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The bed rocked and hit the wall. It was a sporadic thumping, matching the movements of the two on the bed. Jean had his hand wrapped around the headboard, using it as leverage as he relentlessly pounded into the boy under him.

Eren Jaeger kept his head back, letting Jean fuck the breath out of him. He was shamelessly loud, dragging his nails down Jean’s back. He made Jean work to keep his legs in the air. Hell, he was making Jean do all of the work. He was just on his back, letting it happen. Letting Jean wreck his body. Letting himself get hurt.

But he could always handle a bit of pain.

Jean reached down and tangled his hand in Eren’s dark hair, pulling his head back. Forcing Eren to bare his sweaty throat. Jean leaned down and bit his skin, marking him visibly. Eren let out a long moan, his legs tightening around Jean’s waist.

Eren came with a long groan, his body arching up into Jean’s. It was not long before Jean followed, pulling out to cum on Eren’s stomach. The hot, sticky mess was left untouched as Jean rolled away. Eren was breathless.

The two of them laid on their backs, staring at the ceiling. Eren reached over the side of the bed and picked up Jean’s shirt, wiping his stomach with it. He tossed it aside and Jean hissed.

“You would. Bastard.”

Eren shrugged and rolled over on to his side. “I don’t care.”

That was just it. He didn’t care. He rarely did.

Jean shifted around, turning onto his side as well. However he faced away from Eren, so that their backs were barely against each other. Their hot skin touched briefly but they both pulled away. Eren was tired. He did not want to be touched. He really didn’t even want to talk but he had to ask.

“When does Marco get back?” Eren inquired. It was the only thing he needed to talk about. And it wouldn’t last long.

“Sunday,” Jean replied. “He went home for the weekend. I think he’s just visiting his mom.”

“For a law major you suck at asking the important questions,” Eren muttered.

So it was another one of those weekends. A long weekend where Marco would leave early Friday and come back sometime on Sunday. That was fine. It was just Friday night, so Eren had the entire next day to clean up and leave. It was too late to drive home and he was too tired. And he really didn’t want to stumble in to his apartment and face his sister. Not at one o’clock in the morning.

Jean slapped Eren’s arm. “Shut up. Go to sleep already.”

It wasn’t that easy. Sure he was tired. But he still had to fall asleep. And he wasn’t exactly sleepy. His body was tired and his eyes were still wet, but he wasn’t sleepy. Instead he stared at the window. Beyond the drawn curtain he could see the lights from outside, through the tree limbs.

He certainly wasn’t comfortable. He was never comfortable sleeping in Jean’s bed. It wasn’t because the bed was hard. It had nothing to do with Jean’s snoring. And it wasn’t because he was in Jean’s boyfriend’s spot.

Marco never knew. It had been almost two years and he still had no idea.

It wasn’t guilt that kept Eren up either. It was just unsettling. Something felt empty, sleeping in that spot. It wasn’t his. He didn’t belong there. But where could he ever fit? He had nowhere. And he was sure, it would stay that way.

