Categories > Anime/Manga > Attack on Titan > A Matter of Stature

Part 5

by Milia 0 reviews

A girl from Sina is engaged to a man she's never met. She must find out why and solve the hidden secrets of her family. (LevixReader, ErenxMikasa)

Category: Attack on Titan - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Humor,Romance - Published: 2015-05-03 - Updated: 2015-05-03 - 7695 words - Complete

A Matter of Stature

Chapter 21: Strength

"Fight?" You questioned. Your father had offered to tell Levi the identity of your uncle, or his original identity at least, if he saw you fight, which was a very confusing request.

"The fact that you spent the majority of your most important years of development sleeping has affected your depth perception, sense of distance, time and direction," your father stated. "Even if you're healthy now and are no longer trapped in the haze of medicines meant to extend your life, you simply never developed any of that. That is why you bumped your head on the door when you were trying to eavesdrop, but you're so used to those little bouts of clumsiness that you didn't even notice."

Your jaw dropped, thinking back on it, he was right. When you were helping Levi against the ninja, you always misjudged the distance of your shot. You aimed to hit them square in the chest and instead hit limbs and heads, as they were too close to miss entirely, but you would have missed if you tried to hit them from a distance. How Levi managed to use his ODM gear was a mystery to you, you couldn't predict where the hooks would go. But using ODM gear was something that all the scouts did, and even those who weren't scouts, it was something all soldiers were trained to do, yet you couldn't wrap your head around the concept of how they got the hooks to reach the target they wanted.

"That's also the reason why the mafia would rather chase Tony than you, you're older and more difficult to mold, but also far too clumsy to be an effective super soldier," your father added. "If they come for you, it'll more likely be to use you as a hostage to try to get to Tony, which is why Levi is still needed as a bodyguard, even if the titan transformation threat is probably no longer an issue by now. I'm sorry princess, you're still my most beloved treasure, but I can't deny that you're a particularly clumsy girl."

You were speechless. One scene after another came to mind. This has been going on for so long, the shard of glass that cut your hand when you were helping Armin and the others on dish duty, you had misjudged the distance and your hand smashed right into it, rather than gently picking it up. The juice you spilled and accidentally cleaned with one of Levi's ties, you were indeed quite clumsy, as if you were so used to seeing the world in a blurry medical haze, that your brain wasn't fully accustomed to seeing it in precise dimensions. The image in front of your eyes turning wavy was something that you got used to blinking away, you didn't need to do that since you were cured, but you were still getting used to things in fact being where they appeared to be. your brain was confusing wondering if it should compensate by making items seem closer, or further, a little to the left or to the right.

"Don't worry, princess, I'm sure you can overcome this. Your perception is just confused, but it'll get better with time." Your father patted your shoulder in reassurance, then addressed Levi with a business proposition. "I'm not saying you should make her an ODM expert, that's a bit much, but at least teach her to land a punch. She won't transform anymore, so I don't need you specifically as a bodyguard, but I lack the economical means to hire another bodyguard, so I'll pay you with information. After (Name) is strong enough to protect herself, I'll tell you what you want to know and then you can pursue my brother in law and get yourself killed if that is your wish."

"I will not get killed," Levi assured confidently. "But I can see that there's no other way to reason with you. Alright, I'll train (Name) in combat and have her demonstrate her abilities, if you give me your word that you will delivered the promised information once her training is complete."

"If her combat abilities are sufficient, then you have my word," your father assured.

Levi scuffed, "I don't train my troops to have merely sufficient skill."

"Wait a minute..." You began to protest, but you weren't even sure what to say. You didn't want Levi to risk his life if your uncle was better left alone. You were cured, so he had no reason to experiment on anyone anymore. But you couldn't exactly protest about being trained to defend yourself, since that might become a necessity, and besides, you didn't want to be helpless.

You just felt the need to say something to relieve the feeling of foreboding you couldn't shake off, yet neither Levi nor your father glanced in your direction, instead too occupied with glaring at each other. 'Wow,' you thought, 'father's brave to withstand Levi's glare of doom like that and even glare back.'

Footsteps that made no effort to hide the approach of their owner stopped in front of the door and there was a knock. "Come in," you called, since it looked like things were settled anyway and the conversation was probably over. Besides, it was probably Artie or Melinda and they must know about all of this anyway.

Artie entered the room, his chef jacket and hat were gone, instead he wore a tight fitting tanktop that put his large muscles on display and a nasty glare that felt alien on his usually soft expression. He seemed to be holding something behind his back, but you couldn't see what it was. "Is everything alright, lord (Lastname)?" He addressed your father with his old title.

