Dangerous Territory

BY : Rhov
Category: +. to F > Attack on Titan /Shingeki No Kyojin
Dragon prints: 2537
Disclaimer: I do not own “Shingeki no Kyojin” and do not make money from this fanfic.

Chapter 40

Plus Jamais

 

Levi awoke still in the soft, warm bed. He heard singing coming from far away, and whatever nightmare he had been reliving that night melted with the light lyrics. Even though he did not speak the language, he smiled just hearing Eren's melodic voice.

 

Dein ist mein ganzes Herz! Wo du nicht bist, kann ich nicht sein.
So, wie die Blume welkt, wenn sie nicht küsst der Sonnenschein!
Dein ist mein schönstes Lied, weil es allein aus der Liebe erblüht.
Sag mir noch einmal, mein einzig Lieb, oh sag noch einmal mir:
Ich hab' dich lieb!

Wohin ich immer gehe, ich fühle deine Nähe.
Ich möchte deinen Atem trinken und betend dir zu Füßen sinken,
dir, dir allein!
Wie wunderbar ist dein leuchtendes Haar!
Traumschön und sehnsuchtsbang ist dein strahlender Blick.
Hör ich der Stimme Klang, ist es so wie Musik.

Dein ist mein ganzes Herz…

 

My heart is all yours! I cannot be where you are not.
Just as the flower wilts when the sunshine does not kiss it!
Yours is my most beautiful song because it blossoms out of love alone.
Tell me one more time, my one and only love, oh tell me one more time:
I love you!

Wherever I go I feel your closeness
I want to drink your breath and sink at your feet praying,
you, you alone!
How wonderful is your shiny hair!
Your radiant look is dreamy and longing.
If I hear the sound of the voice, it's like music.

My heart is all yours…

* * *

Eren finished the song and finally came out of the bathroom wearing only his trousers, patting dry the cheeks he had just shaved.

"Sorry if I woke you," he said. "You can use my razor."

Levi watched him drying his face. "For someone who was so drunk you were hallucinating about monsters, you sure recover quickly."

Eren chuckled and tossed the towel aside. "My men hated that about me. We'd go out drinking in Paris, they'd wake up with some ugly girl and sick with Filzläuse, while I woke up with no aftereffects. I guess I'm lucky." Eren paused and looked Levi over. "I am so sorry about yesterday. I didn't know the wardrobe locked like that. It must have been humiliating."

"It was," he snapped. "It was cramped, it stank of dirty shoes and piss, and I'll be lucky if I don't develop a bladder infection. Still, you were trying to hide me. I'd rather be locked in a closet than shot. Besides," he grumbled, "it's not the first time I've had to hide in a cramped place until I pissed."

Eren nodded, accepting that as Levi's cantankerous form of forgiveness. "Also, in the bathtub." Eren's face already began to turn red. "I got carried away."

"It wasn't just you," Levi grumbled.

"I didn't want to disrespect you."

Levi raised an eyebrow. Was that what he worried about?

"I climbed into the tub, and you didn't want me to. I held on even as you tried to get away." Eren dropped his head in humble regret. "I am so sorry."

A plaintive smile came to Levi's mouth. "You idiot. If I really didn't want it, do you think you'd be able to get away with it?"

Eren slowly raised his head.

Levi assured him, "You weren't disrespectful. You were trying to get a point across. Maybe I'm a bit too stubborn and need someone to slam me against a wall, or crush me into a hug in the bathtub."

A tiny smirk flickered on Eren's lips. "You … liked that?"

"No, but I'm not angry that you did it." He felt his cheeks warm up. "And like I said, it wasn't just you."

They were both quiet as memories of those wild kisses and the slippery movements of their bodies replayed in their minds. They could not look at one another as their cheeks heated up. Especially Levi, faced with Eren without a shirt on. He was painfully handsome, and the sculpted perfection of those muscles did something to him.

Eren twisted his hands together nervously. "Did … Did you … enjoy it? Doing that much?"

Levi's throat really felt dry now. "I did it, and let's leave it at that."

Eren finally looked over and saw how red Levi's face was. It warmed his heart. "Levi—"

"Don't," he cut in. "Look, we got carried away. What we did was stupid. I'm not angry, but … don't expect that again."

