Chapter 1: Dreams of a previous life
Death. Blood. Destruction.
It was an all too familiar scene for Captain Levi Ackerman.
Every expedition was the same, many good men and women were lost to the titans and this one was to be no different.
Steering his horse through the dense trees, Levi glanced at his surroundings.
Blood covered cloaks bearing the Survey Corps Wings of Freedom sigil shrouded battered bodies, detached limbs left over from the titan’s feeding frenzy scattered across the stained red grass, blank and horrified eyes staring at him as he passed by…
Swallowing hard when he recognized some of the deceased soldiers as members of the squad of one particular person who meant more to him than he was able to put into words, a low growl vibrated in the pit of his throat and he spurred his horse on faster, hoping and praying to whatever god existed that he wasn’t too late…
The forest was eerily silent, devoid of any signs of life...human or titan.
Even the creatures that usually inhabited the trees seemed to have disappeared in the wake of the recent bloodshed, this wasn’t a good sign.
Finally finding the strength to do so the captain called out, only answered by the sound of his own voice echoed back at him.
“Shit, where the hell is she?” He cursed.
He blamed himself for what had happened.
He should never have let her out of his sight, he should have insisted that she be placed in his squad. If anything had happened to her…
No! He couldn’t bear to finish that thought.
She was a strong and capable soldier, her squad commander had just recommended her for leadership training after this expedition with a view to promoting her to instructor status.
She’d been so excited when she told him this news, the look in her e/c eyes was one of pure joy. The only other time he’d ever seen her so happy was when he…
A faint groan of pain caught his attention, was that her?
“F/N?” He yelled, the desperation in his tone was painfully obvious. He halted his horse and stayed as still as stone, waiting for a reply.
Thankfully he received one a moment later in the form of a loud hacking cough.
Turning his head in the general direction of the sound, Levi narrowed his cold grey eyes and harshly kicked the animal into a gallop.
Whoever it was that had heard his call needed help and he couldn’t just abandon them.
After a brief ride to the west Levi finally came across a clearing in the forest, his cold grey eyes narrowing as he approached a single battered body sprawled out on the grass near a large blood stained tree.
Whoever they were, they had taken quite a beating if the amount of blood and the state of their broken ODM Gear was anything to go on.
“Hey, can you hear me?” Called Levi, dismounting his horse and approaching the body.
He couldn’t tell who it was since they were face down and their hood was covering their head, he could however tell that they were still alive...but barely.
Their back slowly rose and fell with every shaky breath they took, desperately clinging to life as it was slowly drained away.
Squatting down next to his injured comrade, Levi carefully pulled away the sticky bloodstained hood of their cloak. His heart thumping wildly in his chest at the sight of h/l h/c hair beneath it…
‘No, no please don’t let it be…’
Cautiously turning the body over, the raven haired captain’s eyes widened in horror, his throat going dry as the identity of the fallen soldier was finally revealed to him.
“F/n!” He slowly slipped an arm under her shoulders and pulled her upright against him, gently tilting her head back to keep her airway clear so she could breathe more easily. “Open your eyes damnit!”
Relief washed over him like a shower of cold rain when she groaned and slowly opened her eyes, glassy e/c orbs staring weakly up at him as her blood stained lips visibly parted.
“L-Levi?” Came the choked whisper of a reply.
“I’m here, you’ll be okay.” His voice cracked and he tightened his grip on her, desperately willing her to hold on to what little life she still had left in her broken body.
She smiled and weakly shook her head.
“Do you believe in reincarnation?” She asked, wincing as she felt her body become cold.
She was dying and she knew it, there was no escaping the fact that her luck had finally run out and death was coming for her.
“What? How hard did you hit your head? You’re talking shit f/n!” He snapped, his cold grey eyes focusing on her face. Why was she saying these things?
She laughed and coughed up blood, it was no good trying to deny it...these were to be her final moments alive and she needed to tell him how she felt, no matter how crazy she sounded.
Taking her last shaky breaths she stared up at him one final time hoping that he would be able to understand how much he meant to her before she was forced to part from him.
“I’m sorry Levi.” Tears stung her eyes and slowly started to fall down her bloodied cheeks, parting the stains of red to reveal the pale/dark skin beneath. “I hope we meet again in the next life.”
“F/n don’t you dare!” He yelled, tears forming in his cold grey eyes.
He hadn’t allowed pain this strong, this overwhelming to consume him and cause his stoic mask to slip in he didn’t even know how many years.
“I’ll wait...for you...I promise...”
Levi sat bolt upright in his bed, panting hard he looked around the darkened bedroom before turning his attention to the sweat soaked sheets that now clung to his bare abdomen.
“Shit!” He snapped, wincing as he pulled the damp material from his bare body and climbed out of bed.
He’d been having this nightmare for the past couple of weeks now and it was always the same, blood, death and destruction.
Him clad in a strange military uniform and wearing even stranger metal gear that allowed him to soar through the air using wires and grappling hooks, while wielding two sharp blades with deadly accuracy as he cut down these terrible human eating monsters known simply as “titans” before finding the dying woman who he was supposedly romantically involved with.
“Tch, disgusting.” He snorted, ripping the sheets from his bed and tossing them into the laundry hamper before walking over to the wardrobe and pulling out the bottom drawer to pick out some clean clothes.
He was used to this routine now.
Every time he woke up from this strange nightmare he would strip the bed, pick out some clean clothes and then take a shower before putting fresh linen on the bed ready for the next night.
There was no point in even trying to get back to sleep, it never happened.
Once he was awake, that was it. Sleep would evade him, not that he actually wanted to return to the land of rest and relive that strange nocturnal episode all over again, once a night was more than enough for him.
Yet the same question always echoed through his brain, who was this woman and why did she talk of reincarnation? The more it played on his mind the more it made his head hurt, was he going mad...or was this nightmare actually a repressed memory from a previous life? Did reincarnation actually exist?
Chapter 2: New beginnings
“Reincarnation: The philosophical or religious concept that an aspect of a living being starts a new life in a different physical body or form after each biological death.”
Levi’s brows furrowed as he stared at the laptop screen.
He wasn’t even sure why he was bothering to read up on this, but the recurring dream that seemed to be haunting him for the past two weeks since he turned twentyfive was really starting to get on his nerves now.
“Tch, what a load of shit!” He snorted, putting his tie on, tucking his shirt into his trousers and closing the laptop before putting it away and making his way downstairs.
Not only was today his first day back at work after the Christmas break, but it was also the first shift in his newly promoted position.
He’d worked at the building surveyors company Survey Corps since leaving school at sixteen and started to make quite the name for himself.
He was well known among his colleagues for his rude and blunt attitude, which the company founder and owner seemed to let him get away with as long as he produced the desired results...which nine times out of ten he did.
After starting at the bottom he soon found himself promoted to the project management team at twentyone and then promoted once more just before the Christmas break to the deputy management team where he was to start working very closely with board of directors.
“Ah Good Morning Levi, sit down I’ll make you some breakfast.” Said a kind female voice as he entered the kitchen.
“It’s fine, I’ll do it.”
“I might be in ill health but I’m not dying yet! I’m still perfectly capable of looking after my own son thank you!”
Levi rolled his eyes and sat down at the large wooden table, watching the short frail looking woman with long raven hair as she pottered about at the worktop near the cooker.
Kuchel Ackerman was a kind woman with strong protective instincts when it came to her family, especially Levi since he was her only child.
Tragically, at the start of the previous year she had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Upon receiving news that she was ill, her older brother Kenny had decided to move back into the family home and keep an eye on her, since she had no husband or other family apart from Levi. While she was still managing to live a normal life for now, they all knew that there was the possibility her condition could start to deteriorate and Kenny refused hands down to see her end up in a hospice waiting to die.
“So are you looking forward to your first day back at work since being promoted?” She questioned cheerfully.
“Heh, of course he is! He’s all suited and booted ready for action!” Snickered a male voice from the entrance to the kitchen.
Levi rolled his eyes but didn’t look around when he heard footsteps behind him growing closer before a large hand roughly landed on his head and ruffled up his neat tresses.
“Get the hell off me!” He growled, batting the hand away and shooting a death glare at the tall raven haired male it belonged to as he brushed his hair back into place.
“Oh leave him alone!” Giggled his mother. “You know he hates it when you do that.”
Kenny shrugged, sitting himself down at the table.
“Stop stressing Kuchel, he’ll be fine won’t ya Runt?”
“Kenny don’t call him that!” Snapped Kuchel, bringing Levi a cup of tea and a plate containing some bacon, eggs, tomatoes and toast. She placed them down in front of him before giving her brother a swift slap upside the head.
“Hey!” Protested the older male, narrowing his cold grey eyes at her, however her attention had turned back to Levi when she noticed his frown deepen as he picked up his tea cup.
“Levi, Sweetheart are you okay?” She questioned worriedly, her brows furrowing in concern.
“I’m fine.” Muttered Levi, sipping his tea but not meeting her gaze.
Kuchel raised her eyebrows and folded her arms.
“Trouble sleeping again?”
Levi silently nodded, still refusing to meet her gaze as he started to eat.
“He’ll be fine.” Remarked Kenny, trying to put her mind at ease. “You said that he’s suffered with sleep problems since he was a teenager, it’s nothing new.”
“Yes but these past two weeks it seems to have gotten worse.” She protested, the mounting concern was evident in her soft grey eyes. “Should I make an appointment with the doctor for you?”
“No I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?” She rested a hand on his shoulder and gently rubbed it. “If something is bothering you, I want to help.”
“I’m fine, it’ll pass.”
Kuchel sighed and shook her head, Levi had always been cagey with his emotions. Even as a child he was reluctant to speak out if something was bothering him and it really worried her. Still, she knew better than to press the issue, if and when he did eventually want to talk to her about it then he would, until then...she would just have to leave him be.
Finishing his breakfast, Levi left the kitchen and picked up his jacket from the rack on the wall near the front door before retrieving his car keys from the table.
“I’m off to work.” He called back towards the kitchen, making sure he had everything he needed before he left.
A moment later Kuchel exited the kitchen and walked towards him, a sad smile gracing her features. She gently reached up, cupping her sons cheeks in her soft hands and gazed into his eyes.
“If you need to talk about anything, I’m here for you...okay?”
“Yeah I know.” He replied evenly. “Let me know how things go at the hospital this afternoon.”
“Have a good first day back, I’ll see you tonight.” Kuchel nodded and gently pulled him down, placing a loving kiss on his forehead and releasing her grip on him, sighing deeply and watching him walk out of the door.
Once he had left, she slowly walked back into the kitchen and turned to Kenny.
“I’m worried about him, what do you suppose could be wrong?” She questioned, sitting herself down and reaching for the teapot.
Kenny furrowed his brows and clicked his tongue.
“Well you do have a hospital appointment today.”
“No it’s something else, I’m sure of it.” She mused quietly, placing the teapot back down and stirring the warm black liquid around the cup in front of her. “I know my own son Kenny. This is nothing to do with my illness, something is definitely bothering him.”
“I wish I knew, but whatever it is...it must be bad if it’s been affecting his sleeping habits for the past two weeks.”
“Well dwelling on Levi’s nocturnal troubles isn’t going to do you any favours at your appointment today, so try not to think about it and concentrate on what the doctor has to say.” Said Kenny matter of factly. “If Levi wants to talk about what’s bothering him then he’ll come to you. Until then leave him be.”
“Yes.” She sighed staring down at her tea. “I guess you’re right.”
“So are you looking forward to your first day working under a new team f/n?”
“Well I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous.”
“Oh Sweetie you’ll be fine!”
A tall woman with flyaway brown hair thrown back into a ponytail and dressed in a smart black trouser suit smiled warmly and led you through a set of double doors into a large room that spanned an entire floor of the large building that served as the Survey Corps main office block.
“Just pay attention to what the project managers tell you and you’ll be absolutely fine.” She reassured, patting you on the back and giving you a sincere smile as she showed you to your new work area.
You’d known Hanji Zoe since you and your father moved back to Trost when you were thirteen years old, it was at this point she had caught up with your father who had told you that she was a friend of your mother from her school days.
It was also actually down to her that you had managed to get yourself a job with Survey Corps upon leaving college at eighteen, now four years later you had made the change from secretarial assistant to client consultant after volunteering to undergo an internal training course with a few of the interns who were there doing work experience in the autumn.
You had passed the course with excellent marks on all of your theory and practical tests, however the only drawback was that you could not put your newfound skills to use right away due to their being no vacancies available at the time.
Fortunately for you though, Hanji had promised you that as soon as a position became available it was yours with immediate effect.
Sure enough, this came to pass just before the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
Hanji had taken great pleasure in personally delivering the news to you when she came to visit you and your father the day before Christmas Eve, claiming that it was her present for you.
Your e/c eyes widened and you swallowed hard as you looked around at the neat rows of desks adorned with expensive computers, this area was much larger and far more crowded than some parts of the building you had previously worked in. Each desk seated a smartly dressed man or woman busily typing away, none of them looked up or even acknowledged your presence as you passed by, not that you particularly minded. You weren’t sure who any of these people were, but you felt certain you would get to know them eventually, for now however you were content to just settle into your new position. There would be ample time for socializing later.
“Ah Nanaba there you are!”
Your head jerked around as the bespectacled director you had been walking with called out to a short blonde haired woman in a white short sleeved shirt, navy blue pencil skirt and smart low heeled shoes.
“Yes Hanji, what can I do for you?” She asked, walking briskly towards the two of you.
“This is f/n l/n, she’s going to be joining your team as of today.”
The woman Hanji had referred to as Nanaba looked at you with an unreadable expression and nodded.
“Yes, I received your memo saying that I would be getting a new team member today.” She said nonchalantly, doing nothing to ease your nerves. In fact her austereness seemed to make you feel even more worried about accepting this transfer so you could further your career.
“Right, I’ll leave you to get acquainted, I have a meeting to prepare for. Good luck and I’ll see you at lunch time.”
“Thanks Hanji.” You smiled, watching her dash away and disappear through the double doors before swallowing hard and looking back to Nanaba.
“Right then, let’s get you settled in at your new workstation.” Said the blonde woman, gesturing for you to follow her. “Hanji tells me that you are confident in your telephone manner, but now you also will be working on a more personal level with our clients, do you think you can handle that?”
“I’m used to dealing with people face to face yes.” You replied politely as the pair of you stopped at the first vacant desk you came to and Nanaba gestured for you to take a seat.
You did as requested, tugging the bottom of your knee high black fitted skirt so it wouldn’t ride up your thighs as you got comfortable in the plush leather swivel chair.
“Good, well things tend to be quiet around here for the first couple of weeks after the Christmas and New Year break.” Nodded the short haired blonde, giving you a small smile. “So you need not worry about us throwing you in at the deep end.”
“Good to know.” You giggled timidly, turning your attention to your desk and eyeing up the computer which had already been set up ready for you to use.
“For now you’ll just be sorting through our client list, file any completed contracts accordingly and send them over to me via the internal email system.” She paused a moment to check her watch. “If you find any contracts that need clarifying, I’ll need you to send out correspondence letters as well as e-mails, it’s always best to have all bases covered. You’ll find any stationery you may need over by the photocopier and printer, so that should keep you busy until lunch time.”
“Oh and f/n.”
“Welcome to my team.”
You nodded and swallowed hard, watching her walk away for a brief few seconds before looking at your computer and exhaling deeply.
“Okay then, time to get to work!”
“Morning Shorty! All set for our meeting with Erwin?”
Levi grunted something inaudible under his breath and unlocked the door which led to his personal office before addressing the person speaking to him.
“Go away Four Eyes, you’re too early.”
“Oh dear, did someone fail to get laid over the holiday period?” Teased Hanji.
Levi slowly turned towards her, his cold grey eyes narrowing dangerously when he saw the wide shit eating grin gracing her features.
“I’ll take that as a no you didn’t then.” She giggled before furrowing her brows in concern. “Seriously though Levi, are you okay? You look like you haven’t slept for a few days, have your nerves kicked in over your new position within the company?”
“Stop shrieking and leave me alone.”
“Your mother has another hospital appointment today doesn’t she?”
Levi tensed up and clenched his jaw, despite how much Hanji annoyed him with her constant babbling and winding him up, the pair of them had become close friends over the past few years since Levi became a member of the management team.
“I’m sure it’ll be okay.” She continued, cautiously placing a hand on his shoulder and giving it a reassuring squeeze.
The raven haired male however continued to ignore her and stared straight ahead before walking into his office, closely followed by Hanji.
“Look Levi, if you want to talk you know I’m always willing to listen.”
“Yeah I got it Four Eyes.” He replied bluntly, clearly giving her the brush off.
“Alright, well see you in an hour in the main boardroom.” She sighed, leaving the office and closing the door behind her.
“Tch, finally!” He snorted, turning on his computer he removed his jacket and draped it over the back of his chair before sitting down at his desk.
He stared at the screen with a frown and folded his arms while the machine booted up, the recurring dream once again began playing on his mind.
Just who was this young woman from his dream and why had she promised to wait for him?
Levi had never even been in a relationship before, not that he was interested in becoming involved in one, so why the hell was he dreaming that he was in love with someone who had probably never even existed? Reincarnation wasn’t real...was it?
“Tch of course it’s not real you idiot!” He snapped at himself, frustration mounting as the computer finally finished loading the desktop background. Part of him wondered if he was starting to crack under the pressure of helping his uncle keep an eye on his mother in case her condition suddenly worsened.
He’d originally been planning to move out of the family home and get a place of his own around the time of her diagnosis, but decided to stay put afterwards and look after her. Medical bills didn’t come cheap and with Kuchel being forced to resign from work on the advice of her doctor, they needed at least one source of income to keep a roof over their heads as well as pay for any treatment and medicines she would need to take to try and fight off the horrible disease that had seen fit to inflict itself upon her.
Leaning forward in his seat, he started to set up for the day.
There had just under an hour before his first meeting with the company owner and founder Erwin Smith and the board of directors to discuss plans for the business year ahead.
Maybe he would speak to Hanji during lunch, she believed in all that reincarnation and rebirth claptrap so at least she wouldn’t think he needed his head examining the moment he opened his mouth about it.
For now though, he opted to push everything out of his mind and concentrate on the here and now, there was not a lot he could do about anything else at the moment and his mother had already insisted that he should concentrate on work and allow Kenny to accompany her to her appointment that afternoon. She’d already promised to call him as soon as she got home and the last thing he wanted to be doing was sitting in his office brooding over it all day.
You tapped away at the keyboard, your e/c eyes firmly fixed on the screen in front of you.
“Right, time to print these off and get them put in the outbox for the mail staff to deal with.” You smiled confidently.
Standing up you straightened your shirt and brushed down your skirt before making your way over to the printing and photocopying station set back near the windows of the spacious work area.
“Well hello there!” Said a male voice, causing you to let out a small squeak of alarm.
“Oh I’m sorry.” Chuckled a blonde haired man in smart navy blue three piece suit. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“No it’s fine.” You giggled nervously. “I’ll be done in a moment.”
“No hurry, take your time. I’m Flagon Turret by the way, one of the consultant team managers.” He extended a hand and smiled. “I’m guessing you’re the newbie on Nanaba’s team?”
“Yeah I am.” You took his hand and shook it. “F/n l/n, I used to be a secretarial assistant for Syram down in financing before I came up here.”
Flagon nodded and leaned against the window ledge, folding his arms as he did so.
“Well, you’ll find things are a bit more hectic up here.” He said matter of factly. “Still I’m sure Nanaba will take good care of you.”
You picked up the letters from the printer tray, quickly going through them to make sure they were all there.
“I’m a fast learner.” You smiled, although in all honesty Flagon’s attitude was starting to make you feel a little uneasy. He came across as rather arrogant in your opinion and someone you felt you should probably watch your back around.
“F/n how are you getting on?”
You looked behind you and were relieved to see Nanaba approaching with a stack of documents which you assumed she was planning on photocopying.
“Fine thank you.” You smiled. “I just need to sign these letters and then put them in the outgoing mail tray ready for the post room workers to collect when they start their rounds.
“Keen as mustard this one.” Nodded Flagon. “You must be glad to have her on your team.”
“I’m interested to see what she can do.” Replied the blonde haired woman evenly, her icy blue eyes narrowing slightly.
“I’ll leave you to get back to work then.” Said Flagon, turning his attention to the printer when it whirred into life again and started on the next set of documents.
“Goodbye.” You answered calmly before making a hasty retreat back to your desk and shaking your head to try and fight back the uncomfortable wince that was trying to find its way onto your face.
“I hope he isn’t giving you any trouble.” Nanaba’s tone changed slightly once the two of you were out of earshot to one of a more friendly manner.
“No, he wasn't just introducing himself.”
“Hmm, well just watch him.” She looked back at him for a brief moment. “He likes to try and intimidate the new starters and on more than one occasion he’s been caught getting a little arrogant in his attitude towards the other team members.”
“Thanks for the heads up.”
“Not a problem, I look after my workforce.” Smiled Nanaba. “Would you like to join me for a mid morning coffee after you’re done with that pile of paperwork? It will give you a chance to meet the rest of the team.”
“Yes that sounds nice.”
“Come and meet me at my desk when you’re done.”
You nodded and watched her leave before returning to your workstation and putting the pile of documents down on the desk. Taking a seat and picking up a pen from the pot to the left of your computer screen, you started to sign each letter before putting it into the corresponding envelope and sealing it.
When you were done you picked up the pile of letters and made your way over to the outgoing mail tray at the other end of the large work area, nearly bumping into a short raven haired male with cold grey eyes as he walked briskly past you.
“Oh excuse me.” You stammered before sidestepping him just in time to avoid bumping into him.
“Tch, watch where you’re going Brat!” He snorted, not looking at you as he continued walking.
“Wow, rude!” You muttered under your breath, turning back to look at him for a moment before he disappeared through the double doors leading to the stairs and elevators.
Shrugging it off since you didn’t dare say anything to his face in case he was someone important, you carried on walking towards the table where the outgoing mail tray was and deposited the letters into it before heading back to Nanaba’s desk so you could join her for a cup of coffee and meet the rest of the team you would be working with.
Chapter 3: Settling in
Upon reaching the main boardroom, Levi had found the company owner Erwin Smith already sat at the head of the table talking to Hanji and one of the other directors, Mike Zacharius.
“Hey Shorty!” Called Hanji enthusiastically.
Levi rolled his eyes, he despised that nickname.
Hanji knew how self conscious he was about his height, yet she always saw fit to wind him up about it every chance she got.
It wasn’t like he was particularly short, but at five foot three inches, he was easily one of the shortest men in the entire company...especially when compared to the six foot two inches Erwin and six foot five inches Mike.
Taking a seat next to Mike, Levi narrowed his eyes when the blonde male leaned over him and started sniffing his neck.
After a moment he frowned and pulled away, remaining silent and decided to turn his attention back to the pile of papers in front of him.
“Tch, can’t you just learn to speak to people instead of sniffing them?” Growled Levi. “Fucking disgusting.”
Erwin smirked and shook his head, turning his attention to the newly promoted deputy manager.
“I see learning to rein in your attitude didn’t make it onto your list of new year’s resolutions.”
Levi was far from amused by his employer’s mocking attitude, simply glaring at the tall bushy browed blonde in response.
Hanji however knew the reason for his current mood, but decided it was in her best interest to keep her mouth shut.
“So who else are we waiting on?”
“Dita, Klaus and Marlene.” Replied Erwin, leaning forward in his seat and resting his folded arms on the table. “Once they arrive we can begin.”
Levi nodded, this was his first time sitting in on the start of year briefing with the other directors and deputy managers, so it was quite the learning curve for him.
However he knew deep down that Erwin wouldn’t have entrusted him with a promotion if he didn’t think that he was capable of handling it, he wasn’t a natural leader as such but he had managed a rather successful team before becoming a deputy manager.
Either way this new promotion had a lot of perks, including a rather nice pay rise, which meant that should his mother need more expensive medical treatment he was more than prepared to help deal with the costs.
The briefing room door opened and the final director and deputy managers entered, hastily taking their seats and turning their attention to Erwin.
“Good Morning Mr Smith.” Said A tall man with thinning light brown hair. “My apologies for us being late, there was a little trouble getting some of the interns settled in.”
“I trust the problem is sorted now?” Questioned Erwin.
“Good. I hope you’re all well rested after the holiday period, I have big plans for the company this year. So let’s begin by going over the figures from last year.”
“Hey Nanaba, I’m done with those letters.” You smiled, stopping at her desk.
“That was quick!” She remarked, raising her head to face you. “Well, time to introduce you to the rest of the team.”
You nodded nervously and followed her to the small break room a few meters to the left of her desk.
Pushing open the light oak door, Nanaba entered first and gestured for you to follow.
Looking around the room you noticed it was a rather cozy looking layout for somewhere so formal.
The plain walls were adorned with notices of meeting dates, upcoming events and reminders from other members of staff. A small kitchen area which contained a fridge, microwave, some cupboards and a sink was on the right hand side of the room, while finally in the middle was a small oak coffee table with three people sat around it on plush brown leather chairs.
“Alright you three.” Said Nanaba, raising her voice slightly and gaining their immediate attention. “I’d like you to meet our newest team member.”
The current occupants of the room, a woman and two men all looked up from their conversation and turned to face you, fixing you with an intent stare.
“F/n l/n, meet Ilse Langnar, Nickolas Colton and Luke Siss.”
“Hi.” You smiled nervously, your e/c eyes nervously scanning over each of them.
Ilse Langnar was a tall female with short black hair and amber eyes, she was wearing a skirt and plain shirt similar to yours, while the men were both dressed in smart navy blue suits with matching ties. You weren’t sure which was Luke and which was Nickolas, all you could tell was that they were both tall and rather handsome.
One had short black hair styled into bangs which fell on either side of his strong cheekbones and icy blue eyes, while the other had light brown chin length, hair which was tied back into a ponytail with the bangs hanging loose and warm hazel eyes.
“Ah good another female for the team.” Said Ilse, her eyes narrowing slightly as she stood up and moved towards you, circling you like a predator stalking its prey.
“Don’t mind her.” Said the black haired male, catching the worried look on your face. “She likes to study everyone and everything, she’s actually worse than Director Hanji at times.”
“Is that even possible?” Smirked the other male, leaning back in his seat and grinning. “At least she doesn’t get out her notebook and start observing you like some sort of study subject!”
Ilse turned towards him and and frowned.
“Oh go get a haircut Luke!”
“Come and cut it for me!”
Luke’s grin widened and he let his light brown hair out of its ponytail, letting it fall down around his face and whipping it back with a shake of his head.
“You just had to set him off didn’t you?” Snorted Nickolas.
“Alright you lot, that’s enough!” Said Nanaba sternly, moving towards the sink and picking up the kettle. “F/n just transferred here from the financing department.”
“Get boring down there did it?” Questioned Nickolas, raising an eyebrow at you.
“Come sit down, we don’t bite.” Said Luke, indicating Ilse’s unoccupied seat. “Well I don’t anyway, Nickolas might though if he gets hungry!”
“Tea or coffee f/n?” Asked Nanaba.
“Oh, tea please (insert how you take it).”
As soon as you had told your new team leader your preferred choice of beverage, Ilse whipped out a little black notebook and pen, starting to furiously scribble away in it.
“So you like tea, do you not drink coffee?”
“I don’t mind it, I just prefer tea.”
You moved to sit down, however your posture remained fairly tense.
“What made you transfer to client consultation then?”
“I just fancied a change of pace.” You mused, starting to relax a little now the initial excitement of meeting a new team member seemed to be wearing off and everyone was starting to calm down.
“Interesting, well you’ll find it quiet up here for the first couple of weeks. Initially we don’t get much work until mid January, new year and all that.”
You looked up and smiled when Nanaba placed a cup of fresh tea down in front of you and moved to the seat next to you.
“So f/n have you met any of the other client consultants yet?” Asked Luke, trying to sneak a peek at Ilse’s notebook.
“Not yet, but I met one of the other managers, Flagon I think his name is.”
“Oh that asshole!”
Your eyes widened, clearly the man wasn’t very popular.
“Watch yourself around him.” Warned Nickolas. “He thinks he’s better than everyone else.”
“Yeah Nanaba already warned me about him.” You frowned, wincing slightly at the memory of the way he had leered at you earlier.
“Nah it’s the new deputy manager you need to watch out for.” Scoffed Ilse, nudging Luke in the ribs and hiding her notes. “He’s a lot worse than Flagon when it comes to having an attitude complex.”
“Really? Who might that be then?”
“Levi Ackerman.” Said Nanaba evenly. “He’s just been promoted, he’s in the same boat as you actually, it’s his first day in a new position.”
“Hmm,the name doesn’t sound familiar...what’s he like?”
“Well he’s short, black hair, grey eyes, frowns a lot and calls everyone younger than him a brat.”
Your brows furrowed, you remembered bumping into a short man matching that description when making your way over to Nanaba’s desk, he’d even called you a brat.
“Oh I think I might have already had the pleasure of meeting him.” You snorted, putting a sarcastic emphasis on the word “pleasure.”
“Yeah well, you’ll know when you see him. Just don’t make eye contact and whatever you do...don’t touch him! Even if it’s accidentally brushing past him, he’ll murder you!”
You gulped and reached for your tea, not sure whether your new team mates were being serious or just trying to wind you up.
“Don’t worry, you’ll rarely see him.” Smiled Nanaba. “Just keep your head down, work hard and you’ll be fine.”
You swallowed hard and nodded, trying to hide your nervousness behind a smile and desperately hoping that you would soon learn to fit in with your new colleagues.
After Erwin’s start of year briefing, Levi decided to make a hasty retreat back to his office to start going over the stack of paperwork he had been given, but it seemed that Hanji had other ideas.
“Wait up Shorty!” She called, chasing after him and finally managing to catch up with him as he reached his office.
“What do you want Four Eyes?” He asked irritably, unlocking the door.
“You look like you need to offload, come to the canteen I’ll get you a cup of tea.”
“Leave me alone!”
“You need to stop bottling everything up, it’s not good for you.” She said sternly, noting the dark circles under his eyes. “Seriously, just talk to me.”
Levi growled in annoyance, he normally hated opening up to people when something was bothering him, even his own mother had trouble getting him to tell her if something was wrong.
He soon found himself remembering that he wanted to meet up with her for lunch to discuss his recent troubling nocturnal visions, maybe getting it off his chest now wouldn't be such a bad thing.
“Great, dump that paperwork in your office and let’s go!” She smiled enthusiastically.
Upon reaching the canteen Hanji made her way over to the serving hatch while Levi went to find them a table in the far corner away from everyone else.
“So what’s on your mind?” She questioned, placing a cup of black tea down in front of him and taking a seat. “Is everything okay with your mother? She’s not gotten worse has she?”
“I won’t know until this afternoon.” Shrugged the raven haired male, his steel eyed gaze focusing on the large window next to him that provided a rather nice view of the city below.
“So what’s wrong?”
Turning back to face her, Levi folded his arms and looked into her puppy brown eyes.
“Do you still believe in all the reincarnation bullshit?”
“Hmm, fascinating.” She mused, placing her elbows on the metal table and resting her chin on her palms, observing him intently. “You normally hate listening to my theories on that subject, what’s changed your mind?”
“If you tell anyone about this…”
“I won’t tell a soul, cross my heart and hope to die!”
“Tch...for the past couple of weeks I’ve been having this fucked up dream.” He began, keeping his voice low. “I’ve no idea what the hell is going on, but the clothes I’m wearing in it are like something out of a fantasy tale.”
Hanji frowned but remained silent.
“There’s this gear that I wear, it fires grapple lines and I can fly through the air taking out these stupid ugly looking things called Titans with dual wielding blades.”
He paused for a moment, his brows furrowing at the look of intense concentration on the bespectacled brunette’s face. She was practically hanging on his every word.
“Anyway I come across this woman, she’s wearing the same clothes and gear as me...but she’s dying.”
“Can you describe her to me?”
“She’s young, h/l h/c hair, e/c eyes a little taller/shorter than me...it feels like I had some sort of connection to her.”
“So what happens to her?”
“She asks me if I believe in reincarnation and then says she’ll wait for me in her next life, after that...she dies.”
Hanji blinked rapidly, however the rest of her body remained motionless as her brain processed the information it was currently being fed.
“How long have you been having this dream?” She finally asked, reaching for her cup of coffee.
“About two weeks.” Shrugged Levi.
“Does it change or is it always the same?”
“No it doesn’t change, anyway you’re supposed to believe in all this crap, so what does it mean?”
“Hmm, I’m not entirely sure.” She mused, raising the pristine white cup to her lips and savouring the hot black liquid contained within it. “You say you felt a connection to this person though, what do you mean by that and does she have a name?”
“How the fuck should I know? It’s just a dream!”
“Is it though Levi?” Questioned Hanji in a low tone. “I think I should look into this further, this is fascinating!”
“Tch, whatever.” He snorted, gripping the rim of his teacup with his fingertips.
“You still haven’t told me if this mystery woman has a name.”
“F/n.” He muttered. “Her name was f/n.”
As promised by your colleagues, the work day proved to be very slow indeed.
After lunch you had spent the afternoon continuing to chase up leads and clients from the previous year, following up on paperwork and generally just being given rather boring donkey work.
Still you expected it to be slow since it was the first day back after the festive period, so everyone was pretty much just settling back into a normal routine.
Logging out of your computer you grabbed your jacket from the back of your chair and made your way over to the doors leading to the stairs, however before you could leave a shrill voice called out your name.
Turning around you smiled warmly at the bespectacled brunette rushing towards you.
“Hey Hanji, everything okay?”
“Yeah, just wondered if you fancied an after work drink.” She smiled, coming to a halt next to you.
“Sorry, I would love to but I already promised my dad I would go straight home and help him sort out his computer. You know how hopeless he is when it comes to technology.”
“What’s he done now?” She giggled, holding the door open for you.
“You mean what hasn’t he done?”
“Hmm, you make a valid point. So did you enjoy your first day in your new position?”
“It was a little slower than expected to be honest.” You admitted with a shrug as the two of you made your way down the stairs, failing to notice the way Hanji was currently scrutinizing you.
Her puppy brown eyes narrowed behind her oval shaped glasses, taking in every little detail of your person her mind started to wander back to her earlier conversation with Levi.
“F/n, how long have we known each other?” She inquired.
“Since I was a teenager, you were a friend of my mother from school.” You furrowed your brows and stopped, regarding her suspiciously. “Why are you suddenly asking me this?”
“Oh no reason.” She shrugged nonchalantly. “I was just reminiscing is all. I was had a conversation with a friend earlier and it got me thinking, what are your thoughts on the idea of having past lives and reincarnation?”
“You still believe in all that huh?”
“Are you saying you don’t?”
You started descending the stairs again, humming thoughtfully.
“I believe if it can be proved with concrete evidence then it’s real.”
“You’re being stranger than usual Hanji, what’s going on?”
Hanji stopped suddenly when you spun around to face her, raising an eyebrow and folding your arms.
“I was just talking to a friend like I said and the subject came up, I’m thinking of doing some more research into it.”
“Well you have always found that kind of thing interesting.”
Hanji fought back a sigh of relief when you opened the door at the bottom of the stairs and made your way across the polished ceramic tile floor of the lobby to the main reception desk to sign out for the day.
“So you don’t believe in it then?”
“Like I said, if it can be proved with concrete evidence then it’s real.”
This response got Hanji thinking.
The fact that when Levi had described the woman in his dream, she had matched your description and even shared your first name had started to make the gears in her brain turn.
Truth be told, she had also had similar dreams to the one her colleague had currently been experiencing. Hers however involved her being an inquisitive scientist that studied the creatures Levi claimed to have killed, but there were no strong connections to any one person in particular. There was however a strong bond of friendship and camaraderie with many people, conveniently several of them were people she currently knew and worked with, but when she tried to voice this they all just brushed her off as being crazy.
Still, in the back of her mind she couldn’t help but wonder if there was actually any truth to the whole theory of reincarnation actually existing, especially since hearing about Levi’s recurring dream...this certainly warranted further investigation.
“Hey Hanji, are you going to stand there all night or what?”
Blinking rapidly she looked to her right and saw you stood a few feet away with your head cocked to one side and your hands on your hips.
“Are you okay? You completely spaced out!”
“Oh yes I’m fine.” She smiled, signing out and making her way over to you. “Just the old grey matter overworking itself again.”
“You really don’t give up when you get something in your head do you?”
“Nope, I don’t!”
You rolled your eyes as the two of you made your way out of the building and into the car park.
“Well, have fun with your research. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Hanji’s brows furrowed as she watched you head over to your car, she couldn’t help but think that there was every possibility that you were indeed the person from Levi’s dream...all she had to do was prove it.
After a fairly boring day at work, Levi finally arrived home.
“So you’re back then?” Remarked Kenny from the kitchen where he was currently reading the newspaper, not bothering to look up when Levi entered.
“Where’s my mother?” He questioned bluntly, not bothering to afford his uncle any form of greeting.
They may have been family, but that didn’t mean that they were particularly close.
Kenny had only come back on the scene since finding out about Kuchel’s illness, something which had annoyed Levi greatly.
Before that, he was lucky if he saw his uncle once or twice a year. Yes he was grateful that he had decided to stick around and help look after her, but that didn’t mean that the two of them were going to start bonding anytime soon.
“She’s upstairs resting.” Shrugged the older male, turning the page and reaching for a small glass of whiskey, raising it to his lips and knocking it back in one go.
Levi furrowed his brows and nodded, the fact that Kenny was drinking so early in the evening wasn’t a good sign.
Making his way upstairs, he approached his mother’s bedroom and knocked on the door, a loud hum of the oxygen machine could clearly be heard on the other side.
Kuchel was currently sat up in the bed reading with a nasal cannula on her face, she smiled brightly upon seeing her son.
“Levi, how was your first day back?”
“What did the doctors say?” He asked, completely ignoring her question.
Kuchel sighed and patted the bed, averting her gaze while motioning for him to sit down.
“It’s bad news I’m afraid Sweetheart...it’s progressed to stage four.”
“That it’s spread to my other lung.”
Levi swallowed hard, this would go a long way to explaining the increased shortness of breath she’d been experiencing recently after doing anything too strenuous.
“So is there anything that can be done?”
“Since it’s still impossible to operate, they’re going to increase the amount of chemotherapy sessions I’m having and see what happens, apart from that I have to spend an extra couple of hours a day having oxygen and try to rest as much as possible.” She replied, gesturing to the machine at the side of her bed.
Kuchel reached for his hand and held it tightly, sadness shining in her soft grey eyes.
“Maybe stronger doses and having them more frequently will help.”
Levi however looked unconvinced by his mother’s optimism, in his experience it was always best to prepare for the worst case scenario.
“Anyway, you haven’t answered my question.” She continued, releasing his hand. “How was your first day back at work in your new position?”
“Slow.” He shrugged. “Nothing but a meeting and catching up on last year's paperwork.”
“Well I’m sure it will pick up eventually, I’ve left some dinner in the oven for you.”
Levi nodded and stood up to leave, however he was soon stopped by his mother reaching out and taking his hand again.
“Levi...go easy on Kenny when you go back downstairs, he’s taking this news quite hard too.”
Letting him go she smiled and picked up her book, watching him leave the room and quietly close the door behind him.
Exiting Kuchel’s bedroom, Levi clicked his tongue thoughtfully.
He’d been worried that things wouldn’t go well at the hospital and now his fears had been confirmed, his stress increased tenfold.
This was the last thing he needed on top of the recurring dreams that had been disrupting his sleep night after night for the past two weeks. Still, thanks to this recent revelation about his mother’s deteriorating health, he wouldn’t need to worry about the mysterious woman haunting his dreams that night.
Chances were he was going to be so stressed that sleep would evade him completely, although he wasn’t entirely sure if that was a good thing or not.
Chapter 4: The soulmate conspiracy
January soon came and went in the blink of an eye, bringing with it an air of change for everyone who worked at Survey Corps.
Business slowly picked up as new clients started to approach them with a view to setting up contracts, while others sought to renew existing ones.
Levi knew he should’ve been grateful that the increase in work was going to lead to more overtime, which would be more than needed to help cover the mounting medical bills now owing to his mother needing more treatment.
Although the stress of it all was now starting to take its toll on him, along with other matters...
Not only was seeing his mother being taken to the city hospital for more intense rounds of chemotherapy weighing heavy on his mind, but the strange dreams that plagued his sleep were also starting to make him think that he was going crazy.
The nocturnal visions had now changed to show a different view, a time when he and this mysterious young woman who he seemed to have a connection with first met.
The worst part for him was that his friend and colleague Hanji was now appearing in them, it was bad enough she wound him up to high hell at work without invading his dreams too!
“Hey Shorty, are you still awake?”
The raven haired male blinked rapidly and jerked his head up from looking at the computer screen in front of him, finding himself staring at a certain bespectacled brunette sat in the plush leather seat on the other side of his desk.
“Tch, what are you babbling on about now?”
“Were you not listening to a word I said?” Questioned Hanji, her brows furrowing as she fiddled with the papers in her lap.
Rolling his eyes Levi sat back in his chair and folded his arms, earning him a sigh from his female co-worker.
“I’ll take that as a no, anyway as I was saying. I’ve been researching the stuff you told me about these weird dreams you keep having and it makes for pretty fascinating reading!”
“Not now Four Eyes.” Groaned Levi, casting a quick glance to the pile of paperwork stacked neatly in the rack to his left. “We’ll discuss it later.”
“Oh come on!” Protested Hanji. “Aren’t you a little bit curious as to what I’ve found out? We haven’t spoken about this since you first told me about it!”
“If it shuts you up we’ll talk about it later, now get out I’m busy!”
“Okay great, I’ll come and get you at lunch time okay?”
“Fine, just leave!”
“See ya later then” She smiled happily, standing from her seat and making her way towards the door.
“Tch, finally!” Grunted Levi, relief flooding through him as the door closed behind her.
However a small part of him was intrigued to hear what she had found and he was hopeful that he may finally get some answers as to who this mystery woman was and why she was haunting his dreams
Exiting Levi’s office, Hanji made her way down the corridor back towards the main office space where the client consultants were working.
A playful smile spread across her face as she spotted a familiar young woman with h/l h/c hair sat at her desk typing away with a serious look in her e/c eyes.
Being careful to keep the papers she had been carrying hidden so that the contents couldn’t be seen, she quickened her pace and made her way over to your work station.
“Good Morning f/n!” She beamed, gaining your immediate attention.
“Morning Hanji, how’s it going?” You answered with a small smile, momentarily looking up at her before returning to your current task.
“Oh so, so.” She mused, not bothering to fight back the sly grin on her face when her gaze flicked down the the first document she was holding and then back to you. “Can’t complain really.”
“So what can I do for you?”
“Nothing really, just wanted to check how you were settling in.”
“Pretty good thanks.” You replied, nodding and finishing the document you were currently working on. “I get on well with Nanaba and the rest of my team, Ilse and Luke are pretty funny when they start sniping at each other and Nickolas is pretty decent eye candy.”
“Is he now?” Giggled the bespectacled brunette, her grin widening marginally. “Well I can think of someone a little better if it’s eye candy you’re after, who knows you might even fancy a nibble?”
You laughed and sat back in your seat folding your arms, raising an eyebrow at her.
“Oh yeah? Who might that be then?”
“My friend Levi, he sounds like he’d be your type.”
“Levi huh?” Your smile instantly disappeared, a look of sheer horror replacing it. “You don’t mean Levi Ackerman do you? Please tell me you’re joking?”
“Whoa don’t judge too soon, you’ve not met him yet!”
“Oh I had the pleasure last month.” You grimaced, remembering how he had nearly bumped into you and then rudely called you a brat before telling you to watch where you were going.
Thankfully you hadn’t really seen him since except briefly in passing on the way to the canteen for lunch since you had to pass his office to get there, much to your relief however the two of you hadn’t gotten the chance to “bump into each other” again.
“So what do you think of him?”
“He’d be a lot more attractive if he wasn’t rude asshole!”
“F/n!” Hanji was mortified by this response, albeit a little amused that you had such a low opinion of him. Although Levi didn’t exactly create a good first impression with his attitude towards others.
“Okay, he's a good looking rude asshole, is that better?” You scoffed, unfolding your arms and preparing to print off the document you’d been working on when you noticed a familiar black haired woman in a navy blue trouser suit carrying a notebook walking towards you.
“Yes much better.” Nodded Hanji. “So if I were to try and set you up on a date with…”
“You dare and I will divulge every dirty little fantasy you ever told me to Mr Smith, I’m sure he’d be interested to know how infatuated you are with his and I quote "round firm peach like ass that you wouldn't mind taking a bite out of!" Seriously Hanji have you no shame?"
“You wouldn’t!” She gasped in horror, clutching her papers tighter to her chest.
“Try me!” You grinned evilly, pressing the print button and standing up from your seat.
“So what “dirty little fantasies” might these be then?” Asked Ilse, quickly opening her notebook and looking for a blank page before drawing her pen and poising it ready to start writing.
Your evil grin widened, silently daring Hanji to speak again.
“You’re as bad as your mother!” Snorted the bespectacled brunette indignantly. “You win this round young lady, but I’ll be back!”
“Bye!” You giggled, waving innocently before turning to look at Ilse. “What can I do for you?”
“Nanaba wants to know if you’ve finished typing up the new MP contract yet.” Said Ilse, putting her notebook and pen back into her trouser pocket.
“Just about to print it.”
“Okay great, I’ll let her know. By the way it’s nearly time for our morning coffee break, are you joining us?”
“Yeah sure, I’ll be there as soon as I’m done.”
Ilse nodded and walked off back towards her desk, leaving you to make your way over to the printer to collect your work.
“Oh that cheeky little…” Muttered Hanji under her breath, returning to her office and finding a young nervous looking male arranging her paperwork for the day.
His hazel eyes widened when he heard the door open and close, before watching Hanji make her way over to the desk.
“Everything okay?” He questioned worriedly when she slumped down in her chair.
“Ah yes fine.” She smiled. “Moblit, be a sweetheart and make me a coffee would you?”
Once he had left, she started to look through the paperwork she had been so protectively carrying.
It was certainly nothing to do with her work as everyone else had probably assumed, but to do with her reincarnation research that she had spent the last month putting together.
Endless hours of working away in the city library studying history books and internet articles regarding the strange dream Levi had told her about, had now resulted in some positively wonderful findings that only served to strengthen her belief in rebirth from a past life.
Pushing her glasses further up her nose she carefully studied the first page she had printed off from the library computer, she didn’t have a lot to do until after lunch and this was the first time she’d managed to go through her most recent findings.
It was a photograph of an oil painting which was said to have been found in the basement of an old castle which had lay in ruins outside the city of Trost for several centuries before finally being unearthed.
The painting had been restored and put on display in the city’s museum roughly three years ago, it showed a man and woman dressed in what at the time would’ve been considered military attire.
It consisted of the same white trousers, brown boots and jackets with the strange harnesses and silver gear attached that Levi had mentioned from his dream.
The man was short with raven hair and piercing grey eyes, a frown playing upon his handsome pale features. While the woman, a tall/short h/l h/c haired woman with soft e/c eyes and a neutral look on her face stood beside him.
Hanji hummed thoughtfully and turned her attention to the written article underneath.
“Captain Levi Ackerman, a highly decorated officer and f/n l/n of the Weapons Development Branch. Two of the most notable members of the Survey Corps regiment.”
“This is so fascinating.” She said to herself, continuing to look through the papers until she came across another photograph, this time it was of a rough ink sketch of a group of soldiers.
Her puppy brown eyes widened marginally when she saw herself, Erwin and even Mike wearing the same uniform that had been shown in the portrait. Once again, you and Levi were shown alongside them, only this time you were all gathered around a large table studying some sort of wooden barrel.
Upon closer inspection, Hanji noticed that it appeared to be spring loaded with barbed hooks attached to thick steel wires.
Humming thoughtfully she once again turned her attention to the article below and began to read.
“F/n l/n and Section Commander Hanji Zoe were responsible for creating the first spring loaded titan traps, a device used to capture small titans and use them for the purpose of experimentation to learn more about them. This trap's first successful capture attempt was on the twenty seventh expedition in the year 844 and after being mass produced, was later approved for regular use by Commander Erwin Smith.”
The door to the office opened, making Hanji jump and quickly hide her papers in the top drawer of her desk as Moblit walked in, carrying two cups of coffee.
“Here you go.” He said evenly, placing one down in front of her before sitting down in the seat opposite hers with his own. “Is everything okay? You look a little pale.”
“Oh yes fine my dear!” Quipped Hanji, her gaze momentarily flicking to the top drawer before focusing on her personal assistant again. “Everything is just fine!”
Moblit nodded and reached for his coffee, failing to notice to way Hanji nervously bit her lip and held back a sly smile at her recent discovery…
“Hey guys, how’s it going?” You smiled, entering the break room and making your way over to where Ilse and Luke were currently sat arguing.
“Ah come on, you know you love me really!” Smirked Luke, once again trying to sneak a peek at what Ilse was jotting down in her notebook.
“For the last time, keep your nose out of things that don’t concern you!” She snapped, shoving him away and closing the little black book before motioning to a cup on the table. “By the way f/n, there’s a cup of tea here for you.”
“Honestly don’t you two ever grow up?” Snorted another voice from over by the sink, earning everyone’s immediate attention and also making you internally cringe.
“Aw what’s up Flagon?” Snickered Luke, brushing his long bangs out of his face. “Did you not get laid at the weekend?”
Flagon Turret narrowed his hazel eyes and bared his teeth, clearly annoyed by his colleagues snide remark.
“Really Siss? Go get a damned haircut, you look like a drag queen!”
“I’d rather look like a drag queen than your scraggy ass!” He shot back, before effeminately following it up with a rather bitchy retort of his own. “Do you even use conditioner on that straw like mess?”
You quickly slapped a hand across your mouth, desperately trying to muffle the laughter that was threatening to escape your lips, quickly becoming serious again once Flagon turned his attention to you and raised an eyebrow. He was obviously not impressed that he was being made a fool of by you and your colleagues.
“I wouldn’t encourage him if I were you.” Warned Flagon, folding his arms and staring down his nose at you, making you feel very uncomfortable. Raising his voice he made sure that all three of you were able to hear him loud and clear. “Just because you’re not on my team, doesn’t mean I can’t discipline you!”
“Not without consulting me first you can’t!”
Flagon turned towards the door, muttering something inaudible under his breath when he saw Nanaba standing there.
“What seems to be the problem here?” She inquired, stepping into the break room.
“Ah Flagon’s just jealous of my magnificent hair!” Smiled Luke, flicking his head back and letting his long bangs swish over his shoulders.