"Quite alright," your father replied. "Mr. Ackerman is much more reasonable than we expected."

"That's good to hear, but if he needs any persuasion, just say the word," Artie assured, though Levi did not look intimidated in the least.

"I do hope it doesn't come to this, Mr. Ackerman, but as a warning, if anything happens to my daughter or you refuse to cooperate in any way, you can be certain every last one of the Survey Corps' uniforms will be stained with red."

You gasped at the serious threat, as Artie placed the item he had been holding on the table. It was... sauce? Not just any sauce, but Artie's special sauce. You've tried the sauce before and it was delicious.

Suddenly, the usually cool, calm and collected Levi, who refused to be intimidated by Artie's huge biceps, was eying the bottle wearily. "You wouldn't dare," Levi stood, glaring.

"I guarantee that nothing can remove this kind of stain," your father threatened. "And there's more, ketchup, mustard..."

While your father listed things that produced stains, Levi retorted with things that could be used to remove stains, many of which you never would have thought would be good for that. "Bleach, vinegar, baking soda..."

You watched the exchange in awe, while Artie fought to maintain his intimidating look despite how hilarious the argument sounded. "Okay, I think it's time to go, the scouts will be wondering where you are, Levi. Thanks for having us over, father." Neither Levi nor your father stopped the war of stain and stain removing examples, though your father gave you a brief nod of acknowledgement and Levi opposed no resistance when you started pulling on his arm to make him walk.

You pulled your husband down the stairs, with the arguments still going strong, Artie followed, ensuring that he was making an intimidating pose with every step, flexing his muscles as if it was a bodybuilder contest.

"Take some pastries with you (Name), Artie baked them this morning." Melinda handed you a box and paid little mind to the insanity around her, as if part of her knew that it would eventually come to this.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 22: Scheme Interrupted

You returned to the scouts base, tired from the lack of sleep the previous night. "Can we start the training tomorrow?" You whined, nearly falling off Knight, though you thankfully managed to hold on. "I'm tired."

Levi got off his horse and put it back in the stables. "You're not going to get any stronger if you act like such a wimp."

"You're being unreasonable." You got off Knight and put him into the stables as well. "I don't think I can learn anything right now anyway."

"Fine, take the rest of the day off, we'll start training tomorrow morning," Levi decided, maybe more so because of his own aching feet than as a mercy to you.

You thought about going to bed and sleeping until the next morning, then just as you approached the front door of the main building, you saw Eren, Mikasa and Armin heading out. "No detours this time, and hurry up." Levi warned as he passed them.

"Yes, sir!" The three replied with a hasty salute, not wanting to get stuck with dish duty like that time in the past that felt so far away.

"Do you want to come with us, (Name)?" Eren invited. "We're going to buy new mops this time."

You were tired, but you didn't really want to say no. It might help you relax if you hung out with your friends for a while, then you could go straight to bed after returning from the shopping trip. "Sure, I'll tag along."

Thus you, Eren, Mikasa and Armin went off to the market on foot, talking about the random occurrences in the lives of the scouts as you went along. Sasha had burned her tongue with bacon, because it was such a rare treat that she couldn't wait for it to cool before eating it. Hange had began to hypothesize if titans could prefer bacon to human flesh if they were exposed to the taste, and got into a debate with Sasha about if any of the bacon should be set aside for such experiments if another small titan was ever captured. Eren had jokingly volunteered to be the bacon taster, since he could titan shift and all, which prompted Hange to start stuffing bacon into his mouth, stealing it from other people's plates. It was chaotic, but then again, the peak hours at the mess hall were always chaotic in some way.

The four of you were calmly walking down the street, when Mikasa stopped at a shop to admire the display of wintery clothes, perhaps wondering if Eren would notice her more if she could wear a pretty coat like that.

"Do the scouts have Christmas parties?" You asked as you stopped to look at the display along with Mikasa.

"Christmas?" Mikasa questioned in confusion, you were shocked to see she didn't know about it.

The weather was cold now and Christmas was only a few days away. It had only been the beginning of fall when you joined the scouts. "Yeah, you know, December 25th, presents, jingle any bells?"

Mikasa shook her head while Armin shushed you in warning. "We're not supposed to talk about stuff from before, in the outside world, like oceans and holidays."

