Disclaimer: I do now own Shingeki no Kyojin. Rated T for Levi language.
To hell with it all.
It’s not as if everyone isn’t already aware of the fact he absolutely loathes parties. Of any sort.
This season, the Survey Corps takes refuge within the wall surrounding Sina, Levi’s least favorite place in the world despite having prowled about these same streets for most of his life. Occasionally a tremor still shakes its way down his spine when the familiar face of an aristocrat crosses his path. A part of him still believes he is a pawn of the Underworld; that every guest is too close, too curious, and his hand instinctively twitches toward that secret place on his person where a sharp weapon used to be concealed.
There is no need for that now. On his left, Erwin Smith walks with calm, measured steps, eyes cast far ahead as he studies the other occupants of the spacious courtyard. He is not as rigid as Levi, but always cautious. Very unlike Hanji, who has drifted away from their group to find more exciting, interesting people to share her passion for Titans with. Levi thinks she is not particularly successful. Every time she draws close, fueled by enthusiasm, the men tend to clasp to their wives more firmly, as if Hanji were some monster of her own sort (and really, they aren’t that far off the mark). She does not seem to notice their forced smiles.
Everyone is clean, at least. It is a refreshing change to see fellow soldiers dressed in something other than their usual soiled, faded military uniforms. Levi does not mind wearing a suit, even half-wishes the profession called for it more often, minus the dreadful socializing part. He agrees that it would be utterly ridiculous to be fighting Titans in such refine clothing, so he does not protest.
Several individuals have approached him throughout the evening (“Is that Levi-heichou?” “He’s a bit shorter than I was expecting…” “Oh, I want him to marry me!” “Worth an entire brigade… I must shake his hand!”), and they would introduce themselves in various fashions, each with the same inclination to lure him into a pleasant chat. Despite being a celebrated ‘hero’, in all honesty, Levi does not really know what they want him to say, and never gave half a fuck enough to live up to the expectations. These situations are no less uncomfortable for him. As a last resort he chooses to heed Erwin’s (shitty) advice to be as honest and straightforward as possible. He dutifully informs the wealthiest of merchants that he believes their unfair trade is robbing nourishment from the disadvantaged refugees of Wall Maria… that the highly sought after and desired daughter of the Military Police commander has lips like a carp… oh, and as for the beverages, they are all horrendous, and he much prefers coffee.
People often back away slowly, practically flocking over to where Hanji stands in a zone that has drastically less unwelcoming vibes.
Contrary to popular belief, Levi is not alone.
The king’s celebratory ball is an invitation extended to a select few deemed the most worthy, contributing members of society; a gathering of the men and women who work together to keep the walls standing and His Majesty on the throne. Some call it the ‘Midnight Tea Party,’ and requested attendance is an honor which cannot be refused.
They are asked to bring one date.
Simple enough. That very morning of the party, Levi approached Hanji on the subject as the breakfast platters were being passed around. Usually the tall, spectacled woman is the back-up plan when it is too much of an inconvenience to call on Erwin who, of course, had already received a similar invitation and made arrangements for a date of his own (opposite sex couples are preferred, but Levi has never felt particularly amorous to either gender, so fuck the rules). The rest of the table’s inhabitants fell silent as their captain was blunt in his speech to a piece of toast, describing the requirements, not actually phrasing the words into some resemblance of a question. He accepted her lack of a forthcoming answer as an affirmation, impassively returning to his meal.
After a few moments: “Er… hey, Levi.” The sound of her voice was a pitch higher than normal, very un-Hanji-like, and enough to clue him in to the fact that this was not going to be a typical pestering she gives him on a daily basis. “…Uh… I’m… gonna have to say no. Mike got the letter and… he asked me to go with him… three weeks ago…” Suddenly the scientist went off on a tangent, wondering aloud why she was the only one of the Elite who hadn’t gotten an invitation, completely oblivious to the stupefied expression on Levi’s face as it slowly dawned on him that shit he was going to have to formally ask someone last minute and was totally unprepared for it.
He blinked, calmly surveying the faces of his squad, the only reliable people that he could find in the immediate vicinity who were currently available. His grey gaze clashed with Petra’s.
Not recognizing his state of distress, the copper-haired woman stared back at her captain with the same wide, innocent hazel eyes. When he did not look away as soon as she was expecting him to, the awkward atmosphere prompted her to give him a shy little wave of her fingers.
