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The Nerd and The Jock

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So this thing happened, um, yeah.... 

 

Someone got into my co-author's account and deleted both the works we were working on, so I'm going to start uploading the chapters again. 

 

I'm really, really, really sorry if anyone was really invested in this fan fiction.... but...

 

I won't be uploading for a bit, I'm still trying to get this all sorted out, I'm really sorry. The 57 chapters we have are split between 26 maybe 27 documents... I'm sorry but it might be a very long time until more comes out....  I hope you all understand. 

 

Thank you

 

~Duke

 

Hey guys it's me again.... (3/31/17)

Hello, readers, this is Duke, I regret to inform you that I will be unable to continue writing this fan fiction.... that being said, someone has messaged me about continuing this on their own so please go check out TNATJ for the rest of their awesome chapters that they can think of! I hope you will forgive me for this... but it's been too much stress lately, and now I will get to read right along side you wonderful readers. Here's the link for the continuation from the posted chapters on.... 

TNATJ

Chapter Text

No wonder he was so popular, he could tell already.

Walking in between Jean  and Erwin, Levi fit in perfectly. Though he was a bit on the short side, he acted the part of a jock, walked like one, and even talked like one. The faint smirk on his face was barely visible as he kept his head down in it's usual position. His steely eyes captured the gazes of every girl he passed, which wasn't a surprise. Meanwhile Jean, Levi's fellow athlete, slapped Mikasa--who was Levi's cousin--on the butt.

"I'd tap that," he joked as she turned around to scowl at him.

Who was watching all this, you ask? Can't you guess?

Eren Jaeger. He was well aware that he would never have a chance with Levi; he figured that out quickly, plus, Levi probably didn't even know Eren, with him transferring in today

Eren was a thin, weak, brainy nerd. His thick rimmed glasses hid his eyes, but it wasn't like he could take them off. Unlike stereotypical nerds, the glasses didn't have tape in the middle and he didn't possess any acne, but it was quite apparent that he was a dork. He didn’t play any sports and often stammered out words when he was asked to answer something in class. He scored perfect on his tests, and most kids ostracized him for it. He hated being left alone at the lunch table, but he found it better than being shoved in a locker… that had happened a lot in middle school.

Maybe I should move on , he thought. In fact, I have to. God, is it bad to wish that someone is gay? The bell rang above his locker, pulling him back from his thoughts. He dreaded first period, he liked the teacher, and the subject: chemistry, no doubt about that. What he hated about it was the people he sat next to, all of them. He was surrounded by jocks. Levi was to his right, Erwin was to his left, and Jean in front of him. The boys always talked about the upcoming pep rally for the football team, or how they aided to the huge lead they won by.

 

Before the teacher was able to enter the classroom, Jean harshly jabbed his fingers into Eren’s side. He flinched and looked over to the boy with slightly frightened eyes. “C-can I h-help you?” He asked and seemed to shrink as his voice squeaked out.

Jean simply snickered, “You coming to the Pep Rally later, Nerd?” Jean watched him with almost predatory gaze, like he would sink his fists into Eren without hesitation.

Eren took a few seconds to think about it, but knew that if he went he would be home past curfew, and for that his father would kill him. “No, I can’t go, I-” he was cut off with the teacher taking a textbook and dropping it onto his desk.

“Alright class, quiet down! Let’s get to learning shall we?” The eccentric teacher smiled. She was happy because today was a lab day and she simply loved experiments.

“Mrs. Hanji, are we going to have to pair up?” One student asked; her grin only seemed to get wider.

“Of course! So these will be the pairings …” Mrs. Hanji continued to call out the pairs. Eren’s heart sunk, as his name wasn’t called with any of the productive workers in the class. However, his worrying wouldn’t be in vain. He felt his heart skip a beat as he was called to be partners with Levi. Maybe this is a good way to get to talk to him? What should I say to him? OH MY GOD!!! Why am I even THINKING about this? He’s not even GAY! PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, EREN!! His thought process was stopped when he faintly heard someone call his name. He snapped his head up and looked over to his partner with his vibrant green eyes.

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

Levi simply let out a “Tch”, leaning back in his seat more as he crossed his arms over. “Why do I have to get stuck with the Nerd?” he asked to no one in particular, his voice completely monotone with disinterest. He glanced over to see Eren seemed to shrink more once he heard those words. Why does he look so sad? I don’t want to be stuck with him! He’s going to try and get me to work too. Guess I’ll have to ask Mrs. Hanji-

“M-mrs. H-hanji?”

“Yes, Eren?”

“C-can I c-change my l-lab partner?” he stuttered out, looking very upset.

Oh good, he asked for me. Guess he doesn’t want to get stuck with me either. Well, I can’t really blame-

“No Eren, you and Levi will be lab partners ‘til the end of the year.” She paused for a second to raise her voice to get everyone’s attention, “That goes for everyone else too! You will be lab partners for the rest of this year! Better get acquainted with each other now!” She smiled devilishly as a majority of the class groaned.

Levi glanced over at his lab partner and noticed that the Nerd had simply paled and started to clam up. “What’s wrong with you, Nerd? Cat got your tongue?” he asked quietly, smirking a bit as he did so. He looks mortified; do I really scare him that much? I mean, I know it’s his first day as a freshman, but there was no need to be afraid of your upperclassmen. “Oi, say something, Brat!” Levi monotoned.

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

Eren looked down and then back up to his partner. “S-sorry, I-I’m just worried a-about the assignment,” he said honestly. They were going to be testing the colors of different substances as they were burned. That was Eren’s fear, FIRE. He swallowed hard; he didn’t want to tell Levi about why he was so afraid of it. Especially since they had only met a few minutes ago. He watched as Levi’s brows furrowed and he noticed the assignment as well.

“Do you have a problem with fire or something?”

Eren’s heart almost stopped and he paused for a moment, trying to rack his brain for something to say.

“Wait, nevermind, I do not want to know more about you than I already have to.”

Eren’s heart seemed to sink further. Alright, so his good looks is what makes up for his horrible personality. Dammit all, why do I always fall for those that can only hurt me more?

Eren took a deep breath and somehow he made it through the experiment without freaking out too bad. He was mostly in charge of writing down detailed observations. He waited until they were done, hoping that Levi wouldn’t speak to him. He didn’t want to stutter anymore, but at the same time he wanted Levi to talk to him and show him a smile on his normally stoic face. He had noticed that during the hour, Levi had a perpetually disinterested face throughout the class. He was writing down a few more notes when Levi spoke up.
“Brat, what are you writing down? I want you to send that to me. I am not getting a bad grade in this class because of your lazy ass not sending me shit.” he hissed at Eren. Eren nodded and simply looked down at his papers and handed them to Levi.

“C-can you write y-your email, or your ph-phone number up h-here?” He stuttered out. He knew Levi wouldn’t notice, but he was doing better with the fluidity of his speech, even after just speaking with him for a little bit. He watched as Levi hurriedly wrote down both his number and his email as the bell for the end of class rang. He was disappointed that he couldn’t stay with Levi any longer than this.

“Don’t forget to send me the notes, Brat.” Levi said before turning and leaving the boy to go into the crowded hallway.

Eren watched as he left and he got through the rest of his classes. He wasn’t picked on as much, as they were freshman classes that he was required to take as a freshman, not his accelerated courses, like chemistry. He made it to lunch without seeing the short jock at all, which seemed to calm his nerves a bit. No one really tried to talk with him or make any friends with him, and though he was lonely, he was grateful no one was trying to pry into his life.

 

At lunch, Eren took one glance over the cafeteria, losing his appetite as soon as he laid eyes on Levi’s table.  Girls of all grades were crowded around the football team; there were so many of them Eren could barely see the other side of the cafeteria, let alone even walk by them all.

Shit! I can't get to the doors without walking past them. Eren resolved the conflict in his head. He could do it if he just didn't look up. He had to. I want to eat; I didn’t eat dinner last night, or breakfast this morning… I need to eat!

Walking faster than usual, he made his way past the crowd. He'd almost made it, but his bag got caught on Annie Leonhart's bag, nearly knocking her off the bench.

"The hell, dork?! You try'na start shit?" Jean was quick to react, towering over the small brown haired boy. Giving him only another nickname to allow others to call him by.

"U-uh, no! I-I was j-just walk-" Jean pulled Eren up by the collar, bringing him so close that Eren could smell the strong man's breath.

"I fucking dare you to do that again, Jaeger." So they did know his name, and only after one class together, amazing.

"Oi, Jean. Put the kid down." Eren never thought he'd hear the words, but Levi Ackerman had just stood up for him. At this point, he didn't care what happened. He felt like turning his head to thank Levi, but that would have been too much.

"No! He's try'na steal my bitch~!" Jean quickly slammed Eren against the wall. Where are the teachers when you need them? In a matter of seconds, Jean had struck Eren across the nose, which was now bleeding and just refused to stop.

"The hell, Jean?" Other people from the football team were now crowding around the two, most of them taking neither boy's side and just watching it play out.

"The FUCK is wrong with you, Jean," Levi stood up confidently, crossing his arms and walking heavily toward Jean. "The Brat did nothing. He was just walking, and now you broke his nose."

Eren stood in shock, trying not to shake. He brought his sleeve carefully to his nose and touched it. It came away drenched in blood. Was it broken? No, he could feel it, it definitely was.

"You okay, Brat?" Levi put his hand on Eren's shoulder.

FUCK. WHAT IS THIS. WHAT DO I DO. WHAT'S HE DOING. HE'S TOUCHING ME. HELP.

"U-uh, y-yeah," Eren answered and immediately regretting his stutter. Levi leaned in close to Eren's face, inspecting his nose. Eren blushed like mad, a bright sheet of pink decorating his cheeks. Why do you need to be this close to me! Stop! Seriously! I won’t be able to take this!!!

"Why don't you come with me. That looks pretty bad," Levi offered.

"Um.." Eren stuttered, at a complete loss for words. Should he go? Or should he not go? He had no choice in the matter as Levi dragged Eren down the school hallway and into the bathroom. He shut the door behind them, made sure they were alone, and then turned to face Eren.

"Here," he handed the brown haired boy a paper towel to clean his nose off. Eren thanked him and took it, wincing at the pain when he touched his nose. Ya, it’s definitely broken… Great, Dad’s going to beat me. He continued to think of excuses as to how he would explain this to his father on his first day of school. He thought of so many different excuses he could make up for the broken nose, but none sounded good enough for him to tell his father. Levi’s stoic voice brought him out of his thoughts as soon as he started speaking to Eren again.

"So, what were you trying to accomplish back there, Brat?" Levi asked with his familiar smirk on his face. Eren stuttered as if he didn't know what Levi meant, and truthfully, he didn't. "Come on, when you caught Annie's bag? There had to be a reason. No one would dare to fuck with Jean, or his girl."

"N-no, I-I’m just really clumsy," Eren blushed and looked down at his fingers, hoping that Levi wouldn’t notice the blush forming on his cheeks.

"You're shy, too," Levi blurted out, as if it were simply him stating facts, “You barely talked to me during Chemistry; I thought you were going to talk my ear off about being a Freshman in a Junior class.”

Eren couldn't believe it, Levi actually thought he would brag about himself? Sorry to ruin your party train, but I do not like people looking at me!

“And why is that, Brat?” Levi’s voice seemed to raise a bit as Eren realized his mistake. He had said everything out loud. Oh great, now he’s gonna beat me up too, and then I’ll really be begging Mrs. Hanji for a new lab partner.

“Oi, Brat! I’m waiting for a reply.” Levi’s voice made Eren look back up to see how his eyebrows were furrowed. Dammit, even when he looks angry he’s hot. Why does the world hate me and make me gay! God I hate this!

“Sorry, I-I..” Eren trailed off as he felt the warm tears start to pool at the corners of his eyes, “I-It’s because y-you’ll think I’m a f-freak.” Eren stuttered out, finally finding his words. He only saw Levi’s eyebrows furrow more, though this time he didn’t look angry, he looked confused.

“Why?” Eren couldn’t stop his own voice from saying what was on his mind.

" I-I’m gay, I-I think I'm in love with you.. and I'm terrified. "

Eren’s heart stopped again for the second time today. SHIT! I SAID IT! I ACTUALLY SAID IT! Why did I say that? It’s not like he’s gonna actually do anything about it! This is gonna make my life miserable! He’s going to tell everyone in this school, and I’m going to get beat up by the entire football team. Ya, that’s probably what’s going to happen to me as soon as he walks out of this bathroom.

“Okay, sorry, but denying your offer, Brat. And stay away from me, I don’t need any of your homo-hormones rubbing off on me,” He spat back at the other and he left, but what he did do was keep Eren’s secret safe with himself.

Chapter Text

How the hell am I going to explain this to my father? Seriously! I can’t just tell him that a jock hit me for no reason…. He would never believe me. He groaned as he walked the 3 miles from school to the house he and his father just moved to from out of town. He couldn't say he didn’t like the town; it was beautiful in all aspects, even the houses that continued down the streets, it was just that everything is too far spread out for his liking. Why did he have to get a house that was this far from the high school! Does he think I’m fat? God, just another thing for him to be angry about.


Eren finally finished his long walk home, only to find that the house was completely empty. He heaved a sigh of relief, not knowing if he’d be able to face Grisha just yet. I wondered if he would even bother to ask if I had a good day at school. Or will he just start with the drunken beatings? Probably the latter.

 

The loud growl of his empty stomach was what brought him out of his trail of thoughts. That’s right, I didn’t get to eat lunch. Great. I should probably go and get something to eat… He tried to think of something that was most likely in the house for him to cook, but his mind drew a blank every time. Eren walked begrudgingly down the stairs, wondering if there even was any food he could make that wouldn’t be too hard to keep down if Grisha actually decided to beat down on him as soon as he saw Eren’s face.

 

He sighed again and just opted for pasta. That shouldn’t hurt my stomach too much, should it?
Moving to get the pot, Eren winced as his wrists rubbed up against his long sleeved shirt.

 

I just opened them up again didn’t I?

 

He turned his sleeve over to see that he had in fact reopened the wounds he continued to give himself. He sighed again. Geez, I’ve been doing that a lot lately… Guess it’s just the thing that my poor little homosexual heart deems fit to do.

 

He lifted the pot up again, ignoring the burning sensation of the cotton shirt dragging against his now open wounds. He would just let them burn, he liked the pain, though he would never admit it to his father. That would be a death sentence. He liked the small dull ache there was on his wrists because it anchored himself to the horrible reality he found himself in all time. He absentmindedly watched the water fill the pot, just noticing how the bubbles came rushing in with the water, only to disappear milliseconds later. Eren then tried to take the now full pot from the sink to the stove and found that it was near impossible, but somehow laden with  the heavy pot he managed to make his way to the stove.

 

Note to self: Don’t fill the whole pot with water next time .

 

He glanced at the clock on the stove as he reached to turn the stove top on. He turned it on  as high as it would go, hoping to get the water to boil quicker. He didn’t want to have to deal with Grisha while he was eating… No. That had happened before, and he didn’t want to be throwing up all over his father just to make him more furious. The clock read 5:57pm.

 

Great. He’s going to be home soon--

 

*Click*

 

And now I realize why the world hates me.

 

Eren turned his focus from the pot to the front door, he could almost feel the alcohol coming off of his father in waves. It tempted to knock him down, but his father got to it before the stench could. Eren didn’t have time to react as Grisha charged at him with the force of a bull, knocking his son down to the floor immediately.

 

“Get up, you worthless piece of shit.” Grisha shouted at the boy he had just knocked down to the ground. His eyes only darkened when Eren raised his head to look up to his father.

“What the fuck did you start a fight at school for!?” His mind immediately headed to the possibilities where Eren was the sole purpose of his broken nose. It didn’t help that Grisha was a doctor, and noticed right away. “ANSWER ME YOU LITTLE SHIT!!” He spat out and moved to kick his face, further shattering the already broken nose that Eren had.

 

Eren groaned and was at a loss for words when he got up and put a hand to his face, only to find that his hand was completely covered in warm, scarlet blood. He gasped when he saw it and looked at his father again. He started, “D-dad, I-I can e-expl-” but he was cut off with a sharp kick to the gut.

 

“DON’T call me your father! YOU ARE NOT MY SON! ” Grisha shouted at the top of his lungs, getting another well placed kick between Eren’s arms and on his chest, feeling a satisfying crack as he broke the weak boy’s ribs. “ NEVER CALL ME YOUR FATHER EVER AGAIN.”

 

Eren nodded hurriedly and tried to back away already knowing not to talk back at his father. He was beyond drunk, and it would only get worse if he tried to fight back. He had already found out about that too. He gasped for air when he felt Grisha’s second kick land on his chest. He could feel the crack of his ribs, and couldn’t help but scream in pain. He coughed a bit and he noticed the specks of blood flicking out. Fuck that hurt… Did I puncture something? Eren could only question this for a few seconds before he felt a solid crack on his back. The pain was excruciating, though sadly, he was used the trademark sting of his father’s belt. He cried out in pain again as he tried to crawl away from his father hulking figure looming above him. “P-p-please...ahhh....s-s-stop...ahhh” Eren cried out in pain as he tried to reach for a chair so he could get up from his spot of the floor. His hand was covered in blood from his nose still, he wanted to desperately to get away from his father at that moment. His fight or flight response was kicking in and it was telling him to ‘get the hell out of dodge’. He struggled to reach for the chair again as he was pelted with the belt he so dearly hated. He could feel every welt across his back, he could count them if he wanted to, but to be honest, he didn’t want to count them right now in this situation. There’s at least 20 now, maybe more…. A few more seconds went by and he could feel that blood was starting to pool from his back, It’s definitely more than 30 by now, will I be able to get up?
Eren didn’t want to think about the what if’s at the moment and finally reached for the chair, only to have his father stomp down on his raised arm with such force they could both hear the sickening crunch as Eren’s arm hit the floor under Grisha’s boot. The poor boy screamed out in pain and tried to pull his arm back, out from under his father’s boot. That was a task in itself, since Grisha was determined to keep the boy down on the cold floor. Grisha reached over to the pot of boiling hot water as he kept his foot on the writhing boy’s arm.

“This should help with your wounds.” He smirked as he began pouring the scalding hot water all over Eren’s back.

 

All Eren could do was brace himself for the horrible pain that was about to ensue, but he didn’t realize the pain would be this extreme. The water felt like lava all over his back, searing the opened and ripped flesh so much that some of the flaps of skin on his back almost looked to be cooked. Eren let out a gut-wrenching scream for a long time, as the water had pooled in his lower back where a majority of his wounds were. Grisha had him pinned where he was and so he couldn’t move. Eren was forced to wait until the boiling water finally cooled against his skin. IT was a good 5 minutes before Eren’s screams had finally died down and he noticed just how much blood was pouring out of his mouth. He coughed again and even more blood came out to mix in with blood and water that drenched the kitchen floor. He knew his father would make him clean this up until his fingers were raw from scrubbing with bleach.

 

“WILL YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP!?” Grisha roared as Eren began sobbing loudly, unbearably obnoxious in Grisha’s mind.

 

Eren tried to quiet his cries and plead for him to stop this brutal attack. Though Grisha seemed less than pleased at the boy’s pleas, and simply lifted him. Eren cried out again as his tarnished body was suddenly jerked up by his father’s hand. He gasped and sobbed weakly as Grisha easily hung his thin body in the air.

 

“I told you to SHUT UP!” He growled and dropped the boy to the floor and let him crumple into the wet mess. Sadly for Eren, he couldn’t hold in his cries, it simply hurt too much for him to quiet himself enough for Grisha to be pleased.

 

Eren gasped for air as he felt a large hand wrap around his bony neck and lift. He was desperate for air and trying to get away from his grasp. It hurt, he couldn’t breathe, his lungs felt like they were on fire. He tried to let out a plea for Grisha to stop but all that came out was a choked sob. He felt as Grisha’s fingers dug in close around his small neck. Is he trying to kill me? At this rate he will end up killing me… well, Levi will be pissed that he’s never gonna see those notes for Chemistry. Damn it, I won’t be able to stay awake for much longer--

 

And with that, Eren’s body fell limp in Grisha’s hand and was completely silent. “Good Boy” Grisha spat out, venom lacing his voice as he threw the broken boy at the floor. He could see that he was still breathing, he had just lost consciousness. Grisha took the opportunity to take a knife from the counter, searching for the sharpest one he could find. Once he located a paring knife, the pristine silver blade glinting, he began lacing Eren’s chest and arms with red lines upon red lines. He would have scars left over his already existing scars from previous encounters with Grisha. The mad man smiled at his handy work and then left to go and sleep upstairs.

 

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Eren woke up hours later. He sputtered, and more blood flecked onto the floor. His whole body ached, like he had been hit by a speeding train. He tried to roll over and found it impossible. He finally managed to make his way to his backpack across the room on the floor. He slowly crawled over the tiles, an eternity to cross the ten feet he needed to. He fumbled his backpack open, getting blood everywhere, all over his notes and his phone. He tried to clean it as best he could, but found it to be in vain. He hesitantly drew a breath before he mustered the courage to dial Levi’s number. He tried to talk and noticed that it hurt more and he coughed out an even larger amount of blood. The phone rang until it hit voicemail. Eren hung up and tried again. Pick up the damn phone already short stack!

As if on command Levi picked it up.

 

“I Swear to God, Erwin! If this is you calling me to pick up your drunken ass, I will personally castrate you tomorrow before school!” Levi’s harsh tone hurt Eren’s ears as it was so loud. He let out a soft whimper and that seemed to have shut Levi up.

 

“Hello? Who the hell is this?” He hissed out into the phone. When he didn’t hear anything else, he continued in his rage. “I swear to god if you don’t answer me in-” he stopped as soon as he heard a choked out sob.

 

“L-levi” Eren choked out, it was no louder than a whisper

 

“Brat? Is that you?” he asked quietly and his anger seemed to diminish before it spiked again. “Why the hell are you calling me at 3 in the fucking morning!?” He screeched out into the phone, that was until he heard Eren whimper again.

 

“L-levi… I-I…” he cried as he tried to wrangle his voice, but he couldn’t his vocal cords were crushed. “I-it hurts” he managed out in the ghost of a whisper. He tried to sob but ended up coughing up more blood and it wouldn’t stop.

 

Levi heard it all. “Oi, Brat, hang up, it’s obvious you can’t talk right now. Text me where you are. I’m going to come get you.” he sighed as he got up out of his bed and went to go get his car keys, but he wasn’t sure if he should hang up on the boy. He heard another choked out sob and tried to hear what he was saying.

 

“I…..can’t…...it….Grisha…..angry…...no…..come” he strained to try and process the information. He sighed and closed the door to his apartment as he went to his car.

“Brat, stop talking, and send me your fucking address already or I won’t come!” he growled but he didn’t realize the line cut out in the middle of his sentence. He had no idea where Eren lived, and he didn’t get a text from the kid. He decided it wasn’t worth his time to go after the boy anymore and went back to bed at around 3:45am. He tried to sleep but found that he couldn’t sleep at all, especially since he almost couldn’t make out a word the Brat had said. He sighed. Brat, Are you okay?

 

Sleep finally found Levi later, but it was not a good sleep, his mind surrounded with the what ifs concerning Eren. Was he okay? Did he really need help? Was he dead? Wait… WHY THE HELL AM I THINKING ABOUT A STUPID BRAT!? I should be pissed off at him! He didn’t send me the notes for chemistry yet! Why should I be worried about his forgetful ass? He doesn’t deserve my attention! That damned brat is probably drunk off his mind and just called me to annoy the hell out of me. Hmmp...

 

Levi expected to see the Brat in his seat already since he knew the freshman wouldn’t dare to be late to Mrs. Hanji’s class. Only,

 

He didn’t show up.

 

No, he wasn’t even late. He didn’t come to school at all.

 

What the hell, Brat?

Chapter Text

Levi expected to see the Brat in his seat already since he knew the freshman wouldn’t dare to be late to Mrs. Hanji’s class. Only,

 

He didn’t show up.

 

No, he wasn’t even late. He didn’t come to school at all.

What the hell, Brat? Why didn’t you come to Chemistry? Mrs. Hanji is going to be pissed!

 

“Mr. Ackerman,” Mrs. Hanji’s voice rang over the almost now silent classroom, “ do you have any idea where Mr. Yeager is?” Hanji seemed incredibly calm, but Levi knew better than to make a wrong move now.

 

“No, Mrs. Hanji, I am not aware of where he is,” He told her, his voice a continuous monotone. Damn Brat, now I have to actually take notes in this class! God damn it! He’s probably just skipping class… or is he actually hurt? Levi shook his head as soon as the thought entered his mind. No, why do I have to get worked up over some Brat? Nope. Nope. Nope. I refuse, that Brat means shit to me. I can get through this class by myse-

 

“Mr. Ackerman, take your phone out and call him, I want to hear what his excuse is for not being in my class.” Hanji’s voice had finally broke out into anger, “Go out into the hallway until you get him to answer his cell phone.” She smiled sweetly to try and hide her annoyance with Eren.

 

Levi swallowed hard, quickly nodding, “Yes, Mrs. Hanji.” he quickly got out of the room and went to the hallway with his cell phone. Once he made it outside the classroom and into the hallway, he pulled out his phone. He went through it and looked for the unknown number from 3:07am that morning. He clicked the number and called what he assumed was the Brat’s phone. He waited for someone to pick up, ring after ring, after ring, after ring. Levi was pissed off when it went to voicemail the first time, but nevertheless he left a quick message: “ Pick up the damn phone, Brat” he growled into the phone. He hung up before trying to call again to get Eren to answer. Yet the boy didn’t pick up. He didn’t answer his phone, not for any of the 37 calls Levi had made to his phone trying to get him to pick up during first hour. He knew he couldn’t go back in the room without Eren on the phone to talk to Mrs. Hanji. The last kid that was in Levi’s position tried to cover for his lab partner being horribly hungover, and that didn’t end well for either of those stupid fucks.

 

He called Eren another 3 times, racking the total up to now 40 calls in the past hour. It was safe to say that Levi was beyond pissed off at this point. WHY IN THE EVER LIVING FUCK WON’T THIS FUCKTARD OF A BRAT PICK UP HIS FUCKING PHONE!? Why can’t he pick up his damn phone? I’ve literally called him 40 times! The bell is about to fucking ring and I haven’t even heard today’s lesson. When I get my hands on that fucking Brat, I will personally wring the life out of his body through that small neck of his! Even Levi’s thoughts growled inside his head.

 

The bell rang for the classes to switch periods. Where is that fucking Brat? Levi couldn’t answer that question, not even after he went back in his class to retrieve his book bag. He didn’t want to look at Mrs. Hanji, almost expecting her to give him a detention for not getting a hold of Eren. Sure enough the older woman spoke up, once it was just the two of them in that room.

 

“So did you ever get a hold of Eren?” She asked quietly. She seemed concerned; Usually, after a few minutes the students returned with their lab partners on the phone. Levi hadn’t come back in at all.

 

Levi shook his head and looked down. “No, I couldn’t get ahold of the damned brat.” His cold tone barely hiding the anger that laced his words.

 

Hanji sighed before writing him a pass, both for his next class and for his phone. “Keep it on your desk, if he calls back you’re allowed to leave to come see me during any class. If any of the teachers give you shit about it, show them this note.” Mrs. Hanji’s words weren’t as hard as they had been at the beginning of class this morning. She seemed almost worried, though that quickly diminished once she opened her mouth again. “Make sure he stays on the line, I want to hear his explanation as to why he wasn’t in my class.” The devilish glint in her eyes sent a chill down Levi’s spine.

 

Whatever she’s got in store for the Brat, it is not in any case good. Levi rushed out of the room to get to his next class. He made it on time and kept his phone out on his desk at all times. He was getting increasingly pissed off as the periods were by and he didn’t call, or even text back. Did the fucker break his phone? No, that’s not a possibility, it would’ve said the phone was unavailable right away, not ring for a fucking minute before going to voicemail . Levi let out a heavy sigh as the bell rang again for his next class.

 

Will you just answer any of my goddamn texts you fucking brat?


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*** 3:16 am, Yeager House ***

 

Eren laid on the floor, bleeding out, going in and out of consciousness, trying to force himself to stay awake. I can’t sleep now. I NEED to stay awake. The injured boy tried his best to regain his consciousness every time his blacked out. It felt like minutes went by, but it was hours. He heard a faint noise, almost like a ringing coming from the outside. Though he couldn’t tell if it was his ears or something else. His eyes finally cracked open, trying to figure out what annoying sound he was hearing. The ringing filled his ears and he winced as he fully woke up, quickly finding the sound unbearable. His phone continued to ring, but it was too far over to reach at the moment.

 

Shit, who the fuck would be calling me right now? No one has my number except Grisha and…. Eren stopped his train of thought as he reached for his phone. He had to move, reopening nearly all of the wounds across his back. He looked at his phone and grabbed it with his hand, which was caked in now dried blood. He grimaced at the sight of his hand. Just how much blood did I lose? He asked himself before he looked at his phone, it had stopped ringing. Finally, the annoying sound is fucking gone! He praised for only a second before the notifications for missed calls, unread texts, and new voicemails… all of which came from one person- yeah you guessed it- they were all from Levi Ackerman himself. Eren groaned but soon found that it was hard to let out any noise out at all. He tried to speak but it just came out in as a air straining to pass by his vocal cords. Well, now I know my vocal cords are crushed, no point in trying to talk…. So I’m not even going to try and call Levi back. What the hell time is it anyways? It took Eren a bit to focus on the bright screen in front of him, which was his phone. When he was finally able to make out the time, he realized that it was around 9:27 am, give or take a few minutes, though he didn’t know if his phone was right or not. FUCK! I missed first period! Levi’s gonna be pissed! I didn’t send him the Chemistry notes, that’s probably why he was calling.

 

Eren hesitantly scrolled through his phone and opened up the 15 voicemails which Levi had so graciously left him. He tried to take in a deep breath, but found that it hurt way too much, even with the normal broken rib. No, something else is wrong, it obviously isn’t just a broken rib, I’m coughing up blood for god’s sake .

Eren finally clicked the first voice mail that Levi had left him and put it on speaker to listen to the little short stack furiously talk to him.

 

#1: Eren I swear to God, if you do not pick up this phone in the next 10 minutes, so help me God I will murder you myself.

 

#2: Brat, pick up the damn phone already! Jesus Fucking Christ!

 

Well, now I know he’s really angry at me, shall we go through the rest? Eren smiled at his own comment but continued to go through the rest of the other voice mails.

 

#3: Eren, pick up the damn phone.

 

#4: Eren Fucking Yeager! Pick up the fucking phone now you asshole!!

 

#5: Eren seriously, if you don’t pick up soon, the teacher is going to murder the both of us! I don’t know if you realized this or not, but I am too fucking young to die! DAMN IT!

 

Ahh, I see now, he’s just worried about missing practice due to a detention… well serves him right, he’s a cocky bastard. Eren tried to chuckle at his own comment, but it only ended up in his hurting a lot more than it should have. Damn, I think he might have shattered a few of them, I can’t feel the bones out of place. His thoughts trailed off as he felt the phone buzz in his hand again, the annoying ringing started up again. Eren knew he couldn’t talk though, so he let the phone continue to buzz. I swear to god, if this annoying phone rings again I will chuck it across the room without a care in the world! Eren sighed in relief as the ringing was silenced, and the annoying sound no longer hurting his already aching head more. He scrolled through his phone again and got to voicemail to listen to the others.

 

#6: Eren, Mrs. Hanji’s pissed at you. I hope you know that!

 

#7: Oi Brat, do you think it’s funny listening to all of these and not replying?

 

#8: You better be on your deathbed right now, or I am going to put you on it tomorrow at school!

 

#9: I hope you don’t think I’m kidding, you fucking Brat. I can’t wait to sink my fists into your stomach! HA!

#10: Alright, enough with the games Brat, pick up the goddamn phone already!

 

#11: I seriously mean it Brat, pick up the phone, call the school! Tell them where the fuck you are and to have Mrs. Hanji let me back in her class.

 

#12: Brat! First Hour is almost over! ANSWER YOUR FUCKING PHONE!

 

#13: I swear to God Eren, you are going to die tomorrow you bastard!

 

#14: Congratulations, Asshole! You made me miss all of First Hour! I’m going to fucking cut your balls off tomorrow!

 

#15: Brat, will you at least call back? Or text me back? Mrs. Hanji seemed like she was gonna let you off the hook if you called back. I don’t think you deserve it!

 

He’s probably right though, I gotta bandage myself up for school tomorrow… Eren’s train of thought derailed as soon as he heard his stomach growl. I haven’t eaten in the past two days…. That’s fucking terrific. He slowly managed to pull himself up with one arm, quickly realizing he couldn’t use his left arm at all. He gently reached over to his forearm and felt the bump from where the bones were snapped in half. Well, at least it’s not my writing hand. Gotta look on the bright side, I guess… Eren finally managed to stand up and look at his surroundings. His whole body ached as he looked down at the floor. Blood was everywhere. It looked like at least 3 people had been murdered here, and their blood drained onto the floor. Eren couldn’t stop himself from gagging at the thought that this was all of his blood, and no one else’s. How much blood did I lose? One look at his pale skin gave him an answer. Great, I can’t even cut myself, or else I risk completely bleeding out. Fucking perfect. Eren sighed and limped towards where his father kept all the bandages. He expertly wrapped his whole torso, along with his arms, they needed to be wrapped. He looked at his left arm again and knew he would need to re-break the extremity himself. He looked around for all the things he needed to set his arm, placing everything on the counter top in the kitchen. He grabbed a large towel and bit down on it hard as he took his left arm and smacked it down on the countertop, strong enough to re-break the bones. He would’ve let out a horrifying scream is he wasn’t biting down on the towel, which was now becoming drenched in bloody saliva. He took a few deep breaths- well, as deep as he could manage- before he calmed himself down and set the broken extremity before he wrapped it skilfully so that it couldn’t move. So that it could heal. Ha, like it’ll heal. Grisha will probably just keep breaking it until my body doesn’t respond and try and heal itself again, ever. Eren then looked to the rest of him, set his smashed nose correctly and put tape of the bridge of his nose to keep it in place. He attempted to take another breath as he moved to wrap his severely injured neck, but found it too difficult to really breathe correctly. He tried again, only to earn him a coughing fit, which ended up turning into a hurling fit, coughing and puking up blood, mucus, stomach acid, and a few other things Eren would try and erase from his memory, but mostly blood. It was bright red, fresh, which meant he was still bleeding on the inside. Wonderful. He finally wrapped his black, purple, blue, red, green and all the other colors he didn’t dare to list, neck, finally feeling more in control of his body. Eren limped off with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon, deciding to take his phone with him as he hobbled up the stairs to his room.

 

Eren finally made it up to his room after what felt like an eternity on the stairs. His exhausted body laid down on the bed and he got a spoonful of peanut butter, carefully raising it to his lips. The first lick of the spoon let him taste mostly blood. Is that all I’m going to fucking taste for the next week? Blood? He seemed to sigh in relief as he finally started to taste the nutty spread. He felt the hot tears stream down his face before he was even realizing he was crying.

 

At least I can taste the Peanut Butter.

Chapter Text

Eren had cleaned up the mess of dried blood and water known as his kitchen before his drunken father could come home and see it. Though, what surprised Eren the most was not that he had actually cleaned the kitchen completely without reopening his wounds, but that Grisha had not come home that night. Does he feel bad that he hurt me this badly? No, probably not, he wouldn’t even bat an eye anymore… not after what I did. He sighed in relief as he slowly made himself a sandwich. He ate quickly, savoring the fact that he could finally eat something after two whole days. He looked to his left arm, which was starting to hurt like hell again, even with the splint around it. He flexed his fingers gently. Well, at least I can feel them. That’s good news. Eren looked over his battered body, trying hard not to break down right then and there. This was definitely the worst Grisha had done to him, only topping every other instance because Grisha had cooked his flesh. Eren shook his head as soon as the thought of what his backside looked like crossed his mind; He was not going to think about that. Nope, not gonna happen, I don’t want to know what the hell my back looks like. For all I know it looks like fucking pulled chicken… before you put the barbeque sauce on it… Or would my blood technically count as barbeque sauce… WHY AM I THINKING ABOUT THIS!?! Eren shook his head again, though he tried not to move his neck much. That would be like going to hell and back. He prayed to God that he would be able to talk in school at least a little bit. Sighing again for what felt like the millionth time today, the boy took his leave of the kitchen, making a stop at the closet to get the bandages and progressed to his room slowly. He was going to rewrap all his wounds before he passed out from exhaustion.

 

Eren had rewrapped all his wounds, nearly gagging when he saw how much blood had come off of his back. He was disgusted by the amount of blood he had lost overall. Just how much did I lose? He tried not to ponder the question too much as he stiffly got into his small bed. It only took a few seconds before he was passed out.

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Eren woke up with a start, the alarm on his phone going off. He reached for the annoying device that was on his night stand. He carefully sat up, trying not to put too much pressure on his left arm or breathe too deeply for his chest. His phone was still going off, annoying Eren so much he was ready to throw the damn thing across the room...which is exactly what he did. The phone made a soft thud as it hit the wall, and then again as it hit the floor, though it didn’t shatter like Eren had hoped it would. No, the damn thing was still ringing. Eren tried to get up immediately and go after the blaring phone, only to find out that his legs almost refused to work. He got in a half step before he fell flat on his face, groaning at both the pain in his legs as well, now he realized it, the rest of his aching body. He felt like he had been hit by another train this morning, only to be allowed to walk among the living. He coughed as he struggled to get up, though his thin body allowed to it to be done easily. He got up, finally shutting his fucking phone off and then going to get changed. He wore black everything- even his hoodie was black- because he didn’t need people to see blood stains if anything were to open up. Though, if anything does open up, I’ll probably die anyways. The hallways are gonna be fucking horrible. Eren looked down at his feet and up his bruised legs, at the rest of his body and realized that there were more bruises showing today than there were yesterday. He gingerly reached up to touch his face, though almost instantly pulled his fingers back. He swallowed hard. Today was gonna be a rough day at school.

 

He had somehow made it to school with his backpack on his back, like a normal person, without opening anything up. He went hurriedly to first period, to hopefully get there before it got too crowded in the hallways. He went to Mrs. Hanji’s room and came in, going to sit down, hopefully without her realizing that he had just come in-

 

“Mr. Yeager! What a pleasure of you to finally come back to class,” Mrs. Hanji’s voice was dripping with sarcasm.  

 

Eren jumped a bit from the harshness of her voice. He looked down before he put his bag down and got out his small white board and an expo marker. There was no way in hell that he was going to be able to talk today, and his hoodie was up to try and hide his face from the lights in the room. He came forward, putting the board on the desk by Mrs. Hanji. He started to write down his message in his beautiful script.

 

Sorry, I can’t really talk right now, my throat is a little messed up.

 

Eren kept his head down and erased the message after he knew that Mrs. Hanji had seen it.

 

I’m sorry I wasn’t in class yesterday.

 

Hanji took his apology and smiled softly. “It’s okay Eren, what’s wrong with your throat? Are you sick or something?” She asked softly and looked to him. “You also have to keep your hood down, it’s against the school rules.” Mrs. Hanji reached up and removed the hood from the top of Eren’s head. Eren looked down when he heard her gasp. “Oh my good science! Eren, what the hell happened to you?” She asked quietly, obviously more concerned, and all she saw was that his neck was bandaged.

Eren shook his head. It’s nothing to worry about, really, he wrote down, It just hurt too much to speak at the moment. Is it okay if you don’t call on me in class? Eren looked up and his face looked even more bruised; the tape on the broken nose was still there to keep it in place, yet his double black eyes were not given to him by Jean. Hanji came to that realization quickly. She nodded her head at his question that he had written.

“Yes, Eren, you don’t need to be called on. I’ll give you and Levi both the notes that you guys missed yesterday, so don’t try and over work yourself,” she said as she backed up to get the notes.

 

That was when Mrs. Hanji laid an eye on Eren’s broken arm in a sling. It was a hospital issued sling, but his arm was nowhere near as wrapped as it should’ve been. “Eren, do you need to seek medical treatment? I can write you a pass to go to the nurse first period…” The rest of her suggestion died down as Eren furiously shook his head. He had multiple emotions showing on his face. Fear, resentment, a few others that no one could really understand unless they were in in his shoes, but above all the emotions his eyes so blatantly displayed, pain. Eren looked like he was about ready to cry from the amount of pain he was in. Mrs. Hanji knew better than to comply with her motherly urges to scoop Eren up into her arms and hold him close to allow him to cry, and she wouldn’t. No, she couldn’t do that here at her workplace; it would seem unprofessional. She decided it was best to keep his hoodie up. “I’ll write you a note for your hood then,” she said quietly and went to write his note. Eren sat down before the class filed in along with an angry Levi.

 

Eren swallowed hard as he saw Levi’s eyes instantly darken with the intent to murder. There was no doubt in his mind that he was capable of such a feat. Honestly, he wouldn’t be surprised if Levi had in fact killed a man before. He watched in fear as Levi came right for him and instantly grabbed his hoodie and ripped Eren out of his seat. The boy whimpered as Levi’s right arm rose up, and Eren’s eyes closed as he braced himself for the impact of Levi’s fists. But they never came.

 

“Mr. Ackerman, I don’t believe it would be proper to hit your lab partner the very same day that he returns back to school,” Mrs. Hanji’s voice was ice cold, her eyes throwing daggers at Levi who, likewise, turned his death glare to Mrs. Hanji. He then looked back at the pain in Eren’s viridian green eyes. He almost felt sorry for the poor brat and threw him back into his seat, only Eren ungracefully fell from his chair and found his way to the floor. Levi seemed to smirk until Eren’s hood fell from around his face, showing off both of his black eyes, a ton of scrapes and a few more bruises lining his face. Eren saw Levi’s eyes widen as he stared down at the boy on the ground. Eren quickly flicked his hood up to cover his face again.

 

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

 

“Was that really necessary, Mr. Ackerman?” Mrs. Hanji asked him quizzically. But the steely eyed teen couldn’t answer her question.

What the hell happened to him? He didn’t look like that two days ago! Wait… when he called me he said something about being hurt. He couldn’t have been asking for help, could he? I mean, it's just his face that’s like that right? Though Levi answered that himself when he saw the small amount of white medical wrap, that he was all too familiar with, wrapped around the Brat’s neck. Seriously, what the fuck happened to this Brat? Levi shook his head when he saw the pain in the boy’s eyes as he shifted from the floor to his chair. Levi watched as he sat down on the cold, unforgiving chair. Eren was so tense that it made Levi wonder how much more of his body was wrapped up as well; maybe it was all of him? No, he can’t be that hurt. If he was that hurt, they wouldn’t have let him out of the hospital...Wait, did he even go to the hospital? Levi shook his head and peeled his eyes off boy’s battered body. Why the FUCK am I thinking about him like he matters so much to me??

 

Levi returned to his seat beside the brat, Mrs. Hanji had given them a packet to do which contained the information they both missed yesterday, as well as homework from last night that neither of them received. He grumbled his complaint about being behind the rest of the class but took the packet and did it right away. He looked over to Eren to see that the brat was doing the same. He was really glad that he hadn’t punched Eren in the face like he was originally going to, as the Brat looked injured enough. Wait… I should’ve punched him, he’s the reason why we’re behind in this class. I’ll make sure I give it to him later today. Levi went back to his packet and worked for the rest of class alongside the Brat. What he thought was strange though was that the Brat hadn’t spoken a single word, not even after he had tried to beat the crap out of him. What the hell? Is this brat actually giving me the silent treatment? Or can he not talk at all? Nope, not even gonna let that last thought through! He can definitely talk, and yet this fucker is giving me the silent treatment! This fucking brat! Who the hell does he think he is for ignoring me? Oh, I am SO gonna teach him a lesson when we are in the fucking hallway today! Levi held onto his pencil a little more forcefully as all his anger seemed to bubble up at those thoughts. He couldn’t wait to get his hand on him and beat the crap out of him. Oh yeah, I can’t wait! Levi seemed almost too excited at the prospect of beating the shit out of the Brat, yet some how his excitement went unnoticed.

 

The bell rang after first hour was over. A majority of the classmates got up and left to get to their next class as quickly as possible. Levi followed suit, and for the majority, he stayed outside the classroom waiting for Eren to exit. He waited for what seemed like forever as the hallways started to clear out. Levi watched as Eren came out and seemed a bit shocked to see the jock leaning against the lockers just outside of the classroom. He swallowed hard but coughed after. It almost sounds like he’s coughing something up. Damn, that’s gross, this sick Brat is fucking coughing up his damn mucus! That’s fucking disgusting! Levi’s scowl only grew more as he harshly grabbed Eren’s wrist, tugging him away from the classroom and towards a secluded place in the school. He felt the adrenaline already kicking in for what he was about to do to exact his revenge on the boy. His smirk that formed on his thin lips looked sinister, like he had the intent to kill.

 

Once they were in a spot Levi deemed safe from prying eyes, he slammed the already battered teen into the wall. Levi’s eyes were blazing in full blown rage. He looked down on the now shaking Brat like a hawk. Or maybe the correct term would be as a lion looks at it’s prey… Ya, that’s probably the right fucking one. Levi looked to the frightened brat and laughed. Which seemed to catch Eren off guard, it was a soft, dark laugh which almost resembled a loud chuckle.

“Do you know why I dragged you back here?” Levi asked sinisterly, almost as if he had a knife drawn to the other’s throat... But I don’t, DAMMIT! I could’ve really freaked him out! Then he would’ve done all of the chemistry work for me! How stupid can I be? He smirked as he watched the boy wearily shake his head. He looked rather pale, but Levi figured it was probably from the position he was in right now with the school’s resident badass. Yes, I just called myself a badass! I’m gonna live up to my own reputation! HAHA! FUCK YOU, EREN YEAGER! “Well, this better put some sense into your mind for not sending me the Chem notes from the other day,” he hissed at the other and pulled back his fist, he slammed his fist down onto Eren’s chest, but something was wrong. Why was there no crunch? I should’ve broken a few ribs at least! He stared down at his fist, which was still on Eren’s chest, with furrowed brows. He stood there, getting angrier by the second as he tried to figure out what went wrong there. Levi only had seconds to figure it out before he was confused yet again. There was blood on his fist. What the fuck? Levi looked up to see Eren’s look of pain slowly subside a way as he slumped down on the wall, his back leaving a bloodied mark on the wall as he slumped down. He was coughing up blood and a lot of it. Levi backed away from the other in shock before he swallowed hard. Memories flooding through his mind about his mother, dying in the same position as he saw Eren in now, a hole blown through her heart. NO! I refuse to let anyone die here! He shook his head before turning his head to try and find a way to get someone’s attention. He finally decided that since they were in a nearly unvisited part of the school, the best thing to hit would be the fire alarm and shout for help, which was exactly what he did. The sprinkler system kicked in as soon as he hit the alarm and muffled screams filled the hallway as Levi started shouting. “Somebody get your ass out here and help me!! Call 911!!” He shouted at a few teachers which had come out of empty rooms to follow him.

 

Levi saw that they were running in his direction before he went and kneeled by Eren. His eyes betrayed him, showing a mix of concern for the boy, along with panic. He watched as Eren grabbed his wrist and smiled softly, or at least tried to smile, he was coughing up so much blood it was almost draining out of his mouth like a waterfall. His lips moved but nothing came out. No noise, nothing. Levi just sat there in shock of the boy sitting in front of him, understanding what he was trying to say in an instant. Levi was soon pulled away by the teachers and he seemed to zone out almost instantly then. His own face becoming pale, finally taking in full realization of what he had just done.


Why thank me, you idiot?

Chapter Text

Why thank me, you idiot?

 

Levi couldn’t get the thought out of his mind. Nothing could distract him long enough to prevent him from thinking about those full rosy, red lips mouthing their final- No! They were not the final thing that Brat said! Why do I keep thinking about that!? Dammit! He’s in surgery now! He’s going to be fine DAMN IT!

 

Levi leaned down and cradled his aching head. He was in the same hospital as Eren was, they had taken them both of them in the same ambulance. He was currently sitting in a pristine, shiny white room. At least this fucking room is clean. Why am I here again? I don’t have anything wrong with me! Levi looked down at his bloody hands. The blood wasn’t his and that was what repulsed him. He rushed over to the bathroom in the small room, leaning over the toilet as he expelled the contents of his stomach for the third time today. He felt the sting of the stomach acid ripping across his throat. Why the fuck am I throwing up again, you ask? Well, I’ve been trying not to remind myself what the fuck I just did to my lab partner! Levi threw up again as he pictured the broken teen limp against the wall, barely hanging onto his wrist before he was pulled away.

 

Levi tried to calm his churning stomach. I am not fucking doing that again! I refuse to throw up! Levi’s body betrayed him for the fifth time today. He didn’t hear the nurse come in, who located him in seconds after hearing his loud hurling sounds from the main part of the room.

 

“Mr. Ackerman?” She asked kindly as she sat down on the floor with him, seeming unaffected that the teen was throwing up still.

 

Levi gave her a death glare as she got closer to him, and if looks could kill, she would be dead at least two times over. “Can I help you?” he hissed and sat a bit farther back from the toilet, which he had just been clinging to desperately.

 

The nurse smiled softly before she handed him a bottle of water. “I want to talk, but I want to know if you’re going to be okay if we talk about the accident…” She trailed off as she watched Levi lean his body over towards the toilet, violently throwing up what small amount of stomach acid was still in his stomach. She hesitantly reached forward and rubbed his back, trying to sooth the other and get him to calm down. “Should I take that as a no then?” she asked kindly and was expecting him to nod.

 

Levi shook his head. “No, I need to talk about it, I need to know what happened to the fucking brat” he said quietly. He sat back on his heels, still close to the toilet, though not close enough that he was hugging the toilet. No, he was trying to get his self-restraint back. “I…” He paused taking in a heavy breath, “I think I can handle it.” For Once Levi actually replied honestly, he did want to know more about what had happened to his chemistry partner. He took a few deep breaths and he calmed himself down.

“Do you want me to start asking questions? Or are you gonna tell me what happened?” The Nurse asked softly since no one really knew what happened to the boy at all. The police investigators were in the room in almost an instant. “Do you want to talk to me first? Or are you okay with them in the room?” She asked softly to the boy, knowing sometimes patients like trying to talk to someone who could comfort them through their distress.

 

The silver eyed boy looked at the police investigators, glaring at them before his gaze softened. “I’ll give you my side of the story, I wasn’t the one who hurt him before hand, you should know that… but I’ll only tell my complete side of the story if you’re completely honest with me about what’s happening to Eren.” He had the last bit of the sentenced directed towards the Nurse. The nurse looked to him and she thought about it for awhile before nodding.

 

Levi took another deep breath before he nodded and looked to the nurse, then to the investigators, then back to the nurse again. He did not want to look at the investigators at the moment, no he couldn’t do that right now, he would throw up if he didn’t see any emotions, and he hoped the nurse would at least seem a bit concerned.

 

“The brat-.... I mean Eren,” The name felt weird, coming out of his mouth as he had only said it in pure moments of rage while on the phone trying to get a hold of him. “He was fine when I first met him on Wednesday, it was a lab day, so our teacher put us together for being lab partners” he paused to take in his breath and he looked up to the investigators who were hurriedly taking notes. Oh my god, I feel like I’m going to be sick again!

 

The nurse picked up on his distress almost instantly and helped him calm down, they did not need him going through another round of shock like he had before. She was really concerned for the teen as he recited the story back to them.

 

“I gave him my number, and my email so that he could send me the chemistry notes we took in class, he had written down all the data for the experiment….” Levi trailed off when he realized that he was rambling. “I didn’t see him again until we had lunch-” Levi stopped abruptly so that he could swallow hard as he thought about all the things that had happened. “Eren tripped over one of my friend’s girlfriend, so he picked the kid up and socked him in the nose. It was broken almost instantly, but that was all that he had when he left school on Wednesday.”

 

Levi looked up from his hands and locked eyes with the nurse who was gently holding his hand, encouraging him to continue with his account of what had happened. He calmed down even further when he felt her gently squeeze his hand. She was comforting, and he was thankful for that. I don’t think I could do this without her here. He closed his eyes as he thought about his conversation with the Brat over the phone.

 

“He didn’t send me any of the work at all, and I got really mad at him, but I couldn’t contact him because I didn’t have his number. So I went to sleep, thinking about how I would beat him up yesterday. He called me at around Three in the morning. I was angry still because I thought it was a friend calling for a ride from a party, but it wasn’t. All I heard were choked sobs, and whimpers. He sounded like he was in so much pain, but I didn’t know if it was physical or simply from drinking. I know a lot of people at our school get drunk off their asses and then get a friend to drag their ass home, but I didn’t think he would be the one to call me. I heard him tell me that “It hurt”, that the only thing I got out of him that I could really understand. I told him I would come pick him up, that he needed to hang up and text me where he was, but he didn’t. He had tried to tell me something else to, something like “don’t come, Grisha’s angry…” or something like that, I don’t remember the exact details at the moment. I got up to go and get my keys to pick the brat up from wherever he was, only he didn’t answer me. He hung up and then didn’t text me where he was. I waited a solid 45 minutes just in case he was having problems texting me, because I still figured he was drunk….” Levi didn’t know when he had started to cry, but he was a fucking waterfall now. He sobbed, his shoulders rising and falling harshly as his whole body shook. He knew that it wasn’t right, it hadn’t felt right to leave Eren and now he knew why.

 

“He wasn’t drunk, was he?” He sobbed out and cried harder as the nurse pulled him close to her chest and pulled him close into a hug.

“No, he wasn’t drunk on Thursday morning, do you know who Grisha is?” She asked him softly as he sobbed into her chest.

 

Levi again shook his head. He had no fucking clue who this Grisha was. Was he the man that had hurt the innocent boy? He felt absolutely horrible. Why didn’t I call him back? I could’ve got him to a hospital! I could’ve helped him before it got to this point! Levi sobbed harder when he thought about all the ‘what if’s that he could’ve done to help the boy. Yes he put up a front that he was an asshole at school, it was just the way everyone expected him to be, and honestly he was a little sadistic on the inside, but he would never wanted harm to befall upon Eren. He cried for what seemed like hours, but was only a few minutes before the nurse spoke up.

 

“Is there anything else? Like what happened today?” she asked quietly as she watched Levi pale, all the color draining from his face. The nurse pulled him into her lap, rubbing the teen’s back in small circles. She was trying to calm the sobbing teen down, she wondered if this was too much for him to handle, he did just come out of his state of shock. She had been worried about the shorter teen as he came in, not answering any questions. His eyes were glossed over, like he didn’t realize that there were people trying to talk to him. He had been like that for hours, and she continued to talk to him. The nurse rocked him back and forth, trying to console him more.

 

“I did this didn’t I?” He asked quietly after he had finally calmed down. “I’m the one who put him in this hospital.” He cried as he clung to the nurse’s now tear stained shirt. The nurse finally calmed him down all the way after a few times. She asked him again what happened today as Levi moved out of her lap to get closer to the toilet again, fearing he wouldn’t be able hold what little acid was left in his stomach.

 

“I got into first period and I was really angry at him for not sending the notes, don’t get me wrong, I am known in school for throwing a few punches here and there, but I didn’t want to hurt the kid, maybe give him a black eye to teach him a lesson, but my teacher stopped me before I even got the chance to hit the poor kid. I saw the bruises and cuts all over his face, and they weren’t there before, he had two black eyes… Who does that?” he asked quietly and looked down trying not to think about what he did, but knew he would have to. He took in another deep breath to calm down his shaky nerves. “I took him towards one of the quiet places in the school after we got out of first hour. I slammed him against the wall, yelled at him to never forget my to send me the chem work again.” He paused and looked down at his hands as fresh tears found their way to his eyes. “I didn’t mean for this to happen, I just wanted to frighten him a little, so I punched him in the chest… but something was wrong-” he paused and moved to throw up again in the toilet. He tried to calm down his stomach but found that another thought about what happened, sent him through another hurling fest.

 

He threw up a few more times, his throat burning with the acid from his stomach, which was the only thing his stomach held at this point. He took a few deep breaths and allowed for the nurse to get close to him and touch him comfortingly. He needed it it, this whole thing was reminding him of his mother’s death more and more. He sat back down and tried to resume his speech as best he could without his voice cracking, or uncharacteristically bursting into tears.

 

“I… I punched him in the chest, where his ribs should’ve been, but it felt like he was vulnerable, like there was nothing there, I would’ve maybe left him with a fractured, or even bruised rib, but there was no resistance when I punched him, like there was no bone there at all. I was so confused… Eren started coughing up blood more and more, until it was just running out of his mouth-” He gasped as his eyes widened and he covered his mouth. “Oh my god, he was coughing up blood during first period and didn’t tell anyone, I thought he was just sick… oh my God, what have I done?” he asked and his tears started their waterfall for his face. His tears looked so out of place on his normally stoic face. His eyes seemed to be the only way to look into his emotions, the tears fell from them, and the look of pure guilt and concern was gut wrenching. He sobbed, trying to calm himself down and failing horribly.

 

“I pulled the fire alarm to get help, I was pulled back from him by the teachers… but before the teachers got there, Eren reached out and grabbed my wrist” he said and looked to the bloody stain on his long sleeved shirt. “He tried to thank me… but nothing came out of his mouth, it was just cascading blood, why was he trying to thank me?” He sobbed out.

 

The nurse instantly glared at the investigators to get the hell out of the room. They left after curtly nodding to the two on the floor in the bathroom. The nurse seem to be relieved that they left. “Well, now that you were honest with us, I’ll be honest with you.” Her words seemed to take a bit for the young man in her arms to process, but he soon enough nodded. She took that as her cue to continue her speech.

 

“Eren Yeager, 15 years of age, son of a wealthy doctor, Grisha Yeager, was brought in with you earlier today, from your school” She saw the young man instantly seeth at the mention of Eren’s father.

 

“You mean the brat’s own father was responsible for this!?” He growled, the rage clearly evident in his voice, along with his eyes. He watched the nurse with his steely eyes to get the answer out of her. However, she shook her head.

 

“We cannot make any assumptions as to how Eren acquired these injuries, but what I can tell you is that he’s lost a lot of blood, his back was severely injured, and it looks as though his ribs were shattered, and some splinters puncturing his lungs before you punched him. Though by the looks of how he had wrapped his own body, he seemed familiar with the injuries, which leads me to believe he was either hiding the injuries well to begin with, or he had received them on Wednesday after your school day. Though he did not seek any medical treatment, and we know this because his arm was broken, and not set with a proper cast. It seems as though Eren had set it himself, almost perfect without the use of pins and screws, that’s all I can tell you without going into detail and loosing my job.” Her voice was soft and watched at the teen took everything in that the nurse had told him.

 

“Thank you for telling me” he said quietly and he smiled that she was still holding him close. “He was pale, did he lose a lot of blood?” he asked quietly, looking up so that their eyes would meet and Levi would be able to tell if she was really being honest or not.

The nurse nodded and looked to Levi with concern. “Do you think you’ll be okay? You came with him in the same ambulance, but you don’t remember the ride, you probably don’t remember how you got to this room either, do you?” She asked quietly and he nodded to show that the nurse was very correct in her statements.

 

“I don’t remember much, I only remember being pulled away, and then thinking about my mother, and how he looked almost as lifeless as she did when she died like that…” he started before looking down. “The only difference was that she had a hole in her heart.” His tone had become dry and his tears stopped after that. “I feel much better now, thank you” he told her and tried to stand up, he was wobbly as she helped him up.

 

“Don’t be quick, take things slow, you just came out of shock, we looked in your files for a guardian, but we were unable to contact your legal guardian, do you have someone who can take care of the legal documents?” she asked softly and helped him to his bed so that he could calm down.

 

Levi shook his head. “No, that asshole Kenny hasn’t been around for years, he pays for all the shit I need, but he isn’t around” he said quietly. He sat down and watched as the nurse got up to leave. He quickly grabbed her arm again to get her to stop. He looked down and swallowed hard as she waited for him to speak.

 

“Can- um… can I see him, w-when he gets out of surgery?” he asked quietly, he looked really concerned as he met the nurse’s eyes.

 

“Of course you can,” she smiled and rubbed his hair. “Everything is going to be fine, he’s in the best hands.” She smiled, but it wasn’t as full as the Brat’s. No his smile, is wide, like he smiles from ear to ear. It’s so freaking white too. Her’s isn’t white at all! Does she brush them? I wonder how many whitening strips the damn brat uses…. Why am I thinking about this? She smiled at me, telling me everything will be okay, and the next thing I know I’m thinking about the damn brat? What the fuck is wrong with me!? I should be worried about the damn brats well being! Not his fucking smile! I can’t believe I did that! I should’ve known something was wrong with the brat! He comes in bruised and wrapped and I go and think he’s just sick… then I fucking put him in the hospital! What kind of a monster am I dammit! I mean I know I’ve broken a few bones before, but I’ve never put anyone in the hospital before have I?

 

His mind lingered on the disturbing thought before it drifted to the brat again. He should’ve known better, the brat looked so pale, he probably was bleeding when he slammed him on the wall. That’s why it was so fucking bloody when he slid down. I should’ve noticed that he was wearing all black! What the fuck is wrong with me! The brat wouldn’t be the one to wear all the fucking goth shit! Why did I pass it over like that? I should’ve noticed….

 

I should’ve fucking noticed… My head hurts so fucking bad… I wonder what he’s gonna feel like when he wakes up? I wonder if he’ll be able to feel anything, or if he’ll be too hyped up on the morphine to feel anything--- WAIT! Why the fuck am I still thinking about that brat? What the hell is wrong with me?

 

Levi shook his head so that he could try and dismiss the thoughts of Eren that surrounded his head. He wanted food, but he would wait for the nurse to return and ask her. He was not about to get lost in this shiny as building that they called Sina Central Hospital. He sat on his bed and looked around. At least the room’s fucking clean, I wouldn’t be able to stand it if it wasn’t.

 

Levi curled up on his bed, his thoughts swirling around Eren, no matter how much he tried to tell himself that he shouldn’t think about the brat. He found that the brat had consumed all of Levi’s other thoughts, and remained the center of Levi’s attention.


I am straight, right… but that brat’s fucking adorable. Wait, what?

Chapter Text

Well, I’ve been suspended from school for three more weeks… that’s fuckin’ perfect.

 

Levi groaned as he got up from his hard bed. He stretched, looking at the clock on the nightstand. He sighed when he saw 3:07 AM. He couldn’t stop waking up at that time, not after the brat had called him that one night. Fucking insomnia… That’s the cause, not the fact that I’m worried about that damn Brat. Though Levi knew he was just trying to come up with an excuse, he knew the real reason. He was too afraid to have that happen to Eren again, and he would wake up and wait for a phone call, and wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep.

 

He got up anyways. These past 5 weeks were complete hell. Complete hell doesn’t even do it justice, it was like working under a dictator, in complete enslavement… yeah, that sounds better. Levi had been suspended from school for 2 months after what he had done to Eren, putting him into the hospital and all, yet he wasn’t the main reason for the Brat’s injuries so the administration had given him a break and didn’t expel him.

 

Levi got into the shower, and his mind was immediately filled with thoughts of the Brat, as it had been every day since he was suspended, there was a good reason for it too. He had been going to see Eren everyday. I wonder if he’ll be awake today? Awake. Levi wanted to see those beautiful viridian eyes again. He’d been wanting to see them for the past few weeks, though he would never tell anyone. No one will ever know, not even that damn Brat! I swear by it!

 

Levi had not fully accepted that he was gay yet, especially when the one he was slowly becoming attached to was in the hospital. Not only was Eren in the hospital, he was still unconscious from the surgery that had taken place over 4 weeks ago. Eren had needed multiple surgeries to correct his shredded back, shattered ribs and multiple other broken bones that they had found over the course of the first two weeks. Why won't he wake up?

 

He shivered as the hot water ran out; He hadn’t realized just how long he was in the shower thinking about the damn Brat. He quickly reached for the soap and started to wash himself in the cold water. Levi came out a few minutes later, clean and dripping wet. He wrapped a towel around his built frame. No, he wasn’t one of those bodybuilders who had muscles-galore, but he was pretty well toned.

