**Heya, readers. This chapter will be mostly in Levi's POV**
Where the hell was I heading? I couldn't feel my body much anymore, due to the numbing feeling of Ava's running lulling my muscles. I put my hands up to the crystal material that had formed to keep me nestled in this chamber in her neck. The crystal was cold, which was a slight relief. Focusing best I could on my surroundings, I believed it just best to sleep once more.
"Come on, Levi! The sun's about to rise." Ava called to me, her bright smile complimenting her shaggy, shoulder length hair. Ever since the reclaiming of the Walls, we'd been together. She had gotten a special area in inner Wall Sina for everyone in the Corps so we could always be near. We were occupied in the largest house, just a little ways from her father. Each morning Ava remembered, she had this habit of waking me up insanely early to watch the sun rise. She was nearing the ladder to our attic, before she fell backwards. "Ava, hon, you need to be careful." I smirked, catching the clumsy girl. "S-Sorry, Levi. I just never get tired of this." Ava tried once more to climb the ladder, but it was obvious that the feat was getting more and more impossible each passing attempt. She placed her forehead against mine, sighing in defeat. I took her hands, and placed her palms on her pregnant stomach with mine on top. "I'm sure they'll love it once they're here." I smiled, kissing her lips.
I was awoken rather rudely to horrendous growling. I rubbed my eyes, and wiped off the fog the seemed to cloud the crystal keeping me sealed in. Ava was spinning around rapidly, ruthlessly throwing forward her fists and nails, obliterating a horde of smaller titans. I kept watch on everything that my eyes could see. Something must've caused her to do so, because with the next few movements, I was thrown back against Ava's throat, and back into the crystal. At my last impact, the crystal shattered and I was sent flying into the air, 25 meters from the ground.
Instinctively, my hands reached for my 3DMG. Luckily, I had just enough gas left, and there were just enough trees around, that I could take out a few of the titan's with ease. Once they were left a steaming corpse upon the Earth, my eyes found their way to Ava, whom had suffered substantial wounds to her chest and abdomen. She let out an ear-deafening scream, before falling on her side. As her titan form began to hiss and steam, slowly deteriorating, the nape of the neck popped to where I could see her once more.
"Ava! Don't worry, I'm here!" I called, rushing sluggishly to her. As she fell into my arms, her eyes opened quicker than the first time.
"Le...vi..." She whispered, being sent into a coughing fit.
"It's okay, I promise. You'll be okay." My eyes darted around us for any signs of titans, and sighed in relief when I was met with only a darkening horizon.
"The...ring...it's...the...ring..." She weakly held up a hand, to which a silver ring with a tucked away blade sat hugging her finger.
I slid the ring off of Ava's finger, inspecting it closely. Squeezing it lightly, a black flicked out at alarming speed. This must've been what triggered her transformation... But, how'd she get this? Ava had left the courtroom with only her uniform, not even her belts! I wanted to talk to her more, and find out as much as I could from what her mind left intact, but she had gone limp in my arms.
My eyes were met with a navy sky, stars slowly starting to surface. I stood up, and held Ava tightly to my body. I shoved the ring in my pocket, hoping to keep it from her. Rushing off in an unknown direction, my only hope was to find shelter before it was too late.
"It's well passed dinner, they should be back!" I paced my little corner of the mess hall, which my friends and I's table occupied.
"Relax, Eren. They probably just got caught up with some stupid Military Police nonsense." Ava's brother, Jared, responded nonchalantly, taking a sip of his tea.
"You're her damned brother! How could you not be worried?!" I yelled, finally sitting and hitting my fist against the table.
"While I agree with Eren, that we should all be concerned if they're not back soon, I also agree with Jared. We need to relax and not hope for the worst." Armin added in, patting my shoulder.
Even though dinner had been over for a few hours or so, people still hung around down here. It was about 9 or 10 at night, and there still was no sign of the Corporal or Ava. Mikasa and Jean were arguing about who knows what, and Jared and Armin kept trying to cheer me up. Then, as I was about to rejoin the conversation, Commander Erwin walked in.
"Eren Jaeger! Report to my office immediately!" His voice boomed, causing who was in the mess hall to fall silent.
"Yes, sir!" I immediately stood, saluting.
Following the Commander, I could immediately tell something was up. What freaked me out even more than being able tot tell, was that I didn't have to ask. As we entered his office, I took a seat that faced him as he sat down at the desk.
"I'm sure you know, Corporal Levi and Squad Leader Ava have not yet returned from Wall Sina." Wow, okay, Erwin. A blunt way to start this.