He suddenly felt cold. He pulled the sheet over his shoulders and curled into a tight ball. He gave Jean a hard kick, just because he could, before falling asleep.

~~~~~~~~~

Eren snuck out of the apartment as early as he could. He did not wake up Jean; not on accident and not to say goodbye. He didn’t want to wake him up. The less interaction he had to make, the better. He slipped right out, taking his keys, and made his way down the hallway and to his car parked outside.

Luckily, Jean did not live far from his own home. It was a little less than ten minutes for Eren to drive from the apartment to his own. But that was where things often got tricky. He could sneak out of Jean’s apartment; but sneaking in to his own was a challenge.

First there was Armin, a childhood friend, who was a light sleeper. And how he managed to be a light sleeper still baffled Eren. The guy had late classes and worked in the evening. Eren always thought that constituted a heavy sleeper but he had woken Armin up on multiple occasions. And each time he received a sleepy earful for staying out so late.

And if he did manage to sneak passed Armin, there was still his sister Mikasa. She was the one he didn’t want to face. At least with Armin, the arguments were short. To the point. Mainly because Armin wanted to sleep. But Mikasa was an early riser; she was already functioning at seven a.m. when Eren was shutting down.

He pushed the key into the keyhole and twisted it. He heard it click and he pushed, holding his breath.

“Eren.”

“Fuck…”

He sighed and walked into the apartment in defeat. Mikasa was already awake. She was tying her shoes, wearing her usual workout clothes. He had hoped he would miss her; get inside after she took off running and before Armin woke up.

“Good morning.”

“Eren, just where were you last night?” Mikasa asked, looking him over. No, she was looking at the bitemarks on his neck.

Eren shrugged and ran a hand over his exposed skin, touching the visible marks from the previous night.

“I was just…out…”

“Don’t lie.”

He huffed. “I was out fucking every guy on the street all night. Better?”

Mikasa sighed, looking down at the floor and shaking her head. The look on her face was pure torment and hurt, all mixed into one.

“Why do you do this…?”

“Mikasa, it is not a big deal. And it is too early to argue this,” Eren snapped. “I’m tired and I want to shower and go to sleep. So can we wrap this up?”

“I’ll talk to you later,” Mikasa said, throwing her hands up. A sign she was exasperated, not defeated. “I cannot handle you in the morning. You’re even more stubborn and stupid before twelve.”

“I am not!”

Mikasa shook her head and picked up her bottle of water. She walked by Eren and pinched his ear.

“Go clean up. And get some rest. You need to sleep more.”

Eren pushed her hand away. He rolled his eyes and muttered “whatever” as she left the apartment. Eren exhaled and stormed off to his room. He grabbed a pair of clothes and made his way to the bathroom.

His much needed shower was perfect. The water stung away the sweat and Jean’s scent. It was refreshing, as much as it hurt. As much as the heat rose from his body. He ran his hands through his hair and over his neck. He couldn’t feel any marks, but he knew they were there. He knew his neck was covered in black and purple bites.

He closed his eyes, letting the water hit his face.

Eren didn’t bother with his clothes. He barely dried off. He curled into his bed, pulling the sheet and comforter around his neck. He didn’t care that his bed was all wet. He didn’t care that his head was all cold. It didn’t compare to the empty feeling in his stomach. He had to wonder to himself, just how he could still feel so alone.

He got what he needed physically without the emotional hurt and without the stress. Without the unbearable pain. It was easier. It was better.

But it was still hurting. Even after he was washed and cleaned and back to himself, it still hurt.

~~~~~~~~~

Eren Jaeger was close enough to his university that he could actually walk to it. But he preferred to drive his car, just for the luxury of not walking home late at night. Or having to ride the rail. And it overall made more sense to him. He was an art student. He had a lot of shit to carry around with him. Keeping it all in his car between classes and while he worked was better than trying to haul it around with him all day.

He left his supplies neatly organized in the trunk of his car. He disregarded the way the rest of his car looked but the area he kept his art supplies in was always cleaned.

He was an art major after all, so he had to make sure his supplies were taken care of. The rest of his books just took up space but made rather nice paperweights. Not that Mikasa really approved of him half-assing his other classes.

But he got by and he passed them, and that was all he really cared about. As long as he wasn’t failing, the letter grade never mattered to him in his literature courses or those biology classes. Both of those were along Armin’s interests, so at least Eren had some help.

Especially with his new course schedule, he knew he would definitely need Armin’s help. He may be enrolled in mostly art courses, but he still had stupid irrelevant classes to take. Stupid shit like math and more fucking math and some criminal justice elective.

He attended Trost University and most of his classmates from high school either attended with him or worked nearby. He was already in his third year, along with Mikasa and Armin. They had all managed to keep up with each other; mostly due to Armin’s cheering on. But it had worked just fine for the last few years (not including the train wreck that was high school) so Eren was grateful for it.

He spent his days lingering around on campus between his classes. He would waste time sketching because studying was out of the question. On some days he would find Mikasa and go with her to the workout room. Or he would have a coffee with Armin. He worked at one of the cafes on campus, after he was finished with all of his classes and he would pray his homework load was never too much.

And on days when he really wasn’t feeling up to dealing with people, he would run to the parking lot to fuck around with Jean. They always used his car, despite it being messy. Jean never wanted to dirty up his own car; which to Eren was more of a code for he didn’t want his boyfriend to suspect anything.

That was the general routine for Eren’s day.

