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Sleepwalking in Pairs|In Gardens Without Names

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Light flashes across Levi’s eyes as he blinks, one, two; he traces the lines and shapes of faint sunshine and shadow as they splay across the walls. Consciousness comes slowly, sluggishly. He has always demanded a room with a window, and his new quarters are no exception.

The water is cold, wakes him up fully, sluices down his forearms and leaves the hair on his neck standing on end. No stubble – he shaved yesterday. He peers into the mirror intently, looms there for seconds. It’s all just philosophy anyway, the kind that stays locked away and dusty in the thick tomes that line Erwin’s bookshelves. There’s no second person, no second pair of eyes. It’s really just him staring into himself.

Clean. That’s what the morning is, fresh and cold in his nostrils. He looks across the mess hall in the pale, dawn light. The chair at the far end, facing the doors, is still slightly askew from where he left it just four hours before, having left alone. It looks foggy in here, washed out and a little indistinct, gray, and somehow the pale yellows and creams of weak illumination make him think of lemon rinds, bitter and sharp.

Tea for one. One teaspoon. One cup. A seat for one, at the end of a long, long table. Here too, sunshine and shadow plaster close to stone, and he watches quietly as they move, centimeter by centimeter, across the floor. No one sits across from him.

The morning is gray, and it’s all philosophy, it’s really just him looking into himself. In another half hour, the sun will have risen fully above the horizon, and things will be as they should be. His squad members will mill about for breakfast, murmuring themselves to wakefulness until they start fighting over who has the lion’s share of bread or cheese or eggs. In another half hour, he’ll be stepping away with his stomach oddly heavy, but there will be no voice to bid him goodbye, there will be no voice to call his name and bid his attention from outside his office window, and right now there is no one here but himself, examining morning light and colors and mirrors like he knows fuck all what any of the philosophy books ever said, like words or theories could ever make sense and understand who he was better than the man who smiled so clearly and willingly at him every morning, every afternoon, every sleepless night.

Levi sips from his cup, the faint fragrance of roses rising in his nostrils. He blinks. It is day two of the fifth trial.

Eren is not here.