The infirmary had remained in near pure silence for a little over ten minutes already. The soft patterned sound of Moblit's sleeping breaths wasn't entirely unpleasant to the ears. In fact, it was almost harmonious in the otherwise eerie atmosphere.
Levi had begun to tidy the nurse's office space, as he had made the executive decision that it was an unsuitable working place and needed his immediate attention. He started first by disposing of the dead flowers that had been limply residing in the old vase.
"Have you ever lost somebody close to you?"
Hanji had asked Levi moments ago, but he had yet to answer the question. Rather, he seemed to be pretending that nobody else was in the room.
Hanji didn't mind this, though. In fact, the medium had already assumed that the man was feeling uneasy with being given the mundane task of watching two bedridden people. He didn't seem like the type who liked to sit around and chat about his personal life, and it was evident by his constant need to be on his feet.
Suddenly getting an idea of how to gain Levi's attention, Hanji spoke up. "Levi."
Levi remained quiet, but looked in Hanji's direction.
Hanji sat with elbows perched at both sides to elevate slightly. "I don't think that you're negatively involved in this case."
Furrowing his eyebrows at the medium, Levi crossed his arms and asked, "What makes you say that?"
"Well," Hanji began. "It's your aura. Here, let me hold your hands."
"No." Levi responded flatly. He quickly turned his attention back to sweeping around the nurse's desk.
"Hey, come oooooon." Hanji pouted. At this point, the brunette struggled to fully sit up but somehow managed to.
Continuing to ignore the pleading medium, Levi swept the pile of dirt he had collected with the broom into a dust pan and poured it into the garbage.
Hanji's gaze fell downwards, toward the bedsheets. Hands cupped and fingers intertwined with each other, the medium wore a meek smile. "I know that you don't take me seriously. I haven't done anything to prove that I'm the great medium that I claim to be, but... but I can assure you that I always get the job done. You can choose to believe in me or not, that's your decision. For any progress to happen, though, I'm going to need everyone's help and cooperation regardless of what they might think of me."
"I know there are things that you're not telling me, and I know that might be because those things are hard for you to say out loud. I understand that, but I need to know everything that you do. If you just give me your hand, then those difficult words won't be necessary at all. If you open yourself to me, and give me those memories of yours, I promise that I will do my best to put them to good use. So please, I sincerely want to help everyone... but I'll need your help first."
Only silence followed Hanji's pleas. Realizing that the effort had likely gone wasted, the medium wasn't ready to give up just yet, though they did know that pestering about the subject would only make things worse. So I'll just bring it up in awhile, or casually grip his hand when he's not paying attention, or...
The medium's thoughts were suddenly cut short as Levi began to walk forward. He took a seat on the edge of the bed and extended his arm towards Hanji, all while keeping his gaze solely upon his clean black loafers.
"Really?" Hanji's eyes lit up in excitement.
"Just hurry it up." Levi sighed. "And don't pry too much."
"Of course." Hanji concluded, and wasted no time in interlocking fingers with the man. Eyes closed, the medium smiled humbly as the scene faded to black.
A white blinding light grew increasingly stronger, as a black shadow began to fade into the silhouette of what could be assumed to be a person.
The background began to take form, revealing a small crooked window that leaned slightly to the right. Cream-coloured curtains hung on both sides, the light of the outside filtering through their sheets gently. A gentle breeze danced through the window, and made it's way indoors, evident through the rhythmic whirling of the curtains.
In the center of the scene, a young woman stood. Her hair was dark as night, and was being caressed by the whispers of the wind that peeped through the window just behind her.
The features of her face that were indistinguishable seconds ago were now taking form, and it was clear now that they young girl was none other than Mikasa Ackerman.
She finally spoke. "I'm going to the school tonight," was all she said.
"Why?" The response was quick, and it was a male's voice. Presumably Levi's, since the vision was his.
"Club activities." Mikasa responded. Her gaze shifted from both sides before looking at the viewer again.
"That's a lie. You're not in any clubs."
Mikasa's eyebrow twitched slightly, though her expression still remained neutral. "I'll be with Eren and Armin, so it doesn't matter."
"Does father know?"
Mikasa shook her head. "Don't tell him. Just say that I'm going to Armin's house."
A sigh. "What are you going to be doing with them, anyway?"
"Studying." Mikasa looked to her left briefly, then forward again. "Studying for a test."
"That's a lie. You look to the left when you lie."
"It doesn't matter. Just don't tell dad." Mikasa looked at the ground.
Silence followed for a moment. To break this, Levi spoke in an unexpectedly concerned voice, "Who's taking you there? You can't walk this late on your own."
