Ch.14 Violent Crimes
Chapter 14 of Cherry
A/N: you guys will love the ending of this chapter ;)
Warning- ANGST, LONG CHAPTER! Violence, talks of blood, light gore and death, fluff, swearing, SLOWBURN.
Pairing- Jean Kirstein x reader
(Let me know if you want to be tagged)
Every year. On the same day, Kenny would travel underground, go to the same ceiling, across the same house. It was only his third time coming, but he hasn’t forgotten and he was never late. He told himself that he’d never look back, he’d leave you on Levi’s doorstep and just forget that he ever had a kid, but then your fourth birthday rolled around, the first birthday you didn’t spend with him and he needed to check.
All he wanted to know was if you were alive, he trusted Levi, he knew you were better off, but he couldn’t shake off that voice in his head nagging him just to get a little peek. He just needed to assure himself of two things; one that you were okay. After all, having you dead would be a waste of an offspring, or at least that’s what he always tried to tell himself.
Kenny also never made it his job to stick around for too long. He always made sure to stay hidden and not followed. He only stayed long enough to get a glimpse, like now, when he caught the glimpse of a yellow light shining out of the opening door from the house he was watching, Kenny caught two people walking out the house; Levi, looking just as small and exhausted, and you. You looked a bit taller now since the last time Kenny came to see you for your fifth birthday, your face was clean and your cheeks were full, you sported a nice pretty white dress, your hair was neatly done and out of your face, and you sported a smile, just as nice as the last three times.
That’s all he needed to see. As for his second reason to check on you, well….perhaps it was too early to tell at the moment. But still, he needed to check.
But the longer he looked, the more he noticed. Like now, he saw your lips moving as you were running off about something he couldn’t hear, something Levi seemed to be hearing all the way through. What could a six year old possibly be rambling about, Kenny had to wonder.
Their imaginary friend? The way their fruit is cut? Their day to day life?
Nevertheless, he backed away before anyone could see him from down below and walked the opposite way of Levi’s house, the same way he had taken when he left you behind. He left with an unbroken rule. Besides staying hidden amongst the shadows, not approaching you was his other priority. Not like he could, you actually were never alone for him to even try. All he did was watch quietly from afar, never for too long, never caught, always once a year for the next six years. He never intended to stop, it had become a yearly routine he had gotten used to. But when he returned to his same spot the seventh time, for your tenth birthday, neither Levi, nor you came out of the house that day.
Kenny stuck around all day just to catch that glimpse, but you never came out of the house, he even dared himself to go get a discreet peek from the outside, but the house was dark, it wasn’t empty, just dark. Kenny later found out from the neighbor that you, alongside Levi and your housemates had moved above ground. Unknowingly making his sixth visit the last time he saw you. It was just too big above ground to try and look for you. All he could do from now on was finally leave you be, assure to himself that you were better off above ground now. He didn’t know when he’d see you again, perhaps never again. It was the perfect chance to finally forget about you like he had planned to do before.
But there was that pesky second reason why he always returned, why he never forgot to go see you from afar. The reason seemed senseless now since you were gone and he wasn’t able to see you. But all he could was hope now, even if he didn’t want to, he hoped for only one thing.
“Let’s put all together,” Hange began to say, their voice traveling out from the carriage they were laying on because of the wound on their shoulder. “Basically, Rod Reiss was after the Founding Titan, the Titan power inside Eren. However unless it’s in someone with Reiss blood, you won’t get it’s true potential. Though, even if Reiss obtains the Founding Titans power, they’re controlled by the First Kings will and refuse to liberate humanity from the Titans.”
However crucial the information being shared was, your mind felt like it was ripping in two as it stubbornly refused to stop thinking of the man you had left behind.
Worry plagued you. The question; Did I make the right choice? Was all you could think about the moment you climbed out of the cave and stepped into the starry night. It was doubt, something you hated having. It was the regret that Levi has always warned you about.
“…You’re forgetting our other option...” Historias protest traveled through your ear, pulling half of your attention back to the conversation, and connecting her answer to Erens eager response to give himself up to awaken Rod Reiss' human form for the sake of saving humanity—Suicidal Maniac. “First of all, the current plan is full of flaws. One, there’s no proof that you can undo Rod Reiss’ brainwashing. No matter how you restrain him, if he alters humanity’s memories, it’s over. Basically, there’s too many factors about the Founding Titan that we just don’t know.”
I hope he’s alright—your eyes followed the people talking, but your mind was yanked back to the battle that tried to keep your concern and regret your top priority. Or was it guilt? Guilt for cutting Kenny’s side.
It was all three emotions jumbled into one.
“…Right.” Mikasa’s words, like Historia’s voice before, managed to yank your attention back to focus on what you should truly be listening to, gaining advantage over your inner attentive battle. “Even without having Reiss Blood, there must be a way to save humanity. That’s why he left you the key to the basement.” Like before, you managed to connect her words to pieces of information your mind had thrown in while you were busy thinking of something else.
Now, Eren didn’t have to give himself up to the jaws of Rod Reiss’s titan. The plan he thought of was too risky, it’d be like going in blind. It would make the efforts his own father had made to take the power away from the Reiss family tyranny, pointless if given back. The better option to try and save humanity was to keep it with Eren, even if the question as to how exactly do you save humanity lingered. Hopefully what was hidden inside the infamous basement was going to be worth the risk you knew you’d all take.
“What basement?” Sasha quieres, her own mind answering for someone else. “Oh, that whole thing? You mean it’s actually important?”
“Uh, yeah.” Connie answers.
“We’ve finally got a way to plug up the wall.” Jean interjects. “The way I see it, there’s only one choice.”
“That makes life a little easier.” Levi says.
“If it means anything,” Hange chimes in, “I agree with that choice. Though, are you sure about this Historia? We can’t exactly have a Titan like that wandering around inside the walls. One that big, we can’t restrain. Meaning,” they point to the burning titan destroying everything in its path several feet beside your group. “We’ll have to kill your father and there’s no way around it.”
Suddenly with that comment, your mind fully focused on the conversation. The worry still lingered, but now you weren’t being pulled between the two sides trying to win your attention like a game of tug-o-war.
“Eren,” Historia spoke after a few minutes of silence. “I’m sorry. Underneath the Reiss chapel. I really considered becoming a Titan and killing you.”