"Yes, Commander. I've grown worried." I admitted, pursing my lips together.
"You have reason to be, Eren. I've received insider information that someone slipped my daughter a ring, that when her wrist is flicked, activates a blade that pierces her flesh and activates her titan form." The Commander turned his head, looking at the wall.
"I see... One question, Commander, if I may." I knew asking this next question could go either way in terms of reaction.
"Go ahead, Cadet." Erwin faced me once more, making strict eye contact.
"How exactly did Ava get her titan form?" After that, dead air hung for a few moments.
I had been carrying Ava for quite some miles now. I came across this old, half destroyed village, with a few houses still somewhat standing. Looking up to the sky, I allowed for a faint smile to cross my face. Carefully climbing the single flight of stairs, I found an old spring bed with a ratty mattress. Placing Ava upon it, I took off my cloak and draped it across her. Her weak, frail fingers curled up on the fabric, pulling it closer to her cheeks.
"Ava Oliver Smith..." I whispered, setting myself down carefully next to her.
Placing my hand on her forehead, my fingers wove themselves in her jet black hair. Memories raced through my mind like minnows skipping across the water. Ava, that girl I bumped into in the Underground. The moment she turned around to me, mud all over her perfectly tailored dress that smelled of beautiful flowers, I knew she'd be the only person to put up with me on a level not even Isabel and Farlan could. No...Ava was something different.
"N...o...no! NO!" Ava started having spasms in her sleep, which brought me to attention.
"Shhh, Ava. Wake up, you'll be okay." Although her eyes wouldn't open, She calmed down when I picked her up. Damn...she's lost weight...
"Mo...ther..." Ava whimpered, clinging to the fabric of my uniform jacket.
All we had to do was stay here for the night. Then, in the morning, I could try to determine where we were at. Hopefully Erwin and the others aren't worrying too much... I laid Ava back down, going downstairs to muster the means to build a makeshift bed next to hers in the floor. I'm surprised at how well-preserved this house was, especially being in the middle of nowhere. And in titan territory. As I was picking up old couch cushions and musty pillows, I heard the distant bellowing of footsteps. Several footsteps.
Gah, not now! All I needed was to relax and recharge...not fight more titans! I rushed to gently bring Ava downstairs, and hide us under a snug spot under the stairs. The footsteps drew closer, but I held her close to me, still wrapped in my cloak. What must've been 8 or 12 titans passed by within a 45 minute time-frame, and yet I did not move even at the longest of breaks. Eventually, I felt my eyelids getting heavy, and was graced with the feeling of sleep.
My discussion with Erwin had just ended, and I was put under insanely strict orders not to mutter a word of what we'd talked about to anyone, not even Corporal Levi. I walked nervously back to my room, knowing Erwin and I would deploy in a matter of hours in search of the pair. Major Hanji would be left in charge, which, I didn't think was a good idea, but hell...we were desperate. I shut the door to my room, and just as I had changed, a knock came to my door.
"It's open." I called, to which Commander Erwin entered.
"Eren, I need to say a few last things to you." He shut the door, making sure no one had followed him.
"Sure, Commander. Go right ahead." I went to close my curtains.
"Once we find them, go for Ava first. She's priority. Levi, I'm positive, can handle himself." And with that, he was gone again.
All of these thoughts...these scenarios...the worst cases...it was difficult to shake any from my mind. The worst, which seemed to be glued to the forefront of my mind, were the extreme worst cases. What if, we find them, and Ava's dead? Or...Levi's body is left, from Ava mutilating it as a titan? I curled under my blankets, and absentmindedly stared at the ceiling. Wiping my face, I found tiny sweat blots. My eyelids began to flutter, and I closed them.
For what seemed like 5 minutes, must've been a few hours. I awoke to Erwin shaking me by the shoulders, signaling it was time to leave. Looking outside, I could see not-as-dark sky, meaning the sun would rise shortly. I followed the Commander, taking every precaution not to make any sound. When we got to the stables, I found it convenient they were already prepared for our leave. Hanji was there, and waved us off. I heard the sounds of the gates closing, and Hanji going back inside.
"Eren, follow my lead! Avoid any engagement with the titans!" Commander Erwin yelled his commands back at me.
"Aye, sir!" I yelled back in acknowledgement.
As the hooves of the horses dug further into the dirt with each determined beat, I could've sworn my ears picked up on the faded, less prominent sound of another set of horse hooves riding out from the base. Whatever, Eren. You've got a high-stakes mission to complete, get your act together.