When the war is over, Levi comes apart. Messily. Hange claims it’s good for him: like draining pus from a wound, all the poisons leeching out instead of left to fester. The ability to bury his emotions has helped him survive the Underground and the Survey Corps, but he won’t need to do that anymore.
Mikasa agrees. You’re thawing, she says. It’s much better afterwards. Levi can’t argue with the quiet surety in her eyes.
And the fact is most days have become good, even if they aren’t always. Erwin sticks by him throughout. He’s gentle without being coddling, somehow endlessly patient. Levi is thankful except in the heat of moments like this, when painful rage chokes his throat like bile and nothing helps to ease it, not work or distraction or smashing their plates on the floor or Erwin’s infuriating attempts at comfort.
“They died because you told them to,” he spits, a vicious wounded animal aiming to hurt– and regret slams into him the instant the words fly loose. Then utter horror, when he sees Erwin flinch. It roils up from his gut and spreads, drowning everything else out, infinitely worse than his earlier pain.
“Erwin. That’s not. I didn’t–”
“I know you didn’t mean it, Levi.” He says nothing about it not being true.
Levi steps carefully over the broken shards littering the floor.
“No. You’ve done so well,” he whispers into Erwin’s chest, meaning it as much now as he did then, with every fiber of his being. “We’ve come this far– we’ve won– thanks to you.”
Erwin folds into him. His hand strokes up, down, up Levi’s back, and this time the warm pressure is soothing as it’s meant to be. They stand like that, leaning into each other until their thudding heartbeats turn steady, calmed.
(more from this verse: one, two. guess this is officially a thing now)