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Hey Lover

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Hey Lover.

Green eyes remained locked of the screen before him, one thumbnail having found itself wedged between his teeth while the wheels in his head turned. His other hand was resting on his mouse, cursor hovering between the “confirm” and “cancel” buttons. Hitting confirm meant conceding defeat, but hitting cancel meant another summer of teasing and jokes.

He really didn’t want to have to endure another year of that. Even though hitting confirm was just as damning, just in a different way.

Still... which was worse? Knowing in his own mind that it wasn’t real, or not even trying to spare himself just a few months of reprieve?

A knock at his door made Eren Jaeger almost leap out of his seat, trance broken and eyes shifting to the side to glance at his closed door.

“Jaeger, it’s almost past move-out time, are you leaving or what?” His RA said through the door.

Eren’s eyes shot to the time at the corner of his computer screen. His cab was probably downstairs by now, he hadn’t thought to check his phone.

It was now or never. He had to go, so he had to choose now. Confirm or cancel? Confirm or cancel?

Quickly digging into his pocket, he pulled out some change and grabbed a quarter, staring at it.

“Heads, I do it. Tails, I don’t.”

He stared at the coin, as if willing it to land one way over another while still not even knowing himself what it was he wanted.

Taking a deep breath, he flipped the coin, caught it, and slapped it against the back of his opposite hand. Clenching his eyes shut while removing his hand, he peeked open one eye for the answer, then reached out and hit a button on his screen.

Then he slapped his laptop shut.

Too late to change his mind now. He’d made a choice, and he had to stick to it. Even if he now felt it was the wrong one. God, what had he been thinking?! This was ridiculous!

“Too late now,” he muttered, quickly unplugging his laptop and stowing it in its case. “Too late now. Too late now. Too late.”

Was it though? Maybe he could still change his mind. But then again, he’d said he’d stick to whatever choice he got, so changing his mind went against that. But still! This was kind of ridiculous. Was he really willing to suffer through this all summer?

Just thinking about his sister and best friends’ faces was making his stomach turn over and he resisted a groan, packing away what little he had left out and quickly leaving his room with his carry-on, laptop and suitcase.

Most of the other people on his floor had already left, so he didn’t have anyone to say bye to while heading for the elevators. By the time he reached the ground floor, one of his RAs wished him a safe flight and a nice summer, and he thanked her while handing back his keycard.

Thankfully, his cab hadn’t gone anywhere, so getting his luggage squared away, he got in the back and spent the entire drive to the airport going over the pros and cons of his decision. He really wasn’t sure he’d made the right choice.

Jumping, startled, and hoping to God this wasn’t the beginning of his problems, he pulled his phone from his pocket when it trilled and swiped his finger across his screen. Scowling down at the message from one of his best friends—God knew why they were even friends!—he jabbed angrily at his Iphone screen to reply back and hit the send button.

[HorseFace]
I cannot fucking WAIT to see how smokin’ hot your sister looks after an entire semester away from her!

[JaegerMeister]
Probably no different than she did at Christmas, horse ass. Stop hitting on my sister.

[HorseFace]
Don’t be jealous because you can’t bang her, Kamikaze-Head.

[JaegerMeister] 
At least my face doesn’t look like my ass!

Jerking in his seat when the cab came to a rather abrupt halt, Eren looked up and found they’d arrived at the airport. Pocketing his phone, he paid the driver, grabbed all his belongings, and headed inside.

Once through the doors, he looked left and right in an attempt to figure out which counter he was meant to go to, then finally spotted his airline a good walk away from where he was on the left. Heading towards it, he continued his battle with his moronic friend while standing in line, waiting for one of the ticket machines to open up.

Once he had his boarding pass and his luggage tag, he popped his suitcase onto the conveyer and headed for security, checking the boarding time and his gate on the boarding pass he now held. He still had at least two hours before boarding, but that didn’t bother him. His parents had bought him Business Class, as usual, so he had access to the Business Class Lounge. That meant more time to browse the internet and brood about the choice he’d just made.

Refusing to bow his head in defeat, he trudged along through the throngs of people milling about, resisting the urge to snap at some of them to get out of his way if they didn’t know where they were going, and finally got through security. He asked one of the people working there where the lounge was and within minutes, he was comfortably seated in one of the cushy armchairs overlooking the runway with a can of Coke and a plate of mini sandwiches. He had to have a whole plate, because one mini sandwich was the size of his pinky and he was definitely going to starve to death with just one.

He watched a few planes land and take-off while sipping his can of Coke and shoving the sandwiches in his mouth, ignoring the disgusted look from the obviously very wealthy couple beside him. When he felt like he’d stalled long enough, he let out a sigh, drained his Coke, and pulled his laptop from his bag.

Opening it, he connected it to the lounge’s wifi using the password he’d received when he’d checked in at the desk and the last page he’d been on before leaving his room flashed back at him from Google Chrome.

Invisible SO.

Invisible Significant Other. It was a website he had found completely by accident while looking for a book at the library. Someone had left their account logged in on one of the accessible computers and, curious, he’d snooped a bit to figure out what he was looking at.

It hadn’t taken him long to hunt down the FAQs and look into the service, if only to spare him a few months of incessant nagging and teasing.

His family and friends were adamant that if he didn’t stop being so violent and angry, he was never going to get a girlfriend. While he knew his mother was likely to have grankids given his adopted sister’s fondness of them, he also knew his parents wanted him to grace them with at least one grandchild. Something he was never going to pull off without a girlfriend. Which he’d never had in his life.

Ever.

So every end of semester, when he went home, he got hounded by his family about when he was going to get a girlfriend. His best friends were no different, especially considering his horse-face of an idiot friend had already had four girlfriends this last semester alone. While his other friend was less promiscuous, even he had managed to get one. She was scary as hell and had him wrapped around her finger, but he still had her.

And then there was him. Girlfriend-less. It drove him crazy how they spent all summer—and winter break—harassing him about being single. Once, just once he wanted to spend some time back home without having to listen to the nagging and teasing. He just wanted a break!

That was where this magical site he’d happened upon came in.

Reading the FAQs that fateful day he’d been researching for his thesis, he realized this site was a Godsend. It was a service created specifically for situations such as his. A person signed up for it, chose a package, and paid the applicable cost for an entire month of proof of a girlfriend—or boyfriend, depending on what you were looking for. The packages were as small as receiving a certain number of text messages throughout the month to actual web-cam chats twice a week. It allowed presents and emails and phone calls and all kinds of personal little touches that would give any person—like Eren—the opportunity to shove his phone in his family’s face and go, “See? See? I have a girlfriend now! Leave me alone!”

Obviously, there were conditions, as outlined in their FAQs. No inappropriate requests, no meeting in person outside of the arrangements within the chosen package, no falling in love with the fake persona on the other end, no sexual intercourse or any sexting/phone sex of any kind, etc, etc. All items he felt were reasonably obvious.

He’d wanted to sign up for it the second he’d found the site, however... it was like admitting defeat. He’d felt like signing up for the service, no matter how small, would be like admitting to his family and friends that he really couldn’t get a girlfriend. Not that he’d been trying or anything! He was perfectly happy being single, thank you very much!

But still... three months of freedom... He wanted that. He wanted to spend time with them without having to worry about the subject coming up over and over again.

So he’d put it off. Again, and again. But now, the day of reckoning was upon him, and that was how he’d found himself sitting in his empty dorm room biting on his thumbnail with a package choice on the screen and his paypal all set to deliver payment.

A flip of a coin later, and he was now a proud owner of their $50 package for the month, available for renewal in exactly 31 days. He was to get a reminder the day before the renewal date so he could choose to pay for another 31 days or let the service lapse.

Really, for $50, he was getting a good deal. His package included: 100 text messages, 25 emails, 5 miscellaneous presents, 20 photos and at least one hour of gaming time on any platform of the subscriber’s choosing.

Given the persistence of his family, he felt this was the safest package.

He hadn’t really given the details much thought once he’d confirmed payment, but now he was glad that he was checking the site again because after his payment had gone through, his account had opened up to a profile request page where he was supposed to outline things about his supposed “girlfriend.” Oh, and provide his preferred phone number and email address which, realistically, would help.

Scrolling slightly to see how long the form was, he let out a slow breath and checked the time. He was going to have to type as quickly as possible to ensure everything was complete before he boarded. It would be pretty obvious this was fake if he got off the plane to nothing from his “girlfriend.”

“Good thing I have to change SIM cards,” he muttered to himself, realizing a lack of messages before his departure would definitely clue in his genius of a best friend. The other was a total horse’s ass, so he wasn’t concerned about him so much. His sister and genius friend were the problem.

“Okay, let’s do this.” He clapped his hands together, stretched, and then got to work on the profile.

Please introduce yourself, and supply a photo or describe yourself in detail:
My name is Eren Jaeger, I am twenty-one years old and studying for a double major in Kinesthetics and Archaeology. I have shaggy brown hair, high cheekbones, dark skin, green eyes and am 5'7" (or 170cm). Picture attached for additional reference.

What is the reason behind signing up for our service? (Please note: Honesty will allow us to determine how best to serve you.):
I guess this is where I say my parents and sister and friends won’t leave me alone. I’m single, been single my whole life, and perfectly happy about it. But they get on my case about it and insist it’s my temper and attitude and I’m really just looking for a summer of peace. So I’m not one of those people who’s going to pretend this is real for my own sake, I’m gonna do it so that my parents leave me alone.

What would you like your girlfriend’s name to be?:
Hannah Richardson

What is her date of birth:
I don’t know... October 7th? Let’s make her a year younger than me, so born in 1995 I guess.

How did you meet?:
I got into a fight in the cafeteria (that happens to me a lot– I was winning, by the way) and maybe I punched a guy and he slammed into her and made her drop her tray? I felt bad so I offered to buy a replacement meal for her.

Where did you have your first date?:
Uh, does the above count as a date? If not, then I guess... Maybe we went to a movie? Let’s say we saw Kingsman: The Secret Service.

How long have you been dating?:
Since Kingsman. I asked her to the movie and then we became official or something...? When did that come out? February 2015, so yeah, since sometime in February. I suck at dates so the date isn’t important.

How serious is she with this relationship?:
Reasonably? This is a weird question, how am I supposed to answer this?

When and where did you share your first kiss?:
Uh, wow, this is super detailed. Uh, I think it’d take me a while to be confident about it, to be honest. So maybe not until our third or fourth date? Maybe she came back to my dorm room and we were watching something on my computer and got distracted then?

Who made the first move for the kiss?:
Honestly, thinking on it, it’d be her. I can be a little dense and, again, not super confident so she’d probably have to hint a lot and eventually be super blunt about it. Maybe even just she kissed my cheek or the corner of my mouth and I’d have gotten the hint at that point.

Are there any habits you would like her to have?:
Not really? Habits are more for people who are going to see them in person, right? Not so much for the online stuff.

Do you have any preferences for how she talks about you to others?:
Not really as long as she doesn’t say I’m a crap boyfriend. That felt weird to type, do other people find this profile weird to fill out, or is it just me?

What would you like your girlfriend to call you?:
Hm... Lover? I think that’d be nice to see.

Do you have a pet name or nick-name you would like her to respond to?:
Honestly, not really. I’m sure I’ll call her babe every now and then but I don’t really do pet-names.

What does she love about you?:
Like... physically? Or personality-wise. This question isn’t clear! I guess physically, maybe my eyes? And personality... I have a temper, so maybe she kind of likes my protectiveness? That’d balance out, I think.

What does she hate about you? (Please note, no relationship is perfect and it is strongly recommended this section be completed):
My temper. I think it’s fair for her to like and hate the same thing. I have a really short temper and I tend to start fights a lot. I’m also not exactly the most reliable person on the planet, and kind of a slob sometimes (not DIRTY or anything but messy). I’m a bit of a mama’s boy and I complain a lot about wanting to travel but I can’t hold down a job to get enough money to go out and do that. My parents are wealthy and all, but I try not to mooch off them too much, though it does tend to make me a little spoiled sometimes. Wow, reading all that kind of explains why I can’t get a girlfriend...

What kind of personality would you like her to have?:
I don’t want her to be too goody-goody. She should have a bit of bite to her, I guess? Maybe snappy comebacks every now and then?

What kind of humour would you like her to have?:
I think it’d be kinda fun if she can be kind of cheeky/sassy. You know, a little crass, and borderline inappropriate. I mean, I know your FAQs say nothing inappropriate in terms of what comes from my end, but I’m hoping from her end being suggestive is okay? If not, then just sassy.

How does she feel about swearing?:
She should definitely swear every now and then. Nothing over the top and no swearing for no good reason, but dropping an F-bomb every now and then would be realistic.

What kind of religious affiliations does she have?:
I don’t have an opinion on this, and it’s not something I’d bring up so not applicable in this case.

Does she have any previous boyfriends? If so, please elaborate:
Sure, let’s say maybe three? One can have ended badly, but we don’t talk about the relationships in details. Not really any of my business.

If she were to surprise you, what would she do to achieve this?:
Uh, I feel like this would be a dead giveaway if I was completely honest, but everyone knows I like food. A lot. So I guess if she cooked me dinner? Though we live in the dorms so not really much of a chance for that.

What have you done in the past to spoil her?:
Oh wow... What do guys usually do? Flowers, I guess? And chocolates. Uh... Maybe I pick her up from class every now and then without warning?

What do you want her to know about you?:
Wow, I could write a novel. I really like apples, I have an adopted sister who might as well be my REAL sister because we’re so close. I wanted to join the army when I was in high school but my mom straightened me out pretty quick. My dad’s a doctor, and my mom’s a housewife. My sister is studying to be a vet at some school in Canada (not sure where, she knows I don’t know so my girlfriend shouldn’t). I have two best friends, Armin Arlert and Jean Kirschstein. Armin is a tested genius and we’ve been friends since we were little. Jean is a Horse-Faced asshole (is it okay to swear in the profile? I hope it is...) I’ve known since middle school. The two of them, along with my sister Mikasa, and I always tend to hang out together. We get along really well as a group. I love playing paintball, and any kind of XBox first person shooter games (pretty attached to Halo, tbh). Uh... I think that’s about it...?

Are there any immediate details we should know?:
I’m about to get on a plane so it’d be kind of nice if I got off the plane to a text asking if I’ve landed safely or something? I have to change SIM cards, too, so that’ll work out well in terms of my family asking to see pictures. I’ll be using a different SIM.

Can you describe what kind of sleeper you are?:
Uh... A normal one? Unless you mean like, position-wise? I guess I mostly tend to sleep on my back. I know I move around a lot in my sleep and I hog the blankets (or so I’ve been told) when I’m sleeping with other people.

Are you a blanket-hog?:
Like I said above, I’ve been told I am.

Do you snore/drool?:
Never been told I drool, but as much as I deny it, I’m pretty sure I do snore.

How fit would you consider yourself to be? (Please note: It is important you are honest as it will be less convincing if your significant other cannot accurately describe you):
Uh, I’m fit. Like, I take care of myself and do sports and stuff. I honestly alternate between having defined abs and not, mostly because I can overeat sometimes. I’d say right now I’m decently fit but my abs aren’t as defined as they usually are. Maybe Hannah can tease me and say I’m a little pudgy? I’m not, but teasing is what couples do, right?

Would you consider yourself to be well-built?:
Yeah, mostly. I take care of myself but, like I said above, I do overeat occasionally.

Package B onwards - Please choose from the following available pictures:

Clicking on the indicated link, Eren cocked an eyebrow, kind of surprised there were pictures available. He saw both the words “men” and “women,” but the “men” was greyed out, probably because he’d indicated his preferences as female.

Opening the page, he was surprised at the large amount of photos available. Some of them had large red X’s across them and couldn’t be chosen, so he figured those had already been requested by other parties. That was fine, there were plenty to choose from.

He knew he had to be careful, because a girl way out of his league was liable to rouse suspicion. That being said, he still wanted one that was relatively cute, so he scrolled through the pictures a few times—keeping an eye on the clock—and narrowed it down to three girls.

He decided one of them was way too pretty, so it went down to two until he decided one of the girls was more appealing than the other. She was cute enough, with short reddish-brown hair, amber eyes and a dimple in her left cheek when she smiled. Her stats indicated she was 5'2", so shorter than Eren, which he liked. Obviously, her name was absent, but the initials P.R. were listed beneath her picture, along with a series of numbers.

Deciding she was cute enough and plausible enough to be his girlfriend, he clicked on her picture, and hit “confirm” when a prompt appeared asking if he was sure.

An hourglass appeared on the screen once he’d confirmed she was his girlfriend, and then the pictures disappeared, leaving behind only P.R.’s picture and allowing the rest of the questions to appear. Checking the time, he was glad he only had a few left, he should be packing up to go soon.

Package C onwards - What kind of gifts would you like to receive? (Please note: additional charges apply for gift items):
I didn’t really think about it and I need to catch a flight so I’m hoping I can email later or update my profile or something. I like gaming though, so I guess any kind of XBox game or Live points or something?

Package D onwards - Do you want her to have a Facebook page?:
I bought package C so this doesn’t apply to me.

Package D onwards - How should she plan for your upcoming date?:
Ditto

Package E onwards - How many social events is she to attend and what are they?:
Ditto

Package E onwards - Do you have any details she should know to get along with your mother/father?:
Ditto

Eren couldn’t help but feel a little pathetic reading the last few questions. What if he got desperate enough that one day, he actually bought a package that allowed him to bring this P.R. girl home to meet his family? And for that matter, when was enough enough? What if some people went batshit crazy and started actually believing these girls were literally their girlfriends and became deranged or crazy?

And on top of that, how did it work in terms of travel? What if these girls were on the other side of the world?

He felt they obviously had some kind of plan in place, like matching cities or something. After all, his profile setup required his location, so maybe if the option to have a girlfriend drop by every now and then or join someone for social events was chosen, the pictures available would diminish to that geographical location?

Glancing up when he heard the boarding call for his flight, he quickly looked over the page to ensure he hadn’t missed anything, and then input his cell number—the new SIM card number, anyway—and email address before submitting his answers.

He waited until he received confirmation that his details had been received and then shut down his computer, packing it up and putting it away.

For some reason, he felt a little nervous. A part of him couldn’t help but believe this was all a joke. What if he got off the plane and there was no text? Well, he’d only be out fifty bucks, not a huge deal, but he also felt like if this was all a scam, he’d be really disappointed.

Fake or not, a girlfriend would be pretty sweet to have for the summer.


“Are you sure you don’t want to come by, Jared? I made your favourite, and Beth can’t wait to meet you.”

Fingers tapped in rapid succession, the sound too quiet to be picked up by the microphone embedded in the bluetooth currently attached to the gamer’s ear. He succeeded in his head-shot and quickly reloaded while hurrying behind a broken wall, bullets exploding around his character on the screen.

“Thanks babe, but you know I have to work late tonight. Raincheck?”

A scowl slowly marred an otherwise perfect face, someone having snuck up on him with a grenade launcher. He waited for his character to re-spawn and quickly headed in the direction of a more useful weapon.

“Fine," a disappointed sigh. This girl was a good actress, considering her package didn’t include face-to-face interactions. Yet, anyway. “But you owe me.”

“You bet. Save me some of that delicious—” His eyes shot to the computer screen to his left, and he continued with barely a pause, “—spaghetti bolognaise, okay? Don’t torture me with missing out on both your company and a delicious meal.”

He could hear giggling in the background, and someone—this “Beth,” he supposed—whispering that he was such a charmer.

“You bet. Don’t work too hard. Love you, Jay!”

“Love you too, babe. I’ll text you later.”

“Bye!”

The line clicked, but he didn’t even react, shifting his body a bit to the left, as if it would help the character on the screen avoid getting shot. It didn’t work and he couldn’t help but let out a slow, annoyed exhale. He wasn’t doing well today, Halo just wasn’t holding his interest.

“I didn’t know being this guy’s boyfriend meant letting him kick your ass,” a voice said from behind him through a mouthful of food.

“I wasn’t aware you were incapable of chewing with your mouth closed,” was his immediate retort.

“Aw, is someone grumpy because he’s getting his ass handed to him?”

Not dignifying that with a response, he continued on his hunt for a suitable weapon when his phone trilled. Figuring he was dying a lot anyway, he set his controller down on his knee and snatched his phone up to check it, seeing it was a message from the client he was currently playing Halo with. Before even opening the message, he saw his party member quit the party and sign out of his account.

[Client 1127 - Stephen]
Gtg bb, work time. I’ll miss you.

Face completely expressionless, the gamer quickly typed out a response before dropping his phone to continue playing, his re-spawning suggesting he’d been killed. Again. He was off his game today. Made him wonder if he should give up on playing today. Client or not, he liked Halo, but not if he kept losing.

[User]
Bitch :( I was about to pwn your ass. I’ll pay you back later. Have fun at work! :)

He heard more than saw his roommate pick up his phone, not caring about the client’s privacy. Given they also worked with him, there wasn’t really much of a concern here. Only difference was the fact that the gamer was the only one in the house who ever got assigned any of the call-out clients. For now, anyway, that could always change.

“I still can’t believe you can text things like this, considering how much of a cold bastard you are,” was his roommate’s ever-so-kind comment.

“I still can’t believe you won’t tell me if you have a dick.” Dark eyes shifted from the screen to his amused roommate. “I’m trying to concentrate.”

Hanji Zoe just offered him a grin, the completely mind-fucking androgynous douche leaning back leisurely on the couch after having tossed the gamer’s phone back onto the coffee table.

They had been living together for almost four years after the other had applied to be his roommate off an ad on Craigslist. And since that first day he’d met them all the way up to this very day, he still had no damn clue whether Hanji was male or female.

Overall, he didn’t care. If they were male who identified as female, or vice versa, or they identified according to their biological gender, he could care less. As long as rent was paid on time, they didn’t impose on his alone time too much and kept the place spotless when it was their turn to clean, he had no complaints. Male, female, lizard-man, whatever. Made no difference to him.

“I envy your ability to kill two birds with one stone.” Hanji let out a loud groan while stretching, pulling their glasses off and draping one arm over their eyes. “On the phone with one client and gaming with another. That’s the easy life.”

“I hate the phonecall package,” he groused, deciding it was time to quit Halo when he got blown up yet again. “Why is it every time someone chooses that package, he assigns them to me?”

“Must be your winning personality,” Hanji teased with a grin.

Not rising to that bait, he was in the process of logging off so he could play some Magic: The Gathering on his console when his Skype went off. Hanji leaned forward to glance at his screen, and grinned.

“Speak of the devil. His ears must be burning.”

Turning to tap on his spacebar, the call connected, the image taking a few seconds to clear, but it eventually graced his screen with blond hair, bushy eyebrows and a stern expression.

“Erwin,” he said easily, putting his controller down and leaning back against the arm-rest, since he’d been sitting sideways on the couch.

“Hello Levi. Hanji.”

“Greetings, Bossman!”

Erwin Smith ignored Hanji’s boisterous greeting, which wasn’t uncommon, especially since he was calling him and not Hanji.

“What do you need?” he inquired politely, eyes drifting to the screen where the exit window displayed the opening for Halo. It was muted, so it wasn’t interrupting their conversation, but the moving images were distracting.

“I need a favour from you, Levi. And you aren’t going to like it.”

Levi Ackerman’s eyes shifted downward slowly, surveying the other man’s expression. This could only mean one thing: a new client that he wasn’t going to be happy about.

Erwin was lucky Levi respected him so much or he’d have shut Skype off years ago.

“What now?” His voice remained completely level, not betraying an ounce of annoyance. Erwin was his boss, so despite occasionally being irritated with his choices, he still accorded him the proper respect.

“Petra just got another client request, but she’s swamped as it is and, to be frank, I don’t believe she could pull off the personality being requested. You, on the other hand, will have no problem given it sounds similar to how you are on a daily basis.”

“An OCD clean-freak with a stick up his ass?” Hanji asked incredulously. “So these fetish-lovers do exist!”

Both men ignored them.

“I don’t see why someone asking for my personality would make me unhappy to have them as a client,” Levi commented, picking up his phone when it went off again. It was Stephen again.

“You haven’t seen their profile yet.”

[Client 1127 - Stephen]
Haha, like that’s even POSSIBLE!

Normally, Levi wouldn’t even bother replying, but as this guy’s fake boyfriend, he had no choice in the matter. Besides, Stephen’s package had just renewed, so he was entitled to his 100 text messages.

[User]
Just think about the fun we can have once you get home.

[Client 1127 - Stephen]
Heh, true that. I’m gonna fuck you so hard you won’t be able to walk.

Levi didn’t understand how these people got up in the morning. He wasn’t real, he was just someone on the other end of a phone, texting words with no meaning. And yet this guy was pretending Levi lived with him and that they fucked on a regular basis.

Pathetic. And disturbing. He still didn’t know how Erwin didn’t consider this an infringement of the Terms and Conditions.

[User]
Better get to work then, or else you won’t be coming home, and that’d be a huge shame for me.

“Levi.”

Eyes returning to the computer screen, Levi set his phone down and leaned forward to click on the link supplied in the chat portion of their window. It redirected him to his personal log-in and he entered it with one hand. Once he was logged in, it automatically opened on the profile he’d just been sent, and immediately his eyes went to the requested name.

If this had automatically gone to Petra, the client had obviously requested a picture package, otherwise it would have gone in the general pool and Erwin would have re-allocated this one accordingly given how busy she was. But even this was new, because despite her schedule, Erwin had never once asked him to be a girl before.

Considering his general asexualness, he didn’t much care whether or not he was assigned to a male or female, but having to pretend to be a girlfriend? Really? That was a new low, even for Erwin.

“He wants a girlfriend,” he stated simply.

“I am well aware of that,” was his boss’ response.

“I’m not a girl.”

“I am well aware of that, too,” Erwin said, though his answer and the slight curl of his lip suggested he was amused. “His package included pictures, so Petra will still be able to supply those, however given how busy she is as well as the personality type requested, I thought you could alleviate some of the pressure she’s feeling and pick this one up.”

“I’m not a girl, Erwin,” he reminded him, as if that weren’t perfectly obvious.

“Just do it, Levi. It’ll be a new challenge for you.” Someone spoke off-screen, interrupting their conversation, and Erwin turned to look at them before facing the screen once more. “And Petra says she’ll come and cook you dinner twice a week for the next month if you take this one.”

While tempting to decline, if only so he could see what else he could get out of them, he decided to just let it slide this one time. Petra had often taken some girls off his hands when they wanted the sweet, sensitive boyfriend even he couldn’t fake. Pretending to be a girl, so long as he got to remain relatively like himself, would be easier than the personas he had to create for the other clients he had.

Hanji stood up while he debated, his roommate wandering off towards the kitchen, probably to see if they had any more snacks they could decimate.

“I’ll read it over and let you know.”

“Thanks Levi!” He heard a voice call from off-screen.

He said nothing in response and ended the call, switching to the profile before him and shifting to pull his laptop onto his lap, bringing his legs up to sit cross-legged.

This guy had a weird name, but considering who he lived with, perhaps Levi shouldn’t be so quick to judge. At least he could tell what stupid gender his client was. Hanji wouldn’t even tell him what they wanted to be identified as.

Starting from the top, he read the brief description before opening the attachment. Well, at least the kid was attractive, mostly. Stupid-looking goofy grin, but he had nice eyes.

“Nice.”

Levi felt a weight fall onto his shoulders and then Hanji’s face was right beside his, his roommate having draped themself all over him while surveying the picture on his screen.

“He’s not bad. I’d do him.”

“And go to jail, he looks like he’s twelve.”

“We have an age requirement, remember?” Hanji pulled away from him, stretching with a grunt. “I’m going out, do you want me to pick anything up?”

Reaching behind himself, Levi picked up a bottle of beer by the neck and waved it slightly, eyes still on his screen. With assurances they would return with alcohol, Hanji grabbed their keys off the kitchen table, descended the stairs to the front door and disappeared with a slam. Levi hardly paid the other’s departure any mind, reading the other’s personal description, despite the fact that he had a picture available.

Looking over the details of why he’d signed up, at least Levi wouldn’t have to be disgustingly sweet with him. This guy wanted a fake girlfriend just to get people off his back, not because he wanted to have someone to fap to at night. This was one of the only clients he had like that. A nice reprieve, in his opinion.

“Hannah?” He snorted, taking a sip of his mostly empty bottle of beer before reaching back to set it down on the table behind him once more. “Couldn’t come up with anything more original?”

He already knew the kid was twenty-one, so having his girlfriend be a year younger meant she was to be twenty. Shit, could Levi even pull off a twenty-year old? He barely remembered what being twenty felt like, he hadn’t been in that range of double-digits for almost eight years.

Yes, Levi was thirty-eight. A veritable old man.

Cantankerous and OCD old man, according to Hanji.

At least the aspects of their relationship seemed to be relatively interesting. None of the usual “I swept her off her feet and she fell for me instantly” bullshit. And the kid was honest, which was a nice change. Though some of his answers were stupid and unhelpful.

“She’s reasonably serious?” Levi said aloud, wanting to reach through the screen and bitch-slap the moron who’d written this shit. “That isn’t helpful at all.”

Scanning the next few answers, he lost all respect for this moron when he saw what he was supposed to call him. Lover? Really? Did girls even do that? Erwin had probably taken one look at that word, laughed himself stupid, and forwarded it to Levi just to piss him off.

In his boss’ defence, Petra Ral wasn’t exactly the poster child for this kind of thing. Really, most days, Levi didn’t know how she managed to stick around. She could only do the sweet, sensitive boyfriend type—and that was only when they didn’t want calls or real dates—and the sweet, emotional girlfriend type. Anything even slightly inappropriate and Erwin cut her out.

Maybe he was worried she’d get corrupted, though to be honest, she spent a lot of time Skyping with Hanji and that was far more dangerous, in Levi’s opinion.

And then ironically, he wanted his “girlfriend” to like his eyes, which was just about the only thing Levi had found remotely striking about the idiot in the photo.

It was the next question that really caught his interest. The “what does s/he hate about you?” question was always the one people tip-toed around. Sure, one or two things would be addressed, but most people liked to believe they were perfect, which was untrue. This Eren kid, on the other hand, just had a field day outlining all of his faults.

“Maybe you won’t be such a pain in my ass after all.” If nothing else, he was interesting.

Then he got to what Erwin was talking about. The personality. The humour. The swearing.

“Cheeky and sassy? You want sass? I shit sass.” Okay, so he was liking this a little more than he had been a few minutes ago, not that he’d admit that to anyone. But someone who was giving him this much freedom was someone worth actually testing the waters with.[1]

Scanning the rest of the application, his eyes lingered on the “immediate details” section before checking the time of submission and the current time. While they were in different timezones, he doubted the client’s flight would have landed within an hour of having submitted his application, and even if it had, he’d still have to wait for the plane to taxi, and then get his luggage, make his way to wherever he was going... Really, he had time, though it would be best to respond to his request sooner rather than later.

Reaching the bottom, he leaned back against the arm-rest and reached back for his beer again, draining what little liquid remained in the bottle before setting it back down, turning everything over in his head.

Erwin would never force any of his employees to work with a client they didn’t want to, so Levi knew he could refuse and Erwin would understand. Especially given he had to be a girl, which was not something he felt he could pull off. He was very obviously not a girl.

But, he owed Petra. A lot. And he wanted to help her out, he knew she was swamped. On top of this job—which was a 24-hour job, really—she was also going to school for journalism while simultaneously interning at a paper. And she’d taken on so many of his clients when he felt he couldn’t pull off their requested personalities.

This kid didn’t seem all that bad. He was honest, and he wanted someone Levi would be able to pull off relatively easily. All things considered, this seemed like a pretty good deal.

And as a bonus, he even liked Halo. Seemed like an easy decision, really.

Opening his chat with Erwin up, he only typed three words before sending the message off.

[Levi Ackerman] 15:33:28: I’ll take him.

Grabbing his phone off the coffee table, he set his laptop down and went into the client’s private profile to pull up both his email and his phone number. Putting it into his phone accordingly, he figured he should work on writing an email once he’d texted the other’s arrival message.

He sat staring at his phone for a full minute, trying to shift gears and get the persona he wanted right. Similar to himself in his natural element, but still just a tad different. The kid had said sassy, not crass.

But he’d also said inappropriate.

Typing out his first greeting to this new client, he stared at the two messages he’d sent and wondered if maybe he’d gone a little overboard with that last one. Then he figured it sounded like this Jean character needed a kick in the groin to bring him down a few pegs, so he sent it anyway.

Tossing his phone down, he eyed his console, then decided he could get through at least one round of Magic: The Gathering before working on that email.

Wasn’t like he was in a hurry, kid still had thirty days to go. He could wait for his first email.

TBC...

--

[1] Credit must be given where credit is due: This is an actual sentence that came out of TaneKore’s mouth at work. I showed her the profile Eren wrote and the first words out of her mouth when she got to the personality were “Pfft, he wants sass? I shit sass.” To which I believe I replied with, “Okay Levi…” And then I worked it into the fic because it was oh so very Levi. 

Chapter Text

Eren had never been an extremely patient person, and that was holding true right now while standing behind a poor old lady who was making her way slowly down the aisle of the plane towards the exit. He tried not to be annoyed about it, but they specifically mentioned that people who needed additional time getting off the plane should wait until everyone else had disembarked to ensure there was no hold-up.

This was a hold-up, and it was annoying him because he wanted off this plane!

Shuffling along slowly behind the lady, he let out a sigh of relief when they finally hit the door and he was able to pass her by and hurry towards the other end of the walk-way. He exited into the heart of the airport, looking around for signs that led towards the baggage claim. Travelling within the same country meant he got to bypass Customs, which was nice, because those line-ups were the devil.

Finally locating the signs he needed to find his way to his bag and, subsequently, home, he followed the crowd of people heading in the same direction as him until they descended an escalator and he found himself by the carousels. He checked the screen to see which one was his, and then headed towards it, eyes scanning the crowds milling about for his parents.

He’d reached the carousel by the time anyone familiar was spotted, and even then, he only spotted him because he practically bowled him over when he launched himself at him.

“Kamikaze!”

Jean Kirschtein practically tackled him, hugging him around the middle before lifting him into the air and swinging him almost violently from side to side. Eren was used to these greetings by now. As much as they fought, Jean never half-assed anything. “Go big, or go home,” had always been his motto.

“Put me down, HorseFace!” He punched at Jean’s shoulder a few times until the other promptly dropped him, Eren almost losing his footing but managing to catch himself before he fell over. “What are you doing here?”

“Your mom’s car wouldn’t start so Mikasa texted me to come and pick you up. Armin’s not back yet, otherwise I’m sure she’d have sent him.” Jean grinned, patting Eren hard on the shoulder. “Don’t you check your phone anymore? She said she texted you to let you know.”

At the mention of his phone, Eren suddenly felt sick. He hadn’t turned his phone on since his arrival, but he had his home SIM card in it now, which meant if his service with the site he’d signed up on was in action, he should have a text message from his “girlfriend.”

“Hello!” Jean feigned knocking on Eren’s forehead. “What’s up with you?”

“Nothing,” Eren snapped, quickly pulling one strap off his shoulder so he could shift his bag in front of him. He dug through it for his Iphone, and once he’d pulled it out, he stared at it like it was going to inform him whether or not he was scheduled to die that day.

“Isn’t that your bag?”

Looking up, he shook his head before glancing back down at his phone. This was it. Moment of truth.

Taking a deep breath, he turned on his phone, and waited, the Apple logo flashing back at him. It went to his homescreen, making him snort a bit when he realized it was a picture of him and Jean pretending to be hipsters. He’d forgotten about that.

His phone chimed, alerting him to the fact that he had some text messages. When he opened them, he found one from his sister, one from Jean, and a third from an unknown number. He couldn’t see the whole message from the main screen, but he saw the beginning, and it started with, “Hey Lover.”

This was his girlfriend. This was actually happening.

“What, you forget how to read or something? What’s so interesting?” Jean was suddenly at his shoulder, looking over it to see his phone. “What the—”

Eren let out an annoyed shout when Jean ripped the phone from his hand and presumably opened the message from the unknown number.

“Hey Lover, let me know when you land. And tell your...” Jean’s eyebrows turned down into a frown, lips moving along to the words before he looked up at Eren and scowled angrily. “What the fuck, Jaeger! You have a girlfriend and didn’t tell me?!”

Eren snatched his phone back from Jean, trying to seem annoyed which, truthfully, wasn’t hard since he wasn’t sure what the text had even said. “I was going to before you fucking ripped my phone out of my hand!” Glancing down at it, he read the message.

[Unknown Number]
Hey Lover, let me know when you land.
[Unknown Number]
And tell your horse just how many times I sucked you off before you left. Maybe you can get him to shut up for a change.

It took a conscious effort to keep his expression neutral at the second text. He had really not been expecting that, especially given the site’s FAQs talked about nothing inappropriate like sexting and the like being allowed. And yet, here this girl was, texting him about having given him multiple blowjobs.

They really needed to clarify their rules in their Terms and Conditions.

“Be straight with me,” Jean insisted. “It’s a buddy from school, right? You’re just messing with me.” His friend draped one arm across his shoulders. “Eren, it’s okay to not be able to get a girlfriend. Not everyone can be like the great Kirschtein.”

“Stupid and annoying?” Eren asked, starting to shove his phone away before realizing he should probably be responding. If this were really his girlfriend, it would be shitty of him as a boyfriend to ignore her request for being informed when he’d landed. So, he tried to think of what best to respond with without making it obvious to Jean that he had no idea what to say.

[JaegerMeister]
I’ve landed, getting my bag now.
[JaegerMeister]
My horse came to pick me up, so it’s funny you mention him.
[JaegerMeister]
He got to see your text, and now he’s offended I didn’t tell him about you.

He had to force himself not to keep typing. He just didn’t know what to say or how to proceed, so he was going a little bit overboard. Putting his phone away, he looked around for his bag while Jean texted someone on his own phone.

Spotting his bag making its way around, he grabbed it off the conveyer when it passed him by and then nudged Jean to get him to start walking. The other complied, moving along behind him while still texting, frowning at his phone.

They were outside before the other let out a loud exclamation of triumph, turning his phone to Eren, as if wanting him to read it even though the waving around he was doing made that difficult for him to achieve.

“I knew it! You are lying! I asked Mikasa if anything had changed recently in your life and she says she has no idea what I’m talking about, so obviously you’re just pretending to have someone and you actually don’t!”

“I don’t need to justify anything to you,” Eren insisted, motioning for Jean to take the lead since he had no idea where his car was. “And I didn’t tell anyone yet because I wanted it to be a surprise. You know, since you all harass me all the time about not having one.”

“I’m calling bullshit,” Jean insisted, pulling his keys from his pocket and clicking on his alarm. Nothing happened, which suggested he didn’t actually remember where he’d parked his car and was now looking for it. Terrific.

“I have a girlfriend,” Eren snapped, his defences rising. “You’re not the only one who can manage that, you know!”

“I don’t believe you.” The car chirped and Jean grinned, heading towards it, clearly very pleased with his ability to locate it once more.

“I swear!” Eren hated that he had to justify this. The service was meant to be helping him make them believe him, not force him into proving it. This was turning out to be just as annoying as when they made fun of him for not having a girlfriend!

“Not buying it,” Jean said, opening the trunk before moving to the driver’s side door.

Eren scoffed at the lack of help and bent down to pick up his suitcase, shoving it into the trunk. He added his laptop bag and his carry-on then slammed it shut, moving to get in on the other side of the car.

Once he was buckled in, he realized Jean was taking his time getting himself organized, clearly eager for this conversation to continue before Eren had the chance to strangle him while he drove.

Which Eren had done before.

Twice.

“Drive,” he said dryly.

“Not until you admit you’re a liar.” Jean let out a loud groan, then leaned back in his seat with both hands behind his head.

“What the hell am I supposed to do, prove it?”

“Hey, yeah!” Jean grinned at him. “Prove it. Have her send a pic.”

Eren was so glad he knew his family well enough to have chosen a package that included photos.

“Fine.” He pulled his phone out, ready to send her a message—and seeing he had a new one from her in response to his previous texts—when Jean sat up quickly.

“No, I’m not done. Anyone can go steal a picture off the net. I want her to send two pictures.” He narrowed his eyes, as if thinking hard. Eren was surprised his head didn’t explode. “Okay, she can send one picture that is, whatever, a picture. And I want the second picture to be her holding up a sign that says,” he held out both hands, as if imagining the words on a large banner, “‘Jean Kirschtein is a God and I would bang him’.”

“Fine.” Eren muttered, opening the message and hoping to God this was actually going to work.

[Unknown Number]
Well, why would you be telling him before your parents?
[Unknown Number]
And you were worried they wouldn’t believe you anyway, so it’s easier to prove while you’re with them.

[JaegerMeister]
Yeah, which is pretty much why I wanted to wait.
[JaegerMeister]
Jean’s being a dick now, anyway. He doesn’t believe me.

[Unknown Number]
He’s just jealous his dick is smaller than yours ;)

[JaegerMeister]
Lol Yeah.
[JaegerMeister]
He actually uh, wants proof :/ Can you send a pic?
[JaegerMeister]
An appropriate one! My mom might wanna see it later.

[Unknown Number]
Didn’t you show him all those pics we’ve been taking?????
[Unknown Number]
Oh wait, right, you had to change your SIM card.

[JaegerMeister]
Can’t, they’re on my other SIM.
[JaegerMeister]
Haha yeah.
[JaegerMeister]
He wants a pic of you holding up a sign that says “Jean Kirschtein is a God and I would bang him.
[JaegerMeister]
And then another random one.

[Unknown Number]
Gimme a sec, I’m at my internship. I’ll try and sneak into an empty office.

Eren kept his phone angled towards Jean so the other could see he wasn’t secretly plotting anything, but he had to admit, whoever was on the other end was really good. This seemed totally natural, and it was almost like texting someone like Armin or even his sister. Except minus the inappropriateness, though Mikasa could sometimes say things that surprised him.

“She’s probably super gross, if she’s legit your girlfriend,” Jean piped up after about a minute of waiting in silence.

“You’re one to talk, do all your girlfriends have to wear paper bags over their heads?” Eren grinned. “Oh wait, that’s just you, HorseFace.”

“Asswipe.” They sat in silence for a while longer. “Why can’t you just take out your other SIM card? Show me all the raunchy photos you guys took.” He grinned.

“I can’t,” Eren said, having already planned for this. “I left it with my stuff in storage. I knew I wouldn’t need it so there was no point in bringing it with me.”

“Well that’s dumb, what’re you gonna do when you get back? Isn’t your flight arriving at night? You’ll be without a phone for like, twelve hours. You might spontaneously combust.”

“I’m not you, I can last without talking to people for a few hours.”

“Uh huh. Sure you can, Mr. Mama’s boy.”

The phone chiming interrupted their banter and Eren clicked on the photo, turning his phone sideways so it would come out properly. He was actually genuinely surprised to see the same girl whose photo he’d clicked on during the profile stage of his setup for the service.

She looked like she was in some kind of office, though he honestly wouldn’t be able to tell if it was a real office or an at-home office. It looked professional enough but who knew, right?

Her reddish hair was down and straight, and her makeup made her eyes pop. She was wearing a salmon-coloured blouse, which probably went with some kind of skirt he couldn’t see. Her expression was exactly what he’d been looking for in a fake-girlfriend, because she’d scrunched up her face in such a way that made it obvious she was unimpressed with Jean’s request.

And, as requested, she was holding up a sign, but it didn’t say exactly what Jean had requested.

It said, ‘Jean Kirschtein WISHES he was a God I would want to bang.’

Eren couldn’t help but let out a bark of laughter at that, Jean’s ears turning red with anger and a slight red tinge in his cheeks. Despite Eren constantly calling him a horse, he was used to girls finding him attractive and having his ego wounded by Eren’s supposed girlfriend probably wasn’t sitting right.

Before Jean could even say anything, a second picture came through. This one had the girl winking while holding up a second sign that said, ‘Neigh neigh, little horsie.’ 

Feeling pretty good about himself, Eren turned to Jean, who didn’t look mad anymore, but more thoughtful. That didn’t bode well.

“Bullshit,” Jean finally said.

“Bull—She spelled out your name, dude! I don’t know how much more proof you need that she’s a real person and my girlfriend!” Eren was getting annoyed, it wasn’t supposed to be this hard. And considering Armin and Mikasa were both a lot smarter than Jean, this wasn’t boding well for his ability to pull this off.

“I don’t believe you,” Jean said simply. “I mean, for all I know, you guys met over a chatroom on the internet and she thinks you’re some sexy Greek God. Maybe you sent her a picture of me, and she has no idea who you are.”

“She’s in my Runology class...”

“Then send her a selfie.”

There was no problem with that, considering he’d already sent these people his picture, so it wasn’t like she wouldn’t be sure it was him. Still, Jean was taking this too far.

“Are you serious?”

“Send her a selfie, and I’ll believe you. I’ll stop harassing you about this.” He grinned. “Hey, send her one of those ‘complete my heart’ selfies!”

“What? No! That’s super corny and she’ll hate it!”

Jean gave him a look and made it clear he was not going to start the car until Eren complied. Growling and feeling like a loser, he turned the camera on his phone so he could see himself and held up his free hand in the shape of half a heart. Taking the picture, he sent it to his fake girlfriend.

He and Jean sat there staring at his phone for almost a minute before it chimed and a picture appeared. It was the same girl—he needed to just start calling her Hannah, since that was her name—holding up her own hand, using the opposite one as Eren to complete his heart.

[Unknown Number]
Well that was sappy of you. You know I’m not into that, Eren.

He aimed the phone at Jean, feeling pretty good about himself. “See? Eren. And the picture. She knows it’s me, she’s my girlfriend. Get over it.”

Still pleased, he typed out a text back to her, since it’d be weird if he didn’t, explaining the circumstances of the photo.

[JaegerMeister]
Pic was for Jean.

The answer back was almost instantaneous, and Eren had to smile a little. Whoever this girl was, she was good. He really liked the way they were communicating.

[Unknown Number]
What, is HE your girlfriend now?
[Unknown Number]
Not even home an hour and already I’m competing with a horse -.-

Eren had to laugh at that, which made Jean demand to see the text while he pulled out of his spot. It effectively pissed him off and he fumed while heading for the exit, Eren’s phone going off again.

[Unknown Number]
I should go, I’m technically meant to be working...
[Unknown Number]
I’m glad you made it home safe, Lover. I’ll talk to you later ;)

[JaegerMeister]
Thanks babe <3 I’ll talk to you later. Have a good time at work!

Before putting his phone away, he added the number into his contacts so it would come up with ‘Hannah,’ then thought better of it. Jean was used to him using nicknames for everyone, so if that one was normal, he’d find it suspicious.

Thinking of what the best name would be, he decided to do something completely stupid and added Hannah into his phone as ‘The Bae <3’ even though it was a totally stupid thing to do. It made it more believable for Jean, since it made it obvious he’d never had the chance to put a girl’s name in his phone who wasn’t his sister or a friend.

They were both silent while Jean drove through the parking lot and then paid to exit, driving down the long road that would eventually merge onto the highway. He didn’t say a word until they were safely back on the main road, competing with the afternoon traffic to head to the suburbs where Eren’s family lived.

“So, what’s her name?” Jean finally asked, clearly annoyed with having to show interest.

“Hannah.”

“Uh huh. How did you meet?”

Eren winced, mostly for show. He was suddenly glad about all the questions the survey had asked, otherwise he’d have had to come up with this on the spot, and he wasn’t that good a liar. Doing it now seemed so much simpler because he’d had to think about it beforehand.

He was going to need to commend the person who wrote out that survey.

“Actually, it’s kind of stupid,” Eren muttered, slouching a bit in his seat. “I got into this fight with this guy in the caf—”

“Shocking.”

Eren ignored him and continued. “We were really going at it, the two of us and I shoved him and he ended up bashing into this girl. That girl was Hannah. She fell over and dropped her tray and food kind of went everywhere. The other guy yelled at her to watch where she was going, so obviously I had to kick his ass.”

“Doubtful.” Unfortunately, that would be true. Eren fought a lot, but he very rarely won. He just never stayed down so the other party usually just walked away.

“Anyway, I offered to buy her dinner for her so she could replace what she’d dropped. We ended up talking and after a while she invited me out to see a movie. I realized a bit later that it was meant to be a date and we kind of just... went from there.”

“When did this happen?”

“Back in January. We didn’t become official until sometime in February, but a while ago.”

“And you didn’t tell me,” Jean groused, turning left onto a road that would lead up towards their part of town. “I thought we were friends.”

“You wouldn’t believe me even after all this proof I showed you,” Eren insisted, scowling. “Like you’d have believed me more back then.”

“I might’ve!” Jean insisted, though his tone suggested he probably wouldn’t have.

Rolling his eyes, Eren instead focussed on staring out the window, watching the familiar scenery slowly pass him by. He felt pretty confident he could keep this up, especially if Hannah continued to be as amazing as she had been just now.

He might just be able to pull this off.


“Eren!”

Wincing when his mother came careening towards him, Eren allowed her to crush him against her chest, hugging him as if she hadn’t seen him for years.

“Hi mom.”

“You look like someone who hasn’t been eating well!” she insisted, pulling away from him and giving him a once-over. “Too much McDonalds, I’ll bet.”

He sputtered, having assumed she meant he was skin and bones, but apparently she thought he was fat. He couldn’t manage to get any words out, which was just as well since she smiled, kissed his cheek, and reassured him that she was only joking.

“Eren!”

Turning to greet his sister, grinning broadly, he ended up letting out a shout when she smacked him hard across the back of the head.

“Ow! Mikasa!”

“You have a girlfriend?!”

Suddenly, Eren was glad Hannah wasn’t real, because Mikasa had that murderous look in her eye she usually reserved for people who beat on Eren. He could only assume she was concerned about his girlfriend hurting his feelings or something. It’d be nice to be able to admit to her that this wasn’t real, but she would tell Jean. Clearly. Since she and Jean shared everything, considering that was the only way she’d have found out about this.

He’d been wondering who his friend had been texting at the red light down the road. Turned out it was his sister. Great.

“A girlfriend?” Carla Jaeger perked up instantly. “You have a girlfriend?”

“It’s not that big of a deal,” Eren insisted, feeling heat rising to his cheeks. He knew his family would think it was embarrassment, but it was mostly anger. He could get a girlfriend if he wanted! He just—was happy being single, was all!

“I want to talk to her,” Mikasa said.

“No, not right now. Where’s dad?”

Carla explained his father had gone to see a patient at the last minute, something that apparently couldn’t be avoided, and Jean took that as his cue to steal Eren’s phone, running off down the street with it. Carla’s grip on Eren’s arm stopped him from being able to pursue, and she demanded to know all about his girlfriend while Mikasa hurried off after Jean.

This was bad, if they started pretending to be Eren, the girl on the other end wouldn’t know any better. Shit, he needed to get his phone back.

“Mom, I need my phone. Hannah’s important to me and Jean’s gonna ruin it!”

He managed to break free and leapt off the porch, chasing after his sister and best friend. They’d stopped a little ways down the street, huddled together and looking at his phone—he guessed, since their backs were to him.

Reaching them, he broke between them and snatched his phone from their hands, clutching it to his chest.

“Will you quit it?” he snapped angrily. “What the hell is your problem? You have your own damn girlfriend!”

“Not anymore, we broke up.” Jean wrapped one arm around Mikasa while saying this.

She promptly pinched at the skin of his hand, forcibly removing it from her shoulders while he let out pitiful sounds of pain. Taking a step away from him, she kept hold of his skin for a few seconds longer before releasing him, the other clutching his injured hand to his chest.

“Well, find someone other than mine. Not every day I ruin a girl’s dinner and convince her to go out with me.”

Looking back at his phone, he checked to see what they’d said to her, and was glad she hadn’t replied. Then again, she’d said she was at work and for all Eren knew, it was the truth. Maybe these people were regular Joes on the other end, with real lives and everything, and they just happened to do this whole fake boyfriend/girlfriend thing on the side.

[JaegerMeister]
I miss you SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much right now!
[JaegerMeister]
And my sister wants to meet you! You should call helkewj;w’ahgjlkhe
[JaegerMeister]
Sorry.
[JaegerMeister]
That wasn’t me. Jean and my sister stole my phone.

He started to put his phone away when it trilled, making him pause and glance at the messages once more, surprised to find a response from Hannah.

[The Bae <3] 
Oh, good.
[The Bae <3]
I was really unsure how to respond to that, considering it’s not like you at all.
[The Bae <3]
I mean, I know you’re a mama’s boy, but that’s going a bit far.

[JaegerMeister]
Haha, noted. I’ll be sure not to revert into my mama’s boy persona, then.

[The Bae <3]
Might already be too late if you’re listening to the horse.

Eren couldn’t help but laugh at that, which caused Jean to lean over his shoulder to see what he was typing. He tried to grab Eren’s phone from him, but failed in his attempt fairly quickly.

“Your girlfriend’s a bag! Why is she always insulting me?!”

“I think she’s right on the money, actually,” Mikasa insisted, having leaned over to read the text, as well. “I think I’m gonna like her, Eren.”

Grinning, he led the way back towards the house, hoping his father would be home soon and that Armin was on his way. It would be nice to have everyone back together.

And as a bonus: No one would harass him for not having a girlfriend.


Levi sat leaning back against the arm rest of the couch, a mug of tea on the table behind him and a popsicle stick between his lips. He’d finished the treat long ago but hadn’t had the chance to get up and throw it out. Rather than just leave it on the table, he opted for keeping it in his mouth.

His eyes shifted back and forth across the screen, watching his character dodge and fire at an enemy. Hanji was sitting on the other end of the couch, a manic gleam in their eyes while firing off infinite rounds with a machine gun. Every time they had to reload, it was like the hysteria was going to burst free.

Sometimes, Levi worried he’d wake up in the middle of the night with Hanji standing over him brandishing a knife. All he could do was hope he woke up in time to stop them.

The room was filled only with the sound of gunfire and random other game noises, the two occupants not having spoken for a while. They had long since learned one another’s patterns, so it was easy for them to play in a party together without having to tell each other where to go or what to do.

They were just about done kicking the crap out of this team when Levi’s phone went off, vibrating loudly against the glass coffee table.

Without a word, Hanji’s character moved to where Levi’s was, covering him while he reached over to grab his phone. That was the only shitty thing about this job: he never got a day off.

Swiping his thumb across the bottom of the screen, he hit his messages and frowned when a blocked number blinked back at him.

[Blocked Number]
Hi P.R. It’s Eren Jaeger. I’m using my other SIM so no one sees this message.
[Blocked Number]
I just wanted to say thanks for today. You were really awesome and I know this probably isn’t the best job in the world, so I just wanted to say thanks for all the help today.

“Idiot.” Levi’s fingers flew across the screen, tapping out a message before hitting ‘send’.

[User]
You shouldn’t be breaking character. I’m not your friend, I’m a service you’ve paid for. You’ve read the FAQs. Don’t contact me outside of our agreement again.

The response came quickly, Levi reading it before tossing his phone loudly onto the table and picking his controller back up.

[Blocked Number]
Right... Sorry. I wasn’t thinking. Well, thanks again anyway. Have a good night.

“Who was it?” Hanji asked once Levi was playing again.

“The newbie. He thinks I’m his friend. I set him straight.”

“I hope you were polite about it, or else you get to explain to Erwin why someone cancelled their application.”

Levi wasn’t concerned, the kid seemed like a pushover. Considering the kind of girl he’d asked for, he wasn’t really delivering on the boyfriend side of things. Levi had expected him to be a bit crass and maybe borderline rude, but he wasn’t. He was just this weird little man who didn’t seem to know how to talk to his girlfriend.

Still, it had been fun being able to be virtually himself. And he was thankful Petra was so quick with her photo-taking. That was one thing that would turn into a problem. If he was texting actively and someone on the other end asked for a picture, if Petra wasn’t available, things were going to get awkward.

Finishing up the game they were playing, Levi told Hanji he was done for the night and turned off his controller. They were still on Levi’s profile but he didn’t mind, this was his personal one, not his clientele one. He didn’t see any concerns with leaving Hanji on it.

Standing up so he could finally head into the kitchen and toss out his popsicle stick, he rinsed out his mug and then set it in the dishwasher, then went back to grab his phone and headed for his room.

He had another XBox in there, and since he didn’t want to boot Hanji off his profile, he logged into theirs and let Magic: The Gathering load while he got changed for bed. Brushing his teeth, he returned to his room and shut his door, turning off the light before falling onto his bed.

Grabbing the controller, he started a new round, eyes occasionally flickering to his computer. He didn’t feel like checking in on all his clients, but realized if he didn’t do it now, he’d have to do it in the morning, and he was grumpier in the morning. It was best to do it now.

In the middle of his own turn, after having put down a land, Levi stood and padded across the room, running his fingers along the trackpad to bring his computer out of sleep mode.

He had a few regulars ask him questions about extending their contracts and whatnot, and he cleared those up really quickly.

It wasn’t until he reached the bottom that he found a new name with an inquiry, and he clicked on it, noting the re-assignment icon on the top left corner. It was there to remind him to turn off the source of his reply, otherwise the client would know the person he’d requested wasn’t the one answering him.

[Eren Jaeger]
Hi there,
Sorry to bug you with this, but I uh, kind of ran into a bit of a situation today. I know you told me not to text you, sorry about that. I just wanted to say thanks for everything. I know I still have a while left with you, but you were really good and really believable. Jean totally bought it and even Mikasa—who’s really hard to convince—seems pretty sure this is all real. The true test will come tomorrow, when my friend Armin shows up. His flight was delayed, so I’m seeing him in the morning. He’s a tested genius though, so I’m a little concerned about him. But, that being said, you’re doing really well so I’m sure it’ll be fine.
I should talk about my situation. I was just wondering how the package thing works. Like, I have a package that includes 20 pictures, but as you know, today I had to use quite a few of them, so I guess I’m concerned about what happens when my allotment runs out. If you suddenly stop sending pictures, that’s not good, no one will buy this anymore. So how does it work if I run out of photos?
Thanks again for everything! I look forward to talking to you tomorrow!
Eren. 

Levi lacked the energy to voice his opinion of the other aloud, even if it was just one word: Moron. He’d thanked him for a service he was paying for three times in this one little blurb alone. Was he stupid?

Shaking his head, Levi got to work replying to the guy and then closed his computer once he was done, more than ready to go back to his game.

Eren,
We understand that sometimes things do not go according to plan. Should you exceed your allowable number of photos, we will bill your account and you can pay the amount back in a lump sum at the time of your next contract renewal. Similarly, we have add-on packages (located here) that you can purchase which include only additional items, such as more photos, more texts, upgrading packages, etc.
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require any further assistance.
P.R.

He had to be nice because he was under Petra’s name. Otherwise, he’d have told the idiot to read the FAQs again. Not that he believed he actually did, he didn’t seem like he knew much of what was going on.

Beating the game he was playing, he debated starting another when his phone went off once more, making him turn to it. Picking it up, he swiped his thumb across the bottom of the screen and read his message.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Good night! Sleep well :) And I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

[User]
I can’t sleep well without you here to keep me company :(
[User]
You know I can’t sleep until I’ve sucked some cock.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Wow. You kiss your mother with that mouth?

[User]
No, but I kiss yours >)
[User]
G’night, Lover. Wet dreams about me.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Good night :)

Once it was clear the conversation was over, Levi tossed the phone down and started up a new game, but he found his eyes straying to his phone every now and then. It wasn’t often he got to speak to customers like that, and despite the awkwardness he could sense coming off the kid, he still managed to hold his own and respond with things that made it easier for Levi to shoot him a comeback. Not many people had achieved that before.

Picking his phone back up while one of his cards was being attacked, he scrolled through their messages for the day, re-reading them with microscopic interest.

This kid was a funny character. Weird, and dorky, but still funny.

Maybe this handoff wasn’t going to be a huge pain in his ass after all.

TBC...

Chapter Text

Eren had never realized how much he missed his bed until this moment. He knew when he’d first moved into the dorms, it had hit him that he missed it, but it wasn’t until that very moment that he realized just how much he did.

Waking up for the first time in a long time in his own bed, it had been a challenge forcing his brain back to wakefulness. It hadn’t wanted to listen to him, but after snoozing for close to an hour, he finally wrestled it back into the land of the living.

Letting out a loud groan, he buried his face in his pillow, body practically melting into his mattress. He was so glad he still had three whole months of this.

Wondering what time it was, he thought maybe he could get away with lying in bed for a while longer if it was still fairly early.

Reaching out one hand for his phone, he fumbled around on his nightstand for it. When his fingers found nothing, he frowned and lifted his head off his pillow, staring at where his phone should’ve been.

It was missing.

That sobered him up exceptionally quick. He jerked up into a sitting position and promptly checked all around his nightstand. Finding nothing but his charger, he leapt out of bed and started throwing his blankets off it, trying to figure out where his phone went.

Upon still having no luck finding it, Eren could only come to one horrible conclusion: Jean was here, and the damn horse had taken his phone! He’d added a password to it after all the thefts from the previous day, but there was just one little problem with the password...

Feeling as though he’d ripped his door from the wall in his haste to get it open, he knew it was much, much too late. But a man could hope.

Please don’t let Armin be here! He thought frantically, racing down the carpeted stairs in nothing but his boxers. Please, please don’t let Armin be here!

Ripping around the bannister when he hit the landing, he raced into the kitchen and promptly halted the second his eyes caught the blond hair.

Armin was here.

Shit.

“Morning Sunshine!” Jean called jovially from the table, Mikasa looking up and Armin turning around.

Eren could clearly see his phone in his friend’s hands. He’d had no doubt Armin could figure out his password, and he also knew if anyone here could deduce this wasn’t really his girlfriend, it was Armin.

“What are you doing?” he shouted angrily. Not only because he was worried about getting caught, but because that was his phone! It was private!

Storming across the kitchen, he snatched the phone from Armin’s hands without so much as a greeting and instantly checked the damage on his texts.

[The Bae <3]
Morning Lover~ I know you’re probably still sleeping but just wanted to say hi before heading to my internship.
[The Bae <3]
Hope you have a good day. We should definitely “chat” later, if you know what I mean ;)

Jesus, Eren thought while reading Hannah’s texts, I said cheeky and sassy but they’re really taking this whole ‘inappropriate’ thing to heart.

Continuing to read to try and figure out how caught he was, the more he read, the less worried he became.

That survey he’d filled out was amazing.

[JaegerMeister]
Good morning, beautiful. How’re we doing today?

[The Bae <3]
O_o Beautiful? Since when do you call me something so corny?
[The Bae <3]
You didn’t cheat on me with the horse, did you? -.-

[JaegerMeister]
Of course not! I was really missing you in bed last night though.

[The Bae <3]
I’d LOVE to say I missed you too, but honestly, it was nice getting more than a corner of the blankets, for once. Not to mention I didn’t miss the snoring :P

[JaegerMeister]
I don’t snore!

[The Bae <3]
Babe, we’ve been over this, and yes you do.
[The Bae <3]
Very loudly.
[The Bae <3]
But it’s okay, it’s only one tiny downside to an otherwise mostly perfect package ;)

[JaegerMeister]
Perfect, huh? You mean because of these? -motions rock hard abs-

[The Bae <3]
LMAO
[The Bae <3]
Rock hard what now?
[The Bae <3]
I’m sorry, did you magically lose that little pudge in the last day? I sure hope not or I’ll be missing out on a pillow when you get back.

[JaegerMeister]
That’s ntkjhgfgjhgfdsdfgh

[The Bae <3]
O_o

He wanted to reach through the phone and kiss the person on the other end. Armin had done a near perfect job of imitating him, and Hannah had replied absolutely wonderfully. Every answer was right on the money, and he thanked the higher powers for that survey. It was actually amazingly useful.

[JaegerMeister]
Sorry, Jean, Armin and Mikasa had my phone. I was still sleeping -.- None of that was me.

[The Bae <3]
You know, that would make sense. I was REALLY confused by your “beautiful” comment.

[JaegerMeister]
Sorry :/ Guess they STILL don’t believe me. Armin just got here so I guess they wanted him to give it a try.

[The Bae <3]
Ah. Let the genius figure out if I’m imaginary or not, right? Gotcha. Well, tell them I’ll BECOME imaginary if they don’t stop harassing me :P

[JaegerMeister]
They damn well better not chase you away!!!!!!
[JaegerMeister]
Anyway, sorry again. I hope you have a good day at your internship!

[The Bae <3]
Thanks! Ttyl

Eren was about to turn to rip the other three a new one when his phone chimed. Checking it, he saw it was a picture from Hannah—P.R. or whatever. She was standing in front of a mirror and had taken a photo of herself in her outfit. She was wearing a black dress with burgundy leggings, a matching scarf, and black boots. Her hair was up in some kind of weird messy bun, and her makeup was just enough that he could tell she was wearing some, but not overpowering.

Seeing that picture made him almost wish she was his girlfriend. She was extremely pretty. He hoped her real boyfriend kept her close, especially considering how many men she had to pretend she was dating.

[JaegerMeister]
You look terrific :) Knock ‘em dead!

With that out of the way, he rounded on who he thought were his friends and scowled angrily.

Mikasa, being more practised at scary looks, was unphased. Jean looked amused. Armin was the only one who showed even a fraction of guilt.

“If it makes you feel better, I’m 97.8% sure your girlfriend’s real.”

“Really?” Eren asked, some of his anger ebbing only so it could be replaced by exasperation. “97.8%? That’s the number you’re going with?”

“Well, there’s still a 2.2% probability that—”

“Can’t we just hug and say hi like normal people?” Eren asked, arms open wide and phone held tightly in one hand.

Armin smiled brilliantly before standing and the two of them shared a brief hug.

“How’s Law school?” Eren asked him when they parted, Mikasa already moving to make him breakfast.

“I’m not in Law school, I’m in the faculty of Law. There’s a difference,” Armin insisted. “But it’s fine. Passed everything, so that’s good.”

“Hey,” Jean said with a frown. “How come you didn’t ask me how school was?”

“Because I don’t care and you probably failed everything.”

“Say that again to my face!” Jean shouted, getting to his feet and waving a threatening fist at Eren.

“I said you’re an idiot,” he repeated with a grin. “I dare you to contradict me. How’d you do?”

A light dusting of colour appeared across Jean’s cheeks and he sat back down without another word.

Eren knew he hadn’t failed, he was just giving him a hard time. But after the stunt they’d pulled just now, they were all going to be feeling it for the whole day.


Dark eyes slowly scanned the words laid out before him, finishing the page before slowly flicking to the next one, continuing on with the sentence that had been cut off due to the page break.

Things had been slow today. He supposed with summer looming, more and more people were actually managing to go out and get a life. That was good, he supposed. Gave him free time, but then again, it also meant the possibility of losing clients and therefore less income.

He might have to go out and get a real job if that happened. The thought of it left a sour taste in his mouth so he tried not to dwell on it, continuing to read his book with only slight interest.

“I want cake,” his roommate proclaimed, as if the mere mention of it would have the item materialize before them.

“Then go get cake,” Levi replied, flipping his page and glancing up to see Hanji’s progress.

They were playing the New Super Mario for the Wii, but hadn’t been doing too well lately. The sounds escaping them every time something exciting happened would be comical if Levi wasn’t trying to read.

“I’m too comfy to go and get cake.”

“Then don’t get cake,” Levi said, eyes still on Mario on the screen and watching Hanji run the poor plumber straight into a Piranha plant.

“Do you want to get me cake?”

“No.”

He returned to his book, the two of them continuing with their individual tasks when the sound of an email being received chimed through the room.

Both Hanji and Levi turned their heads towards their respective computers to see who’d received it. It was Levi.

Setting his book down, he opened the email and saw it was an automatic alert from his account informing him one of his clients had updated their profile.

Switching tabs and refreshing, pulling his laptop onto his lap, he scrolled through his clients, noting one profile had recently been added to his cancellation tab. Deciding to check that first, since it would only take a second, he saw that it looked like Stephen had decided to move on. His parting comments and rating—five stars—were very good, suggesting he wasn’t leaving due to anything Levi had done wrong. Maybe he’d found himself a real boyfriend to pound into the bed.

Switching back to his main page, he scrolled until he saw the little speech bubble beside one of the profiles, denoting that was the one he needed to review.

It was beside the handoff again. Maybe he’d decided to purchase an add-on for photos and was asking how to do it.

Opening the message, he read it over, expression neutral, then set his computer back down on the table and went back to reading his book.

“Who was it?”

“The handoff,” Levi said, skimming his page to figure out where he was at.

“What’d he want?”

“Nothing.”

Obviously unsatisfied with this response, Hanji paused their game and leaned over to turn the screen so they could read the message. Levi’s eyes shifted to it, as well.

[Eren Jaeger]
Hey P.R.
No need to reply, I just wanted to thank you again for yesterday, and thanks for the answer to my question! I appreciate the help. I hope you’re having an awesome day, and if you’re actually interning somewhere, I hope it’s going well!
Talk to you soon!
Eren. 

“Aw! He’s so nice!” Hanji exclaimed. “I want a nice one!”

“You can have him,” was Levi’s reply.

“Aren’t you going to reply?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“He’s annoying,” Levi said, flipping a page in his book. “I’m not his friend, I’m someone he’s paying to make him look taken. Why is he wasting my time with messages like that?”

“He’s just being friendly, no need to be such a prickly dick about it.”

“At least I have one, which is more than I can say for you,” Levi shot back, mostly to see what kind of response he’d get.

He was used to getting the same ones over and over but today’s was new.

“You’re more than welcome to join me in the bedroom to find out just what I have.”

If looks could kill, Hanji would’ve died, been resurrected, and died again.

“I was joking,” they insisted, leaning over to nudge Levi’s knee, since he was sitting with his back against the arm-rest, as usual, “you can put away those daggers you call eyes.”

Levi said nothing and glanced at his screen. He didn’t want to reply because it would be like encouraging the moron. But similarly, he was paying for a service so he shouldn’t flat-out ignore him.

But he was enjoying his slow day!

But the kid was pretty nice, he’d give him that.

Feeling like this was mostly Hanji’s fault, Levi put his book down and grabbed his phone off the coffee table, scrolling through his contacts.

[User]
Hey lover! I’m so bored right now, entertain me!

There. He was being nice. Now no one—Hanji—could tattle to Erwin about him.

About to set his phone back down, it chimed and forced him to glance back at it. Eren had replied.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I’m sorry to hear that :(
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Not sure what I can do from all the way over here, though >.>

Levi stared at the message for a second longer than normal, then started to set his phone down again when, once again, it went off. He looked at his messages once more, a little surprised at Eren’s response.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
(1/2) I’ve got an idea! Why don’t we play a kind of question game. I know we’ve been dating for a while, but we don’t know EVERYTHING about each other. This’ll give us the opportunity to learn about one another! No holds b
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
(2/2) arred and complete, 100% honesty.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I mean it. Honesty.

“Honesty, huh?” Levi said aloud, a little intrigued. He’d never had a client quite like Eren before. Sure, his messages out of their agreement were annoying because they weren’t meant to be friends, but he actually seemed like a good guy. More considerate—and interesting—than Stephen, that was for sure.

[User]
All right, I’m game. But don’t cry like a little girl when I embarrass you :P

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
You wouldn’t make me cry, I’m too important to you. It would DEVASTATE you! D:

[User]
You wish. You first?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Why don’t you go girst?
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
*first

Levi stared down at his phone, curious as to whether or not the kid would actually be honest. Knowing as much as he did, thanks to his profile, he decided to give it a shot and see.

[User]
Am I really your first girlfriend? You’re a nice guy, and easy on the eyes ;) How come you haven’t had one before?

When Eren didn’t reply right away, Levi assumed he’d either chickened out, gotten busy or was typing him an essay. He went back to his book, glancing up and noticing Hanji was no longer playing but now making a new Mii for their profile. He watched their progress for a while until his phone chimed and he picked it up to see what kind of bullshit response he’d gotten.

Not a bullshit response, as it turned out. This kid was interesting.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
(1/3) Yeah, you’re my first. I don’t mind though, I’m not the kind of person who’d date someone for the sake of dating them. As for why I didn’t have one before, I guess I was never really what the girls wanted. As you know,
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
(2/3) I have a temper and I guess sometimes girls just saw me as that really angry, uncontrollable guy who wasn’t worth their time. I’ve never been lonely, though. I have my friends and that’s all I need, really. People
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
(3/3) who are there for me when it counts.

“Huh.”

“What?” Hanji asked.

“Nothing.”

Levi wasn’t sure how to respond. That had been pretty honest, and he kind of felt like maybe he should stop giving the kid such a hard time in his head.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
My turn!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
What is your all-time favourite thing to do in your free time?

Knowing he had to stay in character, Levi answered as best he could while doing so and being honest.

[User]
Idiot, you already know what I do in my free time!
[User]
But if your memory’s that bad, I guess I can enlighten you, and remind you of what to get me for my birthday -cough XBox point card cough-

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Well yeah, but we’re restricted at school. I mean of ALL TIME.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
HAHA! Noted :)

[User]
I honestly just really like gaming and reading. Gaming is a nice outlet for getting some frustration out. Reading is relaxing, and good for the brain every now and then.
[User]
What’s your favourite game, anyway? I mean, we play Halo at school but I feel that’s more out of lack of selection than anything else.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Nah, it’s Halo :) I love playing Halo. Did you bring your console home? We should play!

[User]
We should. I don’t have you friended though, we always played together so I never got around to adding you...

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
LOL! Oh man, me neither! How embarrassing.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I’m JaegerMeister :) Add me when you get home and we can play for a while sometime.

[User]
Sounds like a plan.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I’m really sorry, but I’m gonna have to go. I’m sitting down to watch a movie and I don’t wanna bug other people in the theatre with my phone.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Feel free to send me a question if you like :)

[User]
Of course! You’re at home, I shouldn’t be whining about being bored
[User]
I will as soon as I think of one.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Awesome :) I hope I managed to help with the boredom, even just a little bit! Have a great day!

[User]
You did, thanks Lover! Enjoy your movie!

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Ty :)

Levi waited a few seconds longer before setting his phone down, then picked up his book to go back to reading. He paused when he noticed Hanji staring at him, a tiny little smirk on their lips and their new game—it looked like Portal, evidently meaning they’d switched from the Wii to the XBox—paused on the screen.

“What?” Levi asked, not understanding the look.

“Oh nothing.” Hanji offered him a brilliant smile, then turned and unpaused their game.

Ignoring the weirdness of his roommate, Levi went back to his book, mind all the while straying towards what kind of question he could ask the kid.

If nothing else, at least he wasn’t boring.


It hadn’t been easy for Eren to pay attention during the movie. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in it, because he was, he really was, but his brain kept slowly drifting back to his conversation with Hannah—er, P.R. He just couldn’t help but wonder if the other had been honest. He didn’t know why it mattered, considering this wasn’t real, but it would still be kind of nice to come out of this with a friend.

You’re not friends, remember? She made that perfectly clear when she PM’d you last night.

Actually, Eren had been a little disappointed when he’d received the private message in his profile. He knew this wasn’t real, and that “Hannah” wasn’t actually a friend by any means, but he’d been hoping that he could’ve at least gotten to know her a little bit.

Then again, he supposed that was how the whole “stalker” thing started. Someone got close in real life and next thing she knew, they were outside her door in the rain with a box of chocolates and some flowers, staring intently at her window.

“Eren.”

He jumped when fingers snapped in his face and turned to look at Jean. His friend was standing, staring down at him with a confused look. Eren turned to face the big screen before him and realized the credits were rolling.

He’d missed the ending.

“Are you okay?” Armin asked, standing at the end of their row by the stairs. Mikasa seemed more focussed on the rolling credits, standing beside him, but Eren could tell his sister was concerned. He hated that, she had to stop treating him like a child.

“I’m fine, I just fell asleep,” he said, standing and hurrying past Jean towards the stairs.

“With your eyes open?”

“It’s been known to happen,” he insisted, digging into his pocket and pulling out his phone. He saw he had a new message but before he could read it, Jean snatched it from his hand and swiped across the bottom, trying to type in Eren’s password.

Luckily, he’d been smart and had changed it after Armin had cracked it that morning.

“What’s your girlfriend saying to you now?”

Leaping onto Jean’s back and almost sending them both crashing to the ground, Eren managed to wrestle his phone from the other’s grip while Armin and Mikasa stood watching them from the stairs. Armin looked concerned. Mikasa looked annoyed.

“You guys are together for two days and already you’re turning back into children,” she said, storming down the row and grabbing the back of Eren’s collar, forcing him off Jean’s back.

He found solace in the fact that he still had his phone clutched in his hand, having rescued it from Jean.

“Why are you always trying to read my messages?” he demanded angrily, temper flaring and heat rising up the back of his neck. “I don’t bug you when you’re texting your girlfriend.”

“Just making sure you know how best to treat her right.” The smarmy look on Jean’s face when he said this had Eren wanting to punch him. Sometimes, he hated his best friend. “After all, you’ve never been with someone before, right? Just watching your back.”

“I don’t need your help,” Eren insisted angrily, stomping the rest of the way down the stairs and shoving his phone back into his pocket without checking it. He didn’t want to give Jean the opportunity to steal it again so he’d wait until he got somewhere safe to check it.

They all exited the theatre together, Jean trying to talk to Mikasa about the movie, and seeming to imply they go see it again together, alone. Eren wasn’t really listening to them, mind drifting as it had been before, but a tentative hand on his arm made him turn.

“Hey Eren?”

“Yeah, what’s up Armin?”

His friend looked a little uncomfortable, stopping them in the middle of the way while they headed back for the car through the mall. Jean and Mikasa kept walking, but Armin just stared at him intently.

“I just wanted to say I’m really sorry about this morning,” he told him loudly, almost half-bowing and clenching his eyes shut. “I shouldn’t have gone along with Jean’s games and I’m really sorry for doubting you!”

Eren was a little taken aback and looked around at the people staring at them. He put his hand on Armin’s shoulder, trying to make him straighten. “It’s okay, Armin, really. I honestly kind of expected him not to let it go, so it’s not a big deal. But,” he said, pointing a finger at his friend, “you need to stand up for yourself more. Don’t let people bully you.”

Armin offered him a small smile and nodded. Eren patted his shoulder and then began walking again, forcing his friend to follow along.

“So how did you two meet, anyway?” Armin asked with interest. “I didn’t really get much of the story from Jean and Mikasa.”

“Oh, I got in a fight in the cafeteria back in January. I accidentally made her drop her dinner so I offered to buy her a new one. We started hanging out and after a while, we started dating.”

“Wow, I’m glad she was nice about the whole dinner thing.” Armin got a dark look on his face. “I dropped my girlfriend’s dinner once. Once.”

Eren laughed uncomfortably, feeling like Armin really needed a new girlfriend if she scared him that much.

“No, Hannah was pretty okay about it, actually. Probably because of the mess my face was from the fight. Who can be mad at a beat up, adorable-looking guy like me?”

The two of them laughed, walking through the exit doors that led to the parking lot. Mikasa and Jean had long since disappeared from sight, but it wasn’t like they’d leave without them, and Eren knew Armin remembered where the car was parked.

“So what does she look like?”

“Right! You haven’t seen a pic yet!” Eren reached into his pocket and swiped the bottom of his phone. He angled it away from Armin while doing his password and then opened his messages. He was right in assuming the one he’d gotten was from Hannah but before reading it, he opened the picture she’d sent him earlier and showed it to Armin.

“Wow,” the blond said with a smile. “She’s really pretty!”

“Don’t let that fool you, she’s really sassy.” Eren grinned, liking that he could say that and mean it. “And inappropriate sometimes, too. Like, really inappropriate.”

Armin laughed at that and Eren took the opportunity to check the message he’d gotten from her.

[The Bae <3]
Uuugh, why are you in a movie right now?
[The Bae <3]
I’m so bored at work ;~;
[The Bae <3]
Entertain meeeeeeee
[The Bae <3]
Question for you: you always talk to me about your sister, Mikasa, but you also mentioned once her last name was different. Is she adopted?
[The Bae <3]
Oh wow, that was super direct and insensitive. Sorry, ignore that.
[The Bae <3]
Replace: While I call your horse a horse because that’s what you call him, why do you call him a horse?

Eren wondered if these texts all counted towards his one-hundred, but felt like it really shouldn’t given a few of them had been Hannah whining about being bored. He really wondered if she truly had an internship somewhere, and wished there was a way for him to ask.

“Eren?”

He looked up and saw he’d walked right past the car, Jean and Mikasa already seated and waiting for them. Eren hurried back and climbed into the back with Armin, looking down at his phone to answer her questions.

[JaegerMeister]
That’s okay about Mikasa. It’s more sensitive for her than for me :)
[JaegerMeister]
Her mom and my mom were university besties so when they both got married and had kids, they were each other’s kid’s godparents.
[JaegerMeister]
So Mikasa’s parents were my godparents, and my parents are Mikasa’s.
[JaegerMeister]
Her parents were killed during a home invasion when she was nine. Luckily she wasn’t there (she was actually at my house) when it happened.
[JaegerMeister]
My parents took her in after that and we’ve been together ever since.
[JaegerMeister]
She’s been my friend for as long as I can remember so it’s easy to imagine her as my real sister.
[JaegerMeister]
I really care about her a lot, but she drives me crazy sometimes. She’s really overprotective.

He realized only after typing it all out that maybe he shouldn’t have told a stranger something so private about his sister, but then figured that he was sure they had to sign privacy disclosure statements. Besides, he’d have told his real girlfriend the truth, and they’d agreed on honesty. He knew Mikasa didn’t care when anyone talked about why she was his sister, but he didn’t like bringing it up in front of her. She never said anything, but he could tell it made her sad.

[The Bae <3]
Oh my God...
[The Bae <3]
Eren, that’s...
[The Bae <3]
I don’t know what to say. That’s awful. I’m so sorry.

[JaegerMeister]
Yeah, me too.
[JaegerMeister]
But I love having her around, and despite everything, she’s a happy person.
[JaegerMeister]
But again, super protective. I think she’s scared something bad will happen again.
[JaegerMeister]
She learned martial arts when she was twelve and can totally kick my ass |D

[The Bae <3]
That’s not hard to do.
[The Bae <3]
Even I can kick your ass.

[JaegerMeister]
Hey!

[The Bae <3]
You’re kind of a weakling.

[JaegerMeister]
HEY!
[JaegerMeister]
You’re so mean to me :(

[The Bae <3]
Only because I love you, lover ;)

Eren’s heart rate unwillingly sped up at seeing those words. For the first time since starting this service the previous day, he was a little sad this wasn’t real. He was sure he’d get a real girlfriend one day, but in the interim, seeing those words made him wish there was actually a girl on the other end who truly meant that and actually did love him.

Great, now I’m depressing myself, he thought with a sigh, tapping out a new message. Armin and Mikasa were analysing the ending of the movie, and it was easy to tune them out since he couldn’t remember even seeing the ending.

[JaegerMeister]
As for why I call Jean a horse, well I mean, you’ve seen his picture.
[JaegerMeister]
Doesn’t he remind you of a horse?

[The Bae <3]
I’d have to see him again
[The Bae <3]
Take a picture for me >:3
[The Bae <3]
Payback for the millions he asked for yesterday.

Laughing a little, Eren closed out of his messages and opened his camera, lifting his phone and angling it properly. He waited for about a minute until Jean stopped at a red light, then said, “Hey Jean.”

“Yeah, what?” His friend turned with a ridiculous expression on his face and, with all the luck he suddenly had, Eren actually got the photo. And he was going to blow it up and frame it and hang it on his wall, it was that perfect an expression.

“What the—Did you just take a picture of me?!” Jean demanded, trying to reach back for Eren’s phone while he kept it out of reach.

“Jean, the light!” Mikasa snapped.

“Delete that!” he ordered, facing forward again and beginning to drive. “I swear, Jaeger, you better delete that or else!”

Ignoring Jean and grinning at the perfect picture, he sent it to Hannah and waited.

[The Bae <3]
OMG!
[The Bae <3]
THAT IS THE BEST PICTURE I HAVE EVER SEEN!
[The Bae <3]
I’m sorry, wasn’t he the one saying he was a God and I’d wanna bang him?

[JaegerMeister]
That was him :)

[The Bae <3]
Wooooow
[The Bae <3]
Yeah, I’m good.
[The Bae <3]
No need for me to go for a lesser model when the one I’ve got is good enough.
[The Bae <3]
It would LITERALLY be like be going for an XBox when I’ve got an XBox One.

Eren burst out laughing at that, which instantly had Jean turn to try and grab the phone. Mikasa didn’t appreciate that since he was still driving and Armin looked terrified for his life.

After getting everyone in the car under control, Eren paused in his reply to Hannah when Armin spoke.

“What are her friends like?”

His fingers froze at those words, and slowly, panic started to build up inside him. He struggled not to look at Armin and pretended to continue typing, even though he wasn’t.

“Her friends?” he asked, hoping his voice didn’t sound as high as it felt.

“Yeah,” Armin said cheerfully. That meant he didn’t catch Eren’s hesitance, which was good. “I mean, it’s not like the two of you are always alone together, right?”

“Of course not!” Eren turned to him, trying to sound a little offended but feeling more like he sounded panicked. “We hang out with her friends! And mine!”

“What are they like?” Mikasa asked from the front. Eren’s gaze shifted to her when she turned to look at him. Shit, he could feel himself beginning to sweat.

“Well, you know... I don’t really know them that well.” Not a lie.

“Oh. You should try and change that.” She faced forward again. “You two seem really serious, so you should try and get along with her friends.”

“Right. Her friends.”

This service was meant to be helping him, not making his life miserable and his bank account deplete.

Why was this happening to him?

TBC...

Chapter Text

“So you’re coming over tonight, right? You know I hate being in this big, scary apartment all by myself.”

Then why do you live alone, moron? “You know it, babe. I’d never let you spend even one night scared and alone.”

“You’re such a sweetheart, Mark. I’m so lucky to have you in my life.”

And for so cheap, too. “I’m lucky to have you in my life, too.” Not enough. “I’m so incredibly thankful that we bumped into each other that day.” Better.

“Me too. And guess what? I even have a surprise for you.”

Oh great, here we go. “You do? If I ask what it is, will you tell me?”

“Maybe. Here’s a little hint. What are you wearing?”

Clothing. Also, breach of contract. “I’m sorry Melody, you know I can’t answer that question.”

“Oh my Gosh! Oh, I’m so sorry!” She sounded so flustered, it was as if he’d just told her she was caught lying to a cop. Maybe she was scared that was enough to get her account suspended. Or worse: banned. 

“It’s okay. Maybe we should call it a night. I’ll be over later, okay?”

“Yes! Yes, I can’t wait,” she said, sounding relieved. “Good night Mark. I love you.”

Fuckin’ weirdo, who says that to a stranger you’re paying to be your boyfriend? “Love you too, babe. Good night.”

He hung up the phone and tossed it onto the coffee table, annoyed and feeling like the call had lasted way too long. Not to mention he hated the ones who believed the service was real. They had about a fifty-fifty split between people who needed the service to get family and friends off their backs, and sad, lonely people who wanted to believe this was all real.

Levi did not understand how they were satisfied with that. Seriously, wasn’t it more depressing for Melody to know that, despite the words she’d just heard, she would still be spending the night all by herself in her supposedly ‘big, scary apartment’? It was ridiculous.

A giggle from down the corridor alerted him to Hanji’s appearance, his roommate wandering towards the kitchen giggling like an idiot. “Oh stop,” they insisted into their phone. “You’re gonna make me blush.”

Looked like Erwin had finally caved and given Hanji a caller profile.

Levi snorted at the thought, snatching up the remote and turning on the television. He was in the process of looking for something to watch when his computer chimed, informing him of a new message. Leaning over and tugging it onto his lap, he opened the appropriate tab and scrolled through his clients until he found the speech bubble.

It was beside the handoff. Again. Couldn’t this kid do anything without someone holding his hand?

His thoughts stuttered to a halt when he remembered how personal Eren had gotten that afternoon, talking to him about his sister. It had been a sad story, and reading it had reminded Levi of his own upbringing.

Moving away from dangerous thoughts, he clicked on the new message and read it over quickly before replying.

[Eren Jaeger]
Hi P.R!
Really sorry to bug you again, but another situation’s come up. My friends were talking to me about Hannah (you) and they brought up her friends and I realized that, well, we go to University and it’d be weird if we both lived in the dorms and she didn’t have any friends. So I told them she had some and then couldn’t really say any more because I tried to insist that I didn’t know them that well.
They’re now insisting that I get closer to her friends since Hannah (you) and I seem pretty serious. Obviously this is a problem since you’re not real. Well, you’re REAL but you’re not, you know... real. Help?
Eren.

Levi let out a slow sigh at the fact that Eren kept finding the need to mention that Hannah was, in fact, him. He was well aware of that, which made his clarification ridiculous.

Hearing Hanji emerging from the kitchen, he called for them to boil some water for him so he could make tea, but the retreating footsteps down the corridor suggested they’d ignored him. Probably their little retaliation for him not going to get them cake.

Eren,
Thank you for your message.
We have had this come up in the past, and therefore have a solution in place for instances such as this. You are able to purchase “friend profiles” for an additional $15 per profile. If you have a preference on gender or availability (ie: calls, texts, etc) please let me know. We can have the profiles ready for you within the hour after confirmation of acceptance and any additional details you have to add.
P.R.

Setting his laptop down on the coffee table again, Levi stood to head towards the kitchen to heat up some water to make tea. He was staring at the kettle while it boiled, thinking about Eren’s request.

He’d really been enjoying speaking to Eren, and it had only been two days. He knew it was mostly because he got to be himself, but he also felt like it was a little tiny itty bitty bit also because of Eren himself. As dumb as he could sometimes be—in Levi’s opinion, anyway—he was kind of a different character from the people he was used to. And even just people he knew in general. He was so open and honest, and even though he kept talking about a temper, he hadn’t blown up once.

In truth, especially after the annoying call he’d just had, he really liked talking to Eren. It felt easy and natural.

When he wandered back out into the living room with his tea, Hanji was there playing a game on the Wii again. Levi ignored what it was and just moved to sit on the couch in his usual spot, back against the arm rest and setting his tea down on the side table behind his head. He saw he had a reply from Eren and figured the poor kid was desperate.

[Eren Jaeger]
Omg, yes! And thank you for answering so fast, you’re the best!
I need two. Like, right now. They’re bugging me about making friendly with Hannah’s two best friends. I’m typing this on my phone in the bathroom just to get away from them!
As quickly as possible, thank you so, so much!
Eren.

“Shit.” Levi flipped to Skype and quickly found Erwin’s name before calling it. Hanji turned upon hearing the sounds the program made during a call, but he didn’t say anything to them.

After almost twenty seconds, Erwin finally answered. His hair was wet and he had a towel around his waist, bent down in front of his computer and obviously having jumped out of the shower.

“Levi. You rarely call. What is it?”

“Petra’s handoff has a mini-emergency,” he said, his phone going off. He grabbed at it quickly and checked his messages. It was from Eren, so he didn’t answer right away. It shouldn’t be weird, not everyone had their phones superglued to their hands. “He needs her to have friends. He asked for two. I’ll get everything billed through to him, but he needs them pretty much right now.”

Erwin nodded, taking a seat and obviously opening another chat since he began to type. “Understood. I’ll see if I can get Sasha right now, and check on people’s availability for the second one.”

