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Faceless

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Eren POV

 

I can never tell if I love or hate public transport. 

 

I love the fact that everyone is trying to ignore each other, keep themselves to themselves and at all costs avoid eye contact- just like I am. But I hate the fact that losing Mikasa is as easy as breathing in a crowded train station like this. 

 

Here’s a little about me. My name is Eren Jaeger.

 

I’m a second year at St Maria University living in Sina with my dad and adopted sister.

 

I’ve got green eyes, tanned skin, a roundish face and glasses to match. My hair is that kind that doesn’t sit straight, never has and I don’t think it ever will. But despite how much I complain about it, with all it’s impossible volume and mess, I’m pleased that it doesn’t listen.

 

 It makes recognising my own reflection slightly easier.

 

Yeah, I get that might sound slightly odd- why do you need help recognising yourself? Do you not know what you look like?

 

Well, yeah, I know. Trust me, I know I should know. But I don’t.

 

I’m a normal teenage kid. Stupid. Reckless. Desperate to fall in love. Except I’m not normal, I want to be, but I’m not. I have something called Prosopagnosia, or in non-medical speak, Face Blindness.

 

Prosopagnosia (noun), the inability to recognise the faces of familiar people, typically as a result of damage to the brain.

 

 Familiar people. Even people I’ve lived my whole life with.

 

Even my dad, who’s been trying his hardest since my mother died five years ago to raise my sister and me and balance a career in medicine.

 

 I haven’t told him about the face blindness because he has enough on his plate to stress about and I can’t be dealing with him going all medical on me. I don’t need to be another reason his hair is greying.

 

I can’t even recognise my own sister. I know that Mikasa has dark hair, chopped into a messy bob, and is almost always wearing a red scarf. That’s her main identifier, and I struggle when she’s not wearing it. But lucky for me, she almost always has it with her.

 

I haven’t told Mikasa about the face blindness because she would over worry, over mother, over crowd. I don’t need to give her another reason to never let me out of her sight.

 

I can’t even pick my best friend, Armin, out of a crowd. I know he’s shorter than most- skinny, with blonde hair (also bobbed). I know he has a British accent, which makes things easier.  But other than the fact that he normally always has a book in his arms, I struggle with him a lot of the time. There aren’t many British accents around but short blondes are more common than you’d think.

 

I haven’t told Armin about the face blindness because I don’t know how.

 

 I don’t know how to ask for help, even from someone I’ve known as long as I’ve known Armin. But I try ignore that part of me, the part desperate for help, I just tell myself it’s because I also don’t want him to worry.

 

Not many people know this about me, and when I say not many people, I mean no one.

 

I used to think it was easier to just ignore everyone, lock myself away and limit myself to a handful of relationships. But I’ve realised over the years, you can’t shut the whole world out. You’re constantly surrounded by the human race whether you like it or not. We get the train every day for one thing, so I tell myself I should be used to this by now, but every single day I find myself scared to blink in case I lose my sister.

 

Anxiety’s a bitch.

 

I work hard to keep my eyes fixed on her now as we push our way through the waves of people. Whenever I think it's easing up another train pulls up and people come clambering out; all arms and shoulders, pushing everyone out of their way. 

 

Mikasa became even more protective after our mother died, kind of like she was trying to replace her. Or at least her role in my life. But this is really the one of the only time of the day I'm grateful for how protective Mikasa is of me. Even if she doesn't know about the whole face blindness thing, she seems to understand I struggle in some way in crowds and grabs onto the sleeve of my jacket to pull me with her as she leads the way.

 

“Come on- we’re going to miss it.” Mikasa grumbles at me. Of course, she also says this to me every day.

 

I laugh. “I’m having déjà vu.” I claim.  Every day I sleep in, every day we’re rushed to the station and she always uses that line and every day I reply the same way. I guess I could count it as another one of her identifiers.

 

“Fuck off- come on.”

 

We seem to be lucky today as we actually don’t miss it. That’s happened once or twice, but as I point out to her, trains from Sina to Maria aren’t exactly few and far between. One every twenty minutes. We would have been fine even if we had missed it. Today, the train pulls up pretty much as soon as we get to the right platform. I step aside ever so slightly to allow the people coming off to move past us and regret my decision instantly as in the rush Mikasa’s grip on my sleeve is lost and she’s swallowed by the crowd. I blink and she’s gone. Her face is instantly wiped from my mind and any one of these people could be my sister for all I know.

 

“Sorry.” I mumble as a man pushes roughly past me. My apology comes too late though because the man’s already gone off into the crowd- or he might be right next to me still, I can’t tell- and Mikasa’s still lost too. It’s then that I feel the panic raising a little, but I try my best to muffle it, at least until I make it onto the train. I can find my sister when I’m there.

 

Another push from someone behind is what I need to start moving again. I decided to stop being so polite and manage to get onto the train just before the doors close.

 

Disorientated but there at least, I blink and look around. I made it, but I’m still Mikasa-less. That’s a problem.

 

Usually I live by the rule of avoiding faces all together. It’s not like it helps to look at them, so I tend to just ignore them. My eyes settling somewhere else, or have to consciously make eye contact. But, usually in public, if you don’t look at them you can pretend that’s why you don’t recognise them, not because your brain is fucked. But I have to now. I stand, my eyes flicking around the train, trying to find the tell-tale red scarf of my sister, or the dark hair- something.

 

When I can’t find the scarf, I feel my heart rate pick up a little, unsure if I should move through the crowd and try find it. But knowing Mikasa, she’s probably trying to find her way to me now anyway.

 

The train pulls to another stop, and I know that St Maria University is next, so for now I push forward a little into the crowd to let more get on the train.  I’m standing close to the seats now, my eyes flickering across each of the occupants, trying to tell if one of them is Mikasa. Hoping that I know none of them. I know that she probably wouldn’t have taken the scarf off on the train but there’s always the possibility-

 

The train jerks again, and I end up following the movement. Being distracted, my footing doesn’t help keep my balance in this situation and in the most over dramatic and cringe-worthy moment of my life, I lose myself. Trip, wobble, fall forward, put my hands out to stop myself. Too late. Life has this really good way of thrusting you into movie like moments. I say movie like, but in reality I know they’re just cripplingly socially awkward. Like I don’t have enough social anxiety to deal with. Thanks world.

 

Thanks a fucking bunch.

 

I blink and realise I’m now crushing a not-Mikasa. One arm on the window, one crushing his leg- his coffee down his front.

 

Fuck.  

 

I decide in that exact moment that I hate trains. Definitely hate them.

 

“Fucking hell. Do you mind-“ The man curses, his hand coming up to shove me off him. I try an apologetic smile before I see he’s not trying to save his jumper, but the largeish sketchbook that’s sitting on his lap. I take a step back, my face instantly burning up.

 

“Shit- I’m so sorry. Are you okay? Did it burn you? Your book-“ I start, unsure what to do. I’m just aware that every single pair of eyes that are in this carriage are now on me and this guy is glaring at me like I’m responsible for the world hunger. Or maybe the death of a beloved family pet. All I know is that if looks could kill, I’d be terminally ill right about now.

 

“I’m fine. Whatever.” He snaps back, moving the take-out cup away from everything. The people sitting next to him try and be subtle about abandoning their seats before the coffee gets on them too, but I’m more worried about his art book.

 

“Is your book alright? I’m really sorry. Look, use this.’’ I offer my jacket sleeve for him to use as a wipe and his glare narrows.

 

“It’s fine.”  He doesn’t even look at it. I know it’s not. “You’ve done enough. Keep your shitty sleeve dry, we both don’t need to get wet.” I guess that this is true, so I keep my mouth closed for a few more moments. Watching him attempt to clean himself up and the space around him.

 

“Can I do anything else for you or are you satisfied you’ve ruined enough of my shit?” He asks, sarcasm dripping from his voice. The scowl still creasing his face. I’m starting to think that if I knew him, that would be one of his identifiers. This scowl. Right now, his identifiers are his dark hair, the undercut, the piercings, the tip of a neck tattoo that I can see peaking over his turtle neck and- of course- the dark stain of coffee covering his chest. His jacket is also helpful. Probably the most helpful.

 

It’s completely unique.

 

 A baggy leather biker jacket, but it’s covered in white pen illustrations, patterns and writing. It’s obviously not printed like that, so he or someone else has hand drawn them and from the sketchbook in front of him, I’m guessing it was him. Some more faded than the others, but there’s a fair few bright white ones on his sleeve. Like he’s constantly adding to it. His jacket is his canvas.

 

It excites me and instantly I want to ask all about it. I’ve never seen anything like it.

 

I’ve never been much of a creative, that was always Armin’s territory really. But this guy- you can almost tell instantly, even without the sketchbook, he’s an art student.

 

I hope that it’s something of a signature clothing item for him. It would make recognising him again a hell of a lot easier. And I don’t know why I do, but I really want to recognise him again.

 

“I-“ An awkward pause follows, I don’t know why I opened my mouth. I have no idea what I’m going to say. I’ve basically ruined this guys life in fifteen seconds and I’m concerned that everything I say is just going to make it worse. “I’m sorry.” I say again.

 

He narrows his eyes at me, and I force myself to make eye contact. Force myself to give him one of my well-practised ‘I’m so sorry’ smiles that I usually save for when I miss-recognise someone.  

 

“You said.” He replies. Smile not returned which means I’m not forgiven; noted.

 

“I’ll get you another coffee?” I try, thinking up another way to make it up for him. It just sucks because I know he’s not bothered by the coffee, that much is evident even to me.

 

“That sounds like you’re asking me out on a date, brat.” He scoffs, and for a moment I think I’ve made a break through. There’s a slight hint of amusement in his voice. It’s both that and what he says that makes my cheeks burn harder.

 

“I-um- sorry- I didn’t mean- if-“ I fumble, the guys eyes rolling.

 

“I was just taking the piss.” He replies. “I don’t care about the coffee.”

 

“Sorry about your book.” As I expected, that’s the main issue. I feel terrible. “I guess I can’t give you money to replace it.” I say, though if it’s full of his art then even if I got him a replacement book, it wouldn’t be the same.

 

“No. You can’t.”

 

“Sorry.”

 

“Quit apologising. You’re making me feel guilty.” The man replies.

 

“I-“

 

“Eren.” I hear my name from behind me, my stomach churning as the usual response to hearing it. That’s just what happens. I know that it means someone’s recognised me and I’m going to have to either pretend that I know who they are, play along, or start putting all my effort into looking for clues to how and from where I know them.

 

I turn and am greeted with a girl’s face, stern expression. “Where did you go- I thought you’d missed the train. Can you not stay by my side for ten seconds without getting lost?” The girl says and that gives me the answer I need for who this is before I even make it down to the red scarf around her neck.

 

“I’m here.” Is all I answer before I feel the train coming to another slow stop and Mikasa moved to grab my sleeve again. I’m pleased, it stops me losing my balance a second time.

 

“Come on, it’s our stop.” She points out, starting to leading me through the crowd of people who were either moving towards or away from the doors. I turn my head to look back at the man I fell onto, planning on one last apology before he’s out of my life, but he’s gone. His seat empty.  Looking back to where Mikasa was now tugging me. I don’t recognise him, but I recognise the damp sketchbook that he’s still holding in his hand as he steps off the train and disappears.

 

I do, however, manage to catch the now smudged words of ‘St Maria University’  written in block capitals on a piece of masking tape on the front of the sketchbook.

 

I don’t catch his name.

Chapter Text

Eren's POV 

 

“You’re a fucking arse.” A short, shaved head kid snorts, pushing me into a wall as we walk out of St Maria’s Humanities building.

“Fuck off.” I reply. “I’m not giving helping you. I don’t know anything about your course.”

“You’re starting to sound like Armin.” He huffs, but I know it’s joking.

 I know this kid is Connie Springer. He’s been in my class since I can remember, same with Armin. But Connie and I weren’t that friendly until Sasha moved and came into the mix. Now I can’t seem to chase either of them off my tail.

I’d say Connie’s easier to recognise than Sasha though. I don’t know many university kids who deliberately choose to shave their hair down to mere stubble. And, on top of that, he’s even shorter than Armin. That’s impressive.

 Sasha, however (bless her), blends into the crowd. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at her and gone ‘yes, that’s Sasha’ before I’ve been given more clues.

Even as I look at her now, I can’t pick-out anything unique about her appearance. Every blink I have to remind myself ‘This is Sasha, this is Sasha’.  Although I feel bad, I’m pretty sure this means that she’s symmetrical, nothing bizarre about her face. So that also means she’s probably very good looking. Symmetrical people usually are. But I struggle more with symmetrical faces. They just look the same.

Sasha- along with ever other symmetrical, brown hair, brown eyed girl- disappears in front of my very eyes and the only thing that I can identify her by is her personality.

I think I’ve struggled more with not recognising people in university more than high school. It’s frustrated me more, but that might just be because I have more friends now. More friends that I actually don’t want to push away.

Overall, university has been kind to me. So far at least.

During high school, I tried the whole lone wolf act. I thought it was easier than trying. With the prosopagnosia, dealing with the death of my mother and all the shit that had come with it had been tough. I was that notorious troubled teen. Anger issues calling my father into parent-teacher meetings and me to detention most weeks. I think that was one of the first times I decided that I wasn’t going to tell him about the prosopagnosia. The look that I’d seen the look in the man that I was told was my father after one of the last meetings. He had looked so tired. I didn’t want that for dad.

He was dealing with the accident himself. Losing his wife. Balancing grief, two kids and a demanding career was no easy task and although a lot of the time I can’t control my anger, even now, I try to for dad. I had told myself to stop being selfish.

University was my fresh start, my new slate and I had established myself the first year no longer as the frustrated delinquent. Angry at the world for taking away this mother and the ability to see faces, but as the class joker, the cool guy, friend to all.

 It seemed easier to work with the prosopagnosia that way. Instead of hiding away and avoiding everyone, I treated everyone like a friend now. Sure, it’s lead to probably more awkward encounters when people know me and I still have literally no idea who they are, but I’ve taught myself to try and bury the anxiety that comes with that situation, smile through it and play along.

Sure, I still have the anger, I still have face blindness and I still have no mother. But so far, university has been good.

“That’s actually a shout,” Connie claims, bringing me back to the present as he walk. “Maybe I’ll just ask Armin. He doesn’t have a stick quite as long as yours up his arse.”

“Except he’s not in your class, so he’ll have to basically do your work for you.” I point out. My eyes roll at the look Connie gives me.

“That’s the point.”

“ I hope you fail. You deserve to.” I say, earning a snort from Sasha.

“Savage, Eren, but true.” She laughs, leading the way to our usual summer lunch spot.

“Hey! Don’t take his side.” Connie whines but I’ve already begun drowning him out as I see our bench. There are already people sitting, but I can’t tell who’s who except I know they’re my friends as I manage to spot the red scarf of my sister. I choose to sit next to her for ease.

I’m not going to lie, and I already know how awful this sounds. I love them all, I really do- but the only thing I regret about my friends is how many of them there now are. Wow, Eren, thinking you’re so popular. Well, we do have a pretty big friend group now. It’s gone from like zero to a hundred from high school to university. Well, from two to eleven. But I get confused.

A lot.

Lunch break is always as tiring as keeping track of Mikasa in a train station. Maybe more so. I can’t just completely zone out and focus on one thing. I want to keep track, join in, talk to them. So I usually spend the first few minutes tracking the people I can recognise and memorising today’s sitting plan.

Mikasa’s to my left. Armin, who’s reading, is sitting opposite. I first think Christa is him, but the clothes and hair length tell me differently.

Connie, I find again from his hair, sits near Armin. Surprise, surprise. I know his plan already.

“Watch out, Armin, he’s going to harvest your brain power for his own gain.” I tell him with a smirk, getting out the lunch that Mikasa carefully prepared last night. Dad’s stopped offering us money to buy lunches now, both me and him seem to have just accepted this is another way Mikasa likes to play mother. I’d never tell her, but even I think Ma would have stopped making us packed lunches by this age.

“Hmm?” The blond asks, tearing his eyes away from the book to look up at me before Connie’s in his face, begging for him to help him with his work.

“So, Jaeger,” another voice sounds to my left, sliding on to the bench next to me. I’m faced with yet another complete stranger in the sea of complete strangers so I blink and silently try and look for identifiers I recognise why they continue talking.

 This is why lunch is so tiring.

 “Your sister was telling me about your little experience on the train.” Says the stranger. I play along with the fact that he obviously knows me by rolling my eyes. I remember what he’s referring to all too well though. Sucks prosopagnosia doesn’t wipe awkward memories.

“We’re not going to talk about this. I don’t need to relive the embarrassment.” I try, shooting Mikasa my best ‘fuck you for telling anyone’ glare.

“What happened?” Another brown haired girl asks. Sasha again or maybe Ymir- God knows. I focus on my lunch instead of finding out.

“ Apparently he-“

“Did someone feel you up?” Connie asks, a wide grin stretching his face.

“Fuck no.”

“Did you feel someone up?” Connie continues, the grin getting ever wider.

“No- Jesus. Who even does that? You watch too much porn.”

“Bet they fucking did!” Connie laughs, which Sasha joins in. Her laugh, in fairness, is one of her better identifiers. Even when she giggles, she usually ends up snorting.

“No one ever would ever touch Jaeger up, and he doesn’t have enough balls to touch someone else.” Another voice sounds, and my eyes flick up to see the bicoloured hair, the long face that I know belongs to Jean Kirschtein, also known as the biggest arsehole in the entire world. Unfortunately, he’s only got cockier since Marco agreed to be his boyfriend. Sure, they’re a cute couple, but in all honesty, I’m convinced that Marco must have personality blindness or something.

“Go fuck yourself, Jean.”

“I’d rather fuck Marco. I think fucking yourself is your job, Jaeger? Considering that’s all you’re getting.” Jean replies and that smug expression- It’s riling me up the wrong way.

“Bet he’d rather fuck that guy from the train.” The stranger that I have to thank for bringing this up in the first place adds. I turn to glare, but luckily manage to put a name to a face. Blonde hair and arms that literally look like they could snap you in half. Must be Reiner.

“Can you all just fuck off, please?” I cut them off.

 “Okay, okay. I’m just joking around, precious.” He replies happily, nudging him with a grin before digging into his own lunch.

This is already exhausting.

I decide to blank them for a few minutes, eating my lunch in as much peace as I can.

“Hey Armin,” I say after a moment, turning my gaze from the food to him. “Wanna come to the library with me later? I need to get some book out for my essay.”

Armin smiles. “Oh yeah, sure. I need to go return some books anyway. ”He’s always down for a library visit, and I’m pleased. Dealing with one person is a million times easier than dealing with eleven all at once.

“Great. I have an hour lecture after lunch but we can go after?” I say, which Armin nods his reply.

“An hour lecture in how actually to get laid?” Connie asks. It’s not funny but he laughs anyway.

I could deal with that.

The rest of lunch passes quickly, which I’m pleased about. It’s tired me out, and I don’t bother to look for anyone I know when I get to the lecture. Just find a seat, sit down and listen to the guy at the front rattle on about Hydrology and Water Resources for an hour. My phone buzzes ten minutes in with a text from a course friend moaning that I ignored him, and I choose to again instead of coming up with some other reason for why I didn’t sit with him. You know, instead of ‘sorry, although I’ve known you for a year and a half already, I still can’t recognise you’.

I’m thankful as this lecture passes fast too- thank fuck- and as I’m at the front I manage to escape the theatre before anyone I know gets the chance to catch up with me. I plug my headphones in for the walk, mostly to stop people talking to me, and head straight to the library.

There’s only a few friendly smiles on the way, which I return, despite having no clue who they are. It’s just a matter of not beating myself up about it now-a-days. I can’t help it. That’s why when I get to the library, I wait for Armin to come to me. Standing by the door and texting him before we properly go in.

I’m a little relieved when we enter the main study area of the library and I let out a small breath. I like how big it is in here, not claustrophobic at all, and everyone’s got their heads down. Ignoring everyone else. Like all the reasons why I like the train station but without the worry of losing the person I’m standing next to the second I blink. It’s just a hell of a lot safer.

“So what you looking for?” Armin questions, his voice quiet now. I pull out my list, read the title of the first text book and the shelve numbers I’ve scrawled down next to it.

We start one our way but instead of walking in the silence we probably should have been, I whisper;

“Did Connie manage to get your help for those questions?”

“Hmm? Oh, no. I told him I’ve got too much of my own work. I don’t think he realises I study Classics not Linguistics.” Armin laughs.

“I don’t think Connie realises the world doesn’t start and end with him though.” I point out, going down an right aisle and keeping track of the numbers.

“True. You coming to his party next week, though?” Armin asks, and I let out a little sigh. There’s so any reasons why I don’t want to but there’s almost as many as to why I do want to go.

The main being the wonderful, one and only prosopagnosia. There’s always the prosopagnosia.

Parties, alcohol and prosopagnosia don’t really mix.

“Maybe.” I say, shrugging.

“You should, it’ll be good. Jean was saying that they’re going to invite tonnes of seniors too. I think he’s hoping they’ll bring drugs or something. If he can get them to come, that is.”

“Sounds great.” I lie. Parties, alcohol, drugs and prosopagnosia definitely don’t mix. I’ll probably skip.

“Well let me know if you’re going. I’ll ask Grandpa if he can pick us up if it makes you feel better.” Armin says and I have to laugh at him. We’re both nineteen years old but Armin’s still stuck at sixteen. Treating his Grandfather as his personal chauffer.  

“Wow, we’ll be the life of the party. I’m sure the seniors will think we’re so cool getting picked up like that. Also, I’m sure your grandfather will just love having three drunk and possibly high teens in his car.”

“Grandpa won’t mind. We can just pretend it’s a taxi if you care that much.”

I laugh again. “I’ll tell him you called him a taxi. He’ll never give you a lift again.”

The search for my text books is quick after that, Armin doesn’t get anything out this time to replace the books that he’s returning so we go straight to the machine. He uses it first and I wait patiently for him, smiling at anyone and everyone who walks past us and makes eye contact even for a millisecond.

When it’s my turn, I open my back pack ready and start scanning.

I get through about three before Armin moves closer to me.

 “That guy’s staring at you.” He whispers, his gaze flicking between me and the person he’s referring to.

“What guy?” I turn my head back discreetly, trying to catch a glimpse of who he’s talking to. I see, but I’m instantly at a loss for who he is. He’s short, dark hair, ringing no bells. Nor is the girl that he’s talking to. She looks like Sasha, but less symmetrical.

My stomach drops.

I probably know them. Probably annoyed them. I can’t really afford to start getting into fights again and if I’ve pissed this guy off somehow-

“He’s coming over!” Armin squeals, his eyes widening. Mine do too.

“Alone?” I ask, still trying to act normal as I continue to scan my books. Like I’ve not seen him, like I don’t know that he’s coming over.

Armin checks again. “Yeah.”

Great.

“Maybe he’s coming to speak to you.” I suggest, giving Armin a small smirk to try hide the  nervousness, but Armin scoffs. 

“I don’t even know him.” He replies. Nor do I, I think.

“Oi, it’s you.” The guy says from behind. Fuck. I pause my scanning to turn my head, giving him a pleasant smile but my mind is still vacant to who he is. He’s got piercings, dark hair, an undercut which I instantly think of the guy on the train but he’s not wearing the turtle neck or the jacket so I can’t be sure.

“Hi.” I try, turning my head again. Maybe if I ignore him, he’ll get the hint and go away.

“You spill shit on me, and all I get is a hi?” Okay, so it is the guy from the train? I don’t recall spilling shit on anyone else so I turn back, shaking my head and give my cover up laugh.

“Sorry- was a bit out of it.” I try, still smiling, but he gives me a searching look.

“You like to apologise a lot, don’t you?” He asks. I don’t know what to say so I ignore the comment and move on.

 “You changed.”

“Yeah, it’s a fucking good thing I still had spare clothes in the studio.” He says, and I wonder why he’d store extra clothes at university but I don’t ask.

“Definitely. Gotta be prepared. You never know when a handsome guy like me is going to fall into your lap and spill your coffee all over.” I tease.

“True.” He says, and I’m a little bit taken aback by the fact he doesn’t deny my being ‘handsome’. Worrying that I’m blushing, I turn back to my books and scan the next one. Armin’s still by my side but has stepped back a little. Maybe to look like he’s not exactly with me but isn’t leaving at the same time. “Didn’t think I’d see you here. Twice in one day? Aren’t I lucky.” Well, he’s seemed to forgiven me since this morning, which I’m happy about. The amusement is back in his voice, and afar more prominent.

“Must be fate.” I joke, turning back as I finish scanning the last of the books.

“Fucking brat.” He’s smirking now and the way he says it makes my stomach do another little flip, the blood definitely rushes to my cheeks this time. Luckily, he doesn’t seem to see it though as his phone buzzes and I watch as he checks it quickly. The smirks gone, annoyance is replaced. I assume it must have been from the girl he was talking to before and is currently giving him double thumbs up from across the library. He flips her the bird and she sticks her tongue out, laughing and waving.

“A friend of yours?” I ask.

“She’s no longer a friend.” I swear he’s blushing too. I think it’s about her before- “As you’re here...I wanted to ask if you wanna get that coffee you promise me at some point?” He asks. Okay, so that’s definitely not what I expected him to say. There’s no hiding my cheeks now, but I feel a little better in the fact that he’s currently got a similar problem. Maybe not as prominent but it’s still there.

“Um- I-“ I fumble for a moment before grinning. “That sounds like you’re asking me out on a date.” I say, my grin widening at the repeat of his comment he gave earlier. His expression is soft though, still amused.

“Don’t push your luck, brat. Yes or no?” So, he’s a blunt one. I guess I already knew it about him, but still. Nice to have it confirmed.

I’m also blunt with my answer, no longer aware of Armin standing so close. “Yes. It’s a yes.”

He seems to soften his expression a little, perhaps relieved or perhaps I’m just wishful thinking that he’s happy I said yes.

“Okay. You free tomorrow?” He asks, which I nod in reply. “There’s this café across campus, it’s called Titan. It’s pretty good. Meet me there around four.” He says, blunt again, and I already know that when he says ‘around four’, he means four on the dot.

I also already know that I’ll get there fifteen minutes early so he’s coming to me and I don’t have to worry about not recognising him.

“Sure.” I smile, a little dazed at the fact I’m pretty sure this is a date.

“I’ll see you then, cutie.” He finishes, catching my eyes for a moment. I’m stunned for a moment by his, they’re stormy. Almost brooding- hot- before he winks. All at once I realise what he’s called me, felt the wink flip my stomach, set my cheeks on fire.

Before I can say anything else, though, he turns and starts to walk away. I blink and his eyes are gone from my mind.

Dazed, I stand there for a moment. It’s obvious Armin is too but it doesn’t take long for him to be grinning almost as widely as the brunette across the library is.

“Holy fucking shit!” Armin squeals. He doesn’t swear often, Armin. He obviously knows this is as crazy as I do. I still don’t look at him though, a little caught up with watching the dark- haired guy return to his friend too. She’s clearly having the same reaction as Armin.

I’m just about to tear my eyes away from them, when she turns around one last time.

“His name is Levi!” She literally yells to us at the top of her lungs. The whole library turns around. Every pair of eyes are on me for the second time that day. My eyes widen, my cheeks burning so fucking much. I literally think I’m on fire.

It takes a moment but then my ears are filled with another yell.

“His name is Eren!” Armin yells back, obviously so overwhelmed by his best friend being asked out that he forgets he’s usually quiet and reserved and not a yeller.

We’re kicked out the library after that and I am now hundred percent sure I'm on fire. But it’s okay, because I think Levi is too.

 

Chapter Text

LEVI POV

It’s an instant regret when I tell Hanji about the kid on the train. I don’t know why I do it to myself really. Tell her anything, that is, not just about the kid. She’s on the information like a leech, like she usually is, trying to suck all the juicy details out of the situation when in reality there is none. It was just that.

Some stupid kid lost his balance and fell onto me. Period. No big deal. Right?

So, why is it still playing over and over again in my mind? Why aren’t I as pissed off about it as I should be?

He had ruined the sketchbook. All my ink sketches I’d been working on over the last few weeks bleeding together. Pages crumbled. Pen smudged. Completely ruined. I couldn’t even look at it, and to be honest, I had binned it the moment I got off the train.

But for some bizarre reason, I’m not angry at the kid. I was. But almost as soon as he had started speaking, I had become instantly less angry at the idiot that had ruined my work. In fact, he probably put me in a better mood. Though Hanji's talented at quickly ruining that with her never-ending questioning.  

She’s sat on my studio desk although there’s a perfectly good chair right next to her. I stand by the sink, cloth and soap in my hand, scrubbing. I’m just thankful that the jumper was dark, the coffee hadn’t stained it, just further darkened a patch and made it reek. If it had, I might have thrown it out along with the sketchbook.

“So, tell me again,” She says happily and I roll my eyes, not hiding my sigh. “Did he say where he was going? We could go hunt him down.” She suggested.

“For fuck sake, shitty glasses.” I snap at her. “I’ve literally told you everything. He said nothing. He fell on me, ruined my shit and I left. End of it.” I told her again. Honestly, if I’d told her once I had a thousand times. “And with that attitude, you’re going to earn us both a restraining order.”

t

“Don’t use that tone with me.” She continues teasing me.

I can almost hear the smirk on her face as I scrub the stain.

I already know my mistake. I’d been too willing to answer her question, given too much detail when I did too and now she’s got it in her head that I should be tailing this guy to take him out on some shit date or something. Like that was ever going to happen. Like I even wanted it to. It had all been one massive mistake and the quicker we stopped talking about it and I forgot about it, the better.

 “I just want to know about him. You can talk to me, you know.” She adds, her tone changing from piss taking to sounding like a concerned mother who’s child’s distancing themselves.

She’s always been like that, Hanji. Goes from annoying older sister to mother mode in like two seconds flat. Even if it’s joking, it does tick me off. It’s not like I need her to. I’ve gotten on without a mother for long enough, so I’d rather she didn’t try replace that.  The sister role, however, is already filled by Isabel and the last thing I need is another whining, bratty sister.

One is more than enough.

To be honest, I really don’t know why I put up with her. Hanji that is. Isabel I have more of a legal and moral responsibility to make sure she doesn’t die from malnutrition or kill herself with her hair straighteners. Hanji, however, less of a responsibility.

 It’s not like I couldn’t get on by myself. Probably prefer it, at university at least. Just come into the studio, plug myself in, draw the day away, forget to eat, head home. Yeah, that sounds better than having my life dictated by not-my-mother, not-my-sister, Hanji Zoe.

Though I know I’ll never be able to shake her off- or Erwin for that matter. When it gets down to it, they’re both as bad as each other. Though at least Erwin doesn’t break into the fourth year textiles studio everyday just to talk to me. He just bothers me at conventional times.

But, I also know that, as much as it pains me to admit it, I’m not too distraught about having them in my life.

“There’s nothing to talk about. I doubt I’ll ever even see him again.” I point out.

“But he’s obviously on your train. He might come sit next to you on the way home. Bring you flowers as an apology.” She says happily, continuing to swing her legs and watch me.

“I really doubt that.”

“But it’s a possibility.” She beams.

“I don’t even know why you’re so caught up over this. It was literally nothing.” I remind her for the seventh thousand time that morning. It was literally nothing. It had happened, it was a memory, that was it. I would never see the kid again, I didn’t want to, I just wanted to do my work and clean this shitty turtle neck.

Because,” Hanji practically sings, “you like him.”

I don’t even grace her with a response. Though it works in the opposite way as I turn back, I see a shit eating grin breaks across her face. “I knew you did!” She squeals loudly making the few people working in the studio without headphones in look up for a second.

“I fucking don’t.” I defend, feeling I have to say something now. “You can’t like someone you know shit all about. And all I know about him is he’s got shit balance and a guilty conscience.”

“Sure you can. People call it love at first sight. True love! L’amour vrai!” She laughs again and I try to shove her off my desk. She’s making the place look messy.

“You need professional help.”

“Fate threw you both together.” No a train did.  “I bet you made eye contact and couldn’t drag your eyes away.” His eyes were nice.  “The whole world faded away. Just you and him.” Was there actually other people in the carriage? “Your heart skipped a beat, then sky rocketed.” Has my heart rate increased now? “You couldn’t get quite enough oxygen in and when you did, you smelt him- all around you.” He smelt like apples.

Levi, snap the fuck out of it.

“Yeah- because he was fucking crushing me again the wall.” I scoff.  “Much to your dismay, Hanji, I don’t actually live in a fucking Disney film so if you don’t mind fucking off, that would be great.” She hops down from the desk and pushes her glasses up, giving me one of her searching stares.

“You swear too much to be in a Disney film, Levi, dear.”

“Too bad.” I reply, monotoned. I fold up the now clean-ish turtle neck and slip it into the carrier bag that’s under my desk, making a mental note to take it home tonight and stick it in the nights load of washing. It’s a good thing that I had kept a spare shirt in the studio though, and although I know it’s not completely clean, it’ll have to do. “Right, will you actually fuck off now, I have a semester’s worth of work to catch up on.” I point out.

“Hmm, true. I think I have a lecture soon anyway.” She says.

“For someone doing medicine, you slack off far too much.” I tell her, taking my seat at my desk. Preparing myself to make art. Inks out, headphones ready to be put in to either drown Hanji out or make sure she leaves. This tactic might have to be used as she just laughs again.

“I'm just going with the flow, sweet Levi.” Hanji winks, grinning. Yeah, the headphones are going in.

“If I’m ever admitted to hospital and you’re my doctor I’ll accept death there and then.” I tell her.

“How rude. You’ve got to believe in me. Like I believe in you. Believe that you’ll finish your project and believe in you that you’ll be reunited with that guy from the train again and fall in love-“ That was enough of a reason for me pick up my headphones and slip them in my ears.

“Bye.”

“You’ll have cute little babies together.”

“Bye.”

“Wait- Come to the library with me later-“

“Goodbye Hanji.”

“See you at three.”

“Fuck off already.”

 

3:23pm

 

I seem to be real good at making mistakes today. Today’s speciality.

Sure, I’d done pretty well in the catching up on the sketchbook work that needed to replace the ruin one. Sure, I’d managed to zone out of the world completely and forget all about the stupid brat on the  train and managed to ignore Hanji’s never-ending texting all the way through her lecture .

I hadn’t, however, done pretty well in keeping my mouth closed all day. And admitting to Hanji that the boy from the train was here in St Maria University library with us was possibly among the worst I had made all day. The second being actually following her as she decided to stalk the poor kid around the rest of the library, finally stopping at a water cooler as he stood a little way opposite, scanning books out.

“You should go over.” She says, with a firm nod. “Fate is trying to tell you something.”

 “Shut the fuck up about fate, would you.” I grumble. I hate this. I hate that I agreed to come to the library with her. I hate that I’m nervous about the possibility of going over there and saying something. Not that I have anything to say. What would I say? ‘Hey you remember me? You threw coffee down me this morning and ruined my work. Yeah, so, nice chatting to you again.’ God-I hate that I’m standing here with her, spying on this kid anyway. I literally hate myself.

“But why else would he be here?” Hanji insists. This makes my eyes roll again.

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe because he obviously attends university.” I hiss, sarcastically. “I’m a hundred percent sure he also doesn’t want to be harassed while taking books out. Let’s just fucking go already.” I half beg. I really want to leave. I’m tired and completely sick of this situation.

“I still think you should go over to him. Just say hi or something. He’ll remember you and I bet you’ll hit it off chatting. I’ll have to drag you away because I’ll be growing a beard by the time you’ve finished talking to him.” She says, grinning.

“Because I’m notorious for my great monologues.” My reply is still sarcastic, of course. She’s getting on my nerves, she deserves it.  Hanji, however, is notorious for her thick skin and her ability to allow my moods to fall off her like water.

“Maybe he’ll change you.” She teases, winking and nudging me with her bony-fucking-elbow. “Go on. Take a risk.”

“Okay, okay, fine.” I snap, shrugging her away and stepping to the side slightly. I like my personal space, Hanji isn’t one to really be aware of personal space. “If it shuts you up, I’ll fucking go over.”

Mistake number eight million of today.

“Go on then.” She’s nudging at me again.

“Okay- okay.” I repeat, trying to quickly think past my heartbeat that was now thumping in my chest. Fucking traitor. I make sure to start walking before I take my calming breath, just so Hanji doesn’t see it.

I almost turn around when I see the blonde kid next to him say something that’s clearly about me. Maybe I’m just good at reading people, or maybe he’s just shit at hiding it, but I see it clear as day. I just remind myself that I’m a complete idiot as instead of turning back, I continue towards them. Right up to them and stand there for just a second before I speak.

I can almost feel Hanji’s grin as she watches. Mental note: Kill Hanji as soon as we’re out of this library.

“Oi, it’s you.” Oh great. Great pick up line, Levi. You’re an absolute genius. But he still turns slowly, the smile is enough to make my stomach flip but he’s not really looking at me. Either he’s trying to act nonchalant or I am actually bothering him right now.

“Hi.” Is all he gives me to work with. I’m starting to think we’re both as bad at this as each other.

“You spill shit on me, and all I get is a hi?” I continue, cocking my head slightly and I’m pleased to see he actually turns around at this.

“Sorry- was a bit out of it.” He replies. No shit.

“You like to apologise a lot, don’t you?”  I point out, a smirk passing over my face as I look up at him. His eyes. Just as I remember them- like oceans. But he’s not gazing back into my eyes like Hanji said, he’s looking at me sure. But really looking at everything. My shirt, my hair, my piercings, the bit of the tattoo that he can obviously still see past the colour of the shit. Suddenly I feel more self-conscious than I have done for years.  

“You changed.” Is all he says. I swallow.

“Yeah, it’s a fucking good thing I still had spare clothes in the studio.”

“Definitely. Gotta be prepared. You never know when a handsome guy like me is going to fall into your lap and spill your coffee all over.” He says and that relaxes me a bit. A lot actually. He’s eyes move up to mine, he’s looking at them and finally we’re making the eye contact that Hanji promised me. I’m having a moment with him, I just hate myself for it.

“True.” Is all I have to say.

“Must be fate.” He says, and I catch the grin he gives me before he turns around again. Surprisingly, the mention of fate doesn’t annoy me as much as it has been whenever Hanji’s mentioned it today. It actually softens my expression, and I relax as I smell the apples as he turns.

“Fucking brat.” I reply. I’m about to say something else when my phone buzzes in my hand. Not just an ignore it once but it’s going mental so I have to check it.

From: Shitty Glasses [3:35pm]

It’s going well!!!

From: Shitty Glasses [3:35pm]

Ask him out

From: Shitty Glasses [3:36pm]

Levi!!

From: Shitty Glasses [3:36pm]

ASK HIM ON DATE!!!

I mute it, lock it and shove it back in my pocket. Quickly as I can, I turn to flip Hanji the bird but I know that he’s seen it as I hear this laugh next to me. My stomach does it’s stupid fucking thing again, my heart follows.

“A friend of yours?” He asks, laughter still in his voice.

“She’s no longer a friend.” I say, seriously. She’s not. I’m going to fucking  kill her. “As you’re here,’’ I turn back to him, trying to act as casual as I can. I’m pretty good at the whole stony expression but I’m also not used to this kind of feeling. Really, I don’t know where it’s all coming from. “I wanted to ask if you wanna get that coffee you promised me at some point?”

I watch him blush. I swear, it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

“Um- I-“ Alright, fuck it, he’s going to say no, he- “That sounds like you’re asking me out on a date.” He repeats my words from this morning, teasingly.  Mischievously. Like it’s the best, smartest thing he’s ever fucking say.

I want to say ‘maybe I am, I definitely am’, but instead I stick with; “Don’t push your luck, brat. Yes or no?”

His smile back. “Yes. It’s a yes.” He says, I feel my whole expression soften. I’m so fucking relieved- I don’t really know why, but it’s like a complete wave of calm.

“Okay. You free tomorrow?” He nods. “There’s this café across campus, it’s called Titan. It’s pretty good.” It is. Erwin works there part time, along with a few other friends. “Meet me there around four.” I say, I don’t ask. Erwin won’t be there then, which will be a relief. I know it makes good coffee, is clean and quiet, but I also don’t need Erwin poking his beak into this. I’ve already got enough of that from Hanji and I know all too well Isabel will find out soon enough.

“Sure.” He agrees. He fucking agrees- I really shouldn’t be so happy about this. Not me. Cynical, pessimistic Levi.

“I’ll see you then, cutie.” I say, trying a little more flirting to see the reaction. I get the one I want- his cheeks reddening, so I finish off with a wink and turn. Walk away before I can make a fool of myself or say anything else to ruin that perfect finish. The perfect image of him; eyes wide, cheeks red, hair all over the place, embarrassed because someone just called him ‘cute’.  

Hanji’s also beaming, waiting for me where I left her- thank fuck. But instead of standing back with her, I walk past her, expecting to pick her up as we head out. She’s on me like a leech again, throwing her arm around me and laughing loudly. I know what’s coming next.

“So, what’s his name?” She asks happily- of course wanting the details the moment I’ve left. But it makes my stomach drop a little, my face harden up again. I didn’t ask.

I didn’t ask him for his fucking name. Hanji, however, seems to notice this. Oh lucky me. I guess I can count it as another mistake, allowing her to see that. She pulls her arm off me, continuing to walk- though now backwards as she’s turned around. Her hands are up to her mouth, making a make shift fog-horn. Intake of breath and-

“His name’s Levi!” She bellows, making me instantly cringe. I don’t know her. I don’t know her. I’m going to fucking kill her.

“Jesus Christ Hanji.” I snap, quiet though. Only for her to hear and grab her arm, attempting to drag her out with me. That’s when I get my reply.

“His name is Eren!”

Eren. I turn my head only to look at Eren for just a second. Hanji’s laughing like a madman. I simply put my hand up to the librarian about to confront us.

“Don’t worry, we’re leaving.” I say, continuing to drag Hanji with me. “You’re fucking dead.” I tell Hanji as we leave.

Chapter Text

EREN POV

 

The way I jolt myself awake is enough to give me whip lash.

 

It takes a moment for me to recover and realise where I am, but soon enough the familiar layout of my room comes into focus. The room itself is only half dark. The light of the morning is seeping in through the curtains, along with the broken street lamp outside my window that’s always on. Rain or shine, day or night.

 

Dad’s been going on about getting me black out curtains for years, but alas, I am still without. Not that I really mind. He had got it into his head that it would help me sleep if my room were in complete darkness. But I know he’s too busy to take time to change my curtains. It’s not top of his priority list, and to be honest, I’m old enough to do it myself. I guess that’s probably more why they’re the same as they’ve always been. I don’t mind the light. It isn’t what’s keeping me awake, more the opposite really.

 

I don’t always dream the same dream, and sometimes I don’t dream at all. Those are my favourite kind of nights. When I just don’t. But usually, when it comes to dreams, I can predict the components that will turn it from a normal dream and make it a nightmare.

 

Like last night.

 

Sometimes I’m standing there alone for a moment.

 

I blink and I’m suddenly surrounded by people. So many people and I don’t know any of them. I’m trying to search for people I know like Mikasa at the train station. Desperately swinging my head to find someone. But the moment I see a jacket I recognise, a hair colour, a way someone is standing, a voice even; I turn to see them clearer and they’re gone.

 

Everyone’s talking to me or saying my name. I can’t pin point a single voice to answer anyone. Talking quickly turns into shouting as I stay silent, unable to speak and suddenly they’re calling out to me. Like an swarm, all buzzing and hissing. Angry that I’m looking at them so blankly.

 

Why don’t you know me, why Eren? Why? Why?’

 

And just like that, I see someone who I recognise. The back of a head at first. It always starts like this- the figure. She’s yelling the loudest, I can pick her voice out from everyone’s, like the rest of the crowd are just her backing singers.

 

I know her.

 

She’s got her back to me, but I know that dress. That hair. From outside the dream; I have her picture on my wall. I call out to her, yelling over her. It takes a moment for her to stop and it’s abrupt. Mid-yell her voice cuts off, and slowly, agonizingly slowly, she turns. My vision blurs a little when she does but when it focuses again, I want to scream.

 

Why don’t you know me, Eren? Do you not recognise your own mother?”

 

              

There’s nothing.

 

Just empty space where her face should be. I know her but I don’t. I try and tell her I do recogniser her. I have her photo. I look at it every day, try and memorise it so I never forget. All it takes is for me to my open mouth, try and get the first word out. I never get further than that because that’s when the blood stars. I close my eyes tightly, but the image- it’s like it’s burnt into my eyes and all at once the crash is coming back to me.

 

All those images I’ve tried to forget.

 

I don’t want to remember her this way.

 

‘Why Eren? Why don’t you remember your own mother?’

 

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I don’t remember you.

 

I let out a long sigh, my eyes slowly opening to the semi darkness of my room. I’m kind of already bummed that the day had to start like this. I was so excited when I went to bed, I’m actually going on a date- a real life date. But of course, life has this wonderful way of reminding you of shitty things that happen. Especially when you’re in a good mood.

 

Sitting up in bed, I push my hair back with one hand as I pant lightly. Dreaming it once was bad enough, I’m really not doing myself any favours by sitting here playing every aspect of the dream over and over again in my head.

 

Living it once was worse.

 

No, no. Okay. Shaky start to the morning, sure, but I’m not about to let this ruin my whole day. It’s a big one, and I’ve been excited.

 

I push the duvet out the way and decide to get up and ready before Mikasa comes in to wake me up. 6:38am, which means Dad has already left for the hospital, probably with a note on the kitchen table telling us when he was due back and that he loves us. I glance to my desk and the photo pinned to the wall above it.

 

My mother and father. Young and in love. They look like one of those stock photo couples you get in photo frames that you’re meant to replace with your own pictures. Their actual faces are strangers to me, as they are in those photos too. But I know it’s them.

 

My father’s round glasses, his hair was a little shorter back then but it’s not as grey. He looks so happy in this photo, not the usual frown which acts more as an identifier now. Ma’s happy too. She looks the same as she always has and always will. Never changing. Except, I guess, she’s pregnant in this photo. That’s one thing about her that changed, she had me.

 

I can see her face. I can see everyone’s face, it’s just like looking at someone and then the moment you look away everything’s wiped clean. I can’t bring up a picture of her in my mind, no matter how I try. I can imagine the whole photo with out looking at it- except what both my parents look like.

 

I smile at it for a moment, despite the thoughts. I smile at her expression.

 

“Sorry, Ma.” Is all I can think of to say in the darkness of my room. I am.

 

After one last look across her face, I turn and her face is gone. Despite the rocky start, today is going to be a good day. I’m going to make sure of it.

 

One thought of Levi is literally all it takes for a smile to creep on my face. Just the fucking library.

 

I move like lightening to get my clothes on. I know I still have hours until my date, but excitement is controlling me now and I really want to make a good impression on Levi. Dress casually, like I haven’t tried but also get him to be wowed.

 

Deciding finally, after a few outfit changes, I finally decide on the one. I spend a few more minutes longer than I normally would in the mirror trying to control my hair a little, even though I eventually give up as per usual and remind myself that four o’clock is hours away. Even if I managed to tidy it up now, it would definitely be a mess again by the end of the day, so what’s the point in trying.

 

I leave it and head downstairs before Mikasa. I was right about Dad’s note.

 

He’s left one on the back of an envelope telling us he’ll be home at nine and if we can hang on, he’ll eat with us when he gets home. I always have mixed feelings about my Dad, sometimes I ask myself if he cares more about his job than he does his kids. Even when he’s here he can be kind of emotionally distant, but then he does things like that and adds little notes like ‘love you both, behave at school’ and he reminds me that he’s a good guy.

 

Just dealt a shitty hand.

 

I’ve learnt over these past few years that we all have scars from the accident.

 

Dad; he now walks with a limp. The accident fucked up his legs and he needed help walking again. I remember being brought to watch him through the window once. I remember him getting angry and shouting at the doctors to take me away because I didn’t need to see him like that and what were they thinking. I also remember not knowing who he was until they told me. His face had meant nothing to me.

