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Maria University

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For most, moving day is the long awaited and glamorized first step to freedom on the long road to adulthood starting with college. Brochures upon brochures had been piling up on the Arlert and Jaeger household counters for months as their high school seniors made their final decisions of where they wanted to go to school. The choice was simple: Maria University.

Maria University was a land grant college that focused mostly on agriculture and the sciences. They were known for their academic achievements and for boasting a number of famous astronauts, engineers, fashion designers and every branch of ROTC possible. Yes, for Eren Jaeger, Mikasa Ackermann-Jaeger, and Armin Arlert they were sure that Maria University would be the best choice for their varied interests and also allow them to stay close. They were even all going to be in the same dorm.

The morning of move-in day was hectic for Eren and Mikasa. Mikasa had everything packed and ready to go, it was just the amount of things she had. Mikasa had been accepted to prestigious fashion design program as a freshman. She would be starting her major classes’ right from the start and thus she needed to bring all of her sewing supplies, bolts of fabrics, and life size models. Eren, however, was simply a “lazy fuck” as his friend Jean so lovingly liked to call him and had put off packing until the last minute only to stay up all night playing call of duty with Jean. He rushed to put all of his things into the large tubs Mrs. Jaeger had bought knowing her son was less of a fold and stack and more of a shove and hope-to-God-this-all-fits type of packer. Dr. Jaeger was yelling for his son to help him load the car when Armin pulled up in the driveway in his baby blue 2015 Volkswagen, a graduation present from his Grandfather after they received news Armin had received a full ride to Maria University.

Dr. Jaeger wiped the sweat from his brow after laying the male bust inside the trunk. “Hey, Dr. Jaeger!” Armin’s chipper voice and sweet smile made Dr. Jaeger feel a little bit brighter. He’d always enjoyed how smart, polite, and positive Armin was and thought that he was truly a good influence on Eren made him eternally grateful. “Hello, Armin. Are you all packed and ready to go?” Armin shuffled his feet as he attempted to reign in the blinding smile that started to form on his face. “Yes, sir! I packed everything last night. All I had to do was put my essentials in this morning and get dressed.” Armin was wearing worn blue jeans and a Maria University t-shirt. One that Mr. Jaeger would call tasteful since he didn’t enjoy overdone tailgate wear. It was a vintage shirt from the 70s with Maria University in navy blue letters surrounding a navy blue head of Maria as it was called.

The university technically had two sigils: The Head of Maria that adorned most formal invitations and letter heads and The Survey Corps or “Scouts” logo which was arguably the favored logo of students. The football team was called The Survey Corps or Scouts depending on what decade of alumni you were speaking to and were loved even by people out of state. Eren preferred the Scouts logo, a set of wings on a green background with one set of navy blue feathers crossing another side of snow white ones, on all of his school materials while Armin preferred the academic and respectful Head of Maria, another reason Dr. Jaeger like Armin. Armin let Dr. Jaeger continue his work and rushed inside promising to get Eren to hurry up. Eren was just shoving the last bit of his clothes in the nearest container when Armin came in, “Man, we’re going to be late. Check in is at 9:00 and it’s 7:10 now! We’ve got roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes to get there. Is that your underwear?” Armin’s confused tone caused Eren to momentarily pause and turn around, “What?” And then he saw his underwear in the clear plastic tub pressed against the lid for the entire world to see. What immediately drew his eyes weren’t the normal white and black briefs but his cutesy pairs that had dogs, kittens, and even captain America all over them. “Soooo, do you get extra credit in vet school if you wear those or?” Armin smirked as Eren turned bright red. He ripped the lid off and started to unzip the front pocket of his backpack, “S-shut U-up!” Armin snorted and started piling boxes to take down stairs as Mikasa talked with their mother about watching out for Eren and not letting him fail his classes by being unprepared.

Once loaded and goodbyes said the three friend set off, Armin in his Volkswagon, Mikasa in her Nissan Z and Eren in his SUV Porsche. Dr. Jaeger did very well for himself and Mrs. Jaeger came from “Old Money” as Armin liked to call it. Thank God for the Porsche, though. Mikasa’s car couldn’t hold anything but herself and a pack of gum, perhaps.

They drove quickly and upon entering Maria city limits Eren started honking his horn much to Armin’s embarrassment. They were at the check in area in no time, choosing to park as close as possible to their dorm before greeting their moving-in advisers. Eren scanned the tables for their dorm finding it occupied by a tall blonde man with a mustache that made him look like a 80s porn star, a classy one, but a porn start none the less. He was so tall that they couldn’t stop staring. “Hey guys, I’m Mike. I’m a Junior in Mechanical Engineering.” Eren shook his hand asking if Mike was their RA while Armin and Mikasa waited to shake hands as well. “I’m not your RA because I live off campus but I’ll be around often. Can I get your names? There aren’t a lot of people moving in since most that live in here are returning or moved in early for band already.”

Just as Eren was about to speak this ungodly screeching penetrated his mind, crushing him and causing his to nearly jump out of his skin in terror. He then felt himself lifted off the ground and crushed into someone with such force it knocked him breathless. Armin was also crushed into him, though, Mikasa somehow managed to maneuver herself in such a way only her light lila colored silk blouse was clutched in a death grip by whomever was creating that inhumane sound. “Oooooh! Aren’t y’all so cute! I just love y’all! We’re going to be great friends I can tell. Have y’all already got your room assignments or are you waiting? Is anyone going into Medicine? I’m a TA.” The shrill voice echoed against the buildings.

The person holding them wore lab goggles with their pretty dark brown hair pulled back in a high pony tail. They was wearing paint covered khaki shorts and a forest green polo shirt tucked in with a sticker that said “Ask me about science.” Armin read the sticker with some amusement but swore to never ask them about science unless necessary. Mike shuffled some papers around before sighing “They haven’t had their assignments yet. You got carried away before they could answer.” Releasing the three they stepped back and said “Oh, well, I apologize for that. I get really excited about things. My name is Hanji Zoe. Please use They/Them pronouns. I’ll be showing you to your rooms and helping you get settled in today with Mike. Since y’all will be in dorm Dot over here y’all will be seeing us a lot. Can I get your names?” Mikasa was the first to answer “Mikasa Ackermann-Jaeger.” Hanji sifted through files. “Oh…wow you’re lucky. You’re on the third floor and will be only be sharing with two others. Your roommate Sasha Blouse has already checked in.” Mikasa smiled “I didn’t know I’d be sharing a room with Sasha.” Eren was also surprised, “Yeah, what are the chances? I mean almost all of our friends are going here but to end up sharing a room is crazy.” Armin shuffled forward “Armin Arlert.” He gave Mike and Hanji a sweet smile causing Hanji to “oooh” and “aaahh” again until Mike found his file “Looks like second floor and you’ll be sharing with an Eren Jaeger. You two will also have two other suite mates.” Eren and Armin high-fived at the news before all of them followed Mike and Hanji to their rooms.

They’d put in requests to be roommates but that didn’t always work out. They couldn’t imagine living with anyone else in such small quarters. They used to be in boy scouts together mostly because they could suffer the embarrassment of sharing a tent and sleeping bag as long as it was with someone who was aware that Eren snored loudly and Armin used to drool due to a mouth guard to prevent grinding. He was thankful those awkward days were over and he only had to wear the night guard when he was extremely stressed out. Mikasa was kicked out of the girls scouts after an impassioned speech about gender equality and telling the other girls the reason they couldn’t sell as many cookies as her was because they were “weak.” Carla Jaeger had been quite the proud mother even if her son had nearly been kick out after various fights with the Kirschstein boy over capture the flag. Eren explained that who he was and accepted the welcome packet and key just like Armin and Mikasa. Mikasa would be in room 320 and they would be in 218.


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Room 218 had white cinder block walls with one main accent wall in a textured cobalt blue. The beds were empty and ready to be arranged along with the two basic chest of drawers and two desks all made of heavy wood. The bathroom was 20s yellow and white tile with a full tub and shower combo, one porcelain pedestal sink and one “super industrial hospital style toilet” as Eren exclaimed upon entering the bathroom to relieve himself. Armin would just take him at his word. They opened the door to the other suite and Eren let out a loud audible sigh at what they found.

Jean Kirschstein was sprawled on a black shag rug he’d brought from his room back home adjusting his LP collection of classic rock albums and a few awesome indie ones, if Eren was being honest. His bed was made for the most part. Black comforter and white sheets, pillows with geometric prints and his side of the room already had what would surely become a wall to wall collage of band pictures, famous works of art, and his own all over it. Jean was applying to the graphic design program along with taking classes for an Art Education degree. Jean wanted to teach art when he got older. His parents thought it was wise because he’d have something to fall back on but in reality, Jean loved kids and really wanted to work with them and have a large family of his own one day after he had made it big and established himself in the world of art.

Jean loved to draw so much that many of his rough ketches alone won awards while at school. Eren had him paint a family photo for his mother one mother's day and it had delighted her and adorned the dining room wall over the buffet. Whenever guests of the hospital Dr. Jaeger owned came over they remarked on the realistic quality of the painting and the overwhelming sense of love that seemed to radiate off the painting. That was something Eren could have picked at but didn't because no matter how often they fought he really did care about Jean. He could have been a permanent member of the family if Mikasa and he had worked out. They split at the beginning of senior year amicably and Eren never found out why but was glad there wasn't any bad blood or worse. At least Jean hadn't done anything reckless. He was so in love with her Eren thought he might run his shitty pick-up truck off into a ravine for attention or something.

Jean sprung to his feet when the three entered, "Aw hell no. Why do I have to get stuck with you? I came to get away from you, Jaeger!" Eren barked a laugh and held his hands up, “well what can you do?” Despite his attempt at sounding outraged and exasperated Jean was smiling as he rubbed the back of his neck and pushed a few remaining boxes under his bed with his foot. Eren dropped his hands, “I could say the same. I don't want to wake up to the sound of your hectic morning routine of swearing and wreaking utter destruction in that tiny ass bathroom." Eren crossed the room along with Armin to hug Jean. “Hey, I’m not a morning person and neither are you so I’d shut up. Armin is who I should be worried about but he’s been stuck with you for so long he’s probably used to it all.” Jean hugged Armin and ruffled his hair. He had once shown up on Armin’s doorstep late asking, nay begging him, to let him feel his hair and play with it for a painting he was doing. Armin felt like there was a bit more to it but in the name of art he’d allowed Jean an entire week to play with, brush, braid, feel his hair. Armin secretly really enjoyed it.

Mike stood in the door way before clearing his throat ending the reunion. "Well guys, it's nice to know we won't have too many issues from y'all. Your roommate isn’t here yet so when they arrive tell them this: you have two RAs and their numbers and other important phone numbers are on the bulletin boards outside your room along with your names. Put them in your phones now. Leave your names on for the first couple of weeks if not the entire time here in the dorms till the RAs memorize them. It'll also help you remember your rooms and if there are any issues. Feel free to call or text your RAs if there are any problems. The rules are pretty simple. No loud noise after 10. Don't destroy the communal kitchen downstairs. No pets and no overnight guests, if you know what I mean.” Mike winked at the three boys before pushing off the door frame of the bathroom he’d been leaning on.

The three nodded their heads while a small blush washed over Armin. Eren and Jean we're no doubt already planning on disregarding all of those rules and he knew that was going to make them very popular with the RAs for all the wrong reasons. He just hoped they'd not hate him too. Armin just really wanted to be liked. "Alright guys, I'm gunna head out to introduce the others. Hanji showed Mikasa her room upstairs and if you want y'all can head up there before you unpack." Mike turned to leave out through Eren and Armin's room while the three continued to talk. "Who is you roommate, horse face? Is it someone from school? Mikasa got Sasha!" Eren slapped Jean hard on his back, "No, shit head, he's not. I haven't got a clue. His name is Jeeter and he's a ghost. No Facebook, tumblr, twitter or even a real email. Hopefully, he just won’t show and I'll privatize." Jean smirked at the thought of the entire room to himself and everything he’d be free to do without a roommate getting in his way and touching his stuff. So help them God if they got into his watercolors like Eren did that one time. He’d kill them.

The trio made their way up the stairs to the top floor. Armin opened the door to the hall and had the sudden realization that there wasn't an elevator in the dorm. We're going to have to drag everything up these stairs. The first door on the left was Mikasa's suite mate named Annie, apparently. Her name was the only one present. She must be a private. Armin thought. Mikasa's door held both her name and Sasha's except for a tiny addition in elegant script made with a black fine point sharpie. Her name read "Sasha Fierce" and the group burst loudly into laughter. "SASHA FIERCE!" Yelled Eren doing his best runway walk as the door was snatched open to a smiling Sasha, "Oh my God! I know! WHO WROTE THAT?" Sasha started to laugh too while Mikasa and Connie smiled from inside the room. Armin looked to Connie "Did you write this?" Connie shook his head "Naw man, she is fierce though. The RAs must have written it. They put the names up or maybe someone else who moved in did when they passed by." Armin stepped inside "Well, they must be pretty fabulous to like Queen B." The group chatted away about their luck living in the same dorm and how Connie had actually checked in early and offered to help them all move since there isn't an elevator.

Once finished they all went down to their cars and started unloading. A few others stopped by to say hi like Thomas Wagner and Mia Carolina. It was looking like everyone from their school was going to be living “on the wall” as their cluster of dorms was called. The quad was where most people wanted to live since it was in the middle of campus and that's where most honor students stayed. Armin had gladly given up his space to stay with Eren. He never ran late and didn't see the appeal in the "wake up and stroll into class" life. He was happy to be with his friends and was sure he wouldn't regret his decision.

The group finished in about an hour and decided to hang out in Sasha and Mikasa's room till the mandatory RA meeting that night. The meeting would have food and drinks for everyone and a lunch had been provided at the check in tables for them. Munching away Sasha told everyone how excited she was about classes. Both Sasha and Connie were going into restaurant management and had a dream to one day own their own Michelin Star restaurant. Jean swore it'd be nothing but potatoes and more potatoes but an enthusiastic Connie butted in with the addition of "and rare cheeses" causing everyone to snort with amusement.

At 6:00 the group headed down to the main recreation room and communal kitchen. The entire dorm was made of cinder block and reinforced steel ideal for shelter during war. The quad was the safest and had been used as bomb shelters during WWII and the wall dorms were a later addition but built with the same slightly paranoid zeal and precaution that came with a school run mostly by and overflowing with genius engineers and military professionals. Not to mention the site of a nuclear reactor was about a 3 hour drive away and the campus was set up for possible nuclear fall out. Truthfully, there wasn’t a place on campus without some sort of historical significance and or awe-inspiring reason for it’s inception.

On the right was a small sitting area with couches and across from it the front desk where you checked your guests in but everyone used the back doors due to it being the exit to the parking lot and Eren could see that was also how overnight guests were going to be brought in. On the left was the larger recreation room where the meeting was being held with tables for eating and another couch. A large older model TV was set into the wall for communal use along with some board games. It was also where the vending machines were and the kitchen.

The kitchen was spotless and smelled like bleach and pine saw. There was also a list of rules in the same elegant script as before but this time it wasn't so funny. The rules read: 1. Little shits, don't fuck anything up 2. If you didn't bring it isn't yours so don’t fucking eat it or mess with it 3. Put everything back where it belongs or you will find all of your things misplaced as well 4. If you leave trash I will dump it on your bed 5. Wash everything and clean everything with the soap and cleaning supplies under the counter 6.This kitchen is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship and you will follow the rules or you will be punished. I am Stalin and once you cross the iron curtain I control what role you play in this worker’s paradise.

The group read the rules in silence till Eren spoke up, "Wow, whoever wrote those is a tight ass. I can't stand people like that. Like, who the fuck leaves such passive aggressive notes?" He huffed and turned to Armin. Armin couldn’t help the quirk of his lips, "Well, Eren, that's not really all that passive. I'd say it's aggressive and really clear. Don't mess with the kitchen.”He mumbled to himself mostly, “I'm sure it'll be the largest part of this meeting." Armin shifted from one foot to the other since there wasn't enough room for everyone to sit they'd all stood in the back against the cold walls. Just then the room quieted and in walked the most dashing, the most handsome, and commanding man Armin had ever seen.

While he wasn't as tall as Mike he was close. His golden blonde hair had strands of platinum that caught the lights making his hair icy looking. His eyes were bright blue and he had the largest eyebrows that on anyone else would have look hideous but on him they looked spectacular. Armin was so enraptured he'd stopped breathing and awkwardly inhaled right as everyone officially became silent. While not loud enough for the others in room to notice his group of ever watchful friend sure did. A side glance at Jean was all he needed to know that his infatuation was going to be the new fodder for group teasing. Armin quickly returned his gaze back to the figure at the front of the room.

He could feel his face start to flush as he noticed what the man was wearing. He had tight white button up shirt that showed off just how lean and cut he was as the fabric clung onto his muscles when he flexed removing his satchel. He wore tight khaki shorts like Mike had had on and they had miniature Wing’s of Freedom logos on them. Fan merchandise was really moving in a classy direction, Armin thought. He could be a model. Armin wanted to buy the clothes off of him. His face grew hotter as his thoughts become more and more inappropriate. The man turned to face everyone and with the brightest smile that ever graced the planet he saluted with the Scouts salute bringing his right hand in a fist over his heart and said “Welcome guys! My name is Erwin Smith and I’m one of your RAs. The other RA Levi couldn’t be here tonight but you’ll all get to meet him soon enough. Let’s begin, shall we?” Armin was going to have a hard time remembering anything from this meeting.

Chapter Text

Erwin was nothing if not thorough. He took all of the incoming Freshmen through not only what they learned in their Camp Maria sessions, a mandatory 3 day introduction to the university set up like a camp where students can learn about the university and sign up for their classes, but he gave in depth run downs on common issues and crisis situations many find themselves in. He spent a particularly long time explaining what you could set on fire in your room and that was simply: absolutely nothing don’t do it stop it we have microwave watt limits for a reason trust us. Erwin also revealed that he was a junior but he didn’t say in what and that he liked scotch and the colors blue and green but orange was his favorite. Armin felt like a14 year old girl. He had to urge to run back to his room, curl up under his bed duvet and write in his diary about how dreamy Erwin was.

His wish was soon granted when the meeting ended and they were all ready to return to their dorms. Classes started in less than 2 weeks. That would give him plenty of time to day dream uninterrupted. Mikasa pulled on his arm breaking him from his thoughts. “Hey, Armin, I know you’ve just seen your Disney prince but we need to go back up to the room.” Her voice was calm and only a little teasing. She smiled faintly, her eyes standing out against the lilac blouse and Armin was not for the first time a bit stunned at how beautiful Mikasa really was. “Sure,” he nodded but began surveying to see if Erwin was still there, “I guess we should go or maybe we could…stay?” Mikasa raised an eyebrow, “You want to stay and chat with Mister ‘I like Scotch” RA over there?” I’d let him do body shots of scotch off of me…Oh my God, what is wrong with me? “Uhh I mean…yes…no…what would I even say.” Armin sighed in frustration. He was always so level headed and never got rattled this easily. This was a challenge he wasn’t ready for.

Mikasa looked at him with concern until something caught her eye. “Armin, he’s coming over here.” Armin felt himself flush and his body felt like a furnace. His legs turned to jelly before he hears a soft “Hello” from body shot scotch man himself. He’s just like those retired war generals from my favorite historical dramas. I might die here…I can’t do this. Before Mikasa could reply Armin bolted through the open doors, turned the sharp right and ran down to their respective end’s staircase.

Mikasa was left mouth open in front of an equally confused Erwin. She closed her mouth and tried to make things a little less awkward. “He didn’t hear you. He just realized he forgot to call home to tell them everything went fine driving down.” Erwin’s face revealed an interesting emotion that Mikasa was going to keep to herself. He quickly returned to the same friendly one he’d adopted while leading the group and straighten himself before letting a low Santa like chuckle out. “I thought I’d scared him or something.” With that he rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged as Mikasa nodded. “Well, moving away from home isn’t easy and parents take it the worse honestly. Is he their first to go off to college?” Mikasa and Erwin continued to chat downstairs as Armin crawled under the covers of his bed and tried to disappear.

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The next three days were full of interesting developments. Annie Leonhardt and Mikasa had struck up a friendship that puzzled Sasha and the rest of the crew due largely to the fact that both girls seldom spoke and Annie tended to pick at Eren in ways that most back in their hometown would have seen as a death wish. Annie and Mikasa took an elective kick boxing class together that ran year round and often came back roughed up from sparring with one another. Eren asked if she was happy and Mikasa swore she was so they let it be. Annie was strangely sweet to Armin which made Armin ever more confused than he already was. Unfortunately, Armin still hadn’t recovered from his near encounter with Erwin and Jean was in his own personal hell.

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Everyone has a horrible roommate story. Everyone knows someone who was matched unfairly to the absolute worst human being alive and there was no explanation except that they must have done something horrific in a past life to deserve such torture. Jean’s roommate Jeeter was this person. Jeeter was an aspiring burn out with long black unruly hair that sometimes housed small objects or marshmallows from children’s cereals. He had a guitar with only two strings that he strummed throughout the day after making tea that he preceded to spill all over everything, including Jean’s physics books. They only cost him a measly $280.00 but “whatever, man, sure…” Jean furiously thought “your dreams are more important than mine. Spill your tea on my soul next time, please.” Jeeter would walk around in half clothed, talking to Jean and asking him about all kinds of personal things. He definitely brought up some creepy topics. Not just topics that are indeed creepy, no, Jean could live with that. It was the sort of topics that made his stomach clench in unease. It seemed like Jeeter would lead their conversation by asking things like “did you ever go to 4H conference in Nashville?” And when Jean replied that “yes, had he been there as well?” Jeeter would just giggle to himself stating that “no, he lived in New York that year and was never involved in 4H.” It struck him as weird that he’d bring up something that specific but it was a larger conference and seeing that he was an artist perhaps Jeeter just had good deduction skills.

It was also the times where Jeeter knew what Jean’s mother’s maiden name was and a sly comment about a scar Jean had on his hip that he was sure Jeeter could never have seen and therefore, couldn’t have asked about the story of how he even got it. He knew things about where Jean was from even though he’d not lived in the state for a number of years but what really crossed the line was his insistent attempts to get Jean to go to dinner with him or the movies or just stay in the dorm with him and never leave. He had all sorts of video games and movies with him, some never had been opened, but they all had a theme: Jean’s favorites. It was odd that someone would have every single thing that Jean liked.

Perhaps, Jean was getting more mature. He was handling things pretty well for him until he started to observe Jeeter’s night time behavior. Since they had all moved in early that had almost two weeks to get settled before classes started in full. Jean had taken that time to get to know the city and hang out with his friends until the wee hours of the morning. He would come home to the lights out and Jeeter asleep. Laying down in his bed Jean would do his best to fall asleep but that’s when Jeeter’s peculiar behavior would begin. Whether it was because he thought Jean was asleep or not he would watch as Jeeter would slowly rise up into a sitting position in his bed. His eyes were obscured not allowing Jean to know if he was simply gazing at the wall while asleep or if he was as Jean was beginning to suspect gazing at him. This continued and grew worse and worse the later Jean stayed out. He even found him out of his bed one night in the middle of the room. The hairs on Jean’s neck stood up as he saw the statuesque body unmoving. It took everything he had not to let fear get the best of him and yell out. Jean stopped sleeping with his back to Jeeter after that night.

The group first learned of Jean’s personal hell after Eren had found Jean leaned over the tub after the first two days of classes ended. He was pawing at something inside muttering under his breath. Eren peered over his shoulders and saw that all of Jean’s shampoo, conditioners, hair products, and body wash had been poured out to run down the drain. “YO! MAN! WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO YOUR STUFF?” Jean turned to face Eren, his features darkened over and this creepy smile. Eren shivered at the sigh. “Oh, they’re just slipping away along with my faith in humanity. He told me my products were inhumane and contained dangerous chemicals so I guess this is his way of saving me or protesting…” Jeeter had also attached a long winded speech about how there needed to be a cultural revolution or something. It wasn’t really Jean’s cup of tea. After all that had been happening he was reaching his limit. He couldn’t deal with Jeeter anymore. It was then that Jean decided he’d find a way to revolutionize his own living arrangement. He needed to free himself of Jeeter. Jean turned to run his hands through the liquid before whispering and frightening Eren even more, “ Révolution, je t’aime.

As the days went on Jean came back to many things. Once Jeeter and a girl he met on Ok Cupid were on his bed eating cheetos and watching raunchy porn. They were also in some kind of burning man festival wear with feathers and self adhesive glued on jewels. He told Jean if he was jealous he’d send her away. Not knowing how to respond Jean shrugged it off with a laugh and started making a bag to take over to Connie’s. They were going to be up late playing games while Sasha and Mikasa hung out. Jeeter seemed perturbed at Jean’s reaction as he made his way to the front door. Jean felt Jeeter come up behind him pushing the door closed. When Jeeter turned to face him he was smiling and asked Jean if he was interested in a threesome. Needless to say, Jean declined and made his way quickly over to Connie’s.

On another night, Jean woke up to a rustling sound. He couldn’t see anything because of his black out curtains but the sound persisted. When he went to sleep he was the only one in the room. Quickly, he turned on his lamp and what he saw cannot be described. Jeeter was sitting in the middle of the room with bags of miracle grow opened, dirt all over the floor, and countless plant pots. Jeeter had frozen in mid-pat of the soil of one of the plants to look at Jean. They remained silent until Jeeter’s phone began to ring. He answered the phone, told them he’d call them back and then explained to Jean that the seeds knew what time of day it was and they were sleeping so he thought burying them in their new homes at night would be better. Did he wake him and would he like to join him in his adventures of botany?

The group was consistently entertained by Jean’s stories thought they did feel bad. It was only the first two weeks and classes hadn’t even begun yet. For all of this to have happened over was almost too much to believe. Nothing happened to people in real life like this, especially not day after day, right? Living full time with Jeeter wasn’t going to be fun. They made it through the first two days of class without incident and that left Jean feeling a sense of dread for what was brewing.

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The last straw came that Sunday before the first full weeks of class when Jean woke up to Jeeter staring down at him while he slept. He had felt his warm breath on his face coupled by Jeeter’s long white fingers tangled in his hair. His eyes widened in fear as he saw Jeeter’s looming form . He didn’t have time to think. He needed to get away from this guy and quick. He threw his sheets back kicking the books resting on the edge of his table off and ran into the joined bathroom slamming it open against the toilet with a loud bang and subsequent one from slamming it closed. Eren and Armin were awoken suddenly when Jean entered their room. He closed their door, locked it, and got in bed with a squeaking, squawking, blushing Armin. Once under the covers Armin got up the courage to ask what the matter was. Jean stared blankly at the ceiling before replying, “He’s got to go.” This was going to be an interesting night for the three friends.

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The next morning Armin woke up to a very personal side of Jean. His bed was only an extra large twin and one side was pressed against the wall. Jean was pushing Armin into wall as well as holding him. Armin was thankful he wasn't facing Jean since the thought of his morning breath wasn't a pleasant one. Though, a little halitosis would be nothing compared to the awkward boner pressing into his backside right now. Armin tried to break free but the more he protested the more Jean tightened his arms around him. Armin finally decided to just roll himself over and out of the grip. This might have worked if Jean was a graceful person but instead Armin's roll startled Jean and caused him to hold even tighter until he rolled with Armin over the side and onto the floor.

Everyone's bed was capable of becoming a bunk bed with the other roommate's. That means that each bed could be raised or lowered about 5 ft. Of course, most had their beds at the 5 ft mark so they could store their belongings or bookshelves under them and that's what Armin and Eren had done. The fall was going to be brutal and Armin closed his eyes preparing for the worse. Jean landed on his back with Armin on top of him knocking all the air out of his lungs. Jean's sputtering for air woke Eren and had Armin panicking and apologizing till they all woke up fully and started getting dressed for classes. Jean apologized for latching onto Armin while Eren made jokes about how Jean had never sounded more like horse in his life and Armin brushed it off with a “You should find someone else to put your boner on” causing Eren to howl even more at a visibly embarrassed Jean.

Armin was majoring in History and wanted to focus specifically on military history. He hoped to enter the Master’s program and Ph.D program at the school. He was considering law school as another possible alternative degree choice but that wasn't really his passion, more a hobby that perplexed his friends who tried to convince him that video games was a hobby not creating criminal defense strategies. Armin started to get dressed pulling on a beige colored shirt, his dark skinny jeans, and Sperrys while searching for his glasses. He wore contacts most of the time but his glasses were his comfortable option. They complimented his face and were a gift from the Jaegers and that meant they were designer and probably worth more than his car. Armin turned to check himself out in the full length mirror as Eren and Jean were finishing up. Since Jean didn’t want to go back into his room he pulled on some of Eren’s clothes. Eren wore a deep forrest green v-neck shirt, faded blue jeans, and brown tennis shoes while Jean simply left his black Seether band T-shirt on and pulled on a pair of Eren’s darkest blue jeans and some converse. The three started down the hill between the band room and science buildings before stopping at a food truck to grab a quick breakfast.

In between bites of their bagels Eren eyed Jean curiously. Well, he looks fine right now. I don’t want to piss him off but I gotta know what happened last night. Eren swallowed his bite of bagel, following it with some orange juice, “Hey, Jean? What happened last night to make you finally snap?” Jean finished his bagel with a thoughtful look on his face. His whole body language was off. He’d expected him to fly off the handle or launch into a loud rant with a lot of gesticulation. Instead, Jean just threw his trash away, put his hands in his pocket, rocked slightly back and forth before saying “Mmmm well, I think it was when I woke up because of his hot breath dancing on my face. Or, it might have been when I saw him leaning over me or the hand he had stroking my hair? I’m not sure, you know. Maybe it was a little of all of it.” Jean shrugged as Armin froze mid bite of bagel. Eren was sputtering. “W-w-what?! JEAN! Are you okay? He didn’t hurt you, right? He touched you!?”

Students all over the concourse were looking at them from Eren’s sudden outburst causing Armin’s face to flush with embarrassment. Jean seemed unfazed by Eren’s outburst. That made things even tenser as both he and Armin waited for his response. Normally, he’d meet Eren’s outburst with his own short tempered one. Instead, he merely shrugged wiping his hands on his pants. "Listen, he just has to go. I need y'all to help me think of a way to get him out. Until then can I sleep in your room for a few more nights?" Armin and Eren didn't hesitate when replying in unison “yes.” "Alright, I've got physics, French, and a java lab today. I should be back the dorm around 4 this afternoon. When do y'all get done with classes and what are y'alls classes? I’ve never asked." Armin pushed off the wall he'd been leaning on. "I have World History in an hour then World Literature, Biology, and German. I should get back at 2:30pm." Eren continued, "I have Ethics, Anatomy, Wildlife Biology and German. After German I need to check out the small animal clinic so I'll be back around 3:30 at the latest." The trio had made their way into the student center. They agreed that the meeting time would be at 4 in the dorm. Until then, they each wished each other a good day and separated. Today would be a very interesting day for all three.

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Armin’s day:

Armin entered into the large lecture hall as other students trickled in slowly. He was always early to things but when he was especially nervous he would get there with enough time to go over every detail of the room or seating twice. The building where most of his classes were held was called the Command Center. It was a large building with 9 floors about ground and 3 below. It was a square building laid in a grid with sectors A, B, C, D. Most students and alumni joked that they never could figure out how the Command Sector worked and instead had to rely on coke machine or other land marks to find their classes. Other suggested taking a very specific route to all of one’s classes but warned that after a night out one mistake would set one up for tragedy so it’d just be best to go home after that first blunder. Armin didn’t foresee himself surrendering to the Command Center, he would master it.

He chose to sit in the middle section, second row, right on the aisle. He had the perfect view of the podium, the screen for the projector, and the professor if they chose to walk as they lectured. He was so excited to finally begin learning. World History was a core requirement that he could have opted out of thanks to all of his AP classes and junior college transfers he’d done over the summer between the end of high school in May and the beginning of college in late August. Yes, Armin didn’t really need the class but he saw it as an easy credit and had read many reviews about the Russian professor Mr. Boris that had him full of anticipation for what was to come.

Other students started to file in talking loudly, laughing, and complaining about the early 10 am class. Armin opened his back pack and brought out his notebook and pen. The teacher ran in after the start of the class a full 20 minutes late, the class was only 50 minutes, waving his arms around and loudly excusing himself. He was a tall Russian man with dark brown hair and pale clear skin. His hairline was receding but it wasn’t too bad. Armin thought his boxy jaw and prominent nose were striking. He was entirely dressed in Versace. Everything he had boasted the label. It was as if he’d walked off the runway and landed in the middle of their campus. He started handing out the syllabus prattling on about how the syllabus was just like every other one they’d received by now and the only rule was to not use your laptop for anything inappropriate during class.

Mr. Boris leaned on the podium looking down at his Rolex, “Well, let’s end on this note. I need you all to sign the papers on the wall for roll. Your grades will be posted outside on the boards when you have them. Please find your grade by your student ID number. Also, we will have study sessions before every test run by my TA, Erwin Smith. If you have any questions come to my office hours or my TA’s office hours. Make sure to do the reading before next class and I’ll see you all then.” He clapped his hands together and started packing up his things. Armin sat planted firmly in his seat. Other students rejoiced at getting to leave early but Armin continued to stare at the name printed on his syllabus. Erwin Smith was everywhere.

Armin shoved the syllabus into his bag with his note book before heading to Lit and Biology. Both seemed promising and he really enjoyed his Literature teacher. He was a grumpy man with a penchant for wearing all tweed. His idea of a good day was reading the Iliad and chasing students off with threats of burning them with his cigarette buds. He smoked camels as he handed Armin a flyer while leaving to biology. “A book club?” Dr. Blume shrugged, “Yeah, it’s the department’s idea of getting students more involved. I have to help run it. Kind of a form of punishment. You look like you like to read so I thought I’d try and stack the deck with a few kids who’d not be totally worthless. We vote on the theme the first meeting. It’s this Wednesday, don’t be late.” With that he ruffled Armin’s hair and flicked his cigarette bud on an unsuspecting student making his way up the stairs.

Once he got to German things were a little more comfortable. Most of the class contained his friends from back home. Eren, Sasha, and Connie were already sitting inside with Thomas and Mina coming in shortly behind him. They all loved the language and decided to learn on their own while in high school since the only foreign language offered was Spanish. They started chatting about school and how excited they were to start formal classes. Their teacher was well natured man who reminded them more of an old grandpa. His name was Dr. Nadar and he was magnificent. They all sat enraptured at his stories and started a game called “Stadt, Land, Fluß” to pass time on the first day. All in all, Armin was liking college a lot more than high school and was very excited about his prospects and his future encounters with Mr. Erwin Smith.

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The weather had turned off bad as they left the Command Center. Eren pulled at his shirt to cover his ears as the wind picked up. “Hey, Arm, you got your umbrella right? I still have to go to the lot and get my car to go to the clinic but if you don’t have your umbrella you can ride the bus with me over to it and I’ll drop you off at the dorm.” A rumble of thunder followed by the unleashing of torrential rain upon the campus caused both to jump. People scurried into buildings and along the concourse. Armin thought about it, “No, that’s okay Eren. Just go get your car and do what you have to do. I’ll be fine if I hurry and go up the steeper hill over there.” Eren nodded before disappearing back into the building. They were on the fourth floor and he could take the elevator down to the ground and leave out the side to the nearest bus stop.

Armin opened his black and white poka-dot umbrella Mikasa had gotten him for his birthday. He hurried down the concourse and around the outside of the student center passing students by who either didn’t care or had accepted that they were just going to get wet. His shoes were soaked by the time he got to the bottom of the hill that would put him right at his dorm once he walked up it. Armin started a light jog. It was only until he was nearing halfway that he heard the soft meowing of a cat. Armin absolutely adored cats and would know that sound anywhere. He’d always wanted one but his Grandfather was allergic to them and his parents traveled too much to justify getting a pet. Armin heard it getting louder and louder but couldn’t see the cat at all.

He was almost at the top when he noticed that the sound seemed to be coming from a pile of pine straw and other twigs and branches. He ran over and started searching through the straw only to find that it covered a drain and inside the drain, trapped, was a dirty little kitten. Its eyes were large and blue but its fur was so matted with mud and whatever else was in that drain he couldn’t tell what the cat looked like. Armin started pulling at the drain but it was stuck. It must have been removed and then placed back recently because there was no way the kitten could have gotten in or out. He wedged a stick in the corner to try and lift the grate. In doing so his umbrella fell from his shoulder and a crack of lightening startled him causing the kitten to mewl louder and more desperately as more water flowed into the drain. Armin started pulling at the corner, cutting his fingers.

The grate started to lift but soon the water was too much and the kitten was washed out of sight. Armin ripped the grate back shoving his arm into the pipe. He felt around for the kitten. Finally, finding what he thought was the feel of fur he pulled out of the drain. Clutching its tiny form in his arms and checking that it was alive he ran to his dorm, crashing through the door with his ID card in hand and up to his dorm room where he quickly put the kitten in the bathtub.

The tiny thing was distraught, meowing loudly and consistently. Armin turned on the water checking to make sure it was warm but not too warm. The tiny cat tried to crawl out of the tub but Armin put a comforting hand on it, “Shushhh, I know, I know. You’re scared. That was really close wasn’t it?” The cat continued to meow as if responding to Armin. “Let’s get you cleaned up and then you can tell me all about it, hm?” Armin reached for the dawn soap he kept in his caddy. Dawn was safe to use on animals and would cut through whatever the black tar like substance coating its fur was. He lathered the kitten up as it continued to “talk” to Armin. Armin continued to say soothing words while he worked. It didn’t occur to him just how load the kitten was at this time of day when most students were gone. He finished cleaning its fur revealing it to be entirely black except for one paw of white on its right front leg.

Armin kissed the tiny paw as he dried the kitten. It continued to meow and once released it rubbed its body against Armin’s feet pawing its way higher up. “Hmm you sure are cute and talkative. You’ll have to tone it down a bit sweetie.” He reached down to rub behind its tiny ears. It was only about the size of his entire hand and couldn’t be too old. He needed to call Eren and tell him. Picking up his phone he dialed Eren who picked up about the third ring. “Hey! What’s up? I’m just leaving the clinic. You’ll never believe how amazing it is!” Armin could hear the smile in Eren’s voice. “Hey, so…I kind of saved this kitten and now I need your help. Could you get a few things for it? It can’t be that old and-“Eren laughed cutting Armin off “And you’re in love and want to keep it. Got it.” Armin sighed “Yes, so, you’ll help?” Eren cussed out a fellow driver before replying “HELL YEAH! You’re talking to a future vet here. We totally need a small creature living with us dependant on us and breaking one of the rules of our home. This is something I would do, Armin, you do know that right? You’ve finally been corrupted.” Eren’s diabolic laughter filled the room. The kitten was still mewling and peeping around the room as Armin sat at his desk. “Yes, I know. I’ve fallen so far. I used to be respectable and followed all the rules. It only took two weeks for me to cave in to your bad example.” Smirking he listened as Eren feigned a hurt gasp. “Okay, Arm, I’ll get what we need. Just sit tight and I’ll probably beat Jean to the room. He’ll either hate the cat or love it. I can hear it over the phone. It’s got some lungs!” Armin was about to reply when he heard a knock at the door. “Eren, I think he’s here so I’ll let you go.” Hanging up Armin threw his phone on the bed and opened the door shoeing the kitten further back towards his bed. He expected to see Jean’s hazel eyes peering back at him, instead it was the same baby blue eyes that had haunted his sleep for days. Erwin Smith was at his door and Armin had lost the ability to speak.

Armin was so shocked he didn’t notice that Erwin himself was just as speechless. He’d heard the animal noises but had had a long strenuous day and wanted nothing more than to go to his room. It was his fellow RA that had insisted on him checking the noise out that. Upon approaching the origin of the noise he didn’t take the time to check the names on the door. “Ummm” Armin internally cursed himself. Why was Commander Handsome at his door? Why couldn’t he pull it together? “Umm Hello?” At least that was a legitimate attempt. Erwin straightened himself coughing to clear his own suddenly constricted throat, “Hello,” he mumbled, the sound rumbling deeply in his chest, “I’m Erwin Smith your RA and would you happen to be hiding an animal in your room?” Erwin told himself he was definitely not shaking from nervousness, “If not, then I apologize for the inconvenient knock on your door.” His face was stoic and emotionless but inside Erwin was screaming like a little girl about his luck running into the little blond that he had seen at the meeting. He’d been waiting to run into him again but hadn’t had any luck.

Armin was about to deny that he had anything in his room but the tiny kitten had made its meowing way over to the two and was looking up at each of them whining expectantly at them. Erwin’s heart melted when he saw the little animal. He loved cats and couldn’t bare the sight of both this cute little ball of black fur with its one tiny white paw and the sweet cherub in front of him. “Erwin” Armin’s face was pale and his eyes pleaded. His words came out in a rush of nervousness over getting caught breaking a rule and getting caught by the guy who’d been the material for various vivid day dreams, “….I’m so sorry but it was trapped in a drain outside and I brought it in to-“ just then Erwin turned to look down the hall. Armin tried to catch a glimpse of whatever or whoever was there except that Erwin started waving his arms around and laughing hysterically before saying “Noooo. There’s nothing here. It was me! I was making those noises to just get on your nerves! See?!” And to Armin’s delight and horror Erwin started mimicking as best as he could the tiny plaintive sounds of the kitten. His entire neck had flushed red as he grabbed the door closing it on Armin. Armin stood at the door and listened to his muffled words as he ran further down the hall. “What the actual fuck was that?” He turned to face the kitten as it peered up. It seemed thoughtful before making another short peeping noise. Armin picked the cat up and went to sit on his bed and wait for Eren and Jean to return to the room. “Do you wanna watch some TV, honey?” He turned on their TV and started wondering exactly what could have made Erwin act like that.


Jean’s Day:

Jean’s day was a bit more relaxed until he went by the library to grab some coffee and study. Physics was something Jean really enjoyed and his large lecture class was full of other like minded and chill students, save for a corner of pre-engineering students that had come in with club wear from the night before and black Xs on their hands and faces from where they laid on them for a quick nap. His Java lab was going to be a pain but luckily Connie and Thomas were in it with him. Connie was thinking about picking up a computer science minor and had experience with Java from high school. Jean would definitely be sticking close to him come midterms.

Jean kept thinking about Jeeter and all the ways he could legally get him to leave. Maybe he could slowly start removing his things from the dorm till he came home to nothing? Maybe he could try and “out” bad roommate him? Nothing really seemed like it would work. Everything he did could be met with opposition and revenge and that wasn’t something Jean wanted to deal with. He wished he could embrace fully the revolution grandeur of the French and simply denounce him to a sort of people’s court and overthrow him with a well placed storming of the dorm. As he walked into the library he felt a bit hopeful that Eren and Armin would come up with something, well at least hopeful that Armin would.

Jean opened the door to the Caribou Coffee shop. He preferred Caribou to Starbucks because he felt their coffee was better and found Starbucks to be full of only the hipster mac types. Though, that seemed like a very hipster thing in itself so he just told people it was the Mint Chocolate Conditions that made him come to Caribou. That wasn’t a lie.

The shop smelled like warm chocolate and the bustling madness of the atmosphere made him instantly relax. The baristas were rushing around trying to fill order. The sound of espresso pouring into hollow and empty cups coupled with the quick sound of cream spraying out of the can and the clicking of spoons and plastic containers shoved back into fridges out of the way was the musical backdrop as Jean approached the counter. A slim girl with glasses and pale blonde hair with a name tag that read “Rico” was there. She was certainly not his favorite. Her face held a sour expression as she said “What can I get you?” Jean being the equally sour person he is pursed his lips lifting his chin up in a haughty manor. She met his posture with an even more pronounced pout and roll of the eyes. “Mint Chocolate Condition. Dark.” Her small fingers dotted over the board. “Size?” Her tone held little interest. “Large” She finished his order and he paid. “Name?” Jean turned towards her “Jean.” He thought she asked him more to annoy him since she clearly should know it by now. She nodded and disappeared into the mix of other workers.

Jean started to listen to his Ipod as he took a seat on one of the stools. The coffee shop was in an all glass enclosure inside the library by the front desk. The wall he was currently sitting on had a floating desk for computers and books and a perfect view of the WWII section and resources. He loved the library. “Jean! A large Dark Chocolate Mint Condition for Jean.” He twisted in the stool to reach for his coffee off the counter. He held the cup up to his face to smell the chocolate goodness. It was then he noticed that they had written his name on the cup but instead of “Jean” it read “Gene.” He scoffed at the name, memories came flooding back of all the times people had messed his name up on purpose and otherwise. It was a sore spot for him. It was also something that kept occurring by this one jerk of a barista. He knew Rico wasn’t the one to blame.

He left the shop feeling even more sour than before to head back to the dorm. Unfortunately, the sudden torrential downpour soaked him as he made his way to the nearest campus bus. Once on, there was no place to sit so he stood awkwardly between people as the bus rocked to and fro making sudden stops for careless students who dashed across the street. Jean’s mood was reaching a dangerous level. He hoped that once he got to his dorm he’d be able to change in his room without Jeeter’s lingering dark shadow hippie presence, for it was dark and he was everyone’s ultimate dirty hippie stereotype combined with a bit of Mad Hatter flair, there in the room watching Jean.

He wasn’t so lucky as he opened the door. Jeeter’s plant collection took up most of the room and he noticed that his bed had been converted into a bunk bed. Jean couldn’t fathom how he’d assembled the bed without help. What really caught Jean’s eye, though, was his own red and black hammock strung from one wall to the other in Jeeter’s corner where his bed was missing. Jean then noticed his vinyl collection boasting the likes of The Doors, Pantera, and The Animals and various other rare and expensive albums was separated into stacks. Jeeter rolled out of the hammock as Jean approached the stacks. “Hey, man, you’ve got some pretty nice music. I thought I’d take a few of these with me this weekend when I travel to Sina.” Jean couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Like hell you’re taking my shit he thought as he started peeling off the wet clothes.

Jeeter was pressed against Jean in no time with his arms circled around Jean’s waist. His nose was pressed into the nape of his neck where he took an audible inhalation of Jean’s scent. Jeeter’s breath tickled his neck. “What’cha think man. Come with me this weekend? We’ve been dancin’ around ever since we met and you ran out last night without explaining why. Its okay, Jean. Love is love.” Jean’s entire body flushed in rage. He reached back with his left hand grabbing Jeeter’s collar and pulling him around to face him. He reared back fist clenched and was yelling “What the hell man!? Stop fucking touching me and being weird, you freak!” Before he realized what he was doing he had already let his fist loose. It connected with Jeeter’s jaw, an awful crunching noise. Jeeter kicked down on Jean’s leg close to his ankle causing Jean to let go of Jeeter in immense pain. Jeeter rushed Jean and knocked him on the floor where he struggled to pin Jean down. Jean pulled his knee up into Jeeter’s gut with a strong amount of force before punching him again, possibly breaking his nose.

The door to the shared bathroom sprung open as Armin ran in just in time to see Jeeter grabbing the floor lamp. Armin launched himself towards Jeeter knocking him down and allowing Jean time to get up off the floor. Jean was still so enraged that he grabbed Jeeter while he was on the floor and dragged him towards the front door. “Armin! Get up! Open this damn door!” Armin ran over the destroyed room knocking plants over to open the door as Jean struggled to toss Jeeter into the hallway. He was holding onto the door frame when Armin pried his fingers loose and they shut the door.

Jeeter began beating on the door as Jean locked it. “Armin is your door locked?” Armin nodded. “We’ve got to call the RA. What happened?” Jean was still pumped from adrenaline. He was running his hands through his hair kicking things around the already trashed room. “Just call the number Armin. I don’t have time to tell the story twice. I am so fucking pissed off!” Armin ran back into his room with the tiny kitten somehow still asleep atop a mound of blankets.

Armin barely thought about the fact that Erwin would probably be the one who answered the phone. It rang twice before the same deep voice could be heard on the phone that had been making faux cat noises an hour ago. “Hello, this is Erwin Smith speaking.” Armin’s breath came rushing out as Jeeter continued to try and pry the door open in the other room. “Erwin, this is Armin Arlert…you were just up here about an hour ago. Well, there is a problem with my suitemate’s roommate. He’s gone berserk and can you please, please, please come help.” Erwin hung up leaving Armin holding the phone and Jean cursing as Jeeter almost had the door open.

Jeeter began yelling disturbing things about how he “liked them feisty” and if he was into this kind of “kinky shit he could have asked.” Armin began to realize that Jeeter wasn’t just a quirky freshman that most needed to encounter to realize the world was a bigger place made of all kinds of people but he was insane and potentially dangerous. Armin checked the lock on the door to make sure it was locked before he entered the other room to help Jean.

Jean was barely keeping the door closed when Armin added his weight to it. They shut the door and locked it again knowing that even though Jeeter had his key it would take a few precious seconds for him to unlock it again. They heard the key sliding into the lock. Armin moved to hold the deadbolt on the door. It was a struggle against the turning of the lock as Armin kept his grip on the thin stub of metal. It was a tense few minutes that ticked by like hours before both Jean and Armin heard what could only be a tackle of a person outside the door.

had, in fact, been tackled by Erwin and as Armin opened the door they saw a struggling Jeeter underneath the mass of muscle that was Erwin held securely to the floor. Campus police were also there to take Jeeter into custody and question those involved. Jeeter started wailing and moaning making strange comments and threats at Jean and Armin as he was taken down the hall by the police. Erwin stepped in front of the two protectively ready to take him down again if need be. Eren had followed the police up the stairs and was standing with a bewildered look on his face when they all turned around. He let out a breath that he’d been holding since he’d got there holding a few bags from Petco before turning to Jean with a curious look on his face saying, “Well, that problem just took care of itself.”


Eren’s Day:

Eren’s classes had been a mixed bag. Ethics began with the syllabus and a threat to read for the next class period and anatomy began immediately with intense note taking proving that Maria University really did take the Sciences seriously and this was going to be his most difficult course of the semester. His Wildlife Biology class was smaller than what he expected but the course was going to be competitive. Anyone who did well in this class would stand to gain a recommendation from the teacher, a Dr. Grove who sat on the board that accepted or denied students into the vet program. He needed her recommendation and was determined to get it no matter what. His German class was going to be fantastic and he couldn’t wait for the group to get together and study for their first test. He expected it to be his only purely fun class of the semester.

The trip out to the clinic had been interesting to say the least. Unfamiliar with the campus he almost missed the intersection where he needed to turn. After he pulled up to the new all glass small animal clinic with its drop off points for animals of all sizes, for it was connected with the large animal clinic and thus, needed to act as a common place for all patients, and its brand new waiting rooms that had both human and animal’s comfort in mind, Eren knew that this is where he wanted to be. This is what he wanted to do with his life. After getting back in the car he decided to ride around to where the other out buildings are and that’s when Armin called him.

He knew Armin couldn’t resist cats. What surprised him is that Armin was willingly breaking a rule. Of course, he drove to the nearest Petco and got the supplies it would need. He was excited to see it, play with it, and overall enjoy having a small animal around him. Eren dreamed of owning his own farm and veterinarian practice one day full of animals. Whoever he married would need to love animals just as much as him. They would also need to accept that Eren was a child at heart. He was a handful, a hardheaded strong willed generous handful and his friends loved this about him.

Eren arrived at the dorm finding a spot only to see a swirl of yellow police jackets filling in through the back door. Campus police rode bikes normally but a team with a car had parked in the emergency area. Confused, Eren exited his car and followed after them thinking they’d be heading through the first door and to the lobby for some meeting he wasn’t aware of. Instead, they started climbing the stairs and Eren started to panic. He could hear yelling from the first floor and what sounded like someone pounding on a door. Jean’s room was right across from the door to the stairs. Something must have happened. As he rounded the first landing he saw what could only be Erwin Smith’s massive form storming through the white wooden door. The loud thump and yelling caused Eren to push against the police trying to get through to make sure his friends were okay.

Everything went by so fast and soon he was watching Erwin Smith a.k.a Resident Badass Motherfucker taking down an irate scantily clad Jeeter to an internal soundtrack of the bad boys theme song while petite precious Armin with his bloodlust eyes, Armin was no weakling who shied away from violence, stood against the door frame with a long faced Jean in shock. After Jeeter started making threats he felt himself prickle. It calmed him down a bit to see Erwin step in front of Armin and Jean protectively. Who in their right mind would ever mess with that guy? Eren felt a little annoyed that he didn’t get to play the hero but what could he do? He stood there holding his bags until things settled down a bit.

It dawned on him that if the police took Jeeter away because obviously he’d done something bad enough for them to be called then that solved their problem. “Well, that problem took care of itself.” Armin managed a disapproving look. “Yes, but at what cost? Jeeter had Jean pinned to the floor when I got in.” Eren’s eyes widened. ‘Are you serious? Jean? Are you okay.” Jean nodded nursing a sore jaw as bruises started to blossom his exposed skin. “I just want that freak far away from me.” The police started taking statements from Jean and Armin as Erwin stood by and Eren put the things down in their room.

Upon entering he noticed the tiny kitten curled up on Armin’s bed. Remembering the rule about pets he softly picked the edges of the blanket up creating a protective boundary around the sleeping form to keep unwanted eyes from noticing it. Eren paced around the room waiting for the police to finish questioning Armin and Jean. This was not how expected college life to start out. Erwin stuck his head in through the door as Eren thumbed at the pages of a textbook left open on Armin’s bed. “Eren, may I come in? They’re almost finished.” Eren perked his head up, “Yeah. Um, come on in.” Erwin came inside and slowly took in the room.

Eren’s bed was unmade with his clothes strung about in a haphazard manner. His sheets were navy blue and his duvet was in reality a plush sleeping bag with what looked like the Jägermeister Stag on it. It must be some sort of club logo Erwin was unfamiliar with. His desk was unusually neat in comparison. His laptop sat in the center with a lamp, cup of pencils and pens, and a bottle of white out on the right hand side. Erwin figured that Eren must be studious or at least believe in a clean work space. He thought about his own roommate and his peculiarities. This would not at all be acceptable. Erwin did another survey before finding what he was really looking for.

Armin’s side of the room was pristine but welcoming. He had a white shag rug like Jean’s black one and his bed was neatly made. He had pillows of varying sizes all over his white feather down duvet. He couldn’t see his sheets but he figured they were also snow white like the cover. What he really found interesting was the personal library underneath the bed with another mat and pillows creating an out of the way reading nook. He saw such titles as “The Weimar Resource Book,” “Stalingrad,” “The Red Baron,” “Borgia,” The Crusades,” and many more titles that told Erwin he’d have plenty of things to talk with Armin about. What Erwin then looked for was the tiny kitten he’d rescued. He couldn’t find it, or rather, hear it at all.

Eren was looking at the TV anchored to the wall across from their beds. Eren was flipping mindlessly when Erwin cleared his throat, “Eren, where is the kitten?” Eren’s body went rigid. “Uh, what?” He watched Erwin as a shy smile formed. He voice was low almost a whisper, “I know about the kitten. It’s okay. I just want to make sure it didn’t run out. I can’t really help the situation if it isn’t contained, you know?” Eren’s body relaxed. Erwin knew but how? Instead of worrying about it he turned around and lowered the blanket fort around the sleeping cat. Erwin’s lips formed a round “O” before smiling. The tiny lines around his eyes wrinkling up making him look one of the returning soldiers Eren had seen in the countless documentaries Armin made him watch. He couldn’t help but wonder if that was one of the reasons Armin found him attractive. It hadn’t gone unnoticed by Eren his best friend’s infatuation with the RA, especially after hearing Armin wonder aloud about him the past few nights as they settled in for sleep.

Erwin walked over to stroke the soft black fur. “So, Eren, I read you three are from the same hometown. Have you been friends for a long time?” Eren’s mouth quirked up at the edges, “Yeah, Jean and I were enemies growing up. We always competed with one another and he liked my adopted sister Mikasa, she’s upstairs, and as you can imagine that didn’t go over well. Then one day we realized that we weren’t actually enemies but friends. Now, unfortunately, the universe has insisted we be even closer and has forced us to live together.” Eren specifically left Armin out, baiting Erwin. Mikasa had mentioned the incident where Armin ran away after the meeting and she thought Erwin was upset that he didn’t get to talk to him. A little matchmaking never hurt anyone, right?

Erwin nodded taking it all in. He was hoping he’d not have to specifically ask about Armin. He figured Eren would be an open book given what little of his personality he’d seen so he was a bit disappointed. “And Armin?” Eren smiled, “Armin and I are childhood friends. He’s my best friend, actually. He lived with us on and off while his parents were out of the country, they travel a lot and it’s kind of a touchy subject so you might want to wait on asking him anything about them, but then his grandfather moved to the states from Germany when he heard they were leaving him alone and things got better. He and I did everything growing up, boy scouts, school clubs, you name it. He’s pretty much the best person in the world, in my opinion, outside of Mikasa, of course. She’s a whole other story, though.”

He’s pretty much the best person in the world, thought Erwin. Well, then I need to get to know him a lot better and see for myself. The door opened to Jean’s tired face. Armin was holding a bag of ice in his hand and another one he had placed on Jean’s head from where he’d hit it against the tile floor when Jeeter slammed him down. “Okay Jaeger, I don’t want to hear shit from you for a few hours, think you can manage that?” Eren shook his head, “Yeah, just tell me what happened.” Armin started to make a fuss, “Can you talk or do you want me? I know you’re jaw hurts.” Jean nodded, “I can tell’em.” Jean recounted the tale with Armin’s correlation. Erwin and Eren’s expressions were shocked when Jean finally finished. Erwin shook his head. “I’m so sorry Jean. I knew something was fishy with him but when you’re on a campus like this you meet your fair share of freaks or otherwise just different individuals. Singling him out didn’t seem fair but we’d had complaints about his behavior from others in the building. That’s why I made sure to call campus police when I got the call. He’d told a few in the communal kitchen while he was cooking that you two were really close. Implying you two might be beginning a more personal relationship.” Erwin was rubbing his thumb against his pointer finger. Armin watched it as he made tiny circle on his skin. Jean was outraged. “What! Why would he do that? His behavior was insane. If I was ever alone with him for a long period of time while not asleep he’d talk at me but I’m used to faking interest in annoying conversations. I grew up with Jaeger!” Jean stood up knocking his chair over causing Armin to scramble to catch the bag of ice he knocked off. “Did any of you hear this? I don’t understand. My God, I’m here for less than two weeks and this shit happens. Who else does this happen to?!”

Everyone was silent for a few seconds till Armin spoke up, “You never found him online, right Jean?” Jean turned to Armin his face contorted in anger and confusion. “Yeah! I told you I couldn’t find him. I had all the information that the school sent me in the packet.” Armin looked thoughtful. Eren moved to sit on the bed, “Oh no, I’ve seen that look before. What are you thinking.” Armin looked to Jean and then to Eren. “Jeeter may have stalked Jean on social media. He could have accounts that aren’t easily found. I think Jean’s xbox username and information are linked to his facebook. He had access to his email from the letter, he knew how to find Jean with just a quick sweep of facebook all of that information is there. Not to mention searching for usernames and variations of usernames on other sites…it’s possible to narrow it down to the person you’re looking for or at least a small group that you can wade through more easily. I think that from what we’ve seen Jeeter has some issues outside of just being a quirky individual and maybe he came to school already interested in Jean.” Jean’s mouth opened and then closed a few times before Eren said “This is why I’m glad you’re my friend and not my enemy. I wouldn’t have put that together but you’re probably right. He’s more than likely the type to fixate on something or someone and Jean fit that bill. His behavior was erratic but Jean did say he always fawned over him while talking to him and didn’t he invite you out a lot? Like to the movies? Was that him trying to ask you on a date?”

Jean smoothed a hand through his hair. “Maybe…if I look at everything he did in these two weeks it doesn’t seem like something too farfetched. He did ask if I was interested in having a threesome with him and that girlfriend. But, if he had a girlfriend then…why would he tell people I was who he was potentially dating.” Armin shrugged, “Maybe he just meant “friend” and or maybe he was trying to gauge your reaction? Did you agree or anything?” Erwin butted in, “How about we save this for another time. You could over think this to death right now. I’ll tell the police about Armin’s theory when I go to give my statement again as the dorm representative. We’re supposed to make you interview with potential new roommates but I think I’ll just write down privatize on your sheet and you three will be the only ones in this unit. I would like to formally apologize on behalf of the university, Jean. We never meant for this to be like this and any harm you may have suffered is-“ Jean cut him off, “It’s okay. I understand. It’s probably how Armin said it was and if that’s so it could have happened or would have happened to anyone he was matched with. I just want new locks and I’ll be fine. Privatizing is enough for me, Erwin. That and seeing you take Jeeter down like a badass.” Jean smirked as Eren barked a laugh. Erwin’s face flushed, “It’s just habit. Sorry.” Armin was curious, “Habit?” Erwin put his hands in his slacks. “Uh, yes. I was a marine; I was discharged when I was 24. My fellow RA is the same. We met at basic training.” Armin’s eyes widened.

So, sergeant sexy in the military. A plethora of sexy scenarios flashed by in Armin’s mind’s eye before he remembered himself. “24? How old are you now? I think I heard you were a junior.” Erwin smiled, “Yes at the meeting I said I was junior. Nice of you to remember.” His full lips revealed beautiful white teeth as he smiled playfully at Armin. His face was surly red. “I’m 25 about to be 26. I took on a heavy course load and pulled 4 mini summer terms to get to where I am. I’m old. I know. You can call me grandpa.” His deep chuckle caused Armin to laugh as well. “26 isn’t old.” Jean looked back and forth from the two before sighing in sarcastic disgust at them and slinking through the bathroom to his destroyed room. “Eren, let them alone and help me move this bed. I’m gunna make it a queen!” Eren excused himself as Erwin and Armin continued to laugh and blush, stealing glances at one another.

The kitten woke up and started meowing again causing the two to turn to it and stroke it together. “So, are you going to tell me why you left making cat noises or is that something you just do?” Erwin’s cheeks flushed pink amusing Armin, “Well, no. I don’t normally do that. What happened was the noise had been reported to my fellow RA Levi. He’s a stickler for rules and we had an incident with a large amount of birds last year that caused him to nearly go insane. So, I convinced him there was not cat by telling him it was me making the noises just to annoy him. Boy, did I get a lecture.” Armin giggled, “Thanks for that. I was really confused. I don’t normally break the rules so I was kind of freaking out.” The kitten moved to crawl onto Armin. He picked it up holding it to his chest. “What are you going to name it?” Erwin scratched its back moving closer to Armin. “I don’t know.” Armin’s voice was lower than he expected as he looked up at Erwin. Erwin began internally screaming. Armin’s lashes were long like a porcelain doll and he had no idea what looking up at him through them was doing to his old heart. “It’s a boy so that narrows it down a bit. I like his one white paw.” Erwin picked up the tiny paw slightly touching the fabric of Armin’s shirt, “Call him…little foot?” Armin deadpanned, “Like the dinosaur from the Land Before Time? No, Sir. I shall not.” Erwin and Armin started laughing when said kitten turned to meow at them disapprovingly. “He’s so bossy. I think I’ll call him…something like…Commander. What do you think?” Erwin raised an eyebrow, “I like it. But, that’s kind of my nickname” Armin demurred, “you think you can share?” The smirk that appeared on Erwin’s face made the butterflies in Armin’s stomach feel more like fighter jets. “Yeah, just don’t get confused about who you’re referring to.” Erwin then winked.

Chapter Text

After Erwin left dorm room 218 that night Eren made a bee line from Jean’s with a sulking and visibly tired Jean following behind him. “Soooooooo” Eren sing-songed as he sat on his bed, “Did you confess your undying love to our RA yet?” Armin shrugged letting Commander on the floor to wander around. “Hardly. I don’t know. He’s probably not interested. I mean, how many cute freshmen are there and what if he doesn’t like guys? I’ll just see how it goes when he realizes he’s my TA in World History on Wednesday.” Jean perked up considerably, “He’s your TA, too? Man, that’s like some porn stuff. He’ll be offering to help you study in private or start writing suggestive stuff on your tests. If you sleep with him, you might get an easy A. Well, in your case you’d just have fun. You’ll get an A anyway.” Jean and Eren snickered like preteens as they talked in more detail about the gold mine that was Armin’s predicament. “Yeah, yeah. You two will never grow up,” Eren tossed a pillow at Armin, “Since when was growing up ever desirable? I don’t want to pay bills and be boring. I just want to work with animals and have fun.” Jean leaned over, “Yeah and I’ll be my own boss for most of my career and when I do settle down into adulthood it’ll be work with kids and I’ll never have to grow up.” Great, my friends have Peter-Pan syndrome, he thought.

The three stayed up well past midnight chatting. That was probably going to be what many nights were going to be like with them. It was about 2 am when Eren’s stomach started to rumble. “Hey, guys, let’s go to the food hall up here and get some food.” Armin and Jean nodded. They were all really tired but really hungry, too. They’d missed dinner with all the commotion that went on. Deciding that they’d dress for comfort all three pulled on their comfortable clothes. Jean an oversized grey sleep shirt he’d had for years and his red jogging shorts he and Eren had gotten after Six Flags due to the “incident that shall not be discussed” occurred. Eren changed into a long sleeve white t-shirt with the wings of freedom on the back and logo on the front he’d gotten at the university store and his baggy black sweatpants that were tight around his ankles. Jean called them his “hammer time” pants but often stole them when staying over at Eren’s house. Armin opted for a huge baby blue sleeper shirt he’d stolen from either Eren or Jean after they had their growth spurts, white bike shorts, and he pulled his hair back into a small ponytail. He knew Jean and Eren loved it when he put his hair up into a ponytail. It really shocked him but it was what led to the discovery of their sexual inclinations.

When they were all about 13 or 14, Armin would have to count up the months to be exact; a fight broke out between Eren and Jean after a soccer game in which both boys had tried to offer Armin a ride back to their respective houses and Armin had chose Jean simply because he had asked first. Eren was livid that his best friend would have picked that” horse face” over him and had confronted him. Jean was feeling threatened when Armin offered that Eren ride with them and they all eat pizza and play games at Jean’s. This lead to one of the most brutal fights the soccer field had ever seen, but not there last by any means, and Mrs. Jaeger and Mrs. Kirschstein were forced to get involved to break their boys up. Both boys were made to apologize to each other except they became rather vague when explaining the cause of the fight to their parents. It wasn’t until a week later when they were all playing games at their friend’s Thomas’s house that Mikasa let it slip that Eren had a crush on Armin. Armin decided to keep it a secret that he had a thing for the boy that lived down his street named Reiner Braun and tried to squash the new feelings that this information awoke in him. Armin has always like the more bara types but that didn’t stop him from looking at his friend differently.

It wasn’t much later that he found out that Jean also liked him when he presented him with painting of the ocean from a band trip they had recently gone on. Inside the card he was a note that said “read when you’re alone” in which Jean spilled out a page of words that Armin hadn’t known he had it in him to string together. Eren found the note later sparking all three of them to have an awkward conversation about sexuality and unrequited love. Later Jean moved on to Mikasa when she came back from a summer in Japan competing in a competitive fashion workshop. Armin was all but forgotten in that sense and that was fine with him at the time. Reiner Braun moved shortly after leaving him with his school books and thoughts of what things would be like if he were to cross the line with his two best guy friends. He decided that having a little fun wouldn’t hurt anyone. Jean and Mikasa weren’t officially dating and Eren wasn’t seeing anyone.

It was only after a trip to mountains that year Jean and Eren revealed that they couldn’t handle the sight of Armin in a pony tail. He monopolized all smore making materials from both boys as well as choice pick of trails. Jean almost always carried his pack for him without him asking. Armin made sure to exploit it every time he needed a favor of the two or while in the hay day of their sexually frustrated youth a random make out with no strings attached. Now he was wearing it for comfort to keep his long hair out of his face. The other two groaned knowing he was far too cute for his own good. Jean turned to the door, “You’re sinful,” he hissed out as Eren shook his head in disappointment. “You’re just hoping Erwin sees you and falls under the spell of your beautiful hair.”

Armin opened the door and they descended the staircase. He smirked “Brunhild sitzt im hohen Saal, goldenen Haare ueber alle” he sang in his pretty choir boy voice earning him a slap on the arm from Eren. They walked to the Wall’s food hall through the various buildings. Their dorm was at the front and the hall was in the back. It was called Terrel and when the trio walked in what they saw was worthy of the passing gossip the other locals had spread that Terrel was absolutely terrible. The floor was oily but there wasn’t a reason for it to be. Off to the right was a large area for eating and to the left was the cash registers, drinks, salad bar and then directly in across from them at the front along the back wall was the kitchen with a small pizza booth and regular counter. A sign proclaimed that after 10 pm everything would be cooked to order and the menu would be limited. Armin was already eyeing the pizza booth while Jean walked on towards the counter where burgers were being displayed. Eren joined Armin at the pizza counter.

A short blond boy walked over summing Eren and Armin up before nonchalantly changing the open sign to closed and walking away. Eren and Armin exchanged looks like “okay, well that happened” before joining Jean at the other counter. A tall black woman emerged from the back with a list in one hand and a frying pan in the other. “Okay, sweetie, we don’t have any cheese.” Jean shrugged, “that’s okay ma’am. I’ll just take a regular burger and fries, please.” Jean flashed a small smile as she disappeared into the kitchen. “Hey, I thought y’all were getting pizza?” Eren started leaning on Jean’s shoulder, “Yeah, well they apparently were closed.” He made eyes at the boy who walked through the kitchen again and Jean let out a small “mmm” in understanding. “Honey, we ain’t got no burgers either. We got potato wedges, baked beans, and some grilled chicken. You want that?” She waited in the door as Jean just sighed, “Yes ma’am. That’s fine.” She surveyed the others, “You want what he’s gettin’?” Both nodded and waited for their food. Once they got their food and paid they decided to eat in the hall.

Sitting down at a nearby table Jean stared listlessly at his food. Eren noticed, growing concerned that today’s events probably were catching up with Jean. “Are you okay? You don’t look so good.” Jean shrugged, “Yeah, I’m still kind of freaked out. I don’t know if Armin was right but he’s seldom wrong and if that guy had been cyber stalking me or anything then I’m just….I just feel a little….” Armin chimed in, “Violated?” Jean nodded, “Exactly.” Turning when the sound of the double doors opened all they all made no notice of the dark figure entering in a large black jacket perfect for wet weather in the intense August heat. His or her hood was on and obscured their face as they quickly cut over to the drinks, grabbing handfuls of water and other energy drinks. There was a small issue at the cash register but in no time they heard the double doors open and close with the departure of the strange person.

Eren finished his food quickly. He checked his phone to see what classes he had for that day. “Thank God, I only have labs tomorrow.” Armin had given up on life after eating all of his food and some of Jean’s since he wasn’t as hungry as he’d thought. He’d laid his head down on the table, baby blue eyes obscured by wispy strands of his bangs, “What labs are they” he mumbled into the skin of his forearm. Eren set his phone down, “Wildlife Sciences and anatomy.” Armin nodded, “Hey, Hanji is one of the TA’s for anatomy. We’ve been getting coffee the last two weeks and she mentioned it.” Jean perked up, “You’ve been hanging with Hanji? When? We’re with you all the time. We’re your friends, you can’t break out now. I feel like you’re cheating on us.” Armin rolled his eyes as Eren barked a laugh. At least Jean’s feeling a bit more like his self again. “When I go biking around the campus around 6 is when they also go running. We started off running/riding the same sort of route and now I kind of look out for them when it comes to the cross walks and afterwards we end at the library and get coffee together. They’re dating Mike, well sort-of dating, and they think that their TA job will either help things or make it worse.” His fingers traced patterns on the table that weren’t there, “So basically, we gossip and nerd out about stuff.” Jean and Eren chuckled slightly. Jean made his way to get up, “We’ve got to go. I am about to pass out. I just can’t right now…with anything.”

The three made their way back to the dorm in silence. Eren made his way up the steps to slide his scout card that everyone had. It had their student number or what was fondly called by the faculty and students their “cadet” number and allow access to dorms and buildings if you had clearance to enter them after hours. Mikasa had one for the design and fashion buildings and next semester Eren would have access to a small office for his studies if he was accepted early into the vet program. Jean never let Eren forget that he had an entire studio to himself and no matter what it would always be better than whatever closet they were going to stick him in. He loved how nice Jean was to him.

Armin was at the back of the group as Jean pushed on Eren asking him why it was taking so long and did he not know how to slide a damn card? It was then that Armin felt that odd presence of someone watching them. He supposed that wasn’t too strange since someone probably was. It was a well lit parking lot that this cluster of four dorms shared in the center. It only held about thirty cars. Someone could be looking out there window. But, why then was this feeling so…odd? He couldn’t explain it but it made him nervous. Armin started to scan the parking lot and dorm windows when Eren got the door open. He was pulled by Jean into the building and up the stairs away from whatever or whoever was in the parking lot.

Chapter Text

Armin woke the next morning to the sound of his alarm. He had his first lab the same time Eren had his. Both boys were extremely tired as they made their way into the little bathroom. “I’ got ‘ lab” Eren mumbled around his tooth brush as Armin showered. “Take a shower after labs. I got here first.” Eren opened the medicine cabinet grabbing Armin’s hello kitty toothbrush he got as a stocking stuffer gag but actually really loved. “Y’u wan’ ‘his?” A hand appeared out of the curtain, “Put paste on it, please” and then disappeared into the shower. The door opened to Jean’s room, his face was a mess bruised and his hair disheveled. “You two are so damn loud.” He elbowed his way to the sink taking his tooth brush and debating on shaving. This is how they had gotten ready for years when sleeping over at each other’s houses and at sleep away camps and family trips. It was natural, routine, and familiar. Jean was very thankful. This is how they got ready the day after the incident.

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Armin arrived at the science lab with Eren after 10:30. All labs began on the hour so Armin took his time admiring the impressive building of many different types of labs and the ornate decorations and embellishments on the building itself. Carved in the stone the length of one side of the building was the DNA helix sequence and the oath of the apothecary. It was a fine recent addition to the campus promising state of the art technology and more grant money. Eren was on his way to his Wildlife Science lab on the second floor when Armin continued to climb the stairs to the third floor for his Biology class. “Meet here after labs?” Eren shook his head, “No, after this one I have another one.” Armin smiled, “Okay, I’m going to go to the library then. I was invited to a book club meeting today and I’ll go from the library to there. Text when you get out, ‘kay?” Eren waved Armin off with promise to text as Armin continued the trek. I should see if Jean will be free, he thought fishing for his phone as he sat down on the bench facing his lab.

To Jean


Hey, will you be free after my lab? I’m thinking about going to the library.

To Armin


Yeah, I’m in my Art Education class and was going to head over after till my studio space came open.

From Armin


See you at the front, Boo. :-*

Armin shifted the phone away smirking to himself as he heard the familiar cadence of someone running down the hall. Hanji had just arrived and was now waving at him smiling a very relieved smile. “Hello, hello, hello! Am I late? I thought I was going to be late.” Their musical laughter filled the hall as other students gathered around. “Wow looks like it’s going to be packed today, huh Armin?” They nudged him with their elbow opening the door to reveal a very nice all purpose lab. Once everyone was seated Hanj took their place at the front of the room turning on the projector to reveal a power point slide that said “Welcome, Scouts, to Biology for non science majors! Your TA’s are Hanji and Molbit. Let’s get ready for science and Titan slaughter! The class giggled at the slide. The University’s rival was The Titans of Sina University. Everyone despised them and the university. In fact, that’s where most of Armin’s classmates had chosen to go to school. They had a huge fan base that followed the team around mindlessly doing whatever they wanted and being all around annoying. They weren’t a land grant school and thus had a lot of money from donors stacking the deck against Maria University. Most of the fans had never even been to Sina University and they even had programs where you could take a few classes and get a certificate because even they knew how embarrassing it really was to have such a huge base of uneducated individuals representing them. Even so, they were still the big dog in the state. That was fine by Armin and his friends, they preferred underdogs.

The lab went relatively quickly thanks to Hanji’s insight and passion for science. It did end with a trip to the eye washing station for one student and a very upset Molbit, which joined them after the slideshow. He made a remark about having to clean up Hanji’s mess in another lab to which Hanji just laughed slapping him on the back calling him the best and where would they be without them. Hanji had recently discovered a rare virus that caused mutations in rabbits and possibly could cross the species barrier like a type of hot virus and infect humans. Their bunnies Sonny and Bean were their prized possessions and the key to getting them a grant and their Masters secured. They had talked for hours over the course of Armin and their coffee dates with countless slide shows and photos to boot.

Armin left with promises of catching up with Hanji and emailing any questions he might have about today or any day’s lab. Armin texted Jean as he was leaving and made his way to the Library hoping to find Jean in better spirits and a nice cup of coffee, as well. Armin put his headphones on listening to Casper’s Alles endet aber nie die Musik. A little German practice couldn’t hurt.

Jean

Jean’s Educational Art class had been just what he expected. It was full of other undergraduates that had no idea what was going on and varying degrees of art competence. While he was able to easily sift through who was going to drop the class today or not cut it for the strict program requirements there were a few that he needed to watch out for. One was petite girl named Krista who had a lot of promise but some of her submissions reminded him of previously seen paintings but he couldn’t place from where. Her friend Ymir came by to drop off a lunchbox in the shape of a bunny. Jean couldn’t help but think of Armin and his penchant for cute things. He actually struck out and attempted to make friends with her finding out that their studio spaces would be near each other in the art building. Krista was extremely easy to like and talk to. It was crazy how alike to Armin she was from her golden hair and sweet smile to the positive pick ups she supplied at any self deprecating Jean naturally did in conversation. Armin was basically made of marshmallow fluff if you didn't know him as personally as Jean and Eren. Always underestimated and cut throat when it came to games of strategy and sports he had a dark side born out of years of taunting and bullying. As twisted as it was, Jean desperately wanted to know if Krista was the same way. All that pretty plaster on the outside has to be hiding something he mused as he walked to the library sketch book and notes in hand and other supplies in his black swiss backpack.

Jean entered the coffee shop like so many times before. There wasn’t that much of a line so he took his place waiting for the counter. Rico was there but today her personality wasn’t as prickly. She looked at him for a long moment. “You look horrible. Does the other guy look as bad?” Jean shrugged too tired to banter. “Your knuckles tell me yes.” His knuckles were indeed bruised and scabbed from where he’d fought back. A lot more had happened than he previously thought. With all of the adrenaline he hadn’t noticed where Jeeter had clawed at his wrists, where he had punched him in the ribs and stomach. It was a blur to him until he slowly started feeling the aches over the night. Rico darted over to the register typing in his regular order. She stepped over to the side where the pastries were kept before grabbing a gift card and sliding it through the register. “It’s on me. Jean! Dark Chocolate Mint Condition!” she yelled over her shoulder to the workers. “Thanks, honestly.” Jean smiled and walked over to his same stool right by the edge where the drinks were placed.

He didn’t bother getting out his books yet seeing as it wasn’t going to take long to get his coffee. He debated sitting where Armin asked him to but finding a table deeper in the library was much more appealing. He could always text Armin where he was. “Jean! Dark Chocolate Mint Condition for Jean!” Jean swiveled on his stool grabbing the coffee cup. He began drinking and noticed once again his name was misspelled. Now, the other times he could let it go. He could accept that Gene, Jon, Jeanette, Joan, Jen, Jeane, Genien, and whatever other crazy interpretation of his name was on the cup. He understood that having a French mother had it’s draw backs. Most would pronounces his name Jean after hearing his own accented speech or maybe John if they had simply glanced at the name but this was ridiculous. On the cup stood in the same pretty handwriting, which Jean did have to say that it was almost like a professional calligraphers’, “Johnny Boy.” Seeing red Jean stood up and walked over to where Rico was standing. She seemed to understand, possibly after hearing him complain before, and turned to call over a boy from the back corner who must have been involved in the initial process of making the drinks and most certainty the writing of the names on the cups.

Jean slammed the cup down on the counter. It didn’t matter that to many this is a complete overreaction to the situation, nay, that is exactly another reason why it fired Jean up so much. He didn’t care what others thought and yet he did. Rico stepped aside to wipe up the other section of counter since there were no other customers to serve. Jean didn’t wait for the boy to turn around before he started yelling, “Just who do you think you are? Do you think you’re being funny? Consistently, you have messed my name up every time I come in here. Yet, if you would just write it the way you call it out it would be fine. At least pick one fucked up variation and stick with it. What is fucking with you man!? LOOK AT ME WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU!” The boy took off his gloves turning around walking towards Jean. He had dark brown almost black hair, tan skin that had to be genetic for it was so even and golden he seemed to radiate sun from beneath his skin, and his face and body was covered in freckles. A pair of warm dark eyes the color of roasted chestnuts at Christmas time greeted him and the fine lush pale pink lips curved into a sympathetic smile when he reached the counter. Jean’s entire world stopped. It was like every breath was drawn out for hours as he looked at the freckled angel before him. His throat suddenly dry and hoarse swallowed up the rest of his words until only a small hollow aching rattle came out, pitiful in its existence. He had never felt more shame and embarrassment at yelling at someone in his life.

The name tag read “Marco” before Jean fully expected to be struck blind by divine intervention. “I’m sorry. I really like your name, actually and because you pronounce it slightly different each time I was unsure how to spell it the first few times. I heard you complain and I kept trying. When you stopped I kind of thought maybe you liked it and I really enjoyed getting to test out my penmanship on your cups.” Marco was still smiling but moved to hug himself with his arms, a nervous habit. “I had the little song about Johnny Boy1> in my head today and I hoped you’d come in.” He smiled fully now and Jean continued to melt. His brain was on the fritz and true Jean fashion it was intent on putting his entire foot in his mouth. His words came out in a monotone rush, “You know the original is Danny, right. Not Johnny. And my name is Jean. Like Gene but not…” and he dried up again realizing how bad he was making this. Marco laughed lightly as he shifted back and forth slightly. “I know…but I was kind of hoping you’d maybe talk to me one day…It was silly and I apologize for making you so upset. My name is Marco Bodt.” He extended his hand to Jean. Once Jean shook his hand he continued to stare.

He could not believe that this angel wanted to talk to him. “I’m Jean Kirschstein. I’m sorry for being such a jerk.” Marco only nodded, a light blush dusting the top of his cheekbones. “It’s fine, you’re obviously having a bad day. Are you okay? What happened to you?” Jean’s face flushed as he picked at the hem of his shirt. “Uh well…it’s complicated.” Marco held up his hands, “Oh! No! I’m sorry. That was a little personal. I shouldn’t have just blurted that out there. I was just worried.” Jean couldn’t help it, “worried about someone you barely know?” He smirked at the deepening blush on Marco’s face before pulling out his cell phone.

It had been beeping telling him Armin was on his way. “Marco, I have to meet a friend but…could I get your number? Would you like to maybe get coffee sometime?” Marco chuckled, “As long as I’m not the one making it then yes!” Jean handed Marco his phone to enter his number in. As Marco was typing in his number the screen alerted him to another text message. He finished entering his name and number and sent a text to himself with Jean’s name. When he left the message, he could read the beginning of the new one sent to Jean. He’d like to say he wasn’t curious but who is kidding? Everyone is curious. It read Armin “Has my Boo be abducted? :-*” Marco made a point to commit that to memory. Jean smiled like an idiot when he took his phone back. “I’ll be in touch.” Marco smiled as Jean turned to leave. Once outside he waved at Marco like a huge dork through the glass walls.

Armin had made his way past the coffee shop further towards the back of the library where he saw Jean smiling like a madman why sketching. “Hey, you look to be in a better mood.” Armin dropped his books on the table. “Yeah…I don’t want to jinx anything so I’ll tell you later. Cool?” The two settled into a comfortable conversation as Armin looked over his reading. “When is you next class?” Armin looked up, “Technically it should be now but the teacher is super relaxed and we will only meet once every two weeks. If we need him for anything else we can either shoot him an email or go to his office hours. It’s a lot of reading and essays.” Jean chewed on his pencil, “So that’s a higher level History class I bet. No way a freshman requirement would let you off that easy.” Armin chuckled, “Yeah, it’s Middle Eastern History. I asked the teacher over the summer to let me in and he agreed. So, it’s sink or swim time. I actually have a book club meeting to go to in an hour. I told Eren to text you when he go out of lab.” Jean scoffed, “maybe I don’t want to see him?” But he was only teasing and the two went back to their relaxing study session.

It was time for Armin to leave to go to the meeting. He made his way to the 5th floor of the command center to a room that was used for Early Childhood Education majors. It had carpet and children’s books lined the wall with a nook for reading. Sign language maps were also present on the walls along with Korean letter blocks. Armin was among the first to arrive as he took his seat at the front of the room. There were three girls situated in the back, two with dark brown hair and one blonde. They were acting a bit ridiculous in Armin’s personal opinion and their choices of topics were also not to his liking. He’d never been popular and thus never really understood some of things that concerned those he’d considered that. They were discussing some sort of dress swapping for the first football game so that they weren’t seen in the same thing more than once. Armin thought that a bit of an expensive lifestyle choice. They also needed a date. Armin could understand the allure of a date but then he found out if they didn’t have one they couldn’t sit in a certain section? Well, this sort of life seem awfully confusing. Maybe it was best he wasn’t popular or at least had not tried to go Greek.

A few more people appeared all wearing their Greek shirts. Armin was starting to feel out of the loop. Then in walked the last person he expected to see but certainty one he’d hoped to see more often. Erwin shamelessly smiled and made his way over to Armin, almost giddily. He pulled out a chair right next to him, sliding down as he hung his bag over the back of the chair. “Hello, there. I’m beginning to think you’re doing this on purpose. First my dorm, then you take my History class and now here?…tsk tsk tsk…” His tone was laced with playfulness and teasing. Armin was excited. Was that his way of starting up some shameless flirting? It couldn’t hurt. “I could ask you the same thing. Did you get lost? I’m sure there must have been a meeting for dashing and distinguished men in the Eagle’s Nest upstairs?” Armin shot back.

Erwin’s eyebrows rose in delight, feisty”I was unaware that meeting was today. Whatever shall I do? It’s rude to leave now, isn’t it?” Erwin turned his body in his chair towards Armin. He was too big to sit comfortably in most desks but these stand alone chairs were great for comfort and getting up close and personal with your neighbor. Which, he definitely wanted to do. Armin demurred, a small smirk playing at the corner of his lips, “It would be absolutely rude. Especially, since you’ve come and sat by me. If you were to leave, I’d be left alone to fend for myself.” Erwin chuckled, “I think you can take care of yourself but I suppose that must get tiring?” Armin had turned in towards Erwin, “Yes, very tiring.” The two smiled at each other lost in their quiet conversation as Dr. Blume walked in.

Dr. Blume managed a smile at Armin before sulking at the others in the room. Erwin started to slowly make circles with his thumb on the side of his pointer finger over by the knuckle. Armin was starting to notice that this might be a tick of his. Something possibly left over from the army. He wanted to ask but was that too personal? Who is discharged so young? Armin had to get Erwin alone somehow. I have a new mission, it would seem. He thought slyly as Dr. Blume began introducing himself and the point of the club.

Dr. Blume sat down, “Okay, we’re here to meet weekly and discuss our chosen books. Many of you are here simply because of extra credit. Don’t try to lie to me, I know that most of you probably haven’t read anything other than a headline of an article on Tumblr in years.” Erwin lost it and started laughing fully and openly causing Armin to jerk and flush. But, it was the truth. Taking in the offended faces of a few of the students made Armin start to giggle alongside and Dr. Blume managed another small yet satisfied smile. “So, now we vote on a theme. It can be a period, an author, or whatever. Please write your theme down on a sheet of paper and pass it to the front.” Armin reached for his smallest note book boasting the Captain America logo. Erwin snorted when he saw it earning a wicked look from Armin before asking if he could use a sheet.

Armin tore a sheet off sliding it to him before pulling out his pen which was baby doll pink with a sailor moon crescent at the top. If he wants to laugh let him, he’s knows this is bad ass. Armin wrote his suggestion down and folded it. After all of the slips were collected Dr. Blume proceeded to read them aloud. “Okay, let’s see what abysmal topics you all picked.” His hand started opening the papers, “Nicolas Sparks” Erwin and Armin let out a groan, “Nicolas Sparks…and three more for Nicolas Sparks…and some genius put down simply “books”…um…Here we have the last two “War.” Okay, that’s not too bad. I think “war” should be the theme-“ one of the girls from the three raised her hand “Um, if we all voted and Nicolas Sparks won out then that’s what we should read. You can’t just ignore the majority.” Armin was abosutely dying inside. Erwin pinched the bridge of his nose exhaling.

Dr. Blume moved to slip the papers in the trash, “Well, as it most often turns out, the majority is stupid and Nicolas Sparks will not be discussed here. The theme is war. Who chose war?” Erwin and Armin raised their hands. “Armin, and ?” Dr. Blume prompted. “Erwin Smith.” “Okay, well Mr. Smith I’ll ask Mr. Arlert to offer this week’s first suggestion. We’ll spend two weeks on each book and after tonight each person will need to submit to me on canvas a few options. I’ll pick from those and then add a few of my own into the mix and email you all the books. We’ve got a budget for this class surprisingly so any of you who prefer digital books let me know and those who prefer hard copies let me know so I can get a count and buy appropriately. This first book you’ll need to supply yourself. Okay, what will the first book be Mr. Arlert?” Armin had to think for a bit. He mentally scanned his bookshelf at home, “Draußen vor der Tür which would be The Man Outside by Wolfgang Borchert. It’s an amazing book and the English translation is great.” Dr. Blume seemed very pleased. “That is a very good book. I’ll send the email out right now to you all. I know for a fact it is on Amazon for pennies or at least one of your coffees from Starbucks. With that, let’s go home. I only can stand two of you.” Dr. Blume started to close up his briefcase and left.

Armin and Erwin chuckled lightly as the visibly offended and distraught students got their things ready. The three girls in the back were speaking about the “social unjustness that had like just happened” and “what even did that kid say? I can’t speak all the languages. He can’t just pick foreign books.” Armin was secretly satisfied that Erwin had chosen the same topic as him. Erwin moved to stand and Armin was able to appreciate him better than when he first sat down. He had navy slacks and a long thin burnt orange cotton shirt. His hair was perfect and Armin noticed a glasses case outline in his pocket. Those pants fit him like glove. “Armin?” Armin looked up while packing his bag. “Yes?” Erwin smiled, “Would you grace me with your presence a little longer? If you don’t have anything else today more pressing, that is.” Armin would have rescheduled his life if need be. “I’m unengaged. What did you have in mind?” Erwin seemed immensely pleased with himself “Dinner and scotch.” With that he took Armin’s bag and they walked out of the Command center towards their dorm. Armin was grinning like a fool.

Chapter Text

Eren

It is important to know that Eren’s love of animals has been an ever present and all consuming sort of love. He was the boy that kept the fallen sparrow with the broken wing in a shoe box and nursed it back to health. His first dog, Pepper, was there for his homecoming up until he was about 8 when she was accidentally run over in their driveway by a relative. He was heartbroken and inconsolable. She was 14 and blind. A beautiful Australian Sheppard and Dr. Jaeger came home a few months later with a young German Sheppard he named Max. Mrs. Jaeger also came home one day after rescuing a Dalmatian who Eren named pickles at age 8 no one really questioned him. He also had had a herd of cats over his life and a snake. It was always clear that Eren would be involved with animals and that he often preferred them to humans, though only those close to him actually knew that.

When Eren entered the anatomy lab after his uneventful Wildlife Science lab he was greeted to that same screeching noise he’d heard on his first day. Hanji He thought. Turning to see them he was once again caught in huge bear hug. “AaHAahAH Armin said you’d be in this lab. I am so excited. I actually feel like I know you so well after all that Armin has told me. How are you?” Eren took his seat in front of them. “Good, did he tell you about what happened to Jean?” Hanji lowered their head and nodded. “Yeah, actually Erwin did. He’d told us that the guy had been causing some to feel uncomfortable and we’d been keeping up with it like that. It sounded like Armin stumbled onto a possibly if not truly terrifying answer, right?” Eren’s eye widened, “Yeah, actually after he suggested that we went back into Jeeter’s room and he had all of his electronics locked and I mean super locked. It was like, worse than the system’s my dad uses for patient information at his hospital. Unfortunately, a police officer and Erwin are supposed to be removing his stuff from Jean’s room so we won’t be able to poke around anymore.” Hanji’s eyes widened behind their goggles, “Your dad owns a hospital? Which one!?” Eren laughed, “Shiganshina Hospital. I actually told my dad about you and he wants to talk to you whenever you’re free. If you’re not interested in a job then he’d still like to talk to you about your research with the rabbits. I hope you don’t mind but I checked out your research while at the small animal clinic. I’d love to talk to you more about it as well.” Eren scribbled down his father’s phone number sliding it to Hanji. “Eren! Yes! I would love to talk to about Sonny and Bean. My precious little babies. I- OWW!” Hanji’s hands flew up to rub a spot on the back of their head that someone had just hit. A low monotone voice started, “We don’t have time shit head. We’ve got a class to teach and he probably doesn’t have the time it’ll take for you to finish your story.” Eren was shocked by what had just happened. He looked over to see who had the nerve to hit Hanji. A short but very muscular man with jet black hair and steel grey eyes made his way behind them over to the other seat in front of the projector. He had on a tight grey micro fiber running shirt, black cargo pants, and black steal toe boots. His skin was naturally pale but slightly flushed, most likely from running. Eren was still upset that he was so rude to Hanji but all was almost completely forgotten and forgiven when he noticed the black German Sheppard he had with him.

The dog was absolutely stunning. Eren’s eyes appraised how clean it was and shiny its fur was. Healthy and alert is how he would describe this dog. He would also describe it as a damn good service dog. The blue leash and vest told him as much but this dog wasn’t the average support dog. It had military training as well from the tag dangling from its collar and its overall demeanor. Hanji was talking loudly, waiving their arms around, practically begging for attention from the man and everyone else but Eren was lost. He was lost the moment that animal walked in.

The slide show began stating that Hanji and Levi, that name sounded familiar, would be their TAs. Both had past medical experience and if anyone wanted more detail on a subject or to ask how this or that applied in the working world then they could shoot them an email or talk at their office hours. Levi, however, made a point of telling them they’d be better off asking Hanji things and that if they did come to him he wouldn’t talk about anything that had to do with his private life or past work. He wasn’t an open book. Eren thought that seemed rather familiar too but the dog had begun to pant and its face looked like it was smiling and Eren was lost again.

When it came time to start actually doing the lab Eren, who normally is very good at just about anything, was completely lost. He ended up half-assing most of it until someone made a comment about how they had found a fellow half-asser and then the game was set. He finished strongly yielding an almost perfect score on the end of lab quiz but soon fell back into the black hole of cuteness that was the dog. Hanji was talking with other students while Eren waited. He’d hoped to talk to them about their research since he was finished for the day. Instead, he too was hit, albeit lightly, on the back of the head. “Oy, if you keep staring at my dog you’re going to fail.” Levi was standing glaring down at him with an emotionless face. “I-I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I love animals so much. He’s a service dog from the leash but was he also in the military?” Levi cocked his head to the side taking in the boy before him. “He was. How could you tell?” Eren shrugged, “He’s behaved but there’s just a difference in him from some of the other service dogs I’ve worked with. He’s also built and would be perfect for rough work.” Eren was smiling while staring at the dog again. Levi felt his lip twitch. This is the kid Hanji and Erwin wanted me to meet? This kid with the dumb smile… Levi was amused if not a little unsure if that was a good amused or annoyed amused, for in Levi world you can be annoyed and amused at the same time.

”Well, you’ll be seeing a lot of him. I’m also your RA. You live with shota delight and two tone hair boy, right?”Eren’s gaze snapped back up. This is Levi?! This is the guy who has been missing for days and wrote those fucking hardcore rules? Eren stood up, “Yeah, I’d hate to know what you call me. Hahaha” Levi continued to stare. “I don’t call you anything.”My friends left out any real specific characteristics. Now I have plenty of things to call you, he thought. “I’ve only heard of you through Hanji and Erwin.” Eren started to smile. “Really? What did you hear?” Eren was getting an ego boost for sure. Levi couldn’t handle such cockiness. That stupid smile again. What a little shit. He’s so….Levi thought to himself smirking internally. “Nothing really, it’s mostly about shota boy and then recently two tone.” Visibly deflated Eren picked at his shirt. “Oh, yeah. Things have been crazy in dorm 218. I think we’re all hoping for a few lighter days till things settle down. I really hate that this happened to my friends but what can you do? C’est le vie, non?” Eren’s teal eyes swam with warmth and expression, starkly contrasting with Levi’s cool and calculated ones. He’s so…so…”Anyway, I’m very glad to meet you. This is going to be a really good lab what with Hanji leading it. I’m sure something’s going to catch on fire or explode…Um…Levi…ah…?” He is so… “What kid?” Eren shrugged shyly, “What’s his name?” Levi’s brows furrowed, “who?” Then the most rambunctious laughter filled Levi’s ears and body swarming around filling in all of his bad spots warming his soul ever so slightly, “Your dog. What’s his name? I want to get to know him, too.” Oh, he wants to know what his name is Levi thought at he turned to look at his dog. When he turned back up to Eren he noticed that he was giving him almost the exact same goofy loving expression that his dog gave him every day. He opened his mouth, throat suddenly a little tighter, “Donner” he answered a bit quieter than he’d intended. Eren smiled again turning to the dog, “Hallo Donner, I’m Eren and I think you’re great.” Levi stood completely still as his world stopped and then slowly sped up slamming into him with emotion, emotions that were suddenly crashing against the jagged rocks that was his soul. He’s magnificent.