Your eyes widen just slightly and you can’t help but glance at Mikasa, seeing her own baffled reaction to Historia’s truth.
“What’s more,” Historia continued. “Not even to save humanity. Only because I wanted to believe my father. I didn’t want my father to hate me. But now, it’s time to say goodbye.” She finishes confidently, making you wonder how it was so easy for her to give up on her father like that.
Your gaze drops to your hands around your reins and you can’t help the probing question, why can’t it be that easy for you? Both Kenny and Rod had left. They both didn’t care for their daughters. They both weren’t good people. Kenny especially. It should be so easy trying to forget him, trying to go against him and unlatch from this attachment…but why? Why can’t you?
Guilt maybe? You hoped that’s all it was.
“You made the right choice,” Mikasa spoke as she walked up behind you, her words filling the silence that had your mind spinning and had your attention unfocused from the brown pair of eyes that watched you two horses down, itching to reach you to express what he’s been wanting to say. But again, Mikasa beat him to his words. He never thought that the person he’d have to fight to gain your attention was your own cousin. “Being a Scout comes first. What you did had to be done. It's your job.”
You slide your hand to your horse's neck and drop your gaze to the stone floor. “Yeah,” you exhale out. “I know.” She was right. You didn’t want to admit it, but she was. That was why you chose to come, because it was your duty, because if anything happened to anyone, you'd only regret it more. Still, that didn't do anything to keep away the worry, or the guilt. You still regretted actually not looking for Kenny. It’s what drove you to seek for some clarity. “Tell me,” you mutter, “would you have done the same thing if he was your father? Hurt him I mean.”
Mikasa’s shadow overcast over your own figure's shadow when she stops just a couple inches behind you. Maybe it was dumb asking someone whos lost a father, a good father by the little you’ve heard her talk about him, but you needed to hear someone else’s presptive, someone’s honesty. You've never known her to be a liar, so you hoped she was the right choice. “If it came down to it….yes…” She’s hesitant, you can tell by the way her tone lowered and the way she slowly spoke her response. It only made your doubt heighten. “…Because I know if something worse would’ve happened because I didn’t do anything to stop him, I’d regret it more.”
But your actions were from a fit of rage and betrayal. You weren’t even thinking that far ahead at that time.
“Whatever happened in there y/n,” Mikasa continues. “It wasn’t your fault. You shouldn’t feel guilty. Understand that.”
You sigh and drop your hand off your horse's neck and begin to fiddle with your fingers, answering with silence but nodding in agreement even if you didn’t truly agree. Her opinion was still helpful nonetheless. Even with her hesitance.
“Come on,” she points out. “It seems they’re grouping over here.” She waits behind you to follow you to the gathering group by the carriage Historia had been on.
“Historia.” Levi says, “forgot to tell you. We need you to do something.”
“Yes?” Said girl answers while Mikasa and you fall behind Levi.
“Erwins orders. When this battle is over since you’re the true successor to the throne,” Levi continues to explain. “Become Queen.”
You blink in disbelief to Levi’s suggestion—no his demand. “The Coup d’état was successful, but the people won’t follow a regiment sitting at the top. What we need is a story to spread. That true heir retook the crown from the fake.”
“I,” Historia mumbles, pausing and getting lost in thought to the news just thrown at her, letting others express their own disapproving thoughts to something significant.
“Uhm, Captain?” Connie cautiously spoke his mind. “I’m sure you heard what Historia said earlier, but. Well, uh. By leaving her father, she really broke free from that burden, I guess you could say…and yet again…”
“What?” Levi demanded clarity. “If you have something to say, say it.”
“Uh, Uhmm. I-in other words…”
“What Connie's trying to say,” you blurt and continue for your friend, gaining every pair of nervous gaze from your friends, and an attentive look from Levi as he turns to face you. “Historia broke free from the Reiss family and has finally found herself. And now you guys are forcing her into another role?” Perhaps you were upset for the way he had so rudely spoken to you before, maybe you should be more hesitant to speak so boldly to him about a choice that wasn’t even yours, but Historia was a dear friend. You needed to speak for her. “Isn’t that unfair?” You quirk your eyebrow and cross your arms over your chest.
“All right,” Historia interrupted before Levi could answer, her response making your eyes snap to her and causing your face to express your utter disbelief. “My next duty is to be Queen, right? Understood.” She lifts her eyes from the ground and meets your gaze along with those friends beside you. “Thanks for your concern. But whether or not it’s forced on me is up to me to decide, I think. However.” She meets Levi’s gaze. “Captain, I do have one condition.”
“Since my fate is on my own, I want to lay it all on the line.” Historia finishes with determination fueled in her eyes. That’s all you could see. Which was good. You admired her for that.
“I hope leaving all the citizens down there is a good choice.” You muse, stepping towards the edge of the wall. No matter how good of a Commander you thought Erwin was, this was definitely one of his bolder choices.
“Are you doubting our Commander?” Jean asks teasingly.
You scoff and lift your gaze to meet his. “No. It’s a hell of a fucking risk. They already hate us as it is.”
“We have no other choice,” Connie reminds you. “We have to leave them if we want the Titan to come here.”
You look away from the ground, and step away from the edge that overlooks the city, after feeling as if the ground hundreds of feet below you spun the longer you kept staring at it. Instead you proceed to answer Connie bluntly as you follow them to the other side of the wall to watch the approaching Titan.
“Right.” The plan. No matter what anyone protested, this Titan was an abnormal attracted to the high volume of human life; which is why he ignored the entire squad when it rode past him. Making the city perfect bait to try and stop it. Still it was a risky fucking plan.
Plus it’s not like soldiers from this side of the wall had any real battle experience. The most they’ve seen is a gang brawl, and the most they know is how to take hush money. You would’ve been better off with a new batch of cadets. That’s so obvious with how unorganized you heard the beat of the cannons every time they were fired.
“The ground cannons seem even less effective,” You hear Erwin comment to Levi standing beside him.
“Of course they are.” Levi deadpanned, “the walls cannons barely hit the nape, even with the better angle. What’s the problem?
“It’s a mishmash of soldiers.” The commander answers. “Cannons they scraped together. Superficial leadership. To top it off, this is a northern region. Unlike troops on the front lines, they have no battle experience. However, this is the best we’re going to get, and that’s a fact.”
