These theories were calculating nothing but tedium. Historia needed—no, deserved a fucking break.
She flicked the blue pen to her lilac comforter, watched it bounce. Stretched her arms above her head, rolled her shoulders, neck. Her brain ached, the beginnings of a headache throbbing dully in her skull. The relief in her back would be so much sweeter if she never had to lay eyes on fractions ever again.
She wrenched her phone out of the drawer of her nightstand, glancing at the time. Historia wanted to scream. It's not like anybody would've heard her, anyway. The last little birdie in the Reiss family nest left over an hour ago, scurrying off to the club with a group of friends.
One. Whole. Hour. Ago.
She hadn't even gotten through one page. Her phone was on silent. No TV. No music. No distractions of any kind. And yet...
Historia rubbed her forehead. All this misery was definitely karma for all the times she paid Ymir to do her homework back in high school. At this rate, she'd happily do it again as long as it meant never having to pick apart these theories ever again. She slammed the textbook shut, and hauled the heavy thing to her nightstand. I can't look at it anymore, she thought miserably. And there's still so much to get through before Tuesday.
She fell onto her back, groaning, her eyes sliding closed. I really should've gone with Florian. Florian even rolled her eyes when Historia declined her uncharacteristically nice invite. Her short-term shock backpedaled when Florian asked if she could borrow the Nine West pumps with the mesh stitching for the night. With Florian, there was always a catch. Historia sighed, massaging her temples. But, man, it's been such a long time. Why does being a full time college student suck so much? There's no fun in anything.
Jamming her feet into her slippers, Historia dwindled down the staircase, swerved through the foyer, to the hallway. Now that all the Reiss siblings were old enough, Dad could probably get a smaller place like he always wanted. God knows Historia and Florian were ready to leave. But neither of them had the means, and they sure as hell didn't want to ask Dad to pay for their place. But, honestly? She wasn't too keen on sharing a space with her sister. Not that she didn't love Florian or anything like that, it's just she liked the eerie silence of an empty house that would creep everyone else out. Florian trampled on that.
Feeling around for the kitchen light, and squinting in preparation for the inevitable brightness. Her phone vibrated in her pajama pocket. At first, she thought it was an alarm she set earlier in the day and forgot about. But it was a call. Historia's brows rose curiously.
"Che, you busy?" Annie Leonhart barreled straight to it, her voice a lower than usual.
The glow of the phone helped her find the switch, clicking it on. "Have I ever mentioned how Microeconomics can eat my entire ass?" Historia greeted, pressing Speaker, leaving her phone on the kitchen island.
"Unfortunately." She responded roughly. Let out a sharp, harsh breath. "But I'll take it you're busy—"
"No, no, Annie. It's fine," Historia paused at the utensil drawer, drumming her manicured blue nails on the marble counter. Did she want a spoonful of peanut butter or real food? "I'm taking a break. Not sure if I wanna go to sleep after this or keep trying. I just might keep trying."
"Nerd," She breathed. The song murmuring in the background sounded familiar. Ever since Latin trap blew up, it was all Annie could listen to. "It's not even eleven."
"Ugh. I wish." Historia shoved the fridge open, her eyes darting from the bottom drawer stuffed with vegetables to the stack of leftovers on the shelves from Abel's birthday dinner a few nights ago. "If I was, I wouldn't be taking this for the. Second. Time. And I'd be at, like, MIT—or some other Ivy League school."
"Calmate, Historia," She sighed in relief. "You know what to expect this time."
"That doesn't make it any easier!"
She could practically feel Annie's eye roll. "Have you considered switching to drama?" She let out a deep exhale that sounded oddly satisfying.
Historia scoffed, pulling out Abel's fettuccine alfredo. She even wrote her name on the box. Oh, well. It'd been in there for too long as far as Historia was concerned. And—maybe it's science—but something about stealing your siblings' food always made it taste better. "Just because I went to a magnet school doesn't make me an expert in all things art and creativity."