Levi walked down the hall to his room where he easily picked out some clothes that fit his form, yet he still chose to wear sweats over the shorts he wore. He was stopping at school - yes, he still went to school even though he was suspended - to get the things he needed for work, along with the work Eren needed to do from his teachers. It had become a habit over the past couple weeks. Wake up too damn early, take a long ass shower, eat a bland breakfast, go to school and grab the shit he needed to do, turn in the shit he already did, then drive over to the hospital to do his work in Eren’s hospital room. Today won’t be any different, though I guess I’ll be a bit better. His face finally healed up completely. Why do I have to like this brat? Why is he so fucking adorable to me? Why can’t he fucking wake the hell up?!  ...Though he’ll probably hate me afterwards… but yet why did he thank me? Did he think I killed him? Was he thanking me for that? Because if he was, he’s going to be fucking pissed as all hell that he’s not dead… Then again, why would he want to be dead? Had his father done this before? Levi’s mind was filled with so many questions that he wanted that damned Brat to answer.

 

He left his room after he was dressed, countless questions still plaguing his mind. Levi made himself a quick breakfast: toast and a few eggs. He ate in complete silence. He didn’t mind it as some other people would; He enjoyed the quiet of his home, actually. He got up to get the keys from their designated spot. He wanted to make this quick, because he didn’t like the teachers that much, and it couldn't be said they liked him that much either. He quickly made the two-block drive to the high school before getting out of his sleek black car and entering the old building.

 

He walked quietly along the barren hallways to get to the teachers’ rooms. He didn’t make much conversation with the old hags, maybe a few “Good mornings” here and there, but nothing much more than that. He liked to keep to himself, yet for some reason Eren was all he could think about as he got the work he needed to do and dropped off a few things to various teachers. Once his classes were out of the way he went along to Eren’s classrooms and picked up more work to add to the growing pile in the Brat’s hospital room. It took a little over half an hour to get all the papers in order for the both of them before he walked out of the building, both glad to get out of the building that brought too many bad thoughts to mind, and glad he could go see Eren now.

 

Alright- To see Sleeping Beauty, we go.

 

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

 

Eren’s chest was throbbing as he woke up. Actually, everywhere was throbbing, just more so his chest. He knew why as soon as he tried to take in a deep breath, only to let out a groan in pain. He looked around to try and see where he was, but came up blank. Why the fuck is everything in this room….white? Then it hit him like a ton of bricks. I’m in the fucking hospital ? His thoughts were only confirmed by the steady beeps of machines next to him. He looked around his body and he saw that he had an IV in his right arm, and his left arm was properly wrapped and casted. He reached his hand up to his eyes to try and rub any of the tiredness he felt away. His body felt heavy, like he was still exhausted from a running around all day. Yet, Eren knew from the kink in his neck that he had in fact been asleep for a long time. But how long? How long have I been asleep for? His mind wandered until he saw a nurse come into his room, and the way her face lit up at the sight of him awake gave away her excitement.

 

“You’re awake!” She beamed and smiled happily down at the boy. She looked to the many screens displaying all his vitals before helping him sit up so she could change the bandages on his back.

 

“How long have I been asleep for?” he asked the nurse quietly, noticing his throat didn’t hurt anymore at all. Is my neck healed completely? In only a few days?  He expected maybe 2 or 3 days to be the answer. He nearly flipped his shit when he heard the exact answer.

 

“You’ve been asleep for four and a half weeks, Eren.” She told him as she gently and carefully removed his old bandages and looked over the healing skin. His back was making excellent progress-probably because he hadn’t really used it in almost 5 weeks, but all that aside- he was doing well. She carefully wrapped him back up, letting her words sink in as she finished up.

“M-my father….” he trailed off and looked down. He half expected that Grisha would’ve come in and killed him by cutting off his oxygen supply or something like that. Yet he was still alive, 5 weeks after the initial attack.

 

“We haven’t heard from your father, Eren, all we know is that he has disclosed a blank check to the hospital for your medical bills along with a note.”

 

“What did the note say?” He asked quietly, he was quite curious, and he hoped the nurse would be completely honest with him. It probably says something about leaving me hear, and maybe disowning me completely. He couldn’t have been more right.

 

“The letter says that he’s moved away, but he’ll continue to pay for all the bills… there wasn’t a return address on the letter, so we don’t know where he is,” the nurse was speaking to him softly. She didn’t know if he was mentally okay after what happened. She glanced over to the clock near the white board, which held her name - Petra Ral- and the times when breakfast, lunch, and dinner would be served. It also held the amount of medication to be administered at certain times. “Oh, it’s almost time for your friend to come. I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you’re awake--” Petra was cut short as Levi dropped the things he was holding, workbooks hitting the floor with a loud smack.

 

Eren looked up to where Levi stood in the doorway. He smiled cheekily, “So, you decided to come see me?” he asked quietly. Levi wasn't sure if his eyes were fooling him, but Eren seemed to blush when he said that. He was surprised Eren didn’t stutter, but then again, he had no reason to think Eren would be nervous.

 

Eren shared the same silent surprise. He looked down at his hands, the seconds feeling like hours as he heard Levi come closer to him. He felt the bed shift, and looked up to see Levi’s steel eyes gazing intently back into his own ocean-colored eyes. It’s like he’s trying to see into my soul... not that I would mind, but doesn’t he not really like me? Why is he like this? Eren was the first to break their eye contact as he looked down.

“Why are you here?” he mumbled out, unable to look the other in the eyes as he asked.

 

“Why am I here?” He paused to take that question into consideration as Eren nodded. “I’m here, because I’ve been waiting for you to wake up for the past 5 weeks.” At this Eren looked up into his eyes, trying to read any emotions within that could tell him if Levi was lying. Yet, he found no such things. He found only honesty and concern.

 

“Well, I’m going to go and get Eren’s breakfast along with his medication, you boys can talk to each other and catch up.” Petra’s voice turned Eren’s attention from the raven-haired boy in front of him to the nice nurse. He nodded and couldn’t find the courage to look into Levi’s eyes again.

Once she left, and closed the door behind her, Eren found the courage to speak again. “So is that really the reason you’re here?” He asked, his voice small, almost like he was frightened, yet it sounded broken, like he didn’t want to ask.

 

Levi was silent for a minute. His own eyes drifted over the bedsheets, over Eren’s arm wrapped tightly and slung over his shoulder, over the bandages he could see wrapped around his torso, and over the wires strung between him and the heavy machines that stood guard to Eren’s right. He sighed in resignation. “More or less.”

 

Eren almost instantly gave Levi the ‘you-did-not-just-fucking-answer-me-like-that’ look. “So you just came to drop off the papers you so graciously spilled all over the floor?” He asked, giving Levi an incredulous stare. Is that really the only fucking reason he’s been coming for the past four weeks? He probably wants me to think that I owe him something too…. Fucking perfect.

 

Fuck. He’s onto me. Quick, say something that doesn't make you sound like a creep. Levi was very thankful he could school his expression into complete indifference so easily. Years of practice had its perks. “I was expecting you to be a bit more grateful, Brat.”

 

Eren huffed as he crossed his arms over his chest, or at least tried to. Called it. “Why do I need to be grateful to someone who put me in this immaculate hell hole they call a hospital?” Why the fuck am I questioning him further!? What the fuck is wrong with me? FUCK! I want him to actually like me, dammit! I should be glad! He put me here, and got me the fuck away from Grisha…

 

Levi’s steely glare finally drifted back up to Eren’s face. Eren wasn’t too sure, but he thought he saw some softer emotion past the annoyance. His voice dropped, and he quietly spoke. “I thought you thanked me for it earlier, Brat.” His eyebrow quirked up, the hard lines of his cool facade smoothed somewhat with confusion. “...Why.”

 

“W-why what?” Eren started to stutter again, a clear sign to the raven-haired teen that he was nervous. Or hiding something. Probably both. But for now, Eren was feigning innocence from Levi’s question. He doesn’t want to fucking know, he’s already fucking told me that. He doesn’t need to know either.

 

He’s really going to play the oblivious card. He’s not going to do that and fucking get away with it. His voice stayed low, and dropped an octave. If you can’t beat ‘em, threaten the little shits. “I know that you know exactly what I mean.”

 

“And what is it that you know I know what you mean?” Eren asked, raising a quizzical eyebrow at the shorter man, who currently sat on the left side of his bed. He tried to lean back onto the raised bed, only to find out his pain medication had long run out. He hissed for a short second before leaning forward again, acting as if nothing was wrong with his back. Yes, nothing is wrong besides the fact that my back feels like I’m being repeatedly stabbed with fucking knifes!

 

Levi definitely noticed the pain laced into Eren’s features, but kept his face stoic. He’s awful at pretending he knows nothing. Let’s jog his memory… “When I punched you in the chest, you started gushing blood.” Levi swallowed, face still devoid of emotion. Please don't notice how distressing this is. “You were on the floor, barely conscious, and in pain. You had to be carted away in an ambulance. And yet I saw you mouth the words ‘Thank you’ to me. I'm not fucking blind, and you don't have amnesia. So tell me.” His eyes narrowed, and he leaned in minutely closer, patience wearing thin. “Why.”

 

Eren looked down at his hands, like they suddenly were the most interesting things in the world. He couldn’t force himself to meet the other’s eyes. Does he really want to know? He looks like he’s ready to cry. Did he think that he had killed me? Well, I guess that would’ve put anyone in a weird situation of what if’s. But I can’t tell him why, that would be going way too far into territory that no one knows about. Not even the friends I had at my other school know about it… HAHAHAHA. Friends. That word is fucking hilarious. I have none. Not even Levi can be considered one. Eren just blankly stared at the familiar hands in his lap. He hadn’t said a single word, just mulling it over in his head. Should I really tell him my whole past? Maybe I can tell him about some things but I can’t tell him every-

 

“Oi, Brat, are you even listening to me? Answer the fucking question.”

 

Eren jumped at the obvious hostility coming from the teen sitting beside him.

 

“And you know what? I have another question for you.”

 

“W-what?” Eren’s voice quivered in shock. His eyes showed the fear he was feeling from Levi’s overbearing tone.  

 

“I know my own strength. My punch should have broken bones. But it didn’t. Someone or something did that for me. Care to explain that?”

 

Eren visibly swallowed and looked down at those oh so interesting hands again. “D-do you r-really want to know?” He asked. He felt hot tears start to line his eyes, but the other couldn’t see them because of his overly long hair shielding part of his face. Why do I need to open up to him? Why does it need to be him that interested in what the hell my story is? No one needs to know. No one cares.

 

Finally, we’re fucking getting somewhere. “You think I’d fucking waste my breath asking if I didn't want to know?”

 

Well he has a pretty good fucking point. Ten point to fucking Gryffindor. “Y-you need to promise me something though.” Eren stuttered out the words and felt the first tear drop. HOLY SHIT! I’m actually going to fucking tell someone! I hope you feel special you fucking Deuterostome.

 

He’s crying shitshitshitshitshit How do I make it stop, dammit! I really, really want to hug him right now but I can't because his back is shredded but he’s fucking CRYING and I CAN’T HUG HIM AND HOW DO I MAKE IT STOP AND YOU'RE GOING TO VISIBLY FREAK OUT IF YOU KEEP INTERNALLY SCREAMING CHILL THE FUCK OUT! Levi was an internal train wreck. But Eren didn't need to know that. Let’s keep it that way. He tried to keep the malice out of his voice. “What am I promising, now?”

 

Eren didn’t meet Levi’s eyes. “Y-you need to promise me,” Eren paused to sniffle and rub what he thought were hidden tears away from his eyes, “that you’ll keep this to yourself. You can’t tell anyone about any of this, and I fucking mean it, Levi.” Eren tried to hide the shaking in his voice through anger, but he was failing miserably.

 

Pleasepleaseplease stop crying, anything to get you to stop crying… Levi was very quiet when he spoke, sounding gruff, but almost… comforting. “...Alright, Brat. I promise.” And with the exception of his mother,

 

Eren told him everything.

 

 



Chapter Text

I'm finally back to fucking school. No more poring over textbooks and stalking Wikipedia to try and do my fucking homework. Levi felt the looks of some students as he walked the hallway to first period. He remained completely impassive to their stares. You’d think I had died and come back to life. Yes, be in fucking awe of my immortality. Sons of bitches.

 

He waltzed into Hanji’s class a minute before the bell rang. Unceremoniously dumping his bag on the floor and himself in his chair, he examined the still-empty chair next to him. How fucking long does it take to let someone leave the hospital? I'd've thought he’d be here by now. ...Whatever. He’s probably fine. His eyes wandered over to Hanji’s desk. She saw her looking at him just as the bell rang. A glint of disdain in her eyes, she looked straight at him, then pointedly at the empty chair next to him.

 

“Mr. Ackerman.”

 

If there was still any commotion in the classroom, her sharp voice silenced it. Levi stared back at her disinterestedly. The fuck does this bitch want now?

 

“Yes, Mrs. Hanji?”

 

A sickly sweet smile curled across her face. “Would you care to enlighten us as to the whereabouts of Mr. Yeager? Surely, given your, involvement with him,” her eyes narrowed at him, “you would know as much, would you not?”

 

Eren shuffled in as he heard the last of Mrs. Hanji’s cutting words, directed of course to Levi. “I-I’m sorry I’m late, Mrs. Hanji.” He stumbled over his words as he entered the room. He looked to be in far better condition that he did a mere eight weeks ago. His throat no longer wrapped, though his back was still healing, he could get through the day with medication. His arm was still in a cast however, and his chest was wrapped tightly underneath his clothing. He was wearing warmer colors, like he was happy to be out of the dreary hospital. His hair had been cut a bit shorter than it had been weeks ago, but he simply seemed to glow in front of everyone. Ignore the stares. Ignore the stares. Ignore the stares. Eren tried to remain bubbly in front of everyone as he went to go take his seat beside Levi. He handed an excuse note to Mrs. Hanji as he made his way over to the seat. He sat down carefully into the hard chair, and tried not to let his back touch the chair. That would hurt too fucking much. I wonder what the hell a busy hallway is gonna feel like?

 

With pursed lips, Mrs. Hanji stiffly took the note from Eren and followed him with icy eyes to his seat. “Very well. Good to have you back, Eren.” She tried not to make her irritation obvious. But with Levi, it was obvious. He miraculously resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

 

Levi looked over to Eren carefully perched on his chair, analysing the front he obviously fabricated. This kid’s pretending he’s totally fine. At least everyone else is too stupid to tell. He nudged Eren’s shoe with his foot. The kid nearly jumped out of his skin before looking at him for the first time that morning.

 

“W-what?!” Eren stuttered, looking at Levi with wide eyes, giving Levi full view of his ocean-like eyes.

 

Levi gave him a small smirk, and spoke just quietly enough for Eren to hear him. “‘Sup, bitch.”

 

Eren’s eyes widened more, if that was even humanly possible. His heart fluttered at the sound of his low voice, as if it was trying to elicit a response from him. He opened his mouth, showing off beautiful white teeth before quickly covering his face with his hands. He turned his head away from the other to tried and calm himself down. The tips of his ears burned scarlet, which meant his whole face was flushed as well. What the actual fuck is Levi trying to do?! Give me a fucking heart attack? Or is he just teasing me because I’ve basically cried on his shoulder for the past three weeks in the hospital?

 

Levi’s eyes were alight with silent laughter, his heart jumping in his chest. How the hell can he get even more adorable? That’s not even possible . It should be illegal to be that... cute. He tilted his head, casually asking, “Something the matter?”

 

Eren spread his fingers to look at Hanji, only to find that she was talking to the class, her back towards them, as she wrote notes hurriedly on the chalkboard. He then gave a sideways glance towards Levi’s laid back form. He simply gawked at the other’s abs underneath that tight shirt he was wearing. God, why in fucking hell - scratch that - Satan, why in your sweet hell is Levi this fucking gorgeous . He slowly composed himself before letting the hand that covered his face down. “You’re an asshole I hope you know that.” Eren’s voice was soft and angelic, only Levi would be able to hear him. He then busied himself with his notes, trying not to pay attention to the sexy demon next to him. God - Satan - I hope one day I would be able to know personally.

 

Levi’s heart was doing backflips. I'm going to go into cardiac arrest at this rate. Stop being so damn beautiful- wait no, please don't stop. “Funny, I get that a lot.”

 

“I’m sure you do, you king of asshats.” Eren smiled widely, but covered his mouth with his tan hand. He tried to keep his eyes off of Levi for the rest of the class as he took notes. Why Satan? Why do you hate me so? I can’t wait until I can get to my other classes and actually focus! FUCK! Must he be so gorgeous? I don’t even know what Hanji’s fucking talking about anymore, god dammit… Well let’s continue to examine Levi’s sculpted body. Eren tore his eyes away from Levi as soon as Hanji slammed a book down on the desk.

 

“You two! Mr. Yeager, and Mr. Ackerman! What in Satan’s great Hell are you two doing looking at on each other? Did you pay attention to this lesson at all?” She asked, anger clear in her voice.

 

Eren swallowed hard but nodded. I’m going to regret this aren’t I?

 

“Well then Mr. Yeager, please tell me what the difference between Hydrogen Bonds and Covalent bonds is!” She shouted at him and the whole class fell deathly silent again as they watched the exchange between their crazy teacher and the two students who had finally come back to class.

 

“U-uh… A hydrogen bond i-is um….” Eren trailed off trying to look at his notes for the answer but couldn’t find it to be useful.

 

“I’m waiting Mr. Yeager.” Hanji’s hostile tone reverberated in the room as she tapped her foot on the floor, her arms crossed over her chest. She was pissed as all hell.

 

“I-it’s uh...uh… I’m sorry Mrs. Hanji I don’t know.” He looked down with his defeated voice lingering in the air.

 

“Mr. Ackerman?” The hostility was now focused on him.

 

“I don’t know either Mrs. Hanji.” He deadpanned.

 

“Well it will be a pleasure to meet both of you in detention after school today.” Mrs. Hanji smile was sickly terrifying and she turned back to the rest of the class. “Now, would anyone else like to admit they didn’t pay attention in class? You’d be joining those two in detention later today!” Hanji seemed to singsong the last statement giddily.

 

No one volunteered before the bell rang, letting them all off the hook for now.

 

“Mr. Ackerman, Mr. Yeager, report to the lab after classes. You’ll be helping me set up and clean up the AP lab experiments.” She then let the two of them leave the room after that.

 

Eren looked to the door as he got his things together. He was really quiet, unable to look up at Levi. “Sorry” he whispered quietly and looked down. “I keep getting you into trouble...” he murmured and looked down. The mask had finally fallen, the happy glint in his eyes was gone, as if it wasn’t there to begin with. He started to make his way to the hallway, his shoulders slumped as he walked away from Levi.

 

“Oi, Brat.”

 

Eren looked over his shoulder at Levi. His eyes looked dull, “Yes?” He asked simply.

 

Worry was barely perceptible as it flickered past in Levi’s eyes. He raised an eyebrow at him, his mouth minutely pulled up at the corners. Why are you so hard on yourself all the time? Seriously, chill. “Don't worry about it; It's not the worst thing to ever happen.”

 

Eren only shrugged. “I’ll see you later,” the boy mumbled before turning and leaving, blending into the bustle of the hallways. He didn’t even cross Levi’s path until lunch, and even then he was across the cafeteria from Levi. Sitting completely alone as he scrawled into a small notepad.

 

Levi stared him down over his thermos of tea. Eren was completely oblivious to his surroundings and his spectator, of course, but that didn't stop Levi from willing him to Just fucking look over here before I have to uproot all my stuff and go over there, Brat. He set his thermos down with a bit more force than necessary, earning him some curious looks, particularly from the jocks around him.

 

“-evi. Levi.” Jean called for the fifth time in a row. “Are you back to reality yet?” He asked as he stared him down, then glanced at his white-knuckled grip on his thermos.

 

Levi snapped back to reality because of Jean’s annoying ass voice. The fuck does he want now? Levi glared at him, giving him the indication to continue.

 

Jean laughed it off and looked to Annie, who sat on his lap. “Annie did you hear the guy you tried to steal your bag that one time is back from the hospital?” He smirked a bit. “Apparently Levi put him there, I wonder how much of a wimp he is if one punch did him in for 8 weeks!” Jean laughed along with everyone else that had flocked towards their table. Anyone who wanted to appear cool naturally joined in.

 

Levi’s glare seemed to grow instantly darker. “Really, Jean? You think I got suspended for eight weeks for one single punch?” He asked, and seemed to smirk a bit. Though this smirk could instill fear into everyone at that table. “Mention it again and I’ll fucking castrate you, right here, right now you fucking asshole .” Levi’s voice dangerously levelled, the glare in his eyes turning ferocious.

 

Jean held his arms up in surrender. “Alright! Geez, I’m sorry man. Won’t mention it again!” He replied, wide-eyed at Levi’s obvious display of anger. “Who pissed in your cereal this morning?” He asked as a side comment, which caused Annie to snicker.

 

“Care to repeat that Jean?” Levi growled out, grabbing a few things, but mostly his lunch and his books. “If any of you dare follow me, you’ll be put into the back of an ambulance just like Yeager.” he snarled. He stalked off as most of the team tried to brush it off with nervous laughs. Levi definitely intimidated them all.

 

Eren hadn’t seen Levi stalk away from football table, though he looked up when a hush fell over the cafeteria. He didn’t see Levi anywhere and sighed. Why am I looking for Levi of all people. I mean I know I like him… Okay that’s an understatement, I fucking love the man. But, he doesn’t love me back. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hush was because he told the football team how he beat me to smithereens. ...I wish I didn’t tell him everything Grisha has done to me, thank god he didn’t question me about my mother’s role at all, or the lack thereof. Eren sighed heavily as he looked down at the book he was writing down in.

 

...Well, fuck. Levi shoved the metal doors to the outside open, storming across the courtyard to a picnic table in the shade. It was far enough from anyone else who decided to eat outside, but close enough for the fury he was radiating to be noticeable. Dumping his bag on the bench, he sat down and tried to resume eating his lunch. He studied the cafeteria through the windows, trying to look past the glare from the sun and spot Eren. He finally found him in the sea of students, still hunched over that notebook. He let his gaze drift back to the table he usually sat at, the jocks carrying on with whatever dumbass topics they thought were worthy of conversation. How the fuck is this going to work. While the adorable little shit is busy being lonely and depressing to look at, I have to feign indifference. And considering the fact that he tripped over Jean’s bitch’s bag, I’m expected to laugh at a major fucking mistake on my part like it’s the best thing since someone decided bread wasn't fucking easy enough to eat and had to cut it into pieces. Like fuck. This. His grey eyes settled back on Eren’s hunched figure. He’s damn fine…

 

And if anyone’s around, I have to pretend he's an asshole.

 

 

FUCK.

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

 

Eren finished up the rest of his classes, handing in a lot of work for most of his teachers. He continued on with a mask of happiness plastered on his face. His eyes were dull though, not gleaming as they should be if he was really happy. He grudgingly continued on to the ‘detention’ Hanji had spoke of. He sighed as his eyes laid on a very familiar figure down the hallway. God, he’s gotta hate me for this.

 

Levi leaned against the wall inside of the chemistry labs, bag slung on his arm and phone in hand. His foot made a quiet tapping sound on the hard floor. He looked up from his phone without moving his head much, raising an eyebrow at Eren’s slumped stature. He looks fucking miserable. We're just setting up the lab, it's nothing that awful...

 

Eren slowly got closer to Levi, the defeated look in his eyes prominent. He didn’t look towards Levi, and in fact tried to keep his gaze away from the handsomeness that he needed to work with. Don’t even look at him, he’ll probably just glare at you for this. Yeah, that sexy ass glare-- STOP! Do not think about his eyes simply undressing you, it’s probably his eyes trying to find all the places he can put a knife through my gut. He’s gotta fucking hate me at this point, he didn’t want to know anything, yet he knows almost everything.

 

“-at. Oi, Brat. You listening?” Damn, he’s miles away. What the hell’s he so caught up in?

 

Eren was completely oblivious to anything that was going on in the room. He didn’t even notice that Hanji had come in, given them instructions, and left. He was completely absorbed in his thoughts about Levi.

 

*Shatter!*

 

Levi hit the table with his fist in exasperation, his eyes holding no more patience as he seemed to look straight through Eren. “Okay, that’s it. There’s something hanging over you, and if it’s making you spread misery fucking everywhere and break beakers, I want to know what the fuck it is.”

 

Eren blankly stared down at the broken glass on the floor. Did I just break a fucking glass? Eren slowly shook his head, before he kneeled down to clean up the shattered glass, not caring if he cut his fingers, which- of course- he did. “It’s nothing, Levi.” he said quietly.

 

“You and I both know that’s a fucking lie.” Levi strode around the table and stopped a foot away from him. “You've been in a shit mood all day. Why.”

 

Eren simply continued to clean up the broken glass. “I'm sorry, I was under the impression that you didn’t want to know anything about my life.” His voice sounded so hurt and broken. He never looked up to Levi, and focused on cleaning up the glass, his hands now heavy with scratches that didn’t seem to affect him in the least. You don’t want to fucking know, Levi, really you don’t. Please don’t ask.

 

...The fuck? And why is he letting himself get so cut up with the glass? Does he not feel that shit?Levi’s irritated expression became one of concern, his brow furrowing. He sounds so broken up… if he starts crying, and please don't make him start fucking crying, I don't think I know how to stop him. Levi slowly crouched down level with Eren. Well fuck. Here goes nothing. He carefully reached out and took his wrists in his hands, making him open them and drop the glass he was picking up. He somehow managed to keep his voice level; “Will you stop that? Your hands look fucking awful.” He tried to get Eren to stand up and to walk him over to where the first-aid kit hung on the wall, behind the front desk.

 

“Levi. Let . Go.” Eren growled out every word to the shorter boy in front of him. Eren hurriedly snatched away his hands, which now were only slightly bleeding. “Don’t. Fucking. Touch. Me.” The anger in his voice was so apparent, it was unnatural, even for Eren. He then bent back down and picked up the glass again, all of it, and put it in the bin specified for glass.

 

Levi nearly froze in shock. He had never heard Eren speak with such pure malice, and it was pretty terrifying. Fuckfuckfuck what’d I do Satan please spare me- With wide eyes, he just watched Eren pick back up every shard of glass and dump it. When he turned back to look at him, he tried to speak, his voice betraying more regret than he had hoped it would. “Eren-”

 

“No!” Eren shouted and walked briskly past him to see what they needed to set up. “I’m not going to listen to your fucking nonsense anymore. I’m done , damn it! I don’t want you acting like you're actually concerned about me just because I told you every fucking detail about what Grisha did to me!” He shouted out every word at him as he moved across the lab, gathering everything they needed to set up all the experiments. “Not one more fucking word, or I am fucking leaving! And you can do this shit by your sorry ass self!” He shouted at Levi, thankful that the door was closed and no one came to see if everything was alright. “Go to your fucking practice! I know you don’t want to be stuck with the fucking Nerd.” he growled at the other. He was seething and he continued to set up for the experiments.

 

Levi didn't know what possessed him to do such a thing that could potentially end with graduated cylinders lodged in his skull. But his feet moved of their own accord, and then he was right next to Eren, carefully pointing to the tray of things needed to be set up, then to himself. He willed Eren to understand. This is my own fucking fault. Let me finish this. You shouldn't have to be here, because I got us in trouble, and I'm sorry for that. Please.

 

Eren just stared at him. Though he gave up after a bit. “Just go to fucking practice, asshole.” he growled at the other and continued to set up beside him. He didn’t look up to Levi after that. Just go away, dammit. I wanna be alone, I want to cry from all the fucking stress. I wanna get this over with so I can go see mom. Eren sighed heavily, seemingly calmer than just a few seconds ago, but his shoulders were still slumped, and his eyes glazed over in defeat.

 

...I’m sorry, Brat. Levi saw the battered resignation in Eren’s eyes, and sighed softly. He reached out and carefully took the Petri dish from Eren’s hands. He didn't even seem to notice until he went to put it down and found it gone. He looked up again, and Levi willed him to understand one more time. Let me take care of this mess I got you into. None of this is your fault. Let me do this. Please.

 

Eren looked at him with emotionless eyes. He honestly wanted to scream at the other again. It helps to yell at someone. I just wish it didn't have to be him. He moved away from the lab tables before grabbing his bag. He gently put it over his shoulder and walked off. Leaving without another word. Why did I have to snap? Especially at him?

 

Levi missed practice, setting everything up alone.

Chapter Text

Eren strode out of the shithole they called a fucking school. Yes, Eren strode out of that fucking building. There were a few fucking reasons for that too. He was royally pissed off, and honestly if you could see emotions, you would be able to see the dragons of fury emanating from his lanky body. He was so angry with Levi, yet he knew he wasn’t really angry at him in the slightest. No, I snapped… I didn’t mean to, but I fucking did. Eren sighed as he crossed the street and started his long way across town to get home.

 

I can’t believe I just left him there? I mean I want him to like me and actually care, right?..... WAIT, HOLD THE FUCKING PHONE. I am not going to admit that I want someone by my side. I will not give in to his antics, and fall so helplessly for him only to have him wipe the floor with my pride. Eren looked down, mostly watching where he was stepping, but he was pretty much oblivious to anything that was happening around him. No, I’m not going to tell him that I like him. I bet he’s just trying to get me to fall in love with him, like all those girls that drool all over him…. I bet he thinks about me as just someone interesting that would be a quick fuck. At that point Eren covered his face with his hands. “Why do I always think about that?” he asked quietly. He didn’t remember that his hands were bleeding until he felt the warm liquid on his face. Great, it’s probably all over my face now too… thank the fucking Lord I wore black. Eren looked down towards the ground as he used his sleeves to wipe up the blood from his face, as well as pull his sleeves down to prevent his hands from bleeding any more than they had to. He swallowed hard as he heard the footsteps of another person behind him, casually walking, but he didn’t dare turn to see who it was. Nopenopenopenope, just keep walking dammit!

 

Eren sped down the long street as fast as he could to get to his ‘home’. He did everything short of running; His back still wouldn’t allow for that. Can’t be fucking late tomorrow morning either, I won’t have an excuse for Hanji’s class, dammit! Eren finally made it into his house, the small two story home almost empty. The silence was oppressive, Eren now left in complete and utter silence, save for the frequent ticking from the grandfather clock that never fucking stopped. Why is it so quiet? It’s never bothered me before… why now? Eren looked down at his bloodied hands and he just started to sob. All the stress life had thrown at him was finally getting to him. He slowly slid down the back of the front door, finally making it to the ground. He pulled his knees close to his chest and hugged them like his life depended on it. Why did it have to happen today of all fucking days?.... I want to go see her, I miss her… I miss Mommy . Eren started to brutally sob as he started to think of his deceased mother.

 

Why didn’t I listen to what she said? Why didn’t I listen? All the guilt that had been forced onto him by his father finally pulled the last straw and came tumbling over Eren’s shoulders. He knew this wouldn’t be good… It never ended well, generally with Grisha beating him, then patching him up so he wouldn’t die, so that he could live with the guilt for what he fucking did. He sobbed more, he felt his chest tightening. It hurt, but he did nothing to stop himself. He did nothing to stop himself, nothing at all. His mother told him “No.” Eren was upset, and started to cry. Why can’t I have mac n’ cheese, mommy? Eren was a quiet child, never really voicing his thoughts, but they were there all the same. He watched as his mom left the confines of their small kitchen. It wasn’t a spacious kitchen, but it wasn’t like it could only fit one person within it. Eren followed her as she walked away to go upstairs, making sure that she was infact gone.

 

Eren smirked as he went back into the pantry and grabbed the box of mac n’ cheese that he so desperately loved. He reached for it, standing on his tippy toes, and successfully grabbed the box of the coveted pasta. Eren smiled at his success, his whole face lighting up as he got up to put the hard macaroni in the pan, as he had watched his mother do so many times before, though he put the macaroni right into the pot, not adding water. I can do it! I can show mom that I’m a big boy! Eren smiled as he was able to hoist the heavy pot onto the gas stove. He tried to reach up into the pot, though soon found out he would need a chair from the table to get to the pot. The boy turned to get the chair, stopping only for a moment.

 

Eren felt  more pain in his chest than he had ever felt before. His heart was beating at a hundred miles an hour, like it was trying to beat it’s way out of his chest. His eyes glazed over as he tried to claw at the uncomfortable feeling in his chest. He felt the fabric underneath his fingernails. He was gasping for air as his nails dug into the fabric, trying to make the tightness go away. Eren felt the warm trails down his hollow cheeks.

 

The boy grabbed the chair and dragged it silently to the stove top. He got up and perched himself on the chair, admiring the view of his mac n’ cheese. His small hands turned the knob on the stove in front of him. He smiled more as he heard the familiar repeated clicking noise until he heard the fwoosh of the gas igniting. He watched as the bright flames licked the bottom of the large pan. Eren let out a toothy grin as he hopped down from the chair, using the back of the chair and the counter to balance himself as he silently hopped down. His arm ended up knocking over the now empty box of mac n’ cheese, bringing it dangerously close to the open flames that licked the pot. He looked over as he heard another fwoosh . The box was burning.

 

At this point, Eren had fallen to the floor, crying and screaming. He was in so much pain, it felt like someone had reached in and crushed his lungs and was forcing the breath out of him. He was gasping for air, his chest burning just as much as it was tightening by the second. He tried to call out for help…. No one was there to answer him.

 

Eren stared at the burning cardboard box as it went up in flames. His eyes widened in interst as he picked it up, he was so curious of the fire that was slowly coming down the box, towards his delicate fingers. He made a small gasp, dropping the box when the bright orange flames licked his own fingers. He tried not to make a noise, mom can’t know I’m making mac n’ cheese . He hurriedly reached for the roll of paper towels which was on the countertop. He had to struggle on his tippy toes, reach over the counter and pull the towels from the roll. He pulled them down, sheet after sheet, still connected as he pulled it down to the floor, stringing it out. The boy’s eyes only widened at the next sight…. Fwoosh.

 

It took only seconds for the rest of the paper towels to be engulfed in flames. His eyes widened to the size of dinner plates, silently watching as the fire spread from old wooden cabinet to old wooden cabinet. It took only seconds for the fire to successfully engulf the perimeter of the kitchen, and by this time, the smoke was billowing in the kitchen, and around the house out of control.

 

“EREN!” Eren shrunk as he heard his mother’s frantic voice. “Eren where are you??” Her voice more and more frantic as she coughed from the smoke she was breathing in. Eren opened his mouth to call out to her, but what if she found out? What if she found out I was making mac n’ cheese? No, that can’t happen. I wouldn’t be able to have it anymore. The young boy went to the now burning pot of pasta and tried to turn off the burner, he was successful in extinguishing the flames, but not the gas. Did he notice? No.

 

Eren was screaming so much he felt like his throat was raw. He was trying to scream for help, but it didn’t come out into coherent words. His fingers were spazzing out, locking up in uncomfortable positions as he rolled around in a frenzied panic. His head had hit the ground, and the table leg more than it should have, and he probably suffered a concussion, but his head already hurt too much to try and figure that out.

 

Eren started coughing as the smoke rolled lower into the kitchen. He sat down on the floor, only to see that the flames were starting to make quick work of the floorboards as well. He watched as the flames licked his feet. It hurts! It hurts a lot! Mommy help me!! I’m scared! Eren was starting to panic. He couldn’t help but let out a shrill screech at the pain which he was experiencing. He quickly silenced himself as he heard his mother come close to the kitchen. He sat on the floor, tears were now quickly running down his cheeks as he watched his mother come into the kitchen after him. Part of the ceiling caved in as soon as she did, the exit now blocked from the both of them. She kneeled down and picked up the now panicking boy. “M-mom-” Eren managed to croak out as he was lifted into her arms, we’re trapped mommy , was what he couldn’t say. They were both coughing horribly. “It’s-” His mother started coughing again, “It’s okay, Eren, mommy loves you.” She told him quietly. I love you too mommy! I’m so sorry. Eren only watched in complete shock as his mother screamed for Grisha to come to the kitchen. His eyes widened at the sight of them. Trapped. No way out. Both of them. “Carla… I’m going to get you out-” He started, but soon he started a coughing fit as well. The thick smoke was burning their lungs every time they tried to take a breath. “NO!” Carla roared and changed the way she held Eren in her arms. Mommy, what are you doing??? Eren was so confused as he cried in his mother’s arms. “Carla, you can’t be serious.” Grisha managed in between coughs. Eren was frantically looking between his two parents to see what the hell they were planning. Mommy? What’s happening? I’m scared. Eren watched as his mother got close to the burning piece of ceiling which blocked their escape. She carefully held him, kissing his forehead. Why does it feel like the last time? Eren could only watch as his mother lifted him with all the strength she had and threw him over he burning obstacle, and into his father’s waiting arms. Mommy? Eren’s eyes were still wide and he looked up to his father. He looked so distraught, he hugged the boy close to his larger chest, smothering Eren’s face into his chest so he wouldn’t breathe in the smoke anymore. Daddy? Why can’t mommy come? Eren was held securely until they got outside of the burning house, neighbors had evacuated the surrounding houses. Eren watched in horror as the house they had just come out of had burst into flames. Huge ones. It was so hot to stand anywhere near the fire. He looked up to his father and just watched him cry for the first time in his life. Why is daddy crying? Where is mommy?

 

“No…. Mommy” Eren continued to sob as his limbs spazzed out around him. His chest hurt so much, he didn’t know that making the mac n’ cheese would set the house ablaze. I’m worthless… I killed my own mother, my father hates me for it, he beats me often for ever being born and killing his precious wife. He’s disowned me as his son, he’s come close to castrating me, Levi knows I’m gay…. He knows I like him- no, he knows I love him. Eren was panicking as he curled up to himself.  He had opened up quite a few cuts all over his body. Mom died today…. Eight years ago, today…. I couldn’t go see her grave… Grisha couldn’t beat me for it…. I’m useless. Eren started to finally black out from the lack of oxygen from his quick breathing.

 

Why do I feel warm? It feels almost... comforting. Eren thought he was hallucinating when he felt a pair of strong hands gently pick him up. It’s my own hallucinations…. No one cares about me, I’m going fucking crazy….

 

Eren drifted off into darkness, letting his body go limp in those strong hands.

 

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

 

This is all a bunch of fucking bullshit. Levi ran down the street to where he thought the Brat’s house was, scanning street signs for any clue as to where he was going. Eren only had a five minute lead on him; He was sure to catch up. Finishing the setup didn't take so long, thank God I actually focused on what the hell I was doing. His feet pounded along the cement walk, the noise not really registering. But nothing makes any. Fucking. SENSE. The Brat was totally fine this morning, and I would swear on my fucking life he was flirting back, but then I get us a one-way ticket to detention- great job doing that, by the way, someone get me a fucking medal - and then he goes to the other extreme of being a brooding little shit and practically using a dark, looming raincloud as a hat. Levi flew past plenty of busy streets, narrowly missing passers by, none of their names familiar in the slightest. Levi passed- well, pushed- some ditz of a blonde on the sidewalk out of his way. Fuckers need to move, dammit!

 

Cement gave way to nothing but open asphalt, the winding road walling him on his right with trees, the empty fields to his left letting wind push against him and try in vain to slow him from his dead sprint. The leaves on the trees around him rustling, dead leaves skittering alongside him on the street, drowning out any other sound. A small eddy of wind pushed brown, crisp leaves up in a small tornado, only to seemingly take aim and shoot at him, catching in his hair and poking his legs. Nature fucking hates me. And there hasn't been a house for a damn mile. He kept running. Rose Wall Avenue sounds familiar… fuck it, GO. Levi had no real idea where he was going; He had ghosted over directions to his house only once on his phone, and he was in the middle of nowhere as far as he could tell. I could use my phone… eh, fuck it, that takes too much time. He took a sharp right, barely hesitating in his mad dash.

 

Did he not even fucking feel his hands when he was picking up all that glass? What he did to himself isn't pretty, that’s for sure. He started skimming the edge of the trees for a driveway cut into the line, setting his eyes on one a hundred yards up. There’s nothing wrong, my ass. I could understand not wanting to talk about it,but if he could at least admit something was bugging him to anyone , you’d think what with all he’s already told me... He stopped in front of the lone house, a dim brick facade staring him down. The three windows on the second floor, and the two on the first flanking the front door were dark. Old metal numbers hung rusting above the door frame. 104... That has to be it. His feet carried him up the cracking cement walk, eyes drifting over the shaggy, yellowing grass of the front lawn. A dying cherry tree hunched in front of the left windows, barren. The wooden front door was painted a dark red, the knob made of steel stained with the marks of hundreds of hands. He caught his breath for a moment and, poised to knock…

 

Wait, am I really expecting him to open the door after what just happened? Face, meet palm. Levi, you're a goddamned moron. Pick a fucking window. Stealth mode activated, he crept up to the siding of the house, avoiding overgrown shrubbery as he went. None of the windows in front showed anything in the house, save inanimate furniture. But there was a sound…

 

The Brat’s… crying.

 

FUCK WHERE IS HE

 

Stealth be damned, Levi sprinted to the back of the house. He looked despairingly into each window, searching for anything, any sign of life and, from the window that sat opposite the front door,

 

Levi was given a clear line of sight past the kitchen, down the hall, and to the crumpled black mess Eren was, collapsed against the front door, shaking and clawing at his chest, looking to be in miserable hysterics.

 

... THAT’S FUCKING TERRIFYING. How am I supposed to get in there, dammit!?

 

Levi ditched his bag immediately and tried the back door, two steps to his left. Locked, of course. Wait… Levi jumped up, trying his best to feel at the top of the frame. He felt something, and soon heard something small and metal clang against the cement. Fucking duh.

 

He couldn’t scramble to get the key into the lock fast enough. He almost broke the knob off the door opening it, though bursting into the small hallway, he hesitated. Eren was on the floor, large tears spilling over his cheeks without interruption, shaking violently, breath ragged, bloody hands scrawling invisible script over his shirt. His eyes, glazed over and darting from spot to spot on the ground in front of him, could not see. Levi approached his form slowly, and though he was sure Eren looked at him, or at least his legs, his gaze passed through him.

 

Oh. My God. Eren.

 

Levi rushed the last few feet and knelt next to Eren, trying to get a better look at his face. Brushing some hair from his eyes, his chest tightened at the utter brokenness he saw, how wholly shattered Eren was. Eren, what… what happened? His voice cracked as he spoke quietly, laced with a softness he wasn't used to hearing himself speak with. “Eren, hey Eren, shhh… it’s okay, you're fine. Everything’s okay…”

 

Levi didn't know what to do except take Eren into his arms, shifting his arms around him, lifting him up from the hard floor, Eren’s bag sliding off his arm with little resistance. Damn, you're so light. The second I get my shit together we’re going out for cheeseburgers. That thought stopped there; there was too much else to ponder. He cradled him close, watching for a moment with light fascination as his breathing slowed, his eyes slowly closing. He felt a heavy weight settle in his chest, a face marred with ugly dreams. Careful of his head he slowly turned, looking for the stairs. We need to get you in bed, let you sleep…

 

He took the first of many steps with caution, looking so he wouldn't trip. Thirteen steps brought him to the landing, and it was obvious which room was Eren’s.

 

He treaded lightly on the carpet, picking his way over discarded clothes and books, before gently setting Eren on the bed. With a thought, he moved to untie his laces and pull of his shoes, setting them with a soft thunk at the foot of the bed. He reached over him to grab the covers, pulling them up to his chin. Eren reached up to their edge, grabbing at them. Levi’s fingers brushed Eren’s, and soon found his wrist caught by his hands.

 

Oh my God please stop making my heart melt with all this, you're so fucking adorable but you need sleep and I can't really stay too long but…

 

Brow knitted, his fingers weakly pulled at Levi and, when he didn't move, he made a small sound.

 

Warm… gimme… Eren tugged at Levi’s wrist, not about to let go.

 

Nooooo you're adorable and I want to but you don't even know I'm really here and this is gonna be hella awkward when you wake up and… He had practically no choice. Eren wouldn't let go, and resisting much more would wake him up sooner than later. And Levi didn't want that. Fumbling in his footwork to kick off his shoes, he lifted the covers and slid under without too much of a struggle.

 

Eren immediately made for the warm form that dipped his bed down, curling up close and bringing his arm over Levi’s stomach. Eren’s socked foot nudged at his, and nestled his cheek into his shoulder with a quiet hum. ...Warm. This is nice…

 

...What the actual hell is happening right now. Levi stiffened, so unsure of what to do with himself. But hearing Eren hum in content in his ear, he tilted his head to rest against Eren’s, curling his right arm up to hold Eren’s arm across him. He tentatively, softly kissed the top of Eren’s head, calmer about the way the day had gone, though he still worried about what was to happen. But I can't worry about that now, I've got a Brat to look after.

 

Levi drifted for a few hours in a half-dreaming state, happy just to hold onto Eren for the time he has with him. With blurry vision, he gazed over to the electric alarm clock that glowed on top of Eren’s dresser. 7:54 PM. It had been four hours. That's when he felt the shift of heat. Shit, he’s waking up… This is gonna be awkward as fuck.

 

Eren’s eyes lazily cracked opened, confused at his surroundings. He looked around him, finding the new warmth at his side odd, yet comforting. He slowly blinked once, then twice… a third time, trying to rid himself of the heaviness of deep sleep. He moved a bit and felt a body next to him. His eyes widened immediately, his mouth releasing a sound of pure terror as his body moved away from Levi’s form, taking the blankets with him. What the fuck??

Chapter Text

Fear. Fear is what he saw first. Confusion and shock, a flicker of anger, yes, but first and foremost, fear.

 

But it was the silent panic attack Eren was having that really hit him.

 

Oh my God no not again please not again you've already broken down enough for one day calm down.

 

Eren looked at Levi with widened eyes. What the fuck is Levi doing here? Why is he in my house… Why the FUCK is he in my room, in my bed!? And why in the ever present hell was I curled up to him? DAMMIT!! Eren felt his breathing become more and more sporadic as his chest started to tighten again. His eyes were full of terror as he tried to keep breathing, but was only managing wheezes. Eren looked over to Levi, pleading with him to do something… He was scared, and he didn’t want to black out again. He looked so scared, so helpless.

 

Levi knew what was happening. Concern crossed his eyes and he reached forward with care not to scare Eren even more. Please don't freak out even more, cause if you do none of this is going to get any better. He willed his voice to soften, “Oi, Eren, this is all a misunderstanding, don't panic please, I'll explain if you let me help you calm down.”

 

Eren looked to him, nodding with panicked eyes. He was tugging at his shirt. It feels tight… It hurts. Eren tried to take in a deep breath but soon found that his tightened chest wouldn’t allow for it. He started to cough, and it only freaked him out more, like he had breathed the smoke of that oh so horrible memory. His eyes bugged out a little more, he felt like he was choking… Yet it was all in his head. Levi needed to act quickly to calm him down, it wasn’t going to be an easy or fast process. “I-It hurts,” Eren finally managed to gasp out to the other as he tugged at his bloodied shirt, but you couldn’t tell- he was still wearing the black clothes from before. His clawing caused the wounds on his hands to open up a bit more and start to bleed again, adding to the mess on the poor kid’s chest.

 

Levi immediately shifted his weight forward, bringing Eren into his arms and getting him in his lap. Levi, don't fuck it up now. Leaning him back, he hugged him gently with his right arm, not caring about the blood that stained his sleeves as Eren hung onto him for dear life. His feet gently poked at Eren’s, and he tucked his head under his chin, mumbling softly. “It’s alright, nothing’s going to hurt you. It’s okay, I promise…” He rubbed his arm lightly with his thumb, tracing an invisible pattern up his sleeve.

 

The tension that once held Eren’s lanky body stiff, now drained from his whole being as he was gently cradled in Levi’s waiting arms. He started to cry once he was able to breath a bit better, yet it was the pain from his chest that made him cry. He sobbed into the raven’s chest as he sputtered, trying to calm down. He was trying to get words out to him, but nothing but breathy sobs left his mouth. Eren clung to the other’s shirt, feeling Levi’s fingers gently trace up and down his overly thin arms. He tried to let out a whimper to voice his discomfort when Levi pressed a bit too hard on his sensitive skin, but nothing came out. It was like he was frozen in Levi’s arms; No matter how comfortable he was, he couldn’t move or say anything. He was starting to freak out all over again. I can’t move. I can’t move. I can’t move. I can’t move. All the sudden Eren was panicking and hyperventilating against Levi’s chest all over again. His eyes starting to glaze over again as they had when he laid on the floor by his front door. He was struggling to breath at this point, and his grip failing to maintain its strength. Levi, help…. Please. Eren begged silently to the other in hopes he would be able to do something to help.

 

Something was not right. Quaking had become shaking had become quaking. Levi pulled back from Eren to look at his face, to see what was wrong. His eyes were shining, both from tears and loss of complete lucidity. Shit. “Eren, I'm so sorry, what’s wrong? Did I hurt you?” Please don't tell me I hurt you. Levi shifted Eren carefully so he wasn't right up against him, so that he could see his face. He carefully took hold of both of his hands, and decided talking to him was his best bet. What the fuck do you say to someone whilst in pain and in panic mode? Just… start rambling. ANYTHING. ...just, don't yell at him. Don't. Be nice . “Hey, I'm sorry if I hurt you, I'll be more careful.” Okay, so good so far… “...um.” The kid feels like shit right now, most likely. I know it’s hard, but try something humorous! ...know any jokes? Anything? “...did you know you live in the middle of fucking nowhere?”

 

Wooooooooow. Fucking brilliant material. I can already hear the talent agents knocking. Try again, dipshit.

 

Eren looked up and his eyes seemed to soften and he smiled softly. He seemed to calm down a bit when he heard such an odd remark. Eren seemed to get back to reality a little more. “I…. I do?” he managed to ask the other quietly. He was still struggling to breath but having this conversation with Levi was starting to calm him down bit by bit.

 

Levi smirked just a bit. Wow. Eren thinks your brand of humour doesn't actually suck! This could work… Keep going! Levi lost the smirk. Deadpan them. It makes them SO MUCH BETTER. “So, these two guys walk into a bar. ...You’d think one of them would've ducked.”

 

Eren watched the other’s face don its usual emotionless expression. He was confused for only a second before a bright smile bared itself to Levi. He felt a little better,  his chest didn’t hurt as much, and he could get a few deeper breaths in. He’s trying to make me feel better… Maybe he doesn’t hate me after all?

 

“Once, I heard this joke about amnesia, but I forgot how it goes…”

 

Eren looked at Levi and seemed to smile more. His chest was loosening up and his fingers were no longer locked into a tight grip against Levi’s clothes. He let out a weary chuckle, finding that he still had a sharp pain in his chest with deep breaths.

 

“Have you ever tried to eat a clock? It’s very time consuming.”

 

Eren chuckled a little more, not being able to really laugh at Levi’s idiocy like he wanted to. He ended up coughing again, horribly, as he tried to shake the pain from his chest. He coughed a little more, his eyes widening when his chest tightened right back up again. Two steps forward, six giant leaps back.

 

Oh my. Levi took one of his hands and brought it to rest on Eren’s upper arm, back to tracing feather-light patterns on the fabric, his other still carefully grasping his hands. Might want to tone down the jokes; the poor kid can’t laugh.

 

Eren watched as levi moved, he seemed a bit fearful as his grip moved farther up Eren’s sensitive arm. His eyes almost instantly displayed fear. He was scared, Levi was hurting him, even with his grip so gentle. He honestly couldn’t feel Levi’s touch on his bleeding hand, but his thin frame gave way to very sensitive skin, easy to bruise… easy to harm.

 

Shit, that fear again… wait. It’s his arms. Levi snatched his hand back from Eren’s sleeve, looking with intense worry at him, at his arms. “What did I do? I'm so sorry, was that hurting you? Let me see, please…” Levi brushed his fingers over the cuff of his sweatshirt, asking.

 

Eren watched Levi hesitantly. He wasn’t sure if he could trust the other completely. Well, I mean he’s seen me in a panic attack, slept with me, and broke into my house… guess he can’t really tell anyone about this. Eren slowly moved his bloodied hands from Levi’s to the hem of his sweatshirt, moving it up again, meeting Levi’s eyes with his own weary ones. He swallowed hard before he pulled the hoodie over his head. Eren’s chest was littered with so many scars, a majority fresh, considering most still had their stitches in. He looked over to his severely thin arms, a bruise already starting to form in the shape of Levi’s hand. He looked to him with fear still, fearing he would do something else, so he shifted away slowly and carefully, but not completely leaving Levi’s warmth.

 

For the moment, seeing what damage he had done to Eren, and and what was already done to him, Levi shut down. ...that handprint. Is mine. His eyes drifted over Eren's chest. Those scars. So many of them. His gaze lingered on Eren’s hands. His scratched, bleeding hands. ...Eren.

 

Vision slightly blurred, he took hold of one of Eren’s hands. He turned it over to see the palm, the angry red of the pads of his fingers. I let him… no. I made him hurt his hands. He turned it back, carefully closing his own two hands over it, rubbing the knuckles back and forth with his thumb. His voice cracked, sound barely escaping his throat. “...I’m so sorry.” He carefully laced their fingers together, still tracing over his knuckles, the veins of his hands, the lines across his fingers.

 

Eren watched as Levi gently drew patterns across his thin skin. He watched in slight fear, though the fear in his eyes was quickly subsiding. His chest hurt still, but he was calming down again. His eyes seemed to dilate as he relaxed a bit more. He shook his head. “W-why?” His voice was shaky since his chest still hurt so much. He tried to read the other’s eyes to find out what he was really feeling, but he couldn’t read those steely grey lenses as much as he could hope.

 

Levi’s eyes looked to be made of glass. He was choking on his words. “I… that’s… that’s my hand on your arm.” His head bowed, bangs concealing part of his face. “I only helped to make your cuts worse. I punched you and got you in the hospital. And I didn't stop you, from picking up all that sharp glass. I let you get hurt.” A single, silent tear rolled down his cheek. “I'm… I'm sorry for that.”

 

Eren looked at Levi with concerned eyes. He tried to talk again but it immediately turned into a large coughing fit, immediately replacing his concerned eyes with fearful ones. “I-it h-hurts” he gasped out, clinging to the other’s shirt. His chest hurt a lot, he was trying to calm himself down before he freaked out. Eren’s eyes looked to meet Levi’s with his own pleading beg that was apparent.

 

“Don't try to talk, it’s fine. I'll get you a pen and paper in a minute. Just keep trying to relax. I've got you.” Holding his hand with reverence, he reached out and took his other, which had been resting on the bed next to him. Skimming his thumbs over the thin skin, he brought Eren’s left hand up, ghosting his lips over each of his knuckles. Bringing it back down, he let another tear stream down his cheek.

 

Eren watched in shocked stillness. He was simply staring at the spectacle before him. He would never imagine that Levi would actually like him back, care enough about him to come to put him in a warm bed, sleep with him, and try to get him to calm down from his panic attack. He swallowed hard and nodded quietly. He hoped the other would get that sheet of paper soon. He had so many questions that needed to be answered. After a few minutes of being in this position, with Levi holding him gently, his breathing was back to normal, and the tightness gone in his chest… I don’t want to talk though, I’ll just start crying again. Find some fucking paper, short stack, and then come back to hold me….. WAIT, I want HIM to fucking hold me? What kind of fucking pansy have I become?

 

Levi was… morose was the word. Following the outline of Eren’s hand with his eyes one last time, he remembered his promise. He slowly swung his legs over the edge of the bed, and as he let Eren’s hands go with reluctance, he spoke quietly. “I'll get you some paper.” Hanging his head, he moved with deliberate steps over the things littering the floor of Eren’s room in his quest for paper. He stopped at the desk pushed against the wall, a notebook buried under a textbook and pens scattered about. He picked up a black pen and the book, turning to a clean sheet, and traipsed back to Eren, lowering himself back onto the bed and passing them both carefully into his hands.

 

Eren looked to the notebook wearily. He took a shaky breath before he grabbed both articles. He looked at the blank sheet of paper before he reached to start writing a few moments later. His handwriting was beautiful, perfect in every way, even with the slight quake that he had from his panic attack’s repercussions.

~ Why are you here?~

 

Levi looked at the paper, and was silent for a moment. He let out a sigh in defeat, and looked Eren in the eyes, his own filled with weariness and exasperation. “You were fine this morning, but after I got us detention- sorry about that, by the way,” he looked away and wrinkled his nose a bit, frowning, “you were so miserable, and when I tried asking you about it after school, you went off the handle. After you left, I… I finished setting up and ran after you, because I wanted to apologise and figure out what was eating at you.”

 

Eren’s eyes seemed too narrow a bit at the other’s explanation.

~ That doesn’t explain how the fuck you got in my house.~

Eren waited to see his reaction after he had written those harsh words. He was wondering how Levi had in fact gotten in when he knew that all the doors were locked, as he always tried to keep Grisha away, by at least a few seconds - if that.

 

Levi cringed at that. “When I got here, I... I realised I couldn't just expect you to open the door to me knocking. You would've pretended not to be home, you were so mad. I just…” He grimaced. “This is gonna sound really fucking creepy but the house was completely dark and I walked over to a window and I'm sorry I sound like a creeper but I heard you crying and I was really worried and I ran out back to see if I could spot you from there and I could see you up against the front door practically in a puddle of panic and anguish so I tried the back door and it was locked so I tried to see if you hid a key above the door and you did so I used that and you were in the middle of a panic attack and I didn't know what to do so I just picked you up and tried to calm you down and you started falling asleep and I brought you up here to your room and got you in bed and got rid of your shoes and when I pulled up the blanket you got ahold of my wrist and wouldn't let go and pulled me in with you and I don't know why I didn't just leave when I could have but you didn't let go so I just kinda ditched my shoes and you curled up to me and fell asleep and I just didn't want to leave you or make you wake up so I let you and then you woke up and started panicking and I…” Levi couldn't feel the tears running down his cheeks. “...I'm sorry. I was being creepy and weird and I broke into your house and you didn't even know I was here and I slept with you and I don't know why I didn't just leave and I hurt you and I let you hurt yourself and… I'm sorry, Eren.”

 

Eren watched as Levi started to cry silently. He timidly reached forward to Levi’s now damp cheeks. He gently cooed to him as he gently rubbed away the tears that trailed down his cheeks. He moved to curl up into the other’s lap, enjoying the warmth that Levi’s arms promised. He looked to the pad of paper and started writing again, though now situated on Levi’s lap.

~ It’s okay,  it’s not really your fault. I don’t really mind, just try and wake me up next time… okay?~  Eren looked up to the other with concerned eyes as he waited for a response. Please don’t cry anymore, you need to be strong for me, for when I cry. Eren knew it was selfish, but the thought stayed all the same.

 

...Does this mean there’ll be a next time? Levi was stunned at Eren’s reaction to this whole mess. I expected him to throw me out… or smack me. Well…both. “Uh… o-okay.” His hands hovered awkwardly, unsure of where to go.

 

Eren watched him, trying to read what the other was thinking. He looked down at Levi’s hands; he seemed tense. Why is he so tense? Just hug me already. There’s a limit, you’ll be smart enough to know what it is, short stack. Eren sighed before he carefully took his hands, gently taking Levi’s hands into his own, then wrapping them around his bare torso to keep him warm again. His skin had become cool to the touch. He still couldn’t regulate his temperature well. He reached for the pad and pen once Levi’s arms were secure against him. ~Stay the night? Please? You’re warm, and it gets really cold… even with blankets~ Eren looked up to Levi to see his reaction to his words, he had such an innocent look to his face.

 

...He’s serious. He’s serious... Holy fuck, he’s serious! Levi’s eyes shone, a smirk settling into place. He nuzzled his nose behind Eren’s ear. “...Of course I will.” His gaze fell for a moment, and he mumbled into Eren’s hair, “I don't want to hurt you any more though. I'll try to be careful of course, but…” He tried to hide his face. Fuck. You're going to mess this up. I guarantee it.

 

Eren looked a bit confused at Levi’s words. He wanted to question him, but he knew that that would not go over well with his panic attacks and such. Why does he think he’ll hurt me? He can’t be that worried. I’m not a twig that’ll snap in half. Eren huffed and he started to scrawl out his thoughts to Levi, ticked off the other had worded his sentence that way. ~ We are doing nothing, Levi, I just want to fucking cuddle up to you so I can actually sleep tonight, asshole, get your mind out of the fucking gutter!~ Eren huffed again, crossing his arms. He obviously though Levi’s mind had strayed from the purer path in life. He almost growled in his throat at the mention of being hurt during the course of the night, especially during the sex…. Which they were NOT going to have.

 

Levi couldn't believe what he read. Damn I must've said that weird. Uh… “Nonononono I didn't mean anything like that Eren, I swear I didn't. I just meant I bruised you earlier without even thinking about it,” his fingers ghosted over the bruise from his hands on Eren’s arm, “and I just don't want to be responsible for anything like that happening to you again.”

 

~You’re afraid about giving me bruises?~ The question was short, but Eren’s face was what brought the emotion out of it. It was a mixture of anger that the other was afraid that he was fucking twig, but also a sense of happiness that the other as worried about him.

 

“I know it must sound pretty mean… look, I know you're not made of tissue paper, but… yeah. The short of it is yes, but the longer of it is I just don't want you getting hurt, is all, because I couldn't even tell the first time with how tight I was holding you and… ugh. I really just don't want to hurt you.” Is that a vaguely concealed insult? That's a vaguely concealed insult. Dammit. See? I totally called it. ... Fuck.

 

Eren watched Levi with unamused eyes. He turned to scrawl out his next, and apparently longer, statement. It took him a few minutes to write it down, and he kept the message concealed from Levi. ~ First, I’m not a fucking twig, I’m not gonna fucking snap if you hug me… Second, YES, I FUCKING GET BRUISES! So what’s the big deal? Yes, it’s a bit uncomfortable, but I can fucking live with bruises, Levi. It’s not as bad as not being able to fucking breathe because your ribs aren’t even there anymore. So stop your bitching about hurting me, yes, SHUT THE FUCK UP, and I fucking mean it! Get fucking dressed too.~ Eren pushed the other back down on the bed, and slowly crawled off the bed, he got out of his clothes to get into some dark pajamas. His hands were still bleeding, but he didn’t seem to mind. He moved to get another pair of pajamas out for Levi and threw them at him, timing it so that they would’ve landed on Levi’s head while he read the last of the message. Eren moved to hide away all the artwork left around the room. Once it was all away he moved to go down stairs. He was fucking starving, and his stomach was growling constantly.

 

...damn. Eren’s right. I'll stop bitching about it. He smirked as he pulled the pajamas off of his head, holding them close to investigate their pattern. An intricate crest was sewn over the heart, a golden lion rearing up with a roar. Gold and red thread spun thick laced the cuffs of the sleeves and of the legs. Huh... Fitting. And they're pretty cool. He pulled on quickly, setting the paper aside for only a moment before taking it with him and following Eren down the stairs. What’s he up to now?

 

Eren was making a few noises in the kitchen as he was searching for some food, though the kitchen was practically barren. There was good reason for that too, but Eren wasn’t about to tell Levi he was broke and basically only ate at school, if he did eat there at all. He looked around the pantry, trying to find enough pasta of the same kind to make for the both of them. He tried to reach for one that was up higher, and soon got it firmly in his grasp before he moved to make their sad excuse of a dinner. Please do not question the absence of food in this house. Eren silently begged as he got a pot filled with water on the burner.

 

Levi scanned the bare pantry. ...Does he not eat? Like, ever? He is pretty skinny, but still. That's it? He watched as Eren filled a pot with water and put it carefully on the stove, a sadness in his viridian eyes. He studied the small box of pasta next to the pot. Damn. I mean, who doesn't have food in the house? He couldn't stand to see that faraway look. ...No, this isn't right. I need to fix this. He quietly padded over to Eren, carefully wrapping one arm around his waist from behind and leaning his chin on his shoulder, reaching over to turn off the burner with the other, passing by the unopened box. “Sorry, I appreciate you trying to make us something, but do you mind if I order us something? My treat.”