Eren jolted. His instinctive reaction was to protest. He wanted to do it again. He wanted more. Then his mind instantly calmed down. The practical side of him knew that had been far too dangerous. What would have happened if Reiner had arrived five minutes later, when they might have been fully immersed in the throes of passion? What if he had heard them? Just having Levi in this room was dangerous. Losing themselves to passion was suicide.

Yesterday really had gone much farther than Eren thought it would. Now that he had a taste of passion, he wanted more, but he also feared how falling this much for one another would make separating harder. Already, his heart ached to touch Levi.

Levi averted his eyes. He had thought he knew what he wanted with Eren. A man being in love with him was strange, but so long as it was just simple kisses, playful touches, maybe cuddling in bed—all of that was fine. Still weird, but fine. It was flattering to think someone had a crush on him, even if that person was a man.

What happened in the bathtub went beyond what he expected, and what was more, he had been the one to push them that far. Eren had only lain in the water and savored what he himself was doing.

Looking back, Levi was ashamed of himself for letting it get so out of control, yet when they were in the moment, it had felt so right. If they had been fully alone, how would that situation have concluded? He had asked himself that question many times while stuck in the wardrobe, touching himself, imagining those faces Eren had made, and the answer sent a shiver down Levi's spine.

He had wanted it in the moment, but now, thinking rationally, he was not mentally ready for that.

"Do you regret it?"

Eren's soft question, filled with so much conflict, stung Levi. "No. I don't regret the choices I make. Even decisions that lead to people I love getting hurt, I made those choices for a reason, and I never regret pursuing that reason."

Eren turned away in shame. "If a choice I made led to you getting hurt, or worse, I would regret it until the day I die."

"Would you be the one to kill me?"

Eren's mouth dropped at the audacity of the question. "Never!"

"Then don't regret it." His eyes narrowed as he gazed straight up at the ceiling and the ghosts of the past. "Back when I lived on the streets of Paris, I had two friends, orphans like me. I guess we were a bit of a gang. We mostly did pick-pocketing or hustling foreigners. It's how I first learned English, conning British and American tourists. A few times, we were hired to do jobs, normally one store owner looking to take down a competitor, but once … he was obviously rich, some politician, wanted us to take out a foreigner who was causing him some problems. The foreigner spoke English, which is why the politician came to us, so I could talk to the man, get close, and kill him. We took the job because the money was good and the politician could have made our lives miserable.

"I wanted to do it alone, but my friends urged me to trust them. So I did, and we went as a group. This guy had bodyguards with guns. We knew it wouldn't be easy to get close, let alone take him out, but … we tried, and we failed. My friends were killed, I was shot but survived. I got out of there, knew a person, some crazy scientist named Hange, who patched me up. Hurt like the devil, but I survived.

"When I went back to the scene, my friends were gone. I don't know what happened to their bodies, and I didn't dare go ask around morgues. I was devastated, blamed myself, and I regretted letting them come along, going against my instincts. It was Hange who pointed out, I wasn't the one who killed them. I chose to trust my friends, and that's a choice I should never regret. Sometimes, all we can hope for is a life where we make the least-shitty decisions, and when one of our choices turns out bad, we keep moving forward even as we grieve."

Eren thought over that little story. It was inspiring, but so sad. Levi's life was rough even before the war.

"Also," Levi added, "that's how I ended up joining the army. I didn't complete the mission, so the politician who hired us was furious, sent police to our area, and I had to get out. I had nothing to lose, so I joined the army. It got me out of that hellhole, I traveled all over Europe and the African colonies, saw so many countries, and although it was shitty work, it made me the man I am."

Eren chuckled softly. Things ended up working out in the end.

"Anyway, the point is, don't regret the things you do. It'll cloud your mind and slow you down. I don't regret kissing you like that. I will never regret kissing you."

Eren smiled coyly. "Is that so?" He lay down next to Levi on the bed and rested on his elbow. "Would you regret giving me a morning kiss?"

Levi had to admit, he was smooth! "If I choose to kiss you in the morning, I wouldn't regret it."

Eren laughed at how he dodged that.

"So, what's the plan for today?"

"Rest!" Eren sighed, collapsing onto the pillow. "I need it, after all the walking yesterday."

"Is your leg still bad?" Levi asked in worry.