“Actually...” Levi didn’t know where the word came from, but he saw Erwin pause in his typing when he said it. For some reason—and he had no idea why—he didn’t want to have to share Eren with other people. Especially not Potato Girl, which was his official name for Sasha since the one and only time he’d met her was at Thanksgiving at Erwin’s and she’d literally eaten all the mashed potatoes. Literally. Every last bite. She’d practically licked the bowl.

“Actually?”

“I was thinking maybe Hanji and I could be the two friends.” In his mind he’d blurted the words out, but aloud, he realized he had sounded as casual and aloof as he usually did.

Hanji looked like Christmas had come early and eagerly jumped onto the couch beside him.

“Oh yes! Yes, can we?! I would love to be Eren’s friend!”

Levi knew his boss was back on his chat screen now, watching him with interest.

“You would like to be one of the two friends?”

“It’s efficient.” He shrugged. “Hanji and I live together, I know the brat, and it’ll be easy to flip back and forth. And this way you’re not down any additional people since they don’t have to read up on his profile and spend time fitting in with my persona.”

“What does Hanji think?” Erwin asked, even though Levi was positive he’d heard them freaking out a second ago.

“Hanji loves the little shit. They pay more attention to him than I do.”

“Yes, yes! I want to hug him and squeeze him and see what makes him tick!” Hanji said loudly, that same maniacal gleam in their eye that they usually had while killing people in Halo.

Levi was going to have to remember to lock his door tonight.

“All right. I suppose this is fairly useful, given I don’t have to find anyone and you can both type up and send out your profiles immediately.”

That really relieved Levi, for some reason. Shit, he was getting attached to the handoff. That wasn’t good.

“But—be careful, Levi. One mistake and it’ll blow up in your face.”

“It’ll be fine, I know what I’m doing.”

“Okay. Bill him and get it done then.” 

Nodding, Levi ended the call and quickly opened one of their templates on the site for the additional parties. He looked at Hanji before beginning to type.

“I’m gonna give him my XBox name so we can play and chat and stuff. Are you okay being on the client one pretending to be Hannah whenever I need both on at the same time?”

“Sure.” Hanji shrugged. “You can put me down for texting and non-verbal XBox. I’d love to get to know Eren.”

The scary look was back. Levi was definitely locking his door tonight.

“Real name?”

“Sure.” Hanji shrugged. “Not like he’ll know.”

“I’m gonna put down one long-time childhood friend and one university friend, which do you wanna be?”

They thought about it for a second, staring at Levi. “Hard to say. You’re such a dick sometimes it’d be hard to imagine someone putting up with you for years and years.”

“You’re one to talk, shitty-glasses,” Levi insisted.

“Well, I’m more likable.” They grinned. “Besides, if you’re her longest friend, it’ll explain why you’ll both say similar things sometimes.”

“Good point.” Levi began typing, filling in all the applicable points before flipping it to Hanji to read over. Once they nodded their agreement, he attached it to Eren’s profile and linked him to it.

Eren,
The profiles have been created. Please go here.
Let me know if you need anything further. Your account has been billed $30+tax.
P.R.

“Can you bill him?” He handed his computer to Hanji. “I need to reply.”

“Sure.”

Levi grabbed his phone to respond to his text.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Sorry for the long silence
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Got distracted on the way home from the movie.

[User]
No prob :)
[User]
Was it good?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Honestly I wasn’t really paying attention.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Tired.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
And thinking of you ^_^;;

Levi wondered if that was true, and in what capacity. Was he turning into one of the crazies who believed this was real? Or was he thinking about Hannah in a more subdued way, like wondering if the answers she’d given were true or not?

[User]
Isn’t the horse keeping you company?
[User]
You’re a good skirt, I’m sure he’d be more than happy to help you out while I’m not there ;)

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Hey!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Mean!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I am NOT the skirt in our relationship!

[User]
Keep telling yourself that, sweetie ;)

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Biiiiiitch!

[User]
Excuse me?
[User]
Wow. No more sexy lingerie pictures for YOU.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
You haven’t even sent me one yet! What do you mean “no more”?!

[User]
Maybe I was GOING to.
[User]
Not anymore.

He wondered if Eren had seen his message. He knew the other was just stalling, and in a way, Levi was trying to help him, but similarly he wanted to get the ball rolling.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
BIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Oh hey, question for you.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
You know that one friend you have? The gamer guy?

“There we go,” Levi said.

[User]
Who, Levi?
[User]
What about him?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Yeah, him.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Do you think we could play Halo with him one day?
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I don’t really know your friends that well, and you and him have been close for a while, right?

[User]
Since birth.
[User]
I can ask him if he’s available.
[User]
I’m not home right now, but I can give him your handle and you guys can play for a while.
[User]
JaegerMeister, right?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Yeah, that’d be great!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Yeah :) That’s me.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
The horse wants to join, that cool?

[User]
Sure.
[User]
I’ll let him know.
[User]
Also Hanji wants your number.
[User]
Needs to talk to you about something.
[User]
Probably my surprise birthday party that really isn’t a surprise when Hanji’s involved.
[User]
And also not something I’m happy about since you know how I feel about parties.
[User]
Can I give them your number?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Yeah, of course! :)
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
And just TRY to act surprised and happy, would you?
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
It’s not our fault your friends have big mouths.

“You have no idea,” Levi said with a snort, texting back while nudging Hanji. “Go play in your room. I need this XBox.”

“Politeness goes a long way, you know,” Hanji insisted.

“Get off your fat ass and go away.”

Hanji turned to grin at him but complied despite the offensive words, quitting the game in the middle of the level they were in and standing. “Have fun with Eren!”

“Grab his number off his profile so that you can bug him instead of me.”

[User]
No promises :P
[User]
Anyway, I have to go. Levi said he’ll add you in a sec.
[User]
Talk to you later, lover!

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Have fun! And thanks for lending me Levi :P
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Later babe!

Levi still didn’t know why he liked this guy, he could be such an idiot. But he did, for whatever reason.

“Hanji,” he called. “You’re contacting him to plan Hannah’s surprise party.”

“But if I know about it, it’s not a surprise,” they called back.

“I know, that’s what I said.”

Knowing Hanji was a lazy shit, Levi copied Eren’s contact on his phone before scrolling through the rest of his contacts, finding Hanji’s name and sending it to them so they would have Eren’s number. Then, he set his phone down and quickly booted up his XBox. Getting into his own profile, Humanitys_Strongest, he added Eren’s name and waited.

It took about a minute before his friend request was accepted and he smirked, grabbing his headset and putting it on. This was going to be interesting, he wondered what Eren sounded like.


Eren was getting his headset on when he got the alert in his inbox about a friend request. Jean and Armin had left not too long ago and Mikasa was helping their mother make dinner. Since his dad was out, he’d finally gotten around to unpacking and booting up his XBox. He knew he could’ve just left it in storage, but he probably would’ve had a heart attack being away from it for that long so he’d brought it home.

Besides, if he didn’t stay on top of his game, Jean would outrank him and he really couldn’t deal with that. He’d been ahead of him ever since Halo Reach had come out, and he’d be damned if he fell behind him over the summer because he hadn’t brought his XBox home.

Accepting the friend request from Humanitys_Strongest, Eren waited until he showed up in his friends list and then added him to his party. He didn’t know if the other had a headset but changed the settings anyway so that when Jean logged in he could hear him. He ensured it was set to ‘party’ and fiddled with the volume when a voice spoke in his ear.

“No one else in our party, so I’m free to talk. Are you alone?”

Wow, this guy’s got a deep voice, Eren realized. It had to be the Levi guy from the profile. He wondered if he and PR were real friends.

“Yeah,” he admitted, finding it weird to be talking to someone he didn’t know. It was different in-game when it was for ass-kicking purposes, but like this, waiting for Jean... it was weird.

“How do you pronounce your last name? Is it Jaeger?” he asked, pronouncing it correctly.

“Yeah.”

“Wow, you’re super chatty,” the other said dryly. “This is gonna be a fun game if you sit there all timid and scared.”

“Wha—I’m not scared!” Eren insisted angrily. “I’m just... This is weird. I don’t know you.”

“You’re not meant to know me, that’s the point. I’m Hannah’s friend.”

“Right.” Eren fiddled with his controller, wishing Jean would hurry up and log on. “Um, so is your name actually Levi or... I can call you something else. Like, I don’t know, Bob or something.”

“What?” the other’s voice had darkened. “No you’re not fucking calling me Bob, what the hell is wrong with you? My name is Levi, whether it’s real or not is none of your fucking business.”

Wow, okay, not someone to piss off.

“Right, sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. It’s a sign of weakness.”

“Uh, okay?” How was he supposed to respond to that? “So... are you often on someone’s friend profile?”

“No.”

“Oh. Sorry, I feel like this must be a pain for you.” He realized he’d apologized, and promptly apologized for apologizing before just shutting up. He’d never wished for Jean to hurry up so much in his life.

“I’m getting paid for this, why do you care?”

“Well, you’re still a real person, right? I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than talk to people all day, pretend to be someone you’re not.”

“It’s my job.”

“Yeah but... I don’t know, must kind of suck not being able to be yourself.”

He didn’t get a response to that and wondered if this was similar to his PR conversation. They weren’t friends, so him trying to be friendly was only pissing the other off, most likely.

An alert popped up and he sighed in relief at seeing Jean’s name, getting ready to add him to the party when Levi spoke and he froze.

“I can be myself here. I’m not your girlfriend, I’m her best friend. You’re not paying me to be nice to you, so I’m not gonna hold back if you suck at this game.”

“Right,” Eren said uncertainly. “Um, I’m adding Jean now.”

“Go for it. But just know that if your stupid horse sucks,” Levi was saying while Eren added Jean in. He figured it was best to do so while in the middle of a sentence, or else it would be weird. “I’m gonna kill him myself.”

“Kill who?” Jean’s voice asked. “Who is this?”

“Santa Claus. I heard you wanted a saddle for Christmas this year, little horse.”

“Jesus Christ, Eren! How many assholes have you told about your nickname for me?” Jean demanded angrily.

“I also got a nice picture of your horsish face. You could eat corn off the cob through a picket fence with those teeth.”

“Dude! What the fuck?! Who is this?!”

Eren could only assume Hannah had sent Levi the picture of Jean, and he found that infinitely hilarious, laughing loudly and shaking his head.

“Jean, this is Levi. He’s Hannah’s best friend. Levi, this is Jean. He’s kinda sorta my best friend.”

“Best friend, huh? So your girlfriend’s best friend is a guy? He probably wants to bang her,” Jean said rudely, which pissed Eren off but before he could say anything, Levi interjected.

“So that means you wanna bang Eren? I’ll have to let Hannah know that her worries of the horse stealing her boyfriend over the summer have some basis.”

“What the fuck?! I’m not gay!”

“And I don’t love Hannah, but according to you, that’s how the whole best friend thing works. How it actually works is that Jaeger gets every bone in his body broken if he hurts her.”

“Oh yeah?! Well if you touch a hair on Eren’s head, his sister’s gonna murder you!”

“Hiding behind girls, huh little horse? Makes sense, you sound like you’d need a girl to fight your battles for you.” 

“Okay!” Eren said loudly. “Let’s play some Halo Reach now! Come on, let’s get in there!” He waited for the other two to grumble that they were ready, then said, “I’m putting us into the matchmaker now. You both okay with Team Swat?”

“Whatever,” Jean said, clearly pouting. “As long as Captain Asshole doesn’t totally screw us over.”

“Maybe you should look at our ranks and think twice before opening that shithole mouth of yours.”

Eren realized even he hadn’t checked Levi’s stats and his eyes bulged when he saw what he was. A Lieutenant Colonel Grade Two. He’d never met anyone higher than a Major Grade One. Hell, even Eren had spent forever playing and he was still only a Captain. Jean was always one step behind him, sitting at a Warrant Officer Grade Three. But Levi was three ranks away from being at the halfway mark to the top rank.

“What the fuck! You’re a Lieutenant Colonel?! Jesus, you’ve got too much free time,” Jean said insultingly.

Eren really hoped the matchmaker hurried itself up before a fullblown fight broke out. Thankfully as he was thinking this, they got their last player and he quickly voted for the same map as the others. The countdown appeared and his screen went black for a second before he appeared on the map. Switching out from his pistol to his rifle, he moved forward with his character, trying to make it to the red team before they had a chance to camp. He had a bad relationship with campers, which was probably why he and Jean fought so much given that was what his friend always did.

“Wait a damn second, asshole, are you camping?!” Levi’s voice demanded angrily. “Jaeger, you have a dickward camper friend?! That’s bullshit!”

“Don’t be jealous because I play better than you.”

“Tell that to my stats, horseface!”

Eren let out one sharp laugh at that only because that was what he called Jean in his phone. He ignored them otherwise, managing to get two nice kills in before being taken out. They looked like they weren’t doing too bad based on the score, but one of their randoms was sucking hard. He kept dying in the stupidest ways and Eren almost wanted him to quit because he was lowering their score.

“What the fuck, asshole!” Jean suddenly shouted. “Did you just shoot me?!” 

“I’m sorry,” Levi responded, not sounding sorry at all. “I didn’t see you there, maybe if you moved around I wouldn’t have accidentally shot you.”

“That was a God damn headshot, you fucking aimed for me!”

“I thought you were part of the scenery, horses exist in Halo, right?”

Eren knew they were going to lose mostly because some of their team sucked, but also because he was busy killing himself laughing and not paying attention to the game, and Levi seemed intent on taking out Jean every chance he got for being “a dickward camper.”

Needless to say, they did not win.


“I gotta go, dinner’s ready. Later Kamikaze. Bye asshole.” 

“Enjoy your hay.”

“Fuck you!” Jean’s name disappeared from the party and Levi couldn’t help but chuckle. He understood now why Eren was so annoyed about him all the time, and why he made fun of him so much. It was entertaining. Not that annoying Eren wasn’t also entertaining, as he’d discovered, but still.

“You are welcome to play with us any time you want,” Eren’s voice said. “Not only are you baller at this game, but listening to you bug Jean was the highlight of my year.”

Levi half-smiled at that, fingers running lightly along the buttons on his controller. Eren had a nice voice. For a kid, anyway. It suited him well, and he liked that he could picture the other’s face when he spoke.

His laugh was deafening though, Levi had had to ask him more than once to lower the decibels on his hyena impression before he went deaf. Apparently that just made him laugh harder. Eren was weird.

“Um, thanks. You can do other stuff now, I guess.”

Ready to call it a night and leave, Levi suddenly found that he wasn’t exactly ready to go yet. He had Eren on voicechat, and was going to be able to talk to him as himself. Besides, it wasn’t like he had any clients aside from Eren who needed him right now, which actually reminded him that Hannah should text him.

“I’ve got nowhere to be,” he said, picking up his phone and moving to Eren’s contact. “We can keep playing if you want.”

“Really?” Eren sounded so happy it was like Levi had just told him he’d won the lottery. “That’d be awesome! I need to stay ahead of Jean, he always says he’s gonna beat my rank and I’ve only barely been able to stay ahead of him.”

“Shouldn’t be hard, he’s a dickwad camper. I’ll just keep headshotting him until he stops being an asshole and starts actually playing.”

Eren laughed again, a sound chiming on his end, and Levi realized it was his phone going off from the message he’d just sent.

“Oh hey, Hannah’s home. Are you—are you and Hannah actually friends?” he asked. Before Levi could answer, he rushed on. “Sorry, I shouldn’t ask that. She’d get mad about it, insist I was acting like this was real and all. I was just curious. Sorry.” 

“It’s fine,” Levi said, wondering why he was bothering to be nice about it. “But yeah, we’ve actually known each other since birth.” Not a lie, considering he was Hannah.

“Really? That’s kind of cool that you both work for this same company. Do you like it?”

“I sit on my ass and get paid to play videogames with clients all day. Yeah, it’s pretty great.”

“Are you still playing?” Hanji asked from the kitchen doorway, Levi turning to regard them. “Dinner’s not gonna make itself.”

“Then make it yourself, shitty-glasses,” Levi insisted back.

“Who was that?” 

“Hanji. You spoke to them earlier, I think.”

“Oh. Yeah, they texted. Um, they’re... interesting?”

“That’s a polite way to say they’re annoying.”

“I can hear you, you know!” Hanji insisted from the kitchen. “Careful or I’ll spit in your kettle!”

“Spit in my kettle and I’ll castrate you,” Levi snapped.

“Can’t cut off what I might not even have!”

Before Levi could retort, he heard Eren laughing again. He wanted to be annoyed about it, but it was hard when he sounded so jovial. It kind of explained why he was how he was in the texts. He was just genuinely happy and fun. It kind of made Levi feel like he should stop giving him such a hard time.

“So you and Hanji are... dating?”

“We’re just roommates.”

“Wow, you’re surrounded by people who work with you. That must be kinda cool.” 

“I guess.” Levi kind of wanted to start a new game, but also knew he should probably eat. It was almost eight, and he was actually quite hungry.

“I just got called for dinner, so I have to go. Um... before I do, how does this... work?”

“Work?”

“You know, we played once today, but I know in my contract with Hannah I only have one gameplay with her. How does it work with you?” 

“Technically the service you paid for with Hannah is more inclusive. I only exist to prove to others that she does, so really we can play an unlimited amount of time.”

“What? No you can’t.”

Levi picked up the TV remote control and hurled it at Hanji’s head. They ducked, the item smashing against the wall and most likely breaking to an unfixable degree.

“That could severely injure someone!”

“Is everything okay? I keep hearing your roommate.” 

“It’s fine, Hanji just dropped something. Whenever you want to play, just let me know. I’m always available for Halo.”

“Awesome, thanks Levi! It was nice meeting you! Talk to you again soon!” 

Levi didn’t say anything, he just left the party and then turned to look at Hanji, pulling the headseat off. He was annoyed at their constant interrupting, he’d been trying to have a conversation with Eren.

His phone went off and he grabbed it, noting it was from Eren. He had to remind himself that he was being Hannah on the phone and not Levi. They weren’t very different, but he still had to be careful.

[User]
Uuugh, finally home!
[User]
Longest and most boring day EVER!
[User]
Levi didn’t text me ALL night! Did you hog him? I shouldn’t have let you guys play together, now you’re BOTH going to ignore me.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Haha, sorry babe
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
We were still playing, yeah, but I had to go eat dinner.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
You can probably text him now :)

[User]
Why would I text him when I can talk to you, lover? ;)
[User]
Did you have fun?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
OMG
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I love that guy!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
He spent the whole time insulting Jean!

[User]
You LOVE him?!

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
It was awesome!

[User]
Oh. Good.
[User]
Makes sense, the horse seems easy to rile up.
[User]
Still, you need to stop being in such high demand.
[User]
First the horse is stealing you, now my own best friend?
[User]
I’m gonna need to talk to Levi.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Noooooooo
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Don’t take him away from me!!!!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
He’s so funny and amazing at Halo!!!!

Levi couldn’t help the small smile threatening to cross his lips at those words. People didn’t often find him funny, he was usually labelled as rude because he had no brain-mouth filter. He felt like there was no point. If someone was an idiot, he was going to tell them they were an idiot.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
I have to go to dinner though, I’ll text you after, okay? :)

[User]
As long as you’re serious and not actually going off to text Levi behind my back.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Haha promise <3
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Also, I don’t have his number, or else I would :P
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Tty in a bit :)

[User]
Ass!
[User]
You better.

Levi tossed his phone aside, another message from another client having come through but he ignored it for the moment. There was no rush, he could take two minutes to grab himself some food before he starved to death.

Entering the kitchen, he found Hanji at the stove cooking some kind of pasta in a cream sauce. He assumed it was all from a package since Hanji couldn’t cook, and it hadn’t been long enough for them to make something extravagant.

“What did you and Eren talk about?” he asked, grabbing a mug from one of the cupboards and starting the kettle after making sure it had enough water.

Eren, huh?” Hanji asked, a teasing tone in their voice. “What happened to ‘the handoff’ or ‘the brat’?”

Levi said nothing and just turned to lock eyes with Hanji, waiting for their impatience to make them answer his question. His roommate smiled a little then turned back to the stove to continue mixing their dinner, Levi having to contemplate what he was going to eat.

“I just talked to him about Hannah’s birthday, and then asked him how he felt taking part in an experiment when we all went back to school.”

“Experiment?” Levi asked.

“Of course! I am in the Faculty of Science, after all.” The creepy gleam was back in Hanji’s eyes when they turned to look at him, further reminding Levi to lock his door tonight.

“You are so damn weird,” he insisted, moving towards the fridge to see if he had any leftovers he could eat.

“And what about you, Levi? How was your night with Eren?”

He was getting annoyed Hanji kept implying things with their tone, but to avoid being bothered, he half-shrugged, still perusing the contents of their fridge.

“He’s not boring.”

“Amen!”

TBC...

Chapter Text

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Do you think deep sea-dwelling creatures can dispose of a body?

Levi’s chewing slowed upon seeing the text message on his home screen, sandwich held in one hand and eyes staring down at the words he read.

Sadly, this wasn’t a new occurrence. Levi often found himself staring incredulously at his phone because of something Eren had said to him. He’d been talking to this kid for almost a week and a half, at this point, and had come to terms with the fact that he was extremely weird.

Entertaining, no doubt about that, but really, really weird.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Like, idk, an angler-fish?
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Those are the ones with the light on their head, right?
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
From Finding Nemo?

Levi was a little concerned by this point. While Eren always tended to have weird conversations with him, this whole body disposal thing was a first, and for one crazy second, he wondered if maybe Hanji had killed someone and asked Eren for advice on how to get rid of a body and since he didn’t know, he’d gone to Levi.

Then Levi wondered if the murder hadn’t yet taken place, and he was about to help plan his own body disposal considering Hanji was still pissed at him for eating their last waffle two morning ago.

[User]
...
[User]
wtf
[User]
Babe...
[User]
Did you kill someone?
[User]
I don’t want to be an accessory to murder here

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
LMAO! No no!!!!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I was just watching a TV show and was thinking about the best way to dispose of a body

Somehow, that wasn’t making him feel any better. If he didn’t know he could easily kick Hanji’s ass, he would probably be a bit more worried. Though it did prompt him to set a reminder to lock his door tonight. He didn’t want to wake up with Hanji standing over him brandishing a knife.

Sometimes, he felt like he should be concerned about how often those thoughts came to him about his roommate.

Levi took another bite of his lunch while Eren continued to type, explaining why he was asking about body disposal.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
The guy in the show did it wrong.

[User]
Define wrong 

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
He just dumped the body in the woods!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Who does that?!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Kinda stupid, imo

[User]
Huh

Levi paused in his typing, chewing slowly on his last bite of sandwich and thinking about the best way to dispose of a body. There were a lot of different ways it could be done, and the more he thought about it, the more disturbed he got at how good he realized he would be at it.

Deciding to just stick to Eren’s question, he replied.

[User]
If you tried to dispose of a body in the ocean, you would need to weigh it down.
[User]
And consider that you probably wouldn’t make it out as far as you’d need to for the deep sea creatures.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Oh right... Weight... duh...
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Yeah, that’s true
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Well, there’s always sharks!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Thanks Hannah :D

[User]
You’re not ACTUALLY about to dispose of a body, right...?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
No, of course not!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
...
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
So when we’re talking about the deep sea thing...
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
How far out EXACTLY are you thinking?

Levi managed to contain his smile before Hanji caught him, but he had to admit, Eren was a lot more entertaining than any other clients he’d ever had. Usually the ones who used the service to get family off their back were awkward and barely spoke to him, which was usually fine since it allowed him to just cruise through the contract.

The others over-talked to him, acting like if they weren’t texting him every second, it would prove to their families that it was all a lie.

Eren was different. He texted him frequently, but he was never just texting him about the weather or other stupid things. Well, yes, his texts were stupid, but in an entertaining way. Like asking things like this, or wondering about Levi’s superpower preferences, or making random comments that often had the older man questioning his sanity.

He was different, and that made him fun. Levi was actually looking forward to talking to him now, as opposed to dreading it. And he really enjoyed playing Halo with him and Jean, even though he spent most of his time making fun of the other’s friend. It was just nice to be able to be himself.

[User]
You’re an idiot

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
An ADORABLE idiot!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
8D

[User]
Still an idiot 

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
YOUR idiot 8D

[User]
Might not be for long if you’re this weird 

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
D:
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Harsh :(
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Careful, or I’ll ditch you for Levi

[User]
He’s not even home
[User]
He’s texting me pictures of two old ladies fighting over a toy at the store

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
WHAT?!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
OMG!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
LET ME SEE!

Smirking slightly, Levi scrolled through his pictures for the photo he’d taken the day before—and sent to Hanji—and then sent it along to Eren. He honestly didn’t know the context behind the fight, but he’d been walking through the kid’s aisle to buy Hanji’s birthday present—yes, that was where he went for Hanji’s present—and was suddenly in the middle of a fight between two ladies wrestling for some kind of dollhouse. When it ended up getting knocked out of one lady’s hands and they continued to fight, he realized they were too busy to notice him so he scooped the toy up and bought it himself for his roommate.

Of course, he couldn’t tell Eren that as Hannah, but maybe if the other mentioned it while they were playing later he could bring up the backstory.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Oh my god Hannah
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I love Levi
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
He is the best of everyone ever!

Ignoring why those words made a warmth spread through his chest, Levi replied back just as another message from another client appeared on his screen.

[User]
Excuse me, asshole! The best of EVERYONE ever?
[User]
Someone is SERIOUSLY skirting the being single line.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Nooooooooooooooooooo
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
That’s not what I meant, that’s not what I meant!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Babe don’t hate meeeeeeeee!

Another text appeared on his screen and he scowled, annoyed that other people were bugging him, but clicked open the other client’s window.

[Client 1112 - Joanna]
Hey Trevor, I just got off work~
[Client 1112 - Joanna]
Entertain me on the drive home? ;)

Staring down at the words in annoyance, Levi contemplated ignoring her but then realized that would come back to Erwin, and he didn’t want to be on his bad side. The call shouldn’t take long, and maybe if he said he had to go, he could log onto Halo and play with Eren. He liked talking more than texting, anyway.

Moving back into the living room so he could look through his clients for this one—she was relatively new—he found her profile and replied accordingly.

[User]
No problem, Joanna Bobanna
[User]
I’ll call you right now, but make sure you’re using bluetooth! ;)

It made him want to gag, he hated these ones. If only she’d chosen someone else, he wouldn’t be in this mess, but since she’d wanted pictures and phonecalls, choosing him pretty much meant he had to be the one assigned to her.

He hated these lovey-dovey types.

Flipping back to Eren’s text message, he rolled his eyes at the messages he’d continued to get while in the other text screen and quickly typed out a reply before his delay in calling Joanna made her call him.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I’m sorryyyyyy!!!!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Hannaaaaaaah
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Hannah
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Hannah
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Hannah
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Come oooon, babe!

[User]
Calm down, I was just putting our body disposal conversation to the test

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
O_o
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
Meaning what... exactly?

[User]
Don’t expect to see Levi on any time soon, he’s decided to take up swimming >)

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
LOL!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
You’re so jealous
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)] 
It’s kind of adorable

[User]
Possessive
[User]
There’s a difference
[User]
Anyway, I actually have to go. I have plans tonight.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Better not be with a guy...

[User]
NOW who’s jealous?
[User]
Don’t worry, your boyfriend should be home within the hour. You boys can go kill things together.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Oh, sweet!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I mean... awwww, I’d rather spend time with you!

[User]
Hilarious, Jaeger.

Levi felt he should’ve been more concerned than he was at the fact that he’d spelled Eren’s name correctly without having to double-check the other’s profile.

[User]
I’ll talk to you later
[User]
Have a good night Lover~

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
You too! Have fun with your plans! :)

Deciding not to respond to that, Levi opened his contacts and found the other client’s number before taking a slow, calming breath and hitting the call button.

This was going to be a very unhappy half hour. Thank God he had Halo plans with Eren after this.


“I still think dumping a body in the ocean is the better way to go,” Eren insisted, tapping his phone against his thigh almost impatiently. He knew not to expect any more texts from Hannah, but he was so used to talking to her now that it made him anxious when he didn’t have her right there on the other end.

His dependence on someone he didn’t even know was actually a little frightening, and he worried about what would happen when summer ended. After all, he didn’t want to become one of those crazies who thought this was real and hire an investigator to find her or something.

Besides, she was too good for him, so even if he wanted to pursue this—which he wouldn’t, because that was crazy—he wouldn’t stand a chance.

“The ocean is a bad idea,” Jean insisted, tilting his head back and tossing a piece of popcorn into the air, catching it in his mouth and chewing. “I think the killer had the right idea, he just didn’t execute it properly, is all.”

“I disagree.” Armin piped in. “I believe that erasing all evidence would be the smartest way to go. Burning the body to ash would be the best way to remove all evidence, including the person’s own identity, in most cases.”

Eren and Jean shared a look before the latter grinned. “Wow Armin, look at you. Getting all morbid and killer-like. That girlfriend’s really changed you, normally you’d never be involved in a conversation like this.”

Red began to creep up along Armin’s cheeks and he began to stutter, insisting he was just trying to join the conversation, which was quickly shot down when Mikasa snapped at them to stop talking or leave the room, since she was the only one really paying attention to the show they were watching.

Since Eren’s parents had taken off for a few days, his friends had decided to come over and watch a Criminal Minds marathon, which Mikasa had been all for considering she loved that show. So far, they’d done more talking than actual watching, and his sister kept threatening to hurt them if they didn’t shut up.

Normally, that wouldn’t be too much of a concern for Eren, since she’d never hurt him, but she’d been in a crabby mood all day and he actually felt like this might be the one time she decided to take him out.

Maybe it was her time of the month, but Eren wasn’t stupid enough to ask. He’d lived with her for years, he knew better.

“What happened to Hannah?” Armin suddenly asked a few minutes later, Eren’s gaze shifting away from the screen and to his friend.

“What?”

“You were texting up a storm a few minutes ago, and now you haven’t checked your phone for a while.” He motioned the Iphone Eren was still tapping against his thigh. “What happened?”

“Oh, she said she had plans,” he muttered, somewhat grumpily.

“She’s cheating on you,” Jean sing-songed quietly.

Eren kicked him hard in the back of the head, since his friend was on the ground in front of him. “Fuck you, she is not cheating on me!”

I’d cheat on a short-tempered asshole like you if I was dating you,” Jean snapped back, rubbing at his head and scowling angrily at Eren.

“Well you’re not dating me!”

“Thank God, or I’d—”

“Shut up!” Mikasa turned to them both, eyes blazing. “Dr. Reid is saying something and I’m missing it! Go fight outside!”

“Sorry Mikasa,” Jean practically cooed. “We’ll stop talking, so sorry.”

Rolling his eyes at his friend, he turned to Armin who just offered him a small smile and a shrug. Deciding he was done with this, and knowing Levi would probably be home soon, he climbed over the back of the couch to not displace anyone else around him and headed for the stairs, shoving his phone into his back pocket.

Was it sad he was going to play videogames with someone who wasn’t actually his friend instead of hanging out with his real friends?

Probably, so he tried not to dwell on it.

Entering his room and shutting his door, he turned on his XBox, put on his headset and started up Halo Reach. His friends list didn’t show Levi online—or Jean, which made sense, since he was downstairs. One of his other university friends invited him into a party and he played with them for a while, figuring he might as well try and up his rank a bit more while he had the chance.

After about twenty minutes, he got an alert that someone new was online, and instantly got a message. Levi wanted to join his party, but since he wasn’t actually in charge of it, and his other friend didn’t have a headset, he just messaged back saying he would finish this one game and then switch parties.

Apparently Levi was impatient, because he sent a request for them to chat while Eren was still in his other party. He accepted.

“Impatient much?”

“I had a shitty day brat, don’t piss me off. Where’s the horse?”

“Downstairs trying to win my sister’s heart,” was Eren’s reply while he pressed down repeatedly on one of the buttons of his controller, trying to kill the stupid camper that kept taking him out whenever he re-spawned.

“Damn. I was looking forward to making fun of him.”

“Why was your day so bad? What happened?” Eren asked, hoping Levi wouldn’t get all defensive about it and insist they weren’t friends and all that other garbage he and Hannah always sprouted out.

Hanji was the only one who didn’t, but in Eren’s defense, Hanji kind of scared him so he wasn’t as open with them as he was with Levi and Hannah.

“Nothing, just work stuff.”

“From like, you know, this?” Eren asked, glancing at his door to ensure no one was there. It was still open, so he would easily spot Jean if he was trying to spy on him.

“Yeah. Not everyone is as into Halo as you are.”

“It’s why I’m clearly the best,” Eren teased, his game ending and the other team winning. Made sense since the camper took him out at least twelve times. How were campers actually good at this game? He only had Jean to go off of and that guy sucked.

Leaving his friend’s party, he invited Levi into one instead and went into Matchmaker when the invite was accepted.

“You talk to Hannah today?”

“Briefly. I was busy and she has plans tonight.”

“Yeah, she mentioned.” Eren paused, remembering something. “Hey, didn’t you send her a picture of two ladies fighting over a toy?”

He heard a small puff of breath that he had quickly learned was Levi’s way of laughing. No loud guffaws like Eren, he just exhaled more sharply than usual to show his humour.

“She told you? It was pretty hilarious. They were fighting over some kind of toy, and when they weren’t looking, I grabbed it and bought it myself.”

Eren sputtered out a laugh, shaking his head incredulously. “What? No way! Who’s the toy for?”

“Hanji.”

“No, seriously.”

“Hanji.”

That made him laugh harder, and he really wondered about their relationship sometimes. He always kind of wanted to ask, but Levi usually snapped that they weren’t friends and then things got awkward for a while.

Then again, he seemed in a sharing mood...

“You and Hanji are close then, huh?”

Silence for a few seconds, as if Levi were debating whether or not to answer, but Eren actually smiled when he finally did without biting his head off.

“Yeah, we’ve been friends for a few years. They’re crazy and annoying, and remind me of a child, which is why I bought them a toy as a present.”

“So is Hanji a girl or a boy?” Eren asked, trying to keep his attention on the screen, but it wasn’t working so well for him. He was getting distracted by their conversation.

“Fuck if I know,” was the snorted reply. “Androgynous prick still hasn’t admitted to being one gender or the other, so I can’t use gender-based pronouns with them. I keep asking to see their dick but they keep deflecting. Gonna end up tying them down one day and ripping their pants off to find out.”

“That sounds illegal,” Eren joked, knowing Levi wouldn’t actually do that. He may not know the other that well yet, but he was fairly certain if that was something he’d want to do, he would have done it long before now.

“Says the guy who was asking Hannah how to dispose of a dead body,” was Levi’s scoffed reply. “By the way, fire is the best way. No evidence left behind.”

“That’s what Armin said,” Eren exclaimed, somewhat surprised his genius friend and Levi had both had the same idea. “I don’t know, though. I think going out to sea and dumping the body is a lot safer. It would drift away, maybe get eaten by a creature of the deep. Sea’s pretty big.”

“Yeah, and when someone asks your whereabouts the night of the murder, and finds out you have a boat or rented one, you’re fucked, aren’t you?”

“Well how am I going to get a fire hot enough to destroy the entire body? Short of breaking into a crematorium or a factory with a walk-in oven, I think I’m pretty screwed.”

“Acid works, too. Just befriend a scientist and make them hyper dependent on you, and they’ll do whatever you ask, even help you dissolve a body.” 

“That’s pretty dark...” Eren was concerned about how involved everyone seemed to be getting talking about dead bodies. “Happier topic, what are your thoughts on puppies?”

“I’m more of a cat person.”

“Of course you are.” Eren rolled his eyes. He heard soft voices on the other end, but didn’t catch what they were saying. It sounded like Levi was talking to someone, probably his roommate. Maybe Hanji wanted to join them, but so far, Levi didn’t mention it.

His phone went off in his pocket and he jumped. Being sure he was hidden behind something on the screen, he quickly pulled it out to see who it was from, and felt much too happy at the name he saw flashing back at him.

[The Bae <3]
Ugh, save me!
[The Bae <3]
This is turning out to NOT be the fun night I was expecting

[JaegerMeister]
That sucks D:
[JaegerMeister]
Tell them you feel sick and go home?

“What the fuck are you doing over there, Jaeger?! You just died four times, you’re fucking up our score!”

“Sorry!” Eren hastily dropped his phone and picked his controller back up, moving away from the enemy fire and hiding behind something else. “Hannah just texted.”

“So what? We’re playing a game, ignore her!”

Was it weird he didn’t want to? Yeah, definitely weird. Like, bad weird. He wanted to be able to talk to her as much as possible, and Levi’s words reminded him that Hannah was working for him, not actually someone who genuinely cared whether or not he replied to her.

Another message caught his attention and he looked down at his phone still in his lap.

[The Bae <3]
I should...
[The Bae <3]
I kind of didn’t want to leave earlier. I like talking to you.

Those words confused Eren a lot. He didn’t know how to take them. Did she mean that in a work sense, as in she was trying to make this seem more realistic? Or was she saying that in an honest way, as in she actually legitimately enjoyed their conversations?

He wished she were his real girlfriend, it would make this a lot less complicated.

“And we all died. Terrific. What the hell, Jaeger?” 

“Sorry, I’m... Hannah’s texting me, I’m just...”

“Why do you sound so flustered? She sending you naked pics or something?”

His head snapped up. “What? No! She can’t do that!”

“You can’t ask for them, but I’m pretty sure she’d send them. She likes you, you know. Thinks you’re interesting.”

Eren’s heart leapt into his throat. “Really?”

“Don’t take that to mean more than it does, moron,” was Levi’s dry reply. “She just thinks you’re fun to talk to compared to all the other bozos she has to deal with on a daily basis. You entertain her.” 

His happiness deflated slightly. “Right.” He picked his phone up to text her back, Levi having put them into another Matchmaker.

[JaegerMeister]
I like talking to you too <3
[JaegerMeister]
But you need to hang out with your friends
[JaegerMeister]
With work and everything, it’s better if you have some time to yourself to go out and have fun

[The Bae <3]
Are you trying to get rid of me, Lover?
[The Bae <3]
It’s Levi, isn’t it? -.-
[The Bae <3]
I knew I shouldn’t have let you two meet

[JaegerMeister]
lol
[JaegerMeister]
Nah, I just want to make sure you have fun is all
[JaegerMeister]
You need to relax and just chill with your friends
[JaegerMeister]
Take a night off

[The Bae <3]
Not really an option with my job, you know that

[JaegerMeister]
Well...
[JaegerMeister]
Don’t worry about me, how’s that?

[The Bae <3]
Uh, TERRIBLE, since you’re legitimately the only person I want to talk to

“Jaeger, we’re starting, get your shit together!” Levi’s annoyed voice snapped through his earpiece.

Eren glanced up at the screen, then back down to his phone.

[JaegerMeister]
Tell you what, let’s make a deal
[JaegerMeister]
You stay out with your friends, and text me when you have the chance
[JaegerMeister]
And I’ll keep playing with Levi and do the same
[JaegerMeister]
That way we’re both not bailing on what we’re doing, but we’re still talking. Sound good?

[The Bae <3]
I guess
[The Bae <3]
But uh, be careful with Levi
[The Bae <3]
He might kill you if you cost him the round

“God dammit, Eren! What the fuck are you doing over there?!” 

[JaegerMeister]
Yeah, I’m kind of getting that...
[JaegerMeister]
Guess I’ll have to watch out for his wrath when we get back to school.

[The Bae <3]
Don’t worry, I have a boyfriend who knows how to dispose of bodies. I’m sure I can keep you safe ;)

Eren smiled, sent her back a winky face of his own, and then focussed back on the game before Levi managed to figure out how to reach through his headset to strangle him.


[JaegerMeister]
Hey Babycakes? ;)

[The Bae <3]
Yes Lover? <3
[The Bae <3]
Also, that’s a new one...
[The Bae <3]
Are you drunk again?
[The Bae <3]
You know you can’t hold your liquor, right?

[JaegerMeister]
Sooooo, whatcha wearin’?

[The Bae <3]
...
[The Bae <3]
What?
[The Bae <3]
Seriously, are you drunk?

[JaegerMeister]
Come onnnnnn
[JaegerMeister]
I thought we could try a little sexting while we were apart
[JaegerMeister]
You know, spice things up a little
[JaegerMeister]
I’ll go first if you want ;)

[The Bae <3]
Eren... You know the rules...

[JaegerMeister]
Rules? We have rules? Since when?

[The Bae <3]
Since always, Jean, give Eren back his phone.

[JaegerMeister]
Why are you bringing up the horse, babe?
[JaegerMeister]
My feelings are hurt
[JaegerMeister]
First Levi, now Jean? I feel so inadequate
[JaegerMeister]
Sorry babe, I need to go put our body disposal options to the test.
[JaegerMeister]
Levi recommended acid, do you know what kind of acid works to decompose a body?

[The Bae <3]
No, but please don’t get caught. I’m not there to alibi for you like last time.

[JaegerMeister]
No promises.

Tossing his phone back onto his bed, he turned to punch hard at Jean’s arm again, the other covering his face as much as possible to avoid being hit in the “money maker.” He’d known it was a stupid idea to agree to let both him and Armin spend the night, but had somehow forgotten how much of a dick Jean could be.

Eren had been texting Hannah before passing out, and Jean had still been awake. Obviously since his password hadn’t engaged since he’d just been using his phone, Jean was able to text freely. Thankfully, Eren’s few seconds of slumber had literally been a few seconds and he woke up before any permanent damage could take place.

“Ow! Stop hitting me!” Jean insisted, still covering his face while Eren struggled to convince himself it really wouldn’t be a good idea to murder Jean. “I was just trying to help!”

“Well don’t!” Eren snapped. “I don’t need your kind of help!”

“My kind of help?” Jean demanded. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Why are you trying to ruin this for me?” Eren demanded, voice rising and realizing he was becoming much angrier than the situation warranted. He was finding it hard to calm himself down. “I’ve got a good thing going with Hannah, and every chance you get, you try and get in the middle of it!”

“Eren, I was just messing around—”

“Well stop!” Eren shouted, shoving Jean hard enough that he stumbled and fell onto his ass. “You think this is all a joke, but it’s not to me! I really like her, and if you keep trying to fuck this up, we’re gonna have a problem!”

Jean stared up at him before scoffing and shaking his head, getting back to his feet. “You know, you were a lot more fun before you got a girlfriend.”

Eren said nothing to this, Jean informing him he was going home. When he exited the bedroom, Armin and Mikasa were in the corridor. Armin asked if he wanted some company home, but Jean just snapped at him to mind his own business and left the house, slamming the door loudly in his wake.

“Don’t you think you were a little out of line?” Mikasa asked, her arms crossed and expression hard.

“He was texting Hannah pretending to be me!” Eren shouted. “He’s trying to ruin this for me!”

“Eren, you do the exact same thing to him when he has a girlfriend!”

He stared at her, his mouth opening once before shutting and his eyebrows turning down into an angry scowl. Thinking back on it, he realized it was true. He did do the same thing with Jean when they were together and he had a girlfriend.

But that was different! Jean had never even liked those girls! He was still smitten with Mikasa, so Eren knew he wasn’t doing any real damage! Jean was legitimately trying to screw things up!

And truthfully, Eren was terrified because he didn’t want anyone to find out Hannah wasn’t real. If she hadn’t caught on to the fact that it had been Jean and not Eren speaking to her, she would’ve told him something along the lines of him being in violation of the terms and conditions. Mentioning “rules” had only saved him because it wasn’t as clear, and he felt inclined to believe she’d used that word because she’d suspected it wasn’t him.

He realized Mikasa was waiting for an answer and he shook his head. “I’ll call him tomorrow,” he muttered, figuring he really shouldn’t risk a friendship for a fake relationship. Even if he was beyond pissed. What if this hadn’t been a fake relationship and his girlfriend was a super prissy prude who wouldn’t even consider sex before marriage? Either way, he and Jean could fight it out tomorrow, kick each other’s asses, and get over it. That was usually how their fights went.

Shutting his door so that Mikasa’s judgmental face would disappear, he fell back onto his bed and picked up his phone, staring at it and the messages from Hannah.

[The Bae <3]
Eren?
[The Bae <3]
I’m really hoping you’re not ACTUALLY disposing of a body
[The Bae <3]
As annoying as the horse is, he’s still your friend.
[The Bae <3]
Eren?

[JaegerMeister]
I’m here.
[JaegerMeister]
Fuck though, I swear I’m gonna murder that asshole one day!

[The Bae <3]
Wait for Halloween.

Eren frowned down at his phone, wondering what that was supposed to mean. What did Halloween have to do with murdering Jean?

[JaegerMeister]
What?

[The Bae <3]
Halloween.
[The Bae <3]
Murder him messily
[The Bae <3]
And then go to a party
[The Bae <3]
“Hey Eren, what’s your costume?”
[The Bae <3]
“I’m a murderer.”
[The Bae <3]
“Oh cool, looks great! Super realistic!”
[The Bae <3]
“Thanks, I made it myself. Well actually, Jean helped.”

[JaegerMeister]
LMMFAO

Eren’s evil cackling could probably be heard from next door as he rolled around on his bed like a moron, laughing at Hannah’s conversation. Truthfully, it was a little dark, but at least it was cheering him up a little bit. Despite his shitty fight with Jean just now, he felt a little better at having someone on the other end of a phone to help make him laugh. He wondered if this was what a real girlfriend was like.

[JaegerMeister]
I’m sorry about the whole sexting thing :/
[JaegerMeister]
It wasn’t me, I swear.

[The Bae <3]
I know
[The Bae <3]
You’d never have the balls for sexting anyway ;)

[JaegerMeister]
Excuse you
[JaegerMeister]
Is that a challenge?
[JaegerMeister]
I’ll have you know, my sexting is top class.

[The Bae <3]
Uh huh
[The Bae <3]
Let’s stick to the real thing, shall we? ;)

[JaegerMeister]
It is!
[JaegerMeister]
Fineeeeeee
[JaegerMeister]
Though Jean did get one thing right...
[JaegerMeister]
It kinda sucks being apart.

[The Bae <3]
Don’t get sappy on my ass, Jaeger
[The Bae <3]
You know I’m not into that
[The Bae <3]
Be the grumpy asshole I met in the cafeteria. That’s what really gets me going ;)

Eren snorted at her response, wondering if she would honestly like it if she truly saw him angry. He could be pretty awful, and he knew he had a short temper to begin with. He wasn’t sure she would like it as much as she believed she would.

If she was even telling the truth right now... he kind of hated that he never knew...

[JaegerMeister]
Well, you’d have loved me just now, then
[JaegerMeister]
Yelled at Jean and he stormed out
[JaegerMeister]
We’re probably gonna have a fistfight in the morning to get our anger out.

[The Bae <3]
Stormed out like a girl. What a tool.
[The Bae <3]
Well, if you guys beating on each other is what’ll calm you both down, then go for it.
[The Bae <3]
Make sure someone sends me pictures
[The Bae <3]
And a video
[The Bae <3]
I’m curious about who would win between you and the horse.

[JaegerMeister]
Uh, me...
[JaegerMeister]
Obviously.

[The Bae <3]
It’s cute that you forget how much I know about you
[The Bae <3]
You’re lucky to get out of a normal fight alive, Lover.
[The Bae <3]
But you’re still cute for thinking you’re some big, macho fighter.

[JaegerMeister]
Thanks. Your confidence is inspiring.
[JaegerMeister]
Anyway, I should go to sleep.

[The Bae <3]
You should. You have an ass-kicking to get tomorrow.
[The Bae <3]
*give. I meant give.

[JaegerMeister]
I’m sure you did.......
[JaegerMeister]
Night babe.

[The Bae <3]
Good night, Lover


Levi scowled at the computer screen before him, hands folded together and pressed against his lips and eyes on the message he had received. He honestly didn’t know what to think or how to respond. Which was of concern to him, because normally he wouldn’t have a problem.

His normal response would be “I’m not your friend, I’m a service you paid for, stop being such a whiny bitch and let’s get this over with.”

A week ago, he would’ve done it. He wouldn’t even had stopped to consider his words, he would’ve just ripped into the recipient without a second’s hesitation and been done with it.

But now? Things were different. A lot could happen in just under two weeks, and truth be told, he had never had as much fun in this job as he’d had since being assigned Eren. He enjoyed all his conversations with him as both Hannah and Levi. And he knew that if he answered this message the same way he would have a week ago, those conversations would change.

No more stupid comments about burying bodies. No more idiotic conversations about whether or not Pluto should still be considered a planet. No more Halo Reach with the horse.

Nothing. It would be boring, just like every other client that he had. And he didn’t want that.

“Whatcha doin’?” Hanji asked, moving up behind him and looking over his shoulder. “What’s that?”

“Message,” he replied.

“Duh.” His roommate draped themselves over his shoulders, staring at the screen and squinting, as if attempting to read it. “From who?”

“Eren.”

He could tell Hanji was reading it over so he shifted his gaze back to it and gave it another read himself.

[Eren Jaeger]
Hi P.R.
I just wanted to apologize again for what happened with Jean, and to again make sure that you know it wasn’t me. I promise that the sexting comment was all him. I read the Terms and Conditions, I know that that kind of stuff is a breach of contract and could ban my profile, so trust me, I wouldn’t risk it.
That being said, I’m sure what I’m about to say now is also going to get me into trouble, but I want to say it anyway. Please pass this along to Levi and Hanji, too, because I don’t have their behind-the-scenes info and I want to extend this to all of you.
I know that we’re not friends. I get it, you and Levi have told me enough times. I know we’re not friends, this isn’t real and I’m paying for a service. But I don’t see why that means we can’t be friends. I mean, there’s no harm in us developing a real relationship (platonic! A friendship relationship!) through this service. Once my time is up, I’d like to think that I at least made you and Hanji and Levi enjoy our time together, and not dread every message you get from me.
So I just have a request. I’d like for our conversations to be truly genuine. I want you to talk to me honestly, and not feel pressured to pretend you want to talk to me if you honestly don’t. Like when you were out with friends and I was playing with Levi. If you were texting me because you honestly wanted to, that’s great, it makes me happy. If you were texting me because you felt like you had to, that doesn’t make me happy. That makes me feel bad, because you were out with friends and felt obliged to text me. I don’t ever want that.
Please think about it. I would love to be able to text with you and know that every time we spoke, barring anything directly related to our “romantic relationship,” is real. I’d like to think that we could’ve been friends under different circumstances, and would like the opportunity to be your friend right now, even if we never speak again once this is over.
I just want to make you, Levi and Hanji hate your jobs even 1% less than you do.
Let me know. Hope you’re having a good day!
Eren.

“Wow...” Hanji straightened, scratching their head. “I really like this one. He’s really considerate. And when you think of how much of a dick you always are to him, especially in these messages, he’s got balls.”

Levi would have to remember to change his password, since Hanji had clearly been logging onto his profile and snooping. They were lucky he was cheap and didn’t want to pay rent by himself, or Jean wouldn’t be the only body being dissolved in acid right now.

“Tell him Hanji is completely for an open, honest friendship. I’d love to know his thoughts on serial killers and dismemberment.”

Levi turned to give Hanji an odd look, but his roommate had already pranced away towards the kitchen, seeming to be in good spirits today. He turned back to the screen, trying to determine what his next step should be.

Eren wasn’t in violation of the Terms and Conditions by sending this message, but he was in violation of Levi’s own personal code. That being: do not attempt to make friendly with someone you’re paying. He hated how close Eren kept trying to get, and really wondered about his end-game before reminding himself he didn’t have one. Eren was just like this. Friendly, open and honest. He’d thought the same thing reading his profile. This was just how he was.

Shaking his head, he started to slam his laptop shut before deciding he needed to respond now or he never would. He needed to figure out his answer, send it, and then he could just move on with his life.

After a good twenty minutes, he finally cursed, typed out his answer, then slammed his laptop shut before booting up his XBox. Luckily, Eren was online playing with the horse, so he was able to let out some aggression to ignore the message he had responded with.

Eren,
Hanji says they’re in favour of an open, honest friendship.
Levi says you’re a moron, but he enjoys your chats and is willing to be more forgiving when you start making things a bit too personal. He’s not an open person by nature, but he’s willing to give this whole friendship thing a try.
I think it’s a bad idea to get too invested, but I honestly do like talking to you, and you always keep me entertained. If you promise not to turn into a psycho stalker, then I’m also willing to give this friendship thing a shot.
Don’t disappoint me, Jaeger. I’ve already invested way too much time in you.
P.R.

TBC...

Chapter Text

“So how did you get into this, anyway?” Eren’s voice asked through Levi’s headset while the latter worked on taking out the camper that was targeting his partner.

“Into what?” he demanded, aiming carefully and managing to do a headshot. A small smile crossed his features when the game informed him it had been successful.

“You know, this. This whole significant other thing.” 

Eren really wasn’t taking his time with the friendship thing, Levi noticed. It had only been a few hours since he’d sent his message. A quick smiley face response back from Eren ten minutes after his response confirmed that he had seen it, and now that Jean wasn’t on, he was wasting no time getting to know Levi.

“My boss and I were friends in university. He conceived the idea, and since I wasn’t really interested in a desk job, when this got off the ground and he asked me to get involved, I agreed.”

“That’s pretty cool. I mean, you don’t have to go to a boring day job, and I guess this lets you meet a bunch of interesting people.”

“Sure. Lets me meet a whole bunch of crazy, lonely and most likely gross women who can’t get any in a real relationship and have to settle for a fake one.”

There was silence for a few seconds after this statement, Levi managing to end the game with them on the winning side.

“That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?” Eren finally asked once they were back in Matchmaker. “You don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives that make them want to join this.”

“And what about you, Eren Jaeger,” he said the name slowly, almost sneering it. “Why are you paying for this service?”

“My family won’t leave me alone about being single. They say my temper is going to have me die alone. I just wanted some time off from their judgmental expressions.” 

“Your temper seems fine to me.”

“Yeah, you didn’t see the video my sister took of Jean and I beating the crap out of each other.”

Not that he could admit it, since the video had gone to Hannah, but Levi had seen it. And Eren’s message with it had been just as honest and obnoxious as ever. Basically, he was trying to tell her that he was a violent person with a short temper, and she shouldn’t pretend to enjoy it. And then he’d sent her the video of him and his friend beating each other up. They’d ended the fight bloody and laughing, arms wrapped around one another, but apparently this was how he and Jean got over their disagreements.

With their fists.

Levi knew a thing or two about that, having had some anger problems himself in the past. He’d gotten over them after a lot of help, mostly from Erwin and Petra, but he could admit to occasionally losing his temper every now and then.

Eren reminded him of himself sometimes. Which made it weird for him to like the kid, because it was like admitting he thought he was pretty great himself.

“I don’t have a problem with people like you,” Levi admitted. “People who are doing this because they want people to leave them alone. But not everyone’s like that. Some people pretend it’s real. I have customers I’ve never met who talk about how they can’t wait to see me in a few hours when their shift’s over. Tell me that isn’t sad and pathetic.”

“Well,” Eren said hesitantly, the game having started on the screen, “you don’t know why they’re like that. Maybe they just got out of a bad relationship and are slowly trying to get back into the game but are scared. This service would kind of work for them, right? It’s someone they can get close to without fear of being hurt. I don’t know, I just don’t think it’s fair for you to treat everyone the same way when you don’t know anything about them.” 

Eren’s self-righteousness was getting annoying, but mostly because his points were somewhat valid. While Levi liked to think he knew everything about his clients, the truth was, he didn’t even care to know about them. Eren was the first and only one he’d ever given a chance to, so realistically, for all he knew, the other was right. Maybe he shouldn’t be treating them all the same when he had no idea why they were acting the way they were.

It wasn’t exactly rocket science to know most people lied on their profiles. Barely any of them sent pictures, and a large majority of them were vague about why they wanted to join the service except if it was for the same reason as Eren. Most of them weren’t as detailed as he’d been, but they made it clear it was only for a short period to get family off their back, and every single time, those people ended their contracts right on schedule.

He had one girl who continuously restarted her contract, but it was at the same time every year for the same number of days, suggesting this was the period when she needed to pretend to have a boyfriend.

And now that he considered Eren’s words, he had to wonder how many of his clients were either lesbians, or even closet gays. The lesbians would need him to pretend they were straight, and the closet gays maybe used their relationship as an outlet until they were comfortable enough to come out.

“I hate talking to you,” he admitted to Eren.

“What?! Why?!” The other sounded partly offended and partly hurt. What a child.

“Because I don’t like the theories you come up with. They piss me off.”

“Because you know I’m right.” And now he sounded smug.

“Shut up. If you played half as well as you ran your mouth, you wouldn’t be just barely ahead of the horse.”

Eren let out an annoyed scoff, but thankfully he mostly ignored Levi’s comment. Truthfully, he didn’t want him to stop talking, he just wanted him to move on to a better topic. Since Levi wasn’t one to ask too many questions—habit of the job—it meant he had to wait for Eren to start asking them himself.

“How many clients do you have right now, anyway? Doesn’t it get overwhelming sometimes?”

Levi aimed and fired off a shot, accidentally hitting one of his own teammates when the idiot got in his way. Thankfully it wasn’t Eren.

“Our boss is pretty good about splitting it up. I have about twelve right now, including you. Though you don’t really count since I’m technically just a friend profile and not a relationship one so I can ditch you whenever I feel like it.”

“Thanks, I feel the love from here,” Eren said sarcastically.

“You’re a sarcastic little shit, you know that?”

“So what’re your clients like? I know you can’t say much, confidentiality and all, but like... are they fun? Hannah always makes it sound like she hates most of her clients.”

“She does.” It wasn’t even a lie. “You’re her favourite.”

“That’s nice to know.” He sounded so happy and sappy that it was kind of irksome. He’d intended on changing the subject, but when he spoke again, it wasn’t a definitive subject change, more of a shift.

“My clients suck too, for the most part. The guys I can handle. The girls make me want to vomit.”

“Guys? As in, guy profiles or more friend profiles for guys?”

“No, guys. It asks you for your preference at the beginning, remember? We don’t discriminate.”

“Oh.” Eren seemed like he didn’t know what to say. “So you’re... bisexual?”

“Asexual,” he admitted. “Or pansexual. Hard to really determine, but it’s likely I’m more asexual. Never been interested in a dick or a cooch, but doesn’t mean I’ll never be interested. I prefer fucking guys though, women get clingy, especially if it’s just for the one night. They get all weird and want to stick around. Guys are better for a fuck and dump.”

“Right. Wow. Okay.”

It occurred to Levi he’d made Eren uncomfortable, but if he wanted friendship, he’d have to put up with his foul mouth. He had no brain-mouth filter, that was just how things were.

That conversation made him think of a question to ask Eren, but right before asking it, it occurred to him that it might be a better question for him to receive from Hannah, so he didn’t ask it.

Which also reminded him that Hannah should text Eren before he got suspicious.

Since he was lying in his usual spot on the couch, back against the arm rest, he had to twist his body around to check if Hanji was still sitting in the arm chair. They were watching something on their Ipad, and he gave them an odd look when he found them crying and fanning their face. Hanji was so weird, he had no idea what to think of them sometimes.

Picking up the closest object, which happened to be a coaster, he threw it at his roommate while Eren said something else and Hanji looked up. He motioned his phone, and Hanji motioned the IPad. Levi gave them a look and they rolled their eyes before pausing whatever they were watching and pulling off their headphones, grabbing Levi’s phone and opening his text messages.

They motioned the television, silently asking if it was Eren they were texting, and he gave them an exasperated look. Obviously it would be Eren, otherwise he wouldn’t be asking Hanji to text anyone!

“So is this kind of thing open for everyone? Like, how many people are there?”

“About thirty, I think.” Levi focussed back on the game while Hanji texted. “And you’re too young.”

“I’m twenty-one! How old are you, fifty?!”

Levi’s jaw clenched at the words and he even saw Hanji look up out of the corner of his eye. His headset didn’t exactly block out noise so his roommate’s smirk made it clear they’d overheard Eren.

“I’m thirty-eight.”

“Wow... so, you’re like forty. I was close.” 

“Careful, or I’ll start calling you brat on a regular basis.”

Hanji tapped his shoulder with his phone while Eren laughed and showed him the message. He nodded his consent before turning back to the screen. He knew exactly when Eren had received it because his character froze on the battlefield and got taken out.

“Dammit Jaeger! Are you fucking sleeping over there?!”

“No, I’m just—give me a second. You’re so needy, Levi.”

A snort from Hanji, and Levi turned to glare at them. They were staring down at the phone and after a few seconds, they began typing again before turning it back to him. He nodded once more, still playing and ensuring his character never stopped moving lest he give anything away to Eren.

[User]
Haven’t heard from you in a while. No weird questions for me today?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
LOL! Sorry, I’ve been gaming with Levi and grilling him for information.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Trying to see if I can get an honest answer out of the guy.

[User]
That sounds dangerous... what are you asking him?

When Eren’s character froze once more, Levi went to cover him this time until the moron moved again. He cussed him out over the headset, but Eren still didn’t tell him what he was doing on the other end. He figured he was too scared to admit he was texting Hannah considering the yelling he’d received the last time this had happened.

As this was all Levi’s own design, he had to wonder if he was a sadist. He found Eren’s level of discomfort amusing right now. It was clear he didn’t want to ignore Hannah, but he also didn’t want to piss off Levi. This kid was so incredibly interesting.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
About work, mostly. Just curious, is all.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
He seems kinda... idk, not lonely, but just isolated.

[User]
He lives with Hanji...

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Yeah, I know but...
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I don’t know. I feel like he needs someone to rant to.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Just offering an outlet.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
And he’s fun to game with so it’s not like it’s any skin off my back :)

Hanji made fake kissing sounds in his direction while showing him Eren’s reply and he snatched his phone from the other’s grip, annoyed. They’d finished their round and were back in Matchmaker, anyway.

[User]
You almost sound like you like him.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I do like him.

[User]
Nobody likes Levi.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Don’t call me nobody, it’s rude :P
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Don’t get jealous, either.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I just like chatting with him. He’s a cool guy.

It was hard to keep the smile at bay, but he managed it, telling Eren to have fun with Levi since he had some work stuff to deal with. Not a complete lie, considering he was dealing with work stuff, namely playing with Eren as himself.

“Hey, how come Hannah never plays Halo? I thought she was into it.”

“She’s usually busy. It’s time-consuming. I can ask her to play later, if you want. I can usually convince her to log on, and I’m sure if she gets to hear your voice, she’ll be all for it.”

“Sweet! Does she have a headset?”

“It’s broken, but she can hear us when we talk. Makes it easier for her to know what’s going on.”

“Oh, bummer. It’d be fun to play with her on headset. Probably for the best we not, though. Don’t want her to think I’m turning into a creepy stalker.” He let out a loud laugh that almost became awkward at the end, but he managed to reign it in. “It’d be cool. Maybe you, Jean, Hannah and I can play together for a while later.”

“Sounds good. I’ll set it up on my end.”

“Cool. Thanks Levi!”

His response to this was yelling at Eren to watch where he was going since he’d just crashed his Ghost into a wall.

Eren was a complete moron. An entertaining moron, but still a moron.


“Dude, your girlfriend is a better shooter than you are,” Jean insisted through the headset, his smarmy smirk clearly heard in his words.

Eren pressed his tongue against the cut on his lower lip from their recent fight and then promptly targeted his friend, taking him out with a grin.

“What the hell, Kamikaze-Head! Did you just head-shot me?!”

“You almost missed him,” Levi’s smooth baritone informed him. “Next time, try and angle it a bit more to the left of his head.”

“Don’t give him advice on how to take me out, asshole!”

“I’m sorry, I don’t speak horse. Jaeger, can you please translate your steed?” 

Eren had just been killed twice due to his loss of concentration, what with him laughing his ass off and everything. Jean and Levi playing together was by far the most entertaining thing he had ever experienced in his life.

Hannah seemed to think so, too, because his phone trilled a second later and when he checked it, he saw a message from her, which explained why her character had hidden behind a building and stopped moving for a few seconds.

[The Bae <3]
I don’t think I’ve been this entertained since that video of you and Jean fighting.
[The Bae <3]
You know, if the two of you slapping at each other’s hands is considered “fighting.”

[JaegerMeister]
Hey!
[JaegerMeister]
I worked hard to kick Jean’s ass!
[JaegerMeister]
That was a real manly man’s fight!

[The Bae <3]
It’s adorable that you think that.
[The Bae <3]
Still, this is more entertaining.
[The Bae <3]
Levi’s never harassed someone this much before.
[The Bae <3]
It’s hilarious.

Eren grinned down at his phone, beginning to text back when a dark voice interrupted his train of thought.

“I swear to God, if you two don’t stop texting each other right now, I’m going to murder both of you when we’re back to school,” Levi said darkly.

“If you’re so desperate to talk to your girlfriend, just call her, moron,” Jean agreed. “You’re bringing down our team’s stats with your constant dying.”

“I can’t call long distance,” Eren insisted, having been saying this since the beginning of their game. Levi had actually been the one to give him a reason why he couldn’t just call up Hannah. While a part of him wanted to be on the contract for phonecalls, he knew now that with how involved he was getting with Levi, Hannah and even Hanji, calling her would be bad. It was already dangerous that he spoke to Levi on a regular basis, they were almost like real friends. The last thing he needed was for him and Hannah to start talking.

It would make separating later even harder, and he refused to be a crazy person.

“So, Corporal,” Jean said.

“What?”

“Just wondering, what was your first impression of Eren? I mean, after what he did.”

Eren’s head shot up and panic arced through him at the words. Surely if this were real, Hannah would’ve told him about how they’d met, but since this wasn’t real, did that mean Levi didn’t even know the backstory? What if he had no idea how they were supposed to have met? That’d be incredibly suspicious!

“You mean after getting his ass royally kicked? Well, he bought her food, at least. That’s nicer than I’d have been. She’s getting fat, she needs to lose some weight.”

“Hey!” Eren insisted, defending her both for show, but also because he’d seen pictures of her and she was super hot. “That’s my girlfriend!”

“And my best friend, what’s your point?” There was silence for a second, and then shuffling before he let out a small puff of air, like a laugh. His signature laugh, Eren supposed. “Hannah says she’s gonna kick my ass when she sees me next.” 

Eren looked down at his phone when he got a new text, erasing the one he’d been in the middle of typing and responding quickly.

[The Bae <3]
Levi is such an ass!
[The Bae <3]
I’m fucking hotter than HE is!
[The Bae <3]
In case you weren’t aware. I am.

[JaegerMeister]
I believe it ;)
[JaegerMeister]
Don’t worry, he’s just jealous of your luscious locks!

[The Bae <3]
You should see him try to grow a beard
[The Bae <3]
Hanji laughed for a month solid, it was hilarious.

[JaegerMeister]
Uh... are you comparing beards now?

[The Bae <3]
No! |< Asshole
[The Bae <3]
I’m emasculating him!
[The Bae <3]
I know you’re a little slow, but keep up!

Shaking his head, Eren sent her an apology before looking back up upon being yelled at. The round had just ended, and they’d only just managed to win. Two kills. That was too close, Levi would probably murder him for real if they truly did go to school together.

“So, I gotta ask,” Jean said, obviously still fishing for information. Eren wished he’d drop it. “What’s wrong with Hannah?”

“Wrong? What do you mean wrong?” Levi didn’t sound offended for his friend, he just sounded amused. “Are you asking why she’s dating Eren?”

“Yeah, pretty much. I mean, you seem cool, why isn’t she dating you?”

“Hey!” Eren insisted, but Levi talked over him and pretty much forced him to shut his mouth.

“Well, for one thing, I’m not into her. And for another, she has weird taste? I don’t know. She likes Eren, he makes her laugh. And think. I don’t know, fuckin’ ask her.”

Eren looked down at his phone, and couldn’t help but smile at her words.

[The Bae <3]
What he said ;)
[The Bae <3]
And I mean that. Honestly.
[The Bae <3]
You could use some growing up, but I’ll forgive your juvenile attitude in favour of your sense of humour ;)

[JaegerMeister]
Thanks babe <3
[JaegerMeister]
That means a lot coming from you

[The Bae <3]
Stop being sappy.

[JaegerMeister]
LOL!
[JaegerMeister]
You started it!

[The Bae <3]
Whatever Lover.

The next text he got was a selfie of Hannah sitting on her bed. It was unmade and showed off her lavender sheets and purple duvet. She was doing one of those duck-faces into the camera, her head tilted and eyes wide. She had her broken headset on, and her XBox controller in her free hand.

She looked beautiful, and Eren was once again struck by how perfect she was. He was crazy if he thought a girl like her could ever want to even consider a relationship with him. Thankfully, he was never at risk of that given she wasn’t technically real.

He wondered what her actual given name was. P.R. were most likely initials, so he had to wonder what her real name was. Patricia? Penelope? Porschia?

Stop trying to figure out her name, he insisted to himself, shaking his head.

[JaegerMeister]
That’s just mean
[JaegerMeister]
I don’t get to touch you and you send me that?
[JaegerMeister]
Cruel.
[JaegerMeister]
So cruel.

[The Bae <3]
What’s CRUEL is my supposed BOYFRIEND not sending ME photos!
[The Bae <3]
You might not have a sexy six-pack, but I like your yummy pillow-tummy all the same ;)
[The Bae <3]
Where’s my picture?

Eren found that to be a somewhat odd request, only because Hannah wasn’t real. Why was she asking for a photo? Realism of their relationship, maybe? But she’d never asked for one before, so why now?

He looked up to make sure he wasn’t in any immediate danger—from Levi, not from shooters in the game—and realized his own character had stopped moving. He frowned.

“Hello?”

“What?” Jean asked.

“Where’s Levi?”

“Isn’t he still here?”

Silence. Then there was shuffling and he spoke.

“Sorry, I was just murdering my roommate.”

“So you don’t have any adult supervision right now? Lucky asshole. How did you manage that?”

“I grew up, unlike you two little shits. Stop camping, you damn horse, it’s fucking up our score.”

In actuality, their score was the best it had been all night. Eren saw this as an opportunity to do as Hannah asked. He still didn’t know what purpose she could possibly have to ask for a photo, but he figured if she wanted one, he’d make it worth her while.

Setting his controller down, he picked up his phone and held it high above himself, trying for a cocky grin while his other hand lifted his shirt up to expose his abs. He wasn’t stupid, he wouldn’t send any kind of nudes to her—Terms and Conditions or not, he knew better—but he saw no harm in sending her a picture of his well-defined muscles. His six-pack was a little hidden at that moment in time, but he was sure a few months at the gym and they’d be back. Not that he’d get them back for her, it was more of a battle he tended to have with Jean.

The asshole had a fucking perfect body, as much as it pained him to say. Jean ate like a horse—funny, considering his appetite matched his face—but he still managed to look like a God when he took his clothes off.

Eren only knew that because of high school and showering after practice, not because he was into his best friend! And why was he explaining himself to himself anyway?!

Shaking his head in annoyance, he checked the picture and cropped it until he was happy with how it looked. He attached it to the text message, and then hesitated before hitting ‘send.’

He tried to think of every possible way this could negatively impact him in the future, but he’d seen far worse things on social media lately and those people all seemed fine. It wasn’t a nude, so he didn’t see the harm.

Letting out an annoyed huff, he sent the picture and picked up his controller in time for Levi to snap at him.

“You realize you’re kind of a tyrant, right?” he asked the other.

“I’m a firm believer of shitting or getting off the pot. If you’re here to play, then play. If you wanna text your fat girlfriend, then text your fat girlfriend without fucking up our score.”

“She’s not fat!” he insisted. “I’ll have you know, she just sent me a smokin’ hot picture of herself, and she looks stunning. So shut your face, Levi!”

“Someone’s getting touchy,” was the other’s reply, but he said nothing more about Hannah, instead snapping at Jean to move before he head-shotted him himself.

Eren received a response to his photo text and while he really didn’t want to check it, he forced himself to look down at his phone, and smiled.

[The Bae <3]
Yummy enough to eat off of. Wish I was there.

“Yeah, me too,” he muttered.

Both Jean and Levi asked him what he was mumbling to himself, and he told them both to go fuck themselves before launching a grenade in their general direction.

The rest of the evening did not turn out well after that.


He wasn’t going to reach for it. He was supposed to be attempting to sleep—or, pretending to, since he didn’t really sleep. He had to at least try to sleep right now, and he couldn’t distract himself, not to mention if he looked at his phone, the brightness would trick his brain into believing it was time for him to be awake.

And it would be stupid and pointless anyway. No reason for him to grab it, what would that accomplish? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He had to sleep. Sleeping was a necessity, at this point.

Fuck it.

Levi rolled over and grabbed his phone off his nightstand, pulling the charger free from the base and then opening his messages. He hit the first contact at the very top, scrolled up a bit and tapped the photo.

Lying back down completely, he stared up at the picture that Eren had sent him, courtesy of Hanji since the pisspot had been the one texting as Hannah while they’d all been playing. He hadn’t realized what they were doing until it was too late.

He both loved and hated Hanji right now. He’d never thought he’d ever be particularly interested in anyone, Levi had always considered himself to be fairly asexual. He appreciated people who were attractive, and he enjoyed watching porn, but he had never really felt the need to go out and find someone to bang on a regular basis.

Occasionally, the opportunity presented itself and he took it, but he’d never actually felt any sort of sexual attraction to anyone before.

In fucking comes Eren Jaeger.

He didn’t even know what he liked about the little shit. He was annoying, and got really personal, and he actually whined a lot. He was weird as all hell, competitive and—supposedly—violent. Levi had no idea what it was about him that he liked so much. That being said, slowly but surely, he was forcibly pushing his way into Levi’s every waking moment. It was getting bad. And weird.

And kind of scary.

Levi didn’t know what he was meant to do. How he was supposed to react to this. Eren was a fucking client, and he thought he was talking to Petra. While he didn’t treat Levi any different, acting just as odd and ridiculous, there was still the issue of gender. Not to mention the fact that, again, Eren thought he was Petra.

Maybe when Eren’s contract was up, Levi could admit it was him. Maybe he could keep him on his XBox friends list.

“Maybe I can be a total fucking paedophilic creeper,” he snapped to himself, turning off his phone to remove the sight of Eren’s exposed chest and throwing it back onto his nightstand. He rolled onto his stomach and pulled his blankets up over his head.

He knew that wasn’t exactly the case, Eren was twenty-one, but it was weird. He was attracted to someone much younger than him. Actually, him being attracted to anyone at all was weird.

Burying his face in his pillow, he reached out blindly for his phone once more and then brought it under the covers. He took a second to compose himself, and then unlocked his phone once more, opening the image a second time.

He didn’t understand why Eren didn’t have girls lining up around the block for him. Temper or not, there had to be someone out there who could look past that, right? He was an attractive kid, and if he was managing to make even Levi like him as a person, there was no way others didn’t. So how had he never had a girlfriend before? He didn’t get it.

All of his muscles tensed when he suddenly got a message, his eyes locked on the name that had flashed across the top of the picture.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Hey... still awake?

He shouldn’t have been. And neither should Eren. Levi wanted to say nothing and just attempt to sleep, like he was supposed to be doing. If it were anyone else, no problem. But it was Eren. And somehow, he had a hard time resisting Eren.

[User]
Can’t sleep
[User]
Insomniac
[User]
Why are you awake?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I’m sorry to hear that :(
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I don’t know...
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Can’t sleep, I guess...

[User]
Why not?

It seemed to take Eren a really long time to reply, and Levi wondered if he’d typed something, then erased it and tried again.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I dunno
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Thinking

[User]
Don’t hurt yourself

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
And DON’T tell me not to hurt myself
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
UGH!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I can THINK sometimes, you know |<

Eren’s response amused him, but he didn’t comment on it and just responded instead.

[User]
Thinking about what?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
-shrugs-

[User]
About shrugging?
[User]
Sounds thrilling.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitch
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Don’t make fun of me.

[User]
Isn’t that the whole basis of our relationship though?
[User]
I think I’d get bored if I couldn’t make fun of you.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Hey Hannah?

[User]
Hey Eren?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Do you ever think about why things happen in life?

Levi’s left eyebrow slowly rose at seeing those words, wondering what Eren was asking him. What was he talking about? Had something happened?

[User]
What do you mean?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I don’t know
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Nevermind
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Forget it.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I’m gonna go take a shower.

[User]
Isn’t it the middle of the night?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Yeah
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Idk
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I just feel dirty...

[User]
Kinky ;)

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Pfft
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Not THAT kind of dirty
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Like, mud and sweat and grossness dirty.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Try and sleep. I’ll talk to you tomorrow :)

[User]
Insomniac.
[User]
I’ll be here when you get back.

He received no response to this and figured Eren had gone to shower. Levi debated for all of ten seconds before kicking his sheets off himself and standing, wandering to his bedroom door and scratching at his stomach, phone held tightly in his free hand.

When he opened his bedroom door and wandered down the corridor to the living room, he found Hanji sitting on the floor with their back against the couch, watching a movie. It looked like some kind of slasher movie, further reinforcing the idea that Levi would find himself murdered by his roommate one day.

“Why are you still up?” he asked, causing the other to jump with fright before turning to him.

“Can’t sleep,” was Hanji’s response.

“Seems to be the thing of the night.” Levi wandered into the kitchen and opened the fridge, perusing its contents before grabbing a beer.

“Eren?” His roommate inquired. Levi moved back into the doorway, twisting the cap off his drink and nodding before taking a sip. He held it out to Hanji in question and they shook their head, turning back to the television.

“At least I can be loud, now,” they said, leaning back further against the couch. “The women in this movie make me want to claw my eyes out with their stupidity.”

“Is that why you always root for the bad guy?” Levi asked, wandering over to the couch and falling onto it, twisting so he was leaning back against the arm rest, as usual, and stretching out his legs.

“The bad guys are the only reason the movie exists. Can’t have a hero without a villain.”

“I don’t think big-boobed blondie is much of a hero,” Levi argued, motioning the character on the screen with his bottle of beer before taking another sip.

Hanji said nothing to this and Levi set his beer down on the table behind him, crossing his arms and watching the movie for lack of anything better to do. After it became clear the movie was a waste of time and quite possibly affecting his IQ, he glanced back down at his phone to see if Eren was back, despite knowing he’d have received an alert if he had messaged him.

Still nothing.

Levi began scrolling back up, reading through some of their conversations and forcing himself not to look at the picture again. It was bad enough he felt the urge to save it to his phone, if he actually opened it, he might go through with that.

He leaned back further against the arm rest, starting to slouch a little bit and half-listening to Hanji swear at the character on the screen. He glanced up to see what she was doing to piss his roommate off so much and realized she was running up the stairs while a knife-wielding psychopath chased after her.

He had to agree, it was pretty dumb.

Glancing back at his phone, he realized what he was doing—namely sitting there like a weirdo waiting for Eren to get out of the shower—and went back to the movie that was playing. Complete with commentary from Hanji.

It was almost fifteen minutes later when his phone chimed and he swiped his thumb across the bottom instantly.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Squeaky clean! :D

[User]
Oh really? SQUEAKY clean?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
-shifts- -hears squeaking- Yup, unless I have a bunch of mice in my pants D:

[User]
Pretty sure you’d know if that were the case.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I’d hope so, but you never know with me >.>

Levi felt the corner of his mouth twitch, almost as if he were about to smile, but didn’t follow through on the action.

[User]
Any plans for tomorrow?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Nope. Was just gonna play some Fallout for a while, and text you :P
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Unless you’re busy

[User]
Not tomorrow so text away.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Woop woop!
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
So hey, I realized that I never actually asked and you never told me, but where are you interning?

Levi stared down at the question, debating on how to answer it. Petra was interning at a newspaper company right now, but so far, virtually all of his conversations with Eren were honest. He’d had to mention the internship because of Petra actually having to sneak away from her desk to take the pictures, and it also allowed him the perception of needing more time.

But he wasn’t interning and he didn’t want to tell Eren he was. Eren was his client, not Petra’s. She didn’t even know the first thing about him so it wasn’t fair for him to have to pretend to be her more than he already did.

[User]
I have to tell you something.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Uh oh D:
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
You’re not breaking up with me via text, right?!

[User]
Do I strike you as someone too chicken to break up with a guy to their face?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
No

[User]
Exactly.
[User]
And no, it’s about my internship.
[User]
I lied. I don’t actually have one. I just wanted to look good for all those photos I sent you so I lied so that I had time to spruce myself up.

Not a complete lie. Levi had lied to make sure the photos sent were good photos. Namely that they were of Petra and not him.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Oh...
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
That’s amazing.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Silly that you thought you even NEEDED to spruce yourself up, since you’re gorgeous, but I get it ;)

He’d have to make sure he remembered to relay that message to Petra, Eren spent a lot of time complementing her, and he was sure she’d appreciate hearing them.

Staring down at Eren’s last message, Levi thought back to what he’d wanted to ask him while they’d been playing just the two of them, and wondered if Eren would honestly answer a potentially uncomfortable question.

[User]
Can I ask you something?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Always :)

He was such a dork, Levi didn’t know how he put up with him.

[User]
Have you ever kissed a guy?

He’d assumed that he would feel stupid asking that but once it was sent, he found himself mostly just interested in the answer.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Nope. But I’ve also never kissed a girl, either.
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Except you, obviously.

“Nice save,” Levi said sarcastically. He really hoped Eren’s friends didn’t see this because that seemed fairly obvious he and “Hannah” had never kissed.

[User]
Really? Have you ever thought of kissing a guy?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Uh, not really...
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Why?

[User]
Just wondering about a threesome.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Lol
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Nice try, but no.

[User]
So you’d never kiss a guy? Why not?

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Idk, it’s weird, right?
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
I mean, have you ever kissed a girl before?

[User]
I have.

And it wasn’t even a lie.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Really?

[User]
Yes 

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
You’re not shitting me, right?

[User]
I’m not shitting you, I have kissed a girl.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Oh
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
And?
[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
How was it?

[User]
And?
[User]
Not my thing.
[User]
I’ll stick to guys.

[Client 104 - Eren (P’s)]
Ah. Guess it’s a good thing I’m a guy :P

“You have no idea,” he muttered, wondering if it would ever be possible to convince Eren to kiss a guy.

He seemed fairly easy to control, he could probably manage it.

Probably.

This shithead was going to be the death of him.

TBC...

Chapter Text

[Eren]
You know what I’ve always wondered?

Levi paused the game he was playing and picked up his phone, staring at the words on his screen and almost hesitant to respond. He knew if he started engaging Eren in conversation, he was likely not to continue with his game. Which meant Hanji would come out and either monopolize the TV, or they would tease him about having a crush on Eren.

Which he didn’t. He just found him fun to talk to. Not to mention his conversations were always interesting, albeit weird. Which made him wonder what it was Eren was thinking about right now. He supposed asking shouldn’t take long, he could still play, it would take half a second. Eren had said he was out, so it wasn’t like he was going to spend an eternity texting with Levi, he had real friends right there with him.

“Are you done playing?”

Levi’s head turned to glance down the corridor, but Hanji hadn’t left their room. They’d obviously just heard him pause his game.

“No. Play something in your room,” he insisted back.

“But I don’t have a Wii in here.”

“I’m using it.”

“I know, why don’t you go play in your room?”

“Because I don’t have a Wii in there either.” Levi quickly tapped out a response to Eren before dropping his phone onto his stomach and unpausing his game. It was one of the Super Mario games, he wasn’t sure which one. He found it relatively entertaining and had never had the chance to play it because of Hanji. When they’d gone to shower and left the game loaded, he’d just picked up where they’d left off. They hadn’t seemed to mind the theft of the level, just the theft of the console. They had three different XBoxes in the house, and only one Wii. Maybe it was time to invest in a second one.

When Eren replied, Levi had to resist the urge to check it right away, eyes on the screen and continuing the level, his phone buzzing every few seconds. He didn’t allow himself to check it until he’d reached the flag pole, setting his controller down and picking up his phone.

[User]
What’s that?

[Eren]
I’m at the mall right now
[Eren]
In the food court
[Eren]
And I’m looking up at the ceiling
[Eren]
And I can see all of the pipes and electrical wires and everything
[Eren]
So I’ve always wondered why in big buildings like this people leave the pipes and wires and stuff exposed.

Levi should’ve known it’d be something ridiculous. It always was with Eren. Never something like “I wonder how humans came to be on this earth.” No, with Eren, it was always “how do you think they get the fortunes into fortune cookies?” or “do you think the person who invented doors got some kind of huge influx of money when they became widespread?”

Both questions he had once asked Levi. Then there was the ever-popular “what’s the best way to dispose of a body?” question, which still came up every now and then when Eren randomly thought of a better way to kill and dismember someone. It was getting a little concerning, and he knew it was because Hanji and Eren talked about it. His roommate was almost encouraging Eren’s descent into darkness, at this point. If he became a serial killer, Levi was going to strangle Hanji.

Staring down at the comments made, Levi thought about it only briefly before responding, dropping his phone back onto his stomach and restarting his game before Hanji wandered out to steal the controller.

[User]
It’s so that when super-villains destroy buildings, there’s that cool effect of water dripping and sparks flying from the cables and whatnot.

Levi hastily grabbed his phone when Eren replied, the buzzing having been a little too close to his privates. He was already struggling enough with the shithead, he didn’t need his phone turning against him, too.

[Eren]
Oh, of course! Why didn’t I think of that?

[User]
You’re not a super-villain?

[Eren]
You don’t know that O_O
[Eren]
I could be the most VILLAINOUS of villains!

[User]
Lover, the only thing you’d ever want to conquer would be the cafeteria.

[Eren]
Food is important! I got an army to feed!

[User]
You named your stomach?
[User]
“An Army” is kind of a lame name for a stomach.

[Eren]
Don’t make me come over there.

In Levi’s dreams. He scowled at Eren’s comment, not even sure how to respond, when a voice spoke from right behind him, making him tense. He’d almost jumped from being startled but had managed to reign it in and tense instead.

“Eren, huh?”

“Kid never shuts up,” Levi muttered, still trying to figure out how to respond, one hand on his phone and the other gripping his controller so Hanji couldn’t steal it.

“No...” Hanji’s hand appeared, tapping at the name at the top of the message. “Eren.”

That was when Levi realized what they meant.

He had changed Eren’s client designation to his name only. It was something he had never done before, mostly because he’d never cared enough to. He honestly didn’t even remember when it had happened, probably one of the nights he and Eren had been texting when Levi should’ve been sleeping. They’d been talking about what the new Marvel movie was going to be like, and sometime during the conversation, Levi had gotten annoyed seeing his client designation above every message and had gone to change it. It hadn’t exactly been planned, it had just happened. He hadn’t bothered to change it back because... well, it was kind of nice just having his name.

He’d also caved and saved the picture, but had at least been smart enough not to put it as Eren’s contact photo. Hanji would’ve been really annoying, he was sure, if they had seen that.

“His designation was too long,” he insisted, dropping his phone without responding and beginning to play the next level without another word. He heard Hanji wander away into the kitchen, but tried not to dwell too much on what they were thinking. As long as they didn’t tell Erwin, it was fine.

His phone went off again and he tried to resist looking at it for as long as possible until it began to affect his ability to play so he conceded defeat and just paused the game to grab the phone again.

[Eren]
Jean just ditched me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[Eren]
He forgot he had a family thing to go to and just bolted on me!
[Eren]
Now I have to take the stupid BUS home!

[User]
You do?
[User]
Why didn’t you just jump on Jean?
[User]
Coulda ridden that horsie all the way home >)

[Eren]
...
[Eren]
Did you mean for that to come out as dirty as it did?
[Eren]
I already said no to a threesome, don’t try and make me fall for Jean.

[User]
You fall for the horse, and I’m dumping you so hard you’ll feel it until you die!

It was extremely hard for him not to scowl. Ever since his question about kissing a guy two nights ago, Eren kept bringing up the horse. It was making it difficult for Levi to not hate him. He knew the chances of Eren and Jean getting together were minuscule, but it still bothered him how often things turned into a conversation about him not being in love with Jean. Levi had never said he was in love with Jean and he most certainly didn’t want him to be.

[Eren]
Yes ma’am O_O
[Eren]
Scary
[Eren]
Who’d you want to have a threesome with anyway?

Levi dropped his phone and picked his controller back up, scowling at the TV. He wanted to say himself, but he couldn’t do that. He’d already admitted to Eren how old he was. Then again, Eren had no idea how old “Hannah” was, so if he was falling for her, then it wasn’t like there was a difference.

Except in the gender department.

But to be frank, Levi didn’t even understand how Eren knew he wouldn’t ever want to kiss a guy. After all, he’d admitted to never having a girlfriend, or kissing anyone ever. How did he know he even liked girls? How did anyone even know they liked anything?!

This was annoying. Eren was annoying. Liking Eren was even more annoying. How had he gotten himself into this mess? The next time Petra needed a favour, he was telling her to shove that favour right up Erwin’s ass.

Not up her own, Petra was amazing, but Erwin could go fuck a badly lubed piece of firewood.

“You have your murder face on,” Hanji commented, falling onto the end of the couch and effectively crushing Levi’s feet. “Something on your mind, kitten?”

“Shut up, shitty-glasses.”

Hanji said nothing else, but kept their gaze on him while he played. He almost felt like throwing the controller at them and going to his room, but that would only confirm that he was bothered by something, and he didn’t want to admit that. Hanji was his roommate and coworker. It was easy for them to determine when something was wrong, and the last thing he needed was Hanji going to Erwin and telling him to take Eren back.

Actually, maybe that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Move Eren to someone else...

No, his brain argued vehemently. Eren is my client, I’m not giving him to someone else.

He should’ve been worried about how possessive he was, but he was busy trying to kill a flying turtle on the screen, so he didn’t allow himself time to dwell on it.

His phone continued to buzz, but he was determined to beat the level before looking at it again. Once he finally hit the flag pole, he wedged the controller between his hip and the couch so Hanji couldn’t grab it and then picked up his phone.

[Eren]
Hannah?
[Eren]
Sorry, was that weird? :S
[Eren]
I was just joking...
[Eren]
Well, you brought it up first but I didn’t mean it...
[Eren]
Noooooo my buuuuuuuus
[Eren]
Eh, I wouldn’t have made it anyway
[Eren]
Unless I can teleport..........

[User]
Can you teleport?

[Eren]
No...

[User]
Then you wouldn’t have made it.

[Eren]
PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT
[Eren]
THANK YOU captain obvious!
[Eren]
You’ve been spending too much time with Levi

[User]
That’s Captain Obvious to you, peasant

[Eren]
Peasant?!
[Eren]
I’m so offended right now!

[User]
Peasants don’t have feelings.

[Eren]
Okay seriously, give me Levi’s number!
[Eren]
I’m going to tell him to stop corrupting you!
[Eren]
You remember he called you fat, right?

Levi smirked, slapping at Hanji’s creeping hand with his free one before calling Eren a peasant a few more times and then putting his phone down. He grabbed the controller and started the next level, Hanji seeming more willing to leave him be when he was actually playing. He could only assume they were getting bored whenever he wasn’t doing anything. Which he supposed was fair.

When his phone went off again, he remembered that Eren had mentioned being ditched by Jean, which meant he was probably bored and would keep texting him. While Levi shouldn’t have bothered with replying, since he didn’t technically have to, this was Eren. If it were anyone else, he wouldn’t respond, especially since Eren had long ago gone over his allotted number of texts for the month.

But, it was Eren, so he just threw his controller to Hanji without even bothering to pause and pulled his feet out from beneath his roommate’s butt.

“You’re heavy, lard-ass. Lose some weight.”

“I hear sex is the best way to lose weight.”

