Summary: Your life feels like a big series of regretful choices until you meet them.
Word Count: 3.9K
Warnings: Mentions of prostitution, canon typical violence let me know if I missed anything :)
It wasn’t supposed to feel this way. You knew that much, you stared up at the ceiling, it felt like you weren’t in your body. The springs creaking under his weight as he huffed and wheezed over you. His hands felt like fire, or maybe ice? When his sweaty head fell onto your chest you barely contained the disgusted sneer from curling onto your lips. He sighed and you grimaced at the warmth that blossomed in your lower half. It wasn’t supposed to feel like this. He continued to breathe heavily into your shoulder as you lay rigid beneath him.
But then again, did you know how it was supposed to feel? At the tender age of sixteen, you began to sell yourself. It was that or starvation. The choice was obvious. Now six years later, you were still doing the same stupid thing. All for what? Money? Sure, but the government made it impossible for you to escape this life. He rolled off of you and began to rummage in his side drawer for a cigarette. It wasn’t his first time doing this either. He was one of your regulars, a dirty merchant who had been seeking your services since you were seventeen.
You had thoroughly convinced yourself that there was no such thing as “a good man”. For anyone else, you would’ve already been out the door. But he liked for you to stay the night with him.
You weren’t sure if he just liked the idea of you being in his bed, or if it was to trick him into feeling like a better person. But either way, he paid you extra to linger. So you stayed still as you watched the smoke curl towards the filthy ceiling, the feeling of his hand on the top of your thigh as he smoked. He wasn’t necessarily the ugliest lay that you’d had. But by no means was he a charmer. He was probably about ten years older than you, with stubble and this big blue eyes and shaggy blonde hair. You swallowed thickly and sat up, the feeling of him leaking out from inside of you made your stomach churn. You wandered over to the basin of water he kept on the dresser and set about cleaning yourself up.
“I’ll get you out of here one of these days.” His voice was groggy and you knew that the words held no real value. He said it all the time. He never kept his promises.
“I know you will.” You said as you wrung the washcloth out, the sound of water splashing filling the silence.
“Here you are.” He held out a small pouch of coins and you took that as your cue to leave, it was one of those nights apparently. One of the rare ones, where he turned you loose early. Maybe if you were lucky, you could find another client to get a few extra coins for the evening. You took the pouch and pulled your ratty dress over your head, cinching the built-in corset around your waist. You slid the pouch into your small clutch and slid your feet into the flats that you wore. By the time you were out the door, he was already snoring.
The air was musty, as always as you wandered down the dirty streets. Oil lamps illuminating the streets, there were a few drunkards wandering, a few fellow prostitutes as well. You were lucky that he lived in what was loosely considered to be the better part of town.
“Hey, baby” Someone called across the street and you looked up, flashing one of your practiced coy smiles up at the man. He had ash-blond hair and a lanky frame. The dark-haired man that was with him rolled his eyes and held onto his elbow tightly, despite his efforts to cross the street to get to you.
“Where are you going?” He yelled through his cupped hands and you decided to go to him. You kept a safe distance from the pair as the man continued to struggle against the grip his friend had on his arm.
“Where ever you want me.” You brushed some hair off your face and he smiled widely.
“We’re not interested.” The dark-haired man grunted and turned to march on down the street, the blond digging his heels into the ground.
“Levi you dick look at her she’s stunning!” The blond protested as he scrambled for purchase as the man drug him off his feet.
“You’re drunk and she’s a walking STD.” Your pleasant smile fell from your face at his words and the man let out a gasp at his friend’s words.
“How cruel! Don’t listen to him, sweetheart.” The man finally broke free of the other’s grasp, staggering up to you. You tried to regain your composure but it felt too forced.
“What’s your name?” He asked and your brows rose, they never asked that.
“My name?” You said dumbly and he chuckled.
“Yeah, you know, like Jill or Sally-”
“Call me whatever you want.” You said with a sly smirk, despite the confusion rolling inside of you. His brows furrowed and he cocked his head to the side. His friend was behind him, glaring daggers at you.
“I want to call you by your name.” He said and you frowned.
“That’s not how it works.” You said as you fought with your patience.
“What do you mean?” He asked innocently as he seemed to sober up.
“I mean…” What did you mean?
“Farlan.” His friend had officially lost his patience, snagging him by his wrist he drug him away. You watched the pair stumble around the corner. You turned and walked slowly in the opposite direction, suddenly, you didn’t want to find another man to earn that extra bit of cash. You just wanted to lay in bed and think about the boy who saw you for who you were. Not what was under your dress, or between your legs.
