A/N: This is an old fic, I'm posting it here since I'm updating my account with stories I wrote.
Everything feels like a déjà vu. Everything feels like I'm walking in a dream. I sit in the class room doing nothing more but just staring aimlessly towards the chalk board while Mr. Smith goes on and explains the events that occurred in World War II. He talks about them from the American-Allies point of view. I seem to recall things from a different perspective. I remember things I don't recall reading in books. I remember bits and pieces—I must of read such on the internet. Or maybe Armin told me things. He unnaturally good with random trivia.
"Mikasa? Are you alright?"
Mr. Smith's hand had been waving in my face. Apparently I hadn't known that I zoned out—yet again.
Ymir snickering was silenced by swift kick delivered by Krista.
"I'd like to speak with you after class..." He urged.
He walked down the aisle and continued to lecture until the bell ran. Everyone stood up packing their things and started leaving the room. I sighed standing up and started to exit when Mr. Smith called me to stand by his desk.
"I wanted to ask you about your last homework assignment..." I saw him opening his handbag and pull out a sheet of paper from a black folder, "It's the paper that I had asked to write on the perspective of a solider or a civilian during WW2. And well, to start, the paper is phenomenal—this a true story? From your grandmother or a relative?"
I shifted my weight on my left leg, apprehensively gripping on the bookbag strap over my shoulder.
"No. I made it up. I don't have a biological family. I'm adopted."
Mr. Smith looked embarrassed. "Oh, I apologize." He scratched the back of his head.
I could see him from a profile view from where I stood and I admitted to myself that he was handsome. I could only find myself attracted to older men. I don't know why. My hand gripped tighter to the bookbag strap wishing I can whip myself for stupid thoughts.
"It's still very good—very believable. The wife's thoughts and emotions the careful thought in the details of the time period, it was easy for me to read it was from the early 1940's. I want to ask, I can see that husband was a Japanese navy-man. What battle does his departure allude?"
"Battle of the Eastern Solomons," I replied in one breath.
"We never studied this in class— I'm just really impressed. Do you want to study history in college?"
"I donno." I replied.
He just gave me a soft smile. He never seemed bothered by my quiet nature or my short responses. I guess that's why I sort of liked him.
"You should consider it." he said, "I'll write you an excuse so they don't mark you late for the next class," he added pulling open his drawer.
After school I walked and dumped all my books in the locker and closed it. Armin caught up with me.
I slowed down till he reached my pace.
"Mikasa..." he caught his breath, "Eren and Jean are going to fight at the Wendy's parking lot. There's a bunch of guys following them."
"We have to stop them!"
"Why is Eren always getting into trouble?" I sighed heavily.
We exited the building and crossed the street. I noticed Armin's footsteps were getting quicker than mine.
"I can see them over there!" he cried.
Both Armin and I broke into a run to reach them. Indeed, there was a group of ten people or so following them. When they reached the destination Eren and Jean threw their bags and books to the floor and got into fighting positions.
"Come'on titty-yeager!" Jean crowed, "Get at me, all your barking ain't shit if you don't prove it!"
"Keep talkin'—," Eren growled as he snapped a punch so quick that it caught Jean—and even the crowd off guard, "—Cuz I'mma FUCK your ass up-mothafucker!"
The deep "oooohh" and sudden crowding that occurred once the first hit was launched made it difficult for Armin to get though or even see anything.
I forced my way through grabbing a person's back collar and yanking them back with a force that sent them backwards. I pushed and shoved left and right—with a strength that people often accused me as inhuman.
"Eren! EREN!" I cried, grabbing him from behind. My embrace held his arms prisoner at his sides as he writhed.
"Mikasa, STOP, let go of me! DAMNit!"
"No," I said, "Not until you calm down."
Armin rushed to Jean's side crouching to his level on the floor. The onlookers started to leave because they noticed someone calling the cops.
"You're bleeding," Armin remarked the blood that dripped from Jean's nose. His cheek was bruised from Eren's first jab.
Jean just pushed away Armin's offered hand, "I'm fine," he grumbled as he pushed himself to his feet.
I felt Eren's body relax under my hold and only until I didn't sense anymore hostility did I release and let him go. He jerked away from me. I stood there waiting to receive a retort but he said nothing. Instead he directed himself towards Jean.
"Your ass got lucky—next time I hear you talking shit about Reiner I'll drag you to a place where no one will stop me from beatin' the shit outta your stupid ass!"
"Fuckin dude is gay! Nobody wanna be in the same changing room with him!" Jean barked.
"Fuckin grow up and deal with that shit—I ain't putting up your homophobic bullshit. Like he'll go for someone like you anyways."
"Why the hell you do even care?!" Jean cried, "My beef is not with you! What, you gay or somethin'?"
"Yeah I like dick, got a problem with that?!"