"No pirates or Christmas? Well I can't allow that. Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. I had lots of children's picture books about it growing up. I wonder what ever happened to them. There were lots of great stories about the north star, three kings and a baby boy. About a reindeer with a red glowing nose, a snowman that came to life and a chubby old man in red that brought presents. I say we have a secret celebration," you lowered your voice in plotting. "Though it might be a bit chaotic if we include mistletoe with so many people moving around." So what if Rose didn't have enough resources to spare on trees and decorations like when you lived at Sina, you didn't need any of that, with just a little holiday cheer, everything would be ready to go.

"Let's do it!" Eren was immediately on board, "I won't let the titans steal humanity's holidays!" He boldly declared, with Armin shushing him in caution. The blond boy liked the idea too, but this was not the proper place to discuss it so loudly. "By the way, what's mistletoe?"

"Oh, I think I know what it is," Armin mused. "I might have seen it in a book once." He seemed a bit embarrassed as he explained. "You have to hang it somewhere, like a doorframe," he whispered. "Then if someone stands under it at the same time, you have to kiss."

Mikasa blushed, "that's part of the holiday?"

"Yup," you confirmed. "You need to be careful around mistletoe, or everyone will expect you to kiss whoever you're caught with under it."

"Reminds me of that time we started chanting, kiss, kiss, kiss," Eren recalled. "Sorry about that (Name), you were new and we kind of put you on the spot with all the teasing."

You blushed, the memory still quite vivid for you, Levi's kiss on the cheek, your near transformation accident, and how you clung to Levi while trying to stop the mist from forming into a titan's limbs. "It's ok, I know you guys meant well, it was harmless teasing. I was just really shy back then."

"I bet they'll try to get you and Levi under the mistletoe once they learn what it's for," Armin theorized. He was right, everyone would surely be plotting to obtain the show they didn't get to witness that day.

"Maybe we shouldn't include mistletoe in our celebration," you whispered, mindful of the people walking up and down the street. It wasn't too busy though, as the atmosphere outside was getting colder.

"We should have a complete celebration," Mikasa suggested. "So that we may preserve humanity's traditions, I mean," she excused.

Anything that sounded like rebellion against the titans sounded good to Eren, "yeah!" He immediately agreed.

"If you really want to include it..." Oh man, how in the world were you going to explain this to Levi? What if you did get caught under the mistletoe with him? If the scouts banded together to make it happen, it would be almost certainly unavoidable.

You were lost in thought when out of nowhere, a strange man that looked like a stereotypical ruffian, with disheveled clothes and an uneven beard picked you up and threw you over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. "I got her, the rich girl from Sina!" He dashed away like a madman while you screamed to be put down.

Apparently the news that a scout was married to a lady of Sina had finally spread around Rose, but the news of your father's bankruptcy had not had time to spread yet. Caught completely off guard, Eren, Mikasa and Armin let out a chorus of gasps of surprise and began to run on kidnapper's pursuit, with Mikasa quickly taking the lead.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 23: The Chase

One minute you were merrily walking down the street, planning a Christmas party with Eren, Mikasa and Armin, then the next you were being kidnapped by a big smelly man. Since this was only a short errand to buy mops, the three aforementioned scouts didn't bring their ODM gear and had to give chase on foot. Mikasa took the lead, jumped and delivered a devastating kick to the man's head. He fell, dropping you in the process and you rolled away just in time to avoid getting squished under him. You stood, accepting Mikasa's help and dusted yourself off. "Thank you so much."

"You're wel-" Mikasa was interrupted by a scream, this one more boyish than yours.

Eren stumbled as he scrambled to stop his mad dash to catch up with Mikasa and turned towards the direction of the sound. The now unconscious ruffian wasn't alone. Two other similar looking suspicious men appeared on the scene as the few people that transited the streets cleared away in alarm. One of the men held Armin hostage, with a dagger at his throat. "Armin! Let him go!" Eren shouted angrily.

Mikasa glared, but it was too dangerous to move on the attack now. "I'll trade this little boy for that girl," the man gestured towards you.

You couldn't allow this to happen, besides, as long as the injury wasn't lethal, you could heal. Maybe you could find an opportunity to escape. They would attack and you might be injured, but they wouldn't try to kill you if they wanted a ransom and you could deal with minor injuries thanks to your healing abilities. "Alright, let him go," you stepped forward.

"Don't do it (Name)! Run away!" Armin protested and squirmed against his captors' iron grip.

You walked over to the two men and the one who wasn't holding Armin tied your hands behind your back with a piece of old rope, it was uncomfortably tight and you didn't think you could free your hands without help. You were once again tossed over another man's shoulder like a sack of potatoes, despite your protests of, "I can walk by myself!"