"It's getting better. It's those stairs that are a nightmare. I'd rather just stay here all day."

Barely realizing it, Levi reached over and stroked Eren hair. A relaxed smile melted onto Eren's face as his eyes drifted down.

"Don't you need to drill your troops?"

"My new Unteroffizier is taking care of it. I don't wanna go out there. It's still raining."

Levi lightly teased, "You're like a child who doesn't want to go to school."

Eren lazily chuckled, savoring the feel of Levi's fingers petting him. "Were you like that as a boy?"

"I didn't go to school."

Eren's eyes shot open. "At all?" he cried out.

"Just the first two of three years, while my mother was still alive. When my uncle became my guardian, he didn't much care for formal schooling, so he just never told me to go. I learned to read enough to get by. Math was counting the money we got from pick-pocketing and evenly distributing it between my gang. History? Who wants to learn about kings picking their noses and ordering other people to die so they can build a bigger palace? Science was if the mold on your food was good mold or bad mold, geometry was useful to win at shooting pool, chemistry was only if you were into making drugs, and you only needed to know enough human anatomy to make sure your knife hit a vital point. In that, my education was quite thorough."

"Then you don't know if I'm acting like a child." Eren rolled over and wrapped his arms around Levi, snuggling in close.

Levi smiled in wry amusement. "You're clingy today."

"I keep getting hit with the realization that you will be gone soon." He gave a sigh and rubbed his hand along Levi's arm. "I talked to Armin last night while out drinking. He's been looking over maps."

"At least one of you is doing something."

"Hey!" Eren gripped around Levi tighter. "I'm supposed to be healing. I can't be out walking the perimeter of the city."

"You're supposed to be getting me the hell out of here. That's what you promised."

"I know," he sighed. "I can't help wanting to delay it just one more day so I can be with you."

Levi chuckled wryly. "What a spoiled brat!"

Yet he let Eren cling to him. Fingers played through his hair or glided along his arms. Eren's lips peppered the top of his head. All of this tenderness was soothing the edges of Levi's heart, filling him with warmth that felt so foreign to him.

"So, what did Armin find?"

"Hmm? Oh. There's fighting to the north and south, the main army coming from the west, so when you get out of the city, you need to head east, then aim for Kœnigsmacker or Malling, where we crossed on our way here. Once you get across the Moselle, Luxemburg-Stadt is probably your best bet."

"Do you mean Ville de Luxembourg? Yes, they have trains there. It's where I was heading to before you yanked me back into Nazi servitude."

"Sorry," he muttered. He had been on Pervitin at the time, but he still remembered how heartless he had been when forcing Levi back, all so Kitz Woermann would not shoot him. "I'll have Armin bring his map later today. It sounds like he has the starting of a solid plan, but warned that the Allies could restart their march soon. If they surround Metz, you will have a really hard time getting out safely. He said the eastern gates are guarded with checkpoints. You'll need papers. It's too bad you tore up Carly's address. They could have helped with that."

"I still have it memorized."

Eren looked up in surprise. "Still? You saw it for barely a few seconds."

"That's all I need. See, I didn't go to normal schooling, but my memory has always been good. I picked up English by memorizing a language book I stole from a tourist. My good memory was a reason I was picked to work with the SIS. I could read a letter just once, even one in a language I didn't know, and memorize it well enough to write it out later. Une bouteille de bourgogne se marie le mieux avec une tempête. That's the pass phrase to get in. It's all up in here," he said, tapping his head.

"That's amazing," Eren cried out.

"I should probably go check it out before they change the pass phase."

Eren clung a little tighter and whined, "Today?"

Levi chuckled at his pertinacity. "How about later tonight?"

Eren stared off toward the windows dripping with rain. "Then this really could be our last day together."

"I doubt it. It'll take a while to get papers forged."

"Still, I keep asking myself, how do I want to spend our last day together?" His brow furrowed in misery. "It hurts just thinking about it."

"Then don't. I'm still here," Levi said softly, stroking back Eren's brow until it relaxed. "And it won't be our last day. We have a promise, right?"

Eren smiled and sank at Levi's petting. "Meet you in New York."

"That's right."

Eren's arms gripped Levi possessively and yanked him in closer, smothering him and still feeling like it was not enough. He glared out at the world around them that seemed so determined to rip them apart.