Some unfathomable force lifted his hand in reply. A small part of him briefly considered returning her brilliant smile, but then remembered who he was and quickly put the betraying hand down. The rest of their company had gradually started up the casual conversation once more, leaving Levi with the golden opportunity to slip out of his seat to move to stand directly behind the young woman’s chair, unintentionally startling her in his haste.
“Heichou,” Petra said warmly, after shaking off the initial shock of finding him breathing (quite erratically, she noted) down her neck. “Do you need me to make more coffee?”
Well. Obviously the wench wasn’t going to make things any easier for him. What a bother.
The following speech came out rather rushed: “What I need is for you to accompany me to Sina. It is crucial that the Legion keep up appearances on this occasion and my resources per tell that the dispatching of an additional person is necessary for the ensured success of this mission. Careful calculations consider it chiefly beneficial that the qualities which make up the content of your disposition are compatible with my own, enabling the two of us to prove to be an efficient team in response to the demands of the situation at hand. It would be in your best interest – and that of the Legion, which should be more important than your own, but that is beside the point – and I speak sincerely to you as your superior that I want you to represent our sector of the military and-”
A sly smile tugged at the edges of Petra’s mouth in a manner he had never seen from a subordinate before and she effectively silenced him by pressing a single finger to his lips.
“Yes, Heichou, I’d be honored.”
Oddly, even after a couple hours, no matter how hard he tried to remain focused on all the paperwork in front of him, he could still feel the tingling sensation of her touch.
Levi likes Petra well enough. He isn’t lying when he says he thinks they would make a well-suited pair. The plan is to use her sunny personality and charm as a shield for his crappy, near anti-social discourtesy and make it out of the party without adding to the already immense headaches that plague Erwin because of the shit that the shortest member of the Legion puts him through. Erwin is too sympathetic of a man to ever say it to him so blatantly, but that’s just another factor that has led Levi to hate the commander of the Survey Corps a little less than he would the rest of the general population.
The members of his squad are also the exception. Petra is a fine looking woman, he acknowledges. She is slender, but nicely toned from her military training and still maintains flattering curves. Likewise, Levi is athletically lean and muscular from years of operating the 3DMG. Physically they would make an attractive couple, which would hopefully win over the approval of the higher ups before they can actually speak to them.
Petra, being put into a bit of a fix due to the lack of adequate prepping time, resorts to wearing the only dress she carries with her during her time in the military for special occasions (something of this magnitude never being in mind, but she wore it on Levi’s birthday a few months back, and that is the only time he can remember looking at her clothes, specifically). It is sleeveless, plain black that just touches her knees. For Sina, it is several months out of style, but that does not seem to be of any consequence.
Levi’s left temple begins to throb in agitation.
Naturally he should feel like this. Petra is a valuable companion that has fought valiantly at his side, ever loyal and dutiful through all the blood and sweat and near death experiences. Few may ever obtain the position she holds in his universe, where he believes she deserves respect extended back to her regardless of their rank. That is just how he has always led the members of his squad. So, naturally, he should feel a degree of protectiveness, to give in to the need to scan the area for potential threats and throw himself on top of her should all hell break lose. That is what comrades are for.
Still, it is exceedingly frustrating to be unable to spend just two minutes fetching his date a glass of water, only to return and find her like a cornered doe in the company of ravenous wolves.
Levi clicks his tongue in annoyance as he ruthlessly elbows one man in the face. He steps over the withering body, careful to avoid the pooling puddle of blood. The bystanders wisely split their group in half to accommodate him.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” Petra warns, unsmiling, accepting the glass he hands her with nimble fingers. She takes a small sip. “We’ve had this discussion before, Heichou. Use your words.”
Levi mimics the motion with dispassion. “Fuck you. And if you have any friends, you can fuck them, too.” He arches an inquisitive eyebrow at her. “Would that have sufficed?” The candlelight flickers off of her jewelry, a ruby necklace and earrings to match, contrasting with her lighter, creamy skin, and this captures his attention for a moment longer than usual before he realizes his throat is parched and he drains the rest of the glass of water. Damn dehydration.
Petra is not pleased. And also is quite oblivious when it comes to men.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have agreed to this…”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have,” he concurs, leaning against a nearby marble pillar and looking at her with lazy, lidded grey eyes. “I would reject myself if it were at all possible.”
