[ Author's Notes ]
Alright, the prologue! ..right, it's been months since I promised this remake version and I'm sorry about that. A lot of things came up during that time and I was really stressed so updating was the least of my worries.
In any case, this fic is back and it's ready to be written, so please do enjoy and I hope you still stay with it.
Also, some things to note: it's a little easy to assume but please don't believe that the setting of this fic is in Japan, America, or even in the Shingeki Universe because it's not. Most likely, it'll seem similar to that of manga/anime Japan setting but that's not necessarily correct. The universe that this fic takes place in is the "Caught in the Crossfire" Universe. The current city that they live in is called Trost. That's something to first note. Throughout the series, I'll be mapping out and describing the universe so don't dwell too much on it.
Sounds Like Criminals
"…The police are still lacking sufficient evidence and leads that can verify whether last Monday's bank height was really the responsibility of the Titans or not—"
As the reporter on the television continued on about a current police investigation, Levi sat to himself at the dining room table, huddled over a few sheets of paper that were scattered across the table surface. The sleeves of his long, white button-up were pulled and folded up until his elbows. His hand reached for an old, white-dented coffee mug and brought it close to his lips, his dark, sunken eyes remaining attentive to his papers as he took in a sip.
There was a lot on the papers that he had to go over—civil rights, laws, criminal psychology. A lot of stuff that dealt with subject like law enforcement and policing; they were a slight annoyance but the police examination was no laughing matter.
The effort wasn't smooth-sailing, though; a lot of banging and stomping was going on outside in the hall, and although he wouldn't say it bothered him from concentrating, it was easily noticeable.
"…If things continue any longer, the police report that the case may have to be put in suspension until new evidence finally surfaces—"
"And that's because you guys are looking in the wrong places," spat out a tall brunette, clad in a casual blue jumper ensemble with a white inside shirt. A hand on her hips while the other pushed her glasses upwards on the bridge of her nose, her lips were pulled into a disapproved thin line as she continued. "If you guys just connected the evidence with the forensics team, then you'd be able to get a damn clue—"
"Hanji," Interrupting the brunette's rant, he looked up from his paperwork and tossed her a sideways glance, silent in his appearance but with a firm resolution. "Go and check what's going on outside."
"Outside?" The brunette—Hanji—repeated, confused, but then blinked herself out of it once the clatter of sounds and thumps suddenly became more clearer and distinct to her ears. "How long has it been like this? I didn't even notice there was going on!"
And it made sense that she hadn't noticed; ever since the news report on the Titans had sprung up, she'd been hell-bent on spitting out criticisms against the local police.
For about five months, the headlines and news reports had almost always included something about the Titans—a growing criminal syndicate running amuck in the city of Trost. They were nothing but a bunch of criminals that came out of nowhere, inconspicuous the first time they struck a crime and then suddenly asking for fame. The police had called them out as an odd bunch; the public was dubbing them nothing more than child's play that could easily be put away.
To them, their own as it's said—in this case, however, the public was nothing but dead wrong.
"That's a lot of noise for a Saturday afternoon. I bet that it's some kids playing ball or something, don't you think, Levi?" Hanji grinned, quickly peering over her shoulder to glance at him and then heading towards the door.
At the table, Levi merely gave a small note of indifference, fluidly returning his attention back onto his paperwork. He reached for his coffee mug again and sipped, putting it off to the side once again after he finished.
"Levi! Guess what?" From under the doorway, Hanji let out an excited squeal as she continued to peek out into the hall. "It looks like you've got new neighbors!"
"Fantastic," Levi responded, still maintaining his one-sided rapt attention on the papers in front of him. "How far down are they?"
"About two doors down, maybe?" Hanji said, looking all the more interested and curious as she continued stay hidden behind the door. "And it looks like it's a family!" she announced. "I'm thinking a young couple, most likely some kind of a doctor and a housewife. I'm guessing they're pretty humble considering their choice of living arrangements, and they might be from the countryside outside of Trost." Hanji grinned, once again peering back at Levi. "Oh! And it looks they have a kid too! I think it's a boy."
Again, for the umpteenth time, Levi hadn't bothered much with a response, absorbed in his studies. The fact that the one of the first police exams were coming up in less than a week gave more than an incentive in leading the entire core of his focus on meager topics that he'd rather not indulge. After all, his brain capability was nothing like Hanji's who'd finish her reviews in less than a day or two and not even with one cup of coffee.
Also, he wasn't one to personally go out of his way to meet his neighbors unless for a good reason. He'd met more than half of the neighbors around him with occasional run-ins, a short instance of eye contact and nothing else. Their names barely phased into his memory because he'd only heard of them once by hearsay, and by then, he'd only dub them by what he saw.
