Chapter 1: Hiding Tonight
It was a late Friday night that King Raven had started our journey from Manchester down to London for our 3 day sell-out shows to end our worldwide tour. On the coach that night was : the driver Pixis, the manager Erwin Smith, the band's drummer Farlan Church with his wife Izzy playing Mario kart, the band's bassist Marco Bodt on the phone with his mum, and the lead singer and guitarist Levi Ackerman. That's me shitheads.
I was listening to music while looking out of the window as my evening car journeys usually ended up going. As much as I loved my two band mates and Izzy, I cherished my free time. I knew once I arrived in London they would be practicing constantly, spending time with each other and meeting up with people in London as it was their hometown. (despite being a city)
I was listening to Hiding Tonight by Alex Turner, when I felt a light tap on my shoulder.
I scowled because I was just getting into it and turned around to find Marco sheepishly smiling at me, "Mum wants to know if you want to come out for noodles with us tomorrow, it's my turn to pay I think."
I cocked my head to the side to feign thought, "Yeah fuck it I'll come, who else is going and where are we going." I quizzed the bassist.
Marco put his phone on speaker so the conversation could be opened up to the rest of the coach "How does Yuu Kitchen in Whitechapel sound?"
This was a personal favourite of mine, as Marco knew, because it was in an area that wasn't too busy and while being slightly grimy; was perfect for noodles.
"I'm in." I looked to Marco to see him nod.
"That sounds lovely dears, what about Farlan and Isabel" Marco's mum added over the phone.
"I don't know, let me as-"
"OI, LOVEBIRDS" I shouted at my two friends in the section of the coach with the television. Marco rolled his eyes.
"WHAT DO YOU WANT MISTER MISERABLE I'M FUCKING FARLAN OVER" screeched Izzy, clearly beating her husband.
"NOODLES. YUUS. TOMORROW. EVERYONE. LUNCH. YOU IN?"
"Oh yeah sounds good, we could go when you guys finish your morning rehearsal, but remember you have soundcheck at 4 and your first support goes on at 7.30 so we should probably be in the arena by then. We don't want to app-"
"Okay mrs.Bodt thats a table for five then please" I interrupted Izzy as I was well aware we had a busy day tomorrow.
"Can you make that six?" Erwin piped in from his seat next to our driver.
"Actually Mrs.Bodt, can you make that seven? I'd like to invite Hanji as well" I mentioned, to hear Erwin groan much to my amusement. Hanji was a lot of work, but she was my only best friend missing from this lunch and I missed her, in honesty.
"That's fine! The more the merrier. Anyone else?" she questioned.
"Can I invite my friend Annie mum? She's back from Russia for a little bit and it would be nice to have a quick catch up" Marco added.
"Of course my baby! Maybe you two can go off together a bit later on if you need some privacy with her..."
"Mum stop that" Marco rolled his eyes and a slight blush appeared. A smirk appeared on my lips as I remembered Marco telling me years and years ago that he was gay but too scared to tell his mum. In fact, I'm pretty sure the whole band knew at this point.
"Okay thank you again Mrs.Bodt, see you around lunch time in Whitechapel" I leaned over and ended the call.
Marco opened his mouth but before he could start, I interrupted.
"If you need help coming out to her, I'm here for you freckles" I went to sit next to my friend and stole one of his strawberry laces before putting my legs on his lap. Marco and I were very comfortable with eachother and often slept on eachother on the coach.
No, not in that way. Just because we're both gay doesn't mean it's anything like that.
"I appreciate it Vi, thank you" he smiled and leaned his head back, pushing his black hair away from his dark eyes looking upwards.
We sat like that for a while, me eating his sweets and Marco staring at the ceiling before he moved to face me with his head leaning on the chair and whispered.
"Is it still awkward with you and Erwin?"
I froze momentarily at the suddenness of the question. Marco and I talk about all kinds of things including our relationships but we rarely spoke of my past relationship with out manager. It was hard to deny him of this conversation, though, with his doe eyes and freckled face looking straight at me.
"Frosty still, it was still only a few months ago so I understand but it's much better than it was"
"Good" Marco smiled, "I'm happy you're both moving on"
I nodded at him and decided to move the conversation on "Any romantic interests going on with you?"
Marco blushed "Possibly, Annie said her girlfriend's friend is cute so I might be meeting him after the gig tomorrow. Massive group of them are coming by the way tomorrow, front pit and all that"
I raised an eyebrow at the mention of the word 'cute' but nodded for the rest.
"I should tell Hanji about noodles, one minute" I retrieved my phone from my jeans and went to my favourites page ready to call my friend, not before turning the volume down as she would inevitably scream the second I picked up the phone.
"LEVIIIII! MY LITTLE ROCKER! I am seeing you tomorrow, what are the chances of you calling?"
I turned the volume up as she moved to talking at a normal volume and put her on speaker so Marco could hear.
