm just soooo hungry," she whined.
Her friends grimly nodded in agreement. Dinner was going by much quicker for the teenagers due to the long day of exercise and denial of lunch.
"So what exactly did you hear?" Armin asked, bringing the conversation back on track.
Sasha frowned. "It was hard to tell. I couldn't really make out any of the words, and if I did, I've already forgotten them. It was just a bunch of echoe-y whispers in my ear."
Connie shuddered. "Creeeeeepy."
"Well, I believe you, Sasha," Jean said, surprising the girl.
Ymir scoffed. "I don't. It's all a load of crap."
"Yes it is. What did I tell you brats about believing such nonsense?"
The group silenced and stared at the corporal standing with crossed arms behind them.
Levi rolled his eyes. "Cut the crap. I don't want to hear any of you brats talking about this shit again, got it?"
"Yes, Sir," came the cadets' response.
"Good," Levi said, and then exited the dining hall.
The sun had set a long time ago, and Levi would be damned if he didn't hit the hay within the next few minutes. He quietly sighed in relief at the missing weight of papers that were in his arms moments ago. Closing the commander's office door behind him, Levi began his slow trek back to his own quarters; a faint flicker of excitement showing in his eyes at the prospect of finally satisfying his ache for sleep.
All thoughts of the long awaited sleep quickly washed away as a familiar sound trickled into his eardrums. Levi came to a complete stop in the dark hallway; feelings of dread and aggravation cascading upon him.
"Not this crap again..." he grumbled, rubbing his aching temples in an attempt to steel himself for the inevitable stress ahead.
Levi made sure to open the old wooden door as quietly as possible. The creaking hinges were muffled by the continuous stream of rhythmical notes resounding from the open room below. The corporal wasted no time in slinking towards the edge of the landing. Resting his hands on the railing, Levi leaned forward slightly and peered down at the dimly lit room.
He could see her just barely. The colours and details of her appearance were cast mostly in shadow. The closest torch on the wall did hardly anything to bring light to her features; it was almost as if the light was specifically ignoring her.
Levi took a moment to watch her deft fingers glide gracefully across the old piano keys. The melody was the same from the morning, and was even more beautiful in person. Music wasn't common outside of the inner district, especially when involving the more expensive instruments. Levi couldn't help but to appreciate the sound, as besides its pleasing tune, it was also an incredibly rare thing to have the pleasure of hearing.
The corporal didn't notice the melody had come to a finish in his state of reverie, until the shutting noise of the piano lid reached his ears. His eyes refocused on the girl below, who silently returned his gaze from where she sat on the bench.
Shaking his head to clear his foggy mind, Levi quickly descended the set of stairs to the room below. Her features became more familiar the closer he got to her.
"You're that brat from last night," he said. It wasn't a question, and her oddly calm acknowledgement of his presence only further supported his observation.
She slowly tilted her head to the side, her soft locks of (h/c) hair listlessly falling in her blank eyes. "Hello," she said, her voice surprisingly clear and neutral.
Levi flinched ever so slightly at her reaction, or rather, lack of. His grey eyes dropped downward and took in the details that made up her cadet uniform. It was strange to him to come across a cadet who wasn't intimidated by him even in the slightest.
His annoyance suddenly returned, as he remembered the reason he was there. "This is the second time I've seen you up past curfew. Explain yourself, cadet," he said, folding his arms across his chest.
A slender finger tapped the smile that spread on her lips as she hummed in contemplation. Her (e/c) eyes met the corporal's, and he could see the plain amusement dancing within. "It's much more fun to do things at night," she said in a playful voice.
Levi's eyes widened a fraction at her sudden change in demeanour. Did she just make a sexual innuendo, or was he imagining things? He rid his head of the thoughts and frowned at the girl. "Tch. I don't care if you can't sleep at night or whatever, you're not to leave your room past curfew. This is the last time you will do this, got it, brat?"
Levi narrowed his eyes. Did she just smirk? It was hard to see with the very minimal amount of light in the large room. He continued to study what he could make of her features in the dying light, before he realized something. Other than the previous night, he could not recall there ever being a time where he had seen her. Not only that, but he didn't know her name. Alarm bells started ringing in his head at the thought and his body tensed.
"What's your name, Cadet?" he questioned, eyeing her with barely hidden suspicion.
The girl moved her arms into a salute as she replied, "(First name) (Last name), Sir."
Levi only grew even more tense at her response. He couldn't recall hearing that name among the cadets either.
"Why haven't I seen you before?" he asked.
The girl's features twisted into something unreadable, before morphing into a look of confusion. "You haven't?" she quietly repeated.
"No, I have not," he gritted his teeth.
She shrugged. "I've seen you many times before. Perhaps it's because the recruits have only just joined the Survey Corps this week?"
Her words hit him like a brick. He cursed mentally at his foolishness, no doubt caused by his overworked and tired brain.
"You must still be getting used to everyone, no?" she continued.
He grunted in response and lightly nodded his head, looking away from her for a brief moment. He glared into the darkness as he inwardly seethed. How dare she make him look stupid. And how dare him for being too careless to not pick up on something so obvious right away.
"Brat," he said, snapping his head back to fully face her with his glare. "My office, tomorrow morning before breakfast. I will decide your punishment then," he barked.
She nodded her head, a small smile once again on her lips. "Yes, Sir."
Levi headed towards the exit but abruptly stopped in his tracks halfway up the stairs. He had almost forgotten to make sure that she obeyed his orders and returned to her dorm. Turning back around, his words caught in his throat as he stared at the empty room with widened eyes.
He hadn't heard any doors opening, not to mention any movement from her at all.
It was almost as if she had vanished from thin air.