Next door on his right lived an old, elderly couple who spent their days tending to their small garden on their balcony as well as their three cats; sometimes they'd see him and smile but Levi wouldn't blame them if they consistently forgot his name.
In front of him was a family of four; the man of the house was a salary man who seemed to be reaching more than just a few bumps on the road, always screaming with his wife so loud that it could walk the entire apartment complex. Levi had only met him once to report that the man was too loud and bothersome for yelling so late into the night. It had only taken that one notification for the man to avoid Levi like a plague, and after that, Levi never spoke to him again.
Their daughters, on the other hand, were two high schools girls who were quieter than the mice that crawled between the walls. Levi often forgot that they existed but it wasn't if he does it on purpose.
And then, on his left, there was a young man in his late twenties that seemed to only be bent on spending the better half of his life playing virtual reality games—at least that was what Levi saw when he went to deliver a message from the landlord once. The guy was always holed up in his apartment so Levi barely saw much of him as well.
Neighbor interactions were rare and few which was why he decided to just introduce himself at some other point, if only to keep tabs on them in the case they were connected to criminal suspicions. It worked once—at one point, Levi had an inkling suspicion that the man who lived to the right of the salary man worked for an underground drug trade, especially considering the smell of it was clear as day but no one had the guts to inquire.
Levi never met the man, and obviously, that might have been the guy's mistake because Levi had the guts, the indifference, and the bluntness of himself to report anything that was criminally suspicious. For him, it had been a walk through the park when he made the report and provided the evidence.
That being said, his suspicions on them were fresh until he got a good look. Just because they had a kid didn't mean that they could be doing bad.
"Hey, Levi, someone's here to see you!"
Hanji said, moving herself next to the doorway and then opening the front door wide. A smile was still on her face as the door creaked to a slop stop fully wide open, and it had been at that point that Levi lifted his head.
In the hall stood a young, brown-haired boy wearing a green shirt and trousers, looking every bit of a countryside local as he bit at his lips.
The boy started, sounding hesitant but nothing close to nervous.
"Ah," he started, his green eyes looking everywhere else into Levi's apartment except on them. The boy's lips twisted into something that looked to be a mix of a nervous scowl and a quivering line, certainly making it obvious that the boy certainly had no clue on what he was doing.
"My…My mom said to meet some neighbors and here I am and that we just moved in right now and," the words just fell out of his mouth like he just wanted to puke and get it over with. "My name is Eren and…" There was a bit of stumble as he finished, but he still made himself to look as awkward as the bright orange tiles on the island counter in Levi's kitchen. "My name is Eren."
On the side, Hanji cooed and clasped her hands together out of delight, finding the Eren's awkward greeting.
"Aren't you precious?" Grinning, she came close to the doorway and leant forward, placing her hands on her lap as she tried to meet Eren's eye level. "It's nice to meet you, Eren! My name is Hanji," she said, pointing at herself and jabbing a thumb behind her. "And that guy over there is Levi. He's actually your real next door neighbor." She looked back at Levi. "Levi, you should say hi him too!"
At the table, Levi crossed his arms and leaned back slightly away. "Hi, kid," was all that he said as he stared Eren stared Eren down. "What's your name, again?"
Squirming in his feet, Eren answered, albeit a little unsure. "It's Eren?"
"Levi, you're going to scare him away if you keep glaring at him like that." Hanji snickered before returning her attention back onto Eren for a moment and then at Levi again. Amused, she prodded a thought to Levi, "Why don't we go walk him back to his place? That way, you could meet his parents and get to know your neighbors?"
"Why not?" Hanji grinned, pointing at Eren. "It looks like they could be the normal neighbors you've always wanted." And then she snapped her fingers as another thought came. "Plus, we've also got a good chance to check them!"
"What does that mean?" Eren asked, curious as he peered up at Hanji. "Why do you have to check us? I swear, we didn't see steal anything.. My mom is especially good." His lip quivered slightly if only because that idea alone made him nervous.
At the sight of it, Hanji cooed once again. There were small pools of tears forming at the corner of Eren's eyes and it was pretty obvious that he wasn't aware of them. He looked as though he was trying hard not to be the least bit bothered by the suggestion but the clear, nervous and slightly desperate lip quiver was giving him away.
"We're checking you guys out because your introduction made it sound like your mom was a criminal sneaking up on us." Levi stood up from his chair and then crossed his arms once again.
From the side, Hanji shook her head with a smile on her face; Levi's sense of humor was horrible.
"Your mom's probably the criminal mastermind, isn't she?"