"You're seeing me tomorrow? That's funny as I was just about to invite you to lunch at Yuu's tomorrow lunch"
"Sounds GREAT! But yeah I bought tickets in the front pit to come and watch you babyyy"
"Please tell me you got family discount" I started.
"I forgot, but you can just pay me back if its that big a deal"
"Don't worry I will. See you there or meet you at the tube station?"
"Levi hunny, I'm pretty sure theres a King Raven poster at every single tube station at the moment with you all sat on your black thrones with your creepy crowns and whatnot. Maybe just meet at Yuu's"
Right. Briefly forgot about fame.
"Whatever, see you then fuckface"
"Bye shortie!" and she hung up before I could have a go at her for calling me a shortie.
We arrived at our hotel at 2am, but as it was a short walk away from my apartment I decided to quickly run there to grab some tea bags, spare clothes (even though I had all my tour clothes at the hotel) and some more shampoo as I was running low. I then ran back to the hotel to go to my room when I ran into Captain America himself.
"Hello Erwin". The man stood before me was incredibly tall, with blonde cropped hair and massive fuck-off eyebrows. He was incredibly muscular and had our bands logo tattooed on his exposed bicep, much like the rest of the band.
"Levi, did you get everything you needed" he looked down at me with my merger bag full of items from my home, and smiled wistfully.
"Yep, now move I'm tired" I tried to get past him but his arm moved out to stop me.
"Levi, we need to talk about this"
I shook my head "We broke up over 3 months ago and that is all there is to it." I curtly responded, not wanting to go into it.
"Yeah, I'm aware, but we were together for 2 years and I feel like I don't have closure. Why did we break up?" I looked up to see tears brimming in his eyes and sighed, this was a tough one.
I unlocked my hotel room door and sat on the sofa, patting the seat next to me that Erwin shortly filled.
We sat in silence for a few moments before I started talking again.
"It was corny as shit the way I broke up with you. You deserve more." He looked over to me. "You were the longest relationship I was in Erwin, and I am glad that we were together for as long as we were; but I truly believe it ended at the right time. What with the tour and everything but also with the fact that, as you know, you're ready to settle down. I'm not ready for that kind of life yet and I don't want that to hold you back from settling down with someone who is ready to settle down. Does that make sense?" At this I finally looked over at my ex-boyfriend to find him staring at me with small tears rolling down his face. "Erwin?" I leaned to wipe one off.
"Yeah, yep, fair enough. Sorry, I'll go. You need to sleep before tonight!" He stood up and went for the door.
"I'm sorry" I said to the man. He stopped at the door and looked to the ground. There was a deathly silence before he responded.
"I know." And he left.
That night, I sat on the balcony of my hotel room and thought about everything in my life while I smoked. I haven't been sleeping well for a while and seeing my ex-boyfriend cry really didn't help my situation.
I just felt so lost. I didn't have any one person I was particularly interested in anymore, I felt isolated from my own city because of fame, and I just wanted to sleep.
I stood up and put out my cigarette before getting into bed. These next few days will be busy and I want to feel well rested.
I woke up to heavy knocking on my door, before the door was opened by Farlan and Marco who proceeded to jump on my bed and start singing 'maybe it's because I'm a Londoner'.
"Get off my bed I'm coming out give me a minute"
"Thought the press didn't know you're gay?" teased Farlan, causing me to throw a pillow at him.
"Cunt." I rolled over.
"Come on Levi, we're rehearsing the set at your house we've decided"
I rolled my eyes and got out of the warmth of my bed "I'm up, fuck off, I'll come and get you both shortly"
They smiled at me and started walking away, "Have a shower, you both stink of shit" They both started to laugh and left the room, not before Farlan finished the verse.
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner
That I love London town
Chapter 2: Like A Stone
First night gig in London for King Raven
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"Did your apartment get bigger, or are you just shrinking"
"Farlan, I will not hesitate to come over there and fucking rip your tongue out if you say one more word about my height" I said to my so-called friend through gritted teeth. “I had a clear out, got rid of some of out old shitty posters and put them in a storage unit. Makes the room look smaller” We had just walked through the door for my flat and he had immediately taken to assaulting me.
“It looks clean..Not sure what I expected” Commented Marco, taking his vans off next to the door at the same time as Farlan.
“Soo you didn’t shrink” Grinned Farlan. Without Izzy, I must note, he was quicker to take the piss and took every opportunity to do so.
“I swear one of these days I’ll be arrested for assaulting you”
"You sound like an angry little puppy" Said a voice from inside my apartment, causing me and my band mates to freeze on the spot.
Someone else was here.
I walked deeper inside the flat and poised my hand over the light switch "Who the flying fuck-" I started, before being tackled to the floor by an incredibly heavy object, from which words began to pour out.
"Good mooooorning my small sweet prince! Thank you for letting me use your sofa overnight, it was deeply appreciated" She said.
"Hello Hanji, how the fuck did you get in my house this time?"