“Yeah,” Levi agress, “that much is painfully obvious. Yet again, your strategy for the Scouts boils down to another gamble. Just like everything else you conjure up.”
The closer the Titan got, the more you could see the craters on its body created by the canons that managed to puncture its flesh. Yet none were even close to hitting its nape. The wounds only healed back up. Hopefully the things Hange conjured up with the spares you could see them bring from the corner of your eye, will work—“Erwin! I brought the goodies! All the gunpowder, ropes and netting I could find! We’ll have to assemble it ourselves though.”
You look away from the Titan and watch Hange and her inventions from afar, hearing their voice clearly from the edge you stood by. “Oh and this!” They refer to the barrel strapped to a small carriage and Odm gear. “There’s another on the opposite side. The triggers are held in place so when it’s fired, it’ll wind itself back up just like Odm gear. So, is the artillery doing any damage?”
Levi glances at the scene past the wall and answers with annoyance in his tone. “Slightly more than a pissing insect.”
“Then we’re really planning on using this?” Hange questions and looks to what Levi glares at, missing your step towards her to add some piece of comfort to the situation after your own careful observation now that your mind was distracted by this battle, and not the mental one you pushed aside.
“Actually, your weapons should work.” Hange’s head turns so they could look at you with their widened, curious stare. “The Titans skin isn’t armor, it hasn’t been able to manifest any either…” you trail off as your eyes study that Titan, missing the stares you were now getting as your eyes gleamed with different bouncing theories fueling your brain. “So just like canons, the blades connected to those barrels should hopefully puncture its skin. With a big enough explosion you could hopefully blow it to bits.” You grin slowly. “Like that pumpkin we blew up a couple years ago from the inside!” You realize how you are and clear your throat before looking back at Hange to make yourself clear. “Again. Hopefully.”
The corner of their lips tug into a happy grin and you see they want to add something, but Erwin stops their rambling before he knew they could start. “Levi, Jean, Sasha, Connie….” Erwin looks to you and then looks to Hange slowly inching towards you, deciding that it was better if you weren’t paired up, knowing from experience what happens when you do. “Y/N, take care of that side.”
Without daring to argue against your orders, even if you wanted to because of a specific old man in your group, you had no choice but to listen and follow your friends to your given location.
“So Cherry.” Sasha says when you catch up to her side. “Back in that cave.” A mischievous smirk slowly pulls on her lips and her big brown eyes meet Connie’s to share a quick snicker before focusing back on you. “That tall man with the cool hat and the beard was your dad?”
Great. Just when you managed to stop thinking about him, she brings him up.
“Uh,” You hum hesitantly. “Yes. Why?”
“Oh….Nothing.” Sasha quickens her step to walk ahead of you to hide her growing smirk, nothing about this sudden question making you drop the subject. You only fall beside her to continue probing.
“Why?” You narrow your gaze on her. “Sasha?”
“I see it.” She says, making your eyebrows furrow deeper in confusion. “The similarities.”
You scoff as you all finally come to a stop, “similarities? You saw him for what? A max of a few seconds. You couldn’t have possibly seen anything.”
Sasha grabs a barrel off the ground and turns slowly, peeking her head past the side of the barrel and studying your face for a second before smiling. “There! That look! The scary look!”
Levi takes his own curious peek your way, stealing a lingering glance to study your face before letting his eyes get lost on the smokey horizon ahead to recall Kenny’s own face. He didn’t see it at first, but when he saw how your lip curled and your gaze pierced into the brunette, there it was, the similarities in the glares. How could he have not seen before? Then again Isabel had always told him she saw similarities between you and him. So he never thought much of it. Until now.
“Don’t ya think, Connie?” Sasha shoves the barrel in Jean's hands and grabs your chin to turn your face so Connie could see. “Didn't I tell ya?”
Said boy also begins to study your face as if it were some important expedition plan he needed to memorize. It was unnecessary, which is why you quickly pulled away from Sashas grip—not like it worked. “I don’t think so. Y/N isn’t scary. She’s like a kitten compared to her dad.”
“Tsk. Stop talking,” you grumble. “And get to work.” You shove past them and grab a piece of rope to tie it around the barrel Jean set on the carriage, noticing from the corner of your eye how Levi kept glancing your way. Most likely out of guilt. That’s what you hoped. Then again he was being honest before. Harsh, but honest in his way. He was just trying to snap you back to your task.
Still that didn’t take away from how he yelled at you in front of everyone. Yes you’ve seen him lose his temper once in a while, but it was so rare when he lost it like that with you. It always scared you, it would’ve made you cry when you were younger, but now it just pissed you off. The way he stopped you pissed you off, didn’t he always say you were free to make your own choices as long as you wouldn't regret them? It’s not like you were going to run away with Kenny. You just needed to make sure he was alright after what you did, after the cave collapsed. You wanted answers to what you were still scared to even learn. Didn’t Levi know that? Wasn’t it so obvious?
“Aren't you the same person that thought that the Captain was y/n’s father just last night?” Jean points out to Sasha, breaking you from your train of thought. “How are you saying this now?”
“Well,” Sasha shrugs. “Ever since I heard the old man was her actual father, I—”
You cut her off in a venomous tone, “If you don’t stop talking about my father, you’ll find yourselves accidentally pushed off this wall.” You sneer through gritted teeth whilst you walk to the end of Hange’s weapon to make sure the triggers worked.
“You wouldn't dare.” Connie snaps. “You’d get caught.”
You look up at him and slightly tilt your head as a faint, smug smirk tugs on your lips. “Never said I’d push you did I? I said “accidently”.” Your smirk widens, making Sasha's eyes bulge as she seems to be filled with more excitement at the way you just proved her right.
“If the four of you don’t focus,” Levi interjects after he secures the weapon. “You'll find yourselves cleaning horse shit instead.”
Neither of you say a word after Levi’s threat, you just finish the weapon and share silent knowing looks before you walk to the wall's edge as the Titan finally reaches the wall. And once it is close, they once again shoot the cannons at its nape, managing to stop its movements and ripping the flesh from the nape. But the moment it seems to give the right opportunity to finish it, the Titan shoots a wave of hot steam out of its body. It’s not strong enough to blow you away, and it’s hot enough to burn, but the heat is uncomfortable as it hits your faces, and the steam is thick enough to cover what lay around you, and strong enough to render the canons useless now as it changed the winds direction away from its nape.
