Over And Out (l.h)
End Up Here - Part 4
Pairing: Luke Hemmings x 5sos! Fem! Reader
Summary: A tour. A secret relationship. And rumors only grow...
Warnings: Angst, mild smut. Mentions of harassment, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, creepy men, jealousy, alcohol, cheating, fighting, sexism, and many frustrations. Language and some grammatical errors (English is not my first language, I’m sorry)
Word Count: 10k
Author’s Note: this is the most frustrating thing I’ve ever written, I believe. Next part will be up on March 14th. Remember that Reblogs, Fedback, Comments and Likes are very important! You have no idea how much they help me ❤️ Hope you like it and Happy Reading 🦋🌻✨
My Materialist // wanna be part of my tag list?
Series Materialist || part 1 || part 2 || part 3
Liked by michaelclifford, 5sosfan4eva and 1,573 others
lukehemmings and away and away we go ✈️
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5sosfan4eva THEY ARE TOTALLY DATING
↪️ calumlovesash I hope they’re not 🤢 she was much better with Madden or Josh. At least they’re famous
yn5sos I’m changing seats with Michael
↪️ lukehemmings @yn5sos 🥺
@5sos EUROPE ARE YOU READY?!
“I can’t believe we’re already here!” Y/N cheered as they got to the hotel.
It’s been a month on the road already and they finally had a few days to rest before traveling to yet another destination. They had the idea of doing a tour to promote not only their new singles and tease the album release that’s bound to happen next year, and it ended up being one of the most incredible ideas they had after spending almost a year without doing shows.
They started with a small tour in Europe, then they will move on back home in Australia for a couple of shows, and then the big finale in the United States where most of their shows were already sold out. By that time, the fans would’ve already listened to the new songs and be even more hyped for the new album.
Luke was the newbie on tour, this not being the first time he traveled away from home, but the first time he did it with people he cared about. He was having the time of his life with Y/N, the boys, and their s.o. It all felt like a dream. He was actually living the life of a rockstar on his summer break, even if most of the things they did they had to keep it a secret.
When Y/N invited Luke on tour there was no way he would’ve said no to her - not just because he pretty much can’t say no to her, but that’s another story.
She said she wanted to take it slow and that was exactly what they were doing. They didn’t put a label on whatever they had going on, but rather they enjoyed the moment stealing kisses and nights whenever they could.
They would sneak out into each other's rooms late at night, longing to be closer. They would spend hours upon hours tangled in the sheets, loving each other and sharing whatever was on their minds at the time. Making those moments their own amid their borrowed time between destinations. A moment for the two of them.
Luke found it weird at the beginning; hiding their relationship from the world until it became official. But these last few months he could see a change in Y/N, she seemed happier, more open to talking about her feelings and her past. He understood that this was important to her, to live a normal life until she feels ready to share it.
If time is what she needed, time is what she’ll get.
The boys and their girlfriends were all supportive. They too understood the importance of keeping some things private as well as the changes in Y/N’s behavior. They were all happy to see their friend back, just in time for tour.
But it was almost impossible to control what was put in the media. The fans already know who Luke is and that he spends a lot of time with the members of their favorite band. They speculate about his relationship with Y/N, creating rumors that even though he wants to, he can’t confirm nor deny. And when it came to the media outlets, those were much, much worse.
They didn’t say much about him “The privilege of being normal” Said Calum once. But they did have a lot to say about Y/N…
“Y/N L/N is back at it again with a new man?!”
“No tears this time? Y/N L/N Caught smiling and getting cuddly with a member of her team! Can she mix work and pleasure?”
“Serial heartthrob Y/N L/N seen with other men while still refusing to talk about her most recent break-up? Sounds fishy to me!”
“What was she thinking?! Y/N L/N was spotted in an outing with his “new friend” wearing very thin shorts and a crop top. Not so family-friendly apparently”
Horrible things were written about her every day but she ignored them as if they didn’t exist. Luke wished he could do the same.
Every little article, tweet, or comment about Y/N made his blood boil. It was clear that they were completely made up to be some “big news” when the reality was far from that and they kept disrespecting them and their relationship even if it was still on the down-low.
But Luke could not stop reading them. It was addictive how he couldn’t resist clicking on her name every time it popped out, not because of some morbid reasoning behind it, but because those articles seemed to know more about Y/N than Luke himself. People kept talking about a past he didn’t know she had. Were those made up as well? Or are they based on reality? Would he be able to know the difference?
Truth was, he couldn’t. He loves Y/N blindly, he got to know her in one of the most genuine ways but it feels like that is not enough. It’s almost like she is living a secret life he doesn’t get to know.
He wonders when it will end. This seemingly permanent stage of seating on the sidewalk, waiting for the light to turn green so they could walk freely into their relationship. Where people will support them, respect her and let them be happy. But that could never happen when she’s the one who doesn’t want to move.
Luke respects that she is not ready to talk, as she said time and time again. But he just couldn’t comprehend how she, right now, could be so at peace while her name is thrown through the mud and back. Smiling with the boys as they take pictures for promo while management arranges the check-in. Does she not know what they are saying about her or she just accepts it without any retribution?
He was asking himself all these questions as he watched her so happy, his mind tormenting him with a dark cloud over their sunny day. He wants to protect her, but he doesn’t know how or if she would even let him.
And yes, maybe that was selfish of him. Banging on a closed-door with his heart in his hands. But what about the person with the key and the lock? Aren't they a little bit selfish too?
“Hey!” He heard Kat said as she sat beside him, nudging her shoulder against his.
Luke turned to her, his eyebrow still locked in a frown as he muttered a little “hey”
The blonde girl scrunched her nose at him “Yikes, what's happening that it has you all worked up, buddy?”
Luke pressed his lips on a thin line as his eyes traveled back at Y/N. She was laughing at something Ashton had said when she turned to look at him.
Y/N smiled, winking at him as she waved. Luke stared at her for a while, a small smile playing on his lips as he raised his hand in acknowledgment. He could feel his heart skipping a beat every time their eyes met, but the dark feelings in his mind made his expression turn sour the moment Y/N turned around again, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the girl sitting next to him.
“You read them again, didn’t you?” Kat asked, already knowing the answer just by looking at how his shoulders tensed the moment she asked it.
They were all aware of the tabloids and the stories, being a regular occurrence to them, but not for Luke. They all knew this was new to him as well and how overwhelming it might be. So they all tried to ground him as much as possible, not letting him get affected by it as he had before.
“Now why are they saying that?!” He spat as he threw his cellphone on the leather couch, calling the boy's attention.
It was a normal day at the studio. They were all getting lunch as they laid back in the break room while Y/N and their girls went out to get them coffee.
Calum was the first one to speak, confused by his friend's sudden outburst “Uh, what exactly? And who?”
“This!” He said, grabbing his phone and tossing it at Calum. The rest of the boys gathered around as Luke plopped himself down on the couch.
Ashton began to read out loud “Seeing the growing rumors of Y/N’s mystery man, here’s a list of every guy we wished would date her”
“Okay that’s fucked up,” Michael said, swallowing his food.
“It’s better than the last one…”
“What?!” Luke asked, outraged that there are worse things out there.
“Dude, chill,” Calum said, “We understand this is beyond fucked, especially now that you’re dating or whatever. But you getting this angry at it won’t solve anything”
“Won’t solve anything?!” He said in a loud tone “That’s my girl they’re talking about. My girl dating other guys while she’s with me!”
“But they don’t know that,” Michael argued.
Luke shook his head, taking his phone back from Calum’s hands as he started typing furiously.
“What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?! Letting them know that they can go fuck themselves” Luke answered, eyes still on the phone, a second away from pressing send before Calum snatched his phone.
“No!” He said “You are not going to out your relationship without her consent!”
“Plus, I already took care of it,” Ashton said, holding his phone up “I tweeted at them telling them how incredibly disrespectful they’re being, now the fans are onto them and I already messaged management to deal with it”
“And that’s it?” Luke’s eyes winded “That’s all you’re gonna do?”