The obnoxiously heavy beast cackled into my ear and stood up, straightening her ponytail and pushing her crooked glasses up her nose "If I told you, I would have to kill you" she grinned. She was wearing orange joggers and a tie dye brown and pink hoodie, eclectic tastes to say the least. She deeply contrasted to my usual blacks and greys but somehow, it worked.
"Tch." I stood up and walked to my kitchen "I'm putting the kettle on, who wants tea."
To a room of resounding yes's, I pulled out 4 black mugs and started on the tea while I distantly heard my friends talking amongst themselves while setting up in my music room. I had a reasonably large apartment thanks to the success of the band, and instead of using my spare rooms for beds (as I knew Hanji would take ownership of one) I turned the five rooms into a music room, a recording room, a micro-library, a study and a room for my pool table.
I walked into the music room and set the teas on the glass table beside the door and looked at the wall. A few years ago now, I had bought a whiteboard for this room so we could brainstorm song ideas while we practised. Marco was writing up the setlist he had in mind for the gig, as he was the one who was a self-proclaimed expert at creating playlists and therefore always made the cut.
“What cover should we do tonight?” He started, every night we had taken to performing a cover for the crowd as we were worried they were getting bored of our material. They were all being added to a youtube playlist so they could all be seen after the tour but we were enjoying it currently.
“I’m not bothered, up to you guys” said Farlan, faffing with the drum kit.
“Same here, I think I should sing tonight though” I said nursing my tea. Last night, Farlan had sung while playing drums. It was hilarious.
“Can you do an Audioslave pretty pretty please! Your voice sounds just like Christ Cornell!” Squealed Hanji. I rolled my eyes.
“Well, shit for brains, we already did black hole sun in Berlin so it's kind of repetitive. And anyways we need two guitars to do that one,” I paused, remembering something “but you know that, don’t you”
She grinned mischievously, of course she knew “Can I please just this once come up with you guys? Come oooon it would be so fun!” She jumped up and down with excitement.
“Isn’t there a rumour you two are an item in the press? That would just add fuel to the flames” Marco commented as he stood on his tip toes trying to get to the top of the board.
“That’s old news, and anyway so what. It’s not like shitty glasses or I will ever talk about it. No one need to know I'm gay. I feel like if I ever get into another relationship I’ll do the same as I did with Erwin and keep it a secret”
“If i got a boyfriend, I’d let the world know” Said Marco. We all turned to face the blushing boy writing songs on the whiteboard.
“Got someone in mind?” Farlan encouraged
“Is this about that boy you’re meeting” I smiled softly to myself. I wanted Marco to be happy as for a long time now he has waned a boyfriend to look after and spoil but has been worried about what other people will think of him. Finally he seems to have come to peace with his sexuality and i was chuffed to say the least.
“As a matter of fact it is. I found him on instagram and we talked all night long” The blushing boy turned into a tomato before our very eyes.
“Is he fit?” Hanji blurted in, earning a grin from farlan and myself as we both had a similar question in mind.
“I don’t know maybe? slightly?”
“Freckles, what is his instagram. We can stalk him.” I put my tea down to get out my phone.
“You need more creative nicknames. Freckles, shitty glasses, They’re too obvious”
“Tch. Youre changing the subject, whats his username Marco”
He procrastinated for a while but eventually he gave it over so we could all look at this boy.
“Jeen…Kirsteen?” Hanji questioned, attempting to pronounce his name.
“Jean Kirstein. His mum is French and his dad is German so he’s a mix of th… what is it Farlan?” He was shaking with laughter. Marco began to blush again, however, as the drummer held up a shirtless picture of Jean with some of his friends.
“So purely attracted based on intellect I see, we raised you well” Farlan said, I snorted.
“Just because you and izzy were best friend for years and have been together since what, when you were 14?!”
“Yep, and we’re still very happy” He plopped down on his chair and cracked his knuckles.
I took a look at the picture of Jean and looked over to Marco, “He looks rather…Equine. Would it be alright if I called him horse-face?” I innocently questioned, earning a high-five from Farlan.
“You can, but only privately and please be nice to him when you inevitably meet him, I really like him” Marco said, finishing the setlist and walking over to his bass.
I nodded then took a sip of my tea and went over to my row of guitars as I spoke “So now that we have established that Farlan is still very happy, Marco is finding love and we all know about Hanji and Moblit, I think we should start practicing for tonight, especially as we need to do Like A Stone as a group” I concluded, selecting my Gibson ES-135.
“Can I use your Fender Jaguar pretty please” Hanji said, staring longingly at the guitar in question.
“If you dirty it, you clean it” I confirmed, picking up a plectrum to stand in front of the band, all looking to me for guidance.
“Okay Farlan, count us in”
- - -
After a few hours of going through the set list and playing tonights cover a good few times, it was time to go to lunch with the big group of us that had been organised the night before. I texted our driver Dot Pixis and told him to pick us up from my apartment. While we waited, we talked to Marco.
