Armin hated all variety of physical activity, but he had a special loathing for tests of endurance. The lack of any breaks always made for a particular type of torture, with a sort of numbness that was never enough to really distract from the pain. The feeling of lungs constantly empty of enough air, that stinging that came from a raw throat from trying to inhale as much oxygen as possible, the throbbing of muscles being worked beyond their limit.
The hike was meant to take them through the woods, up rough terrain, and to make things worse they would be weighted down by their own supplies. Once in the center of the woods, they would camp there for the night before making their way back the next morning. For Armin, this meant simply two days of extra misery. The entire week beforehand he had tried so hard not to think about it, but unfortunately thinking was just what he did, so that hadn’t worked out so well.
So, by the time the day finally came, he had turned himself into a bunch of tight nerves, stressed out, with gloom already emanating from him before they even got started.
“You’ll be fine,” Eren had tried to reassure him, but his apparent belief in him didn’t really help him to feel better, especially not when he added, “See you at the camp.”
It had vocalized what they already knew. Eren would be way ahead of him within minutes and would maintain that distance throughout the whole trek.
That was exactly what had happened. It was everything Armin had dreaded, a nightmare prophecy come to fruition. Lungs on fire, strained muscles that wanted to turn into elastic and snap, sweat and tears, feet scraping over shards of glass, bones ready to shatter from the pressure of each step, spine ready to give out.
Camp was a small clearing in the middle of the woods, well treaded on by previous trainees, the earth there flat and spread out. Armin collapsed the moment he was allowed to, not that it stopped Shadis from continuing to yell at him, even if he did make it to the point where sprawling out on the ground wouldn’t detract points from his already abysmal grade.
When he thought of how he had the exact same thing to look forward to come tomorrow, he considered giving up right there and then. Lying there until the winter came was suddenly a very appealing thought.
“Armin, you all right?!” Eren’s frantic voice drew him back to reality, that as well as the laughter from a few other peers.
He thought Eren would be used to this by now, just how pathetic he was when it came to being tested physically. But every time, his friend always came rushing over to him with concern evident in his expression and tone. Armin reassured him over and over that he was fine as he and Mikasa helped him up onto his feet.
The rest of the evening was spent setting up tents. Fortunately, this was the part he excelled at. Tinkering and putting things together had always come naturally to him. He and Eren finished the one they planned to share quicker than any other pair. Too bad there was no grading involved with this task, so it was nothing more than a personal achievement.
The rest of the evening was spent around a camp fire with the other trainees. Stories were exchanged and people chatted back and forth, all in attempt to keep one another amused before bed. He, Eren, and Mikasa didn’t contribute much to the conversations, besides Eren occasionally objecting to something.
At one point in the evening, Connie began to tell some story that had taken place in his village. By that time, Armin had begun feeling the effects of that day, body sore, mind becoming sluggish with fatigue. Sitting with his knees to his chest, he pressed his cheek against the top of them, looking off to the side where Eren was seated next to him. He watched the orange light that flickered and danced over Eren’s features from the camp fire, finding it somehow relaxing.
His attention stayed on him rather than the memory Connie was recounting, so he had no idea what triggered it, but suddenly a smile had bloomed across Eren’s face and a second later his friend actually laughed.
It was brief, could have easily been missed if he had blinked, but that rare moment of joy expressed by Eren made his heart flutter and caused a smile to form on his own lips. Suddenly, the trip up there didn’t seem so bad. He thought he’d do it again, a hundred times even, if it meant he’d get to see that sight more often.
Eren must have caught him dozing because the next thing he knew, he was gently placing his hand on his shoulder.
“Mm,” Armin rubbed his eyes, tears caused from a previous yawn gathered at the corners. “It’s all right, I can stay up for a bit longer.”
Eren was courteous to the fact that Armin would just be woken up if he went to bed without him when Eren decided to join him. The new sounds and the movement always stirred him awake, so it had become a habit that they both laid down together at the same time.
“Nah, I’m pretty tired too, let’s just go now,” Eren said as he stood up on his feet.
Armin doubted he really was all that tired, his voice and body language was too energetic. Regardless, he wouldn’t complain, thankful for his friend’s consideration towards him. Eren helped him up, extending out a hand towards Armin, which he took. The both of them bid Mikasa goodnight before leaving the circle of people surrounding the campfire.
The two of them crawled into the tent after kicking off their shoes. Even with nothing but some padded blankets between them and the ground, lying down, Armin felt like he was on a cloud, body going limp at the promise of rest. Eren shut the tent behind the two of them before taking the left side, Armin already flat against the right.
