A/N: I fell in love with Zoe Hange. That is all I can say.
Unexpected. That's always how everything is. Life is one, big guessing game full of traps that will swallow you whole, digest you alive, and spit your bones out on the ground. It is a game of survival; every choice you make dictates whether you still live in the next five minutes or die horribly in an instant, with only your hand left to bury back home.
Zoe Hange didn't want that kind of fate. The kind where soldiers line up to offer you flowers, salutes and gunshots. She wanted to live like everybody else, to live longer, long enough to see the sunset by the sea or to marry someone and have children. But what could she had done? Hers is a heart full of yearning for something so dangerous, something humanity has long lusted for but had evaded their grasp every time.
"Arlelt. Arlelt! Put some more pressure... That's it."
Of all the injuries she had sustained in the decades of her servitude to the Scouting Legion, the amputation of both of her legs is by far the most painless injury of all. Too bad she didn't take a notebook with her today. This would have been an interesting fact.
"C-Corporal..." Armin looked so, so scared. At first, Hange wanted to teach him to be a bit calmer when he goes out on field missions since the boy seemed so damned fidgety. But after observing him for a while, she had concluded that he has a surprising control over himself and his emotions, despite his show of nervousness. "We need to bring her back. She's not..." He pauses, his lower lip trembling, before glancing at his superior. He sees that Levi knows that Hange won't last long, too. He knows that even if they did as much as bring her back inside the walls, it will all be for naught.
Armin doesn't speak anymore after that.
"Hey, Hange," The Corporal calls out loud and clear, but Zoe can see the desperation and sadness in his eyes, just barely peeking out as he keeps them tucked behind black, dilated pupils. "The medics are located far back from here. Arlelt and I can take you there. You up for it?" He asks because if they carry her back, they would risk being spotted by titans and Levi didn't want to bring home just a piece of Zoe's finger. And even if they managed to be lucky, she will be dead by the time they cross paths with the medics. This is a useless question, actually – just something to break the silence. He just couldn't bear staying quiet while waiting for her to be gone.
Hange shakes her head once, because she knows too that she'll die in a few minutes, whether or not they try to save her.
"Okay." The older man replies, and the younger lets out a sob. Zoe sees tears rolling down Armin's cheeks, one by one, drops getting fatter and and more bitter than the last. She could have taught him many things; could have shared her theories and notes with him in exchange for his. How wonderful that would have been.
She could have done more, but there's no time left.
This stings her eyes. She could have brought a gift for Moblit yesterday and gave it to him today before the fight because its his birthday. He had done so many favors for her, but never uttered a word of complaint despite the many times she had gone against his wishes of her being 'more careful'. She could have teased Eren this morning because he looked so serious, and so, so tired. Still such a child, like everyone else from their batch of new recruits, but forced to grow up so fast to meet the demand of battle. Sometimes Zoe feels like they have forgotten how to smile genuinely.
And what about her friends? Irvin and Levi – she'll never be able to see them anymore! She could have apologized for being such a child – she could have obeyed more orders and broken less rules and cleaned the hallways more often. She could have thanked them yesterday; for the advice, for the patience, for the friendship! She could have thanked them when blood wasn't leaking out of her veins and Death didn't loom so close to her, scythe poised against the bare of her neck. She could have hugged them, kissed them, and told them that she loved them so much, that they were everything to her – her hope; her guiding light; her world.
"Hush now. Just breathe." Levi replies, voice strained. He lifts her and supports her with his arms, so that she could sit up and lean on him. Hange sees red everywhere, and feels sorry for making him touch her when she's so gross.
"Levi," She starts. Her lungs struggle to inflate and her heart beats hard and fast, like she had just finished their routine laps in the mornings. Zoe wanted to apologize for the mess she made, maybe crack a joke about mops and cleaning solutions to lighten the mood, because she didn't want to think about leaving Levi behind. She didn't want to think about leaving her friends behind. They led a sad, sad life – full of disappointments and hurt, and all they had was one another to shoulder each other's heartache. Mike had gone ahead of them, leaving three pillars behind. What will happen if another pillar crumbles?
"Le-Levi," Zoe continues to croak out, wanting to say something – everything to him, but her heart gives way. Tired and exhausted of energy, it's beat tames down to a lull rhythm, soft and fleeting. Levi notices the droop of her lids and chooses to look away, his lips determined to stay together to form a thin line, because if he did as much as part them he might not be so successful in containing the shouts of anger and loss accumulating in his throat.
Levi, Zoe Hange tries to call out again, but she doesn't make a sound.
Her heart stops beating.