It was slight, and due to how close I stood, I could see Eren's body trembled after he spoke—fists tightly clenched together, never breaking his defiant stance.
"Eren..." I whispered.
"...wait...what? Are you serious?" Jean coughed in disbelief.
Armin's eyes were as wide as baseballs.
The lights of sirens were seen coming from the distance, and Jean cursed to himself.
"Damn... yo... I'm just... I'm gonna go." Jean muttered before he bolted.
Hannes and a buddy were the officers that approached us—luckily we knew them. Hannes was a friend of Carla and Grisha, Eren's parents. Well, and mine as well. His is the family I was adopted into. Hannes only let us off with a sharp warning.
The three of us walked home together, Armin living in the same neighborhood that we did with his grandparents.
There was nothing but dead silence, the topic hanging in the air like the elephant in the room.
"Talk okay?!" Eren blurted to the both of us.
"Eren, I love you no matter what you do and who you love." I said almost immediately.
I can tell I embarrassed him, because he covered his face with his hand.
"How long have kept this secret?" Armin said as he clutched on to his binder.
Eren dragged a heavy sigh, "Donno... like a year I guess. I'm still trying to figure it out... I didn't plan on coming out like that.. but... shit I was so pissed..."
"So you don't like girls at all?" Armin asked again, "And I'm sorry if I'm—,"
"It's okay, and well I donno. So far, I've never had any crushes on girls so I guess this answer is no, for now."
"Usually a person would just know, don't they?" I asked.
"Maybe." Eren shrugged, "But don't tell Ma, okay?!" He glared at me to make sure I got it.
I heard him sigh. I walked in between them the whole time. Armin after he went quiet was walking keeping his eyes to the ground. He looked flustered and nervous, his pale fingers clinging tensely on the binder he pressed against his chest.
In the house Eren and I lived, I enjoyed sitting in the attic. Baking in the heat in the summer and freezing half to death in the winter. Sometimes, it was the only way I could feel that I wasn't dreaming. Because it always feels like I'm dreaming. This reality felt like something that wasn't connected to me. And I can never figure out why.
I laid my body flat on the floor boards eyes stuck on the ceiling. The boxes and unused oddities that our family kept, lined the attic walls. As I stared, I spotted cobwebs at the pitched corners of the walls.
I promise I will come back to you. Every time. So wait for me...
The words echo in my head the way song lyrics do when you've heard them a dozen times.
I hear the wood creak, as Eren's head pops up from climbing the stairs.
"Yo, dinner's almost ready." He called.
"What are you doing?" He asked before turning back.
"Uh. Well I hope it's not about earlier.."
"Do you really think déjà vu's happen because it's happened before?" I suddenly asked.
Eren scoffed, "Nah, that's just some ninja-shit that the brain pulls off. Unless you want to believe in reincarnation or something—then that would be the only crazy reason that could explain it."
"Armin says that it would be something that happened in a dream, that now occurred in real life."
"If Armin says that, then go with that then—he's smarter than the both of us anyways. Well, I'm going down. Don't make me come back up here again. You know how mom gets," He called nonchalantly.
The door shuts below, and then I know I'm alone again.
I sit up and head towards the small attic window. I opened it up and look at the view of the neighborhood. An urge enters me to just escape and so I start crawling out of it. I hadn't changed since I got off from school, being still in small leather jacket with a white tank top underneath. My yellow timbs get stuck at the window while I'm pulling my legs out. Once I'm free, I dust dirt off my skinny dark blue jeans and slowly make my way down the slant of the roof.
I used the house gutter to climb down. I undid one screw of the metal bars that held the gutter in place. My feet landed with a soft thud on the grass—looking at the damage I decided to deal with it later when I came back. I looked across the street at Armin's house, and then kept walking.
I walked taking the street towards a road that lead to an abandoned train yard. It was all fenced in with barbed wire at the top, but I entered through a loose fold of fencing against the wall. It was my favorite hang out—Armin and Eren too would come here after school and eat snacks we bought from the corner store.
The mess of train tracks criss crossing together, the old rusting carts—the huge dilapidated storehouse in the background—I'd close my eyes and imagine them all in use again. All in newer condition. The loud ka-rah-ka-rah of the wheels on the tracks and the smell of coal and machinery played vividly in my imagination.
I walked towards a train cart and climbed in to sit for a while. When I entered I was startled in finding an old lady already sitting there. She in no way looked homeless, wearing a blue crocheted shawl over a white cardigan and ankle length floral skirt. She was small, shriveled in age, A ball of white hair tied in a bun at the top of her head. In the stillness that she seated herself—the lady carried this quiet dignity.
When our eyes met—her expression softly lit up.
"Excuse me, miss," I began hesitantly, "...are you lost?"
She shook her head slowly in response. The smile would not leave her face. She then, reached for the large totebag she had in front of her and with effort of weak hands, emptied it. Dirt and wood chips spilled out.