It was about a year later that you ran into him again. Or rather them. You had picked up a job at a tavern, serving booze and occasionally offering other services. They had walked in and the air in the room became thick with tension. You hated to admit it, but you had kept an eye out for the charismatic blond ever since that night. But now that he was here, how were you supposed to react. Another factor was the young woman that accompanied the men. The trio sat in a secluded booth and you frowned when you realized that it wasn’t in your section. As your coworker wandered past you with a tray full of beer, you caught her elbow.
“I’ll take that table.” You said quietly, nodding towards the trio.
“Fine by me.” She shrugged and continued on with her task. You smoothed out your skirt and squared your shoulders, once you had collected yourself, you walked across the crowded room. Coming to a stop in front of the booth you cleared your throat. The dark-haired man looked up with a chilling glare and you flashed him a dazzling smile. The blond looked up next, eyes widening when he recognized you. The girl seemed upset, arms crossed over her chest and eyes far off and brooding.
“What can I get you?” You asked and the blond smiled up at you like a lost puppy.
“Beer please, and whatever soup you have.” He sat straighter, squaring his shoulders as he did so.
“Of course.” You said and turned to look at the other two.
“Same for me, but no beer.” The girl mumbled, shooting you a look.
“Just the soup.” The dark-haired man said, sizing you up as you nodded.
“Coming right up.” You said before turning to fill their order. Once you left the blond turned to the dark-haired man and smiled wickedly.
“What are the odds?”
“Not slim enough.” Levi rolled his eyes and Isabel looked between the two men.
“It’s destiny, Levi!” Farlan pressed as he turned to look at you behind the bar.
“It’s really her!” He gushed as you ladled some soup into three bowls and placed them onto a tray.
“That’s the biggest load of shit I’ve ever heard.” Levi scoffed as you hoisted the tray onto your shoulder and weaved your way back in their direction. You set the tray down onto the edge of the table and Levi watched as Farlan snuck glances at your cleavage as you passed them their food.
“So...I never got your name.” Farlan said as you passed him his beer. You smiled and tucked the tray under your armpit.
“Some people call me Brandi.” You shrugged and Farlan chuckled.
“No no, your real name.” He lifted the mug of ale to his lips as he waited for your reply.
“Maybe one day.” You said coyly and he grinned widely at you, determined to earn your trust and learn your name.
The trio began frequenting the bar, Farlan fawning over you while the other two watched. It became a routine of sorts, you would serve them and Farlan would try to coax more information out of you. The trio grew on you, well more specifically Isabel and Farlan. Levi mostly remained silent and brooding. That was until this night. It started off like any other, serving beer and speaking just enough to ensure good tips. You hadn’t been offering yourself for some time now, content with the money that waitressing brought you. The trio had just arrived, and for whatever reason, the patrons had been awfully rowdy. You brought the trio their usual order, and Farlan asked you a stupid question and you laughed. You genuinely threw your head back and let loose a real laugh, the sound had been music to his ears, even Levi had perked up.
“Brandi?” The voice made chills run down your spine, the carefree expression melting off of your face.
“Is that really you? God, you look better than the last time I laid eyes on you.” His hand was on your hip, an icy fire burning through your skirt and sinking back into your skin.
“If I had known you were here...I would’ve come drinking much more.” He breathed against the back of your neck as he shamelessly brushed your hair off of your nape. Farlan’s smile melted off of his face as he watched the exchange.
“Come home with me...it’s been so long.” You looked like a petrified animal as he pressed a kiss to your neck.
“She’s not interested.” The voice shocked you out of your stupor. It hadn’t been Farlan, but rather Levi, who was glowering in the man’s direction from his seat in the booth.
“She’s always interested.” The man cooed as he pulled you flush against him. Levi’s expression darkened and he stood slowly from his seat, Farlan blinked dumbly as he watched Levi reach forward and pry his hand off of your hip. You took a step forward and leaned against the booth, watching as Levi put himself between you and the man.
“Watch it, pal. That’s my girl.” The man snarled, moving to step around Levi, who mirrored him to keep himself between you and the slob.
“Not anymore.” You bristled, the words he spoke made your stomach flip. Levi never spoke to you, why was he doing this?
“Step.Aside.” The man growled and you grabbed Levi’s elbow.
“It’s fine.” Your grip was shaky but you knew that you had to handle this on your own.
“See, she wants this.” He said smugly and your lip curled up in a disgusted grimace.
“I’m done doing that. So if you aren’t here to drink, then you should leave.” You said sternly and he froze at your words.
“You don’t mean that baby.” He said slowly as he took a tentative step forward. Levi stiffened and you shot him a warning look.
“No, I do. I’m done.”
