`I do not own Shingeki no Kyojin
A/N: The amount of disappointment from the reviewers have spurred me to rewriting the ending to this story. Meh, when I get into the swing of it I'll revise this.
I have removed the last two chapters but rewrote this one.
"Sleep like this? I'd rather wake up in less pain," he muttered as he stumbled on his side onto the bed. He rested his head on his arm and sprawled himself across the sheets once he had rolled to his back.
Eren closed the door behind him, then walked to the other bed that was a foot away from where Levi laid.
Levi eyed him. He forgot why he drank, he just knew he had the feeling to do so. His focus was blurred, his coordination and placement in the world were obscured; despite these, he felt bliss at letting go of himself for just a little while. In his youth, drinking was one thing Gisbert taught him, it was the one thing that was Gisbert's vice.
"Pierre," he began dryly. Wait, how did he go from one man to another? He shrugged it off. "...Pierre used to get piss drunk yet he was always the one who carried me."
"He sounds like a faithful person," Eren's voice said, he could have been chuckling softly.
"He was. Lost him...before Wall Maria went down. Actually, he was paralyzed, I had to leave him. You know- ugh-" He propped himself up on his elbows to face him properly. "-he always valued being alive, being free. Don't get me wrong, he was a soldier but...I never seen anyone so eager to see the outside of the Walls."
Eren got up and headed for the washroom. "Like Hanji?"
Levi snorted. "Not in that sense. The fact of being outside of the Walls was something he loved, that and the Gear- oh, you should have seen him fly with it. Like he was fucking born to use it, never seen anyone use it well as him."
"Let me guess, you learned things from him."
"A few tricks, yeah. When this is over...remind me to take you to the forest with Petra and the others, we'll train there."
He heard Eren running the water from the washroom.
"...they hadn't been found, sir."
"They'll be found," Levi said, he felt so sure of himself despite the reality of them being gone. A week and a few days? He'd be lucky to find their corpses one day. Eren was the last to see them, surely it'd be harder on the boy. "They're strong people."
It was quiet for a moment but the sound of running water and water being splashed about caught his attention even more. He decided to get up. His boots, still being worn, thudded heavily upon the floor as he drunkenly walked to him. He grabbed the door frame and watched Eren in the mirror. The boy's eyes were closed as he washed his face.
When he opened them, he saw Levi's reflection and yelped.
Levi nearly cracked a smile. Nearly.
"You're quite jumpy," he commented.
"You sneaked up on me!" Eren shot at him as he took a cloth to wipe his face. "Go back to the bed, you might hurt yourself of something."
Levi merely shrugged. "I'm fine."
"The last time you said that, you nearly died."
The look on Eren's face struck him, oddly enough. He huffed and staggered back to the bed, musing,"Hm, I did place my trust in you earlier."
He flung himself to the mattress.
"There wasn't enough to send you for a doctor apparently," he said as he threw the towel into a hamper. He seated himself in the bed opposite of Levi as the man rested his head against the pillows. "And...sir, I- your squad, we were all caught in that storm, then we were attacked."
That smile that barely appeared faded away. The boy was feeling guilty. Levi wasn't a man that comforted others well, he absently stared at the ceiling. "Forget about that night for now, Eren. Just don't think...about it-" His mind grew foggy. Sleep was taking course and, for some reason, he felt too weak to fight it away. He yawned. "-not right now."
His voice sounded distant.
He was saying something, but it was drowned away in a murmur.
"Levi, you're awake-"
He found himself on the bed, stark naked. His chest was heaving.
It was like coming into a clearing from a thicket in the woods. He shook his head and groaned, then he tried to sit up; a hand gently pushed him back against the sheets. Upon touching his bare chest, it finally registered that he was without clothes. A sharp, dull pain resonated from his pelvic region, most particularly his ass.
"You're so low," he spat bitterly.
He understood what was going on; he had to keep calm or else the bastard would derive a sick pleasure from his screams.
"So very low," he added.
Eren sat in front of him. That son of a bitch was fully erect, though a twisted, lazy smirk was plastered upon that usually aggressive face. Oh how much Levi wanted to smack him...
"Back home, they said I was the highest of them all in the dirt we shuffled through," Eren said rather pompously as one hand traced down Levi's abdomen; those fingers ghosted over the skin, tickling him and mocking him simultaneously. "But even the best can fall. Had you ever wondered why I pursue you?"
Levi glared at him. Wait, why was he not suffering a hangover?
'...it's a dream. Just a dream.'
He was interrogating this creature in his own mind, he figured that it was his desire as of late though he hadn't had the chance to ask Eren such a question. After all, how could he? He would be ravaged and then be left with the freak passing out after he had his fun.
Eren loomed over him, smiling, then he dipped low to whisper,"You are humanity's strongest, a hope to them, or you were once- now that you easily fall to your knees before me, humanity will do the same for me one day-" A ripping pain muffled the rest of his words; it felt all too real. "Those tavern songs for the kid are proof enough, yes?"
"Sir! SIR! LEVI!"