 

Mikasa was reasonably lucky. A broken arm, bruising and had only needed a few stiches on a few of the cuts. I don’t know how she managed it. She still has scars from cuts she got in the accident, of course. A particularly nasty one on her leg which she stops herself wearing shorts because of.

 

Me. I was kind of fucked up too, but I don’t remember too many details. I guess the only permanent damage was the head injuries. It was after the accident I stopped knowing who people were, even the people close to me. After a two day coma, I’d woken to a life of strangers and unfamiliarity. I had stopped talking, which is probably why they didn't know straight away about the prosopagnosia. Doctors would come, go, come back but they would be wiped from my memory. 

 

It's in hospital when I experienced my first panic attack. I don't remember much of the details but I remember only being comforted by the familiar scent of my mother when I was held. When my mind had unfogged, I recognised the voice as my sister, and realised it couldn't have been my mother. Her body was smaller, thinner, everything about her wasn't the same. Expect she was wearing one of Ma's jumpers. 

 

I think that was when Mikasa first decided to take the role of mother. When I was clinging to her so desperately calling out for someone I could no longer see. 

 

“Any particular reason you’re up so early?” I jump a little at the sound of another voice, turning my head quickly to see Mikasa stood there. She’s already dressed. Black ripped jeans, grey band t-shirt and a red and black checked over shirt. She’s the very epitome of ‘grunge’ today.

 

I can’t help but smirk. She’s a pain in the ass, but she’s my sister.

 

“Hmm? No, none.” I reply. Lies. Even the idea of my date is making my stomach churn excitedly. She gives a small, knowing hum and I’m about ninety eight percent convinced she knows, she’s just not saying anything. Armin probably texted her about it the moment we parted ways, which I don’t blame him for. I would have done the same if it was him who had been the centre of a scene in the middle of the library. But still.

 

“I believe you, thousands wouldn’t.” She teases. It takes her just a moment to glance over my shoulder and read Dad’s message before she’s walking past, beginning to clatter around in the kitchen to make breakfast. We don’t often have days like this. When we’re both awake early enough to have breakfast together calmly. “As Dad’s back late tonight, wanna catch a film or something after uni finishes? We can see if Armin’s free too.” She asks. Her backs to me. Ninety nine percent sure she knows.

 

“Depends.” I reply, letting her do the work on breakfast. I take a seat. “What time do you finish?”

 

“Half three. There’s a showing of that new horror on at four, I checked last night.” She knows. She’s just trying to get me to tell her. Fine, Mikasa, fine, if you must know-

 

“I can’t.” I say bluntly. I can almost feel her smirk of victory. “I’m meeting a friend at four.”

 

“A friend?” She asks, it’s starting to piss me off. She’s still not looking at me. Armin’s told her literally everything there is to know about this situation.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Do I know them?” Mother-Mikasa continues, finally turning to give me a bowl of cereal. I mumble my thanks before replying to her.

 

“No. I doubt it.”

 

“Oh.” Already this is getting tiring. “Course friend?”

 

“Nope. I’m sure Armin’s told you all about the little incident at the library.” I say bluntly, and I watch as she fails to bite back the smile.

 

“Maybe.” Bingo.

 

“Yeah, well it’s him. He’s asked me to coffee.” I tell her, also unable to hold back the small smile but attempt to disguise it with a mouthful of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. I literally can’t wait till four.

 

Mikasa gives me a beam, sitting down with her own bowl. “Yeah, Armin told me. The guy from the train, right?” She checks and I nod, still chewing. “Ah. He seemed a little…well, arsy yesterday morning, didn’t he?” She says, and in fairness to her, I appreciate her trying. Both between protecting me and also wanting to be happy for me.

 

“Well I did spill coffee all over his shit. I think I would be too.” I point out, to which she shrugs at.

 

“I guess.” She replies. “Well, I hope it goes well for you. It sounded cute what Armin told me. But if he ends up being weird or makes you feel uncomfortable, tell me, okay?” There she is again. Mother Mikasa.

 

“I doubt he will,” I try to defend, but her expression darkens. Better just agree. “Okay, okay. If he gets weird or makes me feel uncomfortable, I’ll come straight to you.” I tell her. It seems to be enough to make her smile again.

 

“Promise?”

 

“Promise.”

 

“Good.” She says softly. “So, is it just coffee?”

 

“For now.” I say, a little hopefully.

 

God- I literally know nothing about this guy, other than he goes to the same university as me and is fucking smoking hot. I shouldn’t be hoping out for so much.

 

Mikasa softens her expression, giving a little nod but I know she holds her tongue. She’s probably wanting to warn me again, but the fact she doesn’t means a lot to be honest. I appreciate her defending me and I know she would to the end of the earth.

 

She’d rip this guys bollocks off if he started being weird and I told her. Even though Levi looks hard as fuck, Mikasa was too and I wouldn’t want to provoke her. But, she’s also caring about me being excited for this. It’s nice. 

 

“Fingers crossed then.” She says. That makes me smile.

 

 

 

3:52pm.

 

I had crossed my fingers not only for something more than just coffee, but for the day to actually go by quickly today. It didn’t. Of course. The worlds an arsehole, I don’t know why I even hoped. The morning went painfully slowly. I expected it would like it always does when you’re actually looking forward to something. But literally every hour took the piss. Crawling by so slowly.

 

Of course, I had kept an eye out for Levi on the train, which Mikasa (unfortunately) had noticed and nudged me back into the conversation with her. But I couldn’t help myself. I had kept an eye out for Levi all day. In the station, as I walked around campus, at lunch, but I hadn’t see him. I know, fundamentally, that I probably wouldn’t have recognised him even if I had. I didn’t know what he was wearing. But I saw no undercuts, no special jackets, nothing even remotely similar to Levi’s identifiers all day.

 

My stomach butterflies had increased all day, however were now currently residing at an all time high as I stood outside the little café he had told us to meet at. It was small, had taken me a few minutes to find it. But from what I could see from the outside, it looked lovely.

 

I idly scroll through Instagram as I wait for him to arrive, glad that I got there early. I do, however, keep flicking my eyes up over the frames of my glasses every few seconds.

 

 You know, just trying to see any tell-tale signs of Levi approaching.

 

Levi’s identifiers include:

 

Dark hair, parted in the middle. Undercut, that shows his ears. Frames his face nicely. Muscular body. Like he owns a gym membership and uses it. Short, but not unpleasantly. I like height difference. His jacket. Leather, white ink illustrations. Turtle neck?

 

That’s when his identifiers become less and less reliant. I can’t just base my knowledge on recognising him on what he’s wearing. People change their clothes, unfortunately.  But at least at university people just dress how they want. Unlike places with uniforms. That always makes it so much harder.

 

I’m in the middle of reliving a rather cringe worthy memory that involves my first job and prosopagnosia when I hear the voice approaching.

 

“You’re early.” It says and I look up. Greeted by the leather, drawn on jacket and a smirk that makes my heart rate rocket and my stomach back flip.

For a moment, I’m lost for words. Both because, it’s finally happening, and all my nerves and anxiety for the moment has come crashing into my all at once.

 

Fucking say something.

 

“You’re late.” I manage, swallowing as I quickly move my eyes around every other part of Levi first before moving to his face. He’s wearing ripped jeans, same boots as last time too, but no turtle neck. Just a simple black shirt is today’s outfit choice, and I’m not going to lie; it looks fucking good.

 

“Actually,” He starts, coming up to me. “If you checked the time, you’d see I’m right on time.” I raise my eyebrow at the comment, and with a smirk pull out my phone to check the clock against his claims.

 

4:00pm.

 

“Smart arse.”

 

“Hello to you too, brat.” Levi smirks. I take this moment to really go over his face, taking in the slight turn of his mouth. The face that I will forget the moment I turn and look at the door. The moment I blink. “Come on.” He nods to the door himself, turning away from me before I can. But I know he’s aware of me searching his whole face like that. He saw me, became aware and now probably feels self-conscious as hell, whereas I just feel guilty.

 

I follow him through the door into the warm café. The little bell above the door jingles and everyone’s gaze flickers over for a second before going back to what they’re doing.

 

“Levi!” The girl at the till suddenly starts up and I, once again, follow Levi to the counter, taking it all in. She’s obviously a friend, and a quick glance over her appearance, I decide I don’t know her. Even though she’s giving me a soft, welcoming smile like we’ve been friends for years.

 

“Hi, Petra.” Levi answers, further relaxing me. I’ve never heard the name before. Okay, I’m okay.

 

Petra’s smile furthers however as she wipes her hands on her apron and goes to the till.

 

“What can I get you both?” She asks. I have a sneeky suspicion that her smile is this wide because of me. Me being with Levi anyway, which means perhaps he doesn’t bring a lot of people here for dates.

 

“Black coffee for me, thanks Petra. What would you like, Eren?” Levi says, turning to look at me a moment, though my eyes stay glanced at the menu above them. I feel the burning of his gaze and decide I really fucking like the way he says my name.

 

“Um,” I start, “I’ll have the mango smoothie please.” I say with a smile and turn back just in time to see Levi’s roll of the eyes. “What?”

“Mango smoothie? Are you six years old?” He asks, the amusement is in his voice though so he’s joking around.

 

“Well, I don’t like the taste of coffee.” I try defend, but this gets a snort out of him.

 

“You actually are six. Alright then, black coffee and a mango smoothie please, Petra.” The smirks still there.

 

“Do you want me to pay?” I ask, trying to be polite. It basically smacks the smirk off his face.

 

“Fuck off. It’s fine, I asked you so I pay.” He insists, already getting out his card, about to tap it on the machine. Petra offers me another smile.

 

“Don’t worry. Don’t mention money around Levi, he’ll insist on paying for everything.” She giggles, nodding to Levi that the payment went through.

 

“Don’t mention money, then you go mention it?” Levi deadpans to her, Petra just shrugs happily.

 

“How about you two go sit down, I’ll bring your order over in a minute.” She says happily, and I once again follow Levi as he nods and heads to a table near the window. Away from everyone, which I’m thankful about.

 

“She’s literally only bringing them over so she can snoop into our conversation again.” Levi says as he sits down, the amusements back, which I’m pleased about.

 

I take my own seat, fluffing my hair just a little more- not that it needs the help. God, honestly Levi is perfect already, everything about him unique and interesting and fuck- I’m so nervous.

 

“Friends, eh? Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.” I say, smirking a little myself. My stomachs doing flips and I have to kneed my hands into my jeans to stop the nervous fidgeting.

 

Levi shrugs, taking off his jacket. “I think I could probably live without them to be honest.”

 

“Petra seems nice though. Did I sense a little bit of something between you both, there?” I asked, the nervous churning of my stomach entering more into panic as I pray there wasn’t something between him and Petra. He was softer with her than he seemed to be with me or the girl from yesterday. I guess I’m getting a bit too caught up in the fact that I hoped this non-date could become something else.

 

I really like Levi. Fuck. Already.

 

“Hmm? Oh, no. I guess there used to be, but that was pre-accepting my life as a raging homosexual.” He says, smirking at him. “She was many dicks ago now.”  

 

“What a romantic way to put it.” I laugh. “You have such a way with words, Levi. I hope you’re studying creative writing.”

 

“Oh, I tried to apply. They just told me I was too fucking great at it already. There was nothing more they could teach me, and they were shitting themselves that I would write too many instant classics.” He jokes. “Not fair on the other students.”

 

“Of course! I can definitely see why they would think that.” I snort, shaking my head. “High schoolers will be studying you instead of Shakespeare from now on.”

 

“Thou consumeth fiery shafts in a most wondrous number.” Levi says suddenly and I honest to God almost choke. I can’t hold back my laughs, it turns a few heads and I see out of the corner of my eye Petra turning from the counter, grinning herself. She’s probably pleased this is going well.

 

“Jesus Christ-“ I cough, managing to recover myself to glance up at Levi. His mouth is slightly turned up into a small smile and I instantly flush. It’s probably the most beautiful sight I’ve seen in- well- forever.

 

“You have a cute laugh.” He says. Forever the bluntest. It makes my cheeks fire up even hotter.

 

“I-“ I start, splutter and change the subject. “Petra seems nice. And that girl you were with yesterday. Though maybe a little- um,”

 

“Batshit crazy?” Levi attempts.

 

“Yeah.” I laugh. “Something like that.”

 

“That’s Hanji. Honest to God I almost murdered her the moment we got outside. I don’t even know what she was thinking.”

 

“Nor Armin. I’ve never seen him like that.” I reply, unable to hold back the giggle. Fuck- giggling. Now I’m not only six years old but also a girl. Though my cheeks burn up, I glance at Levi and see his expression soften an the corners of his mouth lift into a slight smile too. I guess that makes my cheeks burn harder really.

 

“Him and Hanji should meet up sometime.” Levi chuckles.

 

“I think that would trigger some sort of apocalypse.”

 

“True. I’m just glad I manage to get out before the librarian killed us all.” He adds, shaking his head at the memory.

 

Honest to God, even the way he shakes his fucking head is perfect.

 

“Lucky you. Me and Armin got banned from the library. He says it was worth it, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the poor guy so crushed.”

 

“Fuck. Like for the whole semester?” Levi snorts, but there is a hint of concern. “Can they even do that? Isn’t it like detrimental to your studies or some shit like that?”

 

“I guess they can. It’s cool though, I’m just going to ask someone else to get out any books I need.” I explain, already enjoying this. It’s so nice to talk to him properly, and after waiting hours that felt like weeks to be able to do this, I’m really fucking enjoying myself. 

 

Levi just felt so easy to talk to. It’s calming. He’s one of those people that makes me forget everything I ever needed to worry about with a simple conversation that fundamentally has no productive value to it other than just getting to know each other.

 

It takes five minutes of conversation for me to forget all about university, about missing Ma, about Dad’s stress and Mikasa’s annoying clinginess. I forget about the dream, about the prosopagnosia. It was just me and Levi right now, and it felt like bliss.

 

“Makes senses. So, what do you study?” Levi asks, cocking his head in curiousness as he did. “Though if you say something like Medicine and you need the library all the time, I’ll fucking march over there right now and get them to lift the ban. Arseholes.”

 

I can’t help but chuckle at his grumbling. “No, no don’t worry. As much as my father would love me to be taking Medicine right now, I don’t. I study Geography.” I tell him proudly, which earns another chuckle out of him. Not in a mocking way- thank fuck, I think I would have ended it there and then if it had been.

 

“You seem to be enjoying it.” He says softly. His hands are on the table, I choose to look at these now instead of his face. Mainly to hide the embarrassment, I think. “I guess your father’s in the medical profession then?” Levi questions, I only shrug.

 

“Yeah. One of the head doctors up a Sina Hospital, and although it’s like ‘yeah well done’, I don’t want to follow in his footsteps with that one.”

 

“Fair enough to be honest. I wouldn’t want to do Medicine either. Too many bodily fluids and germs.” Levi says and it tickles me the way his nose wrinkles a little at the thought. He continues past it though. “What do you want to do with it after this hellhole?”

 

“Um- I’m thinking teaching,” I tell him, “like a high school Geography teacher.” Though I’m pretty aware this is most likely going to stay a dream forever. High school and prosopagnosia never really went together anyway, and I have this doubt that being a teacher would only make the problem worse instead of better. I guess seating plans would be helpful but there’s always this part of me just reminding me it’s unrealistic.

 

I like to build barriers for myself to avoid disappointment.

 

Levi’s chuckle sounds again, and I flick my eyes up from this hands just to catch the end of it. Though it makes my heart flutter again. “Aren’t they meant to be fat, balding, middle aged men?” He says.

 

I give him a teasing roll of my eyes but can’t help the laugh. “Well, you never know what the future might hold for me.” I reply. “So, now we’re on this subject, what about you? What do you study and what do you want to do with it?” I ask curiously. Though I’m pretty convinced I’ll know the answer. Art; maybe fine art, or illustration or something along those lines.

 

“I study textiles.” Okay, so I didn’t know the answer.

 

My eyebrows raise in surprise, but I’m not going to lie, I’m strangely attracted to the idea. Levi’s hands- now I think about it- are thin and I can’t help but imagine him sitting there sewing with them. Fuck me. “Don’t look so surprised about the idea, brat. Dunno what I want to do though. Maybe a tailor or costume design or some shit. I don’t really know. I’m mostly just doing it because I enjoy it.” He shrugs.

 

“I think that’s a good enough reason to do anything.” I point out, honestly. “And both those career plans sound so interesting. What about your parents? Do they have anything to say on the matter? Parents usually do even if they’re all supportive and shit.” I ask, with a small smirk but it pretty much instantly drops. A flicker of something I recognise flashes across Levi and I know he definitely doesn’t want to  talk about parents. The reason why, I don’t know. But I also don’t want to press on and find out.

 

“They both don’t really have much to say on the matter for their own reasons.” Is all he says  and I leave it at that. I’m actually grateful that we’re interrupted a moment later by Petra coming over with two drinks and a smile.

 

“One black coffee, one mango smoothie and a slice of chocolate cake on the house.” Petra grins at us both- honestly her smile is contagious because I smile not only at the fact we’ve just got free chocolate cake, but at her in general.

 

“On the house? You sure the boss is going to be okay with that?” Levi asks her, the smirks back. Bless God and all things sacred for Petra, I already love her.

 

“I texted Erwin and his dad says it’s fine.” She said happily, giving a nod to the cake. “Eat it up, boys, it doesn’t happen often. Have fun.” She grins before turning to head back to the counter.

 

“Thank you.” I call to her before she fully leaves, then turn back to the cake. One piece of cake, two forks- smooth, Petra, real smooth. “I guess it’s not just one of your friends trying to set us up then.” I tease, giving Levi a grin. My stomachs flipping widely again at this situation, my cheeks burning as he hands me a fork and picks one up for himself.

 

“I guess not.” 

 

Fuck- he should be illegal. I feel like I’m on fire again so take a drink of mango smoothie to try put it out.

 

“So, I’m guessing that girl you were on the train with isn’t your girlfriend?” Levi asks after another brief pause where he starts, chews and swallows the first piece of cake. I almost choke on my smoothie.

 

“Fuck- fuck no.” I insist, unable to hold back the laugh. “That’s my sister. I wouldn’t have agreed to this if she had been my girlfriend; what do you take me for?” I chuckle.

 

Levi rolls his eyes again, before his eyebrow flicks up. “I said don’t push it with the whole date thing. Maybe this isn’t what you think it is.” He suggests, leaning back ever so slightly and I move my gaze back up to his face to see the slight blush.

 

“Or maybe it is?” Fuck me- but don’t fuck me- but fuck me, he’s attractive. I’m having another moment with him, and I really hope he’s having one too.

 

“Or maybe it is.” Is all he gives me. “So, your sister? Not much of a family resemblance.” He chuckles.

 

“She’s adopted.” I say, giving a small shrug. Unfortunately, this happens a lot; Mikasa getting mistaken for my girlfriend.

 

“Oh.” He says, giving a nod. “That’s sweet of your parents to do that. Are you both adopted or?”

 

“Nah, just Mikasa. My parents took her in after her and her family were taken into the hospital. My dad was working that night and he used to take me in all the time back then so I was there when they came in. Her biological parents had been hurt pretty bad, I think her dad was into some shit and they were attacked when they were walking back home.” I explain, a little worried this might be kind of heavy for a first date but I’m also thinking that perhaps Levi’s interested expression is showing that he doesn’t really mind.

 

“Shit. The world’s fucking awful.” He says, his mouth pulling into a little frown.

 

 “Yeah.” I agree and I really do. It is awful. “Neither made it, but I sat with her while the doctors were with it. I don’t think she let go of my hand the entire night. When they didn’t make it, my dad couldn’t leave so he offered to let her stay at ours until they spoke to social services.”

 

“And she never left?” Levi predicted, which I nod too, giving a small laugh.

 

“Exactly. Ma fell in love, Mikasa wouldn’t leave my side and Dad was already too emotionally involved. He couldn’t say goodbye either.” He chuckled.

 

The raven’s expression softens again, but he obviously can’t help teasing even in a serious conversation. “Like a puppy, how cute.”

 

I snort. “Yeah, like a really annoying puppy.”

 

“Well, good. I’m pleased she’s not your girlfriend.” Levi smirks and I return it.

 

“Ew girls.”

 

“Ew girls indeed.”

 

 Yeah, Levi, I’m single- get the hint, come one, you want more than one coffee?

 

But instead of getting the hint and asking further there’s an awkward moment of silence. At least I find it awkward, Levi seems perfectly comfortable taking a few sips of his coffee, so I decide to fill it again.

 

“So, how did you find out about this place? It’s cute, and it does good mango smoothies.” I say with a grin, thankful that the drink arrived as it’s given me something else to fiddle with other than my own hands. I swirl the straw round, pushing the contents of the cup one way and then the other as we talk.

 

Levi nods over to Petra. “Erwin, who Petra mentioned, his parents run it this place. They’re nice and it’s pretty good deal because he basically hires anyone Erwin’s friendly with so it’s an easy place to find work if you need it.” He explains.

 

“Oh wow, really?” I smile. “That’s so cute. So, I guess you work here too? Your day off?”

 

“Fuck no. Not any more anyway. I used to but got too annoyed at fucking morons coming in ordering mango-fucking-smoothies.” He teases. I know we’re not really at that point, but I give him a teasing glare of ‘shut the fuck up’. Levi chuckles. “I work in a bar now across campus. I’m much more suited to the night shifts. You should come in sometime when I’m  working, I’d get you a drink on me.” He says and that’s enough to make me once again aware of my heart. Was that more than one coffee? Did he do it?

 

“Sounds a bit like you’re asking me on another date.” I try, but definitely tailor my voice to mask the seriousness and paint it as a joke. I like to think he’s doing the same with his smirk.

 

“Like fuck it did, brat.” He retorts, “but if you’re so desperate for one, I promise, when you come to the bar and get a drink while I’m on shift…I’ll take you for another when I’m off work.” Levi finishes, his expression expectant as he waits for my answer. He gets me with a deeper blush before he can get an actual answer.

 

Oh fuck.

 

Kill me. Kill me now. Sweet lord have mercy. Actually- no, wait until after my second non-date-date and my first actual-date-date with Levi, then kill me because fuck I’d die a happy man.

 

“I-“ I start, already tripping over my tongue. I’m already confused really how well Levi can turn me into jelly. It’s been two days, I know barely anything about him- yet here I am burning up with embarrassment like I’m the cast member of some stupid ass Disney film.

 

“You don’t have to if you’d rather not.” He points out, trying to hide his own embarrassment by drinking his coffee.

 

Don’t fuck this up, Eren Jaeger-

 

“No- no- I mean yes to going getting a proper drink, no to I didn’t mean to make you think that I didn’t want to.” I say, shaking my head.  Oh sweet lord- I actually just shouldn’t be allowed to go outside. That’s definitely the answer.

 

“Okay,” Levi says, giving a small chuckle, “calm down, brat. Sounds good.” He swings a little in his seat and ducks to get to the bags he’s brought with him. Pulling out a piece of paper, he rips it in half and begins to write something onto the page. His hand writing is neat, controlled and perfect. Unlike my scrawl, that the classic drunk spider in an ink bottle kind of writing.

 

We’re so opposite. He’s right handed, I’m left. He’s neat, I’m wild. He’s perfect, I’ve got a broken brain.

 

“Here.” He hands me the piece of paper once he’s finished. I take it, glancing down at the numbers in front of me. “It’s my phone number. You can let me know when you want to come get that drink.” He smirks, and my whole body reacts to the paper. My fingers tingle, my heart does its thing again. Fuck-

 

“Thanks.” I say, just a little bit dumbfounded at the whole situation to be honest. I have Levi’s number. This is going well. 

 

“No problem.” He says in reply, giving me another one of his small smiles and moves his gaze too. It’s actually nice to know that I’m not the only one that’s so embarrassed by this situation, however it also does concern me because if Levi- who already seems like someone so able to hide emotions and more apathetic than anything- is showing this, I must look a fucking mess.

 

“I-“ I start again, about to start asking him another question about something that was probably mundane, but the bell of the café jingles again and the air is cut with a shrill squeal again. It makes me jump a little. The tables suddenly under attack, and specifically there are arms around my shoulders, a mop of brown hair pressing into my cheek.

 

“Eren!” My name is called, which once again instantly starts the panic. I have no fucking clue who this is, but they know me. I’ve not even had an opportunity to see their whole body let alone their face. I panic slightly, attempting to push them away.

 

“Get the fuck off him, shitty glasses. Can’t you see he doesn’t want you all over him.” I hear Levi snap, and put two and two together in the fact that he obviously knows them, not me. Shitty glasses. Okay, so the only people I know who know both me and Levi right now are Armin, Mikasa, Petra and Hanji. The power of deduction strikes again. It’s Hanji.

 

“But he’s just so darn cute! You’re both cute.” She sings, giggling before pulling back although my struggling has lessened know I know who it is. “So~ how’s it going?” She questions, cocking her head with a bounce that makes some of her hair fall out from behind her ear.

 

“Fucking fantastic, now go away.” Levi’s voice is deadpan, his expression like it was when we were back on the train. If looks could kill kind of look. Hanji pouts a little.

 

“Aww, but Levi, don’t be so mean. I just came to say hello.”

 

“Hello. Goodbye.” Levi retorts. I honestly can’t help it, but I laugh.

 

“You’re like an old married couple.” I tease, and receive a wide grin from Hanji and a death glare from Levi.

 

“Fucking hell.” Levi.

 

“Ooo! Let’s get married, Levi!” Hanji.

 

“You’re gay. I’m gay. It’s never going to work out.” He tells her and I just grin wider at them both as Hanji shrugs.

 

“True, but marriage of convenience. It’d be very rewarding.” She proposes.

 

“The only reward marrying you would bring me is a fast pass to jail when I inventively end up there for killing you. Now will you actually please fuck off?”

 

“Okay, okay, I’m going. I came to see Petra anyway. Smell you both later.” She says, sticking her tongue out at him but as she turns she gives me a wink. Yeah, she knows, I know and Levi know that she really came here eighty percent to spy on our date, twenty percent to see Petra. But I watch her until she’s behind the counter again, has given Petra a quick ‘hello’ kiss and is talking to her.

 

Probably about us.

 

I sigh and pull out my phone to check the time.

 

5:32pm.

 

“Shit.” I curse, looking up at him after that. “It’s half five.” I know Dad’s back late tonight, but still. The trains become less and less reliant as the evening turns into night, and I would much rather not be stranded and have to ask him for a lift after work. I know he would pick me up, but still.

 

“Balls.” Levi says, checking his own and sighing. “We should probably head off soon. I’ve got to get home.” To which I nod at too.

 

“The next trains in ten minutes. We can probably make it if we walk fast.”

 

“Sure.” Levi sits up slightly more to free his jacket from behind him and slips it. I forgot to ask him about it, but I make a mental note to question him next time. Now that there definitely will be a next time.

 

He stands up and I follow, grabbing my bag and brushing a few chocolate cake crumbs off my legs. Levi rolls his eyes at that.

 

“You literally are six.” He mumbles.

 

“You two going already?” Hanji call out but Levi ignores her, which I’m about to say something about but his hand finds it’s way to the small of my back and the heat of his palm makes something wake up inside me. He’s leading me outside gently with his hand.

 

Hanji calls again but my ears are ringing with the sound of my own heart beat and the jingle of the bell as we leave.

 

I literally take a massive intake of breath as soon as we get out of the small café to stop myself floating off into the atmosphere, my cheeks burning. But he says nothing about the hand or the cheeks, or the grin that’s plastered across my face and we walk to the train station together, just talking.

 

Simple conversation just seemed to flow between us.

 

 I laughed, he smiled lightly. We both joked and teased, but it was perfect. My heart, however, never stops it’s irregular racing and my stomach never stops churning. Especially when he takes my hand in his. Our fingers fit together so perfectly, but it’s light. Tentative, like he doesn’t know if he should and to be honest, I don’t either. But I don’t pull it back. I take his back lightly too, and we just hold hands while we walk and get on the train.

 

I find out that Levi’s stop is one or two after mine. He lives in Sina too but in an apartment further away, so I wait until the voice over announces we’re approaching my stop to tell him, chewing my lip a little.

 

“This is my stop.” I sigh. I knew today could be turned into a good day, and I definitely haven’t been disappointed with it. I’m just not so sure I want it to end just yet.

 

“Oh.” Levi replies, giving a nod. “Okay, need me to walk you home or anything?” He asks, and I know he’s not being creepy or anything. Gentlemanly.

 

“Ah no, don’t worry. I’m a big boy, I can look after myself.” I chuckle, which he gives a half snort in reply.

 

“Sure, with those weedy arms.” He teases, poking my non-existent muscle. I give him the  look. “Sorry, sorry. I need to get home anyway, my sister will be hungry.” He sighs, but I, instead, raise an eyebrow. This is yet another conversation topic we’re yet to discuss.

 

“You have a sister?”

 

“Stop- you’re going to miss your fucking stop, idiot.” Levi scolds, though his expression soon clears up again. “You should text me sometime.” He says.

 

Then he pauses and looks up at me, his eyes meeting mine. I pause, feel the request for eye contact and make it. We lock like that for a moment and I contemplate doing something, saying something. Anything, but we’re having a moment. This one is only silent.

 

He moves first. I don’t really process what’s going on until it’s over, but he leans up. I would have smirked at him having to go onto tip toes, perhaps would have helped him even by bending down if I had realised what he was trying to do. But he seems to manage well enough. He places his lips against mine, and for a fleeting moment kisses me.   

 

His lips are soft. He tastes like coffee but smells like man and it fills my nostrils. Gives me fucking wings.

 

Then it’s over. I realise my eyes have been closed so I open them when he pulls back, his feet going back flat on the ground again. A smirk has replaced my place on his lips.

 

“I’m going to teach you how to do that better.” He says, amused, and once again with about as much subtly as a bulldozer.

 

“I-“ I can only stutter, cheeks aflame, heart a flutter.

 

“Text me.” He says again, turning as his hands make it back into his pockets. My hand is lonely without his but he nodes to the train doors. It’s only then I notice it’s come to a stop and I quickly have to grab my bag from the floor and my heart from cloud nine and make a bee line to the door.

 

“Bye Levi!” I say as I hop onto the platform, turning back just as the doors begin to close and the train starts up again. “Thank you-“

 

The doors close. Levi’s face vanishes from my mind the second he’s out of view. I can remember he’s got grey eyes, but I can’t see them. I can’t build his face in my mind even though I’ve been trying to lock it into my mind all day.

 

Although his face is gone, I know his number is still in my pocket. He’s not completely out of reach and I manage to wait until I’d get home at least, until I’d taken my shoes off at least, and gotten into my room before I texted Levi.

 

To: LEVI [6:47pm]

 

Hey! its eren here…hope your sister hasn’t died of starvation! Have a good rest of your night

 

From: LEVI [6:52pm]

 

Don’t worry. She’s still very much alive and bugging me.  Have a good night too.

 

I can’t help but smile at the text. I can basically hear his voice through his text already.

 

Though, unfortunately, I still can’t get rid of the nagging feeling of annoyance. As much as I try and try to bring it up in my mind, his face is gone. It's just the constant damper on what has been a pretty good day.

Chapter Text

 

Three days go way too fast when you're doing fuck all and I really don't know why. My midweek day off university is gone with a blink, though that might have had more to do with the fact that as Mikasa was in, I took the opportunity to sleep in. Till three. 

 

My second day ended up being another day filled with nothing as I got to university only to discover my lecturer was sick and cancelled the day. Nice of them to let us know by email, but of course that would have been too practical. 

 

Day three was spent once again at home, finding any excuse I could to not do my work. I’d managed it actually, and spent the time binge watching Dexter without Mikasa.

 

Another three days of the wonderful life of Eren Jaeger were down the drain and the only productive thing I to show for them was an ever-growing text conversation between me and Levi. 

 

I haven't seen him since our non-date-date but I'd been using that number that he gave me to make sure that he wasn’t doing any work too. We seemed to enjoy distracting each other. I can’t lie; he might have been most of the reason why I slept in till three that day. Of course, after staying up till four texting him. 

 

I’d been learning a lot about him, however.

 

Mundane stuff like how he didn’t like the taste of cheese and enjoyed romantic comedies. How he four tattoos; a large back piece, his neck one, and the other two on his arms. He refused to tell me what they were over text, though, and I- of course- joked about having to see them for myself one day.

 

It was all going very well.

 

I had learnt about his sister. She’s sixteen years old and lives with him. She apparently goes to the same high school that I used to, and is thinking about coming to our university when she’s old enough.

 

He lives reasonably close to me, only another two stops on the same train that we get to university. The area he says he lives in though is a nice one, expensive too so I’m assuming he still lives with his parents like me and Mikasa. I still haven’t plucked up enough courage to ask about his parents again, but considering the reaction I got on the date, I think this is probably a wise way to go. I keep off the topic, but from what I can tell, he’s close to his sister.

 

I’ve learnt a lot about Levi just through texting, but there’s obviously lots of things I still don’t know about him. Same goes for me, I guess.

 

It’s not been constant back and forth all the time, and Levi seems like the type to disappear off and text back three hours later like there wasn’t a break. I don’t mind though. I’m a slave to the buzz of my phone now, instantly checking it whenever it comes to life.

 

I’m at that point now when I’m disappointed if it says anything other than ‘New Message: Levi’ on the screen.  I don’t know whether I want to admit it, but I’m falling for him pretty damn hard, and having his number has relaxed me a little. It’s like I’m not going to magically loose him by never seeing him again. He’s there, he’s in reach.

 

I’m in university today, currently walking back from the library with Connie, Sasha and Armin as we’ve had to use them as the sneaks to get our books returned on time. The library ban doesn’t seem to be a full semester thing, but although I can’t recognise the librarian from that day, she sure recognises us.

 

“You literally have to come to my party.” Connie’s whining about this again, claiming it’s so important to him that I’m there, and to be honest, I’m having a hard time saying no to these three. They all want to go and all want me there.

 

I hum in repose as we walk through campus. It’s sunny today, and for the first time in a long time it’s warm. Winter wardrobes have been swapped to more summery clothes and I have to take a moment to try remember shirts from months ago to help me remember who everyone is. Luckily Connie and Armin are easy, and Sasha is easy at the moment too.

 

“I don’t think I have too.” I try arguing. It obviously doesn’t work though, Connie’s not one to take ‘no’ for an answer. He jumps a head a little, turning round quickly to walk backwards, his eyes wide at me.

 

“You  do! It’s life or death!” He claims, both me and Sasha snort at the same time. Her’s comes hand in and with more giggling however, whereas mine is a little more sarcastic and is served with an eyeroll. “Don’t laugh,” Connie continues, “this isn’t just physical but also social death. Everyone’s coming to my party.” He says happily.

 

“This guy is having a party,” Sasha suddenly yells at a group of girls walking past, pointing at Connie with a wide grin, “you’re all invited!”

 

“See! Everyone.” Connie chuckles, not minding the random invitation.

 

I’m not sure his neighbours will feel the same way, however. 

 

“Everyone’s not everyone without me.” I point out, giving him a grin and a wink. I honest to God hate whenever this party comes up. It’s not like I haven’t been to them before, I just learn every single time I do go why alcohol and face blindness don’t go together. I’m disorientated enough without adding alcohol to the mix.

 

Last time, I couldn’t recognise Mikasa and had grabbed some random girl who also had black, bobbed hair. She had screamed, thinking I was going to do something  to her. She hadn’t known me, and honestly, it had been a mistake. I had been drunk and tired and had wanted to go home. At least I could blame the alcohol for my mistakes though. I couldn’t exactly say that I had thought she was my sister though.

 

I managed to escape before she freaked out too much and proceeded to have a panic attack on their front lawn. Mikasa had eventually found me, sobering up quickly and we headed home together. But, to be perfectly honest, I’m not in a rush to repeat the experience, or risk something worse happening next time.

 

“You’re so boring.” Connie whines, dragging me out of the memory and bringing me back to reality.

 

“Whatever.”

 

“If it’s the alcohol, you don’t have to drink.” Armin suggests. God bless him, he tries. The thing was, the alcohol makes it worse, sure, but it’s not like there still isn’t a problem with out it.

 

“I’ll think about it.” I reply.

 

“You could invite your man.” Sasha says suddenly, practically squealing at the idea. The news of the library incident and my non-date-date has passed through our friend group quickly. Most had been happy for me and interested to see how the date had gone. The only one who hadn’t had been Jean, who made a comment about how he was surprised that it had finally happened until Marco congratulated me and his story changed.

 

“He’s not my man.” I point out, rolling my eyes. As much as I wanted him to be more, Levi and I were still just friends.

 

Simple as that at the moment.

 

“Oo, even so.” Connie beams, sounding almost as bad as Sasha. “You so should! And tell him to invite his friends too.”

 

“I don’t know if Levi would really want to.”

 

“Wouldn’t hurt to ask, though.”  Armin added. I know he’s only saying it because he really wants to go to this damn party but he doesn’t want to go ‘alone’. Sure, he wouldn’t be alone alone, it’s Connie’s party and everyone else will be there. But me, him and Mikasa are closer and he knows as well as I do that even if Mikasa goes and I stay, she’ll probably leave earlier.

 

Not that Armin wouldn’t have a good time anyway. He’s not as uncomfortable with social situations when he’s friendly with the people there.

 

I get the look from all three of them at the same time and cave.

 

“Fine. Fine. I’ll text him and ask, see if he wants to go. If he says yes, then fine, I’ll come to your stupid party. If not, stop asking me.” I snap back. Yeah, sounds better. Leave it indirectly up to Levi. Then if he comes the party will be a million times better and I’ll spend the whole time with him. I won’t have to worry about finding someone.

 

Connie and Sasha both cheer in unison, high fiving each other and basically acting like they’ve just single handily won every gold medal the Olympics can offer.

 

“Armin, it’s up to you now to get that guys number and make sure he comes too.” Connie claims and I roll my eyes as Armin nods happily.

 

“Definitely.” He says, grinning himself.

 

“I hate you all.” I joke, a smile covering my own lips. I’m not going to lie to myself, I’m secretly pleased now. I did want to go to this stupid party, but with the possibility of Levi going too, it makes me actually excited for it.

 

Connie starts shouting for another ten minutes about how I don’t actually hate them and it’s love I’m feeling, before Armin and I part ways with them both. They both have a lecture whereas me and Armin are currently trying to find a replacement stop for us to do our work outside of the library.

 

 I’m too afraid to use the café Levi took me too despite it being close and a having free wifi. But right now, I’m too embarrassed to return without him in case I meet Petra again. She had been in uniform and I honestly don’t trust myself enough to know if I would be able to recognise her again if I returned. So we end up heading to the predictable Starbucks to get some work done before my train.

 

“So, give me some more details then.” Armin says after a few moments silences and I know instantly that he’s referring to the date. He’s already asked me today about how it went in general, but luckily he’s refrained from properly talking about it in front of Sasha and Connie. Probably to protect me from the embarrassment of having to give them both the details too and have them never shut up about them.

 

I can’t hold back the smile though, even if I tried. Just thinking about the date does that. Thinking about Levi to be honest.

 

“God sake,” I smirk, blushing a little at the subject. It’s not like I’m not going to tell him though. “Well, as you know we had coffee. He did, anyway, I had a smoothie.” I tell him and Armin rolls his eyes, grinning widely despite it still.

 

“Of course you did.” He teases.

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“That you can’t even act like an adult for five minutes.” Armin laughs. “What kind of coffee did he have?”

 

“Black.”

 

“You see.” The blond claims and even I can’t help but laugh at that. “He’s obviously more mature than you.”

 

“Did we really need to psychoanalyse his coffee choice to know that, though?” I point out.

 

“Guess not.” Armin shrugs, still humoured by the whole situation. “So, tell me,  did you kiss him?” He asks. There it is. The million dollar question I know he’s being dying to ask. Mikasa asked the same one three night when I had gotten home. It’s obvious that for once they hadn’t been texting each other the details behind my back and Armin hadn’t wanted to ask this over text. He had wanted to see my face.

 

But I hadn’t been able hold back from telling Mikasa and I couldn’t now. My smile turned into a full on grin.

 

“Maybe.” I say.

 

“Maybe?”

 

“Yes.” I can’t help myself. The memory of it- Levi actually fucking kissed me. Even three days later, I’m getting so excited by the idea. Armin gives a happy squeal much like Sasha’s from before and bumps my arm happily. 

 

“That’s so good! Holy shit- you’ve kissed him. Was he good?” Armin asks and I can’t help but chuckle along with my nod.

 

“Yeah. Perfect.”

 

“That’s so cute.” Armin giggles.

 

“Yeah.” I say happily again. “We’ve been texting tonnes so it’s not like I scared him off either.” I chuckle.

 

“Well definitely ask him to that party then. It’d be so nice if he could come and his friends. I could see you too sneaking off upstairs for a bit of a make out session.” Armin laughs at the idea, and I’m not going to lie, it makes my stomach flip a little. Makes me want to go to the party even more. The possibility of being alone with Levi like that, upstairs in someone’s room like some scene from a TV show. Making out with the world of possibilities in front of us. It makes me a little bit giddy.

 

“I’ll ask him and see what he says. I’m not making any promises though. We’ve only been on one date.” I point out, mostly to myself to be honest. I don’t want my hopes to get up too high and them to be crushed when Levi decides he doesn’t like me anyway.

 

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Hopefully – oh shit.” Armin cuts off midsentence but the swearing is enough to turn my head. Armin doesn’t swear often.

 

“Wha-“ I start, confused as I follow his gaze forward to a group walking towards us. Armin’s gaze darts to the floor, obviously trying to walk past without drawing too much attention to himself.

 

I don’t know who they are and I don’t know what they have to do with Armin, but I frown.

 

It doesn’t take long, however, for me to get the full picture.

 

"Oi faggot." One of the guys who are sauntering over call. Their comment is directed at Armin, who instinctively curls in on himself a little, trying to make himself as small and invisible as possible. I know the feeling but I don’t want Armin to feel it. That's enough to get my blood to boil. "Suck much cock lately." He continues and his friends laugh.

 

 

“Of course he has. Bet he probably pays people to let him.” One of the friends snorts.

 

“Probably. I wouldn’t touch it.” The original guy goes and I don’t hold back. Fuck that. Armin’s my friend, I hate that they’re talking about him like that.

 

"Fuck off would you." I snap and all their heads turn to me. Fuck.

 

"Jaeger," shit they know me. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. They know me and obviously I don't have a fucking clue who they are. They literally all look the same to me, and my eyes can’t move fast enough to get all their identifiers and piece them together. They have the same build, same hair colour- or at least with in shades of each other- nothing unique, nothing distinguishing. 

 

Fuck.

 

For a moment I freeze. I'm fucking glad I freeze with a face of anger carved into my features and not the fear I'm feeling, because I feel the panic raising in my stomach. I don’t know these people and I can’t even rely on identifers. I literally am surrounded at a group of people I obviously have a relationship with but to me, they’re strangers.  For a second, it's exactly like my dream. A group of identical people, closing in, angry that I don't know who they are. For a second, it’s exactly like I’m back at the hospital. A group of identical doctors, of people claiming to be family, where I once again have no idea which name belongs to which face.

 

“Honestly I don’t know why you even hang out with this cocksucker.” Te guy said. My hand itches. I want to fucking smack him one.

 

“Maybe because he’s my best friend.” I try sarcastically, but I can honestly feel the anger rising with in me like an animal.

 

“That’s so gay.” One of the group snorts.

 

"Look, Jaeger,” Stop saying my name, I don’t even know you. “How about you calm down and don’t try come between this?” The main one says and I grit my teeth.

 

“How about you fuck off?” I reply. Like fuck I’m just going to abandon Armin with this lot.

 

“You always want to be centre of attention, act the hero and shit but this has nothing to do with you." 

 

Wrong, I think, it has everything to do with me and I would very much rather disappear off into the crowd never to be seen again than be centre of attention. 

 

"No I don't." I grind out. “I’m just trying to protect my friend from a total wank stain.”

 

"Always acting like you're better than everyone around you." Wrong again, I try and act normal. "Well you're not. You're worse, especially after defending this faggot. " 

 

"Wait," says one of the others, a grin crossing over his face. For a moment I consider perhaps he’s telling them to wait and stop this, but to my disappointment he continues. "Jaeger, weren't you seen with some guy yesterday?" 

 

"Oh yeah," another says, "saw him holding hands with some other fucking fag." 

 

"You mean Jaegers one too?" The original speaks up, the rest nod. He laughs loudly. “This is fucking hilarious.”

 

"I didn't realise it was a fucking secret." I snap back, not giving a shit who saw. Especially not these arseholes. 

 

"So,  I guess you're probably butt fucking this runt too.” He nods to Armin, who I kind of wish would just run right now. I can take these pricks on and I hate to see him nervously standing there. Every word hurting him more and more. Good thing I’ve got thick skin.

 

When neither of us answer one of the guys laughs. “Oh is the secret out on that one?" He smirks. "Probably an easy fuck, but I doubt he's any good-" he pokes Armin.

 

“Of course he’s not. Have you seen him?”

 

"Don't you fucking dare touch him." I snap, my anger rising further at the poke. Fuck them.

 

"Or what?" He asked, raising an eyebrow like it's a challenge. 

 

"Eren, just leave it, okay. Let’s just-" Armin tries, but I watch as this pricks hand comes and is suddenly placed on Armin’s shoulder. 

 

It's not done roughly. It's not done aggressively but it's a personal attack to me and although half my brain is telling me that he did it softly so any CCTV with capture a seemingly unprovoked attack if I do something, I can't help myself. 

 

“Oh dear. My hand slipped.” He smirks, eyebrow raised. His expression is a challenge.

 

I take it. I see red. Like I used to all the time in high school. 

 

My brain is already going through what I’m going to say to my Dad: It’s not my fault, they provoked me, they were attacking Armin. All viable options.

 

My blood reaches boiling point and over flows. My hand reacts faster than my brain, my fist swings and smashes this fucking prick straight in the jaw. He's howling in pain, and although my hand is burning, I grin.

 

Armin practically screams and this idiot’s backing dancers jump into play after a moment of shock too. 

 

"I said don't fucking touch him." I repeat trough gritted teeth. Fuck I'm angry. 

 

A fist comes swinging at me from the side and I see it only in enough time to step to the side slightly. I’m not going to pretend; I’m not the world’s best fighter. I have no story like you see in the movies; my Dad never decided to take me to a boxing ring after I got into fights in school. He chose behaviour therapy instead. I never became a black belt in judo or anything like that, but I had got into enough fights at school to not just let myself be beat to the ground instantly.

 

Rule number one of fighting: don’t let yourself be beat to the ground. Ever.

 

I, luckily, manage to stay standing as I swing at the three guys who I’m brawling with. Armin’s yelling at me to stop and telling them to leave me alone, I ignore him aware neither party is going to stop until we’re all satisfied. I’ve broken my nose, blood is gushing from it but the adrenaline is enough to keep my moving and keep hand (that’s also fucked) hitting back. Armin’s yells have faded into the background and all I see is the rage, so deep set in me that it’s actually making me feel sick.

 

I’m angry at them. Angry at the whole world, but especially them.

 

“Eren!” I hear my name being called again and at first I’m thinking it’s Armin again, telling me once again to stop. But then my attacker is shoved off me before another punch hits my face and the  other’s take a step back. We’re all panting. All bloodied and all fuming.

 

“What the fuck?” One of the guys say, wiping his nose on the back of his hand. I don’t know which one he is. I don’t know who said what, I just know I want to break this guy’s fucking hand for what him and his friends said to Armin.

 

I’m too furious to search for identifiers for this guy either. He’s a lot shorter than these guys are though, that’s all I know.

 

“Move a side, shrimpy. I don’t want to hurt you, it’s Jaeger I’m after.” The enemy warns this new guy. I’m so confused and lost, driven only by anger right now.  I’m losing where Armin is and spend just a second to try find his blond hair in the group.

 

I can pretty much feel the air chill around us at the name calling. It freezes even rage filled me, and that takes a lot. When the new guy talks, it’s as icy as the air.

 

“You want to try that again?” He says warningly, and although I can only see the back of this guys head- undercut.

 

Levi?