All you could feel was the rumbling it’s hands caused as they crashed on the wall to lift himself up to its feet, showing its faceless head, and crater filled body. Through the thick cloud of steam it keeps producing, it causes some of you to miss how it’s guts dropped over the side of walls, almost crushing some soldiers if they hadn’t moved away. Something that none of you missed was it’s deafening roar that finally alerted the citizens below.
Still though you couldn't stand in awe, you all were quick to use the water in the barrels to cool down to continue working. As much as you hated feeling your clothes stick to your body, the cool water was refreshing. Just like the sound of Eren's transformation was too; you never thought that you’d say that, you’d never actually say it outloud, but hearing the lightning and hearing his roar, felt just as relieving as the water splashing over your body and seeing the steam clearing away from the area.
“We’re good to go!” Armin shouted at your side from where he stood, causing Sasha to run forward pushing Hange’s weapon. Waiting however, just like all of you did, for Erwins sign while he lifted his flare into the sky and shouted, “Let the attack….” he paused for a couple seconds and then finished his command with the sign needed. “…Commence!”
After that, both Armin and Sasha, shot the grapple into the Titans hand to send the barrel towards its body to set off the explosions that wounded it just enough for it to lose its balance, and drop its head on the wall. It was just for a few seconds, but it gave Eren the chance while it was dazed and weakly picking its head up, to run forward and throw the explosives Hange had wrapped up like a present, into the Titans mouth. Having the heat it produced set the explosives off inside its body, just like planned.
And perhaps if this was any other day, and you weren’t upset, you’d celebrate with a proud smile, but all you felt when seeing the chunks of flesh shoot off into the sky, was a sense to get this whole thing over with.
“All troops!” Erwin bellowed his command. “Finish it off with ODM gear!”
Without a moment to spare, and with the goal to finish this beaming inside your mind and over the worry that had pestered you before, you shot off into the sky after the pieces of flesh. Doing so felt like the easiest part of this whole thing, afterall, all you did was spin through air and cut the chunks of flesh into pieces to stop it from growing back to its original form. Hoping as well, that one of the flying pieces of flesh was the nape.
Yet, as you swing your blade over a darker piece of flesh in hopes it would be your target, it proved to be nothing but another piece of meat, making you turn around in the sky to face your back to the ground, and bounce your eyes from piece to piece to see if you could find the nape—“for fucks sake,” you breathe out as you study the shape of each one your eyes land on. “Which one—” you cut yourself off the moment your eyes land on a piece blazing red by the steam, and covered in what seemed to be bone, or stone. Whatever it was, that was it. The nape.
You lift your blade, and hover your finger over the gas trigger, but just as you’re about to shoot yourself forward, Historia’s familiar voice calls out to stop you. “Y/N! Wait!” Her eyes meet yours when you turn to face her and you see the same determination from before burning in her eyes. “It’s up to me!”
You offer her a quick understanding nod, and a proud half smile as you stand down and watch instead how she sets after the nape falling down to the ground. Seeing as she pulls her hand back to swing her blade over the nape without hesitation. However, neither of you expect the explosion that set off after she gave the final blow; You only catch a glimpse of Historia falling down toward the ground before the bright light from the explosion temporarily blinds you, and shoots you back. Luckily though, you managed to shoot your grapple into one of the roofs below to keep yourself in the sky before you had the chance to hit the ground. Your vision returned seconds later and that’s when you caught as the pieces of flesh began to vanish. Meaning one thing.
“She did it,” Connie mused loudly beside you. “We’re done.”
Your eyes fall to where Historia landed, and you nod. “It’s over.” You pick up your gaze and glance between Jean and Connie. “Let’s go down.”
Now though, with the Titan dead, something else returned to mind. The pesky regret. Doubt. Worry. It was a pain so obviously expressed on your face now, that it looked almost as if the battle had been lost when the opposite happened. When you should instead be happy that it gave Historia the chance to successfully take her role as Queen and savior. But no matter how hard you tried to force all those pestering, negative feelings away. As much as you wanted to forget what you did just the night before, the memory burned into you more than the steam from the Titan did so you couldn’t and wouldn't forget. Which is why regret overwhelmed and dragged you into a dark never ending pit.
Still you smiled though. Your cheeks hurt with how hard you were forcing it on your lips, but it was easy to fool those around you. After all, the win was a reason to smile. You almost fooled yourself too for a little while; trying to make others believe that you were okay, trying to tell yourself to stay and forget almost worked. However the facade shattered, no matter how hard you tried to convince yourself that everything was fine, a specific piece of news broke all the efforts you tried so hard to keep up. It was unintentional too. They never meant to do such a thing. They actually tried to keep you fooled, but they were easy to read, their own guilt was easy to see through.
“Hange, where's Levi?” You look around them to see if you could spot the small man, but he was nowhere around the barracks, he wasn’t around Erwin, or Hange. “I want to talk to him.”
“Oh,” they mouthed nervously. “Levi. I haven’t seen him.” They meet your gaze but they’re quick to glance away. “Might be sleeping.”
You genuinely laugh and smile. “We’re talking about the same man, yeah? Insomaic Levi?” You narrow your eyes on them and try to read their eyes, but they keep averting them. “Hange? I haven’t seen him since this afternoon. Since a bit after we finished the battle.” Your lips fall to a frown and you step closer towards them now that you feel something irk your bones, they back away, but you catch the sweat beads glisten on their forehead by the light of the yellow sun beams hitting their face. “He’s not here is he?”
Hange nods and tries to follow Levi’s orders to not tell you where he's gone, but it was too late now, they didn’t need to tell you where he was, you knew instantly. He wouldn't leave otherwise. And well he shouldn't have trusted Hange to lie, they couldn’t really lie to you. They always cracked. Which is why surprises never worked as much as they did honestly try. “Cherry. Wait.”
Your frown deepens and you sigh deeply, meeting their pleading gaze with a burning glare not intended at them. “No. I’m going.” You turn on your heels and storm away. “I know where he is.”
In the air the strong smell of smoke still blew around in the slow approaching night air, even hours after the Titan had emerged from underground and demolished everything in its path while it traveled to the wall. The carved out path left the earth ugly, and it unfortunately stretched for miles. Or at least that’s what Levi thought. Perhaps in some ways it could’ve been a beautiful evening, the sun was out and clouds slowly began to invade the sky, but the stench of blood, and the aroma of death made the evening depressing.