“Then go find someone to fuck. Or for you to fuck. Or I don’t fucking know, you androgynous prick.”

Hanji just snickered, something which Levi ignored in favour of checking his phone.

He felt like hurling it away when he found a text from another client, almost pissed Eren had dared trick him into thinking it was him texting, but he forced himself to calm down and reply to the other client. While he was in the process of doing so, Eren did text, which calmed him considerably and he switched to his message immediately.

[Eren]
Soooooooo

[User]
Soooooooo?

[Eren]
I’m at the bus stop near the mall
[Eren]
And there’s a woman on the phone
[Eren]
And all I heard was “what do you mean he fucking peed in the mailbox?!”
[Eren]
And now I’m very curious as to what has transpired in this woman’s life.

Levi stared at his phone, wondering if he was reading it wrong. Had Eren really just typed what he thought he’d typed?

He couldn’t help it. He laughed. He actually laughed, something which seemed to startle Hanji if the look they gave him was any indication.

“Are you okay?” they asked, clearly concerned.

He couldn’t speak, so he just handed them the phone. It was clear when they’d finished reading, because their laughter howled almost five times louder than Levi’s, the two of them struggling to get themselves back under control.

Overall, while hilarious, Levi knew he was only laughing so hard because obviously it would be Eren who would overhear this conversation. No one but Eren would ever have that kind of luck.

“Oh my God!” Hanji insisted, still laughing and holding Levi’s phone out to him, which he took. “Oh my God! Tell him to ask! Tell him to go talk to her!”

“He might get slapped,” Levi insisted, still chuckling. “No.”

“Please! I must know! It’s for science!”

“Science doesn’t care about peed-in mailboxes.”

He began to respond, then realized that while he was Hannah, girls were more... girly, so he changed his first text before sending it.

[User]
OMG!
[User]
How drunk would someone have to be to do this?! Lol

[Eren]
Who the hell is having a bad enough day that they’re drunk at 3pm?

“What’s he saying? What’s he saying?!” Hanji demanded, practically lying on Levi so they could see his phone too, turning it more to have a better view. Levi ignored them and replied.

[User]
Someone who pissed in their mailbox!

[Eren]
But no, we’re saying the pisser is the drunk one.

[User]
Oh. Right.
[User]
Well then, someone who had a really bad day.

[Eren]
Yeah, but HOW bad?!

[User]
Bad enough to get drunk at 3pm and piss in someone’s mailbox!

“Oh my God,” Hanji insisted, still lying on Levi and cackling like a mad fool. “You and Eren have the best conversations. I’m jealous.”

“You talk to him about killing people and dissecting them, it’s hard for him to have weirder conversations than that with you.”

“Yeah, but I talk about that with everyone,” Hanji dismissed, waving one hand in the air as if to chase away Levi’s words. “Besides, I don’t think he’d talk to me like that. He doesn’t ever text me first. With you, it’s all he does.”

“You’re heavy, get off before I get crushed under your fat ass.”

“Get off?” Hanji waggled their brows. “I’d love to.”

Levi forced himself to roll sideways, Hanji sliding right off him and crashing to the floor. They glared up at him but he just shifted back into position against the arm rest and began a new text to Eren.

“Fine then, get Eren off, see if I care,” Hanji muttered, rubbing their tailbone while slowly getting to their feet.

Levi didn’t respond, he just grabbed the discarded controller and wedged it between himself and the couch again, wanting Hanji to go away and leave him to his texting with Eren.


Eren stared at the email he’d received, chewing on his bottom lip while he read it over and over again. It was a renewal warning for his service with Invisible Significant Other. His one month was coming to a close in exactly twenty-four hours. Well, less by now, since the seconds had been ticking by since the receipt of the email.

A part of him wondered what would happen if he didn’t renew. Would he never hear from Hannah again? And Levi and Hanji? Or would she still talk to him since he was apparently her favourite? He wished he knew, but the chances of her continuing on were slim. He wasn’t her friend, he was a client. Yes, they’d been getting better at that of late, and he considered himself and Levi to actually be particularly close, but still. They were being paid to be in his life, so he had to be realistic about all this.

Sighing, he once again checked that his door was locked before clicking on the renewal link. It immediately opened a new tab requesting a review of all of his information, as well as the package he’d requested. It also showed the two friend profiles for Levi and Hanji. He had to re-input his credit card information, and advise of any relevant changes. A part of him wanted to upgrade his package to phonecalls, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew how dangerous that would be so he left everything exactly as it was and paid. He waited until confirmation of payment was received and then closed the window.

He debated going to play some more Fallout when his email dinged. He turned to it, frowning when it saw it was an alert from the Invisible Significant Other site. Clicking back to his profile, he saw a message from P.R. and opened it.

[P.R.]
I will deny this to the grave, but thank God you renewed.
P.R. 

Eren couldn’t help the smile on his face at reading those words. He hesitated before replying, not wanting to get snapped at, but they’d been doing really well with being friends off the service for almost two weeks now so he felt more confident about it.

Careful, I might renew indefinitely and drive you insane :P
I was gonna play Halo with Levi later, are you going to be available?

He sent the message and leaned back in his seat, wincing and touching his side. It had been bothering him since morning, but he did his best to ignore it. He and Jean had been messing around the day before; he’d probably just gotten hit in the right place so now it was tender. He jumped when his phone trilled loudly, grabbing it and checking his texts before smiling.

[The Bae <3]
Heard you and Levi were playing Halo later.
[The Bae <3]
Wish I could join you and listen to that sexy voice, but unfortunately, I’m going to be busy.
[The Bae <3]
Tell Jean maybe I can listen to him speak next time.

[JaegerMeister]
Hey!
[JaegerMeister]
My voice is TEN TIMES sexier!

[The Bae <3]
If you say so, Lover ;)
[The Bae <3]
Don’t worry, I’m teasing. Though I do wish I could play. I miss hearing you say dirty things to me ;)

Eren really wished she would stop doing that, because it made him almost want to break the Terms and Conditions to see what she would do. If he started sexting her, would she cut him off right away or what?

[JaegerMeister]
Well, can’t do that with Levi around, can I?
[JaegerMeister]
Unless he’s who you want to have the threesome with, then I guess it’d be okay.

[The Bae <3]
You’d have a threesome with Levi?

[JaegerMeister]
Well, you’d be in the middle, right?
[JaegerMeister]
He’s a cool guy, I could probably handle seeing him naked.
[JaegerMeister]
Not sure I like him touching you, but well, I’d deal with it.

[The Bae <3]
Wow
[The Bae <3]
My best friend is competition.
[The Bae <3]
Can’t have that. I’ll have to talk to Hanji about body disposal.

[JaegerMeister]
Nooooooooooooooooooo
[JaegerMeister]
I need him!
[JaegerMeister]
He’s keeping me well ahead of Jean!
[JaegerMeister]
I’m almost one entire level above him now!

[The Bae <3]
I hate that horse -.-
[The Bae <3]
Anyway, I need to get to work, so I’ll talk to you later Lover <3
[The Bae <3]
Don’t dump me for Levi or he won’t survive the plane ride back to school!

[JaegerMeister]
No dumping you for Levi
[JaegerMeister]
Got it
[JaegerMeister]
I can cheat on you with Levi, but I can’t dump you

[The Bae <3]
I will rip off your nuts, Jaeger.

[JaegerMeister]
I was kidding! KIDDING!
[JaegerMeister]
I adore you, don’t hurt my boys :(

[The Bae <3]
I’ll think about it. Bye Lover.

[JaegerMeister]
Bye babe <3

Eren stared at his phone with a smile, wondering how realistic her words truly were. And also his own. Would he be okay having a threesome with, first of all, a girl he’d never met and, second of all, another guy? Levi seemed pretty cool, but he always insulted everyone and he’d admitted to being asexual. Then again, he’d also admitted he had sex every now and then.

But also that he preferred men, so now that he thought about it, if they had a threesome, Levi would probably be more into him than Hannah.

“Oh...” He almost wanted to clarify himself with Hannah but didn’t need to make things awkward or worse. He was sure it was all in jest anyway so he had no reason to worry.

He leapt a mile high and played hot potato with his phone for a few seconds when something slammed into his bedroom door, making him turn around. The action caused his side to spike with pain again and he winced, pressing his hand against it.

“Eren, why is your door locked?” His father asked him.

“Because I was doing something private.” He realized how wrong that sounded and quickly stood to unlock it after dropping his phone on his desk. His father eyed him, as if to ensure he hadn’t been jacking off or looking at porn. Because Eren clearly wasn’t old enough for porn.

“Your mother and I are going out on an errand. Mikasa isn’t back from Armin’s yet, can you ask her to start dinner when she’s back?”

“Sure.” Why his father couldn’t have shouted this to him from downstairs, he had no idea, but he just smiled at him. The older man gave him a suspicious look before shaking his head and turning around to head back down the stairs. He called goodbye to his parents before the front door closed.

Sighing, he left his own open and wandered over to his XBox, booting it up and starting Halo. He didn’t see Levi on yet, and his other university friends seemed to be out having lives because his friends list was remarkably empty at the moment. Deciding to play Campaign mode, he started a new game and tried to do it on a harder playing level. He was doing pretty terribly, if he was honest with himself, and was a little relieved when Levi finally logged on.

He didn’t even have time to find the other’s name to start a party, Levi had already sent him an invite. He accepted with a grin, one hand moving to rub at his side.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you actually liked me, Levi.”

“You’re the only person on my list right now.”

“Whatever you need to tell yourself to feel less like a loser.”

“I’m a loser? Says the guy who’s home playing video games by himself while on summer vacation. Don’t you have a genius and a horse to go entertain?” 

“Armin and Mikasa are hanging out, and Jean’s MIA right now.” He shrugged, leaning back and closing out of Campaign. He knew Levi would be waiting for him so they could go into Matchmaker so he just got everything organized now before he got snapped at. “Besides, are you looking for me to leave? What about your empty friend’s list?”

A sharp stab of pain arced through him and he winced, pressing his hand against his side once more. He was going to have to bite Jean’s head off when he saw him next. If the placement hadn’t been wrong, he’d have assumed he’d gotten punched in the kidney.

“Are we doing this, or what?”

"Waiting on you, Jaeger. Hurry it up.”


Levi scowled at the screen when Eren got killed again, beginning to get annoyed with how badly he was playing today. He wasn’t the best player in the world, but he was usually better than this, and it made him wonder if something was on his mind. His character kept stopping every now and then, but he wasn’t texting Hannah. Levi knew this because his phone was still sitting on the table beside him.

His scowl deepened, the older man slouching further into the couch, back against the arm rest and eyes on the screen. He heard the front door open and Hanji calling up to him about groceries that needed to be brought in. Normally, he’d tell them to go fuck themselves, but since they were losing anyway, courtesy of Eren, he just grunted that he’d be right there and stood.

“I’ll be right back, going to help Hanji with our food.”

“Okay. I’ll cover you.”

“Don’t bother, we’re gonna lose anyway.” He tossed his headset and controller down before moving around the coffee table and turning to head down the spiral staircase to the front door. Hanji was on their way in when he opened the door so he held it for them, and then headed for the car, grabbing the remaining items and slamming the trunk. He was halfway up the drive when the car chirped, Hanji having locked it from the house. He kicked open the front door and headed back up the stairs and straight into the kitchen, dumping all the bags onto the floor. Hanji was already eating something from one of the bags, but Levi just made sure they’d bought him some tea before returning to the game.

Falling back onto the couch, he put his headset back into place and picked up his controller, seeing they weren’t in Matchmaker yet.

“Eren?”

No response.

Maybe he’d gone to the bathroom. Whatever, wasn’t like he was doing well today anyway. He picked up his phone and quickly texted him something from Hannah, just to see if he was doing okay. It would be weird for him to ask as Levi, he felt.

[User]
How’s gaming with Levi?
[User]
Is he yelling at you?

He heard movement through his headset and then a groan, Eren’s voice closer now and suggesting he’d just put his headset back on.

“Where’d you go, take a dump?”

“To get water.” He sounded weird to Levi. Was it normal for him to be able to tell he sounded weird?

“Are you gonna suck less now? What’s wrong with you today?”

“I’m good. Just a setback, don’t worry about it. I’ll be better next round.”

Levi highly doubted that, but he said nothing about it and just grunted for him to get his shit together. They continued to play for a while longer until Eren started sucking so bad he was legitimately pissing Levi off.

“What the fuck, Jaeger?” he demanded in annoyance. “Take a break, get some food, take a piss, whatever! Just go do something else for a while and come back when you’re not gonna suck so fucking bad!”

“Sorry.” Eren sounded like he’d just been kicked in the chest. “I’m... yeah, give me like, half an hour. I’ll be back. Sorry.” 

He logged off before Levi could even say anything else. He frowned at this, wondering what the hell was going on. Eren didn’t usually get so butthurt over being snapped at.

Picking up his phone, he sent a reply to one of his other clients, trying to be as lovey dovey as possible without throwing up all over the carpet and then opened his message to Eren. He still hadn’t replied to his earlier message, which was unusual for him.

[User]
Levi said you just rage quitted
[User]
What’s going on? Are you okay?

Eren hadn’t rage-quitted, but hopefully seeing that would get him a reply. He tossed his phone onto the table and stood, moving to make himself some tea to calm down. Setting the kettle up, he leaned back against the counter and crossed his arms while scowling at the floor, trying to figure out what had happened.

He’d been acting weird since that morning, even with Hannah. Maybe it was the renewal notice? Or maybe Levi shouldn’t have said what he had to him about the renewal. He’d just thought maybe Eren would be happy to know P.R. was glad he was sticking around. Which P.R. was, since that was currently Levi.

He looked up when he heard his Skype go off and wandered back into the living room, tapping the spacebar on his computer to bring it out of sleep mode and answering the call. He didn’t even check who it was, it was always Erwin.

“Yeah, what?”

His friend seemed amused, as if forgetting that Levi spoke to everyone like that. “I saw Petra’s handoff renewed. You must be doing a good job.”

“Little shit’s entertaining,” he admitted, falling onto the couch and crossing his arms. “I don’t mind him as much anymore.”

“All the Halo must be helping.”

Levi didn’t react to that, but secretly insisted he was going to murder Hanji. Where did they get off tattling on him? They were just mad he was monopolizing the living room lately.

“It wasn’t Hanji, I have record of your gameplay, remember?”

Oh. Okay, no death for Hanji then.

“It’s not a big deal, he’s a good player, I’m just hanging out with him. I’m not neglecting anyone.”

“I know. You’ve had only one cancellation this month and they gave you four and a half stars out of five, so I know you’re not chasing people away. I just don’t want you to show favouritism.” Erwin paused, seeming confused by his own words. “That was a weird sentence to say to you aloud, it sounded less weird in my head.”

“Well, this is me.” Levi shrugged. “What do you need, old man? I’m busy. Or did you call to scold me on my over-gaming with one of my clients?”

“Petra’s client.”

That comment pissed Levi off, but he didn’t let it show, just watching Erwin and waiting to see why he was bothering him. He could tell his boss was watching him just as closely, trying to read his expression.

“I have another handoff for you, belongs to Sasha. She’s swamped with work as well as helping her father with his shop. I’m sending you the profile.”

“I’m fucking busy, send it to Hanji,” Levi snapped. “I’ve already got enough clients, plus three friendship contracts.”

“You find time for gaming,” Erwin argued.

“I make time for gaming, don’t give me that shit,” Levi snapped. “I take all the handoffs, give this one to someone else.”

He waited to see if Erwin would overrule his request, but his boss just watched him for a moment longer before nodding and confirming he’d give it to someone else. Levi ended the call without waiting to hear what else he had to say.

Moving back into the kitchen, he grabbed some tea and set the bag into a mug, pouring water into it and heading back into the living room. He heard Hanji on the phone down the corridor but didn’t dwell on it, falling back onto the couch and checking his phone. Still nothing from Eren.

When Hanji’s door opened and he heard them say goodbye, he knew it had been Erwin and turned to watch his roommate approach him.

“Are you okay?” they asked, eying him. “You were pretty rude to Erwin.”

“I’m always rude to Erwin.”

“This was different.” Hanji hesitated. “If you need to talk about it—”

Levi gave them a real look for that comment and his roommate raised both hands in defeat before moving into the kitchen. Turning back to the television, Levi wondered if he was so annoyed because he’d upset Eren. But still, why was he even upset? It wasn’t like he’d been more of a dick than usual. And now he wasn’t even talking to Hannah!

Trying to ignore it, he switched to cable and started watching a random cooking show while Hanji putzed around in the kitchen.

Exactly half an hour after Eren’s disappearance, Levi’s phone went off and he hastily grabbed it, spilling some tea onto his hand in his haste. Luckily it had gotten cooler in the time since he’d poured it, so it didn’t burn him.

[Eren]
I didn’t rage quit...
[Eren]
I wasn’t on my game and I felt bad, so I wanted to take a break.

[User]
Okay...
[User]
You know, when Levi yells at you, you can yell back

[Eren]
Nah, I deserved it :)
[Eren]
I legit sucked.
[Eren]
I think I’m better now though so I’m gonna log back on and hope he doesn’t murder me...

Levi frowned at his words. Better? Better from what?

[User]
Better?
[User]
Are you okay?

[Eren]
Yep :)
[Eren]
Nothing to worry about, all good.
[Eren]
Hope you’re doing well with whatever you’re up to :)

Levi said nothing to that, unsure of how to respond, so he just switched back to Halo and waited for Eren. It took him an additional ten minutes to log back on and Levi instantly added him back into a party.

“Hey, sorry I’m late,” Eren said, his voice sounding off.

“It’s okay.” He hesitated. “I didn’t think you’d get upset by what I said. I was just frustrated.”

“I wasn’t upset, it’s okay.” He laughed. It wasn’t his usual laugh, so something was wrong.

“Hey Eren?”

“What’s up?”

“You’re okay, right?”

“Why does everyone keep asking me that? It’s nothing, I’m good. Come on, let’s play.”

That was the second time he’d implied something was wrong, but if he wouldn’t talk about it, Levi couldn’t do anything about it. He just hoped if it got bad enough that Eren would say something.


“Sorry, that last loss was my bad,” Eren admitted, wincing and bringing one hand down to his right side, pressing hard. “I’m not really on my game today.” An understatement, since Levi had already yelled at him over it over two hours ago. Thankfully, he seemed to have calmed down so that no matter how badly Eren played, he kept his temper mostly in check.

“I noticed,” was the other’s response. “Horse’s blowjob that good?”

Eren forced out a laugh, closing his eyes and pressing down harder on his side. “Asshole, I told you, Jean’s not here. I’m home alone.”

“Don’t tell a stranger that, I might come kidnap you for your kidneys.”

“It’s not like you know where I live. Besides, we’re not really strangers anymore.” He let out a slow breath and then brought both hands to his controller. “Go again?”

“Are you gonna suck less?”

“I’ll do my best,” he promised, trying for a grin that turned more into a grimace. He watched the Matchmaker on the screen pair them with another party and then they voted on their desired map, his one hand moving back down to press hard on his right side.

The dull ache he’d had since that morning was steadily getting worse, particularly this past hour. It was actually really starting to hurt, but he figured pushing down on a spot that already hurt was obviously making it worse. He was sure he just needed to stand up and move around or something.

When the map loaded, he brought both hands back to his controller and began to play, struggling to ignore the pain. He felt like he wasn’t doing too badly, but every time he got killed, he pressed down on his side while waiting to respawn.

“You’re not actually getting a blowjob or something, are you?” 

“What?” Eren asked, his mind a little divided. “Of course not, why?”

“You’re breathing pretty hard. You know your character’s the one running and not you, right?”

“Yeah.” He grit his teeth, the pain getting worse. What the hell? “Hey, can we wait once we’re done this round for a bit?”

“Sure.” Levi sounded almost concerned again. He’d sounded like that earlier, too. “What’s wrong?” 

“Nothing, I just need a break.” He let out a slow breath and then realized Levi was right, he was almost panting.

He tried not to worry about that and focussed on quickly finishing the round, one way or another. They ended up winning, not because of anything Eren did, and he instantly put his controller down and bent over, both hands against his right side and gritting his teeth. A grunt left his lips and he struggled to breathe normally.

“Eren, you’ve been off all day. Seriously, are you okay?”

“My side really hurts,” he grit out, clenching his eyes shut and pressing down harder. When he relieved some of the pressure to shift his hands, the pain intensified and a small cry left his lips. “What the fuck! Jesus, it fucking hurts!”

“You’re not constipated, are you?” Levi asked, though his voice sounded more uncertain than teasing.

“I fought with Jean yesterday, he probably hit something weird.” He went to stand but straightening caused more pain to explode through his side and he actually felt ready to vomit from how badly it hurt. “Oh shit! Fuck! Oh fuck! Yeah, something’s wrong.” He doubled back over, pressing down hard on the spot and breathing hard.

“Eren. Eren! What side is it?”

“God dammit,” he grunted, pressing down harder. “Fuck!”

“Eren, what side?” 

What the hell did it matter what side?! Why was Levi asking him that? Fuck, it hurt so bad, Eren wanted to pass out. It seemed to be getting worse by the second and he really thought he was going to throw up from the pain.

“Eren! Is it your right side?” 

“What?” he bit out through clenched teeth.

“Is it your right side that hurts?” 

“Yes,” he forced out, curling in more on himself and trying to calmly breathe in and out. It wasn’t working very well for him.

“What the hell, Eren, isn’t your dad a fucking doctor?!” Levi sounded crossed between being royally pissed and insanely worried. “How long has it been hurting?! You need to call someone, now! You need to get to the hospital!”

“What?” he asked, confused. It was nothing, Jean had just hit him too hard, that was all. He just needed to take a breath and stand up.

If he could stand up...

Struggling to follow through on that, he managed to straighten and get to his feet and his vision went black, pain exploding through him like white hot fire. It emanated from his side and raced through every nerve in his body, paralysing him with agony.

When his vision cleared, he was on the floor and Levi was screaming in his ear.

“Levi...”

“Jesus Christ, Eren! Fucking call someone, now! It’s your appendix! Call someone!” 

It hurt to move. It hurt to even breathe. But the authority in Levi’s voice was forcing him to obey. He shifted his gaze, looking towards his desk where he knew his phone was. Fuck, it was too far.

“My phone...”

“Get your phone!”

“I can’t...”

“Eren, if you do not get your ass moving to your phone right now, I am going to beat the unholy shit out of you! Get to your phone! Do it now!”

He didn’t want to move. It’d be easier to just lie there and wait for someone to find him, but even as he thought it, he could tell something inside him was wrong. It was more than just pain, it was a weird sense of consciousness. It was like he was in tune with all his organs and he could slowly feel them being suffocated. Something was really wrong, and he wondered if it was his appendix. Maybe it hard burst? Maybe his standing up had made it burst? It had been hurting for hours, maybe that had been the final straw.

“Eren!”

Right. His phone.

“Keep talking to me,” he said, almost begged. He needed something to keep him grounded while he worked through this pain and forced himself to move. His desk wasn’t that far, but with the state he was in, it may as well have been on the other side of the stupid planet.

“Get your ass to your phone. If something happens to you, Hannah’s going to freak out.” 

“Why?” Eren asked, struggling to pull himself forward. It hurt. Fuck, it hurt. “Why will she even care?”

“Because, Eren!”

“Because what?” he demanded, stopping and breathing hard. “Fuck, I can’t. Fuck.”

“Eren, move!”

“I fucking can’t!”

“Eren, you can’t do this! Don’t do this to Hannah! Just... shit. Shit!” Levi obviously didn’t want to talk about whatever this was, and that was something easy for Eren to focus on.

Struggling to move again, he grunted and tried to pull himself forward. The headset was straining, the cord must’ve been caught on something. He exhaled sharply and pulled himself forward, feeling the headset slide off his ear and around his neck.

“Hannah likes you, okay? Like, actually likes you. Not in a fake ‘service’ way, but in a real way. You make her happy. So get off your ass now.”

Eren let out a grunt, wondering if those words were a hallucination, but deciding it didn’t matter. Whatever got him moving.

“I can’t...”

“You have to! Come on, Eren! You can’t just lie there! I can’t sit here and listen to you fucking die! Get to your phone!” 

He struggled to yank the headset off from around his neck and grabbed at the edge of his desk. With a grunt, he tried to pull himself up and blacked out for half a second. When his vision returned, he hastily reached up and found his phone, falling back into a heap beside his desk, vision swimming.

“Shit... shit...” he was having a hard time putting in his password, but he finally managed it. He could hear Levi yelling from the headset while he scrolled to his dad’s number. A part of him thought about calling nine-one-one, but that would be stupid because he’d probably black out before he got his address out.

“Eren! Talk to me!”

“I want to pass out,” he managed, scrolling through his contacts.

“I will beat the shit out of you if you pass out on me, Jaeger!”

There. His dad. Right there. He hit the contact and then the phone icon and waited. It rang. And rang. Shit, if his dad didn’t answer...

It was getting harder to stay conscious and he was suddenly aware that his face was wet. He would’ve been embarrassed at the fact that he was crying loudly enough for a guy who was essentially his friend because he’d paid for him to be could hear him, but it hurt too much for him to dwell on it.

“Eren, you have to stay with me, okay? Just stay awake and talk to me for a bit longer.”

“Eren?” His dad.

“Dad.” He inhaled deeply, which made him feel ready to vomit again.

“Eren? Eren, what is it? Are you okay?”

No. He wasn’t. He wasn’t okay.

“Dad, my appendix.”

His vision was fading, the pain was insane and he just wanted to pass out.

“What? Eren? Eren!” His dad.

“Eren!” Levi now. “Eren, talk to me! Don’t do this to me! Eren!” 

TBC...

Chapter Text

Levi sat staring at Halo still playing on his screen, hands clenched tightly together and breathing as even as he could force it to be.

He had no idea what was going on with Eren right now. He’d been screaming his name for close to five minutes, trying to get him to wake back up, when he heard movement in his room. He knew it was either his family or paramedics based on the snippets he’d heard over the headset, but they hadn’t said anything about whether or not he was okay.

He’d spent the past two hours struggling not to look up what happened when someone’s appendix actually burst because he didn’t want to freak himself out. He’d known a few people who’d had to have it removed, but none had ever had it burst before. He remembered someone once telling him that it released toxins that could kill people, and now he was really concerned about Eren.

And the worst thing was: nobody could even tell him.

They would all be out looking for his girlfriend Hannah to tell her what happened if Eren actually died, but they’d never find her. Levi didn’t even know what university Eren went to, so he couldn’t even enroll for a semester under her name to ensure he got details.

Fuck, how had this even happened? He felt like he was going to throw up.

“Levi.”

He tensed, not having heard Hanji approach, and glanced at the cup of steaming tea they were holding out to him. It took a conscious effort for him to straighten and take it with a nod of thanks.

“Still nothing?”

“No,” he said, the word feeling tight. “I’m not going to find anything out until he texts me himself.”

“I’m sure he’s fine,” Hanji insisted, trying to sound cheerful but they didn’t quite manage it. “It’s not the first time someone’s appendix has burst, and someone showed up relatively quickly, right?”

That was true, and it did make him feel a little bit better. He was sure Dr. Jaeger had gotten the gist of it from Eren’s comment about his appendix.

Still, he was going insane wondering if Eren was okay, and he was pissed he hadn’t pushed Eren to talk to him earlier in the day. He’d been playing poorly all day, why hadn’t he insisted on being told what was wrong sooner? It was clear something was wrong, so he shouldn’t have just let the matter drop like he had, it had been careless and stupid.

If Eren had told him about his side hurting hours ago, they could’ve gotten him to the hospital in plenty of time.

An alert sounded through his headset, but he didn’t look up. Hanji did, and frowned a little.

“You have a friend request from GodsGiftToWomen.”

“I don’t care.”

Hanji stared at it for a while longer, as if thinking. “Isn’t that what the horse thinks of himself?”

At those words, Levi suddenly realized he didn’t have Jean friended on XBox and instantly looked up. He shoved his mug back at Hanji and picked up his controller, moving to his inbox to add the new request.

Once he did, he saw a request to join his party and Levi accepted.

“Levi?”

“Jean,” he said, trying not to sigh too loudly in relief. “Is Eren okay?”

“He’s still in surgery, but I thought I should let you know what’s going on. Mikasa said you were still connected to Eren’s headset when she got home after her dad. I figured you’d want to know what was happening as things came up. Might also be a good idea to let his girlfriend know, too. She’s been texting him.”

Levi knew that, he was the one doing the texting.

“Was it his appendix?”

“Yeah, it burst. Apparently when that happens they have to like... open you up and take all your organs out to clean them or something gross like that.” 

That didn’t sound very safe. Levi hoped that wasn’t what they had to do, that really sounded dangerous. And unsanitary.

“When are you gonna know if he’s okay?”

“No idea. I’m hoping soon, but I’ll let you know. I can text you if you give me your number.”

Levi opened his mouth to give it to him, then realized he couldn’t. He didn’t have a personal phone, he only had his client one. If he gave him that number and Eren saw it, he’d know. But did that really matter right now? He wanted to be kept informed.

Hanji tapped his shoulder, then motioned themselves. Levi nodded in thanks.

“My phone’s broken, I’ll give you my roommate’s number.”

“Sure.”

He rattled off Hanji’s number and Jean texted it to ensure it worked. When Hanji’s phone went off, Levi told him they’d gotten the message and Jean logged out after promising to keep him informed.

Pulling his headset off for the first time since Eren’s incident, Levi rubbed at his face, suddenly feeling like he’d aged ten years. Then, he finally stood and went to look up burst appendices on the internet. He couldn’t sit there and wait anymore, and after what Jean had said, he had to know if that was true.

Grabbing his computer, he sat down in his usual spot on the couch and quickly opened Google, typing in any keywords he could think of and opening a bunch of different sites. From what he could tell, most of the burst appendices could be treated with strong antibiotics and removal of the appendix. He only found one site where they talked about having to “clean” the surrounding organs, so he just hoped that whatever Eren had, it wasn’t as bad as that. Maybe it was honestly nothing to worry about and he would be fine.

Levi slammed the computer shut and let out a slow breath, shifting his gaze to Hanji when he found the other watching him.

“What?”

“Nothing. I’m going to tell Erwin what happened.”

“Fine.”

Hanji disappeared. Levi figured they were trying to give him space, which he appreciated. Though they’d also taken their phone, which he appreciated a little less since that was where Jean would be sending updates.

Letting out another slow breath, he looked back at the screen once more, trying to focus on Halo in an attempt to distract himself.

“I swear, if you die on me brat, I’m gonna be really, really pissed off.”


“Levi.”

Said individual let out a loud groan, struggling to remain asleep given he didn’t get much of it to begin with. The hand on his shoulder shaking him didn’t let up and he finally forced open his eyes, momentarily confused by his surroundings. It took a few seconds to realize he’d fallen asleep on the couch.

Looking up, he found Hanji standing over him, holding out their phone. Why were they—?

His brain snapped back into focus and he sat up, rubbing his eyes with one hand and grabbing the phone with the other, reading through the messages.

[Eren’s friend]
Uh, hello roommate of Levi?

[Hanji]
Yes, I’m here. How is Eren?

[Eren’s friend]
Out of surgery, but still unconscious.
[Eren’s friend]
The doc’s one of his dad’s colleagues, said he was gonna be okay
[Eren’s friend]
Can you let his girlfriend know?
[Eren’s friend]
She’s been texting his phone, but we haven’t been able to unlock it to let her know anything.

[Hanji]
No problem, I’ll let Hannah know. And Levi.
[Hanji]
Thanks for letting us know.

[Eren’s friend]
Sure.
[Eren’s friend]
Hey, it’s me again.
[Eren’s friend]
He’s awake now
[Eren’s friend]
Super out of it though
[Eren’s friend]
He’s gonna be stuck in the hospital for at least a week, his dad says
[Eren’s friend]
They had to like, cut him open and shit

[Hanji]
As long as he’s awake and okay
[Hanji]
Thanks Jean, we appreciate the update
[Hanji]
Levi was playing Halo with him when this all happened so he was a little traumatized

[Eren’s friend]
Yeah
[Eren’s friend]
I’m so pissed, if I’d been playing too, I’d have gotten help there faster
[Eren’s friend]
Why didn’t Levi just call nine-one-one?

[Hanji]
Didn’t have Eren’s address

[Eren’s friend]
He could’ve asked for it. Eren almost died. He should’ve asked for the address and called for help.

[Hanji]
Levi was too panicked to ask.
[Hanji]
I’m sorry this happened, but the important thing is that Eren is okay.

[Eren’s friend]
Sure.
[Eren’s friend]
Anyway, I’m gonna head back in. Wanna stick around until he passes back out.

[Hanji]
Thanks Jean.

[Eren’s friend]
Yeah

Levi handed the phone back, feeling a weight having lifted off his chest. He was relieved to hear that Eren was okay, but he was also pretty pissed he hadn’t just bitten the bullet and asked for his address. He hadn’t only because that wasn’t information he was allowed to have, a client’s address. Not without their consent. But realistically, Eren had been dying, and Levi had just sat there yelling at him. Hanji had even ended up running out because of it.

He hadn’t known what to do, he’d felt so helpless and useless and he just... couldn’t believe this had actually happened. A part of him felt like it was some kind of weird dream. Eren was fine, he was asleep in bed. He’d text him back tomorrow morning with another weird “you know what I wonder?” question and things would be normal.

Levi covered his mouth with one hand, brain going back to what he’d said to Eren for the millionth time. He couldn’t believe he’d admitted Hannah’s feelings, his feelings. He didn’t even know if they were true or if he’d just blurted that out spur of the moment to keep Eren awake. But that didn’t matter anymore, because Eren had heard him and now he was going to have to figure out what to do about it.

“I should’ve let you sleep,” Hanji said, sitting down beside him on the couch. “Are you going to be able to go back to sleep now?”

“No. Maybe?” He rubbed his face, rubbing one hand up against his undercut and staring at the floor. “I should’ve asked for his address. Called for help.”

“Levi, you got him to his phone. He got help. He’s okay.” Hanji nudged him. “Eren’s gonna be okay, and it’s thanks to you.”

He didn’t think he’d done much to deserve Hanji’s words, but he just nodded in response and let out a sigh, leaning back properly on the couch, for once, and throwing one arm over his eyes.

“Shit. That shithead is trying to kill me.”

Hanji said nothing at first, but when they spoke a few minutes later, they did so very quietly, as if afraid to speak the words aloud.

“You really like him, don’t you?”

“You know I do,” Levi insisted. “He’s entertaining.”

“No Levi, you really like him.”

He lifted his arm off his eyes to turn to look at Hanji, the other watching him intently. He scowled, replacing his arm.

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Tread lightly, Levi. Even if you could do this outside the client/service relationship, he thinks you’re Petra.”

“I’m not doing anything outside the service, Hanji.”

“I hope not.”

He said nothing to this, and the two remained where they were on the couch, listening to the sounds of the house settling and the occasional car passing by outside.

Levi wasn’t going to relax until he got a text from Eren himself confirming he was okay.

He didn’t trust the horse.


[JaegerMeister]
Jeez, what’s with all the texts? You’d think I almost died or something :P

[The Bae <3]
Not fucking funny, Eren!
[The Bae <3]
You scared the shit out of me!
[The Bae <3]
Are you okay?

[JaegerMeister]
Sorry :(
[JaegerMeister]
Haha, yeah, I’m fine

[The Bae <3]
That’s what you told Levi before collapsing!
[The Bae <3]
You scared the shit out of him too, you know!

[JaegerMeister]
Nah, he’s fine :P
[JaegerMeister]
He helped me out a lot though
[JaegerMeister]
I don’t think I’d have gotten to my phone without him
[JaegerMeister]
Tell him thanks for me

[The Bae <3]
Tell him yourself when you get home!
[The Bae <3]
Asshole
[The Bae <3]
Are you still at the hospital?

[JaegerMeister]
Yeah
[JaegerMeister]
Seven days -.-
[JaegerMeister]
Day two, yay...
[JaegerMeister]
The food isn’t as bad as people claim it is, but the TV is hell
[JaegerMeister]
They only have like, dramas and soaps
[JaegerMeister]
And my roommate is an old lady who freaks when I change the channel

[The Bae <3]
You don’t have your own room?
[The Bae <3]
Isn’t your dad a doctor there?

[JaegerMeister]
Nope
[JaegerMeister]
Yeah, he is, but that doesn’t mean I get special treatment
[JaegerMeister]
They don’t have a lot of rooms free right now
[JaegerMeister]
And I’m okay, mostly, so no point in taking up another room if I can share with someone

[The Bae <3]
I guess
[The Bae <3]
You’re really okay, right?
[The Bae <3]
Seriously?

[JaegerMeister]
Seriously :)

[The Bae <3]
Don’t lie to me.

[JaegerMeister]
I’d never ;)

[The Bae <3]
Good.
[The Bae <3]
Hey Lover?

[JaegerMeister]
Yeah?

[The Bae <3]
I’m really glad you’re okay <3

[JaegerMeister]
Thanks :)
[JaegerMeister]
Jean and Armin just showed up with my sister, so I’ll talk to you later

[The Bae <3]
Damn straight
[The Bae <3]
Talk to you soon <3

[JaegerMeister]
Later babe.

Eren winced while shifting to set his phone down and Mikasa took it, placing it on the table in front of him where his semi-appetizing lunch was located. He offered her a small smile in thanks.

“You look like shit, Kamikaze-Head,” Jean commented.

“And still better looking than your horse’s ass of a face,” he insisted, managing a small grin before wincing while he shifted to get more comfortable.

He could feel the tension in the room, his friends and sister still waiting for something to go wrong. Waiting for him to just keel over and die.

“Is Levi super pissed?” he asked Jean, his friend shaking his head.

“No way, he’s fine. He just freaked out because he didn’t know what to do. Pissed he didn’t ask for your address though, he could’ve called for help for you.”

Eren hadn’t even thought about it until Jean had mentioned it the day before during a visit. His friend was still extremely pissed about the lack of intelligence, but Eren understood. On the one hand, yes, Levi should’ve asked, but on the other hand, Eren honestly wasn’t sure he’d have given it to him. Sure, they were quasi-friends, but it would still be weird for someone he’d paid for a service from to have his address. Then again, he’d literally almost died, so maybe he shouldn’t have been so worried about it.

And then there was the other thing... What Levi had said about Hannah. He had to wonder how true it was, but decided he had tons of time to dwell on it during his roommate’s soap marathons. Right now, he had friends to entertain him, so he should pay attention to them.

“How do you feel today?” Mikasa asked, taking a seat beside him on the bed. She didn’t look any different from usual, but Eren knew her so well he could tell she’d had a bad few nights. She hadn’t been sleeping well—or enough—and the worry in her gaze made him feel guilty.

He knew his appendix bursting wasn’t his fault, but similarly, if he’d said something sooner in the day, it wouldn’t have ended up this way. His surgery would’ve been small and he would’ve been able to go home the same day after a few hours of observation. But because he hadn’t said anything, because he’d assumed it was nothing, instead they’d literally had to cut him open, and now he would have a huge, disgusting scar across his stomach. He was sure it would fade, for the most part, but still.

“Eren?”

He realized he’d spaced out and looked back over at Mikasa, offering her the best grin he could manage while being in pain. “I’m fine, Mikasa.”

“Why didn’t you realize it sooner?” Armin asked, looking nervously around the room, as if he were scared of bothering Eren’s neighbour. He didn’t know why his friend cared, the old lady was mostly deaf, if the volume of the television was anything to go by.

“Realize what?”

“That it was your appendix!” Armin waved one hand slightly. “Eren, you were there when mine needed to be removed, how didn’t you realize it was that?”

“Jean and I were fighting yesterday,” he said with a shrug, then instantly winced and brought one hand to his bandaged abdomen. “I just thought he hit me really well, for once.”

Jean didn’t rise to the bait, and that kind of annoyed Eren. He was fine, why were they all acting like he was dying? Like they had to walk on eggshells?

“So, what happened the past few days?” he asked, wanting to move onto better topics.

“Mom is fussing around the house, trying to keep herself busy,” Mikasa informed him. “Dad’s working, as usual.”

“I added Levi on XBox,” Jean offered with a shrug, hands in his pockets. “I figured he should know what was going on with you, since he was still connected when you passed out.”

Eren still felt really bad—and slightly embarrassed—about that. All he could remember was Levi shouting that he couldn’t listen to him die, almost begging for him not to do this to him. It made him feel guilty. Someone he didn’t even really know had been freaking out on the other end, probably not knowing what to do and clearly wishing he could help.

Eren found it hard to focus on his friends while he thought about everything that had happened two days before, but he couldn’t help it. He knew that if Levi hadn’t been there, if he hadn’t forced him to reach his phone, or even just asked about which side it was, Eren would’ve died.

He’d always known the appendix was a dangerous thing, but he honestly hadn’t realized it could actually kill people. He’d heard it could, but he’d never met anyone who knew someone who had died because of it, so it was weird to imagine.

“You seem tired,” Mikasa said, clearly catching on to Eren’s distracted mind. “We should let you get some rest.”

“Thanks,” he said. She reached down to squeeze his hand, offered him a tight smile, then left the room. Jean and Armin both wished him well, waved goodbye and departed behind her. He noticed Jean’s shoulders looked extremely tight, as if he was more worried than he was letting on.

Eren didn’t get it. He was okay, why were they all so worried?

Picking up his phone, he hesitated before actually texting Hannah. He tried not to think about Levi’s earlier words and just focussed on talking to her about anything.

[JaegerMeister]
Why is everyone walking on eggshells around me right now?
[JaegerMeister]
I’m not on my death bed...

[The Bae <3]
Because, dumbass!
[The Bae <3]
You had your stomach cut open!
[The Bae <3]
If that gets infected, or if something happens, you’re in a lot of trouble!
[The Bae <3]
Everyone is just worried. You scared a lot of people, I hope you realize.

[JaegerMeister]
Yeah, I know
[JaegerMeister]
Traumatized Levi, I remember

[The Bae <3]
Don’t joke, Eren
[The Bae <3]
You have no idea how scared he was when you passed out
[The Bae <3]
He didn’t have any idea what was happening after you got taken away
[The Bae <3]
And neither of us knew how we would find out about what happened if you actually did die. We’d have had no way of being informed.

Eren hadn’t thought about that. He hadn’t considered that, if he died, Hannah, Levi and Hanji wouldn’t have had any means of finding out. Sure, they knew his name and his number, but would they have been able to find an obituary for him? Would his parents even have had one written for him? Not everyone had those done, so it was entirely possible that he’d have died and the others never would’ve known.

It made him feel guilty for all of this. For lying to his family, for being in this service. It made him almost regret having done it, even though he’d gotten a solid friendship out of it with Levi, and something else with Hannah. Whatever that something else even was.

[JaegerMeister]
I’m sorry
[JaegerMeister]
I don’t even know what to say

[The Bae <3]
Levi told me
[The Bae <3]
About what he said
[The Bae <3]
About... you know...

His heart did a weird double-thump in his chest at those words, and his hand tightened around his phone. The television seemed to be increasing in volume, but he could barely tell with the sound of blood rushing through his ears.

He hadn’t wanted to bring it up, hadn’t wanted to talk to her about it. If they didn’t talk about it, it wasn’t real. That would’ve been better, it wouldn’t make things weird for them. So why was she bringing it up? Was she trying to get the words out before Eren did?

[JaegerMeister]
We don’t need to talk about it
[JaegerMeister]
I know he was just trying to get me to my phone

[The Bae <3]
Is that what you think?
[The Bae <3]
That Levi lied?

[JaegerMeister]
Isn’t it just better that I think that?

[The Bae <3]
Probably
[The Bae <3]
But I don’t want it to change the nature of our relationship
[The Bae <3]
And not talking about it will make things awkward if I make an inappropriate joke
[The Bae <3]
You’d get weird

[JaegerMeister]
No I wouldn’t!

[The Bae <3]
Lover, you’d get weird.

Seeing that word made something clench in his chest. Lover. He hated that he’d asked for her to call him that. And now, knowing what he knew, was she saying that because that was what he’d asked for, or was she saying that out of habit? Or because she meant it, even?

And now he realized she was right. Knowing what he knew now, things were weird, and different. He wanted to talk to her about it, but how could he do that without making it clear to anyone who hijacked his phone that Hannah wasn’t really his girlfriend?

He wanted to call her, but he couldn’t. It wasn’t in his contract, and he didn’t even know if they’d moved beyond that to allow it. This was so fucked up, what the hell was he doing? Dammit!

[JaegerMeister]
You don’t have to call me that.

[The Bae <3]
Call you what?
[The Bae <3]
Lover?

[JaegerMeister]
Lover.
[JaegerMeister]
Yeah.
[JaegerMeister]
You don’t have to call me that.

[The Bae <3]
I like calling you that.
[The Bae <3]
Look Eren, I know things are a little weird now, and different, but Levi wasn’t lying when he said what he said.
[The Bae <3]
I hate having to admit it, but it’s true. There’s just something about you and...
[The Bae <3]
It doesn’t have to change anything, I just wanted you to know it wasn’t a lie.
[The Bae <3]
He didn’t say it so you’d get to your phone. He said it because it was true, and he knew how badly I’d be freaking out if you died.

[JaegerMeister]
So how does this even work now?
[JaegerMeister]
I mean...
[JaegerMeister]
I don’t even know what to say.

[The Bae <3]
You don’t have to say anything, Jaeger.
[The Bae <3]
Just accept that it’s a fact and let’s move on.

“But I can’t,” he muttered to himself, hesitating in his response. He wished he could ask someone for advice, but he didn’t have anyone available. Mikasa, Jean and Armin didn’t know Hannah wasn’t real, and he didn’t know how to begin explaining this to his university friends. He couldn’t get in touch with Levi, so...

[JaegerMeister]
It’s true for me, too.

[The Bae <3]
What is?

[JaegerMeister]
What Levi said
[JaegerMeister]
It’s true for me too

[The Bae <3]
Okay.

Eren couldn’t help it. He let out a laugh, and then instantly groaned and placed one hand gently atop his bandages, struggling to ignore the pain, eyes clenching tightly. He had to be careful not to do anything that would pop his stitches. The last thing he wanted was to actually die now that he was already better.

He just couldn’t help it. That was such a Hannah response. Okay.

Shaking his head, he quickly typed out one last message before placing his phone down on his tray and sliding down more so he could lie down and get some rest. He wanted to get out of this hospital, and the only way to achieve that was to get better. So that was what he was going to do.

[JaegerMeister]
Okay :)
[JaegerMeister]
We’ll figure out the rest later
[JaegerMeister]
For now, I have some sleeping to do so I’m gonna let you go
[JaegerMeister]
ttyl babe <3


 

Yes! Burn motherfucker, burn! Button mashing the ‘A’ on his controller, Levi’s eyes watched the screen intently while he used his flamethrower to light everyone in the vicinity on fire, the screen lighting up the semi-dark room.

He’d been game-hopping for almost four hours now, trying to find something to occupy his mind ever since he’d woken up, but nothing kept his attention for long. It was hard for him to focus on a game when all he could think about was Eren’s texts.

Why had he said that? Why hadn’t he just let things go so they could both return to normal? And even worse: Eren liked Hannah, who didn’t even exist! And Levi had no idea how to tell him that. If he admitted it now, Eren would be pissed off for sure. But if he said nothing, wasn’t that almost worse?

He’d been on the verge of admitting it to him, of telling him that it was him who inexplicably had a weird sort of fascination with him—which Hanji insisted was a normal person’s version of a crush—but then Eren had said he felt the same way.

He couldn’t tell him he was actually Levi when Eren had just admitted something like that! No, it was better to just... wait it out. It wasn’t like this was going to last or anything, Levi knew he’d eventually get bored. And if he didn’t, Eren would. It would be fine, everything would work out.

Letting out an annoyed grunt, he stood abruptly and ejected the game without bothering to save it or remove it the correct way. He was just annoyed, because he was thinking about Eren again. He’d never been like this with anyone before, not even with people he knew in real life. No one had ever been as interesting as Eren. But it was more than even that, it wasn’t just that Eren was interesting, he was just... honest. And kind. And he wanted to do what was best for everyone, not just for himself. He truly cared about people and even though he’d been annoying at the beginning of their contract, Levi acknowledged that it was because Eren wanted to make sure that the person on the other end was doing all right. That they weren’t bored or overwhelmed or stressed. He truly wanted to make sure that everyone involved was having a good day, and that pissed Levi off!

Because now he couldn’t stop thinking about him, and he wanted to admit who he was to him, but he knew if he did Eren would be pissed and never speak to him again! He didn’t want to even consider kissing a guy, for crying out loud! How was Levi supposed to convince him to give him a chance when Eren was too chicken shit to consider it?!

“You’re going to break it.”

Levi whipped around, eyes hard and expression most likely terrifying because Hanji looked startled for a second before recovering.

“The disc.” They motioned what Levi was holding. “You’re going to break it.”

Realizing what they meant, Levi put his game back in its case and tossed it onto the TV stand, turning to head back to the couch and taking up residence against the arm-rest, like he always did.

“You can play, I’m done,” he informed his roommate.

Hanji seemed to hesitate, as if having come out to talk to him, but Levi gave them a clear look that they would be tossed through the window if they even attempted to bring up his foul mood so they seemed to think better of it and just picked up the Wii-mote, turning on the console and putting in one of the Super Mario games. They hesitated, then picked up another controller, holding it up for Levi to see.

“Want to play with me?”

“No.”

“Could be fun.”

“No.”

Hanji wasn’t good at taking no for an answer and just fell down beside Levi, tossing him the controller. It almost hit him in the face, but when he glared at Hanji for the action, they didn’t even look at him, focussing on getting the game started.

In the menu, when they hit two players, the screen refused to advance until Levi acknowledged himself as the second player. He only did so because Hanji turned to stare at him with an unsettling gaze until he complied.

They started their game together, Hanji doing much better than Levi, but that made sense because they were more practised at it. Levi died a lot, but Hanji was really good at avoiding being killed until his little Luigi character returned, floating along towards the Mario in a little bubble.

They’d cleared most of the first world together when Hanji finally spoke, forcing Levi’s attention back to something he didn’t want to think about.

“Jean said Eren’s doing pretty well.”

“Good.” He didn’t care.

Okay, he did care, he just didn’t want to care.

Would he have cared if it was any client other than Eren? He didn’t know. He felt as though he would be worried, for sure, but would he truly care? No. He didn’t think he would. But this was Eren, and for some stupid reason, he cared about Eren.

Maybe it was because he was too innocent. The kid was twenty-one years old, for fuck’s sake, how had he never kissed a girl before?

Then again, Levi also knew thirty year olds who had never had sex before, so maybe he shouldn’t have been judging someone who was virtually an infant.

“Still haven’t heard from him?” Hanji asked, clearly not catching on that Levi didn’t want to talk about it. Or they had, and didn’t care. That was more likely.

“His phone died.”

Eren’s phone had run out of battery exactly seventy-eight hours, forty-two minutes and eight seconds ago. His parents had refused to bring his charger, because he was supposed to be resting, so he had essentially been told that he couldn’t text anyone and had to focus on getting better and that he could talk to his girlfriend—as well as Jean, Mikasa and Armin—when he went home. His friends had even been asked to diminish their visits, and only Mikasa ever still went regularly.

He only knew this thanks to Jean, who he’d been gaming with lately to keep his mind off Eren, which was a stupid thing to do since all he and Jean had in common was Eren, so he tended to be the only thing they spoke about.

Jean had been busy today, which was why Levi had been trying to burn people alive in other video games.

Much as he hated having to hear about Eren, he also really liked being able to learn more about him through Jean. It was clear that, despite how often they seemed to argue and fight, they had a solid friendship. Jean truly respected his friend, even if he always insulted him. In some ways, Levi wondered if the reason Jean kept talking about him was because he was worried about him and didn’t want anyone to know. Telling Levi, who was essentially a stranger, seemed like the easiest way for him to get his worries off his chest.

“Why are you still texting the horse, anyway?” Levi demanded, scowling when his Luigi missed the jump before the flagpole and fell to his death. Hanji caught the top of it and the level ended.

“He’s nice, and he’s keeping me updated on Eren. Me being updated on Eren keeps you updated on Eren.” Hanji turned to him then. “You play with him, how is that different?”

“Because we’re playing.”

“And talking about Eren.”

“I don’t talk about Eren,” he countered, knowing it was stupid to argue since Hanji was often within earshot and could clearly hear him talking about Eren.

Hanji just shrugged, evidently not interested in turning this into a fight, and looked back at the screen, starting the next level. “Did you tell Erwin?”

“Yeah.”

Even though Hanji had been the one to advise Erwin of what had happened with Eren, Levi knew he couldn’t avoid his boss forever or he’d get suspicious, so he’d finally called him the day before. He’d explained Eren’s situation, and that he would be unable to communicate with him for a few days because of his hospital admittance, so Erwin had agreed to give Eren a discount the following month if he decided to renew again. Levi didn’t find that fair, but also acknowledged that Erwin was turning a blind eye to his over-gaming with him, so he tried not to get annoyed about it.

“Can I ask you something?”

Hanji turned to him, seeming confused. “Of course.”

“Is it really so weird?” he asked, managing to kill one of the turtles on the screen and then effectively kicking the shell into himself, thus causing his own demise. “That I care about Eren?”

“Well, yeah, kind of,” Hanji insisted, turning away from him once more. “You’re not really the most sociable person, and you don’t really seem to like anyone. You tolerate people, but I know that you’re barely fond of me, and I’ve known you for years. You’ve known Eren just over a month, and admitted that you liked him. That’s a little bit weird to me, and I haven’t known you half as long as Erwin and Petra have.”

He supposed it was true. Not to say he didn’t like Hanji, but he could only take them in small doses, which was why living together could sometimes be a challenge. Erwin he’d been roommates with in university, and again, while he didn’t hate him, and he definitely respected him, he found himself often wanting to be left alone when they’d been together.

He wasn’t like that with Eren. He spent all his time thinking about him, wanting to talk to him, even if he had nothing to say. Even if all they did was talk about pipes in malls and the invention of doors, and how cavemen really discovered fire. He didn’t care how pointless or stupid the conversations were, he wanted to talk to him.

Even now, he acknowledged his bad mood the last few days was from withdrawal. He hadn’t even known it was possible to feel withdrawal towards a person. He didn’t like this, Eren was doing weird things to him.

Hanji’s phone went off and they pulled it from their pocket, not bothering to pause the game, which ended up being a mistake. Levi had forged onwards and had pulled the screen so much that Hanji’s Mario got stuck between the moving screen and the edge of a block and gotten crushed, instantly dying. Then Levi had jumped right into an enemy’s fireball, joining Hanji’s character in the graveyard. He didn’t understand how he could dominate at Halo, which was considered a relatively difficult game, and yet couldn’t manage to get through one level of Super Mario without dying for a stupid reason.

Then again, he’d been doing fine playing it the other day, so he was obviously just distracted. Stupid Eren. Stupid feelings. He liked it better when Eren was just another annoying client he had to contend with.

“Eren’s going home tomorrow.”

Levi turned to Hanji when they said this, motioning their phone. “Jean just said his father’s taking him home tomorrow.”

“A day early,” Levi commented. Thank God.

“Seems he’s doing much better, and his injury is healing up nicely. He’ll still have to be careful, but he’s not in any danger anymore, which is the important thing.” Hanji was replying back to Jean, seeming mildly pleased with this information. Sometimes, Levi forgot that Hanji also spoke to Eren, and that he wasn’t the only one who cared about him.

He wondered how Erwin would react if he met Eren, as well. His boss was good at keeping his distance, but it was virtually impossible with the little shit. He just sucked people in like a giant black hole, and Levi felt like he was losing his ability to exist without him.

And that was dangerous. And scary. And he hated Eren for making him feel this way.

Love really sucked, and Levi wasn’t even sure that was truly the emotion he was experiencing.

“Tell the horse you’re busy, we have a game to beat,” Levi snapped, restarting the level and effectively killing Hanji immediately once more.

Tomorrow felt like it might as well have been a year away.


[Eren]
And that’s why there’s doctors and you’re supposed to do what they tell you.
[Eren]
And I didn’t.

[User]
Clearly
[User]
Only you can go to a hospital for a burst appendix and leave with a concussion.

[Eren]
In my defence, the shower was VERY slippery, okay?

[User]
You’re still supposed to be supervised
[User]
Not run off in the middle of the night to shower without being watched
[User]
What if you’d popped your stitches?

[Eren]
I didn’t

[User]
But you could have

[Eren]
BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT I didn’t
[Eren]
And I’m fine
[Eren]
And got punished enough for it by being bored out of my mind for a week
[Eren]
So can we not talk about how dumb it was for me to try and shower without supervision?

[User]
I can’t blame the staff for being mad at you
[User]
If I were there, I’d want to supervise you, too

[Eren]
I’d probably let you
[Eren]
Though I’m pretty big, remember?
[Eren]
When I slipped, I probably would’ve made you fall down with me.

[User]
I’m pretty strong

[Eren]
Not as strong as me :P

[User]
Whatever you say, Lover
[User]
So...
[User]
Can I see it?

[Eren]
So?
[Eren]
See what?

[User]
The scar?

[Eren]
Oh. Well, it’s not a scar yet, it’s barely even healed up.
[Eren]
And it’s bandaged up. You’d get a picture of my chest with a bandage.

[User]
I’m okay with that
[User]
Never gonna say no to a picture of you

“Here Levi, take this shovel, it’s to help you dig yourself into a deeper hole,” he muttered to himself, scrolling back up to re-read their conversation.

Eren had been released a few hours before and had been charging his phone since his arrival home. Levi had practically spat out his beer when he’d seen the name of the person texting him, and testament to how badly he cared about Eren, he’d let his character die on screen and lost the Halo game he was in, but hadn’t managed to care.

Dammit, he had it bad for this moron.

He’d honestly expected Eren to make a joke about it and move on, but surprisingly, his next text from the other was a picture. Opening it, he scowled at the image, preferring the cocky look on Eren’s face the last time he’d sent him one.

This time, he’d averted his face so that it was showing as little as possible. He was standing in a bathroom with no shirt, wearing only sweats, phone aimed at the mirror so he could take a good picture.

His entire stomach was heavily bandaged, and his free hand was resting lightly on his right side. It was clear he was still in a lot of pain, and Levi hoped he had some painkillers. His father was a doctor, so it was unlikely he hadn’t drugged his son up at least a little bit.

Levi’s eyes shifted to the left when he heard Hanji’s door open, his roommate wandering down the corridor and into the kitchen. He listened to them putter around while he texted Eren back, commenting on how it looked painful. Levi had never had surgery himself, but getting a fucking papercut hurt, so he couldn’t imagine how it’d feel to have a huge gash across his stomach.

Hanji wandered out of the kitchen and Levi’s eyes shifted back to them, watching them approach him. They stopped right beside him on the couch, staring down at him, and he waited for them to speak.

“I want pancakes.”

“You always want pancakes,” was the immediate response, reading Eren’s text.

“Uh, yeah, because pancakes are delicious.”

“Then make pancakes.” He didn’t think it had occurred to Hanji that it was evening, but supposed they probably wouldn’t have cared anyway. It was Hanji, pancakes for dinner wasn’t unheard of.

“Make me pancakes?”

“No.”

“Mean!” Hanji fell forward onto the couch, half-crushing Levi, who felt like the only reason he hadn’t yet murdered Hanji was because it would be too messy. Bodily fluids expelling everywhere? What a mess.

Shoving and kicking Hanji to get them off him, his roommate finally fell to the floor and scowled up at him. He ignored them, feeling as though they should know this was their own damn fault. He checked Eren’s texts again and had to smile a little.

He was taking after Hanji.

[Eren]
Moving hurts :(
[Eren]
I can’t make dinner.
[Eren]
Hannnaaaaaaaaaah

[User]
Don’t whine.

[Eren]
Noooooooooooooo
[Eren]
You’re supposed to go “Ereeeeeeeeeeeeen”

[User]
No

[Eren]
Hannaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

[User]
You’re always whiney when you’re hungry
[User]
Get food.

[Eren]
I caaaaan’t
[Eren]
It hurts to move!
[Eren]
Come make me dinner ;)

[User]
I’m not flying out there to make you food, moron
[User]
Where’s your family?

[Eren]
Out :(
[Eren]
Well, my dad’s working and my mum and my sister had a girl’s night planned months ago with some people here.
[Eren]
They were gonna cancel because of me, but I felt bad so I insisted they go and they did.
[Eren]
And now I am foodless.

[User]
There’s this amazing invention
[User]
You might’ve heard of it
[User]
It’s called the telephone
[User]
It allows you to call out and order things, such as food.

[Eren]
You’re so salty, Hannah
[Eren]
UUUUUGH
[Eren]
So hungry!
[Eren]
-eats desk-

[User]
That’s probably not good for you.

[Eren]
Well, I’m out of options!

[User]
Well, it was nice knowing you then.
[User]
Rest in pieces.

[Eren]
HEY!
[Eren]
Bitch
[Eren]
I’m gonna eat your FACE!

[User]
I wouldn’t recommend it
[User]
You would have really bad breath

[Eren]
Uh...
[Eren]
...
[Eren]
Why?
[Eren]
Are you smelly?

[User]
I’m not
[User]
But flesh rotting between your teeth would be

[Eren]
EWWWW!
[Eren]
HANNAH!
[Eren]
I brush my teeth, you know!

Only Eren would be more disgusted with the thought of “Hannah” believing he didn’t brush his teeth over having rotting flesh between them. Shaking his head, Levi just told him to order something from a restaurant. Most tended to deliver now, and he doubted anything Eren made at home would be healthier than something he bought.

[Eren]
Maybe Jean’s free....
[Eren]
He could cook for me...

Levi scowled at those words, annoyed. He could cook, too! Not that this was a contest or anything, but he was finding himself more and more annoyed with how often Jean and Eren seemed to talk about one another. Eren mentioned Jean twice as often as he did his other best friend Armin.

If that horse became competition, he was getting put down. Levi was having a hard enough time as it was.

[Eren]
Sweet! He’s free!
[Eren]
Though now it just occurred to me...
[Eren]
I’ve never tasted Jean’s cooking before
[Eren]
So now that he’s making my dinner
[Eren]
I’m very interested in finding out how that works out.....

[User]
Don’t do it.
[User]
You’ll die.

Writing that word made Levi almost wince. Was joking about death going to make him uncomfortable now? Eren was fine, it should be okay to joke, but it still made Levi’s heart seem to double in pace, as though his brain were forcibly making his body return to the same state as it had been back when Eren had fallen unconscious.

[Eren]
If I die, I’ll just haunt you :P

[User]
That’s fine.
[User]
As long as you’re an entertaining ghost.

[Eren]
I would be THE most entertaining ghost ever.
[Eren]
Come on, this is me ;)

[User]
You’re right
[User]
I’d die of boredom.

[Eren]
Hey! |<
[Eren]
Rude!
[Eren]
I’ll have you know, I would make a TERRIFIC ghost!

[User]
Maybe
[User]
But I definitely prefer you breathing

[Eren]
Well I’m glad you do. I think my life would be less entertaining if I wasn’t breathing!
[Eren]
Though it’d be more boring without you :)

“Yeah, mine too,” Levi said aloud, but he didn’t tell Eren that.

TBC

Chapter Text

[Eren]
I’m hungry.

[User]
Then get food
[User]
Or get your legion of slaves to get you food
[User]
Since you’re apparently too bedridden to make dinner but not too bedridden to shatter Levi’s eardrums with your Halo screams.

[Eren]
That was one time, and I almost passed out afterwards
[Eren]
I’m INJURED, Hannah
[Eren]
Where’s my sympathy? :(
[Eren]
Where’re my head rubs and loving words and sexy photos?

[User]
You signed up with the wrong girl if you’re looking for that garbage, Lover

[Eren]
Nah, I’m not really into that anyway ;)
[Eren]
And I know you’re not, either
[Eren]
Otherwise my teeth would’ve rotted off from our sweet relationship
[Eren]
Not that our relationship isn’t sweet
[Eren]
I just can’t afford any more cavities.

[User]
Are you high on drugs or something?
[User]
Fuckin’ weirdo.

[Eren]
I am THE best weirdo
[Eren]
A starving weirdo, but a weirdo all the same!
[Eren]
I want something drowning in soy sauce...

[User]
So, Sushi.

[Eren]
Yeah! Sushi! Oh man, I LOVE sushi!
[Eren]
California Rolls, yuuuuuuum

[User]
I don’t like sushi
[User]
Raw fish and seaweed?
[User]
It’s fucking weird.

[Eren]
D:
[Eren]
How did we get this far into our relationship without me knowing this?!
[Eren]
YOU TRICKED ME!

[User]
And I succeeded, didn’t I?
[User]
Now you’re stuck with me.
[User]
Enjoy your raw fish and seaweed while you can, Lover
[User]
Never having it again >)

“God dammit!”

Levi’s gaze shifted to the left towards the kitchen when he heard Hanji begin muttering curses following an explosion of some kind. Thankfully, nothing appeared to be on fire from where he sat, so he could only assume his roommate had done something stupid, like drop a Mentos into a two litre of Coke.

“What are you doing in there?” he demanded, wanting to be able to make dinner in a few hours and suddenly worried there wouldn’t be a kitchen left for him to achieve this.

“Experimenting!”

Levi’s brain halted at that word, hoping against hope he wasn’t going to walk in and find pig’s blood all over the kitchen.

Which had happened before.

Twice.

“Experimenting with what?” he asked slowly.

“Food!”

Oh good, he thought, turning back to his phone when he got a new message. At least if Hanji was experimenting with food, it just meant they were creating a new disgusting recipe of some kind that they would force Levi to taste later.

It was better than the pig’s blood. That shit was hard to get out of the tile.

He looked back towards the kitchen doorway when he heard loud clanging, sounding like Hanji had just dropped every single pot and pan they owned onto the floor. This was followed up by a loud yelp of pain and more cursing. Maybe it would be safer for Levi to order in. He could do with some Chinese, it’d been a while since he’d had any Chinese.

[Eren]
Biiiiiiitch
[Eren]
Hey Hannah?

[User]
What?

[Eren]
Levi’s okay, right?

Levi frowned at that, wondering why Eren was asking. He’d been really careful not to act any differently towards Eren online, considering the other didn’t know that he was actually Hannah and the feelings he’d admitted were his own. Had he been acting weirdly without knowing it?

[User]
Yeah
[User]
Why?
[User]
Is he being weird?

[Eren]
I don’t know.
[Eren]
He’s just been a bit... kind of a step backwards, I guess?
[Eren]
He’s keeping me at arm’s length, like he was before
[Eren]
Is he still pissed about what happened?

He hadn’t realized he’d been keeping his distance from Eren. He supposed it made sense, when he thought about it. He was trying to act normal, but every time they voice chatted now, all he could think about was Eren crying and insisting he couldn’t make it to his phone while Levi stood there helplessly.

When had Eren taken over his every waking moment so completely? He didn’t like this, it was dangerous waters and he felt like he was drowning. Like Eren was pulling him under.

Of all the people he could fall for, why had it been the only one on his list who didn’t know he was a guy?

[User]
Hey Eren

[Eren]
Yeah?

Levi hesitated, staring down at his name on his screen. He should talk to him about it now. It was better than letting it drag on. If he didn’t admit it, wouldn’t it make things worse?

Then again, this wasn’t going to get any further along, right? He and Eren were just going to continue with this fake-relationship until the end of summer and then it’d be over. No sense in ruining this while it was happening.

Besides, now wasn’t a good time. Eren was still healing, it wouldn’t be a good idea to stress him out.

[User]
Levi’s just a little freaked out, is all
[User]
The whole, you/me thing
[User]
It’s a little... he wants to make sure nothing goes wrong

“Shit, what am I, a twelve year old girl?” He felt like he was in a bad sitcom, he needed to stop letting Hanji watch bad TV around him.

His gaze shifted to the kitchen once more when he heard sizzling and after a few seconds, he could smell the unmistakable scent of bacon. He really hoped Hanji wasn’t using his bacon, or he was going to murder them. He’d specifically calculated his food supply so he wouldn’t have to go to the store again until next Thursday.

[User]
I smell bacon

“Great, now I’m turning into him,” he realized. Writing every thought that came to mind was a very Eren thing to do, and he was picking up the habit.

[Eren]
OMG I love bacon!
[Eren]
I want bacon!
[Eren]
Mmmmmmm bacon-wrapped sushi...

Levi made a face.

[User]
That sounds disgusting

[Eren]
That sounds AMAZING

[User]
Your face sound amazing

“What is happening to me?” Levi asked aloud, staring down at his last text. Eren was totally fucking him up right now.

[Eren]
Thanks :) My face IS pretty great

[User]
You’re an idiot

[Eren]
YOUR idiot ;)

[User]
Still an idiot.

Jumping slightly when he heard his computer go off, Levi turned on the couch so he was sitting on it properly and set his phone down on the coffee table. When he checked Skype, he found Erwin calling him and let out a sigh. Erwin was the last person he wanted to be talking to right now.

Things were a little tense between them after their last conversation about Eren. Levi thought it unfair Erwin was being so cheap, but he also acknowledged that the other had only once called him out on his constant gaming thus far. Still, he was a little pissed at him. Hanji insisted he should admit where things seemed to be heading in their relationship, but Levi wasn’t stupid. If he admitted that to Erwin, Eren would be assigned to someone else. While a part of him felt like that would be for the best, another part felt like he would be losing something really important if he lost Eren. He couldn’t bring himself to do that, so he decided to be selfish.

“Yeah, what?” he asked after answering the Skype call.

"Levi,” Erwin said, offering him a smile. “How are you?”

“Busy.”

“And Eren?”

“Annoying,” he said dryly, wondering why Erwin was asking.

His boss and friend chuckled at that, but Levi was able to notice the stiffness of his shoulders. Dammit, Erwin had been looking into his gaming logs again. If he’s calling to take Eren back, a war’s about to break out.

“We recently ran into a situation with Sasha which has led me to re-think certain aspects of our site. I’m going to need both you and Hanji to record this and send me the sound file so I can add it to your profiles.”

The Skype window alerted him of a new message and he quickly read the words on the screen.

“Fine. I’ll let Hanji know.”

“Thank you.” He paused, still smiling. “While I have you, I thought it would be high time you come by for dinner. It’s been a while since we’ve spoken face to face.”

Levi wasn’t bringing his phone to this dinner, that would be dangerous.

“Fine. When?”

“How about this weekend? Saturday, at seven? Bring Hanji.”

“What am I, their secretary?” Levi groused, but Erwin just smiled at him, said he’d see him Saturday and hung up.

Sighing, Levi rubbed his hand upwards against his undercut, the feel of his short hair somewhat soothing. Something about this dinner didn’t sit well with him. Maybe it was the suddenness of it.

He eyed the text on his screen and, deciding to just get it over with now, he opened Audacity and recorded the sentence before exporting it as an MP4 file and sending it to Erwin.

“Hey shitty-glasses,” he yelled, Hanji’s head popping out of the doorway as though that were their given name.

“You hollered angrily, kitten?” they asked.

“Come read this, Erwin wants it recorded.”

Hanji wandered over to him, and Levi was again concerned about the state of their kitchen. They were covered in flour, some weird brown sticky-looking substance, and various food colourings. When they fell down beside him on the couch, a tiny puff of white floated off them and Levi scowled.

“Just how messy is the kitchen right now?”

“You’d have a heart attack if you entered it,” was Hanji’s jovial reply, pulling his computer closer and giving the words a quick read. “Ah, Sasha’s doing.”

“What happened, anyway?” Levi asked. “Erwin didn’t say.”

Hanji shrugged. “Someone looked at Sasha’s picture and thought she’d have a nice, sultry voice and then they got their first call and were pissed. The usual client bullshit. Petra and I were talking about this a while back, guess Erwin finally decided to do it. He’s gonna put the clips underneath our pictures so when someone chooses a person, they can hear their voice, too.”

They moved Levi’s mouse to the record button on Audacity, cleared their throat, then clicked it.

“Hello, and welcome to Invisible Significant Other. If you are looking for anything in particular prior to making a decision, please do not hesitate to contact one of our staff. We hope you have a pleasant day.” They stopped the recording and grinned at Levi, who just stared back.

“You sound like a woman.”

“Maybe I am a woman.” Hanji winked at him and stood, heading back for the kitchen. “You might want to stay out of here for the next little while. Wouldn’t want you to have a heart attack and die. Then what would Eren do?”

“Probably nothing,” Levi shot back, picking up his phone and leaning back against the arm-rest of the couch, like he always did.

He felt as though he should be more concerned than he was at the fact that he was literally doing nothing while sitting there texting Eren. No TV, no video games, not even Candy Crush or Angry Birds. He was just sitting there waiting for replies from Eren.

[Eren]
My mom went to get me sushi! \o/
[Eren]
I’ve won in life!
[Eren]
So if you hate sushi, what do you really like?
[Eren]
Like, what can we go out and both be happy about, do you think?

[User]
Hot Dogs

[Eren]
Hot dogs?
[Eren]
You’ll eat hot dogs, but not sushi?

[User]
There’s no raw fish in hot dogs

[Eren]
Have you ever been to Canada?

[User]
... No
[User]
I thought we were talking about hot dogs

[Eren]
This is relevant.
[Eren]
There’s this one amazing place in Canada I went to once
[Eren]
Jean, Armin and I went on a roadtrip with Armin’s grandfather to Quebec in Canada
[Eren]
The french-speaking State

[User]
Pretty sure they have Provinces

[Eren]
And they had this place that made THE best hot dogs!
[Eren]
Province, whatever
[Eren]
Point is, these hot dogs were amazing. I don’t even know if they can be classed as hot dogs
[Eren]
They were so good.
[Eren]
It was called Belle Province
[Eren]
I mean it, best hot dog you’ll ever have. They call them “steamies.”
[Eren]
Steamed bun, steamed hot dog, and you can get it all dressed or with whatever the fuck you want on it.

[User]
Whatever the fuck I want?

[Eren]
Whatever the fuck you want.

[User]
So if I wanted gold flakes and the blood of a newborn goat on my steamy, I can get that?

[Eren]
Well, yeah
[Eren]
But that sounds gross.

[User]
This coming from the guy who wants bacon-wrapped raw fish and seaweed?

[Eren]
At least I don’t want goat’s blood on my hot dog!

“Levi!”

“What?”

“Come taste this! I think I have a winner!”

[User]
I might die in a second, so if anyone asks, Hanji did it.

[Eren]
Wait, what?
[Eren]
Hannah! Don’t do it!


“I am a pathetic human being,” Eren announced to himself, his words echoing off the tiled walls of the bathroom. He let out a sigh and bowed his head, shifting and wincing in the tub. The water barely made it past his privates, but this was the best he could do while still bandaged up and sporting stitches. He wasn’t allowed to get them wet, so a shower was out of the question, and because of where they were located, he could barely even have a bath. Mikasa had to help him wash his hair, and then he had to use a few inches of water in the tub to clean the rest of himself off. It was pathetic.

But that wasn’t why he felt pathetic. He felt pathetic because he was pretty sure he was actually seriously falling for a girl that didn’t exist.

Well, she existed, but not in the way he wanted. He knew she was being herself when they spoke, and she’d started opening up more, and they had the best conversations—in his opinion, anyway—but she wasn’t... real. He didn’t even know how old she was, but if she was friends with Levi, they were probably around the same age. That meant she was approximately seventeen years older than him. How could she like someone as young and immature as he was? It seemed ridiculous. He wasn’t even all that great. What about him had made her fall for him in the first place?

He wanted to talk to her. God, he wanted to. Even just getting one chance to speak to her, to know what she sounded like, to talk things through. He didn’t want to get more invested in this than he already was, he wanted to know where they stood. They were friends, of that he was certain, but now that he knew how she felt, and she knew how he felt...

“Stop it!” He buried both hands in his still-damp hair, Mikasa having helped him wash it before he’d gotten into the tub. He was going to drive himself insane thinking about all the “what if”s.

This couldn’t work. She was working, this was her job, there was too big an age gap. It wouldn’t work. He had to just let it go, bury the feelings deep down, and then move on. He’d found one person for him, who was to say he wouldn’t find another? Someone attainable and just... there. Someone at his university for real, not a random woman God knew where who he hadn’t ever even had a real conversation with.

“Eren?”

His head snapped towards the door when he heard Mikasa speak. He realized he’d been in the bath for a long time, and she was probably worried he’d drowned himself. Because he couldn’t talk to her without admitting what he’d done, he really didn’t have anyone to mull this over with. It was one of the first times in his life he felt truly alone. Hannah at least had Levi and Hanji. Eren was jealous of the support. He supposed he could tell Mikasa the truth but...

“Eren? Are you okay? You’ve been in there a long time.”

“Yes!” He realized he hadn’t replied. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m coming out.”

Thankfully he’d cleaned up before sitting and brooding, so he just unplugged the tub and stood, grabbing a towel and patting himself dry. He tugged on a pair of boxer-briefs and some sweats and then opened the bathroom door. Mikasa was waiting for him with some fresh bandages and he sat down on the edge of the tub so she could re-wrap him.

“Is everything okay?” she asked after a long moment of silence. She had already discarded his old bandages in a biohazard bag and was working on ensuring the new set were wrapped tightly enough for support, but not enough to hurt. She seemed to be having trouble because of the surgical gloves she was wearing, but the only indication of this was a slight crease in her eyebrows. He supposed working on a human was different from working on an animal.

“Eren?”

“Hm?” He realized she’d asked him a question and hastened to reply. “Oh yeah, fine. I just... Levi’s been weird since the whole appendix thing.” He felt bad blaming his distance on Levi, but realistically, the gamer had been acting weird lately, too.

“You scared him,” Mikasa said easily, shifting to wrap her arms around his middle to transfer the roll of gauze from one hand to the other. “You scared everyone,” she added in a quiet voice, tying off the end of the gauze and then removing her gloves.

“Sorry,” he muttered, not sure what else to say. He hadn’t meant for his appendix to burst while he was home alone. “I didn’t mean to worry anyone.”

“I know.” She stood, ensuring everything was in the bioharzard bag before closing it up. “But I think you’re going to have to get used to everyone being a little... worried for the next few weeks. Jean still blames himself, you know.”

“He does?” Eren blurted out, dumbfounded. “Why?”

“Well, he thinks if he hadn’t been fighting with you the day before, the pain would’ve been more of a concern to you and you might’ve said something to someone.”

“That isn’t Jean’s fault.”

“Don’t worry, it’s Jean. He bounces back. Just give everyone time. I’m sure Levi will be back to normal soon.”

“Yeah.” He touched his covered abdomen and offered her a grin. “Thanks Mikasa.”

Nodding once, she turned and left the bathroom, likely to dispose of the bag. Their father had a bin in the back of his car for items like this that he could return to the hospital and dispose of properly. Eren felt lucky he had two doctors in the family, even if Mikasa wasn’t technically a doctor. Still, working on animals was close enough. In his mind, anyway.

Standing and heading back to his room, Eren turned on his console and booted up Halo. Levi wasn’t online, but Jean was and invited him into a party.

“Hey Horseface.”

“Kamikaze-head. I see you’ve been playing with the asshole. That’s cheating, getting ahead of me like that by using someone else.”

“You’re always invited,” he insisted with a grin, settling back more comfortably in his chair. “You’re just not around.”

“I’m out having a life.”

“Whining to Armin about how in love you are with Mikasa isn’t a life.”

“Fuck you.”

Eren just laughed, wondering if Mikasa wasn’t wrong about Jean. He seemed perfectly fine, but then again, he was better at hiding it. That was the only disadvantage to them being friends for so long. Jean could hide anything from him, and vice-versa. A point proven by Eren’s not-girlfriend.

“Hey Jean?”

“What?”

He hesitated. He wanted advice, he wanted to talk to someone, but considering what his sister had just said about Jean, he didn’t want to mess things up even more. If his friend was still shaken by what had happened, he didn’t need to pile more weird shit onto him.

“Nothing. You almost done your round?”

“Yeah, should be done in a few. I’ll let you know.”

“Cool.” Eren leaned back in his chair and glanced at his phone sitting on the desk. Hesitating, he winced while standing and moved to snatch it off his desk, tucking it into the pockets of his sweats instead. He didn’t think it was a good idea having it that far away from him anymore.


“Boom! Take that, motherfucker! Yeah!” Eren bounced once in his seat, grinning from ear to ear while continuing along on his Ghost, having taken three people out all at once on the other team.

“Calm down, Jaeger, it’s not a competition,” came Levi’s annoyed voice. He’d sounded irritable all day, and it was making Eren wonder if he’d done something wrong.

Levi had been distant for the past few days, and then today, he was just angry.

All. The. Time.

It was getting annoying.

The round ended and Levi put them back into Matchmaker, but Eren didn’t say anything. He felt like every word out of his mouth pissed Levi off, which in turn frustrated and annoyed him. It was better to just stay quiet.

“You takin’ a dump over there?”

“What?” Eren asked, wondering why Levi’s insults always resorted to poop jokes. “No.”

“You’re quiet.”

“I’m not allowed to be quiet?”

“Not after what happened last time you were quiet.”

Right. Levi was probably getting antsy.

“You’re in a bad mood, I’m trying to stay out of the crosshairs.”

“I have dinner with my boss and Hanji tonight. I don’t want to go, but I don’t have a choice. At least Hannah’ll be there.”

“Oh.” Eren knew Hannah was unavailable all night. She’d already told him so, saying she had a dinner to go to and she wasn’t bringing her phone. He had wanted to ask why, but hadn’t had the balls to. Maybe Levi...?

“She told me she was going out tonight and she wasn’t bringing her phone. Do you know why?”

“Probably because she doesn’t want Hanji stealing it and reading all her embarrassingly mushy texts to you.”

“Her texts aren’t mushy.” Eren scowled. “You seem pretty mad about that.”

“About what?”

“Mushy texts from Hannah.”

Levi just snorted and said nothing, the next round having started. His character bolted away from Eren and immediately got killed. Levi was the one off his game today, and Eren wished he’d tell him why. It couldn’t just be about dinner, right? Who didn’t like food? Especially free food.

“Hey Levi?”

“What?” Curt. To the point. As always.

“Hannah... PR, I mean...” He hesitated. “You don’t... I mean, are you... in love with her or something?”

Levi’s character froze on the screen and got taken out again. Shit, had Eren hit the nail on the head? Hadn’t Levi told him once that it wasn’t like that? Had he been lying about it, including to himself?

“What kind of shit are you spouting now?” Levi sounded pissed. Like he wanted to reach through the headset and strangle Eren. “No I’m not fucking in love with PR, why?”

“You’re been kinda different since you admitted to me that she liked me,” Eren muttered, moving to cover the other when he re-spawned and stayed immobile. He really wasn’t focussed today.

“Jaeger,” Levi said, voice softer but only just. “I was listening to you die for real while we were playing a game of Halo. Pretty sure I’m acting different because I’m reliving that trauma every time we speak.”

Eren froze at that, both his character and Levi’s getting taken out but he didn’t care. He hadn’t really considered that even playing Halo, hearing his voice, any of this was terrifying for Levi. He hadn’t known the other cared that much.

“Oh.” He didn’t know what else to say. “Sorry.”

Their characters both re-spawned but it was clear neither was interested in continuing the game and both of them just died repeatedly until the end of the round. They lost, but for once, Levi didn’t scream about it.

“Look Eren, I don’t want things to get all weird, it’s just really stressful lately. Playing Halo, talking to you. Then there’s the whole thing with Hannah and...” He cursed, too quietly for Eren to make out the word, but the tone making it evident it had been a curse. “Truthfully, Hanji, Hannah and I have been... breaking some rules with you. We’re kind of concerned the dinner tonight is about removing you as our client.”

Eren felt a lump settle into the pit of his stomach, hands tightening around his controller. “What? He can’t do that, I paid for this, he can’t just—”

“Calm down, brat. Hannah won’t let it happen, not without a fight. But it’s stressing her out, which is stressing me out, and Hanji’s not sure how they feel about it because they think we’re all getting too close too, but they also really like talking to you so it’s kind of up in the air. Just keep your shit in your pants, and we’ll sort it out.”

Someone said something off-screen to Levi, probably Hanji, and he let out a grunt.

“Time for me to go. Don’t worry, Jaeger. Hannah’s tough, she’ll fight tooth and nail to keep you.”

Before Eren could even say anything, Levi logged off, leaving him sitting there completely dumbfounded.

“What?”

Had he literally just dropped a bomb on him and logged out? What if Eren never spoke to Hannah ever again?!


“So?” Erwin asked, wiping at his mouth with a napkin. “What do you think, Levi?”

“Since when does my opinion mean shit to you?” Levi asked, but he kept his eyes on the file in front of him anyway, flipping through the pages absently.

“Since always.” Erwin folded his hands together, resting his chin on them and watching Levi intently. Though he noticed the attention, he did his best to ignore it, continuing to look through the file.

It was for a new recruit, someone Erwin had met a few months back while golfing, of all things. Sissy sport, no contact. Levi hated it.

Apparently they’d become quite friendly and he’d found out that this new oaf was looking for a job. After a few weeks of back and forths, Erwin had finally told him what he did for a living and had invited him to apply. And now he was asking Levi for his opinion on him while Hanji scarfed down the rest of their Chicken Parmesan.

“He’s fine,” Levi finally said, closing the file and tossing it back towards Erwin. It slid slightly across the wooden surface of the table. “You like him, just do it.”

“No concerns at all?”

Levi shifted his gaze to Erwin, crossing his arms and scowling. “Can we talk about why I’m really here?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Erwin said pleasantly, but his eyes hardened ever so slightly at those words. It was as though he’d gotten caught in a lie, and didn’t like it.

“This is about Eren.”

Hanji stopped chewing instantly, eyes on Levi before shifting to Erwin. “I thought we were here for food.”

“If we were here for food, Petra would be here, too.” Levi’s eyes narrowed. “You have something to say, spit it out.”

Erwin still seemed annoyed at being caught in his lie, but he lowered his hands to the table, folding his napkin over itself while watching his fingers move.

“I’ve noticed he has gone well over his allotted text messages for the month. I already brought up the gaming once, but I’ll bring it up again. In total, between the two of you,” he motioned Levi and Hanji, “he has exceeded his two-hundred combined allowable texts by almost four hundred.”

Levi and Hanji shared a look.

“I’m not even going to start on the gaming time. He was supposed to have one gaming session a week, Levi. He’s been having almost forty hours weekly, which is well above the amount of time we give to even regulars.”

“He texts in snippets.” Surprisingly, it was Hanji who replied. “Like, he texts almost half a sentence at a time, so we reply in kind which makes it look like—”

“Hanji, I have records of your texts.” Erwin’s eyes remained locked on Levi while he spoke. “Don’t try and talk yourself out of this.”

They all sat in silence, Hanji’s gaze shifting back and forth between Levi and Erwin. Neither of them spoke, having a silent war with their eyes. Levi didn’t think he was winning but, as he’d said to Eren, he wasn’t going to let this go without a fight.

“You’re not reassigning him,” he said after an impossibly long silence.

“Is that right?” Erwin’s lips quirked slightly. “You’re going to tell me what I can and can’t do in my own service?”

“This one is mine.”

“He’s a client Levi, not a pet. You can’t lay claim on him.” Erwin’s eyebrows had lowered while he spoke, Levi’s words evidently of concern.

“You can’t have Eren.”

“He isn’t yours,” Erwin snapped.

“You can’t have him!” Levi shouted. A look from Hanji made him realize he was losing his composure, and he quickly forced himself to calm down. “Erwin,” he said, trying to remain calm, “you can’t take him from me.”

Erwin gave him a curious look, as if he were seeing Levi clearly for the first time after all these years of knowing him. He said nothing, he merely kept analysing him, as though searching for something in his face. Whatever it was he was looking for, Levi really hoped he found it. Or didn’t, if that was what would get Eren reassigned.

“Erwin, you can’t take him from me. Eren belongs to me, he’s my client. If you take him—”

“You’ll what?” Erwin asked. “Quit?”

Silence.

Hanji very quietly pushed away from the table and stood, exiting the room. They both heard the front door open and close a moment later, the other clearly feeling like this was something they should stay out of. After all, Levi and Erwin had known one another for over a decade. They had a lot of history.

“Levi, I don’t know what’s happening with you and this client, but you need to understand that he is a client. You are a service he has paid for and he is exceeding all of his allowable time with you. Both as Hannah and Levi.”

“You have to give this to me,” Levi insisted, voice hard and jaw tight. “I’ve never asked you for anything before Erwin, and I took Eren off Petra’s hands as a favour to you. Now, all I’m asking for in return is that you let this go. Just this once. Just with him. Just let me keep him, and turn a blind eye. Do this for me this one time, and I will do anything you ask of me going forward. Anything.” He grit his teeth. “Erwin, just give me this one.”

Levi had never known that Erwin could make him feel this terrified before. He made sure not to let his fear show on his face, but he could feel it in the way his body reacted. His palms were sweating, his heart rate increased, his breathing seemed to spike. He was scared because of Erwin. Something he never thought he’d feel.

Erwin held all the card right now. If he said no to this, Levi could do nothing. Eren’s profile would be moved from Erwin’s computer, so by the time Levi got home, it would be gone. Erwin could remove him from his XBox, he would have him removed from his phone, from everywhere.

Fuck, Levi should’ve written his number down somewhere. He should’ve had the forethought, why hadn’t he considered that earlier?!

“Erwin,” he said again when the other went to open his mouth. “Erwin, please. Let me have this one.”

Don’t take him away from me.

TBC...

Chapter Text

[JaegerMeister]
Hey Hannah?

[The Bae <3]
Hey Eren?

[JaegerMeister]
Do you ever wonder what dogs would say if they could speak?
[JaegerMeister]
Like, ACTUALLY speak, not dog speak.
[JaegerMeister]
I mean, how many people go to the bathroom with their dogs or do embarrassing things?
[JaegerMeister]
Like, you know, have sex in front of them and stuff.

[The Bae <3]
You’re such a weirdo, haha
[The Bae <3]
You think of the weirdest things, Lover.

Eren stared down at his phone, feeling an ache in his chest that he tried to ignore.

Not Hannah.

Or PR he should say.

The day after Levi had logged off announcing dinner with his boss, Eren had texted Hannah and received an uncharacteristic response. He could tell almost instantly that this was a completely different person because of how they replied.

Whatever had transpired at that dinner, it hadn’t gone the way Levi had promised. He’d lost Hannah—PR, whatever—and he had no hope of ever getting her back.

And even worse, he’d not only lost her, but Levi and Hanji as well. Levi hadn’t logged onto Halo since that day, and any texts to Hanji’s phone bounced back as undeliverable.

That had been almost eight days ago.

Eren kept hoping it was temporary, that maybe PR, Levi and Hanji were working out some kind of deal with their boss, that they’d be back. But the days dragged on, and he texted Hannah every day to see what kind of response he’d get, and every time he was disappointed.

Jean had teased him at first for his dark mood, asking if his girlfriend had broken up with him. A split lip and dangerously close end to a friendship later and Jean realized this wasn’t something to joke about.

Which was ridiculous, even Eren could admit. PR wasn’t even his real girlfriend, they weren’t really anything, but he was still furious about it. He’d tried everything he could think of to get her back, including emailing PR on his profile, as well as lodging an official complaint against the company as a whole.

His email to PR had come back as generically boring as his text responses. His complain had been “taken under advisement.”