“Hey, you did really good today.”
Armin almost thought at first it was a product of his mind starting to shut down, that he had imagined it. But when he felt Eren gently pat his head as though congratulating him on a job well-done he knew he had really said it.
“What are you talking about?” he actually chuckled, lack of sleep making him loopy and finding humor in the remark. “I did horrible, I was practically crawling over the finish line.”
“But you made it,” Eren insisted, the original patting of his head becoming strokes along his hair. “It wasn’t easy for you, but you still made it.”
The words warmed his face and made him a bit more aware of the beating of his own heart. No matter how many times his inner voice wanted to criticize his weakness, when Eren said things like that, it always overrode his doubts, at least for a while.
“…thanks,” he said, feeling he couldn’t come up with anything to really convey how much he appreciated the comment. “Really, thank you, Eren.”
He thought he said something else, but missed it as sleep began to claim him, blocking out any dialog that came next. The last thing he remembered was how nice it felt having Eren stroke his hair and how he wished he’d keep doing it.
* * *
Blinking slowly, his mind was left languid, lagging behind his body as he awoke. It was still dark out, he didn’t have to peek his head outside of the tent to realize that, and the campfire was out, leaving illumination from the moon as the only light source.
He felt a weight on his shoulder and a warmth against his right side. Armin turned his head and crinkled his nose when it was tickled by the hair atop someone’s head. It didn’t take much deduction to conclude that Eren had rolled over in his sleep as was now pressed up against his side. Head lying against his shoulder, chest up against his ribs, hand resting on Armin's stomach.
Eren’s breathing was slow and steady as he slept. Lips parted ever so slightly, Armin shivered from the light puffs of air that blew against his neck. It didn’t bother him, the close proximity. Physical contact was not something odd between them. In fact, Armin welcomed it, found it comforting to have his friend so close to him. Even if it was accidental, this was nice.
The summer night was warm enough as it was, with the twinge of humidity in the air to add to the discomfort. The heat of his own body, coupled with Eren’s, made the inside of the tent feel sweltering. Using his left hand, so Eren wouldn’t feel the right one moving around, Armin threw off the blanket he had draped over him, finding it completely unnecessary.
He wasn’t sure what had awoken him but all he wanted to do was to get back to sleep and with how drowsy he still felt he thought it would be easy to do so.
Armin considered to rolling over onto his side since he slept better that way. It would be difficult to turn either left or right though without waking Eren up. He’d have to be careful, thinking it was a guarantee that if Eren became aware of their position, he would likely just apologize and move back over to his half of the tent. Armin knew he wouldn't have the courage to request Eren stay sleeping at his side. Admitting how good it felt to have him so near seemed much too intimate of an admission between friends.
But he wanted them to stay like this.
Slow in his movements, Armin tried to twist himself towards Eren, so that they could curl up together, as they often did when they were children. But as soon as he tried, Eren started to stir. Armin sighed softly in disappointment, assuming he would move away from him as soon as he fully awoke. Instead, he was surprised as Eren grumbled and moved closer to him, the hand he had resting against his stomach fully snaking around his waist to hold him.
That surprise turned into full-blown shock as he felt something firm up against his thigh. The warmth that had been next to him felt like it was spreading out all over his body suddenly and especially up towards his face. There was no doubt in his mind what it was.
His mind ran through many logical explanations as to why this shouldn’t be awkward and many more rationalizations as to why it certainly shouldn’t be arousing. It was just something that happened occasionally, Eren had no control over his body when he was asleep, it was perfectly natural, he continued telling himself verbatim.
Still, Armin couldn’t ignore it, how hard it felt pressing up against him. His heart began picking up its beat and he swallowed harshly as his mouth watered. He wondered if Eren was dreaming of something in particular, something erotic enough for his body to have such a reaction… He cut off that thought before it could fully begin to develop. Eyes shut tightly, Armin wanted to believe that sleep would just claim him again, right then and now, especially before--
Damn it…! Armin mentally cursed as that warmth drifted below his waist and it settled there. There was nothing provocative about this situation, he told himself once again, but found it did nothing to deter his growing arousal.
Any fatigue he had felt when he first awoke was now gone. Armin's muscles were all rigid and his airways were tight as Eren continued to sleep, completely oblivious to the turmoil Armin was now experiencing.