Levi was pulled back to reality when Hanji put her hand on his shoulder. “So, Eren. How about you and I get something to eat? Are you finished with classes for today?” Eren looked down at his phone checking his schedule just once more to be sure. “I am!” Hanji smiled, “Are you hungry?” Eren was about to answer when his stomach did for him. It was so loud in the quiet room that Hanji merely shook their head amused. “What do you want to eat, brat? Are you opposed to leaving campus?” Both Hanji and Eren looked at Levi who merely continued to stare at nowhere in particular. “LEVI! I had no idea you would grace us with your presence! This is a national holiday, Eren, Levi never volunteers himself for any social activity with people he doesn’t really know.” Hanji was grinning from ear to ear when Levi looked at her, “Take that shit eating grin off your face.” Eren wasn’t sure if he should volunteer a place or not. “What about Niffers? I hear they’ve got the best burgers in town.” Hanji was about to say something when Levi spoke, “Not until they get their health rating up.” Hanji tsk’ed, “Levi” she mumbled, “It was only a 94 and you checked the offense. It was a pan left out that got them 5 points that’s hardly a reason to boycott.” Levi was unfazed, “I will not eat anywhere that doesn’t have a 96 or above. I refuse.”

Eren felt slightly ashamed and a bit annoyed. He thought that Levi could stand to take the stick out of his ass but he also thought back to the countless places he and Jean had eaten at that were less than reputable. Not to mention all of the nights he had eaten ramen that spilled on the floor when he was playing games. Actually, now that he thought about it, how was he not dead yet? So many bad choices… “Well, then you pick a place Levi. I’m fine with whatever and Eren’s charts didn’t list any allergies to food so…” Eren wasn’t surprised that Hanji had somehow gotten into his medical records. Erwin did have all of that information. “That’s a violation of HIPPA, Hanji.” Levi made the tiniest of snorts. Eren wasn’t sure if he even heard him or if that was simply the product of allergies. His face betrayed nothing. Hanji on the other hand took it as a laugh and Eren watched as her eyes comically grew to the size of kiwis. “My God, you’ve made Levi laugh and at my expense, too. It’s like you were made for this group of friends.” They slapped their knee in delight as Levi murmured, “Let’s go to the Irish Pub downtown.” Hanji jumped, “I’ll drive.” Levi prickled. “I just had my car cleaned at the place you recommended, don’t freak out.” The three made their way to one of the parking lots on campus and piled in to the red infiniti SUV. Donner sat in the back with Levi as Eren took the front seat with Hanji and they were off.

The pub was located by the railroad tracks in Downtown Maria. The buildings were all built in the 1880s to 1920s with their brick facades and classic trims and moldings. The pub occupied a corner of the building where the brick was darker. It had two floors with polished restored dark hardwood floors. You could access the floors from the outside by a lager spiral fire escape made of black rod iron nestled against climbing vines and an old mural of “Maria’s Tracks, leading the way into the future.” Hanji parked near the front while Eren took the place in. He’d visited many times but had never gone into this part of Maria. It was the more residential and older half of the sprawling city, not as geared toward the young college type but the young professionals who stayed on or came back to live and start their own families.

Donner jumped to the ground walking over to stand by Eren’s side while he waited for Levi to get out. Levi had a quizzical look as he approached Eren and Donner with his leash. Eren felt a little like a child who might get in trouble for something he didn’t even do. “Why are you making that face?” Levi’s steely eyes met his, “I just think it’s curious that Donner never goes to stand by anyone, not even Hanji or Erwin, and yet he just walked right over to you to wait on me.” Eren looked down at Donner for a second and then back up to Levi. Levi could tell he was overjoyed but couldn’t fathom why. “He knows a good thing when he sees it,” Eren bantered while winking. Eren turned on his heels to follow a now laughing Hanji into the restaurant. Levi scoffed, “Whatever kid.” He couldn’t really disagree.

Entering the restaurant the three were greeted to delicious smells, small talk, and soft bagpipe music. Hanji hummed along as Levi made his way to the hostess station. A pale tall girl with curly red hair, large piercing brown eyes looked up from where she was plotting tables for that nights dinner rush. Levi addressed her softly, ‘Shalom.” She looked up, her naturally stern expression softened but she did not smile, “Shalom. Would you like your regular seat?” Levi shook his head, “Anywhere is fine, thank you.” Gathering up the dark leather menus she led them to a somewhat secluded corner on the ground floor by the bar. Eren accepted his menu gleefully as Hanji asked about the specials. Levi didn’t open his menu, instead he stroked Donner’s head between his ears slowly trailing one from base to tip ever so often in a soothing manor.

They ordered their drinks and the girl disappeared behind the kitchen’s swinging door. “What are you going to get, Eren?” Hanji was tracing around the edges of the menu. Eren was having a really hard time deciding. “Probably…” He paused looking over the items again, “Everything. It all looks amazing and I’m starving.” Eren really was hungry. When the waitress returned Hanji ordered a Reuben with a bowl of some sort of Irish stew that looked wonderful if the picture in the menu was anything to go off of. Levi told her that he’d have what he normally got, peeking Eren’s curiosity. Eren hadn’t over exaggerated and listed off dish after dish shocking his two lunch guests.

The Food arrived, Hanji’s stew simmering, Levi’s pan fried chicken with vodka sauce made Eren’s mouth water as he waited for his food to arrive. “Quit staring brat.” Levi unrolled his silverware. “But it looks so good. I’m dyyying…” Eren laid across the table in despair. Hanji took a sip of her stew earning a disapproving look from Levi. “I’m hungry, too, my little hobbit. What else did you expect from me? You didn’t provide me with enough lembas from Lord Erwin.” She snickered as Levi let out another snort. Eren perked up mumbling against the wooden table, “I love LOTR…I love the Hobbit, too. Lembas is the shit.” Hanji reared backwards with a “waaaahhhhh” and then forwards ruffling Eren’s hair with a huge open mouth smile. “You are going to fit in so well! Heheheehehe. We should do a movie night at my house. I have the blu-ray extended editions. Levi has hobbit costume from last year’s Halloween. Isn’t that right?!” Levi rolled his eyes as the red headed girl appeared again. “They got it for me and forced me to wear it to the last premier.” The red headed girl seemed amused by this before clasping her hands together and looking at Eren, “Your food is coming out now. I need to move some of the things off the table.” Eren raised his eyebrows at Levi and Hanji Charlie Chaplin style causing Hanji to giggle, “Oh my vapors! Hahaha”

The large table top was quickly filled with dishes from burgers to deli sandwiches, stews and salads, and a basket of breads. Eren began to devour the food before him to the horror and sick fascination of the other two. Levi and Hanji watched as Eren finished plate after plate all while chatting away about anything and everything especially about his love of animals and Hanji’s research. In fact, most of the time Hanji spent more egging Eren on and prompting him than anything. “Well, if you really find my research so interesting perhaps you should become one of my lab assistants?” Eren’s mouth fell open in shock full of food. Levi wrinkled his nose in disgust tossing his napkin at Eren before saying, “You’re absolutely disgusting. Didn’t your mother tell you not to show people the food in your mouth?” His deep voice rumbled through the base high pitch chatter of the restaurant. It was a nice voice; Eren had thought that back in the lab. It was hard to describe. It was like the deep hum of a cello string with a cool blue timber that resonated in his mind. It was a hypnotic and grounding thing that Eren liked a lot more than he first thought. Eren felt his cheeks getting hot.

Levi raised an eyebrow, “Well, if we’re done here then let’s go. I need to go to Petco and get dog food and a few other things. Do you mind dropping me off at my car Hanji when we get back?” Hanji snorted, “I’ll just take you where you need to go. I’m free today until Mike gets finished with the cows.” Levi started pulling his wallet out, “How is that going?” Hanji hummed, “Well. He’s happy in mechanical engineering but his heart really belongs to the cows. He’s going to do his thesis work on designing new Silos. The days are long, classes are hard, and he’s often in a sour mood. It’ll be a joint venture with the guys over in Farm House. I just offer support and clean his clothes when he gets home.” Hanji’s eyes were full of fondness as they spoke about Mike. Eren couldn’t help the small warm blossoming of appreciation for that. He hoped his partner would speak about him coming home late, dirty, and tired like that. Levi motioned the red headed girl over, “Here, put it all on me.” He handed her his card while Hanji and Eren squawked in protest. “I can pay for my own as I often do, Levi.” Hanji stated crossing her arms. “I literally bought everything on the menu. You shouldn’t have to pay for that. My parents know how much I eat and give me money for that. They would be mortified if they knew you were paying for this.” Levi rolled his eyes, “I’m sure you cost them an arm and leg” Eren pouted as he continued mumbling, “But I’ll manage.” Levi paid and the three left for Petco.

After chasing Eren around Petco, Levi was beginning to think that he was raised by wolves. He was chatting away about everything comparing brands to others. He took forever to stare at the animals in the adoption center, allowing Levi a brief reprieve to gather his things. Hanji had run next door to Old Navy, conveniently leaving the two alone. Hanji and Erwin had been pestering him for days to meet the kid. Erwin more than Hanji but at least he had a more subtle way about him. Hanji had gone on and on about how when she first saw him she just knew he’d be perfect for Levi. How someone could just see somebody and think they’d be perfect for someone was farfetched and certainly even less possible when it came to Levi. He would try and not mentally list all the reasons why he thought he was unlovable right as he was with him. Erwin had made him promise to try harder to think of positive attributes of himself and be less critical of others. It was hard. Levi felt like an old dog who had a set routine and wasn’t interested in anything that would hinder it. Donner was all he needed.

Eren made his way over to Levi grinning like a fool and causing Levi to become anxious. “Why are you smiling?” Eren had his hands behind his back, “I just found the cutest chew toys. Can Donner have chew toys?” Levi was caught off guard for sure, “You found chew toys for Donner?” He ventured watching Eren’s grin grow wider. “I did.” Levi grew even more anxious. Little things like this would start it off, the worried feeling. It didn’t matter if it didn’t make sense, if there was no reason to be anxious, it just started sometimes. It would grow and grow until actual bigger issues caused the anxious feelings to start turning panicky. Meeting new people, which was the case today with Eren, developing a liking of them, which he had surprisingly done, and now a mystery gift was just setting Levi on edge and he hated it. Oblivious to Levi’s internal turmoil he continued to stretch the silence out for an absurd amount of time until Levi barked out, “What is it?!” Eren jumped slightly, wincing at how loud it was. Levi was embarrassed. Way to go Levi, you scared the brat and ruined everything. Eren brought his hands around showing Levi three plushy chew toys in shape of clouds. One was snow white with large kawaii blue eyes, the other grey with raindrops and sad eyes, and the last one a deep grey charcoal storm cloud with a lightning bolt. These are adorable. He thought. “Can he have them?” Eren’s voice was laced with sweet hope and he was positively shaking he was so excited. Levi couldn’t say no to him. “Sure. Why did you pick them out?” Eren bounced towards the check out calling over his shoulder as Levi followed with the cart. “Because the storm cloud has a lightning bolt and Donner can chew on Blitzen. Hahahaha!” Eren lost it. The cashier smiled giggling to herself and Levi couldn’t help but let a ghost of a smile appear on his face. He started stroking Donner’s ear again but not because he was feeling anxious in a bad way but because he was anxiously hopeful that he’d be able to spend more time with this boy who cared about his dog and was so full of warmth and life. Things Levi was severely lacking.

Hanji appeared at the window as they were leaving. Packing everything into the car they all headed back to the campus where Hanji promised to get in touch with Eren’s father and with him about the position in their lab. They really wanted the perspective of someone who was studying to be a vet and felt that this would help him when it came time to early admission into the program. They personally knew Dr. Grove and would talk him up when they were with her. Levi unloaded the car while they spoke. Once Levi had everything on the sidewalk he started staking the food to hoist up over his shoulders when Eren appeared by his side and picked both bags up with ease. “You’re strong, kid. It’s not extremely heavy but you acted like that weighed as much as a six pack.” Eren hummed, “yeah, I’ve always been really strong. I always helped move patients at the hospital or when I volunteered at the vet clinic I’d help with large animal transfers and weighing.” Levi opened the doors with his card as Eren spoke.

They entered the dorm as the sun was setting on the horizon. A golden sunset accented with orange bathed the brick building in soft light and made the welcome area dance with shadows. Eren followed Levi to the RA dorm. When he opened the door he saw that there was a small common room with a couch, black IKEA coffee table, and recliner to the right with a TV attached to the wall and an even smaller kitchen set with a half stove, sink, 4 top cabinets and 4 bottom ones and a small fridge. It was immaculate but very old. The couch was a thrift store find from the 70s covered in a flower print. It was very larger with a few folded blankets and new throw pillows on it. The recliner was brand new and top of the line. “Put the food by the fridge.” Eren deposited the food, though he was curious about the apartment. “You share with Erwin, right?” Levi had disappeared through a an opening into the middle of a long hallway with a door for the shared bathroom directly across from the opening in the middle and two bedrooms at opposite ends of the hall “Yeah, I share with the giant. Thank God we have separate rooms. He’s the reason that couch is here. He finds things at thrift stores that he considers “treasure” and I just see “skin flake catchers.” Eren started laughing walking towards his voice. He came to the door of Levi’s room but didn’t enter.

He felt rude enough as it was strolling through someone’s apartment he barely knew. Except that he could help but feel, oddly enough, at home and relaxed. Levi’s walls were the same white with a green accent wall instead of blue like Eren’s. It didn’t have a window since he was the room inside of the building and the other side was the hallway for the double doors leading to the other wing of residents. His bed was made with military precision: black feather down comforter, three rows of pillows increasing in size till they reach the wall, and at the foot another blanket Eren recognized as a military sleeping blanket that was light weight but could keep soldier toasty even outside in winter. The pattern wasn’t one he was familiar with but he was sure Armin would know it. “What branch were you in or what branch is the pattern on the blanket?” Levi was putting things away in his chest of draws. The bed was against the wall across from the door at the back with a small black boxy table from IKEA and then the chest of draws taking up that wall all touching one another. The room was incredibly small with his desk sitting between the door frames for the closet and door. It was directly on the right when Eren poked his head in looking over it at Levi.

Levi turned to close the top drawer and laid some treats on his desk for later. Donner had gone to lay on his mat at the foot of the bed watching the two in content. “Marines” Levi’s tone revealed nothing. Eren’s face scrunched up before understanding washed over him,“Oh.”Levi nodded walking around the desk towards Eren. “Erwin said his he met his roommate in basic training. I should have remembered.” Eren rubbed the back of his neck. “I guess I’m pretty oblivious sometimes. Sorry, if I brought something you don’t want to talk about up. That makes sense now about Donner.” Levi scrutinized Eren’s face. He liked true sincerity in people and he didn’t want pity or whining or anything like that. He also expected his private life to stay that way and loathed talking about his time in the military because of the unwanted questions. Eren looked down at Levi, they held each other’s gaze for a long while. “Maybe, I’ll tell you about it. One day…not today.” Levi’s voice was a quiet whisper. The loud silence that followed swallowed them up as they continued to move closer.

Levi reached out, the first to break eye contact as Eren stood still as a statue. Is he going to hug me or kiss me? Eren’s heart skipped as the hand drew near. Levi…I think The hand was almost on his arm, achingly close as Eren’s world started to explode in flashes and feelings. He felt incredibly hot. He’s really…Levi’s hand gripped the fabric of his shirt pulling at it. “You’ve got fur all over you from the store. How did you even manage that?” His voice was cold as ice cutting through the moment Eren had obviously dreamed up on his own. “Uh…I..Hahaha” he managed a fake laugh and started brushing the hairs off of his clothes. Levi tsked walking over to the chest again and getting a lint roller. “Turn around.” He commanded sending chills down Eren’s spine. Levi rolled the roller over him taking the hairs off of his shirt and pants. While doing so Eren noted that he wasn’t just rolling out of duty but in more of a grooming way, a small act of caring as it would be considered in the animal world. He’s…Levi is so… Eren struggled to put his feeling into words. Levi finished, putting the roller away. He walked past Eren as he continued to stand dumbly in the doorframe. Levi was about to disappear into the living room before stopping, looking over his should, and smirking. He said “Are you just going to stand there or do want to come in here with me?” Donner jumped up prancing into the room as Levi’s smirk burned its way into Eren’s mind. He definitely wanted to be where Levi was. Levi is electric

Chapter Text


Erwin drove a beautiful cashmere white S63 AMG luxury Mercedes. Armin didn’t know what type of car he was expecting him to drive but one like this was certainly a wonderful surprise. How on earth could he have afforded this? It made no sense for a 26 year old student to have a car as expensive as this. His expression must have given it away because once they approached Erwin started to chuckle, opening the passenger side for Armin, “You’re drooling, Mr. Arlert.” Armin closed his mouth sliding against the plush leather seats. The inside was clean and smelled of vanilla and honeysuckle. Erwin walked around and got into the car, turning it on along with his Ipod. Soon the entire car came alive with power and music. Armin listened to the beginning of I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash. Erwin hummed to the tune as he drove.

Armin relaxed into the seat content to remain in silence. The silence was very comfortable between the two until Armin became curious as to where they were going. “Is this a kidnapping or are you going to tell me where you’re taking me?”Armin cast a flirty glance at Erwin watching the corners of his lips twitch as he formed his retort, “To an establishment worthy of your station.” He smiled turning onto a side road. Armin hummed in approval noticing he knew where he was and had a good idea where Erwin was taking him. Soon they were pulling into the small receiving area for Amsterdam , an upscale restaurant where most couples get engaged or can only afford once they are rich returning alumni who want to throw their money around in a “we finally made it” kind of way. Erwin paid the valet to take the car as he walked around opening the door for Armin. Armin felt like a Disney princess who’s prince was doing everything possible to woo him after seeing them in the forest or at the ball. He didn’t mind at all.

They were seated at a booth in the back near the window. It was a favorite spot for couples since booths were rare in the old building. Erwin sat across from him looking like god while Armin received various envious and jealous glances from the other patrons. Erwin acted as if they were the only two people in the world but he could tell that he was satisfied at the reaction. Erwin noticed many admiring Armin as well and it stroked his ego, he had him all to himself. A waitress appeared, “Erwin! It’s nice to see you again.” The girl was petite and very likable from the start. She exuded a positive aura and her expressive hazel eyes and strawberry hair made Armin picture her as more of a preschool teacher than waitress. “Petra, it’s nice to see you. Not working too much I hope?” Petra shook her head. “Actually, no, I finish classes this semester. Are you coming to my wedding in December? I haven’t received your RSVP nor Levi’s and you know that’s not what I expected from either of you.” She admonished lightly while patting his shoulder. Erwin smiled ear to ear, “I’ve been lax. I apologize. You know the lawsuit really took it out of me. I bet that’s the same thing with Levi. How is Eld?” Petra’s entire face lit up, “Great! He’s home finally from Afghanistan. The only issue is now Oluo is over at the house weekly.” She rolled her eyes. “Anyway, what can I get you two?” She turned to face Armin a bit more.

Her impish smile caused Armin to blush. “I’ll take a scotch like usual with a water.” Armin smiled to himself, he really wanted scotch. “I’ll have a sweet tea with lemon.” Petra clutched her receipt book to her chest, “Well, aren’t you just the sweetest thing. Why are you with stuffy Erwin?” Erwin jumped and his face began to flush, “Petra! What does that mean?” Armin giggled, “Maybe I’m not so sweet?” Armin and Petra started to laugh loudly at the blush that continued to pain Erwin’s neck and face. “Well, the jury is still out on that” he murmured casting a playful glance at Armin. Petra turned, casting a delighted glance at Erwin, “Oh boy, you’ve got it bad.” She teased, “Erwin always dines alone or with Levi. I’ll have those drinks out and I know we’ve been talking but-“ Erwin interrupted, “Let’s just have the special.” Armin prickled slightly. A moment of panic about how Erwin saw this going down set in. Armin wanted to wined and dined, made a fuss over, and cared for but by no means was he looking for someone who made his decisions for him because they wanted to have control. That wasn’t going to fly. Erwin looked to Armin, “The special is actually why I brought you here tonight. I get it every time and as long as you’re okay with trusting me I think you’ll be very happy with it. If not, we can certainly look over the menu.” Armin breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God, he thought, “No, that sounds great to me. Can I ask what it is?” Erwin gave him a wicked smile, “Absolutely not! I want it to be a surprise and if you don’t like it I owe you.” Petra grabbed the menus giggling to herself as she went to the back.

Armin straightened himself in his seat, “What do you owe me?” Armin raised an eye brow studying Erwin’s face. “Whatever you want from me, a new meal, a car ride, free tutoring, etc..” Erwin smirked, tracing patterns on the table top as he leaned on his elbow closer to Armin. Armin was extraordinarily happy. The electricity between both of them was more than intense. They were two fires feeding into one another, flames licking and climbing upwards, blue from the heat and yellow like molten gold. Petra returned with the drinks promising that their food would be out shortly. “Alright let’s play a game. I want to know more about you and I assume you want to know more about me. So, let this be a 20 questions set up but where we each ask one another 10, 5 not so serious and 5 serious. That is, if you agree. What do you think?” Erwin took a sip of his scotch never breaking eye contact from Armin as he bit his bottom lip in contemplation earning an internal groan from Erwin. “I agree. Prepare yourself, I can be quite ruthless as I am sure you can.” The game board was figuratively set.

Erwin cleared his throat, “I’ll begin. If you could be any one in the world dead or alive who would you be?” Armin snorted, “Otto von Bismark. You?” Erwin raised an eyebrow, “That will come out of your 10.” Armin nodded, “George Washington. Who is you celebrity crush or historical crush?” Armin took a sip of his tea, “Caesarea Borgia. Silk or velvet?” Erwin seemed a bit stunned, “Um…silk. Favorite color?” Armin chewed his straw, “It’s a tie between baby blue and powder pink. Oversized shirt or roomy pants?” Erwin smiled, “These are not the type of questions I expected. On me or others?”Armin shrugged, “Either.” Erwin hummed, “On me roomy pants. I like to be shirtless when I relax but I love seeing my shirt on someone else because let’s face it, it’ll be oversized on almost everyone.” Armin snorted. “Favorite music genre?” Armin’s mouth twitched, “Impossible. How could anyone have just one favorite? I like classical music, folk, and spoken word. You?” Erwin nodded, “Classical, classic rock, jazz and blues.” Armin’s eyes widened, “I love Jazz and Blues, too.” Erwin was more than pleased.

Armin leaned against the wall, his hair fell into his eyes and across his cheek. “I love New Orleans. My friends and I would take the train down and stay at the hostel. We’d listen to jazz on street and hit up a blues club that’s no longer there. I’d love to go again soon. Are we on the hard questions now?” Erwin swirled his scotch in the glass, “We have two left but that’s what we really want to know so why not?” He chuckled, “Are you an only child or?” Armin seemed perplexed, “Yeah, only child. Why?” Erwin shrugged, “I was simply curious.” Armin accepted that at face value, “Are you an only child?” Erwin nodded. “How can a 26 year old have a car that fancy?” Erwin blushed, “I came into a large sum of money and will continue to receive payments for the rest of my life.” Armin was taken aback, “that’s what the lawsuit was about?” Erwin nodded, “Yes, Levi and I sued contractors from when we were marines and a few government employees who were also involved and in exchange for our cooperation we were reimbursed for our trouble and will receive a yearly amount along with our GI benefits.” Armin had stumbled into a very complicated situation. “Well, I don’t want to lie and say “that’s cool let’s move on” but I think that’s something that we should probably save for a later time when we’re not in the middle of a restaurant.” Erwin smiled with his eyes, the tiny lines making him look older and more appealing to Armin. “Yes, that’s very kind of you Armin. Eren mentioned you lived with him for a while?” Armin expected that. Eren of course told him that Erwin had asked about him. “Yes, for about 4 years on and off. I think in total I only spent 6 months of those 4 years at home. My parents travel all of the time. They never meant to have kids. It’s not like they’re mean to me or tell me they never wanted me all the time but it’s more of “this is how it is and we’re sorry but we can’t change who we are for you.” My father is journalist and my mother was a missionary. They met in Africa while he was covering a story and they fell in love. My mother’s family is from Germany but she was raised in America and her father left for Germany when she went to Africa. When he found out that she’d been leaving me alone he came back to the states and I started living with him full time. I love my opa more than anything. He’s my mother and father and that’s fine with me. I just wish the situation was…different because the way it is with my parents right now there isn’t any real way to resolve any of my feelings and I can see in myself my own Freudian issues or psychological yearnings and tendencies.”Armin finished with soft laugher and a shrug.

”You self diagnose your problems? I’m glad that I’m not the only one. I think introspection is important and keeps people grounded and more importantly, honest.” Armin smiled as Petra came with the food. “Okay,” she sang, “Here it is!” Petra put down two plates of tuna. This wasn’t just any old tuna, no, this was fine Tuna that had Armin’s mouth watering. “Sesame crusted Tuna with southern fried rice, black eyed peas and peppers, bok choy, and mushroom ginger sauce.” Armin was in heaven as he tasted the fish. Erwin thanked Petra and watched Armin as he enjoyed his first bites. It wasn’t until Armin realized that Erwin had not touched his food that he looked up, mouth full, that he saw him grinning and very pleased with himself. “You must have been famished. I am glad you like it.” Armin swallowed wiping his mouth with his napkin. His voice was muffled through the napkin, “Oh hush, sir.” Erwin began eating and the two didn’t speak until they were finished.

Once finished Erwin continued with the previous topic, “Do you know what you want to do with your life in the next ten years? Anything laid out?” Armin played with his napkin, “I do. I want to be a professor. I considered law but it’d much rather be an accomplished historian and do research.” Erwin’s eyebrows rose, “My father was a professor. I’m actually planning on following that path myself. History, as well. He was once the president of this university. Thanks to his name and good works I was able to come here relatively easy and even bring Levi with me.” Armin remembered their being a Mr. Smith as the president of the university from his camp Maria. He was very much loved. “Did he retire?” Erwin shook his head no. “He died, murdered by a disgruntled previous employee who is now also dead.” Armin felt like he’d been punched, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Is your mother still…?” Erwin shook his head again. “She died in child birth. My father never remarried. I grew up with her pictures around the house. She sang opera and he would sit in his study and play her records all day long while he worked. He told me that he felt sad to have physically lost her but that he was so thankful that he still had her voice to comfort him and that I’d know her voice. I hope I have a love like that one day.” Armin’s heart skipped a few beats as they looked at each other.

The people in the restaurant continued to chat away while Armin and Erwin shared their private moment. Erwin paid the bill, finished his second scotch, and promised to send the RSVP to Petra as soon as possible. Petra escorted them out waving goodbye as she too left for the night. Armin sat back in the leather seats as Erwin took off. He noticed they were taking a longer way to the dorm than necessary making him feel even more confidant that Erwin might be feeling the way he was. Armin was a lot of things but forward isn’t one that most would label him as. Being around Erwin made Armin want to take control of the situation, he wanted to tell him to pull over, park the car, and let him hold him as he murmured against the skin of his neck as they kissed slowly, hotly.

Slow and sensual electronic played over the speakers as they drove through the darkening night. It was only 8 pm but the days had been getting shorter and shorter. Now they were closing in on the dorms, “Erwin,” Armin’s voice was timid. He was unsure of himself. Erwin pulled into the parking lot of the dorm. He didn’t turn the car off instead he smoothed his hands over the steering wheel. “Yes, Armin?” Armin swallowed around the knot forming in his throat. “Can I be forward with you?” Erwin leaned back watching Armin, “I’d prefer it if you always were with me, Armin. What is it?” Armin unbuckled himself turning to face Erwin. His hands pulled at the fabric of his pants. It’s now or never “I’m really, really attracted to you. Do you want to make out?” Erwin narrowed his eyes letting out a breath he’d been holding since parking the car. “God, yes.” And with that he unbuckled his seat belt ripping it off to the side turning the car off and grabbed Armin dragging him into his lap.

Armin’s hands came up to Erwin’s face while Erwin grabbed Armin’s hips more fully, spreading his legs wider as Armin straddled his lap. Armin brought their lips crashing together. Their breath mixing as they plundered each other’s mouths, tongues tangling, and every second was more and more like entering an inferno, they were so hot it felt like they were burning up their own air but they continued to kiss and bite each other’s lips, breathless and wanton. Erwin’s left hand came up to tangle in Armin’s locks pulling his face back and allowing him to venture down the soft pale flesh of his jaw and neck. Erwin focused on a particular soft spot causing Armin to cry out and whimper, hips snapping forward and causing Erwin to groan possessively against his skin. Erwin and Armin ground against each other in the car. Their entire focus was on one another. Armin let Erwin take full control, submitting to him as his larger and calloused hands made their way under his shirt and over the skin of his lower stomach and back. Erwin pulled back admiring Armin’s panting face and glassy eyes.

Erwin brought his left hand around to the side of Armin’s face, his thumb stoking the delicate cheekbones until it found its way over to the pouty lips. It drug across the swollen bottom lip until disappearing into the small mouth to be softly suckled and nibbled on. Erwin have never been more aroused. Just when they were about to return to kissing each other senseless there was a strange noise by one of the buildings. The noise itself could have been anything, though it was the eerie feeling that came with it of being watched. Armin suddenly felt acutely aware of how vulnerable they were and with his back to the parking lot his mind went into overdrive. He hit the lock button on the car before shifting over to the other seat pulling his shirt down and surveying the parking lot. Erwin was alarmed after hearing the click of the lock, “Armin, what’s going on?” Armin shushed him eyes still trained on the shadows of the dead parking lot. “Last night, when Eren, Jean, and I came back to the dorm around 3 am we were having issues getting into the dorm and I felt this…this strange presence like someone was watching me. Of course, I told myself that someone probably was but this is such a…It’s not like a normal “being watched” feeling. It’s darker and…” Erwin took Armin’s hand, “I’d rather overreact and be wrong than do nothing and be a sitting duck for something.” Armin’s icy blue eyes met Erwin’s. They were deadly serious causing Erwin to have no doubt that he’d already ruled out normal paranoia.

Erwin felt the strange feeling too. He couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary and suggested that they wait just a few minutes longer and then go inside. Erwin’s eyes scanned the parking lot. He stopped at one particular spot and stayed trained on it long enough for Armin to notice. “Do you see something there?” Erwin whispered, “No. I was mistaken.” Armin let out a sigh of relief if only momentary. Erwin started looking around the car for something, “What are you looking for?” Armin was getting more and more concerned. “Nothing. I just left something in the dorm and that’s a good thing. I didn’t want to have to come back out, you know?” He smiled but it was a fake one. Armin had used the same smile many times in his life. “Okay. Let’s go now.” Erwin exhaled quickly and both men got out and walked to door. The presence seemed more oppressive outside of the car. Once inside it still seemed just a threatening but as they walked up the first set 5 steps to the first landing Erwin grabbed Armin’s shoulder pulling him alongside him into the main hall of the first floor. “You’re coming with me until you relax. You don’t need to go upstairs and upset your roommates or worse be alone. Stay for an hour or two with me.” Armin moved closer to Erwin as he slid his arms around his shoulders protectively. They found Erwin’s door unlocked and made their way inside.

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Eren was on the couch while Levi had gone to the restroom when he heard the door click. Donner stood up from his place on the floor, alert and agitated. Eren was worried about who was coming through the door when a familiar blond head appeared nestled into the body of a much larger blond headed person. Donner sniffed, relaxing a bit as he realized it was Erwin. “Armin?” Eren wasn’t completely shocked to see his with Erwin but he hadn’t texted him back since he went to the library with Jean and Eren had grown worried. “Eren? Why are you here?” Armin’s voice was shaken. He was visibly unnerved. He wouldn’t even make eye contact with Eren and he looked flushed with a purpling mark on his neck. “Why are you upset? Did he do something to you? Did you not want to come back here?” Eren sprung off the couch glaring at Erwin as he made his way to Armin. The bathroom door had opened revealing Levi in a blue loose fitted cotton tshirt and black sweatpants. He watched as Eren stood up to Erwin prepared to fight him if he’d done something to his friend.

Armin shook his head, “No, no he didn’t do anything, Eren, I swear its okay.” Eren didn’t fully believe him. He’d been there for all those years Armin had been bullied. “Armin if he didn’t do anything then tell me why you’re as upset as you are. You know I can tell.” Erwin pulled Armin closer pissing Eren off even more, “We had an incident in the parking lot. Someone was watching us. It upset Armin.” Levi moved from the shadows startling Armin more, “Watching you?” he raised an eyebrow at Erwin. They shared a look Eren and Armin couldn’t understand. “It was definitely someone up to no good. Armin said he felt it the other night when they were coming back from eating.” Levi looked around the room one more time. “Eren, you and Armin should tell your friend that if he isn’t in his dorm then when he comes back he needs to come through the front door and check in with us. It could be nothing but it could be something.” Eren pulled his phone out calling Jean. “Hey, where are you?” Armin looked around the apartment still attached to Erwin’s side as Eren spoke with Jean. “He’s in the dorm with Mikasa and Sasha. He’s going to stay in our dorm room tonight anyway. He didn’t sleep well last night.” Levi looked back at Armin, “I’ll make you some tea.” With that Erwin excused himself to go to his room and Armin and Eren curled up together on the couch under one of the various blankets until the tea was ready. Erwin returned slightly put out that Armin was basically in Eren’s lap drinking hot tea and watching Portlandia on Netflix. Levi was in his chair with Donner in his lap. Erwin knew that didn’t bode well. “I’m sorry, Erwin.” Eren’s voice was quiet coming from his mouth that was nestled in Armin’s hair. “Armin was bullied so much that I just get really protective. I have anger issues, too and Armin is just a really big trigger for me. I should have known you wouldn’t have done anything like that.” Armin turned his face to Eren, “Eren...” Erwin sat down on the other end of the couch. “Thank you, Eren. I understand now. I felt like there was more to it or maybe you just really wanted to fight me.” Erwin chuckled but the mood in the room was edgy and Levi was suffocating.

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After leaving Erwin and Levi the two boys made their way up to their dorm room around 10 pm, Jean following them a few minutes later. They three changed and Jean climbed in bed with Armin again. Armin was thankful for the weight of someone else in the bed and the comfort of skin on skin. Jean’s strong arms wrapped around him, his hot breath warmed the back of his neck. Eren’s breathing became shallow and constant lulling Armin into the darkness. He dreamed about Erwin and his hands, his lips, and what his childhood might have been like. He thought about Jean, Eren, and Mikasa and how they used to go out in the woods when they were little and play knights and dragons. He thought about how when the sun would start to go down the forest would turn to shadows, that dusk brought out real monsters that children would be in danger if they were captured by them. He recognized Erwin’s motions in the car as his own. Where he had sought a sturdy stick to protect himself from monsters that lived in the forest Erwin had seen something in the parking lot and he wasn’t looking for a stick, but for his gun.

Chapter Text

Things settled down into a calm routine. The days passed by, work and school kept everyone fairly busy. Before they knew it, it was the first football game and the three went to cheer on the Scouts. Mikasa and Annie sat together in the student section waiting for Eren and the rest to get there. It was Labor Day weekend and Annie had asked Mikasa if she wanted to spend it hiking in the state park the university was rested against. They had rented a cabin even though the park was only a short 15 minute drive from their dorms. They just wanted to spend time in the woods alone, making fires, and sparring without any interruptions.

Annie was a distrusting person by nature. Her life wasn’t picture perfect in comparison to most around her. Her parents had abandoned her when she was in her when she was 9, stating that she was too much to handle and violent. They seemed to have forgotten that it was only by their example that she equated a closed fist to love. Her only reprieve was an underground fight club she joined in her community in downtown Washington D.C. Surrounded by politics, power, and rich men she became bitter due to her own financial situation and missed out opportunities. She was living in squalor in little Ethiopia going from foster family to foster family when she ended up at the Braun’s home one evening. That’s how she met Reiner, the boy from the south with the thick accent and likable personality.

At first she hated him. She hated his jokes about shoving things up asses and the fact that he prattled on and on about his long distance boyfriend. She hated he was loved, hated that he was poor but not as poor as she had been. By southern economical standards the Braun’s were wealthy but in the big city dollars didn’t stretch far. They’d hoped by having a little extra income from their foster checks it would help make up there difference. A poor decision when it came to actually having another mouth to feed. While she grew to enjoy Reiner, trust him, and even felt the need to comfort him when he and his boyfriend broke up they both developed deep resentment for Mr. and Mrs. Braun that culminated in their fights at the club.

Mr. Braun worked as a mediocre clerical lackey for a public contractor and Mrs. Braun was a stay at home mom with an online shopping addiction and a hoarder. Reiner’s best friend from back home, a tall lanky boy whom Annie considered extremely weak, had just moved into the area as well, his father accepting a position at the same company as Reiner’s. The three grew more and more disgruntled with their lives as things went from satisfactory to unlivable over the course of the years. Reiner was distracted in school, passing with average grades despite his great potential. Annie skipped but got great marks when she came and Bertolt never applied himself and got by on sheer luck. The three were lucky that they each had made impressions on their economics teachers. All three seemed suited for business and they entered a few contests for stocks and bonds and won. That’s how they found themselves accepted to Maria University. None had scholarships though due to their poor living situations financial aid had taken the costs down to less than instate students but that still left them with bills to pay and loans to take out.

Mikasa knew Annie had taken the minimum amount of loans possible. She knew that she was making up the difference working but she hadn’t asked where. She suspected she was stripping. While not something that made Mikasa judge her or others who chose to do so, it worried her that the long hours would affect her studies and that a customer might get too hands on. Mikasa just wanted her to be safe. Reiner and Bertolt lived over on Wire Road in MP, acronym for Maria Paradise, a small trailer park and duplex community. They lived in a duplex and Annie had already decided that sophomore year she would move in with them. The three were happy in Maria. They often said it felt like coming home.

To Annie’s surprise Reiner had immediately recognized the dark headed girl from his old neighborhood. They hadn’t gone to same school due to the way school districts had been drawn up but he asked her about the cute little blond boy and angry hard headed kid. Mikasa told him Armin and Eren were going to school at Maria as well as living with her in the same dorm. Annie listened while sitting on the couch drinking a Sam Adams’s as they reminisced about old times. Reiner was so happy and that made her happy.

Eren’s mess of brown hair appeared as Mikasa pointed to him. “Eren!” she yelled as he turned around looking up from the tunnel to where they were sitting in front of the railing. Eren shielded his eyes from the setting sun, “Do you have room for 2 extra?” he called up as the mass of bodies streaming in pushed and pulled against him. Mikasa and Annie looked around. It’d be tight if they couldn’t get someone to scoot down. Annie glared at a somewhat inebriated boy rushing a fraternity and slamming shakers down on the seats to “call” them. He quickly picked the shaker up as she slid across the metal bleacher turning back to Mikasa nodding. Mikasa called over telling Eren that it would work out.

Eren climbed the stairs followed by Armin and Erwin. Coming up the other stair case was Jean and Marco. Mikasa raised an eyebrow at Jean as he approached with a smug look on his face and slight blush. She’d heard about Marco over lunch a few days after he met him. They’re schedules had been busy and Jean worried he was being too awkward on text. It would appear that was not the case. Marco waved striking up an easy conversation between the others. Armin and Annie spoke while Eren sat down next to Mikasa, “Mikasa?” Eren looked thoughtful, “Yes, Eren?” He rubbed his hands together before patting her leg, “I love you.” Mikasa grinned, “You felt the need to tell me that right now?” She took his hand. Eren looked back over the field, “Yeah, I haven’t said it in a while. I was just thinking about how lucky I am to have a wonderful family and a sister like you.” Mikasa bumped shoulder with him, “Thanks. I love you, too.”

Jean sat behind Mikasa with Marco, Annie moved to sit back against Mikasa while sharing a brief introduction with Marco. Jean leaned forward between the two, “I love y’all, too. In case you were wondering. I mean…whatever…”He feigned a disinterested tone shrugging his shoulder while sitting back. Marco look at him, “I’m sure they appreciated that.” Jean laughed, “I mean, who wouldn’t? I just wanted to get in on the love session.” Armin perked up, “Love session? I’d like to get in on that, too. I love y’all.” He smiled cheekily as the others giggled. “You love me the most, though, because I’m everyone’s favorite,” Eren taunted. “Actually, I love Jean the most. He’s a good bed buddy, unlike you cover-stealer. I can’t believe I’ve been subjected the torture of being kicked by you since I was a child. I’ve been missing out.” Eren gasped, “Are you saying you want to sleep with other people?” Armin smirked, “Yes. It’s you, not me. Sorry.” The three boys laughed as Mikasa shook her head and Erwin pulled his phone out to take a call.

The group sat watching other students find their seats, picking out those already drunk, almost there, and too far gone. They voted on best dressed when a group of stylish girls came in dressed more for a Sunday social than a football game. Armin declared that he would come to one of these games dressed to the nines and outshine all of those girls. “You cross dress?” Annie’s voice was louder than usual, yelling over the crowed and two people in between, “Occasionally. I really enjoy it but it’s not something I’d do if I wasn’t in the mood. I think fashion is for everyone and something you can have fun with.” Annie nodded, “ I agree, it’s fun and it’s freeing. We should trade tips and come one game together dressed up.” Armin smiled, “You do it, too?” Annie nodded causing Mikasa to feel happy. She was happy Annie was opening up more.

Erwin finished his conversation turning to Armin and the rest, “That was Levi inviting everyone to the lake house after the game for the weekend. He apologized for the last minute notice but it’s for Hanji. They forgot their own birthday again. We all though Mike did something for them but he was actually out of town on a field trip, so we’re going to head up to the house and celebrate tonight through Monday night. We’ll get the food and you can all ride with us. Anyone can come.” Erwin’s smiled motioning to mostly to Annie and Marco since they were new to him. “It’ll be fun.” He continued, nudging Armin in the side lightly. Everyone promised to think about it. They would need to leave after the game. Luckily no one had anything pressing this weekend and having fun at the lake sounded a lot more fun than doing homework or reading ahead.

Eren was a little disappointed that Levi hadn’t asked him personally but after checking his phone he found a message from him.


From Levi
We’re having a party for Hanji. Erwin will tell you the details.
To Levi
Is this your way of asking me to come? XD

Eren put his phone away waiting on a reply as the pregame show started. Everyone started cheering watching the band formations on the field and this year’s hype video about the Scouts. Jean and Marco were arguing over proper shaker shaking form after Jean nearly gouged his eye out. Mikasa and Annie continued to sit watching everything from the comfort of their seats. Occasionally, Mikasa would say something to Annie causing the blonde girl to smile. It was Armin and Erwin that really stood out. Erwin and Amrin were both wearing white blue jeans and white button ups. This was the “uniform” of the Scouts that students wore in differing variations. As long as you had white pants you could pretty much wear any top that you fancied. Eren had an olive green peasant top while Jean had a blue grey button up. Marco, Mikasa, and Annie each had white button ups with personal affects like Mikasa’s red satin scarf, Marco’s gold chain, and Annie’s “Wing of Freedom” pin. They all looked but Armin and Erwin stood out like catalogue models for fan fashions. Armin’s white button up shirt had scout logo cuff links. His boots were polished as well as Erwin’s making Eren’s look like a sham. He should have taken him up on his offer of letting him shine his as well. Erwin had cuff links as well, though they were turquoise and had a matching bolo tie to match. Their golden hair refelected in the lights and bright blue eyes made these two were the type to get on national TV and the jumbotron score board.

After singing the national anthem the game was began. The scouts won the toss to begin but deferred as per usual. The sun finally set setting the atmosphere for a great first game. There was nothing like playing at night. It was cooler for the fans and made it more of an event than just a game. Of course, for the students it meant they could party the night before, the entire time leading up to it on the day of, and then go out after crashing in a blaze of glory the next day. The team’s assembled for the punt and the kick was good, coming in around the 25 yard line with the opponents, the Settlers, taking a knee instead of attempting to gain more yards. The scouts were famous for their formations. They ran the ball, always moving, bobbing and weaving through opponents and sometimes soaring over them into the inzone. They were truly talented and awe-inspiring.

The game proved exciting, the score showing 27 to 20 at the half with the Scouts in the lead. Erwin asked Armin if he wanted anything from the concession stand but Armin shook his head no. “After this, though, on our way to the lake I’ll want something.” Erwin pulled Armin closer, noticing they were on the jumbotron again. Eren was standing up dancing to Coco with Mikasa and Jean. Marco was in the middle stuffing his face with cotton candy swaying while holding Jean’s hand and Annie was her normal un-amused self. “I guess that means you’re going to come?”Erwin bumped his hip into Armin, “Mhm, Yeah. It’s for Hanji. I want to hang out with them so I’ll come and have fun in the sun.” Armin watched as the opposing band rolled out their drum major platforms and a line of trombones scurried behind holding their shakos with plumes bobbing. Erwin pouted, “I thought you’d want to hang out with me, too?” Armin looked up at Erwin into his eyes, the lights reflecting like diamonds in them. Armin shrugged, “I guess that wouldn’t be so bad,” stroking the cuff link on Erwin’s wrist Armin batted his eye lashes, “You gunna treat me nice all weekend?” Erwin smirked, “Of course I will. I’m a gentleman.” The second half began with a bang, the Scouts scoring another touchdown running over 70 yards but Erwin and Armin missed it, too busy with themselves than the field. The game ended with the Scouts victorious, final score 38-32.

Mikasa and Annie declined the trip stating they already had plans they couldn’t cancel. They walked back to the dorm leaving Jean and Marco to walk on back towards the last row of dorms where Marco lived. Marco had agreed to come along much to Jean’s delight. He had to grab his things, Jean insisted on walking him to his dorm before returning to his own to pack. Mikasa said goodbye with a wave as Annie opened the door. They climbed the stairs in silence. Sasha had gone with Connie back home for a family reunion and shrimp boil leaving Mikasa and Annie alone in the dorm unexpectedly. Mikasa waited on Annie to open the dorm to her room moving behind her pressing herself softy against her back. Annie’s hand stilled briefly on the knob of the white solid wood door before opening the door to the dark room and turning around to face Mikasa. Mikasa closed the door with her foot, hands trailing Annie’s body. They embraced one another pulling off their shirts panting as they placed open mouth kisses on exposed skin. Annie grabbed Mikasa’s jaw kissing her squarely on the mouth. Their lips moved against each other with purpose. Annie’s tongue traced along Mikasa’s bottom lip asking for entrance which it was gladly granted, as Mikasa moved them to the bed where they stayed until Eren and the others left and they packed their car for the cabin.

Eren packed quickly grabbing his swim trunks and toothbrush at the last minute as Armin made a quick but well thought out sweep of the dorm. He even went in to Jean’s room and made a pile of his clothes and trunks to be helpful after over hearing him say he’d walk Marco back to his room. Armin liked to be efficient so helping others wasn’t really a chore or necessarily a favor but a way to make things run more smoothly. While in the room Armin noticed that he had that same feeling he got every night in the parking lot. Yes, the odd presence had not left and Armin had taken to coming in through the front door to avoid it until the front too felt unsafe. Erwin had started calling him when he’d be coming back late and Armin would talk to him while he made his way to the safety of his dorm.

Armin turned on the floor lamp Jean had moved. He’d been having issues sleeping at night and left his bathroom door open connecting the suites. It was no wonder he was having issues if it felt like this when he went to sleep. Armin slowly walked around the bed over to the closets. The two doors were right next to each other both opening from the right with Jean’s slightly agar. At the top of the doors there were two more doors for cubby spaces used for long term storage that were too tall for Armin to reach. No one ever used them for that reason. Armin checked both closets finding nothing of note. It was then that Eren called to him telling him he was going to Levi’s. Armin shut the doors and hurried out into the hallway to catch Eren. He was just ready to ride in Erwin’s car again.

Jean walked with Marco over to the dorm. He was more than thrilled that Marco had agreed to come for the weekend. Their conversations over text had been sickeningly sweet on Marco’s part and embarrassing asshole on his. They’d gone on a few mini dates for coffee and lunch since most of Marcos classes and his shifts at the shop were in the evening. Jean didn’t mind because he’d been staying in his studio working on a sculpture project for his intermediate Sculpture class and Marco would text him throughout the night. Marco was humming some Italian tune as Jean attempted to slide his arm around his shoulders. Marco kept walking forward glancing out the corner of his eye to see a smug Jean, “You think you’re hot stuff, don’t you?” Jean smirked, “Do you think I’m hot stuff?” Marco hummed, “Yeah, actually I do. I also think you’re a huge dork and that shoulder move wasn’t as smooth as you thought.” Jean flushed, “You got any tips?” Marco and Jean stepped over the last bit of green median into his parking lot, “I shouldn’t reveal my secrets,” he teased rubbing Jean’s back and leaning closer.

They got to Jean’s dorm room turning on the lights. “Fuck yeah, Armin. You beautiful soul, God bless.” Jean checked the pile of clothes already laid out and his toiletry bag that had his essentials. Marco entered observing the room, “What did Armin do?” Jean grabbed his back pack he normally took hiking and put the clothes and bag inside. He debated taking his computer and books. “He laid out some clothes and made up my toiletry bag for me. He does that sometimes when we’re all traveling together. I love it. It’s like he’s psychic and knows exactly what I’d want to wear. Eren and I tried once to return the favor and it was a disaster but Armin gets us every time.” Marco let out a small sigh. He liked Armin, having seen him a few times in the library with Jean laughing and talking. He was a nice guy. He was also the very thing causing Marco’s insecurities to flare up. He really liked Jean but he didn’t understand Armin’s and Jean’s relationship and this early in he didn’t want to bring it up and make things awkward. “That’s really nice of him” was all he could manage and that wasn’t a lie but it wasn’t exactly said with the amount of sincerity it deserved.

Marco decided he’d change the subject to the large bed in the middle of the room. “How on earth did you manage to have a private and this huge bed?” Jean stopped packing. He hadn’t told Marco all about Jeeter yet. He was scared that it would make things strange between them or worse he might not believe him. If he was being completely honest with himself there was a bit of “spoken fears can come true” that Jean didn’t want to mess with. He still wasn’t fully over it and would rather sort things out a bit more before he started telling people about his weird roommate story. But when he turned to look at Marco’s sweet patient face he decided to take a chance.“Well, it’s kind of not a great story. You remember when we first started talking you asked about my bruises and cuts? My roommate was psycho. He attacked me and the police were called. He had me on the floor at one point and was about to bash my head in with that lamp over there till Armin ran in and took him down. We managed to get him out of the dorm room and the police and Erwin took care of the rest. I don’t really like to talk about it because there was a lot of shit that lead up to it and it’s still under investigation but nothing so far has come from it. I don’t know it’s some shit. It’s fucking shit. You think I’m weird now, right? I understand if that’s too weird for you.” Jean became visibly anxious pulling at Marco’s heartstrings.

Of course, he’d have never thought that that was the reason he was beat up. Jean came off as a hot head who liked to fight and Marco figured that someone ran their mouth and Jean decided to shut it for them or the other way around. Marco crossed the room and took Jean’s shaking hands in his own. “No” his voice was strong and confidant, “I don’t think any of that and if you’re afraid I’m going to run off because you were the victim of a bad situation then you need to stick around longer and get to know me because that’s not my personality at all.” Jean let out a short choked laugh while tears swam in his eyes as one escaped and poured over his full bottom lashes and down his cheek. Marco leaned down to kiss the tear before he realized what he was doing. Did I just kiss him? Does that count as a first kiss? Marco panicked slightly before Jean’s hands found their way, cupping sides of his face. Jean’s voice was low as he whispered, “Thanks, Marco” and it was Jean’s lips that moved to cover Marco’s. At first Marco was too stunned to react. It was like every synapse was firing at once feeling Jean’s soft lips moving against his.Oh, no…he doesn’t want this. Jean tried to pull back fearing he’d overstepped Marco’s personal boundaries when Marco pulled him back in, lips moving slowly against his own.

Their kisses were soft and slow. It was comforting to Jean how real Marco felt against him. It was a slow burn of emotion in his stomach when he heard the tiny sighs he made against his skin. Jean kissed the dusting of freckles he could see wrapping his arm around Marco’s waist pulling him closer. Marco broke their kiss, “Jean…” he whispered breathing heavily, “we have to go.” Jean tightened his hold around Marco, “I know. I don’t want to, though. I want to kiss you forever.” Their lips met again, delaying them further. Marco knew if this kept going he wouldn’t be able to stop himself, “Jean, we’re making everyone late,” Marco protested detaching himself from Jean and grabbing his bag off the bed. Jean gave Marco a look, “What?” Marco put his back pack on, “Can I kiss you later?” Jean asked pulling his pack on and walking to the door opening it for Marco, “Maybe, if you’re good.” Marco teased earning a smack from Jean on his shoulder, “What if I want to be bad?” Marco shook his head, “wow, too far.” Neither of them had a care in the world.

Eren and Armin had left their things by the door when they got to Erwin and levi’s apartment. Donner was asleep by the couch when they walked in, he woke up thumping his tail against the floor when he saw Eren. At half time Eren had checked his text messages finding a response from Levi.
From Levi
Are you that stupid?
To Levi
That’s hurtful. I just need a little guidance. ;-)

To Eren
You need guidance to infer the meaning of a text message?

To Levi
Maybe I just want you to tell me what you want?
Levi had read the text a few times before forming a reply. He wasn’t sure if Eren was flirting specifically with him or if it was just his way to be naturally flirty. Regardless, beating around the bush wasn’t his style. Blunt was all he knew. He could also be a tease, too.
From Levi
Do you like it when people tell you what to do?
To Levi
Maybe I do? It depends on the person if I follow through.
Levi could definitely tell Eren what to do if that’s what he was looking for.
From Levi
Come
Eren shuddered reading the text. He’d imagined it with Levi’s sexy voice commanding him to come in many ways. It was his main focus at the end of the game. He had spent the last few days listening to music that made him think of Levi, thinking about their conversations, and day dreaming about him. He felt absurd but it made sense. Eren was chaotic, childish, and volatile. Levi was calm, mature, and reliable. Eren felt grounded around him. He craved the man’s attention as well. Getting the seal of approval from Levi meant something to Eren, though he didn’t fully know why.

Armin went to Erwin’s room to say hello while Eren sat on the couch. Donner sat up coming over to Eren looking to be petted. He knew it was wrong to pet someone’s service dog in most cases. Levi was in his room so he called in asking if it was okay. Levi instead asked him to come to his room. Eren got up perplexed, “Um hey,” Levi looked up while putting on his watch. He was dressed in black skinny jeans and a loose fitting cerulean shirt and black converse. “You just come in and don’t say “hello?” Rude brat.” His eyes cut right through Eren. He was nervous,”W-what?” Levi tsked picking his bag up and a few treats off his desk, “Shota delight gets here and runs to tell Erwin hello and you just sit on the couch.” Eren honestly can’t tell if he’s actually pissed off or just fucking with him. He takes it as a little of both. “I didn’t know you needed ego stroking like that. I’ll be sure to crawl in your lap next time to let you know I’m here.” Eren cupped his mouth shut. Did I really just fucking say that? Levi’s eyes widened just a fraction as Eren continued to stand mortified and fully prepared to be banned from the trip. “That’s more like it.” was the reply he got and a small satisfied sounding snort as he walked past Eren into the living room.

In Erwin’s room Armin had settled on his bed texting Jean asking if he was on his way. Erwin had finished packing but was setting up for the other stand in RAs to take over. Someone has to be available 24 hours, Erwin had told him. “I’ve enjoyed my time as an RA but I can’t wait till next semester.” Armin perked up at that, “what?” Erwin swirled around in his seat, “Levi and I have decided to buy a house, a very specific one that is coming on the market next month. We’ve always loved it and it needs a little work but it’d be a good investment if we ever decided to sell it, though if we’re not living in it then we’ll probably rent it out.” Armin pressed, “You’re buying it with Levi?” Erwin nodded, “Armin, Levi and I are very close. Now, I don’t want to burden you with a lot of details right now since we’ve not been seeing each other for long but I’m sure that Levi and I will either live together for the rest of our lives or within a short distance of one another. We get things about each other from our time overseas that we don’t want to have to explain to others who’ll just leave or not understand. It may be that we are able to buy the house but not get out of our RA contracts till the end of the year. In fact, we’re expecting that to be the case.” Erwin opened his arms to Armin making grabby hands. He slid off the bed to sit in his lap, “I’m very serious about you, though. I know we haven’t been together long but,…” Armin nodded, “No, I understand, this feels right. I’m not going anywhere unless you’ve got some serious secrets and even then I’ll need to weigh the pros and cons.” Armin giggled. “I do have secrets but I think you’ll be able to accept them when they come out.” Erwin kissed Armin’s temple as the rocked in the chair cuddling with one another.

Jean and Marco arrived shortly after Eren and Levi settled in on the couch. Levi looked disgusted to be sitting on it but he’d given Eren snacks to give to Donner and wanted to sit by him. Eren was shocked he’d sat down with him but figured it was to watch the dog. Erwin and Levi decided to take both of their cars since everyone couldn’t fit in just one with the dog. Erwin offered for Jean and Marco to ride with him after Levi had already put Eren’s bag along with Donner’s small one in his. Eren wasn’t complaining. Erwin had an amazing car and Armin had told him about so the white Mercedes wasn’t too much of a surprise. It was when Levi pulled up in his obsidian black metallic G63 AMG Luxury SUV Mercedes that Eren figuratively lost his shit. This car only added to the overall badass vibe Eren got from Levi. It was practical, German, and damn sexy. Armin shook his head, “Eren, you have no reason to drool Mister I drive a Porsche.” Both Erwin and Levi looked at Eren, “I can still appreciate a nice car, Armin, damn.” Erwin smiled, “What kind?” Eren closed the back door after Donner hoped in, “Macan Turbo.” Levi and Erwin exchanged glances. “What?” both shrugged, “Nothing.” Eren was obviously being left out of an inside conversation but he didn’t have time to care because they were all leaving and Levi was going to be all his for the drive up.

Chapter Text

The drive to the house took about an hour and a half before they pulled up to a sprawling estate. The long driveway was punctuated by cherry trees and the yard was manicured and landscaped with close attention to detail. The plantation house had a wraparound porch. The shutters were black and the front door a bright cherry red with a plaque above the doorbell proclaiming it the “Cherry Plantation.” The group made their way into the house hearing the low hum of music. Hanji was already three sheets to the wind with Mike following close behind. A panicky Molbit seemed to be concerned with something by the stove and Petra along with her fiancé Eld were arguing with Oluo. There were various bottles of alcohol and beer cans on the breakfast island. Hanji was excited to see everyone and made a typical fuss, knocking over a million things and being pushed and pinched by Levi when they attacked him.

Mike gave Erwin a big bear hug, “really glad y’all could come. How do y’all want to do rooms?” Hanji started squawking, “OOOH THEY JUST GOT HERE MIKY, LET THEM REST!” Mike rolled his eyes, “well, some people will have to share, that’s all. So, start picking out your buddy. We’ve got the couches if some people just absolutely need to be alone. All the beds are clean and made and theirs towels and other stuff in the bathrooms so don’t worry. Each room has its own bathroom, thank God.” Mike returned to his beer while everyone introduced themselves. Eren and Petra hit if off instantly chatting away. There was tense moment when they were joined with Levi. Petra and Levi were extremely close given the way she spoke to him. A tingling of Jealousy stirred within Eren, causing him to bow out of the conversation. He wished he knew even a fraction of what Petra must know about Levi. Erwin called them all over to discuss dinner but when Levi left Petra stayed close to Eren.

Everybody was hungry and Erwin suggested they order Pizza if that was okay with Levi. “I know you try to keep things in accordance to kashrut as much as you can but sometimes you make exceptions.” Levi shrugged and said that was fine as long as they got him just a cheese and pesto pizza with black olives from Lake Time, Pie Time and tell them it’s for Levi Ackermann. Eren had found out that Levi tried to observe the laws of kashrut and keep kosher when he was out but certainly when he cooked himself. Eren had joined him for dinner and was amazed to see how he prepared his meals and then serve the various courses. It was daunting for Eren to imagine keeping that kind of a commitment and asked as many questions as he could. Levi had answered his questions but ended stressing that he wasn’t perfect, he defined his faith for himself and tried to keep modern but still hang on to the things he enjoyed as a child. He chose to go to a Reform Temple for that reason. Eren asked him if they could talk about this more and Levi promised that at a later time that would be fine, asking him to shut up and eat his fish before it got cold.

Erwin took the orders as everyone started back drinking and having a good time. Petra pulled at Eren’s shirt, “So, what do you think of Levi?” Her petite mouth formed a playful smile, “I hear you’ve been spending some time with him.” Eren could feel the blush on the back of his neck, “where did you hear that from?” Petra snorted, “Levi himself. I was really glad to hear that. Levi doesn’t make friends and I worry about him.” Eren smiled, “You’ve known Levi a long time?” Music started playing louder over the speakers, “Yeah, Levi and Erwin were stationed with my fiancé. Sometimes my Eld would go missing for a week or two without any communication and Levi started sending me updates. We began a personal correspondence that turned into a really great friendship; he actually saved my fiancé’s life. I’ll always be indebted to him.” Erwin was grabbing his keys and coat while Armin trailed behind, “Really? Do you mind telling me the story?” Eren needed to hear this story.

Petra told Eren that while out on a routine patrol of the city Eld’s squad came in contact with Levi and Erwin’s. They spent the first few hours together before Eld was called to another area of the city where there was a dispute of some sort. It was all supposed to be routine. No one thought that a bomb hidden underneath fruit in stand on the corner would go off. No one expected it on a sunny day, when they had just had lunch with their friends, when they were just supposed to be settling an argument between two civilian farmers. The three other soldiers with Eld were too close and killed instantly, shrapnel tearing through flesh and bone. He had stopped to throw away the rest of his soda when he felt the intense pain in his chest. He couldn’t hear anything. He just found himself on the ground, watching the smoke clear and billow up into the crystal clear blue sky, he felt nothing in his legs or arms, just the dull thrumming of his blood in his ears and an overwhelming heavy sense of “why me?”

Levi heard the blast. It was the sickening realization that it came from where Eld was supposed to be that made him tear away from his squad. Levi had entered in as a medic after showing a natural inclination for it and out-performing all of the field surgeons he was pitted against. Donner, his young German Sheppard pup assigned to him for his anxiety disorder and as an impromptu body locator, upon hearing the blast pulled him towards the blast zone with a sense of determination that mirrored his own. Levi tore down the path with Erwin quick on his heels, gun slapping against his back, boots crunching on the sandy road. Erwin’s squad started fighting with a group of insurgents who used the bomb to lure them in while he scanned the faces of the bodies on the ground. Each face scorched itself in his mind. Every one that wasn’t Eld’s put him more on edge for the moment he would find him, see that he was dead, and lead him to tell Petra over a broken static Skype connection, breaking her heart.

Eld was to the side against a building, out of the way from the road due to the blast. Levi saw him reaching out to him barely able to move his fingers. In a matter of seconds he was over him, ripping and pulling away at the clothing around his chest. He could see there were three punctures, two deep but not as near dangerous as the third piece of metal shrapnel lodged deep in the chest cavity in or touching Eld’s heart. The situation was grim. Eld would more than likely die if he didn’t have surgery right away. Levi opened his field kit that he had customized without the OK of his superiors. Erwin suspected he had done this but let Levi do as he pleased. Erwin hadn’t been the only one Levi to be saved by Levi’s quick thinking and medical skill.

Morphine was out of the question as Levi poured alcohol onto the area and his hands. He started operating on Eld right there. His chances were so low that this was Levi’s last option and it more than likely wasn’t going to work. He found the shrapnel less than a centimeter from Eld’s heart right against the left ventricle under the pulmonary vein. He removed it, stitching like his life depended on it as blood threatened to fill the cavity. Time was passing by, slowly, in silence. Levi blocked everything out. He didn’t notice the wall he was against littered with pits from shells, he didn’t notice the screams, the flames of a Hummer on fire that had come in as reinforcement to be taken out by a homemade made rocket, he didn’t notice the innocent family three stories above crouched under their dining room table as their windows exploded into thousands of miniature shards that covered their floor. Eld was his world and saving his life was his mission. That was the choice he made.

They were pulled out, Eld airlifted with Levi accompanying him. He needed to be resuscitated twice on the way before being carted into another surgery to make sure Levi’s one was successful. Levi sat in the waiting room with Donner in silence waiting to hear if Eld would live or die. He looked at his hands, dirty with blood and had what started a long history of brutal panic attacks while Erwin tended to his other wounded men. He found Levi in the corner of the waiting room sobbing, clawing at his skin and tearing it. He picked him up and cleaned him in the only private shower in the building. Erwin was the one who contacted Petra while Levi turned up the bottle in his bunk with Donner by his side. Eren heard the story, obviously enraptured and unaware of the personal reactions of Levi and Erwin since Erwin had chosen to leave out as much as possible and focus only on the positives with Petra. It was still enough to move them. As Petra became teary eyed, he too started to become emotional. Eld looked over brushing her shoulder, “You tellin’ sad stories again?” His smile was kind as she nodded taking a napkin from Eren he grabbed off the bar. “Yep, you know me, sentimental and always killin’ moods.” She laughed sweetly and they all returned to celebrating Hanji while Erwin and Armin were on their way to get the pizzas.

Erwin drove to the restaurant weaving through the roads illuminated by the pale moonlight. The waters glistened creating an nostalgic feeling as Armin leaned against the window. Soft music, Chopin, played as the trees thinned out towards the bridge. Erwin slowed down over the bridge, “You look beautiful right now.” His voice was soft, sincere and Armin blushed. “You’re not so bad yourself.” They had been flirting endlessly since they had been interrupted in the parking lot. Erwin had sent flowers to Armin, left him sweet notes, he’d even started sitting by him in his World History class prompting jealous remarks from other students about TA’s pet. Armin didn’t mind. He’d always wanted someone like Erwin: strong, independent, mentally solid and a old school. Armin reached over to softy stroke Erwin’s face. His stubble scratched against the soft skin of the back of his hand.

As if they were in a movie, Erwin captured Armin’s hand kissing it lightly, “You’re very distracting.” His voice was gruff, “You know that?” Armin was suddenly extremely hot. “You don’t know the things you do to me,” Erwin turned onto a side street still kissing Armin’s hand, the back, the wrist, his knuckles. They approached the restaurant, parking in the front. “You want to stay here or come inside?” Armin’s face was flushed but sitting in the car alone and away from Erwin wasn’t what he wanted. He unfastened his seat belt as Erwin turned off the car. Inside it was bustling with large groups talking about the game. Many were still in their cover-ups and swimsuits having spent the day on the waters listening to the game over radios or at their houses before boating over. Erwin approached the counter, “I’m here to pick up two orders: Erwin Smith and Levi Ackermann.” The man laughed bringing up two bags from beneath the counter, “You tell Levi to “go fuck himself,” alright?” The man smiled taking Erwin’s card. Armin didn’t understand but Erwin just laughed heartily before promising to do so.

Once outside Erwin asked if Armin wanted anything to drink other than what was at the house. He was going to get some other liquor and sprite. Armin asked if they could get cherry coke or vanilla. Erwin promised him they could. They got back inside the car and drove to the nearest gas station a few miles past the pizza place to get the things. Once inside the car Armin was feeling more talkative. “Erwin, wanna ask me a question and I’ll ask you one?” The road was covered again by trees blocking out most of the moonlight, “Of course. What is your greatest fear?” Armin didn’t have to think long, “Abandonment. I also fear that I could become fiendishly manipulative if I was afraid someone I cared about was going to abandon me. It’s something I actively try not to do. I watch myself closely.” Erwin hummed, “that’s very insightful of you. Why do you fear abandonment?” Armin fiddled with his cufflink, “its text book, Erwin. I expected more of you.” Erwin chuckled, “Your parents always leaving, I would assume. But, did you not feel wanted by the Jaegers?” Armin had but after finding out that Eren had developed some level of feelings for him he’d grown afraid that if they pursued anything and didn’t work out he’d be cast out again. “I never wanted to jeopardize it.” The next track began to play, a Nocturne, “Eren liked you more than friends and you didn’t want to risk the friendship nor the family, that’s smart, tough, but smart. I understand. Did he?” Armin shook his head, “we never talked about it really. Jean liked me too at the time and we all had our fun it just…I never let either of them think it was more than just fun, you know? Jean and Eren had a fling before Jean and Mikasa started dating. That almost wrecked us.”

Erwin coughed, “You three have all…been intimate with one another?” Armin nodded, “I mean, how else were we going to find out about stuff? Our choices were pretty limited, while Jean is bisexual Eren and I are pretty much only attracted to men. We definitely didn’t have many choices. So, we were just friends with benefits when it suited us. We’re not doing that now, if you’re wondering.” Erwin cleared his throat again, “I wasn’t” he murmured provoking a smirk from Armin, “You certainly were, probably imagining it, too. Such a perverted thing to do,” Armin stretched back in his chair laying his head to the side to watch Erwin. Erwin was looking at him out of the corner of his eye. Armin bit his lip, sliding his hand over to Erwin’s arm rubbing small circles. Erwin’s face flushed red, he was burning alive because of this little nymph. “It’s your turn,” he was proud at how controlled he sounded when his very world was tainted in sinful desire.

Armin continued rubbing small circles into Erwin’s arm, noting how protective of it he seemed. “Can you tell me some about your time in the military?” Erwin was almost at the bridge, “I’ll tell you something short since we’re almost at the house. I was 17 about to turn 18 when I knew I wanted to be a marine. I wanted to serve and serving in one of the hardest branches was something that appealed to me. I showed up at basic training after telling my father a week before I enlisted, he was less than thrilled, and it was hell. It was tough, I mean, I was fit but this was insane. I wasn’t doing too badly in comparison to most but there was this one guy, he was unstoppable. I marveled at his determination. Everything he did came naturally to him like he’d been doing this his whole life. I got to know him while we would take showers. I know, I know, who talks in the showers? We did because I had to ask how he was able to do things that most civilians wouldn’t know was even possible and he told me that everything was easy because all of his mistakes had already been made. I didn’t understand it till one day he told me he’d been fighting since he was a child, fighting to survive. This was nothing in comparison to what he’d already lived through.” Armin interrupted, “It was Levi wasn’t it?” Erwin snorted, “Yes, it was. We were inseparable. I swear he hated me but I really liked him. We were teamed up and forced to work together. We were in the same squad for a while. I was the leader and he was our medic, eventually he got his own squad but that’s not something I want to talk about right now.” Armin knew that must be about the incident that they sued over. “Anyway, so we’re at this bar one night after a long, long day in Egypt. It’s some Coptic Christian meets Hebrew meets Arabian Nights place Levi found. He orders tea and we’re all drinking pretty heavily. When his tea is served he’s excited, and that’s pretty rare for him to actually show emotion but like I said we’re all drunk and so is he, and he picks the cup up and all we hear is this shattering noise and we look over and Levi’s jus holding the handle of this tea cup looking at the floor where his precious rare tea is and not in his mouth and this belly dancer, I’m not really sure what she was if she was a character or you know if this was a bar geared towards western stereotypes I have no idea, but she comes over and is like “I’m so sorry sir” and he just stares at her like “what the fuck just happened” and we’re laughing making it way worse and she asks if there’s anything she can do to make up for it and he just asks for another cup of tea. Well, that’s practical. But she shakes her head stating that he’ll have to pay for the new cup because the tea leaves are so rare and there are issues with imports and exports at this point and he looks around and says “are you serious? That’s shit.”” Erwin and Armin start laughing but Erwin waves his hands, “No, no, listen, this gets better. So, this man comes out and is like yelling in Arabic and Levi suddenly decides to let everyone know he’s fluent in Arabic by standing up and starts yelling back at him and we can’t help but be terrified. Levi speaking in Arabic or Hebrew is literally terrifying. It’s almost as scary as his German and Russian.” Armin interjected, “How many languages does he speak?!” Erwin huffed, “All of them, I swear. It’s insane and makes me extremely jealous. Anyway, this ends up with them bringing out these large metal wash buckets and pistols. They each get into a bucket, a guy appears and puts one bullet in one gun and then they switch it up so no one knows who has the gun with the bullet or where the bullet is in the barrel, and they play the absolute sickest game of Russian roulette I’ve ever seen. They pointed the gun at one another, pulling the trigger, counting down until literally it comes down to Levi and this guy two clicks away from finding that bullet and then “pop” Levi shoots the guy in his arm winning the game. He then is presented with a whole box of that rare tea leaves and when the girl was like “take me with you” or whatever she said I was on the table at this point cheering at the badassery I just witnessed, he just stops, gives her the Levi “stare,” and says in Arabic something that I took as “No ma’am, the road ain’t no place for a woman” and then she burst into tears, falling on her knees and we leave.” Armin’s mouth was wide open as they both laughed pulling up to the house. Armin felt like he’d just watched an action film. He’d never be able to look at Levi the same again.

Before getting out of the car Armin pats Erwin one more time on the shoulder, “Do you have a badass story like that?” Erwin hummed to himself thinking, “You’d have to ask Levi, he’ll probably tell you about the prank I pulled on our commanding officer in basic.” Armin would be sure to do that. Grabbing his arm again he leaned over and kissed Erwin murmuring against his lips, “Thank you for the story.” Erwin got out of the car holding the pizzas and drinks in one arm and draping the other around Armin, giving his bum a little squeeze, as they entered the house.

Once inside, it was clear that everyone was going to need to eat and then go to bed. Everyone had drank enough to kill a horse and Hanji and Mike were currently grinding in a corner of the living room together. Erwin announced they were there and were greeted to a swarm of people. Levi and Eren were missing. Jean said they’d gone out to the back porch a little while ago and probably didn’t know they were there. Petra went to get them and everyone say down on the couches and chairs in the large living room to talk, eat, and make fun of whatever was on the TV.

When it came time to deciding who slept where things moved rather quickly. Eld, Petra, and Oluo already called one room that had two full size beds, Hanji and Mike had the master, Jean and Marco were put together, Eren and Armin, and then Levi and Erwin would take the room Levi normally used with the built in dog bed. Eren and Armin exchanged glances at the announcement of their sleeping arrangements. While Eren visibly pouted, Armin wore a content smile when everyone glanced around to make sure that was okay. Armin was sure there had to be a reason but he also was miffed that he’d not be getting to spend alone time with Erwin after their hectic schedules had kept them apart with only a small lunch and coffee date to tide them over. He was itching to make out with him and release some of this sexual tension. Eren didn’t know if he was ready to be alone with Levi like that but he didn’t like the option being taken away from him right out of the gate.

The couples split up going to bed and promising a full day of fun on the water. Levi and Eren disappeared to the porch again leaving Armin and Erwin the only souls in the living room. Jean and Marco turned most of the lights out by mistake but Erwin told them that was fine, they’d be going to bed soon anyway and Levi could show Eren to his room. Armin moved from his spot on the couch to Erwin’s lap, laying his head over his heart. Erwin brought his arms around him rubbing soothing circles into his side and arm, “I’d foolishly thought I’d be spending hours kissing you in the dark this weekend. What’s up with that?” Erwin hugged Armin tighter, “Levi and I have issues sleeping. He didn’t feel comfortable sharing with Eren and the couch isn’t a good option. I didn’t want you to have to deal with me yet, either.” Armin nodded, “I’m sorry, you’d think I had never once read anything about PTSD or common issues veterans have returning from war. I’m an idiot.” Erwin kissed the top of his head, “You’re most definitely not an idiot. You sure you’d be okay with a partner who yells, cries, or worse tries to hurt you in their sleep?” Armin had never considered it, “Do you do that? Try to hurt people in your sleep.” Erwin’s eyes were sympathetic, “Sometimes, it’s not often. Only if I wake up the wrong way and am startled.” Armin thought about Eren and how he’d come to really like Levi. For the first time Armin started to think about them as a potential couple, how he might comfort Levi or on the other hand not understand him. He hoped it worked itself out for both Levi and Eren. He hoped Erwin would let him try and help him as well.

Erwin lifted Armin’s chin, “Hey, let’s not get depressed or whatever. Let’s just go back to part in the car where you were being naughty and biting your lip casting seductive gazes at me. You know that naughty boys get punished.” Armin giggled as Erwin pushed him down on the couch covering him with his body. He hovered over him, drinking in the sight of him bathed in the light coming in from the French doors. Armin trailed his hands from Erwin’s hips up his sides pulling at his collar of his shirt. Erwin placed his knee between Armin’s legs sliding him down onto it moving it to rub against him. Erwin could feel himself half hard and twitching as Armin started to sigh as he found pleasure. He dove in for the kill kissing his petite mouth, plundering it as Armin arched into him. Erwin placed a hand on his hip keeping him pinned to the couch as Armin whined into his open mouth. His sounds were driving him wild and he knew Armin was doing it on purpose. “Don’t be so naughty. I’ll have to punish you.” Erwin’s voice was hoarse and deep as Armin bucked against him pulling him down, deepening the kiss. They were tangled in each other’s arms and legs grinding against one another for what seemed like ages until Armin thought he would burst. “Erwin,” he panted as Erwin continued to suck the same sensitive spot on his neck, “we have to stop or- I’m going to…ahh“ the sentence died, caught in his throat as Erwin pulled back picking Armin up and walking down the hall past door after door. There was a bathroom at the end that belonged to none rooms, used for cleaning up after a long day on the water no one would need to use it.

Erwin closed the door with his elbow pushing the lock and laying Armin on the rug. Armin was painfully aroused and so was Erwin. They started kissing again rubbing against each other with fervor, grinding, and drinking in each other’s soft moans. Erwin was so close but he wanted to see Armin come before he did. Armin’s hands came up to fist in Erwin’s sweaty and disheveled hair. Armin’s breaths were shallow and quick, “God, Erwin, uh..” Erwin ground down with his knee lifting Armin’s hips higher as his thighs began to twitch, “I’m going to…I can’t,” Erwin groaned, “Do it, baby. Let me see you come.” Armin lost it, coming hard ruining his pants. Erwin followed seconds later after feeling Armin pull his hair harder than was actually comfortable, sending chills down his spine. The after effects of their orgasm rippled through them as they laid on the floor panting and sweaty. Erwin moved to roll off of Armin so as not to crush him but Armin held him close whispering tiredly, “I like how heavy you are.” They stayed still for a few more minutes. “God, this is going to be so disgusting when we have to peel these off and change.” Armin said as Erwin chuckled, “Yeah, you want me to help clean you up?” Erwin winked, his face against the rug next to Armin’s, “I think that would lead to even more dirty situations.” Armin said patting his back and moving to get up.

They changed in their rooms, washing away the evidence as best they could. Erwin told Armin to bring his dirty clothes to him and he’d throw them in the wash with his own. When Erwin returned Armin was waiting in the hall dressed in pajamas covered with bunnies. “Kisses good night?” he asked innocently, “You’re wearing children’s pajamas.” He teased swooping down to kiss him, “Erwin, I liked what you said” Armin played with Erwin’s hoodie strings. Erwin furrowed his brow, “What did I say?” Armin let out a short laugh, “When you called my baby.” He whispered stepping up on his tip toes to kiss beneath his jaw, “Well, you are my baby.” Erwin wrapped his arms around him. Armin sighed looking up through his long lashes, “can I call you something? I’ve been thinking about it since the night we made out in your car.” Erwin swayed them side to side, “What’cha wanna call me, baby?” Armin blushed, “Don’t make fun of me. If you don’t like it that’s fine, but can I call you daddy?” Erwin stopped swaying; he was suddenly so quiet Armin feared he’d destroyed everything. He wasn’t oblivious that this was the sort of kink that could really repulse some people. It wasn’t like he was to going take it to the lengths some people did. He just thought of his older boyfriend as being a type of “big daddy” persona. Suddenly, Erwin was chuckling, full body rumbling and shaking. “Oh, if you want to call me daddy, then that’s fine. It took me a second to think about it but I’d really get off on you calling me that. What does that say about our issues with our parents?” Erwin continued to laugh as Armin nuzzled into him, “I don’t know, well I mean there are explanations but I don’t think we should over think it to death. I’m not expecting you to treat me like a 10 year old, let me just put that out there.” Erwin chuckled again, “To each his own. To each his own.” Erwin kissed Armin again telling him to hop on off to bed and promised to spoil his baby rotten in the morning. Armin fell sleep before Eren came back, sated and blissfully happy.

Chapter Text

The water was cold this early in the morning as he swam. He made long strokes, his body cut through the water like a pair of tailor's scissors cutting fabric for a beautiful dress, practiced, determined, sure. The sun, pale yellow, kissed the tops of the mountains as he broke the water.
Stroke, stroke, stroke.
It reminded him of early mornings, walking to shul in France before they were forced to come to the states, leaving it behind, leaving the music of the beautifully talented cantor behind.

Hinneh mah Tov umah naʿiym
sheveth aḥiym gam yaḥadh
He once heard a woman in Eygpt sing, her long unbraided hair was like a veil, she sounded so beautiful that he cried.

Hinneh mah Tov umah naʿiym
sheveth aḥiym gam yaḥadh
He never knew something could stay hidden from him for so long and return so quickly. Her voice was deep, familiar. It rang out in jubilation.

Hinneh mah Tov umah naʿiym
sheveth aḥiym gam yaḥadh
Lei lei lei leiiiiidaaa ahhha ahhhh aaaaa
He put his head down, plunging deeper under the water as it rang in his ears, memories of the day, the day he started to turn back.

Hinneh mah Tov, Hinneh mah Tov, uman na'iym sheveth aḥiym gam yaḥad

To turn his face back to God.

Hinneh mah Tov umah naʿiym sheveth aḥiym gam yaḥadh HA HA

The water held him as he sank deeper, deeper, and then he opened his eyes. Blue water and something deeper towards the bottom reaching up to him, reaching for him causing him to squint in frustration.

Hinneh mah Tov umah naʿiym sheveth aḥiym gam yaḥad,
Hinneh mah Tov umah naʿiym sheveth aḥiym gam yaḥad
LeiiEII leeii leieieieieiei
Just before the last note he realized it was the arms and hands of his own humanity, the weight of his ancestors, and worst of all the soldiers he’d never been able to save.

Leeeee EI

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Armin found Levi exploding out of the water gasping, his skin glistened as the water rolled off the porcelain flesh. His inky hair framed his face as full pink lips parted with an inhalation, “ahh,” before he opened panicked eyes wide with terror. Armin slowly got into the water as not to alarm him, swimming over as Levi’s breathing came in shallow and labored. Levi noticed Armin, waving him off in an attempt to deny help but Armin simply floated over, his hair in a small pony tail and features smooth as took hold of Levi’s hand, applying pressure with his thumb to his palm, a pressure point known to relieve tension. “Would you like to just float around out to the middle or stay here?” Levi nodded and they slowly made their way further out, Armin held Levi’s hand under the water offering him something to focus on other than the hundred of ghosts at the bottom of the lake.

Eren found them outside after he woke up alone in an empty bed in a strange place with Donner scratching at the door. He came out on the pier looking at a little blond dot next to a little black dot and figured he’d join them. Stripping off his pajama bottoms and shirt he slipped into the water with just his briefs on making his way quietly over to them. The water refreshed him, making him notice for the first time Levi looked different. His face was tired, dark circles under his eyes, but the corners of his lips dropped slightly, causing him to look genuinely sad instead of just displeased. Eren wanted to know what had upset him.

Armin was talking to him soothingly like he did Eren when he got upset. Levi had calmed down considerably by the time Eren approached them, concern clear on his face. “Don’t look at me like that, brat. “ It lacked its usual blunt edge but Eren was just glad he was still acting somewhat like himself. “I can look if I want to.” He grinned swimming in a circle around them as Armin floated on his back. “Remember when we were kids and you taught me how to swim?” Eren laughed, “I remember it not being the safest thing. But, when is anything I do ever without a hint of danger?”

Armin told Levi that when they were growing up Armin was scared of the water but after a trip to the beach he developed a love of it and didn’t want to be afraid of it. He was staying at the Jaeger’s and asked if Mr. Jaeger would teach him how to swim. He said he would but was called in to work leaving Eren with the task of teaching him how to float. Armin had his floaties Mrs. Jaeger got him and his Pokémon swim trunks on when he went to wait by the swimming pool. Eren instead, thought that a sink or swim approach would be better and took him out to the pond and threw him in coaching from the side and taking years off Armin’s life. Levi smirked rolling his eyes at Eren as Eren laughed heartily nearly drowning himself. Levi swam over splashing Eren, “You’ll drain the lake if you keep your mouth open like that.”

Armin felt like a second wheel as he saw the way Eren smiled shyly back at Levi. Levi seemed to be okay now so he said goodbye leaving them to float in the water as he did laps before returning to the pier and going inside. Levi and Eren swam closer the tips of their fingers sometimes grazing against one another. “I was worried about you.” Eren whispered as Levi came by, his mouth grazing his shoulder. Eren went under, wetting his hair and wiping the water off his face.
Levi raised an eyebrow, “You were?”
“Yeah, Donner woke me up and I couldn’t find you.”
”He woke you up? What have you done to my dog? That’s not at all like him.”
Eren snorted, “He likes me.”
”He’s not the only one.” Levi swam away from Eren turning towards the pier, “I’ll race you.” Eren hoped his voice didn’t crack when he agreed. They raced towards the pier, Levi’s words lingering between them. One anxious to know if he’d made the wrong move, been to forward, the other shocked that the feeling was mutual and there was hope.

Eren beat Levi by a fraction of a second. His hands grabbed the smooth rubber around the edges of the pier searching for Levi. He heard Levi leaving the water, looked up to take in the sight of what was possibly the most arousing man he’d ever seen. He was insanely built, from his toned calves to his defined arms and then there were those abs that made Eren drool. Not to mention the now visible tattoos. He knew he wasn’t anything to sniff at either, but Levi was all muscle and stocky where Eren was lean and tall. Levi shook the water from his hair reaching for a towel. It was then that Eren noticed the jagged extensive scar along his left leg, faded pink and stark against the marble colored skin. “What are you wearing? All of your clothes are up here.” Eren blushed mumbling his words, “my underwear.” Levi smirked, “are you going to get out, brat? Or do you need help?”

Eren knew better to try and lift himself out of the water so he swam to the side where the ladder was and got out. He was chilled by the lack of sunlight and the early morning temperature. The house was located deep in the woods surrounded by tall trees shading the yard throughout the day and the waters around the pier. They were the only house in the slew and it created a sort of secluded paradise. Eren enjoyed the seclusion.”You’re shaking.” Levi walked over, draping his towel around Eren’s shoulders. Eren grabbed Levi’s arm, pulling him closer before he could leave, “Let’s go warm up.” Eren’s voice was low, playful. Levi smirked, “let’s.”

Hanji started cooking an all star worthy breakfast: eggs, bacon, grits, biscuits, ham, turkey bacon, gravy, and much more. Eren didn’t want to go sit in the living room yet. He wanted to be alone with Levi. They walked to the room Levi shared with Erwin but when they opened the door they found Erwin and Armin tangled together. Levi tsked, rolling his eyes in mock disgust hitting Eren when he started giggling. They opened the door to Eren and Armin’s room finding Donner at the foot of the bed. “I feel betrayed, old boy.” Donner’s tail thumped on the floor as Eren made to the bathroom to change out of his wet underwear into some lounge pants when he heard Levi tsk. “Where are you going, Eren?” Eren turned around to see Levi pulling the plantation blinds closed next to the bed. Eren could feel himself turning red, “I was going to change.” Levi captured Eren in a sultry gaze causing him to lose the ability to breathe. “You sure you want to do that?” Eren’s heart stopped for a split second, “You have another idea?” Levi’s hands came to rest on the tops of his trunks, tips of his fingers sliding under the top pulling at the elastic. Eren’s mouth was extremely dry, “Yeah, we could just get in the bed. It’s pretty warm.”

Eren’s pupils dilated at the sight of Levi taking his trunks off to let them fall by the floor. He whistled and Donner got up, walking with him to the door to be let out of the room. Eren admired his toned ass, flesh he wanted to sink his teeth into. Thank God for Levi, he thought.

When it seemed like Eren had lost the ability to move, Levi made his way over to him, pulling at the wet fabric. He pressed against him, leaning into him till their lips touched lightly. Eren’s small gasp made Levi smile as he kissed him hotly. He took Eren’s bottom lip between his teeth, pulling gently as Eren brought his hands to hips, finally able to move. Levi chuckled, the sound making Eren shiver. It was like imagining tendrils of black smoke and raw power seeping out of him coating Eren in its thick and suffocating soot. Eren’s hands came up to card roughly through the undercut of Levi’s hair earning an appreciative growl from him. He barely registered the feeling of the bed on the back of his thighs before Levi pulled away.

Levi flashed a wicked smile at Eren, making his knees go weak. He fell to his knees and left butterfly kisses on the skin below Eren’s navel and the fabric of his wet briefs. Already painfully hard Eren didn’t have time to be embarrassed by the fact a few rough kisses already had him needy and willing. Levi slowly pulled down the wet material leaving Eren’s erection on display. He took a moment to appreciate its length and girth and ignoring his own aching erection he planted a soft kiss on the tip, pulling back to lick the underside from base to tip. Eren put his hands on Levi’s shoulders only for them to be batter away, “Hands on the bed or I’ll stop.” Eren’s hands were placed on the mattress behind him. “Got it, brat?” Levi’s stern look alone made Eren want to come, “Y-yes-s,” Levi raised his eye brow, “Yes what?” His voice was so deep and commanding Eren peeped out, “Y-yes, S-sir. Yes, sir.” Eren was rewarded with Levi taking him into his mouth, first the tip that he suckled and nibbled and then all the way to the back of his throat. He set a moderate pace, bobbing off occasional with a “pop” and licking at Eren’s things and biting them lightly. Eren couldn’t take it, he was already at the edge and they hadn’t even been doing it that long before he said, “Levi…ahh… I’m s-sorry…I’m gunna- mm” Levi took him to the back again, letting Eren come and come hard. He swallowed every bit he could, wiping the last bit that escaped out of the corners of his mouth. “That didn’t take long, was that your first blow job, kid?” Eren covered his face with his hands.


”No, I was just…
”What?”
”I was just…you’re…
”It’d be great if you could speak in full sentences.”
”You’re so damn hot it’s insane and I’ve been aroused all day.”
Levi scoffed standing back up, “So, it’s all my fault and not that you’re an inexperienced kid?”
”Exactly.”

Eren smiled still shy and unsure what to do. He followed Levi’s lead and got in the bed with him. They laid side by side until Eren rolled over facing Levi. “Can I ask about your tattoos? I know some people have really personal stories and reasons for getting them, so if you don’t want to tell me that is totally fine.” Levi pulled the coved higher on them turning his head to look at Eren, “You can ask me whatever you want. You don’t have to apologize or be shy about it.” Eren moved closer, “How many do you have?”


Levi counted, “Well, I have the hand of Miriam on the inside of my right arm.”
Eren looked seeing the delicate and intricate red ink tattoo about 3 inches wide and 4 inches long,.
“I have “non, je non regrette rien” on the inside of my left bicep.” Levi opened his arm wider for Eren to see.
”No, I regret nothing at all?”
Levi nodded. “I love Edith Piaf. My mother played and sang her music all throughout my childhood. The song and the meaning of the lyrics really mean a lot to me.”
I have the “Chai” symbol on my left wrist and the huge raven wings on my shoulders with the feathers coming down on my arms. I plan on getting more. I really want to finish my back and have made an appointment when we get back to school to have it done. ” Eren kissed the skin of Levi’s exposed shoulder. “I’ve always wanted some.” Levi snorted, “What did you want?” Eren hid his face , “You’d make fun of me so I’m not telling.”

Eren started rubbing his hand up and down Levi’s side. “You’re so bad ass. You know that already, I’m sure. But you’re so bad ass it hurts me.” Levi reached over cupping Eren’s jaw and pulling him up to look him in the eyes, “Shut up and kiss me.” They stayed in bed kissing and exploring each other until Hanji called for them.

Jean and Marco were enjoying their morning waking up together. Jean hated the sun and had pulled the curtains closed and shut ever shutter but a small amount of light from the bathroom managed to peek into the dark bedroom. Jean woke first, admiring the sleeping angel next to him. He reached out to slowly trace Marco’s lips. Marco’s eyes slowly opened sleep laden and fuzzy. It was warm, so warm in the bed that both bodies were reluctant to move. Jean and Marco had fallen asleep after a short make out both in their boxer briefs tangled in each other’s limbs. Jean noticed he wasn’t the only one suffering from morning wood. Marco laughed as he tried to pull away only keeping a tight hold on him and softly smiling.


”Morning, Johnny Boy.”
”Boungiorno, mon cher.” The wind from Jean’s airy laugh tickled Marco’s face.
”Bonjour, mio amore.”

Marco and Jean exchanged lazy kisses, softly touching one another until Hanji sent Mike to tell them breakfast was ready. Jean groaned as Marco laughed, disentangling themselves and heading off to brush his teeth. Jean came up behind him in the mirror grabbing a handful of hair. “It’s getting long.” Marco hummed in acknowledgement. “I’m thinking about shaving the sides shorter like a buzz cut and leaving the top longer and styling it up. Whatcha think?” Marco spat, “Gunna leave it two different shades?” Jean smirked, “Yeah, I want the sides to stay the same and bleach the top more.” Marco turned appraising Jean, “Will you let me help?” Jean nodded, “Yeah babe, you can help.” Marco sat back pulling Jean forward, “I think you’d look good. Like punk rock.” Jean smiled laughing, “Yeah, I wanna look rock meets punk.” Marco leaned in closer, “Is that why your nipples are pierced, cause you’re a rebel?” Jean barked a laugh at that swooping in to capture his lips. Marco and Jean kissed more until Hanji came in admonishing them for letting their food get cold, didn’t they know Eren could eat an entire cow himself? Jean did know and pulled Marco down the hall in haste.

The rest of the weekend was full of laughter, sarcastic come backs, and relentless teasing. Apparently, Armin and Erwin hadn’t been as quiet as they thought when Mike came to get them and the various purple marks over the expanse of Armin’s torso; Erwin wore a burnt orange long sleeved surf shirt obscuring anything, leading to endless comments from Hanji. They had a pontoon boat for everyone to ride and drink as well as a few jet skis and Levi’s blue and white ski boat. Eren and Donner ran around on the pontoon before joining him and Erwin and Mike decided that racing on the jet skis around the slew and into the main water way would be a great idea leaving the others to find a spot and anchor.

The highlight of the weekend was having Levi pull them on the intertube with his boat. He was notorious for knocking people off after only a few minutes. There were two tubes, a long rocket shaped one three people could sit on and a round donut one they could ride single or doubles if someone sat in the lap of their partner. Erwin decided he’d challenge Levi to see who could stay on longer. He sat in the tube, grabbing the sides as Levi drove around slowly letting the line out. Armin had joined Erwin in the ski boat while Eld, Oluo, and Jean watched from their jet skis out a ways and Hanji, Mike, Marco, and Petra cheered drinking their mimosas from the anchored pontoon. The limit was 5 minutes to try and knock someone off. If they both stayed on then it was sudden death and Mike would drive them. Needless to say, Mike was apparently a hidden sadist and neither wanted him to pull them.

Levi gunned it, speeding down the main channel as other boats whizzed by. Eren thought it was going pretty well for Erwin, though his size made things difficult. His legs kept getting pulled under the water to the underside of the float while he had to sit up in the tube and not get drug backwards into the water. Eren, Donner, and Armin hung on for dear life as he started doing donuts only to spin out and zig-zag back to the slew. Erwin lasted 4 minutes and 18 seconds before the water captured his legs pulling him under with the water. Armin pulled him in kissing him when he got in the boat and as he sat down behind the wheel, “you did great.” He murmured against his lips, “Thanks, baby.” Levi rolled his eyes walking over to ruffle Eren’s hair, “You feed me the rope.”

Levi’s approach was different from Erwin’s. He sat with his legs crossed inside the tube resting on the thin material that made the bottom of the hole. He gripped the handles as Eren feed the rope and Erwin prepared himself before starting. He wasn’t going near as fast as Levi had gone. Armin adjusted his sunglass looking back at Erwin. “You’re not going that fast?” Erwin smiled, “Did you wanna go fast, baby?” Armin’s lips quirked at the edges, “I want you to win, Erwin. I only date winners.” Eren snorted, “Well, you’re gunna to have to settle for a loser. Levi’s going to win.” Armin slapped at Eren’s arm as Donner watched Levi intently by his side, his ears laid back as he tried to remain balanced. Eren had his hand on his collar for safety. It was then Erwin picked up speed, shooting at a 45 degree anger across the channel with no regard for the laws of boating. Other boats veered off course to avoid the tuber, cursing him as they passed.

Armin let out a squeal of joy as Levi tightened his grip trying to turn his body against the pull so that he wasn’t knocked out by the wakes of the other boats and into the run off of his own which would surly drown the tube and bump him over the edge. Eren bit his lip, they’d only been at it for 2 minutes and Erwin was proving to be a strategic genius. He picked highly trafficked water ways with lots of waves from other jet skis, he pulled donuts as soon as Levi righted himself. The worst was the angling of the jet streams forcing Levi to turn up the sides of the tube in order to not let the wall of water wash inside. 4 minutes and Armin’s face was smug when they hit a rough patch of water making the boat jump up and down as it skidded across the water, bouncing Levi up and down. A huge wave came by as Erwin speed up. Levi and the tube were airborne about 5 feet out of the water. He lost his grip coming out of the tube and Eren wanted to close his eyes to not see the moment Levi would hit the water and feel the sting of it.