Belatedly, he realized that complaining probably hadn’t helped his case, since it was proving what their boss already suspected, but he couldn’t help it. He didn’t want things to end this way between him and PR. He wanted to know where they stood, what they were, if they were even anything. He wanted to confirm whether or not maybe one day he could meet her, not even so they could be anything, but just... so he could meet her.

He wanted to hang out with Levi. He wanted to keep playing Halo with him, outside of the service. He wanted to be friends.

Hanji terrified him, but in an interesting way. In some respects, they were like him, asking random questions and starting weird conversations. He missed them.

He missed all three of them. As pathetic as that probably was, he really cared about them. He’d been speaking to them all for almost two months now, and to suddenly have the cord cut like that...

Dropping his phone onto his desk, he rubbed his face with both hands before turning to his door, someone knocking.

“Yeah, what?”

When his door opened, it was Mikasa who entered. He hadn’t been expecting it to be her, and felt a little awkward at having been so rude. Not that it was okay to be rude to his mother or father, but the only person who seemed to knock when coming around lately was Jean. He and Jean had always had that kind of relationship.

“Jean, Armin and I were going to go out for dinner. We’d like it if you came.” Something in her tone suggested she would drag him kicking and screaming whether he wanted to go or not.

He didn’t feel like getting physically abused today so he just sighed explosively, like her concern was an annoyance, and got to his feet. Wandering to the door, he snatched a sweater off the ground in case he got cold later and exited his room, shutting his door.

“You forgot your phone.”

“Didn’t forget it,” he replied grumpily. “Don’t need it.”

“Eren.” She touched his arm lightly. “What happened with Hannah?”

He didn’t have an answer for her. He didn’t know what to tell her. Considering, now would probably be the time to admit she wasn’t real and her real name was PR and he’d ordered her off a service. Even thinking it made it sound wrong and weird. Sure, they’d started out that way, but that wasn’t what their relationship was anymore. It hadn’t been for a while. They were friends and, according to Levi, heading into deeper territory. Where that territory lead, he felt he’d never find out at this point, but still.

“Her dad isn’t happy,” he muttered, finding that to be the closest thing to the truth he could tell her. “Our relationship got... complicated.”

Mikasa didn’t say anything to that. She didn’t offer words of comfort or insist Hannah’s father was an idiot or an asshole. She just put her hand lightly on his shoulder, squeezed once, and then let go. He appreciated it. He liked how well Mikasa knew him and understood that he sometimes just needed to be given his space.

Besides, what could she tell him without giving him false hope? Eren had kind of resigned himself to never speaking to PR again. He kept trying because he was a masochist. He kept hoping that he’d send her a message and it would be her who replied, not an idiotic robot.

“What’s the date today?” he asked Mikasa while they wandered through the first floor to the front door. She gave him a confused look at the question, probably wondering why he was asking, but replied nonetheless.

“The twenty-eighth, why?”

He had three days to decide if he was renewing or not. On the one hand, he felt it would make sense not to renew, considering he’d only done so last month because of Hannah. But now, if he wasn’t even talking to her, what was the point? It would be easy to cancel the service and just tell everyone they’d broken up because of her father.

But what if there was hope?

Eren clenched his fists angrily, having buckled himself into the car and staring straight ahead while Mikasa backed them out and began driving to wherever they were going. He wished he’d been the one driving, it would let him focus on something other than his own ridiculous thoughts.

He knew there wasn’t any hope, yet every now and then, he clung to the idea. What if Hannah was fighting this? What if she was insisting on a daily basis with her boss to let her have Eren back? What if even Levi and Hanji were doing this?

As crazy as it sounded, he couldn’t help but hope that was true. And if he cancelled, how would they ever speak again? Hannah would’ve done all that work for nothing. Eren essentially would’ve given up on her, and he didn’t want her to think that. He didn’t want her to believe he’d given up, because he wasn’t going to. He wanted her back, he didn’t care how long it took.

It didn’t matter how long it took.


A loud, annoying ring broke through the silence of the large living room. Levi reclined casually on the couch, back against the armrest in his usual comfortable position. He was flipping lazily through a book, reading a few lines here and there but not really invested in it. He hadn’t felt like watching TV or playing any video games, and rather than lie there and stare at the ceiling—which would be boring—he’d opted for a book.

He supposed it was fine, what parts of it he was reading anyway. It was one of Hanji’s, a typical weirdo sci-fi romance. Boy meets girl, girl has weird superpower, other boy in love with girl, oh no love triangle, fate of the world at stake, the end. The fighting was good, at least. He could do without the love triangle.

“Levi, your phone!” Hanji said from their room, the loud ringing having continued while he flipped through the pages of his book.

“I hear it,” he replied, moving on to the next page. It was at the hard sacrifices part of the book. She had to choose between the childhood friend whom she’d begun to have feelings for, or the man she’d met during her adventure that she thought was the love of her life. One of them had to die, and she couldn’t choose which.

“Are you going to answer it?” Hanji demanded.

“Nope.”

He felt like she should choose the childhood friend. He’d been there for her since they were young, he was her best friend. The love of her life hadn’t done nearly as much for her, the childhood friend deserved it more.

The ringing cut off just as Hanji had reached the living room, bending down to grab at his phone. They brought it closer to their face and let out a sigh, turning it to wave in Levi’s face. He didn’t appreciate it, but he ignored them, for the most part.

“Are you blind, deaf, stupid, or all of the above? You have thirty-two texts messages and eight missed calls! What are you doing?!”

“Reading a book. You need better taste, your preferred genre sucks.”

“Levi, these are clients!” Hanji insisted, wrenching the book from his hand.

Levi shifted his gaze to regard his roommate, positive that if he could shoot daggers from his eyes, Hanji would be lying dead on the floor by now. They seemed to realize this as well, but didn’t return the book, holding his phone out to him.

“I’m mad about it too, you know,” Hanji insisted. “But you’re not helping yourself by acting like this. It’s childish.”

“I don’t act childish,” he insisted, twisting so he could put his feet down on the floor and standing, grabbing his empty mug and wandering to the kitchen. Hanji followed after him.

“Oh really? Then what is this called?”

“Indifference.”

“Indifference?” the other repeated. “How is that different from being childish?”

“If I were being childish,” Levi explained, tossing out his teabag and putting a fresh one in his mug before starting the kettle and turning back to his roommate, “I would be answering rudely and purposefully forgetting people’s names. I would ignore Erwin when he calls, and go out of my way to be stubborn and destroy everything he cares for. Indifference means I just do nothing.”

“You’re going to get complaints.”

“And?”

“Levi, if you get complaints, you’ll get suspended! If you get suspended, you’ll never talk to Eren again!”

The older man’s eyes hardened into shard of blue glass and he pushed away from the counter he’d been leaning against.

“Erwin’s already made it perfectly clear that I’m not going to be speaking to him again, so I fail to see how my actions now will affect my ability to continue my relationship with Eren.”

Hanji sighed, shoving Levi’s phone against his chest. He made no move to take it, so they didn’t let it go, merely pressing it harder against his body.

“If you continue like this, he won’t even consider it. Are you just going to give up? That’s not like you, Levi.”

“I haven’t given up,” Levi snapped. “I’m just making it clear to him I’m unhappy.”

“I think the tantrum you threw at his house made that pretty clear,” the other said dryly. “You know tomato sauce is hard to get out of white carpets, right?”

Levi just turned back to his kettle, forcing Hanji to grip his phone once more so it didn’t fall to the ground.

They were exaggerating. Yes, Levi had been angry, but he hadn’t thrown a tantrum. He and Erwin had had a perfectly adult conversation about the matter, which had ended with Levi picking up a plate and throwing it at the wall before leaving his friend’s house. Hardly a tantrum, in his opinion. And justified.

Erwin had fucking met his girlfriend on this service. His argument was that he had met her as an employee and not as a client. Levi didn’t see the difference, all they had to do was hire Eren and problem solved.

Not that he knew why Erwin was so worried anyway. Eren still thought Hannah was a girl, and now Levi would never get the chance to come clean. It made him feel... dirty. Having Eren not know, keeping him in the dark like this. The only good thing out of all this was that he’d at least told Eren about what the dinner may be about. He’d worried over it for a while before having spilled the beans. He’d been trying to insist Erwin wouldn’t do anything rash but now, he was glad Eren at least knew that PR hadn’t asked to be removed as his contact.

And fuck, they’d given Eren to Christa? Seriously? She was as tame as they got! Eren would come up with a new theory on body disposal and she’d be dumb enough to call the fucking cops. Nobody knew how to talk to him except Levi. Levi was exactly what Eren had asked for! Crass, rude, borderline inappropriate, funny. He was who Eren wanted, not Christa!

Without meaning to, Levi jerked his arm out angrily, the mug he’d been using for his tea flying off the counter and slamming into the wall. It broke into three pieces hitting the wall, and then shattered into many more upon landing on the tiled floor of the kitchen.

He heard Hanji curse, more out of fright than annoyance, but ignored them and just braced himself against the counter, scowling down at the marbled surface.

This had never happened before. He’d never been this angry about losing a client before. He didn’t like it, he wanted to fix it. Erwin didn’t understand, nobody understood.

“I need to talk to Eren,” he insisted.

“The only way you’re going to get what you want is to fight for it, Levi.” Hanji disappeared from the kitchen but they returned a few moments later with a broom, moving past him to sweep up the mess he’d made. “But I think you need to be very careful and decide if you care more about Eren, or your friendship with Erwin.”

“Erwin knows I respect him, but he crossed a line.”

“Did he?” Hanji turned to him, leaning slightly against the broom. “He thinks you’re a girl, Levi. Eren has no idea who you are. You were getting in too deep, Erwin was just trying to make sure you didn’t drown yourself. He was looking out for you.”

“And himself,” Levi snapped. “Because I was spending too much time talking to Eren. I wasn’t neglecting my other clients.”

“You are now.”

“He crossed a line,” Levi repeated. “He can’t make this choice for me.”

Hanji sighed, shook their head, and went back to sweeping without a word. Levi turned back to the kettle, scowling angrily at it.

Erwin was trying to protect him, he knew that. He was well aware that Erwin wanted to make sure he didn’t get hurt, or do something he’d regret. He wasn’t an idiot. But if Levi was willing to take that risk, if he was willing to jump head first into the pool even if he might drown, wasn’t it Erwin’s duty as his friend to let him make his own choices?

It wasn’t like Erwin couldn’t jump in after him and save him. Why stop him from even trying?

How the fuck else was Levi supposed to react right now?!


Eren stared intently at the alert box on his screen, green eyes shifting back and forth between the two options.

OK. Cancel. OK. Cancel.

He shifted his mouse towards the left, then the right, then back to the left. He didn’t know. He didn’t know which one to choose, what to do.

He was now going on day seventeen. Seven-fucking-teen. He’d renewed at month’s end, wanting to give his Hannah more time, but he was really starting to feel like it was a lost cause. She wasn’t coming back. He was stuck with a boring, prude little weirdo on the other end of his phone.

The other day, he’d asked her what she thought about aliens living among them on Earth and she’d replied that space was fascinating and perhaps he should take some astronomy classes at school.

Like... what? What?! He didn’t want to take fucking astronomy classes! Hannah would’ve said it was true, that they lived among them, because Eren was proof of it, being the weirdo he was. Hannah would’ve made a jab at him, turned it into a legitimate conversation, almost a debate. The two of them would’ve continued on for at least twenty minutes, joking and laughing and insulting one another.

This new Hannah may as well have been a robot. He felt bad being so hard on her, given she had large shoes to fill, but it was like she wasn’t even trying. She wasn’t even trying! He couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t.

And he was even still paying for the friend profiles, even though the warning at the time of purchase had advised him that his friend profiles had expired. He didn’t care, he’d paid anyway, hoping that it would allow Levi and Hanji to come back.

Nothing. He had nothing.

Jean had started dragging him out to play paintball and basketball and video games. Basically, he was doing anything he could to keep Eren away from his phone, to keep him distracted. He appreciated it, but he knew it was starting to worry his friend.

And his sister. And Armin. And his parents.

He hadn’t realized how badly he’d relied on Hannah these past two months. Having her gone was like someone had ripped out a piece of him. Like a part of his soul had been stolen and he couldn’t figure out how to continue without her.

“I’m pathetic,” he insisted to himself. He blamed his reaction on never having had a girlfriend before, but it was more than that. He felt like he’d found someone who truly understood him, someone he could see himself being with in the future. He’d found the one person he knew accepted him entirely, and he couldn’t even have her because her boss was a dick.

The message on his screen timed out, asking if he was still there. He confirmed his presence, and the alert box reappeared.

Are you sure you want to cancel your contract with Invisible Significant Other?

Was he sure? No. No he wasn’t. But what other choice did he have? He’d lost her, what was the point in keeping it?

He’d had this same fight with himself every day for the past four days. To delete, or not to delete. To forget about her, or keep hanging on to hope that she would come back.

He stared intently at the screen, eyes shifting back and forth between the confirmation to end his contract, and the cancel button which would return him to his previous screen.

A knock at his door made him jump and he whipped around.

“Yeah?”

“Armin and I are going to the mall, you should come.”

Mikasa had been phrasing a lot of orders as suggestions lately. She wasn’t suggesting he come with them, she was telling him he was coming with them.

“Give me a second, I’ll get changed.”

Turning back to his computer, he took a deep breath and hit the cancel button.

One more day. He could give PR one more day.


A Skype call echoed loudly through the dark room, the screen lighting up the area around the desktop. A light flicked on, footsteps padding quietly towards the sound before a small, delicate hand clicked on the answer button.

“Hello Christa, how are you?”

“Hi Petra,” the petite girl on the other end said with a kind smile. “I was hoping to speak to Erwin, is he available?”

“I’m sorry, he’s left for a few hours,” Petra replied, taking a seat in the chair and pulling a notepad closer to herself before hunting for a pen. “What’s happening? Is everything okay?”

“Well, it’s about the uh, the handoff. Again.”

Petra’s hands stilled in their search for a pen and she gave Christa her full attention, watching the girl nervously wring her hands together.

“I know what Erwin said, about keeping everything professional and light, but his profile’s come up the past few days. I’ve gotten warnings of him in the cancellation tab. I think he wants to close his contract because I took over.”

Petra smiled kindly at the blonde girl on the other end, noting how nervous she seemed, as though she fully believed this was all her fault.

“Christa, Eren’s situation is a little... complicated.”

“But he never talks to me!” she insisted. “He’ll send me one weird text and then I’ll answer as I was told to answer by Erwin, and I won’t hear from him again until the following day! What exactly happened between him and Levi?"

Sighing, Petra finally located a pen and began jotting down notes to pass along to Erwin when he returned home. They weren’t anything she was sure Erwin didn’t already know, but she thought it best not to assume.

“How many times has he threatened to cancel?”

“Today makes it five. It shows he stays on the confirmation page for a few minutes, but he’s going to cancel. I just don’t want to get in trouble.”

“Don’t worry, Christa. If Eren cancels, even if he leaves a bad review, this one is special. Erwin won’t count it towards your commission.”

That seemed to relieve her somewhat, but Petra could tell she was still worried. She promised the blonde everything was fine and would work out, and then ended the call before going into Christa’s profile to check on what she’d said about Eren.

She didn’t end up getting that far, seeing a red exclamation point beside Levi’s name.

“Oh Levi, what now?” she said quietly, clicking his name and moving to the complaints tab.

Another lengthy complaint about Levi, this one far more detailed than any other. And worse still, it had come from one of his regulars. They were threatening to cancel, even though they had been with Levi for almost two years. This was bad.

Shaking her head, she left the complaint open on the screen and reached for the small post-it note stuck to the edge of Erwin’s desk. Pulling it off the wooden surface and placing it in front of her, she picked her pen back up and drew a little line beneath the word “complaints.”

That marked number nine. One more, and his profile would be suspended.

“Levi, what are you doing?” she asked herself quietly.

She was going to have to tell Erwin when he got home, and given how long he and Levi had been friends, this was turning into a bit of a problem. She didn’t want to stick around when he finally called to confront Levi.


Erwin Smith considered himself to be a fair and patient person. He felt he was exceptionally just in any and all decisions made, be it related to workload distribution, difficult clients, pay, and so on. He knew he could sometimes give off an air of indifference, but he never did anything without cause.

Levi, on the other hand, was not a fair and patient person. Levi was the kind of person that had a specific way of doing things, and he would bowl over anyone who stood in his way.

Currently, Erwin felt like the pin being bowled over.

He scowled at his screen in annoyance, trying to stay calm so that he didn’t overreact. Well, really, it wouldn’t be an overreaction but if he spoke to Levi right now and lost his temper, things would just get worse.

Rubbing his face, he once again reminded himself that he wasn’t a bad person. He wasn’t punishing anyone, he was just trying to run a business and keep his employees safe and happy.

Levi must’ve been out of beer—and tea—because he was anything but safe and happy.

Well, he was safe now but he certainly wasn’t happy. And him not being happy was destroying Erwin’s livelihood, along with their friendship.

Taking a slow, calming breath, he reminded himself that homicide was still illegal, and then called Levi’s Skype.

It rang. And rang. And rang. Erwin knew he’d answer eventually, so he just waited.

He counted eleven rings before the screen flickered and Levi’s indifferent expression came into view. It looked like he was in the middle of doing absolutely dick all.

“What?”

“Hello Levi. How are things?”

“What do you want, Erwin?” the other asked, sounding just as impatient as he was beginning to look.

“You’ve had four cancellations in the past week,” he said, deciding to cut to the chase. “And nine complaints since our dinner.”

“And?”

Erwin’s eyes narrowed, trying to keep himself in check. “You recognize that these cancellations and complaints count towards your commission, right?”

“And?”

He didn’t want to play this game. He really didn’t want to have to deal with Levi when he was like this. He wasn’t even being a brat, or being childish or anything. It was worse than that.

Levi was being indifferent.

Erwin had seen him like this twice before, and both times the person his indifference was directed at suffered. This time, the indifference was directed at him, and he suddenly felt sorry for the other people he hadn’t helped. Who’d have thought he’d be on the receiving end of this one day?

“Levi, you know that if you get one more complaint, I’m suspending your account.”

“And?”

He knew Levi hadn’t hung up on him yet out of respect, but if he continued on like this, Erwin was going to drive over and ensure he never said that word ever again.

“You understand why I did it, right?” He at least had to hope for that. “You understand I’m not punishing you, yes?”

“I do. I know why this happened. I just don’t care.” Levi leaned closer to the screen, eyes seeming darker than usual, more threatening. “I asked you for one thing, Erwin, and if you can’t give me even that, what’s the point?”

“Levi, this is your job. This is what pays for your rent and your food. Are you really willing to risk it all because I took away a client you wanted to keep? Do you realize how ridiculous this sounds?”

“I don’t particularly care if you think it’s ridiculous or not. You’re missing the point here, Erwin.”

“The point? And what’s that?” The blond man sighed, finding this conversation tiring already.

“How long have we known one another Erwin?”

“A long time.”

“I appreciate that you think you’re doing what’s best for me, but our friendship has always been based on mutual trust and respect. I trust you to do what needs to be done, and respect you for having the balls to make the hard call. Similarly, you trust me to admit when I can’t do something, and respect me enough to let me figure it out on my own. This situation right here, what happened with Eren, you’ve crossed a line.”

“Has it occurred to you, Levi, that I need you to trust me in this regard?” he asked in exasperation. “That perhaps I’m only cutting you off from him because I know that this is headed for disaster? You’re thirty-eight years old, Levi. He’s twenty-one, and furthermore, he thinks you’re Petra. Do you honestly think this is going to end well for either of you?”

“Don’t you think that’s a risk I’m willing to take? I’ve made it perfectly clear I’m aware of the risks here, don’t you think you owe me the chance to at least try? I know Hanji’s told you about Eren, about how I am with him. I know you understand he isn’t just another client to me, so why would you not let me do this and fail, if that’s what happens?”

“Because you’re my friend, Levi!” Erwin snapped. “And this is a business! If you don’t like it, you should’ve agreed to be my partner when I first asked you to be.”

Levi stared at him for a long while before offering him a slow, almost bored-looking shrug. He turned his face away from the camera, as if watching something off-screen.

“I should go. America’s Next Top Model is on, and I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to mock the twigs on TV.” 

“Lev—” The call ended.

Erwin rubbed his face with both hands, resisting the urge to drive over to his friend’s house and beat some sense into him.

He heard someone shifting behind him and turned to see Petra in the doorway, holding a cup of coffee. She offered him a small smile before moving further into the room and setting the coffee down on the edge of the desk.

“I wanted to come make sure you were caffeinated before heading out.”

“I’m not being unfair,” Erwin said to her, as if she had argued with him that Levi was in the right. “He’s important to me, I’m doing what’s right.”

“You know Levi better than anyone, Erwin,” Petra insisted, crossing her arms. “You need to decide what’s more important to you. I know you don’t want him to end up getting hurt over this, but looking at it from both perspectives, don’t you think you’re being a little controlling in this situation?”

“Isn’t that my job?”

“Not when it’s personal, no.” She shrugged, backing away towards the door. “Levi isn’t going to stop acting this way until he gets an explanation he’s happy with, or you give him what he wants. If he gets hurt over what happens with Eren, isn’t that something for him to deal with? It’s not really your place to step in and stop him from even trying, is it?”

“This is a business,” Erwin insisted again, becoming frustrated. Everyone was acting like he was the bad guy!

“But wasn’t it also a business when you met me?” She winked at him. “I gotta go. Just think about it. You know him best. If he never bounces back from this, you’re going to have to acknowledge your relationship with him will change, and you need to decide if you’ll be okay with that change.”

When she turned to leave, he let her until he thought of something and hurried out of the room. He leaned over the railing, seeing her at the front door, putting on her shoes.

“What would you do?” he asked.

She turned to him, cocking an eyebrow. “With Levi? Or the situation?”

“Either.”

She shrugged. “I would tell Levi to grow up and try and be more mature in getting his way. Then I would give him what he wanted, making it clear that if this blows up in his face, he can’t fall back into this pit he’s buried himself in. If this ends badly, he has to acknowledge you tried to stop it from getting that far and carry on as normal.”

“So you would let him win?” Erwin scowled. He didn’t like losing, but similarly, he didn’t like this weird relationship he and Levi had formed over this decision.

“Don’t look at it as him winning. Look at it more as choosing to give him what he wants, and making it clear all consequences are entirely on him.” She smiled at him before leaving the house.

Erwin leaned against the railing, thinking on what she’d said. He wanted to fix his relationship with Levi, but not if it meant the other getting hurt. Levi didn’t understand the severity.

He and Hanji had spoken numerous times during Levi and Eren’s interactions. In all the years he’d known Levi, never once had he seen him show interest in anyone. Not once. He was attracted to people, and he had sex with them when the urge struck, but he’d never truly cared about someone the way it was clear he cared about Eren.

Erwin knew if this ended badly—and it would end badly—that it would destroy Levi. It would reaffirm everything he’d always said about humanity. That humans were selfish, self-centered, terrible beings and that they deserved all the hardships they got. He’d grown out of that phase for the most part since university, but it still reared its ugly head every now and then, and if Levi lost Eren because the other found out about everything...

“Dammit Levi,” Erwin muttered. Why did his friend have to make everything so complicated all the time?


Eren stared at his computer screen, the cancellation tab open once more. The alert was back up on his screen, asking him if he was sure he wanted to cancel his contract.

Today more than any other day, he felt like he was sure. He felt like he wanted to just end this torture, get it over with, finish with it once and for all. He wanted to stop obsessing over Hannah/PR when it was obvious he was never going to talk to her again. At this point, he literally was being a masochist. It was over, she was fucking gone. There was no reason to stay with this stupid service anymore.

“It’s fine,” he insisted aloud. “I can just tell them we broke up.”

The words caused an ache to form in his chest. He hadn’t realized how much he’d truly cared about Hannah until he’d lost her. He didn’t want this. He wanted to fix this, he wanted to go back and stop them from getting this close. He wished he hadn’t done this to himself, because all he’d succeeded in doing was hurt himself by falling for someone he’d never have.

And now someone he’d never even get to say goodbye to. It was stupid.

Pulling his phone closer to himself, he stared down at his open messages, re-reading the last few between himself and not-Hannah. It was pathetic, really. To be this upset about someone he didn’t even truly know.

“One last time,” he said, picking up his phone. “One last time, and then I cancel.”

He meant it today. It hurt too much to keep waiting and hoping. He would try one last text message, one final attempt to get his Hannah back. And then he was cancelling.

[JaegerMeister]
Hannah, do you think the sky is conscious of the fact that it’s blue?

Tossing his phone aside, he turned back to his screen and confirmed to the alert that he was still there. His phone trilled less than a minute later and he put his mouse on the OK button, clicking it but keeping his finger pressed on the mouse before glancing at his phone.

[The Bae <3]
What the fuck, are you on drugs again?

Eren had never jerked the mouse away from an OK button so fast in his life. He hastily picked up his phone, staring at the response, rereading it multiple times as if to ensure he wasn’t hallucinating.

It said those words. They were there, on his screen, from her number. They were there. This was a real response.

[JaegerMeister]
HANNAH?!?!?!

He didn’t know why his heart was pounding so hard. He didn’t know why he was letting himself get excited over what could potentially be nothing. He didn’t want to hope. He didn’t want to be let down again.

But those words. Those were her words. They belonged to her. That wasn’t a not-Hannah response, that was a PR-Hannah response.

“It’s you. It’s you,” he said, almost pleaded. “Please, it has to be you.”

His screen shifted, a new message appearing at the bottom and forcing the other words up.

A grin so huge that it hurt forced itself onto his face at the words he found.

[The Bae <3]
Hey Lover. Miss me?

TBC...

Chapter Text

[Eren]
HANNAH?!?!?!

Levi couldn’t help the small smile that forced itself onto his lips at seeing that text. He could almost hear Eren’s desperation in that one name, and it made him relieved to know the other had been just as angry as he’d been for having been kept separate for so long. Sure, it wasn’t as long as other people, but to them, it was long enough.

[User]
Hey Lover. Miss me?

He knew that was self-serving, hearing about how Eren had missed him, but he needed to hear it anyway. A part of him had really thought that maybe Eren and Christa would’ve hit it off and he was being indifferent about the whole thing for nothing. He knew better now.

He’d spent the last hour reading through all the texts back and forth between Eren and the blonde bimbo, discovering that Eren had truly sent one text daily, almost like a test to see what kind of answer he would get. Levi would never admit it to anyone—especially Eren—but seeing the way the other had reacted to Christa made him kind of happy. It proved that they really had a connection, despite what everyone else seemed to think.

Now all he had to do was tell Eren he was actually Levi.

“Not right now,” Levi said to himself. He had time. First he had to catch up on everything he’d missed the past two weeks, get a feel for what had changed, if anything.

[Eren]
oh my god
[Eren]
hannah!
[Eren]
dont ever do that again!

Levi smirked a little. Eren wasn’t using proper capitalization and punctuation. Apparently his fingers were moving too quickly for him.

[Eren]
hannah i seriously thought i’d never speak to you again
[Eren]
your dad is a dick
[Eren]
why did he do this?
[Eren]
does he even understand how many times i wanted to cancel my phone plan?
[Eren]
i know it makes me a weird stalker
[Eren]
but i seriously care about you and this was
[Eren]
it was fucking hell
[Eren]
please dont do that to me again

[User]
Wasn’t planning on it
[User]
Trust me, he suffered for it
[User]
He and I came to an agreement.

[Eren]
good
[Eren]
great
[Eren]
hes still dead tho

Snorting, Levi shifted on the couch a bit more, trying to get comfortable, and then scowled when the text screen with Eren disappeared, his phone ringing. Great. Another stupid client.

He wanted to ignore the call but he also couldn’t do that or else he would basically be taking a step backwards with all his arguments with Erwin. Not to mention he was one complaint away from being suspended, and now that he had Eren back, there was no way he was letting that happen.

Shifting mental gears, he answered the call, being sure to be polite and act appropriately. This was one of his long-time regular clients, and according to Petra, they’d left a rather lengthy complaint about him so he had to make nice to fix the damage.

Generally complaints fell off someone’s profile once a month, so he would have to wait nine months before all complaints disappeared. But, if he could make friendly now, there was also the possibility for the clients to rescind their complaints.

Two of the complaints had been new clients, so he had no hope with those ones. With the regulars, especially the long-standing ones like this one, he figured if he gave them a half-assed sob story he could convince them he hadn’t been ignoring them and maybe they would rescind their complaints.

He’d like it if at least one person did, it was a little more stressful than he’d care to admit to have his number at nine. One mishap and he was suspended, and back to Christa Eren went. He could not let that happen.

So he sat there, feeling antsy, wanting to go back to chatting with Eren. But he didn’t. He gave the client his complete attention, making sure to keep them happy, explaining the sad family emergency he’d been dealing with, talking about how his boss didn’t understand—which was true, because Erwin didn’t—and after an obnoxiously long forty-one minutes, they finally hung up.

He quickly went back to his texts and smiled a little at what greeted him.

[Eren]
fuck hannah dont ever let him do that again
[Eren]
asshole
[Eren]
not that you arent great but am i getting levi and hanji back too?
[Eren]
hannah?
[Eren]
HANNAH?
[Eren]
OK NO!
[Eren]
FUCK YOU YOU ARE NOT DOING THIS!
[Eren]
hannah talk to me!
[Eren]
hannah!!!!!!!!!
[Eren]
HANNAH I SWEAR TO GOD!
[Eren]
So it has just come to my attention, thank you Hanji, that you are on the phone.
[Eren]
Sorry. I’ll go die of embarrassment in a corner now.

It was so satisfying seeing Eren like this. Not because Levi was a sadist, but because it reaffirmed that he actually cared.

[User]
I have to be careful
[User]
My dad’s pretty strict about all this so if I don’t do as I’m told, he’ll take my phone away again.
[User]
But yeah, you get Levi and Hanji back
[User]
Though how about you talk to ME for a bit before running back to your XBox |<

[Eren]
Don’t worry. I’m planning on spending all night on the phone with you.
[Eren]
How have you been? How are you?

[User]
Better now
[User]
How are you? How’s your wound? Healing up?

[Eren]
Yeah, it’s all right. Better than before.
[Eren]
I’m going back to school in a few weeks
[Eren]
I’m hoping that it heals up a bit more before I have to fly.

Levi scowled at Eren’s words. School. He’d forgotten about school. This was all temporary, and once the semester started again, the necessity for this service would disappear. Eren would disappear.

Erwin had pretty much stolen valuable time and now Levi was stuck with just whatever time he had left. And he was pissed!

[Eren]
I can’t wait to see you at school.
[Eren]
It’ll be nice talking to you without worrying about Jean stealing my phone -.-

Those words made Levi pause in his angry musings about lost time, wondering if it meant what he thought it did.

[User]
Me too. You’re still gonna text me, though, right?
[User]
Even if I’m there?

[Eren]
Always :)

This was bad. So very bad. He was thrilled, of course he was, but having Eren confirm they would still be talking a month from now... He would have to tell him. Eventually. Not today. Not now.

For now, he just wanted to catch up, talk to him, remind himself that he’d won and Erwin had lost and he had Eren back. A scary thought in and of itself, since now he wasn’t sure how to keep him, but that didn’t matter yet. For now, just Eren.

[User]
So, what weird conversations have I missed out on lately?

[Eren]
I don’t know...
[Eren]
I don’t remember any...

[User]
Say something stupid
[User]
I need a little bit of a reminder of why I love your stupid ass so much

He should’ve been much more concerned than he was at the fact that he meant those words. God dammit, Eren had weaselled his way into his heart and Levi had no fucking idea how to handle it.

[Eren]
Uh...
[Eren]
Do you drink coffee?

[User]
...
[User]
What?

[Eren]
Just curious
[Eren]
I heard coffee prices were going up
[Eren]
Jean’s been freaking out about it
[Eren]
He goes to SB like, eight times a day
[Eren]
So coffee prices going up sucks for him

[User]
Do you drink coffee?

[Eren]
Not really.

[User]
Makes sense
[User]
You’re just a little baby
[User]
Too tiny for coffee 

[Eren]
What?!
[Eren]
I can drink coffee!
[Eren]
YOU’RE coffee!

[User]
Why am I coffee?
[User]
Because I keep you awake all night?

[Eren]
No, because you’re bitter.

Levi couldn’t help the smile that crossed his features at those words. This was the kind of conversation Eren needed. This was what he wanted. Only Levi could talk to him like this, and he was glad Erwin had finally realized that. Christa wasn’t anywhere close to his level.

[Eren]
Sorry
[Eren]
That was mean
[Eren]
I was just kidding.

[User]
It’s not mean if it’s true.

[Eren]
Haha :P
[Eren]
Hey Hannah?

[User]
What?

[Eren]
I’m really glad you’re back <3

[User]
Of course
[User]
How could you survive without me?

[Eren]
:)

“I’m glad too, brat,” he said to his phone, but he wouldn’t ever admit that to Eren.


“You are by far the worst fucking shit ever. Can you maybe pay attention for two seconds?”

Eren felt like anyone walking into his room just then would wonder if he was deranged. He was grinning so huge his face hurt, and a part of him wanted to stop grinning so wide but couldn’t reign it in. He was just so thrilled to be hearing Levi bitching him out for sucking.

After weeks of thinking he would never speak to Hannah, Levi or Hanji ever again, it just felt so good to know he hadn’t lost those friendships. He didn’t know what had happened to change their boss’ mind, since none of the three would tell him, but he was so thankful for the change of heart.

“Admit it,” Eren insisted, covering Levi and managing to actually not die for once. “You missed me.”

"I didn’t miss your shit aim,” Levi snapped through the headset. “Seriously, did you always suck this bad? Or did I just get used to it and started being blind to it?”

“Probably the latter,” Eren offered helpfully, the round ending with them decimating the other team. For someone who complained about how shitty Eren was playing, they were doing amazingly well.

“How’s the wound? Still pussing and disgusting?” Levi asked while they moved back into Matchmaker.

“Nah, it’s better now.” Eren lifted his shirt to stare at the still bandaged wound. His father kept ensuring they were changed regularly, but the wound itself seemed to be healing up really well. It had almost completely closed up now so soon it would begin scar. “It’ll scar, but well, I’ll live.”

“You better. Hannah didn’t work that hard getting you back to have you keel over and die on her.”

Eren felt the grin returning thinking about Hannah. Unfortunately she had some real life things to deal with that day, but she’d mentioned that Levi happened to be on Halo and that, while he’d deny it, he was waiting for Eren to come online so they could play. He’d never booted his XBox up so fast in his life.

It was like nothing had changed. They were acting as if they hadn’t been apart for any length of time, and in some ways, Eren liked that. Levi wasn’t making a huge deal of it, but still obviously glad to have Eren back. It made him feel like a child, all excited and happy. Eren literally felt like a four year old on Christmas day.

“Hey Levi?”

“What?”

He had to chuckle at how similarly Hannah and Levi spoke. They really had grown up together.

“Can I ask you something?”

“You just did, so you’ve exceeded your quota.”

“Hardee har.” Eren rolled his eyes. “Um, Hannah... PR, I mean. Um, how old is she?”

Levi didn’t respond right away, as though weighing his answer.

“Why does it matter?”

“It doesn’t, I’m just curious is all.” Eren played with the left joystick absently, staring down at his hands, watching his fingernails pick at the rubber. “I mean, I’m twenty-one, you’re thirty-eight. Just wanted to make sure the age thing wasn’t an issue.”

“Age is just a number, Jaeger.” 

“I know. And I’m okay with it. But I mean... is she?”

Another long silence. Eren could practically hear Levi chewing over his words.

“Eren...”

“Yeah?” He felt his heart sink. Oh no, what now?

“About Hannah...”

“What about Hannah?” Oh God, what now?!

Levi said nothing, the tension in Eren’s shoulders increasing. He felt like he was going to start shaking with the amount of stress he was feeling.

“Levi, what?!”

“Don’t tell her I told you, okay? Women don’t like talking about their age.” Levi’s words came out in a bit of a rush, like he was exhaling them with the breath he’d been holding.

“Okay...?” Eren wasn’t sure how else to respond to that.

“She’s almost thirty-nine. Her birthday’s in December.”

“Oh.” The age gap had just widened by a year. Eren didn’t mind, but he worried about how she felt. He was practically a child to her, wasn’t he? “She still, you know, likes me right?”

“You’re an idiot,” Levi grumbled, Eren glancing at the screen when it flickered. They’d started a new round.

“I’m just asking. I’m twenty-one, I don’t want her to think I’m immature.”

“You are immature.”

“But endearingly so,” Eren insisted, pointing his finger at the screen, as though speaking to Levi in person. “I am endearingly immature.”

“If you say so. Now shut up and shoot.” 

Eren did as he was told, firing off a few rounds before getting blown up by a grenade. He and Levi were halfway through the round when a new player logged on. Jean.

Shit, he didn’t really want to play with Jean right now, but he couldn’t ditch him after all the shit he’d gone through for him. Jean had really stepped up the past few weeks so it would be a dick move if he ditched him.

“Horse is on.”

“Oh yeah. I forgot you had him now.” Eren hesitated. “Can he, uh, join us?”

“Why are you even asking? I haven’t had the chance to piss him off for weeks.”

Eren grinned and invited Jean into their party. He wouldn’t be able to play in their current round, but at least he could hear them and know he wasn’t being ignored.

“Levi. Been a while.”

“I was busy trying to figure out how to tame horses out in the wild. Gave up and killed them for the horse meat.”

Eren snorted so hard it physically hurt, both inside his throat and also in his stomach where his wound was. Jean just made weird sputtering sounds, as if unsure whether to be offended or horrified.

“I swear to God, if I ever meet you Levi, I’m kicking your ass!”

“Yeah, good luck with that.”

Grinning to himself and having missed this, Eren said nothing and continued to play, listening to the two of them banter for a bit. When they moved into dangerous waters, he couldn’t help but sit up straighter, regretting his decision to invite Jean into their chat.

“So, did you have anything to do with Hannah’s dad letting her talk to Eren again? Guy was angsting harder than a Twilight chick.”

“Shut up, asshole!” Eren shouted, feeling heat beginning to rise up the back of his neck. His ears were burning and he was certain his face would be as red as his shirt in no time.

“I had something to do with it, yeah. It was a pain in the ass, but for some crazy, inexplicable reason, she loves the moron. I couldn’t let it end like this.” 

It was weird hearing Levi talk about it. He still didn’t know the extent of what had happened, but he trusted that Levi had had something to do with it. Hanji had admitted that if it weren’t for what Levi had done—whatever that was—Eren never would’ve spoken to Hannah again. He owed him big time, and he didn’t even know why.

“Good. What happened, anyway? I mean, they’ve been dating for months, why freak out now?”

"Do you mind? I’m trying to keep Eren’s ass alive. We’re not here to talk about my dumb bitch best friend.” 

“She’s not a dumb bitch,” Eren insisted, promptly getting shot in the head and dying instantly.

“That death was because she distracted you. Pay attention, Jaeger.” 

“Whatever,” he insisted grumpily, hunkering down in his seat and continuing to play.

Jean kept trying to make small talk, masochist that he was, but Levi seemed in a better mood than usual. He wouldn’t admit it—and couldn’t with Jean around—but Eren knew he was glad to be talking to him again.

It was so strange to think they weren’t friends in the conventional sense, and yet all of them had fought for this. He didn’t know how he’d have fared if he’d never spoken to Hannah ever again. Or Levi. Or even Hanji. It felt so surreal not to have them in his life anymore, they were important. Some more than others.

He again regretted having Jean in the chat, because he couldn’t talk freely with Levi, and he worried the gamer would leave long before Jean did.

Thankfully, around five, Jean logged off because he was going to dinner—with Mikasa, of all people—so it was just Levi and Eren again.

"I’m done with Halo for the night,” Levi said.

“Oh. Yeah, okay. We’ve been playing for hours, makes sense.”

“Jeez, Jaeger, you sound like I just kicked your puppy into the street. Did you miss me that much?”

“Shut up,” he muttered. “I just... wanted to talk to you. About Hannah.”

“Obviously, you talk about nothing else,” he heard the other mutter. “What is it then?” 

“Just... what are we?”

“How the fuck should I know? Ask her!” 

“Right.” He winced. “I just... I don’t know. Never mind.”

Levi said nothing and Eren let out a slow breath, rubbing his face. It had been a long day of gaming, Levi was right. They should go, do other things. Interact with people, go outside, breathe fresh air.

“Eren?”

“Yeah?” he asked, dragging his hands down his face. “What’s up?”

Silence. Eren frowned, wondering if the connection had dropped.

“Never mind. I’ll talk to you later.”

Levi logged out without so much as a goodbye. Eren frowned at the television, finding he’d been acting a little odd today. Well, moreso than usual anyway. It made him nervous, like Levi wanted to admit to him he was maybe in love with PR or something. But if that were true, why would he help her talk to Eren again?

Though to be fair, people did insane things for the people they loved. They would even help them be happy at their own expense. Shit, did Levi like Hannah? He’d insisted he didn’t the last time they spoke, had that changed?

“Don’t over-think this!” Eren insisted to himself, slapping his own cheeks hard. He had to stay focussed. If he over-thought things too much, he was just going to cause himself problems.

Everything was fine. It was fine.



[Eren]
I have a family thing to go to tomorrow...
[Eren]
I really don’t want to...
[Eren]
Like, at all...

Levi scratched idly at his bare stomach while reading Eren’s messages. He was lying in bed, the room dark save for the light coming from his screen. He’d told Eren he was going to bed over an hour ago, and the other had asked if it was okay to keep texting anyway. Levi should’ve said no because now, despite how exhausted he was, he couldn’t help but continue to reply.

He really hated how much control Eren had over him.

[User]
Then don’t go?

[Eren]
I have to.
[Eren]
No choice.

He sounded like such a little child. It would be annoying were it anyone else, but it was adorable when it came from Eren. Especially when he followed up his texts with a picture of his most ridiculous pouty-face. Like he’d done just then.

Levi was saving this picture as blackmail for later.

[User]
Well, think of me fondly while you die of boredom then.

[Eren]
I’ve actually been trying to think of ways to get out of it
[Eren]
Like, what if the zombie apocalypse started?
[Eren]
Wouldn’t be able to go then!

“It’s cute you think you’d survive a zombie apocalypse,” Levi said to his phone, a smirk teasing his lips. Eren was the least likely candidate to survive the apocalypse. Even Jean had a better chance of it. Eren’s only chance at surviving would be if Levi was there to protect him.

[User]
Yeah, but you’d be dead
[User]
Or zombie food so, still dead 

[Eren]
No, no!

[User]
Or a zombie 

[Eren]
See, I’ve thought this through!
[Eren]
Perfect idea!
[Eren]
If the zombie apocalypse were to hit, I’d barricade my house!
[Eren]
At first I was thinking about using my bed to barricade my window
[Eren]
But then I remembered it’s made with slats so it wouldn’t work.
[Eren]
Then I realized I could just unscrew all of my doors and use THOSE to barricade the windows.
[Eren]
Slats I could use to reinforce the front and back doors
[Eren]
And then like...
[Eren]
Just use cupboard doors and whatever else available to barricade the rest of the windows and all the little area they’d try and come through.

It was almost adorable how much thought Eren had put into this. Was he expecting an apocalypse?

[User]
And then die of starvation.

[Eren]
Well...
[Eren]
We have a freezer full of food in the basement, so I’d be okay for a while.
[Eren]
I’d just have to plan it right to go outside to replenish my supply.

[User]
What about water?

[Eren]
My mom’s an earthquake preparedness freak, we have so much water it’s insane.

“You are way too into this...” Levi let out a small puff of air, trying to contain a laugh.

[User]
Huh...
[User]
Guess maybe you should wait for the apocalypse and then get out of your family gathering tomorrow.

[Eren]
YES!

[User]
Except it’d have to come pretty much right now.

[Eren]
Oh...
[Eren]
Right...

Levi chuckled again at the fact that this hadn’t occurred to Eren. Even so, he didn’t see what the harm in a family gathering was. Levi would do pretty much anything to see his mother again.

As if influenced by his own thoughts, Eren’s next question made Levi pause, eyes reading over the words a few times before setting down his phone and rubbing at his face. He acknowledged that they were close, and Eren had even told him about his sister’s awful situation, but he also liked to keep his past where it belonged.

In the past.

Then again, he’d never been open about it with anyone, not even Erwin. Eren had already proven to be different, and in a way, he knew admitting everything to him would probably help him emotionally. Not to mention there was the added bonus of knowing Erwin would read it, since the weirdo read everyone’s chat posts. And since he knew Levi was aware of that, it would kind of be a small nod to Erwin, showing he wanted him to know by admitting it to Eren.

But again, did he want to admit it to Eren? Normal people talked about these things, right? Maybe that was why he was so fucked up emotionally. Because bad things had happened to him and he’d never talked about them with anyone.

Reaching for his phone, he stared at Eren’s message for a few more seconds.

Maybe now would be a good time to lay it all out. His past, and that he was Levi. It was kind of the opportune moment to be completely honest.

[Eren]
Are you close with your family?

[User]
No 

He hesitated again, fingers hovering over the keys.

[Eren]
Why not?
[Eren]
You don’t have to tell me if it’s too personal.
[Eren]
I mean, obviously you and your dad have issues, considering. 

[User]
He’s not my real dad

He knew Eren was using Erwin, aka his boss, as Hannah’s dad for the service’s sake, but he figured he could still use it if Erwin was his “step-dad.”

[Eren]
Oh. Sorry.
[Eren]
Divorce?
[Eren]
Or...? :(
[Eren]
Sorry.

[User]
Stop apologizing, moron
[User]
My dad left when I was little, so I never actually met him
[User]
My mom died of cancer when I was seven

[Eren]
Well... aren’t I just the biggest asshole on the planet
[Eren]
We don’t have to talk about it.

Levi kind of liked that Eren hadn’t apologized for it. He hated that, when people were sorry for his loss. As if they were responsible, or that the words would mean anything at all in light of the tragedy. He’d always found it a stupid sentiment, and to this day, anyone who knew about his mother’s passing had said they were sorry about it.

Except Eren. And fuck if that didn’t make him care about the brat even more.

[User]
It’s fine, it was a really long time ago now
[User]
I grew up with my uncle, but he was a dick
[User]
My step-dad came into the picture when I started university 

[Eren]
I guess when everything happened, your uncle was your godparent?

[User]
Yeah 

He wished he could talk to Eren about this properly, without having to tip-toe. He wanted to have real conversations with him about this, without worrying about his friends snatching away his phone and figuring everything out.

[Eren]
I don’t mean to be rude
[Eren]
And if this isn’t cool with you, that’s fine
[Eren]
But I’d really like to talk to you about this more in detail.

“Are you reading my mind now, Eren?” Levi asked with a frown. How were they always on the same wavelength?

[Eren]
Maybe next month, when we’re back at school, we can revisit this?

[User]
Yeah
[User]
That’d be better

[Eren]
Good
[Eren]
Thanks

[User]
There’s something else I wanted to talk to you about though

[Eren]
Oh yeah? :)
[Eren]
What’s up?

Levi hesitated, realizing his error. If he couldn’t talk about his past right now because of Eren’s friends, obviously he couldn’t admit he was Levi either. That would be even worse. No, he had to wait until Eren was back at school. It was better.

That, or they had to talk on the XBox. He couldn’t do this over text, it risked being intercepted.

[User]
When we’re back, if your habit of hogging the blankets is still in full force, I’m sleeping in my own bed.

[Eren]
I told you I can’t help it!

It was okay. He would tell him later.

There was no rush, he didn’t need to admit it now.

He had time.



[Eren]
This day is just getting worse and worse

[User]
Wow
[User]
SOMEONE woke up on the drama queen side of the bed this morning
[User]
What’s the matter, Lover, someone piss in your Cheerios again?

[Eren]
Fuck you
[Eren]
And that’s gross

[User]
Guess I’ll cross golden showers off our list of kinky shit to try 

[Eren]
EW!
[Eren]
HANNAH!

[User]
What?
[User]
Just trying to keep our sex life interesting
[User]
What’s got you in such a shit mood?

[Eren]
Funny you should ask me that
[Eren]
Considering
[Eren]
I just got shat on.

Levi cocked an eyebrow at the comment, biting down harder on the popsicle stick in his mouth.

It had been an incredibly warm week for some reason, and he and Hanji had been taking turns running down to the store to buy various frozen desserts. They had all their fans going on high and two of the air conditioners running, and still Levi was sweating like a pig despite being in nothing other than shorts and a wifebeater.

Hanji had even considered chopping off their hair, something Levi had very kindly offered to do. They’d been gone for almost two hours since his offer, so he could only assume their answer was no.

Turning the fan a bit more so the air was directly on him, he had to at least forgive the grossness of his sweat when it made the cool air hitting his skin seem even cooler. Still, sweating was disgusting. He wanted to shower, but that would mean ending his conversation with Eren.

Considering he would soon be losing the other to an evening out with his friends and sister, Levi had to stock up while he had the chance.

Lying back down completely on the couch and putting the popsicle stick down on the table behind him, he went back to his text messages.

[User]
I’m sorry, you got what?

[Eren]
Shat on. I got SHAT on!
[Eren]
You know, a bird shit on me?

[User]
Then just say a bird shit on you, moron
[User]
What the hell does "shat" even mean?

[Eren]
I should go buy a lottery ticket.
[Eren]
Idk, isn’t it British or something?

[User]
Why?
[User]
Probably
[User]
Brits are weird 

[Eren]
What do you MEAN why?
[Eren]
Getting shat on is good luck!
[Eren]
I could be a millionaire!

[User]
Eren, you got shit on
[User]
How is that good luck?

[Eren]
Idk... it’s just a thing?
[Eren]
That exists?
[Eren]
If you get shat on by a bird, it’s good luck?

[User]
That myth probably started when someone got shit on and to make themselves feel better, they decided it meant it was good luck
[User]
Stop saying SHAT!
[User]
That’s not a real word!

[Eren]
It is!
[Eren]
It’s British!
[Eren]
Look it up |<

[User]
You’re an idiot
[User]
Go buy yourself a lottery ticket then
[User]
With your SHAT-covered hand 

[Eren]
It shat on my shoulder
[Eren]
And I WILL
[Eren]
And when I win, you’ll be sorry!

[User]
So sorry
[User]
I’m sure 

[Eren]
Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitch

Levi half-smirked at their exchange, switching screens every few seconds to ensure he was replying to his other clients.

He’d been extremely lucky, given how close he’d been to a suspension. Of the nine complaints he’d received, five had rescinded when he’d given them a sob story about why he’d been acting the way he was. While it was a lie, he appreciated that they’d been kind enough to recall their complaints. He was being sure to pay extra attention to those clients, almost as a thank you for letting him breathe more easily.

For letting him keep Eren.

Another screen blinked at him and he frowned before opening it, seeing a picture of Hanji with their hair chopped almost half off.

[ShittyGlasses]
HAIRCUUUUUUUT~

[User]
I could’ve done better for free 

[ShittyGlasses]
you’d have shaved my head, don’t lie
[ShittyGlasses]
OH LEVI~
[ShittyGlasses]
I FEEL SO UNLOVED!

[User]
You ARE unloved 

[ShittyGlasses]
Where’s MY picture?!
[ShittyGlasses]
Rude
[ShittyGlasses]
That hurt my feelings

[User]
Good 

[ShittyGlasses]
|<
[ShittyGlasses]
I demand a picture

[User]
You see me every day 

[ShittyGlasses]
I DEMAND A PICTURE

“You are fucking insane,” Levi muttered, switching screens to his camera. If it would make them shut up, he’d do it.

He took a picture and sent it to them.

[ShittyGlasses]
UMMMMM
[ShittyGlasses]
That was gross
[ShittyGlasses]
I wanted a SEXY picture!

[User]
Why?

[ShittyGlasses]
Never you mind
[ShittyGlasses]
Maybe I need something to masturbate to later
[ShittyGlasses]
Send me a sexy picture

[User]
Go fuck yourself 

[ShittyGlasses]
Send me a sexy picture or I will do unspeakable things to something you own
[ShittyGlasses]
Like lick something
[ShittyGlasses]
Ooooh or cover something in dust
[ShittyGlasses]
OR BLOOD!

Levi scowled at his phone. He would refuse, but the last time Hanji had made a threat like that, Levi had been forced to throw away all of his tea because Hanji had replaced one batch with ashes from the fireplace and Levi couldn’t tell which batch it was.

He didn’t want to risk another shitty prank like that again. Sometimes being friends with Hanji was a pain in the ass.

Why did they even need a picture?

Sighing in annoyance, he figured he’d just get it over with before they made him suffer more. If they wanted to masturbate to his picture, that was their problem for being fucking weird.

Opening the camera up once more, he shifted one hand under his shirt, almost wincing at the feeling of sweat, and dragged it upwards so it forced his wifebeater up at well. Tilting his head to the side, he angled the camera slightly and then snapped the picture.

“There. Sexy. Sure.” He cropped it a little then went back to his texts with Hanji, sending them the new picture.

[ShittyGlasses]
EXCELLENT
[ShittyGlasses]
Thanks Leviiiii~

[User]
Stop prancing 

[ShittyGlasses]
How did you know I was prancing...?

He switched back to his conversation with Eren, snorting at the moron’s comments while he’d been speaking to Hanji.

[Eren]
I bought one of those scratch and wins
[Eren]
And guess what!
[Eren]
I won TWENTY DOLLARS
[Eren]
So you can SUCK MY DICK Hannah!
[Eren]
Hannah?
[Eren]
I didn’t mean that :(
[Eren]
I’m sorry, I got competitive
[Eren]
Hannah? ;~;

[User]
What’s wrong, Lover?
[User]
You thought your tiny little dick scared me off?

[Eren]
EXCUSE YOU
[Eren]
My dick is NOT tiny
[Eren]
I’d send you a dick pic
[Eren]
But I am a GENTLEMAN!

[User]
I’m not.

[Eren]
Obviously
[Eren]
Since you’re a GIRL and all

Levi sighed at the text, once again reminded that Eren didn’t actually know he was speaking to Levi. Sometimes, he forgot, because their conversations were no different between when they were chatting on the XBox and when they were texting.

“I should tell him,” he muttered to himself, but then he remembered he’d decided to wait until Eren got back to school. Shouldn’t be long now, just over two weeks left to go. He was sure nothing would go wrong until then.

[Eren]
What
[Eren]
The
[Eren]
FUCK!

[User]
??

[Eren]
OMG
[Eren]
HANNAH
[Eren]
WTF!!!

[User]
What?

He sat bolt upright when Eren sent him back a picture.

A picture of him.

That he had just taken.

And sent to Hanji.

“What the fuck, shitty-glasses!” Levi shouted angrily.

[Eren]
HANNAH!
[Eren]
WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!
[Eren]
LEVI IS A FUCKING BABE!
[Eren]
HOW ARE YOU DATING ME AND NOT HIM?!
[Eren]
OMG THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER!
[Eren]
MY COMPETITION IS TOO STRONG!
[Eren]
NOW I HAVE TO KILL HIM!
[Eren]
THANKS A LOT HANNAH!
[Eren]
MAKING ME FRIENDS WITH SOMEONE THAT FUCKING HOT
[Eren]
ONLY FOR ME TO HAVE TO TAKE HIM THE FUCK OUT FOR BEING COMPETITION
[Eren]
I’LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU!

Levi stared at his phone, wondering what the fuck was going on. What was Eren saying?

Had he actually just admitted Levi was attractive? Was that what he was saying in between his weird freakout? Was he actually admitting he thought Levi was hot?!

Another message popped onto his screen, scrolling along the top of his texts with Eren and Levi’s eyes snapped to it unintentionally while Eren continued to rant about having to kill Levi.

The message had two words.

[ShittyGlasses]
You’re welcome.

TBC...

Chapter Text

[JaegerMeister]
Do you ever think about how it’d be if houses could talk?

Eren leaned back further against the headboard of his bed while staring at his phone, the television illuminating a large majority of his room so that the glare of his screen wasn’t too much of a strain on his eyes.

He glanced at the time on his phone and winced, knowing he really should be getting to bed, but he didn’t want to. He knew once he went to sleep, he’d wake up and have to give up Hannah for a few days.

They kind of had a tradition before everyone went back to school. It had started in high school, but once they’d all gone off to university, they’d kept it going since it made more sense given they didn’t see one another until Christmas and summer.

The week before they were all set to go back, Mikasa, Jean, Armin and Eren all went out camping in the woods. A funny tradition in and of itself, since all of them seemed averse to the outdoors except Mikasa. One of the parents used to come with them when they were younger, but once they hit sixteen, it was decided they were old enough to venture out on their own. Besides, everyone always trusted Mikasa and Armin to keep Jean and Eren in line, and it usually worked out.

This was the first year Eren didn’t want to go, and for purely selfish reasons. He didn’t want to be away from his phone. That was one of the rules: no electronics. It was supposed to be a time to go out and reconnect before the distance separated them all again. He liked it, spending that time with them, but he worried about what time away from Hannah would do.

Especially after seeing a picture of Levi.

He let out a groan just thinking about it, sliding down his headboard to lie flat on his back and covering his face with his arms, phone still clutched tightly in his right hand. Whenever he’d pictured Levi in his head, it had been as a grouchy old man, someone who looked a bit like a cross between his own father and Armin’s grandfather. But now… Shit, now he knew better, and he was worried.

How was it possible for Hannah to like him over Levi? Levi was the definition of perfect! They had the same personality, so he and Hannah could always joke and be crass together, and they’d known one another forever. Now, to top it off, Levi was a fucking Greek God chiseled out of fucking stone.

Eren hated him for that. How dare he look that damn good? He’d always thought Jean was the most attractive guy he knew, but now he knew better, and it annoyed him. Why was everyone better looking than him? Not to mention fucking Levi and Hannah were in the same damn state, probably neighbours, hanging out on weekends and having game nights and being crass and inappropriate together.

He let out a quiet sound of anger before rolling onto his stomach and burying his face in his pillow. This wasn’t supposed to be so fucking hard. He wished he’d never gotten that stupid picture, now all he did was freak out about Hannah leaving him for Levi.

It didn’t help that every time he spoke to Levi lately, the other seemed almost… skittish? That wasn’t the right word for how he acted, but he just seemed a little off. Like he wanted to talk to Eren about something, but didn’t at the same time. And, of course, that just made Eren feel like Levi secretly did love Hannah, and he didn’t know how to tell him.

Eren didn’t want to compete with Levi. For one thing, he’d lose, and for another, he really liked Levi. He wanted to be able to keep their relationship going as it was, and there was now a huge risk of that not happening.

This entire thing was completely messed up. He never should’ve signed up for Invisible Significant Other in the first place. All he’d done was lie to his family and friends, and fall in love with someone twice his age who probably thought he was a teeny, tiny little gnat. Not to mention Levi…

“Stop thinking about him, stop thinking about him, stop thinking about him,” Eren insisted to himself, rolling around on his bed. “Nothing good will come out of you thinking about him! You’re just gonna start hating him for no reason!”

Though his rock hard abs being so fucking rock hard and perfect seemed like a perfectly good reason to hate him, in Eren’s opinion.

Still whining to himself, Eren lifted his phone to see Hannah’s reply, a smile forcing itself onto his face at her classic response.

[The Bae <3]
… Are you drunk?

“I wish,” he muttered, rolling onto his stomach so he could text more easily.

[JaegerMeister]
No…
[JaegerMeister]
I was just thinking about it.
[JaegerMeister]
Monster House is on TV.

[The Bae <3]
Idk what that is.

[JaegerMeister]
A movie.

[The Bae <3]
Thanks moron -.-

[JaegerMeister]
Aren’t you curious though?
[JaegerMeister]
Houses speaking would be awesome!
[JaegerMeister]
Like, you’re painting your house and it’s all
[JaegerMeister]
 “YELLOW?! I don’t wanna be fucking YELLOW! Barry across the street is blue, he’d make fun of me! I wanna be green! Green’s an awesome colour!”

[The Bae <3]

[The Bae <3]
Yeah…
[The Bae <3]
You’re gonna be single soon

[JaegerMeister]
What?! D:

[The Bae <3]
How do I put up with you?

[JaegerMeister]
Noooooooo :(
[JaegerMeister]
Because I’m awesome! 8D

[The Bae <3]
Well, you’re not boring, that’s for sure.

Eren grinned like an idiot at those words, burying his face in his pillow again. He didn’t know why, but every time Hannah talked about how not-boring he was, it made him feel all weird and giddy. It was like her own special way of saying she cared about him, and it turned his entire body into happy mush.

[JaegerMeister]
Really?

[The Bae <3]
Really.

[JaegerMeister]
Not just saying that because of…
[JaegerMeister]
You know…

[The Bae <3]
What do you think, moron?
[The Bae <3]
Pretty sure you know the answer to that

[JaegerMeister]
:)

Eren rolled around some more in bed, feeling like an idiot. He knew he was acting like a child, but he’d never had a girlfriend before, and while Hannah wasn’t exactly his girlfriend, she was… something? He didn’t know, he just knew they were something. He figured they could talk about it more easily when he was back at school, and nobody would steal his phone.

His university friends could be obnoxious sometimes, but none of them were like Jean. It made sense though, considering how many years he’d known the horse, but still. He couldn’t wait until the threat of exposure disappeared.

[The Bae <3]
Though houses talking would be bad
[The Bae <3]
If I murder my roommate and the cops come by, it’d be problematic.

“Huh.” Eren frowned. Had he known Hannah had a roommate? He didn’t feel like that had ever come up before. He figured it made sense though, it made rent cheaper. He and Jean had already planned on moving in together once they were done university, they just hadn’t figured out where they would be doing that. Chances were Mikasa and Armin would follow them around—Mikasa because she worried and Armin because he didn’t like being left out. It kind of made him feel guilty that he spent so much more time with Jean than he did Armin, but he and Armin had nothing in common anymore. He got along a lot better with Mikasa anyway.

[The Bae <3]
“So you have no idea what happened to your roommate then?”
[The Bae <3]
“No officer, no idea.”
[The Bae <3]
“THAT’S A LIE! SHE DID IT! SHE KILLED HER ROOMMATE! IT WAS HER, SHE DID IT!”

[JaegerMeister]
No way, you’d be fine!
[JaegerMeister]
“Uh, I’m her boyfriend. The house is lying, she was with me.”

[The Bae <3]
“HE’S LYING! HE HELPED DISPOSE OF THE BODY!”

[JaegerMeister]
“Listen house, do you wanna be next? I have some gasoline in the trunk!”

[The Bae <3]
“… They’re completely right officer, both of them were together, and were definitely NOT feeding pieces of her roommate to the garbage disposal.”

[JaegerMeister]
You have a really dark mind, you know that?
[JaegerMeister]
Like Levi.

[The Bae <3]
Well, I spend a lot of time with Levi.
[The Bae <3]
We're the same person.

[JaegerMeister]
As long as he doesn’t steal my girlfriend, I’m okay with that.

[The Bae <3]
Don’t worry, I guarantee you are in NO danger of Levi stealing me.

It always reassured Eren to see words like that. Even if he couldn’t fathom how that could possibly be true, knowing what he knew now.

[JaegerMeister]
Can I ask you something?

[The Bae <3]
You just did, you’ve exceeded your quota for asking questions.

He couldn’t help but scowl at that, remembering Levi saying that to him once a week or so back. Usually he didn’t mind how similar the two of them were, but now he found it really unnerving. It meant they really did spend an almost obscene amount of time together while Eren was probably half-way across the country.

[JaegerMeister]
How come you and Levi never got together?
[JaegerMeister]
I mean, you obviously get along
[JaegerMeister]
And have the same sense of humour
[JaegerMeister]
And are closer in age
[JaegerMeister]
So why haven’t you ever gone out with him.

He knew his message had been read, but Hannah didn’t reply. He wondered if maybe he shouldn’t have asked, it would’ve been safer for him not to say anything, but he hadn’t been able to help it. He wanted to know how she could possibly choose someone like Eren over Levi.

[The Bae <3]
Dating Levi is impossible for me.

[JaegerMeister]
Why?

[The Bae <3]
It just is.

[JaegerMeister]
Would you ever consider it?

[The Bae <3]
Why does it matter so much to you anyway?

[JaegerMeister]
Idk…
[JaegerMeister]
I guess I just…
[JaegerMeister]
I didn’t expect him to be so attractive, is all
[JaegerMeister]
So now I feel, idk…

He felt like a child admitting he was jealous of Levi, but it was the truth. He hadn’t expected him to look so attractive, and honestly, he was actually beginning to obsess a little bit. Every now and then he would pull up the picture and compare himself to him and then feel all weird and insecure.

[The Bae <3]
Are you jealous of Levi, Lover?
[The Bae <3]
Because that’s ADORABLE.

[JaegerMeister]
Shut up
[JaegerMeister]
I need to go to bed
[JaegerMeister]
I’ll talk to you in three days.

[The Bae <3]
Okay
[The Bae <3]
I’ll be here when you get back
[The Bae <3]
Try not to get eaten by a bear.

[JaegerMeister]
Biiiiiiitch
[JaegerMeister]
Good night <3

[The Bae <3]
Night Lover.

Eren tossed his phone onto his nightstand and disentangled himself from his blankets before pulling them up over his head, letting out a loud huff. This was stupid, he was stupid. There was no point in being jealous when he had no idea what was going on between himself and Hannah anyway. What if she was married and Eren was her side-bitch? What if she was in a relationship in real life with Levi, and they were having problems which was why she was drifting towards Eren even though she knew she’d eventually go back to Levi? Hell, what if Levi was in love with Eren too and that was making things complicated for Hannah and Levi’s friendship?

“That’s just dumb,” Eren insisted to himself, closing his eyes and willing himself to sleep.

Everything was fine, he was overthinking. It was all fine.

Fine, fine, fine.



Everything was not fine and Levi really wanted to fix it.

Even though he knew Eren would be gone for three days, he felt weird not getting random texts from him, asking him weird questions about houses talking and coffee prices increasing and birds “shatting.” It was very reminiscent of when he’d been taken away from him, and he found himself constantly checking his phone between texts and calls with other clients to ensure Eren’s number was still there. It always was, but this was just reaffirming that he had it bad for this stupid moron because he couldn’t stop obsessing about him.

Which, as it turned out, was exactly what Eren was doing, too. And strangely enough, it wasn’t Hannah he was obsessing over. It was Levi.

Both a good and a bad thing.

Eren had started getting weird since the picture had been sent whenever he and the student played Halo. He wasn’t different, really, he was just weird. He asked more questions about why Levi and Hannah weren’t dating, which Levi found increasingly more difficult to dodge. And now he was also asking Hannah why they weren’t dating. It was like the picture had crushed Eren’s self-esteem, which was ridiculous because Levi thought he was incredibly attractive.

Sure, he’d become more attractive since Levi had started developing feelings for him, but even at the beginning he’d found him to be good looking. His eyes were very striking.

Checking the time again and letting out a small breath he refused to admit was a sigh, Levi settled back more on the couch, wondering where Eren lived. They were still going through their heatwave, and he couldn’t help but be curious about whether or not Eren was out in the forest somewhere in nothing but a pair of shorts. He’d pay money to see that…

Then again, he was conflicted, because he knew the horse was with him. Eren seemed very confused in his sexuality sometimes, because he often commented on how hot Jean was, not to mention he’d called Levi a babe. While he acknowledged that people often used terms like that, it was usually reserved for close friends, and Levi didn’t think he was a close enough friend to earn that word yet. Not to mention most straight men he knew made it very clear someone was attractive and not hot or a babe. Seeing Eren say those words was very confusing.

“It’s very boring without Eren,” Hanji said from their spot in the armchair, flipping idly through the channels while sipping some kind of frozen fruit drink. “What did we even do before Eren?”

“Played video games.” It occurred to Levi that neither of them had played Magic: The Gathering in quite some time.

“When is he coming back?”

“Thursday.”

“You mean it’s barely even been one day?! Ugh.” Hanji let their hand drop, the controller landing on their thigh and the channel remaining on some weird cooking show. Levi felt “weird” was an accurate term given it showed two men wrestling for a cabbage in the middle of a store.

“What’s gonna happen when he goes back to school, do you think?” Hanji asked. “I mean, he’s keeping Hannah, obviously, but do you think he’ll keep you and me, too?”

The thought had never occurred to him, and now he was annoyed. If Eren went back to school, and Levi was dropped from his contract, he would be pretty pissed off. He always made a point to be more entertaining as Levi than he was as Hannah, but Eren seemed more interested in either talking to Hannah or about Hannah and Levi wasn’t sure how to change that.

“When are you gonna tell him?”

Levi turned to Hanji then, his roommate eying him with interest. They frowned when he didn’t respond right away and seemed a little uncertain.

“You… are going to tell him, right?”

“Yeah,” he muttered, turning back to the television. “Just trying to figure out when.”

“Right. Don’t put it off too long, Levi. Something will eventually come back to bite you.”

He said nothing to that, mostly because he knew it was true. But he needed to wait until Eren was back at school. Maybe he could talk to him about it over a game of Halo one day, or even call him from his phone so Eren saw Hannah’s name. No, maybe not that second one, Eren would freak out.

He didn’t know how to bring it up, though. He wanted to make sure he didn’t just blurt it out without any forethought because he didn’t want Eren to think this was all a joke. He knew he wouldn’t appreciate finding something like this out after having fallen for someone, but really, hadn’t Eren literally just fallen for Levi? Sure he didn’t know he was a guy, but he still liked him overall, right? Hannah was Levi so realistically, Eren liked Levi.

Somehow, he doubted Eren would see it that way. He would have to be careful, plan it out accordingly. Make sure he made it explicitly clear to Eren that he did like him, and he wasn’t making fun of him. Eren would be pissed, of course, but probably only for a little while. He’d get over it once he realized Levi was being sincere.

Maybe he should do it on his birthday. Eren couldn’t be mean to Levi on his birthday, right? And December wasn’t that far away. By the time Eren got back to school, it would only be four months away.

Then again, Levi’s birthday was on Christmas day, so Eren would probably be at home with his family. Which meant Jean would be around to steal his phone. Which meant he couldn’t do it then, either.

Okay, then maybe after Christmas? When he got back to school? Start the year fresh with truth and honesty. That wouldn’t be a bad idea, just lay it all out in the new year and—

“Are you procrastinating?”

“What?” Levi turned to Hanji and found them eying him suspiciously.

“You have that look.”

“What look?” Levi demanded, scowling.

“The look you get when Erwin asks you to do something and you’re trying to figure out how to delay doing it as long as possible.”

“I’m not delaying anything,” he snapped, turning back to the television and scowling. “I’m going to tell him, I just need to make sure I do it at the right time.”

“And in the right way, and very carefully, and maybe on your birthday, or that might be too harsh so perhaps in the new year, start fresh, but then he might suffer in school so perhaps next summer would be best, but then he’d be home with Jean, and so on, and so on. How am I doing?”

Levi turned to glare at them, but Hanji just gave him a knowing look and shrugged.

“I know you, Levi, but I can also tell how important he is to you. Don’t fuck this up, or else you’re not the only one who’s gonna lose him. Just remember that.”

“I’m not gonna fuck it up, shitty-glasses,” he muttered. “I’ll tell him when the time is right.”

“Sooner rather than later, Levi.”

“Shut up, I’m a grown man, I know what I’m doing.”

They said nothing to that, but Levi felt like they didn’t believe him. He ignored their judgement and the two of them pretended to watch TV while actually thinking about other things.

He would tell Eren. He would. Just not right now.



“We’re lost.”

“We are not lost, Kamikaze-Head!”

“We’ve passed that tree four times.”

“You can’t possibly know that!”

“That’s my footprint right there. And there too. And there.”

“Shut up!” Jean rounded on him, shining his flashlight right in his face so that Eren recoiled, clenching his eyes shut. “We’re not lost! I know exactly where we’re going!”

“Yeah, in a circle.”

“I will kill you and leave your body here for the wolves,” Jean threatened, scowling at him before turning around and beginning to walk once more.

Eren sighed and followed along behind him, rubbing the back of his head and almost tripping on a tree root.

He hadn’t even wanted to go exploring with Jean, he’d wanted to stay behind and hang out with Armin for a bit, catch up, talk a little and remind his friend that they were friends. But no. Jean had heard a spooky legend about an abandoned house in the middle of the forest inhabited by a ghost and just had to check it out.

Mikasa refused to waste her time on something so idiotic, and Armin had practically shaken himself right off the log he was sitting on he was so scared. Eventually, Jean had grabbed Eren in a head-lock and dragged him into the woods.

Now, it was four hours later. They hadn’t found the house, darkness had fallen, they hadn’t eaten since lunch and they were fucking lost. This was not the bonding time sans-electronics Eren had had in mind when he’d agreed to continue on with their tradition. He’d been banking on being able to make it home to his electronics, not die out in the middle of the forest from frostbite and bear traps.

He rubbed his hands together quickly, trying to get them to warm up a little more. It helped for a few seconds before they just froze again and he shoved them under his shirt, hissing when his cool fingers brushed against his bare stomach.

The bandages had come off a few days ago, his father saying his injury was healed up enough that he didn’t need to worry about it anymore. It made sense since the stitches were long gone, and the wound itself was almost entirely closed-up, but he could appreciate his father’s worries.

He couldn’t help running his fingers along the still bumpy area of his incision, hoping it would scar cleanly and not look all red and enflamed like some scars did. Jean had one of those on his knee, and it made his friend self-conscious sometimes so Eren really didn’t want one along his stomach. He’d never be able to go swimming without a shirt ever again.

“Hey Eren?”

“What?” he grumbled, trying to keep pace with Jean since they only had one flashlight.

“I think we’re lost.”

“You think?” he asked dryly, moving up beside his friend when the other stopped.

Jean was looking at him, frowning slightly. “Are you cold?”

“Yeah. It’s cold out here,” Eren said, his teeth chattering. It hadn’t been too bad when they’d left, but now that night had fallen and they were stuck in the denseness of the trees, the temperature had plummeted and he really wished he had a sweater.

“Sorry.” Jean hesitated and then shrugged out of the light jacket he’d brought with him, holding it out to Eren. “Here. You take it for a while, we can alternate with it.”

“I’m fine.”

“Stop being a stubborn dick and just take the jacket, Eren.”

Annoyed at the tone, he did as he was told, taking it and yanking it on, shoving his hands into the pockets once he’d zipped it up. It was still warm from Jean’s body heat and he sighed in relief at the small reprieve from the cold. He knew he couldn’t keep it long though, Jean would quickly get cold, as well.

“I think we came from that direction before,” Eren said, nodding towards an area of the woods.

“Yeah, you might be right. I think I hear water. If we find the river, we can follow it back to the campsite.”

“It’ll be easier to see the fires from the edge of the water, too.”

They began trudging in that direction, Eren still tripping over things he couldn’t see, but managing not to impale himself on anything. It took them another good half hour before they hit the water, but both were relieved to have found it since they could see fires blazing along the path. Determining which direction they needed to go in, they began to walk, their footing difficult on the uneven pebbles that comprised the water’s edge.

Most of the walk was done in silence save for the occasional wave and greeting to other campers when they passed their campsites. Eren was mostly trying to watch where he was going, eyes on the stones beneath his feet. After a few minutes, he let out a shout when he walked into Jean and fell flat on his ass.

“Hey! Warn me before stopping, asshole!”

Jean didn’t move, his entire frame frozen and his hand clenched around the flashlight he held. Eren frowned, wondering if there was a bear or something in front of him, but all he saw was another campfire a little way further ahead. It didn’t look like their camp, so they probably still had some walking to do.

“Hey Eren?”

“Yeah, what?” he asked, getting to his feet and wincing when stones bit into his hands. He brushed off the back of his pants, annoyed they’d gotten a little damp, and moved up beside Jean.

“I know we fight all the time, and we’re not going to the same school and all but, we’re still friends, right?”

Eren stared at him, cocking an eyebrow. “What’s with the sap, Jean? You’re not dying or anything, are you?”

“I’m serious!” he snapped, turning to glare at Eren. “Truth is, there wasn’t a house out here for us to go find, I made that up. I just wanted some time to talk to you.”

“Okay… Well, we didn’t do much talking.” Eren rubbed the back of his head, eying his friend. He was a little concerned now. “What’s up?”

Jean still seemed tense, and it worried him a little. He really hoped his friend wasn’t about to confess his undying love for him or something, or things were about to get really awkward. He’d still care for Jean as a friend, but he was a little involved with Hannah right now so it’d be difficult for him to switch gears and like Jean.

Not to mention, last he checked, he still wasn’t gay. Then again, he hadn’t really acknowledged being straight, either, until he’d fallen for Hannah. Still, as far as he knew, he didn’t like guys.

“About Hannah…”

Eren tensed instantly. Shit, he really didn’t want to talk about Hannah right now. It sucked not having her with him, and he missed talking to her, so the last thing he wanted was another interrogation.

“Jean, can we just—”

“She’s not your girlfriend, is she?”

That caught Eren by surprise and he just stared at Jean incredulously before letting out a small, almost nervous laugh. “What? Of course she is, she’s—”

“I know, okay?” Jean insisted, turning to level him with a hard stare. His eyebrows turned downward then and he looked away from Eren once more, eyes on the rocks beneath their feet. “It was an accident. I needed to look up movie times the other day while Mikasa was changing so I just went to use your computer. All I did was turn the monitor on, I wasn’t going to go snooping, but it was open on some weird profile page for some site about fake relationships.”

Eren felt like someone had just punched him in the chest. Shit… Shit! How could he have been so stupid?! And he’d been so fucking close! Barely even one more week! Dammit!

“Hannah isn’t real, is she?” He looked back at Eren. “She’s some fake person from that site, isn’t she?”

When Jean looked at him again, Eren had no idea what to say. It wasn’t even that Jean had found out that was leaving him speechless, it was the look of absolute betrayal on his face. Like Eren had committed the worst of crimes by lying to him about having a girlfriend. Like Eren had treated all of this as some huge joke he could play at everyone else’s expense.

“It’s… complicated,” Eren muttered, rubbing the back of his head.

“I think I can keep up,” Jean said. He let out a sigh and turned, falling onto his butt and angling the flashlight out over the water. When he made no move to continue walking whatsoever, Eren conceded defeat and sat down beside him, picking up a random stone and running his fingers across the smooth surface.

“I found the site by accident,” he muttered. “I just… hated that you guys always made fun of me for being single, so I signed up for it just to see what it’d be like. I wasn’t going to keep it going for long, just for the summer, and then I was going to end the contract and say we broke up.”

“Did it bother you that much?” Jean asked. “That we made fun of you? You know we were just worried about you, right? We didn’t really mean any harm by it.”

“I know, but it still bugged me.” Eren threw the stone he held into the water, the flashlight allowing him to see it break the surface but not hear it over the river’s regular flow. “I just wanted to spend one summer where you guys would leave me alone and I could just have a normal time with everyone.”

“So what changed?” Jean asked, still not looking at Eren. “When you went into that weird depression, that wasn’t an act. So what happened?”

Well, he was caught red-handed anyway. He may as well admit it to someone. “Hannah… Well, her name is PR. Or, her initials are, anyway. When it started out, we were just messing around, you know? Being friendly, having fun. She introduced me to Levi and Hanji, they both work with her, but apparently Levi’s actually been her best friend since forever and Hanji is Levi’s roommate. The three of us got, I don’t know, close. We became real friends.” Eren picked up another stone, rubbing his fingers along it before throwing it into the water again. “When my appendix burst, Levi was freaking out that I wouldn’t get to my phone so he admitted that Hannah had feelings for me. Not just for the service, but actual feelings for me.” He winced. “She’s, uh, thirty-eight.”

“Yikes,” was all Jean said to that. Eren figured he was trying to make sure he didn’t stop him from talking.

“Anyway, when I came back from the hospital, our relationship kind of… shifted. We’re not exactly dating or anything, but we’re something more than friends. I don’t know, we haven’t really talked about it. I think we were both waiting for me to go back to school so I could do it without having to worry about you or Mikasa stealing my phone.”

He saw Jean scowl at this in the dim light, but when he said nothing, Eren continued.

“Her boss got a little worried, I guess. Didn’t like how close we were getting, or how much time Levi and Hanji spent talking to me when they weren’t supposed to. He forcibly broke the contracts with Levi and Hanji, and reassigned me to another person. I could tell it wasn’t PR because of how they responded, so I was pretty pissed off. I mean, here was someone who actually liked me for me, and I couldn’t speak to them anymore. So I kind of lost it a little, I guess.”

“But she’s back,” Jean said after a short silence.

“Yeah. Apparently the three of them fought with their boss and managed to convince him to reinstate them. So they’re back now.”

“And Hannah, PR—you’re gonna keep talking to her once you’re back at school?”

“Yeah, I think so.” He threw another rock into the water, watching it sail through the air before disappearing beneath the surface. “I don’t really have any plans yet. I just know I care about her a lot, and I really like Levi and Hanji. Not really sure how to move forward, considering how we all met, but I like having them around.”

“Right.”

Somehow, Eren felt like his words had upset Jean and he wished he knew how to make it sound less like an insult. He wasn’t insinuating that he liked them better than Jean, Armin and his sister. He just liked them. They were fun.

“You have to consider how true the friendship really is if you have to keep paying for it, though,” Jean said quietly, almost as if he hoped the sound of rushing water would drown out his words.

“I’ve thought of it, I’m not an idiot,” Eren insisted, voice coming out more harshly than he’d intended.

“I’m just saying. You’re my friend Eren, I don’t want you to get hurt by this.” Jean grunted while getting to his feet, bending down to pick up the flashlight. He had some kind of weird plant stuck to the seat of his pants so Eren reached up to brush it away.

“Thanks,” Jean muttered. “Come on, we should get back.”

Eren got to his feet as well, brushing off his own pants, and as they began walking again, Jean spoke once more.

“For the record, Hannah’s not the only one who likes you for you. Mikasa, Armin and I have been your friends as long as any of us can remember. We like you for you, too, you know.”

“It’s different with her.”

“I know that, but you need to remember that we’re here too. And I don’t think Mikasa and Armin would appreciate being lied to, either.” He turned to look at him. “I’m sorry you felt the need to do this because of our teasing, but considering this whole camping thing is supposed to be about bonding and friendship and all that other sunshine bullshit Armin talks about, I really think you should tell them. You don’t have to admit it to your parents, but you should at least tell them.” He turned away from Eren again. “I’m not gonna lie, I’m actually kinda pissed you didn’t tell me the truth. I had to find out on my own, and I don’t want that to happen to Mikasa or Armin.”

“Yeah, okay,” he muttered. “I just… feel awkward. I can’t get a girlfriend on my own, I have to trick someone into liking me through a site.”

“Don’t worry, Kamikaze-Head.” Jean slowed down slightly so they were walking beside one another and wrapped his arm around Eren’s shoulders with a grin. “I’m not gonna be cool with this until money isn’t being exchanged anymore, but if she really does like you, then at least you know you’re not completely hopeless.”

It sucked that he could tell Jean was trying to get back to normal when he was clearly unhappy at being lied to. It made Eren feel guilty, and he figured Jean was right and he should tell Mikasa and Armin.

He just hated having to admit he was such a loser that he hadn’t been able to get a girlfriend in the conventional sense. He had to make someone fall for him through a phone.

And he didn’t even know for sure how real those feelings were.



He hadn’t texted him yet.

Why hadn’t he texted him yet?

Eren had specifically said he would be back on Thursday, and it was now past one in the morning on Friday. And he still didn’t have a text from him.

Even if he’d gotten delayed coming back, he was sure Eren would’ve at least let him know he’d made it home safely, so why hadn’t he received a text from him yet? Had they gotten delayed to the point where they weren’t back yet? Maybe they’d stopped somewhere for the night because they couldn’t make the whole trip back?

Or worse: what if they’d gotten into an accident? What if they were all in the hospital dying and Levi was just sitting there staring at his phone, cursing Eren for not having texted him?!

What is wrong with me? Levi threw his phone onto the coffee table, giving himself a mental shake. He was starting to get weird, thinking of Eren. He was acting completely unlike himself.

So what if Eren wasn’t texting? Maybe his phone hadn’t been charging while he was away and he’d passed out before it had gotten enough juice for him to send a message. He was sure everything was fine, it wasn’t like he had anything to worry about.

Except he had been away with the horse…

Levi still didn’t understand why he felt so threatened by Jean, but for some reason, he did. It was probably because of how close he and Eren were, it made him jealous and worried. He didn’t want Eren to suddenly realize he liked men unless it was Levi he suddenly liked. If he fell for the horse, Jean was going to find himself being a very successful lab rat to test out all those body disposals techniques he and Eren always talked about. He wasn’t going to lose to a damn animal.

“Levi, you realize you don’t live alone in this house, right?” Hanji’s tired voice asked from down the corridor.

“He hasn’t texted,” he insisted, scowling at the television. It was on a random episode of The Big Bang Theory. He hadn’t really been watching it, but it gave him something to do whenever he focussed back on the TV. “Why hasn’t he texted yet?”

“What are you talking about?” Hanji shuffled out of their room and down the corridor. “What is the matter with you? He probably just fell asleep. Are you seriously staying awake and sulking right now because he hasn’t texted you? How old are you?”

Was he being childish? Of course he was! But he was worried! What if something had happened? What if they were having a wild orgy out in the forest? What if the zombie apocalypse had happened and hadn’t reached them yet and Eren was out there dying and being eaten alive by—

“Okay, yeah, I need sleep.” He threw his feet over the side of the couch and turned off the television, realizing he was beginning to hallucinate if he was worried about Eren being turned into zombie food.

Snatching up his phone, he moved past Hanji and headed for his bedroom, hearing his roommate shuffling along behind him. Disappearing into his room, he muttered a good night to the other and then shut the door.

Dropping his phone onto the night stand, he stripped down to his boxers, turned off his light and fell face first onto his bed, shifting slightly so the fan hit him properly since he was still dying of heat stroke. Why did it bother him so much, anyway? Was this what it was like to have feelings for someone? All he did was think about him and imagine weird scenarios about why he wasn’t texting him. Was that normal?

Probably, but not for him. For him, it was weird, and scary. He didn’t like feeling like this, it made him feel like he was going to do something wrong. Slip up, make a mistake. What had been a small little fear before was now a giant terror bearing over him every waking moment of his day.

Eren would find out and destroy him. He felt like he could handle it before, but now, every hour that passed since he’d gone away with his friends had Levi feeling like he would be able to handle it less and less. What would he do if Eren freaked out? Could he even do anything? How was he supposed to ensure he did everything correctly so that he wasn’t going to suffer at the hands of a twenty-one year old?

“I can’t believe I’m worried about a child,” he muttered into his pillow. Of all the idiotic things he’d done in his life, falling for a client who was eighteen years younger than him had to be at the top of the list.

His head snapped up when his phone went off and he had to consciously calm himself down before picking it up, not wanting to seem like he’d been desperately waiting for a text message from Eren for the past few hours.

And he knew it was from Eren, because he’d customized his ring tone to ensure he would always know when it was or wasn’t the brat. Yes, it had gotten to that point.

[Eren]
Sorry, just got home.
[Eren]
We left late.
[Eren]
I’m going to bed, it’s been a long day.
[Eren]
Good night.

Levi stared at the texts, able to tell something was wrong. It was obviously Eren on the other end, of that he was certain, but the way he was speaking… something had happened.

[User]
Eren
[User]
Something is wrong
[User]
What happened?

[Eren]
We can talk tomorrow.
[Eren]
I need to sleep.

Was it meant to hurt a little being dismissed like this? Because as much as he didn’t want it to hurt… it kinda hurt.

[User]
Okay
[User]
Glad you made it home safe
[User]
Talk to you tomorrow
[User]
Good night

He waited for a response, but he didn’t get one. Maybe Eren was getting ready for bed? Brushing his teeth and whatnot? He would surely text him back before going to bed, right?

Twenty-two minutes later, and Levi knew he wasn’t getting a text.

He also knew this was the beginning of the downward spiral. He didn’t know what had happened, but it was clear something had, and he needed to admit everything to Eren before he regretted it.

He needed to lay it all out before it was too late.

TBC…

Chapter Text

Eren didn’t want to wake up. It was too early to wake up after the restless night he’d had, and on top of that, waking up meant having to figure out what to say to Hannah. He hadn’t decided what he was going to say yet, which was why he’d taken so long to text her when he’d gotten home.

Dick move, and he knew it, but he just… didn’t know what to do. Hell, if Mikasa hadn’t snapped at him about being an ass, he wouldn’t have texted Hannah at all. In retrospect, that would’ve been a huge dick move on his part, considering she’d probably have been extremely worried about him, but he just… didn’t know.

After his conversation with Jean, they’d gone back to the camp and had eaten dinner. Once that had been over, Eren had admitted the truth to Mikasa and Armin. Neither of them looked surprised, though he could tell they were also slightly disappointed at being lied to. They’d both had the same message as Jean regarding the relationship being a little one-sided given he was paying for it.

But it wasn’t like that! At least, he didn’t think it was. He and Hannah never really talked about the service in general, but he knew their relationship was something outside of it. Everyone had made that pretty clear.

Then again, he couldn’t help but wonder… he was sure everyone on the other end knew how close he’d come to cancelling his contract. Wouldn’t that have contributed to them giving him back Hannah? After all, he was a paying customer, and they didn’t want to lose him. What if this was all the same with every person that Hannah met? This was her game with people? Made them think it was real to get more money.

Groaning and reaching for his other pillow, Eren pulled it over his head and buried his face in the pillow beneath him, trying to suffocate himself. He was too awake now to stop the thoughts from coming, and now he’d never get back to sleep. He just wanted to suffocate himself back into unconsciousness.

It didn’t work. Sighing, he tossed his pillow off his head and rolled onto his back, staring up at his ceiling. He hated that his thoughts had moved to such dark territory, especially since most of what they’d discussed were things he had already been thinking. Having others voice the same things made him feel uneasy and nervous.

Glancing over at his phone, he hesitated before grabbing it, swiping the bottom and checking his text messages. He had a few from Jean, mostly from the night before after he’d been dropped off, and one from that morning asking if his lazy ass was still sleeping. He chose to reply to him first, informing him that he’d just woken up and was damn happy about his lazy self.

Then he moved to the other text he had waiting for him.

Hannah.

[The Bae <3]
Morning Lover
[The Bae <3]
I hope you had fun while camping
[The Bae <3]
Though you were acting pretty assholeish last night
[The Bae <3]
Let me know when you’re up okay?
[The Bae <3] 
I wanna talk to you.

It sucked, because Eren wanted to talk to her, too. But he didn’t know what to say, or how to bring everything up. He was kinda new at this whole relationship thing, and even then, was he in a relationship? He didn’t even know.

Crawling out of bed, he set his phone back down and headed for his door. Maybe he would just take his time waking up, think about a few things, get himself organized. He’d feel better once he had food in his stomach, he was sure.

So that was what he did. He brushed his teeth and combed his hair, used the facilities, had some breakfast, spent time with his family. He felt good, happy even. He got himself into a good place mentally and then headed back for his room.

He still had no idea what to say. He didn’t want to say the wrong thing, so he thought maybe he should wait a bit, figure things out.

“Halo,” he decided, moving to his XBox. “Halo first.”

Booting up his machine, he decided he wanted to play some campaign for a while, needing to keep his mind distracted. It didn’t work for very long though, because he hadn’t noticed who was online and he’d barely even gotten through the opening cut scene when a party invite blinked at the corner of his screen.