"I guess we don't need this one," the accomplice moved the dagger against Armin's throat and there was blood. Eren saw red and reached to bite his hand in an uncontrollable vengeful fury, but Mikasa stopped him. Armin fell limply to the ground, then in a swift movement he was kicking the man's feet from under him and the towering criminal was on the ground.

You squirmed to get lose from your captor's grip as Mikasa swooped in and planted her boot on the fallen man's face so hard she finished knocking him out. Armin was holding the bleeding cut on his neck, but he had twisted away in just the right way at the last moment and it wasn't deep enough to put his life in any danger.

The man that held you went on the run, with Mikasa giving chase. "Eren, help Armin take care of his wound, I'll get (Name)." The moment's distraction to call back to her friends caused Mikasa to lose sight of the kidnapper as he turned a corner. "(Name!)" She called out to you.

"Mikasa!" You shouted as loud as you could, hoping that she could follow the sound of your voice.

"(Name!)" Mikasa's voice echoed through the alleys as the chase continued towards the least nice sectors of Rose.

"Mikasa!" you screamed again.

"Shut up!" The man purposely knocked your head against a corner as he turned. It hurt, but you didn't stop screaming.

"(Name!)" Eren's voice joined in from a different direction and you realized the man was going in circles through a maze of narrow dim alleys in an effort to lose his pursuers.

"Eren!" You shouted in return.

"I said shut up, you stupid bitch!" Your kidnapper snapped.

"(Name!)" Armin too had joined the chase, the three of them running around like hamsters in a giant maze, trying to pin point your location based on the echo of your voice.

"Armin!" You shouted.

"Damn bitch, how many times do I have to tell you to shut up?" He bashed your head again and quite frankly you were getting sick of it.

"(Name!)" Mikasa's voice sounded like it came from higher up. She must have climbed to the rooftops, even without ODM gear, to have a better chance of spotting you.

"(Name!)" Armin's voice echoed, though he sounded a bit further away than Mikasa, or maybe there was just a wall between you, you didn't know.

"Mikasa! Armin! Eren!" You screamed as loud as you could.

Eren however didn't call out your name, instead his voice echoed with a surprised sounding, "Captain?!"

Levi? Levi was here? You squirmed like crazy and kicked nonstop, you didn't want him to see so you helplessly being kidnapped. You had to show him you weren't a wimp. You pushed yourself up, trying to crawl over your kidnapper's shoulder. The man that held you, pulled you down to stop you from trying to push yourself over your shoulder and at that moment you moved your legs to push yourself down instead, resulting in him momentarily losing his grip. You landed right in front of him and swiftly kicked him between the legs before he could pick you up again. His hands moved to shield himself and as he bent over in pain you kicked him over and over.

Titan mist began to float around your whole body but no titan limbs were forming. At some point your hands were suddenly free, but you were too focused on defending yourself, you kicked over and over, harder each time until you heard a cracking sound. Then suddenly, the ground beneath your feet was gone and you were flying through the air.

"Idiot, that's enough." You heard Levi's familiar voice, which snapped you from your panicked fury. "It'll be troublesome if you end up with a dead body to hide."

You gasped and tried to refocus your mind in the current happenings. Levi was using his ODM gear, though only one hook, since his other hand was occupied in holding you around the waist. He landed on a rooftop and set you on your feet. Your adrenaline was still on high, your breathing rapid and erratic. You had seen the mist, but there was no transformation, that must mean the adaptation process was complete and you really wouldn't be in danger of transforming any more. "Sorry..." you gasped, barely able to catch your breath. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry I got kidnapped, I'm sorry I'm troublesome, I didn't mean to have to rely on anyone, I don't want to be a burden."

"Shut up," Levi suddenly interrupted, his tone harsh. You fell silent and listened as he continued in a softer tone. "No one can go through life without relying on their comrades," he stated as if from experience. "I still expect a full explanation about what happened here."

"Alright," you nodded.

Levi looked at the street below. Armin was nervously talking to Commander Dot Pixis, who apparently happened to be passing by when he heard a suspicious commotion. Eren emerged onto the main street from an alley and Mikasa climbed down the side of a building, receiving shocked looks from said building's inhabitants. "Let's go," Levi helped you to the ground with the use of his ODM gear. "I knew it was bad news when those three were taking too long to bring the mops." Levi went over to talk to Dot, "I apologize for my cadets disturbing the peace, (Name) got kidnapped and they were trying to save her."