“I’ll pay you well. You know I’m good to you.” He pressed and you shook your head.
“No.” You lifted your chin defiantly and he growled, reaching for your wrist, but Levi was faster. It was so fast that you were only able to process the loud snapping of bone and the agonized scream that followed.
“Beat it,” Levi growled, his short structure somehow seemed to take up the whole space as the man hunched over, cradling his broken hand. He shot you one last withering look before turning and retreating from the bar. You looked to Levi, who was already slumping back into his seat. Farlan stood and looked at you with wide eyes.
“Are you alright?” He asked and you nodded numbly.
“I’m fine.” You assured him, turning to leave, favoring the idea of going home and washing your body raw.
“He seemed like a real piece of work,” Isabel commented as she looked you up and down.
“He’s just an asshole.” You grumbled, rubbing your wrist.
That was the last time that you saw him. Saw any of them, they never came back, the man who had haunted your body, and the people who had become your friends of sorts. You heard rumors, that the trio had been arrested, killed by Kenny, and even that they had joined the military. You didn’t know what to believe, so you tried not to dwell on it. But you missed them, Isabel’s loud boisterous laughter, Farlan’s constant fawning, and even Levi’s brooding. You nearly had enough to pay the passage to the surface, only two more weeks of work to be exact.
Once you had the cash, you would split town. Start fresh on the surface, find another job, maybe a partner…Two weeks couldn’t come fast enough. The fateful day came, you didn’t bother bringing anything along, just the clothes on your back and the cash in your pocket. You paid the toll and marched up the stairs, the sun was brighter than you expected. You stared up at the sky, squinting and holding your hand over your sensitive eyes.
The world was so big, the sky annoyingly blue and blinding, the people not sickly and pale. You wandered the streets like a ghost, hands shoved in your pockets as you passed other women in fancy dresses, men in suits and top hats. You felt dirty in comparison.
The inner wall wasn’t for you, not with all the pleasant bakeries and flower shops. So you walked until you reached the massive wall. But you didn’t stop there, you went through the gate, into the smaller district of Trost. By the time you reached that far wall, the sun was dipping below the top of it, casting the district in a rose-colored glow.
You found yourself sleeping on the streets, much as you had done in your earlier years. You had no money, having used every cent to pay the toll. Your stomach rumbled and you leaned heavily against the crate you had propped yourself against. You spotted an old newspaper on the ground and you picked it up.
You could only pick out bits and pieces that you could understand, having never learned to read or write, but the message was clear. The survey corps had failed on yet another mission, you frowned and set the paper back down. Maybe the military was your only solace. Many people joined for the room and board, even with the risks that were built in with it. So that’s what you did. The next day you found a recruitment stall and enlisted. Since you were older than the normal age of enlistment, they just stuck you in the garrison. You found yourself wearing a uniform and training with others like yourself. It was dull, they drank most of the time, you stayed distant. It was odd, surreal even, having worked so hard for this life, and feeling that it was pointless. Turned out, the surface wasn’t much better than the subterranean city. The men still sought after you, the food was still scarce, the only difference was that the streets didn’t run with shit.
You were surprised when one day the commander approached you, twirling his mustache between his index and thumb as he walked along the wall. You were cleaning a cannon when he stopped behind you, waiting for you to finish your task.
“Care to join me?” He asked, unscrewing his flask and tipping the alcohol down his throat. You saluted him and joined him, easily matching his pace.
“You’ve worked hard.” He commented and you froze up, the praise was unexpected and felt almost unwarranted. But he was right, you had worked hard.
“Yes sir.” You agreed and he smiled at you, the skin around his eyes pinching together.
“I believe that a promotion is in order.” You furrowed your brows and tilted your head to the side.
“Sir?” You spoke softly and he chuckled.
“There’s going to be a meeting later this month. For the commanders and the nobles to discuss budgets.” He was smiling at you with an odd glint in his eyes.
“I’m aware…” You weren’t sure where he was going with this.
“Normally, I would ask Nina to accompany me, but she has asked to be relieved of this burden.” He continued, you vaguely recalled the name of his second in command.
“Will you join me?” He asked and you knew that you couldn’t say no.
“Of course sir. It would be an honor.” You said with another salute. He chuckled and nodded slowly.
“Hope you’re a good dancer, as you were.” He dismissed you, continuing with his walk.
