Note: First, I owe you all an apology. It's been literally five years since I've updated and I have been pretty scared to face you guys after all this time. However, I know I promised that I wouldn't abandon this story, so I knew I had to get back to it no matter what. Thank you to everyone that has supported me over the years. Your reviews, favorites, follows, and PMs have touched my heart and kept me thinking about this fic and how to revive it again. Even if you're just clicking on this to see what the heck I posted, I'm grateful for you, too.

Note 2: Since 2014, we have found out about Levi and Mikasa's bloodline and relationship. This story will be parallel to the manga and have some of the same scenes, but I have no intention of making them related. I just wanted to touch on that.

Note 3: This is a little selfish, but I really prefer how "Hanji" looks over "Hange," so I left her name as is in this story. If you guys truly feel like I should just man up and change it to "Hange" moving forward, I can do that.

Chapter 10: Side Effects

After everyone made their way out of the meeting, Eren pulled Armin into one of the side corridors. He waited to see that everyone was out of sight before whispering, "Did you tell Mikasa that Corporal Levi knew?"

With wide eyes, Armin shook his head. "I thought you were going to tell her when you went to get her…"

Eren looked away and let out a quick curse. "It slipped my mind," he admitted. Swiveling his head back to his friend, he asked, "Did you see him? He looked like he wanted to… To…"

"Eat her," Armin finished, without hesitation. "I saw it, too."

Eren couldn't believe he didn't let Mikasa know. During the briefing, he swore he could see Levi's stare jetting across the room and burning through Mikasa's head. She had to figure out the hard way, and Eren felt horrible.

When they walked to the meeting earlier, it was refreshing to hear her laugh. So refreshing that it brought him back to when things were simple and it was just them two and Armin. The usually stuffy corridor walls inched away to let them have their space, and Eren breathed a little easier. The moment was too nostalgic and fragile, and he let himself dwell in it.

Now Mikasa was getting the wrath of their corporal because of his slip-up.

He had to apologize, at least. Or get her away from Levi before he descended upon her like one of those creatures in Armin's forbidden books. Letting go of Armin's sleeve, Eren turned to find Mikasa, but he didn't see her around.

Come to think of it, Levi wasn't anywhere to be seen either.

Which could only mean…

When he saw the closed door of Erwin's office, Eren's eyes went wide. "Armin—"

"—Mikasa," the blond huffed out before they rushed to their friend's aid.

This can't be good, Eren thought to himself with worry. His hand was inches from the door handle when the two boys heard the muted but punctured notes of an argument.

"Maybe it's your fault."

That was Mikasa's voice. Eren turned to Armin, searching for understanding but coming up short. The blond had his mouth set in a grim line.

"I was saving you."

And that was definitely the corporal's voice, which spelled trouble. Eren had no idea what it meant, though. When did Corporal Levi save Mikasa? Last time he checked, Mikasa didn't need anyone to save her. It was what bugged him from time to time, especially when he found himself waking up to hear people died to save him. Why couldn't he be as independent and self-sufficient as Mikasa? Why couldn't he just save himself for once?

Armin urged him to open the door, snapping him out of his self-deprecation. Eren was about to comply when the next sentence made his fingers flinch.

"You shouldn't have let Eren get in danger in the first place—"

"I let him make that decision himself, something you never did for him—"

"And how did that turn out for you? Weren't you the one that told me that each small decision turns into one big outcome? That's exactly what happened here. You shouldn't have let him make that decision on his own and you know it!"

Eren froze. This was about him? It didn't make any sense. And Mikasa was actually shouting, to someone of upper rank no less. How furious was she for her to outright scream at their corporal?

Nothing made sense. He turned to his friend for another try, searching his eyes for any amount of context.

Armin had a mixture of emotions on his face, like he both knew the situation and was still trying to figure it out. When he noticed Eren staring hard at him, he explained, "After they saved you from Annie, I saw them talking before we left the Forest of Giant Trees. Maybe that's what this is about."

"Why am I being brought up, though," Eren pushed, not getting why this conversation was about a situation that happened days ago. "And I was going to make that decision no matter what. She's being weird about it."

Armin looked at him like he was an upturned bug with no way to flip over again. It irked him to no end.

"She just wants you safe," is all Armin got out before the door opened with a bang. Sunlight beamed into the hallway before quickly disappearing again. The two of them shuffled around the corner as the corporal strode away in a quiet rage. Cautiously, Eren peeked out to stare after his superior.

Was that steam rolling off his back?

He shared another look with Armin before swerving his head towards the recently abused door. Was it okay to go in? If they went in right now, she would know they heard the whole thing. Would she be embarrassed and not want to talk about it? Mikasa was terribly frank, but she had her moments. And she had things she wanted to keep to herself. Was this one of them?

Armin looked like he was on the same line of thinking, his brows furrowed in the midst of a decision. "I think we should," he said, as if Eren's expression displayed the question he wanted to ask.

"Okay," Eren gulped before knocking on the door. He urged himself to get to the bottom of things.

The door didn't open, and there was no acknowledgment from the other side. Light coated the floor underneath their feet, and no shadows of footsteps interrupted the rays. Eren turned to Armin again, who nodded as a sign to open it themselves. He nodded back and pushed his way through.

Mikasa looked up towards the knocking sound in minute interest. To be frank, she didn't want to get up. In fact, she didn't even want to lift her arm to grasp the knob and turn it. She continued to stare out of the glass windows, feeling the sun warm her already tinged face.

No one had to knock on that door before coming in right now; it was Erwin's office. If you weren't Erwin, you didn't need to be in there while he wasn't anyways. The pure notion of knocking meant that someone heard the conversation—no, argument—that she just had with Levi. If it was another superior, she wasn't going to hear the end of it. If it was Commander Erwin knocking, as outlandish as that would be, she wasn't going to hear anything before being flung out of Headquarters on her ass.

Not that she cared. She had enough authoritative company for one day. This mission couldn't come soon enough. Mikasa imagined taking all of her stress out on Annie once she had her in blade's length, and she relished in that thought.

Next to her, the door started to swing open, making a horrible squeaking sound that hinted at how much the fortress missed Levi's cleaning.

Looking up, she was surprised to see Eren and Armin looking around before setting their eyes on her. She jumped up and swiped at her face. Why did she do that? Was she even crying?

"Eren. Armin," she said, alarmed, "Is there something wrong?"

"You tell us," Eren replied, looking annoyed but sounding sympathetic. How he could pull that off, she would never understand.

"It's nothing," she said, instinctively. When both of the boys gave her reprimanding looks, she conceded, "I didn't know he knew."

Eren and Armin looked at each other, guilt plastered on their faces.