"Hmm..." Annie pondered. "Guess you got a point there…"
"... Annie? Are you..." Her brows furrowed. How did she also not hear that very loud whirring in the background, the indistinct talking? "Wait. Are you really working out? Again?"
"I just started." Annie replied. Chuckled. "Did you really think I called you in the middle of—"
"No!" Historia denied hotly.
Annie laughed her strange, girly laugh. "You wish you were that special, malcriada."
"What. Ever. Bitch," Historia rolled her eyes, ripped a paper towel from the rack, balled it in her fist. Under the faucet, she let the water soften it; squeezed out any excess water. "I saw what you posted on IG earlier. You shouldn't be—"
"If you paid attention—" Annie interjected. Historia could hear the thunderclaps that were her pounding feet, erratic against the music. "—it was about the importance of warming up first thing in the morning even if you're not working out today."
Historia unclasped the lid and, God. It smelled so good already—her stomach singing with the promise. "And you worked out yesterday, too—right?"
She fished out a fork from the drawer, unsticking the clumps of noodles. "And the day before? All the way back to Monday?"
"And when was the last time you properly rested?"
"Volá," Annie muttered gruffly, caught. "I'm fine. Stop acting like my mother."
Historia grinned. "Don't forget to drink plenty of water. You need to keep your mind hydrated!"
"Follow your own advice." The treadmill gradually slowed to a stop, Annie steadying her breathing. "What about medicine?"
"Nah." Historia draped the damp towel on top, slid it into the microwave, set the time. Hauled herself onto the counter, kicked her feet aimlessly. "Being a doctor's always been Frieda's thing."
"I didn't say you had to be a doctor—but, so what?" Annie insisted. "Nothing wrong with two family members in the same field."
She was right. And Frieda wasn't the type of person to let a petty thing like that get under her skin. Dirk was proof of that, fresh out of school with his Doctoral in Mechanical Engineering. Their father would probably love the idea too. It was a real job—a well paying job.
"You're right," Historia confessed, twisting her lips, laying her head on the cool, wooden cabinet door behind her. "But I don't care about medicine."
"Yeah, I know. You wanna to be a teacher."
Historia shrugged though Annie couldn't see. In her own way, Annie was all for the switch. Even Frieda approved and promised to be right there to bark back at their father's inevitable fury. A business degree really doesn't suit you, Frieda always repeated whenever school was their topic of discussion. He never had to say—and she hadn't told him yet—but she knew Dad wouldn't like the idea. Teachers don't get paid enough, she knew that. But it wasn't about the money. She had plenty of that.
She shook her head lightly, clearing the image of her father's disappointed eyes. "Annie, you gotta take it down a notch."
"Staying in shape was part of my major, you know."
Historia rolled her eyes. "Yes, I know, gym-rat. Doesn't change anything."
Annie scoffed. "I won't end up like some high school gym teacher."
"You weren't even going to school to be an educator in the first place!" She retorted.
"True, but I don't mind teaching people—so long as they're not kids. Can't say I have an affinity for children like you do."
Historia bit her lip. This talk of staying in shape, and of a past venture in school, and she could only think of... "How's your dad?" She asked softly, blurting it right out. She grimaced. Maybe Annie wouldn't hear it. "Is he doing okay?"
"So far." Annie replied stiffly after an infinite moment. And that was that.
Historia wouldn't press further. She hadn't found out until recently—through Sasha Blouse, one of their mutual friends—that the reason she withdrew so suddenly was because of her father. He'd suffered a stroke during her summer semester. And with no one to look after his gym, much less him, it all fell on Annie. She didn't seem like she minded.
"So." Annie changed the subject—for once. "You got any plans for Halloween? There's gonna be a party. It's why I called."
Historia's face lit up in a grin, kicking her feet excitedly. "I knew it was only a matter of time before you came around to me, Annie!"
She muttered something in Spanish Historia couldn't entirely catch. Something about shit and again with stop fucking around. It sounded so funny whenever Annie said things in that derisive tone of hers. "Just... gross, Historia."
"Hey!" The grin slipped into a deep frown. "What's that supposed to mean? Most people would say I'm a goddess!" Well, that was back in high school.