 

“I-“ The other guy starts, and for the first time during this whole encounter is rendered speechless. A smirk crosses my face as I try (and fail) to imagine what kind of expression he must be giving them right now. A classic if-looks-could-kill.

 

“Move aside. What’s one more fag-“ The braver of the three says, his fist coming up to collide with Levi’s face instead of mine this time, and I jump into a reaction but Levi’s already retaliating. He’s a much better fighter than me, and the guy ends up on his arse, curling into a punch to the stomach.

 

“What’s one more broken rib.” Levi spits, turning and nods for me to follow him. I almost choose to stay to give a few more choice attacks to these three, but Armin scampers after Levi and I follow reluctantly. My breathings evening a little more and without the adrenaline of being in the moment, the pain from the hits and especially my nose is taking over my mind.

 

We walk a little distance before Levi stops again, making sure that they didn’t follow us or anything. His face is stony; I can tell he’s also pissed off but I can’t tell if it’s directed at them or at me for him having to save me from a brawl. Not that he had to save me, I had everything under control.

 

“What in the ever-loving fuck was that about?” He asks, cocking his head at me.

 

“They were being homophobic shits. I was just teaching them a lesson.” I reply. I’m aware I’m going to have to make my story better for when I tell Mikasa and Dad about this. Both are going to kick off the moment they see my face, and there was no hiding this or the blood that’s dripped down my face onto my shirt.

 

Levi just hums at that really. At least it’s a viable reason to him. Good. He doesn’t say anything else, and I thank God that his expression softens after a moment.

 

“You’re bleeding.” He says softly. I lift my hand up to my face, tentatively touch my nose and flitch slightly.

 

“Bollocks.”

 

“Bollocks indeed.” Levi frowns, but it soon becomes a look of disgust as I make the mistake of using my sleeve to try and wipe some of the blood up. “Stop- that’s disgusting.” He huffs, coming to snatch my hand away from my face. Despite the pain, I can still feel the tingles of fire where his skin touches mine. A long, exasperated breath leaves Levi’s lips.

 

The same pair of lips I only three days ago was kissing. Focus, Eren.

 

His own fingers come up to my face, gently lingering around it. His finger tips ghost my cheek, inspecting the damage before he pulls back.

 

“Are you hurt?” He turns to Armin, checking with him first. Armin shakes his head. “Okay, I’m going to go help Eren clean up. Will you be okay from here or do you need us to walk you anywhere?” He continues, it calms me down a bit more to know that someone as nice as Levi is now looking out for Armin too.

 

“I’ll be okay.” Armin says, still visibly shaken but he also gives me the eyebrows referring to Levi’s lingering hands. It makes me blush but I think I’m okay. The blood kind of distracts from my flushed cheeks.

 

“Okay.” Levi agrees, moving to take my hand again and fuck, I honestly almost die there and then. He’s so not tentative about any of this stuff. We’re not even a couple but still. He’s unafraid of who will see, uncaring what people will think, it’s just me and him and honestly it’s so refreshing. I answer Armin’s look with one of my own as Levi starts to lead me carefully away.

 

“Try keep your head down, I’ll take you to my studio.” I hear Levi say and give a little ‘mhm’ in response. It’s not bleeding as much anymore, I’m pleased it seems to be stopping, but I still must look a state to be honest. The gazes of people we pass can be felt without looking as Levi leads the way through campus to the building we need.

 

He uses his ID, scanning it against and pushing the door open before leading me to the elevator. It takes two minutes for it to come and arrive on the fourth floor where the Textile studios seem to be based. It takes another two minutes to have me seated at his desk and for Levi to take out his little first aid kit on his desk.

 

He sits himself in front of him. I try again at mapping his face. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it but it had gone from my mind the moment I looked away. This was nice, the context less so, but still.

 

“Trust you to be a fighter.” Levi mumbles after he begins dabbing at my blood under my nose. It’s stopped bleeding now, still hurts like a bitch though. I chuckle lightly, trying to make light of the situation and shrug.

 

“I’m not really.” I attempt to defend myself. “Used to be, but not so much any more.”

 

“Clearly.”

 

“They were saying shit about Armin, Levi. I wasn’t just going to stand and let them do that.” I try again. Luckily he nods at this, his eyes locked on his task.

 

“Don’t worry. I think you did the right thing.” He says. He’s literally perfect. It makes my heart do it’s little fast beat thing again, that Levi’s not shouting at me for this. I am still pissed off at the entire world, but Levi makes it all just a little bit better.

 

“Thanks.” I say.

 

“They probably deserve worse, to be honest. Maybe you should report them.” He suggests, my faces falls a little as I shake my head.

 

“No. If I did that, I’d be the one in shit.” I point out. “My word against theirs and it’ll look like I started it so.” Levi hums again, throwing the piece of cotton wool away and getting a clean one to continue with.

 

“You’re a fucking idiot.” He says after another few moments. I can’t tell if it’s said in amusement or genuine exasperation.

 

“I know.”

 

“I don’t think you do. Reckless motherfucker.” The comment gets at me.

 

 I don’t know, maybe I’m just still irritable from the fight or maybe I’m just angry at myself. No, I’m definitely angry at myself. Levi’s helping, e’s fixing me up and helped me in the fight. He’s on my side. I still can’t help but snap at him when I should be snapping at myself.

 

I’ve disappointed him and when Mikasa finds out and especially Dad. Thinking about it literally makes me not want to go home. He’ll be pissed, but because he cares. He wants me to do well, he’ll worry after all these steps forward, I’m making a run for the start line again. He’ll look drained, disappointed in me. I’ll feel like I’ve disappointed him, disappointed Ma.

 

I don’t even want to think about what she would do if she were still here. I guess the only saving grace right now is I can’t picture the look. Just empty space.

 

“As I said, I was protecting my friend.” I say, Levi hums again.

 

“I think you need protecting instead of him.” He smirks lightly, moving to start bandaging up my hand. His touch his gentle, his expression soft, and I feel so much guilt for getting annoyed right now. He’s really not doing anything wrong.

 

The one thing that makes the world a better place is Levi, and I’m getting ticked off by it. I’m fucking awful.

 

“I don’t think I do.”

 

“Oh yeah,” he says, cleaning the cuts on my hand before wrapping it in bandages, “you had that totally under control.”

 

“I actually did.” I snap back quickly, both of our expressions darkening a little.

 

“Calm down, princess. I was just joking.” He tries, now defending himself.

 

“Well it’s not funny.” I say, his eyes flicker up to me. Taking in my expression.

 

This annoys me even more. He can see me, remember me, knows what I look like. He’s looking at me know and thinking something. He’d be able to recognise his sister if she walked in right now, his mother, his friends. He doesn’t have to worry about walking past and not recognising his best friend.

 

It’s so fucking easy for him.

 

I think this is why I totally flip at the next question.

 

“Come on Eren.” He says. His hand is still on mine, holding it sandwiched between his. “We’ll sort this for Armin. The university will be understanding when they know the full picture and you have Armin, who’s a trust worthy kid. Tell me, who were they?” Levi asks me.

 

His voice is soft, his expression follows but instead of being comforting, it twists a knife in my stomach.

 

I don’t want Levi finding out about the prosopagnosia. I don’t want anyone knowing, let alone someone who I actually like.

 

Sure it’s not deadly or contagious, it’s not like it’s a big deal. But I’m scared to admit I have a problem. Scared to face the fact that I lost my mother and it gave me face blindness and a whole lot of anxiety.

 

I’m not alone but I am. In a world full of strangers, I am and always will be alone and I’m scared of telling someone to have them lost.  I still don’t want to admit to him that I have this part of my brain that’s fucked that no matter how much I care about someone or love someone or no matter how much time I spend with someone, they will always be a stranger in a crowd.

 

They will always be no one to me.

 

“I don’t know.” I say, my voice is small and I turn away when Levi’s expression hardens.

 

“Fuck sake, Eren.” To me, it sounds like he’s already given up on me. “You don’t have to protect them. I’m on your side.” He half snaps. He sounds exasperated. It reminds me of my own father’s exhaustion with me and twists the knife further.

 

It annoys me.

 

“I’m not.” I snap back, my voice raising a little along with the anger. “Like fuck I’m trying to protect them.”

 

“Then tell me who they are. I want to see them get punished as much as you do.”

 

“I already told you I don’t fucking know, okay?” I’m shaking now, my voice loud. The anger’s back full fledged. But this time, I’m not angry at the person in front of me.

 

“They knew you.”

 

I want to say something simple like; ‘Yes, Levi. Thank you for pointing out the fucking obvious.’  Or say something kind like ‘I’m sorry’, or something honest like ‘Levi, I have prosopagnosia. Here’s what it means.

 

I want to.

 

But instead I explode.

 

“Fuck you, Levi! Just Fuck off!” His eyes widen a little before all emotion falls from his face and he just stares at me while I have my outburst. “You don’t know me. Stop poking your fucking nose in. It doesn’t matter. It’s done now. I’ve already fucked up so it doesn’t matter if I tell you who they are or not, okay? So just leave it and me alone.” I yell at him.

 

 “Eren-“ is all he says. Once again sounding exhausted. Like Dad is, and to be honest, I really don’t need another pretend parent. Disappointing Dad and now Mikasa’s enough, never mind someone else.

 

I know he’s already sick of my shit. Yeah, well, Levi, that makes two of us.

 

“Just fuck off!” I yell again, snatching my hand back from his and standing. Fuming. “Do I have to spell it out to you? Just leave me the fuck alone.” I don’t hold back from bellowing at him, full volume while I’m grabbing my rucksack from the ground and swing it onto my back.

 

I’m so pissed off. Not at him, but at me. At this whole situation.

 

I practically stomp my way to and out of the door. Levi doesn’t say anything, doesn’t call after me again, doesn’t follow me, and I don’t turn around to check if he’s tried.

Fuck him. Fuck face blindness. Fuck the world.

 

Chapter Text

EREN POV

It's basically an instant regret the moment I leave the textile studio. 

I shouldn't have shouted at Levi, I know that, he was just trying his best to help but I had ruined it. Ruined everything, like I always do. 

I'm too scared to turn back so quickly and apologise, even though that’s exactly what I want to do, so I just allow my feet to carry me forward, my stomach twisting and my heart prickling with guilt. 

It was hard to concentrate on anything other than the pain in my nose and my hand. That paired with the memory of what just happened was enough to bring tears burning to my eyes. I’ve just ruined every chance I had with Levi, he officially thinks I hate him and he probably hates me.

The idea of pulling out my phone to attempt to distract myself on the way, turns out to worsen the problem too I pretty much decide there and then that I'm not going home.

 

Ever.

 

The screen of my phone is almost completely smashed. The only saving grace is that it still turns on but the cracks run through it all; fight damage obviously didn’t have the curtesy to stay on my face then.

Thing is, it’ll need to be fixed or replaced and I already know this will become yet another reason Dad will be pissed.

I try and push those thoughts out of my head for now, and choose to send a simple text to Mikasa while walking to the train station. Just basically letting her know that I’m going home. I give her no indication that anything’s wrong, though I’m sure from the texts Armin’s already left me, she’ll find out from him anyway. I choose to ignore Armin, instead keep my head down and head straight to the train station.

Luck has apparently changed its mind with who side it’s on as my train pulls in quickly when I arrive at the station and it doesn’t take me long to get home. I’m grateful to see Dad’s car is no longer in the drive, it’s indication that he’s obviously at work, so I let myself in and head straight to my room.

I’m not hungry, I’m not even tired but I still go straight to bed.

The main thing right now is to avoiding eye contact with the photo of my parents smiling away on my wall.

It’s just a reminder that right now, they wouldn’t be smiling at me. Plus, I don’t want Ma seeing me like this.

I try my hardest to keep my thoughts off my mother as I lie on my bed. I haven’t even taken off my jacket yet, only my shoes have been removed and my bag dumped at my door.

Thoughts, however, don’t really stay away and before I know it, silent tears being to slip down my cheeks. I can’t properly sob as I wish to. Although the house is empty, the movement in my nose hurts and to be honest, I’m too exhausted from the day to start exerting energy through that.

Sometime over the next hour or so, I stop crying and fall asleep.

5:42pm.

That’s the time my phone reads when I finally wake. I’m unsure whether it was the dream that woke me, the pain in my nose or the sound of someone knocking on my bedroom door. Perhaps an amalgamation of all three.

I let out a small sigh and sit up. Slipping my coat off, I gently rub my eye although that hurts too. I don’t even know if I want to look at myself, but when the knock on the door sounds again, I decide it’s probably best to quickly assess the damage.

My hand picks up my broken phone and already I see the white bandages covering the damage on my knuckles. Curtesy of Levi.

Bring on the pang of guilt- oh there it is.

My phone reads that I have five new messages; two from Mikasa, three from Armin, zero from Levi. I ignore all of them to swipe onto my camera, taking just a moment to sigh at the face that stares back at me.

Bruised lip, my cheeks swollen, my nose looks broken. This kid looks like he’s been in a fight, it just sucks that I know that’s me. I guess there’s the saving grace of at least I’m not covered in blood anymore. Another thing I can thank Levi for.

Another knock sounds. “Eren?” My name is called from the other side of it. I’m honestly sick of hearing my name today. “You awake?” The voice calls again. I’m just thankful that I know that voice as my sisters, not my dad’s. I don’t know whether I can face him yet. Mikasa will be concerned, but actually right now, I’d take her motherly flapping over his fatherly disappointment.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m awake.” I sigh, putting my phone down and standing up.

“Can I come in?” She asks, and I grunt in reply. Not a yes, but not a no. As much as I want to hide away until all evidence of my fight today has healed, I know I can’t coop myself up here. She’ll find out eventually, like Dad will, and it’s probably best it’s sooner rather than later. Besides, Mikasa probably knows already.

The door opens slowly and a black bob pokes around the door, a stranger’s face, followed by the red scarf. Mikasa.

I try keep my face low and turned away for as long as I can manage, but my suspicions are correct as she comes straight over to my bed, sits and gently brings a finger to lift my chin to inspect the damage.

This is another reason why she’s like a mother, I guess. Mother’s have this knack of just knowing fucking everything, even when they’re not told. Some weird sixth sense. Mikasa has it too.

“You didn’t answer my texts.” She says, a frown deeply set on her face as she looks at me. I’m jealous of her as I was jealous of Levi before, but this time it tires me more than angers me. She also looks at me and knows who I am. I look on her face like this is the first time I’ve seen her. If it weren’t for the scarf, the hair, the voice that I know is her, I wouldn’t know I have any ties to the woman in front of me.

I physically feel the world just take a massive dump on my back, and it weighs a fucking tonne.

“Sorry.” I mumble. “I feel asleep.” In fairness, not a lie.

“Armin told me what happened.” She says. Go figures. Armin; smart, funny, handsome, my best friend but also the world’s worst secret keeper. When it comes to Mikasa at least.

“Yeah.” I reply, my gaze moving to my lap as I feel her eyes burning into each and every mark on my face.

“Good thing Levi was there.” She adds. Seems like Armin hadn’t held any details back, then. But I guess it’s given Levi a few more points on the board at least in Mikasa’s point of view.

“Yeah.” I repeat, really not in the mood for talking right now. Not about this anyway, I already feel bad enough about it and the mention of Levi makes me feel worse.

Mikasa frowns, narrowing her eyes a little at my nose. “I think it’s broken.” She says quietly.

I don’t hold back on my eye roll. “No shit, Sherlock.” I reply. It’s meant to be a snap, but I guess the world’s just gotten to me. It comes out a lot more defeated than I intended. Mikasa purses her lips as she looks at me.

“I think you did a good thing.” She says after a moment of silence. “Teaching those guys a lesson. I- I mean next time, maybe don’t use your fists but, the intention was still there.” She tells me, and I guess it’s a bit of relief. Both her, Levi and Armin are all on my side in this, about defending my friend anyway.

“Thanks.” I reply, and she gives a little nod.

“Can’t promise that Dad’s going to feel the same way though.” She points out, shaking her head a little- mother Mikasa coming back into the picture now. My sister had made an appearance for a few seconds there, I was owed some mothering for it.

“I know. Is he home?” I check, and let out a small sigh as she nods.

“Yeah, he just got in. I’d say maybe not tell him tonight, but you can’t exactly hide it.” She says, raising an eyebrow and nodding to my face. Yeah, yeah, thanks Mikasa. I’m aware.

“How fun.” I reply sarcastically.

“Not going to lie though, it’s kind of your fault for getting into this mess.” She says matter-of-factly. I never know if this ‘not it all’ attitude of hers is sister or mother related, though. Maybe a mixture of both. “You really need to stop being so reckless. You’re an idiot.” She says, curling her hand into a fist and making it come down on the top of my head, gently.

“I also know that.” I tell her before letting out a long breath. “I better get it over and done with.”

“Yeah.” Is all she says as I get up, stretch and walk over to my desk to get a couple of painkillers from the packet I keep in a draw. I swallow them with a mouthful of water from my bed side table and head to the door. Mikasa follows me out of the room, but instead of coming down stairs with me, she heads to her own room.

As she’s just about to shut the door, I cock my head at her, foot on the first stair.

“Not coming to watch the show?” I enquire and she gives me a small smirk. A flash of sister Mikasa.

“Nah,” she says, “but don’t worry, I’ll still be listening to the whole thing. Just from up here.” She tells me, flashing one of those shit-eating sibling smiles.

I flip her the bird and head downstairs before anything else is said.

I hear Dad in the kitchen and choose to linger in the hall way just a moment to try and prepare myself for this. I know, fundamentally, his reaction will be the result of whatever day he’s had at work, but in the end it’ll all be the same too. The only difference will be the decibel level in which he tells me how disappointed in me he is and how I should never do it again.

“Eren?” I hear him say. Damn those floor boards. Damn this house.

I take the first step into the kitchen, then the next, and all the others following it until I’m in there with him. Waiting for him to turn around.

“Hey, Dad.” I mumble, and that in itself is enough to lift his head from the takeout menu in front of him.

He looks tired. More so than usual I’d say. I know this is my father because of his hair, shoulder length. I swear it gets more grey by the day. He used to joke about dying it sometimes, now he hardly jokes at all, but I think that’s down to tiredness too. I look at his face; another face that if I didn’t look for all the other things that make this my dad, I wouldn’t know who it was. I hadn’t at the hospital all those years ago, now it just takes a few more seconds of work or a memo from my brain.

Sometimes I panic about that.

When Dad’s working late at the hospital and Mikasa’s over at her girlfriend, Annie’s, and I’m home alone; I panic about hearing noises in the night, coming downstairs and there being someone there.

A burglar? A murder? My own father? It wouldn’t matter, I wouldn’t know the difference.

If he tied his hair up, took his glasses off, everything I know would go. Sometimes I dream that this happens and two seconds later there’s a body on the floor, bloodied and unmoving. Someone I’ve stopped because I didn’t know who they were. I’ve attacked them because they ‘broke into my house’, but then glasses turn up, his hair falls from the tie keeping it off his face and my father appears from this stranger.

The stranger I’ve hurt.

I almost have to physically shake my head back to reality, and I come back to see my father slowly placing the menu down, a frown carving its way deeper onto his face.

“Eren? What the hell happened?” He asks. First comes the concern. A voice in my head tells me; lie. The rational side, the side that knows my father won’t believe me even if I did, reminds myself of this fact and I shrug instead. An attempt to brush it off and make it seem like not a big deal.

“Just some idiots at uni.” I say, which doesn’t help the frown. Not that I thought it would.

“Some idiots?” He sounds confused. “You were fighting.”

Bingo, Dad. Someone get this man a trophy.

I choose not to reply.

“Eren.” He says again sternly and I have to drag my gaze off the ground, up to meet his. Honestly, I wish I hadn’t. There’s the look, the one that pretty much sums up everything I’ve been feeling towards myself, the one I was worried about seeing all day. It’s as bad as I thought it would be, probably worse.

“I know.” Is all I can think of to say, but it’s obviously the wrong thing to say.

“Eren,” He repeats. I’m so sick of my name. “If you know, why do you keep doing this?” He asks me, and I watch him drag his hands across his face, under his glasses and through his hair. “Why?

I really don’t know what to say. Of course, there was a reason why I did all that shit today. So much I want to say. ‘They were being homophobic to Armin, Dad, they were calling him names and making him feel bad and I needed to teach them a lesson.’ Or maybe; ‘They were degrading the whole gay community, Dad, I was defending us all.’

Something. Anything to defend myself. But right now, all the self-hatred I’d been feeling since washed over me and I shrugged again.

“I don’t know.” I reply quietly.

“You don’t know? You don’t know?” He repeats, exasperated. “So you just beat the shit out of some kid today for no good reason?” He asks, and I shake my head. “So you had a reason?”

“I-“ I start. My mouth is dry, I really don’t know what to say. “I was trying-“

“We’re all trying, Eren.” He says. “We’re all trying to get over the death of your mother.” Dad, please. Don’t bring her up. Please. “But you can’t go round taking it out on other people. Eren, I thought you’d gotten over this. I thought you were past this.”

I am. I honestly am.

“I’m sorry.”

“I don’t think you are.” My father snaps. There it is, the anger. The annoyance. At least that sparks something inside me, I can work with annoyance. I can fight against anger, it’s disappointment that equals defeat with me.

“I am. Dad, honestly, I am.” I reply, defensively.

“Well it’s not like you’re doing a great job in proving it.” He says. His glasses come off, his main identifier gone and for a moment, my father disappears in front of my very eyes. I adjust and Dad’s back.

“This is my first fight in months!” I point out, my voice raising a little bit. There’s your show, Mikasa, hope you enjoy it.

“Yes, but you’re at university now, Eren. You’re meant to be growing up, not acting like a child. You’re twenty years old, for goodness sake.” He snaps back, shaking his head and rubbing the bridge of his nose.

“I-“ I try, a wave of defeat again before I decide, no. “I was defending Armin. They were having a go at him.” I claim, anger prickling at my skin. Everyone else seems to think I did the right thing, why couldn’t he just praise me for beating the crap out of those idiots?

“Honestly, Eren,” he starts, his voice doesn’t increase in volume. Unlike mine. “I don’t care. Armin’s not my child.” He says, and I frown. “What do you want? Me to congratulate you for beating up some kids for your friend?” Yes. “Well it’s not happening. My main concern is getting you through university. People are employed by the university to deal with bullies and if Armin is getting bullied then he should go and talk to someone about it. You are not there to be his guardian angel, you’re there to learn, get a degree and get a job.” Dad says bluntly and it pisses me off.

“The university would have done shit all.” I try defending.

“You can’t just go round hitting people, Eren. Even if they do or say things that are wrong. It’s not how the world works.”

“I don’t just go round hitting people-“

“Eren.” He snaps. His voice increases this time, it’s his stern dad voice and for a moment, my heart rate picks up. I see something in him that I don’t remember seeing, perhaps since Ma died. He’s angry. Really angry at me, and to be honest, I don’t know whether to hate myself for making him like this or love myself for triggering this emotional response from someone usually so unresponsive.

It’s gone in a second though and his hands are back to his face. “Please.” He says and it kills me. "Just get through university.” He says after a moment, his voice is tired. Old.

This is my fault.

“Just graduate without hitting anyone else.” Dad sighs, and puts his glasses back on his nose. I would have had to adjust again if my gaze hadn’t dropped to the floor. “Please. If not for me, but for your mother.”

Don’t pull the Ma card, please.

“She wouldn’t want you like this as much as I do.”

I know.

“I just don’t want you getting kicked out. This is important. I’m doing my best here, Eren.”

I know.

“I’m sorry.” I say and he doesn’t reply for a moment. He just looks at my face, taking in the damage and probably wondering why I’m like this, why I can’t be more like Mikasa. Just get on with things. I know she would have defended Armin too, Dad probably knows that too, but we both know she wouldn’t have returned battered and bruised.

“I’m going to order food soon.” He says after a moment, but his voice sounds as exhausted as he looks. Normally, I would have been thankful for the change of subject, but right now, I just want to leave.

“I’m not really very hungry, Dad.” I tell him and instead of arguing about how I have to eat like Ma would have, he shrugs. “I think I’m going to go to bed.” I say and turn to head out.

He lets me go. Unlike Ma would have.

 

LEVI POV

 

I try all evening to think up something to send to Eren. Just a simple text to make sure he’s alright. I’m worried about him, and although I know we’re not that close yet, I still can’t help the prickling feeling in my chest for having left the situation like that.

I should have gone after him. Apologised for pushing him and calmed him down. He was clearly still emotional from the fight and from what he had said it had sounded a lot like he was more disappointed in himself for lashing out at those people like that. Even if they definitely deserved it.

I can’t lie or pretend, I do really like Eren. I’m falling for him fast. He told me to fuck off, yes, but I know emotions were high, that people often say things they don’t mean when they’re angry and emotional. Fuck, I’ve done my fair share of lashing out, so I definitely don’t hate him for the things he said.

This is probably why I still want to contact him. I’m just stuck between a rock and a hard place right now as I don’t really know if I should wait for Eren to contact me first, risk that he could have possibly be serious in the fact that he never wanted to talk to me again. Or, whether I should just text him something. I’ve been drafting my apology all evening. Nothing’s sounded right, which is why I’m happy (for a moment at least) that my phone is the first to buzz.

From: Brat [11:08pm]

I’m sorry

His apology is blunt, I appreciate that. It means I can pretty much instantly press the little trash can on my uncharacteristically long draft apologies in my notes.

I reply.

To: Brat [11:10pm]

Apology accepted, brat. Are you okay?

I press send and wait for the reply, there’s a slight churn in my stomach with the little extra time it takes for him to reply, and am disappointed by the response I get.

From: Brat [11:16pm]

yes

From: Brat [11:17pm]

maybe

From: Brat [11:17pm]

 no

From: Brat [11:17pm]

sorry :c

I sigh, looking down at the messages that come buzzing in one after another. Figures really, I could have guessed that would have been the response. My thumbs start typing out my response when my phone buzzes again in my hand.

From: Brat [11:19pm]

can I call you?

The question takes me off guard a little bit, surprising me enough to actually raise an eyebrow. I don’t really mind though; it’s not like I’m doing anything and Isabel is in bed now. Even more surprisingly, I find myself wanting to hear his voice. Wanting to make sure he’s alright that way too.

Worry is eating away at me.

To: Brat [11:20pm]

Of course.

I reply, waiting for my phone to start buzzing with the call instead of a text. He sends another text first.

From: Brat [11:20pm]

thank you

The phone starts ringing in my hand pretty much as soon as I’ve finished reading the words. I answer it straight away and bring it to my ear.

“Eren?” I’m the first to speak, hearing nothing but silence from the other end of the phone which only increases my worry. Although I don’t know him all that well yet, I’m already convinced Eren Jaeger and silence don’t go well together. Nor does Eren Jaeger and upset. “Hey, Eren?” I start again, my voice quiet as the last thing I want to do is disturb Izzy.

“I’m really sorry, Levi.” A small voice replies, even quieter than mine. “I didn’t mean what I said before- I’m really, really sorry.”

“Hey, It’s okay, brat. I mean what I said, apology accepted.” I try, a frown pulling at the corners of my mouth. Eren doesn’t respond to what I say. “How’s the nose?” I ask.

“Shit.” He says. I can tell he’s beating himself up, to be honest, I’m also about a hundred percent convinced he needs a hug. Not that I’m very good in these situations, I don’t really know what to say or do so it’s probably best we’re doing this over the phone. Hanji’s always been better than me at the whole comforting thing.

“Did you get some ice?”

“Yeah.” He pauses. “It’s melted now though.” I almost smirk at that, the way he says it stops me though and instead my frown deepens.

“Why don’t you go get some more? It’ll help the swelling and shit.” I point out but I can almost hear him shake his head.

“I don’t want to go downstairs right now.” He says and it takes a moment but he continues. “My dad’s pissed at me.” He admits and I decide I really don’t like sad Eren. His voice suits laughing and joking over this. He just suits being happy.

“That’s shit.” I mumble, unsure really what to say. I’ve not had parents for years, the only person to be pissed at me for getting into fights is Izzy and Hanji now. I guess Erwin too, but he’s never been one to get angry. He’d either be disappointed or join in, depending on the cause.

“Yeah.”  

“You wanna talk about what happened?” I try, just offering my ear as I feel like perhaps he does want to talk about it. Maybe it’s why he’s decided to phone instead of text.

I want to get to know him better, all of him, including this part of him. Which for the most part, I don’t really know much about.

He hesitates again, probably deciding whether or not he wants to open up to an almost stranger and then continues. Although I was referring more to him yelling at me in the middle of the textiles studio when I asked, Eren seems to take the offer as talking about the fight again.

“I used to get into a lot of fights in high school.” He starts, and I listen.

I don’t know how much or how little he’s going to tell me, but I don’t want to interrupt him and end up pushing him away. “I- my mother died. Five years ago.” I bite my lip and although he can’t see, my face softens in understanding. I can empathise with him.

“Shit, Eren.” I mumble and he gives me a small hum.

“Well, after she died, I got into a lot of shit at school. I dunno why.” He does know why, part death of his mother and maybe part something else. Or a hundred percent mother death. Feelings are shitty, the world is shitty and I understand why Eren would choose to take his frustrations out on the world by getting into fights. It’s perfectly understandable. I got into a lot of shit myself, but I’m unsure whether it’s the right time to start bringing all that up with Eren now too.

“I did,” Eren continues, “and my dad got really frustrated. As I said, he works in a hospital and when he was allowed back into work after the acciedent, he ended up working a hell of a lot of the time. Even though the hospital told him he shouldn’t be over working, I think it helped him.” Eren says. I can’t really place his tone; whether he’s angry at his father for this, or whether he’s understanding. “I guess it was kind of like coping and helping people made him feel better about losing her and not being able to do anything about it.” Eren says, and I nod along with him. “I don’t blame him. We all need something to distract us sometimes. But where his was helping people, mine was beating the shit out of anyone who riled me up the wrong way.”

“As I said before, I never saw you as a fighter.” I say, giving a tiny smirk. “You look too fucking innocent.”

“I dunno- when I got to university I promised myself that kind of stuff would be behind me.  Dad was at the hospital at lot but he’d be called into the school all the time because of me getting into trouble. It stressed him tonnes and, I guess I’m just angry because-”

“You broke that promise?” I say quietly.  “To not fight again?”

“Yeah. And now Dad’s blaming himself for me going off the rails again, I know it.“ He lets out a breath that crackles the line a little. “I’m stressing him out again.”

We both take a moment to regain ourselves, him more so though. I just need a moment to formulate what I’m going to say to him right now to make him feel better. Put myself in Hanji’s shoes for a moment and think of what she would say. What she has said to me before to comfort me.

“Eren,” I start with his name, said softly, “First things first, that fight today was not you going off the rails. That was you defending your friend.” I remind him reasonably firmly.

“Yeah, but Dad doesn’t listen to that. He thinks I’m fighting for the sake of it, he’s probably waiting for the call from the university telling me I’m being kicked out right this minute.”

“I doubt it.” I reply, and try a smirk. “It’s almost fucking midnight, doubt any sane person is still at university now.” I attempt to joke. He doesn’t laugh but I hope that I get some reaction. Perhaps a tiny smile or a little flicker of light in his eyes at least. His eyes need to shine. “You’ve gone this far in university without a fight, that’s got to count for something. And, think, if you try avoid those people from today then I’m sure you can prove to him again that you’re not going back to that.”

He’s quiet for a few moments again, possibly contemplating the words.

“I’ve still disappointed him.”

I’m quick off the mark with my next comment, shaking my head- regardless of if he can see it or not.

 

“You’ve not disappointed anyone.” I try, self-conscious as hell. I’m aware I’m probably not helping. I wasn’t designed to be the comforter, not when I’m usually the one on the other side of this. “As I said, you gave those guys what they fucking deserved. Just because your Dad doesn’t see that yet doesn’t mean it’s not true. Sure, he might be angry now, but if he had heard them and seen you defend your friend then I promise he’d be proud.”

 

“You don’t know my dad.”

“True.” I say. “But I’m fucking proud.”

 

Eren doesn’t say anything for another few moments and I promise myself to keep the silence until he decides he wants to talk again. It’s obviously been a shitty day, he just needs someone there. To know there was someone at the end of the phone line, and I don’t mind being that for him.

I break my promise after about a minute. Mostly just to check he was still there and hadn’t hung up on me.

“Eren?”

“I’m sorry Levi-“

“I already said it’s okay, you don’t need to apologise.” I say.

“No. I really am. I mean for swearing at you…and shouting. You didn’t deserve that, you were trying to help.” He says and I give a small hum. Okay, sure, that I guess had been unnecessary and I appreciated the apology. But I appreciated more the fact that he hadn’t stuck by his words and didn’t want me to properly fuck off.

 “It’s okay.” I reply. “You going to tell me what it was I said? I don’t really want to make the same mistake again if I can avoid it.” I ask him, I make sure my voice is soft for him though. I don’t want him thinking I’m actually still angry at him for it because, in matter of fact, I have forgiven him.

Eren hums. “Someday…maybe.” He says and I nod. I feel that’s fair enough, to be honest.

“Okay.” I agree, not about to push him into any more information about him tonight if he didn’t want to. He had already shared the fact he had lost his mother, I think that was enough for one night. He’s been pretty honest and open already today.

There’s another little pause between us, but the silence is a little more comfortable this time. A light feeling that I might have actually helped somewhat settles over us and I sink back into the couch, listening to the faint hiss of silence on the other end of the phone. I close my eyes, trying to imagine what Eren looked like now, where he was sitting. What his hands were doing, what he was wearing, what his hair looked like.

He was honestly beautiful and I only wished we were closer to be honest. If we had been, I would have perhaps suggested him coming over, despite it being late. It wasn’t like I was tired. We could have got comfy on the couch, watched a film and instead of offering support with my words, I could have been the physical support.

I dunno why, but all I want to do right now is protect Eren from everything. From the universe, from his Dad, from his own head. The first step is probably just proving to his father that he’s grown out of that phase. It takes me just two more seconds of thinking before I come to a conclusion on how to do that too.

For a moment, I’m actually kind of excited to propose it to him too.

“Hey Eren,” I start again.

“Yeah?” He replies, and I’m pleased to hear his voice- even with the one word- sounds a lot lighter. It eggs me on.

“What would you think about me talking to Erwin’s dad?” I say, smirking lightly as I imagine the confused expression on his face.

“I’d say you can do what you want. If you’re into DILFs then go for it.” Eren replies and I can’t help but chuckle lightly, but roll my eyes. My heart rate picks up however when I hear Eren’s light laugh at his own joke.

“Fuck off,” I reply, shaking my head, “that’s not what I meant and you fucking know it. No, I mean, I could probably ask him if to consider hiring you at the café.” I say, waiting for a response. It takes a moment to get it.

“But-“ I cut him off.

“No, think about it for a fucking second.” I try. “You getting a job would show your dad that you’re trying, yeah?” I point out, he’s slow again.

“Well yeah, but-“

“See.” I reply bluntly. “And Erwin’s parents are pretty laid back, they’re nice, and as I said, hand out jobs like they’re going out of fashion to Erwin’s friends.”

“But I’m not Erwin’s friend.”

“Yeah, but I fucking am.” I retort. “Besides, his parents are fucking sops, they’ll fall in love with you the moment you walk through the fucking door.” I tell him with a scoff, happy however with the chuckle it gets from Eren’s end of the phone again.

“I doubt it. If you forget, my face isn’t exactly at its prettiest right now. I also doubt that they would want someone who has been obviously fighting to work in their café.” He tries to return again.

No way are you getting out of this one, Eren Jaeger, no fucking way.  This is perfect. And gives me an excuse to go spend time in the café again.

“They don’t care. Honestly, they’ve been putting up with my shit for however many years. Look, they’re basically like my parents too,” I admit, deciding perhaps to open up ever so slightly. Just a tiny crack of myself to him for now. “They’ve allowed me to work there through it all, so I don’t think they’ll turn you away just for a little fight. You’re fucking adorable so they’ll definitely want to use your ass as advertising.” I try teasing. Half to convince him, half to distract him from my past.

He doesn’t ask anything about it, luckily. For now anyway.

“Shut up.” I get in return for the arse comment, and I spend a moment picturing the blush now deep on his cheeks. “I still don’t know. Me and jobs- well- we don’t- we don’t really get along.” He says.

“That sounds like shit poor excuse, if you ask me. Laziness doesn’t pay the bills, Eren, dear. Laziness doesn’t prove to yourself to your father either.”

“I doubt a coffee shop would do that anyway.”

“You can’t deny it would help your cause though.” I say matter-of-factly. His pause is enough of a reply to that one. “Exactly.”

“Levi- I don’t know- really I don’t do well-“

“Look, just let me speak to them. Sort you out an interview or something. I’m not saying you’ll get anything, but at least It’s something. And hey, you’ll fucking get paid. Which means you can pay to take me out somewhere.” I suggest, hoping to push another blush onto his face. Cheer him up even more with the possibility of another date, which I really wouldn’t be adverse too.

In fact, I’d fucking love it.

“Okay. Okay, fine. But only because then I can pay next time.” He says in defeat. I allow the small smug smirk. God this fucking kid triggers too many emotions out of me. I honestly should be running in the opposite direction, but like a fucking idiot, I continue digging myself deeper into this.

Whatever this was.

“I win.” I say smugly.

“Fuck off.” Eren jokes back to me. Comparing this ‘fuck off’ to the one from this afternoon is enough to prove that this is now said in jest, amusement thick in his voice.

“I’ll talk to Erwin tomorrow for you. Suppose I should really get around to introducing you guys too.” I sigh, half reluctant to share Eren really. God- I’m so fucking soppy, it’s actually kind of sickening me.

“That would be lovely.” Eren says, his mood obviously improving with every second the conversation isn’t on the subject of his fight, his father or his mother. All of which is understandable. “I’d like to meet him. And your sister.” He adds.

“Oh God. Right, well one step at a time there.” I reply. Eren laughs and it’s honestly music to my ears. “Though Izzy would also fucking love you.” I grumble.

“I just have that effect on people.”  Eren teases.

“You like to believe. It takes more than puppy eyes and a soppy ass personality to get to me.” I lie and he sees through it. Even over the phone- damn it.

“Oh really.”

“Yes fucking really.”

“Well, that sounds like a challenge to me.”

“You and your damn challenges. It’s not, just accept it.” I tell him bluntly, but I’m not going to lie to myself about the fact that I’m enjoy every second of this, especially in the timely improvement of Eren’s mood.

“Hey, that reminded me.” Eren starts, which gets my eyebrow to raise.

“Yes?” I prompt.

“I meant to mention it earlier but- well—“

“Shit happens.” I finish and Eren gives a ‘mhmm’ in response.

“Shit happens.” He repeats. “ Well, my friend, Connie, is holding this stupid party next weeks. He’s been going on about it for weeks and keeps trying to bug me to go to it. But he said to ask you if you possibly wanted to come too.” He says. I listen to his words, but also to the slight fumbling, the nervousness in his voice. It’s fucking adorable. “He says you can bring whoever else you like, so you can ask Hanji and Petra and Erwin if you want. Fuck- even your sister if you want.” Eren laughs, it’s my turn to hum.

“I’ll think about it.” I say, slightly reluctant for a number of reasons.

  1. I know already that this party will be full of people. That’s obvious but I’m not exactly popular throughout the university. I tolerate few people and like fewer, but at least I’d be able to invite some of my own actual friends. And, bonus; Eren would be there.
  2. There will be alcohol. I know what kind of drunk I am, and with Eren there I don’t know it’s really the right time to expose that side of myself.
  3. I’m still really fucking nervous to be around Eren. The possibility of fucking shit up with him in front of all those people- I don’t know.

“Okay,” Eren says, his voice still cheerful and un-pressuring. I’m thankful for that. “Just let me know closer to the time, yeah? I’ll tell Connie to put you down as a maybe.”

“Thanks for the invite, brat.” I say softly.

“No problem.” He replies, even that makes my stomach flip a little.

“Right, it’s fucking late. You should be sleeping off some of that stupidity.” I tell him, smirking.

“Yeah, I’m taking away from your beauty sleep and trust me, you need as much of it as you can get.” He jokes back, before laughing.

“Arsehole.” I snap. “Whatever happened to respecting your elders and all that crap?”

“It went out the window when you started all your toilet humour.” He replies and I roll my eyes, still enjoying this.

“Eren, please, you shouldn’t throw your shit out the window.” I smirk.

“Oh fuck off.” He repeats but the laugh that goes with it is beautiful.

“Goodnight to you too.” I say.

“Hey, Levi?”

“Yeah?” I ask, though I could probably put money on what’s coming next.

“Sorry again, by the way.” He says quietly, and I return with a small hum. “And thank you for- well, punching him in the face too and cleaning me up. And- well just for everything.” Eren finishes. I let the small smile flicker across my lips before my expression relaxes, softens and I answer him,

“Goodnight, brat.” I say simply.

“Goodnight, Levi.”

Call ended: Eren [duration 2:13:06].

Chapter Text

EREN POV

 

I choose to keep the possibility of a job interview to myself during breakfast the next morning. 

 

The talk with Levi helped a great deal and I’m more than happy that we’re back on talking terms really.

 

Ever since Ma died, I often think of new beginnings. New year; new me. If I fail that, a new month; it’s a new slate. Fail that, there’s always the new week where I can swipe clean and start fresh. Become better person.

 

Today’s one of those days that I just want to open my eyes and tell myself, this is it. This is where I leave old me behind and become a better person. From now on I’m going to be someone Dad is proud to call his son, someone who Mikasa doesn’t have to fawn over. Perhaps then all my problems will just be wiped away too.

 

New day; new me.

 

Dad's already at work when I make it downstairs, making the morning itself a little less tense. I’m unsure of whether we’re on talking terms or not, but he’s still left us a message so that’s something. It’s simple, just telling us to not wait up for him as he’ll probably work late and rest there. I know the extra shifts are my fault again. He’s eased up a bit recently but I guess the fight triggered him right back to over working again. He would be on edgy until the marks on my face had cleared. When he wasn't so continuously reminded of my fight. 

 

I guess some things are not quite so easy to wipe away on a new day. The marks the fights left are going to haunt me for two to four weeks, but till then I’m still going to try ignore them best I could and pretend, at least, that I was better than them.

 

On the plus side, Levi’s texts were more constant than usual throughout the morning, and I wasn’t about to lie about how it makes my stomach flip and my heart flutter whenever my phone lights up with his name. Sure, he probably kept the texts coming to make sure I wasn’t getting into any trouble, but I guess I can’t blame him, and well, it works.

 

He doesn’t mention anything more about last night until past midday, except during a morning text

when he asks if my nose is still hurting. I tell him it’s fine and took a few pain killers to get my through the day, but other than that the conversation is mundane and perfect.

 

He tells me about his lecture, and I ask him what they can even lecture him on in textiles. I learn that the university is torturing him by making him write an essay on whether we live in a remix culture along with his studio work. I share with him that my course chooses it’s weapon in the form of three exams instead of coursework and also have to write an essay on the topic ‘Is migrant domestic labour a modern form of international slavery’. He tells me it sounds reverting and I can’t help but abandon my lecture to instead engage in a geography themed pun battle with Levi.

 

I honestly love talking to him, and it’s all so normal.

 

It’s when e lets me know after lunch has finished that he’s spoken to Erwin and his parents had said they wanted to meet me that the conversation becomes a little more serious. He’s officially sorted me a job interview.

 

Which I- of course- am excited about, but I guess I hadn’t expected it to happen so quickly. I can feel my anxiety peaking, but I try and keep myself calm through the rest of the day. They want me there for five, when the café itself is closed for the public and they’re shutting shop, which gives me the rest of the day to attempt to keep my cool.

 

It helps that Levi said he’d meet me at the café and as a family friend would be allowed to linger.

 

Basically, whether the Smith family loved or hated me, Levi and I would be getting the train home together again and that was enough to get my heart rate going. Particularly as last time ended with a kiss. Which, if repeated, would definitely be an improvement from how our last face to face meeting ended.

 

I head over to the café early and arrive at ten to five, giving me a few moments to mentally prepare myself outside the shop and still appear punctual. I’m not planning on letting them know I’m usually shit at being on time just yet, especially when my face was already in such a state.

 

The bell rings and I almost shit myself. Deep breath and I’m in the shop.

 

There’s already four people there, though luckily the two in uniform are opposites so already my life is made a little easier. I take a moment by the door to glance around at all of them, trying to pick out identifier’s. Levi’s easy to spot and I smile at him when we make eye contact, he’s already up and coming over to me so I make the rest of the assessment quick as I start towards him too.

 

The girl in uniform wiping tables also gives me a recognised smile, her hair the same strawberry blonde that I put to my memory of last time. This is Petra. The others I don’t know, or don’t think I know.

 

“You’re early.” Levi says with a smirk as he comes up to me. He looks a lot like the first day we met. His jacket and a turtleneck are both back, once again the tattoo on his neck is only poking out ever so slightly.

 

I nod, glancing around quickly, my nerves rising. “Yeah. Thought it was best, to be honest.” I tell him honestly, which he nods at.

 

“Probably with the state of you.” He replies. At first I think he’s talking about my bruises again, a pang of self-consciousness running through me, but I’m taken a back when- instead- his hands lift up and are in my hair. “Do you even own a comb, brat?”

 

“Wha-“ I start, but despite myself, quickly relax into the feeling of his fingers running through it. Trying to flatten it down a little. It’s nice. His hands are warm and gentle, even as his fingers snag occasional on a wannabe knot. They tangle themselves and I loose myself in his eyes for just a moment before I hear a cough from behind us and, once again, almost shit my pants.

 

“Hey love birds,” The voice starts. I don’t recognise it, nor do I recognise its owner when I turn my head reluctantly from Levi’s hands. “You two quite finished?” The guy asks but the grin on his face is enough for me to know that he too is probably just pleased with us. Even if we’re not exactly love birds, I just really fucking like him.

 

“Fuck off.” Levi replies, giving the guy a scowl.

 

“Play nice, Levi.” Petra calls over, shooting me a grin though as she heads back over to the counter. A blush finds its way to my cheeks again.

 

Oh yeah, we’re in public.

 

“I am.” Levi huffs. “He’s just being annoying as fuck.” He tries but Petra rolls her eyes like a mother.

 

“I’m only teasing.” The guy chuckles, standing from the table he was sat at and I’m a little taken a back with his height. Especially when he comes stands next to Levi and the dark haired is dwarfed by him. Not only is this guy tall but he’s broad, muscular, like Reiner but I’d probably say more so. “Hi, so you must be Eren.” He says to me, offering me a wide smile which I return with a smaller, much more nervous on.

 

“Oh- yeah, I am. Hi.” I say, quickly moving to shake the hand that’s offered to me.

 

“I’m Erwin.” The man says as he shakes my arm. “I’ve heard a lot about you.” He grins again and leans in slightly, “and you’ll be pleased to know it’s not all from Hanji this time.” He says, giving a sideways glance to Levi and then back to me.

 

It’s only implied, sure, but my stomach flips at the thought of Levi talking about me with his friends. Makes this whole thing seem a little more real. Makes me excited about the fact he might have said more than ‘my friend needs a job’ about me.

 

“Oh, really? Good things, I hope.” I smirk, also glancing over to Levi, who rolls his eyes and huffs. I don’t miss the light blush though.

 

“No.” Levi says bluntly in reply, but the light blush on his cheeks proves his lies. “All shitty.”

 

“Of course, Levi. Whatever you say.” Erwin chuckles, winking at me.

 

“I don’t think you’ve said one bad thing about Eren, Levi.” Petra chimes in, which earns a huff from Levi, but I can’t help but grin.

 

“Not really helping, Petra.” Levi says, turning away from all of us to go back to his table. I look up to Petra just as the other person in uniform pipes up from cleaning the coffee machines.

 

“I think she’s helping, just fine.” He says, chuckling at the middle finger he receives from Levi before turning to me too. “Hi Eren, I’m Gunther.” He tells me and I smile back.

 

Normally, I’d be struggling at this point. Sure, being introduced to two more people isn’t that big of a deal, but my brain likes to blow up situations like this. Today, however, I’m relatively calm for the interaction. The groups not big enough for me to worry about mixing people up and they’re all unique enough that it’s easy to tell who’s who. I mentally thank Levi for having such different friends, and send a telepathic apology to every one of my own friends I don’t find quite as easy to place as these relative strangers.