"We're sorry, Mikasa," Armin said, "We should've told you before the meeting."

Mikasa nodded and looked at Eren, who just looked at the floor like his apology was lodged in his throat. His head suddenly shot up like he just remembered something important.

"He didn't do anything to you, did he," he rushed out, looking a whole shade darker.

What was that about? Mikasa shook her head before getting specific, "Nothing physical." At least, not this time. There were plenty of physical things that happened last night, but she didn't want to mention that to them yet.

Armin breathed a sigh of relief before explaining Eren's outburst, the latter keeping his expression serious, "The corporal stormed into Commander Erwin's office earlier and choked Squad Leader Hanji."

"What," Mikasa breathed, "Why would he do that?"

Then she realized: Levi himself would never dare to try something like that. But he also wouldn't try to overpower her and state such harsh and unrelenting things to her either.

"The injection is doing things to his mind, or body," she stated, as if she had already researched the whole thing. There was just no other explanation. "Or both," she added, a little softer.

"That's what we think, too," Armin agreed. Swinging his eyes to Eren, he asked, "Is there a way you tame it? Maybe Corporal Levi could do the same thing, given that he has the same temperament that you do now. O-Of course, this is all based on speculation. It could be a completely different outcome…" His voice was shaking, as if he knew Eren wouldn't take his questioning well.

Eren pursed his lips, annoyed but compliant. "I can barely remember how I got this. I just know I wasn't born with it, like Leader Hanji thinks. I don't know how I know that; I just feel it."

"Well, what can you remember," Mikasa pushed, hating that she couldn't offer any help at all. She only attempted getting Levi out of his crimson fury, but she didn't know how to keep him out of it in the first place.

"I don't…" Eren started, before drifting off. He was lost in thought after that.

Mikasa and Armin gave each other a look before staring back at their friend. They waited with searching eyes, and he could only respond with, "I don't remember anything."

He felt a hand on his shoulder and was surprised that it was Mikasa that reached out. "Eren," she urged, "You feel it, too, right?"

"What," he questioned, a flash of annoyance in his face. He hated the pressure he was in at the moment. "Feel what?"

Mikasa looked at his feet, her eyes in shadow. "The guilt," she whispered, her words slipping down to the floor.

The air around Eren seemed to push down on his entire body. Mikasa's hand left him, and a chill settled in its wake. Around him, the light streaming from the windows did nothing to alleviate the cold sweat on his neck. Guilt, guilt, guilt. He had enough blood on his hands already, didn't he? And now this. One of the only people swearing to protect him was now a hostage to his own blood.

Even if it was Hanji's decision to inject Levi, it was still his beastly essence that coursed through the corporal's veins. If anyone was going to figure out how Levi should deal with it, it would most certainly have to be him.

Clenching his fists, he tried to shove the dark feeling of regret away from his heart, "I'll figure it out. I have to."

He was met with firm nods from both of his friends.

Levi was seeing everything double. He managed to get to the bottom tunnels that housed the bedrooms, but he stumbled down the stairs and smacked his shoulder on the unrelenting ground. Gritting his teeth and almost piercing his bottom lip, he slowly brought himself up on both hands before heaving onto the slick cobblestones.

"I'm going to murder them," he pledged, his mouth coated in the sharp sourness of bile.

Some feet approached him with caution. "Corporal, let me help you!"

"Just get my crap mopped up," Levi replied, some rogue spit dangling from his lips. He swiped it off before adding, "Not a word of this, either."

"Yes, sir!" The cadet scurried away, leaving Levi alone again.

Just then, the corporal's body wracked with spasms as he practically detached himself from the floor. Light from the sconces cast spastic shadows everywhere, and the pounding in his head multiplied. Levi slowly made his way through the agitating silhouettes, clutching his newfound injury.

It only hurt for a few more seconds before feeling like nothing happened.

Levi huffed in mild amusement before grasping the wall for support, attempting to see this as a silver lining. Everything was still swimming in his vision and he felt another round of heaving coming despite his empty stomach. That next one was going to be a doozy.

The pain kept erupting in spurts. If he didn't get to a room soon, he was just going to have to settle on making a scene in the corridor.

After what seemed like hours, Levi found his quarters and burst through the door. "Fucking finally," he grunted as he eyed his bed. Kicking the door shut, he made his way over and tossed himself onto the perfectly made sheets.

At least it was dark. The light was getting too much to handle. In Erwin's office, the light was absolutely blinding. On his way down to the basement, the mix of people blending into each other and the dust swirling in sunbeams made his head spin. Thinking it would be a lot better underground turned out to be a mistake, too. Did it always look like the hallways down here were damn full of crows?

Turning onto his back, Levi waited out the dizziness.

With a flash, pain came back with a vengeance. Heavy pulses ricocheted through his body like the thump, thump, thump of solid punches. Thigh, shoulder, chest, head. Levi hissed, his jaw tight. Sweat soaked through his clothes and into the sheets, and the fabric was rumpled where he clutched them in pain.

Images of titans and lightning flashed in his vision. With a start, his eyes widened. Was this his body giving in? Was the titan blood taking over?

"The hell you aren't!" Levi screamed in rage. He gave everything in his being to suppress the immense power spewing from his veins. Inside his chest, his heart pulsed rapidly, pumping and pumping. He flung his body over to be face first into his pillow, clutching the sheets around him for dear life.

This was even worse than the pain that woke him up this morning. The only thing he could compare it to was being pulled apart from the inside.

His teeth clinked as his body snapped with a final jolt, and ever so slowly, the pain started to retreat. One by one, his limbs relaxed and steadily sunk into the soft confines of the sheets. The fury of pain stilled, and it was like a heavy molasses as it flowed out of his limbs and slipped into the bed. With bated breath, Levi waited until he was sure the pain was gone.

There was only silence.

Out of nowhere, a flurry of memories flooded his brain. They fell around his eyes like unrelenting raindrops, one right after the other. Memories of him barging into Erwin's office, Hanji in a chokehold, Mikasa across from him at the meeting, them outright screaming into each other's throats…

What was wrong with him? And when did all of this happen? Levi didn't even know how much time had passed since the injection. For all he knew, it could've been days.

But the worst part was the meat of the memories. It was like he was seeing himself through frosted glass. It looked like him, but so much was in the way that he could only see his outline.

He choked Hanji.

Levi had to right all of these wrongs somehow, but how the hell was that going to happen? There was no right answer at this point. They're probably treating him like a wounded animal that's prone to attacking at a moment's notice. And with good reason. He imagined them planning all sorts of precautions, like when Erwin decided on putting Eren in a cell before his trial. Levi darkly realized he was pretty much on borrowed time now.