Eyes flew open and he threw himself up.
He whirled about before toppling out of his bed.
His head throbbed, it was a feeling he hadn't dealt with since- oh, forget it. His hangover was getting a hold of him too easily, it grew tenfold when he landed upon the ground with a heavy thud. He groaned painfully as he heard Eren throw off his own covers and rush out of his own bed. He was hoisted up by the boy's hand and aided up back to the edge of the mattress.
Eren shoved a flask to Levi's hand and told him,"Drink it, I thought you'd need it."
Without questioning him, Levi drank from it. He tasted the bitterness of it, he figured it was medicine; silently, he thanked Eren with a nod.
"You woke me up, screaming," he said, his hand checked his forehead. "Sir, you're sweating."
"Just a dream," Levi huffed, he corked the flask and tossed it to the bed. He rubbed his eyes. "Ugh..."
He blinked several times to see Eren sitting in front of him upon his knees, face showing worry. It was comforting to see this, it wasn't like his dream. He sighed, then waited for the pain to ebb away. He stooped low, then wrapped his arms about Eren's shoulder; he brought him close to him in an embrace. He immediately inhaled that musky scent of horses and leather, it was something he just noticed and, by now, had begun to appreciate.
They stayed like this, he even leaned against him.
"Sir," Eren finally spoke after what seemed to be an hour.
By then, his mind was bearable.
He sat up straight with a sigh.
"...ready the horses," he ordered,"we leave now."
He stood outside the inn, waiting. He had taken a quick bath and dressed himself accordingly, though he bought an extra blanket from the innkeeper just in case; he had it wrapped about his person. After all, he had stepped out to find the land covered in a blanket of snow. Winter had finally come with its snowfall. The icy air would have made a normal man hole up in the nearest building.
As such, Levi was the only one who stood out that morning.
His breath drew mist into the air, his foot shuffled against the whiteness that gathered at the steps.
"Must have done this over night," he uttered, eyes slowly looked up towards the sky to see it gray.
The familiar cry of Noir caught his ears. He saw him just around the corner with Eren leading Blanche by his side. He approached the three of them and took Noir's reins while asking,"What of Ymir?"
"...not here," he said in a low tone.
His blood ran cold. The only person with the strength - as humiliating as he would like to admit - to counter Eren's Titan had decided to up and go, most probably back to headquarters to fetch that blond girl. There would be no use to chase after her, not with the threat at their backs- he grew conscious that they would be pursued at some point.
"Then we make haste for the Stohess, keep by me at all times," Levi instructed, he glared down the empty street beyond Eren,"no use in trying to find her, the snow may have covered her tracks."
"Last time I saw her, it was last night before you retired," Eren recalled as they mounted their horses. They walked down the opposite way towards the Stohess, it would be another day before they arrive there.
The Wall of Sina towered over them but, in the midst of snow, it was impossible to see the top. Eren hunched his back slightly in a ball while tucking his head further into the furs of his hood. Shivering, he set down the reins against the horn of his saddle and rubbed his hands together.
"Don't drop the reins," Levi warned him, eyes drifting over to the boy for just a moment.
"It's cold, sir."
Their horses were weary from running in the cold earlier, but the sight of the Gate of Wall Sina, one that was the entrance to the Stohess, was a relieving thing to them all. Noir snorted happily as he chewed at his bit, Levi have him a pat at the crest and then clucked his tongue. The townspeople drew away at the sight of their horses trotting.
In an easy pace, Levi navigated them through the streets in haste, their need for warmth and confirmation of Hanji's well-being driving them further.
"Do you think she's alright?" Eren asked.
"She ought to be," Levi told him,"else the newspapers would be running about stating a woman's gone missing there."
It had been years since he had visited this part of the city. Perhaps it was a decade ago, he was relying on memory to arrive at the hospital at which Hanji visited every year. The only time he had come, though he hadn't seen the old woman himself, was when he escorted Hanji; that was only once. Other times, she would go on her own.
Tucked away to the West parallel to the river of barges was a lone building surrounded by a fairly large field of grass. It stood at three stories and could have been mistaken for some noble's home; wrong, it was a facility for the soldiers, a facility where they would heal. The best of the medical hands in all of humanity practiced here, obviously soldiers were the perfect subjects.
Mental. Physical. Any abnormal ailments were sought after to research.
Hanji's mother wasn't special per say, but her involvement in her line of work permitted her the proper care here so long as the price was paid for.
Down the long, paved road to the building they cantered easily. Upon reaching the end, they were met by a guardsman that bore the arms of the MP.
"Official business from the Scouting Legion, we're here to send a message to Major Hanji Zoe," Levi said quickly while dismounting. Eren dismounted as well a a stable boy came to gather their horses. The guardsman stared at him, then at Eren. "The kid's with me."
The guardsman gave a nod before going into the building. He was gone for a while before he returned to them with the person they sought after. She wore a simple blouse and skirt, a civilian outfit, with her hair down- it was strange to see her so feminine but they relaxed at the sight of her. She was confused as she warped her blanket tighter to her body.