Kenny hadn’t died yet, he was close, and even with his heart still fighting to beat, he smelled like a rotting corpse. Why didn’t he die? He already answered Levi’s years long unanswered question, there was no reason for him to fight to be alive, his bleeding wounds and the half of his face that the rubble crushed wouldn't allow him to. Did he really want to live that much? Did he even think of you? His only daughter? Levi had to wonder.
Probably not—if he didn’t care why did he come into your life again? You were a sensitive person, Kenny didn’t know that, but you were, his visit didn’t help that. Is that why he came? To drive you miserable? Actually, if he couldn't be a father, like he said just moments ago after he answered Levi’s question, then why? Why did he have you? Levi needed to ask before he couldn’t.
“Kenny,” Levi muttered, his eyes flickering to the yellow flower beside Kenny’s dying body. “If you couldn’t be anyone’s father, then…why did you have y/n?” His eyes returned to Kenny, and right before he could answer, he laughed, blood spilled out, but he laughed as if the question was humorous.
“Because,” Kenny groaned. “I was selfish.” He swallowed back blood that kept crawling up his throat. “I thought…I could see things like…him. I wanted to be drunk off something too.” Kenny's head drifted down and his eyes fell to the yellow flower beside his withered body. “Maybe she did do something to my cold heart….but I couldn’t be anyone’s father.” The humor that had lingered on his lips disappeared completely and his eyes remained on the flower. “You did a hell of a job though….” Kenny coughs out blood and his head tilts to the other side to look at the case beside him. “Promise me,” he struggled to breathe while he picked up the case. “You won’t let her turn out like me. The world has a habit…of destroying the most precious things.”
With his last breath, his last effort before his heart stopped beating was to shove the case to Levi’s chest. His last words were seeking for a promise born out of a hope he held onto for a long time; that second reason why he always insisted on seeing you all those years ago.
The words surprised Levi, just like Kenny’s death left him in disbelief even if he knew what was coming. He couldn’t find himself being able to move a muscle, he kept the case pressed on his chest whilst his eyes stayed glued on Kenny’s corpse. Did the death of the man that left him affect him this much? He couldn't believe himself, his emotions….and if he felt this way how would—
Just before his mind could finish writing up his question, his train of thought suddenly was broken by the sound of footsteps crashing the earth close by. At first he thought it was the same comrade he had come here with, but when he peeked his eyes over his shoulder and saw you, his whole body stiffened and froze over. It felt like even his breath caught in his throat. He could only move his eyes to study your face, noticing your anger right away, but not noticing sadness or grief. But that was because you hadn’t seen Kenny yet, Levi’s crouched body covered the truth.
“Levi, why didn’t you tell me?!” You instantly asked in a furious tone. “Why did you make Hange lie for you?” You stomp towards him, and he remains crouched. “Why did you lie to me about coming here?” You demanded answers and he remained mute, his eyes now on the ground. You proceeded to get closer and that was when he was quick to stand up to try and hide Kenny’s body from you, but it was in that slight movement as he stood up and his cloak moved to the side, that you caught a glimpse of Kenny’s body leaning on the tree.
The anger that had burned furiously in your eyes completely went out and was replaced with that sorrow Levi had searched for when you got here. Did you really love this man so much? He couldn’t help but wonder. It was such a petty, poisonous thought at a time like this, but he couldn’t help it, not when you looked like someone had ripped your heart from your chest.
“Did,” you mumble, your voice quivering and your feet glued to the same spot. “Did I? Did he,” you gasp for air and feel your legs begin to shake as they want to collapse. “Did he die because of me?” You ripped your eyes from Kenny’s body and looked at Levi with a watery gaze. “Levi?”
Said man stepped towards you and his eyes held your gaze as he shook his head and parted his lips to answer your heavy question. “No. Don’t you see?” He moved slightly to let Kenny’s body be more visible to you, so you could see the truth. “The rubble caught him. That killed him.”
“But,” you mutter while your eyes spot the dark blood stained on Kenny’s hand, a thick liquid that still leaked through his shirt from where your blade had cut his flesh, and something that spilled from the half of his face that lacked skin. “He’s bleeding….Levi,” again you look at him with a pleading gaze. “I,” you breathe out shakily, feeling your throat burn with the need to cry as you hold back from doing so. “I,” you clutch onto your chest as you feel it tighten because of the confusion that overwhelmed your head, the anguish that stabbed your heart and the anger that boiled deep within you.
Levi sees the pain so easily expressed in your eyes, through the tears you tried so hard to fight off, he wanted to try and at least comfort you. But when he tried putting his hand on your shoulder, he felt the sting on his skin of your hand slapping his away right before you turned your body to storm off without a word. Leaving Levi standing there now in more disbelief than ever before.
However rather than getting on your horse and riding back home, you walk towards the sunset and sit on the edge of the broken ground caused by the Titan. Instead of crying like you thought you would, you sit with your eyes dry to watch how the beams of sunlight from the yellow-orange sunset reflected on the crystal cave that you sat over, making it glimmer beautifully. Even through the destruction, and even through the sadness weighing down your already wounded heart, the beauty of the earth above ground never failed to capture your eye—I wish he could’ve seen that. Seen this, before his dying breath. Why did he have to die before I came—“I still had so many questions,” you whisper to yourself outloud before you drag your legs back to pull your knees to your chest.
The air smelled sweet; like the sea of green grass around, like flowers from the yellow flowers scattered around you. The air smelled bitter; like the rain that was brewing in the approaching clouds. The smell of fresh air was soothing and helped calm your thoughts, it returned your regret as well; something more heightened than ever. Now all you could think about while you watched the sun disappear, was how if you left to search for Kenny like you wanted, then maybe, just maybe you could’ve helped him enough to save him. He wouldn't be dead because of what you did.
And it’s not like you wanted to save him because you’d miss him after his death, he was never in your life in the first place. Perhaps you did have some love for him, naively so, but losing him wasn’t what compelelty crushed you. What left you in anguish was the questions he would leave unanswered, the question you had been afraid to ask before, the question as to why he left you? Did he actually love you? You needed to know…but now you couldn’t ever hear an answer. Now you’d regret not coming after him.