Another memory came to him, hazy and disjointed. It was of him and Mikasa sprawled on the floor. She was below him, and crying. But something else was dripping onto her face.

Was he also crying? What was that all about?

Not a moment passed before another memory bubbled forth. Levi realized with a start that this was the most intense one yet. Just the very recollection of it caused a sharp pain in his eye, and it caused him to double over.

It started as just mere whimpers, followed by her squirming next to him. The only reason he realized she was awake was that she elbowed him pretty hard in the side. He woke up pissed, but as soon as he saw her tortured expression his features softened instantly.

"Ackerman," he whispered, staring on as she shifted to the left, then to the right, then lifted her head as if to get away from something.

At this point, he had no idea what was going on. He also didn't know whether to wake her up or not. Hardening his resolve to let her get through it, Levi held back and… just watched.

This wasn't just any nightmare, he observed with a weird feeling in his chest. She was under duress, and she was trying to get away. His thoughts were confirmed when her movements became more rigid and spastic. Mikasa thrashed to the side and got him good in the stomach before he pinned her down. Wrapping a protective arm around her torso, Levi gasped out, "Mikasa—"

"No, Levi, stop!"

That made him stop cold, freezing his entire being for a moment in time. She didn't say some random man's name—she said his name. Here Mikasa was, seemingly being held down or tortured, and she yelled for him to stop.

This made Levi's chest throb with something terrible, and his heart seemed to slide down to his stomach in sticky goo. The feeling that encompassed him was foreign and dirty and something he never wanted to feel ever again.

"Ackerman," he yelled more directly, shaking her this time.

"No! Stop—" she responded in a surprisingly coherent scream. Levi was desperate as she struck her arms out, burying his head in the gap between her head and shoulder. His arm snaked farther under her, veins bulging in his sudden muscle use, and he held her down as hard as possible.

With one more breath, he snapped, "Mikasa!"

The memory left with a pop, and dread washed over Levi as reality settled in its place.

How did he remember that so vividly, when every other memory was just a flash? Why was he only recalling Mikasa crying in one of his visions? An uneasiness swelled in his chest as multiple possibilities ran through his mind, not a single one of them acceptable. No matter how he spun it, the only conclusion was that he put her in a position she didn't want to be in and scared the living shit out of her.

Self-loathing erupted in his bones, sputtering through his muscles and flesh and pooled in the form of sweat on his skin. The air around him felt like a wet blanket, smothering. That wasn't him. But was it him? He knew he would never do something like that. To her, or anyone.

He couldn't have… Right?

Levi was sure his fist connected with the wall with a hard crack, and he welcomed the sharp pain prickling his hand. It was a small price to pay for everything he had done and had potentially caused. Maybe the excruciating pain was his karma, but Levi figured he deserved more than that.

"You piece of shit," he admonished himself. The small hissing sound next to him was the least of his problems.

Hissing sound?

Levi turned his head to spot a small waft of steam rolling off of his hand. He brought his hand to his face to inspect it, and it was apparent that he hit the wall so hard that some of his skin tore. Hot steam wafted from the affected areas in wisps, and he could visibly see his skin repairing.

This was a development. Levi gritted his teeth and shoved the sheets aside on his way out of the bed.

Not only did he have this situation with Mikasa to deal with, but the titan blood in his system was showing more and more life. Levi was absolutely sure he was being taken over just five minutes ago.

If Eren's essence really is interfering with his system, then his system has got to be fighting back. And in any fight, one side has to win and one side has to lose. What if his own body loses this fight and there is nothing he can do to stop it? Levi realized that he was a liability already, but it may be even worse than he initially thought. Physical attacks happened with Hanji, and verbal attacks happened with Mikasa.

Well, as far as he knew. There also may have been physical attacks with Mikasa, as well… And that was something he definitely needed closure on before pitching himself off Wall Rose. As soon as he saw Mikasa, he would get it out of her no matter what. He was ready to reach all the way into her throat and yank the truth out if he had to.

There was a boiling point approaching and not even knowing what the result of that would be made Levi nauseous all over again.

"Those bastards," Levi muttered while storming into the hall, "I really am going to murder them."

He needed to get out of the underground passageways and into some fresh air. The stuffiness and dust and dim lighting and terrible smell and everything else was getting to him, and outside was looking damn great right now.

Everything was getting to be too much.

Levi made his way back to the ground floor and walked right out of headquarters. As soon as the large wooden door shut behind him, he felt like he could actually breathe again.

"Good luck, Mikasa," Armin said, gripping her shoulder a little firmer before taking his hand back.

"Thanks, Armin," she replied, grateful. Turning her back, she walked out of the room thinking through the plan again.

For twenty minutes or so, the three of them thought of a plan to deal with Levi. Armin was going to wait in Commander Erwin's office until the man in charge came back, and Eren would go to Hanji and let her know. Mikasa was to deal with Mr. Hothead himself, supposedly because she was the only one that could handle him.

If they only knew.

She had lost her cool in his presence more than she was comfortable with. No matter the situation, she was always finding her feet off balance. There wasn't any real reason for her to let someone take over her like this. It definitely wasn't something she was used to.

With Eren, she was unusually calm, even during high stress situations. The only times she would freak out was when he was in immediate danger, the last time being snatched up by Annie.

With Levi, it wasn't the same: he brought out emotions she didn't think she had in her. It was like she was a completely different person in his presence. He was the only one that could completely shit on her day and somehow turn it into a good memory. There were things they shared that she had never shared with anyone else, even—

"You okay?" Eren's voice cut through the stiff air of the castle.

Mikasa shook the thoughts from her head. She was a little surprised that he was still walking with her instead of going straight to Hanji. "Yeah, just thinking about the plan," she whispered. "Do you think it's going to work?"

"Hell if I know," Eren shot back. Softening his tone, he sighed, "It's not like we have other options."

"We could lock him up," Mikasa offered, not without a little smugness in her tone.

"Definitely not," Eren argued. "I've been there. You feel like an animal no one wants to have around. It would only isolate him more."

"I still don't see how I need to be the one he needs around." Mikasa lifted her hand to graze the air above a lit sconce, warming her chilly bones.

"Because you've been the one calming him down. He hasn't done anything to you, even though he did that to Hanji and they've known each other for a long time."

Mikasa shook her head in earnest, recalling the night they traded blows like sworn enemies. It didn't feel good to face him like that, and she didn't want to think about it again. "He looked like he wanted to tear me apart last time I checked."

Eren held his gaze on her for a moment before turning ahead again. "Armin and I both thought something similar during the meeting."