"Oh, it's quite alright as long as it was all resolved without anyone getting hurt," Dot looked at you curiously. "So this is your wife? I have heard about her, but never had the pleasure to meet her. Greetings, milady, I'm Commander Dot Pixis from the Garrison, it's an honor to meet you!" He cheerfully kissed your hand.

You gave a little bow, playing along with the formalities. "The honor is mine, commander, I'm (Name) (L-) Ackerman," you corrected yourself before you accidentally used your old surname.

The conversation took a turn from there, becoming filled with small pleasantries and cheerful comments. Dot complimented Levi on having married, "such a charming young lady" and teased him about making sure no one tried to steal you away again. The Garrison commander seemed nice and very cheerful.

However, after Dot Pixis left, Levi's look turned serious as he glared at you, Eren, Mikasa and Armin. "Where are the mops?"

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 24: It's not Mine!

Thankfully, Eren, Mikasa and Armin didn't end up stuck with some ridiculous punishment for not having the new mops readily at hand. This time Levi was lenient, probably because he was too exhausted to think of a fitting punishment, and let the three go on their way to purchase the mops and complete their mission. In the evening, you dragged yourself to bed, after having gotten a little distracted by something Sasha was telling you at dinner. You weren't sure what the conversation was even about, you just nodded at everything.

Levi had slipped away and you found him resting in his room, seemingly ready to sleep as he had already showered and changed. You got ready for bed too and were about to exit the room so as to not disturb the sleeping Levi, when he revealed he was still awake, "where are you going?"

"Sleep," you muttered drowsily.

"They're watching us," he reminded and it took your poor exhausted brain a few seconds to figure out what he meant. "I'll move in a second."

You nodded and returned to the bed. Everyone was expecting you to sleep in the same room and they would certainly notice if you didn't. You glanced at his feet, curious about their state, lifting the blanket to see. "those are some bruised little piggies," you giggled, hazy with sleep. "Are you ticklish?" You poked at his feet.

"Ever been kicked in the face?" Levi growled in warning.

"Aw, you're no fun." You retreated before he fulfilled his offer, at least his feet were exceptionally clean. "Why do your feet smell like vanilla mint?"

"Because smelly feet are for dirty people, slob," he began to get up.

"Where are you going? You don't have to move, the bed's big enough, besides, you must be," you yawned, "exhausted..." Your head touched the pillow and your senses were further blurred.

"Fine," You felt Levi lay down next to you, then he soon got up again a mere few seconds later. "Stupid sleep deprivation and aching feet," he grumbled, of course he was in pain after running around and fighting a bunch of ninja in the shoes of doom, then spending practically the whole day on his feet without rest. He was in pain and he was irritable. "I'm going to the infirmary," he announced, getting up and walking out the door.

You were curious and got out of bed with quite the big effort, as the pillow seemed to be constantly calling your name and dreamland kept trying to pull you in. "Does it hurt that much?" You stupidly asked as you followed Levi.

"What do you think?" Levi snapped, you couldn't blame him for that one. "You don't have to follow me," he growled.

"What kind of wife would I be if I didn't offer moral support?" You countered.

"The kind that's not nosy," he retorted.

The two of you made it to the infirmary where Hange was looking over the supplies and taking notes on a clipboard for inventory. "Hey," she greeted cheerfully, "need anything?" She assumed there was a reason for the visit, since no one really went to the infirmary for no reason.

Levi began to look through the supply drawers, searching for a general pain killer of some sort. His aching feet and sleep deprivation had put him in a sour mood punctuated by a headache. "I'm looking for a-"

"Say no more!" Hange interjected. You supposed that it was pretty obvious that Levi needed a painkiller, even if his feet were covered by slippers, because there was no way Levi the neat freak would walk around barefoot. He did have the irritated, pained expression that people often got when they had a headache, only much more deadly looking. Hange tugged the clipboard under her arm and dug around the drawers, pulled something out and handed it to Levi.

Levi examined the item, his murderous aura flaring in annoyance as he glared daggers at Hange. "This is not what I'm looking for!" He threw the condom on the floor in anger, allowing you a clear view of the item, which made your face turn red. You already knew that everyone assumed stuff happened between you and your husband, but it was still a bit embarrassing when you were directly reminded of their assumptions.

Hange lifted the clipboard as if to shield herself with it. "You don't have to act so offended, it's not like I have any way to know!" She dug around the drawers some more and handed Levi another item.