"Levi? Eren?" She asked, breath slightly shaking as she shivered. She glanced at the guard. "They can come in."
He nodded as she gestured for them to enter.
They followed her into a lobby where rows of chairs for the waiting families of patients sat in. She lead them to a flight of stairs as Levi explained,"We received word that you were held hostage."
She stopped at turned. "A poor prank that one is. Who sent it?"
"We don't know, but since you're here and well it doesn't make any more sense," Levi said between gritted teeth.
"Then you wasted your time. I've been here with my mother these past few days, nothing threatening here at all," she said, she then strode to a window at one flight to gaze out of it. The two stopped by her though Levi leaned against the window. "Nothing strange happened so far."
Eren spoke up,"What of you?"
"Other than my arm being out of cast and my ribs still a bit broken, everything else is fine," she said, then she turned to him,"did you bring Eren here alone?"
"We were with Ymir, she fled the other night," Eren said, she frowned and then bit her lip.
"She knows something, that girl...she could have given us a slight direction in all of this."
"Well, she's gone," Levi scoffed,"and we went this far to see you alive."
Hanji stared hard at him before walking up the stairs, her hand gesturing them to follow. "You need to rest then. I can arrange for you two stay one night, then I need you to send a word back to Erwin when you see him again."
"A word?" Levi asked.
"Alright, two: I accept," she answered him.
Levi gave a quizzical look with a raised brow. "Oh? I'll let him know of it when I get back."
She led them to the last floor into a hallway. The two spoke quietly with Eren, as usual, respectively stood by Levi's side, quiet.
"I never seen your mother," Levi noted.
"She's...different," she tried to put it, though she was hesitant to actually say anything to him. They stopped before a door where they heard the sound of a woman humming to herself, it was quite loud enough to be heard from where they stood. Slowly, Hanji opened the door; the humming ceased. "Mother, I've brought friends."
The door creaked as she pushed it further out, they found her mother sitting upon a rocking chair by the fire; she was curled up in a fetal position though she was using her weight to rock herself back and forth. The woman, though hunched over, had her hands full with yarn. She wasn't making anything in particular but she was fiddling the thread with her fingers.
She stared at them with open, glassy eyes. Her complexion was pale with wrinkles lining her eyes and mouth, dark circles below her eyes told them she slept very few hours; her teeth were yellow as she attempted to smile for a moment but it faded away. She drew her attention back to the mess of yarn.
"When I was little, she used to knit when she had the time; I've been trying to get her to do it but it's like she forgotten how to," she sighed.
"She's gone mad?" Eren questioned, Levi elbowed him at the hip. "Ah!"
"Hey, that was an innocent question," she reprimanded the Corporal. "But...madness and forgetfulness are quite different. She's grown quiet the passed few years, I'd say that's improvement. Another two years before she can be deemed able to release- though I wouldn't know where to house her. I may as well let her stay here for the rest of her life since I plan to keep up my- no, our research."
"I see why you'd value those books she wrote."
"Yes, getting information out of her is impossible..."
As they idly chatted, Levi was drawn to approach her. She eyed him cautiously until he grew close enough to be within an arm's reach. She continued to fiddle with the yarn. She didn't speak, instead, she hummed.
Out of nowhere, Hanji spoke up a bit,"You two must be frozen from the cold."
Levi turned his eye to her as Eren gave her his cloak, the older man did the same and she began to walk out of the room with the bundles of furs. She beckoned them to follow and they entered a room right next to her mother's. Upon entering, it was found that her room was muddled with numerous books and papers, many of which were questionable in quantity as Levi had seen her leave their headquarters with a single pack-horse.
"What's all this?" He asked as she hung their furs on a line by the fire.
"Whatever mother had left from our old home, it's just books and notes on nothing in particular- all of the important ones were lost when the lab caught on fire," she said as he picked up a book. It was an aged political book on someone's views from perhaps three decades ago, he carelessly placed it back to a table as she set a pot to boil. "You said you came with only Ymir, where's your squad?"
"Missing," Levi curtly said as he sat at a table by the window, Eren took to standing as there were only two chairs.
At hearing this, she nearly dropped a mug.
"All of them?!"
"I saw," Eren answered for him.
"Have they been gone along?"
"It's been a week since we were ambushed."
She bit her lip and set the mugs on the table.
"You need to tell me, Eren," she said, she gestured at the bed that was parallel to the window,"sit there."
They spent the rest of the time telling her what had happened, though it was mostly Eren that spoke. Levi couldn't understand it himself, he couldn't understand how his focus was drawing out of their conversation- at times he would offer input but for the most part he remained silent.
"What're you to do now?" She asked of Levi.
He drew his eyes back to her, he hadn't noticed that she served him the freshly brewed tea. "Hm? Return home without you, we only came to check on you after all-"
"Actually, I'll come back."
"I was hoping you'd say that but time's pressing us, we'll leave tomorrow."
"Give me a week then, I'll have to repack."
"What did you pack?"
"The usual?" Eren asked.
Levi let out a forced sigh. "It's not of your concern."