You exhale deeply and keep your eyes on the horizon, keep watching the glimmer from the crystal until your eyes bask in the darkness of the night. That’s when you proceed to wrap your hands around your legs and rest your head on your knees until the sound of Levi’s voice breaks through the silence. “The grave is dug if you want to bury him.”
You sit still and let silence wrap around you both until you could bring yourself to speak quietly. “I’m sorry you lost him too. He must’ve been important to you too.” You swallow thickly and pick up your head from your knees to watch the clouds hide the stars in the sky. “I would’ve understood you wanting time alone with him, but what I don’t understand is you lying to me about coming here. About coming to find him. I know you keep things from me, but…he was my father. I think I deserved to at least know you wanted to look for him. A passing comment, anything. I deserved to make that choice of coming with you or not at the end.”
Levi’s feet shift on the ground and a sigh leaves his lips before he answers in his usual calm voice. Even after you declined his attempt at comfort. “What did you expect to see, hmm? Kenny suddenly healed?” Levi steps closer towards you, hearing you sigh and seeing you shake your head. “Then? Nothing would've changed his fate. No matter if you came to look for him when you wanted, or if you came with me now.”
“I could’ve tried something,” you try to desperately prove him wrong. “If I looked for him before. If I got here before.” Your eyes fill with tears but you hold yourself back. “He could’ve lived. You don’t know that.”
“And what then?” Levi remarked, “he gets to live to leave you again?” He didn’t mean to be so harsh, but he wanted you to see the truth, he wanted you to not regret your choices. But it was too late for that.
You hug your knees tighter at the sound of his words and shrug. “At least he would’ve lived. At least I could’ve had the chance to ask him questions I wanted answers for.” You sniffle and drop your eyes from the sky. “Like what I did wrong to make him leave me.” Your throat burns and you try to fight the tears that clouded your vision, but they quickly escape your eyes this time.
Levi gasped softly at your comment and once again he remained still. His lips parted and he found himself not knowing what to do. He saw that you needed to be comforted again, but he knew you were angry at him for lying about coming here. You’d reject him again. Which is why he gave you space instead. He thought that’s what you wanted.
And yes, you were angry at him, but only because he lied. You understood why he was strict when you were in the cave, so you weren’t angry at that. Actually your anger didn’t matter right now. Right now you just needed him to comfort you, you just wanted to hear that he wouldn't leave you like Kenny did. You needed him more than ever, but he never reached over to hug your trembling body.
That only made you more upset. Not angry, just upset. More than Kenny’s death. More than burying his body ever did. You knew Levi wasn’t a person who showered you with affection, but you just needed something. A squeeze on your shoulder, a gentle stroke on your cheek, a half hug, or just simple words saying, it will be okay. But you got nothing from him.
His lack of affection turned the night bitterly cold. No matter how tight you hugged the cloak over yourself, the warmth didn’t comfort your body. It’s a chill that you could feel even in your bones. You thought that walking inside the barracks after returning would provide warmth, but the chill kept your body trembling. You were prepared to just sleep it off, or at least try to, but when you stepped inside the hall that led to the girl bunks after taking the long way from the stables to avoid walking beside Levi, there was a person who stood in the way of you going to cry in the comfort of your own bed.
“Jean,” you mutter in surprise, seeing said boy stumble to his feet after seeing you. “What are you doing here at this time?” You glance to where he was seated to check for anything that’d make him be here, but his spot was clean beside the lamp that was set in the middle, providing a soft hue to the entire hall. “Are you okay?”
Jean nods, showing nonchalance even after you caught him in the hall alone. “I’m fine. Where have you been? You were gone for a long time. I thought you ran off.”
You feign a smile and shake your head. “No, I just went out with Levi.” Without pouring out any of your troubles, you just avoid talking about what happened so as to not annoy him. “You haven’t answered my question, what are you doing here? It’s late, shouldn’t you be asleep?” You suddenly smirk at an incoming thought, “or did I interrupt a secret meeting you were gonna have with someone?”
Jean scoffs and averts his gaze as he shakes his head at your comment. “No. Why would I do that?”
You shrug, “because boys have urges. I don’t know, you tell me.”
Jean answers with silence, even if your comment sounded stupid he couldn’t answer with something witty, at least not today. Rather he tries to meet your gaze, but just the slightest glimpse at you waiting for his answer makes him nervous. “I was just here to…” he hesitates, but you don’t catch it. “I was waiting for you.”
Your lips part and you can’t help but blink in disbelief. Words can’t even form in your mouth, deep breaths of air is all you could express. It sounded ridiculous, you might even look it, but his answer just left you speechless, it…made your heart flutter. When you could form words, all you could whisper out was, “why?”
“Hange said where you went when I asked about you after dinner,” Jean shrugs, his eyes slowly meeting yours. “I thought I’d wait to hear what you got yourself into.” His cheeks burn a hot red tint he thought embarrassing, mostly because he thought that you would find it funny. But all you could think about was how happy him waiting for you made you feel, no matter how lame his excuse was. Even if you didn’t want to bore him with all your troubles that just happened, and you had no clue why he would bother staying up, knowing he stayed up late made your heart fill with a warm feeling.
“Thank you,” you genuinely smile and try to lie. “But I’m okay, really. I mean,” you exhale and avert your gaze to your fiddling fingers. “It’s like you said, right? Why should I care about someone who never tried to be my dad.” Your bottom lip trembles and the smile you had offered him dropped to a frown. “He’s gone, so now I won’t have to stress about him. I can’t miss someone who was never here.” Your eyes meet Jean's gaze and you just try to shrug off what completely crushed your heart. “Thanks for staying up. It was sweet.”
You duck your head and try to speed off to your room, but Jean quickly catches your wrist and keeps you beside him so he could continue. “Yeah, it’s weird that you’re crying over someone who was never there for you, but he was still your father.” His grip around your wrists loosens and his voice softens. “It’s okay to grieve.”
“It’s just,” your voice quivers as you speak to the darkness lurking in the hall in front of you, “I could’ve saved him, you know. If I went to look for him like I planned, he could be alive…even if he would’ve left after. But now he's dead because of me.” You turn to face Jean, catching his eyes shine a lighter tint of brown as the lamps fire reflected on them. “I couldn’t even ask him why he left me…” you pause and let out a shaky breath, feeling like someone kept tightening their fist around your throat the longer you kept from crying. “What did I do wrong?”
