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If at First You Don't Succeed...

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He's gone back in time. That's the only explanation Levi can come up with that makes even the least amount of sense. The only other explanations is that this is either an extremely elaborate prank being pulled on him by Hanji, or that last night's round of drinking with his squad was more wild then he recalls and that his memories are actually a strange hallucination brought on by the shady beer they had drunk. However Hanji is still unable to regrow limbs, and both him and his squad have been drinking that shady beer for years with no ill effects, so time travel is at the moment the only viable theory.

Everything is as he remembered it. Right up to the little things he didn't recall until he saw them being done again. The rumors and speculation about the cadets massacring a titan army in a matter of hours he hears are exactly the same, equal parts awed and terrified. Everything is the same.

Right up until they get to the cadets.

Instead of joining the Garrison and the Scouting Legion, the whole lot of them join the Military Police. Every single one of them. They listen through Nile's speech with expressions of somber seriousness, and not one of them so much as cracks a grin.

And that changes everything. When they set out on the expedition, they don't have a squad of kids able to massacre titans like they've been doing it for centuries, and they definitely don't Jeager turning into a titan out of the blue and leveling the playing field.

They return with half the legion wiped out, again, demoralized, weary, and to a cloud of thick black smoke billowing out from beyond Wall Sina.

That's when they first hear about the coup.

---

"Do you hear something?"

"No." Levi didn't even look up from his hand of cards. This was his fifth time playing this game with his squad. It was always the same. At the moment he knew without a doubt that Oluo's hand was worthless, Gunther only had a pair of threes, Eld had a flush of spades, and Petra was sporting four of a kind. Nothing ever changes.

"I hear it too," Petra adds. "It sounds like a goose?"

Except them.

They change all the fucking time, and Levi doesn't know why. Trying to predict what those fucking brats would do was next to impossible. On some loops they were all drinking themselves into a stupor, others times they were absconding with the Legions supplies in the middle of the night and hewing a bloody streak half-way to Shiganshina, and most of the time no one had any idea what they were doing, not even the brats themselves.

"I'm hearing things as well Captain," Eld spoke up. "Sounds like the recruits are up to something. Maybe we should check it out."

"I hear nothing," Levi snarled. "It's nothing. We are not going anywhere." It's the first time in what seems like years since he's been able to sit down with his squad and he is not going to let those brats ruin it for him.

"It's smells like something's burning!" Oluo had climbed to his feet and looked ready to check it out.

"You get your ass back here and play your shitty hand," Levi hissed. "There is nothing burning, and we are not going to check it out even if there was. We are going to sit down and we are going to play cards. Are we clear?"

Four fearful nods answered him. Slowly, carefully, as if afraid he was going to bite their heads off. Levi's just about to open his mouth and announce his play when there is a loud cry of "TIMBER!" and the floor gives way beneath him.

---

"I hate those brats," Levi growled, glaring sourly at the wall.

"Why?" Hanji paused from bandaging his chest. "I like them."

"You weren't the one who had a house collapse on top of you."

Hanji just gave a cheery little hum. Levi glares in response. He's about to open his mouth to add another caustic comment when an idea hits him. A cruel terrible idea.

"You know, one of those titans was Jeager."

Hanji freezes as she takes in the information. "What are you talking about?"

"You didn't know Shitty Glasses? Jeager can turn himself into a titan. The brown-haired one with the glowing green eyes and the stupid skull-face. I'm surprised the Commander didn't tell you."

The look Hanji gives him is a mixture of pure disbelief, yet Levi can see the traces of excitement bubbling up.

"I think he's in the barracks with the other trainees," Levi adds. He doesn't mention they are all recovering from hangovers.

Hanji looks at him like he's just told her the secret to life, and then she's gone. A satisfied smile crosses his face as he leans back in his chair.

That'll teach those brats to stage titan fights in the middle of Headquarters.

---

Not even the fucking rooster can spoil Levi's mood when he wakes up. Sure, Jeager had ripped him to pieces in revenge. But he knows that not even that would have gotten Hanji off the little shit's back. Besides, for the first time in a long time, he knows exactly what needs to be done.

His fingers find the rifle he has stashed under his mattress.

He's going to kill every single one of those brats before they can even think of fucking up his plans. Then he'll kill the rooster again.

He opens the door ready to do what needs to be done, and discovers two things very quickly. One, that the brats have come to similar conclusions as him, and two Lenz is a unexpectedly good shot with a crossbow.

---

This has gone on long enough, Erwin decided. It was funny at first but now they had crossed the line.

He casually emptied his teacup into a nearby plant. The plant, evidently deciding the tea was not to its taste, responded by shrieking, twitching, and dying.