 

Eren looked at him then down at the pot, then back to Levi, then back to the pot, then back to Levi yet again before he nodded. As he struggled to lift the heavy pot off the stove and to put it back into the sink, he looked down at his reflection in the water and he swallowed hard. He had changed so much in the past two months. I don’t even look like myself anymore. Eren looked at Levi; He honestly didn’t know what was around to order from, and he didn’t have any money in the house at all, so he hoped Levi had enough money to feed the both of them. Well mostly Levi, I probably won’t be able to eat much anyways.

 

Levi smirked, letting out a small sigh. “Alright. I've got quite a few numbers stashed in my phone, and plenty of cash, so don't worry yourself.” He retreated a bit, giving Eren room to face him. “What'll it be- Pizza? Chinese? There’s plenty of places that deliver.” Come on, kid. We need to get some real food in you.

 

Eren looked at him and opened his mouth to speak before he closed it again. He held up his hand, motioning for the paper Levi had set on the counter. He reached for it, soon scrawling onto the white sheet. ~Anything light, I can’t really stomach much~ He showed it to the other, not really caring about the food; he wasn’t a picky eater, but his stomach couldn’t handle rich foods anymore, nor could it handle a lot of food.

 

Levi studied his script for a moment, brow furrowed in thought. That Italian place has salads, and lots of the good garlic bread rolls, and maybe if I just get a small plain cheese pizza he'll nibble at it… “Alright. I'll be right back.” Turning on his heel, he went to retrieve his phone, making the call for delivery quickly, before Eren could get suspicious and come get him. He’s going to freak when he sees what arrives… oh, what the hell.

 

It wasn't an hour before someone came knocking. Eren was stunned at the grocery bag’s worth of food, and the pizza box that accompanied it. Levi was prepared for the worst of his reaction. Leftovers. He’ll be fine for a little while.

 

Eren stared at all the food, not noticing the amount that Levi actually paid for this much food, not that it actually mattered. He went to go get his pad and pen, furiously writing on it to try and get a message across. ~ What the fuck is all this food? We’re not gonna be able to eat all that. I can barely finish a salad ~ The last part had been scratched out. No, Levi did not need to know about that. But Eren didn’t know that it was still pretty legible.

 

Levi, though he was worried at the last bit of his message, still had a shining light in his eye. He responded cheekily, “What- you have something against leftovers, Brat?”

 

Back at it again with the insults I see. Eren sighed and he scrawled out another message. ~ I’ll never be able to eat one fourth of that in a fucking week, short stack~ Eren smirked at the other knowing Levi hated being called out on his shorter height. He had found out from teasing comments in the hallways that ended up causing bloodied noses.

 

...Well then. We have a traitor to the cause. I buy you food and you insult my inability to vertically grow. What. Even. His deadpan glare was punctuated by a raised eyebrow when Eren looked at him with an odd expression, a mix of confusion, incredulity and joy. “What?” He watched utterly confused as Eren doubled over in silent laughter. “What?” Waitwaitwait. Did I say that shit out loud or something? Levi’s eyes widened in alarm. Shit I did WHAT THE HELL BRAIN!?

 

Eren couldn’t contain himself from his continued silent laughter. He barely got through a few words on his pad of paper, trying not to piss his pants from laughing so hard. He hadn’t laughed in awhile. Well, I can’t really call this laughter, can I? ...Eh, it was close though. Eren smiled in mischief as he gave the other the pad of paper. ~Are you a teenage girl? Because apparently you can’t even~ Eren couldn’t stop himself from actually laughing, the sound was joyous and pure as he made his way to the floor, trying to hold his bladder in.

 

Levi could only stand there, his face blooming scarlet behind his hands as he mentally berated himself and sputtered weakly in Eren’s direction. You're a fucking idiot yes I am thank you me you're welcome me-

 

Eren’s laughter soon died down, he had started coughing again. He curled up into his chest, to try and shield himself from the pain within, even while knowing full well that it would do nothing for his pain. He coughed a bit more, not yet freaking out, but the pain was making him whimper a bit.

 

Levi stopped himself for a split second. Remember how this works, Levi. He’s not a fucking twig. He’s in pain. But he’s gonna be okay. Just keep him from panicking. That’s what you need to do. Levi moved the two steps over to him, kneeling down in one swift movement and reaching out to brush at his bangs with one hand, the other out for Eren to grasp. He petted him gently, trying to guide his head onto his lap, his legs unfurling from under him.

 

Eren looked to the other’s open hand, he timidly reached out, squeezing it tightly from the pain he was experiencing, as well as reopening the scabs on his hands yet again. He curled up to the other, soon calming down enough that it didn’t hurt to breath anymore. When they got to that point, Eren sat up and wearily looked at the food before glancing back at Levi, then back at the food, as if to ask him what the hell he had actually gotten.

 

Levi seemed to understand his silent query, and perked up. Heaving himself off the floor and helping up Eren, he spoke. “Alright, dinner’s gonna be any mix of a Caesar salad, garlic rolls, and plain cheese pizza. I also may or may not have asked for a couple cookies.” He raised an eyebrow at Eren’s glare, raising his hands in surrender. “Oi, I got you food, didn't I? How about we enjoy it?” He smirked, a glint in his eyes.

 

Eren shrugged. Not much I can do about it other than accept it I guess . He nodded and went to get plates and silverware for them to use. He looked at all the food as Levi unpacked it all from the brown bag, and he seemed anxious to be near Levi while he would eat. Eat, yeah, I should say try to.

 

Levi caught his anxiety right away. Looking his way with concern, “You okay? It’s supposed to be a lot- that's kinda the point. I obviously don't expect us to do more than put a dent in it.” Come on, please just eat something. Then, it’d’ve been worth it.

 

Eren watched him carefully before he nodded and he reached for the salad to put a little bit on his plate. He knew he might not even be able to eat this much, depending on how thick the dressing was that he had never heard of. He made a very small plate before he turned to go and sit on the large couch. Eren picked slowly at his first piece of salad, though he quickly found out it was to his liking. That would pose a problem; He couldn’t eat too much, Nope, that would risk throwing it all up in an hour, no thank you.

 

Levi watched as Eren meandered dejectedly to the couch. Man, he wasn't kidding. He looked to his own plate, filled with pizza and a garlic roll. Well this is awkward. Um… Fuck it. Levi walked deliberately to the couch and sat carefully next to Eren. Balancing his silverware on the far side of his plate, he picked up his pizza and took a bite, watching Eren struggle with the salad. He put his slice down as he chewed, studying his plight. He picked up his roll, tearing off a quarter-sized piece, and timidly putting it at the edge of Eren’s plate. And then, he waited.

 

Eren looked to the small piece of roll and almost immediately shook his head. I can’t eat that Levi, I won’t be able to stomach the rest of this goodness if I do. He looked around for his pad and pen and soon found it with his eyes, back in the kitchen. He sighed, not wanting to get up and venture from his comfortable spot on the couch. He picked up the small piece of garlic bread and placed it back onto the other’s plate without another glance towards him.

 

Levi half-shrugged at Eren when he replaced the bread piece. It was worth a shot. Maybe later in the week. He nudged his foot with his own, letting him know everything was fine, before returning to his pizza.

 

Eren simply hummed softly in response. He managed to finish off the rest of his plate without feeling the need to throw up. He was able to hold it down, which was good. Eren got up to put his plate away before he came back to the couch to curl up to Levi, his head in the other’s lap yet again, feeling comfortable as all hell. I could get used to this. He yawned as he felt his eyelids become heavy. He was starting to fall asleep.

 

Levi lifted his unfinished plate above him as Eren forced it to vacate his lap. Well then. This is now a thing. Smirking, he reached far, trying not to uproot Eren, placing his plate carefully on the coffee table. He leaned back, his right hand dancing over to twine with Eren’s, his left hand playing with his hair. “Tired?”

 

Eren let out a soft hum of acknowledgement before he nodded slowly against Levi’s muscled thighs. He was tired from all the crying and panicking he had done today. His stomach was full, and it was nearing 11 pm, which meant that Eren would be knocked out for a good while before

the nightmares would force him to stay awake for the rest of the night, but of course, Levi doesn’t know… fuck it, maybe I'll be able to sleep while I’m cuddled up with him. Eren’s eyes closed completely as he finally passed out, his head resting on Levi’s lap still.

 

Levi let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. He felt the tension drain out of Eren as he slipped into sleep, soft hair tangled around his fingers, hand braided into his own. He studied his peaceful face. ...He’s fucking gorgeous. How the hell did someone with your looks even spare a second glance at me… Feet outstretched, head comfortable against the couch, Levi drifted off. And for once,

 

Nightmares did not plague Eren’s sleep.

Chapter Text

Eren’s eyes cracked open at the brightness flooding into the room. He groaned and moved his head, against something warm. Why aren’t my window shades drawn? And my head is warm, but my body is fucking freezing! Eren blinked a few more times to dispel his drowsiness, looking around and taking in the familiar sight of his living room. The memories of what had actually happened last night poured into his mind. He looked up to see Levi still sleeping, sitting up on the couch. Fuck, do the gods fucking hate me? He’s gorgeous… even without my fucking glasses I can tell! Eren scanned the room for them. Okay, where the fuck did I leave them? Eren slowly got up from his spot on the couch, quickly moving to hug his arms around his chest. FUCK! It’s freezing! What the actual hell? He stumbled a bit but soon found his glasses had at some point last night found their way onto the coffee table. Weird, don’t remember doing that last night. The boy shrugged before going to get changed into warmer clothes, cleaning his hands and hoping that they wouldn’t perpetually bleed like they did yesterday. And apparently last night too. Joy. Eren looked down to his grey pajamas, now caked with dried blood in various spots from his hands. The spots were large, and no longer held the shape of his hand. They had bled a lot. How am I not fucking dead from blood loss by now?

 

Eren shrugged the thought off as he quietly made his way up to his dark bedroom, his shades drawn to ward off the sun. He fumbled along the wall for the light switch, finding it after a short struggle and flicking it on. He’d only been actually living in the house for a few days, if even a week. He wasn’t completely used to it yet thanks to being in the hospital for so long. He looked to his wardrobe and the selection of clothes it held, which was sparse at best. He picked out a pair of dark jeans which hugged his ass nicely, making it a sight to behold - Well, women’s jeans do that to any ass, but he wasn’t complaining. Hmm, maybe Levi will like it. That was all it really took, that thought alone, before he was slipping the jeans on. He savored the perfect fit; They were his favorite jeans for a reason. Eren scrounged around the room for a shirt, finding a dark long-sleeve shirt, and pulled it over his head. No way would people be able to see if his wrists were bleeding. The scabs hadn’t opened in a while, but he was still wary of the fading slits lining both his wrists. I’m honestly surprised that Levi didn’t see them yesterday, or even comment on them. Maybe he was just too damn focused on that fucking bruise. He shivered in his own room as he changed his shirt. Today is a hoodie day, and no bitch shall fucking deny me the safety of my hoodie! Eren looked around for a dark hoodie as well, finally finding the dark navy, almost black, garment and slipping it over his head. His hair ruffled as his head popped through the top. Running a shaky hand through his mane in his only attempt to tame his unruly locks for the day, he grabbed a pair of socks from his drawer, and put them on quickly.

 

He walked around in his new outfit, looking for his phone. Alright, I’ve looked for it in five rooms. Where. The. Fuck. Is. IT! He was losing his patience. He finally found it in the kitchen. How the fuck did it get in here? And it’s on the fucking charger? Eren only had to look at the phone next to his, also charging, to figure out just who had put it there. Levi. Of course. That was actually pretty thoughtful.

 

Eren looked around only to find that all the food was gone, no longer on the counter where it had all been last night. He furrowed his brow in confusion, finally looking to the fridge to find an answer. He found that Levi had actually put all the food away into containers, which of course would be easy to take for lunch. It was strange, seeing actual food in his fridge. Well, now Levi knows that I don’t have any food in this house. Wonder how he’s gonna fucking take it out on me when he wakes up... At that thought, nervousness swept over Eren. Is he gonna beat me like Grisha does? Is he simply gonna stare and walk away from me? Mock me for not eating in front of the whole school? God, is he just gonna insult me and then never come back? All these thoughts made Eren’s stomach churn in unease. He stood there, gripping the countertop and trying not to freak out as more and more thoughts raced around his head-

 

Levi’s warm form gently pressed against him from behind, one arm coiling around his waist, the other giving him leverage against the counter, his chin resting on Eren’s shoulder. “G’ morning, Brat. Sleep well?”

 

Eren practically jumped out of his shoes- well, he would, if he was wearing some. “Are you some sort of ninja?” He asked with wide eyes as he turned his head slightly to see Levi. How the fuck can he be this gorgeous at 6:30 in the morning? Geez… I need to step up my game. Eren felt his face heat up almost instantly as he saw Levi’s face so close to his so early in the morning. He tried to say something else but he stumbled over his words too much to get even one sentence out. His stuttering had found a great time to come back up again. Fucking perfect. Eren hung his head in slight defeat, his eyes resting on the strong arm around his waist. God how much I would give to have him hold me all night…. Oh my god, did I really just think that? Stop, it’s not like he’s gonna stay with me… He’s just worried about his Chemistry homework, yeah. That’s probably it. Eren watched the arm quietly grow tighter around his vastly thin frame.

 

Levi watched Eren’s expression change from scared to flustered to defeated. He slowly rubbed his stomach with his thumb, trying to reassure him. He’s so freaking adorable, and he doesn't seem to understand that. Levi, fix that. His voice was softened with a hit of concern. “...You doin’ okay, handsome?” He watched in amusement as Eren flushed red again. ...Good job, Levi. Thank you, Levi. You're welcome, Levi.

 

Eren let his head down, his whole face flushed, right up to the tips of his ears. Honestly he didn’t know he could blush this much so early. He shuffled his feet, looking over to Levi for a split second before down at his feet again. “W-What…” Fuck me and my fucking stutter! “W-what do y-you want for breakfast?” He asked quietly and looked down. He knew how to make a lot, only he didn’t have the ingredients for half of his ideas. Damn, I really need to find a job…. One where people hopefully won’t come into physical contact with me…. Great… Nothing I can think of. Perfect. Eren sighed and shook his head to clear himself of those thoughts before he gently pulled away from Levi’s strong embrace, knowing full well those arms were not meant for him.

 

Levi quirked an eyebrow at him as he pulled away, inwardly protesting the loss of contact. “We could always go out and get actual breakfast food if you're not a pizza-for-breakfast kind of guy.” The mischievous spark was back in Levi’s eye. Kid, just say yes so I can go spoil you rotten please.

 

Eren looked to Levi like he was some sort of alien. “Go out t-to breakfast… B-before s-school?” He stuttered and seemed completely bewildered at the thought of actually going out before school; that had never happened before in his life, not even with his mom around. He felt his chest start to tighten at that one singular thought… His mother. Levi still didn’t know, and he was surprised that Levi hadn’t pried for details yet. He thought about it, “I-I-I… It s-sounds o-okay.” He murmured and looked down at his feet again, unable to keep eye contact with Levi out of embarrassment. Fuck my stupid stutter, go to fucking hell already!.”

 

YES HE SAID YES HE SAID YES! “Alright, then it’s settled. I'll go get changed and grab my stuff, and then we can go, cool?” Starting backwards, he turned and walked over to and up the stairs, grabbing his clothes from the floor and switching out of the pajamas, placing them neatly on Eren’s bed. Picking up his backpack from the foot of the bed, he stopped to think out of habit. ...We didn't have any homework, did we? Survey says… No. Thank GOD. Levi hoisted the bag over his shoulder as usual and let his shoes clomp on the stairs on the way down, walking over to retrieve his phone from the charger. “So, do you care at all where we acquire food? Or not really?” He opened the refrigerator, picking a plastic container with salad and itty bits of garlic bread in it, handing it to Eren. “Lunch.”

 

Eren looked to Levi, looked at the food in his hands, seeing him in the clothes he had worn yesterday and shook his head. “I h-haven’t eaten breakfast i-in…. A l-long time” he stutter out, pausing to pack the food away before he told Levi something else. Something he probably doesn’t want to know, I almost told him how long it has been since I ate breakfast… I almost fucking told him. I need to be more careful around him, or I’ll say something I don’t want him to know.

 

...well fuck. Switch tactics! “There’s a diner not too far from the school that makes the best waffles. Want to try there?” This shit is getting very concerning. I didn't think this all could get more concerning, but it did. He’s talking as if he wouldn't know what waffles are.

 

“W-Waffles?” Eren asked, tilting his head to the side. “W-what are t-those?” He asked quietly and his eyes seemed to be filled with curiosity. He didn’t know what waffles were- he had never had them before, not at all. Would he be able to eat any? I’m not really that hungry, I’m down to one meal a day really… If I can even handle that on any given day. So what in Satan’s glorious hell are waffles? Levi’s talking about them like they’re the best thing in the world.

 

...HOLY FUCK . Levi was silent for a moment, eyes widening minutely and considering this question for a moment. He watched as Eren shifted uncomfortably under his gaze, but paid it no mind. After a second, he simply said in perfect monotone: “You have not lived.” Snatching his phone and Eren’s bag, he ushered him out of the house and closed the door, locking it quickly with the key he snitched, all the while ranting “ How have you never had waffles? They're waffles. They're the most perfect breakfast food to ever exist and you can put whatever you want on top of them and they're sweet and made of fluffy goodness and my God, man- how have you never even heard of them?”

 

Eren felt his stomach churn a bit… Sweets, he’d never done well with anything that was sweet before, not for the past 5 years, it had always seen daylight again almost an hour later. Eren swallowed hard and backed away from Levi a few steps. “I-I…” Eren trailed off not knowing how to answer, trying to give himself some space. His movement gave away the fact he was getting a bit scared from Levi’s passionate outburst. His father had always been one to beat after asking questions like that, and it was now ingrained in his body to get away, and to get away quickly.

 

Levi stopped ranting when he noticed Eren had backed away from him, a solid five feet down the walk, eyes fearful. ...Shit. Think. What the could the problem possibly be? “Hey, I'm sorry if I scared you. Is everything okay? Would you rather we do something else instead? Just get right to school? It's really up to you.” Why is this going downhill so quickly? Dammit.

 

Eren watched with wide and frightened eyes. He nodded at Levi’s last statement. School. That sounded better than the onslaught of sweetness that was apparently waffles. He felt his stomach tighten at the thought of them again. He wanted to get to school. He wanted to be able to actually pay attention in class, and today he had music with Mr. Dieter, so it wouldn’t be so bad, right? Eren still didn’t trust his voice enough to talk at the moment and hoped that Levi got the message to go to school.

 

Levi shrugged, nodding. “School it is. Let's go, then.” I fucking scared the kid… It was either the rant, or the concept of food. He started down the walk slowly, giving Eren a respectable amount of space. “I think I have some random snacks in my backpack if you get hungry at all, by the way.” He tried to make his voice as calm as possible. He refused garlic knots last night very… emphatically, for lack of a better word, and in general has been through some shouty, rough shit, so... probably both, actually. Try not to fuck this up even more. Take this time to think of more shitty puns. He seems to enjoy those.

 

Eren hurriedly shook his head. He didn't want to be hit. He almost instantly reached into his sleeves and started to scratch at the scabs on his wrist, and when he felt the warm liquid etch across his fingers he gave a small sighed of relief. It felt better, to be able to get over this with the small rush his open wounds brought. I can’t believe I am a fucking Masochist… But I can’t stop… It feels so much better to open them. Eren proceeded to scratch at his wrists until both of them were open and bleeding and he felt slightly better, hoping that Levi hadn’t gone through his backpack the night before and found his razors. He swallowed hard remembering the last time he had cut his wrists. He started to get a bit antsy as they walked along the side of the road, nearing the next house over.  We walked a whole fucking mile already? And it’s been completely fucking silent… He must be ready to blow a fuse, I haven’t heard anything if he was trying to talk to me…

 

...maybe I've tried too many shitty puns. Levi nervously studied his shoes, Eren’s odd gait, his fidgeting hands. Or maybe they were overly shitty. But not the good kind of shitty, not the kind that's like ‘oh my god that's so awful it’s great’ but the kind that’s like ‘why are you even trying, shut up.’  We've made it to the neighbor’s house and he hasn't said anything. He hasn't even grinned. ...He’s probably off in LaLa Land or something, nearly stumbling off the road- probably his back, can’t be doing too well- fiddling with his sleeves... Why is he doing that, by the way? There's no loose thread… at least, I can't see one…

 

Eren didn’t see the two people exiting the nearby house.

 

“That’s the guy who knocked me over!” The small, almost girlish voice came from one of the two figures but Eren was too preoccupied with his wrists to look up to see the hulking figure rush past him and towards Levi. That’s when he looked up, to see none other than Erwin beat down on Levi, or at least begin to, in a blind rage.

 

A sickening crack split the air as a fist connected with Levi’s nose. He couldn't see who punched him right away, but knew they were in for it. Fuck. That was your FACE. If something busted Stumbling back a few inches, he had no chance to retaliate before he was kicked in the gut, doubling over in pain before kicking into overdrive and full on tackling his attacker, not registering who he was before swinging his fist and nailing their jaw, bringing them both down.

 

Erwin looked down at the small body he was beating up only seconds ago. “Levi?” His smooth and rich voice spiked in question. He looked over to Armin. “Levi was the one who knocked you down?” He asked, rubbing his jaw with his left hand, getting his feet under him and picking up Levi without a second though with his right, raising the smaller teen at least a foot off the ground, turning the struggling mess towards Armin to allow him to confirm.

 

Armin confirmed with a small sound of assent, which came from right behind Eren. That of course scared the shit out of him and he jumped out of complete fear and landed wrong, falling to the floor without grace. His chest heaving and his pupils dilated in complete fear. When the FUCK did he get there?… Shit shit shit… I’m going to have another attack… Shitshitshitshit . Eren felt his chest tighten and he instantly grabbed for his hoodie, his breathing hitched and he tried not to choke on his lack of air. The signs were all there for Levi to see as he dangled in Erwin’s hand.

 

Levi watched as Eren collapsed on the ground, spinning into a panic attack. He’s having an attack. You need to get over there now and calm him down but not before you get this son of a bitch to put you back on the fucking ground. And trying to break his face isn't going to help you do any of that. Your words, Levi. Use them. “Erwin.” So deathly calm, so stoic, it took Erwin, and Levi himself, by surprise. “I don't know why you decided to punch my nose, which I suspect is currently broken, but right now, that doesn't matter.” Levi let his murderous intent flash past his eyes, staring Erwin down. “Put me down, right the fuck now, and let me go help Eren, and your family might not find you dead in the gutter.” His eyes, dark with rage, spoke volumes: ...Even I'm terrified of Levi. And I'm him! Listen to the guy!

 

Erwin watched the terrifying display without even flinching. He slowly lowered Levi to the ground, watching him, calculating Levi’s actions as he set him down. He looked over as Eren started to physically freak out. He was still on the ground, which had the hulking giant a bit concerned. He simply watched as Armin slowly stepped towards Eren in a submissive and calming manner, trying to get the kid to calm down a bit. Erwin also noticed that this boy was Levi’s lab partner. Why the fuck is Levi with his lab partner? Eh, I can ask him at practice later. He lowered Levi to the ground completely, letting go of his shirt as he did so.

 

Levi turned his full attention to Eren, switching from murderous to very worried in an instant, regarding the blonde trying to comfort Eren with immediate distrust. What the fuck does this mushroom think he’s trying to accomplish? Back. The fuck. Up. Levi tried to keep himself composed for Eren, trying to walk over with an even gait, kneeling down on the ground next to him and automatically wrapping his arms around him, gently rubbing his arm with his thumb. “Hey Eren, I'm sorry about that, we're all good now, you don't need to worry..” His voice was quiet. Please please please calm down I don't want you to panic it's alright I swear he’s got a shit ton of explaining to do but right now just be okay, okay?

 

Eren’s chest heaved as he watched Levi get put down and come close to him,  brought to the warmth of Levi’s chest. He watched with wide and almost fearful eyes as he saw the innocent looking blonde come closer and kneel on the other side of him, though about two feet away which gave him space. Eren started to calm down as Levi held him, his breathing beginning to even out. It took a few minutes but soon he had calmed down completely and looked between the two of them kneeling beside him. He watched as the blonde spoke up first.

 

“You okay, Eren?” he asked quietly to the other and he seemed pretty innocent in Eren’s opinion. Wait… how does he know my name? Eren looked at him in complete confusion and leaned away from him a bit, and closer to Levi- if that was even physically possible- though Armin seemed to notice his confusion, his next words soft and caring. “Am I saying it right, Eren? I’m in all your classes, but I’ve only seen you physically in them for two days.” he explained, a small smile lighting his features. Eren seemed to visibly relax once he knew this small teen was in all of his classes. He nodded to answer the blonde’s first question.

 

“Wait, Armin, you’re telling me that you’re in all of the-kid-Levi-beat-up’s classes and you’re only telling me this now?” Erwin spoke up next. He still referred to Eren as the kid that Levi beat up, and it was certainly a shock to see him so protective of the Brat now, especially after what happened.

 

“He’s got a fucking name, Captain Eyebrows, and it’s Eren!” Levi had again taken less than a second to assume the position of a murderer. If looks could kill… You do not talk about him like that. He turned back to Eren, still tracing circles on his arm. “You doin’ okay? Can you stand up, or not yet?”

 

Eren looked between Levi and the ground and he nodded, using Levi for support to get to his own feet. He was wobbly at first, but soon found proper footing. He looked over to the blonde with curious eyes, and that seemed to get the mastermind’s attention.

 

“I'm Armin. I can understand you don't recognise me; I'm either on the opposite side of the room or behind you in all your classes. And I'm sorry for this whole mess…” He glanced at Erwin, at Levi’s crooked and bleeding nose, and at Eren’s shaky form. “...that got very out of hand very fast.” He sent a quick, sharp look to Erwin.

 

Erwin rose his hands in defeat and looked away. “I’ll make it up to Levi at practice, we’re practicing hitting today anyways.” Erwin’s words practically meant he would let the smaller man tackle him for all he was worth as long as he fucking wanted to at practice.

Eren watched the two new members bicker as he moved to inspect Levi’s nose. He could tell it was broken from the awkward angle it was at. “I-I-I c-can set i-it for y-you…. B-but i-it’ll bleed i-if I d-do.” Eren’s stutter was far worse than normal and his face flushed from embarrassment as he gingerly touched the broken nose.

 

Levi snapped his eyes back to Eren, to the hand hovering near his busted nose. “Uh, that's probably best… But don't we need bandages or tissues or anything like that?” This is gonna hurt like a bitch, isn't it. Ah well... At least the nurse is cute.

 

Eren looked over to Armin who was already walking towards his house. He looked to the blonde curiously as he left, wondering if they should follow him to go inside. He watched as Captain Eyebrows followed him, so he assumed it was safe to follow the small blonde shroom. He clutched Levi’s wrist, fearful of being alone with the two ‘new’ people he had been introduced to just minutes ago. They soon made it inside and Armin put them in front of the large kitchen sink, before disappearing to find bandages. His large teal eyes turned to Levi’s steely grey ones. “A-are y-you r-ready?” He stuttered out his question, getting ready to set Levi’s nose. He hoped it would be easier since he had done it in a mirror countless times on himself. It seemed easier to do it on someone else in front of him. This is gonna hurt, I hope you’re fucking ready for it. Eren moved quickly, finishing in seconds and leaning back to appreciate his perfect set before the blood started to rain down like his nose was a fucking hurricane.

 

FUCK, THAT HURTS! Levi was braced for it, but the swift motions of settling the bone in place could not be over quickly enough. He resisted the urge to swat Eren’s hands away, to grab at his face, instead gripping the edge of the sink tightly, his knuckles going white. He felt warmth trickling down his face, and saw streams of crimson splatter in the sink below him. Surprisingly, he made little noise throughout the ordeal.

 

Eren watched and held Levi’s nose in place with gentle fingers. He took the bandages that Armin offered upon his return from wherever the hell he went in this house. Eren then wrapped LEvi’s nose expertly, and it wasn’t bulky, he pressed a wad of paper towels to Levi’s nose once the bleeding was starting to lessen, the pain shouldn’t feel that bad now, once the pressure of his fingers was gone. “B-better?” he asked quietly, watching him with wide, worried eyes.

 

Levi tried to even his breathing as the pain died down a bit, studying Eren’s expression. “Y-yeah, I'm doing as well as anyone could be in this situation.” That spark danced in his eye again. “Thanks, Brat.”

 

Eren watched the smirk form on Levi’s face. He wasn’t sure whether to regard the term ‘Brat’ as an insult or a pet name. It’s most likely an insult… fuck it all, he’s clearly enjoying insulting me. Eren’s eyes quickly looked away towards Armin. “We should p-probably h-head to s-school.” Eren stuttered yet again.

 

... there’s a pet name that could be easily mistaken for an insult if I ever heard one.   “There’s still a lot of time until class starts. Would you mind if we talked for a moment?” Armin took a small step forward, resting his hand on Eren’s forearm. He gently pulled him away from the kitchen to the front room with little resistance, leaving Levi in the company of Erwin.

 

“So.” Levi’s expression was impassive, though… This is going to be a fun conversation. “What’s up with you and the shroom?”

 

Erwin watched Levi carefully for a few moments before he sat down on a stool which was found under one of the island counter spaces. He sat down before returning his gaze to Levi. “Armin’s my lab partner for chemistry,” his voice was cool and collected, “so sometimes I come over to do homework with him.” The burly blonde wasn’t lying but he wasn’t telling the complete truth either. So before Levi could question him he turned the topic around. “What’s up with you and the Nerd?” He asked and raised a questioning- manscaped- eyebrow.

 

Levi kept his expression neutral. “We're the same case, actually.” That… is pretty coincidental. Huh. But there wasn't even homework last night. But you can't mention that or you both lose your excuses… And he busted my nose because I knocked over his lab partner- which I don't even remember doing? ...Wait, he was that blonde on the sidewalk. Shit.

 

“Just a lab partner, huh? Did you come over to his house to harass him for your homework? Then become a ‘savior figure’ for him just so that he’ll continue to do it?” He asked quizzically, though his thoughts weren’t unlike what Levi’s reputation would lead anyone to believe. “He had hope in his eyes when he helped you, then you went off and opened your mouth.” Erwin was apparently way more observant that he let on. He had noticed the complete emotional exchange between the two of them since they arrived at the front of the house.

 

“You and I both know I wouldn't do something like that.” ...but he’s noticed something else. Damn his perceptive ability. But what could I have said that… Oh. Eren thinks I'm still insulting him when I say Brat. Mental note: fix that.

 

Erwin only watched Levi. “I wouldn’t put it past you, I mean, you did put the kid in the hospital.” Erwin knew he didn’t know the full story on that. Rumors floated around putting that situation way out of proportion. He wondered if taunting Levi about the incident would get him to spill some information. Erwin knew Levi was no killer, but the small raven still had a pretty bad temper and attitude to boot.

 

Levi’s eyes narrowed. Don't fucking remind me about it. “ You don't know shit about what happened.” He practically snarled at him. Don't go too fucking far with this.

 

“Care to explain it?” He asked calmly and collectedly. He could see the apparent anger flash in Levi’s eyes; he was good at reading him, and had been since they came to school. “I mean if I don’t know, I can only assume you put him in the hospital, breaking all his tiny ribs with one punch.” Erwin countered Levi’s obvious displeasure with an unapologetic snark.

 

That fucking does it. “I may have only punched him once, but I wasn't the one who hurt him as much as he already was in the first place! His ribs were already broken, his back already shredded, he’d already lost a lot of blood, and all it took was one punch to open a lot of wounds and make him lose consciousness and end up in the hospital. And it's not like I wanted that to happen. But you know what? It did, and I feel awful about it, and nobody will shut up about it. So you don't have to remind me how much I fucked up, thank you.” Don't ask for more details. It felt really good to get all that out but if I really start saying too much I'm gonna be in deep shit with the Brat so just accept what you just got.

 

Erwin let Levi rant without much of a thought. He watched the outburst, picking up on Levi’s words. “So he was already abused? By his own family? Or did he get into a bigger mess?” He didn’t ask about the wounds themselves- he asked about how the Nerd had acquired said injuries-  but he decided to push it further and ask anyways. “How did his back get shredded and his ribs broken? All of them?” He inquired, his eyes glinting with curiosity for a second.

 

Hoping for him to not ask for more detail was too much. Instead of dropping, bait, pretend there is no bait- play dumb. “You expect me to know the answer to that? Like he'd ever tell the guy who sent him to the hospital all his woes.” Sarcasm dripped from his words.

 

Erwin simply raise an eyebrow. “You expect me to believe that? You just hugged the freshman like he was your boy-toy to get him to calm down. You don’t like to touch people, and you fucking hugged the damn kid.” he stated calmly, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “So do you care to explain the details, or shall I ask the kid himself, and maybe those questions will be enough to push him over, hmm?” He posed the question for the seething teen to answer.

 

Fuck this. “Erwin. It's not my place to say anything, and trying to get Eren to tell you would be a huge mistake. Do yourself a favor and drop it.” His eyes said plainly what he thought: I will murder you if you try anything. I don't care if we're friends. I will end you.

 

Erwin simply raised his hands in defeat. “Alright, well... Armin will probably know everything about the kid after today. We should get going, it doesn’t look like he can walk straight yet.

 

Damn, he’s very observant to notice Eren’s unnatural gait. “If Eren decides to spill what happened, that’s up to him. And yeah, we don't want to be late for chemistry. Wasn't it supposed to be a lab day?” I have a feeling today is gonna fucking suck.

 

Erwin simply nodded before calling for Armin. The two teens approached and Eren had a bright smile on his face, as did Armin. They had hit it off pretty well, and really quickly, by the way that Eren was no longer afraid of Armin, allowing the blonde to pull him through the house by locked hands. Which was good; Eren had not the slightest clue where anything was in the house.

 

“...notes stockpiled from pretty much every class, and there’s a couple websites with good instructions on how to do stuff for math. Nothing too hard has really been taught yet, so you'll be fine.” Armin’s rant on getting Eren up to speed in class slowed, and the four of them stepped out the door to the front walk, Armin locking the door behind them. He should be fine with schoolwork, at least. He looks worn out, though… I guess that's what Levi’s for. He’s alright.

 

Levi went to walk besides Eren as they made their way to school, Armin and Erwin’s conversation ahead of them quiet to him; he wasn't paying attention. He studied Eren as Eren watched the animated way Armin spoke. ...Just say it in a way where you can still be cool and just get it over with. “Oi, Eren.” When his eyes met his own softer ones, he spoke quietly, one brow quirked up, smirking, “You know me calling you Brat isn't an insult, right?”

 

Eren looked at the other either confusion. “Eh?” The small sound of questioning left though beautiful pink lips.

 

Fuck. Now you need to explain more. Check for witnesses. Armin… is actually distracting Erwin beautifully. This could work. Be casual. He shrugged, an odd look in his eye. “I guess you could call it a nickname.” ...that didn't suck… I'll take it.

 

Eren at first didn’t say anything. He looked down at his feet as they continued walking. “...a nickname, you say?” his voice held close to no emotion, and he didn’t look at Levi as he spoke. He just looked at the ground they were walking on. He was trying to decided whether he was okay with having Brat be his nickname, at least it's a nickname and not an insult… That’s a good thing… Right? Eren’s mind was swirling with various thoughts and it seemed to put him back into Lala land. He was confused on what to think, was it good? Or should he be angry with Levi?

 

“...Eren? You alright?” Fuck. He doesn't like it . But it’s fitting! But if he doesn't like it I'm going to feel bad every time I say it. What the hell has gotten into you?! I don't know!

 

Eren took a few seconds to acknowledge the other before nodding. “Y-yeah, i’m fine…. I-I guess that it’s okay” he murmured and he continued to watch his feet. His awkward gait was becoming more pronounced as they walked further. His back was starting to really hurt him, but he made no sound or movement of complaint. It fucking hurts, the pills don’t fucking help…. God fucking dammit! I don’t think I can fucking make it, I have to slow down to keep from hurting my back and ripping my wounds open. Eren slowed down and began walking slower than he was for the past couple minutes, his gait became even more awkward and it seemed very uncomfortable.

 

Wait. He doesn't just have an odd way of walking. That'd be his equivalent of limping. That explains a lot. Levi slowed to match Eren’s pace. “You're practically limping, Eren. Are you going to be alright making our way to school?”

 

Eren froze for a split second. How the fuck can he tell? ...Well, I mean, it’s pretty obvious. “Y-y-yeah, I-I’ll be a-a-alright.” he stuttered out. He tried not to meet Levi's eyes because he knew that the Raven would be able to see the pain in his teal eyes. I should be alright for now, but the hallways are gonna be torture. Fuck my sorry existence.

 

...the kid both looks and sounds like he’s going through hell. And I can't really do a damn thing. I don't think I have aspirin in my bag or anything… Oh who am I kidding? The kid needs morphine or something with all the shit he’s been through. Just, uh… Levi brought his hand up to rest on his shoulder, moving his thumb, trying to be reassuring. ...that’s all you can really do.

 

Eren tensed up and stopped for a second before he realized that it was Levi’s large hand on his shoulder. He looked over and calmed down a bit.

 

Armin noticed the hush behind him, looking back to see Levi and Eren moving slower than them, the former trying to comfort the latter. He caught a glimpse of Eren’s eyes. Oh. He doesn't have odd footing; he’s in pain. Don't I have something for that in my bag? He motioned for Erwin to fall back with him, speaking gently. “Hey Eren, you don't look like you're doing too well. Do you want some aspirin? I have plenty on me.” Just say yes, because we both know you need it.

 

Eren looked up to Armin, the pain evident in his eyes. “That would be great, Armin, thank you.” he murmured. He finally allowed for the three others to see his horrible limp. Why the fuck did I let them see it? It feels so much better to limp like this, actually fully limping, but it looks horrible. I hope Levi won’t hit me for it, I know my father fucking would. Eren limped to Armin to get the pills from his blonde savior.

 

Armin dug in his bag quickly to retrieve a small white bottle. Armin, two things. How did you not notice earlier, and thank god you carry this with you. Armin turned the bottle to read the back, muttering the text he skimmed over. “Okay, take two pills every six hours, six every twenty four… eh, fuck it.” He unscrewed the cap and took Eren’s hand carefully, shaking three pills into his palm. He returned to rifling through his bag after the cap was back on. “I may or may not have water in here, too… Aha!” He drew a mini water bottle from the depths of his bag, handing it as well to Eren. “There you go. You should feel better soon with that.”

 

Eren let out a beaming smile, and he didn’t hold back once it was out. He was very grateful for Armin’s bag of mystery which apparently held everything you could possibly need. He took the three pills and swallowed them down, and sipped at the water. “Thanks, Armin.” He must’ve been really relaxed to be able to not stutter around Armin. The blonde had gotten closer to Eren in fifteen minutes than Levi had gotten in more than four weeks.

 

...okay. I appreciate everything you're doing for Eren. I really do. But if you could kindly step off just a bit because he’s mine that would be great. Levi let his arm drift over to drape completely over Eren’s shoulders, though he was still careful not to hurt him. Levi caught Armin’s eye. You're perceptive. It’s been fifteen minutes and it’s painfully obvious he likes you, and that you can read people. So thanks, but remember… MINE.

 

Armin seemed to understand a lot more as soon as he saw Levi’s possessive gaze. He had so many things to blackmail both of them with to get his way. He smirked slightly then scampered off with Erwin ahead of them. He smirked devilishly once his face was away from them.

 

Eren seemed to have visibly relaxed once they made it to their chemistry class. They were in the lab today, so Eren sat next to Levi and Armin and Erwin sat across from them. My back still fucking hurts. Eren let out a strangled whimper when he sat down on the hard chair. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth to try to prevent himself from crying out in pain as he sat down. He looked around the room as he got a bit more comfortable. Where the fuck is Hanji? Shouldn’t she be here by now? She’s never late on a lab day.

 

The classroom was filled with the chatter of all the other students. Hanji's desk up front was empty, totally cleared of every note and paper that usually cluttered its surface, even her shining gold nameplate.

They had been sitting for not a minute before a man walked in as the bell rang, signalling the beginning of class. He strode to the front desk of the classroom, a black messenger bag with a star insignia slung over his shoulder and a black pen twirling expertly in hand. The conversations of the class died down as he entered, dumping his bag unceremoniously in front of the desk and turning to face the students, leaning back against the desk casually and looking over the class, legs crossed at the ankles in front of him. His eyes stumbled over to Armin and, pointing to him dramatically with his pen, spoke. "You. Person."

Armin quirked an eyebrow as he was addressed, a grin cracking across his face. We got literally the best kind of substitute teacher you could hope for. "Yeah?"

His dark blue eyes were creased only minutely at the corners. He didn't let his arm drop just yet from directing all attention to him. "What's your name?"

"Armin Arlert." This is gonna be good.

"Well, Armin, you look very smart." The noirette declared this to him with no hesitation. "So tell me..." His voice dropped to a very grave tone, and his eyes narrowed. The entire class was at silent attention, unsure of what to make of this man. You've got 'em. Go for it! "...what class is this?" He said it more like a statement than a question. The class didn't have enough time to process this question to laugh before Armin replied.

"Chemistry."

"Okay." He spoke quietly and returned to a casual stance, twirling the pen expertly in hand once again, over the knuckles and behind the thumb, moving too fast to be possible. His gaze danced over the back walls of the silent classroom, then to the pen in his hand as he stopped its motions. With a shrug, he tossed it high over his shoulder. “Eh, won't be needing this.” He ignored it as it clattered to the floor, stepping forward to address the stunned room with a mischievous grin breaking across his face.

 

“My name is Lathe Autonomous Quo, you can call me whatever the hell you want, and I am going to be your substitute chemistry teacher. If you need to leave for any reason whatsoever, be it you need to go to the bathroom or get water or anything really, you can just get up and leave. But I'll be very suspicious if you're gone for more than ten minutes. If you decide to have a conversation while I'm doing something or think that this class is a good time to flirt with each other, just don't be too loud about it, and we’re cool. Now before we begin, you.” He pointed to Erwin. “Your name. What be it.”

 

“Erwin Smith.” ... Okay then, this is happening.

 

“And yours?” He pointed to Eren.

 

“E-Eren Yeager.” Oh my God.

 

“And you,” He bust his nose? Looks pretty fresh if he did. “Mr. Thug Life?” The class collectively tried to stifle laughter at that, and at Levi’s very confused expression.

 

“...What.” ...What.

 

“Unless you want me to call you Mr. Thug Life for the duration of your time here at this school because of a busted nose, you'll enlighten me as to your name.”

 

“...Levi Ackerman.” Is this guy for real?

 

“Cool. And you are?” Lathe continued around the room, pointing to students and studying their faces.

 

“Alright! That everyone?” The class murmured in assent. “Just so you know, I'm probably not going to remember any of that.” He dropped his hand to his side. “But I thought you'd appreciate the sentiment.” Jk, I'm going to know your names and faces for at least fifteen years. I'm going to see you four lanes over at a grocery store checkout with a new haircut in another state and start talking to you as if we're besties. Fear me.

 

Eren watched shocked as the teacher went through everyone, then blatantly told them it was all for nothing. This guy is fucking awesome! What are we doing for a lab though? Nothing is set up for a lab… Like at all!

 

“So, Armin. What exactly is, or was, supposed to happen today?”

 

“We were learning how to balance chemical equations, and today we were going to write out the equations for various chemical reactions, and test them to make the connection between what is produced and what we wrote.”

 

“So, boring stuff.”

 

“Well-”

 

“There’s writing involved. That constitutes as boring. What’s in that big cabinet?” Lathe didn't wait for an answer before walking to the back of the room and opening the cabinet. He pulled out a random small box and read the back, an ecstatic grin splitting his face. “... I know what we're doing today.” He turned sharply. “Where are the watch glasses?”

 

All the students pointed to the drawers to his left. He opened the bottom one, taking out a dozen of them and placing them on the countertop above the drawers. He snatched an empty tray from inside the cabinet, placing the watch glasses inside. He returned to perusing the labels on the trays inside. “I don't know where the matches or the tongs are. Ah!” Add two boxes of matches, some tongs, a glass stirring tool and a beaker, and a pair of safety goggles and of course, a Bunsen burner and plate holder. He then drifted back up to the chemicals and compounds.

 

“Let’s see… I want…” His fingers ghosted over the many boxes and jars. “Ooh, this.” He grabbed a box of magnesium strips and plopped it in the tray.

 

“This looks interesting. That one is fun! I've never heard of this compound… oh well, we’ll learn! And this, ” He regarded it a certain approval and respect. “is going to make it interesting.” He walked back with his tray to the front of the room, setting up quickly and efficiently, lining up watch glasses and bottles and hooking the Bunsen burner up to the gas in no time. The plate holder was lowered over the burner and, humming an odd tune, he donned his safety glasses. He looked down as the small creak of plastic was heard, picking up the pen he discarded minutes before. He skimmed the room with his eyes, locking onto something behind… “Erwin.”

 

“Yes?” Oh no please do not make me a Guinea pig in this...

 

“You might want to duck.”

 

Erwin slumped low in his chair, the side of his head against the table as Lathe’s pen whizzed overhead and hit the light switch dead on, bathing the windowless room in darkness. Murmurs of concern and flickers of fear floated around the room for only a second before they heard the scrape of a match and the soft whoosh of a Bunsen burner igniting, the glowing orange flame their only light. Lathe planted both hands on the desk in front of him, looming over the flame.

 

“What is about to happen, is I am going to stand up here and burn stuff. You don't have to take notes, and you don't have to really try and memorize anything. All you need to know is that lots of things burn. And they burn differently. Like this piece of paper.” He withdrew from his left front pocket a thick, folded up piece of paper. “I am first going to burn this sheet, given to me with instructions on how to run this class. It says on here that you have homework. As of now, that’s a lie. I am burning this not only to remind you that paper burns with an orange flame, usually, but also because they won't stop giving me these and I don't know what to do with all of them. Rebellion is very okay. Down with the system!” And with that, the paper was on the netted metal plate, quickly being consumed by the flame. ...oh my god. Lathe started to chuckle, soon consumed by laughter, concerning the class that was beginning to think he was nuts.

 

He barely managed to speak through his laughing fit. “H-How h-have they not f-f-fired me yet?”

 

The class erupted into laughter. Eren watched in complete fear. This madman had access to fire. His eyes widened at the sight of the bright orange flames and he almost immediately started to panic. Those bright Orange flames were too close to his fear. His whole body started to shake in honest fear, he didn’t want it to happen again. Something’s gonna catch, we're gonna get trapped, Mommy’s gonna die. Eren’s thoughts were leading him into a panicked state.

 

Armin and Levi noticed Eren shaking like a leaf at the same time. Levi glanced at Armin, who looked at him deliberately. Levi slowly reached over to Eren’s hands, tight in fists on his lap, and took hold of one, trying to calm him down. Don't worry Eren, I've got you. We’re all the way in the corner. Nothing’s going to happen.

 

Lathe, coming down from his laughing fit, looked over to their table, sensing… something. He saw a worried Armin and concerned Erwin, Eren about to panic, and Levi willing him to calm down. ...Huh. Maybe I do need to give the spiel. Okay, do it. Straightening himself, he announced to the class, “If it does please the court, may I state my qualifications for running this current freak show. Since entering the room I have noted all three fire extinguishers behind Eren, next to the entrance, and-” He reached down and heaved one onto the desk. “-the one underneath this desk. I know how to use them, and if it is acceptable to present company, I shall keep it in sight to my left.” He moved it to the end of the table, ready to use. “There is a medical kit next to the chemical storage over there, much more complete than the one behind me,” he pointed to the wall next to the board. “yet incomparable with the one that is my messenger bag in front of this desk. I know how to use that shock thingy in that metal box nailed to the wall by the door, and I know how to treat burns and provide emergency medical help of pretty much any kind that does not require lots of equipment. I know how to control the flames we produce here, and remember that as long as the source of the fire does not leave this table, because laws dictate practically everything in this room be fireproof, you're going to be fine. You're far away from anything going on. So.” He moved to take a watch glass, placing it three feet to his right and opening a bottle of clear liquid onto it. He reached for the matches, taking one and striking it. “I promise I'm not a pyromaniac.” He tossed it casually onto the disk, sending a burst of pink-tinted flame close to the ceiling. “I just like to burn stuff.”

 

Eren watched, his hand in Levi’s as Lathe continued to speak, and the man's words helped to significantly calm the starting spikes of Eren’s panic. The teen took a few deep breaths before he finally just held tight to Levi’s hand to keep him calm. He looked to see Armin very worried, Erwin concerned and Levi with an expression like he was trying to will something onto him. What the fuck is he trying to do? Does it hurt for me to hold his hand? Eren looked down at his hand clutching Levi’s. He again thanked himself for wearing his black hoodie, his wrists were still bleeding- not that Levi could tell from his angle and the dark room. He swallowed hard and tried to calm down, hoping that Levi wouldn’t notice and beat him for it. Why do I keep thinking Levi will act like my father does? Maybe because he put you in the hospital? Well, yeah… but he didn’t mean to do that, at least I don’t think he did…. And he was there… Yeah, he was there because he had nothing better to do, he got suspended because of you. Eren’s own mind was a place of torment. He tried not to focus on the bright flames in the front of the room and only focused on keeping his eyes closed, and gripping Levi’s hand to keep his sanity at least for a little longer.

 

Levi tried just to focus on keeping Eren calm, switching the hand he already had to his other, going to clasp the other. It’s fine. You look like you're about to flip, and I understand that, but please know you're going to be fine. We all are. Our teacher might be slightly insane, but he’s no idiot. I've got you. I've got you. Levi carefully rubbed the back of his hands with his thumb, the fire in front, now a lingering green, forgotten.

 

Eren managed not to freak out during the class as Lathe continued to make horrible fire-related puns and small flaming explosions.

 

“You know, there’s a rule against bringing firearms onto school grounds. But we all know I like to break rules, so…” with a flick of his wrist, the flame on the match in his hand swirled around his arms insanely fast, clear across the back of his shoulders and off the back of his hand, dissipating into nothing. He winked. “...just don't tell anyone.”

 

With that, Lathe reached over to turn off the gas, leaving the room in darkness. “This drawer has a pencil in it. That’ll work. Erwin, hit the deck!” With a lighter thunk, the lights were back on, the pencil responsible skittering off under a table. With an impossibly wide grin, Lathe removed his goggles, setting them down before speaking. “And that is class. I hope that everybody learned something. Even if you just learned that fire is pretty. Or, something else.” He glanced at Eren and Levi. ...I ship it. “Now, two things. One, someone throw me that pen I had earlier.” It came spinning straight at him, and he caught it with ease. “Grazié. Two. Yeager, stay back, I’ve gotta speak with you. And everybody, real talk, if you're ever going to do something,” he smirked, “do it for the memes. Class dismissed!” The loud ring of the bell sounded through the room and the halls, and the class picked up their bags to head out; there was no real packing to do. Lathe moved to retrieve his bag from in front of the desk, and to clear a space on the front desk, moving the equipment he used to the left half quickly. He placed his bag on the table, and looked up expectantly to Eren as the rest of class filed out.

 

Eren watched as everyone scurried out of the room to get to their next class. Armin promised to wait in the hall for him. He swallowed visibly as he nervously neared the crazed teacher in front of him. “Y-yes?” he stuttered and looked up to him with wide eyes. His bag was in his hand, not across his back, since he couldn’t hold it there even if he wanted to. He looked up to Lathe with his unique viridian eyes, one that were so full of emotion, and in this case, fear, pain, and anxiety clouded those beautiful orbs.

 

Weathered grey stone lined the night sky, reflecting the craters of the moon. Moonsong eyes, what Lathe himself called them. They could read Eren like an open book. His entire demeanor switched, features softening and voice lowering in genuine concern. Elbows on the table, his shoulders came up nearer his neck. “I understand you weren't exactly comfortable with what we were doing today.” It was no accusation. It was just a statement.

 

“A-ah….u-um….” Eren tried to think of a quick excuse before he hung his head in shame a bit for being found out so quickly. “N-no, S-sir…. I-I w-wasn’t.” Eren stuttered all his words in defeat. He looked down at his shoes, hugging his arms to himself, hiding away his open wrists.

 

“...Eren, a few things. Do you think, as a person who declared their entire name to class and said to refer to them as whatever you want, that I care about titles? Please, call me Lathe. It’s alright.” His tone was calming, compassionate. “And it’s no crime to worry when someone’s setting fires like mad in front of you. I get that. I do.” His eyebrows turned up at the middle, a sadness of a sort making it’s way into his expression. “But if there’s something I think you need to know, it’s that doing what you've done to yourself has never helped anyone.” He pointedly glanced down to his arms. “I know what it looks like, blood on black fabric. With my profession, I'm no stranger to it. And you can see it in the way you're moving your arms, just holding yourself. In both senses.” He pushed himself off the edge of the table, standing without leaning, and reached into his bag for two rolls of bandages. He held out his hand gingerly. “Will you let me?”

 

Eren took a few weary steps back from the man as soon as he started to move. He watched as he had reached into the bag and pulled out bandages. He looked down at his sweatshirt and nodded. “Y-yeah” he murmured before he glanced at the closed door, making sure no one was coming before rolling up the blood-stained sleeves. So many opened wounds all over Eren’s wrists and hands, and so many scars that marred his otherwise perfectly tanned skin. He swallowed when he saw that he was still bleeding, quite heavily at that, and a few droplets of blood had managed to sneak their way onto the countertop. He looked down at the blood with dull eyes. He had scratched them open again this morning, and he had made them even deeper without realizing it, and not even Levi had smelled the blood coming from his sweatshirt. But it sure as hell was apparent when he rolled back the sleeves. Eren looked at Lathe with worried eyes. “P-promise?” he stuttered and then cleared his throat to speak again. “P-promise… n-n-not to t-tell?” he asked quietly. He was so afraid of anyone knowing and beating him up about it. His eyes reflected the pain he had endured at previous schools because of his wounds, his bruises, and the scars. He didn’t want it to happen again, not here. Not when I’m just starting to make friends… His eyes gave a silent plea for the teacher to comply, and hopefully he would.

 

...How many does that make? I think I stopped counting at twenty. … It’s not easy for all of you, I know that. But this is… Lathe nodded slowly. “Wouldn't dream of it, kid. I think I have a better wrap for this…” He dug in his bag for wraps with thumb loops, carefully starting with his right hand around the palm, winding down to halfway to his elbow. He’s so bony… These bandages are way too long for his arms. That's not good. He found the scissors in his bag and had snipped three feet off the end before Eren could blink, cutting another two inches off the waste and leaving both on the table, putting the end hook in place. He quickly used the extra length to clean the drips off the tabletop. You can clean that properly later. He found the wrap’s twin, doing the same for his left. But as he started on his palm, he spoke. “...though, I’d need you to do something for me. A favor, if you will.”

 

Eren gave Lathe a weary glance. “W-what?” He asked, his voice small and he seemed worried at Lathe would ask something ridiculous from him. His left hand was more scratched up on his fingers and the cut on his wrist deeper. An angry red voicing all the pain from those lanky fingers. He had watched the teacher wrap his arms with precision, and with practiced speed, bringing this wrap up between his fingers as well. There would be no worry of the bandages becoming loose at all. A majority of the bleeding had stopped on his right hand and he knew it was because of the wrap. He wondered what Lathe’s favor would be and waited in silence, anxious

 

“...Perhaps two, even.” He slid the hooks in place to finish Eren’s left arm. “I want you to try and stop. And I don't mean just this,” he held Eren’s arm in his hands, weighing it, “but this, too.” He turned it over to the top, tracing with a finger the fact that you could see every ridge of his joints, his bones, his tendons. “...And the most important thing you need to understand,” Lathe looked Eren straight in the eye. “...is that you have friends here, and they all wish the best for you. I can tell you don't believe it. I can tell with some of them you believe the opposite of it. But they do. You have people here to talk to and to support you. I hope you'll let me be one of them.” He grinned. “We're here for you, Eren.” He crossed his thumb over his heart. “Swear it.”

 

Eren didn’t know when he had started to cry. He just felt the hot tears escape from his eyes unwillingly. He looked confused as he felt them fall down his face, he sniffled and reached up to wipe his tears away. “I-I’m s-sorry, L-Lathe” Eren quietly apologized to the teacher for crying in front of him. No one has ever said anything like that to me before- no one, not even the teachers who knew I was getting beaten before, not even the teachers who knew I killed my mom…. No one. I want to spill everything to him, just because of those words, but I fucking can’t . All I am is a fucking coward who goes crying to everyone they feel safe around, but is too scared to explain why the tears started in the first place. Eren tried to hide his now blotchy face because he couldn’t control his tears any longer.

 

Lathe reached for his back pocket, pulling out a red kerchief and pressing it gently into Eren’s hand. He closed Eren’s fingers around it. “You don't have to talk if you don't want to. But just know that wanting to cry, wanting to talk doesn't mean you're weak. I can tell that’s what you think it means. But it’s alright. ...Do you want to tell me?”

 

Eren looked between the red kerchief and Lathe. He wiped away his tears, letting out a strangled gasp for air as he tried to calm himself down. He kept his face covered as he tried to speak a few words to the kind teacher in front of him. “I-I-I…. I miss her” Eren finally managed before he broke out into sobs. Yesterday had been the 8th anniversary of his mother’s death, and he had had a panic attack and relived the very day he sentenced his mother to death. “And I’m the reason she’s gone.” Eren started to break down completely in front of Lathe. He hadn’t even told Levi as to what was really the problem yesterday. Well now someone knows, and I can only hope Lathe won’t tell anyone. Eren’s stutter had disappeared for now, but his sobs were quickly wracking through his whole body, and it was almost starting to hurt to breathe in. His chest was starting to hurt again. But he couldn’t stop. It felt so good to finally cry and let everything out after so many years of keeping it inside himself.

 

Lathe was on the other side of the desk in a second, ushering Eren carefully over to one of the lab tables to sit down next to him, pulling his chair close and putting his arm around him, murmuring to him. He looked like his heart had snapped in half. ...To drag that kind of guilt along with you… “Eren… It’s alright. ...What happened?”

 

For some reason, Eren’s crying form had the balls to tell Lathe about what had happened that fateful day 8 years ago yesterday. He looked like a mess once he was done, and he was wincing every time he drew in a wheezed breath. He was trying to ignore the pain in his chest, but the pain was so clear in his eyes it was striking. His fear of fire, whether safe or not, was confirmed, and given a fair reason to fear it. The kid had such a rough life leading to this, moving from Germany after the incident, trying to learn English, trying to hide his accent for fear of bullying... Eren told him everything, which of course made him way late for his next class, which was PE, but he was in no condition to even think of participating at the moment. Eren just clung to Lathe’s shirt and sputtered out everything in between his painful breaths and his sobs. He tried to find as much comfort in Lathe as he could, but it wasn’t enough to get him to stop crying- no, the waterworks did not shut off at all during this whole time of telling Lathe all the things that had happened to him in the past 8 years. Eren even went as far as to mention what his father had done to him in retaliation, all of it: the rape, the stabbing, the whipping, the burning… everything . He couldn’t stop, it felt so good to finally get it off his chest.

 

Lathe held onto Eren through his entire story, trying to comfort him as best one could comfort someone pained from the guilt of their mother’s death, reinforced by years and years of abuse and emotional torture. ...there has to be something I can do to help this kid… I'll talk to Spades later. She’ll know what to do. But for now… Lathe just held onto Eren, letting him hold his shirt in a white-knuckled grip. He noticed the pain in his eyes- beyond the emotional, but in the tremors of his body, the desperate gasps for air. Painkillers and water. Bag. But you're holding Eren! Just for a second- he needs it. You're still going to be here. Go . “Eren, let me get you something to help your pain, okay? You're shaking so hard… and you need water, too, alright?” Lathe brought his hand to Eren’s, gently coaxing him to let go for just a moment. He slipped out of his chair and snatched a bottle of pills out of his bag and an unopened water bottle, away for less than ten seconds before he was back at Eren’s side, his shirt immediately reclaimed. He struggled to open the bottle with one hand, the other around Eren, succeeding and addressing Eren. “Hold out your hand, okay Eren?”

 

Eren did as he was told and he looked at Lathe with confused eyes as he sputtered to take in a shaky breath. His widened in fear as he started to cough, retracting his hand partway, his grip tightening on Lathe’s shirt even more. He tried to take in another strangled breath, but the coughing is what scared Eren the most, he couldn't get a breath in.

 

Remember. You need to stay calm for the both of you. “Eren, I know you're really scared, but you need to try and focus for me on getting these two little guys down the hatch.” He tipped the bottle onto the table, two small magenta pills clinking out. “All you need to do is get these two down, and have a sip of water, and you should feel worlds better. Just breathe, and focus. You're alright.”

 

Eren tried breathing, and it didn't work out again. He reached for a pill and struggled to even swallow it, his chest hurt with the lack of air, and he knew he needed to down these before his breath ran out. I’m going to fucking pass out because of this . Eren was scared as he fumbled for the next pill and got it in his mouth, He struggled to swallow, a shaky hand reaching for the bottle and trying to latch on without much success before finally getting it and sipping at the cool liquid which helped the pills down. His grip was loosening from Lathe’s shirt, he was starting to lose his strength from the lack of oxygen. It took a few moments before Eren had relaxed enough to take in a deep ragged breath and he seemed to take a few, no matter how much it hurt, just to calm himself down, his grip tightening on Lathe’s shirt once again.

 

...I knew there was a reason Sue insisted I carry morphine on me. Thank god he can breathe again. “Good job, Eren, I'm so proud of you. You'll feel much better now, I promise.” He ran his thumb up and down his arm, drawing him close. “I've got you.”

 

Eren’s eyes dilated. His body was responding well to the morphine, and at this point it was the only thing that could help him get by with his extensive chest and back injuries. He took in a few more solid, deep breath before he calmed down completely. He curled into Lathe’s embrace and relaxed further. “Thank you, Lathe” he murmured. His stutter seemed to have hidden away, and a much more confident voice had appeared before the teacher, and it was filled with gratitude.

 

He’s responding well to the morphine. Good… Good. Lathe himself felt tension drain out of him, knowing Eren was okay for right now. “You sound much better. The medicine should help you through most of the day today. If ever you need more, talk to me, alright? I actually think I should write you a prescription for some, seeing as you need it… you know what? I will. Here, let me up, alright? I'll just grab my whole bag and bring it over here.” He stood and grabbed his bag, sitting back down and plopping it on the table. Holding his pen with his right hand as he rummaged with his left, he withdrew a pad of paper, switching the pen to his left and quickly filling in the blank spaces, tearing the paper off the pad when he was done. And they thought I was ridiculous for practicing writing with both hands. Placing it on the table next to him, he rummaged for another notepad, pulling out the small stack of yellow and scratching out a pass.   “This doesn't mean you have to leave, it just means I don't want your 2nd period teacher getting too mad at you. What class are you supposed to be in, anyway?”

 

Eren looked up to Lathe from where his gaze lay on his prescription Lathe had written for him. “I’m supposed to be in PE right now…. Mr. Siss will probably understand my tardiness, I mean I did just get out of the hospital two days ago” he murmured quietly and started to pull his stuff together to head off to the gym. “Also… um, what do I do if I can’t afford it? The prescription?” he asked quietly and looked to Lathe with innocent and curious eyes, not a hint of pain left in them anymore.

 

Lathe thought a moment, then picked up the prescription note again, making sure of an odd symbol he had already scratched into the corner, and put it back down again. “Just take this to the pharmacy on Trost St., two minutes from here, and hand it to the pharmacist with the purple-ish hair. No charge. And please, sit down for another minute, kid. As for PE, which you're not attending, haven't you been given a note by the hospital that says you can't perform physical activity of that kind for a while? Or do you need one of those, too?”