Erwin let out a cheer as the tube fell down Levi falling after it. Then, suddenly, Levi was back in the tube, hands holding on, and his legs back crossed as he tried to sit forward keeping the tube stable. Eren and Armin’s mouth were wide open, how on earth did he do that!? The 5 minute mark was up and Erwin slowed the boat down allowing Levi to rest for a moment and open and close his hands. Erwin was a sore loser and he sped up, catching him off guard and knocking him out of the tube into the water. Eren jumped in after Levi swimming over to him. Levi was tired and gladly allowed Eren to help him back on the boat as Armin pulled the tube in and Erwin laughed finishing his corona light. They pulled back in to the slew and up to the pier where everyone was waiting and discussing the challenge excitedly.

Hanji ran up to Levi hugging him, “You won didn’t you? That’s why Erwin pulled such a dirty move. Hehhehehe.” For once Levi didn’t push them away, instead hugging them, “Yeah, old bastard. He’s such a sore loser.” Donner jumped out of the boat over to Levi’s side, nipping at his hand. Hanji looked at Levi, “Are you okay?” Levi nodded, “yeah, I got a little upset out there and he’s just checking. I should probably give him a treat, too.” Eren came to his side, “Uh…well..” Levi rolled his eyes, “You gave him treats? You know you don’t need to make that a habit.” Eren looked like a sad child, “I know. But, we were playing and I had some left over from yesterday and he found them.” Hanji patted Levi’s shoulder, “I knew you two would be great together.” Levi blushed and Eren thought it was the cutest thing he’d ever seen.

The group was having a crawfish boil and then they’d be driving back to campus after two fun days in the sun and a fending off the major hangover that was going to wreck them come Tuesday. Eren and Levi went to Eren’s room to clean up and shower while Armin and Erwin made their way to Erwin’s room to do the same. Molbit had left after pizza Saturday due to work but since he was returning to school that Monday he stopped by with all of the extra seafood they needed. He was already preparing everything while the others went to bathe.

Armin hopped into the bedroom with his spare clothes while Erwin stepped into the shower. Hmmmm Armin thought smirking to himself, I think I’ll join him. Armin slinked into the white bathroom with its double sink, soap stone counter, and walk in shower. The glass was frosted but he could make out the outline of Erwin’s body. Armin opened the door to come in, admiring the golden god before him. His shoulders were so broad and his back so well defined it appeared to Armin that he had be made by the great sculptors of Greece or Rome. His buttocks firm and defined, his arms strong and legs stretched on for days. Armin could feel himself getting light headed by how hot he was. Erwin heard Armin as he stepped forward to the shower head and turned to look over his shoulder, “hey, what are you doing?” Armin moved under the head wetting his hair.

He poured shampoo into his hand working it into lather and applying it to his hair. He looked up at Erwin innocently, “taking a shower. You?” Erwin took a moment to appreciate Armin’s form. He was petite but athletic. His chest and abdominal were strong and defined but his legs and arms were lean like a biker or swimmer. His hips were broader, more like a woman’s and his round supple bottom accentuated them. They started rinsing the shampoo out of their hair when Armin realized he’d never seen Erwin shirtless or even in short sleeves. He looked at his chest and then noticed that starting at his shoulder above his left pectoral a jagged scar began. It traveled down the length of Erwin’s arm. The skin was raised slightly and red from the heat of the shower. It looked like he’d had surgery on it by some of the marks that didn’t flow with the scar pattern. Erwin kept turning it away from Armin, hiding it. He’s ashamed of it. That’s why he wears long sleeves all of the time. Armin thought back to Levi’s scar on his leg. He’d asked Eren about it but Eren said he didn’t want to ask him what happened yet. Armin figured they must have been injured together.

”You don’t have to hide your arm, Erwin, not from me.” Erwin’s face fell, “It’s ugly.” Armin moved in front of him kissing the beginning of the scar over his pectoral and over the shoulder, “It’s not ugly, it’s a part of you and you’re, God, you’re heaven sent.”

Armin’s hands traced his arm as the water rolled off of them. Erwin’s large hands came to rest on Armin’s hips. “You’re too kind to me, baby,” his husky voice barely audible over the sound of the water pouring down like cleansing rain. “I’ll take care of you, Daddy.” Armin’s lips kissed every inch of skin he could find while Erwin rocked them back and forth. His lips came to rest on the shell of Armin’s ear, blowing hot air across it before he kissed it. “mmmm” Armin twisted in his grip, “Would you let me make you feel good, daddy?” He stood on his tiptoes kissing the underneath of his jaw, nipping at the taunt skin. “You already did,” he slid his hand around to grab at Armin’s bottom, “why don’t you let me show you how good you made me feel?”

Armin’s breath hitched as Erwin’s fingers ventured into the cleft of ass. Stroking gently and massaging deeply. Erwin held him close, as he took a second to get the soap from the ledge, applying to Armin’s back and bottom. He put the soap back, returning to massage and tease Armin’s cleft. It was when he started playing with his entrance, brushing over it lightly and applying pressure, that Armin became vocal. Tiny whimpers escaped him as he bucked back on the finger. Erwin leaned down to his ear, “Do you want this, baby?” Armin whimpered again, moaning softly as he tried to force Erwin’s finger in, just a little bit, craving more stimulation. “Do you like this?” Erwin pushed with a decent amount of pressure, entering just to the first knuckle, “Do you finger yourself, baby? Tell me.” He kissed Armin’s neck, licking a stripe up to the shell of his ear, “tell me.” Armin pushed back, “yes” his voice small and needy. Erwin rewarded him inserting his finger fully, pushing and pulling, in and out, slowly, teasingly. Armin moaned into his shoulder, biting back a louder response.

Armin panted, “please” as he rocked back and forth as much as Erwin’s tight grip would allow. “Have you done it recently?” His tone was calm but the rough timbre betrayed how aroused he was as he positioned another finger at his entrance. “Yeah” Armin’s breathed out trying to push back. “When?” He bucked back in frustration, “F-friday. Erwin, please, god…” Erwin pushed in slowly, “What did you think about?” Armin’s eyes were closed, he felt like he would die if Erwin didn’t finger him properly. “W-why-y?” Erwin chuckled, “I’m curious.” Armin opened his eyes looking at their reflection in the clean unfrosted glass of the shower door. His words came out in a rush but he tried to make them as appealing as he could, “I thought about you, about how your large fingers would feel filling me up, stretching me out. My god, ah, your hands are so big. I love them. Please Erwin, this is torture.” Erwin relented, pushing in fully and stretching Armin, teasing out moans and gasps.

When he was content that Armin was now fully relaxed, he started searching for that special spot that would push Armin over the edge. He knew he found it when Armin started to spasm letting loose a low long moan Erwin was sure someone could hear through the wall of they were there. He continued his assault on Armin’s prostate while he writhed and panted against him, bucking back on his fingers. He accepted another of his fingers greedily, Erwin felt like he was going to come from the sight of Armin’s ecstasy. He rubbed his straining erection between them, against Armin’s stomach and his own leaking cock until finally with a gargled cry caught in their throats they came coating white ribbons over each other as the water slowly washed down their skin, cleaning them again and lulling Armin into a comfortable and satisfied state of bliss.

They left the shower wrapping themselves in their towels and started to dress. Armin pulled on a pair of navy shorts, an oversized short sleeved burnt orange shirt that hung off one shoulder and had a blue tiger paw printed in the middle and his glasses before sitting in one of the large chairs the room had by a reading nook. “Will your house have a walk in shower like that?” Armin questioned. “I don’t think there is one, actually. We’ll need to renovate the house to our tastes anyway and it’s large enough that there are two masters with on suit possibilities. It’s a huge house.” Armin brushed through his hair again. “How big is it? What’s it like?” Erwin pulled on a long-sleeved lightweight Nike microfiber white jogging shirt and faded wrangler jeans. “You look like a cowboy who went to the city for a fancy top.” Armin giggled as Erwin approached. “Really? And I was going to answer all of your questions and give you a ride on my horse but since you’re being so cruel I’ll offer it to someone else.”

Armin hit Erwin with his brush, “I think you’d like it if I was actually cruel to you. I bet you’d like sadist Armin.” Erwin blushed. “Oh my God, you would. You’d like it if I was dominating. Well, I’ll keep that in my pocket for future use. But, to put it out there, I’d rather be dominated and I like your style so let’s make that the norm, okay big daddy?” Erwin swooped down kissing Armin’s cheek. “The house is huge. It’s also a plantation style just off university with a ton of land. I think there’s about 80 acres. It’s perfect for cattle, horses, and other animals but horses are what we plan on getting and keeping in the stables they have.” Armin smiled, “wow, that sounds like a dream. Eren’s always wanted to live somewhere like that.”


Erwin started packing his toiletries up and arranging things in the room back to Levi’s liking. “Where have you always wanted live?”
Armin wrinkled his nose, “Everywhere.”
”Everywhere?”
”Yeah, I mean, I’ve wanted multiple houses. I wanted a loft in the city, a house on a beach because I love the water, a farm house near Eren, a vacation home in Germany, lake house in Denmark. I want to travel but not superfluous about it. I would love to have homes and live long enough and return often enough that I had friends in the communities. I also wanted a place where my friends could come and feel at home. I want homes….lots of warm homes.”
”That sounds wonderful to me.” Erwin’s smile was large and genuine.
“Will I have a room at your house?”
Erwin walked over offering him a hand to get up, “You’ll have whatever you want. I’d like to keep it a secret until I take you there so let’s save this conversation for later.”He winked and they went to join the others at dinner.

The party ended with fireworks and a birthday cake in the shape of a titan. Hanji specifically wanted a titan to carve up and Molbit delivered. Eren and Levi packed up the car with Donner while everyone else cleaned up and did the same. Soon they were all on the road back to the dorms, back to school.

Jean held Marco’s hand on the way back, softly stroking the tanned and calloused hands. When they got back to their dorm Armin and Eren said goodbye and went to their dorm room leaving Erwin and Levi to park and take over from the stand in RA’s. It was only 10 pm and Marco didn’t want to go back to his room after spending the last two nights sleeping next to Jean and kissing him whenever he wanted. Jean must have felt the same way because he picked Marco’s bag up with his own and opened the door for both of them as they made their way to his dorm room.

Turning on the overhead light Jean opened his closet putting his bag back into it as Marco walked over to his wall of pictures.
“Jean?”
”Yeah, babe?”
Marco turned on his heel to look back at Jean, “Did you leave the window open?”
”The win-“
The large window that was the focal point of the room was opened as his curtains, caught by the wind, floated out framing the night landscape.

Chapter Text

The weeks continued to pass and September was gone. With October brought Erwin’s birthday and Halloween, two major holidays in Armin’s opinion. He asked Erwin what he wanted to do for his birthday but since it feel in the middle midterms he said that he’d rather celebrate it on Halloween like he’d done the year before. Armin was slightly disappointed. He ran to the rare and out of print section of their favorite bookstore looking for something to get him. He found a collection of first edition George Orwell books on sale for a steal. He had to check with the owner to make sure that the price was correct. She was excited to find out it was for his boyfriend, stating that her wife love Orwell and if he was interested she was looking for someone to work part time. Armin told her he was very interested and took an application and her email address.

He bought him a polished leather flask in burnt umber that could also hold cigarettes because, as Armin had found out, he was very jealous of the one Levi had and he tended to smoke when he drank. Armin wrapped the flask separate from the books. He decided to wrap the gifts in white tissue paper with a simple silk orange ribbon. All in all, he was very proud and hoped Erwin would like the gifts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Everyone agreed that going out for Halloween together would be great and celebrating Erwin’s birthday would be a bonus. Jean and Marco discussed whether or not they’d go as a couple costume. Marco had been staying over at Jean’s dorm often and had gotten to know Eren and Armin well. Thankfully, Armin and Marco had become great friends but that didn’t keep Marco from getting jealous at the amount of attention Jean gave him. Sometimes their playful banter verged too much on flirting and Marco hated how upset it made him.

He was laying on Jean’s bed taking a break from his homework while Jean worked on his computer doing his Java lab.
“Babe?”
”Hmm?”
”Your room gives me the heebie jeebies.”
”I know. But, look at how big the bed is?”
”That doesn’t stop it from being creepy.
”True but I’m here and you’re basically able to move in and away from your loud fratabulous roommates. I mean, have you seen me? I’m worth the heebie jeebie feelings.”Jean’s smug face made Marco laugh before slapping his leg.
”Can I ask you a personal question, Jean?
”Anything, babe. Anything.”
”Are you a top or bottom?”
”Where did that come from?” Jean’s face was aghast as Marco shrugged. Marco sat up crawling over Jean to straddle him. They had made out plenty of times, touched each other but nothing really sexual. Jean was aware that many couples didn’t move in with one another for a year at least and Marco and Jean were practically playing house in his dorm. He worried that if they took things too fast he’d fuck it up and lose Marco. With Eren he’d messed everything up and Armin had always kept their boundaries clear. Sex was sex in some cases but sex with Marco was always going to be more than that. It scared him how attached he’d already become to him.

Marco rocked slightly, “Jean? Hello? Earth to Jean.” Jean looked up at Marco’s perfect smile. “I didn’t mean to make things strange but I was hoping we could talk about sex and how we see it going in general when we do other stuff.” Jean nodded, “Well, I’ve always kind of been a switch?”Marco gave him a quizzical look, “A switch?”


”Yeah, I’ve been a top and bottom. It depends on my mood and what my partner felt like doing.”
”So, you’ve had sex before.”
”Yeah. You?”
”Yep. Can ask what your number is?”
”Uh…four….”
”Oh?
”Why “oh?” What does “oh” mean?”
”Nothing I just didn’t really expect four.”
”Hey! What the fuck does that mean?!”
”Nothing!”
”What’s your number!?”
”Just one…”

Jean rubbed circles on Marcos hips. He was wearing one of Jean’s ACDC shirts and red boxers. Jean admired his long tan and freckled legs. He was runner for sure and that ass, that ass taunted Jean in his dreams. “Just one?” Marco nodded, “Yeah, it wasn’t a good relationship either.” His voice was soft, apologetic. “He was pretty…horrible.” Jean’s face contorted, How could anyone be horrible to Marco.”What did he do.” Marco carded his fingers through Jeans fauxhawk they had made a few days ago. They still needed to bleach it. “He was controlling. Mentally abusive towards the end and sex wasn’t pleasant. He wasn’t a good top and hurt me most of the time and then when he had me top he critiqued me and made comments. I was really insecure about myself and he made it worse.” Jean stopped rubbing, “Marco, it’s not going to be like that. I can promise you. I didn’t learn like that and I would never do anything you weren’t comfortable with or make comments that were belittling. My goal is to make you feel great, make you feel safe, make you feel loved, and have fun.” Marco smiled looking down at Jean, “You’re pretty amazing, you know that?” Jean smirked, “I know. How lucky you are.” Marco rolled his eyes, “So, I think when we do have sex I want you to be the top the first time. I want to know what it feels like to be topped the right way.”

Jean moved their things off the bed to the desk flipping Marco on his back, “You want me like this?” Marco was grinning ear to ear, “Yeah, just like that.” Jean hissed as Marco ground down on him. He leaned over him kissing him passionately. Marco deepened the kiss pulling on the back of Jean’s neck and rolling his hips up into him. Jean gasped, his cock already half hard and getting harder the longer Marco worked his body on him. Jean removed his painting shirt leaving only his lounge pants on. Marco attacked his chest, kissing all over until coming to Jean’s right nipple piercing. He sucked the nipple into his mouth, rolling his tongue against it making Jean keen and grind down on Marco harder. His free hand roamed Jean’s side and twisted the other nipple. Jean’s hands pulled Marco off of his nipple as he swooped in to attack Marco’s lips, pulling, sucking, and biting, making Marco groan in pleasure.

Jean reached between them freeing their erections. He stroked their cocks, spreading precome over their skin until Jean was able to bring both of them together in his hand. Marco gasped when he felt Jean’s hot flesh against his. The friction of his hand was delightful. They rolled against each other, drinking in each other’s moans and gasps till they were at the precipice. Jean slid his thumb over the slit of Marco’s cock pushing him over. His eyes were clenched shut as he rode out his orgasm hearing Jean follow soon after. They collapsed, boneless, on the bed. Jean didn’t mind laying in the mess as long as it was Marco’s mess. He listened to the thrumming of Marco’s heartbeat until he calmed down. Marco started tracing patters on Jean’s back. “That was nice.” Jean hummed “Yeah, we should do that more often. I’m hungry, wanna clean up and go get dinner? We should figure out our costumes since Halloween is only a day away.” Marco patted his back and they got up washing off in the shower together and went to eat.

Halloween night was going to be blast. They had outlined a bar crawl and arranged for bus lines to take them to parties not within walking distance of campus. Annie had invited them all to Reiner’s house for a pregame party that Mikasa was very excited about from what Eren could see. Eren and Mikasa didn’t talk about it but he knew that Annie and Mikasa were in some type of relationship. He didn’t know if they were using any certain terms to define it but he could tell just by Mikasa’s mannerisms that Annie was more than just a college BFF. They all decided to meet at the dorm downstairs and take the bus to MP and then back out to downtown.

Connie and Sasha dressed as *sailor couple in costumes Mikasa had made for them a few years back for a Navy party for Connie’s father. Mikasa was going as *Wonder Woman with her lasso of truth and Jean was a *punk rock musician with tattoos and piercings. He had basically pulled what was already in his closet out and hand painted his tattoos and applied the fake eyebrow and lip rings. His hair was styled up with blue tips. Marco was dressed in a well *fitting navy and white pinstriped suit with a pink shirt and brown tie. He had a white flower on his lapel and a rosary in his pocket. He was going as a member of the Italian mafia. He had a large water gun that looked like some sort of semi automatic that he spray painted with black and red glitter paint. He wanted people to know it wasn’t a real gun and it even shot water.

Armin wasn’t so lucky and had a hard time picking out a costume or coming up with some clever idea. Mikasa was helping him and offered to design something if he wanted. It was her off the hand comment that he might as well go as a flapper because he had the perfect body for it and he loved that time period that got him thinking. Why not? “Okay, I’ll go if you make me look like a Siegfried girl.” Eren had been flipping through sketches Mikasa had drawn up for him, “You’re going as a flapper? As a girl?” Armin nodded drinking his cherry cola and chewing on the straw, “I think I want to do that, too. We’ll go together and if someone tries to start any shit we’ll beat them up together looking like we stepped out of a black and white film.”Armin snorted, “You just want to wear stockings, don’t lie. Wanna wax our legs and stuff before hand?” Eren smiled, “Yeah, how bad could that be?”

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As Eren rolled his black stockings up his now hairless legs he thought about how only a few hours ago and two containers of wax he had experienced one of the most awkward and painful experiences in his life and all in the name of beauty. Armin was much better at it than him and when it to doing their so called “bikini” line Armin was fearless and practiced. “Do you take all of your hair off?” Armin spread the wax on his inner thigh, “Yeah and my butt.” Eren nearly choked, “You even wax your ass?” Armin pulled the strip, “Didn’t you ever notice?” Eren dipped his stick in the wax, “I just thought you were hairless” he mumbled as Armin snickered, “Yeah, that makes sense.” Armin’s voice was full of sarcasm as Eren shied away.

”Yeah.”
”Will you do mine?”
”Of course, it’s like a bonding experience.”

Eren was breath taking in his *black sheer flapper dress with matching black and gold sequined *shoes. His hair was curled and adorned with a large *headpiece of black feathers and a veil. His sheer black stockings hooked to a simple garter belt he wore over a pair of lacey black boy shorts Armin got him stating that since the dress was sheer this would look like a part of the dress if someone noticed it. Eren stepped back, looking at himself in the mirror. His eyelashes were curled and coated with mascara. His lips glossy and red and the beautiful brown eye shadow with a hint of gold made his eyes shine. Eren felt like wherever he went he’d be the most beautiful person there, well, except for Armin.

Armin appeared at the door in his beautiful white silk embellished *dress, dripping in pears and sensuality. His dainty white gloves reached his elbow and he brandished a cigarette holder already stained by his plum colored lips. His baby blue irises were framed by lush lashes, that of a porcelain dolls, and his lids were swept in a bright purple with cat eye style liner. His *headpiece consisted of a circle of delicate metal with strands pearls to the side embellished with feathers and gold lace. His petite feet were nestled into beautiful Gatsby style *shoes that were white gold and adorned with stones. Mikasa had outdone herself this year. These costumes were unbelievable. She asked that they not destroy them so that she could use them as a project in her sewing and embroidery class.

As the two friends walked down the stairs a few fraternity guys whistled and cat-called. Armin turned around turning his nose up at them as they continued trying to convince them to come to the delta house for some fun. Eren ate it up knowing that if they knew they were men they’d be singing a different tune. Armin’s pale and shapely legs enticed one as they turned on the main floor and into the hallway, “Hey, sweetie, why don’t you let me have a feel?” Armin shook his head no and kept walking arm in arm with Eren as they opened the double door into the front entrance. The one by Eren reached out to pinch his ass whistling and then remarking, “That’s a tight ass, honey. I bet that would feel nice on my dick tonight.” The other one had been swatted at by Armin, but he didn’t give up, “Come on, baby. Those legs would look great up on my shoulders.” He crooned sliding up behind him. “Baby, you’re a fine piece of ass.” Armin turned to glare and was more than ready to fight until he heard the familiar voice that was Erwin’s. The only difference was its tone of warning and tinge of jealously. “My baby would like you to move on, son.” Erwin and Levi stood behind the front desk in their military fatigues. Erwin’s massive form all the more formidable and Levi’s eyes were even more prominent and dangerous looking as he sized up the other guy stalking Eren. “I’d listen to him if I was you.”

The guy behind Eren scoffed, puffing up his chest moving closer to Eren. Levi moved off his perch against the counter to Erwin’s side. “Whatcha gunna do, short ass mother fucker? You gunna fight me?” An emotion flashed across Levi’s eyes. It was gone before Eren could catch it. “I’ll skin you and leave you on a post in the woods.” his voice cold and serious. Erwin smirked, “I think that would be quite inconvenient for you.” Levi and Erwin were menacing and the tension in the room steadily built until both Erwin and Levi jumped over the counter, frightening the two boys. They ran out of the front screaming as Levi and Erwin began to double over from laugher. “You were going to skin them. I died Levi…I died.” Erwin wiped the tears from his eyes. “I’m always trying to top “I’m going to eat you.” That was the best one I ever said. You nearly ruined it when I said it.” Erwin slapped his knees falling to the floor in a fit of laughter. “Because…hah ahha…who the fuck tells a terrorist they’re going to eat them?!..haha…They were terrified. It was the most fucked up thing I think they’d ever been told.!” Levi chuckled heartily helping Erwin off the floor.

Both Eren and Armin watched amused as their two dates of the evening got a hold of themselves. Still smiling Levi walked over to Eren picking him up. Eren wrapped his legs around Levi giggling. “So, you like my costume.” Levi smiled brighter, “I love it.”Armin had made his way over to Erwin, his gaze was predatory and Armin couldn’t help but revel in the feeling of being wanted. He exaggerated the sway of his hips, “You like what you see?” A lopsided grin appeared. It was something that Armin had come to associate with steamy make outs and his fingers deep inside of him, “You shouldn’t walk around like that. You’ll kill a man.” His hands came to touch Armin’s pin curl curls, gently pulling as they popped back into place.

Levi surveyed Eren once more, “this dress is sheer.” Eren smiled, “you think?” Eren gave Levi a kiss on the cheek, “I got some on your face, sorry.” He made to wipe the lipstick off when Levi turned his face, “Its okay. Just make sure it’s me you put your lips on tonight and not some punk.” Eren held Levi’s gaze, “yes, sir.” Levi gave him a wicked smile before turning to go get the others already in their apartment. Erwin took Armin’s hand, kissing it, “May I take your bag?” Armin had Erwin’s present in a sleek black bag. “Actually, this is yours.” Erwin’s eye widened, “Mine?”Armin’s clutch purse Mikasa made him and Eren for their fake IDs and other small things was moved to the other arm as he gave Erwin the bag.

Erwin opened the bag, removing the first gift that was the flask. He was genuinely delighted and handed the flask to Levi when he returned to fill it with scotch and cigarettes. Levi snorted mumbling something about being a copy cat. Erwin seemed surprised there was more, “Armin…” he gasped revealing the books, “you, baby, you didn’t have to get me anything, Especially something as nice as this.” Armin grinned, “You’re always spoiling me. I wanted to return the favor.” Erwin’s heart clenched, “Thank you, baby doll. I’m so glad you did.” Erwin put his gifts in the apartment and they all went outside to call the night shuttle to take them to their bus stop.

Reiner and Bertolt’s house was the clichéd stereotype of a party house in a college town: brick façade, white walls and small. It had a staircase that when you opened the door you immediately saw and on the right a fair sized living room with two plaid couches, a lazy boy and coffee table. One the left wall was a flat screen tv and fish tank and past living room a kitchen with a powder room and pantry. Outside was a large yard with a beer pong table, skate ramp from previous owners and a barrel used for fires. Annie fit with Eren and Armin’s cross dressing theme for the night. She was a lumberjack complete with overalls, red and black open plaid shirt with black chest binder, he hair down and with a black trucker hat and 5 o’clock shadow.

Reiner and Bert were dressed as wrestlers, their amazing physiques shown off for all to see. Reiner immediately made a bee line to Armin asking him how he’d been and introducing himself to everyone else. Eren made his way into the kitchen where the drinks were, opening a tall boy of pabst blue ribbon while Levi took in the disheveled house in disgust. “Pigs, pigs live here.” Eren giggled while Mikasa and Annie put on a Spotify station and the group began to drink.

Jean and Marco paired up against Reiner and Bertolt in a game of beer pong while Erwin and Levi played quarters. Armin stepped out to watch the game as Eren coached Jean, causing him to miss more than a few cups. After the game finished Sasha and Connie took over and played against Eren and Levi. Levi hated to lose and every missed cup resulted in swift verbal punishment from Eren. Sasha loved seeing Eren grow more and more distracted. Her aim was near perfect, every ball sinking into the cup. Fortunately, Levi could blow like no one’s business and he saved their asses when it came to the sudden death round. He pulled Eren to the side, admonishing him and making sultry promises to punish him thoroughly when they returned back to the dorm in the morning.

Eren and Levi made their way inside for a game where couples took shots from each other’s mouth. The first one to finish all ten shots got to pick the early morning fast food restaurant. Jean and Marco immediately made eyes with Levi and Eren. It would see that when it came to Eren against Jean he was even more competitive than Levi. He took Levi’s jaw in his hands, forcing his lips open and pushing the liquid in. Levi gladly accepted it, tasting Eren with the bitter licorice of Jaeger as Jean and Marco wrestled with the abrasive shots of fire ball Annie gave them. Jean cursed everything in the world he was stuck with the evil liquid that is fireball. It was a close call but Eren and Levi finished their ten shots each when Jean and Marco each had two left.

Bertolt and Erwin had surprisingly stuck up a conversation about something that happened in the stock market last week, discussing it in the corner of the kitchen while Reiner talked with Armin about everything under the sun. Armin had been curious what happened to his first crush. He was glad to see not much had changed personality wise and that he was still as huge as he remembered, if not a little more handsome now that they were older. Reiner was a little friendlier that Armin thought he should be. He’d mentioned that he had his eye on someone he wanted to date but Armin changed the subject before everyone came in to head to the buses and start their brawl crawl.

The group headed to The Vault, Bourbon, and then Sky Bar partying, dancing, drinking and making friends with other groups doing the same. Erwin’s hands roamed Armin’s body shamelessly, coming to roughly grab his hips and sometimes lick from the nape of his neck up until Armin gasped. Jean never danced but Marco was sex on the floor. Jean was content to watch as Marco’s hips moved to the music creating a type of siren’s song only he could hear. Marco moved Jean to a seat against the wall at Sky Bar, giving him his own personal show while Annie and Mikasa rocked against each other nearby, Annie occasionally whispering in Mikasa’s ear, her hands disappearing between her thighs under her skirt, unbeknownst to the strangers around them. Bertolt had broken off a bit, dancing with Eren while Levi went out for a moment after getting overwhelmed by the amount of people joining the bar since the others were closing and more people crowded Sky Bar to prolong the night.

Eren had worried about him, asking if he could go out without Donner. Levi said he could, he didn’t like to do it but he took his anti anxiety medicine and once he started drinking he’d be okay. Eren enjoyed dancing with Bertolt but kept his eyes trained on the bit of Levi he could see through the bar’s open windows. Erwin lit a cigarette for Armin and excused himself to check on Levi. Reiner appeared asking if he could dance with Armin and Erwin nodded waving as he turned to part the sea of people.

Reiner’s hands found Armin’s waist pulling him close but not too close. Armin enjoyed watching how he moved his body. The sweat glistening on his skin catching the lights as it rolled down. He felt that familiar surge of nervous butterflies he had when Reiner lived down the street. Decently intoxicated on scotch and Guinness beer Armin leaned in closer letting him take the lead as they grinded under the light of the moon in the center of the dance floor. Sky Bar was an open atrium style bar with multiple levels for dancing, drinking, and smoking. Reiner moved his hand up Armin’s back pulling him even closer till Armin was almost straddling his leg.

Sirens went off in his mind about what it must look like with them so close. He put his hands up on Reiner’s chest pushing back slightly. Reiner leaned down to his ear, “What’s wrong?” His breath smelled like Jack and coke,” You’re just a little too close. Erwin might think you’re flirting…” Armin’s voice trickled off. He felt stupid because Reiner may not have meant anything by his actions and that sounded awfully conceited of him. “I am flirting.” Armin then felt Reiner’s hand grip his jaw, gently but firm. He didn’t have much time to think about anything before Reiner was covering his lips with his own. He moved against Armin but Armin didn’t kiss him back. Instead, Armin pushed and pushed as far away as he could, planting his feet, and turning trying to break his grip.

It seemed like an eternity before Reiner was gone. Armin opened his eyes to Erwin holding Reiner’s shoulder, his knuckles white from the amount of pressure he was applying. Erwin leaned in to whisper in his ears. Whatever he said, Reiner listened looking ashamed and gave Erwin and apologetic look. They exchanged words before Reiner turned to Armin, apologizing for his actions and asking for forgiveness and running off towards the stairs to the upper deck. Armin braced himself for the fall out. He knew he was guilty for not being more forceful, for not stopping when he thought it was going too far. He hoped Erwin would be merciful.

Erwin took Armin’s hand as Levi, Eren, and a flushed looking Annie came up. “I saw what happened.” Annie’s voice was monotone but she had an apologetic look, “It’s complicated. He didn’t mean to cause any trouble. He’s just stupid sometimes.” Levi and Eren exchanged glances, unaware of what had happened. “Well, I think I figured it out. He apologized so that’s fine. He’s a nice guy, don’t worry. I’m not upset.” Annie smiled, “Allow me to make a peace offering just in case. Mikasa was watching Erwin and Levi’s face closely, making them hesitant for what was to come. “Miki said that Armin, Jean, and Eren were okay with things that were a little harder than alcohol. Are you two?” OhArmin thought, this is going to be interesting.

Levi cocked his head to the side, raising an eyebrow, “I don’t want that weak ass weed. You better be talkin’ something harder. That shit smells and makes you okay with being bored.” Eren appraised Levi,DAAAAAMN/ Erwin shifted to pull Armin in front him, wrapping him in his arms. “What are you offering?” Annie nodded towards the stairs. The group followed including Jean and Marco who saw Eren waving for them.

Once up the stairs they went towards the bathrooms. Since the building used to be much smaller and for a family restaurant there was still a family/handicap bathroom to use instead of the larger male/female ones. All eight entered the bathroom locking the door and looking to Annie. She undid the flap of her overall revealing her toned stomach and a fanny pack. Levi chuckled, “You use a pager, too? What is this, the early 2000s?” Annie cast a taunting glance as a ghost of a smile graced her features. “I’d not bite the hand that feeds if I was you, captain.” Eren shivered at the thought of calling Levi captain. He watched as Annie produced a small sandwich size bag of coke. “It’s on the house after the incident. How do you want to do it? I can divide it evenly or those who want just a little can do a little and or I can get you something else. I’ve got E and Molly but it’s kind of late for those.” Jean spoke up, “I vote we divide it up and those who don’t want that much or any should speak now and then that gets divided out to the others.”

The rest agreed and Annie split the bag among couples to save plastic. They cleared off the back of the toilet and counter to do a few lines before returning to the dance floor. Annie let Mikasa do her lines first while speaking with Levi and Erwin on the side. Jean had already powered through three lines and Marco was only going to do one, or so he thought until Jean bumped his line up exponentially. Eren set out Armin and his lines on the toilet. They normally did them there and would sit backwards on the seat, often hitting line after line till they needed a moment to collect themselves. Eren turned to Levi, “Levi?” Levi looked over, “What brat?” Eren grinned, “do you want me to set yours or?” Levi nodded no. Eren hit three lines and then Armin sat down, taking three as well. They decided to split one and afterwards they were on top of the world.

Levi and Erwin walked over to where Eren and Armin were waiting, Levi down and laid out ten good sized lines. Eren and Armin stared in amazement as Erwin and Levi each did five and gummed enough for a sixth. Standing up and tying the bags off, Levi handed one to Erwin and pocketed the other. He smacked Eren’s ass grabbing a handful before roughly kissing him. Erwin’s hands went to Armin as he roamed his body pulling at the long string of pearls he wore. “We’re going to dance and then when we get home, I’m going to fuck you into the mattress.” Erwin’s voices whispered playfully into Armin’s ear.
“That sounds great. But, aren’t you mad?”
Erwin chuckled, “Not at you. I watched the whole thing. I wanted to kill him but you know, that’s not okay in civilian life.”
”Are you going to fuck me hard.” Armin pressed against Erwin.
”So fucking hard, baby. You’re gunna scream and come all over my bed.”
Armin laughed, “I can’t wait.”
”Me either.” Erwin grabbed Armin’s chin kissing him deeply and roughly.

The group returned to the dance floor, feeling alive and energized. They danced until about 5:00 when Marco, high but not as high as Jean, demanded that they all go get food before turning in. The group had a heated debate about where to eat and much to Eren’s surprise Levi demanded that they walk next door to the McDonalds, the exact McDonalds with a 92 health rating he’d denied Eren the other day. Once entering the McDonalds Levi walked to the front of the line pulling out a wad of cash and demanded that everything was on him and that he wanted a large fry, M&M McFlurry, and a Big Mac. Eren laughed as the woman tried to complete his order along with everyone else in the groups on the same ticket. Jean wanted two happy meals, Marco wanted a fish sandwich and ice cream cone, Erwin ordered two big macs and two fries. When Armin said he’d rather have a plain cheeseburger Erwin gave him a look like what? and then broke him down hard with a “Baby, that was my order. I don’t know what the hell you want but you better tell her not me.”

The group sat in a round “space booth” as Eren called them and talked. Eren watched as Levi ate his fries, dipping them in his McFlurry like a child. Jean and Marco played with his kid’s meal toys and Annie and Mikasa fed each other when Mikasa started to crash. They left and called Annie and Mikasa a cab. Reiner and Bertolt were on their own but Annie said there was nothing to worry about. Sasha and Connie had gotten lost somewhere before their trip to the bathroom but Annie said they told Mikasa they wanted to head back and have some alone time.

The rest made their way stumbling and laughing across campus to their dorms. When they entered they went through the front door, having given up on the back since it still held a foreboding sense of anger when they used it. Jean and Marco started towards the double doors when Jean turned around, “Whose going up to 218?” Both Armin and Eren hadn’t thought about who would use their dorm. They had both expected to end up with both of their partners in their rooms. Levi and Erwin pulled them towards the apartment, “You two will have both suites to yourself so be as loud as you want.” Erwin said picking Armin up and throwing him over his shoulder as he unlocked the door.

Levi had Eren in front of him, his hands stroking his lower stomach occasionally wandering further down teasing Eren. The door opened and both older men pulled their lovers inside. Levi pushed Eren against the wall pressing his body against him and hiking up Eren’s dress as he plundered his mouth, teeth nipping and tongue searching over the plains of his mouth with an invader’s determination. Moaning like a whore Eren jumped up to wrap his legs around Levi’s waist. He tore his mouth away from Eren’s, panting he leaned in next to his ear, “Can I fuck you?” Eren moaned, “Yes, God yes.” Levi started to undo his pants, “Here, against this wall, through you panties?” Eren bucked against Levi, “Y-yes-s” he stuttered out. He was impossibly hard and didn’t care that they’d never done anything past kiss and that blow job at the lake. He wanted Levi, he needed him inside of him. “

Levi dropped his pants presenting Eren with his fingers, “Suck, brat. Fucking coat them.” Eren eagerly sucked and licked the digits. He made sure to give Levi a show while he did so. Levi’s cock was erect and leaking precome all over. Eren’s was the same way, saturating the lace panties and straining against the tight fabric. Once wet, Levi moved to Eren’s entrance, slowly pushing in the first finger. Eren was so aroused he welcomed the intrusion have masturbated recently he wasn’t as tight as normal and after a few moments Levi was pushing in the second finger scissoring him open and grinding against him while sucking and biting his collar bones. Lost in pleasure Eren moaned and whimpered as loudly as he wanted. It wasn’t like he was the only one being loud.

Erwin had taken Armin to his room, tossing him on the bed while stripping his top half off. His voice was stern and commanding, “turn over on your stomach and lift your dress.” Armin did so, lifting the delicate snow white silk revealing his pert bottom covered in white sheer panties. Erwin came over, ripping a hole in the full bottoms and tossing a bottle of lube on the bed next to Armin, “Finger yourself” his voice betrayed his arousal. Armin opened the bottle, coating his fingers. He had already played with himself before the party, his desire for Erwin had been too much as he imagined his reaction to his costume. Before long Armin had three fingers inside of him, thrusting in and out while he moan unabashedly, stirred on by the sounds coming from the living room and not a bit shameful for that. Erwin stood behind him, fully nude and stroked his impressive and massive cock. Armin turned to look at it, biting his lip and batting his lashes at Erwin.

Erwin told him to stop fingering himself, approaching him and pulling him on his knees. He removed the dress, tossing it on the back of his desk chair before taking the strand of pearls from Armin’s neck and tying them around his wrists. He pushed Armin back down on the bed running his hands over the exposed flesh of his back and legs. He left kisses down his spine occasionally spanking his little ass making Armin cry out from pleasure and surprise. Erwin shoved his knee between Armin’s legs opening them wider before he laid himself down, positioning himself at his entrance. Armin whined when he didn’t push in but Erwin kissed the back of his neck. Armin took this as him asking for permission so he gave it to him, “fuck me, daddy. Fuck me good.” With that Erwin slammed into Armin, sheathing himself to the hilt as Armin cried out and Erwin started a brutal pace, pulling almost completely out before slamming back in.

Eren wasn’t fairing much better. Once he was stretched and his prostate located, Levi positioned himself at his entrance, pausing just a moment to take in Eren’s wrecked appearance before groaning out “fuck.” Sliding into Eren to the hilt he gave him a few seconds to adjust before waging war with his cock. Eren’s entire being clenched up from Levi’s rough deep strokes. He bobbed on his cock, the fabric of his panties rubbing against Levi and creating such intense friction on his own weeping erection was driving him insane. It was something clicked something that can’t be explained. Levi and Eren felt a spark catch fire as they kissed almost violently, attacking each other, needed to be closer. Levi hit Eren’s prostate and continued to hit it head on until Eren saw stars. He started coming in his panties, coming hard but Levi wasn’t done. He pressed harder against Eren, moving him up slightly. Eren’s muffled cries died inside of his own mouth.

It was just them, they were the only two people in the world and Eren loved it. Loved how Levi smelled like fresh pine and cold water in a metal pail. He loved how quiet he was in comparison to Eren. He groaned, grunted, panted, but his moans were rare and low, quiet. That was very Levi. Eren had never come more than once but before he knew it he was coming again and Levi was following him, burying himself deep inside of Eren, spilling his seed. “Fuck” Levi groaned under his breath as his knees threatened to give out. Eren went limp, having come harder than any other time in his life. Levi sunk to the floor cradling Eren against him as they rode out their orgasms. Levi and Eren stared into each other’s eyes before Levi leaned forward, their lips barely touching and whispered, “Never leave me.”

Erwin continued to pound into Armin’s willing little body. He pinned him down, effectively fucking him into the mattress as he had promised. Armin was lost in a haze of lust and pleasure. He’d lost all semblance of decency as was saying whatever came to mind. Erwin egging him on with comments like “does that feel good, baby? Daddy’s cock?” Armin would answer, “Yes, fuck yes Daddy. Your cock is amazing. Fuck me, daddy. Fuck me harder.” And Erwin would oblige, feeling like he was going to destroy the body before him. His hands were already leaving bruises all over his hips and they were both so close. With renewed zeal Erwin redoubled his efforts on Armin’s prostate, letting out a long groan as he felt Armin seize up, coming all over himself and the bed.

Erwin listened as Armin moaned out his name, twitching from overstimulation as he rode his orgasm out. “Come Daddy, come.” With that Erwin came hard, filling Armin and coating his insides. He came so much that some started to escape as he fell on top of him, breathing erratic and boneless. Erwin rolled over, untying Armin’s hands and rubbing his wrists. Erwin kissed Armin’s wrist. Both felt so many emotions and they knew that everything had changed, but they had changed for the better. They could hear Eren and Levi in the other room breathing and talking quietly. Armin shifted, still somewhat high and energized to kiss Erwin and remove the rest of his clothes. “We need to clean up while we still have the energy. I’ve never…” Erwin looked at Armin, “Never?” Armin blushed, “Been filled up like that. It’s strange.” Erwin laughed as he stood up to go to the bathroom.

They weren’t the only ones heading to the showers. After a tense staring contest between Erwin and Levi both shrugged pulling their lowers with them and entering the walk in shower, making Armin laugh, “Why do y’all get a walk in and we don’t?” Levi snorted, “Because this is supposed to be a luxurious position of authority. Pass me the body wash, shota delight.” Eren stood under the spray for a moment before giggling causing Erwin to giggle and then Armin. Levi rolled his eyes leaning over and kissing Eren. Once clean Eren and Armin borrowed clothes from their boyfriends and they all went to sleep, happy, and sated. Erwin told Armin that this was the best birthday he’d celebrated since his father died.

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10:00 am: Missed call Jean
10:01 am: Missed call Jean
10:03 am Missed call Jean
10:05 am Missed call Jean
10:07 am Missed call Jean

Erwin reached over fishing the phone off the table. Armin snuggled up against his side, hair sticking to the pillow and face scrunched from the noise. “Hello…” Erwin’s voice was gruff and scratchy. “Erwin,” Jean’s voice was frantic, desperate. Erwin woke fully hearing that familiar tone, “Erwin- oh god…Erwin, in my room…” Marco could be overheard crying, “He was there, he was right there…Jean, right there.” Erwin hung the phone up, rolling over Armin. His hands grasping the door handle as Armin fell of the bed, crying out. Erwin was out the door slamming it against the wall as he threw it back.

Levi had been warm and content, his arms tight around Eren’s sleeping form in front of him. His back firm against the cool cinder block walls, grounded and safe as he let his lips graze the skin of Eren’s shoulder, softly leaving kisses behind. It was in the middle of his lazy morning paradise he heard the sudden slam of a door and the cry of someone. In a matter of seconds he was wide awake, nerves on edge, and worried about protecting Eren and taking in his surroundings. He heard Armin call out for Erwin, Eren stirring in his arms, “Levi” his voice worried and confused. Levi pushed him forward rolling over him and tossing the cover over him as he grabbed his fatigue pants and rushed into the hall where he found the door to Erwin’s room and the living room wide open. He ran into the hall listening and following his intuition. He took the stairs 3 at a time till he landed at the second floor door.

Jean’s door was opened as Levi ran in taking in the sight of Erwin standing still in the room, a distraught Jean stroking and cradling Marco against his chest. Levi came forward grabbing Erwin’s arm, “Erwin, what’s going on?” Erwin stood still as a statue as Marco cried more. “Erwin, please…What’s going on?” Levi tried to figure out what Erwin was staring at. He’d seen Jean’s walls before, covered in his collage of candid photos, art, posters, and other various types of media and print.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, his pink Floyd poster was still against his Civil Wars poster. The sketch of Eren he’d done that Levi enjoyed was still up in the far right corner. Everything was in its correct place. “The pictures.” Levi looked to Erwin, “The pictures Levi, the pictures…look at the pictures.” Levi walked closer to the wall. When it finally sunk in what he was looking at he felt sick. He felt sick for Jean, for Marco, for his friends. He felt scared for Eren and for himself being so close to this.

On the wall all of the candid photos had been replaced with new ones. Ones of Jean from over the last three months. He was sitting at his desk in some, performing normal activities. Armin was in a few, sometimes they were sitting eating at a café, sometimes they were in his dorm doing homework. Eren was in them, one of him and Levi. Then there were the pictures of him sleeping, sometimes taken inches from his face, pictures of Marco sleeping, of Erwin and Armin kissing in the car the night of the incident. There were so many of Marco and Jean engaging in intimate behaviors. Levi grabbed one with a tissue from the bedside table, looking at it more closely. It was a picture from offline, Eren, Jean, and Armin standing together at an ugly Christmas sweater party. Their sweaters each had a line from the song “Santa Claus is coming to Town.” Jean’s read “He sees when you’re sleeping,” Armin’s read, “He’s knows when you’re awake,” and Eren’s “He knows if you’ve been bad or good.” Levi dropped the photo on the table as Marco finally calmed down enough to speak.

”He was up there….he’s been there the entire time…oh God, Jean…he’s been there the whole time.” Erwin and Levi looked at one another, “What?” Levi’s voice sounded so strange. Marco pointed to the open cubby above the closets. “I heard him leave. I thought I was just drunk and it was someone else but no one’s up here with us. The door is open.” Erwin walked to cubby hole noting that there were things in the cubby hole. “Levi, call the police. They’re right.” Levi called the police while Erwin called Armin telling him not to come back to his dorm and telling Eren the same. They were to lock the door and wait for them to come down. Levi called Hanji asking them to bring Donner to him. Erwin turned to the wall looking at the pictures of him and Armin, at dinner, in class, and there were even photos from last night of them at the bar right up until they entered the front door. They had been stalked for weeks and they had had no idea.

Chapter Text

The police took statements, photographs, and categorized the contents of the cubby. Jars of urine from sitting hours on end, a sleeping bag, food wrappers, a knife and rope were all neatly carted away for further investigation. Tapes were reviewed of coming and going. Somehow mistakes had occurred, tapes didn’t back up, sections were missing, cameras covered from some unknown entity. Whoever was doing this was a mastermind and psychopath. Marco told of nights where he’d dreamed of someone leaning over him, their breath on his face, a hand smoothing his brow. All dreams or so he thought. Jean asked if it was Jeeter, it had to be him.

Jeeter had been released on bail and was missing. It made him their number one suspect. He’d had a checkered past, moving from one city to another. Legally emancipated at age 16 he’d been running his life under the radar ever since. But it just didn’t add up? What was his motive? Why Jean and why go through all of this trouble? There were more questions than answers and Erwin felt guilty. He felt like he’d let them all down. He’d gone to the police with Armin’s theory but even a stalker wouldn’t do things to this degree, right? The police told him that they have before but perhaps there was something else that made them all a target. Regardless, they needed to secure the room, secure the building, and keep panic from ensuing.

Erwin took Armin’s theory to heart, purposing that he was a hacker of some degree. In that case, changing the pass codes for employees and sending it out in emails was something to be avoided. Levi and Erwin would change them and only they would know them. The also had the window sealed shut in both rooms, noting that from a story Jean told them about coming home to the window open that he must have been scaling the pipe that lead to their dorm. The locks were changed on both doors and the cubby and closet doors removed in both rooms. Levi noticed that the room had been wired and pulled at the tiny lines in the base boards and corners while the police looked on in horror and fascination. It was like living in East Germany, big brother was always watching. Levi and Erwin were more concerned than they were letting on.

Levi and Erwin couldn’t help but want to catch this psycho who was obviously threatening those they loved and were responsible for. They told Jean he would be moving in with them for all intensive purposes. They had a third room that he could use. Jean was perplexed. He’d seen their apartment and had never noticed another room. Erwin explained that decorative flags that were on their TV wall actually hid a door to a supply room used as an emergency tornado shelter. There were no windows and there wasn’t a closet but the room was fairly large, from the front door of the dorm to their living room and could hold 25 people if need be. Eren and Armin would also stay with them until another alternative could be found. Marco wasn’t safe to go back to his dorm so he would continue to stay with Jean. Erwin and Levi hoped that by keeping them all close they could better control Jeeter’s future actions .

Eren, Armin, and Donner waited anxiously in the apartment for word from Levi or Erwin. Eren was curled up on the couch with Armin, staring at the TV as Say Yes to the Dress played episode after episode. They worried about what could have possibly caused their boyfriends to leave so suddenly without a word. Soon they heard a knocking on the door and Erwin’s voice telling them it was okay to open the door. Donner jumped off the bed, barking and scratching at the floor when Levi entered. He took Donner’s collar and went into the bedroom shutting the door and locking it. Eren tried to not feel slighted; he wanted to comfort Levi, too. But, more importantly what had upset Levi so much?

Erwin had all sorts of things in his hands, mostly electronics from their dorm rooms like their laptops, phone chargers, and a change of clothes. He had things that belonged to Jean as well. Setting the things down he went over to the far corner of the room getting out his keys and taking down the Egyptian flag to reveal a door that Armin and Eren had found while alone in the apartment. He opened the door turning on the light and went to assembling a bed to go with another dresser and desk that was in almost pristine condition. There was an stand alone supply empty closet and the walls were a light sky blue. The two remained on the couch as Erwin finished his chore in silence, going back and forth from their dorms to the apartment and Levi could be heard crying softly in his room.

Armin didn’t know what was worse. The fact that something had obviously happened that was so upsetting that when he found out he too would be reacting like Erwin and Levi or that they were so obviously trying to delay telling them and suffering alone in their knowledge of said bad event. Eren hugged Armin tighter, his sorrow evident in his features each time he heard a particularly rough sob from Levi. Erwin finished setting the room up, having gone back and forth between the apartment and their rooms for the last time. After finishing he went to their fridge, opened a beer and sat down on the recliner bent forward over his knees. He looked so old and so tired. “Well, I know you’re curious as to what happened this morning.” He began fiddling with the bracelet on his wrist, “And what I am about to tell you is very disturbing. Jean and Marco are not injured, physically. But, mentally they are very disturbed and are currently at the police department for questioning and statements. I will need to pick them up when they call.” Eren and Armin sat wide eyed as Erwin explained the situation. Each griping fact Erwin gave them, the pictures he described, the fact that someone had been living in their room, taking pictures while they slept, had intimate encounters, it was all too much.

Eren and Armin were in various stages of shock when Erwin got the call to pick Jean and Marco up. He explained that they’d all be staying in the apartment until they could come up with a better solution. Armin asked if he could go with Erwin but he shook his head. “No, stay here with Eren. When I get back you and I can talk.” He stood up, kissing Armin on the cheek as he grabbed his keys, “The door stays locked.” With that, he was gone.

Jean sat limp in the car as Marco leaned against him. He was numb. If there was ever a time in his life he felt like this would happened he’d have never believed it. He kissed Marco’s head, nuzzling it as he hummed. Once inside the apartment he and Marco excused themselves and went to his new room. Thankfully Erwin had put the bed together and Armin had obviously taken to making it up for him. The bed was made but a corner left un-tucked as Jean lifted it allowing Marco to slip in. He removed his shirt and Marco’s. He wanted to hold him, feel him skin on skin. He wanted to love him and protect him. He wanted to forget what they had just gone through.

Eren knocked on Levi’s door softly. He hadn’t heard anything for a while. Upon walking away he heard the lock click open. He opened the door, feeling the cool air of Levi’s AC unit. The only light came from dark blue rope lights around the baseboards of the room, Levi had mentioned that sleeping in the dark made the nightmares worse. Levi was on his side, Donner had obviously been on the bed next to him for when Eren laid down he could feel the heat from the now missing body. Eren reached out gently stroking his face, his lips. He curled around Levi putting his head under his chin and breathing in his scent. Levi pulled him closer, wrapping his arms around his waist and kissing the skin above his collar bone, “he could have hurt you.” Eren closed his eyes, “We can talk about it after we get some sleep.” Eren kissed the top of Levi’s head as Levi hummed, “yeah,”

Erwin was distant, lost in his thoughts as Armin covered him in the duvet crawling in next to him and pressing himself against his side. Erwin stayed quiet for the longest time until he sighed, his hand finding Armin’s under the cover. “I couldn’t save my father. I’m why he’s dead.” The small pathetic voice was lost in the void. The only light coming from the corner of the small window at the top of the wall not covered by a small curtain Erwin had made to keep the room cool in the mornings but still let light in when he was there. Armin clenched his hand, “I’m sure that’s not true.” Erwin was quiet again. Armin ventured, “talk to me” and he did.

Erwin’s father was an academic man, loved the fine arts and had a taste for expensive liquors and rare prints. Erwin idolized him and for most of his formative years he asked to be homeschooled and his father be his personal teacher. He later joined a private academy after he became the president of the university. Confronted with budget issues of the last president, extensive audit along with other issues that threatened the university and its future Mr. Smith began to withdraw. Since he was a child, his father shared only what was necessary but Erwin knew that his theories about what was going on among staff and those of the last president’s inner circle of councilmen made him the center of a lot of pent up aggression from those on campus involved, but his father would never reveal any discerning details and often completely shot the topic down when alone.

Erwin had finished basic training and went straight in to active duty. Returning home after almost a year he found his father in his study listening to the same familiar records. His mother was a mezzo soprano, her voice echoed with a hint of nostalgia. She only sang in languages she spoke fluently and was known for her sultry gaze on stage that would cast a spell on anyone it landed on. His father was among a pile of papers, upset and brow creased in concentration. Erwin asked him how he had been and if he realized he forgot to pick him up from the bus station. He told him he couldn’t stand it. He couldn’t stand the thought of his son giving up the chance to go to school, to possibly take over in his place, all just to go fight like an animal. He had hoped Erwin would help him clean up the corruption at the school but instead he’d have to do it alone and that would require drastic measures.

Erwin was upset that his father felt this way. He’d never said he wasn’t going to return to school but he felt like he was doing what he needed to for his country and more importantly he was doing good by himself. He’d always wanted to make a difference somehow and if his father only knew the achievements he’d already achieved, how high he’d climbed in the ranks already, then surly he wouldn’t be acting like Erwin was failing him. They got into a bitter argument that resulted in Erwin demanding that his father either finally tell him what’s been going on at the school or never bring it up again. Mr. Smith told Erwin that money had been missing from various trusts and scholarships. There were also patterns that student information was being altered, lab security levels and time stamps were also changed. They even had a number of professors that would go missing for long amounts of time and with no explanation or in some cases, recollection of ever leaving work to not been seen till hours or days later. They sometimes never returned or had what looked like wounds on their body.

Erwin listened to all his father had to tell him. They stayed up late discussing the possible implications of Mr. Smith’s more detailed and frightening hypothesis and he proved that he had the data to back it up. Erwin decided that he would ask for an extension of his leave from two weeks to a month so he could help his father as best as he could. It in the last few days that he was approached by a scientist in one of the research labs asking if any progress had been made about the grant money that had been withdrew recently. Erwin spoke with the man, deciding after a few minutes that he was on their side of the fight and he told him that they had actually started to get to the root of the problem. The man seemed pleased and thanked Erwin for his time and for the reaffirming information.

On the day Erwin left to return overseas his father hugged him, crying slightly, and told him he was the most precious thing in this world. He was his only confidant and it was because he trusted him he knew they would win this fight. He made him promise that when this stint was finished and the corruption gone that he’d return to the university, pursue his degree and climb in the ranks. He wanted the university to stay in the hands of people who cared. Erwin promised, kissing his cheek and hugging him for the last time.

It was in the HQ in Bahrain where Erwin found that his father was murdered by the scientist he’d spoken with eight months earlier. It was unclear what his motivation was but Erwin launched head first forming an almost obsessive devotion to unearthing why someone who was on their side would have turned against them and killed his father. It was true that the scientist was upset after being terminated due but could that really have been the only motive? Not likely, not in Erwin’s opinion. Erwin worked tirelessly from wherever he was, whenever he could, trying to piece it together. The trial moved closer and closer but he was never in any position to take leave. Levi was able to take leave when his uncle became deathly ill and he made the trip down to have a look for himself. He found what Erwin was looking for in back channels and through less than legal means. The man had been paid to kill his father.

Convicted in a speedy trial and sentenced to 4 years in jail due to a plea bargain for a lesser charge, Levi called Erwin from his uncle’s funeral to tell him the news. Both men had lost the most important men life had given them and both were less than satisfied with how they had passed. In only a short few months the scientist would be found dead in his cell, needle hanging from his arm, and another inmate charged for smuggling in drugs and assisting a suicide. Levi was more than skeptical. Erwin simply crumpled the report and went out for another day in the sand and his own personal hell.

Erwin’s words dried up, coming so close to spilling what happened after, what happened to Levi and Erwin in their last two years of service, the darkest days of their lives. He couldn’t open that door, not yet. Not when he’d failed once again in protecting those he was in charge of and now cared for personally. Armin stroked the skin over the knuckled of his index finger in small soothing circles like Erwin did to himself. “You came back to finish what your father started. You came back and were put immediately in a position of power in charge of others that you feel like you let down because the system is still broken and Jeeter and possibly others are using the same loop holes to do even more horrible things.” Erwin nodded, “The film…the door codes….it’s all similar. Hanji…” Armin shifted, “What about Hanji?” Erwin sighed again, he was so tired.

”Their research is very, very promising. What they and Levi are working on together is impressive. The grant money is pouring in and we have a ton of military contractors interested. I can’t reveal too much more but I fear that this is all going to come together, suddenly, and it’s going to affect more than just the school. We need to find Jeeter and we need to find out how he had been manipulating the system. The police…are going to be next to worthless.” With that, Erwin rolled over enveloping Armin in his arms, “Let’s finish this some other time. I’m sorry.” Armin snuggled closer, “There is nothing to be sorry about.” Erwin kissed the top of his head. “I’m sorry about your father, Erwin. He sounded like an amazing man, just like you are. Thank you for telling me all of this.”

Armin lay next to Erwin, neither were asleep but rather enjoying the silence and feeling one another. Armin then had a thought.

”Hm?
”What was Jeeter majoring in?
”I don’t know…”
”Do you understand why I’m asking?”
Erwin wrinkled his brow, thinking. “I think so…but I’m old so help me out…”
”If it was science related then he may be working with the same people who paid that man, the same people who have access to whatever means allow them to manipulate the security systems, and I know this seems farfetched, trust me and just give it a chance, but what if he did become obsessed with Jean and used his perks of working with them to stalk him? He’s missing and that could mean he’s either genuinely lurking somewhere or that after today they’ll take care of him like they did the scientist because they won’t want you to get a hold of him and question him.” Armin paused to take a breath, “Are you working with the current president, Zackly?”
”Yes, I’ve been secretly working with him. He was a trusted companion of my father and vice president at the time.
”Then, if he was indeed in a science field, we need to possibly look at things from that perspective. He may have just given us exactly what we need to get a leg up on them and that will make them very angry.”

Erwin clutched Armin close to him, “your mind is beautiful.” Kissing Armin passionately he moved to leave the bed, “Where are you going?” Armin sat up, “To tell Levi about your beautiful mind.” Armin stayed sitting up and soon a figure appeared in the door. It was Eren, he’d obviously been asleep. “Um…they kicked me out and told me to come in here with you.” He shuffled over to the bed. “Can I get in and go back to sleep?” Armin moved over, “Only if you hold me and don’t kick.” Both boys fell asleep, spending their first night in their new dorm room unaware of the risks their lovers were taking in the other room setting up a game of chess against a faceless opponent with unknown skill.

Chapter Text

Life in the apartment over the next few weeks proved to be just what Jean needed, even if he was reluctant to admit it. He had been yelled at countless times for using the personal kitchen. Levi had given him speech after speech about how the kitchen was now ruined and nothing had a clearly defined articles. He kept using words like pareve and using phrases like go make that traif somewhere else and Who puts meat above a milk carton? Marco seemed to not get in trouble near as much, claiming that he went online to look up do’s and don’ts of a Kosher kitchen. He started cooking for Jean soon after and Levi approved.

His room was great if not a little claustrophobic since it lacked even the small window at the top of the wall like Erwin’s had. The sky blue paint was comforting and soon the walls were decorated again and Marco’s things were placed among Jean’s own. They had a cozy space for working in the corner with Marco’s TV attached to the wall and underneath game system after game system. It was only the awkward moments when Jean returned to the room to see if anything had changed. Levi suggested that leaving a few things in the room may be a good idea. Eren and Armin’s rooms were still set up with a basic amount of things like a pillow on the bed and posters on the wall. It was the odd look of the door-less closets and cubby holes that made Jean’s stomach tighten. All of the pictures were gone, taken as evidence. He came once every three days while Levi waited outside, stoic and ready for anything.

surprisingly in the studio he was alive with passion and inspiration. He had befriended a girl named Tina who was working on 1000 origami moths for a large instillation piece. They would often crack jokes and listen to their music loudly after everyone else had left the studio. Sometimes after a long night they’d walk across the street to Sky Bar and grab a few drinks till Jean took a cab home or Marco joined them. Tina was a great friend and colleague; the same could not be said about Krista.

Krista was a snake in the grass. Her likable personality, large blue eyes, and well meaning gestures soon became hollow. They took on an edge of hardness and sarcasm. He had first made this discovery after hearing her talk with her girlfriend Ymir about various people in their Art Education class in a less than favorable way. Ymir seemed to be less than concerned when Krista expressed her worry over cutting it in the program, telling her to just do what she did before and everything would work out. Jean had appeared finding her sifting through his sketches for midterms leaving him with an uneasy feeling.

While what she had been producing lately was adequate for the class he did wonder what caught the eye of the art council in the first place. Jean had tried to have as much diversity in his portfolio as possible, knowing that that would be the best way to gaining early acceptance to the program. Jean enjoyed creating dark almost occult pieces for his classes. The feedback he got was constructive and he was experimenting with different mediums and only working in the colors black, white, and red. It wasn’t what he was doing in his free time, no that was a lot more dramatic and more in the realm of fantasy. Photorealistic portraits of his friends set to dramatic scenes inspired by the French revolution and even a bit of the Scouts vs. Titans mystique Jean had developed after thinking about the rivalry. Jean kept those at home, batting away a sneaky Marco who was too curious for his own good.

Tina and Jean went next door to get burritos and recoup from hours in the cold studio. She was a strong independent woman with a boisterous personality and wise beyond her years. For her other project she was working with bright colors and large breasted caricatures of political figures from around the world. Jean didn’t get it yet, but that didn’t mean he didn’t enjoy looking at it and helping her create fake Euros in the digital media lab with female Putin’s on them. Tina drank her coke leaning over the table, “So, how’s life?”

Jean swallowed, “its going.” Tina’s eyes narrowed slightly as she pursed her lips, “naw man, you don’t get to do that. Tell me what’s going on. You’re work is ridiculous right now and Marco is always texting you.” Jean decided confiding in someone not involved might not be a bad idea. Tina was trustworthy and smart. “I’m, we’re, being stalked.” Jean waited for Tina’s reaction. Not receiving one he continued, “He was my roommate when I got here, the one that attacked me. He’d apparently started stalking me after it and was even breaking in and sleeping, living, in the cubby hole above the closet in the dorm.” Tina was perplexed, “I never lived in the dorms here. What do mean cubby hole? Like the ones in kindergartens? Was he a dwarf or something?” Jean snorted, explaining how the dorm is laid out.

”So that’s why Marco is keeping tabs on you. He’s nervous that this guy could be anywhere.” Jean nodded, “Yeah, we both keep late hours and I have Marco take a guard when he leaves work and goes to the dorm.”
”Where are y’all living now?”
”With our RAs and friends who he was also keeping tabs on.”
”That’s how many people?
”Six.”
”Fuuuuuuuck.”
”Haha I know, we only have one bathroom. We sometimes all sit in the living room around the TV bitching at each other. My RA Levi said he actually liked it, it had an ancestral squabble feeling about it all.”
”He’s Jewish?”
”Yeah?”
”Well, a Jew, a feisty Italian like your boyfriend, and you a hot headed artist all under one roof is probably worthy of its own sitcom.” Jean sat back laughing, “Wanna go back and finish?” Tina stood up. “Word.”

Jean and Tina returned to their cubicles. They shared a wall but Jean’s space was huge at the back of the room and over to his right was a smaller cubicle that belonged to Krista. She was there layering and smiled when they walked in, “Hey Jean! Hey Tina! How are y’all? This deadline is coming up soon.” She motioned to her canvas and the various smatters of color on her palette. “How is your stuff coming along, Jeanie.” Jean was taught to respect women but her voice made him want to punch her in the face. “Good, you know. I don’t have much to worry about.” He said smugly as Tina rolled her eyes flicking paint at him. “I wish I could say the same. I’m worried.” She was fishing for compliments and Jean just couldn’t do it. He’d given in in the beginning but pulling all nighters in a small space really brought out people’s true personalities. He just couldn’t put the nagging feeling away and after all the shit he’d been through recently he didn’t feel like ignoring his gut because of a sweet smile. What was it they said in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? The threat of offending is so strong that we ignore our instincts because of it? Fuck that, I don’t care if I offended anyone.

Both managed to shift the focus back on their own art and soon the music was turned up and everyone was consumed in their own thing. Jean and Tina were mixing colors on his large drafting table that was the focal point and perk of the back cubicle when he put his brush in his water. He turned to look at painting called he referred to as The Monster Within, a series a self portrait representations of the aspects of Jean’s character he wasn’t proud of, when he heard Tina clear her throat, “I know your ass didn’t put this brush in my coke like a punk ass motherfucker.” Jean turned to see that he had indeed been dipping his brushes in Tina’s coke since they got back, his water pristine in its mason jar next to it. “Tina, I…I’m…” She turned, “Gunna buy my ass a new coke is what the fuck you’re gunna do.” Jena and Tina burst into a fit of giggles. They’d been in the studio for hours and hours this week and everything just became hilarious to them. Jean’s phone began to ring. He removed it and found that it was Marco.

He answered the phone, “Hey babe, what’s up?” Marco sounded out of breath, “Nothing much.” Jean grew concerned, “Why do you sound like you were running?” Marco laughed, “I was. I went for a run at the student rec center. I’m heading towards the dorm now.” Jean’s stomach tightened in anxious fear. “Are you alone?” Marco sighed, “Yeah but you know it’s a lot closer than work and I called you for that reason.” Jean still worried, “But, there are people around?” Marco continued to climb the hill, “Yeah. I’m at the top of the hill now. Almost at the dorm, I was calling to ask you what you’re doing for Thanksgiving” Jean took his brushes the sink to clean them, “Are you headin’ out?” Jean nodded at Tina. “I’ll drive you home. I’m parked at Sky Bar.”

Jean returned to washing his brushes, “I’m about to head home too. I…I don’t know, actually. I forgot that it was even November. Haha” Jean could imagine the face Marco was making. He heard the door unlocking to the dorm and felt immediately better. “Well, I was wondering if you’d like to come to my home for Thanksgiving. My dad suggested it.” Jean and Tina made their way down to the ground floor and outside walking across to her car, “Um…he did?” Marco snorted, “Yeah, listen we can talk about it when you get home. Don’t worry. Bye Babe.” Marco hung up leaving Jean in Tina’s car confused. “Why the long face?” Jean turned to Tina, “Um Marco’s dad suggested I come to Thanksgiving.” Tina turned onto the street, “That’s nice of him.” Jean sat in silence till the dorm was in view, “Marco hasn’t ever talked about his family. I haven’t told my mom about him yet, either. I’m horrible, aren’t I?” Tina snorted, “Sounds like it. If he’s important to you telling your mom is kind of important. Get out, go figure it out. I ain’t got time for you young people and your love problems. “

Jean waved goodbye walking up and into the dorm. He turned the knob on the door opening it wide to the sight of Armin and Erwin both on their laptops surrounded by stacks of papers and books. “But if they had just taken Moscow and left fucking Stalingrad alone.” Armin said typing away on his laptop. “I know, I know, baby. But the symbolism…” Erwin said exasperated, “Fuck that. Symbolism resulted in the stop of Blitz.” Erwin pulled his glasses off rubbing his eyes, “But Stalingrad was the bloodiest most decisive battle of WWII. Over 500,000 lives alone. It’s significance should not be tempered by what-ifs and-“ Armin’s head snapped up, “Erwin, I swear if you defend such an asinine military decision I will lose all respect for you and go put you in bed because your age has obviously caught up with you. “ His piercing blue eyes revealed how serious he was. Jean snorted a laugh, “He’s not so cute when he’s like that is he?” Erwin turned to Jean, mouth open, “No…no…I’m concerned. Are you like a gremlin? Should I not feed you after midnight?” Jean noted the take out on the coffee table. Armin’s eyebrow rose, “I’m sorry, I bet you would have thought proper buttons was a waste of resources in Napoleons army as well.” Erwin gasped, “You WOUND ME!”

Jean opened his door before they really went at it. Armin hadn’t been sleeping as much due to his studies. Jean needed to make a point of telling Erwin that Armin required at least 6 hours a night or he was a bitch to deal with. It was best to just put him in bed and disregard the protesting till he was in a better mood. Poor Erwin. Marco was laying on the bed with Jean’s retro blue, purple, and yellow lava lamp on illuminating the room. Marco was wearing only a pair of black briefs while he laid on his back holding a text book above his face, one hand moving against his stomach, across his defined abs and down towards the hem of his briefs.

Jean took in the sight, smiling, “Hey babe, you look like you’re studying hard.” Marco’s lips quirked up, “I’m trying to put theory into practice.” Jean shucked his bag off his shoulders and onto the floor. Jean began to sing, “a little party never hurt no one” as Marco put his book down on the table. “Come here and party with me.” Jean stalked forward, “You wanna party?” Marco took Jean’s hand pulling him on top of him. He slowly kissed Jean as his hands roamed his body, rolling his hips into him. Jean hissed as Marco’s hands went under his shirt to tweak his nipples. Marco pulled back smirking, he knew that was the quickest way to turn Jean on. “Babe?” Jean’s head was fuzzy, “yeah” Marco rolled into him again, “would you like to come to Thanksgiving with me?” Jean’s mind took a minute but it caught up to him, “Are you seducing me into saying yes?” Marco giggled, “Is it working?” Jean rolled off of him onto his side, “Yeah but let’s talk about this before we do anything.” Jean kissed Marco’s nose.

Marco pulled at Jean’s gym shorts, “Let’s hear it.” Jean snorted, “I would like to go with you but what have you told your dad about me?” Marco’s eyes lit up, “That you’re amazing.” Marcos goofy smile was infectious, “So you lied?” Marco swatted Jean’s arm, “I told the truth. You’re amazing, Jean. I told him how kind you are, how talented you are, how you take care of me and check in on me.” Jean felt like an asshole. He often did when it came to Marco. “Oh…um…my God Marco I don’t know what to say.” He could feel his cheek getting warmer, “I don’t want this to come off the wrong way, but I haven’t told my mother about you.” Marco’s face faltered for a second, “Oh that’s fine Jean it’s not a big deal really” but that wasn’t true and Jean needed to explain himself, “I haven’t told her about you because I’ve never dated a guy officially and I just didn’t know how to tell her. I don’t really know what her opinion on it is.”

Marco still looked a bit underwhelmed, “I thought you and Eren…” Jean laughed, “Um yeah, but Marco, Mr. Jaeger isn’t really all that accepting. I don’t know how Levi is going to be brought into the conversation at their house so…” Jean kissed Marco, “I’ll call mom and tell her about you and that you want me to go to Thanksgiving at your place. The only thing is…would your dad mind if she came?” Marco was confused, “Um but wouldn’t your dad and mom want to stay at your place?” Jean shook his head, “Dad is dead.” Marco’s eyes lit up, “oh, Jean…I’ll ask. My mother is dead too.”
Jean didn’t know that, “When?”
”I was twelve.”
”I’m sorry, Marco.”
”You?”
”Three.”
”I guess this is something we should visit later, right?”
”If you want to talk about it now we can.”
”I want to have sex.” Jean’s face was flushed. “Now? You want to go all the way now?” Marco smiled rubbing Jean’s arm up and down soothingly. “Um yeah. I’m tired of getting interrupted. I’m not expecting anything crazy, just something nice. Lazy sex, the sleep deprived college way.” Marco winked patting Jean’s face.

Jean smiled reaching over into his nightstand producing lube. He searched for condom but wasn’t having any luck, “What are you looking for?” Jean turned grimacing, “Condom.” Marco snorted, “Are you clean?” Jean nodded, “Then I trust you.” Marco moved closer to Jean cupping his face with his hands and kissing him. Jean’s lips moved against his lovingly, tender. Marco deepened the kiss taking Jean’s lip and sucking it. Marco started pulling off Jean’s clothes till both were down to nothing but their briefs. Jean broke away sliding off his own before Marcos.

Jean felt like a nervous virgin and an old lover at the same time. He had starred at Marco nude form many a night after they fooled around or were simply too hot and slept naked together. Marco pressed himself against Jean, their erections rubbing together as he swung his leg over Jean’s hip. Jean rubbed the lube over his fingers, turning to kiss Marco as his hands went to his entrance, sliding in eliciting a moan from Marco. He rocked on Jean’s digits rolling his hips against his and causing Jean to shudder from stimulation.

Jean thought he’d never seen anyone as beautiful as Marco, with his hooded eyes and glorious dusting of freckles. He kissed him, anywhere he could reach while stretching him. He wanted to take care of him, to make sure he felt good. Once he was stretched Jean removed his fingers reaching for the lube and moving over Marco. Marco had other ideas, taking the lube and coating his hand and then Jean’s cock. Jean hissed at the sensation of Marco’s hand stroking him. “You’re so amazing, Jean.” Marco’s voice sounded aroused but was sincere. Jean removed his hand and positioned himself at Marco’s entrance lifting his legs up on his hips. “Let’s hope you say that after this.” Marco laughed, “No pressure.”

Jean pushed in slowly, letting Marco get used to the intrusion. He waited anxiously for any sign that Marco wasn’t comfortable, plagued by the knowledge he’d suffered through uncomfortable sex before. He worried he wouldn’t tell him if he didn’t like it. Jean kissed his shoulder and waited till Marco rolled his hips, “you can move Jean.” Jean started off slow, with long strokes, searching for Marco’s sweet spot as tiny sighs fell from his mouth. He knew he found it when Marco clenched up, tightening his legs around Jean’s waist pushing strongly back onto him. “Jean, ah- there, Jean.” Jean continued thrusting into that spot as he picked up the pace till a steady string of moans and curses fell from their lips. Marco brought Jean down to kissing him roughly as they neared the end.

Jean wanted Marco to feel as good as possible. Snaking his hand between them he took his swollen cock in his hand and stroked him in time with his thrusts. Marco met him every time with his hips, bucking onto Jean causing him to come closer and closer to the edge. One final thrust and stroke pushed Marco and Jean over the edge, seeing white, and marking one another. Marco’s hands clutched Jean’s shoulders as he rode out his orgasm while Jean’s pulled his hips closer to him burying himself deep inside. Collapsing on top Marco Jean felt himself smile against the skin of his shoulder. Marco hummed a content sound. His hands stroked Jean’s back softly.

After their breathing leveled Jean rolled off and to the side, pulling at Marco’s waist to get closer. “How was it?” he asked him, somewhat anxious. Marco grabbed tissues from the nightstand cleaning himself off, “It was…” Jean waited with baited breath. “It was fucking great, Jean. I’ve seriously never felt better.” Jean’s face was smug, “That’s right babe, let me take care of you and it’ll always be great. I’m like wine, I get better with age.” Marco couldn’t help but laugh, “You’re ego will suffocate us in this room if you’re not careful.” Jean kissed the crook of Marco’s neck, “When is Thanksgiving?”Marco fully slapped Jean’s arm, making him jump.
“Jean! Do you even know what day it is?”
”No…not really.”
”It’s Friday and Thanksgiving is this Thursday.”
”What? Nawwwww that can’t be.”
”It is, doofus.”
”But I haven’t seen anything related to Thanksgiving!”
”You didn’t see the turkey costume Eren wore to lab the other day? Hanji came by as a Pilgrim and Levi refused to walk with them! Jean, my God!”
”I’ll call my mom tomorrow. I guess she figured I would be coming home sometime in the week and not for the full week we have off. Why are Armin and Erwin doing school stuff if it’s Friday?!”
”Erwin and Levi are going on Wednesday to your hometown for Thanksgiving and they have papers due when they are back. Well, Erwin is grading papers and Armin is data mining him for information on their final. I got mad respect for his ways.” Marco burst into a fit of giggles

Jean called his mother in the morning after Marco asked his father if her coming would be okay. They lived two and half hours away from one another. Marco and Jean would drive up with the rest of the group on Wednesday; stay the night with Ms. Kirschstein and then the next day she would follow them to Marco’s, staying the night to go black Friday shopping at the outlets and other stores that Marco was close to. On Saturday they would head back to school for the last football game and then spend Sunday recouping. Jean was nervous to introduce Marco as his boyfriend. His mother didn’t seem to really get it when he tried to explain and he felt awkward and rushed because she heading out to work. He hoped she fell in love with Marco. He planned on keeping him around for a long time.

Erwin asked him about his plans but he knew he was really waiting for an opportunity to dig for information about Armin. He told him his grandfather was a wonderful man and would love anyone Armin cared about. He knew for a fact he wouldn’t have anything negative to say and if he was worried about how he would take him being gay, well that wasn’t something he saw being a problem about either. They would all have dinner at the Jaeger’s more than likely and that would be the test. He suggested that he and Levi be prepared for the worst but hope for the best. Mikasa had been unusually candid with him about her fears of Mr. Jaeger ever meeting Annie. In fact, Mikasa and Jean had split up because she realized that she really was a lesbian, not just questioning. A lot of awkward sex and honest conversations had led to Jean’s broken heart but he was happy his friend had confided in him and a little smug she hadn’t shared this with Eren.

The day they arrived in their hometown Jean walked up to the front door, hand in hand with Marco and knocked. He felt stupid not just going in but his key wasn’t out and they had their things with them. Jean’s mother answered the door with the brightest smile Marco had seen to date, “Jean! Come here! Come here and hug your poor mother you don’t call enough.” Marco nearly died. She was a guilter. This was going to be great. “Mom! I call you!” She held her arms out wide, “Don’t lie, Jean. I raised you better. Or have you forgotten?” Marco laughed as Jean moved to hug her. “Mom, this Marco.” Jean was still holding his hand. “Hello Ms. Kirschstein. It’s very nice to meet you.” He held out his other hand for her to shake. She looked from her son to Marco before returning to Jean. With her hands on her hips she admonished, “So, he’s why you haven’t been calling. You get a boyfriend and you don’t have time for the woman who birthed you. I bet he cooks for you, too.” Marco was scared. He wasn’t sure if she was really upset or not. Her face betrayed nothing. “He makes good food.” Jean admitted shrugging. Ms. Kirschstein turned to Marco launching herself at him and bear hugging him. “Well, it could be worse. You could have brought Eren home.” Oh boy, if she only knew.

Marco was welcomed with open arms and blackmail to use against Jean, baby books to elementary school, middle school, clubs, even his first communion was documented and laid out for Marco to enjoy. “You never told me you were catholic!” Jean shrugged, “I’m not practicing.” He mumbled while Jean’s mother looked on disapprovingly. “Are you anything Marco?” Marco’s trade mark smile appeared, “Catholic.” Jean’s mother praised the Lord her son had found a good catholic boy. “Do you come from a large family, Marco?” Marco nodded, “Yes ma’am, I’m an only child but my father is one of five and I have too many cousins to count. This year, though, it’ll just be my dad and I since we’re having you two over as guests. Trust me, you don’t want to be thrown into that dysfunction just yet.” Mrs. Kirschstein laughed, “Oh, we know. I’m one of three but the dysfunction is enough for twenty. What a wonderful treat it is to have you with us Marco.”

Marco felt his heart swell, “Thank you, ma’am. I’m really happy to be here.” Jean smiled taking a seat by Marco on the couch and taking his hand. “Babe, you’re great. But, can we please put away the pictures of me in the tub playing with Barbie dolls?” Marco’s eye narrowed, “No, sir. I wish to gaze at my favorites for a bit longer.” Ms. Kirschstein cackled. They were having so much fun. Jean looked at his phone, hoping that Eren and Armin were having just as much fun as they were.

Marco’s father was a large Italian man who looked like he was once the most handsome Mafiso of Italy’s most notorious and charming gang. Jean couldn’t help but appreciate the fact Marco would more than likely age to look like that. He had tan skin, green eyes, dark brown hair, and well defined broad shoulders that Jean was crushed into as soon as he opened the door. Ms. Kirschstein stifled her giggles as Jean sputtered for air. “Dad, this is Jean and his wonderful mother, Ms. Kirschstein.” Mr. Bodt took her hand, giving it a light kiss, “Ciao Bella.” He winked, flashing a devious smile Jean had been on the receiving end of many times when Marco wanted to charm him. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. His mother accepted the compliment with grace, turning on her own French charms. “Merci Monsieur Bodt.” Marco and Jean exchanged glances; this was going to be interesting and potentially awkward.

Thanksgiving at the Bodt home was an Italian dream. Jean had never eaten so much good and authentic Italian cuisine. He loved the small Americanized touches in the dishes. Marco’s father had various bottles of wine that they were all steadily going through. He’d brought up a few vintage French ones for Ms. Kirschstein and was entertaining her with his stories of his time living in a small French village. Jean could tell some things where being omitted and he asked Marco. “Well, my dad actually was in the mob, Jean. He was in France doing some not so legal things.” Marco’s words were soft as if he was explaining the obvious. Jean was shocked, “You mean he really was in the mafia? You’re dad was a mobster?” Marco nodded, “He still has connections. I’ve been raised knowing and my mother actually met him on a job. She was an undercover police officer. Haha.” Jean was engrossed, “More…I demand more!”

Marco told Jean that his father was running from the scene of the crime when he ducked into a tailor’s shop. He knew the tailor would hide him and while he was tearing through the shop he walked in on him taking the measurements of a woman. He said when he saw her, time stopped and he forgot all about needing to hide. He instead, took a flower from one of the arrangements around the shop, walked up to her, and got down on one knee asking her if she’d marry him. “What did she say?” Jean prompted, “Obviously she said yes. She joined him on the run. Actually, she had an idea of who he was when he walked in from working on trying and combat the gang problem in southern Italy but as soon as she met him it was all over. They fell in love, at first sight. Just like a Disney movie.” Jean hugged Marco to him kissing his temple. “Jean, would you have run off with me?” Marco teased, “I think so. You’re a work of art, babe.”

Marco’s father cleared his throat, “Love abounds in this room, it seems.” Marco laughed, “Jean, tell me about yourself. I’ve heard a lot from Marco and even more from your Joli mother. But, we have yet to be able to sit and talk. Marco why don’t you help Ms. Kirschstein decide on her Black Friday shopping route. You know the stores better than me.” Marco knew that was a lie, his father loved to shop but he took his leave anyway. “Well, um…sir…I’m an artist. I want to make art, travel, live freely, and then once I start a family I want to also teach art to kids.” Mr. Bodt sat down next to him leaning back in the seat, “You want a family of your own?” Jean played with the hem of his sweater. “Yes sir, a large one. I want a lot of kids and then grandchildren. I want to live big house where I can paint and spend time with my spouse. It’s nothing grand but it’s perfect for me.” Jean smiled imagining his kids running around causing havoc playing with paint as he chased them around. He pictured his spouse cooking a large pot of stew for the cold day, calling them into the kitchen for dinner. He imagined how Marco’s face, flushed from the heat of the pot would look.

Marco’s father hummed in approval. “You know Jean, Marco’s only ever dated one other person and I wanted to kill him.” Jean’s face fell. “Oh umm yeah he mentioned him. But, we haven’t really talked in depth about him.” Jean felt his throat tighten up. Mr. Bodt changed the channel to another football game that was beginning. “He swears that you’re not like him, that you take care of him. Have you told your mother about the stalker? Marco told me about it. I’ve always kept him in the loop and he does the same for me. It’s just us, you know? Your mom doesn’t seem to know, I understand that telling her in your opinion might make things worse but you’re all she has. I like you, Jean. I think you really fit with Marco and I’m not going to lie, I like your mother. If you want me to keep up with her while you’re away. I can do that. But you need to tell her in case something else happens to you.” Jean knew Marco’s father had a point. They sat a bit longer on the couch as the game went to halftime.

”I’ll tell her after she shops.” Mr. Bodt finished his wine, “Good choice. Never ruin a woman’s shopping.” Jean looked into the kitchen seeing Marco and his mother laughing and cutting coupons. “Do you like me, Mr. Bodt? Am I good enough for Marco?” Marco’s father looked surprised, “Well, I don’t know. I definitely never felt good enough for Marco’s mother. She dealt with a lot of shit being married to me till we came over to the states and settled down. We brought my family over slowly and weaned ourselves out of the more illegal aspects of the family business. A shame really, Marco has such potential. He decided to take on a business minor to please me but he’d got real talent when it comes to writing. Maybe he’ll write up your art expo pieces for you one day?” He chuckled good naturedly before slapping Jean on his back. “I’d love that.”

Marco really did have talent. It scared him when he first asked if Jean wanted to read a piece for his class to catch any errors. When your sexy boyfriend says that he is majoring in creative writing and mass media you fear he’s just another pretty face with mediocre talents. Instead, he was pleased to find anything that Marco wrote was fantastic. He would love for Marco to sell him and his art with his words one day, one day soon, hopefully.

After more wine and football they all went out for the grand black Friday rush. Jean had always hated this part of the holiday but his mother lived for it. She took down anyone in her way, slapping coupons down and bringing prices to the floor. She was vicious and Marco’s father loved it. He could be heard laughing at the devastation she left in her wake. Marco enjoyed it as well, but he wasn’t a chump either, sneaking away and wracking a haul of his own up before returning at their designated check point. Marco’s father smiled, “Got me anything?” He ruffled Marco’s hair, “Or is it all for Jean?” Marco snorted, “It’s all for Ms. Kirschstein. Neither of you helped us cut coupons.” Jean’s mother cackled side hugging Marco, “Yes! You can hang with me anytime, Marco.”

Telling Jean’s mother that Friday night was whole other story. Marco corroborated his story but she was distraught, her only son, the target of a madman. She wept, totally inconsolable until both boys were shooed away by Mr. Bodt with a bottle of wine and plate of cheese. Jean left after seeing the calm re-assuring look of his face as he sat down across from her and placed his hand over hers. Marco pulled him towards his bed room. Jean and his mother had a room to themselves and he had slept on the couch when they returned from shopping. Jean was curious what Marco’s bedroom looked like.

Marco’s room was cozy with dark red walls, gold rod iron bed, desk in the corner with a bookshelf full of books. His wall had cork boards of pictures and medals and awards. He had a bean bag chair at the foot of his bed and a large stuffed horse in the corner that a small child could ride. He pulled Jean to the bed, collapsing on the brown and white comforter. Jean snuggled close to him, wrapping his arms around him and kissing him. They kissed slowly for a long time until they heard the closing of doors in the hall. “Jean, I think your mother and my dad like each other.” Jean snorted, “You think?” Marco smiled, “I like your mother.” Jean took his shirt off throwing it on the horse in the corner, “Hopefully not more than you like me.” Marco kissed the area over his heart, “Never.”

Jean and Marco said goodbye to their parents and left for Maria after a large lunch at the Bodt’s favorite German restaurant. Jean called Eren on their way down since they’d have a near four hour drive and Eren would talk enough to kill time. He asked how it went with his father and it went about as expected. He put him on the blue tooth in Marco’s Fiat so he could hear as well.

Mrs. Jaeger was excited to see Mikasa and Eren and greeted them at the door with Levi and Donner standing to the side. She asked if this was Levi and after Eren confirmed she stepped out taking him into her arms and thanking him for watching over her son. She knew he could be a handful. Levi was brought into their home and they showed him to the guest room. That was to be expected. Mr. Jaeger was working that night so it would just be Carla and her kids.

She asked Levi about himself and Levi was talkative and polite. Eren and Mikasa decided to tell his mother more about the stalking case. They had only briefly explained it to her before coming home. Mr. Jaeger came home early and only heard that Levi and Eren were living together. He became angry, got on his soap box about good Christian morals and what not when Mrs. Jaeger surprised everyone by stating that he shouldn’t throw stones and that led to the end of that, or at least, until lunch the next day where he preceded to ask Levi all manner of sorts of questions about his past and life. Levi played it off during lunch and by the time dinner rolled around Eren was grateful that when Erwin, Armin, and Armin’s Grandfather showed up.

That was, until Armin’s parents appeared behind them. For two world travelers they sure weren’t the most accepting. Armin’s mother found a kindred spirit in Eren’s father. She stirred up concern that Levi was Jewish and gay and Erwin, while a fine man, was also much older and both appeared to be hardened by their life in the military. Erwin had regressed into a functioning polite generic university recruiter façade in order to be a non-offending as possible where Levi grew increasingly more and more withdrawn and sour. Donner had even taken a dislike to Armin’s parents and would not go near them. This kept on until in the middle of the dinner Mr. Jaeger asked if Levi if he worked at the lab with Eren. Levi told him yes, that he was Eren’s supervisor and Dr. Jaeger started to perk up after finding out that Levi was in the medical school and was an experienced field surgeon.

It seemed things were getting on the right track and Erwin was even brought into the fold with well placed questions by Armin’s grandfather. It wasn’t until Mrs. Arlert ruined everything with a “it’s such a pity. You’re both so very smart and accomplished yet you still continue to damn yourself. Especially you, Levi, won’t you allow the light of the Lord into your life and come to know Jesus?” Levi’s hands clenched under the table as Eren moved to touch him, “No, I don’t let strange men come in me. That’s not a very good way to get to know someone.” That was his reply before finishing the beer Mrs. Jaeger provided Erwin and the others of age to drink. Mr. Jaeger’s positive strides seemed to regress. He stated that he never understood why an effeminate man simply didn’t find a strong willed or butchy woman and vice versa. Erwin assured him that an attraction to genitalia had nothing to do with personality traits attributed to stereotypes. It seemed that would be what set World War III off until Mrs. Jaeger, exasperated, put her foot down asking her husband how he could be of that opinion when it had been scientifically proven that homosexuality may in fact be a sign of advanced evolution and was natural and occurred in other species than humans and had been prominent in culture and history since the dawning of time. She told him she was rather embarrassed by his lack of education on the subject. Eren was proud of his mother and Mikasa became more relaxed too. Mrs. Jaeger asked why he didn’t freak out when Eren was in school and was dating Jean. His father was aghast, “You dated that Kirschstein boy?! How could you? At least this guys a surgeon. Kirschstein is a hot head like you.”

All in all, Erwin and Armin returned with the rest of the Arlerts afterwards, agreeing to come back if things got worse. His grandfather promised him that he would handle his parents but he was doubtful it would do any good. Levi and Eren were leaving now but Armin and Erwin were going to leave in another hour or so. They were all going to head to Erwin and Levi’s new house when they got back to Maria if they’d like to come with them. Afterwards they’d all go watch the game since it was away. It was the biggest game or the season. Jean and Marco said they’d thank about it, just give them a call when they got in town.

After end the phone call Eren sat back in Levi’s car, Donner resting in the back. He looked through Levi’s music finding Lana Del Rey, “You like Lana?” Levi snorted, “I worship Lana. There is a difference. She is a queen.” Eren burst into laughter, “Oh God, this is great. You know I have a Levi playlist, right?” Levi’s brow furrowed, “What does that mean?” Eren switched to his I-pod, pulling up a playlist named Levi, “It’s all the music that makes me think of you. It’s basically a lot of Lana and Hozier. His voice reminds me of yours when you sing in the shower or room and think know one can hear you.” Eren hit play as Shades of Cool came on. “Yessss, this one definitely makes me think of you.” Levi’s eyes widened, “really?” Eren grew serious, “really, you’re just so indescribable but she helps me find words that I can use.”


My baby lives in shades of blue
Blue eyes and jazz and attitude
He lives in California too
He drives a Chevy Malibu


And when he calls
He calls for me and not for you
He lives for love, he loves his drugs
He loves his baby too

Levi was quiet driving down the highway, “I want to talk to you about something serious, Eren.” Eren grew nervous, “What is it? Was this too much? Are you going to break up with me? You are…oh God…” Levi reached over patting Eren’s knee, “No, nothing like that. But, it is about us. Eren, I’m not going to convert. I’m a Jew. This is who I am. I won’t convert if you ask, either. I can’t…I can’t do that.”


But I can't fix him, can't make him better
And I can't do nothing about this strange weather

Eren was relieved, “I’d never ask you and I never want you to do that. Not unless it’s what you want. I…I don’t personally have any attachment to Christianity. I’ve tried to get into it over the course of my life but I haven’t ever felt at home. That’s for another time. I don’t think you’ve said all you want to say so…”


But you are unfixable
I can't break through your world
'Cause you live in shades of cool
Your heart is unbreakable


My baby lives in shades of cool
Cool heart, and hands and aptitude
He lives for love, for women, too
I'm one of many, one is blue

Levi hadn’t, “When I, or if I ever, have kids I will raise them in Judaism. If that’s going to be a problem then…then I don’t know how we’re going to work. I never want you to change yourself, Eren. This isn’t one of those “he’s a fixer upper” cases, or it better not be. I want you to be you and you let me be me. I’ know I’m difficult to deal with but if that’s something that fundamentally goes against what you believe or feel then you need to tell me. I’ve never felt this serious about anyone before and your parents made it very clear where they stood. Even your mother, as wonderful as she is, pulled me aside and asked if I’d go to church with you. She isn’t worried that I’m gay but she’s worried over my soul and yours because she and your father worry that I’ll corrupt you. I heard them say that before we left.” Eren watched helplessly as Levi started to cry, “I don’t want to lose you. I don’t want you to leave. I-I can’t stand the thought…but I can’t lose myself, not again. Eren…Eren…” Eren clutched his arm, “Pull over, now.”


And when he calls
He calls for me and not for you
He prays for love, he prays for peace
And maybe someone new


But I can't help him, can't make him better
And I can't do nothing about his strange weather

Eren had heard Levi cry in his sleep, heard him through the door, and heard him next to him after a rough night. But, he’d never seen him in the light of day shed tears. Donner was leaning over licking at his face, nuzzling him as Eren took off his seat belt and lifted the center console hugging him closer. He held him through the worst of the sobbing until sliding out, pulling him over and taking his place as the driver. Donner stayed between the seats as Levi stroked his fur and looked out the window. “Levi, one day, will you tell me what happened?” Levi continued to stoke Donner’s chest as Eren drove along the highway, “Yes.” Eren made a turn, “Until then, will you tell me where your accent is from?”


'Cause you are unfixable
I can't break through your world
'Cause you live in shades of cool
Your heart is unbreakable


You're hot, hot, weather in the summer
High, high, neglectful lover
Hot, hot, weather in the summer
High, a bird flew over
You're crumbling, sadly
I'm sorry
You're gone with me

Levi looked over, “my accent?” Eren smiled, “Yeah, I only hear it every now and then, mostly when you get upset or really fired up. I really like it.” Levi looked forward, “It’s French. You’re so stupid, Eren. You’re so damn oblivious.” Eren barked a laugh and then feigned hurt, “That’s not nice! You know what they say when you assume.” Levi snorted, feeling a bit better. “I was born in Paris, in the Jewish quarter. My mother and her husband were childless for a number of years, she had a one night stand and I was conceived. Her husband found out but he didn’t want to bring shame upon her because he did love her. We were a part of an orthodox sect with strict beliefs. I went to the Rabbi to learn my letters on my third birthday like the other boys, but was removed before my fourth after my mother’s sin was found out. Her husband died. He left it in a letter to the Rabbi who was bound by duty and labeled me a “mamzer” and thus forbidden. My blood is unclean for six generations.”


You are unfixable
I can't break through your world
'Cause you live in shades of cool
Your heart is unbreakable

He paused, Eren waited, barely breathing. “The Rabbi took pitty and found another match for my mother, a man also disgraced in need of a wife. He lived in America so we were put on a plane and sent here. We were paperless, stateless, and spoke no English. I cried when I got there because from the beginning it was horrible. He was a drunk, never cleaned anything and wouldn’t allow my mother to keep the household like she had in France. In fact, he’d prevent her from cleaning by being physically abusive and then when others would come over for high holidays he’d blame her and shame her publicly. I was forbidden to speak French. I learned English out of terror and the pure need to survive. I tried to phase my accent out as much as possible but my mother wasn’t able to learn like I was and I had to speak in French with her. It was horrible.” Eren was speechless, “Levi…oh my God…” Levi released Donner to sit down, “Yeah, that’s probably enough for today.” They continued on the drive holding hands and listening to various Shades of Cool, one of them was blue.