Eren rolled down the backseat window of his car, letting the cool autumn air in. It was refreshing, considering he had been a panting, sweating mess only a few minutes before. Jean was sprawled out against the seat, leaning against the other door. He was fixing his hair, trying to get it to lie back down in place.

Reaching around to the front seat of the car, Eren pulled a pack of cigarettes from his bag, along with a lighter. He lit one and took a long drag, breathing smoke out through the window.

“Feel alright?” Jean asked, peering over the top of the seat in front of him to look into the pull-down mirror. Eren shrugged.

“I’m fine,” Eren breathed, watching lazy smoke swirl out the window. “The weather is really nice.”

“The weather is fucking amazing,” Jean said. “Like your gag reflex.”

Eren awkwardly kicked his leg, laughing halfheartedly. “Shut up. Don’t you have class?”

“It was cancelled. So I’m hanging out with you.”

“Oh great. Isn’t Marco free?”

“Marco has class. You know that.”

“I cannot keep up with everyone’s schedules!” Eren laughed, flicking ash from his cigarette. “I can barely do mine.”

“You’re an art major. How is that even hard?”

“I’m an art major with a shitton of bullshit classes,” Eren sighed.

“Speaking of which, how’s that going over with your parents?” Jean asked. “You switching majors and all…”

Eren inhaled, closing his eyes. He rubbed his head, his brow furrowing into deep lines. “Let’s not talk about that. Please.”

“Fuck, I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright. I’m supposed to go over there later tonight, though. Just remembered.”

“Going to be brutal?”

“I may not come out of there alive.”

Jean patted him on the leg with a hard hand. “You’ll make it through. Your mom was always understanding about this stuff.”

“Yeah, she was. But not my fucking dad. He still hasn’t let it go.”

“Just conceal, don’t feel when he bitches at you.”

Eren kicked Jean again. “How do I even tolerate you at times?”

“Because you’re addicted to dick.”

“I assume you’re talking about your personality.”

Jean mockingly laughed and Eren blew smoke at his face. They laughed and vented about their classes. Eren asked about Marco; Jean about Armin and Mikasa. They talked about their jobs, their dinner plans for the evening. And like always they left with an awkward goodbye. Without so much as a kiss; a hug, but never a kiss.

That was a part of their relationship. They could fuck all they wanted, but kissing was reserved for a real relationship. Jean’s lips were only meant for Marco and he made sure Eren was well aware. They could bite and suck at each other’s skin but never once did they share a kiss.

It was too intimate. And that was a part of himself Eren didn’t want to give up. Not to Jean. At least not again. He had gone through that heartbreak in high school and he didn’t want that dead-end relationship again.