 

Eren sat back down, leaning again into Lathe. “No, I didn’t get one, they might have sent it to….” he paused for a brief second. Lathe already knew everything, why couldn’t he tell him his father’s name was Grisha? “ They probably sent it to Grisha, but he hasn’t come back.” His words seemed a bit smaller at the mention of his own father’s name. Lathe should’ve been aware of the widely renowned doctor from Germany. Grisha Yeager was a big deal around here, and everyone seemed to be overlooking what he had done to his own child in a drunken rage.  

 

...Grisha Yeager. Is the father. Of Eren Yeager. The one I have in my arms right now. ... What the fuck happened to ‘Do No Harm?’ Lathe was silent for a moment. I met him before, didn't I? I thought something was off about him… I never really did like the guy. I thought I was being paranoid. He carded his fingers through Eren’s hair, his left hand going to rummage for one last pad of paper. He sighed heavily as he scratched out one more note, excusing him from physical education classes for… Well, make it until further notice. I don't know truly how bad he is, how long he’ll need to heal. “...Alright. You're now free from gym. It’s a bit more than half an hour to your next class, you know. However you want to spend it is up to you.”

 

“Can I stay here?” Came Eren’s immediate reply. He didn’t want to let go, not yet. He couldn’t let go since he had found someone he could rely on. Someone he could trust, someone who could help him thoroughly. “Please…” Eren’s small voice sent out a thousand emotions. The boy was relieved, hurting, anxious, pleased, angry, content, and so many more emotions had flooded his brilliant viridian eyes. He looked better already, much better, without his eyes laced with the pain from his back, which was by no means properly wrapped anymore either. Should I ask him to wrap it? It hasn’t been wrapped in a long time, probably why it hurts so much. Eren was contemplating on asking for his back to be wrapped, but that would mean showing him everything, showing him, showing him the damage. It would no longer be words- Lathe would see everything if he did, all the cuts he had put on his sides himself, all the stab wounds from his father, the scars from surgery to repair his splintered ribs, everything. Even his back, which thankfully had healed over enough that his spine was no longer showing.

 

“...You've got a question to ask. I can see it. What's bugging you, kid?” Lathe just kept fiddling with Eren’s brunette hair, studying his expression.

 

Eren took in a deep breath to gather his courage and looked up to Lathe, his expression showed that he trusted Lathe, even after only meeting him a class period and a half ago. “Um…. my back hasn’t been properly wrapped since I left the hospital… um, could you wrap it for me?” he asked quietly to the older man as he sat up a bit to judge Lathe’s reaction. He trusted the other not to freak out at the sight of his hip bones and ribs showing clearly if he removed the oversized hoodie.

 

Lathe let his hand slip from his hair. ...everything he just told you is about to be put into proper context. Brace for that. Moonsong eyes softly smiled at him, recognizing the trust and courage asking that took. “Of course. Here, stand up and let me see if I have enough.” He let Eren uncurl his fingers from his shirt, standing and rummaging for all the bandages he had. A thought crossed his mind, and he looked to the doors, noting they were closed before returning his attention to his bag, removing three rolls. “This should be enough, but there are more in the other kits in the room in case we need more. So, Eren.” He nodded a bit, speaking quietly. “The hoodie has to go.”

 

Eren swallowed quietly before he started to lift the hem of his sweatshirt. Already Lathe could tell by Eren’s tiny waist that the sweatshirt was easily 5-8 sizes too big for the boy’s frame. Eren removed it, and the thin horror that his arms were, were nothing compared to the sickly thin and malnourished silhouette Eren currently stood in front of Lathe as. His shirt, which was much smaller that his hoodie, still hung loosely around Eren’s small figure. He slowly removed it from his body and almost instantly the outline of his hip bones were visible, poking at the bandages, his waist so slim, Lathe could probably put his hands around Eren and have his fingers touch. Lathe reached for the hooks holding the old wrappings in place, using scissors to cut them in various places and help them fall to the floor. The boy’s chest looked like the site of a massacre, scars and red, irritated lines, still held together by stitches from his last surgery, lacing across the brunette’s tan skin. It looked so out of place to see so many silvery scars imperfecting that beautiful caramel skin, yet Lathe hadn’t even seen the horrifying sight of the boy’s back. His ribs were jutting out as well, each and every one (that was there) could be counted. There were a few that could not be salvaged and were missing altogether from when they were pulverized. The boy looked like he should be dead, five times over, yet here he was, standing in front of his substitute teacher who he trusted the most at the moment.

 

...when I was holding onto his arm, how did the bones not snap in my hand? ...when he moves, I wonder if he can hear every joint creaking, so close to his skin, so without anything to protect them as they spin and swivel. ...when his heart beats, I can see his pulse, moving in fast waves to his fingertips, and I wonder if he ever noticed the veins in his hand move with his blood if he stays very still, or if he never did. …when he walks, I wonder if he can feel every crack and pebble and abnormality in the cement. ...when he looks in the mirror, I wonder how long he spends just standing there, looking at himself with eyes trained to see only the ugliness of himself, focusing on one bit of skin that hangs looser than normal, while he drains his flesh away by ‘forgetting’ to eat and living the life of a skeleton with only threads of life left dangling, tied to rattling bones. My god. Let me fix you.

 

Eren watched at Lathe took in his whole being. He looked down a bit, feeling a bit ashamed of the way his body was, it honestly wasn’t his fault, more so his father’s than anything. He slowly turned around and his back gave off all sorts of shades of reds, pinks, and whites. His skin had not grown back onto the flesh which was still trying to heal from the horrible burning it sustained, and even a bit of the burns lingered after weeks of healing. The 3rd degree burns though, which covered the dip of his back, would remain as an ugly reminder. They had not healed at all, not even a tad. They still looked fresh, like the pot had been dumped on him only seconds ago. Eren know the healing skin was irritated and dried out, it was cracking and even a few places has started to bleed again, probably from trying to walk to school. He was limping so horribly this morning too. He needed more than just having his back wrapped, he needed to be cared for. It was obvious that Eren could not take care of himself through the pain he was experiencing, and it was obvious that his back would never heal if the skin continued to crack and bleed every day.

 

...Time. How much time do I have? Lathe looked to the clock on the wall. Twenty seven minutes. That'll do. “Eren. Give me one second.” Lathe snatched his pen, writing down another prescription for medicine as quickly as he could, scribbling that same symbol in the corner. He reached into his bag and pulled out another bottle, flicking open the cap and pouring two larger, chalky-looking pills into his hand, giving them to Eren with the water bottle. “Down the hatch. I'm kinda going into full-on doctor mode, so I'm sorry if I'm scaring you, but I have work to do. We need to patch you up.” He gave him a reassuring smile.

 

Eren simply nodded and followed Lathe’s instructions, downing the chalky pills in a moment. He then waited for more instructions from the man examining his back.

 

Vitamins. He's going to need plenty of those. Lathe studied the cracking, bleeding skin of his back. They're not too deep, but the skin is so dry … I might as well just dump the bag on the desk. But he did not, opting instead to keep the mess contained and removing a jar of Vaseline, opening the jar and studying the contents. I wish I had something better to work with here… Placing the container down, he ran over to the sink and washed his hands quickly, drying them with paper towels and rushing back to Eren, picking up the container and carefully applying the petroleum jelly on the skin between the cuts. He grimaced as he heard Eren hiss from the pain, trying to keep his touches as light as possible. If your skin could stretch just a little, you might not hurt as much when you move. He worked quickly, tracing between every line of his back. Thinkthinkthink what else. … Alcohol swabs. Oh, that’s gonna hurt like a bitch. But at the same time, Lathe eyed the angry reds of some of the cuts. ...infection is not an option. Lathe closed the cap, running back to grab the paper towels and bring them up, wiping the gel off his hands. He grabbed one more morphine pill, handing it to Eren. “You’re gonna need this. It’ll all be over soon, though.” His thumb crossed his heart. “Swear it.”

 

Eren eyed the pill before he again took it and got it to go down with a sip of water. He reached over to his bag, grabbing a towel he would use to silence himself when he was cutting at school. If this is gonna fucking hurt as much as he says it will I’m gonna need this . Eren put the rag in his mouth and looked to Lathe when he was ready, gagged to prevent him from making too much of a racket.

 

...that’s horrible that he has that. Lathe shook his head to clear it. JOB. DO IT. Lathe opened a plastic container filled with alcohol wipes. He picked one up, unfolding it and holding it so that it covered his fingers, he looked to Eren, who nodded. He pressed the wipe to the first of many red cuts, turning it and turning it to cleaner sides of the wipe. He made it to the end of the first cut when he simply dropped it on the floor and picked up another one, just keeping going as quickly as he could.

 

Eren would’ve screamed in pain if it weren’t for the rag muffling his pained cries. The pill took a bit to kick in and once it did Lathe was almost done with his entire back. Eren remained limp, bent over the chair as Lathe worked on his back. He had tears in his eyes, but they were subsiding. He would be okay, this was for the best.

 

It was killing Lathe to hear Eren in so much pain, but he knew it was a necessary evil. He could keep him from getting worse. He was especially careful to avoid the small of his back. ... that is what we're really worrying about here. He dropped another alcohol wipe, closing the box and reaching for a small silver-coloured tube in the depths of the messenger bag, reading the label to make sure it was the right thing. “Eren, this is going to be the hardest part. I have burn cream with me. I'm going to use it. The morphine’s kicked in a bit more by now, I think, but it’s going to be the worst. You can do it, though. I know you can. It’s all easier after this, okay?”

 

Eren could only nod at Lathe’s words. He trusted the man to help, which was exactly what he was doing. He gripped the chair below him and gritted his teeth against the towel in his mouth, ready for the pain he would feel.

 

The cap snapped open, white cream pouring onto Lathe’s fingertips. With a deep breath, he reached out and smeared the cream over the small of his back, over every millimetre of skinless flesh. He cringed at Eren’s lurch, his sounds of extreme distress.

 

Eren’s whole body shook from the pain he felt as Lathe continued on his back, it was like he was touching his eyes with alcohol wipes, except like he had pulled the eyes out of the socket and filled the sockets with alcohol before putting his eyes back in. It burned, almost as bad as getting the burn to begin with. Eren’s eyes dilated further at the memory he had been trying to avoid, and Eren’s body began to shake for a new reason, his memories of the horrible incident and he was starting to cry and try to back away from the touch… From his father’s touch. Lathe could probably already tell that Eren had ventured off into his panicking stages. It was early; his panic could be stopped, but if not soon, it would result in a massive attack, that would probably lead him to lose his trust in Lathe.

 

...that's it. That's the whole thing. Lathe dropped the silver tube uncaring as he brought himself directly next to Eren, pulling him into his chest and running his hand not covered in medicine through his hair. “Hey hey hey, Eren, you did it- that's over. It's all so much easier from here. You're very brave for letting me do all this. I really am so proud of you.” He rested his chin on top of his head, willing him to calm down.

 

Eren’s eyes flashed a feral look in them for a second before he realized it was Lathe who was touching him, and that he was safe. He calmed down after a few moments and leaned into Lathe’s touches, happy the morphine was working in full swing. He couldn’t feel anything but a dull ache now.

 

Lathe allowed himself a breather. He looked to the clock. Seventeen minutes. Okay. This works. He felt tension drain out of his shoulders, the worst over with. “Eren, I just want to make sure I have enough time. I need to do your front. Your back already looks much better.” And it did- the cuts had stopped bleeding, the skin slowly learning to stretch. Lathe untangled himself from Eren and reclaimed the alcohol wipes. “Alright, this shouldn't take as long as your back. Sit on the table so I can see better, okay?”

 

Eren nodded and tried to get up onto the table twice, and failed both times. He looked for help from Lathe. He couldn’t lift his own body weight with his arms anymore. He looked a bit defeated at the thought. How was he carrying a backpack then? It probably weight more than him…just how did he manage?

 

...how do you manage? Lathe reached down to hold him up by his feet, Eren guiding himself onto the table with his arms. He opened the container and took out one more of many. “Remember, this is the easy part. These aren't as bad as the ones on your back. You'll be fine.” Lathe set to cleaning his entire front and his sides, swiping over every cut, every scar, and every mark he saw, open or not. He studied the stitches he was given. Why didn't they stitch the rest of the cut while they were at it… Wouldn't have hurt… And my god, your ribs … you're missing so many of them… We need to get some food in you. I'm talkin’ to the lunch ladies later. And what was that drug called… He reached for the bandages when he finished, unrolling the first and fastening it over one shoulder and under his arm. He slowly spiralled downward, adding in hooks where he needed one bandage to connect to the next. ...Maybe I should just talk to that Ackerman kid. Have him check and make sure he’s eating. But there are plenty of antidepressants that can also help with weight gain and appetite too, god knows he’d need it... He left some extra space at the belly- not only for him to have room to breathe, but to move and eat as well. He finished at Eren’s waist with one roll of bandages only half-used, snipping off the extra and hooking it in place. “There we go. Done, with nine minutes to spare. How are you feeling?”

 

Eren let out a sigh of relief at he didn't know he’d been holding in. He slumped down in the chair a bit. He felt so much better now that his wounds and scratches had been cleaned and wrapped. “Thank you, it feels much better” he said and he smiled softly, his bright teeth shining at Lathe. Eren straightened himself and moved to put his shirt and hoodie on, covering himself to make it look like he was actually filled out and not a living skeleton.

 

Lathe smiled softly. We're getting somewhere. “Now Eren, I just have a couple of questions for you. Don't panic, some are yes or no questions, and some aren't, but they'll help me help you. Alright? There's just a few of them.” Lathe moved to pick up the bandages scattered over the floor and table, the drying wipes, and the discarded medicine. He placed all except the latter into a paper bag, folding it closed and shoving it to the bottom of the trash. He turned his attention back to Eren.

 

Eren watched as the man cleaned up the mess they had created in only about twenty minutes. What questions is he going to ask? He said yes or no answers, but… What kind of questions? Do I have to answer them? …Well, probably. Eren swallowed hard before he nodded at Lathe, signalling he was ready for the questions.

 

Lathe looked thoughtful for a moment. “...Do you have nightmares occurring about once a week or more?”

 

Eren nodded. “Yeah, I didn't have one last night, while I was with Levi.” he murmured quietly, feeling like he could trust Lathe with his sexuality as well. I hope he won’t tell anyone about this-  if the school finds out I’m gay for Levi Ackerman, everything is gonna go to shit.

 

Lathe saw his insecurity, and chuckled. “Don’t worry yourself. I never really cared about that sort of thing. It’s cute, honestly.” He smirked. “But they’re pretty common, then? Every night, really?” His tone switched to something more serious.

 

Eren nodded. “Yeah, every night, I sometimes… No. I can only ever sleep from 11-3 then I’ll be up the rest is the night.” Eren said and he looked up to Lathe again. If Lathe looked closely he would be able to see the large bags underneath each of his eyes. It wasn’t because of how thin he was, but the fact he could only sleep four hours every night then function the next day on only those four hours. It was close to insomnia levels. “Sometimes I can’t sleep more than an hour before I’m woken up by the nightmares” he murmured. He looked down at his wrapped hands, wanting to scratch at his wrists in a nervous tick, but he knew he couldn’t, not with them properly wrapped.

 

Lathe wandered over to the table again, picking up the pad of stationery and scribbling notes on it. I can’t remember the name of the drug perfect for this sort of thing… eh, as long as Casper gets these notes he’ll be fine. Insomnia and nightmares. “Are the nightmares recurring? Is it the same thing happening every time?”

 

Eren looked to Lathe and shook his head. “Sometimes it’s Grisha raping me, sometimes it’s him beating me, sometimes it's the fire-and I’m the one who trapped, alone…. Sometimes it’s my father forcing me to drink whole bottles of alcohol… They’re not real nightmares, not a figment of my imagination, they’re just memories which I would rather forget.” He explained to Lathe with his head down.

 

...Recurring nightmares regarding abuse and pain, mainly involving Grisha. Some sleeping medicines make sleep relatively dreamless, but we need to stop the dreams altogether. If anything, this kid has PTSD. Lathe scribbled something under the title of ‘Sleep’ before looking up to meet Eren’s eyes. “You shouldn’t feel ashamed, Eren. Really. You’re going to be alright now.” Thinking for a moment, he spoke. “...Approximately how long has it been since you had three meals in one day?”

 

Eren seemed to laugh a little. “Three?” He asked quietly. “At least seven years.” he told the other and looked down. “An honest meal… the last one, I would say two.” he said honestly and looked down at his hands again.

 

Lathe stared at the floor over his pad of paper. Prazosin for PTSD… Morphine for the pain… I need him to get the best vitamins we have around here because he’s not eating- or probably can’t eat… Yeah, I can’t do this alone. Lathe made a mental note to talk to Levi later. I’m gonna need to enlist a bunch of people for this. They won’t really know what’s up, though. I’m not cruel. I swore on it. He looked at Eren, continuing. “Is it that you can’t eat, or that you refuse to?” Please say can’t I can fix can’t

 

“I can’t.” he told the other honestly. “Levi tried to get me to eat yesterday, and I could barely finish a fourth of a Caesar salad. I can’t eat sweet things anymore either.” he told the other quietly, remembering Levi’s rant about waffles this morning.

 

...Casper’s smart. He’ll know what to do. Lathe scratched down ‘Best-working medicine you have to increase appetite or at least stimulate weight gain. Both would be wonderful.’ He made sure to add that same insignia to the corner. His eyes wandered over the floor. “Let me think… just on a general note, I’d start carrying water around with you. And you’re going to be taking a lot of pills for a while. I think that’s all I can write for you now, but it wouldn’t hurt-” he tore the sheet off the pad and handed it to Eren. “-to try some optimism. Hand everything I gave you to Casper at the pharmacy. He’s the purple-haired guy I mentioned. He should have it all on hand. I’ll call and make sure next time I have a few minutes. If he doesn't-” He smiled brightly at Eren, stars whizzing about in his eyes. “-I'll track down what you need myself.”

 

Eren smiled. It was a genuine smile as well, one he hadn’t really showed in a long time. His teeth were perfect, surprisingly, especially with all the abuse he had gone through. He took the prescriptions and made a mental note to ask Armin to go with him. He thanked Lathe again and let him ruffle his hair before the next bell rang through the halls, and Eren got up to go to his next class.


“Have a good day, Eren!” Lathe called from his desk. He reached into his pocket, pulling out an old phone, and dialing a number without even looking at the keypad, holding it to his ear. It answered in two rings. “Hey, Casper! I need a favor from you…”

Chapter Text

Eren made his way out of the room and into the filling hallway. He got shoved a bit by some of the jocks, though he tried to ignore them, since he wasn’t in pain anymore. Morphine is fucking MAGIC! He continued his way towards the music department. His class was with Mr. Dieter; He was a pretty laid-back kind of guy, as long as you did as he asked. Eren had only personally been in his class once, and it seemed like a pretty good atmosphere. He walked along, getting closer to the door before he turned his head, hearing a familiar voice call for him. He turned around and saw Armin waving at him, presumably coming from PE, since he wasn’t by the Chem lab door when Eren had left. Eren smiled softly upon seeing a familiar face, raising his arm to return the wave. He remembered that Armin had mentioned being in all his classes. A flash of scarlet caught his eye, and he looked at it in disbelief. ..I just stole Lathe’s kerchief. How did I not fucking notice I still had it? More importantly, how am I going to get this back to him? He doesn't have set classes. He’d just be wandering around, fuck knows if I’ll even see him again today! But this is Lathe we’re talking about… He shouldn't be mad. I'll keep it on me, return it when I see him next. He folded the silk square neatly, tucking it safely into his pocket, waiting for Armin to catch up. “Hey Armin,” he greeted the shorter blonde once he had caught up with him. His voice sounded so pain free it was a complete flip from this morning.

 

“Hey Eren! You look and sound so much better than this morning. But how dare you leave me out in the hall for so long! I was almost late for PE! I hope your conversation with Lathe was reeeeally important.” Armin grinned, mock hurt dripping from his words. Lathe, you are a godsend.

 

Eren looked down a bit. “Yeah, it was important, sorry for making you late.” Eren apologized, and it seemed odd that he no longer had a stutter, and his voice sounded like it was from the heavens itself.

 

...Did his voice actually change at some point or is it just the stutter being gone? “Hey, it's cool. I wasn't late, so no harm, right? At least we're on time for Dieter’s class.”

 

Eren nodded and he followed the short blonde in. He was surprised to see that people actually noticed him come in and sit down beside Armin. Eren looked up as a large binder was put in front of him already filled with sheets of paper.

 

“Welcome back, Eren,” Dieter’s voice was soft and kind. He was holding out everything they had gone over in the past 8 weeks without Eren around. “You think you can pick something out?” He asked him.

 

Eren looked a little shocked to see the teacher handing him the sheet music to over twenty songs. He stared at the index on the front page… “Um, pick… for the piano?” He asked; The first day he had signed up for Piano…. and vocals…. FUCK ME! I knew I would regret that!

 

“No, anything you feel comfortable with singing, I would prefer any from the top five.” Dieter said and waited for a response from Eren before he started class.


Eren took in a deep breath, feeling no pain whatsoever. That’s good- maybe I’ll actually be able to sing, then. Eren looked over the five options, only finding one to be at least in his range. Yes, I know what my fucking range is, but does it have to be Halo? God!! WHY!?!?! It’s gonna make everyone think I’m a girl! Goddammit! “I can do Halo, Mr. Dieter.” Eren replied after looking over all the songs.

 

“Great, thanks Eren, you can go warm up in the sound booth over there,” pointing to said sound booth, “ I’ll come get you when we need you.”

 

Eren smiled softly and then got up to go and warm his voice up quickly. He spent a good few minutes in the booth, letting his voice out. He swallowed hard as there was a knock at the door. Dieter was there to get him out and bring him out to the large music room. He looked at all the other students at various instruments. He nodded to Mr. Dieter signaling he was ready, then everyone else did as well.

The sound started off soft in the beginning before a few more instruments joined the Grand Piano which some tall blonde was playing. Eren swallowed down the last bit of his remaining fear as he opened his mouth, letting his glorious voice let out the first couple lines.

 

“Remember those walls I built

Well Baby they're tumbling down

And they didn't even put up a fight

They didn't even make a sound”

 

Dieter wasn’t the only one shocked by Eren’s obvious display of talent, in fact a few students had stopped their instruments altogether to hear this kid sing. He was like an angel, the way his voice drifted throughout the room. Eren opened his eyes again when he realized that no one had continued playing and all eyes were on him. He blushed immensely, not liking the burning sensation that the eyes caused him. He looked at the sheet… Did I do something wrong? Did I start on the wrong note? It’s been a few months since I’ve seen sheet music. SHIT! What did I do? I don’t want them to stare-

“Eren, where did you learn to sing? That was amazing!” Dieter’s happy voice sounded in the silence. A few other students voice their approvals as well.

 

“We didn’t know you could sing Eren!”

 

“Eren do it again!”

 

“Eren you are one lucky son of a bitch!”

 

That voice I know… that one is one of the…. jocks. Eren turned around to see it belonged to the tall blonde situated at the grand piano.

 

“Thomas! Language!” Dieter’s tone had turned strict and unforgiving. “Sorry, Dieter!” Came a hasty reply before Dieter turned back to the rest of the class. “Alright from the top! You know he can sing now so let’s get this show on the road shall we?” He asked. The students gave a collective nod before they started it up again.

 

“I found a way to let you in

But I never really had a doubt

Standing in the light of your halo

I've got my angel now”

 

Someone screwed up and skipped over an entire line of music, so the second attempt was stopped in an instant by Dieter. “Come on! Work with me here! You guys can do it! Let’s go!” His encouraging words helped to raise all the students’ spirits. Third time's a charm . They got through the whole song without a hitch.

 

“It's like I've been awakened

Every rule I had you breaking

It's the risk that I'm taking

I ain't never gonna shut you out”

 

“Everywhere I'm looking now

I'm surrounded by your embrace

Baby I can see your halo

You know you're my saving grace”

 

“You're everything I need and more

It's written all over your face

Baby I can feel your halo

Pray it won't fade away”

 

“I can feel your halo halo halo

I can see your halo halo halo

I can feel your halo halo halo

I can see your halo halo halo”

 

“Hit me like a ray of sun

Burning through my darkest night

You're the only one that I want

'Think I'm addicted to your light”

 

“I swore I'd never fall again

But this don't even feel like falling

Gravity can't begin

To pull me back to the ground again”

 

“It's like I've been awakened

Every rule I had you breaking

The risk that I'm taking

I'm never gonna shut you out”

 

“Everywhere I'm looking now

I'm surrounded by your embrace

Baby I can see your halo

You know you're my saving grace”

 

“You're everything I need and more

It's written all over your face

Baby I can feel your halo

Pray it won't fade away”

 

“I can feel your halo halo halo

I can see your halo halo halo

I can feel your halo halo halo

I can see your halo halo halo”

 

“I can feel your halo halo halo

I can see your halo halo halo

I can feel your halo halo halo

I can see your halo halo halo”

 

“Everywhere I'm looking now

I'm surrounded by your embrace

Baby I can see your halo

You know you're my saving grace”

 

“You're everything I need and more

It's written all over your face

Baby I can feel your halo

Pray it won't fade away”

 

“I can feel your halo halo halo

I can see your halo halo halo

I can feel your halo halo halo

I can see your halo halo halo”

 

“I can feel your halo halo halo

I can see your halo halo halo

I can feel your halo halo halo

I can see your halo halo halo”

 

...Could there be more perfect blackmail material? His voice is flawless! Armin stopped recording and clapped and cheered with the rest of the class, watched Eren fidget at the loud applause, his face red and hung in embarrassment. ...he doesn't think he deserves it, does he?

 

Eren looked around the room with wide eyes. They were applauding for…. For me? No one’s ever done that before.. then again, I’ve never sung in front of people before.

 

Eren stiffened when Dieter came up to him and smiled. “Eren that was amazing! Where did you learn how to sing?” Dieter asked with bright eyes. Eren didn’t know how to respond to the man’s overly happy demeanor. He blushed out of embarrassment, and it went all the way up to his ears. Fact- He looked really cute when his blush covered his whole face. Eren instantly covered his heating face. OMFG!!! I am blushing! What the hell do I do!? “I haven’t learned from anyone...” he murmured and felt a pang of guilt strike his chest. He had to lie, they couldn’t be asking about his mother, no not like this. He didn’t want to think about it. “I didn’t learn from anyone, Dieter.” He said a little more firmly.

 

Dieter only nodded. “Well you have an amazing voice, even without training. You can read the sheet music pretty well too if I’m not mistaken?” He asked.

 

Eren remained quiet and nodded, he wearily stepped back a bit, not liking all the questions, but he hid his discomfort on his face pretty well.

 

...You're so lying.

 

“And how long have you known how to play music/sing for?” he asked and sat down in a swivel chair… which appeared out of nothing but air. When the fuck did he get that chair? Am i fucking blind? How the fuck did I not see that? I want one of those spinny thingies! Eren looked around and soon located another chair and sat himself down, as did the rest of the class, interested to learn about the kid fresh out of the hospital.

 

“I’ve been able to play for years… Honestly I don’t know how long anymore.” He lied, no one but Armin knowing that he did. I know exactly how long… I started learning on my 5th birthday, and my mother taught me for the next 3 years…. only 3 and I’ve remembered every memory of it… Shit, I gotta stop thinking about it, I’m gonna start crying in class, and they’ll know something was up.

 

...that hit a nerve. Dieter, change of subject would be appreciated...

 

Dieter nodded taking it in. “So you signed up for piano too, can you play for us?” He asked quietly, he was hoping to see just how far this kid’s talent went.

 

Eren nodded and made his way to the grand piano, slowly to collect his thoughts and calm himself to brace for the rush of memories sitting in that damned stool would bring him. He sat down on the stiff black stool, looking at the magnificent ivory and ebony keys in front of him. He lifted a shaky hand to test out a few cords before he skimmed through a few pieces of sheet music. After a couple moments, Eren found a rather intricate piece of music. He took in a few deep breaths and then his shaky hands stilled. They flew over the keys with precision and fluidity. Eren didn’t skip a beat, not even when he had to turn the pages for the remainder of the song. He did the whole thing perfectly, without a single flaw. He knew he had let a tear fall as soon as he finished. It was mom’s favorite song, I know that by heart…. Eren quickly wiped his tear away before anyone could notice and was once again greeted by loud applause. Huh? Again? I’m not that good... Eren’s classmates didn’t seem to think that.

 

“That was amazing, Eren!” …you know it like the back of your hand. That was wonderful!

 

“How did you learn to sight-read that well?”

 

“That was absolutely beautiful! You play so well!”

 

Eren only shook his head. “No, no, no need for the applause, I’m really just a beginner.” he pleaded. He raised his arms in mock defense. “I’m really just a beginner at piano…” He trailed off and looked down. “I really don’t need the applause.” Eren was starting to show how uncomfortable he was with all the attention. Though of course, Dieter didn’t seem to notice.

 

“Nonsense Eren! You should be in the advanced classes! For either! Or private lessons! You could be going somewhere with that voice of yours.” Dieter said honestly.

 

Distress detected. Deflect. Armin kept his tone light. “Mr. Dieter, he just got back to school, don't stress him out about taking fancy new classes already.”

 

Eren sent a look of thanks over to Armin when the blonde interrupted Dieter’s tangent. Armin, you are a fucking life saver! Thank the fucking Lord you consider me worthy of your friendship! Eren silently gave Armin a thousand thanks as the subject was lifted off of him and onto Dieter again. Soon enough the whole class was chattering about gossip around the school. Eren gravitated towards Armin to actually thank him for the distraction.

 

“Before you say anything,” Armin raised his hands in mock surrender, a victorious grin on his face. “... Know that I recorded your entire performance of Halo and that if you don't sit with me at lunch Levi gets to see the entire. Fudging. Thing.” We already know I've won. Just go with it.

 

Eren seemed to pale as soon as the words left Armin’s mouth. “You wouldn’t…..” Eren just trailed off knowing that Armin would gain nothing if he showed Levi the video. It would only be him at a loss… so he would fucking do it…. “Am I currently being blackmailed to have my presence known at your lunch table?” He asked quizzically and carefully, trying to read the situation at hand. I do NOT want Levi to know that I can sing… nope, just another thing that he’d insult me with, that I sound like a girl when I sing…. Fuck it, I’ll sit with Armin at lunch, I guess… and that means I’ll have to eat, which means I’ll be throwing it all up again 7th period. Joy. Eren tried to not look disheartened but he couldn’t get the picture out of his mind. He swallowed thickly. “I guess it’s okay” he muttered quietly.

 

...Normally, when people talk or think about food, they don't get that morose. Armin quirked an eyebrow. “You alright, Eren? You look as if the thought of food disgusts you.”

 

Eren looked down at his hands. He shook his head. “It’s fine, I’m not going to be able to eat a whole lot though.” He told the other quietly. Do not fucking ask another question Armin, I swear to god if I need to open myself up to another person besides Lathe today, I’m going to fucking lose it!

 

Touchy subject… Okay. I'll file that one for later. “That's cool. My friends won't mind.”

 

Eren’s eyes widened a bit more. “Friends? Um… Who are these people?” He asked quietly, he was obviously nervous about being around other people.

 

“Connie Springer, Sasha Blouse, and Marco Bott. You'll meet Connie next period in German class. They're all really nice, don't worry.” Armin gave him a reassuring smile. We're all friendly people. Don't stress about it.

 

Eren nodded and looked at the clock. The bell rung almost instantly, making Eren jump a little in his seat. He got up along with Armin and followed the short blonde to their next class, where he would meet someone new.

 

Armin walked a bit faster than normal, throwing a glance over his shoulder to make sure he didn't lose Eren. “I just want us to get there a minute early so I can properly introduce you to Connie.” He’s gonna like you, I can tell already.

 

Eren nodded and followed after quietly. He stood a few inches taller than Armin, mostly because he wasn’t slouched over… or limping because of his back pain. He headed inside the classroom with Armin as various people piled in. His eyes soon landed on the guy they were heading towards, a teen shorter than Armin. Or maybe they’re the same height? I can’t tell from here. Eren watched as Armin went up to the smaller, Yeah, at least an inch, man. He silently watched their exchange of a few words before Armin pointed him out to this ‘Connie’.

 

“Connie, this is Eren. Eren, this Connie. Connie’s on the football team, so he knows Levi.” Now do the thing where you become friends.

 

Eren watched Connie stretch out a hand towards him. He took it in his own larger, tanned hand. After that though, the teacher, Mr. Schultz, came in and greeted everyone. What should I do, they’re speaking my mother language…. What the fuck am I supposed to say that won’t tip it off? SHIT. Eren tried to stay quiet and let everyone else talk around the room. He didn’t know what to do so he just watched. This was basics to him, something easy, but he didn’t want anyone to really know he wasn’t from America, from a different country. Nope, they don’t need to know I’m different. I don’t need everyone to turn on me. <“Why does this have to be so hard?”> Eren muttered under his breath. He didn’t even realize he had let his fluent tongue get the better of him and speak in class. The teacher was on him in seconds.

 

<“Eren Yeager, you already know German?”>

 

That sentence alone had caused Eren to freeze up and swallow hard. How do I respond to that? I don’t want them to know… No, only Lathe knows… that’s too many people already. Eren opened his mouth to speak after a few moments. <“Yes, I know how to speak fluently.”> Maybe I can get by with just that?

 

<“That’s good to hear- a student who I can talk to in class, wonderful! I expect good grades from you, young man.”>

 

Did I just sign a contract to keep Mr. Schultz entertained during class??? Fuck me, that’s three fuck ups today and it’s only 4th period! Eren seemed to relax a bit though, no one really bothered with any prying questions. They understood that he was a fluent speaker, while the other students were learning basics. Mr. Schultz didn’t really bother him that much either, so Eren found the class relaxing for the most part. It went by pretty quickly, which led to the two of them saying their goodbyes to Connie and heading off to English.

 

“Hey Armin… What are we doing in English? I know we read Julius Caesar, but what are we actually doing besides reading?” He asked Armin quietly. English had never been one of Eren’s strong suits.

 

...um. “Eren, we finished Julius Caesar. We're doing theme discussion spanning pretty much the whole thing at this point.” He was quiet for a moment, before asking in a deadpan voice. “You didn't read it, did you.” It was more of a statement than a question.

 

“Wait, what?” Eren asked in complete confusion. I don’t even understand what happened! First there was a lion in the street… and they didn’t kill it! Next there were some crazy dreams from a wise old man apparently…. Then I think a guy refused a crown…. But I think he wants it at the same time? And he had this party-guy who was by his side the whole time…. Didn’t like 100 different important people stab this wannabe guy? Then his party guy friend rants about it to the crowds… When the crowds gathered I have no fucking idea, they just kinda appeared. Then the city goes into chaos mode as party-guy summons up wannabe’s nephew to fight one of the hotshot stabbers. Yeah then people are like “On my honour…” and end up with a bunch of swords in their own guts…. Then I guess we parade them through the streets in some type of funeral thingy??? What the fuck was the point of this damn book again? Anyways… Short, abridged version… now Armin, I hope I understand enough to get through class. Which of course, he did infact know enough to at least understand some aspects of the class, though as the class continued he found himself more confused. Too many fucking names that sound too fucking similar! Eren let out a gasp in relief when they were let out of this confusing class.

“You looked like your brain was about to implode five minutes in. You doing alright?” Armin grinned at Eren’s very confused expression. That's what you get for not really reading the play. Or for not bothering with shmoop. ...Both.

 

Eren shook his head. “No, I read the book like three times, and I still don’t understand what the point is… I don’t understand the way it’s written either, it’s too confusing for me.” He said honestly to the other. They walked to the bustling cafeteria, Eren looking for the bald head which would indicate that Connie was sitting somewhere.

 

Armin pointed across the sea of students, waving. “He’s already got us a table. We sit kinda far away from the bigger tables. I don't see Sasha or Marco yet… scratch that, Sasha’s coming. Let’s get to our seats first before we try to say hi, alright? I'm going to head to the lunch line. Did you bring one, or are you coming with me?” Lunch is going to be... interesting, to say the least.

 

Eren nodded and followed Armin through the crowded section of the cafeteria. They passed Levi and Erwin’s table, thankfully not grabbing a lot of people’s attention. Eren sat down with his small container of salad. He was very quiet as he watched the other occupants with wide eyes, slightly fearful of the new people he was going to meet. Not fearful of them… No, fearful. I’m gonna fuck up again and everyone is gonna laugh and point fingers… Then I won’t be able to sit with Armin at lunch again.

 

“Hey, Connie! Eren’s gonna chill with us today, cool?” Armin smiled. This should all go rather well.

 

Connie nodded, grinning. “Of course! Go ahead Eren, sit wherever you like.” He motioned to the empty table.

 

Eren quietly nodded and he sat down two chairs from the left of Connie. He hoped that no one would sit next to him and that they would sit next to Connie. He put his small container of caesar salad down onto the table in front of them and he opened it carefully. Wait. I need a fork. Where's the table with all that sort of stuff? Eren looked around for what would be any semblance to a utensil station of sorts.

 

Connie noticed Eren looking all over the place. “What are you looking for?” He asked and wondered what he could be needing after Armin left. Though soon noticed,  He doesn’t have a fork . “Forks and all the other things you’ll need are over there” Connie said pointing towards the end of the lunch line. He was waiting for Armin and Sasha to get back so Eren wouldn’t sit alone, so that he could go get his mountain of food.

 

I don’t want to leave this table until Armin comes back, but it would seem really weird if I don’t get up now to get a fork to eat….. Dammit. Eren nodded and thanked him quietly, going off to find the table, locating it where Connie said, at the end of the lunch line. He tried to make himself seem as invisible as possible, weaving through people carefully and quietly. He finally reached the small table and grabbed a plastic fork, turning to look for Connie’s table again. Shit… where is it? I don’t see Connie anymore. Fuck, where is it? My bag’s over there… FUCK, where is it? I knew I shouldn’t have left until Armin came back! FUCK IT!

 

He doesn't remember where the table is, does he? Armin held tight to the tray in his right hand, patting Eren's elbow with his left to get his attention. “Eren, I've got my food. We can get back to the table. Connie got up, but we're over to the left, kinda near the back. I'll lead.” Armin led the way, weaving between tables with avoiding people and bags and chair legs with grace.

 

Eren watched Armin move and he followed after as close as he could. He fell behind a bit when they went through the crowd around Levi’s table. He stole a quick glance around, noticing that Levi was sitting beside Erwin chatting with him. Eren watched them for a few seconds before looking for Armin, soon finding the blonde and following after. He didn’t want to make too many people look at him. Just follow Armin. Just follow Armin. Eren followed the blonde and made it to the table a little bit after him. He sat down in front of his food, which happened to be next to Armin.

 

Connie left to go get his food since Eren was no longer alone at the table. “I’ll be back with food and Sasha.” he said robustly before he left to go to the lunch line.

 

Eren only watched before starting to pick at his already small salad.

 

... that’s it? That’s a really small salad. If you're still hungry I have some extra fruit if you’d want it.” Armin gestured with his fork to Eren’s salad. How are you not starving like the rest of the school population?

 

Eren shook his head. “No, it’s really no big deal.” He tried to eat more than half of his salad, though soon found it close to impossible. “Thank you for the offer, but I’ll pass.” He tried to seem as calm as possible but he was panicking on the inside. Shit, he fucking noticed.

 

You're panicking. Huh. Armin nudged his elbow. “You look like you've just been caught committing a crime. It’s fine.” ...still, though. I don't know what to make of this… Armin spotted Marco from across the room, his light grey button-up as pristine as ever. Armin pointed him out to Eren. “That’s Marco in the grey shirt. He’s really nice. Quiet, though. You'll get along fine.” Armin tried to reassure Eren. I have a feeling this’ll be alright.

 

Eren only nodded and closed up his container and set it aside for now, he wouldn't be able to eat anything else, and he knew that. He watched as Marco came up to the table with his lunch in hand.

 

Marco slid into the seat across from Eren. “Hi, you must be Eren. It's a pleasure to meet you. I’m Marco. Marco Bott.” He smiled brightly at the both of them.

 

Eren smiled back, though it was a shy smile. “It’s nice to meet you too.” Eren said before he watched Connie and a girl return. They have so much food, they each have three trays of food… How do they eat all of that? Eren stared at the two of them with wide eyes. Connie sat down next to Marco, in his original seat, and Sasha sat beside him on the other side. Eren watched with wide eyes as they started to dig into the huge amount of food they had.

 

“So, are you guys going to the football game this Friday?” Connie finally broke the silence at the table before shoving more food into his mouth. Sasha only nodded, but that was to be expected since the two of the eaters were a thing. But Eren didn’t know that. “There’s a pep rally after school in the gym before the game, if you can’t stay for the game.” Connie spoke after his mouth he was clear of food and he seemed insistent on Armin and Eren coming to either occasion.

 

Eren looked to Armin with wide eyes. The new people were a bit much to deal with, and very insistent… very insistent is an understatement, it’s like he’s pressuring us to go. Armin, help please! Eren silently begged to be helped out in a situation he had no idea what to do in.

 

Eren’s about to dissolve into panic if he doesn't have an excuse. ...Wait. That’s an excuse! “Hey Connie, Eren’s just getting back into the swing of things. I wouldn't push it too much. He’d come if he wanted to and were up to it.” Armin tried to placate Connie. He can be overwhelming…

Connie nodded. “Alright, not this time, but we’ll drag him along sometime soon… Oh, I know! We can bring him next week to have him watch us kick some Sina ass!” Connie said excitedly.

 

Eren just watched as Connie and Sasha bickered about how their own team had in fact not beaten Sina’s football team in a number of matches against them. So Eren just remained quiet and watched. The two of them went back and forth for a long time. Sometimes Marco spoke up and  brought a good point to the argument, and the two started off their bickering all over again. Eren didn’t really pay them much mind until Sasha looked over to his salad container. “Hey, Eren… Are you gonna eat that?” She asked and looked to his unfinished salad.

 

“Sasha! He’s new to the table! Don’t ask for his food yet!” Connie tried to reprimand his girlfriend. “Sorry, Eren, we were both cursed with bottomless pits as stomachs-” Connie stopped his sheepish rant when he saw Eren push his salad container towards Sasha.

 

“Ah! Thank you Eren! You’re awesome!” She said loudly, like there was no way to turn her volume down. She squeaked in joy as she got to eat the rest of Eren’s salad.

 

Eren took the contained back once it was empty and he didn’t speak again for the rest of the lunch period, which was pretty much done by that point. The bell to signal the next hour was coming sounded only a few minutes after that.

 

Armin stood, lifting his tray with one hand and bag with the other, pushing the chair back under the table with his foot. “To history! Mr. Hannes is teaching us about China. We're at the Han Dynasty. You should be fine.” Dumping his trash into a garbage can and leaving the tray, he led the way to class.

 

Eren nodded and stayed completely silent during class. Mr. Hannes didn’t even really notice the new addition to the class, he just started teaching once everyone was in a seat. He wrote notes on a whiteboard and answered questions, as hands were raised. Class was pretty quiet, and people took diligent notes, as expected from the honors class. Eren blended right in. He was silent, and he liked that he wasn’t noticed.

 

Before Armin knew it, the bell had rung, and they were already in math class. Geometry. Too many boring shapes. I know how to do proofs, it’s not that hard. He still took notes, though his mind wandered. Eren really shut himself out of lunch today, I think… how does one ask about something like that? ...Dunno. Right now, more shapes. Joy. The time passed too slowly for Armin’s liking. Eren’s not even trying to raise his hand. But he finishes each question really quickly… Armin practically sighed in relief when the bell rang. I'm so done with this class.

 

World religions and philosophy wasn't exactly entertaining either, though Armin realized halfway through class that Eren had barely moved or done more than blink. What is up with him? He’s miles away, that’s for sure. But why? He was fine until lunch. Armin blinked. Lunch. ….I'm not letting this go. We need to talk after class or something. He’s totally drawn into himself, and we’re not having that.

 

The bell sounded, and everyone stood up to leave, ready to go home. Armin stood and picked up his bag, but Eren spoke before he could.

 

“Armin, could you come with me to the pharmacy on Trost? I don’t exactly know where it is.” His voice was as calm as ever. Please say yes, I don’t want to go alone… Please say yes.

 

Armin’s eyes widened a bit in surprise. “Of course. It's not that far from here. Let’s go.” This is now happening. Armin led him to a street to their left as they walked out the front door, walking down a street lined with small stores. Just ask. Couldn't hurt much. “Eren, have you been doing okay? You seemed to clam up after lunch; You barely talked.”

 

Eren shook his head. “I’m not good with meeting new people... like, at all. I'm sorry if I worried you.” He hoped Armin would come into the pharmacy with him. They had gotten there pretty quickly. He looked at the door, swallowing hard, looking at the slips of paper in his hand. There seems to be a lot of them… Fuck it, I can’t do this, I’m sorry Lathe. Eren took a step back, like he was ready to turn around and bolt back home..

 

...That's a lot of paper. He needs that much stuff? Armin watched as Eren seemed ready to bail. Oh no no no no no, not happening. Armin gently put his hand on Eren’s shoulder, pushing open the door with the other and ushering Eren inside. “Well come on, we're not just standing outside and getting cold.” He made sure Eren got over the threshold, and crossed it himself, hearing the small chime of a bell over his head.

 

A man with short curly hair manned the manned the counter, a coffee mug in one hand, typing on an ancient keyboard with another. He looked up as they entered, smiling brightly. “Hello! How can I help you?”

 

Armin brought Eren across the small store, pushing him in front of him. Do what you dragged me here for!

 

Eren tried to speak, find something to say. What do I tell him? Eren couldn’t think of anything to say, so instead opted for putting his stack of prescriptions on the counter for the man to see. He didn’t really know what to do or where to find the purple-haired male that Lathe had mentioned earlier in the day.

 

The blonde just stared at the small pile of papers. Isn't that handwriting… He noted the insignia in the corner. After a moment of silence, “Casper?” he called over his shoulder, past rows of boxes and jars.

 

A box hit the floor, followed by the man in question leaning out from behind one of the tall shelves. “Yeah?” He peered with dark eyes to the pile of papers on the counter, a light of recognition flitting past in them. “Right! One sec!”  He quickly disappeared, soon bringing a brown bag with some things already in it to the counter, picking up the papers and shuffling through them. “I've got that, and that, that one’s on a shelf out front, I'll grab that in a second… oh, he mentioned one on the phone! I need that one too…” He turned on his heel to the shelf just behind him, skimming over the boxes and snatching one halfway down. Dropping it in the bag, the phone rang. The blonde picked up right away.

 

“Trost pharmaceuticals, how may I help you?” He listened for a moment. “He’s busy right now, helping someone with a pretty tall order.” The voice on the other end got a bit louder. “Okay, I'll get it then.” Another pause. “I won't let him, don't worry. I'll do it right now. Anything else while you think of it?” One more moment. “...that’s a very good idea, actually. Should I mark those as well? …Alright. Got it. And yes, we have the file, it’s open right in front of me. We did the math, adjusted the dosages, it’s all fine. Do you still need to talk to Casper, though?”

 

“Who needs to talk to me?” Casper took the phone out of his hand, holding it to his ear and ignoring the following protests. The blonde soon just gave up, and went to the back shelves. “Hello? Oh hi! Yeah, I'm doing the thing.” He held the phone against his shoulder, flipping through the note papers. “Pretty sure I got everything you wrote down, and James is getting whatever you told him to get. It’s all marked, don't worry.” A pause. “Yes, in both cases. Yes, it’s big letters… I was about to give him the spiel.” He grinned. “It’s all taken care of.” He watched as James dropped two more things into the bag. “...good call, by the way. Is the date on that?” He inquired to James, who nodded. “Good. Now, is that everything you could possibly think of?” A second of silence. “Cool. I'll do the thing. ...Uh, yeah, there is.” He eyed Armin. “...Uh.” He pulled the receiver from his mouth, addressing Armin. “What’s your name?”

 

Who’s he talking to? “Uh… Armin.”

 

“Armin.” He went right back to the person on the line, typing quickly in the computer. Lines of text filled the screen. “...yeah, he is. ...You want me to do what now?” His eyebrows disappeared under his hair, and he looked at Armin. “...Alright.” He slowly took the phone, handing it to Armin over the counter. “...it’s for you.”

 

...who calls a pharmacy to try and talk to me. That’s not a thing… Armin took the phone, eyeing it with suspicion. He held it to his ear. “...Hello?”

 

“Hey Armin! It’s Lathe. I was your substitute teacher in chem this morning.”

 

...Why are you calling me. “...O-kay. What do you need?” This is already the weirdest phone call I've ever received.

 

“I know you're probably standing there next to Eren staring at a bag filled with all sorts of medicines and pills and stuff, pretty concerned. I'd just like you to know, now that you're in on this, that it’s all for his own good. Try not to bug him too much about it, alright?”

 

“Alright. I won't.” Much. “Anything else?”

 

“Yeah. Lemme talk to Eren.”

 

O-Kay. This is happening. Armin handed the phone to Eren, looking rather confused and amused. “It’s apparently for you.” Casper snickered behind the counter.

 

Eren took the phone from Armin, giving him another glance to try and decipher who the hell was on the other end. He swallowed hard. “H-Hello?” He asked quietly and his voice seemed timid thanks to the stutter reappearing.

 

“Hey kid! I'm glad I caught you! You doin’ okay? I know there’s a lot of stuff on the counter for you but don't freak out, it’s really not that bad. Just make sure to listen to Casper and everything he tells you, alright?”

 

“A-alright… I can do that.” Eren’s voice seemed to have calmed down a bit already, with just a few words from Lathe. He swallowed hard. “D-do I need to take all of them, Lathe?” He asked quietly, like a child who didn’t want to take his medications because they tasted bad. There’s so many, I’m going to forget to take them… Or I’m going to overdose… shit, well an OD wouldn’t be that bad I guess…. I mean, it’s just me now….. Dad wouldn’t care at all….. Eren’s thoughts started to go more towards a suicidal way out of things before Lathe’s voice snapped him out.

 

“...Don't think like that, Eren. It's daunting, I know, but you have people who care about you and want you to get better. Most them you have to take daily, yes, but the nausea one’s for whenever you may need it and the burn cream’s for every other day. It is a lot. But we want you to get better.”

 

“B-but Lathe….” Eren trailed off knowing that Lathe was right and he couldn’t really argue against it. If Lathe was attempting to heal him, he would let the young man try and fix his broken and battered body… It’s the mental part that can’t be fixed…. But no one knows that. Eren just let out a small sigh and nodded, even though Lathe couldn’t see it. “Alright.” Eren mumbled the last word into the receiver.

 

“Good! I'm still going to need to check on you in the morning and make sure the medications don't conflict with each other, but because I never really know what I'm doing until I get to the school… yeah, I'll just have to find your house and check on you before you leave for school. I'll probably be knocking on your door at eight. Besides, you stole my kerchief. That's a good enough reason as any to hunt you down.” His voice was filled with mischief. If we're going to start you on this path to getting better, we’re going to do it right. “That a plan?”

 

Eren took a moment to take in Lathe’s words. “Yeah, that sounds good then…” Eren trailed off and looked to Armin and Casper. He hoped neither of them could hear their conversation. It would be so fucking embarrassing.

 

“Alright! I'll see you then. Now hand me back to Casper, please.”

 

“Okay.” Eren moved the phone from his ear and held it out to Casper before going to stand closer to Armin. New people…. I don’t like them yet….

 

“Now what? You're so high-maintenance.” Casper joked. He listened, laughing. “That works. Alright. I'll talk to you soon. Bye.” He put the phone back on the hook, addressing Eren and Armin. “One sec.” He walked through a door to his left onto the floor of the store, grabbing a jar of vitamins, some extra wraps and hooks, and a pill container with the different days of the week stamped onto their seven caps. He went back behind the counter, placing it on the counter below, where the two couldn't see them. Taking a sharpie, he scribbled some numbers on the bottom of the bottle. “Alright. I have a speech to give. Eren, pay attention. This is important.”

 

“I hope you know what this is.” He held up the long plastic pill container, grinning as he nodded. “There are a lot of pills in this bag, so it’s easiest to use it and refill it at the beginning of the week. The only pill you will not put in here, and instead carry with you,” He held up one of the larger containers. “...are these, for nausea, to be taken whenever needed. Other than that, it’s pretty simple. One of each, including the vitamins, every day in the morning when you wake up, with a glass of water, or as much as you can manage. These,” He lifted a bottle with a magenta label. “...are morphine tablets. You can take a second one at lunch time if you feel you need it, so I'd have these on you as well. And these,” The second-largest bottle of the group was lifted, a sky-blue label on the front. “Will also help with your nightmares. Take one a half hour before you go to bed. This cream in the silver tube is for any burns, and you really only need to apply it every other day or so, when you change your wrappings. There’s stuff in here too for dry skin, and for cleaning cuts...And don't worry about memorizing all this- the bottles have big labels with exactly what to do on them, and there’s a sheet in here with everything I just told you.

 

Well, now Armin knows I’m in a lot of pain, I've got burns on my body, I have nightmares, and that I need nausea pills to eat… well, hopefully he won’t go around and tell everyone at school. When he doesn’t, I will be his best friend for longer than life.

 

...That’s a lot. That’s how bad it is? My god… Armin just brought his hand up to rest of Eren’s shoulder, seeing his distress. You can trust me to know this. I'm not going to go telling anyone all that.

 

Casper quietly finished packing the bottles and things back up, folding the top over twice and stapling it shut. He slid it over to Eren, smiling softly. “Here you go, Eren. You'll be alright.” There was a reassuring light in his eye. Lathe’s watching out for you. There’s no way you won't be alright.

 

Eren nodded his thanks to Casper. He took the large bag of pills and he looked over to Armin. “Ready to go home?” He asked quietly to the other. He was really quiet, and he seemed to be a little on edge as they stayed there longer.

 

“Yeah, of course. Let’s go. Thanks Casper, James!” Armin waved goodbye to the two of them, thankful for their friendliness.

 

The two of them walked home in silence, Armin deciding to follow Eren all the way home and walk the extra two miles to make sure that Eren did infact make it inside his house. Eren put his bookbag near his desk, pulling out the little homework he had. He finished it rather quickly before going to sort out his pills.

Chapter Text

Lathe was a real songbird.


Whistling a sweet old tune, he walked across the parking lot to the field, his visibly metal-toed boots clicking quietly on the asphalt. His bag, put back in order after this morning's ordeal, bounced lightly against his hip, his left arm holding the strap at the front end. He watched the few remaining leaves on the trees sway in the wind, many more fallen leaves haphazardly flying with the wind across the lot, swirling around him before dancing off elsewhere. One hand came up to tug at his collar.

I'm going to need to bring my scarf soon- especially with it getting windy.

He ran his fingers through his hair, looking more unruly than usual with the wind. He soon returned to skimming the faraway faces of the football players, just starting to pack up.

It isn't going to be easy to tell the kid... but I need to. He deserves to know what's wrong, and how we're aiming to fix all of it.




He thought of his conversation with Casper, and with Armin.

That's


one


person enlisted for the cause, and technically Armin's in on it now, since he was there for the whole speech, so I'm going to be optimistic and make it two. Well, counting me, technically three. The lunch ladies would then make eight, and Levi...

Lathe found his face in the group.

...will hopefully make nine.

Lathe ceased his whistling on a low note, getting close enough to be noticed as heading for the group, and not for a car. Lathe stepped onto the field, studying the group as some of the jocks glanced up, watching him approach.

I don't want to attract too much attention. Play it cool, and don't be suspicious. Out of character equals suspicious.

Lathe grinned cheekily as he got close, noting some of the players finished with packing lingering, unsure if he needed them.


"At ease. I'm just here for Ackerman."


Levi looked up at his name, surprise scripted in his eyes.

Why me?

He zipped his bag, his eyes soon filled with worry.

...is it Eren? He


was


kept after class, so...

Levi hoisted his bag over his shoulder, trying to remain calm.

It's probably nothing.

"Yes, Mr. Quo?"


"It's Lathe. I'm not big on titles."

Does


everyone


think I say 'call me whatever the hell you want' for funsies?




"...Lathe. What do you need me for?"

Is it Eren please don't be Eren




"Come on, let's walk. Do you have a ride to catch?" Lathe ushered Levi onward, walking off the field and apart from the others, letting his thumbs catch in his pockets, still holding onto the front strap of his bag.

 

"...No, I don't. I normally just walk back to my apartment from here. It's two minutes away." Oh no.


"Alright. My bike's parked up here, we'll just wander over." Here goes nothing. "Levi, this is regarding Eren. Don't panic please, he's alright." He smiled reassuringly at him. "I know you two are involved, so I thought you had a right to know why I kept him after class and what I know from a medical standpoint."

...Involved? But, we're not... or are we? Levi stuttered, looking for the right words. "I don't really think you could say we're... involved, I mean... It's not like I'm his..." Levi gulped nervously. "...I'm not his... his boyfriend or anything..." ...why am I telling you this?

...this whole thing is too cute. "Levi, even if you're not official, I saw you holding hands with him under the table for practically the entirety of class."

Levi could feel himself start to blush, on the defensive. "He was going to have a panic attack!"

"And I am sorry about that. I didn't know he had a thing about fire. But even so," Lathe watched Levi's eyes. "I know you spent at least last night at his house." Lathe grinned as Levi flushed scarlet. Gotcha.

Levi hid his burning face in his hands, muffling his voice. Nooooooo... This is not okay... no one should've known about that. “...How do you…”

Lathe chuckled. "Levi, it's alright. It's cute, honestly. But that's besides the point. The point being," His tone softened. "Eren means a lot to you. And you mean a lot to him." Lathe took a deep breath. "Which is why I need your help."

...what. "What do you mean?" Levi brought his hands away from his face, looking at Lathe with worry. What happened...

Lathe sounded very serious. "I kept Eren after class because I could tell he was in distress... and I could tell at least his arms weren't exactly doing very well." He studied Levi's blank face, returning his gaze to the ground. "He ended up staying for the entirety of second period in the classroom for an impromptu medical evaluation. And the short of it is, he needs help. A lot of it. Not only do you deserve to know about it, but I hope you'll help wage the war for Eren's well being." ... The thing with a lot of teenagers these days is that they can be much more mature than they let on, so please, do me a favor and be one of them.

They stopped in front of a gleaming red Harley, classic and eye-catching. But Levi was too worried to appreciate the bike. "...What exactly is wrong?"

Lathe took off his messenger bag, placing it on the seat of the bike next to a black helmet, and turned back to him, leaning carefully on it. "A lot, and it won't do any good to dance around it all, so brace yourself. Eren has PTSD, is severely malnourished and an insomniac, mostly due to recurring nightmares as a result of said PTSD, which your presence last night staved off. He has depression, and countless physical injuries, which his depression... adds to." He looked at Levi’s broken expression, knowing he understood. "I know he has some sort of knife in his backpack- one thing you should do is get rid of it. Or them. Any." Lathe shivered at the thought of Eren gagged. "But more importantly, he's going to be on a cocktail of drugs for a bit. Check and make sure he’s taking them as he should, okay? The instructions should be rather clear on the bottles, and the pharmacist should have given him the spiel by now, but just make sure for me that they're not empty way before or after the date on the bottom of the bottles. Just shake them a bit and make sure something’s left when you're around. And most importantly, food. He needs to start building up to eating three meals a day again. I don't care if it's breakfast time and he can't stomach more than one lettuce leaf. Make him eat the damn lettuce leaf. We need to train his body to recognize normal eating times again. Armin’s kinda-sorta in on all this- well, all I really know that he knows is that Eren needs a lot of medications. He went with him to the pharmacy to get everything. I wouldn't worry about him spilling any of it. And the lunch ladies know to offer him light stuff, encourage him to eat something whenever he goes through the line. I'm going to be around for anything he needs- really. Anything. I just hope that everything works out. But you really do mean a lot to him, and he’s being really hard on himself about all of this. Help him keep his head up. Can you do that?” Lathe ended his speech with a hopeful look. It’s so much… I wouldn't be too surprised if you backed down now. ...I don't think I could hold it against you.

 

...That is so much… Levi was silent for a moment, eyes skimming the ground, taking this all in. ...He needs to get better. “...Of course I can. I can do that.” He looked up from his shoes, looking Lathe in the eyes. If Eren trusted you enough and told you enough to determine all that, then I trust you.

 

Lathe gave him a toothy grin, relieved. This'll work. “Glad to hear that, Levi. And just in case, let me put my number in your phone. If something were to happen, I'm on call 24/7.”

 

That's a good idea. Levi reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone. Pressing a few buttons, he handed it to Lathe.

 

Lathe began tapping away. Okay, phone number... I'll just leave my name as Lathe in his contacts, it'll make things less confusing for times of emergency, God forbid there ever really is one… and… sent! Now I have his number in my phone. Handing the phone back to Levi, he smirked. “If it’s something dire, call me. If I hear it ringing, I'll drop everything and find you two. Text first for smaller stuff, alright? I'll let you go; You probably have homework to not do.” He winked. “Good luck with the bf, by the way.” He snickered as Levi blushed again, turning to latch his bag in place near the rear wheel. He grabbed the helmet off the seat. “I dunno when I'll see you around again, because I never know where I'm going to be until I walk in. If you see me, make sure to say hi, cool?” He swung his leg over the bike, rifling in his pocket for the keys.

 

Levi took a step back, only now actually registering the fact his teacher rode a Harley . “S-sure, Lathe.” He gave him room to start the bike, getting one last smirk before the black helmet hid Lathe’s face, the kickstand going up. He waved as the bike moved from it’s space near the field, out toward the back exit. That. Is a kickass bike. His head still spinning with everything dumped on him, he headed to his apartment to ditch his stuff. To visit Eren or not to visit Eren…

 

That is the question.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Eren was quiet… Actually the whole house was quiet. He swallowed looking down at the mess of pills on his barren kitchen table. He had lined everything up, taking out his nausea pills separately. He put them aside, clear of the container he was filling up. Eren also separated his sleeping pills from everything as well. Don’t want to take those in the morning. He took the container and opened all the flaps for the container and started filling them with vitamins. He sighed once he was done, he looked at the morphine bottle. He slowly opened it. I could end it here, surely these are strong enough to kill me, I probably wouldn’t even need to take the whole bottle. I could do it… No one would care… Armin could show Levi the video, Levi could go back to hanging around with the popular crowd and get a new Chemistry partner. He really wanted that, I bet he would be happy that he wouldn’t need to bother with me. I'm being selfish in wanting him to stay with me. Eren watched with solemn eyes, all the brightness from before, leaving them. They were now a dull shade of teal. He watched as the pills rolled out of the bottle, he had way more than seven in his hand… He was filling it. Morphine’s magic… It’ll make me disappear… Eren’s shaky hand lifted the obscene amount of pills towards his mouth, only it never made it. He opened his closed eyes and looked up to see cold silver eyes staring down at him.

 

Fuck when did Levi get in here?  Eren’s ears were ringing as he moved to snatch his hand from Levi’s grasp, effectively dumping the large amount of pills all over the clean floor. He looked down watching them. Shit, why is he so quiet? Why’s Levi not saying anything? Why is he here? Why did he have to stop me? Why? Eren swallowed thickly and got off the chair to start picking them up.

 

Now wait just a goddamned second. Levi stepped around the table and caught Eren in his arms before he could do anything more than stand up. He just pulled him into his chest, one arm around his waist, the other coming up to tangle in his hair, bowing his head and resting his forehead on Eren’s shoulder. I need you to listen to me first. “Eren.” His voice was very quiet. “... please.” It was all he could think of to say, but there was so much force behind it.

 

Eren heard the force behind Levi’s words. “Levi, let me go” he said calmly. He was struggling weakly to get out of Levi’s grasp. “Levi, let go!” He struggled weakly. Levi was holding onto him tightly, and it made him feel cramped in a small space. His eyes had become fearful all over again. He knew Levi knew that he was trying to kill himself with the pills now. “Levi… Let… Go” his voice cracked, he had started crying, he didn’t want Levi to be here. How did he get in?