Chapter Text

Erwin, Armin, Levi, and Eren pulled up to the plantation house just before sunset. It was lit up, Erwin had Hanji and Mike run by on their way home to turn the lights on, and Eren was beyond excited. He’d always passed the house on his way through the back roads of Maria. He was a little surprised that this was the house Levi wanted but once they went inside he could understand. They had already started remodeling the most important rooms so when they entered they were greeted to the sight of a beautiful foyer with a double stair case, sitting room to the left, kitchen to the right, and towards the back the main living room.

Eren immediately went into the kitchen amazed. Obviously, Levi had insisted on creating this kitchen from scratch. It was a kosher kitchen with two sinks, ovens, fridges, and it was spotless and functional with a large table in the island for the ultimate family dinners and celebrations. Armin was right behind him when he heard him say, “Erwin…did you really? Is this what I think it is!?” Erwin chuckled, “It is baby. It is.” Eren turned to see a glass door in the floor by Armin’s feet. If you opened the door you could walk down a small spiral staircase with rows and rows are wines, rare alcohols, and imported vintages. Armin squealed in delight. “You have Absinth!” Erwin walked over to the opening, “Of course. We serve it Moroccan style.”

After leaving the kitchen they went to see the sitting room. Erwin had played a large role in the staging of the room but the colors were very reflective of Levi’s kitchen. Both men must have agreed on what the common areas of the house would look like together and well in advance to have this much finished and ordered. They passed a small powder room that Armin loved with its 1920s tile and clean white aesthetic. The main living room was glorious with wall to wall windows, two sitting areas with their own TVs and media. It was completely possible to have two separate parties going on side by side. Interested to see the rest of the finished rooms Armin asked to see upstairs if that was ready. Erwin and Levi said they had finished the main rooms they would use but there were still many to be finished at a later time and bathrooms to be renovated. They would show them their personal spaces and a few odd ones they finished easily. They climbed the staircase and entered down a long hall.

Erwin’s study was on the way and they peeked in. Armin thought it fit him well. They then passed another sitting room that both would use for business meetings. Inside the living room was a door to a full-size bathroom with a glass and iron shower that looked very Bauhaus in Armin’s opinion. Eren felt ecstatic when he found out that the temperature could be controlled.

Erwin’s room was amazing. It looked like a safari and astronomy lover’s dream. It had a painted ceiling that reminded Armin of the sky, zebra rug, and a four post bed he could get lost in. The closet nearly made Armin faint. It was an entire other room to itself and looked like a department store ready to be stocked. His bathroom was spacious and hadn’t been remolded as much. Armin noted the TV in the corner, “You put a TV in your bathroom? Really Erwin…” Erwin moved to pull Armin closer, “I did and I fully expect to be relaxing in that tub watching the trash they put on the history channel these days with you in the bubbly water with me, bitching at me.” Armin sputtered, “I do not bitch. It’s not bitching if you’re right.” Erwin kissed his cheek, “You’re right. You’re voice is a symphony to me. Without you, I would go astray.” Levi made a gagging noise and they left for the hall again.

Eren didn’t know what he’d expected but this was certainly a surprise. They passed Levi’s study which boasted bookshelves, a skull patterned rug, and a small vintage desk with futuristic chair. On the other end it was completely different though, a more professional black and white office with another zebra rug like in Erwin’s room and a lager heavy black desk and leather French provincial style chair. Levi’s room on the other hand was light and airy, French and timeless. Eren felt like he’d walked into a chateau. Mornings in this room would be like waking up on the French coast and nights by the fire place watching TV, which he had hidden with a picture frame over the fire place, would be romantic and cozy. His bathroom looked like a cross between a fancy locker room with its walk in shower and luxury resort. Eren couldn’t wait to submerge himself in that tub, if Levi let him, that is. His closet made Armin drool even more and Eren couldn’t help but picture it in some boutique in Paris. They couldn’t wait to see the other rooms that were done.

Next to Levi’s room was a small room that was converted into a child’s room. Eren looked around it feeling a sense of warmth in his body, “Whose room is this?” Erwin shrugged as Levi crossed his arms, “It was a small room and Levi suggested we make it a kid’s room. A bit pre-emptive but it was a good idea.” Armin nodded taking Erwin’s hand and pulling him out of the room. “Did you make anymore for kids?” he questioned as Eren and Levi followed, “Mmmm there are some in the works but we don’t have a need for that, just a lot of foresight.” Armin nuzzled close to Erwin as he showed them another guest room,it’s bathroom, then another guest room, it’s personal bathroom, and a home theater that Erwin suggested they all watch the game in today. Needless to say, what was left to do in the house paled in comparison to what was done. Eren and Armin thanked their lucky stars they were dating two established men with great tastes.

Jean and Marco showed up to watch the game, remarking at the house. Hanji and Mike soon followed, though Hanji wasn’t looking like their normal self. “Eren, I need to ask you something.” Eren walked with them to the sitting room, “yeah? Is everything alright?” Hanji wrung their hands, “No…maybe. Did you take anything from the lab? I’m not mad if you did, I’d actually be really relieved.” Eren’s eyes narrowed, “No, Hanji, I didn’t. Everything needs to stay either in the incubators or under the vent.” Hanji’s face was grim, “All of your work is gone, Eren. It’s all gone. What we’ve been working on…things are missing and numbers are skewed.” Eren took the information in stride. There was no time to grieve, “Have you told Levi?”

”Told me what?” Levi appeared with bottle of Becks behind Eren as Hanji prepared themselves to deliver the news, “It’s all gone. Everything Eren has worked on. All of the progress we made. What is left if useless because the numbers have been skewed. I don’t know what levels to start back at and Sunny and Bean need to rest.” Levi frowned, “You think?” He looked over at Armin. “Yeah, he was right. He was pre-med. Came in with a lot of potential with pathology. But, he had a thing for corpses that got him kicked out of his previous nursing program if you catch my drift.” Eren felt sick. “Oh my God.”

Levi pulled Eren close, “Have you mentioned anything about our research to Armin?”Eren shook his head, “No. But it’s killing me.” Levi rubbed his back. “Do you think it’s time?” Hanji shook their head, “No. Not yet. I’m sorry. We just need to let Erwin say what he feels comfortable saying and if he gives Armin more information it’ll be at the right time. I trust him.” Eren took the beer out of Levi’s hands. “This is now mine.” Levi snorted, “Brat.”

The game wasn’t a nail biter. It was sad. The Scouts lost to the Titans as they often did. It didn’t matter how well they did during the season, the Titan’s just always had the deck stacked against them. It was in their territory in Sina and home field advantage was a real thing when it came to SEC football. Jean and Marco told everyone about their Thanksgiving and Eren was glad to know it went better than his. Armin and Erwin hadn’t been their usual selves and he worried that after whatever torture Erwin was subjected to after the dinner would maybe be too much and chase him off. Honestly, Armin couldn’t be held accountable for his parent’s actions.

Afterwards they all decided to go get food and head back to the dorm. Jean asked if they’d be moving into the house full time soon but Erwin and Levi said they still had to finish their contracts as RAs and therefore, couldn’t move in fully until the end of the school year in May. They went to Full Moon for BBQ and then the dorm to unload their things. Everyone was thankful that Sunday was tomorrow and all of their work was finished for Monday.

Armin knew Erwin was dealing with everything that had happened the last few days. He was on edge, waiting for Erwin to take him aside and tell him he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t deal with that level of dysfunction. They had arrived at his house happy and excited when his grandfather threw the doors open embracing both of them and bringing them in to tea. Erwin and opa Arlert had hit it off immediately talking about their travels and opa Arlert’s obsession with the great Khan of Khans. Everything was picture perfect that night as he went to bed early leaving Erwin and Armin alone to watch a history special on Netflix and make out slowly on the couch.

The next morning they were both awoke to the front door being forced open by someone who sounded like they rarely used the key in the lock. Erwin must have been startled because he grabbed Armin who was sleeping on top of him on the couch choking him. Armin grabbed his hands knowing he was still partially asleep so he insistently in a low but serious voice said “Erwin, Erwin, it’s me, it’s Armin, daddy, daddy please you gotta wake up. Wake up, please.” Erwin let go allowing Armin to slide off and pull him down the hall. He took him to his room and closed the door quietly. “I think…I think that my parents came home.” Armin started taking his clothes off while Erwin just sat on his bed.

”Erwin are you okay?” Armin was worried, “Yeah, I’m fine. Tired.” Armin walked over to him, “My father is a journalist now for this Creationist magazine or something and my mother’s a missionary. Remember? I told you they travel all the time and they’re super religious still. I know they’re going to have an issue with you because you are gay. I endured it all through high school and it’s a lot of religious guilt. I am so sorry, Erwin. I am so sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you to come if they were going to be here.” Erwin took Armin’s hands in his own. “No, no. It’s fine. I can handle it. I promise.” He smiled but it was forced. “You wanna take a shower?” Erwin nodded and they both took turns in Armin’s small bathroom until Armin’s opa knocked, “Armin, it’s me.”

Armin opened the door as his grandfather slipped in, “I want to tell you I had no idea they were coming. In fact, they claim they had this planned all along to surprise you but I think that’s some scheiß.” Erwin laughed, albeit a bit strained, “Is my being here going to be a problem? I can leave if that would be better.” Armin pouted, “If you go, I’ll go. We’ll eat at Waffle House and be better off for it.” Armin’s opa grinned, “True, I love those cheap waffles.” Just then Armin’s mother called for him to come say hello.

Armin entered hand in hand with Erwin, “Mom, dad, this is my boyfriend Erwin, he’ll be staying for Thanksgiving.” His mother and father exchanged pained glances. “Oh, Armin…how improper.” was her mumbled response that set the tone for hours of uncomfortable conversation. After the disaster that was the Jaeger’s dinner Erwin and Armin barricaded themselves in opa Arlert’s study until bed time. Erwin and Armin’s grandfather had started drinking and he knew they’d fall asleep pretty easily when they finally lay down. All night Erwin tossed and turned. He mumbled angrily under his breath. It was all things that Armin had come to experience over the nights he’d slept next to him in the apartment. Commander, their rescue kitten that had been staying with Mikasa and Annie until they had finally settled down in the apartment, would curl up on the desk next to him until Armin went to back to sleep. That was why he’d been in such a bad mood lately, he wasn’t sleeping because he was worried about Erwin.

This night was by far the worse one yet. He yelled out a few times making Armin worry his parents would come and find them in bed together and make an already tense situation worse. He had told his opa about it and he knew he would understand the difference between a real yell and one born of nightmares. He continued to thrash until Armin sat up, perhaps a bit too quickly and the next thing he knew he was on his back pinned to the bed, knee between his legs, and all of Erwin’s weight and pressure on him and his wrists. He released an involuntary choking noise he immediately regretted when Erwin’s face contorted in understanding. He released Armin, who merely laid there relieved that no sound had been made loud enough wake anyone from their sleep. He patted Erwin, who was still above him, telling him to lay back down and go to sleep.

The next day they woke up, got dressed and packed up. They sat down to a large German breakfast with opa Arlert and Erwin seemed to still be off but Armin couldn’t blame him. His parents walked into the kitchen asking about what Armin had been up to. They seemed completely unaware he was even in school and criticized his choice of major and lifestyle. They made digs here and there but mostly they were their usual “we love you because we made you and you are a gift from God but let’s talk about what we’re doing to further the righteous cause” selves. When they brought up having him come back for Christmas and maybe them going on a trip together, Erwin stood up announcing that they needed to go and Armin already had Christmas plans. Opa Arlert seemed pleased at the stuttering of his daughter and son-in-law as Erwin pulled Armin up, gave opa Arlert a huge hug with a kiss on the cheek, and kissed Armin lovingly on the lips before waving goodbye and pulling him out to the car he had already packed up.

The drive back down was very quiet. He made little comments here and there about things they passed but Armin felt like if he was in the mood to talk he’d tell him. Erwin was on autopilot till he got a phone call from Hanji. His already lethargic mood turned morose after they gave him whatever information they needed to give him. Armin twiddled with the edges of his book, their last one for the book club till after Christmas break. “Is everything okay?” He prompted as Erwin hung up. “He was pre-med.” Armin’s eyes widened, “Oh.”

Erwin cleared his throat, “Armin, what makes a good soldier?” Armin noticed Erwin’s knuckles turn white on the steering wheel. “Loyalty?” Erwin’s eyes narrowed, “anything else?” Armin took a moment to think about it. Loyalty is important because it allows one to ultimately continue on the path before them without going off at a crucial moment. It lends itself to devotion, devotion contributes to ideals. When you truly believe something, you give your all, you sacrifice everything and anything to help your cause. “Sacrifice.”

”What if you could make sure that your soldiers were loyal and would be willing to sacrifice anything for you?” Armin didn’t have to hesitate, “I’d probably welcome that assurance.” Erwin made a turn onto a side road, “What if you had the added insurance that even if wounded they’d continue on?” Armin’s brow furrowed, “Most would continue even wounded but there are wounds that render one useless.” Erwin’s eyes closed briefly, “What if they could heal no matter how bad the wound, sometimes in a matter of minutes, head injuries, near decapitation, entire limbs re-grown in an hour?” Armin felt sick.

This can’t be real life. “Erwin don’t tell me this is some sort of fucked up shit like unit 731? Are we talking real life zombie like states of disassociation, an attempt at some sort of immortality, or worse?” Erwin tapped the steering wheel, “We think that the group controlling things is working to create a type of serum that will make soldiers almost like mindless blood thirsty killing machines with one or two well defined goals in mind and the ability to heal from just about anything.” Armin could feel himself want to retch. “The scientists that would go missing…” Erwin nodded, “We’re injected and then wounded to see how well they healed and probably how long it took. Many have never come back and those who do don’t remember. It could be a sign of the serum.” Armin interrupted, “Or repression of trauma.”

Armin reached over to touch Erwin’s arm, his voice a whisper, “Do you ever think…Have you ever thought how…how lucky Jeeter is?” Erwin was perplexed, “What do you mean?” Armin inhaled, “He gets matched to a boy who he finds dreamy enough to become obsessed with, that boy randomly matched with his friends, one of those friends ends up dating the man trying to take down the group that has paid him and given him the means to stalk to his heart’s content, and we’re all under the same roof making it even easier for him to stalk us because he can just camp out in one spot. I mean, who the fuck gets that lucky? I know he could have been placed in your dorm to be near you but the rest is just pure luck. Do you think he plays the lotto?” Armin asked genuinely looking at Erwin.

Erwin’s face was white, “Levi…”Armin clutched his arm, “What about Levi, Erwin?” His voice shook but he managed, “His research. They probably put him in our dorm to focus on Levi since he was the one who originally created a type of blood clot serum that could slow blood flow and increase clotting at the wound. He wanted to make it a part of field kits. Hanji was working with her rabbits when she asked if they could use it on them while they worked on them for her virology study. They’ve been working on it since my father was president but what luck, Levi comes with basically a premade serum already that would be perfect for them to hijack for their own goal.”

They were almost to the house by this point in the conversation. Armin was trying to put everything together. He wanted to figure out how this was going to play out. Erwin slowed the car down anticipating the turn. “Armin, when we get back to the dorm” he turned onto the driveway, “I need to talk to you.”Armin stroked his arm, “Is everything okay?” Erwin seemed so distant. “No. I just…don’t worry about it till then, okay?” Armin tried to smile, “I’ll try.” They got out of the car waiting on Levi and Eren with pits in their stomach and words left unsaid.

Chapter Text

When Armin and Erwin got back to the apartment, Mikasa had already brought Commander back from Annie’s house and he was sitting on the couch waiting for his unlikely best friend, Donner, to come bursting through the door. Once everyone came in and settled down, Donner and Commander sat together curled up next to one another causing Eren to coo his approval, taking a million Instagram pictures while Levi cleaned the apartment. Erwin pulled Armin back to his room, shutting the door behind him. He put their things to the side before sitting on the bed, his head in his hands.

”Armin, I want to tell you something.” Armin walked over to Erwin crouching down, “What’s wrong? You’re really upsetting me.” Erwin started to shake, sobs threatened to let themselves lose from his throat. When he did speak it was broken, choked, “I hurt you.” Erwin started to fully sob, “I choked you, pinned you down, and hurt you.” Armin moved between his legs trying to get his hands to open and expose his face. “No, nooooo, you didn’t hurt me. You didn’t even mean to do it!” Erwin took Armin’s hands, holding them up, “look at your wrists!”

Armin could see the beginnings of bruises, “Erwin, you did not mean to do it. You were asleep.” Erwin continued to cry, “Baby, I’ve been doing it for weeks. I’m keeping you up aren’t I?” Armin held his ground, “Erwin, you can’t control what you do in your sleep. Yes, you’ve mistaken me for whatever it is you thought was there and yes, you bruised my wrists but that doesn’t make you a horrible person. You’re dealing with PTSD. It’s life. This is how it is and you warned me from the beginning. If I wasn’t invested in this I wouldn’t have stayed. I love you, Erwin. I love you and that’s all I need to know. I’m staying as long as you’ll have me.” Armin cupped Erwin’s face, “I love you. Please, don’t do this to yourself.”

There was a knock on the door; it opened revealing Levi in the doorframe, “What happened?” His voice was still stern, but a slight tremble betrayed how concerned he really was. “I hurt Armin. I’ve been hurting him in my sleep for weeks.” Erwin wailed as he rubbed his hands through his hair. Levi moved forward, “That’s what I thought I heard. I just wanted to check if I heard right.” Eren came to the door, “Armin are you okay?” Armin nodded; afraid that Eren would make Erwin feel worse if he defended himself. “I’m fine, Eren. I swear this isn’t a big deal.” Levi looked at Armin, “It is to us. How do you think it feels to care about someone so much all you want is to protect them, it’s even ingrained in you to protect them, and then you find out your actually the most threatening thing to them?” Eren stepped forward cutting in between Levi’s glare and Armin’s clenched fists, “Let Levi talk with Erwin. Come in here with me.”

Eren and Armin went into the small living room. Jean and Marco’s door was open. Eren thought it best to keep this between themselves so he went to close their door. They seemed to understand as they cuddled on the bed. Eren’s voice was low, like he was making a confession, “Levi does it, too. We talk about it sometimes when it happens. I think Erwin is even worse about talking about it since he’s so used to being the positive leader type that protects everyone.” Armin snorted with a disdainful look on his face, “And Levi is more okay with it because he’s the brooding tragic renegade type?” Eren smiled slightly, “Yeah. It has a lot to do with personality.” Armin wrapped himself in a blanket, “What’s the worst he’s done?”

Eren cringed picking at the skin around his nails, “pulled a knife on me.” Armin’s eyes widened, “what?” Eren curled up on the other end of the couch, “Yeah, he was really upset one night so I tried to wake him up, which was stupid because he told me not to do that. The next thing I know I’m on my back, blade against my throat and he’s put such force down on one of my pressure points I was paralyzed, terrified, and started crying. That was the week I spent on the couch, remember? He was so upset I told him if it would make him feel better I’d sleep somewhere else.”
Armin laid his head on the back of the couch, “Erwin’s choked me, punched me in the ribs, he thrashes around, reaches for something.”
”It’s his gun.”
”How do you know?”
”Levi does it. He prefers to use a knife but keeps his gun in bottom drawer of the nightstand. Erwin keeps it in his underwear drawer.”
Guns made Armin a bit nervous, “Because of me?”
”Yeah, he knows that make you uneasy so he moved his. He contemplated putting it in Levi’s room or just leaving it in his car like normal.”
”Oh, Erwin…”
”Does he hold you close, trap you and not let you move?”
Armin shook his head no,”Does Levi?”
”Yeah, he literally cages me in his arms and if I try to get up to go to the bathroom or just leave for class he hold tighter and growls.”
Armin sighed, he understood. ”Erwin likes me to leave a note if I leave before he wakes up.” Armin tried to hear if Erwin was still upset in the other room but they were being too quiet.

Both boys sat on the couch watching the TV and comparing the habits of their lovers until they joined them. Levi looked at Eren motioning to him to scoot over as Erwin took a seat in the recliner, his face tired and swollen from crying. “I’m sorry I got so upset, Armin.” Armin turned to Erwin, “Its fine, I understand completely. I just don’t want you to think I’m naïve or unaware of what’s going on. I fully accepted that this is what it would be like being with you.” Erwin looked at him like he was an innocent child he had to tell bitter truths to, “But, Armin, it could get worse. I have to think about what life would be like for you if you didn’t have to deal with a boyfriend who has all of this baggage.” Armin laughed, frustrated, “You let me decide what’s too much. I’m not going anywhere. Unless…” Erwin grew worried, “Unless what?” Armin smiled playfully, “Unless you cheat. Then I’ll be what your nightmares are made of.” Eren cackled, “That is so true.”

Erwin attempted to smile, “I would never.” Levi placed his arm around Eren’s shoulders, “Let’s talk about Christmas plans. Two-tone and Mario, get out here!” Once everyone was in the living room Erwin and Levi asked what they were thinking about doing for Christmas. Levi would be celebrating Hanukah, of course, but his birthday was December 25th. Normally, both men would spend the day together since neither had any family to visit. That made Eren and Armin incredibly sad. Eren had held out hope that Levi’s mother was perhaps still alive or maybe there was someone else he was close to but it would seem that was not the case. Erwin and Levi would be at their house for break if any would like to stay with them and not return home for the entire month they had off.

Marco and Jean had considered spending Christmas apart, going home to their parents separately, but they didn’t really want to. Marco sent his dad a text and was surprised to find out that Jean’s mother and his father had decided to spend Christmas together and if they would like, they could come down and spend mass at Maria’s Catholic Church with them. Marco looked over to Jean. When Jean seemed perplexed by Marco’s face he slid the phone to him letting him read the conversation. “Are you fucking serious?” Jean exclaimed passing the phone back to a giggling Marco, “Oh God, we could become legally brothers one day if they keep moving this fast. Yuck.” Jean shuddered, “That’s some shit, Marco. I’m going to tell mom she can’t marry your dad. I can’t marry my brother and they’re almost moving in together from the sounds of it.”

Eren got off the couch coming over to Marco and Jean, “What’s on the phone? Who’s getting married? I wanna see.” Jean pushed Eren back, “Get away Jaeger it’s none of your business.” Eren and Jean started wrestling, “Is your mom with Marco’s dad now? Are you dating your future stepbrother? That’s so you, Jean. That’s so you.” Jean and Eren struggled onto the floor, “Shut up! You liked your adopted sister!” Eren’s face flushed, “I thought she WAS PRETTY, JEAN. AESTHETICALLY PLEASING TO MINE EYE! THERE IS A DIFFERENCE, HORSE FACE!” The two continued to bitch and wrestle as Levi opened another beer and Armin moved to sit in Erwin’s lap, affirming that Eren did at one time have a small crush on Mikasa. Jean proclaimed himself the winner as everyone settled back in.

Erwin turned to Armin, “What about you?” Armin remembered that Erwin had told his family he’d not be coming home, “Um well you told my family I wasn’t coming home so I guess that means I’ll be here,” he smiled wickedly, “with you.” Erwin chuckled as Levi perked up, “Sounds like something you’d say when you were mad.” His eyebrow rose, challenging Erwin, “Yes, I suppose I did say that when I was angry, because it seemed like your parents had no idea what was going on in your life and I just thought, well, that they wouldn’t care if you stayed with your rich sugar daddy in sin for a month and miss out on the Lord’s birthday. “Armin lost it, “They were more upset about it than you think, I can promise you. But, I didn’t know you were my sugar daddy.” Eren started laughing as Erwin blushed and Armin continued to tease. Levi cut his eyes over to him, “Why you laughin’ brat, I’m basically yours. You even work for me. It’s the very definition of sleeping your way to the top.” Eren stopped laughing as Jean and Marco joined in enjoying his pained reaction, “Hey! I had no idea you were rich when I met you, neither did I know you worked at the lab. If anything, you’ve cornered me into being your sugar baby by making it impossible for me to be anything else.” Eren smiled triumphantly as Levi’s cool gaze pinned him down where he sat, “touché.”

When Erwin and Armin went to bed that night Armin could tell he was still hesitant to fall asleep. He turned away from Armin facing the wall his bed was against. Sleeping in such a small bed left Armin no other choice than to press himself against Erwin, who was more half the width of the mattress itself. Erwin’s coolness put him off. He needed to do something. Armin pulled up Erwin’s shirt, kissing his back as he lifted till Erwin took it off completely. He continued to leave open mouth tender kisses on his warm skin pressing closer and closer against him.

He let his hand rub soothing circles over the top of Erwin’s exposed hipbone as his breath hitched and became irregular. He just wanted Erwin to relax, feel nice, and maybe get some restful sleep tonight. He grinded against him before letting his hand trail further down, palming him through the fabric of his sleeper pants. Erwin moaned lowly, needy, when he felt Armin’s hand touching him. He pressed into it, craving friction. He secretly enjoyed Armin taking control.

Armin rubbed, applying consistent pressure as Erwin continued to writhe against him. Precome soaked through his pants, the wetness hinted that it was time to pull his pants down and work his length freely. He worked the pants down with his hand, leaving Erwin whimpering from the lack of stimulation. Once his cock was freed, Armin went to stroking it in a leisurely manner. He slid his thumb over the slit, relishing the effect it had on Erwin. He shook from pleasure, hummed his satisfaction when Armin picked up the pace a bit, and moaned as Armin prevented him from coming by squeezing the base of his cock.

Armin tortured Erwin on and off for an hour till Erwin was completely wanton and begging. Armin decided it was time to let him come, picking up the pace and not stopping when Erwin’s started approaching his release. Erwin was on the edge; Armin twisted his wrist, pulling strongly as Erwin came all over his hand. A little got on the wall but Armin would clean that later. He continued to stoke him through his orgasm leaving kisses and hickys all along his shoulder blade. Erwin came down, exhausted and satisfied.

Armin got off the bed finding a washcloth to clean off the wall and Erwin. He cleaned him off, tucked him back in and rolled him over to face him. Armin crawled back into bed into Erwin’s arms. He kissed him chastely before snuggling back down, his head beneath Erwin’s chin. “Sweet dreams, daddy.” Erwin held him closer, “I love you, too, Armin. I didn’t say it back before, but I need you to know. I love you too.” Armin kissed his throat, “Good.”

Finals had everyone fretting. Armin had tried unsuccessfully to glean information from Erwin about their World History class and much to Levi and Eren’s amusement had turned studying into a type of war where sex was a weapon and Erwin was often caught off guard by sneak attacks and false acts of kindness. Levi told Eren he’d never seen Erwin happier nor with anyone that fit him so well. Eren felt the same way about Armin.

Eren’s school work was coming along nicely and that was good because true to their word, Hanji managed to get Eren a personal interview for this coming semester. If he made it that mean’s he would be able to shave an entire year off of his schooling, possibly more with the credits he was getting working with Hanji and Levi. Levi had surprised him by taking him to the dog park with Donner. Eren knew most would have not seen that as a celebratory outing but Levi knew Eren would rather spend a day running around with animals than a fancy dinner for something that hadn’t even happened yet. Now, if he got in, that would be a different story. Eren really hoped he would get in.

Marco had a few pieces published by the Maria Plainsman, Maria Times, Maria Weekly, and a poem in the Circle that Jean was sent a link to by Armin. Jean had never been more embarrassed and pleased by anything in his life. Marco dedicated it to him, stating that he was his muse. If only he knew about the countless paintings that Marco was the star of. Jean turned in his series of paintings for his Art Education class after a very confusing critique. His teachers mumbled odd comments here and there about similarities to other work. Jean hadn’t invented the idea of self portrait but he also hadn’t seen his interpretation anywhere before. While waiting outside for his final meeting with the council till next semester he grew more and more worried about their demeanors while judging his work. Once inside the office he was given a B overall. Jean was surprised at the grade; his face must have reflected it because the main teacher gave a brief yet pointed speech about raw talent and not letting yourself be influenced by those around you.

Jean found out later that they had viewed another student’s work before his that was similar. Therefore, they gave both a passing grade but not an A. They worried that they had simply been influenced by one another and there was no clear original of the two. Who else had done a series like he had? He didn’t have time to deal with that because a B was acceptable, if not a bit disappointing and a blow to his ego.

Finals week officially ended on the first day of Hanukah, December 6th. Levi woke up in his bed, thanked the Creator for returning his soul to his body as he did every morning, and washed his hands as was his usual routine before taking a moment to look at Eren. Eren was on stomach, drooling on one of the expensive throw pillows that weren’t meant for sleeping on and Levi couldn’t help but smile. He climbed back on the bed softly, tracing a line from the base of Eren’s spine up to neck. He ghosted his fingers over the fine features of his face, stroking his lips as Eren’s eyes fluttered open. He swooped in, kissing him softly, their breath mingling. Eren closed his eyes again. His voice was warm and sincere, “Chag Urim Sameach, Levi.” Levi’s heart felt like it would burst.

Erwin and Armin had spent the night in his room, the large bed welcome after so many nights on the tiny twin size bed. Erwin woke up, wiping the sleep from his eyes. He felt alone and slightly panicked. Trying not to overreact he rolled over onto his side seeing Armin curled into a tight ball surrounded by most of the comforter and pillows. He reached out rubbing Armin’s back making him uncurl, “Mmmm?” Erwin stoked the hair out of his face when he rolled his head over, “Why are you all the way over there?” Armin wrinkled his nose, yawning, “I was hot.” Erwin smiled, “Is that why you have all the cover?” Armin smirked, “’s mine. Don’t be greedy, daddy.” Erwin moved grabbing Armin pulling him into his arms, “I can’t help but be greedy, baby.” He kissed the top of Armin’s head, rubbing his arms and wrapping himself around Armin like a cocoon. Armin hummed in approval, “You slept good last night, daddy. Didn’t make a sound, nothin’.”

Erwin was surprised, “I didn’t?” Armin turned around in his arms, “Nope. Not a peep.” Erwin looked around the room, Armin’s bag in the corner, their books on the nightstand; he was wearing a large baby pink Tshirt, black briefs, and black fuzzy socks. Every day with Armin was something new. He came off at first glance as such a sweet cinnamon bun but he could be downright lethal when he needed to be or, as Erwin had come to notice, wanted to be. He enjoyed the verbal sparring between them, the long discussions and debates; he also enjoyed how sweet Armin was to him, how he went out of his way to get things that Erwin would like, and how he let Erwin take care of him. He treated Armin like a delicate flower, a jewel to be treasured. He was sure that anyone else would take offense at some of his behavior. They might actually think he saw them as weaker or less masculine. Not Armin, he trusted him to speak up if he ever felt like Erwin saw him like that. Until then, he’d continue to let Erwin spoil him rotten.

Erwin grew hungry laying there. Armin had fallen back asleep but he knew that he’d not stay asleep if he left him. Scooping Armin up in his arms and grabbing a throw blanket, he made his way down towards Levi’s room to check on him. He could hear someone moving near the door and when it opened Levi was standing there, clad in only a pair of grey sweatpants with a shirt in his pocket. Levi looked at Armin, nicking his head into his room. Erwin understood walking inside and placing Armin with Eren in the bed. Levi had started a fire in the fireplace and the room was nice and warm. Both men went down to the kitchen to start breakfast, their first morning in their home.

The next few days went by well, lighting candles, playing games, and eating great food. Mike and Hanji stopped by often, even if Levi and Hanji did disappear into his office most of the time. Mike was telling Erwin all about his thesis and asking if he’d like him to go with him to pick out some horses. Erwin told him that he would but it’d have to wait till the summer to actually bring them over since the barn needed to be repaired. Eren was excited about the possible addition of horses and was already working on Levi about a pig or two, much to Hanji’s glee and Levi’s horror. “Pigs, pigs eat people, Eren. They are unclean.” Eren pouted, “But the tiny piglets! Haven’t you seen those! I send you pictures of them all the time and they live in the house and wear clothes!” Levi steeled himself against the beautiful pleading viridian eyes, “Their flesh tastes the closest to our own. If we cooked one of them and then you we’d barely be able to tell the difference. No. We’re not getting any.” Hanji cackled, doubling over, “But, Levi! You could clean their sties to your heart’s content. Not to mention, how can you say no to him? Especially, since you two are a “we” now.” Levi flushed slightly, “Shut up, shitty glasses. Nobody has time for you.”

Erwin approached Armin playing a game of chess with Marco over by one of the window. Marco and Armin got along well; it didn’t surprise Erwin to see that his little genius had picked a fair opponent. “Do you own a tux, Armin?” Armin moved a pawn before asking for a break. “No, I don’t. Why?” Erwin sat down, glass of scotch in hand as Eren spun the dreidel “Nun! It landed on Nun! What do I get?” Levi’s lips quirked at the edges, his eyes gleamed with emotion that Erwin hadn’t seen in so long, “You get some gelt, brat. Like the other nights.” Eren gave a resounding cheer before Levi handed him a few chocolate coins. “Hey Levi,” Eren said munching away, mouth full of chocolate, “Yes, Eren?” Eren swallowed, “I thought some people gave gifts?” Levi shrugged, “Some do. It’s so close to Christmas that often people will give gifts to their younger kids so they don’t feel left out of the Christian holiday that’s shoved down their throats.” Eren smiled, “Oh well, I got you a gift.”

Erwin turned back to Armin, “Petra’s wedding is December 31st. I hope you don’t mind but I put you down as my plus one.” Armin smiled, “Why would I mind?” Erwin shrugged, “Well, we’d only been seeing each other for about two weeks.” Marco laughed, “Wow that’s gutsy.” Erwin winked, smug “I know, right?” Erwin and Marco high-fived as Armin rolled his eyes, “is Eren going with Levi?” Erwin made a face that said “I don’t know”, “I think so, but I’m not sure. Best let me ask Levi before you mention anything. I doubt he’d not ask him.”

Eren had disappeared upstairs while desert was pulled out and cooled. He appeared with a small box covered in gold leafing with red underneath. The bow on top was elaborate and gold as well. Levi took the small box, sliding the bow off carefully not to crumple it. When he opened the box he removed the red tissue paper finding another smaller amount in gold wrapped around something. He held the papered thing up as Eren petted Commander who had jumped on the ledge of the table in the island while Donner watched from the side. “Are you going to open it?” Levi started to unwrap the paper, revealing an ornate mezuzah that had the seal of the tribe of Levi on it. It came with a kosher scroll for blessing the house and the tribe’s depiction was from the famous Marc Chagall’s twelve stain glass windows. There were only a limited number of these mezuzahs available and Levi had come across an ad for them in a Jewish magazine in his Rabbi’s office. This must have cost Eren and fortune.

Eren waited anxiously for Levi to respond. Levi held the mezuzah in his hands gawking. “You didn’t have one for the front door. I thought maybe you might have one for your room but when I saw that you really didn’t have one I decided to get it for you for Hanukah. I know it’s not the most important holiday, since it’s not even in the Torah but it’s so close to Christmas and I’m in the gift getting habit this time of year.” Levi continued to stand motionless. How the fuck does he know all of that. How did he notice that? I can’t believe I forgot one for the house. Oh….Eren….I love you/. Erwin appeared, “Oh, Eren, this is such a nice gift. I can’t believe Levi didn’t have one already on the door.” He smiled patting Levi on the back, “Kid, this is…I don’t have the words. Thank you isn’t enough.” Eren leaned forward bringing Levi into a bear hug, “That’s great! I’m glad you liked it. Armin helped me track it down.” Armin sprung out of his seat making his way over quickly, “I only found where we could physically pick it up and inspect it. Eren did all the work. I truly cannot take credit for anything.” Levi smiled shyly, placing it in the box. He would need to buy nails for it. “Can we put it up now?” Eren asked excitedly. “No, let’s do it on New Years together. I need to buy nails for it.” Levi placed the box on the counter moving to cup Eren’s face in his hands, “Thank you.” He kissed Eren sweetly. When he pulled back Eren smiled the same lazy morning smile he gave him every day he woke up next to him before saying, “Toda.” Levi’s heart would never recover.

Christmas was upon them in just a few short weeks. Eren and Levi had fallen into a comfortable routine: wake up, go for a run, breakfast, shower, head to the lab, lunch, back to the lab, home, dinner, relax. On Wednesdays Eren would leave lab early to go to Montgomery for something for his father that he wasn’t too clear on the details with Levi with. He also started lighting the Shabbat candles with Levi on Fridays and Armin and Erwin joined them for a Shabbat dinner. Erwin told Eren that he knows Levi didn’t let it on, but he was thrilled that it wasn’t just him silently observing with Levi anymore. Armin asked questions and Levi seemed uncharacteristically talkative about any topic Armin threw at him.

Jean and Marco had been shopping and decorating with Erwin and Levi’s permission. Levi said he saw no reason in not getting a tree, he wasn’t going to cry over seeing Christmas decorations. Marco called it Levi’s birthday tree giving everyone a good laugh. Erwin and Levi went off a few times alone leading up to the day. Armin thought they were just doing some last minute shopping. He did see this as an opportunity to corner Eren and talk about his research.

He found Eren in Levi’s study on the rug reading about large animal anatomy. “Eren, can we talk?” Eren looked up from his book, “Yeah, wanna talk somewhere comfy?” Armin nodded watching Eren in his comfortablesweatpants and black hoodie spring from the floor putting the book back on the desk and leading them to Levi’s room. They climbed in the bed, Armin took off his house shoes before climbing in. He looked adorable today in his oversized whalesweater he bought at a thrift store with Erwin a few weeks ago. His navy tights were soft and insulated against the cold. Eren turned the TV on, falling in between the pillows. “You want to ask me about the research.” He stated with ease, they’d known each other far too long. Armin nodded, “Tell me if I’m wrong, but the serum you are using is Levi’s. It’s his creation that he ultimately hoped to use to increase blood clotting around wounds, thereby slowing the amount of blood lost in situations where getting to hospital on time wasn’t possible, and it bonded with and mutated the virus that was the focus of Hanji’s research.” Eren hummed, “Yep.” Armin continued, “And because that virus has the ability to become a hot virus, jump from species to species, it now is the target of the group that recruited Jeeter.” Eren rubbed his eye, sighing, “Yep.”

”Okay, so what we think is that Sunny and Bean were injected with the serum that has been injected into the other scientists. That’s why they act so strange. They act like they’re drunk but a little more violent. They had, we believe unbeknownst to the people who injected them, already in their system a virus that was rapidly mutating and is an enigma to us. We have no idea what the original virus was and we keep trying to figure it out but Sunny and Bean are our only test subjects and we can’t gain, nor risk, anything by infecting other rabbits because they would get the mutated and dangerous form of the virus now.” Eren laughed bitterly, “I try to build a time machine for Levi every day, it’s a joke, but it’s also not because we really need one to figure this out. Moreover, the rabbits display an increased ability to “self heal” and we know that’s a product of Levi’s serum after looking at blood samples. They still scar but not as bad. We don’t know what’s going on with that.”

Armin thought about what he was hearing, “And someone has done something?” Eren looked nervous, “Someone messed with out information and we’re worried they’re going to mess with Sunny and Bean so Hanji has them under surveillance 24/7. They wanted to bring them home but it’s too dangerous. The data was what was the most useful and now it’s gone.” Eren seemed deflated, “I’ve done my best to remember and write down what I could for Levi. He says I’ve done more than enough but the break-in happened on my time in the lab. I don’t understand how, though. I have no memory of anyone coming in out of the ordinary and I don’t want to point the finger at someone and them be innocent.” Armin laid down covering himself with the duvet, he heard what sounded like muffled footsteps coming down the hall, Erwin most likely, “If only we could catch Jeeter.” Eren sighed, “If only.”

Christmas Eve was a slow day. Jean and Marco were sleeping in late till their parents arrived; they’d be staying at a hotel even though Erwin extended one of his guest rooms. Marco was inquisitive, asking if they had arranged for two hotel rooms and his father said they had. Marco asked Jean if his mother had dated much. Jean told him his mother was very popular but it had seldom ever gone past the second date. Marco’s father, surprisingly, had never dated anyone after Marco’s mother. Though, he had flirted and had a few one night stands. Jean and Marco woke up in the nice guest room, curled around each other softly breathing and smiling at their first Christmas eve together.

For dinner everyone gathered at the house, Marco and Jean, Levi and Eren, Annie and Mikasa, Armin and Erwin, and Ms. Kirschstein and Mr. Bodt. They all ate till they felt they might explode and since it was tradition for the Kirschsteins and Bodts to give gifts on Christmas eve before midnight mass everyone else participated as well. Marco got Jean an entirely new water color set and a limited edition vinyl collection of Rammstein’s greatest hits. Jean gave Marco a pasta maker he’d seen him drooling over, he even pinned it on his “dream home” Pinterst board, and set of journals he could fill with as many words as his hands could write.

Armin was spoiled with books, clothes, and even more shocking a trip, if he accepted it, to Normandy. Erwin had been working on his own book for some time and received a grant to go to Normandy in the summer to get some primary sources. His expenses were paid for through the school for almost a month. Erwin thought that Armin might enjoy a historical vacation. Armin got Erwin books, a favorite hobby for both men, and tickets to an exhibit that was finally coming to the states for a short tour in Atlanta, and himself. Erwin chuckled at the bow Armin put on top of his head quietly promising to take him up his offer tonight.

Eren had already gotten Levi a gift for Hanukah but for Christmas he couldn’t resist taking advantage of the day being also his birthday. Eren got Levi a tea set from Turkey his mother helped him find by calling a few relatives. He also gave him a vintage signed Edith Piaf record and a film about her life that he wanted to see but was glad Levi had not seen it yet. Levi also showered Eren with an absurd amount of gifts that even left Erwin at a loss for words. Eren’s favorite was a pair of tickets to see Lana Del Rey in concert in Atlanta. Armin noted it was the same weekend of the exhibit and were already making plans to share hotel rooms.

Mikasa and Eren exchanged gifts that were more sentimental. She gave Eren a hand embroidered quilt with a forest motif. Levi and Erwin marveled at the stitching and the time put into it, noting that it was all done in hand and in a style that was dying out. She also gave him a letter but that was for private. Eren gave Mikasa a hand knitted red scarf with matching red leather gloves and a Japanese sword that was also a collectors. He’d had Erwin help him out with it as well. Annie and Mikasa had already decided to exchange gifts with Bert and Reiner at their house on Christmas day.

Armin moved to sit next to Erwin as Erwin handed Levi his gift. Levi unwrapped the briefcase seized package to reveal a rare hand gun and even rarer dagger. Levi’s eyes widened, “How did you find these two beautiful things?” Erwin chuckled, “I know collectors.” Levi laughed, “Well, thankfully I don’t feel so awkward about my gift to you now.” Levi disappeared into the kitchen, opening the two large doors to the walk in pantry, everyone could hear the rolling sound on the wooden floors but they didn’t know of what. Levi appeared in the living room pushing a wooden baby grand piano with a large red bow on it. “Now, you and I have no excuse. I demand a song every night.” Erwin jumped to his feet, “Oh Levi! You devil!”

They removed the bow placing it in the corner of the room. “Is it tuned?” Erwin sat down excitedly pulling up the cover to reveal the sparkling ivory keys. “Is this real ivory?” Eren wasn’t so sure he liked that. “It is but don’t worry, Eren, it’s an old piano I had restored, it survived a fire, and the keys are the original. This was before ivory was outlawed.” Erwin looked at Levi “I can’t believe you did this.” Levi put his hand on his shoulder, squeezing lightly, “Will you sing?”

Like mother like son, Armin thought as Erwin began to play and sing. He sang like a professional and seasoned opera star. His voice, a deep baritone, was transcendent, full, and haunting. Armin knew the song and lost himself along with everyone else in the room.

Leise flehen meine Lieder Durch die Nacht zu dir; In den stillen Hain hernieder, Liebchen, komm zu mir! Flüsternd schlanke Wipfel rauschen In des Mondes Licht; Des Verräters feindlich Lauschen Fürchte, Holde, nicht.

Erwin looked back at Levi smiling fully. He slid over allowing Levi to sit next to him. Levi’s hands hovered over the keys before deftly joining in with Erwin. Eren let out a shout of glee as Mr. Bodt and Ms. Kirschstein came over fully engrossed in the two men before them.

Hörst die Nachtigallen schlagen? Ach! sie flehen dich, Mit der Töne süßen Klagen Flehen sie für mich.

Erwin’s voice resounded in the room, echoing off the walls in a flourish of emotion. Armin came to his side so that he could see his face better. That glorious chiseld jaw, beautiful eyes, and slight stubble forming on his chin.

Sie verstehn des Busens Sehnen, Kennen Liebesschmerz, Rühren mit den Silbertönen Jedes weiche Herz.

His voice rung out „Jedes weiche Herz!“

Laß auch dir die Brust bewegen, Liebchen, höre mich! Bebend harr' ich dir entgegen! Komm, beglücke mich!

Everyone applauded at the end of the song. Erwin smiled modestly, hanging his head in delight and slight embarrassment as Levi moved to make another drink swatting away a clingy Eren who just wanted to praise him. Both men were talented, had their secrets, and both wanted to impress their young lovers. Mikasa and Annie decided it was time to leave when the others were leaving for mass. Midnight mass actually started around 11:30 pm in Maria and Jean’s mother wanted to get a good seat. Marco was just as enthused and Jean couldn’t believe he was basically dating his mother. They were all getting their coats on when they heard a few strange noises. Levi and Erwin looked up, brow furrowed as Ms. Kirschstein proclaimed loudly that Santa and his reindeer must be circling, waiting for everyone to go to sleep and is probably parked on the roof right now. Levi rolled his eyes, “Or, just maybe, the house is settling like old houses tend to do.” Ms. Kirschstein laughed, slapping Levi’s arm as Eren held his breath. Levi seemed shocked but then chuckled darkly and good-naturedly.

As they were leaving Levi saw them out. Mikasa turned back taking Levi aside on the porch while Annie waited on the steps looking out across the yard, “Levi, I wanted to tell you something.” Levi and Mikasa had a strange relationship. They didn’t dislike each other, that was most certainly not the case. But, they were very similar in their need for privacy and personal detachment from unnecessary things. They had the few people they cared about and that was all they needed. Mikasa and Levi sometimes got coffee together; they would sit in silence as they worked on their respective projects or talk about Eren. “Levi, I want to thank you for everything that you do for Eren, for how you take care of him, how you support him, and how you love him.” Her eyes began to water, “Levi, I realize I can’t always be the one who protects him. Did Eren ever tell you about how I came to be adopted?”

Levi shook his head no, “Well, in short, my parents were murdered. We lived in the country on a farm and my mother was pregnant. She’d been feeling strange and Dr. Jaeger was going to make a house call. He was my an old friend of my father’s. He feared it could be signs of a miscarriage and didn’t want her to have to drive all the way out to the hospital for potential bad news. While waiting for him to finish his shift and drive out to the farm three men showed up just before dinner, they wore masks and proceeded to terrorize us for hours. They tortured my father, killed him. Tortured my mother and killed her, too. They were going to kidnap me, do whatever it is they wanted to do. I fought for my life because I held out hope that Dr. Jaeger would get there and I thought he could maybe help my parents. Dr. Jaeger didn’t find me, Eren did and Eren killed two of those men singly handedly and I helped him kill the third. I have never forgotten that he saved me, saved my life. After it, his words, the way he treated me, that’s why I was able to move on from the horror of that day. I need you to promise me something.”

Levi couldn’t believe what he was hearing, “What is it?” Mikasa took his hand, her perfectly manicured rose colored nails smooth against the skin of his wrist, “Something is coming. Something isn’t right. Please, promise me you’ll take care of Eren. Promise that if I’m not here you’ll protect Eren. Please.” Her voice shook, her tears spilled over her cheeks like a waterfall. She was so insistent that Levi’s own emotions threatened to overtake him. “Mikasa, I love Eren and I will never let anything hurt him. I couldn’t live with it.” Mikasa grabbed his shoulders hugging him tightly as she tried to regain her self control. “Thank you, Levi” she whispered into his coat, “Thank you so much. I know you will.”

Mikasa pushed off wiping her face as Annie opened her arms to take her to the car. Annie’s eyes flicked to Levi’s, another kindred spirit. Levi walked back into the house finding Eren in the hallway. “You want to go upstairs and watch some TV together?” Levi tried his best to reconcile the young warm boy before him with a cold blooded killer of three. “I do.” Eren smiled calling Donner and racing him up the stairs. Levi would take cuddling over having that conversation tonight.

Erwin and Armin also went upstairs changing into their comfortable clothes. Armin was in the bathroom when Erwin decided to come back down and watch a documentary in the living room. He was sitting in the middle of one of the large plush white couches when Armin came bouncing down the hallway. “Found you.” He walked over to Erwin who was wearing a pair of thin cotton red and black plaid pajama bottoms and a white shirt. Armin had on powder blue short shorts and one of Erwin’s white t-shirts. His knee high powder blue socks had white bows printed on them. Erwin knew Armin was up to something so he continued to focus completely on the TV. He knew if ignored Armin long enough he’d be rewarded.

Armin sauntered over to him, crawling on the couch next to him, “Daddy, I’d like some attention.” Armin pouted. Erwin’s wicked grin spurred him. “What kind of attention?” Armin pressed against his side, “Special attention. I told you I was your present tonight.” Erwin’s mind caught up with him, remembering the special gifts Erwin had given Armin the day before. “Why don’t you lay across daddy’s lap?” Armin crawled his way over Erwin, resting himself stomach down over his lap. Erwin’s hand stroked up and down his back and then the back of his thighs. He pulled down the small shorts, down almost to his knees revealing the shiny top of a pink bejeweled butt plug. Erwin’s hand kneaded his cheek while he continued to watch his show, his thumb stroked the smooth jewel, gently pushing and prodding. “Remote?” Armin handed Erwin a small pink remote.

Erwin set the remote on the lowest setting, still rubbing the soft flesh of his buttocks and thighs. Armin moaned slightly as his thumb moved the plug ever so often. Erwin never played with him long enough to give him satisfaction. He was anxious for Erwin’s documentary to end and him take him. He couldn’t say that he hadn’t been feeling little sexually frustrated since Erwin and Levi had been so occupied lately.

Nearing the end of the special Armin could hear bare feet on the wooden floor. Levi appeared at the opening of the hall from the kitchen with a glass of water. He looked over noting what was going on but continued towards the French doors at the back checking that each one was locked. “Is that a vibrating plug?” He asked Erwin pausing to look in mild interest at Armin’s exposed buttocks, “It is.” Levi continued to stare while Armin couldn’t help but feel equal parts embarrassment and arousal. “I’ve been thinking about getting one for Eren. I like the top.”Erwin paused the documentary, “Oh then you should get him one like this. They had a lot of colors.” Levi took a sip of water, “Shades of colors?” Erwin nodded, “yep.” Levi then turned and left leaving Erwin and Armin on the couch to finish the documentary.

Armin and Erwin made their way upstairs where Armin was already too aroused for any further foreplay. Erwin turned him on his stomach. He pulled the toy out, fingering Armin for a few seconds. Armin writhed around begging for Erwin to fuck him, quick and hard, just the way Armin liked it. Erwin took off his shirt and pants sliding his cock in smoothly as Armin’s eye rolled back. His pace was brutal but welcome and their finish was explosive. Boneless and incredibly warm, for Armin had come to love the feeling of being filled so fully by Erwin, Armin and Erwin drifted into a wonderfully deep sleep.

Levi had fallen asleep before Eren and he could do anything too sexy, which was fine for Eren. He knew something was bothering him after his conversation with Mikasa but he didn’t want to press it. He decided to go and get his book from the study and read a bit before he turned in completely. He looked over Levi’s sleeping face, so serene. He leaned down brushing his hair out of his eyes kissing his temple before whispering,

“In the name of Adonai the God of Israel: May the angel Michael be at my right, and the angel Gabriel be at my left; and in front of me the angel Uriel, and behind me the angel Raphael... and above my head the Sh'khinah “

Eren left making his way down the hall after closing the door to Levi’s room. He entered the study locating his book on the table where he left it the other day. Eren turned around, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. He looked around, the small lamp light on. Levi always left lights around the house on. He hated the dark. Secretly, Eren was thankful. The darkness terrified him so much he didn’t like tell people because they often thought it was funny or tried to force him to overcome a fear that lived so deeply in him it was in his bones. He noted a black smudge by the table.

Following the smudge across the rug and towards the fire place he made a perplexing discovery. The house had many fireplaces, all in working or near working condition. Levi’s study, though, had yet to be fully cleaned and cleared. This was soot and it was everywhere around the fireplace. Eren’s senses were screaming that it didn’t make sense. He was brought back, back to the day he had that same sense of overwhelming foreboding, the day he found Mikasa. Behind him he heard a satisfied exhale of breath, “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas.” Everything went black.

Chapter Text

It was cold, damp, and he was in so much physical pain his mind was torn between blacking out again and embracing a world of agony. He fought for the agony. He needed to stay awake. He couldn’t see anything, causing him to cry out and panic more. Every passing second increasing the level of panic.

Eren felt for whatever was holding him down, ripping and tearing at it and the flesh it restricted. He was manic, the only thing present was his need to get away from wherever he was. Finally, snapping echoed through whatever room he must be in made of stone. Rolling onto the hard floor he pushed off blindly searching for anywhere other than where he was. Stones, grassy straw, dirt, and Eren was then outside. The moon only a half but bright enough for his eyes to make out some shapes roughly.

Eren was running but his leg didn’t feel right and his arm swung in odd ways. All he heard were branches snapping, roots tripping him, he could hear himself muttering like a mantra, “fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck,” as he tried to figure out where he was. He appeared in the clearing of one of the pastures by the house near the front. He could see cars in the driveway, see the house. Levi was screaming for him, “Eren! EREN! EREN WHERE ARE YOU EREN PLEASE WHERE ARE YOU EREN!?” Eren couldn’t see him, couldn’t find him. He ran inside the house not knowing if that was the right decision.

Jean and Marco had come home before Armin and Erwin had gone upstairs. Both were tired from a long Mass and wanted nothing more than to wrap up together under the duvet and sleep. Jean had been prescribed muscle relaxers after straining his back during finals. He took one, drank the rest of his water bottle as Marco changed into his sleeper shirt and some pants. They normally slept in their underwear but the cold weather had made them want to start dressing more warmly for bed. Marco crawled in the bed laying his head down while Jean checked his emails, “Jean?” Jean hummed, “I love you. Is it too soon to say that?” Jean put his phone away immediately, “No, because I’ve been nervous about saying it and I’m so glad you said first. I love you too, Marco.” Jean started singing ”You light up my life.” Marco grinned shyly, hiding his face in his hand and pillow. “Babe, you’re so cute, kiss me.” Jean leaned over, lips puckered, and waited for Marco to remove his hand. They kissed passionately before settling down. Marco turned off the light rolling over to lay next to the man he loved.

Through a haze of sleep inducing muscle relaxers Jean felt like something was wrong. In his dream he could hear sounds, like mad whispers, and muffled cries. There were loud sounds, soft sounds, all of them present in his dream but he just couldn’t wake up. That was his curse when it came to muscle relaxers. He never could take them the day before anything pressing because he would sleep right through. He also was prone to lucid dreams and anything he tried to do to wake himself up would just manifest in the dream frustratingly. Finally, Jean awoke to an empty bed, upset beyond comprehension. The tension of the room hung over him, weighing him down with its queerness. He felt like every nerve in his body on fire, alive with fear. He fell out of the bed, searching for Marco.

Where was he? He wouldn’t have left. He always slept through the night. Jean ran out of the room into the hallway, he stopped when he saw in large letters on the wall across from his door, “He sees you when you’re sleeping.” Jean pissed himself, understanding overwhelming him. He started down the hall, the first he would pass was Levi’s room. He slammed to a stop noticing above the door in blood, “he knows if you’ve been bad or good.”

Beating on the door before bursting through it he found Levi springing out of the bed. A knife lodged into the wall by Jean’s head, barely missing him. “MARCO! EREN! HE HAS THEM!” Jean was sobbing. His speech was broken but the look of sheer terror that overcame Levi’s features as he looked around at the empty room. Donner was growling. He barked viciously before running out into the hallway. They heard shouting from Erwin’s room, Jean left Levi, running into the hall. Erwin was limping out, covered in blood. His arm clutching at something stuck in his side. His movements were strange, like he too was drugged. Jean moved forward but Erwin pushed him away, “Armin! Please! Go, go get him!” Jean rushed down the stairs sliding, slipping and falling down at the foot.

Jean knew he might have fractured something and his head pounded after bouncing off the bottom step. Jean couldn’t hear anything but Levi’s screams. They echoed through the hollow house, so desperate and mimicking his own for Marco. Where was Marco? Why did that bastard take him and not Jean!? Jean tried to think of where he should start looking. He kept scrambling around till he was outside.

There was an out building, not belonging to the property but to the state. It was like an island in Levi and Erwin’s property. It was caddy corner to the back porch and at least 100 yards away. Jean’s stomach tightened, he saw the blood all over the back porch. He didn’t know how but he knew this was Armin’s struggle. It was tenacious, the blood all over in tiny droplets like a brush spun out of paint. Splatters told him a story, but he didn’t have time to read them. He ran outside across the yard, past the covered pool, and straight to the strange stone building that was used to house equipment for the power company.

Jean couldn’t open the door, its hinges were rusted. He kept pulling and pulling until he noticed and ax for splitting fire wood. He picked the ax up, making swift work of the door by sheer luck and adrenaline. His common sense should have told him that if the hinges were rusted shut then Marco probably wasn’t there but he couldn’t rule it out. He got the door open; splinters embedded themselves in his skin and face. He took a brief survey of the room, a wood stove, equipment that hadn’t been used since at least the 60s. He left out the door feeling lost and hopeless. Then, he heard something, it sounded like a moan.

Jean ran around the building till he found a cellar door, nay a storm shelter. It was so dark he couldn’t be sure what he was really looking at. It had been opened, the dirt chipped away at as if it had opened recently. Its corners dug into the ground. Jean ripped the doors open, he saw a flight of stairs and he took them into the blackness. There was a dim glow from emergency lights, a pale red that gave everything a zombie game experience and made him feel even more afraid. When he got to the bottom he ran past racks of old equipment and canned foods. This must have been also intended as a bunker for war or nuclear holocaust, whatever the people who built it feared. He opened another door, beds. Another door lead him to the most frightening sight he could have ever imagined.

Jeeter was standing over Marco. Marco was covered in blood and he was struggling against the straps on his wrists and feet. Jeeter had him laying on a table, a bag of medical utensils rolled out. “Hey Jean, so glad you could join us.” Jean was frozen, Jeeter had a scalpel, he traced the skin of Marco’s body with it, pausing to nick here and there while Marco’s eyes blazed, not with fear as Jean would have expected, but anger. “I was supposed to bring you down here but Marco volunteered to come. Let’s make this a bonding experience.” Jean’s stomach turned, of course, of course Marco would have protected him. He had to save Marco.

Jean moved forward hearing the sound of pooled water as he stepped around the room trying to get closer to Jeeter, “I would stay right where you are if I was you.” Jean stopped, “Jeeter, let Marco go. Take me instead. Take me please…” Jeeter shook his head, “put down the ax, Jean.” Jean still had the ax. He had one shot at getting Jeeter to drop the scalpel and leave Marco alone. Jean used to throw darts and had thrown around the ax a few times with Mikasa. He was a good shot. “Jeeter, please let Marco get off the table and leave. I’ll stay. I promise.” Jeeter seemed to contemplate his offer. “Drop the ax and kick it out the door and we can talk.” Jeeter pulled his arm up higher scalpel still too close for Jean’s comfort but he had to take the opportunity. He felt a sense of divine Providence as he remember Levi telling him a line that the Holocaust survivors in his community used to tell the young,The first chance is the only chance you’ll get.

He threw the ax, launched it right at his wrist. It hit its mark slicing deep into the flesh. The scalpel dropped but Jeeter was too quick, he had a gun and Jean was weaponless. He must have had it on him. Jean watched as Jeeter’s deformed hand moved, getting more blood onto Marco. “Jean, I wish you hadn’t done that. I wish you hadn’t. I love you, Jean. You love me, Jean. You love me, don’t you?” Jean didn’t know what to say, he was still so close to Marco. Jeeter turned the barrel on to Marco, “YES! Yes, I love you, Jeeter, I want to be with you.” Jeeter turned his face back to Jean, he looked so hurt, “Then why did you tell him you loved him?” Jean’s throat dried up, he was spinning, “I-I” Jeeter put the gun in his pocket squatting down, to gather a gallon jug. “It’s okay, Jean. We can all be together now.” Jean couldn’t react fast enough before Jeeter poured the entire jug on himself and Marco. Lighting the liquid, Jean realized the room had been doused before he entered. He walked in to a trap.

Time stood still, like the first few seconds before a car crash. It seemed that as fast as it had slowed down time was then hurling Jean into the moment. Without thinking, he flung himself on the table where Marco was thrashing out of his binds as best he could. If Marco was going to die, he would die with him. The flames were hot, spreading, seconds were precious and time was a cruel master. He grabbed Marco, who screamed in terror and pain. Their lungs hurt, the fire burned up the oxygen in the room. He pulled them into the bedroom bunk finding an old fire extinguisher. He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t feel, all he could do was pull and soon it was all white. He felt for Marco, spurred on by the need to survive. Pulling Marco up along with him to the stairs and outside, Jean prayed that Marco would be okay. They landed on the grass with a thud. Marco was gasping and clutching his face. Jean was terrified. He wanted to get them up, get them back to the house but they were so tired for some reason. Levi, Levi could help them, oh God why?

Jean stood up leaning over Marco and pulling him up. Marco’s legs gave out. He whimpered and Jean couldn’t bear him sounding so weak, “It’s okay. I love you, Marco. Marco we gotta go.” Marco cried out again hiding his face from Jean, when he heard the awful noise of someone coming up the stairs behind them. Emerging from the ground was a terrifying sight of a mangled burned body, a real life animated corpse. Jean’s eyes filled with tears as Jeeter held up his gun, his croaking voice born of fire and soot fell out of a severely damaged mouth, “Jean. Come….with me.” Jean braced himself for the pain when he heard the gun shot.

He heard the shot, he felt nothing. This must be what it’s like to die. Levi told Jean once, who’d always had a fear of drowning, that when you drown you don’t actually feel any pain. Instead, your body if overcome in a sort of euphoria. Jean didn’t feel euphoric, he felt pain. He opened his eyes to see a crumpled Jeeter on the floor, shot right through his right eye.

When he turned around a soaking wet Armin was standing behind him, pistol held high. His shirt and shorts were soaked with water and blood. He had a head wound, the blood traveled down his face like war paint and Jean had never been in so much awe, fear, relief, or as in inspired by what he saw. Armin looked him in the eye, “Marco is burned, you are burned. We have to get to the house. You cannot freak out. It will make it worse.” Jean nodded, picking Marco up into his arms and running with Armin back to the house.

Back at the house the sirens could already be heard approaching. Armin struggled as he tried to open the door for Jean. He was right on his heels and Armin took a brief second to look around, look at where he’d fought and broken free. White hot fear coursed through him at the thought. Inside Levi could be heard, his voice foreign, not like his own but still his. “You’re going to be alright, Eren. Just stay calm. You’re going to be alright.” Jean started towards the sound of his voice, until Marco started seizing uncontrollably. “No, no, no, no Marco! Marco!”

Armin had reached his threshold for feeling. He dropped to his knees, held Marco’s head and neck still and called for Levi. Levi couldn’t come or wouldn’t come but the ambulance was there, he just hoped they’d get to Marco in time. If only he’d got him closer to the door. If only this had never happened. Jean must have reached the threshold, too. He wasn’t crying, he was doing anything but focusing on Marco. Both barely registered the EMT appearing at their side, only coming back to consciousness when they moved Marco. Jean wanted to go with them and the young man looked at him, “Of course you’re coming! You’re burned too! Everyone get in the ambulances!”

Chapter Text

At the hospital Armin was checked out for harm and trauma. He was allowed to wait in the waiting room with Mr. Bodt and Ms. Kirschstein after they decided his injuries weren’t serious but he still had to be kept the night for surveillance. They were visibly upset but Armin couldn’t help but marvel at the way they were holding it together. Mr. Bodt had come later than Ms. Kirschstein, he went to the house himself. Armin didn’t remark on the miniscule droplets of blood right below his jaw, on the collar of his rumpled button up shirt, nor the slight spray on his fingers and knuckles. Instead, Armin vowed to use his new powers of extreme observation and deduction for good. He smiled despite the circumstances.

Erwin appeared in a wheelchair, obviously ignoring the wishes of his nurse. “Armin.” His eyes were blood shot, his face swollen from a punch, “Armin, baby, look at you.” Armin looked at Erwin, “What do you mean?” Ms. Kirschstein lay a hand on Armin, “Sweetie, you look horrible. Didn’t you notice the people moving away from you when we sat down?” Her face was compassionate as Armin stood up looking for a window or something reflective. He found a snack machine. Looking at himself made things even realer and far worse for his mental state.

His white shirt of Erwin’s was soaking wet and almost completely stained with blood; his shorts, torn, muddy, and stained were no longer blue but some sort of rust color that made the paleness of his skin even more stark in comparison. He had bruises purple, black, blue all over his exposed skin. It looked like someone had held him down and just wailed on him. One could see whole hand prints on his throat and thighs. His face still covered in blood had been photographed by the doctors and police officers. He felt around his head, finding the cut and a small section where his hair had been pulled out at the root when attempting to get away. Erwin rolled over to him, “Baby, I’m so sorry. I couldn’t-“ Armin fainted.

Levi was in his own personal hell after finding Eren like he did. Eren’s right arm was barely hanging on, his left leg nearly cut off at the knee. How he had made his way back in the house was beyond comprehension. That sheer will and strong headedness that was so characteristically Eren was all he could think of. His face had been cut, just below his cheek bones. Levi couldn’t remember if he had just imagined that he could see his teeth through the cuts.

Eren had lost so much blood. He had found him at the foot of the steps trying to climb them but completely collapsed and convulsing. He looked at Levi, his face in shock, “Levi.” That’s all Levi remembered before he dropped to his knees trying to find some way to stop the bleeding. He spoke to him, trying to have him hold a conversation with him to keep him conscious. “I love you, Eren. Did I ever tell you that? Did I ever tell you how much I love you? How your smile is the best thing to wake up to, how your voice is loveliest sound I’ve ever heard, and your eyes….your eyes are the most beautiful color I have ever seen and there is not equivalent. I’ve checked.” Eren gurgled a laugh his voice was so hoarse; “I’m bad off, aren’t I?” Levi panicked, “No, it’s going to be fine.” The same gurgling noise happened again, “Levi.” Levi couldn’t see anything but the obvious signs of torture on Eren’s skin, that same smooth tan skin he’d kissed these past few months. How many times had he had an opportunity to kiss him and not done so? Such a waste of time it was not to kiss him, he thought as he heard Armin call out to him. He knew it was wrong but he couldn’t leave Eren there. He promised. He had promised Mikasa and his legs wouldn’t have let him leave if he wanted to.

Now he was outside the operating room waiting for a nurse, or any one for that matter, to tell him what was to become of Eren. Donner had stayed by his side after Levi found Eren. The entire time he searched for Eren on his own while Levi tried to take care of Erwin. It was like he too was in shock. For him to not have woken Levi, it didn’t make any sense. Had he tried and Levi was just too tired, the bed too high? It wasn’t Donner’s fault, it wasn’t anyone’s but his. They both heard the noise from Erwin’s room but that was nothing new. How did they get Eren away from him? He always held him tight against him, protecting him like a human shield.

Mikasa appeared at the end of the hall. He heard her strangled cry, “Le-e-e-vi” she fell down on the white tiled floor sobbing; Annie, Reiner, and Bertolt were behind her, their faces pained. “What’s wrong with Eren!?” She wailed from the floor. Her mouth hung open as she gripped her sides doubling over. Levi was choked up, all he could manage was “Who called you?” She curled up on the floor, her mouth still open in a silent cry, a shell of the person she had been while unwrapping presents just hours ago, “Ms. Ki-i-irrrschtein…said Eren…was…..attacked…?!” Eren hadn’t been attacked, he’d been mutilated. How was he going to tell her that?

Levi and Mikasa sat together as the doctor delivered the harsh news. Eren’s leg and arm were amputated; there was nothing they could do to save the limbs. He had various strange cuts and punctures over his heart, forearm, and neck. His body and tragically his face would be disgustingly scared. They had cut high, following the line that was the bottom of his cheek bone from above where his lips ended to where his ears began. It would take rows of stitches and a long time till he could talk again but they worried about the damage his muscles has incurred. There was a chance that the muscles would never fully recover.

Due to the amount of blood he lost and the precarious state his organs were in, it was very likely he’d not survive. They gave him just a 10% chance for tonight and tomorrow it would only be 15%. They advised them contact relatives and a priest for final rights if that was something they wished. Mikasa cried against Levi’s shoulder. She didn’t want to call her parents yet, not while she was so upset. Levi held Mikasa against him rocking back and forth as Donner nipped at his ankles warning him that he was soon going to break.

Erwin sat with Armin as the police took their statements. They had already given short ones to the doctors but this was the first time two of the victims could be brought together and correlate. He sat on a towel, still unable to change. Erwin’s face had swollen fully, his eye closed over and blue. The detective sat down, “Let’s start with you Mr. Smith, what happened?” Erwin closed his eyes, “It was about 12:45 when we came upstairs to get ready and go to bed. We fell asleep. The next thing I know, I felt a sharp pain in my side and then another and another. My arms were ripped up and tied to the bed post. I felt the sting of being stabbed again in the neck and I looked over to see Armin already gone. I managed to kick the person who had tied me up, but I started blacking out. They must have drugged me. They were coming back in the room looking around like they were looking for something and I started struggling again. When I finally got my hands free they stabbed me in the leg. They kept grabbing my left arm, I have issues with it after an injury, and pinning it down. That let them get in as many punches as they did until I found my belt on the floor. I managed to overtake them and strangled them dead. When I finished, I moved to find Amrin.”

”When I came into the hall Jean was there. I could barely walk, drugged as I was, and I was bleeding out. I thought they hit an artery. I told Jean to find Armin as I slumped to the floor. Levi was hysterical as Donner, Levi’s service dog, found me. He stayed till Levi appeared. He started pointing at the wall and I saw in bloody letters, “He knows if you’re awake.” Jeeter, the stalker we filed complaints on and who is the ultimate culprit behind this, had left a picture at the scene of his last crime that was of Eren, Armin, and Jean. They each wore sweaters with a line from the song. I started to pass out. Levi bandaged me; he was shaking and calling for Eren. He moved me into the hall closet to hide me as Donner searched for Eren. Levi left me a knife and told me to be quiet. I waited in the closet listening as Levi yelled and searched for Eren in the house. It seemed like time was moving so slowly, just like when I was overseas in the middle of a bad raid. I just wanted Armin.”

Erwin took a moment to compose himself. He reached over taking Armin’s hand in his own. Both of their palms were cut and scratched from self defense. He took a deep breath steeling himself to continue, “I heard the front door slam open and the most horrific cry. The voice sounded coarse, like blood was trapped in its throat. I heard Levi run down the stairs. He kept crying out, “Eren! Eren!” I heard a thud, a body hit the floor followed by another and then it began.” Erwin lost himself. He sat quietly until the detective prompted him, “What started?” Erwin blinked, tears spilling over and down his face, even his swollen eye let tears escape, “Levi and Eren started talking about how he was dying. Eren would ask him if he was dying and Levi would deny it. I could tell from his tone he was lying to him, I’ve known him for so long. It broke my heart to hear Eren trying to actually comfort Levi when it started getting worse.” Erwin started to get very emotional, “And all I could think was fuck, I’m stuck here and I can’t do anything and Armin is out there and I can’t help him and I’ve failed.” Armin held his hand tighter until he calmed down, “And so I tried to go to Levi and help in any way that I could. I crawled down the stairs, but I couldn’t make it all the way. Shortly after, I started to lose consciousness again. Levi turned to me, told me to lay down on the stairs and wait for help. He kept applying pressure to Eren’s body, it was horrible. I’ll never forget how he looked but I heard Armin, I heard Armin calling for Levi and then Jean. Jean was sobbing. I passed out. I don’t remember much after that other than waking up in the ambulance and asking for Armin.”

Armin stared at Erwin’s crumpled form. He’d not heard anything about Eren. His friend, his best friend, could be dead. “Mr. Arlert, what is your side of the story?” Armin’s mind was swimming, he wanted to find out if Eren was okay but in order to do that he had to get this over with and quickly. “I woke up because I heard something in what I thought was Levi’s study. I don’t know why, but I wanted to go check it out. Erwin and Levi often cry out or make noise when they sleep and it sometimes makes me wake up. Recently, I actually sense it before it happens and wake up first but this feeling wasn’t the one I normally got. Anyway, I went out to Levi’s study expecting to find him and then go back to bed .When I walked into the room I was hit on the head. When I came to, I was being drug onto the back porch. All I knew was I was being taken somewhere and being taken by someone I did not know against my will and I just…”

Armin didn’t know how to explain it. He didn’t know how to put it into words. “You just what, Mr. Arlert?” Armin keep searching for the words until he just gave up, saying exactly the first thing that came to him mind, “I just refused to die.” Armin shrugged his shoulders, “I knew he was going to kill me. I felt it in my bones. I knew that if I let him take me somewhere, if I gave him the upper hand then I was going to die. I refused to die, so I tore at him, bit him, scratched him, kicked him, everything. Every bit of self defense and countless years of rough housing with Jean and Eren all culminated into me ripping this guy a new asshole and making it as undesirable as possible to take me with him. He wore a mask and dark clothes. I kicked down on his leg finally breaking free. It was then I noticed he had gun. When he regained his balance I was already running. A bullet whizzed by, he had a silencer on but it hit the lantern on the post by the edge of the patio shattering everywhere. I ran out wide making a type of semi circle where I planned to lead him out into and then double back behind him. He ran out after me till he got to the post. He started searching meticulously, not falling into my trap the way I wanted and that’s when I saw two others appear. They had me on all sides. It was so dark but I could hear them. I knew I was defenseless against three of them and I had no weapon.” The detective broke in, “There were three total?” Armin nodded, “Yeah, all in dark clothes and masked.” Armin paused to drink some water while his body started shaking. The detective tapped his book with his pen, ”What did you do? You must have been cornered and there wasn’t anywhere else to go?”

Erwin seemed to have fallen into a sort of stunned trance as the detective waited with baited breath, “I got in the pool.” Erwin gasped as the detective’s hand still, he looked at Armin, noting how soaking wet he was and then understanding dawned, “It’s below freezing, Mr. Arlert.” He said in awe. Armin shook his head, “Yeah and there was ice under the cover. I managed to pull part of the cover back since there was already a tear in it; I got in as quietly as I could and put it back, stuffing the edge of the plastic under the thin rubber stopper of the lining itself. I couldn’t stay near the surface because the water was low and the sagging in the tarp would have given me away if I tried to move away from the wall. I couldn’t stay exactly where I tore it in case they saw it somehow and pulled it back. I hugged the wall going to the opposite end and then I went under and held my breath.” The detective’s eyes widened, “How long?” Armin shrugged, “I can hold my breath for about a minute 30 and I came up four times, barely letting my lips break the surface. Once I was sure they were gone, or rather hoped that they were, I crawled out. It was so hard to not make noise and I was shaking so badly from cold, but I got out and crawled on my hands and knees keeping as close to the ground as possible. Before I got back in the house, I heard someone come off the back porch and start running. I laid there, pretending to be dead, until they passed. I figured out it was Jean when I heard him step on the broken glass cursing.”

”Once inside I remembered that Erwin had gotten Levi a gun for Christmas. I took a chance that he would have also bought amo since it was a rare gun and Erwin is a planner. I was right. A luger that loaded from the top, I thanked my lucky stars. I knew that Jean had run off the porch heading somewhere so I looked out and saw that power station or whatever it was and I just started running there. I couldn’t figure out where those men were and Levi was yelling so loudly I thought they might be in the house trying to get to him because he was so loud and that wouldn’t be safe. I was just confused but trying to think about things rationally. I crouched down when I saw the door had been smashed and I started crawling again. I was about ten feet away from where Jean and Marco emerged when I stopped crawling. I was about to stand when I saw another figure coming out of the ground. Jean and Marco were crying and that, person, that thing, said “Jean, come with me” and I knew it was Jeeter. He was burned all over his body but I wanted to him to live long enough for us to get some answers, something. But then he had a gun and he was going to shoot Jean so I shot him. There was no other alternative. I couldn’t risk Jean’s life.”

The detective nodded asking, “About where did you shoot him?” Armin didn’t have to hesitate, “Right through his right eye.” Erwin was floored, “You shot him?” Armin turned to him, “I don’t like guns, but I know how to use them and I’m a damn good shot. I shot him like I would a deer or any other animal. If fire didn’t kill him I would.” Armin’s tone was matter-of-fact and for the first time Erwin caught a true glimpse of just what Armin was capable of. He was both terrified and amazed.

Eren’s stats were changing by the minute. He had a fever so high that they decided to put him on ice to try and lower it. His chances of survival had now dropped to a dismal three percent. Marco wasn’t in any better of a situation. His entire right side was burned so badly that it had started to cave in. He’d lost his eye, his organs were shutting down one right after the other, and he was at risk for a major infection due to the nature of his wounds. They moved him to a special room where they continued to monitor him. They told Mr. Bodt that his son would more than likely perish in the night and that might be the kindest thing for him. He wailed punching the wall and fracturing his hand.

Jean had second degree burns on his hands and arms, his feet were also burned with cuts due to glass. The splinters lodged in his face and arms were painstakingly removed so as not to infect his burned skin. Jean was sedated after hearing that Marco was going to more than likely die in a few hours. His world had faded out as the words tumbled forth from the doctors mouth while Ms. Kirschstein silently cried next to her burned son. He had given his statement to the police. He’d done all that was asked of him. But, what he didn’t expect was for them to come back and tell him Eren was going to die, too. No, that was beyond comprehension.

He found Levi and Mikasa against the wall out of the way of the main waiting room. Both were starring at the floor with hollowed eyes; neither moved when he came over to sit down next to them. Eren was always going to be the three year old boy in blue and yellow swim trunks who wanted to play in the creek with him. The five year old who asked him to ride four-wheeler’s with him. The eight year old rival for everyone at school’s attention and best friend to curl up next to on the floor after school to watch Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and then Bill Nye the Science Guy with. He was the ten year old who in scouts didn’t really excel at one thing but was the most determined and ended up winning the most merit badges. He was the thirteen year old soccer rival that he got in a fight with over their mutual best friend. He was the cute fifteen year old with long legs, tan skin, green eyes and a tendency to speak Turkish when angry who approached him one day, confessing his interest in him, and led him to the bedroom where they began a whirlwind romance that burned brightly until it burned itself out eight months later at a Dippin’ Dots stand in Fort. Walton. Eren was love, Eren was home, Eren was like Jean’s brother and a part of Jean’s own soul. It’d be like losing Armin. What would Armin do when he found out? Jean just let the drugs do their job and he slumped over on the bench till Mikasa’s hand found his.

The Jaeger’s arrived at the hospital just after dawn. Carla Jaeger took hold of Mikasa as Dr. Jaeger stood like he didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t the doctor delivering bad news to patients. This was him and everything they told him made sense to some degree but was completely outrageous on the other. Grisha continued to stand for some time until Levi stood, swaying from his own impending attack. Grisha looked at Levi, mouth parted and helpless when Levi took his hand leading him back to the bench. They sat down together, Grisha asked a few questions. Levi’s answers were sufficient enough for him and he kept a hold on his hand. “What does your God tell us to do in times like this?” he asked, truly sincere. Levi turned to him, “We have the same God, Dr. Jaeger.” Levi’s monotone voice stretched before them. He turned to him, eyes wide and bloodshot. Grisha felt for the first time the weight of just how cruel he’d been to this man when he came to visit them, this man who clearly loved his son a lot more than he had thought. Levi whispered, his accent thicker than he remembered, “Pray. Pray and if death comes, for it shall come to us all, then we say Kaddish.” Grisha nodded and mumbled, “Not too different from us. Is the Kaddish a song?” Levi shrugged, “A prayer and there are a few songs. I would sing for Eren. I would want his soul to be sung into Olam Ha-Ba. But, I also want to pretend that I don’t understand what they are telling me right now and just ignorantly hope for the best. You want the same thing, I can tell.” Grisha smiled slightly, “I do. But you might want to say that Kaddish anyway since it's likely Eren could be passing right now.” Dr. Jaeger's eyes began to water as Levi's beautiful voice began to fill the room. He was the son of Paris' most beloved Jewish female kantor after all.


Yeetgadal v' yeetkadash sh'mey rabbah.
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified
B'almah dee v'rah kheer'utey
in the world that He created as He willed.
v' yamleekh malkhutei,b'chahyeykhohn, uv' yohmeykhohn,
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,
uv'chahyei d'chohl beyt yisrael,
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,
ba'agalah u'veez'man kareev, v'eemru: Amein.
swiftly and soon. Amen.
Y'hey sh'met rabbah m'varach l'alam u'l'almey almahyah.
May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.
Yeet'barakh, v' yeesh'tabach, v' yeetpa'ar, v' yeetrohmam, v' yeet'nasei,
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
v' yeet'hadar, v' yeet'aleh, v' yeet'halal sh'mey d'kudshah b'reekh hoo
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He
L'eylah meen kohl beerkhatah v'sheeratah,
beyond any blessing and song,
toosh'b'chatah v'nechematah, da'ameeran b'al'mah, v'eemru: Amein
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Amen.
Y'hei shlamah rabbah meen sh'mahyah,v'chahyeem
May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life
aleynu v'al kohl yisrael, v'eemru: Amein
upon us and upon all Israel. Amen.
Oseh shalom beem'roh'mahv, hoo ya'aseh shalom,
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,
aleynu v'al kohl yisrael v'eemru: Amein
upon us and upon all Israel. Amen.

The group was reunited in the waiting room, Erwin rolled in as Carla and Ms. Kirschstein were talking, they paused looking at the state he was in. But what brought a gasp from everyone was the way Armin looked. The hospital was going to find him something to change in to and the police wanted his clothes. Levi opened his mouth before thinking, “Why are you wet?” Armin’s eyes were tired. Levi saw in him what he saw in his own mirror every morning when he replied, “I got in the pool.” Levi didn’t understand, “Why?” Armin shrugged, “It was there and I had no choice. I refused to die easily.” Levi nodded in understanding. “Damn.”

Chapter Text

Nothing made sense anymore as they were all brought into the doctor’s office to hear about Eren and Marco’s conditions. They had been kept in the dark for days even after the threat of legal persecution on behalf of the Jaegers and Erwin and Levi. It seemed that what little information that did get was grim and vague. Jean’s mother had told Jean she overheard nurses talking about trying to save Marco’s organs for transfer. Mr. Bodt had been furious at the news and Levi kept disappearing back to the house searching for where Eren had been taken. The doctor sat down behind the large oak desk. His room was tidy, small but comfortable. He was a decorated war veteran with photos from his various tours on the walls. The Gulf Wars were present in headlines of news articles he had pinned to the cork board in the corner. He spoke to Levi more than anyone, believing Levi to be Eren’s husband, a miscommunication born of Levi’s desperation to ride with Eren in the ambulance.

”Listen” he began taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose, “you’ve seen a lot of messed up stuff, haven’t you kid?” Levi nodded. “Well, I got here a damn mind boggling one that has left me and my staff in shock. I’ve had to remove people from the team and everyone else has signed privacy statements I had legally drawn up, I’ll get to y’all with that paperwork don’t worry. But, I’m trying to prevent a riot or worse with this information.” Levi was shaking, “Is Eren dead? I just...” Dr. Jaeger and Mrs. Jaeger each sat on either side of Mikasa. Mikasa was an empty shell. She’d spent more time with Levi these past few days than with them just sitting and staring at the wall while he was racked with attack after attack. Donner wouldn’t leave his side. When Levi and Erwin had been able to talk it was about either the clean-up at the house or Armin. Erwin was worried about Armin, who had regressed into this non-feeling almost sociopathic disposition at the news.

The doctor cleared his throat, “They grew back.” He just held his hands up in a “what else can I say” type of way and leaned back in his chair. “He’s got a new leg and a new arm. He’s also almost completely healed, his face is almost scar-less in fact his skin forced the stitches out causing us to keep re-stitching until we finally noticed what was going on. His punctured lungs are healed and he’s off the ventilator. His kidneys are working and the results are gunna come in in a bit but I’m sure they’re going to be fine. He still has this high fever and we’ve been monitoring his brain for signs of damage but he’s awake and talking. He’s just so hot, it’s insane. Body temp is showing 114.7.”

Levi didn’t even have time to care about all of that. “I don’t care about any of that shit, tell me straight, is he going to return to his life physically okay?” The doctor nodded in consent, “He should be able to go home at the end of the week if his temp goes down. Well, if it even can.” Levi felt a hot wave of feeling flash over him before he reached for the waist basket and threw up what little he’d eaten in these past three days.

”What about Marco?” Jean’s voice was small. Mr. Bodt was next to him, holding on to Marco’s watch. His world was very dark and Jean’s mother had comforted him best she could. There was no way they were going to get such good news from the doctor about him. “Umm well, that’s interesting. He’s probably going to be the same way.” Jean just stared, “What?” His voice still small but his trademark bite seeped in. He thought it cruel to lead someone on like that. “His burns were beyond our capabilities so we were focused on maintaining him long enough to recover his organs for donation. But, just when we had given up hope, everything internal has returned to almost new, the sagging is fixed, his broken ribs returned to their original state, and the skin looks good as new. We still thought his face would be beyond reparation but his eye just appeared before I came inside. It took a much longer time to re-grow than Eren’s limbs. We think the damage he suffered was greater and therefore, it had more to do inside preventing him from dying of organ failure and infection than re-growing his eye and face.”

Jean sat completely still as he thought about what had been said to them all. No one in the room moved or made any noise until Armin burst into loud manic laughter. He was smiling while gripping the patent leather arms of the chair. His normally lively blue eyes were watery, bloodshot, and his pupils were blown wide. He rocked back and forth as Erwin moved to grab a hold him. Everyone was too disturbed by the display to do anything. The doctor looked more perplexed than upset by Armin’s behavior, “What’s…what’s so funny, boy?” Armin started shrieking convulsing as Erwin fully pulled him over into his lap. His grandfather had come down after the Jaegers and the man looked truly horrified by what was going on. “We need to sedate him.” Erwin held Armin too him, cooing softly trying to soothe the crumpled mess of a boy in his arms as a nurse appeared, syringe in hand and ready to administer a sedative.

The rest of the group started breaking down in their own ways. Levi cried silently along with Mikasa, the Jaegers sobbed openly with Marco’s father, Jean was still in a sort of stunned state where he believed that any second now it was all going to just be a dream. Erwin held Armin in his arms, his face grim. Jean found his legs, standing up shakily from his chair. His mother reached out to help him stay balanced as he went over to where Erwin’s wheelchair had been placed. Armin’s grandfather moved over as Jean crouched down onto the floor. He moved to touch Armin’s arm.

With tear streaked cheeks and a shaking lip, he turned his face to Jean, “Arm” his voice soft, “it’s bad right now, and this is cliché as hell, but you know and I know that it’s going to get better. We’re actually all okay right now. In fact, you, Erwin, and I, we’re the unlucky fucks and we’re the only ones worse for wear.” Jean laughed quietly still rubbing soothing circles on Armin’s back, “My God, Jean…I know that’s true but do you really not understand what happened?”

Jean’s brow furrowed, “I ain’t as smart as you so I probably missed whatever you’re talkin’ about.” Armin looked around the room before returning to Jean, “I don’t think I can just spell it out.” Levi vomited again before standing up, Donner was trying to pull him to lie on the floor, “Oh, oh, oh, no. No, no, no, no...” Levi’s breathing erratic. His entire body went limp as he leaned against the wall. His eyes closed tight, hand rubbing along his stomach in an attempt to be soothing as he tried breathing correctly. “Nooooo” he released every so often with a gust of air, “No, HaShem. Why?”

The doctor pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “I feel like I’m a third wheel to this conversation. Are you implying to know what is causing this miracle to happen? If so, do I want to know?” Levi’s head rolled back to rest on the wall as Donner laid against him, “You don’t want to know but you need to know. We need to speak privately. You should call your legal counsel.” The doctor nodded searching for paper work as the unusually silent Jaegers finally reacted, “What are you talking about?” Carla demanded turning to Levi and clutching Mikasa’s hand, “What happened to my son!?’ Levi sunk to the floor, how was he ever going to protect Eren now?

Erwin was Levi’s legal counsel as usual and once Hanji arrived they didn’t see the need in hiring anyone else. Hanji had, for all intensive purposes, the information the doctor needed and he had his legal contracts amended to meet the needs of the situation. In order to keep Eren and Marco safe as they still healed, there were no visitors or communication allowed until their release date on December 31st. It was just where they were being released to that was the question.

The house had been cleaned from top to bottom; the only sign of entry was the fire place in Levi’s study. Jeeter must have come down it and then unlocked the doors at the back. Levi and Erwin had neglected to have the security system turned on since crime in the town was almost nonexistent and they were not yet living full time in the house. Once, they realized this they had the service turned on and Levi was already contacting contractors about a panic room. There was nothing they could do but try and plan for the future, even if that meant reselling the house. Levi would not make Eren stay somewhere he didn’t feel comfortable.

When Eren was released his parent’s were there, hugging him and crying. They begged him to come home with him as Mikasa simply stood to the side wide eyed and stunned that he was really there. All the thoughts of what he would look like, live like, be like were in contrast to the boy before her right now trying to calm his parents. He asked where they were staying and they told him at the hotel near the mall. He understood where that was and asked how long they’d be staying. His mother said she didn’t know because they had expected a different outcome. She wanted him to come home with them but he shook his head, embracing her before looking to Mikasa, “Momma, Dad, I’m staying here. It’s going to fine. We’re fine and we’re safe now.” Mikasa smiled softly as he took her hand, “I’ve got Mika and Levi with me. You don’t have to worry. It’s all going to alright.”

Erwin had Armin come with him to the house, his grandfather had to go back to their hometown and he left Erwin not only with a seal of approval but the responsibility of taking care of Armin. Erwin didn’t mind but he was still concerned with the change he’d seen in Armin’s behavior recently. “Armin, we have the police report but we were going to give the news to everyone when we all got together.” Armin didn’t re-act. “Baby.” Erwin cooed, moving the hair out of his eyes. Armin looked up at him, lips making a thin line. “Erwin, I just want to go to bed.” Erwin huffed, “Well, we can go back to the hotel and take a nap.” Armin shook his head, “No, I want…I want to go to bed in our bed. I just want to see Eren and Marco and I want us all to just…go to bed…in our bed.” Armin’s face was so serious; he bit his lip in concentration as if debating to go on. Erwin was momentarily stunned before chuckling, “You want’em all in our bed. Every one of ‘em.” He became more tickled by the visual as Armin’s brow furrowed, “Because then we’d all be together” he continued as Erwin just kept laughing. Tears were spilling over his lashes as he wiped his face that was red as a tomato, “Baby, I get it. I promise I get it.” Armin studied his face before mumbling, “You’re not acting like it.”

Marco was released to his father who was moved to tears again. He held his son close to his heart mumbling in Italian. Marco was just as emotional as he held onto him like a child who’d spent his first week at summer camp away from his home. Jean’s mother wiped her eyes as she held Jean back from rushing Marco. He was still bandaged and his feet were painfully sore from the broken glass and burns. Marco turned to find Jean he held out his arm for him as Marco’s father held his out to Jean’s mother. They all embraced, a type of family in their own way, before heading to the car to go to Levi and Erwin’s house. Marco took Jean’s face in his hands kissing him passionately once they got in the car, “I’m so glad to see your beautiful face.” Jean covered his hands with his own, “me too.”

Carla and Grisha decided to go to the house with Eren, still hesitant to leave their son. Mikasa held Eren’s hand the short drive over, “Eren, I-“ Eren cut her off, “I love you, Mikasa. I love you so very much and it’s all going to be fine.” Mikasa smiled, tearing up, “Are you going to be able to go back to the house?” Eren smiled, “Yeah, of course. The way I look at it is, that’s where we survived and that’s where we got the upper hand.” Mikasa didn’t understand but his confidence made her feel better about returning as well. Eren wanted to see Levi and the others. He also wanted to hurry up and get things back to the way they were. Ideally, he’d like to fall asleep next to Levi in their warm bed all over again but wake up to the smell of him cooking matzo balls, which Eren had developed quiet the penchant for, and Armin and Erwin arguing over the Bolsheviks till Erwin kissed Armin breathless.

Once at the house Eren sprung from the car, dragging Mikasa with him. Inside he actively forced out the visions of that night, instead he searched for Levi. Mikasa broke free. If he could have seen her there, standing in the foyer, her face flushed, her eyes smiling, her lips parted and the way she clutched the red scarf he made her, then he would have caught a glimpse of the true unconditional love she felt for him, they both felt for each other. Eren climbed the staircase and bounded down the hall to Levi’s room. When he opened the door, he saw Levi sitting in one of the plush chairs, head resting against the back of cushion, and a near empty bottle of Jack Daniels on the side table. “Levi!” he cried rushing to the chair and crawling into his lap.

Levi regarded the boy in his lap with suspicion, “Eren?” Eren took Levi’s hand kissing it, “Yes, sir. It’s me.” Levi shook as he wept, cradling Eren’s face in his hands. Eren nuzzled his hands, “I’m home, Levi.” Levi touched his face, looking for any sign of the deformities he saw that night, “take your clothes off. Please, I can’t believe it.” Eren shook his head in understanding. Standing up he took off his shirt and pants leaving him only in his boxers. “I’m fine, Levi. See?” His voice was soft, like he trying to coax a kitten from underneath the sofa. Levi reached out his hands roamed his skin where he had seen only wounds nearly six days ago. “Eren, I’m so sorry.” Eren stepped forward running his hands through Levi’s hair, pulling him back, “You’re why I’m alive.” He swooped down kissing Levi as his hands continued to roam across the tanned skin.

Once they all gathered in the living room Levi and Erwin produced the police reports. “Everyone by now knows that Jeeter was behind the assault,” Erwin’s voice was fit for more of a court room than a living room, “But he wasn’t working alone.” This was new news to the Jaegers, Marco, and Eren. None had been allowed to share their testimony with each other, other than Erwin and Armin since they were the only two victims affected by the same attack able to talk. Not to mention, Levi and Erwin had a gag order served to everyone after the shocking revelation that Armin had brought to light. They still couldn’t discuss that with the Jaegers, Ms. Kirschtein, and Mr. Bodt. “When the police arrived on the scene and took survey they found Jeeter on the ground 135 yards away from the back porch on Alabama Power’s property. The equipment house was once a storage shed and bunker. We had no idea when we bought the property because that technically doesn’t belong to us, though they morally should have made us aware.”

”His body was burned but the cause of death was a single gunshot wound through the right eye. Armin did that. Eren was held and tortured in the second barn on the property. We were going to have it demolished and renovate the other one but it was closer to the actual house and we held off till doing it. They put him in the wine cellar in the bottom of the barn. Eren’s blood was all over the area and leading to the house. We found it the next day when Levi and I went tracking with the police. That means someone hit Eren in the head in Levi’s study, pulled him out of the house to the barn and started torturing him while he was still unconscious. There were signs he’d been strapped down to a work table, bits of tissues and skin were left from where he ripped himself off of it. Armin must have been taken after the others were let into the house and this person had already left with Eren. We think that at least two people came down into the fire place.” Levi coughed, getting up to take some more anti-anxiety pills. He was having a hard time with this as it was without thinking about how two people shimmied down a tight shaft into his office. He would have it sealed off.

”At the scene, six bodies were found including Jeeter. All are being investigated.” Erwin closed the file. “The police believed that Armin was in a state of shock and survival and he killed these other five people.” Carla Jaeger interjected, “You think he had a break in reality and just forgot he killed them?” No, not my baby, not my little love who wears oversized sweaters with kittens on them, not the boy who plays with Commander every night before bed, not my rival when it comes to controversial historical topics, no. I don’t think he killed five extra men and just forgot about it. Erwin’s lips formed a thin line before he began, “The time of death falls into the window of when the attacks began and before the police showed up. Only the emergency team came when we first called. On other side of town the police had been called to a domestic disturbance. Armin says he didn’t shoot anyone other than Jeeter…but the shots were fired by the Luger and the amo is missing.” Erwin patted Armin’s knee. Armin stared at the cup of coffee Erwin had made him that sat on the coffee table. Mrs. Jaeger cleared her throat, “Well, I suppose it would be possible then.” Erwin shot her a disbelieving glance and then surveyed the room. No one seemed particularly shocked. “Does anyone here think that this seems like something Armin would be capable of? Killing six people and not remembering.” Jean leaned back in his chair, “Honestly Erwin, Yeah. Armin is scrappy. He’s cut throat when he needs to be.” The tension increased until Jean looked Erwin right in the eyes, “But, he’d remember. Armin will always be gold in my book. So, I think this is bullshit and the cops just can’t explain what happened.” Eren snorted, “I don’t know. I think the answer is pretty simple. Someone came back or was waiting to take them out after they finished the job. Probably regardless of if they were successful or not.” Armin let out a little laugh, “I know I would. Two can keep a secret,” Eren finished, “If one’s dead.”

