Minor warning for language and mild alcohol use.
The biting midnight wind ghosted through the old oak trees, their gnarled boughs creaking under the pressure. Branches, twisted and curled like clawed fingers scraped and tapped against the window pane, as if begging for entry. The room was almost completely engulfed in shadow. Only the defiant glow of a single candle on the desk fought off the impending darkness.
Rubbing at your puffy eyes, you sighed, causing the tiny flame to flicker in protest. Your gaze roamed dutifully across the stacks of paperwork, analyzing how much work remained and if any could be put off until tomorrow.
As you supported your chin upon one hand, you lazily rummaged through the pages with the other.
A few hours worth left, at the least. And it looks like its already midnight, or maybe even later. Damnit...
Letting out a loud yawn, you stretched out in your chair, eliciting a creaking sound from your spine. As you relaxed again, your eyes wandered to the two bloodstained insignias upon your desk.
Seems like every expedition, I'm doomed to lose at least one.
You reached out one hand, trembling fingers gently smoothing the ruined fabric with a heavy heart. Two cadets lost to the titans on their first expedition. Not an uncommon thing in this military branch, but still a devastating toll. Both of them had been so young, practically still children. So fresh, such bright young minds with high hopes, determination and limitless dreams...
Oh to hell with paperwork! I need to fucking sleep. If Erwin has a problem with that, he can bite my head off tomorrow.
With that, you pushed yourself up from the desk, chair scraping audibly across the wooden floor. You eyed your bed, weighing up your options for a few moments. Grabbing your dressing gown, you wrapped it around your body and tied it off at the waist. At this time of the year, wandering around in nothing but nightclothes was just begging for a cold.
The rusty hinges of the door to your quarters creaked, the noise obnoxiously loud in the silent castle. Out in the corridor, the only sounds that pervaded the still air were that of the wind and your gently padding footsteps. The lanterns lining the walls cast a sickly orange glow that caused your shadow to travel erratically across the floor.
At night, the castle felt like a completely foreign place. Like some kind of world from a dream, full of unfamiliarity and devoid of the usual sights, smells and sounds. You wandered slowly, gazing solemnly at each door you passed. Which of them were now empty? How many more rooms would be left cold and silent after the next mission?
How long until the Survey Corps dwindles down to nothing?
Finally, you arrived at your destination. A pair of huge, cumbersome wooden doors at the end of the North Wing. You twisted the icy ornate handle, the sensation of frigid metal beneath your fingers forcing you further awake.
Entering the room, your exhausted eyes disinterestedly scanned the dimly lit meeting chamber. An expansive, well furnished room secluded at the end of the North Corridor, this place was strictly for squad leaders like yourself. Amber lantern glow flowed languidly across the heaving bookshelves, the thick cushioned armchairs and multiple wooden tables.
Quite often, you came to this room to browse the incredible range of books. Strange novels of worlds without titans, dusty tomes brimming with war tactics, even guidebooks for every trade or hobby imaginable.
But not tonight.
Purposefully, you stalked over to a towering cupboard positioned against the far wall. Unhitching the old latch, the doors swung open to reveal your goal.
Ah, alcohol, dearest friend of mine...
Kneeling in front of the treasure trove of dark liquids, a smile crept across your lips. Your fingers trailed luxuriously across the dusty bottles, leaving contrasting paths in their wake. Your gaze swept across the dark parchment labels and tags. Rum, mead, mulled wine, whiskey, bourbon...
Oh decisions, decisions...
"While you're at it, you may as well clean that filthy old cupboard."
The sudden voice made you jump in shock, yelping as you accidentally knocked a tumbler from one of the shelves. The heavy glass landed forcefully on your thigh, bouncing down and rolling away. You winced at the pain, rubbing the throbbing skin.
"I-Is that you, Lance Corporal?"
"Levi, and yes. You're lucky that didn't smash." His voice grumbled from the far end of the room.
Scrambling to pick up the fallen glass, you raised yourself up on your knees and peeked across the room to a lone table. An ornate candelabra illuminated the small desk, the light glowing upon Levi's face. He looked worn out, hunched over slightly in his chair. He had foregone his usual uniform for a simple white button shirt and black trousers, his famous cravat absent. In his hand was a quill-pen, and his dark eyes were fixated in your direction.
"What are you doing?" He asked bluntly.