“Oh yes darling, absolutely fabulous!” You giggled, unable to help yourself.
“Alright that’s enough.” Said Nanaba sternly, focusing her full attention on you. “Did you manage to get that MP contract finished ready to send out this afternoon?”
“Already in the outbox tray ready for the post staff to pick up.” You smiled confidently.
“Well at least you have one person on your team who knows how to do their damned job!” Scoffed Flagon, exiting the break room and heading back into the main work area.
“Geez what’s rattled his cage?” You asked worriedly, taking a seat next to Ilse.
“Ignore him, he’s just being his usual arrogant self.” Shrugged the dark haired woman.
Deciding to heed her advice you simply rolled your eyes and reached for your cup of tea, no doubt you would have another “pleasant” encounter with the obnoxious manager at some point or another, although you would prefer to keep your distance if that was at all possible.
Even being around the infamously rude Levi Ackerman sounded more appealing to you than being forced to share the same space as Flagon!
By lunch time, Levi’s mood had gone rapidly downhill.
He’d not long gotten off the phone with a very irate Kenny when Hanji came knocking on his door, not so subtly reminding him that she wanted to discuss his nocturnal activities.
“What do you want?” He growled, looking towards the door when he heard several sharp knocks on it.
“It’s me Shorty, you told me we’d discuss my discoveries over lunch!” Came Hanji’s cheerful voice through the wooden barrier separating them.
Rolling his eyes, Levi adjusted his tie and retrieved his jacket from the back of his chair before making his way over to the door. Upon opening it he was greeted by Hanji’s smiling face, which was the last thing he wanted to see given how he was currently feeling.
“Is everything okay?” She questioned worriedly, her smile instantly disappearing to be replaced by a look of concern.
“Tch, let’s get this over with.”
“Hold up Levi.” Said Hanji sternly, placing her hands on his shoulders and looking into his cold grey eyes. “Has something happened to your mother? She’s having another session of chemotherapy today isn’t she?”
“She’s just arrived back home, it’s taken more of a toll on her than usual because they’ve started giving her more intense treatment.” He muttered, walking away towards the canteen.
“I’m sorry.” Said Hanji softly. “Look if you’re not up to this we can do it another time.”
“No, I want answers.”
“Alright, come on. I’ll get you a cup of tea.”
Upon reaching the canteen, Levi immediately headed over for a quiet corner away from everyone else while Hanji went to the serving hatch to get them both a drink.
Most of the workforce were already having lunch and enjoying a catch up with their colleagues, so thankfully none of them seemed to pay him any attention as he patiently waited for Hanji to join him.
Leaning back in his seat and folding his arms he stared over at the main door as a group of rowdy workers entered and made their way to a table not too far away from where he was sitting.
“Tch, noisy brats!” He muttered under his breath.
Hanji soon returned and placed a cup of tea down in front of him before taking a seat next to him and handing over the stack of papers containing her findings.
“I’ve already had a quick look through these myself.” She explained, her puppy brown eyes fixed on her friend. “It’s absolutely fascinating and the stuff in here just serves to further fuel my belief in reincarnation, I dare anyone to deny it after seeing this!”
Levi rolled his eyes and started to look through the first document, his cold grey eyes widening visibly when he saw the old portrait and found himself staring back at him.
“Did you Photoshop this or something?” He questioned, watching her reaction carefully for any sign that she was trying to wind him up.
“Levi Ackerman, how dare you make such an accusation!”
“Tch, considering you get off on annoying me I wouldn’t put it past you!”
“No I haven’t tampered with it at all.” She snapped. “This is all stuff I found in the library archive last night, so is it ringing any bells in that overworked brain of yours?”
Swallowing hard Levi turned back to the photograph and studied it hard, taking in all the small details.
The uniform “he” appeared to be wearing was exactly the same as in his dreams, right down to the white cravat around his neck.
Turning his gaze to the woman stood next to him his breath almost caught in his throat, it was her...the one who died in his arms every night the dream haunted him.
“Well?” Inquired Hanji. “It’s her isn’t it? It’s f/n?”
“Yeah, this is the woman I keep seeing.”
A manic grin slowly spread across Hanji’s face, quickly snatching up the pile of papers Levi wasn’t holding she started to sift through them.
“Here read this.” She said, thrusting one of them towards him and almost smacking him in the face with it.
“Tch calm down Shitty Glasses.” He snorted, taking it from her and starting to read through it.
“F/n l/n joined the Survey Corps at sixteen years of age.”
“This has to be made up!” He scoffed.
“Coincidence?” Giggled Hanji. “I think not! Keep reading.”
“She was a member of the Weapons Development Branch of the Corps for eight years until her death. During that time she helped Science Officer...Hanji Zoe…”
“You’re starting to become interested now aren’t you?”
Rolling his eyes, Levi continued to read the article.
“To develop the first trap for capturing titans without sustaining human casualties.
Little is known about her personal life outside the Corps, however it is recorded that she became involved in a relationship with Captain Levi Ackerman.
The two were due to marry, unfortunately this never came to pass as she died a month before their wedding.”
“Tragic isn’t it?” Sighed Hanji sadly. “She was so young. Still, this must be why you say you feel a connection to her in your dream, the two of you were in love.”
Below the short personal information section describing the young scouts short life was a detailed portrait of her.
She was exactly the way Levi saw her in his dreams, h/l h/c hair neatly styled into a ponytail and e/c eyes that held a sense of warmth and compassion.
“If all of this is true and I am a reincarnation of a military captain from fuck knows how many years ago.” Remarked the raven haired male, continuing to stare at the piece of paper. “Then why have I never had these dreams, memories or whatever they are before?”
“Ah a very good question!” Smiled the bespectacled knowingly, once again going through her papers. “I actually looked into that as well. You say these dreams started last year right?”
“Well according to a friend of mine who studies reincarnation, our lives are predetermined by fate. We are always born to the same parents, we have the same siblings if any, but life takes us on a different path.”
“Get to the point already!” Groaned Levi, reaching for his tea and gripping the pristine white cup by its rim with his fingertips.
“Most people find that their memories of their past life are triggered by meeting someone of great significance in the one they’re currently living...their soulmate.”
Levi frowned and remained silent, sipping his tea and watching her closely.
“These memories usually reside within a person’s subconsciousness and awaken at the age they were when they met their soulmate in their previous life, so you must now be at the age you were when you met f/n.”
Levi put his cup down and rested his elbow on the table, placing his chin on his palm and furrowing his brows thoughtfully.
This strange dream had started appearing from the day he turned twentyfive back in December, so if what Hanji was saying was indeed true...then did that mean that his “soulmate” was somewhere in this world waiting for him like she had promised?
“Hey Shorty, you still with me?” Asked Hanji, snapping him out of his thoughts.
“Oh good you’re still awake, there’s more.”
“Get on with it then.”
“The dream will continue to come to you until you finally come into contact your soulmate again, after that it will start to change. Some people have reported having flashbacks triggered by being in close proximity to their soulmate.”
“Tch, great so I’m stuck with these stupid dreams until my “soulmate” appears.” He scoffed, clearly still not convinced that Hanji was telling the whole truth.
In fact he was so unconvinced by what he was being told that he failed to notice the sly grin creeping across the bespectacled brunettes face when a certain young female and her co-workers entered the canteen...
Chapter 5: A blast from the past
Survey Corps Headquarters,
Captain Levi Ackerman folded his arms and leaned back in his seat, his cold grey eyes narrowing as he listened to Section Commander Hanji Zoe babbling away about the latest creation the Weapons Development Department scouts were working on.
“Seriously Erwin, if we get the funding for this from the higher ups, catching titans and studying them will be a lot easier.” She said excitedly, pointing to the large sheet of paper displaying the blueprints for a new titan capturing device. “All we need to do is iron out the kinks and we can build a prototype to take on an expedition for testing.”
Commander Erwin Smith furrowed his bushy brows and leaned over the table, scrutinizing the plans closely.
“It is an interesting concept.” He mused thoughtfully, his icy blue eyes turning to the gaze of a young female scout stood on Hanji’s left. “However you mentioned a drawback to this weapon.”
“The only problem we’re having with this is finding a way launch the spears with enough speed to pierce the titan’s flesh effectively Sir.” She explained. “If I may?”
Erwin nodded and sat back, gesturing for her to continue.
Moving forward and turning her attention to the blueprints, she brushed a lock of stray h/c hair back behind her left ear and cleared her throat.
“We have worked out that pressurized gas, such as the fuel used for ODM Gear would be the most effective means of propulsion. However it would need to be stored at a much higher pressure since the spears would need to penetrate the flesh deep enough for the barbed tips to be of any use.”
“I see.” Replied Erwin, looking up to face her. “How much higher?”
“Well this is the tricky part Sir, we would actually need a subject to run tests on once we’ve built the prototype.”
“Tch, so you’re saying you want us to risk our lives capturing a titan for you to try this weapon out on it?” Scoffed Levi, focusing on her with a harsh glare.
“I...erm…” The scout flinched and looked to Hanji for help, her e/c eyes pleading for her to step in.
“Not at all, I actually have a test subject already lined up for this particular experiment.” Smiled Hanji knowingly. “I’m nearly done with the four meter titan we captured on the last expedition, I’m sure Alfie won’t mind helping us out...once we secure permission to start building a prototype from the higher ups of course.”
Erwin narrowed his eyes and rested his elbows on the hard wooden surface of the desk, interlinking his fingers, regarding the blueprints for a moment before looking back up to face the nervous young scout.
“If I manage to secure the approval of the higher ups, how soon would you be able to build this prototype?”
The female scout lowered her gaze to the desk, scrutinizing the blueprints for a moment and muttering under her breath before looking at the commander again.
“A month Sir, two at the most. Provided we still have Section Commander Hanji’s test subject at our disposal, we can begin the process of testing and calculating the pressure needed to make it operate at maximum efficiency as soon as it’s built.”
“Huh, not bad.” Remarked Levi, raising his head slightly. “You talk quite the talk, but the big question is can you pull this off?”
“We’ll certainly do our best Sir.”
“Have a copy of these plans on my desk by the end of duty today.” Said Erwin evenly. “I will present them to the higher ups tomorrow.”
“Yes Sir!” The young female saluted, watching as Levi and Erwin stood from their seats.
“This meeting is concluded, good work…” The commander paused and raised his bushy eyebrows, waiting for the young scout to divulge her name.
“F/n Ln Sir.”
“Levi are you okay?”
“Hmm?” Levi blinked rapidly and looked up from his laptop, meeting a pair of concerned soft grey eyes.
What the hell was going on? Was that some sort of dream or a hallucination?
Either way it had felt so real that he almost believed he was back wherever and whenever that was.
“Sweetheart what’s wrong?” Asked Kuchel worriedly, a deep frown settling on her face. “I’ve been trying to get your attention for the past ten minutes and you completely blanked me, it was almost like you were in some sort of trance.”
“Heh, yeah if you’d have stared any harder at that laptop you could’ve telepathically fried it!” Snorted Kenny, a sinister looking smirk playing on his lips.
“Would you give us a moment?” Asked Kuchel, nodding her head towards the kitchen door.
Rolling his eyes, Kenny picked up his glass of whiskey and left the room, closing the door behind him.
Once she was certain her brother was gone, she moved to sit down next to Levi and gently closed the laptop, determined to make sure she had his full attention.
“Levi talk to me, what’s going on with you recently?”
“I’m fine.” Muttered Levi, his brows furrowing as he held his mother’s gaze.
“Levi Ackerman, don’t you dare lie to me!” She snapped, her usually soft eyes turning hard. “You’ve not been sleeping properly and you’re quieter than usual, now tell me what’s going on.”
The raven haired male sighed and rubbed a hand over his eyes.
How the hell was he supposed to explain the dreams he was having, Hanji’s research into reincarnation and the strange...what he assumed was a flashback of his old life he had just experienced, to his mother without sounding like a lunatic?
“Talk to me Sweetheart.” She pressed on, clearly concerned by his silence. “Are you coping with your new position?”
“I’m still getting a feel for it.” He replied, deciding to change the subject and hoping she wouldn’t question him further. “Kenny said that your first session with the more intense treatment affected you quite badly.”
Nodding sadly and pulling him into a loving embrace, Kuchel kissed his forehead before resting her chin on his crown and stroking her slender fingers through his raven hair.
“It’s going to take some getting used to yes.” She sighed, tears welling in her eyes at the thought of having to repeat the process again next month. “Kenny shouldn’t have called you at work though, I told him to wait until you came home to let you know how it went, but he wouldn’t listen to me.”
“When is the next medical bill due?”
“Three days from now, Kenny’s already put up his part of it.”
“I’ll sort it now.” He replied, pulling away and opening his laptop.
“Help me upstairs first please.” She smiled, gently reaching out and caressing his cheek.
Closing his laptop again, he carefully put it back into its bag and slung it over his shoulder before following his mother out to the hallway.
“Kenny I’m going upstairs for the night, I’m still not feeling right.” Called Kuchel.
“Yeah sure, take it easy.” Came the reply a moment later.
Wrapping an arm around Levi’s shoulders she allowed him to help her up the stairs, stopping to catch her breath when she reached the top before entering her bedroom.
“I’ll leave you to it, I still have some work to do.” Said Levi softly, helping her get comfortable in bed before handing her the nasal cannula and turning on the oxygen machine.
“Alright, just try not to stay up too late and please try not to stress so much over me, things might still change.” She said with a smile. “If things do get too much then just come and talk to me. I’m your mother, it’s my job to listen to your problems and try to help.”
“Yeah I know.” He replied, leaving the room and quietly closing the door behind him, failing to notice the sad shake of her head as she picked up her book and leaned back against the pillows.
Upon entering his bedroom, Levi set the laptop up on his desk and plugged it in to charge.
His natural frown deepened slightly when he saw a stack of papers sticking out of one of the side pockets of his laptop bag, wondering if he should maybe have a better look at them.
These particular documents were nothing to do with his work however, they were Hanji’s reincarnation notes which they had briefly gone through at lunch time.
Part of him still had trouble believing what she was showing him, some of the information was just a little too coincidental for his liking.
“Tch, damn Four Eyes!” He muttered, pulling out the stack of documents and looking through them again.
His cold grey eyes narrowed slightly when he noticed the link to the website she had used to print them off from at the bottom of the page, maybe seeing it for himself at the actual source would quash any doubts he had about the legitimacy of this research?
Opening a new window on the laptop, he typed the link into the search bar and hit the enter button.
A moment later the screen changed to show the article that Hanji had printed off, once again found himself staring at the photograph of himself standing beside the young woman, both wearing the military uniform from his dream and recent flashback.
“Shit, so that idiot wasn’t trying to mess with my head after all.”
You sat back on the sofa and picked up your cup of tea, cocking your head to one side when you caught Hanji smirking at you over the top of her cup.
She'd managed to convince you to pop round to her apartment for a catch up after work and the two of you were currently enjoying a cup of tea and some cake she'd picked up from her favourite bakery.
“How long are you going to keep staring at me like that?”
“Hanji what’s going on?” You demanded, feeling rather annoyed as you helped yourself to another slice of the delicious cream sponge.
She’d been acting stranger than usual around you all afternoon and to be perfectly honest, it was now starting to make you very uncomfortable.
“Sorry Sweetie, I was just thinking how much you remind me of your mother.” She let out a rather embarrassed laugh, shaking her head. “You’re so much like her it’s actually terrifying, sometimes I forget that you’re not her.”
You sighed deeply, deciding you no longer wanted another slice of cake.
“I still think about her you know.” Said Hanji with a sad smile. “I didn’t even realize she’d fallen pregnant and got married, then when I found out that she…”
You lowered your gaze and bit your lip.
Your mother had fallen pregnant with you at sixteen years of age and rushed into marrying your father to appease her strictly traditional family.
Unfortunately six years later she and your maternal grandparents were killed in a car crash, leaving your father to bring you up alone.
“You weren’t to know.” You said softly, looking into her puppy brown eyes. “Besides, you were off at college and then university, I’m sure she never held it against you. My father certainly doesn’t.”
“Yeah your father’s a good man.” Nodded Hanji. “He certainly did a good job of raising you. He was also kind to me when I first got back in contact again after finding out what had happened.”
“Yeah I still remember our first meeting.” You giggled, sipping your tea. “Dad introduced you as an old friend of my mum, the next thing you’re getting bombarded with questions about her!”
“Well you were only thirteen, plus I’d known your mother since we were children so I could tell you things about her that your father couldn’t.”
“Yeah, anyway as I was saying, do you know when Trost Carnival is happening this year? I was told by Nanaba it’s going to be early.”
“Hmm?” Hanji hummed thoughtfully, only half listening to your question.
Her mind had started to drift off to her lunchtime conversation with Levi about her reincarnation findings, now that she had concrete evidence that it existed and that you were the mysterious woman from his dreams, she was starting to wonder how to raise the subject with you.
“I think it’s happening next month.” She replied with a casual shrug. “Why is there someone you’re planning on taking with you?”
“I don’t know yet, Luke and Ilse were on about going together and I was going to see if Nickolas would like to go with me.”
“Nickolas?” Questioned Hanji, trying to keep the shock and horror out of her voice.
This wasn’t good, it seemed like her plans to try and set you up with Levi were being sabotaged before she could even contemplate a way to put them into action.
“Yeah, why what’s wrong with that?”
“Oh erm...nothing I just didn’t think you’d…you know, end up wanting to date someone you work so closely with.”
You eyed her suspiciously, not buying her excuses for one moment, leaning forward and smirking.
“You still want to set me up with that friend of yours don’t you?”
“I really think the two of you would be good together.” Protested Hanji. “Sure he’s a bit on the rude side, but he has a good heart deep down. Plus you’re the only person sassy enough to give as good as you get, most women are too scared to dare even speak to him.”
“Yeah, I’m one of them!” You remarked, your e/c eyes widening. “I’ve only met him once...technically I’ve not even met him properly, I only nearly bumped into him. Hell we didn’t even make eye contact!”
“Oh come on f/n, I happen to know for a fact he likes you!”
“He does!” She protested, folding her arms and trying not to laugh. “He’s just shy and awkward around women, but I reckon you could snap him out of it.”
“Sorry Hanji, not happening!”
The bespectacled brunette’s shoulders slumped in defeat, this was going to be a lot harder than she thought.
The next morning at work, Levi’s mood was still sour.
After staying up most of the night going through Hanji’s reincarnation findings, thanks partially to insomnia kicking in and making it impossible to sleep, the last thing he wanted to be doing was working.
“Rough night?” Asked Erwin, his bushy brows furrowing in concern as Levi handed over a stack of paperwork.
“Tch, nothing I can’t handle.” He shrugged nonchalantly.
Erwin hummed thoughtfully and nodded, he was no stranger to sleep deprivation at the moment.
His wife Marie had just given birth to their second child, a bouncing baby boy named Ethan. So of course he was being kept awake with nightly feeds and nappy changes every couple of hours, which weren’t helped by his three year old daughter Rose constantly wanting to be involved every time she so much as heard the baby whimper. Part of him wondered if she stayed awake on purpose at night so she could burst into his bedroom and offer to help.
“Well, try not to let it affect your work.” Said the tall blonde male. “I know things are hard at home for you right now, so if you need time off let me know.”
Levi nodded and left the office, making a rather irritated sound in the pit of his throat when he closed the door and saw Hanji stood talking to Mike.
“Morning Shorty!” She smiled brightly, while Mike simply nodded in greeting.
“Do one Shitty Glasses!”
“Hey wait don’t rush off, I need a word with you!” She said, pushing a pile of paperwork into the broad chest of her fellow director and chasing after the shorter male.
“Leave me alone Four Eyes!”
“Did you get a chance to have a proper look through those papers I gave you last night?” She asked, finally catching up with him before he had a chance to make it back to the double doors leading to the client consultant work area.
“Yes I did.”
Levi reached out and gripped the metal handle of the door, hesitating and gritting his teeth at her question.
“I believe you.”
“You do?” She gasped, a smile slowly spreading across her face. “Well that’s great, because there’s someone I want you to meet!”
“Not now, I’m busy.”
“What? No this can’t wait!” She babbled, blinking rapidly when he opened the door and started to walk through the work area.
“Damnit Shitty Glasses, take a fucking hint!” He yelled, making the entire workforce stop what they were doing and look at him with wide curious eyes.
Hanji however started giggling, noticing that he had stopped directly in front of a certain someone’s desk...someone who had unbeknownst to them, been haunting his dreams for the past couple of months.
Now if only she could make him turn around...
“What are you lot looking at?” He growled, his cold grey eyes scanning the work area but failing to look behind him to see a pair of e/c eyes go wide with fright before quickly turning back to the computer screen, along with all of the other terrified client consultants.
“Levi calm down!” Gasped Hanji, however by the time she had decided to try and chase after him again, he was already at the other end of the work area and storming through the set of double doors leading to his office.
“You seriously think that I want to go on a date with that?”
Hanji turned around and looked at the work station she was stood by, a nervous giggle escaping her lips at your question.
“Don’t “Morning f/n” me you damned psycho!” You snapped, standing up and walking over towards the printer, quickly followed by Hanji. “I can’t believe you want to set me up on a date with...well...him!”
“Oh he’s not normally like that.” Said Hanji reassuringly. “He’s just having a few personal problems at home, usually he’s a lot quieter.”
“Still not happening!” You retorted, smiling at a dark haired man in a smart black suit who was currently photocopying some paperwork.
“What’s not happening?” Nickolas questioned, raising a curious eyebrow.
“Oh nothing important.” You shrugged. “Say Nickolas, do you know when Trost Carnival is taking place this year?”
Hanji desperately looked back to the double doors Levi had disappeared through before turning her attention back to you, she needed to do something drastic and fast before the opportunity to set you and Levi up on a date was lost.
“Yeah, end of next month I believe.” He replied with a shrug, straightening the papers he had just copied and double checking them.
“Ah cool, I was wondering if you fancied making it a team outing since Luke and Ilse are planning on going together.”
‘No! Damn you f/n!’
Hanji internally cursed herself for not physically turning him around so he could see that the woman of his dreams, (quite literally she added as an afterthought) had been right under his nose.
Nickolas flashed you a small sincere smile and shook his head.
“Sorry f/n, I’m actually taking my girlfriend away that weekend. Plus I’m not really big on carnivals, they’re a little too crowded and noisy for me.”
He frowned and cocked his head to one side, noticing Hanji punching the air behind you with a look of pure glee on her face. Maybe her plan wasn’t going to blow up in her face after all.
“Um Director Hanji, are you okay?”
You frowned and looked behind you, noticing Hanji grinning like a maniac at you.
“Oh yes I’m fine thank you, better than fine in fact. Anyway I shall leave you to get on with your work.”
“Um, okay...bye?” You questioned, watching her make a hasty retreat towards the double doors that led to the management offices and canteen.
“What do you suppose is wrong with her?” You inquired, turning back to Nickolas.
“No clue, anyway it’s nearly half past ten, you coming to the break room?”
“Yeah sure, I’ll be there in about five minutes.”
Nickolas gave you a curt nod and made his way back to his desk, completely oblivious to the heavy sigh that caused your shoulders to sag in defeat at him turning down your invitation to go to the carnival.
Levi had barely made it back to his office and sat down ready to continue his work when the door flew open and banged against the wall, followed by a certain bespectacled brunette marching up to his desk and slamming her hands down on the hard wooden surface.
“You have no idea how damn lucky you are Shorty!” She panted, narrowing her puppy brown eyes at him.
“What the fuck are you going on about now?” Snorted Levi, his annoyance at having Hanji burst into his office without knocking first clearly evident in his tone of voice.
“Come with me, I have to show you something.”
“Get out Shitty Glasses!”
“Levi it’s important!” She pleaded, hoping she could still catch you before you headed off to join the others in the break room. “You won’t believe me unless I show you.”
The raven haired male raised an eyebrow and silently glared at her.
“Alright fine I’ll tell you.” Groaned Hanji, rolling her eyes and folding her arms. “The woman from your dreams...f/n? I’ve found her!”
“Hey, you said you believed me about the whole reincarnation thing!”
“How can you be sure it’s her?”
“That’s why I need you to confirm it!” She screeched, reaching over the desk and grabbing his arm, yanking him from his seat.
“Get your filthy hands off me!” He snapped angrily, recoiling from her grip and brushing off his jacket to rid himself of any invisible dirt she might have left behind.
“Come on, before she disappears off for her mid morning break!” Pleaded Hanji, practically hopping up and down on the spot like a woman possessed. “You see her in your dreams practically every night, you’re the only one who can confirm if it’s really her or not!”
Rolling his eyes Levi reluctantly walked around the desk and towards the still open door of his office.
“Tch, fine. Anything to shut you up!”
Hanji nearly squealed with glee, following him out of the office and back towards the double doors leading to the client consultant’s work area.
“If you’re wasting my time…”
“I’m not I promise!” She replied hastily, stopping and pressing her face to the clear glass pane in the top half of the door on the left.
Her eyes widened and a smile once again stretched across her face as she saw you walking back towards your desk with a pile of paperwork tucked under one arm.
“There she is!”
“Oi Shitty Glasses, move your ass!”
Levi furrowed his brows and moved to stand next to Hanji at the doors, peering through the glass into the main work area.
“Where the fuck am I supposed to be looking?”
“Wait here.” Said Hanji, dashing through the doors and making her way over towards your desk.
“Tch, moron!” Grunted Levi, moving to stand on the other side of the doors so he could get a better view, however his breath caught in his throat as he saw her stop at a seemingly random desk and start talking to a young h/l h/c haired woman in a black trouser suit and white shirt.
“Impossible!” He muttered, his steel grey eyes widening in shock.
Chapter 6: A brief encounter
Levi could barely believe his own eyes, part of his brain was convinced that he had fallen asleep at his desk and dreaming again.
There was just no other explanation of why she was here...in the real world, standing mere meters from him.
Pulling back the sleeve of his jacket and then unbuttoning the cuff on his shirt, he looked down at the pale skin of his now exposed wrist and gave it a sharp pinch, making sure to dig his nails in hard enough to leave marks.
He hissed in pain and gritted his teeth as he studied the small crescent marks he’d left on himself, looking up once again towards your desk and finding you still stood there talking to Hanji.
“Shit!” He gasped almost inaudibly, swallowing down the lump in his throat. “It’s really her!”
He watched closely as Hanji patted your shoulder before making her way back to him, a shiteating grin gracing her features as she halted in front of him and folded her arms.
“So, is it her?” She inquired, feeling quite smug in the knowledge that the answer was pretty damned obvious.
“Yeah…” Replied Levi, quickly regaining his composure. “Yeah it’s her.”
“Well, her name is f/n l/n. She’s been here since she was eighteen and spent the best part of nearly four years as a secretarial assistant down in financing before taking up a position as a client consultant.” Her grin widened considerably before she continued. “She actually started her new role up here the same time you moved up to deputy management, now if that’s not a twist of fate I don’t know what is!”
“Tch, how come you know so much about her?”
“I’m an old friend of her mother, sort of like an unofficial auntie you might say.”
Rolling his eyes, Levi kept them firmly fixed on you as you disappeared into the break room.
“So when are you going to ask her on a date?”
“Oh come on Shorty don’t be shy!” Giggled the bespectacled brunette. “Besides, I’ve already told her you have the hots for her.”
“YOU DID WHAT?!”
“Hi f/n.” Smiled Luke, looking up from tapping away on his mobile phone when you opened the door to the break room. “Kettle’s just boiled if you want a drink.”
“YOU DID WHAT?!” Came a very angry sounding voice, making your eyes widen and your entire body tense up in the doorway before you even had a chance to set foot through it.
“Oh dear, sounds like Director Hanji pissed off Mr Ackerman again.” Mused the long haired male, chuckling in amusement when he noticed you still frozen in place. “Hey are you okay?”
“Y-yeah...I just um…” You barely managed to string a sentence together, that was the second time you’d heard the short deputy manager shouting in the space of half an hour.
Thankfully this time he wasn’t stood right in front of your desk, but the sound of his harsh voice still made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
“You’ll get used to it.” Said a voice behind you, making you yelp and jump around to face it, relieved to find it was only Nanaba. “Are you okay f/n? You seem very jittery today.”
“Well she’s just heard Mr Ackerman laying into Director Hanji.” Explained Luke, returning to texting on his phone. “Poor girl isn’t going to be constipated anytime soon, put it that way!”
“The first couple of times are a little unnerving and awkward, but you’ll soon learn to just ignore it.”
“Oh that’s comforting.” You mumbled, taking a seat and folding your arms.
“Where are Nickolas and Ilse?”
“Nickolas is on his way and Ilse is finishing off a call with a client.”
“Alright, well I need to have a word with you all about last month’s targets, nothing to worry about just the usual stuff.”
You nodded and nervously chewed the inside of your cheek.
Levi may not have directly shouted at you, but you were sure as hell making a mental note in the back of your mind to run a mile in the opposite direction if he even so much as happened to glance at you in the future!
“Fuck off Four Eyes before I throw you out of the nearest window!”
“Oh come on, she’s your long lost love from your previous life!” Reasoned Hanji, attempting to follow him into his office, only to have the solid wooden door loudly slammed shut in her face and barely missing breaking her nose by a mere inch. Thankfully she had thought to jump back at just the right moment, the loud click of the lock following almost immediately after it closed
“You can’t avoid her forever!”
Giggling to herself when no answer was received, she turned around and sighed, shaking her head. Deciding that it was in her best interest to return to her own office and get on with her work before Erwin caught her skiving off, she slowly walked away.
“Poor boy, he’s so shy!”
Inside his office, Levi slumped down in his seat and rested his elbows on the desk, burying his face in his hands and growling in frustration.
Hanji was really pushing his buttons today, even more so than usual if that was even possible!
Raising his head he stared at the computer screen and narrowed his steel grey eyes, still not quite able to wrap his brain around what he had just seen.
The woman from his dreams had been stood there talking to Hanji like it was a normal every day occurrence, she couldn’t have been an illusion...sure Hanji was a few sandwiches short of a picnic but she wasn’t completely crazy.
Leaning back in the plush leather chair, he folded his arms across his chest and frowned, his brows furrowing and causing it to deepen when his mind once again began to wander of its own accord…
Survey Corps Headquarters,
“No, no, no!”
Hanji groaned and pushed her battle goggles up, letting them sit comfortably on her forehead before approaching the restrained four meter titan.
“Section Commander be careful!” Shouted Moblit, raising his arm and rushing forward to grab her.
“Increase the pressure of the gas!” Ordered Hanji, halting beside the titan’s left arm and examining the skin closely.
“Yes Section Commander!” Shouted f/n, rushing forward and picking up the heavy steel cable which the end of the spear was attached to before carefully pushing it back into a large wooden barrel ready to be launched again.
“Okay, are you ready my dear?”
Moving to stand behind the barrel and putting one foot on it to steady herself while reaching for a rope protruding from a hole in it, the young scout nodded and tightened her grip around the thickly woven material.
“Ready when you are!”
Hanji nodded and sucked in a deep breath, holding it for a moment and pulling her goggles back down into position so they once again covered her puppy brown eyes.
Once she had retreated to what she deemed a safe distance, she turned to look back at f/n.
With a loud resounding crack, the barbed spear left the barrel at high velocity and sped towards the restrained titan.
However the result remained the same.
The thick metal object failed once more to penetrate the titan’s flesh, simply bouncing off it and digging into the dirt a few meters away, sticking up at an angle.
“Damnit!” Snapped the bespectacled section commander. “Increase the pressure again, this time we’ll nail it!”
“We can’t, it’s as high as it will go!” Replied f/n worriedly. “Any higher and it will blow the barrel apart!”
“Tch, so what’s your next bright idea?” Scoffed Levi, clearly not happy that he had been dragged out to the training grounds to watch this failure of a weapons test.
Commander Erwin narrowed his icy blue eyes, he’d expected there to be teething troubles with this weapon. There always were initially when new designs were approved and rigorous testing was always mandatory to help iron out the kinks.
“Well this was a waste of time and funding.”
“Enough Levi!” Warned Erwin, clearly not in the mood for the short captain’s pessimistic attitude.
Suddenly a loud shriek followed by the sound of jaws snapping shut a moment later split the air, drawing everyone’s attention.
“Wow Alfie, you nearly had me then didn’t you?” Giggled Hanji, who was now sitting on the dusty ground with Moblit behind her on his knees and his arms around her middle.
“I told you not to get too close!” He scolded, standing up and brushing himself down before pulling his commanding officer to her feet.
F/n rolled her eyes and turned her attention to the barrel next to her, there had to be something they hadn’t thought of.
The gas option was out of the question since it wasn’t launching with enough force to penetrate the titan’s hardened skin, it may have worked with the grapple line anchors on their ODM Gear but they weren’t as dense as the barbed spears that they were currently using.
“We need to increase the pressure, but how?” She mused to herself, folding her arms across her chest and suddenly tensing at the sudden uncomfortable feeling it caused.
Looking inside her jacket, she noticed the operating handles for her blades currently stored away in the holsters.
Pulling one out she studied it hard, taking in all the small details from the blade release locks to the gun-like triggers which launched and retracted the grapple lines anchors…
“Triggers?” She muttered, her brows furrowing slightly. “Guns...GUNPOWDER!”
All eyes turned towards her, the commander raising an expectant bushy eyebrow.
"What was that you just said soldier?"
“Sir, I have an idea!” She said hurriedly, picking up the nearest spear and studying it closely. “If we reinforced the barrels with metal, we could try using gunpowder to give us the force needed to penetrate the titan’s skin.”
“Hey she’s right!” Gasped Hanji, rushing to her side and snatching the spear. “It works for cannons, so why shouldn’t it work for this? Cannon fire blasts through titan’s with ease, furthermore provided the spears penetrate deep enough, with the way they regenerate the hooks should go in deeper and tighten their hold as the flesh heals around them!”
Erwin raised one large hand to his face, cupping his chin and humming thoughtfully while his subordinates eagerly watched in anticipation for his answer.
“Alright.” He finally replied. “How long will it take to make the necessary adjustments?”
“Well I doubt it will be ready for the next expedition.” Remarked Levi, casting a disapproving glance at f/n and making her shrink back under it.
“Give us a month!” Said Hanji boldly, puffing out her chest. “We’ll have this bad boy working and ready for testing again, won’t we f/n?”
“Um...yes Section Commander.” She replied nervously, her wide e/c eyes flicking between the tall, imposing commander and short but still frightfully intimidating captain.
“Fine, one month.” Nodded Erwin. “I will arrange for the necessary materials to be brought here with next week’s supply delivery.”
Hanji squealed manically and practically jumped on the nervous female next to her, hugging her tightly and squeezing the air from her lungs.
“Thanks Erwin, we’ll make it work. I promise!”
Shaking his head and blinking rapidly, Levi managed to escape from the memory that had suddenly taken over his senses.
“What the fuck?” He muttered, furrowing his brows and staring at the computer screen in front of him.
One minute he had been fine, if not a little frustrated by Hanji nagging him to approach you and ask you out on a date, then the next he was experiencing another flashback.
Still part of him was wondering if maybe he should try approaching you and introducing himself just to see if you did remember him and the feelings you supposedly once had.
Growling in frustration he shook his head again, this was the last thing he needed occupying his brain when there was already so much going on in it.
For crying out loud he barely knew you...well not this version of you anyway. You could be completely different to the f/n he had once known and loved in his previous life, there was no way of knowing for certain at the moment considering the only flashbacks and dreams that had come to him so far were from before the two of you became an item and the events surrounding your death.
“Tch, stupid Shitty Glasses!” Growled Levi, pushing himself out of his seat and walking over towards the office door.
Unlocking and opening it, he checked the corridor before closing it behind him and deciding to go outside for some air in the hopes it would clear his head.
Upon returning to her office, Hanji was still giggling away to herself, earning her a confused head tilt from Moblit.
“Um, Director are you alright?” He Inquired, a frown gracing his features as she sat down at her desk and leaned back into the plush leather.
“Oh absolutely fine Sweetie, why do you ask?”
“You um...you have that look in your eye again…”
“What look would that be then?” She grinned, knowing full well exactly what he was talking about but deciding to play dumb.
“You always have that scary glint in your eye when you’re planning something.”
“So what could I possibly be planning?”
"I dread to think in all honesty." Muttered Moblit worriedly, turning his attention back to his work.
Another devilish giggle escaped her lips as she leaned forward and rested her arms on her desk, her puppy brown eyes shining behind her oval glasses and making her look even more devious when the light caught them.
“Then I shall tell you my dear Moblit!” She declared, slamming her hands down on the hard wooden surface and almost causing everything on it to jump from the force of her actions. “I am on a mission to bring together two lost souls, all I need to do is make them notice each other and fate will take care of the rest for me.”
Moblit blinked rapidly, not quite sure he understood what the bespectacled brunette was trying to say. Although in all honesty, half the time she didn’t make sense anyway, so why would she suddenly break the habit of a lifetime now?
Still, there was always method in her madness and no one could get inside Hanji’s head like she could. As long as the plan made sense to her, the rest would naturally fall into place and all she had to do was make sure everything was in the right place at the right time...
“Okay, so are we all clear on what we’re doing for the next month?” Questioned Nanaba, looking at each member of her team closely.
“Yeah sure.” Said Luke confidently. “We basically keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll receive a nice big fat bonus!”
“It will certainly come in handy for my plans.” Nodded Nickolas. “I’ve just put down a deposit on an engagement ring.”
“Gold or silver?” Inquired Ilse, once again whipping out her little black notebook and pen. “Single diamond or a cluster? How many karats?”
You shook your head and smiled at the dark haired woman for a brief moment before looking over to Nickolas.
You were slightly miffed that you had missed an opportunity to try and score a date with him by asking him to the carnival, but you sincerely hoped that his planned proposal went well for him.
“Right everyone, back to work.”
Rinsing your cup and leaving it to dry on the stainless steel draining board while you rummaged around in the drawer for a fresh tea cloth, Nickolas came up behind you and tapped your shoulder to get your attention.
“Have you managed to find someone to go to the carnival with you yet?”
“No, not had chance to ask anyone.” You replied, finding the item you were searching for and drying your cup.
“I see, well you’re a nice girl. I’m sure someone will accept your offer.” He mused, flashing you a small smile. “For the record, if I were single...I’d have suggested something other than going to the carnival.”
You laughed shyly and bit your lip, feeling your face heat up as a slight blush rose on your cheeks.
"Well I thought I'd end up coming across as a little blunt if I just asked outright whether you were single or not." You replied weakly. "Since you've never mentioned having a girlfriend I just kind of thought I'd take a chance."
"I tend not to talk about my love life." Shrugged Nickolas. "I make a strict habit of keeping that out of conversation until I get to know people better."
"That's fair enough." You smiled. "Well good luck with your proposal anyway, I'm sure she'll say yes.”
Nickolas nodded and walked out of the break room.
“Hey you never know, Mr Right could be lurking right under your nose just waiting to sweep you off your feet!”
“Yeah, sure he is!” You scoffed, following him and playfully shoving him aside before heading back towards your desk.
The smile soon fell from your face however as you looked to where you were going and noticed a certain foul tempered deputy manager walking towards you.
“Uh oh!” You muttered, hoping he hadn’t heard you.
There was no way you were going to make it back to your desk without passing him on the way.
Swallowing hard you kept your eyes on where you were going and continued moving forward, however as you drew closer to the raven haired male, your eyes were inexplicably pulled towards him.
It was hard to deny that he wasn’t handsome, hell you didn’t know many men that could pull of an undercut!
Steel grey eyes slowly turned to meet your slowly widening e/c orbs, locking onto them and staring with a burning intensity that it almost left you trembling.
For someone so intimidating, there was also something completely alluring to you about the man, especially the way the light caught his hypnotic hues and appeared for just a brief second to make them appear soft and warm.
No that couldn’t be right, surely you were imagining things?
Quickly breaking the hold he seemed to have over you by averting your gaze, you shook your head and returned to your desk, casting one last glance over at the raven haired male as he disappeared through the double doors leading to the stairs.
Chapter 7: Introductions
The next couple of weeks passed by painfully slowly for Levi, which wasn’t helped by Hanji’s constant nagging at him to introduce himself to f/n.
He’d actually lost track of the number of times he had threatened to throw her out of the window if she didn’t stop pecking his head over the matter, but of course she wouldn’t take no for an answer...
“Come on Levi she’s your reincarnated soulmate!” “Just go up to her and say hello!” and “You’ve already made eye contact, now I’m not saying jump on her straight away...but just try speaking to her.” were among some of the nagging words of encouragement she had thrown at him in her attempts to get him to introduce himself to you.
“Tch stupid Shitty Glasses.” He muttered under his breath, his brows furrowing so harshly that they caused deep lines to appear in the space between them.
“Levi, are you okay Sweetheart?”
Looking up from his breakfast Levi was met by the concerned gaze of his mother and a rather amused Kenny.
“You’ll get wrinkles if you keep frowning like that Runt!” Snorted the older Ackerman male, cursing a moment later when Kuchel slapped him upside the head and gave him a dark glare so severe even Levi felt unnerved.
“Tch, I’ll still be better looking than you!” He retorted, reaching for his tea cup.
“Levi what's bothering you?” Asked Kuchel. “You’ve been very distant recently, should I call Erwin and tell him you’re not feeling well?”
“I feel fine.”
“Kenny go make yourself useful and fetch my book.”
Rolling his eyes, Kenny stood up from the table and left the kitchen.
Kuchel was due another round of chemotherapy treatment that day and reading helped keep her relaxed while it was taking place.
Once her brother had gone, she folded her arms and raised her eyebrows at her son.
“I’m going to work.” He said, attempting to stand up but freezing when she put a hand on his arm.
“Nice try young man, you don’t have to leave for another half an hour yet.” She scolded, clearly annoyed by how cagy he was being. “You are finally going to tell me what’s bothering you, don’t make me wave a dirty dishcloth in your face!”
Levi never normally glared at his mother, but after that little threat he decided to make an exception...however Kuchel was one step ahead and already had the offending item in her free hand.
“Your choice Levi.” She smiled sweetly. “You can either talk to me, or I can wipe your face with this.”
Knowing that he had lost this particular battle, he rolled his eyes and folded his arms.
“Tch, there’s someone at work that…” He paused and blushed, his frown once again deepening as his pale cheeks started to tinge red. “That I…”
“Like?” Finished his mother, her grey eyes widening marginally. “Is that what’s been wrong with you? You’ve got a crush on someone?”
“Yes.” He muttered, feeling his embarrassment rising as his blush intensified.
“Is it Hanji? You two always have been close.”
“No it’s not that four eyed idiot!” He snapped before he could stop himself, earning a disapproving frown from Kuchel at his use of one of the bespectacled brunette’s rather unflattering nicknames.
“So who are they?”
Levi sighed and clicked his tongue.
“She’s called f/n, she’s a friend of Four-Hanji’s.”
“I see.” Mused Kuchel thoughtfully. “So have the two of you actually spoken to each other?”
“No, but Hanji seems hell bent on forcing us to.”
“I see where this is going.” Smiled the raven haired woman. “She’s putting pressure on you and it’s making you feel uncomfortable?”
Levi nodded but didn’t speak.
“Well my advice to you is ignore Hanji and do things your way, if you like f/n then tell her but do it on your terms and not anyone else's.”
“I don’t know how.”
“Oh Levi.” Giggled Kuchel, shaking her head and taking his hand in hers. “If you feel shy just wait until she’s on her own and then make an attempt approaching her, try talking to her about something casual or maybe ask Hanji if there’s possibly a mutual interest you share.”
Averting his gaze and nodding, Levi glanced over at the kitchen clock, thankful that it was fast approaching the time when he normally departed for work.
“I have to go.”
“Alright let me know how you get on.” Standing up and placing a gentle kiss on her son’s forehead before proceeding to clear away the breakfast dishes, Kuchel smiled softly herself as she watched Levi exit the kitchen. “Good luck Sweetheart.”
“Hey Hanji, how’s it going?” You smiled, turning around and waiting by the doors leading to the stairs as the bespectacled brunette ran to your side, her heels clicking noisily across the polished tiled floor.
“Oh you know same old, same old.” She shrugged. “What about you? Found a date for the carnival?”
“Not yet, although to be fair I haven’t really bothered asking anyone since Nickolas knocked me back.”
“Hmm, I can think of someone…” Grinned Hanji conspiratorially, wiggling her eyebrows.
“Aw come on...I’ve seen the awkward stares you two have been sharing when you pass by each other.”
You opened your mouth to speak but thought better of it.
There was no denying that since you finally made eye contact with the short tempered manager, your curiosity about him had been piqued.
Nanaba and the others hadn’t said much about him, but Hanji on the other hand never stopped using him as a topic of conversation.
It annoyed you that she spoke so openly about his personal life to try and coax you into asking questions about him, but then again, subtlety had never been Hanji’s strong suit.
You did wonder though if the fact that his mother was currently battling cancer was the source of his constant frowning, however you also figured that from the way he had yelled at Hanji a couple of weeks ago she probably wasn’t helping matters either.
Deciding to finally speak once you reached the first floor landing and prepared to ascend the second floor stairs, you were suddenly stopped by the odd sensation of someone breathing heavily down the back of your neck.
“What the hell?” You shrieked, turning around and finding a tall well built male with dark blonde hair and dark stubble framed lips sniffing your nape.
His eyes were closed and he seemed deep in concentration, completely oblivious to the shock and panic caused by his actions.
“Oh don’t mind him.” Laughed Hanji lightly, looking behind her. “That’s Director Mike Zacharius, he has a habit of sniffing people he’s never met before.”
You winced and leaned away, however when you did he simply moved closer and continued his ministrations for a further few seconds before finally opening his eyes to reveal a pair of pale blue irises. Smirking at you and snorting once he was finished he straightened up to his full height, silently continuing to follow you and Hanji up to the second floor.
“No idea, it’s just something he’s always done.” Shrugged Hanji nonchalantly. “Anyway he doesn’t mean any harm by it, it’s just how he is.”
Upon reaching the second floor landing the three of you headed through the double doors and into the client consultant work area, Mike heading off in the direction of Nanaba’s desk without saying a word, while Hanji followed you towards the other set of double doors that led to the management offices.
“I think I’ll hang around here for a few minutes.” She said somewhat worriedly as you seated yourself at your desk and started up your computer.
“Why?” You questioned with a frown. "Is something wrong?"
“That!” Replied the bespectacled brunette bluntly as a familiar scraggy haired blonde man approached.
“Oh bloody hell.” You groaned, forcing a smile onto your face as Flagon stopped in front of your desk and folded his arms. “Morning Flagon, how are you?”
“I hear you’re planning on going to the carnival this weekend.” He stated fixing you with a rather disgruntled glare.
“Erm yeah I was thinking about it, why?”
“Got a date for it?”
Hanji bit her lip and looked away, trying to fight back the insane grin that was threatening to spread across her face.
She was so confident that you wouldn’t accept an invitation from him that she would’ve probably bet a month’s wages on you knocking him back.
“No...not yet.” You answered, a small voice in the back of your mind starting to scream out in terror at the anticipation of what was coming next…
“How about we go together then?” He smirked cockily, clearly expecting you to say yes. “I heard Nickolas knocked you back, shame really but hey, his loss is my gain!”
“Wow you arrogant fucking pig!” was what you really wanted to scream at him, probably throwing in a swift slap around the face too for good measure.
Instead you sat there dumbfounded and desperately hurried to think of the nicest possible way to tell him Hell would freeze over before you would even consider looking in his general direction, never mind allowing him to take you out on a date.
“Sorry Flagon Sweetie, she’s already agreed to come with me and Moblit.” Interjected Hanji with a beaming smile. “Plus I may as well say it now...I’ve actually found you a date!”
Blinking rapidly you nervously looked between Hanji and Flagon, feeling like a deer caught in the headlights.
“Hmm I see.” Remarked blonde manager, clearly not impressed that he was facing being turned down. “How about we let f/n decide for herself?”
“Come on f/n!” Pleaded Hanji, putting on an impressively convincing act. “Remember that favour you owe me? Well I’m calling it in!”
Rolling your eyes and deciding it was in your best interest to go along with her, you smiled shyly and sat back in your seat, folding your arms across your chest.
“Okay I’ll bite, who is he?”
“Ah well it’s surprise, now are you going to repay me by doing this or not.”
“Doesn’t look like I have much of a choice.” You sighed, flashing Flagon a polite smile. “Sorry, I’m flattered that you asked though.”
“Whatever.” Shrugged the clearly annoyed male, turning on his heels and walking away.
Once you were certain that he was out of earshot, you and Hanji looked at one another and burst out laughing mere seconds later.
“You are evil Hanji!” You gasped, trying to calm yourself down.
“I got you out of a tight spot didn’t I...which means now you really do owe me!”
“Alright fine!” You sighed. A sinking feeling started to overcome you, knowing full well what she was going to ask of you as you pretty much signed your death warrant. “Name your terms.”
Hanji grinned rather sinisterly, she had the perfect way for you to pay her back.
“Go on a date with Levi!”
You winced and groaned, you could’ve predicted that answer without even thinking about it.
Still you were curious about the raven haired male and technically you were now in her debt…
“Fine, I give up!” You stated, throwing your hands up in surrender. “I’ll go on a date with Levi, I admit I’m a little curious about him...but he has to ask me out! Oh and if it’s a disaster I will be coming for your blood!”
“Yay I can’t wait to tell him!” She squealed, leaning over the desk and pulling you into a bone crunching hug that practically squeezed the air from your lungs. “Gotta run Sweetie, see you later!”
Inhaling deeply after being deprived of oxygen for what felt like forever when she finally let you go and rushed off in the direction of the stairs, you shook your head and clicked your tongue thoughtfully.
Just what the hell were you letting yourself in for?
“Piss off Four Eyes it’s too early for your bullshit!” He called up the stairs, not bothering to look up at the bespectacled brunette calling down to him from the floor above.
“Aw don’t be like that, I’ve got some good news for you!”
“Tch! What could you possibly say to me that I actually want to hear?”
Hanji frowned and waited for him to join her on the second floor landing before speaking again, was his mother having more treatment that day? It would certainly explain the snappier attitude he was displaying.
“Well?” He snapped, stopping in front of her and shooting her a penetrating glare.
“Oh yeah.” She giggled, bringing herself back to the matter at hand. “I’ve just got you a date with f/n!”
“I’m not in the mood for jokes Shitty Glasses.” Grunted Levi, pushing her aside and heading through the double doors into the client consultant area.
“I’m being serious!” She protested, rushing to catch up with him. “She kind of owes me since I saved her from Flagon’s attention…”
Levi stopped and spun round to face her, anger flashing in his cold grey eyes.
