NOTE: This uses a reader-chan who is actually from our universe and got sent to the universe of Attack on Titan.
Armin was crying, but he was still happier than you'd ever seen him.
"I've wanted to see it for so long," he sobbed, yet they were joyful tears, "It's so beautiful! Oh my god," he cried.
Eren whizzed by his blonde friend, ripping off his shirt, as well as his own. He sprinted down to the water, and threw both clothes in the ocean,
The tears on his face stopped and he started to laugh, loudly and purely before chasing after the titan shifter into the water.
Connie and Sasha proceeded to shove each other down the beach until they fell into the water laughing, fully clothed.
Hange ripped off her shirt and ran to the water, with nothing on from her waist up, revealing some female parts that normally get covered up. She was followed by Moblit screaming,
Jean, Mikasa, some other soldiers, and even Commander Erwin quickly ran down to the shore, each and every one smiling.
To you, it looked similar to beaches you'd been to in your universe, but something in the air, something in that sea breeze, was different.
Years ago, a portal had appeared in your bedroom, sucking you into it, and into the universe of Attack on Titan. You'd been fifteen then, you were nineteen now, a few months ago, you'd finally defeated the titans. You'd given up hope that you'd get returned to your world, and accepted you'd live the Attack on Titan universe the rest of your life.
Though you’d suffered being tapped in the walls only for a few years, the pride and awe of defeating the titans and coming to the ocean was still such an accomplishment. You slipped off your shoes (grateful you hadn’t had to wear your uniform today) and were about to run down and join the others when you turned your face just enough to see Levi, standing still, staring at the ocean.
It seemed like he didn’t hear you, he didn’t give any sign of confirmation.
You walked over to where he stood and looked to see if you could see anything unique: sharks, squid, jellyfish? You had worried about water dwelling creatures causing problems, but from where you stood, there was nothing. No shark fins, no ink patches, no glowing jelly blobs, just water, stretching out forever,
“I–. Is something wrong, sir?”
“What? No. It’s just mesmerizing…” Levi answered, not even looking at you.
“I suppose,” you stated. Maybe seeing the ocean for the first time after being in the walls meant more to the others than you, it wasn’t like you’d never seen a beach before.
“____, did you see the ocean in your world?” Levi asked, finally glancing to you. You gave an acknowledging smile and nod. Levi looked away.
Most of the higher ups in the Survey Corps knew you were from a different universe. Some knew more about it than others, Erwin and Levi knew everything, even the fact that they were in a story from your world (which you’d claimed to never have read, just heard of and knew the basics), while Hange and some other squad leaders only knew that you were from a different universe.
You hadn’t told any of the cadets yet, actually, lieutenants (all the cadets had been promoted to Lieutenants after defeating the titans, but it didn’t really mean much, you didn’t get a squad, just a title. But most superior officers called all the cadets by their first names which was about it.).
They had asked where you were from when you suddenly joined the military, you simply said you were under order not to say and left it at that. Levi had seen you, literally, fall from the sky, though not angelically, and land on your face in a bush. He’d proceeded to knock you out, in your what-the-hell-is-going-on daze. Between him and Erwin they squeeze information out of you and decided it would be best to keep you in the Survey Corps to be watched, when it turned out you didn’t completely suck at killing titans, you’d become a pretty valuable soldier and were allowed to interact with the other cadets your age. You’d become friends over the years, even with Levi to some extent since he actually knew where you came from, which provoked conversation you couldn’t have with the others. The ‘I kind of miss my life, you know’ and ‘oh god I’ll never see my family again’ and the ‘oh god I’m trapped here forever’ type conversations that Levi dealt with using a spectrum of sympathy from ‘shut up’ to ‘you'll get on with your life’.
And now Levi was speechless. Humanity’s Strongest, speechless at the beauty of the ocean…
You started to laugh, and laugh, throwing your head back and feeling lighter than you ever had, oh god, if the fandom could see this now… Most of the important characters, happy, alive, and marveling at the beauty of the beach. Levi, Levi, speechless at beauty. God, that was a sight, you thought you literally not live to see. All at once, the joy in you had burst out.
The titans were gone! You were with your favorite anime and manga characters! They were alive! You were alive! You were at the ocean! Everyone was happy!
“____, are you alright?” you heard Levi’s monotone ring out.
Grinning like an idiot, you sighed and nodded,
“I’m fine, do you want to go down to the beach?” Self assured that his answer would be yes, you started to walk down the dune before you stopped at his voice.
“Huh?” you turned around. Levi wasn’t looking at you, but when he spoke, his voice was soft and not like you’d heard it,
“I assume you have either heard or know from your world that I was a thug.”
“Oh, yes, I did hear that.”
“Well, in that time I lived in the underground district. An old, filthy underground city beneath Sina. I got the chance to join the Survey Corps and get out, and I did, but even above ground the air was shitty. Only when we went outside the walls…” Levi paused, and your gaze lingered on him. He didn’t look like he didn’t know what to say, but more he just wanted to take his time,
“Outside, the air was clear, and the sky was wide. And here… We can be here, stay here, and never have to go back to the walls, we can stay out here, with fresh air and a bright sky.”
“So this is really freedom for the first time?” you concluded. Levi didn’t say anything, but his silence was a ‘yes that is literally the most obvious thing why the hell say it outloud’.
He stared a little longer before you politely coughed,
“Levi, can we go down to the beach now?”
“I’m not stopping you.”
“C’mon! I’ve seen the ocean, you haven’t!” you exclaimed and Levi’s eyes slid over to you, with a nod he walked down and you skipped along down, looking to see everyone in the water.
Pulling up your sleeves and rolling up your pants, you waded in only to be immediately dunked underwater by Sasha and Connie, making your effort fruitless.
So you played in the water with the rest of the Survey Corps, a certain childishness in the whole thing, but it didn’t bother you. Everyone swam and explored the water until the sun began to set…
“Okay, you’re last, ____, what do you want to do?”
“Ah, the what-I’m-going-to-do-with-my-life question…” you murmured, leaning back on your palms.
After it got too dark, the Survey Corps had happily set up camp on the beach and started a big fire that everyone sat around. Hange had asked all the lieutenants what they wanted to do after they retire or leave the military. All said they’d like to live outside the walls with various wishes from being near the ocean to having lots of food (Sasha).
“Well, I’m gonna sound really dumb, so no one laugh!” you warned, covering your face so you wouldn’t be too embarassed by the looks on their faces,
“I promise not to!” Hange pledged, and you seriously doubted that.
“Okay, I think like everybody else that it would be nice to live outside the walls… But I don’t want to be alone, I—. I want—. Please don’t laugh,” you stopped, hanging your head.
“I told you—,” Hange began.
“I don’t have that much faith in you, Hange,” you frowned, looking up, giving her a glare that would make Levi proud,
“I want to…” you sighed, you might as well just say it, “I want to get married!”
Sasha and Connie burst out into laughter and you slumped back, laying down and placing your forearms over your face (in a Riza-and-Winry-eske way from the Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood theme song).
Jean’s loud laughter with Hange’s mad cackles echoed out, and you groaned,
“Why?” a voice rang out.
“Wait, what?” you sat up, to see that Levi had spoken, the giggles subsided.
“Why do you want to get married?”
Anger sparked within you, he knew exactly why.
“Because I have no one left. And you of all people should know that, Levi.”
That hushed all whispers and noises stopped.
“This isn’t the place for that,” Levi hissed.
“Does it even matter? The war against the titans is over, I don’t know anything more than you!”
You were both referring the secrecy of where you came from, you didn’t see a point in not telling anyone, or at least the other cadets-now-lieutenants.
“That’s not your decision.”
“Really? How is telling people where I come from and who I am not my decision? I am a legal adult, so why?”
“Stop, don’t talk about this here.”
What followed that statement was you glaring at Levi, rage boiling in your veins. He sat across from you, through the flickering flames of the fire his face remained steady. Erwin broke the tension,
“I’ve been thinking about your situation, lieutenant ____, you may be able to reveal some information to your fellow comrades.”
“Really?” you gasped, excited.
Levi’s gaze drifted from Erwin to you,
“____, I suppose…” he let out a deep sigh, “You can tell them the basics…”
“Alright,” you yelped, but quickly became serious as you realized you’d have to explain very carefully if you wanted the reveal to go well. Thinking, you were still for a moment,
“So… Uh, where did you live? And why don’t you have anyone?” Eren asked, trying to get an answer. You squeezed the sand beneath your hands, you always gripped things when you were nervous,
“One day, four years ago when I was fifteen years old, I fell from the sky,” you took a deep breath and continued, not looking at your friends around you, only Levi across the fire to make sure you didn’t explain anything he thought would be best left secret, “Levi happened doing Recon and I fell into this bush near him. He found me, knocked me out, then brought me back to HQ and interrogated me with Erwin. We realized that I come from a different universe, one without titans, without walls, and one with technology that is hundred’s of years in the future. To avoid my detainment, or more likely death, by the Military Police for being a threat or whatever the hell they think, I was to join the Survey Corps to be kept safe. And to be watched, because I could have been a threat. I had to not tell anyone where I really came from to minimize the risk of the MP or whoever finding out. So for all these years I’ve held my tongue. Only the squad leaders and some older members of the Survey Corps knew that. And Erwin and Levi obviously. As for why I’m alone… Well, I was just reading in my room when this blue light, a portal, I think, appeared and sucked me into it. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my family, my friends… I won’t be able to ever see them again.”
You dared to pause and look around, most of your fellow Lieutenants were shocked, but looked not too hurt by how you lost your family. Most of them had it worse, at least, they thought so,
“It probably sounds pretty easy off about losing my family, and I understand, you all lost them in much more terrible ways, but for me… I didn’t even get to say goodbye, they didn’t know where I went. They probably thought I was kidnapped, I guess. But you guys knew what happened to your family. If they died, you knew. My family doesn’t know, and I’ll never know when they die, or when something happens. They could all die in a fire, I wouldn’t know…” you frowned.
No one said a word. Picking up some sand in your hand, you gazed at it, slipping through your fingers.
“I don’t even remember my brother’s face anymore,” you whispered, “And I can’t remember my mom’s voice, or my dad’s laugh… Or… Or…” you trailed off, voice becoming hoarse from the pain of admitting that, “That’s why I want to get married, to have a new family. To make my own family.”
There was a long pause as you looked around at the utterly stunned faces. Then Jean broke the silence,
“You kept that all to yourself for all this time?”
“Yeah. I did.”
“Do you think there is any way for you to get back?” Mikasa questioned.
“No. It’s been four years, I’ve tried lots of things. I did some summoning circles, and tried to recreate what I was like when I got sent here, as well as a bunch of other stuff. Nothing worked, I gave up hope on that a long time ago.”
“That’s kinda sad…” Armin murmured.
“Well, it didn’t help that Hange was always asking me about my world,” you added, “And Levi isn’t much for alternate universe therapy…”
That got a few laughs,
“It’s not like you talked about it much to me,” Levi deadpanned.
“Oh really? Says the man you literally ordered me not to talk about it.”
“You know, I think it’s time for you shitty brats to go to bed,” Levi glared at you.
“I think everyone should go to bed, the tents are set up and you know your assignments,” Erwin instructed. There were sounds of consent and yawns as people got up and went to their tents.
You were grateful Sasha was a heavy sleeper. It made sneaking out a lot easier.
Poking your head out of the tent, you looked around for anyone. It was clear, you dashed down the beach to the water where you sat, legs spread out in front of you so the water you wash over your ankles.
Sitting. Staring at the ocean. You had just wanted to get away from other presences and be alone.
Laying back on the sand, you focused on the sky, counting stars silently.
Smiling, you called that you’d once tried using the stars to figure a code for your universe. You’d jumped into the lake on a full moon to try to get back to your universe. Chanted holy wall prayers. Killed a titan with your eyes closed at one point (hell, that took practice.) Nothing had worked.
Sometimes you’d considered death being the only way to get back to your world. Every once in a while with a close call on a expedition, in the heat of a titan fight, you wondered… What if you just stopped?
It had never seemed like the right way to die. Titan eating you? You needed something you had full control of.
Your heart stopped.
Sitting up, you looked to the ocean. The ocean.
How hard would it be?
If you just swam until you couldn’t and let the waves consume you, would it be so bad? You’d go the right way, absolutely in control of what happened, knowing what you signed up for.
Hands curling around the sand, you didn’t look away from the ocean.
It’d be so easy.
“What the hell are you doing?”
You practically jumped out of your skin,
“JESUS CHRIST, LEVI!” you yelled out, trying to calm yourself.
“What’s Jesus? You've used that word before when you’re startled,” he sat down next to you.
“Ah, what is Jesus?” you repeated, “Uhm, more like who is Jesus, but it’s complicated. In my universe we have this book all about him and his dad.” You were not going to get into a Bible and Christianity focused conversation, so you kept it very simple.
Levi raised an eyebrow, but said nothing about it and changed the topic,
“Just explain what you are doing.”
“Thinking, I couldn’t sleep.”
“You have Insomnia?” Levi asked.
“Huh? No, not usually. But today wasn’t a usual day. Why are you up?”
“I have light Insomnia,” Levi explained, not at all uncomfortable with telling you that, “What are you thinking about?”
You never meant to say it, but it just came out,
If Levi could look surprised and alarmed, if that was possible (god knows seeing him without a frown was rare), it was right then.
“OH! I didn’t–. I wasn’t–. Levi, I–.”
“It’s not the first time, is it?” he inquired, looking much calmer suddenly. You felt about as far from ‘calm’ as possible. Discussing your suicide thoughts with Levi was something you had never planned on. Perhaps Levi was better at alternate universe therapy then you gave him credit for.
“Uh,” you gulped, “Well, I thought about it before.”
“No, no, no, no, only every once in a while. This is the first time in year or so.”
Levi looked away, “Let me guess. You thought about drowning yourself.”
“Um, yes. Exactly,” you replied, surprised at his accuracy.
“I think death might be the only way for me to get back.”
“Wait, really?” Levi turned to you. That was very… Un-Levi.
“Yeah, why else?”
“I thought you were depressed.”
“We to be honest, I am sometimes, but suicide was just to get back home.”
Levi regained himself, and moved his eyes off you and to the waves.
“You would have chickened out,” Levi stated bluntly.
Sighing, you laughed a little, “Probably, I’m a wimp at heart.”
“I don’t think that’s why,” Levi shook his head, studying your face.
“Then why? I’m not prideful or anything.”
“You have a family again.”
Confusion swept over you. Since you last checked, you were not married, and did not have any children. Your actual family was in a different universe, so it was a little puzzling to what on earth he meant.
“The Survey Corps, your fellow brats…” he paused and realization swept through you, but he continued before you could react, “Me…”
Levi didn’t say anything.
“I–. I never thought of the Survey Corps of my family… Maybe the other lieutenants, but not you.”
“How do you think of me then?”
Okay. Levi had to ask that. Now, you’d be lying if you said that you were an A). anime fan, B). Attack On Titan fan, and C). young woman-turned-fangirl who never had a crush on Levi. Everyone has a crush on Levi! To be honest, in the fandom, everybody had a crush on Levi, no matter what. You’re non-anime fangirl friend had a crush on Levi, she didn’t even watch the show!
So when you literally fell from the sky, practically at Levi’s feet, you were a bit starstruck, and a bit in love.
Though as you got to know him, the feeling quickly faded, because he was very hard to get along with, and live with. Yet somehow, Levi had a charm he tried not to have that made him very attractive. He did care, deep down. And you’d even seen him smile after you’d defeated the titans, the final time. It wasn’t like you couldn’t love him, but between trying to get home, stay alive, and defeat the titans, love was the last thing on your list. Recently, it was your post-titan-war goal, but the feelings you’d had for Levi had been pushed down to the bottom of your heart and forgotten about.
But as you sat on the beach, alone, next to Levi, those feelings bubbled up inside you. It was like remembering something you’d been putting off and absolutely dreading dealing with it.
“I think of you as–. Uh, a friend.” Friend, play it safe.
“A good friend?”
Before you could stop yourself, you blurted out,
“Did you think of me as something else?” Quickly all your body heat flooded your cheeks.
“Ah, forget that, I wasn’t thinking,” you speedily excused. Most fans would find talking with Levi about feelings and relationships heaven on earth, but to you, it was incredibly awkward.
“Sometimes I do,” he told you promptly. You gargled. Like, little-baby-laughs-out-own-spit type gargle. It was a fangirly sound if there ever was one.
“Romantically?” you choked out.
“Oh, okay, that’s cool,” you said, feeling lame as hell for calling Levi’s feelings for you ‘cool’.
“Do you have any other feelings for me?” Levi wondered.
“Uh, yes, at certain times, I–. Yes.” Levi smiled. Butterflies filled your chest, but he was silent, as were you.
Finally, after at least ten minutes, he spoke,
“I’m not your family.”
No, he wasn’t. He wasn’t your child, and you weren’t married. That was the only way he could possibly be family in this world.
“No, you aren’t my family, Levi,” you agreed.
Moving your hand through the sand, you interlocked his fingers with yours. You gave a squeeze, and he squeezed back.
No, you wouldn’t get home. No, you wouldn’t ever see your real family again. But for the first time in what seemed like forever, you couldn’t help but think things would be okay anyway.
Smiling, you turned to him,“You aren’t family, Levi… But, one day, you might be.”