"Ah, well I uh... I decided to come in here to have a nightcap, to help me sleep and all." You replied sheepishly. You could feel the heat creeping into your face.
Damnit, just my luck to run into the Corporal on a night like this. Now what the Hell is he going to think of me? I work my ass off to impress him, not make him think I'm a drunkard...
"Tch. Pour me one too then, and don't be stingy about it."
Your eyes widened in surprise, almost dropping the glass again.
I don't think I've ever seen the Corporal drink before.
Carefully, you lifted a second tumbler from the cupboard and selected a particularly strong whiskey. Half filling the two glasses, you returned the bottle and wandered over to the table where Levi waited.
Levi's steel grey eyes had returned to the desk, stacks of paperwork piled neatly in front of him. Setting a glass of amber liquid next to his inkwell, you sat in the chair next to him.
"That better not be the filthy glass you dropped."
Letting out a humorless chuckle, you waved your glass before him. "No worries there, Levi. I have that one."
Levi simply gave a curt nod before returning his attention to the paperwork. Sipping at your biting beverage, you observed him working as you relished the tingling heat in your stomach from the alcohol. The minutes ticked past peacefully, the only sounds coming from the scratching of the quill and the moaning wind outside.
"So why did you need a nightcap this time?" Levi said quietly, finally breaking the silence. He placed his quill-pen back into the inkwell and focused his attention on you.
"This time?" You questioned, swirling the last of your drink around the glass.
Levi sighed, taking a swig of his own whiskey. "Yeah, this time. I've seen you raid that cabinet a few times now."
You drained the remaining liquid and rose from your seat. Levi lifted an eyebrow curiously as you stalked back over to the shelves, pulling the whiskey bottle out again. Half filling your glass, you peered at the bottle thoughtfully.
Oh fuck it. I need this.
Instead of returning the bottle to the cabinet, you brought it back to the table with you. Levi's gaze burned into you as you slumped back down in your seat.
Groaning, you held your face in your hands, fingers kneading your temples. "The expedition today."
Levi watched you solemnly, his slate eyes lacking their usual icy tinge.
"How many?" He asked bluntly, voice low.
You raised your face from your trembling hands, fighting to mask your misery.
"Two. Both fresh recruits. Merely children, Levi."
You reached for your glass, but you were stopped. Levi's calloused fingers caged your wrist, his skin cool against your own. Your eyes widened, and you stared at him in confusion as a dark blush spread across your face.
"_____. A nightcap is harmless, but I won't watch you drink away your sorrows every expedition. You'll only develop a shitty habit. I won't allow it."
"I won't become an alcoholic, if that's what you're getting at..." You grumbled, eyes downcast.
Levi's hand relinquished your wrist only to hook under your chin, forcing you to face him once more. His face was merely inches from your own. You could feel the heat rising further in your cheeks as he captured your gaze, steel grey eyes burning into yours. The corners of his lips were turned down slightly in concentration, as if he was searching for something within your eyes. You became increasingly aware of his proximity to you, his cool breath fanning across your chin, how close his lips were to yours...
After what felt like an eternity, Levi sighed and removed his hand from your face.
"Good. I'd have to kick your shitty ass otherwise."
You let out a sharp laugh at his threat, the first real mirth you had felt all day. Levi's mouth twitched slightly as he turned back to his paperwork. Relaxing in your chair, head propped up on one arm, you continued to watch him work. Your eyes followed the downward curve of his lips, the sharp chin flowing into the defined jawline, his taut skin bathed in orange glow. Your gaze continued it's journey south, trailing across his collarbone through the open shirt collar. Just a little further than that, you could vaguely see the chiseled chest that lay hidden. Your already flushed cheeks burned further, and you attempted to focus on his busy hands instead.
"Hey, Levi?" You asked in a quiet voice.
He grunted without looking at you, informing you that he was listening.
"Why are you still doing paperwork at this hour anyway? And why in here?"
Levi paused in his writing to shoot you an unimpressed eye-roll, causing you to smirk slightly.
"Because some of us actually take documentation seriously, unlike others." His gaze struck yours purposefully. "And I'm in here because it's more comfortable, is that a problem?"
Swirling your glass again, you shook your head. "Was just curious is all."
And so the room fell into the comfortable silence once more. You were gradually growing sleepier, eyelids drooping as you watched the candle flames dance languidly. The rhythmic scratching of Levi's quill-pen against parchment was like a strange lullaby, easing your troubles as you inhaled the scents of whiskey and his cologne.
