Warning for mild to moderate gore
‘Quit fidgeting, brat,’ Levi snaps above you, and you quickly force your body to freeze against the white bedsheets. Once pristine, they are now rumpled and faintly blood and mud stained beneath your bare stomach after your return from the most recent expedition. Your filthied shirt is on the spotless floor beside the bed—and you wish it were there under different circumstances, but you don’t have time to think about that as a sharp pain jabs through your back, like the searing pain of a white-hot poker dragging through your skin.
You sink your teeth into the pillow you’re clutching, and a low hiss escapes your lips when you hear the clink of metal, accompanied by another stab of jarring pain.
The pain dulls, and you release the pillow from the clenches of your teeth with a gasp. ‘Is it over?’ You demand breathlessly, not sure you can handle Levi yanking more shrapnel out from the already shredded skin of your back.
There’s another clink of metal as Levi deposits a sliver of blood-stained steel into a tin bowl, which is already inhabited by at least seven other pieces of metal, wood, and even a rock fragment.
‘Almost.’ His voice is as impassive as ever, never betraying a fragment of emotion from behind the unbreakable mask. You hear a tapping noise as he squeezes the tweezers, and he shifts slightly where he’s sat beside you on the edge of the bed—his bed. ‘Ready?’
You squeeze your eyes shut and bite into the pillow once again before nodding with a muffled ‘yes’. This time, a stifled cry escapes your throat as the tweezers lodge onto a steadily stuck piece of shrapnel. He seemed to pause for a moment, as if giving you time to gather yourself before he removes the tainted metal.
These many pieces of unwanted debris originated from a deserted and titan-crumbled town within Wall Maria, where the expedition had taken place. It was just bad luck, really. You had happened to be the only one in the street when a four-metre class had abruptly struck through a small building behind which it had been hiding. Struck by the blast, your squad mates and captain had found you bloody and battered with metal and wall fragments protruding violently from the back of your green Scouting Legion cloak.
You hear a small sigh leave Levi’s lips, and he shifts forwards again, the mattress dipping and creaking beside you. From your face-down position, you couldn’t see him, but in your mind’s eye you could see the thin locks of raven hair falling delicately over his forehead as he leant towards your bloody back.
‘I’m going to pull it out,’ He warns, and you brace yourself. ‘In three—’ He yanks it out in a quick movement before finishing his countdown, and a string of vicious curses leave your lips in a cry of pain.
‘You—You b—’ The insult is never heard, because it is replaced by a hiss as Levi passes wet cloths over your torn skin, mopping up the blood that has pooled in the recesses of your back and begun to drip down your sides, staining the bedsheets with crimson splatters. You settle for demanding, ‘Why are you doing this? Why can’t it be Hanji or a proper doctor?’
He responds by dripping disinfectant right into a cut, which consequently makes your back arch in pain. You would have sworn at him, but the way he gently presses a soothing wet cloth onto the same place gives you the hopeful and heartwarming idea that he actually regrets it.
‘Everyone else is busy,’ he says flatly, and dabs at your back with a towel now that the blood is mostly gone. ‘And I’m not incapable of pulling metal out of my squad member’s back,’ he adds, his tone laced with a defensive air.
‘Not sure I want you to bandage me though,’ You chuckled, looking at him sideways from where your cheek rests on the soft white pillow. Levi pulls out several rolls of bandages and glares at you. ‘It’s going to take you hours to get them all lined up perfectly on my back, and make sure no icky blood is seeping through,’ you tease gently, having managed to lighten the originally somber mood.
‘Shut up.’ And with another glare, you stay quiet as he lays gauze down on your back before carefully wrapping the rolls of bandages around it and your torso, starting at your lower back and making his way up. He let you briefly take over when he got to your chest, but otherwise it went smoothly, faint winces and hisses the only interruptions.
You once again lay the side of your face against Levi’s pillow, and slowly breathe in his scent, which has clung faintly to the cotton fabric. It smells of soap and fresh paper and blood, a not distinctly cheerful smell, but one you had come to associate with peace and safety over the last couple of years. Your eyes open as the click of Levi’s boots against the floor comes within earshot, and he appears around the bathroom door.
‘Oi,’ he says. ‘You need to get up. I have to clean the sheets before you get them any dirtier.’
‘Where is the logic?’ You ask in a modest drawl, knowing you really shouldn’t be talking back, but unable to help yourself in your situation. ‘I’ll just get the clean ones dirty too.’
He walks forward to stand beside your head, and when you look up, he’s glowering down at you like a demon straight from the seventh circle of hell.
‘Fine, I’m getting up,’ you muttered. You splayed your hands flat on the bed and pushed your body upwards—but this caused the muscles of your shoulders, then of your back, to ripple, and a sharp jolt of pain rocked through your body like a shock of lightning. When the room spins back into focus, you’re back on your stomach and looking sideways into Levi’s concerned grey eyes.
‘Sorry,’ you manage to murmur, but he merely blinks away your apology, rising from his crouch to sit back down on the edge of the bed.
‘Just go to sleep, idiot,’ he sighs resignedly, his apathetic eyes blinking at you sleepily. It was then that you realised how tired he must be, after the three-day expedition and then his all-nighter watching over you in the cart on the way back to the safety of the wall. ‘I’ll see you in the morning.’
‘You’re staying?’ You ask sluggishly, realising that the glass of water he'd made you drink not ten minutes ago must have been laced with a heavy painkiller. He nods in reply, and a cool feeling of security washes over you as your eyes slide shut, a small smile playing faintly on your lips.
When he’s sure you are deeply lost in a world a million miles away, Levi lets his mask shatter. Steel grey eyes cloud with worry and relief as he inches closer to your delicate form. Fragile in this state, but Levi knew how strong you really were. It was one of the reasons you had first caught his attention.
His hand curls loosely around your elbow, your arms bent at angles beneath your pillow, and the fingers of his other slip easily beneath the locks of hair at the back of your head to rest on your neck, several of the dirtied tresses still caught between his digits.
Slowly, he leans forward and lightly rests his forehead against your shoulder, where there are no bandages and his thin dark hair openly tickles the bare skin. He exhales your name as a breath on his lips, the voiceless whisper betraying two years of his love for you, the love you had both been forced to keep only between yourselves and behind closed doors.
‘Don’t ever do this to me,’ he finds himself whispering desperately, a tone he has never used before today. The fingers on your arm harden, and his features tighten in unexpressed pain as his eyes shut, before he whispers once more. ‘Don’t you ever do this to me again.’
The only response he gets is the soft exhale of breath from your parted lips, but that is enough for him. He lifts his head from your shoulder, and, removing his hands, he carefully climbs over your slumbering form to lay down by your side. His head rests on the neighbouring pillow and he blinks slowly, eyes on the back of your head. Almost as though you could sense him, your breathing hitches in your sleep, and you turn your head the other way with a pout on your lips before settling back into a steady breathing pattern.
In the semi-darkness, the corners of Levi’s lips quirk upwards in the ghost of a smile at your peaceful features.
Reaching over to find your hand, Levi slips his fingers in the gaps between yours, linking your hands together beneath your pillow. And as he shuts his eyes, fingers tightening protectively on yours, he feels you squeeze back.
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"I think writer’s block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible. But as a writer, I believe that if you sit down at the keys long enough, sooner or later something will come out." - Roy Blount, Jr.
Attack on Titan (c) Hajime Isayama
Story (c) Me
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