Mikasa stopped, prompting him to do the same. "Eren," she whispered, "What's the worst that can happen to him?"

He looked at her with searching eyes, like there was an answer that he wasn't willing to give. She hated that he still didn't tell her everything. Maybe the corporal was right in saying that she was pushing him away by being too close.

"Turning into a titan, most likely," Eren finally replied, uneasiness coating his words, "And not knowing where to go from there."

A strong voice cut into their conversation, startling the both of them, "Even so, we must prepare for that."

Commander Erwin seemed to come out of nowhere, as if he had been there all along and they just missed him. Both Mikasa and Eren offered their hearts in salute.

The man raised his hand, and they stood at ease. "No matter what, we'll move forward," Erwin said, no lack of doubt in his features. "It is of utmost importance to keep this under wraps for now. I've assigned Hanji to figure out how to reverse the procedure, or at least figure out if that's even possible."

Eren nodded in response, but something was still bothering Mikasa. "If we find a way, will he lead Annie's retrieval mission," she asked, missing the questioning look on the boy beside her.

Erwin turned to her, his voice solid, "In the event we can cure him, yes. However, I doubt we can wait that long to find out. Hanji's expecting a visitor soon, so she'll be busy with him. Besides," the commander then turned towards Eren, "We need to find out how closely we need to watch Levi."

Eren lowered his eyes, prompting Mikasa to ponder what their commander really meant by that. Watch him like an animal like they did to Eren? For his own protection, or everyone else's? Beside her, her friend spoke, "Speaking of that, Commander, Armin is waiting for you in your office. We may have a plan for Corporal Levi to control the titan blood inside him, and he wants to have your input."

"Understood," Erwin responded, "I'm heading there now. We'll plan to leave tomorrow morning."

Mikasa and Eren once more saluted, watching their commander's purposeful strides.

"If he suffers any side effects from the injection, inform me immediately," Erwin commanded, not turning around again.

"Understood," both of the soldiers responded in unison.

Mikasa quietly wondered if something was going to happen to Levi if it turned out there were side effects. Would that mean he would be held under lock and key? Under fire? It would probably depend on what the side effects even were. She definitely understood where the commander was coming from, though. They didn't know the effects of Eren's body at all, and they chained him in a cell block deep underground. What would they do to humanity's strongest soldier if it turned out he could turn titan, too?

She didn't want to think about that.

A hand came up and gripped her shoulder. Mikasa glanced up to see Eren's serious gaze. "He'll be okay," he reassured, "We won't let him down a second time."

Mikasa didn't know if he just knew what she was thinking about, or if he just saw her in distress and wanted to help. Either way, she was touched. "Right," she whispered, covering her face with his scarf.

Eren gave her shoulder one last squeeze before heading toward Hanji's. "See you soon," he muttered.

Mikasa watched his retreating back for a few moments before heading the rest of the way to the corporal's room. Lack of sleep threatened her, but she quickly brushed the lethargic feeling aside. The retrieval mission and stress over how to deal with Levi was too much to think about. Getting tired was not an option.

She finally made it down to the bedrooms, glancing at the slippery floor at the bottom of the stairs. That was odd. It looked like someone mopped up one single section of the corridor. A fleeting thought of the corporal having a fit crossed her mind, and she scoffed. He probably wasn't going to like such a lacking effort.

Arriving at Levi's room, Mikasa paused before giving a soft knock. There was a good chance he was just asleep and she could deal with his short temper tonight. But, she had to steel her resolve since Eren and Armin were doing their part right now.

He didn't come to the door. In fact, there was no sound at all. Mikasa grabbed the handle and slowly peeked inside. Glancing into the room, she saw the unmade bed and no corporal in sight.

"Damn it," she cursed. If he left without even folding the sheets, he really wasn't himself.

The only thing that hadn't changed was him making everything difficult for her.

Mikasa huffed before taking long strides back to the stairs. The clinking sounds of her boots jangled through the stone corridor, and she tightened the knot on her cloak. She didn't know where to start, but she needed to find him before he did something drastic. Kitchens? Hanji's lab?


She clicked her tongue in annoyance. "I really am going to murder him."

From out of Erwin's windows, Armin held a blank stare on the forest below. Little shadows of clouds ghosted over the canopy, and the blond followed one's silent glide.

He wished he could be like that cloud, drifting high above the earth. On the ground, there were too many things to think about. Annie was still out there, and now they had Corporal Levi's condition to consider. Armin's mind wracked with so many hypotheses and possibilities and Plan A's and Plan B's that it felt cramped. A hand came up to cover his eye, the pain behind it stinging. Weariness overtook him for just a moment before the door behind him clicked open. Armin quickly spun around to give his salute.

However, it wasn't the commander entering, but his fellow cadets instead.

"You guys," Armin addressed, three sets of eyes looking just as surprised as his did.

"What are you doing here by yourself," Jean interrogated, a look of annoyance on his face, "Trying to see if the Commander's shoes fit?"

"Armin," Reiner jutted in, his gaze sweeping the otherwise empty room. Jean looked put-out when he was ignored. "Where's Commander Erwin?"

"He may have gone to Hanji's after the meeting." Armin stepped away from the window, leaving the warm beams one stride at a time. "I'm just waiting for him to come back," he finished, not wanting to give away why.

"Planning Annie's retrieval?"

Armin swung his eyes to the tallest one in the room. "Right," he responded, letting them think whatever they wanted to. He was really there to talk about the corporal, but no one could know about that yet.

"We're her comrades, too. We want to hear the plan," Bertholdt pleaded. Armin didn't miss the fierceness in his features.

"That's not up to him," Jean reminded them, "That's up to—"

"—Apologies for the wait, Armin."

Four sets of eyes zipped towards the doorway, falling on Commander Erwin's entrance. After four solid salutes, the man proposed, "Let's go over the mission. You three can be here for this, as well. It looks like the rest of the 104th isn't back yet, although I'm expecting a report on their situation soon."

Armin hid his shock. Didn't Erwin have his suspicions over some of the boys in the room just like he did? How did he blatantly offer this to them? And why weren't the rest of them back yet?

Erwin must have his reasons, the blond thought to himself. It was too direct of a decision.

And he could only go along with it. "Understood," he consented.

Reiner and Bertholdt went to gather the maps, and Armin went with Jean to gather some fresh parchment and ink from a drawer. They all convened at Erwin's desk when the door clapped open with a bang.

"Commander Erwin! Bad news! Wall Rose has been breached!"

All four soldiers stilled in shock, and Erwin stood ramrod straight.