“So she only agreed to it because you forced her hand?”
“You’re fucking unbelievable!”
“Levi wait!” Called Hanji as he once again turned his back on her and walked away, leaving her to heave a sigh of frustration.
“Leave me alone!”
“Come on Shorty, don’t be like that! I’ve been pestering her to go on a date with your for ages.”
Levi however wasn’t listening, he continued to storm through the area towards the double doors leading to his office.
He really didn’t need to be dealing with this at the moment, he was already stressing out over how to approach you and now he had just been told that you only agreed to a date with him to shut Hanji up...you clearly weren’t interested so he wasn't going to bother wasting his time or his mother's advice.
“Damnit Levi wait!”
“Save it Shitty Glasses!”
“Ugh, stop being so hot headed and listen to me for a minute will you?”
Glancing to his left, Levi noticed that your desk was unoccupied.
Perhaps you’d gone to hide so he wouldn’t see you and turn his temper round onto you, a wise move if he was being completely honest.
“Alright Shorty, stop walking!” Snapped a voice behind him before a hand landed on his shoulder and spun him round.
“Get your filthy hands off me!” He growled, batting Hanji away and tensing up a moment later when he noticed a certain female staring at him.
Fear shone in your e/c eyes as they locked with his steel orbs for a split second before you turned away and rushed off towards Nanaba’s desk with a large stack of papers tucked under one arm.
“Nice one Levi.” Huffed Hanji irritatedly. “If you’d have actually listened to me I was going to say she didn’t agree to a date with you purely because of me pressuring her, she admitted she’s genuinely curious about you.”
Levi blinked rapidly, feeling like someone had just slapped him in the face.
“You do realize she’s probably going to say no now.” Continued Hanji. “I think you practically terrified her!”
Turning on his heels Levi made his way through the double doors to his office, slamming the door behind him and locking it before the bespectacled director could follow him.
“Shit!” He cursed, slamming his back against the hard wood and running a hand back through his raven tresses. He’d completely blown it now, there way now way you would ever consider letting him get to know you better…
“Okay this all seems to be in order.” Said Nanaba evenly, handing you back the papers you had just printed off. “Get those addressed and put in the outbox ready for when the mail room staff come just before lunch.”
“Will do.” You smiled confidently, straightening the pile and clicking your tongue thoughtfully. “Hey Nanaba, can I ask you something?”
“Of course.” Replied the blonde female.
“Hanji keeps trying to tell me that Mr Ackerman wants to go on a date with me, I finally gave in and said I would if he asked me so what I want to know is...is there any truth in what she's saying?”
Nanaba blinked rapidly, furrowing her brows.
“Sorry forget it, I shouldn’t have said anything.” You muttered weakly, a frustrated blush rising on your cheeks.
“No...it’s fine.” She replied. “Hanji has mentioned it a few times to be honest and I have noticed him staring at you recently.”
“Okay, um...anything I should know about him?”
“Well obviously you already know not to lay a finger on him unless you want to die!” She giggled, making an attempt at breaking the tense atmosphere.
“Right.” You answered with a grimace, remembering the way he had snapped at Hanji a few minutes ago.
“Also he’s a complete clean freak and very quick tempered.”
“Anything else?” You asked worriedly, rapidly regretting finally agreeing to Hanji’s demands.
“Yes, he might be all of the things I just told you, but he’s fiercely loyal to those he cares about.” Said Nanaba seriously, looking you in the eye as she spoke. "I know to look at him you wouldn't believe it, but he does have a good heart beneath that intimidating glare and unapproachable attitude."
“Okay thanks, I’ll get back to work now.”
Nanaba nodded and waved you away, looking back towards the filing cabinet a little to her right when it moved slightly and a quiet “ouch” was made audible.
“Come on out Hanji!” Sighed the blonde consultant team manager, rolling her icy blue eyes.
The bespectacled brunette giggled and emerged from her hiding place, approaching the other woman’s desk and perching on the edge of it.
“You really shouldn’t interfere in other people’s lives like that.” Scolded Nanaba, typing away at her computer.
“Oh come on!” Laughed Hanji rather cockily. “You weren’t complaining when my matchmaking skills got you and Mike together!”
A frown spread across the other woman’s face as she stopped typing for a moment, tutting with a defeated shake of her head she resumed her task.
“So what’s your plan?”
“Well I think if I can get them on their own together somehow they might actually speak instead of just staring at one another, but the question is how do I do it?”
“I’m sure you’ll think of something, you always do.”
“Care to lend a hand?”
“No I don’t.”
“Ah well, worth a try. See you later!”
“Hanji.” Called Nanaba, looking up again and giving her a warning look. “Be careful this doesn’t backfire and make sure Erwin doesn’t catch you slacking off!”
“Oh not to worry, Moblit’s covering for me!” She giggled in reply, disappearing through the doors and heading back to her office.
Rolling her eyes and shaking her head again, Nanaba turned her attention back to her work and decided to leave well alone.
“Well I would wish you luck.” She mused to herself. “If I didn’t already know it’s f/n and Levi who are going to need it!”
Lunch time soon came around and the canteen slowly started to fill up with staff members keen to relax for an hour before returning to their busy schedules.
You found a quiet table by the window overlooking the city below, placing your cup of tea and sandwich down on it before taking a seat and stared out at the view.
Normally you would have sat with your colleagues, however Luke and Ilse were working through today since they were trying to finish a couple of important contracts ahead of schedule and Nickolas had gone into the city to look at engagement rings.
Clicking your tongue thoughtfully, you pulled your mobile phone out of your pocket and decided to text your dad, he’d briefly mentioned that he was working overtime that morning and you were wondering if he wanted anything cooking for tea and leaving in the oven for when he returned.
Putting the phone down on the table you took a sip of your tea before proceeding to eat, oblivious to the fact that three sets of eyes were keenly observing you…
“Go on, ask her while she’s on her own!”
“Shut up Four Eyes!”
“Mike tell him will you?”
Hanji, Levi and Mike sat on a table not far away from the one you were currently occupying. The two directors had their backs to you, stealing glances every so often while Levi sat opposite them and could see you every time he looked up.
Mike briefly turned to look behind him again, noticing you reaching for your phone and starting to tap away at it.
“She’s quite pretty.” He muttered. “A little shy and nervous at first, but grows in confidence once she gets to know someone better.”
Levi frowned and picked up his tea, sipping it and continuing to silently watch you, much to Hanji’s annoyance.
“Ugh for crying out loud Shorty just got over and introduce yourself!” She groaned. “This is, too painful I can’t stand it!”
“Stop fucking pestering me!” Snapped Levi, putting his empty cup down with a little more force than he had originally intended and looking to his right when a tall blonde man in an expensive suit halted at their table.
“Erwin.” Greeted Mike neutrally as all eyes turned to the company owner.
“Hanji, have you finished going over the proposals for next month?” He questioned, giving Mike a nod of acknowledgment.
“Nearly, I’ll bring them to your office after lunch.” She smiled, turning her attention back to you, something which did not go unnoticed by Erwin.
“Am I keeping you from something?”
“Levi’s trying to work up the courage to ask her out on a date!” She giggled, nodding in your direction.
“I see.” Mused the bushy browed blonde. “Well good luck. Hanji, Mike, I’ll see you both in my office after lunch.”
Once he had left, Levi shot the brunette a deathly glare which did little to intimidate her.
“Just go over there and say Hi!” She encouraged. “She doesn’t bite you know!”
Standing up, Levi straightened his tie and jacket. However before he could make his way over to you, his vision started to cloud over and he once again found himself getting lost in a flashback from his past life…
Survey Corps Headquarters:
“I have to admit I’m more than a little impressed.” Mused Erwin, casting a glance over the restrained titan. Several sharply barbed spikes were embedded into its flesh, steam rising up from where they had priced its skin and worked their way in deeper as the flesh regenerated.
“Huh, not bad.” Agreed Levi, folding his arms and looking over at Hanji.
“That was a fantastic idea to use gunpowder rather than pressurized gas f/n!” Beamed the bespectacled section commander, pushing her battle goggles up onto her forehead and giving the younger female a hearty slap on the back.
“It was nothing really.” She smiled shyly, a faint blush rising on her cheeks.
“You did well soldier.” Said an old man with thick grey hair, a beard to match and circular steel rimmed glasses.
Premier Dahlis Zackley folded his arms across his chest and studied the captive titan as it once again struggled against its bindings, causing more steam to appear as its flesh healed up around the spikes.
“I think it’s safe to assume I approve of this weapon being mass produced following such positive results.” He said in a matter of fact tone, narrowing his small hazel eyes. “Have copies of the blue prints sent to the weapons factory near Sherpa Village, I’ll send word on that they are to start once received.”
“Thank you Sir.” Said Erwin snapping to attention and offering the man a salute when he turned and walked back towards the castle.
“I take it you will still be attending the Military Ball at Lord Candeloro’s castle tomorrow evening?” Asked the older man, raising a withered eyebrow at the commander.
“Yes Sir. Myself, Captain Levi and Section Commander Hanji will all be in attendance.”
“Then I shall see you there.”
After the premier had left, Erwin turned his attention to a rather disgruntled looking Levi.
“Tch, another pointless ass kissing party?” He scoffed, folding his arms.
“That “pointless ass kissing” as you call it helps fund our expeditions.” Said the bushy browed commander sternly, however his expression softened slightly upon looking past the short captain to the two females who were currently deep in discussion about their little demonstration for the premier.
“Perhaps we should take that young scout with us too.” He said thoughtfully, before turning to walk away. “I’m sure the nobles would be fascinated by her ideas.”
Glancing behind him, Levi raised an eyebrow in her direction and watched her carefully for a moment before their gazes locked.
Her e/c eyes widened slightly and she quickly looked away, busying herself with helping Hanji deal with the cleanup from their little demonstration. There was no denying that the scout had some good ideas when it came to capturing titans, maybe Erwin was onto something?
Shrugging to himself he started to walk away back towards the castle, making a mental note to speak to Hanji about her subordinate accompanying them to the ball...
“Levi...Levi...Hey are you okay?”
Snapping himself out of his thoughts, Levi found Hanji and Mike staring at him with very confused frowns on their faces.
“What happened to you?” Inquired Hanji, although she knew full well what was going on, however she chose to hold her tongue since Mike was still with them. “You looked completely lost.”
“I’m fine.” Snapped Levi, shaking his head and starting to make his way over to the table you were still occupying.
He was almost there when once again his vision went fuzzy and another flashback overcame him…
Survey Corps Headquarters:
“Are you just going to sit there staring at her all day?” Giggled Hanji, snapping her fingers in front of the raven haired captain’s face, causing him to blink and growl at her. “Just go over there and ask her if she wants to accompany you to the party tonight as your plus one. She’s not a titan, she won’t bite!”
“Shut up Shitty Glasses!” Snorted Levi, picking up his cup of tea and gulping down the last few dregs.
His steel eyed gaze remained fixed on the young scout who was currently sitting by herself and idly tracing a single slender finger around the rim of the pristine white cup sat in front of her.
Recently he had become quite interested in the young female, there was something about her that he couldn’t quite seem to wrap his head around and he was determined to find out what it was...if only he could work up the courage to approach her.
“Oh just go over there already!” Giggled Hanji, shoving his shoulder and nearly knocking him out of his chair.
“Tch, fine!” He shot back, standing up before he ended up returning the gesture, only he would make sure she hit the floor.
Straightening his jacket and cravat he made his way over to the table where the young female was sat...
F/n sighed and continued to trace the rim of her cup, resting her chin on the upturned palm of her free hand.
However her thoughts were soon interrupted by the sound of boots halting on her right hand side and the sound of someone clearing their throat.
Slowly turning around to face the source of the noise, she came face to torso with a white shirt. Moving her eyes upwards, she soon discovered a white cravat and the stoic face of a frowning male with steel grey eyes and raven hair.
“Good Morning Captain Levi.” She greeted, not quite sure why the hell she was smiling considering the man scared the absolute life out of her!
“What’s your name?” He asked bluntly, mentally slapping himself afterwards for not asking Hanji her name before hand.
“F/n l/n Sir.”
“What...what are you doing after you finish duty tonight?”
“Nothing Sir...did you need me for something?” She inquired, her brows furrowing slightly.
“Yes, I wondered...if you would accompany me to a ball this evening.”
She blinked rapidly, was the stoic captain asking her to accompany him on official military business?
“Erm...I’d be honored to Sir.” She stuttered, not quite believing what she was hearing.
“Come to my office at six o’clock.”
Nodding Levi turned on his heels and walked away, his heart hammering in his chest as he made his way out of the mess hall…
“Tch, damnit!” He growled, shaking his head and purposefully walking towards where you were currently sitting.
Finally stopping in front of you, he cleared his throat to get your attention and folded his arms across his chest.
A moment later you stared up at him, your e/c eyes widening as you visibly jumped in your seat, dropping your phone onto your empty plate with a loud clatter.
“What’s your name?” He questioned bluntly before he could stop himself.
‘Damnit what the fuck am I doing?’ He cursed himself internally, he already knew your name so why the hell was he asking you what it was.
A small smile spread across your features, this was an interesting development...the intimidating man you were so used to seeing on a regular basis berating Hanji and frowning at everything was suddenly acting like a nervous teenager?
“It’s f/n.” You replied, your smile widening slightly.
You’d always had a soft spot for those who were awkward and clumsy when it came to the opposite sex, although in all honesty you never expected this from the man currently stood in front of you.
Curious to see how this would play out, you decided to throw a question of your own at him.
“What’s your name?”
“Levi.” He replied bluntly.
“Nice to meet you Levi.”
“Yeah. What are you doing this weekend?”
“I was thinking of going to the carnival.” You replied, a warm smile still gracing your lips.
“Alright then...I was thinking of doing the same.” Muttered Levi, gritting his teeth and trying to remain calm. “Would you like to go...with me?”
Levi’s cold grey eyes widened marginally, this had been a lot easier than he thought.
“What’s your number?” He inquired, reaching into his trouser pocket for his phone.
“Oh they’re swapping numbers!” Giggled Hanji, struggling to contain a squeal of glee at the unfolding scene before her.
“So another one of your matchmaking schemes has come to fruition?” Asked Mike, a knowing smirk tugging at his stubble framed lips.
“Cupid has nothing on me Sweetie!” Smiled Hanji proudly, watching Levi walk away towards the canteen exit before glancing over at you and giving you an enthusiastic thumbs up gesture.
Things were proceeding better than she could have predicted.
Chapter 8: A night to remember
Survey Corps Headquarters,
Checking his reflection in the mirror and running his hands through his hair, Levi tucked his fresh crisp white shirt into his black dress trousers and picked his cravat up from the bed.
He hated these fancy balls that the nobles held to show off their wealth, but unfortunately they provided a perfect opportunity for the military commanders to raise funds necessary to ensure the smooth running of their respective regiments.
The Military Police were the worst for hogging almost eighty percent of the budget set by Premier Zackley and the government for daily rations and weapons funds, everything else for the Garrison and Survey Corps had to be obtained by sucking up to the nobles.
This was where Levi came into play for the Survey Corps cause, being Humanity’s Strongest Soldier he was always the one that those snobs wanted to speak to...especially the ladies who would swoon and try to attract his attention.
If there was one thing he hated more than Erwin parading him in front of the nobles like a prize hog at a village fair, it was the unwanted attention and flirting from their daughters who wanted to further themselves by becoming his wife and bearing his children.
“Tch!” He shuddered at the idea of being tied to one of the rich aristocratic families, they had no morals or sense of duty and they certainly didn’t have any compassion or respect for what the Survey Corps stood for.
Hopefully with him having a companion tonight they would back off and leave him alone, although he doubted that very much. If anything they would probably start getting catty and jealous, noble women were the worst for being malicious gossipers and tearing strips off each other for no reason other than they could.
A moment later, a series of soft knocks on his office door broke him out of his thoughts.
Frowning he picked up his jacket and exited the bedroom, closing the door behind him.
“Name and business.” He inquired in a bored tone, placing the neatly folded item down on his desk while he finished tying his cravat.
Although judging by the time, he had a feeling he knew who the visitor was.
“It’s f/n l/n Sir...you told me to…”
The heavy wooden door slowly opened, pulling Levi’s attention towards it and causing his steel eyes to widen at the sight that greeted him.
F/n looked like a completely different person.
Her h/l h/c hair was styled into gentle waves that rested against her neck and flowed gracefully over her right shoulder, a subtle amount of black eyeliner drew attention to her e/c eyes, while her soft lips were adorned with a barely there tinge of gloss.
Finally an elegant black ankle length silk halter neck gown, a matching shawl linked through her elbows and sensible black shoes completed the new look.
“I um, wasn’t sure how I should dress for such an occasion so...I asked Squad Leader Nanaba for her help.” She smiled shyly, fighting the furious blush that was rising on her cheeks while her eyes studied Levi’s attire.
“You scrub up well Brat.” Nodded the raven haired captain approvingly, straightening his cravat once he had finished tying it.
“Thank you Captain.” She nervously bit her lip, remaining frozen to the spot. “I hope you don’t mind me saying...you look rather handsome.”
He raised an eyebrow in her direction, a small ghost of a smile tugging at his mouth for the briefest of seconds. It was the closest she was probably going to get to a “thank you” for her compliment, so she decided to take it.
“Alright, let’s go.” He remarked, picking up his jacket and draping it around his shoulders.
Upon reaching the courtyard, they found Erwin and Hanji stood already by the carriage waiting to take them to Lord Calendoro’s castle.
“Whoa, f/n is that you?” Gasped Hanji, her puppy brown eyes widening behind her glasses. “Damn Sweetie you look stunning!”
“Thanks Hanji, you look pretty amazing yourself!”
The other woman giggled softly and blushed, averting her gaze and shifting awkwardly on her feet.
She wore a beautiful blood red chiffon strapless ankle length gown with a pattern of roses from the waist down, a matching shawl and flat shoes. Her usually messy brown hair was straightened out, flowing freely around her shoulders and finally she had opted for a similar subtle style of makeup to that of f/n, but her lips were painted with a hint of red to make them appear fuller.
“Are you ready to go?” Questioned Erwin, straightening his black suit jacket and emerald bolo tie.
“Yeah let’s get this over with.” Said Levi, clearly wishing he was staying behind and not being forced to attend the ball.
“Ladies.” Smiled Erwin, offering Hanji his hand to help her into the carriage.
Once she was in and seated, Levi did the same for f/n, raising an eyebrow at the shocked expression on her face.
“Wow Shorty, look at you being a gentleman!” Giggled the bespectacled brunette when the young scout finally took his hand and climbed in, taking a seat opposite her and adjusting her dress while getting comfortable.
“Shut it Four Eyes!” Came the harsh reply as he joined them and sat next to f/n before Erwin climbed in and closed the door, signalling to the driver that they were ready to depart.
The sound a whip cracking sounded from the front of the carriage, followed by it jerking forward a second later and beginning its journey.
“So are you excited to be attending your first military ball?” Inquired Hanji as they left the Survey Corps headquarters and started down the dusty country road.
“I guess so...but what should I expect?” Asked f/n worriedly. “I grew up in a farming village, I’ve never associated with nobles before.”
“Tch, if you grew up on a farm you should be well trained in dealing with the pigs you'll encounter tonight!”
F/n quickly raised her hand to her mouth in a failed attempt to stifle a giggle, which ended up sounding more like she was choking than laughing.
“Levi!” Snapped Erwin, furrowing his bushy brows at the shorter male before flashing f/n a small smile. “The women like to gossip so expect lots of stares since you’ll be attending as Levi’s plus one, the men like to brag about their wealth so try and talk to them about your ideas for the regiment. It will most likely appeal to them to hear about your work in the weapons development branch, with a bit of luck it will help encourage them to invest more funds in the regiment.”
“I’ll try Sir.” She nodded, swallowing down the lump forming in her throat and turning to look out of the window at the slowly setting sun, tonight was certainly going to be a learning curve for her.
After roughly an hours journey, during which the sky had gone from a warm burnt orange to cold dark blue, they finally arrived at Lord Candeloro’s castle.
“We’re here Sir!” Announced the carriage driver, opening the door and allowing Erwin to exit first before helping Hanji.
Levi soon followed and held out a hand for f/n, as much as he hated attending these balls, they had certainly helped teach him how to behave when being accompanied by a female companion.
He would never admit it out loud, but he was secretly hoping he was making a good impression on her since being a gentleman was completely new to him and he felt extremely uncomfortable acting in such a manner.
F/n smiled and gingerly took his hand, holding her dress up slightly so she could exit to carriage without treading on it.
Her eyes soon turned to the vast foreboding castle before her, the first thing she noticed was that it was much grander than the Survey Corps headquarters.
Several large balconies adorned the outer walls that were visible, a large veranda with elaborately framed doors could be seen to her right and music could be clearly heard coming from the main hall.
“Shall we?” Asked Erwin, offering Hanji his arm before looking back to f/n and Levi. “Oh and Levi, try and be polite, acquiring funds is much easier if you use manners.”
Rolling his eyes, Erwin led Hanji towards the main entrance to join the line of other guests that were awaiting admittance.
“Let’s go.” Said Levi bluntly, offering f/n his arm.
“Yes Sir.” She replied, cautiously wrapping the fingers of her left hand around his bended elbow and allowing him to lead her to where Erwin and Hanji were currently standing.
“Ah Commander Erwin, Captain Levi!” Said a smartly dressed male stood at the main door leading into the castle’s courtyard. “Welcome, Lord Candeloro is expecting you.”
Erwin nodded as the man stepped aside and allowed them to pass.
Making their way across the torchlit courtyard, they followed the other guests to the main hall where the ball was already well underway.
Silken drapes hung from the supporting pillars of the well lit hall, servants in formal attire walked through the crowd of elegantly dressed ladies and suited gentlemen carrying tall crystal glasses of expensive champagne, while over towards the large double doors which no doubt led further into the castle, a space had been cleared to make a dance floor of sorts while several musicians played a variety of classical instruments for the dancers.
“Wow!” Gasped f/n, blinking slowly and looking around at the unfamiliar scene before her.
“Pretty impressive right?” Giggled Hanji.
“Tch, obscene more like!” Scoffed Levi, his frown deepening as he adjusted his jacket. “We risk our lives fighting titans and these pigs hide away here gorging themselves stupid!”
“Enough!” Warned Erwin, stopping himself from berating the short captain any further when a short grey haired male with a well rounded stomach wearing an expensively tailored suit approached them. A smile broke out across his wrinkled features, causing his pale green eyes to narrow.
“Erwin, welcome!” He greeted, extending a hand and glancing over at Levi. “Ah you brought Captain Levi with you too, excellent! We’re honored by your presence.”
The raven haired male rolled his eyes and remained silent.
“Lord Candeloro.” Smiled Erwin, shaking the other man’s hand. “Thank you for your invitation.”
“So who do we have here?” He asked, casting an eye over f/n. “Of course I recognize your lovely section commander, but I don’t recall ever seeing this enchanting creature on your captain’s arm.”
“F/n l/n of the Weapons Development Branch.” Said Erwin proudly.
“Delighted to meet you my dear!” Said the lord with a sweeping bow, reaching for her hand and placing a delicate kiss on it.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Lord Candeloro.” Replied f/n nervously, instinctively tightening her grip on Levi’s elbow and moving slightly closer to him when the lord finally released her.
“Your beauty is wasted on the titans.” Lord Candeloro chortled, snapping his fingers and gesturing for one of the servants to bring him a glass of champagne. “A fine young lady such as yourself should be settled down with a husband and children, not messing around in a filthy military warehouse making weapons!”
“Without people like her who are willing to work hard to achieve freedom for humanity, pigs like you wouldn’t be able to lounge around getting even fatter all day long!”
“Levi, enough!” Snapped Erwin, shooting Hanji a quick warning glare when she started giggling.
Lord Candeloro it seemed was unperturbed by the short captain’s comment, probably because he was already intoxicated before he had approached them if the pungent smell of alcohol on his breath was anything to go by.
“Enjoy the rest of your evening Erwin.” He smiled, downing his glass of champagne and walking away.
“Thank you for that Sir.” Said f/n, offering Levi a weak smile of gratitude.
The raven haired male nodded and turned his attention to the commander, daring him to berate him for speaking his mind, which he decided against.
In all honesty it was probably for the best, Levi clearly wasn’t going to listen to him so it would be pointless trying.
The atmosphere of the ball was a pleasant one to say the least, the gentlemen were happily drinking and taking turns in asking the ladies to dance with them.
Erwin and Hanji were doing the rounds with the other military commanders trying to secure funding for future operations and Levi was stood off to the side trying to remain inconspicuous and avoid the angry glares of the ladies who were jealously exchanging catty remarks about him being accompanied by f/n, who was thankfully unaware of them and happily chatting to a merchant she knew from her home village a few feet away from him.
“Who does that little tramp think she is?” He heard one disgruntled noble woman complain rather loudly from behind her fan, the object being waved in a rather vicious manner that seemed to match her anger. “How dare she think she has any right to lay a finger on Humanity’s Strongest!”
“She’s clearly a filthy commoner pretending to be a lady!” Replied another. “Look at the way she carries herself, ugh she’s not even trying to keep her back straight and look at the way she’s fiddling with her dress!"
“Maybe she spends too much time laying on her back which is why she can't stand up straight, she looks like she could pass for the Survey Corps mount!”
The women cackled and clinked their glasses together before taking a sip and continuing to glare in his direction.
A young man in a dark blue suit and plain white shirt approached him and offered him a nervous smile as he gestured to a familiar female beside him.
“I just heard some of the remarks from those...well “ladies” and wanted to make sure she was returned to you safely.” He said, releasing f/n’s arm.
“Yeah, probably for the best.” Said Levi bluntly.
“Well then f/n, I shall leave you to it. Enjoy the rest of your evening and good luck on your next expedition.”
“Thanks Will, give my regards to your family.”
After seeing her friend off, f/n turned her attention to the women who were now glaring at her with thinly veiled contempt.
“What’s their problem exactly Captain?” She questioned, furrowing her brows. “Have I done something wrong?”
“Tch, I need some air.” He replied bluntly, holding out his arm to indicate that she was to accompany him.
Glancing back at the jealous nobles again, f/n cautiously wrapped her fingers around his elbow and allowed him to lead her out onto the veranda.
Bright silver stars now dotted the dark evening sky over Lord Candeloro's castle, a subtle chill beginning to sweep over the countryside and send most of the ball’s guests back inside where it was warm.
All but two that was…
F/n and Levi stopped at the edge of the large stone veranda and looked out over the dark plains, illuminated only by the pale glow from the full moon above when the clouds parted and allowed its light to penetrate them.
“Wow, this view is beautiful!” Said f/n softly.
“Yeah, not bad.” Replied Levi.
A small rumble of applause from inside the main hall reached his ears as the music stopped, perhaps the musicians needed a break? Who knew how long they had been playing now.
“Where do you suppose the commander and Hanji are?” Asked f/n. “I haven’t seen them since Lord Candeloro introduced himself.”
“Tch, probably got his tongue up some noble bastards ass.”
“Have you always been fond of such rude jokes Captain?” F/n giggled.
Levi turned to look at her and raised an eyebrow, remaining silent and simply staring at her.
“Sorry.” She muttered, averting her gaze and feeling rather embarrassed for being so forward with him.
The wind picked up slightly, whistling through the balustrades and causing her to suppress a shiver as goosebumps rose on the exposed skin of her arms. Something which did not go unnoticed by the raven haired captain.
Removing his jacket from his shoulders, he carefully draped it around f/n.
He was feeling a little warm anyway so he didn’t mind letting her borrow it while they were out here, plus Erwin would probably be mad if one of their number ended up out of action because of a cold.
“Thank you Sir.” Smiled f/n, pulling the warm garment tighter around herself.
Levi nodded and turned his attention back towards the surrounding estate of the castle, a deep frown settling over his features as he wondered how much longer Erwin was going to spend schmoozing with the nobles.
He would’ve gladly given his right hand to be back at the Survey Corps headquarters in his office with a hot cup of black tea and possibly f/n for company, something which was currently confusing him.
Normally he preferred to be left alone, but even though this was the last place he wanted to be, he was finding it more tolerable purely because he had the young scout there with him...could it be that he was interested in her as more than just a comrade?
Before he could contemplate further the sound of someone else walking onto the veranda caught his attention.
One of the musicians, a violinist probably in need of a few minutes to themselves moved to stand a few feet away from him, flashing him a smile before proceeding to put the beautifully crafted instrument down on one of the stone benches so he could adjust the strings.
“Is everything okay Captain?”
Turning back to his left, Levi was met by f/n’s concerned gaze, however it was the way the moonlight caught her e/c eyes and made them sparkle that really got his attention.
Swallowing hard he found himself at a loss for words, this was completely new territory for him and he wasn’t sure he was comfortable with it.
Looking away again, he hoped she didn’t notice the faint blush that was now creeping across his pale cheeks, which was only made worse when the violinist chuckled lightly.
Picking up the instrument, he placed it on his shoulder and began to play a beautiful slow and gentle tune.
A/N: Listen as you read the next part! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQjs_kAW5Bw&list=LLE9fNV8T73ydl8pTmpTqEEg&index=91
“Psst, hey Levi!”
Levi blinked and looked around but there was no one there, he could've sworn he had heard someone trying to get his attention.
'Tch, so not only am I dealing with unfamiliar feelings that are making themselves known, but now I'm also hearing things?' He mused internally.
“Levi, behind you!” Came the hushed voice again.
Turning to look back towards the large doors, the short captain’s eyes narrowed when he spotted Hanji stood near them.
“Ask f/n to dance!” She whisper shouted, which surprisingly the other female didn’t hear.
“Piss off Shitty Glasses!” Mouthed Levi angrily.
“Dance with her damn you!”
“Are you alright Sir?” Inquired f/n, her brows furrowing slightly, causing his head to snap round to meet her gaze.
“Dance with me.”
“Tch, did I stutter Brat?” He scoffed before he could stop himself.
“No Sir, I just....”
“So do it then!”
Swallowing hard and carefully placing the jacket down on one of the wrought iron chairs that were dotted about the veranda, f/n hesitantly moved closer to the raven haired male.
She raised her left hand and placed it on his shoulder, tensing slightly when he awkwardly placed his right hand on her waist.
Watching her closely, he then took her right hand in his left and looked into her eyes.
“Um Sir, have you ever done this before?” Questioned f/n nervously, noticing the slight hesitation Levi seemed to be displaying.
“No…” He muttered, averting his gaze for a moment. “I’ve seen these pigs do it often enough to learn the basic steps though."
“Okay, I trust you.” She smiled, lightly squeezing his hand for reassurance.
Raising his head and summoning his courage, Levi led her off in what he was hoping was some kind of waltz...at least that was what he thought it was.
The violinist smiled and continued to watch them as he played, adjusting his hold on the instrument he chuckled lightly once again as Levi clumsily attempted to twirl f/n under his arm and almost ended up holding her in a bear hug.
Thankfully the young female corrected herself at the last moment and finished in the correct position in front of him, ready to proceed again.
“Don’t hold my hand so tightly next time.” She advised. “Just grip it loosely otherwise I won’t be able to turn properly."
Clicking his tongue thoughtfully, Levi led her off again, this time however with a little more confidence in his step.
As the violinist neared the end of his tune, Levi once again attempted to twirl f/n under his arm.
This time however he loosened his grip on her wrist and the maneuver was completed perfectly, much to his relief.
Smiling warmly, f/n found a sudden burst of confidence and curtsied, having noticed from watching the others that evening that it was customary at the end of a dance.
Furrowing his brows slightly but deciding to go along with her, Levi bowed, keeping his steel eyed gaze locked with hers as they both straightened up together.
“Bravo, that was wonderful!” Squealed Hanji, applauding enthusiastically.
“What do you want Four Eyes?” Groaned Levi.
“Erwin wanted to know where you two were, he’s managed to secure the funding for the next expedition so we can leave.”
“Ready when you are Sir.” Said f/n evenly, retrieving his jacket and holding it out to him.
“Keep it until we return to the HQ.” He shrugged, offering her his arm.
“Alright.” Draping his over her shoulders she took his arm. “Thank you Sir...and thank you for the dance.”
“I’ll go find Erwin, meet us by the carriage.” Said Hanji, heading back inside and disappearing into the crowd.
Levi nodded and led f/n back inside, the sooner they left this annoying ball the better.
Still, the evening hadn’t been all bad, it had it’s good points...dancing with f/n being the main one.
The carriage ride back to the Survey Corps headquarters was a peaceful one.
Thankfully they had managed to make a hasty escape from the ball without needing to observe the social niceties of bidding Lord Candeloro good night, mainly because he was far too intoxicated to even notice how many guests were still in attendance.
However it had been a successful evening and Erwin’s cozying up to the nobles had paid off.
Many of them had been convinced to help fund the next expedition and there was even some left over that he planned to use for more weapons research to be carried out.
Arriving at the castle, the carriage came to a steady halt as they entered the courtyard.
“We’re back Sir.” Announced the driver, opening the door.
Erwin nodded and stepped out first, helping Hanji down a moment later, followed by Levi who offered a hand to assist f/n.
“So did you enjoy yourself?” Grinned Hanji knowingly, wiggling her eyebrows in the direction of f/n and Levi.
“Actually I did.” Smiled the young scout. “It was quite an experience.”
“Oh I bet it was!”
“Tch, what’s that supposed to mean?” Growled Levi, folding his arms and narrowing his steel grey eyes at her.
“Oh nothing!” She smiled, giggling manically when Erwin raised a bushy eyebrow at her in a questioning manner.
“Right well...” Began the commander, clearing his throat. “Thank you for your participation tonight. Get some rest, we have a busy schedule tomorrow.”
“Yes Sir.” Replied f/n, earning her a small smile from the tall blonde.
“See you two in the morning!” Winked Hanji, turning on her heels and making her way towards the north side of the courtyard, opting to take the quickest route back to her office.
“I better head back to my dormitory and get this dress off.” Mused f/n thoughtfully, looking down at her attire. “I need to return it to Nanaba once I’ve had it washed.”
Levi nodded and stared at her for a moment, feeling his heart race in his chest as their eyes met.
“I’ll walk you back to your dormitory.” He muttered. “It’s on the way to my office.”
“Oh, okay thank you.” She smiled shyly, averting her gaze and feeling her face heat up as a blush rose on her cheeks. “You’re proving to be quite the gentleman tonight Captain.”
“Sorry, Captain Levi.”
“Tch, drop the formal shit f/n!” He snorted, instinctively offering her his arm, not even realizing he had done it until she took it. He’d been doing it all evening and now it had become second nature to him, much to his annoyance. “Just call me Levi.”
Following the brief walk through the dimly lit orange glow of the familiar stone corridors, the two scouts finally stopped outside a simple heavy set wooden door.
Releasing Levi’s arm, f/n carefully pulled his jacket from around her shoulders and held it out to him.
“Thank you for tonight Levi.” She smiled, meeting his gaze and holding it. “I’ve really enjoyed it, especially our little dance on the veranda.”
Levi nodded awkwardly and took his jacket from her, folding it across his left arm.
The two of them stared at one another for what felt like an eternity, steel grey orbs meeting warm e/c ones like it was the most natural thing in the world.
“Levi?” Questioned f/n worriedly, finally breaking the silence between them.
“You’re so damned beautiful!” He muttered, causing her eyes to widen at his words.
Hesitantly moving closer to her, he slowly raised his hand to her face and rested his palm against her cheek.
Swallowing hard, f/n took the initiative and leaned into him, feeling his warm breath fanning across her face before their lips finally met in the briefest of embraces.
Pulling back she worriedly studied his reaction, relaxing a moment later when he allowed her a small smile and pulled her back to him, placing another gentle kiss on her soft lips…
Levi’s steel grey eyes opened wide as his body jerked beneath the bedsheets.
Breathing deeply, he ran a hand over his face and reached for his mobile phone to check the time.
It was seven in the morning.
He blinked in disbelief, had he really managed six hours uninterrupted sleep? That had to be a new personal best considering how badly his insomnia had been plaguing him as of late, still it made a nice change to not wake up in a cold sweat after seeing a vivid dream of him slaying giant human shaped monsters.
Pushing himself up he climbed out of bed and ran his hands back through his hair, it might have been the weekend which meant he didn’t have to go to work, but there was no chance of getting back to sleep and enjoying a lay in now that he was awake.
Checking through his phone messages he opened up the latest one in his inbox that had been received just before he put it on silent for the night so he cold try and get some rest, staring at it hard for a few moments.
Goodnight Levi, I'm looking forward to our date tomorrow night! x
Chapter 9: First date
Over the past couple of days since arranging to go to the carnival together, you and Levi had spent quite a lot of your free time exchanging texts and getting to know each other a little better.
So far Levi had learned that you lived a few miles outside the main city with your father, you had a chocolate labrador called Sasha and that you used to play hockey for your school team during your last year there when you were a teenager.
In return, you had found out that Levi also liked dogs, was a bit of a tea connoisseur and had been banned from playing rugby in school when he was eleven after he got a little too rough and broke another pupils nose during a tackle.
However your interactions had not just been limited to merely texting each other, you'd also exchanged greetings if you happened to pass by each other in the canteen or when Levi came into the client consultant area on his way to a meeting with Erwin and the directors in the boardroom on the fourth floor.
Of course this sudden interaction between the two of you did not go unnoticed by your colleagues.
Nanaba and Nickolas didn't seem to take a particularly strong interest, but they did wish you luck for your date.
Ilse and Luke however were not so subtle in their approach.
In fact, the very afternoon that you mentioned Levi had asked you out during tea break, Luke had pinned you to the chair while Isle took out her notebook and started interrogating you about what had happened.
Thankfully Nanaba had stepped in and told them to back off before they started shining a flashlight in your face and doing a "good cop, bad cop" style of questioning on you, which in all honesty would've been hilarious considering the shock of the raven haired male approaching you and asking you on a date was still slowly sinking in.
One thing was for certain though, it was going to be a very interesting morning tea break come Monday...
Picking up his phone when it vibrated again, Levi swiped his thumb across the screen to open the new text message.
“Someone’s popular today!” Smiled Kuchel, picking up her tea cup and raising it to her lips.
“It’s just f/n checking what time I’m picking her up tonight.” Shrugged Levi, sending a reply and putting the device back down on the kitchen table.
“You two have been texting a lot, I’m surprised you don’t know everything about each other by now.”
Levi frowned, his mother was far too excited about him having a date and it was making him feel even more nervous than he already was.
Ever since he told her that you’d accepted his offer of going to the carnival together, she’d been pecking his head asking questions and trying to offer advice about how to make sure things went smoothly. He knew she meant well and appreciated her efforts, but now it had just become slightly repetitive.
“Don’t look at me like that!” She giggled, leaning over and pinching his cheek. “I can’t help being excited that my little boy is finally going on his first date!”
“I’m going to get ready.” He muttered, hastily standing up and exiting the kitchen before she could say another word.
Kuchel shook her head and sipped her tea, she knew full well she’d embarrassed him. The sudden rush of blood to his face which tinged his pale cheeks a rather rosy shade of pink was a huge giveaway.
She couldn’t help it, she was proud of him for finding the courage to ask you out...even if he had been practically bullied into it by Hanji!
He’d always been such an introvert and never really had anyone he could class as a true friend that she had ended up fearing he may end up spending his life alone, so to find out that there was someone out there who was willing to give him a chance made her extremely happy.
Sighing deeply she frowned and drummed her fingers off the table, things hadn’t been easy for her family recently.
Since her cancer had spread to her other lung she was starting to lose hope that she would beat it and had began thinking about putting things in order, much to her brother’s annoyance. Especially when she told him that she wasn’t going to inform Levi of what she was doing, reasoning that he was under enough pressure as it was helping to pay the expensive medical bills each month.
It was really taking its toll on him and she hated herself for it, he needed a break and some time to just do something for himself for a change.
Finishing her cup of tea she stood up and went over to the work top to wash up, she had faith that he was going to have a good time tonight and hopefully this date would help take his mind off things for an evening.
Exiting the shower, you wrapped a towel around yourself before proceeding to grab a smaller one to dry your hair with and heading back to your bedroom.
“Hey girl, how long have you been sat there?” You giggled, opening the bathroom door and finding your beloved pet staring up at you expectantly.
Walking towards the door slightly to your right, you pushed it open and allowed the chocolate labrador that had been patiently waiting for your return to enter the room and jump up on the bed. After a moment of sniffing and scratching the sheets, Sasha laid down and continued to watch your every movement with complete fascination.
Glancing over at the dressing table at the foot of your bed, you noticed your phone flashing and moved to pick it up.
Two new messages had been received during your absence, one from Levi and the other from Hanji.
Opening the app you read through them both.
Hey Sweetie, can’t wait to see you and Shorty at the carnival tonight. Don’t worry I’ll let you spend some time alone with him first before coming to find you! Make sure you text me when you get there! xx
“Yeah you wish Hanji!” You giggled, closing the message and opening the one from Levi.
Hey, I’ll pick you up at half past six.
Checking the clock on your bedside table you saw that it was currently half past five, which gave you roughly an hour to get ready.
“Well Sasha.” You smiled, putting the phone down and walking over to your wardrobe. “I better get motivated and find something to wear.”
Levi was taking no chances as far as personal grooming was concerned.
After showering, he had a shave, trimmed his hair and then spent at least ten minutes making sure that not a single raven strand was out of place.
“Oi Pretty Boy!” Shouted Kenny through the locked bathroom door, followed by several loud thumps on the wood with his fist. “Quit preening yourself in there, some of us need to take a shit!”
“Tch, keep your panties on old man I’m nearly done!” He retorted, searching the bathroom cabinet for the aftershave his mother had brought him for his birthday.
Quickly slapping some on, he made sure the towel around his waist was secure and exited the bathroom.
“About damn time!” Growled his uncle, pushing past him and slamming the door shut, the lock clicking into place a moment later.
“Stop arguing you two!” Shouted Kuchel from her bedroom, making sure they could hear her over the loud hum of her oxygen machine.
Rolling his eyes, Levi made his way into his own room and closed the door.
He’d already chosen his attire for the evening before showering.
A smart dark brown waistcoat, white long sleeved shirt and black jeans with a matching belt were already hung on the wardrobe door, while a pair of black shoes were placed in front of it.
Checking the time on his phone he noticed that it was almost quarter to six, he’d need to be leaving at around six o’clock if he wanted to make it to your house on time.
You’d already sent him your address earlier that day and it happened to be in an area he was quite familiar with, so finding it wasn’t going to be a problem.
Drying himself off and tossing the towel into the laundry hamper in the corner of the room, he got dressed and checked his reflection in the full length mirror of the wardrobe door one last time.
Satisfied with his appearance, he picked up his wallet and keys from the bedside table and put them into his jeans pocket before retrieving his phone and sending you a quick text to let you know he was on his way.
Kuchel frowned and shifted slightly in her bed, adjusting the nasal cannula on her face before returning to reading her book.
A few moments later a gentle knock on the door distracted her.
“Yes?” She called, smiling when her son entered the room. “Oh Levi, you look so handsome!”
“I’m heading off.” He said softly, standing next to the bed.
“Alright Sweetheart, good luck.” She replied, placing her book down on the bed and motioning for him to give her a hug before leaving. “Oh you smell nice, that’s the aftershave I got you for your birthday isn’t it?”
“Hmm, make sure you stash it somewhere safe so Kenny doesn’t decide to try and use it!” She warned as she released him and gently cupped his face, placing a loving kiss on his forehead before letting go of him completely.
“Try and use what?” Said another voice.
“Never you mind!” Answered Kuchel sternly before turning her attention back to Levi. “Go and enjoy yourself, your uncle will keep an eye on me.”
“Heh oh yeah, I almost forgot you’ve got a hot date tonight haven’t you?” Snickered Kenny, taking a seat at the foot of the bed and folding his arms. “Good luck with that, oh and don’t forget to stick something on the end of it if she puts out!”
“Tch, you’re disgusting!” Snorted the younger male, walking out of the room and closing the door behind him.
“Do you have to be so crude?” Groaned Kuchel, picking up her book and searching for where she had gotten to.
“Oh come on, I’m merely trying to offer the runt some adv-ouch!”
“Stop calling him that!” She snapped, leaning forward and hitting him over the head with her book. “Since I know you won’t apologize, make yourself useful and fetch me a glass of water.”
“Fine, back in five minutes.” He grumbled, standing up and rubbing the back of his head before leaving the room, not noticing his younger sister smirk evilly to herself as he did.
One day he would finally learn not to call her son a runt...but clearly, today was not that day.
Pulling up outside your house, Levi exited the car and made his way to the front porch.
He was roughly five minutes early, but hopefully you’d be nearly ready by now.
Exhaling deeply and knocking on the door he was immediately answered by the sound of a dog barking from the other side, followed a minute later by a tall/short man with h/l h/c hair and e/c eyes opening it.
“I’m here to pick f/n up, is she ready yet?”
“Ah you must be Levi?” Smiled your father, quickly bending to grab the animal’s collar and hold it back while he stepped aside. “Come in, she won’t be long.”
Doing as he was asked Levi entered and looked down at the large brown dog.
Its tail was wagging madly as it tried to get to him, several loud whimpers and whines being directed at him.
“Calm down Sasha!” Scolded your father, gesturing for Levi to head into the living room. “Take a seat, I’ll give f/n a shout.”
Walking into the living room, the raven haired male silently sat in the plush leather arm chair and looked towards the open glass paned door as your father released Sasha and she made a dash for him.
“F/n, Levi’s here.” Called your father from the bottom of the stairs.
“Okay I’m nearly ready, give me two minutes!”
Levi raised an eyebrow when Sasha stopped in front of him and started to eagerly sniff him, her tail whipping back and forth happily as he raised his hand to her head and gently scratched behind her right ear.
“She won’t be long.” Smiled your father, entering the living room and sitting down on the sofa. “Sasha seems to have taken a shine to you, keep doing that to her ear and you’ll have a friend for life!”
“I’ve always liked dogs.” He replied, moving his hand lower to tickle her chin as she raised her head and made an attempt to lick his face, which he easily dodged.
“So you work at Survey Corps with f/n then?”
Your father nodded thoughtfully and continued to watch him stroke Sasha before the sound of you finally making your way downstairs finally distracted him and prevented him from asking further questions.
“Ah speaking of f/n…”
You frowned and checked your reflection in the mirror, delicately running your fingers through your freely flowing hair.
After much deliberation, you had opted to wear a modest halterneck white dress with various colorful flowers printed on it that stopped just above your knees, flesh coloured tights and your favourite knee high boots.
When it came to your makeup, you’d opted for some subtle smokey eyeshadow, a hint of eyeliner and a very pale shade of lipgloss.
Suddenly the sound of Sasha barking downstairs at someone knocking on the door caught your attention, in all honesty you’d not even heard her jump off the bed and leave the room.
“F/n, Levi’s here.” Called a voice that was easily recognizable as your father.
“Okay I’m nearly ready, give me two minutes!”
Exhaling deeply you quickly searched the wardrobe again for your thin black cardigan and shoulder bag to keep your phone, house key and purse in before checking your reflection one last time and making your way downstairs.
Levi looked up at the sound of footsteps slowly crossing the laminate wood of the hallway, his steel grey eyes widening as he stood up when you appeared in the doorway.
“Hi Levi.” You smiled shyly, placing your hands behind your back so he couldn’t see you fidgeting with them.
“F/n.” He greeted quietly, not quite sure what else he was meant to say for a moment before adding a hasty “You look good.”
Your father chuckled and shook his head, you’d told him Levi wasn’t exactly confident around women but he hadn’t believed you until now.
“Are you ready to go?”
“Right then.” Smiled your father, gaining yours and Levi’s immediate attention as he stood up and approached you, placing a gentle kiss on your forehead. “I won’t treat you like a pair of sixteen year olds and give you a lecture about behaving yourselves…”
“Yeah please don’t!” You giggled. “It’s kinda embarrassing considering I’m twentyone and Levi’s twentyfive.”
“Oi, less of your cheek young lady!” He chided, tapping the underside of your chin with his index finger and escorting the two of you out of the house. “Have a good night.”
After watching the pair of you get into Levi’s car and drive away, your father closed the door and returned to the living room, staring at a silver framed photograph on the mantlepiece showing a young woman with h/l h/c hair and e/c eyes holding a small girl around two years old in her arms.
“Well m/n.” He said with a sad smile. “Our little girl is finally all grown up and going on her first date, he seems a decent guy so I’m sure you’d have approved if you were still here...”
A low groan from behind him followed by a nudge and several licks of his hand soon broke him out of his one sided conversation.
“Alright, I’ll feed you.” He chuckled, scratching Sasha’s chin and glancing back at the photograph one last time before heading into the kitchen, followed by the eager chocolate labrador a split second later.
Trost Spring Carnival was always a sell out event for the city and nearby surrounding areas.
Held in a large open field on the southern outskirts, it was eagerly anticipated by children and adults alike.
It boasted several large rides, including a carousel and ferris wheel, various food stalls ranging from traditional to exotic and games for players of all ages and abilities.
By the time you and Levi arrived, loud music was already being pumped through the speaker system as entertainers in brightly coloured costumes, teetering around on stilts were busy walking around and greeting guests as they made their way to the main gate.
“So do you come here every year?” You inquired, eyeing up the shooting gallery and deciding to come back to it when there wasn’t such a pushy crowd surrounding it.
“A few times with my mother when I was younger.” Levi shrugged, putting an arm out to stop you from going any further when a group of small children ran out in front of you, screaming and giggling at each other.
“Tch, damned noisy brats!”
“They’re not as bad as the drunk teenagers.” You reasoned, turning your attention to a stall on the left when a loud cheer went up from the assembled crowd. “Fancy seeing what’s going on over there?”
Approaching the stall, the two of you found it to be an arm wrestling competition.
Participants paid to enter against the stall owners seven foot tall, well muscled and very scary looking husband.
“Who fancies trying to beat me?” He yelled, showing off his naked tattooed upper body for his audience with a series of poses that made his already bulging muscles ripple under his skin.
“Come on folks, try your luck!” Called his wife. “The winner gets their pick of any prize they like! We’ve got fine wines for the adults, cuddly toys for your children, even some rare tea leaves from Mitras for all you lovely ladies!”
Levi’s head jerked up at the mention of rare tea leaves, an action that did not go unnoticed by you.
“Oi, over here!” He shouted, drawing the crowd’s attention as they parted to allow him through.
“Oh a new challenger!” Smiled the stall owner, gesturing for him to take a seat at the table her husband currently occupied.
“Levi you can’t be serious?” You gasped, e/c eyes flicking between him and the man he was planning to face. “He’s twice your size, you’ll end up with a broken arm!”