“So in your overnight talk with Jee- sorry Jean, what did you talk about?” Hanji asked, she had changed into a pair of neon pink trousers covered in paint stains from her ‘modern’ art work, (which I always thought looked like a colourful yet expensive spillage) and a yellow anorak to go with the same brown and pink hoodie.
“Why do you want to know?” he asked.
I looked over to Marco and Farlan and smiled, they both wore blue jeans in varying stages of decay with a graphic t-short of some description. I, however, didn’t seem to own anything of colour in my wardrobe and stuck out like a sore thumb with my black boots, jeans, t shirt and jacket. We were, of course, tied by our tattoos. We all shared the initials K.R. sitting on top of interlocked feathers on our left arms, but some of us had others. Marco only had two (being the bands logo and the word ‘mum’ in a love heart on his other bicep), but me and Farlan had the most (his totalling at 12 and mine at 15).
“I’m genuinely interested in what you have in common” Hanji continued, taking me out of my daydream.
At this point, my phone started to vibrate, informing us that our driver was waiting outside. We all filed into the mini-van and sat in silence for a minute before Hanji continued.
“I’m waiting Marco.”
“Ugh,” Marco sighed “well we both have German fathers for a start, we both love Star Wars…”
“That explains everything then you nerds you” Hanji butted in, and her grin grew “is he coming for lunch?”
“No, but I could’ve invited him couldn’t I?” Marco said, rather guiltily.
“Probably best you didn’t my boy, a lot of paps today” shouted Pixis from the drivers seat, we had already arrived and I could hear the snaps approaching the car.
“Fucking hell not again” I said, looking out of the blacked-out window.
“Izzy says they started to arrive once she and Erwin got there, someone must have recognised them and spotted that the table could probably fit us.”
“Right, well, lets get food then,” Hanji got ready to open the door “quickly now everyone” she hurried.
And just like that, I experienced one of my least favourite perks of being famous, you’re never away from the media no matter where you go.
The door war opened and millions of flashes descended into the mini-van alongside screams from the paparazzi, begging for a comment.
“Farlan! When are you having children?” “Levi! Is Hanji your girlfriend?” “Who are you wearing?” “What is it like coming back home?” “Why are you still single Marco?” “How’s the tour going guys?”
“Tour is going great thanks, we’re on the last few shows, been very successful.” Replied Farlan to the one decent pap, we normally had one of two that asked genuine questions whereas the others bombard us with nonsense.
We arrived into the restaurant and were directed off to a private room so that we weren’t constantly being watched by the general public. In the small rectangular room, there was a large table set up for our group with menus, little glasses of green tea and decorative table cloths. Already sat at the table was Erwin and Izzy having a serious-looking conversation, and Marco’s mother sat having a conversation with a bored looking Annie.
“Marco my baby!” His mother stood up and ran over to her son, capturing him in a bear-hug we all knew would come to us soon. She and Marco had very similar features with their freckles and black hair, but hers was incredibly long and usually drawn back in a plait. She also had a habit of wearing King Raven merchandise in public as well as flares. She and Hanji got on very well.
After receiving a hug from Marco’s mother each, we all sat down and had out noodles together. Izzy and Erwin continued to remind us of our responsibilities for after the lunch, Marco and Annie talked together a lot with Marco’s mother also. I, however, had a conversation with Hanji.
“I’m not making it a big deal short-stack and I don't want to make this deep but you seem a bit weird” she said between mouthfuls in a hushed tone so that it was only between us.
“I just don’t like being the centre of attention and want to leave people to it, you know that” I softly replied, taking a sip of my green tea.
“I know that, but you’re also the bands lead guitarist and lead singer, you’re technically the front man. Usually you can tell that a bit more but you seem to be… I don’t know to be honest, just different”
I took a deep breath “I can’t explain it, there’s nothing wrong I just feel down for no reason” I said, staring at the cup of green tea I was holding in my fingertips, suddenly taking a great interest in the object.
“Look at me not that cup Levi,” Hanji whispered back, causing me to turn to look into her eyes “I am here to help you, you can trust me”
“I know shitty glasses, I’ll come to you if I feel worse. Let’s drop it” I said, noticing a girl with black hair enter the room.
Everyone silenced and looked over to her, suddenly confused by her entrance. Annie stood up and walked over to her, giving her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.
Marco smiled and looked over to me as she said “everyone this is my girlfriend Mikasa. Mika, everyone.”
I looked over to Marco’s mother, her reaction would determine whether or not it was safe for him to come out to her and to be honest, I was concerned. There is nothing worse than being betrayed and cast away and I didn’t want Marco to experience that.
To my pleasure, however, she stood up and walked over to Mikasa to giver her a hug. “An absolute pleasure to meet you!”
Mikasa, however, stood incredibly still and nodded seeming to dislike the contact. She, much like me, was wearing all black aside from a blood red scarf.
“She reminds me of you”
“In what way” I carefully asked Hanji, worried where it was going.