The sex he could handle. Just not the intimacy. Just not a relationship. But there were some days when he wondered, just for a while, what it would feel like to be held again.

~~~~~~~~~

Eren wasn’t rich. Not by any means. His parents—rather his father, Grisha—however were well off.

They lived in a nice, two-story home, complete with a new guest room (that had been Eren’s room) and an unused pool. It was even in a gated community. They each had their own car and could easily afford a maid. However, Eren’s mother refused to let anyone touch her house. Especially since she didn’t work.

Eren parked his car on the street and shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoodie as he shuffled up the concrete walkway. He looked around at the nicely trimmed yard. His dad always had to have the best yard on the block. And he always did.

Pulling out his house keys, Eren rang the doorbell. He always rang before shoving his keys into the lock. It may be his house but it really wasn’t his home anymore.

There was a rustling and he heard loud barking. Seconds later, the door cracked open and he saw his mother’s smiling face. She pushed back the dog, a large German Shepherd, and swung the door wide open.

“Eren!” she cried happily, pulling her son into the house, “oh my baby, how are you?”

“Heh, I’m good mom,” Eren laughed, hugging her back. The dog jumped around their feet and when he pulled away, Eren leaned down rub the dog’s face. “Hello, Colossus! Yes, I’ve missed you too.”

The dog lunged and licked at his face, a squeal of excitement escaping as his tail wagged. Eren pulled the dog into an awkward hug and looked up to his mother. “Something smells amazing, holy shit—”

“Dammit Eren! Watch your mouth!”

“Oh, whatever mom! But seriously, what are you making? It smells really good.”

Carla Jaeger was her name and like Eren she shared the same dark hair and aggressive attitude. But for her son, she managed to tame it a little. She led Eren through the house and Eren had a rush of good memories.

But the bad ones snuck in as intruders in the back of his mind. And as much as he tried to avoid thinking about every screaming fight and every fist put through a wall, all he saw was a war zone. However, he smiled for his mother because, to him, she deserved it. It was never her fault.

“You made chicken and dumplings?” Eren gasped, looking into the large pot on the stove. Colossus bounced around Eren’s legs, knocking in to him.

“Mhm. Just for you.”

“Mom, you always do so much.”

Carla waved him off, setting the table. “Hush, kiddo. You’re away at college. You deserve a home-cooked meal whenever you can get one. You should have brought Armin and Mikasa over.”

“I would have but…you know…the changing majors thing may cause some tension.”

“Oh Eren, don’t bring that up.”

“But you know dad’s going to.”

“Eren.”

“Ma, you know he is. He always does this.”

Carla stormed across the room and into the kitchen. She grabbed Eren by the cheeks, tugging on them tight.

“Eren Jaeger, if you don’t stop being a little shit then so help me I will ground you!”

“Maaaaa—”

The front door rattled and opened. Carla dropped her hands and gave Eren a look that meant she was entirely serious. Eren wasn’t sure how she planned on grounding him—he was twenty-one years old—but if anyone could ground a college student it would be Carla Jaeger.

“Grisha, honey, welcome home,” Carla sang, walking to the entrance hall. Eren slowly followed and peeked around the corner. He caught his parents briefly kiss each other and then his dad looked up.

Eren smiled, trying to be as natural as possible. “Hey dad.”

“Eren. How are you?”

His tone was short. To the point. Grisha dropped his suitcase and didn’t bother to smile.

“I’m good,” Eren replied. “How have you been?”

“Better.”

“Dinner’s ready,” Carla chimed, picking up Grisha’s suitcase and placing it by the door. “Eren and I were setting the table.”

“Good,” Grisha said, walking passed them both. “He’s going to need to learn how to set a table. He’s going to end up a waiter.”

Eren winced, scrunching up his nose. Carla looked around, worry all over her face. She ran over to Eren, silently calming him down as Eren felt a rush of defensive screams boiling in his stomach.

The two of them walked back into the kitchen, watching Grisha take his place at the table. Eren followed his mother to the stove, picking up a bowl and shoveling dumplings into it.

“Grisha, dear, what do you want to drink?”

“Just tea.”

“Eren?”

“I’ll have a glass of water,” Eren replied, carrying the bowls to the table. He set down his dad’s first, then his mother’s, before walking back into the kitchen to grab his own bowl. He hurried to help his mother with the drinks, not wanting his dad to have to instruct him to do anything.

The two of them sat down quietly, Grisha already eating.

Silence fell over them, only the clinking of silverware against porcelain filling the room and the heavy breathing of the dog. Colossus sat by Carla, wagging his tail with a puppy’s grin on his face. Eren laughed, petting him on the head, and the dog turned his nose up to lick and smell Eren’s hand for food.

“Don’t feed the fucking dog,” Grisha said.

“I’m not. I’m just petting him,” Eren snapped back. Carla cleared her throat.

“How are Armin and Mikasa doing?” she asked.

