When it’s all said and done with, Levi leaves, taking his squad, and the first horses they saw before taking off out into the field. He doesn’t know what's going to happen, he relied on Erwin for that, but not even Erwin could have predicted that titan, taller than the walls, taller than anything, and so damn hot . He had burned everything around him, and Levi had watched in horror, unable to say anything as the cave collapsed around them. Kenny’s presence fluttered through the bond uneasily, a stab of agony from both ends as he saw Traute’s blonde hair disappear under a falling rock.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. Levi begged, as pinpricks of agony exploded across the right half of his face, jarring light lighting across his skin. Eren runs forward, but Levi isn’t looking at him, he’s staring through the warped heat towards his alpha - as a boulder slams into him as well.
It knocks him off his feet, but he can blame that on the force of Eren’s transformation. His scream goes unnoticed over the yells of everyone else, of the 104th, of Petra; who had pushed Auruo back and down against the cave wall, ready to use her own body to shield her omega from the heat. Erd is looking at him, but Levi only stares as he loses sight of Kenny, as the light and the pain knocks his sense from him.
That had been almost two hours ago - but he’s not sure of the time - the only thing he is sure about is his alpha, who is barely clinging to life.
I’m coming. He pleaded, bypassing the crater in the ground where that titan - Rod - had crawled out from. They had worked so hard, and he had ruined everything. That was the Ackerman luck, after all.
He doesn’t respond to Petra’s call, “Captain, should we split up?” she doesn’t know what he knows, he doesn’t have to look for him, and suspicion be damned, he will not waste time trying to find him. He can see Kenny finally, collapsed against a tree, and it makes the throb in his bond bite pick up, makes everything hurt as his horse skids to a stop. He’s off of it before it’s still, darting forward to drop to his knees by Kenny, one hand coming up to cup his cheek - his good cheek.
His heart is racing and his thoughts are drowned under a sea of white noise, breath faltering as the scent finally catches up with him, burned skin making his lunch rush up into his throat, but he holds that back.
“Captain?” Erd asks, and they don’t hide their scent, not like Levi does, because no soldier now or ever can smell the fear fearfearfea-- swirling inside him. Fuck , Levi thinks, biting his lip and worrying it red. The entire right half of Kenny is burnt, from his clothes to his skin - his skin - to the point of missing hair on his head. It was all gone or worse.
“Get a doctor.” He says, voice surprisingly steady for how he feels in that moment. There is no sound behind him and he throws his head back, a snarl rippling through him so violent in it’s nature that Gunther and Auruo shrink back. “All four of you now -- Get a doctor!”
He turns his attention back to Kenny, and only listens to the sound of all four of them remounting before taking off.
It’s only when they’re gone that Levi lets himself melt, letting out a whimpering cry before pressing closer, mindful of Kenny’s injured body as he pushed into his lap as far as he dared, nuzzling up under Kenny’s chin.
This seems to rouse Kenny enough, who merely makes a pained noise before bringing his left arm up and around Levi. It’s weak, too weak. He’s losing strength and Levi can feel it, can feel the way his soul is panicking, digging it’s fingers into Kenny’s own, pulling him back even as he sunk deeper and deeper.
Please don’t leave me, please don’t leave me-- It’s the only thing on Levi’s mind, and it’s not till Kenny chokes, and squeezes him tighter that Levi realizes he is saying it out loud, and that is enough to make him pull back. It’s like this that he gets a good look at Kenny’s face, even if he lives--
If... If, If, If.
The world around him is going grey, losing it’s color, and his body is in anarchy. It’s like this, as his hand moves down to cup Kenny’s bond scar, thankfully on the uninjured half of his body, that he can understand what is happening to them, to him.
Kenny is dying, and Levi is too,
“Kitten…” Kenny breathes, and Levi just shakes his head at him, gaze dropping down to his chest, unable to stare into his glossy eyes any longer. He’s losing him.
“Please.,” Levi begs, pressing closer again, eliminating any space between the two of them, hand clutching desperately at Kenny’s shirt. “Please."
His heart feels wrong, like it’s not beating right. Levi knows what happens to couples that have been bonded as long as they have, knows that without his mate his body will give out, but Kenny’s not gone yet. It punches him in the stomach when he understands, and despite himself tears drip out - maybe they had been for awhile - and all of his air leaves in a sob. His heart is fine, Kenny’s is not. They’re out of sync with each other, Kenny’s is slowing down.
Because he is still dying.