“That’s all we can do right now,” Ashton said with a sigh, sitting next to it “We know these situations suck, they’re horrible and dehumanizing and we are glad more people are realizing just how shitty the media is. But if we respond to every rumor there is it’s going to be a never endless battle, it’s going to backfire. We know, we tried”
“But all the stories are aimed against her” Luke said, running a hand through his face with frustration clear in his eyes “She didn’t do anything wrong!”
“Why do you think that is?” Michael chimed in “Think about Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears… They aim for women because they think are easy to kill”
“Which they’re not. It makes them stronger somehow. I wouldn’t have been able to handle it if I was them” Calum said “Women are stronger than you think when it comes to this, Y/N included”
“We’ve been living with this kind of shit show for years. We defended her with knives and teeth, dragging every single outlet that posted something against her. But that shit only made it worse for her”
“They loved the attention they were receiving” Ashton’s voices laid with sarcasm “Every interaction we had they profited from it, creating even more rumors, one worse than the other, just so they could have the clicks. Eventually, Y/N asked us to stop defending her publicly and she decided to ignore it altogether”
“But we still fight for her, though. We flag the post, demand they take it down, talk to PR and management for damage control, and even sue for defamation a couple of times. She’s never got to go through any of that on her own, we wouldn’t have allowed it”
“And what am I supposed to do, then?” Luke asked, a mix of frustration and desperation filled his voice “Just do nothing?”
“Be there for her” Calum answered like it was the most obvious thing in the world “Support her. Love her. Comfort her. Whatever she needs. She’s a strong woman, one of the strongest we know. But there will come a time when she will have to lean on someone, and you have to be there and ready for her. She trusts you. Don’t let her down”
Kath placed a hand on Luke’s shoulder, understanding the man’s pain.
“I just-“ He said with a sigh “She never reads them, you know? The articles. But I do, I can’t help it. They seem to know more about her than me and that’s just-“
“Yeah,” He said as he took a long breath “I don’t know… I’m trying. This is all very new to me and she’s a professional at dealing with this kind of shit. But at the same time, she never tells me anything, how she feels about them or if they’re real or not. It’s fucking me up”
Kat hummed “And I assume you don’t ask her about it either”
The girl crooked an eyebrow at Luke, seemingly seeing through him “I- I don’t want to push”
She sighed and patted his shoulder “Let me tell you something, Luke. From girlfriend of a celebrity to the boyfriend of a celebrity” She started, earning Luke’s complete attention “When I started dating Calum we decided to keep it private, out of the eyes of the media and even from some of his friends. It was good at the beginning, great even! But the heart is ambitious and it always ends up wanting more. We fought a lot during those times, part of us wanting to hold on to what we had but at the same time longing for some kind of freedom. In the end, we did end up going public, as you know. We endure a lot of hate, we still do. But we knew what we were up against, you’re still trying to figure that out. But I’m telling you to know there is something you’re lacking”
“And what is that?” Luke asked with curiosity.
“Communication” Kat smiled sweetly at him “How do you expect to reach a meeting point while you’re sitting here in your own dark cloud and she’s over there with no clue of what’s happening with you and vice versa?”
The blonde girl got up from her seat next to him, giving him one last piece of advice before walking towards Calum “Don’t give up before you try. No one said it was going to be easy but, it’s your choice to see if it’s worth it”
Luke watched her walk away, rousing her arms around Calum’s waist as she smiled sweetly at him, giving him a small peck. Luke smiled at their love.
He thought about their friends, how in love they are with their partners and how free they are to love publicly, facing the retaliations of being in the public eye. But they seemed happy, they were happy. And he realized he wanted that for him and Y/N.
His mind drifted off to the possibility of going public, cleaning the air once and for all. No more “mysterious guy” or “Y/N’s possible secret lover” he’d be Luke Hemmings, the proud boyfriend of singer Y/N L/N. They could be happier, free. They could fight those rumors together and face the stormy weather that would come. He’d defend her until the end of times, protecting her with his life and supporting her in everything she does. He wanted that for them. But it wasn’t his sole choice to make.
“Babe!” He heard Y/N call.
She was walking up to him, a playful smile on her face as the nickname rolled off her tongue. She was wearing one of his hoodies, making her look small as she approached him.
He noticed that her eyes were shining, lately, they always did and he couldn’t get enough of them. He could get lost in her eyes willingly, throwing away the map and making himself home.
He loved her. Oh, he was so in love with her he didn’t even know what to do. The more he thought about it, the more sure he was about wanting to love her freely. He just wished she thought about it too.
“I got our keys” She smiled, pulling two cards out of her back pocket.
“Oh?” Luke asked playfully with a grin drawn into his face “And where am I supposed to sleep this week?”
In order not to create any suspicion about their relationship, they decided that Luke will have his own hotel room on tour - even though everyone knows that’s not where he sleeps or where he wakes up in the mornings. Usually “Luke’s room” is used to store the extra luggage they carry.
Y/N fake pouted “Sadly, Mr. Hemmings. Your room is at the other end of the hall”
Luke gasped “That far away?! Is there any way I can be… closer?”
The girl bit her lip as she rounded her arm around his waist, standing on her tippy toes as she softly whispered in his ear “Let’s see what I can do about that, Sir”
Y/N giggled as she heard Luke let out a soft groan, pecking his cheek with a small kiss as she stood in front of him again “Baby, you’re going to be the death of me” He said, trying to get a hold of her by her waist. But she was quicker, swiftly moving a step back as she started walking towards the elevators. One last look over her shoulder got him grabbing their things as he followed her without any questions.
The elevator ride is quiet, the beating of their hearts being the soundtrack to their wait as they reached their floor. Y/N didn't look at him as she walked towards the door, unlocking it with one swift movement of the wrist and leaving it open for Luke to come in after her.
When he opened the door, she was nowhere in sight. He wondered if she hid somewhere, this not being the first time she would jump and scare the shit out of him. But then, his ears picked up a soft humming coming through the bathroom door, and with a devilish smile he let their luggage at the side of the closet, he locked the door and made his way to her.
Y/N was humming one of her favorite songs when Luke caught her reflection in the mirror but she was not looking at him. She was putting some lotion in her hands, fingers tracing up until her upper arm with barely-there touches.
“Remember we have a party in a couple of hours, Hemmings,” She said when she felt him getting closer “We should get ready soon” He just hummed in agreement, not really paying attention to her words.
Softly, he placed his hands on either side of her hips, pulling her closer to him. Y/N kept ignoring him as she dried the excess of product out of her hands and it wasn’t until Luke pushed away some of her hair and started kissing along her neck that she finally gave him a proper response to his action.
Luke smirked as he felt her let out a shaky breath as his lips traced the shell of her ear, kissing it softly before moving lower and lower, kissing and sucking on her skin as slow as he could, making her tremble under his touch.
“Luke,” She said, holding her breath as she felt his calloused hands travel under the hoodie she was wearing. His hoodie. The one that always smelt like him.
“Hmm?” He asked, not stopping his movements for a second.
“We- uhm” The girl stuttered in a whisper when his hands started touching her over her bra, softly rolling over the nipples and making them hard “We should - oh - we should start getting ready soon”
“We should, huh?” He asked, voice raspy and low “It will be rude to go a little bit late. Wouldn’t it?”
Y/N let out a sigh when his hands left her breasts, trying to regain her breath before she lost it all over again when his fingers started playing with the hem of her jeans.
His fingers wandered carefully, fiddling with the button and zipper until they weren’t an issue. His lips grazed her neck up and down, kissing it softly as his fingertips finally reached her center.
She let out a soft moan when she felt him over her panties, tracing her lips over them and feeling her arousal “I’m sure they could wait a little bit longer” He said as he pressed a finger to her clit over the fabric “We need to take care of a few problems before that, don’t you think?”
He pressed his hips onto her, a soft whimper escaping her mouth when she felt his growing erection against her.
“So wet for me, my love” He groaned as her hand flew to the top of his hair, trying to find balance as she tugged on his curls “Always so beautiful for me”
He opened his eyes just in time to catch her staring at him through the mirror with a desperate look in her eyes. It took him less than a second to spin her around and press her against the countertop, ceasing his lips into her like she was his last meal on earth.