"It's fine." Mikasa responded quickly, as if to cut off his chances of offering to walk her there. "This guy that Armin knows is going to be giving us all a ride."
"Some guy you don't even know?"
Mikasa shook her head. "I just don't recall his name. The tall guy with blond hair and thick eyebrows."
"You mean Erwin?"
"Yeah, him." Mikasa nodded. "So stop worrying. We're just studying."
The scene suddenly faded to black.
Hanji suddenly awoke from the vision. Much like the feeling one may experience after awakening from a particularly frightening dream, it took the medium a moment to remember where they were.
Levi had taken his hand back already, and sat with his back hunched over his knees, still gazing intently at his shoes.
It didn't seem like a good time to talk about what had just been seen, so Hanji attempted to ease slowly into the topic. Gently, the medium began to speak. "You know, I've always been that typical medium like the ones you see on television. I could sense when people had lost somebody close to them. If I held their hand, I could sometimes even see that person's face, or hear their voice. Not all the time, though. Sometimes people just conceal those feelings too deeply inside themselves, so I wouldn't see any visions. But I can always tell when they've lost somebody."
Leaning back against the pillows, and staring forward with a meek smile, Hanji continued, "Of course I sense that with a lot of people. Death is definite, after all, and it touches all of our lives. I'll be honest when I say that I never learn that much from my visions or even from contacting normal spirits, but it's always been enough to give people closure. I digress. The first time I met you, I had this sense, naturally, that you had lost somebody important to you. I didn't give it much thought in relation to this case. But when I heard that your last name was Ackerman and with the vision I saw just now, it suddenly makes sense. The person close to you that you lost was a little sister. Mikasa Ackerman."
"It's true." Levi responded, choosing his words with care. He stared at his clamped hand for a second before adding, "She was my little sister, two years younger."
"So that means that you were a senior student when the incident occurred." Hanji concluded, after a moment's thought.
Without speaking, Levi nodded his head.
"Why didn't you mention that in the beginning?" Hanji's eyes narrowed. "It would have been pretty nice to know this sooner."
Levi stared at Hanji through the corner of his eye, before simply stating, "You're a medium. I assumed you would have just figured it out on your own."
Being a good sport about things, Hanji chuckled. "I'm not that great at it, I guess. I've always been biting off more than I can chew. I kind of over-estimate my own power."
"You're alright, though." Levi was unexpectedly quick to retort. "We're learning more now than we would have without you."
Hanji grinned, suddenly feeling re-energized by the positive words. "Well, I guess my one redeeming quality is that I never stop until the job is done!"
Before anybody got a chance to say anything else, there was a small bit of rustling from the neighbouring bed. Moblit was shuffling around and tightened his eyes slightly.
"Looks like Moblit is waking up." Hanji commented, glancing at him.
"He might not admit this but," Levi murmured so only Hanji could hear, "he fainted a bit when you got knocked out. You're probably going to end up giving him an aneurism before this is over."
Hanji laughed quietly.
Moblit slowly lifted his head and gazed forward through squinted eyes. "H...Huh? Levi... And Hanji-san...?" He mumbled, and then suddenly, as if his memories returned to him, he nearly jumped out of the bed to exclaim, "Oh thank goodness! You're okay! How do you feel?"
Hanji turned to face Moblit and smiled brightly. "I was a little dizzy when I woke up but I feel much better now. A little tired, surprisingly."
"You should sleep some more." Levi cut in. He stood from the bedside and turned to Moblit. "You should wash up. There's a bathroom here with a small shower."
"But..." Moblit cut in, timidly. "I didn't bring an extra set of clothing with me... I didn't think I'd be here for long."
"There's a washer and dryer in the life skills room. I can take your clothing there to have it washed while you shower."
"Oh, are you sure? I don't want to be of any trouble."
"It's fine. Better than you stinking up the place." Levi sighed.
Things went by quickly after the conversation ended. Moblit had hurried in the shower-room, and given his clothing to Levi. He held the pile in his arms as he gave Hanji one last serious look.
"Just stay in bed and don't pull any weird shit while I'm gone. If something happens then just scream or smash a vase or something and I'll be back."
Hanji raised a hand to forehead level and jokingly chanted, "Aye aye, captain!"
The conversation had ended there, and Levi had immediately left with Moblit's clothing in hand.
The room was silent after the slamming of the infirmary door. A moment passed, and the sound of water running in the shower could be heard.
Eyes closed tightly, Hanji mentally counted to twenty. After reaching the last number, the medium quickly sat up and threw the blankets off of the bed.
"As if I'm going to lay around while something exciting is happening outside of these doors." Hanji hummed quietly, while shoving on a pair of shoes.