Kenny shifts again and Levi can feel the pricks of pain that accompany the motion all throughout his body, but still Kenny moves, to hold him tighter, to grip him closer. He’s barely conscious, probably wouldn’t be if Levi wasn’t here, clinging to him. Levi doesn’t want to think of what that means, that the only thing keeping Kenny’s body alive was it’s attachment to Levi, what state he’d be in without him.
Against his wishes, his mind supplies him with images of that, of Kenny dying alone against this tree, in agony all by himself, because Levi was not here, was too slow. He can’t think of that, because the pain wracks both of them. Kenny had always felt what Levi felt too strongly, loved him too deeply, and that was his downfall; but it was a human one.
Levi has to be strong, for him, for both of them, because Kenny cannot be strong now. So he steels himself, and bites his lip so hard he bleeds, only pulling back as the background noise of horses started to flood in, there’s a wagon, by the sound of it - for his alpha. He’ll live, Levi would sooner tear down the gates of heaven, challenge whatever god or goddesses awaited there than let Kenny die here, like this.
You can’t have him, He snarls in his head, rubbing the tears from his eyes as that carriage comes to a stop, a few betas jumping out and running over, immediately moving to check on him. Levi steps out of the way, hands balled into fists before helping to move Kenny into the wagon. He’s mine.
The movement hurts him and Levi can feel it in his bones, the way it aches, the way Kenny slips further from him, but Levi pushes back against that, puts his foot down and fights.
“Regroup back with Erwin and do whatever he tells you, I have to go with them.” Levi orders, already hauling himself up onto the back, hesitating just outside the privacy flaps. Erd nods, offering a quick salute followed by a “Roger, Captain.” and Levi doesn’t wait after that, doesn’t stop to see the look in his eyes, that calculating expression.
Petra exchanges a glance with Erd, the only two alphas of the squad, and Levi doesn’t see that either.
“Captain…” A beta begins, her eyes flighty, fingers twitching on whatever supply she held, Levi didn’t know, he wasn’t a doctor. “You really shouldn’t be here.”
“I have to guard him.” Levi says, choosing to ignore her for the time being, ignore the fact that a dying man could do nothing.
She doesn’t respond, because despite their best efforts, Kenny only stops twitching when Levi sits next to him. It’s doctor-patient confidentiality. The way Levi grips Kenny’s hand so hard his knuckles turn white will not be repeated, not to anyone. No one will know how Kenny squeezed back.
They get to work and Levi stays out of the way as best as possible. He holds his scent here as well, the scent of a terrified omega will help no one, and for the first time in 34 years of life, Levi prays.
It takes hours when they get to the hospital, and they are separated then, because Levi cannot be with them while Kenny undergoes surgery, but he does linger just outside the door. They know, all of the doctors that have encountered them do, Kenny should have died against that tree, at the very least on the frantic and uncomfortable trip over, but he does not. Even when his organs should be failing, despite a few skips, they keep working. They know it is because of Levi; Levi who lingers outside that door and paces, because that energy has to go somewhere, and focuses all he has on his alpha just inside that room.
It’s a long few hours, but no one bothers him. Nurses occasionally offer a drink, food, something, but Levi shakes them off and skirts closer to the wall, leaning back against it, foot tapping the ground as quick as he can.
It’s even longer still before it’s over, before his body stops crying at him in pain, before his heart rate starts to calm, before he finally feels the weight of all that force, of two nights on no sleep, on the run from the law, of the titan, of the fight to keep his alpha alive. He stays standing, only by force of will if anything, as a doctor comes out to speak to him, and informs him that Kenny is alive but not well.
“When can I see him?” Levi knows it’s himself asking, it couldn’t be anyone else, but the room around him is spinning and his legs are shaking.
“Whenever you like.” The doctor responds, and Levi doesn’t say anything else as he lets her lead him to the room where Kenny’s been moved to.
He stays standing until she leaves, promising privacy for the both of them, and after pulling a chair closer, he collapses into it, taking Kenny’s good hand and holding it up to his face, nuzzling into his palm and just breathing, finally relaxing for the first time in days.
He never thought this would happen, but his alpha is alive and that’s all he can ask for, it’s all he can ask that his hand is still warm for him to hold, that he can feel him through the bond. Levi doesn’t know what he’d have done if Kenny had died, he doesn’t want to think about it.
So he doesn’t.
He dozes there, still inhaling at the scent gland on Kenny’s wrist, letting his mate’s scent drown him into a dreamless sleep. It’s only with Kenny that Levi can really rest, can let the nightmares of war leave his mind, and that is a rare occasion.
No one bothers them in that time, and for that, Levi is thankful.