It was Levi.

“Shit.” Eren hit his forehead lightly with his fist, clenching his eyes shut. “Shit, shit, shit.”

Taking a deep breath, he knew he couldn’t avoid everyone so he accepted the invite while pulling on his headset.

“Morning jackass. What’re you doing on here? Hannah’s been worried about you all morning.”

“Yeah, I know,” he muttered, the game having started on the screen. He stayed where he was, not really in the mood to play anymore. He shouldn’t have accepted Levi’s invite.

“What happened? You sound like someone pissed in your Cheerios.”

Eren hated it when Levi and Hannah said the same things. It just reminded him of how close they must be. They probably were dating in real life, and Eren was just the side-bitch.

“Eren? What’s wrong?” Levi actually sounded worried, and it occurred to Eren that the last time he’d been acting this way, his appendix had burst. The other was probably having flashbacks.

“Jean found out,” he said quietly, playing with the edge of his controller. He dug his nail into one of the grooves, scowling down at the item in his hands. “He convinced me to tell Mikasa and Armin.”

Levi was silent.

“We spent the entire time in the woods talking about the fact that my ‘girlfriend’ isn’t even really my girlfriend. So when I got home… I don’t know. I don’t know where we stand anymore, and I’m still paying for you and Hanji and-and Hannah and I just… don’t know anymore.”

He felt like a child whining about his friends being more popular than him. He knew it was selfish of him to expect different treatment because the other three supposedly really liked him, but it also sucked that he was paying for a service to ensure they kept talking to him.

What if this was all it ever was? What if he had to keep paying indefinitely? Armin had said something during their trip that Eren knew he hadn’t wanted to admit aloud, but in a way it had been a good thing to hear.

“Wouldn’t it be easier to stop now, before you get in too deep?”

And wasn’t that true? In the end, wouldn’t letting go now be better in the long run? Was he ever even going to meet Hannah, PR, whatever? He was just falling for someone he was never going to have, and he knew he was never going to have her, so why was it so hard to let her go?

“Listen Eren,” Levi said, his voice sounding more quiet than usual. “It’s… complicated, and I get that. It’s complicated for all parties involved. But for now… Look, Erwin’s watching right now, okay? That makes it hard for… anyone to do whatever they want. We’re all trying to work through this in the best way we can for now. And later, well, we’ll see how that goes.”

“And if later this all goes sideways?” Eren asked. “She’s not gonna want me for long, you know.”

“You don’t know anything about what she wants, Eren!”Levi sounded a little pissed now. “You can’t sit there assuming you understand anything about how she feels!”

“You’re right, because I don’t know anything about her!” he insisted back angrily. “Levi, I don’t know anything about any of you!”

“Then just fucking ask, dickhead! What do you wanna know? My star sign? My bowel movement schedule? My one true love? You have a mouth, don’t you? Ask the question instead of just sitting there ignoring people!”

“It’s not that simple!”

“Of course it is! You’re just scared, right? Well you think this is any easier for the rest of us?! You think I’m not terrified about where things are headed?!”

“What have you got to be terrified about?!” Eren shouted.

That question was met with silence, as if Levi had said more than he’d meant to. It really made Eren wonder about his suspicions.

“Levi,” he said quietly. “You’re in love with PR, aren’t you?”

“You don’t know anything about me, Jaeger,” Levi snapped. “Don’t ignore your girlfriend, it’ll make her sad.”

Then he logged out.



Levi rubbed at his face, his heart hammering in his chest. He yanked his headset off angrily and hurled it across the room, pissed at himself. That would’ve been the perfect time for him to admit it. To tell Eren that he was Hannah. To explain that he did understand how terrifying this all was. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t do it. Eren was looking to jump ship, and if Levi admitted the truth now, he knew he’d lose him.

But how was he supposed to fix something like this? He knew where Eren was coming from, because he was paying for this service, but Levi didn’t have a way around that right now. Until he could admit the truth, and then move forward from there, he couldn’t get out of the service. The second Eren wanted to have skype calls, or even phonecalls, he was going to very quickly realize the voice on the other end didn’t belong to a girl.

Until everything was all laid out, he had no way of fixing this.

“Fucking horse,” Levi grunted angrily, scowling at the television. How did Jean manage to ruin everything just by existing? How had he even found out anyway? He and Eren had been so careful so, what, had he been spying somehow? Maybe he hacked his email and saw the conversations they’d been having off the site’s profiles?

Levi chucked the controller angrily across the room, hearing it smash into the wall and likely break into multiple pieces. Hanji seemed to realize something was wrong because they stayed in their room. Levi felt that to be very wise of them.

Should’ve just told him, he thought angrily. What was the point in ending their relationship like this? On a lie? If Eren was going to ditch him, the least Levi could do was let him know who he’d really fallen in love with.

Grabbing his phone, he decided he was going to do it. He would tell Eren the truth, get it all out now before it was too late. Before Eren just left.

Swiping his thumb across the bottom, the first thing he did was double-check that he still had two numbers listed for Eren. After the scare from Erwin removing him, Levi had copied his number into another contact called Shitty-Brat to ensure no matter what, he’d always have a way to keep in touch with him.

After confirming both numbers still exited—the service one Erwin controlled and his personal contact linked to the phone itself—he opened Eren’s messages and had just hit the speech bar when a new message appeared.

[Eren] 
Morning

Shit. Levi’s resolve was crumbling. How could he admit anything with Eren actually talking again?

[Eren] 
I’m sure you’ve heard from Levi by now.

Would it be better to say he had, or he hadn’t? He felt it would be suspicious if he hadn’t, so he decided to go with the truth.

Well, mostly.

[User]
He’s been around, yeah
[User]
What happened?

[Eren] 
Jean found out.

[User]
Levi said
[User]
How?

[Eren] 
And told me to admit the truth to Mikasa and Armin
[Eren] 
I was stupid
[Eren] 
Left my profile open on my comp with the monitor off, and Jean came in to check movie times when I wasn’t here.
[Eren] 
It wasn’t his fault. It was mine.

“Fucking horse,” Levi said again, hating Jean in that moment. He would’ve had more time with Eren if the damn little shit hadn’t poked his abnormally large nose into this. “If I meet that fucker, I’m using his intestines for laces.”

“Dark!” Hanji said from down the corridor. “I love it!”

“Go back to your cave!” Levi shouted angrily, not even aware that they’d been close enough to hear him. Evidently they felt safe again now that he wasn’t throwing things.

[User]
Does this mean you’re not going to talk to me anymore?

[Eren] 
I just…
[Eren] 
I don’t even know what we are
[Eren] 
Are we anything?

Levi hesitated at those words. Were they anything? Of course they were! But how did he admit that without admitting who he was?

[User]
Look Eren
[User]
I’ve never done this either
[User]
I’ve been in tons of fake relationships in this service
[User]
But one of the main reasons Erwin wanted me out of this one with you is because he was worried
[User]
I’m crass, and sarcastic, and grumpy, and completely asexual.
[User]
But then you and I got closer and something about you…
[User]
It WORKS with me
[User]
I feel more…
[User]
I can’t explain it
[User]
I feel like a real person when I talk to you
[User]
And I know I hold back sometimes
[User]
But you have to understand I’m just as terrified as you are about all this.
[User]
I’m thirty-eight, you’re twenty-one
[User]
You’re not going to just sit there and stay with me because I ask you to
[User]
So you have to understand that, while you’re confused and upset about the payment aspect of this
[User]
I’m confused and upset over why a twenty-one year old gives a shit about a crass asshole like me

[Eren] 
Because you’re YOU
[Eren] 
And YOU like ME for ME
[Eren] 
I don’t care how old you are
[Eren] 
I just don’t want to get in too deep and regret it

[User]
I don’t want that either
[User]
But it’s a risk
[User]
And it’s terrifying but I’m taking that risk
[User]
Are you?

“I need to tell him. I need to tell him. I need to tell him.” He was digging himself a deeper hole. It was so deep he was going to hit the earth’s core soon. “I can’t do this, I need to tell him.”

[Eren] 
I know you can’t promise me anything
[Eren] 
Like never disappointing me or hurting me
[Eren] 
But you need to promise me one thing

[User]
Anything.

“Shouldn’t have said that.”

He knew he shouldn’t have, but he couldn’t stop himself. For Eren, he would literally kill someone if he had to.

Jean was currently at the top of his list.

[Eren] 
Promise me that this won’t be how things stay
[Eren] 
We can do this for now
[Eren] 
But I want to meet you in person before next year.
[Eren] 
Promise me that.

Fuck, he really wasn’t making this easy for Levi. How was he supposed to be honest when Eren was so God damn innocent and perfect?

[User]
I promise.



“Mom, calm down.” Eren winced, feeling like he was being choked to death by an anaconda. “It’s not like this is the first time I go off to university.”

“You’re right, it’s just the third,” she insisted, still hugging him for dear life. “And it never gets easier.”

“Just two more years, and I’ll be back for good, I promise.” Eren really hoped he was allowed to breathe soon.

“Honey, he has to go.”

There was a God, because he was finally released and he gasped, inhaling sweet, sweet oxygen. His father just clapped him on the shoulder and wished him well, and Mikasa gave him a hug just as fierce as his mother’s but not as long. He appreciated that.

“You have everything?” his mother asked.

“Mom. It’s fine.” He kissed her cheek. “I’ll text you when I land.”

“Okay,” she said worriedly. “Tell your girlfriend we say hi!”

Eren’s eyes shifted to Mikasa at these words, but she just smiled at him and said nothing. He hoped she wouldn’t admit the truth to his parents, or else they might cut off his funds.

She still wasn’t happy about any of it, but she at least had the decency not to say anything about it. Unlike Jean, who’d deleted Levi off his friends list and was pretending none of them existed until Eren wasn’t paying for their company anymore.

Levi didn’t seem to mind. Actually, Eren felt like he was surprisingly thrilled about it, which was weird because he always used to talk about how much he liked to bug him.

“Okay, I’m going now.” Eren found himself crushed against his mother again. “Mom. Mom, seriously, I’m-I’m going now. Mom.”

“Be safe! Safe trip! Text me!”

“I will if I ever leave,” Eren insisted.

When she finally released him, Eren made a break for it, heading quickly towards security and the safety of the other side of the restricted area. He waved before heading through the door leading towards the conveyer belts and then turned to face forward once more. 

He had to take his jacket and shoes off once he was at the conveyer belt, putting them onto it along with his bag, and then emptying his pocket. He and then stepped forward for the full body scan, always finding that to be one of the more uncomfortable things he had to do, especially now that he had a giant scar on his stomach. Once he was waved through, he collected his belongings and put his shoes back on, then went to hunt down some food. He had about an hour before his flight, so he figured he could stop somewhere and grab a bite, especially since plane food was disgusting.

Finding a McDonalds, he ordered a burger and some fries, along with a coke and a weird new dessert they were advertising, then went to sit down at a table with his tray.

Picking up the burger, he shoved it into his mouth and took a selfie, laughing at himself when he saw how ridiculous he looked and sending it to Jean.

[JaegerMeister]
Omnomnom

[HorseFace]
Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE
[HorseFace]
Ugh
[HorseFace]
I fucking want McDonalds

Eren took another picture of himself eating fries and sent that along, as well, loving how easy it was to torture Jean.

They were both at the airport, but in different terminals. Jean’s didn’t have a McDonalds, he’d had to settle for something else.

[HorseFace]
I will eat your face when I see you next

[JaegerMeister]
Oh I’m sooooooooooooo scared

He took another bite of his food when he got another text from his friend. He frowned when it was the same picture he’d just sent him with a caption underneath.

[HorseFace]
Lookit this ugly fatass stuffing his fatass face!
[HorseFace]
That wasn’t for you.

[JaegerMeister]
Obviously
[JaegerMeister]
Who’re you texting?

[HorseFace]
My other boyfriend

[JaegerMeister]
Ah
[JaegerMeister]
He probably felt neglected all summer

[HorseFace]
Just because you were too busy texting your not-girlfriend, don’t act like you know I was ignoring him.
[HorseFace]
Love of my life~

[JaegerMeister]
You are so gay

[HorseFace]
Not gay. 

[JaegerMeister]
Tell your other boyfriend I say hi

[HorseFace]
You’re seeing him in a few hours, tell him yourself, dickwad!

[JaegerMeister]
Only if I make it there O_O
[JaegerMeister]
Or he does
[JaegerMeister]
Or any of us do, really. We could all die.
[JaegerMeister]
lol
[JaegerMeister]
For real though
[JaegerMeister]
Have a safe flight, okay?
[JaegerMeister]
I’d be sad if your plane crashed

[HorseFace]
DUDE!
[HorseFace]
WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT?!
[HorseFace]
If I die, it’s on you!

[JaegerMeister]
You’re not gonna DIE, Jean
[JaegerMeister]
Come on, calm down
[JaegerMeister]
If you hate flying so much, you should’ve picked a closer school

[HorseFace]
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
[HorseFace]
BOARDING!
[HorseFace]
IF I DIE EREN
[HorseFace]
TELL MIKASA SHE WAS MY GREATEST CONQUEST!

[JaegerMeister]
Fuck you Jean
[JaegerMeister]
I’ll text you when I land

He set his phone down and began eating, watching people walk by and chewing his burger slowly. It had been a weird last few days, but all he cared about was ensuring his relationship with Jean, Mikasa and Armin was intact. It seemed to be, so he tried his best not to dwell on everything that had happened. He just wanted things to remain as they were, and not lose those closest to him because of a stupid website.

Though he’d have to break the news to his mother about breaking up with his girlfriend. After all, if he and PR became something, she’d want to know what had happened to Hannah. He had time though, not yet.

His phone went off again and when he checked it, he smiled at the name he found.

[PR]
Did I miss you?

[JaegerMeister]
Nope, still here
[JaegerMeister]
Eating food

[PR]
Hot
[PR]
What’re you eating?

[JaegerMeister]
McDonalds

[PR]
Gross. No wonder you’re fat

[JaegerMeister]
|<
[JaegerMeister]
Mean

[PR]
I never said I had a problem with you being fat, Lover
[PR]
I like a little pudge on my men

[JaegerMeister]
You’re mean :(
[JaegerMeister]
You have my other number, right?

[PR]
Yup. Twice, just in case.
[PR]
Don’t worry
[PR]
You’re not getting rid of me
[PR]
People will have to pry you out of my cold, dead hands

[JaegerMeister]
Accurate, since you’re so old
[JaegerMeister]
You’re gonna die years before I do

[PR]
Wow
[PR]
That’s rude
[PR]
I’m so proud of you <3

Eren laughed at that, earning him a few looks, but he ignored them. It was so nice being able to just talk to PR and admit that it was her. No more “Hannah” bullshit, no more secrets, no more being careful. He liked this, how they were now. It was liberating.

Though PR insisted on calling him “Lover,” even though he’d told her she didn’t have to. She said she liked the nickname, but had admitted it had annoyed her at first. He didn’t mind either way, as long as she was happy.

[PR]
I can’t wait to see your room
[PR]
That sounded lame
[PR]
You know what I mean.

[JaegerMeister]
Haha, I do
[JaegerMeister]
I’m excited too
[JaegerMeister]
It’s in a different dorm this year, so it’ll be bigger

He hesitated, wanting to say something else but thinking better of it. He wanted her to visit him. He wanted to meet her in person, talk to her in person, be with her in person. He didn’t want to forever be doing this through a phone.

But she’d promised it would happen before next year, so he just had to be patient. He could be patient.

Maybe.

[PR]
Levi told me about Jean deleting him
[PR]
I’m sorry he’s mad about this

[JaegerMeister]
That’s okay
[JaegerMeister]
He’s more mad about the situation than at any particular person
[JaegerMeister]
He said he’d add Levi back when I’m not paying for this anymore

[PR]
Hopefully we can get that all sorted out.
[PR]
Still, I’m sorry this entire thing caused problems between you and him.

[JaegerMeister]
Eh, we’re fine
[JaegerMeister]
He gets it
[JaegerMeister]
Besides, you know what they say
[JaegerMeister]
When life gives you lemons…

[PR]
Curse your broken juicer?

Eren stared down at the text in confusion. Juicers? What the hell was PR talking about?

[JaegerMeister]
What?
[JaegerMeister]
Oh
[JaegerMeister]
No…
[JaegerMeister]
If your juicer’s broken, then just make the lemonade by hand.

[PR]
What if my hands are broken?

Eren snorted, almost choking on his burger.

[JaegerMeister]
Then get your awesome boyfriend to make it for you!

[PR]
What if my awesome boyfriend lives too far?

[JaegerMeister]
He will find a way!
[JaegerMeister]
LOVE WILL CONQUER!

[PR]
Babe chill
[PR]
We’re talking about lemonade.

Eren smiled, feeling really excited about how things were going. While he hadn’t exactly asked her out, he still referred to himself as her boyfriend and she never corrected him. It made him feel like she was okay with that title for him, and he loved that.

[JaegerMeister]
I’m bored
[JaegerMeister]
Entertain me while I eat my meal

[PR]
How?

[JaegerMeister]
I don’t know
[JaegerMeister]
Tell me a story or something

[PR]
What are you, five? 

[JaegerMeister]
Twenty-one, but you’re so old, I can see how you’d be confused

[PR]
If I didn’t love Levi so much
[PR]
I would tell him to stay away from you
[PR]
His sass is rubbing off

[JaegerMeister]
He tries :)
[JaegerMeister]
Story time!

[PR]
All right
[PR]
Fine
[PR]
Okay, there’s this one time Hanji and I were in a restaurant

[JaegerMeister]
You hang out with Hanji?

[PR]
And there were these big buff guys and this other suit type with them.
[PR]
Well yeah, occasionally
[PR]
“Girl” time, you know.
[PR]
Anyway, we were eating dinner and these big buff guys are like, all intimidating and looking around
[PR]
And Hanji and I notice the suit has a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist

[JaegerMeister]
Shut up!

[PR]
No word of a lie
[PR]
Anyway, as the evening progresses, I make small talk with the guy
[PR]
Talking about our work and whatever, just shooting the shit, joking and stuff
[PR]
And then it’s time for him to go, and the waiter comes by with his bill
[PR]
And to this day, I still applaud myself for what I said next

[JaegerMeister]
Well?
[JaegerMeister]
Don’t leave me hanging!
[JaegerMeister]
What did you say?

[PR]
Well
[PR]
Guy gets the bill and looks over at me
[PR]
And we lock eyes
[PR]
And I go
[PR]
“So, I guess you’ll be paying in cash?”

“No way!” Eren exclaimed loudly, his mouth full of fries. He typed up his reply with greasy fingers, not even caring about dirtying his screen.

[JaegerMeister]
You didn’t!
[JaegerMeister]
YOU DID NOT!

[PR]
I sure did
[PR]
Hanji wanted to leave, they thought we were going to get shot
[PR]
But the suit just laughs and smiles and he and the goons leave

[JaegerMeister]
Oh my God, you so didn’t say that
[JaegerMeister]
You’d be dead if you’d said that

[PR]
I assure you, I did

Eren couldn’t help but laugh at that, trying to picture PR sitting at a table with an unknown person—since he didn’t know what Hanji looked like—joking with some guy about his briefcase. Did people actually still do that? He wanted to call bullshit, but PR was older than him, so maybe this had happened years ago? He didn’t know.

He also hadn’t realized she and Hanji hung out, though supposed it made sense. She was friends with Levi, and Hanji was his roommate. Why wouldn’t she hang out with Hanji on occasion? Still, he found he was starting to understand her when she told him she couldn’t date Levi, because they really were the same person.

Wiping his screen off with a napkin and shoving it into his pocket, Eren licked his fingers and then cleared everything up, dumping his trash into the bin and heading for his gate. He stopped in the bathroom to relieve himself and wash his hands before pulling his phone out again, continuing to walk.

[PR]
Done eating?

[JaegerMeister]
Yup, heading to my gate now

[PR]
You excited to be heading back to school?

[JaegerMeister]
Yes and no
[JaegerMeister]
I don’t mind my classes
[JaegerMeister]
But waking up early is killer
[JaegerMeister]
I am bad at waking up early
[JaegerMeister]
Like, I’m actually not ever fully awake until noon
[JaegerMeister]
So when I have morning classes, it’s kinda like “how did I get here?”

[PR]
LOL
[PR]
Seriously?

[JaegerMeister]
No, it’s not funny, it’s really bad
[JaegerMeister]
Like, sometimes my alarm will go off and I won’t even remember turning it off
[JaegerMeister]
And by the time I’m fully awake, I’ll be sitting in one of my lectures

[PR]
Hopefully clothed

[JaegerMeister]
Yeah, I’m worried I’m not gonna be one day
[JaegerMeister]
I need to learn to wake up more…

[PR]
Well, we both know I’m an insomniac, so I’ll always be awake if you need a friend

Eren sat down in one of the empty seats, staring at her text, and hesitated before asking his next question. He knew it was ballsy, especially since Levi had told him that their boss read all texts that went in and out, but he felt compelled to ask.

[JaegerMeister]
Hey PR?

[PR]
What?

[JaegerMeister]
Would you ever consider sexting?
[JaegerMeister]
I mean
[JaegerMeister]
I know the service says no
[JaegerMeister]
But like, it’s different?
[JaegerMeister]
With you and me?
[JaegerMeister]
So would that ever be okay?
[JaegerMeister]
Or is that weird?
[JaegerMeister]
That’s weird.
[JaegerMeister]
I can’t even sext
[JaegerMeister]
Idk why I asked that
[JaegerMeister]
Never mind

[PR]
Are you embarrassed, little boy?

Eren scowled at those words, trying to retreat his face into his hoodie. Mostly because it was true, since he could feel the heat of his embarrassment burning through his face. Why had he asked that? That was so embarrassing!

[PR]
Maybe one day
[PR]
Not yet

[JaegerMeister]
Why not?

[PR]
Because.
[PR]
It’s a secret.

[JaegerMeister]
I’m not a big fan of secrets…

[PR]
I’ll tell you soon, Lover

Eren looked up when he heard boarding for his flight being announced, knowing he would be heading onto the plane soon.

[JaegerMeister]
Boarding call
[JaegerMeister]
I should change my SIM now so I don’t forget
[JaegerMeister]
I’ll text you when I land <3

[PR]
You WILL this time, right?
[PR]
Not like when you got home from camping

[JaegerMeister]
I promise

[JaegerMeister]
I will text you when I land

[PR]
Good
[PR]
Have a safe flight

[JaegerMeister]
Thanks <3
[JaegerMeister]
TTYL :)

He started to close the message to turn off his phone so he could switch out the cards when another message popped up.

[PR]
WAIT!
[PR]
EREN
[PR]
EREN
[PR]
EREN

[JaegerMeister]
What?
[JaegerMeister]
WHAAAAAT?

[PR]
I need to tell you something

[JaegerMeister]
Okay
[JaegerMeister]
What’s up?

[PR]
It’s hard
[PR]
For me
[PR]
And honestly I’m kinda scared

Eren frowned. This was not a good time for her to be talking like this, he was going to have to board, and while he knew he could be the last one on, if this was something bad, he wanted to be there for her. Shit, why now?!

[JaegerMeister]
Is everything okay?

[PR]
Shut up
[PR]
This is hard
[PR]
Just don’t say anything.

He almost typed “okay,” but realized that would go against her request so he said nothing and just waited, watching his screen.

One minute passed. Then two. Business Class was being called, but Eren didn’t move. The back of the plane was called, and still nothing. Shit, he had to go, what the hell was so scary?

[PR]
OKAY
[PR]
THIS IS SAPPY
[PR]
AND HARD
[PR]
HAVE A SAFE FLIGHT LOVER
[PR]
I LOVE YOU
[PR]
NOW TURN OFF YOUR PHONE AND GO AWAY

Eren stared. That was all he could do, stare. Had she really just admitted that? He knew it felt stupid to be happy at seeing that, but he did. His heart felt like it was beating a mile a minute, and he was so thrilled he could practically vibrate off the seat.

The airline calling for the front of the plane snapped him out of his happy thoughts and his head shot up. He’d have to change the card on the plane, because he wasn’t going to have time anymore.

[JaegerMeister]
Thanks PR <3
[JaegerMeister]
I love you too!

Then he turned off his phone, an impossibly huge grin on his face. 

TBC…

Chapter Text

“Why the long face, little kitten? Somebody not clean something today and feeling down?”

Levi lacked the energy to hit Hanji so he just lay on the couch with one arm thrown over his eyes, phone held loosely in his hand. It kept buzzing and chiming on occasion, but he ignored them because they weren’t the customized one he was waiting for.

Well, he wasn’t ignoring them, per se, but he was taking his time replying to them. He was sulking, as he had been for days, though he’d never admit it.

“Do you need a dirty item and some Lysol?” Hanji asked, petting his head.

“Eren’s in class,” Levi muttered.

“So?”

“I can’t text him when he’s in class, it distracts him.”

“Aw, is little Levi feeling sad because his one true love is busy?”

Levi lifted his arm off his eyes to glare at his roommate, Hanji wandering towards the kitchen. He was pissed off at the gossipy assholes who thought it’d be funny to talk about Levi’s texts to Eren.

Of course, Erwin had seen his confession and had told Petra, because he was concerned about it. Petra had gushed and told—pretty much everyone, including Hanji. Half of the people who knew him were shocked but thrilled, and the other half were shocked and entertained. Hanji fell into the latter category, though they weren’t very surprised. Mostly just entertained, trying to rub it in every chance they got. It was annoying.

“How long have these been in here?” Hanji asked.

Levi glanced over to see what they were talking about and found them holding a plate of sparkle-covered cupcakes that Petra had made for Sasha’s birthday, their face slightly scrunched up. It had been some kind of chocolate cupcake with white frosting, and while they’d tasted amazing, Petra had given them two dozen and that was way too much sugar for Levi.

Probably not for Hanji, but he didn’t need them bouncing off the walls, so he was glad they’d forgotten about them.

“They’re pretty old by now. You should eat them, maybe you’ll die.”

“Rude,” Hanji insisted, looking ready to pick one up and throw it at him. “Don’t be mean because you’re sulking.”

“I’m always mean, and I’m not sulking.”

“I feel bad,” Hanji said, returning to the point. “I wanna eat them, but I’d probably get sick. I don’t wanna throw them out, Petra will be sad. But they’re probably not good anymore.”

“Just throw them out, put them in the green bin,” Levi insisted, sighing and checking his phone to respond to the other less interesting clients. “It’ll go into someone’s fertilizer. It’ll resurrect as a sparkly plant.”

“Oh, sparkly plants are pretty.” He heard the green bin’s lid open and then shut, suggesting Hanji had opted not to die today. Shame, Levi was looking forward to testing some body disposal techniques with them so he’d be all set for Jean.

Eren still talked about the horse way too much, and Levi was still pissed that he’d almost ruined everything.

Of course, he also risked doing that by procrastinating for much longer, but he was still terrified.

It had been almost a month since Eren had been back at school, and it was becoming harder and harder to admit the truth. He knew he had to, but he was scared. He hated admitting it, even to himself, but he was terrified that Eren was going to destroy him. If Eren rejected him as Levi, he didn’t know that he could handle it.

And it didn’t help that he kept slipping up. Eren kept commenting on things he was saying that he hadn’t meant to say. Like the dinner with Hanji, and even having a roommate. And once he’d even accidentally called Eren “Jaeger” as PR, which the other had not liked. It had brought up the whole “Why aren’t you dating Levi?” conversation, which Levi hated because he knew if he told him the truth that would never come up again.

The only thing keeping him sane, surprisingly, was Hanji. They were very Team Levi, and every now and then Petra would send him print-screens of Hanji and Eren’s conversations wherein his roommate spoke very highly of him. He didn’t feel like he deserved it, but he appreciated it.

In fact, one of his favourite print-screens, and possibly top five moments of his life, was a conversation between Hanji and Eren where the student flat-out admitted that if PR asked to have a threesome with Levi, he was not as against it as he had been in the past.

Eren had actually admitted that he would fuck Levi! If there was a God, Levi felt very blessed on that day. Clearly lady luck was on his side, so all he had to do was just tell him!

“Next week,” he said to himself, texting another client back. “He has an exam on Friday, I’ll tell him next week.”

He knew Eren was in an oral exam right now for one of his language classes, too. Another reason he couldn’t text, though Eren usually asked him not to during the day. It was hard, but Levi had his schedule memorized now so he knew exactly when the end of classes were coming, and when he was on lunch, and when he went to shower, when he hung out with friends, when he played Halo with Levi—for obvious reasons—when he skyped with his parents…

“Actually, I feel like a stalker now,” he muttered to himself with a frown, realizing just how much he remembered about the other.

Then again, in his defense, Eren knew all Levi did all day was lie on his couch and text or call people, so really, memorizing a schedule wasn’t that hard.

“I’m ordering Indian, want anything?” Hanji asked.

“It’s two in the afternoon.”

“I don’t control my belly, my belly controls me!”

“Get me some samosas,” Levi said, mostly to get Hanji to shut up.

He was finishing up a rather lovey-dovey texts to one of his newbies when his phone trilled differently than the other alerts. It was hard not to smile, but he managed it, opening his messages with Eren.

[Eren]
Oral exam done.

[User]
How was it?

[Eren]
Hard.
[Eren]
Nerve wracking.
[Eren]
I lived.

[User]
I suspected you didn’t perish, otherwise sweet! Poltergeist boyfriend! 

[Eren]
I wanna be a vengeful spirit O_O

[User]
:(
[User]
But my day was bad enough not being able to talk to you until now
[User]
Don’t venge on me :( 

[Eren]
Did you kill me?

[User]
Let me check my schedule
[User]
No, you were not on today’s schedule. 

“Just the horse,” Levi muttered, though Jean was on his schedule every day lately. Fucking horse.

He knew it was unfair to be so mad at him, but he’d almost lost him Eren, so he wasn’t feeling very forgiving. Maybe one day in the future he’d get over it and feel less threatened.

[User]
We should play Halo
[User]
Even if it’s just for a little while to confirm you’re not a ghost and I’m not a murderer. 

[Eren]
Sure :)
[Eren]
Though it’s Tuesday
[Eren]
Tuesday is usually Levi Halo day

“Shit.” Levi pressed the phone against his forehead. “Dammit.” He was lucky Eren was so dense, any more slip ups and he may as well just admit everything right now.

[User]
Right
[User]
That’s okay then
[User]
I don’t wanna impose on your teenage testosterone levels

[Eren]
That… what?
[Eren]
That makes no sense

[User]
Shut up, I was deprived of you all day
[User]
I don’t like it

“And I like how needy I feel even less,” he muttered. He was really concerned about how badly he always needed to talk to Eren. Was that what it was always like when you liked someone? He felt obsessive, like all he did was think about what Eren was doing, and who he was talking to, and whether or not there were other people to add to his kill list for stealing his attention.

It was quite scary, actually. He felt like he needed to chill a little bit, but it was hard. He’d never cared about anyone the way he did about Eren. He didn’t think he could survive losing him, and that really worried him.

[Eren]
Oh my goooooood
[Eren]
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees

[User]
?? 

[Eren]
I looooooove
[Eren]
My siiiiisteeeeeer
[Eren]
She sent me a study basket!

[User]
What the fuck is a study basket?

[Eren]
It’s this thing my school has
[Eren]
You can order one and it comes with like
[Eren]
Chocolates and homemade cookies
[Eren]
And coupons and ramen and shit
[Eren]
And a stuffed animal

Levi cocked an eyebrow when he got a picture of said “study basket.” There was a huge brown bear with a heart held between its paws. The heart had the words “I bear-ieve in you!” stitched on it in white lettering.

“That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen,” he muttered to himself, pissed off he hadn’t known about these baskets so he could’ve gotten the brat one.

[User]
Your sister’s really nice
[User]
And cares about you a lot
[User]
It’s sweet. 

It was sweet, he just hated it because she was smarter than him. Then again, he hadn’t known those baskets existed, which made sense since he… still didn’t know where Eren went to school.

He was about to ask when Eren’s next few texts made him pause.

[Eren]
Yeah, Mikasa’s great
[Eren]
I’m really lucky to have her in my life
[Eren]
Which makes me sound like a dick, considering HER life……

[User]
I think she’d forgive you, you didn’t mean it that way

[Eren]
Yeah
[Eren]
Um…
[Eren]
While we’re on the topic of family…

Levi frowned, knowing where this was going. He felt his defenses beginning to rise and had to force himself to keep them down. He’d told Eren they’d talk about it in more detail, after all. The opportunity hadn’t presented itself until now, and Eren obviously cared enough about him to want to know.

Still, it wasn’t a topic he liked to think about.

[Eren]
Um…
[Eren]
I was wondering
[Eren]
If we could, you know…
[Eren]
Talk
[Eren]
About yours.

Words could not begin to express how much he did not want to talk about his family, but Levi just forced himself to unclench his jaw and let out a small breath.

[User]
I guess

[Eren]
We don’t have to

[User]
It’s fine

[Eren]
I don’t want you to feel pressured :(

[User]
I said it’s fine!
[User]
Sorry
[User]
It’s fine
[User]
I said it would be better when we could do it like this
[User]
So we should

[Eren]
Right
[Eren]
So your step-dad…
[Eren]
That was your boss, right?
[Eren]
But he’s a good guy, right?
[Eren]
Barring the obvious

Levi loved that Eren had a little hate-on for Erwin just like Levi had one for Jean. It was adorable.

[User]
Yeah
[User]
My dad left I don’t know when. Before I was capable of conscious thought, I guess.
[User]
My mom died when I was seven
[User]
My uncle on my dad’s side took me in
[User]
He was a dick, but as long as I stayed out of his way, we got along fine.

[Eren]
I can’t imagine anyone being a dick to you

[User]
Really?
[User]
I’m an asshole with a smart mouth
[User]
You don’t see that being a problem?

[Eren]
Well, I know you can be prickly sometimes, but you’re a good person
[Eren]
And I think you’re amazing

[User]
Thanks. 

“Stop it,” he snapped to himself, feeling warmth spreading through his chest at Eren’s words. It was just words, why did they make him feel so disgustingly happy?!

[User]
Anyway, I met my boss when I was in first year university
[User]
I had to get a job in high school to pay for it, but I figured it out
[User]
Erwin’s from a rich family, pompous ass and all, but he and I hit it off really well
[User]
He actually paid for my last year of university when I ran out of funds and couldn’t get a loan
[User]
We’ve been friends since first year

Levi hesitated before typing his next message, but figured all the cards were being laid out on the table now anyway, so there was no harm. Besides, this was something he knew Erwin would keep to himself. Smile privately about it like the pompous rich boy he was.

[User]
I’d never admit it to him, but I respect him a lot.
[User]
He’s my best friend.

[Eren]
What about Levi?

“Dammit,” Levi hissed. This was getting harder and harder by the day, he had to stop slipping up.

[User]
He’s different
[User]
We’re the same person

Funnily enough, Levi said that quite often, but Eren never seemed to pick up on the truth behind that statement.

[Eren]
Ah
[Eren]
So he’s like, a brother? Kinda?

[User]
Sure
[User]
Something like that. 

“Careful Levi,” Hanji said from right behind him, making him jump and look up at his roommate. “You wait much longer and it’ll come back to bite you.”

“I’m a grown ass man, Hanji, I fucking know what I’m doing,” he snapped.

“I mean it, Ackerman,” his roommate snapped. “I care about him, too! Don’t fuck this up for everyone.”

Didn’t Hanji understand? He fucking knew he had to tell him.

He just… hadn’t figured out how to do that yet.



“So, I gotta know,” Eren said, twisting his body to the left on his bed as if that would help his character dodge faster. “It’s been bugging me for months.”

“What has?” Levi asked, flying past Eren and taking someone out. They were doing really well today, for some reason.

“Why a dollhouse? I mean, I get that Hanji’s weird and all, but why did you buy them a dollhouse?”

“Payback. They bought me the worst present two years ago, I haven’t gotten over it.”

“Which was?” Eren asked, wincing when he got taken out and waiting to re-spawn.

“Edible underwear.”

And Eren lost it. His sides hurt from how hard he laughed, and he was positive he’d gotten taken out more than once standing stationary on the screen.

“What? No way! No fucking way!”

“Yes way.” Levi did not sound as entertained by this as Eren was.

“Oh my God! Oh my God, Levi! What did you even do with it?” he demanded, trying to get his character to move but struggling because he was laughing so hard. Levi had once told him he was asexual—same as PR, actually, now that he thought about it—so he highly doubted the gift had been used for its intended purpose.

And he was right.

“Well, it made for an interesting Halloween for someone’s kid.”

And Eren lost it again. His neighbour banged on the wall, clearly pissed at his hyena impersonation, but he couldn’t help it. He knew he was going to hear about it at lunch tomorrow, considering his neighbour—and close friend—had an eight am class.

“Oh my God! You didn’t! You didn’t!” he insisted, tears in his eyes from laughing so hard.

“What? It was too sweet for me.” He could hear the smirk in Levi’s voice.

And the thing that made it funnier was that Eren was positive Levi had done it, too.

“Levi! Oh my God! What the fuck! Oh my God, you’re the best!”

He heard Levi chuckling on the other end, but felt it was probably because he was laughing so hard. He had never met anyone as fucking hilarious as Levi. Well, except maybe PR, but still. Levi was probably funnier. He just… he had no filter, and he did crazy shit like buy dollhouses for his roommate and gave a poor, innocent child a sex toy for Halloween.

“Seriously though, I’m sure the parents went through their candy and took it. Probably made their night more enjoyable.”

“Imagine they were having marriage problems, and you just saved their marriage with your edible underwear?”

“Guess they’d have Hanji to thank, then, since they’re the one who gave it to me.”

Eren laughed, killing someone else on the screen a second before the round ended. He grinned, pleased with their progress for the night.

“It’s getting late for you. You have class tomorrow, right?” 

“Yeah, but I’m good for a few more rounds,” Eren said, grabbing his phone and checking it. Still nothing from PR. She’s told him she was going to be around off and on all night, but he figured she was busier than she’d expected. Apparently she was going through the new client profiles with their boss to help divvy them up accordingly.

“Don’t blame me if your grades suffer,” was Levi’s response, but Eren could tell he was happy he was sticking around for longer.

“My grades are perfect, I’ll have you know,” Eren insisted with a grin, putting them into Matchmaker again.

“Perfectly terrible.”

“Hey!”

“Just telling you the truth, don’t sound so offended.”

Eren snorted, rolling his eyes and shifting on his bed when his left leg started to fall asleep. Their new round opened up, and the team they had was shit. They’d been having a really good night so far, and of course at the very end of it, everything had to go down the shitter. His night was about to be ruined, he could feel it.

“These guys suck,” Levi muttered. “Get the fuck out of my way if you’re not gonna shoot!”

“This one asshole is camping and keeps getting headshot,” Eren groused. “Get around the back of this building, we can climb up the ramp and shoot from inside. I’ll cover you.”

He led the way towards their destination, but Levi kept stopping to take someone out, which kept getting Eren killed, which made him consistently re-spawn.

“Christ, Levi! Come on, let’s get this fucking bullshit moving!”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever you say, Lover.”

Eren’s fingers froze on his controller, his brain taking a few moments to process what he’s just heard. He couldn’t have heard what he thought he had, that was impossible.

Why would Levi have called him that? No, he’d misheard. He had to have misheard.

“What did you just say?” he asked, eyebrows turning down into a frown.

“Hey asshole,” Levi snapped angrily through the headset, “you’re meant to be watching my back! I just got killed!”

Eren set his controller down on the bed beside him, his heart slamming against his ribs and his palms beginning to sweat. What was happening? What the fuck was happening?

“What did you say just now?” he asked again, trying to stay calm.

“I said pay attention!” Levi snapped. His voice sounded off, like it was strained.

“Before that!” Eren shouted. “What did you say before that?!”

“What the fuck, Jaeger, what are you getting so worked up about? It’s not the first time I call you a loser.” 

“Loser?” he repeated, the word seeming to reverberate in his brain. That wasn’t what he’d heard.

That wasn’t what Levi had said.

“Yeah, I said ‘whatever you say, loser.’ Why?”

Eren felt like Levi was speaking to him from underwater.

That wasn’t what he’d said, he knew that wasn’t what he’d said.

“I gotta go.”

“Wait, we’re in the middle of a—”  

Ignoring him, Eren had jumped off his bed and hit the power button on his XBox, staring down at his own hand while it pressed against his console.

His heart was pounding so hard in his chest it was actually painful, but he couldn’t get it to calm down.

Levi had just called him Lover. Why had he done that? There was no reason for that word to have come out of his mouth. PR was the only one who called him that, and even if everyone knew about it, there was no way Levi would’ve said it unless it was out of habit.

Eren felt his breath freeze in his lungs.

What if it was out of habit?

PR had a roommate he didn’t remember her having when this had started. Her best friend was their boss, Erwin. She often said the same things as Levi.

She also often said she couldn’t date Levi because they were “the same person.”

“Holy shit.” Eren felt like he was going to be sick. He could feel anger rising in his chest, and it was making him feel physically ill. “Holy fucking shit.”

He turned slowly to stare at his phone, sitting peacefully on his bed.

The phone that hadn’t gone off once the entire time he and Levi had been playing. The phone that never went off while they were playing unless they were back in Matchmaker.

“Holy shit, Levi is PR.”



Levi’s Halo character continued to get killed over and over again on the screen, re-spawning elsewhere before someone took him out again. He didn’t care, because he wasn’t paying attention.

The second Eren had logged off, he’d put his controller down, folded his hands together, and had pressed them against his mouth. As if doing so would take the words back. As if doing so would erase what had just happened.

He’d fucked up. In a big way. Even though he’d recovered admirably, in his opinion, a part of Eren knew the word “lover” had just come out of Levi’s mouth.

And with all his recent slip-ups, he knew it wouldn’t take him very long to figure it out. He knew Eren was slowly piecing it together, and that very soon, he was going to figure out that PR and Levi were the same person.

His bedroom door was pushed open from its ajar position but he didn’t say anything. He just kept watching his character get killed over and over again on the screen in front of him, sitting on the edge of his bed with his folded hands pressed to his mouth.

Hanji said nothing for a few moments, standing in the doorway and watching him. Then, they spoke.

“You called him Lov—”

“I know,” he interrupted, eyes still on the screen. “I am well aware.”

His roommate was silent for a few seconds.

“Nice recovery, though.”

Levi said nothing. His recovery meant nothing if Eren didn’t believe it. And he knew he didn’t. He knew Eren had figured it out.

“You need to fix it.”

He knew Hanji was right. He had to fix it, he had to do something. Call Eren before the other called him. But how? How did he fix this? What should he do? Should he tell Erwin? Maybe if he told Erwin, Eren could get reassigned right away and someone else would answer when he called.

Because he would call. It was only a matter of time.

“Levi!” Hanji snapped, forcing him out of his thoughts. “You need to fix it!”

Looking up at his roommate, he saw the same desperate look in their eyes that he felt was going through him. Hanji cared about Eren, and they cared about him. They didn’t want this to end badly, they wanted him to fix what he’d just done.

But how? How?!

They stared intently at one another for a few long seconds, all the way up until Levi’s phone trilled. It was a different sound than the other usual ones, leaving no doubts as to who it was.

Clenching his jaw, Levi snatched it up immediately, turning away from Hanji and swiping his thumb across the bottom of the screen. He let his eyes scan the message slowly a few times, feeling his heart slowly beginning to pick up its pace. His fight or flight instincts were kicking in, and he didn’t know what to do.

[Eren]
We need to talk.

We need to talk. The four most dreaded words on the planet. He’d seen them before with other clients, but that had been fake. That had been when people had fake-broken up with him, or when they confessed their fake-undying love for him. That wasn’t real.

But this?

This… This was real.

He quickly typed up a reply, needing to fix it. He could still fix it!

[User]
Sorry, I told you earlier I’m with Erwin
[User]
Can we chat tomorrow? 

[Eren]
bullshit youre not with erwin and we BOTH know it!

He wasn’t using punctuation. He wasn’t capitalizing. He was angry.

He knew.

Fuck it all, he knew!

[Eren]
send me a snapchat
[Eren]
not a picture a SNAPCHAT

[User]
What? Why? 

[Eren]
a snapchat
[Eren]
send me one
[Eren]
right now

Levi felt his palms beginning to sweat the more Eren texted him. Honestly, he didn’t even have Snapchat. He’d never understood its appeal, and didn’t feel the need to send random pictures of himself to people.

That, and if he did, Hanji would’ve sent him a picture an hour knowing them.

But even if he had had the app, he couldn’t do what Eren was asking. He couldn’t send him a picture of Petra with Snapchat.

[Eren]
send it!
[Eren]
right now!
[Eren]
no ‘one sec’
[Eren]
no ‘in a minute’
[Eren]
right
[Eren]
fucking
[Eren]
now    

He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what to say to him. So he fell back on his default.

[User]
That isn’t part of our agreement, we don’t offer Snapchat as one of our services.
[User]
I don’t appreciate your tone, Eren.

[Eren]
SEND ME A FUCKING SNAPCHAT RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

Levi stared down at the last message, having absolutely no fucking idea how to respond. He couldn’t send Eren a Snapchat of Petra from this number because she wasn’t fucking there to send it. He wouldn’t be able to make it to her house fast enough to satisfy Eren. Maybe he could move the contract, have it reassigned to her right now, and then she could send it, but he didn’t even know if Erwin was still awake.

And he’d never seen Eren lose his temper before. He often spoke about it, but he’d never actually lost it with him in all the time they’d known each other. He’d gotten angry before, but this? Nothing like this.

He didn’t know what to do. He knew what he wanted to do, but not what he should do.

And then, things got worse. Just like he knew they would.

His phone started ringing. Eren’s name was blinking back at him on the caller display.

He stared down at his phone, watching it ring, feeling panic beginning to rise within him. Hanji was standing in the doorway, watching him watch his phone, neither of them speaking.

Two rings.

Three.

Four.

One more, and it would go to voicemail. His voicemail. With his voice. There wouldn’t be a name, of course, because this was a client phone and his voicemail was to be used when clients called him and he legitimately couldn’t answer, but it was still his voice. A voice Eren knew very well.

It was over. It was fucking over.

His phone was suddenly snatched from his hand and Hanji answered it before it could cut to voicemail. Instead of putting it to their ear, they held it in their hand, bringing the microphone end closer to their mouth. Levi realized it was on speaker.

“Your package doesn’t include phone calls,” Hanji said, voice slightly higher than usual but still completely natural sounding. Levi would almost be willing to bet Hanji was a girl right now. “If you hang up now, I won’t have your account billed.”

There was silence on the other end for a few long seconds. Levi was actually really hoping Eren would fall for this trick and hang up, then apologize profusely.

No dice.

“I have never heard Hanji speak.” Levi had never heard Eren’s voice sound so dark. He sounded almost evil, he was so angry. “I don’t even know their gender. Hanji, I know this is you. Give the phone to Levi. Now.”

The two of them shared a look before Hanji spoke.

“This is a breach of our Terms and Conditions. Please hang up the phone, or we will bill you for this call.”

“If you’re really PR, then I want you to send me a picture right now, while we’re on the phone.” Eren’s voice sounded off, like he was mocking them. Like he knew he was being played and was having none of it. “If it’s true, and I’m wrong, I will happily pay any associated fees and apologize. If you can’t send me the picture, I’m not hanging up.”

Hanji looked over at Levi again, the usually boisterous individual seeming at a loss for words. They looked so lost, like they would be willing to do anything to fix this, but they didn’t know how.

Levi didn’t know how, either. It was over. They couldn’t keep this up.

When Hanji opened their mouth to say something else, Levi bit the bullet. There was no point anymore. He’d screwed up. Eren knew. He couldn’t dig himself out of this deep, deep hole.

“Eren.”

Silence.

Hanji covered their mouth with one hand, let out a slow breath through their nose, and then handed the phone back to Levi. They left the room, but hadn’t quite managed to get the door shut before Eren’s angry voice rang down the line.

“I knew it. I fucking knew it! It was you all along, wasn’t it? There was never any PR, was there, it was all you!”

“Yes.” No point in lying. Levi took the call off speaker, not wanting Hanji to hear it. It was bad enough they’d hear Levi’s side, he didn’t want them hearing Eren’s, too.

"So, what, this was all just a fucking game to you?! I’m not dumb, you know! I read the FAQs, and the Terms and Conditions!” Eren’s voice was steadily rising, his anger increasing. “I know these relationships aren’t fucking real, and that we’re not meant to get attached, but you started it!” Levi winced at the volume, but kept the phone to his ear. “You’re the fucking one who said Hannah liked me! You’re the one you said she loved me! So what, making me have feelings for someone I thought was being honest was a joke to you?! You have a good fucking laugh?!” 

“I didn’t lie about Hann—”

“Bullshit!” Eren interrupted, his voice cracking from the volume. “You said she liked me!”

“You’re right,” Levi snapped, feeling the panic spreading through his chest, hand tightening around the phone. “I did say Hannah liked you. I did, because it’s true. Hannah does like you. It just so happens that I’m Hannah!”

Levi hadn’t realized he was shaking until he exhaled and heard his own breathing tremble. Shit. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t how it was meant to happen. Shit… Shit!

There was a long silence after his words. Almost impossibly long. Then,

“Delete my number. Don’t ever text me again.” 

“Ere—”

He heard a click and when he pulled the phone away from his ear, he saw the call had ended.

Levi stared down at his phone, having no idea what to do. He felt weird. Empty, almost. What was he supposed to do right now?

His phone would ring again, he knew it would. He just had to wait. Everything would be okay, Eren just needed to calm down.

When Levi logged onto his account an hour later while typing out an email to Erwin, he looked through his client profiles and noticed one was missing.

Checking the cancellation tab with a sense of dread, he could feel his chest tightening when his eyes caught sight of the single name staring back at him.

Eren had deleted his profile.

TBC…

Chapter Text

Why was there nothing good on TV? Why did everything have to have some allusion to a relationship? Could TV not exist anymore without relationships? That was stupid.

Fuck, even South Park and The Simpsons he’d been watching didn’t avoid the topic, every single one he’d watched so far had some kind of relationship and that was bullshit. Why did life seem to revolve around relationships? Not everyone was in one. Not everyone wanted to be in one.

There was nothing wrong with being alone. In fact, life was perfectly fine and awesome alone. No one to disappoint, no one to disappoint him. Just him and his TV, and his console, and pretty much anything else that was an inanimate object and couldn’t completely decimate his very existence.

His phone went off, but he ignored it, like he always did. He wasn’t in the mood, and what was the worst that could happen from ignoring it? Oh no, a reprimand? How awful. He didn’t know how his poor little heart would be able to handle such a thing.

Oh wait, he didn’t have a heart, did he? So he supposed the reprimand would do absolutely dick fucking all, wouldn’t it?

Levi’s eyes shifted to the left when he heard a door down the corridor open, Hanji obviously deciding to show their ugly mug, finally. They’d been avoiding him all day since the events of the night before, as if worried he was going to murder them or something. He didn’t know why they were so scared of him, it wasn’t like he’d done anything to them yet.

Besides, he was fine. He was just watching TV, trying to find something that didn’t revolve around relationships like anyone who wasn’t in one was a weirdo. Levi would like to point out that he was perfectly normal and didn’t need to be in a relationship to feel validated.

When the stupid Rick and Morty episode he was in the middle of watching turned relationship-y, he changed the channel, moving onto a cooking show. No relationships in cooking shows. Well, except when they were competitions, because then it was all, “I’m doing this for my wife!” and all that other stupid bullshit.

“We never got married properly, so I want the money to give my wife the huge wedding she always dreamed of,” Levi said in a falsetto while switching to another cooking show. “Please, the bitch stays with you for the free food.”

He could hear Hanji moving around quietly in the kitchen, as if Levi were a monster attracted to sound who would find them if they made too much noise. It was starting to piss him off. They didn’t have to fucking tip-toe, this was nothing. So Eren hadn’t called him back after telling him to delete his number—which he hadn’t; the second contact he had for him anyway, since the first deleted automatically when his contract did. So Eren had deleted his profile without even trying to fix anything. So what? Big deal. Eren was just some snot-nosed little punk across the country who couldn’t get a girlfriend if one fell into his lap.

Levi’s hand tightened unconsciously around the remote control and it took a conscious effort for him to loosen his grip. He was fine. This was nothing. No big deal.

He couldn’t help jumping when the doorbell suddenly rang, snapping him out of his thoughts. He didn’t know who it was, but Hanji bolted from the kitchen like their ass was on fire and whoever was at the door was carrying a bucket.

Hopefully full of gasoline.

He heard the door open and Hanji’s relieved voice.

“Good morning. Thank you for coming so quickly.”

“Where is he?”

Great. Fucking Mr. Bigshot had decided to grace them with his presence. Just fucking perfect.

“In the living room upstairs.”

“Thanks for calling, Hanji. Petra’s waiting for you in the car.”

“Thanks Erwin.”

He heard the front door shut and couldn’t help but feel annoyance spreading through him. So Hanji was leaving to spend the day with Petra, and he was going to be stuck with Mr. I-Told-You-So? Yay, just what he wanted the day after having his heart ripped from his chest cavity. It was a good thing it had been so tiny and full of hate, otherwise Eren’s desertion would’ve really hurt.

Shifting his gaze to the left once more when he heard slow footsteps climbing the stairs from the entranceway, he waited until the tall blond God that was his best friend appeared at the top of the stairs. They stared at one another for a second before Levi turned back to the television, not wanting to miss the instructions on the screen. They were making turducken, and he fucking loved turducken.

Erwin moved closer, and Levi could feel all of his muscles tensing the closer the other got. When he finally stopped beside him, Levi couldn’t take the silence anymore.

“Come over to tell me you told me so?” he asked, scowling at the television and waiting for Erwin to speak.

He didn’t. They were both silent for a long while before his friend moved around him and fell down onto the other end of the couch with a grunt, seeming to have aged ten years since Levi had last seen him. He needed to stop having so much sex, it was unhealthy for an old fart like him, he was going to give himself a heart attack.

“What’re we watching?” Erwin asked, looking over at the television. “Turducken, huh? Petra makes a great turducken, I recommend leaving the complicated dishes to her. The last time I saw you try and cook something, Hanji had to wait months for their eyebrows to grow back.”

Erwin chuckled, as if the memory were amusing and then settled more comfortably on the couch, throwing one arm across the back of it and resting one ankle over the opposite knee, eyes on the screen.

The silence was unsettling, and he really wished Erwin would just say his piece and leave.

“Well?” he snapped after almost ten minutes of silence.

“Well what?” Erwin asked, still watching the television as if it were the most interesting thing he’d seen in years.

“Aren’t you gonna say it?”

Erwin did turn then, blue eyes seeming to bore into his very soul. Levi waited, feeling tense, but all his friend did was turn back to the television. “You’re beating yourself up enough, I don’t feel the need to rub it in.”

While he appreciated it, he was also pissed about it. He didn’t want people to tip-toe around him, he was fine! Having Erwin act like this implied everyone thought he was going to break because of this. Like a stupid twenty-one year old brat could upset him enough. This was nothing, he was already over it. Why did people even think he cared? He didn’t, that would be stupid.

“It goes away, right?” he asked, his voice quiet, almost like he was hoping the words would be drowned out by the TV.

They weren’t. Erwin turned. “What does?”

Levi scowled, avoiding his friend’s gaze. “The pain.”

Erwin smiled kindly, and nodded once. “It does. In time.”

“How much time?”

“It depends.”

That wasn’t what Levi wanted to hear, he wanted an exact number of seconds so he could anticipate when this stupid ache in his chest would disappear.

“On what?” he asked, wanting specifics.

“How much you liked him.”

Well, Levi thought dryly. I’m screwed then, aren’t I? 

The one person in his life he had ever cared for to this degree, and Erwin was telling him the pain went away depending on how much he liked him?

Looked like this pain was never going to go away.



“What the fuck happened?! I don’t get it, what is going on?!” Jean demanded angrily, pacing back and forth in his dorm, feeling like he was wearing a line through the flooring. “He won’t answer my calls, and he won’t text me back! What the fuck happened?! Is he okay?!”

Silence met his questions. Only silence. It was all he seemed to be getting lately from everyone he tried to speak to.

“Mikasa, what is going on?! It’s been a week! Just—Just tell me he’s okay! I just need to know, I’m going fucking crazy!”

Why wouldn’t anyone tell him what was going on? Well, to be fair, it was just Mikasa who wouldn’t tell him. Armin didn’t know, and Eren’s parents kept telling him he’d broken up with his girlfriend.

But they’d all known that was coming, because of PR or whatever her name was. Eren had to have a new girlfriend. So what the fuck?!

“Mikasa!” Jean shouted. “I swear to God, I will fucking fly to Canada!”

An empty threat, and they both knew it. If he could afford to fly anywhere, it would be to Eren. Because the dickwad wasn’t talking to him. He was ignoring him and he needed to know why. He was worried, dammit! Did no one understand that?!

“He asked me not to say,” she finally said, speaking quietly. “I’m sorry, Jean.”

“Mikasa.” Jean finally forced himself to sit on the edge of his bed, free hand clenching into a fist. “That kid is like my brother. I love him, I would die for him. Something is very wrong, and I can’t sit here waiting for him to reply to me. You gotta give me something.”

Silence.

“Mikasa, just—”

“I’ll call you back.”

“Wha—” She hung up on him.

He pulled his phone away from his ear, staring at it incredulously. Then he stood up and did an angry little dance, resisting the urge to chuck his phone at the wall. Why wouldn’t anyone tell him what was going on?! He was fucking worried! He wanted his friend to show signs of life!

His phone began to ring and he glanced at it before his heart leapt into his throat.

“Eren! Eren, buddy! Are you okay?”

Silence.

“Eren, you gotta talk to me, come on.”

“Sorry Jean,” a quiet voice said. One that didn’t belong to Eren. “It’s still me.”

“Mikasa?” He frowned. “Wait, are you—are you with Eren?!”

“Yes.”

If his sister was with him, it was bad. Shit!

“Where are you? Your school or his? I’ll come right now.”

“Jean, I appreciate your friendship, and that you want to help, but he just wants to be left alone.”

“What. Happened?! That’s-that’s all I want! I just need to know. I need to know so I know whether or not he’s okay. Please, just-just tell me!”

Another long silence, and then he heard movement. After a few seconds, a door shut and he heard wind howling, suggesting Mikasa had gone outside. He felt like Mikasa had gone to Eren, he doubted his friend would get on a plane right now.

“It’s about PR,” she said quietly.

“What happened?” Jean winced. “Shit, did the bitch dump him? I knew it, you know, I fucking knew it was going to end badly, and—”

“Jean.”

He clicked his teeth together, forcing himself to stop talking so she could finish.

“She didn’t dump him. I don’t… really understand the whole story, but he said that Hannah—that PR was Levi.”

Jean frowned at those words, waiting for them to process in his brain. PR was Levi? What did that—oh. Oh! Oh!

“What the fuck!” Jean shouted, one hand coming up to clutch at his hair. “What the fuck?! Are you-are you saying that it was a joke?! That Levi was pretending to be a girl all along to fuck with Eren?!”

“It would seem so,” Mikasa said, her voice positively arctic. “As you can imagine, he didn’t take it very well.”

“What the fuck is wrong with that guy?!” Jean exploded. “How could he do that?!”

“Look Jean, I understand that you care right now, but Eren just wants to be left alone. I’m having a hard time convincing him to go to class, so please just drop it. He’ll bounce back, he always does.”

Jean knew that was true, but it didn’t make it any easier to swallow. So Levi was just playing with him? Didn’t he understand Eren had never been with anyone before?! How could he do this to him?!

“I should get back. Don’t worry, okay? Eren will be fine. He always is.” 

She hung up and Jean lowered the phone from his ear.

He could feel anger swelling inside him, hand tightening around the item he held until it actually hurt. How could someone do something like this? How could someone actually think this was okay?

Jean wanted to hit something. He wanted to fucking hit something. Preferably Levi, but he was good with anything right now.

Tossing his phone onto his bed, he rounded on his laptop and opened it so violently he almost broke the screen. Falling into his chair, he typed angrily into his web browser until he found what he was looking for, clicking on the “contact us” section and beginning to write.

He didn’t care how long it took, he was going to get a fucking answer. He wasn’t going to let things end like this, even if he had to switch degrees and go into Law.

This wasn’t right. It wasn’t right!

Nobody fucked with his best friend like that!



Erwin stared intently at his screen, hands clasped together and resting against his lips. His eyes would lose focus every now and then but he quickly noticed when that happened and would force himself to pay attention once more.

He was still struggling to reassign two of the clients that belonged to Levi, mostly because they were being difficult about it. Everyone else had been understanding and had accepted his sincerest apologies—along with a discount for the following month—when they’d been told Levi was not available at this time due to personal reasons. Most of them had agreed to be reassigned temporarily with only texts and emails available, the explanation for the lack of calls or pictures being that their “boyfriend” was away.

But these two clients were being a pain. One of them insisted she would be able to help Levi through this difficult time—red flag, time for her to be cut off—and the other insisted she was a paying customer and that Levi’s personal life was none of her concern and shouldn’t impede on her contract. She was a bitch and Erwin was almost willing to cut her off and give her a refund.

“Actually, that’s the solution here,” he decided, opening up her profile and apologizing for the inconvenience before refunding her and forcibly closing the contract. He knew that would get a bad review on some random social media, but his staff’s well-being was always his top priority.

Especially Levi’s. Which was what he had tried to do from the start, and had gotten shit on for it.

He couldn’t dwell on that right now, though. He had to think about what to do with this last client. He worried what closing the contract on them would do, but he also didn’t think Levi would appreciate being bothered right now.

His friend wouldn’t admit it, but he was hurting. A lot. It was weird, because Erwin had never thought Levi would find someone he cared about. He was always very careful to keep people at arm’s length to avoid getting hurt, as if the memory of losing his mother had forever hardened his heart. But he’d taken a chance with Eren and now…

Erwin wanted to be angry with the student, but it wasn’t his fault. If anyone was to blame, it was him. Erwin shouldn’t have caved, he should’ve kept them apart like he’d tried to do. He should’ve let Eren cancel his contract, let Levi be angry with him, and eventually they both would’ve let go. But because he’d been weak, because he’d wanted to make his friend happy, he had gone against his better judgment and now had a broken Levi and a pissed off kid somewhere with equally pissed off friends.

Thinking of that, Erwin decided to let the last client sit for a few minutes until he decided what to do, switching tabs in his Admin profile to the messages tab where two unanswered emails sat. He hadn’t known how to respond, so he had left them where they were, intent on mulling them over.

From: A Very Pissed Off Individual
Dear shitty-ass owner of this shitty-ass program.
My name is Jean, and you may or may not know me as Eren Jaeger’s friend. I know the boss-man and Levi are besties or whatever, because PR was apparently besties with that Erwin asshole and we all know that PR and Levi were the same person. So, my question to you Mr. Boss-man Erwin is: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!
Do you have ANY fucking idea what you’ve done to my friend?! He’s never BEEN in a relationship before, and I told him, I TOLD HIM that this was dumb and a bad idea! I KNEW that PR was going to fuck his shit up, I just KNEW it! But you know, I was hoping more for the NORMAL fucking up, like she was actually married, or she realized she was too old for him, or idek. But THIS?!
SERIOUSLY?!
I mean, it’s one thing if Levi means it, okay! It’s one thing if he cares and just was a fucking dumbass about the whole thing. But if he didn’t? If this was a joke? I swear to God, my friend’s becoming a lawyer and we will DECIMATE you when he makes it big! I don’t care how many years I have to wait, and I don’t care if you have cops come arrest my ass for these threats! No one fucks with my friend, pal! You tell Levi he better watch his back, because I am going to FUCK HIM UP for this!
Eren is a REAL PERSON! And he’s a GOOD GUY! He didn’t deserve this! He didn’t deserve to have this bullshit happen to him like this! You guys are all sick! You’re all fucking assholes and I hope you rot in hell! I’m coming to fucking burn your house down you stupid dickwad motherfucker!
GO FUCKING DIE!
Sincerely,
Jean Fucking Kirschstein.

If nothing else, Erwin was somewhat glad that Eren had a friend who cared so much. Well, he had more than one, but the other friend was a lot more polite. Erwin almost wanted to respond to them first, but this Jean character had messaged him almost four days ago, and he was concerned for his well-being. It sounded like this friend was seconds away from hiring a detective to find Erwin’s house and torch it.

He’d been mulling it over for the past few days, trying to determine the best course of action with this particular individual. Logically, he felt not replying would be best, because it would only fuel the fire, but as someone whose friend was also suffering, he couldn’t let this go.

Jean thought Levi had wronged Eren, and Erwin thought Eren had wronged Levi. They were both in the same boat, just on two different sides of the river.

Mr. Kirschstein,
Thank you for your message outlining your concerns regarding one of our staff. My name is Erwin, and I would like to assist you in this matter and assure you that you are misunderstanding many things about the individual you are referring to.
We do not discuss contracts with third parties, however as I am the owner, and this involves many people, I am willing to make an exception in this case.
First and foremost: Don’t threaten me like that again, you little shit, or I will ensure they never find your body.
Second: I understand you’re upset about your friend, but perhaps you should consider that Levi also has friends, and that you’re not the only one who is angry.
Third: Eren is not the only one who has never been in a relationship before, so all of the blame cannot be put on Levi. While I acknowledge everything was handled poorly, please bear in mind that if this had all been a joke, Levi would’ve been fired. He was not joking, the events of this entire ordeal played out badly, and for that, I am sorry not only to Levi, but to Eren as well.
You are angry for your friend, and I understand this, but I am also angry for mine. If you threaten me again, I will find you, and I guarantee I will be the LAST person to ever find you.
Regards,
Erwin Smith.

Perhaps a little more colourful than he’d intended, but he didn’t appreciate Jean’s tone, particularly when he implied that Levi had done all of this as a joke. He kept insisting he was fine, but he slept less than he already used to, and Hanji kept complaining about him constantly switching channels whenever anything remotely relationship-like came onto the screen.

This was entirely his fault, and Erwin knew it. He shouldn’t have caved, he should’ve stuck to his guns and let Levi hate him. Anything was better than this. It was like Levi wasn’t even the same person anymore.

Sighing and rubbing the back of his head, Erwin rubbed at his neck, feeling stress beginning to creep up on him once more, and opened the second message. It was much kinder, and he appreciated it a lot more than he did the one from the little shithead.

From: Armin Arlert
Good evening,
I understand you have already been contacted by someone regarding this, however as I am aware of how he can sometimes be, I thought it prudent to follow up his angry rantings with a more collected message to ensure everyone’s concerns are being addressed.
My name is Armin, and I am friends with one of your clients, Eren Jaeger. As I understand it, he recently came upon information suggesting that the individual he had been speaking to (Hannah/PR) was not who he believed they were and I would like to obtain some clarification on the events that transpired.
I understand the concerns with discussing such things with a third party, however am hoping you understand that everyone in Eren’s life is concerned about him at this time. We just want some answers, and are hoping someone can inform us of what happened.
As far as we are aware, Levi was assigned to Eren as a “friend” profile to give the impression that Hannah had friends and truly existed. I am confused as to how Levi, being a “friend,” suddenly also became Hannah. Furthermore, I would like to confirm whether or not there was any malicious intent involved when Levi told Eren that Hannah (Levi) cared for him a great deal, and later on admitted that Hannah (Levi) loved him.
I would like to give Levi the benefit of the doubt, and believe that this was a misunderstanding. I would like to believe that Levi truly does care for Eren, and that it was never his intent to lie to him or hurt him.
Similarly, I would like you to understand that Eren feels betrayed and lied to. I do not think he harbours any true ill will towards Levi, I think he is just confused and hurt, and would like answers as much as the rest of us.
Please consider responding with as much detail as you can; I understand your privacy policy, but given the circumstances, I urge you to reconsider.
Regards,
Armin Arlert. 

A much more polite and thought-out message. This friend, at least, seemed to believe that Levi didn’t mean any harm with his actions and that everything had simply ended up falling apart. Which was essentially what had happened.

If Levi had admitted everything as soon as things had become serious, perhaps everything could’ve been avoided. If Erwin had stuck to his guns, perhaps everything could’ve been avoided.

If that stupid child hadn’t ever signed up for this, everything definitely would’ve been avoided.

Despite this friend being kinder, Erwin found it even harder to get words out. He didn’t know how to explain what had happened, and he almost didn’t want to. He felt like the best thing in this instance was to let the situation just die. Levi would recover. Eren would recover. Both of them would move on from this, that was how life worked. Bad things happened, people healed, they moved forward.

Mr. Arlert,
Thank you for your message, your kindness is appreciated.
Please be advised that the only information necessary for you to know in this case is that Levi cared a great deal for Eren, and hurting him was not his intent. Both parties were affected by this and I apologize for any harm my service may have caused to Eren.
I am paying for it in kind.
I sincerely hope Eren is able to move past this, as I hope Levi will do the same.
Please let him know I am truly sorry for the pain this has caused him, and please advise your friend Jean that any further threats from him will be met with hostility.
Thank you again, and I hope we are able to move forward from this point.
Sincerely,
Erwin Smith.

He knew he wasn’t answering any of his questions, but he didn’t know how else to let this end. He wanted it finished, and he wanted Eren to stay away from Levi, and vice versa.

Nothing good would come from them talking again, all it would do is cause more pain, and he was done seeing Levi upset.

This was the end of it, and if anyone argued this time, he was going to lay down the law.



Hanji was tip-toeing again. Levi hated it when they tip-toed, it was so painfully obvious and ridiculously obnoxious. It implied something had changed, when nothing at all had changed aside from his forced vacation and the lack of entertainment on TV.

He was bored. Not working was boring and gave him way too much free time. He didn’t do well with free time lately, especially since all he did during his free time was stare at his phone. He didn’t know why he bothered, the second Eren had cancelled his contract, it jumbled the numbers so that he couldn’t call or text Levi ever again. It was Erwin’s way of ensuring crazy stalkers wouldn’t keep people’s numbers once their contracts ended. Even if Eren tried to touch base with him, it wouldn’t go through.

More than once the past two weeks he had found himself tempted to text him. To call him. To do something. But he didn’t. Eren had told him to lose his number, and while he couldn’t bring himself to delete the second contact he’d created and still had, he at least respected him enough to do as he asked and never speak to him again.

It was Levi’s fault, after all. If he hadn’t been so scared of admitting the truth, it would’ve come from him willingly instead of it coming out because of a stupid slip-up. Hanji had continuously warned him that this would happen, but he’d ignored it because he’d thought he’d known better. After all, he knew Eren better than anyone on this side of the service, so he’d just thought a little bit longer. Just a little longer. He’d wanted to keep him, that was all.

And by wanting to keep him, he’d lost him. That was sad and pathetic, just like him.

Why was he even upset about this? He barely even knew Eren, it wasn’t like he’d lost a lifetime friend like Erwin, it was just some kid he’d been texting and gaming with for a few months.

“Levi.”

He turned to look at Hanji and got hit in the face with a jacket, which he did not appreciate very much.

“Get up, we’re going for Chinese food.”

“Not interested.”

“Well that’s just too bad, isn’t it?” Hanji let out a sigh. “I suppose it’s fine, I was thinking of going to use your toothbrush anyway. And maybe licking the inside flap of your kettle. Oh, and let’s not forget that new experiment I wanted to—”

“I’ll drive.” Levi tugged the jacket on and trudged down the stairs to the entrance, grabbing the car keys off the hook by the door and shoving his bare feet into some sneakers. Hanji was right behind him, evidently ready to go before making the threat and the two of them headed for the car together after locking the front door.

“You can’t stay upset forever, Levi,” Hanji said once they were on their way, driving down the steep hill towards downtown.

“I’m not upset, I’m bored.”

“Tell that to our wall,” Hanji muttered. Levi wasn’t positive he was meant to overhear them, but he didn’t comment on it. Their wall was fine, it only had a few extra holes in it. It needed to be redone anyway, Levi was just helping it along.

He knew Hanji was the biggest believer in saying, “I told you so,” and had to applaud their ability to resist for so long. He was positive it was hurting them physically not to say the words, but to be fair, Levi knew Hanji was just as upset about the loss of Eren as he was.

They’d been friends—though how anyone could be friends with Hanji, he had no idea—so he knew that his roommate was half-upset and half-pissed. Still though, at least they weren’t sulking like he was.

Not that he was sulking, but if he had been sulking, Hanji wasn’t following the same path.

“It happens, you know,” they said suddenly when they were almost at the restaurant.

“What does?”

“This. The ending of something. People change, feelings change, things happen. I know you’ve never gone through this before, at least not for this reason, but it’ll go away eventually. Just stop thinking about it and enjoy your vacation.”

“It’s boring,” he insisted, staying away from the other part of their comment. “I have nothing to do.”

“Read a book.”

“No.”

“Then watch a movie or something.”

“We don’t have any interesting ones.”

“Then play Halo.”

Levi was never playing Halo again. Ever. That was the game that had started this stupid mess. Though maybe playing a video game wasn’t a bad idea. He could play Magic: The Gathering. That was something he didn’t ever associate with Eren, it would be something safe to play.

Parking outside the restaurant, he exited the car and locked it, wandering towards the entrance without waiting for Hanji. He nodded hello when he was greeted at the door and then he and his roommate were lead to the back of the restaurant. Once they were handed menus, the hostess walked away and the two of them sat in silence.

“Hey, remember that time we were here and you asked that guy with the briefcase handcuffed to his wrist if he was paying in cash?” Hanji began to laugh. “Oh, that was hilarious. I wanted to kill you and run. How could you ask him that? He was obviously Triad.”

“I was trying to see if he’d pay for our dinner,” Levi argued, keeping his eyes on his menu and ignoring that he’d told Eren that story. He was kind of pissed with how much of his life he’d divulged, literally everything reminded him of Eren now.

“Did he ever tell you where he went to school?”

“Hm?” Hanji asked, sipping the tea a waitress had just set down for them. “Who?”

“Eren.”

“What’re you gonna do, fly to his school?” Hanji asked, giving him a look. “Levi, you need to stop. You need to accept that it happened, remember how happy it made you, and forget about it being over. Don’t obsess.”

“I’m not obsessing, I was just curious.”

“Well, no, he didn’t. Now shut up and order your food.”

“I can’t order if I shut up.”

“Don’t make me kill you, Levi. I can’t afford to pay rent on my own.”

Levi half-smiled at that, happy to have Hanji acting mostly normal again. He was never going to get over any of this if everyone kept reminding him of it.

Besides, Hanji was right. He’d had some good times with Eren, but it was over now and he was more than happy going back to the occasional casual fuck.

How much experience could a twenty-one year old with no prior girlfriend have, anyway?



“You know, your girlfriend is kind of a bitch,” Jean grumbled, sighing and falling onto his back, one hand beneath his head and the other holding the phone to his ear. “I mean, how short is her leash, exactly?”

“At least I have a girlfriend,” the voice on the other end said, almost teasingly. “How’s your dating life been so far this year, Jean? You already date the whole school? You know no one is going to date you now that you’re old news, right?”

“Ouch.” Jean scowled. “Harsh. You turned into a dick since you’ve been back at school. Is the girlfriend fucking the mean into you?”

“That’s vulgar.”

“Says the guy fucking his girlfriend every night.”

“What do you want, Jean?” A sigh, the other clearly exasperated.

“I can’t call to see how my buddy’s doing? Just wanted to make sure everything’s been going well for you, that life’s moving forward and all that.”

“You must be bored if you’re calling me to talk about my life.” 

“Hey, there is nothing wrong with wanting to stay involved. I just wanna make sure you’re doing well and are happy and getting a lot of sex in now that you’re not a virgin anymore.”

“I’m hanging up now.”

“No, no, no!” Jean sat up. “No, don’t hang up! I’m sorry! I just… I just wanted to check in. Seriously. I just wanted to make sure things were going okay.”

A brief pause, and he could tell the other was hesitating.

“I’m not him, Jean. I’d tell someone if something was going on.”

“I know, but I just… After what happened, I’m just worried.”

“Have you talked to him? To Eren, I mean.”

“Yeah.” Jean sighed and fell onto his back again. “He’s still being distant and weird, but at least he’s talking to me again. Won’t play online anymore, though.”

“Understandable. Probably doesn’t even want to look at Halo.” Another pause. “Did you get a response from Erwin Smith?”

“You know, I did,” Jean said, sitting up again and scowling. “He threatened to kill me.”

“You threatened to burn down his house,” Armin argued. “You’re lucky not to have been arrested for that.”

“Whatever, like he knows where I live,” Jean insisted, waving one hand dismissively. “Besides, as long as Levi’s hurting too, I don’t give a shit. Serves the asshole right.”

“Do you really believe that?” Armin asked quietly, which made Jean frown. “Am I unhappy? Of course I am. But it sounds like Levi cares about Eren and I think if both of them could just talk about this, they would really help each other out.”

“Eren’s not gay, Armin.”

“Eren doesn’t know how he feels, Jean. He was in love with Hannah, and Hannah was Levi. I think he could learn to look past the gender if he wasn’t so angry at being lied to.”

Jean just shrugged, not sure how to respond to that. Did he see Eren being with a guy? Yeah, he wasn’t gonna lie. Eren was an odd duck, he didn’t seem to know what he wanted. But Levi was a liar and a dick and Jean didn’t want to encourage that relationship.

“It’s over,” he said with finality. “It’s done. Levi’s gone, and we’re never gonna hear from him again. All we can do now is help Eren get over him and move on.”

“What if he doesn’t get over him?”

“Then we make him. And take a roadtrip to wherever Erwin Smith lives and torch his house.”

“You’re going to get arrested one day, Jean, and I’m going to pretend I don’t know you.”

Jean just smirked, trying to ignore how angry he still was.

If he ever met Levi in person, that guy was a fucking dead man.

TBC…

Chapter Text

Jean felt like his brain was turning to mush. He was chewing so hard on his pencil he was positive he’d break through it any second now. Numbers danced in front of his eyes and he had to physically hold his eyelids open with both hands to keep from falling asleep. Even then, his vision became unfocussed and he barely understood what he was staring at.

When his phone went off on the desk beside him, he jumped before hastily reaching for it, snatching it up urgently and checking the name. He felt himself relax when it wasn’t Eren, his friend keeping him jumpy and on edge.

He kept worrying he would do something stupid, like rob a store or set fire to his dorm. He’d been acting off ever since Levi’s reveal over a month ago, so whenever Jean got a call, he always made sure to answer on the first ring if it was Eren.

After all, what were friends for?

This particular caller he didn’t need to panic over. Taking a breath, he let a slow grin cross his face before answering the call, practically leering while he spoke.

“Why hello there, my little stud muffin.”

“Jean!” He could practically feel the blush through the phone. “I told you not to call me that!”

“Why not? It suits you so well,” he purred.

The sputtering on the other end was always worth it. Not that he wasn’t at least partially attracted to who he was speaking to, but he mostly spoke like this because he knew it made their face turn bright red. If there was one thing Jean liked, it was being able to say he’d made another man blush as red as a tomato.

“Do you want me to stop calling?” the other demanded, still sounding flustered. “Because I’m more than happy to update Mikasa.”

“Don’t be like that, babe. I’m just messin’ around.” Jean dropped his pencil and leaned back in his chair, letting out a loud groan. “So, what’s the word, Marco? How’s he doin’?”

“Honestly? Not great. He’s skipping class and spends all night killing zombies. I can hear him yelling through the wall.”

“Great,” Jean muttered, rubbing at his eyes with one hand, the other still clutching the phone. “Dammit, Kamikaze.”

Marco Bodt had been Eren’s neighbour since first year. They’d met and hit it off right away, and every subsequent year they’d requested to be kept close. The previous year Marco had been across the hall, and this year he was beside him again.

Jean had met him after visiting Eren during reading week in first year. If people had thought Marco and Eren were two peas in a pod, then they must’ve thought Marco and Jean were dating. They’d become friends so fast Jean had spent most of his visit with Marco rather than Eren. They still chatted during the year, but Jean mostly talked to Marco during vacation time. He enjoyed the other’s company, it was soothing. 

Jean wasn’t gay, and he would beat the shit out of anyone who argued that with him, but if he was into men, it was just the one, because nobody pushed all the right buttons the way Marco did. The guy was awesome and Jean was glad to have met him.

And of course, having Marco close to Eren helped, because now he had someone to keep tabs on his friend. 

“Jean, I know you’re happy to let this die, but I don’t think this is healthy for Eren. He needs some kind of closure.”

“I know that, but what am I supposed to do?” Jean asked, raking one hand through his hair. “Levi’s gone, and that Erwin guy made it pretty clear he’d hire a hitman if I contacted him again.”

“You did threaten to burn down his house.”

“Why is everyone so hung up on that? It’s not like I was gonna do it.” 

“Anyway, I have a paper to write but I wanted you to know he’s skipping class. I didn’t wanna tell Mikasa because she’ll fly out here again to beat him up and I don’t think that’s what he needs right now.”

“Yeah, thanks buddy.” Jean scratched the back of his head. “I’ll give him a call.”

“Thanks Jean. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Good night my sexy little—”

Marco hung up on him and Jean grinned, pulling his phone away from his ear and going to his contacts. The humour on his face slowly began to disappear while he searched from Eren’s name and finally called it, anger slowly beginning to overtake his previous joy.

“What?”

Nice greeting, Jean thought bitterly. He’d been like this for weeks, it was getting tiring. “So you don’t go to class now?”

“I skipped four classes, hardly a reason for my mommy to call.”

“You’d be fucked if I was your mother, Kamikaze! What the hell are you doing? This is your education! Don’t fuck with it because you’re butt-hurt!” 

“Jean, I skipped four classes. And not because I was butt-hurt. I had a paper due and I forgot about it, so I had to work through class to get it done so I could submit it on time.”

He sounded way too calm. It was making Jean suspicious.

“I’m serious, ask Mikasa. I sent it to her an hour ago for editing.”

“What about the video games?”

“I can’t sleep. If I’d remembered my paper, I’d have been working on that instead of playing games.” A pause. “Marco’s really keeping tabs on me, huh? Should I give him my bathroom schedule so he doesn’t call you thinking I’ve gone missing?”

“He’s just worried.”

“Jean. I’m fine. Yeah, I’m pissed, and I take it out on others, but that’s not anything new.”

That was true, actually. Still, Jean was too worried to let his guard down about this. The second he did, he just knew Eren was going to bite someone’s face off and Jean would have to make it there to bail him out of jail before Mikasa showed up to murder him.

He didn’t want his friend to get murdered.

“Jean. I’m fine. Let it go.”

Then he hung up.

People were doing that to Jean a lot lately.



“I’m so excited for our date next weekend!”

I’m not.

“Me too, babe.”

“Cathy can’t wait to meet you. Should be a blast!”

Oh yeah. Real blast. Too bad no explosives will be involved to end my suffering.

“I’m excited to meet her, I’ve heard nothing but good things.”

Mostly because you never fucking shut up about her. Are you a lesbian? Seriously, you sound in love with her.

“Should be fun. Just don’t embarrass me, okay? I know you’re gonna try and double-team me with her to get me all flustered.”

Please just shoot me now.

“You know I love it when you get flustered. All cute and adorable, your cheeks going all pink.”

Seriously, why haven’t I been shot yet? I’d have thought there’d be a lineup.

“Stop! Oh my gosh, you’re gonna make me blush right now!”

“It’s what I’m here for.”

Literally. You’re paying for this bullshit.

“You’re such a tease.” A doorbell in the background. “Shoot, that’s the cabbie. I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later, okay? Love you!”

I want to choke on my own vomit.

“Love you too, babe. Be safe and have fun!”

The call ended. Levi dropped his phone on the couch, trying to figure out how he was still alive after all the bullshit he’d been dealing with the past few days. His vacation had felt like an eternity while he was on it, but now he wanted to go back to it. 

Had he forgotten how annoying these weirdoes could be? He’d only been back a week and he already wanted to quit. To be fair, the clients weren’t the only reason, but he was doing his best not to think about it.

Picking his phone back up and slouching slightly on the couch, he started to go to his contacts before stopping himself. He’d been trying really hard to get out of the habit of checking his contacts because it was just depressing.

He still had Eren’s number, listed under “Shitty-Brat” as if had been for the past two and a half months, since Eren’s camping trip.

Realistically, it would’ve been better if he hadn’t kept it. When Eren had cancelled his contract, his number had been removed from his phone. If he’d just let the number go, he wouldn’t consistently go and check on it, as if that would help force Eren to sign up for the program again.

And even worse: he had two numbers. Eren’s home number, and his school number. He felt stupid for having saved them. All it did was remind him that Eren was never going to speak to him again. And yet… he couldn’t convince himself to delete them.

Even though Eren had told him to. He couldn’t.

“You gonna call him?”

Levi jumped and hastily closed out of his contacts. He hadn’t gone searching for Eren’s number, but considering he’d just been sitting there staring at his contacts list, it didn’t take a genius to figure out what he was doing.

“Call who?” He shoved his phone into his pocket and got to his feet. “I’m hungry, what’s for dinner?”

“A little courage with a side of humility,” Hanji said sarcastically, following him into the kitchen. “Just call him! Where’s the harm?”

“Mind your own business.”

“You’re my roommate, and you’re a grumpy asshole. Your happiness is my business. It directly affects my happiness. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been able to whine at you about the fact that you play too much Halo? Because it’s been a long time.”

“Shut up, Hanji.”

“And you know, I really miss being able to talk about dismembering people. It’s been so long since I’ve found someone who shares my proclivity for—”

“I said shut up!” he shouted in Hanji’s face, gripping the front of their shirt and shoving them hard against the fridge. “You understand nothing about how I’m feeling! You don’t even have the mental capacity to begin to understand! So just shut up and leave me a—”

He cut off when he found the other’s arms wrapping around him and his face was suddenly right in Hanji’s chest. It took him a good few seconds to figure out he was being hugged.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“Hugging you. Surely that’s not a foreign concept to you.”

Levi shoved against them hard, pulling away. “You’re a pain in the fucking ass, shitty-glasses.”

“But you love me.”

“Go die!” he shouted over his shoulder, stalking out of the kitchen and towards his room, slamming the door loudly behind him.

He really hoped no clients called, because he would definitely get a complaint.



“So are you gonna follow me to class all the time now?” Eren asked while flipping through the paper he’d just gotten back, trying to find the grade.

“I just want to make sure you’re getting the full university-life experience,” Marco said cheerfully, walking alongside him while they headed for Eren’s English class. “It’s not a real experience unless you’re suffering.”

“Tell me about it,” Eren grumbled, finally finding his grade and letting out a loud exclamation of happiness, thrusting his paper in the air with both hands. “Yes! Eighty-four percent! Oh man, I am on a roll this semester!”

“Your grades have definitely improved, despite your constant gaming and skipping classes.”

“Oh my God, Marco! I told you, that was one time because I forgot about my paper!” He motioned what he held. “This paper, as a matter of fact. And the gaming shouldn’t be a concern, I always game well into the night.”

“Yeah, but I like sleeping.”

Eren grinned at him, nudging him playfully before shoving his paper into his bag and hoisting it higher onto his shoulder.

Things had been good for Eren lately. He’d been doing really well in class, he’d beaten a number of new games he’d been ignoring for years, he was spending a lot of time with Marco… Things were good. He was happy. Slowly, things were going back to normal.

Having distractions helped, and he tried not to think about Levi too much. It only made him angry.

And strangely enough, it wasn’t because he’d lied.

Well, yes, he was pissed as all hell that he’d lied, but more than that he was… disappointed. Levi insisted he’d cared for him, but how exactly was Eren supposed to believe that when he hung up on him, rage-cancelled his contract, and then literally never heard from him again? Literally zero effort had gone into fixing what he’d done, and Eren was over it now. Levi had just been someone he’d had a good time with, and he forcibly blocked “Hannah” from memory. She didn’t exist, and Levi had ended up being a giant elitist tool.

End of story.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” Eren said, forcing his thoughts back to less painful topics. “What’s up?”

“Jean… Is he always like that?”

“Like what?” Eren cocked an eyebrow.

“I don’t know, flirty. He confuses me sometimes. I mean, he’s a good friend and all, but he’ll often talk about your sister, and then turn around and make jokes about thinking my freckles are cute.”

Eren could see red beginning to creep up the back of Marco’s neck, though he somehow suspected it was more from remembering various things Jean had said to him rather than actually talking about it.

It made Eren wonder what exactly his best friend said to Marco to make him so embarrassed.

“Do you like Jean?” he asked.

Marco shrugged. “Honestly, I don’t know. Sometimes. Then other times I remember he’s a huge flirt and get really turned off.”

Was it weird he’d heard Mikasa once tell him the exact same thing when asked that same question? Because he felt like it should’ve been weird, but somehow it wasn’t. He’d never noticed Jean was a flirt, but probably because he spent so much time with him it kind of just got blocked out.

“Isn’t it weird?”

“What?” Marco asked.

“Liking a guy.”

Marco just shrugged at that. “For some people. I don’t mind either way. I think it should be about the person more than about their gender. If you click with someone, why should it matter?” They stopped outside a building and Eren realized it was where his next class was being held. Marco obviously had somewhere else to be—Sociology, if Eren remembered correctly—otherwise he was certain he’d have gotten walked to the door.

“What if they’re a lying asshole?” he asked, Marco giving him a weird look.

“Well, it definitely shouldn’t matter then. If they’re a lying asshole, do you really care if it’s a girl or a guy?”

“I guess not.” Eren rubbed the back of his head and let out a small sigh. “Hey, you’re still gonna help me with my resume later, right? I really wanna get a part-time job for some extra cash.”

“Sure, after dinner, okay?” Marco started walking backwards, tripping on something and almost falling over before regaining his balance. “Don’t skip class, Eren.”

“That was one time!” he insisted, partly annoyed but mostly exasperated.

Turning, he disappeared into the building, walking towards the lecture hall and taking a seat near the back of the class. He didn’t like the course, so he found it hard to stay focused. Being near the front got him dirty looks from the TA, who could clearly see him doodling or surfing the net on his phone. The back was safer.

After pulling all of his books out, he slouched in the hard wooden seat slightly and stared absently at the far wall. He’d never really given it much thought before, but now that he considered Marco’s words, he and Jean did have a weird relationship.

Not bad weird, just weird. Jean always called him his “other boyfriend,” which implied Eren was his boyfriend, except… in a different way? He’d never really thought of it, but really, Jean acted differently around Marco. Kind of similarly to how he acted around Mikasa.

He didn’t think Jean was gay, and he knew Marco wasn’t, but maybe both of them were of the same opinion? If it worked and they were both into it, why not give it a try? He knew Mikasa would never give Jean a chance, he was like her brother—the downside of growing up together—but Eren had never really considered that maybe Jean would end up with Marco. 

It was weird to consider. He liked Marco, and obviously he cared about Jean, but he couldn’t picture his best friend with a guy. Then again, he’d never pictured himself with a guy either, and then he’d found himself having thoughts of threesomes with PR and Levi.

Except now he knew a threesome with PR and Levi would really just be a twosome with Levi period. Since PR wasn’t real because Levi was a fucking lying asshole.

“Why are you even thinking about him?” Eren asked himself aloud, which earned him a confused look from the girl in front of him. He ignored her, burying his face in his arms and struggling to purge all thoughts of Levi from his mind.

It was fucking over. He was done with him. He didn’t want to think about him anymore.