Upon opening the door, Hanji cautiously stuck their head out and glanced both ways. Long, stringy pieces of hair bobbed along with the medium as they took a step out of the infirmary and remained silent while shutting the door.
Quiet as a mouse, Hanji tip-toed forward and took a moment to observe the hallway. Levi was nowhere in sight, but never-the-less, a strong presence was looming nearby. Locating it's exact position was a bit of a struggle for the medium, but it could clearly be felt. Almost like a harsh breath down the nape of the neck, it was a sort of unpleasant and ominous feeling that was nearby.
Regardless of the discomfort in the air, Hanji continued to wander the halls with caution. To somebody who was unfamiliar with the schools, the hallways could be confusing. The classroom numbers didn't go in order, and the use of numbers and letters seemed to be random. Though, it could be assumed that it was just part of the schools charm- rather than something supernatural.
Turning the corner, Hanji was unexpectedly thrown face-to-face with a very peeved looking Eren Jaeger. Immediately, the medium stopped in their tracks and stared wide-eyed at the boy, who glared back in return.
His lips were tightly clenched and his brows furrowed deeply. "Where's Armin?" His voice was kept low. "Do you know where he is?"
Hanji's head shook. "I'm sorry, Eren. I haven't seen him. Is everything alright?"
"No." Eren looked to the ground. "He never leaves for this long. I thought he might be in the library because he likes to study in there, but when I checked, he wasn't. The classroom is empty too, and he never hides from me or Mikasa."
"Well, where is Mikasa?" Hanji asked.
"Checking the second floor for him." Eren answered. He glanced around the hallway. "It's been over an hour. I think he's avoiding us."
A bit of silence passed.
"Could I ask you a question?" Hanji choose each word carefully and spoke slowly. "Why don't you like to be separated from Armin? I noticed it in the classroom as well- you don't seem to like when he's speaking to other people for more than a few minutes."
"No, you're wrong." Eren was quick to deny. "It's just with the living people. If they say something wrong, then... then they might upset him. The living people don't know how to deal with him. He's still not aware of what's going on here."
Hanji leaned against the wall and stared off into the distance. "I think that he's more aware than you think, Eren. He's a smart kid, he catches on quickly."
"But he forgets everything, even if he figures it out." Eren retorted. "He and Marco are the only ones who don't seem to fully be aware of the fact that we're dead. Everyone else has the clue by now. Armin is smart, and he figures it out given time, sure, but he always forgets. And he seems happier when he doesn't realize it. I know it's wrong of me to say this, or to want things like this, but I just prefer that he doesn't know."
"So you're already aware of this fact yourself?"
Eren nodded his head. "I knew it before you even made an appearance here. I kind of remember dying, but not all that much."
Hanji suddenly perked up, and stared the boy intently in the eyes. "Really? What exactly do you remember? Please, tell me everything."
"It's hazy... I remember being angry, though. I tried to hit someone, but I think they hit me first. Then, I remember staring at the ceiling." Eren explained, his face grew increasingly more red with each word. The topic was proving to have a hard effect on him, and it was clear.
Putting a supportive hand on Eren's shoulder, Hanji smiled gently. "It's okay, Eren. I'll help you find Armin." The medium re-assured.
He's still closing himself off from me- I'm not even getting the tiniest glimpse of a vision right now. Though even if he had one to offer, he's already explained everything he remembers about dying to me. If he remembered who did it, I'm certain he would have told me. This seems to be a sensitive topic for him, naturally, so I'm certain that whoever it was, he would not think very fondly of.
Eren took a deep breath. "Alright. Thanks."
Hanji smiled and the two began to silently walk down the hall. Not even a moment passed by before Eren asked, "Why are you here anyway? You said you were our teacher but you only showed up to class once."
With an awkward laugh, Hanji scratched the back of their head and responded, "Ah well, you know, I got a bit of an injury last night that knocked me out for awhile, so I suppose class is post-poned on account of that."
"Oh." Eren responded simply. "I was beginning to think you might be a medium or something."
"Well, actually-" Hanji had been in the middle of answering when a new voice suddenly over powered.
"Eren!" It had been Armin, followed by Erwin and Mike.
"Armin!" Eren exclaimed in return. The two rushed to each other, and when they met in the middle, they embraced each other tightly. "Where were you, Armin?"
The smaller of the boys took a second to catch his breath. "In the basement with Mr. Smith and Mr. Zacharias." Armin explained as he pulled away from the hug. "We found a lot of things down there! All of our school bags! Oh... but..." His voice suddenly drifted off.
"But Sasha and Connie showed up, and took yours. I was holding it for you, because I thought you'd want to see your things again, but they were there before we even realized and took some of the bags." Armin frowned. "I'm sorry... They didn't seem to touch Mikasa's or mine, though... I don't understand why they'd want yours."