“She doesn’t want to get dirty from someone she doesn’t really know and doesn’t particularly seem to enjoy human contact”
We stayed eating noodles for around another hour, and it was lovely. Everyone was happy and having conversations with each other once again, Hanji and myself having one of those jokey conversations where your stomach hurts from laughing so hard.
Eventually, we had to leave so the band members and Erwin split the bill 4 ways and we all exited the restaurant, not before I gave a waiter a selfie.
“Can you say hi to my friend Sasha, she’s a massive fan”
“Hi to my friend Sasha” I said, looking into the camera before giving a brief smile and leaving the restaurant.
- - -
“Annie and Mikasa are going to go to the VIP bit if that’s alright with everyone, along with the usual London suspects like my mum and Izzy”
“Sure, fine by me.” Farlan replied, once again tinkering with his drum kit.
“Can I be a VIP?” Hanji asked, bouncing on her heels as she had joined us on stage to do a soundcheck of our cover.
“You’re literally performing with us shitspecs, what do you fucking think” I replied, pointing to her guitar that her husband had brought over for her.
“Stop bickering lets just do the soundcheck and chill before we go on” shouted Marco from the other side of the stage. And so we did.
- - -
The crowd cheered after we had gone through one of our longer songs of the set “Thank you!”, Farlan shouted into the mic. “You’re beautiful” I rolled my eyes, he always ended up saying incredibly corny things whenever he was left to his own devices with the microphone.
“I’d like to invite a good friend of ours up here if that’s cool with you lot” I said after a glug of water. There were incoherent screams meeting my words, as usual, but I assumed they were positive.
I started to bring my guitar back to its usual tuning as I announced Hanji, whom was greeted by large cheers. She was not so much of a celebrity, but everyone who listened to King Raven knew her as she had played guitar for us on a few of our tracks in the past and had been our support last year.
I looked over to the beaming woman and nodded as I spoke once again “This one is a song sung by one of the greatest vocalists ever to grace this fucking planet. This is Like A Stone.”
The lights went down and dispersed cheers erupted from the crowd, some clearly not recognising the song and others the opposite.
Farlan counted us in with the steady drum beat and we all joined in to the mellow tune of the song. I even swayed slightly as I sang the lyrics of the first verse, being reminded of an Audioslave concert from when I was little or listening to this song lying on the grass in a field in the middle of the night with an ex boyfriend.
In your house I long to be;
Room by room patiently,
I'll wait for you there like a stone.
I'll wait for you there alone.
For the second verse, I looked into the crowd as I had been doing on and off during the concert. On the front row I spotted a group of 3 singing along with me, one of which being Annie’s girlfriend Mikasa. This made me smile, unusually, as I was reminded of her cold expression when seeing her earlier. She was now smiling and laughing with her friends, this putting me at ease.
I got to the second chorus and looked over to Hanji, reminding her it was time for her solo and she nodded as I stood back slightly so more attention could be placed upon her.
While I stood back, I looked to Mikasa and her friends. All three of them were staring at Hanji, clearly enjoying the performance. I looked over for myself and saw her grinning expression and walked back to the microphone as I came back in.
And on I read until the day was gone;
And I sat in regret of all the things I've done;
At this, I looked over to the VIP section where Erwin was standing recording for our instagram story. I smiled and looked back upon the crowd.
For all that I've blessed, and all that I've wronged.
In dreams until my death I will wander on.
As I went into the chorus a final time, one of Mikasa’s friends caught my eye. He had stopped singing along and was instead staring directly at me, swaying along to the beat.
I smiled at the brown-haired boy and looked away quickly to finish the song.
- - -
“Very successful everyone! See you all tomorrow.” We were in the green room as Erwin was saying his goodbyes to return back to his hotel room. I nodded and turned to Hanji.
“Do you want to go for a walk? I kind of want to talk tonight.” I said quietly to my friend.
“Sorry short stack but I’m seeing Moblit in a little while, maybe another time.” She patted my shoulder as I nodded, and then turned around to see who was left.
Farlan had already gone off with Izzy, Erwin was a no-go, Marco was on the phone with his horsey friend organising a meet up.
- - -
That night, when I was sitting on the balcony of my apartment chain-smoking and drinking tea, I thought. I mentally went through all the things in my mind and in my life that I could think about.
At that point in time, I felt incredibly lost and empty. I was lonely, no one was truly there for me like they were when I had a boyfriend, and I felt as though my love life had gone to shit the minute Erwin and I ended things a good few months ago now. I had things on my mind from my childhood coming back to haunt me. And the absolute last thing I wanted was to perform in front of a large crowd again tomorrow.
What I really wanted was to sit on my balcony for the rest of my life and watch the world go by, maybe have someone join me and spend some time with me. But, alas, not everything turns out the way we always want it to.
I’m not sure what time I eventually went to bed that night but the sun had started to rise by then. In my dreams I thought about a life of privacy, simplicity and being surrounded by people that loved and whom loved me. Maybe one day.
SORRY I'M LATE!!