"And God knows we both need to get laid," She said. "But I don't like you that way."
"... Not even a little?" Historia tried.
"Nope." Annie popped the 'p'. "You know gringas aren't my type."
"But... you still think I'm cute, right?"
"I'm not gonna give that an actual response, enana."
Historia frowned at the nickname, opening the microwave before it could beep. Dwarf. Never mind the two of them were practically the same height. "Gimme the details about this party."
She hadn't realized until now—between the heat and the smell beginning to waft through the vacant space—that she'd last eaten at noon. A cheese Danish. Before that, a Starbucks caramel frappuccino with extra caramel. Perfectly healthy, perfectly reasonable. When she was a dancer, these little sweets were a luxury. Historia removed the moist towel, mixed the noodles. The bottom was still a little cold. She cloaked it once more, and slid it back into the microwave.
Annie had been silent for so long, and Historia was so excited to eat, her sudden answer startled her. "It's Jean's party."
She jumped. "What—"
"You wouldn't know him, but you still talk to Sasha, right?" Annie continued before she could answer. "We went to school with him. Rich kid, like you. Currently in an Ivy League school. Used to throw these crazy parties whenever his parents went out of town." She paused. Breathed. "I really wanna go."
"So…" Historia wasn't sure what to say, leaning on the counter with her elbow propped. "... Go, then?"
"I—unfortunately—have this thing called loyalty… and I wouldn't feel… right going without you…"
For a girl who had no problem kicking someone's teeth in, Annie was so easily flustered when it came to these little things called feelings. "... You sure you're not coming on to me?"
"Cállate." She snapped.
The microwave shrieked. Historia pulled the steaming hot plate with a rag from the rack, dashing to the island and plopping onto the stool closest to her phone. "But what about Sasha? She's not going?"
"Oh, she's going. She said she'll come with us—thanks." Metal clanked on the other end. She must've been on the bench press, someone spotting her. "You think that gringa would miss an opportunity to get white-girl wasted?"
"I'm white, too." She swallowed the mouthful. "What're you trying to say?"
"That this is perfect for you," Annie replied earnestly. "You'll fit right in with our friends, too. You've met a few of them but you haven't seen us all together."
Historia chewed on her lip, twirling the noodles mindlessly. The only two she'd met were Sasha and... She didn't feel all that hungry anymore despite her gurgling stomach and how good this tasted too. There's gotta be some catch. But Annie's not like that, never any double meaning to her words. Overthinking seemed to be all Historia was capable of since college gobbled up her life. Funny, considering how she failed Microeconomics. Twice. Not that she was counting. Seems no amount of overthinking could save her there.
"I'll take your silence as a yes?"
Historia munched thoughtfully, swallowed. Blew a flyaway strand of her hair. "I dunno, Annie. I'll think about it."
"No, you're going." Annie said with finality. "You need this as much as I do. By the way, are you eating carbs? Again? How many times do I gotta tell you that you can't eat pasta every day—"
Historia reached over, finger hovering over the option. "I'm hanging up."
"Me first!" Annie was true to her word.
Historia sighed, picked up her phone, browsed through Instagram. Tried to savor the rest of Abel's food as much as her mind would allow. It wasn't that she had plans for Halloween. Of course she had none. And knowing her sisters—with the exception of Frieda—they'd get invited out too. Knowing herself, she might get stuck with some whack-ass homework and chapter readings. But pesky assignments weren't the only thing that worried her.
What if the rest of Annie's friends didn't like her? She wasn't used to not being liked by her peers.
At least Sasha likes me, Historia thought certainly, lingering on Sasha's recent video post. They during the first fall semester but Historia hadn't seen much of her since. Only knew she was still around through social media and the occasional text. In the video, Sasha was chugging back a beer like a pro, these loud-ass guys cheering her on. Historia grinned. It was easy to like Sasha, she was insanely cute and funny. She was going to become a veterinary technician. And Historia always found herself wondering how on God's green Earth that happy puppy was friends with such a surly cat like Annie.