"While we're together…" He let the thought drift off, full of so many things he wanted to do.

Levi embraced him and rested on his chest. "Yeah. While we're together."

They could be just like this.

They could be boyfriends, a couple, together, courting, whatever they wanted to call it.

They stayed there for many minutes, listening to the rain outside, trying to impress in their minds the memory of this moment. Resting on Eren's bare chest, Levi listened to the beating of his heart and inhaled his scent. He rubbed up and down his smooth skin, wanting to remember the feeling of warmth.

After a while, Levi felt Eren's hands sliding down his back, tentatively going lower, like he wanted to sneak in without being detected. Levi could hear Eren's heart racing as his fingers sank slowly toward his ass. As they reached his belt line, he heard Eren gulp just before braving the borderline. Immediately, Levi yanked away.

"Don't."

"Sorry," Eren whispered, but his cheeks were flushed, embarrassed about getting caught. He leaned in to kiss Levi, but this time a hand pressed on his chest, pushing him back into the pillows.

Levi warned, "I don't want to get caught up in this again. You know what happened last time."

"I just want to kiss you," Eren pleaded.

He looked so pathetically hopeful, it stung Levi to reject him. "It's never just a kiss with you."

The last thing he wanted was to tempt himself with Eren's touches and kisses again. He was obviously weak to them, and he had to admit, it was so very, very, very tempting to surrender and let himself be conquered. Especially if their time together was short, he wanted to give in and enjoy it while he still could.

"Just a kiss, promise," Eren whispered. "It could be our last day. Please, may I?"

Seriously, he really was too weak when Eren asked for permission like that. Levi closed his eyes and leaned down. Their lips met in a tender kiss. Eren's arms wrapped around him in protective warmth, but he did not part his lips for more. As he promised, it was just a kiss. When he leaned back, the smile on his face was like heavenly redemption.

"See," he said, sounding so proud of himself. "Just a kiss."

Yet Levi knew the truth. With Eren, he was the one who always wanted more. He leaned in again, and he obviously shocked Eren by kissing more aggressively, nipping at his low lip and seeking out his tongue. Eren passively allowed Levi to plunge in with a pleasant hum.

Levi felt this heart racing. Damn, I want him!

Levi shifted his body closer. He wanted Eren's hands on him, touching him like yesterday. When Eren only held him around the back, he got a little more persistent, putting one leg around him, not quite climbing on top, but showing he wanted more. Still, Eren's hands stayed where they were. Levi suddenly straddled over Eren's hips and caged him in with his hands on either side of the pillow. He wished his shirt was off so he could feel Eren's bare chest.

Levi suddenly attacked Eren's neck and sucked there to mark him. He got an erotic gasp and felt Eren's body quiver with pleasure, yet his hands still only tightened a little more.

He was being obedient. Levi realized it was he himself who was pushing them.

He backed off, sat up, straddling Eren's waist, stunned at his actions and angry at himself. Eren lay on the pillows, flushed, breathing hard, rubbing the side of his neck. He looked shocked by the attack and seemed to be evaluating it like an officer planning a return volley.

Levi knew, he was the one in the most danger here, so why was he acting so irresponsibly?

This was dangerous.

He looked at Eren, but his eyes suddenly held anger. "Have you ever fucked a man?"

Eren jolted at the blunt question. Then he laughed while his face turned red. "Jean asked me the same question when he was here. No, I have never had sex with anyone."

Levi gulped hard. The memories of what he had experienced, that public humiliation and the brutal rape afterward, still haunted him. He climbed off Eren and collapsed back down beside him, staring off at the memories of pain. "If … If we ever do that, then … not me. I'm not going through that again. I don't think I can without … without remembering."

Eren's eyes softened with sympathy. That day would probably always be a nightmare. He hugged Levi and rubbed his back. "I know," he whispered. "I would never force you to do anything you don't want. Why do you think I ask to kiss you all the time? I want to be sure that what we do, it's what you want."

Levi knew that Eren was diligent in never pushing him too fast. The problem was, even Levi did not know how far he wanted to go. His forehead furrowed as he fought between the desire burning inside of him, and the cold dread of his dark, agonizing memories.

"Also," Eren said hesitantly, "there are plenty of things we can do without … putting it in." He stroked up and down Levi's back with enticing fingers, sending chills through his body. "What we were doing yesterday was really nice. Was that okay with you?"