 

...I don't want to let go of you… I can't … I just walked in on you… trying to… Levi softly ran his fingers through Eren’s hair. He… if I hadn't taken that key, he... Levi let out a shaky breath, loosening his grip in the slightest, but not letting him go. “Eren, I…” His voice broke, and he willed himself not to break down. No. You can't fall apart now. Stay with me here, Levi. He's okay now, you got here in time. For now, he's fine.

 

Eren started to shake in his arms. “Let go, let go” he begged and struggled more. He moved a little too much and he felt the skin on his back tear in a new spot. He let out a shrill cry of pain and almost immediately slumped down in Levi’s arms. He started crying profusely; It hurt so much more with the pills starting to wear out. He could feel the blood starting to soak into his bandages. He cried out in more pain, finally becoming completely still in Levi’s arms. He was crying heavily, it hurt more without the morphine because he could now feel every single crack in his back, not just the new one.

 

Shit. Levi moved to catch Eren’s limp form, trying to pick him up and avoid his back at the same time. The couch. I need to set him on the couch. Levi tried to move Eren to the living room, giving up on trying to half-drag him after a moment and finally just picking him up bridal-style. That's gotta hurt, but I need to get you somewhere better than a kitchen floor. Levi saw Eren’s tears, wishing he had a free hand to wipe them away from his face. He made large strides to the couch, setting him down very carefully, moving the few pillows there so he could get Eren to lay down on his front. Now what now what now what uh… didn't Lathe say earlier he had pain meds? Levi picked his way back to the table, avoiding stepping on pills and seeing the sheet on the table. He skimmed it quickly. Morphine in the magenta bottle… wait. He looked at the floor. That’s what those are. He quickly read what was next to it. Take as needed… so, one? Maybe? Better too little than too much; He can always have another. He snatched one from the floor, dusting it off and and moving to find a glass in the cupboards, filling the first one he saw with water. He moved back to Eren’s side again. “Eren, you need to take this. It'll help.” He held out the small magenta pill. Please, just this.

 

Eren held out a shaky hand and he took the magenta pill. He took it, and drank some water with it to help it go down. He was crying harder as he moved, and the smell of blood started to surface in the room. He was still crying out in pain every time he moved.

 

This is a lot worse than I think it is, isn't it. I need to know how bad it is. Levi ghosted one hand near the hem of Eren’s sweatshirt, asking. “Eren, I need to see how bad it is. We need you out of this sweatshirt, okay?” Remain calm. You need to be calm for the both of you right now.

 

Eren could only nod. He knew that it would be really painful to have it removed, but he knew he had been bleeding through his bandages and in one of the worse spots it was bleeding through his shirt, soaking it thoroughly.

 

Okay. You can do this. You can do this. Levi started by pulling his sleeves straight, making sure the hooks in his arm wraps wouldn't catch. He started from his waist and shifted it slowly upward and over his head, pulling the bunches smooth every few inches. It was slow going, and Levi could see the few flecks of blood on the pads of his fingers before he was hit with the smell. Levi swallowed hard. Oh my god. Levi finished getting the dark fabric over Eren’s head, barely able to see the dark outlines of large blood spots all over his black shirt. There’s so much blood and the pain meds haven't kicked in yet and I don't know if Eren can keep moving to get rid of his shirt and…

 

Lathe. Call Lathe. You have his number. He’s know what to do. He has to know.

 

Levi hurriedly reached for his phone, fumbling with it before finding his contact and pressing the call button. He held it to his ear, silently panicking. It picked up in one ring.

 

“I'm coming, kid. Sit tight.”

 

The call ended at that. Levi just looked at his phone, looked to Eren, looked back to his phone.

 

Fuck, did he just call Lathe? No, he’s gonna be pissed at me…. He’s gonna yell, he’s gonna hit me. Eren was starting to freak out for another reason. He didn’t want to have Lathe beat him… No, he can’t… he can’t come…. No please anything but that. “Please-” Eren begged Levi. “Don’t let him in…” He begged, reaching out for the other teen, but he cried out in more pain. One of the outlines got even bigger on the back of his shirt. He cried out; It was a gut-wrenching noise, one that made you want to stop whatever you were doing and help the poor kid. Eren was crying profusely, the wound on his back was much larger than any of them, stretching from one shoulder all the way down his back to the third degree burns and opening them up as well. The tears kept falling, and the pain pills weren’t kicking in yet.

 

Levi turned his head towards the front of the house, hearing the roar of a motorcycle engine get closer and closer. It stopped abruptly in front of the house, hearing footsteps run to the front door, Lathe punching it with the side of his fist once, hard, before opening it and scanning the front rooms.

 

He saw the magenta dots scattered all over the floor of the kitchen, the cold of the inside, the darkness that seemed to loom over him, and the barrenness of the house. He heard shifting to his left, and swung the door shut behind him without looking back to it, bag in hand and rushing to Eren’s side in an instant. He unwound his scarf from his neck and tossed it behind him quickly, dropping his bag and rolling up his sleeves, walking swiftly into the kitchen to wash his hands. His shoes clicked on the tile, a pill or two scattering as he kicked them. He was done in an instant, back to rifling through his bag. He assessed the situation, and removed a pair of scissors from his bag. He turned to Levi. He spoke with a gentle tone. “Levi, how about you clean up those pills from the kitchen? I've got him.” Lathe turned to Eren, carding his fingers through his hair. “You're going to be fine, Eren. Don't worry. Either of you.”

 

Levi could only nod and turn to find a broom, stunned at this development. ...He’ll be… alright. Levi just swept the floor of the kitchen slowly, staring miles away.

 

Lathe addressed Eren, voice apologetic. “I can't let you move any more than you absolutely have to, kid. I hope this wasn't your favorite shirt.” Before Eren could question that, Lathe cut the back of the shirt off, removing it completely so he could get to his entire back. He quickly moved from his position to the kitchen, dropping the soaked fabric in the sink. He returned to do the same with the bandages, cutting off strip after strip to reveal his whole back, using the parts still relatively untouched to clear some of the blood and let him see his wounds better. That one long gash up his entire back is the real culprit here… He pressed the lump of bandages against the wound to hopefully staunch some of the bleeding. ... It’s pretty deep, too… It clicked. He needs stitches.

 

Eren let out a shrill screech when his back was touched again. He was close to having another panic attack because of the pain. He was freaking out; this was not about to go smoothly. Eren needed to be calmed down. Eren screamed, again, his whole body shaking and trying to get away from Lathe’s touches.

 

“Levi, we need you in here.” Lathe called to him in the kitchen, hearing the broom immediately clatter to the floor. He watched Levi immediately fall to his knees next to him, looking at Eren’s wounds in terror.

 

...Holy fuck. “Eren…” Remember. Calm. He turned back to Lathe, swallowing down his fear. “What do you need me to do?”

 

You're quite the brave one. I admire that. Lathe looked him dead in the eye. “I need to give Eren stitches. I'll give him some more morphine and use a bit of numbing cream, but it's not going to be enough, and I don't want to knock him out. It's not at all safe. It’s your job to keep him calm, and still enough that I can work.” Lathe had a stony expression.

 

Morphine. “I already gave him a morphine tablet… right before I called you.” Please tell me that was okay

 

Lathe nodded. “They really can be taken on a situational basis. If he needs them, he can take them. I know he had three about… ten hours ago. I've got fresh ones in my bag. One more should be okay, and they'll start kicking in soon enough. Is that his glass on the table?” Lathe dug in his bag with his free hand, nodding to the empty glass sitting on the coffee table.

 

“Yeah. I'll get more water.” Levi stood, hurriedly going to fill it from the tap.

 

Lathe removed a small metal box, opening it and digging around, moving a spool of thread and a case with curved needles onto it’s lid. He reached into his bag for the fresh morphine pills, tossing it to Levi as he came back into the room. “One.” He looked to the small pile of blood-soaked bandages, moving his arm quickly off of it to thread a needle, tying a tight knot at the end. This isn't going to be pretty. Where’s my gauze...

 

Levi knelt back down next to Eren, putting the glass on the floor before opening the bottle and taking out one of the pills inside. He coaxed Eren, trying to get him to swallow it, ready to help him drink the water.

 

Eren cried out and struggled to move away from Lathe’s hands. He was in fear. He was remembering all the times his father stitched him up, doing a horrible job so that the gashes got infected. Eren was so afraid, he looked to the pill and his mind thought of it as the anesthetic his father had used to knock him out to rape him. He started to cry even harder and struggled to move away, effectively opening his wounds further, letting a horrible sound rip from his throat in an attempt to stave off the pain.

 

You just need to work and get this done with. Levi has his job, and it’s something only he can do. Lathe reached for fresh gauze, taking the stained bandages and rising quickly to get rid of them in the sink. He returned, immediately putting gentle pressure back on his wound, rummaging for numbing cream. He found latex gloves in his bag, putting them on quickly and applying the cream around the wound with those on so that he could still sew, getting as close to the edge of the wound as he could. Everything besides Eren’s wound, he completely blocked out.

 

Levi looked to Lathe for help, finding none. He’s gone into full-on Doctor mode. A chandelier could fall to the floor a foot away from him and shatter, and he wouldn't notice. He focused on Eren, seeing the panic in his eyes. ...Just do what you think is right. It doesn't matter that Lathe is right there. Just act. Levi brought his left hand up hold Eren’s hand closest to him, his right running softly through his hair, petting behind his ear, cradling the back of his neck. I've got you. You're alright. ...then tell him that because he’s no psychic! “Eren, I've got you. Look at me.” Levi moved to lock eyes with Eren, seeing so much pain and fear. He wiped his tears away with his thumb. “We've got you. Lathe is going to sew you back up, and it might not be painless, but you're going to be only better after this.” Levi leaned forward, pressing his lips to his forehead. He mumbled into his hair. “I've got you.” Levi glanced to his arm as something red was draped over his arm. ... A kerchief. Huh. We may need that.

 

The kid had it in his pocket. He’s probably going to still need it for now. Lathe just put away the numbing cream, retrieving the curved needle and moving the topmost piece of gauze to reveal the beginning of the huge gash. This is not going to be pretty… but we need to. He nodded to Levi, and started the line of stitches, moving as fast as he could, pressing his arm down against the gauze to keep it pressurized as he went- and to try and keep Eren from moving.

 

Eren started to thrash as soon he understood what was happening. He started screaming. “No! Daddy! Stop! I promise I'll be a good boy! I promise!” He cried and he managed to get out of Lathe’s grasp, off the couch and scrambled across the room, leaving a trail of blood in his path, cut bandages falling from his stomach. His eyes had glazed over, his panic attack in full swing. “I’ll be a good boy” he cried quietly and reached to hug himself in the corner of the room, so afraid of the two figures in front of him.

 

Lathe had somehow managed to catch the thread and the scissors as Eren passed him, snipping it In a flash of silver and catching the needle before it hit the floor. He couldn't let that complicate things even further. He put down his tools in the lid of the surgical box and spoke to Levi, his eyes not leaving Eren’s trembling form. “I really don't want to knock him out. He's lost too much blood for that, and at this point, he’d be so mentally scarred from that he’d scream in terror every time he sees me. Tying him down isn't an option either. But he needs to calm down. Do you have any ideas? I don't know much we can do with him cornered like that…” Lathe trailed off. Words aren't going to get through to him, I don't think. Then what…”

 

Levi just stared at Eren. “I… I don't think I have any.”

 

They just stood there for a moment, watching Eren fall apart.

 

That's when Lathe started to sing.

 

His voice was soft and deep, a gentle smile on his face, and he focused very intently on Eren’s expression, watching how it changed as the slow, foreign words left his tongue.

 

Der Mond ist aufgegangen,

Die goldnen Sternlein prangen

Am Himmel hell und klar;

Der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget,

Und aus den Wiesen steiget

Der weiße Nebel wunderbar.

 

Wie ist die Welt so stille,

Und in der Dämmrung Hülle

So traulich und so hold!

Als eine stille Kammer,

Wo ihr des Tages Jammer

Verschlafen und vergessen sollt.

 

Eren listened to Lathe with shocked ears. He listened, to Lathe singing his mother’s favorite song. He slowly started to relax as he heard the words he thought he would never hear again. He felt the rush of warm tears roll down his cheeks. He started to crawl towards them, crying softly. But he continued to sing the rest of the words Lathe had sung just moments before.

 

Seht ihr den Mond dort stehen?

Er ist nur halb zu sehen,

Und ist doch rund und schön!

So sind wohl manche Sachen,

Die wir getrost belachen,

Weil unsere Augen sie nicht sehn.

 

Wir stolze Menschenkinder

Sind eitel arme Sünder

Und wissen gar nicht viel;

Wir spinnen Luftgespinste

Und suchen viele Künste

Und kommen weiter von dem Ziel.

 

Eren had finally made it to Lathe and clung to his shirt like a panicked child. He couldn’t feel anything on his back thanks to the morphine, and he was finally out of his panicked state. He whimpered though and held onto him like a child. He couldn’t feel a majority of his back, but the throbbing sensation was still there. He wanted them to make it go away. He was much calmer now, his mind replaced with thoughts of his gentle mother, and he wanted more.

 

Lathe had slowly lowered himself to sit on the floor, feeling for the red silk Levi had dropped, pulling Eren into him, careful of his back. We need to finish this. Wiping his tears away gently with the red fabric, he spoke. “Eren, I need to finish getting your back fixed up, okay? It’ll all be done before you know it.”

 

Eren nodded but still clung to him like a child. “Mommy?” He asked with hopeful eyes. He wanted his Mom, his mind was still in shambles, and with the return of his mother’s favorite song, he wanted to see his mother again, only he couldn’t. Though that information had to be kept under wraps for risk of him losing it again.

 

Levi just stared at Lathe, cradling Eren and mumbling to him in a language he didn't understand. HOW THE FUCK DID HE DO THAT?! Eren goes from panicked and in shambles in the corner to a calm, crying mess in Lathe’s arms in two minutes! That song… What was it? It’s beautiful, and obviously not English… Where would he have learned that?

 

Do you have to keep breaking my heart, kid? Mum’s… “Mommy will be home soon, Eren. But we need to get you stitched up. Will you let me?” It’s the blood loss. I don't have much time, do I? He held out his hand for Eren to take, to pull them from the floor. I don't know what else I'm supposed to tell you...

 

Eren nodded and released his grip from Lathe and turned his attention to Levi instead. He held onto him, expecting to be held back. He was completely unaware of how much blood he was in fact losing. His mind was still in complete disarray. Eren kept his grip on Levi’s shirt and sniffled as he curled up to him. “I want mommy…” He murmured and his tongue was slipping, showing off a thick accent of sorts.

 

Lathe motioned frantically to Levi. COUCH. NOW. Lathe moved with Levi to steer Eren back onto his stomach on the couch, letting him ramble on in either German or English so accented it wasn't really English anymore. Lathe picked the needle back up and rethreaded it, stopping to tie off the loose ends he first left. He snipped the ends, and picked up the curved needle, sending Levi a pointed look before beginning once more, pressing gauze back down on to the gash with his arm and sewing as quickly as he could manage while still being accurate and neat. It was over in less than two minutes, the ends of the knot where the gash stopped and the burn began cut. Burns, you don't stitch that. I put burn cream on it this morning… I just need to wrap that carefully with extra gauze padding and leave it. That’s all I can do for that. Lathe fished more gauze from his bag, placing it over the stitches before reaching for wraps. He needs to be off his stomach for this, but his back needs to be level… Hands and knees. Come on… “Help me get him on his hands and knees so I can wrap him correctly.”  He moved to guide Eren’s waist up.

 

Levi just did as he was told, watching shocked as Eren quietly ranted, getting his chest off the couch. Lathe moved impossibly fast, hooking the bandages together over his shoulder quickly and pinning the gauze in place. He barely needed three rolls to finish it.

 

Lathe let Eren collapse back onto the couch giggling, hiccuping and looking around the room in drunken mirth, his eyes soon glazing over. They fluttered shut, his smile fading as he drifted into sleep.

 

Levi fell back on his heels, exhausted. It’s over.

 

It was not. Lathe, though he stopped for a moment, now had wide eyes as he studied Eren, asleep. Asleep. He's asleep. Oh no no no no no… He immediately dug for a larger metal case, looking around the room frantically. He spotted a floor lamp across the room with a twist switch just under it’s globe. Perfect. “Levi, I need that floor lamp over here, about where you're sitting. Fast.” He clicked the box open, a plastic IV of isotonic saline solution sitting inside. He's lost so much blood… He's asleep, sure, but we need him to wake up too. He waited for Levi to set down the unplugged light before rolling Eren onto his back with his help, dangling the IV from the switch of the light and inserting the needle in Eren’s arm, padding it with gauze and taping it down. Only then did he stop, running his hands through his hair and letting out a ragged breath, trying to explain. “Isotonic saline solution. For the blood he lost.” He tried to process what just happened. ...Now. Answers. “Levi, we need to talk about everything that just occurred.” He sounded tired, much older than he really was. I need to sit down. Eh, it’s a nice carpet. ...where it isn't covered in blood. He sat down across from Levi.

 

Levi just looked at him with dulled eyes. I'm too tired… So much has happened… “Lathe, I-” his voice cracked, but he shook his head, trying desperately to clear it. This is important. You can handle this. He looked up again, meeting Lathe’s gaze. “...Yeah?”

 

“Why was there morphine all over the kitchen floor?” He spoke quietly, evenly.

 

The pills… so many of them... “He-” Levi gulped, trying to breathe. Just say it. Get it out. “He tried to take it all at once. I stopped him.” Levi felt a tear streak down his cheek, hiding his face in his hands. He took in a shaking breath.

 

...That was a lot of pills to give to one depressed, insecure teenager. Shit. I'll change around how many doses of what he has available to him later. But now… Lathe shifted over to be next to Levi, putting an arm around his shoulders. He rubbed his arm gently. “He’s going to be okay now. You getting here in time was an absolute miracle. He’s not going back to school tomorrow though, I know that much; He lost so much blood. He needs to stay put for a little bit. But he’s going to get better. Much better.”

 

Levi rubbed at his eyes with his sleeve, letting himself lean against Lathe, his head on his shoulder, staring ahead of him at nothing in particular. ...that song was lovely… what was it? “Lathe?” His voice was small. “That song… what was it?”

 

Lathe’s eyes roamed the floor, saddened. “ Der Mond ist aufgegangen. It's German. Eren’s mother…” He trailed off, pondering a moment. He should know at least something. He started again. “Eren’s originally from Germany, I don't know if you know that. His mother, she loved music. She loved to sing, play instruments like the piano… Eren got his love of music from her. I knew only one of the more popular German songs that was slower than your ordinary pop song. I guess…” He watched Eren’s chest rise and fall. “...He must have heard it before.”

 

Levi’s brow furrowed. “If he knew German, why doesn't he have an accent? You'd never be able to tell…”

 

Lathe sighed. “That was the point. Coming to America, learning English, he didn't want to be teased for talking oddly any more than he already was for not knowing a lick of English to begin with.”

 

Levi understood that. He looked off into space, remembering one more thing. “His mother… he's never talked about her before. Where is she?”

 

Lathe was quiet.

 

...Oh. “...she isn't coming home, is she?”

 

The silence lasted a minute more, Lathe’s voice, heavy with fatigue, finally breaking it. “...No.”

 

Lathe just started talking, about the Mac n’ Cheese, his mother's death, blaming himself for it and being blamed by his father. Lathe ghosted over the specifics, but he got the idea.

 

“So that’s why Grisha always beat Eren? Enough to put him in the hospital? Just because he blamed his own child for murdering his wife?” Levi finally felt like all the pieces fit into place regarding Eren’s mysterious past. Now he knew almost everything about the boy. “I wish I would’ve got to him that morning… Maybe it wouldn’t have turned out this way.” Levi’s voice was cracking as he thought of the ‘what if’s. He struggled to keep himself calm, but he knew better than to break down. No, I can’t risk waking Eren up, not when he’s gotten to sleep after this ordeal.

 

...more ‘what if’s. There are always so many of those. “What are you going on about, Levi?” Lathe quirked an eyebrow at his mumbling.

 

Levi looked over to Eren’s sleeping frame on the couch. “Well, he’s my lab partner for chem… So after class I gave him my number and threatened that if he didn’t give me the notes I would beat him up….” Levi paused closing his own eyes and running a pale hand through his dark hair. I sound like a complete douche… Well I guess I kinda was until I spent 5 weeks staring at his sleeping face. “I was pissed at first because he didn’t send me the notes we took for our lab- I didn’t get anything from him… I got a call at 3:07 in the morning that night…. I thought it was just Erwin looking for a ride home after getting drunk off his ass. I thought that because my phone didn’t recognize the number-” Levi’s voice cracked a little as the events of that night played over in his head. No, be strong… Lathe should know how much of an asshole you are… I mean, really. I don’t see how the Brat could trust me after what I did . “It wasn’t Erwin… It was Eren, and his voice sounded hurt… But I thought it might have been Eren who was drunk and looking for a ride. I didn’t realize that he needed to go to a hospital. And I yelled at him, because  I was pissed at him for waking me up, I even offered to come pick him up from wherever the hell he was, but he hung up, and he didn't text me again.” Levi ran another hand through his hair before he put it on the ground to straighten out his back a little. He noticed that Eren’s figure was shifting a bit. “Lathe, he’s gonna wake up soon.” He warned knowing Eren might panic as soon as he woke up. But Levi, that happened when you were in bed with him… He panicked be cause of that. Yeah, but it’s safer to prepare for it then be sorry later!

 

Lathe tucked his legs under him, shifting forward and placing a gentle hand over where the IV entered Eren's arm. “We can't have him freaking out and hurting himself with this; he needs to keep this in.” Lathe motioned to his right with his head. “Get on my other side, and hold his hand. If he starts freaking out as much as he first did with the stitches, pin his legs. I'll get his arms and start singing again. Hopefully he won't be delirious this time.” Lathe watched Eren’s face for shifting. “We all need to talk.”

 

Levi moved to his knees, getting to Lathe’s right and taking Eren’s hand. He ran his thumb over the knuckles lightly, waiting and ready to act.

 

Eren’s eyes started to flutter open a few minutes after he felt the pressure on his right arm. He felt someone holding his hand and he wondered what the hell was going on. He cracked open his eyes and felt like a ton of bricks had hit him. This is worse than the hangover from two bottles of vodka…. Fuck, what happened? Eren blinked a few times to get the hazy picture clearer. He first saw Levi and almost immediately began to relax, though when he looked over to Lathe holding his arm he shifted to move away from Lathe. He still wasn’t all that trusting of him after what he did. Don’t hit me. Don’t hit me. Don’t hit me.

 

Lathe immediately took his hands off his arm, holding them up in surrender and shuffling backwards a foot away from the couch. Anything to keep that IV in. “Sorry if I scared you, Eren. I'll stay over here for now. How are you feeling?” You don't look crazed; That's a plus.

 

Eren tried to shift his body over towards Levi, so he could curl up into his arms, though he soon found out that that was physically impossible, not even counting the tether attached to his arm. He looked to the IV with widened eyes. His head snapping between the bag, the needle in his arm, and Levi. He was ignoring Lathe’s question and giving Levi a confused look every time his teal eyes met Levi’s steely ones. He wasn’t completely back with them yet; His eyes were still dull, not carrying their usual vibrance.

 

He doesn't look completely… There. “It’s just for the blood you lost. Don't worry.” Levi saw him try to shift, understanding what he was trying to do. He moved a bit closer, to his left, letting his right hand hold Eren’s, his left going to cradle his neck, careful of the IV, to play with the hair at the base of his neck. Lathe’s just going to have to deal. “Everything went well. You're just going to need to take it easy for a while.”

 

Eren watched as Levi shifted. He felt more comfortable with Levi holding him, even if it was only around his neck, and not completely in his lap. He kept his eyes trained on Levi for a bit, but the vibrance never returned to his eyes. He slowly turned his head towards Lathe now that he felt more comfortable. “..... Happ…..en?” Eren tried to talk, but his throat felt so scratchy and dry. It feels like I’ve been screaming for a long time… Shit, why can’t I remember?

 

...he doesn't remember that? He did have a panic attack, and he wasn't himself at all in that… and he sounds pretty awful. He needs water. Lots of it. “Let me get you some more water, Eren, and I'll tell you everything that happened, alright?” He slowly moved to take the glass from the table behind him, going to fill it from the tap. He was back in a moment, but for a moment, he hesitated. “Can you sit up more at all?” The glass was back on the table for then.

 

Levi moved to grab a pillow from near Eren’s feet, trying to gently prop Eren up. This is going to take a while… he might as well get comfortable. His hand left Eren’s to take the water, helping to hold it to his lips.

 

...I'll just stay back for right now. Levi’s got that part of this whole mess under control. Lathe sat back down on the carpet, rubbing the back of his neck. He slowly tried to find the right words for everything. Where to start… “I got a call, about- I think, an hour ago. It came up as Levi in my phone, and I had just given him my number for emergencies, to call me without texting or anything else if something were to happen. I dropped everything, grabbed my stuff, and came over here. You were… On the couch, bleeding really badly. I had to cut you out of your shirt- sorry about that- and your bandages. You needed stitches, desperately. I think I gave you around, what, twenty at least? I did that, padded the cuts with gauze, and rewrapped you. That IV in your arm,” he nodded to it, “is what is called an isotonic saline solution. It’s intended really to replace the amount of blood you lost. There are no drugs in it, so it isn't going to do much more than maybe make your head clearer, hydrate you a bit more at the very most. Oh, and by the way, you're not going to school tomorrow. You are going to be chilling at home for a while. You can't move too much with the damage to your back. It's too risky.” Lathe sighed, his head bowed. This is too much...

 

Eren blinked a few times. He took sips of water as Levi held the glass to his lips. He sometimes coughed at it when Levi tilted it too far back, but he never complained. He was listening to Lathe, but it didn’t seem right. How the fuck do I not remember that? I would’ve panicked…. But Lathe isn’t saying that I panicked or anything…. I feel like I did something that I haven’t done in awhile…. But, shouldn’t Lathe be angry with me? I wanted to end it all… How did Levi get in? I should probably ask. Eren lifted his left hand to get Levi to pull the glass away from him. Wait, did he just say I can’t go to school? Well sorry Levi, you’re not gonna have a lab partner to rely on.  “--ho-w…..in?” He finally managed, his voice still scratchy and dry. His eyes still latched onto Levi’s; Lathe forgotten for the moment, he wanted answers.

 

Lathe quirked an eyebrow. This isn't working too well. English, anyone? Where’s some paper… Lathe tugged his bag closer to him, fishing out a pen and some blank stationery. He nudged Levi’s elbow with the pen, holding his free hand out for the glass. “Let him write it down. He shouldn't speak.”

 

Levi gave him the glass, taking the paper and pen without moving his left hand from Eren’s neck. He gave them to Eren, watching him write.

 

~ How did you get in? I thought I locked the doors?~ Eren eyes looked even duller, if that was even humanly possible. He hadn’t wanted Levi to come in, he wanted to be alone and do it. To get his sorry excuse for a life over with.

 

Levi slowly shook his head. “The key I used yesterday to get in, the one over the back door, I kinda put it in my pocket as I ran over to you. And I was actually the one who locked the front door this morning. I guess you were too distracted by my ranting about waffles to notice.” Levi’s eyes fell. I'm just really glad I had it.”

 

~ Why are you glad? I thought you wanted me gone ~ Eren’s hand was shaking, a good sign to see that he was crying, and trying to hide it. Though of course he failed miserably and started to hiccup and sniffle. ~ I thought you wanted a new lab partner…. I thought you wanted to hang out with the popular crowd again, not an outcast like me…. I… I… ~ Eren dropped the pad of paper and let it fall onto the ground along with the pen. He then took his now free hands and he covered his face as he sobbed. He finally let all his insecurities surface. It showed how much he didn’t trust people, and how much a few words someone said could mess with his mind.

 

...Eren… did I make you think that this entire time? Levi moved his foot under him, letting him come up and kiss Eren’s forehead. He mumbled into his hair. “I don't want a new lab partner. I've already got one.” Please understand I don't hate you. Please understand I really like you. Please just understand…

 

Eren kept his face covered with his hands. He continued to sob quietly. He didn’t know how to respond to that. He had never thought he was wanted by anyone. No, Grisha made it quite clear, that I won’t be wanted by anyone…. No one would love me, not after what I did to mom. Eren swallowed hard, his hand reaching up to hold onto Levi’s. Hold me dammit. I want you to hold me… please Levi, even if it’s only this one time. His sobbing was starting to subside.

 

Levi heard him loud and clear. I think I can maneuver around the IV… “Move over.” Levi nudged Eren to his left, helping him shift before slowly, and careful of his arm, he laid down next to him, one arm over his stomach and the other under behind his neck, curling up to play with his hair. He leaned his head on his shoulder, letting out a shaky breath. You mean too much to me...

 

Eren shifted and let Levi lay beside him. He curled up to the other and he sniffled as he held onto the other’s shirt. He leaned his head against Levi’s. They looked worse for wear, the both of them. Eren’s face was blotchy, his eyes bloodshot from crying so hard. He looked pale, but color was slowly returning to his tan limbs. Eren hiccuped every now and then, and the motion quaked through his whole body. He started to tremble a little bit as he felt Levi play with his dampened locks. He knew he was hot because Levi’s skin felt cool under his neck. I feel so cold though, that’s odd.

 

He's so warm… Too warm. Levi felt Eren’s forehead with the back of his hand. He has a fever. Of course. Levi turned to Lathe, who was trying to be quiet as he put his bag back together from being strewn across the floor.

 

He felt Levi’s eyes on him, and spoke quietly before Levi could. “I'm not ditching you, kid, I'm just making sure I didn't lose a needle or anything.” He looked up, noticing his concern. “What's wrong?”

 

Levi kept the back of his hand on Eren’s forehead. “He’s burning up, Lathe.” He tried to pull Eren a little closer to his body. He feels so warm…. Is this why he was out of it when he had a panic attack? How did I not notice it before? Levi looked over Eren’s body and watched as Eren took in weak and steady breaths once he had calmed down again. I know he’s staring at me… I can feel the Brat’s eyes following my face every time I move. Levi looked back over to Lathe to see how he would handle this. I hope it’s not from something being infected… that could turn out really bad. Eren doesn’t need that, he doesn’t need to go to the hospital anymore.

 

...think. Lathe watched Eren shiver. He declared after a moment of silence. “...It's probably not infection. My guess is with so much blood lost, he's just much more prone to getting sick at the moment. His body is torn between healing wounds, and fighting off germs. He's going to be sick for much longer than normal. I'd say… eh, I'd give it a week at most. Where’s a blanket…” Lathe looked around the room, seeing nothing. “I'm going to find one upstairs. Don't try anything funny while I'm gone. I'll be right back.” He had a glint in his eye as he walked to the stairs, boots clomping on his way up.

 

Eren turned his attention to Levi once again. “S...school….w...wor...k” He finally got the words out to Levi with a few tries and he tiredly put his head against Levi’s head. My whole body feels like lead, and I want to sleep… but I don’t think I can… and they probably want to yell at me for what I did. Fuck it, I want to believe these arms won’t yell at me… but that’s not possible is it? Eren’s eyes seemed to have a little more life to them. Even with his fever he was starting to come back to reality the longer he stayed awake.

 

Stop worrying about school for right now… You have plenty else to think about. “I'll make sure you get your schoolwork, and every note there ever was for your classes. Don't stress about it. As for chem, I'll just work with Armin and Erwin. Hopefully they won't mind.” He smirked. You're starting to look a bit more like yourself. Good.

 

Lathe descended the steps a bit more quietly this time, holding a thick black comforter. “This was all I could find. Sorry, Eren, I stole it from your room. Levi, will you be okay with this much blanket on you, or should I fold it or something?” I can't have two overheating students. One I can handle. But two? Na.

 

Levi nodded and he helped to situate the comforter over Eren and himself. He didn’t mind the extra warmth. It helped with how cold the house was. It was dark too, almost as if the lights hadn’t been turned on in ages. There was barely any furniture, some of it was broken, and some broken pieces had blood over them, no doubt it was Eren’s with how abusive his father was. The kitchen looked worse. The tile flooring had numerous slits throughout it's entirety, and if one was curious, they would find that it was the same size around them all…. The same knife… The marks also made an appearance on the walls around the floor, almost like they had been thrown with the amount of force it would take to penetrate the floor or the wall itself. Eren’s kitchen was also practically barren of food. There was almost nothing of nutritional value there, besides one container of salad and a few slices of pizza that the kid would never eat in a million years. The pills had scattered themselves on the floor, forgotten where they were, and one box of pasta sat on one shelf in the pantry.

 

Lathe left Levi and Eren situated on the couch, scanning the living room before slowly walking into the kitchen. He picked up the broom from where it lay abandoned on the floor, sweeping the pills and dust and dirt into a small pile in the corner. I'll deal with that later. He leaned the broom against the wall, going to open the fridge. Nothing of real use. He closed it quietly, and went to open the pantry. One box of pasta. He closed the door. No wonder you're so painfully thin. It's not only that you can't eat because it'd come back up, it's a bit that you can't because you don't really have any food. He turned back to look at the kitchen. The room was dark, grey. He moved to flick on more lights. One bulb above the stove flickered in yellow light, the rest in the room either burned out or missing. He shivered, really feeling the cold for the first time...This is too depressing. I need to fix this. Lathe walked back into the living room, stepping quietly over to the scarf he discarded, wrapping it back around his neck. He addressed Levi. “I won't be gone more than an hour. My bag’s staying here in case you need anything from it, which you shouldn't, as long as Eren doesn't move much. My phone is always on for you two. Just stay calm, the both of you. Relax.” He ruffled their hair, sending the both of them a warm smile. “I'll be back soon. Stay out of trouble.” He walked to the front door, quietly shutting it behind him before striding over to his bike, picking up the old-fashioned riding goggles he’d dropped in his rush to get inside, donning them. They'll be fine. You've got shopping to do. Kicking up the stand, he started the engine and rode back to get his car.

 

Eren turned his head weakly towards Levi. “L….Le….vi” Eren managed with his scratchy throat. He moved to get his hand against Levi’s shirt to grab it again. He wanted to hold onto the other, even if he could only grab his shirt. He felt safe in Levi’s arms, and it was warm, he liked finally having something warm to hold onto after living in this cold house for only a week… but it was like this in all his previous homes, cold, unforgiving, dark…. So that if anyone looked in they wouldn’t see the blood when his father had beat him. Eren tried to nestle himself closer to Levi, but whined when he found that moving anything besides his arms and head was basically impossible.

 

Levi shifted a bit more to be on his side, allowing himself to be more fully pressed against Eren, kicking his shoes off the side of the couch and tangling their legs together. He pressed another kiss to Eren’s temple. I've got you. Don't worry. “Try not to speak too much, your throat doesn't sound up to it. Do you want the pen and paper back?”

 

Eren shook his head as he buried himself into Levi’s arms. His whole body was warm, alarmingly so. He was really quiet as he stayed curled up to Levi. You haven’t asked why yet… Are you waiting for Lathe to beat me? I know he’s going to…. Dad would do the same, patch me up, just to beat me again. Before he knew it, Eren was sobbing again.

 

“Eren, nobody’s going to hurt you anymore. We're not mad at you or anything like that. I promise. You're fine.”

 

“L….a….the…. M….ad?” He asked the other through his sobs. He sniffled and hiccupped. At least he couldn’t feel the pain in his chest because of the morphine.

 

“He’s not mad at you, he's just worried sick. If he was mad, he wouldn't have worked so hard to make you feel better.” Levi nuzzled his nose behind Eren’s ear.

 

He was right; Lathe wasn't mad. Somewhere, he was standing in a grocery store, metal-toed boots tapping on stone tiles as he tried to find lightbulbs, thinking how ridiculously crazy everything had gotten in less than one day.

 

Eren only nodded. “No…… Mad?” He asked, his voice finally starting to come back to him. Please say you're not mad, please say you’re not mad.

 

...How else am I supposed to prove to you we’re not mad? I could never be mad at you. “Eren, I-” Words did not come. ...just do what feels right. So he did. Levi moved his head,

 

And kissed him.

 

Eren’s eyes widened a fraction. He felt Levi’s soft lips against his own. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He was too shocked to do anything about it. He didn't know if he should continue, or pull away. What the hell is he doing? He’s kissing me!! What the fuck do I do!?!? Eren didn’t know what to do, so he just kissed back.

 

He's kissing back. He's kissing back! Levi let his hand drift up from Eren’s waist to his cheek, tilting his head for a better angle. His lips moved slowly against Eren’s, his eyes closed, just letting himself revel in the feeling of Eren’s mouth moving with his own.

 

Eren soon had to pull back to breathe, taking in air harshly. His eyes looked better, and had completely turned back to their beautiful viridian green. He slowly moved a hand up to his lips. Holy shit! He just kissed me! And I kissed back! Holy shit! What do I do now? I don’t know what to do. So Eren just laid there with wide eyes… His face flushed completely red. Would it be bad if I asked him to do it again? “...C-can… you…?”

 

Levi took in sharp breaths of air, awestruck. Eren fucking kissed me back. And YES! He let out a breathy laugh, lights dancing past his eyes, before pressing his lips against Eren’s again, the smallest bit more forceful.

 

Eren’s eyes widened slightly, before he let them slide shut. He let Levi kiss him, basking in the glory that was a kiss from the hottest guy in school. This is happening… HOLY FUCK! This is happening! He’s actually kissing me! Holy shit! Kiss me more, please! It feels so good! Eren turned his head a bit and met Levi’s forceful kiss. He was a bit timid in the kiss, not really understanding how he should go about it. Of course Levi knows how to kiss, he’s probably been with half the girls in the school. ...Stop it, he’s with you right now… Yeah, but for how long? Eren’s mind again returned to shambles but he allowed for Levi to continue.

 

Levi ran his thumb along Eren’s jaw, slowing down as he noted how timid Eren was in kissing back. You feel so wonderful… How on Earth did I end up lucky enough to get to kiss you?

 

Eren gave a soft whimper into Levi’s lips as his thumb grazed a sensitive part of his jaw. He blushed all the way to his ears as he pulled back to breathe. His lidded eyes slowly opened and revealed his gorgeous eyes, complete with golden flakes around the iris. He giggled a little as he stared at Levi, not really believing what had just happened.

 

Levi breathed heavily, blushing as he met Eren’s eyes. Those beautiful eyes. ...I want to hear that again. Levi dove back in, his movements slow and languid. He lightly brushed his tongue against Eren’s lips. Please.

 

Eren felt something else brush up against his lip. Is that his tongue? What am I supposed to do? What is he even trying to do? I don’t understand. Eren slowly parted his lips, giving access to Levi, but Eren wasn’t exactly sure what the hell was going on. He did what felt right, pressing their chests up together as much as possible, and even their hips. Eren really didn’t know why he was reacting to a kiss in such a way.

 

Levi shifted, practically on top of Eren, though he leaned on his left arm, careful not to crush him. YES! He slid his tongue past Eren’s lips, gently beginning to map out his mouth, finding Eren’s tongue. You taste amazing, like cinnamon and vanilla...

 

Eren shuddered as Levi pushed his tongue into his mouth. He gave a soft moan when their tongues collided in the small space. This is fucking amazing… Holy shit, if he doesn’t stop I’m going to get hard, and I do not want to explain that! No no no! He’ll think I’ll be lusting after him…. No… He doesn’t know Dad’s raped me… He doesn’t know I’m a whore… Eren tried to close off his mouth, so unsure of what he should be doing right now. He didn’t know, having never experienced love reciprocated… Only hate.

 

...why are you…? Levi pulled back in confusion with a gasp for air, seeing Eren’s eyes clouded with hesitance, and shame. “What's wrong, Eren? Did I do something wrong?” Levi braced for the worst. Oh god don't tell me I suck at kissing.

 

Eren looked up to him completely confused. “N-no…. But why?” He asked softly. He wanted to know why Levi was kissing him. He thought his love was one sided on his part, but he had no idea. He’s kissing me like I'm the purest thing in the world… I’m not Levi… I’m nowhere near that.

 

...Words, do not fail me now. “Because you’re handsome, and wonderful to be around, and because I want to.” Levi bowed his head and kissed him again, slipping his tongue back into Eren’s mouth. ...that's one way to say it.

 

Eren shuddered again. He parted his mouth for him once he started to lean down. His tongue raised to meet Levi’s as it entered his mouth. He finally was able to savor the taste of Levi’s own tongue. He tastes so clean… Like mouthwash… Hmm… Did he stop home after practice, before he came here?.... He said he wanted to do this, too. Does that mean he likes me? Or does that mean he just wants an interesting fuck before he tosses me aside? ...Fuck it, we’re going to believe in him for once and let him continue, broken heart be damned!  Eren raised his untethered arm up around Levi’s strong shoulders. He could feel the strong muscles flex under his shirt as Levi leaned down a bit more. Their kiss becoming hotter, neither of them realized what was going on around them.

 

“A-hem.”

 

Shocked, Levi pulled away, turning quickly back onto his own half of the couch, blushing scarlet to his ears. Oh my God, the man’s a fucking ninja… not okay. Levi covered his face with his free hand, looking through his fingers at Lathe, carrying a large paper bag in his arm.

 

Eren looked over at Lathe as soon as Levi pulled away. He slumped back down into the couch, his breath hitched and ragged as he attempted to calm himself down. Lathe, you saved me from an embarrassing story, thank you… But please refrain from using stealth mode… You're gonna give me a fucking heart attack! Eren’s whole face was flushed as he looked over to the man standing there. “L….athe,” he called. His voice sounded much better, and his eyes had returned to their natural brilliance.

 

Called it. “Sorry for interrupting.” Lathe quirked one eyebrow, noting their embarrassment, smirking at their reaction. He looked pointedly at Levi. “Just making sure you're not causing our patient too much… distress.” He grinned devilishly, wagging his eyebrow. “Dinner in an hour or less.” With that, he walked to the kitchen through the hall, setting down his bag and going to retrieve more from his car parked outside.

 

Oh my God Lathe nooooo…. stop it… Levi shook his head slowly, so embarrassed by Lathe’s antics. If anything, his face had gotten a more vibrant shade of red.

 

Eren looked back to Levi. He raised his free hand and gently touched Levi’s cheek. He had a small smile on his face, and he seemed to be content with life at the moment. “T-thanks” he murmured quietly. His voice no longer as hoarse as it once was, though it seemed that his body had heated up another degree due to their make out session.

 

Lathe hip-checked the car door shut, carrying the last of the bags inside, walking through the hall to the kitchen. He fished for a box of soft yellow bulbs, squinting to see if he’d picked the right ones from the bag. That’s it. He scanned the ceiling quickly, looking for a free socket. He decided to start above the kitchen table, leaning over it to unscrew an old bulb, tossing it in the trash can under the sink before screwing in the new one. Light flooded the room, and Lathe looked around, thankful he was able to see more than he-

 

A black leather belt, stained with blood, sat coiled in a far corner, tiny shreds of skin still visible on the gleaming silver buckle.

 

Oh my God. Lathe covered his mouth with his hand in shock, thinking for a moment. I can't touch it. Spades would have my head. He forced himself to turn away, to finish putting lights in around the kitchen, so he could see what he was doing. He took a moment to enter the living room again, to remove the globe from the floor lamp and put in a new bulb, replacing it and plugging it into an outlet next to the couch. Soft yellow light illuminated the room, though it only made the brokenness of the furniture, the drips of blood in the carpet more obvious. I can try and clean all this up later. First, keep them both from starving. Lathe set celery and carrots on the counter, along with a bag of wide spiral noodles and a jar of chicken bouillon. Of course. He went about boiling a pot of water on the stove, adding the bouillon and chopping the vegetables into small pieces. He found three bowls in the cupboard, waiting for the noodles to finish softening before spooning the soup into them, carrying the first one with a little bit in it to Eren first, handing him a spoon. “You don't have to finish it, but I would like you to try to.” Lathe retrieved the bowl for Levi, before hesitating with his own. He decided to sit at the kitchen table and give the two of them some space, pulling out his phone and typing furiously.

 

Eren looked down at the small amount of chicken noodle soup in his bowl. That looks like way too much… Levi, I’m not even the slightest bit hungry. “L...Levi, I’m not hungry…” He said, looking down with a defeated look. He didn’t even want to try to eat any of that soup, because he knew it would just come right back up. I don’t want to eat… Please don’t make me, I’ll just throw it right up. Eren shifted from where he was sitting up. Levi had sat him up when Lathe had mentioned food, so now he rested with his back against the couch. He looked down at the bowl of soup in his lap, and he felt disgusted just by looking at it. It made him feel nauseous right away with the rich smell that was wafting off of the homemade soup. Lathe, I can’t, even though you went to the trouble of making this… I can’t…. Eren clutched at his stomach, starting to feel sick already, and not wanting to throw up with nothing in his stomach. No, that is much worse, pure stomach acid is a bitch.

 

Lathe looked up from his phone and his soup as he waited for a reply, studying the abandoned setup that once was Eren sorting his pills. He looked at a container set aside, absentmindedly reading the label. ...Nausea pills. I forgot. Lathe snatched the bottle from the table and walked back to the couch, opening the cap and taking out a pill as he spoke. “I'm sorry Eren, I somehow managed to forget you needed these to eat, take this and I'll get you a glass of water to sip from and you should be able to eat some of that soup in a couple minutes.” He handed Eren the pill, going to grab a glass of water. You're an idiot, you know that?

 

Eren looked at the pill and then down at his food. He swallowed the pill, he waited patiently for his water.  I hope I’ll be able to eat, this looks delicious. Eren looked down at the warm bowl in his lap before looking over to see Levi eating beside him. I wonder if it's good?

 

Lathe returned with a clean glass, handing it to Eren and letting him drink before Eren handed it back. “Just give it a minute or so. Then, you should be able to eat.” Lathe smiled warmly, leaving them to their own devices. He sat back down at the counter, sorting the pills on the table into the pill calendar as he waited for text responses.

 

The teen nodded, sipping every so often from the glass in his hand. He was quiet and he watched Levi eat, before glancing towards the kitchen table where he saw Lathe moving pills into the container, before looking at his phone and typing quickly, his thumbs flying over the tiny keys. I wonder what he’s texting so feverishly about? He turned his gaze back to Levi. “Um… Can you tell Armin I won’t be at school tomorrow?” He asked quietly with his head down. “So, I won’t be able to sit at the lunch table with him….” Eren trailed off and looked down at his food, feeling the nausea subside a bit so he slowly sipped at the food, letting out a soft groan, his tastebuds were flooded with goodness. He hurriedly moved to get another spoonful of food. His mouth was watering at the taste of a home cooked meal. He felt tears fall onto his hands and didn’t realize he was crying. It tastes incredible… I want more . Eren continued to eat the whole bowl and looked towards Levi for more, knowing that he couldn’t get up.

 

Levi looked up, stunned that Eren had eaten so much so quickly. He saw the look in Eren’s eye. Message received. He leaned forward, putting his bowl on the table before taking Eren’s empty one to the pot, filling it as much as Lathe had for him. He looked to Lathe, who had noticed him get up.

 

Lathe pointed to Eren and mouthed, ‘For him?’

 

Levi nodded, and Lathe beamed, returning to his pill sorting. He carefully walked back and handed Eren the warm bowl.

 

Eren thanked him quietly and started eating from the bowl, but it wasn’t as rushed as before. He was still eating like he hadn’t eaten in forever. He was still crying, not really caring. It’s too good to fucking care if Levi and Lathe see. It’s so good… I haven’t eaten something like this in years.

 

He's crying. And eating like a starved wolf. Which is great, since he's so thin… which I guess also explains the crying. Levi nudged his foot with his own, smiling at Eren between spoonfuls of soup.

 

Eren finished up his bowl, and sat and watched it. He was starting to feel full for the first time in a long time. It felt so good to actually be able to consume food. He looked up to Levi again. “C-can I have a little more?” He asked quietly.

 

...More? Wow. Those things Lathe gave him work. “Of course.” Levi took Eren’s bowl in his right hand, his own finished one in the other, and went back into the kitchen. About to put his bowl in the sink, he stopped at the sight of the bandages and fabric in the left half of it. ...right side of the sink it is. He placed down his bowl, putting one more spoonful into Eren’s and handing it back to him, reclaiming his spot next to him.

 

Lathe watched Eren eating from his place at the kitchen table, shocked. How is he eating that much? He’s so tiny, and if he hasn't eaten an actual meal in years, how can he manage it?

 

Eren thanked him and finished off the bowl, soon handing it back. “It feels good to eat” he murmured and smiled from ear to ear for the first time in a long time. He knew he wouldn’t be able to hold the food down if he ate much more, so he didn’t request another bowl. He struggled to move back to make himself comfortable on his ‘bed’, wincing when he tweaked his back. He didn’t know what the hell to do without Levi or Lathe helping to move him.

 

Levi saw Eren’s expression change as he shifted, putting the bowl down and helping guide Eren so he was laying down. He picked the bowl back up, placing it in the sink and looking over to Lathe.

 

Lathe’s phone was face-down on the table, and he just stared ahead, looking at nothing in particular. He noticed Levi looking at him, and smiled. He spoke quietly, moving from his chair. “I'll clean up. The soup will make a nice leftover. He’ll have plenty for tomorrow.” Taking his own bowl to the sink, he thought. “Eren can't do much by himself. That includes moving around.” He put his bowl on top of the pile, looking pointedly at Levi. “You know you're going to school tomorrow, right? You're not getting out of classes.” He stepped back a bit, addressing Eren from the kitchen. “Eren, you're going to have to deal with me being around tomorrow, cool? Great!” He didn't even give him a chance to respond, let alone protest. He spoke to both of them. “I'm going to clean this all up, and then I'll leave you two to yourselves for the night. I'll be back at around eight tomorrow morning, alright?”

 

Levi nodded. Thank you so much! “Thank you, Lathe.” That’s exactly how you thank the man that saved your bf’s life. ...Wait. What.

 

Eren looked up from his couch. “You’re leaving, Lathe?” He asked quietly. He seemed to have a defeated look. He wanted to talk with him some more, because he knew he could tell him anything… like how he couldn't remember earlier.. And he should’ve freaked out..  I know that I should've had a panic attack, there’s something they’re not telling me.

 

Lathe looked back over to Eren and smiled. “I can stay awhile longer if you want me to. It’s barely nine. Just let me clean up before I do anything else, okay?” We still have talking to do, I guess.

 

Okay.” He nodded, he would be okay with that. We need to talk, because I know you're lying. I need you to be able to tell me the truth, even if it means telling me I had an attack and don't remember.

 

Now, the bandages seem to have dried for the most part… Lathe picked up an empty brown bag from the floor, quickly moving the bandages and fabric from the sink into it, popping his head into the living room to see if he got the others off the floor from earlier. He didn't; he swept those up with his hands, dumping those inside as well and folding the top over many times. He shoved it to the bottom of the trash bag. He turned the tap back on, reaching for the soap and scrubbing the bowls clean. The bowls dried and put away, he turned the stove off from it’s low heat to keep the soup warm, finding a large bowl in the cupboards below and filling it. He looked for plastic wrap, finally finding some and stowing the soup in the fridge. He walked over to where Eren and Levi were sitting, unsure of what to do with himself before just punching the coffee table back a bit and sitting on its edge across from them. “Alright. What’s up, Eren?” This isn't going to be a fun conversation, is it?

 

Eren took in a deep breath and got into a comfortable position against Levi. “Can we agree not to lie to each other?” He asked quietly and looked to Lathe. That pretty much gave away the fact that Eren knew they were hiding something from him. Don't run away from this conversation.. Please Lathe… And you too, Levi. I want you to agree too.

 

Lathe sighed, running a hand through his dark hair. His voice was grave. “...Alright. I'm sorry, Eren. I ghosted over the truth earlier.”

 

Levi returned Eren’s expectant look, nodding. I guess he should know what really happened...

 

Lathe leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, starting over. “I got a call from Levi a couple hours ago, around five thirty, and I knew since he didn't text first or anything it was an emergency. I rushed over, and you were face-down on the couch, bleeding heavily. I had to cut through your shirt and your bandages to see what had happened to your back. A huge gash had opened for your shoulder to above the small of your back. You were losing a lot of blood, and needed stitches, fast. That’s… when everything started to go wrong.” Lathe brought a hand to the back of his neck, studying the carpet. “I threaded a surgical needle while also trying to staunch the bleeding and you started to freak out about everything happening, and Levi was trying his best to calm you down, but I barely got two stitches in when you had a full-on panic attack. You scrambled off the couch, and I don't know how but I cut the thread to keep you from bringing the needle with and you ran over to that corner of the room behind me, and you looked so scared. We didn't know how to calm you down until I remembered everything you told me about…” Lathe swallowed. “...about your mother and Germany and music and I just started singing this one song I heard years ago and you just started crying and… you crawled back over to us and… and asked when your mum would come home…” Lathe glanced up to Eren’s face. “...and I said she’d be home soon because I didn't know what else to tell you and if I told you that she wasn't coming home you’d go completely insane… but we managed to get you back on the couch and you started to get all giggly from the blood loss and I somehow finished stitching and wrapping you up before you passed out and I was so worried when you fell asleep because you had lost so much blood and I put an IV in your arm because we also needed you to wake up…” Lathe let out a heavy breath. “And that’s about when you should've started to remember things.” Don't you start crying, too… Today has been an absolute mess, my god...

 

I asked for my own mother…. I must’ve been completely crazy, for me to do that. “I’m sorry, I panicked when Levi grabbed me…” He trailed off and looked down. He knew that was the reason they were all here in this room. He panicked after Levi found him trying to take all the pills, he had struggled to get away, only to have his back rip open. Eren swallowed hard and looked up to Lathe with guilty eyes.

 

“...Why did you do it?” Lathe’s gaze was piercing. “Why’d you try to end it?”

 

Eren, if you aren’t honest like you promised, he’ll never be kind to you again…. But I’ve already destroyed the trust we’ve built… So you’re going to lie to him again?.... No, I won’t do that, he deserves the truth… They both do. Eren looked up, he looked like he was ready to cry. “I didn’t want… No one wanted me… Why stay?... That’s what I thought when I tried to take them. I thought Levi would be happy that he could get a new chemistry partner, and that he could hang out with the cool kids once I was gone… And I thought that maybe it would be a way to please my father after so many years….” Eren stopped as he hiccuped from his tears. He sobbed for a few moments… “When you’re left alone for so long, when no one cares, it hurts… And with my past I thought no one would love me anymore… I’m broken beyond repair at this point… I’ll always be on pills, if I could even afford them… I can’t get a job, I don’t like new people, and I can’t do anything physically demanding… I can’t get enough money to feed myself properly… I’ll no longer be innocent in anyone’s eyes, not after what my father did to me… I was afraid… So afraid that everyone would leave me, and when you’ve been alone and beaten and outcasted… You never want that to happen. So I wanted to leave first, so that no one could try to pick up the pieces, only to find they can’t and throw me away to let the pieces shatter more for the next person… I have so many trust issues because of that, and so everyone’s words stick with me… Everything, no matter what, and they always haunt me to no end…” Eren sobbed out. He was going through so much, and he was finally letting it out to the both of them. His rant was all over the place, just saying whatever was on his mind, and it felt so good to actually tell someone and get it off his chest.

 

...Eren… Levi brought his arms around him, letting Eren rest his head against him. “Eren, nobody could ever hold what your dad did against you. And you need to have a little faith. You're going to get better, and you're going to become successful, and it’s not like the friends you have now are planning to leave anytime soon. We all care about you. And we all want to help you. Trying to end it… that isn't worth it. It is never worth it, no matter how awful things might seem to be.” Levi pressed a kiss to his temple. “You mean a lot to a lot of people, and to me. It's not worth it.”

 

Eren sniffled. He didn't know what to say… I can’t believe I have to tell him this. I have to…. I can’t trust them… No, not after what my father and so many others have done. “I… I can’t trust  you though… I can’t… Not after what I’ve been through for the past 8 years… All the lies, the torment, the bullying, the backstabbing… I can’t believe your words. I’m sorry but I can’t, and I know it might seem rude to say this after what you two have done for me, but I can’t… I can’t trust someone to not leave… I tried that once, then I promised never again… I tried to trust that my dad wouldn’t do more than yell at me… And look where that got me… Underneath him, with him yelling at me to be a good whore and take it… I tried making friends before I really did, but I can’t do it… No, not after it got out that I was gay, and I was almost lynched at my last school… If others find out I'm gay, they’ll try to make my life a living hell… My only place of solitude is school… And if that becomes hell, life becomes unbearable…” Eren’s spiels were starting to really jump from topic to topic. His body starting to shake as he sobbed. His breathing started to worsen a bit but only a little bit, he was starting to lose it again.

 

Levi felt him shuddering in his arms. Another attack. He's about to have another attack. Levi looked to Lathe with panicked eyes. Sing. The last time you did it it calmed him down. He's in his right mind so he might not go insane so just try it, please.

 

Lathe looked from Levi to Eren, and drew in a shudders breath. Just focus. He began to sing, his low voice quiet at first, slowly, slowly becoming louder.

 

Eren listened to Lathe sing softly. He started to calm down. His body stopped shaking, and he watched Lathe with large eyes. He slowly moved to curl up to Levi, and hold onto his shirt. Soon he opened his mouth to start and sing along with the other. They were going back and forth. Lathe would sing a line, then Eren would sing the next. He seemed to calm down more as he got to sing in his own language. It had been such a long time since he had sung in his own language…  the last time… It was with mom… Wasn’t it? Yeah, it was, I was singing this song with mom last… Before I wanted to make Mac n’ cheese. Eren just continued to sing along with Lathe as he slowly curled up to Levi more. Calming down completely.

 

Levi gently pet Eren’s hair as he curled up to him, listening to the unfamiliar words, sweet though unknown to him in meaning. It’s a wonderful song… and Eren’s voice… he watched Eren’s lips move with the words. He sings so well...

 

Eren and Lathe soon finished the song, Eren looking like he was going to pass out soon. He needed to take his pills for his PTSD, to try and stave off the nightmares. Lathe knew what he had to take. He was in much need of a good night's sleep, especially after six years of sleeping only four hours a night.

 

Lathe got up from his perch on the table, going to the kitchen. “I'll get your medicine for tonight.” He moved silently, picking up the dark blue bottle from the table. I should probably get him a sleep aid, too… he’s not used to a normal sleep schedule, and he has to kick that ugly habit of getting to bed so late as fast as possible. Ten is better than eleven, I guess. He took the glass from earlier from the counter as he passed it, filling it. He fumbled with the locking cap on the pills, taking one out and offering it Eren with the glass, smiling lightly. “Last one for today. Down the hatch.”

 

Eren nodded and he took the pill along with the glass of water. He looked to his comforter laid out on the couch. “Are we sleeping here… Or upstairs?” He asked sleepily to Levi. He knew that Levi would most likely stay the night after what had happened today. He looked to him with lidded eyes. He was ready to fall asleep.

 

You can't move too much… “Here. It'll keep us from unnecessarily dragging you around.”

 

Eren nodded and he winced a bit as he tried to move to lay down. He wanted to be in Levi’s arms when they fell asleep.

 

“Hold still for a second, Eren.” Lathe rested his hand on Eren’s right arm, near his elbow. He scratched at the tape end, unraveling it a bit to remove the needle. He immediately replaced the tape and gauze. “The IV’s empty for now; You won't have to worry about that getting in the way as you sleep. I'll make sure you get a new one tomorrow.” He reached up to unhook it from the lamp switch, coiling it back up and placing it in its case in his bag.

 

Eren watched the dark haired man work. He didn’t move as Lathe requested and let him pull the IV out without a hassle. It felt good to get the stiff needle out. He looked to Levi with tired eyes, knowing he wouldn’t be able to stay awake much longer, but the house needed to be locked. I’m still afraid Grisha will come back… I want the doors locked…

 

Lathe retrieved his phone and scarf from the next room, looking to the mess of pills still on the table. Tomorrow, I'll clean all this up. Wrapping the thick red fabric around his neck, he spoke with a grin. “I'll get out of your hair.” Lathe picked up his bag from the floor, the odd star insignia shining up at him. “Levi, make sure you lock the door behind me. We don't need burglars throwing any more wrenches into our plans for today.” He stepped forward, ruffling Eren’s hair. “Goodnight, kid. Remember Eren, I'll be here at eight. No later. ” He looked to Levi as he stood, smiling and making his way to the door.

 

Levi followed him to the front door, his fingers digging in his pocket for the key. He’s done so much… how am I expected to thank him? Levi watched him step over the threshold, sending him one last grin.

 

“Alright, goodnight Levi. Don't cause too much mischief.” Light whizzed past his eyes. He turned to head to his car, when a hand on his elbow stopped him.

 

“... Thank you.” Don't cry now. Don't do it, Levi. No.

 

Lathe chuckled, sending him a warm look. “Of course. You're very welcome.” He patted his shoulder. “I'll see you both in the morning.”

 

“...A-alright. Goodnight.” Levi let his hand fall, watching Lathe step down from the front stoop, walking to his car. He shut to door softly, locking it behind him. He went to stow the key in his pocket again, before deciding against it and leaving it, and his phone, on the coffee table. Sleep would really be nice right around now.

 

Eren reached for the hem of Levi’s shirt. He whimpered a bit when it forced him to stretch out his body for the other. He tugged on the fabric gently, wanting to sleep curled up to Levi. He was still pretty feverish, so the more sleep he got the better. His pillows and comforter were already down there, so it would be easy for them to get comfortable on the large couch.

 

I'm coming, I'm coming… Levi helped Eren shift to lay down, slipping under the covers with him and automatically going to wrap his arms around his thin frame, resting his head on his shoulder, tangling their feet.

 

Eren whimpered a bit but managed to snuggle up to Levi and get into a comfortable position. He closed his eyes, and didn't opened them again… He was out cold, the events of today finally taking their toll on him.


Chapter Text

Levi cracked open one eye, warm and content. He squinted against the light in the room. Ugh, someone needs to close the shades… what’s on top of me? Levi looked down, registering the weight on top of him, seeing a messy head of brunette hair. …oh yeah. That’s right… Levi smirked, kissing the top of his head. He mumbled, trying to rub the sleep out of his eyes. “‘Morning. You awake yet?”

 

No response. Levi shifted, hoping to reach his phone and figure out what time it was. He caught it, glancing at the time. 7:46 AM. Lathe will be here soon. And you have classes to attend. Levi carefully tried to untangle himself from Eren, maneuvering oddly in an attempt to let him sleep. It’s more than four hours. That’s great! He finally made his way onto his feet, fixing the covers and padding to the kitchen. Breakfast. Do I have time to… Levi saw the unpacked bags at the feet of the table, a yellow cereal box visible in one. He pulled it out. Cheerios. He quickly opened the fridge, seeing a half-gallon of whole milk. Lathe, you thought of literally everything. Levi hunted for the bowls, eating quickly at the kitchen table, stealing glances to Eren as he slept. Today should go well. Lathe will be around, so… it’s pretty much a given. He rinsed his bowl in the sink, going to take back the house key from the table. He stepped back into his shoes, scattered on the floor.

 

A light pattern of knocks on the door shook him from his thoughts, walking over and looking through the front window to see Lathe’s car. He opened the door, greeted with the smiling teacher.

 

“Good Morning, Levi! Judging from the fact my phone was silent after I left, can I say all is well?” His blue and grey eyes were bright.

 

Levi chuckled a bit as he opened the door for their teacher. “Yes, you can rightly assume so, Lathe… Come on in.” He motioned for Lathe to come in as he held the door open for him. His voice was still quiet, as not to wake Eren up since the Brat was still out cold.

 

Lathe unwound his scarf from his neck, bowing his head a bit as he crossed the threshold, looking up to skim the living room for Eren. He saw him still curled up under the blankets, his eyes widening in surprise, matching Levi’s quiet voice. “Did he really sleep this entire time?”

 

Levi nodded, catching up to Lathe after closing the door. “Yeah. He didn’t even move last night; he was in the same position this morning until I slipped out from under him. I figured we should let him sleep, since he hasn’t been getting much.” Levi told Lathe, looking over Eren’s sleeping frame with a small smile on his face. The boy looked so much better than he did hours ago.