Eren's face suddenly lost all colour. He took a step back and shrugged his shoulder casually. "It's okay, Armin. I don't need my bag. I never cared much about it, anyway. I'm just glad you're okay."
Armin smiled gently. "Where's Mikasa?"
"She's on the second floor looking for you."
"Oh... I feel kind of embarrassed, having made the two of you worry like this."
Hanji took a step forward. "Well then, I hate to cut in but shall we go to the infirmary and check all of these out?"
"Yes, let's hurry. We don't want to risk losing anything else that's valuable to us." Erwin agreed.
Erwin, Mike, and Hanji began to make their way to the infirmary but Eren and Armin stayed behind an extra moment to talk.
"Did they say or do anything weird while you were down there?" Eren asked, his voice quiet. He looked behind him to make sure the others weren't listening. "You could tell me if they did."
Armin shook his head. "No, it was a little scary, I guess, because the basement is so old and dark. But they're both so nice, so I felt comfortable. And... You should come with us to the infirmary to check the bags out... Maybe we'll find something important."
"Important? What do you mean?"
"Um, you know," Armin shifted awkwardly about. "Something to explain what happened to us. Mr. Smith told me that I'm getting better at remembering things. Maybe if I see something than I can finally remember everything. Do you think it's possible?"
Eren tilted his head slightly as gave thought to the question. "I guess so, I don't really know how any of this works. I'm willing to give my help, though. I want to know everything too."
"So you'll come with us?!" Armin's face lit up.
"Yeah, I'm just gonna get Mikasa first, I'll see you there." Eren replied with a faint smile. With that, he was gone.
Twenty minutes had passed by that time, and everybody had regathered in the infirmary. Moblit, Mike, Levi, and Erwin sat on one bed, and Hanji, Eren, Armin, and Mikasa sat on the neighbouring bed. Since there were eight bags left, each person had one to look through. Armin and Mikasa looked through their own, and everybody else had a random one.
After having flipped through the pages of the notebooks in each of their assigned bags it was realized that Moblit had Annie's bag, Mike had Marco's, Erwin had Krista's, Levi had Sasha's, Eren had Connie's, and Hanji had Ymir's.
"So far we've learned that Sasha and Connie didn't take their own bags. But why? Isn't that what they wanted?" Erwin stated thoughtfully. "It must mean that they're trying to cover for someone who has a missing bag."
At that comment, Eren angrily responded, "Then why would they take mine?! I didn't do anything wrong."
"Maybe it was a mistake, then." Hanji cut in, staring at a white sheet of paper that they held in their hand. "Maybe Connie and Sasha mistakingly thought that the bag belonged to someone else. I'm not sure why, but they're trying to cover for someone else, and I think I know who that person is."
Everyone in the room had stopped what they were doing and stared at Hanji expectantly.
"What? Did you find something?" Levi was the first to speak.
"Yes." Hanji responded with eyebrows raised. "It's a photo, but I can't see or hear anything when I touch it. I guess you could say that it speaks for itself."
The group was quick to surround Hanji and stare at the photo in curiousity. There were a few murmured comments, and some sounds of confusion.
The photo featured two young males. The first was unfamiliar to everybody in the room. He wore a dark hooded sweater and was facing the other male, Bertholdt Hoover. In the photo, Bertholdt's body faced the man, but his head was tilted towards the camera, with his gaze over his shoulder. He held a brown package in his hand, and was holding it out to the other man.
It was clear that the photo had been taken from a distance, and slight shrubbery on the corner of the picture proved that whoever took the photo had been hiding. Judging by the look on Bertholdt's face, he didn't know he was having his photo taken either.
"What's this?" Moblit asked.
"It looks like blackmail." Armin was the first to state.
Hanji's head nodded. "I was thinking the same thing, and I found it in Ymir's bag."
Taking the photo from Hanji's hands and bringing it closer to his own face, Levi asked, "So we're to assume that Ymir was blackmailing Bertholdt?"
"We've confirmed that the missing bags are Eren's, Jean's, Reiners, and Bertholdt's." Erwin explained. "So if Ymir has blackmail against Bertholdt, and his bag is missing, then we can easily assume that he is the key to answering this mystery."
"Right." Hanji thoughtfully placed a finger on chin. "Which is why I think Eren's bag must have been taken by mistake. Ymir's bag holds this piece of evidence that could be used against Bertholdt, and his bag also disappeared along with the others. So, could it be that Connie and Sasha are protecting his image? I'm sure there is a reason why, but regardless, we need to see Bertholdt."
Hanji broke out into an excited grin. "There's something that he's hiding, and we're going to figure out what it is!"