Levi and Erwin exchanged glances, “You two are…terrifying.” Levi’s voice was cool. “I think that’s the pot calling the kettle black.” Armin said to Levi, cutting eyes at Marco and Mr. Bodt. “I do think they were killed to prevent them from doing anything further, more than likely to prevent them from saying anything further.”

Erwin broke in, “At least this nightmare is over. I am terribly sorry that your holidays were ruined Mr and Mrs. Jaeger, Ms. Kirschstein, and Mr. Bodt. At least you can all sleep well now knowing that everything is fine and everyone is safe and healed or healing.” Ms. Kirschstein smiled, “Yes, I agree. Erwin you are a fine man. It’s a pity that Levi’s and your home was the scene of such a grievous crime but now you can make new memories and we can all move on to better things. I hope to be invited back for another fabulous party and show.” The rest of group agreed and they all fell into conversation that lasted till late in the evening.

The Jaegers needed to return home to take care of business at the hospital but Carla begged Eren to come with them. Once it had been made explicitly clear he would not be going back with her she told him how much she loved him and spent time with just Mikasa and Eren in the formal sitting room. Levi gave them their space as did Erwin. Erwin knew something was going on with Armin.

He had reached his limit, pulling him into the powder room with him. “Armin, I have to talk to you.” He gripped Armin’s shoulders tightly, “Are you okay? Are you seriously okay? You’ve been so distant lately and I’m worried about how this has affected you. The best thing to do is to talk about it. Would you like to see someone professionally?” Armin’s hands came up to Erwin’s own, his eyes sympathetic and more like they were before the incident. “Oh, Erwin.” His voice was soft, “I’m sorry. I’ve been…thinking.” Erwin was puzzled, “Thinking?” his voice a whisper now, too. “Yeah,” Erwin shook his head. He didn’t understand. Armin stroked his face, fingers ghosted over his lips as Erwin started to tear up. Armin gasped, “Oh, daddy. I’m so sorry. Jean and Eren knew, knew it from the moment this all happened. I killed someone. I mean, I have to think about why. I have to think about why this happened and who did what and stuff like that. I gotta think about it all and figure it all out. When I do, I tend to become really cold and detached. I’m sorry. I’ve mistreated you in a way. I should have explained.”

Erwin sat down on the toilet. “You’re just thinking…” He said the words, turning them over in his mouth. “What have you figured out, baby?” He said exasperated as Armin crouched down before him. “Let’s go in the living room and you’ll find out. Tonight, Erwin, tonight I’m all yours. Just have faith in me a little longer. Trust me.” Erwin did trust Armin. He loved him and he was terrified of what he was going to tell them.

Armin and Erwin entered the living room after the Jaegers left. Mikasa had decided to go lay down, calling Annie to come over to the house and get her. Armin moved quickly, “Could you all come sit down again. I think it’s best if Mikasa just stays upstairs so don’t bother going to get her.” Everyone sat anxiously awaiting whatever Armin had to say, “Mr. Bodt,” he paused until Marco’s father’s eyes met his, “You know what I’m about to ask.” Mr. Bodt nodded, “I do.” Armin shifted, “You killed the others before you came to the hospital but I need to know where you found them? Were they doing anything out of the ordinary?” The room was silent before Mr. Bodt answered. “Talking. I came in through the front door and saw the gun on the floor Erwin gave to Levi. I used my handkerchief,” he pulled a red handkerchief from his inside pocket where he also kept his rosary that he’d used in the hospital to pray for Marco, “to pick it up, went to the porch, saw them standing around arguing and talking animatedly. I tried to understand what they were saying but I didn’t speak the language. I was enraged and I shot them all.”

Armin slid a coaster to him and put a pen down, “Write what it sounded like. Write what you think they said or heard. Try to be phonetically explicit.” Marco’s father sighed taking the pen and rolling his shoulder, “I heard two of them yelling “Aasef” and then something like “Lah ref”?” Levi took the coaster penning in under the second word “La a’ref” before tossing it to Erwin. Erwin picked the coaster up, his lips pressed together, brow furrowed, and skin pale. “Well, this is bad.” Armin turned to him, “What does it mean?” Levi slung his arm on the back of the couch behind Eren. “Aasef is “sorry” in Arabic and “La a’ref” is “I don’t know.” Armin rubbed the back of his neck and shoulders, “This…has to do with not only the research you’ve been doing but your lawsuit with the military. I would bet money on it. These people, they have other motives than just aiding in a stalking mass murder or whatever. Right now, Eren and Marco hold the key to your research; Sonny and Bean are no longer going to be the targets. I never asked about the details of the lawsuit and right now I don’t think it’s the time or place. I also don’t think I have to worry about going to jail for killing anyone since the police ruled it all as self defense which means Marco’s father is in the clear and I’m just a killer on record.” Armin paused inhaling and then exhaling, “God, I’m so tired of thinking.”

Eren moved, “I have something to add but it’s strange.” Armin perked up, “What?” Eren moved his hands down his legs gripping his knees as Levi pulled him closer. “It’s about Jeeter and Jean. Do you think Jean reminded Jeeter of someone and that’s what led to his obsession? Do you think…” Eren stopped turning to Marco, “Marco who injected you?” Marco’s eyes widened, “Can we…talk…about that?” Erwin nodded, “Go ahead, I was more worried about the Jaegers getting involved but it would seem Mr. Bodt is now fully invested and Ms. Kirschstein, well, her face told me she already knew he killed them. We cannot, Mr. Bodt and Ms. Kirschstein, discuss our research in question with you. Please don’t ask us to.” Ms. Kirschstein crossed her legs, “Sweetheart, I think Mr. Bodt and I are following just fine without your explanations.” Levi turned to look at her in all her French glory, all she needed was a lit cigarette and pill box hat. Levi decided that Ms. Kirschstein was his kind of woman.

Eren pressed, “Marco?” Marco shook his head, “No, in fact the one who did got in trouble. He kept saying, “Not him! Not him!”” I know he wanted to do it to Jean. He did have a slight accent when the guy replied “it doesn’t matter which one.”” Eren took Levi’s hand in his tracing patterns, “Do you think Jean reminded Jeeter of someone he loved who died? Do you think he was a soldier?” The room had never felt so vast as Erwin considered that possibility. “Because, maybe, that explains why he had…an inclination for being around or dealing with corpses. Maybe he wanted to make sure Jean couldn’t die from wounds or something…symbolic like that. I think the fire was a last resort. Because how could we heal if we were completely incinerated?” Eren kissed Levi’s hand. Erwin had started massaging Armin’s shoulder while he listened. He stopped when Armin straightened up. ”If he was a soldier…Eren, thank you. I can work with that.” And then Armin smiled, for the first time he felt and looked like his old self. Erwin was so relieved.

After the meeting they ordered take out and ate with Mikasa and Annie before she departed. It was only about 9:00 pm but the day had been tiring. Deciding it was best to call it a night they all retired. Mr. Bodt and Ms. Kirschstein left for the hotel as Marco and Jean climbed into their bed. Jean had expected to feel overwhelmed but instead he thought back to Marco laying on the pillow beside him, blushing and covering his face after he told him he loved him. Marco hummed his trademark Italian tune as he moved the pillows to the floor. “Jean, I love you. Please don’t be mad at me.” Jean was feigned shocked, “M-mad? I’m not mad.” Marco gave him an incredulous look. “Well, I am a little. Why did you go, Marco? You shouldn’t have gone.”

Marco smiled, “I was honestly just pissed off. I tend to get tunnel vision like my dad.” Jean was curious, “what happened?” Marco shrugged, “When they stabbed me with that needle I got a little fuzzy. Once he had me in the cellar I got my chance to fight back. I stabbed him with one of his tools and I almost got free. I was pretty tore up and the effects of the serum were taking over but I was going to get free. It wasn’t until he started talking about you that I got enraged and went back. I just wanted to kill him. I wanted to kill him dead so he could never hurt you. I started passing out and he put me on the table.” Marco smiled, “But, it’s all good now. I’m here, you’re here and he’s dead.”

Jean snorted, “I think my honesty is rubbing off on you.” Marco smiled, “Do you wanna mess around?” He raised his eyebrows suggestively, “Unless you’re not feeling up to it. I’d just like to you know, be close to you.” Jean removed his shirt standing in only his red briefs. “I am always up for you.” He winked as Marco burst into laughter. “Just try to be gentle with me. I’m lucky that they lowered my burns down to only first degree and I’m doing pretty well healing.” Marco removed his clothes before getting into the bed, “Don’t worry, I’ll be real careful.” Marco’s smile gleamed as Jean opened the bedside drawer blushing.

Jean laid down as Marco moved between his legs him. His hands pulled down Jean’s briefs as he kissed down his chest. Marco took Jean’s cock in his mouth, sucking on it as it hardened. Jean leaned back allowing his head to roll to the side so he could watch as Marco bobbed on and off. He kept his eyes open, gazing at Jean seductively as he coated him with his saliva. When Marco bobbed off with a pop he coated his fingers with lube bringing them to Jean’s entrance. He suckled on Jean’s head, dipping his tongue in the slit as he stretched him, pulling moans from Jean as he scissored him open.

Marco was very well endowed. Jean tightened up at the intrusion of his cock but Marco had stretched him well. Once fully sheathed inside he gave Jean a moment to adjust. Jean let out a shaky breath, “God, Marco.” He moved his hips a bit bringing his hand down to his lower stomach, “You’re so fucking big, Marco. I think I can feel you through stomach.” Marco chuckled, “Wow that sure does flatter my ego, Jean,” Marco kissed Jean hotly before pushing forward just a bit. He tore his lips off of Jean’s, his voice low and rough, “You’re not so small either.” His hand moved to Jean’s cock stroking it. Jean rocked back on to Marco slowly and blushing, “Damn, Marco. You can move if you want…” Marco kissed Jean rocking into him. His hands skimmed his body as he thrusted deeper into Jean, stroking him with his hand in time.

Jean was lost in the beauty that was Marco. His face, lips, freckles, everything. It was all so beautiful to him. He felt his body come alive as Marco started hitting his prostate. Marco’s mouth was parted, his breath coming in and out in huff as he committed wholeheartedly in making Jean feel good. Jean gripped Marco as best he could without causing more pain to his hands. Marco kissed Jean and soon they were fighting for dominance. Jean won, his tongue searching out every part of Marco, Marco the beautiful and strong Mafioso’s son who saved his life and who makes every moment wonderful. Marco, the man who’s skin was speckled with the tears of angels and Marco, the most sensual creature that ever made by the hand of God.

Jean and Marco continued to rock together till they came. Jean’s moans were a chorus of love to Marco. Marco’s head slumped forward on Jean’s chest. They stayed together until Marco moved to roll over. When Jean opened his eyes he saw Marco smiling that same goofy smile, “Why you smilin’ babe?” Marco looked into Jean’s eyes, “Because I am just so happy to be here with you. Now, let’s go to sleep.” Jean laughed cuddling up with Marco. “One day, Marco. I promise you, one day your smile with hang in a gallery.”

Levi went into the bathroom drawing a bath. He filled the water up high in the massive tub and added some bath salts. Eren had removed his shirt looking through his things in the closet. “Eren, do you want to take a bath with me?” Eren heard the want in Levi’s voice, “Yeah, I’ll be there in a sec.” He grabbed his sleeping clothes and laid them on the bed before entering the bathroom. Levi was already in the tub, his head against the rim of the tub, eyes closed. Eren thought for once he looked his age.

Eren stripped stepping into the tub. Before he could sit at the opposite end Levi opened his eyes. His voice was commanding but loving, “No, come sit with me.” Eren sat between Levi’s legs resting against his chest. His head fell back on Levi’s shoulder where Levi’s lips found his. It was a slow kiss, intense and full of things unsaid. Levi wrapped his arms around Eren, pulling him closer. Eren whimpered as Levi bit his lip. His hands roamed Eren’s stomach and sides. A hand tweaked his left nipple making him moan wantonly. Eren was fully and painfully aroused when Levi turned the faucet on to warm the water. He returned to his teasing, one hand stroking Eren beneath the water. Every time Eren got close he would stop or grab the base preventing him from finding release.

Eren had been on the edge for a while before he opened his eyes to see Levi’s own. They were focused on his body and thus Eren finally had the chance to look at them uninterrupted. They were gun metal grey with flecks of cool blue and gold; the slight golden bits looked like the leafing on a Klimt. Levi was so handsome, more so than Klimt could ever hope to capture. Eren closed his eyes as Levi worked him further, “Levi?” Levi’s hand stilled, “Yes?” Eren opened his eyes finding Levi staring at him, “I want to come.” Levi smirked, “alright.” He turned away when Eren mumbled, “will you choke me…kind of?” Levi froze, “what?” Eren grinned, “Yeah, I know, it’s weird. But I like it. You don’t have to…just thought I’d ask.” Levi still didn’t move.

Eren closed his eyes accepting he’d killed the mood when Levi spoke, his voice small, “are you sure? I don’t want to hurt you.” Eren looked to find Levi utterly torn. “Yeah, I don’t want anything too hard. I just kind of like it sometimes.” Levi seemed comforted by that, his hand came up to Eren’s neck, careful just to constrict the air flow and not crush or damage his windpipe. Levi found it ironic he was being asked to choke someone for pleasure and not self defense. Eren bucked when he started cutting off his airflow, clearly enjoying it. Levi continued to stroke him watching his face as Eren’s viridian eyes watered but stayed locked on his. They were glazed over with lust. Levi felt himself become more and more aroused at the small choking noises and moans Eren made. He licked his lips maintaining eye contact with Eren. It was too much for Eren. His body jerked, hips raised off the porcelain tub. Levi clenched harder stroking him as Eren came in the water.

He relaxed his hold as Eren gasped for breath. His body shook with after waves of pleasure as he fell back against Levi’s chest. He whimpered sagging against Levi. Levi stroked his hair kissing his forehead. He let the water drain out and used the hand held showerhead option to rinse them off. Levi carried Eren out of the tub, sitting him on the counter to dry him off before they both got dressed for bed. Eren gave Donner a pat on the head, the fire burned low in the fireplace, and Levi locked the door before they got under the covers together. Eren moved into Levi’s arms kissing along his collar bone and up his neck. “I love you, Levi. Thank you.” Levi rubbed Eren’s back, “Never leave me.”

Erwin joined Armin who was already in the bed after they each took showers and brushed their teeth. Armin normally blow dried his hair but tonight he towel dried while Erwin showered. Erwin had stepped out of the shower while Armin whistled suggestively. He kissed him asking if he needed help changing his bandages but Erwin sent him on his way, wrapping new gauze on his leg and chest. When he entered the room, Armin had wrapped himself in the duvet surrounded by a fort of pillows. Erwin chuckled pulling away the pillows, “Baby, I can’t see you.” Armin curled tighter, “I’m just happy to be back home.” Erwin’s heart tingled every time Armin called the house home. He was glad that Armin was so attached. He was hopeless when it came to him and this attack had scared him that Armin would never feel safe or worse leave. He pulled Armin out from beneath the covers kissing him.

Armin and Erwin laid down facing each other, pulling the duvet and sheets over them to keep them warm. Erwin’s hands roamed over Armin as he snuggled closer to him, “How did you figure it all out, baby? How did you know?” He whispered across Armin’s exposed collar bone as he rubbed his lips across the skin. “Your arm” Armin squirmed as Erwin began to suckle and nibble, “You said the guy kept grabbing your arm and pinning it down. I thought, how strange to grab that arm when you’d be on the right side of the bed that night. We fell asleep before moving to our preferred sides. And then I started thinking, what if the group involved was also involved with whatever happened overseas with those contractors. I just had a gut feeling and I went with it. Now, after Marco’s father said they were speaking in another language and it was Arabic that would fit from the short stories you and Levi have told me. You were stationed in predominantly Arabic speaking countries…” Armin trailed off as Erwin rolled him onto his back, hovering over him.

Erwin peered into his eyes, “You’re going to be a dictator one day. That mind is far too dangerous.” Armin smiled bringing his hands up to card his fingers through Erwin’s unruly hair. “You’re so rugged right now. Look at that scruffy beard and uncombed hair.” Armin giggled as Erwin leaned in closer, his lips inches away from Armin’s, “You like it?” Armin shook his head laughing. Erwin growled kissing Armin ravenously. His hands clawed at Armin’s pajamas, ripping them away as his hands smoothed over his skin and gripped the supple flesh of his ass. Erwin broke away from their kiss, “God, baby,” he swooped back down and Armin bit his lip before rolling his hips into causing Erwin to hiss. Armin pulled back flipping them over, “You like that, daddy?” Armin continued to rock his hips against Erwin’s straining erection, his own leaking one on display. “I hope you’re ready for a fun night.” Erwin chuckled, “You won’t walk for days, baby.” Armin chuckled, “bring it on.”

Chapter Text

The next morning Armin was limping to breakfast from their all night affair. He sat at the island table as Levi cooked. Erwin came down shortly after with a blanket and a book. He gave the book to Armin and wrapped him in the blanket, kissing him on the cheek as he joined Levi behind the stove. Eren came down later curling up with Armin beneath the blanket yawning. He asked if he would read aloud. It was his lucky day that the book Armin had was a book of poems:


Does it matter? -losing your legs?
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.
Does it matter? -losing you sight?
There’s such splendid work for the blind;
And people will always be kind,
As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light.
Do they matter-those dreams in the pit?
You can drink and forget and be glad,
And people won't say that you’re mad;
For they know that you've fought for your country,
And no one will worry a bit.

Jean came shuffling down the stairs and into the room. He made a cup of coffee and opened the sketch book he had with him. He sketched while Armin continued to read, sketched their morning in the early sun’s glow. Marco’s with his freckles face and Levi’s smile that he only showed to Eren when he thought no one was looking, Erwin’s strong upper body and face that looked like it was chiseled from marble at the hands of Donatello, Eren’s eyes and their limitless range of emotions, and then there was Armin’s petite mouth that was so pretty it reminded him of a woman’s with the delicate cupids bow and full pout. Jean basked in the soft morning and smells of whatever Levi was cooking up. Marco surprised him, sliding in beside him with Jean another cup of coffee and an espresso for him. He nuzzled Jean’s shoulder with his head, “Babe, there’s something tragic about you, something so magic about you. Don’t you agree?”

Jean laughed as Marco sang smiling that familiar smile he loved so much. Everyone in the room was surprised when Levi took over, ” Babe, there's something lonesome about you. Something so wholesome about you. Get closer to me.” Eren smiled ear to ear as Levi voice filled the room and Levi moved to stand behind him ruffling his hair. Erwin joined in, “No tired sighs, no rolling eyes, no irony. No 'who cares', no vacant stares, no time for me.” Erwin danced over to Armin running his hands through the messy mop that was Armin’s bed hair before they both continued to the chorus, “Honey, you're familiar like my mirror years ago. Idealism sits in prison, chivalry fell on its sword. Innocence died screaming, honey, ask me I should know. I slithered here from Eden just to sit outside your door.” Levi and Erwin finished in a flourish as the egg timer dinged making the others laugh. “Well,” Erwin began, “that was breakfast theater everyone.” Levi moved behind him, “remember to tip your waiter and drink responsibly.” His monotone voice made it all the more funny as Eren snorted and nearly choked on his coffee.

The next few weeks were spent relaxing together in the house. They were all at home there. Mr. Bodt and Ms. Kirschstein had insisted on staying until the second to last night of the break. They had all drank and played games while at the house. It would appear that Ms. Kirschstein and Levi were quite the pair, their banter covered coy and flirtatious to cruel and witty, often in French. Eren wasn’t sure what made him more jealous, the way Levi lit up when she landed a delectably cruel burn on him or the fact that his voice while speaking French was the most sensual thing he had ever heard and it drove him wildly jealous that he was directing that voice to someone other than him. Macro’s father seemed to be equally as jealous, putting on a romantic song and pulling her away for dance after dance as Marco and jean watched on in horror and satisfaction.

Erwin and Armin were making cookies passing through to the living room every so often for a song or dance. Armin and Erwin were pros at swing and flapper style dances, over-joying Ms. Kirschstein who even managed to get Levi to waltz with her. Jean still didn’t dance but that didn’t mean he rained on Marco’s parade as he and Armin took turns breaking it down with the occasional rap song came over the speakers. Instead, he made sure to video them all and send the clips online to Hanji. These past few weeks had been a much needed break for them all, allowing them to rest and heal emotionally.

Just a few days before, Levi had made one of the rooms into a studio for Jean. Erwin and Levi had come to him while he was setting things up explaining that they foresaw Marco and Jean being a part of their lives and that the house was plenty big enough for them to stay with them whenever they couldn’t stay at the dorm or if they chose not to stay in the dorms after this year. They could stay with them indefinitely. Jean was floored; he did enjoy staying with them but figured that they weren’t really hoping that they’d stay after everything went back to normal. It made sense that Eren and Armin would move in with them, they were basically like old married couples, but Jean and Marco? Jean was touched.

Jean told them they didn’t know how to thank them but Erwin and Levi were quick to tell him just what he could do for them to call it even. Levi wanted a painting of Eren and Erwin wanted one of Armin. They both left Jean to his own devices but slid a few large unused canvases in the room before leaving. Levi gave Jean a stern look before saying, “You’re family now, Jean. This isn’t finished and it won’t be for quite a while. If you need anything, you tell us. You can pass that on to Marco as well.” With that Levi turned and left Jean in his newly furnished studio with a heavy heart and commissions to keep him busy.

Marco sat down on the chair next to Jean, “You spaced out. Are you okay, Jean?” Jean didn’t think about it before he blurted out, “They said we could stay with them pretty much forever.” Macro adopted the pleasant smile he often used when he was speaking with people at the coffee shop or, like now, with Jean when he wanted to appear as neutral and personable as possible, “Um Jean, would you like to be more descriptive?” Marco smiled as Jean gave him that “I think I made myself pretty clear” look he gave him about twice a day, “Levi and Erwin said that we could stay anytime and that if we didn’t want to renew our lease for the dorm we could stay with them…for an indefinite amount of time. Get it?” Marco laughed, “Oh, yeah. Now I do. That’s so nice of them.” Jean tapped his pencil on the edge of his book, “They said we’re family now, if we need anything we should say something to them.” Marco stood up kissing Jean’s cheek, “Then we’re some lucky sons-of-bitches.”

Eren’s jealousy over Levi and Ms. Kirschstein’s little affair had left him venting to Armin in the powder room. “I know it’s silly but I am pretty jealous. He’s never spoken French to me like that.” Eren pouted as washed his face of sweat from dancing. Armin was sitting on the lid of the toilet waiting to do the same. They hadn’t really spoken much since the incident, they were just wrapped up in Erwin and Levi. Armin hadn’t wanted to admit how dark his world had become faced with the possibility of Eren’s imminent death and after hearing about his reaction from Erwin Eren didn’t want to want ask Armin about it. They had been slowly drifting apart over the last two months and he felt guilty. He watched as Armin tied his hair back, “Well, you know, our Halloween costumes went over really well. Perhaps, if you dressed up again like that you’d remind him he didn’t need a middle aged French woman to woo with the language of love.” Armin winked, “Not that Jean’s mother is old and homely but you get what I mean.” Eren smiled, “Yeah, but I don’t want to recycle the costume…” Eren watched as the water glided down Armin’s petite features, the way his mouth parted revealing the small pearly teeth. When was it that they stopped talking about things other than their boyfriends with each other? Why had Armin not pointed it out already? Did that mean that Armin didn’t care anymore about him, that he had fully replaced him with Erwin and didn’t need him anymore? Armin watched out of the corner of his eye Eren’s face change. It was only for a second but enough that it had him worried. He pondered as he washed his face. It probably wasn’t the best time to ask what was wrong, “Call Mikasa and ask if she has a long brunette wig. How about you become his French girl for a night?” Eren started laughing, “My God, so titanic-ish.” Armin snorted, “I don’t think you would have made Levi stay in the water, though. He likes being cold but not that cold.”

Armin fixed his pony tail, “I wonder if I should do something nice for Erwin?” Eren felt a stab, but he knew it was stupid and his jealousy wasn’t health. Eren tried to play it cool and winked nudging Armin in the side, “Well, you know once school starts back we’re going to have to return to the old “who the hell is trying to create super soldiers and use us as guinea pigs” mystery again and that has been proven to hinder sexy time opportunities. Also, being in the dorm we’re going to be in, as Levi refers to it, “ancestral squalor” again.” Armin was secretly thankful. The close confines kept Eren close and they hadn’t been as distant until they moved into the house. Eren feigned concern, “I don’t think Marco and Jean would like to come home to us each in costumes getting it on in the living room like some sort of free love commune.” Armin shrugged, “I don’t know. Would that be so bad?” Armin and Eren each held their breath, a small wave of panic overcame them but soon it was gone and Armin watched as Eren gave him a sly look, “You are by far the freakiest one of our group. I just don’t understand.” Armin opened the door, “Freaks have more fun, Eren. Don’t act like you haven’t thought of a foursome.” He winked, noticing Eren blush a deep red, while walking back out. He dodged a bullet, but for how long? How long could they go without really talking to one another about all the things they had left unresolved before school ever even started? He came to find Erwin and Mr. Bodt speaking in Italian in the doorway between the kitchen and living room.

Armin grinned, “You speak Italian?” Erwin blushed, “No, uh just a little.” Mr Bodt slapped Erwin on his back, “He speaks very well. Some of your sayings though, boy they take me back. Not exactly how the youth speak.” Armin hugged Erwin’s arm, “How did you learn?” Erwin lowered his head, “My mother’s records. She sang in Italian often. Did I ever tell you she only sang in languages she was fluent in?” Armin shook his head, “No! You didn’t!” Marco’s father was intrigued, “What was her name? She was famous, correct?” Erwin’s eyes sparkled, “She was very popular.” He demurred before continuing, “Her name was Marilyn Smith but her stage name was Geraldine Rose.” Mr. Bodt’s eyes lit up, “She-she played for us! She played for my family in Rome! We would have these reunions and my grandfather loved, absolutely adored the arts! He’d have a painter come and paint us or a violinist perform while we sat on the lawn of the Bodt estate. Oh, but your mother came a year or two before I came to the states. She had been touring and he caught up with her manager. Did she ever mention it? I’m sure it was quite a shock for her when she showed up and realized she was singing for gangsters.”

Erwin was quiet for a while, “Well, unfortunately that was before I was born. My mother died in child birth and I never got that story.” Mr. Bodt nodded, “Your father?” He asked softly as Erwin drank more of his scotch, “He is also dead. I…we never talked about her unless he brought her up and of course he told me things but they were more about their relationship and him making it obvious to me that she loved me and he loved me.” Marco’s father rested his hand on his shoulder, “Yes, I completely understand. I did the same thing for Marco when his mother died. Well, if you’d like the story I can give it to you.” Erwin grinned, “Please.”

Mr. Bodt drained his glass of wine, “She showed up looking like a vision. She wore the most beautiful white form fitting dress, turned all the heads of my cousins. I was newly married and even my wife turned to me, she was really feisty I’ll tell you, she turned to me and said “Are you lookin’ at her?” And I said “Of course, I’m lookin’ at her. What do you mean “am I looking?” Look around everybody is lookin’ at her, you’re lookin’ at her.” Well, my wife didn’t much care for that but it was the truth, your mother was a beauty who knew no bounds. Well, my Carmela was the most beautiful to me but try telling her that a few days after. A woman scorned and all that.” Mr. Bodt laughed while Erwin blushed lightly, “My wife and I sat on the grass as she took in the place, men with guns, a few women who’d seen better days and wore bad cosmetics, and then the children that ran around like gypsies. She met my grandfather while he was doing some business. I can’t imagine what she overheard. I’m sure it wasn’t to her liking. The whole time she wore the most demure smile. Her eyes were so blue, in fact, while I’m sure you’ve been told that your eyes resemble hers, she had a slightly different shape and the color is actually closer to Armin’s here.” Armin blushed as Erwin turned to look more closely at his eyes, “She took her place by the fountains and she sang Sempre Libera. We were moved to tears. As mobsters you can imagine how that went over with us, in our souls.”

Armin was not familiar with the song, “What is it about?” Erwin answered him, “The title means “Always Free” and it is about a woman who rejects love because she ultimately believes that she loves freedom more. It’s wonderful.” Armin took Erwin’s hand as Marco’s father chuckled, “She drank us all under the table, too and took about 5000 in cash plus what my grandfather paid her. She was a gambler and a damn good one.” Levi walked by, “It runs in the blood. Erwin has left men naked on the side of the road with their fortunes in his pocket and their dignity claimed.” Marco’s father burst into laughter as Erwin tried to repress a sly smile. “Levi, don’t spread such slander.”

Levi smirked, “I came back to the barracks once when we were in Denmark and there was this boat blocking my way to the bunks. I was hung over and pissed off. When I heard a rustling coming from the boat it startled me and I threw my 40 into it like a grenade to scare whatever critter was livin’ in it and what appears but Erwin and a hooker. Apparently, when he split off from me he ended up in a shady establishment where someone decided to try and take Erwin, the unlucky soldier tourist, for all he was worth. Erwin said he made it his mission to destroy him and he took his boat to settle the debt. I didn’t even like this guy but that sure did make me want to go out with him the next time we had leave to just see what else might happen.” Levi took a drink from his beer before Armin cut in, “I take it he grew on you?” Levi shrugged, “Like fungus.”

Erwin laughed, “You’re too cruel Levi.” Armin gave him a side glance, “What was the hooker like?” Erwin pushed Armin towards the kitchen, “Oooooh, who even remembers stuff like that? Hahahah” Levi made sure to raise his voice, “A raven haired twink. He had a Danish navy uniform on and said he came along with the boat. Double entendre and all.” Armin gasped turning to Erwin who was still trying to push him away, “My God, what a scandal, my vapors!” Erwin stopped pushing, “I was young!” Armin still cast him a scrupulous look, “And Levi, you don’t really want to go there.” Erwin’s glance was warning. Eren had turned around from his place on the couch, head just above the back and eyes narrowed like a hawk, “What does Levi have to worry about?” Levi turned to see Eren starring a hole in him. “N-n-nothing brat. Go watch your cartoons.” Marco spat his drink out, “Cartoons? What the hell are you talking about, are you a grandpa?” Erwin laughed manically, “Let’s just let this die so grandpa doesn’t put anyone in the corner for time out.” Levi tch’ed and the group moved on to other discussions.

Eren called Mikasa before Jean and Marco’s parents left for their hotels. They would be heading home early in the morning and said their goodbyes tonight. Mikasa said she had the perfect wig for him and that tomorrow he could stop by Annie’s and get his stuff and Armin’s. Eren was surprised but Armin was a planner. He probably thought about something for himself while helping Eren. Either way, he knew both men would love whatever they had for them.

Armin climbed into bed turning on the TV while Erwin was in the bathroom. He had been reading his book when he thought about what he had planned for tomorrow. Talking about things ahead of time with Erwin would probably be best. He also wanted to hear more about that hooker and what secret dirt he had on Levi. Armin heard Erwin open the door and flick off the light. He got in bed with just his boxers on. Armin had taken another one of his older shirts and was wearing only that and his black ankle socks. Erwin got in the bed resting against the pillows. He moved his leg to rest against Armin, “I don’t know how you can wear socks to bed. I hate it.” Armin snickered, “I don’t want my feet to get cold. Or do you want me to stick them on you in the middle of the night and give you a freight?” Erwin gave him a contemplative look as he hummed, “I think you don’t cut your toenails and if you take those off they’d cut me in my sleep.” Armin burst into laughter, “Erwin! I cut my toenails!” Erwin chuckled as Armin put his book on the nightstand still giggling.

Erwin turned the TV off. He watched as Armin pulled his hair back up and out of his face. “Go ahead.” Armin smiled wickedly, “Whatever do you mean, my good sir?” Erwin rolled his eyes, “You’re about to ask me all sorts of things.” Armin snuggled down, “Yep, first, how do you feel about bdsm?” Erwin choked, “My Lord, that’s not a topic for polite company.” Armin smiled impishly as Erwin took a moment to contemplate. “It really depends. I’m not into anything elaborate like harnesses hanging from the ceiling. I don’t want to be tried down to anything, my hands being tried behind my back or something like that isn’t bad but never my legs and never to anything. Also, promise you’ll never blind fold me without asking. I don’t want to be blind folded unless asked, ever. Regardless of how intense our play is.” Armin promised before he continued, “I’m fine with you being sadistic to me verbally. I would enjoy you making me do stuff, submission like things. If I don’t like something I’ll speak up.” Armin nodded in understanding as Erwin sighed.

“Why do you ask?” Armin shrugged. “I was just curious what you thought. Next question: I want to the dirt on Levi.” Erwin tried to shrug it off, “There’s nothing, baby. And that isn’t a question that’s a request.” Erwin looked smug but Armin pressed, “Erwin, that’s like why people are in relationships, double the secrets! What was with the hooker, too? I’d have thought that you’d be able to find someone you didn’t have to pay.” Erwin flushed, “You promise you won’t say anything if I tell you?” Armin played innocent, “Of course! Why, if it’s that hard for you talk about then we can-“ Erwin cut him off, “That’s a poisonous lie you’d nag me to death if I didn’t tell you.” Armin giggled as Erwin ran his hands through his hair. He’d shaven in the bathroom and Armin slightly missed his more rugged look, “I got the hooker with the boat. That was true. But I only chose to let him…perform his professional duties because he bore a striking resemblance to someone.” Armin wrinkled his nose, “Who?”

Erwin sighed giving him an exasperated look, “Armin, really?” Armin kept thinking, “I don’t know…I don’t know yo’ life daddy…” Erwin just blurted it out, “Levi…he looked like Levi.” Armin gasped, “You fucked him because he looked like LEVI? YOU WANT ED TO FUCK LEVI?” Erwin shrugged, “It’s all very simple. I liked Levi as a person. He hated me. The more I got to know him, the more I liked him. He just continued to hate me. We had to work together and it started to bother me that he didn’t like me. I mean, what was up with that? Then when I became his superior he started hating me more. Then it got to the point that I just wanted to fuck him. I wanted to fuck him hard and just put him in his place and maybe make him like me in some sick alpha male way…I don’t know. So, we kept getting into sexually tense situations where we’d get into fist fights and our superiors had to get involved. We had to work together because we just worked perfectly. The tension kept building and building and then we were in Denmark and he started noticing that if I slept with anyone there was a trend…” Erwin trailed off become silent.

When he didn’t immediately continue Armin started to feel like he was dying inside, “Tell me mooooore!” Erwin became beat red, “So, this one day after a horrible drill where we got our asses torn up we headed back to our shared office and I’m not sure what happened but I was sitting in my chair and Levi said “At least I’m not the one who’s fucking generic versions of his partner. If you want to fuck then maybe you should man up.” Next thing I know I’ve got him on the desk pinned and he’s kicking me and we get into this brawl that’s basically this erotic fight for power and we end up fucking on and off for a while in order to try and one up each other. It actually made us closer and better friends.” Armin’s mouth is wide open, “So, you both basically had sex to establish alpha rank.” Erwin nods, “exactly.” Armin nibbled his lip, “Soooo, I know who bottoms now but who bottomed with you and Levi?”

Erwin gave Armin an embarrassed look, “Who ever won the fight beforehand.” Armin pressed, “Who won first?” Erwin’s face got redder, “Armin! I had no idea you were such a freak.” Armin whined, “But it’s so hooooot. What’s wrong with being a freak? If you wanted to be with someone sexually boring then none of us are suited for you. Perhaps, you should go on Christian Mingle? I bet they have boring sex. I even asked Eren to think about a foursome tonight.” Erwin gasped, “You did?” Armin snickered, “Uh, yeah. Am I the only one that has considered that? I mean, we live in the same house and Levi stared at my ass the other night while you used me as a sex toy display, basically. We’re not normal and we never will be. We’re barely respectable anymore.” Erwin laughed as Armin snuggled closer, “You were always a fallen man, Mr. Arlert, it’s why I was attracted to you.” Armin kissed him chastely, “Shut up.” Erwin hummed before asking, “Did he say yes or is that still, you know, an open question?” Armin slapped his arm cackling, “I knew it!”

Chapter Text

The next morning Armin woke up to Eren poking him in the face, “We need to pick our stuff up from Mikasa so get up and come with me.” Armin moaned, rolling out of the bed. “Is it like, super cold or just cold?” Eren sat on the bed, “super cold. Even for you, Arm. It’s like 12 degrees” Armin cast a disparaging look out the window, “I feel like the cold has betrayed me.” Armin pulled on a long-sleeved black thermal shit, oversized grey cardigan; dark navy blue jeans, dark olive pea coat, and a mossy green scarf Eren had made him a few winters ago. Eren smiled, “You wearing that old thing?” Armin touched the scarf, its fabric smooth like silk but so warm. It was one of Armin’s most sentimental pieces, “Yeah, I’ve missed it.” His eyes met Eren’s who still softly smiling. Eren was wearing dark skinny jeans, a thick brown cable sweater, dark grey military style jacket, and an oversized loose ruffle black scarf that he wrapped around his neck and onto his shoulder. Both Armin and Eren donned their beanies and boots, before they left the house to Eren’s car.

The drive to Annie’s wasn’t that terribly long but it was treacherous. Ice had formed over the past few days and even though the city took safety seriously the salt had done little to prevent dangerous sludge and black ice from forming. Eren’s phone rang; he hit the button for blue tooth, “Hello?” Levi’s cool voice appeared in the car, “Brat, where the fuck are you?” Eren snickered, “Off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz.” Levi was not amused if his silence was any indicator, “You think it might have been nice to leave a note? I wake up in bed without a brat and I start to panic.” Eren frowned, “Oh, Levi, I’m sorry. I just had one thing in mind and I sort of just followed through with that.” Levi tch’ed, “Where are you, for real?” Eren was stopped at a red light that wasn’t working, “I’m on a mission. Still in Maria so no worries.” Levi sighed, “I have to run over to Hanji’s for while. She called and said it was important. Be safe and next time leave a note, brat. Or else.” Eren laughed, “Yes, captain. I will. I love you.” Levi’s voice was kinder as he mumbled, “Love you too, little shit.”

Armin giggled, “He’s got it bad for you.” Eren smiled shyly, “Good, I hope that doesn’t change. I called Hanji the other night.” Armin already knew, Jean had overheard the call and told him because he was concerned. It had been eating at him, piling on all the other grievances he had with Eren that he’d let sit and fester. “I know.” Eren shot him a look, it took him a second but he then realized what must have happened, “Fuckin’ Jean. Anyway, I called because I want to become the new research patient. I think that if they use me then they will be able to figure out what happened and perhaps even advance this the way Levi wanted and maybe, just maybe, we can really help people.” Eren tried to sound enthused. He knew this wasn’t going to go over well with Armin. Armin glanced his way, “It doesn’t matter, why would you tell me anything important when you’ve got Levi? I’m sure I would have been the last know.” Armin turned his body away from Eren’s. The fight had begun.

The roads were still bad, they had to take detour to MP. There were seasoned and devoted runners on the sidewalks and a few employees preparing for the return of students tomorrow. Mostly everyone was at home, staying warm with loved ones and friends. Armin studied his own face in the passenger mirror, bruised still around his neck and visible even with a scarf, he knew that would be a point of focus for all in his classes. If he was being honest, he just didn’t want to continue the conversation with Eren and was trying to actively think about other things.

Eren turned off the radio that had been playing, not very loudly, in the car. The silence stretched between them like an ocean. Eren hated it when it got like this, “Arm,” he began, voice low like the rumble of thunder, “Don’t do that to me. Don’t be like this. I’m not the only one who’s at fault.” Armin didn’t look at him; he kept his face trained on the road before them. Inside Armin was welling up like a wound from a lash. Eren was his safety, he was his anchor, and he was leaving him behind.

A symbolic leaving that tore them both to pieces. How long could things stay like this, living in the same house, seeing each other every day, the ability to find comfort in each other in the same place? They couldn’t, nothing gold can stay. It was clear that Eren and Levi would grow closer till one day Levi took Eren away from Armin. Erwin had already taken Armin from him, they were inseparable and he handled everything for them. There wasn’t a place for him with Erwin around. Eren felt his stomach tighten as shame washed over him. He didn’t hate Erwin, he hated that he wished he’d let him take care of Armin still.

This isn’t healthy, this dream of staying together without being together. They were so close, too much for any others to handle. Lovers who weren’t lovers, friends who were closer than friends, perhaps they even hated each other a bit, resented one another for various reasons, but they knew they never wanted to be away from each other. When would this all come crashing down? Is it even acceptable for two people to know that they have an unhealthy relationship and just ask that others partake in it and accept it? Eren was willing to give it more time and see, whereas Armin had already started cutting him off to make it hurt less. Eren would leave. He would abandon him like he always feared he would.

They pulled up to Annie’s house still in silence. Mikasa opened the curtain before heading to the door. Eren got out, anything to get out of the car with its charged atmosphere. He felt like a dog that sensed a natural disaster was coming. He didn’t want to have this fight, not now, not today when Levi would also be angry with him. Mikasa’s face told him he wasn’t doing a good job hiding that he was upset. “Why do you look like that?” Her voice monotone, so much like Levi that it shocked him he hadn’t noticed before. He didn’t feel like lying to her, “Armin and I…we’re over due for a fight. I think we’re about to have it. May I have our things; I just don’t want to get into it here.” Mikasa ignored him looking at Armin who was still sitting in the car, jaw clenched, face blass and lip quivering. Mikasa sighed, “It’s funny, you know.” He looked at her, “What is?” She kept her eyes on Armin, “All these years, people have talked shit about me. They all talked about how I was too over protective, jealous, whatever else they wanted to use to describe my behavior. But, you know I was just covering up your shit. You two, you two are great when you’re great and you’re bad when you’re bad.”

Her voice was tinged with a trace of bitterness. “Mika, I don’t know what to say.” Eren’s shoulders slumped. Her eyes flicked to his, they were hard but understanding, “You can’t be his boyfriend, best friend, and father. You each are dating other people now and it’s only natural that you two would eventually drift apart and have other people in your lives that take priority. I’m not sitting at that house with you hoping we could stay together forever. I’m staying with my girlfriend, having a separate life with separate experiences, and I still love you and know you love me just as much regardless.” Eren knew what she said was true but it didn’t make things any better. It just never applied to them, what was good for others.

He pressed, “Are you mad at us?” Mikasa shook her head, “No, I just want you two to be okay and be happy. I think that you both need to prepare for when you’re not living in the same house or city. You both need to let Erwin and Levi in and invest in the two men that are crazy about y’all and treat y’all the way y’all deserve to be treated.” Mikasa opened her arms for Eren to hug her goodbye as she waved to Armin, who managed a pitiful one in response. Eren held the bags of clothes and supplies in his arms, they felt heavy and his stomach ached. A world without Armin near wasn’t one he wanted to be in.

They drove back to the house in the same silence as Armin picked at the skin around his nails, an old habit, a signal that Eren would need to keep a close eye on him. It would have normally caused him to take Armin into his arms and comfort him but that wasn’t acceptable anymore with Erwin being the one whose domain that feel under. Regardless, a childhood of watching your best friend be beaten up, sometimes brutally, would make anyone feel helpless and want to be their protector. Armin and Eren had been through so much together but Eren was never treated like Armin. He was never taunted, bullied, and abused like he was by other kids. Eren’s mind went to a dark place,When he had almost…, no he couldn’t think about that right now, he just needed to get them home so they could fight it out and then, hopefully, make up like always, return to a state of homeostasis until the next time.

They pulled up to the house getting out quickly and rushing to the front door. It was too cold to linger but the lock wanted to stick. “Let me do it.” Armin’s voice was harsh; he took the key, whittling it in the door, putting his shoulder against it to force it open. Once inside Eren and Armin put their things away. Eren prepared himself for what was to come, taking off his jacket and boots. Donner’s dog bed had been straightened up and he noticed that his pile of clothes had been folded. There was a small note on top of the pile, ”Eren, you are a filthy pig. Donner is even ashamed.” Eren smiled as he read the note, admiring the beautiful script that was Levi’s handwriting. He loved him, he really did. He was in love with Levi and if he were to ask of Eren what Eren wanted to ask of him, he’d be jealous and angry. It was selfish to ask that he work his life around Eren in such a way that it always included Armin. Eren pondered the gravity of the situation for a good hour before he stood up walking out into the hall and passing an empty room. Armin must have gone downstairs.

He found him curled up on the couch wrapped in a blanket. Erwin was nowhere to be seen and if he was home he’d be with Armin. Eren assumed they were alone and that here was as good a place as any to have this fight. “Armin, let’s talk about this.” Eren walked over to one of the accent chairs to the side of the couch, sitting down on the edge before pulling off his beanie and running his hands through his hair. “I don’t want to.” Armin’s voice was horse, a small gust of air, the words were small. “No, we need to. It’s…been a long time coming.” Armin wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Armin, please.” Eren’s voice was pleading, his internal gage told him he was steadily reaching the boiling point and they hadn’t even begun, “I should have told you. I should have told you a lot of things this semester. I thought that, I thought that we would be in the dorm together, single, focused on our studies and that we’d have things figured out before we ever got serious with anyone. You know that Levi and Erwin…that was just meant to be. But, people don’t get it. They don’t get how much I love you and the way I love you. Or how much you love me and- .” Armin’s head jerked to the side, his eyes were cold, rimmed red from tears, when he spoke it was a hiss, a curse, “I. Hate. You. I hate you. I hate you so much, Eren Jaeger. If I had known that I’d get this close to you only for you to also abandon me then I’d have rather never been close to you in the first place. You don’t love me, I’m a crutch. I’m just a place holder and a project. I am nothing and I hate you for making me feel…for making me ever feel anything for you in the first place.” His words wounded Eren and he knew it. Eren’s jaw tightened as he clenched his teeth, “Take it back. Take it fucking back.” Armin remained defiant, “I loathe you, Eren Jaeger. I wish I’d never met you and you wish that too. I’m just your weak ass childhood friend you outgrew.” Eren stood up enraged and screaming, “YOU ARE POISON.” Armin raised his chin, “Is that so?” his tone self-deprecating and body language taunting. Eren’s fists clenched, “Yes, yes you are,” Armin hissed in response. Eren’s voice was low, seething with too many conflicting emotions, “You are poison straight from the viper’s mouth and yet you are also the finest wine that has left a stain on my soul. I am stained, you are a stain on the fabric of my life and I cannot imagine what I ever did to deserve such sweet suffering but I do not wish to hear you say you’d have rather we never have met because that is an abomination to us. I want you forever. I always accepted you’d be with me forever.”

Armin smiled bitterly, “You’re such an idiot. You have Levi now to stain you. He’s a lot better than me, not weak and needy. He handles everything for you and for himself. You’re tired of me and you’re going to leave. Admit it, Eren. We know it’s true.” Eren wrung his hands, “What is wrong with you? I’m here; I’m not going anywhere.” Armin shrugged, “You don’t tell me anything anymore, disappear every week out of the city and you won’t tell me why. You keep secrets that you would have never kept before and you cancel on me when I try to make time for us to just be together like the old days. When was the last time we went to a coffee shop and just read together and talked?” Armin gripped his hair, “Why did you sign up to be a test subject, Eren? Huh!? You could die! You have no idea what Hanji or Levi might need to do to test you and you just offered yourself up like a sacrificial lamb!” Eren reeled, “I want to help!” Armin shuddered, face contorted in anger, “You didn’t tell me! You didn’t say a word! Instead, I find out from Jean! I have never not told you something, never!” Eren grabbed the chair pulling it forward, it drug against the wood screeching and scratching it, “I didn’t tell you because I knew it would upset you. I didn’t tell Levi either, but I mean, what the fuck does that even matter? I don’t expect you to tell me shit now that Erwin is in the picture and you’ve done a damn good job of leaving me out, too! You’re seriously going to leave the fuckin’ country for more than a month?! We’ve never been apart for more than that. What happens if he wants you to move somewhere, too? I don’t expect you to say no!” Armin stood up moving forward, “That’s shit, total shit. You were pissed off when I started seeing Erwin and you didn’t want me to share anything with you, not really. I’ve kept things to myself because you made it clear you didn’t want to hear.” Eren scoffed, “Whatever, I was just worried you’d picked another shitty guy who wanted to take advantage of you.” Armin reeled, “I picked you once. What’s that say about you?”

Eren threw the chair, breaking it as Armin moved back towards the couch. “Just say it Eren, it bothers you. It bothers me, too. You know we’re not like that, you know it wouldn’t work, but you don’t want to walk away.” Armin’s eyes were still cold. Eren hissed, “Do you want to walk away?” Armin shrugged, “I feel like you’ve already decided that there isn’t any other option. Mikasa made a fair point.” Eren laughed but it was ironic and hollow, “Yeah, she did. She always does but she’s not in this like we are.” Eren sat in the other chair, “You’re the only one who knows how much I hate people, what they do that ticks me off. You know the good, the bad, and all the ugly parts of me I want no one else to see. I don’t know how you love someone like me. I’m terrified Levi is going to see something, an old piece of who I was before and he’s going see the monster I really am and leave me and that would kill me because I just want him to be it. I want Levi to see only the good parts.” Eren pulled at his hair, eyes blood shot from fighting back tears.

Armin paced around the room, his voice was compassionate, “I think he’d understand, Eren. I think he already knows that there are ugly parts about you but he doesn’t care. What would Erwin think if he knew all that you know about me? I’m such a manipulative person and so completely selfish. I am so fearfully scared that everyone is going to abandon me and so weak for demanding that I keep both you and Erwin.” Eren turned to meet his gaze, “That makes two of us. How weak is it to never want to be away from my childhood best friend? Hell, it’s selfish, sick even. Our relationship isn’t normal. It never has been. Jean’s the only normal relationship in our life and he’s even been fucked up due to our weird dynamic. I can’t be your hero anymore, that’s not my role. I don’t understand what my role is and that scares me.”

Armin sat on the arm of the couch, “Your role in my life will always be the one you’ve played. You are my best friend, my brother. I love you, but I’m not in love with you not like that. But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to let go of you. I don’t want to be away in a different state, different country and know that I probably won’t see you for months or years and possibly never again because we’re supposed to just drift apart. I don’t accept that. I won’t accept that. I can’t be a good person, a whole person without you. When I thought you died…” Armin started sobbing, his face flushed as he doubled over, breath coming in shallow and erratically, “I thought, I thought, why not me? I love Erwin and everyone else but if you died then what? I could never be who he or anyone deserved because a piece of me would have died. You were the only reason I was able to carry on after what happened. I can’t function without you, Eren.” He started coughing and crying more as Eren held his head in both hands.

Eren started whining helplessly, pitch increasing as he became overwhelmed, “Never say you wish you had died, Armin. Never,” he started breaking down, “Never, I fought too hard for you wish you’d died. I’m sorry, please forgive me. Without you, I’d just…go off into the woods, off the grid and live like some recluse. I wouldn’t be good enough for Levi or anyone.” Armin shook, sobs giving way to hiccups and a migraine, “Is it worth risking pushing away the two people we love by insisting that we always stay together, like a package deal? That’s weird, too weird, right? I mean, they bought a house together but they can’t honestly think that we’d all just stay here forever, raise some kids together like a damn commune in the 60s. Erwin said that they would always stay close but what does that even mean? I know they were planning on what was best for them without adding in complications like two freshmen who may or may not stick around when they bought the house. But Erwin said it was an investment that was too good to pass by and that’s true. Look at this place.” Armin’s hands clenched. “I want to stick around. I want this to be it. I want to live here with you and Levi and Erwin. I’m invested.” Armin sniffled as he wiped his tear streaked cheeks. Eren hummed, “I want to stick around to, but we need to find a way to tell them that we….we’re a package deal. We won’t be separated.”

Armin and Eren sat in silence. It was out, an admission that was selfish but true. They wanted to remain a pair and they wouldn’t compromise that. If it meant losing what they had then that was fine because ultimately, they needed each other to survive. They paused letting the words all sink in before Armin continued, “I still hate you sometimes. I hate you and it hurts me to do so. I really resent the way you grew up in comparison to me. Even now, your parents coming down all concerned and Mikasa, she was nearly sedated the entire time; I didn’t have that. My opa came, but my parents haven’t even sent an email or anything and they were home, Eren. They were home and they didn’t even drive down, call, text, nothing.” Armin’s voice was hurt, he drew in a ragged breath. “I just really hate you sometimes.” Eren sobbed, “No, nooooo Armin, please” falling on his knees, his face red and eyes pleading, “please stop saying that. It kills me.”

The front door slammed and the pitter patter of Donner’s nails could be heard on the wood floor. In no time he was beside Eren licking his face and nuzzling him with his large head. Armin covered his face with his hand, too tired to do much else and just exhausted by what was about to unfold. The questions, the stares, the bullshit fall out that resulted when people came in at the wrong time at the wrong place in a personal conversation. He didn’t have time for back story justifications. He just wanted to disappear. “Brat, why are you crying?” Levi stood at the hallway entrance, large brown paper bag in his arms full of something, maybe papers, and his coat covered in a light dusting of melting flurries. The expression that painted his face was stunned and a little angry. “Who broke that chair? What the fuck is going on? Armin-“Another set of footsteps from the kitchen, “Levi leave them alone.” Erwin voice was stern and left no room for arguing.

A white hot flash of nausea overcame both of them, Where had he come from? What did he hear? Eren wiped his face as Armin pulled his hand down to cover his mouth. The room was thick with tension. Levi reluctantly turned towards Erwin, eyes still wide taking in the scene before him. “Levi!” Erwin snapped still unseen. Levi turned on his heel walking to the other door and disappearing through it into the kitchen. Donner stayed by Eren who proceeded to bend over down on the floor clutching his stomach, a stifled scream giving way to sobs. This was it, this was how everything ended, how everything blew up. How could they fix this? So much could have been taken out of context so much misconstrued. Armin moved to get off the couch, shaking and almost collapsing. Eren watched him, face on the rug, he opened his mouth, the words were angry, “You had to do this today. You always have to do this.” Armin’s lip trembled. That was low, too low for Eren. He had started this fight just as often. Armin shrugged, “Should have let me die. Then I wouldn’t keep bringing it up.” Armin’s pale skin was flushed pink all over, he looked ill, he hated fighting with Eren and he hated how nasty they got with one another.

Eren didn’t know if it was simply because Armin rarely went there, went to that place where he was like this, so frustrating, or if it was because the anniversary of that day was close but he couldn’t help but disregard that there were others present when Armin made that comment. Of course, had he been thinking rationally about the recent events and how everyone had willfully thrown themselves head first into “moving on” and actively trying to forget that they’d all almost died in their sleep and or worse then he might have let it go, chopped it up to some psychological explanation by Freud or Jung or even Nietzsche that Armin was shaken mentally and this was his way of surviving, burning bridges preemptively in order to save what he could and stop any further more damaging pain from ensuing but he didn’t think any of those things. Instead, he just gave in to the venom that was already in his mouth ready to spit, “Which time? There have been plenty. Forgive me if half my youth wasn’t spent trying to keep you from fucking giving up.” Armin flushed red, “Wow. Well, you can’t possibly have anything further to say to me. I’ll be upstairs.” With that, Armin turned to leave up the stairs fighting the raging heat that threatened to consume him, the shame, the guilt, the fear, and the urge to hurt himself that he’d fought so fiercely only just a short time ago. He didn’t know if he could resist this time.

Armin sat in silence in the room looking at Erwin’s change of clothes he never put on. He must have woke up before Armin, went to the shared office, not his study which Armin would have passed and seen him at the desk with the fire roaring that morning when they passed, to do some paper work and that's why he was in the house when they had their fight. His head hurt so much he climbed in bed, hugging the comforter around him, burying himself in the sheets. He hugged Erwin’s pillow smelling his cologne and preparing himself for the inevitable. He drifted off, coming to when a hand smoothed his brow, softy, lovingly. He opened his eyes to the dimly lit room, curtains shut and the time of day fully obscured. Erwin’s fist was clenched. Armin began to panic before he opened his closed fist revealing two pills, “Take this for your head and here, drink some water." He produced a large glass of water. Armin noticed he wasn't upset, but rather concerned about Armin's comfort. He wrinkled his nose sitting up enough to take the pills and drink a good deal of the large glass before collapsing back down, completely drained.

Erwin moved his pillow back to its spot before climbing in with him. Armin's eyes stung, his body felt incredibly heavy. Why was Erwin being so nice to him after what he must have over heard? Erwin’s strong arms wrapped around beneath Armin's shoulders, pulling him up to lay on his chest as Erwin turned on the TV, back propped up on one of the euro pillows that they often used while reading in bed. He had been watching a lot of documentaries on the Middle East lately. Armin had added The Honorable Woman because he had wanted to watch it with him but for some reason Erwin refused to watch it. He had hoped to ask Eren but that had led to the realization that Eren and he no longer made time to do anything together; whether it was get coffee or watch a show or any of what they had normally done. He felt lost without his routine with him, lost without the familiar comfort of him always being near. Instead, they'd just blatantly ignored and pushed off this conversation, prolonging it till they were both too raw and too sensitive to think reasonably and all they succeeded in doing was wounding each other, the two men they loved, and instead arrived at the conclusion that they were unhealthy and wanted to stay unhealthy together. At least that was something.

Erwin rubbed Armin's back as he clutched the fabric of Erwin’s shirt. The narrator's voice was soothing, speech articulated; not unlike Erwin’s own, Armin thought. He snuggled closer to his chest, legs moving ever so slightly as one foot rubbed up and down a small section of Erwin’s exposed calve in a comforting manner. He closed his eyes but everything he saw was a porch covered in blood, smoke from fire, Jeeter pointing a gun at Jean, the doctor telling them Eren was going to die, Marco's missing half of his body that he couldn't get over. It haunted him; he'd even heard Jean in the shower crying one day mumbling about it. That was something he'd never forget. He'd never forgave himself for what hell he'd put Eren and Jean through the few times he'd been in rough shape but Marco, he had been a victim of such a horrible crime and Armin just wished he'd be able to forget that scorched body and the smell of burned flesh and replace it with the smiling lovable person he saw every day now doting on Jean and being an all around astonishing human being.

Erwin sighed, stretching his neck and closing his eyes for a few brief moments. Armin looked up through his lashes at the Adonis before him. Erwin was so sturdy but not uncomfortable. He felt warm, protected from all the horrors of the world around him. Better yet was the feeling of being grounded by the weight of his arm rubbing along his back. He could smell his cologne, the fire place, and that underlying scent that was uniquely his own that made Armin's hips twitch in delight. Armin could also smell traces of himself, the body wash he preferred, his fabric softer when he did their clothes, and it made him so happy.

The documentary ended and Erwin cleared his throat. He pulled Armin more fully on top of him, using both hands now to rub his back and sides. Erwin hummed, "Armin?" His tone was light, curious, "Are you in love with me?" Armin's eyes closed, the stinging aching sensation returned as the light from the screen illuminated the darkened room. Armin's voice was muffled through the fabric of Erwin’s shirt but he spoke loudly and true, "I am most definitely in love with you. I don't want anyone else that way." Erwin’s head rested with a slight thud against the bed frame, "Okay, good. It's almost time for dinner; you should eat something to help with your headache. I think Levi said he was making something like a soup or stew so that should be perfect. I figured we'd stay the night in the house and drive to school tomorrow. Jean and Marco are going to stay in the dorm and they will act as RAs till we get there." He pulled the sheet of his side of the bed up but Armin didn’t move. Instead, he whispered the only question he'd been dying to ask since Erwin appeared, "Why aren’t you mad?" Erwin’s face revealed nothing, "Because I understand and right now isn't the time to get into anything, not after all of that and how drained you are. I'm not mad and if you're in love with me, if you only want me like that, then that's all I need to know. I can wait for the rest." He paused long enough for Armin to notice before continuing in a hushed tone, "As long as it takes." Armin looked up to see Erwin studying him intently, scrutinizing him like a possible source for his papers. They both held their breath as they began to use their wonderfully dangerous minds to try and figure each other out. Another game had begun between them.

True to his word, Levi was in the kitchen cooking while Eren sat at the table waiting for him to say something, anything at all to him. Levi had come into the living room after few minutes of Armin leaving to pick up the pieces of the broken chair. He didn't mumble anything under his breath, didn't speak to Eren really, and instead went to throw the pieces away outside. When he returned Eren was still on the floor where he had fallen before Armin had left. Levi picked him up and brought him upstairs to his study, sitting him down on the futon Eren added to the room after falling asleep on the rug too many times. Levi sat down and started going over the paper work in the brown bag while Eren closed his eyes and fell asleep. He awoke to Levi’s hand rubbing soothing circles on his back, arm looped around his waist, lips pressed against his neck while he cooed softly, asking for Eren to calm down. He'd been talking in his sleep, reliving the argument more than likely and Levi had laid down next to him to soothe him into getting more sleep but that just wasn't in the cards for Eren. For soon, he was following Levi down the stairs like a lost puppy into the kitchen. He sat down starring at the wood grain in the table. Levi flipped threw his box of recipes before settling on one. Eren asked if he needed help with cutting the vegetables and Levi reluctantly allowed him to help. After the carrots were finished Levi came over to get them, leaning down and kissing Eren fully on the lips. They held the kiss for a while. It was meant to be reassuring and it was for the most part.

When Levi pulled back Eren grabbed his hand. "I'm sorry" his voice was broken, tiny and plaintive, "Levi." Eren watched as an array of emotions passed over Levi’s eyes, "Don't be. Unfortunately, I understand." Eren was confused but accepted it and let his words comfort him. "Levi" was all he managed to mumble as Levi turned to the pot and turned on the sound system for the room.


“Baby, you understand me now?
If sometimes you see that I'm mad
Don't you know, no one alive can always be an angel?
When everything goes wrong, you see some bad
But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood”

Eren listened to the sound of Lana del Rey’s bourbon colored voice as Levi ladled out four bowls of soup before setting the pot on a lot simmer. Donner had already ate his snacks and was lounging by Eren’s feet, tail thudding as Erwin and Armin walked into the room. Armin’s face was listless and drained. He must have a headache, Eren thought as he watch Erwin slid him in to the booth before heading to the fridge. “I moved your beer to the other one.” Erwin paused looking at Levi, “Oh, was it in the wrong one?” Levi’s eyes cut over, “Yes…everything was.” His tone was darker than normal, Eren’s ears perked up. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry about that Levi. Hopefully, that won’t happen again” was Erwin’s sickeningly sweet reply. His smile was off, Armin noticed with a hint of confusion as he shot a glance to Eren who looked equally at a loss and shrugged. Levi slid his bowl across the counter to him, “Let’s hope so.” The two stood a few seconds longer just starting at each other.


"You know sometimes, baby, I'm so carefree
With a joy that's hard to hide
And then sometimes, again, it seems that all I have is worry
And then you're bound to see my other side
But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
If I seem edgy
I want you to know
I never meant to take it out on all you
Life has its problems
And I get more than my share
But that's one thing I never mean to do"

Levi and Erwin slid in the booth alongside the two boys. Everything Levi cooked was five stars in Eren and Armin’s opinion. Tonight was no different as they tore into the meal. All day they had been too busy fighting to eat and Armin felt his headache improve as he swallowed each bite of stew. Levi’s leg bounced on the floor, a nervous tick that Eren had never seen. Erwin’s normally good humored conversation was absent as well, making an already tense situation much tenser. Eren and Armin cast another glance at each other. Something was off, something they didn’t understand. Armin finished his bowl. “Levi, would it be alright if I took some of this with me for lunch tomorrow? I don’t have a lunch break on my Tuesday-Thursday classes.” Levi nodded, “Of course, I have a thermos you can take it in if you don’t have one.” Silence returned. Armin had tried and Eren secretly thanked him but to him, this was obviously about their fight and both men were angry with them.

Eren finished his soup shortly after and Levi reached over to take it. Eren stopped him, grabbing his wrist before he could even really think about what he was doing. Armin held his breath as Eren’s eyes widened. He knew Eren didn’t mean to do that and he was also about to just vomit words, words that could get them in more trouble. Levi’s face was hurt, “You don’t want anymore? You always…want more. Was it bad?” Eren turned to Levi and his brain just shut down, mouth opening to expel the first words it could, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I signed up to be the research patient.” Erwin dropped his spoon in the bowl jarring Armin and making him jump. Levi’s face scrunched up and then when he understood what Eren had said he became livid, “YOU DID WHAT?!” Levi dropped everything squaring off his shoulders with Eren.

Eren’s eyes could not have gotten any wider but they appeared to have done that from where Armin was sitting, Eren’s voice was small and sounded like child who’d been caught after the fact, “That’s what Hanji wanted to talk to you about. They were supposed to tell you that today…and then everything else happened. Please, please don’t be angry.” Levi was blood red, “Fucking shitty ass mother fucking glasses didn’t tell me that today. You,” He pointed at Eren, “should have been the ONLY one who told me that. No them, not anyone else. What the fuck is wrong with you? Do you have any idea the shit we will need to do to you? No, Eren, NO! I refuse to hurt you!” Levi went behind the counter bending down and slamming the thermos down he found on the counter. He turned, turning the pot off, before he turned the oven light off.

Levi walked off towards the foyer but he stopped abruptly, turning on his heel to face Erwin who’d continued to stare at his empty bowl of stew, “YOU.” Levi’s voice was more emotional than Eren had ever heard it, other than when he was dying at the foot of those stairs he was about to take. “You, you fucking knew. Didn’t you?” Erwin’s shoulders tensed, his head turned, “I did.” Levi looked like he could kill him right there. Armin moved away ever so slightly towards the corner of the booth. Eren was still so shocked his mouth hung open as he watched how intensely Levi glared at Erwin. “You should have told me.” Erwin stood up, “You’re the one who started keeping secrets.” Erwin’s voice stung. Armin and Eren were incredibly stressed as both men looked ready to pull each other’s jugulars out. Armin’s headache was back and Eren tried to think of ways to make this somewhat better. “Levi, do you-“ Whatever Eren was going to say died on his tongue when he shot him an equally harsh glare, “It’s not about you. This is between Erwin and I. I’m fucking pissed off, Eren, don’t think that isn’t true. But you two aren’t the only ones who are going to have it out today.” Armin nearly successfully wedged himself in the crease of the booth at that statement.

Erwin turned to Eren, “HA!” Erwin’s eyes were malevolent as he turned on his heel towards Eren, “I’m sure that this won’t come as a surprise to you,” Levi moved forward, “Don’t you dare” Erwin continued despite the warming, “But, Levi has been offered a fellowship in France for a year and will be leaving.” Levi grabbed Erwin’s shirt, both hands fisting at the material, pushing him back against the island. Erwin’s hands went to his wrists, he brought his knee up, pushing it against the inside of Levi’s thigh as Levi pressed down, teeth barred, “You bastard!” Levi freed one wrist, rearing back before throwing his fist. It met Erwin’s jaw as the knee he had pressed to Levi’s thigh moved up to his hip bone with an intense amount of pressure causing Levi to double over slightly but long enough for Erwin to return the blow. Levi moved, grabbing Erwin’s waist and using his low center of gravity to knock him off balance. Erwin’s arms found his shoulders, sliding around like a vice. Levi managed to throw Erwin on the floor before Erwin kicked his leg out from under him causing him to fall and join him, each pounding on one another regardless of their position.

Eren moved behind Levi as Armin came from the side, each getting hit in the process but neither cared. They needed to separate their lovers and get some answers or at least calm things down. Eren had Levi off of Erwin but he had to wrap his arms and legs around him like an octopus in order to not be thrown off and allow him to go back to Erwin. Armin had jumped on Erwin once Levi was gone. Erwin sat up as Armin straddled his waist pulling his face to his pleading with him to calm down.

Both men calmed down as Eren and Armin worked them. When Armin thought there wouldn’t be another explosion he suggested they all move to the sitting room and talk. Levi said there was nothing to talk about but Eren pleaded with him and he relented. In the sitting room Levi and Erwin glared at each other and Armin and Eren found themselves awkwardly working together just mere hours after they had said horrible things to one another. Erwin’s diplomatic voice broke them out of their revelation. “Well, are we just going to sit and stare at each other?” Levi didn’t move, blink, breath, anything. It was like he had turned to stone. Another tense moment passed before he cleared his throat, “I didn’t tell anyone about France because I don’t know if I’m going.” Eren’s stomach clenched, Levi was thinking about leaving for a whole year, “What is the offer?” Levi sighed, “A yearlong fellowship at Pierre and Marie Curie University. My research was nominated by an advisor of the medical school here at the university and I do not know if I will take it or not.” Erwin’s eyes narrowed, “But you have to decide by the end of this week, Sunday. That’s four days. The fellowship will begin as soon as your classes finish this May. We wouldn’t even have been living in this house full time yet and you’d be leaving Eren only eight months in to your relationship. You’re cruel.” Levi’s neck twitched, growing red again, he bit out, “I was weighing the pros and cons.”
Erwin countered, “You didn’t tell me. ME, Levi. You didn’t tell me.”
”We had just closed on the house.”
”Did you tell Eren?”
”No! I didn’t and you know I wouldn’t have in September. I was happy, too happy. I thought he’d…”
”Leave?”
”Yeah. I didn’t want to lose him.”
”But, then you found out he was invested and you still-“
”I told no one but Hanji and that’s because they were the point of contact. They found out after receiving my acceptation letter. They’ve just been-”
”Hanji knew but not me, Levi.”
”I never thought I’d be accepted and It’s not like I purposely,”
”I have always told you EVERYTHING.
”I WAS ON THE FENCE!”
Erwin’s words were spiteful; “A fence is a fine place to rest but let me remind you that a fence will eventually turn into a spike.”

Erwin’s fingers fisted at the material of his pants as Levi’s eyes became hard, “We got the house, we met them,” Levi motioned to Eren and Armin, “things changed and I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave you, Erwin. But then I started thinking about it, you and Armin were so happy too, if I had to then at least you’d be with Armin and you two could look after Eren for me.” Erwin grabbed a throw pillow, squeezing it, his voice was hoarse, a loud whisper, “We promised. We said we’d never live apart. A month or even two months, that’s fine. But you remember what it was like after we got back, when I was here and you were in New York it didn’t work. We hated it, couldn’t cope and everyone around us knew it.” Levi’s eyes watered, “But now we have them.” His voice was so small, Armin and Eren’s heart hurt for them. They understood the feeling.

Levi’s eyes were blood shot, he looked at Eren. Eren met his gaze shyly; it looked like Levi was staring into his soul. Erwin shook his head, “But they didn’t sign up for this. They didn’t sign up for a dysfunctional relationship like this. We tell them, we tell them now and then we move on from there.” Erwin grasped Armin’s hand tightly before sighing and continuing, “I don’t want you to go, Levi. I don’t care how selfish that sounds; I am a selfish man. I don’t want you to leave and I don’t want to keep secrets from them. Not after what I heard today.” He released Armin’s hand before crossing his arms.

Armin reached over. Gently touching Erwin’s arm as he was shook. Levi covered his mouth with his hand. He removed his hand turning to Eren and then finding a place on the floor to stare at. He opened his mouth and in a blunt and desperate manner he quickly managed out words that took Armin and Eren quite a while to understand as if syntax has been destroyed, “Erwin and I were taken hostage in Gaza. We were held for almost seven months in horrible conditions. His arm and my leg were injured before we were captured and I had to perform surgery on both of us, after being nearly mutilated by rushed and unskilled doctors, in our cell with just my first aid kit that I managed to smuggle in. That’s why we were officially discharged, injury. But really, it was just a cover up for negligence. We were given bad information, our gear was damaged and flawed, our points of contact were actually undercover operatives that hadn’t been properly cleared, the list literally goes on for pages. We lost everyone, 57 in total and we were all that was left alive lying under the rubble after a warehouse explosion. I lost two of my closest friends from back home. They were in the gang I ran in New York and they only entered to follow me. They were only 18.”

Both Eren and Armin were speechless. Erwin decided to continue, “Levi saved my life.” Levi interjected, “No, Erwin saved mine. I owe Erwin everything. He gave me a chance, taught me how to be a person again after how I’d grown up and I learned to trust him implicitly.” Erwin smiled slightly, “But Levi really did save my life more times than I can count. We lived in a cell for months being tortured, abused, starved, sexually assaulted, and more. He helped me fight, he helped me not give up hope, saved my mind from rotting in that environment, he’s the reason we got out. I can’t rest without him near me. I can’t imagine being apart from Levi. When I heard you two fighting I was stunned because I understood what you were fighting about. It’s the same fight we’ve had over and over for these last three years and even in some way before the hostage situation. Even in training we were inseparable, a team. He’s my brother, my comrade, my anchor when I’m out on treacherous waters. I wouldn’t be the person you need, Armin, without him.” Armin smiled weakly, overcome with emotion, “So, that’s what you meant.” Erwin nodded before turning to face him, “If y’all want to leave, we won’t blame you. You didn’t sign up for this. I’m never going to leave Levi, never going to live apart from him, never going to give up on our friendship.”

Eren sat up, he burst into laughter, “After everything you heard you’re telling us we can leave? We’re in the same situation, Erwin. It’s y’all we were worried about telling us to get the hell out. We didn’t think there was any way you or anyone else would ever understand this…need.” Levi had missed the conversation, his eyes flicked between Armin and Eren, wheels turning. Erwin ran his hands through his hair, "We met y'all it was like our worlds suddenly became brighter but also more complicated. We had a plan for how we were going to live our lives, I’m sure that’s what y’all had yet to create but after today you were on that same track. Our plan, well: We would buy a house, live together, date others, eventually we'd adopt and raise children together, and live out our days as best friends and co-parents. Finding one night stands and such wouldn't be hard. We never thought we'd find two people who we both liked or who wanted to get involved with us like that. The jealousy would be insane if they were not secure with themselves or the relationship between Levi and I. Most people would assume a poly-amorous relationship would be ideal but we don't want our partners to have a separate intimate relationship with the other one. We would be open to sex together, in the same room, but I honestly wouldn't be able to stand it if Levi was sleeping with my partner. It's weird, complicated, emotional, and too much to ask of people. The plan made it simple and manageable. And then you two came along and our plan just got derailed a bit and then strained. We started spending all of our time with y'all, which we both enjoy doing, but we never talked about the important things in our immediate future and we neglected each other, sounded like you two were doing the same thing. How interesting is it that we’d all end up like this?” Erwin mused as leaned back into the couch and Armin shuffled closer.

Levi’s brow furrowed, “I’m out of the loop. Are you saying you have a similar relationship with Armin?” His eyes pierced through Eren, “Uh well, yeah.” Levi’s face was unreadable, “You knew?” Erwin held his hands up, “I heard them in the living room. I didn’t have time to break it all down to you so I just told you they were fighting.” Levi still looked suspicious, “You didn’t tell me because the fight was too similar to ours.” Erwin shrugged, “Perhaps. I was still angry after finding out that morning you were still considering the offer.” Levi’s leg bounced, “You opened my email, Erwin. You crossed the line.” Erwin looked unapologetic, “It wouldn’t have come to that if you had just been honest. Do you think I don’t know when you’re hiding something from me? I’m sorry, it was wrong. But, I don’t regret it.”

Eren fidgeted with the tassel of one of the throws before Armin’s sweet voice cut through the thick atmosphere, “But, this is kind of humorous. We were all worried about the same thing and it turns out that we don’t have to be. We can just keep being like we were; actually we can be even closer. I don’t have to worry about crawling into bed with Eren and what that could mean to Levi and his relationship and vice versa. Actually, this is the best possible situation we could have ever found ourselves in.” Eren smiled, enthused, “Yeah, talk about luck. I’ve been so worried about over stepping my boundaries and pissing Erwin off that I’ve not been able to relax.” Erwin frowned, “I’m sorry, Eren. If it’s any consolation, I’ve felt the same way.” Erwin attempted a smile. Levi continued to soak it all in.This could work, we could do this with them.

Levi cleared his throat, “Why are you two so close? I missed the fight.” Armin’s mouth formed a thin line as he looked to Eren for guidance. Eren studied the floor like it was the best thing he’d ever seen until Armin said his name. He perked up, “Do you wanna talk about it?” Armin shrugged, “They’ve told us their story. We should do this and do it right. That starts with being honest.” Armin sat back into the couch, crossing his legs, before clutching one of the decorative soft satin pillows. Eren began, “Armin and I were always close, he lived with me, I was his protector. He accepted me even though I was severely socially inept. People liked me and I never understood why but I knew I was lucky because, humans are disgusting creatures. Animals kill because they are hungry or threatened. They cast out runts because they are too weak to live to adulthood. They have rules and they’re harsh but they make sense. Humans are the only species that kills for sport, bonds by picking on those weaker than them, and they are the most confusing emotionally. I’d see them be so nice to me, fight for my attention, include me in things that I didn’t want them to include me in like parties and prom. Then they would turn around and beat the shit out of Armin, make up rumors and play mean pranks on him. He was bullied viciously, relentlessly. I used to demand that we were kept in the same home room and classes to watch over him. We were in clubs together, not just because we wanted to be but because I could protect him and he could clue me in on social etiquette. I’ve come so far but there are still instances where someone will describe a feeling they have and I haven’t got a clue what they are talking about.” Eren looked over to Armin, “I’m rambling. Please, help me.”

Armin clutched the pillow tighter, “Things got worse as we got older. I started self harming because I couldn’t cope with the issues with my parents, my living situation, and the kids at school. When I was 14 about to be 15 things started looking up. I started dating this guy who was a senior and on the football team. Jean and Eren were on the fence about him but he was the first person to take an interest in me other than them and in the beginning he was so nice to me. Turned out he was just dating me to take advantage of me and embarrass me by talking about me to his friends or exploiting me in school. He crossed the line a lot, sexually and Eren had to pick me up on the side of the road more than once. He broke up with me at a party, it was just…I don’t want to go into all the details of that but that night I tried to kill myself.”

Armin paused to look at Eren who only nodded and shut his eyes, “I found Armin in my basement, hanging from a rafter, electrical cord around his neck and he had clawed at his neck trying to keep it from killing him and I just couldn’t move fast enough. Somehow, I got him down, screaming for my dad who wasn’t home because he’d been called in to work. Armin was bloody from the deep scratches on his neck and was coming in and out of consciousness. I had to resuscitate him a few times. You can still see the scars sometimes when he’s really tan. I hate them because they stare at me, they remind me that I should have been there at home with Armin but I cared about getting my dick sucked by Jean more and left him alone. I cleaned Armin up best I could, called my mother and she brought us to my father’s office and stitched him up. It wasn’t the last time. His parents berated him about being gay every time they came home and there were other attempts. My father put him on anti depressants and mood stabilizers. Nothing did the trick till his grandfather moved in full time and his parents left for almost a year. It gave us time to heal. I almost lost my best friend. We’ve spent almost every day together since childhood and the longest we’ve been apart was a month when I went to Turkey for a funeral and it was torture.”

Erwin and Levi soaked it all in, obviously stunned that the sensible Armin, the one who climbed in a pool to hide in below freezing temperature and then shot a man point blank had had done such but everyone had their weak moments. “You think I’m weak, don’t you Erwin?” Armin’s voice was pitiful. Erwin moved, grabbing Armin towards him, “You? No, I don’t. I think you had weak moments, God knows I’ve had plenty. I mean I am a bit shocked. I can tell Levi is too after how hard you fought to live just two weeks ago. I’m sorry you went through all of that.” He kissed Armin’s temple wrapping his arms around him while Levi sat completely still chewing his lip. While Eren moved to make himself more comfortable.

They all sat in silence for a few long minutes until Levi stood up, “I have a long day tomorrow. I think it’s time we all went to bed.” Eren moved to get up, “Your right, we should finish this tomorrow.” Erwin cradled Armin bridal style as they all made their way to the stairs, Levi turned off the lights after putting the stew away and Eren waited by the foot of the steps for him. Eren took his hand in his as they went to their bedroom and through their normal routine. Eren snuggled down in the covers, listening to Blues Kna’ani over the speaker system, trying to understand the words he was sure Levi knew by heart. When Levi joined him his body was cold, skin covered in goose bumps. Eren turned to face him, “Levi, where is your shirt? You’re freezing.” Levi’s hand came up to cradle the side of Eren’s face tenderly. “Why did they nominate me?” Eren’s brow furrowed, “For the award?” Levi’s eyes were searching, “Yes, why did they nominate me?” His voice was rough and it made Eren’s heart flutter.

Eren gave it some thought before answering, “Well, if I was Armin, I’d probably say it was a trap.” Levi moved closer, “And what does Eren think?” Eren moved, nibbling the tip of Levi’s thumb that rested by the corner of his mouth, “I’d say he’s probably right and if not, then you were nominated because you are the smartest most talented man in the world and you’re going to save lives. I’d also say maybe they sent a picture enclosed in the nomination and some French Madame or Monsieur got the hots for you.” Eren smiled wide while Levi traced the corner of his mouth with his thumb. “You’re beautiful, Eren. Everything about you,” Eren blushed as Levi leaned over and kissed him passionately before pulled away, whispering against his lips, “Is it true that you hate people?” Eren’s smile faltered, “Yeah, I have a lot of anger about the way people treat others. I don’t see the point in bullshitting someone, manipulating people for love or money or whatever end goal. I hate the cruel things we can do to one another and I have a really dangerous “justice” complex. I am an eye for an eye kind of guy.” Eren closed his eyes while Levi stroked the side of his face and hair.

Levi held his breath. He’d wanted to ask Eren for so long about what Mikasa had told him. As if sensing it, Eren’s eyes fluttered open, emerald green like the lights of Tel Aviv, predatory, and they peered into the very depths of Levi, anchoring him down at the bottom of that lake where those countless arms had reached for him. “What do you want to ask me Levi?” His voice was fuller and lower than normal. Levi exhaled, “Is that why you, at eight, killed three men? Justice?” Levi’s body tightened waiting for his response. Eren simply closed his eyes snuggling closer to him, “Yes, someone had to do it.” Eren’s faced was contorted, lips pinched, nose wrinkled, corner of his eye tightened, “They were going to kill her and she was just sitting there. She had just given up. No one was going to stop them at that moment. They’d already killed two innocent people. They were animals to me. Animals that had gotten a taste of blood and they needed to be put down.” Levi continued to stroke his hair, “But, Mikasa said she helped you kill the third man?” Eren’s face became even more taunt, “I told her, “If you win, you live. If you lose, you die. If you don't fight, you can't win!” Levi stopped stroking his hair as Eren began to shake, “She told me something once, after Armin was hospitalized, He’d been beaten really bad by a group of that shitty boyfriend’s friends. She held my hand as we sat in the waiting room waiting on my mother to bring him back out, she said “This world is merciless, but it is also very beautiful.” Do you believe that Levi?” Levi pulled Eren into his arms, “I don’t know. I think she’s right. I think I’ve just been in a place where there wasn’t much beauty because you weren’t in it yet.”

Eren kissed him softly, chastely, “If you have to go Levi, then go. I want you to do what is best for you. I’m not going anywhere and I’ll have Armin. I’ll manage.” Levi kissed him breathless; they rocked together betwixt the sheets before Eren fell asleep. Levi laid awake cuddling him and stroking his hair. It was almost dawn when he finally started to succumb to sleep. Before he drifted off he kissed his temple whispering, “I’ll go, Eren. But only for a while.”

Chapter Text

The ride to campus the next morning was quiet as Erwin played soft classical music. Armin tried in vain to get more sleep. He was wrapped snuggly under Erwin’s jacket with the seat warmers on. He loved the cold, but better was the feeling of getting warm in the cold. His nose was red and a little runny. Erwin had pinched it, stating he probably had a cold and needed to get more vitamin C. Armin had bit at Erwin’s fingers, un-amused as Erwin laughed. He looked at Erwin’s strong hands as they deftly kept the wheel still as the ice had continued to become more dangerous over night. “It’s colder than normal.” Erwin mumbled making a turn onto a crowded road. Armin sneezed, “Global warming. “ Armin snuggled down into the seat, his breath forming a tiny cloud as it left his mouth.

Erwin had a personal parking space close to the Command Center as did Levi near the science labs on the other side of campus. Today Armin had a packed schedule and so did Erwin. He was once again going to be his TA, this time also by chance. Erwin swore he snooped finding out which classes he’d be in charge of, but that simply wasn’t the case. Their tastes were just too similar. Erwin gathered Armin in his arms when they were both out of the car. He kissed him on the forehead, “You’re sick. Go to the doctor. I’ll see you in Medieval Europe and then Middle Eastern II. After that I need to speak with president Zackley about some things.” Armin snuggled closer, “It’s just a cold. You can be my doctor.” Erwin chuckled as Armin snuggled closer, hands fisting into his thick sweater, “I have a shift at the book store after Middle Eastern till 6. Will you pick me up?” Erwin chuckled, “Yeah, baby. I’ll be there.” Armin kissed Erwin’s cheek; he didn’t want him catching his cold before he tried to run off with Erwin’s jacket. Erwin’s face lit up in feigned outrage, “Armin, I’ll freeze!” Armin reluctantly handed it back to him, “That’s cruel, daddy.”

Eren had a lab that morning and afterwards he was going to meet with Hanji and go over how their research would continue. He had thought about asking Marco, but didn’t because he was scared about how Jean would react. It didn’t matter, as long as they had him they could proceed. He rode with Levi, hands locked together as Levi cursed the inclement weather. When they got in the parking lot Levi turned off the car, removed his seat belt and crawled over into Eren’s lap.

Their lips moved against each other sloppily, teeth scraping against lips, panting for air as hands roamed. Levi ground down onto Eren’s lap causing him to cry out as his hands fisted in the undercut of his hair. Levi was dominating; he was everywhere and then nowhere. Eren was dazed as he felt the seat belt loosen and Levi’s lips move to his neck, sucking the skin. He felt his teeth tear into the soft skin of his neck dangerously close to his jugular. Eren whined as Levi continued to grind down on him. Levi’s hands pinned his arms down by his sides as he left more purple marks on his exposed skin.

They were parked away from the other cars but anyone could see them. Eren felt a surge of excitement. Levi was working him so well, he was whining and moaning, needy and desperate. As always, Levi was on the quieter side, only groaning occasionally and panting when he pulled away from Eren’s lips. Eren wanted more, he moved to tug at Levi’s tight black jeans before his wrists were grasped, “No, not here. Not right now, Eren.” Levi’s voice was aroused but it left no room for arguing. Eren whined, “Leeeeviiiiii, then why? Why do this to me here?” Levi smirked, “I want to ask you a question.” Eren’s head thudded as he let it fall back against the head rest, “Hmm?” Levi’s eyes narrowed, “Where do you go every week?” Eren’s face flushed, “I have to check in on a family friend in Montgomery for my dad.” He prayed Levi let it rest. Levi’s eyes narrowed, “Why?” Eren sighed internally, “He’s sick.” Levi seemed to mull it over as he shifted back to his seat.

Eren’s little problem had disappeared and after feeling the cold air chill his face he was feeling confidant he’d not be in lab with a boner. Levi let Donner out of the back whose tail swished back and forth as he walked alongside them. Levi held Eren’s hand as they entered the lab. On the elevator Levi began questioning him again, “What does he have?” Eren tensed up, Why can’t he let it go? Eren paused, “He’s old. It’s just old age and he has ailments. I go and visit him and he tells me stories and I make sure he’s okay. I learn and he gets to talk to someone.” Levi hummed, “Can I meet him?” Eren panicked, “N-no! He-e’s just set in his ways. He doesn’t like meeting new people and he knows me from when I was a kid. He’s kind of grumpy and mean, honestly. Nothing I’d subject you to.” Eren’s goofy smile made Levi’s heart flutter, “Really? ‘Cause I’m such a fucking ray of sunshine. I think I could handle him.” Eren rocked on his heels, “Compared to him you are a ray of sunshine. He doesn’t like meeting new people.” He lied through his teeth.

Levi left for his class as Eren went to his animal science lab. He found the material challenging but somewhat refreshing. He’d been focusing on Hanji’s research for so long that it showed in the questions he asked his professor. They were very pleased and even assigned him different questions to answer, much to Eren’s chagrin. The lab lasted the full two and a half hours and afterwards he went Hanji’s lab. Molbit was presently cleaning up Hanji’s desk when Eren entered, “Hanji’s in the bathroom. They’ll be out in just a sec.” Molbit smiled at Eren before returning to sorting the paperwork. Eren sat down at the empty rabbit enclosure. No need for them anymore.

Hanji appeared looking ecstatic, “Eren, I’m so glad you’re here. Well, I mean…errr…this is a strange and delicate situation and you are a trooper for allowing me to use you as a test subject. Of course, there will be invasive procedures but we’ll try our best to plan them in advance so you’ll have time to recover. I am interested in seeing if numbing agents can work on you.” Eren’s stomach tightened, “Oh God, they may not.” Hanji nodded their head, “Yes, yes that’s a very likely scenario so let’s try that today. If you can’t stay numb or be put under general anesthesia then you’re going to have to start preparing yourself for being awake for those invasive procedures.” Eren’s started to sweat as Hanji reached for things in her desk.

They produced a needle, rolling over in their chair to where Eren sat. They cleaned the area between his pinky and ring finger with alcohol. “So, I see someone was busy in the parking lot.” Eren blushed, “What?” Hanji threw the swab away meeting their gaze as their hand held the area of skin tightly, “Levi marked the shit out of you.” The stab of the needle drew his focus, “Umm yeah.” Eren could feel his fingers go numb as Hanji rubbed the site of the injection. “Do you feel anything yet?” Eren shook his head. “Let me know when you feel something.” Hanji rubbed and twisted his fingers for almost 10 minutes before he felt anything. “Hmmm well, that’s good and bad. It should have stayed numb for about 45 minutes but at least that means we can use some sort of sedative on you. We just need to check on dose and take time into consideration before we start any procedure.” Eren wasn’t feeling too sure about his miraculous healing patterns when faced with the prospect of being awake while operated on.

After a few more hours of tests, Eren had been successfully pricked, prodded, X-rayed, countless vials of blood drawn, genome mapped or in the process of being mapped. He was worn out. Hanji had his hand tied to the table and kept numbing it as they made incisions. It was possible to do a sort of live viva section on him and this delighted Hanji. They recorded his skin as it came back together. It was in the middle of making a further incision that Levi appeared, “What the fuck are you doing Hanji!?” Hanji squealed in delight as blood started flowing faster in the veins. “I’M RESEARCHING. Come here Levi, you’re much better with a scalpel that I am.” Levi looked like he would get sick, “No, I refuse to cut him. I will not hurt Eren.” Hanji tch’ed, “Levi, he agreed and he’s been numbed. I’ve kept up with the time. Come and take a look at this. You’ll need this for France.” Eren’s eyes widened just a bit, “You accepted it?” Levi nodded, “But, I’m working on something with them.” Hanji sat back, “What do you mean?” Levi shrugged, “Don’t worry about it shit head and take that knife away from my Eren.”

They went over the information Hanji had gathered so far and watched the videos. Levi’s head rested in his hand, elbow propped up on the table, “Brat?” Eren’s was drained, his eyes were heavy, “Yes, sir?” His stomach tightened every time Eren said sir. It drove him crazy and he knew it, that little temptress shit. Levi moved to stand over him as he lay on the couch, “How do you feel?” Eren felt like he weighed as much as a bag of stones, “I’m tired. I can’t explain. It must really take it out of my body, having to heal over and over again. I bet the worse off I am the longer it would take, like in the hospital. I just want to sleep.” Levi nodded grabbing his double breasted black pea coat and draping it over Eren. “Then take a nap.” Levi returned to studying Eren’s blood under the microscope.

Hanji chewed on their pencil, “You’re seriously thinking about not going to France?” Levi shrugged, “I asked to go only for the summer. It’d be three months.” Hanji sighed, “Levi, you’re passing up a great thing.” Levi moved away from his desk running his hands through his hair, “Hanji, I’m not going to get into this with you here. I’ll go for the summer semesters and if they won’t let me then I won’t go. I’ll continue to work here and we’ll publish this together, just like we planned. It isn’t fair that I take credit for this and you not be included.” Hanji removed their goggles and let their hair down. They always looked stunning like this, eyes bright, skin smooth and creamy like peach ice cream, and pouty lips. Levi had more than once pondered their indescribable beauty. “I didn’t make something that could save lives, Levi. I still get to publish my work with Sonny and Bean because I did discover a hot virus. I am set. I’m established, but this is for you. This is how your legacy begins. Don’t worry about me. Now, it’s time to go home. Take Eren to get something to eat and make sure he stays hydrated. His little love bites have disappeared so make some more but be sure to record your findings.” They raised and lowered their eyebrows suggestively as the leaned back in their chair, hand resting on their abdomen and a faint smile.

Eren woke up as he was being strapped in the car. “Where are we going?” Levi shut the door walking around to the other side. “We’re going to meet Erwin and Armin for dinner, go back to the house and get our things and then come back to the dorms.” Inside the car it became warm and Eren started feeling more like himself. “What if I don’t want to sleep in the dorm tonight?” Eren asked playfully. Levi turned out of the parking lot a lopsided grin on his face, “Well, we could stay the night at the house by ourselves. Erwin at least needs to go and officially relieve Jean and Marco. Got something planned?” His eye brow rose playfully. Eren chuckled, “Maybe.” Levi grinned, “I’ll be sure to make this work.”

Levi’s phone rang, normally he’d use his blue tooth but he instead answered it. Eren waited, hearing the other person’s muffled voice. Then Levi started speaking in French and Eren knew it was about the fellowship. He tried his best not to feel upset but the thought of Levi being away for a year really saddened him. Levi’s voice was smooth, polished, and sensual. Eren could listen to him speak in French forever. He was curious what his Hebrew sounded like since he’d only ever heard him say basic prayers for Shabbat. He went back and forth with the person for a while before hanging up. Eren reached over taking his hand, “Your voice is the most beautiful sound in the world.” Levi’s cheeks became pink, “At kol kakh yafa” (you’re so beautiful) his words were mumbled under his breath but Eren heard them. He laughed, “Toda, Levi. Milim lo yekholot letaer et ha`ahava sheli elekha.” (Words cannot describe my love for you) Levi’s breath caught in his chest, “Eren, how did you learn that?” Eren’s face flushed, “A movie…was it wrong?” Levi’s world was spinning, “No…no, it was correct. Just, well, unexpected.” Eren twiddled his thumbs. He wanted to change the subject. He felt like a child with its hand in the cookie jar.

;Luckily, they pulled up to the restaurant before Levi started questioning him further. The restaurant was upscale but once they entered it had a more relaxed atmosphere, brick walls, fire places, red patent leather booths, and dark wood table tops. Levi walked up checking in their party as Armin and Erwin appeared from the bar room. Armin had a Shirley Temple whereas Erwin had a pint of dark beer. Erwin smiled as they approached and Armin slipped over to stand with Eren who stole sips of his drink before the waitress took them to their seats.

They were taken to a more private area and sat in a plush booth near the fire place. Armin and Eren sat together nearest the fire place. Both still very tired. Armin turned to Eren, “How was lab and…you know?” Eren told him all about the lab and his teacher’s sadistic kindness. The research was a little less detailed because he knew it made Levi upset but he didn’t want to have to tell Armin in stages, not after all that had happened recently. Levi ordered a beer while Erwin spoke about his classes he was in charge of. He also said that he’d had a meeting with Zackley and there was talk that once he graduated his Ph.D program he could become the vice president of the university. Armin seemed to be excited and Levi even managed a small smile. Of course, Erwin said it all relied on the council and how they felt about him but Zackely felt that since they had elected his father they would more than likely elect him. It was a little more than 4 years away but that wasn’t too long, in the grand scope of things. At 30 he could be the youngest vice president that the university had had, a professor, published author, and the continuation of the Smith legacy. Things were certainly looking brighter than they had been.

When it came time to order, both Armin and Eren ordered everything but the kitchen sink amusing both Erwin and Levi. Levi teased, “I didn’t realize someone as small as you could eat that much, Armin.” Armin smirked, tone playful, “Sometimes,” Armin leaned across the table, voice a whisper, “I get real hungry, Levi.” Eren snickered as Erwin blushed before finishing his second beer. “Eren and I are going to stay at the house tonight.” Erwin winked, “Okay, well, I think Armin and I will probably stay tomorrow night, if that’s alright?” Levi shrugged, “I don’t care what you do, dirty old man.” Erwin feigned hurt, “You’re the same age. That’s so hurtful.” Levi snickered, “I don’t look my age. You do.” Erwin slapped Levi’s arm, something Eren and Armin had never seen before as Levi’s smile became wide. He hide it behind his beer as their food was served.

When it was time for desert Levi cleared his throat garnering the attention of the table, “I’m going to France, but only for three months. They called and agreed to my terms. It’ll be all of May, June, and July. I’ll be back on August 3rd, B’ezrat HaShem.” (With God’s help) Eren’s heart soared, he’ll be gone only three months. Erwin smiled, “That’s great, Levi. I guess Eren can come with Armin and me in June to see you. It’ll be only two months that we’ll all be apart then. Eren’s ears turned red, “You don’t have to bring me along on y’alls trip. I can go on my own.” Levi interrupted, “Actually, you’re coming with me anyway. You’re my research…I found a nice loop hole last night when thinking things over so I sent them an email after you woke up and took a shower. That’s what they were calling about, agreeing to the shortening of the fellowship and the added stipend for my research to travel and stay with me.” Levi’s eyes were bright, his face smug but he was trying to suppress it. Erwin didn’t bother trying to suppress how delighted he was. “Levi, that’s wonderful! L’chaim!” They clinked their beers together as Eren laughed.

