a/n: taking a break from incarnadine by writing oneshots, heehee. so last night i asked for angsty one-word prompts and i got this! no edit, this was a one-time go. this is the first time i've written for levihan and ahh it was fun. eruhan if you squint? (erurihan is my ot3 don't talk to me) tell me what you think!
forming or situated at the end or extremity of something.
predicted to lead to death, especially slowly; incurable.
In the end it is sickness that lays its hand on her, threatening to stop her blood cold and freeze the air in her lungs at any moment.
Isn't it ironic. He laughs, but the tears that fall from the corners of his eyes are bitter.
No one had expected it; in a world where seeing their comrades consumed by mindless monsters left and right was normal, the thought of death by illness seemed too easy, too simple - boring, almost.
He thought he could protect her. He had been glad to see her moved into the research unit; he thought she would be safer. The deal was If Hanji stays to work on her scientific shit, she doesn't have to go outside. Erwin had given him a long, hard stare. No. We need her, Levi. She's one of the best. You of all people should know that.He had been unyielding and Levi had been too frustrated to compromise. Her need to go outside had lessened, but he had been a fool; the few times she was called to duty outside the walls he couldn't stop looking over his shoulder to remind herself she was there, grinning when she caught his glance and yelling Eyes on the prize, Levi, and he could tell she had missed the excitement, the adrenaline of a mission, and it was enough to blind him and force him to look away from her.
It was foolish to be so attached, to find someone to love when he was in the fucking military and whoop dee doo, so was she, and the promise of life was uncertain with death breathing down their necks. It was foolish, but done. He supposed it was foolish to fold her info his arms at night too, even when her stories of new titan discoveries were the only thing that could calm him enough to sleep.
He is there at the end of her bed when the doctors conduct tests and whisper to themselves in technicalities, words he could easily understand if she was awake - he wants to jump at them, claw his fingers at their faces because this is Hanji and she is his to worry about, and he is meant to know the tinest details of her being, the most secret parts of her she kept locked inside; and here were men who knew something about her he didn't, who mock him and laugh at his powerlessness. He never says a word; his grip on her hand never falters. He falls asleep in the chair, and when he wakes up there is an ache in his neck, and she hasn't yet woken up.
The doctors return later and their expressions are solemn. He watches their lips as they form around the words - She's dying - and they are gibberish to him, completely and utterly incomprehensible, because What do you mean she's dying?
Her body is weakening. We don't know what it is exactly - the science of our time is too limited to know - but she is weakening. We doubt this is something she can recover from - perhaps it'd be best if she retires from military service, it'll only advance the disease. We suspect she has a year….they ramble on and on and he can't hear any more because that's it. That's all there is to it. And again they are telling him this is normal, that all that is left is to accept it, that such matters should be handled calmly and rationally because there is nothing he can do. She is dying, and that is all there is to it. A finality.
Not even humanity's strongest soldier can save the woman he loves.
He doesn't hold back this time; his nails draw blood and he is glad.
When she wakes up, he is given the task of telling her; he expects his voice to come out strained, to struggle through the task, but it comes out cold and simple; she laughs about it. A bit boring, don't you think? He raises an eyebrow. There. Even she had agreed. She smiles, genuinely, eyes soft but sad and almost pleading to him. Come on, Levi. It's kinda funny. You'd think a woman who decides to spend her life studying titans would die being eaten by one. He winces at the crudeness of her words; she sighs and turns away from him.
She asks when she can come back for experiments in her lab. He tells her no; Erwin says Anytime you'd like as long as you're well enough. The two men yell about it in the quiet of his office and it is his losing battle because he knows her research is her livelihood, and as much as he wants to protect her he cannot tell her what to do. He buries his face in his arms and yells; Erwin says I'm sorry, but his words are no comfort.
The doctors lie because it is three months. Three months and it catches up to her, quickly. He watches her body deteriorate, pretends not to notice the sallows under her eyes; the first time her body fails her and she is too weak to carry a tray of chemicals, they crash to the ground in a mixture of colours, a growing puddle of brown, and she cries. People look on but he roughly pulls her to him, the strength of his arms around her the only protection he can give her; she shudders into his shoulder, all her pent-up frustration passing through her body in waves, and he holds tighter and rubs circles into her back. He wants to say something; it's okay, maybe, but it's notokay, and he could never lie to her.
That night he carries her into his room and he holds her all night; she dreams into his mouth and he swallows her whole.
She stops coming into the lab and he stops going to missions; they spend their days lying on the grassy hills, his hand running through her hair, and he tries not to notice their lacklustre.
What are we doing, she sighs. She turns her head from his lap to look up at him, eyes sad. She has accepted it. He is lost for a moment, because it feels like he is the only one holding on. Our comrades are out there dying for humanity. We're here sipping on whisky and exchanging campfire stories. She laughs at the absurdity, and he holds her hand to his lips, kissing her knuckles. We can be a little selfish, he tells her. It isn't an excuse, but she rewards him with the brightest smile he's seen on her face in weeks before she pulls him down to her.
The next day she is too weak to lift her head. He insists on carrying her to the infirmary, and she tries to resist, typically, and it sends an aching straight through his chest because she is too weak to. He wins and the doctors check on her periodically; they send him their pity through the looks they give him, but he ignores it. He knows it is close, sees the life draining from her eyes; she asks him to tell her stories and he begins with Remember when we first met…
When Erwin brought you to meet me?
Or the other way around, you idiot.
She laughs. Tell me about it.
You were being stuck-up and unimpressed –
Me?! Don't you mean you? If you don't recall, I welcomed you warmly and showed you around, even taught you everything you know.She smirks, smug, then turns away, wouldn't even give me a chance.
Well eventually I did, didn't I?
I guess I can forgive you.
He kisses her chapped lips and tells her to rest. Her eyes close slowly, dream-like, and she squeezes his hand and whispers Don't let go before she surrenders to fatigue.
I won't. And he falls asleep, her hand warm in his.
Her hand is cold as ice when he wakes up.