Her smile withered when she came across a certain username. She was positive Eren Yeager didn't like her.
Not sure why, when they'd been nothing but cordial to each other—because, man, was it fucking weird how they kept picking the same classes for the same times. She hadn't even known they were friends until he showed up to her house to help with one of Annie's assignments. Historia didn't think him much either, so maybe the distaste was mutual. The guy was loud, overly annoying. Forro, Annie's nickname for him. It's sad that such a handsome face and body are wasted on him. And how he was also friends with Annie, Historia didn't understand either. How did these weirdo's find Annie? Or... Maybe Annie likes being friends with weirdos? It must make her feel... normal.
Historia wasn't even sure how or why or when her and Eren followed each other on Instagram. She also wasn't sure why she was expecting something different whenever she clicked on his bare profile. It was devoid of anything remotely entertaining. Barely any info on him, other than he likes to think he's some esteemed photographer. And now that she was bored—and a little envious of the attention under Frieda's post about being stuck at work—she noticed Eren liked most of her posts ever since they started following each other.
Whatever, Historia shook her head, sighing, exited and left a comment under Frieda's post, doesn't mean anything. She moved on.
She decided to post a photo of her half empty plate, tagging Abel. Then, she sent her father a text. Might as well tell him now. By the time she finished her plate, her phone was blowing up with dozens of angry replies from Abel. A few likes. A comment from Frieda. Another from Annie. And still nothing from her father.
He was usually quick to respond. Not much crime happened in Sheena. Being Chief of Police meant barking at the rookies for their incompetence over office procedures, and their false dreams of being heroes, budget cuts, and the occasional lunch with the mayor. She hit Call.
Rod Reiss picked up after the second ring, his tone curt and to the point—and a slightly irritated. "I'll call you back when I get to the station."
"Wait, Dad! I promise it'll be quick!"
He was silent, thoughtful. "If Florian isn't home by midnight, she's grounded for two weeks."
"Dad, you can't keep doing this—she's nineteen." Historia stressed. Still, she silently and inconspicuously shot her a text. Dad's onto you. Not that Florian would care. Florian lived to make Dad mad. Like, all the time. Shocking she hadn't posted anything on Instagram about the club. Yet. Bet her Snapchat's flooded.
"And?" He probed. "You girls still live under my roof."
"This conversation includes Frieda, right?" Of course it doesn't. Frieda's the favorite. Not even MIT graduate Dirk Reiss could compare to the eldest daughter—the Reiss family's pride and joy. "She's almost thirty and hasn't moved out. Not once. You never get on her case."
"Frieda pays rent—has been since she was seventeen. There's a difference," He countered stiffly. "The rest of you live with me for free. Until you guys get a job or move out. Whichever comes first is fine by me. There's no rush. But until then, there's rules to be followed."
Historia rolled her eyes, tired of this lecture. She hopped off the stool, drifting across to the sink. Maybe it was time to consider dorm life. Peasant life, as Florian so kindly put it. Even Dirk agreed, that's why he—well, Dad—bought an apartment a few blocks away from campus. "I get it, Dad."
"Is she even home?"
Historia gestured around the kitchen with a finger though he couldn't see. "Take a guess."
"Well, you can tell Frieda whatever it is you need to tell me—unless it's life or death and can't wait until I get home." If it was possible, he sounded even more irritated than when he'd picked up the call. She wasn't used to being the one making Dad mad. "I'm hauling a kid to the station as we speak."
The container almost slipped from her hands. Too much soap. "You arrested a kid?"
"Please." Rod scoffed, offended. "I'm not that heartless. He's nineteen."
"... So?" She probed. "What's the grumpy attitude for? Shouldn't you be happy you're not signing another pink slip?" Historia grinned when he didn't answer, turning the knob once all the suds were gone and swirling down the drain. "This sounds like an upgrade from all your boring office work."
"This isn't funny." He snapped back like a rubber band. "This kid put me through absolute hell. I'm too old to be chasing kids around."