Eren's head was swimming with thoughts as he made his way to Hanji's research lab. Annie was gone, the corporal was potentially inheriting his titan abilities, and Mikasa was acting differently. He couldn't put his finger on it, but he felt that something was off with her. He wanted to just ask if something was bothering her, but it looked as if she was more jaded than usual. With a quick thought, he figured she would admit whatever it was when she wanted to.

There were muffled voices behind Hanji's door, and Eren's thoughts dissipated.

"I've told you before: we did not stay silent out of malice."

That voice wasn't Hanji's, so that must've been the visitor Erwin mentioned. But what the hell did he mean by silence? Eren furrowed his brows and closed his fingers over the door handle.

"You know how ridiculous this is, right? The fate of humanity is at stake and you won't divulge a single thing. I don't care if it wasn't out of malice; you're still endangering us all whether you think so or not."

What could they possibly be talking about? Curiosity levels shot through the roof, and Eren's body moved on its own. He swung the door open and entered into a scene of papers strewn about, a quivering minister in the corner with an envelope in his hand, and Hanji sporting an intimidating stance in front of him.

Wait, that was the same church patron Eren saw at his trial, the one that people ignored for years. What business did he have with the Scouting Legion? Wasn't he on the Military Police's side?

Hanji spun around and recognition dawned her features. Her tone held no indication that she was threatening another human at the moment, "Oh, Eren. I needed to speak with you."

"I have something to talk about, too," Eren replied as he shot a wary glance at the pious man in the room.

"Don't mind Minister Nick," Hanji said as she made her way to a desk that had all sorts of equipment on it.

There were also some rock samples resting by a microscope. With a quick glance, Eren could see that both Annie's and his crystals were in the mix. The others just looked like normal stones. Was Hanji trying to compare their crystals to simple rocks? She had to have known the differences were vast.

The squad leader plopped onto her chair, grabbed one of the normal-looking stones, and positioned it on the microscope. Eren glanced at her, to the minister's wary expression, and back to her. How could she be so nonchalant after intimidating a member of the Church?

Hanji peered into the microscope before muttering, "He can hear what we both have to say. Who knows, maybe he'll have all the answers we're looking for."

Her tone suggested that being an order more than a speculation. Eren was too wrapped up in wondering what information Minister Nick could be withholding to care. However, he remembered Erwin's words. No one was to know what happened. Everything under wraps.

Hoping Hanji would understand, Eren whispered, "It's about… you know."

The squad leader adjusted her glasses, settling with shoving them up her head before observing the stone again. Most likely to get a closer look. Eren didn't really know how those things worked anyways. "I know. Minister Nick can still stay."

"O-Oh… Okay." Eren faltered a little, caught between her sternness and Erwin's command. But, one look at the church patron let Eren know that he wasn't even paying him any mind. Minister Nick's eyes were glued to the same stone Hanji was scrutinizing. "Well… We may have come up with a way for Corporal Levi to tame the ti… injection."

Immediately, Hanji's attitude switched. It was like someone pulled a string to light a lantern ablaze. She abandoned the equipment in front of her and shoved her chair backwards. Popping up, she clapped her hands together. "Amazing! Tell me more."

Eren was almost too stunned to continue. "It's mostly just a thought, but if he can do the same things that I do to calm down, it may help his mental state."

"That's great, Eren. We can start experimenting with that soon."

"There's another thing I should mention, as well…"

"Yes, yes. What is it?"

Eren took one last look at the minister. He wasn't as huddled against the wall as he was before.

Taking a deep breath and closing his eyes, Eren admitted, "Armin and I saw him leave Commander Erwin's office after what seemed like a fight between him and Mikasa. It looked like… he had steam rolling off of him."

The squad leader stood silent. Even from across the room, Eren could tell her head was quickly expanding with thoughts and ideas. Her countenance was downcast, the light from a small window coating her glasses completely.

Shakily, she spoke, "We have to keep watch over him. I don't know how we're going to do that yet, but we have to."

"Right," Eren agreed, faltering at the stray tear rolling down Hanji's face. Did she figure this was a side effect? Was she going to inform Erwin? If so, why was she crying?

"Minister Nick, hand me the bill and you can go. There's something I need to—"

The door burst open and Moblit peeked into the room. "Squad Leader," he urged, "We need to leave. Commander Erwin's been warned that Wall Rose has been breached."

Hanji's shriek didn't even sound human as she imploded, "Moblit! Are you serious? We can't leave yet!"

Eren watched as she swiped the wet trail from her face and went back to her microscope. Her teeth clenched with determination, as if she could somehow find more answers with willpower alone.

Moblit then rushed to get some gas tanks and gear from a stash in the room. His voice was weary as he passed behind Hanji, "Squad Leader, please hurry!"

Multiple people started filing in the lab, grabbing what they could to load up the carts. Eren and Minister Nick could only stand around and watch the commotion unfold in front of them.

Suddenly, Hanji shot up out of her seat again, and she thrust her glasses back down over her eyes before pocketing the crystals and stones. Moving to a corner of the room, she grabbed the minister with a flick of her wrist.

"Unhand me," the old man gritted out.

"No can do," Hanji quipped, "You're coming with us, friend."

Moblit swung the door open for everyone to go through, and his words were quick, "Commander is looking for Corporal Levi. Where is he?"

Both Hanji and Eren turned to each other, and the latter explained, "Mikasa's going to see him now. They should be down in the barracks."

"Go get them and we'll meet them outside," Hanji ordered, "Hurry!"

Eren gave a sturdy salute. "Right!"

Mikasa made her way through the dense forest around Headquarters. After searching the few places she knew Levi visited inside the castle and coming up short, she decided to try outside. The heat from the sun was heavy, piercing her cloak and jetting right into her skin. Sweat accumulated all over her body, and she swiped her forehead every so often.

The whole time, she was waging a war within herself over how to apologize. She was so caught up in needing to tell him the plan that she forgot that she owed him an apology.

"At least I'm able to keep people alive."

Mikasa winced at her own words. How could she say something so cruel? No one deserved that. Even with everything Levi did and said to her, she had absolutely no right to go that far. She was a cold-hearted person, she knew, but even that was crossing the line. His veins were also laced with Eren's blood. He didn't need more pressure thrust upon him.

But… she wasn't one to apologize, so this was foreign territory to her. Should she just outright say it? Or hope Levi somehow brings it up so she doesn't have to? Does she go over the plan first and then add 'Oh, also, sorry for making you feel guilty earlier' as an afterthought?

Mikasa didn't have a lot of weaknesses, but this was definitely one of them.

Surveying the areas around her, she made it all the way to the training grounds they used before. If Levi wasn't there, she was out of options. Either he escaped further into the woods where she couldn't follow, or he took his horse and ventured to somewhere far away from civilization.