So why was that lying asshole always invading his head?!



If he got one more phonecall while he was in the shower, he was going to disconnect his computer. All he wanted was a few short minutes to himself, was that too much to ask? Apparently so, since he’d been hopping in and out of it for the past ten minutes to answer calls.

Sighing and ensuring the towel was securely wrapped around his waist, Erwin wiped soap from his left eye and bent down to answer the Skype call, opening it on video chat out of habit and being greeted with a much-too-happy Hanji.

“Why hell-o, Erwin!”

“Hanji,” he said with a small smile, taking a seat and shifting the screen a little so they didn’t get quite as much of a view. “Always a pleasure.”

“Not half as much of a pleasure as that last shot I just got.” They fanned themselves. “Woo! Strap a saddle on me and ride me like a cowboy.”

Sometimes, Erwin wondered how Hanji was still alive living with Levi. Other times, he wondered how Levi was still alive.

“Can I help you with something, Hanji?”

“Yes, actually. I was wondering if you could possibly reassign a few people. Mostly Levi’s people.”

Erwin frowned. “Is he not doing well?” He hadn’t noticed any new complaints coming in; actually, things had been going surprisingly well since Levi’s return. Maybe too well?

“No, he’s doing fine, if being a robot with no feelings and acting like he was pre-programmed to gush lovey-dovey shit is fine.” Hanji frowned. “Also, he’s getting really into bondage lately. I can’t go a day without him threatening to tie me to a bed.”

Somehow, Erwin felt that threat was more along the lines of Hanji being tied to a bed and left there to die. He didn’t say this, but he was sure Hanji was well aware of the implied threat beneath Levi’s comment.

“I’m sure it’ll pass, Hanji.”

“I sure hope not, I’ve been trying to get into his pants since we became roommates!”

Erwin couldn’t help but laugh, though it faded quickly. He knew Hanji was just hiding their concern behind jokes and inappropriate comments. Though their reason for calling was of concern. Having Levi back at work seemed to be working well for him, but at the same time, Erwin didn’t see much of what he did outside the texting. Hanji was always there, and could hear everything that went on between Levi and his clients.

Maybe he hadn’t given him enough time. He’d known Levi for years, after all, and had seen first-hand that he’d truly never been with anyone before. He’d cared for Eren a great deal, and it was strange to think it had changed him in some way.

Now he couldn’t help but wonder if Eren had broken him. If Levi had never really been whole until meeting Eren, and their separation had shattered whatever human being he had become.

“Erwin,” Hanji said quietly. “I just want him back. He’s the same, but he’s not. I don’t know how to help him.”

“Levi will be all right. In time.” Erwin sighed and checked the date. “It’s only been a month and a half since they stopped talking. Let’s give it a few more weeks and if he’s not back to himself by December, I’ll put him back on forced vacation.”

“Do you really think time is what’s going to help?”

“There’s no other option. Eren said his piece, and we’re not in a position to break our privacy agreement.”

“You broke it for Jean.”

He really couldn’t tell Petra anything. “That was different, he threatened to burn down my house.”

“I think you should reconsider.”

“I think you should remember I know Levi better than you, and I don’t want to make things worse. He still has Eren’s number, if he hasn’t called it, he has a reason.”

Hanji’s expression made it clear they didn’t like his logic, but it was sound. Nobody could force Levi into talking to Eren just like nobody could force Eren into talking to Levi. If they wanted to talk, they would.

Otherwise, all everyone could do was wait for them to move on, and hope that the feelings went away.



There were so many ways this could go sideways that it was almost stupid of her to consider it. She was losing her mind, that was the only explanation, because why else would she actually be putting all of her faith in Jean right now?

“You’re sure about this, right?” Mikasa asked, eyes narrowing and hand tightening around the phone she held in her left hand.

“I am one-hundred percent positive,” was Jean’s reply, not even a hint of hesitation in his voice. “Trust me on this. I wouldn’t get this wrong, and I care enough to be absolutely sure.”

“All right.” Mikasa leaned back in her chair, reaching out her free hand to jot something down on the post-it note beside her laptop, and then proceeding to burn holes into her computer screen. “I’m trusting you on this, Jean. You better not let me down.”

“I’d never,” he purred teasingly, then seemed to remember that this was a serious matter and sobering up. “How’s Eren doing? Is he talking to you?”

“Barely.” Her eyes shifted to the picture she had of her brother perched at the corner of her desk. “Whenever he does, he usually hangs up on me. You?”

“No. He takes my calls, but they last only a minute of two. We play Call of Duty together with Marco every now and then, but no headset. He refuses.”

“And Halo?”

“Won’t touch it.”

Hearing that angered Mikasa. She still couldn’t believe something like this had happened, and that it had managed to ruin every good thing in Eren’s life. He used to love Halo, and now he wouldn’t even acknowledge that it existed. She wanted to hate the person responsible, but in all fairness, she acknowledged that she, Jean and Armin—as well as her and Eren’s parents—were all partly to blame.

If they hadn’t always teased him, made fun of him, essentially forced him into looking for a way to get out of being harassed, this wouldn’t have happened. Eren wouldn’t have gone to find the site, he wouldn’t have met “Hannah,” and he wouldn’t have gotten his heart broken.

Still, she couldn’t believe all of this had even happened. She still wasn’t entirely sure that “Levi”—if that was even his real name—cared about Eren. It would be one thing for him to have cared and things had just gone badly, as that Erwin person had told Jean, but if she were to discover he hadn’t cared? Oh, he would die. He would be incredibly dead.

It was bad enough this had happened, but to find out it had been a game? She would find him and murder him, and have at least two people willing to either help her, or alibi for her.

Though Jean was a terrible liar and really good with a shovel, so she’d probably prefer to have him on the helping side rather than the alibi side.

But if this Levi person had truly liked Eren, had cared about him… that made everything almost worse. Because now there were two people who were upset, and while the lying was virtually inexcusable, at least one side would want to make amends.

And if that was true, she knew Eren would eventually come around. Maybe not this year, or even next year, but eventually he would accept it and, at the very least, be open to a friendship.

That was the irksome thing about all this: Eren had never been with someone before, so how could he truly know he wasn’t interested in men? He’d always talked about “Levi” while they’d been friends, so who was to say he couldn’t be just as happy with “Levi” as he had been with “Hannah”? They were the same person, they just had different equipment.

“Do you need help at all?” Jean snapped her out of her musings and she shook her head, despite knowing he couldn’t see her.

“Thanks Jean, but Armin’s calling to help me later.”

“Okay. Text me if you need me, and I’ll call back.”

“Thanks.” She paused. “Jean, you’re sure, right?”

“I have never been more positive in my life. That’s him.”

Nodding and thanking him again, they bid one another farewell before Mikasa hung up and leaned forward in her seat once more, eyes on the picture belonging to one L.A. on the Invisible Significant Other website. She closed out of the voice recording, hoping to God Jean was right, and returned to her profile after having confirmed that who she chose was truly who she wanted.

“Okay,” she said, scrolling back to the top of the form and positioning her fingers accordingly. “Name, Annie Leonhart.”

TBC…

Chapter Text

The last fucking thing he needed right now was to have a new God damn client. If he didn’t have rent to pay, he’d tell Erwin to shove the new client right up his tight ass, but since he did have rent to pay and wanted to eat this month, he just scowled angrily at the new profile sitting in his inbox.

The only reason he didn’t immediately call up Erwin to chew him out was because he acknowledged that the person specifically chose him. He couldn’t blame this on his boss when the client was the one with the shitty taste.

“Might as well get it over with,” he muttered to himself, opening up the profile and reading it half-heartedly.

They weren’t very detailed, and quite frankly, they sounded boring. He was probably going to fall asleep calling this idiot. And she had the first name of a musical. All he could think of was a little Asian girl in a red dress singing out a window. He pictured Asian because the profile specifically said she was Asian.

Please introduce yourself, and supply a photo or describe yourself in detail:
Annie Leonhart. 21, 5’6”, black hair, brown eyes, Asian descent.
What is the reason behind signing up for our service? (Please note: Honesty will allow us to determine how best to serve you.):
If my mother talks to me about being single one more time…
What would you like your boyfriend’s name to be?:
Thomas.
What is his date of birth:
This isn’t relevant at this time.
How did you meet?:
Through my brother. He knows about this service and will back be up if anything requiring proof comes up.
Where did you have your first date?:
No date yet, we’re brand new. First date can come up in conversation with my assigned agent. 
How long have you been dating?:
A few days, four or five.
How serious is he with this relationship?:
It just started, so not at all.
When and where did you share your first kiss?:
Not applicable.
Who made the first move for the kiss?:
Not applicable.
Are there any habits you would like him to have?:
He cracks his knuckles.
Do you have any preferences for how he talks about you to others?:
As long as it’s only good things, don’t care.
What would you like your boyfriend to call you?:
Babe.
Do you have a pet name or nick-name you would like him to respond to?:
No.
What does he love about you?:
My strength.
What does he hate about you? (Please note, no relationship is perfect and it is strongly recommended this section be completed):
My protectiveness of people I love. Like my brother.
What kind of personality would you like him to have?:
Crass, asshole, grumpy.
What kind of humour would you like him to have?:
Crass and inappropriate.
How does he feel about swearing?:
Swears like a sailor.
What kind of religious affiliations does he have?:
Don’t care.
Does he have any previous girlfriends? If so, please elaborate:
Not really relevant, I’d never ask and the guy I’m looking for wouldn’t brag.
If he were to surprise you, what would he do to achieve this?:
Not applicable right now.
What have you done in the past to spoil him?:
Not applicable right now.
What do you want him to know about you?:
We’re still at the beginning of our relationship so he doesn’t need to know anything.
Are there any immediate details we should know?:
I would like to receive a call immediately.
Can you describe what kind of sleeper you are?:
This isn’t applicable at this time.
Are you a blanket-hog?:
As above.
Do you snore/drool?:
As above.
How fit would you consider yourself to be? (Please note: It is important you are honest as it will be less convincing if your significant other cannot accurately describe you):
I am extremely fit. I can bench-press more than most guys.
Would you consider yourself to be well-built?:
Yes.
Package B onwards - Please choose from the following available pictures:
Redirect: LEVI ACKERMAN chosen.
Package C onwards - What kind of gifts would you like to receive? (Please note: additional charges apply for gift items):
Not applicable.
Package D onwards - Do you want him to have a Facebook page?:
Not applicable.
Package D onwards - How should he plan for your upcoming date?:
Not applicable.
Package E onwards - How many social events is he to attend and what are they?:
Not applicable.
Package E onwards - Do you have any details he should know to get along with your mother/father?:
Not applicable.

Reading the requested personality made something constrict in his chest, but he did his best to ignore it, pulling out his phone and scrolling through it to find the new number. He wanted to take his time calling, but he didn’t know when the profile had appeared and she’d said “immediately,” so he couldn’t procrastinate or he’d probably get yelled at.

Letting out a slow breath and trying to get himself in the correct mindset for a morning of bullshit, he hit the call button and brought the phone to his ear, scrolling back through her profile while it rang. He wondered if maybe she was unavailable or couldn’t hear her phone, because it rang four times and he figured it would probably go to voicemail.

Just when he’d resigned himself to having to leave a super ridiculous message, the line clicked and he heard loud background noise before there was silence, a voice speaking.

“Hello?”

“Hey babe, I got your message.” He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Babe. So original. “Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“Who is this?”

I swear to God, if this is someone who signed up for someone else as a prank, I’m going to find them and murder them. Levi hated those. He’d encountered enough of them in the past few years and he was not in the mood today.

“It’s Thomas. Come on, Annie, don’t te—”

“Is this Levi?”

He felt like he’d been slapped, hand tightening around the phone. What? How did she know his name? Who the fuck was this?!

Quickly scrolling back through her profile, he tried to figure out if he knew her, maybe someone from university or even high school. The name didn’t ring a bell, neither did the voice.

“This is Levi, correct?”

He didn’t know how to answer that. What should he be saying right then? Was she a stalker? Should he hang up and call Erwin?

“Am I speaking with Levi or not? I don’t have all day, I have classes to attend.”

She sounded annoyed. Exasperated. She sounded like she wanted this to be over with, which suggested she wasn’t a stalker. Then who the hell was she?

Against his better judgment, he asked, “Who is this?”

Hanji had emerged from their bedroom as he asked this and they paused in the kitchen doorway, seeming to catch on that something was amiss. He said nothing to them, waiting for an answer from the other end.

He was not expecting what he got.

“I’m Eren’s sister.”

Hearing that name out loud was like a physical blow. Levi missed him. More than he’d admit to anyone. But the ache had been tolerable of late, almost non-existent. Hearing his name though, after all this time, the pain reared its ugly head again.

His hand tightened around the phone he held.

“You must have me confused with someone else.”

“Pretty sure I don’t. Jean listened to each and every single male voice on your website and he identified yours as belonging to the asshole who gamed with him and Eren.”

Fuck!

“I want to speak to you about what happened.”

He sure as fucking hell didn’t!

“I don’t have to talk to you.”

“Actually, my last credit card purchase tells me that you do. Would you like to try again?”

He said nothing. He should hang up, call Erwin. This was deception, and misuse of the service. She wasn’t allowed to trick him into talking to her so they could talk about Eren.

But… he didn’t know how he was doing. It couldn’t hurt, right? Talking to Mikasa? Finding out if Eren was at least okay. If he was doing well. How his school year was going. If he’d… If he’d found someone who wasn’t an old, crass asshole with a dick instead of a vagina.

“We need to talk about Eren.”

“It goes against our privacy policy to discuss a client with a third party,” he said, his voice lacking its usual conviction when he spoke those words.

Hanji was standing ramrod straight at the entrance to the kitchen, watching him intently. He wished they’d go away, he didn’t need an audience. This was hard enough without them watching him.

“You destroyed my brother,” she said darkly, voice lowering dangerously, “who is the one important person in my life. We’re going to have a talk, or you’re going to find yourself buried in a shallow grave.”

“Is that a threat?” he asked, somewhat amused. Did all of Eren’s friends and family enjoy threatening people? First Jean, now Mikasa?

“No, it’s a promise.”

A chuckle passed through him at those words, his emotions starting to bounce all over the place. “I think I understand now why he likes sassy girls, growing up with you.”

“We’re not here to talk about me. We’re here to talk about you.”

“And what exactly are you expecting me to say?” he demanded. “That it’s not true? That I’m not Hannah and this was all a huge misunderstanding?”

“I just want the truth.”

“About what?”

“Did you care?”

Anger raced through him so fiercely at those words that he felt physically ill. “What happened between Eren and I is none of your business!”

“It’s a simple question, if you can’t even answer it honestly, then I guess I know the answer.”

“You don’t know anything about me,” Levi insisted angrily. “You have no idea how I feel about him!”

“You’re right. I don’t. Which is why I asked, and you didn’t answer.”

Levi decided then and there that he did not like her. Not because she was a bitch, or because she had tricked him into this conversation, but because she was right. How could he tell anyone this was one of the worst things that had ever happened to him when he couldn’t even admit why?

“I’m giving you one more chance to answer me honestly. Did you care?”

Levi’s hand tightened further around the phone he held, eyes darting up to Hanji. They said nothing, standing immobile in the entrance to the kitchen, almost daring him to lie. If he lied now, he would never speak to Eren again. He already didn’t think he ever would, but if there was a chance… If he could fix this…

“Yes.”

“Yes what?”

“Yes, I cared. It got out of hand, it went on too long. I was going to tell him, I just didn’t know how so I never did.”

She made a small humming sound, like an acknowledgement, and he could hear her footsteps, as if she were pacing.

“Have you tried contacting him?”

“No, he won’t speak to me.”

“He will if you try.” 

“He won’t,” he snapped, hating that she was giving him false hope. “I know him. He won’t.”

“I’m fairly certain I know him a lot better than you do.”

He wanted to argue with her and insist she couldn’t possibly, but then he remembered who he was talking to. She was probably the one person on the planet he couldn’t argue with on this.

“If you do nothing, nothing will happen. If you at least try, you might be surprised. It’s been three months since our camping trip, two months since he stopped talking to you. He won’t admit it, but he’s miserable. I want him to go back to being as excited as he was when he first told us the truth about you. About Hannah.”

“Hannah doesn’t exist,” he said bitterly.

“Hannah was a name, Levi. Talk to him and show him she exists. I can’t fix this for him, despite how much I wish I could. Call him. Talk to him. You literally have nothing left to lose.”

She hung up.

The sad thing was, Levi knew she was right.

He’d already lost Eren, what more could he possibly have left to lose?


His hands were dirty. They were covered in sweet, delicious grease from the unhealthy pizza he was currently shoving happily into his mouth. But his phone was ringing. He couldn’t not answer his phone.

But his hands were dirty.

Lesser of two evils? Maybe he could answer with his nose. Wasn’t that why touch screens were useful? He could just put his nose against the end and swipe to the side.

With no other options available, he did just that, managing to press his nose to the small slider and jerking his head to the right. Letting out a loud exclamation of happiness when it picked up, he quickly used his nose to hit the speaker button.

“Hello?” Well, that was the word he was going for. His full mouth made that hard to achieve.

Silence.

Frowning, he finished chewing and swallowed, bending closer to his phone to ensure he hadn’t hit “mute” by accident. He hadn’t.

“Hello?”

“Is that what you were trying to say just now?” 

“I’m eating!” Jean insisted with a scowl. “You called mid-bite! Not my fault.”

“I spoke to Levi.”

Those words sobered Jean up instantly, back straightening and a scowl marring his features while he stared down at his phone. “Oh yeah? What’d the asshole say? Come up with a bunch of lame excuses on why he’s such a dickwad?”

“Actually, he admitted to it.”

“Oh.” Jean frowned. “So… not a joke?”

“Not a joke.”

Well. Jean owed Erwin a serious apology. He’d send flowers, but he doubted the other man would provide him with his address, considering.

“Is he gonna call Eren?”

Silence. Didn’t need to be a genius to know what that meant.

“Do you think Eren would answer even if he did?”

Silence. Well shit, this conversation wasn’t going well at all!

What was the point in going through all that trouble if nothing good even came of it? It was times like this where Jean wished he hadn’t deleted Levi off XBox, though really he didn’t think that would’ve made a difference. He’d been trying to friend him again since the incident, but Levi kept ignoring or rejecting his requests. It stood to reason that if they were still friends when everything happened, Levi would’ve just deleted him like an asshole.

But what else could they do at this point? Touching base with Levi had been their last attempt to fix everything, but if Levi was too fucking chicken-shit to even try, well they were screwed. And if Eren was too stupid to answer the phone, they were still screwed.

“Technology is stupid,” Jean muttered, grabbing another piece of pizza and stuffing half of it into his mouth. “Things were simpler before all this bullshit started. You know, fifteen years ago, Eren and Levi never even would’ve met.”

“And you would’ve been far less annoying,” Mikasa sighed. Jean frowned, finding that to be uncalled for, but then again, Mikasa always acted like this when she was worried. Jean didn’t take it personally, Mikasa was usually insulting him when she wasn’t ignoring him, so he wasn’t really surprised.

“Is he going home for Christmas?” Jean asked.

“No idea. He keeps telling our mother he’ll think about it.” 

“What’s the point in me going home at all if Eren’s not even going to be there?” He scowled. “What if this never goes away? What if Eren is just stuck in this rut forever? I don’t want him to be like this forever, it sucks.”

“We have no more say in the matter. I spoke to Levi, we’ve expressed where we stand. Whatever else happens, well, we can only hope for the best.”

“Yeah,” Jean muttered. “And hope Eren actually answers his fucking phone.”


This was bad.

Being alone was bad. Where was Marco? Eren really couldn’t go eat dinner alone right now.

It let his mind wander to places it shouldn’t, and it made him angry. And also hurt. But mostly angry.

In a way, that was one of the things that pissed him off the most about this whole situation. He wanted to be hurt but all he really felt was anger. Yes, there was some hurt in there, but it was mostly drowned out by how livid he always felt. And being angry all the time was getting exhausting.

But he couldn’t help it! Whenever he was left alone too long, he thought back to how things had been over the summer. How much he’d spoken to Hannah, and how much fun he’d had. How happy he’d felt finding someone who liked talking to him, who liked him, who wanted to get to know him.

Having someone treat him like he mattered was amazing.

Not that Jean, Armin and Mikasa didn’t treat him that way, but they’d known him since they were kids. Since before he got weird and perpetually angry.

While he and Marco got along great, the other wasn’t interested in him—which was fine, given Eren liked girls, thank you—which made Hannah doubly amazing. She liked him, and they were also friends, and she was a girl.

Or... had been. Until Levi had fucked that up too.

And now he was angry again. Sadness to anger in the space of just a few short minutes. Levi seemed to bring out the worst in him, which was ironic given he used to bring out the best in him. At least Halo-wise.

Eren missed playing Halo. He and Jean used to play it together all the time while in school, but now he couldn’t bring himself to even look at it. Everything reminded him of Levi and made him angry and he just wanted, needed, this anger to go away.

Rolling onto his side on his bed, he buried his face in his pillow and tried to suffocate himself. Maybe if he could take a nap, he’d stop thinking about him. Was this how it felt having someone completely decimate your heart? Eren had never felt this upset and angry and frustrated before.

It was like someone was reaching into his chest and jerking his heart out of position, the pain jarring and unwelcome. And it always seemed to hit at the worst times. Like randomly in class, or sometimes in the shower, when he was lying in bed. Eren could be minding his own damn business, just doing something normal, and his chest would ache. Sometimes bad enough for him to freeze in what he was doing to make sure he wasn’t having a heart attack.

Was it normal? He wanted to know if it was normal. After all, he was the one who’d told Levi to disappear, but it still hurt when he thought about him. And really, he felt like he was starting to obsess and he just wanted it to—

“Eren?”

Jerking upright in bed, Eren stared at his door, where Marco stood knocking lightly on the frame. “Wanna grab dinner?”

“Yes!” Eren leapt off the bed, feeling relieved Marco was finally back and he could be distracted as he’d been hoping to be. “Yes, let’s go.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yup!” He offered the other a grin, ignoring the ache spreading through his chest. “Come on, I wanna get there before all the good pizza disappears.”

And he shoved Marco ahead of him and out of the room, slamming the door behind him.


When had calling a number ever been so difficult? Levi had called numerous numbers hundreds of times, speaking to people he didn’t even know, saying things, embarrassing things, to people he had never met.

And yet staring at the number in his phone, the one he had never been able to force himself to delete… he couldn’t do it.

He knew Mikasa meant well, but having her call just re-opened the wound Levi had been positive was healing. Having her insist he speak to Eren was crueler than he was sure she realized.

Did she think he didn’t want to? Did she think he was avoiding speaking to Eren because he didn’t miss him? That he’d forgotten about him?

Because he hadn’t. He thought about him constantly, he imagined conversations with him at all hours of the day. He was pretty sure he even dreamed about him. Eren occupied his every waking moment, which was terrifying and unnerving for someone like Levi. Someone who had never felt any kind of emotional attachment to anyone before.

But Eren was different. He’d been different from the beginning. Even Levi hadn’t wanted to admit it back then, but he knew better now. Something about him had made Levi feel more… normal. Capable of actually caring about someone, of being interested in someone.

And then Eren had told him to delete his number. He’d told him he never wanted to speak to him again. And that had shattered what little humanity Levi had felt like he’d had while being friends with Eren.

Now Mikasa wanted him to destroy his entire being? If he called Eren now, he wouldn’t speak to him. Even if he did, all he would do was yell at him, tell him to go jump off a cliff, that Levi had been told to delete his number, and then he would hang up. And then… and then what?

What would Levi do?

Just like the last time, he didn’t know. He didn’t know what he’d do. Sit there in a state of shock? Call him back? Break down into a giant emotional ball of anguish and agony?

Probably not that last one, though it was hard to tell. Everything was different when it came to Eren so for all he knew, he would break down and sob uncontrollably. He doubted it, given the past few months, but he’d also doubted he’d ever care for anyone as much as he had Eren.

“Are you gonna call him?”

Levi tensed, turning sharply, not having heard Hanji’s approach. They regarded him with curiosity and almost a hint of concern, as if they knew how much Mikasa’s call had rattled him.

He hadn’t said anything to Hanji about it, but they weren’t deaf and they’d been standing right there. They had obviously heard the call. One side of it, anyway, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

“No,” he finally said, looking back at his phone.

“No?”

He hesitated. “Maybe.”

Hanji didn’t move, standing beside him and watching him closely. He wished they wouldn’t, he wanted to be left alone. Then again, that would just make him talk himself out of calling. But wasn’t that the better option? Why dredge all this back up? If he ignored Mikasa, she might call again and harass him, but then at least he would be the only one having the scab ripped off over and over again.

Eren was probably fine. He probably didn’t even think of Levi ever. Maybe he’d gotten himself a girlfriend. A real one. He was likely happy. What would Levi accomplish by calling him now?

“I know what you’re doing,” Hanji said softly, forcing Levi’s gaze back to them.

“I’m not doing anything, shitty-glasses.” He wanted them to go away.

“You’re trying to talk yourself out of calling by insisting he’s happier without you.”

“He is happier without me,” Levi bit out, annoyed.

“If that were true, his sister wouldn’t have called.” Hanji paused. “And the horse wouldn’t have threatened to burn down Erwin’s house. I’m surprised he didn’t file a restraining order, actually. Can never be too careful in this day and age.”

Levi ignored them. They were wrong. What did Mikasa know? She and Eren weren’t even in the same country, let alone the same state. She didn’t see him on a daily basis, she had no idea how Eren was feeling.

Levi didn’t want to call him. He didn’t.

“Levi.”

Okay, yes he did. If he was honest, truly honest, he wanted to call him. He wanted to hear his voice, to ask him how he was doing, to explain everything. If he could only explain, maybe they could bridge the gap and become, at the very least, friends.

He just needed five minutes. Just five minutes to explain.

“Levi.”

Forcing his gaze back to Hanji, they sighed and rubbed the back of their head, as if losing their nerve and then mumbled something about getting him tea before disappearing into the kitchen.

Dark eyes returned to his phone and Levi scowled down at the contact before turning off his screen.

Even if he did call Eren, he had no idea what he could tell him, anyway.

There was no point in ripping off the scab. If Eren truly didn’t care anymore, Levi wasn’t sure he could recover from that.

It was better this way.

For both of them.


[Unknown Number]
You know what I like best about you?

[JaegerMeister]
My irresistible charm?

[Unknown Number]
HAH!
[Unknown Number]
I’m sorry, your what now?

[JaegerMeister]
Don’t deny it, my charm makes you feel all hot and bothered

[Unknown Number]
If by “hot and bothered” you mean “gross and sweaty,” then yes, because it’s hot as fuck here.

[JaegerMeister]
Biiiiiiiitch
[JaegerMeister]
Fine, what?
[JaegerMeister]
What is this amazing thing about me that you looooove~?

[Unknown Number]
I said LIKE, jackass
[Unknown Number]
And it’s your honesty
[Unknown Number]
You’re so honest about everything. Tiny little cinnamon roll, too pure for this world.

[JaegerMeister]
Are you turning me into an internet meme?????
[JaegerMeister]
I am NOT a cinnamon roll |<
[JaegerMeister]
I am a SINNAMON roll

[Unknown Number]
You wish, Lover.
[Unknown Number]
Uuuugh, don’t wanna leave you, but I have to go :(
[Unknown Number]
Though you have gaming with Levi tonight, so you probably won’t even notice I’m gone

[JaegerMeister]
Hey!
[JaegerMeister]
I will too notice!
[JaegerMeister]
Though Levi can help keep my mind off it ;)

[Unknown Number]
Uh huh.
[Unknown Number]
Surprised you haven’t dumped me for him yet.

[JaegerMeister]
I could never :)
[JaegerMeister]
Have fun with Erwin!

[Unknown Number]
Soooooooooooooo much fun…
[Unknown Number]
Ttyl Lover <3

[JaegerMeister]
Bye babe <3
[JaegerMeister]
We need to talk.

“I am a sad and pathetic human being,” Eren said aloud to himself, closing his text messages and tossing his phone towards the end of his bed. He groaned and covered his face with his arms, lying on his back on his bed and letting out a sigh.

He didn’t know why he’d read that. All it had done was depress him. He was just torturing himself reading that. After all, it was the last ever conversation he’d ever had with Hannah. PR.

Levi.

“No, it’s not,” he reminded himself angrily. His last conversation with Levi had ended badly, clearly. Since he’d never heard from him again. Which was what he’d wanted, so he didn’t even know why it hurt so much sometimes.

Levi was a fucking liar, and had just been making fun of him. He hated the asshole and hoped wherever he was, he was dying of heatstroke. It was what the jerk deserved.

Jumping slightly when his phone suddenly rang, he sat up and eyed it suspiciously before picking it up, checking the call display.

Ten digits stared back at him, the number not programmed into his phone, and he frowned. Checking the time, he realized it wasn’t even past five yet, so it wasn’t weird to get a call, but he wasn’t expecting to hear from anyone unknown.

He didn’t recognize it, and wasn’t sure about the area code, either. It wasn’t the same as his, but he knew the area he lived in had multiple different codes so it may have just been someone else around.

Shrugging, he answered the call and put it to his ear.

“Hello?”

Silence.

He frowned, pulling the phone from his ear to ensure it was properly connected. It was, so he put it to his ear again.

“Hello? Is someone there?”

More silence, and then the call ended. He stared down at his phone again before shrugging and hitting the callback button, placing it to his ear and listening to it ring. It did so once. Twice. Three times.

He was positive it would go to voicemail, but after the third ring, the line finally clicked.

“Hello?” he asked again.

“Eren Jaeger?”

He frowned, not recognizing the voice. “Yes?”

“Sorry about the dropped call, my cell phone is particularly terrible in dead zones. This is Dot Pixis, you dropped off your resume last week?” 

Eren leapt out of bed, feeling like he was vibrating. Holy shit, he’d gotten a call-back! He’d been dropping off resumes for almost a month and no one would call him! And now he finally had one!

He had to think really hard on who Dot Pixis was and where he worked, but after a very brief chat, he concluded that he was the owner of the book store a few minutes off campus. It was a quaint little place with some armchairs on the second level, complete with mini café where the avid reader could order a tea or coffee—nothing fancy like at Starbucks—and sit and enjoy a good book.

The owner even let people come by and read the books without paying for them, so long as they bought at least one beverage before sitting down in an armchair.

Eren had found out about the place because one of Marco’s friends went there to get their Shakespeare fix and had mentioned they were looking to hire someone in the café.

It would only be three times a week for about four hours a shift, but Eren was more than okay with this! While he didn’t have the job, at least he and the owner were chatting, and the other seemed to really like him.

After inviting Eren for an official interview in two days, the student thanked him profusely before hanging up. Excited, he opened his text messages to let his sister know and found himself staring back at the same words he had just barely stopped thinking about.

[Unknown Number]
Ttyl Lover <3

[JaegerMeister]
Bye babe <3
[JaegerMeister]
We need to talk.

Scowling at the words, Eren closed out of the text message with Levi and contemplated deleting it before knowing he couldn’t.

God knew why, but he couldn’t.

Opening his sister’s contact, he sent her a text asking her to call him, grinning from ear to ear.

Today was a good day.

Or, it would’ve been, if he didn’t keep thinking about fucking Levi.

He never wanted to think about him again.

Not working out so great for him.

TBC...

Chapter Text

He had to be cursed. That was the only explanation. That, or there was a little alert that got sent out to everyone he knew every single time he tried to step foot in the shower, because if he got one more Skype call while attempting to tend to his hygiene, he was going to disconnect his computer.

Trudging through his bedroom to his laptop, he checked to see who was calling before accepting it, pulling his towel more tightly around his waist.

“Levi.”

“You need to take back some of these clients.”

Erwin cocked an eyebrow. This was new, Levi never usually complained like this. Yes, he complained, but he just did it for the sake of doing it and making Erwin suffer. Right now, he looked serious. Like he might actually reach through the screen and shake him if that was what it took for him to obey.

“Are there clients that are causing you concern?”

“I can’t handle the crazy ones anymore. You can assign me as many as you want who are using the service to get family off their back, but I’m done with the ones who pretend it’s real.”

And Erwin could tell he was done, too.

“You know I can’t do that easily, Levi,” he insisted with a sigh, taking a seat and resigning himself to the fact that he wasn’t going to get back in the shower any time soon. “You have a few who requested you specifically based on your picture, your voice or both.”

“Yeah, you can close off Annie Leonhart’s contract, that was the brat’s sister.”

That gave Erwin pause, eyes scanning his friend, but Levi seemed completely unphased by this. Erwin hadn’t considered that anyone in Eren’s life would join the service to talk to Levi, mostly because they specifically made it so that things like that couldn’t happen. It was bad enough he, himself, had been plagued by the shithead’s friends—though Armin had been perfectly pleasant—he didn’t need them harassing Levi now, too.

“How did she find you?”

His friend shrugged. “Hanji sent a picture of me to him once. And she mentioned something about the horse listening to all the voices on the site.”

“I see.” He hadn’t considered that perhaps having the voices would cause problems like this. Then again, Eren was a special case. “What did she want?”

“To make me suffer, can we stay on task, please? I know you wanna get back to that giant dump you were just taking, so let’s talk shop and send you on your merry way.” 

Well, at least Levi’s toilet humour seemed to be coming back. He was glad—in some ways. Really, he didn’t like Levi’s humour, but at least it suggested he was getting back to normal, which was what mattered most.

Then again, how much of it was forced? He knew Levi hadn’t gotten over this that quickly, he’d still been miserable a week ago.

“Have you spoken to him?” He didn’t want Levi speaking to Eren, it would just bring everything back up, but he was curious as to what had happened.

“I have nothing left to say to that little shit.”

“I take it that’s why his sister called. What did she say?”

Levi hung up on him. Well, it at least proved he wasn’t entirely himself, because Levi had never hung up on him before, no matter how angry he was. Well, not before the whole Eren thing, anyway.

Wandering back to the bathroom, Erwin turned the shower back on and dropped the towel, moving under the spray and running his fingers through his blond hair while thinking on everything that had happened. It was strange to think of how quickly Levi and Eren’s relationship had progressed in just a few short months, but when he really considered it, because Levi had been breaking the rules, he and Eren had spoken almost three times more often than any of his other staff.

Actually, Hanji had even been starting to creep up towards twice as much as the other staff. He knew Hanji was trying not to talk about it out of respect for Levi, but Erwin could tell they missed Eren. When everything had first happened, they’d been furious upon finding out Eren’s profile had been deleted, and then they’d become sad. Now, they just wanted to fix Levi, and that meant putting their own feelings on the backburner.

Erwin could relate. He wanted to do everything in his power to fix this, as well, but this was exactly why he’d tried to nip this in the bud to begin with! He’d seen how attached Levi was getting, how possessive almost. He’d known it was going to end badly, and had Levi met Eren any other way, he wouldn’t have interfered. He would’ve just let things play out. But this was different, Eren was a client, and he’d known this would happen. He was so hell-bent on sparing his friend’s feelings in the moment that he hadn’t considered the repercussions after the fact.

Well, no, he had, but there hadn’t been anything he could do about it.

Bracing his hands on the wall and letting out a slow sigh, water cascading along his skin, he closed his eyes and tried to turn off his mind.

If Eren’s sister had called Levi, the ball was in his court now. While Erwin didn’t like it, he couldn’t control if Levi decided to call him.

Whether Levi called Eren or not was entirely up to him.

Whether Eren took the call though… that, unfortunately, was not up to him.

And it risked making things much, much worse.

“Damn that stupid kid.” Erwin had a very short kill list, and Eren was at the top of it.

Fucking brat had broken his best friend.


“I can’t do it,” Eren whined, resting his cheek against his book and letting out random sounds of unhappiness. “I can’t.”

“You can, and you will,” Marco told him easily, flipping the page of his text and writing something down on his spiral-bound notebook. “We only have two weeks before exams start, and if you don’t get through your material now, you’ll be scrambling at the last minute like you were last semester.”

“Still passed though,” Eren argued.

He heard more than saw Marco reach over and grab his phone, most likely to text Mikasa and tell her to get Eren’s ass moving on his revisions. But he didn’t want to, he was lazy. He was passing everything right now anyway, which was saying a lot, considering.

Somehow depression had improved his grades, who knew? Then again, maybe it was also Marco… Eren spent so much time trying to keep himself distracted, and Marco was such a studious person that it kind of rubbed off as a means of distracting himself? He didn’t know.

“Mikasa says she sent you a picture of Jean that you will find highly amusing,” Marco informed him. “She won’t send it to me.”

“Probably because he’d die of shame if his stud muffin saw it.”

He could practically feel Marco’s blush from across the table, but he didn’t look up at him, face still pressed against the page of his book. Without a word, he just slid his phone across the table so that Marco could look at it, having removed the password once he’d arrived back at university.

He didn’t have to worry about thieves here—well, not the nosy kind, anyway.

He heard Marco burst out laughing, but he wasn’t in the mood to make fun of Jean right then, so he didn’t bother looking up. He was watching a girl across the library wrestle with the computer’s slow internet. She looked ready to beat the screen with her backpack, it was kind of funny.

“Who’s this?”

“Hm?” Eren turned his head just enough to see who Marco was talking about.

Pain stabbed through him at the picture his friend had stopped on and he sat bolt upright, snatching his phone from the other’s hand and closing out of his photos, scowling angrily down at his home screen.

“I gave it to you to look at Jean’s picture, not to go snooping,” he snapped.

“Sorry.” Marco sounded so ashamed it made Eren feel bad for snapping at him.

He couldn’t help it though. Not after Marco had stopped on a picture of fucking Levi. He hadn’t looked at it in months, mostly because it used to make him feel self-conscious, but now it was just a reminder of the asshole. The picture had gotten saved to his phone as opposed to his sim card, so it didn’t matter which one he had in, the picture would always be there. He didn’t even know why he still had it, he should just delete it. What good was keeping the picture going to do, anyway? Other than piss him off.

“He’s good looking.”

“What?” Eren asked, some bite still in his tone.

“The guy. Whoever he is. He’s good looking.” Marco shrugged. “Not someone I’d be interested in, personally, but he’s attractive. He’s got a nice jawline and strong features.”

Was it weird that Eren’s first memory of that picture was Levi’s rock-hard abs? Because that was all he could picture in his head. He barely even remembered what Levi looked like, and he made sure not to check, lest it bring back too many memories he would much rather do without.

“Is that him?”

“Him who?” Eren asked, pocketing his phone and picking his pen back up to return to studying. Studying was safe. This conversation? This was not safe.

“Levi.”

Eren frowned down at his book, hand tightening around his pen before he threw it down and stood. His chair scraped loudly against the floor, a few people turning to see what the noise was, but he ignored it and began closing all of his books, throwing them into his bag.

“I’m done for the night. Going back to my room.”

Marco seemed to have realized he’d said something he shouldn’t have, because he didn’t offer to go with him like he normally would have.

Shoving the last of his items into his bag, Eren pulled the strap over his shoulder, muttered that he’d see Marco later, and then turned to leave. He had to go down two flights of stairs before finally leaving the library, the cold winter air biting into him. He should’ve worn a warmer coat, but their dorm was only about ten minutes from the library, so he sucked it up and began walking.

He scowled at the ground angrily, wondering why he hadn’t deleted the photo. He had no reason to keep it. After all, he’d ensured he deleted Levi’s number, along with Hanji’s. He’d deleted him on XBox, blocked his email, and basically done everything in his power to minimize his reminders of the asshole.

And yet, he still had all his text messages in his phone, never having deleted the chat. He also still had photos of both the girl who was supposed to be Hannah, and Levi. It was like he wanted to let go 99%, but that last 1% wouldn’t let him. He couldn’t bring himself to just delete everything entirely.

But why?! It wasn’t as though he liked Levi! He’d been a good friend until he’d lied, so it wasn’t like Eren was willing to forgive him for his asshole cowardice. Some days, he even wished he could call him to yell at him and tell him he hoped… actually, he didn’t know what he would yell at him.

Mostly he just wanted to scream and rant about everything. He hated that Levi had made him never want to be in a relationship ever again. Not if it hurt this much to have been in one and then break up. Not that they’d really been in a relationship.

Though, hadn’t they been? Really? They may as well have been, given how they acted with one another.

And if he was honest... it had been nice. At first, before it got all fucked up. He’d liked it. He’d liked Hannah. Which he supposed meant he liked Levi. And now he was pissed again for being lied to and—

“It’s over!” Eren screamed angrily, a few people passing by giving him startled looks. “It’s done! It’s over! Stop thinking about him!”

Two months, four days and counting, and Eren still couldn’t stop thinking about Levi.

Some days, he worried he would never stop thinking of Levi.


“So what do you think?”

“I think you’re setting yourself up to fail,” Armin said with a sigh, eyes on the time and wondering how much longer the call was going to be. Not because he wasn’t interested in speaking to his friend, but because he was supposed to meet his girlfriend for dinner and she would probably break his knees if he was late.

Actually, that was unfair. He knew she’d never hurt him, she was just terrifying. He still couldn’t believe he’d had the balls to ask her out.

Not that he told anyone he was the one who’d asked her out. Eren and Jean would never believe him and he was worried of what his girlfriend would do to them if they teased him about it in front of her. Best to keep the topic off the table overall.

“What? Why?! I think he’ll be thrilled!”

“If by thrilled, you mean annoyed and frustrated, then sure, he’ll be thrilled.”

Jean let out a loud huff on the other end, clearly unhappy with Armin not being on board with his plan. It wasn’t that it was a bad plan, and were this for anyone else, it would actually be thoughtful. But this was Eren they were talking about, and Armin was positive nothing good would come of this.

Eren was the kind of person who liked to be left alone when he was upset, proof of that having been the last few months. He didn’t want company, he didn’t want sympathy, he just wanted to be left alone so he could pretend none of it had ever happened. Jean showing up unexpectedly out of the blue was only going to make things worse, in Armin’s opinion.

Apparently Jean’s exams were all blocked in the first week of exam period, which generally fell around the second or third week of December, depending on the school. Jean would be finished all of his exams by the time Eren even started his, so the genius’ plan was to go to Eren’s school and hang out with him until winter break started, then the two of them could fly home together.

Again, thoughtful, but not exactly what Eren would want right now. Not to mention having Jean around during exam period was only going to distract their friend and make it harder for him to study. It would honestly be best not to stray from the norm. They all did their exams, they all went home in their own time, they met back up once they’d all landed.

“You don’t even like flying, Jean,” he reminded the other student. “You throw up every time you have to get on a plane, and knock yourself out with Gravol the second you’re sitting down.”

“Well, I’d do it for Eren. Besides, I haven’t seen Marco in almost a year, I need to show him some love, too.”

“He is also going to be studying for exams, Jean.”

“Eh, he’s already ready for the exams, he’s just a worrier, is all.”

“Not everyone is taking easy courses like you, Jean,” Armin said with a sigh.

“What’s that supposed to mean?!”

Armin didn’t bother to answer, instead telling Jean he had to go and that his friend could do as he liked before hanging up. Dropping his phone onto his desk, the genius rubbed at his face with both hands, finding this to have been the most stressful semester he had ever experienced.

And it wasn’t even because of the courses. While, yes, they were difficult, he found he was spending so much time worrying about Eren he didn’t even have time to worry about his coursework. He just wanted everything to calm down, he wanted Eren and Levi to have a discussion and hash everything out. Even if they didn’t ever speak again afterwards, that didn’t matter, as long as they sorted everything out. It wasn’t healthy to have Eren so angry all the time, and as far as he understood from his last conversation with Mikasa, Levi was also suffering, even if he wouldn’t admit it to anyone. Not that they expected him to admit it to Eren’s sister, but still. It was clear the two needed to talk, even if just to lay everything out on the table and have some closure. He didn’t think that was unreasonable.

Then again, for all he knew, Levi had called Eren and his friend either hadn’t answered, or had hung up upon realizing who was calling. He doubted Eren would admit it to anyone if he’d spoken to Levi.

Armin really hoped he did speak to Levi if the other called. They needed to talk, and this whole thing was getting ridiculous.

He was far too young to be sprouting grey hairs.


“Thank you for inviting us to dinner, Petra!” Hanji grabbed said woman around the waist when she walked by and hugged her tightly. “Levi and I were starting to rot from the inside ordering take-out all the time.”

“I know, it’s why I thought it was time to give you real food,” she teased, pulling herself free and continuing to set plates of food down on the table. Levi and Hanji had offered to help, but she’d insisted they were guests and didn’t need to trouble themselves. Then she’d stared pointedly at Erwin until the older man had coughed and stood to help her.

“How have the night classes been going?” Levi asked, watching Erwin exit the kitchen with two different plates of food, setting them down in the middle of the table before disappearing once more, Petra on his heels.

“Good, actually! Thanks for asking, Levi!” She disappeared through the door, and when she re-emerged with Erwin, it looked like the last of the food was coming with them. “It’s hard, you know, between work and the internship, but it’s been going really well. I have a final next week, but I’m feeling pretty confident about it.”

“That’s good.” Levi grabbed the closest dish and began serving himself, the other three doing the same. They rotated the plates around so everyone had some of everything and began to eat, chatting amicably about everyone’s lives of late.

Levi didn’t miss the fact that everyone seemed very careful not to mention Eren when they brought up work.

“So Levi, what are your plans for your birthday this year?” Petra asked, slapping at Erwin’s hand when he reached for another pork chop with his fingers instead of using the tongs supplied.

“Haven’t thought of it much,” he admitted. “Probably the same thing as last year, except without Hanji.”

“Why without me?” His roommate sounded horribly offended.

“I plan on murdering you long before my birthday rolls around.”

“Are you still mad about the edible underwear I bought you the other year?” Hanji let out an explosive sigh. “I told you, Levi, I was expecting you to use it with me. Not my fault you didn’t pick up on the hint.”

Petra blushed so hard Levi almost felt bad for her, but Erwin just chuckled and slapped Hanji in the shoulder, insisting that was probably their best present for Levi to date. That made Levi very concerned about what he would be getting this year. He kept hoping for nothing, but he wouldn’t be that lucky and he knew it.

“Will you come by for dinner?” Petra asked. “I know you don’t like it when there are a lot of people, and we’ll have family here because of Christmas, but it’d be really nice to have you here with us for your birthday.”

“I’ll think about it.” Levi winced when he was kicked, hard, beneath the table. “Okay, I thought about it, I’d love to.”

“Great!” Petra’s smile was so wide that Levi couldn’t help but feel like she was truly, genuinely happy he’d agreed to come. He should’ve saved himself the kick from Erwin and just agreed to it from the beginning.

“So how’s work been going for you?” Petra asked, almost trying to sound too upbeat, like she wanted to make it clear she was asking in general and not trying to pry about Eren.

“Good,” Hanji said immediately, their mouth half-full of mashed potatoes. “I have this one client who doesn’t speak English very well, and he keeps calling me his ‘Bella,’ and while I know it’s Italian, it makes me picture myself as Bella Swan from Twilight.” They brought one hand to their forehead dramatically. “Oh woe is me! However shall I choose between Vampire Levi and Werewolf Erwin?”

“Why am I the Vampire?” Levi asked with a scowl.

“Why am I involved in this at all?” Erwin asked with a chuckle, taking a sip of his drink.

“What about you, Levi? How’s work been?”

Levi’s gaze rose slightly to regard Erwin before focussing back on the food on his plate, pushing a stray carrot out of his peas. “Actually, I was thinking of quitting.”

Silence. It lasted much longer than he’d thought it would, almost five entire minutes.

“What kind of job are you looking at, then?” Petra finally asked, speaking slowly, as if choosing her words cautiously.

“Haven’t really thought about it.”

“But Levi, you hate people,” Hanji argued. “If you had to—”

“Hanji.” That one word from Erwin made his roommate stop talking and they all lapsed into silence once more. It wasn’t until Petra had disappeared with their plates to get dessert that anyone spoke again.

“Is this because of Eren?”

Levi wanted to punch him for daring to say his name. Every time he heard it come from someone’s mouth, it made a piece of him crack irreparably.

“No, I just need a change.”

“Levi, you love this job. It’s easy and pays well.” A pause. “Is this because you’ve spoken to him?”

“No.” It came out hard, and sharper than he’d intended it to.

He saw Hanji and Erwin share a look out of his peripheral but ignored them, playing with the edge of his dessert spoon. He didn’t know what they would be having for dessert, but hoped it wasn’t too sweet.

“How much longer are you going to avoid speaking to him?”

“Hanji—”

“No, not this time!” Hanji snapped, something Levi never thought they would be capable of doing to Erwin.

Somehow, it seemed to startle the blond man into silence, Hanji turning back to Levi and continuing as if they hadn’t been interrupted.

“His sister called you, Levi. She wanted you to speak to her brother. She asked you to speak to someone she cares about, because she wants this fixed. At least call him!”

Levi scowled at Hanji, then shifted his gaze to Erwin. “You’re awfully quiet over there.”

“I’m not saying I agree with what Hanji is saying.” Erwin crossed his arms over his broad chest. “I don’t want Eren involved with you again, not after what he’s done. But I really need you to figure out what you want to do and stop moping around doing nothing. Either call him, or don’t, but stop acting like you don’t have a choice in the matter when you clearly do. If you won’t speak to him, then at least have the decency to stop acting out like a child.”

Anger raced through Levi, hot and fast, and his eyes narrowed. “Weren’t you the one who told me to let it go?” he snapped.

“That was before you started acting like this on a regular basis!” Erwin’s voice rose, which did nothing for Levi’s darkening mood. “Talking to Eren won’t do any good, but you won’t let this go, either! I need you to decide on what you want and stick to it, not this back and forth you’ve been doing since the two of you stopped talking!”

Petra took the angry conversation as her cue to poke her head out of the kitchen. “Levi? I could use some help in here. Do you mind?”

He said nothing but stood immediately, tossing his napkin onto the table and moving towards the kitchen door, entering it and allowing Petra to close it behind her.

Appreciating the save, he did as she asked when she gave him instructions, stirring various sauces and helping her pull some dishes from the shelves since she was just slightly shorter than he was. He was positive she could’ve reached them herself, but she had to find something for him to do.

“He’s just worried about you, you know that, right?” she asked him quietly while divvying up their desserts into four small bowls.

“I’m fine,” he argued, picking up two of the bowls. “I don’t even think of the little shit much anymore. I don’t see why he thinks I’m acting differently, I’m not.”

Petra offered him a small smile, and the look in her eyes before she walked away told him that she didn’t believe him even a little bit.

He chose to ignore that fact and followed her out of the kitchen, hoping the rest of the night ended quickly so he could go home.

He didn’t much like being around people anymore, which was saying a lot considering he hadn’t liked it much before, either.


It was cold, and extremely dark. His fingers felt like they were going to fall off. He should’ve worn gloves.

Realistically, he should’ve gone back to his dorm hours ago, but he hadn’t been able to convince himself to do that. He’d woken up in the middle of the night from a dream he couldn’t remember. It had rattled him to such a degree that he had to get out, so he did. He pulled on some clothes, grabbed his boots and hoodie, and had left. He didn’t even have his wallet or his phone.

Hell, he’d barely remembered to grab his keys.

He’d thought walking would help clear his head, but it hadn’t. If anything, it had only made it run rampant, trying to recall the dream and why it had upset him so much. He felt inclined to believe people had died or something, or he wouldn’t have felt this rattled about it.

But as always when left alone for too long, his mind wandered back down a dangerous road. Back towards Levi. Back towards how things had been over the summer, and how much he missed how happy he’d been.

And how much Levi had ruined it all.

If he’d known from the beginning that Hannah and Levi were the same person, he wouldn’t be so angry about it. Their relationship wouldn’t have progressed as it had, but still, at least he and Levi could still be friends. But after being lied to like that... it was like a betrayal. Eren had no idea how he could ever forgive him for that.

And to just leave it how he had! Like a coward! Levi had literally just... But then Eren didn’t even know that he was just a coward. For all he knew, he and Hanji were laughing about how gullible he was, even now. How they’d managed to fuck with Eren, and how funny it had been how thoroughly invested he’d become in the relationship that didn’t even exist.

His hands curled into fists, the action painful with how cold they were. He knew he should head back, but he didn’t want to. It would mean going back to his empty room, where everything he looked at reminded him of Levi. He was so tired of being angry. Of being upset. He was exhausted that this had happened at all and just wanted to hack into his brain and remove the memories of it all.

Night was always the worst for him. It was the one time of day he was truly and completely alone. The one time of day that nobody could keep him distracted, could help him pull himself out of this stupid rut he seemed trapped in.

And so, he walked. Wandering through the snow-covered paths and feeling slightly better whenever he passed by someone. He wasn’t sure what time it was, but in university, there was always someone wandering around somewhere, so he felt less alone, even if no one spoke to him. He just made up random stories about why people were out so late.

When he started to legitimately not be able to feel his fingers anymore, he started to get a little concerned and finally turned to trudge back to his dorm. It took him just under half an hour to make it back there, and when he wandered up the stairs, teeth chattering and limbs numb from cold, he was startled to find Marco sitting outside his dormroom door, phone in his hands and head leaning back against the wooden surface.

Approaching him, he must’ve made a sound because Marco’s previously closed eyes opened and he turned, lurching to his feet when his eyes met Eren’s.

“Eren! Where have you been?!” he demanded, looking both relieved and angry. “I heard you leave hours ago, and when you didn’t come back I tried calling you! Why didn’t you bring your phone? What if something had happened to you?!”

He felt bad for worrying him, but he hadn’t really considered Marco would care if he’d gone for a walk. Then again, it was freezing outside and the middle of the night, so any number of things could’ve happened to him.

Marco practically shoved him towards the bathroom, ordering him to take a hot shower while he grabbed him some new clothes and his towel, tugging Eren’s keys from his pocket and disappearing.

He obeyed, wandering into one of the stalls and stripping, turning on the water and wincing when it hit his skin. It didn’t take long for it to warm him back up, the water like needles on his frozen skin, and when he finally felt like he could feel his fingers and toes again, he turned off the water and stepped out.

Marco had slung his towel over the top of the stall door so he grabbed it and dried off, the chill beginning to seep in again since he was now wet and naked. Wrapping the towel around his waist, he opened the stall door and found Marco sitting on the counter across from him, texting furiously.

Probably Jean, which meant he’d get an earful.

“Here,” Marco said, reaching for clothes he’d brought in and handing them to Eren. “Change, before you catch cold again.”

Moving back into the stall and shutting the door, Eren pulled on the sweats and long-sleeved shirt Marco had brought him, using the towel to completely dry his hair before gathering up his old clothes and existing the stall, moving to head out of the bathroom. He heard Marco jump off the counter and follow along behind him.

They hadn’t quite reached his door when Eren heard buzzing behind him, feeling his muscles tensing at the sound and knowing what that meant.

“Hey,” Marco said softly, Eren reaching his door and opening it since Marco hadn’t locked it. “Yeah, he’s here.”

A hand touched his shoulder and he tensed further.

“Tell him to call my phone,” he muttered. “I don’t want to keep you up, you have an early class.”

“Will you answer it if he calls?” Marco asked dubiously.

“I will.” He turned to Marco and offered him as much of a smile as he could muster. “Thanks Marco. Sorry I worried you.”

Entering his room, he shut the door and locked it, pressing his forehead against it and closing his eyes, letting out a sigh. The light was on, his keys sitting on the edge of his desk. Eren moved to toss his towel and clothes into his laundry basket, and hadn’t even gotten two steps to his phone before it began to ring.

Pulling it closer to himself, he stared at the caller display, knowing if he didn’t answer, Jean would just call Marco back, which would bother him. So he sighed and picked up his phone, moving back to his door and sliding down so he could sit on the floor, leaning back against the hard, wood surface. Taking a breath, he answered the call and put it to his ear.

“I just went for a walk.”

“Yeah, at one in the morning. Which, by the way, was over four hours ago, asshole.” Jean sounded tired, like he’d been awake for hours, and Eren wondered when Marco had first texted him to say he was gone. He wished Marco hadn’t bothered. He was fine, after all.

“I just needed to clear my head.” Eren reached up with one hand, dragging it through his wet hair and tugging slightly, eyes sliding shut. “I wanted to take a walk. It’s no big deal. I didn’t mean to worry anyone.”

“You can’t fucking do this, Eren!” Jean snapped, voice rising slightly. “You can’t! You don’t fucking wander out in the middle of the night in the middle of fucking winter without your phone! What if something had happened to you? What if you’d gotten run over by a car? Jesus Christ, Eren, get your shit together!”

The hand in his hair tightened and he bowed his head now, feeling like having Jean yell at him was the last thing he needed right now.

“Jean,” he said, and wished he had the energy to feel startled at how broken his voice sounded because he’d have been able to fix it before continuing. “Is it meant to be like this?”

“What?” Jean seemed to have calmed down instantly, sounding a bit more worried now. “Is what meant to be like this? What are you talking about?”

Eren tugged at the hair between his fingers, gritting his teeth and feeling an itch behind his eyes. “I hate him so much. So much, Jean. I hate everything about him, and everything he did, but I can’t... It hurts just thinking about it. And I’m mad he didn’t call me that day. But I’m also glad he didn’t. But I miss him, and it hurts and I just want it to go away.” His head lifted so he could bang the back of it hard against the door, hand still buried in his hair. “Jean I just want this sick feeling in my chest to go away.”

He heard Jean let out a sigh on the other end, the sound of him shifting suggesting he was sitting up in bed. “Eren, I really wish I could answer that for you, but I can’t. The only people who could ever truly destroy me are you, Mikasa and Armin. Maybe Marco. But in terms of relationships, I just... I don’t know, buddy, I’m sorry. And I’m sorry you were put in this position because we teased you all the time. I wish we could take it back, but Eren—you don’t deserve to feel like this. I don’t know how to make it better, but I just want you to know that I will literally do anything to fix this. Just don’t wander around alone and depressed in the middle of the night, okay? If you never came back, I don’t know if I could handle it. Don’t let him do this to you.”

Eren tried to focus on his breathing. In, then out. In, then out. He felt over-tired and emotional, and he knew he’d be embarrassed about this in the morning, but right now he just felt like he wanted to sit there on the floor and cry over how fucked up his life had become because of Levi.

He was trying so hard to be angry at him, and to hate him, but he just missed him, and it was fucked up and stupid because he shouldn’t miss him, but he did.

“I’m gonna get some sleep,” he said. “You should, too. It’s already morning for you over there.”

“Okay. But Eren?”

“What?”

“Call me, okay? When you wake up later. Don’t go back outside and wander around if you need to talk to someone, okay? That’s why you have friends. They help you through this kind of shit, even if you think it’s ridiculous.”

“Yeah, okay,” he muttered. “I’ll call you later.”

“Okay. Get some rest, Kamikaze-Head. We’ll chat later.”

Eren just grunted in acknowledgement and hung up, dropping his phone beside himself and wrapping his arms around his knees, burying his face in them.

Fucking stupid Levi. Fucking asshole. He hated him.

He fucking hated him!


Levi stared down at his phone, one hand resting behind his head and the other slowly using his thumb to scroll through the messages on his screen. Every time a picture showed up, he would pause to open it, stare at it for a few seconds, then close it and resume his scrolling, reading through the back and forth on the screen.

He could hear Hanji puttering about in the kitchen, probably concocting some horrible, poisonous food-like substance to force-feed him later. He did his best to ignore them, brain turning over everything that had happened at Erwin’s a few nights ago.

Their evening had not ended well, and not even because of anything he’d said. It had ended with Hanji and Erwin fighting over who was right and whether or not calling Eren would solve the problem or make it worse.

Levi didn’t know whose side he was on, either. He wanted to call Eren, but also knew doing so might only cause more problems. It was why he’d put it off for so long, trying to decide what he wanted to do while simultaneously already knowing what he wanted to do.

He wanted to call Eren. He wanted to talk to him, to explain, to fix this. But it wasn’t up to him anymore. It was up to Eren on whether or not he would accept his call, whether or not he would even speak to him if he answered and realized who was on the other end.

“Do you know what I like about Eren?”

Levi jumped, not having heard Hanji approach. He quickly lowered his phone and tilted his head up so he could look at them, the other standing at the end of the couch where Levi’s head was positioned.

“What?” he asked, not entirely sure he’d understood.

“Do you know why I really liked talking to Eren? I mean, we both know why you liked talking to him, but considering I’m not interested in him in any way, have you considered why I enjoyed talking to him?”

Levi hadn’t, but he didn’t know that he cared anymore, so he said nothing.

Hanji continued anyway. “Because he was honest.” They fell into the armchair, one leg thrown over the side. “Eren is literally an open book, and he has no problems telling you how he feels, or what he thinks. He’ll blurt out random things about having threesomes with people, even if he finds it weird, because he’s too honest to keep that to himself.” They let their eyes explore Levi’s face slowly, analytically. “I’m not trying to tell you what to do, Levi, but Erwin was right the other night. You have Eren’s number, and whether or not you call him is entirely up to you. But you need to make a choice. You either call him, try and fix it or get closure, or you just move on and let him stay in the past where he belongs.”

He said nothing, looking away from them and lifting his phone again, staring at the messages he’d been reading. The back and forth between him and Eren from the very beginning of their contract. He could see the development in every text, and could tell exactly where his feelings had started to change based on what he’d said. There was a huge gap because of the period where Eren had been taken away, but the number of texts back and forth between them was somewhat astounding. He had never spoken to anyone this much before.

“Levi, you need to make a choice,” Hanji said quietly. “You can’t keep doing this to yourself. Call Eren, or delete his contact. Make a choice.”

Hanji stood up and walked away then, leaving Levi scowling down at his phone. He knew everyone was right, and he knew that it had gone on long enough, but he couldn’t just let Eren go, it was too hard.

And he couldn’t call him, either. That was even harder.

Moving out of his messages, he opened his contacts and moved down to the “E” portion, having renamed Eren in his phone from Shitty-Brat to his actual name once his contract had been cancelled. He looked at the numbers staring back at him, both Eren’s home number and his school one, and felt himself slowly beginning to panic.

Call or delete? Call or delete?

He scrolled to the options, hesitated, then hit the “delete” button. The phone prompted him, asking if he was sure, and he stared at the message for a long while, his screen darkening every now and then before he tapped at the edge to make it stay lit.

If he didn’t call him, he couldn’t keep his number. Wasn’t that the deal?

Closing his eyes and tapping the phone against his forehead, he swallowed hard, let out a slow breath, then tapped the appropriate option on his screen before tossing his phone away, hoping the fucking stupid thing broke into a million pieces, like the broken shitty thing currently in his chest.


“So he’s okay again?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say he’s okay,” Marco said, highlighting a portion of his notes before turning to his computer and beginning to type them out, holding his phone between his ear and his shoulder. “I mean, is he really okay anymore? I just meant that he’s acting normal again, and hasn’t gone out wandering through campus in the middle of the night since last week. Saying he’s okay is kind of inaccurate, but he’s bounced back and is at least acting normal again. He was whining at me earlier about having to study, and he just ran to the store to get some chips so he can invade my room and drop crumbs all over my mattress.”

“That’s pretty smart. Mess up your bed instead of his own. I wish I had a close friend here who’d let me do that.” Jean’s voice lowered when he spoke next. “Then again, if I had you close-by, I definitely wouldn’t be sleeping in my own bed. I’d be sleeping in yours.”

Marco felt his face warm, hating that Jean was so good at doing that to him. If he wasn’t such a monumental flirt, Marco’d actually consider trying to see where things could go. But he knew Jean, and he knew how he could be, so it was best to spare himself the pain he saw Eren in and leave things as they were.

“Then you’d be sleeping in your own crumbs and I’d go sleep in your bed,” Marco managed to get out, proud of how normal his voice sounded.

“Cold, Marco. You wouldn’t do that to me.”

“Sure I would.” Marco’s door opened then and his gaze shifted to it, Eren wandering into the room with three entire bags of food. “Uh, I gotta go, I need to stop Eren from turning my room into his pantry. Bye!”

He didn’t wait for a response and just hung up, eying the food Eren had just dropped on the floor before closing Marco’s door.

“What’s all this?”

“Brain food,” Eren proclaimed proudly, grinning at Marco. “I bought stuff for you, too! Here!” He dug through one of the bags before pulling out some kettle-corn and a large two-litre of Dr. Pepper, holding them both out to Marco, still looking incredibly pleased with himself.

“You know this is going to keep us up all night, right?”

“Isn’t that the plan? I have an English final tomorrow. You have a... what was it again? Sociology?” He shrugged. “Whatever, point is: we need brain food!”

“And you eating two bags of Ketchup chips is going to help your brain?” Marco asked doubtfully, eying the remaining items in the bags Eren had brought in.

“Yes. Yes it will.” Eren settled himself on the floor in front of Marco’s door, as if to stop any escape attempts on his part, and pulled out a two-litre of Gingerale, popping the top with a fizz letting loose and then drinking right out of the large bottle. Once he had a bag of chips open beside him in addition to the large drink, he dragged his previously discarded notebook closer and flipped through it, setting aside a few loose pieces of paper and reading through his notes while he munched on some chips.

Marco watched him for a while longer before returning to his own studies, but his mind continued to wander back to Eren. He was acting perfectly normal again, which was a complete one-eighty to how he had been a few nights ago, wandering through the snow in nothing but boots, jeans and a hoodie. He’d been like this all semester though, never really sticking to one emotion for long. If he wasn’t upset, he was angry—the most common emotion—or he was like this. Completely happy and jovial, as if nothing was wrong.

Marco knew Eren was still upset and angry, but it was like he could just turn the emotions off when he was distracted. Like he could focus on something else and stop caring so much about what had happened and how he felt about it.

Tapping lightly on the spacebar, he turned completely to Eren, as if to say something, then thought better of it and turned away, staring at his screen. He didn’t want to mention anything now, while they were studying for their exams. Eren had one the next day in the afternoon, and if Marco brought something up now, it would probably make him unable to focus, and he’s likely do poorly on his exam. It hadn’t escaped his notice that Eren’s walk through campus at one in the morning had happened the same day he’d brought up that photo of Levi. He felt guilty for having snooped, but he felt worse when he’d seen what it had done to him.

But it was so hard with Eren! How could any of them really know how he was feeling when he would shut down and turn into this happy little robot? Marco had honestly thought he’d be okay after they’d gone to dinner and then bed on that night, but he hadn’t been. He’d gotten up and left the dorm and been gone for four hours. In the dead of night. In winter. Wearing barely anything.

Marco knew Mikasa had spoken to this Levi person, Jean had told him as much, but so far nothing seemed to have happened. Or if it had, it hadn’t made things better. And it sucked, because Eren didn’t deserve to be feeling this way, but there wasn’t anything any of them could do. And he wished there was, but there really, truly wasn’t.

“Am I distracting you?”

Marco jumped, turning to Eren, the other staring at him with his wide green eyes, chip halfway to his mouth and pen poised above his notebook in his other hand.

“What? No.” Marco rubbed his face with both hands, then winced. “Maybe. I think I’m studied out. I should probably sleep, my exam is first thing in the morning.”

“Okay.” Eren closed his book and stood in one fluid motion, closing his chip bag and shoving it back into the plastic bag it had arrived in. He re-capped his drink and put it away as well, then began gathering all his things. “I’m gonna stay up and study a bit more, so if you decide you want company again, let me know.”

“Sure.” Marco smiled. “Thanks Eren. Good luck tomorrow.”

“You too.” He got a brilliant grin, then Eren pulled open the door and disappeared from the room.

Marco let his forehead fall onto his desk and released a small sigh. He really hoped Eren would be okay. The last thing he needed tonight was to find him wandering around in the snow again.


“I’m doomed!” Eren whined to himself aloud, dropping his pen and slumping forward on his desk, head banging loudly against the wooden surface. He let out more nonsensical whines while his face sat pressed against his English notes. Why did he need to take English anyway? The symbolism from a book written back before the printing press had even been invented would really not get him anywhere in life. He was never going to need to know this so really, it was a waste of time and he wanted to eat his stupid book.

He allowed himself exactly sixty seconds of annoyance and whining time before forcing himself back into an upright position. One of his pages of notes stuck to his face and he pulled it off, glancing at it before setting it back down.

Forcing himself back into the correct mind-set, Eren began to study once more, wishing and praying for a distraction even for just a minute. Maybe he could go bug Marco again, head out for some late-night snacking at the McDonalds down the road.

He talked himself out of that fairly quickly, knowing his neighbour was fast asleep by now considering he had an eight am exam and he’d literally been told not two hours ago that he was going to bed. Eren figured he could always go alone, but he didn’t do well walking long distances without someone around to distract him, and Jean and Armin were in time zones further ahead of his. Mikasa was an option since she was a few hours behind him, but she wasn’t really much of a talker, so that wasn’t going to help him.

Besides, if he went outside now, at this hour, he was likely to get chewed out for “wandering the streets in the dead of night in the middle of winter” again. Even if he had an actual goal this time and would be bringing his phone. It was best not to test fate. Besides, he had chips... kind of. He’d finished an entire bag already and was worried opening a new one would have him unable to stop until he puked. Best to keep it closed and save it for another exam.

Resigning himself to his fate, he began reading again, his eyes seeming to cross and making it hard to focus on the words on the page. Maybe he should just go to bed? No, he had to study as much as possible for this exam, or he would fail it. Still, a small distraction would be nice.

When his phone rang loudly from the shelf above his bed, it was like his prayers had been answered and he leapt happily to his feet, jumping onto his bed and reaching for his phone. When he grasped it, he unplugged it from the charger and brought it down to see who it was, hoping for Jean but knowing it was likely Mikasa given the time differences.

The number staring back at him was unknown, not having been programmed into his phone. The ten numbers blinked back at him and he frowned, wondering if it was his boss again. The man had a lot of different phones, but Eren felt like he’d memorized most of them by now, and he didn’t recognize the number staring back at him. He wondered if maybe it was another place he’d dropped off a resume—not that it mattered now since he had a job—but felt that was unlikely. Why would they be calling him at eleven-forty at night on a Thursday? Shrugging, he figured he’d never find out without answering, so he did.

“Hello?”

Silence. He quickly pulled the phone away to ensure the call had connected, and the screen confirmed it had so he pressed it to his ear again.

“Hello?”

Still nothing. This seemed like his boss, his phone always messed up in the dead zones. Or if it wasn’t, maybe it was a bad connection? Or a butt-dial that magically hit every button needed to dial his number?

Just when he opened his mouth to speak again, the call disconnected. Frowning, he pulled the phone away from his ear once more and stared at the screen. He didn’t know why, but he truly felt like the call had been important. He didn’t feel like this was his boss.

He waited a few seconds to see if they would call back, but when nothing happened, he hesitated before going to his received calls tab. He couldn’t explain it, but he really felt like he had to talk to this person, he didn’t want to leave the call like this. Pausing for only half a second, he tapped on the unknown number and his phone confirmed he was calling back.

Placing it to his ear, he waited for one ring. Two. Half-way through the third, the line clicked.

Silence.

“Hello?” he asked uncertainly.

Another long silence, and he was ready to just give up and end the call when he heard someone breathing on the other end. So the call was fine, they just weren’t talking.

I swear to God, if this is a prank call—

“Eren.”

It felt like someone had just injected fire straight into his arm. It shot up through his body so quickly, he almost felt like he would vomit.

He hadn’t heard that voice in—in months. It had been so long and in some respects, the feeling that had just assaulted his body at that one word wasn’t even necessarily a bad one. He had no idea how to feel, how he should feel.

Hang up! his brain ordered.

His arm refused to move. His body sat frozen, refusing to obey. A part of him wanted to hang up, it really did, before he scratched too much at his still-healing wound. Another part of him—and he had never realized how powerful this part was until now—insisted that if he hung up, this was it. It was over. He would never hear this voice again for as long as he lived.

Why now? Why was he calling now? After all this time. All these months. Why was Levi suddenly calling him out of the blue like this right now?

“You haven’t hung up,” Levi said quietly.

“Yeah.” Eren didn’t know what else to respond with.

“How are you?”

“Busy.” While he was partly terrified of getting too close, he also knew that being curt and abrupt would end the call faster, and he felt like he didn’t want that. God knew why, but he didn’t. “Finals and all.”

“Right. School. I forgot. I called so late, too. I wasn’t thinking.” Eren noticed he was very careful not to say the word “sorry.”

“Yeah.”

Silence.

“Still working?”

“Not as much. I took some time off and got some clients cut. Forced vacation from Erwin. Thinking of quitting, actually, so I think he’s trying not to overwhelm me.”

“Oh.”

He didn’t know what to say. Why had Levi even called him? Especially if he was going to sit on the other end and breathe like a creeper?

Contrary to his feelings of even half a second ago, Eren suddenly wished that if Levi had something to say, he’d get it over with and hang up.

Hearing his voice hurt. Wanting to talk to him hurt. Missing him hurt. He didn’t want to keep this call going for long, he wanted to get it over with and go back to studying. He was starting to claw the wound back open and it hurt. God dammit, it hurt!

“I realize you have exams, but I was hoping we could talk. About—what happened that day.”

He was talking about that thing Eren never wanted to talk about ever again. Fuck, Eren really couldn’t handle this the day before an exam!

“I’m kind of stressed right now,” he insisted, feeling the ache in his chest worsening. “Finals.”

Levi said nothing to this, and Eren was ready to tell him he had to go and hanging up but just before he got the words out, Levi said one word. One word, and it made Eren hesitate.

“Please.”

He didn’t know what made him pause. It wasn’t the word itself, so maybe the tone? The softness of his voice? The complete and utter defeat in the way he’d said it?

Something about the way he’d spoken that one word made Eren rebel against his brain—still screaming at him to hang up—and he sat down properly on his bed, bringing his legs up and crossing them over one another.

“Five minutes,” he whispered, against his better judgement. “Get the basics out, and I’ll let you know if they’re up or not.”

Unfair, and he knew it, but he was in enough anguish over this as it was just hearing his voice. If he spent too long talking to him, he would lose it. It was bad enough he still partly loved the person on the other end, he wouldn’t be able to handle it if the feelings came back fully after everything that had happened.

“I’m not good with people. Half the time when I say things, they come out differently than how I mean them. So bear that in mind right now, please. And feel free to call me out on something.”

“Okay.” He didn’t know what else to say, so he left it at that.

“When your profile came in, Petra was overwhelmed. She had an internship, night classes for her upcoming job, and this job. She also wouldn’t have been able to pull off the girlfriend you asked for, so when all that came up, Erwin called me and asked if I’d take you. You didn’t want calls, and pictures would be easy to get between Petra and I.

My first reaction to his request was to laugh and tell him to fuck off, because he’d never asked me to be a girl before. He knew better. But I read your profile, and I liked your honesty, so I ended up saying I’d do it. I didn’t know what to expect, but figured it would be the same as with the guys I already had, I’d just need to be more girly in my texts.

You annoyed the piss out of me at first. Always messaging me, always trying to make friendly, acting like I was an acquaintance who was doing you a favour as opposed to someone you were paying. I hated it and wished I’d never agreed to take you on.

I can’t say when things started to change, but I noticed the shift when you needed the friend profiles. Efficiency and speed made Hanji and me the logical choices. Hanji knew about you, they’re my roommate, and we could set the profiles up quickly. With me, well, you were already my client so I barely had to do anything.

When we started talking, really talking, I realized that there was something different about how I viewed my relationship with you compared to my relationship with other people. I started being happy when my phone went off instead of dreading it. I played more Halo than I ever had in the past. I found myself enjoying all the times I got to talk to you.

And then your appendix burst. And you were giving up, you were dying. I couldn’t sit here and listen to you die, I couldn’t handle you dying. So I did something stupid, and I admitted how I felt, not really acknowledging the implication of my words. You thought I was Petra, and at the time, in my desperation to get you to your phone, that was okay. It wasn’t going to hurt anyone.

But then you got better. Not that I’m upset you got better, but just that everything went wrong after that, because you knew how I felt about you without knowing who I was. You thought I was Petra, and I didn’t have a way to tell you that I wasn’t. So I said nothing and figured it would be okay, and that the feelings or whatever we had between us would pass.

But they didn’t pass. If anything, they got worse, and when I realized how deep I was, how much I actually cared, I knew I had to tell you the truth. I knew that I had to admit I was both Levi and Hannah, but that that didn’t make my feelings for you any less valid, or real.

And I tried to tell you, Eren. As time went on, every now and then you’d say something, and I would think that it was the best opportunity to finally admit to you who I was. But then I talked myself out of it. It wasn’t a good time, it was really late at night, you were out with friends, we were in the middle of Halo, I wanted to admit it verbally, and so on and so on. I found every minuscule way I could to talk myself out of admitting anything to you because I was worried about how you’d react. Things had progressed so far by that point that I didn’t want to tell you I was Hannah and then never speak to you again. So I just didn’t tell you and insisted to myself that it was for the best to wait a little longer.

That night, while we were playing, I hadn’t meant for you to find out. It was a slip of the tongue, calling you Lover, and I tried to fix it but the second you logged off, I knew you’d figured it out. And you reacted exactly how I’d expected you to. Disgusted and angry and horrified.

You wanted nothing more to do with me, because I’d lied. And yes, I did lie, but Eren, only about my gender. Nothing else was a lie, everything I told you, about my life, about my family, about my feelings for you, all that was true. I never meant to hurt you, I just didn’t know how to tell you without hurting myself, and procrastinating hurt us both.

And—I should’ve told you sooner. I didn’t mean for everything to get so fucked up, but Eren, I care about you. A lot. More than anyone else I’ve ever met. So even if we can only be friends the way you and Levi were, even if I’ll never be good enough to be a Hannah for you, please just... I really want to keep talking to you.”

Eren sat there, the words washing over him and his chest still aching and tried his best to see things from Levi’s point of view. He tried to appreciate that Levi had been in an impossible situation and he’d handled it poorly, through sheer fear, even though the other wouldn’t admit that.

Letting out a slow breath, Eren finally spoke.

“Time’s up,” he said softly, then forced himself to pull the phone away from his ear and hung up.

TBC...

Chapter Text

Levi felt angry. Not at Eren, of that he was certain, but for the first thirty seconds since he’d hung up, he felt angry and he couldn’t fathom why. Once that brief moment of time had passed, it occurred to him that he was angry at everyone who had insisted he call Eren. Everyone who had been worried and concerned about Eren’s feelings without giving a second thought to Levi’s.

Hanji he felt like he could forgive, mostly because he knew that they, if anything, cared more about his feelings. They thought maybe all of this could be fixed if he spoke to Eren. So Hanji he could forgive, given they probably hadn’t fully understood the implications of Levi’s call, and how this outcome would affect him. They’d probably been hoping for the best, but also acknowledged that the worst would provide closure.

Levi didn’t want closure. Levi wanted everything to be fixed. He wanted Eren to speak to him again. He wanted them to go back to how they used to be. But Hanji had had his best intentions at heart so them, at least, he forgave.

Everyone else though? Them he wanted to murder. Mikasa knew nothing about him, and didn’t even seem to have thought through Eren’s reaction. She had just insisted he call, almost promising him that Eren would listen to him and everything would be all right. She’d been wrong, even after being so adamant that Eren would talk to him. She knew nothing about Levi, she should’ve at least considered how he would fare after a conversation with Eren when they hadn’t spoken for so long.

When Eren hated him.

He felt as though he had honestly known this would be the outcome, but had still had the teeny, tiniest little shred of hope that maybe, just maybe, Eren would forgive him and they could talk things out. They didn’t even have to be anything, he just wanted Eren back in his life!

He didn’t know how to handle hearing Eren’s dismissal, knowing this was it. It was over.

A shadow loomed beside him, but Levi kept his eyes on the phone in his hand, almost tempted to hurl it away at the closest wall before realizing Erwin would kill him, since he was the one who paid for it. It was bad enough he’d cracked the screen the last time he’d tossed it across the room, if it stopped working altogether, he’d never hear the end of it.

“Are you okay?” Hanji asked cautiously.

“Of course,” was the immediate reply. “Why?”

Hanji said nothing, obviously unsure as to how to proceed in this case. Levi was fine with that, he wasn’t exactly a “sit around and talk about your feelings” kind of person.

Not to mention he’d literally just done that and gotten shit on for it.

Maybe this was for the best. Eren finally had some closure, and Levi knew without a shadow of a doubt that it never would’ve worked with a snot-nosed little pissant. They could move on. They could forget this had happened, and Levi would go back to how things had been. He’d go out, have a good time, and if the urge hit him, he’d go fuck someone.

No big deal.

He glanced up when Hanji forced his legs up and took a seat at the end of the couch, putting Levi’s feet on their lap and turning to the television, aiming the remote at it.

“What are you doing?”

“Watching TV,” was their jovial reply.

He knew what they were doing. They were trying to silently give their support without actually saying they were. And trying to be as subtle as possible about it.

While appreciative, he also just wanted to forget about this, and having Hanji try and support him when he was so emotionally crippled he didn’t even know how to feel...

Levi shifted and placed his feet on the floor, standing up and heading for his room. It was late, anyway, and he had no reason to stay up. He’d just go and try and get some sleep.

He was halfway down the corridor when his phone rang. He almost felt like ignoring it, but if he got another client complaint, Erwin would be annoyed about it and he couldn’t deal with that right now. He brought his hand up to glance at who was calling and felt a jolt pass through him at the name he found staring back at him.

Eren.

Hastily answering, he put it back to his ear.

“Eren.”

“Why now?!” the other demanded, sounding almost hysterical. “You had months, Levi! Months! You could’ve called me at any time! Hell, you could’ve called me right back after I told you to lose my number! I mean, fuck Levi, you could’ve called me back right now! And you didn’t! You didn’t! You didn’t then, and you didn’t now! So why call me at all?!”

Levi thought about Eren’s words, trying to answer his questions. Why had he called? He missed him. He cared about him. He loved him.

Why hadn’t he called back?

“I’ve never done this before,” he said quietly. “I didn’t know what to respond with. You told me never to speak to you again, I didn’t know what else to do other than listen to you.”

“You think I know what the fuck I’m doing?! Jesus Christ, Levi! You’re thirty-eight years old! Have some balls and recognize that you’re never gonna get what you want by giving up!”

He was right. Eren was right and that pissed Levi off because of course he was right. Eren always fucking was.

“If I had called you back that day, can you honestly tell me you’d have answered?” Levi demanded. “Because you wouldn’t have and I know it! You can’t get mad at me for doing nothing when trying would’ve had the same outcome!”

“You don’t know that! You have no idea how I’d have reacted! Shit, I have no idea how I’d have reacted so don’t think for even a second that you do!”

The feeling of hope he’d had when seeing Eren’s name on his phone was quickly disappearing. Things weren’t getting better like he’d thought they would, they were getting worse. Eren was getting angrier and it was making Levi defensive and angry and everything was going wrong.

“Do you know what you not calling back did to me? Did you even stop to consider for one second what that did to me?!” 

“What about what you hanging up did to me?!” Levi shouted angrily, feeling anger beginning to rise and his free hand curling into a fist. “You told me to lose your number Eren, so I did!”

“But if you actually gave a shit, you shouldn’t have!” Eren shouted back. He was likely waking everyone on his floor, but he didn’t seem to care. “Levi, you fucking admitted you were Hannah, and then never spoke to me again! Do you know what I thought?! I fucking thought this was all a sick joke! Make me fall for the girl on the other end of the phone, who ends up being an old dude who’s laughing himself stupid at my gullibility! That is what you not calling me back did!”

“Well I explained everything just now and you still hung up!” Levi accused.

“Do you think I have any fucking idea what just happened?! You call me out of the fucking blue during exam period to explain everything that happened while we were talking! I’ve never heard you say that many words in one sitting before, let alone actually something deep and meaningful! I still don’t believe it! I’m in fucking shock right now! Like, did that conversation even happen?! On what planet do you actually open up to people? You never open up to people!” 

“Maybe if you stopped being such a shithead, you’d realize I’m still a human being,” Levi said darkly.

“Oh, fuck you, Levi! Don’t act like this affected you more than me, you have no idea how I feel! You never bothered to ask! You just took everything I said and sat there waiting for someone to throw you a fucking bone. Like—how do I even know this is you being serious?! You’ve fucked with me once, you really think I can believe anything you say going forward? I mean—Jesus Christ, Levi! You didn’t even fucking call back! You never call back!”

Eren kept bringing that up. The fact that he hadn’t called. Levi didn’t know how to respond to that.

Wasn’t that what he’d wanted? Generally, as far as Levi understood, when someone said they never wanted to hear from you again, people listened. They didn’t immediately go against that person’s wishes, so he didn’t understand how he had done anything wrong by listening to him.

And just now? How did Eren expect him to call back after that?! Levi had literally poured his heart out—no easy feat for him, since he often forgot he even had one—and to just...

“Time’s up?” Levi asked quietly. “Really?”

“I told you, I was panicked!”

“You didn’t sound panicked,” he accused.

“I was off-guard! I didn’t expect what came out of your mouth, I didn’t know how to handle it! Hanging up was the easiest thing I could think of to do!”

The easiest thing. Levi felt anger boiling in the pit of his stomach again.

“But you know what, Levi? I fucking called back! I saw I was wrong, and I fucking called back! I didn’t sit here all ‘woe is me’ about this, I fucking did something about it! Do you know how long I waited after I hung up on you back then? Before I deleted my profile? Do you know how long it was?”

Levi opened his mouth. Closed it.

“Forty-two minutes!” Eren all but shouted. When he continued, he was speaking fast. It was as if now that he’d started, he couldn’t stop. The floodgates had opened and he just let loose. “Forty-two fucking minutes! I fucking waited for you, Levi! I thought maybe I was wrong, maybe it wasn’t a joke and you’d call back in a few minutes to explain. I thought maybe you were waiting for me to calm down, that you wanted to make sure I’d actually listen to you. I fucking sat there like a God damn loser just staring at my fucking phone, waiting for it to ring! I wanted it to ring so fucking badly and it didn’t!”

He didn’t know what to do. Eren’s voice was cracking. He sounded like he was in pain, like Levi had punched him in the chest. And he didn’t know what to do.

“And now you come back, three fucking months later, and expect me to be okay with it? Just—oh, it’s okay Levi, no problem, you only caused me fucking anguish and suffering for seventy-seven days, but whatever, water under the bridge!”

It was like a physical blow having that number spoken. Eren hadn’t paused, or hesitated. No, he’d given an exact number. He had given a number he knew because he had legitimately been counting the days since they’d last spoken.

Something Levi had resolutely refused to do, because it hurt too much. But Eren had done it, and it had probably been just as painful for him.

“You fucking destroyed me! You knew I was insecure, and that I’d never had a girlfriend before, and that everyone always thought I never would! Do you have any idea how happy I was when Hannah fucking said she loved me? Here was one person, one fucking person, who liked me exactly as I was! Who didn’t care that I had weird thoughts, or a temper, or that I was inexperienced as shit! She still loved me! And to have that ripped away—without you even trying to fix it! You just said ‘oh yeah, I didn’t lie about Hannah loving you, I’m Hannah,’ and you thought—like, what did you think?! That I’d be like, ‘oh hey cool, no problem’ or something?! No! I fucking wanted an explanation! I wanted that explanation, the one you just gave me, only I wanted it seventy-seven fucking days ago!”

It was difficult for him to find a way to give his input. He wanted to interrupt Eren, to explain to him his side of things, but he couldn’t. Because as angry as he was, he also understood. He couldn’t honestly say that, were their roles reversed, he wouldn’t see everything the way Eren did.

Someone admitted they were a man, and then never contacted him again. Even though Eren had told him to lose his number, he should’ve fought harder. Everyone around him knew how upset he was, so he should’ve done something. It would’ve been hard, but didn’t that mean it was worth it? Weren’t the hardest things worth the most?

“You fucking did this to me, Levi! You fucking ruined everything for me! I hate you so fucking much for what you did! For holding out on me like that! If you’d just been honest, if you’d said something instead of letting me find out how I did—Jesus Christ, Levi! You called me Lover? Really? Like, it didn’t occur to you that this could fucking happen?! How long were you going to wait before telling me?! Were you ever going to tell me?!”

This he did have an answer for.

“Yes. I was going to tell you. I just didn’t know when. Or how.”

“And you thought, what, me finding out by accident like I did was better?!”

“Of course not,” he snapped. “I just didn’t know how to tell you, so I didn’t.” It suddenly sounded like a really poor excuse. Like he’d been thinking about what shirt to wear and couldn’t choose one so he’d just left without putting one on. It sounded weak, and unconvincing, even if it was true.

“Fuck you, Levi!” Eren shouted. “Fuck you, and fuck your God damn stupid excuses! Fuck! I just—you have no idea what you did to me!” 

The last few words were shouted. They were too loud in Levi’s ear, but he didn’t pull the phone away, free hand curling into a fist again.

“You have no fucking idea!” Eren insisted again. “You should’ve fucking called me earlier if you wanted me to believe a single fucking word out of your God damn fucking mouth!”

Taking a slow breath, trying to calm himself down, he waited to be sure Eren was finished. The laboured, angry breathing on the other end suggested that he was.

“I should have called back,” he agreed in as calm a voice as he could manage. “I shouldn’t have just left it as it was. I’ve just never done this before, I’m not well-versed in what should and shouldn’t be done when someone tells you never to speak to them again. I didn’t know I was supposed to chase you.”

It was the wrong thing to say, and he knew it the second the words were out.

“Chase me?! Fuck, Levi! Is that what you think I’m pissed about? That I wanted you pining after me and chasing me until I spoke to you?! Are you fucking kid—” Eren cut himself off and let out an angry exhale. It was silent for a few seconds, and Levi didn’t bother trying to fix his mistake. He just waited for Eren to calm down.

“You know what? Forget it. I don’t have time for this. I have a final in a few hours. I’m hanging up now, and this time, don’t bother calling back.”

And then he hung up.

Again.

Levi hesitated before realizing he wasn’t going to fall for that again. Eren wanted him to call back, even if he said he didn’t want him to. So Levi glanced down at his phone and saw it was still on Eren’s name in his contacts from his earlier call. He hit the call button and put it back to his ear.

It went straight to voicemail. He’d turned off his phone.

“Hi there! You’ve reached Eren Jaeger, I’m not available to take your call right now. Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you. Thanks!”

The line beeped. Levi debated whether or not to leave a message, then decided he had to. If he didn’t, wasn’t he just proving Eren right?

“You need to tell me what to do,” he said to the machine. “Eren, you need to tell me how to fix this. How to get you to just talk to me. I know I fucked up, I get that, but you’re being a childish brat and you need to get off your high horse and realize I’m at least trying. What the fuck are you doing?”

He hung up, then stared down at his phone. Turning slightly to look behind himself, he could see Hanji still pretending to watch TV in the living room. He appreciated that they hadn’t said anything during his loud conversation with Eren.

“Shouldn’t have ended with that, should I?”

“Probably not.”

Cursing, he dialled Eren again. It went to voicemail instantly once more.

“I didn’t mean it the way it came out,” Levi said once the beep came. “Like I said, I’m not good with this kind of thing. Or with people in general, I just need you to understand that you’re not the only one who’s involved in this. I had to listen to you talk about how much you loved Hannah every day knowing you meant me when you didn’t even realize it. That sucks, Jaeger. It sucks because it means you never loved Hannah at all. You just loved the idea of her and—you know what? Fuck you.”

He hung up again. A small sigh from Hanji behind him and he cursed again.

Fuck, this really wasn’t his thing.

He dialled Eren again.