“I’d listen to your girlfriend if I were you Shrimp, she talks a lot of sense!” Called the stall owners husband, a dirty smile slowly spreading across his bearded face. “Hey Sweetheart, anytime you fancy stepping out with a real man, give me a call!”
“Okay, forget what I just said about not taking him on...” You growled looking Levi full square in the face. “Knock him on arrogant ass!”
The raven haired male nodded and removed his jacket, handing it over to you he then rolled his sleeves up and made his way over to the table where the stall holders husband was sitting.
“Good luck pal.” She smirked, eagerly accepting the entry fee before gesturing for him to prepare for the match.
Narrowing his eyes Levi got comfortable and raised his right hand, placing his elbow on the table and glaring at his opponent, completely oblivious to the sudden silence that had descended over the audience.
“Heh, hope your girlfriend is a nurse Shrimp!” Scoffed the stall owner’s husband, making sure to bang his elbow down on the wooden table, causing it to shake. He then gripped Levi’s hand tight enough to make him wince and almost send it numb. “You’ll need one by the time I’m done with you!”
“Okay boys, on three.” Yelled the stall owner, turning to the crowd and encouraging them to countdown with her. “One...Two...THREE!”
Levi gritted his teeth and tightened his hold on the other man’s hand, grunting slightly as he kept his arm steady, much to his opponents annoyance.
“Oh not bad Shrimp!” Taunted the older male. “You’re stronger than you look!”
The crowd went wild cheering and braying for a winner to emerge.
“Come on Levi!” You yelled, watching with barely concealed worry that your date had bitten off more than he could chew.
Still he was doing well at holding his own so far, maybe he actually stood a chance at winning.
Several tense moments passed and they were still at a stalemate, however Levi had noticed that his opponent who had been doing this for some time prior to his arrival was starting to weaken.
The table shook beneath the two men's arms, muscles straining and heated glares of intimidation passing between them in an attempt to gain dominance over the other.
Tightening his grip once more, he inhaled deeply and held it, throwing every ounce of strength he had into his current task and managing to slam the other man’s hand down onto the table’s surface.
“Yes!” You screamed in delight, rushing forward through the applauding crowd and wrapping your arms around Levi’s neck, hugging him from behind. “That was amazing, I can’t believe you beat him!”
The raven haired male tensed up momentarily at the feeling of you embracing him, but soon relaxed again when you let go and blushed as you handed him his coat. Turning around he raised an eyebrow at the now stunned man staring up at him, rotating his wrist to try and work out the stiffness.
“Well I underestimated you and paid the price.” He smirked, offering a congratulatory nod. “Good job.”
“Okay then, pick your prize.” Smiled the stall owner, gesturing to the shelves behind her which were loaded with various items. “What tickles your fancy? Pick anything you like!”
“The tea leaves.”
“You got it!” She replied, retrieving the box from the shelf and handing it over before once again addressing the crowd and daring the next challenger to come forward.
“Ready to go?” Inquired Levi.
“Yeah, fancy checking out some of the other entertainers?” You replied, flashing him another shy smile. “You don’t really strike me as a roller coaster loving type of guy.”
“You’re right, I’m not.” He answered bluntly, however his tone soon softened when he thought about how good it had felt when you hugged him a few moments ago...even if you had caught him off guard. Clearing his throat he cautiously reached for your hand, his heart skipping several beats when your fingers closed around his without hesitation. “So...where are we going next?”
“Oh come on Sweetie, let’s go on the Hyper Blaster!” Giggled Hanji, scoffing down another large mouthful of pink candy floss and pointing to a large tower where the riders were launched up at at high speed before plummeting back down to earth.
“No way!” Cringed Moblit nervously. “I just ate, I’d prefer to keep my food in my stomach!”
“It was one hotdog!”
“Yes and I’d prefer not to bring it back up!”
Rolling her eyes the bespectacled brunette took another large bite out of her sweet treat and pulled out her mobile phone, frowning at the fact she hadn’t received any messages.
“Ugh come on f/n text me back!” She groaned, slipping the device back into her jeans pocket and resuming munching on her candy floss as she scanned the large crowd. “I wanna know how your date with Shorty is going.”
As if on cue, Moblit tapped her shoulder to get her attention before pointing to a familiar raven haired male sat at a nearby table in front of one of the food stalls.
“Hey Hanji, isn’t that Mr Ackerman over there?”
“Over there, I think he’s with someone though. It’s hard to tell from this distance.”
“Perfect!” She squealed, stuffing her candy floss back into its packaging and sealing it before wrapping an arm around the now terrified male. “Moblit my dear, it’s time to turn this duo into a quartet!”
Chapter 10: A shot through the heart
After Levi’s victory against the arm wrestling challenge stall holder’s husband, the two of you had decided to have something to eat before proceeding to check out the rest of the entertainment the carnival had to offer that year.
Having found an unoccupied picnic style table near a row fast food stands, the two of you sat down out of the way of the main crowd with a burger and a slush while the conversation turned towards Levi’s prize.
“So on a scale of one to ten, how rare is that tea?” You asked, swallowing down another mouthful of food.
Levi raised an eyebrow and eyed up the metal container, it was a brand of tea he’d already sampled and added a few of its leaves to the collection he kept in his room.
“About an eight.” He shrugged, taking another bite of his burger.
“Can I?” You inquired, nodding to it.
Making sure to wipe your hands thoroughly before touching it, remembering Nanaba's warning about what a clean freak he was, you picked up the container and read the description of its contents.
“Mitrian Black Leaves, I’ve never heard of it being available around these parts. Is it any good?”
“There’s quite a strong burnt aftertaste to it, but that’s down to the way the leaves are dried out.” He replied, wiping his mouth and hands on his napkin before picking up his slush. “Once picked they spend three days in heated wooden cabin, then an hour in an oven at around two hundred and fifty degrees for three hours until they shrivel up.”
“Wow, quite a long winded process then.” You mused, placing the container back down on the table. “So is there a specific way to brew it?”
“Yeah, but it’s a little complicated to explain.”
“Maybe you could show me sometime?”
Levi’s steel eyes widened at that comment, not entirely sure whether you were just saying it in passing or genuinely meant it.
“Alright then.” He muttered, distracting himself with a sip of his slush, which meant he missed the shy smile and accompanying shake of your head which followed.
He was so unsure of himself when it came to you attempting to flirt with him that you couldn’t help but find it endearing, it had always been your weakness when it came to the opposite sex and Levi had somehow ticked all the boxes of what you looked for in a man without even realizing it.
He was shy, awkward at flirting and starting a conversation...but when it was about a topic he had an interest in he became confident and more relaxed.
The fact you found him physically attractive was an added bonus.
Despite the fact he mainly glared or frowned at everything, he had beautiful stormy eyes grey eyes, shiny well groomed raven hair with a neatly shaved undercut, strong cheekbones and a well structured jaw...basically to you he was practically perfect!
Now that you were getting to know him a little better, you were struggling to understand why you had been so reluctant to let Hanji set you up on this date...well that was a lie. You remembered all too clearly the way he lost his temper with her a couple of weeks ago and were terrified he would shout at you as soon as look at you. Thankfully when he asked to to accompany him to the carnival he had shown you his vulnerable side that hardly anyone knew about, but to be fair regarding Hanji, she did kind of provoke a rather snappy response from most people if she pressed the right buttons.
Suddenly, almost as if on cue, a familiar voice broke through your thoughts as you reached for your slush, almost poking yourself in the eye with the straw.
“F/n! Shorty! Fancy seeing you two here!”
“Hanji wait!” Protested Moblit, desperately struggling to get free of the vice like grip she had on his arm as she dragged him towards the table you and Levi were occupying.
Hanji however wasn't listening, far too interested in her own personal agenda as a manic smile spreading across her face when they came within range of you.
“F/n! Shorty! Fancy seeing you two here!”
Levi’s head jerked around almost instantly, a glare of annoyance imminently fixing itself onto his face.
“What the hell are you doing here Shitty Glasses?”
You tried and failed to suppress a giggle at his nickname for her, somehow it sounded a lot funnier now you weren’t at work.
“I wanted to see how your date was going.” She smiled innocently, raising her head slightly when she saw you. “Oh wow f/n, you look stunning!”
“Thanks, but um..." You started nervously. "I’m gonna have to agree with Levi, we’re kinda trying to have a date here and we really don’t want a third wheel!”
“Oh no don’t worry I won’t be playing gooseberry!” Laughed the bespectacled brunette, wrapping an arm around Moblit and pulling him in close. “I have my own date!”
“Piss off and leave us alone!” Growled Levi, slamming his now empty slush cup down onto the table.
“Oh don’t worry we won’t embarrass you! Will we Moblit?”
“Hanji, I really think we should just let them enjoy their date in peace!” Muttered the petrified male, swallowing hard when he noticed the enraged look on the shorter male's face.
“Tch, that’s the first sensible thing I’ve ever heard you say!” Scoffed Levi, raising an eyebrow at you when he caught you smirking out the corner of his eye.
“Aw come on, it’ll be fun!” She pleaded, batting her long eyelashes at him in an attempt to win him over. “You and f/n, me and Moblit…”
“What part of “no” don’t you understand?”
“Hanji please can you just leave us alone?” You asked, conveying a stern tone but also trying not to sound too harsh at the same time. "For me?"
“Oh alright, since you asked so nicely.” She sighed, however unbeknownst to you and Levi, she had a cunning plan in mind to make sure she didn’t miss anything. “Come on Moblit, let’s go watch the knife throwers.”
“Pain in the ass.” Muttered Levi, rolling his eyes and retrieving his tea leaves. “So what do you want to do now?”
“Hmm, not sure.” You replied, trying to look through the crowd and get a better idea of if there was anything of interest nearby and spotting a board displaying a picture of a woman clad in a leather bikini with matching high heeled boots twirling around two flaming torches. “You like fire dancers?”
The raven haired male shrugged, anything that meant he was as far away from Hanji and her meddling was fine by him.
“Anything that gets us away from Four Eyes.”
“Okay let’s go.”
Impatiently hiding behind one of the food stalls until you and Levi finally stood up from the table and made your way back towards the crowd, another manic grin spreading across Hanji's lips at the sight of Levi reaching for your hand and you more than willingly accepting his request.
“Eek they’re holding hands!” She squealed, raising her fists to her face and shaking them like she was holding a pair of maracas. “Come on Moblit, we have to hurry before we lose them!”
“I thought we were going to watch the knife throwers?” Questioned the confused male, quickly chasing after his companion as she jumped out of her hiding place and started to follow her quarry.
“Oh they can wait! F/n will probably take him to see them later, now hurry up before we lose them!”
Loud heavy bass music was being pumped out of the speakers set up at the fire dancers stage by the time you and Levi arrived and found an empty space among the audience members which provided a good view of the action.
The dancers took it in turns to perform throughout the night, that way each of them managed to have rest intervals and didn’t end up risking injury through being too exhausted to concentrate on their act.
Two beautiful women clad in black leather bikinis, fish net tights and black calf high leather stiletto boots moved into view and took center stage. Confident smiles adorned their faces as they lit their torches and started to twirl them around, creating a mesmerizing orange pattern as the flames were whipped around their bodies at high speed.
The crowd started to cheer and clap as they continued their routine, the tricks becoming slightly more dangerous as the excitement grew.
“Remember kids, do not try this at home!” Said a voice over the speaker system. “These people are trained professionals!”
“Tch, they probably only have that announcement because some stupid brat decided to try it and go their ass burned!” Scoffed Levi.
“Oh and I suppose you were always a good little boy who did exactly as they were told?” You giggled and playfully nudged him in the ribs, earning you a raised eyebrow and unimpressed glare in return.
“Well I wasn’t stupid enough to mess around with fire!”
“Okay, so what was the most dangerous thing you ever did as a child?”
Levi frowned and stared you in the eye, his glare softening as he studied your appearance.
The way your h/l, h/c hair gently blew around your face when the wind picked up, how the light from the dancers flames caught your e/c eyes and made them stand out against the darkened shadows around the stage designed to enhance the performance. To him you looked as beautiful as you had in the dream where you danced together on the moonlit veranda in his previous life.
“Well?” You questioned, flashing him a cheeky smile and snapping him out of his thoughts.
“Tch, my uncle caught me playing with his knife collection when I was five.” He muttered, looking back towards the stage as the performers set up for their next display. “Now you’re going to tell me you never got into trouble as a brat aren’t you?”
“Wrong actually!” You giggled rather cheekily. “When I was eight my dad was building me a climbing frame for the back garden, he went into the house to take a phone call and when he came back out...I’d drilled a hole through the neighbour’s fence and pierced their inflatable paddling pool...which was full of water at the time!”
Levi’s eyes widened slightly, he’d never imagined someone who looked so innocent to be such a rebel, it genuinely surprised him.
Another cheer went up from the crowd, pulling your attention towards the stage once more as the dancers swapped over and a new act commenced.
This time the dancer was blindfolded and swinging around two pieces of rope with the ends set on fire.
She twirled and jumped, effortlessly landing with all the grace of a ballerina while still managing to find her way around the stage.
The display became even more impressive as she moved to stand with the toe of her boot on the edge of the stage and whip the flames of the rope out above the audience's heads.
“Shit, that has to take years of practice!” You said thoughtfully, moving closer to Levi and practically pushing your body into his as the dancer turned on her heels and approached the side of the stage where you were stood.
The flames licked the air above your heads, a loud gasp going up from the portion of the crowd the dancer was currently performing near as she once again stepped to the very edge of the stage, the toe of her left boot stopping before the drop down to the grass below.
“Tch, she’d be screwed if it went wrong!”
“Are you trying to jinx it?”
Rolling his eyes, Levi turned his attention back to the stage as the dancer returned to the center of it, removing her blindfold and bowing as the audience applauded.
“So anything else you want to see?” You asked with a smile.
Levi furrowed his brows thoughtfully, however a rather irritated frown soon found its way onto his face when he caught sight of a certain bespectacled brunette grinning at him from the opposite side of the stage…
“Aha! There they are!” Giggled Hanji, spotting Levi glaring at her through the crowd as the fire dancer’s impressive display came to an end.
“Hanji why can’t you just leave them alone?” Groaned Moblit, he never would understand her love of trying to set people up on dates and then spying on them to see what happened like it was some sort of scientific experiment.
“Oh Moblit, Moblit, Moblit.” She sighed, wrapping an arm around him and pulling him close. “If only you could see what I see.”
“What would that be?”
“Those two are meant to be together, they just need a little persuasion. Poor Shorty is shy and clumsy when it comes to romance and f/n is terrible at reading the signs that someone likes her. Can’t you see that they are in desperate need of my help?”
“The look perfectly fine to me.”
“Oh Sweetie, you’re as blind as f/n! Would you like to borrow my glasses?”
“I can see quite clearly thank you.” Grunted Moblit, wrestling himself free of her tight grip and straightening his shirt.
Rolling her eyes and giggling, Hanji soon found the smile disappearing from her face when a low growling voice spoke out behind her.
“What part of “piss off” don’t you understand Shitty Glasses?”
Turning around, she was met by the annoyed glare of not one, but two people…
“F/n! Shorty! Fancy seeing you two here! Impressive display huh? I certainly couldn't pull off moves like that!”
“Drop the bullshit Hanji, we know you followed us!” You groaned, folding your arms. “Just because you persuaded me to go on a date with Levi doesn’t mean we want you with us!”
“So you’re having a good time then?” She asked, hope shining in her puppy brown eyes.
“We’d be having an even better time if you’d leave us alone!” Snarled Levi.
“Okay I’ll make a deal with you.” Offered Hanji. “Come and do one attraction with me and then I’ll leave you alone for the rest of the night!”
You and Levi exchanged a disbelieving glance, you both knew her well enough to be aware that she was like a dog with a bone. Once she got something in her head, she would not let it go and the more you tried to get it away from her, the tighter she held on.
“Fine, one attraction then you quit following us.”
“Yay so where shall we go?” She squealed excitedly.
“Well the shooting gallery crowd seems to have thinned out a little and since I can’t technically shoot you…” You mused with an evil smirk.
“Oh f/n, you’re such a kidder!” Giggled Hanji, happily taking Moblit’s hand and skipping away, dragging him along behind her completely oblivious to his yelps of protest.
“You’re not joking are you?” Inquired Levi, a hint of amusement creeping into his voice as he took your hand in his.
You flashed him an evil smile and a cheeky wink, interlocking your fingers with his and leading him away from the fire dancers stage.
“Let’s just say I now have a better understanding of why you shout at her so often!”
“Come on guys and girls! Five shots per gun, three targets to win a prize! Take down all five and win something from the top shelf!”
The loud voice of the shooting gallery stall owner rang out across the crowd of children with their parents as your quartet grew closer to it, each child eagerly cheering on the mother or father aiming to win them the top prize.
Some of the older children were also trying their luck, some were rather good, while others were a little timid.
“One more turn please?” Asked a small blonde haired girl with bright blue eyes, looking to the slightly taller dark haired female next to her. She was a little too young to be the child’s mother, her sister perhaps? You mused thoughtfully.
“Historia you’ve already had two turns!” Laughed the older female.
“Third time lucky?” Smiled the blonde.
You giggled and shook your head, she reminded you of yourself when you were that age. You had been a nightmare pestering your father to let you do something until he gave in, usually it worked like a charm, but there were occasions when he did put his foot down, as most parents did.
“Another five over here please!” Called the dark haired female, fumbling around in her bag for her purse.
“Here you go my dear.” Smiled the stall owner, handing over a freshly loaded gun before noticing your group stood next to them. “Any takers?”
“Yeah I’ll have a go.” You nodded, handing over the entry fee and taking a gun from him.
“You know how to shoot that thing?” Asked Levi curiously, folding his arms and raising an eyebrow at you as you took the weapon.
“I was in the Trost Military Cadets Brigade for five years as a teenager.” You grinned. “One of the top marksman when I was a mere lance corporal, I could strip a weapon and lay all the parts out in a neat line in less than a minute!”
Shouldering the weapon and aiming carefully, you closed your left eye and lined the muzzle up with the first target.
Slowly pulling the trigger until it tensed ready to fire, you held your breath and squeezed it until the shot was fired. the loud ping of the metal pellet hitting the target rang out through the wooden stall as it fell flat.
“Wow nice work f/n!” Clapped Hanji, watching with barely concealed excitement as you aimed slightly the right and repeated the action again, once more taking down the target.
“Huh, not bad.” Mused Levi, watching you with interest as the third and fourth targets fell in quick succession.
“Nice shooting lass!” Complimented the stall owner as the fifth and final target fell. “I’d say you’ve earned this!”
He reached up to the top most shelf and pulled down a rather cute looking light brown bear with a black aviator jacket, flight goggles and a pilot’s hat
“Thanks.” You smiled, taking the teddy from him, however your attention was soon caught by the little blonde girl stood on your right who had only managed to take down two targets in her last round.
“Okay Historia that’s it now, we have to go home.” Smiled the dark haired female.
“One more turn, please Frieda?”
“We can’t I’m broke!”
Frowning at your prize you then looked towards the child again, feeling a small tug at your heart when she was led away.
“Hey Historia.” You called, flashing the two females a small smile when they turned back to you. “Here.”
The little girl's eyes widened when you held out the teddy to her, nodding to indicate that she was okay to take it.
“We can’t accept that!” Gasped Freida, her pale blue eyes flicking from the teddy up to you.
“Yeah you can, go on take it.” You encouraged. “I can always have another go.”
Historia turned and pleadingly looked up at her sister, a tense silence following.
“Thank you.” Smiled Freida. “That’s very kind of you.”
“Look after it for me okay?” You said softly, as the small blonde child eagerly took it and hugged it to her chest.
“I will, thank you.”
“Alright Historia, let’s go.”
Taking her little sister’s hand, the older female led her away back through the crowd.
"Bye!" She called, a huge beaming smile still gracing her face. Freida nodded in gratitude before the two of them disappeared from view, concealed by the still substantial gathering of carnival goers.
“Aw f/n you big softy!” Laughed Hanji, lightly shoving your shoulder.
“Well I felt bad for the poor kid, she tried so hard.” You shrugged, looking over at Levi who was stood as still as stone staring blankly at the shooting gallery as if he was in a trance.
“Levi? Are you okay?”
Trost District Market, Southern Wall Rose,
“Ugh! How come we’re stuck doing the supply run?” Moaned Hanji.
“We are the last ones to pack everything up ready to move to the new headquarters, so technically we drew the short straw.” F/n replied, failing to notice the short raven haired male they were following suddenly stop and spin around to face her. “Besides we-ooft!”
“Hey, watch where you’re going Brat!” He snapped as she collided with his chest and nearly head butted him.
“Sorry Le-um Captain.” She muttered sheepishly, almost forgetting that while she was on duty she had to address him as “Sir” or “Captain.”
Over the past few months, the two of them had started courting, however during duty times and on expeditions they maintained a strict superior/subordinate relationship.
It was hard to keep up the facade at times, especially when f/n foolishly forgot to check her surroundings and started to tease him.
The last time had been when she waited around the corner for him near his office and grabbed his cravat and pulled him close for a quick snog. Unfortunately their little clinch was witnessed by Mike, who had chuckled at the scene before him and spent the next week winding them up by pursing his lips and making kissing gestures every time he saw the two of them together.
“Couldn’t we have just waited until we got to the new headquarters and picked all this stuff up from the Shiganshina District market instead?” Questioned Hanji, loading several brooms that had been tied together onto the waiting horse and cart. “Seriously Shorty, how many of these do you actually need?”
F/n bit her tongue to stifle the giggle threatening to escape her lips and rolled her eyes.
“I’m gonna go grab some apples, anyone want anything?”
“Oh yeah I’ll have one if you’re offering.” Smiled the bespectacled brunette.
“Okay, back in a minute.” She replied, walking off towards the fruit stall a few feet away, watched closely by Levi.
“Oi Four Eyes, keep an eye on the cart.”
“Sneaking off for a quick intimate moment with your girlfriend?” Giggled Hanji, giving him a cheeky wink.
Rolling his eyes he walked over towards the stall where f/n was currently standing talking to two small children, a frown gracing his features as he drew closer and picked up on the heated conversation taking place...
“Look you runts, you don’t have enough coins for this bag of apples. So either come back when you have more or beat it!” Snapped the merchant, waving a bulky cloth bag at them.
“Hey, do you have to be so harsh?” Asked f/n. “They’re just kids.”
“Look lady, you’re a scout. So don’t tell me how to run my business, haven’t you got an expedition to risk your life on?”
“What, so fat pigs like you can pick on little kids?”
“What’s going on here?”
“Whoa, it’s Captain Levi!” Gasped one of the boys, his eyes going wide in awe at the sight of Humanity's Strongest Soldier stood a mere two feet away from him.
“Ah Captain, maybe you could instill some discipline into this sorry excuse for a soldier!” Snorted the merchant, shooting f/n a harsh glare. “I thought you lot were supposed to show respect to your superiors?”
Ignoring him, f/n turned to the boys and smiled softly, squatting down to their level.
“How much more money do you need boys?”
“They cost five gold sovereigns, but we only have three.” Muttered the shorter of the two, averting his gaze.
“Our mother is ill, we wanted to use our pocket money to buy some apples to make her feel better.” Said the other, fiddling with the hem of his shirt.
Standing back up straight, f/n reached into the left breast pocket of her jacket and pulled out a handful of coins, counting them out before extending her upturned palm to the merchant.
“I’ll take that bag of apples…” She growled, earning a mutter from the other nearby citizens looking to buy from the merchant. “Unless of course, my money isn’t good enough for you?”
Narrowing his eyes, the merchant begrudgingly took the coins from her and handed over her purchase, muttering something inaudible under his breath.
“Pleasure doing business with you.” She smirked, her tone dripping with sarcasm.
Turning back to the boys, she once again squatted down to their level and held out the bag to them.
“Here…” She smiled softly, waving it at them when they hesitated. “Go on take it, it's yours. I hope your mother feels better soon.”
“Thank you lady!” Said the older of the two boys, taking the bag from her and clutching it to his chest like his life depended on it.
The female scout nodded, standing up and watching them run off into the crowd before looking to Levi.
“I’m heading back to the cart to join Section Commander Hanji Sir.” She said firmly, giving him a salute before glaring at the merchant one last time and walking away.
Narrowing his steel grey eyes, Levi watched her leave before turning to the merchant.
“A bag of apples, make sure they’re decent.”
“Oh of...of course Captain!” Stuttered the now intimidated man, hastily picking up a cloth bag and picking out the best stock he could lay his hands on. “Allow me to give you these free of charge, I insist!”
Snatching the bag from him, Levi turned on his heels and walked away, quickly catching up with f/n.
“Oi!” He called, halting her in her tracks. “Here.”
F/n spun around at his call, her e/c eyes widening when he thrusted the bag of fruit towards her.
Cautiously taking it from him she examined the contents, flashing him a grateful smile before leaning in and quickly kissing him on the cheek.
“Levi? Hey Levi, are you okay?”
Levi blinked rapidly and shook his head as the flashback finally faded, noticing you and Hanji staring at him.
“I’m fine.” He muttered, looking past you towards the stall owner. “Hey, I’ll have a go.”
“You got it mate.” Smiled the man, loading the gun with pellets and handing it over.
“Ooh good luck Shorty!” Giggled Hanji, catching on to what he was planning but choosing not to reveal it to you.
You and Moblit watched with keen interest as Levi shouldered the rifle and took aim at the first target, a metallic ping echoing around the wooden stall as the pellet found its mark and the target fell.
“Nice shot Levi.” You complimented, earning a grunt in reply while he lined up the second target.
Squeezing the trigger and firing the shot, the pellet found its mark a split second later, followed by the falling of the third and fourth targets in quick succession.
“One more to go and you get a top shelf prize!” Encouraged the stall owner, eagerly watching with baited breath.
“Come on Shorty you can do it!” Cheered Hanji, grabbing Moblit's hand and squeezing it hard enough to make him wince.
Taking careful aim, Levi closed his left eye and narrowed his right making sure he was completely satisfied that he was going to make the shot before holding his breath and slowly squeezing the trigger.
“Five out of five!” Announced the stall owner, retrieving one of the aviator style teddies from the top shelf and handing it over. “Congratulations.”
“That was brilliant Levi!” You smiled, however it soon melted into an expression of shock when he awkwardly held the bear out to you and averted his gaze.
“Well I didn’t win it for myself!” He remarked, trying to fight back the furious blush that was now heating up his face.
“Thanks Levi.” You giggled.
Leaning in close, you placed a quick kiss on his cheek, completely oblivious the almost inaudible happy squeal that Hanji was struggling to contain, or the way the raven haired male’s eyes widened at the fact your actions mirrored those which he had just seen in his most recent flashback…
After leaving the shooting gallery stall, the four of you went your separate ways as agreed.
You and Levi headed off to view some of the other performers while Hanji and Moblit decided to enjoy some of the rides now that his stomach had settled and there was no risk of him vomiting.
As it drew nearer to closing time, the temperature began to drop. A strong wind picked up and cut deep to the bone now the crowds were dispersing, allowing some of the trapped heat from the close proximity of their bodies to escape.
"Hey are you okay or what?" Frowned Levi, noticing you pull your cardigan slightly tighter around your chest.
"Yeah I'm fine." You smiled, trying to fight off a violent shiver and failing.
"Tch! Put this on."
Removing his coat, Levi draped it around your shoulders. He was feeling quite warm so he didn't particularly mind giving it to you, furthermore it seemed like an appropriate gesture if last nights dream was anything to to go by.
Levi nodded and stood still waiting for you to slip the garment on properly, failing to notice the way you gave it a subtle sniff when you turned up the collar and hummed in approval at the scent clinging to it.
"So where now?" You questioned, reaching for his hand and interlocking your fingers with his. "We don't have long until closing time."
"I want to get something for my mother, then we can leave whenever you're ready." He said evenly, not looking at you when he spoke in case he gave you the impression that he wanted the date to end.
He didn't want it to end just yet, but it was getting late and he didn't want to arrive home at a ridiculous time.
"Okay." You answered with a nod. "I might get my dad something too."
After a short walk, you came to a row of well lit confectionary stands and made your way over to the nearest one.
"Hi there, what can I get you?" Greeted the owner from behind a large tray of assorted sweets that filled the length of the stall front.
Everything from assorted hard and soft candies to traditional caramel apples and candy floss was on offer, it was literally like a sweet addicts dream come true.
"Can I have a bag of chocolate cinder toffee and a caramel apple please?" You asked.
"Certainly my dear, anything for you?" Asked the owner, turning their attention to Levi.
"I'll take a box of clotted cream fudge." He replied, knowing that Kuchel hadn't had it in a while and it was sure to help take her mind off the intense and draining treatment she was having to endure at the moment.
"Here you are." Smiled the stall owner, handing over your purchases.
"Ready to go?" Asked Levi, instinctively reaching for your hand.
"Yep sure." You replied, trying to hide your disappointment that such an enjoyable evening was slowly drawing to an end.
The journey back to your house was certainly more relaxed than the ride to the carnival.
You and Levi had been so nervous that you'd barely said a word to each other, yet now you were both feeling more at ease in each others company.
Levi finally admitted that the reason he was so good at hitting the targets back at the shooting gallery was because his uncle had taken him to a gun range on a couple of the rare occasions he actually saw him.
It hadn't been something he was particularly fond of, but despite the fact he and Kenny didn't really get along, the older Ackerman male was the closest thing Levi had ever gotten to a father figure in his life.
Arriving back at your house, Levi escorted you up to the front door.
"You know...I was really skeptical about you when Hanji said you wanted to ask me out on a date." You admitted with a shy giggle. "I mean you're seriously intimidating and you can silence a room just by walking into it, but..."
Levi frowned, he wasn't sure he liked where this was going.
"You're actually a really decent person, I enjoyed being with you tonight."
Swallowing hard he looked into your e/c eyes, trying to summon the courage to respond.
"Yeah, well I guess Shitty Glasses has her uses."
"I'd like see you again sometime." You continued, nervously biting your lip. "If you want to."
"Yeah...yeah I do." The raven haired male nodded, an uneasy feeling over coming him.
What was he supposed to do now? Should he kiss you? Should he just say goodnight and leave?
"Great!" You smiled, interrupting his thoughts and clutching the teddy he had won for you at the shooting gallery tighter under your arm. "Oh, before I forget."
You removed his coat, which you had almost forgotten you were still wearing and handed it back to him.
"Good night Levi." You said softly, cautiously leaning into him and placing a quick kiss on his lips before pulling back to study his reaction.
Cold grey eyes widening, Levi could've sworn his entire body was shaking from the sudden gesture. However that soon passed when he saw a look of worry creep across your features, were you mistaking his shock for that of rejection?
Affording you a small smile as he remembered the previous night's dream, Levi gently slipped an arm around your waist and pulled you closer to him. Your lips met in a soft warm embrace for what felt like an eternity, but in reality was only a few moments.
"Good night f/n." He muttered, releasing you and walking back to his car, leaving you dumbfounded at what had just happened. "I'll text you tomorrow."
"I look forward to it." You called, a furious blush now dusting your cheeks as you fumbled around in your bag for your house key.
Levi nodded and got back into his car, driving away only when you finally disappeared inside the house and the door closed behind you.
Chapter 11: Secrets and Jealousy
“See you later Dad, I’m off to work!” You smiled, picking up the last slice of toast from your plate and holding it between your teeth while you slipped your jacket on.
“Have a good day.” He replied, looking up from reading the newspaper as you walked around the kitchen table, removing the toast from your mouth to give him a quick hug.
“Bye Sasha.” You giggled, noticing the loyal animal sat with her head on his lap, pleadingly looking up at him with wide brown eyes hoping for some table scraps.
“Don’t you ever get fed up of begging?” Snorted your father, rolling his eyes and picking up a small piece of bacon from his plate before offering it to her.
“Not if you keep giving into her she won’t!” You laughed, retrieving your car keys and mobile phone before leaving the house.
Your father rolled his eyes and looked down at the chocolate labrador again, smirking at the way she pushed her ears back and licked her lips. How could he possibly refuse that face?
“You’re going to get me into trouble!”
Tapping the end of the dog’s nose and slipping her another piece of bacon now that you had left, he picked up his plate and started clearing everything away.
“I’m leaving.” Called Levi from the hallway, putting on his jacket and shouldering the bag that contained his laptop.
Kuchel appeared in the kitchen doorway a moment later, smiling warmly and leaning against the varnished frame.
“So will you be seeing f/n today?”
“Most likely.” He shrugged, patting down his trouser pockets to make sure he had everything.
“Are you going to arrange another date?”
“I’ll ask her when she’s free again.”
Turning towards his mother, he frowned suspiciously at the way her smile widened.
“I've noticed that your mood has improved a little since your first date with her.” She said, slowly walking towards him. “I’m glad it went well and she wants to see you again.”
Levi remained silent and still, wondering what she was trying to hint at.
“What? Am I not allowed to be happy that my son has found himself a potential girlfriend?” She challenged, wagging an accusatory finger at him. “I’ve seen how fast you reach for your phone every time she texts you Levi Ackerman, if I blinked I’d miss it!”
Shaking her head and laughing, she gently cupped his face in her hands and looked into his eyes.
“My handsome son...I’m so proud of you Levi.”
The raven haired male’s frown deepened, his mother had always been sentimental, but this was a tad extreme even for her...was she having an off day?
“Go on, you don’t want to be late.” She smiled, pulling him down and placing a loving kiss on his forehead before releasing him. “I’ll see you tonight.”
With a silent nod, Levi turned and left the house.
Once he had gone, Kuchel sighed deeply and made her way back into the kitchen, only to find herself confronted by a very annoyed Kenny.
“What?” She asked bluntly, making her way back to the dining table and sitting down.
“He’s going to notice you know.” Snorted Kenny, folding up the newspaper he had been reading and folding his arms. “You won’t be able to hide it for long.”
“I’m not going to burden him with more stress than he already has.” Replied Kuchel firmly. “We all knew it was going to happen eventually. Besides it’s only my hair and if it means I stand a chance of stopping this disease from killing me, then so be it!”
Kenny shook his head, picking up his hat and placing it on his head.
“Yeah well don’t think you can borrow this.” He smirked, gesturing to it as he stood up. “Cos the answer is no!”
“Oh clear off to work you pain in the ass, I wouldn’t wear that grotty thing if you paid me!”
“Love ya sis.” He muttered, wrapping an arm around her and kissing the top of her head. It was an unusual display of affection for him, but one reserved only for Kuchel.
“Just go, I’ll be fine.”
Watching him disappear through the kitchen door and out into the hall, the raven haired woman frowned and folded her arms.
How could she voice her concerns to Levi when he had finally started dating and was trying to live a normal life again after the burden of helping care for her had been thrust upon him? It would only cause him unnecessary stress and that was the last thing she wanted to do.
Unfortunately her brother wasn’t wrong, Levi was bound to find out eventually and she was sure that he would rather she told him than him find a dead clump of long raven hair in the bathroom bin, or hanging from her shoulder when she casually brushed her usually loose locks back behind her ears.
Sighing to herself, she decided it was better to just be honest than keep it from him, however finding the right moment was going to be something she was going to have to think long and hard about.
“So how did your hot date go on Saturday?”
You winced and swallowed hard at the sound of a painfully familiar arrogant voice behind you.
“Morning Flagon.” You replied neutrally, forcing a tight smile onto your lips. “It went very well thanks, how was your weekend?”
“Hmph, so who is it then?” Asked the cocky manager, drawing level with you on the stairs and raising an eyebrow.
“Why are you so interested?”
“Just making conversation.” He shrugged nonchalantly. “So, who is this mystery man Hanji set you up with? Or doesn’t he exist.”
“Oh he exists alright!” You grinned, feeling brave. “It’s Levi Ackerman.”
Flagon’s eyes widened for a split second before a look of pure disgust caused them to narrow to slits.
“Bullshit!” He snarled, stepping in front of you when you reached the first floor landing, blocking your way and making you step back nervously. “That midget has his head so far up his own arse he wouldn’t know one end of a woman from the other!”
You swallowed hard as your spine hit the wall when he advanced on you, pushing his face closer to yours and instantly making you regret your little show of bravado.
“Say you did have a date with him, what’s that bastard got that I haven’t?” He sneered. “Higher up the chain of command? Is that what appeals to you so much?”
“What’s going on here?”
“Levi!” You gasped, relief washing over you like a wave crashing against a cliff face upon seeing the short deputy manager making his way up the stairs.
“Hmph, I was just about to reprimand this little bitch for lying about having a date with you at the weekend.” Scoffed Flagon, stepping back and folding his arms. “Rumors like that could damage your reputation you know.”
“She did go on a date with me at the weekend, what of it?” Questioned the raven haired male in a bored tone, moving to stand in front of you and folding his arms.
It became apparent to you simply by the way Levi was now shielding you from the other man that there was no love lost between them, but the last thing you wanted to witness was them coming to blows on the stairs.
Flagon didn’t have an answer for that comment, however the way he stared past Levi and met your gaze for a moment before looking back to the other male was enough to tell you that this little revelation was not something he wanted to hear.
Finally deciding to end the current confrontation, Flagon huffed and turned on his heels, stomping away up the stairs.
“Oi, are you okay?” Asked Levi, turning to face you, his harsh gaze softening.
“Yeah I’m fine.” You nodded, smiling weakly and trying to stop the obvious trembling of your body. “Thanks for stepping in, I don’t know what his problem is.”
“Tell me if that bastard comes near you again.”
“Yeah, I will do.”
“I’ll speak to you later, I have a meeting to get to.”
With that he left and continued heading up the stairs to the third floor where the boardroom was situated, sparing you a small nod when he caught you smiling up at him from the second floor landing before you made your way through to the client consultant’s work area.
Upon reaching the boardroom, Levi made his way straight through the large double doors and into the spacious room, finding Hanji, Erwin and Mike already in there.
“Hey there lover boy!” Giggled Hanji, eagerly patting the seat next to her. “Come sit down and tell me what happened after I left on Saturday night.”
“Tch, it’s too early to be dealing with your annoying shit!” Snorted Levi, ignoring her gesture and taking a seat next to Mike instead...although he soon wished he hadn’t when the tall blonde leaned over and sniffed his collar.
“Hmm.” Pulling back a minute later, Mike grinned.
“What? What can you smell?” Asked Hanji eagerly, her puppy brown eyes widening with excitement behind her glasses.
“Someone’s planning on asking f/n on another date.”
“Really?” She squealed, making Erwin wince at how loud her voice became. “Wow Shorty that’s fantastic! Where are you taking her? Have you seen her yet today?”
“Would this be that young woman I saw in the canteen?” Inquired Erwin, straightening his paperwork and turning his attention to a now very irritated looking Levi.
“Her name’s f/n l/n.” Interrupted Hanji excitedly, earning her a dark glare from the raven haired male who was currently setting up his laptop. “She’s a client consultant on Nanaba’s team.”
“Ah yes, Syram’s old secretary. I thought she looked familiar.”
“That’s the one!”
Erwin nodded thoughtfully and gave Levi a small half smile, paying close attention to the way the other male’s left eye seemed to twitch slightly as he fought back the urge to throw a verbal barrage of abuse at the bespectacled brunette sat opposite him.
“Well, I wish you luck Levi.” He said evenly, his sight being pulled to the large double doors a moment later when they opened and Director Dita Ness walked in. “However I believe we should change the subject before Hanji disappears through the window.”
“Eh?” She remarked, cocking her head to one side and frowning at the company owner.
“He means stop winding Levi up and concentrate on getting your work in order for the meeting, otherwise you could end up having a free skydiving lesson.” Smirked Dita, taking a seat next to her and placing a smart black briefcase down on the polished table.
Rolling his eyes, Levi concentrated on preparing his notes for the meeting, silently making a mental note to to spike Hanji’s coffee with extra strong laxatives if she didn’t shut up about the weekend’s events…
“No, that won’t be a problem. I’ll have those documents emailed over to you before lunch.” You said politely, holding the receiver of your desk phone in one hand while typing with the other as you scanned through your client’s details.
Your gaze flicked up from your screen for a moment when you noticed Nickolas stood in front of you, tapping his watch to let you know it was time for your team’s morning break.
Replying with a silent nod, you turned your attention back to the computer and continued to type.
“Okay thank you for calling, Goodbye.”
Putting the receiver down, you sighed and saved the document you were working on before standing up and stretching your arms above your head.
“Pushy client?” Questioned Nickolas, raising an eyebrow as the two of you started to make your way over to the break room.
“Very.” You giggled. “The poor guy sounds like a nervous wreck, he must’ve repeated himself about three times before I finally got the message across that I was on top of things.”
“It’s the aggressively pushy ones you need to watch out for.” Advised Nickolas. “They really know how to try your patience.”
“Yay, fantastic.” You smiled sarcastically, before quickly changing your tone. “So how was your weekend away?”
“She said yes.”
“What about your date with Mr Ackerman?” He questioned, stopping just before the break room door.
“It went really well.” You nodded. “He said he’d like to see me again and I let’s just say I have no objections to that.”
“Good, I’m glad it went well for you.” He replied, raising an eyebrow and looking towards the break room door when it violently swung open to reveal a man and a woman stood behind it, both staring intensely at the two of you.
“There she is!” Grinned Luke rather deviously, lunging forward and grabbing your arm.
“Whoa, hey! What the hell?” You shrieked, barely able to register the fact that you were moving forward until you were pushed down into one of the plush leather seats and a torch was shone in your face.
“Okay f/n, start talking!” Said the female you easily recognized as Ilse. “We want details!”
“Geez guys, you don’t need to go all out torture interrogation on my ass!” You complained, screwing your eyes shut and putting up a hand to shield them from the bright light. “I’ll happily tell you if you just ask like normal human beings!”
“Yeah, but seriously can I get my cinder toffee and a cup of tea first?”
“Oh.” Mused Ilse sheepishly, lowering the torch and shooting an annoyed glare at Luke. “You told me she wasn’t going to say anything unless we forced it out of her!”
“I was joking.” Laughed the long haired male. “Honestly Ilse, you really need to stop watching all those cheesy police films!”
“Anyway, did you two have fun at the carnival?” You asked, standing up and heading over to sink to fill the kettle.
“Yeah we did thanks.” Nodded Luke. “We had a look for you but didn’t see you.”
“Yeah, Levi and I didn't see anyone we knew apart from Hanji and Moblit.”
“Levi?” Gasped Ilse, quickly opening her notebook and starting to scribble in it. “You get away with calling him Levi?”
“Um, yeah…” A rather confused snort of laughter escaped your lips as you moved to the cupboards and started rummaging for your cinder toffee. “What else was I going to call him?”
“Interesting...so what did you do?”
“Well, Levi won a box of rare tea leaves during an arm wrestling challenge, I won a teddy in the shooting gallery and ended up giving it away to a little girl who didn’t win anything…”
“Aw that’s pretty sweet.” Said Nickolas, frowning in confusion at Ilse still furiously scribbling away in her notebook, if the pen moved any faster he was certain she’d set the paper on fire.
“Yeah, then Levi had a go and won me another one.”
“No way!” Scoffed Luke, folding his arms and staring at you like you’d grown a second head. “You’re not seriously telling me that Mr Ackerman, the grumpiest guy on the planet won you a teddy to replace the one you gave away to a kid?”
“I’m serious, ask Hanji and Moblit!” You laughed, opening your cinder toffee. “They were there and saw the whole thing!”
“So did you hold hands?” Asked Ilse, finally ceasing her seemingly never ending scribbling. “Did he walk you home? Did you kiss?”
You popped a piece of cinder toffee into your mouth and smiled around it, wiggling your eyebrows.
“Silence is not a valid answer!”
“Fine...yes to all.”
“So will you be seeing him again?” Inquired Luke, nodding to the kettle when it started boiling.
“I’ve been texting him, so I'd say chances are I will be when we manage to arrange something.”
“Well, we’re really happy for you.” Said Nickolas, looking to the others and earning nods of agreement in return.
“Thanks guys.” You smiled, swallowing down your sweet treat and making yourself a cup of tea.
At least these three were happy for you, Nanaba probably would be as well when you told her, however you couldn’t help but feel on edge over Flagon’s worryingly evident disapproval of your growing closeness to Levi.
Still, you weren’t exactly friends with the arrogant manager, so why should you let his opinion bother you?
Truth be told it shouldn’t, but unfortunately it did. Especially when you remembered Nanaba’s warning about him having a hobby of intimidating the other client consultants...
The meeting seemed to drag on for what felt like an eternity.
Yet more of the same old boring rubbish that they had gone over the previous month: targets reached, new marketing strategies and making sure budgeting parameters were being adhered to.
Levi leaned back in his seat and folded his arms, doing his best to ignore the grinning bespectacled brunette sat opposite him.
Hanji was starting to get on his nerves now, she’d spent most of the meeting flashing him quick glances and basically looking at him like a giddy school girl hell bent on obtaining the latest playground gossip.
Sure she was his friend and he cared about her a lot, but right now he wanted to put her in a box and padlock the lid shut!
“Does anyone have anything they would like to add?” Asked Erwin, resting his elbows on the polished surface of the table and interlinking his fingers as he cast his icy blue eyed gaze over the rooms occupants.
Silence and motionlessness fell over the assembled workers, telling him all he needed to know.
“Alright then, we convene again next month.”
Clearing away their documents and laptops, everyone slowly started to file out of the room until only Levi, Hanji and Erwin were left.
“Levi, a word please.” Said the company owner, raising his bushy eyebrows at Hanji to indicate that she should return to work and not wait for her colleague.
“See you at lunch Shorty!” She giggled, throwing him a cheeky wink as she picked up her paperwork and left the boardroom, closing the door behind her.
“What is it Erwin?” Asked the raven haired male, putting his laptop back in its case and zipping it closed.
“I just wanted to make sure the police don’t swarm the building with the intent of holding a murder investigation.” Smirked the tall blonde. “Honestly, if you glared at Hanji any harder you’d have made her head explode.”
“Anyway, the reason I asked you to stay behind is because have something for you though.”
Remaining silent, Levi watched the other man carefully as he fumbled around in the pockets of his expensive tailored suit for a few minutes before producing two slips of paper.
“There is a tea fayre next week at the convention centre. Marie got given two tickets, but since Ethan’s only a couple of months old and she’s not comfortable with the idea of leaving him with a sitter just yet, I thought you could put them to good use.”
Levi raised an eyebrow, he’d seen the event advertised in the newspaper but couldn’t afford a ticket after paying his half of his mother’s medical bills for that month.
“Maybe you could ask f/n to go with you? Mike did say you were planning on asking her out on another date.”
“I’ll see what she says.” He nodded, taking the tickets and checking the information printed on them.
“Good luck then.” Smiled Erwin, clapping a large hand on the shorter male’s shoulder. Walking past him, he exited the boardroom and Levi alone to ponder how best to raise the subject of another date with you.
“Okay, that is done!” You smiled.
Hitting the print button and standing up from your seat, you flicked your ponytail back in a sassy fashion and pointed at the computer. “Who’s yo mamma? That’s right, I am!”
A small giggle from the desk next to your caught your attention, making you raise an eyebrow at its occupant.
“You enjoy this job was too much.” Snorted Ilse, rapidly tapping away at her keyboard.
“Hitting targets is my specialty.” You shrugged nonchalantly, straightening your shirt. “Just point me at them and let me do my thing!”
“I think someone is still feeling a little giddy after their date with Mr Ackerman.” Luke chuckled, looking over from the desk behind Ilse’s and shaking his head. “There must’ve been some power in that kiss if you’re acting like this two days later!”
“Shut up!” You retorted, blushing madly and quickly walking away towards the printer, failing to notice the cocky smirks and silent nods exchanged between your colleagues the moment your back was turned.
“Oi, get on with your work you two.” Warned Nanaba, her pale blue eyes narrowing as she stood from her seat and followed you. “If those deadlines aren’t met you’ll be working through your lunch and afternoon break!”
“Aww too bad!” You giggled, turning back to face them. “Samson and Delilah are in trouble!”
“Don’t you dare!” Warned Luke, struggling to keep a straight face when your grin widened.
“I saw the light on the night that I passed by her window. I saw the flickering shadows of love on her blind.” You started, glancing over at Nickolas and wiggling your eyebrows.
Despite the eye roll, Nickolas chuckled and joined in with the next part of the well known song.
“She was my woman, as she deceived me I watched and went out of my mind!”
“Oh you two are so dead!” Snapped Ilse, a furious blush rapidly rising on her normally pale cheeks as the rest of the nearby client consultants laughed and joined in with the chorus.
“My, my, my, Delilah. Why, why, why, Delilah? I could see that girl was no good for me, but I was lost like a slave that no man could free!”
Burying her head in her hands, Ilse soon gasped in horror when a certain raven haired manager walked through the double doors near Nanaba’s desk, turning a rather unimpressed steel eyed gaze in her direction.
“At break of day when that man drove away, I was waiting.” Sang Luke, grinning madly when he saw Nanaba fighting back a grin and shaking her head.
“Um guys seriously, I think we should stop!” Whimpered Ilse, subtly pointing in the direction of Levi, who was now walking across the client consultant work area with a look that could kill if he blinked hard enough.
“Oh shit!” You gasped, your hands instantly going to your mouth. “Erm Luke…”
“I crossed the street to her house and she opened the door.” He continued to croon quite happily, completely oblivious to the trouble he was about to be in until it was too late. “She stood there laughing, I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more…”
“Are you morons done with your little karaoke party?” Snarled Levi, finally stopping in the middle of the floor space and folding his arms.
In the blink of an eye, the entire workforce returned to their appointed tasks, each and every one of them terrified by the thought of being on the receiving end of the short tempered manager’s wrath.
“Sorry Sir, it was just a bit of fun.” Smiled Luke nervously, swallowing hard when Levi didn’t return the gesture.
“Tch, get your asses back to work!” He growled, raising an eyebrow in your direction when he noticed you and Nanaba stood by the printer giggling.
“Oh man I have the worst timing in the history of the world!” You giggled, picking up your freshly printed documents and checking them over to make sure they were in order.
“Yes you do!” Scolded the blonde female, looking behind her and noticing Levi making his way over to you. “By the way I think someone wants a word with you!”
Risking a glance, you gulped and quickly looked away again. “Oh shit, do you think he knows it was me?”
“I doubt it, but either way…”
“I’ll leave you to it.” Said Nanaba, picking up her paperwork and walking back to her desk.
“Hi!” You smiled, hoping you didn’t look too terrified when you turned to face the raven haired male.
“What are you doing next week?”
“Depends what day.” You shrugged, adjusting the stack of papers and tilting your head to one side. “Why?”