 

“Ten solid hours of sleep, assuming he conked out as soon as I left, about, is absolutely fabulous. However, you have classes to attend, and I think,” Lathe nudged his elbow, smirking. “that he would appreciate being able to say goodbye to you.”

 

Lathe, you are a sly son of a bitch. Levi’s face heated up a bit as a blush tinted his cheeks. He shook his head and looked towards Eren. “If me moving out from under him didn’t wake him, I don’t really know what will.” Levi really didn’t want to shake the poor kid, not when his wounds were only just starting to heal on his back.

 

“Well, us being quiet isn't going to help at all with it.” Lathe suddenly switched to talking at a normal volume. “Come on, stop being shy and get him up. I don't care what you have to do as long as it doesn't put him in pain and/or mortal danger. ... Go on.” Lathe pushed Levi forward. Just do it, I don't want him to wake up and be upset that he didn't get to see you.

 

Levi leaned forwards to get himself to balance out after the playful shove. He carefully walked over to where Eren’s head was and sat down by his sleeping figure. “Oi, Brat, it’s time to wake up… I gotta go to classes, ya know.” Levi spoke a bit louder as he carded his fingers through Eren’s long brown locks. “Come on, Eren, wake up, I gotta go soon.” His voice was soft and he gently shook Eren by the shoulders.

 

Eren finally stirred after a few minutes of prodding by Levi. He cracked his eyes open slowly. His back felt like it was on fire, and it introduced him to a world of pain. He let out a pain filled cry, his motions jerky and he whimpered. Levi, you’re here…. Despite his back, Eren smiled softly at the other.

 

Shit. Lathe dropped his bags, rushing into the kitchen to retrieve the pill calendar sorted out on the table. Thank god I put this together last night… Grabbing a glass with water from the tap, he was at Eren’s side in a moment, kneeling next to the both of them and dumping the day’s worth of medicine into his hand. He handed him the magenta tablet first, trying to keep their moods light, as best as one could while someone was in extreme pain. “Good morning, Eren. ...I think. Here, this’ll help.” He helped him with the glass of water, handing him a few others after.

 

Eren watched from his spot on the couch as Lathe went into Doctor mode, studying the pills he had in hand. He looked to the small magenta purple tablet offered to him, taking that first and foremost with a swig of water.  He then followed suit with the rest of the pills handed to him.

 

Levi gave a small smile as he watched Eren down the pills without a fuss. That’s good, just take your pills like you’re supposed to. At least with Lathe here I don’t need to worry about you overdosing. Levi ran his fingers through Eren’s hair as Lathe finished up with the pills. “Eren, I need to go, okay?” He asked and leaned over to kiss the boy’s forehead. Remain stoic, do not show emotion, if he sees it he’ll want you to stay… and Lathe would not have that.

 

Eren looked up with a blush to see Levi’s lips twisted up into a small smirk. He nodded softly rubbing into that hand which was caressing his head. “Okay. Goodbye, Short Stack… Have a good day at school… Don’t forget to tell Armin, and bring me back my work” Eren mumbled in between yawns. He felt like he could sleep for eons. I still feel so tired… It’s like I can’t wake up… Do I have to? Can’t I just fall back asleep?

 

Levi chuckled and ruffled his hair a bit. “I won’t forget, Brat.” He sighed and got up. “Don’t sleep the whole day away,” he murmured and got up to grab his forgotten bag. “Bye, Lathe… I’ll see you guys after practice.” And with that Levi left the house and started making the 15 minute walk to school. Did I have homework? Survey says….. No, thank fucking Satan!

 

Eren watched him leave and whimpered as he struggled to get up, making sure Levi was gone before he even tried to move. He wanted to be able to do it himself, though he was finding it impossible very quickly, especially with his morphine not kicked in yet. He let out a pain-filled cry as he tried to push himself up. I need to do this myself, I need to, I need to, I don’t want to need to rely on someone to help me up in the morning… Shit, my arm is gonna snap if I try to do this any longer… Eren whimpered as he slumped down into the makeshift bed again. Looking over to Lathe with his mop of hair way out of order due to his bed head, he silently pleaded for help, along with a small whimper.

 

Lathe rested his hand on Eren’s arm, trying to still his movement. “You took a morphine pill a second ago, give it a chance. Then we'll see if you can sit up. For right now, just stay put. It won't be long.” He gave him a reassuring smile, standing and mumbling to himself. “I'm going to need my bags back…” He walked over to where they were on the floor, leaving his scarf on a hook next to the door, and letting his medical bag rest on the floor next to the couch. The other, black with a sharp blue and yellow spark symbol, he placed on the kitchen counter, starting to set up a laptop. He logged in, pulling up seemingly random files, and a long list with some groups of small icons on a purple screen filled the page. He grinned, turning and walking back to Eren. “Feel any better yet?”

 

Eren looked up to him and tried to push himself up. He whimpered a bit as he struggled. He could feel his elbows protesting against the movement. He let out a shrill sound as one of his elbows gave out, and he slumped back down. He put his head down in defeat. Fuck it, I can’t do that… Not even with the morphine can I push through it. Fuck, Lathe, help me dammit! Eren looked up to him with pleading eyes. His back felt much better, but he was too weak to actually do anything. He felt a wave of dizziness go through him as soon as he slumped down. Shit… Am I still sick? Fuck… I don’t think I can lift my head right now.

 

...how's his fever doing? Lathe reached out to his forehead, feeling with the back of his hand. He might as well be on fire. “You're really burning up, Eren. But we need to get you to sit up so you can eat. Here, I've got you.” Lathe gently took ahold of him, guiding him up and into a sitting position. “Do you have a preference at all for what you'd like me to make you?”

 

Eren let himself be moved by Lathe, and his head felt like it was ready to implode from the dizziness alone. He waited to even try and reply until he could put his head back on the couch. He waited for the dizziness to subside a bit. “No, I don’t… But I’ll need another pill” he murmured to the other and got comfortable in his spot.

 

His head probably feels awful. “Alright. One sec.” Lathe opened the bag at his foot, opening the top and handing Eren one more morphine pill. He took the half-empty glass from the table, handing that to him as well. “Your head should stop spinning soon. I'll start on breakfast, okay? Do you want me to get you anything? A book or something?” It’s going to be a pretty boring day, honestly. The only thing really happening is Spades coming over. And even then, that's not for long. Or entertaining. But that’s to be discussed after breakfast.

 

Eren thought about it for a few seconds. “Can you get my sketchbook…. And a few pencils? It’s on the desk in my room” he said quietly.

 

“Of course. I'll be right back.” Lathe stood, going up the stairs and turning left to the room he remembered was Eren’s, where he found the comforter last night. He looked to the desk pushed against the wall. A thick sketchbook lay in the center, surrounded by various colored pencils, as well as some sketches. More drawings littered his room, with various subjects and mediums. These are all really good drawings. On closer inspection of his desk, there were various watercolor containers, some tins of paint…. A couple charcoal pencils and quite a few other random art supplies lying all over the surface. Nice setup. Should I get him graphite or charcoal… Eh, I'll give him charcoal. That's always fun. Carefully picking up the charcoal pencils and a small box of sticks, as well as a small sharpener and the sketch pad, he picked his way back over to the door, careful not to step on anything, and returned to hand the supplies over to Eren. “Is today a charcoal day?” His eyes were bright.

 

Eren gave him a small smile. “Charcoal will be good today” he murmured with a smile as he saw his small box of pencils. “Thank you” he said and smiled softly. He started out with one of his harder charcoal pencils, so it was a little softer than graphite, but it was good for sketching, which is what he started to do.

 

You can enthuse about how wonderful drawing is later. Just make breakfast, and try not to burn it. Lathe called from the fridge, perusing the new contents. “Eren, do you want tea or coffee to drink, or is milk okay?” He picked out some vegetables, and some ham and eggs. Omelets, don't fail me now!

 

Oh… What does coffee taste like again? “Um… What does coffee taste like?” He asked quietly back to the kitchen… It had been too long to know what any of that tasted like… “And tea… What does that taste like?” He asked quietly. He felt embarrassed for not knowing.

 

...You have not lived. “Here, you must have a coffee maker, and I know I saw a kettle in one of the cupboards. I'll make both and have you try some, and we’ll see what you like. Sound good?” Lathe put the ingredients on the counter, going to dig for the small box of tea bags and the tin of coffee grounds. I'll just make sure I put plenty of cream and sugar in the coffee; He’ll hate it otherwise.

 

“O-okay.” He agreed quietly and went back to sketching, he was almost done sketching already. “I think the coffee maker is in the pantry… But I'm not sure” he told Lathe quietly. If he’s making both which would I like? He must like both then? If he’s making it and I don’t like it...

 

“Okay. Hopefully it works. If not, I'll make it work.” Lathe walked over to the pantry, finding it shoved into a corner on the floor. He picked it up, carrying it over next to the sink. Plugging it in, he filled it with water and put in a new filter, filling it with the grounds. He pressed the switch, and was relieved when the red light came on. “It’s ali~ve!” He jokingly called to Eren. He went to start the tea, setting the kettle on the back burner with water to boil.

 

It’s alive? What the hell is he talking about? I don’t understand… “ What’s alive?” Eren asked into kitchen and he had stopped his sketching for now because he was so confused at the moment. Is he just crazy?? I don’t understand… Like at all…

 

Lathe looked at him, one eyebrow raised. Frankenstein, anyone? “The coffee machine works. Have you never heard that quote from Frankenstein? Even if you haven't read the thing?”

 

Eren shook his head slowly. “No... What is Frankenstein?” Eren looked to Lathe with large beady eyes, expecting an explanation. “I don’t understand.” What the hell is Frankenstein???

 

...How to describe the really terrifying story of Frankenstein in two sentences or less… Lathe shifted to lean against the counter with one hand, thinking. “Frankenstein is this book by Mary Shelley about this crazy Doctor guy obsessed with the idea of immortality. He digs up a dead body and performs these experiments using electricity, eventually bringing the corpse back to life and naming it ‘Frankenstein.’ It all just goes downhill from there.”

 

“Oh… Were you talking about the coffee maker then?” Eren seemed to pick things up pretty quickly still, despite his fever. He soon returned back to his sketching, approving of the explanation he got.

 

“Indeed I was. I'm just glad I didn't have to re-wire the thing. Now I want coffee.” Lathe started chopping carrots and an onion quickly, cubing the ham. “You’re getting a ham omelet, by the way. Where did I put the cheese…” He went back to hunting in the fridge, soon returning to scramble the eggs and add all sorts of things on top, waiting for it to cook before flipping it over. The kettle started whistling, so he turned off the burner, letting it sit while he plated the omelet. He went to get Eren a nausea tablet before handing him his plate. “I'll get you tea in a moment when it steeps. The coffee will be a few minutes. I'll get you a fork and knife.” He returned with the silverware in a moment.

 

Eren took his pill quietly and he waited for his food to cool while the pill kicked in. He only had to wait a few minutes before he didn’t feel nauseous while looking at the food. He slowly started to eat, smiling when he found it to his liking. He wasn’t eating nearly as fast as he was last night though; he was taking his time to eat.

 

Lathe watched the tea steep in a plain white mug, finding the small carton of cream in the fridge shelf where he put it, hunting for the mini bottle of honey in the paper bags at the table. He mixed a little of both into the cup, taking out the teabag and walking over, handing it carefully to Eren. “It's alright if you don't like anything I give you. They're both more or less acquired tastes.”

 

Eren nodded and carefully reached for the cup. He sniffed it and smiled softly. “It smells good.” Eren slowly raised the mug to his lips. He took a small sip of it, taking in the tea. He crinkled his nose a bit. “It’s really sweet.” I don’t like sweetness, it reminds me too much of when I used to eat something sweet and immediately see it come back up. “Is there anything less sweet?” As he asked he looked up to Lathe with his large viridian eyes.

 

You don't like sweet? Huh. I would've thought you'd hate it if I left it bitter. “Here- Let’s try that again.” He held out his hands for the mug. He went and dumped it down the sink, quickly rinsing it and refilling it with more hot water from the kettle. He put in another teabag. Give that a good minute to steep. Hearing the sputtering of the coffee maker, he grinned and turned to it, switching it off, fetching another mug and pouring some with room at the top, deciding to leave it black. If he wants cream or something, there's room for it. He brought him the dark tea first, handing him the mug. “Try this.” Personally, I'd probably spit it out that strong. But, whatever floats your boat.

 

Eren noticed the darker color of the tea. “Thank you.” He slowly rose the mug to take a sip. Ah, that’s better, I like this. Eren smiled and it was quite a big smile. “It tastes good” he said quietly. He smiled and rose the mug up to his lips again, taking another sip, his half-eaten omelet forgotten for now.

 

Lathe smiled, turning to pour himself some coffee, using plenty of cream and a pinch of cocoa powder from a small jar. How can he not like sweet? It’s crazy. He studied the plain white mug. It could use some color. I'm all for white, but… Eh. Not important. He returned his attention to his laptop for a moment, scrolling through rows and rows of large icons and thumbnails. I'll let him finish his tea before giving him his coffee. It'll let it cool down in the meantime, anyway. He put down the mug, reaching over to start putting away the food left strewn about on the counter. I should probably unpack all those bags, too… wait. Lathe looked to the pantry, the door still ajar, looking at the one box of pasta near the top. … Leave it for now. Spades could do something with that. He settled for washing the pan and the cutting board and knife, putting them away and glancing back to check on Eren every once in awhile. ...Spades. Better tell him.

 

Eren had eaten a majority of his omelet, and was finishing up with his cup of tea when Lathe came back in. His sketchbook showed the beginning of an outline for a person. The charcoal gave for a really nice shading material, and damn did Eren know how to fucking use it.

 

“Eren, I have a mug of coffee for you if you want it, or you can have more tea if you really love it. But I also have something important to tell you.” Lathe flicked his left arm, moving his watch on his wrist so he could see the face. “In about ten minutes or so, I'm having my good friend Spades come over. She’s going to be working on the case against your father for everything he put you through.” He watched Eren’s eyes shift, quickly speaking to stop his fear. “She’s not going to ask for testimony or anything just yet. She just wants to map out the house, take pictures, collect anything incriminating. And since she has your medical file, it’s not like you're going to be forced through a long proceeding. She'll explain it more when she gets here at nine. But she’s very friendly, and she wants to help you get away from your father for good, so he can't hurt you any more.” Lathe rested a hand on his shoulder. “We're going to make this all as painless as possible. Don't worry yourself about it.” He smiled softly.

 

Eren watched Lathe… “But he ran…. He ran away… No one knows where he is anymore” he murmured and looked down at his nearly-empty tea mug. He tipped it back and finished off the last bit. He looked to his plate. “I can’t eat anymore than that, sorry.” He mumbled his words with his head down. “- and I’ll try some coffee.” He looked over to his sketchbook to pick it back up. He was grateful he hadn’t seen his father at all since he had returned from the hospital. I probably would’ve been dead already if he came back….

 

Lathe traded mugs with Eren, picking up the plate, balancing the silverware on it. “You're actually eating, which is good enough for me, as long as you like it. And your father can't run forever. Do you know what everyone in this world needs at some point?” He started walking back to the sink.

 

Eren watched him leave. “What?” He asked quietly. He returned his focus back to his sketchbook. He was still sketching something random.

 

“Money.” Lathe talked to Eren over his shoulder, scrubbing the plate. “Spades already had enough from your medical file to talk to a judge. She has tabs on all of Grisha’s bank accounts, watching for any withdrawals so they can catch him and drag him to court. He’ll be on the map soon enough.”

 

Eren swallowed hard. “They can’t catch him if he’s in Germany…. His passport is gone.” Eren brought up the information quietly, his voice cracking again. He knew they wouldn’t be able to do anything once Grisha had left the country… It was too small of a case, nothing could more could be done. I don’t think they can do anything more… My father just sent a check to the hospital… He might’ve sent it from Germany…. Shit.

 

“Eren, there are charges pending against your father, and there’s always a paper trail. I'll make sure she checks recent purchases under his name, checks with airports nearby. International withdrawals will still come up with dates and times… Locations.” Lathe furrowed his brow. “I'm sure she knows someone at the American embassy in Germany. She knows a lot of people.” Lathe looked over to Eren. “A lot of people.”

 

Eren looked up to him and nodded. “Okay.” He continued to sketch until he heard soft raps against the front door after a few minutes. He looked over to watch Lathe move from the kitchen over to the front door. Is she here already?

 

“Lathe! It’s good to see you again. May I come in?” A sweet voice with an unplaceable accent sounded from the door.

 

“Hey Spades, thank you so much for coming. Of course. Eren’s over there, on the couch in the living room.” Lathe motioned to Eren, stepping back to let her enter.

 

She carefully walked over to Eren, surveying the room with sharp grey eyes. Her hair was the color of fire, pulled high into a ponytail, loose wavy locks tucked behind her ears, falling around her face. A large camera hung from around her neck, and she carried a heavy-looking case in one hand. She caught Eren’s gaze, and smiled sweetly, putting the case by the coffee table and offering her hand. “You must be Eren. You can call me Spades. I'm going to be helping with the case against your father.” Her eyes shone.

 

Eren watched her with wide eyes. Swallowing hard, he didn’t necessarily trust her yet, and to be honest, he was still trying to take in her bubbliness. He looked to her hand outstretched for his and he panicked a bit. What do I do? I’m so unsure.. “H-hi” Eren stuttered and moved away from her a bit, very wary of her.

 

She raised her arms in surrender, taking a small step back. She still had a small smile. “Fair enough. A total stranger, and a morning person. I'd be suspicious too.” She had a glint in her eye. I hope he doesn't mind my brand of humor. Eh, he's hanging out with Lathe. He should be used to it by now at least a little. “In all seriousness though,” she dropped her hands, her thumbs in her pockets. “I'm the person in charge of finding your father and dragging him into court. Me being here today is important, not because I need testimony- that’s a whole other ball game- but because I need to take pictures. Anything incriminating, I need to photograph, collect if I can, take DNA and fingerprints from if I can, and file it all for analysis later. I just need you to let me know I can do that.” She looked Eren in the eye. “Eren, yes or no- will you trust me to lead the proceedings against your father?” You can trust me, kid. You really can.

 

Eren looked over to Lathe for a second before he nodded. “Y-yes.” He said quietly and he reached to his comforter to curl up under it. “What do you need to know?” He asked quietly. Does she need to know where to look? Does she need to know what he did? Does she need to know what knives he used? Eren started to shake just thinking about opening up to someone else.

 

Oh my. Lathe crossed over to Eren, sitting next to him and running a hand through his brown locks. “It’s alright, Eren.” He looked to Spades. “Am I allowed to talk on his behalf for some of this?”

 

Spades shifted her weight to one side, studying Eren’s shaking frame. “While I'm walking around, for the bigger picture, I think so. But if there’s something specific I should look into- a specific place or object or room- he needs to tell me that himself. It's something only he would know.” Her eyes softened. “Can you do that, or should I just start my sweep?”

 

Eren swallowed hard. He curled up to Lathe’s touches and shuffled as close to him as possible. His shaking subsided a bit. “T-the basement… The kitchen floor…. And his bedroom at the end of the hall upstairs.” Eren whispered the words into Lathe’s ear before burying his head into his shoulder. He didn’t trust his own voice to go higher than a whisper. I don't want to talk anymore… No more, please. He silently begged Lathe to understand as his shaking hand clung to the teacher’s shirt.

 

Spades tilted her head to one side, a lock of hair falling from next to her ear, a small earpiece visible. ‘What?’ She mouthed to Lathe, knowing better than to speak.

 

Lathe looked torn between speaking and just holding onto Eren, his right arm wrapped around him, his head tucked under his chin. His eyes focused on his raised left hand, slowly and with deliberation trying to spell out what Eren said. He dropped his arm as Spades nodded, taking her case with her up the stairs. He just held onto Eren, trying to get him to stop shaking. He murmured. “It's alright. That’s all we need. I've got you.”

 

Eren sniffled quietly, nodding and curling up to Lathe’s chest. He was warm, and his hot forehead was rested against an open patch of Lathe’s skin between his neck and his collarbone. The boy made a soft noise and nuzzled his hot forehead into the relief his cool skin gave him. He was starting to stop his shaking, calm down a bit as his arms wrapped around him. I like being in someone’s arms… It’s so much nicer than a fist .

 

Spades slowly moved to the end of the hall, looking over her shoulder to Eren’s room. That’s his room. It looks like any normal bedroom, nothing really important to the case there… She stopped in front of the closed door at the end of the hall, putting down her case and pulling on gloves. I'll need these. Holding her camera ready with one hand, she slowly turned the knob with one hand. ... what? It’s locked. She dropped her camera, studying the knob, where the bolt slid in place against the frame. It’s an old house, so… She fumbled to grab her wallet from her pocket, fishing an old ID card out and prodding at the metal. It immediately opened. Of course. Putting it away, she held onto her camera, pushing the door slowly open.

 

The stale stench of alcohol hit her first. Broken bottles littered the floor, all the dark glass from beer bottles, the clear, tall necks from cheap vodka, the thickest glass from scotch. She took pictures of the whole scene immediately, turning the flash on, and studying what showed up on the screen. The pictures showed what the darkness had hidden from her- just how much blood coated everything in sight. She retrieved yellow tags and right-angled rulers, snapping picture after picture of jagged bottles, their bottoms broken off or shattered entirely, dusting everything she could for fingerprints, swabbing the blood from their edges and anything from their mouthpieces, labeling them with extreme care. Picking the tags back up after photographing the entire scene with them one last time, she packed the multitude of samples she already had in a drawer of her heavy case, descending the steps carefully, not seeing much else on the top floor. She paused in the living room, seeing the blood spatter on the ground and in the corner, catching the maroon drops on the dark wood of some of the furniture. She looked to Lathe, still holding onto Eren as he drew.

 

Lathe felt her looking at him, meeting her gaze. He watched as she pointed to the drops in the corner. He read her lips. ‘Last night?’ He nodded, silent. He watched as she worked, taking photos of the broken furniture and the dark spots, swabbing the blood. He subconsciously held onto Eren just a little bit tighter. She knows what she’s doing.

 

Eren’s steady breathing sounded underneath Lathe’s chin. The boy had his eyes focused on the sketchbook in his lap, his back pressed against his chest. He enjoyed that Lathe kept his strong arms around his thin body. It was comforting to be in the man's lap as he drew. He had already finished his first sketch of a waterfall and started to work on a deer now. He was constantly switching the hardness he was using to get different colors in the fur. It already looked amazing.

 

Spades tried her best to be quiet as she worked her way down the room, the click of her camera the loudest noise she made. She stopped at the entrance to the kitchen, setting her things down and leaning down to closely study the tiles. There are so many slits cut in the tile… Haphazard… Uniform. With purpose. She placed down another ruler, taking photographs of how long each cut in the tile was, practically the same across the five or so she checked. It was the same knife. So… but I don't know if I want to ask him which. It’s thick enough to be a knife I'd find in the drawer with the rest you'd use for cooking. She opened some of the drawers, finding one with sharper knives inside. A large butcher knife lay near the top, the front corner of the cutting edge especially scratched and nicked, slightly bent. The money I'd put on that being it… She snapped a photograph, carefully picking it up and taking special images, one of it held directly above a cut, a scratch line where it would stop cutting through the tiles visible on the blade, and one with it sunk into the tile, stopping exactly where it bent. It’s a fit… She removed it from the floor, dusting for any prints left. Nothing. It’s been washed… wait. She noted a small speck of blood, stuck in the crack of where the metal was mounted onto the heavy plastic handle. That. Taking a swab, she then placed the knife in an evidence bag, careful not to have it cut through the thick paper. She looked over to the corner, seeing the bloody belt coiled up, the dark leather bloody, the metal behind the scraps of skin shining. Oh my god. She passed the pantry without a glance, placing a yellow tag next to it. This is awful… all of it. The grey dust stuck to fingerprints, many overlapping. There are good prints on this one. But that’s Eren’s skin… She picked it up carefully, placing it in a large evidence bag. She walked back to her kit, passing once more by the open pantry, finally seeing it. ...There is literally nothing in that pantry. She brought her camera up, disheartened by the lone box of pasta on the shelf. No wonder he’s so sickly… She stowed away the bags in her case, almost full with everything she collected. I'm going to need to stow this in the car soon… She picked it up, carrying it to the door in the hall, close to the kitchen. She thought a moment, and set it down. The basement. Let’s see what the damage is first… Taking a breath, she opened the door, reaching over to flick on the lights.

 

Cold white lights took a few seconds to flicker on, dim. The stairs creaked underfoot, the handrail ready to break off of the wall. It was much colder than the rest of the house, the grey cement floor full of cracks. A steel surgical table was drilled down into the floor, gleaming in the center of the room. Leather straps with steel buckles lay open, short ones for wrists and ankles, others for the chest, the legs, the head … Metal hooks stuck out from the ceiling above it, meant for equipment to hang…  A metal cabinet drilled into the wall was ajar, showing jars labeled with spidery handwriting. Another next to it was closed, the key hanging from the lock. A file cabinet was in the corner, a few papers and old electronic equipment stacked on top of it. Wires connecting from the back of the biggest piece were nailed in place up the wall, strung to video cameras, their lights out, all pointing to the metal table in the center. The file cabinet labels were yellowing, their words barely legible:

 

The Effects of Organ Removal on Response to Various Illnesses and Their Combative Medicines

 

She had to stop reading after that.

 

Spades strode back over to the stairs, taking a shot of the basement as a whole before walking upstairs. Her face was blank as she picked up her case, walking out to her car and opening the passenger’s side door. She moved the two bags of evidence and the numerous DNA swabs for testing into a metal box on the floor, before leaning against the side of the car, taking off her gloves and putting her head in her hands. This is… After a moment, Spades dropped her hands, pushing herself off her car. Come on. You need to finish this. Picking up the heavy metal case up from the seat, she slammed the door shut, walking back through the door.

 

Lathe looked up from Eren’s drawing, concerned. She doesn't look too good… is it really that bad? Lathe tensed, ready to get up and investigate for himself. I need to know.

 

Spades saw Lathe shift, and held up her hand in an imperative ‘Stop.’ She spoke quietly. “I'm fine. You stay put.” She flashed him a quick smile. I'm not letting you see this.

 

Eren looked up when he heard her speak. He put his drawing stuff away for the moment and got up on wobbly feet, making his way towards the bathroom, sensing that Lathe wanted to get up and he needed to use the facilities himself. He used the wall to help him get around, and soon found himself in the bathroom.

 

Lathe stood, making sure Eren could walk without too much trouble before crossing the room quickly, putting his hand on Spades’ arm. His voice was low, urgent. “How bad is it?”

 

Spades looked to him with sympathy. “If you must know…” She pressed a button on her camera, showing him the last photograph she took.

 

The color drained out of Lathe’s face. That’s sick... terrifying. “What…” He swallowed hard, pointing to the cabinets.

 

“...I don't know yet. I haven't gotten that far. I only took this for now. Lathe…” Spades took the camera from her neck, giving Lathe a hug. “He’s fine now. He’s going to be even better soon. This is all behind him now.”

 

Lathe willed himself to stop shaking. You can't. You won’t. Stop it. “T-thanks…” He weakly returned her hug, pulling back after a moment. He swallowed. “H-how long do you think you need, still?”

 

Spades checked her watch. “It’s ten thirty now… I'd say noon. There’s an entire file cabinet down there that seems to be in relative order… I'm probably going to drag that back to the station. It'll take days to sort through, most likely.” She smiled softly. “You've done wonderfully, Lathe. I'll keep doing what I can. We can talk after I'm done. Right now…” she trailed off, watching Eren shambling back to the couch. “...you have a job to do.” She gave him a light nudge, a reassuring look in her eyes. We’ll get through this. Somehow, we will.

 

Eren shuffled to the couch and slowly made his way to a comfortable sitting position, wrapped up into a giant cocoon via his comforter. He seemed happy to be swaddled in warmth. He had gathered his sketches again, putting the finishing touches on the deer before he started to doodle on a clean sheet.

 

Lathe walked slowly back to the couch, his footsteps heavy. The things he’s done to Eren… horrible… When he got to the couch, he hesitated, not sure what to do with himself. He shuffled his feet for a moment, not wanting to uproot Eren after he just got situated. Ugh. I suck at this.

 

Eren noticed Lathe shuffle on his feet. He reached over and pulled him down onto the couch before he curled up to Lathe again, laying his head on his shoulder as he situated himself in his lap. He’s comfortable… I like it. I wonder if Levi would be this comfortable… Hmm, I’ll have to see when he gets home. I'm also going to assume Lathe has seen the pictures from the basement, so he probably knows almost everything now…. Fun.

 

Lathe silently watched Eren doodle. It’s awful what happened to you. I just hope I'm doing an okay job trying to get you through this, out of your own personal Hell. He wrapped his arms back around Eren’s middle. We’ll get you out of this. Swear it.

 

Spades walked back to the basement door, letting out a breath, steeling herself. Her eyes hardened. You need to finish this. Stepping down the stairs, she placed her case on the bottom step, putting on a new set of gloves, removing rulers and tags, and getting to work.

 

The file cabinet was first. She took pictures of the equipment on top, studying the wiring. The cameras feed into this big piece, which I think burns it into CDs. ...That’s fucked up. She dusted over the buttons for fingerprints, finding plenty and taking pictures of them before setting them on the ground, out of the way. She took pictures of the ancient labels on the drawers, dusting over the handles. More prints. She carefully took hold of the top handle, pushing the button and opening it.

 

Rows and rows of Manila folders stared back up at her, each dated and filled with papers, sticky notes, diagrams, descriptions… he was so systematic about it… It’ll take days and days to get through it all. I'm not going to be getting much sleep for a while, am I. But how could anyone do this, so many times, to their own son? She slid it back shut, letting it click back in place. Before anything else, you need to get it out of here. I should've brought the truck. Do I go get it now, or later… Later. Finish everything else. She moved over to the file cabinets, snapping images of the ajar doors, the key dangling in the lock. Prints. Prints. More prints. There’s no way he can get out of this. She opened the first cabinet slowly, and if she hadn't had her camera on a strap behind her neck, it’d’ve busted on the floor.

 

The top row of the cabinet, at her eye level, were jars filled with a dark liquid, masses of flesh still and floating inside them. Masking tape peeling at the ends labeled them, the pencil lines too smudged and faded to be legible. Spades swallowed hard, dusting them. They've been picked up so much- there isn't an untouched millimeter on them. She took pictures of their labels, faded though they be, and the labels on the rows of jars and boxes of medicine below them. The names were odd, ones she had never heard, and the few she did… these were all banned as anaesthetics. They... didn't work. Twenty or more containers and labels, all with dates and notes underneath their names.

 

Twenty minutes after beginning the procedure, effects were apparent

 

Failed to completely render patient unconscious, allowed for continual movement of limbs.

 

No observable effects on patient, rendering them unconscious or otherwise.

 

Spades stopped seeing the labels as words. She refused to register what they said. She took the ones she knew were banned and illegal to possess, sealing them in paper envelopes. I'll need to ask Lathe about which other ones are illegal. He’d know. She looked to the jars again. ...I'm not touching those. They're a biohazard and I'm not equipped to deal with that right now. She cast her eyes to the right cabinet, sighing. ...One more cabinet. It's almost done. She turned the key, slowly opening the metal doors. Her eyes were greeted with the sight of various kinds of ropes. Ropes? She looked further down to a cardboard box, closed… It appeared as though it had been taped shut and opened many times, and it was just falling apart now. The outside was marked with that same wispy handwriting, only this time it was legible, done in a permanent marker: Personal. What could be in here? Spades reached forward and after snapping a few photos of the whole cabinet, she opened the box and almost immediately dropped her camera again. Leather whips, Nine-tail whips, gags, handcuffs… The list could go on, but Spades had to look away almost instantly. The smell from the box was putrid, a combination of blood and sex. She had to stand up and turn around to collect herself again. And to think it could get worse. Calm down, you need to finish this, this will just help drive the nail into getting him a lifetime sentence. She steeled her nerves, slowly returning to the box and opening it once again. She almost gagged at the smell that wafted from that box alone. Spades lifted up her camera, and took pictures before pulling each and every small piece of equipment out of it. She bit her lip as she picked up a majority of the objects. They were caked with a sickening combination of blood, lube, and semen. She went back to her bag to grab the yellow tabs and her rulers, taking careful pictures of all the… ‘instruments,’ before getting DNA samples from a majority of them, and placing them all in their own Manila envelopes. She then hurriedly put everything back in the box and put it back in the cabinet before hurriedly slamming it closed. I'll come back for that later. She let out a heavy sigh, her feet dragging on the floor as she walked back to her case, putting away her tags, swabs, gloves… She shut the top with more force than she needed to. When we find that man someone better hold me back before I kill him myself. How fucked up can you get?! She walked up the stairs, shutting off the lights and closing the door quietly behind her. She looked to her watch. Eleven forty-two… I should have everything back at the station by one or so. She peered in at Eren and Lathe, the latter holding the former protectively. He’s such a nice kid… It's awful how this had to happen to him.

 

Lathe glanced up to Spades, wishing to speak to her. He spoke quietly to Eren. “I need to get up for a sec, Eren, alright? I need to talk to Spades.”

 

Eren looked up to the man and nodded after a few seconds. He slowly and carefully got off of Lathe’s lap and curled up in the corner of the couch to doodle again. He didn’t mind the loss of warmth for now. He’ll come back… I know he will, he’s got to.

 

Spades didn't set her case down. “Come with me.” She led him to the top of the staircase, opening the door again and flicking the light back on. She looked back at him, bringing him down the steps and slowly over to the file cabinets. She turned to him, a fearful look in her eyes. “There are some… jars in this cabinet, and I don't know what they are. I need you to… identify them for me.” She set down her case and took up a pen and paper, nudging the cabinet open with the end of her pen.

 

Lathe’s eyes widened, his face as white as paper. Those are… “That’s...um, they're all human organs… either whole, or in pieces… That first one is… A gall bladder.” He swallowed. “The second is probably sections of a liver. The third through the fifth are all pieces of a kidney… Only one. And the sixth and seventh…” He shivered. “...that’s a spleen. They can't be anything else.” His eyes drifted down to the boxes of sedatives, his eyes widening. “Those… I don't see one that isn't illegal.” He skimmed over their labels, grimacing. “He used these…” He looked at one, his state miles away. “These were all banned because they either didn't work at all, or all they would do is paralyze the body… and the patient could feel everything. They wouldn't be able to tell you until you were done…” He ran a hand through his hair, shutting his eyes. Why. “Is that all you needed me for?” He turned his sad eyes to Spades. Please say yes so we can leave.

 

Her page was filled with numbers and notes. She nodded. “I need to collect all these boxes of medicine, and take them up with me. I have to collect the file cabinet and… Other things…” She tried not to shudder. “So I need to leave and come back with the truck. When I do, it shouldn't be too hard to get that thing up the stairs and in it. And then, we can have a better discussion on this, if you're up to it.” I don't think I'd be able to talk too well about this at this point… But if you need to, we can.

 

Lathe studied his shoes, shook his head. “I- I can't. Not right now.” I need to think more on this. It's so much…

 

Spades offered him a small smile. “It’s fine. I'm not exactly doing too well with all this myself. I think you should go back up, stay with Eren. He’s probably worried about what happened to you being gone so long.” A small light flickered in her eye.

 

Lathe sighed in defeat. “Thanks. For everything.” The gratitude in his eyes was obvious, immense. He shambled over to the stairs, listening to Spades put on gloves again and pick up the boxes. He felt exhausted, for it being only noon. You need to clear your head for awhile. You have a sick teen to attend to, and he’d probably appreciate it if you made lunch already. ...I need to stop being so hard on myself. Chill. Lathe walked over to his laptop, scrolling through a long list of icons. He looked over to Eren. “I'm going to make us something to eat. Do you mind if I play some music? I won't set it too loud.” Please be okay with it.

 

Eren looked up from his work to see Lathe. He nodded but his face gave away a look of discomfort before his body started to shudder as he coughed horribly. He coughed a few times before putting his sketching stuff away and curling up into a tighter ball. “You can play it” he told him, his voice sounded really hoarse after coughing.

 

Lathe winced at his hoarse voice. “Do you want a cough drop? I think I have some.” He walked to his bag after pressing a button, letting the first chords of a song play.

 

Eren nodded and moved to get up to follow Lathe to his bag. He was still wrapped in his large black comforter. He smiled at the song… It was Shooting Stars by Bag Raiders, so of course he started to sing along, taking the cough drop from Lathe.

 

“It’s late I’m awake,

Staring at the wall

Open up my window

Head floats out the door”

 

Lathe looked at Eren with surprise. He knows this song? More importantly, he can sing? His voice is amazing!

 

“No one else around

A shimmer takes my eye

I lift my head

Blinded by the sky”

 

Lathe shook himself from his stunned state of mind, grinning and standing back up, moving to start cooking. I'm not the only music enthusiast around. That’s great! He dug in the bags for bread and tomatoes, fetching mozzarella cheese and fresh basil out of the fridge.

 

“Feel my weight in front

Following the sound

Moves away so fast

Fall to the ground”

 

Lathe nodded to the beat of the song, quietly adding his lower voice to Eren’s as he started cooking, shredding cheese and slicing tomatoes. He saw Spades come up from the basement, and at his inquiring look, she shook her head. ‘Thank you, though.’ Guess it's just me and Eren for lunch, then.

 

“I know there's more to come
Jump back to my feet
Now I only see ahead of me
Chasing down the street”

 

Lathe assembled the soon-to-be-grilled cheese sandwiches in a hot pan, covering them and letting himself sing a little louder to match Eren’s volume. It's nice that it isn't just my voice singing along for once...

 

“Gave my love to a shooting star
But she moves so fast
That I can't keep up
I'm chasing”

 

Eren smiled as he sang. He came into the kitchen to look around for his nausea pills, he wanted to take them so he would be able to eat when the food was ready. The smell was making his mouth water already. Ah, found them! Eren lifted the bottle, so Lathe could see him take them before he put it back and got out a glass for water.

 

“I'm in love with a shooting star
But she moves so fast
When she falls then
I'll be waiting”

 

Lathe flipped the sandwiches and covered them one more time, waiting for them to finish browning. He kept a careful eye on Eren as he took his nausea pill. Just making sure… He took off the lid, avoiding the small cloud of steam and sliding them both onto their own plates, handing Eren one. “Here you go, Eren. Do you want something to drink? More tea? We have milk if you just want that.” You really liked the tea earlier. You didn't seem to be a huge coffee fan, though.

 

Eren looked to his plate and smiled softly. “I would like some tea, if there is some” he said quietly and he sat down carefully at the kitchen table, still wrapped in his blanket. His fever still high. I would love tea, it would probably help my throat.

 

“There’s still plenty. I'll make sure to get more later.” He set the kettle on the back burner. “Do you want any honey in it? I know you're not a big fan of sweet but it’ll help with your throat. I'll make sure it’s still very strong.” You really don't sound good, and losing your voice sucks.

 

Eren thought about it. If it’s not too sweet it should be fine… “as long as it’s not too sweet you can put it in” he told the other and carefully lifted his steaming sandwich to take a bite.

 

...Have I not had napkins around at all? Ugh. He dug into one of the bags near Eren’s foot, opening a small package of them and placing a small stack in the center of the table. “I swear this isn't some passive-aggressive message. Just if you need one.” He grinned, turning back to the singing kettle, finding another mug and letting the tea steep. He put his own plate across from Eren, handing him his tea before nudging some bags out of the way of his chair and sitting down, biting his own sandwich. I hope he likes it. This is one of my favorite things to eat when I'm sick.

 

Eren was already chowing down on the delicious sandwich when Lathe sat down across from him. This is good, but I don't think that I can eat much more… Eren took two more bites before setting half the sandwich down. He couldn’t eat it… fuck… and it was good too. Eren slowly reached to his tea and drank it slowly.

 

Lathe saw the guilt lacing Eren’s eyes, setting his sandwich down and swallowing before he spoke. “You don't have to eat it all. You just started eating on a regular basis. You got through half. That’s wonderful progress.” His eyes glinted. “And they make good leftovers. It’s fine.” Lathe smiled, returning to his own food, studying the bags by his foot as he chewed. I should probably put all that away when I'm done. It’s kinda getting in the way.

 

Eren nodded in understanding. He liked that the tea was still strong even with the honey. He sighed from the relief the tea brought from his scratchy throat. Feels better, I can probably sing better. My head is throbbing though, a lot more than before… Fuck it hurts. Eren reached up to rub his throbbing head, he gasped when he felt just how warm his forehead was compared to his cold hands. He whimpered a bit and tried to curl up to himself. He coughed again, and his throat became scratchy and dry in an instant. His whole body shook as he coughed, he looked even paler than before. I feel like shit… God, I’ve never been so sick before… Fuck… I feel dizzy again.

 

He’s getting worse. He needs to lie down. Setting down his last remnant of sandwich, Lathe stood and swiftly stepped around the table, his arm across Eren’s shoulders, rubbing his arm lightly. “I think you should lie down, Eren. You sound worse than before. Here.” Lathe offered his hand, letting Eren lean on him as he stood up, dragging the blanket behind him on his way to the couch.

 

Eren stood up with Lathe’s help and immediately knew it was a bad idea. Shit, I see fucking stars. Eren reacted sluggishly, trying to grab for Lathe’s arm as he started to keel forward. He missed though and gave a yelp as he crumpled on the floor. Fuck, too dizzy to fucking stand… My body feels like lead… Goddammit. Eren coughed again, curling into the fetal position to keep the pain at bay as his body shook violently with every cough.

 

Lathe dropped down next to Eren, brushing his hair out of his face and feeling his forehead again. He’s burning up even worse than before. I need to get him off the floor. Lathe carefully snaked his arms under Eren, slowly lifting him and the blanket up, stepping to the couch deliberately, trying not to trip on the blanket near his feet. What do I do we need to break his fever and it sounds simple but I don't want anything else I give him to react against the other stuff I already gave him... Lathe set him down on the couch, tugging the blanket to his chin before rummaging in his bag, finding an orange bottle and reading the back. I know it’s for colds, fever, head congestion, dizziness and chills, blah blah blah, active ingredients… It should be okay. Two of them? That works. ...may cause drowsiness. Lathe looked to Eren’s curled form. He could use the rest. Lathe opened the top, shaking two of the tablets into his hand. He handed them to Eren. “One sec, I'll grab your tea.” He walked quickly to retrieve it from the table, coming back to hand him the warm mug, helping him lean up to sip from it.

 

Eren swallowed the two pills. When he was lifted to sip at the tea he felt like his head was going to roll off his neck. It took a few moments for him to rid himself of the dizziness. He took a sip of the tea and was able to wash down the pills. Once he was put down he began to cough horribly, and it sounded almost that with each cough he could very well throw up whatever was in his stomach. Fuck, it hurts, Lathe, help…. Please . Eren whimpered and grabbed at his head when he finally stopped coughing.

 

Oh thank god the coughing’s over, I thought for a minute he wasn't going to keep lunch down. Lathe pet Eren’s head lightly, murmuring softly. “It’s okay, your head will feel better soon. Just give it a moment and you'll be alright.”

 

Eren whimpered a bit and reached out a shaking hand out. He weakly grabbed hold of Lathe’s pants and tugged on them. He wanted to curl up to something. He couldn’t sleep without a body beside him. I don’t want to have a nightmare if someone’s not with me…. His eyes looked a bit fearful as he tugged onto his pant leg, fearful he would leave.

 

What is this thing that is now happening “Uh, what’s…?” Lathe let Eren tug him onto the couch, helping him shift so his head was in his lap, tucking the blanket back in place. He tangled his fingers into Eren’s hair, softly petting him and playing absentmindedly with his locks. ... Alright.

 

Eren had closed his eyes, his breathing evening out rather quickly. His small body curled up to as much warmth as he could. He slept soundly, though his coughs every now and then would jostle him a bit before he would fall back asleep again. He didn’t pull his head away when Lathe ran his fingers through his hair. It feels nice. Don’t stop, Lathe….. Eren drifted off into deeper sleep.

 

Lathe kept softly carding his fingers through Eren’s brunette hair, his gaze miles away. His mind wandered, though he made sure to check every once in awhile to see how his fever was doing. The pills I gave him have always acted fast. He’ll be much better soon. He looked up as a silver truck pulled up outside, Spades retrieving a trolley from the back. She quietly opened the door, fastening ropes hanging around the back of her neck, looking in at Lathe and Eren.

 

She smiled at him, mouthing ‘It’s cool; I can handle one file cabinet. I'll try to be quiet.’ She wheeled the trolley in, closing the door and lifting it down the basement stairs.

 

Lathe kept his attention on Eren, hoping he wouldn't stir. I hope she can handle that cabinet. It didn't exactly look light… Five minutes passed, and he heard shuffling by the basement door, which had been left wide open. A creak, and a quiet thunk. Another creak, another quiet thunk. Eleven more, and she was visible, carefully guiding the cabinet into the hall. She flashed Lathe a smile. She’s got this.

 

Eren’s whole body shivered. He let out a soft whimper because of it, and attempted to curl closer to the other and cocooning himself more into the blanket. The house was still pretty cold, and his fever showed no signs of breaking yet. But the boy went back to sleep as soon as he was comfortable again.

 

Waitwaitwaitwaitwait. Lathe picked up his hands, waving to make sure he had Spades’ attention. He wracked his brain for the right movements, spelling out the half of the words he didn't know. ‘It’s freezing in here. Did you see a furnace downstairs?’

 

Spades parked the trolley so it wouldn't move, signing back, mouthing the words. ‘I think it was on the other side of the stairs. I’ll go check and see if it’s working at all. I should probably call the gas company. It might just be shut off.’ She left the trolley, padding down the stairs. My money's on the latter. Looking at the furnace, it appeared to be in one piece. She went back upstairs, signing to Lathe. ‘Most likely, the gas was shut off. Let me take stuff to the truck, and I'll call around, get that going. Has there been any mail?’

 

Lathe shook his head. ‘There isn't even a mailbox here. There must be a PO Box that everything is going to. How else would they be getting billed?’

 

Spades nodded. ‘I'll call the post offices in town. We’ll get all this sorted out.’ She hesitated, her fingers slowly feeling the air as she thought of the right words. She sighed, determined. ‘We can't forget that Eren is still a minor. I'm hoping I can find them as I go through the files, but we need to find Eren’s papers. His passport, his birth certificate… Lathe, we can't let him go through the system.’

 

Lathe’s eyes widened, his fingers twitching, before signing back rapidly, barely having to think about how the words moved. ‘No no no, I don't think I'm the right kind of person to be responsible for Eren. I'd do an absolutely horrible job taking care of him all the time, and he'd probably get sick of me really fast and I don't know if I'm up for something as important as that, it’s barely been a day and how could he ever trust me enough for that after one day?’

 

Eren’s body shook violently as he coughed again, his grip immediately going for Lathe’s shirt as he was startled from sleep. His body continued to shake even after his coughing fit. He was shivering; his fever had subsided only slightly, not even a whole degree yet… His eyes were wide in full blow fear as his body shook even more violently with a second, much longer coughing fit, he was struggling to get air in as his coughing continued. The sounds getting worse and worse as he continued, clinging onto Lathe.

 

Lathe’s attention immediately switched to Eren, dropping his arms to pet his hair and rub his shoulder, murmuring. You can’t panic now, that'll make it worse. “It’s alright, Eren, you don't have to panic, it’s just a coughing fit, it’ll be over soon...” Come on, this sickness has to give sometime. His fever’s barely gone down. It’s so slow going… But it’s going nonetheless.

 

Eren’s grip struggled to remain on Lathe’s shirt as a third longer fit ripped through Eren’s body. His shudders were violent for each cough, and he was a bit wheezy when if finally ended minutes later, his whole face was flushed red, and he was simply exhausted after going through that. He had still managed to keep his food down too, which was good. He exhaustedly slouched down into Lathe’s lap again and curled up to him. He was awake now, and too scared to go back to sleep at the moment. No, I don’t want to wake up not being able to breath like that again. Though, he was starting to calm down in Lathe’s arms with his soft murmurs.

 

Lathe sighed, relieved that it was over for then, smiling at Eren reassuringly. He looked up to Spades, leaning in the doorway, her arms crossed and one eyebrow raised. She mouthed silently to him. ‘you were saying...?’

 

Lathe blushed, turning his head away a bit and frantically spelling words with his left hand ‘Let me think about everything, okay? It’s a lot to take in all at once.’ Dammit Spades. Stop being… kinda maybe not wrong about everything.

 

Eren was completely oblivious to their conversation. He just started to mumble nonsense in German to calm himself down, his hands still firmly grasping Lathe’s shirt.

 

...That isn't English… Lathe listened to the odd words, bringing his hand back down to gently rub Eren’s shoulder. He considered his shoes as he saw them out of the edge of his sight, shrugging and kicking them off. I’m going to be here for awhile. He crossed his feet on the coffee table, careful not to disturb Eren too much as he petted behind his ear, red still splashed across his cheeks. ...I honestly can't tell how right she may or may not be… I've got the giving-you-this-when-you're-sick-to-make-you-better part of it down, but this part right now, I guess… Kinda? He hasn't hated anything I've cooked so far… I dunno. Maybe. The decision’s on him, really. I'll have to bring it up sooner or later. He barely noticed Spades continuing to move the cabinet out the door.

 

Eren’s murmuring soon died down and he rested his hot forehead against Lathe’s cool skin. “I’m cold” he mumbled quietly and weakly reached for his blanket, trying to pull it closer to his body; It wasn’t helping to keep the warmth around him much anymore. The boy was starting to shiver, his forehead so warm, showing off his fever, while his fingers and toes were icy cold.

 

How else am I supposed to… Lathe, you know damn well what this situation calls for. Just fucking go with it. “Watch out, kid, I'm coming in.” What am I even doing?! Lathe lifted his legs off the table, shifting so he was lying parallel to Eren, who was more or less on top of him. He pulled at the edge of the blanket, bringing it around the both of them. “That alright?” I have no fucking clue what's going on

 

Eren gave a soft giggle as Lathe moved them. He almost instantly curled up to Lathe’s warmth under the blanket, his cold fingers still gripping the man’s shirt weakly. He gave a soft hum of agreement as he curled closer, burying his head into Lathe’s chest. It was amazing how warm his body could be, yet how cold he felt… He felt like his extremities had passed the coldness to the rest of his body. I’m fucking freezing, thank fuck for Lathe. If I was alone I don’t know what I would’ve done. Eren burrowed into Lathe without a single complaint, grateful for the added warmth.

 

Lathe wrapped his arms around Eren under the blanket, rubbing his sides with his thumb. He was still in total panic mode. Somebody help me please. He heard a click from the front doorway, looking up sharply to see Spades with her camera pointed at them, grinning like a madman. That's not what I meant by helping. Spades quietly chuckled at his glare and went back to retrieving things from downstairs.

 

Eren felt Lathe’s warm arms around him and he mumbled something again in German, incoherent to Lathe because of the way Eren’s face was buried in the man’s chest. The boy soon fell fast asleep in Lathe’s arms again, feeling safe in them. He’s warm… And I’m fucking exhausted. Lathe, I hope you’re comfortable, you’re gonna be here awhile….

...He’s out. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. Apparently. Lathe smiled softly at Eren, letting his head fall back against the pillows. How did I get myself into this? Lathe felt the full force of the day's activities hit him, overwhelmed with exhaustion. Well, while I'm here... Lathe yawned, and let himself close his eyes, drifting in and out of sleep.

Chapter Text

 

Levi walked in the front door of Eren’s house, overnight bag slung over his shoulder, shouting out. “I’m ho~me!” Why isn’t the door locked? I thought Lathe locked it behind me. And why isn’t anyone responding? It’s so quiet… Levi shut the door behind him, scanning the front rooms and down the hall. The bags still aren’t put away… Lathe had mentioned something about that earlier. Dumping his bag next to the door and kicking off his shoes, Levi looked to the couch, seeing Eren on top of Lathe, both of them peaceful in their sleep. ...I won’t wake them up. Levi walked over quietly, putting the back of his hand to Eren’s forehead. It’s way down from where it was earlier. It’s not gone, but almost. That’s good. He looked over to the kitchen, at the paper bags surrounding the table, at the plates from lunch still sitting on the table. I’ll get all this put away. 

  

Levi spent the next twenty or so minutes storing boxes and jars in the pantry, the fridge, and on the counter. He stood back, admiring his work. The house actually looks lived in for once. He looked over to the table once more, the two dirty plates and uneaten sandwiches, the mugs and the pan on the stove. I’ll do the dishes. Carrying the plates over first and scraping them into the trash, going to turn on the water. It sputtered for a moment, and stopped. 

  

...Huh. Placing the dishes on the mat in the sink, Levi walked to the bathroom, turning on the tap. More sputtering. That’s not good. Levi tried the faucet upstairs. Did they shut off the water? They shut off the water. The shower refused to work. The toilet wouldn’t flush. This is bad. Coming down the stairs, he turned to the couch, to where Eren and Lathe were sleeping. Lathe. Problem. Help. Levi walked straight up to him and did the first thing he thought of- he brought his hand up and smacked Lathe straight across the face. Wake up, dammit. He saw Lathe wince, still half-asleep, and smacked him again, his eyes barely starting to open. Come on wake the fuck up! Levi went to smack him one more time, but lathe caught his wrist in an iron grip an inch from his face. He was met with a stone-cold glare. 

  

“What the fuck are you- oh, shit. Sorry- excuse the swearing.” Lathe let Levi go, registering the weight on his chest and glancing down at Eren, still asleep. He looked up to Levi, smirking. “Jealous?” 

  

Levi felt his cheeks start to turn red. Lathe you need to stop nooooo…. 

  

Lathe chuckled, his gaze softening, rubbing his sleep-heavy eyes, though they sharpened as he saw Levi’s concern. “What’s up, Levi?” 

  

“They shut off the water. None of the taps work. They sputter at best, before they just run dry.” Levi shifted. “What should we do?” 

  

Lathe studied Levi’s face for a moment, before looking down at Eren, still fast asleep on his chest. He ran his hand through Eren’s brown hair, scanning the grey living room, blood stained into the carpet and on the dark wood furniture, busted and old, the kitchen tiles slashed. Fuck it. “Levi, help me get everything packed up. We’re going to my place.” I’m so done with this. Lathe carefully shifted out from under Eren, trying to let him sleep. He wouldn’t be able to pack much, and the kid’s going to be exhausted for the next week no matter how much or little he does. With some odd footwork, Lathe was free, tucking the blanket back around Eren and putting a pillow under his head. He turned to the kitchen, noting the lack of paper bags. “You put everything away. Sorry you wasted your time, kid. We need everything back in the paper bags, wherever you put them. You do that- I’ll deal with packing the stuff in his room.” I know how to deal with all the drawing supplies. 

  

“Cool.” Levi moved to retrieve the paper bags from the pantry, packing up everything from the shelves. Fridge last. 

  

Lathe slipped on his boots, leaving them loose and unlaced as he walked to his car, getting a cardboard box out of the trunk. He took them off as soon as he walked inside again, padding up the stairs quietly and slowly entering Eren’s room, looking around and trying to decide where to start. Sue first. Everyone could use some dinner after all this. Setting down the box, he took out his phone, quickly tapping away at the keys. Dinner for four. Enough to feed a small army. She can handle that. Lathe put his phone back, awaiting a response. I’d do the desk first- get heavier supplies packed up, then drawings and paintings and such, and then clothes if there’s room left. I can always just have a pile of them loose in the trunk if need be. Lathe set the box down, organizing the desk first before starting to put away palettes, watercolors, dozens of acrylic bottles, oil pastels and pencils of many hardnesses, graphite or charcoal. Books and books of sketches and good drawing paper, into the box. There are at least seven totally full… and a lot of it’s the good kind of paper. There are a couple empty ones, too. That’s so much. ...I approve. Lathe picked up the drawings scattered around the room, running downstairs for napkins from the table to shield the ones in charcoal, in pastel. I’m not letting these smudge. They’re too nice. Sweeping the room with his eyes, Lathe nodded in satisfaction with his upheaval before turning to the wardrobe for Eren’s clothes, pulling it open. 

  

There was barely anything inside- a few black shirts, nearly all of them with long sleeves, and dark hoodies. He only ever wears black? Well, considering... Lathe took one of the hoodie sleeves in his hand, tracing the faint outlines of blood stains with his eyes. Eren, the second you feel up to going out I’m dragging you to the mall. You need more than just this. Dropping the sleeve, he took ahold of all the hangers in one hand, lifting them with ease and walking down to slip his shoes back on, taking them to the car with them. He carefully laid them in the trunk, rolling the bottom half of the stack up and pushing it to the side. He returned for the box, noticing the bookshelf and the books he’d just kinda nudged out of the way. He’s probably gonna want those. Lathe packed those up, careful not to crush any of the drawings. Percy Jackson, good choice… That’s a good Sherlock Holmes one… oh thank god it was Harry Potter, I don’t know how the hell I saw the cover and though it said Twilight... Shouldering the box, he carefully walked down the stairs back to the car, placing it carefully inside. He returned to the kitchen, taking up some of the bags Levi had finished packing. Lathe returned for the last of the foodstuffs, addressing Levi. “You know, we’re almost ready to go-” Lathe nudged Levi towards the couch. “I think out of us, whoever woke him up, Eren would be less likely to maim his boyfriend.” Lathe grinned at Levi’s scarlet face. This is too adorable. “I’m not about to stop, Levi. Now go.” He gently pushed him forward, taking the last bag to the car. 

  

Why did Lathe have to be the shipping type? He’s going to be the death of me… Levi padded over to Eren, kneeling down and petting his hair. “Eren, we need to go. It’s time to wake up. We’re headed to Lathe’s place. We need you at least semi-conscious for the ride.” Come on… wake up, please. 

  

Eren groaned softly before he shifted his head away from Levi’s touch. He then proceeded to snuggle up into his blankets further, his breathing evening quite quickly. This would be a challenge; it was almost like Eren was a bear in hibernation, and you do not want to wake one of them up…. Never. Never wake up a bear. 

  

Levi sighed. Okay, you're being adorable as fuck, but we need you awake. “Come on Eren, I’m all for letting you sleep but we’re moving over to Lathe’s place for now. You can keep resting once we get there. Seriously. Up.” He gently shook Eren’s shoulder. Come on. 

  

<“What the fuck are you doing trying to wake me up, you fucking bastard. I was having some decent sleep until you fucking woke me up asshole! You can suck a bag of dicks for all I fucking care! I don’t want to fucking get up! I am comfortable and warm! So fuck off you fuckwad!”> Eren’s angered voice came out piercing the air as soon as Levi touched his shoulder. He was speaking in fluent German, much more complicated than either of them would’ve been able to understand. < “Give me one good fucking reason not to tear your fingers off one by fucking one, or so help me Satan you will die if I need to get up from this fucking spot!”> Eren’s words came out laced in pain, The morphine fucking wore out, and I am NOT getting up from this couch until my back is numb and I can’t feel it, dammit! 

  

“Damn, kid’s got a mouth on him.” Lathe had an amused look on his face, watching and listening from the doorway. That’s some very... colorful language. I don’t know half of what he said, but I know all the swear words. If he was in class he’d have detention. Lathe crossed the room to his bag, digging for morphine after noticing his pained tone, still smiling. ...but he looks like a puffed-up puppy, so it’s okay. “Here you go, Eren. Morphine for the pain.” He handed him a water bottle. “You’re going to be awake for a little while though. Sorry about that.” Lathe looked honestly apologetic. Sleep is beautiful, I get that. But you can’t keep staying here. There’s nothing really left to use- and my place is cool, so you’ll forgive me later. 

  

Eren raised a shaky hand and took the water bottle, grumbling some German under his breath, low enough that the two of them couldn’t make out a word. He took his pills quietly and then laid back down, waiting for the burning sensation to leave his back. I’m not fucking moving, and you better not pick me up. I will hit you until you are black and blue like a fucking newspaper. 

  

Lathe raised his hands in surrender, backing away. “Okay, okay. Five minutes. Five minutes and then we’ll get you in the car. That’ll be plenty of time for the pills to kick in.” Lathe kept one hand in the air, the other reaching into his pocket to check his phone. One new message. He opened it, grinning. “Let me pack my stuff, then I have some news to tell you.” Lathe moved and quickly took apart his laptop setup, packing it back in it’s spark case. He took his medical bag and brought both out to the car, soon returning. “Okay, so here’s the thing.” He addressed both Eren and Levi. “I’m currently boarding this one college-age woman from Tokyo who’s here studying abroad to work in the medical field. She has an internship at the hospital in the town nearby, but her term here’s up in about a month. Her name’s Sue Litagana, and she’s cool with just being called Sue. I just want you to not be surprised that someone else is home when we get there. She’s making fish for dinner, so we should be able to eat when we get there. Just letting you all know.” He smiled, looking to Eren. “You ready kid? The pills kick in yet?” 

  

Eren’s eyes gave away everything that Lathe needed to know, basically giving away that his body was, in any sense of the word, ‘drunk’ off the morphine. Eren tried to roll over and push himself off the couch, only to realize that he in fact could not perform such a maneuver without help. He gave a soft groan as a plea for help and reached out for Levi’s arm, missing completely, and the arm falling limply towards the floor. Pick me up you fucker, you’re the fucking bastard who woke me up, so you get to fucking pick my sorry ass up!    

  

Levi sighed, moving to wrap his arms under Eren, making sure he wouldn’t drop the blanket as well as he lifted him carefully from the couch, using the comforter as a protection against his back. “Alright, Levi’s got you, let’s make sure I don’t trip on this thing and get you in the car. Levi slipped his shoes by the door back on, carefully balancing on one foot for a moment, before walking to the passenger side of Lathe’s car, a 1955 Ford Thunderbird, black and sleek, in perfect condition. 

  

Lathe watched amused, running over to open the door for them, Levi sitting down with Eren in his lap. “Sorry it’s only got two seats. I didn’t think I’d be chaperoning two kids around. At this rate, I’ll be shopping for a minivan next month.” Lathe cackled, watching Levi’s expression. This is great! He moved to pull the top over them, locking it in place and getting in, starting it with little trouble. “I promise I’ll drive like a responsible adult and less like a maniac than normal.” Lathe looked over his shoulder, carefully backing up into the road and shifting into drive, carefully accelerating. “We can’t risk getting pulled over with you carrying Eren like that.” 

  

Levi braced his feet against the front of the floor space, holding Eren protectively. “That’s not very reassuring.” 

  

“I know how to drive. Be nice and maybe I’ll let you borrow it sometime.” 

  

“In that case, you drive like a fucking God.” 

  

Lathe laughed, his eyes bright. “Thanks, kid.” 

  

<“ He better fucking drive like a god, I am forced to be in this asshole’s lap for the time being and I do not want to go through that fucking window.”> Eren’s voice was soft as he spoke, but he still managed to sound pretty angry as he involuntarily snuggled up into Levi’s chest, looking for warmth. He was still freezing, and being forced outside had completely ruined what heat he had had in his blanket on the couch. 

  

“...I caught the words god, for the time being, and multiple curses. You take German, Levi? Any clue what he’s saying?” Lathe had a smile on his face, smoothly turning a corner, passing Armin’s house. 

  

“Yeah- I think he just doesn’t want to end up through the window. So, be careful is what he’s saying. I think.” 

  

<“What he said, I’m not fucking repeating myself”> He grumbled and shivered again as he curled up more into Levi’s arms. Hmmm…. Short Stack feels just as comfortable as Lathe does… good. 

  

“We’re almost there, no need to get so bent out of shape about it. Two minutes.” They turned down Maria Avenue, soon pulling into a driveway. Lathe shut off the car, opening his door. “Welcome to mine humble abode.” He grinned widely. “It’s been so long since I’ve been here.” Sarcasm dripped from his words. 

  

<“ You were just here this morning you fucking asshat… Get me inside, I am fucking freezing!”> Eren was not pleased with how the temperature had dropped outside in the recent days, and the strong wind tousling his long hair was not appreciated in the least. 