She tangled her hands behind his head, fingers deep into his hair as he grabbed her by the back of her thighs, easily lifting her off and taking her to the king-size bed where they made sure to lose track of time between kisses and moans as they satisfied their needs with each other, over and over again until they fell through the abyss of pleasure together, whispering sweet confessions as their breath went back to normal.
It was easy to say that they were the last ones to reach the lobby. What was hard for them to ignore was the knowing looks and teasing smiles from their friends that were waiting for them for a good amount of time.
“Don’t say anything” Y/N threatened Ashton as he opened his mouth. But he just laughed
“If you want Luke to walk around with his fly open then sure, I’ll keep my mouth shut”
The ride to the party was filled with laughter and chit-chats. They were all in a great mood to finally have a mini-break in between shows and what better way to celebrate it than at a big party?
Luke stole glances from Y/N as she talked to Bethany. She looked beautiful with her black dress, making Luke proud and a little bit snug about him being the one who would take her home afterward.
But he knew that after tonight they needed to talk. And not “talk” like they usually do. No, this time he was going to express his concerns to her, his hopes for them, and confess his love for her over and over again. He wanted her to know how he feels, he needed to know where they stand and what she needs to feel more comfortable and what he can do to help her feel at ease.
He just needs reassurance, something to hold on to while he provides the same for her. In the end, he knew they would be okay.
After a few minutes, they reached the house of the host. Luke marveled at the mansion that stood proudly in front of him. When Y/N mentioned a party with some label associates, she never mentioned that the party was going to be hosted by the president and owner of the label.
He felt Y/N tug on his hand a couple of times before separating herself from him and going to stand next to the girls.
For a moment Luke forgot that they needed to keep appearances and couldn’t be together romantically in public. He could feel his heart aching as he watched her walk away with her friends, laughing together as they stepped into the party.
“Hey,” Michael said behind him, following the eyes of the sad man next to him “It’s just one night”
He tried to be comforting, but all Luke could wonder was: Would it be just for a night?
The party was wild. That’s the first thought everyone has in their minds as they step through those doors into a world of darkness mixed with neon lights, smoke machines, and three open bars scattered around the hall. People were separated into groups: The ones who were too drunk to stop dancing, the ones not drunk enough to start dancing, and the ones who were networking their way into the industry.
Everyone that was someone was at that party. Producers, artists, songwriters, performers, agents… You name it. It was a party for the big leagues and Luke could not help but feel out of place the moment he stepped foot into the scene.
“Hey! 5 Seconds of Summer. C’mere!” A voice called over the music.
Standing not too far from them there was a man, his bald head shined under the lights as he held a drink to his lips, beckoning the band to come over.
Y/N and the guys started walking towards the man without a second to wait, leaving Luke and their girlfriends to witness the interaction from afar.
“Who’s that?” Asked Luke, getting closer to Danielle as they watched their partners laugh with a bunch of men who were now surrounding the band.
“That’s Anthony Kellinghs” She answered, swiftly grabbing a drink from one of the trays carried by the passing waitresses “He’s one of the big bosses in the industry. Ashton said his team approached them not too long ago to see if they would be interested in changing labels and work with them”
Luke glanced back to the group. Y/N was standing next to Calum, talking about something that made Anthony smile even though her face was serious. He did not like the way that man was looking at her.
Anthony laughed loudly, making other guests turn his face towards them. Y/N and the boys shared a confused gaze as they laughed awkwardly along with him. The bald man kept laughing, clearly intoxicated as he lowered his hand and rounded his arm around Y/N’s waist.
Luke’s breath got caught in his lungs as he watched how Y/N’s body movements came to a halt and her eyes widened in discomfort, her smile seemed stiff but she didn't stop laughing or talking to the guy. Luke could feel his blood boil as he watched his girl in the arms of someone else, acting like nothing was happening and that everything was fine, in front of him.
“What the fuck?” He muttered under his breath. Debating on whether he should go and punch that dude in the face. No matter how important he was in the industry, he wanted him away from Y/N immediately.
But he didn’t move and neither did Y/N. Luke didn’t know if it was because she physically couldn’t or because…
No, he rejected that thought immediately. It was clear to him by her eyes that she was desperate to get away from his touch. And apparently not only to him because the moment that man put his hands around her Ashton and Michael called his attention away from her, moving a few steps back so Y/N could have more space to free herself the moment she could. Calum had his eyes on her, too, with his arm placed to his side as if he were to take her away from there at any second.
Yet the man did not move an inch away from her. Instead, his hand trailed lower with every word he spoke, until Luke couldn’t see it anymore. All he could see what’s Y/N’s uncomfortable face as she suddenly jumped forward, fear written all over her eyes.
Luke let out a curse as he took a step forward, ready to beat that man’s face to dust. But he stopped when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Wait!” Danielle said, eyes locked on the scene played in front of them.
Luke stared ahead and let out a breath of relief when he saw Calum taking Y/N away from the group and towards the bar, seemingly excusing themselves to get a drink. He saw how his friend’s arm rounded around her shoulders, making it impossible for her to look back and for anyone else to notice her face as they walked away with no intentions of coming back.
Luke lost sight of them as he watched them disappear into the party. “Good,” he thought “At least she’ll be safe and away from him” But that thought did not calm the rage he felt towards the creep that dared touch her in front of her friends.
“I’m going to kill him” He hissed, once again trying to step forwards but once again being pushed back by Ashton’s girl.
“The guys got it covered,” She said, her sweet voice laced with a warning as she whispered loud enough for only them to hear “They will handle it and make sure they never work with that man, ever. It’s not the first time this has happened”
“This happened before?!” Luke said, attracting some curious eyes to him. But he couldn’t care less about it at the moment.
The girls looked at each other and then at Luke. How could they explain to the man that this happens more times than Y/N would be able to admit? They knew first hand how the industry was full of creeps and disgusting men, having dealt with them in the past as well, but Y/N…
She was the front girl, the main focus of attention. She was beautiful, talented, hot… that’s all they saw, never caring about her caring personality, or how intelligent she was, how she was the driven force of 5SOS. She was more than her looks, she was a girl trying to live her dreams. But men only seem to see one thing.
“I’m going to check on them,” Kat said as she walked towards where Calum disappeared with Y/N. Bethany mentioned going to Michael to try and make them get away from the conversation they were still having with that fucker.
And Luke stood there, not able to do anything “Y/N wouldn’t want you to cause a scene, that’s why the boys never do it anymore. She knows how important image is for all of them and a scandal is the last thing they need right now. Especially if some “random dude” goes and punch one of the biggest names in the industry”
Danielle was right and he hated that. He hated that he couldn’t do anything to defend his girl because she didn’t want to be defended. But the fact that she knew how to handle these kinds of things didn’t make it any less wrong or difficult for him to ignore. More so because their relationship was still kept a secret.
Luke couldn’t help but think that maybe if people knew they were together, things like these wouldn’t happen. After all, the only thing men like Anthony respected was the presence of another man.
Ashton and Michael returned after a minute, both of them with their jaws clenched and eyes filled with the same feeling of powerless Luke felt.
“Where is she?” Ashton asked, standing beside Dani and holding her close by the waist, almost as if he were scared something might happen to her.
“Kat went to check on them, they still haven’t returned,” She said, comforting her boyfriend by running her hand up and down his arm.
“This is bullshit” Luke murmured, frustration lacing his voice as he grabbed one drink from one of the waitresses and drowned it in one go without flinching. He turned around and started walking away from the group.
“Where are you going?” Michael asked, half concerned and half furious from him walking away at this moment.
“I need air” He answered as he took another drink and walked through the garden doors. Not even sparing a glance back when Y/N called his name as she watched him go.
Luke spent most of the night going back and forwards between the main hall and the garden. He drank whatever was being offered to him and sat down on a bench as he watched the casual smokers come outside, accompanying him from a distance.
He knew he was being childish. He didn’t understand much about the industry, nor how people that worked in it were. All Luke knew was that Y/N was nothing like them; she was not greedy, nor was she a creep, she wasn’t evil or ill-hearted and she didn’t deserve what happened.