He was frustrated by his own lack of control, but that frustration contributed nothing to the situation. He needed to think. He had only a few options. Waking Eren up was one of them, but not what he wanted to do. Having thrown his blanket off earlier, there was nothing now to cover his own erection, which was now visibly pushing up against the front of his pants. It would make the situation all the more embarrassing, both of them riled up like this and lying so close together.
But the trek back through the forest tomorrow was going to be torture if he didn’t get some sleep. However, he knew he would never pass out with the tension in his body, with a craving that became harder to fight as he lay there. He had to do something about it.
Turning his head again, he glanced at Eren, felt him still breathing against him, arm around him, and he felt struck with guilt at how the image and the situation provoked him. That guilt became a physical pain in his gut when he acknowledged what he was now considering. Was he really going to do this? Touch himself with Eren’s body flush against his?
He needed to sleep. If he didn’t get any rest, there was no doubt he’d fail the test tomorrow. But there was no way he was going to get to sleep while he was like this and it didn't seem like he would be calming down anytime soon.
He used that as justification as his right hand carefully slithered under Eren’s arm and slipped beneath his own pants, repeating an apology over and over within his mind.
His own fingers just grazing the head of his cock was enough to cause him to inhale sharply and he had to bite his lip to hold back the moan that wanted to escape with his exhale. He’d be upset with himself later, but how little that mattered now. Feeling Eren, listening to him breathe, still hard against his thigh, caused his touch to feel so intense it destroyed the concern of guilt that would come later.
While part of him wanted to drag it out when he wrapped his hand around his shaft, he reminded himself that he was doing this just so he could get back to sleep and the sooner he got back to sleep, the better. He didn’t think it would take much anyway, which was good, since he couldn’t move his arm much with Eren right next to him.
So his strokes were slow, but thorough. Traveling his length, up and down, he varied his grip, squeezing gently every now and then. His lips were sealed tight to keep his voice contained within his throat as he massaged his need. He tried to stay methodical with his motions, not too fast. Slow and steady he kept his hand, taking deep, measured breaths to prevent his chest from rising and falling too rapidly.
Eyes closed, he felt the lack of sight heightened his sense of touch. Subtle differences were noticed, the texture of his hand, every shallow line in his palm. He could feel the tension leaving the rest of his body, coiling in his stomach, and he gnashed his teeth as he felt the pressure build at the base of his cock.
But just like that, the pressure took a steep drop, and his heart leapt up into his throat when he felt the weight leave his shoulder; Eren had lifted his head. His hand came to an abrupt halt as though freezing in place would leave what he was doing unnoticed.
“…seriously, Armin?” Eren muttered against his ear, sounding drowsy, but no less ignorant to what he was doing. That was clear when he added, “You think just because you’re not moving anymore, that means I won’t realize you were jerking off?”
His face heated up to such a degree he thought it’d leave burns along his cheeks. Tears began to fill his eyes as worry overtook his mind, unable to tell by Eren’s tone just how angry he was about this situation. He must have been absolutely appalled, catching him doing something like this in such close proximity to him.
“E-Eren, I-I’m sorry,” said quickly and pulled back his hand. “I didn’t mean--“
His words are interrupted when Eren took him by his wrist before he could fully retract his hand from beneath his pants. Eyes widening, he tried to turn his head to catch a glance at Eren’s expression. When they made eye contact, Armin found it offered no hints to what Eren was thinking, but there was something there that made his breath hitch.
“I didn’t say you had to stop.”
Armin’s mouth trembled as he opened it to speak, but his mind was blank when it came to what to say. Finally, he managed a single word, and even that was a struggle.
Armin wanted to question him, but he didn’t even know what questions to ask, and the throb that came when their eyes met again left him uninterested in answers. Instead, he obliged Eren’s request, sinking his hand back into his pants to wrap around his cock once again. He didn't get the chance to resume however, as Eren made another request that caused him to pause.
“Take off your pants.”
His breathing was becoming too quick to stay quiet and with the silence around them it sounded noisy to his ears.
“I want to watch,” Eren put it bluntly. How like him, revealing his intentions right away. “Or…do you want me to go for a walk while you finish by yourself?”
He gave him an out, a way to say no, but Armin simply found himself startled by the offer. He shook his head without hesitation. “Don’t leave,” he begged.
Eren repeated himself. “Then take off your pants.”
Armin nodded, finding a lump in his throat that he couldn’t swallow down as he lifted his hands to the edge of his pants to slide them down his hips. No matter how sudden this situation was, all he wanted right then was to go along with it. It was unimaginable to him, pondering it, the idea that Eren wanted to see him like this, but he had sounded so earnest.