What is she doing?
I looked and noticed that beyond her was more dirt and wood. Had she been filling this cart dirt the whole time? What is wrong with her?!
"Do you remember where you live?" I asked as I reach to take her gently by the wrist, "I can take you home."
"There is no where for me to go," she whispered, "It is simply my time..."
I yanked the handle of the tote bag off from her left hand and grabbed her by the shoulders, "No no no, we are taking you home—wherever that is." I desperately urged. Her talk was scaring me.
We were face to face and she gently chuckled, "You are always slow to remember things, Mother. But perhaps that's a good thing."
My hands immediately released it's hold—as if what I touched burned me. I escaped from the cart, stepping down into the dusty earth. Her words drilled into me—mother—when she that to me, it carried familiarity. Or maybe I'm just getting contaminated with her crazy talk. I continued to walk away.
I'll just go see if I can tell someone to get that lady out from there before she hurts herself.
I smelled smoke by the time I reached the fence and turned around. The cart that I was previously in was on fire. My mouth dropped open as I rushed back. I ran my fingers into my hair overwhelmed with this sudden sense of grief. I paced back and forth.
She was suicidal. Perhaps wandered off on her own. I should have taken her by the hand and out of this place. I... I have to leave.
A black car drove up into the yard. I had this urge to run but my feet stuck in place. If this was the relative or care taker of this lady—I wanted to be sure to tell them about what happened. But I might be accused though. I only hoped that they'd believe me. Perhaps it wasn't her first attempt at something like this.
A man stepped out; youthful features, polished leather shoes and clean undercut hair. He wasn't tall, around Armin's height I noticed. A piercing grey stare and well-iron down blouse. He tossed a blanket over his shoulder and seemed to be taking his time to approach.
"There was an elderly woman inside the train cart!" I called when he was within speaking distance, "Should I call the fire department?"
"No," he gruffly replied. "I'll take care of..." his voice trailed off as he examined me. I saw how his brows rose and his eyes widened to an eerie stare, "... It's you...so that's why she wandered off to this place..."
"Huh?" I breathed out taking a step back. My being surged with nostalgia, with familiarity.
"Mikasa..." He took my hand—the touch of his digits were rough against the smoothness of my palm. "...It's Levi, you don't remember yet?" he asked.
…...I will come back to you
…...Wait for me
…..I'll find you
"Mikasa!" His hands cradled my face in his palms tilting me forward to his level, "Mikasa...say something," He urged.
"I... I'm confused I..." stuttering, my body swelled in convoluted emotions that I was unable to decipher. Then I suddenly remember about the fire—because of the scent of smoke became too strong to ignore.
Levi looked over in the same direction I did, watching nothing but smoke rising from the train cart.
"It's dying off. We'll be able to go in now."
"Wait, go in—what are you?"
He gripped my hand, "Come, it will make sense when you see..."
I let my hand rest in his, wrapping my fingers in a firm hold. My stomach twist in knots. Why did it feel so right?
He climbed into the cart first and I followed after him. The walls of the rusted cart where charred with ash and the burned pieces of fabric and wood lay scattered about. The smoky aroma was familiar to that of charcoal. Levi pushed open the gate of the cart wider to filter more of the setting sun into the large pile of ashes and dirt.
I covered my mouth remembering quite vividly the image the sweet-looking old woman. Levi pulled out clear latex gloves from his back pocket and slipped them on.
"You'll need some kind of container to scoop up the—," I stopped talking suddenly when I noticed a portion of the charred debris begin to move.
Levi's hand dug right into that spot and seemingly grabbed a supportive hold of something. There were no sounds coming out of my mouth as Levi dusted off ashes from the writhing form—revealing a newborn infant.
Incredibly small, curled like a raisin, tiny balled fists sticking into the air as it bawled out fragile whiny cries. Levi carefully wrapped the babe in the dark blanket he brought with him. The way he swaddled the baby looked like a neatly made burrito; streaks of ash on it's forehead were wiped off with quick strokes of his thumb.
It was beyond normal reasoning—but without any explanation I already pieced together the mental conclusion that the woman I had previous met—was now the infant that was presented in front of me. But accepting such thought was incredulous and fantastical. Levi stared straight at me reading the look on my face.
"It is what you think..." he muttered, "She's the same person, Josée, our daughter."
"Daughter?!" I took a sharp intake of breath "Are we married...?"
She called me mother, I remembered.
The baby had subsided to a coo, as he brought her to his chest, "Yes. We are. You died before your time, Mikasa—unnaturally; which is why you're struggling to remember—and explains this ridiculous age gap we have."
"Wait! Just wait..." I begged as I rested my head in the palm of my hand, "I get what you're trying to say—but it's crazy! This is all crazy. All I feel is, well that—I haven't died! This is the only life I've known to live, and I just—,"
"Look, it's okay." Levi cut in, "I get it. Stop killing yourself over this. There is no rush."