He wanted to be with her, apologize for his shitty behavior, and tell her that he loved her. Because he did. He loved her with all his heart and it hurts him to see her like that. But every time he stepped through those doors back to the main hall - every time more intoxicated than the others - she was nowhere to be found. Or she didn’t want to be found, but that didn’t stop Luke from looking for her.
And every time, wherever he found her, she would have company. Sometimes she would be with the boys and their girlfriends laughing along with some other group of people - usually men - that stood a little too close and personal with her. Other times she would be on her own, talking to some guy or girl he didn’t know, too preoccupied with her conversation to even notice Luke standing at a distance, looking at her with longing eyes as he tried to find the courage to talk to her.
Then, he would go back to the bar, order his drink and go back outside or with the group, tightening the grip on his glass as he watched the girl he loves being swept away in conversations he couldn’t be a part of, after all, he was just one of the composers and her friend. Nothing else.
The guys and their girlfriends tried to cheer him up, including him in conversations and inviting him to dance. They knew how new this was to him, having to remind themselves every once in a while when they caught his sad eyes dancing across the room on the looks of his fleeting love.
“She came looking for you a few minutes ago while you were outside,” Dani told him the third time he came by the group.
“Why didn’t she go out with me?” He asked, eyes on Y/N as she talked to Michael and one of the producers they met in London a few years back.
“She was going to,” Ashton chimed in “She walked over there but I think Niall caught wind of her and they started to catch up”
Luke clenched his jaw at the thought of Y/N with other men. His mind couldn’t help but to go back to all those articles about her exes, her possible new partners, her possible future partners. Cheating scandals, break-up songs, parties where she didn’t leave alone… All the things she refused to acknowledge came to the surface, hitting Luke in the face as he realized that they might not all be lies.
He hated to think about her that way, to think that he didn’t trust her enough or that she didn’t trust him enough or whatever the fuck was wrong with them. But as he saw how Y/N hugged a stranger, all his thoughts went out the window.
“Who is that?” He asked no one in particular.
“Who?” Bethany asked in response, following Luke’s stare towards her friend “Oh, that’s Josh”
“Josh? As in Josh Benthlow? Her ex?”
Beth furrowed her eyebrows as she saw the look of pure rage on the blonde’s eyes “Uh, yeah? But you got something wrong there” She said, “They never dated”
Y/N laughed at something Josh said, pushing him playfully on the shoulder as he kept telling his story. Luke recognized the look in his eyes; it was the same way he used to look at Y/N when they first met: Pure adoration. And, he didn’t know if it was the alcohol in his system that was making him see things that weren’t there, but he could swear he saw Y/N flirt back at him.
“Friends don’t act like that” He spat, taking another sip from his drink, already losing count of how many he had that night.
“Hey!” Beth called his attention, taking the drink from him “That’s enough now. Alcohol is making you act like a complete asshole”
“I don’t care.” She said, interrupting whatever he had to say before he even said it “Look, I get that you’re getting used to all of this. But you need to stop with the jealous act right this instant. She’s famous, yes, they all are and that means that you will have to share her with the world whether you like it or not. It’s her dream after all, and besides Y/N would never do something like that to hurt you and you know it”
Not long after the group decided to go back to the hotel, having already stayed at that party longer than necessary given that they have a show the next day. The ride back was quiet, everyone either being too tired to even speak or too smart to try and cut the tension that was being created by the new couple’s behavior. Even when Y/N sat next to Luke he didn’t acknowledge her, keeping his eyes looking outside the window the whole car ride.
Y/N was one of the first ones to get out of the car, walking up to the elevators and not waiting for anyone as the doors closed.
Luke clenched his jaw as he contemplated not going to their room tonight, fighting with the feeling of not wanting to see her and the feeling of never wanting to let her go.
“You need to go there right now,” Calum said, taking a step next to Luke but not looking in his eyes “Having been her friend for so long I can see that she’s upset… Nah, fuck that. Even idiots can see that she’s upset”
Luke scoffed “She’s the one that’s upset?” Voice laced with sarcasm.
Calum hummed “Guess not every idiot can see that” He pressed the button of the elevator and hoped in with Kat, not waiting for Luke as the door closed in his face, but not before saying “You’re not the only one hurting, you know?”
It took another 20 minutes for Luke to open the door of their room. Again, Y/N was nowhere to be seen, but the light coming from under the closed bathroom door let him know that she was there.
He sat at the edge of the bed, hands covering his face as he now wished he hadn't drunk as much as he did. His head was spinning, he couldn’t decipher if it were because of the alcohol or because of his intrusive thoughts that wouldn’t leave his head.
Y/N got out of the bathroom for what it felt like an eternity later. She was wearing her Spongebob pajama and her hair was tied in a messy bun. Her makeup-less face looked tired as she didn’t glance at Luke before sitting by her side of the bed.
They stayed in silence for another five minutes before she decided to speak.
“Are we going to talk about tonight?” She said, voice neutral of any emotion.
Luke scoffed “Now you want to talk?”
She ignored him “I didn’t see you all night, Luke. I was worried”
“Oh, you were?” He mocked with cruel sarcasm as he got up from the bed and started pacing around the room “Funny way to show it you weren’t around!”
“I wasn’t around?! Luke, you spent half the night outside! Every time I came over you were nowhere to be found!”
“And every time I was there you were too busy talking to other people”
“I was working, Luke!” She said with a groan, massaging her temple as she turned to look at him “It’s part of my job to make connections at these kinds of events. And if you didn’t notice, Calum, Ashton, and Michael did the same”
“Well, you must be pretty damn good at your job then!”
Y/N looked at him, shocked by the way he was speaking to her “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Luke was angry at her question. How could she not know? “Why don’t you ask Josh what I mean?”
“Oh my fucking GOD,” She said with the loudest tone he’s ever heard her talk “That’s what this is all about?! He’s a friend!”
“I was a friend, too and we still fucked!” Luke matched her tone of voice, probably waking the people in the room next to theirs.
Y/N laughed humorlessly “You have no right to-”
“And whose fault is that? Huh? Whose fault is that I cannot call you my girlfriend in front of other people? Whose fault is that I have to stand to the side and watch you flirt with every guy on earth just because “it’s your job”?” He asked “Y/N, I’m trying so hard for you to let me in and the only thing you do is push me away! Are you embarrassed by me in any way?”
“No,” She said, finally meeting his eyes and seeing no more anger in them, just an incredible sadness for both of them “No, of course not”
“Then why?” Luke asked, taking a step towards her and cupping her cheek with one hand “Why can’t you let me protect you? Why can’t I be with you freely? I know some things are hard for you to talk about, love. I get that. But I’m drowning here, not knowing what to think or what to say to make you trust me”
Y/N stayed quiet as she looked into his eyes before looking away. Luke sighed.
“We don’t have to talk about this right now. But we’ll have to do it eventually”
“I know,” She said with a string of voice.
“Sorry for the things I said”
“I’m sorry, too”
Luke wanted to kiss her, to comfort her. Even though he is still mad at her, he still has this need to protect her from the wrongs of the world. But she’s got to let him in first.
Instead, Luke placed a kiss on her head and walked towards the bathroom to get changed for the night. When he came back Y/N was already asleep on her side of the bed, her back turned to Luke’s side.
He let out a sigh as he turned off the lights, laying down facing the other side as he murmured a “Good night” Barely missing the soft sniff she gave in response.
The next morning Luke woke up without her by his side. He felt a tug in his heart as he remembered all the things he said to her, the cruel way in which he implied that it was all her fault when both of them had a bit of blame to put in their names. He wouldn’t be surprised if in the middle of the night she decided to leave and sleep somewhere else.
He grabbed his phone from the nightstand, ready to give her a call and apologize properly, hoping she’d pick up. But just as he was about to press the call button, the door opened.
Y/N walked in, sandwich and orange juice in hand. A small smile came to her lips when she saw him already awake.