He knows time has passed when Kenny stirring wakes him up, and Levi perks immediately, reaching out through the bond to hold him, gripping his hand tighter. I’m here, you’re alive, you’re alive and I’m here.
Kenny only groans, a harsh cough wracking his body as he lifted his free hand to rub at his eyes - eye.
Levi sits up finally, and with it, he finally gets a clear look at the state his mate is in, and it’s not a pretty sight. He didn’t lose his eye, thankfully, Levi can tell that just from the feeling in both of his own, but the entire right half of his body is practically swaddled in bandages. In any other situation, such a sight would be funny, but it’s not here, and never will be again.
Kenny doesn’t respond to Levi, not yet, and Levi can feel the heaviness of his head through the bond, letting that guide how he reacted, what his instincts said had to be done, and Kenny just shifts, letting out a pained rasp before holding his hand up, squinting at the bandages wrapped around his arm, as if suddenly aware that something was off.
The doctor had mentioned that in their talk - that Kenny was on so many painkillers . Levi almost wants to laugh, watching as Kenny waved his hand a bit, as if trying to shake off the wrappings before letting his arm fall to the bed beside him, staring at the ceiling. Levi shifts closer, suddenly aware of this aching pain in his back. That was his own, at least - serves him right for always sleeping in chairs.
“Kenny?” Levi can’t take the suspense anymore, pulling Kenny’s hand just a bit closer to him, about to drag it off the bed to cradle in his lap. He would already be in bed with him, nuzzled up against his side and using his chest as a pillow, but he doesn’t want to jostle Kenny around too much right now - it’s still hard to resist.
Kenny does finally look at him, still with that dazed, out of it look, moving too heavy and slow. He licks his lips and smiles, a raunchy, smirking look, and opens his mouth to speak. “Wha’s a pretty thing like you doin’ here?”
And Levi blinks, caught between horror and delight, he- no. Kenny knew him before the ride over, he’s just drugged. Amusement takes over completely then, leaning closer towards Kenny, who seemed more than happy to have him there in that space.
“Does your alpha know you’re here?”
His voice is so raspy, and distantly Levi thinks about calling one of the nurses for a drink, but he’ll do that in a minute, when Kenny has come back to himself. The sight of him like this is for Levi and Levi alone.
And Levi smiles, dips his head to fight back the color on his face before looking back up, pressing his lips into a thin, amused smile. “Kenny,” He begins, a purr rumbling through his tone. Kenny, to his credit, does try hard to focus on him, like even in his drugged state he knows that he’s placed Levi at the center of his universe. Levi squeezes his hand. “ You’re my alpha.”
Kenny just stares at him in response, and Levi has to fight back the urge to grin, watching and feeling the gears starting to turn in his alpha’s head, before Kenny closes his eyes and shakes his head best he can, slurring out something before seemingly remember how to work his lips and squinting open his eyes again.
“Bullshit. ‘S no way I’d get someone ‘s good as you.” And that sends Levi into anarchy, coils of warmth spreading through his chest. His alpha is essentially piss-drunk on pain medication and he is still in love with him. Of course he is.
Levi moves finally, changing his position to sit up on the side of the bed next to him, pulling Kenny’s hand up to his face and holding it against his own cheek, letting out a happy purr of his own. Kenny only stares, an awed expression on his face, before his eyes get hazy and he slumps back again, losing it for a moment before shaking himself back up, looking at Levi dumbfounded. His fingers curl around Levi’s cheeks, and he lets out a soft, inquisitive chuff , before he remembers speaking is something he can do.
“How long,” Kenny asks, and he stops again, distracted by something that Levi can’t see before remembering the conversation they were apparently having. “How long we been mates?”
He must be out of it, really out of it, and Levi wonders what year he thinks it is, who he thinks Levi is, how he really feels under all that medicine, but Levi doesn’t voice these questions, no, those he keeps to himself. He’ll get answers eventually. Right now, he tends to his mate best he can.
And that is a question, it almost felt like just yesterday, when he had been young and bold and had let Kenny claim and keep him; when Kenny had let him do the same in turn, but Levi is not young, nor bold anymore. “Nineteen years.” Almost twenty - twenty.
“Nineteen years…” Kenny echos in response, relaxing back into the bed and staring at the ceiling. He stays in that position for awhile, and Levi’s sure he dozes off in the middle of it. Levi doesn’t mind thought, instead he watches his face, looks at the bandages, how they wrap around him, looks at how his chest rises and falls with each continued breath.