 

“Hi.” I say, returning the smile to Gunther before it, and everyone else’s gaze, returns to Levi. “I didn’t have you down as a sulker, Levi.” I  tease, considering going over to join him at the table but I choose not to. Not when I have an interview any minute and I don’t particularly want to be caught getting too comfortable.

 

“You can fuck off too, brat.” Levi snaps back, but his voice sounds softer.  

 

“Oh, Levi’s the worst at sulking.” Erwin laughs and I’m instantly interested. “He’s like a six year old girl, I swear.”

 

“Oh really?” I question, smirking. Levi’s glare can physically be felt from behind us.

 

“Fuck off, eyebrows.” He snaps but Erwin takes no notice and continues.

 

“Once he didn’t talk to Hanji for three weeks because she messed up his DVD collection.”

 

“She swapped every disc into the wrong case, it took me three fucking weeks to sort it all out again.” Levi snapped, and as much as I try, I can’t help but laugh out loud at that. “Fuck off.” Levi tells me again.

 

“That’s classic.” I snigger, trying at least somewhat to calm my amusement but Gunther and Petra are joining in the laughter so I don’t try too hard.

 

Erwin grins in agreement. “It was, and serves him right for passing out and leaving a drunk Hanji free in your flat.” He claimed, which Levi grunts at.

 

“Fucking learnt from my mistakes, don’t worry.” He grumbles. “Fucking arsehole. Bet you encouraged her.”

 

“Levi, it was my idea.” Erwin teases, beaming at him even against Levi’s threatening expression.

 

“Next time, I’ll fucking shave your eyebrows off.” He snaps. I open my mouth to say something but I’m cut off by the staff door opening before I manage it.

 

“If you’re planning on shaving his eyebrows, Levi, you better get me in on the fun.” The man who emerges says, offering us all a grin that- despite only just meeting him- I instantly recognise as being the splitting double to Erwin’s. He looks a lot like him in general, to be honest, perhaps a little less muscular and his hair line is receding slightly, but the rest of him- this is definitely Erwin’s father.

 

Just to confirm, Erwin gives an offended scoff and shakes his head. “Oi, Dad. Not you too.”

 

“About time they got a trim.” Mr Smith smirks and I continue to smile along until his gaze falls on me. My expression slips a little more towards the nervous side of the scale again, the smile weakening slightly but his is soft. I can feel him taking me in. Looking me up and down, taking in my face and probably the bruises, my hair, the way I’m dressed. Probably wondering whether I’m the right sort of person that they should be employing in a cute little café here.

 

I’m about ninety perfect sure he’s just going to say that and tell me to not waste my time, but instead he offers a hand like Erwin did. “So, you must be Eren, yes?” He asks. I take and shake the hand. I try and make it a good one, professional as I rememeber something my Dad had told me about the firmness of a hand shake being part of body language. He claims you could tell how confident, reliable and honest someone was just from their handshake, and if this is the case, Mr Smith is honestly the most confident, reliable and honest person I’d ever met.

 

“Yes, Sir.” I say, and he laughs. A hearty laugh, like Erwin’s again.

 

“Please, call me Dave. Unless you’re planning on dating my son, there’s no need to be so formal.” He says cheerfully, which I blush at and shake my head, unsure what to say really. Fortunately- or perhaps unfortunately- ‘Dave’ continues. “No. I didn’t think so. Guess Levi’s got that covered.” He teases, glancing over to Levi and shoots him a wink. Levi sees it, grumbles something and turns away.

 

I see his cheeks darken though.

 

It’s okay though, because mine are too.

 

“Right,” Mr Smith starts again after smirking at both me and Levi’s reaction. Probably about how nobody denied it. “How about we go into the back and have a chat?” He suggests, I nod again. “We’ll leave these to finish the tidying. Erwin, can you put the chairs up when Petra’s finished wiping the tables down please?” He asks.

 

“Sure thing, Dad.” Erwin replies, giving me a reassuring smile. I just hope my nervousness isn’t super obvious.

 

“Thanks. Okay, Eren, this way to the back.” He says, nodding before he leads the way. I smile in reply and quickly follow, glancing over quickly to Levi to see him give me a small smile too that sets my heart racing.

 

“Good luck, brat.” He says and I smile back at him, my stomach doing its stupid little flip before we head through the double staff only doors and into the back room.

 

It’s not very big, but super cosy too. Fits with the rest of the café I’d say and probably not your stereotypical staff room. It has two little couches, a mini fridge, a microwave. Mr Smith takes a seat on one of the couches and I come sit on the one opposite, a little awkwardly really. I think he senses this as his smile is gentle and he gives his head a little shake.

 

“Don’t worry, Eren. It’s not a proper interview or anything like that.” He says kindly. “I’m not going to be asking you the usual questions.” He tells me, which does relax me a lot actually. As I hadn’t thought this would be happening so fast, I hadn’t exactly run through any responses to questions that I could get.

 

“Oh.” I say, giving another awkward smile and glanced around before up at him again. It takes me a moment to adjust to the man in front of me and pick out the things that separate him from his son. They look so much alike.

 

“Levi seems to think you’re up to the job so I’m not too worried.” He says and I smile, I guess this is my time to sell myself.

 

“I’d like to think so. I’m free a lot of the time too and willing to take on a lot of extra shifts if the help is needed.” I say. Yeah, Dad, if I get this job, it won’t just be you taking on all that work. For a moment my thoughts flicker to Mikasa- slightly worry- before Mr Smith brings me back to reality.

 

“That’s very generous, Eren. Thank you.” He says, leaning back in the sofa. “We’re fairly relaxed here, but we’d like to think our workers are committed and enjoy the job.” He nods, and I do too but in agreement. “You’ve met Petra?” He asks.

 

“Yes.” I say. “She’s lovely.”

 

“She is. Well we have a number of part time staff here, Petra is one of them. We also have Gunther, Eld, Oluo and you’ll often find Erwin bumming around here. Zoe too for that matter.” He chuckles, shaking his head. “And I don’t need to tell you Levi.” He smirks and I blush again.

 

“Y-yeah,” I fumble a little bit. “He brought me here- um- for a coffee.” I say and watch Mr Smith’s grin spread across his whole face.

 

“Did he now?” He asks, but I know for a fact he already knows this. He gave us free cake. “Well, sometimes Levi also works a shift or two depending. He hasn’t for a while now but you never know, if you start here we might start seeing him behind the counter a bit more.” He chuckles and although I smile back, my stomach is twisting again. I really hope that would happen, it definitely wouldn’t feel like work if he did.

 

“I’m sure I could persuade him to join me and offer a hand.” I tell him but Mr Smith laughs again.

 

“Honestly, Eren. I don’t think there would be much persuading needed.” He claims but shakes his head. “No, no, I’m not here to play cupid. That’s my wife’s job. I’m too old for all that now.” He says, but I know by his expression he’s interested in what’s going on between Levi and I. Isn’t everyone?

 

“Well, if you think you can handle working here, your studies and your social life then I’d be happy to have you on the team, Eren.” Mr Smith says, successfully distracting me from thoughts of Levi.

 

“Oh, I definitely will be. Thank you, sir.” I instantly claim, a grin crossing my lips.

 

“We’ll start you on a training shift one day during the week and see how you go then work out some shifts for you. We’re lenient with when you can work, if you have an exam you forgot about we’ll be able to find someone to cover you. But obviously if you’re serious about earning then you’ll want to try grab any extra shifts you can before anyone else does.” He explains and I nod along with what he’s saying enthusiastically.

 

I’m already fucking buzzing.

 

“There’s a sheet up in here all the time and we put up any shifts during the week that aren’t already covered. You’ll have to do at least three, minimum a week but after that any over time is on you.” Mr Smith continues. “If you find that it’s not for you after the training or at any point, even, then also don’t worry. As I said, we understand.” He’s still smiling and honestly- I’m just a little taken a back. It’s been suspiciously easy to score my second job, which makes me a little suspicious. Not about Mr Smith or anything like that, but just about what life had planned for me. Nothings ever this easy.

 

“Thank you so much.” I say, hoping my gratitude would perhaps sway Life away from dealing me any shit with this.

 

“It’s not problem.” Mr Smith says with a smile kindly. “Erwin seemed to think that Levi was adamant about getting you a shot here.” He tells me, which I give a small shrug at.

 

“He speaks highly of it, I thought I’d see if I could get a shot.” I reply. Yeah, Levi’s convinced it’ll prove a point to my Dad. Which in fairness, it probably will. It feels odd to even contemplate my father being proud of me for anything really, especially after yesterday’s fight. But even I have a little glimmer of hope that, perhaps, yes, this is the answer. Being an active member of society, even if that means serving people coffee and mango smoothies.

 

“Of course. We’re not going to turn you away.” Mr Smith smirks slightly, and this is where I know he’s talking about my bruising. He’s seemed unfazed by it and up till now I’d pretty much forgotten  my face was littered in marks from yesterday. They have been noticed though.

 

I drop my gaze, a little ashamed. Even though he’s not directly mentioned them, nor said anything bad about it- on the contrary really- I still can’t help but feel the disappointment in myself.

“Everyone gets a shot, Eren.” He says kindly. “We’re not judging you for whatever happened.” I look up again, for a moment wondering if he knows. I don’t know how he would though. Unless Levi told Erwin and Erwin told his parents but it seems long winded and unlikely really. Levi didn’t seem like the gossiping type.

 

“I-“

 

 “Honestly, you’re not the only one. I’ve lost count with the amount of times Levi’s attended a shift with a black eye.” He smirks lightly before letting out a small breath.

 

I don’t answer. I don’t really know what to say, so Mr Smith shakes his head.

 

“I’m sure you gave them as good as they deserved in return.” Mr Smith quickly adds, shooting me a little wink and a smile before his hands clap on his knees and he pushes himself up.  “Right, let’s head back through. I’m sure you’re ready to go home, as I am to be honest.” He chuckles and I stand too.

 

“Thank you very much, Mr Smith.” I say honestly, completely and utterly honest. I am grateful for this. He just gives me another one of his smiles and nods to the door, beginning to lead the way.

 

“How does Wednesday sound? For your training?”

 

“Perfect.” I reply as we head back through.

 

I met back up with Levi after the talk with Mr Smith and we stay and talk to the others for a few minutes more before Mr Smith politely kicks us all out, laughing and claiming he wants to get home. I’m already in love with the Smith family and I thank Erwin’s father a million more times as we head out to get the train together.

 

Together. Me and Levi. Even though, there’s not really a me and Levi. It’s me, and then there’s Levi. Separate. We’re two separate people, separate lives that only have been linked once by our hands and ones by ours lips. We have our moments, but I’m still unsure if we’re both having them or if they’re separate too.

 

Levi doesn’t take my hand again as we walk and I’m too nervous to do it in return. We just walk, talking about what Mr Smith said and the running of the café. Just everything and absolutely nothing, which I can’t pretend I don’t absolutely love doing.

 

For all our talking, the train journey is surprisingly quiet between us. It is with the amount of people there too, but it’s comfortable. We sit next to each other, our legs touching with the occasional comment passing between us, but I mostly just relish in the feeling of being next to him and having a stress filled day slowly ending.

 

Relishing in the feeling of knowing that soon I’ll be able to roll into my bed, turn on my laptop and do nothing for a few hours.

 

It’s once again almost at my stop when Levi starts a conversation. Trust him. To be honest, part of me thinks he’s planned it out in his head.

 

“I’ve decided I’ll go to that shitty party you invited me to yesterday.” He says, turning his head to look up at me and I raise an eyebrow.

“Oh?” I cock my head a little. “Okay, cool. Connie will be please. Fuck- so will Sasha to be honest.” I chuckle. Levi hums.

 

“Yeah. I made the mistake of mentioning it to Hanji and she’s more excited than she should be, but to be fair, it’s been a while so I figured why not.” He says, shrugging. “And Isabel will be happy because she’ll be able to have Farlan round.” He grumbles a little, which tickles me a little.

 

I giggle. “I guess that isn’t what big brother Levi really wants?” I question.

 

“Not really.” He admits, before shrugging again. “But now Hanji’s got into her head, I better go. Think eyebrows might tag along too.”

 

“Great!” I say happily and Levi scoffs.

 

“Don’t sound so happy about that, shitty brat.” He nudges me with a boney elbow and- I swear I almost die- gives a small pout. Fuck- he’s adorable. He shouldn’t be adorable. He doesn’t suit adorable, or at least I wouldn’t have thought he would have. He does. He really fucking does.

 

“Oh my God- now who’s the six year old?” I laugh, which earns me another nudge and he turns his face away.

 

“Fuck off. Your stop is coming up. Go away.” Levi grumbles. Honest to God, I can’t stop grinning.

 

“Okay, okay. I’m going.” I chuckle, collecting my bag and standing up. My leg instantly misses the warmth of his.

 

The train begins to slow a bit too soon for my liking and one other woman stands, taking refuge by the door. Knowing she has control of the button, I keep my attention on Levi as the train rocks us a little. I’m standing over him, holding onto a pole to keep me from falling into him again. He’s looking up at me. My heart is going to beat out of my chest.

 

“Sorry.” He mumbles again and I shake my head.

 

“Don’t be.” I chuckle. “I think I quite like jealous Levi.” I tease, the blood rushing to my cheeks as I bend. Take control for once- and press my lips quickly against his. It’s his turn this time to have the moment of shock before his lips are pressed back and we’re kissing. Sharing another moment with this physical connection.

 

It just fucking sucks that it lasts only a few seconds, as the announcer’s voice chimes in, telling me to mind the gap as I get off the train and I have to pull myself away from him before I miss my stop.

 

It seems to always happen like this. I guess we’re just destined to be that movie couple.

 

I have to make the unfortunate correction. Never mind, we're still a non-couple.

Chapter Text

 

 

EREN POV

 

Parties are like the worst nightmare to anyone with Prosopagnosia.

Literally being crushed into a small space with a hundred plus people you’re meant to know, who all know you.

 A hundred plus drunk, easily offended, extremely talkative people.

People who have gotten dressed up for this event. Worn shirts they don’t normally wear, dresses. Worn heels so height is off. Shaved. Have done their hair or changed their make-up. Worn contacts instead of glasses.

People change so much every day, but add an event into the mix and the panic with in me rises. It’s times like this that I just tell myself it would be so much easier to tell people ‘yeah, sorry, I might get confused with you because my head was messed up in this crash I had once’.

Easy.

But it’s not.

 It’s not normal. It’s weird and honestly most of the time heart wrenchingly embarrassing. And to be honest it’s times like this that my head just tells me I’m being stupid, I’m just not trying hard enough. That I do know that’s my sister, I’m just lazy.

It’s self diagnosed.

It’s times like this that my head tells me that it’s not what I think it is and I’m actually ill. Maybe there’s something growing in my brain, or I’m missing something. Maybe I’m dying and I don’t know if I want to find out or not.

I’m scared, and places like this make me even more scared.

I guess the only saving grace about being here really is that when it’s over, it’s over. Everyone’s been talking about Connie’s party and I’m actually looking forward to hearing the last of it. Which I will now I’ve turned up. If I had chosen to stay at home instead, I would have been looking at possibly never hearing the end of it. At least, not until the next one, which the cycle would have started all over again.

But- much to Connie’s pleasure- here I am. Settled on the couch in the small student house, clinging onto the drink in my hand like it’s a life line. There’s two things that are keeping me sane right now. Keeping a full blown panic attack at bay while I get my bearing and try and memories important people.

  1. I’ve already memorized Armin. He’s not changed his height, nor his hair and I’ve seen the shirt he’s wearing before. It’s very Armin. I know that he’s stood by the wall, about two meters and five people away, talking to Erwin.
  2. Levi’s sat next to me on the couch, and his presence is surprisingly relaxing. One leg crossed over the other, a drink in one hand and the other draped across the back of the couch behind me. Like he’s properly sitting with me not just next to.

As we lived away from campus, Mikasa and I agreed to meet Levi before getting the train over to St Maria together. We then had met Armin, Erwin and finally Hanji as we got closer to Connie’s so they knew the way. It had been a nice little stroll really.

Levi and I had walked close. Talking mostly to each other and I had attempted to keep myself from staring at him too much. The shirt he’s chosen tonight shows off his arms, one of which is also covered with a sleeve of ink. It stops around his wrist, but I see this is the one that joins itself up with the one poking out of his collar. It’s fucking hot, but I try and keep my eyes in front of me. Although, all I want to do tonight is look at him.

Remember him.

Armin and Erwin had- although awkwardly- hit it off well almost instantly and their conversation had basically never slowed. Even now. I had occasionally glanced over to him to give him the knowing smirk, but Armin was engrossed in learning about Erwin and I’m convinced he was doing the opposite to me. Instead of trying not to look too intently at the other, he didn’t waste a moment looking at the ground.

Mikasa had then been left with Hanji, which didn’t seem too much of an issue as Hanji had enough conversation for the both of them.

“You okay there, brat?” The voice next to me startles me and I turn, bringing my gaze up from staring intently at the red cup between my palms.

“Hmm?” I start before giving Levi’s concerned expression a smile. “Oh, yeah.” I nod. “Sorry. Just a bit out of it.”

“I can see that.” He smirks lightly but I can still tell he’s concerned.

“Yeah.” I chuckle, trying to prove to him that I was alright. “Just not a huge fan of parties.” I admit with a shrug, dropping my gaze and blinking away the memory of his face.

Levi hums himself, sinking a little further into his seat. “I get you.” He says. “It’s been a while since I’ve been to one.” He smirks.

“Yeah, me too. Connie fucking loves them though. He likes to host every few months and drags me to them.” I tell him, which Levi nods along to but when I glance over I see the smirk still dusting his lips.

“Don’t tell Hanji that. I think she’ll start a committee and help him organise them if she knew.” He joked, though Hanji was definitely already having the time of her life.

We had only been here for an hour or so maximum and she had already downed several drinks and was trying to organise a group of people to start karaoke. I, however, was definitely not drunk enough for that just yet.

“I won’t say anything if you don’t.” I smirk.

“Of course I won’t.” He replies before lifting the drink to his lips and downing the rest. I take a moment to watch him swallow, the muscles of his throat and his jaw before following his example and doing the same. “Wanna get another?” He asks after I finish my own.

I offer him a simple shrug as he stands and offers me his hand to take. My stomach flips and I place my palm in his.

“Why not.” I say as he pulls me up. Even in the half light of Connie’s, for a split second his face is clear. Almost makes sense to me. His eyes, his nose, especially the small smile that’s found its way onto his lips again. For another second, I think I’m going to say something like that to him. Something stupid like ‘wow, you’re beautiful’ or just blurt my whole feelings out to him, ask him if we could just make it official and be more than this.

But, alas, I’m not drunk enough and reality hits me again as he turns his head to start towards the kitchen. His hand’s still in mine though. I guess that’s a plus.

I allow myself to be lead through the people, thankful that I’m attached to Levi right now as the anxiety creeps back up on me and I panic a little about losing people here. I’ve already lost Mikasa and it takes too much time to flicker through every single face, searching for identifiers in a place like this.

No.

For now, my view is strictly limited to the back of Levi’s head.

We go into the kitchen. A couple of people are also there also getting drinks, which we promptly ignore (thank you, Levi). He pours me another first, then his own. Two vodka lemonades, which I’m fine with and take with a nod of thanks when it’s offered to me.

“Were did your date go?” Levi says next to me suddenly. Although my initial reaction is to frown in confusion, I quickly realise what’s going on when the tall, muscular blonde I know as Erwin walks into the kitchen too.

He’s grinning like a fucking Cheshire cat and it’s enough to get my smiling as well, to be quite honest.

“He’s not my date.” Erwin chuckles, but he’s blushing. He’s embarrassed, and where ever Armin is I know he is too. “He’s gone to the toilet while I get drinks.” He informs us. Surprise, surprise really. I can pretty much imagine Armin using that as an excuse only to lock himself away for five minutes and have a mean freak out to himself.

Part of me wishes I was there to celebrate with him, but I stay here, not too keen on loosing Levi.

“Oh, sexy. Gone to clean his arsehole for you?” Levi smirks which earns him an elbow from both me and Erwin.

“Shut up.” Erwin replies, the grin not shifting from his face.

“Oi, that’s my friend.” I defend too, smiling equally as widely. “You two seem cute.” I say, Erwin nods in reply.

“Thanks.” He chuckles, pouring two drinks. “Do you think he likes me?” Erwin asks me, which I scoff at.

Honestly, I can’t help but laugh. “Of course he fucking does. Did you see him? He’s like captivated by your every word.” I point out, Erwin blushes a little and turns to lean against the counter with us. Sipping his drink until Armin gets back.

“I guess.”

“Fuck off, Erwin.” Levi rolls his eyes. “Literally everyone’s into you so I dunno why you’re acting so surprised.”

“That’s not true.”

“Is too.”

“Well, I dunno then, Armin’s just different. He’s really cute.” Erwin admits with a shrug.

“I promise you he likes you too, so I say tell him.” I beam.

“I’ll see. But thanks.” He grins back to me, clearly happy with the news.

Our heads are turned then, however, by a short, shaved haired boy practically bouncing into the room. Connie and what I can only assume is Sasha following behind. They’re both already steaming, which is apparent when Connie claps his hands and shoots me the finger guns.

“Eren!” He practically yells at me. “You came!”

“Yeah, I did. I’m here, alright.”

“Here and queer.” Connie beams which Sasha ends up snorting at followed by a fit of laughter.

“Does this mean you two are together?” She asks, nodding to me and Levi. We both shake our heads, me a little more vigerously as I’m instantly the colour of the rose wine on the counter.

“N-no- fuck off.” I grumble at them, though it doesn’t help as they’re both giggling away again.

“Well, my bedroom is free if any of you guys want to use it. You know for any hankie-pankie.” He wiggles his eyebrows. “Washed the sheets, tidied and everything for you just in case.”

“Yeah,” Sasha giggles. “We don’t like the idea of you two having sex, but we’ve discussed it and we’re happy for you to as long as we know it’s somewhere safe, comfortable and clean.” She continues, putting on a fake ‘parent’ tone before breaking out into another round of snorting-giggles.

“You two are fucking insane.” I tell them, rolling my eyes but end up catching their laughter.

“None of you are fucked enough!” Connie instantly announces.

Sasha gasps, wide eyes and beaming. “Let’s do shots!”

“Shots!” Connie repeats, yelling it before rushing over to the counter and getting out five shot glasses.

“Oh really- no thanks.” I attempt, shaking my head but the glass is pushed into my hand. But neither Levi or Erwin are protesting, each taking the glass too. Although Levi’s expression is almost enough of a protest in itself.

“All got one- great! Cheers-“ Connie calls, holding out his glass to Sasha, who- in ultimate cheesy style- wraps her arm around Connie’s and they both down theirs in an arm lock.

I get the shrug from Levi, who clinks his glass against mine before him and Erwin both down theirs too. I follow suit quickly after, taking it with out gagging and earning a cheer from Connie.

“I leave you alone for five minutes.” The soft British accent sounds from the door and Armin walks in, giving Erwin a smile. He stands close to him where normally he would have crossed the room to stand with me, so I choose to flash him a quick knowing look. He blushes way from it.

“Armin!” Both Sasha and Connie shout in unison.

“Second shot- this time with Armin.” Sasha announces and I almost groan. Levi does.

“Jesus Christ.” He grumbles, but his moans are ignored by the pair as they work together to collect the glasses up, get one for Armin and pour us all another.

The process is repeated again, this time- however- I have trouble swallowing against the gag, and place my glass in the sink before they have time to make us do another.

“Thanks, that’s enough for me.” I tell them, starting to head towards the kitchen door. Despite my wishes, I’m unsure if Levi’s followed me until I leave it, turn slightly and he’s right there, pushing his hair out of his face.

“They’re actually too much.”

“Yeah, I know. Trust me, I’ve dealt with them for long enough.”

“True.”

We half basically a moment to breath alone before I hear our names being bellowed from the other side of the room. At first, I’m about to yell at Sasha and Connie to fuck off and leave us alone, but as I turn, I see- although she’s brunette- it’s not Sasha. Glasses and the ‘Beware of the Humans’ t-shirt tells me this is, in fact, Hanji.

She pushes up her glasses, giving us a wide grin.

“Come on. We’re playing ring of fire.” She tells us.

“Oh God.” Levi groans but she’s grabbed his hand and is dragging him away, beckoning me too.

“Quit whining, let’s go. Come on, Eren.”

“Get off me, shitty glasses. I’m coming, you don’t need to drag me.” He huffs, but Hanji just sticks out her tongue, let’s go of his hand and leads the way.

After the game, then night progresses quickly from completely sober to slightly tipsy to full on drunk. I manage to keep my head down and get by without needing to know people’s names, just using my old tactic of talking to everyone like they were a friend even if they might not be. It got me by then and got me by now, and to be honest, I have a good night really.

Drinking, laughing and acting the fool. I allow myself to relax slightly as I make sure to constantly have Levi at my side and Armin on my other. It’s only really when the game ended were my guards put back up, and I forced myself to try sober up a little to focus.

The party began again in full swing, music blaring, people dancing, talking, drinking. Armin disappeared from my side first, off somewhere with Erwin no doubt and I struggled more and more to keep Levi in my sights. He began talking with Hanji and left my side when he said he would go get us more drinks. Innocent enough.

Though he left and didn’t come back. Time, which felt like hours, slipped by and I kept myself still in the corner where he had left me, most likely looking like a proper weirdo. Once, I thought I saw Mikasa, headed over, even began talking to her to find out it was not my sister. She just had the same hair, in the light a similar dress.

Unable to find anyone and almost desperate for a piss, I found my way to Connie’s bathroom instead. My plan: piss, then head to the kitchen which was the last place Levi was known to have been.

Thought it’s pretty much as soon as I exit the toilet, I realise my mistake really.

It seems that more people have arrived between the space of me going to the toilet and me leaving it, and I’m almost instantly swallowed up into a crowd. People pushing to get by, standing around, a couple making out against a wall. The alcohol, like predicted, is also really not helping me right now. Along with the room spinning a little, my thoughts are slurred and random and I’m loosing track of identifiers and which belongs to which really.

Trying to recognise people at the best of times is almost impossible, add all this into the mix and I feel like the walls are closing in.

Mikasa.

Armin.

Levi.

Anyone really. I need to find someone I know, someone easy to recognise. But it’s when people start calling my name and telling me to come sing I freak out. I look straight at the group of people calling my name and my first thought is: I know no one. They know me and I don’t know them.

I feel exposed, vulnerable and- although I know it’s stupid- terrified. They know me but I couldn’t tell anyone a single thing about them and I can’t catch up with my own thoughts enough to search them for identifiers.

“Eren-“ Someone calls again. I feel my heart rate picking up, my eyes are wide, everythings spinning and my ears are ringing.

“Eren, come over here.”  Another person is beckoning me over, and I just see the flash of white of their teeth.

Ignoring them, I turn away. I need air. I need to be outside, out of the crowded room. Alone. I turn and head out, pushing my way back into the hall way from the living room, keeping my head down as I make my way to the front door.

I can’t breath.

“Eren-“ I hear my name again, and there’s suddenly a hand on my shoulder. I violently twist, slapping it off and shoving whoever was on me, off.

“Get away from me.” I hear myself say. Whoever it is is clearly shocked by my reaction and is frozen in place. I can’t tell what colour hair they have in this light. Perhaps brown, perhaps black. Who knows, it’s dark and I don’t hang around to find out.

I just head straight to the door, pushing people out of my way and ignoring their ‘hey’s’ and ‘watch it’s. I make it, tear it open and stumble outside into the fresh air.

It hits me like a tonne of bricks. It’s cool, nice, a thousand times better than being stuck in the house with all those people. I can hear a small group out here with me, smoking, but none of them pay much attention to me as I stumble a little way away from them and sit down on the front lawn of Connie’s place, attempting to regulate my breathing again.

In. Out. One. Two. One. Two.

The large gulps of cold air do a good job of sobering me up as well as bringing my heart rate down to slightly more normal. My eyes are fixed onto the ground, my fingers are running through the dry grass beneath me and for the first time in the whole night, I start feeling relaxed.

I’m alone. I know me. And now I can think clearly, I can text someone. Bringing them out here, stick with them. Maybe even explain.

My eyes close and I zone out enough, still focusing on my breathing enough to not hear the footsteps approaching me. I sense the presence sit down beside me rather than hear it and when I open my eyes, turn to my left, a short, muscular guy is sitting next to me. He’s got dark hair, parted in the middle and an undercut. He’s got Levi’s hair. And Levi’s shirt. And Levi’s scent and a soft expression.

“Are you okay?” He asks, concern written into his expression. He’s clearly fucked, pretty much wasted, but he’s still gentle. Kind.

I nod. “Yeah, sorry.”

“Don’t be.” He replies, quick off the mark as he twists his body and sits next to me properly. Folding his legs underneath him. “You don’t need to be sorry all the time.” He tells me and I smirk lightly. Yeah, I’m definitely sobering up right now.

“I know.” I say, quickly calming. The outside, the grass and Levi are all doing the trick.

“Did you throw up?” He asks, and I shake my head.

“No, luckily not.”

“You were at the toilet for ages.” He says, his head coming down to lean on my shoulder. I swear I see him pouting.

I chuckle at him lightly. “Nah, I couldn’t find you again.” I say, which isn’t a lie.

“Hanji called for you. We were singing.” He tells me, which makes me feels a pang of guilt. That was Hanji.  He’s silent along with me for a moment or two, before his head picks up again and he’s looking straight at me. “I wanted to sing with you.”

I focus on his face again, allowing it to sink in while it can. “Sorry.”

Levi shakes his head, pauses, looks down then back up.

“I’m really bad with feelings and shit.” He tells me.

“Yeah, me too.” I admit, but am slightly taken a back when he shakes his head.

“No. You don’t understand.” He huffs, looking at me. “I like you.”

The world around us seems to just melt away really. I dunno, it sounds soppy as shit but even if everything that’s happened between us points to that. It’s not news. He’s kissed me, held my hand, taken me out on a date. It’s just- when he says it so bluntly, my whole body buzzes. The feelings of panic melt away and I just look at him.

“I really like you, Eren.” He repeats. I don’t know if it’s the wind or the way he says my name, but I shiver.

“I-“ I start, tripping over my own words. “I like you too, Levi.” I whisper, unable to get my voice any louder.

Levi blinks. He’s like a cat, but his gaze never wanders from mine. I don’t usually look into people’s eyes, it’s not really a habit as the face tells me nothing about a person. But with Levi, I’m forced to and surprisingly, it’s nice.

“As in, I like you like you.” He repeats. I swear, it’s like we’re in some cheesy teenage drama, because I nod and offer him a soft smile.

“I like you like you too, idiot.”

“Brat.” Levi says, his whole expression softening. He leans in then, his lips once again finding their way to mine and he gently kisses me. Even with the alcohol in his system, he’s a good kisser. Playful nips and a flick of his tongue here and there. All the right things to get my heart racing once again.

I kiss him back, feeling a hand of his in my hair. He tastes like alcohol and lemonade but smells like man and I just take him in through all of my senses, adoring it completely. I honestly don’t know how long we kiss for, I hear nothing from anywhere but us. The smokers may still be there, but it’s not like I care.

Levi likes me.

That thought alone was enough to have me smiling for days.

He pulls back before I do, moving his hand down from my hair in favour of gliding a thumb across my lips. Drying them.

“Go out with me.” He says, which kind of catches me off guard.

“I-“ I start again, allowing my brain the time to register and think of a response. Normally, I would have played cool before inevitably and completely accepting his offer. Go out with Levi; fuck yes.

But he’s drunk and there’s a part of me that worries he won’t remember our encounter in the morning. He won’t remember what was said nor our kiss. He won’t remember our moment.

I shake my head.

“I can’t.” I tell him and it kind of kills me to reject him. Especially when I’ve be been waiting for this moment. He frowns and juts his lip out into a little pout.

“But why?” Levi half whines. “You said you liked me, and I like you.”

I nod. Good point, Levi, yes, it’s true. I like you.

“So what’s the problem?” He asks, still pouting away like a five year old. I poke his lips, softening my expression.

It’s not you, Levi. Well it is but it isn’t.

“You being drunk.” I tell him, honestly.

“So?”

“So you’re drunk.” I repeat. “I don’t want you saying things you don’t mean.”

“Well I mean it.”

“I want to be sure.” I say, which gets a sigh. He stares at me again, like he’s trying to get me to cave. I don’t.

“Fine.”

“Ask me again in the morning if you really want to.” Levi considers it, probably about to argue some more, he gives me a nod.

“Okay.” He agrees. “I won’t feel any different but okay.”

I smile at him, pleased. There would be nothing worse than waking up tomorrow thinking I was honestly dating Levi to find out he remembered nothing.

“Thank you.” I say softly and gently lean into him and press my lips against his pout. He presses back again and although not for as long, we kiss again.

Eventually, I pull back again. “I don’t really feel like going back inside.” I admit and Levi shrugs, his head’s back on my shoulder again. He’s shivering slightly so I slug an arm around him, holding him.

“Shall we go home?” He asks, looking up at me slightly from his position.

“Your home or mine?” I tease but he snuggles into me. Yeah, he’s exactly like a cat.

“Mine.” Levi says bluntly.

“Yeah, but then how would I get home?” I chuckle, slightly amused by this. He’s  a clingy, adorable, stupid drunk and I honestly love it.

“Get a taxi, stupid.” He mumbles. “If you have to.”

“Okay, okay.” I smirk. “I’ll walk you home.” I sigh, knowing full well ‘walk’ would be an understatement. Luckily it wasn’t too far from the train station, but having to baby sit Levi on the night train and get him home was another story really.

“Good.” Levi nods happily into my shoulder.

“Okay, give me just a second.” I say, pulling out my phone to send a quick text to Armin and Mikasa. Basically just letting them know I was taking Levi home and asking them to tell Erwin and Hanji so neither of them were worried either. That done I slowly stand up and offer him my hand to help him up. He takes it and I end up not only holding it but mostly supporting it as we head out.

1:46 am

The journey home is almost uneventful. The trains empty except for three more equally as drunk people all travelling home. Levi seems to sober up slightly as we continue our journey and he leads me to his flat. It’s not too far from my house actually, which I already like.

It means if he is serious about dating me, well, he’s not miles away.

I can’t help but snort at Levi and his staggering. He’s so un-Levi like as he leads the way, however still gripping to me as I support him up the stairs. He’s humming, and I have no idea what it is he’s trying to sing before he starts legit singing.

“By the way,” he starts, and I think that he’s talking to me at first. “By the way-“ it’s a little louder, still out of tune. “You do things to my body, I didn’t know I was starving till I tasted you.” He sings, his hand fumbling in his pocket before pulling out his keys.

“Levi.” I say, trying to stop him. Mostly because I know how embarrassed he will be in the morning. If he remembers this at least. I’m just so fucking glad that I’m not drunk because this is gold. Usual grumpy Levi is the world’s most perfect, hilarious, adorable drunk.

“Don’t Levi me.” He says, bringing his key too unlock the door and pulls himself away from my support. Although he’s supporting himself, he’s swaying a little and struggling a little to get the key into the door. “Fuckin’ Izzy. I can’t-“ He grumbles as the key bashes the door again. I sigh and move to gently take it from his hand.

“Allow me.” I smirk, flipping it to the right way round and leave Levi for a moment to sway next to me. He’s clearly feeling the beat of every song that we’ve listened to at Connie’s however as he’s nodding his head a little. His normal expression is on his face, a deep frown but it’s paired with this and I can’t help but smirk. “There we go. Home at last.” I announce as I quietly open the flat door, kind of taken a back that this is the first time I’m going to be seeing Levi’s place.

It’s probably not the best situation really, and I feel a bit bad as Levi didn’t specifically invite me. But I wasn’t about to leave him when he was like this.

“Home at last.” He mumbles, repeating my words as he walks through the door. Well, more or less stumbles. He pauses though close to it, leaning a shoulder against the inside wall as he takes off his shoes. “Take ‘em off. I don’t want crap in my house.” He tells me, and I do as he says.

Even drunk, he’s aware of keeping everything clean.

“There you go, they’re off.” I tell him, and he looks down at them, giving my shoes a little glare.

“Put ‘em neat.” He tells me before he leaves, heading off into another room that I assume is the kitchen. I do as he says reluctantly, setting them straight in a little corner by the door. Though I doubt it would really annoy him that much to be honest. He could barely see straight let alone see if my shoes were.

I can hear him starting to sing again, this time a little louder and I roll my eyes slightly but still smirk. There are two other pairs of shoes separate to our own so Levi’s sister is definitely in and the last thing I want is him waking her up.

Following the lyrics of Hailee Stanfield’s ‘Starving’, I make it to the kitchen just in time to see Levi, leaning over the sink and chugging from a glass. Good. At least he’s had sense enough to do that. He finishes his glass as I come over to him, placing a hand on his back.

“Come on, we’ll get you to bed.” I tell him. There are three things that are going to help Levi right now; water, a bucket and sleep.

Levi, however, has other ideas with the idea of bed and places his glass down, one of his hands coming down onto my hip. His hands warm and although I know that this is just drunk Levi, my heart rate still picks up.

“You know, Eren,” He starts. For a second or two he sounds almost sober, if it wasn’t the smell of cheap wine and cigarettes that clung to him. “You do things.” He says, starting to sound drunker as he continues. I know what he’s going to say. “To my body. I didn’t-“

“Alright, Levi, bedtime.” I say, cutting him off but he pouts.

“Fuck sake Eren.” He grumbles. His hands move from my hips to pull me by my shirt into him. I’m pressing him up against the counter, my heart thumping as he’s stuck there. Between the sink and my body. Solid and pressing. “I’m trying to tell you I like you.” He says, his voice almost a growl.

Fuck- he’s doing things to my body. He’s fucking hot and I swallow back my blush. My dry throat. MY twisting stomach.

“Through the words of pop music, I love it.” I smirk. I don’t know what to do though, whether to pull back. He’s drunk, I’m tipsy, but he’s properly drunk and his hand is sliding down my back to my arse. He grabs it and I jump, pushing us together more, mostly by accident. Fuck.

His other hand comes up to my face, sliding into my hair as he’s tilting his body upwards. Trying to merge himself with me. He certainly manages it with his fingers, and soon enough he’s pulling my lips close.

“Sometimes it’s easier to use someone elses words.” He tells me, his voice low. Deep. It runs through me even though I don’t assume it’s a very sexy thing to say. He, however, is sexy.

He starts kissing me. Not the usual tentative ‘should we really be doing this’ kind of kiss that he’s been giving me the only other times we have done this, but a proper full blown kiss. His hands are kneading into my hair, his lips melting between mine. He’s a lip biter, but I couldn’t care less. It’s fucking hot. The kiss is desperate, needy and I give it back to him. I’m less experienced than him in this field and it stings my broken nose, but fuck- it’s perfect.

It’s when he squeezes my arse again and rolls his hips forward, grinding himself against me that the sober part of my mind tells me it’s time to stop. I would go on. But it’s not right really and to be honest, if anything was going to happen between me and Levi, I wouldn’t want it to be like this.

I pull my lips back from him. Levi chases them, giving another deliciously desperate roll to bring me closer. Try and tempt me back. But I lift his hand up and gently try and pull back.

“Eren-“ He whines, his face is flushed. His hair is all over the place. This face.

“Come on, Levi. I think you need to get to bed.” I tell him but he definitely doesn’t want to be put to bed just yet. He pushes himself up, rolling into my and my breath catches a little. Fuck- this was definitely not how I planned the night to go. Not that I’m complaining really.

“Stay.” He purrs, moving to kiss at my neck, pressing his body into mine and trying to get his crotch to grind against mine.

“Levi-“ I start again, feeling his teeth graze across my neck. Sending a shiver down my spine right to my clothed dick. Fuck-

This was really, really not the way that I wanted to be introduced to anyone of Levi’s family.

Hard. Grinding up against him, pushing him into the kitchen counter. Me half lifting him off the ground, Levi taking handfuls of my arse as he kept me closer.

Fuck.

The kitchen light is turned on, both me and Levi cringe at the sudden flood of light.

“Oh God!” A girl’s voice shrieks as she sees the full extent of what’s going on. I almost jump out of my skin and it takes me nothing more than that to push myself away from him, taking a step back and attempting to calm myself down.

 

I feel the life just leave me really. Any tipsiness I’ve been feeling or sex dazed mist on my brain is instantly gone and I take a risky glance over to the door to see how much damage has been done.

Levi’s only ever mentioned living with his sister and has never spoken of his parents, but I need to see if this is said sister or if I’m dealing with having to apologies for dry humping this woman’s son.

She’s short, like Levi, but other than that I can’t see any direct similarities. Of course, there might be, faces don’t make much sense to me anymore. But her hairs a rusty red, bright and messy. Unlike Levi’s styled dark undercut.

“Fuck off, Izzy.” Levi grumbles, but he too is blushing. Probably embarrassed by this situation too.

“You’re humping in the kitchen!” She claims. Fuck.

“We were…” Levi starts and fails, trailing off before he can finish his sentence. He pauses in thought before grunting at her. “It’s none of your business. Fuck off.” He tells her again.

I shake my head.

“No, no, sorry I should be going anyway.” I tell them both, so embarrassed that this is the situation.

For this moment only I wish prosopagnosia on someone else. I wish Isabel had the inability to recognise faces, solely for the purpose that if I ever met her again, she wouldn’t know who I was. Wouldn’t see me as the guy that she caught dry humping her brother at three am.

I glance up to her again, running a hand through my hair as Levi pouts.

“No,” He whines again. “Stay.” He says again, frowning. I also frown, as does Isabel to be honest. “Ignore her. She’s just cock blocking me.” He grumbles, which I widen my eyes at even more. He’s really not helping the situation to be honest.

“Sorry,” I say as I look to Isabel. This is directed at her. Completely and utterly.

 I’m sorry for bringing your brother back in such a state.

I’m sorry for starting dirty shit in your kitchen.

I’m sorry this is the first time we’ve met.

I’m just sorry.

For a moment, Isabel’s expression doesn’t change but then I see her face soften and she laughs. A smile spreads across her face; most unlike her brother.

“It’s fine.” She snorts. “I heard you guys come in. I thought he was alone, to be honest. Just came in to make sure he was alright.” She chuckled, but Levi chimes in at this point shaking his head.

“Fuck off, Izzy.” He claims again. “I don’t need lookin’ after.” He tells her and both me and his sister smirk at that one.

“Sure you don’t.” She smirks.

“Honestly Levi.” I roll my eyes. “Drink some more water, yeah?” I try softly, trying to cox him too as Isabel comes more into the kitchen, moving to perch on the work surface.

“Get down- Isabel.” Levi grumbles at her. I’m pleased to see he’s listening to me though and pouring himself another glass of water. “I make food there. You’re making it dirty.” He tells her, which honestly is comical considering what we had just been doing. Isabel seems to think so too as she grins and raises an eyebrow.

“I think you’re the one making it dirty.” She tells him, matter-of factly. Can’t argue with that one, to be honest.

“Smart ass.” Levi rolls his eyes as he turns to me. “I’m tired.”

“How about you get to bed then?” I suggest, feeling kind of guilty for just standing here awkwardly in their kitchen when Isabel had no idea who I was.

“Are you going to stay?” Levi mumbles to me, bringing himself in close again, which honestly makes me blush. Isabel is still sitting there, smirking away as she swings her legs.

“I don’t know- I don’t think-“

“Stay.” He says. “Don’t think, just stay.”

Fuck sake, Levi.

“Okay, okay. As long as your sister is okay with it too?” I ask, glancing up to her. She just shrugs and smirks.

“Makes no difference to me.” Isabel claims, hopping down off the counter. “Just, if you’re going to- um- do anything, keep it down?” She checks. We’re all blushing now, but I shake my head in reassurance.

“Don’t worry, sorry, nothing will happen.” I assure her, not about to repeat the previous experience. Although I wanted to, really desperately, I wouldn’t agree to be Levi’s boyfriend when he was drunk  so I wasn’t about to become sexual with him when drunk.

“Okay.” Isabel beams happily, giving us a little wave and turns off the kitchen light as she passes. “Sleep well.”

“Night.” Levi mumbles as he wraps his arms around me and snuggles into my chest, obviously pleased with the privacy. I am too, to be honest. But neither of us starts anything again. The moments passed.

It’s quiet for a few minutes. The sound of the clock ticking showing us the passing of time. It’s Levi who breaks the silence. “Are you really going to stay?” He asks, pulling his head up just enough to look at me.

“If you want me to.” I reply. There goes my stomach again. It does little flip when he nods.

“I want you to.”

“Then I will.”

His expression softens. “Good.”  We’re quiet again, just hugging in the middle of his family kitchen.

“Come on, lets get you to bed.” I say eventually with a little sigh, pulling back from the hug to allow us to move. He seems to consider going back in but shrugs it off for the promise of bed, and shows me the way.

The flat’s big but I can’t make much out in the darkness. I just allow him to lead me through into his room where a large double bed is the main piece of furniture. He leaves me alone in the room when he goes into the en suite to change his clothes, and emerges in joggers and a baggy shirt.

I’m offered my own pair and he orders me to change too as he clambers into his side of the bed. I do the same in his bathroom. The shirt fits, even baggy on me, however the pair of jogging pants he gives me are too short so I choose to keep my socks on.

Levi’s already asleep when I get back. I can hear his soft breathing, a relaxing soundtrack to the room. The bathroom light is switched off, and although a little bit awkwardly, I crawl in next to him. Relishing in the warmth of him, loving the feeling of having him so close, especially as he instinctively crawls up close.

His breath on my skin.

His legs intertwined with mine.

Him and me.

Chapter Text

EREN POV

 

I wake to an almost continuous muffled buzzing.

It takes me a few moments, as I blink the sleep away and try and focus on where the hell I was, to remember the extent of last night.

The main thing that springs to mind is I am currently lying in Levi’s bed. More specifically, lying next to a still sleeping Levi.

I glance over to my left. He looks so peaceful though and I can’t help but take a moment or two to just lie there with him quietly and look at him.

We’re not perfect. We haven’t slept perfectly, not like you see in films or read in books when the couple just take each other into their arms and cuddle all night. His eyes are closed, still lying on the side facing me. His mouth is hanging open slightly and a little line of drool has leaked out down his face and pooled enough to dampen the pillow below him. His hair is dishevelled but I’m already aware that it won’t be as bad as mine. Mine is always worse in the morning.

The covers are wrapped around my top half and his bottom, the evidence of a duvet battle between two idiotic teenagers who are used to sleeping in a bed alone. One of pillows from my side has been pushed out of the bed and squished itself into the space between the mattress and the bedside table.

We’re not perfect, but it doesn’t matter. We’re still here together and Levi asked me to stay. We kissed, we grinded, we spent the evening together and he asked me to stay over. That was more than enough perfection for me, really.

I try and stay lying there with him, enjoying the moment, but the buzzes continue. One after another as (from what I can tell anyway) I receive text after text. I let out a long sigh, peel the duvet out from me and give it back to Levi before reluctantly standing. A hand runs through my hair as I head over to my folded jeans and I dig out my phone. It’s continuing to light up even as I pick it up.

I have fourteen new messages, which instead of unlocking and reading, I sigh and start to scroll through them on the lock screen.

From Armin [03:21am]

Where r u r u ok???

From Armin [03:46am]

Eeeeeeren! he walked me home where r u h e took me home

From Armin [03:47am]

R u home???

From Armin [03:48am]

Erwin kissed me :ppppp

From Armin [03:50am]

LOTS! WE KISSED A LOT <3 r u ok?? R u home??

From Armin [03:55am]

Read ur message sorry sleep well xoxo

From Armin [10:04am]

HE KISSED ME

From Armin [10:04am]

LIKE ACTUALLY KISSED ME

From Armin [10:13am]

EREN!!!! WE MADE OUT IN CONNIE’S ROOM

From Armin [10:14am]

AND YOU WENT HOME WITH LEVI!!!!

