Forward

Isa was calling him from the other room but he didn't answer. He wasn't quite ready. He stepped quietly over to the closet and opened the door. He stared for a moment and hardly breathing he reached forward.

With a small clatter one the shirts he had nagged Eren to hang just days ago slid off of its hanger. He hesitated and briefly wondered when was the last time he had hesitated with something as simple as this. He looked over the garment; a white button up shirt, plain and gleaming in the sunlight pouring into the room. He saw where Eren had missed a spot, still with the evidence of faint wrinkles. Feeling something clench in his throat and with shaking hands he gathered the shirt in his arms pressing one white, painfully empty shoulder to the lower half of his face. His red-rimmed eyes squeezed shut tightly as he inhaled the scent that still lingered.

The knot forming in his throat seemed to swell and soon his breathing became slightly harsher. A bead of moisture slipped from the corner of his eye despite his promise. He felt thick breaths and strained gasps. A part of him was surprised that he was the man making those pitiful noises. He clung to the shirt as if to a lifeline.

It was no such thing, a cheap imitation of something that had once given his life part of its meaning, a diversion from the pain that brought it back ten fold. He hadn't realized that he had sank to the floor. His knees buzzed with pain from their collision with the floorboards. His breath came in rasps and his tears in torrents. He let out disgusting whimpers as he clung to the thin cotton as if every fiber were precious.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and a warm soft presence behind him enveloping him in warmth. "Dad." A tearful voice whispered. He turned to look into Isa's watery eyes as she knelt beside him. "Dad, come on. It's time for the service." Her soft, rosy-tipped fingers curled around his shoulder. She sniffed and wiped the corner of her eye with the other hand. He stood quietly drying his own tears and followed her down the stairs.

They stopped at the front door. Levi touched Isa's shoulder silently requesting for her to wait. He reached up. Yes up now. To his daughter's head attempting to smooth the thick, unruly, black hair. She gave a wet laugh "I'm twenty-eight, dad." She complained even though she allowed it.

"Think I'm so old I can't count anymore kid?" He replied.

She didn't have a reply so she let out another laugh.

"You'll always be our baby." He remarked softly.

Her laughter died in her throat and she looked at him with wide, sad eyes. In her nearly three decades of life she had only heard her father speak so tenderly to her a couple dozen times. Levi felt a small pang of regret at the recollection of that fact but there was no changing what kind of person he was this late in the game.

Still. While the moment was here.

He leaned forward standing on the balls of his feet he kissed her forehead. "No matter how old either you or I get, no matter where ever he might be right now. You're always going to be ours, so get used to it already."

She sniffled with a new onslaught of tears and barreled into him with a hug that reminded him so much of the man he now missed so dearly he could hardly stand it. He held her close.

The moment ended she wiped her face dry again, rested her hand on the doorknob and looked back at him. "Do you have...?" Her eyes flickered to his pocket, no doubt searching for a note card or something similar protruding from one of the pockets in his black suit jacket.

Levi nodded. He knew what he was going to say.

She set her jaw and nodded back, and a moment later opened the door stepping out into the bright sunlight. Levi watched as her back receded into the light, a smile flickering across his thin lips as he watched his strong, young daughter walk further away for a few seconds before moving to follow her.