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if this letter finds you

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Everyone turned to Connie. A wooden box in his hand. Meant for jewelry or important articles. “There’s something for Captain.” 

“Eren left something for him?” Mikasa asked as she eyed the item. She looked at the tag and frowned at it. Eren’s handwriting. Levi’s name written in full. 

“Do we give it?” Connie held it for her to see, he searched the storage room and found it almost empty. This was the only thing left. 

“Eren is gone. There’s nothing else he can do that can hurt our Corporal.” Jean said bitterly. The most painful thing Eren did to Levi was leaving him, and then forcing his own mate to kill him. Behead him. “Whatever is in there is not for us. Hand it to Levi when you see him.”

“Jean, may I?” Armin asked, gently holding the box in his hand. Carved wood from the Titan Forest trees as they only held that color. He found it cruel why Eren would remind Levi of a place that has taken many Levi has cared about. 

“Why the fuck would he leave this?” Jean muttered under his breath. 

Mikasa sighed. “Like you said, it’s not for us.”

“Let’s give it to him. Hope it’s nothing bad.” Connie said. 

Hope was a dangerous thing. 

Levi wasn’t expecting anyone over. 

From the moment he saw their faces, he knew it wasn’t anything good. Hesitant as they handed him a wooden box. He frowned at the wood. From the forest of Titans and death. He showed little reaction when they said who it was from before they left. Many don’t say the word around him, or anything that could imply a memory of Eren to resurface. Levi found it stupid that they try. 

Eren was impossible to forget. 

He saw the sun everyday and felt the warmth of it on his skin. His soul would ache for his half as long as the sun rose every morning. 

Levi put down his imported whiskey, it would take much for him to feel the effects of drunkenness anyway. On days like this he ditched the tea and favored liquor. The burn helped and then the eventual slumber. Barely slept these days unless his tea was laced with a drug, or the exhaustion passed him out. One or the other, but never naturally. 

Hasn’t since Eren left him alone. Remembered how good it was to sleep when he had Eren in his arms to sleep with. 

He sighed, took a quick drink from his glass. He just had to get this over.  

There was no key. A simple open latch. 

He grimaced when he pulled out, holding it from its long cotton wax cord, Eren’s key. The one that opened the floodgates of doom and destruction. Such blissful ignorance they lived back then. Finding out there was a world out there was shocking in itself, but that they were hated to extremes was another. 

“Why would you give me this?” Levi asked a ghost. He put it aside. The other thing in there was a letter addressed to him, sealed with red wax. Eren’s Eldian cursive was fluid and neat. An opposite of his brazen soul. With his finger nail he traced the curves and loops of his name, Levi Ackerman… 

There was no rush in Eren’s penmanship. Eren took his time writing this. Levi could almost feel the tender care as Eren wrote his last letter. Could be his imagination wanting to fill an empty blank of what he missed. He took another sip of whiskey to move on. 

He put it down as he poked the fire back to life, and searched for a letter opener. He was buying time. He didn’t have to lie to himself that he was. Whatever unfinished business and questions he had, Eren would leave it here. 

It would be the conclusion Levi needed, but deep down he knew it was something he would not like. 

Eren was like that, Levi supposed, a living juxtaposition. Loving, too loving, and frighteningly hateful. He refilled his glass, took a mouthful. Wanted it to burn. 

He couldn’t dally his avoidance. Gently, he tore open the side. Unfolded the first page. Blamed the very mild trembling on his missing fingers. 

‘Levi,’ Eren started.  

‘If this letter finds you, you kept your promise. As a cadet who relied on you, Captain, thank you for keeping it. However, as your mate, know I died with great hurt. Only a great moment of weakness may have stopped me, or my stupidity. Who knows anymore? I always cried too much.’

‘What this letter holds, there is proof below the hidden compartment of the box. I took great care to preserve the last thing I want to give you. The last thing to show we were here. I ask that you wait, Levi. You won’t be the same. I am a cruel person. If you want to save yourself, this is your final chance at ignorance. 

‘I want you to feel the same level of pain I had. You won’t be the same after you learn this truth.’