I glanced up and his weary eyes regard me with a softened look.
"I get it." he repeated, "This is all going to be confusing until you 'wake up'. So I'll wait. We'll both wait," he added in the end with a small glance down to the bundle in his arms.
I felt my chest tightened at the sound of his words.
Eren's voice echoed in the train yard. I jolted, whipping my head back to see him passing through the fence.
"You must promise me that you won't tell anyone about this." His voice dropped to a grave tone.
I gave him a quick shaky nod.
"You are able to begin wrapping your head around this concept, but normal people never will. It's different for them." He said as he removed the gloves and discard them onto the ash.
"So the feeling of déjà vu, I feel this way because—,"
"Shhh.." he quickly planted his fingers to my lips, "He's coming."
"Mikasa—fuckin hell! You had me worried sick! What's going on, why does it smell like something burned?" Eren approached the train cart as Mikasa climbed out of it.
"—My newborn daughter was kidnapped from the hospital—and some asshole try to set her on fire." Levi cut in.
He's really good a coming up with something on the fly. I'm terrible when it comes to that. I can't lie to save my life.
"Are you serious?!" Eren cried with concern, "Is she okay?"
"Yes, she's fine," Levi replied as the infant cooed in his arms.
"You'll have to take her to a doctor, to check her lungs—black smoke is serious problem, you know. Actually, my father is a doctor and he's home now—you can have him take a look."
"Eren, Eren." I say softly, resting my hand on his shoulder, "It's fine, I think we should let him go."
"You two are...?" I can see Levi's eyes slightly narrow.
"Brother-sister." Eren promptly replied, "We grew up together and everything. I actually came looking her because it's dinner time," he turned to me, "you escaped again without telling anybody." He chastised.
"Sorry..." I whisper.
"I'll go off on your word, and have your father take a look."
"Sure, of course!" Eren replied assertively. "You don't have to worry. I'm not lying to you can tell Mikasa what I say is the truth."
I nodded. The look of his eyes tells me he doing this to follow me.
"Alright." Levi says, "I'll give you a ride, just tell me where to go."
Levi hands me Josée to hold on the way back home. I sit in the backseat feeling her warmth permeate into my arms. She was getting sleepy, making small yawns and pursing her tiny lips. I wanted to see her open her eyes—I wanted to see her smile.
I wouldn't mind at all keeping her as mine.
Eren sat in the front passenger guiding him to our house. He asked questions about my presence during the incident to which Levi had always a prompt response. People often over look Eren's keenness because of Armin—but Eren has a sharp intuition that never failed him. I believe he got it from our mother. I can't even being to imagine Eren's reaction to strange truth of it all if it were to come to the light...
"You can pull up in the driveway," Eren instructed.
The engine was off, and Levi stepped out to quickly open the backdoor for me to step out.
Our eyes met, and he can see the happiness reflected in mine.
"She's adorable." I said.
"She is. She gets it mostly from her mother..." The smirk tugged at the edge of his lips made me blush.
Eren after stepping out walked around the car, "I'll go in and tell my old man. We won't take much of your time, uh."
"Levi. Ackerman." He filled in.
Eren pointed to himself, "Eren Yeager. And you've met Mikasa. I'll be back."
"He's pretty serious." Levi remarked after Eren walked inside the house. "I guess he's not bad..." he said to himself.
"Do... you want to take her back?" I asked. I felt guilty for holding on to the baby for so long.
"You're tired?" he said.
I found my face getting hot, "I-I might be the mother...but can't hold on to her too much if we're keeping this a secret."
"I'm glad to know you believe me this time around..." he mused moving a lock of hair behind my ear. "There was once a time you refused to trust me and tried to beat the living shit out of me."
"... once a time?"
"Oi, quit flirting with my sister!" Eren barked as the front door shut behind him.
Levi was unnerved calmly taking a step back as glanced over to my brother.
"Chances are she's nearly twice your age—pedo." Eren hissed.
"Get your attitude checked, runt." Levi growled. "I was simply complimenting her."
"Yeah, oh-kay." Eren scoffed sarcastically as he walked back, "Just come inside."
"Nevermind," Levi mumbled, "He's an asshole and want to murder him."
I pressed my lips together to suppress a giggle.
Our mother warmly welcomed Levi and the baby. Especially the baby. Levi carefully took her from my arms and walked into living room where father had the coffee table draped over with bed sheet as a patient bed.
"Place her here," he said. And Levi obliged. "Alright, let's take a look." Grisha adjusted his glasses and undid the blanket wrap.
"What an ordeal, Eren told us the story. Are you hungry? We were just having dinner." Mother asked resting her hand on Levi's shoulder. He looked startled at first. "You look so much like..."
"Ah yes, Eren takes after me," she chuckled. "I get it a lot."