Levi grudgingly admitted, "In the moment, it was."

"I can also use my hand, or … more," he said, biting his lower lip coyly.

Levi arched an eyebrow. "More?"

"And if you ever do want to … to put it in … there are ways to make it not painful. My two friends from school told me about what worked best." He leaned in close to Levi's ear and whispered. "One day, when you're ready, I can teach you, and you can try it on me. Only when you're ready."

Levi gulped hard as his heart raced and his body thrummed. "Dammit, takhshet. Shut up, before I can't convince myself that I'm not aroused."

Eren's hand slid down his torso. "But you are." His hand reached the belt line, that forbidden border, and stopped. "May I touch you?" he whispered.

He wanted it! He wanted it so much, his body was shaking.

And he knew just how dangerous this was!

Levi suddenly pulled away and sat up on the edge of the bed, facing away from Eren. "I should wash up."

Eren frowned, worried if offering that much may have offended Levi. "How about breakfast?"

Levi silently nodded and rose from the bed. He ran his hand through his hair, shook the chaos out of his head, and went to the bathroom. After peeing, washing up, and a quick shave, he gazed into the mirror as he brushed his teeth. Just two days ago, he noticed how old he looked. Now, while the face was the same, he felt like something changing inside him and made his eyes shine a little brighter.

It scared him.

Being in this room was so dangerous, yet he was numb to the threat. He purposely ignored that part of his brain screaming out orders on how to best survive this situation. Yet by ignoring instincts, he was placing Eren in danger as well.

The last thing he wanted was for Eren to get into trouble because of him.

Scenes flashed through his mind: his friends being killed on the assassination job gone bad, a soldier he had befriended in Africa being taken down with a sniper's bullet, Petra lying in a pool of blood, Moses collapsing with a bullet in his head, and the massacre in the dungeon, the Jews he had eaten with, danced with, prayed with, encouraged through dark nights and struggled to protect them, all killed, while he could do nothing but watch and wait for the next bullet to be aimed at him.

Pools of blood spread out. The mirror turned red. Levi looked down at his hands. They were purplish red, dripping thickly with the blood of those he could not save. He began to shake in horror and looked back up into the mirror.

Blood dripped down his face, and behind him, just over his shoulder, he thought he saw the specter of Eren with blood gushing from a slit throat.

Levi gasped and slammed his eyes shut. It's not real.

"Non. Plus jamais." No. Never again.

He vigorously washed his hands, although he knew there was no blood on them. He splashed water on his face, but when he looked back up into the mirror, all the blood was gone, as was the phantom of Eren. He knew it was all in his mind, yet the portent of doom scared him.

He could not allow Eren to get killed. No matter the price, he would make sure he survived.

He stepped out of the bathroom and saw Eren smiling so brightly, it hurt.

"I called for room service and got omelets this time. I hope that's good."

Levi gulped and nodded.

Eren saw that Levi looked pale, and he hurried forward. "Are you okay?"

Levi stuck his hand out, preventing Eren from getting too close. "I'm fine. I should go up before the food arrives."

Eren took the hand pushing him back, brought it to his lips, kissed the knuckles, and sidled up close to Levi. "You could stay here."

"I am not hiding under your bed or in your wardrobe again."

"It's just room service. He can't enter unless I give him permission."

Levi took a firm step away from Eren and yanked his hand back. "I'm not risking that."

Eren frowned, but he could not blame Levi for being cautious. Levi pulled the chair over to the attic door, climbed up, and pushed the hatch open. Eren was quickly there to hold him, lifting Levi up. Yet as he held around him, his hands slyly groped just a little.

"No."

Eren immediately stopped and simply held Levi steady to lift him up into the attic. Then Levi shut the hatch closed.

In the poorly lit area with the sound of rain tapping on the roof, Levi walked hunched over to his little setup. If anyone came up here, they would be suspicious. With all of the hotel's old furniture covered in dust rags except for that small table, it would draw attention right away. Worse, he had simply left everything as it was, including his Tanakh sitting out on the table. That was beyond stupid. Anyone would know it was a Jew hiding up here.

This was all so damn dangerous.

"Qu'est ce que je suis en train de faire bon sang?" What the hell am I doing?