Armin smiled but otherwise he stayed silent. Erwin’s eyes studied him, “Baby, you don’t seem so excited.” Armin opened his mouth and then closed it. “What is it, baby? Just say it?” Armin took a deep breath, “I don’t want to be a Debbie downer,” He mumbled picking his nails, “But, I think this is a-“ Levi cut in, “A trap. Yes, Eren said you’d think that.” Erwin nodded, “And if it is then we’re ready.” Eren and Armin perked up, “You don’t think I already thought that? I find out Levi’s offered a fellowship in France and then I conveniently receive money for my own trip there for research that could be done at any other time during this year?” Armin’s eyes widened his voice full of amusement, “You made sure the times would overlap. How did you do that?” Erwin smirked, “You’re not the only one with heightened skills of manipulation.” Levi gave Erwin a pleased look, “I knew something was up, you old shit. I thought the same thing about it being a trap but I was prepared to take on whatever came by myself.” Eren exchanged looks with Armin, before Eren cut in, “We’re all ridiculous. Well, let’s hope this is all legit and not a trap. I’d like to sunbathe on the beaches without worrying about being chopped up by psychos.” They all agreed as the checks were brought out and paid.

When they got to the house Armin and Erwin fetched their already packed things and bid Eren and Levi farewell. Armin gave Eren a hug before giving him a kiss on the cheek. Eren’s hands ran up and down his back and he hummed rocking them slightly before Armin had to go. They were still trying to say sorry to each other after all of the horrible things they’d said the other day. It would take time but they would be fine. They were finally able to not worry and just be. It was calm and relaxing now, where before it had been like playing with matches never knowing when you’d be burned.

On their way back to the dorms Erwin took a longer route than normal despite the roads. Armin snuggled in his jacket like that morning, letting the scent envelop him. Erwin chewed his lip, “Paris is a nice place. Have you been?” Armin shook his head, “No, I’ve never been anywhere.” Erwin hummed, “I think there is another reason Levi’s going to study there.” Armin waited for him to continue, “Like?” Erwin’s features were illuminated by the stripes of moonlight that were coming through the clouds, “I think he wants to go back to the Jewish Quarter where he was born. I’m worried he’ll run into someone there. I’m worried that’s why he wants to go back there.” Armin understood, “So, we should go with him. We’ll go down to Paris for a long weekend and we’ll stay with him and Eren and that’s when we’ll all go.” Erwin’s fingers danced on the wheel, “You’re great, baby. You’re perfect.” Armin smirked, “Yeah, tell me something I don’t know.” Erwin chuckled darkly, “Someone’s feeling feisty.” Armin turned up the music on his Ipod he had connected to Erwin’s car:


I want to fuck you
But I'm too repressed
I want to suck you
But I can't take off my dress
I want to fuck you
But I'm too repressed
I want to suck you
But I can't take off my dress
Oh good luck to you

Erwin laughed, “So explicit.” Armin smirked, “Sometimes you gotta be explicit. It’s artistic expression, Erwin. It can’t be dirty if it’s art.” Erwin’s eyes were playful when they found Armin’s in the rear view mirror, “Do you think we’re too sexual?” Armin let out a breathy laugh, his baby blue eyes holding Erwin’s, “I don’t think we have sex enough, actually.” Erwin chuckled, caught off guard a little, “You should have said something.” He mumbled, blushing. Armin shrugged, “I didn’t want you think I was only interested in you for your body.” Erwin smiled, blushing more, “I feel like I’ve let my baby down.” Armin shook his head, “No, there’s still time to right this wrong. You can devote your heart to the cause and fuck me every day till we’re old and grey.” Erwin burst into laughter, “Sounds about like what they told us at basic training, “Devote your hearts to America as she fucks you sea to shining sea.” Armin moved to take Erwin’s hand, “Thank you, Erwin. Thanks for all that you do. I can’t wait to go to France with you.” Erwin gripped his hand tighter, “I can’t either. But, what will Marco and Jean do while we’re gone?” Armin shrugged, “Feed the cat and live in a mansion. I think they’ll be fine.” They were now at the dorm, they sat in the parking lot for the first time without feeling that horrible sense of foreboding and it was nice.

The house was quiet without the sound of the TV or radios from Erwin and Armin or Marco and Jean. Levi went downstairs at Eren’s behest and grabbed a glass of white wine Erwin had put in the chiller. Levi was still upset about watching Hanji go full blown “science” mode on Eren. Being detached was necessary in most cases but how could Levi ever be detached when it came to Eren? Donner searched for Commander around the room as he waited. It was like he’d forgotten that the cat was back at the dorm. He threw his tennis ball, successfully distracting him as Levi roamed the main floor. The security system was on from when Erwin and Armin left. It still didn’t make him feel safe but that was nothing new.

When you’ve been to war, when you’ve killed others, when it was your mission to sneak into places unnoticed, this all culminated into one explicit realization that you were never safe. If someone wanted to hurt you, they will hurt you. Levi finished his glass and started another. Erwin had warned him that they both needed to stop drinking so heavily before bed. It was a coping method, get drunk and maybe the nightmares wouldn’t be so bad. Levi removed his coat, laying it on the hooks beside the door. There was a slight creak of the door opening upstairs. Levi looked up expecting to see Eren but instead he saw nothing. “Come on up, Levi.” Eren’s voice was slightly higher, playful, and teasing. Levi turned to climb the stairs.

The closer he got to the room the more he smelled smoke. Levi’s pace quickened, he opened the door and his mouth fell open. Sitting in the chaise lounge was a beautiful woman, tan skin, long brown hair with bangs. She wore an emerald silk night dress with matching shawl. She held a cigarette between her long fingers delicately as her plump glossy pink lips parted around it. The faint orange light from the burning paper drew Levi’s eyes. She crossed her legs revealing black stockings and black heels. In fact, the over-all look was very France circa 1930s in his opinion.

Eren’s eyes were shinning as he removed the cigarette slowly, allowing the smoke to billow over his lips and out his nose in a sensual wave of grey. Eren smirked coyly, head tilting to the side, he sang, “Je vous connais, Milord. Vous n'm'avez jamais vue. Je ne suis qu'une fille du port. Qu'une ombre de la rue...” (I know you, my lord. You’ve never seen me. I’m just a girl from the docks, just a shadow from the street. ) Levi was incredibly aroused, “Voulez-vous parler français?”(Do you want to speak French?) Eren smiled devilishly, “Vous? Comment informelle, Levi.”(You? How formal, Levi.) Levi started towards the chaise lounge, “Non, non, non, mon cher. Vous connaissez moi mais je ne vous pas connais.” (No, no, no, my sweet. You know me, but I do not know you.) Levi smiled, eyes clouded with arousal. His fists clenched and unclenched in anticipation.

Levi moved to touch Eren, his fingers slipped under the shawl touching something underneath. He bent down closer, his free hand finding purchase on Eren’s satin covered knee. He rubbed it, pushing the slick further up as his other hand slipped down to cup Eren’s chest. He pinched slightly at the nubile skin exposed just above the top of the stalking before he received a firm slap to the face. Eren moved up off the lounge as Levi rubbed his face, eyes bright and shocked, he could taste blood. Eren moved towards the fire place, hips swaying sensually, “Ou’es-tu? Un gangster?” (What are you? A gangster?) Eren’s hands lifted up the silken fabric as he walked back wards revealing his knees and the top of his tan thighs. The garter strap teased Levi as he stalked forward, slowly as to not spook this almost too good to believe apparition before him.

Eren tossed the shawl on the bed, removing the satin gown and revealing the complex lingerie beneath. Levi’s breath hitched. He wanted nothing more than to trace the bare skin of this Parisian delight before him with his tongue. Eren moved forward, heels clicking with each step; he was so close to Levi he could smell him, anemones and channel number 5. It made his blood boil. “Mon petite gangster,” Eren’s voice crooned as he stopped mere inches from Levi, their lips so close they could feel each other’s breath on them, “Que mes baisers soient les mots d'amour que je ne te dis pas.”(Let my kisses be the words I don’t say) Eren kissed Levi quickly, tentatively, before moving out of the hold Levi was about to pull him in to.

Eren’s musical laughter spurred Levi on, “Tu me rends fou.” Eren moved away again, “Tu me fais bander.” (You’re driving me crazy. You’re making me hard.) Eren snickered, “Tres bien, mon gangster.” Eren moved on to the bed, removing the bra and slowly taking off the underwear while Levi stood at the foot of the bed watching. Eren had prepared already and Levi’s mouth watered when he started playing with himself. Eren’s long fingers disappeared inside of him as he moaned, lit cigarette almost finished, he took another long drag before letting the smoke out through his parted lips as he sank down on himself.

Levi grasped the sheets of the bed watching Eren’s ministrations. He wanted nothing more than to devour him. Levi was at his breaking point, “Eren, s’il te plait. Tu vas me détruire!” (Eren, please. You will destroy me.) Eren laughed breathily as he removed his fingers. “Oui, Milord. Prends-moi. Prends-moi par derrière.” (Yes, my lord. Take me. Take me from behind.) Levi crawled on the bed, removing his shirt and taking his pants off with Eren’s help. He devoured his mouth; his tongue swiping insistently at Eren’s lower lip, entering and dominating Eren till he was whining for more. Levi’s hands raked up his thighs making him twitch. He gave his bottom a firm slap making him mewl from pleasure.

Eren cried out as Levi’s fingers came inside of him, searching and diving deeper than before. His legs shook and coursed with raw pleasure as Levi removed the small stub of cigarette, taking one last drag. He kept eye contact with Eren the entire time only to force his mouth open and push the smoke inside with his tongue. Eren had never experienced something as erotic and his mind shut down. When he was released he cried out, “Baises moi, s’il te plait, s’il te plait.” (Fuck me, please, please.) Levi didn’t need to be told twice as he pushed Eren on his hands and knees and took him in one smooth motion.

It was tight and hot inside and Levi felt alive. He felt like Eren was made for him, made him complete and healed him somehow. He knew Eren like it rough and they were both so close before they began that holding off was pointless. He pushed Eren into the mattress aiming for his special spot. Eren cried out when he hit it and he made it his goal to continue to hit it every time head on.

The closer they got, the more heat that pooled in Levi’s stomach, made him want to flip Eren over so he could watch him come undone. He pulled out, a whine escaping Eren as he did so, before he turned him on his back. His legs opened wider to take Levi back in; his hands searched for purchase on his shoulders and biceps as Levi began thrusting again. They kissed each other desperately as they neared the end. Levi couldn’t help it when Eren pushed back down on him with more force than normal, he started to come. Eren still needed something to push him over the edge. Instead of stroking him, Levi surprised himself when his hands went to Eren’s throat, applying just enough pressure to the sides. Eren’s pupils dilated further, his face flushed and his body shook from delight and pleasure. He came with just a few more thrusts. Both collapsed, riding out their orgasms and basking in the warmth of the fire.

After a few long moments, Levi pulled out of Eren moving off the bed to the small bedside table. He opened the drawer, pulling out a pack of Israeli cigarettes. He lit one taking a deep breath before lying down next to Eren on the sheets and passing it to him, “Shitty brat, you shouldn’t smoke inside. It’ll saturate the fabrics with smell and stain the walls with nicotine. Eren laughed heartily as he passed the cigarette back, “Is that why we’re smoking now?” The corner of Levi’s lip twitched, “Well, you already broke the rule, it’s not gunna do more damage to do it just this once.” Eren smiled, “Rebel.” He felt Levi’s hands in his hair, the wig still attached, “Gangster, actually, and don’t you forget it.” His hands tightened and he pulled Eren into another bruising kiss full of smoke and passion. “I’m going to fuck you again through those panties so you better put them back on and grab that shawl, too.” Eren grinned despite himself before crawling away to do just that.

The next two weeks went by in much the same fashion except that Armin started to feel worse. His cold kept thoroughly annoying him throughout the day but at night it was insufferable. Every few minutes he was wracked with coughs, his nose was useless because it was so stuffed up, and a small fever set in giving him chills and sweats. He started losing the ability to really focus and often just sat or laid for hours without moving. Often at night, he would crawl in bed first, wedging himself against the wall with Erwin’s pillow waiting for him to come to bed and keep him warm. Erwin did his best to soothe him, picking up vex vapor rubs, cough drops, and a pallet of blue PowerAde Eren had mentioned was his favorite drink, and even a few over the counter remedies and countless pots of homemade soup that Armin had started refusing because he was nauseous. Nothing helped, nothing would ease his suffering.

Marco appeared at the door of Erwin and Armin’s room, covered in stains and smelling like coffee. “Armin?” His voice was tentative as his walked in to find Armin staring at the same word document on his laptop he had open when Marco left five hours ago. “Armin?” Armin turned around in the chair, “Yeah…” Marco’s eyebrows raised, his eyes were wide but he managed to plaster on his same “everything in the world is sunshine and butterflies” smile. “Hey, Armin, let’s go to the doctor.” Armin shook his head, “No” a long pause and gasp for air, “…I…I’m-….frrr” Armin’s voice trailed off into a buzz. Marco moved forward grabbing Armin up in his arms like a paper doll and wrapping him in his blanket. He shook his head, “Yeah, like fuck your fine. Let’s go.” With that Marco carried Armin all the way to the campus med clinic up the hill from their dorm. He would have driven but his car was in the remote parking lot and Armin was sick, really sick.

When Marco entered the crowded waiting room he groaned, “This will take forever” he mumbled as he went up to the counter. Armin was still wrapped in his blanket as Marco gently shifted him in his arms preparing for possible and inevitable paperwork. Marco purposely chose the only female nurse at the counter. Walking up, the cute nurse smiled flirtatiously at him. Well, this is going to work out nicely,he thought to himself approaching the white counter. “Helping a friend out?” Marco smiled back, “Always.” He paused as she gave him a one over. This is great. Marco stood up straighter, hip slightly open so she had a good idea how built he was. His tight fitting blue jeans, brown leather shoes, and tight black work shirt made an impression if her face was anything to judge by, he was cold since he’d forgot his jacket but Armin was more important than that at the time and he knew the chill had brought a rosy color to his cheeks. “I know it’s busy and everything but…my friend is really sick,” Marco leaned down, batting his long lashes and giving the girl and equally flirtatious lopsided grin, his voice was low and oozed with sexuality and a slightly thicker Italian accent, “Is there anything you might be able to do about that?” He winked making her blush.

“Well, let me see his face.” He uncovered Armin and the nurse gasped quietly, “Yes, you should bring him back right now. He’s really ill.” She stood up disappearing until he heard the click of the automatic door opening. “Come this way.” Marco followed her to a room marked “Quarantine” and he groaned again, “Of course, you’d get me drug into this too, Armin. Damn.” She gave Marco and apologetic look, “you two will both need to be checked out. Have a seat and a nurse will be in shortly.” Marco sat down on the blue patent leather seat cradling a now feverish sleeping Armin, before opening a magazine called “Maria Fisheries Weekly” and settling in for a long night.

Armin’s skin was a strange pink, his eyes glassy, the blue looked a shade of sea green that perplexed yet fascinated Marco, he shook uncontrollably and at one point he was just mumbling a series of words together. It turned out Armin had a case of swine flu which was shocking since that was believe to be contained. Marco had the test run on him and was found to also be infected but there were abnormalities. He asked that they called Dr. Hanji Zoe and refer him to their care. He tried to play off any of the other questions but it was the question of where Armin and Marco were going to go. The university prohibited that they return to the dorm, for that had been the issue with other outbreaks in the past. Marco dialed Erwin’s number waiting anxiously for him to answer.

Erwin answered on the third ring, “Marco? Are you okay?” His voice was panicked, Marco never called him. He texted but never called. “Erwin, listen, we’ve got a situation. Turns out Armin and I have swine flu and as our RA you know we can’t come back to the dorms. I need you to verify that we have a place to stay that is not in the dorm and within a two hour car drive.” Marco’s chipper voice held hidden meaning and Erwin picked up on it asking that the phone be handed to the doctor. After a few minutes they were told to sit tight and that their ride would be there shortly.

Marco called Hanji while they waited. “Hanji?” Hanji sounded tired, “Marco, how are you?” Marco held Armin close as he started fretting in his sleep. His fever was 106.4 and he needed to be watched constantly. “Well, Armin and I both have swine flu and I’m at the doctor’s but it isn’t showing up normal if you catch my drift. I asked to be referred to you since you’re an almost doctor. I also wanted to just stop the questioning. I don’t feel bad, no symptoms, nothing. But Armin is bad off. I’m scared about how sick he is.” Hanji clicked their tongue behind their teeth, “He might need an IV. I’m sure Erwin will want him moved to the house but I’m going to warn you, Marco, if he looks real bad Erwin might have an issue. I know he had a close friend die because they got sick while out on a mission and visible signs of fever and such get to him more than others. So, watch out for that. I’ll get an IV ready and some other stuff and I’ll meet you all at the house. I’m going to call Erwin now and tell him, okay?” Marco agreed and wrapped Armin tighter. His shaky breathing scared Marco and he just hoped Erwin would get there soon.

Marco called Jean who was in the middle of studying with Eren. He insisted that he come pick Marco up but Marco told him that Erwin was on his was and Hanji would handle things. Jean relented and said that after he finished he’d run by the dorm and studio and grab some things for the house studio. If he was going to be sick then he’d take care of him. Marco couldn’t help but smile at Jean trying to be a Susie homemaker and feed him soup in bed.

After about thirty minutes, the same nurse came back, her long red hair was loose and fell over her shoulders. She gave Marco a sweet smile, casually walking over to him and handing him her number. She told him his ride was there and that if he needed a private nurse she would be available. Marco continued to let his father’s Italian charm ooze out of him as he carried Armin out to Erwin’s car.

The girl took stock of the fine Mercedes flashing an even brighter smile to Marco. “Well, cutie, remember if you need me you can call me.” She winked and put her hand on his shoulder. Marco’s impish smile gave Erwin pause as he moved forward to take Armin. “I’ll be sure to have my boyfriend call you if I’m incapacitated. God knows we don’t want him on WebMD.” She removed her hand like she was burned. “Ohhh umm” was her stuttered response as she just ran back inside the clinic. Erwin laughed in surprise, “She looked burned.” Marco winked, “She got burned.” Erwin barked a laugh, “Marco, breaker of hearts.” Marco stepped up to him revealing Armin.

It was a good thing Hanji warned him because Erwin went white as a sheet and stiff as a board at the sight of Armin and how sick he was. He was whining and making frustrated noises like a newborn puppy and his hair was matted down with sweat. Armin’s skin was even more inflamed looking, for that is what his entire body looked like, puffy and inflamed, and the rings around his eyes were darkening. Erwin moved to take him but he looked unsure. “Erwin, its fine, I got him and I’m going to sit in the back with him. Hanji called?” Erwin nodded opening the door and letting Marco in. He drove them to the house, pulling up next to Jean’s and Hanji’s car. Mike was outside knocking the frost off of a porch throw pillow. “Hey, we just got here. Jean let us in.” Erwin and Levi had made keys for the three boys and one for Mikasa since she often volunteered to help with the animals. Apparently, Annie really enjoyed it too and they were trust worthy.

Marco got out holding Armin against him while Erwin stood awkwardly to the side like he was helpless. Mike snorted, “Its gunna be fine, Erwin. I know you just…can’t with this kind of stuff but Hanji’s got a make shift hospital room in the car and we’ll get Armin back in tip-top shape.” Erwin smiled faintly walking them all in as Hanji appeared unusually reserved. “Hey. Marco, I’m going to need blood from you but first let’s look at our little prince as Erwin calls him.” Erwin’s face blushed red, “Hanji…that’s not something you should repeat.” Jean snickered, “Why? He is everyone’s little prince. We’re all gathered around him right now about to stare at his pretty little face. Well, I’m more concerned about my Italian stallion.” Jean winked earning a groan from many in the room. Armin was still passed out and he kept looking worse every time Marco checked on him.

Hanji shook their head, “Nope, nope, nope. This isn’t good. He’s really dehydrated, needs codeine, needs tama flu, and an IV.” Jean moved forward, “He’s allergic to Zythromax and the last time he got flu they gave him tama flu and it was horrible. Is there something else he could take?” Hanji thought to themselves before answering, “No, there isn’t, but it’s a good thing you spoke up. We’ll have to put him on that tama flu but we’ll keep an eye on him. What did it make him do?” Jean grimaced, “It made him expel body fluids constantly. He was so sick Mr. Jaeger kept him in hospital with him and Eren and I took turns sleeping in the room with him while Mikasa kept up with his school stuff.” Hanji tch’ed, “Well, he’s exempt from school while he’s sick and I think that with Erwin’s help he’ll be covered on that. I’m worried now about giving him this but it’s all we have.” Hanji directed everyone upstairs, “Where do you want him, Erwin.” Erwin looked dazed, the question seemed to offend him, “In our room, of course.” Hanji turned to Erwin’s room while Mike went out to get the supplies.

Once set up Hanji, Jean, and Marco came downstairs for his blood work. Hanji really had set up a portable lab, scrutinizing the blood under her microscope. “Hmmm this is really interesting. I’m going to take more samples and compare them to Eren’s as well.” Marco perked up, “You’ve got samples from Eren?” Jean tensed up as Hanji met his gaze, “Eren had offered to be a part of the research. He’s a test subject and I have his DNA and blood at hand.” Marco’s brow furrowed, “Why…I should have been asked to participate.” Jean shifted, “No one asked. He just…volunteered.” Marco turned to Jean biting his lip before returning to Hanji, “I want to participate. It will work better with two of us because that way we can give each other a rest and once can be a control for your theories.” Hanji’s eye’s glistened with moisture. Jean wasn’t sure if it was tears or not. Knowing Hanji, it was probably a lot of things. “That’s wonderful, Marco, really. But take a week to think about it, okay?” Marco shook his head, “Fine, but don’t be surprised if you get a call at midnight a week from now and I tell you I want to be in it.” Hanji laughed, “deal.”

Marco had felt a bit more tired than normal and Hanji predicted he’d feel the effects of the virus tomorrow and thus, they’d be checking in with them daily. Jean’s classes were more flexible this semester with studio days written in. He could work at the one on campus or his personal one and the non art classes he was taking were either on Tuesday-Thursday or online. A beautiful idea from Jaeger’s mind that Jean was glad he’d looked into, not that he would admit that to him. He brought up their things from the car he’d packed for them while Marco was still at the clinic waiting. Marco gave Jean a kiss on the cheek, making Jean pout. “Babe, I don’t want to get you sick and I’m not on medicine yet. It’s not airborne so thank God for that or you couldn’t even stay in the same room as me. Which, you probably shouldn’t.” Jean’s face was outraged, “I refuse to sleep anywhere else. If you’re old and shitting the bed I’ll still be right there at your side.” Marco laughed, “Shitting along with me. Everyone will hate us at the home.” Jean smirked, “We ain’t goin’ in no home, Marco. Our kids will wipe our asses just like we’ll wipe theirs.”

Marco blushed, “You think about stuff like that?” He mumbled changing out of his work clothes and dropping them in the hamper. He could have used the laundry chute but didn’t feel like it. It was only practical when Levi was home because he did laundry twice sometimes three times a day. He had built a custom luxury laundry room just for the job. Jean moved towards the TV turning it on and plugging up his laptop to do some homework. It was only 8:00 pm and they hadn’t had dinner yet. He’d figure there was something in the kitchen they could cook or he would order out. “Of course, I think about that stuff. I think about it all the time. Do you or am I too creepy and serious?” Jean’s strong back tightened, the muscles prominent beneath the thin paint splattered The Cult band tshirt. Marco plopped down on the bed, “Naw I never think about that kind of stuff. I just figured I’d run away to Italy and start a gang fuck bitches and go out before my 30th birthday.” Jean turned around, visibly hurt, “MARCO!” Marco laughed popping the top off his prescription bottle and taking his first dose of medicine, “Jean, of course I do. I day-dream often about it, actually, like a huge dork.”

Jean scratched his already rough and dark five O’clock shadow, “How many kids you want?” Marco hummed dramatically, “I want five or six, maybe eight. I’m serious, Jean. I want a lot of kids.” Jean’s mouth fell open, “Eight? I mean, I guess that’s fine but its gunna cost a fortune.” Marco tilted his head to the side, his face full of amused satisfaction, “You’d really be okay with eight kids?” Jean joined Marco on the bed, TrueTV’s World’s Dumbest was playing a countdown and they often watched them together and cackled the entire time, “I want a lot. I thought three or four would be the cut off but if you want eight then that’s do-able. A lot of kids need homes, babe.” Marco cuddled up to Jean, “You’re perfect, Mr. Kirschstein.” Jean blushed as Marco stared up at him with those infinite brown pools of love and life. “They’d be Kirschstein-Bodts?” Jean rolled his eyes, “I like Bodt-Kirschsteins but it’s whatever.” He mumbled as Marco laid his head in his lap, eyes shimmering as they tried to decide what they wanted to eat for dinner because Marco would soon be unable to keep anything down.

Erwin was anxiously pacing the floor, every time Armin mumbled incomprehensible strings of sounds and words he fretted. His fever was still the same but as the IV bag started to become empty Erwin couldn’t help but let the crushing helpless feeling he had set in deeper in his bones. He called the one person who could help him, “Levi?” His voice was shaky, but a lot better off than he expected. Levi’s cool blue voice appeared, “Are you okay?” Leave it to Levi to be so blunt.
“Armin is sick, swine flu. He’s feverish and bad off. Hanji’s got him on an IV and I’m aware of what to look for in case of emergency but it’s-“
”Just like with de Barra.” Levi clicked his tongue, “But, it’s not. Because he’s safe with you and Hanji is in charge and you know Hanji is a great medical professional.”
”He’s so feverish, Levi.”
”He’s not coherent at all?”
”No, which is making it worse. I wish he was awake and talking about it rather than just...”
”It’s going to fine, Erwin. He’s going to be okay. He’ll be sick for about eight or nine days and then back to normal. Your ears will be ringing from the amount of bitching and nagging he’ll have saved up” Levi snorted at his own joke but Erwin remained silent for a long time, just sitting on the phone with him, feeling the familiar comfort.
”Levi, where are you?”
”In the lab…deciding what to take to France.”
”Liar. Always a liar, Lee.”
”We tell lies, it’s what we do. We tell lies for many reasons. But, at the end of the day, we have to trust that each other’s lies are ultimately for our mutual benefit. Do you trust me?”

Erwin didn't speak for a while. He could hear the shuffle of papers, the scratch of the fancy ink pen he gave Levi as a gift after their first tour, and he could hear Levi’s faint breath, he could imagine it flowing over his slightly parted lips. Levi was upset, not too badly, but upset. “Erwin, do you remember when my med kit was confiscated?” Erwin exhaled, “Yeah.” He heard him continue writing, scratch, scratch, scratch, until he put the pen down with a thud, it rolled slightly, “I realized something last night about that day. I had an early generation of my blood clotting serum in it.” Erwin’s stomach tightened, “Mmmm Levi…” Levi sighed, “Eren and I will hold down the fort tonight but I contacted the housing department about finding replacements. We can’t be RAs and deal with this all at the same time. You won’t admit it. I know you won’t, so I will. Honestly, Erwin, I just want to be in the house full time. I take it that’s where you are.” Erwin hummed, “Mhm, Levi, do you think we’ll have to go back?”

Levi sat at his desk, files upon files littered the top with pictures of faces he’d rather have never seen or ever remembered. He’d made a few phone calls that morning to old friends, his gang and their affiliates, and even their old superiors. Nile Dok had been the most cooperative, much to his surprise. He’d hated Levi since basic but had always had a soft spot for Erwin, which had caused friction between Levi and Erwin while they were soldiers. Erwin grew restless on the other end of the line, his sigh a signal that he expected an answer now. Levi took a deep breath. When he spoke his voice an echo of his former self, “Yes, Commander, we’ll have to go back.”

Chapter Text

The next ten days went by painstakingly slow for Erwin. He’d taken care of Armin best he could but on the sixth day when he had crawled his way out of bed only to sit down halfway to the bathroom, delirious and crying, in the floor he called Eren. Armin was sallow, looked like he jaundice from the yellow in his normally alabaster skin. Eren had picked him up and taken him in the bathroom. He stripped him naked, sat him on the toilet while holding him up till he finished, ignoring all the unpleasantness that comes along with someone who is that ill. Then he stripped off his clothes too, carrying Armin into the walk in shower and laying him down under the spray with his head in his lap as he lightly stroked his hair and face.

Erwin and Levi checked on them periodically, watching as Armin started to come out of it, speaking a bit more coherently. Eren asked for the thermometer and Erwin was pleased that his fever had dropped to only 102. Armin’s throat was dry and hoarse as he spoke, his body wracked with chills, “Fuck-…fuuucking…hate….tama flu.” Eren laughed, “I know, Arm. I know. The remedy is worse than the affliction.” Armin’s eyes were still that strange shade of sea green but after a few squirts of Biotin eye wash Eren requested, they were clearing back up to his usual sweet sky blue.

Armin shook on the tile floor. Eren’s eyes ran over his form. His body had always been lean but built from biking and other activities. Unfortunately, he’d lost so much weight his ribs were prominent and his hip bones were more pronounced than Eren had ever seen them. Eren had been suspicious that he’d not been eating as much since the attack, he was prone to starving himself when he felt out of control. This week of sickness, coupled with the last two, was only making it worse. He didn’t want to cause more problems by telling Erwin and Levi. He’d have the talk with him, no one else.

Eren turned the water off when he thought Armin’s fever had gone down as much as possible. Cleaning him off and putting one of Erwin’s shirts on him made Armin feel a little like a person again. “Eren?” his voice only a faint whisper, “Er?” Eren was laying him down on the freshly made bed, Levi’s handwork if the corners were anything to go by, “Yeah?” Armin reached out, “Don’t leave me. Please.” Eren didn’t have the heart to say no. He laid him down softly, “Let me go change. I’ll be right back.” Eren leaned down, lips pressing against his forehead. Armin shuddered and whimpered as he pulled away.

Eren grabbed whatever clothes his hands found first, pulling them on and fighting the chills he had. He walked back down to Erwin’s room but stopped at the joint office. He peered in seeing Levi pour over stacks of photos and papers. He entered, “What are you looking at?” Levi shut one of the books nearby, shuffling papers into a neat pile, “Nothin’ brat.” His voice was cold and blunt. Eren wasn’t sure what to do so he just looked down at the floor. “Your hair is still wet. You’ll catch a cold.” Eren felt his hair, “It’s thick.Iit’ll take a bit before it dries. Armin wants me to lay with him so that’s where I’m heading.” Levi appraised him, “I like seeing my clothes on you.” Eren’s brow furrowed, “Oh, I didn’t even realize I grabbed your clothes.” Levi chuckled, “Yeah, yeah.” Eren smiled, “Honest.” Levi waved Eren off, small smirk playing at the corner of his lips. “Don’t get sick and I’ll get you up for dinner.” Eren clutched the doorframe, “Can I ask you a question?” Levi nodded. “Do you celebrate Rosh Chodesh Adar?” Levi looked at Eren like he had grown a second head, “Um, no. It just denotes a new month beginning. The month of Adar. It’s not a holiday.” Eren nodded, “Oh okay.”

Levi moved from his desk stalking forward. His eyes were suspicious and Eren felt like animal that had to decide if it should stay and fight or flee for its life. These moments were Eren’s favorite. Often, it felt like both Levi and Eren were wild animals that had somehow bonded but there were moments in their relationship where one never really knew what the other one was going to do or was capable of. Levi pushed Eren against the door frame, pinning him with his hands on his hips, “What’s with the sudden Judaic knowledge?” Levi’s eyes were hypnotizing. Eren played it cool, “I have a calendar that includes the Jewish holidays. I was curious what that Adar or whatever was because you’d not mentioned it.” Eren gave Levi a push, catching him off guard. He slipped into the hall making sure Levi had something nice to look at as he bluffed his way out of the situation. “Tch, whatever, brat.”

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Armin woke from his feverish coma just three days before Valentine ’s Day. He had come out of the flu after ten long days and had little to no memories about it, save for Eren’s face covered in water and his own reflection in the mirror where he counted his ribs. He needed to eat something soon. He woke up on the eleventh day wrapped in Erwin’s strong arms as Behind Enemy Lines played on the TV. Erwin was fully engrossed and it wasn’t until Armin squirmed around to look at him that he noticed he was awake. “Baby!” His voice was soft but excited. Armin squirmed, “Erwin, let me go pee, shower, and brush my teeth. I’m filthy.” Erwin chuckled letting him up.

When he returned it was freshly washed, teeth brushed, and hair combed. Erwin grinned opening his arms to him. Armin gladly entered them, pulling up Erwin’s shirt and crawling under it tickling Erwin. “Hahaha! Baby! What are you doing?” Armin smirked against Erwin’s chest, “I’m a caterpillar and you are my cocoon. Cocoon me with your warmth and undivided attention.” Erwin chuckled heartily, “You always have my undivided attention, my little prince.” Armin lightly bit the soft skin of Erwin’s chest, feeling those strong muscles tighten as he did so. He burrowed further under Erwin’s shirt, legs falling to the sides to straddle him. “Armin, you just woke up after ten days of sickness and you’re already trying to get something going?” Armin shook his head, “No, I’m too tired for that. But…” Erwin uncovered Armin, “But what, puddin’ pop?” Armin giggled, “Puddin’ Pop, Seriously? I just want you to suffocate me and dote on me.”

Erwin continued to smile, “Well, I can certainly do that. By the way, what would you like to do for Valentine’s Day? It’s in three days.” Armin nuzzled his cheek against Erwin’s chest, “I have an idea for that night but everything that leads up to it is up for grabs.” Erwin shook in silent laughter, “I’m so glad your back, Armin. I’ve missed you.” Armin nibbled the delicate skin more, “Want me to be cruel to you?” His voice was full of promise, “Right now? I’d have a hard time holding back, baby. Might want to save that for Saturday.” Erwin shifted Armin high on his chest, “Let’s go back to Amsterdam for dinner and then how about we go to train tracks for drinks at the Irish Pub?” Armin hummed, “Sound’s good. But, they probably won’t have space since it’s so close.” Erwin snickered, “I already made the reservation.” Armin smiled, “Daddy, you spoil me but your over confidence will be the end of you. I should change my restaurant choice to Blood Hounds to spite you.” Erwin chuckled darkly, “I made reservations there too, and I made them at a few other places as well. I knew my baby might be picky.” Armin rose up, hovering over Erwin, eyes playful.

Erwin didn’t move, didn’t breath as Armin tilted his head side to side, “You’re going to have a fun day Saturday. Nothing will be good enough and I’ll be so cruel to you you’ll end up crying in frustration. Nothing will please me.” Erwin was quickly getting turned on at the prospect of an insatiable Armin. He felt heat pooling in his lower stomach. Armin moved forward pressing himself to him, his lips were soft and full of promise as he worked Erwin’s mouth open before pulling back and snuggling closer, placing his head beneath Erwin’s chin and taking a deep breath of his heady scent. Erwin was content to just lay there with his sweet boy on top of him as sunlight poured into the room and the smells of lunch came from the kitchen downstairs.

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Levi and Eren decided on dinner at the Amsterdam café as well. It was a shock when both couples arrived at the same time but separately. Levi raised an eyebrow while Erwin shrugged, “Great minds think alike, huh?” Armin appeared around the side of the car with a look of utter boredom on his fine face, “More like this is where basic-ass and pathetic sugar daddies bring their babies.” His tone was haughty and Levi was more than a little perplexed though the slight pause and shift of the eyes Eren gave meant he’d find out sooner or later and it was best to let it go. Erwin was wearing fitted black trousers, brown Italian leather loafers, a tight dark navy blue shirt with two buttons at the top he left unbuttoned revealing a tuff of his golden chest hair, and a long black winter coat. He looked dashing. Armin was nothing to sneeze at either, he wore dark fitted gun metal grey trousers that complimented his fair complexion. His jacket daring and grey, heavy with knitted wrists, looked warm and comfortable. Levi caught a glimpse of a bit of black underneath but saw nothing more.

Levi himself was wearing a dark ensemble of rough storm trooper-ish fabrics and daring cuts. An open black jacket despite the cold and the intricate design of his pants made his already stark face and personality more prominent. Eren complimented him in a black street ware outfit. It was much more relaxed with the hoodie giving off an apocalyptic vibe. His leather pants fit like a glove and Levi was more than fond of that. They were sat at separate tables but they had chosen to be sat in the same section, only a few tables away from one another to their further amusement.

Once they were seated Levi noticed Armin shrug off his jacket, the restaurant was warm and packed with bodies. He was shocked r to see he was wearing a black shirt, just as he’d thought, but also set of leather suspenders that were absolutely divine. Levi’s mouth watered at the sight of them. He imagined what Eren might look like in those, tied up or simply just walking around the house in them nude while Levi watched. Eren snapped his fingers, “You’ve noticed Armin was being a bit…haughty and bitchy?” Levi nodded, “Apparently, it’s because Erwin asked him to. They’re playing. Armin’s going to be a sadistic asshole, just a heads up. I was totally caught off guard this morning and it was really uncomfortable.” Eren cut his eyes over as Armin absolutely refused any and all of Erwin’s suggestions on appetizers. His legs were uncrossed, spread open as he leaned back into the plush seat, elbows propped up on the back of the booth. One foot was pushing down on Erwin’s toes, crushing them. Levi stifled a laugh, “Yes. Erwin is really into that. Lucky for him, I think Armin is up to the challenge.”

Eren snickered, “You have no fucking idea” before ripping into the appetizers Levi chose for them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Erwin had been sufficiently embarrassed and frustrated that day already. When Armin woke to brunch in bed, chocolates, and flowers all he managed was a sneer. He said the breakfast was less than acceptable, asking if the reason Levi always cooked was because he was incapable of doing it. Apparently, being handsome was just a cover for lacking any basic skills or talents. The chocolates were referred to as “inferior middle class substitutes for real Parisian confections. I bet Levi had chocolates imported for Eren or he had actually hand-made them into the wee hours of the morning. Apparently, Erwin “didn’t love him enough to do so” or “get him any that were fine enough” for him. The digs and comparisons to Levi had really burned him up. Armin ate a few of candies, chewing some up to only put them back in the box when the flavor didn’t suite him, and proceeded to turn the box up-side down letting them all fall to the floor as he finished the rest of his coffee. When Erwin returned broom in hand, it was to the sight of petals everywhere. Armin sat on the bed and bit off each individual long stem rose and tossed the petals around. He finished and made his way to the bathroom and took a long shower as Erwin cleaned up.

Armin had always had an extensive beauty regimen. Mostly, he sat at the vanity in the bathroom and plucked a few stray eyebrows and trimmed them, applied moisturizer, trimmed his nails, waxed, and applied lotion his entire body. He’d finish by brushing and blow drying his hair. Erwin thought nothing of it, he was prone to his own vain routine but when Armin called him in to the bathroom Erwin was more than concerned. Armin stood soaking wet in the door way to the walk in shower, “Dry me off. I don’t feel like doing it.” Erwin took the towel, drying Armin from top to bottom as Armin critiqued his roughness or softness. When he finished he was on his knees drying between Armin’s toes and the soles of his feet. Armin’s hands found their way into his hair, harshly jerking his face up. Armin practically radiated malevolence.

Erwin felt a pleasurable chill run down his spin as Armin’s thumbs stroked his high cheek bones. “I don’t want to sit on the chair at the vanity. It’s dirty like everything else you’re in charge of. Therefore, I am going to sit on you, understood?” He released Erwin, his chin jerked towards the vanity. Erwin made to get up but Armin’s foot kicked him back down, “Crawl.” His tone was hot, metallic, like lightning it stung and pierced. Armin could have been a fine commander in the military, he thought as he started to crawl on his hands and knees towards the vanity. Armin sat on his human bench going through his regular routine. He took longer than normal, pulling his hair back after drying it, half up and half down. It had become longer and longer, hitting below the tops of his shoulders. Armin had been putting off cutting it and Erwin hadn’t minded, not when he looked so cute in a pony tail. He fish tail braided the pony tail, the hairstyle gave him a much older appearance in Erwin’s opinion, or from what he was able to see when Armin stood to dress, walking around him. He remained on his hands and knees till Armin returned, using him as a place to tied his boots.

Erwin’s limbs tingled, “Get up, you’re disgusting.” Armin sneered as he went into the bedroom. Erwin got up, took a shower, and dressed quickly. He came out to an empty room. It took another 15 minutes to find Armin, but he was sitting with Eren in Levi’s study drinking coffee. Erwin entered, “Baby, there you are.” He smiled brightly only to be met with a roll of the eyes and the now familiar look of disgust he’d worn all morning, “I’m not your fucking baby, you pervert. The coffee you gave me this morning was shit, did you make it too?” Erwin nodded, “I did.” Armin took another sip of his drink, “Well, then maybe you should leave that to Levi as well. His coffee, in stark contrast to yours, tastes divine.” He inflected divine with enough sensuality to make Erwin want to go find Levi and punch him right in the face. “I’ll make sure to take notes next time.” Armin tch’ed, “Next time will be too late. You’ve already subjected me to your subpar abilities. My palette is damaged.” Eren cleared his throat pulling at the collar of his sleeper shirt. This wasn’t what he’d expected when Armin had told him he was going to have fun with Erwin.

The rest of the day leading up to dinner Armin flat ignored Erwin. He didn’t so much as look at him while they worked on papers in the office and when he tried to cuddle up with him during a movie he knew Armin had been dying to see he was met with a harsh slap across the face, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing you old pervert?” He glared at Erwin like he really did disgust him on every level. Erwin tried to smooth things over, “I’m cuddling up with my baby. Is there something I could do to make you happier?” Armin tch’ed turning back to the screen, he mumbled, “You could rub my feet.” Erwin slide off the couch in the media room, removing Armin’s boots to do just that.

The movie played on and Armin returned to acing like Erwin was invisible. He didn’t look like he was enjoying the massage, either. His face looked bored more than anything. Erwin felt frustrated that he couldn’t get even one single word of praise out of him. He was starting to feel like shit and shamefully he liked it. He wanted to see how far Armin would take this. He lightly kissed the delicate foot only to be kicked on the floor on his back. The heel of Armin’s foot pushed painfully into his chest, pinning him to the floor. “You filthy, worthless, piece of shit, did I say you could fucking kiss me at all?” Erwin opened his mouth only to close it when Armin spat on him, “You know I bet Levi follows Eren’s orders to the letter. I bet he pleases Eren a lot better than you please me, too. I feel like I got the shit end of this arrangement and Eren’s coming up like roses, that lucky fuck.” Armin pushed harder before giving him a swift kick to the side, not hard enough to actually do damage but enough to stun Erwin. Armin had really committed and his words were wrecking Erwin.

At the restaurant Erwin was thankful that Petra wasn’t their waitress. After the third dish was sent back Armin finally decided he’d eat what Erwin had and Erwin could just deal with it. Armin drank his tea, commenting negatively on all acts of romanticism Erwin threw his way. A singer, roses, it didn’t matter. He could not be brought to smile. He told Erwin it was useless, nothing he did would make him like him and that set Erwin’s soul aflame. Erwin was dying by the time they went to the pub for drinks. He just wanted to please Armin, make him smile, make him like him. Three shots of patron in and he was seeing a whole new side to Armin. That little nymph had danced away with others as he was let drinking. Eren and Levi had also ended up at the bar, much to their amusement. Levi had leaned over telling Erwin that the Irish Pub was where he’d first eaten with Eren after meeting him at the lab for the first time. They had felt it an appropriate place to return to.

Both men watched from the other end of the bar as Eren and Armin put shot after shot of whiskey away like seasoned drinkers. Their hands roamed playfully across one another’s bodies while they drank. Armin made a show of letting others shower him with attention, venturing pleased smiles he’d withheld from Erwin all day. Armin had stopped dancing the second Eren arrived, planting them as far away from Levi and Erwin as he could. The more men he flirted with, the more someone on the outside would think Armin was going to go home with them. But, every so often, he’d make reassuring eye contact with Erwin. Cheating with some random stranger was not in his type of play and Erwin was thankful.

Levi was amused at Eren’s drinking ability but they had also done a few lines of coke before the night began so he knew he’d be leveling out soon. Eren made eyes at him, tilt in his smile that promised all manner of wickedness. He disappeared with Armin to the bathroom and Levi smirked, “They’re getting, you know…” Erwin pondered for a second what he meant. His eyes lit up, “But,….I wanna, you know….” He gave Levi a pleading look, “Then come with me.” Levi raised his eyebrow seductively as he walked away, parting the sea of people. Erwin chuckled following him into the empty women’s bathroom, hands playfully grabbing at his supple ass and nipping sharply at the exposed nape of Levi’s neck that was revealed after he took his jacket off.

Levi sat up on the toilet, mind spinning, body weightless. He felt Erwin’s large hand on his neck, a comforting gesture that grounded him. Erwin leaned over him snorting his fifth line through the new and crisp one hundred dollar bill. He felt lost for a moment; old memories came to the forefront of his mind. As he pulled back, he turned inwards letting his lips drag across the soft skin of Levi’s neck, pausing at the shell of his ear to sing softly, sensually,


”Ay yōrum biyō (Come my mistress)
Dildōrum biyō (Come my sweetheart)
Dil mayli tu dōrad (My heart desires you)
Sazōvōrum biyō (Come my worthy)”

Levi’s breath hitched, a short gasp escaping his parted lips. His head moved to the side to willing offer up more of his neck to him. Erwin left a few soft kisses before tracing a line with the tip of his nose and then with his tongue across his now warming skin,


”Az Badakhshōnume (I am from Badakhshan)
Ōrōmi jōnume (You are a piece of (or you are the peace within) my soul)
Ba peshi man (Towards me)
Biyō, biyō (Come, and come)”

In the poorly lit bathroom, smelling of urine with its small stand alone pedestal sink, rickety toilet paper wrack, broken sanitary napkin dispenser, and nothing to dry one’s hands on they could have been back in Israel, Egypt, Baghdad, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Jordan, anywhere but in Maria. They could easily have just come from a mission, grazed by bullets, hands smelling like gun powder, heavy machine oils, and blood.

Erwin’s hands moved confidently onto Levi’s body, one sliding up his stomach, pressing him closer to Erwin’s chest and the other up his collar bone and around to gently but firmly clutch his throat, sliding up, pushing his head back and exposing more skin, skin Erwin could pepper with soft kisses and sharp nips. Because that’s what they’d had in those places. They had had each other, a warm body to move against, a place to call home. Someone who wouldn’t treat them like they were broken but instead they were so aware of what was broken inside of the other one that they would never violate them, this holy union, by touching it. Erwin’s voice rumbled, words tumbling out on Levi’s heated skin, vibrating in Levi’s ears,


”Dilbari jōnume (You are my soul mate)
Mōhi tōbōnume (You are my shining Moon)
Ba peshi man (Towards me)
Biyō, biyō (Come, and come)”

His eyes rolled to the back as Erwin sucked hard on his throat, teeth just over his jugular and his hand trailing down to his lower stomach and then to grip his crotch. Levi reached out with his arm, movements strained due to the increasing state of high he was soaring towards. He found the back of Erwin’s head, tugging him forward before crashing their mouths together. They had hungered for one another for a long time, satisfied by their lovers but nothing could completely quench the thirst they had for one another’s firm lips, grounding them, bringing them out of a haze of flashbacks, because in their previous life, one of bombs, guns, and hell fire, these lips were the reward for living another day in the rotation. These lips moved against flesh that wished it had grown cold in the ground like the others, they moved against veins and arteries that selfishly kept transporting blood to their damaged hearts, across sections of the body deemed unclean by religious ideologies and societal moral constructs, and they moved to let out the sounds of deliciously sweet sinful life that was denied to those who were no longer among them, no longer of the now, but waiting in the space before the Olam Ha-Ba.(The World to Come)

Levi pulled away, hands gripping the undercut of Erwin’s hair, his voice was lighter, more relaxed like when he was younger, a carefree child, “You just wanna fuck around because you’re delightfully miserable and so fucking horny for Armin.” Levi laughed fully, something he rarely did, as he slid off the toilet patting Erwin’s face and closing up the bag. Erwin grabbed Levi to him, each hand full of one of Levi’s firm ass cheeks, kneading them roughly. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were his captain and instructor by how brutal he’s being.” His voice made Levi shudder, it was dangerously needy. He was like a wild animal, ready to attack his chosen prey. Armin might fuck him tonight but Erwin would destroy that little nymph tomorrow.

Levi growled after a particularly rough squeeze, “But, not as good as me, right?” Levi whispered, jealous. Erwin smirked sinfully, “No, no one could ever be as wicked as you.” They devoured each other one last time, hands fisting and pulling in each other’s hair. Erwin bit Levi’s lip so hard it drew blood. He lapped at it with his tongue as Levi groaned, aroused and so high he almost forgot they weren’t back there, back in those horribly dark days. Back where they would soon need to return to. Pulling away at that thought and successfully removing Erwin’s hands, they each finished what was on the back of the toilet and headed back out to the bar where Eren and Armin were being admired by some not so subtle patrons.

Armin’s cool gaze took in Erwin’s disheveled appearance. Eren’s eyebrow rose questioningly when he made contact with Levi. Both men shrugged them off, noting the dilated pupils of their lovers. Armin whispered to Eren before doing another shot. The men made their way over, stopping only when a few large men crowded around Eren and Armin. “Are you two single or together?” One red headed man asked, his full beard and plaid shirt made him look like an angry leprechaun in Levi’s opinion. Eren and Armin played his question off as another bought them a round of drinks. A dark haired boy slid next to Armin, “Hey, baby, you with this guy or what?” Armin took another shot, “Naw, I’m with that sack of shit over there.” He nodded towards Erwin. “Well, if he’s shit then ditch him. No point in wasting that fine ass and cute face.” He moved in closer, lips hovering for the right moment. Armin met Erwin’s eyes, “You’re absolutely right.” Erwin’s stomach clenched, he didn’t like that type of play.

Armin’s hand darted forward passing the boy by and grabbing the collar of Eren’s hoodie. Eren managed an amused smirk as Armin brought their mouths together in a crash of lips and tongue. The bar went wild as Armin and Eren kissed and let their hands roam freely. Levi, who had sat on one of the stools at the bar, turned to Erwin, who was secretly relieved that Armin had chosen Eren but was now also even more aroused than before, to shrug and say “Well, if that isn’t the hottest shit I’ve ever seen.” Erwin nodded, shifting closer as Armin’s back tightened under his black dress shirt and Eren’s mouth fell open wantonly when he ground down on Armin’s leg, causing Levi’s half hard erection to press uncomfortably against his pants.

The boy was upset but he turned to see Erwin’s face, hoping it would be as torn up as his own dashed hopes. He didn’t see a crying mess of man, but rather a thoughtful look on his face. “Yo, your boyfriend’s sucking face with some else, you just gunna stand there?” Armin took Eren’s lip in his mouth, biting it enough to pull a whine from Eren. He held Erwin’s gaze, still cold and calculated. Erwin’s eye brow rose, two can certainly play this game, my sweet. Erwin turned to Levi who was watching Eren intently. His hand moved behind his head, griping it and pulling it towards him. Levi read the look on Erwin’s face. He moved up as Erwin bent down to meet his lips, just as heated as Eren and Armin were, though not near as ravenous as they had been in the bathroom. The men and women at the bar either watched in voyeuristic fascination groaned that all the good ones were taken, or were offended by the blatant show of “gay” that offended those of Maria’s conservative sensibilities.

Erwin felt a sharp tug at his elbow as Armin’s sharp little nails pierced him through his shirt, “Let’s go, you piece of shit.” His voice was commanding, degrading, and it delighted Erwin. He was lead to the car and made to hand over the keys. Armin drove quickly yet precisely through the streets alive with couples heading to venues and such for a romantic and traditional night. That was nothing like what Armin had in store for Erwin when they got home.

*************

As they pulled up to the house, the ice reflected on the driveway. Jean and Marco had gone to a show in Atlanta and were staying the night. It was just them and Levi and Eren. The lights had been left on to show off the house and make it look like someone was home. Erwin got out when Armin did and followed him to the front door. Once inside he took Erwin’s coat and hung it up along with his own. “Go upstairs and strip.” Erwin moved towards the staircase, “Fucking crawl, maggot.” Erwin’s knees buckled, Dear God. Armin’s voice echoed in the foyer, it was a lot deeper than normal and Erwin could not disobey. “I expect you standing in the middle of the room when I get in there.” Armin climbed the other set of stars leaving Erwin to finish climbing them on hands and knees. He knew better than you try and cheat when Armin disappeared.

Once stripped, he stood for what seemed like forever in the middle of the room. Each minute increased his level of anticipation till Armin appeared, shirt removed but everything else still on, including those leather suspenders. He held a leather riding drop in his hand and had the slightest amount of make up on. His eyes were rimmed black, lashes curled, and he looked like some experienced hardcore dom who didn’t have to use theatrics to help him make a client submit. For the first time, Erwin was a little scared.

Armin went to the armoire, pulling one of Erwin’s silk ties from it. “Put your hands behind your back.” Erwin moved his hands as Armin strode over leisurely. He tied them tightly, pulling to make sure they were secure. “Take a deep breath.” Erwin was confused but he did as he was told. As soon as he finished inhaling a swift kick knocked him down, the breath came flooding out, then another kick and he gasped. “Pathetic” Armin spat out like he really believed it. He walked around to Erwin’s head, “Since you like feet, lick my boots, lick the shit off of them with your tongue you filthy cunt.” He tried to roll his body over but Armin just put his other foot on his side, “From where you are,” his eyes burned blue like the hottest of flames, “lick.”

After licking the entire first boot and then the second Armin had him sit up on his knees. He drug the crop against his skin, over his nipples, down his stomach, beneath his scrotum, and then to the cleft of his ass where he caressed it. “Bitch, what’s it like?” Erwin cleared his throat, “What do you mean?” Armin pressed against Erwin’s back, his cool skin burned Erwin’s, “What’s it like kissing Levi?” His hand tangled in Erwin’s hair, pulling painfully, “What’s it like kissing a real man?” The crop snapped against his skin. It was followed by a quick succession as Erwin groaned from pleasure and pain. Armin’s small hand fisted even tighter wrenching his head back where he kissed him, dominating his mouth. When Armin pulled back, a trail of saliva still attached, he smirked, his voice low and seductive, “I think I can still taste him.” His wicked smile told Erwin he knew that was one his biggest triggers.

Armin moved back around, he gripped Erwin’s chin, “Open wide,” inserting his fingers in his mouth choking him. “Take it like a man.” Armin continued to finger fuck his mouth till his eyes watered and he started really choking. He pulled out, gripping Erwin’s face tighter so that he didn’t look away before sucking on each finger and moaning like a whore, “Yeah, I can definitely taste him still. I wish I was fucking that tonight.” He walked back around to leave more red crisscross marks on his back, bottom, and thighs.

He returned to the front, “I’ll give you this, you don’t speak unless spoken to. There’s something you know how to do right.” His thumb traced along Erwin’s bottom lip, “You like to suck cock, bitch?” Erwin nodded yes before finding Armin’s thick cock in his mouth, stretching his lips and gagging him. He sucked him, tongue lapping at the slit and around, he took him deeper into his throat regardless of the discomfort, but nothing drew a sound from Armin save his quickening breath. Armin’s eyes stayed open the entire time taking in Erwin’s wrecked appearance. Erwin could feel the marks on his skin grow hotter the more aroused he got from Armin’s stare.

Armin pulled out before he got too lost. He left his hard cock out on display before turning around and fetching some lube from the armoire and walking back to Erwin. “You don’t get to come until I say so. If you do, you’ll be punished and it won’t be enjoyable no matter how perverse your tastes are. Bend over.” Erwin did so but that wasn’t enough for Armin’s liking. He pushed Erwin forward, slamming the side of his face against the hard wooden floor, skin pulling against it harshly. Armin’s fingers were at his entrance, he that he was incredibly tight, probably from having not been fucked in ages. Once inside he started crooking his fingers and searching for his sweet spot. Once he found it he made sure to avoid it making Erwin whimper and cry out. Armin met his cries with sharp slaps to his ass and mocking laughter.

Once he was stretched to the bare minimum, he knew Erwin wanted it rough, Armin lined himself up with his entrance. He stroked the red skin of his buttocks before slamming inside surprising Erwin and reducing him to a quivering writhing mess beneath him. He kept up a brutal and unrelenting pace as Erwin cried tears of pleasure and pain while his face rubbed against the unforgiving floor. The whole time, as agreed upon, Armin did his best to degrade him and mock him. “You’re a sick fuck, you know that. You fuck a boy seven years your junior and now you’re getting fucked by him.” Erwin cried out as he started hitting his prostate, “That’s it, cry, cry you little bitch. You never satisfy me. Did you know that? I’m always thinking of other things when we’re together, other people.” Erwin shuddered physically, “I’m thinking about what it must be like for Eren, getting pounded by Levi and I wonder how that would feel. I think about when Jean and Eren used to fuck me. I’m just not satisfied with you and why would I be? You can’t make me like you.” Armin’s laugh echoed in the room, he knew that was going to do it for Erwin.

Redubbing his efforts to bring Erwin to the precipice he kept repeating the very thing that eats at Erwin’s core. Erwin wants to be liked and respected because he thinks he deserves it. He’s the leader, he’s the commander, he’s guy with the answers. “It wouldn’t matter if you gave me all the salt in the sea, you still couldn’t make me like you or anyone else like you for that matter.” Erwin was a mess under him, so close and bucking to meet Armin’s every move. “Do you want to come, bitch?” Armin grunted out, sneer visible in his tone, “Y-y-yes-s-s” Erwin moaned. “Then come. I’m not going to touch your cock, fucking come from me fucking your tight ass alone.” And Erwin did just that, emptying his seed on the floor harder than he’d come in last three years. Armin followed, emptying inside of him and biting back his moans.

*************

Armin untied Erwin’s arms, rubbing at them and taking stock of the marks he’d left all over him. He pulled out, moving to his side and whispering soothing praises, “you did you so good, daddy” and “shhhushhh let’s get you on the bed. Good daddy, the best daddy.” He got Erwin into the bed, grabbing a towel from the bathroom and warm wet rag before began cleaning Erwin and himself off. He wrapped him in the sheets tightly propping him up and looking around, “Do you want your pajamas?” Erwin was still high and a little dazed but he came to when he asked him a second time, “Just my pants. You can wear my shirt, baby.” He smiled, it was small but it was there and made Armin feel better. He’d been an absolute asshole terror to him all day and had taken a lot of risks in their play. He was happy to see Erwin had understood all it, as was to be expected when you not only had the blessing of the man but also his incredible mind that could think things through a lot better than others.

Armin helped ease Erwin’s pants on, rubbing lotion on his bruised and battered skin before securing them on his hips. Armin then pulled on his knee high bunny socks, black sleeper shorts, and a large red Hanes tshirt Erwin often wore to bed before climbing in with him. He reached over and got a bottle of PowerAde out of the small fridge Erwin had put in when he was sick, handing it to Erwin to drink. Erwin finished off the bottle before tossing it in the trash where it landed with a thud. Armin pressed himself against his back spooning him, “You’re the best, daddy. I loved everything you did for me and got me.” Erwin hummed as Armin scratched and massaged his back paying special attention to his scarred arm. “I love you, do you wanna watch something on Netflix since we’re still awake.” Armin giggled as Erwin searched for the remote handing it to him, “I want to watch America’s Worst Cooks” his voice was scratchy and Armin felt bad for being the cause, “Are you okay?” Erwin hummed, “Of course, baby. You did well. You’re spoiling me.” He giggled quietly, “Baby, Yyou can read me like an open book. I’m fucking terrified of you and your powers. You should enter the military and go into interrogation.” Armin snuggled closer, pressing his nose to Erwin’s neck smelling the familiar scent of shampoo and cologne.

Armin and Erwin were on the third episode before they heard the music from Levi’s room faintly down the hall. Erwin perked up, “Levi doesn’t normally have sex to music.” Armin giggled, “Eren’s idea. He heard some song the other day and wanted to dance to it for Levi. He’s a really good dancer. Probably should teach strippers to be honest.” Erwin snickered, “Levi might put him to shame. He can work a pole.” Armin snuggled closer, “God, you have such wonderful stories. I want them all. I want all of you.” He whispered the last sentence into Erwin’s skin but he heard, “You’ll get all of me, Armin. If you really want it.” They laid in silence a few more moments longer. “What’s the song?” Erwin was curious and Armin paused the show to hear the music better.


Mardha vaistadan (men are standing)
Zanaa miraghsan (women are dancing)
Negah mikonam (I watch)


Oriental dress
The one you love is a mess


Mardha vaistadan (men are standing)
Zanaa miraghsan (women are dancing)
Negah mikonam (I watch)

Erwin’s blood went cold. “Where did he hear this song?” Armin wrinkled his nose, “I don’t know. He figured it was on the Spotify, you know, how they suggest songs now if you don’t pay or if they’re feeling particularly sadistic like Pandora.” Erwin accepted that as a very possible and more than likely answer. Armin sensed his discomfort, “You’re not okay. How can I make you feel okay?” Erwin turned over on his side, head bent to still see the TV and Armin’s nose. The cutest and most precious nose in all of existence, he thought as he took his hand bringing it up to his lips for a kiss. “I’m fine Armin, you did well. I’m not broken.” He chuckled as the beat still played on. How does Levi feel? Armin’s eyes were suspicious “Do you know the song?” Erwin shrugged, “No, I thought so but I’ve never heard it.” He reached over to grab his phone he’d put on the charge.

Armin started tracing patterns on his skin and talked softly while Erwin typed away on his phone shooting off a message to Levi. By now the song had stopped and they were clearly engaging in adult activities. Eren was incredibly loud. It made Armin and Erwin chuckle knowing how quiet Levi normally was and from what Erwin had told Armin he was equally as quiet in bed. Armin asked if he was that bad but Erwin promised his wasn’t, kissing his little button nose before snuggling in for the night.

Armin’s eyes closed as the drugs finally came to an end. The drowsy affect of the alcohol taking hold. Erwin still had a bit to go so he busied himself stroking Armin’s features softly and day dreaming. He thought about what a little Armin would look like, what their personality would be like with them as their parents. He knew adoption was the most common route but have kids that were blood related made things easier when it came to hospital paper work, emergencies, and being married in the south legally was still a precarious thing. Armin’s sweet little breaths warmed the skin of his fingers as he ghosted over his cherubic lips. Erwin was a softie at heart, prone to grandiose dreams and imaginings and Armin was his muse. If only they could have their own children, them together and not through another woman.

His phone vibrated, he knew it had to be Levi. He slowly reached back for his phone. He turned the screen’s back light down as not to bother Armin before opening their conversation :

To Levi: This song. Are you okay? Should I have Armin ask to turn it off?

From Levi: We can never leave Bad City, Erwin. One day, they’re going roll us down into that pit with all the others.

Erwin didn’t go to sleep; instead, he cried silently till the dawn came up. He couldn’t forget what he saw and he couldn’t shake the feeling that Levi’s words were true and they were coming and they were going to put them in the cold hard ground with all the others, covering them over with yellow sand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

February came and went. Mid March was stormy, cold, and dark. Levi felt like a constant cloud hung over him as he tried to juggle work, travel plans, time with Eren, running a household, and being an all around functioning person as he contacted ghosts from his past. He also kept reminding himself that Eren’s birthday was the same weekend they were all going to Atlanta and he needed to plan a hotel room with Erwin since Armin and Eren wanted to share. Jean’s birthday was right after his and he needed to get him something, maybe a pony.

Hanji had started acting stranger and stranger. He could tell something was unraveling inside of them. He tried to get them to talk but they kept brushing him off with “soon” and “I promise I’ve just got a lot on my mind.” But that didn’t fool Levi, not when he worked with them side by side, not when he trusted Eren’s life in their hands.

Eren was exhausted most of the time. Even with Marco coming in now every week to participate they were both put through the ringer. Jean would come and offer moral support and sometimes acted as a control. So far, promising strides had been made in their research and Levi was feeling excited about going to France with this great foundation he could build on. He needed to make this something that wasn’t permanent, wasn’t chemically altering to the brain long-term, and was safe for self administration. He needed to contain this before he unleashed it on the masses. No one wanted this getting into the wrong hands.

He walked into the lab, sitting down at his desk. Eren was eating a bag of gummy bears with Jean as Marco ran on the treadmill. Hanji had been unusually quiet, unnerving everyone. Jean had gotten her to open up more than Levi. He had an ability to get people to share with him their problems. Marco said that was because he was relatable and had an honest face. They told him they’d been feeling sick and that today was worse than usual. It was probably due to their lack of sleep and they hadn’t been eating right. They promised they knew that they needed to fix it and Jean had shrugged saying “shit happens. Just take care of yourself.”

Levi turned on his computer opening his programs and checking his email. He rubbed and stroked Donner’s soft fur, relishing in the comforting effect it had on him. Eren’s voice fluttered into his mind like the sound of wind off a raven’s wings. He heard a beep from his computer, opening his eyes he was greeted to a black window open in the top left corner, a window that looked like he was about to start writing lines of code. He tried to exit out, thinking he’d bumped something before he’d left or while he checked his email. The box would not close. He sat back, obviously he rationalized that it had to circulate through old commands, his clicking had froze it, overloaded it. But then the screen blinked and he felt a surge of anxiety, the box started filling with words:


You see me, but you never notice.
Speak to me, but never listen.
You invite me in, but never host me.
You treat me like everyone else, but make it clear I am 'ajnabi.
You took our land and offered us sand.
You call me Ger, but you have no idea.
Our faith supersedes all others.
To you I am merely one in a series, neither pleasing nor offending. I am The Great Destroyer.
Get off my land.

Panic, sheer panic overtook him. Donner growled, standing up and barking. Then all the phones started to beep, a Maria alert, “Tornado warning.” They felt it, felt it in their bones. It was close. It couldn’t be explained but Donner was barking and they knew that it was so close to them that finding shelter was crucial. Boots clicking….boots on concrete clicking…..

Levi gasped, chest tight. Erwin. He opened his phone, still running. Boots clicking as they came outside, gravel crunching, No gun, the calm, the eerie clam before the storm. “Erwin! Where are you?” Erwin was in the car on his way to Mike. “Why?” Mike didn’t have his phone. He left it at lunch with Erwin. He wouldn’t know. The tornado was going to head to the silos; it’s at the pecan field. “Get inside Levi. Is Armin with you?” Gravel underneath the rubber sole, glass shards in my heels, no gun, no gun on my back….Dear God….where am I? “Erwin, no, pull over and get inside somewhere. Please, Erwin, bitte, bitte.” Erwin sighs; the engine stops, door opens, keys left in the ignition and the alarm beeps, running, running on soft earth, running on rocks, running in a field. Running behind me, boots on concrete, gun on my back, where are we? Touch me, let me know you’re there. Let me feel you, alive and well. Touch me. “I can’t leave him, Levi. I can’t. I have to try. Stay safe, find Armin. I love you.” Endless nights, tortured days, concrete floors, bloody sleeping mats, I love you, promises made. “ERWIN! ERWIN!”

Into the Command Center, how far they had run. Sirens and rain, stinging rain, the wind screams. It howls like people burning. They burned all of them. Burned them to ash. Down the stairs, sirens blared, wind screamed, rain stung, lighting cracked, and the sky opened up and it was dark and it was as black as endless night. It was like….hell isn’t real, the devil is a lie. Gehenna is all there is, a pit of fire It was like if God hated everything, Because the devil does not exist. Eren’s hands, Erwin’s hands, rushed words, soothing words, Hanji’s tears, on Passover Seder we drink the salt water to remember how we suffered, Erwin’s words and Eren’s words, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you…don’t let me go. Don’t let me go. Don’t forsake me here, here in all my ugly loneliness!

Armin and Mikasa, huddled in the corner, where we pressed ourselves to hide, Eren and Jean viciously fighting, Marco soothing Hanji, Where is Mike? Did Erwin find him? The Pecan fields were so close. Where would they hide? Sirens blaring, wind howling, Sirens blaring, the earth moves. The earth moves and God is angry.


”Cain, where is your brother Abel?”
“I do not know. Who am I, my brother’s keeper?”

And then everything for Levi went silent.

Chapter Text

The sirens receded after a half hour. They’d blared the entire time but as the storm passed over them at the worst part they were reduced to a slight buzz barely audible above the crying, praying, and chatter of the students inside the basement. Above them were eight floors of brick, re-enforced steel, and concrete. If the building were to ever fail, they’d be buried alive.

Eren turned to see Levi slumped against the wall with his eyes closed. Donner licked at his face as his hands fisted in the thick black fur. Eren noticed tears flowing freely down his face. He took his hand and pulled him along as they all started to file out of the building, Mikasa splitting off trying to get a hold of Annie and Hanji running to their car with everyone else following. Eren pulled Levi along like dead weight till they came around the side of the mechanical engineering building to see Hanji ripping at their car door while hysterically crying, “He’s not answering! Mike isn’t answering, my Gooood. Whhyyy?” Eren came up behind them, Jean on his heels. They handed them over their keys and Eren opened the car door to drive. They all got inside, Hanji, Jean and Marco, Armin, and Levi and Donner. Eren put the car in drive and started out towards the pecan fields. The roads were covered in debris, insulation from homes, wood, pieces of people’s lives littered around. Eren drove around what he could, using caution since there was no power and the lights didn’t work. He speed through as Jean, who had jumped up front in the passenger seat, helped guide him. Hanji wailed between Armin and Marco. Levi was silent in the back.

After the sixth time of asking Levi what Erwin had said Hanji turned around to find him staring into the void, tears streaking his face. They held up their fingers next to his ear and snapped a few times. Hanji turned around, “Eren, say something to Levi. Say something, loudly.” Eren was currently stuck in the mud at the entrance to the field; the rain had over saturated the already wet ground. He knew that Erwin had taken this route, his tracks still faintly visible. “What?” Hanji repeated her request, “Levi! LEVI?! Can you hear me?!” Nothing, he just stroked Donner’s fur as he licked at his tears. Hanji took a deep breath before shakily exhaling, “He’s gone deaf…” The car was silent save for Eren’s strangled sob as they pulled up to where the tracks ended.

There was no car; there was no silo in the distance. There was only grass.

Erwin

Mike called Erwin asking him to lunch. He’d been out in the pasture all day working on the old silos trying to garner some inspiration for his thesis. They met at the small Myrtle Cafe . Mike plopped down, eyes shining; he took a whiff of the smells of the café as Erwin finished grading some papers. “Well, old man, I wanted to talk to you about something.” Erwin looked up; his strawberry lemonade sparkled in the light. It had reminded him of Armin so he got it. He was pleased that even in the cold weather it wasn’t too much. It had been sweet and a little tart, just like Armin. “If it’s about the horses, the barn’s almost finished. We had to, you know, demolish and rebuild a lot of things after that night. Levi couldn’t stand the cellar in the bottom of the barn.”

Mike nodded, “No, that’s okay. The horses are fine where they are.” He smiled and Erwin believed him. Mike cleared his throat sitting back against the metal folding chair, “I’m going to ask Hanji to marry me.” Erwin’s eyebrows rose in pleasant surprise, “That’s a big deal!” Mike smiled even brighter, “Yeah, they’ve been acting weird lately so I think they know. I’d saved up a lot of money for a ring and I need to do it soon. They’ve got me worried they’ll find it. You know I’m shit at hiding stuff.” He chuckled removing a small ring box from his pocket. Opening the box, Erwin was greeted to the sight of a rather large pear shape diamond set in white gold with two stones on either side, one red and the other green. “Ruby and Emerald, it’s an inside joke between us and I thought they offset the pear shape well.” Erwin chuckled, “You lost me at inside joke. You’re just repeating what the jeweler said after that.” Mike snorted, “True but let me take credit for it, why don’t you?” They ate their lunch in peace as Mike worried if Hanji would say yes and Erwin assured him they would.

Erwin had stayed a little longer at the café than Mike, finding his forgotten cell phone after a quick sweep of the table. He was just pulling out on his way to the house to work from the home office, his classes had stacked up the midterms on him, when he heard a beep on his cell phone. He assumed it was Armin leaving class and heading to the house to work with him. Armin had helped him grade some while he had free time. It made Erwin feel bad that he needed help but also a bit proud of how smart Armin was and how well they worked together. That was when he heard the emergency weather forecast on the radio. It wasn’t even necessary; the funnel was over the interstate in the distance. With sick fascination he watched the lightning, the specks of debris that circled around. He heard the forecast say it would probably miss campus but hit the pecan fields, the silo, and end at the Maria Paradise community. His instinct kicked in, no one get’s left behind. Erwin’s foot met the gas and he speed through light after light heading to Mike.

When his phone went off again he answered. Levi’s pleading voice ripped him apart inside. Going against him was like going against his own self, he almost pulled over. Selfishly he thought that maybe Mike had gone to the store before returning but that wasn’t like him. Once he had a task he was set on it. He told Levi to find Armin, stay safe, that he loved him. If those were his last words then he could live with it. He was running towards the silo. The storm was over them, looming above the tree line. The wind burned against his skin, the rain delayed by the eye. Then there was the silence. The silence was the worst because it reminded him of the moment of calm before an IED took out one of your best men, one of your friends, maybe one of your limbs. He ran inside finding Mike bent over plans with his noise cancelling headphones on, jawsaw still warm and other equipment lay nearby. He grabbed him; there was not time to explain.

Outside the funnel was right there. He knew the moment Mike figured it out. His knees buckled and Erwin ripped his shirt pulling him across the open pasture, ”Just tell me, Levi…tell me and I’ll make everything alright.” They needed to find a ditch, something to lay in, something sturdy to bed down in, ”I got in the pool”, Armin wet and covered in blood, his smile, Levi’s smile. Erwin ran faster as debris crashed around them, whipping through the trees. It was like a sick game. God was playing with him. Running, running into the warehouse, Erwin saw the ground slope down, ”just give me a chance,” Mike stumbled, “ tell me what you need. I’ll make everything alright if you’d just let me.” Mike scrambled up, hands cut and bleeding. Levi’s hands, “I just want to take care of you.” They were so close. A grain barrel bounced along the ground, rusty and loud as the metal reverberated with each bounce. It barely missed both men, clearing Erwin by mere inches and clipping Mikes shoulder with a deafening thud. Mike’s hand tightened around Erwin’s as he yelled in pain. A note on the table, Armin’s handwriting, “I love you, daddy. Let’s eat Chinese and watch Marco Polo tonight. Your baby.” Erwin slid down the embankment pulling Mike along with him, into an empty pond, it looked like a mass grave, he screamed, guns firing, empty shells in the sand, bodies…everywhere, “this is Bad City , boy…every one of them must die”, The sky opened up, black like endless night, black like charred flesh.

Erwin and Mike tried to bed down, huddling against one another, Levi’s tears, His fevered whispers, “Babi Yar…it’s like Babi Yar, Erwin. How many did they kill here? How many children?” The rain stung them and the mud swallowed them, red clay staining everything, staining everything like blood. Shells, endless firing, guns off shoulders and left on marble top café tables, guns in hands that boasted gold wedding bands, guns on the floor of piss stained bathrooms, empty shells littered the streets, the need for ammunition born out of scarcity, “spit on them shells and clean the blood off, boy. Or I’ll shoot you next.”

The wind howled, it howled with the sorrow of those in the pit. The people Erwin left behind. The people Levi tried to save before he lost his mind. this is necessary, life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life,The debris started pummeling their exposed skin, Levi firing into the pile of bodies, face dirty and alive with hate, Levi screaming for him down the crowded streets when he ducked into a shop to buy a coke, Mike clutched his shoulder as Erwin pulled the collar of his jacket higher, the ground shook, “There is no devil,” Levi lips, “Of course there is a devil, Levi. He lives in the atrocities that man commits.” The light disappeared, everything was dark like living in the smoke of funeral pyres, Levi’s hips, Levi dancing in the barracks for men, Levi paid for tricks, "How much for a kiss?" Levi's smirk, "6000." The sound so loud Erwin thought that the trumpets of the horsemen were being blown, "6000 is a lot, Levi." Levi's hands on his thigh, "Yeah, but you're already in love so what's that but a drop in the bucket. rich boy?" Levi crying when he told Donner to leave them in the rubble, Levi strangling the man who assaulted them with his own shoelaces. The ground moved, he thought it was opening up to swallow him, the rain stung, the wind crushed him with its weight, heavy with guilt, ”I want all of you, I can’t wait to go to France with you. I love you, Erwin. I love all of you.” The feather light soft kisses on his scarred arm. "Armin please be okay..."

"What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus."

"HA! Nothing but the blood of that little Jew over there, boy. He'll be the death of you."

Erwin’s fingers dug into the muddy earth, stained red with generations of blood, as they both slowly started lifting from the ground.

Chapter Text

Armin sat in the shadows near the rear of the barracks. His uniform pressed and hair wet form the showers. His lips parted as his eyes closed, head tilted to the side. He was tired but the show proved too good to pass up. In front of him were staggered chairs pulled from around the base, hard metal and heavy plastic. The other men smoked, drank leisurely from their plastic cups and enjoyed the show. The windows were covered with heavy grates to keep out shrapnel from a possible mortar shelling. But, as with most precautions, they’d do little if one came through the roof.

He shifted, pulling at the fabric just above the tops of his thighs, pants suddenly tighter, and he licked his pale lips. His skin was flushed and a little sun burnt, especially on the tip of his nose and cheek bones. The music filled the room like the shadows, expanding till it nearly burst the trailer. The dull thud of the bass and whirlwind flourish of trilled notes and electronica created a warm and almost seedy atmosphere. Erwin approached Armin, clad in his fatigue pants and blue tshirt. His boots clicked on the faux wood floor. Armin didn’t turn away from the point he and everyone else was fixed on. Erwin reached out to grasp his shoulder, “Baby?” His voice was small and it hurt, “Baby, why are you here?” Armin’s head turned, his eyes were cloudy from arousal but he smiled sweetly at Erwin, “I’m here for the same reason everyone else is.” Erwin didn’t understand, “Why?” Armin turned to the front again; he raised his hand, “To watch him dance.” Erwin turned to the front. In the darkness there was a lone figure, carved from marble his skin glowed in the pale back light from old confiscated neon signs. His pants rested below his hip flexors, enticing the eye as his hips swayed in time with the music with the allure of a thousand harem dancers. Levi was resplendent.

Armin touched Erwin’s shoulder, lightly as not to scare him. Erwin turned to meet him, his tears flowing freely. Armin stood up, wiping them from his face, “You’ve got to wake up now, daddy.” He managed a small compassionate smile as he stroked Erwin’s face lovingly. He pulled back in the shadows and all that was left was Erwin and Levi till Levi, too, faded into thin wisps of shadow and night. All that was left were the empty chairs and neon lights,

Erwin watched as the empty room spun into thick carpets and fine curtains. The scratch of the needle on the record player, his mother’s voice, the shuffle of papers, his father’s office, “What would you be willing to do, Erwin?” Erwin was just a child, “What would you be willing to do to help people?” Erwin watched his younger self think, “Why are you asking me this?” Erwin’s father smiled, “Ah no reason. I’ll ask when you’re older.” Then he was a teen, “What would you be willing to sacrifice to help people?” He saw himself ponder, “I’d sacrifice my free time.” Erwin’s father smiled again, “Ehh well, not really the answer I was looking for.” Erwin’s brow furrowed, “Why are you asking me this?” His father shrugged laughing, “Pay no mind to me. I’ll ask when you’re older.”

But then Erwin was older, he stood before him age 20 just returned from a tour, “What would you be willing to sacrifice to help others?” Erwin didn’t hesitate, “Myself, I’d sacrifice my life for my fellow man and country.” His father tapped the edge of his latest publication, “Mmm. But what is that worth?” The same look of confusion. “What is my life worth?” His father sighed, “Yes, what is it worth? How much is a life? How do we define the worth of life? What is the price for everything, what is the price…for a nation, a people, a home, or even a couch or mattress? Is a mattress worth a life? One hundred lives? One thousand lives? What is your life worth, Erwin?” The windows burst, it was all slow motion. He watched as the yellow sand poured in, consuming his father and everything else. He was choking on yellow sand.

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Erwin’s eyes opened, the sky was grey and the rain was light and cool on his face. He couldn’t move, pinned to the ground beneath a collection of things: wood, metal cages and fence sections, part of the silo was on top of the pond with mangled trees. He could only see through the sections betwixt the branches. He looked side to side for Mike, “Mike! Mike! Can you hear me?” It was silent save the sound of rain drops on the thin metal tin.

The silence stretched on, “Mike?” Erwin’s eyes watered, Mike, oh God… Then suddenly, “Here…to your side. I’m bad off, shoulder is completely shattered and my mid section is carrying most of the weight from damn the silo. It could crush me, Erwin. I might die. I’m not going to bullshit you and I don’t want you to bullshit me either. No fucking fillers about “its gunna be fine, bro.” I ain’t got time for that.” Erwin looked to his side where his voice was coming from and sure enough Mike was about five feet away pinned down like Erwin but in a much more precarious situation.

There were metal beams and tree limbs laying over him. It wasn’t shifting yet, but the area of the pond they were in was about eight to ten feet deep, the ground muddy and wet. “Mike, just talk to me. Can you breath and everything alright?” Mike huffed, “Yeah, it’s a little tight but I’m good. Just this damn shoulder. That fucking barrel. Hurt like a son of a bitch.” Erwin laughed, “Yeah, almost got my head.” Mike coughed, “What the fuck were you thinking Erwin?” His voice was softer, disappointed. “What?” Mike looked through the trees, watching the clouds twist, “You’ve got Levi, Armin, and Eren to think about. You fucking came out here and risked all of that for me. You’re so fucking stupid.” Erwin’s face contorted, “You’re my best friend, and I’m going to be your best man. If you die, there isn’t going to be a wedding. Hanji, what would that have made me in their eyes if I hadn’t come to help you? You left your phone at lunch. I’m responsible for you.” Mike cut him off, “You ain’t responsible for me. You ain’t my commander. I’m thankful, don’t get me wrong. I’d be a mangled mess right now if I’d stayed in the silo but we’re so fucked, Erwin. We’re so fucked right now.”

They watched the sky turn dark, turn to night and the temperature drop to almost freezing. Wet and unable to move their prospects were grim. Mike had started going in and out of shock. Erwin made him keep talking, the cruel irony was they were both soaking wet but thirsty. They thought they heard voices but nothing ever came close to them. It was possible it looked like just rubble and not a pond from the outside. Erwin actively tried to force his anxiety down as memories of being trapped under the rubble of that warehouse started forcing their way into reality, like mirages made of nightmares. Who would find them? Would anyone find them? Armin, baby, I woke up but I can’t fight if I’m pinned down.

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Bertolt and Reiner moved along the pasture with Annie looking for any trace of Mike and Erwin. Mikasa was with Eren and Armin searching one section while Marco and Jean searched the other. Levi had indeed lost his hearing and was at the car with Hanji, waiting, waiting for anything. Hanji had told Annie when she asked about Levi’s sudden deafness that he may never regain it. It was rare but happens sometimes and is attributed to PTSD. If he would regain it it’d be at least six to nine months and even then it may not be like it was before. Annie couldn’t handle any of that so she left silently, walking into the areas of tall uncut grass as the light started to fade. Levi, in her opinion, deserved a fucking break.

Reiner had stopped near the tree line of an area they’d passed by several times. His golden hawkish eyes rested on a pile mangled metal and tree limbs. It looked like there used to be a pond for the cows to drink from. He hooked his flashlight to his work overalls, striding confidently over to the pile. They were in there. He felt it in his bones. “Erwin, Mike!” He stood at the edge, definitely a bed gone dry. “Erwin Smith!” He unclipped his flashlight shinning down through the branches, something pale and gold, blonde, eyes, the reflection of light on eyes, it was one of them, “Erwin Smith!?”

Erwin was tired, cold, dehydrated, and this seemed like another cruel mirage. “Y-yes. It’s u-us.” His voice burned. Reiner whistled, Bertolt came running along with Annie, “Here! THEY’RE HERE!” The three of them stood at the edge looking at where Mike and Erwin laid and what was on top of them. After a few tense moments of surveying the situation Annie made her decision. “Erwin,” Annie’s cool voice pierced the moment like a knife through butter, “We can only save one of you. When we move the metal pieces it’s going to need to go one way or the other and it’ll crush one you to death before we get the other out. I’m sorry, but you both need to decide before we start.” She paused, eyes meeting Erwin’s own, “Or I’ll chose. It’ll all be on me.” Mike sighed loudly, looking over to Erwin, “Erwin. Go, go on. You go,” Mike’s head rolled back to look at the metal beams on top of him, “live Erwin.”

Erwin’s body shook, ”What would you be willing to sacrifice? What is a life? How much is it worth and how does one qualify its worth? Do we look at the monetary value of it or the quality of life that person would lead if allowed to live? Or, are some people just worth more than others?” Erwin sobbed, “No, noooo” Mike’s mouth formed a grim line, his eyes shut tightly fighting back tears, “Yes” his voice a mere whisper, “Nooooo” Erwin wailed, crushing moments of his past flew behind his eyes, “It’s my turn!” his voice was vicious and desperate, “It’s my time! I’ll not be the reason you die. Noooooo.” Erwin choked on his own sob as Mike started to cry more, “Pleeeaaaseeee, LET ME DIE! I DESERVE TO DIE. I’VE OUTLIVED EVERYONE. LET IT BE ME!” Reiner and Bertolt exchanged shocked and pitiful looks as Annie looked down at her watch, “You have to make a choice. You have thirty seconds.” Mike sobbed, “No, Erwin it’s easier to get you out! Look, look at this shit. I’m as good as dead.” Erwin shook violently, eyes wild, mouth open, and tears poring over his bottom lashes, “I DON’T CARE, MIKE! GOD, LET IT BE ME!” He took a deep breath, head lulling to the side, “ANNIE! TAKE MIKE. GET MIKE OUT ALIVE.” Annie turned to Reiner, his voice small, “Ann…” She shook her head, “They made their decision. We have to do it now before it shifts on its own and kills them both. It’s too cold, Reiner. It’s too cold and wet.”

Bertolt and Reiner started moving the first parts, working together in a seamless fashion born of years of trust and familiarity. Annie oversaw them helping them when it required a smaller body for digging out dangerous parts that could get loose and hurt those below. The pile started to shift as metal and wood rubbed together. Mike and Erwin were calm despite the circumstances. Erwin turned to Mike, “Tell Armin, I love him. Tell him, I love him so much that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.” Erwin started to violently sob again as the metal beam started shifting to his side of the pond, “And tell Levi,” His mouth was open in a silent scream before stuttering, “T-t-tell L-l-e-evi…tell Lee not to go back to bad city. Tell him, I’m waiting for him and I love him so much.” Mike nodded as Erwin closed his eyes, the weight increasing on his body, ”Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

The beams started shifting till one suddenly fell on both men, crushing them. “Erwin, Mike, you’re going to have to hold the beam up. You have to or it won’t work.” Annie sounded calm but her eyes were alive with worry, Reiner had overestimated his hold on the beam below allowing it slip. The entire pile started to shift down on the men, pushing on Mike and Erwin till the feared they would suffocate. Bertolt had the other end, pressing it up while nearly bucking from the weight, his teeth bit into the soft flesh of his lip, blood dripping down his chin.

Erwin pushed up, keeping it from crushing him and Mike as Mike strained to help, body revolting against him and causing him to groan and yell out. Erwin’s injured arm was quickly getting tired, old aches inflamed as bone and screws grinded together harshly making him whine. At least when I die this fucking arm won’t hurt anymore, he though bitterly as Annie made her way deeper into the pile, a dangerous job without any equipment and just instinct to guide her. She appeared, a vague denizen of the night, griping Mike by his shoulders and pulling him out with all of her strength. Reiner and Bertolt grunted as the pile shifted on her way back up. Erwin started to black out, his chest was slowly being crushed by the shifted material.

She pulled them out falling back on the ground with a thud as Mike gasped, finally able to breathe properly. His stomach was bruised black and worrisome to her eye. She prepared for the inevitable shifting of metal and the screams of Erwin. But, when she heard none, she turned around in the pitch black of night where only two flashlights could be seen, “Annie, come hold this.” Reiner bit out through his clenched jaw, “What?” Reiner’s voice was strained but determined, “Come relieve me. I’ll get him out but only if you hold this while I do it. No more than three minutes. Come on.” Annie’s eyes watered, “You could die. You’ll be crushed.” She whispered into the darkness. Reiner knew that, but he couldn’t let Erwin die like this, “DO IT!”

Annie took over in Reiner’s place, the weight almost too much for her. She felt Mike come from behind; his shoulder sagged strangely against her back. He helped her as much as he could, coughing up blood as they stood with their bodies pressed together and Bertolt whined, “Don’t die, Reiner, don’t fuck this up. Please, Reiner.” Reiner moved through the debris, it’s shifting continuing to crush Erwin. Erwin groaned, the pressure quickly becoming too much. He held the main beam, the one that would end him, up as his arm began to give way. It faltered when Reiner was almost on him causing Reiner to slip and more weight rest on Erwin. He screamed out into the darkness, out into the branches and twisted metal, but cut off as soon as he saw Reiner’s face illuminated by the flashlight clipped to his shirt collar. “Lift here” Erwin felt his hands, “And then slide up.” Erwin and Reiner lifted as Erwin drug his heavy body out from under the beam.

Both men huddled in the small space between debris. They lowered the beam as best they could without disturbing more and prepared for the mad dash they’d have to make to get out through the small opening Annie had made for her trip down. Reiner’s arm looped around Erwin’s waist before he pulled him along with him as they drug and climbed their way out, hands and feet only finding purchase for a few seconds as everything started to collapse inward. Large splinters and rusted pieces of fences cut them and stabbed into the soft flesh of their stomachs and legs. When they emerged, scraped and bruised, they emerged outside onto the hard icy ground. Erwin’s lungs inflated fully, the crisp air burned but he welcomed it, anything than dying in the cold wet pit. Anything was better than that. Armin, I’m coming home to you.

Annie’s slight form stood over Erwin, “Mike has internal bleeding and a broken shoulder. Are you seriously injured?” Her tone suggested she would receive a yes but instead Erwin coughed and replied no, he was hurt but not as bad as Mike. They carried both men to the cars where Hanji and Levi sat in the open back, lights off, only just illuminated by the thin rays of moonlight between the clouds. Donner stood up whimpering as they approached. He made no move to leave Levi. All Hanji could see were three flashlights bouncing in the distance. Once they were closer and they saw Mike they bounded off the car crying and grabbing him. Annie pushed her back, “Hospital, NOW. Get in the car.” Hanji nodded running to the driver’s door and opening it.

Levi’s eyes were closed, the wind blew in his hair, I’ll never hear music again. I’ll never hear Eren’s laugh, Erwin’s voice as he sings at the piano, Armin’s witty retort, Hanji’s screeching, Donner’s growl, nothing. What if…Erwin…where are you? He had been so lost in his own thoughts he missed Hanji’s exit. He felt two large hands on either side of his face. Eren? Opening his eyes, he saw a familiar outline. He’d never forget Erwin Smith, never. He wore this man like a second skin. Erwin’s face was illuminated when the car door opened. He looked horrible, shaking violently, muddy, cut up, bruised, and soaking wet. Erwin’s lips were moving and Levi couldn’t hear him but he could read them. Words, endless strings of words, “Levi, I love you…Eren….Armin….Levi, I love you, I love you, please…sorry….why aren’t you saying anything?....can’t you hear me-” He couldn’t handle it anymore. Levi kissed him to shut him up, to stop those lips from moving. To stop those lips, the very reminder he’d only ever know his voice as an echo, only know it from a memory. In that moment, he just wanted to feel Erwin, wanted to know he was alive. That was all.

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At the hospital it was a different story. Erwin sat with Armin as he held his hand and the doctors checked him out. While not as bad off as Mike, he wasn’t as well off as he’d thought. He had a few fractured ribs, a concussion, and his arm was inflamed. An X-ray proved that another surgery might be in the future. Erwin chewed his lip, thumb circling over the knuckle of his pointer finger. Armin took notes while a buzz became a deafening roar in Erwin’s ear. Armin was his representative and he was thankful.

Erwin walked down the hallway to towards the OR waiting room. Armin went to get coffee, giving him his space without saying so and he was again thankful. Levi stood waiting for Hanji to come out after finishing paperwork for Mike who needed immediate surgery to stop the bleeding in his abdomen. The doctors were predicting a grim outcome. Erwin stopped just behind him. Donner’s head turned around, eying him with casual interest. Levi couldn’t hear and they had no idea if it was permanent. He came closer, watched as Levi’s shoulder rose and fell with his breath. His head tilted to the side to rest on the wall as he waited.

Eren was standing with Mikasa and Annie off the side, Reiner and Bertolt eating a honey bun between them. Reiner leaned against the wall while Bertolt angled himself in towards him, his hand held awkwardly towards Reiner’s side. He looked like he was going to reach out but put his hand in his pocket instead. Erwin did reach out to Levi, his hand shook as his fingers felt the soft and familiar silk black hair. Levi turned around; eyes rimmed red and cheeks flushed. Erwin felt himself try to smile. Levi only looked at him, mouth in a grim line.

When Eren appeared it was with a small notebook. He’d been communicating with Levi with the tiny sheets of paper. He handed one to Erwin, a sad smile playing at the corner of his lips. He leaned over to meet Levis lips, an intimate moment like the one Armin and Erwin had shared as he tackled Erwin in the field clinging to him like the world was ending. Erwin was so thankful they had Armin and Eren. He was thankful they were loved but he was so sad for them. When would it be enough? He wrote on the small pad in his clean typewriter form “How are you?”


Levi shrugged, “How would you be?”
Erwin nodded, “Upset.”
Levi snorted, his pencil moving fluidly across the paper, “You have no idea. I thought you died. I thought that I’d never speak to you again.”
Erwin’s stomach clenched, “I didn’t die. I’m here.”
Levi’s look penetrated him, “Will we ever be able to speak again, not on paper?”
Erwin’s words tumbled out, “We’re going to speak again. You’re going to hear and everything will be fine. You didn’t go mute…there’s opt-” Unless…
Levi turned his head to the side, chewing the inside of his cheek. His hand clenched the pad and Erwin knew, he knew he’d gone mute too and Eren must have figured it out and gotten the pads. Eren would have known, he knew Levi so well that Erwin was selfishly jealous for a few passing seconds. The side of Levi Eren got was reserved just for him, just like the side Armin got to see of his own self. He reached out but Levi pulled away, eyes wounded, No, no Levi. Don’t turn away from me. He wrote furiously, “Levi, don’t give up. Please, don’t go away again. I can’t lose you. It’s going to be alright. Don’t go back to that place where I lost you. Eren doesn’t need to see that. Don’t lose yourself…” His hands clenched and his head hurt, Levi walked away after catching a glimpse of Hanji. He took the notebook and left Erwin standing in the stark white waiting room as Armin appeared with two coffees and a blanket.

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Hanji sat on a bench on the long hallway with Levi. They didn’t remark on the smudged conversation left on the tiny note pad. They cried, their conscious weighing on them as they gripped their oversized jacket before pulling it off. Levi turned, passively interested in their movements. He scribbled something on the paper, “Are you ok?” Hanji wrote back, “I have something to tell you.” Levi’s face paled, “Great choice of words, shit head.” Hanji cried, sobbed really, pulling Levi’s attention to them. Hanji shifted, coming closer to Levi and taking his hands. Levi’s eyes studied them.

Hanji had always been curious about Levi’s upbringing and the loss of his family. Having no family in their life due to other circumstances they wanted to know what it was like for an orphan like Levi, someone whose community had also cut them off and thus could not even be considered a type of foster family. Levi had put away nearly three bottles of Jack Daniels that day at the beach when they finally laid in the sand together, the stars over them as the fourth of July weekend drew to a close, and talked about it.

Levi had gone still as Hanji rested their head over his heart. His hands carded through their hair as they snuggled closer. For Levi, Hanji was tempting, exciting, and likably annoying, a feisty challenge that brought some life back to his lifeless soul. For Hanji, he added a sense of competition to their life. They’d not been able to forget him ever since Petra introduced them one day over Skype. They had discussed dissection techniques, proper torture methods, and much more. Yes, Levi was a large missing puzzle piece in the grand picture and they had felt a connection from the beginning. The fact they challenged them and confronted them on intellectual matters had only made them more appealing.

As the night went on and the music of God Bless America remained a dull and constant murmur in the background, Levi opened up to Hanji that one of his greatest worries in life was that he had no children, no family, no one and thus had failed his people. He told her that he was raised strictly orthodox and it was important that there be someone to stand for him on judgment day when the Messiah comes. Those who had lost their families in the Holocaust and other pogroms or tragedies had often lamented, “Who will stand for the Steins? Who will stand for the Rabbe Schlomo Zueckerberg and his kith and kin? If I never have children,” he had paused inhaling, “then who would stand on judgment day for Levi Ackermann and his tribe?” Hanji knew Erwin and Levi had a relationship but they were not a couple in the traditional sense.