Levi angrily sent the newly acquired item crashing harsh against the floor as well, it was another condom, albeit of a larger size than the first. You weren't sure if this was mortifying, hilarious or both... probably both. "I want a painkiller, give it to me before I kill you, four eyes," Levi seriously warning.

"Oh," Hange gulped and inched away. "You have a headache, just a second, I'm sure we have some good painkillers left. Hange dropped her clipboard in her rush and dug through the drawers again until she produced a bottle of pills.

Levi ripped the bottle from her hand, took two pills and swallowed them without water. Then he grumpily left the clinical area. You picked up the clipboard from the floor and handed it back to Hange. "Sorry he's so grumpy."

"It's ok, it could be worse," Hange sighed. "Levi doesn't get headaches often, but when he does everyone better run for cover. We need to give him a headache in the middle of the battle field one of these days and let him lose. He'll probably kill off all the titans all on his own," she joked.

You laughed sleepily and a yawn escaped you. "Well, I should get going now, good night."

You were about to leave, but Hange stopped you. "Wait," she picked up the larger condom and handed it to you, "go ahead and take this, just in case he gets over his headache," she winked. Your face turned scarlet as you stammered a thanks and scurried out into the hallway.

On your way back to Levi's room, you ran into Eren, Mikasa and Armin, who took note of your pajamas. "You're going to bed already?" Eren asked. "We were going to do some more planning for the party, but I guess we can do that tomorrow."

"We still haven't thought about how to ask the commander to let us have the party, but it would be great if you talked to captain Levi about it," Armin suggested.

You were in such a hurry to get back to Levi's room and get some sleep and still a bit embarrassed over the scene with Hange that you dropped the item she had given you. "You dropped something," Eren automatically bent over to pick it up.

"That's ok, I'll get it," you hurried to pick it up before he saw what it was and ended up bumping your head against Eren's.

The two of you exchanged a chorus of "ow!" and "sorry!" while Armin resolved to pick up the item on the floor himself.

The blond boy handed it over, "here's your," then he noticed what it was and his face turned as scarlet as yours. He was rendered unable to finish the sentence and the troublesome item slipped from his suddenly numb grasp.

"Good night!" You hastily retreated in embarrassment, dashing to Levi's room and closing the door behind you.

"What's your problem?" Levi glared, the pain killer had not had its full effect yet.

"I ran into Eren, Mikasa and Armin in the hall," you babbled, your cheeks ablaze.

"What's so strange about that?" Levi questioned impatiently, he really wasn't in the mood for any more shenanigans. A knock on the door sounded off and all the color drained away from your face. Giving you an odd look, as if you'd gone insane, Levi walked past you to see who was at the door.

Levi opened the door to find Mikasa, who seemed to be hoping you would have been the one to come to the door instead. Nonetheless, she bravely soldiered on and held up her hand, the item you had dropped resting between her thumb and index fingers. "(Name) dropped this," she announced with as much composed indifference as she could muster.

Levi glared, snatched away the condom and rudely shut the door on her face. He then proceeded to throw it at you in annoyance, "you dropped this."

You failed to catch it, instead it bounced off your forehead and fell on the floor by your feet, prompting some criticism from Levi. "Don't throw your things on the floor, slob," he went back to bed.

"It's not mine!" You snapped before picking up the ever troublesome item, shoving it in a drawer and closing it. The color had returned to your face and it had become red again. Trying to ignored it, you climbed onto the bed.

"You sure make a fuss about stupid details for someone with such a large collection of that kind of novel," Levi commented.

"Those weren't really mine either," you defended.

"Just shut up and go to sleep," he finally ordered.

Though you were facing away from each other in an attempt to maintain some semblance of personal space, the truth was that the bed was simply too small for that and if you did as much as breathe you could feel his back against yours. It would have been a distraction if you weren't so tired, tonight you would have no trouble sleeping because of your extreme exhaustion, but you had no idea how you would manage to fall asleep like this tomorrow night.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 25: Merry Christmas

The next morning, Melinda came by with Fluffy. They had considered taking her to Mona Lisa's mansion at Sina, as the takeover was now complete, the ninja under her command, and returning was safe, but she wasn't fond of pets. A bakery was no place for a dog and they were very busy every day, so Fluffy had no one to play with. She seemed to be getting along with you much better than before, so you figured it would be ok to keep her at the scouts' base. She got along with everyone, except Eren, whom she kept barking at much like she did to you before.

