October 27: Vision
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It's quiet for once, something that Levi is actually thankful for as he can listen to the woman beside him breathing with loaded heaves of air.
"Levi….When you think about our future, what do you see?" Her words are shaky, echoing the vibration of her breathes. It is a strange sound, one he has never paid attention to before. Now though, he can't help but pick up on it. He grunts, closing his eyes for a few peaceful moments before opening them in wonder.
He sees her. He sees her standing, wild brown hair untied and playing in the wind with little mind to just how many tangles and knots she would get. It is whimsical and light, this sight of her. Scars across her hands and arms that are bared only remind him of the war they had fought. Pink lines and splotches of darker skin only make him stare with a soft sigh of reserve.
He knows the story of every line that was made, for he was there for some of them. He was the one to patch them. He was the one to kiss them better, despite rarely showing his affection in public. Blue eyes followed the scars to the sleeves of the dress she was wearing. It was her off duty dress, the one he could remember her buying on a holiday years ago when she wanted to have an actual courting dinner with him, though the dinner was horrible and he was just as unromantic as he always was, that didn't deter him from remembering every ounce of the beauty that she was in the blue clothing and making the memory into his favorite when expeditions turned sour and days became terrible to bear.
"You." It's simply the only thing he can say. She turns to look at him, smile wide and bright like the sun on his back after a day long ride on the outside. Her hands brush her hair from her blushing cheeks with a laugh that he can't help but want to immerse himself into. She is beautiful and alive, alluring with all the light in the world that has been snuffed out by unkind fate for others.
"Me?" She laughs, a broken warble that makes him wince. His right hand, resting on her thigh slides under her own arm, intertwining their fingers. This is home. When the trials of their expeditions drag them down into their own personal hells, he knows he can just reach out, even in their shared slumbers and find these hands of hers, calloused and trained to kill just as much as his are.
"Yeah, smiling, happy. There's no fear." His words are short, brusque as the soft feel of a smile slips upon his lips as he thinks about the future with Hanji Zoe. He doesn't need to say, "No nightmares, no death in our everyday lives, no titans killing." She knows what he means by no fear. She will never lose herself in the bloodshed again and fear killing him in her recklessness. The distant feel of her long articulate fingers grasping his own in reassurance is alleviating.
"And you?" The words seem difficult but he reminds himself, thumb rotating lightly across the back of her palm, that he can only keep talking and letting her know what he sees, after all she can't see the world without him. The Lance Corporal snorts, moaning at the feeling afterwards. Laughter is not the best medicine at the moment with the ache of his bones.
"There with you, making the same shitty jokes." He doesn't mention that she will still be a mess most days and her body will still be stained with the stories they don't want to speak of. Her laughter is raucous, unladylike and full of boisterous cheer that shines like bells in the mornings of Wall Sina. She will still be taller than him but will choose to go barefoot more often than not, giving him a sporting chance to kiss her in surprise most days without much fighting.
'I see you,' He presses the thought hard in his mind as he sees this Hanji Zoe in so many ways. She is unguarded, free from the confines of their roles, the military, and all the rules and regulations that she sometimes follows. She is flying in spirit and he is in awe and want for there is no one who can be so broken as them and still be completely human and infinite.
"Is that all?" The splutter of something wet falls down in her lap, staining her lap and their held hands. He doesn't want to really open his eyes and look down to see if its tears. He doesn't want to see her cry, even in joy. Tears are what he usually finds on faces of those around him when he comes back after missions, though not on hers. It takes the hit of research being affected before she lets tears out because to her it isn't only a hit on research, but a hit on humanity's strongest chance.
"No." He can hear children around them, pushing and playing with each other as Hanji's hand is clasped in his. There are multiple voices, all small and filled with hope and love that he and Hanji could have never had shared before. There is joy and a fearlessness that gives him lightness in his soul. "A whole slew of brats. Ours."
He knows Hanji's mind is going ten million kilometers an hour, racing to come up with what their children look like. Do they act like them? Are they happy and getting what they want out of life? Do they fear the Titans or are the Titans bedtime stories meant to creep under their bed at night and pop out of their closets when Levi and Hanji aren't looking? Questions about their living pop up akin to daisies and wildflowers in the field of his imagination. The only thing he is for certain of is that they would be theirs and Hanji and he would love them infinitely, treasure them with all they could before being taken into the abyss of the war against the titans.