That had been made clear after his first day in Maria. He’d come early from New York, a bit of a hush had fallen around why when they’d inquired from their circle of friends, Erwin and Hanji had been close friends along with Mike since high school and Petra, Eld, and Oulu only had so much insight having either never met him in person but or as with Eld, owed him everything and privacy was something they protected. They threw a house party for everyone to meet and hand out. Levi had stepped into the room, leather jacket and pants, white v-neck shirt, cigarette between his lips, and look of utter contempt on his face. Hanji had felt a surge of excitement like they got every time they formed an interesting hypothesis to test. He’d walked over, smirked at them, “Hey, shitty glasses,” his voice held a playful lit as it oozed over them, like thick golden molasses, coating them fully. Hanji had smiled wildly, “What’s up short stack?” Levi tch’ed taking their hand and leading them to the dance floor.

They’d gone back to Hanji’s small studio apartment after grabbing burgers nearby. Erwin had been asked to come with them but he’d declined going home with someone else. They opened the door of their apartment turning on the small overhead light of the hallway. Levi hand’s grabbed their hips urging them inside faster. They came into the kitchen living room combination. His breath tickled their neck as his hands traveled around to their front, “This place is disgusting. You live like an animal.” Small rustling could be heard from a cage nearby, “You even live with animals. You’re a filthy person.” His tongue trailed up their neck, teeth nibbling on their ear, “You shouldn’t throw stones.” They turned around devouring him as they peeled their clothes off and made their way into the small bedroom.

Hanji had never felt such pleasure as Levi’s fingers moved inside of them, as his tongue licked at their sex and as his hips moved to meet theirs. He was wild and unabashed and so were they. Their words were Latin, their sex an evolution, their beliefs and iconoclasm. They went at it all night, in the morning, and for weeks afterwards. They’d work in the living room on their current research, testing and hypothesizing on their own, eat take out and then make their self defined type love. Levi had started to open up more and more of himself to them, sometimes for the better and sometimes to Hanji’s own personal heartbreak. The night they laid on the beach together Hanji made him a promise, “Levi, whenever you’re ready, I’ll have your baby for you.” Levi’s eyes had widened, “I could never ask that of you.” Hanji’s leg hooked over him, their body craving warmth, “I’d never offer if I wasn’t serious. You’ll have someone who stands for you, Levi Ackermann, I swear to you. Whether it’s ours or I’m just it’s home for a while. Yours shall outnumber the stars.”

Now, nearly three years later, in a hospital after entering into a committed relationship, performing ground breaking research, and the thought of that day in the front of their mind as they stared into the eyes of the second most important person in their life after he’d lost his hearing, they felt an overwhelming need to talk and complicate things further. Hanji took Levi’s hands, tears running freely down their face as they moved them to their body. Levi’s brow furrowed in confusion till they placed them better. Hanji tried a reassuring smile, “I’m pregnant, Levi. I’m going to be a parent and I’m scared. I didn’t plan this. I’m not….I don’t know if I’m ready or if Mike is ready. I’m scared. I always thought…I always thought I’d have your children….never my own. I’m scared.” Levi read their lips. He understood but he was lost. Something about life, about a pregnancy made him feel hope. He felt hope and he was happy, so very happy for them. His world started to buzz as he smiled and cradled them to his chest. It’s all going to work out.

Chapter Text

Mike survived the surgery and was wheeled into a room to recover for at least two weeks. The buzz in Levi’s ears continued to increase until it became painful. Eren took him to another doctor, distraught as he clenched his head to try and drive out the debilitating sound. Eren’s hands held tightly onto his discarded jacket and clothes as Levi had an MRI, CAT scan, was poked and prodded. Nothing really helped dampen the internal screech he heard. Eventually as the sun began to rise Levi could hear, if a little too acutely, but he could hear.

”Sudden deafness due Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by a miss-fire in the brain at the emotional distraught caused over the expected loss of patient’s best friend and roommate” was the official diagnosis. His muteness also attributed to it. While he regained his hearing it would seem that his voice would be slow to follow. It was considered a psychological hurdle to overcome, as his vocal cords were in working order and the MRI and CAT scans had revealed no damaged to the left side of his brain. Not for the first time in his life Levi was referred to a psychologist. He folded the paper up and handed it to Eren. He was just happy he could hear. He could always learn sign language till it returned, if it returned.

In Mike’s room Hanji sat in the recliner fidgeting with their jacket. They’d been distant these last few months after they found out they were pregnant and they worried Mike had noticed and perhaps, began to lose interest in them. If they’d just found out months ago it wouldn’t be as bad as it was. Hanji had found out a month ago due to a routine check-up. The doctor had appeared, smile on her face, “Ms. Zoe, everything has come back fine. You and the baby are doing wonderfully. What pre-natal care have you received? I assume you’ve gone to someone else?” She was a bit perturbed that her client had skipped out on her for anther OBGYN but now they have returned and she needed to know what care she had received. “I’m what?” The doctor’s smiled faltered, “Pregnant…five months. You didn’t know?” No, Hanji had had no idea and now they thought back on every moment of rash behavior, every drink, smoke, long night of no food and too little water. “I’d put you around having conceived over Labor Day weekend. Here, let me give you a moment and I’ll go get the paper work and such. We can take things slow.” Hanji felt their just recently swollen stomach that Mike had lovingly called their “food baby” or “winter insulation.” Hanji was overwhelmed and they thought back on their promise to Levi to carry his child. They’d never actually considered raising kids of their own. What a strange concept.

Mike started to become more alert, “Han, can I have some water?” Hanji got up to give him a drink from his tumbler. “Mike, I was so worried.” Mike smiled, “I know. This was some shit. But it all worked out and I’m here and I get to see your beautiful face. My God, you’re so beautiful.” Hanji smiled, happy that Mike was his old self. They wouldn’t be able to handle a depressed and shaken Mike. They need him to be the sensible strong one while they cry irrationally due to hormones. “Mike, I need to tell you something.” Hanji whispered walking over to the foot of the bed. Just then, the door opened to Erwin and the others coming in to visit Mike, they bit their lip, “Well, maybe later.” Mike shook his head, “Erwin, where is Levi?” Erwin looked at the floor, “Doctors are still trying to help him with the pain. Eren’s with him and has been texting Armin with updates.”

Mike smiled, “At least he’s able to hear something. Erwin, give me my shirt.” Erwin’s face lit up, Armin noticed him pause before pulling out his shirt that had been wrapped up in plastic before the surgery. Erwin had taken it before Hanji could confusing Armin. Erwin handed the bag over to Mike. He looked down and then rolled his eyes, “Ah, shit, pull it out and put it in my good hand.” Erwin removed something from the tangled fabric, Mike’s hand clenched around it. “Hanji, we’ve been together for almost two years now, living together in sin for about a year, mind you.” The people in the room laughed softly, “I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, if you’ll have me. Hanji Zoe, will you marry me?” He held the box in his open palm. Erwin stepped over opening the box to reveal the ring and then slipping away. “Hanji?” Hanji wasn’t teary eyed, they were just in shock, “Yes, Mike. I’ll marry you. I’ll marry you today if you want.” The room erupted into laughter and congratulations but Mike knew something else was going on behind their relieved eyes, “What were you going to tell me?”

Hanji shrugged, “Well, I’m pregnant.” Mike’s face paled as the room became quiet. Erwin covered in his mouth to suppress a gasp, “I told Levi…just now. I’m almost 6 months. Turns out I’m not getting fat, just you know…making life.” Hanji lifted their arms and just threw them down in a “I give up” fashion. Mike gasped, his face lighting up, “We’re going to have a baby…we’re going to be parents!” His pleased and delighted laughter filled the room until suddenly, as if he’d been struck by lightning, he faltered, “Shit…we live in a filthy house with sharp edges…” Erwin laughed as Hanji smiled, “I’ll invite short stack over to help us baby proof.” Mike nodded, “God yes, and one day when we hand him his own will return the favor.” Hanji’s heart swelled, this man…this man understands. I can do this. We can do this and I can still keep my promise one day. It turned out Levi was right, it was all going to be fine.

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After the storm the university decided to shut down for the rest of the week. Spring break followed and that meant the students would have two weeks to recover and attempt to clean up their city. Eren had stayed by Levi’s side, forcing him to take it easy and relax. They would be going to Atlanta that weekend for the concert, which Eren was thankful Levi would be able to hear, but he worried that the loudness and push and pull of the crowed would send Levi towards a relapse. He was still mute and became visibly frustrated when it was just he and Eren in their room. He was a man of few words to the outside world but he still had things to say. Writing in the dark was limited to text screens and Eren could tell that writing for him just wasn’t the same as leaning over in the morning as he caressed Eren’s skin and told him he loved him.

Eren said his morning and evening prayers for him, Levi was thankful as his hand moved beneath the sheet searching for him and grasping the hand next to him. Eren’s eyes swam with emotion as he promised Levi it would all work out. He hoped it would. Levi turned towards Eren in the hazy following morning, his hands roamed the plains of his body, dipping and curving. Eren moved forward, forehead resting against his, “Levi, when we get back from Atlanta,” he sighed as Levi ghosted over his lower stomach, “I want you to rest, really rest, and let me take care of you.” Levi gripped Eren’s hips pulling him even closer as his lips met his and moved against them in silent avowal. Eren needed Levi to find peace.

Erwin had called and taken care of all the details for the trip. He enjoyed the distraction. Armin had cared for him like he would break at any moment. He knew just how upset the incident with Levi and the pit had made him and because of that he cared for Erwin in every way. The shooting pain he had from his ribs had become a dull ache thanks to the pain medicine and bed rest Armin had assigned him to. Every day that passed without Levi’s voice, though, ate away at him. He was the reason for it and the guilt weighed on him.

The night before they left for Atlanta they had Shabbat dinner in the kitchen. Eren lit the candles and said the prayers in a beautifully accented voice that Armin praised in its authenticity. He merely smiled ear to ear but became bashful as Levi also wrote commending words of praise and surprise. He wanted to know if Eren had always been a closet Yid. Eren said it was just a few hours of YouTube and practice in the shower. Erwin watched as Armin’s lips quirked up at the corners, his eyes alive as he thought about something, worked it out, solved a riddle. Erwin reached over to take his hand under the table, “What are you thinking about?” Armin gripped his hand tightly, turning to him to smile sweetly, a mirror image of his dream while in the pit, “I’m just happy, Erwin.”

That night after Eren and Levi showered and climbed into bed and went to sleep Jean slipped into their room and, feeling like a creep, took photos of them, mostly Eren. He knew that Eren’s sleeping face was one of his own favorite sights and with a commission hanging over his head he would take all the inspiration he could get. Jean passed Erwin and Armin’s room on his way to his studio. Marco and Jean had officially moved in as well, their room a slow evolution of things they liked while respecting what Erwin and Levi had already prepared.

Jean slid onto the chair of his studio, hooking his computer up to his phone and downloading the photos. He already had a painting of Armin sketched out and a few base colors blocked in. To the side was one of Erwin, inspired by his regal countenance and finely sculpted body. He was a commander of the scouts, leading them as a beacon of hope against the titan hordes in Jean’s little made up world. Marco’s face was hidden behind the drop cloths on multiple canvases, some unfinished and some painful to look at in their realistic appeal and some made his heart swell with love. He was his favorite subject to paint, after all.

Speak of the Devil, Jean thought as hands slid under his shirt making him yelp, “Babe! You’re fingers are cold, ice cold.” Marco chuckled leaning against his back resting his chin on Jean’s shoulder, “I’m as cold as ice.” His voice was playful as he rubbed along Jean’s stomach and chest, his voice was seductive and warm like fresh honey from the hive, “You should come to bed with me.” Jean hummed, “I’m on a roll, babe. I can’t.” Marco kissed Jean’s cheek stepping back, “I understand, just don’t forget about me. You know your Italian stallion all alone in that big bed with the entire week off starting tonight. Just remember that. I might be nude and ready for fun.” Jean smirked, “I’ll be there in thirty, mon coeur (my heart). Je promets.(I promise)” Marco smiled rolling his eyes when Jean turned to look at him, “Je l’espére, mon trésor. (I hope so, my treasure)” Marco disappeared as Jean turned around to grab an empty canvas and start sketching out his next painting, smiling at the thought of Marco waiting for him.

Erwin sat in bed hearing Jean and Marco’s door close farther down the hall. Erwin was sitting up in the bed, pillows around and propping him up. Armin had arranged them for him before going to take a shower. He watched a few things passively on the television reading a new publication of one of his colleagues. It was horrific and that pleased him. Some colleagues were more enemies than friends and this one’s day in the sun had now come and gone paving the way for Erwin to emerge in his wake. His book would destroy this one.

Armin appeared rubbing his hair with the towel. His pajamas were blue with tiny white cartoon kittens on them. His shorts soft cotton and shirt a long sleeved thermal. Erwin paused, removing his reading glasses, “You look adorable.” Armin’s eyes narrowed, small smirk playing at the corner of his mouth, “You look very pleased about something.” Erwin loved that Armin noticed. He held the book up waiting for Armin to read the cover. “That guy named Patrick wrote that, right? The one who wrote all over my paper?” Armin’s nose twitched. “Yeah, that bastard that tried to correct my baby’s beautiful work. He and I have been at it since I got here and this book was supposed to be the shinning achievement in the field by the university.” Armin smiled wickedly, “Its shit isn’t it?” Armin’s voice was smug. “It’s utter incompetence at its best and the citations!” Erwin said the word with a grossly exaggerated high society southern drawl, “Are incorrect and most are based on false data!” Armin burst into laughter as Erwin dropped the book on the bedside table. Armin hung his towel turning off the lights in the room except for the TV and the small LED nightlight he kept in the bathroom. It was so bright it illuminated the bathroom and with the door open the pale blue light made its way into the bedroom casting a nice glow.

Armin climbed into bed but didn’t get under the covers as Erwin expected. Instead he moved over to his knees facing him. “Erwin,” Armin’s eye brow rose, “we haven’t fooled around in almost three weeks because of midterms and everything else that’s been going on.” Erwin blushed, he’d never be able to fully get over how forward and insatiable Armin was when it came to sex, though, being open and forward about such a topic was actually the healthy way to be, just not how Erwin was raised to go about it. “Well, while I fully in agree with that statement, my ability to throw you around and participate is not without flashes of white hot pain unless I’m drugged or drunk.” Armin tilted his head to the side, “But, I can suck you and ride you.” Erwin blushed a deeper shade of red making Armin laugh, “Erwin, for you to be so….aggressive in so many aspects of our life you become so easily embarrassed when I talk like that.”

Erwin shrugged still blushing, “I mean, I guess..Its whatever. I’m fine with that.” Armin looked a bit hurt and then he looked miffed, “You’re fine with that?” Erwin mentally kicked himself for his choice of words; blame the pain killers or something Erwin, “Uh I mean, I would like that.” Armin’s eyes narrowed, small frown on his face, “I mean, you don’t seem excited about it. If you don’t want to fool around then we don’t have to.” Armin crossed his arms, now pouting, “We can wait till you’re healed….or never fool around again you know because you definitely didn’t see excited…” Alarms were going off in Erwin’s head, “No! No, baby, I really didn’t mean to sound unenthused, I just…I didn’t want you to be doing all the work and me just layin’ back and reaping the benefits.” Armin looked even more miffed. Erwin held his hands up, “I surrender! Don’t be mad, baby. I’m not worthy of you and I worship the ground you walk on.” Erwin tried to look pitiful and sincere as Armin studied him.

Armin continued to pout, he dead panned, “You worship the ground I walk on?” Erwin smiled, yessss, forgive me my sweet, “Of course I do! Without you I’d be a wastrel of the world, landless and wandering, I’d be lonely and cold. My heart, my heart would turn away from other human affection and be a relentless and unforgiving,-“ Armin held his hand up, “That’s enough of that crock of shit.” Fuuuuckkkk he was not swayed, I could be having my dick sucked right now if I was a smart man, “But it’s true, my darling!” Armin gave him a Levi-esque look of disbelief, “Honestly, I should nag you for the rest of forever but I’ve been wanting to suck you for days now so badly it’s literally all I think about. So, this isn’t for you, this is for me. It’s all about me.” Erwin sighed thankfully, crisis averted for now and I’ll get what I really wanted anyway out of it.”Of course, my sweet. I am only here to serve you.” Armin rolled his eyes moving towards him like a predator.

Erwin closed his eyes feeling as Armin pulled his pants down. He opened them to see Armin leaning over, tongue darting out to wet his lips as he gave Erwin a few languid strokes. “Hand me the lube.” Erwin’s hands searched in the night stand as he started hardening under Armin’s talented hands. He watched as Armin removed his shorts and moved over Erwin’s legs to straddle them. His fingers were shiny in the light from the TV and Erwin groaned at the sight of him bending over to insert them. Armin gave Erwin a sultry look before returning to his cock. His tongue darted out teasing the tip and dipping into the slit. Erwin’s breath hitched causing a slight surge of pain. Armin’s petite mouth swallowed around the head suckling on it the way he knew drove Erwin insane. He bobbed slowly, taking in more with each rotation before hitting the back of his throat causing Erwin to moan loudly and groan more from sudden uncomfortable feeling of his chest. Armin smirked around his length, swallowing and humming, making Erwin suddenly much hotter. That little nymph.

Armin bobbed off with a pop, thin trails of saliva connecting him to Erwin. They sparkled in the light as he lapped at the underside of his cock from base to tip. Erwin was enjoying how much attention he was getting from Armin. He must have really been thinking about it for as the blow job went on he started to lose himself in his own ministrations at his entrance. Erwin controlled himself, the pain allowing him to ground himself and not go over the edge as Armin picked up taking him to the back of his throat and gagging on his thick cock. He wasn’t small and Armin was a trooper. He also knew that gagging noises turned Erwin on immensely and he played it up for him.

Eventually, Armin removed his fingers shaking from arousal and moved up Erwin’s body to rest over his shiny red cock. He was flushed pink, breath ragged as he met Erwin’s lustful gaze, “Fuck,” he lowered himself onto Erwin taking him in all the way to the hilt. Erwin groaned as the tight heat engulfed him. Armin, his sweet tight boy, was unbelievable. He meant so much to him, there was no way to describe how much he loved him. Armin started a slow but burning pace so as to not jostle Erwin and hurt him.

Armin moved on Erwin, full and burning with need. He grew closer and closer as he rose and fell. Erwin’s breaths were ragged, moans low, and the occasional groan spurred him on. He also enjoyed the things Erwin said to him during sex, “Baby, that feels so good. You’re so sweet, baby, so sweet and fucking amazingly tight. You’ll kill me, you’ll be the end of me, baby, my baby, my sweet baby.” Endless strings of words and praises did wonders for Armin’s sense of self and reaffirmed that Erwin did, indeed, want him and love him.

Erwin’s hands skimmed up and down from his knees to the top of his thighs before wrapping partly around his hips. He started pushing the thermal shirt up, wanting to see more of Armin’s skin, his lithe body. He pushed it over his naval, a small sigh falling from Armin’s mouth as he did so. He went higher, exposing Armin’s nipples to the cool air of the room. He stroked them, pulling moans from him. He pinched and rolled with his fingers making him hiss and buck. Armin was at the edge and so was Erwin. He pulled down his hands but the shirt kept slipping back down. Erwin took the bottom hem pulling it up and offering it to Armin who took it between his teeth, whining against the fabric as Erwin started to meet his thrusts going ever deeper. Armin’s hands tweaked his nipples as Erwin had adding to the stimulation and driving Erwin wild. They kept increasing their thrusts as much as possible before Armin came coating Erwin’s stomach and a little of his own. Erwin watched Armin’s eyes close, his face flush a darker shade of pink, and his nose wrinkle in that oh-so-characteristically-Armin way he’d come to adore before he lost himself to his own earth shattering orgasm, filling Armin and leaving him boneless and more sore than he should have been.

Armin shifted off of Erwin getting up to get a rag and Erwin’s pills. He came back cleaned them off and gave him the pills and some water, “You know everything, baby,” Erwin mumbled smiling into his water, “You’re the best , baby, I love you.” Armin snorted, pulling on his shorts, “You’re not forgiven. So, you can just stop trying to butter me up.” Erwin chuckled, “I mean it! Honest!” Armin crawled into bed, “Let’s watch something that also has men in it that don’t appreciate a good thing when they have it.” His tone was chiding but more playful than anything else. He fluffed his pillow taking a drink from his own glass of water near his side of the bed, he mumbled, “I love you too, daddy.” Erwin put an arm around him as they settled in for the night.

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The next morning they all packed up the car and headed to Atlanta. It would only take about two hours but they were in no rush. Armin wanted to get lottery tickets on their way to and from and Erwin made sure to pencil it in when he kissed him on his cheek and climbed in the back with Eren. They took Levi’s car since Donner was coming along, something Levi would have normally wished he'd not had to do since a dog stuck in a hotel room for a few hours was cruel in his opinion but he couldn't risk needing him and not having him if he got overwhelmed, something he'd shamefully been feeling a lot as of late.

If Eren suddenly spoke, he'd feel anxious, if the door shut a little quicker than normal, anxious. If a red light lingered too long, if Erwin called him, if Hanji texted, if Eren left him alone, if Eren was away from the house, if Eren was quiet, everything about Eren, if he had to write something down he’d worry he was taking too long. How would he learn sign language and when should he start? Would Eren want someone who was broken? He'd been winding tighter and tighter, often having several attacks a day sometimes minutes between them. The night was the worst because he would wake in a cold sweat, mouth moving but no sound that he could hear or even make. He was glad he didn't disturb Eren.

While Erwin’s powers of deduction were impressive, for he was indeed the smartest man Levi had ever known, Armin was quickly proving that with the wisdom age brings he'd surpass everyone. Armin had asked Levi pointed questions as of late about the situation surrounding the serum, Jeeter, the four Jane and John doe's killed with him, and more importantly he asked about trust. That was a word Levi saw in red. Trust, for him, was prized and rare. It was a hard concept for most to grasp in of itself but to also dictate precisely to what degree someone trusted someone, well that complicated the matter entirely.

Erwin and Levi had not discussed yet the message which appeared on the screen of the computer, in fact, he had avoided it hoping above all else it was a hallucination of sorts that came before the great emotional trauma but that simply wasn't so. He had thought it over and over a hundred, thousand, million times the riddle that flashed in red on the backdrop of his mind. Mostly though, laying beside Eren as he petted Levi’s hair or stroked his arm while whispering comments about the show they were watching or how the day went he wanted to confess to him. Confess and then be washed clean of his sin.

While Jean seemed to not appreciate the allure of confession on the Catholic side of things Levi for once in his life did. If he could tell Eren about his past transgressions and Eren still accept him and love him then there was nothing he couldn’t do. He'd slap a ring on that finger faster than someone could say L'chaim and he'd settle down to be an old man on a farm with kids and whatever manner of varmint Eren was sure to bring home. He would be his Mikvah. He would clean him and make him pure again. Levi didn't know when, but he'd become a romantic fool when it came to Eren and he enjoyed it. He simply enjoyed Eren.

Erwin and Levi sat in the front while Armin and Eren cuddled beneath a blanket in the back seat. After a few minutes of easy conversation Armin yawned and the next time Erwin looked back Eren was stroking Armin’s hair while they watched a movie on their kindle fire with their ear buds in. Erwin chuckled, “Well, they sure did go off in their own little world and leave us out.” Levi’s eyebrow rose, he looked in the rear view mirror to see what Erwin was talking about, snorting when he saw them. They were to arrive in another hour and Erwin was deciding which gas station they should stop at and get the first tickets. They’d need to change and get ready for their events when they got to the room, so grabbing dinner after that would be… Erwin lost himself planning and planning for when those plans went astray.

Levi’s hand moved over to Erwin’s scared arm massaging from the top of the shoulder down slowly to the wrist. His hands knew every screw, the shape of every break, the scars made initially by the blast, ill equipped doctors, and then by his own hands. “Lee.” Erwin exhaled a soft smile playing at his features, “Lee, will you do the surgery if I have to have it? You can ask the doctor that did Eren’s and Marco’s. He’ll let you use the facilities.” Levi’s lips twitched meeting Erwin’s eyes in the mirror, “I already called and asked.” His voice was quiet and a bit embarrassed. Erwin had called, begged, and then blackmailed them.

Levi blinked looking back at the road. His hand slid down to cover the top of Erwin’s hand, grasping it firmly and rubbing small circles. Erwin looked over at Levi, he looked so young. He opened his mouth, turning to Erwin and tried to say something. His lips moved but there was only silence. He shut his mouth, eyes watery and turned off on the shoulder to get out. Erwin understood, sliding over to the driver’s side. When Levi got back in Eren’s hand came around the car seat headrest to card through his hair. He leaned up, pressing a kiss to the back of his neck. “I love you.” Eren leaned back with Armin who had put their movie on hold to now stare intently at Erwin through the mirror, lips thinned and paled. When they got to the hotel the tension had faded and both Erwin and Levi were competing for Big Papa status.

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Levi unpacked the car, arranging everything and checking them in regardless of his lack of speech by the time Erwin paid for the valet to park them. Erwin called to have flowers and champagne sent to the room making Levi snort as they got on the elevator. By the time they walked off, he’d already made them a reservation at one of the nicest restaurants in town. Not to be outdone, Erwin had done the same for lunch the next day. Eren and Armin smiled as their partners fawned on them. They came to the door of their room, both rushed to open it and after a small fight of side elbowing and intimidate Erwin was victorious.

The room was country chic, hand scraped wooden floors with one wall covered in pressed tin. The other walls were a medium grey with dark coco stained wood furniture and white plush chairs and a huge bed with a plush grey comforter with a white down blanket and numerous pillows. Eren and Armin rushed forward jumping head first onto the bed laughing and rolling around with one another like when they were kids. When they looked up both men were standing in the room staring at them. Armin looked to Erwin, “What?” Erwin and Levi exchanged looks, “Well, there were supposed to be two separate kings not one oversized one.” Eren and Armin shrugged. Eren turned to Armin smile wide and sincere, “Well, I like this set up. I’ve missed sleeping with Armin a little bit.” Armin nodded, “I know, me too!” Both boys sprung off the bed opening their bags and setting about changing and preparing for their respective evenings. Levi merely shrugged, fingers rubbing Donner’s ear. Eren walked by grabbing him and kissing him plainly on the mouth, “Thank you, Captain.” He winked walking into the bathroom to take a quick shower as Levi and Erwin settled in on the two plush chairs smiling at their lovers.

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Dinner was exquisite. Eren felt underdressed since he was just going to a concert and not a museum gala or whatever Armin had called his thing with Erwin but no one seemed to notice or care. Eren and Levi both wore a similar outfit. Eren wore a grungy faded olive green tshirt, tight white skinny jeans, and green high top converse. Levi looked like a glamorous bad boy in a loose fitting white vneck with the words "la haine" in black cursive written in a slanted fashion across the entirety of the chest and mid section, black skinny jean, black lace up combat boots, and a black leather jack. He had everything they needed in his pockets including a pen and pad just in case their phones died. They looked like the perfect misfit rocker couple and Levi exuded a bad ass easy rider greaser feel that made Eren and others in the room swoon.

Armin and Erwin looked like this was just another restaurant in their world. They were the picture perfect power couple. Both, in Eren’s opinion, should be models for high end magazines and such. Erwin looked like James Bond in a dark black satin tuxedo with white button up, black satin buttons, and a small onyx bow tie. The suite was so well cut and tailored his broad shoulders and trim waist was accentuated dramatically making him all the more imposing. His black leather loafers were shinny under the lights and the crystal clear shine of his glasses brought one's eye to his face which was groomed impeccably. He had adorned them to read the menu stating his eyes had been feeling tired. Armin kissed his cheek before admonishing him lightly for not drinking enough water. A mothering Armin, Eren had to suppress a snort at the sight, was a happy Armin and more importantly a content Armin. Eren was glad.

Armin looked fun and playful compared to Erwin. His hair had been trimmed by Eren back to its shorter length if not a tad shorter and laid heavily, lushly, framing his face. He'd side swept his bangs a bit to one side at Eren’s request after seeing him in the navy blue tuxedo with silk blue lapels and a fun burnt orange undershirt and matching navy and orange paisley print pocket square. He'd opted for no tie and donned amber colored loafers that also shined under the chandelier. Armin smiled up at Erwin as he ordered him a mojito and a stout beer for himself. Dating above your age had its perks. He leaned over laying his head on his shoulder while they quietly discussed the appetizers.

Eren and Levi did about the same, holding hands while Eren asked if he could point out something good. Levis fingers deftly moved against the menu resting on item to item as Eren hummed or commented. He ordered for them when the waitress came, Levi's neck tightening in anxiety made Eren's heart stutter. He reached out carding his hand through Levi's undercut before kissing him. Erwin let out a content smile at the sight. "We're just old softies now, arn't we Lee?" Levi nodded a ghost of a smile playing at his lips. Armin looked out the window at the skyline. They were eating on the 56th floor of this very hotel and thus had a perfect view of the bustling city around them. Armin turned back around, "Have you and Levi always been patrons of fine diners?" His smile was playful and sincere.

Levi was happy that Armin wasn't treating him like he was broken; in fact he was helping him. Armin taking up time with Levi and working with him as he struggled to express himself had made things easier with Eren. He would take the majority of his frustration out on Armin and not Eren and Armin wouldn't pull any punches when he'd bite back. Armin was one of Levi's favorite people. He reminded him of a young Erwin but in a more likeable way. He was gorgeous, ugly, raw, scrappy, cunning, sincere, and manipulative. These were all attributes Erwin also possessed but with Armin there came a level of realness Erwin had lacked due to his upbringing.

Armin was someone Levi would have recruited for his gang in New York. He was someone he might have, at one point when he was younger before the war, loved. That wasn’t really ever possible with Erwin when they met Levi had realized that he was not only smarter than him but had come from a life style he’d never hope to achieve. Erwin had always reminded him of what Levi never was and never would be. At least Armin and he would have been on completely different yet equal footing due to their dysfunctional upbringing.

Erwin shifted in his seat. He brought his hand up to cup his jaw leaning on his elbow on the table as the other hand trailed across the white linen table cloth, "No. I’m why Levi even eats at them.” Armin paused as Eren studied Levi's face. He looked bored, shrugging as Erwin continued. "I would ask where he wanted to eat and the next thing I know he's got me at a random Döner stand for common street food. I started noticing he was uncomfortable about going anywhere that wasn't.....tawdry." Erwin’s eyes shimmered with fondness and nostalgia. They were also a bit taunting as if he was trying to get Levi going.

Levi crossed and uncrossed his arms giving Erwin the most un-amused look before waving a hand on. "When Levi and I first started working together he called me the delightful nickname "Rich Boy" often, later, singing the Regina Spektor song "Poor little rich boy all the couples have gone they’ve gone they’ve gone..." in my presence or leaning over my bunk in the early hours of the morning while drunk. He absolutely despised going anywhere that I chose and refused to let me pay when we did but he didn’t have a lot of money and we’d get into some serious fights. We stopped going anywhere nice because we got kicked out of so many places and it wasn’t worth it. I promised myself to break him, though, one day. So, when I brought him down to Maria, and he finally had "more money than God,” I started conditioning him to the finer things in life. Also, an impassioned speech about food quality and handling control really did it for him. He still acts brash when we go out and he's angry at me or not feeling like putting on airs. He hides that for you two so there’s that." Erwin smirked winking at Levi who rolled his eyes. He pulled out his pad and start scribbling a retort no doubt as the appetizers arrived and Eren started to devour them while occasionally stealing glances at Levi's words.

Levi finished in a flourish sliding the pad over to Erwin where he read it and chuckled, "I know, I know. I'm an old asshole. But you love it." Levi tch'ed then began eating as they all settled into a comfortable and familiar silence till Eren asked Armin about the exhibition. Armin perked up, "It's about WWI and the world at that moment. They'll focus on newly discovered information, recently declassified soldier testimonials, and artifacts. There will be a guest speaker, cocktail meet-and-greet with some leading specialists in the field and more!" Eren smiled, "You just want to touch a gas mask and Prussian helmet. Don't lead with all the other crap." Erwin smiled at the deliciously placed call-out while Armin pouted, "You wouldn't know a Prussian helmet if Otto von Bismarck himself presented you with one. Don't forget I was your tutor through school." Eren crossed his arms, "Says the boy who I had to pump his gas for him and still do." Armin replied quickly, "Those pumps are disgusting! They are also potentially dangerous." Eren's brow furrowed, "Yeah so you always risk my life. I thought you loved me." Armin leaned back with a smirk, Eren was so easy to get at, "Yeah, I love you enough to let you protect me from germs and sketchy pumps." His sweet smile spurred Eren on, "I think your irrational fear of needles under pump handles isn't founded." Erwin's money was on Eren and oddly enough, Levi’s was on Armin. “The possibility is real therefore the fear is not unfounded. They were putting needles underneath the handles in Spain for almost two years. People were being exposed to dangerous diseases.” Armin looked smug.

Eren tch’ed, “But this isn’t Spain and there aren’t any roaming bands of infected youth doing that around here. You figured there would be copy cat crimes like we lived in some Mecca of bustling volk.” Armin’s mouth formed a thin line, “Well, stranger things have happened. Plus, I mean, I am and was always thankful for your help in my most trying times.” Eren rolled his eyes, “You were thankful I put my health at risk, got it. Good thing I haven’t had to pump it lately. How have you managed?” Armin pondered, “You might not be able to contract it…wouldn’t it…be seen as an infection that the body needed to rid itself of?” He looked to Levi who’s eyes were alive with fire and thought, “And a few nice men have offered to do it for me at the gas station. But, mostly I ride with Big Daddy.” He patted Erwin’s arm cutely as Erwin’s eyes narrowed, “Other men have been offering to pump your gas?”Armin smiled, “I’m very popular.” Eren snorted, “What a charmed life you lead.” Armin gave Eren a swift kick under the table causing both Erwin and Levi to fill with warmth and fondness. Their lovers were quite adorable when they were sparring.

After dinner they each split off to their own events. Eren and Levi walked to the stadium where the concert was being held. Levi held Eren’s hand as the stood in line and his grip tightened over and over again the crowd began to swell. Eren leaned over kissing and nibbling on Levi’s neck after the found their seats in the VIP section. “Are you good?” Levi nodded leaning in closer to Eren’s affection, “Are you happy?” Again, Levi’s head moved affirming that he was, indeed, happy. “If you get too anxious just shake your head “no” at any time and I’ll get you out of here. Okay?” Eren bit down on Levi’s nape, hot breath heating his skin and making Levi’s eyes close. He moaned through his teeth, low. Only Eren could hear him and getting that sort of reaction out of him spurred him on. Biting must be a big thing for Levi; he’d be sure to remember that.

The show began and Eren and Levi lost themselves in the sweet croons and tunes of Lana Del Rey. Levi tried to suppress any trace of anxiety while hoping for more time with Eren doing fun things like this. For him, Eren was the shining star in his sky, the willful playmate that made him feel young, the tentative and submissive lover that let him shower him with as much affection as he could, and he was reason for trying to get better, to be better. He wanted to be the man Eren deserved. Eren simply lost himself in the music; thinking about Levi and having him play, as he had done many countless times in his mind, the long lost lover of the lyrics. Eren was so completely consumed by him, saturated by him, that he’d never be able to remove his scent nor his mark from his skin. Eren turned to Levi, his hands lightly resting on his hips as his lips moved inches from Levi’s own:


There are violets in your eyes
There are guns that blaze around you
There are roses in between my thighs and fire that surrounds you
It's no wonder every man in town had neither fought nor found you
Everything you do is elusive, too, even your honey dew

Eren and Levi moved together, bumping and grinding in the pale moonlight and they weren’t worried about anything but each other.

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The museum was bustling with cars and people. It was almost like a Hollywood event if you knew the professors around you and viewed them as stars of the silver screen. Armin and Erwin sort of did but then they were also attracting a lot of attention as they stepped out of the black town car Erwin had rented and entered to a busy lobby where the main exhibit began. Armin looked to the side noting the smaller side ones that he’d want to come back and see. Tonight, though, a trip into the trenches was what he was after.

They followed along stopping here and there to admire some of the artifacts. Coming to letters recently allowed into the public by Churchill Armin gasped, rushing forward to read the script. Erwin’s large hand rested on his shoulder, “Are you a Clementine or a Churchill?” Erwin watched as Armin’s eyes lit up, “I’ll be your Clementine if you’ll be my Churchill.” His voice was sultry without meaning to be. Erwin felt his face flushed, “That…was one of the sweetest things I have ever heard. I am honored.” Erwin smiled his eyes searching Armin’s looking for any kind of jest or insincerity. He found none. “Let’s go. I want to get a good seat for the speech and the film!” Erwin laughed as Armin pulled him through the ranks, “You know,” he giggled when they came to a sudden stop, “When we go to France we can take the Euro Star to Britain and see Churchill’s bunker.” Armin turned around, “Don’t you dare tease me.” His eyes were shinning and within those pools of cool blue lay warning and playfulness. Erwin found their seats letting Armin pick which he wanted to sit in, “I would never tease you about such that is so blatantly important to you.” Armin’s huge smile made his heart flutter, “Have you ever thought about writing a book? You could use the vacation as a type of “summer at bathe” to discover inspiration for one, my sweet.”

The other patrons were finding their seats as the lights began to dim. Armin reached over lacing his fingers with Erwin and kissing his cheek, “Well, I might have two topics that come straight to mind that I’d like to do some more research on…” Erwin grinned looking down, “Oh? Do tell, Schatzie.” Armin’s eyes hardened, “I could write about partisan activity in WWII” he paused licking his lips as a sense of danger started to grow in Erwin, “or the Shin Bet.” Erwin felt like the wind had been knocked out of him. Armin’s eyes were dangerous, studious, and he knew everything he needed to know had already flashed across his face. He was not match for Armin. He was a fool to think he would have ever been able to stay above him in skill. Levi had said as much when he wrote him the other day after Armin had spent a long time in their office with him. Armin would be the ruin of the world if it should displease him and him think to ruin it. “…Ar…min….” His words died as the room went black and the speaker took the stage immediately cracking jokes only funny to those in the field. Armin turned to kiss Erwin on the lips, a small act of apology for playing so dirty but also a symbol that much like when Erwin went through Levi’s email, he wasn’t sorry.

The speech was riveting and hilarious. The film was a kino noir interpretation of the Great War and life in the trenches. Afterwards a few notable professors were sweeping the room and Erwin was pleased that Armin shared his same train of thought when they both pressed forward monopolizing them and making connections. By the time they were leaving Armin and Erwin’s LinkedIn accounts had exploded. They were likable, affluent, and young. Erwin acted with grace when posed hard questions about his research. Armin couldn’t help but feel dreamy when watching him. His head swam a bit from the heat inside. He was relieved when Erwin’s arm found its way to his waist pulling him out into the cold air outside.

The concert was over according to Levi’s text. It was almost midnight. “Baby?” Armin curled into Erwin, “Yes?” Erwin continued to scroll through his phone, “Want to go to a club and “get wrecked”….what does that mean?” Erwin’s brow furrowed in confusion, “Erwin, are you telling me you don’t know what the slang “Get Wrecked” means?” Armin looked up with a disbelieving facial expression, “…” Erwin opened his mouth and closed it, “OH MY GOD ERWIN SMITH IT MEANS GET FUCKED UP.” Erwin flushed red, “Oh, well Levi was curious. Should I say yes?” Armin nodded and once he sent them the directions they got back into the Lincoln town car and went on.

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They pulled up to a Hookah bar where Levi and Eren were waiting outside, drinks in hand. Eren gave Armin a wicked smile when he appeared, “Jaeger Bomb?” Armin took a step back, “You know I tell secrets…” Levi’s eyebrow raised, he stalked forward as Erwin moved inwards as well, “What kind of secrets, baby?” They looked downright nefarious as the leered at Armin, “Secrets. Eren does it to. We call them Jaeger secrets. Once you enter into a Jaeger night you must never repeat the secrets revealed especially to those who were not there at the time of said Jaeger night. I won’t drink if y’all won’t swear. Admittance is one secret of your own.” Armin stood up straighter challenging, “So, what’s your decision?” Levi smirked before smiling fully revealing his pretty pearly teeth. Rarely did he smile so fully it had the three momentarily stunned. He patted Erwin’s face, a sign of a lighter and more fun Levi emerging from the past and Erwin couldn’t help but blush and feel his cheek where Levi’s hand had just been, “We agree.” And then the night became very interesting.

The music was intoxicating pulling Levi to the floor where he and Eren danced together until they needed to sit and hydrate with more alcohol. Erwin and Armin had taken up on the plush couches using the hookah between them and doing shots. Armin hadn’t lied; his lips were loose when drinking this brand and Erwin was getting more than enough information to use as black mail on Jean and Eren that is if he wasn’t bound by honor and oath. But, he’d broken those before so what was the harm when it allowed him to torture Jean? “Daddy, I want a secret.” Armin slid to straddle Erwin’s lap. “Haha! What kind of secret?” Levi was turning up a bottle of imported absinthe, watered down for America but still, while Eren was dancing in the shadows oblivious to the mass amounts of stares he was receiving, “Okay, I wasn’t circumcised till I was 20.” Armin stopped his wiggling to the music to just stare at Erwin, “What?”

Erwin finished his shot, “Yep.” Armin moved his face closer to whisper, “Why?” Erwin shrugged, “It was a dare.” Before Armin could continues, Levi appeared reaching for him. He willingly went with him to the dance floor. Eren came to the couch downing more shots and at Erwin’s behest a little water. Both men watched as Levi who was truly resplendent and transcendent on the floor moved to the Moroccan beats with fluidity and a sexual prowess that Eren had yet to see in their own play. “I feel,” Eren paused coughing, “I feel ashamed having danced for him when he can dance like that. I mean….damn….” Erwin laughed, “Yeah, he’s magical” Eren cast a sly look, “And delicious.” Erwin nodded, “Delectable, truly.” Eren for once could admire how devilishly handsome Erwin was. He noted the differences between Levi and him but something about him made him just want to reach out and touch him.

On the floor Armin slide closer to Levi, letting him touch him in ways that confused him. The other onlookers made him uncomfortable. He wasn’t looking to rile Erwin up nor entertain others. Levi was safe, he was a part of them and thus he didn’t shy away when his hips grinded into his or when he lips were so close he could touch them with his own. He didn’t hold himself back either, letting the music sway him as the alcohol made him hazy and light. Levi’s eyes were expressive, he said all he needed to say with them and Armin felt a pleasing shudder overtake him. Levi nicked his head over to where Eren and Erwin sat. Armin’s eyes followed.

Eren was leaning in closely to Erwin as Erwin’s arm rest on the back of the couch behind him. He eventually lowered it, his hands playing with stray strands of hair. Eren held eye contact the entire time his body slowly leaning in yet holding back. He looked like a wild animal who was debating if he should trust the nice human. Levi snorted; looks like Erwin is seeing what I’ve been seeing the entire time in the brat. I guess whatever happens in Hotlanta will stay in Hotlanta. Levi’s hands fisted in Armin’s jacket bringing him closer to dance hotly against one another.

Armin was panting against Levi as they ground together in the middle of the dance floor. Levi leaned in, eyes capturing Armin’s and pinning him, damn this kid’s got moves. Why the fuck not? Levi leaned in and Armin surged forward to meet him. Their lips locked as their hands started moving in time with the beat. Still dancing but hotly and passionately kissing they held the eye of everyone who looked towards them. Armin felt even more weightless as his system flooded with hormones and want. Levi’s lips were talented and held his with a surprising amount of tenderness. His tongue trilled, making Armin groan. Not to be out done, Armin returned in favor plunging into his mouth after Levi gasped at the contact of Armin’s thigh to his crotch. Armin sucked in Levi’s bottom lip, nibbling lightly, and then in a moment of brashness, biting it making Levi moan in deep in his throat. He opened his eyes, pulling back to take in Levi and his entire splendor. That kid has balls. Erwin, you’re a lucky devil. I wonder if he learned that from Eren?

Eren wasn’t sure who moved first but he was now engaged in a war with the Commander’s, as Armin called Erwin affectionately around him, tongue. He felt his strong arm wrap protectively around him creating a safe and comfortable feeling that was in stark contrast to the exceedingly hot kiss. Eren was vaguely aware of Levi’s stare on him, he was slightly worried this would have consequences but Erwin’s lips were soft, they were moving in such interestingly different ways than Levi’s had, and his tongue was thick and filled Eren’s mouth massaging his own tongue and making him breathless. He submitted but only when he wanted to and to submit to Erwin wasn’t as fun as making him work for it. Erwin knew his body posture all too well. He actively tried to seduce him more with well placed touches. He was trying to call a cat out of the top of a tree. Just like Levi. Realizing how hard he was working to try and relax Eren made Eren pull away more in a taunt. The power was intoxicating. When they broke away Eren smiled ruefully at him as Erwin smoothed his hair back pouring them another shot. Erwin’s hand rested on Eren’s side, tauntingly scooping down by his crotch.

Levi and Armin walked over, flushed and panting. Erwin and looked down at his watch, almost 3:00 am. He looked to Levi, “Food and then home?” Levi nodded, a glint in his eye that made Eren blush. They walked out onto the crowded streets following Levi’s lead to a Thai food truck. Levi pointed to what he wanted and Eren managed to order it with a straight face, drunk as they all were and slurring. “Commoner…food. This is shit for the plebeians, Levi. Are you a pleb at heart still?” Levi turned to Erwin with the first of their food in his hand, a hot stick popper. Levi made eye contact with Erwin, glaring and not blinking. Erwin matched him and both boys ate their pot stickers leaning up against each other so they didn’t fall, Armin kept trying to stick the popper in his mouth but he kept missing it, chasing it around with his open mouth like a small angry and uncoordinated shark. Levi lifted his popper and bit into it menacingly as Erwin lost himself to uncontrollable laughter. Levi turned slightly away from him grabbing another one and handing it to him. Erwin came beside him, hugging him against him and rubbing his arm before Levi looked up and they kissed shortly, sweetly, and chastely.

Eren and Armin’s eyes widened. They’d never seen them kiss and in truth that was about as platonic as you could be but there was such a symbolic meaning to it. It was like watching parents who’ve been married for years kiss. It made you feel a sense of warmth. Armin and Eren smiled. Both giggling and unable to stop as they leaned on one another and almost fell on the ground. They sat down on the curb to finish eating. Eren was surprised that Levi made no comment about it being filthy. Sometimes when he was relaxed and drunk he was a whole new Levi; carefree, expressive emotionally, and surprisingly affectionate.

Levi and Erwin sat together, Levi pressed into his side and nuzzled him with his head allowing his eyes to close as Erwin and Armin carried on an amusing conversation about what someone wore to their event. They also had a count of their new connections to see who was more popular. Erwin won, but only by three and Armin demanded they have a recount in the morning when he could do Maths more properly. Erwin had laughed reaching around Levi and Armin to hand Eren his coke, "Thirsty?" Eren was and had foolishly sucked his dry seconds after getting it but he didn't want to risk sucking someone else's dry, "umm but it's got....your spit on it..." Erwin seemed beyond amused, "You have more of my spit in your mouth from kissing me than you’d get from this straw, Eren, my God." Levi snorted, his body shook in silent laughter as he handed Eren his since he was finished. Both looked at the boys with affection in their eyes. They were so lucky and so happy it was almost like a dream.

They we all still drunk but not near as bad when they got up. They paid for a cab but the only one that would pick them up was small and they had to ride Erwin and Levi in the seat and Armin and Eren in their laps. The driver was an old Turkish man and he drove like a mad man. Eren started cursing him out in Turkish when he almost hit a light pole and chased away from a cop surprising everyone but Armin who knew he was fluent thanks to his mother's insistence they speak it together at home. Armin had learned as well while he lived with them, fluent but nowhere near the native level Eren was. The man seemed shamed but equally delighted someone was speaking his native tongue and proceeded to talk Eren's ear off. Eren bickered with him as they approached the hotel about politics and religion. They paid and walked inside to the elevator.

Armin leaned against Eren, his head resting in the crook of Eren's neck nuzzling the sensitive skin as Eren's arms wrapped around him massaging his lower back. Both were tired but oddly enough, very horny after being tempted on and off that night. Armin bit softy the exposed skin suckling a faint purple mark as the elevator came to a close. Eren's eyes were closed but when the door beeped he opened them and pulled Armin's mouth off. Levi held the door for them as they slowly made their way into the hall and down to their room where Erwin was unlocking it.

Once inside Levi and Erwin took their clothes off leaving them in their briefs. Armin was pawing at Eren's clothes and after the things that had been allowed to pass so far that night Eren decided to take chance and see just what their two older lovers would allow. He discarded his clothes quickly as well as Armin's who sighed in relief once left in nothing at all, his skin flushed at the site of Eren's naked form, one he knew so well. Armin pulled Eren to the bad falling back on it and wrapping his legs around Eren's trim waist before kissing him and earning an appreciative moan from Eren. They kissed passionately, comfortably as they had their entire teenage lives when they had explored each other in the shadows. Eren's hips rolled against Armin increasing their pleasure. Armin whined after a particularly rough roll and Eren decided to keep them coming.

After what felt like hours they sat up, Armin's legs still wrapped around him but now sitting in Eren's lap. This was Armin's favorite position, whether it was just while kissing or riding Eren, this was the way he liked to be. His hands fisted in Eren's hair as he left his lips, slick and swollen and traveled down to all of the soft spots of Eren's neck and collar bones. Eren moaned, throaty and needy. Armin liked to tease him but he'd missed Eren like this, missed the familiarity of them moving together intimately. He wanted to do this quickly and he wanted to do it well.

Armin's lips found his again, their tongues fighting for dominance. Eren bucked up a few times causing Armin to falter and gasp. He sucked Eren's tongue greedily making him shudder. When it withdrew he bit Eren's lips letting him know he was ready to take things further. When they pulled back panting and flushed, hips still moving slightly searching for friction, Armin's eyes glinted with a taste of sadism that made heat pool in Eren's stomach. "Açik, güzlem (open, my beautiful one)" Eren opened his mouth taking in Armin's petite fingers that were soon delightfully fucking his mouth and choking him. He learned he liked it rough with Armin who had always been the more open of his partners. Jean had been reluctant to make him submit to the level he wanted but after taking some time to think about it Armin had embraced it and became a wonderful dom. After his fingers were coated he removed them. Trails of saliva still attached and a small impish smile as his free hand pulled Eren closer into a bruising kiss where only their panting and gasps for air could be heard.

Armin reached back inserting a finger into himself as Eren sucked and bit his neck leaving a splatter of purple on his collar bone and shoulder. Armin was successfully fucking himself on three fingers when Eren removed his hand from his entrance bringing it up as sucking on them much to Armin's delight. He hadn't been rimmed in a long time and Eren loved to do it. He almost crawled off and offered him the opportunity but they didn't have time. Eren loved to suck Armin's cock, his fingers, his toes, anything. Armin lifted himself up before lowering himself on Eren's swollen cock. He took him in inch by inch groaning in pleasure at being filled.

Eren's back tensed, the well sculpted muscles contacting in the light of the windows that lined the walls for panorama views. They looked debauched as Armin slid up and down on Eren, his hair bouncing and falling perfectly to frame his face. His bangs obscured his eyes leaving his open mouth on display. Eren moaned and bucked up to meet him, pounding into his tight hot petite body. Armin's nails dug into his skin leaving trails of red up and down his back causing Eren to cry out wantonly.

Eren allowed a litany of Turkish to fall from his mouth; dirty promises and wishes that turned Armin on and made him leak precum all over. It fell over the head of his pink cock like a waterfall. Eren kissed him needy and rough before biting the side of his jaw and asking, begging, him to slap him. Armin's hand pulled him back harshly, roots stinging in protest and his neck strained at the angle before he was rewarded with a resounding slap to his face. He could taste blood in his mouth as he smiled. He moved back for another and then another. He was hitting Armin's prostate dead on and knew he was so close to losing control. He wanted to see Armin come so he took him in his hand and stroked in time with his thrusts.

Armin cried out tightening around Eren as he neared his climax. Not to be outdone, his hands found Eren's throat giving him what he really wanted and choked him, choked him a lot harder and rougher than Levi did and it felt good, dangerously good. Eren lost himself and they came together whining and moaning. They slumped against each other, shaking limbs and sweaty skin. They rode out the rest of the aftershocks exchanging lazy kisses and reaffirming caresses to each other before Eren lifted Armin off of him to the side and they lay facing each other trying to catch their breath and searching for warmth after the sweat started to cool on their skin.

The sound of a chair moving on the wooden floor set them on edge. Eren's skin burned as he felt a hand trace from his ankle to his shoulder. Armin sighed as he felt Erwin’s large hands pick him up and hold him to him. Armin's legs wrapped around his waist as Erwin's hand brushed his hair out of his face and caressed his cheek bone. Erwin kissed him, easily maintaining control as Armin, boneless and hazy, clung to him feeling his hardness press into him.

Eren felt Levi turn him over on his stomach. He left kisses up and down his spine, occasionally he nipped at his skin making Eren shudder. Cool fingers wet from lube made their way to his entrance. He smiled as Levi inserted the first finger slowly stretching him as the other hand massaged his cheeks.

The bed dipped, Armin was laid next to Eren also on his stomach. Their faces turned towards each other as Erwin’s fingers teased Armin's already stretched hole. Both men kept up their ministrations until both were hard again and whining to be taken. Levi leaned back on his haunches lifting Eren's hips up higher and admiring his toned body and luscious curves. Erwin did the same, leaving kisses on Armin's perky bottom. Both exchanged looks at the other's partners and then the other's own body. Levi swelled with satisfaction, pride, and smugness under Erwin’s gaze. They leaned in kissing each other passionately as both their lovers turned to them, clenching the sheets in anticipation and growing arousal at the scene behind them. Levi broke away a thin bead of blood on his lip as Erwin looked absolutely feral. With a few swift and stern spanks to their lovers asses they sheathed themselves fully and started up a relentless pace.

Eren moan unabashed as Levi pounded him. His fingers reached out finding Armin's as Armin bucked back into Erwin and groaned, eyes rolled back and mouth open. It was like being high watching Armin get fucked next to him and he lost himself as Levi leaned over him biting and sucking while grabbing his hips and bruising them. Levi's hand moved down to stroke teasingly at Eren's erection while the other left red hand prints on his cheeks as he swatted them. Eventually he slid his hand up his back to his hair, pulling his head back as Eren hissed in pleasure, and held him there as he fucked him into the mattress roughly and thoroughly.

Erwin had a sneaking suspicion about something Armin would be an absolute slut for. His already huge length stretched him wider. Since he was looser and more pliable now, Erwin decided to test out something. He inserted a finger alongside his engorged cock earning a slurred hiss of "Y-y-y-eeee-s-s-ssss Daddy...oh god yes daddy please more daddy daaaaddy pleaseee and then he inserted another while pounding into him. Armin was writhing uncontrollably from the stimulation. He came quickly thereafter, falling limply and letting Erwin use his body till he found his own release filling him up and claiming him again. Erwin held himself up, much to the protest of his fractured ribs that were screaming in pain, not to fall and crush Armin who was open mouthed and drooling as his eyes fixed on Eren and Levi. It wasn’t long after that they both finished and joined them in post orgasmic bliss.

They lay for a few minutes till Levi got up to head to the bathroom. Eren followed, limping and glassy eyed. Erwin turned to Armin, his eyes playful and a bit astounded like Armin was a new species of animal that he was learning things about for the first time, “You’re a kinky little thing.” Armin laughed tiredly, “I am and I’m fucking proud. Don’t shame a kink, Erwin. It will come back to bite you.” Erwin moved to get up when he heard the shower turn on, “Let’s get clean.” Armin tried to move but his legs were like jelly, “Daaaaaddy, carry me.” His voice was whining and childish, he pouted knowing Erwin wouldn’t deny him. He lifted him up and carried him into the bathroom and the shower where they washed.

After the all returned to bed, Eren and Armin curled up in the center together limbs and arms tangled together like they had done as children. Eren fell asleep quicker than ever with Levi against his back and Armin’s sweet little breaths across his chest. Erwin rolled on his side, pressing himself against Armin as he slung and arm over the two in the middle. Eren hoped that Levi would stay asleep this night and get some rest he greatly needed.

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Sometimes things happen at inopportune times. The brain fires synapses that travel along neuropath ways to other areas of the brain that unlock other forgotten memories. Memories, as we have come to learn, are not actually remembrances of that time but of the last time you thought about the event. Sometimes, the best way to preserve a memory is to not think about it and certainly not poke around in it and fixate on something too long, something that could be worthless but now what was really important is lost due to the deterioration the memory. Sometimes, when you’re trying so hard not think about something, you honestly forget it and suddenly it all comes back to you, in a flash. Like the sound of striking a match, a flame is created; a light in the darkness illuminates the space and reveals the ghosts of your past. Levi’s mind was a illuminated.

You invite me in, you speak to me, get off my land Levi’s world was on fire. How was it that he’d never even suspected them? No one would have. Everyone trusted them and there was no reason to doubt that. They’d been involved in his life for three years. They’d been there and he’d known ever since Hanji had told him…Their working for them but why?

Back at the pit full of sand that covered layer after layer of bodies Levi stood, sweat stained and bloodied. His hands had open wounds and he wore rags that once used to be a part of his uniform. He heard Erwin cough, turned around to see him sitting down on the ground, towel in hand to wipe the sweat from his face. He looked up at Levi, his eyes sunken in form lack of nutrition and food. They had made a sling for his arm so he could rest it when he absolutely didn’t need it. Levi had taken on more of the duties so he didn’t have to use it.

The sun was high, making him squint. Erwin had taken the brunt force of what it was like to be pro-Israel in a very anti-Semitic land by refusing to let go of Levi and step to the other side with the handful of other Christians they had as hostage. They forced them to share rations, work the same shifts and perform the same tasks. All were horrible. Levi lost himself. He knew he was disassociating more than half the time and then there was the fact he’d become completely desensitized to killing and death. He actively hoped the person next to him was hit with the bullet when they didn’t move quickly enough. He even sometimes hoped that they killed Erwin instead of him but sometimes that was more because he wanted a reason to launch a full out assault on them for revenge. He was sick mentally, scarred and broken.

Levi walked towards him but stopped when their slave driver appeared. He’d taken a perverted liking to Erwin and every day tried to convince him to give up sticking with Levi. If Erwin chose to forsake him, he’d be dead within a week. He had a pomegranate and an orange. He said, “Tell me boy,” he always referred to Erwin as boy like he was some sort of American country man and it made Levi’s stomach turn with hatred, “You believe that Christ was the messiah and you follow the law of the Christians. So, what can wash away your sins?” Erwin looked at the ground and then to the man, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus…” his voice trailed off waiting for whatever may come. It wasn’t uncommon for them to answer and be beaten regardless if their answer was wrong or right. It was just a way to provoke them. “HA! Nothing but the blood of that little Jew over there, boy. He’ll be the death of you.”

He leered at Levi, turning his boots in the dirt, “But, you know you’ve done well so I’ll give you a treat.” He motioned for a new slew of civilians that had been fingered as anti-Hamas and whatever else political dissidents, critics, academics, etc… to be brought over. “If you give me a kiss, boy, wid dat pretty little mouth of yours I’ll give you this orange. If you kill those peoples there, all four of dem, I’ll give you both the orange and the pomegranate and if you kill that Jew,” his eyes had burned, “I’ll let you go. Honest.” Levi internally scoffed. He’d never let Erwin go. Rape him and shoot him, yeah, but go? Never. Levi braced for the decision.

Erwin stood up, sand on his pants falling off into the breeze swept along the road. It wasn’t Gaza, it was almost worst. Freedom, or the chance of it, was more obtainable but still so far out of reach. Erwin took his pistol and moved to shoot the four people: a mother and father and their two children. When he turned back the man laughed fully, slapping Erwin on the back like he’d done something hilarious. Levi was numb. He didn’t’ even flinch when he had heard the shots, even if they might have turned on him. He could have gotten everything. “You could have shot dat Jew and those peoples and just left with a little food, you know?” So that had been his plan the whole time that he’d wanted Erwin to follow, sick fuck.

The music played over the loud speakers to drown out the sound of killing. Whatever person had made the playlist only made one and never sought to change it. The same song came on filling Levi’s ears with it and his mind with the faces those four people, ”Oriental Dress, The One You Love Is A Mess, Men Standing, Women Dancing, I watch….I watch” The man gave the two pieces of fruit to Erwin telling them it was time to go back in the hole and leave Bad City for the day. They went back to their now empty cell that had been filled with 20 others with only room to stand pressed against each other like how Levi had imagined the cattle cars of Europe to have been like for his family. He still had issues with tight spaces.

They went to the farthest corner away from the door. That was something they’d learned to do. At night they’d come and pull the ones to weak to move out and shoot them, making room for others they’d say as they shut the door back. With Levi’s leg and Erwin’s arm they needed to be as far away as possible because at night their limbs became stiff and they were too groggy to retaliate. Erwin spread his legs allowing Levi to curl in-between them and lean on his chest. He took the fruit out, “Just eat it yourself. You shot them.” Erwin shoved the pomegranate in Levi’s hand, “Isn’t this a holy fruit? Something about….commandments? Or Mitzvahs?” Levi snorted, touched but not wanting to let on, “Mitzvoth, but yeah, the number of seeds is supposedly the exact number of commandments, 613. tThat’s actually a widespread misconception for it can have many seeds. Though, it’s not a horrible factoid or anything to accept for it serves a purpose.” Levi started to peel it and break it open gently as Erwin peeled the orange deftly even with his one hand.

Erwin tried to eat the orange but Levi sighed and rolled his eyes taking it from him and shifting to feed Erwin. After a few quiet minutes Erwin shifted, “You bastard. You keep trying to feed me more than my share. Fucking stop and eat.” Levi looked at what was left, “Your arm worries me.” Erwin rolled his eyes, “Your leg worries me. Eat. Live. Isn’t there also some shit about “an hour of life is still life?” Levi’s eye watered as he ate, “You’re becoming Jewish. That doesn’t bode well for you here.” Erwin studied him making sure he did indeed eat what was left, “Maybe I’ll convert.” He mumbled but noticed Levi go stiff, “No one….no one would wish to be a Jew, Erwin.” He left it alone. They both did. They let the night come and hoped that no one came to pull them out and shoot them and toss them in the pit outside with the others. Levi selfishly, hoped it wasn’t him.

But, why now? Why think of this now? Levi stood in the middle of Bad City and across from him he saw and envoy of Red Cross workers who were paid off to say they saw nothing of the illegally detained prisoners of war. He saw them crawl into the back of their vans after the relief packages were distributed not to those who needed them but to the militants with guns. He saw a young man climb into the back with his Red Cross armband higher than the others on his arm, a pleasing face but one that wasn’t remarkable in any way. They made eye contact and then the doors shut. The dream was over. Bad City bad city badcity badcety badsity bahdchity badasi badahceetee bahdehschitie

”Levi!”

“Levi! God damn it every night, every single fucking night.”

“Levi TELL ME!”

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Levi’s eyes were open, he was sweating, clutching something, Eren’s sleeper shirt, and he was on his back pinned down and crushed by Eren’s long limbs. “Levi,” his voice was stern, “Levi, every night, even since you’ve gone mute, you’ve woke me up talking in your sleep. I have to know, I ABSOLUTLY FUCKING HAVE TO KNOW, what the fuck is it?!” Armin continued to lay still on the bed as Erwin moved off to stand awkwardly to the side. It was so quiet; they more than likely hadn’t heard the insistent mantra Levi muttered every night, every night since Valentine’s Day more than a month ago. Eren leaned down, his face a mere two inches away, he was intimidating, manic looking, and angry. He wasn’t the normally happy go lucky guy Erwin and Levi had come to know. It was disturbing. “Eren, you’re getting too mad.” Armin’s voice was warning as he reached out to grab his wrist, “You know you’re getting too close to edge. Let go of Levi.” Eren’s eyes closed for brief second his neck flushed red, veins purple, and his body trembled with effort before he let go of Levi and moved over to Armin.

Armin sat up getting off the bed, “Let’s go.” He pulled on Erwin’s coat over his pajamas and grabbed the room key. Eren followed obediently as they left the room. When Armin turned to close the door he looked at Erwin, “We’ll be back in shortly.” And then they were alone and horribly confused.

They returned about fifteen minutes later, a very cold Armin and a less angry Eren. He just looked tired and that’s when Erwin figured it out. Eren had been repressing much of what was going on with Levi because he didn’t want to force him to do or think anything that could be detrimental. Eren had been winding and winding tighter and tighter till something finally broke him. What had that been? Eren moved to sit in front of Levi, “I’m sorry for getting angry. I get angry. I haven’t been sleeping right since Valentine’s Day.” Erwin moved closer, “Why? Why haven’t you said anything?” Eren moved closer to Levi, “Because you do and say things in your sleep, Levi. Sometimes, they fucking terrify me. You say all kinds of things, tell me secrets. I assume they’re secrets because I mean, I wouldn’t repeat them even if my life depended on them. And honestly, I don’t give a shit really about what you’ve done or who who you-“ Levi’s eyes widened in horror, “You get my point. But, I have to fucking know, Levi. I have to fucking know what or where this bad city is. You’ve chanted it since you went mute every night. You’ll wake up sweaty and upset and I know you’d be upset at yourself if you knew you’d woke me up so I just lay there…I lay there and pretend to be asleep till you finally relax. We do this every night.”

Erwin stepped forward excitedly, his voice trembled with emotion,“You can speak, Lee. You can speak. You can get over this and speak.” He was still concerned, as he should be, at what Eren knew about them and their past. It wasn’t that he’d intended to hide everything but he worried that they’d leave if they knew, knew what they’d done to survive. Levi looked to Eren, scooting forward to cup his face, he already knows things, knows my sins, he opened his mouth; anxiety overtook him as Donner moved in his kennel, he didn’t leave me. I can tell him, I can tell Eren. He cleared his throat, when he spoke he stuttered and trembled, “Ba-a-d” he coughed, “Bad c-city isn’t a real name. I-it-s-s a nickname. It’s Baidschi, but the p-p-people w-h-h-o…” Levi didn’t even know how to begin and he didn’t really want to.

Erwin stepped up for him like many times before.”The men who were basically our handlers, slave owners, torturers, people who took us hostage and beat us and did horrible things to us for eight months all spoke a little broken English and when they spoke to us Baidaschi sounded like “Bad City.” So, we’ve always called it “Bad City.” They’d play music when they had us there; they rotated hostages and used them to do dirty work. This was the second to last stop on the rotation for us, when they sent us to Egypt we escaped, but that’s for a later story, and it was said no one ever left “Bad City” because they’d shoot all day long political dissidents and people that didn’t align with the regime or Shariah law or whatever else displeased them and they’d play this music all day loudly and the song you played on Valentine’s Day “Dancing Girl” was the main one they played. They thought it was catchy and fun. It’s also a song Levi used to dance to in the barracks before we were taken. It was one of his best routines and I think that’s what started the sleep talking. I hope you’ll continue to not treat him or I differently and just…wait before you start making judgments…”

Eren and Armin processed the information in silence. Levi’s face was tear stricken, “I’m so happy I can talk to you again, Eren. I love you so much. I don’t tell you often enough.” Eren surged forward kissing him, “Shut up and kiss me.” Levi sobbed a brief giggle as Eren’s lips covered his. A flashback to that day at the lake house where he’d told Eren the same thing when he’d gotten too mushy. “But, I have something else to say.” Eren’s eye shone, “What is it?” Armin had sat in one of the chairs after letting Donner out, “The message on the screen.” Levi nearly jerked out of his skin.

He’d been so careful not to say anything how did he know? “How the fuck do you know anything about that?” It was a snarl that put Erwin on edge, “Don’t talk to him like that. I didn’t do anything to Eren when he had you pinned down and helpless.” Erwin flushed red, fist clenched. Armin merely continued, “Jean saw it. Give him some credit. He’s got eyes and he knew that it was important. He told me and I started looking in to things on my own. You became visibly upset about it before the alarm went off according to him.” Armin looked tired as he met Levi’s eyes.

”I know who the mole is and I think you do too. We just didn’t arrive at it the same way.” Levi was still miffed. “How many steps ahead of me are you?” He hissed through clenched teeth, if he’d just told me then we could have worked together. Armin’s eyes glinted with anger, “Maybe five or six, but that’s beside the point. I have an unhealthy habit of never turning off. I just keep processing information continuously. Plus, this affects you and believe it or not you’re important to me, you fucking asshole. You and Erwin are at risk. Eren and Jean are involved in this as well and at risk. Was I supposed to just sit back and be useless? I’m not worth anything when it comes to a lot of situations but here I can at least lend some sort of assistance. I’m tired of always being the most useless person.”He mumbled the last part before clenching his fists, “So, do we just say who it is now or what?” Armin and Levi were both stewing in rage by the end of his sentence.

Levi gritted out behind clenched teeth, “How do we even begin? It’s someone we know.” Armin turned in the chair to see Erwin’s pitiful face. He looked so lost and drawn in on himself. “I don’t want to talk about this right now.” His voice was low a whisper. “I can’t talk about it right now.” He was being crushed by the weight that someone they knew was involved and Erwin hadn’t considered that. Armin moved forward, “We don’t have to talk about it right now. We can all go back to sleep knowing that Levi can talk, we’re all together and we’re all safe, and we’re almost out of the woods. When we wake up and go to lunch we can talk about it then. Nothing is going to happen today and nothing is going to happen this week. We’ve got time.” Eren moved towards Levi, “Yeah, we just need to sleep on this. But, please…it’s not Hanji is it?” Armin shook his head, “God no. They’re fine.” Eren looked Armin dead in the eye, “But, you’re lying.”

Chapter Text

The sky was cloudy and the wind had a bone chilling bite as he made his way through the crowded streets of downtown New York. He passed by happy couples, tourists, day workers, CEOs that dripped with money and then there were the homeless begging on the streets. He’d begged his fair share while moving around searching for someone to complete him. He’d started picking off his homeless friends to see what made them tick in poorly lit hotel rooms while he was systematically kicked out of each medical school he was accepted to. One would think they’d all have learned about him but he was a shadow on the wall, a paperless person, and nothing more.

When he came to New York he decided to lay low, met a nice boy with the sun in his eyes. They were narrow and piercing. It looked like they were made of honeyed flecks and molten gold. He loved his pale skin, marked up a bit from his scuffles on the streets. He had a thin scar on his hip from a knife fight and an appendix scar. It wasn’t done very well, he’d thought to himself as he’d traced it as they lay on the mattress on the floor of their apartment they shared with three other people. He’d gone missing on for almost a month with dodgy phone calls and promises for understanding. By Friday he called form a pay phone saying they needed to talk about something important.

They met in a rough and tumble bar. It smelled like piss, vomit, and beer in the ally as he went through the back into the kitchen grabbing food off the plates as he passed. A man slapped him with a cloth, “He’s got you food out there, you freak.” He smiled widely at the man making him take a step back. He’d always been different. It bothered him as a child but soon he learned it was more of a gift than a curse. He could intimidate people without trying and that always led to him coming out on top.

He moved through the bar to the only window booth there where his love sat. His blond hair shimmered in the light as he drank from his tea cup. He was overjoyed and spoke first, “Hey babe, how are you?” The boy smiled, “Jemison,” he exhaled, relieved and happy; “I’m doing better now that I get to see you.” He leaned across the table kissing him. “What did you want to talk about, Farlan?” Farlan sat back in his seat, “You remember the old boss, Levi?” Jemison nodded, he didn’t know him well but had seen countless Polaroids of him and Farlan and Isabel, his roommate, together smiling and sometimes in compromising situations or covered in scrapes and bruises. “Well, he left us and went into the marines when he turned 18. Isabel and I are going to join and try and get put in his squad now that he’d up in the ranks. We were really close and he’s like a big brother to us or…a father figure is more like it.” He offered a small encouraging smile to Jemison.

Jemison’s smiled faded, “When?” Farlan took his hand, “Two weeks from now. I’m sorry. You’ve got school here so I figured when you finished I’d be done with my first or second tour and then we could decided where we wanted to live. I’d have some money and we could buy a house together or apartment in the city.” Farlan smiled and Jemison couldn’t help but feel warmed by it. He looked down at their linked hands, “Can I ask you a question?” Farlan’s smile turned sly, “Gunna ask me to marry you?” If only that didn’t mean he’d have to tell the truth about his age and background. “One day. But, no, that’s not it. Would you be able to Skype and stuff?” Farlan nodded, “Yeah, that’s what Levi and us have been doing. He can’t do it all the time and that’s normal. But, if anything happens then I’ve listed you as my point of contact since you know…” Farlan shrugged finishing his tea and ordering them two beers.

After they drank a fair amount they went back to their apartment to fool around and hang out. He asked how school was going and went on and on about how smart and talented Jemison was. “One day, babe, you’re gunna bring people back to life if you keep on with that stuff.” Jemison had showed him the research he’d been doing on the side for a pharmaceutical company about delaying decomposition of corpses for medical examiners to use in homicide cases. He’d messed around with the base a few times and had made interesting variations that stopped decay all together in some cases. Farlan wasn’t one for the morbid and he pushed the papers and photos away taking Jemison’s face and kissing him all over. “I’ll miss you.” Jemison smiled, “Just come back, okay?” Farlan smiled wrapping his hands around his shoulders, hands coming up to card through the short black hair that was cut in a smart and clean jelled 1950s style side part with a little quiff.

When Jemison left to head into work for the night shift he promised to stop by in the morning before heading to school, his dark eyes shinned against the darkened hallway, clean sky blue button up and grey slacks, Farlan felt like they were in an old movie where he was going off to fight in WWII. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Farlan. Stay safe and let me know if you leave.” Farlan nodded looking at his feet. Jemison always wanted to know where he was. “I will, love you.” Jemison left and Farlan closed the door. Farlan was unaware that Jemison would know if he left anyway, he’d installed cameras in every room in the apartment to keep tabs on him.

Coming down the stairs he bumped into someone moving quickly with bags bursting with food and other things. “Hey! Watch where you’re going, man!” They pulled the bags down reveling large green eyes and fiery red hair. “Oh, Jeeter, it’s you. Sorry, man. Long day and I’m hungry. I guess you’re off to work. See you in 12 hours.” Isabel’s laughter echoed in the staircase as Jemison nodded, “Stop calling me that. That’s a horrible name.” Isabel pouted, “It’s a nickname, not a real name. Plus, it’s kind of fits the creepy vibe you can give out sometimes, don’t you think? Kinda like “Jeepers creepers, where’d you get those peepers?” Jeeper and Jeeter sound similar.” Jemison popped her lightly on the head smiling softy, “God, you need to learn to spell. Bye, Isabel.” She pouted moving up the stairs as Jemison James moved along the dark streets on his way to work looking for a new victim to pick up on the way.

When he got to the lab he was happy to notice that his favorite colleague would be on shift with him. He was arranging samples when Jemison entered the room, “Hej, hej. How’s it going?” The young man turned around, “Not good. My mother’s terminally ill.” Jemison moved to start checking levels on the nearby screens, “What is it?” The boy sighed, “Lung cancer” he turned to face him, “from all those years smoking those hand rolled cigarettes I bet. She survives DP camps and comes to America, has me at 40 like a champ and then goes and gets cancer. I thought she was invincible.” His eyes wateedr and Jemison can’t help but feel bad for him. He was also the product of an immigrant family, one he’d tried to forget, “Even the strongest people can get cancer. It’s a horrible equalizer. It attacks regardless of class or sex or ethnicity or even religion.”

The boy nodded, “I’m going to the Middle East, you know?” Jemison didn’t, “So is my boyfriend. That’s strange.” The boy smiled, “I didn’t know you had a boyfriend?” Jemison started cleaning some beakers and arranged the dishes on the shelf “Are you jealous?” He leered at him fully aware how creepy he was but instead of turning away he only laughed, “No, sorry. I only like women but if I didn’t I’m sure I’d be heartbroken. Why is he going?”

The bell rang for the hood, something was finished processing, “Marines. He starts in two weeks. I’m going to be so sad to see him go but at least when he gets back he said we could buy a house or apartment together.” He felt hollow when he spoke. It was dangerous and he could die. Jemison actively tried to fight that thought and tear it from his mind. “I’ll probably see him. I’m going in as a Red Cross volunteer. What’s his name? I’ll look him up.” Jemison turned to pull out his phone finding a photo of them together at a party a few weeks ago and holding it up, “Farlan Church.”

They continued to speak until their shift was over and then they decided to get coffee like they had other times before. “Hey, I know this small town down south that’s home to this bustling cutting edge university. A lot of the things you research and do would really line up with what the science department’s leading professors are exploring. What if I shoot a friend an email and get you in touch with some people? It’ll be a good distraction with Farlan leaving.” Jemison sipped his coffee, “Yeah that sounds great. Who is the friend?” The boy smiled, “Ah just this guy who I met at a conference a few years back. He’s a Palestinian.” Jemison’s eyes closed, “Like you?” The boy shook his head, “Palestinian-American, remember? Plus, I have no home so I can’t even call myself the first can I?” Jemison had always stayed out of the politics of the Middle East because nothing there was ever simple. You had to ask yourself, is what’s being portrayed really the truth? Could this new so called “stateless people” really be more put upon than the Jews? Were the Israeli’s responsible for human rights violations and the impediment of a two party state? It didn’t really sit well in his stomach and he liked this guy but he also didn’t think his hatred was really all that founded in the complex web of half truths and false lies. Either way, pissing him off and getting into a political debate where they would surely disagree with one another only made things worse. “I’ll give him a call. Thanks.” The boy drained his coffee, “I gotta catch the train. Talk to you soon, Jemison. My number and everything is also there.” He stood up pulling his coat on and left waving on his way out.

Jemison stared at the card and before talking himself out of it he shot off a quick email to the man like he promised. What could it hurt?

Four Months Later

The static cleared and the tone for Skype began. Soon the screen was filled with Farlan’s face, leaned in close with his head resting on his crossed arms, “Hey babe.” His smiled caused heat to pool in Jemison’s chest, “Hey.” They smiled at each other, “I can’t talk long.” His voice was rough and low from sleep, “Can’t fool around either. We’re going out on mission in about ten minutes, Jem. How’s school?” Jemison had been doing well and was actually content to stay doing well. Perhaps, Farlan was changing him for the better, “It’s going well. I’m a year ahead. When you get back we’ll be able to settle down and I’ll be making bank, babe.” Farlan laughed, “Good, I want to be a trophy husband.” Jemison removed his shirt getting ready for work, “That’s not fair, Jem.” Farlan admonished as he blushed pink in the apples of his cheek.

Jemison sat down, “Not my fault you can’t fool around.” Just then the door opened in Farlan’s trailer, “Farlan, what are you doing?” The voice was deep and held a slightly flirty tone, Jemison didn’t care for it. Farlan jerked up, “Nothing, Levi. I’ll be out in a sec.” Jemison was on fire, “You could have told him you were talking to your boyfriend.” Farlan sighed, “Out here…being open about relationships is a double edge sword. I don’t want to give them anything they can use to fuck with me and if they talked about you and I like they do Isabel’s relationship with this shithead we met in basic then I’d have a lot enemies behind my own lines. You get it?” Jemison pouted, “Whatever. I love you.” Farlan laughed standing up and leaning in to the camera, “I love you, too babe. I’m gunna be MIA for at least three days.” He leaned in kissing the monitor, “I’ll talk to you in three.” He waved goodbye and the connection ended. Jemison tried to push down the worry and jealousy. He knew Farlan and Levi had never been intimate but he was someone Farlan talked highly about and respected. He saved his life. It was the only thing keeping his life safe from Jemison’s dark fantasy of opening him up, slicing that marble flesh, and plunging his hands inside that warm cavern and seeing what made him-

Jemison inhaled harshly, that was no good, getting so excited when he had work to go to.

He went to work, the lab empty without his favorite coworker who’d been overseas almost three months. His mother had died and with her a piece of himself. He became radical and after finding out Jemison had lived with a gangster he tried to data mine him for potentially dangerous motivations.

He waited patiently for the three day mark when he’d open his computer to Farlan’s call. But that day was completely different. He was instead greeted to a knock at the door and a letter with condolences. Farlan had died taking his turn at sentinel duty by a rogue truck driven by a drunk driver. Jemison knew they were lying. “He was going out on a mission, not patrolling the area. Where is he? Where is his body?” They shook their head, “On a ship. It’ll be here in a week.” Jemison screamed, “THAT WILL BE TOO LATE.” He demanded more information and at the end of the week when he finally received the body it was embalmed and Farlan’s color was missing, his lips white, his nails blue, and his hair lackluster.

Jemison lost himself, he lost everything. He was consumed with what-ifs and if-onlys and he could have brought him back, he could have saved him if they’d got him to him sooner, right? He could have kept him alive, right? He was crushed, body mangled when they found him but he could have set him and with some physical therapy he could have been okay, right? Yeah, Jemison could have done it. But, they prevented him and that Levi was officially MIA and he just knew, he knew he was alive and he had failed him. He had failed in protecting the most precious person in his life and he would make him suffer.

Farlan and Isabel were both buried together in one of New York’s largest and oldest cemeteries. His decent into madness was now past the point of no return. He cast a picture of himself Farlan had taken one morning when they were in bed together into the casket to be buried. Jemison James was dead. Now, Jeeter would rise from the ashes and would find his own form of revenge, solace, and peace. The phone in his pocket vibrated, he’d already made a call to the Red Cross to see if he could get in touch with his friend. He would track down Levi Ackermann and if not, if he be really dead, he’d make sure his next partner would never end up like Farlan. He swore to become like Adrestia herself.

She whom none can escape.

Chapter Text

The phone vibrated on the table as the sun light poured in through an opening in the curtains. Eren groaned, his head ached but it was more the fact he didn’t want to get up yet. Levi stirred reaching over grabbing him closer and kissing his leaving multiple soft kisses to his temple, “Brat” his voice was rough, “did I do it again?” Eren moved closer. Armin and Erwin were tightly tangled together exchanging lazy kissing and nuzzles as well. “No, you didn’t. Thank God. I might have lost it and strangled you.” Levi snorted, “Then I’d be dead. Wouldn’t you be sad?” Eren stroked his face meeting his gaze with a look of “oh, honey” that made Levi’s eye crinkle in anticipation of whatever was about to fall out of Eren’s mouth that would provide him with amusement, “I’d just live with Armin and Erwin as the third wheel and hope you left me something in your will. You’re old. Don’t you have a will drawn up or something? I hope you leave me filthy rich.” Levi slapped Eren’s arm, “Ungrateful brat.”

They went to lunch and Armin stretched out over the table, “Okay, so, this is what I know.” He was mostly speaking to Levi who offered him pursed lips and a roll of the eyes to continue, “I started thinking about when the samples went missing in the lab when Eren was there and thought, wow that’s strange, who would have access to that and who would Eren innocently not consider as a threat.” Levi smiled, “Wow, you’re something else. I’m sorry I got angry.” Armin’s smile was full of understanding. “That’s okay Levi. I know you didn’t,” Armin reached over to pat his hand before returning to take a drink from Erwin, “So, what got you started?” Armin sipped his mimosa through a straw.

Levi unwrapped his silverware, “Red Cross.” Erwin cleared his throat, “What?” Levi’s eye narrowed, “They were a Red Cross volunteer. One of the many that took money to not talk about what they saw or that they saw us there. They were getting into the back of the van when I made eye contact. That was the day we got the fruit and I didn’t think anything of it.” Erwin’s mind flashed back to that day. He saw the family he shot in order to get food for him and Levi. He cringed internally at how they were back then, how different they are now with Armin and Eren. Levi’s voice was soft and thoughtful, “I thought we were going to die so why waste energy on remembering faces.” Erwin nodded turning to meet Levi’s eyes, “I was worried about your arm.” Levi shrugged, “I didn’t give a shit about them.” Erwin paused, he knew Levi was referring to the person as well as the family and innocent people they’d killed that day. His mind struggled to remember facts, to remember if anyone there was familiar, “What were they…” And the light bulb went off. Erwin reeled, gasping and grasping the table in front of him, “Oh my God, they’ve been right here the whole time.” His voice full of shock as the realization hit him like a ton of bricks. He’d never felt so blindsided. Eren felt left out, “Who is it? Is it Hanji? Please someone tell me!” Armin shook his head, “I told you last night no. It’s Molbit.” Armin’s eyes were wet but fierce in determination, “Molbit was in the lab with you. You wouldn’t have considered him and nor would Hanji. He’s very….forgettable.” Eren’s mouth fell open as he thought about it.

It was true and Eren felt so stupid. He’d been working with him coming in and out all day so when he left for the night he thought he was closing up alone. Molbit was the reason he was tortured, the reason Levi now triple checked their locks, texted him almost every three hours, sat between Eren and all doors, the reason he’d been unable to relax for weeks now. He was also the one who played the song over and over while Eren and he were alone in the lab. He’d done that on purpose. His face had been delighted as Eren asked for it to play for Levi. Eren wanted to retch as he thought about it. Lost in thought, time moved slowly as everyone else continued to talk around him and go about like normal.

Levi moved to wrap his arm protectively around Eren, “You’re drooling. Come on, eat your food, brat.” Eren didn’t feel like eating, “How is he connected with Jeeter though?” Armin bristled, “Um well…Jean and I broke into the police station and…” Erwin was floored, “YOU DID WHAT?” The restaurant wasn’t that full but those patrons inside spared a few concerned looks over to the handsome man now turned and looming over another hadsome, but much smaller, man while said smaller man blushed and held up his hands in surrender. Armin’s voice was small and innocent, “Well, we got curious.” Eren cut him off, livid as well, “YOU got curious and YOU knew that Jean would not deny you.” His words were biting. Jean and Eren may not always see eye to eye but Eren hasn’t always enjoyed the utter devotion Jean had for Armin. He was jealous, yes, that he could admit. But he worried about what it meant for Jean’s future with someone. Eren and Armin were already in an unhealthy relationship, which oddly enough had turned out to be perfect for the men they were dating, but dragging Jean in further was something he refused to do, he like Marco much too much for that.

Armin shrugged, “I got a hold of his computer and found correspondences between him and the university and then later with Molbit. I went from there.” Erwin’s face was still red as he ran his hand over his face before shutting his eyes and continuing, “Where is it now?” Armin smiled, “Well, the information is backed up in a few places. Like, around the university, my car, our home, the dorm has a dummy one just in case to make them think they’d found it or whatever, Jean has one, and I even put one in a lock box under a fake name. The hard part was I had to return a computer to the police.” Erwin’s breath was stuck in his chest, “A computer?” Armin tried to look apologetic, “I found the same make and model on ebay and just put that one back as a dummy. You never destroy a primary source, Erwin.” He tried to jest but Erwin’s face told him he was having none of that.

Eren couldn’t repress the fond feeling he got looking at Armin. He felt himself bubble with laughter at the thought of him breaking into a police station wearing all black with Jean clumsily moving behind him cursing as Armin’s blond silky hair flowing in the wind with sirens and the James’ Bond theme song in the background. He decided to just laugh. He was upset, yes. But now that they knew Molbit was the mole they could start turning the tables on him and solve this quickly. “When we get back show us what you found, kay?” Eren went back to his food as Armin promised. Both older men were still trying to come to grips with the fact Armin has all of this information at his finger tips and had gone to such lengths to get it. Erwin leaned down kissing Armin’s head, “Baby, I am glad you’re not my enemy.” Armin leaned against his arm, an impish smile on his face as he nuzzled Erwin. “Mhm hmm, never cheat, Erwin. I told you I would destroy you if you did.” Erwin managed a chuckle but that threat had never seemed so real.

**********************************

Back at the house three hours later, they all sat in the living room waiting for Armin to emerge with more materials and information. Jean and Marco came down, “Hey guys.” Eren glared at Jean, his voice was condescending, “Tell me Jean, if Armin asked you to jump off a building would you do it?” Jean’s eyes narrowed, “You can talk shit all you want but I fucking trust him with my life. I don’t have to justify my actions to you or anyone else so fuck off, Jaeger.” Marco jumped at the sudden hostility, “What is he even talking about Jean?” Jean paled, “I did something stupid and didn’t tell you. Please forgive me.” Marco’s brow furrowed in suspicion, “What did you do?” Jean shied away and shrugged. He mumbled, “You’ll find out shortly. Let’s sit, babe. Try to remember why you love me.” Marco was not enthused but sat regardless.

Armin sat down with a pile of envelopes, “Okay, so here are some reports and time lines I’ve put together.” Everyone jumped at the sound of Erwin slapping both hands on his knees, “I just…cannot with this. I cannot with the fact you’ve had this, that you flat out stole this, and then sat around and made neat color coded reports and timelines.” Armin smiled wickedly from his place on the rug at Erwin, “Are you impressed, daddy?” He winked at him causing Erwin to chuckle a bit. Erwin held his chin as he leaned forward, elbow on his knee, exhaling through his nose, “I am impressed and frightened of you, to be honest. But, oddly enough, I am very turned on about this.” Levi snorted, “You two are disgusting.” Eren kicked Levi while giving him a disapproving look, “We’re just as disgusting.” He mumbled taking Levi’s hand and giving it a squeeze.

Armin spread out the reports, "Jeeter's name while in New York was Jemison James. That's probably an alias but it is clear he was a serial killer from the trail of.....people and parts he left behind him.” Armin’s nose wrinkled and his eyes narrowed as he pulled out photos and list of names and details, “He was living in an apartment with his boyfriend. Who does somewhat resemble Jean as I had suspected.” Marco went rigid as he said the words and Jean looked positively green, “Their eyes are the same color, both had scars on their hips from knife wounds” Marco definitely caught the slight exchange between Jean and Armin as he said the words. Marco had noticed the scar but never asked since with Jean it wasn’t out of the question that he’d probably got that rough housing or in the boy scouts. Now, Marco was worried. “and one from having their appendix taken out, they were the same build as well, and were apparently into the same music and pop culture things. They also used the term of endearment “babe” as seen in their private emails.” Marco felt like bringing Jeeter back from the dead and beating the shit out of him.

”There were living in an apartment with other roommates. But Jeeter was the new comer, not the boyfriend. The boyfriend had been friends with the official legal roommate for years. But, the emails between his boyfriend and him indicated they had at least three others living with them illegally at the time up till the death. That's what I gathered when I called on the apartment and used some good ole southern charm. Ummm...." Armin shuffled papers looking for something, "you....Levi........you were involved without….being.....involved....fuuuuck" Armin sighed looking around at the piles till he leaned back and then exclaimed excitedly at finding an envelope, "Here! Farlan Church and you at a party with an….Isabel? You were friends with them and Farlan was Jemison’s boyfriend." Levi took the photo with shaking hands.

It had been so long since he saw their faces. He could feel the tears sting in the corner of his eyes but he remained outwardly stoic. The Polaroid was older and slightly bent at the edges. He looked so young. "Can I see it?" Erwin asked quietly while holding his head down as if he was worried he'd violated something potentially. Levi slid the photo to him. "So, he was the one Farlan was seeing. He never told me he was dating someone but I had a suspicion. No one smiles at their computer screen like he did unless they're like Eren looking at photos of kittens." Levi's monotonous voice made his joke land hard as Eren burst into a quick and violent burst of giggles before reining himself in with the decency to look ashamed when Jean made eyes at him. Erwin touched the photo. "Wow...you look so young." Levi nodded, "17 and nothing but a stupid brat…." Erwin snorted, “A brat that faked he was 18 to get into the marines. I can’t believe they still think you’re a year older than you are. I wonder if that could violate our win in the lawsuit.” Erwin mused as Eren turned to give Levi a cheeky smile, “Such a gangster.” They all passed around the photo waiting for Armin to continue.

Armin shifted on the floor before continuing, "He was put in contact with a professor at the University. Before Farlan's death he began discussions on coming but after Farlan died he went MIA. I think Molbit tracked him down and that's how he ended up here. The problem with that is the professor that was his point of contact does not work here anymore and Erwin’s father was trying to track him down. I’ve looked through what I could find in his files,” He paused looking at Erwin who had gone pale and was staring intently at Armin, “in his work folder the University still has,” Erwin’s lip trembled, “and what I found was…perplexing to say the least.” Erwin coughed straightening his bolo tie Armin asked him to wear today because he said it made his eyes shine, “My father is still involved?” Armin gave a small nod, “He fired the professor and let him go,” Armin whispered solemnly, “without pressing charges for the things he’d done. I don’t understand, Erwin. Maybe you would?” Armin moved a small stack of emails to Erwin who took them and covered them with his hands. “I’ll take a look.” He would definitely take a look at his father’s past if only to be close to him again.

Marco shifted on the couch anxiously, “Why did he do it? How did you get this information?” Jean blushed red, “After we made sure everyone was okay and things had started to tone down we broke into the police station and got the computer. I remembered the make and model of the laptop from living with him so Armin bought a replacement and we left it at the station so we could keep the original. Connie and I hacked into it and Armin helped decide what data was useful and what was not.” Marco turned to Jean, “You could go to jail, Jean.” Jean shrugged. Marco frowned, “I’d like more than a shrug.” Jean opened his mouth sputtering, “I-I-I needed to know what was going one. I needed to make you safe. Armin had a sound idea and I went with it. It’s what led us here.” Marco turned to look at Armin. His normally kind eyes were cold and suspicious. “What else did you find out?” He crossed his arms waiting for Jean to continue.

Jean blanched, “Molbit is really smart about how he covers his tracks except that when he drinks he tends to get political. I overheard him at Bloodhounds one night at the Stammtisch but since I was just running in with a friend we got our beer and left to head back to the art studio. I was thinking…” Marco nodded for him to continue, “That we could send someone in and mine him for information.” Marco’s eyebrows lifted, “That’s surprisingly devious. Was that actually Armin’s opinion or did you seriously come up with that.” Jean looked hurt, “I can fucking think for myself.” He grimaced as soon as the words left his mouth but Marco’s expression wasn’t wounded. He must have genuinely been shocked and expected as much from the brutally honest and quick to anger man. “Who did you want to send in?” Jean turned to face the room, “Eren. I want Levi to eventually come in to the picture as well but not at first. He hates Levi.” Eren felt awkward as Levi shifted next to him protectively.

”I don’t like the idea of sending Eren in unless necessary. You said that he hates me? How do you know and why would that make it a good idea for me to be involved?” Levi’s gaze was hawkish. Jean didn’t falter, “It’s the feeling I get. I just assume from the bits and pieces surrounding Jeeter’s mood around the time Farlan died that he probably blamed you for not protecting him. I assume he was in your squad and therefore, Molbit probably had a good enough reason to dislike you and then there is just this vibe I get when you’re around each other. It’s how he looks at you when you’re not paying attention. He’s a shadow of a person and I don’t trust him.” Levi crossed his legs, “You are a naturally suspicious person, Jean.” He said each word with care and emphasis but Jean couldn’t fathom why. “I assume my presence would upset him if he had come to feel comfortable with just Eren as his drinking buddy and that could lead to some revealing behavioral back lash.” Erwin shifted, “That,” he paused emphasizing the word, “is a very good plan, Jean. Well done.” He smiled at Jean, each perfect pearly tooth on display. Jean blushed at the praise from the commending man. He was someone that Jean had always wanted to please, if only just a little.

Marco smiled taking Jean’s hand, “But, next time you do something you tell me. I promise not to get angry if you tell me right then. Don’t come at me after the fact because the amnesty won’t come.” Marco’s words where chipper and cutting as Jean took the warning to heart. He also saw it as a get out of jail free card and that delighted him. Armin handed everyone a page with facts broken down that they could keep. Erwin was practically drooling over the fine details and uncut corners of Armin’s work.

Eren stretched nuzzling up to Levi comfortably, “Have you told Hanji yet that you’re hearing and voice is back?” Levi’s mouth twitched, “No. I’d rather do it in person. I’d figured we go over there tomorrow and tell them and get them ready for their baby.” Levi tried to suppress it but there was a small smile that graced his stoic face, “We need to the nearest Baby store so let’s go.” He patted Eren’s thigh before standing up. Erwin looked shy. He mumbled rubbing his hands together, “I wanna go pick out baby stuff…” Armin and Eren exchanged looks, “Our lovers have baby fever.” Armin laughed moving off the floor, “Marco and Jean probably have it to. It’s like hay fever. Everyone can catch it.” Jean snorted, “Thank God we can’t get pregnant. We’d all have litters and be broke and under prepared, except for the old grandpas here.” Levi’s eyebrow rose, “Maybe it’s a good thing you can’t procreate at will.” Eren nearly died from laughter. A burn on Jean was always the best.

***********************************

When the four arrived at the baby store Eren was slightly nervous. He knew Levi and Erwin were set on having kids and the age they were at made it understandable. It did put pressure on Eren to decide when he could see himself starting a family as well. It wouldn’t be fair to make Levi wait till he was too much older but when Eren turned 21 he’d be 28. Some people got married and started a family at 21. Armin could be even more at a disadvantage. He was eight months younger than Eren, only getting to start school with them because of a non-existent cut-off date, that was later instituted to keep four year olds out of class with five year olds, and his amazing intellect. “Oi, brat!” They had been inside for about ten minutes winding up and down the aisles. Levi was pushing a cart with a piece of paper sticking out of his jacket pocket, “What the hell are you thinking about?” Eren nearly jumped out of his skin and like always Levi’s intimidating glare didn’t help. Levi’s anxiety on the other hand was rising by the second. He could feel his chest tighten as Donner walked closer to his side.