“That makes absolutely no sense.” But Petra giggles and it is a sound that is not unpleasant. She turns from him and looks out onto the rest of the party wistfully, where the other couples are dancing, and she thinks it looks very romantic. Levi does not move to touch her - hasn’t all evening - and it makes him a bit skittish. He hates himself because she is doing this enormous favor for him and he cannot make her happy. Debts are not something he carries with him lightly.
Petra edges in closer to his side, and now they both are holding up the pillar in case of some unforeseen disaster with the architecture. Her lips are red, Levi notices, like the rubies.
“I think you’re just a little shy.”
The captain gives her a blank look.
“No one tries to talk to Heichou like a normal person,” she says in his defense. “I would be intimidated by all the attention, that’s for sure.”
Maybe she is right, so he lets her believe that. He steers the conversation away from an analysis of his person. “You can just call me Levi. I think we have known each other long enough to be on a first name basis, Petra.” He tries it out for the first time.
Her grin returns anew. “Alright, but forgive me if I slip up just from habit. I like to say Levi-heichou. It sounds very alluring, hm?” She is a bit closer, tracing patterns on the marble with light fingers.
He tilts his head slightly, considering her words, a bit of his ego having blossomed. “Well, when you say it in a breathy, sultry tone like that of course it’s sexy.” They share a long moment of silence. “Call me whatever you want.” He fiddles around with his empty glass because he doesn’t know what else to do.
Then he notices something peculiar, as he is glancing around the courtyard. Something that was not immediate to him earlier in the evening. That is, not until he stood so close to Petra.
All the women are wearing heels.
They are several inches tall and obviously a burden to walk in because their dainty ankles are trembling. Many have to grasp tightly onto the arm offered to them by their date just to keep from toppling over, and honestly it is comical watching them attempt to flutter around in their poorly concealed discomfort. Petra does not have this problem. Instead, she has on a pair of sandals that Levi has never seen before. They are flats. Not distasteful, though not exactly befitting of the situation at hand. She might have worn something fancier if she were not pressed for time.
Or maybe… she chose them for just the reason that she is going to be with him tonight? Levi notes that the height difference is ideal, given his relatively short stature; heels would have made it resoundingly more difficult for him to look down into her eyes right now.
Preferring the latter option, he thinks it is very courteous of her.
Not knowing where his train of thought is, Petra quirks a shapely eyebrow, studying his vacant expression. “Sometimes I wonder why I’m head over heels for…” The sentence hangs as she blushes deeply, and Levi has no clue where all this is coming from and he is slightly bewildered.
“…What?” he presses, unsure of how to react to her declaration that really isn’t anything at all because she refuses to fucking finish it. Women are so confusing. This is exactly why Erwin is his go-to person.
Petra shakes her head like the exasperating little female that she is. “I’ve learned a lot about you just in one evening, Levi. It’s… insightful.”
“Oh?” His eyes light up momentarily, almost playfully. “And what exactly do you think you know about me? Go on.”
He need not say more. Petra ticks off a finger as she reviews each item on her list:
“You are rude.”
“Blame my mother.”
“You react a bit violently to other people.”
“Soldier’s defensive instincts.”
“You hate being short.”
“I convene all biological blunders to some cruel twist of fate.”
“You’re an asshole.”
“Okay, shut up now.” Levi touches Petra’s lips, hushing her in the same manner she did him just that morning. Her face becomes red again, but she grabs hold of his hand before he can pull it away.
“I wouldn’t want to be here with anyone else.”
Levi blinks, not understanding why she isn’t looking at him anymore. She has always fearlessly held his stony gaze; she is one of the few who can. A sensation in his gut tells him he’s supposed to do something now because their heights are perfect and her lips feel soft beneath his fingertips. Levi narrows his eyes, frustrated with himself and the distress he is putting Petra through. He tries to think of consoling words:
I tried writing jasico because Ceci’s been down recently and I ended up with this plotless domestic trash featuring (future) journalist Hazel and their cat they named after chicken nuggets.
Nico blinks several times, trying to rid the bleariness from his eyes. The sun shines through the curtains of his apartment window, indicating that the morning has long since begun, but he sighs and turns over lazily. It’s Saturday, the one day they can afford to stay in bed for much longer than most upstanding members of society would deem appropriate.
Unfortunately, when he rolls over, he’s met with nothing but cool sheets and a ball of warm fur. Nico makes a little noise of discontent and frowns. Jason may be a cheery morning person, but he hadn’t gotten off his shift until nearly 3am the night before and he needs to sleep once in a while. Nugget, their cat, meows and nudges her head against Nico’s arm, not pleased with being awoken herself.