"Just a small bit, I guess. I ate something earlier." He replied.
"Okay," she stood and started walking back to the kitchen, "Mikasa, Eren, leave them both alone—you can't crowd the baby."
I saw Eren give a suspicious stare towards Josée as father placed a stethoscope over her chest.
"Ugh. I'm coming." I heard him grumble.
Mother placed a plate of beef curry and rice in front of me, reheated from the stove. "Your father begged me to make him curry all week." she mused. "It's the only reason he's here so early," she joked.
"It smells good." I replied giving her a soft smile.
"Enjoy, love." She turned and opened the cupboard to pull out another plate.
"Do you think he's okay with spice? I only used a touch of chili in the paste..." she hummed.
I didn't reply mostly staring at Eren. He sat at the table next to me, his plate uneaten and cold as his fist prop up his head in thought.
"Eren... what's wrong?" I slowly asked turning my spoon in the curry.
"He said that the baby was taken from the hospital... but there's no wrist band..." he whispered so mother wouldn't hear.
"I don't think Levi would lie." I hushed.
"What happened back there Mikasa?"
"He's not lying." I repeated without skipping a beat.
I was so afraid he'd see right through me.
Eren leaned forward on the table, "You know that there's people that make a business from going in hospitals and stealing newborn babies—you know that right?"
"Yeah... and that's why he said that someone stole Josée and he followed the person to get her back."
"No one steals a baby to burn it. Come'on Mikasa, use your brain. I want to use the benefit of the doubt, but something's off here..."
"Eren! Eat your food." Mother chastised.
"Ma, it's cold." Eren pushed it aside.
"Well it's not my problem, just eat it."
"Ma!" Eren retorted, "It got cold cuz I went out to find Mikasa, you know that!"
She sighed as she finished loading a scoop of rice onto Levi's plate, "Then use the microwave, honey. You can't expect me to give you the idea for everything."
Eren stood snatching up his plate and paced towards the microwave on the counter.
In that moment father walked exhaling with accomplishment, "The baby is perfectly healthy, though it'd be wise to give her towel bath to remove all the dirt. Now, I'd like to have another round of that curry," he beamed rubbing his hands together.
"Oh that's great news." Mother replied happily. "And this is for the guest."
"Huh? Is there any left?" He quickly walked over to the stove and groaned, "Carla you always do this!"
Levi walked in with the babe wrapped in his arms.
"Here, I'll hold on to her..." Mother insisted as she reached for the bundle.
"No, that's fine I'll—," Levi couldn't say much as she pretty much took Josée right from his arms, "Okay. Sure, whatever."
"Ohhh she's so precious..." She cooed as she cradled the infant. "You can use our bathroom to bathe her you know. It's best to do so right way."
"Thanks I appreciate it," Levi replied. He sat down next to Eren, and glanced down to his overloaded plate. "I just said a 'small bit'" he muttered.
Father stood in the background using the serving spoon to scrap up leftover sauce with the little bits of beef left inside.
"What about the mother of the baby? Your girlfriend, I'm guessing from the lack of a ring. Shouldn't you call her and tell her everything's okay?" Eren pressed.
Levi picked up the spoon and scooped half with rice and curry. He brought it to his mouth leaning a bit forward and savored the food. Leaned back, chewing calmly as he took the napkin and placed it on his lap. Then, he picked up the glass of ice water served to him and took a sip.
"Oi, did you hear me?" Eren nagged.
"EREN!" Mother hissed.
"She doesn't know yet." Levi said after swallowing. "The birth was difficult and she's in a delicate state, and I'd rather not tell her now...and I'm married. Don't go about assuming things. It will get you in serious trouble." His keenly eyed him.
"Oh goodness a difficult birth, oh I believe you. It reminds me of when I had Eren." Mother began.
"After he was born, I was bedridden for a week in the hospital; that boy drained the life out of me coming out."
"Twelve hours of labor, I punched your father and strangled the nurse. They called code white on me twice."
"Oh but it was all worth it," she walked over to Eren who was red-faced and upset to pinch his cheek, "He's my sweet little cream muffin I wouldn't have it any other way."
Levi had this wicked smirk that Eren was dying to wipe off his face.
Later, I guided Levi to the upstairs bathroom to bathe Josée. I had her unwrapped, basically naked as she started to cry from cold draft that was felt from the ventilation. Levi stood in front of the tub and rolled up the sleeves of his blouse.
"I'm surprised she hasn't pooped yet." I say.
"She hasn't eaten anything." Levi said casually as he checked the water temperature with the back of his hand.
He had some soft small towels mother gave him to use.
"Is she hungry?" I rested Josée's body against the my chest, cradling her head with the back of my hand. She cried and cried.
"Perhaps. I have formula at home. She can hold until I bring her back."
"You knew she was going to die?" I swayed my body left and right as her crying subsided.
