Author's Note:

I really need to calm the fuck down with this Attack on Titan obsession, but I keep wandering into the LeviHan tag on Tumblr.

This is partially inspired by a LeviHan headcanon on Tumblr about Hanji being a six-year-old and needing milk and light to sleep properly, plus all the super cute pictures that are ruining my life.

a Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan (© Isayama Hajime) fanfiction

"oh my darlin', don't you cry"

He watches them die, over and over again. Slowly and sometimes too quickly, one by one, by the dozen — his soldiers fall to the Titans. On every excursion, every invasion, every defense, he loses hundreds of men. Even the most guarded and experienced soldier cries when he stares into the expressionless face of the Titan — he cries for his daughter, his mother and father, his friends, humanity, life. And most of the time all Levi can do is listen, because if he gets distracted he'll go down too.

Petra, Erd, Auruo, Gunter — they're all gone now. Just four among the millions of fallen. Just four among the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that have died trying to protect humanity. But he's seen them die before: in every squad that ventures outside the walls, in every commander that sends their men off to die, in every dying soldier whose hand he holds. Everyone falls around him, constantly and every day, but he keeps on going.

He's humanity's strongest soldier, more valuable than a hundred men. But he's seen those hundred men die, and sometimes he has to wonder if his life really is worth more than theirs.

Levi's nightmares are more like memories. The blood, the screams, the pleas and tears — they're all real. One soldier's death blends in with the other, until he's standing alone in a bloodied field of corpses. Usually the nightmares are of recent losses, like the Special Operation Squad, but sometimes the Titans devour and maim the ones who are still alive. Some might think of it as an omen (after all, most soldiers have an ninety percent change of survival), but they're just dreams. Levi has to think so, otherwise the nightmares will consume him.

When it's especially hard to go back to sleep (and when he's sick of waking up in cold sweat), Levi finds some room in HQ to scrub down. It's not too hard, since the place is usually a pig sty and everyone refuses to clean up after themselves. By the end of it, he's exhausted and is falls into a dreamless sleep, which is the best kind of sleep a soldier can have.

Tonight's nightmares are especially brutal (he tries to save Petra over and over again, but before he can her blood is in his eyes and on his hands), so he gives up on sleep and grabs his cleaning supplies to tackle the kitchen. Last night's dinner consisted of stew and mashed potatoes, so there's plenty of mess and grime to keep himself preoccupied at least for the next couple of hours.

Gloves up to his elbows, mop over his shoulder, and bucket of supplies in hand, Levi heads towards the kitchen.

"Ohhh, this is interesting!"

It's three o'clock in the morning, which means that everyone should be asleep. Everyone, that is, except for Hanji Zoe.

"Typical," he thinks as he stands outside her door, which has light peaking out from the bottom. "And no regard for everyone else sleeping." Levi contemplates just moving on and ignoring her — something he's gotten remarkably good at since their early days together — but he can hear her squealing and mumbling and cheering to herself. "I'll just politely tell her to shut the hell up," he rationalizes as he grabs the door knob. "For the sake of the others."

He opens the door and there's Hanji, lying upside down on the bed with her legs up against the wall, a two-thousand page encyclopedia angled against her thighs, and her hair splayed out everywhere. Subconsciously, he notices how her loose pajama shorts have lowered and crinkled to reveal the skin of her thighs.

Levi clears his throat. "Hanji."

Hanji yelps, then leans her head back to see who the invader is. "Oh, Corporal! You're up late! Or maybe it's early..." Laughing, she shuts the encyclopedia and puts it off to the side so that she can swing her legs over her head and get into an upright position.

Levi directs his eyes elsewhere — the little Titan figures on Hanji's desk — and mutters, "Can't you just sit up like a normal person?"

Oblivious to his discomfort and embarrassment (as usual), Hanji casually smooths out the rolls in her tank top and shorts. "Were you gonna start cleaning the kitchen? It's getting pretty gross in there. I guess no one taught Eren to put a lid on a pot while cooking..."

"I should be having that little shit mopping up his mess," Levi remarks. When he finally turns his gaze back to her, he finds her watching him with wide eyes and a stretched grin. "Why aren't you asleep?" he asks, for once desperate to fill in the silence between them. "Drills start in a couple of hours, you know." Hanji shrugs as she reaches to the night stand to grab her glass of milk. "What a kid," he thinks, and fights back the urge to smile.