From Armin [10:15am]

We both scored, eh ;) did you and Levi do anything??

From Armin [10:27am]

EREN!!! You can’t keep me hanging

From Armin [10:41am]

Okay fine, I’ll let you sleep but you have to promise to tell me EVERYTHING when you get up! P.s sorry about the texts, remind me never to drink as much again!

From Mikasa [10:52am]

Eren, are you safe? If you need picking up from Levi’s let me know. Dad’s gone to work, he said there’s food in the fridge if you feel rough. Just let me know you’re okay – your worried sister x

I sigh and resort to unlocking my phone to let them both know that I’m safe. Quite safe, tucked away in Levi’s bedroom at the moment. Though, the thought that I should probably leave dawns on me. It’s kind of embarrassing to know  that I’ve been here all night, but it’d be rude to just collect myself and leave now before Levi was up. I’m yet to know if his family were or not.

My next sigh is cut short as I hear a small groan from the bed. The tell-tale sign that Levi is waking.

“E-ren?” He grumbles my name before the bed sheets shuffle and his face is moved to push itself into the pillow. I can’t help but smirk at him, at the memories of last night. It makes me rather curious to be honest. I want to know how much he can remember. What he’s forgotten.

I stand slowly, stretching and thanking everything holy that I sobered up enough to not wake with a hangover.

Levi, however, has been less lucky.

“Good morning, Sleeping Beauty. How you feeling?” I say softly as I walk back over to the bed, purching on the side. Instead of a response I’m greeted with Levi’s middle finger. I laugh. “That good, huh?”

He gives me another inaudible grumble.

“It’s almost midday. I should probably be getting home soon.” I tell him, a little disappointed in the fact myself to be honest.

“Why?” Levi huffs, half of his face emerging from the pillow. I still can’t help but laugh at him. Even know he’s still so cat like. Perhaps just grumpier.

“Well, because I have a family to go back to. A house and a job.” I chuckle. “I can’t just stay here forever.”

“Why not?” He grumbles in response again. I roll my eyes, crossing my legs under me as I sit next to him on his bed and give his shoulder a poke. He doesn’t move.

“Because.” I say, though this is nice. He still wants me here at least. He’s not woken up and wants me out instantly. Not saying this was a mistake. Which might mean he remembers me coming home with him. Which might mean he remembers the whole night. Specifically, what he said on Connie’s front lawn.

He mumbles something and I just take a few silent moments to watch the lump that he’s making rise and fall with each of his breaths. I try to match mine with his, focusing as I did last night on the feeling of air entering and leaving my body. Just this time in sync with Levi.

When I worry that he’s fallen back asleep, I take my chances and poke The Beast again.

“’uck off.” He grumbles, instead turning his head the other way.

“Come on, get up. You’ve slept enough. You need more water and some food first and then you can go back to bed when I’ve left.” I tell him. He grunts. “Levi.” I repeat my poke.

“Fine,” He half whines. “But you’re responsible for my shitty mood.” Levi finally caves and slowly pushes himself up. I give a little giggle at him, moving to bounce my palm on his hair that’s sticking up.

I’ve lost him like this. He doesn’t look like Levi with his hair all over the place. That most wonderful part of my brain points that out to me loud and clear.

Hey, by the way, that doesn’t look like Levi any more. Yes, thanks, I know.

You sure it’s him? Well obviously it is. I’m in his room. In his house.

Well now, sure, but what if he changes his hair like that some time when you’re not in his house? What then? It won’t happen.

What if you walk right past him, he thinks you hate him and never talks to you again? He wouldn’t think that.

I mentally shake my head, focusing on how stupid it looks really. The usual neat and tidy Levi is looking rather dishevelled today.

“Look at you, need a brush?” I tease and he sends me a well practiced glower.

“Fuck off, brat. You can’t talk, you’re no better.” He pointed out, giving his head a little nod in my general direction. “Bet you don’t even own a shitty comb.”

“Oi!” I try and defend, sitting up slightly as he slowly gets off the bed. I move to follow him but he waves his hand, rolling his eyes dramatically. To be honest, he still looks half asleep.

“Calm your tits, I just need a shower and a dump. Not necessarily in that order.” He tells me oh so eloquently.

“Oh sorry.” I reply, trying once again not to laugh. He half stumbles across the semi dark room towards the en suite again.

“Don’t be.” Levi says as he pauses at the door. “You can  go see if there’s anything you want for breakfast? I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He tells me and I give him a nod.

“Okay.”

“Isabel should be up now but don’t mind her. She’s nicer than me.” He informs me and my cheeks flare up at the memory of last night. Of how me and his dear sister, Isabel, were introduced.

I nod, still flushing. “Will your parents not mind me being here?” I ask, a little awkwardly as I still have a feeling Levi’s parents are a touchy subject. He shakes his head, his expression unchanging.

“Trust me, neither will give a shit.” He tells me bluntly and heads into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

I swallow and wait just a few moments in silence to listen out in case he was throwing up or anything but it’s quiet so I get up. I quickly change out of the too-short joggers and into last night’s clothes before attempting to flatten my hair. Eventually, however, I give up as I do every morning and tentatively head out of the door.

It’s light out here now, the curtains have been opened and light floods in from two large wall length windows. From what I can see, they lead onto a small balcony which has not much on it at all. In fact, the whole main area of the flat- although huge- is minimal in furniture and decoration. There’s a living area with leather sofas, a black glass coffee table (spotless) and a large TV. A fish tank, a couple of potted plants.

The main thing that catches my eye is the piano up against one wall. Not a grand one or anything, but it’s sweet. Gives the place some character I feel, and part of me thinks the rest of the flat has been decorated around it. It’s got to be the oldest thing in there.

I leave admiring Levi’s flat for the moment and follow my past footsteps back towards the kitchen. There was voices that I recognise vaguely from last night, one at least. Levi was right, Isabel was up.

I took another moment to try and flatten my hair again. Not for any particular reason other than the fact that I wanted to make a better impression than I had last night. After I was satisfied with the effect my fingers had made in my hair, which pretty much reverted the moment my fingers left the strands, I walked slowly into the kitchen.

“Good morning.” I greeted, making my presence known as Isabel attacked a nameless man with a fork. They were both laughing and quickly turned to me when I spoke.

“Oh! Good morning!” She said cheerily, abandoning the man for a moment to come over to me and put a hand out. “I’m sorry, we didn’t really get to chat last night. I’m Isabel, Levi’s sister. It’s lovely to meet you.” She said, shaking my hand as I took it back tentatively.

“It’s nice to meet you too.” I say, giving her a smile. “I’m Eren, by the way. Sorry about everything, especially last night.” I add but she takes her hand back and waves it in front of her face.

“Oh never mind. Not going to lie, it was a little traumatizing walking in on my brother doing that in the kitchen, but you know, I’ll live so it’s fine.” She giggles happily, turning back to the hob and poked the contents of the pan.

 I continue to stand awkwardly in the middle of the room.

The man gives me a smile though, bobbing his head at me. I give him an awkward smile too, giving him a once over, trying to find any distinguishing features as I usually do when I’m introduced to someone knew.

“Hi,” He smiles, “I’m Furlan.”

“My boyfriend.” Isabel chimes in happily, shooting Furlan a smile before going back to pan.

“Oh.” I chuckle. “That’s cute. How long have you two being going out?” I ask, trying to hide my nervousness really. I don’t know what to say to them. I know little about Levi’s sister and even less about her boyfriend. They’re in high school, or at least she is, and fundamentally that was the extent of my knowledge.

“About a year.” Isabel claims proudly and I give a slightly sickening ‘aww’, now definitely unsure what to say. There’s a small pause again before she speaks again. “How’s Levi doing?” She asks, and although the question sounds sweet, I can hear the amusement in her voice.

“Pretty rough to be honest. Not going to lie, he drank rather a lot last night.” I say, chuckling myself at the memory of him.

Isabel laughs. “I could tell.”

“I honestly wish I had seen him.” Furlan adds, shaking his head as he leans against the counter Levi and I were almost going at it last night on. It makes me blush.

“Oh God, I should have recorded it for you.” Isabel sniggers.

“You didn’t see the half of it, to be honest. He was an actual mess walking home. He was singing so loudly.” I say, joining in the conversation now that I could. Talking about Levi, I had all the confidence in the world it seemed. Isabel’s face broke out into a wide smile at that statement, instantly turning to me again.

“Really?” She snorts. “I wish I’d see that- holy shit.” She giggles. Her laugh’s a lot like Sasha’s, it’s nice, the kind of laugh that you can’t help but join in with and it makes me curious to think weather Levi’s would sound similar. They don’t look alike, and from having my own sister adopted from another family I wasn’t about to assume anything, but it honestly made me want to hear it. Want to hear Levi’s laugh.

I smile at her again and nod. “You say that though, but you weren’t the one getting all the weird looks.” I point out with a smirk of my own.

“True. God, I knew he was a bad drunk but he was so- so-“

“Touchy feely?” I finish for her which she nods at.

“Exactly!” She giggles again, letting go of the fork as Furlan slowly takes it off her to continue cooking while she was distracted. I feel a little bad, but I’m also pleased that me and Levi’s sister have been able to almost start a-fresh. She didn’t seem too mentally scared by what she had caught us doing last night, which was obviously preferable.

“He’s an adorable drunk.” I say, smiling fondly. “Kind of like a ca-“

“If you finish that sentence, I will legitimately castrate you.” Levi’s voice is heard behind us and I turn quickly to give him a grin. He’s looking a little more Levi like now that his hair’s flatter, even though it’s still slightly fluffy. Wind swept from the hair drier.

“Good morning!” Isabel sang happily, clearly still amused by the idea of drunk Levi and probably currently trying to imagine that this is the same person who came home singing last night.

“You don’t have to be so goddamn cheery.” He grumbles, walking over to the kettle to check the water before flicking it on.

“Oh, someone’s grumpy.” Isabel continues to tease, but doesn’t push her luck. She clearly knows the boundaries more than someone like Hanji does.

“Fuck off.” Levi replies, before he glances my way. “Coffee?”

I shake my head, softening my expression at him a little. “No thanks.” I say, which Levi grunts at and gets himself a cup.

“I forget, you’re the weirdo that ‘doesn’t like the taste’.” He snorts as he starts making his own. I stick my tongue out, unfortunately at the exact moment that Levi looks over to me again. He smirks for the first time today and my stupid stomach flips. I’m honestly such an idiot.

“You’re literally five years old.” He tells me.

“Shut up.”

“Make me.” Levi teases. It makes me happy to see him perking up a little, but I’m once again made aware that we have company by Isabel’s snort and a light chuckle from Furlan.

“Hear that, honeybun.” Isabel giggles, going over to Furlan and putting her hands on his shoulders. She leans up and kisses his neck gentle. “They’re allowed to flirt and play the sickeningly sweet couple, so that means we are too.”

“We’re not a couple.” Both me and Levi say at the same time. It’s a little kick that Levi says it though, I dunno. It’s stupid, I know it is, but although I say it because we’re not. I worry that Levi says it because he doesn’t want to be.

I’m over thinking. He’s not mentioned anything about last night’s conversation again. It makes me kick myself for saying no and applaud myself for refusing him. Nothing would have been worse than waking up this morning, cuddling into Levi, who I thought was my boyfriend when he still knew nothing.

It still hurts that we’re still back where we started. I hate alcohol. It makes people say things they’re too scared to when they’re sober, but they go right back to being scared when they wake up.

“And besides, you’re not allowed to act like a couple because you’re my sister and it’s weird.” Levi tells them, his frown returning and he gives a little huff at Isabel’s protests.

“Least we don’t grind in the kitchen.” She says with a smirk, half hiding behind Furlan while she says it. He’s smiling a little too into the breakfast, but they both go silent when Levi snaps his head around to them.

“That’s it. I’m going back to bed.” He announces, picking up his coffee and moving to walk back out. Isabel starts her protests again, giving a pout that I instantly can pin to Levi. They look the same when they do that.

“Aww, Levi, we made breakfast for you though.” Isabel whines, covering the span of the kitchen in three strides to grab a hold of the back of Levi’s shirt. He jerks a little at her sudden grip, a little coffee splashing onto the floor.

“Izzy!” He snaps, shooting her a glare. “Careful. Hot liquids.” He points out, which makes Isabel let go but she starts up her pouting again.

“I’m sorry Levi, but- but me and Furlan made this nice breakfast for you and your boyfriend and we wanted it to be really nice and we really want you to have some.” She mumbles, her gaze set on the floor and clearly trying the ‘puppy eyes’ tactic. It doesn’t work for about ten seconds before Levi groans, rolls his eyes, and instead moves to walk over to the kitchen table.

“First off; he’s not my boyfriend. Secondly; stop with the eyes and thirdly; fine. As long as you clean up that mess on the floor.” He tells her, nodding to the coffee on the floor.

“Aye aye, Captain.” She salutes before moving to get a mop and clean it up. I’m still standing around a little aimlessly at this point, unsure what to do or where to go. Like a little lost soul, I start to feel like I’m intruding on their little breakfast time ‘thing’ that they’ve got going on. Honestly, I’m all but twiddling my thumbs at this point.

Levi seems to pick up on this and gives me a smirk.

“You okay there, brat?” He teases, leaving his drink on the table and moving to a draw to get out cutlery. I nod.

“Oh- yeah, sorry. Can I help with anything?” I ask. Ah, my mother would be proud. Finally using those manners she always liked to drill into me.

Levi shrugs a little, glancing over to both the table and to Furlan to check where they were up to in regards to the cooking progress.

“You could grab drinks? There’s apple and orange in the fridge, glasses are the cupboard next to the mugs.” He tells me and I nod in response, pleased to have been given a task actually. It’s nicer like that, I actually feel useful instead of just a burden. Someone they feel they have to feed.

We manage to get the meal on the table in a matter of minutes with us all doing something. Levi’s on laying the table, me on drinks, Isabel on dishing up and Furlan on loading the dirty pans into the dishwasher so Levi could relax. It was smooth, and the moment I was presented with my plate of food, I realised just how hungry I was.

I’ve always been a fast eater. It’s something that I’ve always been told off for doing. ‘You’re going to make yourself sick, Eren’ basically acted like a soundtrack to my childhood. I guess I had never really realised how quickly I do eat until that breakfast at Levi’s. With the same amount of food as them, I spent the first few minutes shovelling it in and the remaining half an hour slowly sipping my apple juice, talking and watching the others eat.

It was lovely actually. I felt relaxed here. A small group of people that, despite not knowing terribly well, I was surprisingly comfortable with off the bat. Isabel was sweet. She asked about my course over breakfast and Furlan asked even more about university in general. It turns out he was in the year above Isabel and was applying to university himself, however was still unsure on what course he actually wanted to take.

We joked around and shared our embarrassing Levi tales- which despite his mood improving with food, it was soon damped by that conversation starter. Of course, Isabel had far more embarrassing tales to tell than me and even then most of mine consisted of last night. I told them everything that had happened, Levi cringing and grumbling away about how embarrassed he was.

He didn’t remember much apparently. It hurt a little, but I wasn’t too upset. I had not mentioned anything about our moment together out on Connie’s lawn. He doesn’t give any indication that he remembers the panic attack or the conversation or the kisses shared so I leave him be for now. It’s my secret.

It’s about one when I collect myself together to leave.

I help them tidy up, not minding at all and thanking them all for such a lovely- well I guess- lunch. It’s helped a lot after-drinking feeling and Levi’s mood has lightened a great deal. He’s more talkative, more himself. Still a sarcastic arsehole, don’t get me wrong, but more the Levi I recognise.

Levi offers to take me home, but I refuse him. He’s not dressed properly for walking, so instead he insists on calling and paying for a taxi for me. Despite me insisting that a two stop train journey or a twenty minute walk is honestly not that bad. Instead, he walks me to the lift doors outside his flat to say his good byes. At first I assure him that I can make it that far with out him, but I soon realise that he’s wanting the door between us and his sister closed. Even if it is just for a moment.

I say my goodbyes to Isabel and Furlan, thanking them again, and then it’s just me and Levi in the corridor (though I have a slight suspicion Isabel is spying on us through the peek hole in the door).

I press the lift button, turn while I wait for it to say my goodbyes to him but am instead greeted with the sudden softness of his lips pressing into mine.

It takes me another moment to regain myself before I press back into the kiss. Tasting him and it’s honestly divine. Makes my heart race like the road runner on speed. The kiss is more heated than I think either of us had imagined it and he pulls himself back almost as quick as it had begun, a thin line of saliva connecting us for just a moment before it breaks our connection.

Levi replaces this quickly, however, with his hand on my waist.

“Eren,” He starts, panting slightly from the kiss. Me too.

“Levi.” I whisper, our faces close. It looks even more alien to me this close up, but if I stare at it, really focus myself, I see him forming in front of me. He doesn’t make sense.

“I like you.” He says bluntly and it’s enough to knock the air out of me, to be honest. Levi’s not one to beat around the bush. Right now, I don’t know if he’s staying these things because he remembers last night and what was said. Or if he’s saying them because he still feels the same regardless.

I guess it doesn’t matter, which. Levi still likes me regardless.

A grin creeps across my face.

“I like you too, Levi.” I reply, my voice still quiet. He gives the most musical little chuckle, which honestly feels like it gives my stomach wings and lets it fly right out me.

His expression softens in front of him, the lines of his frown easing. “Even after the shit I pulled last night?” He asks, moving to kiss my cheek. It’s sickeningly sweet, but I love it. I love the way I can feel his eyelashes against my skin as he does. As he slides his mouth down to my jaw, kisses me again before returning to my lips.

“Especially after last night.” I tell him, honestly. He smirks, replying first with a small hum.

“Even if I sing like a cat drowning in shit?” He continues and I can’t help but laugh at him.

“Wow, way to ruin a moment.” I tease. He chuckles again, his hand on my waist squeezing lightly.

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

“So.”

“So.”

“Eren,”

“Yes, Levi?”

“So I’ll ask you again; do you wanna make this official?” He asks, pulling back ever so slightly so he can see my face. He’s sober now, completely sober. He remembers our moment but he’s retuning our promise. Asking me again.

I love trains. Those shitty metal tubes- they brought me to him.

“What are you, five?” I reply. I can’t stop the grin though, especially at how his eyebrows raise then drop in confusion. He’s so fucking cute in such a weird, hot way. “I didn’t think people asked people that any more.” I continue, giving a giggle. I’m honestly so happy right now. “I thought people just read between the lines.”

Levi understands and rolls his eyes, poking my side instead of squeezing it.

“Fucking brat.” He says softly. “What can I say? I’m a romantic, obviously.”

“How cute.” I say, leaning into kiss his nose but he crinkles it and frowns. “But yes, I’ll be your boyfriend, you soppy shit.”

“First things first, if you’re becoming my boyfriend- don’t ever call me cute again.” He warns. I laugh again.

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry.”

“I’m serious, brat.”

Okay.” I half whine but I’m honestly smiling like a Cheshire-fucking-cat right now.

“Right. Well that’s settled.” He claims, pulling away slightly. “Now, get out my hall way. You’re making the place look untidy.”

“Oh. There it is again. The ever romantic, Levi.” I smirk, hearing the lift doors open behind me anyway and I know I have to pull away. Biting my lip for a moment, I decide that yes- one last time.

I lean in, give him one last quick kiss before sighing happily, turning and heading into the lift.

“Text me.” He says, and I nod, keeping the doors open with my hand for another moment or two.

“Will do. Thanks Isabel and Furlan again for me.”

“Fuck sake. Right, okay, I will.” He reluctantly agrees, folding his arms. I give him a wide beam that stings a little at my healing nose and take a step back. The woman announces the doors are closing.

“Hey Levi,” I call as they do.

“What?”

“You’re cute!” I yell at him as the doors close between us.

“Shitty brat!” He calls after me, but he’s muffled by the decent of the lift and the sound of my laughter waking up the whole building.

Chapter Text

EREN POV 

 

Over the few days after Levi and I got together, our relationship only got stronger really.

I don’t think I stopped smiling through the entirety of the journey home after breakfast at Levi’s, and my cheeks were positively aching when I had finished telling Mikasa what happened and then again talking to Armin. We had all seemed to have left Connie’s party more well off than we had arrived.

Despite having only met each other that day, Armin and Erwin- as I was told over the phone call I had with the blonde the same night Levi and I had become official- really hit it off. They had spent a large amount of the evening up in Connie’s room, either talking about everything and anything or with their tongues down each other’s throats. Erwin had been understanding when he had pressed for more and Armin had refused. They seemed sweet together and apparently had taken it slower the rest of the night. I was happy for them and pleased to hear that they would be seeing each other sometime during the week. Another meeting when they were specifically more sober than they had been last time.

Mikasa had also had her fair share of ‘drama’ at the party. She had never specifically come out to any of us with hints at her sexuality, which was probably why I was a little surprised to hear that she too had her own make out session with none other than Annie Leonhart. To be honest, I was mostly surprised about the fact she had ended up with Annie that night out of anyone, but Mikasa seemed pretty happy and informed me that she too was currently talking to Annie about going somewhere on a sober-date.

It was all going well for us all.

I ended up getting a chance to see Dad for more than a passing five minutes. Long enough for him to both be pleased that my bruises were lessening and for me to inform him that I was officially employed. He was extremely happy about that, and for once I saw something other than tiredness in his eyes. A genuine sparkle of pride as he clapped me on my  back and laughed. Actually laughed  as he congratulated me.

It was another reason why I couldn’t stop smiling for a while, to be honest. I was the reason that my father had laughed. Because of me.

Of course, I didn’t want to admit it was technically Levi’s idea, but he took enough of the credit when we phoned later that evening and I told him what had happened.

Talking of the job, my first shift was growing closer and closer with each passing day and with that my nerves grew tenfold too. I just tried to keep the memory of my dad’s smile in my head as the day arrived and the nerves spiked. Even if I couldn’t picture his face, I knew it had happened, and it was all I needed to fuel me as I walked into the coffee shop to start my first shift.

Levi had said he would try and pop in sometime after his lectures, so I had that to look forward to. Just had to get through the rest of the shift first.

The little bell above the door rings as I enter and the girl behind the counter grins widely at me as she turned. It didn’t seem that busy, which was nice. Meant I could be trained and didn’t have to worry about too many people seeing me mess up, though being before lunch it still meant that a lot of people were still in morning lectures.

I walk up to the counter, allowing my brain to do the work as I walk. Bobbed hair, strawberry blonde. Other than that she looks like everyone else in the entire world. But unless there’s another strawberry blonde worker here, this is most likely Petra.

She smiles at me and I return it.

“Hello.” I say happily, although nervous I am actually quite excited to get started.

“Ah, Eren.” Petra giggles, moving over to the little ‘staff gate’ to let me in behind the counter, smiling away. “I was wondering when you would be starting. It’s great to have you.” She says softly. I recognise this at least. She has a way of speaking, a way of making you feel like the only and most important person in the entire world.

“Yeah, it’s felt like ages since the interview.” I agree, chuckling a little as I glance around. I’ve never worked in a place like this.

In all honesty, I’ve only had one job before, working at a children’s soft play area for the summer between high school and university. I quickly learnt that it was another thing that didn’t go well with prosopagnosia; working with children. Children are demanding and more easily offended than adults. When you don’t know their names, they get angry, or upset. They kick off. Parent’s also don’t much like it when you upset their precious child. That job hadn’t lasted very long. Four crying children and a panic attack in the bathroom later, both me and my boss had mutually agreed that it would be best that I left.

Dad wasn’t too pleased when I came back job less. It had been too difficult to explain, especially as Dad hadn’t spent a lot of his time listening to people back then. He had been even more shut off than now and took it as yet another way his son was hellbent on rebelling at every turn.

But no, here I was. I had secured myself another job and now I was hellbent on not letting anyone down.

“It does.” Petra giggles, before reaching under the till. “Mr Smith left these here for you. This is your apron, you don’t need to wear uniform as long as you have this. Name badge; here, and there you’re all set. You’ll be working from the simple menu for now.” She explains as she hands me my stuff. I’m nodding along at the moment like a bobble head, listening intently to show my commitment. “We’ll train you in the more complicated things on the menu as we go along and when we have a spare five minutes. For now, simple teas and coffees, clearing tables and taking orders.” She smiles.

“Sounds good to me.” I return.

“Yeah, it shouldn’t be too taxing today at least. I’m predicting a bit of a rush around lunch but don’t worry too much, you can just take orders through that if you want.” She tells me. “I think Hanji will be popping in later so we can always get her to help if we need it. But I think we’re going to make a great team.” She says happily, which makes me smile too. She has so much faith in me, even when I’m doubting myself. It’s yet another person I don’t want to disappoint now.

“Okay, thanks.”

“Great. Well you can put your stuff in the back room and then we’ll get cracking.” She tells me, which I nod at before going through to the back to do as she says as quickly as I can.

Just hang my jacket and bag up on a spare peg out of the way before putting the apron on. I’m pleased to see that I suit forest green, the little blue and white logo of the café stitched into the corner. I pin the name bag to the other side of my chest and head back in to start my shift. Nerves and excitement making my stomach churn again.

I return back out front a few minutes later to see Petra taking an order from an elderly man. It takes a moment or two but she turns to hand me a small piece of paper.

“Pot of tea for two please, Eren.” She asks me and I nod. My first order, and tea is something I can do.

“Coming right up.” I say. She smiles again and tells the man that we’ll bring his order over to him when it’s ready. He seems sweet, gives us both a small nod and a ‘thank you’ before heads over to a table where who I assume is his wife has already claimed.

The start of the shift is good actually. A nice slow start to the day and I, surprisingly, forget about my worries as I grow in confidence. I’m working with Petra, we get on well. With me listening to her as she tells me what needs to be done and making drinks. I help her tidy tables and, honestly, I’m enjoying it a hell of a lot more than I thought I would. Working here wasn’t bad at all really.

It’s not until- as Petra predicted- it gets busier during lunch time. Several lectures are obviously let out at once as groups of college students wander in one after another. We’re busy, especially with just two of us there. I’m still mostly just making simple drinks still, but when the average age radically reduces with the incoming students, our roles swap over and Petra takes over making while I take orders. 

The system isn’t too bad. Take the order, ask if it’s take out. If it is (which the majority of these students were getting, even if they were staying in) take their name and pass it on to Petra. If the queue eases for a moment, help her with the rest of the orders.

Simple.

We were going along quite happily. I didn’t even bother to try and search the crowd for people that I may or may not, strictly keeping my mind on the task at hand. Though it did try and wander, I would whip it back into shape. Petra needed me here and now, not stressing.

 In fact, we managed to get through most of the lunch time rush without fucking anything up too badly. Petra seemed happy with how I had handled the situation, and to be honest, I was proud of myself.

Yeah, it was going well.

Too well.

I turn as the bell rings again, giving a welcoming smile to the group that are giggling together. I, once again, don’t pay much attention to them in regards to searching them for identifiers. They all look the same to me and I know it would take me a good few minutes to focus enough on them to work out if I did know them.

“Welcome to Titan,” I say cheerily, giving them my most charming smile.

“Ah it’s you!” One of the girls almost shrieks and that’s enough to put my into a blind panic. It takes literally three seconds.

Thanks a lot world.

“Eren Jaeger.”  Another girl, one at the front, informs me of my full name. She leans forward, a smug expression on her face. She takes a moment to look me up and down. I, already panicking, choose to stare instead straight at her face. I don’t take in anything about her.

She knows me, but to me she looks exactly the same as everyone else and I have no idea. Literally none.

“Who’d have thought it, you working here.” She smirks, leaning in again and my eyes flick down just a moment to see that she’s positioned herself in a way that she’s arching slightly. Pushing her chest out.

Like I’m fucking interested, love. I’m gay.

“I’ve just started.” I say simply, my eyes moving right back up to her face. The weird, confusing thing that it is.

Clearly.” She says with a small giggle, and I have no fucking idea what she means by that. I’m just panicking a hell of a lot right now.

“What can I get you?” I ask, channelling my inner Levi at this point and keeping my voice monotone. Hide the panic.

“Just one medium iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk, please. For take out.” She says. I nod instead of replying. My palms are sweaty, I can feel the skin on my neck twitching as it gets closes and closer to the enviable question.

For take out.

Those three words send my heart rate sky rocketing.

My throat is tightening around words.

I distract myself by punching the order into the machine.

“Anything else?” I ask. My voice sounds alien to me. Doesn’t sound like me. But for the sake of my job and to avoid any more public embarrassment, I continue.

The girl looks at the group behind her, who all shake their heads.

“No thanks.” She says, turning back to me with a sickly smile. It’s probably trying to be friendly, would have been if I wasn’t so terrified right now.

I’m once again face to face with a stranger.

I pick up the dreaded cup and pen.

I smile at the group in front of me, trying to mask the way my chest was tight and my heart was beating manically. The cup’s in my hand, the pen in my other. I’m meant to write this girls name on the plastic.

Thing is; I have no idea what it is. Her short, light brown hair, her medium height and average weight is doing nothing to help. She looks the same as at least twenty other girls in this café alone. She looks the same as so many girls I see every day. 

I’m getting desperate.

They’re seeing through me. They’ve noticed my pause. Eyebrows are being raised and it makes my heart rate rocket.

“Eren? You okay?” The girl asks. No. No, I’m not okay at all. It’s happening again. I’m fucking up again. I’m meant to know her.

“C-“ My voice fails me but I swallow, giving the best smile I could. “Can I get a name for that?” I ask, my cheeks flushing deeply at the question. I’ve fucked it. Her smile falls for a moment, the rest of the group behind her frowning in confusion too before they all seem to think that it’s some sort of joke.

“Eren, seriously.” She laughs, the group she’s with joining in. It makes everything so much worse. It’s been a while since I’ve felt like this, but right now I honestly want to just sob my heart out right here, right now.

It’s actually taking my whole will power to keep the tears away.

“Come on, Eren, you’ve known us for years.” Another girl smirks, rolling her eyes along with this smile. Clearly a hundred and ten percent convinced that I’m joking. They’re laughing at me. The whole group of them start giggling away like I’m trying to flirt with them or something.

They’re laughing at me and all I want to do is cry.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say. I’m desperately searching for something- anything- that will give me a clue to who these people are. There’s nothing.

And the panic's started.

“I-“ I start again, but the girl is obviously losing her patience with my ‘joke’ now and huffs at me. A hand goes to her hip.

“Honestly, Eren.” She flounces, even that triggers nothing. My brain is too frazzelled. “I honestly can’t believe you. I thought you liked me? You’re such an arse. It’s Hitch, for fuck sake.” She tells me.

“Obviously.” The girl behind her informs me. Yeah, thanks for that, jackass.

I don’t answer her, instead scribbling her name on the cup, messily. My hand’s shaking. I’m trying my hardest to make my short breaths not noticeable. I don’t need this.

“Sorry.” I mumble. “Protocol.” Is my excuse but Hitch rolls her eyes, flicks her card at the machine to pay for the drink and heads over to the side to wait for her drinks.

“Whatever, dickhead.” She snaps at me before she leaves the queue. I’m frozen in place, jumping a few moments later when I feel the warm hand of someone behind me grasp my shoulder.

It’s Petra.

She’s wearing a concerned frown, looking up at me.

“You okay?” She asks. I’m clearly not, I think she grasps this enough to shake her own head. I just feel guilty. She’s looking at me with so much worry. “Hey, how about you go take your break? The backrooms empty.” She says to me softly. “I’ll manage the rest of the orders for now.” She tells me. I don’t know what to say, I don’t know if I can say anything right now. It’s taking all my effort to force myself not to just break down into tears right here.

I’m honestly so stupid and I know it.

“T-thanks.” I manage for a moment, taking the offer despite how guilty I feel. It’d be better than full on breaking down in the middle of the coffee shop. She smiles softly again, giving a little nod and patting me on the back as I head off towards the back again.

I manage to make it before any of the tears that I’ve been so expertly holding back make an appearance.

It’s such a stupid thing to cry about. It’s such a stupid thing to be thinking. It’s such a stupid thing to be doing.

I fall onto one of the sofa’s in there and really start crying. I just keep myself together enough to stay quiet, muffling my tears with my hand. I dunno what I expected to happen, to be honest. Of course, working on a campus coffee shop would result in this. I’m just kicking myself now for not pre-empting it in the first place.

Fundamentally, prosopagnosia goes with nothing. I’m stupid for ever hoping or thinking or wishing it would just go away. But right now, I just feel like shit. I feel like a failure, I feel broken. I miss my mother and I miss making my father proud. I miss not having to constantly scan a crowd, listing every-single-thing about every person I’d ever met, in case they were there.

I miss not being scared.

I don’t know how long I’m in here for. I go from sobbing to almost losing the ability to breath once again, panicking, hating myself, to defeat by the time I hear the door of the back room open again. I don’t look up. I don’t want to see anyone like this, but I’m also so tired. So tired of it all, that when the person sits down gently next to me and starts rubbing my back in slow circles, I don’t protest.

I just stay there, silent, with my head in my hands, trying to block out the world.

Who I assume is Petra says nothing for a few minutes, letting me calm down more. Allowing me the time to adjust to them being here. She does speak first, however.

“Eren,” She says quietly, her voice is soft. Gentle and I feel myself relax at even the way she says my name. “Do you want to talk about it?”

I swallow against the question. There’s part of me that’s panicking again. Five years. Five years I’ve lived without telling anyone. Lies and excuses, jokes and pretending. Everyday I’m reminded with the effects of the crash. Not only am I mother-less, but when I walk down stairs, every single morning, I’m also father-less and sister-less until I remind myself. I’m not alone, but I am. Everyone’s a stranger and I’m so tired of it all.

I bring my head up, aware my eyes would be red and swollen by now. My cheeks are damp. I’m honestly a mess. I look up though, and look at the woman in front of me.

My brain goes through the checklist, despite it’s exhaustion. Bobbed hair. Strawberry blonde. Petra.

I feel like I’ve run a marathon. I guess I have. Run away from something that’s always three steps ahead.

“I have prosopagnosia.” I say without a waver, surprising myself.

I’ve never told anyone this. People I’ve known my whole life, or years. People who I should have told the day I didn’t recognise my own family in the hospital. People who deserve to know. I don’t know why I’ve hidden it for so long. Fear, perhaps? Fear of the people who are actually still there to decided they couldn’t deal with my bullshit and leave me. To be more alone than I already felt.

The first person who I’ve ever told about this is Petra. Not Armin, not my father, not even Levi.

All the times I’ve run through my script in my head.

“I’m sorry, Eren.” She says softly, her hand moving to my knee and giving it a supportive squeeze as the other still rubbed it’s circles on my back. “I don’t know what that is.” She tells me, her face pressed into a thin frown.

“I-“ I continue, unsure really why I am still talking. But I’ve said it now. I’ve started. “It means that I can’t like recognise people’s faces. I’m face blind. Like I have difficulty judging people’s ages and emotions and genders because of it.” I tell her, looking down at my hands again. She’s quiet as she listens to me and I’m grateful that she’s not scoffed at me or told me that I’m being stupid.

“Oh sweetie.” She says softly, clearly trying to think of something to say. “Is that why you didn’t know that girl?” She checks, I nod.

“Yeah.” I mumble.

“You should have said something.” She says and despite her not knowing how little I’ve said to anyone, I feel the comment is so prominent.

Yes, I should have. I should have said something years ago.

“I know.” I mumble. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, silly.” She says softly. “I’m just thinking the more people who know about this, the more people can help you.” She points out, and indirectly makes me feel like an idiot. I know it would have helped, I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to admit to this. I don’t like help. Maybe my wish for help died along with my mother in that car accident.

I don’t reply to her though. I don’t know what to say, even as she looks at me intently. I feel her gaze on me. Looking into my very soul. I feel so exposed, like my dreams, and it scares me. I just want to hide away from her, from everyone.

“I know.” I repeat.

“May I google it?” She asks, pulling out her phone slowly. I look at her from the corner of my eye and watch her tip toe around me. Perhaps worried that I would break down again at any moment despite the fact I’m honestly too tired to cry right now.

I nod to her and she takes her hands back to type it in. We’re silent for a few minutes as she reads the articles I, myself, have read about fifty thousand times.

Prosopagnosia (also known as 'face blindness') refers to a severe deficit in recognizing familiar people from their face.’

‘S ome people avoid social interactions, experience problems with relationships or damage to their career, and even report episodes of depression. In extreme cases, people with prosopagnosia develop social anxiety disorder, characterized by fear and avoidance of social situations that may cause embarrassment.’

‘There is currently no formal treatment for prosopagnosia.’

If you live close to our laboratory in Trost and don't mind travelling to us (travel expenses can normally be reimbursed), we will do our best to accommodate you within our current research programmes.’

Yes. I know most articles about prosopagnosia off by heart. I know it all, except for how to talk about it. I am still at a loss for words.

Petra reads for an almost painful five minutes before she lowers her phone again and looks at me. I don’t look at her.

“Is it developmental? Have you had it your whole life?” She asks, which makes me swallow again. I really don’t want to talk about this, especially not the area that we were quickly nose diving into.

“No.” I tell her and do not elaborate more than that. To my relief, she doesn’t press further than that.

“And you’re sure it’s this? Have you been diagnosed?” She asks, concern is still written across her face. I take a moment to glance over to her. Once again my brain runs through the small things that makes Petra, Petra. Strawberry blonde, bobbed hair. Something that I’ll have to remind myself off every time I look away.

“I haven’t been diagnosed, but I’m pretty sure.” I say, which she hums at, chewing her lip a little.

“Maybe you should go to the doctor?” She says after a moment, which I don’t hold back the sigh for. I know she’s only trying to help, but this is what I hate. Someone pandering, mothering. The exact reason I didn’t tell Mikasa.

But, there’s also a small part of me that feels worlds lighter after telling someone.

“I know.” I say again.

There’s a small pause again as Petra gets her next reply ready. “Eren, does Levi know about this?” She asks, kindly.

I shake my head again. “No.”

She purses her lips a little.

“Does anyone else know?” Is her next question. Bingo, Petra.

“No.”

“I see.”

“I don’t want to tell him.” I admit, chewing my lip as I feel another wave of tears threatening again. Petra’s hand is back on my back, gently starting it’s rubbing again. I focus on it, allowing her to comfort me.

“I know, sweetie.” She says softly. “Especially if you’ve been keeping it secret for so long. But, honestly, Levi will want to help you if he can. Especially if you’re struggling.” She points out. I nod. I know she’s right, I know that Levi would, to be honest, probably be upset to know that I’ve kept this from him. Like everyone else will be.

“Do- will he not be- I mean- I don’t want to become a burden for him.” I mumble, turning away so I don’t have to see Petra’s expression change.

“Honestly, Eren, I don’t think you could ever become that to him.” She chuckles.

“We’ve not known each other that long.” I point out, which she shrugs at.

“True, but I also know that I haven’t seen Levi this happy for- well- years. He’s like a different person already, Eren. Honestly, please believe me when I tell you, he won’t mind this. He’ll want to help you. Even if that means loudly announcing everyone who comes in and out of a room for you.” She giggles and I give a half groan, but despite myself, am starting to feel a lot better.

“I’d actually pay him not to do that.” I admit, giving a small smile too. That seems to cheer Petra up a lot too and she grins at me.

“Okay, well maybe not shout.” She teases, her voice latching onto the slight pick-up of mood as it becomes more of her usual sing-songy pitch again. “I’m not going to force you into it, Eren. But I think you’ll feel a lot better if you do tell him.”

I nod again, letting out a defeated sigh. She’s right, I know she is. Has known she’s been right for the whole conversation. But I guess telling the second person isn’t as difficult or heart-wrenchingly awkward as the first. That’s what I’m going to start telling myself anyway.

“I’m please you told me though, Eren.” Petra says and there’s such honest in her voice that even the part of me that’s always doubting everything gives in and allows her this one.

She’s accepted it. Accepted the fact that if I don’t know who she is, it’s not me hating her or being rude. Accepted that I struggle in situations like this.

I still feel bare and exposed to her, but it kind of feels like Petra’s given me a blanket to cover myself up with. I’m still, fundamentally, naked before her, but I’m not as vulnerable and she’s proven she’s not going to laugh and turn away.

It’s given me more hope that other’s will do the same.

“Thank you.” I say, turning to look at her and try and sound as genuine as I feel.

She smiles her smile and shakes her head softly. Her hand once again squeeze my leg.

“Don’t worry about it.” She tells me before giving a small sigh and giggling. “Okay, I think break time is over for me. If you need to stay back here or want to go home then feel free, okay? Mr Smith won’t mind in the slightest.” She says softly, but I shake my head. I lift my sleeves to wipe my eyes again before I give her a smile too.

“No, no. I’m okay. I can still do my shift. I’m really sorry for the long break, especially when it was so busy.” I say, feeling guilty about that now and hoping that we didn’t cause the Smith’s too many lost customers.

Petra waves her hand happily though, giving me a soft smile.

“No, no, don’t worry. Hanji had just got out of lecture and was heading over anyway. I asked if she could quickly cover for us. I had a sneaking suspicion you weren’t really okay.” She giggles as I stand, blushing a little. I give her a small lobsided smile, not great with this particular feeling conversations in general, but now it was especially awkward that it was coming to an end.

“Oh, well thanks.” I say again and she gives another soft laugh.

“Don’t mention it. Right, you quickly go to the toilet and freshen up, I’ll go help Hanji on deck. You’re welcome to come back whenever you’re ready.” She says, giving me a smile again before she took her leave and headed back up front.

Letting out a long breath, one that felt like it weighed the whole world’s collective mass, I ran a hand through my hair before turning to quickly go to the staff toilet. A quick splash to the face with some cold water and another few deep breaths later and I headed back out front too.

The café had quietened down a little since I had ‘gone on break’, which at least eased my feeling of guilt slightly. I still feel a little like I cheated my first shift a bit, so silently promised myself and Mr Smith that I would work extra hard on the second half of the shift. My eyes had gone down a little in redness and it was a slightly less obvious that I had just been crying, so my self consciousness eased as I emerged.

Hanji gave me a wide grin as she saw me come out again too, the uniform apron on as she made a coffee for a waiting customer. If she noticed my eyes, she didn’t mention them, just beamed.

“Oh hello, Mr Finally-Dating-My-Best-Friend.” She teases, wiggling her eyebrows but luckily doesn’t stop working. I roll my eyes, moving past her to wash my hands again and start to prepare another order that was lined up.

Jumping straight back into work.

“That’s not exactly a roll of the tongue kind of nickname, is it?” I chuckle, making the simple cappuccino. I had been told to only make the less complex menu items on my first shift and would be slowly trained in how to make the rest as the days progressed.

“It’ll do.” Hanji giggles again before turning to the customer and announcing what she had made before handing it over. “Oh, fair well sweet coffee. Live a good life.” She jokes as soon as the man walks out of ear shot. I can’t help but laugh really as she wipes a fake tear away. “They just grow up so fast.”

“You’re crazy.” Petra giggles, making an order herself. It feels good to be busy again and now I’m calmer, I’m enjoying this a whole lot more. The nerves are gone.

“It ain’t right if you ain’t lost your mind,” Hanji starts singing, which I instantly snort at, instantly having flashbacks to Connie’s party, “Yeah I don’t want easy, I want crazy! Are you with me baby? Let’s be crazy!” She continues, serenading Petra and mostly dancing around her.

I just thank the lord the customer’s are a) few and far between, b) distracted and c) don’t seem to mind the crazy lesbian basically bump-and-grinding against her girlfriend while making their coffee.

“Get off me.” Petra giggles, swatting Hanji away. The bell gives a little jingle again and our heads turn to see who it is who’s entered. I swear to God- I’ve never been more relieved to see that weird black and white illustrated jacket and the dark mop of hair.

“Levi!” Hanji squeals, Petra giving her another gentle tap to keep her in line and not disturb any more of the customers.

Levi walks over, giving me a soft smile. It wavers a little as he takes in my appearance but I offer him a wide smile, hoping he doesn’t worry about me.

“If I had known shitty glasses was here, I wouldn’t have come.” He says bluntly, but I have to mentally thank him because he’s made me laugh. I feel safe with Levi here.

“Aww shush, you so would have shorty.” Hanji giggles at him again.

“Fuck off.” He snaps at her, and I guess it’s most likely about the height thing as his expression storms up the moment she says it. Levi comes up to the counter, careful to make sure that there wasn’t any actual customers behind him.

“Don’t pretend you don’t love me.” Hanji ‘sing’s again. I guess Levi did know what was going to be said as he rolls his eyes at her, flipping her the bird jokingly.

“You wish, shit stain.”

“Aww you’re so mean Levi-“

“Leave me alone, I came here to check on my boyfriend.” He says, extending the word boyfriend enough to make me giggle myself to be honest. He was right. Levi was my boyfriend, and it felt amazing. Made me more than happy.

“Don’t worry about me.” I tell him with a soft smile, but his look of concern is back.

I know the questions coming before he asks. Petra knows the answer better than anyone right now too, so I don’t even give her a side-ways glance as Levi asks. “You okay?”

I open my mouth a little, but my ‘rational’ brain is back and my voice box is locked by that part of my brain that stops me telling him straight out exactly what’s wrong. There will be a time, a place, and this isn’t it.

“I’m good.” I tell him, which isn’t a complete lie. I’ve been better, sure, but I’m feeling better than I had done half an hour ago. “Just been pretty busy for a first shift.” I chuckle lightly. His expression is searching for a few more moments, but it soon softens. Like he understands there’s more to it but he’s not going to question it. Not yet anyway.

“Yeah, it gets a bit hectic here sometimes.” He says softly, moving around to come behind the counter too.  He comes over to me, before slowly putting his arms out. A little awkwardly but I see what he’s trying to do. “Come here, brat.” Levi almost whispers, welcoming me into his arms, which I gladly take.

I blush a little, pleased once again that the café is now almost empty as I stand hugging my boyfriend at the front of it. Hanji gives a little happy squeal but Petra takes control of her and sends her off to clear a table as I snuggle into Levi. Breath in his smell. Relax into the feeling of his arms around me.

I know he’s shorter than me, that much is obvious, but I notice now how much I must bend to snuggle my face into his shoulder. I feel his muscles though, and if it had been at any other point I probably would have felt self-conscious about the lack of my own. But right now, I’m not. It’s nice. He feels solid next to me and I find myself listing to myself all the things about Levi that makes him Levi. Things I can rely on.

  1. His height. He might hate it, but it’s a huge help. Especially considering he’s shorter than the average male. A+ for not being average.
  2. His hair. Undercuts may be more in fashion, but the way Levi wears his hair is yet to change for as long as I’ve know him. No hair up days, or pushed to the side days, or back combed days. It’s perfectly consistent.
  3. His jacket. Whatever made him think to draw on it, I thank him for it. Right choice. Another mark for not being average with even your clothing.
  4. His tattoos.
  5. His shit jokes. When in doubt, listen out for a shit joke.

I let out a small steadying breath, bringing my thoughts back to the present as Levi slowly pulls back and offers me the worlds smallest smile. It’s still there though, made even more prominent by the soft expression on his face.

“I’m here if you need to talk.” He tells me, and I swear he either has some serious sixth sense shit going on or my eyes were redder than I originally thought. I’m guessing the latter really.

“Thanks.” I say honestly, leaning into gently press a small kiss onto his soft lips.

Feeling a hell of a lot better, I smile at him. “So, can we get you a drink, sir?” I ask him happily, deciding to prove myself with this. Play along with this with him.

Levi smirks at me, an eyebrow raising. “Sure, why not.” He replies. “How about just a black coffee, please?” He asks and I nod in response.

“One black coffee, coming right up.” I announce, quickly stealing another kiss before I start to make it for him. I feel Levi’s gaze on me for a moment or two before he turns and heads over to a seat near the window. In fact, when I glance over, I see it’s the exact one that we sat on for our date. I can’t help but smile.

God, I’m falling for him so hard, so fast.

Petra gives me a knowing smile that I return. I think it’s partly about the prosopagnosia, but it’s mostly about Levi.

I make his coffee for him and take it over before going back to work the rest of my shift out at the front. Levi sits in the café though, not watching or anything but just sketching away. I only caught a glimpse when I went over to give him his drink and the page before him was covered in sketches of people. Either passing or sitting in the coffee shop right now.