Levi turned off the water, the tub filled to a shallow level, "Yes. We both knew. To start a new cycle unprepared is ludicrous. So I have everything I need... including some of her old toys."
I glimpsed to make sure the door was closed, "So that I'm clear—you, me and Josée have been growing up, dying, and then coming back again? Over and over?"
"Yes, but this is Josée's first time starting over. But you ended your cycle too early so it felt like two lifetimes for you." He clarified.
"Why did I died early?" I pressed.
"Uh... that was..." Levi paused with a stressed sigh. "Here, pass her over."
"That was what?" I urged.
"... don't want to talk about this now." Levi warned as he received Josée.
I sighed heavily. I guess I can find another time to ask him about it. But still I wasn't done with my questions. I knelt down against the tub next to him.
"So how many times have we been dying and coming back?"
Levi held Josée scooped under his arm and used his free hand to trickle water on her body. "When you remember," he said, "You'll know everything."
"Just tell me now," I plead.
A sigh. And then silence. I saw how Josée kicked her little legs and quickly retracted them, reaching out her arms with her bitty fingers; opening and closing. She looked like a wind-up toy trying to move around. She opened her eyes and made small sounds, as Levi continued to trickle more water. He let some drop over her forehead and she cooed tossing her head bit forming an odd smile—at least it looked like a smile. I don't think newborns have figured out how to do that yet.
I rest my chin on my arms against the tub's edge, smiling. When I caught the look on Levi's face my eyes widened a bit. He looked absolutely tender—a gentle smile that I hadn't fully seen until now. He used the soft towel to wash her, resting the bottom half of baby's body in the shallow water, and supporting her back with his other hand.
I moved closer to him unknowingly until I was leaning against his left arm. When I realized I startled myself a bit, but I noticed how he didn't mind and shyly rest my head against it.
"She gets in so much trouble when she's older..." Levi softly muttered.
He lightly huffed, ".. Yeah."
I couldn't stop staring at him. My stomach was doing that butterfly thing. I wonder what it was like being married to him. Seeing him by my side when I wake up every morning. I want to remember. I pulled myself close and awkwardly dropped a kiss against his jawline.
He suddenly stiffened and I jolted back; somehow tumbling on my own knees and falling on my butt on the tile floor.
"I-I'm sorry I don't know why I—,"
"You know why," Levi mused.
I could feel my face get hot.
He pulled Josée out of the tub and stood up, "Pass me a towel."
I don't know if I can recover from the overwhelming embarrassment that took over me. I kept silence as he dried her off on top of the toilet seat. He wrapped her in the towel and looked at me.
"Are you still embarrassed?"
I hid my face in my hands, "I don't want to think about it."
Just then I heard his voice draw close.
"Mikasa, look at me."
When I pulled my palms down from my face he stood close to me. Of course Josée was still in his arms. I felt his lips touch mine as my eyes fluttered closed. It was my first kiss. I was left with my mouth slightly opened when he backed away.
"That's it. I can't go any further." he said, "Not when you're like this."
I cupped a hand over my lips, "Okay..." I whisper shyly.
".. ugh fuck me."
The door opened.
"I have the diapers and a onesie for her—but I think it's too big on her." Eren said holding up a grocery bag.
"Where did you get those?" I asked.
"I did a quick run to the store and the onsie is actually yours from when you were a baby it was in a bag at the attic." He explained.
Levi stepped out and received the bag, "Thanks, cream muffin. Tell your mother I said 'thank you'."
"Fuck you," Eren rasped under his breath. His ears burned red.
I let Levi dress up Josée on my bed in my room. Eren was there keeping a hawk's eye over him as he leaned against the wall. Levi was pretty level headed through the entire time. I let her grip my finger as Levi snapped on the buttons on the white onesie.
"It says 'cupcake' on it." Levi remarked with an amused smirk. "So you were cupcake" he said pointing to me—and you're "cream muffin" he looking to Eren, "Am I right?"
"Oh give it up!" Eren huffed, his cheeks flushing scarlet.
I saw how Levi's shoulders slouched a bit, "That's nice... it's nice having a normal family, you know... You're lucky in that way." he frankly spoke.
"Well, you have one now..." Eren replied.
"Yeah, you're right..." He said slowly.
"Mikasa, go pick up the blanket from the dryer downstairs." Eren told me.
"Um, mm." I nodded. I felt apprehensive about leaving the two of them alone. But Levi seemed more than capable of handling Eren, I figured. "I'll be right back."
When I returned with the dark blanket that Levi originally used, fresh and dry from the laundry downstairs, the two seemed to have reached some kind of reconciliation. Eren had Josée in his arms and was in the middle of passing it back to Levi.
I stood there until Levi noticed me. He walked over and took the blanket it from my hands, "Thanks."