He looked at the boxy green military torch Eren had given him. If anyone came up here, found that, and realized Eren was missing his torch, the connection would be easy. The sheer fact that he was here, when Eren had told his captain that he shot Levi after arriving in Metz, was proof enough that Eren was the one hiding him.

His presence alone was dangerous.

He thought he heard a gunshot, and although he realized it was the sound of a car backfiring, he still slammed his eyes shut to the vision of Petra collapsing. His stomach began to heave, and he fell to his knees.

"Plus jamais." Never again.

He would never allow it to happen again! Not to another person he cared for.

Levi stared out the window. The streets of Metz were drenched after two days of heavy rain, yet the birds still flew around so freely. Free to leave this city. Free to fly away from danger. Free to escape at any time they wanted. There was freedom in their wings.

"Plus jamais."

* * *

Eren scratched on the attic hatch, but there was no response. He waited, then lightly knocked. When still no one answered, he opened the hatch and peeked up.

"Levi?" he called out in a whisper. "Breakfast is here. I got tea this time."

No one replied. He looked at the table by the window and realized it had been covered back up with a white cloth. He glanced all around the attic.

"Levi?"

Dread filled him. He scrambled up into the attic, hurting his leg in the process. He hissed as the wound scraped on the hatch ledge, but he still pulled himself up. He walked hunched low with the slanted ceiling. He realized there were strategic boxes laid out. Levi had mentioned that they blocked squeaky boards. He moved around the boxes toward the far window.

"Levi?" He peeked around the wall of boxes, but the bedding was gone. He spun around, trying to find where everything went. "Levi!"

Then on the table he saw a German military torch and an Esbit stove, things Levi had borrowed from Eren. He picked up the boxy light, and tears lined his eyes.

"No…"

He then noticed raindrops splashed onto the floor and windowsill, like the window had been opened briefly. Eren scrambled over and threw the window open. He was ready to scream for Levi, but he heard the noise of traffic below. Rain drizzled down as he looked around the street with desperation.

"Levi?" he seethed quietly, anguished that he was unable to scream.

Then, far down the street, he saw a small man wearing a flat cap and yellow leather jacket. Eren gasped as he realized it was Levi.

He was leaving.

Eren desperately wanted to scream at him to come back, but he knew he could do nothing. Even if his leg was good, by the time he ran down four flights of stairs and out into the street, Levi would be gone. He could only watch as Levi tugged his cap a little lower against the rain, flipped his collar up, and continued down the street, vanishing in the gray mist of the city.

Eren sank back into the attic and closed the window. He stared ahead in shock.

Maybe he was just going for a walk.

Maybe he needed fresh air. He would be back.

Maybe…

A sob gasped deep in his throat. Eren slammed his hand over his mouth, trying to hold in the pain. His chest shook with cries he could not release. He had to get out of the attic before someone heard. He had to get back to where it was safe. Levi left for his protection, after all.

He grabbed up the things Levi left behind, scrambled out of the attic, back into his room, and shut the hatch tightly. He dropped the borrowed items onto the table and glared at them. He had let Levi use those. They were meant to be part of his supplies for when he left.

By the bed, placed to the side, was the French copy of The Count of Monte Cristo. Eren touched the cover, but his hand shook. He got this book for Levi.

All of these things, they were meant to help him. They were gifts Eren was happy to give. He was planning to call Armin to come in later that day. They were going to help plan something.

This felt like Levi was rejecting all of his help. Even this book.

He was rejecting him.

Two plates sat on the breakfast cart, plump omelets, toast and jam, a teapot, all waiting. They were supposed to try tea together. Levi promised!

"I … I got you … tea."

A sob burst out. He had even remembered the tea this time, and Levi left him. He left without a word!

He shoved the wheeled cart aside, sending it crashing into the wall.

"Verdammt!" he screamed.

Eren threw himself onto the bed and smothered a wail of grief into his pillow. He hit the bed, angry at Levi for sneaking away without warning him, enraged at himself for greedily wanting Levi back, grieved that he had put Levi in so much risk that he felt the need to sneak away, and mad he had not done more to help him find a safe way to leave Metz.

He was gone.