Kenny wakes up again later on, and the conversation they had seemed to have slipped his mind completely, and Levi only smiles in response as Kenny licks his still dry lips, trying to process who the omega above him was.
“Wha’s your name again?” He finally asks, with that charming, stupid smile that Levi adored.
“Levi.” Kenny breathes, savoring the sounds as if it was ethereal on his tongue. Kenny was always like that, always managed to make Levi feel weightless under his attention. “And… how long you say we been mated again?”
He has an accent like this, like he’s been knocked back forty years. It makes Levi wonder about how Kenny was like as a child, he knows some, bits and pieces, how he watched his parents die - killed the MP that had murdered them, knows of the curse of being an Ackerman, but he doesn’t know this, that childish glee in his eyes, the improper grammar that spoke of poor schooling. He needs to know, needs it like he needs air.
“Almost twenty years.”
“Twenty years-- And you’re mine?” Kenny asks, grin stretched across his face, and Levi can’t hold back the quiet noise of pleasure. He’s not one for egos, but if he did have one, this would be a boost to it.
“Yes,” Levi laughs, squeezing Kenny’s hand tight. “I’m yours.”
And Kenny looks so damned pleased with himself, letting out a breathless “Wow.” before just laying there, a stupid, lazy grin on his face as he gazed up at Levi, like this omega had strung the stars in the sky above him.
Yeah, Levi thinks, looking down at the stupid, awful, wonderful, center of his world. Wow.
Kenny dozes for awhile longer, and they repeat the same exact conversation twice more, with Kenny asking his name again and clarifying how long they had been bonded before Levi finally rolls his eyes, stopping the latest “and you’re my mate?” in its tracks.
He reaches out, pressing two fingers into the bond scar on Kenny’s neck, humming as his pulse fluttered under his touch, eagerly responding to his mates presence.
“Can you feel me right there?” Levi asks, and Kenny just stares for a moment before looking so genuinely mystified, like everything had suddenly come into clarity.
He nods best he can, but doesn’t say anything after that for a long time, even when Levi takes his hand back to keep them both clasped around Kenny’s own. Levi knows he’s not asleep, even though he probably should be, but he just seems to be staring. Levi doesn’t mind that, Kenny likes to keep an eye on him, but that does warm him again, when pushed back to his base instincts, at the brink of death, Kenny’s priority was still him.
Levi’s pulled from his thoughts as Kenny lets out a heavy sigh, still smiling at him in a way that twists Levi to his core.
“You’ve got real pretty eyes.”
After everything that had happened in the last 24 hours, that does it, and Levi’s face burns red in a way that only Kenny can pull from him, and Kenny - the bastard - grins at him again, letting out the beginnings of a laugh before coughing hard. Concern takes over, and Levi leans closer over him, gently resting one of his hands on Kenny’s chest as the fit ends, leaving him rasping for air.
Levi can’t help the scent he lets out, it’s a calming gesture, reaching out with his dynamic to try and soothe the pained alpha in bed with him. Even feeling like this, Kenny still finds a way to smile at him, and Levi hates the grain sized thought that if Kenny had died he’d still probably have been smiling at him.
“What are you doin’ with some borin’ alpha like me?” Kenny asks, and Levi almost feels like someone had sucker punched him, emotions welling him inside him that he can’t control. What is he doing? What did Kenny think he was doing. He doesn’t respond however, instead just leaning over Kenny’s face to press a kiss to his forehead.
When he pulls away Kenny’s eyes have shut, and Levi doesn’t go about trying to wake him up again.
“Get some rest you old bastard.” Levi breathes, moving to slip from the bed when Kenny’s hand grabs him, his grip weak on Levi’s wrists. It’s alarming, even though Levi knows Kenny’s badly injured - he’s not used to his alpha not being strong.
“Stay.” Kenny says, and Levi can feel him just at the edge of his conscious, reaching out in ways he can’t physically. Levi bites his lip and glances back at the door. He stares at it for awhile, and when he finally looks back, Kenny’s eyes are open and on him again, and Levi knows that he’s lost this battle already. Against his better judgement, he kicks off his shoes onto the floor and curls up under the blankets against Kenny’s good side, grabbing the fabric of his hospital gown tight.
Kenny doesn’t say anything else, and Levi’s presence seems to be enough to help lull him back into sleep. Levi wonders then about everything, about how much pain Kenny can feel through the medicine, about how close Levi was to losing him, about what they will do tomorrow - about when the military will come for him as a traitor. Levi wonders until his eyes hurt too much to stay open anymore, only then does he close his eyes, letting the scent of his alpha surround him once more.
When he sleeps, it is dreamless.