“Hey,” She said softly, almost like if there were someone else in the room that was sleeping “You missed breakfast, so I bought you this. It’s now much but-“
“Thank you,” Luke said with complete honesty.
Y/N nodded, walking up to his nightstand to place the drink and the sandwich. But before she could walk away again, Luke grabbed her softly by the arm.
“I’m sorry,” He said, his baby blue eyes looking into hers. He was sad to see no emotion in them compared with how shiny they were yesterday before the fight “I didn’t mean it”
Y/N let out a sigh as she sat on the bed next to him “No, you’re not” She said almost resignedly “And yes, you did. And it’s okay, I deserve it”
Luke shook his head, feeling even worse than before “No, Y/N I was out of place and-“
“You were, but that didn’t make your words any less than truthful. I hurt you, Luke. Even without wanting to” She said with a broken voice, but the tears didn’t come “But I want to change that. Tonight, we can talk after the concert. Okay?”
“I don’t want to pressure you” His hand flew to her face, placing a strand of hair behind her back. She smiled softly and kissed the palm of his hand.
“I know, but I want to” Finally, she got up from the bed and started walking into the bathroom, gathering some of her things. “We’ll start early today with some interviews and sound check, and the girls wanted to go shopping so they’ll meet us there. I will send a car for you before the concert and then we’ll talk. Alright?”
She grabbed her back and headed towards the door, giving Luke one last look and a soft smile before she left.
Luke didn't forget how she didn’t kiss him before she closed the door.
The day passed by and Luke was still in their room. He sat in front of the table with his notebook and pen, writing up words that, at that moment, reminded him of her.
He didn’t like how they were acting with each other. How quick everything went to shit after last night’s mistakes when words were louder than actions until those words became apologies.
Y/N said he didn’t mean his apology, and deep down he knew it to be true. He regrets the way he told her, admiring that he would have handled things a little better than he did. But he meant what he said about her pushing him away by not communicating. They were both trying but apparently, they sucked at it.
Truth was, there was no one to blame. Truth was, they were both at fault. And, truth was that he would still fall to his knees for her the moment she asked. Because he had never loved someone as much as he loved her.
When the time of the concert was almost upon him, he quickly jumped into the shower, ignoring all the beeps and rings of his phone as his thoughts and hopes filled his mind. He thought about what he was going to say to her, and he hoped that they could finally get past this and leave this whole situation behind; to start over and just be free.
He was putting on his shirt when his phone started beeping again, finally checking it to see what the fuss was all about.
Thousands upon thousands of notification flooded his screen, and they all said the same thing:
“Y/N AND MADDEN BACK TOGETHER?!”
“THE ENCOUNTER OF THE YEAR! MADDEN BANKS AND Y/N L/N SEEN TOGETHER AGAIN TALKING ON THE OUTSIDES OF THE VENUE”
“OMG Y/N X MADDEN SHIPPER REJOICE AS THE COUPLE SEEMS TO HAVE REKINDLED THEIR RELATIONSHIP AFTER CHEATING SCANDAL”
Luke felt as if an elephant was standing on top of his chest, losing his balance and falling to the bed with his phone in hand, unable to look away from his screen.
His breathing became elaborated as his eyes filled with tears as he read the tweets and article titles. He knew he shouldn’t click on them. He knew. And yet…
“Lead singer of the band 5 Seconds of Summer, Y/N L/N was last seen talking to her ex-boyfriend, Madden Banks, in a secluded alley outside the venue where the band is going to perform their concert tonight.
We last saw the couple last year around August when Madden announced their breakup after cheating scandals came out to the surface. None of the parties made any comments about it, but it was set to believe that Y/N was the one who committed the mistakes after a set of tweets on Bank’s personal account where it said that he was feeling “broken-hearted” by the situation and he hoped no one had to get through that ever again.
Now it seems that the past is the past! As Y/N and Madden were caught by paparazzi talking again, and by the looks on both their faces it seemed like their relationship was not over after all!
We are still waiting for confirmations from either of them but congratulations to the couple ❤️”
A set of pictures were attached to the article. All of them of bad quality and from questionable sources.
On the first one, you could see Madden smiling with Y/N’s back facing the camera. On the second one, Madden was closer to her, almost cradling her face as if to kiss her. The third picture had Madden pointing out the paparazzi, a surprised expression plastered on his face as Y/N appeared out of focus. The last picture had Y/N walking away with Madden following behind, both of them with angry faces seemingly for being interrupted.
Luke was gripping on his phone tightly, a sense of rage coming over him as he wiped his tears furiously and walked up the door. Turning off his phone before he could read Y/N’s message:
Y/N: it’s not true! Let me explain…
He did not go to the concert that night, nor did he stay in their bedroom, opting for sleeping in the room that was originally assigned to him.
His emotions walked him into a bar last night, letting him drown his sorrows in alcohol as he slowly drifted away from his senses. He doesn’t remember getting to the hotel, but he does remember not wanting to be with her that night. Feeling betrayed and used, what was the point?
It was pretty late when he woke up the next morning, too late for Y/N to even be in the hotel knowing that they still needed to do a lot of press before traveling to their next destination. It was sufficient to say that he was not going to go with them.
He was about to book a flight when he noticed his phone died while being turned off last night. He was in such a rush that he forgot to bring his charger with him, but he felt confident that it was safe for him to go back to her room now that she was gone. He would pack all his things and leave, he was not about to endure any of this shit anymore, no matter how much it hurts him.
When he opened the door to her room, however, Luke noticed that he was not alone.
“You didn’t come last night”
Y/N was standing by the window, looking at the street through the thin curtain, hoping she might catch a glimpse of Luke walking back to her. She was wearing the hotel’s robe and had her hair tied in a ponytail. Her voice was fragile, tired, and broken as if she spent all night crying.
“Good,” thought Luke “at least we’ll both be miserable”
Luke didn’t answer that, instead, he just asked “I thought you’d be doing the press tour”
She shook her head, her back still facing him as she sniffed “I couldn’t go. I didn’t know where you were”
He would’ve thought it was touching and he might’ve felt bad for her if she hadn’t shattered his heart the night before. So he said nothing.
“I needed you last night, Luke,” She said, voice a little firmer as she finally turned around. Luke’s heart ached when he saw her delicate figure, she looked sick, pale, and tired. Her eyes were puffy and her nose was red from all the crying. Part of him wanted to go to her and hold her, but her betrayal was still too fresh on his skin.
Luke scoffed “Sure you did” He didn’t intend for his voice to sound with such malice, but it was almost as if his tongue had a brain on itself “Was Madden not enough?”
“Is he here?” He asked, voice mocking interest as he walked around the room “C’mon Asshole!” He called, opening the closet doors and walking into the bathroom “You won, motherfucker, you can have her! It’s not like it’s hard anyway”
Her eyes widened at his words, cheeks turning pink at the realization of the insult “Luke!”
“Was this part of your plan?” He asked, turning towards her with nothing but the rage inside his eyes “To bring me here to make him jealous? To make me fall for you so easily? Is that why we never went public? Ha! Should’ve known you just wanted a free pass to whore around while still making sure you have a secure fuck waiting back at the hotel”
Y/N froze. Not even Luke could believe the words that were coming out of his mouth, but he was too far gone in his own anger to process them or to take them back.
“This is the part where you apologize,” She said, eyes filling with tears she refused to spill.
“No, this is the part where I tell you to fuck off” Luke spat, taking a step towards her, not realizing how she flinched as she took a step back “You know, I tried so fucking hard for months to make you happy. And every day I read those fucking articles that were talking shit about you and every fucking day I told myself that those weren’t real. That you weren’t like that… surprise, surprise! Looks like the cat is out of the bag. Makes sense! That’s why you never wanted to talk, you never wanted to admit to what you did because you never take any fucking responsibilities for the damages you cause! I thought I knew you, at least some parts of you. Turns out everyone is right about you. Every fucking word of it”
He turned around, ready to grab his things and go, but the adrenaline was kicking in and he just couldn’t stop.
“Tell Madden that he’s an idiot for taking you back,” He said with his back turned to her “That he should’ve left your cheating ass alone. Let you get what you deserve”
“I never cheated” She mumbled, voice barely above a whisper.