“Erwin just gave me these.” Said Levi, awkwardly showing you the tickets for the tea fayre. “Do you want to come with me?”
You hummed thoughtfully and checked the date on them, as far as you were aware you had no plans for that evening after finishing work.
“A tea fayre huh? Sounds interesting.”
“Yeah, I’d love to.” You smiled, feeling your fear slowly melt away. Maybe he hadn’t realized it was you responsible for the mini karaoke party after all.
“Alright then, we’ll sort the details nearer the time.” Nodded Levi, his brows furrowing slightly as his voice took on a darker tone. “Has that bastard Flagon been near you since I last saw you?”
“No he hasn’t.” You replied. “Can I just ask though, what’s his problem with you?”
“Tch, we were both up for a promotion last year. I got it and he didn’t.”
“So, he’s basically still bitter over it.”
“He’s always hated me. Anyway I don’t care, if he lays a finger on you he’ll be shitting teeth for a week!”
“Wow harsh!” You giggled, noticing how his gaze softened slightly when you cautiously took his hand and gave it a grateful squeeze. “Thanks for earlier though.”
Levi nodded, feeling his heartbeat quicken at your affectionate gesture.
He was sorely tempted to ask if you wanted to meet up outside of work sooner, but felt it better if he refrained.
He didn’t want to appear like he was unable to go five minutes without being around you, especially since Hanji was already hell bent on pushing you together at every available opportunity.
Letting go of his hand, you once again nervously adjusted your papers.
“Well I better get back to work.” You stuttered, trying to find an excuse to get away from him before he started to question your involvement in the sudden outburst of song. “I’m ahead of schedule and I want to keep it that way.”
Levi nodded and walked you back to your desk before making his way towards the double doors that led to the corridor where his office was situated, glancing back momentarily before going through them and noticing you flashing him a shy smile.
However, what either of you failed to notice as you parted ways was the disturbingly angry glare that Flagon was directing at you as he observed your subtle display of affection...
Chapter 12: Making Plans
“F/n!” Squealed Hanji, happily bounding over to your desk as you shut down your computer ready to leave.
“Oh here we go.” You muttered to yourself, not bothering to hide the smirk that was now playing on your lips when you saw her approaching. Standing up, you retrieved your jacket from the back of your chair and prepared yourself for the inevitable interrogation that was sure to come.
“How has your day been?” Questioned the other female.
“It was fine thanks, I’m assuming you were busy today?" You replied. "I never saw you during lunch.”
“Yeah I had a late one with Moblit.” She shrugged. “Erwin is being a bit of a slave driver at the moment.”
“You poor thing.”
“Eh, I’ll survive.” She replied, a sly smile finding its way onto her face when she happened to glance over at the doors leading to the management offices and noticed a certain raven haired male walk through them.
“So have you seen Levi today?”
“Yes and we’ve arranged another date for next week.” You smiled confidently, buttoning up your jacket.
“Wow really?” Hanji’s puppy brown eyes widened gleefully. “What are you going to do this time?”
“None of your damned business Shitty Glasses!” Came a bored voice from behind her, making her jump round to face it.
You giggled and shook your head, pushing your chair back under the desk and walking around it to stand beside Levi.
“Oh don’t be like that Shorty!” Complained Hanji, however she was soon silenced with a dark glare from him when he subtly nodded in the direction of Flagon, who was currently stood staring in your direction with a look of all too obvious anger. The rapidly forced movements of his hands as his fingers buttoned up his jacket before harshly pulling at the bottom to adjust it further emphasising his bad mood.
“Ugh, what is his problem?” She muttered, concern etched onto her features when she noticed you tense up and move marginally closer to Levi...a move which did not go unnoticed by the short male.
“Oi you scruffy bastard!” He snarled, his steel grey eyes narrowing as they locked with Flagon’s. “Take a picture it will last longer!”
The other male curled his lip and grunted something inaudible under his breath, pretending to check that his computer had shut down properly before skulking away towards the double doors leading to the stairs.
A few minutes later, when he was sure Flagon was gone, Levi turned to face you. His harsh glare softened visibly, as did his tone when he spoke.
“You ready to leave? That asshole should be long gone by now.”
“Yeah sure.” You nodded nervously, relaxing slightly when Levi took your hand in his and gave it a reassuring squeeze before leading you away, closely followed by a now grinning Hanji.
Upon reaching the main entrance foyer, you were fortunate to find that Flagon had indeed seemingly left the building. Thankfully this was also confirmed by Nanaba and Mike, who currently stood talking by the large glass doors.
They both smiled and tutted when Hanji gave them an enthusiastic thumbs up gesture from behind you and Levi while you conversed with them, which she quickly ceased when the two of you turned back to look at her in confusion.
“They’re going on another date!” She finally squealed excitedly, barely able to control herself and clearly enjoying the opportunity to brag about her...even if she did say so herself...exceptional matchmaking skills.
“Yes I know.” Nodded Nanaba. “F/n already told us during afternoon break.”
“What?” She gasped, blinking rapidly and fixing you with an accusatory stare. “Excuse me young lady, but am I correct in thinking I’m the last to know of this?”
“I haven’t seen you all day!” You protested with a giggle, which morphed into a rather sinister smirk. “Besides, if you don’t know where we’re going and when, you can’t come and gatecrash it!”
“Smart girl, she’s got you there I’m afraid.” Smiled Nanaba, linking her arm with Mike’s, who nodded and snorted in amusement.
“Anyway we’ll see you all tomorrow.” She continued, gently tugging on the much taller male's arm to indicate she was ready to leave. “It's our three year anniversary today and Mike is taking me out for dinner.”
“Congratulations, have a good night.” You nodded, waving them away as they left the building and made their way across the parking area to Mike’s car.
“I better get going too.” Said Levi, remembering that his uncle was also going out that night and he needed to look after his mother. “I’ll text you later.”
Cautiously leaning into you, he placed a quick barely there kiss on your lips before releasing your hand and walking away.
A small smile graced your features as you watched him leave, however you couldn’t help but notice that his affectionate gesture had been slightly more awkward than the kiss you had shared previously…
“You two are so cute together!”
‘Ah of course.’ You mused internally, suddenly remembering the presence of a certain bespectacled brunette when her voice interrupted your train of thought. ‘Last time we kissed we didn’t have an audience!’
“Still here are you?” You inquired, folding your arms and raising an eyebrow at her.
“Yes, well I was wondering if you fancied coming to mine tonight so we can have a catch up...I’ll provide cake!”
You laughed and shook your head, how could you refuse such a tempting offer?
“Okay, I’ll pop over for a couple hours after I’ve spent some time with Dad and Sasha.”
“Yay, then you can tell me all about what Shorty has planned for your second date!”
Rolling your eyes, you decided against arguing with her, in the long run it wouldn’t do you any good.
She would simply continue to pester you until she eventually wore you down and you ended up telling her for no other reason than to get her off your back.
“Right well, I’ll text you later before I come round.” You said, opening the door and leaving the building.
“I look forward to it!” Called Hanji, once again squealing with excitement before making her way across the parking area to her car.
Levi pulled up onto the driveway of his home, mentally preparing himself for another head pecking from his mother about whether or not he had asked you out on a second date.
Retrieving his laptop from the passenger seat, he exited the car and made his way to the front door.
“I’m home.” He called, entering the house and closing the door behind him.
The appetizing smell of homemade bolognese greeted him as he hung his jacket up.
“I’m in the kitchen Levi.” Came his mother’s voice a moment later. “Dinner’s nearly ready.”
Ascending the stairs, he decided to set his laptop up in his room ready to go through his files for tomorrow before heading back downstairs to join his mother and uncle.
“So are you going to tell him?” Inquired Kenny, choosing to speak only once he was certain his nephew was out of earshot.
“Yes, when I’m ready.” Snapped Kuchel heatedly, keeping her back to her brother and continuing to stir the simmering pot in front of her.
“Which would be? You can’t keep hiding things from him, he’s going to find out sooner or later.”
“Look, just back off will you? Levi is my son and this is my problem, I will deal with it how I see fit!”
Kenny rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair, folding his arms across his chest.
Kuchel had always been stubborn, even when they were children and she just seemed to have gotten worse as she got older. He loved his sister dearly, but she certainly knew how to try his patience and frustrate him beyond all belief.
“Ah Levi.” She said suddenly, a warm tone quickly replacing the angry one she had displayed a few moments ago when the younger Ackerman entered the room and took a seat at the table. “How was work?”
“Same as always.” He shrugged, taking his phone out of his trouser pocket and checking his messages.
“Did you see f/n?”
Kenny rolled his eyes but bit his tongue, however he doubted he would be able to do it for long considering how well his younger sister was skirting around the issue they had just been discussing.
“We’ve arranged to go on another date next week.”
"Really? That’s wonderful Sweetheart!”
“Fuck this!” Snapped Kenny suddenly, pulling everyone’s attention to him. “Levi, your mother has something to tell you.”
“Kenny!” Warned Kuchel, her soft grey eyes turning cold and hard as she quickly spun to face him.
“What’s going on?” Demanded Levi, placing his phone down on the table.
“Tell him...or I will.”
“Tell me what?”
“You rotten bastard!” Snarled Kuchel, throwing down the metal spoon she’d been using to stir the pot with down on to the kitchen worktop surface with a loud clatter before storming out of the room and up the stairs, harshly slamming the bedroom door closed behind her a few minutes later.
Levi’s head snapped around to glare accusingly at his uncle, however before he could speak, Kenny stood up and moved towards the stove.
“It’s for her own good runt, she’ll thank me eventually when she calms down.” He shrugged, turning it off and picking up his hat from the table before leaving the house.
Shaking his head, Levi left the kitchen and made his way upstairs, cautiously knocking on his mother’s bedroom door.
“Don't even think about coming in here Kenny!" Came the harshly panted reply. "I suggest you leave before I strangle you!”
Opening the door Levi found his mother sat on the edge of the bed shaking and struggling to catch her breath.
“Oh Levi, it’s you.” She sobbed, raising her head and flashing him a weak smile.
“What’s going on?” He questioned bluntly, raising an eyebrow at her. A clear indication that given what had just happened he was in no mood to be fobbed off.
Sighing and shaking her head, Kuchel patted the bed, indicating for him to take a seat.
Once he had complied with her request, she took his hands in hers and looked into his eyes. Blinking back tears she let out a harsh ragged breath before speaking.
“You know how I’ve been having more intense chemotherapy since the cancer has spread?” She began, swallowing hard and lowering her head in an almost shameful manner.
Levi nodded but remained silent, he had an idea of what she was going to say but decided to allow her to tell him in her own time.
“Well...the thing is…” She bit her lip and squeezed his hand tighter. “It’s causing my hair to fall out."
“I see.” Said Levi lowly, not quite sure what else to say.
"It started a few days ago and I know for a fact it’s only going to get worse the more I have to endure it.”
Part of him was relieved to hear it wasn’t something more serious such as the cancer becoming worse and spreading even further, but he could also understand that this was something deeply upsetting for her.
“Well that explains why you threatened to strangle Kenny.”
Kuchel smiled and raised her head, blinking back more tears that were forming in her soft grey eyes.
“I was going to tell you...when I’d worked out how.”
Clicking his tongue thoughtfully, Levi carefully pulled his hands out of hers and left the room, failing to notice the concerned look on his mother's face as he did.
A few minutes later he returned and held out a square piece of white cloth: a bandanna that he always wore when he was cleaning up.
“You can use this to cover your head if it makes you feel more comfortable.” He said softly. “I have a spare one in my bedside drawer.”
Standing up, Kuchel smiled sadly and pulled him into her arms.
“Thank you Sweetheart.” She muttered. The tears that she had previously been trying to stop now streamed down her cheeks, her body shaking through her choked sobs. “I’m sorry I kept this from you, but I just honestly wasn’t sure how to tell you.”
Returning her embrace, Levi frowned deeply, making a mental note to give Kenny a piece of his mind when he eventually returned.
“Come on.” Said Kuchel softly, breaking the tender embrace and looking into her son’s eyes. “Let’s go and get some dinner, then you can tell me what you plan on doing for your second date with f/n.”
“Hey Dad, you don’t mind if I pop over to Hanji’s for a couple of hours do you?” You questioned, picking up the tea towel to start drying the dinner pots as your father placed them down on the draining board.
“Not at all.” He replied with a casual shrug. “You’re nearly twentytwo f/n, you’re a young adult now, not a child who needs permission every time you want to leave the house.”
“Yeah I know, but I wasn’t sure if you needed me here for anything or just wanted to spend the evening with me.”
Your father chuckled and shook his head.
“Darling, you get out and enjoy yourself. If you want an evening with Hanji then go right ahead, Sasha will keep me company...won’t you girl?”
The chocolate brown labrador looked up from where she currently lay in her plastic bed and wagged her tail, the furry appendage banging noisily off the side of it.
“You mean you want rid of me so you can feed her extra treats without getting into trouble?”
Halting his task, your father turned to face you and raised an eyebrow, struggling not to smile when a cheeky giggle was the only response he received.
“So tell me more about this tea fayre Levi wants to take you too.”
You nervously bit your lip and folded the tea towel after drying the last cup and putting it away.
“To be honest I’m not entirely sure what to expect, what I know about different types of tea wouldn’t even fill the back of a postage stamp!”
Your father chuckled and made his way out of the kitchen and towards the living room, patting his thigh and encouraging Sasha to follow, which she did.
“Apparently Mr Smith gave them to him since he and his wife couldn’t go, but it sounds like it could be interesting.”
“Certainly a chance to get to know each other better in a calmer environment.”
“Yeah that too.”
Your father nodded and took a seat on the sofa, gently scratching Sasha’s ears when she jumped up next to him and laid down, placing her head in his lap.
“Do you think...Mum would’ve liked Levi?”
Your father smiled sadly and nodded, staring at the old photograph of his deceased wife which adorned the mantelpiece.
“I think she probably would, he seems like a decent young man…a little shy perhaps, but at least he isn’t a cocky so and so who is only using you for one thing.”
“You wouldn’t think he was shy if you saw him at work!” You laughed, taking your mobile phone out of your jeans pocket and sending Hanji a text to let her know you would soon be on your way over. “The way he glares at some of the other workers is enough to make them feel guilty, even if they’ve done nothing wrong!”
“Maybe it’s because he has a soft spot for you that he seems to change?” He shrugged. “Has he ever been in a relationship before?”
“According to Hanji he hasn’t.”
“Ah well then, that explains the shyness.”
You giggled again and picked up your car keys from the table.
“So does that mean you approve of him?”
“If I said I didn’t...would you take any notice?” He smirked, raising an eyebrow in your direction.
“Hmm, probably not.”
“Go see Hanji you cheeky little madam!” He laughed, shaking his head and moving his hand further down Sasha’s body, tickling her ribs and encouraging her to roll over so he could rub her stomach.
“See you later.” You smiled, giving him a quick hug before leaving.
“Have fun.” He called, looking back to Sasha once you had left the room. He smirked at the content animal as it looked up at him with large brown eyes full of curiosity.
“It’s a good job I do approve of him isn’t it Sasha?” He remarked, meeting the chocolate labrador’s gaze. “I’d never hear the last of it if I didn’t!”
“So, what are you and f/n planning on doing for your second date?” Inquired Kuchel, pouring Levi a fresh cup of tea and pushing it towards him as they finished eating.
“Erwin gave me two tickets for the tea fayre at the convention centre next week.” He replied evenly.
“Ah yes.” Frowned Kuchel, feeling slightly guilty all of a sudden. “You mentioned wanting to go last month, but the increase in my medical bills put a stop to that plan.”
An awkward silence descended for a moment, however the conversation soon resumed.
“Well it was nice of Erwin to give you them.” A small giggle escaped her lips, earning her a raised eyebrow from her son. “I take it f/n has an interest in tea too? Or are you trying to educate her?”
Now it was Levi’s turn to frown, in all honesty he had simply asked you to go with him just because he didn’t know what else to do. Fortunately, Erwin giving him the tickets provided him with the perfect excuse to ask you out on another date.
It was true that you’d expressed an interest in the tea he won at the carnival and even asked if he would show you how to make it, so it stood to reason in his mind that you would be genuinely interested in attending the tea fayre with him.
“A bit of both.” He shrugged nonchalantly, meeting his mother’s gaze.
“Well I’m sure it will go well for you.” Said Kuchel with a small smile as she tucked a lock of stray hair back into the bandanna she was now wearing, it was going to take a little getting used to, but she thought it sweet that her son had offered to let her use it. “She seems like a nice girl from what you’ve told me so far.”
Levi lowered his gaze to his tea cup. Yes, he’d spoken about you to her, but nothing about you being his reincarnated soul mate from his previous life...that little detail was to remain a closely guarded secret between himself and Hanji.
It wasn’t that Levi didn’t trust her, because he did, she was his mother after all.
However he didn’t want her thinking he had a screw loose and needed his head examining if he tried to explain the strange dreams and flashbacks he kept having recently.
“So when do I get to meet her?”
“Levi, were you even listening to a word I just said?” Questioned Kuchel, her brows furrowing slightly. “Are you feeling okay? Have you been having trouble sleeping again?”
“I better go and sort out my paperwork for tomorrow.” He muttered, picking up his cup of tea and leaving the table, only to be stopped a moment later when Kuchel placed her hand on his arm.
She looked like she wanted to say something important, yet the defeated look in her soft grey eyes seemed to convey that she had thought better of it.
“Don’t stay up all night working on it, make sure you try and get some rest.”
Responding with a nod, Levi left the kitchen and made his way upstairs, leaving her sat at the table by herself to simply sigh and shake her head in dismay at the fact that her son was clearly keeping something hidden from her…
Fluffing up the scatter cushions on the small sofa, Hanji’s attention was soon caught by the intercom buzzing.
“Hello?” She asked, picking up the receiver.
“Hey Hanji, it’s me.” Came the cheerful reply.
“Perfect timing Sweetie, come on up!”
Hanging up and pressing the button to allow her visitor entry to the building, there was a knock on her apartment door a few minutes later.
“It’s open f/n!” She called, making her way into the kitchen to prepare something to drink and rummaging around in the fridge for the appetizing lemon sponge she had picked up on the way home from work.
“Hey Hanji, where are you hiding?” You called, entering the apartment and closing the door behind you.
“I’m in the kitchen.”
“So what cake did you get?” You giggled, grinning madly and making her jump when she closed the fridge door to find you near enough nose to nose with her.
“Damnit f/n!” She gasped, tightening her grip on the cardboard box containing the aforementioned item. “You’re as bad as your mother was for sneaking up on people!”
You shrugged and watched her closely as she glanced over at the stove to see if the kettle had started boiling yet, which going by the lack of high pitched whistling it wasn't.
“I’m surprised you haven’t met up with Moblit tonight.”
“Nah, he’s gone out drinking with Gelgar.”
“On a work night?”
Hanji smiled and moved to the cupboard, opening it and taking out a plate to put the cake on.
“That’s rich coming from you, I was half expecting you to turn me down with the excuse you were seeing Levi tonight.”
“Hanji, we’ve only been on one date!” You protested, folding your arms and leaning against the work top.
“Yes, but you’ve already arranged a second one.”
“For next week!”
Raising her eyebrows at you in a questioning manner, the bespectacled brunette remained silent, yet the look in her eyes did all the talking for her.
“Well, I guess I could tell you where we’re going since I now know it’s a sold out event and you have no chance of getting a ticket.”
“If you don’t tell me, you can’t have cake!”
Your e/c eyes widened at her threat.
“Oh that is low!”
“No cake unless you tell me where you and Shorty are going next week!” She answered in an innocent sing song voice.
“Who says I want cake anyway?” You scoffed, desperate not to give in to her demands.
“It’s lemon cake!” She teased, waving the box in your face. “You lurve lemon cake!”
“I prefer Victoria Sponge!”
“Just tell me where you and Shorty are going you damn you!”
Laughing and shaking your head, you finally relented and answered her question.
“Fine. Levi told me that Mr Smith gave him two tickets for a tea fayre and he asked me if I’d go with him.”
“Oh.” Frowned Hanji, cocking her head to one side and folding her arms. “Well that’s not very romantic, although it does explain why Erwin asked him to stay behind after today's board meeting."
“Neither was the carnival but it was still an enjoyable evening! Besides, Levi’s actually really shy and sweet when he’s not shouting at you! It might be nice to go somewhere a little quieter and spend some time with him.”
Hanji’s frown instantly morphed into a knowing smile.
“Ha! I knew you two would get on well together! So it looks like I was right to push you into accepting a date with him after all...feel free to thank me anytime!”
“I’ll pass.” You snorted, reaching into your jeans pocket when your phone started vibrating.
“Oh is that lover boy?” She inquired, wiggling her eyebrows in a rather suggestive manner.
“None of your business!” You snorted, yet the soft smile on your face when you started typing a reply clearly conveyed your answer.
A loud high pitched noise soon filled the kitchen, although you couldn’t be certain whether it was Hanji squealing or the kettle whistling to indicate that it was now boiling.
“So, what does he want?”
“Just asking what I’m up to.” You shrugged nonchalantly, eyeing up the boxed cake while Hanji prepared you both a drink.
A few seconds later your phone started buzzing again, this time however Hanji was in front of you before you could even swipe your thumb across the screen to open the message.
“What’s he say huh? Is he missing you? Is he sending you sweet little love notes?”
“No, he wants to know why the hell I’m hanging around with an annoying idiot like you!” You giggled cheekily.
“What? Let me see that!”
Smirking rather evilly you turned the phone around, allowing Hanji to see the contents of the text.
Don’t you see enough of that annoying idiot at work?
“He loves me really!”
You laughed and shook your head, turning the phone away from her and typing in a reply.
“So, are we going to have this catch up or what? Oh and by the way, Levi is not up for discussion!”
“What? Oh come on!” Protested the bespectacled brunette, almost dropping her spoon back into her coffee.
“Nope, you already know we’re going on a second date and that’s all you need to know for now!”
Puppy brown eyes narrowing, an unamused pout forced her bottom lip to stick out for a few moments before she finally relented and admitted defeat.
“Alright fine, what do you want to talk about?”
“My mother?” You asked hopefully, biting your lower lip and dragging it back between your teeth. “I really want to hear some more of the things you two got up to when you were teenagers.”
Upon hearing those words, Hanji’s lips instantly melted into a warm smile.
“Sure we can Sweetie, let’s get this cake sliced up and then we can talk about whatever you want.”
She may have been a little disappointed that she wasn’t going to be able to coax anymore information out of you about how things were going with Levi, but playing witness to his protective display of affection as you were all leaving work earlier certainly made for some promising prospects as far as she was concerned...
Chapter 13: Second date
Survey Corps Headquarters,
It had been a long couple of months getting all the soldiers settled into the new headquarters, but the hard work wasn’t quite over yet.
With an expedition looming at the end of the current month, Levi was up to his neck in paperwork for Erwin regarding a titan capture mission.
Now that Hanji’s newly developed traps had finally been mass produced and were ready for action, training on how to use them was being implemented and squad selection was being carried out to decide who would help operate them.
The bespectacled section commander was far too enthusiastic about the idea of acquiring more test subjects for whatever messed up experiments she was planning on carrying out and it was driving him mad, especially since adverse weather conditions on their last expedition had prevented them from breaking them in properly.
Sighing deeply Levi reached over to the pile of fresh paper situated on the right hand side of his desk, pulling a sheet off and dipping his pen into the ink pot ready to begin writing again.
Moments later a knock on the door made him look up, his brows furrowing as to why someone could possibly be wanting to see him at this time of night.
He could tell it was late simply by the fact that the sky outside was a dark shade of blue and dotted with bright silver stars, he'd also needed to light more candles so he could see what he was doing.
Most of the scouts were probably back in their dormitories resting up for tomorrow’s training by now, so what could one of them possibly want to speak to him for at this hour?
“Name and business.” He called turning his attention back to the paper in front of him and starting to write.
“It’s me Levi.” Came a familiar female voice, causing him to stop writing and look up again almost immediately.
“Come in f/n.”
The young female scout entered his office, carefully kicking the door closed behind her since she currently had her hands full.
“I was just heading back to my dorm when I noticed the candle light coming from the window.” She smiled, approaching the desk and placing two cups of steaming hot tea on the desk. “I figured your insomnia had kicked in hard again, so I thought I’d try making you some lavender tea. I heard that it’s been known to help people fall asleep more easily.”
Levi nodded and eyed the cup curiously as she moved around to his side of the desk and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, kissing his cheek and resting her head against his.
“Ah, Commander Erwin got you buried alive in paperwork for the upcoming capture mission?”
“Tch, Shitty Glasses is really taking the piss.” He snorted, pushing his chair back slightly and wrapping an arm around f/n’s waist, pulling her down to sit in his lap.
“She’s just excited since this is the first time we’re going to be using the new traps. The rain was too heavy and it would’ve been suicide to try them out on last month’s expedition, believe me I didn’t hear the last of it the next day when it was completely dry and clear!”
“Rather you than me.” He remarked, placing his chin on her shoulder and frowning.
F/n giggled softly and rested her head against Levi’s again, gently running her fingers through his soft raven hair.
“I was glad when she finally dismissed me for the evening, all she’s talked about today is how she can’t wait for the next expedition...no wonder poor Moblit has gone off base drinking!”
Levi rolled his eyes and adjusted his position, placing his pen down so he could reach for his tea. Picking up the pristine white cup by its rim he curiously sniffed it, breathing in the strong scent of the lavender she had added.
Taking a sip he swallowed hard and coughed, making f/n jump.
“Levi, are you okay?”
“Damnit f/n, that tastes fucking shit!”
Eyes widening, f/n wasn’t quite sure what to say. This certainly wasn’t the reaction she’d been hoping for with her kind gesture.
“It doesn’t taste that bad surely?”
Shrugging her shoulders she took the handle of the cup and raised it to her lips, wincing a moment later and quickly putting the cup down...but not before spitting the contents of her mouth back into it.
“Good lord, that is disgusting!”
Quickly reaching for her own cup, she took a large sip and swilled her mouth out with the warm liquid before swallowing and offering it to Levi.
“Have a sip of this, it’ll take the taste away.”
“Like hell I’m trusting you after what you just tried to give me!”
F/n frowned and flicked his nose, earning her a disgruntled growl in response.
“There’s nothing wrong with my tea! It’s a lot sweeter than what you’re used to because it’s got a spoonful of honey in it, but it’s not bloody poisonous!”
Reluctantly taking the cup from her he took a small sip, his eyes widening at the unusually sweet taste.
To be honest it was actually quite nice, not too strong or overpowering and definitely nowhere near as nasty as the lavender tea he had just tried.
"It’s not bad.” He replied taking another sip.
“Hey give that back!” She gasped, reaching for the cup and failing when the raven haired captain leaned away from her.
“Call this an apology for giving me that lavender shit!” He answered bluntly, gulping back the rest of the cup’s contents before placing it back on the table.
“You ass!” Giggled f/n lightly slapping him around the back of his head.
“Tch, shut up!”
Without warning, f/n reached down and gripped the back of Levi's neck, tangling her fingers through his raven hair and pulling his head back.
Their mouths crashed together and moved in sync, allowing f/n to taste the remnants of her honey tea on his lips as they continued their passionate clinch.
A moment later the kiss was broken and they simply stared into each other’s eyes, silently exchanging the strong feelings they had for each other.
“I’ll leave you to it.” Smiled f/n, placing another quick peck on Levi’s lips. “Don’t stay up too late if you can help it.”
“Take that shit with you.” He replied motioning to the now cooling cup of lavender tea.
Shaking her head and allowing herself a small giggle, f/n picked up the still full cup as well as the empty one and made her way towards the door.
“Goodnight f/n.” He nodded, moving to pick up his pen and once again resume his paperwork, narrowing his cold grey eyes slightly when the door closed behind her.
“Tch, lavender tea...I bet that was one of Hanji’s moronic ideas!”
“Levi? Levi? Hey, Levi!”
“Hmm?” Blinking rapidly, the raven haired male turned to face the source of the voice, meeting a concerned pair of e/c eyes.
“Penny for your thoughts?” You questioned worriedly, gripping your tea cup with both hands. “You’ve been staring out of the window for the past five minutes like it’s the most fascinating thing in the world.”
“I’m fine.” He shrugged nonchalantly, but it was a blatant lie...and one that was about to be blown wide open when a certain bespectacled director entered the canteen.
“Hey there lovebirds!” Smiled Hanji, bounding over to their table and sliding into the seat next to Levi. “All set for your date tonight?”
“Piss off Shitty Glasses.” Groaned Levi, rolling his eyes and picking up his tea cup.
“Yeah, I'm looking forward to it!” You nodded enthusiastically, flashing Levi a small smile.
“Good. Oh by the way Shorty, how is your mother? I remember you saying she was having another round of treatment today.”
The smile instantly fell from your face when Levi swallowed his tea too quickly and ended up coughing rather violently.
“Levi, are you okay?” You gasped when he slammed his fist into his chest to try and stop himself from choking.
“Oops.” Muttered Hanji, realizing that she probably shouldn’t have mentioned Kuchel in front of you.
Even though you already knew of her battle with cancer, you decided not to raise the subject since Levi hadn’t openly told you about it himself and you felt it best to respect his privacy. Still, you couldn’t help but wonder if it was a contributing factor as to why he was suddenly being so distant with you that day. Despite arranging to have lunch with you so you could discuss your plans for later, he hadn't really contributed much to the conversation since the two of you had sat down.
Sensing that a fight was likely to break out, you quickly looked around the canteen and were relieved to see Nickolas making his way over to you.
“Hey f/n!” He called, clearly not willing to get too close since you were with Levi. “Nanaba’s calling a team meeting in five minutes.”
“Okay, I’m on my way.” Looking back towards Levi, you struggled to hide your relief at having an excuse to leave. “I better go, are you going to be okay?”
“Oh he’ll be fine.” Smiled Hanji, wrapping an arm around his shoulders, which was immediately shrugged off when he finally managed to stop choking.
“Yeah well, I’ll stop by your grave sometime!” You snorted, shooting her a disapproving frown before picking up your cup and plate. “See you tonight Levi.”
Once you had left the table, Levi’s head snapped around to regard Hanji with a dark stare that suggested she had milliseconds to explain herself before he threw her out of the window.
“I’m so sorry about that, I thought that because you two are constantly texting each other you might have mentioned your mother having cancer.”
“Well I hadn’t!”
“I can see that now.” She muttered worriedly, knowing full well how badly she’d screwed up at her lack of thought over her next words. “Still it is pretty common knowledge, so I’m sure she already knew to some extent.”
Levi’s eyes narrowed. Outwardly he appeared calm, but internally he was furious.
“Anyway, I better go.” Said the director nervously. “I can see you’re in no mood to talk, so I’ll just leave you to it...bye!”
Quick as a flash, she jumped out of her seat and made a break for the canteen doors, almost knocking Ness and Mike off their feet when she barged past them.
“Tch, moron.” Growled Levi, pulling his mobile phone out of his pocket and frowning when he noticed that he didn’t have any new messages from his mother or uncle, which could only mean they were still at the hospital.
Sighing deeply he finished his cup of tea and decided to get back to work, hopefully it would prove enough of a distraction to stop the thoughts of how best to kill Hanji from entering his brain for too long…
After Nanaba's team meeting, apart from dealing with a couple of awkward clients who had gotten their days mixed up, your afternoon was relatively relaxed...until Ilse and Luke decided to start interrogating you again when you all reached the entrance foyer while you were leaving.
“So are you all set for your second date with Mr Ackerman?” Inquired Ilse, pulling her notebook out of her bag and quickly flicking through it for a clean page to start scribbling on.
“Yeah, I’m sure it will be interesting.” You smiled trying to sneak a quick glance at what she was writing before she turned her back and continued taking notes.
“You’ll never get a look at that thing!” Smirked Luke. “If you do...your eyes will melt and you’ll end up looking like one of those guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark!”
Ilse shot him a death glare, continuing to furiously scribble away in her little black book while you giggled and shook your head.
“So, what exactly happens at a tea fayre anyway?”
“No clue.” You shrugged, deciding to have a little fun. “I’m assuming it’s something to do with tea though.”
“Maybe that’s a clever disguise!” Mused the long haired male. “What if it’s something else like...Oh I dunno...R Rated?”
“R Rated?” You scoffed. “What are they going to be showing us, the tea version of the karma sutra?”
“Hey, they might!”
The three of you started laughing rather loudly, attracting the unwanted attention of a certain unpopular team leader…
“Hmph, what’s tickled you lot?” Questioned Flagon, striding across the tiled floor and stopping a few feet from your group.
“Nothing that concerns you!” Replied Ilse sharply, closing her notebook with an audible snap and putting it back into her bag.
Flagon furrowed his brows and glared at you, making you flinch, however you chose to stand your ground.
“So...I hear you have another date with Levi.”
“Yes I do.” You replied evenly, not entirely sure what concern it was of his.
“Yeah well, enjoy it.”
You blinked rapidly, watching closely as he brushed past you and made his way out of the building before turning your attention back to Ilse and Luke.
“Is it just me or did he sound like he was being majorly sarcastic?” You asked worriedly, feeling tense when both of your colleagues frowned and nodded in unison.
“Be careful f/n.” Warned Luke sternly. “That asshole has clearly put a target on your back and is currently eyeing it up wondering when to strike.”
“Yeah well, I’m sure Mr Ackerman would love to hear about it if he does try anything.”
You bit your lip nervously and followed them out of the building, Levi had told you to inform him if Flagon tried to intimidate you, but you couldn’t help but wonder if there was more to it than a simple rivalry…
Having managed to avoid Hanji for the rest of the day after her slip up regarding his personal life, Levi returned home to find Kenny sat at the kitchen table frowning at his laptop.
The older Ackerman was clearly in a bad mood. He was currently resting an elbow on the table with his chin placed on his palm, his cold grey eyes narrowing thoughtfully at the screen while he drummed the fingers of his free hand off the wooden surface. There was a glass of whiskey next to the laptop, along with the bottle in easy reach in case he wanted a top up.
“Where’s my mother?” Inquired Levi, leaning against the door frame and folding his arms.
“She’s probably asleep.” Retorted Kenny lowly, not looking up at his nephew as he picked up the glass and knocked it back in one gulp, reaching for the bottle and preparing another. “The chemotherapy has knocked her on her ass today, so you’ll have to make your own dinner. Just make sure you check on her before you go swanning off on your date, she’s already said and I quote…“if you dare try and cancel she’ll flush your tea down the toilet and make you drink coffee for a week!” So do what you gotta do and get out of here!”
Levi’s brows furrowed, he wasn’t sure that going off on another date with you was a good idea if his mother was in such a bad way. However he also knew that when she made threats, she stuck to them. Surely you would understand if he did call it off since you now knew about her current condition? He would judge for himself whether he needed to cancel or not when he went upstairs to get changed, although he had a feeling Kuchel would insist he still went regardless.
“Oh by the way, I need you to stump up your share of the medical bill.” Said Kenny bluntly, instantly snapping him out of his thoughts.
“I’ll deal with it tomorrow.”
Kenny nodded and picked up his recently refilled glass, only taking a small sip this time.
“Good, now go make yourself look pretty for your hot date with...whatever she’s called.”
“F/n. Her name is f/n.”
“Yeah sure, just beat it already.”
Rolling his eyes Levi decided to skip out on dinner, suddenly finding that he had lost his appetite and unfortunately, it wasn’t because he was looking forward to his second date with you…
“So what time is Levi picking you up tonight?” Inquired your father, looking up from his book and smiling as you re-entered the living room after getting showered and changed.
“About half an hour.” You replied checking your mobile and seeing the text he had sent letting you know he was on his way. “Do I look okay?”
Since tonight was more of a casual affair, you had opted for a pair of stonewash jeans, black and white converse trainers, a plain red shirt and your favourite black leather biker jacket while leaving your hair up in a neat ponytail.
“You look fine Sweetheart.” He smiled with an approving nod.
Before you could reply your phone started ringing, gaining your immediate attention.
“It’s Hanji.” You said, furrowing your brows and answering the call. “Hey, you're still alive then?”
“Of course I’m still alive!” Giggled the bespectacled brunette on the other end of the line. “So, how’s your date going?”
“He’s not even picked me up yet!” You snorted, rolling your eyes and earning a chuckle from your father.
“Oh, is he running late?”
“They don’t open the doors for another hour yet!”
“Ah, okay I’ll call again soon. Bye!”
You opened your mouth to reply, but before you could the line went dead. Pulling the device away from your ear, you stared at it blankly before looking over at your father.
“Can you believe her? She’s so damned nosey!”
“Well if she calls again, ignore her! Focus on enjoying your date.”
“Yeah I intend to.” You giggled, biting your lip thoughtfully you looked towards the clock on the wall above the fireplace.
Levi would be picking you up in just over twenty minutes and in all honesty, you couldn’t wait to spend some more quality time with him.
After getting changed into a pair of dark blue jeans, tanned suede boots and a black shirt, Levi checked his reflection in the full length mirror of his wardrobe before reaching behind him for his car keys and wallet.
Making sure that the tickets for the tea fayre were still in there, he picked up his phone and sent you a quick text letting you know he was on his way and left the bedroom.
Stopping outside Kuchel’s room he cautiously knocked on the door, hearing the loud hum of the oxygen machine from the other side but other than that, not receiving a response.
Frowning deeply he pushed open the door and poked his head around, stepping in when he saw the raven haired woman’s eyes flutter slightly before slowly opening.
“Levi?” She questioned groggily, a tired smile tugging at her lips as she forced herself to sit up.
“I’m heading off to meet f/n.” He said softly, approaching the bed and helping her.
“Oh, is it that late already? Why didn’t you wake me sooner?”
“Kenny said you weren’t feeling too good.”
Kuchel sighed in annoyance and adjusted her nasal cannula.
“Where is he now?”
“Probably still downstairs.”
“Right well, on your way out can you ask him to make me something to eat please? Have you had anything?”
“I’m not hungry.”
Now it was Kuchel’s turn to frown, however still being tired and feeling nauseous from her earlier treatment at the hospital, she didn’t really have the energy to argue with him.
“Alright, well I’ll make sure Kenny leaves you something.”
“Tch, I’d sooner starve than eat his burnt offerings.”
Kuchel giggled and shook her head, however the smile soon fell from her face when she scratched the base of her skull and ended up finding several strands of raven hair tangled around her fingers as she pulled her hand away.
“Look, if you need me to stay here I can call f/n and cancel, she’ll understand.” Said Levi lowly, awkwardly averting his gaze.
“You will do no such thing Levi Ackerman!” Snapped his mother hoarsely, untangling the strands of dead hair from her fingers and dropping them into the bin beside her bed. “Now come here and give me a hug before you go.”
Doing as he was told, Levi loosely wrapped his arms around her and rested his head on her shoulder, his brows furrowing at the lack of strength she seemed to have when she embraced him.
Kenny hadn’t been wrong about this more intensive treatment making her feel like she’d been through the wringer, it was bad enough that she looked as white as a sheet at the moment, but the fact it was also draining her strength worried him.
Still, if there was even the slightest chance that it would work...then surely it had to be worth it in the end?
“Have a good time Sweetheart.” She muttered softly, kissing his cheek and flashing him a small smile as she watched him leave.
Sighing sadly when the door closed behind him she stared down at bin and the tangle of long raven strands that now occupied it. Shaking her head and reaching for her book, she tried to push it to the back of her mind while she waited for Kenny to bring her some food.
You leaned forward in the armchair and grinned as you tugged harder at the woven rope in your hands, raising a playful growl from Sasha when she tried to pull back and yank it from your grasp.
Levi was due to show up any minute and you had decided to occupy yourself with a game of tug while you waited, a game you were close to losing until a knock at the door distracted the chocolate labrador and caused her to let go so she could bark at the sound.
“I guess that will be Levi.” Smiled your father, standing up and making his way out of the living room, closely followed by an excited Sasha.
“Is f/n ready?” You heard a familiar bored tone ask as you quickly stood up and straightened your clothes, brushing Sasha’s hair from them and walking into the hallway.
A smile spread across you face when you saw Levi squatting down in front of Sasha to give her a quick scratch behind the ears, her tail wagging back and forth with enough force to smack loudly off the door frame.
“Hey.” He replied with a nod, standing up straight and awkwardly meeting your gaze.
“Right, have fun you two.” Said your father. “You’ve got your key haven’t you?”
“Yeah I do.” You answered, patting your jeans pocket and making sure you had picked it up.
“Good, see you later.”
Waiting until you and Levi gotten into his car and driven away, your father then closed and locked to door before heading back into the living room. Calling Sasha to his side, he decided to see if there was anything worth watching for the evening since it was just the two of them. Glancing over to the picture on the mantelpiece, he smiled sadly and shook his head before finally settling on a film, he rubbed Sasha's head and got comfortable.
It didn’t take you long to pick up on the fact that Levi seemed a little more tense than normal, although part of you wasn’t sure whether or not you should press the subject of why that might be.
“So, what should I expect from this tea fayre then?” You inquired, cautiously breaking the awkward silence that seemed to have fallen over the pair of you.
“Usually they sell different types of tea and do brewing demonstrations.” He answered bluntly, keeping his eyes on the road.
“Sounds interesting, I might actually learn something tonight then.”
Swallowing hard you nervously bit your lip and glanced out of the window, you really hoped he wasn’t going to have a frosty attitude with you all night. After all, what happened at work with Hanji earlier wasn’t your fault so, he had no right to take it out on you if he was still angry over it.
“Are you okay Levi?” You asked worriedly, noticing his brows furrow and his grip on the steering wheel tighten slightly.
‘Liar!’ You thought, not daring to say it out loud.
Clicking his tongue the raven haired male sighed when the traffic lights ahead turned red.
“It’s nothing you’ve done.” He said folding his arms as the cars at the crossroads started to move.
“Still pretty mad at Hanji then huh? Not that I blame you.”
“I don’t appreciate having my private business talked about behind my back.”
“Well...you’ve probably already worked out that she told me about your mum when she was trying to convince me to go on a date with you.” You said evenly, watching him carefully when he spared you a glance. “To be honest she practically told me your life story.”
“Tch, why am I not surprised.”
“Look I don’t blame you for not telling me. We’ve not known each other that long and…”
“It’s fine.” He replied, abruptly cutting you off. His harsh steel eyed gaze softened slightly, even if his tone of voice didn’t. “Besides, I had a feeling that idiot would tell you everything from my favourite type of tea to when I take a shit!”
You laughed and shook your head, there was the awkward Levi you had enjoyed getting to know over the past couple of weeks.
“Good lord, I hope you don't kiss your mother with that mouth!”
Levi raised an eyebrow at you.
“Tch, you don’t complain when I kiss you with it!” He shrugged, gripping the steering wheel once more when the lights changed from red to amber. “By the way, she’s keen to meet you.”
“Yeah, she's been pecking my head about it for the past few days."
You hummed and pursed your lips as the car began moving forward again, folding your arms thoughtfully.
“Well you have already met my dad, twice I might add.” You mused. “I guess it’s only fair that I meet your mum.”
“Alright, we’ll arrange something then.”
A soft smile slowly spread across your face as you once again glanced over at him, relieved that the tense atmosphere had been lifted, leaving you free to enjoy your second date with him.
Chapter 14: The tea fayre
By the time the two of you arrived at the venue where the tea fayre was taking place, the main doors had already been opened to the gathered attendees and the long queue was beginning to slowly crawl forward as they were allowed admittance.
The convention centre was a huge three storey building, boasting an extensive main hall which mostly attracted clients wishing to book it for live music concerts, craft shows and other large events. The other floors consisted of several much smaller function rooms, used for conference meetings by high flying executives coming into the city for business deals to meet on neutral territory with their potential clients.
After parking up, you and Levi started to make your way over to the rear of the convention centre to join the back of the queue.
You flashed him a small shy smile as he instinctively reached for your hand, intertwining his fingers with yours as you walked.
He was still fairly quiet and still a little tense, but he seemed to be in a much calmer mood compared to earlier.
You knew all too well that he was still seething with Hanji for what had happened at lunch time, but you didn’t really blame him. She was a law unto herself at times and she had no sense of when to engage her brain before speaking, although part of you believed this was down to her being far too excited that her little matchmaking scheme was going so well.
Joining the back of the queue as it halted, Levi momentarily let go of you to check that he still had the tickets in his wallet, only paying attention to you again when your mobile started ringing.
“Damnit, she’s persistent!” You muttered, taking the device out and tutting when the caller ID flashed up displaying the name of a certain nosey coworker.
Without warning, Levi reached out and plucked the phone from your hand, answering the call before you had a chance to protest.
“Leave us alone Four Eyes!”
“Shorty?” Came the surprised voice from the other end of the line “How come you have f/n’s phone? Is she okay?”
“She’s fine, you on the other hand won’t be if you don’t quit pestering us!”
“Aww, but I wanna know how your date is going!”
“Piss off Shitty Glasses!”
Ending the call, Levi held the device out to you, ignoring the disapproving stares and shocked gasps from the people already waiting in the queue, as well as the ones who had just joined the rear.
“Well at least you didn’t threaten to throw her out of a window this time.” You giggled, taking it from him and activating the silent mode application so that if she did call again, you wouldn’t hear it.
You couldn’t outright turn it off incase your father needed to get in contact with you, although you doubted he would. Still, it was better to play it safe and if Hanji called again, you would just let her rant at you in a voicemail message.
“Tch, there’s always time for that at work tomorrow.” Shrugged the raven haired male, taking your hand once more when the queue started moving forward again.
Eventually you reached the main doors of the building and were greeted by one of the smartly dressed stewards.
In less than a minute, he had checked the tickets and then directed you to the main hall where the tea fayre was taking place.
An enticing aroma of fruit and spices greeted you as you made your way through the large entrance and looked around the spacious area.
Various tables were set up throughout the hall, making sure to leave plenty of space for people to walk through and even form small crowds around to stand and watch as each vendor talked to them about their wares.
Some were dressed in authentic costumes that befitted the particular region and time period that they were displaying items from, while others had simply chosen casual attire.
There was also a wide range of books, accessories and other tea related items neatly displayed to attract the attention of passers by and draw them to each individual table.
“So any particular place you want to start?” You inquired.
“Just walk around and see what there is.” He shrugged nonchalantly.
Truth be told, he was as clueless as you were.
This wasn’t his time attending a tea fayre, however the ones he had been to before were usually on a much smaller scale.
“Okay, well looks like they’re already setting up to do a demonstration over there.” You said, nodding to a table over on your right. “Want to have a look?”
Keeping a firm grip on your hand to make sure he didn’t lose you in the crowd, Levi led you over to the first table.
“Ah welcome.” Smiled a tall woman with jet black hair, looking up from pouring some water into a rather ornate looking clay tea pot. “You have an interest in oriental tea?”
“I wouldn’t mind learning about it.” You replied, casting a curious glance over her costume.
She was wearing a beautiful red silk kimono adorned with two golden scaled dragons, their tails curling around the arms while the bodies almost seemed to climb down her lithe frame. Her hair was neatly pinned back in a bun and held in place with a golden comb decorated with an extravagant jeweled lotus flower.
“This particular blend I’m about to make is a green tea traditionally served to people of great importance.” She explained, gesturing to the tea pot, allowing you and Levi a quick glance at the contents before putting the lid on and turning to the small child on her left. “Mikasa dear, get me two cups please.”
“Yes Mummy.” Replied the girl, pushing back the sleeves of her pale pink kimono and fetching two small white cups painted with dark blue leaf patterns.
“So what type of tea is that?” You inquired with a nod, keen to know what she was about to offer you. “I know there’s different sorts of green teas, but that’s about it.”
Levi rolled his eyes in amusement, if you were trying to impress him you were failing miserably. He had to admire the effort though and was glad that you were taking a genuine interest.
“Judging by the smell I’m going to say Kukicha.” He said bluntly.
“Ah so you’ve had this before?” Asked the vendor, carefully taking the cups from her daughter.
“No, but I’ve read about it.”
You blinked rapidly and glanced over at him, he’d already mentioned that he had a fondness for tea and collected different types of leaves, but you hadn’t expected his knowledge on the subject to so good that he could tell what it was by smell alone. Part of you wondered if he was related to that strange director who had sniffed you upon meeting you and was currently dating Nanaba...Mike wasn’t it?
“Alright, that should be ready now.” Said the vendor, drawing your attention back to her as she picked up the teapot and poured out some of the pale green liquid into the two cups. “Please, enjoy.”
You and Levi exchanged a glance before he released your hand so you could try the steaming beverage that had been so carefully prepared for you.
Cautiously picking up a cup and inhaled the strong aroma. Raising it to your lips, you took a small sip, swilling it around your mouth for a moment to savour the taste before swallowing.
“That’s a lot different to what I was expecting, I thought it would be more...bitter.”
“Not bad.” Mused Levi, taking another sip.
“You can also add it to juice.” Piped up the small child, moving to stand beside her mother and clinging to her kimono. “I like it when my mummy does that.”
You smiled at the girl and took another sip of the warm liquid, there was a mild nutty yet creamy taste to it which you rather liked.
“So how many different types of green tea are there exactly?”
“Too many to list off the top of my head.” Smiled the vendor warmly, looking to Mikasa when she tugged on her arm and pointed to two more attendees wishing to sample her wares. “Mainly because they are infused with different fruits and spices, the possibilities really are endless.”
You nodded and clicked your tongue thoughtfully, downing the rest of your cup.
“Hey, ready to continue looking around?” Asked Levi, placing his now empty cup back on the table.
“Enjoy the rest of the fayre.” Smiled the vendor as her daughter retrieved your cups, she then turned her full attention back towards the people who were now inquiring about her tea.
“Bye!” Called Mikasa, waving shyly.
Offering the small child a smile and a nod, you once again took Levi’s hand and followed him through the crowd, keen to know where your next stop would be...
Survey Corps Headquarters,
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
“Of course I am! I’ve seen Levi do this loads of times!”
“Yeah, but you’ve only ever made him standard tea, not the specialty one he likes.”
“Well there’s a first time for everything, so shut up and let me concentrate!”
Levi stopped and blinked at the sound of his name, slowly turning his attention towards the source of the muffled voices.
Pushing open the heavy wooden door on his left, he silently poked his head around the small gap he had created and furrowed his brows, curiously watching the scene before him.
Hanji sat at the large wooden table while f/n poured some hot water into a small white teapot before adding what looked like tea leaves and slowly stirring it.
“You know if you mess this up he’s going to kill you!” Giggled Hanji mischievously. “Those leaves aren’t cheap you know!”
“Hush your mouth, stop trying to jinx me!”
Shaking her head, Hanji continued to stare at the almost hypnotic rotating movement of the other female’s hand as she continued to stir the contents of the teapot.