At some point you had finished off your drink, but the desire for another had long since dissipated. The fuzzy warmth from two glasses of whiskey mixed deliciously with Levi's company had overpowered any need you had harbored for more alcohol. Instead, relaxing peacefully together in a night that seemed endless was more than enough.
"It'll happen again, you know... It'll happen far too often."
"Hmmm?" You roused yourself from your drowsy state, looking up to meet Levi's eyes once more. His expression was troubled, yet sincere. He set his quill down again to give you his undivided attention.
"The deaths. Until we have eradicated the titans from this world, there will continue to be sacrifices and losses. They all joined the Survey Corps knowing the dangers. You should be aware of them yourself by now, _____."
Levi was leaning in close again as he spoke, unwavering gaze holding you captive. His hands seemed incredibly near to yours upon the desk, making your heart pound and your cheeks burn. All fatigue you had felt up until now was banished by the seeping adrenaline.
"I know that, Levi." You murmured, holding back tears through sheer determination. "But the fact that it'll keep happening doesn't make it any easier. I don't think I'll ever get used to watching my comrades die."
After a few seconds of heavy silence, staring at one another, Levi spoke. "Good. That means you'll never lose sight of what's important. That their deaths will never be in vain."
You could feel your heart swell at his heartfelt words. How rare of an occasion to hear Levi speak so openly like this. You couldn't help but feel a sense of privilege that Levi was letting you see his more empathetic side.
"Thankyou, Levi. Somehow, you always manage to make me feel more confident about everything..."
The heat in your cheeks and the alcohol made you feel slightly light headed as you continued to hold Levi's gaze. Subconsciously you began to edge closer to him, the scent of whiskey upon his breath intoxicating. Your eyes flickered down to his thin, slightly parted lips and back up to those deep gray eyes. Your heart-rate sped up erratically at the thoughts that crossed your mind.
Maybe this is a really bad idea... I'll probably end up hurt a-
All thought was cut off as Levi's lips pressed gently against your own. They were cool in contrast to your overheated face, lightly molding against your mouth. Your mind reeled in shock, eyes wide as you stared at his closed lids, unable to move or speak or react.
So sweet, yet so brief. Levi pulled away, face turned away toward the desk.
"Shit...." He whispered bitterly. "Guess I misundersto-"
You interrupted Levi by wrapping your hands around his own, entwining your fingers together slowly. At this point, your own bravery surprised you. Whether it was liquid courage or your own, you weren't sure. His head whipped around to glare at you, dark orbs showing confusion. You smiled up at him, your eyes prickling with brimming tears. His gaze softened noticeably as he sighed.
"Shitty girl, don't go crying on me. It wasn't that bad of a kiss, was it?"
Shaking your head, your smile only widened before you leaned towards him again. You pressed your forehead against his, inhaling his scent and relishing the strong cool skin of his fingers. He disentangled one of his hands and reached up behind you, resting it on the nape of your neck. Gradually he pulled you closer, claiming your lips again.
This time you weren't taken by surprise, and managed to react. You lifted your free hand to his face, slowly caressing his jawbone with your thumb. The rhythm of his lips rolling and dancing with yours was almost hypnotic. You moved your mouth against his, pressing slightly harder. Your hand snaked up from his cheek to slide through his jet black hair.
His kissing caused you to feel breathless, light headed and intoxicated. His arm had found it's way to your waist, pulling your body close to his. The taste of whiskey was still sharp upon his tongue as it ghosted across your bottom lip. Your heart skipped erratically at the sensations, all of your senses heightened by the adrenaline.
Levi broke away from the kiss to place his soft lips against the skin of your cheek, his breath blowing across your face. His fingers on the back of your neck trailed around in lazy circles, causing you to shiver slightly.
"Oi, _____," He murmured softly, lips tickling your skin. "Next time you can't sleep, rely on me instead of alcohol. Got it?"
"Oh?" You smirked playfully as you leaned away to peer at Levi. "Is that an order, oh Humanity's Strongest?"
Levi's eyes narrowed as he pulled you back in. You could feel his teeth against the shell of your ear as he spoke.
"You bet your ass it's an order. You may be a squad leader, but I still outrank you. Brat."
You chuckled quietly to yourself, entwining your arms around his neck and burrowing your face deep into the crook of his shoulder.
"Sir, yes sir." You sighed blissfully.