Jeans lips parted in surprise and his hand slipped from your wrist, he couldn’t believe the words that came out of your lips. Did you really think you did something wrong? You were just a child. Kenny was the bad person for leaving you, for hurting you this way. Jean couldn’t believe you thought that way, it had to be a lie, some joke. But when he studied your face and saw the sad frown on your lips, the tears drowning your eyes as you held them back, he could clearly see your anguish and the sadness for something you shouldn’t be questioning.
And he hated seeing it, your pain. He felt like he wanted to shield you from ever feeling it again, it was impossible, he knew, but he’d do anything to have that control. All he could attempt to do to ease that pain, was let his arms wrap around your neck and press your body close to his. This time he didn’t need you to ask for a embrace, he just did it and it left you stunned.
Jean's sudden actions dried your tears, and stiffened your body for the few seconds you needed to recuperate and take in that he was hugging you. It was such a long moment that he was ready to pull away and quickly excuse his actions, but before he could step away, you slowly lifted your arms to gently wrap them under his arms and return his hug.
Now all you could think about was how his embrace made you feel assured and how it thawed away the coldness that had your body freezing. You could cry—sob now that you felt secured, but you still didn’t let yourself cry. You fought your tears and kept your eyes dry, instead you basked in the feeling of his thumb slowly stroking the back of your neck; it was soothing, you could fall asleep in his arms by how hypnotic the feeling felt. You thought your heart would race and he’d feel its thumping vibrations by how close he was pressed to your chest, but you felt calm. No pain, he eased that too, you just felt comfort.
Could you stay this way forever?
No. That was weird, he’s your friend—but you can’t help but get drunk by that question.
“Y/N,” Jean says by your ear, “It’s not your fault. Kenny’s death isn’t your fault. You did what had to be done. You left the cave because it was your job. If you hadn’t you would have regretted it more. Besides,” he breathes out, “nothing would've changed his fate. Or yours. He left you, it’s sad, but it’s done. Nothing you can do about it now but move on. Understand that.”
You rest your head on his shoulder and ball the material of his shirt in your fists. You nod in agreement to the truth he shared, even if he wasn’t asking, you nodded to something you needed to hear. It didn’t mean it stopped you from hurting though, but his words did help the conflict within you. Knowing Jean stayed behind just to talk to you, feeling his arms secured around you, made your heart happy and it set an assurance over you that Levi had failed to do. And no matter what you still had to process, you needed to tell Jean some part of that—“thank you, for staying up,” you whisper softly against his shoulder. “I’m really happy you did.” You smile softly. “It means so much to me, Jean. Thank you.”
The day after Kenny’s death and Historia’s win over the Titan that terrorized the wall, came her coronation. It was a quick matter because the people had “no one” to rule them—how could they possibly live that way?
Regardless, surprisingly the people loved the young Queen that suddenly came out of the shadows, people crowded the streets just to watch the crown being placed on her golden head. It was surreal too, you did have to admit, there was just a majestic beauty in watching such a royal event, it was like something out of the books you read. Historia herself looked like some goddess you could never meet and only admire from afar, she seemed like a glowing illusion on that stand. But when she came down and joined you all on the ground again, she was just simply Historia. No glowing goddess, just a friend, a comrade and a simple girl.
A scared and troubled girl that is.
“Hold on…you’re seriously doing it, Historia?” Eren protested for the hundredth time as she, and the rest of your close friends walked down the castle halls after her coronation.
Historia’s hands clenched to fists and she nodded confidently, even if her eyes told a different story. “Yeah, I am.”
“Mikasa was just joking about it! Right, Mikasa?” Eren looked at said girl.
“After you smack him, tell him this.” Mikasa contradicted Eren. “I dare you to hit me back.”
“Damn you,” Eren groaned, his eyes shifting to you to plead for your help instead. “Y/N, you think this is wrong right? I mean he’s your…he’s basically your dad! You can’t let it happen.”
You scoff and wave off his comment, instead you slap your hand on Historia’s shoulder and grin to counter Erens plea. “Do it Historia. Let this be your first act as Queen, he deserves it. Trust me he won’t do anything back.”
Eren glares at you and scoffs, “damn you too.” He looks at Historia again and continues, “it’s not a real grudge, just forget it.”
“If I can't do this, how can I call myself Queen?” Historia remarks.
You smile wider and pull your hand off the girl's shoulder to glance at Jean chiming in beside you. “Hell yeah, Historia. That’s the spirit!”
When your eyes shift to look ahead of you, you, like everyone else, spot the man you were talking about standing in front of a window that shined in the bright sunlight that casted Levi in a cold shadow. When he spotted you all coming to a stop near him, he stepped in the middle of your group's path, with his face nonchalant, hiding what he could be feeling at the moment. A fact that only made Historia’s attempt that more exciting.
Honestly, you didn’t think she’d actually do it, considering she looked like she was gonna shit herself, but Historia ended up surprising you. Before Eren could talk her out of it, she proceeded to let out an encouraged shout and sprinted forward, towards Levi with her fist tightly balled up. Said man saw her intentions and shifted his body to the side so when the girls fist made contact, the impact would hit his arm. Ultimately though not causing him an ounce of pain or a reaction right away. The only people who reacted right away, were your friends who exclaimed in surprise and excitement, while Mikasa and you smiled, and Historia cheered at her own accomplishment.
“How’d you like that?” Historia remarked smugly with a bright grin. “I’m the Queen! If you got a problem—”
Before Historia could finish her practiced remark, her words came to a sudden halt as Levi’s late reaction baffled everyone. Rather than being angry, or remarking bitterly, Levi laughed and smiled softly before speaking in a soft tone. “Thank you…all of you. I needed that.”
It was such a simple expression, but it was something rare for everyone to see, you were even left a bit surprised, and you’ve seen him smile multiple times. His smile was also something so contagious, at least to you it was, everyone else…well they looked like they saw a ghost, or saw a miracle happen. You couldn’t help but beam like a happy child at his reaction. But it was such a short lived reaction because then all you felt was remorse for not considering his own feelings yesterday, for being mad at him for lying.
Deep within the piling layers of your own shame, you still did seek an apology for how hurt Levi lying made you feel, because it was something he didn’t do. But you being hurt by it felt wrong now, petty, stupid. How could you be so cold and careless?