Levi and the new recruits had been trying to kill each other. He doesn't have the foggiest clue as to why. It had been funny at first, watching the lot of them sneaking around late at night with knives, clubs, piano wire and nailboards, but now it has gone too far.

Poisoning the food supplies was simply unacceptable. Tea is simply too expensive for the lot of them to go around poisoning what little they have. He would put a stop to this first thing tomorrow morning.

---

This has gone on long enough, Erwin decided. It was funny at first but now they had crossed the line.

He carefully tests the point on the giant spike protruding from the seat of the office chair he had just been about to sit down in. Evidently the whole thing had been rigged to send the spike right up the ass of the first person to sit down on it.

Levi and the new recruits had been trying to kill each other. He doesn't have the foggiest clue as to what either of them could have done to make them hate each other so much is so little time. It had been funny at first, watching the lot of them prowl the halls of Headquarters armed to the teeth with all sorts of deadly implements and stage ambushed out of the shrubbery, but now it has gone to far.

Booby trapping the furniture was unacceptable. It was hard enough to ensure you got the right person and didn't kill anyone important, like him. He would put a stop to this first thing tomorrow morning.

---

This has gone on long enough, Erwin decided. It was funny at first but now they had crossed the line.

The tiger let out another snarl and lunged. Erwin blocked it with his desk chair, somehow managing to keep just out of reach of the great cat's fangs and claws.

Levi and the new recruits had been trying to kill each other. He doesn't have the foggiest clue why the two of them seem to hate each other with such burning vitriol, seeing that as far as he knows none of them had laid eyes on each other before the graduation ceremony. He probably should have known something was up when Levi showed up armed, but to be fair he had no way of knowing that the courtyard had been rigged with blasting explosive and that the whole ceremony would rapidly degenerate into a massive free-for-all battle. It had actually been kind of funny at first, watching the two of them battle in the hallways, around the courtyard and across the roof, but now they had gone too far.

Hiding giant predatory animals in the storage closets was unacceptable. Not only did it put them in a bad mood, but they made of mess of the storage closets while they were trapped inside. He would put a stop to this first thing tomorrow morning.

---

"I think we may have gone a bit too far," Reiner remarked, holding up his arm to shield his eyes from the glow.

"Possibly," Marco admitted, squinting a bit in the bright, searing light.

"I blame the midget," Mikasa added.

No one argued that point as they watched the gigantic fiery mushroom cloud consume the Inner city.

"I think we're going need a permanent solution to Levi," Krista suggested hesitantly. "Killing him just doesn't seem to cut it."

Armin just nodded in agreement, and flipped open his little black book to the section of "Things Hanji is Not Allowed to Have."

"Do any of you guys know how to spell 'uranium?'"

---

The brats are gone. Vanished into thin air. No sign of them anywhere.

It's driving Levi nuts. They're up to something, he just knows it. As much as he would dearly wish for them all to drop out of existence, he knows damn well that's not likely to happen. For them to vanish so suddenly means they're most likely plotting something big.

He's a nervous wreck for two whole days. Constantly checking around corners, jumping at the smallest noises, and freaking out and a single odor out of place. Twice he dragged his squad out of bed in the middle of the night and had them search the woods with him, convinced the brats were hiding in there waiting for the opportunity to strike.

His relief is great when the Scouting Legion's entire stockpile of supplies is stolen the next day. He knows what this means. The brats are making another push for Shiganshina. Whatever their reason, they're leaving him alone. His first order of business is to head down to one of the seedier areas on Trost. There's a pub there, an old favorite.

The place is practically deserted when he arrives. Not surprising, it is the middle of the morning after all. The only people there are a couple seated at a corner table, the collars of their coats pulled up and the brims of their hats pulled down. Doubtlessly folks the Military Police would dearly love to know the whereabouts of.

There's also a girl with blond hair wiping down the tables. Levi doesn't recognize her, but he's also never been here this early in the morning, so for all he knows she just works the morning shift.

"What can I get for you sir?" She asks, coming up to his table. She looks familiar somehow.

"The strongest shit you got," he answers instead leaning forward to study the girl as she heads back to the bar. She's definitely familiar, almost a bit like...

The realization hits him about the same time the net does. Ackerman and Jeager throw off their disguises and are kicking the shit out of him before he's even hits the floor. The net tangles around his limbs, preventing him from reaching the folding knife in his coat, the long stiletto concealed in his boot, or even for that matter getting up and fighting back.

"So..." Arlert brushes some dust of his skirts and peers down at him. "Time looping is a bitch isn't it?"