‘But first, thank you for loving me. You were the only person that made me feel more than my biology, my monstrosity or humanity. Loving me? A painful mistake on your behalf, Captain. I saw it all since we returned from Shiganshina that day. I could have stopped you and saved you from suffering, but I wanted to be loved as long as I could. Selfish of me, isn’t it? We’re both monsters, Levi, but I would be the one that consumes everything you love, even you.'

‘Was it worth loving me? I don’t think it was. Was it for you, me being your mate?’

‘I saw awful things, Levi. For years. Spanning hundreds of years of war and violence and death. It made life painful to live. If you only knew how much history has been warped. It was impossible to untangle and correct. We saw it with our eyes that the world would never give us the moment to speak.' 

‘I saw what they would do to us. I chose us. I damned the world. I don’t regret it, Levi.’

Levi put down the first page. Closed his eyes and gently rubbed over them with his hand. This shouldn’t hurt. He had the years to make do with this bitter pain. Eren changed since the Battle of Shiganshina, and Levi thought it was the trauma of it. The weight of what was out there heavy on Eren’s shoulders. Not what was in Eren’s head and the madness that laid there. 

He ticked, annoyed at Eren. Of course, his brat was worth loving. Worth every pain and torment he has done to others, and what he has suffered himself. He made Eren the exception after all. For everything and everyone, and could never regret it. 

The aching, fading bite on his neck was for everyone to see. 

Levi thought he was over this. Gritted his teeth to stop whatever burned his eyes to stop. Another mouthful of whiskey. Ignite away the affliction just like Eren burned the world. 

He opened his eyes. The second, and last, page was shorter. Eren didn’t have much say, and he didn’t have to say much. Levi saw who Eren was at first glance. Words unsaid could go to the wind. 

He still hasn’t reached to what Eren referred to as his cruelty. On the second page, a last chance to turn away. What more could Eren do to force him on his knees again? Eren took his heart, his flesh, and his warmth. Left him to fill it with liquor to feel the resemblance. 

One more sip. Brunt this impact. Levi read and read. Confused as to why Eren would bring up his heat of all things. The last thing Eren shared with him before his permanent silence. 

He should have stopped. 

‘There are many things that led me to make my choice. Some thousands of years older than me, the inadequacy of our military and Brass, and my own suffering has all contributed to my decision. However, none more than the last one. Something happened to me that I didn’t see, and it changed everything.'

Levi's hands gripped the sheet of paper as he read the sentence again and again. No. No. No. This can't be. An unholy cold soaked into his bones. Sobering painfully to this truth. 

‘A shifter's womb can do so much. What mother wouldn't go to war to save what grew within them?'

Levi can barely breathe. The edges of his sight tunnel into darkness. 

'I was. If I'm no longer here, I was. And neither are they. Would they have been a girl or boy? I think maybe a little girl. Maybe an Alpha like you. Looking so much like her father.'

Levi did… he… Maria no….  

'I thank you for one more thing, Levi. If this world was cruel enough for me to die, I'm glad you killed them too.'

'Forever yours, Eren'

He can’t stop shaking. 

Levi pulled the velvet lid off, finding it heavy for such a small box. It was meant to hide and secure something inside. Beneath. Within it was a tinier box, but this time the lid slid off. The whimper escaped his mouth as Eren’s scent, the most potent scent he has had of him filling his senses for the first time in forever. 

He held the cloth toward his nose, and the next breath released was stifled. It was Eren’s scent, and yet not. There was something new. 

Something blooming. Growing.

Eren wasn’t lying. 

Levi clenched it in his hand against his face. That horrible tightness in his chest climbed to his throat. His blind eye ached as his seeing one cried. The alcohol within wanted to burn him alive. He wished it did. “Eren, you…” 

Eren was pupped. Saw how the world hated Eldians. Why wouldn’t Eren do everything in his power to save what he treasured? 

The knowledge of this truth was too much. 

He murdered his child.

The fire was out. The glass he threw hours ago in its hearth melted and sparkled, but the bottle was empty in his hand. Morning had come. Trapped in the same spot since Eren gifted him one last bit of torture. His face felt tacky, wet, and heavy. It was cold too. Alone in this home and his everyday clothes.  