But when she made it to the edge of the clearing, she noticed a lone figure standing in the flat middle-ground. Titan dummies remained strewn about, briefly reminding her of their first training session. It was already a distant memory. So much had happened since then that derailed any relationship they had built up the past weeks. Since that one impulsive choice. What was it that Levi had told her all those days ago?

"Everyone is driven by their own choices, and it's the accumulation of those choices that leads to outcomes."

What would be the outcome this time, Mikasa wondered gravely. It wasn't just Hanji's hands Levi's life was in now—she had a hand in this, too. Her and Eren. With a heavy conscience, Mikasa stood at the edge of the clearing, both hands gripping her scarf. It was just a matter of whether to go out there or just wait for him to notice her presence. Sunlight pooled around him, coating everything in a layer of blinding light. The cloak around him gently swayed, the wings of freedom appearing more and more wilted.

Levi had to have been putting a lot of pressure on himself. Why else would he be out here, away from everyone? She probably would have done the same if she was in his situation. It was in their nature to carry burdens on their shoulders. He knew he was a danger to everyone now, so distance was the best bet. Levi always knew what was best for everyone, even if he didn't show compassion that often.

She felt even more guilty for what she had said earlier.

When the corporal turned his head a fraction, Mikasa knew he sensed her. She slowly made her way out to him, trying her best to gather her thoughts.

She was three steps away when she heard Levi's soft, gravelly tone, "I want to apologize."

Mikasa stilled. In her head, the basket of thoughts she gathered fell to the ground, her words scattering in a million directions. This was definitely not what she was expecting.

"I don't even know what I'm apologizing for, but I feel like shit and I figured it was something I should say." Levi faced away from her again, not seeing the shocked reaction on her face.

It seemed as if he had never really apologized, either. That made Mikasa feel slightly better. But still… she had never been this thrown off by someone before. No matter how composed she was, he could rattle her. No matter how nervous she was, he could calm her. "You are the most infuriating person I've ever met," she replied, with full honesty.

"Do I get a medal," Levi joked, even though it seemed like his heart just wasn't in it.

Ignoring him, Mikasa continued, "No, but I think I still owe you an apology, too."

The corporal turned to fully face her then, a look of interest on his features.

Well, the light was fully on her now. Truthfully, Mikasa didn't even think she'd get this far. Wasn't he supposed to say something to piss her off and she'd go storming away? Again with his throwing her off. It was becoming a strange joke at this point. "I don't know how to talk to you," she admitted, earning a raised eyebrow. "I don't even really know how to approach you right now."

A pained expression flashed across Levi's face. If she wasn't mistaken, it looked like pure guilt.

His voice was tight, like the words were being pulled out of his mouth one at a time, "Yeah, about that—"

"—Let me finish, Corporal, just this once," Mikasa pleaded. If she didn't hurry up with this now, she was sure she would clam up and never find a way to apologize. This was getting too uncomfortable already.

Levi gave her a look she couldn't discern before surging forward, "I will, but you have to clear something up for me first."

Mikasa threw a hand out in anger as she spat, "Just listen to what I have to say!"

"Intriguing," Levi replied, "But I'm more interested in what happened between us."

Damn. He wanted to know about last night? It was still a fresh memory in her mind. Everything from the good to the bad. But there were a lot of things that happened between them that she didn't want to admit right now. It was just better if he didn't know how ballistic he became. Mikasa knew him, and he was only going to feel guilty. "Is that an order," she taunted, hoping he would just drop it.

"Are you going to obey it if it is?"



"What's with you?" Mikasa shook her head in frustration. What seemed like a civil conversation turned sour, yet again, and she couldn't take it anymore. The apology that was built up in her throat crumbled and broke down into dust. Mikasa knew she couldn't let Armin and Eren down, but this conversation was just going to have to wait. Spinning on her heel, she made her way out of the clearing.

Well, that was the plan. Levi's deep voice cut through her with a clean swipe, "Just tell me how fucked up I am."

A chill ran through her veins, freezing her mid-step. Turning back around to face him, her eyes shuddered as she asked, "What could you possibly mean by—"

Instead of seeing him upright, Mikasa saw Levi kneeling, one hand clutching his chest. His shoulders were shaking and his breathing was severely labored.

Mikasa's voice left her in a rush, "Levi!" She made her way over, bending down in front of him. Not knowing what to do with her hands, she held them out in front of him in a silent offer to help. "What's happening?"

Levi's pained expression was a cause for concern. One eye was shut tight and his teeth were clenched awfully hard. He made no sound, but it seemed like he just wanted to ride through the pain before saying anything. "Don't look at me like that," he finally gritted out, "I'm not dead yet."

"Could've fooled me," Mikasa shot back with a hiss. "What's going on?"

"After I left Erwin's," Levi murmured, his sentences punctured with shaky breaths, "I went to my room. I could barely get there before… I was hit with dizziness and nausea. Pretty sure I fell down the stairs and puked my guts out at some point." A cough forced its way out of his mouth, and Mikasa instinctively went to put a hand on his back.

That explained the slick spot she spotted in the basement hallway, at least. The irony wasn't lost on her.

Her face leveled with his, she probed, "This is from the injection?"

"Either that," Levi grunted, "Or I will personally fire the cook… But I managed to get to my room before all I could feel was pain. It hurt like a bitch. And I'm fine now, I can stand."

Mikasa took her hand away and let him get up on his own. She still wasn't letting her eyes off of him, watching for any signs of him collapsing again. It seemed like the pain was still affecting him in small bursts, like aftershocks.

She then realized something was confirmed.

Side effects.

It was like an anvil was dropped on Mikasa's chest. She knew she had to report this, but would she? Technically, she didn't have all the facts yet.

"I got some of my memories back, too, after the pain went away. Just pieces of things that happened. None of them are pleasant, but I have to know… If I did any harm to you, tell me now and I'll remove you from my squad, effective immediately."

Mikasa's mouth hung open with his confession and offer. He didn't remember everything? There was something he saw that caused him to offer her removal, but what? Yes, they fought and yes, they went a little far physically, but it wasn't anything she couldn't handle.

"What do you remember," she pried, hating the way her voice shook.

Levi looked away, a look of pure disgust on his face. "I just saw you crying, and you were underneath me. Judging by a nightmare you had, I could only imagine what I did to you."

So he remembered the nightmare fully? Mikasa clenched her fist. Everything was starting to make sense. She could see how he came to that horrifying realization, and she felt guilty for wanting to just ignore his questioning.

If she was going to help him, she was definitely not doing a good job. He didn't deserve to feel what he was feeling now. Mikasa's eyes roved over his features, the only thing they saw being absolute loathing. Even in the relentless light of the sun, his eyes were shrouded in shadow and shame.

