SNEAKING OUT IN THE middle of the night when her brother had just been arrested was a very bad idea, but that didn't stop Ella from saying yes. She had exchanged her outfit for her usual streetwear, lila cargopants underneath a matching crop top, ready to run if need be, and walked back to her balcony. Levi was silently waiting, back towards her and eyes wandering across the garden. In the beginning she had found it hard to guess what he was thinking, but these days it had started to be easier to read him.
"How did you even get over here?" she said as she took a place beside him, glancing over to the room he had been sleeping in," that's like three windows over."
"I climbed," he said.
She rolled her eyes, a laugh escaping her lips.
"I wasn't assuming you flew," she said, nudging his shoulder with hers," but I suppose the desire to see me was so strong that you couldn't help but risk some bruises."
"A broken leg, more like it," he said as he looked at the ground. His gaze flicked towards her then, taking her in like she was a flowerfield at dawn. "But I wanted to see you."
"Cheesy," she said.
He nodded, unembarrassed, before gesturing at the ground with a jerk of his head. "Let's try not to break the fence this time."
"Who knew you could be considerate?" Ella teased.
"I just don't want your mother to kill me," Levi replied.
"Valid reason," she said, before shaking her head amusedly," no worries though, she's less stern than she looks."
"I saw her throw a shoe at Sebastian's head."
"Okay, but that was Sebastian. You would throw a shoe at him too."
His lips tugged up faintly, which was an all-out laugh coming from him. They climbed down more smoothly this time, carefully avoiding the fence and quietly sneaking out of her garden. The sky was washed with shadows and stars, the moon lighting their way as they reached the streets. Only the silence of the night kept them company, no one visible in miles.
"So," she said to Levi," what did you have in mind?"
"Show me around," he suggested, walking beside her in the middle of the road," this is where you grew up, right?"
"Count yourself lucky," she smiled, hooking her arm through his," I'm the best guide to have here and you have me all to yourself."
"Normally I'd have you all to myself at dinner," he said," but I'll settle for running around illegally in the middle of the night instead."
"Is that how a normal date with Levi Peterson, the infamous gangleader looks like?" she said, raising an eyebrow," I expected more of a streetfight at noon, escaping from the police at night kind of day."
"Streetfights are reserved for the second date," he replied matter-of-factly," I wouldn't want her to fall in love too quickly."
They rounded the corner, walking in another street lined with houses, the moonlight coloring the walls gray. It felt like they were the only two people in the world somehow, the city sleeping as quietly as the sun. Her conversation with Levi had somehow lapsed into their favorite martial arts, the time passing easily. They walked by a tall building then, looking almost haunted without any lights. She glanced up against the fence surrounding it, looking up as they continued on.
"What is this?" he said," your local prison?"
"This is my old school," she said, throwing a look towards it," or well, my fourth one."