I put an excuse on my instagram (regular___john) but politics student living in the UK; last few days have been mad.
Next one will come as soon as possible, hopefully sooner than this one came though. ALSO Christmas special on the usual planned, just so you're aware.
Thanks for reading and coming back for chapter 2, see you soon.
Chapter 3: Ziggy Stardust
King Raven's second concert in London.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The next morning I was rudely awoken to the sound of my front door slamming shut. Any normal person would be concerned that no one had said they would be coming over and that no one had a spare key anymore. I, however, knew better and got out of bed to brew me and my visitor some tea.
“Any preference?” I asked, opening my tea cupboard and taking out my clear teapot and two black mugs as the uninvited guest sat down at my kitchen island and opened her phone
“Peppermint pretty please, I’m tiiiired" she yawned as if on command and I grunted in an affirmative response.
“You wore that yesterday.”
I looked down at the jeans and t-shirt I hadn’t bothered to change out of after the concert and shrugged, silently seething at myself for doing something so disgusting.
“Whatever, what time is everyone coming over today?”
“No clue, no one has spoken to me so I assume they’ll just turn up and we can go over the setlist. Are you staying to watch again?” I asked her as I boiled the kettle.
“Yes please, I want to see the cover before the gig. Any ideas?”
“Well tomorrow I think we’re getting Izzy to duet with me and Erwin to play percussion or something, maybe you could join us? I don’t know about tonight though, just us 3 and something decent I guess” I poured the teas out and served up.
“Do a classic one with a nice guitar, like queen or Lou reed or something”
I picked up my cup by the rim and blew for a few moments, thinking about what song to do. I opened my mouth to share my ideas when my phone began to ring.
“What.” I said, turning the caller onto speaker.
“Farlan, Izzy and I are on the way up the lift right now, I also brought a friend I hope that’s ok” Marco nervously spoke.
“Fine, I just put the kettle on but I’m afraid we’re all out of hay for your pony” I deadpanned, highly aware the friend he was referring to was John or whatever. Hanji cackled, the sound reverberating off the walls as the call was ended on his end.
“How long have you been planning that one?” she asked, wiping a tear from her eye.
“Fuck off shitty glasses that was a spur of the moment joke” I replied, blatantly lying.
She grinned “You’ve totally been planning that since last night”
“Tch” I took a sip of my tea, “I’m not wrong though he does look like a fucking horse”
She snorted “Soon Marco will be fucking that horse though”
“Okay okay fine” I did a brownie salute “I’m on my best fucking behaviour” I smirked, knowing this would not last.
“Right so what do you want to cover tonight” Farlan started, “Izzy and I have kind of decided we want to do tomorrow but we’ll tell you then so it’s up to the rest of you.”
I fiddled with my guitar, playing little riffs while Farlan spoke. I then looked over to Marco standing at the board whom was currently being whispered to the horse himself “Oi lovebirds, any ideas”
Marco blushed bright red and Jean glared at me as they moved apart, “You’re just jealous” Jean spluttered.
I smirked “Whatever, shitty brat. Any ideas Freckles?”
“I fancy something classic as yesterday was quite modern-ish. You pick the song Levi” Marco quickly replied, giving Jean a pointed look.
“Me too actually. How about some Bowie then...Ziggy Stardust?” I said, playing the intro to remind myself. “But I also wanted to do a solo at some point if thats ok. At that point you two could go to the crowd for pictures or whatever” I deadpanned. The reality of this was that so less attention was on me and more was on my bandmates and whom would be lucky enough for a picture with them.
“Ooh great idea! We haven’t done that for a little while” Marco said, adding the words ‘Levi’s solo - we walk’ to the board where he believed a soft acoustic would fit best.
“Sure why not, to both actually. Sounds good” Said farlan.
Marco moved from the board to his sleek black bass and we both looked to Farlan to count us in.
During our practice people had been coming and going, Hanji leaving with her husband and Annie arriving to watch us practice and leaving after a little while. Right at the end, Farlan and Izzy informed us they were going on a date so I was left alone with the lovebirds.
“Did I mention Mika and a few of her friends have bought tickets for golden circle on all of your London gigs? Because they have” Jean said, sipping the tea he had just poured himself.
“I saw her in the golden circle yesterday with some people despite the fact that we gave her a VIP pass, which Annie accepted. I was wondering why she would do that” I replied.
“Yeah they’re massive fans and like being at the front, I’m actually joining them at this one but I might need VIP for tomorrow” Jean commented, the cheeky fucker.
“Of course! That can definitely be arranged. Anyone booked VIP tomorrow Levi?” Marco got out his phone to check.
“I know theres that singer Anka and that metal duo Colt and Falco, aside from that I don’t think so.” I recalled.
“Perfect! I’ll get you a pass then Jean” Marco walked towards the door “I think we’re going out for lunch now by the way Levi, so we’ll see you at the arena at 4 for soundcheck?”