“Okay, after he’s given it a stir he usually leaves it to stand for about five minutes before straining, then it’s ready to serve.” Muttered f/n, more to herself than to her comrade while ceasing her stirring and putting the lid on.
“Have you two fallen out or something?” Inquired Hanji worriedly. “Only you don’t seem to be spending as much time together at the moment.”
“No we’re fine, it’s just that with the expedition tomorrow he’s been under more pressure to make sure everything is prepared for acquiring you yet another new test subject." F/n replied, turning to open the drawer behind her and pulling out a silver tea strainer. “You're going through them far too quickly recently. Plus with the new batch of recruits need to be trained on how to use them, the last thing he needs on top of all that is to be dealing with me wanting his attention.”
“I’m sure he could spare you a brief game of tonsil tennis!”
“What? You know he always makes time for a quickie, even when he’s up to his eyeballs in paperwork!”
Rolling his eyes, Levi decided he’d heard enough and pushed the door open fully, stepping into the room and announcing his arrival.
“Hey Four Eyes, don’t you have preparations to make for tomorrow?”
Both females instantly turned their attention towards him, one looking rather surprised to see him, while the other seemed a lot more enthusiastic.
“Good Evening Shorty!” Giggled Hanji, her manic grin remaining firmly in place as he approached the table. “Here for that quickie I just mentioned?”
“Tch, go play with your titans!”
F/n tutted and removed the lid from the teapot, giving the now tea infused hot water another stir before placing the strainer over the cup and pouring the mixture into it.
Levi watched her with interest as she pressed the leaves down into the bottom of the strainer with the teaspoon, being sure to drain every last drop of moisture from them before giving the cup’s contents a final stir.
“Okay, moment of truth.” She mused, pushing the cup towards him and nervously biting her lip.
Clicking his tongue thoughtfully, Levi picked it up.
Raising it to his lips, he paused momentarily and raised an annoyed eyebrow in the direction of the bespectacled brunette, who was currently waiting with baited breath for his verdict.
“Oh don’t mind me!” She smiled innocently, her puppy brown eyes still intently fixed on the pristine white object.
Taking a sip, he frowned at the taste.
“Not bad for your first attempt, but the water wasn't hot enough when you added the leaves. It’s lost some of the flavour.”
“Damnit!” F/n cursed under her breath, averting her gaze.
“Better luck next time Sweetie.” Said Hanji softly, standing up and making her way to the door. “I’ll leave you both to have some time alone together.”
Once she had left, Levi took a step closer to f/n and raised his hand to her face, tapping her under the chin to get her to look at him.
“I’ve tasted worse.”
Allowing herself a small smirk, f/n looked into his steel grey eyes, noticing how his harsh gaze had softened slightly.
“Guess you’ll just have to show me how to brew it properly then, won’t you?”
“Make sure you survive this expedition and I will.”
Stepping closer to him, f/n wrapped her arms around his neck, her smirk melting into an affectionate smile when she felt his hands on her hips as he pulled her against him.
“I’ll hold you that...” She said lowly, subtly moving her head closer to Levi’s so their lips were almost touching. “Just you make sure you survive as well.”
Levi gave a single nod before slowly closing the gap between them, savouring the tender embrace and trying not think about the fact that it may well be their last...
Dragging himself back to the present, Levi growled in annoyance over the fact that another flashback had seen fit to distract him.
He could always tell when they were going to happen, the main signal was that the world around him would seem to go quiet, followed by his vision going blurry. The only thing he could compare it to was that it was almost like his head was underwater.
Thankfully this time, you had been too busy looking at a book about the history of tea farming to notice that he had spaced out again.
“Find anything interesting?” He inquired, instantly gaining your attention.
You looked around and found yourself staring into a pair of steel grey eyes framed by raven bangs, completely oblivious to the fact that he was still there since you were so engrossed in the book that you hadn’t heard a word Levi had said.
“Yeah, it’s actually pretty fascinating.” You smiled nervously. “Sorry, were you trying to talk to me? I kinda go into my own little world when I’m reading.”
“It’s fine.” He shrugged. “My mother is the same, I’m used to it.”
“Ready to continue looking around?”
After casting a curious glance over several of the other tables that were selling different varieties of boxed tea, the sound of a nearby vendor asking for volunteers soon reached your ears.
“Who wants to try their luck at brewing their own tea?” Called an enthusiastic male voice to the passing crowd. “Choose from Keemun, Mitrian Black, Lapsang Souchong and several other specialty leaves.”
“Mitrian Black?” You mused thoughtfully, furrowing your brows and trying to think why that particular blend sounded so familiar, although it didn’t take long for the reason why to enter your brain. “Hey Levi isn’t that the type you won at the carnival last week?”
“Yeah it is.” He replied, rather impressed that you could remember.
“How about I take you up on that offer of you showing me how to make it then?”
Upon hearing the enthusiasm in your voice, the raven haired male’s throat went dry.
This was the third time that the flashbacks from his previous life seemed to be interwoven with his current existence, was it just a strange coincidence...or were you somehow aware of them?
Maybe you were at the age when you met him in your previous life as well and were also experiencing the random flashbacks, but were too nervous to speak up about it?
He couldn’t tell for sure, but he made a mental note to speak to Hanji about it. Maybe she could shed some light on the situation for him, the last thing he wanted to do was jump right in and question you without knowing all the facts and have it backfire.
No, for now he opted to push it to the back of his mind and just enjoy spending time with you.
“Alright, come on.”
You smiled brightly as his grip on your hand tightened and he led you through the crowd towards the table where the vendor calling for volunteers, very much looking forward to seeing more of his tea knowledge in action.
“Ah, hello there!” Smiled the vendor as you and Levi approached, noticing that another couple was already present and trying their hand at brewing something which smelt faintly of cocoa. “Would you like to try making your own specialty tea?”
“Mitrian Black.” Said Levi bluntly.
“An excellent choice!” Said the vendor, gesturing to a small pop up table where a small stove, kettle and cup was already set up. “I’ll just get you the instructions…”
“No need, I’ve made it before.”
The man blinked rapidly, his smile disappearing momentarily before a he allowed himself a small chuckle.
“Ah I see, you’re a fellow tea enthusiast attempting to woo your lovely lady here with your skills?”
Raising an unamused eyebrow, Levi remained silent and walked over to the brewing table.
“Would you like to try making something my dear?” Asked the vendor, turning his attention back to you.
“Oh, um, sure but I just want to watch Levi make this Mitrian Black blend first.” You stammered.
“Of course, of course.” He nodded enthusiastically, seemingly unphased by the narrowed eyed glare being directed at him by the aforementioned male as he filled a small cup with some tea leaves and placed them down in front of him. “Let me know when you are ready.”
Once he had left to speak to the other attendees, you looked back to Levi and smiled.
“Okay then, you have my undivided attention.”
Giving you a single nod, Levi turned on the small stove to start heating up the water.
Looking down at the cup you curiously examined the black shriveled up leaves. You were interested to know how something that, in your opinion resembled charred pieces of paper would create any kind of flavoured beverage.
“The water has to have been rapidly boiling for at least five minutes otherwise the flavour of the leaves won’t come through when you add them.” Explained Levi, snapping you out of your thoughts and gaining your attention.
“Alright, I remember you saying it was complicated, but in what way?”
“If the temperatures and times aren’t right it’s easy to screw it up, it will lose most of the flavour and taste bland.”
“I see.” You mused, glancing over at the stove and seeing that the water had just started boiling. “You said it should have a burnt taste to it right?"
Taking the cup from you, he poured the leaves into the teapot and put the lid on before placing a strainer over the cup.
“That needs to stand for another five minutes to let the leaves infuse with the water.” He said lowly, furrowing his brows when he noticed the soft smile you were directing at him. “What?”
“Huh?” You blinked, the smile instantly disappearing. “What?”
“Tch, were you even listening to me?”
“Of course I was!” You scoffed, folding your arms.
“So what did I just say?”
“It needs to stand for five minutes to let the leaves infuse with the water.”
Levi narrowed his eyes suspiciously, so you had been paying attention to him after all.
Turning back to the teapot, he failed to notice you smirk rather slyly and stick your tongue out at him, desperately fighting back a giggle that was threatening to escape your lips.
After the five minutes had passed, Levi poured some of the now tea infused water into the cup, making sure it passed through the strainer so that the leaves collected in it.
“Squeezing the moisture out intensifies the flavour.” He explained, pressing the spoon down onto the wet leaves and watching the last few drops of moisture fall into the cup.
“Okay.” You nodded, watching him closely as he removed the strainer and tapped the spoon off the side to rid it of any residue before stirring the hot liquid.
Picking up the small china cup, you raised it to your face and inhaled the strong aroma first to get a better idea of what to expect. There was a strong burnt scent, but unfortunately it did nothing to give away the taste.
Taking a cautious sip you winced slightly at just how bitter it really was before finally managing to swallow it down.
“Wow, that is definitely strong and bitter.” You nodded. “I see what you mean about the burnt aftertaste too, it's not too bad though.”
“My wife usually likes a dash of honey in her black tea.” Smiled the vendor, suddenly appearing in front of you. “It takes the edge off. So, would you like to try your hand at brewing some Keemun my dear?”
“Yeah sure.” You nodded.
“Here you are.” He said, handing over a fresh teapot, instruction sheet and a cup containing some long dark tea leaves. “It’s a nice simple one, so you won’t have any trouble with it.”
“Hmm, seems easy enough.” You mused scanning over the instructions as you put the kettle back onto the stove to re-boil, unaware that Levi was staring rather at you rather intensely.
The recent flashback brought on by your current location was once again at the front of his mind, the comparisons between then and now were practically uncanny.
Once the water started boiling, you tipped the tea leaves into the teapot and added the water, giving the contents a quick stir before putting the lid on and muttering the next part of the instruction guide to yourself in almost the exact same fashion you had in your previous life. If you’d have been wearing that strange military uniform and standing in a castle kitchen rather than a crowded convention hall, Levi would’ve almost believed that he was back in the past.
Once again the urge to ask you if you had any memories of your past life started to gnaw away at his brain, however the only thing that stopped him blurting it out was the fact that he had no way of confirming how old you were when the two of you first met back then. He really needed to pressure Hanji into doing some more research into your past and digging up the answers he so desperately needed.
“Okay that should be ready now.” You said, placing a strainer over the cup and pouring the water into it, watching as it caught the leaves and prevented them from falling into the cup.
Taking the spoon, you then pressed it into the contents of the strainer, draining the moisture from the leaves before giving the finished beverage one final stir.
“Okay, moment of truth.” You giggled nervously, handing the cup to Levi.
Carefully taking it from you, Levi took a sip of the hot liquid, remaining silent for a few seconds while he savoured the taste before swallowing.
“Are you sure you haven’t done this before?” He questioned with a rather deep frown.
“Huh, it’s not bad for your first attempt.”
“Really?” You smiled hopefully, taking the cup from him when he held it out to you.
Taking in the smoky aroma, you raised the cup to your lips and took a small sip, your e/c eyes widening at the malty almost chocolatey taste.
“Wow, that’s actually really nice.”
“All done?” Inquired the vendor, returning to you after showing another attendee to a brewing station.
“Yeah, hey could I get a box of this to take home? I think my dad would like it.”
“Of course, I’ll be back in a moment.”
Turning back to Levi you flashed him a nervous smile.
Tonight had been a real eye opener for you into his hobby and if anything, it served to clarify something which you had already known since your first date with the raven haired male...that giving him a chance was definitely the right decision to make.
As the evening drew to a close and the crowds started to disperse, you and Levi had one last look around the large hall to see if there was anything you still wanted to do before leaving.
Fortunately it seemed you had covered everything. You’d watched some more brewing demonstrations, browsed through the books and even listened to some of the vendor’s answering questions from the other attendees, so all in all, it had been a very enjoyable and interesting evening.
“Ha! Wow you really ticked Hanji off earlier!” You giggled, taking your phone out of your pocket once the two of you were seated in the car.
“Tch, how many missed calls has that moron left you?” He asked, starting the engine and preparing to drive away.
“Three text messages, eight missed calls and two voicemail messages."
Rolling his eyes and tutting, he kept his attention on the road as he pulled out of the car park, chances were you would just read the texts out loud anyway and play the voicemails on loud speaker.
“Okay first text: "Have fun getting Levi away from there when the evening ends.” Second text: “Are you ignoring me? Does Shorty still have your phone?” Yeah I'm ignoring you, you nosey bitch!" You giggled and shook your head opening the third one and reading it aloud. “Oh dear I think you pissed her off! “Shorty give f/n her phone back damn you!” We’re in so much trouble!”
“She needs to get out more.”
“I’m not even going to attempt to call or text her back.” You giggled evilly. “Let her stew until morning.”
Levi allowed himself a snort of amusement as a tiny split second smirk tugged at his lips. Chances were he was going to be pounced on by the bespectacled brunette tomorrow, but he had a few things to ask her of his own and he was confident she would be willing to negotiate an exchange of information.
Arriving back at your house, Levi once again walked you to the door.
“That tea fayre was a great idea Levi.” You said, pulling your house key out of your pocket. “I never knew such a simple thing could be so interesting.”
Levi swallowed hard, not quite sure what to say or do.
The flashback was once again plaguing his mind, making him wonder if you really did remember who he was in your previous life and whether or not you were aware of the connection you once shared.
“You got time for a drink before you go?” You offered cautiously, fiddling with your house key.
“I'd better get back home.” He said softly. “My mother wasn’t feeling too well when I left.”
“It’s okay, I understand.” You smiled sympathetically. “I’ll see you at work tomorrow then.”
Taking the initiative, you moved closer to him and gently hugged him, relief flooding through you when you felt him relax and return the embrace.
Pulling back from him, you stared into his eyes, captivated by the hypnotic grey hue of his irises under the pale moonlight when they locked with yours.
After a moment’s hesitation, he leaned into you and brushed his lips against yours. Tightening his grip on you waist when he felt the soft tips of your fingers stroke over the nape of his neck, he savoured the kiss like it was the last time he would ever do so.
Ending the passionate clinch, he cautiously rested his forehead against yours before eventually releasing you.
“Goodnight f/n.” He muttered.
Watching him walk back to his car, you smiled like a giddy school girl and waited for him to get in before finally turning your back and unlocking the door so you could enter the house, already looking forward to seeing him again at work the following morning after such a wonderful second date.
Chapter 15: The Next Step
“Hey f/n, how was the tea fayre?”
It came as no surprise to you that as soon as it was time for your team’s morning break, Ilse started asking questions about your second date with Levi.
“It was interesting.” You replied, keeping your back to her and concentrating on making yourself a drink. “There were demonstration stands, stalls...I had a really good time.”
“Stands...stalls.” Muttered Ilse, furiously scribbling away in her notebook and turning over the page she had currently been working on so she could start another. “So did you try your hand at making some specialty teas then?”
“Levi showed me how to make Mitrian Black, then I had a go at making some Keemun.”
“Mitrian black…” Repeated Ilse, furrowing her brows and pausing for a moment. “Keemun? How do you spell that?”
Shaking your head, you giggled lightly and pointed to the small box next to you.
“Oh, you brought some to work with you?”
“Yeah, I did a little extra research into it when I got home last night. Apparently this stuff really good for fighting off the dreaded eleven o’clock munchies if like me you have a bit of a sweet tooth.”
“Would you like to have a sip?”
Ilse immediately ceased her scribbling and raised her head, amber eyes widening visibly in curiosity at your question.
Closing her notebook, Ilse moved to stand next to you and placed it down on the kitchen area worktop. Taking hold of the steaming cup, she peered down at the dark brown liquid contained within and gave it an inquiring sniff.
“Are you sure this is tea?” She frowned, raising the cup to her lips. “It smells more like hot chocolate.”
“It’s definitely tea.” You answered, folding your arms and watching her closely. “The leaves do have a strong malt taste to them though once brewed, I think that’s probably why it smells a little like chocolate.”
“I see.” Finally taking a sip, your colleague hummed thoughtfully.
Placing the cup down, she reached for her notebook and pen, resuming her rapid scribbling.
“So what do you think?”
“It’s delicious.” She answered, not looking up from her current task until the break room door opened and a tall male with long dark blonde hair swept into the room behind the two of you.
“Oi! Give that back!”
You couldn’t help but laugh at Luke’s boldness as he snatched Ilse’s notebook from her grasp mid scribble and raised it above his head out of reach, although you were in two minds about whether he was actually very brave or very stupid.
“So how was your date with Mr Ackerman last night?” He smiled, flicking his wrist and moving the little black book further out of Ilse’s reach when she jumped up to try and grab it.
“It was great thanks, no Nickolas and Nanaba today?”
“Nickolas is still on the phone to a client and Nanaba needed to go speak to Director Zacharius about something.”
“Anyway let’s not talk about them.” He continued, his smile widening when Ilse once again failed to retrieve her property from him. “Let’s talk about you, have you seen Mr Ackerman today?”
“No, but we’ve arranged to have lunch together.”
“Sounds like things are really going well for you then.”
“Well enough that his mother wants to meet me.”
Spying a perfect opportunity, Ilse once again made a grab for her notebook and succeeded in plucking it from Luke’s fingers when his attention diverted from her and focused completely on you.
“Yeah, he told me last night she’s been asking him a lot of questions about me.”
“So when are you going to meet her?” Questioned Ilse, taking advantage of the fact that Luke was no longer trying to taunt her and moving to sit at the coffee table in the center of the break room.
“Not sure yet, we’ll probably discuss that over lunch.”
“I guess this means things are getting serious between you two then.” Mused Luke, leaning back on the kitchen work surface and putting his hands into his pockets. “Two dates and now he wants to take you home to meet his mother, you must be something special if things are moving forward at this pace.”
“You think it’s too fast?” You asked worriedly, wrapping your hands around the white ceramic cup containing your tea and feeling the warmth permeate your skin.
Opening your mouth to speak, but closing it again a second later without emitting any sound, you pursed your lips and looked down at the contents of your cup.
You were relatively new to dating and relationships, having concentrated more on your education, you didn’t really think anything of going out on dates or finding a boyfriend.
Just how fast was too fast? You and Levi had exchanged awkward glances and stares for quite a while before he plucked up the courage to ask you on a date...thanks to Hanji pressuring him into doing so of course.
Still, as you got to know him on a more personal level, you started to feel comfortable around him. Sure he was a bit rude and moody on the odd occasion, but you simply took it in your stride and continued to spend time with him.
“It must be a good thing right?” You shrugged, nervously biting your lower lip and dragging it back between your teeth. “I mean...if he didn’t want things to progress between us, he wouldn’t have asked me on a second date or mentioned his mother wanting to meet me.”
“Well it’s obvious you like him, there’s no denying that.” Said Ilse firmly, closing her notebook with a barely audible snap and slipping it back into her jacket pocket. “If you feel things are moving too fast for you though, then just talk to him.”
“She raises a good point f/n.” Agreed Luke. “If Mr Ackerman likes you as much as you like him, then I’m sure he won’t want to rush you.”
“Thanks guys.” You smiled shyly.
Raising your cup to your lips and taking a long slow sip of your drink, you allowed your thoughts to turn to Levi and the idea of taking a step forward in your currently budding relationship.
Looking up from the document he was working on, Levi glanced towards the door when the sound of voices chattering away passing by filtered through the thick wood.
Furrowing his brows, he turned his attention to the clock on his computer and noticed that it was now noon.
Saving his work he reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out his phone, scrolling through his contacts until he found the desired one and pressing the call button.
Three short rings later a weak female voice answered.
“Ah Levi, I should’ve known it was you! I take it you’ve just finished for lunch?”
Natural frown deepening, Levi remained silent as Kuchel was caught off guard by a rather violent cough.
It was all too evident that she was still feeling rather fragile after another intense round of chemotherapy at the hospital the previous day, something which bothered him more than usual since his uncle’s boss had called him in to do an extra shift on his day off, meaning Kuchel was home alone for the entire day.
“Yeah, I’m just about to go and meet f/n.”
“I hope you’re going to arrange a day where I finally get to meet her.” Said Kuchel, clearing her throat afterwards. “Why don’t you invite her round for dinner? I can make something nice for us all.”
“I’ll see when she’s free.”
“Alright Sweetheart, well don’t pressure the girl...the longer I have to try and get hold of some sedative to spike your uncle’s food with so he behaves himself the better!”
“Anyway, go and enjoy your lunch with f/n.” Said Kuchel softly. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be alright until you get home. I love you Sweetheart.”
“Yeah, I love you too.” Muttered Levi, ending the call and furrowing his brows.
Despite Kuchel insisting that she was fine being home alone for the day, he couldn’t help but still feel concerned about her.
Sure he and his uncle needed all the work they could get to keep on top of the medical bills and make sure they all had a roof over their heads, but it was unlikely that Kenny would be reachable should anything happen while neither of them were around and Levi didn’t want to have to suddenly run off and leave Erwin a man down.
Still, it couldn’t be helped. His family came first and his boss was well aware of that fact, provided that Levi didn’t just rush off without informing him first, he was perfectly fine with the raven haired manager needing to leave at short notice.
Sighing and standing up, Levi tried to shake the troubling thoughts from his head, retrieving his jacket and making his way down to the canteen for lunch.
“F/n, there you are!”
“Damnit!” You cursed under your breath, smiling politely and handing over the payment for your meal to the chuckling till operator before forcing a smile onto your face and turning towards the source of the voice. “Hi Hanji.”
“You’ve been avoiding me young lady!” Scolded the bespectacled brunette, staring at you over the top of her glasses and wagging an accusatory finger. “Don’t even try to deny it, I saw the way you rushed through the car park to get away when you saw me drive in.”
“Okay then I won’t!” You shrugged cheekily, picking up your tray and maneuvering your way around her so you could find a table and wait for Levi to join you.
“Not answering any of my calls or texts and then ignoring me this morning...do I have some contagious disease or something?”
“Yeah, it’s called noseyitis and you’re a terminal case!”
“I could have you up on a disciplinary for being rude to your superior you know!”
“You wouldn’t dare!” You laughed, finally selecting a table and taking a seat.
“Tell me how your date went last night and I’ll consider letting the fact you’ve been avoiding me slide.” Challenged Hanji, sitting down next to you and folding her arms.
“Fine. It was great, I tried my hand at brewing some specialty teas and tasted a few I’ve never heard of before. I actually found it really interesting.”
“Excellent, I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.” Nodded the excited director enthusiastically. “Now give me all the juicy details about Levi.”
“Well if you must know, his mother wants to meet me.”
“Really?” Gasped Hanji, her puppy brown eyes widening rapidly. “Shorty must have been telling her some good things about you then.”
“Have you ever met her before?”
“Kuchel? Oh yeah a few times actually. Lovely woman, you’ll really like her.”
“Oi Four eyes, what are you doing here?”
“Shorty! Perfect timing!” Smiled Hanji, spinning around in her seat and looking up at her colleague...who was clearly displeased to see her. “F/n was just telling me that Kuchel wants to meet her.”
“Tch, can’t you go and annoy someone else?” Groaned Levi setting his lunch tray down and taking a seat opposite you.
“Hey, you deprived me of all the gossip last night after you confiscated f/n’s phone!”
Shaking your head and reaching for your drink, you giggled lightly but otherwise, remained silent and continued to watch them bicker.
“Shut up Shitty Glasses!”
“Don’t be so mean, I technically got the two of you together!”
“That doesn’t entitle you to invite yourself along everytime we meet up!”
“Hanji, I’ll pop over tonight and we can have a catch up.” You reasoned, deciding it was probably best to step in before the two of them caused a scene.
“If you leave within the next five seconds!”
“Great, I’ll pop to the bakery on my way home and pick us up a cake!” She squealed, practically jumping out of her chair and leaving the table. “Bye bye Lovebirds!”
“Now that Levi, is how you get rid of Hanji without resorting to threatening to throw her out of a window!” You smiled cockily.
“Tch, you’ve got her well trained, I’ll give you that.” Snorted the raven haired male, stirring his tea.
“So how is your mum today?” You asked carefully, deciding to move the topic of conversation away from the recently departed director.
“Still not too good.” Frowned Levi, not meeting your gaze. “The more intensive chemotherapy she’s having really knocks her on her ass.”
“I’m sorry.” Reaching across the table, you gently placed your hand and his and lightly squeezed it. “Hopefully in the long run it will be worth it though.”
An awkward silence descended for a moment or two before Levi spoke again, this time looking up to face you as he did.
“What are you up to this weekend?”
“I’m actually going out of town with my dad. It’s his birthday on Saturday and we’re going to Stohess to visit my uncle.”
Quick to pick up on the evident disappointment in his voice, you continued talking.
“I’m free the weekend after though, what did you have in mind?”
Levi remained silent, mulling over this information.
Maybe leaving introducing you to his mother until the following weekend would be a much better idea. Considering he didn’t know how long it would take for her to feel better again after the most recent round of chemotherapy, buying a little extra time for her to recover would probably work in his favour. However a small part of him couldn’t help but wonder if you were telling the truth, maybe he was rushing things and this was your way of playing for time? No, you’d seemed keen to meet his mother last night, surely that hadn’t suddenly changed...had it?
“Would you like to...come over to my place for dinner next Saturday?” He asked awkwardly, a slight blush rising on his pale cheeks.
“Sure, I’d love to.” You smiled, gently squeezing his hand again.
“Okay.” He nodded, feeling relieved that his invitation hadn’t been completely rejected. “I’ll let my mother know then.”
“Sounds good, I’m looking forward to it.”
Nodding and releasing his hand, you sat back and the two of you proceeded to eat lunch, blissfully unaware that a short distance across the canteen, a rather angry glare was being directed towards the two of you…
Returning to his desk after leaving the canteen, Flagon Turret flopped down into his chair and logged back into his computer so he could resume his work.
Staring menacingly at the screen as the desktop started to fill with various icons, his attention was soon pulled to the double doors leading to the management offices when you and Levi walked through them.
A low growl rumbling in the pit of his throat, he watched the two of you make your way over to your workstation, eyes narrowing in distaste when you stopped and turned to smile at the short male.
Picking up a pile of documents that he needed to make extra copies of, Flagon casually walked towards the printing station...which just happened to be a short distance from where your work station was.
Keeping his gaze fixed on the photocopier when he arrived, he set everything up and listened intently to the conversation taking place behind him.
“Sorry I couldn’t come over this weekend, it’s kind of a tradition to go to Stohess for my dad’s birthday.” He heard you say somewhat worriedly. “Plus it’s pretty rare that I actually get to see my uncle since he lives so far away.”
“It’s fine.” Replied Levi, although if Flagon was being completely honest, it didn’t sound like he believed a word you were saying. There was certainly a hint of doubt that he was quick to pick up on, immediately bringing a smile to his lips as he continued to eavesdrop on your conversation. “It’s probably best that we wait anyway...with my mother not feeling too good at the minute.”
“Yeah, I agree.”
Risking a glance behind him, Flagon felt his stomach lurch violently at the sight of you and Levi sharing a brief embrace, followed by a chaste kiss before releasing each other.
“I’ll text you later.”
Watching the short manager leave as you took a seat at your workstation, Flagon quickly retrieved his paperwork from the photocopier and checked it over before walking towards the double doors leading to the management offices…
After escorting you back to your workstation, Levi made his way back to his office. However as he retrieved the key from his trouser pocket, a familiar arrogant voice caused him to freeze.
“Ah Levi there you are, I just wanted to say how sorry I am…”
“What are you talking about?” Growled Levi, not bothering to turn around and face Flagon as he placed the key in the lock and gave it a sharp turn.
“You and f/n.” Smiled Flagon rather smugly. “I was in the canteen earlier and couldn’t help but hear her reject your offer to meet your mother at the weekend.”
“Tch, not very good at eavesdropping on other people's conversations are you?” Scoffed Levi, finally turning to face the taller male and folding his arms across his chest. “Perfectly understandable though considering your lack of friends and social life!”
Jaw twitching at the scathing comment from his co-worker, Flagon continued to try rub Levi up the wrong way.
“Well she was bound to reject you eventually, she could’ve come up with a better excuse though.”
“Shows how much you know. Like I said, you’re not very good at eavesdropping.”
“Must be a real kick in the teeth though.” Smirked Flagon, deciding to raise the stakes and really get under Levi’s skin. “Knowing that your girlfriend doesn’t want to meet your mother incase she’s contagious!”
Steel grey eyes narrowing to slits, the raven haired male lunged forward and grabbed Flagon by the throat, pinning him to the wall behind him with a loud thud as his spine connected with the painted plaster.
Smirk widening, Flagon continued to hold Levi’s angry gaze, satisfied that his jibes had gotten the desired response.
“Let him go Sweetie, he’s not worth it.” Said Hanji lowly, keeping her sight firmly fixed on the currently restrained Flagon.
Reluctantly complying with the directors request, Levi slowly loosened his grip and eventually lowered his arm, taking a step back.
“I suggest you return to your workstation before I issue a formal warning.”
Shrugging nonchalantly, Flagon sauntered away towards the double doors leading back towards the client consultant area, disappearing through them a moment later.
“Are you alright?” Asked Hanji worriedly, carefully placing a hand on Levi’s shoulder once their arrogant coworker had left.
“I’m fine, leave me alone.” Growled Levi, opening his office door and entering the room.
“Don’t let him get to you like that, he could land you in a lot of trouble.” Continued the bespectacled brunette, following a few seconds later and closing the door behind her. “I know it’s hard to ignore him when he’s saying horrible things about your mother, but violence isn’t the answer.”
“Tch, I’m not going to put in a formal complaint about him if that’s what your hinting at.” Scoffed Levi, taking his seat and turning his attention to his computer.
Sighing deeply and shaking her head, Hanji approached the desk and leaned against it, focusing on him with a concerned from.
“Ignore him Levi.” She said firmly, using his name rather than calling him “Shorty.” Sending a clear indication that she being serious on the matter. “It’s far too obvious that he’s jealous of what you and f/n have, don’t let him ruin this for you.”
“I don’t intend to.”
“Good.” A small smile gracing her lips, Hanji soon regained her happy go lucky composure as she continued the conversation. “Anyway, if you’re free this weekend, how about we meet up and go for a walk in the park?”
“Why would I want to do that?” Frowned Levi, keeping his gaze fixed on the computer screen and entering his log in details so he could resume his work.
“Well, I’m dog sitting a certain chocolate labrador that I know you are starting to become acquainted with…goes by the name of Sasha...”
Blinking once, Levi froze and mulled over her words.
“Well f/n and her dad can’t exactly take her to Stohess with them.” Laughed the bespectacled brunette. “Her uncle is allergic to dog and cat hair, so rather than put Sasha in kennels, I offered to have her for the weekend.”
“I’ll see.” Came the blunt reply, yet he couldn’t help but feel relief that he now had confirmation that you were indeed going away for the weekend and not just trying to play for time because you felt under pressure to move whatever was between you along. Surely if you felt like it was moving too fast, you’d have said something?
“Okay, well I’ll let you get back to work.” Smiled Hanji, clapping a hand onto his shoulder and making her way towards the door. “Remember what I said about Flagon though, don’t let him get under your skin and try not to throw him out of any windows...that little threat belongs exclusively to me and I refuse to share it!”
“Just get out you moron!”
Leaning back in his seat and folding his arms, Levi stared at the door as Hanji left the office, closing it behind her.
He would never actually admit it out loud, but he was grateful to the bespectacled director for confirming that Flagon was indeed just trying to cause trouble and unfortunately for his jealous co-worker, Levi was a firm believer that those who stirred the shit pot, should be made to lick the spoon afterwards...
Chapter 16: Double Trouble
Survey Corps Headquarters,
With the end of the year only a month away, there were changes afoot for the members of the Survey Corps.
The recruits from the 102nd Cadet Corps were due to graduate in less than a week, leading to Commander Erwin spending more time in his office going over his tactics for drafting as many of the impressionable youngsters into the regiment as possible.
There was also the last expedition of the year to prepare for, which meant more intense training regimes were in place and everyone was expected to pull their weight with regards making sure all personnel and equipment was up to standard.
Adjusting the white cloth covering the lower half of his face, Levi grunted upon lifting the heavy hay bale to his right, watched keenly by several of the horses which shared the stable block where his own steed resided.
He had always been very particular when it came to cleaning out his horse, preferring to do it himself rather trust someone else to complete the task for him...despite the smell reminding him of the Underground City where he had been born.
“Good Afternoon Handsome!”
Turning around at the call of the familiar female voice he had grown accustomed to over the past six months, he dropped the hay bale into the corner of his horse’s stall and walked back towards the door.
“I was wondering when I was going to see you.”
“Hmm? Oh did you think I was talking to you?” Questioned f/n, cocking her head to one side and raising her hands to stroke the large muzzle of a black horse tied up outside. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I was actually referring to Midnight!”
Gowling in lowly in the pit of his throat, Levi fixed her with a harsh glare...the fact that his eyes were the only facial feature not hidden beneath a white cloth making him appear much more sinister than intended.
Giggling and shaking her head, the young scout flashed him a cheeky smile and walked towards him, swaying her hips in a rather seductive manner.
“Although, you do happen to look extremely appealing when you’re dressed for cleaning...Captain.”
Standing his ground, Levi raised an eyebrow as she came to a halt in front of him and casually reached up, gently pulling the cloth covering the lower half of his face away.
Knowing what was coming next, the raven haired male hummed approvingly as his lips met hers in a tender embrace for a brief moment.
“Tch, Four Eyes finally let you out of that filthy basement she calls a laboratory then?” He inquired, returning to the task of cleaning his horse’s stall.
“Kind of, I had to take some paperwork to Commander Erwin.” She nodded folding her arms. “I decided to take a little detour and see you before heading back there, I’m sure she won’t even notice that I’m taking longer than I should to be honest. When I left, she was dragging Moblit away kicking and screaming to go and check on Geraldine.”
“Her test subject from when we were finally able to put the new capture device into action.”
“She still has that thing?” Scoffed Levi, picking up the bale of hay and giving it a hard shake to loosen the compact material ready for lining the floor.
“Anyway, I didn’t come here to talk about Hanji.” Voice growing slightly concerned, f/n faltered in her speech as Levi turned back to face her. “I was going to ask you about this later on, but...well, I may as well get it over with now.”
Blinking twice at your sudden change of tone, Levi slowly turned to face you and raised a curious eyebrow.
“What is it?”
Sighing deeply and swallowing down the nervous lump forming in her throat, f/n looked him in the eyes and frowned.
“We’ve been dating for six months right?”
“What of it?”
“Well...by the way, you can tell me to get lost if this is something you’re not comfortable with…”
Brows furrowing, Levi continued to watch her, silently waited for her to continue.
“This is going to sound so wrong.” She winced in frustration, nervously gripping the light brown fabric of her jacket and causing it to crease beneath her fingers. “It’s just that, you’ve met my parents on a couple of occasions...but you’ve never mentioned your own parents or anything about your childhood, I just wondered why that was.”
Tensing up, Levi wasn’t entirely sure how he was supposed to respond.
It was true that he had never spoken to her of his life before joining the Survey Corps, not because he didn’t trust her, but because it was a part of his life he hated reminiscing about.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything.” Said f/n, quickly dropping her arms to her sides and turning to leave.
Reaching out to her, he gently gripped her arm and drew her back to him, looking deep into her wide e/c eyes.
“Tch, you’re right.” He muttered. “I’m not comfortable with talking about my past...not in great detail anyway.”
“It’s okay Levi, I understand.”
Averting his gaze, the short captain clicked his tongue and frowned.
Releasing her a moment later, he moved towards the stall door and looked around the stable yard.
“There are too many people around.” He said quietly, natural frown deepening when he turned back to face her. “Meet me on the battlements after evening meal, we’ll talk then.”
Taking that as her cue to leave, f/n afforded him a sad smile and silently walked away, leaving the short captain to resume mucking out his horse in peace…
“You spaced out again Sweetheart.” Said Kuchel worriedly. “You seem a little tense, is everything okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He lied, forcing himself to focus on the present as yet another memory of his past life that had revealed itself to him started to fade away.
“So what time is f/n coming over? You sent her our address didn’t you?”
“Around four o’clock and yes I sent her it a few days ago.”
Raising an eyebrow when his phone started vibrating, he reached for it and swiped his thumb across the screen.
“Is that her?”
“I thought it would be considering how fast you moved!” Teased Kuchel, standing from her seat and picking up the empty tea cups from the table. “Is she alright?”
“Yeah, just confirming that today is still okay.”
“I don’t see why it wouldn’t be, besides I’ve really been looking forward to finally meeting her.”
“Yeah, she said the same about you.” Said Levi evenly. “Besides, it’s not you she needs to be concerned about.”
“Oh, don’t you worry about your uncle.” Smiled the raven haired woman, adjusting the white bandanna covering her head.
“Tch, good luck with that.”
“Well then, I guess I’ll start preparing dinner then.”
Watching his mother closely, Levi frowned.
While she was evidently feeling better after her latest round of chemotherapy, he didn’t want her to overexert herself. Still, there was no denying that she had regained some of the colour in her cheeks and her strength had returned, much to his relief.
Of course he still worried about her, the disease that plagued her body was still there and to add even more suffering...a small bald patch where her hair was falling out had formed near her left temple.
Thankfully it remained hidden beneath the bandanna, but there was no escaping the fact that it was still there. Furthermore, it was going to be an agonising two to three month wait to see if the more intense treatment was having the desired effect.
Still, rather than worry about something that was still too far off in the distant future to deal with at that moment in time, Levi opted to concentrate on the present, sending a reply to your message and contemplating how introducing you to his mother would play out.
At least, that was his intention until he found the world around him becoming blurry as another flashback to his previous life started to unfold before his eyes…
Survey Corps Headquarters,
Sitting on the cold stone battlements, Levi turned his steel eyed gaze upwards.
There wasn’t a single cloud overhead that night, allowing the silver stars to shine brightly against the dark blue sky where they were dwarfed by the pale full moon casting it’s light onto the land below.
Glancing to his left, Levi watched f/n cautiously approach and take a seat next to him.
Waiting until she had gotten comfortable, he met her gaze and held it for what felt like an eternity, only to find that himself being interrupted when he was ready to speak.
“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want me to know.” Said f/n softly. “I’m sorry for bringing it up, but curiosity got the better of me.”
“It’s fine.” Pausing to take her hand. “I trust you.”
Affording him a small smile, f/n remained silent and waited for him to continue.
“I warn you now, this isn’t going to be pleasant.”
Nodding and steeling herself for what was to come.
“I was born in the Underground City, my mother…” Breaking eye contact with her, Levi drew a deep breath and looked towards the steep drop below. “My mother was a prostitute...she fell pregnant by one of her clients.”
He didn’t even need to look at f/n to know that she was shocked by what she was hearing, but it was likely she already had a better understanding of why he had never mentioned his parents before.
“She didn’t choose to become one because she wanted to, I know that much. The details are a little hazy, but my family was persecuted for some reason, so she went into hiding in the Underground City and that was her only means of survival.”
“What happened to her?” Asked f/n worriedly, nervously biting her lower lip and squeezing the raven haired males hand.
“She became ill and died when I was still very young.” Pausing again, Levi gritted his teeth and screwed his eyes shut, forcing himself to relive his painful past. “No one even knew she’d passed away...or that I was still in the room with her. I would’ve died too if it weren’t for a friend turning up to visit her.”
“That’s horrible! Why did no one come and check on either of you? Surely they knew she was ill and probably needed medicine?”
“Maybe they thought she was contagious and they didn’t want to catch whatever she had, either way no one cared enough to come and find out what was going on.”
“You were lucky that this friend of your mother’s came by then.”
“In a way yes.” Shrugged Levi nonchalantly. “Sure he took me in and taught me a few valuable survival skills, but then one day, a few years later...he abandoned me.”
“What?” Gasped f/n, her e/c eyes widening in horror. “Why?”
“I don’t know.”
Finally opening his eyes and turning to look at her again, Levi wasn’t surprised to see the young scout looking practically mortified by what she had just heard.
“It’s no wonder you don’t talk about your past.” Said f/n, her voice barely above a whisper. “I’m sorry, I should never have asked about it.”
Another awkward silence descended over the two of them, only the sound of the gentle breeze whistling through the battlements breaking it as they stared at each other intensely.
Opening her mouth to speak again, f/n hesitated and momentarily looked away, almost as if she was searching for the right words to say.
“I really am sorry…”
“Tch, quit apologising!” He snorted, raising a hand and lightly flicking her forehead.
All sorrow gone from her voice, f/n reached up and returned the gesture, smirking rather cockily at the harsh glare the short captain directed at her.
“Thank you for telling me, I won’t bring it up again.”
Remaining silent, Levi simply stared at her.
Not many people had showed him kindness or compassion before, but with her, it felt right. He didn’t feel any resentment for her asking him about his past, nor was he angry at her for raising the subject...surprised that she had naturally and maybe a little vexed, but certainly not angry with her.
“Are you okay?” She questioned, a worried frown forming on her face.
“I’m fine.” He replied evenly, keeping his voice level and pushing his dark memories of the past back into the corner of his mind.
Shuffling closer to him, f/n rested her head on his shoulder, her frown melting into a warm smile as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer...
Shaking his head as the flashback cleared, Levi blinked rapidly and looked around.
Thankfully his mother hadn’t noticed that he had spaced out for a second time, mainly because she was too preoccupied rummaging around in the cupboards looking for cooking utensils.
“I’m going to head upstairs for a little while, I need to send an email to Hanji.” He said, standing up from the table and leaving the kitchen.
“Alright Sweetheart.” Nodded Kuchel, not turning to look at him as he rushed from the room.
Hoping that it wouldn’t but convinced it might, Levi’s logic in making a hasty exit was that if a third flashback decided to happen, he wouldn’t face anymore awkward questioning when he finally returned to reality.
“Dad, I’m heading off to Levi’s.” You called, retrieving your car keys from the coffee table in the living room and making your way into the hallway.
“Okay f/n.” Called your father from upstairs, appearing on the landing a moment later. “Did you bring Sasha back in?”
“Yeah, she’s currently sprawled out on the sofa snoring!”
“Have you got everything?”
“House keys, car keys, phone…” You muttered, patting down your jeans pockets. “Yep, all present and correct.”
“Alright, I hope it goes well for you.”
“Thanks, me too.”
Exiting the house, you pulled out your phone and swiped your thumb across the screen, finding Levi’s name in your contact list and proceeding to send a quick text letting him know you were on your way.
Taking a deep breath and holding it for a moment before exhaling, your thoughts turned to the earlier conversation you’d been having with your father.
While he was glad that things were going well between you and Levi, he also wanted to make sure you were comfortable about the speed with which you had been invited over to meet his mother.
Naturally he was a little concerned, after all, you had only been on two dates.
However you were quick to put his mind at ease that you were perfectly fine with how things were progressing and assured him that Levi hadn’t forced you into doing anything against your will.
Satisfied that you were happy, he had voiced his approval and wished you luck before cracking a joke about how nervous he had been when he initially met your mother’s parents.
Allowing yourself a small smile, you got into your car and checked your phone again, making sure to memorize Levi’s address before setting off.
Sitting back in his seat and frowning at his laptop, Levi carefully checking over the email he had composed before typing in Hanji’s address and selecting the send option.
Ever since he had started having the strange flashbacks linking you to his previous life, Hanji had insisted on keeping a record of them to aid her research.
At first Levi didn’t see the significance of keeping track of them and scoffed at the idea, however that had soon changed after his first date with you at Trost Spring Carnival.
While he put the first flashback from when he introduced himself to you at work down to pure coincidence, the one that had occurred at the shooting gallery during your date soon had him second guessing himself.
Yes there were minor differences, but the sequence of events and most of the words exchanged seemed to be the same. Upon noticing this, he started to take Hanji’s request a little more seriously and started to send her detailed emails describing what had happened in each flashback.
After seeing the “message sent” notification appear, he glanced down at the clock on the right hand side of the task bar before turning his attention to his phone when it bleeped.
Picking it up, he swiped his thumb across the screen, raising an eyebrow at the flashing envelope icon indicating he had received a text message.
Hey Levi, setting off now. See you soon xx
Allowing himself a split second smile, Levi sent a quick reply and closed his laptop before making his way downstairs to check on his mother and make sure she wasn’t over exerting herself.
Chapter 17: Meeting The Mother
Having been being accused of getting in the way and practically chased out of the kitchen by a ladle wielding Kuchel, Levi had at least thirty minutes to go until your arrival.
With nothing else to do, he opted to head outside and wash his car while he waited.
Risking going back into the kitchen to retrieve the cleaning kit from under the sink, he was subjected to his mother impatiently tapping her foot and glaring at him through narrow grey eyes from the second he walked in, to the exact moment he left again.
“Don’t bother coming back in here until f/n arrives or you’ve finished cleaning!” She warned sternly, waving the ladle at him again to drive home that she was not to be disturbed.
Sure it was a relief that she was back to her usual self, but he could’ve done without the threat of being assaulted with cooking utensils!
Closing the front door behind him as he left the house, he placed the bucket of hot soapy water he had been carrying down next to his car and tied a plain white bandana over his head.
Sighing deeply and glancing towards the gate leading onto the street, his cold grey eyes narrowed thoughtfully.
Hanji should have received his email detailing his latest flashback by now, knowing her she was probably busy going over it with a fine tooth comb as she did with the previous ones he had sent her.
There was no doubt in his mind that she would either call him to talk his ear off about it later, or perhaps she would wait until she saw him face to face at work and then start babbling at a hundred miles an hour while wafting a huge wad of papers under his nose documenting her findings.
Shaking his head and cursing under his breath, he pushed everything to the back of his mind and decided to concentrate solely on the task at hand while he waited for your arrival.
Humming along with the song currently playing on the radio, you double checked the street name on your right to make sure it was the one you were looking for.
You’d been forced to take a minor detour thanks to a breakdown on one of the main roads leading out of the main city towards the suburbs, which had added roughly ten minutes to your journey. Other than that, you’d had no problems finding your destination.
“Okay this is the right street.” You mused, flicking the indicator on and checking to make sure you were safe to turn. “Now my next mission is to see if I can find a place to park.”
Slowly driving down the road to make sure you had a chance to get a look at the house numbers, a smile soon found its way onto your lips when you soon spotted a familiar black car in one of the gardens.
Stopping a little way past the house, you quickly pulled down the sun visor and checked your reflection in the mirror mounted on to it.
Straightening your shirt collar and quickly running your hands through your hair, you nodded once you were satisfied and got out of the car.
“Well, here we go.” You muttered nervously, making your way towards Levi’s house and pausing when you reached the gate.
A cheeky grin tugged at your lips when you saw a short male walking towards the car, leaning over the bonnet and wiping down the shiny black metal with a shammy cloth.
Allowing yourself a tiny giggle, you bit your lip and tiptoed through the gate, quietly closing it behind you.
Making sure your footsteps across the gravel surface of the garden were as light as possible, you moved to stand a few feet behind your oblivious target and folded your arms.
Grin widening, you cocked your head to one side and allowed your eyes to follow the curve of the male’s spine before settling on his jean clad rear end, biting back the urge to run up and give it a quick squeeze.
"You know, this view would be a lot better if you took your tee-shirt off!” You called, relishing the way Levi suddenly jumped and turned on the spot to face you.
“Where the fuck did you come from?” He gasped, his normally calm and unreadable face momentarily displaying a flash of surprise before he regained his composure.
“Well hello to you too!” You laughed. “Sorry, couldn’t resist! Nice bandanna by the way, it suits you.”
Blinking rapidly, Levi raised an eyebrow and stared at you silently.
Once again, your words and actions seemed to almost mirror the memory from his previous life, making him question whether you were aware of the close connection the two of you had once had.
“Tch, fucking pervert!” He muttered, a light blush rising on his pale cheeks.“As charming as ever Levi.” You sighed, approaching and catching him off guard when you placed a quick kiss on his lips.
“So, I take it you found your way here without any problems?” He managed to ask without stuttering, feeling a little annoyed that you had managed to blindside him.
“I had to take a minor detour thanks to a breakdown on the carriageway, but apart from that, everything was fine.”
“Good.” He nodded, stepping away from you to retrieve his cleaning equipment and signalling for you to follow him. “Come on.”
With Levi out of the way, Kuchel was free to cook without any further interruptions.
Clicking her tongue thoughtfully, she removed the lid from the currently simmering pot on the stove before reaching for a spoon and scooping out a small amount of liquid to taste the contents.
“Hmm, needs a little more seasoning.” She mused, furrowing her brows.
If there was one thing Kuchel enjoyed when she was left to her own devices, it was cooking.
Unfortunately since she had started the more intense course of chemotherapy, she found herself lacking the strength to stand preparing home cooked meals for several days after enduring the treatment, which usually meant surviving off whatever burnt offerings her older brother managed to throw together.
As much as Kuchel loved Kenny, she was the first to admit that he couldn’t cook to save his life and she wouldn’t dream of feeding his blackened creations to her worst enemy. So it came as little surprise to her that half the time when he came back from work or accompanied her on hospital visits, he usually ended up bringing home something that required little to no preparation or took her out for a meal.
Adding a sprinkling of salt and pepper to the pot, Kuchel gave it a quick stir and then tasted it again, humming thoughtfully and nodded in satisfaction.
Turning the heat down and replacing the lid, she wiped her hands on the off-white apron around her waist and glanced at the kitchen clock for a moment before the sound of the front door opening caught her attention.
Kenny wasn’t due back for at least another hour, so there was only one other person it could be…
“Levi, is that you?” She called out, hearing the door close a moment later.
“Yeah, f/n’s just arrived.”
“Alright Sweetheart, come through to the kitchen.”
Adjusting the bandana on her head to make sure it covered the bald spot near her left temple, Kuchel moved towards the sink to fill the kettle, listening intently to the sound of footsteps on the laminate wood flooring of the hallway growing closer...
Following Levi into the house, you mentally prepared yourself for meeting his family.
Naturally shy around people until you got to know them better, you were more than a little nervous about the sort of questions Kuchel probably had lined up for you in order to make sure you were good enough to be dating her son.
There was no doubt in your mind that she would inquire about how you and Levi came to meet and what position you held at work, especially since Levi had been promoted at the start of the year...what if she thought you were some little gold digger or merely using him to further yourself within the company? That was the last thing you wanted her to assume.
“Levi, is that you?” Called a soft voice from the room ahead of you, instantly snapping you out of your thoughts.
“Yeah.” Replied Levi, closing the front door. “F/n’s just arrived.”
“Alright Sweetheart, come through to the kitchen.”
“Tch, don’t look so nervous.” Muttered Levi, taking your hand and leading you towards the slightly ajar door ahead of you. “She doesn’t bite!”