  

“Fiiiiiiiiine. Yeesh.” Levi grabbed the door handle, opening it with his foot all the way and stepping carefully onto the stone driveway, the surface the slightest bit uneven, made of large, flat stones. He lifted Eren out, careful of his head before he hip-checked the door shut, following Lathe to the front door. He looked up the facade of the two-story house, ivy climbing up the red-brick front. An oak tree cast shade over the lawn, and the garden, lined with stones, flourished with red and white flowers, many of them roses. It’s already a beautiful house… very nice. He stepped carefully over the threshold, slipping his shoes off on the front mat, taking in the cozy atmosphere. 

  

The first thing anyone saw coming into the house was a grand piano, polished and shining under lights in the further half of the living room. A couch was pushed against the wall opposite of it, two small dark end tables on either end, with plenty of small pillows. The floor was dark wood, the walls scarlet, and there was gold-colored inscription at the top of the walls in a hand Levi couldn’t read. A large open doorway into the kitchen was to the couch’s left, stone tiles visible, the accents on the dark cabinets a shining gold color. The stairs in front of him were covered in dark brown carpet, leading upstairs and out of sight. The room to the right had a large wood table in it’s closer half, sheet music in the process of being composed scattered all over it, pencils and erasers in various places. Words written in that same slanted hand, this time in black, covered the entire right wall, various insignias and scripts dotting the uniform look. 

  

Levi slowly moved to lay Eren down, letting him sink into the dark cushions and moving to get a pillow under his head. He could smell the fish cooking in the next room. It smells great- dinner should be good. 

  

Lathe likewise toed off his still-loose shoes, walking past Levi and into the kitchen. He smiled at the young woman at the stove. “Hey, Sue. Thanks for cooking for us tonight. It smells great. I've brought company, like I said.” 

  

She looked at him with dark green eyes, grinning back at him. Her dark brown hair dusted her shoulders, nearly hiding her right eye as she grinned. “It’s nothin’ I can't take care of, and thanks. The way you texted makes me think I'll see a lot of these two while I'm here, yeah?” 

  

Lathe nodded. “Yeah. Eren’s going to be living here, pretty much. And Levi- he might as well, with how much he’ll be around.” 

  

Sue glanced to the doorway, a thoughtful look on her face. “Are they…” 

  

“Yup.” 

  

“Ah.” She smiled, turning her attention back to her cooking. “Just curious.” 

  

“Well, don't tease them too much about it. That’s my job.” Lathe beamed. “I have to get a bunch of groceries out of the car- can't have them rotting out there. How long until dinner?” 

  

“Ten minutes, give or take.” Dinner needs to hurry up and finish cooking. I'm hungry. 

  

“Cool.” Lathe left the kitchen, passing Levi and Eren on the couch. Eren had somehow wrangled Levi into laying down with him, his face buried in his shoulder. “Ten minutes. Don't fall asleep on me- I'll feel too bad to wake you up again and let you go without dinner.” Lathe put his boots back on, beginning to fetch bags and place them on the counter of the far wall. After the sixth was inside, he put everything away, rearranging the fridge and pantry for room. 

  

Eren nodded as he found himself curled up to Levi again. He murmured something in German again softly before he stopped and just looked around at the room they were in. The food smells good, really good. I hope that it’ll be as good as it smells. Eren shifted a bit but waited patiently curled up to Levi silently. 

  

Levi played with Eren’s hair, studying the inscription on the wall. He tried to make out the lettering. I doubt it's English. ...or even an actual language. I can't tell. 

  

Lathe walked to the car one last time, retrieving Eren’s things, Levi’s bag in the crook of his arm and his laptop and medicines over his shoulder. He slipped off his shoes at the door. “I'm going to put your stuff upstairs, Eren. I'll show you where you’re staying after we all eat. I might as well put your stuff in there too, Levi.” He sent him a pointed look, smirking before disappearing up the stairs. He turned the corner and opened up the guest bedroom, setting the box at the foot of the full-size bed, hanging Eren’s clothes in the closet. He set Levi’s stuff next to the box. Eren’s room. His face shifted, really looking hard at the room, one he barely entered regularly. He spoke quietly to himself. “This is Eren’s room now.” It was… odd to say. I'm not going to be used to that for awhile… He turned, leaving to go back downstairs and see if Sue had dinner ready, hanging his bags on the end of the banister of the staircase. 

  

She turned to him as he entered. “You can call everyone in for dinner.” She turned off the burner, a kettle singing on the back burner, and started to set plates on the table, waiting on setting out glasses or mugs. 

  

Lathe stuck his head into the piano room, meeting Levi’s eyes as he looked behind him. “Food.” He grinned, returning to help Sue. 

  

Levi nodded and helped Eren get into a sitting position. His steely grey eyes following Eren’s wobbly movements as he tried to stand up in his slightly sedated state. He still looks like he’s drunk out of his mind. “Are you gonna be okay, Brat?” He asked quietly, his voice full of concern. 

  

Eren nodded. “Yeah, I’ll be fine, just give me a minute.” He told him and pushed Levi’s hand away when he tried to offer help again. I can do it myself, dammit! 

  

Levi watched as Eren swatted his hands away but he didn’t complain, only raising his arms in surrender before going to go find the food in the kitchen. It smells incredible… I want it. I’ll trust Eren that he can move himself around, he does seem to be standing well on his own. Levi gave one look back at Eren before entering into the kitchen alone. 

  

Lathe looked up from the counter, smiling at Levi. He turned to Sue, ushering Levi over to her. “Sue, this a student of mine at the high school, Levi. Levi, this is Sue, my boarder from Tokyo.” 

  

Sue offered her hand, smiling brightly. “It’s wonderful to meet you, Levi.” 

  

“Likewise.” Levi accepted her handshake. She seems nice. 

  

Lathe noticed Eren hadn't followed Levi in. He might be using the bathroom… I dunno. I'll give him a minute. 

  

Sue gestured for Levi to sit at the table. “Please, sit. Would you like something to drink? We have milk, tea, coffee, water, whichever you like!” 

  

Levi sat down as directed, finding a seat closest to the far wall. He looked up at Sue after thinking for a moment. “If you have Earl Grey Tea, that would be great, if not water is fine.” He said, his stoic face reappearing, trying to prepare himself for Lathe’s banter. 

  

“Of course! One moment.” She turned to open a cabinet, removing a small box of teabags and a mug with a conceptual sketch of a train on the side. She addressed Lathe as she went about making Levi’s tea. “Lathe, have you heard anything about Dr. Yeager’s disappearance? It’s still in all the local magazines and nobody seems to know anything.” 

  

Lathe froze, setting his coffee mug on the counter from where he was pouring some, looking at Sue and slowly shaking his head, a dark look in his eye. If Eren hears anything about his father, he’s going to flip. “A-actually, Sue-”

  

“You too? You worked with him. Surely you must know something about why he would've left so suddenly.” 

  

Lathe glanced worriedly to the other room. Where’s Eren. And she needs to stop talking about Grisha. He spoke hurriedly. “Sue, I met him once. A-” Lathe, over the singing of the kettle and Sue’s movements, heard something from the scripting room. “Hold that thought.” He quickly padded past the piano, the staircase, to the wall covered in lettering. 

  

Eren slowly walked away from the doorway that led to the kitchen… He heard Sue’s question, his father’s name. No, I…. I can’t go there….. No…. not dad….. Eren felt his chest tighten at the thought of his father. He slowly backed away from the kitchen… the sounds becoming more and more muffled as he was brought away from the source of the voice. His breathing was already starting to become erratic as he turned to run into the other room. His eyes were starting to glaze over as he was taken back into those awful memories. Nononononononononononono……. Please no more…...I don’t want you to poke around inside me anymore….. Please it hurts….. Please stop, daddy please…. I’ll be a good boy….. PLEASE…. “...make it stop...” Eren’s voice was soft as he spoke to no one in the empty room. He had curled up into a small ball in the far corner of the room. The tears had already started falling as Eren pulled at his long brown locks, managing to tear out quite a bit of it. He was starting to claw all the bandages off his arms and wrists as well. Take it off… Daddy did something to it…. Take it off….. I need to take it off… I need to scratch it off…. I want him to stop… It hurts….. I’m gonna die…. He’s gonna kill me! He’s gonna kill me! He’s gonna kill me! Eren got his wraps off after much clawing, reopened a few of the slits on his wrists and he had managed to scratch at his arms until a few of the trails were bleeding. Nonononononono! I can’t have the wrap on! I can’t! I can’t! Daddy did something to it! I saw him drench it in something! Eren began to claw at the bandages under his shirt. He was starting to wheeze as his chest tightened up more and more. I’m gonna die… It need to come off…..I’m gonna die…. Daddy’s trying to kill me…. Daddy’s gonna kill me….. It’s gotta come off…. Eren was freaking out more and more, his shirt had made it off of him, and he started to scratch away at the wraps on his chest, covering them in bloody fingerprints from the small trails running off of his arms as he scratched those as well. Eren’s breathing so wrecked that he was starting to choke as he tried to breath. 

  

Lathe stopped dead, seeing Eren in the corner, scratching like mad at his chest, his arms. Shit. He heard Sue. He sidestepped the table quickly and immediately knelt down next to Eren, taking both of his hands in his own and refusing to let go, looking him in the eye and humming Der Mond ist aufgegangen softly. Come on, Eren. Stay with me. We need you to be okay. It’s fine, I swear. 

  

Eren’s eyes were wide, and glazed over. He wasn’t there with them anymore, he had left so long ago. He was crying horribly, his whole body shaking. He was still struggling to breathe. It hurts… It hurts… daddy’s gonna kill me…. He’s gonna kill me… I'm gonna die…. Eren continued to try and pull his hands away to scratch himself. I NEED TO GET IT OFF!!! Eren’s fists clenched and he struggled to pull away. 

  

Lathe’s grip on Eren’s hands remained steady. He let his humming become singing, still quiet, yet loud enough for Levi and Sue to hear from the kitchen. 

  

“What’s wrong? Did something happen?” Sue started to follow Lathe, before Levi stopped her. 

  

Levi’s eyes widened and he immediately grabbed her by the wrist. “No, stay here, Eren’s having a panic attack. If he sees you he might freak out more.” He explained, before rushing over towards where Lathe and Eren were on the floor in the corner of the room. His bandages were unraveled, surrounding him. At least he’s not bleeding as bad as last time, but I can tell this is worse…. Much worse…. The song’s not even getting to him anymore. Think Levi…. What do I do?....... German….. Speak German to him! Levi sat down on the floor by them and he was gentle as he brushed a few of Eren’s locks out of the way of his eyes. <“Eren, can you speak?”> Levi’s voice was soft and gentle as he spoke the hard language. He knew he could only say certain things, but hopefully it would be enough.

  

Eren’s struggling became worse as soon as he heard those words. No! Dad! Get away from me! Please! Get away! I don’t want to talk! I don’t want to! No, you can’t make me! Eren had finally struggled to get one single fist away from Lathe’s grasp, his body taking over as his fist made contact with Lathe’s nose with adrenaline-filled strength. 

  

Lathe turned his head with a grimace. Fuck. That’s definitely going to bruise. He kept Eren’s one fist in a death hold, trying to grab back Eren’s free hand. 

  

Levi watched what happened and almost instantly knew that Eren was no longer in control with himself. He hurriedly made a reach for Eren’s free arm and with that Eren struggled even more. Eren, you’re not yourself anymore… What happened? What are you going through? 

  

Eren struggled against the two of them, even trying to kick the two of them away from him, until he had to be pinned down to the ground by both of them, Levi on his right side, while Lathe was forced to handle his left. Though this only led into Eren starting to scream and cry harder. “NO! No more! Please! I don’t want it out! I don’t want it out! Daddy stop! Please! I’ll be a good boy! I’ll be a good boy I promise! I don’t want it out!” Eren was screaming, and it was a horrid sound as he struggled to breath and scream at the same time. His body was starting to still under the two of them. He was becoming unconscious from the lack of oxygen as well as from the exertion of having his panic attack. He was still struggling to get out from under them. Get out from the restraints… Get off the table… Be a good boy for Daddy… 

  

Levi’s eyes widened. What the fuck is he talking about? He doesn’t want it out? He doesn’t want what out? This isn’t going well. Levi was able to pin Eren’s right half with relative ease thanks to his pure muscled body. Lathe, the more we pin him the more he’s struggling. What the fuck do we do?. Levi looked to Lathe, only to see the man focused on Eren’s eyes, he still hadn’t come back to them yet. “L-Lathe, what do we do? He’s still panicking…. And he’s struggling to breathe.” Calm down Levi, you don’t need to freak out, this has happened before, Lathe will know what to do. Levi tried to remain as calm as possible. 

  

Lathe hadn't had much trouble either in pinning Eren down, his foot on Eren’s ankle and hand on his wrist. He threw a look over his shoulder, to a bookcase filled with music books and binders. Do I have it? I think I have it. I printed it out after I heard it, so… You,” he spoke decisively, “are going to keep him from following and attacking me. Try not to let him maim you. I have an idea. On my mark, I'm going to let go. Ready?”   Lathe looked Levi in the eyes, waiting. 

  

Levi nodded, keeping his eyes locked on Lathe’s. I need to trust him, he knows what the fuck is going on with Eren. He can help, I need to trust him. I can do this. 

  

An instant of silence. “Mark.” Lathe let go and immediately moved to the bookshelf, pulling out a white binder and flipping quickly through it, skimming the titles of piece after piece of sheet music. Where is it where is it where is it HERE! Snapping it open, he snatched the music before moving to the piano in the other room, sliding onto the bench and arranging the music on it’s stand and flipping the cover over the keys up. His hands stilled over the ivory, the ebony, and began to fly.

  

Levi was still struggling as Eren realized that Lathe had moved away from pinning him. He gave out a sharp cry and his left fist had connected with Levi’s jaw. FUCK. That’s gonna fucking bruise! He’s fucking strong when he needs to be, holy shit! Levi was struggling as Eren tried to force him off. It’s like someone lit a fire under his ass! Lathe hurry the fuck up and do someth- Levi watched as Eren slowly stopped struggling. 

  

Eren was listening to the music, it was pulling him out of his horrible twisted memories of his father pinning him to the table and opening him up in so many sick ways. Music? Where is that coming from? Eren’s body began to relax as he heard the song continue. Mom? Is that you? Where are you? I want you mommy. “M-mom?” Eren’s voice was so much quieter now, not the screaming mess that he was before. He was starting to come back to them, his eyes showed it, and his breathing started to come easier for him. 

  

Lathe continued to sway over the keys, remembering how the piece went, barely reading the music in front of him. He saw Sue watch him from the kitchen, though his eyes wandered back to the scripting room, noticing the screams had quieted. Good… good. Lathe let himself immerse in the sound, still attuned to the quiet tone of feet shifting next to the stairs. 

  

Levi watched in relief as he could slowly release his grip from Eren’s wrists as the boy finally came back to them. That’s it Eren, come back to me… come back to us. We need you back. Levi watched as Eren took in a deep breath and his head moved around. “Eren.” Levi said his name with a breath of relief. 

  

Eren’s eyes were wide, but he was finally back to the real world. “L-Levi?” He asked in a quiet voice, his body totally drained of energy. He reached out to Levi’s shirt, only his arm never made it and he passed out from exhaustion right then and there. 

  

Fuck. Lathe should know he’s okay now. Levi slowly picked Eren up, bridal style. It was easy to pick him up because he was so light, despite his tall frame. He slowly walked with Eren towards where Lathe was. Don't hit his head on something, Levi. Lathe will not forgive you for that. Levi was very careful with Eren and soon was beside the piano where Lathe played. Eren limp in his arms. “Lathe?” 

  

Lathe snapped from his trance, seeing Eren unconscious and immediately ceased playing, his eyes going from faraway to sharp in a second. “Oh my god. Did he pass out while he was still crazed, or was he… back?” Lathe moved to stand, sliding from the bench. 

  

Levi looked to Eren. “He was back…. Where’s his room? He needs to rest, he passed out pretty quickly.” Levi held Eren gently against his chest. He needs to sleep, that as his worst one yet. 

  

“Top of the stairs, turn right, door’s on the right wall, two feet from the corner. I think it’s open. I need to talk to Sue.” He glanced to her in the kitchen. “You go. But remember, you need to eat. Come right back after you tuck him in, okay?” Lathe rested his hand on his shoulder, before letting him go, and walking to talk to Sue about what had happened. 

  

Levi nodded and he went off carefully up the stairs. He was holding Eren gingerly as he followed Lathe’s instructions to go into the large spare room. He gently put Eren down on the bed, helping get him underneath the covers as Eren shivered. Okay…. In bed, check….. Tucked in, check…. Fever, gone…. Thank fucking Satan. Levi removed the back of his hand from Eren’s head before going back downstairs. He was quiet as he came into the kitchen, sitting down in his spot before, without another word. He was seething from what had happened in only a few seconds after Sue had mentioned Eren’s father. 

  

Lathe had stepped into the kitchen, resting a hand on her arm and looking at her intensely. “I'm sorry about what just happened, it's not at all your fault. You didn't know.” Lathe took a breath, speaking quickly. “Eren’s father is Dr. Grisha Yeager. It’s something we don't mention. I know it’s a huge topic in the local news, but speaking about him will really set him off like he did. A lot of awful, awful things happened. I'd ask you refrain from mentioning him. Alright?” He accepted her worried nod, sighing and running a hand through his hair, turning back to the counter to finish making himself coffee. That was the most stressful ten minutes of my life. He sat back down at the table, watching as Levi walked back in, radiating anger. Lathe glanced at him, worried, before carefully nudging Levi’s foot under the table. He hoped his look was enough. Listen Levi- we’re all worried about Eren. But Sue didn't know, and now she does. He’ll be fine. Eren getting better is not the flick of a switch; It’s a slow gradient. But we’ll get there. Swear it. 

  

Levi looked up to Lathe when he was nudged. He nodded, getting the unspoken message before starting to eat quietly. He wondered if Eren would want him to stay tonight. I wonder if he’s okay. My jaw is starting to really hurt now. Fuck it. Levi reached up to rub his jaw to keep it from locking up. 

  

Lathe understood. He tried to ignore the pain in his nose, running up to around his eye. Eren can really be strong if he wants to be, god damn. 

  

Levi looked to Lathe. “Do you have pain medication… like an aspirin or something? An Ibuprofen would work too. Eren’s fist fucking hurts.” Levi let himself swear because he was in pain and he knew Lathe was pretty chill. 

  

Lathe quirked an eyebrow. “Levi, you do know how to make a wonderful impression.” He tilted his head towards Sue. “And sure. I know I could use one too.” He set his silverware down, getting up from his spot to rifle through his bag at the stairs, touching his nose. It isn't broken, thank god. That'd be fun to deal with. 

  

Sue watched Lathe leave, turning to Levi with a meek expression. “I apologise. I did not know I should not speak about Eren’s father. I will not mention him again. You have my word.” 

  

“Good” Levi muttered looking down at his tea mug. He held it around the rim by his fingers, not caring for holding it by the handle. Levi looked up as Lathe entered the room again, this time carrying a small bottle of aspirin. 

  

“Aspirin for days. Here.” Lathe opened the top, handing Levi two tablets. He took two himself, closing the bottle and stowing it in his pocket for the time being. He took his place back, sending Levi a deliberate look. I heard Sue apologise. I hope you can at least try to be nice. 

  

Levi gave a small smile in thanks. He took the pills and swallowed them down with his tea. He was no longer radiating fury as he was a few minutes ago. Levi raised his fork to his mouth, taking in the wonderful taste. “It’s really good Sue, thank you.” He said and smiled softly to her before returning to his stoic appearance and returning his attention to his food. 

  

She gave him a small smile. She spoke quietly. “Thank you.” She turned to her food as well, the air between the two of them calm. 

  

Lathe sighed into his mug, his messy hair hiding his weary eyes. Let’s see… Actual music is now required to calm Eren, who is now passed out of exertion after laying the smack down on myself and Levi, who almost ended up totally hating Sue, who didn't even know what she was talking about would have such a twisted effect. All in ten minutes or less. ...I need to get out less. He chuckled to himself, neither of those in his company noticing. Who am I kidding? 

  

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

  

Eren’s life had become a living hell for the next two weeks after that singular panic attack. His nightmares had returned in full force, and whenever he had tried to go back to sleep he would wake up more distressed than the first time and refuse to try again. He had also started having panic attacks at school, in almost all his classes. Though his attacks were the talk of all the school kids now, no matter how much Armin had tried to shield him from them for the past week, words were always thrown at him in the hallways. Everything from fag to crybaby-bitch. Eren had tried to pull through, that maybe it would get better, but it got even worse when he had a panic attack in the middle of the lunchroom on the Friday of the second week. He was forced to spend the rest of the day with the nurse, who did absolutely nothing for his condition. It was like no one cared. Levi was getting concerned because Eren wasn’t talking to him or texting him, most of the time locking everyone out of his room as soon as he got home until it was time to go to bed, when he would slip in with Lathe to sleep for around 3 hours each night. 

  

This Friday was like no other. He immediately came home, those horrible name following him for a long time as he left the school premises. He was close to tears as he came home and took his bag off and slumped down against the front door, his face in his hands as he cried. His whole body shuddering. “I can’t fucking do this anymore,” Eren cried to himself. Little did he know that Lathe had been home for half the day, and was on the phone with Spades for a majority of the day as well. 

  

“All of them?” Lathe had the beginnings of a grin cracking across his face. 

  

“All of them!” Spade’s voice sounded from the earpiece of the phone. “It took me ages to go through everything, tally up videos and procedures, but it’s all here! His passport, birth certificate, Social Security information, everything! We just need to get you down to the courthouse and fill everything out, and he’s home free! Of course, you've decided?” 

  

“Well, yeah. I have. It's a yes. I think I can handle him. I certainly have the medical expertise to take care of him, and as for the more personal side of it, I sure hope so. I think everything is really going to be okay.” 

  

“That’s great to hear! I'll bring everything down tomorrow. You know where to go, you've been around the building before. I'll meet you in the lobby say, nine tomorrow morning?” 

  

“You got it. I'll tell Eren when he gets home.” Home. “Thank you so much, Spades.” 

  

“Of course! I'll let you go. Tell Sue I said hi!” 

  

“Alright, I will. Bye!” Home. 

  

Lathe heard the door shut, grinning from the desk in his study, leaving piles of medical books and papers to descend the stairs. He stopped short, looking down at Eren’s slumped form, worry taking over his features as he quickly came down the stairs, kneeling next to Eren, pulling him into a hug. “Eren, what’s wrong? What happened?” 

  

Eren pushed Lathe away as soon as the man tried to hug him. “I can’t fucking take it anymore!” Eren shouted at him, his voice drenched in anger and sadness. His fists were balled and he was seething as he stood up. “I CAN’T FUCKING DO IT!” He shouted and he grabbed at his head, tugging at his hair a little bit. “I’m not taking another one of those fucking pills Lathe! You can’t fucking make me do it!” He growled out and stormed off up the stairs and the slamming of his bedroom door sounded only seconds after. He locked himself in again as he went on an angry tangent. Throwing things across the room and screaming to release his pent up fury which was already overflowing. 

  

Lathe rushed up the steps after him, turning the corner as the lock clicked, trying to turn the knob as he heard things start to crash against the walls. FUCK. Lathe felt his pockets, not finding what he needed. He stood and walked to the frame of his room, jumping to feel the top of the frame. He grabbed an odd-looking pin on a key ring, no bends in it. He went back to Eren’s door, fitting the pin into a small niche at the base of the knob handle, feeling it move the bolt aside belfry pushing open the door. 

  

Eren’s room was a complete disaster. His artwork was thrown all over the room, some of his pictures torn apart. There was a singular pillow destroyed and remnants of fluff all over the room’s floor. Eren had picked up any pencils he had on hand and thrown them across the room, leaving marks on any of the walls they hit. He was curled up to himself by his nightstand, clutching onto a pillow as he cried heavily. 

  

Lathe looked at the wreckage, and looked at Eren. Maybe I'm not right for this… Stop thinking that. It's not you, it's got to be the PTSD pills he's taking. “Eren, I don't think what you have now is enough.” Lathe slowly moved forward, sitting across from Eren on the floor, a respectable distance from him. 

  

Eren watched him come closer, tears still streaming down his face. “I’m not taking any more pills, Lathe. I refuse wholeheartedly.” He repeated and looked away from the other as he sniffled, holding the pillow closer to his chest as he tried to calm down. 

  

Lathe’s eyes wandered the carpet between them. You did something wrong in prescribing them, then. And you thought you had the expertise. It’s a case-by-case reaction to certain medicines sometimes! There’s got to be one that'll work right somewhere. “...That's not what I mean. I understand your PTSD pills haven't been working well at all; I admit, they're not the ones you need. I won't let you take those specific ones anymore, but you need something else for it. But I'm not talking about giving you more pills.” He looked him in the eye, his features soft. “I'm talking about getting you a service dog.” 

  

That seemed to get Eren’s attention. “A service dog?” He asked quietly and he scooted closer towards Lathe, trusting him a little more right now, as soon as he said he could stop taking those fucking pills. “Will they let me come to school with it?” He asked quietly. He had no idea how one would work at all, and he was calming down more as he thought about a dog. A dog can’t judge me… It can’t call me names either.    

  

He's calming down. Good. Eh, it won't last long. God knows you'll do something to fuck it up. No I won't. We need to talk about this and I'm trying to be careful with it. “They definitely will. A service dog can come with you pretty much anywhere you go. They’d make sure to keep you away from anything that can hurt you, and can tell right away when you're uncomfortable so they can calm you down. They can ground you during a panic attack if they have to. They can be trained to perform certain tasks, too. I think one would really help.” Lathe smiled gently. 

  

“You’ll let me keep one here?” He asked quietly as he curled up to Lathe’s side, he was completely calm again after his little meltdown. He was talking about how this wasn’t really his house at all, that he didn’t really live here, would Lathe really be okay with him getting a dog? 

  

Lathe, for an instant, looked incredulous. How would I not? For you, “Eren, this is-” Home. Lathe swallowed, starting again. “Eren, I've been on the phone with Spades all day. She found your papers- passport, birth certificate, everything. I have the opportunity to go to the courthouse tomorrow morning… and if I filled out some paperwork, I would be your legal guardian by this time tomorrow. This would be your home too, then. Not just mine.” He held onto Eren’s middle protectively, resting his chin on his head. “I want to know if you’d trust me enough to be your guardian.” 

  

Don't do it Eren. I'm no good at this… 

  

Please say yes, I'll do my best to keep you safe and happy! 

  

It's a bad idea, I wouldn't listen to him. 

  

Come on, I'm not that bad! 

  

Yes, you are. For all we know you'd forget to feed him and let him starve. 

  

Come on, I'm a great cook! 

  

Riiiiiiight, so you wouldn't force him to eat burnt macaroni for the rest of his life. I totally believe you. 

  

...That’s just cruel. 

  

So is boring him to death. You're not exactly an interesting person. 

  

What? That's ridiculous! We can do any crafty or musical stuff or whatever he wants, you name it! And I'll help him take good care of his service dog. 

  

You're lying. 

  

I'm not! 

  

Say no, Eren. 

  

Eren, say YES! 

  

Eren moved his head and stared at Lathe for what felt like hours. He was still trying to process everything Lathe had said. He’ll take me in? He’ll let me stay? I’d have a real home? He would let me get a dog? Eren was very quiet before he nodded slowly, putting his head back under Lathe’s chin to curl up to him again. “I trust you, Lathe” he spoke quietly with a small smile on his face as he leaned his head against Lathe’s chest. I get a home, with an awesome…. Would I call him ‘Dad’ now? Or would that freak me out? 

  

Lathe felt as if he had shrugged a lead jacket off his shoulders. He sighed, relieved and ecstatic, resting his cheek on Eren’s head. Thank you. “That means a lot, Eren. Everything that I have, it’s yours, too.” Don't fucking cry, you sap. Quit it. “That means I now expect plenty of piano music. And you're going to have to deal with a lot of awful puns. I hope you're prepared for all that.” Lathe grinned, allowing one tear to trail down his cheek, his eyes shining. Oh my God how did he say yes. 

  

Eren smiled as he curled up to Lathe there, in their own moment. Perfectly content. 

 

Chapter Text

Eren had eaten dinner silently after their conversation. He was still thinking about everything Lathe had said. He’ll let me have a dog? What happens when I have a dog? Do I need to walk it? When do I feed it? Eren finished up his plate and looked over his phone. He had gotten a text from Levi saying that he wouldn’t be able to come sleep with him tonight. They were in Sina county for a late night game. ...I wonder if I can stay with Lathe tonight. He slowly walked up to Lathe as the older man was cleaning the dishes. He slowly tugged on the man's shirt waiting for his attention, still so much like a small child. 

  

Lathe turned to him, stopping the tap and reaching over for a towel to dry his hands, smiling warmly. “What’s up, Eren?”    

  

“Umm…. Can I-” Eren’s face flushed red all the way to his ears. “Can I sleep with you tonight? Levi’s in Sina… For football.” He looked up to Lathe with innocent and hopeful eyes. By now Lathe must’ve known that he needed to sleep with someone to actually fall asleep. 

  

Eren… “Of course you can. It’s cool.” He gently ruffled Eren’s hair. “Let me finish with the dishes, and I'll come upstairs, alright? You get ready for bed. Tomorrow’s a big day, you know.” He had a glint in his eye. There’s a lot going down tomorrow. Hope you're up for it all, Eren. 

  

Eren didn’t release his grip yet. He shuffled his feet as he looked down at them. 

  

...that’s not all you had to ask me, is it? “There something else eating at you, Eren? I've got answers.” Lathe let his hand rest on Eren’s shoulder. You don't have to be afraid to ask me something. 

  

Eren swallowed hard before he looked up to Lathe’s gaze again. “Do I need to take the pills tonight?” He asked quietly, his voice sounding very conflicted. 

  

Lathe barely had to think about it before he shook his head. Those were awful. “Those weren't right specifically for you. We need to find you something better, but until we do, you don't have to take another one of them.” Awful.

  

Eren gave out a sigh of relief before hugging Lathe hurriedly. “Thank you!” Eren let go soon after and then bounded off to go get into his black oversized pajamas that he always wore. He grabbed a pillow that he always slept with and headed towards Lathe’s room, leaving behind the black comforter. 

  

Lathe chuckled, finishing the dishes quickly and loading the dishwasher before heading upstairs. He grinned as he saw Eren sprawled across his bed, padding over to a dark wood dresser, fishing for sweatpants and a tank top. “Give me a sec, Eren. I'll be right back.” He walked to the bathroom, quickly changing and brushing his teeth before returning, dumping his clothes in a laundry bag. 

  

Eren watched Lathe come back and his eyes locked on Lathe’s left arm. He has tattoos? They look cool, I wonder when he got them? Eren’s curious gaze followed his soon to be new father figure. 

  

Lathe noticed Eren’s wide-eyed look, glancing to his arm. “Oh, the tattoos? Pretty cool, huh?” He grinned, inspecting them. “I dunno, I always wanted to get one when I was younger, and I just ended up getting a bunch of them.” My only complaint is covering them with long sleeves in the summer. Damn you, professionalism! He moved back the red quilt on his bed, hopping up and reaching over to turn off the light on the stand next to his bed. 

  

Eren watched him climb in bed and he curled up to Lathe’s side as he got comfortable. “Thank you, Lathe.” Eren said and buried his head into Lathe’s chest, smiling. 

  

Lathe smiled. “Of course, Eren.” He wrapped his arm around him, rubbing his arm with his thumb. I got you. 

  

Eren smiled, quickly falling asleep. He slept the whole night for the first time in two weeks, though the only downside was that he woke up at around 5 am, still curled up to Lathe. He stayed still, not wanting to wake him up. 

  

Lathe cracked open one eye about a half hour later, trying to make out the time on the clock on the wall opposite them, reading the hands. I'm on school time, obviously. Eren’s probably still dead asleep. He carefully shifted away from Eren and out of bed, padding over to the stairs. Coffee first. Then maybe I can do something downstairs before I have to get ready for the courthouse. 

  

Eren watched Lathe get up and got up as well, though he was quiet as he stepped quietly to his room to get dressed in dark wash jeans, a black t-shirt, and a black hoodie as well. He put on some socks he found in his box of clothes before silently creeping downstairs and towards the kitchen. He’s probably making coffee. I wonder if I can have some tea? 

  

“Want something to eat, Eren?” Lathe looked over his shoulder at him. I have ears like a bat. 

  

Eren stretched as he walked into room, letting out a small squeak as he did so. “Breakfast would be great.” 

  

...that’s the single most adorable sound I have ever heard. “Alright. Do you want tea? We have at least three kinds in here.” He opened the cabinet above him, showing a small collection of boxes. 

  

“What’s the tea I had at my house?” He asked quietly and examined the different boxes. He just said it was tea, I didn’t know there were different kinds of tea…. So what did I have last time? That was really good. 

  

Lathe tapped a light grey box. “This is what you had last time. There are a bunch of different kinds and brands, but this one is honestly my favourite. There are kinds like green tea, and they can come with different flavours, like mint… but you can always try others later if you just want to stick with what you like.” As he spoke, he set a kettle with water on the back burner. 

  

Eren thought about it for a little bit before taking the light grey box and opening it carefully. He pulled out a tea bag from the box and looked at it carefully. “How do you get tea from this?” He asked and looked to Lathe with a curious gaze. He was quite the curious one. 

  

Curious? Lathe grinned, picking the bag up by its tab. “What you do, is when you pour hot water into a mug, you put the bag in and leave this little tag on the outside. The tea leaves are in this little bag, and the water draws its color and flavour from the leaves, and the flavour gets stronger the longer you leave it in. It’s in the little bags so you don't have bits of leaf floating in your tea.” He found a mug as the kettle started whistling. “Here, let me show you.” He filled the mug with hot water, placing it on the counter. He handed Eren back the small teabag. “Now, just dunk it it and let it sit for a minute. Don't let the tab fall in, though.” 

  

Eren nodded and put the tea bag in, not letting the small tab fall in, holding is tightly between his thumb and his forefinger. He watched as color slowly began to spread from the teabag into the surrounding water. Eren quickly became entranced and watched the tea steep curiously. 

  

Lathe watched Eren out of the corner of his eye, smiling at his curiosity. He studied the fridge’s contents, looking for something he could make. He decided eggs and bacon would be fine. He placed them on the counter, noting the time on the clock. Sue would either just be getting up now, or… He listened intently for a moment, hearing small footsteps upstairs. Yep. There she is. He set two pans on the stove, one for eggs, and one for bacon, covering the latter with a lid so it wouldn't spit. “You can take out the teabag whenever you think it’s strong enough.” 

  

Eren nodded and waited until the tea was as dark as he remembered it last time, so he pulled the tea bag out and looked around for a garbage, quickly finding it under the sink so he went for it and tossed the used bag out. He blew on the steaming liquid before raising it to his lips, letting out a soft sigh and going to sit in the same seat Levi had sat in for dinner the first night. 

  

Lathe turned the bacon, letting everything finish cooking before sliding three eggs and two pieces of bacon onto their own plates. He set one in front of Eren, one in his place, and one where Sue normally sat, glancing up to the doorway as she quietly stepped in. “Good morning, Sue.” 

  

She responded with a yawn, going to pour herself some tea as well. “Good morning Lathe, Eren.” She smiled sweetly at Eren. “Did you sleep well?” 

  

Eren nodded as he stayed where he was. “G’mornin’” Eren slurred a bit as he sipped at his hot tea, more focused on it than any conversation really. Though Sue was probably used to it by now, Eren barely talked at home, and he was almost always sitting around the piano, either doing his homework on the floor or sitting on the stool and playing various songs that he knew like the back of his hand. 

  

Sue sat down at her place at the table, thanking Lathe as he handed her silverware. She was relatively quiet as well. 

  

Lathe broke the quiet. “Sue, when’s your shift at the hospital over?” 

  

“It ends at around five, but I'm going to be out doing research at the library for awhile. I'll be home, say, nine?” 

  

“Alright. Well Eren, you've got the place pretty much to yourself for the day. I'm going to be out at the courthouse for quite a while, so I won't be back until around four. I'm sure you can handle holding down the fort.” Lathe grinned at Eren, and then a thoughtful look overtook his features. ...He hasn't been downstairs at all, has he? 

  

“C-can I call Levi over?” He asked quietly looking up to Lathe from his plate. He didn’t want to stay in this house alone… But if Levi can’t come over I can just play the piano until my fingers hurt… That always keeps me busy. Eren looked down at his food again and took another bite, he was getting better at eating his meals thanks to his pills, but he still couldn’t eat everything. 

  

“‘Can I call Levi over’ he says. Of course you can. That’s not even a question at this point. He practically lives here anyway.” Lathe took another drink of coffee, amused. 

  

Eren nodded, finishing up what he could of his plate before taking his dish and starting to wash the dishes. He was a really good kid, cleaning up after himself and even the mess from the task of making breakfast. 

  

Lathe finished soon after him, taking his plate to the sink and putting the ingredients away helping Eren dry the dishes. “Thanks for helping clean up, Eren.” Lathe set the last of the plates in the cupboard. “There’s a lot of time before I have to be anywhere. Do you want to see the workshop downstairs?” 

  

“D-downstairs?” He asked, his eyes showing a bit of fear. He swallowed hard. He means the basement…. He’s talking about going to the basement…. “T-the b-basem-ment?” His fear causing him to stutter as he slowly backed away from Lathe. But who could blame him after what had happened to him so many times before. 

  

Lathe saw his fear, trying to placate him before he could panic. Think. It's getting harder and harder to bring him back when he panics. “Eren, it’s nothing like what you might think. It’s an artists’ playground. There’s just a lot of crafty stuff to do. I'm not going to make you if you don't want to go downstairs.” He raised his hands in surrender, staying put. 

  

Eren watched Lathe and he stood his ground as well, he seemed to visibly relax once the word ‘crafts’ was mentioned. Does he mean like macaroni and little kid things? Or like paints all over and easels? “C-can y-you turn on a-all the lights, f-first?” He asked quietly. He really wanted to see it. I want to see what he considers crafts. 

  

“Alright, I will. The door’s in the scripting room.” Lathe walked past Eren to the scripting room, opening the dark door and flicking on five light switches on a panel just at the top of the stairs. He turned to Eren, who had followed him and stopped at the staircase. “They're all on. I'll go down first, okay? You take as much time as you need.” Lathe slowly descended the wood steps, hand ghosting over the railing as he made his way to the bottom. 

  

Eren took the stairs one step at a time, sometimes having to calm down his breathing between each step, finally reaching the bottom of the staircase before he peered in cautiously. 

  

The far wall was entirely a chalkboard, covered in schematics and various sketches, some samples of different writing styles, and random insignias. A large table was centred in the closer half of the room, piles of variously-sized paper in the centre, a mix of stools and chairs pushed underneath to save space. A large shelf on the wall to Eren’s left held boxes and boxes of pencils, graphite and charcoal, professional markers, and oil and chalk pastels, as well as smaller stacks of professional paper. The wall opposite it had a similar-looking shelf, this one with all colours of acrylic and oil paints, watercolour palettes, and many kinds of brushes. A few small boxes of baking clay and unopened models were among them, lined by tiny glass bottles of enamel paints. An easel was set up, a few blank canvases leaning against the wall. A simple quilting sewing machine was pushed in the corner, a box in front of it filled with scissors, pins, spools of thread and bobbins, measuring tapes and scraps of fabric ready to be sewn together. Various sketchbooks were left around the room at random, many of them nearly full. 

  

Eren looked around the room with amazement flooding his wide viridian eyes. He checked out all of the   boxes of pencils, all the markers in nearly every color imaginable. Eren was blown away by just how much was down there. He was careful with everything he touched, still unsure about using anything in this house, like Lathe told him he could. Does he mean even all of this? I can come down here whenever I want? 

  

“You can pull out some of the boxes if you want, set up and work if you like. You don't have to be skittish about using what I've got down here. I meant it when I said what’s mine is yours. As of now, you have free reign down here.” Lathe’s eyes were bright, light flickering past. Go ahead. I can tell you really want to. 

  

Eren gave him a look that simply asked, ‘Really??’ The boy maneuvered carefully through the room, collected a box of chalk pastels and some pieces of good paper before he set up at the table and started to make a mess of his hands and arms. So many colors clashed against each other as he enjoyed himself over his artwork. He looked happy, and he would probably be spending a lot of time down here too. 

  

Lathe smiled as Eren began working so enthusiastically. He looked to the clock on the wall. 7:30. Is that too early to call? Eh, probably not. Eren’s involved. Levi won't mind. “Eren, I'm going to run upstairs, call Levi and invite him over, alright? You're kinda…” He motioned to Eren’s already chalk-covered hands. “...occupied.” 

  

Eren looked up at Lathe once he started speaking then down at his hands. “Yeah, you can call him for me.” His attention immediately going back to his art work. This paper is such high quality! And he has almost all the colors for this brand!! Lathe you are the fucking best! 

  

Lathe walked up the stairs, going to the phone in the kitchen. Now what was Levi’s number… eh, let's see if I remember. Lathe pressed the buttons he thought were right, holding it to his ear. He grinned victoriously as he heard Levi’s sleepy voice. 

  

“...Hello?” Who the fuck are you and what the fuck could you possibly want. 

  

“Hey Levi! It’s Lathe- I'm calling from the house. Eren wants to know if you could come over for the day- I'm going to be gone for a while and he’d like your help holding down the fort.” We all know the real reason, but that works too. 

  

Levi rubbed his eyes, swinging his legs over the edge of his bed. Yes! “Sure, that sounds good. I'd need a little while to eat something and get changed. Give me about half an hour, okay?” 

  

“Sure! Try not to keep the bf waiting too long, though.” Lathe laughed at Levi’s exasperated sigh on the other end. “No, I'm not going to stop.” 

  

“Laaaaaathe…” 

  

Never.” Lathe grinned, chuckling. “I'll see you soon.” 

  

“‘Course. Bye.” 

  

Lathe pressed the end button on the phone, placing it back on the hook. He walked back over to the scripting room, pausing as Sue passed him from the foot of the stairs, dressed for work. “I'll see you later, Sue. Oh, and Sue,” he caught her arm. “You don't have a problem with dogs, do you?” 

  

She looked at him with confused eyes. “No, I don't. Why, may I ask?” 

  

“Eren’s getting a service dog really soon, possibly today. I just had to make sure.” 

  

“Oh, well I wouldn't have any problems with it.” She smiled brightly. “I'll be home at nine.” She turned back to get to the garage. “Goodbye, Lathe!” 

  

“Bye, Sue!” Thank god, no problems. It'd only be two weeks, but I'm just glad we won't have any immediate issues to deal with. He turned to run up the stairs and retrieve his phone, stowing it in his pocket before he went to walk back down the stairs to the basement, going over to the shelf and skimming over the many boxes. He picked a box of markers, selecting a medium-sized piece of paper and setting up adjacent to Eren. 

  

Eren didn’t seem to either mind or notice really. He was too engrossed in his beautiful mountain scene. There were a lot of colors everywhere, and it made the picture all the more vibrant. He had a small smile on his face as he continued to draw and color. 

  

Lathe had many maroon and copper and gold-coloured markers scattered around him, paying careful attention to his drawing of the mechanical insides of a watch. He looked up to Eren’s work, soon just opting to watch him work. He’s so good… Damn. Lathe looked up as he heard the doorbell ring. “I'll get it.” He stood from his stool, quickly walking to let Levi in. He slid across the wood, unlocking the door and opening it for Levi, grinning. “‘Morning, Levi. Come on in.” He stepped back to let him in. 

  

Levi toed off his shoes, a bag slung over his shoulder, his eyes catching Lathe’ arm. “Damn, nice tattoos.” He looked up at the piano, surprised Eren wasn't playing. Huh. “Where’s Eren? He's always playing the piano.” 

  

Lathe smiled, closing and locking the door behind him. “Thanks. And Eren’s downstairs in the workshop, going to town with chalk pastels. He’s crazy good.” Like, seriously good. Like, god level good. 

  

He has a workshop? And it’s in the basement? And Eren went down there voluntarily? “You have a workshop? That’s a thing?” 

  

“It is indeed a thing. He’s probably going to insist on chilling there for awhile. I hope you like art!” Lathe beamed, leading him to the stairs to the basement. He called to Eren as he clomped down the wood steps. “Eren, bae’s here!” 

  

Stoooop… “Hey Eren.” Levi walked up behind Eren, leaning over his shoulder. “What are you drawing?” 

  

Eren looked up and his smile grew a bit as he saw Levi. He smiled and showed off the beautifully detailed picture. The picture was so good, people would probably pay to have it framed in their home. “The mountains” He leaned back a little and poked Levi’s nose with a pastel-dusted hand, effectively leaving six colors all over Levi’s nose. Ohh, I got six on him. Eren couldn’t help himself from starting to laugh at the oddity of the color across Levi’s face. 

  

...there’s pastel all over my nose, isn't there. Levi blushed, trying to brush the stubborn dust off his nose, only managing to spread it around. And now there’s dust on my hands. 

  

Eren giggled more as he turned around and put both of his hands on Levi’s cheeks and just laughed at the multiple bright colors it left in the shape of his hands on Levi’s cheeks. The boy couldn’t stop laughing. This is too good, Oh my god can I take a picture please?? Lathe! Help! Picture!! Get a picture of him! 

  

Lathe answered his thoughts with a flash of movement and a click, catching Levi by complete surprise. He chuckled as he looked at his phone screen, seeing Levi’s image. “That is the best picture I have ever taken.” Oh, yes. 

  

Oh no. “Lathe, give me that.” Levi held out his hand imperatively, taking a step toward Lathe. 

  

Lathe stepped back, holding his phone protectively, wearing an impish grin. “Nope!” 

  

Lathe.” Demanding. 

  

Levi.” Defiant. 

  

“Eren!” Eren called out his own name and basically attached himself to Levi. He had cleaned his hands off with wipes he found laying around, so now he was on Levi’s back his arms around Levi’s chest and his legs wrapped around his waist. He giggled and smiled at Lathe, tempting him to take another picture. Take it! Take another picture!! DO IT NOW!! 

  

This is too perfect! Lathe quickly took at least five pictures, grinning like a madman. 

  

Levi caught Eren’s legs, stepping to keep his balance. “Oh my god Eren! I liked this shirt.” 

  

“I cleaned my hands, thank you very much!” Eren pouted when Levi accused him of having dust all over him. “It comes out too! You don’t need to worry” He pouted rested his head on Levi’s shoulder, making a whimpering noise. That’s it Eren, entice him to apologize to you. 

  

How can you be this fucking adorable so early? Alright, alright… “Fine.” He spoke quietly. “Sorry.” He looked to his left, away from Eren’s pouting face. Happy? 

  

Eren smiled again. He reached around Levi further, his wraps were only slightly covered in dust as he pulled his arms around Levi’s chiseled chest. He nodded and then buried his face into the crook of Levi’s neck. Well at least he’s not mad. I wasn’t lying when I said that it comes out. Eren’s arm wraps would probably need to be changed after he was done as well. He smiled softly again as he felt Levi’s strong muscles under his shirt. I wanna draw it…. It would look heavenly…. That one would go in my bedroom. Yup, it’s decided, I’m fucking drawing him when Lathe leaves.   You can’t say no either, Levi. HA! 

  

Lathe tapped furiously on his phone, sending the pictures to his laptop. He glanced up to Eren, noting the glint in his eye. The kid’s got an idea- that could mean a lot of different things. He looked to the time on his phone. “I've got to start getting ready upstairs.” He moved to pack away the markers quickly, replacing the box and putting his unfinished drawing on an open shelf. “I'll be out of your hair soon enough.” He walked up the stairs, heading for the bathroom to wash up. 

  

Eren smirked evilly and looked at Levi. “You wanna help me with something?” His voice was innocent but his eyes were anything but. He almost had a full cheshire grin on his face as he looked at Levi.   Please say yes… Please say yes! 

  

Levi swallowed hard, looking at Eren. Fuck. “Uh… s-sure.” That's not intimidating in any sense of the word at all. “W-what do you need me to do?” 

  

Eren slowly slipped himself off of Levi and stepped back a bit to get a few boxes of charcoal pencils and a very large sheet of paper. “Take your shirt off.” Eren muttered to him as he tried to look around for a good lighting source for what he wanted to draw. This is gonna be awesome! 

  

...Oh. “O-okay.” Levi hesitated for a moment before lifting his shirt over his head, showing off his toned muscles, his abs well defined. He tossed his shirt onto the table, rubbing the back of his neck. 

  

Eren turned to look at Levi and he stood there in shock for a few seconds. I knew he was buff, but…. Holy SHIT! How does he not have a girlfriend right now?? I mean, really? He’s got to be the hottest guy in school. Oh well. “Come sit over here.” Eren motioned to the chair directly underneath a light fixture. He needed to position Levi the way he wanted to draw him. I've got him now. 

  

“Um, okay.” I'm not sure about what's happening. Levi sat down, waiting patiently for Eren’s next instruction. 

  

Eren smiled softly and carefully positioned Levi so his arm was hanging over the back of the chair, his muscles nicely displayed. His other hand was positioned with his thumb hooked on the hem of his pants, showing off his v-line before Eren stepped back and nodded. He scampered off towards his paper and charcoal pencils. “Don’t move.” Those were Eren’s only words before he started to draw Levi’s immaculate body. 

  

This is quite the compromising position to be in whilst also not being allowed to move. Uh… Levi studied Eren as he worked, whose eyes moved over his chest before carefully picking different pencil after different pencil to outline and shade his form. I wish I could see how he was doing... 

  

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

  

“Spades, I'm beginning to think you've handed me the same form three times just to annoy me.” 

  

“I have not. And be patient. There’s not that much left to do.” 

  

Lathe grinned at her, twirling the black pen expertly. “You said that more than an hour ago.” 

  

Spades rolled her eyes, a light smile on her face. “Well, I mean it this time. These last two aren't as long as some of the other forms.” She slid him the last two papers, leaning back in her chair. “This is a big thing you're doing.” 

  

Lathe looked at her, giving a breathy laugh. “I'm just glad he won't have to worry about his father anymore.” The pen danced quickly over the page, the same information for what seemed to be the seventeenth time. “I just hope I know what I'm doing.” 

  

“You'll be fine.” She cocked her head, studying him. “You were talkin’ earlier about something like his pills not workin’ right?” 

  

Lathe sighed. “Yeah. His PTSD and nightmare pills were doing the opposite of what they were supposed to. He’s off them for the time being, until we can find him something that’ll actually do what it’s supposed to. I actually kinda wanted to ask you about that. You know lots of people.” He looked up to her. “Do you know anywhere we could find a good service dog? Specifically for PTSD, I mean. I really think Eren would benefit from having one.” 

  

Spades tucked a fiery lock behind her ear, her blue plastic earpiece visible. “I do know a guy for that, actually. He’s paired a lot of service animals with the victims of cases I've dealt with before, a wonderful trainer. His name’s Moblit Berner. I'll text him, see if he has one.” She pulled out an iPhone, tapping away. 

  

Lathe continued writing as she waited for a response, finally moving on to the last page. One more. One more and he’s home free. 

  

Spades beamed. “He’s got one.” Her smile fell a bit as she kept reading his messages. “They've tried to match him with someone three times already… There hasn't been a good fit.” That’s not exactly good. He’s more likely to not be a good match for Eren... 

  

That's not the best thing you could hear, but it’s a possibility. “We’ll just have to hope.” Lathe had a determined look in his eyes. Eren needs to get better. No matter what. 

  

Spades grinned. “That’s what I like to hear. He’s about an hour from here, pretty much in the middle of the city. That’s where they get most of their training done, around so many people. I'll have him know you're interested. You going to go over today?” 

  

Lathe thought a moment. He'd definitely be up to it. “Yeah, tell him we'll come on down later today, no later than six, if that's alright.” 

  

It's about four now… cool. “Fabulous. He’ll be expecting you.” Spades looked as Lathe signed the last page, sliding the papers from him and handing him the envelope with Eren’s papers in it- his passport, his birth certificate, everything. “That’s it. Congratulations, Lathe. You're now Eren’s legal guardian. Try not to kill him, will you?” She joked, her grin a mile wide. You’re going to do great. 

  

Lathe dropped his arm, the pen in his hand hitting the table with a final-sounding clatter. “That’s it.” He laughed. “That is it, isn't it?” I just did that. 

  

Spades pushed her chair back, standing. “Come on, you can skip to the excited stage of this any minute now.” She walked with Lathe out of the office they were in to the hall, the lobby, the parking lot. When she next looked over, Lathe was beaming, running both his hands through his hair in disbelief. 

  

Lathe paused at the bottom of the steps, looking at her intensely. “Spades, thank you so much.” The gratitude in his eyes was powerful. 

  

She chuckled. “Of course, Lathe. I'm just doing my job. But thank you, for doing something wonderful.” She patted his arm. “I've got to get going, and you've got things to do, right?” 

  

“Right. I'll see you later, Spades.” 

  

“See you.” She turned, walking off to her car. 

  

Lathe walked back to his car, only able to think about what he had just done. 

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

  

Eren had not left the confines of the workshop downstairs. He was so engrossed in his art that Levi had to physically take his pencils away to get the boy to eat anything. Eren had created a beautiful picture of Levi’s built body; he didn’t include Levi’s head though. He had focused on the contours of his body and damn, did he do it justice. Eren was pleased when he had showed Levi the picture to get his shocked reaction out of it. He had been in a good mood all day, which of course Levi was curious about but he wasn’t about to ruin Eren’s mood asking him what was up. However, soon he was compelled to ask as it drew later in the evening and Eren had done nothing but draw. 

  

“Oi, Brat, you’ve been in a good mood all day, and besides finding out that you can draw all day, what’s up?” He asked as he wrapped his arms around the bubbly brunette. What’s he drawing now? He’s gone through like seven sheets of paper in the last hour. 

  

Eren lifted his head and looked up to Levi and saw his curious gaze. “Lathe went to the courthouse.” 

  

The courthouse, what the fuck is he doing there? “What, he get a speeding ticket or something? That sounds like something he would do.” Levi snickered as he watched Eren return his focus to the colorful paper. 

  

“He’s becoming my legal guardian.” Eren was completely calm as the words left his mouth. 

  

“Really? When did you find that out?” Usually he would’ve told me something like that right away! 

  

“I found out yesterday… but you were at football, so I didn’t get to tell you. Sorry.” Eren looked back up at Levi for a few moments, his eyes full of guilt. 

  

Not the damn guilty eyes again! Damn this Brat! He’s too fucking adorable! I’ve lost control. You did this to yourself, brat! Levi shook his head as he moved to lean close to Eren’s face. “There’s nothing to apologize to me for.” Levi smirked as he watched Eren’s face flush from the how close they were to each other. He leaned in closer and kissed Eren gently at first, but he had already lost himself in his eyes, so in no time he was kissing Eren quite passionately. 

  

Eren made a small gasp as Levi leaned in to kiss him. Wasn’t expecting that, but I'm not complaining . Eren’s eyes fluttered shut as he kissed Levi back, just like he had so many nights before. I wonder how long he’ll be kissing me for? I wonder when he’ll get tired of me and go get a girlfriend…. Stop thinking like that, he’s with you right now, so fucking enjoy it! 

  

Levi had no intention of stopping anytime soon. He coiled his right arm around Eren’s waist, his left carefully pushing the paper and pencils back. He leaned over Eren, deepening the kiss, swiping his tongue over his lip. Please. 

  

Eren let him lick there for a moment or two before he opened his mouth to let Levi’s tongue enter. He wrapped his tongue around Levi’s, slowly coaxing it into his own mouth, tasting the mouthwash Levi had used after eating lunch. Always so fresh and clean, I like it. 

  

Levi quietly groaned into Eren’s mouth, his other arm coming up to tangle in Eren’s hair, pressing their chests and hips together. You feel so wonderful… He continued mapping out Eren’s mouth, lost in the feeling of Eren’s lips moving with his. 

  

Eren let out a soft moan every now and then as Levi either found a sensitive spot along his skin, or his tongue made him shiver. He was like a puddle, melting into Levi’s hands. Oh, Levi…. Don’t stop, please. Eren felt his knees finally give out, but when his back hit the table, he wasn’t concerned about it at all. He willingly let Levi align their bodies together, enjoying the feeling of Levi’s hips on his own thinner ones. He’s strong, and I like it. Levi, you lose any of your muscles and you are dead to me. Eren slowly brought a hand up to Levi’s head, carding through his hair before pulling him down to kiss him deeper. 

  

Levi bent over Eren on the table, curling his tongue around his, letting his hands roam his chest, his waist, his hands seldom brushing the waistband of his jeans. He cupped Eren’s cheek, swiping his thumb over the spot he remembered made Eren shiver. That sound… And you feel so good… Levi pressed himself as close to Eren as he could, without crushing his smaller frame. 

  

Eren pressed himself up against Levi’s strong chest. He pulled back from the kiss to breathe. His eyes seemed to blaze with a fire, brightly shining. He was breathing harshly from kissing Levi so feverishly for so long. “L-Levi?” He stuttered out his name in embarrassment as he looked up to the shorter teen over him. Why did he kiss me like that again? And he’s touching me all over…. Eren let out a soft moan as Levi traced a sensitive spot along his side, causing the boy to shudder in pleasure under him. Fuck, he’s definitely experienced in this…. And it feels so good... 

  

My god, if he keeps making sounds like that… Levi gazed back with hooded eyes, smirking. “Eren?” His voice was smooth and deep, like melted chocolate. He let his hands continue to wander over his chest, running up his sides. 

  

Eren let out a high pitched moan as Levi grazed over his sensitive chest. He raised his hand to cover his mouth. Completely embarrassed by the noise he had just made. “W-why… Levi?” Eren asked in between heavy breaths. He then tried to prop himself up with his elbows to look at the other straight in the eyes. He was smiling softly as he gazed intently into Levi’s steely eyes. 

  

...I can't English! How do you put something like that into words? “Because you’re adorable, and talented, and you sound sexy as hell.” He pecked his lips before wandering over to his neck, nibbling at his earlobe. Crisis averted. Now. Let’s hear that again. 

  

Eren let out a string of moans as Levi pinpointed every sensitive spot Eren had from the top of his ear down to his collarbone. Eleven, I counted eleven, god he must think I’m such a whore by now… Levi… Ah! Eren let out an even louder moan, writhing in bliss under Levi as his adam's apple became Levi’s target. He found the fucking motherload…. Shit, I’m gonna get hard soon… Then he’s surely gonna know I’m a fucking whore… Fuck, I need to stop this! Eren shifted, moving his hands to the sides of Levi’s head and brought his lips up off his neck and back to his own. Kiss me for all you’re fucking worth, Short Stack. 

  

Message Received. Levi wasted no time in deepening the kiss, his tongue desperately going to coil around Eren’s, tasting him and exploring his mouth. So good… 

  

A-hem.” 

  

Levi broke their kiss, jumping in surprise at their interruption. Fuck. His face blazing scarlet, he turned to Lathe, covering his face with his hand. This is so fucking embarrassing. A second time??

  

Eren’s eyes were wide as he turned his face to see Lathe standing at the end of the staircase, his arms crossed as he lounged against the wall. How long has he fucking been there? OMG did he hear me moaning?? Oh god I hope not! That would be mortifying! Eren gently pushed Levi off of him so he could get up off the table, his face completely flushed all the way to his ears. 

  

Lathe quirked an eyebrow at them. “Apparently I need to knock to go anywhere in my own house.” He studied their flushed faces. I should probably get used to this happening. “Eren, we’re going to head out pretty soon. We've found you a doge out in the city. We're expected.” He looked at Levi pointedly. “As long as that’s okay with present company.” Levi, you're now going to have to deal with a protective parent. I hope you're up for that. 

  

Eren looked at him for a moment processing what he had just said. I’m really getting a dog??? And we’re going now!? Eren looked down at himself, covered in various colors as well as charcoal, but of course that didn’t really show because of his black clothes. “U-um…. I’m gonna need my arms wrapped again if we head out.” He said and displayed his very colorful bandages for Lathe to see. Eren then turned to Levi to see if he was alright with them going. 

  

Levi quirked an eyebrow at Lathe. Protective parent mode initiated, I guess. Wait. “A doge? You're getting a dog?” He turned to Eren for explanation. How did you not tell me?! 

  

“Oh… yeah, I was supposed to tell you that too, sorry…. I’m getting a service dog for my PTSD.” He said quietly and rubbed the back of his neck as his face heated up in embarrassment all over again. “You’re not mad are you?” He asked quietly and he stepped back a bit from Levi. He didn’t know how to react, it looked like Levi was really angry with him. Please don’t be angry… I need the dog…. I need it Levi I hope you’ll understand. 

  

Why in the world… “Eren, I'm not mad, that’s great! I love dogs. And it’s good that you're getting one to help you. I know it’s been rough for you lately. A service dog like that might be just what you need.” Levi wrapped one arm around him, rubbing his arm. I can't be mad at you. Stop assuming that. 

  

Eren seemed to sigh in relief when he heard Levi’s words. His hand which had crept to his other wrist and started to scratch out of nervousness stopped and returned to his side. He felt much better already with Levi’s words. 

  

Lathe noted Eren trying to scratch his wrists. That’s what the dog is for. “Good to hear. ‘Cause if you're going to be seeing as much of Eren as I think, you're going to be seeing just as much of his dog. FYI.” He looked to Eren. “As much as the color looks nice, I don't think we want that dust getting everywhere. I'll rewrap your arms, and we can get going, alright?” 

  

Eren nodded and scampered off to go get changed into new clothes, wearing black jeans, and a black t-shirt. He had removed his bandages, bringing them down for Lathe to dispose of since they had a bit of blood on them. He had also brought down one of his hoodies and waited for Lathe to come wrap his wrists again in the kitchen. 

  

Lathe saw off Levi, before grabbing his bag from the banister and expertly rewrapping Eren’s hands. The bandages, instead of their usual flesh color, were a dark green. “We need some color on you.” He grinned, sliding the hooks in place. “Come on, let’s get in the car. You can have free reign of the radio. There’s an aux cord too, so anything on your phone is fair game.” He stood, leading Eren to his car, locking the door behind them. 

  

Eren smiled and he already started to pull his phone out to create a playlist for the two of them. He walked to the passenger side of Lathe’s car and got in quickly since it was nippy out, even with a sweatshirt on. He quickly closed the door behind him and got comfortable in his place, his focus then turning to his phone again. What to play? What to play? What to play! OH I KNOW!! Eren began to hurriedly go through all his music and tap a few to add them to a playlist. 

  

Playlist: Car Ride Jams 

  

  

  • Wake Me Up : 2Cellos 
  • Fix You : Coldplay 
  • Carry On : Fun. 
  • Halo : Beyoncé 
  • Grand Piano : Nicki Minaj 
  • Tennis Court : Lorde 
  • One Grain of Sand : Ron Pope 
  • Ride : Twenty One Pilots 
  • Riptide : Vance Joy 
  • Heathens : Twenty One Pilots 
  • Once Upon a Dream : Lana Del Ray 
  • Piano Man : Billy Joel 
  • American Pie : Don McLean 
  • How Far We’ve Come : MatchBox Twenty 
  • Sail : AWOLNATION 
  • I Bet My Life : Imagine Dragons 
  • Rap God : Eminem 
  • Primadonna : Marina and the Diamonds 
  • Mama’s Broken Heart : Miranda Lambert 
  • White Winter Hymnal : Pentatonix 
  • Home : Daughtry 
  • Don’t Let Me Down : The Chainsmokers 
  • Kanye : The Chainsmokers 
  • Everybody Talks : Neon Trees 
  • Flaws : Bastille 
  • My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark : Fall Out Boy 
  • Pumped up Kicks : Foster the People 
  • Stars : Fun. 
  • This Love : Maroon 5 
  • Young Volcanoes : Fall Out Boy 
  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams : Green Day 
  • Don’t You Remember : Adele 
  • Cake By The Ocean : DNCE 
  • It’s Time : Imagine Dragons 
  • Polaroid : Imagine Dragons 
  • Bleeding Out : Imagine Dragons 
  • Sunday Morning : Maroon 5 
  • Sledgehammer : Rihanna 
  • Chandelier : Sia 
  • Don’t You Dare Forget The Sun : Get Scared 

  

  

Eren immediately put the playlist on shuffle, right away coming up with ‘Piano Man.’ Eren smiled and started to use his lap as the piano board and played along, waiting for the words to come to sing along. 