Aside from that, the other big event lately was the Christmas party. You had managed to talk to Levi about it and, reasoning that it would help keep up the scouts morale, he actually agreed to it, though you had not mentioned the mistletoe. He said he would talk to Erwin about it and you had high hopes that the party would be possible. Erwin later made the official announcement, the party was to be kept low key, so that people didn't start pointing fingers, claiming that the scouts were misusing their tax money, but there would be a small celebration on the evening of December 25th.

xoxox xox xoxox

On the night of the party, you looked over your supplies, the cute little handmade ornaments sucked away at your sleeping hours but you were happy you finished them and would be able to hand them out on time.

"I could use this to clean the tea cup handles... Thank you, maybe I should give you a gift later," Levi dangled the tiny mop on his finger on the looped string attached to one end of the stick. The other end had abundant strands of red and green yarn. Levi's idea made you think of the time he got his finger stuck on a teacup handle while trying to push a cleaning cloth through it, both the thick cloth and his finger didn't comfortably fit at the same time.

The little mop was only supposed to be a decoration, but if Levi found a use for it, that was fine with you. "You're welcome, and you don't have to, I mean, this is just a small detail, and besides, it's not my birthday." You picked to the box you had brought a little earlier. When you first brought it you were cradling it as if trying to hide it, but then noticed that it would be inevitably seen and stopped trying. You handed it to Levi, who curiously opened it and looked inside. "Artie helped me make it," you admitted, "but I picked what to make and decorated it."

A little cake was the centerpiece with cookies all around it Charlotte Cake style and a 'Happy Birthday Levi' written in frosting on top. The cookies were shaped like various cleaning supplies, colored with frosting, mops, brooms, feather dusters and bottles of soap. On top there was a cookie box of soap, overturned with white sugar next to it to represent the detergent, and foamy white and pale blue frosting forming bubbles of soap all over the top of the cake. "Best cake design I've ever seen."

You giggled at that, finished putting away all the little ornaments for your friends in a bag and prepared to go downstairs. "Should we go to the party now?"

"I'm not taking my cake down there," Levi decided, there would hardly be any crumbs left if he did. Though the scouts had their own food, including cake, they would surely zero in on his cake because it looked so much better than any other cake. "We can eat it later, keep it a secret and you can have some."

"My lips are sealed," you agreed.

xoxox xox xoxox

The base became filled with activity as the mess hall was declared the party room and people put up whatever decorations they could find that serve to make the place more festive. Levi had come by to scold you and Krista about the bits of paper that had fallen on the floor when you were making paper snowflakes, but he hadn't been too grumpy about it. Artie promised to bring over a lot of treats from the bakery, which would be most welcomed.

The day of the festivities was kept, as promised, very low key, but it was also a very happy atmosphere, perhaps more cheerful than any other evening at the scouts' base. People gave each other little gifts and knick knacks, though there wasn't much time to do much. The highlight of the party had become the mistletoe, which Levi learned about when the permission had already been given. He made it a point to be aware of all the spots where it hung from the ceiling all over the mess hall and to stay away from them. No one had tried to get you and Levi under the mistletoe yet, but the night was young and you assumed the attempts would begin as soon as people noticed that it wasn't going to happen if they didn't make it happen.

Jean kept trying to get Mikasa under the mistletoe, luring her over with pastries and conversation, but Mikasa never left Eren's side, waiting to see if he would actually step under the mistletoe, though she wasn't really doing anything to make it happen. The eggnog went around and at some point it was spiked, a fact of which Hange was considerate enough to warn you. This party was possible in part because of you, so it would feel traitorous not to share that information. Improvised Christmas carols were sang, with one of them evolving into a happy birthday song for Levi after the news of it got out.

You made sure not to drink anymore eggnog after Hange's quiet warning. Jean, on the other hand, had no idea and his off key singing had become quite entertaining. Erwin was going around trying to find out who had spiked the eggnog without permission, though he had quite a bit himself and couldn't immediately see past Hange's act of innocence. Meanwhile, in the background, a tipsy Sasha was chasing Connie around with Fluffy in her arms, claiming that they had been caught under the mistletoe so he was obligated to kiss the dog.

A few kisses occurred under the mistletoe, mostly half drunk, yet shy and innocent, Mary Anne was the female half of several of them. No one specified what kind of kiss it had to be, so sometimes they were on the cheek, despite the protests of the audience that wanted to see a real kiss. Erwin interrogated everyone trying to find the spiked eggnog culprit and despite his blurred senses, he eventually began to suspect Hange, who was dead drunk by then and with a loud proclamation of, "you'll never take me alive copper!" she ran away.