I need to apologize—you think to yourself. Yet when you return your gaze to him, his back is facing you, and he’s walking far ahead now that the group scattered because of how speechless they were by him smiling. It felt like he was hundreds of miles out of your reach, even more so when Jean interrupted your attempts and broke you from your racing thoughts. “Hey can we talk?”
You snap your eyes to look at him, filing now with instant curiosity, and managing to shove aside your doubt and worry for now because of how nervous and scared he looked—“of course.”
Jean exhales with relief and points his head to the hall past the long, elegant white and gold doors. “Come on. This way.” He wants to grab your arm, but when he lifts his hand to do so, he quickly drops it and just walks ahead of you to guide you further away from your friends. And since you couldn’t see him because he chose to walk ahead, at quick speed you might add, you missed the beads of sweat rolling off his forehead, his growing blush on his cheeks and the nervous and scared look expressed in his light brown eyes.
What you could see and note, was how his fists were very tightly clenched, and how deep and quick his back was falling with his heavy but quick breaths; still you didn’t want to point it out. Instead you just spoke up lightheartedly. “So what is that you want to talk about, hmm? You gonna propose to me?” You tease with a soft laugh. “We’re gonna go from best friends to super friends?” You grin brightly and ramble on. “I’ll say I’ll become that with you only if we make a blood pact like in that book I’m rereading. But I am surprised you want to be that, I always thought you liked Marco better than me. I’m surprised you’re actually still friends with me now that he's gone. Not that I mind us staying close that is.”
Jean processes everything that comes out of your mouth, but he doesn’t respond to any of your comments at the moment. He keeps his mind focused on what he was planning to say and reveal to you, he couldn’t lose the courage he’d built just to pull you away privately. He was going to go back to what you said though, just not right now. Right now he just needed to take advantage that it was a good day to confess his feelings towards you.
“Out here,” Jean says as he opens the balcony doors to let you walk out first, his eyes averting yours until you both stand in front of one another beside the stone railing. In that exact moment where he faces you with his troubled look, is when you drop your smile and look at him with concern instead.
“Jean, are you okay?” You ask and step towards him. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s just,” Jean swallows thickly, his eyes meeting yours for a brief second before he couldn't handle seeing anymore of your sweet concerned gaze. Even being close to you to the point he could feel the warmth from your body radiate off you felt more nerve wracking, he could melt or just run away. “I-I…I wanted to tell you that I…”
Jean stops and clenches one fist tighter, to the point his palm hurts with how deep his nails dug into his skin, whilst he uses his other hand to scratch the back of his head after he ducked it to keep avoiding your gaze. He tried to meet your gaze again but his heart only raced faster. He just felt so incredibly nervous looking at you no matter how many times his eyes had met yours throughout the years. It’s just that this time was different because he was putting your friendship that he valued so much, on the line.
Still though. He can’t help but ask himself how one person can make him so nervous? He felt kind of intimidated being so close to you. Unlike last night, he didn't have the courage to be so brave and say what was on his mind. Not with how beautiful he thought you looked under the sun's soft light. Not with how inviting and tempting looking at your lips felt, not with all the words that he kept stuck in his throat screaming to be let out and be heard by you and you alone.
Jean also couldn't handle your patience, he wanted you to yell at him to let out what he wanted say. But no. You had to wait even if it bothered you that he was struggling just to speak—“…well,” he continued, “yesterday I realized that-that I couldn’t…keep what I feel hidden anymore.” He finally lifts his gaze, seeing you were clueless to what he was trying to get at. It made things that much harder because you weren’t expecting his confession. “Y/N, I—”
The balcony door suddenly swings open, cutting off Jean's words and revealing Levi. “Cherry, we need to talk.”
Your eyes shift to him standing under the doorway and you nod. “Okay, I’ll be there in a minute.”
Levi hesitates in his spot, his eyes glaring into Jean and contemplating on staying out until you walk to him, but he decides to step back inside and close the door. Albeit it wasn’t the same anymore.
“Sorry,” you say, and look back at Jean, “please, go on. He can wait.”
Jean exhales deeply and glances at Levi waiting in front of the door and decides to just drop it, it wasn’t a good idea anyway. You didn't even know what it was that he wanted to say, so you wouldn't even miss a thing. So instead he just brought up something else. “I just wanted to thank you for saving me in the cave.” Jean finally meets your gaze and a frustration replaces his nervousness. “Without you, I think the man would’ve killed me.”
“Oh,” you breathe out, feeling underwhelmed for some reason. “Well, consider ourselves even. You saved me from falling to my death when you guys went to save Eren and Historia, I owed you.”
“Fine then,” Jean forces a smile. “We’re even until I have to save your ass again.”
You scoff. “As if I’m going to need saving. More like I’ll help you since well, I’m stronger now. Faster. Smarter.” You step back and step towards the door. “Don’t worry though, it’s cute that you need my help. Nothing to be ashamed about.” You shoot him a smug smile and he just shoots you a narrowed look. “We'll talk later. I need to see what Levi wants.” With one last lingering look at Jean's way, you walk inside and leave him behind to instead join Levi. Feeling nervous yourself now.
Is he going to apologize?
“Cherry,” he says whilst he guides you down the hall away from the balcony. “I wanted to tell you that since Historia’s queen now, one of her proposals was to help the people living underground. And well she asked if I’d help her with that.”
“Oh, I see.” You smile softly, “that’s good.” Warm beams of sun hit your face as Levi and you walk by the big windows on the hall walls, the feeling kissing your skin should feel nice, but with what you were expecting to hear, the feeling felt kind of cold.
“I wanted to ask if you wanted to put some input too.” He continues. “You wouldn't be able to join those meetings because they’re considered high ranked meetings, but you could tell me what you have in mind. I’ll share it with the people in the meetings. What do you say?”
You were happy he asked for your input. You were, but that’s not what you seeked for. You just wanted to hear he was sorry for lying. A hug would be good too, he didn’t have to say anything, you just wanted to know that he was sorry. Was it wrong to ask? Maybe you’re just being petty and stupid for wanting something like that.
But you felt so cold and sad. What you wouldn't give to be in Jean’s arms again, he made you feel warm and assured….as strange as that was to confess, your heart yearned for his comfort as you waited for Levi’s apology. Why couldn’t he apologize?
Or was it wrong of you to want it?
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