Eren choked on tears. He knew being separated from Levi would be hard, but he had thought they could say their goodbyes, kiss in one final moment of bittersweet tenderness, and promise once again to see each other after the war. He thought it would be a heartrending farewell filled with hope for the future.

Instead, Levi ripped the bandage off, and it hurt.

It hurt so bad.

"Nein! Nein, nein, nein!"

Levi had told him not to regret the choices he made, but Eren regretted all the things he didn't do.

He didn't take Levi's safety more seriously.

He didn't love him enough to prioritize his security.

Eren thought to himself with misery, it really wasn't true love after all. It had been nothing but infatuation, foolish, greedy, and dangerous. He had wanted to feel that thrill of passion more than making sure Levi was safe.

Eren wailed into the pillow, mad at himself for being so careless and selfish, and wishing Levi would come back so he could apologize.

"I'm sorry," he screamed into his pillow. "I'm sorry."

Levi left him, and Eren felt like he failed.

He failed as a boyfriend.

Now Levi was gone.

"I'm sorry…"

There was a thudding knock on the door. Eren jolted up, for a moment filled with hope. Maybe Levi had come back. Then he realized there was no way a Jew could just walk into a hotel full of German officers. His next fear was that Levi had already been caught, or maybe someone saw him escape out the attic and had questions.

"Wer ist da?" Who is it?

"Wim," came a curt answer.

Eren raised up, wiped his face, and walked into the bathroom to quickly look. It was obvious he had been crying. Still, he stiffened his shoulders, calmed his heart, and opened the door. The brawny lieutenant stood there.

"I heard a crash. Is everything okay?"

"Ah." He glanced back at the cart now with food overturned and a broken teacup. "Sorry, just … I got some bad news. Someone I care for … well…"

"I see," Wim said solemnly. "My condolences."

Eren nodded in silent thanks, and Wim turned away back to his room. War was hell. They all had lost someone they cared for. An emotional outburst of pain and rage was normal.

Eren closed the door and leaned against it. As his eyes closed, another tear rolled down his cheek. He felt empty, like he was falling into a void.

Levi was gone. Eren had no idea if he would ever see him again.

They had promised, though.

"Meet you in New York," he whispered as another tear fell.

It was one lingering hope in such painful emptiness.

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Dein ist mein ganzes Herz (My heart is all yours) – from the operetta Das Land des Lächelns by Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. When the Third Reich came to power, there was some contention about Lehár's music. He had always used Jewish librettists (lyric writers) and his wife was Jewish. Calls were made to have her deported to a concentration camp. However, Hitler admired Lehár's music so much, he had Goebbels make Lehár's wife an Ehrenarierin, honorary Aryan. (Sounds a lot like Eldians striving to become honorary Marleyans, right?) The Jewish librettist Fritz Löhner-Beda wrote the lyrics to Dein ist mein ganzes Herz and dedicated it to his daughter. He and his family were arrested, sent to Auschwitz, where they died in the gas chambers. It is unknown if Lehár tried to plead for Löhner-Beda to be spared, or if he did not want to push his luck. Lehár survived by flattering the right people, continued to give performances at Nazi propaganda concerts, and even sent lavish birthday gifts to Hitler. After the war, he refused to talk about his work with the Third Reich. To be fair, he probably did whatever he thought would keep his wife alive and felt deep shame for turning his back on the friends who wrote his most famous songs. His music is still well-loved, Lehár ranks as one of the greatest operetta composers in history, and his arias continue to be sung by some of the greatest tenors in the world.

Filzläuse – German for crabs, and not the yummy type. Sexually transmitted diseases were such a problem on all sides during WWII that both Allies and Axis offered soldiers free condoms. American servicemen got a pack of three condoms in their weekly rations. The positive side of this was the social acceptance of condoms and other birth control methods, eventually leading to more women's reproductive rights.

"I guess we were a bit of a gang" – Although Furlan and Isabel were mentioned earlier in this story (I really wanted him to be a RAF pilot and she married him and they lived happily ever after dammit) Levi's story is absolutely taken from A Choice Without Regrets OVA. He mentioned knowing Hange as well earlier in this story, calling them a "brilliant" but "mad quack." We'll hear more about Hange later.

MOOD MUSIC! Here’s a song for that ending, Plus Jamais by Aya Nakamura feat. Stormzy: https://youtu.be/2KTet3IyKTA



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