"You reading." His lips keep moving as what he sees for their future spills out, unfiltered with each hasty breath between them. Her books would be stacked precariously all over her study. He would find their bedroom drowning in literature, parchment everywhere, hidden under cups with saucers and tea spoons of theirs. "Tea,"
"Living. No more pointless deaths." There would be days of sadness to be sure, such as when and if they lived long enough to see their friends pass in rather normal and less bloody manners such as in their sleep or of old age, a rarity for the scouting legion. The deaths though would be filled with life without pointlessness. They wouldn't die simply with unfilled lives. They would have children, have days where they could have peace and there would be no danger of the titans. There would be no need for men like him and women like Hanji. There would be no more letters of condolences, no more need for sadness like that to permeate the world.
She laughs and it breaks him to hear it. It crashes his heart into a million pieces because it's not the sound of carefree bells that he's used to when she comes into his room late at night, giddy with the idea of something new. This laughter is hollow and echoing in the silence around them. He can't help the faint feeling of darkness tinging the world around them.
"No one's pointless." There is no need to elaborate as his grip tightens around hers. They are together here and now and there is no want for anything else despite the depth they are under in this conversation filled with hope. He takes a moment, opening his weary eyes filled with the lives he's lost under his command to glance at their hands together. He chortles again, wincing as he is pained with the movement.
"We're even allowed to wear our shitty rings." She smiles at the idea. When they married years ago, after barely surviving the breach of Wall Maria and Levi had been taken into Wall Sina and awarded with his title as Humanity's Strongest Soldier, they had been commanded to not wear their rings openly by Erwin. He didn't want to have to separate them due to the rules of the military. He needed his best at his side, which included Hanji and Levi.
"I love those rings." Levi wore his under his cravat while Hanji kept hers in a pocket on the underside of her jacket, sewn shut in case she ever died. The first thing, other than the cravat, that Levi had bought in Wall Sina when he was being honored had been the rings he was to be married with, knowing Hanji's ring size from fitting their weaponry to their hands so many years ago.
"I do too." He could remember her bright cheeks, when he actually proposed, the curve of her jaw and the mirth in her brown hazel eyes. With his unromantic way, he said he would rather take his shits beside her out of anyone else in the world, slipping the gold ring with a tiger's eye held in it's metallic wrap, Levi had known it to be true. He could only see that day with a clarity that he could swear he was back there in that moment with her. Her fingers were trembling in his, taking him out of his reverie.
"Hanji?" The name is breathless on his lips. He can feel the brush of her matted and greasy hair along his cheek. A shaky breath is all he receives for a few moments more. It creates a cold pit in his stomach as he waits for her. It's bad enough that he's not sure about their future, about the premonition of life that he wants for them. His words have kept them buoyed for so long and hope has been ridiculously hard to kill for the both of them.
"Yeah?" She speaks softly and it takes his years of training to actually be able to fully understand it. He sighs, feeling the gurgle of something that he doesn't really want to name in his stomach. Levi can only count the seconds as he gasps for air to speak. His head is lolling against hers before turning to kiss her lips. The kiss is soft and light as she returns it with the strength she can. He pants against them, looking up to meet her eyes with a soft smile on his lips. Their foreheads rest, pressing and keeping together.
"I'll see you." His voice grinds before a loud hacking cough splits his lips and sputum and blood fall out on his chin and her cheek. He gasps for air and finds its easier to focus on her. She's all he has left at the moment. Their dream is fading with each second and if he can't have the idea of their future time together, if he can't drown himself in that prospect of hope. He is sure to do it with his eyes on her and only her.
"Me too." Hanji's whisper is croaked, fighting to come out. For Levi though, it's a promise, a promise of a life they could have had and the echoes of their shared past. It's a vow that will never be broken because its her last to him. With his blue eyes staring at her, he can feel nothing more and neither can she.
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When Eren finds them during the clean-up, he stares. It's impossible, the sight before him. His mind rings with that truth. This is impossible. It takes Armin and Jean to find him before word gets to Commander Erwin, who comes as soon as he can.
Erwin feels hope fade from his eyes as the children, for they are children ranging from fifteen to nineteen, don't move towards the two captains. Levi is sitting with Hanji, staring at her with lifeless eyes, ones that used to be quick and cutting to the bone with his rough way. The Lance Corporal's left arm and leg are torn off, found meters away on the ground next to a Titan skeleton. His maneuvering gear is broken in pieces on the roof they are on.
The researcher that caused Erwin to grin at even the most inappropriate of times, had her eyes closed, goggles broken like her legs which were splayed and mangled in directions that he would have deemed improbable before joining the scouting legion. Her right arm is twisted in a manner that can only make his stomach heave.
In death, the only peace their old friend can take is that they were together until their last breath with hands held. It's the only consolation Erwin can take with him as he begins issuing special orders for their bodies. He stops after and looks over at Eren who speaks softly.
"They look happy."