“—know what? Fuck you.”

“End of message. To save this—”

There was a loud beep.

“Message will be saved for ten days. Next message.”

“Okay, that wasn’t what I meant to say either. I’ve mentioned I’m bad at talking to people, right? Look Eren, I just want to talk. To have a conversation with you where you won’t hang up on me and where if I put my foot in my mouth, I have the chance to correct myself. I need this, Eren. I need this conversation with you. You owe me that. I took the first step, so now you have to give me what I want. You have to talk to me!”

“End of message. To save this—”

Another loud beep.

“Message will be saved for ten days. Next message.”

“It’s been brought to my attention that I sounded possessive and entitled. You don’t belong to me, and I get that, I just really want you to.”

“End of message. To save this—”

A beep.

“Message will be saved for ten days. Next message.”

“That came out wrong too. I didn’t mean I wanted you to belong to me. I mean, I do want you to belong to me, but just...”

A voice in the background, Hanji obviously trying to coach him so he didn’t put his foot in his mouth again.

“Eren, I just want to talk to you. Please. Just let me talk to you.”

“End of message. To—”

A final beep.

“Message will be saved for ten days. End of new messages. First saved message—”

Eren hung up his phone and tossed it onto the shelf behind himself, falling onto his back on his bed and throwing one arm over his eyes. Levi really did suck at talking to people, which was ironic given what he did for a living.

Then again, wasn’t it easier when it was fake? Levi could say anything he wanted because it wasn’t real. But this? This sounded real.

He wasn’t used to this Levi. He was used to the rude, crass, irrationally angry over a video game loss Levi. This one was... he didn’t know. He almost felt like he’d broken him. Like he had literally grabbed a hammer and smashed Levi into a million pieces and he was trying in vain to glue all those pieces back together.

And Eren didn’t know what to do. He wanted to tell him to go fuck himself, but he’d be lying if he said he didn’t miss Levi. As Hannah and Levi. As much as hearing his voice had hurt, it had also made him feel almost irrationally happy. It had been so long since he’d heard it, he’d almost forgotten what it sounded like. And fuck it all, he missed him!

But he wasn’t gay! So there was no way that side of their relationship would ever work out. So what was the point? Was it even worth being friends with him when it was technically a step backwards for them?

He didn’t know. And it sucked that he didn’t know. All he kept thinking about was how all the hurt and anger he’d been bottling up the past few months had just come out like word-vomit the night before. After his call, Marco had hesitantly knocked on his door to ask if he was okay.

Eren had felt like shit. He’d woken up his friend, who had an eight am final, because his personal life had gone to shit over an asshole on a website. And it had taken him almost twenty minutes to convince Marco that he was fine and that he should go back to bed.

Which of course had lead to a call from Jean. Not that he hadn’t appreciated it, but it just meant that Marco wasn’t sleeping because he was probably texting with Mikasa while Jean spoke to Eren. Even though Eren was fine! He was! Levi was a giant asshole, but Eren was fine!

It had taken an obnoxiously long time to get everyone on the same page, and he’d had to reassure Jean four times that he wouldn’t go out for a midnight walk. He hated that this had happened, because not only had it fucked with him mentally, it was exhausting his friends and he hated how worried they were about him over this.

Annoyed with feeling this way, he reached for his phone, scowling at it angrily as if it were the source of his anguish. Which, really, it kind of was.

He hadn’t had this sort of experience before, and fuck Levi for ruining his first everything.

Opening his text messages, he typed out a few texts, firing them off without too much thought, then hesitated on the last one. Scoffing at himself, he sent it, then tossed his phone back onto his shelf.

Thirty-seven seconds later, it trilled.

He waited a full minute before grabbing it and checking who it was from.

“Of course,” he muttered.

[JaegerMeister]
I failed my English final. Who needs English Lit anyway? Why is that even a requirement to graduate?

[Unknown Number]
If it wasn’t required, they wouldn’t be able to justify the overpaid English professors they keep around.

[JaegerMeister]
I guess.
[JaegerMeister]
English is dumb.
[JaegerMeister]
How do we know for sure when that one guy talked about a lamp in his room he was using it as symbolism for the love of his life and wasn’t just describing a fucking lamp?

[Unknown Number]
I guess we don’t, but isn’t it more fun to look at nothing and turn it INTO something?

Eren’s fingers stilled, unsure of how to respond to that. Fucking hell, they were talking about his English final, how did the asshole manage to turn this back around onto their not-relationship?

[JaegerMeister]
What if there was nothing to turn into something?
[JaegerMeister]
What if it was already something and the attempted symbolism ruined that something by trying to turn it into something else?

[Unknown Number]
We’re not talking about the lamp anymore, are we?

“You started it,” Eren muttered.

[JaegerMeister]
I’m just saying
[JaegerMeister]
It’s a lamp. It was happy as a lamp. It didn’t need to be a symbol for the love of the author’s life.
[JaegerMeister]
Why change the perfectly happy lamp into a sad and depressing symbol of unrequited love?

[Unknown Number]
Maybe because the risk of ruining something by making it a symbol was worth it.
[Unknown Number]
Where’s the fun in life if no risks are being taken?
[Unknown Number]
Doesn’t that just mean you’re only looking at the lamp as a lamp instead of the possibility of a symbol of love?
[Unknown Number]
Isn’t that boring?

[JaegerMeister]
Lamp wouldn’t be lying about what it was if it stayed as a lamp.

[Unknown Number]
ok fuck the lamp eren
[Unknown Number]
what do you wamt me to say?
[Unknown Number]
what am i supposed to DO?
[Unknown Number]
you’re being a child. i’m tryinto fix this and all you do is hang up pn me and talk about lamps!

[JaegerMeister]
EXCUSE me asshole!

[Unknown Number]
i told you what i wanted

[JaegerMeister]
whos the ine who left me FIVE messages that all endwd with you SWEARING at me?!

[Unknown Number]
and that i’m fine if we stick to being friends but you’re just being a little shit about it!

[JaegerMeister]
don’t put this all on me dickqad!
[JaegerMeister]
you had MONTHS levi!
[JaegerMeister]
MONTHS!!!!!

[Unknown Number]
iou told me to lose your number!

[JaegerMeister]
snd you just SAT there without sayinga word!
[JaegerMeister]
im talking about beforw asshole!
[JaegerMeister]
om talking about the months as HANNAH!

Eren was in the middle of another typo-riddled angry text when his phone rang, the same ten digit number as the previous night flashing on his screen.

He answered.

“Don’t put all the blame on me! That’s bullshit, Levi, and you know it!”

“Well what have you done during all this?! Besides bitch and whine about me not admitting I was actually Levi?! How do—”

“Is that even your real name?” Eren demanded, interrupting him. “Or is that a lie too?”

“I will come beat the shit out of you, Jaeger.”

“Go ahead!” Eren shouted. “I dare you! I fucking dare you to show your coward-ass face!”

Silence. Eren thought he’d hung up.

And then, ever so quietly, Levi spoke.

“Be careful what you wish for.”

The call ended.


“I want to rip his fucking face off! I swear to God, I’m going to turn into a rabid wild animal and just maul his face! Just tear right into the flesh and yank hard and—”

“Okay, let’s take it down a notch,” Jean insisted with a wince, having put his phone down on his desk so Eren wasn’t screaming in his ear. It wasn’t even on speaker and he could still hear him clearly, his friend screaming so loudly it was impossible not to hear him.

“Have you listened to a fucking word I said, Jean?! The asshole had the gall to call me during exam period, and practically blamed me for all the shit that happened! He’s the one who fucking lied! He’s the one who let things get this far! He’s acting like this is all on me! Like I’m the one who decimated his entire being! Does he not realize what he did to me?! No! He’s too fucking busy thinking about how he was wronged to consider that there were two fucking people involved in this entire ordeal, and the one who was truly wronged was fucking me! I deserve to be angry and pissed and hateful! He has no fucking right to blame me for his hurt feelings when he fucking started this whole thing in the first place! I’m so fucking angry I could kill someone!”

“Yeah, let’s not do that, you’re too pretty for jail.” Jean let out a small sigh, wondering why any of them had thought this would be a good idea.

When Armin and Mikasa had first pitched this, the whole Mikasa joining the program to talk to Levi thing, he’d been all for it. Get the truth, find out if he honestly did like Eren or if it was all a joke. When he’d confirmed he liked him, Jean had thought that everything could work out if he and Eren just spoke, sorted through their feelings.

How could he have been so stupid?

He’d gamed numerous times with Levi, he knew what kind of person he was. And he’d been best friends with Eren since diapers, he knew how stubborn he was. Levi didn’t stand a chance against someone as stubborn as Eren. He felt wronged—rightly so—and he wasn’t going to forgive the one who’d wronged him.

Not without a lot of abuse from someone beating reason into his head. Usually that was Jean, but they were an entire country apart so he couldn’t do that right now.

“Eren,” he said, interrupting another one of his friend’s tirades on how he was going to become a cannibal. “Eren, shut up.”

“Fuck you, Jean!”

“Eren, just shut up for a second and listen to someone other than your own angry inner voice!” Jean snapped, managing to stun Eren into silence. He picked up his phone then, feeling his eardrums would be a little safer. “Is Levi a dick? Yes, he is. He’s a monumental dick. But shouldn’t you be cutting him a little slack right now? He called you because he cares. Yeah, it was later than it should’ve been, but he did call. He actually does care, and he wants to know what he can do to fix it. You yelling at him and getting your hackles up is only making him defensive which is making this turn into a huge clusterfuck. Just have a normal conversation with him! I mean, what do you want from him? Truly. What is it you want him to say to fix this?”

Silence. He suspected as much. Eren didn’t know what Levi should do to fix it.

“Apologize,” Eren said, his voice low and dark.

“For what? Dude, I’m not taking his side, I’m just—”

“No, I want him to apologize. I want him to honestly tell me that he’s sorry for what he did, for deceiving me. I want him to make it clear to me that he does feel bad things got out of hand.”

Jean frowned. “Hasn’t he already?”

“He’s been extremely careful not to let the words escape him,” Eren said coldly. “He’ll sit there and explain to me why it happened until he’s blue in the face, but the word ‘sorry’ has not once come out of his mouth. Do you really think I believe anything else he says without him actually admitting he’s sorry? It’s one fucking little word, how can he be avoiding it? Him not saying it means he isn’t. Not really.”

It seemed a little childish to Jean, Eren not forgiving someone because they hadn’t apologized, but his friend always did see things a little differently than most. And really, he couldn’t fault him. Levi not apologizing for hurting him seemed a little childish in and of itself. Sorry was just a word, but it mattered to some people. Like Eren.

“Well, have you told him that?”

“Asshole hung up on me, I am not calling that fuckface back! He can go drown in a vat of poison lava!”

Jean cocked an eyebrow. “Is that it? That’s the best you’ve got? Drowning in a vat of poison lava?”

“Shut up, Jean!”

Rubbing at his face with a sigh, Jean leaned back in his chair, and wondered when he’d become the group psychiatrist. Then again, Eren wouldn’t talk to Mikasa about this—too embarrassing. And Armin’s experience with love was pretty limited, given his one and only girlfriend who was fucking insane, in Jean’s opinion. Really, Eren’s only option was Jean.

“Allow me to play Devil’s advocate for a second,” he said, rubbing at his eyes with thumb and forefinger, pinching into the corners and sighing. “You want Levi to apologize for lying to you. Levi is asking what he has to do to make you forgive him. You won’t tell him you want him to apologize. Do you see the flaw in this plan?”

“I shouldn’t have to tell him! Isn’t it common sense?”

“Levi is as emotionally crippled as you are, I’m pretty sure you’d have to spell it out for him.” Jean’s phone beeped, alerting him of another call. He pulled it away briefly to check who it was, but knew he wouldn’t hang up on Eren regardless of the name he saw flashing back at him.

It was Mikasa. He’d call her back.

He put the phone back to his ear.

“Look Eren, do you even understand why you’re so mad right now?”

The other said nothing, so Jean continued.

“You’re mad because you’re upset.”

“Of course I’m upset!” Eren shouted, forcing Jean to move the phone from his ear again with a wince.

“No, dumbass, listen! You’re upset because you care! Because you’re happy he called you but he didn’t apologize or give you enough of a reason to forgive him, so you’re pissed because you don’t want to be upset, but you are! You need to just take a step back, calm down, and tell him what he needs to do to get back on your good side.”

“I don’t want him on my good side! What does it even matter? I’m not gay!”

“You don’t know what you are!” Jean insisted, getting angry himself. He was trying to help, and Eren being Eren, was as stubborn as ever! “You loved Hannah! Well Hannah was Levi, so really, it was Levi that you loved and that’s why you’re so fucking up—”

Jean let out an exasperated sigh when Eren hung up. Talking to him in person always worked better. Yeah, they beat each other up all the time, but at least Eren couldn’t escape from him when he said something he didn’t like.

Throwing his phone back onto his desk, Jean rubbed his face with both hands, annoyed and frustrated, wanting to help but knowing he’d pretty much done all he could at this point. The rest was up to Eren.

And Levi, he supposed.

It just irked him that Eren was so hung up on not being gay! Sure, Jean always said himself that he wasn’t into guys, but he could appreciate that if he happened to click with someone, he wouldn’t stop himself from exploring where things would lead just because of the other person’s gender.

If Levi had been a girl, even if he’d lied in the same way, pretended to be someone he wasn’t, Eren would’ve been over it. He wouldn’t be getting so defensive because truly, the reason he was so angry was because Levi was male. If Eren wasn’t so stuck on being straight, this wouldn’t be as much of a giant pain in Jean’s ass.

When his phone rang again, his hands were still covering his face and he wanted to ignore it, but he peeked between two fingers anyway to see who was calling.

Mikasa again.

Considering she’d called twice in the space of five minutes, he figured it was important and he shouldn’t keep her waiting.

With a sigh, he reached out one hand and pulled his phone back towards himself, answering it and bringing it to his ear.

“Hey, how’s it going?” He managed not to bite her head off, but he sounded less than enthused to be speaking to her.

“Jean. I need a favour.” He frowned at her words. “And you’re really not going to like it.”

Well. His night was shit anyway, what was another bout of bad news?


Smiling in thanks at the barista, Petra reached out for the two drinks they had set down on the counter, walking slowly back towards the table near the back of the tiny Starbucks where a brooding, sulking individual sat staring out at the people walking by.

She set his black coffee down in front of him before taking a seat, following his gaze and wondering what he was thinking. It was always hard to tell with Levi, he could be thinking any number of things.

“You don’t need to be here,” he finally said after a long silence, Petra sipping at her latte.

“I already told you I am more than happy to keep you company, Levi.” She smiled at him, thinking of reaching out to touch his hand before deciding against it. “Besides, this will give us the opportunity to talk about your birthday. It’s in just over two weeks, you know. I want to make sure everything is in order for you.”

He said nothing to this, which made sense since she knew he didn’t even want to celebrate it. He wasn’t much of a party person, unless he was feeling intimate and wanted to find someone to help him through that.

Playing with the edge of her paper cup, she pressed her lips together, trying to think of how to broach the subject of Eren. She still didn’t know the full story, only having heard bits and pieces from Hanji. All she knew for certain was that he had called him, and things had not gone well.

Erwin, of course, was no help there because he was still firmly dead-set against Levi and Eren interacting, seeing how much damage it had already caused and unwilling to allow it to continue. Petra, while understanding his point of view, felt like ignoring it was only going to make matters worse. They’d talked, it happened, it had gone badly. They just needed to work through it, move forward, not devise elaborate ways to kill Eren without anyone finding out.

Something which Hanji was really into before remembering they liked Eren and backing off, then remembering they liked weird shit more and jumping back on board before repeating the cycle.

Petra thought Erwin was being ridiculous, but she supposed he and Levi had been friends for a long time. Jean had threatened to burn down their house for his friend, it didn’t seem odd that Levi’s friend would try and find a way to kill Eren.

“So,” she said carefully, playing with the sleeve of her drink. “Did you want to ta—”

“No.”

She nodded, returning her gaze to the edge of the cup she was playing with. “Can I ask you a question?”

When he didn’t object, she licked her lips and made sure to tread very carefully.

“I just wanted to make sure that you understand what you’re doing. That you are aware that everything that’s happened, and what you’re feeling, and how you’re reacting… you know why this is happening, right?”

“I’m not that emotionally crippled,” he snapped, turning dark blue eyes in her direction, expression almost bored but eyes bright and full of anger. “I understand.”

“Do you?” she asked cautiously.

He turned his attention back to the people walking past them, coffee still untouched. Without a lid, it had likely gone cold by now, she doubted he’d drink it at all. A waste of money, in her opinion. Then again, he hadn’t asked for it, she’d just gotten it for him assuming he’d drink it.

“Levi, if you can’t even say it aloud to your own friends, you’ll never be able to say it to him.”

“He already knows.”

“Given the circumstances, perhaps you shouldn’t assume something like that.” She sighed, taking another sip of her drink and then licking foam off her lips. “I know the plan is to fix everything, but you need to remember that Eren is stubborn. More-so than you, which is saying something.”

Levi said nothing so Petra just let the matter drop, knowing pressing the issue would get them nowhere. He’d been like this for as long as she’d known him, and really, the only person who would be able to get him to smarten up would be Erwin.

Erwin, who again, was entirely and completely one-hundred percent deadset against the mere idea of Levi and Eren speaking again. When he’d found out Levi had called him, he’d been furious. Not only because he didn’t want them speaking and making things worse, but also because they had all been on the receiving end of Levi’s anger the past few months, and he was finally returning to normal. He was finally being more like himself again.

Him speaking to Eren terrified Erwin in a way the older man refused to admit. He didn’t want anything else happening to send Levi spiraling back down into the depression he’d been in, despite Levi’s constant claims that he was fine.

He wasn’t fine, an idiot could tell.

Even now, he looked tense, angry, hurt, and determined. He wanted Eren back, and the set of his shoulders and tenseness of his jaw made it clear he was going to get what he wanted no matter who he had to hurt.

Eren included, in this case.

Which, again, brought her thoughts back to Erwin’s plotting, hoping that she managed to calm everyone down before he sent Eren a pipe-bomb disguised as a burrito.

They sat in silence for a while longer, Levi constantly checking his phone, as if waiting for a message he knew wouldn’t come. Petra checked the time on her own phone, and before she could even say anything about the hour, Levi stood and shoved his phone back into his pocket.

“Let’s go.”

“All right.” She’d been hoping to have more time to discuss Eren, but in a way, she was glad they didn’t. Levi wasn’t really in a talkative mood right then.

Besides, he was right after all. They were going to be late, so she finished off the rest of her coffee and then bent down for her purse, Levi already walking towards the exit with his coffee and bag. He threw the drink out and disappeared into the crowd beyond the door.

Petra sighed and threw out her empty cup, following behind him. She lost him quickly in the throng of people, but didn’t concern herself with it. It wasn’t like she didn’t know where he was going.

She would find him at the end.


Eren had just failed another final.

True, he didn’t know his grade, but considering he had answered only two of twenty questions with any level of confidence, he felt it was safe to assume he was screwed.

Sighing, he raked a hand through his hair, then tugged, gritting his teeth and irritated about his distracted mind. If Levi was going to fucking pop back up into his life, couldn’t he have had the decency to do it after finals?

Wasn’t it bad enough he’d ruined his life, now he was ruining his education?

“Stupid Levi,” Eren kicked at a random rock on the sidewalk. It flew through the air and hit the side of an idling car.

He kept walking, ignoring the angry shout from who he could only assume was the owner.

Idling was bad for the environment anyway, the dick deserved it. He was killing the planet.

Feeling hot, Eren unzipped his jacket so that it hung open, the ends flapping slightly in the cool winter breeze. His hands were cold since he still wasn’t wearing gloves, and he was positive he was going to slip on a patch of ice wearing his sneakers instead of boots.

Eren’s fingers itched to grab his phone, wanting to check it for the millionth time that day to see if Levi had messaged him. After their explosive conversation two days ago, he hadn’t heard a word from him. Not that he was surprised, but still. It pissed him off. Like he’d told Jean, how was he supposed to believe a word out of Levi’s mouth when he didn’t truly seem to be making an effort?

Besides, he still wasn’t into guys. Levi was a fucking asshole with a bad temper and a dirty mouth. Eren was over him. Not that he’d ever liked him, but either way, over him!

Growling angrily to himself and trudging down a small hill and across the quad, Eren swiped his keycard when he reached his dorm and headed upstairs. He saw a congregation of girls hovering outside the common room, giggling and whispering to one another.

Frowning at this, Eren glanced in while passing by to see what the big deal was and felt his mood sour considerably.

“Fucking perfect. Just terrific.” He moved quickly past the room, still muttering to himself, wanting to ensure he wasn’t spotted. He had better things to do than entertain Jean, especially when the dickwad showed up unannounced. No wonder he was always failing.

Armin had warned him Jean was thinking of visiting, but he’d also assured him he’d talked him out of it. Apparently he hadn’t, because here the jackass was. Maybe, with any luck, he’d spend all his time bugging Marco and leave Eren alone to finish studying for his last two finals in peace.

And how had the poor-ass sissy boy managed to afford a ticket here anyway?!

“Doesn’t matter. Don’t care. Nope.” Eren stuck his key into his lock and pushed open his dormroom door. He ducked inside quickly, glad to have escaped notice, and froze with his door half-closed when he looked up and found someone sitting at his desk.

Holy shit, someone was robbing him!

“Hey! Who the fu—”

Eren didn’t get the words out. The second his mouth opened, the figure propelled themselves from the chair and he got a fist straight to the jaw.

Pain shot along the side of his face and he tasted blood in his mouth. Losing his balance, he stumbled sideways into his dresser, bag sliding off his left shoulder and dangling from the crease of his elbow.

He turned, assuming the figure had hit him to make a break for it, but the second he’d twisted around, he found the same fist flying at his face again.

This time, he managed to duck. Only years of fighting Jean saved him from another blow to the face and with a cry of rage, he tackled the unknown assailant around the middle, slamming him backwards into the opposite wall.

The asshole barely even grunted, both hands fisting the back of Eren’s jacket before a knee connected painfully with the student’s nose.

Blood instantly splattered across his skin and the floor.

It felt like fire had just spread across his face, and he was positive his nose was broken. His grip loosened on the attacker and he instantly got a punch to the kidney.

Crying out and arching his back, it gave the other enough room to tackle him, sending them both crashing into his dresser, where the unknown man started punching him repeatedly in the gut.

Eren couldn’t breathe. Dots danced in front of his eyes. He brought one hand down to try and block the blows, but he was too disoriented. His lungs were on fire, his entire body ached with pain. He had no fucking idea what was happening right now.

With a loud crack, he received another blow across the face, this one hard enough to send him flying sideways. Losing his balance, he half-fell onto his desk before hitting the floor, his attacker moving forward and managing one kick to his stomach before Eren’s door shot open.

“Hey! Hey! What the fuck are you doing?! No!”

He heard more than saw Jean wrestling the unknown man away from him.

Eren groaned, struggling up onto his hands and knees. Blood and drool dripped from his lips and he blinked hard, his vision swimming. His face felt like a mess, and he was positive his ribs were bruised. What the fuck?

“No!” Jean was still saying, voice rising angrily. “This is not why I brought you here! This is not why we’re here! What the fuck is wrong with you?!”

Jean knew this guy? What the actual fuck?!

Groaning again, Eren struggled to stand, using his desk to help him up. His jacket was half-hanging off one shoulder, and one hand lifted the bottom of his shirt, using it to wipe at the blood and drool on his face while furious emerald eyes rose to regard the fucker who’d been beating on him.

He was short. That was the first thing Eren noted when he looked at him. He was fucking short. Maybe 5’3”, if that. His black hair was cut in two different lengths, the underneath shaved almost to the scalp and the top layer much longer so that his bangs fell across his dark eyes. He had a hard-set jaw and very sharp features, the line of his face almost familiar in an unidentifiable way. Realistically, Eren felt this man was fairly attractive. Or he would’ve been, if he hadn’t introduced himself by swinging a fist at Eren’s face.

Given he was now being held by Jean, his friend having wrapped his arms clean around his unknown attacker, it left him fairly open so Eren took the opportunity. Stepping in quickly, he swung his fist as hard as he could, losing his balance in his messed up state, and clocked the asshole right in his square jaw before crashing into his bed.

“Eren! What the fuck! Jesus Christ!”

Eren heard the attacker struggling, as if trying to free himself from Jean’s grip so he could repay Eren for the hook to the jaw. In his defense, the asshole had started it.

“What the hell is going on?” Eren asked, voice coming out weird to his ears. He assumed it was because of his broken nose.

“Can you both stop hitting each other now and maybe we can all talk like civilized people?” Jean demanded, voice strained.

“He dared me to, I wasn’t going to back down.”

It felt like an electric jolt had just raced through Eren, from the roots of his hair to the tips of his toes.

That voice. He knew that voice. He knew who it belonged to. What it meant to be hearing it, here. Now.

Struggling to push himself up off his bed, leaving stains of blood behind on his comforter, Eren turned with a sense of horrified fascination and locked eyes with the person who’d just been beating the shit out of him.

No way. There was no way!

“Levi.”

“Dragged my coward’s ass out here to kick yours, Jaeger.” The man being held back said, eyes narrowed dangerously. “Will you fucking talk to me now?”

Jesus. Fucking. Christ!

TBC...

Chapter Text

The silence was heavy, seeming to weigh him down, pressing him against his bed. He stared at the figure still being restrained by Jean, letting green eyes examine every part of him, taking him in more analytically than before. He was shorter than Eren had pictured, always having assumed Levi was about the same height as him, but he barely pushed 5’3”. His skin was pale—vampire pale, straight outta Twilight—and his eyes were sharp and full of anger.

Seeing that snapped Eren out of his shock, wondering what the fuck Levi had to be angry about. He was the one who’d just gotten punched in the fucking face! And kicked in the stomach! And punched in the kidneys!

When he lunged off the bed to start beating on him again, Jean let out a shout and managed to pivot and put himself between Eren and Levi.

A dangerous place to be, since Levi immediately tried to dodge around him so he could rearrange more of Eren’s face than he already had.

“Ah! Stop it! Stop!” Jean was struggling to keep them apart, getting an elbow to the chin and a punch to the stomach for his efforts before managing to force some distance between them.

“What the fucking hell is going on in here?!”

Eren couldn’t help but freeze at the voice, not because of the inquiry, but because of who it had come from. He was lying on the floor with Jean’s left foot pressing on his chest, his friend holding Levi back with both hands.

Tilting his head up to the voice, he was still surprised to find who he’d known he’d heard. Since when did words like that escape him? Eren was pretty sure he’d never even heard him swear before.

“Marco,” Jean greeted, the name mostly a grunt since Levi was still partly struggling to break free. “How’s it going?”

“What are you doing here? Why is Eren on the floor? What happened to his face? Who is this guy?” He motioned Levi.

“All very good questions.” Jean managed to shove Levi back enough, the other finally giving up his struggles. His foot left Eren’s chest and he cast worried looks between the two, hands still out as if to push them both back should they try anything again. When it became clear they were both going to behave—for now—he straightened and winced, rubbing his chin.

“Marco, Levi. Levi, Marco,” he said offhandedly moments thereafter, motioning each individual while saying their name.

“Levi?” Marco asked slowly, eyes shifting from said individual down to Eren, who was still lying on his back on the floor. “As in…?”

He trailed off, but the silence probably answered his question. Eren grunted, rolling onto his side and reached up to touch his nose. Was it out of place? It felt out of place. He seriously thought it was broken.

“Um, can I…?” He heard Marco say, and a moment later, his friend was bent down in front of him, forcing him to lift his chin and inspecting his face. “It should be okay, it doesn’t look crooked so he likely didn’t break it. You’re lucky.”

“Isn’t this when you’re supposed to grab my nose and force it back into place?” Eren asked, voice still sounding nasally to his ears.

“This isn’t a movie,” Marco insisted with a small smile. “And it’s not broken, nothing to force back into place.”

“I can break it for you, if you want,” a low, dark voice said from behind them.

“How about we not?” Jean asked, still standing between Eren and Levi.

Eren’s head was pounding, and his face still really hurt. He was positive he was going to have, if not two, then at least one black eye. Terrific.

At least he could likely talk his way out of the traditional Christmas photo this year.

“Come on,” Marco said, patting Eren’s shoulder and standing, “let’s get you cleaned up.”

“Yeah, I need a word with Mr. Grumpy-pants over here,” Jean muttered, thumbing towards Levi and scowling.

His friend stood in front of the older man while he and Marco shuffled past, as if realizing he needed to keep some distance between them for now. Eren let Marco lead him towards the bathroom and once inside, he ripped a bunch of scratchy, brown paper towel from the dispenser, wetting it and starting to gently scrub at Eren’s face.

Eren, for his part, just stayed where he was leaning back against the counter, mind racing.

It hadn’t fully hit him until he’d stepped into the bathroom and had nothing to focus on.

Levi was here. Now. In his room. He had actually shown up, as if the dare had been the final straw for him. He’d shown up to kick his ass, and now Eren… he didn’t know what to do.

He had no idea what he was supposed to say to him right now. He felt like his brain was going to explode, and his entire body ached with pain. His ribs were sore, his stomach was killing him, his face was numb… If Levi was trying to make amends, he wasn’t doing a very good job.

And Eren had only managed to get one punch in, too. Pathetic.

“Eren!”

He jumped, eyes focussing on Marco, who was giving him a concerned look.

“What?”

“Are you okay?” He looked so worried, it made Eren feel sick. Did he look that pathetic? “You might have a concussion, I was calling your name for a while.”

“I’m fine,” he insisted, turning to glance at himself in the mirror and wincing. His face was a right mess. Terrific. Bruises around both eyes. He was going to look like a fucking raccoon. “Just lost in thought.”

“Right.” Marco didn’t look convinced, but he was a worrier so Eren just cleared his throat and pushed away from the counter, wanting to head back to his room and some privacy.

He made it two steps before remembering that his room wouldn’t be private right now. And Levi was there. Fucking hell, that guy couldn’t take a hint. Eren was done with him! What did he think coming here was going to accomplish?!

Hands clenching into fists, Eren grit his teeth, ignoring how much doing so hurt his face. He didn’t know what to do right now. He wanted to just be left alone so he could sort through his thoughts, grasp the situation a bit more.

Why was Levi here? To prove he didn’t back down from a dare? To talk? If he wanted to talk, why did he greet Eren with a fist to the face? If he wasn’t here to talk, then did that mean he’d done what he came for and would be leaving now? Was Eren hoping for that?

He didn’t know. He wanted Levi to leave, but he also didn’t. He was mad at him, but also felt a warmth in his chest at the thought of being this close to him. Fucking hell, he had no idea how he felt right then, his feelings were all over the fucking place.

“Eren?” Marco’s hand fell onto his shoulder. “Come on. Let’s get back.”

He didn’t want to. But he did. But he didn’t.

Fuck it all, he couldn’t make up his fucking mind! He was excited, and terrified, and livid, and in a large amount of pain. God dammit!

His feet were moving before he even realized they were, Marco’s hand firm and grounding on his shoulder. They approached his room, but before reaching it they could hear someone within speaking very curtly to Levi.

Eren didn’t recognize the voice, so it wasn’t Hanji, and when he turned into the room, he felt like someone had just punched him in the face again.

“—five seconds! I can’t even go to the bathroom without you doing something stupid! What was the point of having me come along if you weren’t going to listen to a word I said?!” The figure rounded on Jean. “And you! What were you thinking, leaving him in here alone?!”

“I was waiting for Eren outside! He snuck past me!” His friend looked terrified, which was a little strange to see considering he was currently afraid of someone who was shorter than Levi was.

Seeming to realize someone else was there, the figure turned, giving Eren a full view of their face, even though he’d recognized them from their profile.

It was the girl in the photos. The ones Levi sent when he was pretending to be Hannah. She was the girl he’d chosen off the website, and seeing her made him feel ready to vomit.

This was who he’d thought he was in love with, but in the end… who even was she? He didn’t know anything about her, didn’t even know why she was here.

There was an awkward silence for a few seconds, broken by Jean when he cleared his throat and motioned the girl.

“Petra, Marco. Marco, Petra.”

“Hello,” Marco said politely.

“Hello,” the girl—Petra—replied. “Sorry for the less than cordial greeting from Levi.” Her eyes flickered to Eren, and then back to Marco. “Would you mind—giving us a minute?”

“Sure.” Marco’s hand squeezed Eren’s shoulder, almost reassuringly, and then he let go, moving away. Eren’s door shut behind him and moments later, the door beside him opened and closed, Marco retreating to his room. He wondered if his friend would be pressing his ear to the wall, wanting to listen in. Marco wasn’t really the type, but Eren felt like even he would be curious enough to do something like that.

Jean let out a groan, rubbing his face and falling into Eren’s desk chair, seeming exhausted and annoyed, as if someone had forcibly dragged him there kicking and screaming.

“Well, this is going really well. Good job, Levi.” Jean brought both hands up, clapping slowly. “Slow clap for you on getting Eren to talk to you after you broke his face.”

Levi said nothing to this, and when Eren finally worked up the courage to look at him again, he found the other’s gaze locked on him, eyes intense. It felt like he was trying to burn a hole through Eren’s skull, reach right into his brain.

He looked away, crossing his arms defensively and instead focussing on the way his nose seemed to pulse with every beat of his heart. His face really did hurt a lot, not to mention his ribs. He was positive most of his body would be bruised by morning.

“Eren?” This was the girl, Petra, her voice soft and kind. He managed to shift his gaze towards her, but kept his face turned away. “I’m really sorry to be meeting you under these circumstances, but I was hoping that maybe we could talk. You and me, alone.”

There was movement behind her, Eren realizing it was Levi shifting forward. His hands were clenched tightly, and it was almost like he objected to Petra’s comment, about Eren and her going off alone to talk. Like he wanted to join them, but didn’t know what to say to make that a reality.

“Why?” Eren asked, recognizing he was being rude, but pissed off enough not to care. His voice still sounded off to his ears. “I have nothing to say to either of you.”

“Eren,” Jean said, voice a whine. “I was stuck with these weirdos for hours, at least talk to the nice one.”

He got a look from Levi for that, but either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Jean seemed ready to just throw in the towel and leave. Truthfully, Eren felt like he’d feel the same way too, if this conversation had been for his friend’s benefit and had started out this way. It was hard to feel like anything good would come of it.

“Come on,” Petra said with a small smile, reaching out to lightly hit Eren’s arm. “Let me buy you a coffee and we can talk.”

It was weird, hearing her speak like this. Hearing her voice, seeing her face. The words were wrong. She was meant to be crass and rude, and inappropriate. That was what he’s heard coming from her for months. That was how she was supposed to be. This was who he’d pictured all that time he was talking to Hannah. And now, having it confirmed, that she and PR weren’t the same person, had never been the same person, he felt anger rising once more.

It must’ve shown on his face because she looked startled and took a step back. Before Eren could act, before he could even decide what he wanted to do, he suddenly found his face buried in his comforter again, a forearm against the back of his neck and his left arm tugged painfully up his back, bent over the side of his bed and held in place in a strong, firm grip.

“You can beat on me if that’ll make your pissant little feelings less hurt, but you touch a hair on her head and you’ll find yourself in the hospital.”

Eren opened his mouth to say something but didn’t get the chance. His door opened again and suddenly the weight on his back was gone, a loud slam sounding near his window, and he really hoped he wasn’t going to have to pay for any damages.

“You touch my brother again and I’ll rip your face off.”

“Oh. Mikasa. You’re here. You came.” Jean sounded nervous, a laugh escaping him. “I see you’ve met Levi.”

“Who’s this?” she demanded, and when Eren stood, rubbing the back of his neck, he found Mikasa staring at Petra.

“Ah. Mikasa, Petra.” Jean motioned them each in turn. “Petra, Mikasa.” He paused, frowning. “What is this, introduction hour? Jesus Christ.”

Levi didn’t seem to like being pinned to the wall by a girl, because he slammed his arms down on Mikasa’s, which had been holding his shirt in both fists, and shoved her backwards. Not hard enough to have her stumble, but enough for her to be forced to step away.

Eren caught her before she went too far, glaring daggers at Levi.

“That’s my sister, asshole! Touch her again and I’ll fucking kill you!”

“Okay!” Jean shouted loudly, clapping his hands once and standing from the chair. “Okay, let’s everyone calm down! We’re all here to talk, and everyone’s getting a little bit protective and angry and I’m getting a headache! I am not Dr. Jean, so can we all just calm down and behave like adults?!”

Petra put her hand on Jean’s arm lightly, then turned to Levi. “Jean is right. We came here to talk. Can I trust you to keep your temper in check if we leave you alone?”

“I’m not leaving,” Mikasa snapped, eyes narrowed at Levi.

“Get out.”

Eren didn’t realize the words had come from him until everyone was looking at him. He didn’t even know why he’d said them. Honestly, he wasn’t even sure who he was talking to. All of them? Only a few of them? Everyone but one of them? He had no idea why he’d said that.

“Eren—”

“He said get out,” Levi’s voice interrupted, eyes narrowing at Mikasa. “So get out.”

“We don’t know who he was talking to,” she replied icily.

“Well, I’m getting out.” Jean inched his way around everyone to the door. “I’m getting right out. Petra, want to join Marco and I for coffee?”

“Please,” she said, following Jean.

It took a few seconds for Mikasa to finally concede defeat, scowling at Levi before turning to Eren and gripping his arm tightly, silently telling him to let her know if she should stay. When he said nothing, she searched his face before heading for the door. She touched the knob, starting to close it before pausing.

“I’m the one who got you here, Levi,” she said, turning to look at him. “Don’t make me regret it.”

She shut the door, and they were alone.


Levi’s heart pounded in his chest, thoughts going a mile a minute. He had no idea what he wanted to say, or do. He’d been banking on everyone else being there with him while he spoke to Eren, but now they’d all left and he didn’t know what to say, especially considering he’d actually legitimately beaten the shit out of Eren not ten minutes ago.

He still didn’t even know why he’d done that. He’d been so scared and angry about seeing Eren, and the second he’d opened the door it was like his body had just… reacted. Like he’d wanted Eren to feel as much of his pain as he could push onto him, like he’d wanted him to hurt as badly as he’d made Levi hurt.

And even now, watching him, seeing him wince and touch his side, seeing the bruising already forming on his face… He didn’t look like he hurt enough. He didn’t look nearly as agonized as Levi felt just being there, in front of him, staring at him.

He wanted to reach out and touch him, but he knew he couldn’t. If he tried to move forward, Eren would get defensive and they’d probably end up fighting again. But he wanted to be closer, wanted to actually have the opportunity to feel that caramel skin, run his fingers through his dark hair… Fuck, this was a lot harder than he’d thought it’d be.

“Are you stupid?”

The words snapped him out of his reverie, Levi blinking, confused.

“What?”

“Are. You. Stupid?” Eren repeated, saying each word slowly. “Did you think coming here to beat me up was going to make me forgive you? Because I’m not a masochist, so if anything, I’m more pissed off.”

“My body reacted without my permission,” he admitted honestly. “I saw you, and wanted to hurt you as much as you’d hurt me.”

“Because you haven’t hurt me at all, in any way?” Eren asked angrily, his face twisting into one of rage. It was like Levi could see it boiling up through him. “Because you’ve been the picture of perfection this whole time?”

“What do you want from me, Eren?!” Levi shouted. “I told you everything! I admitted the truth to you, which was hard for me! And what did you do?! You hung up on me!”

“Are you so socially awkward that you missed the main thing you should have said and didn’t?!” Eren shouted back.

That gave Levi pause, his mind going back through all their conversations, utterly confused. What was he talking about? Levi had said everything he’d needed to. He’d explained why he’d lied, how much he’d wanted to admit the truth but had been scared. He’d told him more about himself than he’d ever told anyone in his life.

What could Eren possibly think he had left to say?

“You still don’t get it, do you?” Eren let out a scoff, shaking his head. “Wow. You know, it’s not like hearing it is going to have me forgive you, but still, the fact that you don’t even know…”

“Enlighten me, then,” Levi said darkly.

Eren just shook his head, wincing slightly and then reaching down to grip the bottom of his shirt and lifting it up. Levi wished he wouldn’t, he really did. Seeing more of that skin, letting his eyes rake over what he could have had if he’d been honest… Eren was a master of torture, even if he had no idea he was doing so.

And Levi knew he wasn’t doing it on purpose, because he was just staring down at his darkening skin, wincing and poking at it where Levi had been hitting and kicking him. The older man’s eyes unconsciously moved to the large scar on his abdomen, recognizing it was the one from when his appendix has burst. It had healed well, the scar barely noticeable now, but seeing it made an uncomfortable panic rise in his chest.

That had been what had started this whole mess. That one incident had been what had forced his hand, made him admit he cared about him. Had feelings for him.

“Great,” Eren muttered, Levi’s eyes snapping back to his face. “Just what I needed right now.” He let his shirt drop once more and looked up to scowl at Levi. “Are you always this violent?”

“Yes.”

Eren scoffed again and moved to sit on his bed, wincing and touching his side while lowering himself. He was sitting on the patch of blood from their earlier fight, but Levi didn’t tell him that. He felt like keeping his mouth shut was the better option right now.

“What are you doing here, Levi?” he asked with a sigh, shoulders sagging as if defeated. “Did you really fly all the way out here just to kick my ass because I dared you to?”

Deciding he seemed to have calmed down—or was too exhausted and in pain to be angry anymore—Levi moved to lean back against his desk right in front of Eren, crossing his arms and watching him.

He looked even better in person than Levi had originally imagined. Despite the bruising on his face, he had strong features, and really nice skin. His eyes were so bright they seemed to pierce into his very soul, and his hair looked soft enough to have Levi’s fingers itching to reach out and touch it.

“You wouldn’t talk to me.”

“And beating me up was going to fix that?” he asked, almost incredulously. “You really don’t know anything about people, do you?”

“I told you, that was an automatic response,” Levi insisted. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

The look he got from Eren after those words was so intense he almost wanted to look away. But he didn’t. He just kept his eyes locked on the other’s for a long while before Eren finally sighed and looked away himself, shaking his head.

“Wow. Even for this, you can’t say it.”

He frowned. “Say what?”

Eren just shrugged, wincing once more and rubbing at his ribs. “What do you want, Levi?”

“To talk to you.”

“Well, we’ve talked, you can go now.”

Levi frowned, hands tightening though he knew Eren couldn’t see them with his arms crossed how they were. “I want you to forgive me.”

“You can’t just order someone to forgive you,” Eren snapped, looking back at him. “And you’ve done nothing to earn it.”

“Then what is it I need to do?” he asked, anger beginning to rise once more. “I’ve asked over and over what you want from me and you won’t answer!”

“Because it’s common sense, Levi!” Eren shouted. “Jesus Christ, you’re thirty-fucking-eight! Have you never wronged someone before in your life?! Don’t you understand that the one thing I want right now is literally the easiest thing in the world for you to give me?!”

He didn’t understand. He didn’t get what Eren was asking of him, and it was pissing him off. Jean had implied it in the car during their drive here from the airport, but he’d refused to tell him, saying the same thing as Eren.

That it was common sense.

He’d wronged Eren, and had explained why. That was common sense to him. So what else was he missing? What was it that Eren so badly needed to hear from him?

“I love you.”

It came out without his permission, and a part of him panicked at the realization that he’d said the words aloud, but they were out now, and they were true, so he couldn’t take them back.

He waited, wondering if that was what it would take. If the admission, from him and not “Hannah,” was what he wanted.

But he knew immediately that it wasn’t. Eren seemed to deflate even more and he brought one hand to his face, rubbing it and sighing, shaking his head ever so slightly.

“Get out, Levi.”

It felt like his chest was made of ice, because those words were making it crack, pain lancing through him. He’d come all this way, he’d gotten Eren’s own friends on his side to help him, and even admitted that he loved him, he fucking loved him! And it still wasn’t enough.

“Eren—”

“Just get out.”

He wanted to argue the order. He wanted to insist he wasn’t leaving, that doing so would be a step backwards, but the pain was spreading and he didn’t want Eren to see how much power he had. How much he truly controlled Levi in this moment. So he just turned towards the door to obey, placing his hand on the knob and beginning to turn.

It was when he’d almost completely turned it and was ready to open it that something occurred to him.

The last time he and Hanji had fought, really fought, his roommate had been sulking for days. They hadn’t spoken for almost a week, which was a feat for Hanji given they usually couldn’t go five minutes without annoying Levi. But in the end, they’d gotten over it and it occurred to him exactly what Eren was implying.

Going back over all their conversations, he suddenly realized that he had done everything correctly, except for that.

Turning back to Eren, the other with his face buried in both hands, Levi grit his teeth.

“Eren, I’m sorry.”

The student tensed at the words, and Levi knew. He knew that was what he’d been waiting for.

“I never meant for it to get out of hand. I never meant for it to come out the way it did. I’m sorry I lied to you, and I’m sorry you found out the way you did. But I’m not sorry that it happened, because as much as this hurts, and as much as you hating me hurts, I had you. And I’m not planning on losing you, not now. Not when you’re this close.”

Eren’s fingers curled into his fringe, tugging slightly, but otherwise he didn’t move.

“Why?” Eren asked quietly. “Why does it even matter?”

“Because something that hurts this much when you lose it is something worth fighting to keep,” Levi said, moving slowly back towards the desk and taking his spot once more, crossing his arms. “I told you, I understand that this isn’t what you expected, that you aren’t gay—so you say.”

That earned him a frown, the action noticeable behind Eren’s hands, but the other still kept most of his face covered, fingers curled into his bangs.

“I want to talk to you, Eren. I want things to be how they were before everything turned into this huge mess. I know you’re pissed off, and I’m pissed off, and everything got fucked up. But I don’t want to lose you, even as a friend. I want to keep playing Halo with you, I want to keep texting you, and Hanji wants to talk to you. We want to make this work, and if things never progress, that’s okay. And if they do, that’s okay too.”

Levi didn’t even know what he was saying anymore. He was just talking, at this point, saying anything and everything that came to mind in an attempt to get Eren to understand that he couldn’t, wouldn’t, lose him. He would fight tooth and nail to keep this relationship, even if it was just a friendship and nothing more.

It would be hard, taking a step back, but he would take what he could get.

“You’re a fucking asshole, you know that?” Eren asked, voice muffled by his hands. He cleared his throat, rubbing at his face and sniffing, letting his hands drop to his lap. His hair was sticking up slightly from his grip on it and he kept his gaze averted, looking anywhere but at Levi. “So, what, you want to just start texting and act like nothing happened? Because I can’t do that.”

“I don’t think we can pretend nothing happened,” Levi said honestly. “But we can move past it. Acknowledge it happened and move on.”

Eren said nothing for a long while, and then, “I’ll think about it.”

Well, it wasn’t a no, so Levi was a little happy about that.

“All right.”

They stayed in silence for a few moments, as if both were digesting the conversation they’d just had. Levi noticed Eren’s gaze on him, almost analytical, like he was inspecting him. To be fair, Levi had been doing the same thing earlier, as well, so he said nothing and just let Eren do as he pleased.

“You’re shorter than I thought you’d be.”

Levi scowled at that. “Bad genes,” he said dryly.

“Right.” Eren watched him for a moment longer, and it seemed as though he was about to say something more, but he thought better of it and stood, wincing again and touching his side. “Come on. Let’s go find Jean and Mikasa before they destroy your friend,” he muttered, moving past Levi to head to the door.

Overall, this wasn’t exactly what Levi wanted, but it was a start, so grabbing his scarf and jacket, he followed the other from the room and shut the door behind him.


The walk towards the campus coffee shop was silent, and seemed to take an eternity. Eren had his hands clenched in the pockets of his jacket, and Levi was silent beside him, eyes forward and scarf wrapped around the bottom half of his face.

Eren didn’t know what he was supposed to do. It wasn’t like he’d forgiven him, he was still extremely pissed off and a part of him still really wanted to strangle Levi with the conveniently placed scarf, but he lacked the energy.

A part of him acknowledged that he was only calming down because this was what he was used to. This was how fights were resolved. He and Jean fought all the time, and once their fists flew, they got over whatever they were mad about and moved on. While he knew that wasn’t what Levi had been intending, in a way he had succeeded in calming Eren down in one of the only ways the brunet understood.

With his fists.

But it was still an asshole thing to do, considering he didn’t know Eren enough to just show up and start kicking the shit out of him. Not to mention he didn’t know how to feel about Levi showing up like he did at all.

Wasn’t that an entirely movie-esque thing to do? Guy meets girl, girl’s heart gets broken, guy flies across the country to girl, make up and make out, sex, end of movie.

Was that what Levi was expecting? Because if it was, he had another thing coming, not to mention he’d fucked up a lot already given he’d gone off-script. He was supposed to make up and make out with Eren, not make up and punch him in the face.

His nose and cheeks still ached from the blow he’d received, and every now and then he reached up to make sure his nose really was still in place, even though he’d gotten a look at it in the mirror after Marco had cleaned him up. He felt like he hadn’t deserved the beating he’d received, no matter what Levi thought. Eren was just as hurt and upset as he was, so where did he get off on insisting he deserved to be hurt as badly as Levi? It was unfair, and uncalled for.

And now he was mad again, brain dredging up every little thing Levi had done since they’d met to ruin everything. If he’d never admitted his feelings, the contract would’ve ended at the end of summer and it would’ve been over. Why hadn’t he just let it be fucking over?!

“Why did you even say anything?” he finally said, speaking aloud for the first time since they’d both left the dorm.

Levi’s gaze shifted to him before facing forward again. He looked like he was wrapped in way too many layers, and yet was acting like he was still frozen. Maybe he didn’t do well with the cold, but then again, Eren knew he didn’t do well in the heat. He had a picture on his phone to prove it.

And now he wished he’d deleted it, because he didn’t want Levi to know he’d kept it.

“About what?” Levi asked, voice muffled by the scarf.

“About liking me. Why did you bother, when you were too terrified to admit who you were?”

Levi said nothing for a few moments, the two of them crossing the street, their breaths escaping them in puffs of white.

“I told you already,” Levi finally said when they began nearing the coffee shop. “It was when your appendix burst. You weren’t going to reach your phone, I panicked.”

Eren didn’t respond, trying to remember that day. It was mostly a blur to him now, the pain in his side and the subsequent drugs in his system making most of it difficult to recall in any real detail. He remembered it being the day Levi had told him Hannah liked him outside the service, but that was pretty much all he remembered.

“Was it true? Even back then?”

Silence, and he thought maybe Levi wouldn’t answer, but then he did, voice low and strained, as if wanting to pretend he wasn’t speaking at all.

“Yes.”

“Hm.” Eren left it at that, reaching the door and grabbing the handle. Before opening it, he turned slowly to Levi, frowning. “Is Levi even your real name?”

He got a real look for that one and just shrugged. It made sense in his mind to question that. How much of what Levi had told him was even true? He didn’t know anymore, and he felt like even if he decided to give the friendship thing a try, he’d be doubting everything that came out of his mouth.

Pushing into the coffee shop, his eyes found their group near the back, taking up a four-person table. When he and Levi approached, Petra was the first to notice, a smile on her face before she got to her feet.

“I see you both managed to behave.”

“I need a coffee,” Levi groused, trudging towards the counter.

Petra just shook her head and touched Eren’s arm lightly, offering him a smile and motioning an empty table a little ways away from their group. He glanced at Mikasa to gage her reaction to this, but his sister was glaring daggers at Levi’s back so he decided to just follow Petra.

Sitting across from her was weird. And awkward. And he didn’t like it. This was the girl he’d always pictured while speaking to Levi, and in some ways, he kind of hated her for not actually being who she said she was. Well, who Levi said she was.

“I promise, I come in peace,” she said with a kind smile, playing with the edge of the sleeve around her take-away cup. “I know everyone’s got a side, and while I’m sure you can appreciate why I’m on Levi’s, I just wanted to come because I was the safest choice.”

“Safest choice?” he asked with a frown.

“Well, Erwin is angry about this entire outing. Thinks you’ve done enough damage and that Levi is just hurting himself more for nothing.” She smiled slightly before speaking her next words. “Also said he would likely kill your friend Jean for threatening to burn down our house, so really, it was safer to leave him behind. As for Hanji, well, they’re a little much to take on a good day, and considering how delicate this is—”

“There’s nothing delicate about this,” Eren insisted, crossing his arms.

Petra’s lips quirked. “Of course not. You’re both just fine, clearly, which is why your sister created a contract with our site just so she could find Levi and convince him to talk to you. Because, as you said, nothing delicate here. Both of you are very well-versed in matters of the heart, as can be seen by how well you’ve talked through your problems and gotten over it.”

In Eren’s defense, they had just kind of done that. Not that he was over it. He was still pissed, and pretty sure he didn’t want to keep speaking to Levi. He felt betrayed, and angry.

And confused. Really confused.

“I don’t even like him,” he muttered aloud, not even sure why he’d done so.

Petra laughed. “He’s Levi, sweetie. I don’t think anyone is meant to like someone like him. He’s just… the kind of person who manages to worm his way into your heart and you don’t know how you ever lived without him before you met him.” She smiled a little at this. “Something I’m sure you can relate to.”

Eren shifted his gaze away uncomfortably, playing with his nails and wishing he had a cup to hide his face behind. Realistically, he did think about Levi a lot, even when he convinced himself he didn’t. While most of it was just anger, someone he didn’t care about wouldn’t be taking up so much of his awake-time. He’d literally had to turn into a bookworm to stop his brain from thinking too much about anything related to him.

Was that normal? Probably, he just didn’t know because he’d never felt like this about anyone before. Which, again, was the problem because now that he knew Hannah was a guy, he didn’t know that he still felt the same way.

“Do me a favour?”

Eren’s gaze lifted to hers. “Okay.”

“You have two exams left, right? So study for those, get them out of the way, and text Levi until you leave for Winter break. Just talk to him, about nothing, about everything. Whatever you two used to text about. Give him just a few days to try and get things to how they were before everything happened.” She leaned back in her seat, crossing her legs. Eren’s eyes shifted to her boots, somehow uneasy staring her in the eye. “Once you’ve spoken for a few days, when you go home, stop talking to him again. Just take the break and let yourself be normal for your vacation. And then, when you’re back in the new year, figure out what you want to do then. Talk to him, or don’t. But if you decide you don’t want to, at least have the courtesy to tell him. Don’t leave him hanging, or he’ll show up at your dorm again.”

“Don’t you think that’s unfair?” Eren asked quietly. “Making me do all the work. Making me the bad guy if I refuse?”

“Eren, Levi flew all the way out here, and he hates planes. And hotels. And people. He came out here for you, he’s done his part. It’s your turn now. And if you decide you can’t forgive him,” she shrugged, “then that’s what you decide. At least he’ll know he tried, and it’ll be easier for him to move on.”

Eren didn’t think that was true. All he could picture was Levi’s expression, his words back in the dorm room. The way he’d insisted that something that hurt as much as this did was worth fightig to keep. He didn’t think Levi would be okay if Eren decided, truly decided, that he was done with him.

“How long are you staying in town?” he asked instead of commenting on her words.

“Not long. Just a few days. I thought it best we not linger in case your talk didn’t go well. Even though you’re doing better than I anticipated, I still acknowledge you have exams left and I don’t want Levi to linger.” She frowned, looking past Eren, presumably at Levi. “He’s oddly territorial with you. I don’t think that’s something I want to encourage right now.”

“Right.” Eren rubbed at a spot on the table, wondering if it was a stain from a beverage or maybe someone’s pen leaking.

“Come on,” she said with a smile, getting to her feet. “Let’s get you back to your friends, and I’m going to take my grumpy friend back to the hotel. Just—think about what I said, okay?”

“Sure.” Eren didn’t move when she walked past him, her voice carrying slightly when she told Levi to get up so they could go. He snapped something inappropriate back at her, but she took it in stride, continuing to order him to his feet until he finally conceded defeat and a chair scraped loudly against the floor.

Eren didn’t turn until he heard the door open and shut, wanting to be absolutely certain he was gone before standing and moving to the table his three friends were at.

Mikasa immediately made him turn to face her, inspecting his face and then—embarrassingly—unzipping his jacket and pulling up his shirt so she could check his ribs. Nobody said anything about Levi’s visit, Jean and Marco chatting about how their year was going so far while Mikasa continued to fuss.

“How long are you here for, anyway?” Marco asked, sipping at his drink. Eren didn’t know what it was, but it looked pink. Only Marco would order a pink drink.

“Just until Winter break starts,” Jean said with a shrug. “I’m gonna wait for Kamikaze-Head’s exams to finish and then fly back with him. Already got my ticket booked, his mom made all the arrangements to ensure we’d have seats together.”

“I’m heading back out the day after next,” Mikasa advised, finally releasing Eren and turning to Marco. “I have one exam left, and then I head home. What about yourself?”

“I have exams all the way until the last day,” Marco sighed. “I won’t be going anywhere until the twenty-third.”

Eren tuned them out while they spoke, not because he wasn’t interested, but because his mind felt sluggish, like he couldn’t keep up properly. He kept thinking over Petra’s words, still not entirely ready to forgive Levi, but not wanting to be the asshole in this situation.

One week. He would give Levi one week. After that, he would take time off from him and if he survived without him just as well as he had been the past few months, come the new year, he was done with him.


“So, what are you gonna do?”

“Do?” Eren asked, tapping his pen against his book and scowling at it.

“About Levi.”

He glanced up at Jean, sitting across from him at the library table they occupied. He was playing a game on his PSP, the small scowl on his face suggesting he wasn’t doing so well. Marco had long ago left to sit elsewhere, insisting Jean was too much of a distraction.

Eren found it amusing that Jean had actually been completely silent the entire time he’d been sitting with them, suggesting his presence was the distraction and not Jean actually being distracting. Marco had probably been spending too much time staring at him.

He didn’t think Jean had noticed.

“I don’t know,” Eren admitted, looking back down at his book.

“Are you gonna talk to him?”

“Didn’t I just say I don’t know?” Eren asked with a sigh, leaning back in his seat and throwing his pen down, crossing his arms. “What would you do?”

“Me?” Jean asked, eyes lifting briefly before looking back down at his game. “I’d talk to him.”

“Liar.”

“Dude.” His friend paused his game and set the PSP down, placing both hands on the table and staring Eren straight in the eye. “When Mikasa joined the program to get to Levi, and she spoke to him, she made it pretty clear to me that he cared about you. When he called her to get your address so he could fly down here, the only reason she agreed to let him meet you in person is because he’s obviously interested in you. He isn’t lying, and he isn’t joking. Levi cares about you, a lot. He flew down here just so he could force your stubborn ass to talk to him. And now, what is he doing?”

“Ignoring me,” Eren spat.

“No.” Jean pointed his finger at him, seeming annoyed. “He’s giving you space. He showed up yesterday and beat you up, and then when he left after your talk, he has not contacted you once. Because he wants you to understand that he respects you and that he gets that you need time. He’s trying to give it to you.” He hesitated before continuing. “You know I’m always on your side, right? You’re my best friend, and you trump everyone. I’m always in your corner, you know that, right?”

“Yeah,” Eren said with a sigh, knowing the next words out of his mouth would be words he didn’t want to hear. Jean always reaffirmed their friendship before saying something unpleasant.

“I feel like Levi is doing everything right at the moment,” he said slowly, as if choosing his words carefully. “I think he has followed the correct course of action, barring the whole,” he motioned Eren’s bruised face. “He can only do so much if you’re not willing to meet him halfway. Think of this it this way,” Jean leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms and mirroring Eren, “you’re like the order-taker at a restaurant, and Levi is the chef. He has everything prepped and ready to go for any orders that come in, and is waiting to take action, but you’re just sitting on the orders and not giving them to him. He can’t do his job if you don’t do yours. It’s kinda the same thing here. Levi can’t fix this if you don’t help him. He apologized. He explained. He flew out here. He just wants you to give him a chance. Is it a dick move for him to have lied? Yeah, it is, but is it a dick move to not forgive someone when they are genuinely sorry and prove it to you?”

Eren didn’t want to answer that question, but the look Jean gave him made him scowl and avert his gaze. “Yeah, it is,” he muttered.

“Exactly.” Jean shrugged. “No one is saying you have to forget what he did, or that you have to go back to how you were. We’re all just trying to make you realize that you’re miserable, and he’s miserable, and he’s trying to fix it so you’re both a little less miserable. You just have to let him, and give him a chance.”

“Or at least talk to him.”

Both of them jumped and turned, seeing Mikasa sitting at the end of the table, idly flipping through a magazine.

“When did you get there?” Jean asked, one hand on his chest, as though his heart had just been jump-started.

“A while ago.” She turned to look at them both, the magazine open on a page about army knives. Eren wasn’t sure what kind of magazine it was, but it certainly wasn’t a girly one. “I wanted to make sure he was studying.”

“I was,” Eren insisted. “Jean started talking.”

“I know.” She turned back to what she was reading. “I agree with him, for the record. I might not like Levi for hurting you, but I can understand why this all happened the way it did. And as long as he doesn’t hurt you again, I don’t see why you can’t at least try and return to some semblance of normal with him.”

“But how?” Eren demanded, feeling exasperated. “After everything that’s happened, how can anyone expect us to go back to normal?”

“How will you ever know if you don’t even try?” Mikasa asked.

Eren felt more annoyed than ever when he realized she was right. He scowled at her, then at Jean, his friend just shrugging. Growling low in his throat, Eren picked up his pen, pulled up his hood and went back to studying, ignoring his friend and sister.

He should’ve followed Marco to another table in the library.


[Eren]
So.

[User]
So?
[User]
You’re talking to me now?
[User]
I should’ve known Petra was the only one who could bully you into doing anything

[Eren]
Don’t piss me off, Levi
[Eren]
I already don’t feel like texting you
[Eren]
I’m still royally pissed off.

[User]
Well then that makes two of us.

[Eren]
What have YOU got to be pissed about?
[Eren]
I’M the one who was lied to

[User]
You deleted my number
[User]
And ignored me for months
[User]
That’s a pretty asshole thing to do

[Eren]
And you’re a lying son of a bitch, so I guess we’re even
[Eren]
Why did I even bother thinking you’d act your age?
[Eren]
You remember you’re the adult here, right?

[User]
I’m not an adult
[User]
I just look like one

[Eren]
Actually, you look like you’re fifteen
[Eren]
What’s the matter, didn’t drink enough milk as a kid?

[User]
Do you want me to come break your nose?
[User]
I can try harder this time if you want

[Eren]
Oh, I’m shaking. Please, big scary man, just TRY to hit me again
[Eren]
You caught me off-guard
[Eren]
Otherwise I’d have been able to take you on no problem.

[User]
Is that right?
[User]
I’m not far from your dorm
[User]
I’ll come over right now if you want to test that theory

[Eren]
It’s pretty late, kiddo
[Eren]
I don’t think mommy will let you come out and play

[User]
I am DEFINITELY kicking your ass again when I see you next

[Eren]
I’d love to see you try, pipsqueak.

[User]
You remember I had you pinned to the bed, right?

[Eren]
Yeah
[Eren]
Off-guard
[Eren]
And my sister tackled you

[User]
I was off-guard

[Eren]
You can’t use my line, dude

[User]
If it’s not true for me, it’s not true for you
[User]
Can’t have it both ways, Jaeger

[Eren]
No, YOU can’t have it both ways!
[Eren]
If you were off-guard, so was I
[Eren]
You’re a fucking asshole for almost breaking my nose, by the way

[User]
What’s the matter, too used to people going easy on you?

[Eren]
Whatever
[Eren]
So, what, now we just talk and try and ignore how much we hate each other?

[User]
I don’t hate you.
[User]
I don’t think you hate me either.
[User]
You’re just a stubborn little shit.
[User]
Shouldn’t you be studying?

[Eren]
Yes.

[User]
Then study
[User]
Before you find something else to blame on me.

[Eren]
Fuck you, Levi.

[User]
Only if you ask nicely.

[Eren]
That’s sick.
[Eren]
In your dreams.
[Eren]
And maybe not even then.

[User]
Shut up and study, Jaeger.
[User]
You can insult me just fine tomorrow.

[Eren]
Whatever
[Eren]
Go fuck yourself.

“Well,” Levi muttered, deciding not to respond to that last text, “it’s a start, I guess.”

He wondered if Eren realized that Levi had kept his promise to him. After all, back before everything had gotten fucked up, Eren had made Hannah promise they would meet before the new year. Well, Levi had kept that promise, even if he felt like Eren wasn’t aware of it. Ironic, considering the only reason he had was because Eren had stopped speaking to him.

He turned off the screen on his phone and pressed it against his lips, scowling out the window and watching the snow continue to fall. They had a long way to go, and he still had the threat of losing Eren entirely looming, but for now, at least they were talking.

If Eren consistently insulting him was considered “talking.”

Still, he would take what he could get. After months of silence, he would fucking take what he could get.

And hope that it didn’t stop come January first.

TBC...

Chapter Text

[Assface]
Are you sneaking out the back or something?
[Assface]
Your exam ended over a half hour ago.
[Assface]
How are you still not out?

[JaegerMeister]
Why are you even lingering?
[JaegerMeister]
When are you going home again?

[Assface]
Never, at this rate.
[Assface]
You’re supposed to talk to me, remember?
[Assface]
So stop avoiding me.

[JaegerMeister]
Then stop bossing me around!
[JaegerMeister]
You can’t just ORDER me to forgive you and pretend like nothing happened!

[Assface]
I could
[Assface]
I outrank you

[JaegerMeister]
Really?
[JaegerMeister]
You’re gonna make Halo jokes right now?
[JaegerMeister]
If you think you’re being funny, you’re not.

[Assface]
I mean it, Jaeger
[Assface]
Don’t make me come in there.

“Christ, Petra wasn’t kidding,” Eren muttered, beginning to walk a little faster towards his dorm. A part of him was worried Levi would kidnap him and lock him away in a dank, dark basement or something. He felt inclined to believe no one had ever been mad at him before. The concept seemed pretty foreign to him, considering how he was acting.

Opening another text window, he typed out a message before hitting the send button.

[JaegerMeister]
So, Levi
[JaegerMeister]
Has anyone ever been mad at him before, or…?

[Petra]
He’s Levi
[Petra]
Of course they have
[Petra]
But he usually doesn’t care about them
[Petra]
YOU he cares about

“Great.” He was totally going to end up locked up in some basement somewhere.

And honestly, he wasn’t even that mad anymore. It’d been four days since Levi and Petra had shown up—followed by Jean and Mikasa, unfortunately—and while he was still pissed off, Levi seemed to be doing everything in his power to show him he was sorry.

In a creepy, stalker sort of way. He literally followed Eren everywhere except the exam hall and the bathroom. And even the latter he was pretty sure he refrained only because of Jean. Eren was glad that his exams were over now, because it meant he could just hole up in his room and try and sort through his messed up feelings.

Was he mad? A little, he was mostly getting over it.

Did he forgive Levi? Maybe, he still hadn’t figured that out.

Did he miss Levi? Yes, he did.

Did he like Levi? Not even a little bit. Not even as a friend.

It was all very confusing. Every time he thought maybe he was over what had happened, something would remind him of how angry he’d been that day and he would hate Levi all over again. A part of him still felt like this was all some huge, elaborate joke, even though he knew how ridiculous that was. Levi had made it pretty clear it wasn’t a joke. Eren had the bruises to prove it.

So why was he so against this? Why was he so worried of getting close to Levi again? A part of him knew it was fear. He’d been hurt once, he didn’t want to be hurt again. He couldn’t bear going through all that pain again. While he knew that was true, he felt the other part was probably the one influencing him the most.

He was scared he would actually fall for Levi. He was scared he actually would be okay being with a guy, which he didn’t understand because he wasn’t fucking gay.

And if he ended up being gay, or bi, or whatever, he didn’t even know how people would take it. He didn’t think Jean would care, he was fairly certain Armin wouldn’t care. Mikasa had made it clear she just wanted him to be happy, and the fact that she was the reason Levi had shown up in the first place made her stance pretty obvious.

But what about his parents? And his university friends? And his other childhood friends? He’d always been insistent, much like Jean, that he wasn’t gay. If he went back on that, didn’t that make him a liar?

Then again, was it lying when he didn’t know any better? After all, maybe that was why he’d always been single. Because he’d spent so much time trying to find himself a girlfriend when he wasn’t really interested in girls. But that couldn’t be right either, because girls were fucking hot. He loved girls. And porn, he really liked porn. So if he liked girls in porn, and he liked girls, then clearly he wasn’t gay.

So what, he was bisexual? He didn’t fucking know! He’d never watched gay porn. Maybe he should watch some gay porn.

“I’m not watching gay porn!” he shouted to himself, then immediately felt all the blood drain from his face when he found a huge group of people staring at him.

Perfect. Great.

Pulling his hood up over his head, he shoved his hands in his pockets and hurried along back to his dorm, hating where his brain was taking him. He didn’t like Levi, at least not like that. He’d liked Hannah because she was a girl, and she acted like a guy. That’s all. But he didn’t like Levi. Sure, he was funny, but he was also an asshole.

A good looking asshole, he would give him that.

Letting out a groan and covering his face with both hands, he tried to turn off his brain, suddenly remembering why he always needed something to distract him while he was alone. All he was doing now was thinking, and he didn’t want to think. He wanted to just live a normal life and get over this.

Walking towards the front door of his dorm, he pulled his keycard free and then froze when he found Levi waiting for him, leaning back against the brick wall of the entranceway with his arms crossed and his eyes narrowed, scarf covering the bottom half of his face.

“Levi. But I thought…” Eren motioned behind himself, having assumed Levi was waiting outside the building his exam had been in.

“Am I an idiot?” Levi demanded, pushing away from the wall. “I knew you wouldn’t come out the front knowing I was there. You’d sneak out, which would mean you wouldn’t feel the need to sneak into the back of the dorm, assuming I was still at the other building.”

Oh. Well. Eren felt stupid now.

“Come on, we’re going to dinner.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“I didn’t ask if you were hungry, I said we’re going to dinner. Let’s go.”

It was hard to argue with Levi, so he just sighed in defeat and turned, beginning to walk with Levi falling into step beside him. He was pretty sure the other had no idea where to go for food, so Eren led the way towards the far side of campus, where a few fast food joints and one not-so-great restaurant were.

“How was your exam?”

“Fine.”

Awkward silence. This was why he really wanted Levi and Petra to go home. Levi was easier to talk to when they were gaming. Or over text, he supposed. Though he didn’t know if he could ever be as comfortable with him as he used to be. He didn’t even know why it had been so easy for so long. How were they supposed to just fall back into that routine now?

“What’s your favourite colour?”

Eren turned to Levi, eyebrows shooting up. “What?”

“Do I stutter?” Levi asked, turning to him, gaze hardening as if daring Eren to laugh at him.

“Uh, blue.” He paused. “You?”

“Green.”

“Oh.” Eren didn’t think much of it until they passed by a shop, looking in at the items beyond the window and seeing his reflection staring back at him through a mirror. His eyes were green.

Oh.

“How long has green been your favourite colour?”

“Does it matter?”

“I guess not.”

Awkward silence again. In some ways, Eren wondered if Levi was trying to awkward him into getting over this.

“Levi?”

“What?”

Well, at least that hadn’t changed.

“Why do you like me?”

“What kind of fucked up question is that?” Levi demanded, sounding angry. Eren realized, a little belatedly, that it implied he thought the other was lying about his feelings. That wasn’t what he was asking, he was just legitimately curious about what it was Levi enjoyed about him.

“I was just curious.”

It was quickly made clear that topic was off-limits, so they fell into another uncomfortable silence until they reached a taco place in the small food-area near the edge of campus. Levi was the one who stepped through the door first without consulting Eren on whether or not he wanted tacos. Deciding he didn’t care, and was happy to have this over and done with, he followed the other in.

“What do you want?”

“I can get it myself.”

“Stop acting like I’m trying to win your favour, I invited you, I’m paying. What do you want?”

Eren was annoyed at being barked at all the time, so he just chose something random off the menu and went to sit down in one of the booths, pulling his phone out and tapping an angry reply to Petra.

[JaegerMeister]
Did you know he was going to ambush me at my dorm?

[Petra]
If I say no
[Petra]
Will you believe me?

He scowled down at her response, annoyed, and started to put his phone away when it went off again. He pulled it out to see who it was, then frowned, glancing over at Levi. He was still in the lineup, back to him, but his hands were out in front of him, clearly texting.

[Assface]
You’re honest.
[Assface]
And funny. In a ridiculous way.
[Assface]
And good looking.
[Assface]
You have no brain-mouth filter, which makes you both hilarious and terrifying
[Assface]
I like who I am when we talk
[Assface]
I feel less… robotic.
[Assface]
Like a real person.

Well shit, what was Eren supposed to say to that? His eyes shot back over to Levi, seeing him shoving his phone back into his pocket before crossing his arms. He looked impatient, and Eren wondered if the man in front of him realized he had a tiny, angry supernova standing behind him.

Sighing, Eren typed out his own response to Levi, hesitating before sending, and then finally doing so. His eyes shifted back to Levi, watching him uncross his arms and pull his phone out. His phone dinged and he looked back down at it.

[JaegerMeister]
Just so we’re clear, I’m not forgiving you. But I’ll stop avoiding you, and I’ll try and stop being so pissed off at you. But stop bossing me around, got it?

[Assface]
Deal.

Eren turned off the screen and put his phone away, clenching his hands on the table and letting out a slow breath.

One step at a time. First, get rid of the hate. Then decide on where to go from there.


Levi needed to get off this fucking death trap before he murdered everyone on it. It they had one more fucking delay in opening the God damn doors, he was going to blow open one of the emergency doors and slide down the fucking slide before walking across the tarmac to a door. He didn’t fucking care, he just wanted off the damn thing.

Petra had been rubbing circles on his back for the past ten minutes, and while a part of him wanted to tell her to stop touching him, another part acknowledged that that was pretty much the only thing keeping the other passengers alive right now, so he let her do as she pleased.

Finally, after another ten fucking minutes, the door opened and he began moving down the aisle, Petra behind him. When the stewardess thanked him for choosing their airline, the look he gave her had her mouth snap shut and he felt pleased knowing he’d scared her into silence. He ignored that fact and just hurried off onto the walkway until he finally walked through the doors at the end and appeared in the airport.

“Don’t ever let me get on a plane again,” Levi said to Petra once she’d joined him, the two of them beginning to make their way towards baggage claim. They got to skip customs since it was a domestic flight, thank God.

“You realize if you ever want to see Eren again, you’re going to have to get on a plane.”

“No, he can come to me.”

“I think you might have to make a bit more of an effort, at least for the first little while.” She patted his shoulder with a small smile and he scowled, hoping he wasn’t going to have to grovel at Eren’s feet for the rest of their lives. He didn’t grovel very well, Erwin could attest to that.

Thinking of Eren made him wonder if he’d texted. His hand itched to grab his phone, but a part of him was worried to do so. What if Eren had been acting normal-ish while he was there because he was, well, there? What if now that he was gone, Eren was going to go back to ignoring him?

Feeling annoyed for being worried about it, he forced his hand into his pocket and pulled out his phone, turning it on. It would take about a minute for it to boot up anyway, so he pushed it back into his pocket and headed down the escalators towards the baggage claim.

Petra reached the bottom first, looking up at the screens.

“Carousel four. Come on.” She led the way towards their carousel just in time for them to hear someone shout Levi’s name. He barely had time to brace himself before Hanji was in his arms.

Literally, they’d jumped up off the ground, wrapping their arms and legs around him and making him almost fall over backwards.

“Levi, Levi, Levi! Oh, I missed you! It was torture! It was agony! I had no one to talk to for days! I was going insane! Don’t ever leave me again!” They were rubbing their cheek against his hair.

Levi’s eyes shifted to Petra, who seemed incredibly amused.

“Can you please go buy me another ticket out of this hellhole?”

“Don’t be like that, Levi,” Erwin said, appearing much more slowly and kissing Petra’s forehead before wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “Hanji just missed you. Lord knows why, but they did.”

“So! How’d it go? How’d it go? Tell me everything! Did you have sex?”

Levi managed to get his arms between himself and Hanji and pushed, hard. It forced his roommate to let him go and they let out a shout when they hit the ground, rubbing at their tailbone. Levi just stepped over them to head to the carousel, Erwin and Petra following behind him.

“How was it?” Erwin asked when it became clear Levi wouldn’t reply without further prompting.

“Fine.”

“Did you make up?” Erwin sounded amused when he asked this.

“He isn’t an angry little storm cloud anymore, of course they made up.” Hanji appeared beside Levi, throwing their arms around him. Levi ducked out from their grip so that they crashed into Erwin and Petra.

No regrets. Except maybe that he hadn’t filmed it.

Stopping beside the carousel, his phone buzzed in his pocket, alerting him to the fact that it was on once more and he had, at least, one message.

Trying not to get too hopeful since he did have clients, Levi reached into his pocket to pull out his phone.

Six text messages from six different people. His screen only showed the first four so he unlocked it and went to his messages, eyes scanning the names of everyone who’d messaged him. A breath he hadn’t even realized he was holding expelled when he found the sixth name to be Eren, suggesting he was the first person to have texted him.

That kid had way too much power over him, it was starting to freak him out a little bit.

[Eren]
Did you make it?
[Eren]
Did you land yet?
[Eren]
Your plane didn’t crash, did it?
[Eren]
That would be unfortunate.

[User]
That’s an asshole thing to say to someone.

[Eren]
It’s how I show people I care
[Eren]
I tell Jean I hope his plane doesn’t crash all the time.

[User]
Speaking of planes, aren’t you supposed to be on one?

[Eren]
It got delayed.
[Eren]
Jean and I are hanging out in the airport.
[Eren]
He went to throw up
[Eren]
He hates flying

[User]
What is there to like about it?

[Eren]
What ISN’T there to like about it?
[Eren]
You’re fucking FLYING!
[Eren]
You’re in the AIR!
[Eren]
Magic through science!
[Eren]
MAGIC, Levi!

It was something of a relief to see Eren acting so normal. He’d been awkward during their last few encounters when they were together in person, but at least via texting, he seemed to be getting a little bit more comfortable. Seemed to be coming back to himself.

“Why isn’t he texting me?!” Hanji demanded, suddenly leaning over Levi’s shoulder and pretending to grab for his phone. Levi just elbowed them in the stomach to make them get off him.

“Probably because you haven’t texted him.”

“I don’t have his number!”

“Well he probably doesn’t have yours either.”

Hanji let out a loud, wail-like sound and draped themselves over Levi again.

“You remember our deal, yes?” Erwin said to Levi, coming up beside him while Petra bent down to check one of the bags going around to see if it was hers. “I’m not encouraging this, so you’re getting and paying for your own phone. That one is strictly business.”

“I remember, I’ll get it in the new year, when he confirms we’ll still be talking.”

Levi knew Erwin still didn’t like this, but once everything calmed down, hopefully they would all be on the same page. He wasn’t optimistic enough to think Eren would like him the way he liked Hannah/PR, but he’d take what he could get. Being friends was better than nothing, in his opinion.

Besides, he still had time to change his mind. He just needed a little nudge in the right direction. That was the good thing about Eren: he’d never been with anyone, so he didn’t know what he liked yet. It made it easier for Levi to lead him where he wanted him to be.

He would never force Eren into anything he wasn’t comfortable with, but he wasn’t going to take this whole friendship thing lying down. He liked him too much, it would kill him if he didn’t at least try.

His phone went off again and he glanced down, frowning slightly.

[Eren]
Apparently we’re boarding now
[Eren]
Jean’s green, it’s kinda funny.

Those words were followed up by a picture of Jean leaning heavily into Eren. The brunet was grinning broadly, seemingly thrilled, but the horse was all over him, looking pale and sickly.

Levi’s hand tightened around his phone and he struggled not to hate Jean. After all the help he’d given him, it was hard to justify hating him, but he couldn’t help feeling like he was competition, even though he knew better.

Seeing his bag, he yanked it off the carousel and muttered a thanks to Petra for the company, then headed for the exit. It was doubtful Erwin and Hanji had come together given the two of them didn’t ever really spend any time alone with one another, so he was sure Hanji’s car was here. He just wanted to get home and shower.

“He’s talking to you again,” Hanji said while they waited for traffic to ease up so they could cross to the parking garage. “So why do you look unhappy?”

“It’s different.”

“Of course it’s different,” Hanji said, looking confused. “You thought it wouldn’t be?”

Levi said nothing, tossing his bag into the trunk once they’d neared the car and Hanji had opened it. He moved to sit in the passenger seat, pulling his phone out again and seeing a few more texts from Eren.

The first thing he opened the screen to was a picture of Jean passed out on Eren’s shoulder, apparently more than ready to sleep through the flight.

[Eren]
Lookit this nerd
[Eren]
I’m sending this picture to Marco AND Mikasa
[Eren]
Anyway, I think it’s about time to go so I’m signing off
[Eren]
Glad you didn’t die.
[Eren]
I guess... talk to you later.

And now he’d lost Eren until the end of the year, and only if he actually agreed to come back. A very real and annoyingly nauseating fear.

What if January first came around and Eren didn’t text him? What if he never heard from him again?

“Stop that.”

Levi scowled and turned to glare at Hanji when they flicked him in the temple.

“You’re worrying for nothing. You don’t know what he’s thinking. No one knows what he’s thinking. Just wait, and come January, see what happens. I mean, if he doesn’t reply, you can always kidnap him. I won’t tell.” They winked at him.

“Shut up and keep your eyes on the road.” Levi shoved his phone back into his pocket, stomach twisting into knots while he turned to look out the window.

Kidnapping Eren didn’t actually sound like a bad idea, if not entirely fucking insane.


Eren stared out the window at the clouds, eyes relatively unfocussed and the wet patch on his shoulder growing progressively larger. He’d have been grossed out if Jean wasn’t like his brother. In addition, it wasn’t like this was the first time Jean was drooling all over him so it was easy to ignore.

Reaching up to scratch at his nose, he winced when it caused pain to arc through his face. Most of him was still pretty banged up from his fight with Levi the previous week. Well, “fight” was kind of a loose term since Eren had only gotten one punch in, and even then, it was only because Jean had been holding him.

With his friend passed out beside him, Eren’s mind drifted—as it often did—to Levi. Things had been—okay. Not great, and not comfortable, but okay. Texting was good, the in person stuff was harder.

Though he felt less angry about everything, which he thought was a good thing, and he’d been trying to be a bit more understanding about it all.

Yes, Levi had fucked up but—In some ways, Eren could see how he’d been unfair. Not in his anger, that was justified, but even though he’d been in shock after the first call, hanging up on Levi when he’d poured his heart out—in his own way—had been cruel. Yes, he’d called him back and fixed it, but he couldn’t even imagine how Levi must’ve felt in the few minutes between Eren hanging up and calling back.

Even now, he was mostly conflicted. He liked texting Levi, he was fun. He reacted differently than most people when Eren sent him weird messages, but he never made Eren feel dumb. He always took his random comments seriously, even if he usually started the conversation with a comment like “are you drunk?”

For fuck’s sake, they’d once discussed houses talking and had had a serious conversation about how fucked Levi would be if they could because they’d rat him out for killing Hanji!

It was hard to stay mad at someone when it really felt like they were made for one another.

Even if Eren never thought he’d like him in that way, having Levi back felt—nice. Normal. It seemed stupid, thinking about someone he’d really only known for a few months, but it was like...

Before Levi, Eren’s life had been in black and white. He’d never noticed because it was all he’d ever experienced. Black and white.

After meeting him, his life had suddenly exploded into colour, and for the first time, everything was amazing and bright.

Losing him for those few months had returned him to his black and white existence. Even though he was used to it, having had a short period of colour made him bitter and hateful towards the plainness of the black and white.

While his life definitely wasn’t in full colour right now, it was heading there, brightness increasing slowly day by day.

He liked talking to Levi. He liked Levi. He hated that their relationship had gotten messed up, but Levi was trying so Eren was, too.

As for the other thing... The “like” part of their relationship...

He didn’t want to think about it. It was weird, liking Levi. But then, hadn’t he always?

Jean had mentioned that once, and in a way, he was right. Eren had loved the person on the other end of his phone, who he had thought was Hannah, but was actually Levi. Changing gender didn’t change feelings. It weirded Eren out, but could he really argue that he didn’t like Levi when he’d basically already admitted that he did?

Eren’s nails dug into the material of his jeans, a scowl on his face as he thought about it. He couldn’t picture himself with a guy. It was weird, and made him feel uncomfortable, but the more he thought about it, the harder it was for him to deny.

When the other Hannah had taken over, during that brief period where Levi’s boss had forcibly reassigned his contract, Eren had been miserable. He remembered the first day, how he had known right away that it wasn’t his Hannah, and had been so angry. Every time he had sent a message to the not-Hannah, and received a stupid response, he had hated the person on the other end. They weren’t right for him, and even Eren could acknowledge that Levi had always, even from the beginning, answered every text from him perfectly.

If Levi had been a girl, Eren wouldn’t even question his feelings. So why did it matter when he was a guy?

“Because he’s a fucking guy,” he muttered to himself, still scowling angrily out the window.

His words earned him a snort and a confused groan from Jean before his friend licked his lips, rearranged his face on Eren’s shoulder, and continued to sleep. He was now drooling and snoring.

Would it be so weird with a guy? He felt like it would, a lot, but Marco had always been pretty open about everything. Eren always assumed that Marco was pan or demi—he honestly didn’t really know the difference—but he didn’t actually have anyone in his life who was openly gay or bisexual—Jean didn’t count, he’d never admitted to it. He didn’t care if anyone was, he just... He didn’t think he was.

Eren let out a slow, annoyed breath, turning away from the window and staring at the back of the seat in front of him. He was flying economy today, something he didn’t usually do. His parents always tried to get him Business Class because they could afford it, and Eren usually complained when he didn’t get it. No leg room and all. He figured he was in economy because of Jean, his family not able to afford the higher seat, and his mother obviously wanted him and Jean to be together.

He didn’t mind, at least he had Jean.

His gaze shifted to his friend, still drooling and snoring, and he had to wonder what everyone was thinking right now. Mikasa had admitted that after Eren and Levi’s last phone conversation, Levi had called her—she’d joined the service to find him, so he had her number available. They’d spoken and she was the one who’d told Levi where Eren lived, but only the city, not exactly where. That was where Jean had come in. Nobody felt comfortable having some random guy show up at Eren’s place, especially some random angry guy, so Levi had agreed to help pay to fly Jean from his school to Eren’s on the condition that Jean would bring them to Eren’s dorm. It had worked out anyway, because Jean had already been planning on flying down before his mother had veto’d it because of the cost.

That was how he’d found himself with Levi, Petra and Jean in his room. Mikasa wasn’t supposed to be coming, but Eren could only assume she’d gotten worried at some point during the planning and decided she wanted to be there.

Apparently Armin had wanted to come, as well, but he’d had an exam the day everyone was flying in so he hadn’t managed it. Eren appreciated that he’d wanted to come, though. He had some great friends.

Great friends who supported him and seemed okay with him liking a guy—not that he liked Levi. But what about his parents? Eren felt a pit in his stomach at the thought of his parents freaking out at him. He didn’t think they would, he knew them fairly well, but who really knew how someone was going to react to news like this?

He wanted to talk to them about it. He wanted to get some insight on how they felt. He’d been thinking about it since Levi had shown up at his dorm, and now he was flying home. He should probably talk to them about it, but he was terrified. What if they were disgusted? He’d heard so many awful stories about people being kicked out of their homes, or their parents disowning them. He didn’t think his parents were like that, but didn’t everyone think that?

But he didn’t want to lie to them. If things did progress... maybe... then he would have to tell them eventually. And wouldn’t it be better to admit it before things got serious? What if—magically—he fell hard for Levi and his parents freaked that he liked a guy? That would be devastating. Wouldn’t it be easier to talk to them now, before anything got serious? At least then he could use that as an excuse to not like Levi.

Which seemed like an awful thing to think, but he loved his parents. He was just scared of being gay.

“Hey Jean? Jean.” He shrugged his shoulder lightly to displace him, the other letting out a moan and turning to rest his forehead against Eren instead.

“Mm?” he said, still mostly asleep.

“Do you think I’m gay?”

“Mm?” This sound was more confusion than acknowledgment.

“Do you think I’m gay?” he repeated.

“I am on way too many drugs for this conversation,” Jean argued, voice thick with sleep.

“You took Gravol, Jean, not morphine.”

His friend let out a slow exhale, forehead still pressing into his shoulder. “I think you’re getting too caught up on your own sexuality,” his friend said sleepily, voice still thick and slightly muffled due to how he was sitting. “You don’t have to be gay because you like Levi.”

“I never said I liked Levi,” Eren insisted, scowling and feeling annoyed.

His friend just sighed and finally sat up, wiping at his face with the back of one hand. He wasn’t embarrassed at all to notice he’d been drooling on Eren’s shoulder, just wiping the drool from his face as best he could and blinking sleepily at him.

“Look, you want my opinion, or not?” When Eren said nothing, Jean continued, leaning back in his seat and closing his eyes again. “I think that if you like someone, you shouldn’t focus so much on what their gender is. If you like them, and you work, why does it even matter? I mean, yeah, I love Mikasa, but I also love Marco, and you don’t see me freaking out about it. I’m not gay, but I’ll acknowledge I’m not exactly straight, either, and I don’t care. If something happens with Mikasa, great. If something happens with Marco, great. Something happens with both, I’d be in heaven, but I’m not conceited enough to think I can bag both of them at the same time.” He let one shoulder rise in a half-shrug. “Like Levi. Don’t like Levi. Doesn’t really matter to me, just decide for yourself and stop focussing so much on whether or not liking him makes you gay. What makes you happy? That’s what really matters, isn’t it?”

Eren hated that he felt like Jean was right. Did it matter what Levi’s gender was? Eren had been perfectly happy loving Hannah, he’d enjoyed every moment he got to spend talking to her. How did Hannah being a guy change anything with regard to his feelings? How could he honestly be repulsed or horrified about it when he’d never even been with a guy? Never even thought of it?

It made him consider what he’d thought of after his last exam, about watching gay porn. But even then, what if he tried that and it totally freaked him out? What if he did let himself fall for Levi as Levi, and then when they met again, even kissing him totally grossed him out? Wouldn’t that be awful? Not even for him, but for Levi? It would’ve given him false hope, made him think he had a chance with Eren when he truly didn’t.

Jean’s head was suddenly on his shoulder again, his friend asleep once more. Eren turned to scowl out the window, wishing he could turn his brain off. He really wished he could just see into the future to determine whether or not kissing a guy could freak him out.

That would solve a lot of problems right now.


“Honey? Eren?”

“Huh?” Eren glanced up from playing with his peas, fork held loosely in his left hand and eyes attempting to focus on his mother. “Sorry, what?”

“Are you okay, honey?” she asked cautiously, leaning over to touch the back of her hand to his forehead, then his neck. “You haven’t been yourself since you got home. I thought things were better now.”

“What?” He realized she meant Hannah, and he quickly backtracked. “Oh, yeah, no, they’re fine. I’m good. I was just… lost in thought.”

“About what?” his father asked, cutting into his steak and shoving a rather large piece of it into his mouth.

Eren glanced at Mikasa and she gave him a small shrug, nodding towards their parents, as if telling him to ask what’s been on his mind since Levi had shown up in his dorm room. He lowered his gaze again, stabbing into one of his peas. The casing around it broke, and he found himself poking at nothing.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” His mother reached out and rubbed his arm. “If it’s not about Hannah, then what’s bothering you?”