He scoffed “Yeah, right”
“I never fucking cheated!” Y/N raised his voice, making Luke turn around to face her. Her face was red with tears and she had her fist clenched to her sides, knuckles white from all the pressure she was putting in.
“I never cheated on Madden! I never fucking cheated on you! On anyone! He cheated on me, repeatedly and with several people for all the course of our relationship! I never touched a person outside ANY of my relationships. I have been nothing but faithful to you and now you’re throwing that shit at me without knowing an ounce of my side of the story?!
You want to know, Luke, why I never tell the story as it was? Why it’s so fucking hard for me to tell the story even to the people I love?”
It was a challenge, he knew from the look in her eyes that she was not going to stay quiet any longer. She didn’t even wait for his answer.
“I was fucking abused, Luke! Physically, mentally, sexually… you fucking name it! During that whole relationship. Want me to tell you the details or you could figure it out yourself?! I was getting beaten almost daily! I had to hide the bruises and cuts in front of the guys as they slowly watched me fall apart. I had to lie to them for YEARS because I genuinely thought he loved me. He said he did so I believed him. It wasn’t until one night where he got too far that I had to tell myself that it was enough. But what could I say? I was so fucking embarrassed I couldn’t go to the media that calls me a liar every chance they have! I couldn’t go to the police because he has money and could easily get away with it! I was so fucking alone until I met you and… You took his side”
Luke felt like his heart was taking a punch with every word that she said. Every tear that fell off her eyes was like a knife in the back. The guilt was eating him inside out, crashing into him like a tsunami. He should’ve kept his mouth shut, he shouldn’t have let his emotions take the reins, he should’ve... He felt all of his emotions turn to mush, all but shame as he stared into her eyes knowing he was the one who fucked up.
“I needed you last night when he cornered me. I needed you by my side as I broke down backstage because you weren’t answering your phone. How do you think I felt when I came into our room and found it empty? I was ready to tell you everything and then you just decided that wasn’t worth it anymore. That I wasn’t worthy anymore. All without giving me a chance” She cried, shattering sobs running through her body as she remembered the feeling of hopelessness she had “Not only that, but I come to find this on your side of the bed”
She threw his notebook at him, he didn’t need to open it to know what she read. Already regretting leaving it there.
“Sometimes, you're a stranger in my bed
Don't know if you love me or you want me dead.
Some days, you're the best thing in my life
Sometimes when I look at you, I see my wife
Then you turn into somebody I don't know
And you push me away
Fight so dirty, but your love's so sweet
Talk so pretty, but your heart got teeth
Late-night devil, put your hands on me
And never let go”
She recited the words by memory, having read them over and over again as she waited for him to come back.
“Is that really how you see me, Luke?” She asked, voice broken as she looked into his eyes.
Luke felt his body tremble with shame as he looked at her. He has never seen her look so sad and fragile before, the smile he loved so much was gone and he knew he might never see it again. He wanted to scream that that’s now how he saw her at all. Those words were written out of frustration, out of anger. He wanted to tell her that she’s the most amazing, loving, strong, intelligent person he know but... how could he even look her in the eyes?
He knew that he went too far. That he should’ve given her a chance to explain what happened instead of just letting the media fill his brain with lies; lies he believed without question because of his insecurities. He broke the strongest girl he’s ever known, but she was still standing.
Despite the hurt, he caused her, she was still standing in front of him. Demanding answers he doesn’t know how to give. Still being so much braver than him.
“Y/N, I-“ He began, voice breaking as he was left speechless. How could he ask for her forgiveness now that he broke every ounce of trust she held for him?
“Luke, I think you should leave,” She said, rounding her arms around her torso as she looked back at the window. Unable to hold her gaze to him any longer.
“No,” Luke begged of her. Pleaded, even “Y/N, baby don’t-“
“Leave” She repeated more firmly “If I’m such a monster, the best thing we can do is for you to go home”
She turned her back to him once again, and he knew that he had just lost the battle he was too scared to even fight.
Y/N cried silent tears as she heard him gather his belongings and pack his bags, feeling as if she might collapse into the floor if she weren’t holding herself too tightly. If she concentrated, she could hear him cry, too, until he closed the last of his bags and walked through the door.
Because, after all, he would still go to the ends of the world if she asked.
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Felix is assigned a battalion
warning: foul language, fighting, war stuff, disgruntled swordsman
Felix stands, adamant as an impenetrable fortress. He is a lone wolf. He works alone. He is not a babysitter.
The Professor is not one to be refused. They argue for quite some time. Felix refuses to back down. He fights tooth and nail, cursing and gnashing his teeth. At the moment he suddenly finds himself heading to the training grounds to meet his new Battalion leader.
He opens the door to find a corpulent figure dressed in leather and ringed armor loosely fastened over a green sleeveless tunic, heavy belt with a sword hanging to the left, black shorts and worn knee high leather boots standing back to the door, putting the last bits together of a training dummy. The figure stands about five and a half foot tall and looks to be 4’ wide at the shoulders, owing to arms and legs as thick as logs, dark hair everywhere. A long dark brown ponytail swishes left and right at the back of her head like a horse tail chasing flies. Tanned skin marked with scars far and wide having spent too much time outdoors and in battle shows beads of sweat associated with hard work. Byleth calls out and the figure turns ‘round. “Kat! This is Felix.”
Kat drops the hammer and throws her right mitt up, grabbing the Professor’s tiny and delicate right hand in a merc’s handshake while slapping the much smaller woman on her right shoulder, knocking her a bit off balance. “Lassie! It’s good ta see ya!” the matronly figure laughs.
Felix’s face looks like a fish out of water, his mouth opening and closing without a sound. This is a woman? The crone looks older than Manuela, probably close to 40 and has more facial hair than all the male students added together. Her cheeks have a dusting of thin dark hairs, she definitely has a mustache and a very thin beard on her neck. Her muscles put Raphael to shame.
Kat sets her eyes on the young male student. “Felix, eh? We’re goin’ to teach ya how to cooperate. How to work a team.“ She scowls at him, in return he gives the woman a disgusted look.
“Heard yer a lone wolf. Sometimes that works for a man, but yer gonna need ta figure out how ta play well with others. That’s where I come in.” She smirks, dark eyes piercing him like swords. “We’re gonna be joined at the hip for a while lad, so get used ta seeing my smiling face.“ She grins widely, offering her hand to the disgruntled swordsman for shaking. When he makes no effort to move, she grabs his right with her left and forces his hand to meet hers, shaking the hand and the rest of him heartily. Felix jerks his limb down, bringing his hand to a fist at his side while mumbling “disgusting” under his breath.
Kat looks at Byleth who is rolling her eyes. The small mountain of a woman smiles widely and gives a little wink. “Go on now with ya, we’re gonna introduce ourselves right properly here.”
Byleth snickers, leaving the training grounds. Kat follows her to the door, bars it from the inside, and turns back to the young noble. “Let’s see how well ya kin fight.” Marching to the stand of wooden training swords, she tosses one at Felix. His jaw is set, arms crossed, as he stands and frowns. Refusing to look her in the eye, he lets the sword bounce off of his chest and clatter to the ground.
---> x <---
Felix fights until he can’t hold a sword. If he doesn’t fight, he gets the crap beat out of him. When he fights, the swords or fists hit him less often. He’s battered, bruised, and can’t think of one spot on his body that doesn’t hurt. Still, she makes him fight. Still, she makes him move. Again. Pick up the sword, strike or be struck. Again. He can’t remember if 4 or 6 hours have passed. Suddenly the constant barrage stops. His eyes glaze over, his breathing is weak. He begins to collapse as she catches him and hefts him onto her shoulder, carrying him to his room like an old rug. She sets him down at the door, and he balances himself, then tries to slide in so he can slam the door in her face. A huge shoulder easily keeps the door blocked open. He grabs fresh clothes and she takes him to the baths. While he undresses, she runs the water and prepares the bath with soaps and oils. He is too tired to move. She finishes stripping him down and gently lowers him into the tub. Sinking in the water, that is the last thing he recalls of that day.