He swaddled Josée with it as she started to fuss again. "I need to go. Thank you for everything." And with that he made his way out the room and down the stairs.
I looked at Eren, nonverbally asking him what it was they spoke, but he just shrugged his shoulders. I went after Levi down the stairs. I stood at the middle of the stairway looking over as he bid farewell to my parents. He offered them money, but my mother absolutely refused. When the door opened for him, Levi looked back catching one more glimpse of me before walking out.
I couldn't sleep that night.
I kept thinking about him. I didn't do my homework. I forgot to text Annie my algebra notes. And I didn't watch that new episode of my favorite k-drama that came out tonight. All of those things felt insignificant to me now.
What do I have to do so I can 'wake up' as he says?
What if I had been feeling like I've been dreaming—because I was, in fact, dreaming?
I turn on the lamp and crawl out of bed to reach for my laptop. I pulled up the document of the essay I submitted to Mr. Smith this morning.
I read it over.
I wish I could have showed it to Levi. Could he have recognized it as memories? Is the woman there, myself? How the heck did I make it here to the U.S. then?
I calculated the years and I noticed that there was another life I had lived after the events in my essay. My previous one. The one in which Josée was born in. I slapped the laptop shut and buried my face into the pillow.
…. who takes care of him when he becomes a baby? At what age do his memories come back to him? Or does he always know? Are there others like us?
This... this makes me immortal doesn't it? I'll never die permanently. I'll never see the afterlife.
I turn my head and bury myself into the pillow.
If I'm able to tell Eren and Armin... would they believe me?
I don't remember when it happened, but I fell asleep.
It's morning. I see myself in the reflection of the bathroom mirror; the slight bags under my eyes, my disheveled hair that I sort with a few pats over my head. I pick up a lock of hair and trace my fingertips to the ends, I placed them to my lips and my mind dazes off.
His body is firm and warm when I hug from the back. It's like I can lean onto him and he won't buckle over. Just resting my chin on his shoulder as he's brushing his teeth. His aroma, my lips pressed against side of his nape. When he nudges his head against mine with a grumble because he can't speak in that moment... I love him. I love him so much. And I know that he loves me...
"Yo, Mika—are you done in there? I gotta take a shower."
I jolt in a sudden shake knocking off the small pump of liquid handsoap sending it clattering to the floor.
"Y-yeah I was swatting a fly!"
"Uh-huh okay, sure."
"Shut up, Eren!" I shout.
"I'll go eat breakfast first then, to give you time, just don't fall asleep in there again okay?"
I sighed as I bend down to pick up the handsoap.
"I wish he could have given me his phone number," I whispered.
When I'm sitting in the kitchen eating french toast with orange juice, Armin walks in as he normally did every school day.
"Good morning Mrs. Yeager," he chanted in his usual endearing tone.
"Good morning, Armin," Mother greeted, "did you eat?"
"Yes, but thank you."
Eren just came thundering in, throwing his bookbag over his shoulder, "Mika hurry up!"
"Ah no, it's okay we have a few minutes." Armin insisted.
I took three huge bites of toast, and drank the rest of the juice in one gulp, slamming the glass on the table.
"Awesome! Let's go." Eren urged.
Mother just crossed her arms, "I don't know what's the rush, but you kids take care."
"Alright mom, bye!" He started off.
I pass by her and give her a quick kiss on the cheek. She brushed away the hair that was pinned by my bookbag strap. "Take care sweetie," she cooed.
It was in that moment I remembered how Levi pulled Josée out of the ashes. I wondered if Mother found me in a similar state. And how? And where?
"Something wrong?" she asked.
"Mikasa hurry up!"
"You watch your mouth young man!"
"No, it's okay... I just was thinking about something." I told her.
"Well I won't keep you. Go ahead. Good luck at school." Mother said with a gentle pat on my head.
"Mm." I nod and step out the door following them both.
The tea is bitter. I ran out of sugar. Jo keeps crying, but I just leave her in the bassinet next to me. I hardly had an ounce of sleep.
"Someone looks like a miserable shit, hehe.."
The heavy sound of boots creaking the floor boards grows closer.
I crane only my eyes and see my Uncle stand behind me leaning a hand on the backrest of my chair.
"Fuck off." I grumble. I lean forward and take a sip of my tea.
"Don' worry you'll find your pretty black bird soon enough." He dropped his hat at the center of the table.
"I already did."
"You did? So why the long face?" He walked over to the bassinet and picked Josée up. "Ahaha! So she finally sparked up? Cupcake, that's a cute shirt—that ain't a euphemism for anything is it?"
"I hope not. It's hard to keep up with what they say nowadays."
"I know. Everything has a double meaning. Hey, hey, shhhhh... it's okay. Ol' uncle Ken's here."
Josée cries died to a coo.
"What'sa matter wit you? Ehh?! You gotta have her on you all the time—you need to give her your heat. She's a phoenix not a turkey."
