My second AoT story. Likely to be a long, angst-ridden one. Lots and lots of angst. If you can't take it, find something in another genre. There will also be slash elements; haven't decided exactly all those points yet, but wanted to warn you.

SPOILERS: If you haven't watched the OVA's, you will be spoiled by this story. Go watch the OVA's first, and if you have the stomach for more angst, come back. ^_-

"Damned inspections," Levi muttered. "As if they care what the hell we do out here - as long as we go out from time to time and throw our lives away..."

"It's different now," Erwin reminded him. "They don't trust Eren. They're afraid of him."

The pair halted outside the small wooden building that served as a jail for soldiers awaiting court martial.

"I know." Levi looked the building over. "That's what this is for... but it's stupid to keep the kid locked up when he could flatten this matchbox in a split second if he turned Titan in the night. Surely even they can see that."

"Let's hope they can't. If we're lucky, he won't have to stay another night in there. I'll go ahead to the office; you bring Eren along as soon as you can get him ready. We don't want to be late."

Levi nodded. He entered the make-shift jail and saluted the men on duty. "I'll take over Jaeger's custody from here," he told them. "You're dismissed."

The men nodded to him and filed out, the ranking officer handing Levi his keys as he passed.

Levi looked over at the first holding cell and saw that Eren was still in his bunk. "Tch. Must be nice to be a prisoner," he said sarcastically. "Planning to sleep until noon?" He found the correct key and opened the cell door.

Eren shifted under the covers a bit, but didn't come out.

"Really, Jaeger?" Levi waited a moment. "Trust me, you don't want me to come in there and get you."

"I-I'm sorry, sir," Eren said, emerging at last, his chains clinking. "I wasn't asleep. Just... didn't want to face the world yet." He chuckled as if to dismiss his behavior, but there was a certain lack of mirth in his expression.

Levi frowned as the younger man came toward him and held out his manacles to be unlocked. As he removed the heavy cuffs, Levi saw that Eren's wrists were raw and looked as if they had been bleeding a day or two ago... but they had been fine when Levi saw him locked up the night before. "What's this?"

"I, uh..." Eren's face turned pink. "Guess I moved around a lot in my sleep."

It was clearly an excuse. Levi knelt to free Eren's ankles. They were in the same state as his wrists. Eren healed quickly; something had caused him to severely damage himself to the extent that evidence of the injuries was still there now...

Levi straightened and looked Eren in the eye. "What the hell happened?"

Eren's blush deepened. "I... I acted stupid. I guess I panicked. Tried to get out. I didn't turn; I just... wanted to get out."


"Y-yeah." Eren looked down.

"Bull shit."

Eren's eyes widened a little. Then they filled with tears. He didn't look up.

"What aren't you telling me?" Levi demanded. "Answer me."

"Please, Captain..." Eren reached up to wipe away a tear, but another escaped on the other side before he could stop it. "I'm not withholding important information; I promise." He rubbed his wrists in a compulsive-seeming way.

"Someone did something to you," Levi guessed. The way Eren started and hesitated confirmed his theory. "Who was it? What did they do and when did they do it? Tell me now," he prompted firmly.

Eren shuddered. "Please don't. Don't ask me." His voice was small. He seemed to shrink before Levi's eyes.

"Shit," Levi said under his breath. He knew that look. That hunted, helpless look. Not because he had seen it before, but because he had had that feeling before, himself.

He put his hands on Eren's shoulders to steady him. He was mildly surprised when Eren stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Levi.

"Oh, god," Eren whispered. "If I tell you, they'll... they said they'd hurt Mikasa and Armin. They'll do it, sir. Please, I can't let that happen."

"Nothing will happen to your friends," Levi promised. "Trust me. Let me help you."

For a while, Eren couldn't seem to form any intelligible words. Levi led him to a chair and let him down into it. "Take your time," he said.

"We'll be late," Eren rasped.

It was true; the visiting inspectors wouldn't be impressed if the titan-boy couldn't even appear to a meeting on time. Levi sighed. "All right, look: we're going to this meeting and then you're going to tell me everything that happened last night. I'm sorry to make you dread that during the interview, but I guess it will make facing those god-awful higher-ups a little less intimidating."

"You... you can make sure Mikasa and Armin are safe?"

"I can. I swear."

Eren sniffed and wiped his eyes on his sleeve. "I'm sorry," he said.

"Never mind... hurry and get dressed. I'll wait outside."

"Yes, sir."

Levi walked briskly out the door and closed it behind him, leaning on it. He closed his eyes. "Shit," he whispered again. What had sucked a little this morning royally sucked now. Eren was in no state to face the inspectors. Even if he somehow managed to satisfy them, how would Levi persuade him to explain what had happened? Would he be able to prove it satisfactorily enough for Erwin to allow him to take action? Could he really ensure Mikasa and Armin's safety every moment of every day?

I have to. I promised him. One step at a time. Getting him to talk would be difficult. He wouldn't be able to catch the offenders red-handed. Eren wouldn't spend another night in lockup if Levi had anything to say about it, and whoever was responsible for this wouldn't have a good enough opportunity to try again. Eren wasn't exactly the most popular of the Scouts, but he had plenty of comrades who would stand up for him if they saw that he was in trouble.

It wasn't like that for me. No one had liked Levi when he joined the Scouting Legion. No one but Farlan and Isabel. When they were gone, there was no one to watch his back. No one he could trust. In the underground he had despised so much, he had been king of his little world. Once he got to the surface and was allowed to stay, he was nothing to anyone. Less than dirt. Fate was a cruel mistress.

More from Levi's past in the next chapter. It's not going to get more lighthearted for some time. If this is hinting at stuff you don't think you can handle, please turn back now. I don't want to trigger or squick anyone or give you nightmares.