Allowing yourself a small giggle while giving him a playful shove, you swallowed hard and followed the short male into the kitchen.
The appetising smell of beef hot pot drifting through the air was the first thing you noticed upon entering the room, closely followed by the short raven haired female currently stood at the sink facing away from you.
“Oi, I’ll do that.” Said Levi, releasing your hand and moving towards her, causing her to turn around at the sound of his voice.
Blinking rapidly, you had to stop yourself from involuntarily speaking when you noticed the woman’s appearance. Raven hair, grey eyes...Hanji hadn’t been wrong when she told you that Levi was the absolute double of his mother, the only noticeable differences of course being that Kuchel had longer hair and there was a seemingly natural softness to her eyes rather than a harsh stare like her son’s.
“I’m fine Levi!” She protested with a smile, moving the kettle out of his reach. “Put your cleaning stuff away and sit down!”
Tutting and rolling his eyes, Levi did as he was told, leaving Kuchel to turn her attention to you.
“So you’re f/n?” She inquired, tilting her head slightly. “It’s good to finally put a face to the name. I’m Kuchel, Levi’s mother.”
“Nice to meet you.” You smiled nervously, not entirely sure of what else to say.
“Likewise Dear, Levi’s told me a little bit about you already of course. Have a seat, would you like something to drink?”
“Tea please. (insert how you take it) thanks.”
Nodding and returning to the worktop to prepare your drinks, Kuchel decided to continue the conversation as Levi sat down next to you, keeping a close eye on her movements.
“Levi tells me you also work at Survey Corps.”
“Yeah, I’ve been there since leaving college.” You nodded. “I recently changed positions to a client consultant at the start of the new year.”
“Quite the ambitious young lady then.” Smiled Kuchel, walking over to the table and placing a cup down in front of you before handing another to Levi. “How are you finding it so far?”
“I like it, it's a nice change of pace.”
“Good, so whose team are you on? I hear you’re actually quite good friends with one of the directors, Hanji is it?”
“Why are you interrogating her about that idiot?” Asked Levi, furrowing his brows in annoyance.
“It’s called making conversation!” Snapped Kuchel, her normally soft grey eyes suddenly becoming hard as a worryingly familiar glare that you were used to seeing from her son started to show on her features. "Just because you communicate with two words or less per sentence recently doesn’t mean the rest of us do!”
“To be fair, Hanji can be pretty annoying at times.” You giggled. “Plus, that’s not the worst thing she’s been called.”
“Oh I’m well aware of what he calls her!” Remarked Kuchel, sipping her tea and continuing to glare at Levi over the rim of her cup. “He might not like to admit it, but he takes after my brother with his creativity for offensive nicknames!”
“You’ll have the displeasure of meeting him when he comes back from work.” Snorted Levi, leaning back in his seat and folding his arms.
“Yes, well…” Kuchel spoke up again, placing her cup back down on the table. “Until then, I’d like us to have a civil conversation so I can get to know f/n a little better.”
E/c eyes nervously flicking between Levi and Kuchel, you felt very much like a deer caught in the headlights as you reached for your tea.
Sure Levi had already told you that he and his uncle didn’t get along, but for Kuchel to hint that they couldn’t have a pleasant chat while he was around certainly didn’t fill you with much confidence for how the rest of your visit was going to pan out…
Arriving home from work, Kenny Ackerman pulled up into the driveway and exited his car, cursing under his breath as he kicked the door closed and made his way towards the house.
As much as he hated overtime, it was a necessary evil he had no choice but to endure for the sake of his sick sister. Still, he was now free to enjoy the next two days off and he intended to make the most of his time...starting with a few alcoholic beverages.
Opening the front door, he called out to let her know he was home.
“Oi Kuchel, I’m back!”
“I’m in the kitchen Kenny.” Came the reply a moment later. “Dinner will be ready soon.”
Making his way down the hallway towards the kitchen and stepping through the open door, he stopped and blinked in surprise at the sight of three people looking towards him rather than the usual two.
“This is f/n.” Said Kuchel evenly, noticing his confusion. “You shouldn’t look so surprised, I did tell you Levi would be bringing her over for dinner before you left for work this morning.”
“Heh, so she does actually exist then?” He smirked rather sinisterly, turning his attention towards you. “I’m impressed!”
Swallowing hard, you shrank back into your seat slightly.
Levi had already warned you that Kenny was rude and intimidating, he certainly hadn’t been joking.
The warm light hearted atmosphere you’d previously enjoyed while conversing with Kuchel and Levi before his arrival soon turned cold and foreboding, sending a shiver of fear running down your spine as you forced yourself to look up and meet his gaze.
“What did I tell you earlier about behaving yourself?” Snapped Kuchel, her eyes once again hardening as she directed a cold stare at her older brother.
“Hey, come on relax Sis!” Chuckled Kenny, removing his hat and slicking back his hair. “For all I knew he could've brought home a random woman off the streets!”
Eyes narrowing to slits, Kuchel continued to glare at him.
“Geez calm down! Where's your sense of humour?”
Skulking from the room, silence temporarily fell as he departed, once again leaving you alone with Levi and Kuchel.
“Idiot!” Snorted Levi, turning his attention to you and softening his harsh glare. “Oi, you okay or what?”
“Yeah...yeah, I’m fine.” You smiled weakly, trying to hide your discomfort. “You did warn me beforehand what he was like.”
“I apologize for my brother’s lack of manners f/n.” Said Kuchel softly. “He’s kind of what I like to call an “acquired taste,” although even I get sick of him sometimes!”
“Tch, not exactly hard!”
“Alright Levi, that’s enough!”
Rolling his eyes, the short male sat back in his seat.
Unable to fight back the smile that was currently creeping across your lips, you shook your head and averted your gaze...an action that did not go unnoticed by Kuchel
“I take it you have annoying siblings too?”
“I’m an only child.”
“I envy you! Excuse me a moment, I just need to check on dinner.”
Standing up from the table, she retrieved the empty cups and placed them down on the worktop before moving to towards the stove.
“Just ignore Kenny.” Advised Levi, affording his mother a quick glance to make sure she didn’t need any assistance. “He thinks he’s funny, but I’ve never laughed at any of his jokes before.”
“Dinner is nearly ready.” Said Kuchel, turning back to face the two of you. “So where were we?”
“Discussing buying my uncle a kennel?”
Not bothering to hide your amusement, you couldn't help but notice the small smile that was forming on Kuchel’s lips as she shook her head in disapproval.
Conversation over dinner that evening was certainly going to be interesting.
By the time Kenny returned to the kitchen, Kuchel had finished cooking and was busying herself with bringing plates containing a delicious looking hotpot to the table.
Taking a seat, he turned his attention towards you. There was no doubt in his mind that Levi had given you a fair warning about his attitude towards other people, so now it was time to have a little fun and wind his nephew up in the process…
“So f/n, what exactly is it you see in this sour faced midget?”
Opening your mouth to reply, you closed it again a split second later when a rather angry looking Kuchel appeared behind him and roughly placed the final plate down in front of him before taking her seat next to him with her own.
“May I remind you that’s my son you’re talking about?” She growled lowly, her usually soft features becoming hard and intimidating.
Levi didn’t even bother giving him the satisfaction of a response, mainly because he knew full well what would happen if Kenny carried on being his usual self.
“I’m making conversation!” He protested, glancing back towards his sister and pointing to his left temple. “Oh by the way…”
Jaw twitching, Kuchel remained silent and hastily adjusted her bandana.
“So come on then.” He continued, focusing on you again. “What is it about Levi that you like so much? Cos I’m struggling to see the appeal!”
“Well he’s sweet…” You started, only to be cut off mere seconds later by Kenny almost choking on his food.
“Sweet? Him?” He scoffed, a sinister smirk appearing on his thin lips. “That runt wouldn’t know how to be sweet if there was a manual to read!”
“Would you excuse me a minute please f/n?” Smiled Kuchel apologetically, although you were quick to notice it rapidly disappear when she left the table.
Watching her curiously, you cocked your head to one side as she moved towards the worktop and picked up a tea cloth.
Folding it lengthways, she gripped one end and walked over to Kenny…
“What? You think because we have a guest I’ll let you get away with calling my son a runt?” She snarled, causing your eyes to widen in shock at just how quickly her demeanour had changed.
“Wow!” The word left your lips in a barely audible gasp when you raised your hands to try and trap the surprised laughter threatening to overwhelm you as you leaned towards Levi. “Is this something that happens often?”
“Yeah.” He nodded and turned to face you, ignoring the angry string of curses from his uncle. “I’m used to it.”
“I’ll eat later.” Snorted Kenny, standing up from the table and walking out of the room.
Huffing in annoyance, Kuchel turned to look at you and returned to her seat.
“I’m sorry you had to witness that f/n.” She said softly. “So, what were you saying before you were so rudely interrupted?”
“Do you usually whip people with tea cloths?” You inquired, giving in to your amusement and allowing yourself a small giggle.
“I used to make quite a habit of it before I became too ill to continue working actually.” She mused thoughtfully. “Back when I was a bar manager in the city, a quick swipe to the back of the head with a damp beer towel was the ideal way of keeping rowdy punters inline on a Saturday night!”
“Hey Levi, you should try that with Hanji when she’s bugging you at work!” You suggested, earning you a raised eyebrow from the raven haired male.
“Huh, not bad.”
“Oh don’t be so horrible you two!” Tutted Kuchel, despite the faint smile playing on her lips as she spoke. “Anyway, what were you saying before my brother so rudely interrupted you f/n?”
Shaking your head and trying to regain your train of thought, you tried to recall the previous topic of conversation.
However this proved to be nearly impossible after what you had just witnessed, especially since all you could think about at that moment in time was what on earth were you going to tell your father about your evening when he asked how things went when you returned home.
With Kenny still keeping a low profile in the front room, you, Levi and Kuchel were able to enjoy the rest of your meal without any further arguments breaking out, much to everyone’s relief.
Still, there was no denying that Kuchel putting her brother in his place was the highlight of the evening for you, especially when you found yourself wondering if you should actually try her technique out on Hanji!
“Well, it’s been nice meeting you f/n.” Smiled Kuchel, self consciously adjusting her bandana again and standing up. “You’ll have to excuse me, I need to go and lie down.”
“That’s okay.” You said softly. “It’s coming up for eight o’clock, I should probably head home. Thanks for dinner, you make a really delicious hotpot.”
“You’re welcome Dear.” Nodded the raven haired woman, sitting herself back down and drawing a shaky breath. “I hope to see you again.”
“So do I.”
“I’ll see you out.” Said Levi, pushing his chair back and glancing over at Kuchel. “Stay where you are, I’ll help you upstairs when I come back.”
Watching you and Levi exit the kitchen, Kuchel frowned and stood up again, taking a moment to regain her balance before quietly walking towards the hallway...
“Sorry about Kenny.” Muttered Levi, folding his arms and averting his gaze when the two of you reached the front door. “I did warn you he was an asshole.”
“I’ll survive.” You giggled. “I really enjoyed meeting your mum though, she’s great.”
Nodding awkwardly, Levi still found himself unable to meet your gaze.
“Hey.” You smiled, reaching for his hand and lightly squeezing it. “If your uncle was hoping to scare me off, he’s failed miserably!”
“Tch, he’s just jealous because nobody wants him!”
Giggling and shaking your head, you took a step closer to the short male and wrapped your arms around his shoulders, resting your head against the crook of his neck as he loosely returned your embrace.
Moving your head back, you met his gaze for a moment before leaning in and pressing your lips to Levi’s, instigating a tender clinch that was over far quicker than the pair of you would’ve liked thanks to an unwanted interruption.
“Geez put him down!” Called Kenny from the living room.
“Shut up and leave them alone!” Shouted Kuchel. “If I hear one more word out of you tonight I’ll throw your dinner in the bin!”
Pulling away from Levi when you failed to stop your laughter, you took a moment to compose yourself before speaking again.
“I’ll text you when I get home.”
Sharing one last brief kiss, Levi watched you until he saw you got into your car and drive away before closing the door and turning back to face his mother and uncle.
Taking Kuchel’s threat seriously, Kenny didn’t even utter a single word as he walked out of the living room and down the hallway towards the kitchen...nor did he even glance in his sister’s direction when he carefully brushed past her.
Raising an incredulous eyebrow at her brother, the raven haired woman approached Levi and smiled softly, linking her left arm with his right and allowing him to help her up the stairs.
Remaining silent until they reached her bedroom, Kuchel was the first to break the silence.
“I’m glad your idiot uncle hasn’t scared f/n off.” She said with a heavy sigh as she sat down on the bed and took several shaky breaths. “She’s a lovely girl. Friendly, polite...a little on the cheeky side, I like her.”
“Yeah, so do I.” Replied Levi, switching on the oxygen machine and handing Kuchel her nasal cannula.
Putting it on, she carefully stood up, leaning on Levi for support while he pulled back the bedsheets. After helping her get comfortable on the mattress, he handed her the book on the bedside table
“I hope you don’t mind me having to cut the evening short...I just feel a little drained after all the excitement at dinner.”
“It’s fine.” Said Levi evenly. “I’ll bring you up something to drink.”
“Thank you Sweetheart.” Smiled Kuchel, reaching up and gently resting the palm of her hand on his pale cheek. “If Kenny says anything to you when you go back downstairs, you have my permission to knock him out with the frying pan!”
“I’ll be back up soon.”
Rolling his eyes at his mother's suggestion, Levi left the bedroom and closed the door behind him.
Walking back towards the stairs, he was suddenly stopped in his tracks by the feeling of his mobile vibrating in his jeans pocket.
“Tch, that can’t be f/n.” He muttered to himself, retrieving the device and looking at the notification which indicated he had a new text message.
Thumbing the screen to unlock it, he furrowed his brows at the words now displayed on it.
I got your email earlier and I’ve just been doing some more research.
Thought I’d let you know I found out a few more things about your past life that might be of interest to you, I’ll print it off and show it to you on Monday.
Nodding and sending a reply, Levi then put the device back into his pocket and made his way downstairs. However he couldn’t help but wonder what new information Hanji had managed to uncover, but perhaps most importantly of all...would any of it give an indication that you were aware of the deep connection the two of you once shared?
Chapter 18: Recollections Of The Past
Pulling into the carpark at Survey Corps, Hanji Zoe switched off the ignition and turned her attention to the passenger seat of her car, staring down at the black folder resting on top of her laptop case.
Contained within it, were several printed sheets of historical documents that she had spent most of her weekend studying in complete fascination, especially when her research led towards making a few more discoveries about her own past life that she had no recollection of.
“Hehe! I can’t wait to show you to Levi!” She giggled excitedly, picking up the folder and tucking it under her arm before retrieving the laptop case.
Exiting her vehicle, she walked across the car park towards the large building, her smile widening considerably when she noticed two familiar colleagues stood at the double doors just ahead of her…
“How’s your mum today?” You enquired, swiping your identification card along the security slot next to the entrance to the building, causing the light to flash from red to green.
“She was fine this morning when I left.” Replied Levi, following you across the polished tile floor towards the reception desk.
“Good. What about your uncle? How many times has she whipped him with a tea cloth since Saturday?”
“Twice on Sunday with a rolled up newspaper and once at breakfast today with an empty milk carton.”
“So she likes to mix it up a little huh?” You giggled, nodding a greeting to the receptionist as she handed you the sign in book to record the start of your working day.
“Maybe if he wasn’t such an asshole, she wouldn’t feel the need to kill whatever brain cells he has left in that thick skull of his!”
“I’m guessing he’s a slow learner then?”
“What gave it away?”
“You're so mean Levi!”
Rolling his eyes and tutting, he took the sign in book from you, ignoring the amused smile that passed between you and the receptionist.
“Good Morning Love Birds!” Called a female voice behind you, accompanied by the sound of someone rapidly approaching from the main entrance. “How was your weekend?”
“Tch, it’s too early to be dealing with you Shitty Glasses!” Groaned Levi, handing her the sign in book once he was done with it and taking your hand, leading you towards the stairs.
“Hey don’t rush off, I want to know how what happened when you took f/n home to meet Kuchel!” She gasped in horror, quickly scribbling down her details and handing the sign in book back to the receptionist, before chasing the two of you across the entrance foyer.
“Come on Levi, we both know she won’t give up!” You reasoned, tightening your grip on his hand and forcing him to stop walking.
Sighing and turning to look at you with a cold glare, his plan to retreat to his office was thwarted as Hanji was granted to opportunity to catch up with you.
“So how did it go?” She questioned, adjusting the hold on the folder tucked under her arm.
“Kuchel’s great.” You smiled. “We got on really well.”
“I knew you would!”
Practically bouncing through the doors and up the stairs, Hanji continued to babble away at you, earning her a barely audible complaint from Levi about needing to lower her voice.
“I take it she approves of you and Shorty dating then?”
“She seemed to.”
“Excellent! Oh f/n, I’m so happy for you Sweetie!”
“She mentioned you actually.”
“Really?” Blinked the bespectacled brunette, following you and Levi along the first floor landing and up the next flight of stairs. “What did she say?”
“That you're a fucking pain in the ass and you need to shut up!” Snapped Levi, indicating that he had clearly had enough of her early morning motormouth.
“Levi!” You laughed, shaking your head in disapproval as the three of you reached the second floor landing and stopped outside the double doors leading into the client consultants work area.
“No can do I’m afraid Shorty.” Said Hanji, blatantly ignoring his prior remark about her being annoying. “Can you come and see me during morning break?”
“Fine. As long as you leave me alone until then.”
“In that case I’ll catch up with you both later.” She smiled, heading up the stairs towards the third floor where the boardroom and director's offices were located. “Have fun Love Birds!”
“I know you find her unbearable when she starts babbling at a hundred miles an hour, but she doesn’t mean to be.” You said, starting a fresh conversation as the two of you walked through the double doors leading into the client consultant work area. “Plus you’ve known her longer than me, so you should be used to how excitable she can be by now!”
“Tch, since when did being friends for nine years mean I can’t wish she came with a remote control so I can mute her when she gets too loud?”
Raising an eyebrow, he simply started at you for a moment.
Once again he found a part of himself desperately wanting to ask if you believed in reincarnation, however he was afraid of the answer if he did.
There was no guarantee that you had any clue as to the connection you shared in a previous life and if you did, you were extremely good at hiding it.
Not once since the two of you started talking had you ever seemed to experience any moments where you spaced out from reality, although he couldn’t be certain if it happened when he wasn’t around, this was always a possibility of course.
Maybe it would be a good idea to ask Hanji if you had said anything to her when he went to see her during morning break? If you were going to talk about something so strange to anyone, he was willing to stake his life on it being her. She was like family to you after all, so it stood to reason in his mind that she would be the one you turned to if this was the case.
“I better go.” He muttered, hastily averting his gaze. “You wanna meet up for lunch?”
“Sure.” You smiled, looking behind you upon hearing voices and noticing two of your colleagues had entered the area...two very nosey colleagues who were now stood staring wide eyed in your direction.
“Alright, I’ll see you later then.”
Leaning in and giving you a barely there kiss on the lips, Levi turned and strode purposefully away towards the doors leading to the management offices. Risking a glance behind him before disappearing into the adjoining corridor, he nodded upon seeing you stood watching him, a warm smile gracing your features.
Once the raven haired male had left, you tensed up and slowly turned around, raising a questioning eyebrow at Ilse and Luke.
It was actually quite unnerving how they had managed to sneak right up to you without even being noticed, even more so when you took their manic grins and the fact Ilse had already dug her notebook out of her bag into consideration.
Thankfully, you were temporarily saved from the imminent interrogation by Nanaba walking through the doors and calling out a greeting.
Still, once morning break came around...there would be no stopping them!
Staring impatiently at the wall mounted clock in her office, Hanji noisily tapped her pen off the pile of documents she’d been signing and narrowed her puppy brown eyes.
It was nearly half past ten, which meant that Levi would soon be arriving to discuss her latest reincarnation findings.
“Oh come on, could you be any slower?” She snapped at the ticking object, watching the second hand continue its never ending sharp movements around the clock face.
Almost on cue, a knock on the door caused her to direct her attention towards the front of her office.
“Yes?” She called jumping out of her seat, barely able to contain her excitement when it slowly opened.
“Sorry to disturb you Director.” Came a timid male voice. “It’s nearly half past ten, so I was just wondering if you wanted me to bring you a coffee?”
Yeah, that’d be great thanks Moblit.” Sighing in disappointment, she slumped back down into her chair and forced a weak smile onto her lips. “Would you bring some black tea as well please? I’m expecting Levi any moment, we’re going to be discussing a few things so can you make sure we aren’t disturbed unless it’s important?”
“Of course.” Nodded Moblit. “I won’t be long.”
Smile falling from her face as the door closed, Hanji leaned back and folded her arms. However she didn’t have much time to sulk, especially when another knock on the door was heard mere moments after Moblit had left.
“Hey Four Eyes, are you in there?” Asked a bored voice through the thick wood, instantly causing her once lost smile to return to her lips.
“Come in Shorty!” She replied, reaching into the top drawer of her desk and pulling out a black folder, placing it down in front of her.
Allowing herself a quiet yet worryingly manic giggle, Hanji leaned forward and rubbed her hands together with glee when the office door opened once more…
“Hey f/n you coming to the break room?”
Looking up from your computer, you smiled and nodded in response to the question being asked of you.
“Just give me one minute.”
However when you turned your head back towards the work displayed on your monitor, you found yourself reluctantly locking gazes with a certain team manager you would rather avoid having anything to do with.
Flagon Turret narrowed his eyes and practically scowled at you like you were something he had scraped from the bottom of his shoe, continuing to watch as you nervously saved the contract you’d been typing up and stood from your seat.
Each team took turns in leaving the area to sit in the break room and relax before the next one occupied it, a fair and efficient system that kept things running smoothly while also allowing each worker a small window of opportunity to unwind, have a drink and maybe a snack before returning to their daily workload.
Flagon’s team usually went first, then Nanaba’s and so on until everyone had their turn.
“So how was your weekend?” Asked Nickolas, a concerned frown spreading across his features when he noticed your tense posture and turned to look behind him, seeing Flagon still glaring in your direction.
“Huh? Oh, it was good thanks.” You stuttered, finally freeing yourself from the intimidating male’s gaze and focusing your attention on Nickolas.
“Glad to hear it.”
Before either of you could speak again, the doors leading to the deputy management offices opened and a certain short raven haired manager walked into the client consultant area.
Steel grey eyes naturally drawn to you like a moth to a flame, his harsh gaze visibly softened for a few seconds before hardening once more when he turned his head and noticed Flagon directing his attention towards you.
Upper lip curling into a sneer, the blonde male finally averted his gaze and returned to his work as Levi departed through the other set of double doors at the opposite end of the area.
“Things still good between you and Mr Ackerman?” Inquired Nickolas curiously.
“Yeah I met his mother and uncle at the weekend.” You replied with a smile. “Which is probably going to be the hot topic of conversation once we get into the break room, Nanaba only just managed to save me from Luke and Ilse bombarding me with questions earlier. I doubt I’ll be so lucky this time.”
“I think you could be right.” Smirked Nickolas, nodding in the direction of Ilse’s desk.
Following his line of sight, you swallowed hard when you noticed your aforementioned colleagues both stood watching you.
“I don’t suppose you could distract them while I make a run for it?”
“Hey f/n, are you coming to the break room or what?” Asked Luke, folding his arms and raising an expectant eyebrow.
“Guess that answers that question then.” You giggled, turning back to Nickolas. “Listen, can you do me a favour?”
“If I fail to make it out alive...tell my dad I love him.”
“I don’t think it’s going to be that bad!” Shaking his head, Nickolas chuckled and slowly walked away towards the break room. “Besides, we only have fifteen minutes...what’s the worst that can happen?”
Heading upstairs to the third floor, Levi walked along the narrow corridor before finally stopping outside the last one on the left.
The directors offices usually comprised of two sections, a small reception area where their personal assistants answered phone calls and took delivery of paperwork, mail and any other business related items. While the second was the actual office itself, in which the director resided during the working day.
Knocking on the door, he was answered a few seconds later by a tall flustered looking male with short brown hair and hazel eyes.
“Ah Mr Ackerman!” Gasped Moblit, stepping aside and holding the door to allow the shorter man entry. “Director Hanji is expecting you.”
Silently passing him by, Levi made his way to the other door at the opposite end of the rather comfortable looking reception area and knocked.
“Hey Four Eyes, are you in there?” He asked in a bored tone, perfectly aware that despite not being able to see him, Moblit was shaking his head in disapproval at not addressing Hanji in a proper manner.
Still, it came as no surprise to the nervous personal assistant that the bespectacled brunette didn’t particularly care, she often referred to Levi with a nickname of her own in return...albeit less offensive in his opinion.
“Come in Shorty!” Called an excited female voice from the other side.
Doing as he was asked, Levi opened the door and stepped into the spacious office, closely followed by Moblit carrying a plain blue plastic tray containing two cups of steaming black liquid.
“I’ve brought your drinks Director.” He said, carefully placing one down in front of her and offering the other to Levi when he took a seat at the large paperwork cluttered desk.
“Thanks Sweetie.” She smiled, watching him leave and close the door behind him before focusing her attention on Levi.
“Tch, so what did you want to show me this time?” Asked the short manager, folding his arms and leaning back in his seat.
“Well, I managed to do a little more digging into some of the more intimate family details of your past life.” Said Hanji, her smile fading as she picked up the black folder in front of her and opened it, removing some of printed papers. “I couldn't find out anything about your mother, but I did uncover some information that sheds light on the identity of the “friend” who took you in after her passing.”
“So, who was it?”
“Kenny?” With the exception of raising a disbelieving eyebrow, Levi remained motionless. “Are you sure about that?”
“Yes, although...that’s not the only thing I found out about him, listen to this.” Clearing her throat, Hanji started to read aloud. “Kenny “The Ripper” Ackerman, was a notorious serial killer who later became a member of the Military Police First Interior Squad. Based in the city of Mitras, he served as the captain of the elite private soldiers until his death in the year 850.”
“Fuck off Four Eyes!” Snorted Levi. “First I have a flashback revealing my mother was a prostitute, now you’re telling me my uncle was a serial killer?”
“I’m serious!” Holding out the document, she stared at him over the top of her glasses. “Have a look for yourself! Everything I have printed off during our investigation into your past life has come from legitimate historical sources held by the city museum.”
Reluctantly taking the document from her, he narrowed his eyes and scanned through the article.
“Tch, next thing you’ll be telling me I was the bastard son of the fucking king or some shit!”
“Not quite.” Giggled Hanji, pulling more pieces of paper from the folder and casting a glance over them. “You were actually pretty famous though, they called you “Humanity’s Strongest Soldier.” A title that once belonged to our dear friend Mike Zacharius actually.”
“Tch, next you’re going to tell me near enough everyone that works here are our reincarnated comrades?”
“Well not everyone, no.” Mused the bespectacled director. “A majority are though.”
“I see.” Leaning forward and reaching for his cup, Levi picked it up by the rim and sat back again. “Well I already knew you and Erwin were considering you two appeared in the first of these weird flashbacks.”
Biting her lip nervously, Hanji cringed slightly as the next words left her mouth.
“Flagon Turret is one of our reincarnated comrades too, in fact he was actually your superior when you joined the Survey Corps in the year 844. The two of you didn’t get along then either, maybe that’s why you can’t stand each other in this life?”
Cup raised partly to his lips, Levi froze and shot her a cold glare when he abruptly froze and nearly spilled some of his tea.
“He died a couple of weeks after you were recruited actually.” She continued in a matter of fact tone. “According to what I have here, he and all of his squad were killed by titans...you being the only survivor.”
Silently sipping his tea, Levi’s natural frown deepened considerably.
“Did you find out anything about f/n?”
“Not much I’m afraid.” Shaking her head, Hanji handed him another pile of papers. “Just a few family details from the year 845 when a new type of titan appeared and broke through the gate of her mother’s home town of Shiganshina.”
Taking the printed sheets from her, he sipped his tea and turned his attention to them.
“It’s all extremely fascinating really.” Said Hanji, picking up her coffee cup and slowly raising it to her mouth. “Humanity was ruled over for nearly a century by these “titans.” Did you know, we were actually protected from them by three enormous walls? They no longer exist now of course, but their remains are actually quite the hotspot for tourists and historians.”
“Seems her parents lived in Shiganshina up until the time of this invasion.” Commented Levi, furrowing his brows and continuing to read from the sheet. “After Shiganshina fell, they moved to Karanese and remained there until 847.”
“That was the year f/n died.” Sighed Hanji sorrowfully, lowering her head and staring down at her coffee. “They attended her funeral and moved to Stohess a few weeks later, unfortunately that was all the information I could dig up on her at the moment.”
“Alright then.” Nodded Levi, straightening the papers he was holding and focusing on her with an intent stare. “So we still have no way of knowing how old she was when we met in our previous life?”
“I’m sorry Levi.”
Clicking his tongue thoughtfully, the short manager took another sip of his tea.
It would seem that getting to the root of this matter was going to be a lot harder than he had first anticipated.
“So f/n.” Smirked Luke, wrapping an arm around your shoulder and pulling you into his side as your little group walked towards the break room. “How was your weekend?”
“It was good thanks.” You giggled knowingly. “What about yours?”
“Oh you know...same old, same old.” He shrugged. “Anyway enough about me, I want to hear how meeting Mr Ackerman’s mother went.”
“Does she approve of you dating her son?” Inquired Ilse, notebook and pen already in hand ready to record your conversation. “I hope she didn’t ask you anything too embarrassing or personal.”
“No, but I’m afraid you two might!” You gasped, raising an eyebrow at Nickolas when he tried and failed to hold back a snort of amusement.
“She didn’t approve of you?” Frowned Ilse, hazel eyes steadily boring into you. “Why not? Did she give you a reason? Does this mean you'll be breaking up with him?”
“Eh? Where did that come from?”
“You just said she didn’t approve of you and Mr Ackerman dating.”
“Wait, what?” Blinking in confusion, you untangled Luke’s arm from your shoulder and followed her into the break room. “No, I meant she didn’t ask me any embarrassing questions, but I’m a little worried you and Luke might!”
“Oh I see.” Mused Ilse, clicking her pen and starting to scribble in her notebook. “So she did approve of you then?”
“Yes, we had a really nice chat actually.”
“Ah good, you’re all here.”
All eyes turned towards the source of the female voice from the kitchen area, your sight falling upon Nanaba who was stood leaning against the worktop.
“Sit yourselves down, I’ve got a little treat for you all.”
“What’s happening Nanaba?” You asked, taking a seat on one of the comfy leather chairs.
“Yeah what’s the occasion?”
“Today I had a meeting with Lauda, which meant I was in an hour early. He wanted to see all the team managers about the projected contract target report results from last month.” A knowing glint shining in her icy blue eyes, she folded her arms and confidently raising her head. “Guess who came top of the pile?”
Exchanging glances with your colleagues, the sudden silence of the room was broken only by the sound of the kettle bubbling on the side, followed closely by the switch flicking off when it reached boiling point.
“Could you give us a clue?” Teased Luke.
“We surpassed our target by three contracts.” Said Nanaba proudly. “So on my way back here, I took a little detour to the canteen and brought you all a little something to say well done.”
Turning her back to your group and opening the fridge door, she pulled out a plain white cardboard box.
“So who wants some cake?”
“Can I go and pretend to offer some to Flagon if I say yes?” Asked Luke, a smirk once again tugging at his lips. "I've always wanted to rub a nice big fat creamy cake into the smug mush of his!"
“No you can’t!” Snapped Nanaba, kicking the fridge door closed and walking towards the table, placing the box down on it. “I paid good money for this!”
“Too bad, I wish I could’ve seen the look on his face when he got knocked off the top spot for a second month running!”
“Me too.” You giggled, soon growing serious when you spoke again. “Do you think that's why he was glaring at me earlier then?”
Just like that, the atmosphere in the break room changed.
Gone were the confident smiles of your colleagues, quickly replaced by worried frowns of concern being directed towards you instead.
“Has he been harrassing you f/n?” Questioned Nanaba, her stern tone of voice cutting through the tenseness of the air like a knife.
“Well, not as such no...but…” Swallowing hard, you forced yourself to meet her gaze. “I do keep catching him watching me rather intently, it’s actually pretty unnerving.”
“Do you want to file a complaint?”
“You should definitely consider it.” Advised Nickolas. “I've noticed that he’s been giving you intimidating looks since you started dating Mr Ackerman.”
“Longer than that.” Interjected Ilse, flicking through the pages of her notebook. “He actually started his little staring campaign when she rejected his offer to go to the carnival with him last month.”
“F/n is this true?”
Exhaling heavily, you nodded, not daring to look anyone in the eye.
“Yeah but, to be honest...I’ve just been doing my best to ignore him since he’s not really spoken to me much. Plus Levi...erm, I mean Mr Ackerman said if he gave me any hassle, I was to tell him and he would deal with it.”
“I see.” Said Nanaba, carefully contemplating your response. “In that case, I’ll leave the decision up to you. However as your team manager, I strongly recommend filing an official complaint with human resources.”
“Speaking of Mr Ackerman.” Said Ilse, turning to face you and leaning forward. “You still haven’t finished telling us how meeting his mother went at the weekend.”
“Oh, that’s right!” Gasped Luke, mirroring her actions and shuffling closer to you. “All you’ve told us so far is that his mother approves of you.”
“I...erm…” Eyes darting left and right like a rabbit caught between two hungry foxes, you quickly turned your attention to the empty cups next to the kettle on the worktop a few feet away. “Hey Nanaba, how about I give you a hand with the drinks and slicing up that cake?”
“No need.” She smiled, a barely audible giggle with a mischievous edge to it leaving her lips. “You lot stay sat down, I’ll bring everything over.”
“Wow we are getting the royal treatment!” Said Luke, his hazel eyes still intently focused on you. “So f/n, where were we?”
Shaking your head in defeat, you sank back into your chair as the interrogation of your weekend activities resumed.
Chapter 19: Interrogations and Revelations
“You’re bullshitting us!” Laughed Luke, folding his arms and raising a disbelieving eyebrow in your direction. “Come on, there’s no way that’s true!”
Giggling around a mouthful of cake, you swallowed it down and brushed the crumbs from your lips before replying.
“I swear to you, as real as I’m sitting here now, that’s exactly what happened!”
“Mr Ackerman’s mother actually assaulted her brother in front of you?”
“I’d hardly call it assault.” You smirked, reaching for your cup of tea. “She just kinda...whipped him around the head with a tea cloth and scolded him for calling Levi a runt.”
“She certainly sounds like the over protective type.” Looking up from scribbling in her notebook, Ilse finished her last bite of cake and turned to look at you. “Did she show any violent tendencies towards you at all?”
“No she was really nice to me. Hell, she even politely excused herself from the table before hitting Kenny!”
“Now I know you’re lying!”
“Why don’t you go ask Levi yourself?” You challenged, a devious smirk tugging at your lips.
Breath catching in her throat, Ilse blinked rapidly, opening and closing her mouth but not actually bringing forth any sound that could pass itself off as speaking...save for an “erm” or “ah.”
“Well at least we now know where Mr Ackerman gets his temper from now.” Mused Nanaba, leaning forward to pick up her now empty plate and cup “So she approves of the two of you dating then?”
“Yeah she seemed to.” You nodded. “Like I said, we had a really good chat...she also makes a wicked hot pot, damn I could eat that again!”
“So do you think you’ll be getting invited round again at some point?” Asked Ilse, finally managing to find her voice and returning her attention to her notebook.
“Probably.” You shrugged. “She did say it was nice meeting me, so I guess that swings things in my favour.”
“What about the uncle, did you get on well with him?”
“I didn’t really speak to him.” You admitted, furrowing your brows. “If I’m being honest...he’s a bit of a twat!”
“F/n L/n!” Gasped Luke, his hazel eyes widening in shock at your words. “Your language is atrocious!”
“Well he was!” You protested. “He didn’t believe that I existed for a start, he actually said that he thought Levi had just brought some random woman in off the streets pretending to me!”
“You’re kidding?” Ilse’s pen moved across the page of her notebook so fast she almost ripped it in half. “What did you say?”
“What was I supposed to say?” You snorted, frowning at the torn paper she was still scribbling on. “Not that I could say anything anyway, Kuchel started having a go at him about it!”
“It’s no wonder she decided to give him a slap with the tea cloth then, especially if he’s going to make comments like that!” Said Nanaba. “Anyway, break time is over. F/n, I need a word with you so can you help me clear everything away?”
“Um, yeah sure.”
“The rest of you get back to work.”
“Will do Nanaba.” Nodded Nickolas, affording you a small knowing smile before leaving the break room, a gesture which you found rather uncomfortable...especially when you had a feeling you already knew what she wanted to speak to you about.
Closing her notebook and putting it back into her pocket, Ilse also stood up and followed Luke out of the room.
Sparing you a backward glance, they nodded and closed the door, leaving you alone with Nanaba.
Swallowing hard, you slowly turned back to face the blonde woman and nervously met her icy gaze.
“Bring me those cups and plates please.”
Doing as you were asked, you remained silent and waited for her to continue. However you made a point of bracing yourself for the inevitable conversation that was bound to follow.
“Listen f/n.” Said Nanaba softly, taking the pots from you and placing them in the sink. “I can’t force you to file a complaint against Flagon for the way he keeps trying to intimidate you, but as your team manager...I can do it on your behalf.”
“If you’re scared of repercussions, don’t be. Employee confidentiality will ensure that he has no way of accessing information regarding who reported him, meaning any allegations he makes about it being you can be dismissed.”
Furrowing your brows, you leaned back against the worktop and folded your arms.
“What would happen if Le-Mr Ackerman dealt with him?” You inquired, switching back to referring to the raven haired male in a more formal manner since the topic of conversation was now work related.
Sighing and running the hot water tap, Nanaba pursed her lips thoughtfully.
“I’d imagine he would take it up with Human Resources himself...most likely after giving Flagon a verbal beating first.”
“It’s not that I don’t trust you Nanaba.” You said hastily, earning you a raised eyebrow from the other woman. “I do, by the way, I just want to make that clear...but, well with Mr Ackerman being a deputy manager, I thought it might be better if he dealt with it.”
Affording you a small smile, Nanaba nodded and picked up the tea cloth, handing it over to you.
“I understand. However, you should be made aware that because of your closeness to Mr Ackerman, it could be misinterpreted as you trying to influence him by making false allegations.”
“What?” The panic rose in your voice before you could stop it. “I would never do that! What about Director Hanji? She’s actually seen Flagon glaring at me across the room a few times.”
“He would most likely use the excuse that you and Mr Ackerman are romantically involved as an advantage to get the complaint overturned. He could very well do the same with Hanji, since she is a family friend and knows you personally.” She explained, rinsing the first cup and placing it on the draining board. “This is the reason I offered to file the complaint for you. As your team manager, I’m well within my rights to raise grievances anyone under my jurisdiction has with other members of staff, regardless of their position I might add, that I believe are trying to cause trouble.”
“I appreciate the offer Nanaba, I really do...but...” You smiled weakly. “I’d rather not give him the satisfaction of thinking he’s getting to me. The way I see it, if I don’t rise to the bait, he’ll get bored and leave me alone.”
“It’s possible.” She sighed, concentrating on washing the cup currently in her hand. “Although there is the chance he could start resorting to other methods that would be harder to ignore.”
“Then I’ll definitely file a complaint if it comes to that.” You said confidently, looking her in the eye when she turned her head to glance at you. “For now though, I’d rather not.”
“If that’s your decision, then I’ll respect it.” Nodded Nanaba, turning her attention back to the sink. However it was hard not to miss the disappointed tone of voice with which she spoke. “I shall be keeping a closer eye on you in the meantime, call it an insurance policy.”
“Good. Now let’s get on with tidying up before the next team comes in for their break. Just leave the cups out, don’t worry about putting them away.”
Reaching for the next cup, you gave it a thorough wipe with the tea cloth before placing it on the worktop near the kettle, silently contemplating Nanaba’s advice.
Yes you’d told Levi that you would let him know if Flagon tried to intimidate and bully you, but it was common knowledge among the client consultants that you and the raven haired manager were dating. However after hearing things from an outsider’s perspective, it certainly made sense to try and not involve Levi if you wanted to be taken seriously if it came down to you making a complaint to Human Resources.
Shaking your head, you tried to push the matter to the back of your mind.
One thing was clear in your mind, that Flagon was acting the way he was out of jealousy because of you rejecting his offer of going to Trost Spring Carnival together.
Still, something still didn’t sit quite right with you, especially given that he was starting to take what could be considered a rather unhealthy interest in your relationship with Levi.
Perhaps you were reading too much into his childish attitude of trying to death glare you into submission and sulking like a petulant toddler throwing a tantrum because you were happy with his rival.
Or was there indeed a more sinister motive for his current attitude towards you?
Picking up the pile of freshly photocopied papers from the tray, Hanji quickly glanced over them to make sure they were all in order and nodded.
“Here’s your copy of everything I found over the weekend.” She said, returning to her desk and handing Levi the stack of documents. “Our break is nearly over, so is there anything else you wanted to ask me?”
“Yeah.” He replied bluntly. “Has f/n ever said anything to you about believing in reincarnation or displayed any signs she was having flashbacks?”
Blinking rapidly, it was clear that Hanji was taken back by his question. Still, she had figured it would only be a matter of time before he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“When I have a flashback, everything around me starts to blur.” Explained Levi, his brows furrowing as he tried to think of how best to explain what happened. “If there are people talking, their voices start to grow faint. It’s kind of like someone’s holding my head underwater, after that I can see everything in my mind as clear as seeing it with my own eyes.”
“So you sort of space out and become unresponsive?”
“Yeah, some shit like that.”
“Sorry Sweetie, I’ve never seen her act like that around me.” Humming thoughtfully, she pushed her glasses further up her nose with her index finger. “Although, when I asked her if she believed in reincarnation, she did say that she would need to see concrete evidence of its existence.”
“Are you stupid Four Eyes? We have the proof right here!” Snorted the short manager, holding up the photocopied documents. “Has that coffee killed off your brain cells?”
“Levi, you know it’s not that simple.” Sighed Hanji, the disappointment in her voice all too evident to his ears. “We don’t know how old she was when she met you in her previous life. Until we manage to find that information, I think it would be best to keep my research to ourselves.”
“So how long am I supposed to wait?”
“I know it’s not what you want to hear, but acting too rashly could seriously jeopardize your relationship with her. You need to be patient.” Leaning forward and resting her arms on the desk, her puppy brown eyes narrowed slightly when she met Levi’s gaze. “Trust me, it’s for the best.”
“In the meantime, I’ll do my best to try and find out more information about f/n. If you have any more flashbacks, let me know as soon as possible...there is something I find unusual about them though.”
Raising an eyebrow, Levi’s silent glare gave a clear indication that she was to continue talking.
“From what I can gather from the dialogue, they seem to happen in chronological order.”
“Is that important?”
“I’m not entirely sure at the moment.” She mused, cupping her chin in her left hand and leaning back in her seat. Lips pursed in thought, she furrowed her brows. “When I have flashbacks, they usually appear at random time intervals. I must do more research into this, but my hypothesis is that I may have a soulmate out there that I’m not aware of.”
“How the hell does that work?” Questioned Levi, checking the wall mounted clock and realizing that he only had five minutes before he needed to return to his own office.
“I’m not sure, but let’s say there are people out there with more than one soulmate. A prime example would be if say, oh I don’t know...Person A was in love with Person B and they were married, but one of them died, are you with me so far?”
“I think I see where this is going.” He nodded, folding his arms and sitting back in his seat.
“So the surviving soulmate could have moved on and found love with someone else, becoming Person C’s soulmate.”
“Tch, sounds like it would be one hell of a fucked up love triangle if all three were reincarnated in the same life and they all found each other again.”
“Indeed, you know the more I think about it...the more I believe this could be the case with me!” Mused the bespectacled director. “I started having random flashbacks to my previous life when I turned eighteen, yet none of them ever conveyed me having strong feelings of love for any one person I encountered during that lifetime.”
“Research yourself by all means, makes no difference to me.” Shrugged Levi, standing from his seat and picking up the pile of documents Hanji had photocopied for him. “Just don’t let it interfere with helping me find out more about f/n’s past life, I need to know how old she was when we first met.”
“I promise I will do my best to get that answer for you, just bear with me okay?” Said Hanji sincerely, watching him make his way towards the door. “It may take a little time, but we will get there in the end.”
Smiling as the door closed and she was left alone, Hanji’s smile faded.
Turning her attention to her own copy of the historical papers, she frowned and concentrated hard, almost like she was hoping that she could somehow trigger a flashback that would give her the answer she sought.
Unfortunately however, this didn’t happen…
Returning to his own office, Levi sat down and frowned at the documents in his hand.
It annoyed him greatly that despite finding out a few things about himself, he still had little to no information about you apart from what he had seen in his memories.
Sure Hanji had confirmed the year that you died, but your age when you met was still shrouded in mystery.
It was already recorded in some of the earlier research she’d done that you had joined the Survey Corps at the age of sixteen, but there had been no mention of which year that had happened. The only thing Levi could confirm from his memories was that you were most likely only in your early twenties when you died, however this still didn’t help him learn how old you were when the two of you first met.
Perhaps there was something Hanji had missed while carrying out her research? Despite her intelligence, she was only human and it was entirely possible that she may have passed over some small details that could reveal the missing information he was looking for.
“Tch damnit.” He grunted, slapping the papers down onto his desk in frustration. “There has to be some way of finding out how old she was when I met her.”
Deciding there was nothing he could do about it at the moment, he shook his head and turned his attention to the computer monitor.
For now, it was probably best to concentrate on his work and try to speak to Hanji in private when work finished for the day, however a part of him couldn’t help but feel slightly suspicious where Flagon was concerned….especially now he was in possession of evidence that the man was also a reincarnated soldier Levi had known in his past life.
Swallowing hard and casting a dark glare to the papers on his desk, Levi’s steel grey eyes narrowed dangerously as a terrifying new mystery presented itself to him…
Had Flagon also known you in his past life and did he possess memories that linked him to you?
Clicking your tongue thoughtfully, you scanned over the finished letter currently displayed on your monitor and furrowed your brows.
After spending nearly twenty frustrating minutes on the phone to a very pushy client, you had finally managed to edit the contract ready to print and mail out to them that afternoon, much to your relief.
Leaving your desk, you made your way to the printing station, muttering under your breath about the client being “too pushy for their own good”...much to the amusement of Ilse and Luke.
Reaching for the paper currently in the tray, you were quickly stopped by a rather irritated voice behind you, causing you to tense up in fear.
“I believe that is mine.”
Wincing at the painfully familiar tone, you slowly turned around and raised your hands in surrender, opting to remain as polite as possible and not provoke a negative reaction.
“Sorry, I didn’t think anyone else was printing anything at the moment.”
“Yes well, they are.” Sneered Flagon, hazel eyes glaring into yours with a burning intensity.
“Erm, have I done something to offend you?” You inquired nervously, earning you a raised eyebrow from the arrogant team manager when he reached for his work. “It’s just that...you seem to keep staring at me like I have and...”
“Feeling guilty about something are you f/n?”
“I hear you’ve met Levi’s mother.”
Breath catching in your throat, your jaw twitched involuntarily at Flagon’s sudden change of subject and interest in what had happened over the weekend.
He hadn’t actually spoken to you since his confrontation with Levi on the stairs after you and the short manager went on your first date, although that hadn’t stopped him from glaring at you across the room every chance he got.
“Hmph, so I take it things are getting serious between the two of you then?”
“I guess so.” You mused, averting your gaze.
“You don’t sound so sure.”
It was hard not to miss the snidiness in Flagon’s tone upon hearing your reply, however you remained calm and composed.
The last thing you wanted to do was let him see that his attempt at making conversation was putting you on edge, especially since you now found yourself wondering what business it was of his how you and Levi were progressing in your relationship.
“It’s still early days.” You finally answered quietly, shrugging your shoulders to try and deflect any further questions.
Inhaling deeply, Flagon held his breath for a moment before letting it out and walking away, leaving you stood alone by the printer in a state of confusion.
“Hey f/n, are you okay?”
“Huh?” Shaking your head to bring your mind back to the present, you looked to your right and were met with the concerned pale blue eyes of one of your colleagues.
“What did he want?” Asked Nickolas, nodding in the direction of the blonde male, who had now returned to his desk and was currently signing the document he had just printed.
“Nothing important.” You shrugged nonchalantly. “Just being his usual arrogant self.”
“I still say you need to file a complaint about the way he glares at you.” Said Nickolas sternly. “It’s intimidation and you shouldn’t put up with it.”
“Thanks for your concern, but I’ll be okay.” Flashing him a small smile, you glanced over at the printer and noticed that there was a fresh sheet of paper on the tray. “Anyway, I better get back to work. I promised a rather pushy client I’d have this ready to be sent out by lunchtime.”
“Yeah I have a few to sort out myself.” He nodded, looking at the machine when it started flashing to indicate it was in the process of printing another document. “I’ll speak to you later.”
Walking back to your desk, you risked a cautious glance across the room to where Flagon’s team worked.
Thankfully he seemed to be more interested in his work than glaring at you, for now at least anyway.
However you once again found yourself wondering if your suspicions about his motives for being so intimidating towards you did indeed run deeper than a simple jealousy of your closeness to Levi.
Checking the clock displayed on the right hand side of the taskbar of his computer monitor, Flagon frowned upon noticing it was now noon.
“Alright you lot, time for lunch.” He called to his team members, nodding in the direction of the corridor leading past the deputy management offices towards the canteen.
Ignoring the chatter of the other client consultants logging out of their computers and making their way across the area, his hazel eyes narrowed as he turned his attention towards your desk on the opposite side of the room.
A low growl rumbled in the pit of his throat when you stood up and straightened your shirt, turning to smile at Luke when he made a teasing remark about you having “a romantic lunch for two with Mr Ackerman.”
For some reason he couldn’t quite put his finger on, something about you irritated him.
Naturally, this wasn’t helped by the fact that you were growing close to his long term rival within the company. Even the way you were so friendly with the rest of the client consultants, yet cagey and tense around him got on his nerves.
He was well aware that he wasn’t exactly popular, so did that mean everyone else had dripped poison in your ear to make sure you were firmly against him from the offset?
Continuing to watch as you walked towards the double doors leading to the deputy management offices until you were no longer in sight, he huffed in annoyance and refocused his attention on his computer.
Blinking once upon hearing his name, the blonde male looked up to find one of the deputy managers stood in front of his desk.
“Working through lunch today?”
“Yeah, last minute decision.” He replied. “What can I do for you Darius?”