I scoffed. He's the last person I wanted to hear parenting advice from. I wasn't exactly mad at him but we had several clashes over the years due to our way of doing things. Kenny was absolutely detached from humanity for example, treating human lives as disposable. While I, on the other hand valued them.
"Why are you here?"
"Keh. What'cha think? I came to drop by on my favorite nephew."
"Your only nephew." I growled.
"Which automatically makes you my favorite and my least-favorite," he shot back.
"Did you hang yourself to get yourself close to my age or what?" I hissed regarding the look of his thirty-something appearance.
"Not hang." he pointed to the inside of roof of his mouth. "Bang."
I groaned. "You don't just incinerate when you do that—you explosively combust."
"Yeah well, I did it at a gas station—I was the miracle baby they found in the aftermath. I still got the news paper clippings."
"You make me sick..."
"But I didn't do it for you. I had my own reasons."
"Are you still trying to find mother?" I took a longer drink from my cup.
"Yeah. I am. Still haven't gotten any solid leads. Kuchel knows how to make herself disappear for good— Aw, shit. Will you hold her? I think she puked on me."
"Good." I chuckled as I took Jo in my arms.
Kenny walked over to the sink and wet a dish rag to stroke off the small spot of puke on his blouse.
"You still haven't told me about Birdie—where is she?"
"A family took her in. She's too integrated with society... she goes to school and everything." I unbuttoned the first half of my shirt so Josée can rest skin to skin on my chest. She turned her head to rest her cheek against warmth of my body and closed her eyes.
Kenny opened the refrigerator door and peered inside, "So? Go in and snatch her out. She's in her right mind ain't she?"
"No.. her memories are still dormant."
"What?" He pulled out an apple, "Wait don't tell me she's a rugrat?"
"No, god no.. she's like fifteen-sixteen around there."
"Then why is she still stuck in the daze?" he exclaimed shutting the fridge door.
"Because she's like that. When she grows up alone without any triggering reminders, she stays that way..." I sighed heavily, "She's hopeless without me."
Kenny took a fierce bite from the apple and chewed it down before plopping on a chair, "Nah, kid. You're the hopeless one. Lookit ya. Sitting here pissing and moanin' with the babe crying in the crib. She'll be in the sinking of the titanic and will still find a spot on the lifeboat. Birdie's invincible."
"I saw the house..." I mused as Kenny stared at me, "I met the woman she called mother... she even has a little bratty brother that's protective over her. It's nice memories for her to have. In a way, I don't want to ruin it. It's best for her to live out the rest of her high school before she leaves them."
Kenny sucked his teeth and then slouched forward folding his hands on table, "You know what's the problem here?"
I kept quiet, he leaned closer to me off his chair, close enough that I saw light gleam off his eyes.
"...You're being a whiny little bitch."
I pressed my lips together, as I glared at him. I didn't want to do anything with my daughter in my arms.
Kenny dropped back to his seat, "Birdie isn't human. She will never be. She can't be running around living some fantasy. That shit ain't our life." Another bite off the apple. Swallow. He's chewing with his mouth open. Gross. "You know what else? Birdie never gave a shit about mortals in the first place." His fist landed with a bang the table, " She was fine the way she was, until you came along, made her all sentimental. And what you're letting her do now—that's just making her worse."
"We can't exist in this world like people don't matter! They are everywhere, they make society—and without them we'll be living nothing more than an eternity of emptiness." I argued.
Josée awoke with a weak cry. I rubbed her back, rocking my body slightly.
"Keh." he took another bite and didn't say anything for a while. I wanted the conversation to die off. But I can tell that Kenny was still mulling over his words before he'd spit them out again.
"If you're gonna sit here, bitch at me and eat my food, then I suggest you get the fuck out." I cussed. I was tired. I wanted to be left alone.
He did that gross thing where he licked the back of his teeth, "Listen, kid. I don care if you guys fuck mortals on the side. If you skin'em alive for kicks. If you like doin' jumpin jacks with'em. I. Don. care. The point I'm tryin' to get at—is to stop gettin' attached to them. Because you know what? They don't care. AS soon as they find out who you really are—you'll be nothing more than a specimen and a source of their hatred. We got what they've always wanted. What they think is the best shit in the world. Is it? I donno. I'd like to be dead and see how that feels like..."
"Ya done?" I said flatly.
Kenny raised his arms, "I'm done. Say anymore and I'll be talking to the walls."
"Good, now get the fuck out."
He pushed himself to his feet. "Alright, fine."
Kenny picked up his hat and lightly tugged it on, smoothing his hand across the brim. As he paced out he paused at the doorway.
"At least pay Birdie my regards will ya?"
I clenched my jaw, "... fine."
He grinned, "hehe, alright.. good luck to ya."
I didn't get off the chair until I heard the door shut to my apartment in the distance.