"Aw, he really made you run after him, Dad? That's so not cool." She cooed like babbling to a baby. "Is he cute, though?"
"That's it. I'm hanging up."
"Don't be like that, Dad!" She protested, her grin wide like the Cheshire cat. "You know I'm only joking!"
"Somehow, I don't think you are."
"You're right. I'm not. But I am!"
He didn't reply. For a moment, Historia thought he'd hung up. But she could still hear the low whiz of a car flying past other cars. Rod was so embarrassed, and the thought made Historia bit down on the fit of laughter bubbling in her throat. Florian might excel in making Dad upset but Historia could easily bristle him.
Rod suddenly sighed heavily, a decision made. "Hey." His voice was loud, calling. "You caught that, right?"
"Huh?" Said another voice, kinda quiet, and sounded slightly far off.
The realization slammed into her like a train. The paper towel she'd ripped to dry off her hands fell to the floor. He's driving someone to the station!
Historia nearly tripped on her mad-dash to the island where she left her phone. "Wait—you can't be serious right now!"
"What?" Rod said innocently.
She cupped the phone close to her mouth. "How come you didn't tell me I was on speaker?!"
Rod snorted. "AUX cords were truly mankind's greatest invention. Bluetooth enabled stereo's the second. Calm down, would you?"
"'Calm down'?!" She parroted, her cry reverberating throughout the house. It could've made birds fly, the neighbor's bang on her door. Could've even scared cats. "Dad! What. The. Fuck!"
"Please. You should've known better." He brushed off her embarrassment with his own. "Did you really think I'd pick up my phone while driving? Do you know how many kids I've taken in for that same reason?"
Historia heaved a sigh, willing the heat crowding her face to disperse. She was at a loss.
"Hey, Yeager!" He called again. "What do you think you're laughing at?!"
Oh, my God. And the guy was laughing! She didn't hear it before, but now that Rod pointed it out, there it was beyond the feedback. Like loud, church bells. Historia squeezed her eyes, her cheeks ready to burn away This cannot get any worse.
He cleared his throat. "It's nothing, sir."
"That's what I thought. Now, answer my daughter's question."
"Dad, forget—" Historia wanted to continue protesting. But that name. That voice. And she was pretty sure she'd heard that laugh. Somewhere.
Cold sweat pricked her neck, shot straight down her spine. Wait. Yeager? As in...? No. Oh, no. There's gotta be a mistake, she thought numbly. There has to be another guy with that last name who sounds just as stupid as him—
"I'm... pretty sure she asked you, sir."
Historia grit her teeth. This cannot be happening to me right now. Her jaw ached.
"Don't get smart with me, punk! Watch your tongue!"
"Just answer the question already!"
Her heart hammered in her ribs, throat boiling with dozens of protests. God, her father was such a fucking asshat, but she couldn't pick the words, much less string them into sentences. This minor stall in her brain only acted up when Eren was around—and, thankfully, that wasn't often. But after tonight, that luck just might run out.
"Uh." He stammered. "I... I wanna say yes?"
Historia inhaled. She couldn't think of how wrong that description was for him right now. C'mon, you can do this, she told herself. It might not be him at all. Didn't he say something about an older brother once? Please, say no. Please, say no. Please—
"... Eren? Is that you?" She asked in the smallest voice, biting her lip. Her body was tense, bracing for the inevitable.
"... Ah. Yeah, I knew you sounded familiar." Eren murmured, though he sounded perfectly calm despite his brief shock. Of course he did. Only Eren could be so nonchalant in an otherwise super fucking awkward situation. "Shit. I forgot your dad was a cop," He sighed, actually regretful. "My bad, Historia."
"It's fine," She really didn't know what to say, pulling on the hem of her cotton shirt. What was he apologizing to her for? "It probably wasn't your fault—"
"His-toria?!" Rod's shrill hiss cut through her consolation. "You know this clown?!"
Historia buried her face in her clammy hands, sighing. "We have a couple of classes together, Dad. He's Annie's best friend." She admitted. "And, uh, this is… probably a really bad time to tell you, but he's actually been over a couple of times with—"
"He's. What?!" And she could've sworn the tires screamed in protest, too.