She conceded, words flowing out of her like water, "I'll tell you everything that happened last night, but you don't get to say a word until I'm done."

The sarcastic retort she expected didn't come. Levi's face was still downcast, his arms hanging limp at his sides.

Mikasa's mouth slowly dipped into a frown. There may be a lot of things he didn't remember then. She reached out and took one of his fists in her hand. Levi's fingers felt like ice in hers, and she used both hands to encase them in warmth. His head lifted up to watch their tangled fingers, and his eyes reminded her of a dull blade.

"Whatever you think you did, it only happened in that nightmare," she whispered. "That's it."

Levi visibly tensed. "But I still hurt you."

Mikasa squeezed his fingers, transferring whatever heat she could into his frozen digits. She didn't need to look at the corporal to know that he was in pain. The small trembling in his fingers was enough. "I've dealt with worse," she whispered, so softly that she didn't even hear her own voice. Mikasa didn't want to talk about that. Not now.

She could definitely recall everything about last night, in vivid detail. Mikasa even burned every one of his comrades' names into her memory like she was a walking epitaph. How could she throw them back in his face so easily right after? Maybe it was time to really think about her words and actions before acting on them. She was getting a little volatile herself.

Maybe this was something they could work on together.

"Mikasa," Levi whispered, giving into her warmth and closing his fingers around hers, "Tell me."

While she divulged everything that happened that night, from the argument over how she should address him, to their physical fight, and even the mention of their kiss, Levi only listened. It was like he was the perfect student, waiting until after she was done to give input. The only thing Mikasa was finding solace in was the fact that she could alleviate his worries about what happened between them. The light was back in his eyes, and that was enough for now.

There were some parts that made his grip on her hand a little tighter, like when she told him about what brought them both to tears. When she mentioned him taking her to bed and her having to stop things while he wasn't fully conscious, his hand left hers to grip her wrist instead.

Mikasa couldn't stop herself even after she finished telling him everything. "Eren's blood seems to be interfering with your system and is doing things to your mind. I know you weren't yourself back there, but I… I used your personal information against you. You named every single person that died under your command and I threw them back in your face. If someone did the same to me, they wouldn't even be alive for an apology… What I'm trying to say is…"

Somewhere along the line, Mikasa couldn't even look at Levi out of guilt. Guilt from her actions, guilt from her words. Her shoulders tensed and her hands closed up so hard that they went white. But, she didn't even notice these things until she felt a finger lift her chin and another hand pry her fingers loose. Mikasa stared into eyes shining right through her core.

His voice awfully low, the corporal whispered, "I get it. Thank you."

She was going to reply if not for Levi's hands bringing her head down into his shoulder. She didn't even notice how chilly she felt until she was wrapped in the folds of Levi's hood. He smelled of sweat and pine and overall musk, but it wasn't unpleasant. Mikasa closed her eyes and rested into him a little deeper, too tired to be shocked this was happening.

Levi's voice came out slightly muffled beside her, "If I ever go too far, feel free to punch me in the face."

Without missing a beat, Mikasa replied, "Yes, Corporal. That's been the plan."

A small chuckle reverberated in the corporal's chest, encasing her. Her eyes widened slightly at the sound. What was this feeling? An image of butterflies came to her mind. Tiny, terrifying butterflies.

They finally had some closure in this never-ending storm. Yes, Annie was still out there. Yes, Levi's body was probably compromised. Yes, she probably had to let Commander Erwin about the side effects. But this was a win, and they were running with it. The smallest smile made its way onto her face as her eyes slipped shut in content.

"Is that any way to treat your superior? I could report you, you know."

It was strange to feel vibrations on her skin whenever Levi spoke. That small buzz mixed with the pure warmth of another human being had Mikasa rooted on the spot. Levi was aware she was ignoring his empty threat, but he didn't make a move to let her go.

"I didn't know I told you all of their names," he said, solemnly.

Mikasa nodded into the gap between his neck and shoulder. Just as melancholic, she whispered, "I didn't realize you had so many to tell."

"Shit," the corporal huffed before extricating her from his warmth. Holding her out at arm's length, he stared hard into her eyes. It looked like he was punched in the gut but was still trying very hard to hide the pain. "I really am sorry. For all of that."

The ease of his apology was so sincere. Mikasa could only nod in response.

"That couldn't have been easy for you. If you hate me, I wouldn't blame you."

A shake of her head preceded her answer, "I wouldn't have stayed the night if I hated you." Mikasa cast her eyes to the ground and used the scarf to cover her face. "And besides… I didn't… not like it… or something."

What the hell did she just admit?

Levi's eyebrows shot up before the ghost of a smirk graced his features. "Watch it, Ackerman. You're on my squad."

Mikasa turned away with a snap, trying to hide the hurt on her features. But mostly, she was actively avoiding that look on his face. "I meant the fight. Obviously." She was vowing to not blush in this man's presence, especially if it would feed his towering ego.

"You need to always put the mission first. Can't have you thinking about other things," Levi taunted, his brow deepening and accentuating those damning lips.

Feeling betrayed, she took a few steps back to give some distance. She seethed, "I won't abandon the mission. I want Annie gone and we're going to find her."

Levi was looking to close the gap between them, a gleam in his eye. "Even if something happens to me? To Eren?"

Another step backward. "I won't let anything happen to you both, either. But…"

"But what," the corporal urged.

"I won't fail, that's all," Mikasa vowed. The titan dummies in the clearing got further and further away as she stepped into the surrounding forest. Her body slipped into the shadows. "I can't afford another mistake."

"And what about the worst-case scenario?"

"We just won't let it get to that point."

She got two more backward strides in before Levi reached out to grab her arm. It wasn't a rough grip, but she made no move to wrestle out of it.

Levi tilted his head and narrowed his eyes. "Your friend is wanted dead, your enemy is nowhere to be found, and your corporal has titan blood up his ass. If we've already gotten to this point, what makes you think we won't get into any deeper shit?"

Mikasa paused before her eyes turned to slits, a small fire blazing behind them. "I can do this, and you know it. I'll be there to protect Eren. I'll be there to kill Annie. And I'll even be there to save you."

"Eren comes first," the corporal reminded, although the look on his face was grim and conflicting.

She couldn't deny that, though. It was a part of her being, even if Eren unknowingly tore apart her feelings. She didn't know how to explain it. Still, Mikasa was starting to save some space in her heart for her captain. Life didn't have to be so black and white anymore. "That doesn't mean I'll choose to leave you behind," she murmured, leading them into what seemed like a verbal jousting. Every time he swung, she parried.