Eren just decided to blurt out the first thing that came to mind, “I was thinking about when we should start having kids.” Levi’s face spasmed as he tried to control the look of shock that threatened to cover it. His anxiety shot through the roof, “And did you come to a decision?” His voice cracked and he mentally kicked himself for not reining the comment in. Eren’s eyes shimmered, relieved that he wasn’t mad and totally unaware of how caught off guard Levi was, “Well, when I think that when I’m 21 we should start. I think before you’re thirty we should be on the first one at least, maybe our second.” Levi stopped pushing the buggy when he almost hit a display of diapers.

Erwin and Armin were on the other aisle and not so subtly eavesdropping. “T-w—wenty o-one? You just turned 19 two days ago and you’re okay with having kids in two years? Are you…are you even sure you want to be with me in two years?” Levi was panicked. The words flowed out as all of his insecurities built up, “What if you get tired of me and don’t you have dreams of moving off and doing something else besides living with an old and grumpy veteran? If I asked you to marry me would you want to? We don’t even share finaces and you want to share a life with another tiny life and you said second so that implies you want to lock yourself down with me for eighteen years for both kids and my God Eren do you have any idea if you’d even love me after that long or if you’d even want be with me for that long?” He regretted his words as soon as he saw the wounded look on Eren’s face, “I don’t see a future without you in it. I want you Levi. I know it hasn’t been that long but doesn’t it just feel right? I’m not looking at anyone other than you and I love you with my whole heart. I know I do.” He was unsure if that would even comfort Levi but it was the truth.

Levi clutched at the handle miserably, “I’m sorry Eren, that all came out wrong. I’m shit with words. I don’t know why a brat so full of life and wonder would even want to be with me.” Eren surprised him by bursting into laughter, “I never thought I’d hear you say anything like that. Life and wonder are my two best qualities. Not to mention I am your research. We’ll be linked forever unless you want to only use Marco. I mean, he’s pretty attractive but not near as much of a handful as me.” Eren lightly elbowed Levi in the side leaning down to plant a soft and loving kiss on his lips. When he pulled back Levi’s cheeks were a pale pink and Erwin and Armin could be heard making “awww” noises from behind the wall of car seats.

Levi and Eren continued looking for things on the sheet of paper they had as Erwin and Armin made their ways through the clothes. They picked a few neutral thing for Hanji’s little one until Erwin suggested they each pick an outfit for what they think the baby might be. Armin went over to the girl’s section picking out a cute and frilly white lace dress with little pale pink bows. The ribbon ran between slits in the lace horizontally across the chest and hem of the dress. He grabbed a nice pair of socks with ruffles of lace at the top and white leather Mary Janes and a satin pink bow. It looked very much like an outfit a little English girl in the Victorian era would wear and Armin couldn’t help but smile. That was his tastes. When Erwin appeared he held his outfit behind him till they did the reveal.

Erwin had chosen a white pleated and smocked dress shirt. The smocking was in the shape of tiny pale white fleur de lis, a pair of light brown overalls, brown boots, and a little brown news paper hat. When they did the reveal they both laughed at the pair that clearly went together in the same Victorian era. Erwin moved to caress Armin’s face, moving a strand of hair behind his ear, ‘Baby, we are too similar.” Armin smiled, “I’m going to win, though.” Erwin shook his head, “Hanji is definitely going to have a boy. Mike’s going to have a mini me who’ll work with him on the silos and wear flannel and always be chill.” Armin playfully pushed him and put their outfits in the cart. “What would you want first?” Erwin pushed the buggy forward glancing at Armin, “A boy. A son to carry on the Smith legacy.” Armin snorted, “Sexist. Is that all that men care about? Having a son to carry on their name?” Erwin turned them into the book section, “Are you forgetting that you are also a man?” Erwin challenged. Armin smiled, “I want a little girl first. Boys are fine but I would never want them just because they’d carry on the “Arlert” name. In fact, a gaggle of girls would be great.” Armin took Erwin’s hand skipping beside him in the aisle. Erwin tightened his grip over Armin’s smaller hand, “A gaggle…like geese.”

Erwin contemplated Armin’s words, “Have you had similar thoughts as Eren?” Armin was digging through books, “You have to ask?” Erwin toed around the rhetoric, “You did have nifty fact sheets printed in advance. Have you made a timeline for us I can refer to?” Armin turned to look up from where he was squatted on the floor, “Are you really asking? Is this something you want to discuss here? Us? Are we having an “Us” conversation?” Erwin picked a few books out and put them in the buggy, “We can do it here or at home, whichever you prefer, my sweet.” Armin stood up, “Hmmm I do have ideas. I think at home in our bed is where we should talk.” Erwin chuckled, “Sounds like we’d get carried away and not talk if we did that.” Armin hit his arm playfully, “Oh hush. I love you, daddy.” He stepped up on his tip toes kissing Erwin chastely.

They skimmed more of the book titles before Erwin grabbed Armin’s hips pulling him onto his lap in the reading nook, “I don’t think I can wait till we get home.” Erwin mumbled into his shoulder. Armin opened the book before him flipping through, “I thought about the same thing as Eren. I know in four years you could be president of the university and that means you’ll be staying here. I naturally started a little time line.” Erwin hummed, “Like?” Armin giggled, “Gosh you are persistent.” Erwin cradled him so he could see his face, “Very.” Armin reached out to trace his lips whispering, “Tell me what you’ve thought about first, Erwin. I know you’re a planner too.”

Erwin thought for a moment before replying. "When I finish this summer I'll technically start my master's program and that will move straight into the Ph.D program so in four years, or rather three and a half if I am lucky, I'll be up for the council's consideration. Even if that all goes to shit I have offers to work with professors on books and projects; not to mention, I have a few other connections in various fields where I could do remote work from Maria. I don't actually need to work, in all honesty. We, the Smiths, were rich and thus as the sole heir I was secure before the settlement and now even more so. I planned on letting you decide if this is what you wanted, a traditional life with me and now Eren and Levi seeing as we’re all attached. If you stuck around till the end of my master's I'd planned on asking you to marry me and start a family then. If you wanted to do it later when you were older I'd understand that as well but it is a must that I have kids. I've often thought about us raising children and for me that's when it hit me just how wrapped around your little finger you had me because until I laid eyes on you I was happily resigned to and satisfied with doing so only with Levi. I’d wanted his kids and my kids to be a type family if we didn't have them just the two of us but we never thought there would be two people like you and Eren that would agree to that.” Erwin’s eyes closed, the corners of his lips turned up ever so slightly.

“In all honesty Armin, I just want to spoil you rotten, take care of you, protect you, love you, make a life with you, have a family with you, and be with you forever. I'm invested in this for the long haul. But with age comes knowing what one really wants and is looking for in a person. I have to accept that at your young age I may merely be a stepping stone to your true love. I accept that and have decided to simply treasure each day you give me and not let my want, my natural need, to be possessive take over until you decide." Erwin finished, his eyes were solemn and hesitant as he waited for Armin to process what he thought was a series of regurgitated love declarations he'd made to Armin's sleeping face for months.

Armin turned in Erwin's arms standing up to greet Eren and Levi. "Oi let's go shit heads. Eren has nearly filled two carts with stuff and it looks like y'all are dressing the future duchess of Prussia." Erwin tried not to look hurt that Armin had abandoned him mid conversation, "you know you like the dress, Levi." Armin's tone was laced with cockiness. Levi submitted and tch'ed as he turned around and the group went up to pay.

In the car Armin sat close to Erwin dozing off here and there as Eren and Levi argued about whose turn it was to clean the bathroom and of course it was Eren's but he made a good case against his skills in comparison to Levi's and the fact that a full clean every three days was a bit insane when he was expected to do it with a tooth brush and under the scrutinizing gaze of his Capitan.

Armin thought about what Erwin had said and how he thought Armin would leave him in just two short years for someone younger and better. That seemed absurd. Armin had everything to gain and nothing to lose by loving Erwin and even though money and materialistic things were nice, and he did keep stock of them as he knew Erwin did too. but it was simply the aura of protection and devotion that Erwin provided Armin that made him sure he was the one. Erwin never looked at anyone else but him. He never said things like he wished he didn't do or say such and such. Even when they argued he never went below the belt and he never compared Armin to other people. In fact, they didn't really argue at all. It was just this bickering and nagging that Armin only found himself doing when fully comfortable with someone and Erwin had admitted one night after they finished a particularly soft and sentimental bout of love making that every time Armin nagged him he felt this warmth blossom in his chest because his nagging amused and pleased him. Erwin had never thought he’d live to find someone that even cared enough to nag him or remind him to get more sleep and take his vitamins or whatever else Armin seemed to bring up in their daily routine. It made him feel important to Armin, like he was needed by him. It meant that Armin had thoughts and needs to be met and he wanted Erwin to meet them and not someone else. Armin felt beyond blessed to have a man as old school and as capable as Erwin. He loved him and would forever.

***************************************

When they returned to the house Levi pulled out his pots and pans to start cooking a late dinner for everyone. Jean came down stairs to meet them with two large squares. Eren squinted leaning on the counter top by Levi, “What are those huge things?” Jean smiled, “Master pieces.” Levi turned down the burners and popped a few pans in the oven. “Ours?” Eren turned to look at Levi and then back to Jean, “We’re you painting for Levi? What is it!” Eren was jumping excitedly next to Levi. Jean smiled again as Marco took the other covered painting from him. “Where is Erwin and Armin?” Erwin popped up from the wine cellar as Armin came down stairs dressed in comfortable lounge clothes, “Here! Oh! Are they done!?” Erwin bounded over towards Jean like a child at Christmas, “Let’s see them!”

Jean cleared his throat, “The first is Levi’s and I’m sorry that it’s….a little creepy?” He revealed a picture of Eren’s face and shoulders laying on the soft white silk sheets of a bed. The lighting was soft dimming around the corners. It was photo realistic, the small texture of Eren’s shirt could be seen and its faded olive green played into the over color palette of pale crèmes, browns, and greens. His lips soft and pink and lashes long casting minute shadows on his cheek. He was serene, reverent, angelic, and breathtakingly gorgeous. It was as if he was lying in a monastery bed, a young precious up-and-coming saint. In truth the intricate golden embroidered trim around the collar that draped over his clavicles as the fabric parted down the middle revealing his smooth tan skin and a heavy silver chain with a key on the end encrusted with rubies, sapphires, and emeralds made him look like a Turkish prince sleeping away in a castle far from harm. Levi examined the painting closely, his eyes wide and pleased as he stepped back taking the painting from Jean, “Thank you, Jean. This is perfect and just what I wanted.” Eren gawked at his own face, “It’s me but it’s not me. My mother’s key, Jean, that’s amazing. I could never look this amazing.” Levi tch’ed, “You look like this every morning to me, brat. Stop being a little shit.” Eren blushed but before they could continue Jean was taking the sheet of the other one off.

Armin gasped as the sheet was removed and Erwin dropped his bottle of wine on the floor, luckily it merely rolled and did not break. But, it didn’t matter because before them was a shocking sight. Where Eren’s painting had shown the inner depth of innocence he possessed with an almost religious virginity to it Armin’s showed a resilience of spirit that was fierce and provocative. Armin was the centerpiece of the painting from the hips up. He wore an all white uniform stained red. His chin was raised, striking blue eyes hooded as he stared down the audience with blood dripping down his face from around his crown. The golden strands of hair fell heavily around his face as if sweat soaked and their own texture a marvel and testament to Jean’s God given talent. The background was inky, murky. From the shapes one could make out the rough shadowy trenches, broken metal bobbed wire fences collapsed in areas, the sky as black as death itself and there was this sense of revolution, perseverance, gun powder, phosphorus fire, and shrapnel rust that exuded an over-all sense of “life” that made something primal resonate in the very core of man, as if the Id itself were speaking loudly and clearly: food, shelter, resistance, refusal. It called on those who would hear: refuse to die and choose to live.

The room was silent for a long time as no one could bring themselves to break the trance the painting caused. Erwin moved forward taking it from Jean as Jean worried his lip. “Did I cross a line?” Armin shook his head, “No, but how did you make this?” Jean wiped his hands on his paint pants, “Between how you looked at the hospital and things I just associate with who you are…on the inside. Sayings like…“The dead are gone, people are hungry” and “I am become death, destroyer of worlds” and “an hour of life is still life” you know, things like that. You’re a very resilient, inspiring, and strong person.” Armin became teary eyed as he and Erwin studied the picture more closely. Marco took Jean’s hand, “You’re beyond amazing, babe.” He kissed him on the cheek. “Let’s sit down and get ready to eat. Afterwards, I’d like to catch up with you since you’ve been in your studio all weekend.” Marco bit playfully at his ear lobe causing Jean to blush. “Anything for you, Marco.” The two sat down while the others stared at their paintings and Levi returned to cooking.

After dinner Jean and Marco retired to the living room to watch bad horror movies and exchange lazy kisses. Levi and Eren joined them, settling down comfortably while Jean and Eren began talking about the plot holes. Armin pulled at Erwin’s arm, “Let’s go.” Erwin’s eyebrows rose, “Where?’ Armin shook his head, “Anywhere.” Erwin hesitated for only a second before grabbing his keys and coat, wrapping Armin in it snuggly as they left out to his car. He started the car and took off into the night.

After an hour of driving they pulled over at the top of a mountain to over look the nearby city and take in the landscape. Outside it was cold but they stood huddled together, Armin wrapped in Erwin’s coat still even after offering it to the man. “Erwin?” Erwin’s hand found his, “Yes?” Armin leaned into his side, “I’m not going anywhere and if you wanted to get married tonight I’d do it and we’d start looking at options for a family tomorrow.” Erwin looked down, “But, what if you knew about the ugly things I’d done?” The wind blew through the trees, a silent whistle. Armin’s voice was strong, sure, Have a pre-nup drawn up, I’ll sign.” Erwin’s grip tightened, “You didn’t answer my question.” His voice a thin whisper that met with the whistle of the trees and faded out over the landscape, Armin looked up to see Erwin’s face, “I’ll give you a secret for each one you give me.” That same game they began with, “How do I know the secrets will be comparable?” Erwin challenged, “Because I’ll give you the first one and it’ll be a biggie.” Erwin’s lips formed a thin line, his teeth clenched. He gambled, “Okay, only if they are comparable.” Armin’s eyes flickered, “First secret,” he paused making sure Erwin was listening, “Jeeter wasn’t the first person I killed.” Erwin gambled and he was surprised at the outcome.


Armin twisted next to him, “Your turn.”
Erwin racked his brain, “I have no idea how I would even begin to count the people I’ve killed, maybe…over two or three thousand. Who did you kill, Armin?”
“A guy who was dating Jean’s mother. Were you just following orders and that’s what is so bothersome about it?”
”I have no idea. I mean, I was always killing because of someone else’s orders but, at one point I could have decided to just let them shoot me and I’d have saved thousands of lives….maybe….”
”Or maybe not.”
“Were you ever put on trial?”
“No. No one ever found the body. Sometimes I get scared that I’ll go to jail and it angers me because I feel like I’m justified. Do you feel like you’re justified?”
”Every time I look at Levi, for a few moments I do feel justified. I did what I did so that he and I could live. When I look at you I also feel like that but it’s different. It makes me sad.”
”How does it make you sad?”
“Because I don’t feel as guilty as I should when I look at you. I feel like this is what I deserve and I did what I did to get you, meet you, and ultimately get what I deserved, a nice life with my soul mate, a house full people, friends, Levi alive and happy and with me, and then I think…have I lost my humanity? How can I be happy that I’m alive? I’ve crawled on the backs of others that deserved just as much as I did to live.”
“You can’t live in the past like that. I don’t fully understand your struggle because I’m not you. But, I know that when I’m threatened with drowning in my own issues I just try to take a step to the side. I focus on what I can control.”
“Is that another secret?”
“I guess so. It’s not healthy but when I self harmed it helped. I now resist the urges and instead focus on you or Eren or even Levi now. Eren knows the signs and one day you’ll know them too. I do have issues with eating still. I tend to exhibit unhealthy eating habits when fully upset. I’ve tried to replace that urge by distracting myself, making myself eat, or finding you and forcing my way into your arms where I feel like the world is a little less large and a little less scary.”
”I’m a substitute.”
”You’re a cure, Erwin.” Armin’s eyes cut him like a knife when he looked up at him. “Let me try to be yours.”

Erwin struggled to compose himself as he trembled, “I’m afraid.” Armin moved to walk back to the car calling over his shoulder, “I am too,” he stopped at the door hand on the handle, “but not about who you are, how you are, or what you’ve done. I’m afraid you’ll never forgive yourself or at least learn how to live with it. It’ll never go away but we can work together to move on and protect ourselves from ever being in situations like the ones we were in again.” Erwin turned to Armin, “You’re really serious about this. You’re willing to commit to me and to whatever else comes our way?” Armin’s eyes closed, “You’re going to tell me that you and Levi have to go back. I already figured as much.” Erwin smiled sadly, “You’re so smart baby. You’re so strong.” Armin slid into the car followed by Erwin, “We all have secrets, Erwin. We tell lies to protect them. Secrets are important but only if you know what role the secret plays in your life. Some secrets own you and some secrets you own. The secret of killing that man, that secret right there, owns me.” Erwin turned the heat on pulling back onto the road. He reached over taking Armin’s hand in his, “And there are secrets you own, right baby?” Armin nodded, “Many.” They drove along the dark road back towards Maria in comfortable silence.

********************************************

Levi hung the painting in his office before settling down to sorting things for the baby. He was pleasantly distracted while Eren showered and hung out with Jean and Marco downstairs safe from harm when Erwin walked into his office. He didn’t stop his chore, “You’ve been outside. In fact, you’ve been around gravel and I’d say over by the mountains.” Erwin walked to the futon where Levi was sitting leaning over sorting piles and assembling things he could later stick in the car and just bring to Hanji’s in the morning. Erwin sat down grabbing Levi and laying down, Levi snorted lying down with him, “Sentimental old man.” He continued holding up his list and a set of instructions for a car seat Eren had picked out that was covered with dinosaur themed accessories. “I’m going to try,” Erwin’s voice was low as it ghosted over the back of Levi’s neck, prickling the fine hairs, “to start telling Armin everything. I’m going to try and heal.” Levi squirmed against his strong arms, “I know, I know…you’ve been telling me to do that for years. I don’t know how you do the things you do, Levi.” His eyes stung, “I’m not any better off than you, Erwin. I should do the same. I just don’t want to lose him.” His jaw clenched as his skin flushed, he would not cry right now. He would not.

Erwin’s hand made its way through his hair, “Eren isn’t going anywhere. I’m going to need to go to Montgomery Wednesday to see Henri Goldburg. I want you to come. I’m going to spend a lot of money and I need you to be there to cringe. He’ll want to speak with you about the good old days in French.” Erwin’s deep chuckle echoed through Levi’s petite body. He let himself be lulled by the pleasureful caress of his fingers through his hair, a comforting gesture born out sleepless nights in pitch black. “We should tell our story one day.” Levi’s mumbled through sleep heavy lips, “Oh? Since when did you decide that?” Levi practically purred as Erwin worked over his sensitive spots, “Ringelbaum the historian of the Warsaw ghetto said “write and record.” You were to survive and write down what happened so that it could be remembered and never allowed to happen again. Nie wieder.” Both Erwin and Levi laid together in silence for a few more minutes as their hearts synced up like countless nights before. Levi’s mind quieted as he thought about the coming months and his journey to salvation. Iron rain will scorch my lips like a Seraph’s kiss if I forget Jerusalem, golden in her bliss...

*********************

When Armin and Eren appeared in the door way both men were asleep. They finished assembling the last of the equipment and then covered their lovers in warm blankets and went out into the hall. Eren followed Armin to his room crawling in bed and snuggling up with one another for warmth. Eren nuzzled close to Armin, “Why did you leave?” Armin’s fingers danced over his skin, “I needed to talk to Erwin about things. I told him I was in it for ever and that I’d marry him tomorrow and start a family if he wanted. I love him, Eren. I never want to lose him but I’m scared that he’s hurting and not telling me.” Eren moved closer, “Levi is the same way. He asks things that worry me about where he is in his own head. I know you’ve noticed how he always puts me in the safest spot in the room. He has to check in every three hours and he won’t let anyone touch me. I don’t mind it because it doesn’t cross any lines with me and it’s coming from a place of love. I just hope one day he’ll open up and let me help him. Often, though, I feel like a hypocrite because …” Armin’s lips ghosted over his throat, “No, Eren, you’re dealing with things as best as you can. That’s all we can do, be good to one another and be good to others. We just need to give them time and love.” They cuddled closer till sleep took them.

************************

In the early morning Eren felt the soft caress of Levi’s fingers on his cheek smoothing his hair out of his face. He feigned sleep longer so that Levi would not leave. “Eren,” he loved how Levi said his name, he lived for it, drank it in like refreshing water, “wake up, ahuvi, we need to go to Hanji’s.” Ahuvi “my love,” he called him that when he thought he was asleep and wouldn’t remember. It made Eren’s heart seize with happiness. “Ahuvi, come.” Eren rolled over pulling Levi down and kissing him passionately, “Call me that every day for the rest of our lives.” Armin stirred in his sleep as Erwin crawled in behind him and wrapped him in his arms. “Baby, did you sleep well?” Armin burrowed into the covers as Levi chuckled at the sigh. “Get in, Levi. Just for a while.” Eren whined pulling at his shirt and successfully pulling him in to the bed. “Fine, brat.” Eren pulled him close, “say it.” Levi’s lips covered his with “Ahuvi.”

***************************

”OHHHHH LEVI WHAT A SURPRISE!” Hanji exclaimed signing feverishly as he approached, “I’m all good now, Hanji.” They smiled, “Oh, Levi!” Levi embraced them, holding on to them for a long time while Eren stood behind them smiling. Levi Kissed Hanji before they walked inside the small trailer they’d rented for the past year. “Did Erwin call you?” Hanji pondered for a moment, “Um no maybe Mike?” Sure enough Mike was on the phone talking excitedly with Erwin. He was recently released but in a wheel chair that they’d been having trouble with in the trailer due to space and the stairs. Mike was finishing his conversation as Hanji asked them to sit down in the slightly messy home of theirs.

Levi cringed, “It’s filthy, Hanji.” As if proving his point he pull papers off of his boots, “Did you notice the U-Haul?” Hanji shook their head, “We’re here to pack your shit up, move it and baby proof your new house. This place is paid off for the rest of the year and you won’t have rent at the new house and you’ll have land and it’ll be closer to work with a ramp for Mike till he heals.” Mike entered the room rolling with some difficulty, “We can’t let y’all do this, Levi.” Hanji’s eyes watered, “Honestly, that’s too much.” Levi took Hanji’s hand, “Han, I’ll do everything I can for you and Mike and your baby.” Hanji cried as Levi got to work cleaning and moving things for Eren and he to transport.

It took about two hours but they didn’t have a lot of things. They were used to living lightly in the small space and having traveled a lot on their own made them live without too much clutter. When they pulled up to the white three story craftsman style house Hanji gasped, “Erwin wants us to live in his father’s house?” Mike hummed, “No one was in it and he doesn’t want to rent it to people. He wants it to be a home and treated as such so he wants us to be in it till we get settled.” Mike seemed to be in utter bliss at the situation as Eren looked at him. “I love this house, Eren. It’s beautiful and I’d be lying if when I was a little boy playing hide and seek with Erwin that I didn’t want to live here forever.” Eren smiled as they parked next to Erwin and Armin who were ready for moving.

Once the house was cleaned, moved in to, and baby proofed Levi hung his mop up in the small hall closet to dry as Hanji hugged him from behind, their belly now more prominent and pushing into his back. Levi turned around, “Can I touch you?” Hanji nodded, his hands moved to glide over their belly. “What is the sex?” Hanji shrugged, “I don’t know, don’t want to know, actually. Mike doesn’t either. I know what you’d want.” They smiled as Levi’s eyes crinkled, “Shut up, shitty glasses. You’ll upset the baby with that voice of yours.” The baby moved, “They like you, Levi.” Levi’s face was priceless. Hanji wanted to remember it forever. They couldn’t imagine how he would react to his own, “I wanted to talk to you about something, Levi. This pregnant life got me thinking. What if you and Eren could have a baby that was both of yours and not through another person? What if they genetically came from both of you?” Levi’s eyes closed, “You know I want to have one with him. Are you telling me that making a germ cell from Eren is possible?” Hanji’s eyes shimmered with glee, “Maaaaaaaybe. I could try it with Armin and Marco as well. Marco should be the control for Eren but Armin would be the key to understanding if this would be possible with those of general populace. You’d still need a host womb so I’m still up for grabs once this one leaves but…perhaps creating an artificial womb might be possible…it sure would speed the process up for us and allow us a unique insight into the process, the neonatal care, and your children wouldn’t be living in people you didn’t know. We could have multiple pregnancies at the same time for comparisons.” Hanji lost themselves among the possibilities.

Levi smiled despite himself, “Shitty glasses, you’re getting way ahead of yourself.” Hanji reached out to take his hand, “Not really. I’ve been looking for another project to ask for grant money for. This would really help a lot of people but of course,” they leaned down smirking, “only if my most beloved friend and colleague would partner with me.” Hanji gave Levi a sultry gaze, their hair loosely falling around their shoulders without goggles on their forehead. They had a glow to them and look beautiful. Levi had always had such a soft spot for them. His cheeks blushed, “Glad to see I can still make you blush.” Levi hit them, “Shut up. You just wish I’d fuck you against a wall and talk about how filthy you are.” Levi laughed as Hanji opened the door, “Oh those were the days. Mike does just fine, though don’t worry. He doesn’t talk about the mess because he’s just as bad or rather we’re normal and you’re not.” Eren was going over plans with Mike and talking about animals and their needs when they came in the room. He had a black stuffed German Sheppard in the crook of his arm, “Oh that looks just like Donner.” Hanji exclaimed, “Yeah, I thought that’d be cute to get them one since they’ll play with the real things as they get older.” Eren smiled fully warming making Levi’s chest tighten, so magnificent.

Erwin and Armin were touring the house. Most of the rooms had antiques left in them so Hanji and Mike wouldn’t have to furnish them. Armin enjoyed the stories and Erwin smiled a lot. “I couldn’t imagine a better family living here. I’d always had mixed feelings about raising my own here, too many ghosts, but this,” he made a grand sweep of the house full of Mike and Hanji’s furniture, “this is really heartwarming.” Erwin leaned down to pick Armin up making him squeak. Wrapping his legs around Erwin’s strong waist he was granted kiss after sweet kiss. “What’s the big deal, daddy?” Armin giggled, “I’m going to make you happy if it’s the last thing I do, my sweet baby.” Erwin continued to pepper Armin’s face with kisses, “Ha! I should have more talks with you if this is how it ends up. Seriously, you always make me happy, daddy. You don’t have to try so hard. Erwin’s lips quirked up, “Whatever you want, Armin.” His voice a whisper as he promised, “Whatever you desire, speak and it shall be yours. I swear to you.” Armin blushed, “Honest?” Erwin carried them down the hall, “Honest.” Armin’s eyes narrowed and his smile turned impish, “I want ice cream.” Erwin burst into laughter, “Then you shall have ice cream.” They joined the others as they finished putting the final touches on and Levi stocked their fridge with pre-made meals much to Mike’s glee and Hanji’s amusement.

On their way home Levi and Eren stopped to grab dinner at a small hole in the wall café where they could sit close to one another and talk. Levi smoothed Eren’s hair back, “Do you know how to shoot?” Eren ate a few bites of his stew, “Yeah.” Levi continued to stroke his hair, “Well?” Eren sat back turning to face Levi in his chair, “Yeah.” The reply was breathy and soft and made Levi feel better. “I have to go run some errands with Erwin tomorrow so I won’t be home till really late. Are you going to Montgomery to check on that family friend?” Eren bristled, “Yeah, I missed last week and I know he’s gunna give me an ear full.” Levi smirked, “What’s his name?” Eren hesitated, “Hannes. I call him Mr. Hannes. He’s 84 now and it’s insane how well he does for himself. He needs help but I hope when we’re that old we’re getting around as well as he does.” Levi snorted, “When your 84 I’ll be 91, you know. I may not make it that far.” Eren stiffened next to him and Levi mentally kicked himself for saying such a negative thing. He watched as Eren went through various emotions until he met him, “No, you’ll be fine. Evil never dies.” Levi couldn’t help but laugh loudly, full body shaking, and teeth displayed for all to see. Eren soaked it in, pleased beyond belief he was the reason he was laughing like that, “Ani ohev otcha, Eren. Ani ohev otcha, ahuvi. (I love you, Eren. I love you, my love.)” They shared a brief kiss standing up and pulling on their clothes. The night was beginning and tomorrow would be another big day for them all.

Chapter Text

The bell on the door chimed as Erwin and Levi walked inside the small but luxurious red brick 1950s jewelry shop with its white walls and gold tin ceiling. An older man appeared, “Erwin!” His round baritone voice echoed on the restored cherry hardwood floors, “Today is the big day! Would you like champagne? OH Levi! Bonjour!” Levi nodded, “Bonjour Monsieur Goldburg. Ca va?” They exchanged a small pleasant conversation until Mr. Goldburg asked Erwin if he’d be paying on his black card or should he expect to suddenly become flush with cash? Erwin chuckled, “Yes, I’m here to drop some serious money and get everything done today. Here is a ring he wears most of the time and its fits well enough to go off of till we can bring it in to be resized properly.” Levi’s eyebrows rose, “You’re buying and engagement ring?” Erwin had not discussed that with Levi. He wasn’t opposed, just mildly surprised. Both men had been increasingly including both boys in their future plans and in truth, Levi had been on the receiving end of many of Erwin’s lectures on opening up and investing in others, of which Erwin had a hard time in doing as well but was able to fake it much better than Levi, and in these lectures Armin would inevitably come up and the focus would shift to how perfect Armin was to Erwin and for Erwin and how Eren simply “completed Levi in ways that Erwin was both jealous of and extremely delighted by.”.

Erwin smiled, “I am.” Levi took a glass of wine as they sat down to look at a selection Mr. Goldburg had already pulled, “You said traditional engagement style was a good way to go. You wanted an actual ring which I commend you because why should the ladies have all the fun with their bright stones and playfully expressive designs? You said he had dainty fingers and that you both like art deco so here I have some rings of art deco style for you to pick one from them.” Levi sat back, arm behind the couch around Erwin and his legs crossed.

Mr. Goldburg looked over his silver wire glasses, his short grey hair curly and thick even at his age, “I can pull out some for you too, Levi.” Erwin’s heart skipped a beat as he, too, drank from his glass. He eyed Levi from the side watching as his face betrayed nothing. After a few moments, Levi merely nodded and Mr. Goldburg started towards the back to grab some samples. “Take a look and decide what direction you’d like to go in and after we get Mr. Warbucks settled we’ll start with you. Such lucky lovers you two have to be getting stones such as these and of course the gift of love.” He smiled, his eyes shut as Levi started sorting, “Tch…lucky and expensive brats is more like it.” Erwin clapped his hand on his shoulder, “I’m excited to be doing this with you, Levi. I’m glad we’ve made it to this point. Today starts the first day in our journey to living completely honest, no more lies, with the people we love and on the verge of solving all of our problems.” Levi pinched the ring between his fingers inspecting the rose gold and black diamonds. His lip trembled, But, I’m not being honest with you, Erwin. Will you ever forgive me when you find out how deep my lies run? Levi’s stomach churned.

**********************
Eren parked on the street, nearly falling on the road as he tried to quickly get out of the car. He’d missed last week and he knew what that would look like to him. He ran down the sidewalk rounding the corner of the old apartment buildings with shops on the bottom as horns blared and pedestrians wandered aimlessly towards any place that was open with food after the 9-5 draining shift of the day. He made it to the door of the building ringing the buzzer to be let up. “Mr. Jaeger, shalom.” Eren turned, “Rabbi, I’m so sorry but I lost your number, I didn’t mean to not call.” His eyes stung with tears, “Please forgive me.” Rabbi Berkovich was a very attractive man of 34. He had dark blue eyes like the freshest blueberries of the spring harvest. His pale skin dusted with freckles and neat dark Auburn hair and side curls immaculate. Dressed in typical orthodox dress he stood out against Eren’s appearance in faded jeans, oversized grey sweater with blue and white plaid scarf wrapped tightly around his neck and brown work boots.

The Rabbi smiled, “It’s fine, Eren. I know how serious you are. I’m orthodox but I consider myself a more modern man in many ways.” He had a very nice musical laugh. Eren heard the door buzz but sometimes it stuck, both men moved to open the still locked gate but in the process Eren shouldered the man knocking his books on the ground. Eren and Rabbi Berkovich both leaned down bumping heads and, much to Eren’s horror, lips. When they pulled back the Rabbi wiped his mouth slightly adjusting his messenger bag. Eren blushed hard as Berkovich laughed at his embarrassment. "Erenush a kiss is just a kiss unless you make it something else." He grabbed his face planting another chaste one as Eren relaxed, "I kiss you like a brother, like a son, like HaShem would. Come, let's ring the bell again and see if the gate will open." As Eren turned to towards the door, it was only to slam into someone shorter and more solid than he was, "What the fuck is going on, Eren?" Eren's body was hot, extremely hot, He thought back to what had just happened, the fact that he was now caught in an even worse position, and now he’d have to come clean after months of hiding. "Levi! It's not....What did you!....why?...." Levi's eyes narrowed as his neck became red, "You get caught kissing someone, twice, and then you have the nerve to ask me questions?" Eren's mind simply stopped working and the next thing he knew everything went black.

He felt pain, horrible pain in the back of his head, "He's coming out of it. Erenush, can you speak?" Rabbi Berkovich was leaning over him with Levi, "umm oooow" his head really hurt. "At least you have a thick skull. You went down fast." Levi didn't sound angry, "I wasn't cheating. I would never cheat on you. I love you." His words ran together as he started to panic, "Eren, its okay. I'm sorry.” Levi’s eyes were still hard but his shoulders not as tense. He mumbled, “I saw it from a bad angle. Unless, you've decided I wasn't Jew enough for you and you really are courting a Rabbi." Berkovich laughed loudly at Levi’s serious accusation, "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Johnathan Berkovich. I am Eren's teacher. I assume you're possibly involved with Eren?" Levi's eye twitched, "Has he never mentioned he was in a relationship?" Eren groaned, "Please, let's go inside and just let me explain. Let me explain before you both start assuming things and this gets more out of hand. Mr. Hannes will be a delight as well." They buzzed the room and Levi opened the door following on Eren's heels and visibly hurt thinking Eren had kept him a secret.

Mr. Hannes, an old blond German man with a good set of teeth and tan skin, opened the door, "Glad to see you finally drug your ass off the toilet. Did you take an extra long shit today?" Eren cringed but the other two men thought he was amusing. Levi was beyond excited to get to know this man after preparing himself for the worst. Shit jokes always went over well with him. Eren moved forward motioning to Levi, "Mr. Hannes, this is-" He gave him an exasperated look, "This is THE Levi. I know, little shit. Let me get some tea." Eren moved, "No, no let me. I can do that now that I’m-" He held up a hand, "Stop. If he is here then obviously you messed up and he caught on so you need to explain everything. I'm old but I can boil water, Eren." Hannes disappeared into the small kitchen. Levi took a moment to admire the walls laden with photos and newspaper clippings and paintings. It was a very comforting old Europe vibe.

Rabbi Berkovich led Levi into the small living room to sit. "Erenush?" Eren was fidgety, "I started considering converting to Judaism after learning more about it. At first it was just to be respectful of your beliefs, Levi. But, it really called to me and well,” Eren’s eyes were turning red from the sting of unshed tears, “I'll save that for later when we're alone because it'll be a long conversation.” He smiled shyly continuing, “I started looking at Reform Judaism like you practice now but I just wanted to know more and do more with this religion. And I spoke a lot about it with Mr. Hannes and he hooked me up with Rabbi Berkovich. I decided that if I was going to go through the process I'd go through the traditional pathways and channels. Not cutting corners and that meant asking myself, often, why was I really doing it?” He turned more to Rabbi Berkovich, “I didn't mention I was dating a Jew because I didn't want my sincerity to be doubted and I knew if I was just doing this for you you'd not accept it, the Rabbi would not accept it, AND there were so many easier ways to do it or never do it at all because you told me I didn’t have to convert.” He paused, overcome with emotion. His voice was rough and thick as he finished, “I want our life, our future, our children’s future to be like this. I want it to be rooted in this belief. I know I'm rambling but....what I have learned is being a Jew is hard and becoming one is even harder because I'll never really be accepted by either side and no one will ever truly trust or understand my motivations, my reasons for doing so. Rabbi Berkovich said that nobody would ever choose to be a Jew," Levi's mind went back to that night, his blood thickened in his veins as time slowed down, "maybe I'll convert?...No one would want to be a Jew, Erwin," "except for those truly called and a convert is considered sweeter than the sweetest wine....or that's what was said before the pogroms increased and acceptance of converts meant death and repercussions." Eren finished bluntly pleasing Berkovich, regardless, with his knowledge.

Rabbi Berkovich clapped his hands together, "This is why it is so refreshing to work with such a sincere boy as you. I am truly in awe of the astute observations you make. Levi, I take it you're a practicing Jew and I must say you're an invaluable asset to him. Have you been helping him study?" Levi felt the world spin as he tried to take it all in, "No. He never asked for help. Not even under the guise of something else. I noticed that he seemed to have a plethora of knowledge but in all honesty I would just become so happy I didn't want to push it too far and jinx anything. In all honesty, I figured he was reading Wikipedia at his leisure and not doing his work in class." Berkovich smiled knowingly and nodded his head, "Well, no doubt you've had the largest influence on him.” He paused to smile coyly, “His sincere love and respect for you is evident. Just seeing how he's been looking at you while you've been here tells me so much more. I'm glad to know that Eren proceeded down this path alone, though. It makes his accomplishments all the more impressive. I think that with the rate this is going our little Erenush will soon be ready for the Mikvah and will lead a humble religious life that will honor HaShem truly. I am very happy to see two people in love doing such honorable things." Levi felt faint. Eren would be the death of him if continued to hurt his heart with so much love like this. Rabbi Berkovich and Eren moved to the dining to go over his studies while Levi sat contemplating all that he had just learned.

Mr. Hannes returned with tea and some donuts before sitting next to Levi with a thump. "You've met Grisha?" Levi nodded sipping his tea. "He's a well meaning bastard." Levi choked on his tea snorting. "I would certainly have to agree." Hannes smiled fondly, "He saved my family twice....failed the third time though. Knew his father from childhood and in a strange turn of events my wife had met Carla’s relatives on vacation in Turkey once and hit off well and were friends for years.” Hannes took a drink, “I love him but he would shit if he knew I was helping his son find a good orthodox Rabbi for conversion." Levi smiled, "He's mad enough he's dating a Jew." Hannes laughed ruffling Levi's hair. Levi smirked, smiling shyly at the warm familiar feeling he got from Mr. Hannes. He reminded him of his deceased uncle Kenny. "My wife was Jewish, survived Auschwitz and a number of other camps. I found her in the forest as a patrol officer washing in a stream." Levi's eye crinkled at the edges from the fond tone of Hannes’ voice, "Saw her bathing on the roof like David did, right?" Hannes nodded, "At least I wasn’t married.” He chuckled, “I spoke no Polish. Luckily, she was French-German and being German I was able to woo her fast and good." Levi was interested, "How were you on patrol? German soldiers were rounded up at hour zero?" Hannes drank his tea, "Because I wasn’t a German soldier. My family and I moved after WWI to America and became citizens. I grew up visiting Germany and spoke only German at home in an all German community. I was upset about the state of Germany after 37 and after Pearl Harbor I became a paratrooper. I loved my homeland but what's wrong is wrong. I am thankful in a small way because it's how I met my soul mate, my beautiful French-German Marlene Dietrich-esque wife." Levi took it all in, "But, you never converted?" Hannes was quiet, "I did a lot of bad things, saw things, liberated camps of starving Jews and others...” His eyes were focused on things far away, on the past. Levi knew the feeling, “I left God” Levi knew that feeling as well, “at Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Auschwitz, and on the streets of St. Malo with snipers, my fellow German breather, my brothers in arms, the enemies or my enemies. I left pieces of my belief around Europe, discarded them like sand through my hands on the beaches of Normandy coming home. My faith dwindled to splinters and shattered shards of glass. I thought about it, after my first daughter was born, but my wife had enough faith for the both of us. For people like us, Levi, finding a partner that’s like that is important. We lead half lives. Half a life is all we have after the things we’ve done and seen. They’re just exploding with it and have enough for everyone but they choose to share it with us. They bring us out of the past and into the present." Levi was quiet as Hannes opened the newspaper on his end table. Both men relaxed as Eren and Berkovich's voices mingled in the small space. Levi watched as Eren practically radiated light from his seat.

After a few hours Eren said that they would be finishing up and leaving. Levi asked if he could come back, to which Hannes replied with a snort and roll of the eyes. Eren was glad things were comfortable now between them all and hoped they would stay that way. Levi took stock of the apartment once more before leaving. As they walked to their cars they held hands, Eren started to hum nothing in particular. When they parted they did so reluctantly. Levi called as soon as they left, turning on his blue tooth and driving back making no real conversation but merely enjoying feeling close to him until they reached Maria's city limits and pulled up to their home.

Once inside they said hello to Erwin and Armin who asked if they all wanted to spend a lazy night watching movies in their room. Eren changed into loose grey sweatpants as Levi stripped to his navy boxers and pulled on an oversized white cotton shirt. They crawled into Erwin and Armin's bed, wrapping up in large blankets and down comforters. Eren leaned his back against Levi's sturdy chest rubbing the strong arms that circled around him. Levi nibbled and kissed his neck marking him through the evening as Marco Polo played episode after episode and Armin and Erwin discussed fine details and made out. Levi didn't need to talk about anything right then, not when he and Erwin had rings in their pockets and his heart was beating the name Eren over and over in his chest.

***************************


The sound of papers rustling, “What’s wrong?”
The room goes silent save for deep uneven breaths, “What? Nothing’s wrong.”
“Something’s wrong.”
“Nothing! I fucking swear nothing is wrong.”
“Quick to anger…A sure sign something is really wrong.”
“I’m tired.”
“Why were you in my desk?”
“I was looking for my passport.”
“You were looking at my father’s emails. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” The drawer slides close with a thud, “I was just looking for my passport.”
“Hmmm” The deep hum feels the space. It buzzes like a sound grenade, “Funny thing is, it’s right in the safe where we keep all of our… joint important documents.” A passport is thrown on the table with a slap that stings like a whip, “I pulled it out for you just now. I know you’ll need it for your visa.”
“I see.” The silence stretches “I was looking for it here. I must have forgotten.”
A sigh, “Even after I threw the passport down you’re still sticking with that?”
The chair shifts, “I’m telling you that even after you’ve thrown that passport down I was still looking for my passport.” The chair moves. Bodies struggle briefly till one passes through the door frame, the sounds of bare feet on the cold floor echo until the front door slam. A loud exclamation of “fuck” can be heard throughout the house.

**************************
A few days later
8:43 p.m.

Levi’s phone rang, “Hanji?” Hanji’s voice was labored, “Come here.” They wheezed, “Come here and help me. I’m having contractions and it’s too soon, Levi. It’s too soon.” Levi could hear fighting in the back ground, yelling, and the sound of a shot gun. “Coming.” He jumped off the couch running to grab shoes, first aid kit, and his gun. Eren trailed behind him, “What happened?” Levi grabbed ammunition he moved into the foyer turning to see Erwin running down the hall with the others following, “Hanji is in labor; someone shot a gun in the background. Grab your gun and lets-“ Erwin cut him off, “It’s in my jacket, let’s go.” They moved out to Levi’s car, “Levi! Let me come and-“ Levi opened the door, “NO! If you don’t hear anything in an hour call the hospital first and then the police, have them go to Hanji and Mike’s.” They pulled out, tires screeching and rubber burning.

Eren stood in the driveway as Armin contemplated the situation, “I have a bad feeling about this.” Jean and Marco were in the doorway, they agreed, “We’re going to go.” Eren looked at Armin, “You sure.” His eyes sparkled, he turned to the side looking at the porch blinds, his voice was darker and more mischievous than normal, “The hunt begins.” Armin grabbed their jackets and a few other things before heading back out. Armin stopped by Jean, “Jean, you know what to do.” Jean’s eyes narrowed, his body language shifted, “Make sure you make it count.” Armin smiled, “Oh, we will.” Marco worried his lip before taking Jean’s hand, “We’re a phone call away, just keep that in mind. We can get our hands dirty, if need be. Here,” he tossed Eren his switch blade, “its good luck.”

***********************

Levi pulled up to the house, surveying quickly. The house wasn’t on fire or anything but the door was pitted with cut marks and there was the smell of recent gun fire. Levi moved out of the car keeping low to the ground as he approached the front door turning his back in case of sniper fire or someone coming out into view from the trees surrounding the house. Erwin had his spare key ready, opening the door quietly and letting them in to close it and lock it again. They listened for sounds of something or anything until Hanji cried out.

Taking the stairs three at a time they came out on the second floor and spread out opening doors and closets always expecting and unfriendly attacker on the other side. They met back going to the third floor. Mike in his chair could only reach these floors if he used the vintage elevator. Erwin checked the lift but it wasn’t up. Where is Mike?

Levi opened one of the empty rooms finding Hanji in the corner and a gun in his face. “It’s me!” Mike lowered the shot gun. “There’s blood.” Mike’s voice was panicked. “They’re in the woods. We can’t take them out easily because of the trees. I think I counted 7.” Erwin went over to the window, “You took the lift up and then hit the button for it to go down didn’t you?” He scanned the woods in the meantime. “Yeah, thought it’d throw them off. They’d want to take out the cripple with the shot gun and maybe it’d keep them on the first floor for a while.” Erwin thought that was pretty smart. He also thought that being surrounded by possibly seven people was troublesome.

Levi was trying to soothe Hanji and prevent them from delivering the baby. At only 31 weeks they were one week short of the barely acceptable and critical 32 mark that increased the likelihood of preemie survival. He didn’t have anything he needed and he didn’t have much time to get Hanji to the hospital. He busied himself with trying to find out what was causing the bleeding or what had caused it, “Hanji, when did it start?” Hanji groaned in pain, “Kicked, I was thrown down and then kicked.” Levi felt his rage boil up and over, “By whom?” His voice was deadly, “Molbit. I don’t want to talk Levi. It hurts too much. I’m scared that I won’t be able to stop it and I’ll have the baby on this dirty floor. However will you be able to cope with that?.” Hanji seized up from another contraction, “Save my baby, Levi. I’m not the first priority.”

”Don’t you dare say shit like that. Shut up and relax till Erwin can get the situation under control.” Erwin snorted, “I’m so glad I am responsible for this. We need to call the police.” There was no service, “How?” Mike looked over, “They’ve jammed the signals, cut the lines, everything. Our cars had the brakes cut, watched’em do it before we got up here. Might do it to y’alls car as well.” He watched as a few figures ghosted across the lawn, shadows moving sinisterly onto the porch.

Glass shattered downstairs as three figures stepped inside. Erwin made the decision to leave and ambush them on his own. He whispered, “keep the gun on the door. I’ll knock three sharp knocks if I need back in.” Erwin moved outside stalking down the hall, pistol ready and sure. His steps were light, eyes adjusting to the darkness and mind moving him along from memory alone. What is your life worth? He shuddered when the needle scratched against the record player on the first floor, his mother’s voice filled the house.


Sempre libera degg´io
folleggiare di gioia in gioia,
vo´che scorra il viver mio
pei sentieri del piacer.
Nasca il giorno, o il giorno muoia,
sempre lieta ne´ ritrovi,
a diletti sempre nuovi
dee volare il mio pensier

Erwin passed an open bedroom and then the hall bath. Once he came into the main stairwell he looked over the railing down to see standing in the foyer a lone masked figure in all black. It looked up to him,


Amor? alpito
dell´universo intero,
misterioso, altero,
croce e delizia al cor.

His blood boiled as the figure brought up a hand holding the vinyl record cover with his mother’s face on it, beautiful and striking was her profile.



Oh!
Oh! Amore!
Follie!
Gioir!

Sempre libera degg´io, ecc...

The song ended and the figure bounded up the staircase as the next began. Erwin shot twice, missing as the figure dodged deftly. He was certainly dealing with a soldier of some years. Erwin ran down to the second floor, jumping down the bottom stair like a cat, barely missing a patch of water from an upturned vase at the foot of the last step. He moved deftly until he was hit from the side with blunt end of a knife. It burned as the pain spread through his face. They struggled slamming into the wall and grappling with one another till Erwin was able to pin them down and shoot them in the back of the head. The commotion made it more dangerous for him because now the other two would know where he was. He crawled into the bathroom on his hands and knees as the other quickly climbed the stairs.

He listened as he walked around the small hall, footsteps making a distinct thud. Levi would say, “he’s got an injury, right leg, round the back of the knee.” He hoped that he wouldn’t have to fight with him physically. He needed to secure the area and get Hanji out as quickly as possible. If only he could get it to where Levi could get them out and send help. Armin would call in an hour and they’d already burned up at least 25 minutes.

He heard the person start up to the third floor and he had to get their attention. He climbed in the claw foot tub grabbing a soap dish and threw it around the corner of the wall the tub was on and out the door into the room across. It made a large racket as it bounced and slid on the floor. The figure left the stairs. He pressed himself against the wall of the shower, pulling the curtain around him. He would eventually check the bathroom and when he came around the corner Erwin would need to act fast of be shot, cut, or killed himself. He waited; listening for them to figure out it was soap dish. They took the bait and began a slow and cautious stalk towards the bathroom.

He was definitely dealing with a more cautious person than the first one. They used a flash light to shine into the mirror at an angle. They were unable to use it to see where Erwin was due to the curtain but they knew it would blind anyone in there since the house was so dark. Erwin shut his eyes but enough light had flashed in. He couldn’t hear them and he waited, like a sitting duck, in the cool tiled bathroom waiting for whatever may come. His heart was loud in his chest, ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum

The curtain ripped back as the blade pierced threw slashing down and slicing across his chest through his coat. His arm flew out grabbing the intruder’s shoulder, knocking him back into the counter with the sink hitting him painfully above his tail bone. He cried out in pain and Erwin lunged like a wild cat towards him, pinning him down viciously and shooting him. Blood splattered on the counter and Erwin put him in the tub for easier clean up. Most would be upset at that action but in Erwin’s life, death was not something out of the ordinary and Levi would have done the same.

He heard the last intruder leave outside as he came down. He stalked around the floor until he came to the broken living room window. Outside he saw something that confused him. In the same sort of dark oversized clothes was Armin, blond hair platinum in the light. He held a cell phone and turned to face Erwin, blue eyes magnificent lit by the back light the moon offered that night. He held a delicate finger up to his lips, wait, stay quiet before pulling on one of the masks and the hood of the jacket completely obscuring his features before he typed on the phone.

A few tense moments went by as the ringing of other phones could be heard. Mike had counted seven. Erwin killed two; Armin must have killed one for those clothes, so when five figures joined him in the yard he felt panicked. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that Armin was involved in this, that he’d played Erwin, that he’d been played by the very person he loved and trusted was going to kill him.

How ironic, I always thought Levi would have been the death of me.

He watched as another, sixth, figure joined them last and more slowly. They all spoke in Arabic. From the bits of conversation he gathered that Hanji had been the target and asked if they’d been secured or killed. Turning to Armin, they clearly saw him as the leader and the final say. Armin made a sign like a cut across his throat. They shrugged but didn’t seem too upset about it.

When they turned toward the last figure Erwin realized that something was off. They all took a step back as if they were unsure about the last person. Armin…you’re diabolical…did you really… The click of the switchblade was heard through the silence and then the panic set in as shoulder’s tightened and knees bent for a sprint. The figure plunged with medical precision into the heart of the one closest to him. Blood sprayed as it found the throat of the other. Armin moved forward, jacket opening to reveal two axes the length of a forearm. He lunged forward, cutting down into the junction of shoulder and neck, slashing through air and flesh. Erwin was confused, disturbed, and thankful he could go get Hanji and help.

He turned to go up the stairs, hitting the lift for it come up. After reaching the third floor door, he knocked three times before flinging it open. Unfortunately, it was to the site of Levi seconds away from delivering Hanji’s baby. The sound of sirens could be heard and when he looked into the yard Armin and Erwin were gone. He heard them coming up the stairs and when they appeared Levi already had the head out and was coaching Hanji through their pushes. Armin removed his mask and so did Eren, surprising Erwin as the other figure, but their focus was on Hanji. “Levi,” they gritted out loud and desperately whinny, “Levi save my baby.” They wept with their head against the floor, “I’m so fucking angry.” They whispered, “I’m so angry. I just wanted….so much…” Levi was cut off from everything; there was nothing but the tiny life emerging into the world and Hanji’s body, their body that had become a tool in grounding him and making Maria his home. Now, that was all being threatened. All he could do was pray, pray that they lived and their child, their sweet child who was to stand for Mike and Hanji Zacharias on judgment day, lived to do so.

*****************
Levi delivered Hanji’s baby in the house and held her all the way to the hospital alongside her mother who was hemorrhaging and despite it all was awake touching their child as the EMTs worked frantically to save them in awe of their spirit. Once they arrived Hanji was rushed to emergency surgery and was given, once again contrary to all medical estimates, a favorable outcome with full recovery. Levi waited for news on baby Zoe and for Erwin to show up and fill him in on why the hell Armin and Eren were there.

Mike and Erwin showed up, pale and worried. After Mike was told all the options and information he wheeled himself into the waiting room. The same doctor that did his surgery and the other doctor who did Eren and Marco’s appeared, “We figured that since you’re all always involved in something we’d give you the use of the chapel room we keep locked. You could talk in there and I’ll get you when you’re fiancé wakes fully and if I find out anything about your little girl.” The men entered the room to wait.

Mike cleared his throat, “What are you going to name her?” Levi sighed, “What?” His brow furrowed, “ Hanji didn’t tell you?” Levi shook his head as Mike smiled, “That’s so like them. Well, we decided that if it was a boy we’d name him but Hanji was insistent that if we had a girl you should name her. They said it would be one of the greatest gifts you could ever give them and I agreed. Plus, I doubt you’d name her something horrible.” Mike smiled as Levi felt the world move below him, “You really want me to do that?” Mike nodded. “I…don’t know if I can…” Mike leaned back, “You held her first, saw her, and delivered her. It’s only right that you would name her. I would be honored, too. It’ll be a great story one day to tell her and sort of put a positive spin on all of this.” Levi nodded silently moving his hands against one another.

He took some time to think about her and then he spoke, “Mila” his voice was soft and the tears ran down his face as he wiped them away. “Mila Pamellah Zacharias.” Mike smiled, “Mila” he said the name in awe, turning it over in his mouth with a bright smile, “I love it. Why that?” Levi cried more, “She was a girl in my community in France. I fell in love with her green eyes and short curly dark hair. I wanted to marry her but I was a mamzer and there was no way her family would ever let me disgrace their line like that. Forbidden to me, she ended up marrying a man when she turned 15 and started having children. I visited her on leave once in Hungry, her husband moved back to their ancestral home to take over his father’s position as Rabbi. After my visit she died. A piece of me has always wanted to honor Mila Pfefferberg. Her name is too beautiful to not pass on.” Mike and Erwin gave pause after hearing the story. He’d never been so candid with Mike and he felt even more touched that he’d allow them to have the name he cherished so much. Erwin had never heard that Levi had wanted to marry a girl name Mila and couldn’t help but hope that maybe, the girl with the green eyes had sent him Eren in some twist of faith. Erwin wanted to know more but now was not the time to ask.

”Pamellah?” Mike asked excitedly, “What does Pamellah mean to you?” Levi smirked, “When I saw her I thought about how she was the sweetest thing. She was full of sweetness and that is what Pamela, though I would spell it Pamellah so that the “ah” sounds are emphasized and it isn’t pronounced like Pamela Anderson, means. All-sweetness.” She is all sweetness and will hopefully bring you nothing but sweetness.” Levi lay back in the chair. “Erwin, where are Armin and Eren?” Erwin chewed his lip, “They…” his phone rang, “Hello? Um…okay I understand.” Erwin turned his phone off, “Levi, we need to go to the parking deck. Are you okay waiting here, Mike? Petra and Eld are on their way to sit with you and the doctors will bring them back when they get here.” Mike smiled softly, “As long as Hanji is gunna be good for now then I’ll be fine here till they arrive.” He turned to Erwin, “Wonder why they want you to go to the parking deck?” He gave Erwin a pointed look, “You two are basically dating miniature versions of yourself. I can only imagine what they’ve got.” Levi stood up, “I think they’re much more dangerous than we ever could be. Call me if something changes. We’ll be back in 10.”

**************************

Levi and Erwin approached Eren’s Porsche noting that they were in an area without cameras and more than enough convenient blind spots to make sure they went unnoticed. The car was backed in to the space against the cinderblock wall. Armin was leaning against the driver’s side door, his eyes closed and face tired. He’d been looking older and more mature these last few weeks in Erwin and Levi’s opinion. He’d also had a slight growth spurt, as well as Eren, with his shoulder’s broadening and legs becoming shapelier. His body stayed all lean muscle and sinew but Erwin couldn’t help but find him even more attractive than the first day he saw him. Armin’s head rolled towards them as they approached, his voice high and playful, “Daddy.” His sweet smile coy and delicious.

Erwin and Levi stopped, “What did you have to show us?” Both Levi and Erwin really just wanted to have them explain everything. Why had they come? Why had they chosen to do what they did? There were so many questions, as there always were with dealing with Armin and Eren. Armin pushed off and nicked his head towards the back of the Porsche. Eren smiled at Levi before opening the back and lifting it up. It was empty and Erwin and Levi were more than a littler perplexed. Eren moved to run his hand on the floor finding the seam and lifting the carpet back to reveal the area meant for a spare tire and extra storage. He hit the button unlocking it and opening the space. Levi’s eyebrow rose, “Well,” Erwin chuckled darkly beside him, “that’s interesting.”

Chapter Text

Levi and Erwin sent Armin and Eren back to the house. They needed to check back in before they followed. Hanji was awake and when he entered the room they smiled at him. “Shorty, you’re a life saver. How pretty is she?” Levi couldn’t help but smile, “She’s beautiful. Just like her mother.” Erwin laughed, “I think her father is pretty beautiful, if I don’t say so myself.” Mike snorted, “Thanks. I was feelin’ left out. She smells great too.” Levi took Hanji’s hand. “We’re about to go back to the house. We’ve got some business to take care of.” Hanji’s face faltered. “Okay, I understand. But, stay for at least a few more minutes because she’s going to be brought in and we might get to hold her.” Hanji’s voice was hoarse but it soared with a happiness he’d never heard and he was released, released from the tension he’d been feeling since Mila landed in his hands. Levi’s knees buckled, “Lee!” Erwin came to the side of the bed putting a chair under him, “you’re getting too upset. It’s going to be okay.”

Hanji stroked his hand, “I thought…I thought she was going to die or you would die or both. I’m sorry. I’m just so relived. Never get hurt again, Hanji. Never do that to me again.” Hanji smiled, “I’m sorry but I’m so glad that it was you.” After they rolled baby Zoe in Hanji asked Levi to name her. He told her Mike had already asked and he’d decided that Mila Pamellah would be perfect. Hanji cried tears of joy. She held little Mila, so small and attached to tubes and wires bigger than she was because of the state of her lungs. They said she was a fighter. She would still be at risk for complications but with a little time and a lot of love everything might be fine.

Mike held her and promised her everything under the sun, a pony, to clean his gun when she brought a boy home, to walk her down the aisle one day. He was completely devoted to her every future whim and it’d only been an hour since she was born. When he handed her to Levi it was in slow motion. Levi kissed her tiny fist and fingers as she squirmed. “She knows you got her out of that inhospitable womb. She’s tellin’ you all about it.” Mike laughed as Hanji joined him. Erwin took pictures with his phone. “Mila, Mila Pamellah, my sweetness. Be strong, be kind, and never let anyone make you settle for things you don’t want.” He whispered as her fingers curled around his. He was just as bad off as Mike. He wanted this. He wanted to hold his child one day and he wanted it to be his and Eren’s. If I live to see that day…

After passing her to Erwin, Petra and Eld asked about what happened. Hanji turned to look at Levi. Something about their body language and the look in their eyes told Levi he needed to pay attention and not ask too many questions. “Well,” Hanji began,”I found out that Molbit wasn’t doing right by us. He had started taking things form the lab, his behavior made me think he was abusing drugs, and some of the data we needed was tampered with and I couldn’t work with him anymore. I fired him, tried to reason with him that it wasn’t personal and he let it go. Or so I thought.” Hanji paused, “We went out for lunch that day and he asked if I was pregnant and I said yes. I had started letting my bump show a lot more because hiding it isn’t worth the time. I like parking in the expectant mother space on rainy days, too.” Petra laughed shortly as Eld snorted, “But when he saw my ring, that’s when things turned ugly. He started telling me I couldn’t marry Mike, talked all sorts of shit about him. I was confused and a little upset the more he went on and finally he asked me if I’d considered giving up the baby and leaving Mike and I got upset and left. He said a lot of strange things about my devotion to work being compromised. I’d had enough.” Hanji took a drink of their water and Mike cleared his throat.

”When Hanji got home I was wiped out from physical therapy. They took a shower and I sat in the bathroom while they told me they let Molbit go and what happened at lunch. At about eight that evening after we’d had dinner, thanks Levi for the array of pre-made food you keep leaving when we’re not at home,” Petra smiled fondly, “That sounds like a dream.” Mike nodded, “It is. Hanji can eat everything he makes. Other stuff made them sick all the time. Anyway, around 8:00 Molbit shows up and I opened the door. He looked horrible and said he’d come to apologize to Hanji. I let him in, reluctantly, and went back into the dining room where I’d laid my silo plans out.” Mike’s neck turned red, “He started, I don’t even know, started talking crazy. Crazy shit about them leaving the country to work and they could bring the baby. He’d help her with the baby. I was pissed. He kept mislabeling them and the only person that ever uses female pronouns was their OBGYN and Hanji personally told them it was okay. And then he admits to looking in her file from the OBGYN and questioned if possibly the baby…wasn’t mine.” Hanji touched his arm, “I asked him to leave and he got violent.”

”When Mike came in the room he started telling him that I was coming with him and Mike better not try to stop him. Mike got so mad he stood up and started to fight with him. I knew that was hurting Mike’s recovery so I grabbed Molbit’s arm and it all escalated so quickly. The next thing I know he’s enraged. He’s yelling about how he loves me and wants to be with me. When I told him I didn’t feel that way he threw me down and started kicking me..” Hanji looked at Levi and he knew there was so much more to this story than they were being told. He had Mila again in his arms. Unable to move since she was attached to the machine and bed, Levi held her protectively. She’d been through a lot while inside of her mother and he was sad that he was the reason her home had become so hurtful.

“Actually, I know how rude this sounds but could Levi and I be left alone? After I talk to him then I’ll let y’all back in and Erwin and Levi can take care of what’s going on with Armin and Eren.” They all moved, making side glances at the two until the room was empty and the door closed. “What happened, really, Hanji?” Hanji sighed, “He called me a Jewish whore. Asked if the baby was yours, he was…trying to get me to join a sleeper cell, Levi. I’m in a bad place right now. Mike is too. We’re in between a rock and a hard place with our two best friends. Mike will do whatever it takes to protect Erwin and I understand that because he’s my best friend, too. But, we’re…we’re special Levi, I have more loyalty to you and your secrets.” Hanji closed their eyes as Levi held his breath. “I don’t understand.” Hanji’s head rolled to the side on the pillow to look at him. Their lips a thin line and face grim, tired, “Your friends called me, Levi. Get it? Your friends called me and they want me to work with them.”

Levi seized up; hot waves of dread overtook him. He slid Mila back into her incubator. His world was crumbling, “It’s not what you think. It’s different now.” Hanji closed her eyes, jaw clenched, “Did you ever love him? Do you love Erwin, now? Are you his friend?” Levi turned, stomach rolling, and doubled over in emotion, “YES, yes, yes, yes, yes I love him and I am and that’s why it’s not like what you think. I would never hurt him. I never wanted… I was supposed to be close to him but I didn’t want to be at first. I wanted to hate him but the more I got to know him the more I realized that I loved Erwin Smith, that spoiled rich asshole, and I couldn’t just get what I needed and leave. When we were taken hostage…” Hanji’s eyes widened, “When you were what?” Levi sobbed, “That’s where we were for eight months.” He sobbed and sobbed, “We were held hostage, Hanji. We weren’t just busy, we weren’t on missions where we couldn’t Skype due to security reasons, we were fighting for our lives in a cell, in the desert, in pits of bodies, and that’s why we can never be apart. Because he is my best friend, my confidant, and he saved my life. I have to do this, it’s what I was asked to do but I am not going to hurt Erwin Smith. I am going to help him. What did they ask of you?”

"They want me to help you. They want me to work with them and help you with the serum and of course, with finding him. I just want to know.....when did they contact you? How did they get a poor gangster from New York to end up in the same basic as a rich boy from the south?" Levi frowned, "Kenny knew a few guys. When they learned I was going into basic they checked and it just so happened it was with a guy named Erwin Smith. Fate is a funny thing, Hanji. They wanted me to get close to him and report with information but like I said, I never really wanted to do it and after I became close with him we worked out another arrangement.”

“Erwin didn't have the information they thought he did. In fact, he was so clean and innocent it made me hate it all the more. I considered killing him. It would have been for his own good. When we were taken hostage we became high priority but they couldn't just pool all their resources into finding two Americans when there were civilians captured. Also they couldn’t possibly negotiate with terrorists, what would the world say? I found the opportunity to escape and we did. They picked us up. Erwin met them. However, my involvement stayed top secret. I was given different orders.”

“We moved back to the states and you know, it was three months of shit till we reunited. I was miserable without him, like I had lost the other half of my body. He must have been bad off, too. None of you talk about it. I’d hoped I could shuck my orders and get away from Erwin Smith but that wasn’t what he wanted and that’s not what my soul wanted either. We sued the contractors after Erwin built a good enough case. In doing so, Erwin thought we were just righting a wrong but I was letting them use our case as a way to data mine our mutual enemies. I agreed to give them access and was rewarded with a peaceful life for three years with Erwin Smith safe under my watchful eye and his file sealed away. Now, after everything that has happened they reopened our case because he's surfaced again and we're targets. I need to finish this serum, I need to destroy all evidence that Marco and Eren are involved, I need to kill him....because if he's taken out then half of the Palestinian terror dies with him and maybe we can make this world a little better for everyone, especially the innocent lives living in the area. It would also protect Erwin. I just want to protect Erwin from anymore harm and sadness."

Hanji took it all in, mulling it over, "I agree. I'll help you do whatever it takes. But, you need to tell him, Levi. We all need to go in eyes wide open. He’s going to be hurt and scared that you’ve been…lying the entire time." Levi leaned over and down kissing Hanji, "You’re right." Hanji smiled, "I'm here for you and so is Eren. Tell him and Erwin and Armin. Tell your little family and I'll tell mine. We're going to be okay, uncle Levi." Hanji teased making Levi choke up more. “Shut up. I like her so much more than you, shit head.” He smiled and then became serious, “I promise you, she’ll want for nothing.”

Levi and Erwin walked to his car. Erwin chatted about anything and everything as he tended to do with Levi when they were alone. Levi couldn’t imagine how he was going to tell Erwin everything. He watched as he started to unlock the door and move to open the driver’s side door, “What do you think you’re going?” Erwin smirked, “Diving. I have the keys.” He jingled the keys in front of Levi, “Erwin” Levi’s voice was hesitant, “I love you.” Erwin leaned on the edge of the seat. All playfulness left his features, “I love you, too.” Erwin searched his face finding it flushed pink and upset. Levi was so different now than from when they first met. His cold façade dropped now when they were alone.

Levi quickly moved forward, hands cupped the side of Erwin’s face, “Please… Please don’t leave me.” Levi surged forward, his lips covering Erwin’s and moving passionately, desperate. Erwin gripped his waist standing when he started sliding off the seat. Levi refused to be parted from him and he picked him up letting his legs wrap around him as they kissed. He knew something was wrong, knew something was going on other than what had happened in hospital. But, he wanted to ignore it and focus only on Levi whose lips were so soft and love so deep.

Back at the house Erwin and Levi headed to the new barn and stables where muffled screams were heard. Opening the two barn doors Marco and Jean were sitting on a hay bell drinking beer while Eren and Armin were quite sadistically torturing an enraged Molbit. “Does it hurt?” Eren snarled, “After the pain we felt this is nothing.” Armin had pulled off finger nails, “I like how you scream, Molbit.” Armin’s voice oozed satisfaction and sadism. He put the pliers down. Molbit was leaned over, face bloodied from a hit to the head. He was nude save for his underwear. As Levi approached he spat at his feet, “Get the fuck away from me you filthy piece of shit.” Levi’s eyes were hard as the anger boiled inside of him.

”You can say whatever you want about me, hate me, try to kill me, I don’t give a shit” his monotone voice took on a much more sinister tone, “But you fucked up when you hurt Hanji, when you hurt their child.” Levi’s fists clenched, “Who are you in contact with?” Molbit laughed, “I’m not going through it again. I know you’ve been recording…you’re too cautious not to, Armin. I wanted to find someone like you to join us. I know a few guys who’d keep you well fucked and treat you like a God. You could play God, Armin, you could move up in the ranks. Let me go. Come join us.” Erwin’s angered flared at the words. He looked over and sure enough Armin had revealed a tape recorder from behind a barrel. Armin’s pale finger hit the button, “Who do you work for?”Armin’s voice darker than he’d ever heard it asked from the small plastic recorder, “The Wall.” Molbit rasped out through the pain. Armin turned to Levi, his face unreadable, “Do you know who The Wall is?” Levi felt his hate push past the threshold and back into old territories.

”Of course he does. He knows a lot more than you all think.” Eren’s eyes narrowed, “Why did you bring Jeeter down here?” Molbit shook, “He was an invaluable talent. He took risks. That’s why you’re the way you are now. He risked everything to use it on you and Jean…even if Marco was who really got the injection. He really fell hard for Jean and as we’ve seen, Jean’s pretty invaluable himself.” Molbit cackled as Jean stood up enraged, “Fuck you,. Fuck you, you son of a bitch. Kill him Armin. I’m done with his shit. You’re a Judas, nothing more than a Judas.”

Armin moved forward squatting down to his level. His face calm and eyes curious. Levi’s skin became hotter as he watched him proceed with sadistic coolness, detached from the suffering yet he never lost himself. Armin was truly a lethal person. His voice was low, almost a purr. It would have been seductive if the situation was radically different, “Who is your contact in Gaza? We know that’s where the base is. I’m sure you’ve got cells in Syria, Egypt, England, France, Germany, and Turkey. I’ve been keeping up with you, Molbit. I’ve been watching.” Molbit’s eyes flickered between Armin and Levi. He started sweating more but said nothing. Armin stood up stretching his neck rolling his head side to side. The over sized black thermal shirt revealed part of his clavicle and a few inches of his shoulder. Purpling bruises on his alabaster skin, “I said,” his petite hand moved to Molbit’s shoulder, “Who is your contact?” He drew out the words softly letting them linger in the space between them. “Levi knows who my contact is.” Armin’s fingers squeezed hard on the pressure point paralyzing Molbit with pain. He screamed silently convulsing in the chair. His writhing went on as Jean drained his beer, golden eyes on fire with hate, “That’s not what I asked you. Answer my questions or I’ll start pulling off fingers again.” He released him. Levi took note that Armin had removed his left pinky and thumb. Molbit bit out, “Levi knows who my contact is…or at least his friends do.”

Levi went red, “Why did you attack Hanji? You couldn’t have seriously thought they’d leave the country to join a sleeper cell!?” Molbit wheezed as he sagged in the chair. He looked mournful, “I bet that kid is yours.” He said the words with a hiss of bitterness. “I love Hanji, I wanted her to come with me and help us. She’s so smart and so capable.” He inhaled before screaming, “I wanted that bastard, that mamzer, of yours to go away.” Levi turned red, “Armin how much is on that tape?” Armin gave him a knowing look, “About an hour of information.” Levi shook, “Have you asked all of your questions?” Armin nodded, “Yes. He’s yours, Levi.”

Levi moved forward deftly and quickly dragging him and the chair along the cement floor. The wood screeched at he pulled him to the center, walking over to one of the stables and grabbing a rope they could use for lifting bales. Molbit begged, he cried out, pleaded with Levi. A man faced with death isn’t as proud as he’d like to think he’d be. Levi tied the rope around Molbit’s throat, roughly jerking his head back to meet his eyes. Between gritted teeth Levi growled out, “It’s not my baby but it doesn’t matter. You fucked up when you went after them.” He tied the rope tighter and walked over to the wall, “I hope HaShem destroys your soul. I hope you never see the resurrection. I’ll remove your neck bones and make a dice box out of them for what you’ve done and said,” hitting the button that would normally raise up bales but instead it raised Molbit off the floor choking him slowly and painful. Molbit twitched and Levi felt himself go back to Badschi when he killed without feeling, where he killed for no reason. The room was silent save for the choking sounds. After a good two minutes Molbit was still somehow still holding on and Levi was planning on drawing it out as long as possible. His eyes and persona were the very same as in Bad City. Then one lone gunshot cut through the death rattles, striking Molbit through the eye and putting him out of his hate filled life and misery.

Levi turned around to find Erwin’s face grim and somewhat disapproving. He looked down expecting him to have been the one who shot him but it wasn’t. Armin had done it. He put the gun back in Erwin’s coat pocket. “I think that was enough. We need to get rid of him and then review the tapes.” Levi looked to Eren whose face had the slight spray of blood on it. He looked like a young warrior. They disposed of the body, heading back as the night was turning into morning. Eren was quiet as he rode with Levi back to the house in the car. Erwin and Armin had taken their own car while Jean and Marco cleaned in the barn. Marco’s father had apparently taught him a lot of interesting skills.

**********************
Eren reached over to take Levi’s hand, “You lost yourself.” Levi stared out at the road as the thick trees were washed in pale white and blue. “Sometimes,” he took a deep breath, “I do that. I’m not right, Eren. Mentally…I’ve crossed a point of no return.” The road was bumpy and their waters bottles clicked slightly in the cup holders. Eren closed his eyes, “I have too.” They pulled up to the house first. Levi turned off the car. “Why did you come?” Eren opened his door, “Let’s talk inside.” They went upstairs to their room, Donner sniffing and whining at being left. Levi calmed him down while Eren entered the bathroom.

Eren appeared in the doorway nude, “Help me,” Levi looked at his body, muscles taunt and figure lean, he was perplexed, “With what?” Levi’s brow furrowed. “I’ve forgotten how to clean myself.” Eren winked and smiled at him. Once in the bathroom Eren stripped Levi of his clothes mouthing open kisses to his shoulders and neck. “I thought we were going to talk.” Levi mumbled entering into the shower, “We can talk but first I really want you to fuck me.” Eren’s hot breath ghosted across his jaw before his teeth nibbled on Levi’s ear lobe. His eyes rolled to the back of head at the Eren’s prowess when he pushed him roughly against the tile and grabbed his cock stroking it, “Fuck me, Levi. Fuck me and then we can talk about everything else.” Levi took control pushing off the tile while Eren fell to his knees, “Whatever you want, brat.”

**********************

In the shower, their hands lathered and moving against slick skin, Levi was almost able to forget everything. They rinsed off, Eren stretched and ready to go. They burned with passion, deep and divine and when they touched the silk sheets of their bed they burned hot and cold with flushed skin. Levi didn’t fuck Eren, he made love to him deeply, slowly, carefully, and tried to convey what he’d wanted to ever since he found out he was converting, ever since he found out he knew about Badschi, ever since he’d met him in the lab and his eyes had shimmered like the sea by Tel Aviv, the boy with a beautiful soul who loved his dog more than people and who could eat a village out of house and home. He made love to him sweet and soft and Eren opened up to him beautifully. He sang his name like the birds in the forest on hot summer days and he was just so completely consumed with him. He loved him. He loved Eren Jaeger mind, body, and soul.

After they finished they lay in the covers, blinds closed, TV on low while the fire burned despite it being spring. Levi liked the cold, keeping the air on in the room, and he liked to use the fire place year round, so did Eren. Levi didn’t know why, but he was overcome with the need to tell Eren. He wanted to tell him everything. “Eren, I…” Eren cut him off, “Why did he think the baby was yours?” Eren turned to face him. ”I...” Levi’s words died in his throat, “I think because Hanji and I used to sleep together that he thought, perhaps, we still were? I’m not really sure.” Eren gave him a quizzical look, “You and Hanji?” Levi smiled, “Shut up.” Eren smiled wider, “I didn’t know you…” Levi smirked, “I appreciate the beauty of the human body, Eren. I actually enjoy the genitalia most common among the fairer sex. Why do you think it drives me so insane when you dress like a woman? There is just something about them that is indescribable.”

Eren moved closer, “How long did y’all?” Levi thought about it, “Six months maybe.” Eren gasped, “That’s a long time! Why did y’all stop?” Levi hummed, “It started to become apparent that Mike had feelings for them and I decided to end it because I loved them but they deserved someone like Mike. They deserved someone who could commit to them completely. Mike truly loved them and now look.” Levi smiled brightly, “Engaged and just had the most beautiful little girl in the world.” Eren chuckled, “Till we have one, right?” Levi kissed Eren, “Right.” And like that, he decided to push it off just a bit longer.

*************************

In Erwin’s room things were a little different. Armin soaked in the tub as Erwin listened to the tape play over and over again. “He’s been lying to me for a long time.” Armin sank beneath the water emerging shortly after, “That’s what I think, too.” Erwin turned the tape on, deep and labored breathing, a blood curdling scream, “The Wall will not fall…” more screaming, “He knows who he is that fucking piece of shit. He knows.” Shifting of metal, “Who knows?” A snicker, “Levi, Levi Ackermann….he’s not…he’s really not at all who you think he is.” Maniacal laughter, “What the fuck are you getting at you piece of shit?!” Eren yells as the crunch of bone can be heard, Molbit screams, “You came into our house, your group, and you tried to kill us. Why? Why did you do it?” Molbit laughs, coughing and gurgling, “Because Jemison wanted to take what was precious to Levi and destroy it. He didn’t protect Farlan. He can’t protect anyone….especially Erwin Smith. They’ll come for you, Eren and then Levi will lose everything.” Hysterical laughter and the sound of more bone popping and Eren’s muffled exclamations of hate.

”Why did you come to the house, baby?” Armin opened the drain in the tub, “Revenge.” Erwin looked over to see Armin reaching for the towel, “I wanted revenge for what he did that night. I killed Jeeter and I wanted to kill Molbit. Eren was the same; he just keeps it inside so he doesn’t get too upset. All it took was a nod and he was in the car with me.” Erwin watched as Armin dried off. He moved off the stool towards him grabbing Armin’s robe off the hook and wrapping him in it, “Your dangerous actions only make you more appealing to me.” Armin kissed him softly, “Mmmm,” he ground against Erwin. Erwin dried his hair with the towel, “What happened?”

“We showed up, Eren called Molbit’s number and foolishly he left the ringer on. We found him listening to the sound and running through the woods and hit him on the head. I stripped him of his clothes. I found another one and he approached me thinking I was Molbit. Eren took him out, slashed his throat. I had my axes in the harness and I hid them with the coat while Eren stripped his pockets and we put everything, including Molbit into the car. From there we found the house and I broke in with the other two to listen for you. I needed to know you were okay and I thought you could possibly manage those two on your own.” His impish smile taunted Erwin, “Thank you for having such faith in me baby.” Armin kissed him, “When I knew you were okay that’s when I left. You saw the rest.”

Erwin held Armin in his arms, I’m so lucky to have you, Armin.” He smiled kissing Armin’s temple. “I’m yours forever, daddy. I’ll do my best to protect you and not be helpless. I want to be an equal partner.” Erwin laughed, “Armin I have never once viewed you as weak or helpless. I love taking care of you and you know that but I don’t do it because you need it. I’m the one who needs it. I want to take care of those I love and I love you the most.” Armin smiled trailing his hand down Erwin’s chest. “It’s going to be okay, Erwin.” He whispered, “I’m sure Levi has a reason for hiding whatever he is. Eren is keeping an eye on him and if something changes I know I’ll be able to get it out of Eren. We’re all in this together, okay?” Erwin nodded as Armin straddled his waist to get more comfortable.

Erwin seized Armin up into his arms attacking him and kissing his neck and face all over. “Erwin” Armin giggled. “You’re mine, Armin?” Armin squirmed, “I’m all yours.” Erwin carried Armin into the room on his hip, “What are you doing?” Erwin hummed, “I’ve got something for you, my sweet.” Erwin laid Armin on the bed propped up by pillows as he went to the small safe under the bed. He’d bought far more than the ring at Mr. Goldburg’s shop for Armin. He’d be opening gifts for weeks. He opened the safe pulling out a box. The first important gift, “Open it, baby.” Armin opened the box revealing a Cartier lock bracelet in rose gold with diamonds. “Erwin! This is beautiful!” Armin gasped as Erwin pulled the bracelet out, taking the small screwdriver and unscrewing the bolts and then locking them back in place around Armin’s wrist. The rose gold complimented his skin nicely. “Now, you really are mine. It’ll take this screwdriver or bolt cutters to take that off. Are you sure you want this?” Armin nodded, “Of course. I love you, thank you. But this must have cost a fortune!” Armin kissed Erwin before leaning back and admiring the bracelet, “Does this mean our play will become more intense?” Erwin smirked, “Always sex with you.” He winked removing his shirt and pants.

He climbed into bed crawling over to Armin, “Yes, it does. I’ll also be a lot more openly possessive as well. I’ve done a good job holding back till now. If it’s something you don’t want then-“ Armin moved down look at Erwin in the eye, “I want it. If it ever got to be too much I’d just have to say so.” Erwin smiled nodding, “You wear the pants in this relationship for sure.” Erwin and Armin laid together in bed kissing and whispering sweet promises all while Levi’s secrets turned over in the their mind. Mysteries needed to be solved and they were going to solve them.

**************************

”What do you mean he has to come later?” Levi was driving to Montgomery with Eren just one week before they were supposed to leave. “He’s my research. Are you telling me that I’m expected to arrive for only three short months without anything to work on?” More muffled noise over the phone, “I….yeah, that’s what I thought.” Levi’s face was fully annoyed after he hung up, “Someone couldn’t pinch their shit off in time to book the tickets and they tried to cover their ass by saying you could just come in month. I swear, fucking shit heads.” Eren held Levi’s hand as they entered the city limits and traffic piled up, “I’m really excited but…I’m really sad too.” Levi stewed in annoyance. His eyes hard, mouth a grim line, and a look of utter contempt on his face, “No one can drive here.” Eren rubbed his hand as Donner whined in the back, “Did… you hear me?” Levi tch’ed, “You’re fucking sad. Why?” He grumbled out as they came to a standstill on the overpass. Eren bristled, “Aren’t you?” Levi chewed his lip, “Oh…oh…I get it. Yeah. I’m trying to not think about it. I get really sick when I have to leave Erwin.” Eren’s nose wrinkled, “What?” Levi chuckled, “You’re nose wrinkled up like Armin’s. I get sick, physically, when I have to leave Erwin for more than a few days. My anxiety goes up because I know that if and when I get upset he’ll not be there.”

Eren sat back in his seat, “Huh…what if you had to leave me?” Levi drummed his fingers on the wheel, “I’d probably do the same or….damn Eren, I don’t think I could handle that. We’ve only been apart for….what?” Eren concentrated, “The week I was in the hospital but does that count?” Levi’s face became horrified making Eren laugh, “Oh HaShem…you look like you’re about to have a break down just thinking about it.” Levi turned to him, his face comical and voice a lot more carefree and expressive than normal, “I think I am!” He exclaimed, “Dear God, I don’t think I ever want to find out. It might be worse than when I leave Erwin.” Eren giggled, “Well then, you better put a ring on it.” Levi smiled, If you only knew. His phone rang and since it was Erwin he put it on Bluetooth. There was wreck backing them up and they’d be stuck for a while longer.

Erwin’s voice came over the speakers, “Levi, are you free tomorrow?” Levi tensed up, “Just so you know Eren is in the car and you’re on Bluetooth.” A pause, “Oh…well, uh…” Eren jumped, “What are you doing tomorrow, Erwin?” Levi cursed himself internally, “I’m sorry, Erwin.” Erwin sighed, “Well, this is actually a good thing. Eren, I’m going to your hometown tomorrow and wanted Levi to come with me as emotional support.” Eren chewed his lip, “Armin isn’t going?” Erwin shifted papers, “No, just Levi.” Eren squinted at the wreckage as they approached at a snail’s pace before stopping, “Then why are you going?” Erwin laughed nervously, “I’m asking Armin’s opa for his blessing. I’m going to ask Armin to marry me and if you would be willing to help me out I’d like to bounce some ideas off of you on how to propose.” Eren’s eyes widened so much Levi worried they’d pop out. Eren’s voice was quieter than normal and he sounded absolutely in awe, “I am so excited for this.”

Erwin laughed fully, “You sound so quiet, so unlike you! Do I have your blessing as well?” Eren squealed in delight, “OF COURSE YOU HAVE MY BLESSING! Have you told Jean too?” Erwin snorted, “He actually caught me pulling out the ring a few days ago. I’m really hoping he likes it. Jean said he would so that calmed me down. Have you any ideas on how he’d like to be proposed to?” Eren contemplated, “You know…Armin never thought he’d ever end up with anyone so he never day dreamed or anything about it. I do know he always found black and white Hollywood movies as romantic. He….Memorial day is coming up but…mmmm we won’t be here and I kind of want to be near when you ask him. I know, that’s really selfish but I do and I know he’d want to tell me in person and not over skype…” Eren paused, “I actually just had the perfect idea and it’s so you and Armin I could scream.” Erwin chuckled, “I’m scared to ask. What is it?”

Traffic started moving, “We’re going to be in Paris and you’ll be in Normandy right?” Erwin hummed, “Yes?” Levi smiled as he passed seven cars to get off the shoulder freeing them from the hell of the overpass. Now they would battle the terrain of the city grid but anything was better than that overpass. “June 6th, here’s what I’m thinking….”

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”Eren when is your meeting?” Eren finished stirring the soup, “Um May 1st?” Mr. Hannes nodded his head, “You said that like a question but Levi nodded as well so I’ll take that as being correct.” Levi was cleaning the apartment from top to bottom. Hannes had a photo book out and had been showing Levi photos of his wife and children. Levi never asked about them. He just knew they were gone. He wanted to cry. Rabbi Berkovich stopped in and gave Eren a packet. He spent a few minutes whispering to him and then came to chat with Levi. Berkovich excused himself and Hannes uncovered the photo book he covered when he came in. “You already know, don’t you?” Levi sat down as Eren brought the tea before the soup was finished. Levi tch’ed when he made to leave, “Sit, you haven’t sat the whole time.” Hannes laughed, “Used to tell my wife that all the time.”

Eren kissed Levi, “I’m going to call Jean. I need to take care of some business and I’ve got ten minutes before that soup is down.” Eren moved to the balcony to call Jean, “Horse face, I need to talk to you about- YEAH I KNOW RIGHT?!” The door closed leaving Hannes and Levi alone, “Berkovich, he was going to marry my youngest daughter.” Levi felt the dread bubble up,


“How many kids did you have?”
”Five: three girls and two sons.”
”What happened?”
”House fire. Killed my wife and my girls.”
”Your sons?”
”One died recently but his kids and their kids live in Canada. The other moved to Israel and he and his partner live in Tel Aviv and I get cards and calls. It changed us all. It hurt our relationships because, well, I don’t judge them for feeling like this, but they all wondered…why not me? Why did mom have to die? I get it, I wish it had been me too.”
”You were colder and they were more bonded with their mother?”
”Yes and no. I was a good dad and they love me. They were closer to their mother because she was just a proud Jewish mother and they were her perfect sons named after her father and brother. I’ve always been closer to my girls because I wanted girls.”
Levi became nostalgic, “Nothing like a little girl twirling in a dress with ribbons in her hair to make you feel like things are going to be alright, right?” Levi got more choked up.

”Ha, exactly. All those poor girls that get raped and hurt and treated like property. Makes me sick, all of it. I saw them selling themselves to put food on the table, picking up ruble and rebuilding cities. What fool would ever think women were insignificant? What fool would ever think that a little girl wasn’t more precious than anything in this world? Women are, in my opinion, much stronger than men. They have to be. Because this world is wicked and they’re told to just go find someone and lay down to them because they can’t cut it, they can’t live in a man’s world. I’m a man and I can barely live in a man’s world. How strong must women be to walk out everyday on the streets and know that they could be raped, assaulted, beaten, and whatever else just because they are, because they dared to be. I raised strong girls and feminist sons. I raised good kids to do good by others and their mother was more than just a wife. She was my partner. That’s what marriage is, a partnership. Because marriage doesn’t benefit women, it benefit’s men. Even you and Eren would face discrimination even though you’re both men. Someone is going to ask “who is the wife?” What the fuck do you mean who is the wife? Why does someone have to be down lower than the other for it to work? Fuck that.”

Levi made eyes at Eren leaning over the railing, “I’m going to ask Grisha for his blessing to ask Eren to marry me. But, really….I kind of just want yours. I’ve possibly never agreed with anyone more in my life than you.” Hannes opened his newspaper, “You want to marry that out there?” Levi was caught off guard, “Yes?” Hannes flipped the page, “Yes? Like a question? Do you two never make statements? You wanna marry that boy out there who can cook, clean, has anger issues, is possibly the most sincere person in the world, and is pretty enough to be a girl? I mean,” He paused looking over his reading glasses at Eren, “I guess that’s a good choice.” He shrugged, “Grisha is going to be a problem.” Levi was very confused, “Is that a yes or no, old man?” Levi was growing annoyed, “Did you hear I said he could cook? Yes, that’s a yes. Though, you’re like me, you fell in love with someone that’s too good for you. Never forget that and treat him right. You’d be a real asshole if he’d converted and you’d not married him. I told my son I’d pay for his wedding if he’d marry his partner but they never did.” Levi smirked, “I know he is too good for me. Thank you, Mr. Hannes.”

Eren entered rushing to the stove, “This is ready.” Levi smiled, “You’ve never cooked for me, ever.” Hannes snorted, “You’ve been missing out, Levka.” Eren sat down, “It may not be that good and it’s not kosher.” He frowned, “I don’t expect you to cook kosher, Eren.” Eren shot up, “I’ve been taking lessons! One day I’ll make you something and show you how far my skills have come.” Levi blinked, “Are you serious? You’ve been learning how to cook kosher?” Eren’s face was determined, “Yes, of course I have!” Hannes laughed, “My God, you’re on fire and for nothing.” Levi ate a spoonful of soup and then another and another and before long he was draining the bowl. Eren picked at his watching Levi intently, “Do you want more?” Levi turned to Hannes, “Do I want more? He asks if I want more?” Hannes chuckled, “Of course we want more, little shit. Don’t be such a little shit.” Levi laughed as well, “You cook marvelously, ahuvi.” Eren looked smug as he took their bowls to refill them. “Wait till you eat my latkes and maze balls. They’re divine.” Levi couldn’t wait.

Back at the house Armin was excited to possibly start pampering himself after pulling all nighters in the library for finals week. His last final was that morning and after returning home from class and his shift at the bookstore he’d received a call from Marco. “Hey, could you…come back to campus and…help me spy?” Armin had looked at the big bed made by Erwin that morning all by himself. He’d not seen Erwin except for maybe three hours and that was during their finals they had at the same time. Erwin had been leaving messages around the house for him and sending him depressing texts of the bed at night with his side empty. Armin had tried to make it up by making his lunch and leaving it in the fridge for him, leaving notes too, and sending triple X photos from his private study room in the library.

He drove the campus seeing Marco on the corner standing in a space to save for Armin, “Hurry and follow me.” Marco keyed in a pass code and they went into the media and arts building where Jean’s studio was located. “What are we doing Marco?” Marco hissed, “Spying on some shady ass bitches.” Armin giggled quietly, “My favorite hobby.” When they got to the stairs they climbed them quickly and Armin almost asked why. Jean was on the fourth floor and they could have taken the elevator. “Jean has a review for the art school and it could mean a scholarship good for anywhere there is a great art concentration, admission to the school with extra credit hours, and pretty much a star spot in the art museum in Atlanta and I’ve got this feeling that there is one jealous ass bitch who’d love to destroy that.”

Marco and Armin snuck into an empty studio space where voices could be heard and people seen. Krista and her girlfriend were arguing about her work. "It's just not good enough." Ymir groaned, "You know I can't tell the difference. I think it all looks the same and yours is the best." Krista moved, pulling a tarp back, "Look, really look at his stuff! It's fabulous. I hate him so much but I just want to have a fraction of talent like he does." Ymir sighed, "He's a huge ass-wipe." Krista clicked her tongue against her teeth, "True but he's going to win with this." Ymir stood up, "You better destroy it or step up. I want you to get that scholarship. We could go somewhere on that money, baby girl. We could go to New York." Krista covered the painting. "I just need to top this or negate it. He went punk rock and I'll just do the same." Ymir whistled, "If you do the same thing will it end up like last time?" Krista nodded, "yeah I'll just go first. My dad will pay for the trip so no worries. I just got to keep floating a little longer. If he has an accident before he presented that would look too suspicious. Plus they partner us up randomly and I think he’s mine and that mean’s out of the two of us only one will be accepted. If he wins and gets in first I’ll not be taken." Ymir snorted, “We’ll work something out.” Armin was livid and so was Marco. They crawled back out into the hall and took the stairs again.

"I fucking knew it. That bitch." Armin was red, "Who does she think she is." Marco laughed bitterly, "Anti-Armin. Well generic Armin according to Jean. She’s all cute and wonderful and sweet and everyone loves her and her hello kitty note pads and Chocó cat t-shirts. He can not stand her but he’s never been able to pin-point why. In Midterm review she had work similar to his and it hurt his grade. I’ve had this feeling the entire time that she’s a copy cat artist and I started speaking with his friend Tina and we’re building a case against her. I wanted you to come because well…..Jean is really important to both of us.” Marco chewed his lip.

Armin became aware that this was a potentially dangerous conversation, “I care about Jean because he’s my family, Marco. You’re my family. I’m not in love with Jean.” Marco’s eye widened, “I know! I know it’s just…he listens to you and sometimes I feel like…like you out rank me.” Armin felt horrible, “Marco that’s only because…because we went through something really intense together that he hates to talk about. He’ll tell you one day, on his own time. But, I don’t out rank you. Please don’t hate me.” Marco frowned, “I don’t hate you. I’m just insecure, Armin. It’s my cross to bare.” Armin hugged Marco, “Talk to me more. Don’t hold anything back. Be ugly, Eren is and so is Jean. It’s how it works.” Marco hugged him back with fervor, “We’ve got to make sure that what Jean turns in is better than what they think he’s turning in, if you catch my drift. Don’t tell him why because he’ll lose his temper.”Armin giggled, “Yeah, he’ll make things way worse. I got to go home Marco. I’m so tired.”

Marco nodded, “Wait, have you eaten?” Armin shook his head, “No, I’m actually really hungry.” Marco smiled, “Let’s go get some treif,” He smiled a glorious smile, whispering the word “treif” like it was something dirty and forbidden, “Levi doesn’t have to know.” Armin lost it, laughing hysterically, “But he will! He’ll smell it on us. Can’t you hear his deadpan voice, “Did you filthy brats eat a cheeseburger?” Amrin imitated Levi’s voice and facial expressions to the T and Marco nearly fell into the open planter near them. “My God, it’ll be worth it!” They laughed and walked across the street to Five Guys Burgers and Fries eating their goyish delights and planning what to do with Jean. Marco and Armin really enjoyed hanging out with one another and Armin thought that this was worth missing out on some sleep.

Armin’s phone rang, “Yes?” Erwin’s gruff voice, “Where are you?” Armin drank his coke, “Eating with Marco.” The line was quiet, “Come home, now.” Armin felt like teasing, “What do I get if I come home now?” Marco smirked, guessing from the tone that he must be speaking to Erwin, “Diamonds.” Armin looked to Marco, “I have to go home now.” Marco clicked his tongue behind his teeth, “What do you get if you go?” Armin gave him an innocent look, “My daddy says I’ll get diamonds.” Marco nearly choked on his coke, “Then you better go, go, go!” He made a shooing motion and Armin laughed standing up and walking out to his car, “Are you on your way?” Armin hummed, “Mm hm, will you really give me diamonds?”

Erwin moaned slightly, “Are you touching yourself, Erwin?” Erwin whimpered, “How naughty.” Erwin sounded frustrated, “A week and a half I haven’t touched you or been in the same room as you, baby.” Armin was driving, he’d be home in about seven minutes maybe quicker, “You were in class with me.” He teased, relishing in what that must be doing to him. Erwin moaned again, throatily. “You just kept sending those photos and I’ve been dying to touch you.” Armin turned at the red light, Armin’s voice could have put a sex line operator to shame with the amount of arousal and seduction he laced it with, “Why don’t you do that when I get home? Touch me all over and fuck me.” Erwin sounded like he was going to sob,