levi has had other people in his life, important ones that have become part of the fabric of his being, ones that without their threads, he’d be completely frayed and tattered, nothing but a pile of yarn left in a basket to be hooked and looped. and even though he doesn’t feel whole sometimes, feels ugly and unused, discarded and unnecessary, he knows he’s better for all those different threads. without them, he would really be those things besides just feeling them.
erwin was gold, spun to remove imperfections, but soft and durable. he’s the thread that matched levi’s frays and gathered them up–tidied up his edges and made him whole. beautiful. useful and desired. a fresh tapestry when together, new and different. but levi is still levi–just a better version now.
but it was hard to see the gold sometimes, to remember the times when he wasn’t frayed, when he couldn’t afford the beauty. to come to terms with the fact that he didn’t have to pay for this, that he was gifted erwin’s love and attention. that even through all the moments that he doubted himself, was left awake at night wondering what he did to deserve it all when he was this collection of mismatched thread, the loom and shuttle that composed him having grown old and far too broken to repair. feeling erwin next to him, holding him together with words that affirmed he has a worth, that his warmth did enough to sedate his chill, that he did think, truly, they made something beautiful when they were together.
but it couldn’t be real, and so levi sits sometimes, feeling the phantom weight of gold dust on his lips and wondering if it isn’t just an elaborate dream. that he’s had all these pieces that composed him, ones he doesn’t necessarily regret, but pieces that he isn’t exactly proud of either. and sometimes they feel so ugly, so dirty, so unfit for anybody, that the gold that lines him feels like bronze. feels invisible. feels so distant.
he admits it once and can’t explain. can’t explain how erwin doesn’t seem real when he’s right there. erwin brushes a finger against his cheek and lets him talk and he doesn’t judge. because erwin is patient and he loves more than levi could ever think possible, and he doesn’t understand why he chose to love him.
“i’m here for you,” erwin says, and his gold melts with levi’s bronze when he kisses him, and it pulls the moisture from levi, dampens his cheeks like condensation on blades of grass, streaking threads down the paleness of his skin to be gathered and sewn back together. “you’re worth it.”
levi can’t find the words, because it’s so easy to feel that way toward erwin–he’s a man that is so powerful and strong and yet so gentle that he’s easy to devote to. but levi, levi is…
“levi…” erwin tries to pull him back, picks up his threads and carefully, slowly, weaves them together as he speaks. “i will always be here for you.”
levi closes his eyes, nods, trusts and tries to believe that he can be just as vibrant and strong without having to steal those pieces and hide behind them as if they’re his own. that he is gold too, malleable and beautiful and can make strong things beautiful. he nods but doesn’t speak; he nestles his forehead against erwin’s throat and sighs; his fingernails drag against damp skin and he swallows. his throat is dry, and his eyes sting, but grounds him all to the moment. it makes it real.
erwin is here. erwin is real. erwin is a gift, a beautiful gift that chose levi, and levi musters the best he can in the moment–a simple thank you and a kiss to a heartbeat he vows to love and protect. because it’s the best he can do. it’s the best he can offer. he’s not the best–he’s not what erwin deserves–but he will do what he can to be worthy of his gold.
¨I was the only one fighting for my own sake, everyone else had devoted everything they had to fight for humanity, I ALONE HAD DREAMS OF MY OWN. Before i knew it, i had subordinates under my command , i spoke words of inspiration to my comrades, i told them to dedicate their hearts to humanity, that is how i fooled my comrades, how i fooled myself and built this mountain of corpses ON WHICH I NOW STAND and yet my mind keeps drifting back to that basement.¨ Erwin Smith, Shingeki No Kyojin.