"Even if it's an order?"


"Even to save Eren?"

"I won't leave you."

"Even if you have to kill me?"

"I've been wanting to do that for a long time anyways. I won't hesitate."

"And you'll risk your life? For everyone else?"

"I won't be another name on your list."

"You're naive, you know that? Should I really keep you on my team?"

"I don't care," Mikasa bit out. She stood her ground, noticing how much harder her arm was being held. The pain was nothing compared to how much pressure she felt pulsing in her core. But even so, she would shoulder everything. Her connection to Eren was too strong to ignore, and her guilt surrounding Levi left her conscience bleeding. "I don't care what you think of me. Just know I'm being selfish for my own reasons, not for anyone else. If you want me off your squad, so be it."

The tension in the air seemed to reach its peak, a crackling silence simmering around them. Levi searched Mikasa's expression, trying to find any hint of hesitation in her eyes. Well, he sure as hell wasn't going to find any. This was a decision she was absolutely positive about. If he decided to kick her off his squad for this, she didn't care. If he thought any less of her, she wouldn't be bothered. This was his decision now, and she would just have to deal with it ending if he was done.

But all Levi did was pull her right down to his face, his heavy gaze traveling to her lips. "So damn stubborn," he uttered, "Have it your way then."

Mikasa felt a jolt as Levi's mouth lifted up to capture hers. Her hands seized his collar in a rush, and she responded to his kiss in kind.

This one felt immensely different from all the other moments they shared. Whereas the others were either quick, forced, or a result of invasive titan blood, this one was mutually agreed upon. Need fueled her motions as she tilted her head, and her eyes slipped shut for the second time. Levi's lips were as rough as she remembered, but they were warm and inviting. When his hand gripped the back of her neck, Mikasa let out a soft moan and leaned further down to deepen the kiss. And when his tongue goaded her to part her lips, she was shocked into submission. But always the fast learner, Mikasa quickly mirrored his swirls and soft thrusts with her own tongue. A deep growl let her know she was doing something right, and she reached up to cradle a side of Levi's face in her palm.

With one more hard kiss to her lips, the corporal pulled away first. "Shit... I can't," he huffed out, noticeably short on breath.

She tried to hide her stung expression, but she was pretty sure the blush was enough to mask it. "I know," she conceded, already expecting this part of the conversation, "I'm on your squad. This shouldn't be happening."

"Don't get all gloomy on me," Levi shot back before pulling her back down for a quick peck. "I think we're a little past the point of caring about that right now. I was just giving you shit earlier."

She gave him the glare he earned, and as usual, he ignored it. "But ever since I saw you having that nightmare, about me… I just don't want to put you in a situation you don't want to be in. And this titan blood is heightening everything I feel, including my urges… So you can imagine what I'm feeling right now."

Mikasa could only stare in shock. From what she had known and seen from this man, being considerate was the last thing she expected. She didn't even think "gentleman" would ever be used to describe him. And yet here he was, fighting everything back for her. At least, that's what Mikasa was getting from his words. A gust of wind danced through the trees, prompting her to tighten her cloak.

Arms surrounded her as Levi pulled her back in. "No matter what happens to me," he spoke near her ear, his gravelly tone making her knees a little too weak for her taste. "I won't do anything you won't let me do."

"I know," Mikasa whispered.

A moment of silence passed before Levi spoke again. But this time, it was in the form of a question, "Do they happen every night."

Mikasa gripped his sleeves. She knew exactly what he meant by that. "Most," she admitted, keeping her voice as neutral as possible.

Levi fell into silence again, but Mikasa felt his arms close around her a little tighter. "Bastards," he whispered.

That hit hard. Her heart swelled so much it started to physically hurt. He didn't offer to help, he didn't give an empty apology, he didn't try to pry. All Levi did was understand, and that was more than enough.

Mikasa reached around and hugged him in earnest, a fierce burning in her chest. Her eyes stung with oncoming tears as her fingers dug into the wings on his back, bringing life into the insignia.

There were many things suspended around them, threatening to hit the ground and shatter the ground below. Where do they go from here? Was she to report him to Commander Erwin? Did she keep it to herself? Terrible things could happen in either of those situations, so which one was the lesser evil? One wrong step and they could walk into the worst possible outcome. It was like they were surrounded by an intricate web of danger, and Death was the spider lying in wait.

Her body was slowly pushed away at arm's length, and her eyes were quick to search Levi's for an explanation.

"I think we're being summoned," the corporal observed, tilting his head and looking right past her.

Mikasa turned just in time to see someone skidding into the clearing. "Eren," she breathed, hoping he didn't see the red around her eyes. It didn't matter, though; all she could see his distress as it radiated from his features. "What's wrong?"

"It took forever to find you guys," the boy wheezed out, "Why are you all the way out here?"

"Don't worry about that. Now spit it out already," Levi complained from behind her. Mikasa agreed with him for a change.

"It's Commander Erwin," Eren explained, gravely, "We're leaving now. Wall Rose has been breached."

Mikasa's eyebrows shot up. She reached for detail, "Wall Rose? What about Annie?"

Eren was already turning back around when he yelled, "All I know was that I was sent to get you. Corporal Levi, too. Hurry up!"

Levi was the first to move, surging forward.

Mikasa didn't miss the words he spoke to her before he made his way through the trees. A shiver ran up her spine as she broke into her own strides. Her hand came up to her lips, the feel of Levi's still lingering. With a quick huff, she clenched her fist and propelled herself forward.

"Whatever you decide to tell Erwin, just be smart about it."

He knew. Levi knew it was up to her whether or not to turn him in. And he was trusting Mikasa to make this decision herself.

She had until they reached Headquarters to make her choice.

To be continued...

Note: I will be editing the previous chapters to clean up author's notes and some mistakes I left behind. Nothing major will be changed except for some of the more cliche moments, but if you guys feel like rereading it, you can. I definitely had to reread this story to get back into the swing of things, and it took me about a week to make sure this chapter was done to the best of my ability.

Note 2: I have a Google Doc called "TCW Plot 10-15," so I should have plenty of things to write again. I know I said this was going to veer off from the manga, but the story of Attack on Titan is so complex and bleak that I would have had to make my own world. As soon as I decided to incorporate some of the manga interactions into the later chapters, everything was falling into place and I could write again. Also, Season 3 gave us a lot of Levi/Mikasa action, so you could say I was a bit inspired.

Note 3: As before, if you'd like a preview of the next chapter, let me know in your review! I don't have a cookie this time, but I'm already working on Chapter 11 so you guys can have a snippet instead!

Note 4: Again, I can't thank you guys enough. Thank you for everything.