it'll be alright in the end

Erwin's already been through three days of trials regarding the conduct of soldiers, some of them his and some of them not.

Everything is over now, or they wouldn't have time for all these trials. Trying to decide if each person is a war criminal or simply a soldier who did their best in terrible circumstances. There ought to be some relief in that, in knowing that he'll never have to fight a Titan again, but instead all he can feel is the accumulated aches and pains of a body that got too old for maneuver gear several years ago. His stump and his shoulder seem to throb meaninglessly all the time, as if just to remind him of the loss. He's exhausted by these trials. Asked to have an opinion and weigh in on the fate of men and women who mostly weren't under his command, some of whom he's never met.

They're saving him and Levi for last. That's been obvious since yesterday.

He lays in the dark and tries to sleep. He is finding it harder and harder to function without at least 5 or 6 hours of rest, and so he tries.

His door creaks open. A sliver of light nearly seven feet in height, and then a body much less than that slips in and shuts the door. Neither of them can see much, but the stature made it obvious.

"Levi?"

Levi approaches the bed. There is just enough moonlight from the window to see him as he crawls onto his knees at the foot of the bed. There is not enough to make out his face.

"It'll be our turn, soon," he says. "You might even be the last they put on trial."

"I know. I'm expecting that."

The one thing that Erwin has never tried to do is guess what Levi is thinking. It's far easier to guess what he will do, generally, because his actions as a soldier had a distinct purpose and always supported Erwin's decisions. Erwin never was good at guessing what Levi thought about it all, underneath that. And now that Levi might not be under his command anymore, in a matter of days, he knows that he should also start to wonder what Levi will do.

"I followed you because I believed in your vision."

The words are like a chisel tapping against a stone. Something delicate is flaking off. Erwin doesn't know yet what will be revealed.

"I believed you could carry it out."

Erwin's heart is picking up speed. He doesn't like it when he can't see where something will end. "I did carry it out. We did. Together."

Levi crawls slightly forward. Erwin can almost make out his face now. Tap tap tap. Little bits of stone.

"Half of them, the ones who come to your trial, they'll think you deserve to be hanged. Executed, for what you've done. The other half will want to build a statue of you. Put it somewhere close to the palace. In a park, maybe."

It occurs to Erwin that he should not have taken it for granted which half Levi might belong to. And strangely, that calms him down. Makes his heart stop racing. He breathes deep, and lets it out. Because there's nothing he can do about it now. Everything is already over, and he can't change any of it. He can't change what Levi will do next.

"What about you?" he finally asks.

Levi crawls up his body until he is straddling Erwin's waist. There is no expression on his face at all. There is nothing. He trails a finger over the naked stump of Erwin's amputated arm.

"Maybe that was to pay for some of your soldiers. But you have a lot of debts, Erwin."

He caresses the stump for a minute. It makes the ache go away, a little. Then he draws a knife from his sleeve, and tilts his head a little to study Erwin's body. There is still nothing on his face when he drives the dull metal into Erwin's shoulder.

"Farlan," he murmurs.

Then the other shoulder. The pain hasn't even registered with Erwin yet. He is still so bemused by what is happening that he doesn't even think to flinch or try to defend himself.

"Isabel," Levi says.

A certain hard look comes into his eyes, then. Just as it finally occurs to Erwin that perhaps he should defend himself, argue or try to take the knife, and occurs to him at the same moment that he shouldn't and should only let this happen— Levi drives it hard into his chest. Into his heart.

"That's for my cousin," he whispers, and there is just a little of his old anger in his voice. "Mikasa would have died for Eren's sake no matter what, and she didn't deserve for you to make it an order." He twists a little before pulling the knife out.

Erwin sucks in a gasp. "Oh," he says.

Levi leans down, and the strands of his hair brush over Erwin's numb face. He kisses him. Not a quick peck. A deep kiss, with his bloodied hands gripping the wounds he's made in Erwin's shoulders.

"That's for me," he says quietly.

"gh— lgh— Levi," Erwin gasps, the word born up on a pink froth at his lips. He's cold. "Levi—" Gasp. "I—"

"Shhh," Levi says, and stretches his body out beside Erwin. He draws Erwin's head to his own shoulder, pets his hair. "Shhh." He doesn't seem to mind the wet choking at his throat, the blood unfurling into his clothes. He kisses Erwin again. "It's all right," he says, as tender as he has ever said anything. "I always meant to do this. I never planned to let you go free. But it's all right now. I'm going to go die in the forest, clearing a path for the new settlers. Eren will make sure I get buried near you. I'm the closest thing he's got left to family. He'll make sure."

Erwin thought he would accept death peacefully, but his body doesn't allow it. His legs are kicking, his ruptured heart is twisting, there are lights in his eyes and his hands are numb. He gurgles and tries to speak without any idea of what he might say. His blood is everywhere. He drags desperately at the air, trying to get some.

Levi keeps hold of him. Warm hands on his neck. "Shhh," he says, over and over again. "It's all right now."