"Nightmares," she answers honestly, openly. Hanji's never been one to hide or cover up things, even the things that most people are embarrassed to admit to others. Maybe that's how she keeps smiling despite it all. "I tried to put myself to sleep by reading about the reproductive organs of other organisms, but then I started reading about sea creatures that reproduce asexually, and then I started thinking about Titans—"

"Of course," he comments, deadpan.

"— and I got so excited, I couldn't go back to sleep at all!" she concludes. Hanji's eyes linger on his gloves and mop, realization flashing behind her glasses. It's hard to tell behind all the craziness, but Hanji is very perceptive. She sees the little details that no one else does, recognizes fears and embarrassments that people do everything to hide. "What about you, Corporal?" she asks, grin softening. "Can't sleep?"

Levi is past the point of lying to Hanji. She knows, all too well, how hard it is to get through the nightmares and dreams. "Yeah."

Excitedly, she past the empty spot on the bed beside her. "We can read and learn together, then!"

"Tch. I don't give a damn about Titans' reproductive organs."

"Lack of reproductive organs," she corrects. She continues to pat the spot, until there's a noticeable crease in the comforter. "C'mon, I'll even let you have some of my bedtime milk! Who knows, you might even get a growth spurt if you start drinking some."

"Keep your milk, four eyes," he snaps as he puts down the cleaning supplies and carefully climbs onto her bed. As soon as he's comfortably positioned, leaning back on his hands and his feet dangling off the other side of the bed, Hanji spins around and retakes her original position — with her feet up on the wall and her head in his lap. "Hey—!"

"My dad used to give me a glass of milk to drink every night before I went to bed," she says. Though Hanji is facing him, her eyes are focused on the ceiling; still, he can see the nostalgia and regret. They never talk about their pasts like this. They can't allow themselves to be driven by their pasts, otherwise they get reckless and too passionate, like that damn Yeager kid. This is the first time he's heard about Hanji's childhood. "I used to come home crying because I was a lot smaller than the other kids, and he told me for every glass of milk I drank, I'd grow one inch."

Levi snorts. "And did you realize after a month that you weren't five meters tall?"

"I noticed after the first week," she laughs. He should tell her to quiet down, that the others will wake up if she's too loud, but the sound is bright and lovely and he wants to hear it again. "He told me it was different for me because I was smaller, so I had to drink more than other people to get the same results. Maybe your parents should've told you the same thing, hm?" she teases.

The smile on his face is bitter. "I never listened to my parents, anyway." They're long dead, so far out of his memory that he hasn't dreamed of them in years. He can't have nightmares of faces he can't even remember.

"Hey," she says softly, drawing him out of his thoughts, "what are your nightmares about?"

Levi hesitates. He sees Hanji die, too, sometimes. Sometimes she's killed like Petra, trying to protect someone, and sometimes she's eaten by one of the captured Titans. Those images flash before him as he looks down into her face, for once serious and devoid of its usual grin. "Death," he says simply, unwilling to elaborate.

The smile returns, though it doesn't quite reach her eyes. "Yeah, mine too." He doesn't prod any further, because she's lost soldiers and allies and friends as well. "Hmm, I know you said you don't care about reproductive organs, but wouldn't it be great if we discovered something new?" She pulls the encyclopedia back into her lap, flipping open to a page covered in pictures and diagrams. "You can be my research assistant, Corporal! If we really do make some connections, you can put your name next to mine!"

Levi grunts, even though he doesn't mind. "Whatever." His gaze moves down the smooth curves of her legs, over the steady rise and fall of her chest, lingers on the bright expression on her face, and falls on the tangled hair in his lap. Carefully, his fingers play with the ends of her hair.

"You sound bored, but I can tell you're excited," Hanji says, beaming at him. "This is way better than sleep, anyway."

As she reads and makes hypotheses out loud, his hands get bolder and his fingers comb through her hair. Hanji focuses entirely on the article, so she can't see the upward tilt of his lips or the softness of his gaze. And when the encyclopedia falls against her chest and she curls up against him to just "close her eyes for a couple of seconds," he removes her glasses and places them on the nightstand next to her glass of milk, then blows out the candle.