He and Eren had seen one another naked plenty of times, but never like this. He knew Eren’s gaze was right on arousal as well and Armin experienced a strange mix of embarrassment and exhilaration. He felt so exposed and completely vulnerable lying there and he didn’t think he’d be all right feeling that way with anyone other than Eren.
Eren rested his head on his shoulder and Armin realized that the position provided them both with the same view as he reached for his cock again. He brushed his fingertips along his shaft, first trailing down and then up, rubbing over the tip with a soft moan when he reached it. When Eren moved closer to him, he gasped, the other boy’s erection as solid as ever and it added once again to his excitement.
He took his cock into his hand and although he had no reason to go slow now, he took his time. Pumping leisurely, he sighed softly, feeling a steady flow of pleasure from the motions that stayed leveled out rather than escalate. He could prolong things like this, wanted to prolong things.
The hand Eren had on his waist, he felt it bear down on him a bit more. He took a deep breath and Armin found it sent a shiver down his spine when Eren almost seemed to growl. It was raw and seemed like proof of just how excited he was. He was getting off on this, on watching him, acknowledging that filled his chest up with a sort of bliss he couldn’t describe.
“You always go so slow like this?” Eren asked him.
“No,” Armin replied, turning to rest his cheek against the top of Eren’s head, wishing he could see his face, but Eren’s gaze was intently turned downwards. “Usually don’t have the time to take things slow.”
“Mm,” Eren acknowledged the words, his hand moving over Armin’s stomach and up towards his chest. His palm circled over the fabric of his shirt and Armin moaned softly. He was surprised by how nice it felt, his hands on his body, even with the clothing between them.
“Eren…” he lifted up his left hand. It was difficult to manage with only one, but he began to undo the buttons along his shirt.
Eren sucked in a sharp breath and immediately he took over for Armin, opening up his shirt within seconds. He resumed his caressing thereafter, this time of bare skin. Everywhere his hands wandered was left feeling especially warm, contributed to sensation of his own hand, still moving up and down on his erection, deliberate and slow.
Armin tried to keep his motions consistent, but they began to waver as the shocks that traveled through him became gradually stronger and stronger. No matter how slow he went, it was becoming too much now with Eren’s hands on him. Eren spread his touch over his stomach, then up along his chest, and when his thumb brushed over one of his nipples he thought he’d lose himself right there.
With a whimper, he let go, allowed the sensation drop off again before it peaked and it was almost painful this time.
“What are you stopping for?” Eren asked with a small groan and his nails scrapped along his skin.
Armin was breathless. “I’m gonna come if I keep going.”
“Isn’t that the point?”
Eren lips brushed across his neck when he questioned him and Armin let out a small, “Ah,” at the feeling that went along with it and remained as though his skin had been scorched.
“I don’t want this to end yet,” he explained.
Eren groaned again, nuzzling the side of his throat before he lifted himself up just enough to look down at Armin’s face. “Can I do it?” he asked, sounding a little out of breath. “I really want to touch you,” the tone was low and desperate. Eren's hand slid down from his chest, fingers twitching against his skin, his intent clear.
The suggestion alone made Armin tremble. He wanted that too. Armin denied him though, agonizing as it was, shaking his head.
“No," Eren's hand came to a stop at his waistline and he frowned. Knowing he thought he was being rejected, Armin explained, not wanting him to think that was the case. "Not yet. I won’t last for even a minute if it’s your hand,” gulping, he shifted his thigh towards Eren, moving against his erection. He smiled at the way the tension left Eren’s expression and the way his eyes fluttered closed.
Eren responded by pushing his hips forward. Lust made Armin feel just a bit bolder, keeping him from being able to think with total clarity.
“But…if you want… I could touch you instead.”
“Yes,” the word was breathless gasp. “Hell yes.”
Armin slid his hand between them. He cupped the bulge that had been pressing against him all this time and squeezed and rubbed through the fabric for a bit before Eren gritted his teeth and grabbed his wrist. He tried to guide Armin beneath his trousers and Armin didn’t resist him at all.
Feeling his hot skin against his palm was like receiving a dose of aphrodisiac, made his body feel heavy but his mind light. It felt so different from handling his own. When he gripped him, wrapped his fingers around his cock, Eren moaned and he didn’t wait for Armin to begin stroking him. He rutted eagerly against his touch and seeing Eren so needy, Armin thought the sight alone could push him over the edge.