Eren winced, wondering if it wouldn’t be better to get this out now. It wasn’t true anyway, but just so he had an idea in case it became true…

“If I said…” He trailed off, wincing again and setting his fork down, crossing his arms defensively on instinct. He didn’t know if he should do this, it might cause him problems. It wasn’t even true, he may just be ruining his relationship with his parents for nothing.

He glanced at Mikasa, who just motioned their parents again. It was true that his parents were pretty open, and he knew his dad had a co-worker who was a lesbian, but wasn’t it different for some people when it was a member of their own family? What if he asked them what they would think if he liked a guy and they kicked him out of the house? What if he ruined everything with his family over a guy he didn’t even know he liked?

“Honey.” His mother smiled at him, forcing his gaze back up. “Whatever you’re scared of telling us, I promise it’s okay. What is it?”

He swallowed hard and looked back down at his plate, fists clenching and arms crossing more tightly, his entire body tense. His parents were good people, they wouldn’t judge him. It would be okay.

He hoped.

“If I ever thought that…” He exhaled slowly, trying to convince himself this wasn’t a horrible, horrible idea—it didn’t work. “If I ever thought that maybe I-I might, you know, fall for a...” He cleared his throat. “For a guy, what would you say?” He hadn’t meant for his voice to lower at the last four words, but they had. His fingers gripped his opposite arms hard, eyes on his plate and heart pounding in his throat. He was scared to look up and find out what they thought, especially since it wasn’t actually how he felt.

At least not yet, if ever.

“I’d say I hope he likes pie.”

The words startled him so much that he abandoned his previous inspection of his half-eaten plate and looked up at his father, who was staring right back at him, chewing another piece of steak.

“What?”

“Pie.” He pointed his fork at Eren. “We eat a lot of pie in this family, so if he doesn’t like pie, he is going to be one miserable little bastard.”

His mother smiled at this, shaking her head before turning to him and reaching out to touch his shoulder.

“Honey, to be honest, we’ve always thought maybe you weren’t into girls and that’s why it took you so long to find a girlfriend. We don’t care who you like as long as you’re happy. That’s all we’ve ever wanted for you. A little sad about the grandkids, but there’s always adoption.”

Eren didn’t know what to say, mostly because he hadn’t been sure how they would react. Before he could even decide on something, his father frowned and pointed his fork at him again.

“It’s not Kirschstein, is it?”

Eren almost choked on his own spit. Mikasa did choke on her water, but she was laughing more than anything. Eren was in horrified shock. He remembered Jean having to defend himself to Levi once, insisting he wasn’t gay and wasn’t in love with Eren, but it was different now. Different coming from his dad, and now knowing that he might possibly maybe almost sort of like a guy.

No, this was a catastrophe. Having his dad say that...

“What?! No! I think I just threw up a little.” He pressed his hand to his chest, feeling nauseous. Him and Jean? No fucking way! He loved him, of course he did, but Jean was his bro. Why would his dad think he liked Jean?!

“Well, that kid’s always been a little touchy-feely with you, even when you were both kids.” He shrugged, wiping his mouth with his napkin and leaning back in his chair, crossing his arms. “I just thought maybe he’d finally grown a pair and admitted he hangs around Mikasa to be close to you.”

“Dad!” Eren could never be near Jean ever again. His father had just ruined a lifelong friendship. “Jean’s my best friend! And I’m not even into guys, I was just—!”

“Okay, okay.” He held both hands up in defeat. “I’m just saying, watch out for that kid. He’s not playing for the one team, if you know what I mean.”

“Dad!” Eren needed to wash his brain out. Fuck, he’d seen Jean naked, and now he was going to have nightmares about it! “If I can’t hang out with Jean anymore, it’s on you!”

“Oh calm down, he’s just joking.” Carla slapped her husband lightly in the arm, turning back to Eren. “Everyone knows he’s in love with Mikasa.”

“And Marco,” Mikasa supplied helpfully, smiling at Eren.

“You’re evil,” Eren proclaimed, pointing his finger at her before standing, needing to wash out his brain. Seriously, him and Jean? No. Now he could literally never be near him ever again. He’d let Jean drool all over his shoulder the whole flight home!

Shaking his head, he muttered that he was going to his room, disappearing from the kitchen and climbing the stairs two at a time. He wasn’t stupid enough to think Jean liked him—that would be both conceited and insane—but it was still weird that he was the first person his father had gone to. He felt like he needed to tell someone.

Armin came to mind so he immediately pulled his phone out when he got to his room, scrolling to his contacts and finding his friend’s number.

It took him a second to remember what name he’d given him—he’d forgotten his “home” SIM card at school so he was still using his other one. After a few seconds, he found Armin’s name under “Armee-Hammer” and hit it, composing a new message.

[JaegerMeister]
Dude
[JaegerMeister]
My dad just broke my fucking brain
[JaegerMeister]
I wanted to know how my parents would react if I told them I liked a dude
[JaegerMeister]
You know, pre-emptive, just in case
[JaegerMeister]
And my fucking dad goes “IT’S NOT KIRSCHSTEIN IS IT?!”
[JaegerMeister]
Like
[JaegerMeister]
Fucking Christ!
[JaegerMeister]
He started cracking jokes about Jean LIKING ME!
[JaegerMeister]
I seriously think my brain is permanently damaged now
[JaegerMeister]
Help me reverse this horrible, awful image of Jean liking me
[JaegerMeister]
I’m not bottoming for that fuckhead!

Eren waited, wondering what words of wisdom he would get from him to help erase the damage his father had just done. Armin was always good for words of wisdom.

The words he got back were not very Armin-like, and all the blood drained from his face when he recognized why.

He’d hit the wrong contact.

[Assface]
I fucking knew that horse was competition
[Assface]
He’s dead.

Well.

This was awkward.


Levi had been thrilled—in his own way—to see a text message from Eren after the other had signed off for the break. He’d assumed he’d be using his other number, which he also had in his phone, but respected enough not to use. So when he’d gotten the text from the other, he’d been happy, because maybe he’d decided earlier than intended that he wasn’t going to cut Levi out of his life.

Whatever feelings of joy he’d had at seeing who the texts were from died the moment he read them. It became clear immediately that they weren’t for him based on how Eren was speaking, and it only reaffirmed his very strong hate-on for Jean Kirschstein.

[Eren]
He started cracking jokes about Jean LIKING ME!
[Eren]
I seriously think my brain is permanently damaged now
[Eren]
Help me reverse this horrible, awful image of Jean liking me
[Eren]
I’m not bottoming for that fuckhead!

Jealousy coursed through him, hot and fast, and he suddenly forgot why he’d ever thought he owed the horse anything. If Jean really did like Eren, then Levi was fucking screwed, which gave him only one option.

[User]
I fucking knew that horse was competition
[User]
He’s dead.

[Eren]

[Eren]
Hey…
[Eren]
Sorry that was… for Armin
[Eren]
Um…
[Eren]
How’s it goin?

It took a conscious effort for Levi’s hand to loosen around his phone, the plastic cracking beneath his grip. He knew that damn horse was going to cause him problems one day, but he hadn’t thought it would be this soon. Not right when he and Eren were sort of starting to get along again.

[Eren]
Look Levi
[Eren]
Jean doesn’t like me, okay?
[Eren]
My dad was just being an ass

[User]
The fact that you’re defending his comment means there’s something to defend.

[Eren]
Levi, Jean and I aren’t like that
[Eren]
He wants to bang my sister

[User]
And Marco
[User]
Or did you think I hadn’t noticed?

[Eren]
Wow
[Eren]
You need to calm down
[Eren]
Jean and I are friends
[Eren]
Don’t get weird on me.

“Weird? I’m not getting weird!” Levi snapped at his phone.

“Does someone need a hug?”

Was he a masochist? He had to be, because there was no other reason why he would continue to live with Hanji. Was it too much to ask to rant and rage at his phone in peace? Apparently so, because they came bounding into the living room, snatching it from his grip before he realized what they were doing, and proceeded to read the texts.

They stopped prancing.

“Oh. Well.” They glanced at him awkwardly before handing the phone back and prancing away, hopefully right off the roof of the house.

Levi scowled after them, clenching his phone more tightly in his hand before taking a breath and forcing himself to calm down.

They would only be together for about two weeks. Not even that long, just under two weeks. Nothing was going to happen between them. Levi was being paranoid because he was so close and yet so far to having Eren back.

[User]
I’m going to assume since you meant that for Armin that we’re back to radio silence?

[Eren]
Do you want to be?

[User]
No

[Eren]
Well
[Eren]
Just chill out a little bit then
[Eren]
Seriously, don’t get all weird on me
[Eren]
I mean it, okay? Jean and I aren’t like that.
[Eren]
He doesn’t like me, my dad was being an ass.

[User]
Why were you talking about liking guys in the first place?

[Eren]
I told you. Just wanted to see how they’d react.

[User]
And?

Somehow, he was worried about what Eren’s parents had said. If they’d reacted badly, that meant Levi may as well give up right here and now on becoming anything more than they already were. While he would survive, he was sure, that wasn’t the relationship he wanted. He knew it was selfish, but he’d never had this strong of a connection with anyone before and he didn’t want to lose it.

[Eren]
And we talked.
[Eren]
Drop it.

Well, if they were making jokes about Jean, Levi could only assume it went well. And if Eren wasn’t talking about it, it was because he didn’t want to entertain the idea.

[Eren]
I’m gonna play some video games, I’ll talk to you later.

Taking that for the dismissal it was, Levi tossed his phone aside and glared at the ceiling, shifting his hands behind his head and scowling. How was he supposed to get things back to normal if Eren was going to shut him out at every opportunity?

Maybe he shouldn’t have pushed. He should’ve just moved on to another topic, but he wasn’t as good at doing that as Eren was. Eren was all, “why can houses not talk” and “who decided to name the sky” and other random things that made Levi wonder what the fuck he was smoking half the time.

Levi couldn’t do that. Most of the time, he couldn’t even hold a normal conversation, let alone start a completely messed up one like Eren always did.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

“Do you ever go away?”

“When you get violent,” Hanji said easily, falling onto the end of the couch and effectively crushing Levi’s feet. He scowled and yanked them out from under Hanji, resting them on their lap instead. “What’s bothering you, kitten? Or is it Eren, like it always is?”

He didn’t reply, keeping his gaze locked on the ceiling and wondering if it was possible for things to go back to how they were before.

“Are you texting Eren?”

“No, I still don’t have his number.” Hanji cocked an eyebrow at him. “Why?”

“I thought you missed him.”

“I do, but I’m waiting.” They shrugged. “I don’t want to get attached again and get left out in the cold. I don’t do well in the cold. I am very fragile.”

“Yeah right.” Levi snorted, getting more comfortable on the couch and closing his eyes. “Wake me up on January first.”

“Uh, aren’t you forgetting something?”

“No.”

“Well, guess your birthday present this year is going to be pretty lackluster.”

“You disappearing without a trace would be the best present ever.”

“Rude!”


It was getting late. Really late. So late that, depending on time zones, it might already have passed and he’d look like a moron for even doing anything about it.

Eren rubbed the back of his neck, sitting cross-legged on his bed in sweats and a long-sleeved shirt, staring down at his phone and wondering if he shouldn’t just leave it be. After all, hadn’t he decided he was going to give himself until January first to figure out if Levi would be sticking around or not?

A moot point, in his opinion, since he’d essentially already decided in his own mind. He tried hard to ignore the decision, but it was proving to be difficult.

Eren jumped, phone slipping between his fingers and landing on the bed when it suddenly went off. He’d forgotten he’d turned the sound on so he wouldn’t miss any texts or calls during the loud, rowdy Christmas party his parents always threw for all their friends. Picking it up, he checked who it was from.

Jean, of course.

[HorseFace]
So? You do it?

[JaegerMeister]
No.

[HorseFace]
Well, get to it!
[HorseFace]
The night ain’t young anymore!

[JaegerMeister]
I’m still thinking.

[HorseFace]
Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
[HorseFace]
You’re gonna regret it you know
[HorseFace]
I told you Eren, you’re not my type.

Eren winced, a small shiver of disgust racing up his spine at the words. Ever since Mikasa had told Jean about his father’s joke, he brought it up every chance he got. According to Armin, who had been with him at the time, he had completely freaked out, similarly to Eren. They were like brothers, and even if one of them ended up being into guys, they weren’t each other’s types in the slightest. Eren found the jokes more disturbing than Jean did, probably because he was less comfortable with his sexuality.

Read: he had no idea what his sexuality was right now.

In love with a girl who turned out to be a guy. Because that wasn’t complicated.

But, once a few days had passed after that conversation—all two of them—Jean had begun to find it more amusing than disturbing, and started making jokes about it. He already used to call Eren his “boyfriend” which was why Marco was his “other boyfriend,” so now he just took things a step further to the point where Eren was uncomfortable every time they spoke. Jean thought it was funny.

[HorseFace]
Eren, just do it
[HorseFace]
He’ll be happy.
[HorseFace]
Merry Christmas, Lover~

[JaegerMeister]
Don’t fucking call me that!

When Jean didn’t reply, Eren sighed and rubbed the back of his head, opening his messages with Levi and staring down at their last communication. It was from a week ago, when he’d accidentally texted Levi instead of Armin, like he’d intended to. He had since renamed him in his phone to ensure he never made that mistake again, choosing his real name to be safe. The only real name he had in his phone.

On the one hand, he was kind of annoyed Levi hadn’t texted him even once since that day, but on the other, he acknowledged that it was because Eren had kind of asked him for some space. And his last conversation with him had been fairly… curt and abrupt. He’d all but told Levi not to talk to him again until he contacted him first.

Which wasn’t fair. Because it meant Eren was doing exactly what he’d done to him the first time, and he hated that. But he was scared, dammit! This time, he was scared! He didn’t want to get attached again, didn’t want things to spiral out of control, not when he didn’t know for certain that Levi wouldn’t lie again. And about what next time? His age? His intentions? His fucking name?

Closing his eyes and tapping his phone against his forehead, he grit his teeth and then growled, deciding to just get it over with. Sitting up straight, he quickly tapped out a message on his screen, sent it, and then tossed his phone aside, lying down and grabbing the corner of his blanket, tugging it up and around himself since he was lying on it and closing his eyes. Maybe if he pretended he hadn’t sent anything, it would be like he actually hadn’t.

No dice. Less than thirty seconds later, his phone trilled loudly, making him jump again and he forced himself to roll back over, pushing his covers off himself. He had to turn it to silent now, or he would forget.

Grabbing his phone and swiping his thumb across the bottom, it opened on his messages and before he could help it, he’d read the response.

[JaegerMeister]
Happy Birthday Levi

[Levi]
Thank you Eren. Merry Christmas.

Ignore or respond. Ignore or respond.

Punching his fists angrily at the air, Eren huffed at his own weakness and changed his settings to silent before moving back to the text message.

[JaegerMeister]
Thanks. And to you
[JaegerMeister]
Uh, do you… celebrate Christmas?

[Levi]
Not really
[Levi]
Nothing against it, I just tend to avoid places where people exchanging gifts are involved.

[JaegerMeister]
Oh yeah! What did Hanji get you?

[Levi]
Don’t ask.

[JaegerMeister]
I just did :P
[JaegerMeister]
Come on, tell me!

[Levi]
No

[JaegerMeister]
Tell me!

[Levi]
No

[JaegerMeister]
Tell me tell me tell me!!!!!!!!!!!
[JaegerMeister]
Come on!
[JaegerMeister]
Nothing can be worse than edible underwear!
[JaegerMeister]
… Can it?

[Levi]
I’m not telling you

[JaegerMeister]
Oh come on!
[JaegerMeister]
Tell me and I’ll tell you something!

[Levi]
Like what?

[JaegerMeister]
Idk, what do you wanna know?

Eren realized, a little late, that he probably shouldn’t have said that. He didn’t need to know what Hanji had bought Levi that badly… He was just curious. But now it was out, and he couldn’t exactly take it back. So he just scowled down at his phone and waited for Levi to tell him what he wanted to know.

If he brought up the conversation with his parents, though, Eren was going to be pissed. He didn’t want to talk about that. He wanted to forget it had even happened, and if he hadn’t made the mistake of sending that to Levi instead of Armin, he wouldn’t even have told Levi about the conversation at all.

[Levi]
Okay
[Levi]
I’ll ask my question first.
[Levi]
If you answer it, then I’ll tell you.
[Levi]
If you don’t, then I won’t

[JaegerMeister]
Deal

It was safer than being told and then having no choice but to answer a question he didn’t want to answer. He hoped Levi didn’t ask anything that would piss him off, they were still on fairly thin ice, even though Eren knew he was going to keep talking to him.

For now, at least.

[Levi]
Are you going to continue speaking to me once January rolls around?

Eren wanted to be mad at the question. A part of him even started to boil with anger. But then… it wasn’t fair to be angry about that. Because that seemed like a question Levi had asked so he could prepare himself. If Eren said he wasn’t going to speak to him anymore, Levi would have time to just… come to terms with it and not have it be such a huge shock in January.

If anything, Levi was admitting it was a real fear for him, and it kind of made Eren feel bad.

“You are so annoying,” he muttered to himself before sighing and tapping out his response.

[JaegerMeister]
Yes
[JaegerMeister]
What did Hanji get you?

[Levi]
A prostate massager

A frown formed on Eren’s face upon reading that. “A what? What the fuck is that?”

Was that even a real thing? Eren had never heard of that before. Not that he was particularly well-versed in sex toys—he was assuming it was some kind of sex toy—but that sounded fake. Like something Hanji had made up gluing random things together.

Hesitating, Eren changed windows, opening Safari and sticking Levi’s text into the search bar. His eyebrows shot up and a weird sound escaped him once images came up, showing him a lot more than he’d intended to see. He hastily closed out of Safari and really hoped his parents didn’t have access to view his browser history on his phone. After the conversation they’d had upon his return, they were really going to think he was into guys.

His phone buzzed and he winced, trying for the appropriate response when he opened his messages back up, and felt his face warm at Levi’s words.

[Levi]
Your delayed response means you either died laughing, or you had to look it up.
[Levi]
Spill, which is it?

[JaegerMeister]
You already asked your one question

[Levi]
That means you looked it up
[Levi]
Don’t worry, I didn’t know what one of these was when I was younger either
[Levi]
I’m very good at using them now, though, as Hanji discovered when I proceeded to shove it up their ass.

Eren couldn’t help the small laugh that escaped him then. He doubted Levi had done that, if anything, he’d probably chucked it at their head.

[JaegerMeister]
I feel like you’d have used it as a blunt instrument to kill Hanji

[Levi]
I considered it.
[Levi]
But they’re masochistic, they’d think I was trying to turn them on if I hurt them.

[JaegerMeister]
So shoving it up their ass was the better alternative?

[Levi]
Hanji is very protective of their ass
[Levi]
Calls it their money maker
[Levi]
Which would make sense, since it’s better looking than their face.

[JaegerMeister]
LOL
[JaegerMeister]
What does Hanji even look like?

[Levi]
Stupid

[JaegerMeister]
Hilarious
[JaegerMeister]
I’m serious, send me a picture.

[Levi]
So they’ll send you pictures of me but not pictures of themselves?
[Levi]
Figures.

Eren waited for almost a full minute before a picture appeared on his screen. He tapped it to enlarge it and stared down at Hanji, finding they looked more normal than he thought they would. He’d been picturing a deranged looking mad scientist with white hair and coke-bottle glasses. While they did have glasses, they were normal looking and their hair wasn’t white. He’d never have guessed this person was someone who loved experimenting and talking about body disposal.

[JaegerMeister]
They look so normal

[Levi]
Don’t let that fool you
[Levi]
That’s how they suck you in
[Levi]
I still insist they did something to my brain
[Levi]
There’s no other logical explanation for why I’m still living with them.

[JaegerMeister]
At least they keep things entertaining, right?

[Levi]
I suppose.
[Levi]
Eren?

[JaegerMeister]
Yeah?

[Levi]
Thank you.
[Levi]
For the text, and the answer.
[Levi]
I should get back. Petra’s going to start wondering where I went.

[JaegerMeister]
Oh, were you out?
[JaegerMeister]
Sorry
[JaegerMeister]
I just… wanted to wish you a happy birthday

[Levi]
I know
[Levi]
Best present of the night.

[JaegerMeister]
Well, if I’m competing with a PROSTATE MASSAGER, it’s not really much competition

[Levi]
Good NIGHT Jaeger

Eren couldn’t help the laugh that escaped him, messaging back a farewell and tossing his phone onto his side table. He should probably charge it, but he was too lazy, so he just cocooned himself into his blankets once more and closed his eyes for sleep.

Maybe this would all work out after all…

TBC...

Chapter Text

“Mom. Mom. Mom, I can’t breathe. Mom.”

Eren couldn’t wait until he didn’t ever leave again because then maybe his mother would stop asphyxiating him every single time he had to get on a plane. He always wondered how Mikasa fared when she left, considering he’d never been around to see it. He hoped she suffered just as badly, because she looked amused each and every time he was getting smothered.

“I just miss you so much when you’re gone.” She leaned back and cupped his face in her hands, letting out a sigh and smiling at him. “Don’t let anyone push you around, okay? You behave over there, and find yourself a nice boyfriend or girlfriend that’ll make Hannah jealous.”

Eren shot an angry look at Mikasa when she snorted, trying to hide it behind a cough. He chose to ignore her, giving his dad a brief hug before moving closer to his sister to do the same.

“Try and stay out of trouble this semester, okay?” she whispered in his ear while hugging him. “Don’t let Levi bully you into anything.”

“He’s not going to bully me.”

Or at least, Eren hoped not. Levi was almost better at monopolizing his time than Hannah had ever been. He supposed it was the other showing his true colours. He was very similar to Hannah, in a lot of ways—for obvious reasons—but he was also almost three times as funny, and Eren didn’t think he meant to be. It sort of just… happened.

He’d done his best not to text Levi the past little while, not wanting his family and friends to think he was ignoring them for someone over the phone, but once they’d started, similarly to before, it was hard to stop.

Now that Eren was feeling less animosity towards him, it was kind of easy to fall back into their usual routine. Whenever something stupid or weird entered Eren’s brain—which was most of the time, if he was honest—he texted Levi. The other, for his part, seemed to have even less of a filter than he did before. Sometimes it was funny. Other times it was concerning.

Levi often wondered aloud how he’d survived living with Hanji for so long, but in Eren’s opinion, it was more impressive that Hanji had survived living with Levi. That guy was seriously twisted sometimes. And remarkably homicidal.

Not that Eren minded, it complemented his own twisted mind beautifully, but it was still freaky.

“Okay!” Eren said when his mother had come in for another hug and almost taken him out with how hard she was squeezing him. Seriously, she was a weapon. “I gotta go. Love you, have fun without me, talk to you soon!” He inched backwards, away from them, heading for security.

His mother called for him to text her when he landed and he waved to confirm he heard her, then proceeded through the sliding double doors.

Just like always, he had to remove his shoes and hoodie before passing through the metal detector, and then collected all his belongings once more. He grinned while heading towards the McDonalds, incredibly pleased that, as usual, he could torture Jean since he was in the other terminal without one. Sometimes, he wondered if Jean’s mother did it on purpose to have them leave at the same time so he could torture her son.

Grabbing himself a meal, he went to sit down and pulled out his phone, taking a normal picture of his tray this time and sending it to Jean.

[HorseFace]
You are a rat bastard traitor, you know that, right?

[JaegerMeister]
Aww, is someone jealous they don’t get to be a big boy and choose off the big boy menu?

[HorseFace]
Go suck Levi’s dick, Eren

[JaegerMeister]
Can’t, he might enjoy it too much

It was getting easier to make jokes about things like that. Only when it was Levi though, when it was Jean it got awkward. Eren attributed it to having known him his whole life, he didn’t like it when comments started. It seriously freaked him out, he didn’t like thinking about fucking his brother.

Moving out of the messages with Jean, he opened the one with Levi instead, taking a bite of his food and chewing slowly while scrolling, reading Levi’s commentary.

[Levi]
Now they’re looking through all the cabinets
[Levi]
Came out to yell at me again
[Levi]
Moving on to threats now
[Levi]
Begging’s started. That went quickly.

[JaegerMeister]
You’re such an ass
[JaegerMeister]
Lol
[JaegerMeister]
Just give Hanji back their phone
[JaegerMeister]
It’s probably where they keep all their photos of you that they jack off to

[Levi]
More of a reason for me NOT to return it.

[JaegerMeister]
You’re such an ass

He switched back to his conversation with Jean, frowning slightly when he saw the first text. He wondered if Jean’s flight was early, or if maybe he was running behind? Usually there was more time between when he arrived for his flight and when Jean left but apparently he was already making his way onto the plane.

[HorseFace]
BOARDINGGGGGG
[HorseFace]
EREN
[HorseFace]
IF I DIE
[HorseFace]
I’M SORRY ABOUT THAT TIME I FUCKED YOU WHILE YOU WERE DRUNK!

[JaegerMeister]
Oh fuck off, Jean!

[HorseFace]
I LOVE YOU DON’T FORGET ME!

[JaegerMeister]
I hope your plane doesn’t crash, HorseFace.

[HorseFace]
FUCK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
[HorseFace]
ILY I’LL POUND YOU LATER!

And there went Eren’s appetite, the brunet dropping his burger onto his tray and sighing, rubbing his face with his free hand before switching back to his messages with Levi.

[JaegerMeister]
So is Erwin your best friend for real then?
[JaegerMeister]
Like, he’s your Jean, I guess?

[Levi]
We’re not talking about the horse

[JaegerMeister]
You’re right
[JaegerMeister]
We’re not
[JaegerMeister]
Fuck that asshole
[JaegerMeister]
I’m just wondering about Erwin
[JaegerMeister]
You guys are close then?

[Levi]
Yeah

[JaegerMeister]
How come you never moved in with him?
[JaegerMeister]
After university I mean.

[Levi]
I did
[Levi]
We lived together for years
[Levi]
Hanji and I have only been roommates for a few years
[Levi]
I found them through an ad on Craigslist

[JaegerMeister]
And you weren’t scared they were a homicidal murderer?

[Levi]
No
[Levi]
I’m pretty sure I can take almost anyone

[JaegerMeister]
Except my sister

[Levi]
I told you, she caught me off-guard!

[JaegerMeister]
Uh huh
[JaegerMeister]
If you say so
[JaegerMeister]
Why’d you move out anyway?

[Levi]
I had to when Petra moved in

[JaegerMeister]
Erwin kick you out?

[Levi]
No
[Levi]
I kicked myself out
[Levi]
Their lovey-dovey bullshit made me puke every time I looked at them
[Levi]
Sex I could've handled
[Levi]
But the teeth-rotting sugary-sweet shit?
[Levi]
No
[Levi]
Besides, I’ll never admit it, but I don’t mind Hanji.

[JaegerMeister]
You just admitted it

[Levi]
Yeah, to you
[Levi]
Not them
[Levi]
They’re sticking their hand in the garbage disposal now
[Levi]
Fucking moron

[JaegerMeister]
OMG
[JaegerMeister]
Stop them!

[Levi]
They’re fine, don’t worry
[Levi]
Why they think I’d put their phone in there, I have no idea.

[JaegerMeister]
Where IS it anyway?

[Levi]
In the pocket of one of their pants in their room
[Levi]
Last place they’ll look.

[JaegerMeister]
Evil

[Levi]
They bought be a fucking prostate massager for my birthday
[Levi]
They’re lucky this is ALL I’m doing

[JaegerMeister]
Maybe they were trying to help
[JaegerMeister]
Figured by giving you something to shove up in there
[JaegerMeister]
You’d have to take that giant stick outta your ass first

[Levi]
Careful Jaeger, or this stick’s gonna get rammed up YOUR ass

[JaegerMeister]
Does that mean I’ll be able to walk ramrod straight like you?
[JaegerMeister]
I hope it doesn’t affect my height

[Levi]
You are a little shit, you know that?

[JaegerMeister]
Thanks, I’ve been taking lessons :3

[Levi]
Someone like you would have to, probably can’t tell your face from your ass.

Letting out a small laugh, Eren shook his head and shoved his phone into his pocket, grabbing his unfinished meal and throwing it out before returning the tray. He felt guilty throwing out food, but after all the comments from Jean, he really didn’t have much of an appetite. He’d have to find something equally as disgusting to Jean to torture him with.

Once he was all cleaned up and ready to head for his gate, he walked slowly towards it, pulling out his phone and grinning while texting Levi back.

[JaegerMeister]
So have you used it?

[Levi]
If you’re asking what I think you’re asking
[Levi]
I’m flying to your dorm and ramming it up your ass

[JaegerMeister]
So that’s a yes then

[Levi]
I’ll see you in a few hours Jaeger
[Levi]
Hope your asshole’s ready for this monster.

Eren frowned at the comment, and then received a picture. He looked around to make sure no one was looking and then opened it, making it bigger so he could see it properly. He felt his ass clench when he realized Levi was fucking holding it, showing off just how huge the thing was.

He’d looked up pictures of it online, but he hadn’t had an accurate representation of how big they could be. Now he did.

[JaegerMeister]
WHAT THE FUCK?!
[JaegerMeister]
HOW CAN THAT POSSIBLY FIT IN ANYONE’S ASS?!
[JaegerMeister]
That’s terrifying
[JaegerMeister]
Keep that away from me
[JaegerMeister]
No
[JaegerMeister]
No
[JaegerMeister]
I’m gonna have nightmares

[Levi]
Calm down, Jaeger
[Levi]
No one is going to ACTUALLY ram this up your ass

[JaegerMeister]
SERIOUSLY
[JaegerMeister]
HOW DOES THAT EVEN FEEL GOOD?!
[JaegerMeister]
HOW CAN THAT *POSSIBLY* FEEL GOOD?!
[JaegerMeister]
I feel traumatized

[Levi]
I am amused by your horror
[Levi]
Piss me off again and this will be your punishment

[JaegerMeister]
No like
[JaegerMeister]
I’m actually serious
[JaegerMeister]
How does that fit?

[Levi]
You relax enough and fuck enough
[Levi]
It fits

[JaegerMeister]
Would that fit in you?

[Levi]
Probably not right now
[Levi]
I haven’t had a good fuck in years
[Levi]
As a bottom, at least
[Levi]
I tried it out at first
[Levi]
Not really my thing

Eren didn’t understand how they’d moved onto a subject like this so easily. What even were they talking about at this point? Why were they discussing the giant, nightmare-inducing prostate massager? Eren still wasn’t sure he believed it was a real thing, despite Google telling him it was.

Taking a seat at his gate, Eren checked the time and sighed, feeling like he had an eternity left to wait. At least he had Levi to keep him company, even though the other kept bringing up various sex toys and taking pictures of them. This both terrified and humiliated Eren. Humiliated because people around could potentially see, and terrified him because what the fuck did people use some of these things for?! Seriously!

What the fuck use was a butt-plug?! And why did Levi have four of them?!

He liked to pretend all of these inappropriate items had been bought by Hanji, but how many birthdays had they spent together because he seemed to have a huge collection.

[JaegerMeister]
You’re not one of those weird BDSM types are you?

[Levi]
No
[Levi]
I’m friends with Hanji, remember?
[Levi]
They find any excuse to buy me weird shit
[Levi]
Including random anniversaries like the first time we went grocery shopping together
[Levi]
Or our first snowed-in day

[JaegerMeister]
So you’re gonna tell me not ONE of those things you showed me you bought for yourself?

[Levi]
My sex drive is way down
[Levi]
The urge to fuck or be fucked is not very common for me.
[Levi]
Or, you know, wasn’t.
[Levi]
Until recently

Eren didn’t know how to respond to that. They were moving into dangerous territory and he didn’t want to be in these waters. It was okay when they were joking, but he really didn’t want to know if Levi jacked off to pictures of him.

He was saved by the boarding call, using it as an excuse to have to turn off his phone. Levi wouldn’t know what rows they were calling, for all he knew Eren had been waiting for over ten minutes already and just hadn’t said anything because it wasn’t relevant.

[JaegerMeister]
They’re boarding now
[JaegerMeister]
I gotta go
[JaegerMeister]
I’ll try and remember to text you when I land

[Levi]
I’ll send you the prostate massager if you forget
[Levi]
So don’t.

Wincing, still thinking about the size and how fucking impossible it was for that to fit, Eren just amended his statement to confirm he would definitely text him when he landed and went to put his phone away.

Just like the last time he’d been sitting there, Levi sent him a message before he could power down his phone and he paused to read it.

[Levi]
Hey Eren

[JaegerMeister]
Yeah?

[Levi]
I hope your plane doesn’t crash.

Eren let out a loud snort that actually hurt in his throat before typing out another message.

[JaegerMeister]
Fuck you, Levi

[Levi]
Only if you ask nicely.
[Levi]
Text me when you land.

[JaegerMeister]
Stop ordering me around

[Levi]
You seem to like it, so I see no reason to stop.

Eren tugged at the collar of his hoodie, finding the recycled air of the airport a little warmer than usual. He attributed it to nerves from the flight, not necessarily liking flying much himself but usually doing much better than Jean. He thought flying was amazing, but everyone worried about their plane going down, not just Jean.

Clearing his throat, he texted Levi a farewell before turning off his phone and closing his eyes, tapping it against his forehead.

He felt like he should’ve been concerned with how easily they’d fallen back into this routine, but he wasn’t. If anything, he was happy. He liked that things were kind of back to normal, and he liked talking to Levi.

He still didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.


If Levi had known this was what his night would hold when he’d answered his phone, he felt like he might not have answered it. He honestly wasn’t sure, because a part of him was happy about it, but another part was annoyed.

Not to mention it had been almost an hour, and the phone was getting really hot in his hand, and against his ear. He had never known that Eren could talk so much in his life.

Usually, he’d be okay with it. It was just the nature of the call he wasn’t particularly pleased with.

“I’m sorry,” Eren said again, voice sounding nasally because he’d been crying for about twenty minutes. “I’m a horrible, horrible person.”

“It’s fine,” Levi said for the millionth time, voice monotonous and gaze locked on the wall in front of him. “Eren, you really need to find Marco.”

“No,” he insisted, another sob escaping him. “No, I can’t. I was so mean, and now you hate me.”

“I don’t hate you Eren, please go find Marco.”

“No,” he said again.

Hanji wandered out of their room, cocking an eyebrow at Levi before motioning him, seeming almost confused. “Are you still on the phone with him?”

Sighing, Levi nodded, sliding further down against the arm of the couch and stretching out his legs.

“How long does it take for alcohol poisoning to kick in?” Levi asked his roommate, not bothering to cover the mouthpiece since he was pretty sure Eren’s gross sobbing was drowning out anything he had to say, anyway.

“Don’t be like that,” Hanji insisted, wandering into the kitchen. “I’ll make you some tea.”

“Thanks,” he muttered.

This entire thing had been funny an hour ago, when Eren had called him completely hammered and acting weirder than usual. It became clear that he had moved from the happy drunk stage to the emotional drunk stage because within about a half hour, during which he’d been looking for Marco so he could leave, his happy-go-lucky attitude had suddenly shifted and he was talking to Levi about how horrible he’d been and how he didn’t deserve to ever be forgiven for how badly he’d hurt him. And now he kept apologizing for breaking Levi’s heart and insisting he was a horrible human being who deserved death for being so cruel while sobbing on the bathroom floor.

It was interesting to listen to, but also a little annoying after twenty minutes of it. He would’ve hung up on him if he weren’t worried about him. He didn’t know what kind of effect hanging up would have on Eren in his current state, and he was also worried about something happening to him if he didn’t manage to find Marco and get brought back to his dorm.

“Levi,” Eren said, voice still thick and hollow from crying.

“What?” he asked.

“How can you not hate me for being so mean?”

“You were angry,” he repeated. Again. “You reacted in an understandable way. You stayed angry longer than I’d have liked, but it’s in the past. We talk now, remember? We’re talking now.”

“But you were so upset. Like... how can you even bear to talk to me?”

“Because not talking to you hurts more.” He sighed in frustration. “Hey Eren?”

“Yeah?” the other asked, sniffing loudly. He probably looked really attractive right now, snot dripping from his nose, tears on his face. Levi was kind of glad he couldn’t see him.

“You feel bad, right? You don’t like that you hurt me? So can you do something for me?”

“Okay,” Eren said, sounding like he was starting to cry again. Terrific.

“Can you get up off the bathroom floor and find Marco for me? I don’t want your phone to die with you drunk off your ass at a random frat party. I want to know you made it home safe. So can you please go find him for me?”

Silence, and for a second, Levi worried maybe Eren had passed out. He didn’t like the panic that shot through him at that thought.

“Eren?”

“Okay,” he said, sounding dejected, like he thought Levi didn’t want to talk to him anymore.

Accurate, maybe, but not because he didn’t like him. Because he was tired of listening to him sob about the same thing over and over again.

He knew Eren was obeying because after a bit more sniffing and shuffling, sound exploded through the earpiece, making Levi wince and have to pull it away slightly. Eren had said he’d locked himself in a bathroom on the second floor, so he was obviously heading closer to the music on the first floor.

Hanji appeared beside him, holding out some tea, and he nodded in thanks while taking it, resting it on his jean-covered knee, holding it lightly at the rim. Hanji wandered away after that, calling good night, and Levi said the same.

It was harder to talk to Eren, or hear him, while he was searching through the crowds, so Levi just sipped at his tea while listening to the music. Ten minutes later, and his tea gone, he heard something that made him hopeful Eren would be getting home soon.

“Where have you been?! I’ve been looking for you for hours! Who the hell are you talking to?!” 

Looked like he’d finally found Marco.

“No! No, you can’t have it!”

“Shut up and give me the phone! Please don’t be Mikasa, Jean is this you?”

“Hi Marco.”

There was a brief silence—well, the speaking kind, not the music, though it was also less loud suggesting they’d gone outside.

“Levi. Hi. Um, sorry about Eren, he promised he wouldn’t get drunk but, you know, a lot going on and all.”

“Apparently.” Levi could hear Eren whining in the background, demanding his phone be returned to him. He could also hear weird slapping sounds, as if Eren was hitting Marco lightly in the face while trying to steal his phone back.

“He wants to talk to you again. Sorry, I’ll get him home and he should pass out quickly.”

“Fine.” Levi stood, deciding now was a good time to get ready for bed. He turned off the living room light before padding into the bathroom, shutting the door and putting his phone on mute so he could relieve himself.

“Levi.” Eren was back. “I found Marco. Do you still hate me?”

Managing to unmute with his elbow while washing his hands, he leaned closer to the microphone. “I hear that, good job, Jaeger.”

“You still hate me!”

“I don’t hate you,” he said with an annoyed sigh. “Can you please stop saying that?” Or I’ll start to, he thought savagely. He knew he didn’t mean it, but he really hated emotional drunks. Erwin was one, too, and it drove him insane. There was a reason he hated being around him during St. Patrick’s day, and that was it.

Hanji was a happy drunk, no surprise there. Petra was the odd one, because she was actually an angry drunk. The last time she’d gotten drunk, she’d started three fights and broken a mutual friend’s nose. As well as two of her own fingers, but she hadn’t realized that until the hangover had worn off.

Levi himself didn’t know what kind of drunk he was. Nobody would tell him, they all insisted it was funnier that he didn’t know. He didn’t get drunk often enough for it to bother him, so he never dwelled on it.

Eren was starting to cry again while Levi was brushing his teeth, hearing car doors slamming and Marco speaking loudly in the background, telling him where they were so he had an idea of how close they were to being back at the dorm.

Once Levi was done in the bathroom, he headed for his bedroom with the phone back at his ear so that it wouldn’t bother Hanji and then disappeared into his room. Setting the phone on his nightstand, back on speaker, he stripped out of his clothes and pulled on a pair of boxers and a loose shirt. It was cooler now that winter was here, but still not bad enough to warrant warmer sleeping attire.

Turning off his light, he climbed into bed and grabbed his phone again, keeping it on speaker and setting it down beside him on his pillow. He had to stretch to grab his charger, and knew it was dangerous to charge his phone while it was right beside his head on the bed, but he wasn’t going to keep it there. Once they hung up, he’d move it onto his nightstand, it was just that his battery was dangerously low and he didn’t know how Eren would fare if he suddenly disappeared given how he was acting right now.

“Okay, come on, up we get,” he heard Marco say over Eren still sobbing about what a horrible person he was. “Yes, yes, you’re sorry. Levi understands. Come on, let’s go.”

A car door slammed and Levi heard a chirp, suggesting Marco had managed to get them out of the car. What followed was mostly Marco snapping at Eren to keep him on his feet, and Eren insisting Levi hated him. Levi had to reaffirm every time that he didn’t or else Eren’s voice rose and Marco had to shush him. He figured he’d be nice and save Marco the wrath of the other people on their floor.

“Okay, let’s get you into the bathroom. Let’s hang up on Levi now.”

“No!” The panic in Eren’s voice startled him a little, Levi frowning and having to bring the phone closer to hear more clearly when they entered the bathroom and the sound echoed. “No, I can’t hang up on Levi! I always hang up on Levi! I can’t hang up on him! Don’t take my phone, no!” 

It was like a blow to the face, hearing Eren panic about that. He’d spent so much time around angry Eren after their falling out that he hadn’t ever really been able to learn about the more emotional side of what this had caused for him. All he knew was that he’d hurt Eren and made him angry. Now, he was learning that Eren was aware of all the horrible things he had done in return, even though he’d tried to ignore them during their fight and subsequent recovery.

“It’s fine, Marco,” he said when Eren’s panicking started getting worse, presumably because Marco had taken his phone. “Just mute him until you get him back to his room so I don’t have to listen to his sobbing ass.”

“Right, um, one second.” 

Silence. Levi rubbed at his face and let out a slow breath, the words Eren had just said replaying in his mind on a loop. Considering what he’d said, it meant Eren, at least subconsciously, was aware of the fact that he had hurt Levi. He was likely just trying to ignore it because Levi was too busy worrying about losing Eren that he didn’t feel that he could apologize without it being weird.

Levi had found it strange that he was the one Eren had called. Sure, he’d started out all happy and chipper, but as soon as he’d gone downhill, Levi should’ve figured it was because of guilt. Even Marco had said he wasn’t intending to drink, so he obviously had because something other than the possibility of being in love with a guy was on his mind. Which Levi didn’t even know was true, he was just assuming at this point.

So Eren did feel bad about his part in all of this, and just didn’t know how to talk about it. That kind of pissed him off, but he was also a little happy about it, too. He figured they could talk more tomorrow, if Eren was up for it, but he likely wouldn’t be. He would probably avoid Levi, given the idiot he’d been making of himself all evening.

“—ou hung up on him! Marco how could you do that?! He’s going to hate me! You hung up!”

“Eren! Eren! I muted us, he didn’t hear you talking!”

“Eren,” Levi said, feeling sorry for Marco and also happy for himself that he wasn’t the one dealing with the drunk guy hands-on. Drunk people were annoying.

“Levi, I didn’t hang up! I didn’t!” 

“No, you didn’t,” he agreed. “I’m still here, you were muted. Shut up and listen to Marco, please.”

“Okay. Don’t be mad.”

“I’m not mad.”

“See? Everything’s fine. He’s back now, will you get into bed?”

“Okay.” 

There was shuffling on the other end, Marco obviously trying to get Eren where he wanted him. A small click sounded, too close to the phone to be anything but the charger being plugged in.

“Okay, he’s still here and you’re okay. Please don’t keep your phone there all night. Talk to Levi and then go to bed, okay?”

“Okay.” Eren sounded like a little kid.

“Okay. Good night, Eren. Good night, Levi.”

“Night,” he said to Marco. He heard a door close a few seconds later, and knew Marco had left. He was alone with drunk-Eren again. “Are you in bed now?”

“Yeah, Marco told me I had to sleep.” He sounded put off by the mere idea of it. “I don’t want to sleep.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t want to wake up with you gone again.”

Levi scowled, hating the effect those words had on him. Like a punch in the chest. “You were the one who left me, remember?”

“I thought you’d come back.” Eren had spoken so quietly, Levi would’ve missed it if he weren’t so close to his phone in that moment.

“I did come back.”

“Don’t leave me again. I promise I won’t hang up this time, so don’t leave me again.” 

“I won’t.” This side of Eren was strange. He wondered if this was how the other had felt when Levi had finally explained everything. When he’d poured his heart out, in his own way, and explained the reason everything had happened the way it had. This wasn’t the Eren he was used to. He didn’t necessarily hate it, but it was weird. And a little worrying.

“Eren, are you okay?” he asked carefully. “I mean, us talking again... That’s okay with you, right?”

“You don’t want to talk to me anymore?” And the panic was back. “Why? What did I do? I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt you, I’m sorry Levi!”

“Eren. Eren!” He took the phone off speaker when the other’s voice began to rise again. “Eren, listen to me. Listen to me!” He finally managed to get the other to stop babbling. “Eren, it’s okay. A lot happened over the past few months, and I know it’s a big change for you. I know I’m not what you wanted, but you and me, we’re okay. We’re friends, and that’s a good place to be until you figure things out. Understand?”

“Okay,” Eren said quietly. “Will you stay?”

“Yes. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Okay. I’m gonna sleep now.”

“That’s a good idea. Don’t forget to put your phone away.”

“Wait, why?” And panic again. Jesus Christ drunk-Eren was annoying. “You said you’d stay!”

Levi had no idea what he meant until he realized Eren had been talking about right now. He wanted Levi to stay on the phone with him until he fell asleep. Shit, he hadn’t understood that.

“I’ll stay on the phone with you, but put your phone on the shelf. Don’t keep it on your bed, okay?”

“Okay.” There was shuffling and a loud thunk, and then more shuffling. “Good night, Levi.”

“Good night.”

Levi had set his own phone on the nightstand after putting it back on speaker, waiting to listen for Eren’s breathing to even out, suggesting he was asleep, but he ended up passing out first, his dreams filled with weird drunk-Eren’s doing completely random things.


He was dying. He knew he couldn’t be dead yet, because if he was, he wouldn’t be feeling this shitty. He’d be feeling nothing, and that would be preferred. His head was pounding, his stomach was churning, and his mouth tasted like someone’s ass.

Rolling over slowly, Eren managed to peel open his eyes, thankful that it was dark and gloomy outside so that the brightness of the sun didn’t destroy his retinas. How much had he had to drink last night? He didn’t even remember. He didn’t remember coming back to the dorm, but could only assume Marco had found him and dragged his ass home.

Great. Eren knew he was an emotional drunk, he’d probably been sobbing on Marco’s shoulder about being a bad friend or something. Shit, he’d probably called Jean, too. He always tended to call people closest to him when he was drunk to beg for forgiveness for some unspeakable act he’d done.

Apparently the last time he’d gotten drunk, he had called Jean and begged for forgiveness for having eaten the last cherry popsicle.

When they were eight.

His brain dredged up weird things sometimes, and he hated it. He was going to get made fun of all day by Jean now, he could feel it. He didn’t want to check his messages, he probably had a ton of them.

Groaning and rolling onto his back once more, he covered his face with both hands and whined. This was the worst, why had he gotten drunk?

“Eren?”

His eyes snapped open behind his hands and he slowly removed them from his face, sitting up and looking around his room. It was empty, right?

“Eren, are you awake?”

Oh my God, please tell me I didn’t. Slowly turning to look at his shelf, he found his phone sitting on it, plugged in like it always was in the morning. Reaching for it with one hand, he tapped the screen and then swiped the bottom so it would go to his home page.

Only it didn’t. It went to an active call that was currently on speaker. An active call that showed it had been active for fourteen hours and twenty-two minutes.

Doing some quick math in his head when he managed to catch sight of the time, he concluded that he had definitely still been at the party when the call had started. That meant that he had called...

“Oh my God.” Eren turned away from his shelf and covered his face in both hands again. “Oh my God, I want to die.”

“Alcohol will do that to you.”

Eren knew that Levi was perfectly aware that that was not why he wanted to die. Shit, he’d called Levi. He’d fucking called Levi! Shit! What had he said in his intoxicated state?! What if he’d said something he didn’t know was true? Like, maybe he’d said he wanted to fuck Levi, which Eren didn’t know he wanted to do! Not yet, anyway. He was still pretty conflicted about it. But shit! Shit!

“Calm down over there, Jaeger, it wasn’t that bad.” 

“Why didn’t you hang up on me?!” Eren demanded, turning back to his phone, gripping his shelf tightly with both hands and almost wanting to gnaw on the wood. Fucking hell, he wanted to die right now. “How long were we talking while I was drunk?!”

“A while.” Levi didn’t sound amused about it. Shit. Shit!

Fuckity fuck fuck fucking fuck fuckity fuck! Eren thought, actually digging his teeth into the wooden shelf, as if biting clean through it would solve all his problems.

“You were okay when you first called, just happy and drunk. Then you got weird, and started crying.”

Eren was going to go jump off the fucking roof. This couldn’t be happening, he always called Jean! Fuck! Fuck!

“Marco found you and brought you home, but you wouldn’t hang up and asked me to stay on the line with you until you fell asleep. I fell asleep first, and when I woke up and saw the call still connected, I felt like it’d be weird if I hung up on you, so I didn’t. Are you more sober now?” 

“Wish I wasn’t,” Eren admitted, banging his head once against the shelf and then grinding against it, feeling the hard wood biting into his skin. “Um, what exactly did I say while I was drunk?”

Silence. Jesus fucking Christ! This was bad. So bad. So very bad. Fuck. Fuck!

“We need to talk.”

The panic that shot through him at those words made him wonder how Levi had felt when he’d texted that to him. He didn’t realize how terrified he was of losing Levi until this moment, probably because this entire time, it had been Levi chasing him. Shit, what had he said?!

“Levi... Look, whatever I said last night, I’m sorry. I wasn’t... I didn’t mean to call you.”

“I think you did.” Levi was silent for a few seconds before continuing. “Eren, why did you keep asking me not to hate you? Is that what you think? That I hate you?” 

“I—what?” Eren looked up at his phone, frowning. “No, I... look, when I get drunk, I go through this... weird phase where my brain will remember something awful that I’ve done to someone and I’ll immediately call them to fix whatever it was I did to hurt them and beg them not to hate me. Usually it’s Jean, because let’s be honest, he and I tend to always have a bone to pick with each other. I guess... last night, I just...” He winced. “Listen, about last month—”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s over, it’s in the past.” 

“No, it’s not.” Eren rested his forehead against the shelf again, grip still tight on the wood. “Levi, you fucked up, and there’s no denying it, but you apologized and you did everything you could to fix it for both of us, and I just got to sit here and be angry about it. When I started texting you again, even before I went home, I was still a little mad but I think I started to realize that I wasn’t the only person who’d been wronged. You admitted to me that you didn’t know the protocol for this kind of thing because you’d never had anyone you cared about, and I was unfair to expect you to know everything that you should be doing. I told you to delete my number, and while you didn’t, you hadn’t spoken to me because that was the implication behind my order. You stayed away not because you wanted to, but because that’s what you thought I wanted. So to throw something back at you like ‘you shouldn’t have listened to me’ when you finally called me back... I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I made you the bad guy, and I’m sorry that I was unfair about this. I just—wanted you to hear it from me while I was sober. So, just know that I feel bad, and while it’s a little late for apologies, I truly am sorry for the pain I put you through. Just know that I was hurting just as much, even if you don’t believe me.”

There was a brief silence, and Eren figured Levi just didn’t really know how to respond to it. He’d often said he wasn’t into the sappy wishy-washy stuff, so it made sense.

“I believe you. I remember your voice, that first night we spoke. You sounded how I felt, so I know I hurt you. But thank you for acknowledging that you weren’t the only one who was hurt.” 

“Right.” Eren was staring at his phone, scowling slightly and wondering if he should just leave the conversation there. His brain had other ideas because when he opened his mouth, words came out of it without his consent. “Okay, I still need to talk about it. I mean—I think I was just so pissed that you lied that I couldn’t force myself to look past it, but after going home and talking to my family, listening to them ask about Hannah, I just...” He scowled. “You’re not the only one who lied. Jean, Armin and Mikasa were so hurt that I’d lied about Hannah being my girlfriend and I mean—I’ve been where you were, I was just there with my own friends. They were hurt, but they forgave me so easily. I did the exact same thing and they had the decency to forgive me and get over it. But when you lied to me, I was—I was a dick about it, not once, not even twice, but three times.”

“Our situation was a little different,” Levi said, voice sounding steady. It made no sense to Eren, how could Levi be so fucking understanding?!

“I know it’s different, but—just, be mad at me or something! Yell at me, tell me I’m a hypocritical dickwad!”

“I beat you up, Eren. That helped with the anger I felt. I’m over it now, it’s in the past.”

I don’t deserve you was on the tip of his tongue but he forced himself not to say it for two reasons. One was because he didn’t want to give Levi the wrong idea, and the other was because he worried that he would lose Levi as a friend if the other realized he agreed with that statement.

It was strange how easily they’d fallen back into their routine, and how scared Eren was of having that get thrown off again.

“Eren. It’s in the past. I’m not mad anymore.”

“But you were mad, right?”

“Of course I was.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You already said that, Eren. Let it go.” 

“Right.” Eren winced. “Ah, so what did I say, exactly?”

“You mostly just sobbed for me not to hate you. It was cute the first five minutes. The next forty-five, it got less cute.”

Eren laughed, then let out a small whine, embarrassed. “Oh my God, you should’ve hung up.”

“I didn’t want to hang up on you while you were like that. I didn’t know what would happen.”

“Sorry,” Eren said with a laugh. “I promise the next time I drink, I’ll have someone hide my phone. Jean’ll be happy, at least. First time ever he doesn’t get a call.”

“I’m glad it was me and not the horse.” 

Sighing at that, Eren just shook his head, wondering when Levi would get over his irrational hatred of his friend. Jean had been nothing but supportive ever since they’d first started talking again, so really, he should be cutting him some slack.

“Good thing you have a different phone now, otherwise work would’ve been really hard for you today, considering.”

“No kidding. I don’t have time to babysit drunk little shits, Jaeger, so don’t turn it into a habit.” 

“I won’t. I’m never drinking again.” He laughed, then groaned again, his head still pounding. “I am going to go apologize profusely to Marco and find some nourishment. I’m sorry I was insane last night.”

“It’s fine. Like I said, just don’t turn it into a habit.” 

“Right. I’m gonna hang up now, but not in a dick way. In a normal I-need-to-take-a-piss-way and I’m sure that isn’t anything you wanna hear.”

“You could always mute me like you did last night.” He could tell, even through the phone, that Levi was smirking. Shit, Eren was going to be embarrassed for months.

“Fuck you, Levi.”

“Only if you ask nicely.”

“Good bye Levi!” Eren hung up on him and then fell backwards onto his bed, feet on his pillow and head at the base.

He covered his face with both hands and let out a long, loud whine. He was so embarrassed he wanted to die. How could he have called Levi like that? He always called Jean, always. So why was it someone else this time?

Stupid question, he knew why. Who had he wronged recently in a much larger way than he’d ever wronged Jean?

He heard his lock click and knew who it was even before they spoke. It was obvious that Marco would’ve left with his key so he could lock his door, and also have the ability to unlock it in case Eren started choking in the middle of the night.

“How are we feeling today?” Marco asked, sounding perfectly chipper and pleasant.

“I trusted you,” Eren insisted, voice muffled behind his hands. “How could you let me call him?”

“You disappeared on me. I spent over an hour trying to find you. By the time I did, you were already on the phone with him, and you freaked out every time I tried to hang up for you.”

A louder groan left him at those words, knowing Levi had heard him and making him want to die all over again. He wondered if the roof was high enough that he could throw himself off it and actually die instead of just injuring himself. This was the worst. He felt like a loser.

“I heard you talking through the wall, so I’m guessing you were still connected with him?”

Eren nodded, hands still on his face. “I want to die.”

“I believe it,” Marco chuckled. “Come on, let’s get some food in you.”

Groaning, Eren finally let his hands fall from his face and rolled over, struggling onto his feet and grabbing the closest hoodie he could find. He was only wearing his sweats and boxers, Marco obviously having changed him, but he figured grabbing a hoodie and some shoes, he could survive the two minute walk to the commons where the cafeteria was.

“Let’s go,” he muttered after having shoved his feet into sneakers, taking the offered key from Marco and locking his door once they’d both exited.

“Hey Eren?”

“Hm?” he asked, still feeling nauseous—and embarrassed.

“I’m glad you’re both talking again,” he said with a kind smile. “You seem a lot happier than I’ve seen you in a while.”

“Thanks Marco.” They started down the stairs when something occurred to him. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Did you know? When he showed up here, did you know then that I would start talking to him again?” Everyone seemed to know more than him about this whole thing, and he was curious about whether or not it had been obvious to Marco that he’d eventually give up on his anger and forgive Levi.

“No, I didn’t.” Marco held the front door open for him, a small smile on his face. “I knew the day he called you and I could hear you screaming through the wall.”

“Right,” he muttered, shoving his hands in his pockets and recoiling at the cold. At least the covered walks were clear of snow. “Liking guys is confusing.”

“Oh, so you like him now, do you?” Marco teased, falling into step beside him and grinning from ear to ear. Marco didn’t often grin, it was a scary sight.

“Shut up,” Eren muttered. “I’m still... figuring it out.”

“I promise not to tell anyone.”

Eren just gave him an annoyed look before pulling open the door to the commons.


[Levi]
You’re awfully quiet over there
[Levi]
What are you doing?

[JaegerMeister]
I can’t be quiet? O_o

[Levi]
You’re never quiet when you’re doing homework.
[Levi]
I lived through that for a whole month, remember?
[Levi]
You were all
[Levi]
WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE THIS IS SO HARD
[Levi]
COMPLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIN I HATE THIS CLASS
[Levi]
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH WHO READS BOOKS ANYMORE ANYWAY?

[JaegerMeister]
LMAO
[JaegerMeister]
That last one is true
[JaegerMeister]
Books are a thing of the past
[JaegerMeister]
Who reads books anymore?

[Levi]
A lot of people
[Levi]
Hanji reads books

[JaegerMeister]
Hanji’s not exactly normal...

[Levi]
True.
[Levi]
What homework are you working on?

Eren’s eyes shifted to the first book on his desk that his eyes caught and texted Levi back with its subject.

[JaegerMeister]
Runology

[Levi]
I still think you made that class up

Eren set his phone down, rubbing his sweaty palms along his jeans and then looking back at his computer screen where he was not working on his Runology homework. He should be, but after a few weeks of solid texting and talking back and forth with Levi since Christmas, he had to know.

Though maybe not now. A few more texts would be okay, no rush or anything.

[JaegerMeister]
Are we still gaming tonight?

[Levi]
Depends

[JaegerMeister]
On?

[Levi]
Are you gonna suck less?

[JaegerMeister]
You’re such a dick, Levi
[JaegerMeister]
Jean asked if he could join us today
[JaegerMeister]
Wants to try and see if he’s improved since we last played together

[Levi]
No horse

[JaegerMeister]
Come on, why not?

[Levi]
You said he keeps joking about loving you
[Levi]
And fucking you
[Levi]
No horse

Eren scowled a bit at that, hating it when Jean talked about it, and hating it even more when Levi did. Jean still texted him in the morning sometimes with inappropriate things that ruined Eren’s entire day and made him recoil at the mere thought of doing any of those things with his brother.

Not blood-brother, but close enough. Still gross.

[JaegerMeister]
If I make him promise not to, can he play?
[JaegerMeister]
You know it’s worse for me than it is for you, right?

[Levi]
Fine.
[Levi]
He makes one comment though, and I’m kicking him out.

[JaegerMeister]
I will happily back you up if that happens :P
[JaegerMeister]
Thanks Levi

[Levi]
Shouldn’t you be working on your homework?

[JaegerMeister]
You were JUST complaining about how quiet I was being
[JaegerMeister]
Bringing up Jean is always the breaking point for you, isn’t it? :P
[JaegerMeister]
Seriously
[JaegerMeister]
We aren’t like that
[JaegerMeister]
And he’s in love with Mikasa

[Levi]
And Marco.

[JaegerMeister]
Exactly
[JaegerMeister]
Have you not noticed he has a type?
[JaegerMeister]
YOU’RE more his type than I am
[JaegerMeister]
He likes the dark hair and dark eyes bit

[Levi]
My eyes are blue

[JaegerMeister]
And mine are green, so by your logic, I am immediately not his type

[Levi]
Whatever Lover
[Levi]
Sorry
[Levi]
I didn’t mean that
[Levi]
Habit.

[JaegerMeister]
It’s okay.

Levi was extremely good at not calling him that when they spoke verbally, but it slipped out every now and then when they texted. Force of habit, like he’d said, and Eren could understand that. It had been like a punch to the face the first time he’d slipped up, but Levi had been texting apologies so fast afterwards that Eren had found himself laughing. He hadn’t even been angry about it, he’d just been shocked at seeing the word after so long of not seeing it.

And honestly, it felt kind of nice when it slipped out. He wouldn’t admit it to Levi, because he didn’t want him to know that he liked it since it would allude to him liking other things, but whenever he saw it, it reminded him of how good things had been.

How good things were again. Not the same, but close enough.

It was like the three months of not talking had been nothing. Like one of them had just been away as opposed to the two of them ignoring one another. They had both forgiven and forgotten. Well, not entirely forgotten, but things were okay now. They were good, this was good.

Levi never brought up the whole liking him thing, which he appreciated, but Eren would be lying if he said he never thought about it.

Because he did.

A lot.

He mostly talked to Marco about it, but occasionally he liked to call up Jean. At least he admitted he was in love with both a man and a woman, so it made it easier for him. Marco didn’t really seem to have an opinion on the whole gender thing, so Jean tended to be easier because he got where Eren was coming from.

He’d thought he loved a girl, who ended up being a guy, and it was weird for him. But not necessarily impossible just... an adjustment. He’d been trying.

But he wasn’t going to tell Levi that. Not until he was sure he could be okay with kissing a guy, being with a guy. Doing... other things with a guy.

“Gah!” Eren slapped himself in the face, both hands hitting either cheek hard enough for it to hurt. “Okay! Focus!”

[JaegerMeister]
Runology is boring
[JaegerMeister]
I should switch to English
[JaegerMeister]
But first I need to take a shower

[Levi]
At two in the afternoon on a Sunday?
[Levi]
You’re just procrastinating.

[JaegerMeister]
Yes
[JaegerMeister]
Yes I am
[JaegerMeister]
I’m going to shower
[JaegerMeister]
brb

[Levi]
Homework isn’t going to do itself, Jaeger

Setting his phone down on his desk, Eren placed both hands on either side of his computer, taking in a slow breath, and then releasing it. “Okay,” he said to himself, closing his eyes for a moment and then opening them again. “No big deal. Just watch one and see what happens. No big deal, nothing major.”

Inhaling deeply, he finally unpaused the video that had been sitting open on his screen for a good hour, clasping his hands together and putting them in front of his mouth, forcing himself to watch.

He really hoped the campus didn’t keep record of what people did on their computers, or everyone in their IT section was going to know that the guy who lived in this particular room of this particular dorm was currently watching gay porn.

And he really didn’t need people to be spreading that.

TBC...

Chapter Text

[Kamikaze-Head]
Okay
[Kamikaze-Head]
So
[Kamikaze-Head]
I watched it

Jean almost spat his drink out when he read Eren’s text, hastily swallowing his Coke before he choked and setting it down, gripping his phone with both hands before quickly typing out a message in response.

[Jean Kirschstein]
And?
[Jean Kirschstein]
What did you think?

[Kamikaze-Head]
Idk
[Kamikaze-Head]
It was
[Kamikaze-Head]
I mean idk

[Jean Kirschstein]
That’s...
[Jean Kirschstein]
That’s really not an answer
[Jean Kirschstein]
You know I won’t judge, right?
[Jean Kirschstein]
I’m the one who sent you the link so I can’t REALLY judge

[Kamikaze-Head]
I know
[Kamikaze-Head]
Idk, it was just... weird
[Kamikaze-Head]
And like...
[Kamikaze-Head]
People do that?
[Kamikaze-Head]
I mean, does that even feel good?
[Kamikaze-Head]
Doesn’t stuff, you know, get stuck in places?

[Jean Kirschstein]
You mean does shit sometimes get caught up in someone’s dick?
[Jean Kirschstein]
Yeah Eren, I’m sure it does
[Jean Kirschstein]
But it’s not like there’re no risks with fucking a vagina, either
[Jean Kirschstein]
You ever seen the movie “Teeth”?
[Jean Kirschstein]
That shit scared me off pussy for years

[Kamikaze-Head]
What?

[Jean Kirschstein]
I feel like that’s what Mikasa has...

[Kamikaze-Head]
Whaaaaaaat?
[Kamikaze-Head]
wtf is “Teeth”??????

[Jean Kirschstein]
A movie.
[Jean Kirschstein]
About a vampire vagina
[Jean Kirschstein]
Chick has teeth in her vagina
[Jean Kirschstein]
Guys who fuck her get their dicks bitten off

[Kamikaze-Head]
DUDE!
[Kamikaze-Head]
WHAT THE FUCK?!
[Kamikaze-Head]
See what I did there???
[Kamikaze-Head]
I’m so horrified I TYPED OUT WHAT THE FUCK!

[Jean Kirschstein]
LOL
[Jean Kirschstein]
I see that
[Jean Kirschstein]
It’s just a movie, Eren
[Jean Kirschstein]
Anyway, my point is, shit happens
[Jean Kirschstein]
HAH! No pun intended
[Jean Kirschstein]
And I mean, you can always ask to top

[Kamikaze-Head]
He’s not a bottom

[Jean Kirschstein]
You don’t know that

[Kamikaze-Head]
I do, he told me

Jean stared at his phone, wondering what kind of conversation they could’ve had where Levi bringing up his preferences in bed would’ve come up. He and Eren were really doing well if they were already talking about sex, though he doubted they were. It had taken Jean since the beginning of the month to convince Eren to watch this stupid fucking video—no pun intended. And he had finally managed to convince him to do it, so halle-fucking-lujah.

[Jean Kirschstein]
How exactly did his position come up in the course of normal conversation?

[Kamikaze-Head]
He showed me what Hanji got him for his birthday

[Jean Kirschstein]
Which was......?

[Kamikaze-Head]
I can’t tell you
[Kamikaze-Head]
He’ll kill me

[Jean Kirschstein]
Bro
[Jean Kirschstein]
I’m your best friend
[Jean Kirschstein]
You GOTTA tell me

[Kamikaze-Head]
No

[Jean Kirschstein]
Tell me

[Kamikaze-Head]
No

[Jean Kirschstein]
TELL MEEEEE

[Kamikaze-Head]
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
[Kamikaze-Head]
Ask him yourself when we’re gaming tonight.

[Jean Kirschstein]
Dickface
[Jean Kirschstein]
Anyway
[Jean Kirschstein]
Back on track
[Jean Kirschstein]
It was weird, of course it was, but like...
[Jean Kirschstein]
Would you be OKAY trying it?
[Jean Kirschstein]
Or.........???

Eren didn’t text back for a long time. Jean figured he was thinking about it. He couldn’t really blame him. He’d been a little thrown off himself when he’d first realized he was starting to crush on Marco, but he always joked about it and nobody had ever reacted badly to it, so he’d figured it was okay for him to like Marco. Out of curiosity, he’d looked up gay porn, and found he wasn’t completely repulsed with being in either position. That, to him, meant he was okay being with a guy and meant he truly did find Marco attractive.

He knew it was different for Eren. He was so set in his ways of being in love with a girl that even entertaining the idea of being with a guy was hard for him. He was getting there, slowly but surely. At least he’d watched the video, which was more than Jean could say he’d have done before finding out “Hannah” was actually a guy.

When Eren texted back, Jean glanced back down at his phone, wondering if Levi was about to get some good news, or some bad news.

Not that he’d tell Levi, he valued his life.

And didn’t have his number...

He should get his number, if only to ensure he could contact him in the future if he needed to murder him.

[Kamikaze-Head]
Idk
[Kamikaze-Head]
I mean, like I said, it’s weird
[Kamikaze-Head]
But like... idk
[Kamikaze-Head]
I don’t even know how I’m supposed to feel

[Jean Kirschstein]
Well, you watched it, which is a start
[Jean Kirschstein]
Maybe watch another one?
[Jean Kirschstein]
I have a few that I think you would be okay with

[Kamikaze-Head]
Can I ask you something?

[Jean Kirschstein]
Sure

[Kamikaze-Head]
Okay
[Kamikaze-Head]
So, the fucking part is not so bad
[Kamikaze-Head]
The whole shit concern is weird and all, but like, I think I could manage to just...
[Kamikaze-Head]
I don’t think that’d be IMPOSSIBLE for me
[Kamikaze-Head]
But like...
[Kamikaze-Head]
Would YOU suck someone’s cock?

Jean’s eyebrows shot up, not having expected that question. He leaned back in his seat, trying to think about it. Would he suck someone else’s cock? The thought of having his own dick in someone’s mouth was very appealing to him, but would he actually put someone else’s dick in his mouth?

He liked to say he would for Marco, but he honestly didn’t know that he’d just get on his knees and suck his dick. That seemed too... far.

[Jean Kirschstein]
Honestly?
[Jean Kirschstein]
I don’t know
[Jean Kirschstein]
I can’t immediately say yes, because I definitely am not exactly having happy thoughts about it
[Jean Kirschstein]
But I’d be lying if I flat out said no
[Jean Kirschstein]
I think... depending on the person, I would TRY, you know?
[Jean Kirschstein]
But Eren
[Jean Kirschstein]
Levi KNOWS how you feel about this
[Jean Kirschstein]
He isn’t going to ask you to suck his cock unless he’s a total moron
[Jean Kirschstein]
And considering how careful he’s been with you since you guys started talking again
[Jean Kirschstein]
I think your mouth is pretty safe

[Kamikaze-Head]
Right
[Kamikaze-Head]
Okay
[Kamikaze-Head]
Send me another one.
[Kamikaze-Head]
I’ll just...
[Kamikaze-Head]
Try another one and see
[Kamikaze-Head]
I mean, I’m not COMPLETELY grossed out, so that’s good, right?

[Jean Kirschstein]
Yeah, that’s good

[Kamikaze-Head]
I just kinda wish I’d kissed someone before this all started

Jean cocked a confused eyebrow at that, finding that to be a weird jump from porn to kissing.

[Jean Kirschstein]
Uh, why?

[Kamikaze-Head]
Because I feel like if I had, I’d be okay trying to practice with a guy here, just kiss him once, see if I’m okay with kissing a guy.

[Jean Kirschstein]
Eren
[Jean Kirschstein]
I say this with the most love I can muster
[Jean Kirschstein]
But are you fucking stupid?

[Kamikaze-Head]
Why?

[Jean Kirschstein]
You can’t just kiss a random guy and go “Yes, this is okay” or “No, this isn’t okay”
[Jean Kirschstein]
Like, Levi is not a RANDOM guy
[Jean Kirschstein]
You would never think of kissing ME
[Jean Kirschstein]
But you would entertain kissing HIM
[Jean Kirschstein]
Because it’s not GUYS in general that you like
[Jean Kirschstein]
It’s LEVI

[Kamikaze-Head]
I don’t like him
[Kamikaze-Head]
Yet, anyway
[Kamikaze-Head]
I’m still figuring it out

[Jean Kirschstein]
Eren, grow a set and admit it
[Jean Kirschstein]
You like Levi

[Kamikaze-Head]
How can I LIKE him if I don’t know that I could KISS him??????

[Jean Kirschstein]
You can still like him
[Jean Kirschstein]
You DO like him
[Jean Kirschstein]
You’re watching gay porn to see if you would be able to fuck him
[Jean Kirschstein]
Pretty sure that means you like him
[Jean Kirschstein]
JUUUUUUUUUUUUUST sayin
[Jean Kirschstein]
I’ll send you another link, just watch it and figure yourself out after

Setting his phone down, Jean went to his RedTube account and found one of his favourited links, sending it to Eren in an email before sighing and rubbing his face. Things were definitely getting better, but it was hard having Eren constantly questioning his sexuality about it. Jean himself was still struggling to be open with his own, it was just that Eren’s situation had forced his hand. He was okay admitting things like this to himself, but talking about it with Eren all the time freaked him out because he knew eventually he’d have to tell his parents.

He didn’t even know that Marco knew he liked him, he just teased him a lot, but Jean teased everyone.

It would really be best for Eren if he figured himself out on his own. Nobody else could tell him how he felt, or whether or not he would be okay with Levi. Only Eren knew the answer to that, and it seemed like, day by day, he was slowly getting himself closer to his own revelation.


Eren stared up at his phone, frowning slightly with one hand behind his head, the other holding the appliance above him. It was open on the picture of Levi that Hanji had sent him before everything had gotten fucked up. It was a good picture. Levi was reclined back on the couch, one hand out of the frame, obviously holding the phone, and the other sliding up under his shirt, dragging it upwards and exposing his incredibly toned chest.

Despite how surprisingly short Levi had been, Eren could admit he’d always kind of found him attractive. He had nice features, and pleasant symmetry. Eren didn’t hate looking at him, which was why he’d been staring at the picture on a daily basis for a few minutes each time, trying to determine how he would feel kissing him.

He’d never kissed anyone before, and it was weird to think he might have his first one with a guy. But did that really matter? Only if it sucked, he supposed. He felt like he was definitely more okay with kissing Levi than he was with fucking him.

A part of him wondered if maybe trying something like sexting would help. It wasn’t the first time he’d thought it, and he really wished he had the balls to ask Levi to at least try. If he could sext with him, maybe it would help him with figuring out if he could be okay with Levi. Then again, if the sexting sucked, it would just botch everything. He didn’t know.

Fuck, why was this so hard? Why couldn’t it just be easy? He either could kiss him, or he couldn’t. Why did there have to be a maybe in there?

Levi was hot, though. He could admit that to himself. Levi was really hot.

Actually... this was a good thing... Maybe.

If Eren could jack off to a picture of Levi, maybe he could answer his own question. He didn’t know how he felt about that thought, but it was a start, right? Something he could do without anyone finding out. He wasn’t exactly going to advertise it, so he didn’t run the risk of anyone asking him about it, which was good.

Hesitating only for a moment, he sucked it up—just like he had with the gay porn—and brought his free hand out from behind his head. He placed it on his stomach, staring hard at the picture, willing himself to feel something other than fear. Seriously, this was Levi. He liked him, didn’t he? Levi was hot, and it wasn’t like the idea of jerking off to him was repulsive. Eren didn’t even usually have anything in mind when he jerked off. Yes, he watched porn, but he didn’t usually focus on any one thing, so having some inspiration should be helpful, shouldn’t it?

He had just begun to slide his hand downward towards the hem of his sweats when his phone went off. It startled him so badly that he dropped it, wincing when it hit him in the face.

Picking it up hastily, he closed the picture and checked his messages. Ironically, the person who’d interrupted him was the same person he’d been staring at.

Levi had been busy all day—something he’d warned him about in advance, some kind of work thing where even his work phone would be staying home—so he was only now getting back to Eren on the text he’d sent him around lunch time.

[JaegerMeister]
Hey Levi
[JaegerMeister]
Do you think the guy who invented the elevator did it because he was too lazy to use the escalators?

[Levi]
You are so fucking weird, Jaeger
[Levi]
I’m pretty sure he did it because he was too lazy to use STAIRS
[Levi]
Escalators came after

Heart pounding in his chest, though he had no idea why, Eren decided it was safer to talk to Levi than to entertain thoughts like the one he’d just had. It was better for him to just stay focussed on Levi in a normal way as opposed to a sex way. He doubted Levi jerked off to pictures of him.

Actually, now he was curious. Fuck.

[JaegerMeister]
That makes sense
[JaegerMeister]
Elevators are weird
[JaegerMeister]
I mean, you’re basically cramming yourself into a tiny box with a bunch of strangers

[Levi]
Maybe YOU are
[Levi]
I don’t

[JaegerMeister]
??

[Levi]
What?
[Levi]
I’m one of those people you see in the movies
[Levi]
There’s a long corridor
[Levi]
And I’m in the elevator
[Levi]
And someone is running all “Hold the door! Hold the door!!!!!!”
[Levi]
And I’d lean forward and pretend I was trying to hold it
[Levi]
But really I’d be hitting the door close button
[Levi]
And when it started closing, I’d be like “I’m trying, it’s still closing. RUN FASTER!”
[Levi]
And then they’d close and I’d lean back and relish my empty elevator

[JaegerMeister]
LMMFAO
[JaegerMeister]
You’re a dick

[Levi]
Yes.
[Levi]
Yes I am.

[JaegerMeister]
What if he was being chased by people with guns?

[Levi]
Then I guess he should’ve run faster

[JaegerMeister]
That’s cold

[Levi]
That’s life
[Levi]
Don’t get chased by armed gunmen and problem solved
[Levi]
Like I’d WANT someone getting chased by armed gunmen in the elevator with me
[Levi]
I’d become collateral

[JaegerMeister]
True
[JaegerMeister]
So how was the work thing?

[Levi]
Hell
[Levi]
We had a bonding session
[Levi]
I was stuck with the girl who took over your contract for a while
[Levi]
It didn’t go well

[JaegerMeister]
In what way?

[Levi]
I made her cry
[Levi]
It wasn’t intentional
[Levi]
Then I got stuck with Hanji all day
[Levi]
Which was boring
[Levi]
Because Hanji and I are ALWAYS together

[JaegerMeister]
Too bad it wasn’t a BONDAGE session ;)

[Levi]
That’s what THEY said
[Levi]
You’re not allowed to talk to Hanji anymore

[JaegerMeister]
Try and stop me O_O

[Levi]
I could always kill them

[JaegerMeister]
Your house would rat you out

[Levi]
I suppose I could always count on you to bring some gasoline

[JaegerMeister]
Maybe :P
[JaegerMeister]
Depends how much you paid me

[Levi]
You’re richer than I am, jackass

[JaegerMeister]
You could pay me in favours
[JaegerMeister]
I have laundry that needs doing

[Levi]
I’m not touching your dirty underwear, Jaeger
[Levi]
It’s probably all full of jizz

Funnily enough, he would’ve been right today if he hadn’t interrupted him. Eren wished he had the balls to admit what he’d been about to do, but he would take that to the grave with him. For now, no one could know. It wasn’t like he’d even done it anyway, so no big deal, right?

[JaegerMeister]
Hey Levi?

[Levi]
What?

Some things never changed. He wondered if Levi would ever respond like a normal person.

[JaegerMeister]
Can I ask you something?
[JaegerMeister]
I mean
[JaegerMeister]
Something that might make you uncomfortable?

[Levi]
Eren
[Levi]
Hanji got me a prostate massager for my birthday
[Levi]
There’s nothing you could possibly ask me that would make me feel uncomfortable

[JaegerMeister]
Okay
[JaegerMeister]
Um, I was just wondering
[JaegerMeister]
You know, you have a lot of pictures of me
[JaegerMeister]
So do you like...
[JaegerMeister]
Have you ever jerked off to pictures of me?

[Levi]
Yes.
[Levi]
Why?

Eren didn’t know what he’d been expecting, but it hadn’t been that. He’d expected Levi to avoid answering, or maybe take a moment to do so and choose his words more carefully. But he hadn’t. Eren’s last message had been sent, and he’d received a response within seconds.

And not just any response, an admission. Levi did jerk off to pictures of Eren. Somehow, it wasn’t weird. He’d thought maybe it would be, finding out he did, but it wasn’t. He tried to picture Levi sitting on his bed, phone in one hand with a picture open, his other hand around himself. It was a hard image to conjure, and after a few seconds of trying, he gave up.

[JaegerMeister]
Idk
[JaegerMeister]
I was just curious

[Levi]
Does that make you uncomfortable?

Eren hesitated before answering, wondering if he should lie. Then he realized he couldn’t, for multiple reasons, the main one being he’d gotten pissed at Levi for lying so he couldn’t very well lie in response. Not about something like this.

[JaegerMeister]
Honestly
[JaegerMeister]
It doesn’t
[JaegerMeister]
Which feels weird
[JaegerMeister]
It SHOULD make me uncomfortable
[JaegerMeister]
But it doesn’t

[Levi]
Good
[Levi]
I wouldn’t have stopped

[JaegerMeister]
Even if I’d asked?

[Levi]
You wouldn’t have

[JaegerMeister]
But if I HAD?

This reply came slower, like Levi was thinking his answer over before actually giving it.

[Levi]
I don’t know
[Levi]
Guess it’s a good thing we’ll never have to find out
[Levi]
You should send me more pictures, while we’re on the topic

Eren snorted, shaking his head and beginning to laugh. Only Levi would be comfortable enough with anything to actually say something like that. He really didn’t have a brain-mouth filter, which was probably what made him so hilarious.

[JaegerMeister]
You have like, at LEAST eight of me
[JaegerMeister]
I literally have ONE of you

[Levi]
Are you saying you want more pictures of me, Jaeger?
[Levi]
Are YOU jerking off to pictures of me?

[JaegerMeister]
No

And he could proudly say that it wasn’t a lie. He hadn’t jerked off to pictures of Levi.

Yet, anyway. He’d come close, but not yet.

[Levi]
You’re not lying, are you?
[Levi]
Don’t make me fly up there with the prostate massager

[JaegerMeister]
Stay away from me with that thing
[JaegerMeister]
And no, I’m not lying

[Levi]
Were you thinking about it?

Dammit. He shouldn’t have asked, because now he’d backed himself into a corner. He’d been planning on taking this with him to the grave, but if he lied, he knew he’d feel like shit about it for days and would end up owning up. God dammit, Levi was a pain in the ass!

[JaegerMeister]
Maybe
[JaegerMeister]
Idk, it was just a thought I had

[Levi]
What stopped you?

[JaegerMeister]
Funnily enough
[JaegerMeister]
You did

[Levi]
Wait, you were thinking of it right NOW?

[JaegerMeister]
Before you texted

[Levi]
Oh
[Levi]
Sorry?

“Oh sure, now you say sorry,” Eren said with a scoff, feeling like he should roll his eyes but lacking the energy to. Levi was very self-serving sometimes. At least the other was aware of it, meant he knew when to tone it down.

His eyes rose when he heard a knock at his door, Marco opening it once Eren called for him to enter.

“Hey, I’m feeling like a snack, wanna run to McDonalds with me?”

Eren didn’t exactly want to go out in the freezing cold right now, but anything to save him from this awkward conversation with Levi.

“Sure. Give me a sec.”

Marco nodded and left the room, door still ajar. Eren looked back down at his phone.

[JaegerMeister]
Going to McDonalds with Marco
[JaegerMeister]
I’ll talk to you when I get back

[Levi]
Sure
[Levi]
Have fun

Eren started to put his phone away when it went off again. He tried to resist looking at it, but his curiosity got the better of him and he pulled his phone back out, opening his messages to find a picture of Levi.

He was lying on his bed—Eren assumed it was his bed—without a shirt, one hand buried in his hair and face angled slightly to the side. His gaze was on the camera, looking out of the corner of his eyes, and his lips were slightly parted. The angle made it very obvious Levi wasn’t wearing a shirt, providing more of a view of how toned he was.

Eren would be lying if he didn’t admit something downstairs stirred ever so slightly.

That was when he noticed the picture had a caption.

[Levi]
In case the urge ever hits you again.

He was going to fucking murder him one day.

Shoving his phone back into his pocket, he stormed out of his room and snapped at Marco to shut up when the other asked why his face was so red.


Levi didn’t have nightmares. He was a grown-ass man, and he certainly did not have nightmares because nightmares belonged in the age of children. Little, tiny, weak and pathetic little children. So to say that Levi had just had a nightmare would be incorrect, because he was a grown-up. Paid taxes and everything. So there was no possible way he had just had a nightmare.

He was certain he could convince his mind of this, but his body had other ideas, heart still hammering in his chest and sheets uncomfortable against his sweat-soaked skin. He scowled up at the dark ceiling, annoyed, trying to rid himself of the emotions running rampant through him at what he had just seen in his mind.

Even now, he felt uncomfortable with how much power Eren held over him, because his body should not be reacting the way it was in that moment. But, he had no control over it. He couldn’t stop himself from being afraid of losing him.

If, per se, Levi had had a nightmare just then, it wouldn’t have seemed particularly terrifying to anyone else. But to him? To him it was unpleasant enough to have jerked him back to consciousness.

He had Eren. He had him! He was all his, and they were doing unspeakable things together and it was amazing and everything he’d ever fantasized it would be. Everything was perfect.

And then in walked the fucking horse. With only a few pathetic words of admiration and love, Eren had left Levi hard and horny in bed while running off to embrace his childhood friend. In his dream, Jean’s face resembled a horse’s, which was partly why he’d been startled awake. It hadn’t been a particularly pleasant scene to witness.

Not to mention, Eren had fucking been kissing the horse!

It was irrational, and stupid, and completely ridiculous that he was so paranoid. Even he acknowledged how ridiculous it was, but he couldn’t help it! Jean was Eren’s friend, he was nice, he was good looking, they’d known one another for years, and Jean liked men! He was a threat, regardless of what Eren believed.

Jean. Was. A. Threat.

And one he was going to ensure did not get in his way!

Reaching for his phone, he unplugged it while sitting up and immediately scrolled through his contacts, searching for a name. He knew he wasn’t technically supposed to keep any numbers after contracts ended, but to be fair, Mikasa had given him the okay to save it in case of an emergency.

This was an emergency.

Tapping her name and hitting the ‘call’ button, he placed the phone to his ear and waited, listening to it ring. And ring. And ring.

It suddenly occurred to him that he had no idea what time it was.

“Hello?” a tired, clearly half-asleep voice said down the line while he checked the time on his phone.

“Mikasa, I need the horse’s number.”

Silence.

“Mikasa?”

“What?” she asked through a yawn. “Levi, do you know what time it is? Why are you calling at this hour?”

“I need Jean’s number.”

“At two in the morning?”

It was almost five for Levi, so she was obviously a few hours behind. It made sense, he supposed, she was in Canada.

“Yes. It’s important.”

“What is? If it’s about Eren, I can pass along the message.”

“I need his number.”

Silence. Had she fallen back asleep?

“Your evasiveness is making me feel like this isn’t urgent. I’m not giving you his number until you tell me why.”

Levi scowled. “That’s none of your business.”

“Then I guess you’ll have to find some other way of harassing Jean. Good night, Levi.”

The line clicked and he growled, pulling the phone away from his ear and calling her back. It went straight to voicemail.

He felt like Mikasa and Eren had to be siblings, considering they acted exactly the same. Spoiled little pissants.

Levi was not going to be able to sleep until he spoke to Jean. Until he made it explicitly clear that he was not going to tolerate any competition. He needed assurances that he wasn’t about to get Eren stolen right out from under him.

But how? Mikasa had turned off her phone, and he wasn’t going to call Eren. He didn’t want to wake him up—feeling more considerate towards him than Mikasa—and he also didn’t want to have to explain to him why he wanted Jean’s number.

“Think. Think.” He tapped his phone against his forehead, closing his eyes. There had to be a way. The internet? 411? He doubted it, most people had cellphones now, and those weren’t listed. Maybe he could hack his XBox account? Would his number be on his account? Probably not.

Did he have anyone else’s number? There had to be someone! It wasn’t like Levi hadn’t gotten close to all of them during this entire ordeal, barring that genius friend of Eren’s. Hell, even when Eren’s appendix had burst, he’d had Jean on his XBox for a while, so how was it possible he’d never gotten his nu—

Levi leapt out of bed and strode to his door, wrenching it open so hard it actually jerked his arm. Ignoring the sting, he walked the two steps across the hall to Hanji’s room and threw the door open, his roommate jerking up in bed with an incoherent sound of fright.

Ignoring them, he stalked to their bedside where their phone was and snatched it up, swiping along the bottom and moving to their contacts.

It was so stupid. All this time, all those months, everyone had wanted to get in touch with him, and they’d had the ability to all along. Hanji didn’t delete anything, so he knew they still had it. He knew it was in there somewhere, he just had to find it.

“Levi? What’re you doing?” Hanji asked sleepily, falling onto their back once more and rolling over, curling into their pillow. “It’s too early for your crazy.”

“You’re calling me crazy?” Levi muttered, still scrolling.

Then he saw it. Right there.

Eren’s Friend.

How could he have forgotten that Jean and Hanji had been texting when Eren’s appendix had burst? He felt so victorious to have this number without Mikasa’s help, and even allowed a hint of a smile to cross his features while he sent himself the contact.

Tossing the phone back onto the nightstand, which earned him a grunt from Hanji, Levi left the room and shut the door behind himself, moving back to his own and also shutting that door. Heading for his bed, he took a seat on it and opened his messages, copying the contact into his phone under an appropriate name before hitting the ‘call’ button.

He didn’t care what time it was for Jean, either. He would wake him up and make it clear he understood exactly what would happen if he stole Eren from him.

When the line clicked, the sound that escaped the individual on the other end could hardly be classed as human, suggesting it was Jean. He was part horse, it made sense.

“Jean.”

“Levi?” the other asked, sounding a little more human. “What the—what time is it?” A loud groan, movement, and then silence. “Wait—shit! Is Eren okay? What happened?” He sounded much more awake now, which was good.

Levi needed him conscious for this.

“Listen to me very, very carefully, Kirschstein. Your life depends on it.”


“I can’t believe Jean bailed. What did you say to him the last time we gamed? He legit won’t talk to me about it.”

Levi smiled privately to himself, but just made a half-hearted sound of confusion. It wasn’t that he’d been mean to Jean or anything, he had just made it explicitly clear to him that if he lost Eren to him, he was going to chop off Jean’s man bits.

Jean seemed uninterested in playing with them since that conversation. Not that Levi minded, it gave him more time to monopolize Eren, which was always the highlight of his day. Then again, he had to be careful that his grades didn’t slip, otherwise that may cause problems.

“On your left, the guy picked up a grenade launcher.”

“I see him.” Levi’s character ducked behind a building for a few seconds before rushing out from the side and taking out the enemy character. It wasn’t a bad day overall gaming-wise. He and Eren had been doing well, over and over in their levels. He just didn’t like that Eren seemed a little... quiet.

He’d been really quiet overall lately. Not as many “do you know what I wonder?” texts. They didn’t talk much during gaming anymore either, unless it was to give each other direction.

It wasn’t that Eren didn’t talk to him, he did, they still texted, but it was like he was being less vocal. Like something had changed, and Levi didn’t know what it was. Eren wasn’t different, per se, he was just quieter.

“Hey Eren?”

“Yeah, what’s up?” he asked, sounding distracted. Levi saw him getting chased by another character, which explained his distraction. He switched weapons and then lined up a shot, taking the guy out. “Thanks. What’s up?”

“Are we still okay?”

It felt weird to be asking Eren that almost a month and a half after they’d started talking again, but he couldn’t help it. He felt worried and confused about why Eren kept pulling away a little bit. He wished things could go back to exactly how they were, which they had for a brief period, but now they seemed... he didn’t know.

Different. Not bad different, but different in general, which was a concern. He was worried Eren was about to up and leave on him again.

“Yeah,” Eren said slowly, sounding confused. “Why? Do you think we’re not okay?”

“You’re different,” Levi admitted, continuing to play. “And quiet.”

Eren said nothing to this, and they both continued with their game, only speaking occasionally when they had to give each other pointers or ask for cover.

When the round ended in their victory, Levi