Felix wakens with a shock. He had slept. When was the last time he just slept? He can’t remember. There was not one nightmare. He hasn’t been that tired in a long time. He then recalls …her. He sits up, too quickly, his head spins, he winces as the pain causes him to fall back on the bed. He sighs heavily. Trying again, he rolls to his side, carefully placing his feet on the floor, sits up, cognizant of Kat’s eyes piercing into him.
“You’re staring. Get dressed, we have a busy day.” She turns around, looks back down at her notepad and jots a few more notes. She doesn’t look behind her as he makes a flurry of offensive gestures directed at the back of her head.
“You’re rude and stubborn. You’re also a big boy, you can dress yourself eh?”
Felix grunts, getting out of bed, to find everything neat, clean. His boots are polished and ready at the bed, soiled clothes set in the laundry, fresh clothes laid out. He grabs them with an exaggerated motion that painfully reminds him he is still sore from yesterday. He gingerly gets dressed. With every bit of strength he has left, which isn’t much, he storms for the door and heads out. Blasting down the hall, down the stairs, he heads toward the classrooms. A large arm wraps around his shoulders and he’s now heading to the dining hall. If his feet try to take him in the wrong direction, a hand in the back of his shirt lifts him from the ground and points him in the proper direction. Felix smolders angrily.
Brows furrowed, jaw set, the fuming male gets in line with his shadow queueing next. Grabbing a plate of eggs, bread & butter, and cheese, he slumps at a table. The behemoth sits next to him, placing an apple and a glass of milk next to his plate and a folded vellum with some powder. He raises an eyebrow, staring at the unwelcome additions.
“Yer a growing boy. Drink yer milk. Not an option. The other is to knock the pain down a notch or two.” A nod at his tray, she takes a bite of her eggs, waving at him to eat.
He glares at her. He should leave. Recalling the events of last night, he knows she will hold him down and pour the milk down his throat like she did the healing potions. He doesn’t need everyone staring at him here. Maybe he is a bit hungry. He eats quickly, starts to get up, hears a grunt, meets her eye and sits back down. When she finishes her meal, they clear the table and head to his first class. She leaves his side once he passes through the doors to the classroom.
“Who is your girlfriend?” Sylvain taunts the indigo haired man. The redhead is rewarded with a swift kick to an ankle that makes him yowl. He did learn a few new spots to inflict quick pain yesterday, may as well put them to use.
Class proceeds uneventfully. He manages to give several evil looks to the professor. At the bell, he knows ‘she’ waits for him at the door. There is only one exit to the room. Damn. He stomps out, she falls in with him as they head to the dining hall again. She leads him toward a table full of mercenaries. She slows to advise him, “These are my boys. You’ll greet ‘em properly. Noble or commoner, courtesy is free and expected.” The table of young men looking to be 16-30 years old boisterously greet the pair. Handshakes and introductions are exchanged, with Kat only having to give Felix one or two nods of encouragement. Plates of food are already there for the two that have just joined. One of the guys approaches Felix and puts a small jar on the table in front of him. “Name’s Roy. Heard ya like spicy foods. Enjoy.”
Felix’s eyes get a bit wide. “Uh, thanks” he mumbles. He opens the jar, the reddish brown powder smells like some kind of peppers, making his nose tingle. He sprinkles some on his stew. The teen observes the others as he eats.
The conversation around the table settles to a low roar. He wants to be anywhere but here. They are all talking to him. He feels exhausted answering their millions of questions about nonsense, favorite foods, worst foods, did you ever eat this or that, ever been to one place or another, what weapons have you used. Felix gives short answers to every question an elbow in his side inspiring him to comply. He gives a side eye glance at the beastly thing sitting next to him. He can feel her nod whenever he’s said enough to satisfy her. Why the hell does he have to know these people? Don’t you just point, they go, and that’s it? Giving orders, that is what commanding is about. He shakes his head. This is a waste of time.
Lunch is complete. The table is cleared by the battalion. They stand and look at Felix and Kat. She stands, informing the group as to their plans. “We got a bit of a chore before we can let ya go, come on.” The bear of a woman gets up and heads out towards the front gate. The company falls in behind the pair. Heading outside, they walk along the walls surrounding the campus. Following a well-worn path along the exterior walls where patrols monitor the grounds at night, they see a large uprooted tree. When it fell, the roots lifted a large mound of earth and created a hole in the stone wall surrounding the monastery making quite a mess. This breach in defenses needs to be addressed quickly.
Kat hauls herself up on one of the stones that have fallen from the wall. There must be 15 that fell loose, they are huge. Whole stones are at least 2 foot tall, three foot long and a foot or more thick, laying akimbo on the ground.
Kat directs her words at Felix. “A battalion is an amazing show of what teamwork can do ta get things done. One man, if he’s lucky, kin lift a stone. A team of ‘em can move mountains. You need communication, clear and to the point. Resolving conflicts. Problem solving, decision making, persuasion and influencing skills, rapport, reliability and recognition. No prob, eh Felix? Since I’m in a good mood, I’m gonna start ya off.”
She addresses the battalion. “We need the stones moved and stacked here.” Kat walks to a spot, shoves a stick in the ground that is about 20 foot from the wall and to the right of the toppled stones.”
“We gotta fill the hole left by the fallen tree. That’ll keep patrols from falling and breaking somethin’ when they’re policing the walls at night. If there’s time, we need to get the fallen tree away from the wall so there’s room to maneuver.”
Felix is hauled up onto the rock as Kat jumps down. “You get to tell us what to do and how to do it.” She folds her arms across her chest and stares straight into his eyes.
The young man stands there dumbfounded. What the hell does all of this have to do with fighting? Why is he even here? He wants to jump down and run. His mouth is getting drier by the second and his fists begin to shake.
A merc with sandy brown hair sticking out of a flat cap tips his head up. “Oy. We’re all here mate. We can help, just ask. We’re a team ya know.” Nods and grunts of agreement surround him.
“Who has done this before?” Felix hears his voice croak. He calls out to the 2 that answered to give their account of how the job was completed. He starts to catch his breath. He asks the group again, any other suggestions? One of the men suggests keeping people that are really short together and really tall together, makes for better lifting. Felix feels his hands relax, he nods. His glance flits to her. She is bowing her head and nodding.
“Those are great ideas. Useful information. Uh. Anything else?” he coughs.
One man raises a shovel, the end of Felix’s mouth curls up a bit. “What tools do we got here?” A count of shovels and axes is provided as well as a smaller wagon and some ropes in the inventory.
Felix starts dividing them into teams. He gets the best axe users separated from the best with shovels and the best in heavy lifting. He begins sending them out. “Axe users, clear up the area the stones are to go to. Make a clear path. Knock those roots off then start on lower branches.”
Felix stands at the stones. Lifters are in 2 teams of 4, 2 front 2 rear. “You 4, carefully move the top stone, let me know if anything shifts.” They are able to get the stone free from the pile and a couple feet away, but it’s difficult to make any distance. Felix calls a couple axe users over. He has the front 2 lift, they can get an axe handle under the stone and with 2 more in the center lifting using the ax handle to support the weight in the center of the stone, and allowing those two to stand farther out so they’re not arms and legs all over each other. On the count of 3 they lift, and the small team readily moves the stone to the destinated clearing that is now ready. Felix grins, then catches a look on Kat’s face, she’s mouthing “thank you.”
“Great job men. Well done. Take a minute to breathe, get the next team ready.” Felix awkwardly says. He heads back to begin again. When they’ve cleared the immediate area, the first team is ready to start on the next block.
Felix orders the shoveling workers to begin to fill the hole closest to where the stones lay, making it easier to access the rest of the fallen wall and make better stepping ground.
Felix sets the axe wielders working on the high point of the root ball of the prone tree. They work together and plan to knock the roots off and dirt, lessening the weight at the base of the tree and freeing more dirt for fill.
