Mikasa Ackerman. Elite soldier. Top of her class. Unstoppable titan-slayer.
Pain in his ass.
Captain Levi Rivaille read and then re-read the report in front of him—an accounting of a recent scouting expedition. Once again Mikasa had defied orders, risking herself to ensure the safety of Eren Jaegar.
Why Jaegar was being sent out of the walls again so soon after the female titan fiasco Levi would address with Erwin and Hanji. In the meantime, it was up to him to maintain order and discipline. Normally, this was a simple glare and glower—bark the order—and it was done.
Ackerman, however, he knew his words would fall on mostly deaf and uncaring ears.
If it didn't directly involve Jaegar, she had no time for it and little interest.
With a sigh he shoves his chair back and stands. She watches him move around the desk with a look that could only be described as 'openly hostile'. It shouldn't make his mouth twitch up like it does, but he has never been the type to be amused by passivity.
"I am assuming you know why you're here," he says once he is directly in front of her.
"For reprimand," she replies, bored and impatient.
"It would seem that you're unable to follow the simplest of commands when in the field."
"Reconnaissance was completed with no loss of life. Four titans slain." She returns, eyes snapping defiantly.
She really is rather pretty, he thinks, before brushing the thought away.
"The outcome doesn't negate your defiance, Ackerman. You risk more than yourself when you act so foolhardy. You are a member of a team—a unit. You need to respect that, or else lives will be lost. I have seen you in action myself," he reminds her, his gaze flickering down to his still healing leg. "I am not impressed."
"I wasn't trying to impress you."
She has spirit, he thinks, part in admiration and partly annoyance. He circles her, eying her like a predator. She is unconcerned, and he knows why. The Scouting Legion is in desperate shape—many of its top soldiers are wounded and out of commission. She will not be taken off of duty. She's too valuable. She's not expendable.
But he knows her weakness and he's not above exploiting it. He wonders, just before he opens his mouth, just how far she will go to protect him? What would it take to shake that implacable calm she has? To make her humble, for just one moment? "You are too valuable to bench," he comments and she remains quiet. She knows this.
"Having said that, I can't have you continuously risk missions and your teammates. I will turn Eren over to the Military Police in the morning. He can remain in their custody."
She opens her mouth immediately in protest, her expression bordering on panic before he cuts in—for his own personal amusement and petty kicks: "Unless you sleep with me."
He expects her protest to become vehement denial. In truth, he half expects a kick to the head. What he doesn't expect is the stony silence that follows. He pauses, just behind her, for the span of a dozen heartbeats and still she says nothing.
Frowning, he continues his circle until he is directly in front of her once more—his eye widening when he realizes that she's tugged her white shirt from her belt and has half the buttons undone. She is flicking open another when he reaches out, fingers curling over hers in a hard grip. "For fuck's sake, Ackerman, stop."
She does. Her fingers still beneath his and she stares straight ahead, with flat eyes and her mouth compressed into a somber line. "Not here, then?" she questions and her voice is devoid of emotion.
"What?" he shakes his head, releasing her and stepping away. He wipes his hands on his trousers and stares at her, hard. She doesn't so much as blink. "No, not here. Not fucking anywhere," he snaps. He takes a breath, one hand carding through his hair. She remains quiet, impassive. Submissive.
It is so wrong that it makes him feel suddenly sick to his stomach and he regrets the petty urge to humiliate her. He looks at her and sees a hollow, empty, shell where a moment ago there had been life and fire. She says nothing. Looks only straight ahead. He wonders if she even sees himanymore.
"How many times?" he demands, sudden, horrible, realization dawning.
She says nothing still, simply continues to stare.
"How many times have you done this?" he asks again, elaborating so she can't possibly feign confusion. "How many times have you sold yourself for his safety?"
If he is expecting denial or shame, he is disappointed. "As many times as needed." Her voice is cold, indifferent, but he sees the tremor of her chin and he hates himself for his sick jest.
After the fall of Wall Maria food, shelter, and safety were sold like drugs to the refugees. Many had nothing to barter with and ended up beaten, and robbed, deprived of anything they had left. The fact that Mikasa, Eren, and Armin had managed to scrounge through it as children without an adult to guide them or keep them safe had always seemed a fortuitous turn of events. Now Levi knew differently.
The sick ball in his stomach tightened into smoldering anger.
"Does he know?"
Only now do her eyes flicker with emotion and she shakes her head: no. "He doesn't need to," she says and he hears the plea in it. Don't tell him.
Fuck. Shit. Shitfuckdamn. "And Armin?"
"He suspected," she acknowledges.
Of course he did. Arlert was brilliant and a keen observer. He would have figured it out.
Levi takes a breath and a step back. "Button your shirt," he commands, noticing the toned lines of her abdomen between parted white cotton.
"I'll do whatever it is you'd like," she says instead. "Anything. Just don't take Eren from me. Please."
His skin crawls at the desperation. She would do it, he knows. Anything he asked of her. It's sickeningly tempting and he knows far too many people that would take advantage of an offer like this. "For fuck's sake, Ackerman, I'm not turning your idiot boyfriend over to the Military Police."
"But you said—"
"I know what I fucking said. Just…go. Leave."
Confusions crosses her features as she tucks in her shirt and he feels like a complete asshole. He moves toward her, reaching out to grab her wrist when she would have turned away. Startled, she turns back to him, eyes questioning.
"Jaegar is under myprotection," he tells her. "You don't need to risk everything for him anymore. You no longer need to…" he falters, unsure of a proper way to say what he's thinking.
Well, that would do. "Yes," he grinds out.
She nods, but he can tell that like anything else he says it is falling on deaf ears.
"Am I dismissed now?"
He releases her arm and he watches her flee his office. Once she is gone he opens his bottom drawer and pulls out his whiskey. He needs a drink.
He stares at the closed door for long minutes and he wonders how many times a person can be broken before they are shattered beyond repair.