Armin met the movements, sliding his grip down when Eren thrust forward. Each little pant, moan, and whimper sounded alluring and tantalizing, and Armin relished that he could cause such sounds to escape past his friend’s lips.
His eyes widened when he felt Eren’s mouth once again on his neck but this time it was intentional and he whimpered. He was kissing his skin, sucking on it, grazing him with his teeth. It seemed sloppy, uncontrolled, unable to focus clearly, but that didn’t detract from how it felt to Armin. If anything, knowing he had this effect on Eren, left him so disoriented, made the feeling even more powerful.
He tightened his hold and another moan followed. Eren buried his face against Armin’s shoulder as short, quick breaths left his lips. His pace became faster, thrusting harder into Armin’s circled fingers, the friction hot against Armin’s palm and he tried to pick up his own movements to match Eren’s.
His mind was spinning and he felt deprived of oxygen as he breathed with the same hurried breaths as Eren. He was once again aware of his own needs, felt like he was throbbing, and he couldn’t wait any longer for the sake of making this last.
“Eren… You can touch me now—ah!” the request was met before it was completely spoken.
Eren’s hand closed around his own length and Armin’s hips lifted eagerly to slide through his grasp. There was no subtlety to it, Eren’s touch was rough and fast, jerking Armin along with the speed of his own hips. It was different, the texture of his palms, not quite as smooth as Armin’s own.
Their hands continued to touch one another, drawing out long moans, taking each other’s breath away. Knowing the sensations were similar, stronger like this between them, listening to each faint sound, every small tremble felt, Armin thought it was enough to leave him delirious. Eren’s hand gliding up and down over his length, sight of tan skin contrast against his own pale complexion, made his legs feel weak, and his chest ache. He was wrapped around him so tight, every stroke made him shudder, and his body pushed forward, wanting more.
The soft kissing and nipping of his skin resumed, hot breaths against wet skin. Between that, Eren’s touch, the feel of his cock pumping into his own hand, and that heat that just kept spreading over him in waves, the pleasure overwhelmed him. It took him over all too fast.
He came before Eren. It was more intense than any climax he had brought about by his own hand, causing his whole body to shiver and back to arc. A cry left his throat, louder than he would have allowed if he had any real control over it. Even as he spilled into Eren’s grip, the other boy didn’t stop, continuing stroke him until his own limit was reached shortly after.
Eren moaned his name once and mouthed it over and over against his skin, rocking against his touch as he spent himself. Body still trembling in the afterglow, Armin did his best to continue his motions until Eren’s frantic gasps turned into steadier, more consistent pants.
One more breath, deeper than the last, and his mind became heavy with exhaustion. “Eren…” he murmured, lips curled into a small smile.
Eren lifted his head and their eyes met. Armin only had a second to admire their color as his friend closed them once again as he leaned forward. Eren’s lips captured his suddenly. The kiss was short, unrefined, with a clash of teeth and the bumping of noses, but it was his first and Armin's heart leapt in response to it.
“You okay?” Eren asked softly.
“Mm…” the words sounded so distant to Armin. “Yeah…definitely okay…” his eyes did not open again after the kiss, his mind shut off, and his body gave in to exhaustion, falling asleep.
* * *
“…Armin?” Eren asked once again but he immediately realized the other boy had drifted off to sleep.
A heavy sleep, he discerned as the faint vibrations of his throat escaped through slightly parted lips in the form of a snore, his body completely limp against the blankets beneath them. His hand was still down Eren’s pants and his own were still pushed down around his knees. The scene was one that might have been considered humorous, but to Eren he could only find it endearing that Armin was so comfortable with him that his mind would allow him to pass out like this while next to him. He placed a kiss against the side of Armin’s temple before he started to move away.
He took the time to grab some of their supplies, namely a washcloth and some water, and went to the task of cleaning them both up. It wasn’t often Armin fell into such a deep sleep that he could be moved and touched without stirring, but this was one of those times. He was so exhausted, there was no response to Eren running the wet cloth over his hand or his body. The quiet snoring continued even as he redressed him, tugging his pants back up and buttoning his shirt again.
There were few moments like this, little pieces of joy to be found and experienced in this world. Shared intimacy like this with the person he trusted the most, left Eren feeling calm, and took away some of his own anxiety.
The scene changed, no longer looking at all conspicuous. It was as though nothing had happened at all, as he pulled the earlier thrown off blanket back over Armin. Rather than move back over to his side of the tent, however, Eren curled up next to him and linked together their fingers. Within minutes, he was lulled to sleep by the sound of Armin’s breathing, with a smile on his face.