The book has a maroon jacket and embossed spine. It’s older, and he can tell when he picks it up and leafs through the pages. The musty smell reaches his nose and makes him sneeze into his arm. With a sniffle, he fans through the book, and it doesn’t take him long to realize it was one of Erwin’s.
His heart seizes, and he leaves the book open in his lap. He thinks about Erwin every day, sometimes every second, but Erwin’s never a surprise. Thinking of him is a constant, and the physical things that conjure Erwin are cataloged and sterilized. When Levi encounters them, he does so with bravery. Indifference. He has Erwin compartmentalized at this point into his psyche. The only place Erwin could affect him is in his dreams.
But this book. This book is different. It has Levi spooked, and he isn’t sure how to move forward. He turns a page. The language is old, the information flowery and, at this point, incorrect. It must have been Erwin’s father’s, and somehow having that knowledge made the book that much more difficult to hold. Another page and he discovers it’s talking about the ocean. His breathing gets caught in his chest as he reads.
Oceans are bodies of water with high salt content. They can range in color depending on location, from deep sapphire to gleaming turquoise. It is predicted that the ocean covers more of the surface of the world than land. Nobody has ever been able to touch the deepest depth of an ocean. Strange creatures are thought to originate under the surface.
Levi slaps the book shut and places it next to him. He brings his knees up to his chest and wraps his arms around his legs.
It wasn’t anything like that. The ocean was beautiful and living and moving. It was vast and mysterious and deep. It tasted different, like an exotic delicacy. And he supposed at the time that it was. They had never tasted freedom like that before–and that’s all the ocean was.
His chest grows tight, and there’s a sound emitting from his throat that’s foreign and hoarse. God dammit, he should have been there. He should have been at his side, their cloaks catching the wind like the sails of the ships illustrated on the book pages. He had fought the longest and hardest out of all of them. He got them all here. If it wasn’t for him…
The sob comes out long and hard, and Levi has never felt something shake through him so violently. His moaning cry echoes in the room as the tears pool and drop from his eyes. It wasn’t anything like that. It wasn’t some simple pages on a piece of paper. It was so fucking beautiful and Erwin wasn’t there. He wasn’t there, and it was the ugliest thing he had ever seen in his whole life. He hated the ocean. He fucking hated it.
His hands ball into his hair as he pushes his forehead into his knees. He struggles to breathe, but he doesn’t care. His sobs turn silent as he gasps in air. Erwin wasn’t there, and he’s not here now, and he can’t fucking stand it. Tears fall salty like the waters of the ocean, and he wishes so badly to drown in them.
The text above is an excerpt from a ficlet my lovely @gouguruheddo wrote for this pic to rip my heart completely into pieces <3 Thank you love.