Each of them beautifully illustrated by Levi. Each one of their unique faces.

The rest of the shift goes fast, and I make sure to work my ass off for Petra. She seems impressed. No table is left for long enough to make the place look messy but by the time I’ve done my shift and Eld has arrived to take over, I’m exhausted. Happier, but exhausted.

I take off my apron, fold it up and check the router to see when my next shift is. I make the note in my phone before properly heading out to go meet Levi again. It makes my stomach flip a little to know he’s still here. Not specifically waiting for me to finish, but also is at the same time.

It’s lovely to just return to his side. To have him take my hand when meets me coming out the back room. That he kisses me again in front of everyone, no shame in our relationship. No point in hiding it. It’s lovely that, with my hand in his still, he buys me a mango smoothie as a treat for finishing my first shift here and spends his afternoon with me.

He just makes me feel special. I don’t really know how he does it. He senses my upset and nervousness and in his own way decides to cheer me up. I

It just feels like there honestly isn’t anyone else he would rather spend his afternoon with, and to be honest, there isn’t anyone I’d rather be with either.

Chapter Text

EREN POV 

 

It seems like it’s Levi’s soul goal over the next two days to confirm my suspicions about his sixth sense abilities.

He knows. Doesn’t know, know, but he knows somethings up.

I’m a little wobbly after my panic attack at work, but try and hide the heightened anxiety and weirdness I’m feeling after it as best as I can from him. I’m mostly just annoyed it’ll piss him off, to be honest, even though there’s also that part of me that just reminds myself he probably won’t.

What can I say, anxiety continues to be a bitch.

I like Levi so fucking much already, despite the fact that we’ve only been going out for a week. It feels longer. But I can’t deny, he seems hell bent on making sure that I’m okay. Though not in a constant Mikasa way, he does it in a much more sutble ‘Levi way’.

A text. Calling me. Joking around and making me laugh. Even just spending time with my after my shift. It all helps, it’s all appreciated and I think he can tell.

He’s still aware there’s something going on that I’m not telling him about, but he doesn’t pressure me into talking like Mikasa would. He’s allowing me to come to him in my own time, instead of the other way around. Doesn’t play mother but plays the caring boyfriend incredibly well. To be perfectly honest, it makes me like him even more.

I guess this is why I’m so happy to see the words ‘One Message Received From: Levi’ flash across my screen when I finally wake, Saturday morning.  

From: Levi [Received 8:14am]

Hey, just wondering if you were free today or not? Don’t worry if you’ve already got plans.

To: Levi [Sent 12:32pm]

Morning : )  completely free all day, what were you thinking? X

Despite the fact that I am, most definitely, still in bed and only just awake over four hours after he sent the message, I type out my reply and pressed send. I just have to hope that I haven’t missed my chance with my stupid over sleeping.  

Luckily, though, as I begin to doze off again, the bed next to me vibrates again. It’s Levi again.

From: Levi [Received 12:38pm]

Please tell me that’s not you just up now? Lazy ass. I was thinking we could meet in town? I want to take you somewhere.

I read his response, feeling a little guilty for sleeping in for long but I guess that’s what the weekend was for. Right? But, the prospect of meeting up with Levi again is enough to force me out of bed straight away and I sit up before replying to him that I would definitely love to meet up with him in town. Just the prospect of spending time with Levi is enough to get me excited. He replies quickly too, telling me that we’ll go into Sina today instead of getting the train, which I’m quite excited about.

Sina is a larger city, there’s more to do and although I have no idea what Levi’s planning, the possibilities excite me. We agree to meet in an hour, giving me enough time to shower, dress and leave.

The house is quiet. Mikasa isn’t someone who sleeps in so I assume she’s out which I’m slightly pleased about, just because it means I can leave quicker. I see it confirmed when I go downstairs to pull my shoes on and spot the usual message Dad’s left us telling us his shift patterns for the day and her neat writing underneath.

Gone to meet Annie. Call if you need me. M x’

It’s written quick, like she too was in a hurry to go out. Probably excited to see Annie, and although it still freaks me out a little that she’s chosen Annie to be her love interest, I’m pleased for them both.

I write my own little note on a separate sheet in case she’s back before me; we all own mobiles, I just guess it’s what we’re used to now. Communicating with each other on scraps of paper left on the kitchen table instead of taking the time to actually talk to each other. Mikasa and I, we’re still pretty close. We talk. I guess it’s just Dad. There’s been weeks in my life that this is the only communication I’ve had with him.

Shaking myself back into action, I quickly down some orange juice- drinking it from the carton despite the fact both Dad and Mikasa would have a fit if they saw me do it. God knows though that what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

After locking up the house, I choose to walk into town, it’s not far and to be honest, I could do with the exercise. I don’t mind it either, sometimes I enjoy just being able to drown out the rest of the world with my headphones plugged in and my head down. It’s sunny today too.

March has brought with it warmer breezes and less showers, the weather I prefer. I’m not about cold winds and rain, and I find myself hoping that the good weather continues on through to my birthday at the end of the month.

The next text I’d gotten from Levi told me to meet him on the street outside the train station so that’s where I head to wait for him. I keep my headphones in and take up a spot close to the door so I can try and spot him coming out. Mostly though, I repeat my usual trick for waiting people. Stand a and let them come to me.

I’m just about to pull my phone out my pocket to busy myself with changing the song or some mobile game, when I feel a hand on my shoulder.

“Eren.” My name is said in the voice that I know as Levi’s, and I turn to see him. He’s wearing a light blue, fitted shirt and thick framed glasses that distort him to me. The undercut is still there, the height, but everything else is lost on me initially.

“Oh hi.” I say happily, giving him a wide smile.

“I was waiting over there for you.” He informs me, nodding to a lamppost about three meters away from where I had taken up camp to wait for him. The information instantly makes me blush, a pang of guilt about having not reconigsed my own boyfriend but I try and mask it with a smile.

“Sorry.” I say honestly. “I didn’t see you.”

Not a lie.

“It’s fine.” He says, moving to take my hand and my heart does a little flutter at the way his fingers interlace with mine. He leans up and presses his lips gently into mine. The kiss is fleeting, a greeting and he soon pulls back to fluff his hair as we both blush. It’s clear we’re still getting used to this, each of us. But I’m not going to pretend I don’t find it adorable to see Levi all red and embarrassed from us kissing.

“You’re wearing glasses.” I say, which gets a snort from him. He rolls his eyes again, placing both feet back on the ground. I don’t think he would be happy to admit he almost to stand on tip toes to reach my lips properly.

“Wow, Sherlock Holmes is in the house. Someone should have told me.” He replies sarcastically, but it’s soft. Everything about Levi is soft with me. It’s my turn to roll my eyes, however, and I flick him the bird using my free hand.

“Didn’t need to be so sassy.” I retort, but he ignores my comment so I choose to move on and be the one to smile widely and prompt the start to our day together. “So, what’s the plan?” I ask. Levi smirks, bobbing his head forward and starting to lead the way towards- well- where ever the hell he was taking me. I don’t mind though, the surprise excites me and I know that anything he’s thought of to do with me will be perfect.

“You’ll see. It’s meant to be a surprise for a reason, brat.” He points out and says no more as we continue down the street. We’re quite for a few moments, just basking in the sun and each other’s company. It’s lovely.

Honestly, at the moment, I live for these moments spent with Levi. We haven’t even known each other for that long, but sometimes I have to stop mid phone call with him and just ask myself when was the last time I was this happy. The sun just adds too it and I know the grin is just a perminant feature on my face right now as it beats down on us. One of those particularly mild spring days with the perfect amount of breeze and blue sky.

“You’re like a fucking dog.” Levi comments after a few moments silence. I realise then that I’ve been lifting my head into the breeze, allowing it to ruffle my hair and be lead by my hand in Levi’s.

I blush and giggle.

“Fuck off.” I mumble, but it’s paired with a laugh that makes Levi smile softly so I don’t mind the teasing.

“You’d miss this ass if I did.” He replies and I can’t help but stick my tongue at that. My blush just deepens. “Knew it.” He smirks, taking my lack of reply as his answer but still doesn’t look over to me.

“Fuck off.” I repeat, though despite myself, I laugh loudly when Levi gives his arse a little wiggle that I already know was done to make me laugh. We had walked past a group of people at the exact moment and there’s no way I would have done anything like that. Levi, however, doesn’t seem to give a shit what people think and removes his hand from mine to instead slide down my back.

I almost leap out of my skin when he squeezes my butt cheek.

“I would sure miss yours.” He tells me with a smirk, purring it into my ear despite my shock.

I’m just about to ‘defend’ myself, when Levi cuts right across my path and leads me off the street and into-

A movie theatre?

The posters all around instantly let me know where we are. My eyes flick around for just a moment as the smell of butter popcorn fills my nose and my gaze is caught by a half nervous looking Levi.

“I didn’t know what to do, but I thought this was pretty date like.” He tells me with a soft smile. Although my stomach is dropping a little at the fact that- well, movies are another thing I struggle with- my heart betrays me and beats a little faster. Levi wanted to do date things with me. That was adorable, and to be honest, it made me so fucking happy. Right now, I don’t even care that I’ll struggle to keep up with the movie.

“It’s perfect.” I tell him and he visibly relaxes when I give him a wide grin. It’s not fake, sure it’s masking a little bit of anxiety that’s reminding me about my disorder, but I’m not about to let that ruin my day. My day with Levi.

“Okay.” He says, his expression soft. I’ve learnt already that in the language of Levi ‘okay’ is basically translated to ‘get in, I’m so happy you like this, let’s go.’ He walks over to the ticket office and pauses at the screen flicking through what we have the option of seeing. I follow him.

“What do you fancy?” He asked. I can’t help myself and smirk.

“You.” I reply and he gives me a light smack with the back of his hand on my stomach.

“Movie wise.” He ‘informs’ me and I look at the list. I don’t pay much attention to movies coming out, basically because I know that I probably won’t go and see any of them. My eyes flick down the list and I compare the name of the movie to the poster on the wall. I pick the only one that doesn’t have a group of identical looking faces plastered over it.

“Shall we go to that one?” I ask. Levi also flicks his gaze to the poster before nodding.

Well, the sayings don’t judge a book by its cover not don’t judge a movie by its promotional poster.

“Okay.” He says again, smirking. “It’s a horror, you know. You going to be okay?” He asked, teasing me as he gets his wallet out.

“Oi, I’ll be fine.” I smirk.

“Well just don’t shit your pants in the middle of the theatre. “ He teases, before ordering us two tickets. I try and offer him my card to pay for my own ticket but he waves me off, claiming it’s his treat. I claim he’s an idiot.

I’m actually quite excited for this. Cinema’s are a really cute place for dates, I still think that despite the fact that I also know it’s one of those places fourteen year olds go for their first date. I don’t even care. I’m with Levi, he brought me here because he thought it would make me happy and it honestly does.

We get our tickets, having ten minutes before the film starts so head over to the snack bar that’s opposite and take a moment to pick something out. I’m indecisive while Levi head straights over to the till and orders.

“One small salted popcorn, please.” He asks, getting his money out again. The woman smiles, typing it in and goes off to complete his order while I’m still deliberating. I can feel Levi’s gaze on me while he waits, but choose to focus on this. He’s not staring to hurry me, it’s a simple watch and it makes my cheeks fire up again.

“Does your friend want anything?” I hear the woman ask as she hands Levi his popcorn. I’m just about to answer when Levi does instead, his expression has hardened again. Just for a moment as he shoots her a glare before looking at me.

Babe,” He says very prominently. It makes me blush harder. He’s never one for pet names and suddenly he’s calling me babe in front of this woman. Come on, Eren, get yourself together. You’re twenty years old for God sake. “Have you decided?” He asks.

The woman on the till flushes herself, obviously realising her mistake as I come over and Levi snakes an arm around my waist. Once again, Levi doesn’t give a shit what people think. I like it actually, his public displays of affection don’t put me off but rather make me feel all bubbly.

“I’ll be the sweet to your salty.” I tell him, giggling at his eyeroll.

Yeah well, Levi, you’re the one currently keeping me at your hip so don’t start pretending you’re above this soppiness.

“Shitty brat.” He mumbles before turning to her again. “One large honey popcorn as well and a large coke please.” He says. She doesn’t say anything this time, obviously still a little embarrassed by the friend comment she made, but I don’t complain. It means we’ve got our snacks and are in the cinema exactly on time for the adverts to start.

I’ve only been with one person before Levi. We had been on a cinema date, sure, but it was nothing like this. It had been clunky and awkward, with blushes when we brushed hands and the whole date was spent avoiding each other’s eyes.

Levi was different. We touched a lot more. The cinema wasn’t packed but it wasn’t empty either. We share the arm rest between us, our fingers intertwined in the middle, our other hands free for eating with. We occasionally steal kisses in the darkness, once or twice it going on a little too long but we’re quickly brought back with the whole cinema jumping and me giggling at Levi leaping into the air.

I don’t know how well Levi’s concentrating with the film. I don’t struggle too much, actually and I put it down to the limited characters in the film. I only really struggle when there’s a film with loads of costume changes, or large groups of characters. Ocean’s Eleven is one of those dreaded movies. But this isn’t too bad.

I do, however, find myself asking Levi a couple of probably stupid questions. I’m actually fairly surprised when he doesn’t just ‘shush’ me because even I know they’re obvious to people who don’t have prosopagnosia. I’ll ask, he’ll give me a look, once jokingly telling me to pay attention but banishes the anxiety that would normally come with the comment with a kiss which ends up turning into our longer ones.

It’s just perfect really and before I know it, the credits are rolling and the rest of the cinema is leaving around us. I’m about to get up when Levi’s hand comes up to my cheek again and he pulls me down into another kiss.

He’s gentle and perfect and I find myself shivering slightly through the entire eerie music that the films finishing with. I’ll blame the aircon if he asks, but in reality it’s the soft lips that are pressed into mine. He does taste salty, and I’m pretty sure my honey glazed mouth is all he can taste. But it’s lovely. We leave when everyone else has, just before the cinema employee comes to clear out any rubbish left in there.

His hand is still in mine, showing them all that we are in fact a couple.

Levi ends up suggesting that we head back to his again. We spend some time in town but the sun is surprisingly getting hotter and we both agree that it’ll be nice to relax somewhere. His flat isn’t too far away, but he still treats me to ice cream that we eat before we get there.

I get a cone- bubble-gum- Levi a tub- vanilla- so I have to let go of his hand for him to eat it. 

He’s right, though, when he says we’re not far and we head up to Levi’s apartment floor. It’s actually nice to not be supporting him up to the door this time, nice to watch him be able to stick the key in the door and unlock it without cursing his sister or almost snapping the key in two.

We’re in though, and in the welcoming cool of Levi’s apartment I can’t help but give out a relieved moan. It’s fucking great.

“Excuse you, brat.” Levi smirks at me when he looks over at the noise. He’s placing his shoes neatly where they belong, having undone the laces and tucked them inside each shoe. I put my heel on the back of mine and tug each one off with them still tied. I put them neatly though to keep Levi happy.

“Sorry, just expressing my love to your place and it’s air conditioning.” I laugh. “Fucking bliss.”

Levi hums, smirking a little and heads into the kitchen. I trail behind, but honestly now the coolness has hit me, I’m feeling sluggish. I take a seat at the breakfast table, watching him as he puts the remainder of his ice cream in the freezer- I don’t know how he saved so much of it when mine was gone in five minutes- and pour us both a glass of lemonade.

“Here.” He says, giving me the glass and I almost melt into it really.

“Fuck- Levi-“ I whine again, moving to lift the glass to my cheek to cool each one off individually. I close my eyes into the feeling of cold wetness. Literally fucking bliss.

I open my eyes again to Levi still there, giving me a rather odd expression before looking away. “What?” I ask, cocking my head at him.

He pulls the face again.

“Stop making noises like that.” He replies. I’m confused for a moment, but then understand and can’t help but snort.

“Noises like what?” I tease, pretending my innocence is actually there but Levi’s not buying it and flips me the bird.

“Arsehole.”

“Is that what you want, Levi?” I smirk, leaning my hand on my cheek. To be honest, I’m shocked myself at this new found confidence. I don’t know where that’s come from but I’m not complaining.

“Fuck off.” Levi huffs. He’s not looking at me anymore, not at my flirting expression, but I’m putting it down to the dusting of pink on his cheeks that tells me he’s embarrassed about this. I think that just adds to my confidence.

“Or fuck me?” I chuckle, giving a little shrug when Levi snaps his head up to me.

“Dickhead.” He tries.

“My dick?”

“Shit stain!” He snaps and I can’t help but laugh at that. I’ve got no come back so I let him walk out the kitchen grumbling, giving him a few seconds to get over it before I’m sliding off the seat and heading after him to the living room to sulk on the couch.

**

I don’t know how we got into the bedroom really. Levi used the excuse that it would be away from the sun that had moved around to flood the balcony windowed-doors and almost blind us in the process. So we take what we’re watching and head into Levi’s room, snuggling up on his bed despite the warmth.

That’s mostly when the kisses start. Before then, Levi at least was fairly interested in the program we had been watching. The break to move, however, he had lost all interest and now was only concerned over locking his lips with mine.

Not that I’m complaining in any sense of the word.

Levi pulls away for a moment to switch the TV off, cutting off the sounds and leaving us in total silence. No distractions as he leans forward and presses into me again.

I can physically feel my breath leave me as I melt into him.

We kiss. Our lips interlocked again and pressing into one another. His body is pressed so close to mine, I can feel the beating of his heart. It’s not as fast as mine, but it’s there. Noticeable against the palm of my hand on his chest.

I taste him against me. It’s one of those soppy, poetic moments that I feel like we’ve melted away. There’s no one else in the house, obviously, but it feels like there’s no one else in the world.

He pulls me closer, rolling a little and I slip clumsily. Trying to adjust myself, I can’t help the giggle as I pull back, breathing heavily. We share a moment, catching our breaths again. He waits for me, his hands still in my hair and lets me adjust my hand so I’m not leaning on it quite so much before he pulls me back in and resumes kissing me.

Gentle lips against mine, the taste of Levi, the smell, his puffs of breath from his nose as he keep interlocked. It’s heated, I can feel my cheeks flare up. The heat between us makes me sweat a little, my hair matts a little to my dampening forehead but I push it messily out of the way with the hand that’s not keeping me above him.

 It’s not just like in the movies or porn even, I’m learning that now. It’s not just a matter of making out in a perfectly choreographed manner and bang there you go, bob’s your uncle. No.

People are messy. People are clumsy. People aren’t perfect, choreographed beings. People are all limbs and silly moments.

We twist our heads and it feels awkward. I giggle, he smiles up at me. My arm aches from propping myself up and I have to move. Adjust myself above him. I’ve never done this before, but I straddle him and end up laughing at that too. There’s the ache of my legs as they stretch further that I normally do. I bend over him and the angles better for a while. I don’t care that I have to hold myself up, pinning him to the bed as he pulls me back into a kiss, it’s perfect. I don’t care that my arms shake, we just laugh it out.

In this position, I have access to his neck in our breaks. I risk lowering myself onto him a little more to give my arms a break, still slightly worried about fully letting my body weight drop onto him. He’s got muscles, but I don’t want to crush him. I get a feeling for his face. Take it in physically instead of looking, kiss along the bridge of his nose and down his cheek to his jaw. Down onto his tattooed neck, where he lifts his head to give me access. It’s fucking hot.

Levi has a prominent Adam’s apple. I love how both it and he twitches under me when I kiss it. Kiss along the delicate parts of his neck, his hips move a little under me and I feel the fact he’s getting hard. I am too.

I try and clumsily roll my hips a little down. We’re not exactly on the mark, and Levi’s hands come up to my hips. His breaths are more pant like now.

“Slide down a little.” He says softly and we work together to position ourselves groin on groin.

“Sorry.” I reply quietly but he shakes his head, catching my lips into a kiss again. I’m distracted by kissing Levi again, one arm still propping me up and the gently kneading at Levi’s hair. His locks between my fingers. My grip tightens around it however when he remembers our hips and gives a small roll up.

“Don’t be.” He mumbles back as he rolls, but I’m not going to lie, his comment is lost. I hear myself let out a moan, panting into him.

“A-ah-“ I manage, which he smirks at, his eyebrows flicking.

“Like that?” He asks, both hands holding my hips tight as he rolls up again. His crotch is dragged deliciously against mine, sending shots up me. I feel the hardness that I’m positioned against and it gives me such a beautiful feeling. He grinds up into me a few more times and just before I’m about to moan aloud again, a small shiver running up me, he simultaneously catches my lip and gives it a tugging bite before he’s back.

We’re both hard, making out, messing Levi’s bed sheets around us but it’s honestly perfect. The tugging stretch of my legs, the arm work out, to be honest, I would do anything and put up with anything to be this close to Levi forever.

I pull back after a few more moments kissing, sitting up ever so slightly. His face his flushed as I look down at him. That beautiful, confusing, face. He looks at my face and sees Eren, I look at him as a whole and see Levi, but right now, that’s okay. We’re different, separate but together.

He rolls his hips up again, even the feeling of it shooting the shivers up me again. The idea alone of Levi being horny, his hips moving for me is enough to turn me on.

“Levi,” I say through my light pants, my face heating up even more. I know what I’m about to ask. I’m going to channel my inner Levi and just be blunt with it. I want to. I want to make Levi feel good, even though I can’t help but feel amateur and slightly disappointing to him. The self-doubt is still there, chewing away, but Levi also makes me feel like everything in the world is okay.

 And right now, it is.

“Yes?” He asks, a small frown tugging at his lips. I don’t like that, so gently kiss the side of his mouth again. He relaxes under them, but I can sense the confusion is still there. “Eren, are you okay?” He checks and I give a small ‘mhm’ before lifting back up, looking down at him through my arms.

“Do you want to stop?” He asks, obviously worried he’s gone too far.

“No-“ I start. My inner Levi fails me and I blush again.

“What’s the matter?” He asks, a hand moving from my hip to my face as he gently strokes it with the back of my hand.

“Nothing.” I insist, my colour deepening as I get closer and closer to asking him. My mouth opens, he waits as I struggle with the words. “W-well, I was thinking- um-“

“Yes?” He prompts after I pause for a moment.

“Could I- um- suck you?” I ask, cringe at my own words. Abandoning my pinning, I sit up and cover my face with my hands, groaning a little. God, I’m so embarrassing.

Levi’s silent for a moment.

“Like my dick?” He asks, making me blush even more.

I let my hands down to give him the look.

“No, your elbow.” I say sarcastically, Levi’s eyebrows raising and I can’t help but laugh at him. I kiss him again, he presses back. When I pull back, our foreheads touch and I gently move one hand to draw circles on his chest, still a little awkward. “Yes, your dick, Levi. Can I suck your dick?” I ask again, growing a little in confidence.

“I-If you want to.” Levi nods, and I can’t help but smirk at the fact that he’s stuttered himself. I made him trip up a little on his words. I’m the one making him hard and blush like this and it’s perfect.

I smile at him. “I want to.” I assure him and he nods again.

“Okay.”

“Okay.” I repeat. We’re both a little awkward, and I hover a little, unsure if I should just wriggle off him and start. I’ve never done this before, it’s probably obvious in that exact moment and it’s Levi’s turn to smirk, his hand coming up to the back of my head and catching it.

“Keep it natural, brat.” He purrs to me before kissing me again. I would have responded, or nodded, but instead I kiss him back, taking his words on board instead and continuing how we were. Natural.

‘Naturally’ just go down and start sucking his dick.  

It quickly makes more sense to me though as the normality between us comes back while we kiss. It flows, the question’s still there between us, but we’re not rushing it. It doesn’t feel forced or military, just easy.

Levi rolls his hips up a few more times and the fact I’m a little lower on him now means that we’re at a better angle. Can roll together and it hits the mark, enough to make me take a gasping intake of breath. It’s fucking perfect. Him. Me. We’re so close.

On our next kissing break, I slowly lower my kisses again. Kissing down his neck and relishing in the reactions Levi is now giving me. He knows what this means, where I’m heading, and on top of that I’m making sure to kiss every single part of him that I can.

Down his neck, following his tattoo to his shoulders. His muscles. I push his shirt up out of the way and Levi helps. Sitting up ever so slightly, pressing us even closer as he wriggles himself out of it. I giggle again at the whole situation, unable not to before I continue my journey.

“Fuck- Eren.” He pants beneath me. I’ve not even done anything except slowly slide off him. It’s probably the smoothest thing I’ve done all day and I manage to crawl down without slipping or fucking up. It felt good, gave me confidence to continue kissing down his body to his hips.

I don’t know what I’m doing really, but as I kiss, I experiment. Those awkward nights lying awake in the dark, my room flooded with the light of my phone as I googled those stereotypical things unexperienced teens google will not go to waste. Touch, connection, but most  importantly, do what feels natural.

I try things. Ghosting one hand down his chest again as I kiss his side, my other hand twitches over his thigh. His head is back, I can’t see his face but it doesn’t matter really. His body language and the bulge in his pants makes me continue on. He shivers under my tickling fingertips, his breath hitches lightly as my hand gets a little too close to his clothed erection and pulls back. Mine is now left forgotten, but honestly I’m so desperate to make Levi feel good, I don’t even care.

“Eren-“ Levi almost whines, a muscular arm is moved to drape across his face. I can still him breathing against his own skin. It sends shivers down me. “You’re teasing.” He informs me and I smirk.

“Oh, am I?”

“Stop being a wank stain.” He grumbles. I take pity on him but still giggle lightly at my handy work. I press my palm onto the bulge and lightly press down. His hips roll up instantly, grinding up against my hand. Pressing the zipper between my palm and his dick. It’s honestly one of the hottest things I’ve ever seen and I feel my mouth almost water.

“Wank stain?” I smirk. “Is that because they’re all over this room?” I tease him. Even in the midst of all of this, I see him flip me the bird from the arm over his face.

“Fuck off.” He tries. His voice is a delicious whine. Strained. I roll my palm again and he shudders, his hips jerking. “E-Eren-“ He calls out.

That’s enough for me. I can’t wait. My own hand drops between my legs, gripping my almost painful erection, trying and failing not to jerk my own hips. Fuck.

I get lost in the feeling for a moment, only brought back when I feel the warm palms of Levi’s own hands coming to press my hand down, giving himself more to grind against. His hips thrust up in an almost continuous movement for several seconds. I allow him to, I don’t stop him as I watch the show- but no. I don’t want him cumming in his pants, to I take my hand away, pushing his back. Levi gives the worlds most gorgeous whine, but I shuffle myself up so I’m positioned better as I undo his jeans.

“Hurry up.” He whines.

“Give me a second.” I tell him, putting a hand firmly on his hip to stop him wriggling against me. “I can’t get them off if you’re moving.” I point out, he huffs lightly and reluctantly stills.

“You’re so demanding.”

“You’re impossible.” We tell each other, but it’s laced with amusement and affection.

I finally manage to get the jeans unbuttoned and slide them down his thighs, admiring the further ink that he had been hiding on his legs.

“Fuck, Levi.” I mumble, kissing down his thigh. “Any more tattoos I need to know about? You’re killing me here.” I tease, talking against the skin which makes a small shiver run up through him again.

“No.” He replies. Short and sweet as always. I chuckle, moving but hands to his boxer briefs. They’re tight and I can now clearly see the large bulge. A slightly nervous wave rolls over me, but I try and distract myself to move past it but kissing just above it against. Kissing the fabric of is boxers before hooking my fingers into the hem and pulling them down.

Levi spills out of them and I feel my heart hammer in my chest.

“You have foreskin.” I hear myself say. He snorts at that, propping himself up a little and cocking his head.

“That’s not the reaction I’d expect.” He smirks and I can’t help to laugh at how- well- unsexy that sounds.

“Y-yeah, sorry.” I reply, shaking my head. “I should have thought.”

“What, you don’t?” He teases and I shake my head.

“No. I’m Jewish.” I tell him. He once again half sits up, looking at me with a raised eyebrow.

“Really?”

“Yeah. Sorry,  I thought I’d mentioned it before.” I chuckle but he rolls his eyes, waving his hand as he flops back to be lying on the bed.

“Okay, okay, can we please talk about this when I’m not rock hard and you’re not staring head long at my dick please?” He asks. I snort, shaking my head while bringing my hand up to it.

“Yeah, sorry. I didn’t mean to kill the mood.” I admit, chewing my lip lightly as I mentally consider what to do. This is the first time I’ve ever touched anyone else’s dick that’s not my own.

“I swear, Eren Jaeger, if you kill my erection I will kill yo-u- ah fuck-“ Levi lets out a gasping moan as I wrap my hand around it and give it an experimental stroke. It’s a little odd doing it at this angle and not- well- my own- but after a few pumps of his full length, I’m feeling a lot more confident.

“Feel good?” I smirk, shuffling forward again so I was more above him again.

“Y-yeah.” He manages, just increasing my shit-eating grin.

“Good.”

I continue jerking him off for a few moments, keeping the pace slow and steady. Enough for me to get used to the alien feeling of wanking someone else and to get him pushing his hair back and wriggling his hips again. It’s only then do I lower my head and slowly open my mouth. I guess, if I was more trained and experienced in the art of blow jobs, I would have taken it slower than I did.

I had seen porn, who the fuck hadn’t? I know it sounds uncivilised, but I guess, channelling my favourites and trying to do it well,  I take the head into my mouth and lower slightly, starting to bob my head and stroke the lower half of his dick in the same swift movement.

Levi’s moaning already above me, the moment he feels the warmth of my lips. His fingers are kneading into the duvet next to us and he’s giving me the same gasp before words as he did before.

“E-Eren- I- y-you wanna condom?” He manages, but I hum a little in a ‘look, Levi, as much as it’s lovely that you’re trying to talk to me right now, I kind of have a mouth full of your cock’ kind of way. I don’t really expect it to effect him though, but my eyebrows raise as he moans again as I do. His back arching a little.

I take this as a good sign, and as the websites say; find something they like and exploit the shit out of it. So soon enough I’m sinking lower onto his cock, giving another louder hum.

“S-shit-“ Levi lets out, his knee lifting and fuck me- it’s honestly so hot to see him like this. I’m happy to see I’m actually not fucking up too bad and continue to bob my head, repeating the process of bobbing, sinking deeper, humming. Levi takes it, allowing me to work his dick in my hand and mouth for a while before I hear him talk again. “S-suck it.” He manages. I look up at him, cheeks bulging with mouthful of dick as he takes the exact moment to look down. It takes just a second. “Fuck-“ He whines as he sees me.

Another point, Eren.

I pull off. “What?” I try, watching his breath come a little quicker. I’m loving how easily the usual more together Levi comes undone.

“S-suck it.” He says again and I look down at his dick, humming again. Okay, I get him. I sink down, trying to get him in as far as I can. It’s not the whole thing, but it’s enough for now. “N-now hollow you’re-“ I suck in my cheeks, Levi’s back arches off the bed and I feel his hands come down into my hair, just gripping the strands again for just a moment before they’re back on the bed. “Yes! Fuck- Eren- like that.” He moans.

I fucking love how loud he is.

I nod, but it just sinks me down lower, the vacuum of my cheeks still present.

“A-ah-“ He continues. It’s fucking hot. “Like that- like that-“ He almost whines. Fuck, I had not expected such slutty noises to come out of Levi’s mouth, but I honestly relish in it.

I pull off him with a pop, smirking.

“Like this?” I say, leaving him with nothing for a moment.

“Fuck- no.” He does whine this time, pushing his hips up. Trying to get his dick back in my mouth.

“Okay, okay, I take pity.” I tease and my mouths back down on him, sinking lower.

“Eren!” He moans as I do, sucking him as he said so. I see, out of the corner of my eye, his fingers flexing on the bedsheets, his thigh shaking. “Suck me- come on- take my cock.” He starts, the sudden growl in his voice surprises me. Slutty Levi is back and dominating Levi has taken his place. I’m not going to lie, It’s fucking sexy.

It goes straight to my dick.

“Take it- that’s right- fuck. I know you can take more.” He’s telling me, and despite my eyes are now watering slightly, I find myself wanting more of Levi’s cock stuffed down my throat and sink a little lower. It’s a struggle but I manage to suck him hard again.

Levi lets out a loud moan. don’t think he does it on purpose, he’s been gentle till now, but his hands in my hair again quickly and the grip is a lot tighter than before. I take it, but then his hips push up.  Forcing more of his cock into my mouth. His eyes are closed and I don’t think he knows that I’m already at my limit as he’s pushing into me further than I can take. The noise I make surprises me for just a second, I gag loudly, panicking for a moment that I couldn’t breath and his cock was making it’s way down my throat. I pushing against his hands, lifting  up off him and taking a gasp of air.

As soon as I’m up, the panics gone and I’m fucking horny again. It’s replaces with desperation and raw need.

I need his dick back in my mouth.

“Fuck, sorry, Eren.” He’s instantly attentive of me. I smirk, wiping the drool off my chin.

 I’m back down to my job with a wave of my hand.

“Don’t worry, I’m fine.” I tell him when he gives me a frown. He’s about to stop me and I’m not about to let that happen.

I still don’t know whether he’s overly convinced though because he’s a little quitter as I continue, for a time anyway. His hands have settled at the side and don’t return to my hair, just grip either his own or the blankets. He leaves me in control, which I appreciate.

I try and work a little harder on him now, wanting to hear him again and also aware of how painfully hard I was.

I can already tell my pants are dampened by the patch of precum that’s currently seeping it’s way through my pants and staining the front of my jeans. I can feel it.

I’m doing everything he likes now though. Sinking down, this time able to get him a little deeper myself, sucking, humming before tucking head back up to the tip. Tongue swirl, back down, playing with this foreskin and dragging it with me as I work myself up and down him.

Levi’s volume is back up soon enough. I’m genuinely happy when I hear him moan my name again, his chest heaving with the desperate pleasure running through him. It’s not long, particularly when I speed up. Suck harder and more often.

He’s soon gasping and calling my name out loud enough that I’m thankful that Isabel isn’t home. My dick, however, is twitching. Reminding me of it’s presence and I can’t resist any longer, my hand snakes down to my own crotch.

I’m working Levi and myself at the same time, getting better at my multi-tasking. Not even taking the time to unzip myself from my pants. I just rub and grab at the front of my jeans, occasionally jerking my hips into it as I push myself into taking Levi just that little bit further every time. It’s kind of embarrassing though. I surprising myself with my quick a orgasm. But I think it’s the moment I hear Levi raggedly gasp my name and announce the fact he too was coming that pushes me over the edge.

“E-Eren- Oh fuck- I’m cumming- Eren I’m gonna cum! Holy shit- Eren!” He moans.

I jizz my pants as he cums in my mouth. I’m moaning myself, eyes closing around the feeling, our bodies twitching. Particularly Levi’s thighs. They jump, shake a little with little twitching aftershocks of the orgasm before he eventually slumps back. His back relaxing, his hips lowering.

 He’s aware enough, even in the aftermath, to lean a hand over to his bedside table, pulling me out a tissue and handing it to me. “Don’t swallow it.” He tells me, his voice almost a mumble and I take the tissue gratefully.

My mouth is emptied into the tissue and I smile as I stand slowly. My legs are shaky but I need to both dispose of the tissue (I’m a million percent convinced that, considering the bin next to Levi’s bed is completely empty, he would prefer me not to throw it in there) and clean myself up.

“I’ll be right back.” I tell him. He gives a slightly bewildered nod and I stumble over to the en suite to do just that. By the time I’ve returned, slightly more comfortable that my pants were no longer sticky, just slightly damp, I can see that Levi’s sorted himself out too. His dick’s away and his jeans have been pulled up. Not buttoned, just pulled up.

“Come here.” He beckons, his arms opening wide and I crawl onto the bed again and into his arms, instantly snuggling down into his warmth. Cocooning myself in the smell of Levi. Of my boyfriend.

“Thank you.” I mumble into him happily and he snorts lightly.

“What for letting you suck my dick?” He chuckles and I give him a small shrug against him.

“I guess.” I giggle lightly before a relaxed silence falls upon us. I break it. “Sorry if it wasn’t the best.” I say, starting to feel a little self-conscious again, but I feel Levi’s chin shake against my hair.

“Shut up, stupid brat.” He replies, his voice drugged with affection and post-orgasmic sleepiness.

“Me shut up? I think you need to learn how to.” I tease, lifting my head to giggle at him. His expression is soft but he sticks his tongue out a little. I guess my childishness is wearing off on him.

“Fuck off.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the neighbours don’t come round about a noise complaint.”

“Then I’ll blame you.” He informs me and I gasp.

“That’s bullying. It’s your fault, you kissed me.” I tell him, matter-of-factly and Levi smirks a little too, rolling his eyes as he kisses my head again.

“It’s your fault, for being so damn sexy.” He finishes and I can’t help but laugh, snuggling into him again and just relaxing. “No, are you going to shut up?” Levi asks, reaching over to the bedside table again and gets the remote to the TV that he has situated on the other side of his room. “I wanna watch Kitchen Nightmares and cuddle my nightmare of a boyfriend, okay? Now shush.” He says, kissing me again. I smile softly, snuggling into him.

I can only see half the screen past his arm as we start watching the show. I don’t ask him to move though. To be honest, I’d choose Levi’s bicep over the left side of Gordon Ramsey’s face any day and I dunno, in that moment, it adds to the perfection.

We’re not perfect. Stupid, reckless teenagers, desperate to fall in love, but I’m definitely falling for Levi and it makes it perfect in it’s own soppy, poetic way.

Chapter Text

EREN POV 

 

As March flew by, only two things seemed to change.

One was the weather. Sina’s temperatures quickly rose to heat wave levels, which was both a curse and a blessing in my eyes. I love the summer weather. We’re especially lucky in Sina with this. I think this is why, although I want to go and explore the world as soon as I’ve graduated, Sina will always be my home.

The good spell of weather, however, brings with it summer clothes and Mikasa’s choice to leave her main identifier at home more often than I’m comfortable with. People start pinning their hair back away from their faces and getting ‘summer hair styles’. Basically, life becomes a little more difficult for me.

It surprises me, though, that doesn’t bother me quite as much at the moment as it would have done normally. Mostly because ever since our date, my relationship with Levi has honestly grown wings and just taken off and I can’t think of any words to describe it other than perfection. Absolute perfection.

We spent as much time together as we can. Levi, however, is often busy with university work. He’s in the year above me, working hard towards his graduation at the end of the year which means a hell of a lot of work. They seem to keep piling work on top of him, and he’s ended up having to cancel plans with me several times over the next few weeks.

I don’t mind too much though.

Although he was often busy, we made sure to keep talking in other ways. We texted often, called in the evenings that we hadn’t seen each other in the day in. Just kept it natural, but I made sure not to over crowd him. Especially the days he had a lot of work to do. All this work meant that Levi was often awake until dawn and past it. To be honest, I worry about his sleeping schedule, but he insists that he normally would be anyway. Apparently, he’s an insomniac, which surprises me when I learn.

I still can’t help but worry for him, though. I usually try to stay awake as long as I can with him, either for us to talk on the phone while he worked or just simply text. But to his amusement and my self-annoyance, I failed more often than not, letting sleep take me around the three am mark.

As the days towards my birthday approached, even things with my father picked up.

He had seemed to have forgiven me for the fight after I got my job at Titan café. We didn’t have the best relationship to start with, there was a lot that needed fixing as we had definitely drifted apart in recent years but he’s trying harder now.

 We both are.

I notice how he is slowly easing up on shifts as the month progresses, and I’m treated to seeing him actually eating a meal for the first time in God knows how long. I assume, he usually eats before us, after us or at the hospital but without evidence it’s been a worry for both Mikasa and I. He keeps food in the house for us, but God knows what his usual diet and eating schedules are.

So, all in all, I’m pleased to see him looking after himself more recently.

This is how I find him when I come down stairs for breakfast two days before my birthday. He’s sat on the breakfast bar, eating a bowl of cornflakes and reading an article in the newspaper as I walk in to make my own. I can’t really describe the feeling as I see the back of his head instead of the usual post-it note on the table.

It’s nice.

“Good morning.” He says, flicking his gaze up to me and I smile back.

“Morning.” I reply, pouring myself a bowl of cereal too. It’s a little bit of an awkward silence. I never know what to say to Dad, to be honest.

“Where are you off to so early, then?” He questions after a moment, placing the newspaper down in favour of watching me. “I don’t think I’ve seen you up so early for- well- I don’t think I’ve ever seen you up this early.” He teases lightly. “Did you know there were two seven o’clocks in a day?” He jokes and I can’t help but smile.

Yes, this is definitely nice.

It’s honestly so much nicer to see him like this rather than swamped in work and weighed down by the whole world. Sure, he may still sound tired, look older than he is. Worn away by the world. But he’s here at least.

“I don’t actually know yet.” I admit, letting the milk fill my bowl. “I’m meeting up with Levi. I think he’s got plans to take me somewhere again.” I say.

I’ve mentioned Levi a handful of times to him in the recent weeks. Half because I want him to be aware that I’m once again dating, even if I don’t say it directly, and because I spend a lot of my time either with Levi or thinking of him.

Not a lot happens that’s not involving Levi now-a-days. Which is not a complaint.

I’m not worried though; Dad knows I’m gay.

I remember when he took me to my first date at the cinema. He’d driven me in the car. He hadn’t said much the journey there and I was too nervous to.

I was and still am unsure if he’s a hundred percent okay with it. But then again, he’s not kicked me out or anything. Not said anything negative about it. It’s just like most other things, he doesn’t really have a visible reaction to it.

 In fact, I’d say he’d received the news of his own son’s sexuality pretty well. He had wished me luck when I got out of the car for that first date, told me to text him when I wanted picking up. Had checked up on with how it had gone when I got back in the car. Had even given me a little squeeze on the shoulder when he had found out me and the guy I had met hadn’t worked out.

I didn’t tell him he was about twelve weeks late to the news, however.

He’s there, interested, just a little bit behind the times.

“Oh.” Dad says, his eyes flicking down and I’m sure he’s trying to think up something to say.

 This is kind of how it goes for us. We try, but most of the time the awkward silence wins the battle. Especially had earlier this month. There had been meals that we had eaten together recently that had been made up of ninety percent awkward silence, and ten percent awkward small talk.

Dad surprises me today though. He’s full of words, and words I don’t expect from him.

“Is he your boyfriend?” He asks me. That gets me to look over to him, my eyebrows raised as I place the milk back into the fridge.

He knows I’m gay, but he’s still never said the word boyfriend to me before. Never been so direct.

I can’t help it though; I give him a smile and nod.

“Yeah.” I reply.

“Oh.” He says. He returns the smile, just perhaps a little smaller, and nods again. “That’s nice.” Another awkward pause. “He makes you happy?”

Once again, I didn’t expect that one really. It takes me aback but I soften my expression as I walk over with my cereal. It makes me think of Levi, which instantly results in a little bubble of excitement forming in its familiar place in my stomach. Dad also cares about whether my boyfriend is making me happy or not, which I also can’t help but smile at.

“Yeah, Dad. He makes me happy.” I tell him softly. Honestly. I waiting to see if he says anything else, but I think he also is waiting to see if I’m going to continue. Neither of us does so I start to eat, slightly more comfortable with this silence now.

I’m sure Ma’s probably laughing at us both right now, where ever she is.

Her idiot boys.

“Eren,” Dad starts up again. The silence is, once again, boarder line on awkward but I look up at him when he says my name. He’s almost finished his breakfast and I’m sure he’s probably going to take his leave soon. The hospital’s calling.

I look at him expectantly, waiting for him to continue. “I’ve taken your birthday off work.” He tells me. I try and stop them but it’s too late. My eyebrows shoot up in surprise. I’m sure he notices this as his gaze flickers away, a slight twitch of guilt or something else pulling at his mouth. He hasn’t taken a voluntary full day off for- well- since he was allowed to return to work after the accident.

It’s my turn to say the word of the day.

“Oh.” I reply, my eyebrows raised. Before, “You didn’t have to, Dad. I know how your work is important. I understand so it’s okay if you need to work then.” I tell him truthfully.

Both me and Mikasa, we’re of course worried that he over works, but also understand that that’s just him. He’s helping people, it makes him feel better and saves lives. It’s important. He makes a difference with the work he does. His career is his life, it comes first. We get that.

Dad gives a small half nod. It’s more like a jerk of the head really.

“They can live without me for one day, I’m sure.” He tells me; another surprise of the day, he’s chuckling lightly and scratching awkwardly at his cheek. Chuckling.

“I thought- well,” he continues, “I wanted to ask if you wanted to go out for dinner then? We all can. And you can invite Levi, if you’d like to. I’d like to meet him and that seems like a good opportunity.” He says, and honestly I can’t help the smile spread across my face.

There you go, Ma. It’s taken five years, but here we are.

Dad’s finally taking a day off work and on top of that, he’s wanting to meet my boyfriend. We’ve achieved the seemingly impossible.

“I’d really like that.” I say honestly, smiling at him. “I’ll ask Levi if he’d like to join us.”

“Okay.” Dad nods, folding the paper and standing with his now empty bowl. “Let me know what he says and I’ll call to reserve us a table. Also, you can ask Armin too, if you’d like? I haven’t seen the boy in a long while.” He places the bowl in the dishwasher, wiping down the area he was sitting at.

“I would, thanks Dad. It sounds great.”

“Right, well I need to head to the hospital.” He tells me. “I’ll be back later tonight. Have fun with Levi.” He says and I reply by giving a little wave.

“See you later.” I call to him as he leaves, kind of- well- on cloud nine right now.

That whole thing went better than I had expected it to. Sure, there was a thick cloud of awkward over us both, but it hadn’t stopped the fact that we had exchanged more words than we had done since the fight. And on top of that, I now have a reason to be excited for my birthday. I just have to hope that Levi accepted the invitation to come out with us. Though part of me was nervous to ask.

__

Levi almost slaughtered me when I asked him to come to my birthday dinner.

Not because he didn’t want to go- he assured me he did and I was over the moon when he accepted- but because I had only informed him two days before the event that it was actually my birthday then.

I told him it was because I didn’t want to make a fuss, but he didn’t look impressed. At least for a few minutes before he whole-heartily accepted my father’s offer for dinner.

Connie had announced that he was going to hold another party for me, as it was my twenty-first. Apparently, it was ‘required’ that I got absolutely smashed on my twenty-first, despite the fact I had told him I wasn’t that bothered. I had, however, managed to sway him from holding it on the actual day of my birthday with the excuse of my father’s dinner plans.

Thanks, Dad.

Levi luckily agreed to come to the party again too, if I promised to not let him drink as much as last time. That would make the whole night better, so again, I allowed myself to look forward to it, despite the fact that I wasn’t really.

We just had to get through the dinner first.

When my birthday finally arrived though, I spent midnight on the phone with Levi as he called to wish me a good day. It was so sweet and we ended up talking until three before- after a yawn I hadn’t managed to hide that time- I was sent to bed with the promise of seeing him later that day.

I half regretted staying awake so late when the morning arrived and Mikasa woke me up with a knock on the door, a cup of tea. We sat on my bed for about an hour too as I drank my tea and slowly woke up before Mikasa lead me downstairs for ‘birthday pancakes’, which was a tradition my mother had set up and we both weren’t too keen to get rid of.

The day, as a whole, was good. I was nervously excited for tonight, but I basically spent the day with Mikasa and then Armin when he came over around midday to join the celebrations. It basically consisted of us binge watching movies and TV, and me not changing out of my pyjamas until I got ready to go to the restaurant.

My phone kept lighting up with ‘happy birthday’ texts and Facebook posts that people had been writing to me. It was nice to hear from people, even if it was a simple ‘have a good day’. Despite the smiles, I made a mental note about murdering Connie when I next saw him for the horrific photos he had chosen to spam my wall with.

It was such a relaxed day. Even once I ended up laughing about how long it had taken me to recognise myself in photos I was being tagged in. I looked at them, confused for a moment about who the person in the photo even was before I realised. It’s me. I guess that just shows; prosopagnosia’s a bitch but even that couldn’t keep my spirits low today.