You saved up for a dress, although it was simple, it was easily the nicest article you had ever owned in your life. The venue was at a large noble’s castle, with sprawling gardens and marbled rooms. The air felt cool against your exposed skin as you sipped on the glass of wine Pyxis had brought you. Men and women were milling about, chattering about politics and rich people matters. Pyxis was gracious enough to not force you to dance with him, but you did stay by his side, not knowing anyone else at the gathering. He was talking to the premier when the scouts arrived. Commander Erwin’s hair was gelled back, wearing a suit. Section commander Hange was also wearing a suit, their eyes alight as they chatted with one of the garrison section commanders. Trailing at the back of the scouts, was a face all too familiar. His inky black hair was trimmed neatly into an undercut, the suit he wore was simple and fit him perfectly. The air left your lungs as you watched him slink across the room like a cat.
Should you go up to him? What would you say? “Hey remember me? I’m the whore that your friend was infatuated with all those years ago.” No, that was hardly appropriate. He seemed to be glued to the Commander’s side, as loyal as a hound. Your stomach dropped when Erwin turned and began to head in your direction. Your legs screamed for you to run, to the bathroom, outside, anywhere but here. Levi still hadn’t noticed you yet, too busy taking in his surroundings still. You slid behind Pyxis, using him as a buffer, pretending to be invested in his conversation with Zackly.
“Premier.” Erwin’s deep voice startled you but you managed to keep your composure.
“Ah Commander, good to see you.” Zackly reached out and shook Erwin’s hand. Then Erwin shook Pyxis’s and he smiled at you, hand extended for you to take.
“And who might you be?” He asked as you took his hand and shook it firmly.
“Captain (Y/n)” You introduced yourself and Levi finally looked at you, eyes slightly widened as they drank you in.
“Rolls off the tongue nicely doesn’t it.” Pyxis jested as you withdrew your hand, you managed a slightly strangled sounding laugh.
“Newly promoted,” Pyxis explained, launching into a new conversation with Erwin, meanwhile, your eyes were locked with Levi’s.
“Introduce yourself, Levi.” Erwin prompted and Levi scoffed, averting his eyes. Pyxis let out a bark of laughter and placed a hand over your lower back. He pushed you forwards and you found yourself right in front of Levi. Not knowing what else to do, you extended your hand and Levi looked at it skeptically before taking your hand. You noticed Erwin’s look of surprise as the two of you shook hands.
“Levi.” He said simply and you found yourself smiling a little dumbly.
“(Y/n).” You said in return as he pulled his hand back. Pleased with the interaction, the higherups began to talk shop as you and Levi continued to sneak glances at one another. Finally, you excused yourself to get some fresh air, escaping to one of the open doors and out into the moon-bathed garden. You only made it a few steps before someone cleared their throat behind you.
“Made it out?” Levi walked slowly down the steps as you waited for him.
“Yeah, glad to see you did too.” You spoke slowly, careful as if not to spook him. He was an elusive creature after all.
“The military?” He said, eyes piercing you as he waited for your response.
“Not much else to do up here.” You shrugged and he hummed in agreement. The two of you sit in silence as you look up to the sky, the warm summer breeze kissing your skin.
“I never said thank you.” You broke the trance, turning and facing him fully. His eyes narrowed and you found yourself smiling at him
“What are you on about?” Levi asked as he met your stare.
“That night at the bar...when you told that guy off.” You explained as you slowly sank onto a nearby bench. He sat next to you, eyes still on your face.
“Right…” Levi sighed, hand reaching up to push his hair out of his face.
“If you hadn’t...I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.” You continued, turning to look up at the stars.
“He was...an asshole.” Levi sank back into the bench and you did the same.
“He was….whatever happened to Farlan and Isabel?” He tensed and you knew the answer, your heart cracked in two when he remained silent.
“...they were good people.” You said numbly, trying to remember their faces, but they were blurry and seemed to evade your grasp.
“The best,” Levi grunted and you frowned. You reached blindly in a bold move and found his hand. He flinched but surprisingly didn’t pull away, you threaded your fingers through his and turned to face him.
“I wish that...I had told him my name.” A single tear rolled off your cheek and Levi tilted his head down. Your hand felt clammy in his as you sniffled next to him, he looked down at your fingers, they had callouses much like his own did, scrapes on your knuckles. You were a fighter, through and through.
“He was a stubborn bastard,” Levi said after a moment and you gave him a watery smile.
“He seemed the type.” You laughed and averted your eyes once more.
“I’m glad I found you.” You said softly and he tensed.
“I’ve missed having friends.” Levi’s mouth fell open at your words and you laughed at his expression.
“I know we never talked much...but whenever I saw you guys...I felt safe.” You admitted, thumb grazing his knuckle as you spoke. He found himself clutching your hand tighter in response.
“I hope that we can see each other more again.” You smiled at him and he nodded slowly.
“Yeah...I’d like that.”
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