I nodded slowly and watched them walk out as I drank the last of my tea, and I enjoyed the silence. I absolutely loved music and all the joys it brought but I also loved having time for myself. I took this as the perfect opportunity to play my piano that I rarely ever used.
I walked to my music room and plopped myself down onto the cool leather seat and lifted the rim. Another wonderful part of playing music on your own is that there is much less pressure to get it right, meaning you can daydream while playing all sorts of rubbish.
As I played, I was transported back to my youth in my mind, as I had somehow instinctively played the one song that always effectively did this for me.
I was sat on the floor in my mothers flat in Montpellier, watching her slim fingers play Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy. The sunshine was streaming in through the open windows along with a soft breeze and there was a soft smell of pastry from the bakery close to the flat. I closed my eyes as a 6 year old boy and thought to myself that life couldn’t possibly get any better than this absolute bliss, and I was right.
That day in Montpellier was the last day we spent living our sheltered life of bliss before my mother way forced to move with me into a communal building we shared with other women in their own personal rooms. I don’t like to think about France after that point and count it as a blank, my childhood continuing once I moved to London
My piano playing was brought to an abrupt stop when there was a heavy knocking at my door, bringing me back from my small paradise I had created through my piano.
I slowly stood up and walked to my front door, and once opened was greeted to the sight of my manager and ex-boyfriend Erwin Smith.
“What.” I bluntly said.
“Being an arse today then” He said, barging into my house and slamming the door shut without an invitation.
“What the fuck do you want eyebrows” I followed him to my kitchen and leaned on the doorframe with my arms crossed.
He sat on a chair on my kitchen island, “I want you to take on your personal assistant again. I know what you’re going to say-“
“Fuck no, not after all the abuse hurled at her last time saying her baby was mine” I spat.
“Petra knows the risks involved in becoming a personal assistant, but she’s off maternity now and can be your assistant again and I really think she should.”
I stared blankly at the man sat in front of me, confused as to why this was such a big deal.
“If you’re confused, it’s mainly so that you actually answer your fucking phone instead of leaving it on silent all the time and so that you get shit done quicker. Also, she might help way appear nicer in public instead of so grumpy whenever you meet fans. I’m getting Marco one as well and Izzy has agreed to officially be Farlan’s, even though that’s unofficially been the case since you guys started performing in that dingy pub”
I rolled my eyes “Who are you getting for Marco then fuckface” I said, moving from my position by the door to put the kettle on as I was craving a tea.
“I’m letting him choose, it’s only really vital for when you start writing your next album after this tour so he has time”
I nodded along with his words, slowly understanding that it may be slightly necessary.
There was silence after this as the kettle slowly boiled in front of me, and I was increasingly aware of the man sat not too far away from me at my black kitchen counter.
“Can we talk again?”
I closed my eyes and gripped the sideboard as the words I dreaded came out of his mouth.
“What about” I said, again appearing uninterested.
“I really don’t think you meant what he said-“ his voice caught and I heard him gulp “you say you’re not ready to settle down but you aren’t exactly out partying every night or having flings all the time so I really don’t understand why you don’t want to”
I took a deep breath and opened my eyes, staring at my hands on the side “I’m just not ready Erwin, I can’t give you what you’re ready for. Our time together was wonderful, but I’m really not ready” I said.
I heard Erwin stand up behind me and I tensed at the kettle finished boiling. I felt a hand gently rub my back as Erwin softly continued. “I think you might be ready but you’re scared, is that what this is?”
I turned around to look at the man stood in front of me, his eyes glazed ready for tears and a sad smile on his face. He seemed so hopeful in that moment that I would turn around and say ‘yes, Erwin. I am scared but I love you and I want to spend the rest of my days with you. Please marry me and have babies with me’. However, I did the opposite.
“Erwin, I’m so sorry but I cannot do this. I still care for you greatly but I won’t be able to get back together with you. I’m sorry” I looked at my chucks and shook my head.
“Look at me and tell me” He demanded, sadness weeping from his voice.
I did as I was commanded and spoke again more softly gazing into his eyes “I cannot do this. I can’t be with you”
Tears began to fall from his face at this point as I shattered the world around him and ruined his future. He began to shake and I reached up to wipe a tear, this time he let me.
“I j-just want a f-family, Levi.” He sniffled.
“I know Erwin, but you won’t get that from me. You deserve someone who will give you the family you want, maybe a lovely lawyer or someone owning a bookshop or a doctor of a policeman. You’ll find someone that isn’t me” I murmured, rubbing his arm as I spoke.
He looked down and back up to looking at me, a lost expression on his face.
“Tch.” I opened my arms and Erwin accepted my hug. We stood there in an embrace for a few moments before I patted him on his back and turned around to make my tea.
He cleared his throat, “Okay! Well I’ll be off then. Be at the arena at 4 on the dot, as I’m sure you will be. That is in 2 hours might I remind you so you might want to have a shower and wear some different black articles of clothing tonight. See you”
“Yep, thanks.. Bye” I bluntly said as I made my tea with my back facing him, and I heard the back door shut sharply. It was once the door was closed that I felt my own tears start to fall.