"No!" Eren shook his head rapidly, the locks of his hair swaying back and forth. "My mom isn't a criminal! Take it back!" The former nervous and apprehensive look that had entirely defined Eren just a moment ago disappeared and was immediately replaced by a scowling one.
A pout formed on Eren's lips as he stomped his feet consistently. "Take it back! Take it back!" The kid looked almost like he was to cry with the way his lip started to quiver and his eyes continued to stare up at him. "Mooooom!"
And with that, Eren had run off back to his own apartment.
Hanji shook her head.
"Levi, you're terrible. Your sense of humor is horrible."
"At least I don't break out the shitty puns."
"Orange you glad that I don't say them often, though?" The deafening and hardened stare that Levi tossed to her was nothing close to amused. "Alright, alright, are we going to meet to your neighbors and explain to them why their son just ran home almost in tears just a few minutes they moved in or not?"
There was barely any resistance as Hanji's lips curled into amusement and tried to push away the strong urge to laugh.
"Greetings," she started. A snicker escaped her lips as she continued. "Are you the new neighbors that just moved in?"
"Why, yes," A dark-haired woman replied, an earnest smile on her lips as she bit back any remnants of surprise and curiosity in her expression. "I'm Carla Jaeger. My husband and my son, Eren, just moved in today." And as if on cue, she moved out of the way to reveal a cautious Eren gripping onto the back of her dress, keeping his full attention all on Levi. "Eren, I thought you said you already met them? Why are you hiding?"
Eren shook his head and then pointed a finger towards Levi. "Mom, that guy called you a criminal!"
"You're mistaken, kid." Levi cut in, eyes glancing down at Eren for a moment and then flickering to Carla, completely unmoved by the accusation. "I said that it was criminal for your mom and dad to decide to move in at this ungodly hour in the afternoon."
All Eren could do was gape at the obvious lie that Levi gave while Hanji's lips twitched into a knowing smile.
Another voice interrupted.
"I'm afraid that it really was a mistake on our part," a man that they guessed could only be Eren's dad stepped up, offering a smile as he placed his hands on Carla's shoulders. "We didn't expect city traffic to be as quite as busy than it was when we left early morning. But better late than never, right?" He chuckled low as he extended a hand out towards Levi. "Grisha Jaeger. It's very nice to meet you." He nodded towards the bespectacled brunette.
"Levi." Levi introduced, ignoring Hanji's addition of "And I'm Hanji!" as he continued, taking the handshake with a nod. "Welcome to the neighborhood. If there's anything you need to do, ask someone else in the front desk."
At this, Grisha laughed, accepting and taking Levi's joke in good stride. On the other hand, Hanji shook her head to herself—Levi's humor really needed work.
"I'm sorry, but may I ask?" Carla piped up, looking between Levi and Hanji, curiosity in her eyes. "Are you two…?'
"Yes," Hanji answered with a chirp. "We're students at the local Police Academy. We're also nineteen years old if that was what you were wondering." She finished with a smile. "You might see me often at Levi's place because we're placed in the same training unit."
Although Carla was a little perplexed, Eren was not. His eyes grew wide as he gazed in some kind of awe at both Hanji and Levi, jaw dropped. "You're police officers?"
"That's right, Eren!" Hanji grinned, pointing out a finger. "We're police officers in training, so obviously, we're pretty good guys!" And then she gestured towards Levi. "Levi can be a little too blunt at times so that's why he needs practice! Make sure you visit him whenever you want to, okay?"
"Okay!" Eren chirped, eyes glistening in excitement.
Meanwhile, Levi gave a hidden jab towards Hanji's side, to which the brunette uttered a small guttural noise but not quite giving out. His eyes returned back down onto Eren, who had changed from looking at him with uncertainty to something of admiration and high regard. He merely put it off as nothing, soon leaving the Jaegers with a just a curt nod of a farewell and returning back to his apartment with Hanji in tow.
However, little did Levi expect that Eren was going to be anything more than the annoying kid who lived in his apartment complex.
Ahaha. Oh, Hanji. Carla was really asking whether they were in a relationship. ;D But Hanji is so smooth. Learn from Hanji, guys. Avoid awkward questions the HANJI-WAY.
And Levi's humor. I think we all know how his humor should be like.
Anyways, this chapter is the prologue. Eren is five years old, while Levi and Hanji are nineteen years old. For those who have read this fic before, there is still a time-skip.
And please leave review if you can! They make me happy. ^^
Also, you can find me as sassirin at tumblr! It's a SnK blog, and sometimes, I post fics there.
Any questions, concerns, comments—please feel free to tell me! And really, thank you so much for reading!
P.S. I kind of messed up half-way into this chapter. I'm sorry about the characterizations. I'll rewrite the prologue sometime in the future!