Everything, everything, hurts. 

He was going to be a father. 

He barely felt the hand on his shoulder. With bleary eyes, he focused on the people in his living room. His former squad, all with different shades of worry. How long has it been? 

“Captain Levi, it’s morning. We decided to check on you.” Armin started quietly. His only response was an impassive face, careless.

Connie studied the living room and the tiny bit of disarray that centered from this strewn body. “Levi, are you alright?”

No. He wasn’t. Would never be again. Murdering Eren was one horrible thing, but killing the mother of his child? His pup? The tragedies do not cease. 

“Go away.” He mumbled. Limping, he grabbed anything to make his way to the cabinet that his retired squad and others used to help themselves. Grabbed a bottle, wasn’t his favorite but he just didn’t want to think. Wanted to forget. Numb the process.  

“Levi…” Mikasa whispered. What did Eren write? 

Jean snatched away the bottle. Worried as Levi only drank when it was bad. But to finish the bottle and seek more? Never has this happened. His concern intensified that Levi didn’t fight back for it, choosing to slump against the closest wall and sunk until he was sitting on his ass. “Drinking yourself to death isn’t going to help.” 

“But it’ll make me closer to him. Right? Won’t it?” Levi slurred. “Dying just a bit.” 

Unsettled glances shared among them. Levi has never spoken like this. Guilt thick and sorrow heavy, lost in whatever his thoughts kept repeating. “He told me I would be left with nothing. He took every fucking piece of me… the fucker.” 

“Levi, what did he say?” Armin asked, almost afraid to know. 

Levi murmured. “Why did I love him? Why did he love me?” He raised his head, fresh tears from his single eye.

Stunned into silence. Varying degrees of disbelief as in even in death, Eren continued to ruin the supposed Strongest. Making him fall on his knees, on his back, and wish death upon himself. Breaking him within and the cracks showed out. He breathes the truth into the world.  

“He was pregnant.” 

The sound of Mikasa, the sharp cry of her disbelief and racing breath. Covering her mouth in horror. Connie stood still as stone with wide eyes. Armin and Jean asked confused, panicked questions but Levi blocked it all out. Eren killed for them and killed for the baby he would never see. 

Levi held tighter the cloth in his hand. 

It was all he had left.

Sunset. It took him until sunset to get here. Eren’s grave. All this time it held two. 

"You should have told me." 

He pulled out a cigarette. Eren loved smoking these. Could always be found with a heavy gaze in eyes as he looked at the distance, inhaling death. Outsiders warned them it caused diseases and harm, and mothers shouldn’t smoke them as it injured their growing young. Eren only smiled, said he won’t be having children as his time was up in a couple more years. He could poison his lungs all he wanted. 

Levi should have questioned why Eren stopped one day. Stayed away from the sticks and smoke.

Lighting it with a matchstick, he put one on Eren’s headstone and started one for himself. Levi didn’t care he was on his knees again. The trees rustled as the winds blew gently. The cloth was still in his hand and away from the scent of tobacco. He would never know his pup's scent, only had Eren's blooming mother one. Agonized that it would fade with time and be only in his thoughts. Soft honey and gentle earth, with new sunlight. Fresh, lovely sunlight.

"I would have been by your side if you only told me," Levi murmured brokenly, "but then again, I was never by yours. Was I?"

It was cruel of him, wasn’t it? Until he knew of his pup did he finally understand. That he cared for something more than the world. That he should have held Eren to the same level of love, but he didn’t. 

“No wonder you didn’t tell me.” 

He thought he would never live long enough to have a mate, much less have a child. For a short moment in time, beyond his know, he was a father. Eren didn’t mention how far along he was, but the change in his scent said enough. They were there. Safe in Eren’s womb. Waiting for their mother to destroy the world so they would live in a safe one, no matter how extremely immoral the method was to Eren’s madness. 

Levi undid it all with his hands.

Took both their lives. 

Sunset was falling to night. The darkness again. Buried the sun and life it gave into the earth, the world. Doesn't feel the cold on his skin, nor the aches in his joints. 

They would have been beautiful. Eren was their mother. How could they not be? 

“I think they would have been a girl too.”