I’m actually buzzing when the time arrives for us to drive over to pick Levi up. Dad had agreed that he wouldn’t be allowing Levi to catch the train, even if it was only two stops, and the restaurant was in central Sina anyway so he could give him a lift. I had texted him the time and details earlier that day and had informed him of what to wear when he asked.

We arrive outside Levi’s flat at the exact time that we said we would, just in time to see Levi exiting the lift doors through the glass entrance. Mikasa’s sitting in the front with Dad, Armin and me in the back however I’ve taken the middle seat so that I can sit with Levi.

He gives us a little wave as he realises it’s us in the car. As he crosses the parking lot, I take in what he’s wearing. He looks fucking great, sporting a dark turtle neck paired with black jeans, which both I know is to cover his tattoos completely. He had expressed his worry for my father not agreeing with them before. However, as I said, he was going to find out sooner or later. Levi had obviously still gone with it, just in case, and a tan, long jacket.

He looks maybe a little too formal, but fuck it- he’s fucking hot so I’m not complaining.

He’s not changed his hair, thank fuck, but I can tell almost instantly the undercut’s been re-shaven in. It’s shorter, neater. Probably another precaution to make sure that he looks his best to meet my father. Bless him.

Levi opens the door and we all give him a welcoming grin. I think mine is the widest.

“Hi!” I say happily as he climbs into the car next to me. He gives me a soft smile, about to lean in and give me a kiss but obviously re-thinks this idea as he glances into the front where my dad is currently sitting.

“Happy birthday.” He says instead, taking my hand in his and giving it a gentle squeeze instead. I can’t help but giggle and lean into gently kiss his cheek. I know Dad probably wouldn’t be a hundred percent comfortable with all our PDA during dinner, so I kept it simple. Kept it PG.

“Thanks.” I giggle again. Levi gives a soft smile before turning towards the front of the car and offers my father a small head bob.

“Good evening. Thank you for inviting me, Mr Jaeger.” He says politely and I think my heart melts. Perfect. Levi’s smooth as hell and I can visibly see my father’s expression relax as he looks back at Levi, offering him a smile too. I think he’s just happy that I’ve not brought some hooligan home.

“It’s not a problem. It’s nice to meet you.”

“You too, sir.” Levi says and I can’t help but laugh at that. ‘Sir’. That pleases dad no end.

“All in?” He asks. Levi quickly buckles himself in and gives a nod. “Off we go then.”

I end up chatting the most in the car, Levi keeps my hand in his the whole journey and gently strokes his perfect fingers along the back of my hand. It’s warm and comfortable and makes my stomach do the little flippy thing it always does when Levi’s close. I have to question myself; will I ever be able to touch Levi without feeling like this?

I don’t think so, but I don’t think it’s much of a problem. I like it.

Mikasa and Armin join in the conversation too, Dad mostly just listening but, still, I couldn’t be happier. All the people I care about most in the world are here right now, and although I wish Ma was too, I try not to let myself get upset about the thought. Not tonight.

We arrive at the restaurant a few minutes before we were due to anyway, Dad commenting about how good the traffic was. Luckily, though, we get seated straight away in the centre of the restaurant on a round table set beautifully for us. Levi’s hand doesn’t leave mine until we sit down, him on my right and Mikasa to my left.

We’re left with menu’s but Dad instantly orders our drinks for us. We all stick with the simple soda, which the waitress notes before leaving.

I pretty much decide what I want instantly so take the time to lean back and relax and just be grateful for everyone that is here. Especially considering a night away from the hospital is doing my father wonders. I can’t remember the last time I saw him without a deep frown etched into his face, but tonight he’s relaxed. His brows eased and he’s smiling softly at whatever Armin’s talking to him about.

The waitress is quickly back with our drinks and takes our food orders. We all list off what we want and she leaves again.

“So, Levi,” My dad starts the moment the waitress has left and I instantly groan. That doesn’t sound good. Dad glances over to me and cocks his head ever so slightly, a light frown tugging at his mouth. “What?” He questions.

I roll my eyes.

“Can you please not start interrogating him just yet, please?” I ask, but Dad’s expression goes from his frown a slight smirk.

“I just want to know about the man dating my son.” He tells me. Instead of arguing, I shoot him an apologetic expression.

“I’m so sorry about him.” I say, but Armin gives a snort and smiles.

“You should be grateful Hannes isn’t here.” He points out, which makes me groan again.

Dad nods, smirking himself.

“He made me fill out a written questionnaire when I proposed to your mother.” Dad tells us, laughing lightly. “Making sure I was good enough for her.”

Armin gives a little ‘aww’ but I repeat my groaning. God- if Hannes ever met Levi-

“Never meet Hannes.” I tell Levi, who’s following the conversation but looking rather confused.

“Why? Who’s Hannes?”

“A family friend. He’s basically like an uncle to me.” I say. “But he’s- well- he’s just a bit much. As you can see from the whole questionnaire thing.”

“Much?” Levi smirks, shaking his head. “Remember I’m friends with Hanji. I think I can handle ‘much’.”

Armin laughs at that, Mikasa giving her own light chuckle.

“True. I think she and Hannes would get on.” Armin says.

“Okay, they should never meet.” I correct which makes everyone but Levi laugh. He still smirks though, taking a small drink. I regret the small silence that comes across the table for about twelve seconds as my father latches onto this as a prompt to continue his questioning of Levi.

“So, as I was saying, Levi,” He starts again. I roll my eyes but don’t interrupt. “Are you studying at the same university as these three?” He asks. I move my gaze from Dad to Levi. He’s looking straight at my dad, clearly trying his hardest to make a good impression. He’s on edge.

“Yes, though I’m in the year above them.” He says, Dad nods.

“Oh. So, you’re third year?”

“Yes, sir.” Levi replies, my dad waves his hand.

“Dr Jaeger is fine.” He tells Levi.

And there it is. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my father.

When Erwin’s dad is like ‘call me Dave’, and mine is insisting his doctorate is established and respected at my birthday meal as well as sticking to formal surnames. Thanks, Dad. Thanks, a bunch.

“What are you studying?” Dad continues after he gets Levi to nod. I exchange looks with Mikasa and Armin, who are both finding this hilarious. Yeah, arseholes, you wait. This will be your significant other’s turns soon enough.

Levi looks even more nervous at this question. I’m a little confused as to why, really, especially when he normally seems so proud of his course. He should do anyway, he’s fucking brilliant at it. Sure, I’ve never seen him tailor anything, but his art is beautiful. Everything he does is.

I place a hand on his knee under the table and give it a gentle squeeze. He only gives me a passing glance though as he turns back to my father. It has the desired effect though as I see his frown lessen and a small smile take its place.

“Textiles.” Levi answers, which gets my dad to raise an eyebrow.

“Oh.” He says. Even I’m a little on edge at the response. I don’t know what to say and Levi’s eyes flicker back to me for some sort of support. I know my dad’s one of those people that’s not that impressed with art, thinks it’s kind of a waste of a course. Which I obviously don’t agree with, but there it is. My old-fashioned father back at it again.

“Levi’s amazing at it, dad.” I tell him, giving Levi an encouraging nod. “Well at drawing anyway.”

Dad nods a little, but his expression doesn’t change.

“What are you planning on doing after university?” He asks and I give him a noise that expresses my exasperation.

“Dad.” I half whine, tightening my grip gently on Levi’s leg. “I’m sorry. Don’t let him get to you.”

“I’m just curious, Eren.”

“I know but- “

“It’s okay.” Levi says, giving me a soft smile. He looks at my Dad and although I can sense the nerves, he’s also collected. “I don’t know exactly yet, but I would very much like to get into either fashion or costume designing.” He says and even I raise an eyebrow at this. I didn’t know this about Levi so I guess I can thank my father for that.

“Really?” Dad continues, giving a small hum as he takes a drink. “And if that doesn’t happen? It’s a competitive industry, is it not?”

“Dad.” I try again.

“Then I would like to open my own business.” Levi replies, both are ignoring me.

“What kind of business?”

“As a tailor.” Levi says, which my father nods at. He doesn’t seem overly impressed, but to be honest, I don’t think my father would be impressed with anyone’s dreams unless they said they wanted to get into the medical field like him. I knew he wasn’t overly pleased with my chosen course either, but at the time I had chosen my university course, he was just pleased I was going and not getting into a fist fight any day. I think he would have given me the thumbs up to literally any course at that point.

“Fair enough.” Dad says after a few moments before he continues. “How did you get into textiles?” He asks and to be honest, I too am curious. I’m not judging, it just seems a slightly odd choice for Levi and his hard-core outer appearance to have chosen. He doesn’t answer instantly though, and I turn to look at him again.

He’s formulating a response I guess. Or it’s just very personal.

“My mother taught me, Dr Jaeger.” He says. My eyebrow is the first to raise. Levi’s never spoken about his mother, and I’ve tried to keep off the topic as much as I can. “She used to make our clothes when I was younger. She taught me and I guess it stuck.”

Dad again doesn’t answer, but his expression has softened. I suppose he also gets the same vibe I do. The thought that there was more to it than that, but I thank God that he lets it drop. I’m just thankful that the conversation swiftly changes, even though it’s replacement is no better as Armin starts us off with a few ‘remember when’s’ of shit we used to get up to as children.

Levi seems to cheer up with it though, which to be honest, my embarrassment is worth that so I, fundamentally, don’t mind. He chuckles along with us as we joke around and tell stories about one and other. Trying to out embarrass each other. But when Armin starts snorting with laughter and can barely control himself just at the memory himself, I groan again and instantly know what he’s going to start saying.

“Oh- my god- when- do you remember when Eren- got that- “

“No.” I cut him off. I know it. I know what he’s going to say.

“That toilet seat- “

“Stop it.” I say, but Armin just starts laughing again, Mikasa now joining in as she realised what the story was. Even my dad was laughing.

“What happened?” Levi prompts and Armin snorts again.

“Nothing.” I try, but it doesn’t convince him.

“Eren- got a toilet seat- stuck on his head.” Armin managed to finish, laughing loudly. Levi snorts, raising an eyebrow at me.

“I was like five.”

“Shit head.” He says, smirking at his own joke but it just sets Armin off again. He’s laughing hard enough to get a few people in the busy restaurant to look over at us.

“Oh my God- “He laughs. “He had to go to the emergency room to get it removed.”

“His ears were too big to get it back off.” Mikasa adds and I feel my face heating up to degrees that I swear aren’t healthy. I’m burning up from the inside.

“Imagine my surprise when I was called to A&E to see my son stood, crying his eyes out with a toilet seat stuck around his neck.” Dad chuckles and I shoot him a glare too. He’s no better.

“This is actually bullying.” I claim, but Levi’s joining in the laughter now too, chuckling lightly at the image.

“But it’s so funny.” Armin sniggers and offer my best ‘fuck you’ glare without actually swearing.

“Yeah, yeah, hilarious.” I grumble, moving to stand. “I’m going to toilet before the food comes.” I mumble, pushing my chair in. I do need to piss, but I also desperately need to cool my face down. This is too embarrassing.

“Try not to get anything stuck on your head again, brat.” Levi calls after me, the table around him erupting in laughter again as I escape. Being far enough away that my father can’t tell me off, I flip him the bird.

I take my time in the bathroom, though not too long or I know I’ll have to deal with Levi’s shit jokes. Just walk in, use the urinal before washing my hands, splashing my face with some cold water and a few deep breaths. There’s no one else in there, so I can enjoy just relishing in both being alone and being happy. Sure, they might all be taking the piss, but everything’s going well. They’re laughing and getting on and it makes the happiness bubble up inside me and my cheeks spread wide.

It makes me forget about every problem I’ve ever had and I just take the moment head on. This is my little family, despite being only biologically related to one of them.

I stare back at the stranger in front of me for a moment, the one that everyone else knows as me before turning and heading back to the group. I just have to hope the conversation has moved on since I’ve been away.

The bathroom door swings behind me and I’m faced with the restaurant again. I realise my mistake almost instantly.

It’s busy. Too busy. And I don’t know where my table has gone. Everyone’s faces melt into the same, hair colours are the same.

I feel the familiar churning in the pit of my stomach as I stand and just stare at the sea in front of me. What was everyone wearing? Mikasa didn’t have her scarf on, but she was wearing- black shirt? Yes, it hung off her shoulders. Armin was in- shit. I had forgotten to pay attention to it. To any of it. I knew who I was with, they were easy enough to tell the difference when I was with them. I had been happy. I had been focused on the night as a whole. Leaving prosopagnosia at home.

It seems like it had followed me though. I’m lost in a sea of strangers like I am every single day, and I feel the panic rising.

I have to act normal. I have to act like I know what I’m doing, where I’m going.

I slowly move away from the door to the bathroom and veer off in the direction I remember walking towards it in. Good start. Now, look for Mikasa’s shoulders- no, not specific enough. Look for undercut. Yes, look for Levi’s undercut.

My eyes are flicking around about a million miles an hour; it almost makes me dizzy. I feel so stupid, like I’m the only one in the world that could get lost in a room where everyone’s stationary.

The only one who would panic in this situation. But I am. I’m panicking. Everyone’s conversations are both so loud and so quiet at the same time. I can hear everything and nothing but my heart beat. The effects of the cold water have quickly worn off, but my mind’s not on the sweaty palms and nervous chewing of my lip right now.

The words flooding my mind.

They’re your family and you can’t even recognise them.

Your boyfriend’s there and you don’t even know what he looks like. Your father. Your sister. Your best friend. You’re not trying hard enough. Look. Are you stupid?

Everyone else knows the people in their lives.

Why can’t you? Why can’t you?

You’re broken. You don’t care about them. They don’t care about you. They’ll never care about someone who would walk past them. Someone who doesn’t pay attention to them. They’ve already left. They’ve gone when you were at the toilet. Left you.

You’re alone.

You’re alone.

You’re alone.

“Eren?” My head shoots up when I hear my name being called. My brain is fuzzy; I desperately search for whoever’s just saying it. I don’t think I know other than the people I came with are hear, so I try and drown that instant worry. I’m still confused, everyone still looks the same, but then I see the wave. The golden hair that’s half tied back. My brain adjusts. My name was said in the tell-tale British accent. Armin.

They’re there. They’re still here.

I head over, keeping my eyes locked on the table but apologising to anyone who I accidently walk into. My hearts pounding in my chest still, but I’m trying desperately to calm it down as I make my way over. Every one of them is looking at me with a frown. Confusion and concern. I have no excuse for that.

Sorry, my brain just stopped working for a minute. More like five years.

“You okay?” Levi is the first to ask as I re-take my seat. I try and not look as shaken as I feel and give him a wide smile.

“Yeah, sorry.” I say. There’s no excuse. “Forgot where we were sitting for a minute.” I reply, sitting in front of my plate that’s now here. They’ve all waited for me to start eating too. I feel guilty.

“You’d think the universe would have blessed you with some more brain cells as a birthday present.” Armin says. I can tell it’s because he’s seen right through me, seen that I’m not as okay as I’m pretending I am. Damn him. Damn them all.

Armin’s giving me the expression because he’s smart, he knows. Mikasa is concerned because she’s no longer my adopted sister but a self-appointed adopted mother. My fathers concerned because he’s a doctor and he’s worried his son is going crazy. Levi’s got this weird look on and I choose to just try my best to brush it all aside. Smile and laugh instead.

“You’d think. Alas, I think the dementia has set in early.” I joke, laughing. They all seem to get the hint that I’m not going to explain further, or perhaps they all now believe that nothing is, in fact, wrong and I did just have a momentary lack of sanity.

Levi hums. I feel the thump of my heart as I worry he’s going to press further but instead his hand comes up to push my hair a bit. I can’t help but relax under his fingers, even if it’s a little touch.

“You joke but I swear that’s a grey hair, brat.” He replies, his voice sounds so serious that a hand flies to my hair.

“What?” I claim, startled at how I must have missed that but- Levi snorts when I turn to him. He has this shit-eating smirk on his face, and while part of me wants to smack him, part of me wants to kiss him. Armin’s laughing loudly again, even Mikasa begins giggling again and the concern drops from my father’s expression. We’re back to where we before I lost them. Laughing and joking away and I’m happy again.

I allow myself to forget again, just dive right back into the situation for once in my life. I don’t want to worry about anything today, not dwell on that reminder.

“You’re such an idiot.” Mikasa laughs as we all begin eating, settling back into the moment.

“Maybe he was born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.” Armin teases.

We continue the meal in the same happy way after the little hiccup and I’m honestly just over the moon with how my birthday had gone. A little too fast I would have said, but by the end of the night I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I’ve spent the first day of my twenty-first year of life with the people I love and I can’t help but giggle, even as we walk out of the restaurant.

My hand is settled back in its usual place; my fingers interlocked with Levi’s. Armin’s ahead, groaning that he’s eaten too much with Mikasa joking around with him too. Dad’s settled in the middle of the two groups of teenagers. I don’t know what he’s thinking but I hope his first day off has gone well. I hope he has more. To be honest, I just hope this moment will never end.

“If you smile anymore you face will break.” I hear Levi say next to me. His voice is soft, and when I look down at him, his expression is too. Even in the light of the streetlamps, where his face is even more of a mystery to me as it’s contorted by shadows and light meeting. He’s still beautiful. I can just tell.

“I’m just happy.” I tell him. His hand squeezes mine gently.

“I’m pleased.” He says softly. He’s quiet for another few minutes before his other hand pulls up and he hands me- an envelope. I look at him with a raised eyebrow, smirking.

“What’s this?” I ask, my voice his as soppy and soft as I feel. I’m literally almost giddy with excitement. Every step I’m worried if I let go of Levi’s hand, I’ll just lift off and float away.

“Your birthday present.” Levi tells me, even in the half-light of the street I can see the blush. He’s looking down, not meeting my gaze but I lean down to kiss his cheek gently.

“You didn’t have to get me anything.” I point out but Levi waves his hand as I gently take the envelope from him.

“Shut up, brat. I know I didn’t have to. I wanted to.” He says, making my heart flutter.

“Thank you.” I reply, squeezing his hand.

“It’s okay.”

“Can I open it now?” I ask and he shrugs, slowly (and almost reluctantly) letting go of my hand to allow me use of both.

“If you want.”

I lift the envelope still, staying walking with Levi. We’re honestly not that far from the car, the others are already there, but I want these few more minutes alone with Levi before we have to get back in and drop him off. I would totally suggest him staying the night, but I also don’t want to push Dad too far. He’s been good with Levi all night; I don’t want to start worrying him about not only his son dating but also getting down and jiggy with a man too.

I take a moment to run my finger over the name written neatly on the front. Levi’s writing is just perfect and I dunno how he does it. He makes my boring name look beautiful.

“Stop being soppy and fucking open it.” Levi nudges me, chuckling lightly though. I grin and turn it over, slipping the opening of the envelope out of the tuck in. Levi’s not a licker, I see. I fumble with the contents for second before I’m able to slip out to see what it is.

‘Trost Natural Museum. Ticket for Two. General Admission & Admission to: Whales Beneath The Surface. A major new exhibit.’

I read the words on the sheet in front of me and can’t help but grin. Trost’s natural museum was meant to be amazing. I had never gone; despite the fact I had begged and begged as a child. But with my father’s busy schedule and school and everything else that had ever happened in my life, nothing had come from it. Levi, however, being the adorable, perfect human being that he was, had just- well known. He had known that I would love this, even without me saying. Sure, we had talked about stuff over the phone. I had gotten rather passionate several times about things that he had obviously paid attention to.

He knew that I was passionate about my course. About the world. That all I wanted to do was explore it. He knew that if I could bring back one famous person from death and have a dinner with them it would be Charles Darwin. He knew that I would love, more than anything, to spend a day with Levi in a museum filled with nature and bits of the world.

I turn to him, grinning widely and practically jump him in the street. My arms wrap around his neck and I pull him into a massive hug that I’m not sure he’s overly comfortable with, but he soon relaxed and wraps his arms back around me, chuckling.

“Thank you so much!” I say, the grin just a permanent fixture on my face at the moment. I swear, my smile could probably be seen from space it was that huge right now.

Levi chuckles and gives me a gentle squeeze back.

“It’s fine, brat.” He says softly. “I thought you might enjoy it. We can go whenever you want, the exhibits on till the end of summer.” He tells me and I just nod into him.

We’re going- going together.

“Thank you.” I say again, snuggling into him a little but I soon feel his hand patting me on the back.

“Alright brat, losing oxygen.” He manages and I pull back, watching him as he flattens the creases in his jumper and his hair. I wait until he’s done before leaning in and kissing him, right now not even caring that everyone waiting for us in the car can see us still.

If it had been up to me, I would have stayed there all night. Kissing Levi in the street till the sun peaked up over the horizon and it was no longer my birthday. I totally would have, but we’re both jump started back into reality when someone in the car honks us. I’m guessing Armin though, as it’s blond hair that comes with the head sticking out the now open window.

“Come on, lovebirds!” He calls to us. “Not all of us want to die of old age before we get home.”

I grin even at that, wishing I was still on Levi’s lips but I guess in his hand isn’t that bad. I’m holding him in one hand, the envelope in the other, feeling like each step I was getting lighter and lighter.

This was honestly the best birthday I had had for years. Possibly ever.

Here I am. Finally, twenty-one years old, still living at home with my dad and adopted sister, second year at St Maria University, stupid, reckless. But I swear to God- right now, this feels like love.

I think I’ve just fallen in love.

Chapter Text

EREN POV 

 

I let out a long sigh, staring at the screen in front of me.

The whole room’s dark except for the light of my laptop illuminating it in an eerie glow.

It’s been two days since my birthday. Two wonderful days, and excluding the moment in the restaurant where I lost my whole family, I had a relatively prosopagnosia-plagued-thoughts free few days. It had been relaxing.

Sure, I still look at people I’ve known my whole life like it’s the first time I’ve ever seen them. I still don’t recognise my father when I meet him in the hall way and he’s not wearing his glasses, his hair sleepily tied back off his shoulders. I still struggle to keep up with the movie me, Mikasa and Armin sit down and watch.

But there’s a difference. My brain’s not worrying about it quite as much as usual. It’s quieter, allowing me to just live the moment without a constant barrage of thoughts.

I’m not used to it. I’m used to panicking, overthinking and constantly thinking about things. I seem to also be used to making problems for myself though. As I found myself lying in bed tonight, unable to stop myself from thinking about Petra, our conversation. Of what she said and what I should do.  

Does anyone else know?

The answers still no. No, they didn’t. But, this is where I start to think.  I could almost feel the time stamp of my secret running out.

Armin keeps giving me odd looks after losing them in the restaurant. I think I’ve messed up one too many times around him and he’s starting to suspect something. I’ve watched him these past couple of days as he starts to almost say something before closing his mouth. I haven’t seen Levi again since my birthday, but I know he also knows something’s up. I won’t be able to hold them off for much longer.

But then there’s part of me that’s- for once- actually asking myself why? Why do I even try and keep it a secret? They could help, they could (as Petra says) tell me who is who if I’m struggling. If people knew I wouldn’t be worried about offending them, they’d know it’s not because I don’t like them but because I have a cognitive disorder that I acquired after a car accident.

It’s not something I can help. But I can get help.

I guess that’s why I’m now staring at the Trost Research Laboratory page on prosopagnosia and my mouse is hovering over the ‘contact us’ section of the page. Where it has been for the last God knows how long.

They’re asking for people to help them. People who think they have, or know they have face blindness to speak up and aid in their research so they can, in turn, help others.

I’m not alone. There are other people out there who also don’t know who their sister is. I’m really considering it. Trost isn’t that far away and I could explain to Levi, ask him to come with me.

But then again, there’s the other part that Petra said. The thing that worries me more than not being able to recognise people.

‘Are you sure it’s this? Have you been diagnosed?’

No. No, I’m not sure. Everything I do and think fits largely in the prosopagnosia symptoms. But now I’m panicking because- well- what if it’s not? What if it’s not what I’ve thought it was all these years and it’s something worse? It could be. My head was injured in the crash. I had been in a coma. What if I’m dying. What if my brains developed a tumour that I’ve now left too long and is no incurable? What if I’m dying?

My fingers work fast as I stray away from the tab I’ve been on and quickly type in the words ‘brain’. The drop-down box of Google suggests things. Spoon feeding my anxiety.

Brain tumour. Brain cancer. Brain damage. Brain aneurysm.

I flick down to brain damage, searching before finding a website to read instead. Instantly looking at the symptoms.

Seizures. Paralysis. Increased aggression.

I’m dying.

This all scares me. I’m not a medical person, sure my dad is, but I know nothing about it. I just know brains are delicate and important and I really, really don’t want to go to this place and for them to tell me that actually, no, I’ve been dying all this time.

I have to tell someone. I have to. I can’t.

I’m dying.

Stop it, Eren. I close the tab. I breath out again, forcing myself to just calm the ever-loving-fuck down for a minute.

My head’s starting to hurt, my eyes ache with the strain of the harsh lighting. It adds to my panic about the tumour, to be honest but I’m set on not getting myself into a full-blown panic right now. I’m not going down that street again right now. I take a few deep breaths and dry wash my face. Calm down, Eren. You’re not dying.

When my hand comes down from my face and I open my eyes again, I see my phone next to me light up. It’s brightness is right down so it’s a lot gentler to my eyes than the obnoxious laptop screen, but it still makes me squint.

The name on the screen reads ‘Levi’. He’s replied to my last text, oblivious to the state of panic or what I’m looking at on the screen right now. Still, it makes my thoughts once again return to the conversation I’d had with Petra.

‘Levi wants to help you, if he can.’

‘I haven’t seen Levi this happy for- well- years…he’ll want to help you.’

‘You’ll feel a lot better if you do tell him.’

Swallowing, I pick up my phone, unlock it and type out a reply. It’s mundane enough to calm me, to focus my thoughts again and keep my heart beat slowly lowering back to normal.

Levi saves the day again.

I’m going to do it. I decide in a second.

I shake my head and force myself not to think further as I click ‘contact us’. A pop up appears and I click my way through the boxes. Choosing whether I want to be part of research or just make them aware of my existence.

They say they’re going to contact me either way, so I put myself down for research and tell myself that if I want to I’ll pull out later.

It doesn’t take long to fill in the relative information and ticking the box the required boxes. There’s a short questionnaire that they ask me to fill out, which I do. Nothing too taxing but all the while, I just trying to focus on not thinking.

If I think, I’ll stop.

If I think, I won’t do it.

I just fly through the questionnaire, answering all the questions and click submit before I can change my mind. The page reloads and there it is.

‘Thank you for your time. We will be in touch soon.’ Followed by a number of further links I could follow for more information, links to discussion feeds about face blindness, more email addresses to doctors.

Dread instantly flows into me and I don’t think I have ever switch my laptop off so fast. Fuck. Fuck. I’ve finally done it, taken those first steps to actually talk to someone- a professional.

I don’t want to think about it right now as I can’t help but regret it, so I place my laptop on the floor by my bed before sliding behind the covers. I quickly give Levi a simple reply again. Basically just apologising that I’m probably going to be falling asleep soon, then bury my head under the duvet and take the time to pretend I don’t exist until I fall asleep.

I’ve done it now. Now, it’s just a waiting game to hear back from them.

It takes a while for me to fall asleep, my brain now working at a million miles an hour, but I manage to eventually. I don’t manage to escape the faceless people tonight. My dreams are plagued, once again.

Chapter Text

EREN POV 

 

The day of my party was set for the weekend after I had officially turned twenty-one. Technically, it was April now so not even my birthday month, I had tried to use this as an excuse to sway them away from the idea. But, apparently, this party had been decided and was happening.

No arguments.  

I guess the only saving grace was that they didn’t expect me to sort out my own party. Connie had been left in charge of all the preparations, as per usual, and apparently taken it upon himself to invite the entire university. Once again. I had rolled my eyes when I heard the invitation list. It was basically just open doors.

Everyone else seemed very happy about these arrangements. I however, had to force myself to be.

I swear, it may be my birthday party, but the amount of people I legitimately know as I push through the crowd (even despite the prosopagnosia) must be less than a quarter of the guests.

University students are such arseholes. Any excuse for a party. Even though, I swear most of them have actual work to do. Degrees to get. Yet, here they were, drunk and celebrating the twenty-first year of a guy they don’t even know.

I haven’t tried to resist this as much as I normally would have. I can’t out run Connie’s desperation for a party, no one can. I simply yield. Hold up my hands and my white flag and let him get on with it.

He takes this lack of resistance as me actually wanting it. I guess it had been fun to start with too, even now as I’m drunkenly stumbling with Levi; I hate to admit it, but it’s fun. For once, I’ve let myself go and get absolutely smashed, not worried about not knowing anyone as I plan to spend the whole night with Levi anyway.

I plan on ending the night with his dick in my mouth again.

But for now, we had to stick together, get smashed and party. Those were the rules Connie had set out for us and in fairness, I was surprisingly okay with complying with them right now.

I think it was because I was allowed to ease into the night. Instead of arriving to an already packed house, completely sober, our small friends group had met at Connie’s place first to start the night early. But together.

We had all arrived at his for a pre-party-party, playing games together. Laughing, joking around and I honestly didn’t have to worry. I knew them all, could just relax and drink. Which turned out to basically be the reason they did this anyway. To get me absolutely fucked even before anyone of the party guests even arrived.

I’m usually pretty good at handling my alcohol, either because I correctly space myself between drinks to avoid experiences like last time happening again or, just don’t drink. I don’t particularly enjoy lawn panic attacks, it’s not something I look forward to. But tonight, I promise myself that it’s not going to happen.

I panic without alcohol. I panic with a small amount of alcohol. So tonight, I’m getting smashed to see how that helps.

Connie agrees. Everyone seems to. Me simply being twenty-one seems to be enough of an excuse for them to . All ‘dirty pints’ seem to head my way with the excuse ‘it’s your birthday, drink up’, and I could have sworn Reiner- Annie- perhaps Armin- someone (their differences become less and less prominent to me the more I down) had been slyly pouring more vodka into my drink all night.

I think this is probably why, when Levi and his friends finally arrive, I’m already fucked.

I guess I just have to be thankful that he comes over to me to start with. The place is already filling up fast and I grin widely as I feel the familiar hand wrap around my waist and pull me into him.

I turn into it, grinning widely as despite the face is unfamiliar to me, the smell, the hair, the height is all so familiar now. I know who this is. This is my perfect boyfriend.

Oh, hello handsome stranger.

“Hello birthday boy!” Levi’s voice starts, giving me a kiss on my cheek as he pulls me to sit down with him, on his knee. Most of my friends are huddled around the TV as we play a round of Wii Sports bowling. We have been for a while now, but none of us seem to care. It’s fun and I’m winning so fuck them, I’m not about to stop now.

“Hello.” I giggle, giving him a sloppy grin. “You’re late.”

“And you’re fucked.” He says, but doesn’t seem to mind too much. Just affectionately ruffles my hair.

I pout at him a little. There’s the sober part of my brain laughing at me right now. I’m having flashbacks to Levi and taking him home last time. I don’t want to become a hassle (not that he was) but I don’t want Levi to end up worrying about me. So, I put my drink down and forget about it.

 I’ve had enough for tonight.

I wrap my arms happily around him, settling into him as I nuzzle into his neck. Levi’s arms are still around me, holding me. Making sure I’m still with him and I love it. Just bury my face into the crook of his neck and breath in deeply, trusting this.

“’M not that drunk.” I tell him, mumbling it into his skin. He chuckles again.

“It shows how drunk you are when you start denying it.” He says. He slip his fingers into my hair, not caring about anyone else and what they think. I think that’s one of the things I like most about Levi. He just doesn’t give a shit about what anyone else thinks.

I worry about people like those guys who almost attacked Armin. Those people that I beat up and called us out for being gay. I worry that if I hold Levi’s hand or sit on his knee or kiss him like I always want to, the world is going to lash back and tell me I can’t. I shouldn’t.

Levi doesn’t care. If he wants to kiss me, he’ll kiss me. If he wants to lift me up so we can dance above the world in the stars, he’ll do it.

I breath, breath with him and melt. I swear this is what love feels like.

“Eren!” My name is called out, dragging me away from falling deeper into Levi. I guess it’s a good thing, and I already feel myself coming back from completely fucked after a few mouthfuls of Levi’s scent.

I dunno what cologne Levi uses, but it’s perfect. Manly, musky. Mixed with spices but slightly sweet at the same time.

Fuck. I’ve fallen so hard for this man

Eren,” The voice sings again and I pull up and turn to see a brown, haired woman standing right in front of me. Her glasses are there, her hair is pulled back into a messy pony tail. For a moment I’m confused, but the huge, blonde next to her tells me this much be Hanji and Erwin.

“Hi!” I beam, greeting them happily and laughing when Hanji practically throws her arms around me too and we all slip. The three of us topple over onto Jean who’s taking his turn sitting down on the couch next to us, claiming he can’t be bothered to get up. I laugh even harder because we fuck up his shot. The button is released as he falls and the ball on the screen hits the ground and rolls so slowly. It’s on track for a moment before it slips into the gutter and the group around us explode in cheers.

Jean’s now losing.

“What the actual fuck! Fuck off, Jaeger.” Jean snaps, shoving me off him. Levi’s trying to recover himself and Hanji’s half apologising, half laughing herself. Mostly, I find it funny because it’s Jean.

“Sorry!” Hanji laughs, her hand fluffing the back of her hair awkwardly.

“Fucking hell, shitty glasses.” Levi’s grumbling. I take a moment to kiss him to stop the frown. I don’t want frowns tonight, not when for once, I’m feeling so good.

“We’re starting again.” Jean says, already pressing the home button.

“No!” I yell. Reiner, Sasha and a number of other’s also join in.

“Just ‘cause you’re losing, horse-face.” I snap, but it’s honestly not dampening my mood. To be honest, it’s adding to it.

“Just ‘cause you’re winning, arse-licker.” Jean replies.

“Stop it. We’re almost done.” Armin tells us both, his controller closing the home window and bringing us back to bowling. It’s only because he’s second. Not far in points, and if he gets a strike he’d probably win.

Jean grumbles at that, but I can’t help but laugh again. Wriggling a little, I get myself back up onto Levi’s knee even with him grunting about how heavy I am and how I just smashed my knee in his crotch.

I’m settled again but it’s taken so long it’s back to my turn to bowl.

“Get off, lump. It’s your turn.” Levi points out and I give a little whine in response.

“I’ll take it for you.” Hanji suggests, beaming widely at me. I consider it for a second, but my score’s good and I’m too competitive so I shake my head at her.

“Nah, thanks.” I reply before moving to slip off Levi’s lap, turning just a moment to wiggly my arse in front of him. I laugh, Levi chuckles and most of my friends join in. Jean gives a loud, fake gag just to be a prick but I flip him the bird before taking my stance in front of the TV. My go is a hell of a lot more successful than Jeans, even with him trying to distract me.

I end up winning- surprise, surprise- and Jean’s not happy but it makes me happier actually. Makes me throw my arms around my boyfriend again and demand victory kiss after victory kiss until everyone around us are making their fake vomit noises and Levi’s shoving me off him.

I just grin, my stupid I’m-too-happy-right-now grin. The same one I had at the meal but instead of continuing, I sit down next to Levi. Specifically, next to him to keep everyone happy, and watch as they change the Wii game from Sports to karaoke again.

Here we go again.

Hanji’s practically screaming in excitement, demanding that I play against her. Apparently ‘payback’ for ignoring her last time. I don’t inform her about the reason why I didn’t come to sing with her last time. But tonight, I’m drunk enough to not care about getting up and joining her while people are still slowly arriving.

“What do you wanna sing?” Hanji asks, beaming widely as she points the remote at the screen, scrolling through them.

“Don’t mind. I’m going to beat you whatever we sing.” I challenge. She flicks her eyebrows at me and a low ‘ooo’ goes round the group.

“Fighting talk, Jaeger.” Reiner jokes.

“It’s my birthday party, you got to let me win. It’s the rules.” I try.

“Brat.” Levi adds, I smirk.

“Yeah, if you’re five.” Connie snorts. “I’m supporting Hanji!” He instantly claims and that’s it. Everyone’s instantly taking bets on who’s going to win. Literally putting money on it. I end up having less people on my side, but only really take offence when Levi sides with Hanji.

“You’re meant to bet on me. Out of principle.” I whine, giving him a glare but he smirks and shrugs.

“Too bad, kid.” He teases so I stick my tongue out before turning to the screen to start.

I turn just in time for the first beats to ‘Stacy’s Mom’ start playing and everyone else starts chanting the first lines too.

“Stacy, can I come over after school?” Hanji yells into the ‘mic’. It’s awful, off key which makes me feel a bit better about how I’m currently the backing singer. 

“After school.” I add.

We continue like that until we’re both yelling the chorus. Instead of trying to get the keys right, it ends up being a battle of who can shout the loudest. We’re both scoring low but it’s hilarious and I honestly don’t care. By the end of it, I’m barely singing, just laughing into the mic which is making me get a butt tonne of zeros as Hanji takes this as her time to sing properly.

She wins, of course, but despite being the world’s most competitive player, I don’t mind.

“Good thing I sided with shitty glasses, brat.” Levi smirks, shaking his head at me as I end up wiping the tears of laughter away. “You got your arse kicked.”

“Bet you couldn’t do better.” I challenge, grinning widely at him but the smirk basically drops.

“Fuck off. I don’t sing.”

“You did last time.” Hanji points out, even Erwin laughing.

“True.”

“Yeah, you were singing all the way home if I remember correctly.” I tease and Levi gives me his famous ‘if-looks-could-kill’ glare.

“Fuck off.” He says again.

“Come on. I’ll let you win.” I tease, grabbing his hand and trying to pull him up as everyone around us start jokingly chanting his name.

Ah, wonderful peer pressure.

“I fucking hate you.” He tells me, but I already know it’s completely and utterly not serious. He gets up, everyone’s cheering as he’s handed the remote. “I’m not pissed enough for this.”

“We’ll fix that after. You won’t have to remember this.” Connie teases but I already know Hanji is pulling out her phone to record this. Luckily though, I don’t think Levi’s noticed. Or he has and just doesn’t give a shit.

“Fine.” He glares.

Hanji picks the song and I can’t help but grin at it. Perfect choice. Levi glares at her but she gives him an encouraging thumbs up like a soccer mom supporting her kid at his first game.

The song starts. I don’t miss the way Levi subtly counts the beat with his hips.

“I got chills, they’re multiplying and I’m losing control ‘cause the power you’re supplying, it’s electrifying.” I begin. Levi glares even more that he’s singing the girl’s part.

“You better shape up, ‘cause I need a man, and my heart is set on you.” He starts. He’s taking this more seriously than I thought he would.

Alright, old man, it’s on.

“You better shape up, better understand, to my heart I must be true.” I sing, a grin spreading across my face, especially as the chorus starts up and we’re both in the middle of Connie’s singing a stupid love song that makes my heart beat a little faster. My stomach’s flipping, the smile not budging.

“You’re the one that I want-“ We both start. I join him in his little dances, half just enjoying the music, half trying to put him and his stupid ten perfects in a row off.

“Ooh ooh ooh, honey. The one that I want. Can’t you see, oh yes indeed, oh yes indeed.” Levi continues. Hanji joins in from the side lines and suddenly so is everyone else. Yelling all the words as well as we know them, happy in our company. We’re all happy. Simply being drunk and stupid, singing the chorus to Grease’s ‘You’re the One That I Want’ and once again I finish the song cry-laughing. And in last place.

“Fucking prick.” I tease, gently nudging him with my elbow when we finish. Levi’s looking rather smug; if it had been anyone else, I would have been pissed off.

“Lost again, huh?” Levi replies, flicking his brows a little. “You’re just shit at this.”

“Fuck off. I’m just a little off tonight.”

“Sure, kid. Whatever you say.”

“Right both of you fuck off, it’s mine and Christa’s turn.” Ymir states suddenly, grabbing the remote from me, which I don’t mind too much. Just hand over the remote and go back to my seat.

I take a small delay to grab my drink again as the first chords of ‘Call Me Maybe’ start up. Levi’s already sat down again when I start to crawl back onto the couch, quickly deciding- no- I want to be on his knee again. It takes a bit of manoeuvring to get back there without just doing it the simple way of getting off and sitting back down, which I probably should have just done. Especially when I accidently kick Jean- accidently being the specific word and the great arse-hat that he is shoves me off him.

“Piss off.” He snaps. I’m about to shout at him but the shove disturbed my drink more than me and I realise that- shit- well for the second time in my life, I’ve spilt all over Levi.

“Oh my God- Levi- I’m really sorry.” I start, flushing before glaring at Jean. “Fucking prick.”

“You wanna go, Jaeger?” He starts but I don’t listen.

“I’m so sorry.” I say again, turning back to Levi who’s looking down at his now wet shirt. It’s simple and black but sticks to his muscles now with the damp. Personally, I think it improves the shirt greatly, though it’s obviously not comfortable.

“It’s fine, brat.” He mumbles. Yeah, it’s ‘fine’ but he’s still ticked off about being sopping wet again.

“I’m still sorry.”

“I’m getting déjà vu.” He teases lightly, which lightens the mood. Doesn’t stop me being worried about his shirt though.

“True. But what are we going to do about your shirt?” I frown.

“He’ll just have to go shirtless.” Sasha pipes up, wiggling her eyebrows.

“Oi, stop perving on my boyfriend.” I tell her, sticking my tongue out.

“Yeah, Sasha. Stop perving.” Connie smirks before he stands. “I’ll let you borrow a shirt if you want?” He asks Levi. “We’re about the same size so it’ll probably fit you too.” He grins. Levi’s still for a moment or two, probably considering how hygienic this kid is, but he obviously chooses the dry world instead of the clean one and stands.

“Okay, thanks.” He grunts at Connie. His ‘I’ll be right back’ is aimed at me.

“Okay.” I nod, watching him leave with Connie and frown at my empty drink. “I’m gunna go get another one and nip to the toilet.” I announce to mostly dead ears as Erwin takes over the mic, somehow convincing Armin to sing ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ with him.  

I leave the group for a while, trying not to remind myself of what happened last time I left the safety of a group situation. But tonight is my night, I’ve decided that already. I’m going to have a good night, then go home with Levi and suck his dick again. Fucking hell, I couldn’t wait.

It’s going to be a good night.

I head to the toilet quickly, relieving my bladder that has been sending the rest of my body white flags of surrender for the last half an hour. I finally give it it’s freedom and feel much better for it. It takes me a few minutes extra as I face the stranger in the mirror again to fix my hair, try and make sure that I look my best for Levi.

Tonight is a good night.

When I leave the bathroom, I can already tell that more people has arrived and the place is filling up fast. I allow my brain another night off and refuse to not panic. I know what important people are wearing and will be able to find them so head to the kitchen to help myself to a replacement drink.

I smile at the couple stood in the kitchen, not paying them much attention as I unscrew the vodka bottle and start pouring myself some more.

“Eren.” The girl starts though, which makes me look up. She’s got a kind smile, a softeness about her but I don’t know her. Her hairs off her face, plated at one side with a pretty dress on, showing off her shoulders.

“Hi.” I say happily, but she sees right through me, coming over and leaving the guy who she was talking to. I feel a slight increase of heart beat but she’s close to my ear.

“Petra.” She says softly, and I instantly calm. That’s why. She knows- she’s the one who knows.

“Oh.” I laugh, giving a wide grin. “Hi! What’re you doing here?” I ask happily and she giggles happily, obviously pleased that she could have helped me. Hell, I should just bring her round with me all the time. She can just tell me who’s who, make my life a whole lot easier.

“Coming to celebrate a certain someone’s birthday.” She giggles. “Happy birthday, when for when it was your birthday. Sorry it’s late.”

“Thanks.” I smile honestly.

“Hanji invited us, said Levi was coming too.” She tells me, which makes me smirk. This is how Connie’s parties work and are always packed. People tell their friends, who tell their friends, who tell their friends. Not that I mind about Levi’s friends. “Eld and Gunther are here somewhere too.” She adds.

“Ah, I’ll definitely have to catch them at some point.” I chuckle, taking the lemonade to finish off my drink.

“Yeah.” She nods before looking back over to the guy who’s awkwardly watching us from the side. “This is Olou.” She tells me and I smile at him.

“Hi.”

“Hi.” Okay, that’s awkward so I turn back to Petra, who’s also smiling.

“He used to work at the café before you go there. He’s got a better job now- apparently.” She smirks, obviously teasing him with her tone of voice. Everything about her is soft though so he doesn’t take offence. I doubt she’s ever offended anyone to be honest.

“It’s not better, I never said that.”

“Did too.” Petra giggles, but waves her hand. “It’s a secret, but he left the same time Levi did.” She whispers to me. “We all think he was trying to get a job at the same place he works.”

“I can still hear you, you know.” He tells her. She rolls her eyes jokingly and giggles again.

I laugh too, but put the lemonade down and pick up my finish drink.

“Well I still hope you’ll come by the café at some point.” I say happily to him. “I’d be nice to see more of you.” I nod even though- who am I kidding- nothing about this guy is standing out to me right now. Maybe blame the alcohol, maybe blame my brain, but he’s just nothing.

“Sure will.” He smiles.

“I’m going to go try find Levi again. He had to change or something,” I laugh, which makes Petra’s brows flick up in surprise.

“What happened?”

“Might have spilt my drink on him for the second time.” I tell her, scratching my cheek awkwardly but she laughs heartily.

“Oh wow.”

“I know.” I smirk. “I feel like I should go apologise again. He’s probably pissed at me still. I’ll catch you both later tonight.” I say, before taking my leave. They both call their goodbyes after me as I walk out the kitchen into the now severely crowded hall way and well- house in general.

Once again the panics there, but I choose to drown it with a few massive gulps of my drink. Focus. Okay, I had left them on the sofa so head back there.

I almost do panic when, as I walk into the living room, I see the TV’s now off. The music is almost deafening in here and my friends are nowhere to be seen. To me at least. No one around the couches make me prick my ears up, they all look like strangers no matter how much I stare at them.

My eyes go around the room. Flicking between everyone, analysing everyone. I’m about to pull out my phone and text Mikasa or Armin when I see him.

The tell-tale dark undercut. Levi.

He’s sitting on an arm chair, talking to a group of people I don’t recognise. I don’t care though. I only need him though. I keep my eyes locked onto him as I cross the room, and instantly come to sit on his knee again.

I’ve obviously surprised him though as he half unfolds his legs, giving a small gasp but I just giggle. The people around him are confused too, but whatever. If Levi’s taught me one thing it’s to not give a shit what people think and I don’t care about these people nor their reactions.

I don’t give him time to speak or ask questions. Just simply press my lips into Levi. I'm so happy to be back in his arms, so scared to have lost him in the crowded room. 

But he's here, he's back and I’m vaguely pleased that I managed to find him in all these people. I knew it was going to be a good night and here I am, achieving things that even last week I would have instantly told myself would be impossible.

 

I found my boyfriend in a crowd.

 

It fills my heart, pushes my lips deeper against his. I twist my head, dragging the kiss out of him that he takes a little too long to return to me. Longer than he normally does.

 

His eyes are wide for a moment, it’s probably still the shock of me coming out of nowhere. But I just press forward more, my hand slipping into his freshly trimmed undercut and gripping onto the strands to press him back against me.

 

He tastes like alcohol, like beer to be specific which I don’t really like and never knew Levi did until now. But it’s still Levi so I don’t mind. I would put up with it for him. I’m sure I taste worse to be honest. Like vodka and sugar. As I pull at his tell-tale undercut and push my tongue into his mouth.

 

My stomach is flipping again, like it always does kissing Levi. He’s sloppy, sloppier than usual but it just makes me laugh into it. I'm trying so hard not to start giggling mid-kiss at this but I'm so happy. He’s drunk, I’m drunk but it’s still okay.

 

He's still here with me. 

 

I found him.

 

I feel myself lifting off once again, my soul flying off into the atmosphere. We’re having another moment, just him and me.

 

"Eren?" 

 

I don't know how he does it; say my name with my tongue down his throats but he manages it. Maybe we had a moment where our lips weren’t connected. Maybe I imagined it. But it’s enough to get me to gently pull back. I let me head linger near his forehead, giggling.