  

Lathe nodded his head as it played, recognizing the first few chords. Nice. Carefully backing from the driveway, he put it in drive, beginning their hour journey into the city. 

  

Eren was singing basically the whole entire car ride there, surprising Lathe with how well he could rap when ‘Rap God’ came on a few songs in. He just smiled and continued. I hope I’m on key, I haven’t sung for this long in years. 

  

...Damn he can sing! He’s got rapping down to a science! And for this long, he’s keeping up really well! Lathe was beaming, careful in looking for the place. Parking isn't going to be too easy, but eh. We'll find somewhere. He pulled up outside a nice-looking building, thankful there was an open spot two doors down. He let the song finish before killing the engine. “Come on kid, let’s find you your doge!” Lathe smiled mischievously before opening his door, careful of other cars.

  

Eren smiled and unplugged his phone before he followed after Levi. He put his hands into his hoodie pouch. It was colder in the city, so he followed Lathe as quickly as he could. It’s fucking freezing here!! I want to go inside! MURRRRR!!! 

  

Lathe stepped ahead of him, opening the door and ushering him inside. How could I forget to bring my scarf? It’s so cold. He followed Eren, grateful for the warmth of the inside.

  

Eren went immediately to hide behind Lathe as soon as he heard someone rushing down the stairs, a tall man came clomping down the steps at high speed. He was across the long hall in a second and coming towards them, his large steps making quick work of the space between them. “Hi, I’m Moblit Berner… You must be Lathe, Spades told me you would be coming… and are you Eren?” He asked leaning his head to the side to see Eren holding onto the back of Lathe’s coat peering out from behind him. 

  

Eren slowly nodded behind Lathe, not courageous enough to come out from behind the safety of his foster parent. 

  

Noting Eren’s fear, Lathe straightened himself to his full height, a head taller than the other man. “Yeah, that’s me… Spades said you have a dog?” 

  

Moblit looked up at Lathe and nodded. “Yeah, Blake’s upstairs. I can bring him down, or we can go up to meet him, whichever you prefer.” His voice was gentle and kind as he noticed Eren’s distress and knew to back up a few feet. 

  

Lathe looked to Eren, smiling gently. “Feel like going up some stairs, kid? That’s your call.” 

  

Eren looked at Lathe and hurriedly shook his head and hid behind him fully. He didn’t want to wander. Nope, I don’t like new people, I can hear people moving around upstairs… Nope, no way… 

  

Moblit nodded and led them to a door a few feet away down the hall towards the stairs. “You can wait in here while I go get him.” Moblit opened the door and motioned for them to enter the bright white room, flooded with natural light. It had a bunch of seats in it, lining the walls. “You can sit wherever, but you’ll probably want to keep the chairs against the wall. We’re going to make sure you guys can be paired, and that requires going on the floor… sorry, but it’s gotta be done.” Moblit apologized quietly before he went to go and get Blake from upstairs. 

  

Eren went to go and sit down on the far side of the room. His right hand almost immediately reaching for his left wrist to scratch. He was really nervous and he couldn’t help himself. 

  

Lathe caught his hand immediately, his grip gentle but firm. “Eren, don't worry. I'm going to be here the entire time. This dog is trained to help you, not to hurt you. I'm sure in no time you're going to be bff’s.” Lathe smiled. 

  

“You think so?” Eren asked and put his hand by his side, his middle finger scratching gently against his dark jeans. 

  

“I know so.” Lathe looked to the door. “I've got a good feeling about this.” He watched as Moblit entered, a dog in a vest at his heels. 

  

Eren watched as the mahogany Belgian Malinois came into the room, stopped and stared at Eren for only a split second before he started to carefully and slowly come towards Eren. Eren watched him, his hands coming close to himself as he sat back further in his seat. He wanted to scratch, he was agitated… The dog could tell. He walked right up to Eren and put his paws onto Eren’s hands and moved to lick them. He moved to get his attention and licked Eren on his face. What am I supposed to do with him? Am I supposed to pet him? Eren shakily reached out to pet the dog half in his lap. The dog enjoyed the pets and Eren’s smile started to slowly come back as he started to visibly relax and pet the dog more confidently. 

  

Moblit stood at the door and watched, he smiled, already knowing this would work out well. “He’s never responded to someone so keenly before, this is a good sign.” He said and closed the door behind himself, getting closer to them so Moblit could go over how Blake was trained so he wouldn’t freak out when the dog acted in response to Eren’s movements or demeanor. 

  

They're already bff’s. What'd I say? This is going to work out just fine. 

  

Moblit came forward and told him all the commands he needed to keep Blake still during a class or such: “Sit”, “Stay”, “Down”, “Heel”, “Lay”, and “Follow”. Eren knew exactly what each of those words would do to Blake and was asked to walk around the room with him and repeat the motions so Eren would know how Blake would react. Next came the fun part: showing how Blake reacted to panic attacks and how he prevented them. 

  

“Okay so I know this is a personal question, but I need to ask so Blake won’t freak you out. Do you have urges to do any self-harm… Cutting? Scratching? Anything?” He asked seeing the boy nod he got him to sit in a chair in the room and sat Blake beside him. Eren was asked to start scratching like he normally did and was told not to freak out, Blake would not harm him. 

  

Eren nodded and started to scratch and he almost let out a scream as Blake moved in an instant and he had Eren’s right hand safely between his jaws. It was to stop Eren’s motions and the dog put no pressure on his fingers, just holding them there as the dog put a big paw on Eren’s left hand. Eren watched and he reached out to pet Blake with his left hand, which was when Blake released his grip on Eren’s right hand and reached up in the chair to lick Eren’s face, signalling a job well done to Eren. 

  

Lathe had to keep himself from reaching out to intervene, though as he kept studying the dog’s behavior he himself relaxed and let the dog do their job. That’s a good thing for him to know- how to stop Eren from scratching. It’s a bad tic to have. 

  

Moblit then ushered Blake away from Eren’s lap and sitting beside him again. “Okay now you know what he does when you try to scratch yourself. I need you to think of something that either makes you want to punch something or run away and hide… can you do that for me?” 

  

Eren looked down at the dog then back at Lathe. Well, Lathe’s here if I really freak out. Eren nodded and then started to think about his father. His chest started to tighten almost immediately as a sense of dread washed over his whole body. He had to close his eyes. I don’t want to go that deep. No no, not that far! Eren felt Blake grab onto his hoodie and carefully drag him to the floor, so that he was sitting down in a curled up to ball. Blake instantly went to work and got Eren to uncurl after a minute or two and got him out of the ‘mini attack’ as Eren pet Blake back again, and he was completely calmed again. 

  

..Blake can get him out of a small attack like that, before it really escalates. That’s good. I hope to god it never comes to that, but if it did… But what if one time it isn't enough? 

  

Moblit then looked to Lathe. “Lathe, are you prepared to work with an attack if he has one here and Blake can’t pull him out of it?” He asked quietly to the man sitting at the back wall. 

  

Lathe looked him in the eye, responding without hesitation. “Yes, I am. I've had to do it before, and I'll do it again. Every time he needs me to.” I just hope I don't have to. It's important that Blake can stop one before it happens, but there’s no way I'd just let Eren suffer in an attack... 

  

Moblit nodded. “Okay, Eren I need you to stay on the ground, do you know what happens when you go into an attack? The actions you do?” Seeing the boy shake his head, Moblit turned to Lathe again. “Can you tell me what he does while he’s having a panic attack? Does he go somewhere specific in a room, is he in a certain position? Does he scratch or cut during his episode?” He asked, he needed to know so they could mimic an attack for Blake to show what he would do. 

  

Lathe swallowed, remembering the two attacks he'd had to deal with. “Eren tends to run for a far corner of the room, away from people. He’d scratch at any bandages he had on, his arms especially. He’d curl in on himself, on the defensive. He’s turned violent, but that was only when we couldn't get through to him…” It’s awful, what Eren goes through... 

  

Moblit nodded and turned to Eren. “Do you think you can do that? Just the motions so you know how Blake with react and help you, so you don’t freak out more during an attack?” He asked Eren softly and pet Blake. This was the best he had done in about a year with anyone. 

  

Eren nodded and he went off towards the corner and curled up in a ball, his back to the wall and he was faking scratching at himself. Blake followed right after and he grabbed Eren’s hoodie again and he moved Eren to lay out on the floor, away from any objects before he started to rub his body against Eren’s thin framing, finally getting a majority of his weight on Eren, effectively pinning the boy as he licked Eren’s chin and face to calm him down. Eren reached up to pet the dog like he would to calm himself down. 

  

Moblit smiled at them. “He’ll only get up off of you if you tell him to “Rise”. Okay, Eren?” Moblit asked. 

  

Eren nodded and pet Blake for a few more seconds. “Rise.” Eren watched as Blake slowly got up off of Eren, careful not to hurt him. And stayed by his side, gently pawing his hands and chest and licking his face. Blake’s tail was wagging side to side and sped up as Eren giggled. So that’s what he’ll do if I’m having an attack. I think I’ll be okay with that, he can’t pin my wrists and feet so it shouldn’t push me further in… I think I can do this. Eren looked over to Lathe with gleaming eyes as he sat up and allowed Blake in his lap to be pet. 

  

That would work. I think this is it! “So, kid, what’s the verdict?” Lathe grinned, his shining eyes matching Eren’s. 

  

“Can we keep him?” He asked as he moved to hug Blake and the dog didn’t seem to mind, licking Eren’s face vigorously. Please say yes, I wanna keep him… 

  

“You got it.” He turned to Moblit, smiling. “We’ll take him. I'm assuming there’s plenty of paperwork to fill out?” 

  

“There’s only three sheets, you’ll be fine! I’ll need you guys to follow me, we need to get Eren’s handler ID card done and Blake’s ID card is already in his vest, so that’s taken care of. Eren gets to pick the badges that’ll go on the rest of Blake’s vest so if you come to my office, we can get this all sorted out in 15 minutes.” He told them and motioned them to follow. 

  

Lathe stood to follow, offering his hand to Eren, pulling him from the floor. He let Blake sniff his hand. He gently scratched him behind the ear. “Hey Blake. You're going to be seeing plenty of me, too. It's nice to meet you.” He grinned, following Moblit. I like him. This is going to be alright. We'd better stop and get dog food on the way home. Can't forget that. 

  

Eren smiled as the four of them walked to Moblit’s clean and orderly office to get his picture taken, his ID card printed and put into Blake’s vest. Eren then picked out all of the badges he needed. “Do Not Separate from Handler”, “Working Service Dog Do Not Distract”, “All Access Dog”, and “PTSD Service Dog” were the 4 patches which covered Blake’s camouflage vest. While all this was being done Lathe was busy filling out the three sheets of paperwork which were going to be filed. So Eren sat with Blake and pet him happily. He’s mine! He’s really mine! 

  

“Before you go I should also tell you a few things about Blake. He’s a Belgian Malinois, so he’s gonna stick by Eren’s side 24/7. Eren’s going to need to walk him, a lot… And not just around the block every other day, I mean like go on a mile jog with him every day. He doesn’t really need a big back yard. He's also not friendly towards others that he doesn’t trust getting close to Eren. But as long as Eren introduces them to the dog, it’ll all go over fine. He’s very protective of his handler. Blake’s breed is known for their hypersensitivity as well, so if he jumps on you in class, don’t be alarmed, he’s trying to calm you down way before any panicking starts. And that’s about it. Oh, and he’ll sleep wherever you do… in case you have an attack at night, and if he can’t get you to wake up he will leave your side to find someone he trusts to come and either wake you up or call for medical assistance in other cases.” Moblit explained to the two of them as Eren continued to run his hand through Blake’s soft fur.    

  

Lathe simply nodded. Alright, so I'm guessing Blake’s just going to sleep on Eren’s bed, near his foot. Okay. And I'll make sure I leave my door open in case Blake needs to come get me… I dunno how well the exercise thing will go over. He'll get used to it, I hope. Lathe signed the last page. “That everything?” 

  

“Ya, that’s everything, if you need to bring him back, call me first.” He said and gave them his card before he saw them off. He had given Eren a leash for Blake, so Blake walked at Eren’s side, the leash clipped to his collar. 

  

Lathe watched the dog as they walked back to the car, smiling. “Alright, kid. He’s gonna have to sit in your lap while we drive. We’ll be stopping at the pet store on the way back too, picking up food and whatnot. Cool?” He glanced at his watch. We’ll be home… seven? Ish? Yeah, that sounds about right. 

  

“Okay, that sounds good.” He went to the car and hopped in first, the dog hopping in after him. Eren put his phone on the aux cord, pressing play before settling into the seat. Blake found himself comfortably sprawled across Eren’s lap as Lathe drove. 

  

Lathe stopped about fifteen minutes into the drive, pulling into the parking lot of a pet store. “We need food, and bowls, and all sorts of stuff. Ready?” He got out of the car, shutting the door. Dry run. Let’s see how Blake acts. He should be fine. 

  

Eren looked around at all the cars, swallowing hard at the prospect of just how many people were in the store. Eren got out with Blake jumping out beside him. The dog stayed glued to Eren’s side; he didn’t really need the leash, but it was required in public. Eren followed Lathe into the pet store, which was crowded with adults, kids, and so many different kinds of animals. That being said, this was the only pet store for quite a few counties, so it was to be expected. Eren swallowed hard and started to reach for his wrist without even realizing it. A second later his hand was surrounded by Blake’s teeth. Was I gonna scratch? I didn’t even realize it... Blake let go once Eren had calmed down and pet him. He let go and walked beside them, keeping his ears perked towards all the different people around. 

  

So far, so good. Lathe kept a careful eye on the two of them, slowing down when Blake acted in response to Eren’s nervous move to scratch. He waited for Eren to walk next to him, skimming the signs on the aisles and hanging from the ceiling, an empty basket in his hands. Dog stuff… Dog stuff… There! He turned a corner, facing a wall of different kinds of food. He started reading over the labels, looking for something that would be good for a dog of Blake’s size. 

  

Eren walked further down the aisle to get some toys. Balls. If I can get him to play fetch in the park, I can exercise him that way. That sounds easier than going for mile long jogs every day. Eren moved and soon found a good sized ball bag and held it out for Blake to sniff at. Which of course he did and then pawed at it, almost like he was trying to get it out of the mesh it was in. Does that mean he wants to play with it? Well I’ll get these ones then, he seems interested in it. Eren came back to Lathe’s side and put the balls into the basket Lathe was holding. A few other dog owners had come in with their dogs, but upon seeing the vest on Blake, kept their dogs as far away as possible, as not to distract the service dog with their own dogs. 

  

Lathe tapped a large bag of food. This one should be good. He moved the basket to the crook of his arm, picking up the bag with ease. “I think this should be enough for awhile. He needs bowls for food and water still. They’re further down, I think.” He let Eren walk ahead of him. Go ahead. It's alright. 

  

Eren looked to Lathe before down at Blake and held onto his leash tightly. They walked down the aisle without incident and got to the bowls. Eren’s grip shifted on the leash again, gripping it tight enough to make his knuckles white. Blake whined and pawed at his hands and got him to release his grip, letting him pet him to relax. Eren smiled softly as he scratched behind Blake’s ear, calming down a lot. The people had moved away from this section of the aisle, so he felt more at ease again. 

  

Lathe nodded his head at a set of metal bowls. “Pick something that’ll last a while. Those look alright? It’s your call, Eren.” Pick whichever you want. 

  

Eren looked at the large bowl selection and picked out two large metal bowls, a bit bigger than the ones Lathe had pointed out. “Do you have paint that’ll stay on metal?” He asked quietly to Lathe, he was gonna paint on the bowls to customize them, that’s why he wanted the bigger ones, more space. 

  

“I like the way you think. I've got lots of enamel paints. They’ll stay on well.” Lathe grinned. Good idea. “Can you think of anything else? We might need to get him a dog bed, unless you're cool with him taking over the space near your foot or something like that.” 

  

“I’m okay with him on my bed. It shouldn’t be a problem, it’s big enough.” Eren told him and smiled as he pet Blake more. The dog seemed really happy even with his ears swiveling around whenever someone either walked by, or even talked pretty close to them. 

  

“Alright. Let’s get going, then.” Lathe walked ahead of them, shifting the bag in his arms. He made sure he could hear Blake’s paws behind him, making sure they didn't get separated. So early on, since Eren just got Blake, I need to make sure they're doing okay. It’ll take a bit of getting used to for Eren, definitely. 

  

Eren held onto Blake’s leash. The dog seemed relatively calm even with everyone around, as long as they didn’t come within a few feet of Eren he was completely calm. He only bared his teeth once at a dog who had gotten too close to Eren for his liking, but he didn’t growl. Well, he didn’t growl… so that’s good I guess? Eren smiled and softly pet Blake when the other dog had left. 

  

After Lathe paid for the food and everything else they had gotten, they walked out to the car again, storing everything in the trunk. Lathe hopped back in the driver’s seat, a thought occurring to him. “Eren, you don’t have a driver’s license, do you?” 

  

“A Driver’s license? I can get that?” He asked as he sat down in the passenger seat. Eren allowed for Blake to get on his lap. Eren closed the door and reconnected his phone to the aux cord. I can get one of those?? Does that mean I can drive? 

  

“Well, you take a test that's pretty much common-sense and get a permit first, and then you have to practice and take a road test, but yeah, you're old enough to start working for one. If you want to, that is.” Lathe grinned. How could you not want to be able to drive wherever and whenever you want? 

  

Wouldn’t that require having a car? “But I don’t have a car Lathe…..” Eren was confused. His father’s car was the only one he had seen, and even that wasn’t around anymore.   How would I even learn it? 

  

“Kid, would you kindly inform me what it is you are currently sitting in?” Earth to Eren. Come in Eren. 

  

“Yeah, but it’s your car, I can’t drive your car!” Eren immediately protested the thought of driving this classic car. Nope, can’t do it, I cannot drive this thing! What if I crash it? Or even put a scratch on it? Lathe would be pissed with me! Absolutely not! Blake’s mouth clamped around Eren’s hands and he stared at him with his bright blue eyes. Okay, so I was starting to freak out a bit there, thanks Blake. Eren took in a few deep breaths before moving to pet the dog currently in his lap. 

  

Lathe’s features softened. “It’s fine Eren, really. I've got insurance if you're worried about anything happening, and that actually reminds me, I've got quite a few calls to make when we get home. But it’s something you should really think about getting. I'd be more than willing to help you learn and get ready for a road test. I think you should really consider it.” Don't worry. I can't be too mad about anything happening to this car unless you were trying to wreck it. 

  

Eren looked over to Lathe for a few seconds, completely silent as he tried to gauge Lathe’s features. Is he telling the truth? I know my father hated being in the same room as me for more than a few moments…. And he never had the patience to teach me any real life skills. I’ll think about it I guess. Eren nodded to him and turned his attention back to Blake who was hurriedly licking his face. Probably because he could sense the agitation of thinking about his father. 

  

Lathe smiled again, starting the car and carefully starting again for home. Alright. I won't bug him about for a little bit, let him mull it over. He’s got plenty of time to get one. He pulled into their driveway a little more than half an hour later. “Alright, let's get this stuff in the house, and then I'll start dinner.” Lathe hopped out, opening the trunk and picking up the bag of food. 

  

Eren climbed out and unclipped Blake’s leash. The dog didn’t run off, instead staying right by Eren’s side as Eren went to the back to grab the bowls and balls and the few other things they had gotten for him. So he won’t run from me, that’s good… Do I need to keep the vest on him at home? “Lathe?” Eren called out as he came into the house behind him. 

  

“Yeah?” Lathe was in the kitchen, fitting the bag of food in a large cupboard under the sink. “What’s up?” 

  

“Does he have to wear the vest in the house?” He asked and looked down at Blake by his side. The dog was very curious of the room. His head looking all over the place, but he stayed by Eren’s side, without budging. 

  

Lathe thought for a second before turning and shaking his head. “I don't think so. You're pretty much going to just be chilling here for the rest of today I think. He should really only need the vest when you're leaving the house.” 

  

“Okay,” Eren then went off to get the vest off of Blake and put it near the front door, along with leash. They then went around and inspected all the rooms that Eren was usually in: The Piano room, the Scripting Room, the Kitchen, his bedroom, the bathrooms, Lathe’s room and study, and the workshop downstairs. Eren smiled at his artwork that he had done earlier. He brought everything upstairs and took it to the kitchen. I want Lathe to see it… Even Levi’s torso too, that one’s my favorite. I wonder if he’ll be able to tell that it’s Levi? Even without Levi’s face in the picture? Eren set out all 12 pictures he had cranked out in so many different mediums that it was impressive. He then turned to Lathe to see if he could interrupt whatever he was doing to show him. 

  

Lathe had been setting a pot of water to boil, some tomato sauce in another pan to heat up. A box of bowtie pasta sat on the counter. “It’s pasta tonight, alright Eren?” He looked over his shoulder, his face going slack at the drawings on the table. So that's what he's been doing all day? Lathe turned from the stove for a moment, studying the wonderful drawings, paintings. “These are all… Eren, they're great! You really do have talent.” He took particular notice of the charcoal torso, tapping the bottom of the page with his nail. He looked at Eren out the corner of his eye. “Is this who I think it is, dare I ask?” 

  

Eren smiled and blushed as he looked down at his feet. “Dare.” Eren simply responded. Yup, he knows it’s Levi, but I don’t want to tell him, he can say it. Eren looked over the largest picture with him, smiling down at his work, it looked really nice, and almost life-like, like it would pop off the page at any second. “Can I put it in my room?” He asked quietly and looked up to Lathe. His eyes were still full of innocence. 

  

Damn, is he smitten. Lathe rolled his eyes in mock exasperation. “Well, if you reeeeeally want to, I might just tell you that the sticky squares you need to hang stuff on the walls are downstairs in the shelf in a box labeled ‘Poster Hanging,’ but of course I'd only tell you that if I was in a good mood. Maybe.” 

  

Eren let out a high pitched squeal of joy before racing off downstairs, with Blake following closely behind as he rushed down the stairs in search for the box of supplies. 

  

Lathe chuckled, turning back to the stove to make sure nothing was boiling over or burning. He stirred the sauce, dumping the pasta into the water. The ship is sailing sooooo far! 

  

Eren came back with the small box of stickies and he went to carefully hand it up in his room. He found the perfect spot by the entrance of his closet. He smiled as he put it up. He gently touched it and smiled more. Damn it, if only I could touch those wonderful abs right now… but that would classify me as a whore, so that’s a no go. Eren admired the picture before coming back down to the kitchen, Blake at his heels. “What do you want to do with the other 11?” He asked quietly and curiously as he looked at them. 

  

“Well, whatever you do with them is up to you. I think you should keep them all. There’s plenty of wall space in the workshop, but I may or may not have some space in my study if you'd let me have one…” Eren, go nuts. I'd actually really like having one up there. “Could you maybe pick one for me, hang it upstairs?” 

  

Eren nodded and he took all the pictures back, disappearing upstairs to see what would fit in Lathe’s study. He walked into Lathe’s room and wandered towards the room adjoined to it. It doesn’t have a door? Weird… Eren walked in and looked at the massive amount of medical books across different shelves. One was completely attributed to medical articles, and another to a bunch of different magazines collected over a few years. Another shelf was rather miscellaneous, with the top full of leather-bound law books, another shelf with boxes of wires and small tech devices, letters and cards and stamps in another box, articles regarding new technologies, from new additions to hospital care to video game advancements and coding scripts. So many shelves… So many books too, has he had time to read them all? I wonder, there should be enough space in between a few of these shelves for a couple pictures. The wood desk in the further half of the crowded room had his laptop set up and opened, a tablet plugged in in front of it. The blue-and-yellow spark insignia was alight. Hmm. I’ve never seen that brand before… I wonder what it is? The screen lit as Eren walked behind the desk, showing an odd login screen. It’s not Windows, or a Mac. Huh. It went back to sleep after a few moments of no input. A desk lamp next to it was off. Eren turned on the light, showing pages and pages of written text, some parts scratched out, things added, arrows redirecting the reader from one part to the next, all in practically unreadable script. It's the same as downstairs, I wonder what it says. Hmm. Well, let’s see what fits around the walls. Eren went in between a majority of the large bookshelves and the shelves hanging around the room. He measured out a few places, and found that he could fit five of the landscapes around the room. He’ll like this! I hope he’s not mad, but I’m gonna make more and invade his ceiling!! HAHAHA! Eren smirked before going to hang to up his elephant picture in his room before taking the rest of his random animals downstairs to the workshop. 

  

Lathe grinned as he heard Eren run downstairs, draining the pasta. Dinner in about a minute. He scooped out some in bowls for the two of them, drowning them in tomato sauce and placing them on the table. Taking a deep breath and cupping his hands around his mouth, he shouted in the general direction of the scripting room. “Food!” 

  

At first there was no movement to be heard from that general direction before Blake’s hurried steps sounded on the staircase. He showed up first, Eren trailing a few steps behind him into the kitchen. His eyes had a very mischievous glint in them. I know how many pictures I need to cover his ceiling now! Heh! He will be so surprised. 

  

Lathe went to fill Blake’s food dish. “I know that look, kid, and it can't mean anything good. But I hope you're not too busy being mischievous over there to fill Blake’s water dish.” 

  

Eren smiled before he grabbed the dish and then went to fill it in the tap. He waited until it was pretty full and put it down for Blake, who was already chowing down on his food. He eats really quickly…. Is that normal? I hope it is… I don’t want him to get sick. 

  

“Yeesh, he’s really hungry.” Lathe scratched behind Blake’s ear, smirking. He fits right in. He stood, going to get them both forks. He handed one to Eren, before he turned back to the counter for a moment, filling a mug with hot water. “Feel like trying something new?” He tapped the rim of the mug, looking at Eren. 

  

Eren took the fork to the sink, reaching for his nausea pills. He still needed them to eat his meals, and he was starting to finally pack on some of the pounds again. He downed them and looked to Lathe. “Sure, I’ll try a new one.” He walked off to go sit down at his usual spot on the table. 

  

Hmm, which one… Lathe’s finger skimmed over the small assortment, picking a green tea. He might like this one. He dipped a teabag into the mug, waiting for it to steep as he retrieved his own mug for coffee. It’s never too late for coffee. Never! He handed Eren his mug as he sat down. “That’s a green tea. It might not be as strong as the other tea you've been drinking lately.” 

  

It’s got a weird color to it. Eren stared at it for a second before he gingerly picked it up and took a sip. He wrinkled his nose at first before taking another sip to make sure and put it back down. Not strong enough, it doesn’t taste that great either… 

  

Lathe watched his nose crinkle in distaste. “Nope?” 

  

“Nope.” Eren repeated and got up to wash his mug out. He was gonna stick with ice water for today, so he reached up to grab a glass and filled it with ice from the freezer and water before he sat down. I’m not even in the mood for tea anymore… well, food then. And it looks amazing. Eren started to eat the bowtie noodles covered in sauce. 

  

Lathe kept quiet for most of dinner, simply caught up in pondering who he had to call later, now that he was Eren’s guardian. He has to go on all the insurance, stuff like that. I've got plenty of emails to send, too. Lathe finished quickly, taking his bowl to the sink, filling the dishwasher. 

  

Eren got up a bit after him. He had eaten a good majority of his bowl, but still couldn’t eat it all. Well, almost, I guess he can’t be too mad with that. Eren cleaned up the rest of the dishes for Lathe, trying to be as good as possible for him. 

  

Lathe smiled at Eren as he helped with the dishes, ruffling his hair with a dry hand. “Thanks for helping clean up, Eren.” He looked down as Blake nudged his leg, petting him as well. “I didn't forget about you.” Blake likes me! He’s been doing wonders for Eren today. 

  

Eren watched them and smiled happily as the two of them interacted. “Okay, Lathe, you’re not allowed in the workshop until I say so, okay?” He asked quietly. I need to make sure he doesn’t come downstairs, I don’t want him to see it too early. 

  

Lathe quirked an eyebrow at that, the look in his eyes jovial. “Got some super-secret project going on down there you can't have me seeing?” I knew it, he’s up to no good. 

  

“Yup!” Eren giggled before he ran off to the basement again. He was in the middle of pushing things away to make a huge space for him to work. Moving things carefully, and making sure that he had all the supplies that he needed. 

  

“Eren, I promise I'm not looking, but could you please hand me the gold paint from the box labeled ‘Wall Paint’ and a medium brush?” 

  

He better not be looking at all. Eren looked around and soon found said box and found the gold paint. He picked up the paint and a brush and went back up to the top of the stairs to meet Lathe. “Are you painting the walls?” He asked quietly. 

  

“Ma~ybe.” Lathe grinned, taking the paint and walking towards the piano room. One more line. I've finally got what I want written down. 

  

Eren watched him leave and he retreated back down the stairs. He finished moving the furniture and took out the 48 sheets of paper he needed to cover Lathe’s study’s ceiling. Heh, this’ll keep me busy! Mwahahahaha! 

  

Lathe decided the phone calls and emails could wait. He fetched a chair from the kitchen, moving it and standing on top of it, the lid of the gold paint on the kitchen counter. He carefully moved along the wall, writing in that same, unreadable hand. When he learns how to read my writing, he can know what it says. For now… Lathe looked at the row of script, running the length of the longest wall, ending behind the piano. ...Me knowing is enough. 

  

Eren carefully laid out the papers in a 6 x 8 fashion, leaving enough room in between so he could bend down and paint on the thick paper. Eren had found the glow-in-the-dark ‘essence’ that needed to be mixed into the paint so it would glow in brilliant colors at night. He smiled, knowing exactly what he would do with it. He picked up a bunch of blues, purples, reds, oranges, yellows and whites. I hope he’ll like this! 

  

Lathe went to wash out the brush with soap, putting the lid on the tin of paint. Now I'll just leave this on the counter, since someone banned me from entering the workshop until further notice. He smiled, padding up the stairs with a fresh mug of coffee. Emails and such. Things must be sorted out. He walked into his study, his eyes shining as he saw the drawings on the walls. He really does have talent. He sat down at his computer, logging in and tapping away. 

  

Eren set to work, pulling his hoodie off and setting it aside. I’m going to get paint everywhere, good thing I put the crappy jeans on. Eren started off with mixing various colors, adding different amounts of ‘glow’ to the paints. He smiled at his work and made sure it worked by going up, checking the room around to make sure Lathe wasn’t around before putting it in a corner to see that it was working just the way he wanted it to. Eren smiled and he continued paint, effectively getting paint all over his bandages, but he was in too much of a trance to really realize that. It was working quickly, he would probably be done way before Lathe fell asleep. Maybe I can get Levi to help me get him in the kitchen and keep him there, or maybe even Sue? Hmmmm… Maybe I can get Blake to keep him in the kitchen. I need him out of his room and his study. He looked around and started to examine how the blues meshed with each other, starting to add purples into the back drops. Eren began to mix it into the pain that was still wet making beautiful colors bloom forth. He looked down at his work and smiled happily. Okay Purple’s done. Where’s the time? It’s already 10!?!?! The Fuck!!! I’ve been down here for 2 and a half fucking hours already??? And I still have to add in a majority of the top layers…. Fuck it, I’m pulling an all nighter! 

  

Lathe looked to the time stamp on the emails he was sending. It’s nearly one. And since I'm supposed to act as an at least semi-functioning human being tomorrow, I should probably sleep. Lathe logged off his computer, shutting it and standing, stretching his arms over his head and letting his spine pop. He padded back into his room, moving down the hall and glancing into Eren’s room. He’s still downstairs? Well, when art calls… And he can sleep in as late as he wants tomorrow… well, today. It’s Sunday. He’ll either come upstairs when he reaches a point where he can stop or fall asleep working. Either. Lathe walked back to his room, changing and washing up before falling asleep. 

  

So Eren set about to layer it with his mixes of reds, and whites mostly, adding a tint of yellow in a few spots. Eren stood back and looked over his work. “This looks awesome!” Eren said excitedly to himself. Looking over to the clock again. Now it’s 1 am…. Hmmm, I don’t remember hearing Lathe call for me. I was probably too engrossed into this to hear him and I still haven’t done the top layer of pure white yet. ...Fuck it, I’m finishing this beauty! 

  

It was close to sunrise when Eren finally finished with his pure white final layer. He sighed in relief and looked over to Blake sleeping in the corner. “I need a shower, it should be open since it’s 4:30.” Eren smiled and he left his work on the floor to finish up the drying process. Blake followed him up the stairs and then made his way to the bathroom upstairs, trying not to touch anything with his paint-stained hands. He washed his hands off as best he could before he turned the shower on and started to strip off his paint splattered clothes and lastly took his bandages off, which were completely caked in dried paint. Eren looked to the water, feeling just right on the back of his hand. It’s not too hot, that’s good. Eren stepped into the shower and he immediately falling from the shock. The pain was shooting up his back with every droplet that landed on his unwrapped back. Eren hissed out in pain, struggling to grab onto something that would hold him up. Shit! Eren’s body crumpled to the ground in complete pain, struggling to get his back away from the pain of the hot water. Am I fucking showering in glass!? This hurts too much! Fuck, Lathe… I need Lathe… Eren whimpered and put a hand out of the shower. 

  

That grabbed Blake’s attention. The dog went up to Eren and licked his hand, looking over him and trying to decide if he was having an attack. When he realized Eren wasn’t having an attack he whimpered, he didn’t know what was ailing his handler. He whined in frustration, pinning his ears back looking at Eren for instructions. “Help.” That’s all Blake needed to hear before he bolted out of the room and to Lathe’s room and instantly jumping on the bed. The dog was frantically pawing at Lathe’s chest and whimpering, growling even, so close to barking to wake this human up. 

  

Lathe’s eyes shot open, taking a moment to register Blake’s frantic pawing, growling. Eren. Lathe quickly swung his legs over the bed, Blake jumping off of him and running to stand by the bathroom door. Lathe followed, hearing the shower running. Eren trying to take a shower with his back not entirely healed… not good. Lathe stepped in, keeping his eyes up and rushing to shut off the water, grabbing a towel from behind him and opening the shower door, covering him and carefully drying his back, running a hand through Eren’s hair, trying to comfort him. “Eren, I've got you, don't worry. Are you hurt? Did you hit anything when you fell?” 

  

Eren shook his head. “It’s not…. bleeding….. again…. is it?.... It felt like…. Like glass….. was ripping through….through my back.” Eren sobbed, putting his head down against the floor of the tub. His back still felt like fire. “It… hurts.” He cried out and his tears continued to fall. 

  

Lathe looked at the edge of the towel he was patting his back with, sparse red stains on the white cloth. “I don't think you are. The water may have loosened some from in the wounds, but nothing new, which is very good.” He laid the cloth over his back again. “I'm going to get you some morphine before I try and move you, alright? I'll only be gone a second.” He wiped his thumb over Eren’s cheek, brushing his tears away. 

  

Eren sniffled and nodded, trying to stop from crying more. It hurts so fucking much, hurry, please. Eren’s eyes were full of pain all over again, and his tears made those Viridian eyes glisten more than they normally did. Blake came up to lick his face when Lathe went to get his morphine. He let Blake lick away his tears without much complaint. 

  

Lathe moved down the stairs quickly, grabbing his bag rifling through it on the way up. Morphine. Two tablets. He poured them in his hand, dropping the bag and bottle on the ground as he came back into the bathroom, reaching for a cup next to the sink, filling it and kneeling next to Eren. He handed him the pills and the water, helping him drink. 

  

Eren took the pills gratefully. He struggled to lift his head up enough to drink from the glass, even with Lathe helping him. He gave out a loud cry of pain when his head was lifted more than two inches from where he laid on his stomach on the tiled floor, his head turned to the side. The pain shot all the way down his spine. Fuck! It hurts. <“Make it stop!”> Eren cried out in pain and his hands starting to clench. Blake whined, he wanted to get close to Eren, but he knew better than to touch Eren’s back and lay on it. He whined louder when he knew Eren was going to start to panic. He tried to get as close to him as possible without hurting him. 

  

Lathe snatched the other towel from the rack behind him, using it in part as a pillow for Eren, and using half of it to carefully dry his hair, trying to keep him from panicking. “Five minutes, Eren. Five minutes for the pills to kick in, and you’ll feel okay. The pain will be gone soon. Swear it.” He kept gently drying Eren’s arms, not caring about the paint that stained the cloth when he went over Eren’s fingers. He finished patting dry Eren’s back, the wounds, including the stitched gash, were an angry red, but they were not bleeding. His burn stills looks bad… better, but not healed. I'll take care of that later. Lathe ran his hand through Eren’s damp hair again. “Has the morphine kicked in yet? Can you move?” 

  

“I think you’ll need to pick me up.” He said quietly to the other. Eren eyes were still filled with pain, but he was calming down with Blake laying down by his head, licking his face. He never left and never stopped licking him. If he picks me up, he’s gonna see everything…. Not that I really care, a lot of people have seen it….. Especially the men my father… No, don’t think about that… Lathe’s different, he would never do that to you. You never need to be used as a slave ever again. 

  

Oh my. “Alright.” Swallowing, Lathe took Eren’s hands and slowly brought him to sit, helping his arm over his shoulder and bringing him to his feet. He held onto Eren’s arm with one hand, keeping him balanced and his eyes elsewhere while he picked up the towel fallen on the floor, quickly wrapping it around his waist. ...Awkward much? He let Eren lean on him as he walked him down the hall to his room, setting him on the edge of his bed. “I'm going to get more wraps for your back, alright?” He didn't wait for an answer before going to retrieve his bag, his face a vibrant red, concealed in the darkness of the upstairs. Nope nope nope nope nope not cool He took the bag and discarded bottle with him back to Eren, taking more flesh-colored wraps and quickly securing them over Eren’s shoulder, wrapping his entire torso before hooking it in place again near his waist. He picked out more dark green wraps for Eren’s arms, hooking the loops over his thumbs and spinning them to his elbows, sliding on the hooks. “Alright, you should be okay. I'd try staying out of the direct line of water. Maybe, showering with the torso wraps on? If your back itself isn't in the water it shouldn't hurt. Then you could always ditch the old wraps and have me re-wrap you. But you do need to shower sometime. Try tomorrow, after you sleep?”

  

Eren nodded. “Okay, I will….. And Lathe….you don’t need to be embarrassed about me being naked around you…. A lot of people have seen my body…. And I don’t mean Levi either….” Eren trailed off and looked down. He swallowed hard and got up, hanging onto Lathe’s shirt to keep himself from falling over as he crossed the room. He got into his pajamas and then leaned heavily against Lathe to make it back into his bed. You don’t need to be embarrassed about it…. If I collapsed in the shower again, you’ll need to do it again…. And you’re not the only one who’s seen it… Hmmm, if Levi knew….. He would think I’m a whore. Blake jumped up onto Eren’s lap and whined to calm him down. 

  

Oh my god, Eren… Lathe shifted uncomfortably, letting Eren use him as a crutch. “Eren, even with everything you've gone through, none of it means that you should…” What’s the word…. “It shouldn't make you think that everything you have and are is any less personal and important. Our bodies aren't something we can throw around, no matter how much we might have before. I just hope you understand that.” Lathe let his eyes wander over the walls of his room, making out the drawings from earlier in the dim light. “Your body is something you need to respect, is all I'm saying.” 

  

Eren started to cry again, gripping onto Lathe’s shirt more. Respect my body? “How can I respect the defiled piece of shit that my father left behind?” he whimpered and cried as he curled up into Lathe’s arms. He cried hard, letting everything loose after so long. How can I, Lathe? You’re the first person to suggest it in 7 years…. 

  

Lathe held onto Eren, slipping onto the bed next to him. “Eren, the first thing you need to do, is to know that no matter what may have happened to you, you are always worthy of respect. Always. And that means you need to understand your body is not a ‘piece of shit.’ You need to know that, and you need to believe that. You deserve respect.” 

  

“How do I deserve something like that? Lathe…. I’ve been raped by so many different men….. I’ve become a fucking prostitute in the last three years….” He cried and clung to Lathe as he cried more. He hadn’t told Lathe about that yet. “How can I be respected when I'm no better than a whore?” Eren asked, tears streaming down his face. “How can Levi love a body that’s been used? I’m too scared to tell him… I want him to like me…. But it’s only a matter of time before he finds out and leaves because I’m a whore…” Eren cried, the real reason for his tears finally surfacing. He was so afraid to be left alone. 

  

...If I know anything about Levi… “Eren, I don't know how well you can tell, but Levi is so utterly smitten with you I can't even begin to describe it.” Lathe tucked Eren’s head under his chin. “And I know that if and when you two get to that point in your relationship and you feel it’s time to give him that part of you, he won't run away knowing the truth. If he has any respect for you- and believe me, he does- he will understand, and still love you all the same.” 

  

“Lathe… He can’t love me though…. Do you know how much of a living hell that would make his life? I don’t think he would want to be bullied at school all the time like I am…” He trailed off, realizing what he just said and buried his face into Lathe’s chest again. 

  

...Like what now. ...Didn't he mention something like that Friday? It would explain his behavior… How infuriated and fed-up with everything he was. Lathe rubbed Eren’s arms, bringing up one hand to card through his hair. I'll address that in a moment. “Eren, love is a really weird thing that makes people want to do all sorts of things and brings out sides to people you may not know exist. I think with Levi, what happens at school because of you two being together is either trivial to him, or he’s going to make it trivial to the rest of the school.” Meaning, my money’s on him flaunting it at some point and daring the student body to tease a pissed-off jock who’s extremely protective. “And I think any teasing is going to die down regarding your panicking. You have Blake now, and he’ll help keep you calm.” Lathe smirked. “And he’ll chase away the haters for you.” 

  

Eren was quiet for a moment… He wasn’t sure if he should tell Lathe how Levi and them had really seen each other for their second time…. Fuck it, he needs to know. “Lathe…. Levi told me that he was a homophobe when I confessed to him first…. And now he’s been kissing and touching me… I can’t help but think that the most popular kid in school is just gonna stab me in the back and laugh about ‘a good fuck.’” Eren sniffled as he told Lathe exactly what had happened when Levi helped him with his broken nose, before his father had beaten him for it. I can’t help but fear that’s going to happen every time I get closer to him. 

  

Lathe was quiet for a moment, running his hand through Eren’s drying hair. “You two barely knew each other at that point. So much has happened between then and now. So much time has passed, time for you two to really know each other, work together in class and grow close. I don't think, now that things have gotten to where they are, that he’s going to betray you like that. I can see it in his eye when he looks at you. He’s completely sold. He really loves you, Eren. I really do think so.” 

  

Eren swallowed hard and sniffled against Lathe’s chest. “He still insults me when we work together in chemistry, even when it’s just the two of us working together.” Eren’s words were slow… He was starting to fall asleep against Lathe’s chest, in his arms. Blake had made himself comfortable at the end of the bed, watching them. 

  

What? “Stay with me a little longer, Eren. How so?” That doesn't sound right. 

  

“He calls me Brat with such a cold tone… Like there’s nothing but anger behind it… He’s joined in calling me a crybaby bitch and a fag…. He does it all the same….” Eren said and he yawned. He was exhausted, but struggling to stay up to please Lathe. 

  

...the next time I see Levi… “I don't think you'll have to worry about that for much longer. I'll talk to him, okay? See what I can find out is going on. But you shouldn't worry. It'll all sort itself out.” Lathe smiled at Eren. “I'll let you sleep, okay? You really need it, and I wouldn't object to a couple more hours.” He slowly untangled himself from Eren, stepping onto the floor and pulling the covers up. “Goodnight, Eren.” 

  

Eren made a soft noise before he curled up to Blake as the dog went to curl up to him once Lathe left. Eren’s arm wrapped around Blake and the two of them slept peacefully. 

Chapter Text

“Hey Levi, it’s Lathe. What’s your address?” Calling Levi at nine in the morning, Lathe tried to keep his anger contained for the moment. He's not going to give it to you if he knows you're going over to kill him. 

  

“Uh… 200   Corps. St. Apt. 104. Why, what’s up?” 

  

I know where that is. It's two blocks away. “I'll be there in five minutes. Be decent.” Lathe didn't wait for a response before shoving the phone back on the hook, grabbing his keys off the counter and closing that door quietly behind him, locking it and passing by his car, opting instead to walk quickly down the street, seething. We need to fix this. 

  

He found the apartment complex, walking in without being stopped. He stormed up the stairs, going to 104. He inspected the lock. Basic. Could probably use the keycard trick if I needed to. But let's try the old-fashioned way for now. He straightened to his full 6’2 height, knocking solidly on the door. 

  

It only took a few moments for Levi to open the door up. He looked up at the impressively tall man standing in front of him. Did this guy fucking grow since the last time I’ve seen him? Tell me your secrets! “Hey Lathe, come on in, I can make some tea for you since it’s still early.” Levi ushered him in and into the studio apartment, the kitchen situated to Lathe’s right, and the dining room table to his left while the apartment extended out and to a balcony. In between the balcony and the kitchen was a nice living space. The TV was shut off and the couch across from it in was in pristine condition; actually, everything was in pristine condition, like it had all been recently cleaned. The walls were white as was most of the furniture, unless it was darkwood or greys. Levi had disappeared only for a second to close a door, which most likely led to his bedroom, and was starting on his way back towards Lathe. He had no idea what the man was even here for. “Did something happen to Eren?” He asked and sat down at the table, motioning for Lathe to do the same. 

  

Lathe sat down begrudgingly, his eyes, normally warm, were very cold. “Sort of. I need to talk to you about your relationship with Eren.” 

  

Levi’s eyebrow quirked. What does he mean? As in like the thought of me over Eren? Or… “Um...what?” Levi didn’t really know how to answer and the confusion spread across his face quickly. 

  

Lathe leaned on the table, his arms on top in front of him. His eyes were dark as he spoke. “Levi, I was talking with Eren last night, and he told me about how he’s getting pushed around at school because of his panic attacks. It’s the frustration from all of that that caused him to pretty much break down Friday when he came home. What’s worse, is he tells me you've been joining in with everyone in calling him a ‘crybaby-bitch’ and a fag. I can kind of understand the fact you have an image to keep as a jock, but it’s messing with Eren’s head to an extent where he’s afraid you're going to stab him in the back, leave him and not turn back. He’s smitten, and he’s fucking terrified. And you need to cut the shit and sort this out.” 

  

“But I would never do that to him. Lathe I’ve been trying to get that across to him for two weeks. I’m sorry that I have to go along with it and insult him during Chem class. We sit next to two fucking other football players… You expect me to call him anything but an insult and then the new rumor will be that Eren’s a seductress whore who’s banging the hottest guy in school… Yes, I am the hottest, and no that is not a self-proclaimed title, and quite frankly, I don’t give two shits about how the school sees me! I’m doing it for Eren so it’s only the name calling and the small shoves in the hallway, and not something more severe! If people knew he was a whore, do you know how many frustrated asshats I have in my class that would bang him just to get a load off? At least 20 and that’s not counting the girls…” Levi trailed off, his arms crossed in front of his chest, right hand grabbing onto his left bicep in an effort not to throw a punch at Lathe for accusing him of even thinking about stabbing Eren in the back. Fucking Lathe, know both sides of the fucking story first God Dammit. 

  

Lathe kept his face stoic, his eyes flashing dangerously. ‘If people knew he was a whore?’ Check your fucking wording. Yet, he tried not to lose his head. Think. “If you're not worried about how the school sees you, I actually have a suggestion on how to fix this.” Lathe smirked. “Show Eren off. Flaunt it. Shove it in their faces, and dare them to say shit. You're a jock. Play the part of a possessive, pissed-off boyfriend. Nobody will try anything, knowing they'd face your wrath.” 

  

“Did the mentioning of the ‘asshats of my classmates’ go completely over your head? If I declared that I was dating Eren his chances of getting jumped in the hallway and raped increase tenfold. Especially when I’m not with him, which for your information is every period but two, and one of them’s fucking lunch! You expect me to believe showing Eren off will do any good? People will actually have a reason to call him a fag, the bullying will get worse if I do that…. I can put up with it, I don’t think he can though.” Levi let out a shuddered sigh and leaned over his lap, putting his head in his hands. What the fuck do I do? 

  

I think you can cut it out with the rage. Lathe sighed, his features softening. “Here, who’s in all his classes? Anyone he trusts?” 

  

I’m going to assume that he trusts Armin enough since they eat lunch next to each other every day and I see them talk to each other in the halls. “Armin… He trusts Armin. But Armin goes through the same hell Eren does… They both get picked on for being in advanced classes.” Levi mentioned, looking up to Lathe to see how he would take the new information. 

  

This is problematic. The politics of classes are tricky… I wonder what classes I'll be taking over tomorrow. Lathe looked thoughtful, speaking after a moment of quiet. “At least he'll have someone to lean on for the time being.” 

  

“So you’re saying that I should go around flaunting Eren still?” He asked and looked up from where his head was in his hands. I can’t think of another way Eren would believe me, that I won’t stab him in the back and run away. 

  

“Levi, there’s this thing called ‘popular opinion.’ It's the general consensus about something or someone. As far as I know, popular opinion on me, is that I'm pretty much the best teacher most of the students have had. That being said. I substitute a lot of classes, and see a lot of students every day. And not just the same ones. Everyone. If I hear shit going around about you or Eren, I know how to flip the switch from chill to do NOT fuck with me.” He grinned. “So yes. Flaunt it. Be prouder of it than an Olympic gold. And I'll bury anyone who stirs up shit for you.” 

  

Levi heaved a sigh in relief. At least we’ll have one teacher on our side tomorrow, who knows how any of the other teachers will take it. Levi dropped his head back into his hands, still leaning over his knees on his chair. “Thank you Lathe… I didn’t know what Eren was so afraid about, but now I do, thank you, really.” Levi told him, but he didn't want Lathe to see his face at the moment, so he kept it hidden in his hands. 

  

Lathe smiled. “I just want what's best for the both of you. Expect to see me in ‘protective parent mode’ quite a bit for a while. And Eren will have Blake, too. He'll be okay.” 

  

Wait a minute… “Blake? Who the fuck is that?” Levi immediately got on the defensive of another man being around Eren that he’s never met before. His eyes were burning with passionate fury to eliminate all those who stood between him and his Brat. 

  

The possessive boyfriend. He doesn't even have to act. Lathe studied the table, acting casual. “Oh, y’know, someone who’s going to be hanging around our house for awhile. Just moved in.” All technically not lies. Sweet. “You’d like him; He and Eren get along really well.” 

  

“What?” Levi stood from his chair, his glare directly focused on Lathe. “Who the fuck does he think he is? Getting close to my Brat?” Levi growled. He looked like he was ready to rip someone apart limb from limb. And I feel like I’ll be ready to do it in about two seconds… Damn the charges for murder… Eren is my Brat and mine alone! 

  

Lathe remained unfazed. “I dunno, I guess he thinks he’s Eren’s new PTSD service dog or somethin’, but that’s only my best guess. He doesn't really say much other than ‘woof.’” 

  

Levi’s fist clenched even more, his knuckles white, his anger now completely directed towards Lathe. “What the fuck!? You had me worried about a fucking dog ? Are you trying to turn me into a motherfucking fool?” Levi growled, his eyes turning into slits again as he stared down Lathe. You could almost feel the rage radiating off of Levi as he stood there clenching his fists. 

  

Lathe looked him in the eye, unaffected. He suddenly had this wondering look to him. “Have you told him yet?” 

  

Levi stopped at stared at Lathe in confusion. “Told him what?” What was I supposed to tell him? I don’t understand? I don’t do this lovey-dovey shit… I don’t fucking know what to do. 

  

“That you love him.” 

  

Levi’s eyes widened and he stared at Lathe in shock. “How am I supposed to tell the Brat that? He barely understands the fact that I like him… I’m not the romantic type, I don’t know what to fucking do.” Levi sat back down in his seat. I’ve already managed to fuck it up somehow, haven’t I? 

  

“With Eren, he’s not going to understand that you really do unless you tell it to him, straight to his face. I can't tell you how to say it, or when, but you need to say it at some point. Otherwise, he'll have to try and draw conclusions by himself, and we all know how that does.” 

  

“But how do I tell him that I love him? I can’t just go out there and say it. He’d never believe something like that! I need to think it over Lathe…. I can’t do it right now, I… I need time to think about how I’m gonna say it… God, it’s gonna be so awkward when we’re in the same room and I can’t look him in the eye because of this…” Levi ran his right hand through his hair, ruffling the inky locks. I don’t think that I can actually tell him something like that without defaulting to my straight face… He wouldn’t know what to think of that… I need to think of the right time to do it. When? And how? How the fuck am I supposed to tell him? He deserves to know… But he deserves to be told the right way. 

  

Levi looked back into Lathe’s eyes. “Is that all? We’ve been talking for awhile.” Levi looked at the clock. Already, 2 hours had passed between them bickering about how Levi should tell him. But I can’t do it, I can’t do it yet… Nope, I can’t tell him I love him, not right now! 

  

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Eren had woken up around 9 a.m. when the front door was slammed shut. He groaned as his eyes opened to sunlight flooding into his room. He felt something warm and wet come across his cheek. Well Blake’s up, I guess I should let him out and feed him. Eren slowly propped himself up and looked at Blake, petting him gently before he swung his legs over the side of the bed. Well, that was the first time I’ve actually got decent sleep without holding onto someone. Eren stretched feeling the satisfying pop sound from his neck as it rolled. He sighed in relief before getting up and getting dressed, noticing how eerily quiet it was inside the normally sound-filled house. Hmm. I wonder where Lathe is... Eren ventured downstairs and found a note from Sue on the kitchen table. Okay so Sue’s gone until further notice, got it… but where the hell is Lathe? Eren shrugged before giving Blake his food and fresh water. He waited for a few minutes, the only sound the clinking of Blake’s collar against the metal bowl. He sighed quietly looking around for something to eat though finding that he couldn’t bring himself to actually eat anything. I’m not hungry anyways… I’m going to check the Study to make sure he’s not up there… then I’ll put his new ceiling in. Eren let Blake out to let him do his business before he ran upstairs to find Lathe’s room completely empty, along with the study. “Where is he?” Eren asked himself as he walked down the stairs. He didn’t leave me did he? He’s going to come back right? Eren swallowed hard, letting Blake back inside and heading down to grab the pieces he needed. They dried beautifully! I really hope that he’ll like it. With that Eren got to work balancing himself on a few chairs and had covered Lathe’s ceiling with the surreal galaxy picture. He was so proud of himself, so he opened the blinds so that the paint would get plenty of light. Eren then put the room back in order before he left the room to go down by the piano. He passed the clock and anxiety washed over him. He’s been gone for 2 hours? Where is he? He didn’t text me… or leave a note... Did he leave me? Is he never coming back?? Eren had headed towards the corner of the room without a thought to it, and curled up in a ball. Blake instantly went to work and he pulled Eren into the middle of the open space by his shirt before he started to ground the other, putting his full weight onto Eren’s chest to calm him down as he licked his face. Eren was breathing hard as so many thoughts raced through his mind. 

  

“Eren!” Lathe ran to him from the front door, closing it without looking as he quickly knelt on the ground next to him, running his hand through Eren’s brunette locks and moving around Blake to hold onto his arm with the other, rubbing his thumb over his shoulder. “Eren, I'm here, it’s all alright. You don't have to panic about anything.”    

  

Eren’s labored breathing started to calm down. “L-Lathe?” Eren asked and looked up to Lathe with widened eyes. Blake continued to whimper and lick at Eren’s face to keep him from going into a full panic. He did not remove his full bodyweight; no, he was trained not to, even with Lathe at Eren’s side again. 

  

“I'm here Eren, stay with me. You're okay. I promise.” Lathe searched Eren’s eyes. Is it his memories of his father? Or is it because I left without telling him? Probably because I left without telling him. Shit. 

  

Eren finally had tears in his eyes as he reached out to hold onto Lathe’s shirt with an iron grip. “Y-you left…” Eren started crying as he held onto Lathe’s shirt. Blake leaned up a bit and reached for his tears and licked them away. 

  

Lathe reached to help Eren sit up, pulling him close in a hug. “Eren, I'm sorry. I forgot to leave a note or anything, and I should've. I'll make sure I do next time I need to go out.” 

  

Eren calmed down when he was in his arms and so Blake eased up on his lap, sitting on his legs, his full weight still there to ground him until Eren told him to get off. Eren clung to Lathe’ shirt as he cried into the man’s shoulder. “Don’t leave me…. Please” he sobbed out and let his body shudder as he did so. 

  

I fucked up. “I won't leave you Eren. I'm not going to leave. Swear it.” Lathe rested his cheek on Eren’s head, holding him tightly. He traced invisible patterns on Eren’s arm, trying to calm him. I'd never just walk out on you like that. I would hope you'd know that... 

  

Eren just sobbed for a long time. He finally gave Blake the instructions to get off of him so the dog got off and sat beside him to lick his face. I was so scared…. You were just gone… I didn't know when you'd be back. “I didn't….I didn't know…. When you'd...be back.” Eren hiccuped as he put his head against Lathe’s chest. “I was so scared you left…. And leave me all alone… Sue left a note that she wouldn’t be home until further notice… But you… You were just gone… I was so scared.” Eren tried to calm himself down. 

  

“I'm so sorry Eren, I really should've left a note. I'll make sure I do from now on. I really didn't mean to scare you like that. I'm so sorry.” I should've left him something… Lathe kept his arms solidly around him. 

  

Eren just stayed in Lathe's arms as long as he calmed down. Please don’t do that again. “You just slammed the door and left. I thought you’d be back in a few minutes but then that turned into an hour… And an hour turned into two and I started freaking out… I was so afraid.” he told him, still shaking. 

  

“I'm sorry about that… I was mad, and I lost my head a bit. I wasn't thinking things through too well this morning. But you never need to be scared that I'm not going to come back when I leave for something. I'm always going to come back.” Lathe let out a shuddery sigh. This is all a mess. 

  

“Where did you go?” Eren asked softly and gripped Lathe’s shirt a little more. He’s not mad at me right? Did he leave because he was mad at me and didn’t want to be in the house with me? Eren’s mind started racing, his hands going to scratch, letting go of Lathe’s shirt. Blake instantly went and snatched his hands into his jaws. 

  

Lathe sighed, swallowing. If you're anything other than honest, not only will I not forgive you, but I don't think he would either. “I went to talk with Levi. I was just really mad from when you said Levi joined in the name-calling at school. I needed to see if I could straighten some things out.” 

  

Eren’s eyes widened immediately at the statement. “You what ?” Eren’s eyes were overtaken by pure panic. He backed away from Lathe and removed himself from his lap. “You went to go talk to him?” He asked quietly again. “ Why? Why did you go talk to him? I don’t want him to hate me any more than he already does…” Eren sat back stunned at what had just unfolded in front of him. “Lathe… What if he doesn’t talk to me again?” He asked and he looked so heartbroken at the mere thought. Blake instantly dragged Eren away into the center of the floor and he climbed up and sat in his lap. He was preparing to ground Eren; he could sense another attack coming on and was trying to get him to calm down now. 

  

...Now that you mention it… Fuck. “Eren, trust me when I say that Levi doesn't hate you.” Lathe, though he did not go to hug Eren again, moved closer to lay his hand on top of Eren’s. “He isn't about to totally stop talking to you.” He better fucking not, I don't want to have to deal with the guilt of knowing I fucked over their entire relationship 

  

Eren looked at him before he looked down again at Blake and pet him. “There’s no way you can know that….” Eren trailed off and burrowed his face into Blake’s fur to calm himself down. He hugged Blake and he tried not to cry as he thought of a world without Levi… I wouldn’t be able to sleep with him anymore…. What if the nightmares come back? Eren swallowed hard as Blake whimpered and whined to get Eren’s attention to calm him down and focus on the dog. 

  

Lathe took his hand back, his head hung. He stared at the floor. ...did I ruin so much? I just… Wanted them to be happy. And everything at school was messing so much with Eren’s head, I just… Maybe, we should have Levi over for Thanksgiving. It’s in a few days, and I think Eren could do with seeing him then. His voice was soft. “How about you give Levi a call, and invite him over for Thanksgiving? It’s in a few days, and I think we could do with some extra company.” Lathe offered him a small smile. 

  

Eren thought about it for awhile. “Okay, I’ll call him with the house phone, and while I'm talking… You should go upstairs and check your study…” Eren trailed off as he got up and off the floor and started to head to the kitchen. I hope he says yes, I really want to see him again. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him yesterday. 

  

Lathe just let Eren walk to the kitchen, standing to go up the stairs. ... What did he do to…? Lathe walked into his study, and looked up at the soft light of the ceiling. Stars shone down on him, and Lathe felt that sensation of weightlessness if for only a moment, the kind one would feel while adrift in a dream. Space. He… He painted all this. It’s beautiful. Beaming, Lathe ran down the stairs to the kitchen. “Eren, thank you so much…” He stopped in his tracks, his eyes suddenly full of concern and worry. 

  

Eren stood looking at Lathe with pure heartbreak, his arm and hand holding the phone at his side, his other hand covering his red, tear-stained face. 

  

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

  

After Levi denied the invitation for Thanksgiving at our house…. My body decided that I couldn’t eat another thing. I couldn’t find the stomach to eat anything at all… Even after I had taken the nausea pill, I still had to throw everything up because the nausea was so bad. I’ve been feeling like shit since yesterday… and I can’t even bring myself to tell Lathe that he shouldn’t cook for me anymore… I know it’s not going to go down well. I know it won’t be staying down, even if the food goes down. Eren curled up into his bed and just laid there. Blake had been whining for him to get out from under the covers and actually move for the whole day, and it was almost time for dinner. I have no intention of moving. If Blake wants to eat, he can go down and eat like he normally does. I’m going to stay right here and stay in my own room. 

  

He’s been in there the whole day… I know it hurts, I've been there too, but he needs to come out of there sometime… Lathe stood outside the door, quietly knocking on the doorframe. He didn't try to enter, his gaze downcast and searching the floor. His voice was soft. “Eren, there’s food downstairs for whenever you want it.” He stood there, listening to the silence. I can't help but think this is all my fault. If I hadn't gotten so overprotective, overbearing, letting myself lose my head like that… Maybe things would have been better and they would have solved this on their own. He stood there, hearing Blake’s whimpers. He's too worried about Eren to leave… Lathe left after a moment, coming back to place Blake’s food and water dishes quietly on the carpet inside, next to the door. He stood, looking up to Eren’s curled-up form. Poor kid… It would've meant a lot to him. Lathe struggled with himself, unsure if he should go over and console him. Thinking of himself, he decided against it, turning to leave for downstairs, quiet, his head hung. I hope Levi gets it together soon. For both their sakes. 

  

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

  

I ruined everything. I ruined absolutely everything. Two weeks, and they haven't spoken, haven't looked at each other, haven't said each other’s name. Eren isn't keeping anything down anymore. I can hear him pad to the bathroom, vomit, and go back to bed. It's the only sound left in the house since Sue left for home. I don't know how Levi is doing. I can only imagine what he must be thinking, somewhere, maybe at home, about how everything went all wrong somewhere. Probably with me, and the way I talk. Too much. Me? Heh. I've been alright. I can handle the guilt of knowing you wrecked a wonderful relationship. I've just been sitting here, staring at the piano keys. I think it’s time for breakfast. I don't know. Time passes oddly when you're sitting at the keys, even if their sound isn’t making you sway. I don't have a watch on me. I have no real way to tell, whether the six on the clock is am or pm. I closed the blinds. Maybe I should move. I don't want to, though. Don't want to disturb the missus. I have to take care of him. Myself. And Blake. Of course. I stand, and my phone is still on the counter from yesterday. Was it yesterday? