The alcohol flows freely on the anniversary of the successful overthrow of the corrupt government. The event they hold is unfamiliar to Mikasa (called a “ball”), but the alcohol, more than anything, appeals to her.
Maybe it’s the stress. Maybe it’s because Eren left without notice or goodbye. Maybe it’s how uncomfortable this gift from Kiyomi feels against her skin (is she even wearing it correctly?). Maybe she doesn’t need a reason to pour herself a glass and take a gulp.
It burns all the way down, and not in the pleasant way that Sasha described it. Sasha does have odd tastes (in that she has a taste for everything).
Mikasa sets the glass down without another drink and looks around the room. There’s music playing and new recruits are dancing. Sasha lingers by the food, laughing about something with Connie and gushing over whatever Nicolo brings out. She even throws her arms around him in a hug when he sets something near her. He scurries away, face down and flushed as bright as Sasha’s dress.
Mikasa leaves her drink behind, walking over to her friends. Before she can make, she trips over the hem of the garment she’s wearing. And it rips.
She normally isn’t one to cry over ripped clothes (she’d be weeping constantly if that were the case). This, however, is a gift, and she’s suddenly feeling dizzy and maybe a bit emotional for some reason.
The room spins a bit as her eyes fill up with tears. There’s a chair behind her that she slumps into, trying to blink away the tears. Instead, they run down her cheeks. She scrubs at them with a loose sleeve, seeing the residue of the makeup that Sasha applied smeared on it. The rip could have been fixed, but this? Not this.
“This thing a bit dull but I don’t think it’s anything to cry over,” a voice to her right says.
“Shut up,” she responds before even registering who it is. Her voice is louder than normal and her head feels light. Could one mouthful of alcohol really do this?
“You’re gloomier than usual,” the voice continues, and she realizes it’s Levi. She sniffles and scrubs at her face again, tearing up more when she sees the new damage.
“I don’t care,” Mikasa says finally, standing and wobbling. She sits back down harder than she means to.
“How much have you had to drink?” he asks, moving to lean against the wall next to her. Her head lolls back to look up at him.
“I didn’t,” she says. She blinks and more tears slide down her face. So that’s why the room was so blurry before. She lifts her arm again to rub it against her face. “Oh, no.” The stain is even worse. She starts crying harder. “She’s gonna be so mad.”
“I’m sure she won’t care,” Levi says. She looks at him again to find him glaring at everyone nearby. She follows his gaze and can’t figure out why he would be so mad that Armin is sprawled asleep across a few chairs, with Sasha now hanging off Nicolo as she yells at Connie and Jean.
“But it’s a gift,” Mikasa whines. She hears him grumble something about annoying.
“All right.” He grabs her right upper arm and pulls. “Let’s get you out of here.”
“I don’t want to go somewhere with you,” she says.
“Well, you don’t have a choice,” Levi responds. He manages to get her standing and tugs her arm around his shoulder. “Which way to your room?” She makes a vague motion with her other hand, and he sighs.
They walk in silence until she looks down at him where he’s practically dragging her along. “You’re so…short,” she assesses.
“Thank you for telling me. I was not aware.”
She pokes him in the temple. “For real. Everyone is taller than you. Except Historia, but it fits her.” She pokes him again. He pushes her hand away.
“I’m sure you think this is entertaining but it isn’t.” He stops. “Which one is yours?”
She looks at the doors, familiar but identical. It doesn’t help that they only recently moved to this base. She shrugs. “I dunno.”
“You do know. You come here to sleep every night.” She shrugs again. Levi again sighs, muttering to himself, though this time she can’t understand it. She’s no longer crying, and there’s a pleasant buzz in her head now, a few intermittent sniffles still breaking through.
“It might be that one,” Mikasa says, gesturing vaguely to the door closest to her. When the door opens, she sees her scarf hanging on her headboard and takes a step in, then another, then -
Riiiip. She’s on her hands a knees on the floor, confused and upset. “Not again!” She tries to stand but slips on the bit of fabric that catches on the toe of her shoe. There’s a huff and a mutter and - “You’re annoying,” she snaps as she glares at Levi over her shoulder, still struggling to get up.
“I’m not the one who tripped over nothing,” he says, grabbing her by the waist and hefting her to the bed. He drops her on it facefirst, torso partially on and partially off the bed. Her knees hit the floor again.
“Jerk,” she mutters into her blankets, grabbing for her scarf. She lifts her head and wraps it around her face before letting her head drop again.
“You’re going to suffocate like that.”
“What do you care?” she grouses through a mouthful of scarf.
Levi tugs at the end of her scarf to pull her face off the bed. “I’m not going to let you die on my watch. Especially not like this.”
She tries to process the words but can’t seem to do it. Instead, she tries to crawl on the bed. There’s another rip. The tears flow again. “She gonna be so mad,” Mikasa moans.
“What does it matter? I’m sure she has dozens just like that.”
“How would you know? You’re so annoying.” Levi rolls his eyes and manages to help her on the bed without touching her too much. “So annoying,” she repeats, glaring at him, “with how good you look in that suit. It’s…annoying.”
“Your vocabulary is suffering despite not having anything to drink,” he says, ignoring her other statement. She lies on her side, eyes starting to droop closed. She’s warm and sleepy and has the beginnings of a headache.
“I don’t understand.”
“Don’t understand what?”
“How you can be so unlikeable but I still like you anyway.” She’s half asleep already. “It’s stupid.”
He’s silent for so long that she thinks that maybe he left, though she didn’t hear him walk away. “Just don’t aspirate on your vomit, brat.” Levi moves closer and brushes some hair off her forehead. Mikasa’s comeback doesn’t make it past her lips: she’s asleep already.