Erwin gave chase in an attempt to prevent her from making a bigger drunken mess of things. Unfortunately, Hange ran right into the singing Jean, and Erwin, who was more drunk than he appeared, ran straight into Hange, leaving the three in a pile on the floor underneath the mistletoe. Hange noticed the plant above their heads and laughed loudly. "I get these two to myself!" She slurred before kissing both Jean and Erwin right on the lips. "Your turn, boys," she pushed their heads together before they could recover from the shock, forcing them into an awkward kiss, then promptly passed out among the cheers and hoots of her comrades.

Jean screamed bloody murder and made a big dramatic scene about his stolen kiss, while Erwin, picked up the drunken Hange from the floor, muttering that there would be consequences. Jean continued on his dramatic rampage, running all over the mess hall until he bumped into Armin underneath another mistletoe. Much to Armin's misfortune, the drunk Jean loudly declared. "My heart belongs to Mikasa, but if tradition demands it I shall kiss you, fair Krista!"

Armin tried to explain that he was not Krista, but Jean refused to back down and started chasing him all over the mess hall. Scared of suffering a terrible, and most mortifying, fate, Armin called out to his best friends for help. Mikasa was too distracted being territorial of Eren, but Eren noticed Armin's cries of agony and ran off to defend him. He placed himself between Jean and Armin protectively, but the drunk Jean couldn't keep up with Eren's sudden appearance and kissed him, believing he was kissing Krista. An enraged Mikasa kicked Jean away and sent him flying across the room, he crashed against a wall and was knocked out. Yet unfortunately for Mikasa, Eren had swiftly moved out of the mistletoe area in a fit of exaggerated coughs and gagging noises before she could step in.

Armin backed away from the chaos and the murderous Mikasa, she was his friend, but she was scary sometimes. He bumped into an unsuspecting Sasha, who was set on placing Fluffy and Connie under the mistletoe again, so that there would be no doubts that they would have to kiss. Fluffy licked Armin on the cheek and, realizing that they were under the mistletoe, Sasha kissed his other cheek, then resumed her quest. Connie had taken the distraction as an opportunity to hide under one of the tables and came out only after Sasha had ran off to the other side of the mess hall looking for him.

Concluding that the chaos had gone on long enough, Levi declared that the party was over and ordered everyone to march to their rooms. People started to file out of the mess hall among groans of complaint and tired drunken slurs. There were so many people going through the main door at the same time that no one care to reinforce the mistletoe rule in regards to the one hanging from the door frame.

Levi yelled at everyone to hurry up and they filed out into the hallway faster. Eren, who had been a tad nauseous and lagging behind, hurried to catch up with the main group, just as Levi was about to exit the mess hall himself. Someone, you weren't sure who, pointed out their position, causing both Levi and Eren to look up apprehensively. "The party is already over," Levi argued with finality, which made Mikasa let out a breath of relief.

However, the crowd did not relent and with a burst of alcohol fueled foolish bravery, they chanted, "kiss, kiss, kiss!"

"But this doesn't count," Eren argued nervously, appealing to the fact that they both liked girls and there were no girls in the current equation.

Mikasa took the situation into her own hands and dragged you towards the doorframe. She positioned herself in front of Eren and shoved you towards Levi, as the crowd cheered with teasing interest. "For freedom..." Mikasa whispered in a barely audible shy voice.

Eren nodded, suddenly blushing as if seeing Mikasa for the first time and wondering how he didn't notice her like this before. They kissed among the cheers of their peers, while you nervously watched on, wondering if this would be enough to satisfy the audience. It wasn't, and they kept staring at you and Levi expectantly, while blocking the only escape route. The next thing you knew, Levi had pulled you into a kiss. You wrapped your arms around him, part of you was saying that you were obligated to play along, while the rest of you was incapable of forming any coherent thoughts at the moment.

That night you had cake with Levi, and the next morning, the majority of the scouts had a hangover. Erwin was sure he meant to punish Hange over something, but he couldn't remember what it was, so he disregarded it. Besides, he had a nasty headache and it didn't look like she was faring any better, so perhaps karma had already done the job. Jean probably had the biggest headache of all, but secretly, though he was frustrated about not being able to kiss Mikasa, the thing that disturbed him the most was that weird dream where he kissed Eren. Levi seemed to be the same as ever, acting as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. You did your best to play along, yet you couldn't help it but to think that something in you had changed and there was no going back.

To be Continued

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