Nodding thoughtfully, Darius Walbrunn glanced down to the large pile of manilla folders in his hands before holding one out.
“I wondered if you could do me a favour, there’s a director’s meeting this afternoon and I need to give this to Hanji. Thing is, I need to go and have a quick word with Human Resources downstairs, so is there any chance you could give these to her for me? I’d really appreciate it.”
“Yeah sure, she’s bound to pass through at some point.”
“Thanks Flagon, I owe you one.”
Waving the other man away, the blonde team manager placed the folder down on his desk.
However before he could return to his current task, he couldn’t help but notice a pair of icy blue eyes glaring in his direction.
Slowly but purposefully striding past his desk, Nanaba’s gaze locked with Flagon’s for a brief moment. Brows furrowing, she lowered her head slightly in what could be considered a warning gesture before turning away and disappearing through the double doors.
“Hmph, what’s her problem?” He muttered to himself, looking around the now empty client consultant area.
Shrugging nonchalantly, he decided to return to his task while it was quiet.
Roughly thirty minutes passed and still there was no sign of Director Hanji.
Sighing deeply, Flagon glanced over at the manilla folder on the edge of his desk and tutted.
“May as well take this up to her.” He grumbled, logging out of his computer and standing from his seat.
Picking up the folder, he walked towards the double doors leading to the stairs and made his way up to the third floor.
As expected, the corridor leading to the boardroom was completely silent. All the doors were closed and it was most likely safe to assume that everyone had already left for lunch.
Stopping outside Hanji’s office, he raised a curious eyebrow when he noticed that the door leading into the reception area was open, yet Moblit was nowhere to be found. Perhaps he had been in a rush to get away before Hanji bombarded him with more work and simply forgot to close it? The man was normally never slack in his duties, so it was the only explanation that made sense.
Shrugging nonchalantly and making his way inside, he halted at the inner door leading to Hanji’s private office and knocked on the door, waiting for a response.
Several moments passed with no reply, so Flagon knocked again.
Once more, there was no call of “come in” from the other side.
“He can't be in the canteen, that computer is still logged in.” He mused, furrowing his brows. "Bathroom break maybe?"
Cautiously trying the door handle, Flagon was surprised to find it give with ease and swing open.
Of course there were an infinite number of reasons why this could have happened.
They could’ve been working through lunch and decided to pop down to the canteen to bring some food up to eat while they worked, or Hanji could’ve gone out alone and Moblit was somewhere else getting stationary supplies or delivering paperwork? Surely he wouldn't have left the computer logged in if he wasn't planning on returning to it within a few minutes.
“To hell with it, I’ll just leave this on her desk.”
Stepping into the office, Flagon walked over towards the cluttered work surface and frowned, perhaps leaving it on Moblit’s desk would be a better idea?
Tutting in disgust at how someone holding an important position within the business could have such a messy approach to their work, the blonde male was about to walk away when a large black folder titled “Reincarnation Research” caught his attention.
“Hmm, this looks interesting.” He muttered, quickly checking his no one was around before reaching for the folder and picking it up. “I didn’t know she believed in…”
Eyes widening in shock when he opened it and noticed the printed pages contained within, Flagon dropped the paperwork he had been carrying and stared at the picture above the first article.
Chapter 20: Mutual Feelings
Survey Corps Headquarters
It was a day no one could have predicted, the walls that had stood for a century to keep humanity safe from the titans had been breached.
The outer gate of the Shiganshina District, the southernmost territory of Wall Maria had been destroyed by a titan larger than any that had ever seen before. Not only that, but another possessing formidable strength that none could match had also succeeded in destroying the inner gate.
The death toll was already too high to imagine and a large scale operation to evacuate not only the breached district, but the surrounding areas had begun in earnest.
Having not long returned from an expedition beyond the confines of Wall Maria, the Survey Corps found their time to rest and recuperate abruptly cut short as they were called into action once more…
“Shiganshina?” Gasped f/n, her e/c eyes widening in panic. “How is that possible, we just came through there less than two hours ago, everything was fine!”
“Tch, I don’t know what the Hell is going on.” Replied Levi bluntly, quickly saddling his horse and checking his equipment. “The Garrison are currently trying to evacuate everyone from the district and surrounding villages, our job is assist them by culling the titan’s numbers.”
“Levi...my...my parents!” As much as she didn’t want to think about it, the idea that her home town was now a nest of titans terrified f/n beyond all belief. “Their house is only a short distance from the inner gate! What if…”
“Hey!” Snapped the raven haired captain, halting what he was doing and turning to face her. “Getting worked up over this isn’t going to help anyone. Calm down and concentrate on preparing to move out.”
Breath catching in her throat, f/n froze.
Even when issuing her with orders, Levi never usually addressed her in such a harsh tone. However the current situation was about as far from a run of the mill day for the Survey Corps as it was possible to be.
“You’re worried about your parents, it’s only natural that you feel that way.” He said softly, meeting her gaze. “Right now though, we have to concentrate on getting to the evacuation route and assisting the Garrison. We’re short on soldiers as it is, we can’t afford to screw this up because you’re letting your emotions rule your mind.”
“I know.” She sighed, looking away and continuing to prepare her own horse as the commotion around her from the other scouts doing the same grew louder. “It’s just that...I never thought that there would come a day when the titans managed to break through the walls. They’ve stood unbreached for over a century!”
She didn’t even need to turn her head to know that many of the panicked orders being barked out by the squad leaders were to hurry along those helping the wounded into carts so they could be evacuated.
Even then, some able bodied soldiers who were still able to fight would need to be taken away from the frontlines to drive the carts, meaning their already dwindling numbers would be cut down even further.
“No one could’ve predicted it.” Replied Levi, mounting his horse and gently digging his heels into its ribs, encouraging it to move off. “Finish checking your equipment and saddle up. Concentrate on the mission and after the evacuation is complete, I’ll help you find out where your parents are.”
“Thanks Levi.” Affording him a small smile, f/n hauling herself up onto her horse and clicked her tongue, steering the animal towards him.
Leaning across the small gap between them, she reached out and rested her hand on the back of his neck, pulling him in close and resting her forehead against his.
“Watch your back out there.”
“Yeah, you too.” He muttered, raising a hand to her chin and gently cupping it as he placed a lingering kiss on her lips…
Shaking his head and blinking rapidly, Levi frowned at the sound of someone knocking on his office door caused him to snap back to reality.
“Tch, damnit.” He muttered, glancing at the wall mounted clock and seeing that it was just past noon.
The low rumble of chatter from the other members of staff passing by on their way to the canteen filtered through the thick wood, followed closely by him suddenly remembering someone knocking on it a few moments prior.
“Come in.” He called, logging out of his computer as the door opened.
“Hey, wasn’t sure if you’d already left so I thought I’d check.” Came a shy female voice.
“I’m nearly ready.” He replied, looking up to face you.
Nodding and closing the door behind you, a small smile adorned your face while you watched him retrieve his jacket and straighten his tie.
“Oh, you’ll be pleased to hear that Hanji won’t be gatecrashing today. She’s going out for lunch with Nanaba.”
Nervously biting your lower lip and dragging it back between your teeth, your e/c eyes darted left and right before finally settling on the short male again.
“Can we talk...I mean, about us.”
Head jerking up, he stared at you with a burning intensity that made you feel like he was looking right through you.
“Oh, it’s nothing bad, I promise!” You gasped, holding your hands up in surrender. “It’s something that’s been playing on my mind over the weekend.”
“Thanks and I’m sorry if I scared you just then.” You giggled, trying to put him at ease. “It really wasn’t my intention.”
“Tch, it’s fine.” He snorted, opening the door and gesturing for you to leave. “If we’re going to talk about our relationship, I want to do it in private. We’ll get some lunch and eat in here.”
“Okay. I think I’d prefer that actually.”
Leaving the office and locking the door behind him, Levi couldn’t help but wonder what it was you were so keen to talk to him about...although if he was being completely honest with himself, part of him was desperately hoping that it was to do with the flashbacks he kept experiencing.
“Shit!” Gasped Flagon, quickly flicking through the folder containing Hanji’s reincarnation research. “It’s her! It...it’s actually her, I don’t believe it!”
Reaching into his trouser pocket for his phone, he opened the camera application and put the documents on the desk, quickly taking a photograph of the web address at the top of the first page so he could conduct his own research at home.
Suddenly the sound of footsteps approaching from the corridor made Flagon aware that he hadn’t closed Hanji’s office door.
“Damnit!” He cursed, hastily straightening the papers and putting them back into the folder where he found them.
Stuffing his phone back into his pocket, he looked around the office to make sure everything was left as he found it before realizing he had dropped the folder he was meant to deliver to the bespectacled director.
Bending to retrieve it, his gaze was soon pulled back towards the door when Moblit appeared.
Thankfully, because he was busy concentrating on looking through the pile of paperwork he was carrying, he didn’t notice Flagon straight away. So naturally, this provided him with enough time to check the folder and cautiously lean forward to place it on the desk before he was finally spotted.
“Hey!” Called Moblit, brows furrowing and causing a rather out of place frown to appear on his features. “What are you doing in Director Hanji’s office?”
“Sorry, I was just bringing some paperwork from Darius.” Explained Flagon, halting mid reach and straightening himself up, presenting the folder to the other male. “I thought it would be okay to leave them on her desk since there was no one around and the door was unlocked.”
“In the event that the director is not available, all paperwork for is to be left on my desk.” Said Moblit in a tone that didn’t suit his usually nervous disposition. “You would do well to remember that in future.”
“I’ll deal with that.” Reaching out, Moblit took the item from him and continued to stare at him in disapprovingly. “Was there anything else?”
“No, that was all.”
“Then you may leave.”
Skulking out of the office, Flagon glanced back in time to see the personal assistant remove a key from his pocket, quickly locking Hanji’s office door and checking it a moment later.
“That was close.” He muttered, making his way out of the reception area and back along the corridor. “Considering that guy’s usually a quivering wreck when the director is around, he sure knows how to grow a pair when she isn’t!”
Stopping at the doors leading to the stairs, he removed his phone from his pocket and opened up the photograph folder, selecting the most recent one he had taken and staring hard at it.
He may not have managed to get a proper look at the documentation Hanji had already printed thanks to Moblit’s interruption, but at least he knew where to go now to find out the answers to the questions currently burned into his mind.
Returning to his office from the canteen, you and Levi sat down to have lunch.
“So what is it you wanted to talk about?” He asked, his natural frown deepening as he placed his tray down on the desk and removed his jacket, draping it over the back of his chair.
Despite trying to plan everything you wanted to say in your mind, you’d found yourself feeling extremely uncomfortable with how tense the raven haired male was after you voiced your need to speak to him about your current “relationship.”
His glare had been much more intimidating than usual, his tone of voice colder when addressing the canteen staff...in fact his entire attitude in general seemed to have changed.
“Well.” You started, watching him nervously. “This whole relationship thing is new territory for us both, so I was wondering how you see what we have at the moment?”
“What the fuck do you mean by that?”
“Okay, that could’ve been worded better.” Shaking your head and giggling, you felt a blush rising on your cheeks. “I guess what I’m trying to say is, are we just dating...or a little more serious than that?”
Raising a curious eyebrow, Levi stared at you for a moment before responding.
“I’m gonna need a little more to go on.”
Summoning your courage, you inhaled deeply and held it for a moment before letting it out.
“The best way I can put this is, are we still only dating or are we in a full on relationship now? I mean, you’ve met my dad and I’ve met your mum.”
Not entirely sure what the answer was going to be, you were certain that it wasn’t going to come any time soon, especially given the way Levi was currently staring at you.
In all honesty, you found it rather cute the way he had his head cocked to one side...almost like a cat that didn’t quite trust a human trying to entice it towards them.
“What would you call it?” He eventually asked, reaching for his tea.
“Hmm, I believe most people say that as soon as you meet the parents, it’s classed as being in a relationship.” You mused, picking up your panini and taking a bite. “You know, the whole boyfriend/girlfriend kind of thing.”
“Tch, I’m not that clueless about relationships f/n!”
“I never said you were!”
Sipping his tea and averting his gaze, Levi fell into a guilty silence.
He hadn’t mean to get agitated with you, but deep down, he couldn’t help feeling disappointed that the “chat” you wanted to have with him wasn’t about the subject he was currently mulling over in his brain.
There was nothing wrong with the current topic of conversation, since he had been wondering whether you wanted to move whatever the two of you had forward. However it wasn’t what he had been hoping to discuss at that moment in time and despite agreeing with Hanji not to mention anything about your intertwined past, he was finding his resolve being severely tested.
“What do you want?” He eventually muttered from behind his cup, eyes meeting yours as he spoke.
Now it was your turn to frown.
Wiping your hands and mouth on your napkin, you folded your arms and sat back in your seat.
“We’ve been on two actual dates outside of work?” You inquired, earning you a small nod. “Plus we constantly text each other, nearly always end up having lunch together and spend time talking face to face before and after our shifts…”
Allowing yourself to mentally wander off on a tangent, you pursed your lips and hummed contemplatively.
“You know it’s a good job Hanji isn’t here, we wouldn’t be able to have this conversation in peace and discuss it like adults otherwise.”
Snorting at the mention of the bespectacled director, Levi rolled his eyes.
He wasn’t afraid to admit that you were right though, trying to discuss such an important subject in front of her would be like walking into a den of hungry carnivores whilst wearing a suit made entirely out of meat!
“Do you want things to progress between us?”
The words left his mouth before he even had a chance to engage his brain. Watching you carefully, he cursed himself internally he while waited for your answer.
“Do you?” You countered, not entirely sure what else to say.
Naturally you’d grown used to Levi’s blunt attitude as you got to know him, but even so, he still managed to catch you off guard on the odd occasion...so it was only fair that you attempted to do the same to him in return.
“Yeah.” He nodded, his steel grey eyes steadily focusing on the hypnotic hue of your e/c orbs. “I do.”
A warm smile slowly started to spread across your face when you felt your heartbeat speed up within your chest, pounding against your rib cage and causing a fluttering feeling in the pit of your stomach.
“Good.” You said softly. “That’s what I want too.”
With only five minutes remaining before lunch ended, Flagon walked back into the client consultant area and returned to his desk.
There was no time to head over to the canteen and get something to eat, not that he had much of an appetite anyway after his little discovery in Hanji’s office and then being confronted by Moblit.
He had contemplated the option to buy something and then put it in the break room fridge for when he and his team had their fifteen minutes of downtime later that afternoon, but given how he was currently feeling, he decided against it.
Still struggling to get his head around what he had found, he logged back into his computer and stared at the loading screen.
Despite not having been caught red handed going through the director’s personal items, the fact that he had been found in her office without her permission was certain to backfire on him. He knew he was in the wrong, but he just hadn’t been able to help himself.
The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” certainly came to mind at that moment in time. Although nothing fatal had actually happened to him, it was definitely affecting him in a mental capacity.
Rubbing his hands over his eyes to try and calm his still shell shocked brain, he glanced over at the double doors leading to the deputy managers offices and canteen, raising a curious eyebrow as the first of the client consultants walked through on their way back to their desks.
Happy go lucky smiles, cheerful conversation and renewed energy levels practically radiated from them, it made Flagon want to vomit at how well everyone else seemed to be feeling compared to him. However he was soon snapped out of his currently foul mood when the computer pinged at him, indicating that he had a new email message.
Furrowing his brows, he clicked on the flashing envelope icon on the task bar and scanned through the lines of text, feeling the already tight knot in his gut twist violently…
Having taken your lunch trays back to the canteen, Levi waited patiently for you to buy some chocolate for your afternoon break.
As much as he had enjoyed not having Hanji interrupt his time with you, he felt an inexplicable urge to text her and inform her of the recent change in your relationship that had now taken place.
With the two of you agreeing that you were now an official couple and no longer just casually dating, he was keen to hear her opinion on whether it could be taken as an indication that you remembered the two of you being involved in your previous lives.
However, it was a feeling of dread that she would more than likely fly down the stairs and come barging into his office screaming like a banshee that put a stop to that idea.
‘Hanji’s right.’ He mused internally, staring down at his phone to check the time before putting it back onto his trouser pocket. ‘I should wait until she’s done more research into how old f/n was when we first met.’
Furthermore, there were other people he wanted to inform of his new relationship status before saying anything to her. Mainly his mother, she would be furious if she wasn’t the first to know!
Folding his arms, he furrowed his brows and continued to lean against the wall while you eyed up the confectionery tray near the till...suddenly becoming very aware that the world around him was starting to blur and distort as the air changed…
Garrison Regiment Headquarters, Trost District
It had been just over a month since the Shiganshina District had been breached by the titans forcing humanity to abandon Wall Maria.
With the evacuation being hailed as a success, despite the many thousands of fatalities, the Military Police and Garrison regiments were charged with housing and distributing rations to the refugees.
A task made harder by the fact that because so much land had been lost to the titans, a food shortage was inevitable and fighting among the populace was starting to become a much more frequent occurrence.
Far away from the tedious task of trying to maintain law and order taking over the warehouses to the eastern part of the city, the Survey Corps had set up a temporary base of operations in the Garrison’s Trost District headquarters while the injured were treated and replenishing of their lost supplies began in earnest.
It was almost midnight by the time Levi had finished checking on the injured soldiers in the infirmary, but there was one last task he had to do before returning to his temporary office for the night.
Making his way down the dim torch lit corridors, the only sounds to be heard were the snapping of the glowing orange flames and his own footsteps echoing off the stone floor.
Approaching the basement, he halted outside the heavyset wooden door when he heard muffled conversation coming from the other side.
“Finish this box and then get back to your dormitory before you pass out.” Ordered a gruff male voice.
Pushing the door open, Levi stepped into the large basement where the Garrison’s supply of weapons was stored and looked around.
Eventually, his sight fell upon a tall well built dark blonde male and a much shorter female with h/l h/c hair. Both were facing away from him, but he instantly knew who the two of them were.
“Oi f/n.” He called, causing the two soldiers to turn around and face him.
“Captain?” Asked the young scout, tightly gripping the clipboard and pen she was currently holding.
“I need a word.”
“Take as long as you need.” Said the taller soldier, slowly striding towards his raven haired comrade and nodding as he passed by.
Focusing his attention on f/n, Levi gestured for her to take a seat on one of the storage crates, joining her a moment later.
“What’s going on?” She inquired nervously, the fear shining in her eyes made all the more evident by the low torchlight.
“It’s about your parents.” He said softly, holding her gaze. “I’ve found them.”
“You did? Are they okay? Please tell me they both got out alive?”
“They’re both fine.”
Unable to stop the breathless sob that shook her body, f/n lunged forward and enveloped her lover in a tight embrace, burying her head into his shoulder.
“Tch, I told you I’d help you find them.” Snorted Levi, loosely wrapping an arm around her shoulders and resting his head against hers. “I didn’t manage to speak to them, but I’m sure you can find the time to do that yourself tomorrow.”
“Thank you! Thank you so much!”
“Alright then.” Carefully removing her arms from his neck, he stood up from the crate. “I’m heading back upstairs, make sure you actually get some sleep tonight you look like-mmph!”
Before he could finish his sentence, he found a pair of soft warm lips locking with his own as f/n grabbed his cravat and dragged him back towards her.
Naturally he relaxed after the initial shock of the movement and responded to the passionate clinch...only to find it interrupted by a low chuckle from the doorway behind him.
“When you’re quite finished.” Remarked Mike, raising his voice to make himself heard. “Some of us still have work to do!”
“Sorry Sir.” Giggled f/n, releasing the short captain and retrieving her clipboard. “I’ll get straight back to it.”
“I’ll speak to you tomorrow.” Said Levi, turning his back on her and walking away.
“Good night Lover Boy!” Snickered Mike, pursing his lips to mimic a kissing gesture.
“Fuck off you big ass tree!”
“Okay, I’m done.”
Glancing to his right, Levi raised an eyebrow when you appeared beside him.
Thankfully you didn’t seem to notice that he had spaced out, much to his relief.
“Alright, let’s go.”
“So now we’re actually in a relationship and not just dating…” Pausing mid sentence, you allowed yourself devilish giggle. “Who gets the honour of being squealed at by Hanji first? Or do you think we should tell her together?”
“Tch, I’ll leave that task to you.”
“Such a gentleman!” You sighed sarcastically, linking your arm with his. “She’s your friend too!”
Raising an eyebrow at you, Levi brought his hand up and flicked your nose, lips momentarily curling into a smirk when you scowled at him.
Usually the two of you refrained from public displays of affection in the workplace, agreeing it was better to maintain a professional attitude around your colleagues.
Although there were times when you indulged in holding hands and the odd quick kiss when you were leaving or knew for certain you were alone...however this wasn’t one of those occasions.
Failing to check your surroundings, you grabbed Levi’s tie and pulled him towards you.
Expecting a kiss, Levi instinctively pursed his lips, only to cringe a few seconds later when you leaned towards his right cheek and flicked your tongue over his skin.
“What the hell f/n?” He grunted, pushing you away and wiping his face on his jacket sleeve.
“You filthy brat!”
Opening your mouth to retort, a low chuckle from behind caused the two of you to jump around and face the source of the noise.
“Tch, how long have you been stood there, you big ass tree?”
Slamming a hand over your mouth, you failed to stop the snort that forced its way past your lips.
Director Mike Zacharius raised a thin eyebrow at the shorter male, regarding him curiously for a moment before turning his attention to you, an action that soon brought an end to your amusement.
“You should be more mindful of your surroundings f/n.” He said lowly, a small smirk tugging at his lips. “We’re all aware the two of you are dating, but try and act professionally when you’re in work.”
“Sorry Sir.” You muttered feebly, lowering your hand. “It won’t happen again.”
Nodding once, Mike walked away towards the double doors leading to the client consultant area and disappeared through them, once again leaving you alone with Levi.
“Oops.” You winced, trying not to giggle again.
“Come on.” Scoffed Levi, gesturing to the doors Mike had just left through. “I’ll walk you back to your desk.”
Following you back through to the client consultant area, he furrowed his brows, causing his natural frown to deepen.
Despite Hanji telling him to be cautious and not raise the subject of the bond the two of you had shared in the past, the way most of his flashbacks to that time kept mirroring his present existence was driving him mad...especially when the feelings he once had for you were growing stronger with every encounter.
Standing from his seat and straightening his jacket, Flagon glanced over in the direction of the double doors to his right.
Hazel eyes narrowing in anger, he growled lowly in the pit of his throat upon seeing you and Levi walk past him, completely oblivious to his presence.
The way you smiled when the raven haired manager escorted you back to your workstation and waited for you to sit down behind your computer before leaving served to fuel the already raging fire of hatred he felt towards the other male. Just why was it that every time Flagon seemed to get an opportunity in life, that damned midget was there to swoop in and snatch it away from him?
"Tch, what are you staring at?"
Blinking rapidly, he soon realized that his aforementioned nemesis was now stood in front of him.
Narrow grey eyes steadily boring into him, Levi raised an eyebrow and folded his arms.
Huffing in annoyance, Flagon refused to acknowledge him, brushing past and making his way towards the doors leading to the stairs.
Despite turning his back on the other male, he was well aware that he was still being watched right up until the very second he exited the client consultants work area.
"Little bastard!" He snarled under his breath, stomping up the stairs to the third floor and making his way along the corridor leading to the boardroom. "He thinks he's so smart, well one day I'll finally put him in his place!"
"I'd lose the attitude if I were you!"
Halting at the sound of another voice addressing him, Flagon's head whipped around to his right, causing him to lock gazes with a rather stern looking male sat behind a large desk in one of the reception areas.
"Not you Moblit." He muttered sheepishly, suddenly realizing he had arrived at his destination.
"Director Hanji is expecting you."
Swallowing hard, Flagon approached the office door and hesitantly knocked...
Staring down at the document in front of her Hanji frowned thoughtfully and pursed her lips.
Lifting her head slightly when she heard voices filtering through the thick wood of her office door, she carefully placed it into a folder and deposited in into the top drawer under her desk as three brief knocks indicated that her visitor was ready to be seen.
"Come in." She called, folding her arms and fixing her gaze on the door as it opened and a tall blonde male walked in, closing it behind him.
"Don't bother taking a seat." She instructed firmly, making it clear that she was in no mood for pleasantries. "This won't take long."
Waiting until he had stopped in front of her desk, she sighed before continuing.
"Moblit tells me he caught you in my office earlier, would you care to explain why?"
"I was merely delivering some paperwork from Darius." Said Flagon evenly, looking her straight in the eye. "Moblit wasn't around, so I..."
"Thought you would come in here without my permission?"
"I'm sorry Director, but I was told the documents were important and I didn't want them to be misplaced or lost because no one was around."
Despite having a particularly strong dislike of the team manager, Hanji was never one to act in an unprofessional manner towards a colleague...however given that she was suspicious that her personal items had been tampered with during her absence, she was willing to make an exception.
"All paperwork for me is to be left with Moblit." She snarled, struggling to keep her temper in check. "If he is unavailable, you leave it on his desk. Are we clear?"
"Yes Director." Replied Flagon, successfully managing to keep his voice steady despite the fact he was clenching his fists nervously, an action that didn't go unnoticed.
"You will receive a formal written warning for your conduct." She continued, her puppy brown eyes narrowing dangerously. "Which also extends towards your harassment towards Miss L/n."
"Do not play dumb with me!" Slamming her hands down on the desk, Hanji stood up with enough force to send her chair rolling backwards into the wall. "I've seen the way you glare at her and so have several other members of the client consultant teams. She may not have put in a formal complaint about you, but I certainly will if I catch you so much as breathing in her direction!"
Opening his mouth to respond to the accusation, Flagon's voice died in his throat when a hand was raised to silence him.
"I will say this only once. Stay...away...from...her!"
Slowly closing his mouth, the blonde male nodded compliantly.
"Good, now get out!"
Turning on his heels, Flagon exited the office and closed the door behind him, hastily making his way past Moblit and back out into the corridor.
"Shit!" He cursed, leaning against the wall and bringing his hands up to his face, running them back through his hair and looking up towards the ceiling.
While he wasn't bothered by a written warning being placed on his employment record for the next six months, he was completely unnerved by the fact that Hanji may have noticed her reincarnation research had been viewed without her prior permission.
Meaning that now he was planning to conduct his own investigation into her findings, he was going to have to tread much more carefully.
Chapter 21: Progress?
After informing your families that the two of you were now officially a couple, you and Levi soon found yourselves becoming the center of attention among your work colleagues...thanks mainly to a certain bespectacled brunette.
While your father and Kuchel had been quietly thrilled by this latest development and calmly offered their best wishes for the continued blossoming of your relationship, Hanji’s reaction had been far more...enthusiastic, to say the least. In fact if you were being completely honest with yourselves, you and Levi would probably have gone with the words explosive and over the top to describe it.
Jumping up and down like a mad toad, the ear piercing scream she emitted was so loud, it could rival a horde of banshees!
After that, her attempt at giving you a congratulatory hug was swiftly thwarted when Levi raised a hand to her head, and used her ponytail to turn her around and march her back to her office, demanding that Moblit calm her down before he was forced to take more drastic action.
Thankfully your colleagues were much calmer with their responses on the matter.
Nanaba and Nickolas simply expressed that they were happy for you, while Luke and Ilse predictably bombarded you with questions about how you were feeling and wanting details on how you and Levi came to agree to move things forward.
It came as no surprise that Kenny had simply shrugged and ruffled Levi’s hair, muttering the words “good on you Runt” before Kuchel hit him around the back of the head with an empty water bottle.
You knew full well that the two men weren’t exactly close, but the fact that Kenny seemed to be happy for Levi...even if he didn’t show much enthusiasm about it was good enough for you.
Naturally, there was one person you knew would never accept your happiness…
Despite not approaching you, Flagon brazenly displayed his disgust for your new relationship status to Levi and made it abundantly clear that he had no intention of even being civil about it.
He even had the nerve to issue a very thinly veiled threat towards the shorter male when he caught him walking back to his office alone…
“I wonder if she’ll stay with you when she discovers your dirty little secret.”
Before Levi could question what he was talking about, the blonde manager had scowled distastefully and made a hasty retreat, ignoring the angry orders to stop walking and explain himself.
In the end, Levi had simply put it down to jealousy and dismissed it as the other man trying to stir the shit pot.
Still, the suspicion about what the sly team manager was alluding to somehow remained fixed in the back of his mind, making its presence felt whenever the two of them crossed paths during work hours.
As the days turned to weeks, an entire month seemed to come and go.
Winter finally ended and the weather started to change.
The air became warmer, flowers started to bloom and a much higher volume of work started to flood in for the employees of Survey Corps.
Something that greatly annoyed the senior members of staff, since it now meant that the daily paperwork they usually dealt with during their shifts, was slowly starting to intrude on their personal lives…
Frowning worriedly, Kuchel gently shook her son’s shoulders in an effort to try and rouse him.
Having been up late into the night working on some files Erwin wanted preparing for a meeting on Monday morning, Levi’s insomnia saw fit to give him a break and resulted in him falling asleep at his desk.
“Oi Kuchel!” Yelled a voice from down the hall. “Get a move on, we’re going to be late!”
Quickly tip toeing to the ajar bedroom door, she poked her head around the small gap and called out to the approaching male.
“Keep your voice down!” She whisper shouted harshly. “Levi’s asleep!”
“So wake the little shit up! He said he wanted to come with you today remember?” Kenny huffed, entering the room and raising an eyebrow as his cold grey eyes observed his nephew.
Levi was sat up straight in his chair, legs slightly parted, arms folded and his chin resting on his chest.
“Put him on the bed will you...Please? Requested Kuchel, softening her tone to emphasize her concern. “You know he doesn’t normally sleep very well and it’s not fair to disturb him. Plus if we leave him like this, he’s going to hurt his neck and back.”
Stepping aside so her brother could pass, the raven haired woman watched him slip an arm under Levi’s knees, supporting his back with the other and slowly lift him out of his seat so he could carry him the three steps to the neatly made bed.
Unfortunately, Levi wasn’t a particularly heavy sleeper and Kenny was hardly being careful since he was supposed to be taking Kuchel to the hospital for an appointment in less than an hour and a half.
Groaning and twitching through his peaceful slumber, the sudden and unexpected movement caught Kenny of guard, causing him to step backwards and bump into the table and knock one of the items on it to onto the floor.
“Watch what you’re doing for goodness sake!” Gasped Kuchel, quickly bending to retrieve the folder and its now scattered contents, ignoring her brother’s muttered curses. “Damnit, now what order are these supposed to…”
Picking up the printed documents, her soft grey eyes widened upon seeing the first one.
Looking through the sheets beneath, her breath caught in her throat at the strange pictures displayed alongside the lengthy paragraphs of text.
“Hey, are we going now or what?”
Looking up, she saw her brother standing in front of her, his arms now empty as a hand reached out towards the papers she was holding.
“Levi can sort these when he wakes up.” He stated lowly, taking them from her and unceremoniously stuffing them back into the file before placing it back on the desk. “Now come on, we’re running late as it is.”
“Alright.” She sighed defeatedly, casting a worried glance towards the still sleeping figure now comfortably sprawled out on the bed before following Kenny out of the room.
“Levi, what’s going on with you?”
Feeling alert and ready for the day ahead, you walked into the dining room and took your seat at the table.
“You’re cheerful.” Noted your father pouring himself a cup of coffee and watching you reach for the cereal box. “Something to do with Levi by any chance?”
“He’s not replied to my texts yet.” You shrugged. “I’m actually meeting up with him tomorrow though, so I’ve arranged to go shopping with Hanji today.”
“Ah, girl’s day out.” He chuckled knowingly. “Just don’t go too wild!”
“I don’t intend to.” You smirked, reaching for the milk and noticing a furry brown head suddenly appear on your lap. “Hmm, now what could you possibly want?”
“What time are you meeting her?”
“I’m heading to her apartment at half past ten and then we’re going into the city from there.”
Nodding thoughtfully, your father watched you silently for a few moments as you gently scratched behind Sasha’s ears, making her lean her head into your touch and grumble contently.
“Well, I’m actually planning on going shopping myself.” He mused, stirring his coffee. “Someone I know has a birthday coming up and I need to sort out their present.”
“Is that your way of saying if I see you, I’m to avoid you?”
Shaking his head, your father chuckled again.
“Possibly, unless you want to ruin the surprise?”
“Hint duly noted!” You giggled, raising your hands and mock surrender, however your smile soon disappeared when you checked your phone and noticed the lack of a “Good Morning” text from a certain raven haired male.
There was no reason why he shouldn’t respond, after all, the two of you hadn’t fallen out.
Far from it, in fact you’d spent most of the previous night arranging to go out for a meal and see a film that weekend. Hence the reason for your shopping trip with Hanji, it was an ideal opportunity to pick up some new going out clothes and check the listings at the multiplex.
‘Maybe he’s left his phone on silent?’ You wondered, furrowing your brows. Although another reason for his lack of a response soon came to mind.
Kuchel was due at the hospital for another round of chemotherapy treatment that morning and Levi had mentioned in a previous message that he was planning to accompany her.
“Everything alright f/n?”
Head jerking up, you soon found yourself faced with a concerned expression from your father being directed at you.
“Yeah.” You smiled, hoping it didn’t look too false and give away the fact you weren’t being completely truthful. “I was just expecting a bombardment of texts from Hanji begging me to go over early, but it turns out my inbox is completely empty.”
“You sound disappointed.”
“Not really, more shocked than anything.”
Seemingly accepting of your lie, he turned back to his breakfast, leaving you to continue staring longingly at your phone.
Garrison Regiment Headquarters, Trost District.
Amidst the continuing chaos caused by the breach of Wall Maria five months ago, the Survey Corps had done all they could to help the Garrison and Military Police regiments get the refugees settled.
With their part in proceedings now complete, they were preparing to return to their old headquarters within the open countryside of Wall Rose.
“Is everything accounted for?” Questioned Commander Erwin, his icy blue eyes scanning over the list on the desk in front of him.
“Yes Sir.” Nodded Hanji, placing another small pile of papers down on the polished wooden surface for his inspection. “I believe that if everything continues at the current pace, we’ll remain on schedule to leave first thing tomorrow as planned.”
“Good work.” Leaning back in his seat, he raised his head and regarded the other three occupants of his temporary office. “Mike, I want you supervising the squads preparing to move those still recovering from injuries. Report back to me at sunset.”
The tall blonde silently nodded in acknowledgment, waiting patiently while Erwin turned his attention to the other two officers.
“Hanji, you and Levi will assist with loading our armoury supplies onto the transport wagons, a storage area has already been designated ready for us to simply hitch the horses up and move them out from when we depart. See to it that everything runs smoothly, there’s been enough chaos lately and I do not wish to add to it.”
“You’re all dismissed.”
Saluting and leaving the office, the three veterans went their separate ways.
While Levi was perfectly content to walk towards the courtyard in silence, it seemed that Hanji had other ideas.
“F/n is due back from Karanese District today isn’t she?” Questioned the bespectacled Section Commander.
“You know damn well she is Four Eyes!” Scoffed Levi, rolling his eyes in annoyance. “It was you who put in the request to grant her compassionate leave so she could help her parents travel there!”
“Well, I did owe her a favour...and she didn’t get to see them until a month after the breach, so I thought that helping them get away from all the madness currently happening here would be a bit of a morale boost for her.”
“Tch, yeah well we could all do with one of those at the moment.”
“Any idea what time she'll be arriving?”
Levi shrugged but didn’t answer.
Truth be told it was anyone’s guess when you would return, it could be later that afternoon or maybe closer to the evening, nothing was set in stone.
“I hope it’s soon, I’ve missed her company...as I’m sure you have too.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Snorted the short captain, slowly turning his head towards her and raising an incredulous eyebrow.
“Oh come on Shorty, I know she always tries to find time to have a cup of tea and a cuddle with you in an evening after she’s done with late duties.” Pausing to allow herself a small giggle, she continued talking. “Plus, I know you sneak down to my laboratory when I’m not around and check up on her to make sure I’m not working too hard.”
Quickly averting his gaze to try and hide the blush that was now rising on his pale cheeks, Levi cursed under his breath and quickened his pace.
“Hey slow down will you?” Called Hanji, rushing to keep up with him.
“Why should I?”
“Well, if you stopped for a moment and looked out of the window…”
Halting with a huff, Levi turned and turned his attention to the nearest pane of glass, staring out onto the street below and casting a confused glance over the passing citizens going about their lives.
“What exactly am I supposed to…”
Seconds later, he saw her.
Leaning forward in the saddle slightly to pat her horse’s neck, a young h/l h/c haired woman wearing a dark green cloak bearing the Wings of freedom trotted underneath the stone ledge of the window and steered her horse towards the main gate leading into the Garrison headquarters courtyard.
“F/n.” He whispered, his heart speeding up in his chest in realization that after almost a week apart, she had finally returned.
“Race you down to welcome her back!” Giggled Hanji, roughly shoving him aside and sprinting off down the corridor.
“Like Hell you will!” Snarled the raven haired male, quickly chasing after her. “Get back here Shitty Glasses!”
Eyes snapping open, Levi exhaled deeply as his body jerked against the mattress, instantly awakening him.
“Damnit!” He groaned, rubbing a hand over his eyes and blinking rapidly before a deep set frown settled upon his features, the dream of his past life slowly starting to fade away. “When the Hell did I fall asleep?”
Sitting up straight, he looked down at his body, noticing that he was still in the clothes he had changed into after returning home from work.
Shaking his head in confusion, he looked over to the bedside table to retrieve his phone, only to find that it wasn’t there.
Tutting and pushing himself off the bed, he walked over to the desk where the laptop remained open and found the device he was looking for next to it.
“Shit!” He gasped, cold grey eyes widening in horror when he saw the time.
Rushing downstairs and into the kitchen, he found the room to be completely empty...apart from a quickly scribbled note in the center of the dining table.
I came in earlier to see if you were ready to go to the hospital with me, but you were fast asleep and I didn’t want to disturb you.
Make sure you get something to eat when you wake up and don’t worry about today, I’ve got Kenny with me so I’ll be fine.
Love Mum xx
A low growl resonating in the pit of his throat, Levi looked down at his phone and swiped his thumb across the screen upon noticing that he had received two text messages.
Still seething over the fact he had failed to wake up in time to accompany his mother to the hospital, he opened the first message and walked over towards the worktop where the kettle sat, grateful to find that there was already some water in it.
Reading the first message, he pressed the on switch and retrieved a cup from the metal holder so he could make himself some tea.
Morning Handsome, how are you? Hope you didn’t stay awake all night working.
I’m heading out shopping with Hanji later, chances are we’ll be heading down near the multiplex so shall I confirm film times while I’m there? Xx
“Tch, seriously?” He grunted. “You see enough of that moron at work, why torture yourself by spending all your free time with her too?”
Reaching across the worktop, he picked up the tea canister and pulled out a tea bag. Dropping it into his cup, he yawned and ran his hand back through his sleep ruffled hair as he read the next message.
Just remembered you saying you were accompanying your mum to her hospital appointment today, give her my regards and I hope it goes okay for her.
Text you later when I’ve had a chance to check film times xx
Upon reading your concern for his mother, his naturally harsh glare softened for a split second before hardening once more.
As much as he appreciated the sentiment, it ended up making him even angrier with himself for letting her down.
He knew that Kenny would take good care of her, but that wasn’t the issue here. The fact that he had been promising to accompany her for well over a week was, he’d let her down and he was beyond pissed at himself for it.
Clicking his tongue when the kettle started to bubble, signalling that it was reaching boiling point, Levi started to think of how he could make it up to her.
He was a fairly decent cook, maybe a homemade meal? Although it would need to be something light, since she didn’t really have much of an appetite after the intensive treatment...something simple like a hearty vegetable soup perhaps?
Nodding firmly, he turned back to the kettle as it started boiling and prepared himself a cup of tea before heading back upstairs to have a shower and see how far he got with his workload prior to falling asleep. He didn’t feel particularly hungry at the moment, so decided to skip breakfast and just eat at lunchtime.
Entering his bedroom, he returned to his desk and sat down. Placing his cup next to the laptop and pressing the enter button, bringing up the document he’d been going over before sleep claimed him.
Staring at it for a moment, he kept his focus on the screen while reaching for the folder at the edge of his desk.
After a few moments of blind fumbling, he twigged on to the fact that it wasn’t in the location he had previously left it.
Looking to the location it should’ve been in, he soon noticed that the file containing Hanji’s reincarnation research has also been moved and the clasp that secured the contents inside was no longer fastened.
Blinking once, he picked it up and pulled back the flap.
As expected, the papers it contained were crumpled and completely out of order.
Even while looking through them at his tiredest, his obsession with tidiness would never allow him to put them back so haphazardly. Meaning the only logical conclusion was that someone else had done it, but who and why?
There were only two people it could’ve been, but neither had a motive to want to go through his private belongings. Surely there must’ve been a logical explanation as to how this had happened?
Shaking his head and grunting in annoyance, he set about rearranging the disturbed research into its proper order before sealing the file and tucking it into the top drawer out of sight.
He would enquire as to how they came to be in such a state later when his mother and Kenny returned, but for now, he had other things to be getting on with.
Having met up with Hanji, the two of you had promptly headed into the city and were currently discussing strategies on which shops you wanted to visit and in what order.
In the end, you had agreed that you would start at the northern end of the city centre near the multiplex and work your way through the precinct onto the main high street.
“So what film are you and Shorty planning on seeing?” Inquired Hanji leaning back against the wall, watching you closely as you keenly eyed up the billboard displaying the various film titles and show times.
“Well, Levi said he wouldn’t mind seeing the new Deadpool movie.” You mused thoughtfully. “We saw the first one on Netflix last week and he thought it was pretty good.”
“Fancy making it a double date? I’ve been nagging Moblit to come see it with me for days.”
“Aw come on, why not?”
Turning to look at her, you tilted your head to one side and smirked.
“You’re seriously asking me that?”
Giggling and replying with a casual shrug, the bespectacled brunette tried to give you her best wounded puppy look...even throwing in a tiny whimper for good measure.
“If Sasha, an actual dog can't break me with that look, what makes you think you’ll succeed?”
“Fine, you win.” She sighed, folding her arms and looking down at her feet. “So have you heard from him today?”
“Not yet, but he is going with his mum to the hospital.”
“Yeah, so I don’t expect to hear from him for a while.”
“Poor Kuchel, any idea how long they’re gonna be there?”
“Only that the appointment was for ten o’clock.”
Nodding and furrowing her brows, Hanji continued to stare at the floor.
“Hey f/n, can I ask you something?”
“Sure.” You replied, taking your phone out of your jeans pocket and sending a message to Levi, detailing the screening times you’d just been looking at.
Hesitating for a moment and nervously biting her lip, Hanji slowly looked up and stared off into the distance.
“Do you remember when I asked you about whether you believed in reincarnation?”
“Huh?” Head snapping up, you blinked rapidly at her question. “Reincarnation?”
She knew it was a bad idea, but with the small detail of how old you were when you first met Levi cleverly evading her at every attempt she made to discover it, she felt compelled to try a more direct approach.
“Yeah, I asked you about it a couple of months ago remember?”
“Um, vaguely. Why?”
“Oh no reason, just making conversation.”
“Right.” Putting your phone away, you moved closer to her and stared intensely into her puppy brown eyes, curiously searching them in the hope they could explain why she was mentioning such a thing. “Hanji are you feeling okay?”
“I’m fine Sweetie, it’s...well it’s silly really.” Giggling nervously, she scratched the back of her neck. “I was just browsing some history stuff online yesterday and I found myself in a forum about it.”
“You’re a strange one, you know that right?”
“Says the one who said she’d believe it if she saw concrete proof!” She countered, raising a hand and lightly jabbing her index finger into your chest.
“How do you prove it’s real and not images that have just been tampered with in Photoshop though?” You smirked, swatting her away. “Honestly Hanji, you need to be careful. You’re far too easily led at times, someone could take advantage if you don’t keep your wits about you."
“So you’ve never had strange dreams where you see yourself in situations from history and then wondered if it meant anything?”
“No I haven’t.” Growing serious, you stepped even closer to her and lowered your voice. “Have you?”
“Several times actually.”
Taking your curiosity as a sign that she may be able to convince you that reincarnation was indeed real, Hanji decided to continue pursuing the subject.
“How about we talk some more over an early lunch before we hit the shops? My treat!”
“Hmm, okay then.”
Gesturing for you to lead the way towards the precinct, Hanji struggled to fight back an excited squeal as she dug around in her coat pocket for her mobile phone.
Quickly retrieving the device, she cursed and grumbled when her rapidly shaking fingers hit the wrong screen keys while trying to send a text message to a certain raven haired male…
Frowning at the currently bubbling pot on the stove, Levi slowly stirred the contents and replaced the lid.
After finally finishing the paperwork Erwin asked him to prepare for Monday’s meeting, he had made his way downstairs to have lunch and then started preparing some homemade soup for his mother’s return.
Making himself another cup of tea and sitting down at the dining table, he removed his phone from his pocket and found that in the time he had been occupied working and cooking, two more text messages had appeared in his inbox.
"Tch, no wonder I didn't notice." He snorted, thumbing the screen to unlock it. "Damn thing is still on silent."
Opening the inbox application, the first thing that caught his attention was that the two messages were sent within minutes of each other, the only difference being the people who had sent them.
Hey, just sending the showtimes for the new Deadpool film. Let me know which one is best, I'm fine with any.
10.00, 12.30, 15.00, 17.30, 20.00, 22.30
Hope everything is okay at your end xx
Sending a reply to say that the 8pm showing would be the best since the two you you were planning on going for a meal first, Levi then turned his attention to the second message he had received.
"Tch, what the hell does she want?" He groaned, however his annoyance soon turned to surprise upon reading what she had to say for herself.
Hey Shorty, I think I might finally be able to make some headway with finding out how old f/n was when the two of you first met!
I decided to try my luck since I had her on her own and casually mentioned reincarnation. She seems a little skeptical, but also curious, isn't that great?
I'll let you know how I get on, fingers crossed this could be the breakthrough we've been waiting for!
"Huh, not bad Four Eyes." He mused, typing in a reply. "I guess you do have your uses."
Naturally he was a little miffed that she had told him not to go rushing into raising the subject with her, only to ignore her own advice and go running in with what was sure to be an all guns blazing attitude herself. Talk about double standards.
Still, if she was feeling confident that she would be able to secure the final piece of the puzzle surrounding your past life, then he was more than willing to sit back and let her take the opportunity to try.
Putting his phone down on the table and reaching for his tea, he soon found himself distracted again, this time by the sound of the front door being opened.
"Yo, Levi!" Called a familiar male voice. "You home?"
Leaving the kitchen and heading into the hallway, his natural frown deepend at the sight that greeted him.
Holding the door open with one arm and supporting a very fatigued looking Kuchel with the other, Kenny took a tentative step towards him.
"Help me get her upstairs."
Nodding in response, Levi carefully draped her free arm over his shoulders and gripped her waist to keep her steady.
"L-Levi?" She asked, groggily raising her head.
"I'm here." He said softly.
Affording him a weak smile, she cautiously started to walk towards the stairs, pausing for a moment before starting the task of ascending them.
"Any requests for dinner?" Asked Kenny, carefully slipping out from underneath her arm and placing it on the banister rail, making sure she had a firm grip on it before letting go completely. "I'm not even gonna attempt cooking, since I know you'll turn your nose up at it!"
"I'm making soup." Said Levi. "It should be ready in another hour or so."
"Heh, well aren't you the domesticated little housewife?"
"Leave him alone Kenny!" Snapped Kuchel hoarsely before turning her attention to her son and softening her tone. "Thank you Levi, I look forward to having some later."
Snorting and rolling his eyes, Kenny continued to assist his sister until she reached the top of the stairs before going on ahead to open her bedroom door.
"I'll be in the living room if you need me." He said evenly, waiting until she was safely away from the edge of the staircase and heading back down.
"Right, now he's gone we can talk." Said Kuchel, pressing her free hand against the wall to support herself as she continued the short journey to her bedroom. "Is everything okay with you Levi? Your sleeping habits seem to have been all over the place this last week."
"I'm fine." He lied, stopping once they were inside and adjusting his hold on her while he switched on the oxygen machine.
"Don't you dare lie to me Levi Ackerman!" Scolded his mother, grunting in discomfort as he gently lowered her down onto the mattress, carefully lifting her legs so she could shuffle into the center of the bed. "You were asleep at your desk this morning, I had to get Kenny to place you on the bed so you wouldn't end up with a sore neck and back all day. Oh, he also knocked some of your work things onto the floor while he was moving you, I tried to put them back neatly but he took it from me and just stuffed them in any old how. Sorry about that, I hope he hasn't messed it up too much for you."
"Tch, I might've known he'd have something to do with my stuff looking like it had been raided through!" Snorted the short male, secretly relieved that he now knew how Hanji's research had come to be in such a state. Although with Kenny just stuffing it back into the file in such a crude manner, it meant that both he and his mother were unaware of what the papers actually were. "It's fine, I sorted it out when I woke up."
"Good," She nodded, affording him a small smile as he handed her the nasal cannula from the bedside table. "Although you still haven't answered my question about why you fell asleep at your desk."
"I was up late working on something for Erwin, I don't even remember falling asleep."
"I see." She frowned, putting the cannula on and adjusting her bandanna. "Well try not to make a habit of it too often."
"I'm sorry I wasn't able to come with you today, I'll leave you to get some rest and bring some soup up for you when it's ready."
Just as he was about to leave, the feeling of Kuchel's fingers loosely wrapping themselves around his wrist stopped him from taking another step.
Looking down at her face, he furrowed his brows upon seeing her expression.
She looked worried, her soft grey eyes narrowing slightly...almost as if she was trying to see inside his mind. It made him feel extremely uneasy, like she was about to ask an awkward question that he wasn't sure he actually knew the answer to.
"If there was something bothering you...you'd tell me, wouldn't you?"
Breath hitching slightly in his throat, Levi nodded calmly.
However deep down, her words had a much harder impact than he was willing to admit.
Kuchel had already informed him that Kenny was responsible for the state he found Hanji's research in earlier, but now he was left wondering if Kuchel had managed to catch a glimpse of what it was really about. Unfortunately, he lacked the courage to ask.
"I'm fine Mother." He replied soothingly, stepping back towards her and loosely wrapping an arm around her shoulders before placing a gentle kiss on her forehead. "Try and get some rest."
"I love you Sweetheart. Just remember that if there's ever anything bothering you...anything at all, you can always talk to me about it."
"I know, I love you too."
Sighing deeply and shaking her head as her son left the room, quietly closing the door behind him, Kuchel reached over to the bedside table and picked up her book.
"I'll always listen to you Levi...no matter what it is."