 

"We should see if Connie's room is free. I really want your dick in my mouth. Please. I’ve been practicing. I want your dick in my mouth." I purr to him, smirking at Levi’s open mouth. At the way he’s stumbling over words, nothing actually being said. I shut him up though as I start to kiss him again for just a moment. Before; "Come on, I want your cock." I hear myself saying, running my hand down the undercut starting to kiss from his mouth down to his chin.

 

His chin. It itches me

 

"You know what, Levi-“ I start, pulling back a little to blink. I suck at emotion reading, but his eyebrows knit together enough to make me aware Levi’s confused right now.

 

"Levi? I'm not fucking-" Levi starts, but his voice isn’t right. It’s odd.

 

"Eren?" My name is called again, from behind. It sounds like Levi but Levi’s lips didn’t move when he said it.

 

I almost yelp when I feel a hand grab at my shoulder again harshly- just like last time. But this time it twist my whole body enough that I slip and hit the floor. Fall off Levi’s knee and I’m instantly ticked off. Whoever just ripped my out my boyfriends arms for ignoring them for five seconds- they’re going to fucking get it.  

 

"Fuck- that hurt-" I snap, turning. “What the fuck do you want?” I hiss at the person. Fuck them, honestly. I was having a moment. I was-

 

What? 

 

The man in front of me doesn’t say anything. He’s just staring at me, not moving now but I can almost feel the anger, the emotion, the hurt radiating off him.

 

I don't think I've ever sobered up faster than that moment. My head’s instantly confused, my heart is instantly beating louder than any song playing at this party.

 

This guy- he has an undercut. Dark hair. A scowl that I could probably recognise anywhere despite the lack of face recognition my brain has blessed me with. On top of this, he has- he has a tattoo that’s showing. Crawling down his neck, beneath the neck line of his shirt. Something I didn’t even think to look for on the Levi I had just been sitting on.

 

I know. I know I’ve just fucked up.

 

"Levi?" I ask, my voice is small but I can't help but flick my head between the two Levi's. The one sitting is wearing a black shirt- just like Levi was when we arrived. The other Levi, the newer Levi, is wearing a tight fitting band shirt that I've never- no I have seen it before. Connie has one similar. 

 

My blood runs cold. 

 

"No fucking shit. Jean’s right, you are a prick." Actual Levi replies. It’s definitely Levi- the one who I wasn’t kissing is most definitely, definitely Levi and I honestly feel sick at the way he's looking at me. At the sound of his voice. At all of this. 

 

He sounds so hurt. He is so hurt. I’ve just stabbed him in the back and twisted the knife deeper.

 

I just kissed- 

 

My head snaps back to the Levi- no- the guy sitting on the couch to confirm. The one who I had just been making out with. No tattoo.

 

He stands too. Confusion is written across his face, but he’s also squaring up to Levi. They're both next to each other and the height difference confirms my fears and I- I don't even know. 

 

"Hey, Levi, I think you should leave. This guy came to me not you so piss off." The other guy starts. Speaking like I actually want him, like this wasn’t a huge fucking mistake.. Fuck- no, it’s not like that.

 

Levi's glowering at him and me. Mostly him. Mostly me.

 

How could I be so stupid? How? I had seen an undercut and seen Levi, even when Levi wasn’t there.

 

"Get the fuck out of my face, Nile." Actual-Levi growls out, his voice is low and dark but his face doesn’t change. He’s acting so, so cold and it hurts so much.

 

Nile pauses for a moment before he backs down. He shoots me a dirty look, He looks like he’s about to talk to me again, probably thinking I had meant to kiss him. Wanted to actually suck his dick. But only I know that I didn’t. Even Levi thinks I did. Thank fuck; he ends up just stepping over me and walks away. His friends are clearly confused with whatever has just gone on but it only takes a glare from Levi to get them scattering.

 

It’s just me and real-Levi now. My whole world comes crashing down.

 

Fuck. Fuck!

 

"Levi, look.” My head snaps up to look at him. I don’t want to see anyone else, I want everything to go back. Take everything back.

 

I’m looking at him desperately now, my eyes wide. I’ve made a huge mistake. I need to fix this.

 

“Levi- I'm so sorry. So, so sorry. It was a mistake. I can explain." I try but Levi's face is completely emotionless, like he’s putting barrier after barrier up and locking me outside. It’s his eyes that tell all. All those barriers are there to protect his heart that I can see from his eyes- I’ve just shattered into a million pieces.

He doesn’t say anything for a moment. I start my speech again but he cuts me off. His voice like ice. 

 

"Don't." He says sternly. "Just fucking don't say anything. I don’t want to hear your shitty excuses, Eren." He snaps, his hand coming up to stop me.

 

I think it breaks me as I feel my eyes welling with desperate tears.

 

He’s just watched me make out- promise to suck some other guys dick. I’m a monster. I’m worse than that.

 

“Levi- please-“ I start again but he’s turning and going to walk away. Ignoring me. Going to leave me. So instead, I try and grab his hand but I get his wrist instead and he instantly jerks it away from me.

 

“Get the fuck off me.” He tells me, but his voice is not Levi. His tone is so full of hurt that it’s like a knife. So heavy that I feel myself fall under his avalanche. So sharp that it cuts right through me. “I saw everything, Eren. I heard everything.” Not everything Levi- please not everything. You would have known I thought it was you- please

 

“I don’t want to hear it, okay. Just fuck off.” He says. This time he’s not angry. It’s like my Dad all over again. I can deal with anger; I know how to argue back and shout louder and desperately. I know how to be angry. I don’t know how to deal with crushing hurt and disappointment. I’m rendered speechless and I hate myself even more that my eyes are the ones filling with tears when it should be Levi crying.

 

“I’m sorry.” I say quietly. Even I barely hear my voice over the music.

 

“Leave me alone.”

 

“Levi-“

 

“I said leave me alone.”

 

“Levi please- I can-“

 

I can explain.

 

“I’m not fucking listening to you.” He snaps, his voice raising slightly- enough to get people to look over but I don’t give a shit about people at the moment. I only care about Levi and how hurt he looks, how hurt he sounds. “Just stay the fuck away from me, Eren. Just go away.” He snaps, his eyes dropping to take me all in. I disgust him.

 

“Levi.” I try again. My voice sounds foreign; breaks on the four letter word, midway. 

I never meant to make it such a mess, never thought I would get with anyone as perfect as Levi anyway. I don’t know what to say so I just stand here, sorry. Searching for something to say like I always end up doing.

 

Words fail. There’s nothing I can say to make this better.

 

Levi speaks instead. Staring me down.

 

 “Go.” He tells me. It hurts. “Nile’s waiting for you to go suck him off. You don’t want to keep him waiting.”

 

I think of so much to say. So much to shout at him. It’s not like that. It’s not what you think.

 

Words fail.

 

I think so much but I have nothing else to say, he’s taken all the words from me. Stolen them with his glare and his walls he’s building up between us as he turns and leaves. Pushes his way through the crowd and because he’s short and my brain is fucked, he disappears without a trace.

 

He leaves me. I deserve it, I know, but I’m alone. I hate alone. But maybe I’m better this way. This way I don’t hurt people, don’t offend or upset.

 

I have prosopagnosia. I didn’t know it wasn’t Levi I was kissing. It looked like him, and to me for (for a while anyway) it was him. But that’s not an excuse and to be honest, it makes me feel worse. I didn’t even know that I was kissing someone who isn’t my boyfriend. Levi makes me feel so fucking happy and I kissed someone else feeling the same things. It makes me feel awful. I don’t deserve someone like Levi.  I fucked up. But- but-

 

But nothing. I’ve hurt him. This is completely and utterly my fault and I need to fix it. I need to get Levi back, tell him how sorry I am. How much I didn’t mean what to happen to happen.

 

This is also why I should tell everyone. Why I should just scream to everyone, tell the whole world that I can’t tell who anyone is. That no matter how many times I meet you or how much you mean to me you’ll forever be a stranger. People need to know. I’ll tattoo it on my forehead if I have to.

 

But I’ve already fucked it so what’s the point. Levi hates me, and for good reason so I might as well just give up. He’s never going to see me again.

 

Leave me alone’.

 

I can do that. It’s one of my talents, just like high school. I can pull back away from everyone and stop myself from fucking up and hurting people.

 

I hurt him. I should stay away.

 

I know I’ve zoned out. Just standing in the middle of Connie’s house, everyone’s pushing around me and I don’t know any of them. I’m too scared to talk to any of them because what if I make a mistake again.

 

I should go home.

It’s not like I’m drunk any more. Honestly, I’m completely sober now, my nights ruined. I could follow Levi, run after him and catch up in the street. Maybe head straight to his home and yell from the street to him. Break the door down and kiss him all over and promise him that it had been a mistake. Stop all the lies and tell him, but his words come back to me and it hurts me all over again.

He doesn’t want to see me. I’ve already fucked up too much to fix it. I have to give up. There’s no way. Levi won’t ever seem me again, he won’t listen.

We’re done.

My phone buzzes in my pocket, bringing me back to reality. I instantly think; Levi. It must be.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so fast at opening it, unlocking it and searching for the new message. It’s not there, but there’s a little red two next to the email logo. I don’t know why, maybe I just need to be distracted right now, so without moving out of the way of the party, I click on them.

The app opens. Email one is asking me to put in a review of an order from Amazon that I made three months ago. Literally fuck off.

But, it’s the newest one that catches my eye.

From: Trost Prosopagnosia Research Laboratory

I click on it. This is the last thing I need. I already feel like crying and now God damn Trost decide to add fuel to the fire.

Still I read it. Each word slowly. I’m sober now anyway.

Dear Mr Jaeger.

It starts so innocently. Still makes me feel even sicker than I do anyway.

Thank you for taking the steps to contact with us about your condition. Here at Trost Research Laboratory, we’re making huge discoveries each day about cognitive disorders such as Prosopagnosia. We are very grateful for the interest that you have expressed in being involved, both just with support, as well as aiding us further in our research.

We’d like to officially invite you to an individual interview with one of our leading research doctors, Dr D. Pixis. This would be an informal talk to explore your compatibility with our program as well as considering an official diagnosis, discussing impacts of the condition and treatment.

This talk would last no longer than half an hour and would be held in one of our research buildings.

Your meeting will be held at Trost Research Laboratory, Cognitive Research Building [113.e.2]  on 12th April, at 13:00. Please make sure you let us know prior to the time of your meeting if you cannot make the time or wish to rearrange.

Thank you once again,

We’ll look forward to seeing you.

Anka Rheinberger
Trost Research Laboratory
Communications Department

That’s it.

I read it three times. The party doesn’t ex ist to me anymore. I may be in the thick of it, but I hear nothing. No music, no sounds, no one’s talking or laughing. It’s just me, my heartbeat and the hollowness in my heart that’s the hurt that I made for myself when I fucked everything up with Levi.

By the time I’ve finished reading, I realise I’m crying. Only just able to hold myself together to not full on sob in the middle of this. And instantly, I’ve already made up my mind. My legs are moving without me thinking, heading through. I just push myself through the crowd, keeping my head down but not paying attention to anyone anyway. Fuck them all. I need to find Levi.

I manage to get out of the door again, panting slightly and tears are dampening my cheeks but I just angrily wipe them away with the back of my hand. No.

I’ve fucked up so much in my life, so much tonight, but I’m not going to just give up on another thing. I’m not going to give up on Levi. Shit happens, but I’m not going to let the world take Levi away from me like they did my mother and my ability to see the world the same way everyone else does.

Fuck. Even if he still hates me, still doesn’t want to be with me, I need to tell him. I need to explain.

I’m going to tell him. Tell him everything. Then if he wants me to leave still, I’ll leave. Won’t push him anymore, I’ll just accept and let him go.

But until then, I can’t lose him. I need to find him and tell him.

I love him.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

LEVI POV

My mind’s blank when I leave Eren’s stupid birthday party.

I don’t know what to think.

I’m angry, there’s a pain in my heart that I haven’t felt for years; it’s almost crushing. I don’t know what to do. Eren asked me to listen to him, he sounded almost desperate and part of me feelings guilty for telling him to fuck off and walking away. Perhaps he genuinely didn’t mean to do what he did. I feel like I perhaps should have heard him out.

But then again, why should I?

This isn’t my fault. No- it is. It’s entirely my fault. I shouldn’t have let myself get so close to him, was I really that stupid? Had I not learnt from the rest of my life that people are pricks, selfish arseholes that don’t give a shit about anyone else. No matter how much you try for them.

Fuck the world and everyone in it.

I’d given too many chances for it to fuck me over and I’m sick of it. Fuck everything. Fuck Eren. Eren can have his fun, he can go kiss and fuck whoever he wants and I’m not going to stop him. I’m not going to do anything.

I just walk towards the train station again, completely sober and my mind is completely blank. I don’t think. Don’t analyse what’s just happened, even though I could feel the hole in my chest growing, aching, demanding attention. I refuse to give it to it though. Just let my legs walk away from the loud party, to the train station and wait for the correct one. I consider- just for a moment- just getting on whatever one comes first and letting it take me away to whatever far corner of the world it was travelling to. But the reminder of Izzy is enough to stop me from doing that. I have to be sensible.

I remember little of the train journey, even less of the walk from there to my flat. I come around when I’m standing in the middle of the familiar flat. It’s big, so big for just the two of us, always has been. Even when Furlan’s around, it’s too big, too cold, too clean to look lived in. I like the clean but right now it’s making me feel lonely. There’s no warmth. The walls have oceans between them and the few islands of furniture aren’t enough to make the place look any less lonely. Probably more so.

I feel it too. Just standing there in the dimly lit entrance, my thoughts taking this as their opportunity to start racing.

I blink and Izzy is there, she must have heard me come in but all I see is the concern written across her face. I hate it; hate that I can’t look after her properly, offer her a proper childhood. She’s sixteen, she deserves so much better than living alone in a far-too-big apartment with someone who isn’t really her brother. Abandoned by parents, uncles, friends. Betrayed by everyone. Or maybe that’s me.

The worlds such a bastard.

“Are you drunk?” I hear her ask, it must have been a few minutes of us standing there silent. Her looking at me and me not seeing anything other than my own fury and hurt.

“No.” I say simply, my voice being enough to prompt me into taking my shoes off and locking the door. Isabel doesn’t move as I do, just stays standing a few yards away simply watching me. I don’t know if Furlan’s here, I don’t know if I woke her up or if she’s just been sitting around waiting for me anyway. Probably waiting for me to come back just to laugh at me drunkenly singing again, making a fool of myself.

Sorry to disappoint you but the world disappointed me tonight.

“Are you okay?” She asks, her question changing but the concern unrelenting.

I sigh, trying to blow the hurt away as I do.

“I’m fine.” Lies. No, I am. I’m fine, I’m always fine. Eren doesn’t give a shit about me so why should I care about him? Fuck it.

“You’re not.” Isabel informs me as I stand back up from tucking my shoes away.

“Go to bed, Isabel.” I say. I’m tired and I don’t want to let her in. I don’t want to let anyone in any more, even my sister.

She doesn’t listen though, doesn’t budge, even as I walk over to the living room sofa to act as if she’s not there.

“Did something happen?” She’s persistent, I’ll give her that. But it’s also bloody annoying; her concern grates against me, making me clench my teeth and have to remind myself to not snap at her. This isn’t Isabel’s fault and I know it.

I flop onto the sofa, my head hitting against the back of it as I huff. Slipping down until I’m lying across it.

“Nothing happened.” Lies. “Just go to bed, Isabel. I’m fine, everything’s fine, so stop fussing and just-just, “I swallow, memories of Eren flooding my mind, “just leave me alone.” I hear myself saying for what feels like the millionth time that night and close my eyes.

It’s funny. I almost laugh. For someone who’s always commenting about how childish the rest of the world is, here I am, closing my eyes to pretend that my younger sister isn’t stood there. Closing my eyes to hide away from her and everything else that makes me feel bad in the world. Considering perhaps, if I can’t see them, maybe they can’t seem me either.

Who am I kidding?

When I open my eyes again slowly, I see that Isabel hasn’t gone. She’s still here, but she’s moved to the living room too. Has settled herself on the other couch, quiet as she pulls her legs up around her chest as she looks at me. I snap my eyes shut again, ignoring her, but her presence makes me feel a little- a tiny, tiny, little- bit better.

I don’t know how much time passes between us, maybe a matter of minutes, maybe hours, but neither of us speak. My mind hasn’t shut off, I don’t sleep, just lie there and think and think and think about everything that’s just happened. About what Eren said and did, how I reacted, what I should do, what I should feel. I pretty much go through every single emotion that I could, but settle on anger for the most part.

To be honest, I’m convinced Isabel has probably gotten up and gone to bed by now, but when there’s a knock on the door and I slowly open my eyes, I see she’s still there. Also, unmoving.

She looks towards the door but I don’t. I’m pretty convinced I know who it is, but I’m not in the mood to see anyone right now even if it’s not him.

“Tell whoever it is to fuck off.” I hear myself mumble as Isabel reluctantly gets up at the sound of another knock. She pauses to listen to me, gives a little nod and a soft smile.

“Leave it to me.” She says, once again knowing how to make me feel ever so slightly better. She’s fighting my corner, even when I’m awful to her and I don’t know how to thank her really. Fuck me, why am I still even awake? I should have just crawled straight into bed and slept away today, maybe even tomorrow. I could have gotten up the day after, pretended it was all fine. See how much time had fixed.

I don’t say anything else and she crosses over to the door again, flooding the flat with the lights of the corridor.

“Isabel- “His voice makes me cringe. Desperate, panting. He’s come after me, but not fast enough to catch me on the way home. Has it been enough time for him to suck Nile off and come back?

“What?” I hear Isabel snap. She’s defensive. Isabel’s smart, she’s putting two and two together and getting four; she knows this is because of Eren.

“Is Levi here? I really need to see him.” Eren starts. I close my eyes again but conjure up images of him stood out there. Ocean eyes flooded with emotion, tears. His teeth worrying at his bottom lip, tugging at the skin as his caramel cheeks shine with the wetness of emotion.

But then again, he’d have to care to look like that.

“Tell him I don’t want to see him.” I manage. I don’t know if Eren can hear me out there but Isabel nods at me, her face travelling from confused through soft to rock hard as she turns back to him.

“He doesn’t want to see you.” She repeats for me.

“But- I have to. Isabel, please, it’s important.”

“No. I just told you, he doesn’t want to talk to you.” She’s firm, almost aggressive. Isabel can be when she wants to, a fiery ball of protection and determination. It hurts even more to be honest, that I’m cowering behind my sister but I don’t want to face this.

“Izzy- “He tries and I grit my teeth. Don’t call her that, you fucking prick. Isabel seems to get the message though.

“Look, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what you did, but you hurt my brother.” She starts, Eren doesn’t interrupt, doesn’t say anything at all and all I can do is listen to her go all protective on his ass. I hate to admit it, but what she’s saying is true. “He doesn’t want to see you and because of that, nor do I. I don’t give a crap if it’s ‘important’ or if you’re here to try and say sorry for whatever shit you just pulled. Just leave, go home. I’m sure Levi will call you when he’s ready and not before, and if he doesn’t then that’s up to him. Not you. You’ve done enough, just give him a fucking break and leave him alone.”

There is silence when Isabel is finished. From all three of us until there’s a chocked sob from the door and my heart breaks all over again. He’s crying; my Eren is crying and because of me. Because of Isabel. Because of him. I don’t know- I’m so confused and I swallow harshly past the lump in my throat, trying to rid myself of the desire to run over to him. Collect him into my arms, tell him it’s okay, that I forgive him and I’m sorry for not listening to him.

But the door slowly closes. I just hear the key locking the door again and Isabel’s suddenly back gently sitting next to me and her hands are up to my face. It’s a soft movement, her face is covered in concern.

“What did he do?” She asks, her voice no louder than a whisper. I fought it, I did. I fought my hardest again it, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t strong enough. I hate it, I do, but I feel myself break at the question.

Fuck me.

 

__

 

A day passes.

Two.

Three.

A week.

I hear nothing more from Eren or none of his friends. I ask Hanji to return Connie’s shirt for me once it’s washed. She does so without complaint but she brings back nothing on the subject of Eren, and I don’t ask about it. He doesn’t text me, doesn’t try and come back to the house and I don’t try anything either.

There’s just this silence between us that I’m not sure I like. No, I definitely don’t like, but after crumbling in front of Isabel, I don’t let it happen again. I won’t. I’m not like that, I don’t cry and now I’ve learnt my lesson. I’m not letting people in, choose to distance myself even more over the days that pass.

Erwin tries and talks to me. Well, he does until he realises he’s only ever going to get a maximum of three word answers from me. He gives up after that, gives me some space.  Hanji’s more consistent, continuously texts me. Probably just making sure I'm still somewhat functioning. She’s gone into her mother mode, worrying and protective which I guess I can tolerate slightly more at the moment than bat-shit crazy Hanji. They all know something’s up, know it’s something to do with Eren and I can only imagine that they’re both talking away to their respective partners about us, pondering and wondering.

Not that there is an ‘us’ anymore.

I’m still angry at him, but as the days pass I grow numb. My walls have successfully been built back up again and I’m back to my stony faced, apathetic self.

I barely sleep.

I guess those are the times that I almost cave against my own feelings and call him. When I’m lying awake, consumed by guilt as I listen to his pleads play over and over in my mind and miss his ocean eyes the most.

Isabel sees me the most, she knows how hurt I am. Not only from the night before but doesn’t comment how she’s noticed the tower I’ve built around myself. It had been slowly demolished since mother died, since bastard of a father abandoned me with only his money as a reminder of his existence. Since Kenny came, offered us hope, and left again. Extinguishing any innocence Isabel had left and any hope we both had for a parental figure.

As many years as it’s taken me to slowly let this tower come down, brick by brick, it’s been built up again quicker than even I could imagine. Isabel’s worried, I know she is.

 I hear her talking during those sleepless nights, sometimes with Furlan there, sometimes on the phone to him asking him what she should do. Wondering if she should bring Eren back over here for me.

Only once I let her know her that I heard her, walking past her on the way to the bathroom in the next morning. I keep it short and sweet, bluntly telling her not to.

I don’t want to see him.

But I do, with all my heart, I do.

I don’t properly consider it until ten days after it all started, when I get a light tap on my door and Isabel’s head pokes around the door. I’m at my bedroom desk, working on some of my project for university. It helps take my mind off everything and my music is loud enough to drown out my thoughts so I focus on work without my thoughts being flooded with Eren all the damn time. It doesn’t really work though. I find the more I work, the more the colour palette of my work changes from its original purples and soft pinks to blues, greens. An ocean mix that I’m taken a back when I realise are exactly like the stupid brat’s eyes.

I’m not aware of Isabel’s presence until I feel her hand on my shoulder. I jump slightly before taking out my headphone, turning to her.

“What?” I half snap. This isn’t Isabel’s fault, I know that but to be honest, kindness is failing me right now.

“You look bloody awful.” She says, her eyes shining in hope of tugging a smirk out of me. Surprise fucking surprise, it doesn’t work.

“Is that all you came in to tell me?” I question, turning back to my work and about to put my headphone back in. She shakes her head though, a frown pulling at her lips again.

“No.” Honest. “Petra’s here.” She tells me, which does make me pause. Petra’s a good friend, she’s one of those overly wonderful people that everyone can’t not love. We’ve got history too, not much though. I believe our relationship lasted a whopping three weeks before I realised she was too good for me and she realised I was about as straight as a fucking curly fry.

She probably realised before I even did.

“Why?” I ask but Isabel shrugs.

“Dunno. She just said she wants to talk to you.” She says. I sigh again.

“Couldn’t you just tell her I was having a shit or something and get her out of here?”

“She’s pretty persistent.” Izzy smirks lightly. “She probably would have waited even if you were trying to squeeze out a shit that you’d been holding onto for a week.”

Ah, Izzy and her adoption of my shit humour. I’m glad I’m teaching her well.

It still doesn’t cheer me up though and I huff, turning off my music and ripping off the other headphone.

“Okay, okay. Fine, I’ll talk to her.” I grumble, but it gets a smile out of Isabel. To be honest, she’s probably just happy that I’m talking to someone other than her and on top of that have just given her a whole- what- seven word.

“Great. I’ll send her in.” She says, smiling softly before taking her leave. I was about to argue, tell her that I’d come out and see her. I’ve been caught up in my room for rather too long, but she’s gone in a blink of an eye so I take the moments between her and Petra in my room to tidy my desk slightly. Just putting my phone to the side and closing the sketch book.

There’s a small tap on my door again and the strawberry blonde hair of Petra pokes her head around, giving me a soft smile.

“Only me.” She says, her voice of snowbells and chimes. I don’t really reply with words, a half grunt that even I don’t know what it means. She comes in anyway, her face soft and gently tucks her hair behind her ear. “You look awful.” She tells me softly.

I grace her with a response this time.

“Thanks but I'm already aware. Isabel’s just told me.” I say and she smiles lightly, walking more into my room. I’m still sat at my desk at this point so she nods towards the bed.

“Can I sit?”

“Go ahead.”

“Thanks.” Short and sweet, I like that. Not that it’s going to last as I have a suspicion I know why she’s here. Petra’s smooth, she’s subtle but she also has a way of speaking sense into people. A kind way of talking that both makes them feel better and realise what the right thing to do is. I guess that’s why she’s studying to be a nurse.

The only problem is, I don’t know if I’m done being angry yet.

She sits anyway and I turn my back to her to carry on with my work, waiting for her to start talking sense into me. It takes a few minutes of silence, but finally she starts.

“Eren told me what happened.” She informs me. I almost cringe at his name, instead I just feel the ache in my heart.

I guess my tower still has some holes; they’ll need fixing.

“From his point of view or mine?” I ask, bitterly. I don’t want to snap, not at Petra anyway, but this conversation is already hurting. She doesn’t waver though.

“His.”

“Okay.”

“He knows he’s hurt you, Levi.” She says and I let my eyes close. I’m not going to break again. I won’t allow myself to.

“Good.” I reply. I swear I hear her sigh but I can’t be sure. Her next question takes a moment to come, I can already tell it’s probably because she’s exasperated with my lack of compliance.

“Will you please look at me?”

I consider ignoring her. But this is Petra. For Petra, I hold no power and I yield. Lay down the spears protecting my tower and slowly turn to look at her. Facing the face full of friendly concern. I don’t speak, just do as she says.

“You’re not going to like what I’m going to say.” She starts, and there’s a thousand ways I could interrupt her. Stop her there, kick her out the house. I don’t want to hear it, but I let her continue anyway. “But I’m going to anyway. Because I care about you, and now I care about Eren too. I understand why you’re hurting, honestly Levi, I do. He’s told me what he did and he doesn’t have to tell it to me from your point of view because it’s obvious. He made a mistake and you’re hurting because of it.”

“It didn’t look like a mistake.” I tell her, clenching my jaw a little. “Did he tell you that?” To my surprise, she nods.

“Yes and you know what, Levi, I believe him.” She says, leaving me once again speechless. “I’m not going to go into the details, that’s for him to tell you. You just need to listen to him.”

“I don’t want to hear what he has to say.” I try again, but she’s doing it. She’s breaking down my walls. Doing her job at making me see sense again, releasing the anger and showing me that right now, I’m being the child again. I’m ignoring him because it hurts, but there’s a reason.

Petra lets out another breath of air. It’s not a sigh, it’s simply a breath. “I know, sweetie. But I’m ninety nine percent convinced once you hear him out, you’ll feel differently.”

“I don’t want to hear his excuses.”

“They’re not excuses.” She cuts off. I swear there might even be a slightly aggressive tone hidden in her words. She sounds almost defensive but it last only a second before she’s back to her soft-spoken self. “They’re reasons.

Excuses. Reasons. I almost as what’s the difference, but the silence allows me to think. Allows my anger to put its hands up, surrender and give up its stronghold over my stupid, fucking tower and allow the guilt to take over.

“I made him cry.” I say quietly, chewing my bottom lip in the most un-Levi like way. I swear, this kid is turning me fucking soft but part of me is desperate for it back. “I told him to fuck off, to leave me alone. I’ve already fucked it up more than it was.”

“You haven’t.” Petra says softly, standing and coming over to me to gently put her hand on my back. “I mean- you did make him cry. But he also hurt you.” She nods. “But you didn’t fuck anything up. Not if you go and listen to him. He’s even more of a mess than you are, if that’s even possible.” She says, offering me a little giggle as I basically do everything in my power to avoid her gaze. “It’s not for me to say either, but he is honestly sorry. You should go to him, hear it from his mouth and try work things out.” She says.

“But- he wants to be with Nile?” It turns into more of a question. A question a stupid five-year-old would ask and I hear that stupid five-year-old in my own voice. Christ, I’m pathetic. Love has made me pathetic.

“Oh sweetie.” Petra says, middle ground between laughing at me and feeling sorry for me. It makes me look at her, but she just shakes her head, a soft smile on her face. “No. No, he doesn’t want to be with Nile. He wants you.”

She sounds so honest that I feel myself starting to believe her. There’s that part of me that’s nagging to not, whispering that she’s lying, Eren’s lying, that if I’m stupid enough to take down my barriers, I’m as good as taking my heart out myself and asking him ‘stab right here please’. But I want to believe her, I want to believer her so bad that the hurt from the kiss has now transformed into a deep-set ache of loneliness. I miss the brat so much. So much that, yes, I’m willing to go over right now and offer him up my stupid fucking heart.

God, I have it bad.

I only manage a nod, but it seems to be enough for her as she softly strokes the back of my head for a moment. Motherly and tender.

“Think about it.” She says. There’s another pause in which she takes her hand back and decides to take her leave, slowly heading towards the door. I don’t really follow her with my gaze, my thoughts clouded over with a million thoughts and a million feelings and I just-

“Try not to give up on him too soon, Levi. You two have something special.” She tells me, offering another small smile as she hangs on my door. “I’ll see you later. Try get some sleep, you look awful.” With that and a smirk, she leaves, closing the door behind her with a gentle click and leaving me with nothing but the empty room and my spinning thoughts.

I don’t know how long I sit there after she’s left.

My mind runs over everything, from kiss to conversation. From the whole relationship, I’ve had with Eren, from the coffee to the harsh parting words that I know I will regret if they’re my last to him. Petra’s right- of course she fucking is. What was I expecting? Petra’s never been wrong; annoyingly enough.

I stand, grabbing my phone and my wallet for the train before heading out. I need to hear him out. So, swallowing my nervousness, my fear and my pride, I head out to do just that.

To hear Eren Jaeger’s reasons.

 

__

 

“What?”

Mikasa is stood in front of me, her eyes narrowed and her lips pulled into a thin line. Fuck me- I didn’t consider having to fight a fucking troll to get to talk to the prince. Too bad I left my spears at home, I guess I’ll have to use my words then.

“I’m here to see Eren.” I reply, my face apathetic.

It’s like a fucking stare down and honestly would probably be rather comical if I wasn’t ready to smack her one. Sure, she’s just protecting Eren like Isabel was protecting me, but I’m tired. Physically and emotionally and I just want to see his eyes, hear his voice and talk to him. Not her.

“So?” She huffs, crossing her arms. “What makes you think I’m going to let you do that?”

“Listen, Mikasa.” I sigh. I don’t even have the energy for one of my glares. “I understand that you’re trying to look out for your brother, honestly I do. If it had been Furlan with my sister, sure I’d probably have punched his fucking face in by now. So, I don’t blame you for hating me, to be honest it’s admirable, sure. But I just want to talk to him. This is between us, okay? You can do your whole protective sister spiel after I’ve spoken to him if it all goes tits up.” I reel off, probably saying more than I have done in- Jesus, I don’t even know how long.

It’s already fucking pissed me off, especially when I know I’m so close to Eren but she’s stood in my way.

She’s annoyingly still for a moment. I can practically hear the cogs working as she considers each out come and which she’d rather deal with.

Let me in and it could end in tears, turn me away and it could end in tears. Turn me away and she’s more likely to deal with Eren’s wrath, let me in and I am.

She takes her sweet fucking time about it, but eventually- fucking finally- she steps aside to let me into the house.

“Leave your shoes there. He’s up in his room. Second door on the right.” She says. I’m about to snap that I know and wasn’t about to trail shit through their house, but instead I keep quiet and does as she said. I don’t need to be picking fights with any more of the Jaeger’s. So, I silently slip them off and leave them next to the family’s. Not that they fit, I feel like I’m no longer invited to be part of the Jaeger’s small family.

When I’m down to my socks, I look at her. My expression softening only a little.

“Thanks.” I say, starting the stairs. “I’ll call you if I need you to come kick my ass.”

She smirks ever so slightly and nods.

“Alright.”

I leave her at that and finish the climb to Eren’s room. I count them as I go, quietly in my head but they answer with the occasional creek. He’s probably heard me coming, but I still stand outside his door for a moment trying to just collect myself. Remember what Petra said and forget what happened the last time we had met. It felt like a thousand years since I had set eyes on my boyfriend- if- if he was still my boyfriend.

My hand finds its way on the door handle, the other giving a gentle knock as I slowly push it forward, opening the door onto Eren’s world.

“Go away, Mikasa, I’ve already told you I’m not hungry.” Eren’s voice, muffled from the duvet of his single bed that’s currently pulled up over his head. Keeping him in and the world out

No wonder he was so excited to stay in my king sized, he’s out grown his by years. I swear his feet must hang off the bottom the little shit’s so tall.

I’m nervous, but step in further and close the door behind me. He’s probably going to tell me to leave. Hell- if it wasn’t for Petra, I would have told him to leave if he had come calling again. But here I am, standing in his uncomfortably messy room, struggling over words because of a shitty brat that I can’t help but feel for with my whole heart.

What a prick.

“It’s not Mikasa.” I manage, my throat dry. My voice barely my own, but he seems to recognise it more than I do as he bolts up quicker than I think I could ever imagine. His hair even more dishevelled than normal and if it weren’t for his puffy, red eyes and for the fact I didn’t feel like laughing, I might have let out a small chuckle at it.

“Levi?” His voice his horse, unbelieving but I just stand there for a moment. We’re both still.

“Sorry.” I say. It’s all he needs really to launch himself out of bed, cross the room and crash into me. His arms around me, hugging me- clinging to me- I don’t know which. Perhaps both.

“Fuck- Levi- I’m so sorry!” He starts. His voice cracks almost instantly with sobs and before I can stop him, he’s crying into me. “I’m so, so sorry. I never meant anything like that to happen- I’m so sorry- I can explain everything, I- you came- I thought you hated me. You probably do, I’m just- please hear me out, I can explain- it was a mistake, I promise you.”

“Fuck, brat.” I manage quietly, my arms slowly wrapping around him too. I bring him in, holding him close to me and I never want to let go. He smells so familiar, so safe. Like he needs to shower and probably needs to change out of these clothes, but still like Eren. My Eren.

“I’m so sorry, Levi. I never meant to hurt you.” He cries, sobbing harshly. I find myself rubbing his back.

“Petra was right.” I mumble to him and he pulls back from the hug enough to look at me. His ocean eyes swimming. “You’re a mess.” I whisper, a tiny smirk pulling at my lips but only to try and lighten the mood. I fucking hate seeing him like this. Eren wasn’t made to cry, he was made to laugh and joke and grin that stupid fucking grin he has.

“You don’t look so hot yourself.” He tries through the tears, tries a smile but it breaks him, wrenching a sob out of him again. “And it’s my fault. I’m so sorry.”

I pull him back into a hug, stroking his hair. Running my hands through it and holding him. “Shh, it’s okay. I’m going to listen to you. I’m here now. I’m sorry too.” I whisper to him. We stay like that for a few more minutes, me quietly comforting him until his sobs have turned to whimpers and his whimpers have turns into soft breathing and nuzzles. I wait until I feel it’s safe to before I pull back, his cheeks are soaked and his eyes are back to read, but I take his hand and lead him to his bed. Ignoring my own prickling eyes.

We sit, fold out legs under ourselves, too unfixed to lie in each other’s arms but not broken enough to allow our hands to not slip into each other’s. He fiddles with my fingers, his gaze fixed on the pale digits instead of my face. Silence lies between us; so much to say but neither of us know where to start. I take the first move.

“Petra came over.” I say, stating the obvious as I know I’ve mentioned her already. Eren nods. “She convinced me to come over. Told me that I should listen to you. I’m sorry it’s taken me this long.”

Eren changes his nod to a small head shake, his gaze unmoving.

“I don’t blame you.” He replies. I worry he’s on the verge of tears again but he doesn’t. Just worries on his bottom lip. “I wouldn’t have blamed you if you stayed away forever.”

“She was very adamant about me not doing that.” I say, which pulls a tiny smile from him. It doesn’t last very long though.

“Still.”

“Still.”

“Do you hate me?” Eren asks, his eyes flickering to meet mine.

“No.” I’m honest. “I don’t hate you, Eren. But I need to hear why.” His eyes go back down, I’m not able to keep them for long enough though I do see the tears that slip down his cheeks again.

“I’ll tell you.” He practically whispers. Let’s out a deep breath. “I’ve decided I need to tell you.”

“Then tell me.” I say, pulling one hand gently from his to wipe across his cheek. Those tears don’t belong there; it just hurts that I’m the one to put them there. “I’m listening, Eren. I’ll hear you out. Whatever you need to tell me.”

I watch him nod, swallow, struggle with whatever it is. Tears are constant now, no sobs but they’re rolling down his cheeks as he grips my hand and looks up at me. Keeps my gaze like if he looks away I’ll vanish. But I leave it at that, don’t speak until he does first.

“I’ve been so scared for so long to tell anyone.” Eren starts. This is bigger than the kiss, the first words tell me that much and it scares me a little. “I know now that I’ve been stupid to keep it a secret, I just guess I’ve always been terrified. I’ve only ever told Petra in full. I don’t know what she told you- “

“She didn’t tell me anything.” I say honestly, which he nods at again. Swallows again, a few more fat tears roll down his cheeks. I wipe them away before they reach his chin.

“You remember I told you my Ma passed away?” He asks.

“Yes.”

“Well, she died in a car crash. We were all there. My dad, Mikasa, Ma and me. Ma didn’t make it to the hospital, her legs- “He stops and I give his hand a squeeze. I don’t really know what this has to do with the kiss but it could have everything   or nothing. But either way, it has everything to do with Eren and I’m not about to stop him. “They told me her legs were the problem. They couldn’t save her. I don’t remember the crash. I hit my head.” He tells me. My face is formed into a deep frown now.

“Shit.” I mumble.

“Yeah. I was in a coma for two days and when I woke up- “He stops again. “I didn’t know who anyone was.”

“You had amnesia?” I ask, frowning but he shakes his head, takes a deep breath and continues, his gaze held in mine now.

“I have something called Prosopagnosia.”

“Prosopag-what?”

“Prosopagnosia.” He repeats and I get almost desperate. It sounds medical- medical shit is terrifying.

Eren,” I almost whine, “I don’t know what that is.”

He has mercy.

“Face blindness.”  Face blindness? “It’s a neurological disorder that means I have the inability to recognise faces.” He explains, which makes my heart rate pick up.

What? An inability to recognise faces- a two-day coma? He hit his head? I know shit all about science and I think that’s what scares me the most. Coma’s are bad news. Disorders are bad news. Head injuries are bad news. He sees my confusion, my panic.

“Is it- is it like- “I stumble, frowning at him. “Are you dying?” I hear myself ask, and he gives a kind of half laugh, half sob thing which practically confirms my fears there and then. It’s just the shake of his head that calms my heart beat ever so slightly.

“I don’t think so.” He says, swallowing past the tears. “I don’t know. I’ve got an appointment. In Trost Research Laboratory with a doctor. He’s going to test me, make sure it’s definitely this and not- “He stops again before letting out a deep breath, “something worse.”

Fuck. Fuck.

“And if it’s not?”

“Then I have Prosopagnosia.” He says, wiping his own eyes. Fuck, I half wish he’d wipe mine. They’re burning again, but so far I’ve managed to hold onto my shitty tears.

“Eren- “I breath out. He continues.

“So,” His gaze is lowered. “This means, I can’t- I can’t recognise people. Everyone’s a stranger to me. If I walked down stairs and didn’t tell myself that it was Mikasa, if I didn’t look for the signs that told me it’s her, I wouldn’t know. Every day it’s like seeing her for the first time.” He explains and I just listen to him. Trying desperately to imagine what he was saying. It’s confusing, it’s hard to get my head around because- well I guess- I’ve never thought about it. Just taken it for granted. “If she changes her hair, if she takes off her scarf or wears drastic make-up then I don’t know who she is even though I’ve spent my whole life with her. Even Dad. Fuck- I don’t even know what my own mother looks like. I look at her picture every day but every time I close my eyes, I forget a-and-”

“Jesus, Eren.” I mumble, rubbing his back comfortingly. What else is there to say? Perhaps that everything he’s saying- well it does explain everything. Everything from him not greeting me in the library properly when we first met to him, losing us in the restaurant, crying at work, even kissing Nile.

 It explains everything.  

“The other day,” He says, closing his eyes against the next wave of tears. “I’m so sorry, Levi. I honest to God thought it was you- I know how shitty that sounds. Fuck- I’m so sorry. I’m sure you don’t even look anything like him, he’s probably an ugly fucker. I just saw undercut and thought ‘hey, there’s Levi’. It’s so shitty of me. I shouldn’t have kissed him. Shouldn’t have said those things. I just- I honestly thought Nile was you, I fucking hate myself for it.” Eren says, a small sob escaping his lips again and I pull him forward, taking him into my arms.

We’re fixing.

“I’m so sorry,” He cries. “I should have known. I just- “

“Shh, it’s okay. I understand. I forgive you.” I whisper to him, making him just cry harder but my hand is rubbing circles on his back as he sobs the worlds sorrows onto my shoulder.

“But you shouldn’t! I hate myself b-because I felt so happy. I thought I’d be able to tell if it wasn’t you because it would feel different. I would know because it would be wrong- but I kissed him and said that shit and still didn’t know. I’m so stupid and I hurt you. I’m always so scared to lose you in a crowd and when I thought I had found you I was so happy; I didn’t even stop to look closer. I didn’t look for more identifiers than your hair.”

“Identifiers?” I ask softly, listening to him and basically just feeling like a fucking arsehole. Eren had a reason, Petra was right, and a completely valid reason. I was such a prick for ignoring him, making him feel like this was his fault when it wasn’t. It was the shitty world at it again.

“T-They help me recognise people.” He explains. “Like Mikasa always wears her scarf, and Armin-

“Looks like a coconut.” I finish, relieved to hear him give a small giggle and nod.

“Armin looks like a coconut. And Dad has his glasses and his hair.”

“And mine?” I ask. Curiosity killed the cat, Levi. But also, fuck it.

“Y-yours are your hair, like your undercut and your tattoos. Especially your neck ones and that- that jacket you have. The one with all the white drawings on it that you were wearing when we met.” He tells me and I feel my eyebrows raise.

“That old thing?”

“Yeah.” Sniff. “It’s really- I don’t know- I’ve never seen anything like it before. I can tell it’s you from a mile when you wear it.”

I soften my expression, my hand back to gently wipe his cheeks and I add a small kiss to it too.

“I’ll wear it every day then.” I tell him, honestly. His eyes widen a little, looking at me for a moment, taken a back before he shakes his head.

“You don’t have to do that.”

“If it’ll help you then of course I will.” That starts him off again, his arms are around me again. Definitely clinging this time, clinging like he never wants to let me go. Perhaps honestly worried that if he does I’ll just slip away into some crowd somewhere and he’ll lose me.

“I’m so sorry.” He starts again. “You shouldn’t have to do that. I should know who my boyfriend is. I should know- “

“Eren, stop.” I say sternly, pulling back to take his face in my hands. Looking into those ocean-eyes. “This isn’t your fault. Don’t beat yourself up over it, it’s not your fault. You didn’t ask for the crash to happen. You didn’t ask to get Proso-whatever- “

“Prosopagnosia.”

“Exactly.” I say and am relieved to see the corners of his mouth twitch upwards. “You didn’t ask for it. But it happened. Shit happens and you’ve learnt to live with it. Unfortunately, alone for a while, but you’re not alone anymore. I’m here and I’ll wear that damn jacket every day if it’ll help you. I’ll wear the same stinky ass clothes every fucking day if it’ll help you.” I tell him sincerely, his gaze locked with mine. His mouth is hanging open just a little, honestly- he’s beautiful and fuck- I’m not lying to him.

“Levi.” He whispers.

“I swear to you, Eren. I will help you. I don’t blame you for anything that has happened, I forgive you and you never have to apologise for your face blindness thing ever again, okay?”

“A-and if it’s something worse?” He asks, back at chewing his lip.

“And if it’s something worse than I’ll be there for you through that too.” I continue. Hoping to fuck that he believes me. I think he does as he’s crying again, his hands gently pawing at my shirt before he gets a grip and clings to me.

“I-I’ve been so scared, Levi.” He sobs, it honestly breaks my heart. He’s been afraid and I’ve been so stupid to not notice. Well, I knew there was something but- fuck me, I’m an idiot. I just pull him into me again, safely holding him in my arms.

“I’m sorry.”

“I- I thought I was alone all these years. I’m so scared of alone. I- I’m so scared that people are going to leave and I’ll never be able to find them again and I don’t want you to leave. I’m so scared of being lonely. I thought everyone would hate me if they knew- I thought you would want to leave me.”

“You’ve got me, Eren.” I squeeze him, trying to hold him together and hold him hard enough to keep my own heart together. “I’m not going anywhere. You’re not alone anymore.”

“T-thank you. Thank you so much, Levi.” He mumbles into my shoulder.

We just stay like that for a few silent minutes. Him sobbing into my shoulder and me letting a few of my own silent tears roll down my cheeks. Yeah, I promised myself that wouldn’t happen but fuck it.

My tower’s down. Eren’s torn it down with his bare hands and he’s taken his place back in my heart, filled that hole and I’m not about to let him go again.

“When’s this meeting at Trost?” I ask him after a few minutes, when we’ve both calmed down to function enough again. He pulls back ever so slightly, blinking tiredly and to me at least, it looks like he’s run out of tears. A pang of guilt, but I push it aside.

We’re fixing.

“It was meant to be today.” He tells me and there’s another pang of guilt. “I didn’t want to go alone.”

“Oh.” I mumble, but he shakes his head, snuggling into my chest as I keep my arms around him still.

“It’s okay. I emailed them, they said it was okay and I could come next week. I don’t know if I want to go anymore.” He says, the quiet coming back for a few moments.

I chose to break it. “I think you should. Do you want me come with you?” I ask and he tips his head up to look at me from where he’s lying. Burrowing into me like a little mole, still clinging.

“You don’t have to. I mean- I- “

“Shh,”my hands back in his hair, messing with the un-ruly strands. “If you want me there, I’m there. If you’d rather take someone else, then you can too. I’ll still be here when you get back.” I whisper to him and he relaxes slowly.

“No. I’d like it if you came. You relax me.” He replies, equally as quietly.

“Then I’m there.”

“Hey Levi,” He starts again from my chest.

“Yes?”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry too, brat.” I reply, voice soft and I hug him tighter, moving just slightly to flop down onto his bed. He’s exhausted, I’m exhausted, and I just want to keep him here in my arms for a while. I’m not ready to let go and I don’t think he’s ready for me to either.

He doesn’t resist as we lie down, in fact he just shuffles closer, one arm still wrapped around me as it’s uncomfortable to lie on arms. His heads under my chin, his hair in my mouth and his feet wiggle their way in to touch mine.

This kid is all limbs, draping over me. Intertwined around me like some sort of vine on his small bed not made for couples.

But we’re safe, back together and I just want to stay here. Keep him safe.

“Thank you.” He mumbles from his little cocoon of body surrounding him. I answer by kissing the top of his head.

“There’s nothing to thank me for.”

“Hey, Levi,” He starts again, his head moves ever so slightly. It’s near my ear, his hot breath on my neck.

“Yes, Eren?”

“I love you.” He whispers. It’s quiet, almost un-hearable, but it makes my heart skip a beat. A rare, genuine smile falling onto my lips.

“I love you too, brat.”