“They’re fine,” Eren said, shoveling more food into his mouth. He watched his dad closely and picked out a piece of chicken. He dropped it on the floor out of spite. “Mikasa is working as a coach’s assistant at Shinganshina High School.”

“Is she really?” Carla gasped. “Congratulations to her! I’m happy she got that job.”

“And Armin?” Grisha asked. Eren inhaled.

“Armin is interning at Stohess Hospital, dad. I’m sure you’ll run in to him at some point. He quit his job at the campus coffee shop so I took over his shift. Well part of it.”

“Don’t overwork yourself, Eren,” Carla said, her tone firm.

“He’s an art major. He can’t overwork himself. He sits around and fucking doodles all day. He needs a real job. At least he’s doing something.”

Eren sighed and picked at his food.

“Grisha, can you not,” Carla snapped. Grisha paid her no attention. “And what about Jean? What’s he doing now?”

Eren felt his stomach dropping. “He’s still planning on studying law.”

“Good on him.”

Grisha threw down his spoon. It was coming. Eren knew it was.

“I can’t believe you dropped out of chemistry, Eren,” Grisha said. “You should have gotten a tutor. But no, instead you go and switch fucking majors. You go from biology to art? Really, Eren?”

“Dad…”

“You’re throwing so much away!” Grisha pushed. “And for what? For a hobby? Eren, get yourself a job—a real job—and do your doodling on the side. Don’t major in it. Art is not something you major in. It will get you nowhere. It’s a fallback, cop-out major.”

“Grisha Jaeger,” Carla snapped, turning to face her husband. “I told you before he even came here that you need to lay off his major. It’s his choice and he can do whatever he wants.”

“And he can end up being some homeless bum, too. And for what, Carla? Because he decided to follow his goddamn dream and major in watercolors!”

Eren felt sick. He felt awful and sick. He set his spoon down and placed his head in his hands.

“I don’t want to be a doctor, dad,” Eren said, shaking his throbbing head. “I understand that you make a shitton of money, but I’m not interested in being a doctor. And yes, it makes sense to have a well-paying job then to do whatever the fuck I want for a hobby but medical…stuff doesn’t interest me like it does you and Armin. Can we leave it at that?”

Eren saw the look on his father’s face and the combination of disappointment and fury. Eren sighed, shaking his head and poking at his food again, as Grisha did the same.

“Your mother and I didn’t raise you to be a quitter,” Grisha muttered.

“Really? Well how did you raise me, because there’s really no one else around to blame,” Eren mumbled back.

Grisha slammed his hand on the table, rattling the plates. “You should have stuck it out! Do you think Mikasa would have quit? Or Armin?!”

“I’m not Mikasa or Armin!” Eren shouted. “They’re doing things that they love! I was shooting for fucking biology because you pushed me. If anyone asked what I wanted to do after high school, you always told them I was going to be a doctor.”

“Because you should have been. But instead you’re just…disappointment covered in paint!”

“Grisha Jaeger,” Carla snapped, slamming her own hand on the table. “Stop it. Stop that now. I am tired of this fighting. Can’t you just, for once, enjoy the fact that your son is home? Can’t we just have a normal, quiet fucking dinner for one evening!?”

Eren’s chest tightened as his father’s last words settled in. Disappointment covered in paint. He was just a disappointment to his father. A big, fucking disappointment.

One apparently covered in paint.

“I think I’m done,” Eren said. “I can’t eat anymore.”

“Eren…”

Grisha stood up, pushing his glasses up his nose.

“I don’t want some bum of an artist living off my money. You’re cut off financially, Eren. No more allowance. No more us paying your fucking bills. Pay your own way through college. I’m not supporting someone who won’t even be able to support himself.”

Eren’s eyes widened. “Y-You can’t do that. Yeah I have a job and yeah I pay for my own shit, but that extra money a month really helps us out. Armin is interning this semester. He doesn’t have an actual income this semester.”

“Yeah but he’s managing. And unlike you, he got himself a scholarship.”

“GRISHA!—”

“No Carla! Get yourself another fucking job, Eren. You don’t even have real classes with real assignments. You can manage.”

Without another word he stormed away, leaving his bowl on the table. He stopped in the kitchen, to pour himself a drink, before carrying on to his study. Eren sat staring at his father’s empty place. Carla pressed her hands to her cheeks, her eyes glassy.

“I’m so sorry, mom,” Eren whispered. “I’m such a fuck-up.”

“Don’t talk like that, Eren,” she said. “Just…please don’t. Help me clean this up. I made a cheesecake…”

“Really…?”

Carla nodded. “Mhm. I’ll pack up some food for you, Mikasa and Armin and some extra cheesecake for you three.”

“Thanks…” Eren smiled, shrugging his shoulders. Carla stood up and kissed him on the head, more hugging him to her chest.

“Things are going to work out, Eren. You’ll see. And you’re not cut off. You’re our son and we want you to succeed, no matter what you choose to do. You don’t need another job. You need to focus on your schoolwork.”

“Yeah but my schoolwork means shit,” Eren gasped, holding back a sob. “I don’t want his money. I’ll…get another job. I…I’m just not going to be a fucking disappointment.”