"It was for Annie's Kinesiology project! She needed a place to record a video!" She added hastily. Why the fuck did she have to go and blurt that out?! "I asked if I could have friends over—you even said it was okay!"
"That was before I found out this punk had a criminal record!" Rod screeched like nails on a chalkboard. Historia could picture his face purpling with rage, that vein on his forehead. If this weren't so embarrassing and she wasn't so damn mortified, she'd probably be laughing. This was what they—mostly Florian—had to deal with when Dad got angry. A bunch of blubbered nonsense. "He's not coming within a hundred mile radius of our house ever again, Historia! Do you understand? Do you hear me, Historia?! I mean it!"
"Dad." Historia began, unfazed, exasperated, her fingers raking through her hair. "He's not a punk. He's actually a really nice guy—"
"You do know this 'nice guy' of yours has a mugshot—right, Historia? He's been in Juvenile Detention before. Juvenile!" He emphasized. Historia rubbed her temples, headache punching her skull full force. She did know, actually. "When were you planning on telling me you were friends with another delinquent? You—I hear you laughing back there again! Stop that!"
Eren coughed harshly. "Sorry..."
"Dad, can you not?" Her hands clutched her head, fingers tugging on her hair, ready to yank them straight from their follicles. "You've taken people to the station and ticketed them for the dumbest reasons before. I wouldn't be surprised if you're using him tonight to fill a monthly quota."
His silence was deadlier than his anger. But she'd caught him. "We're having a very long discussion about your choice in company when I see you in the morning."
Company. Historia rolled her eyes. Why'd he have to go and show his age? "I just wish you'd trust me. I'm not Florian."
"After all the hassles the two of you have put me through? You both might as well have been born twins."
She didn't know how to feel being compared to Florian. "Dad, can we please discuss this later? I'm getting kinda tired of airing our family drama." She shook her head. "Eren, I'm so sorry about my dad."
"It's cool." He replied, nonchalant. "Pretty sure I deserved it this time, anyway."
"You're sorry about—" Rod started, caught himself, heaved a heavy, deep sigh. The palpable tension was beginning to ebb. Thank God. "You wanna know I caught this little friend of yours, Historia?" But, of course, Rod wouldn't go down without having the last say.
"Please," Eren piped up, apprehensive. "Don't."
"I wasn't talking to you, Yeager!" Braying aside, the fire was beginning to die. "I have every right to tell her if I want to!"
"No—honestly—I'd rather not know," Historia agreed, and knew she'd get her ass handed to her in the morning for taking Eren's side. This is my karma for eating Abel's food. I know it. Not only would she probably have to make breakfast for Abel, but she'd also get a front row show. Do I jump out my window now or tomorrow? "It's none of my business."
"Oh... Oh, really?" He was thoroughly displeased, but—finally, finally, finally—situation abated. Or so she hoped. "I was under the assumption that we were all having embarrassing moments tonight."
"I can't believe you think this is funny, Dad!" She seethed, clutching her phone tightly as she stomped out of the kitchen, the steps parroting through the emptiness of her home. "You have no idea how embarrassed I am right now."
He hummed, pensive. "So, you and Florian find it okay to make my life a living hell, but the moment I retaliate it's too much for the two of you?" Rod bristled, disbelieving. "God. You kids these days have absolutely no sense of humor."
"Nah," She muttered, skulking upstairs, ready to crawl under the covers and hope to God her thick comforter and the mountain of pillows suffocated her in her sleep. "You boomers just suck."
A loud, sudden snort.
"Shut. Up." He barked. "I haven't given you permission to do anything!"
It took Eren a while to contain it. "S-sorry, sir..."
Rod softened. Sort of. Inhaled. Exhaled. Same as her. "Don't forget you started this, young lady. We're going to have a very long talk tomorrow." He insisted.
Today was officially over. "Fine," She groaned. "Whatever. Just leave him alone already. God."