The academy student runs between units, helping lift here, steadying there, helping stomp a shovel in the ground, making sure the teams keep clear of each other, are aware of their surroundings. He thanks them with a slap on a shoulder a nod, a word. He stops a stone lift in progress, hearing something shift. The group stands back as a stone that was still wedged between others 10 feet up the wall, falls to the ground where they had been standing. Worried smiles and grateful thanks are shared for a moment, then work resumes.
Kat begins sorting the broken stones while the larger ones are moved by teams. She tossed smaller chunks in holes as fill, carrying the ones that could be reused to the end of the neatly stacked rescued wall blocks.
“Hey Felix!” hollers a merc with a scar cutting through the left side of his face, he’s Vaughn, right? “We’re done with the stones.”
“Great job,” Felix remembers to say on his own, no reminder needed.
The swordsman eyes the tree. It is very thick at the base, but as it had grown, branches grew out on the side away from the wall. He discusses with the axe wielders the best place to cut the trunk base from the rest of the treetop, what branches have to go so the remaining trunk can be rolled over to give the needed room for patrol runs. Those that are not chopping are dragging away the freed branches to make room to work and keep the path clear. The huge stump is ready in no time. All hands together, they roll it far from the wall. The ground behind is nearly flat except for where they run out of earth to fill the hole. They drive some branches in the ground about 3 or 4 feet tall making a fence around the pitfall to prevent any injuries.
Kat holds her hand out and Felix grabs it, accidentally feeling a smile on his cheek that he has to fight back down to a more neutral position. Kat whoops heartily and the battalion joins in with thanks, waves, slaps on the back, and claps on shoulders, as each is recognized for their work.
“Tank, finish the clean up, gotta get our student back ta class” The battalion leader says as she gives him a firm hug and ruffles what little black hair he had on his head. Major tasks are accomplished in a short time. Not unlike a mountain being moved.
The two walk alongside each other toward the gate leading back into the Monastery. “If I was yer teacher, I’d give ya a B+. I thought you were gonna stand up on that rock and turn to stone yourself for a minute there. I kin tell you’re not much on communication. Talking and listening. Lemme try to tell ya in a way you can connect it. Say you’re fighting another sword slinger. He’s coming at ya. You’re watching his style, how he’s holdin’ himself. How he moves is talkin’ to ya. He’s telling ya how he’s coming, where he plans to hit. Yer anticipating what he’s gonna do. Then he feints, dodges, pulls back and whips it to a backhand twist. You react, you change yer plans, tell yer body to adjust so yer eyes shift, hand takes a different grip, feet move to shift your weight to counter and set your attack. You’ve been waving that sword so long you don’t think about that any longer, you just react.
“Your battalion is another weapon. One you haven’t used before. Gotta learn how to wield it. Think of it as a man and his sword. To get them to move, ya talk to em. Figure out how best to work em, how hard to push, keeping it in balance. Use em to protect ya from danger, take out enemies. Mold ‘em into the tools that are gonna get the job done. When you’ve worked with ‘em long enough, they know what ya want, anticipate it.”
They have arrived back to just outside the classroom. She slings an arm around him in a half hug. “Ya done okay boy. Come meet us in the dining hall after class.”
Felix walks in, catching the professor’s eye with a smug look on his face as he gives a fist pump. Byleth’s head tips back and her eyes go a bit wider.
After class, he meets his battalion in the dining hall. His plate is already there. He checks with Tank, “Cleanup go okay?” The merc gives a nod and thumbs up with one hand as he is holding a turkey leg to his mouth with the other. The swordsman can’t help himself and asks several of the men in the battalion if they want to spar. A few guys accept the invite, but tonight they are drinking. They invite him to town to join them, and he will soon, just not today.
Once the student finishes his vegetables, Kat lets him head to the training grounds. She brings one of the mercs with her to find him sparring with Dimitri. Once the students have finished their rounds, Kat pulls Dimitri over, and Roy heads to Felix.
“Hey blondie, lemme show ya a few tricks to take down the porcupine over there.” She says slapping the prince on the shoulder.
“What? Who the hell’s side are you on anyway?” Felix snaps angrily.
“Whadda ya mean what? Yer gonna learn how to counter it, I’m keeping ya on yer toes boy.”
Roy grabs a training sword. He’s a bit taller than Felix, with short brown hair and brown eyes. They square off. Roy goes in for the first attack. He’s nowhere near as smooth as Felix, but he’s got a lot of strength behind his hits. “Do your worst, and I’ll pay ya back.”
The indigo haired student does not hold back. Roy and Felix go at each other for nearly an hour. Felix has the finesse, but Roy has guts and determination. Roy finally yields with a sword at his throat.
Standing up, the prickly victor bends over and grabs his gut. “You kicked the crap out of me. Damn.” He laughs.
Roy has caught his breath. “Use all that ya got, there ain’t no rules when you’re fighting for your life.”
Kat hands out a couple vulneraries. Dimitri excuses himself as he has other duties to attend to. He doesn’t escape without getting a handshake, a thanks for the workout, and a pinch on his cheek. “See ya, cutie pie.” Kat grins.
The student helps his former opponent off the ground. They shake hands and share thanks. The merc heads out, going to town to join the group for drinks. He shakes his head as he gets no takers.
Kat invades Felix’s space, taking control his life for well over two weeks. Every day they have a new project to complete, every day he sits next to a different member of his battalion and every day he spars with someone else. Sometimes they teach him new techniques, sometimes he is teaching them. He knows all of their names, where they are from, what are their talents. His entire free days are spent with them.
Kat guides him, pushes him to work on building the team, getting them all together in the same mindset. Stressing the need to be able to rely on each other. It always goes both ways. Felix is instructed on persuasion and influencing. One cannot simply order someone to do things differently, you have to explain the why and how it benefits them, generally and directly. After meals she pulls him aside to discuss rapport building and listening. Everything is based on communication.
After sparring she marks battlefields in the dirt of the training grounds, pointing out scenarios for the best use of the battalions, and when not to use them. What tactics give advantages. Gambits, useful for them as well as for you, can give you time to observe the battlefield and adjust your strategies. All the time she is touching Felix. Patting him on the back, on the head, messing up his hair punching his shoulder. He notices one day that he doesn’t flinch at it any longer. He expects it, and he would never tell another soul, but he looks forward to it.
Felix really learns how to listen. Not only to what they say to him, but what is said to Kat, how it is done. The group relies on her to keep them together. Some of the guys even call her mom or ma. She’s not their mother, but takes care of them like one. He even asks her why she lets them do it. She explains that this is her family and wouldn’t have it any other way. She loves them all, and they belong to her and she would do anything for them, they would do the same for her. Life’s too short to be holed up in a room or being off by yourself all the time.
The day has come. Felix and his battalion are ready for battle. Demonic beasts have been spotted outside the monastery walls and he goes out with the Professor and the Blue Lions to defeat them. Kat puts an arm around the swordsman, telling him he’s ready to do this. They run out to the woods to battle.
Before he would have run straight out to the beast himself, taking it on alone if he had to, but today is different. He has his battalion that he is responsible for, an extension of himself, a weapon at his disposal to be used properly and not ignored. He sends them forth in a gambit at the beast, sending the monster into mass confusion. As his team gathers back, preparing for another attack, he strikes the beast on his own. He is shocked at the cheers and encouragement coming from Kat and his men. It is inspiring and reassuring. A couple rounds later he sends them in again for another gambit. This gives him the opportunity to survey the remainder of the battle area. He and his men strike the beast a final time and it falls. He’s already leading them further down field to take on a knight with his own battalion surrounding him. Felix calls out to individual members of his group, getting the placement of his fighters best matched against the enemies. Their movements together work smoothly, the swordsman is reaping the benefits of working together with these fighters for weeks, knowing their abilities and weaknesses like his own. They plow through the battlefield as one, bringing down the enemies quickly.
When the battle is over, Felix is congratulating the team, handshakes, slaps on the back, everyone rewarding each other with reaffirming touches and positive energy. Kat has the biggest grin on her face as she hugs him until he almost can’t breathe.
“Yeah, you can be a lone wolf, but there is nothing quite as awesome as running with the pack.”
Felix puts his arm around her in a half hug. “I never thought I’d say this, but you’re right.”
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