The stadium lights came on and the crowd cheered as we ended out song. “Thanks you guys!” Marco screamed into his microphone, earning a chuckle from Farlan over the band’s headset.
“Right you fuckers” I spoke into my micro phone and moved it so that it was close to the ground. “You’ll have to give us a minute to set up but we’re doing two covers tonight” I said, awarding me with cheers from the whole crowd.
I walked backstage and swapped my Gibson SG for my old faithful acoustic I had had since my foster mother had bought it for me when I was 14.
I came back on stage and waved off Marco and Farlan as they were stood awkwardly waiting for me to get started. I sat down on the edge of the stage and angled the microphone to my mouth.
“So, I’m going to play to you a song that not many of you may know but it’s beautiful and fuck it” I said, earning laughs from the crowd.
I started the intro to the song and I heard a few speckled shouts from in he crowd. Mikasa and one of her friends seemed to know this one two as they both screamed simultaneously as I began, while Jean stood next to them looking out for Marco heading in his direction.
You could be my unintended
Choice to live my life extended
You could be the one I'll always love
I sang with my eyes closed as I played my guitar, bobbing my head to keep myself in time.
I'll be there as soon as I can
But I'm busy mending broken
Pieces of the life I had before
I went on to the next verse and I heard people screaming from in the crowd as Marco and Farlan made their way around. As I had hoped, all the attention was placed away from me. All but the same brown haired boy from last night, who was not even filming me but staring directly at me and singing along. I stared at him as I carried on singing, making him smile which made me smile.
I'll be there as soon as I can
But I'm busy mending broken
Pieces of the life I had before
I finished the song and the crowd erupted into cheers. “Thank you.” I said, standing up and looking towards backstage to see one of the stage crew walking on to swap me back my electric guitar for our next song.
“Can someone please haul up the arses of my two bandmates please, we have another cover to do” I said into my microphone as I tuned my guitar. As I spoke, Farlan walked on and Marco joined a few minutes later, blushing from supposedly seeing Jean.
"Rude" He mouthed at me, picking up his bass guitar.
“Cheeky prick” Farlan said over the bands headset.
“This next song is by my favourite artist of all time,” started Marco “It really means a lot to me, and so does he. He’s always been an inspir-“
“It’s fucking Bowie” Farlan said again over the headset, causing me to snort and face away from the microphone so I could laugh without anyone hearing. God love Marco but he always milks intros.
“Okay blablabla Its Bowie” Marco finished, sounding stroppy. I laughed again and looked up to Farlan as he looked at me, and then he counted us in.
The lights came on as we did, yellow and using along to the music. I slowly banged my head along to the intro alongside Marco as we got into the song.
Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly,
And the spiders from Mars. He played it left hand
But made it too far
Became the special man, then we were Ziggy's band
I sang along rarely looking at my guitar as I had played this one many times before, and looked into the audience as I did. Quite a few people were singing along or filming, and some even dancing. But my eyes were once again drawn to Mikasa’s friend with the brown hair who was simply standing there smiling and singing along. Every time I looked at him I smiled and was reminded of when I used to go to concerts and aim for front row so I could live in the moment and enjoy the music.
So where were the spiders, while the fly tried to break our balls
With just the beer light to guide us,
So we bitched about his fans and should we crush his sweet hands?
“Good show everyone, now go to bed so theres that much energy tomorrow” Erwin congratulated us after the show. “You were all great” He beamed, seemingly proud of us.
My mask of pleasure was slowly fading, however, as I felt myself ready to go home. “See you all tomorrow at mine then for the final setlist.”
“Yesss me and Iz can finally tell you what our grand plan is, we need everyone to join in and we mean everyone! Get the stage crew doing percussion or backing vocals, get Hanji on another guitar, Izzy can sing with you. It’ll be great” Farlan beamed as he ran through his plan, still refusing to give away the song until tomorrow.
“The suspense is killing me; goodnight” I said as I walked away from my chattering band members and put on a hoodie than I jogged home in, by some beautiful miracle unnoticed.
I’ll do this tomorrow, I thought to myself.
I reached my house and immediately took a shower before putting on a random black t-shirt that was probably Metallica or something along with black joggers to sit on my balcony with my cigarette.
Despite the mask Erwin has put on, I could safely assume he wasn’t doing too god right now as well. I had effectively told him that I would never be in a relationship with him ever again and I knew that that would hurt him, but I really couldn’t do anything about it.
I really wasn’t ready for a family.
I sat and finished my cigarette before I left my balcony to clean my apartment as I hadn’t done so for a few days now and the woman I hired to clean while I was gone missed an awful lot; this being why I fired here.
It would be a long but calming night.
Happy New Year!
Hope this was alright for u lot.
Thanks for reading, next one will be a little while now as I'm taking a small small break but it won't be ages as I want to keep writing.
(Follow my instagram @regular___john)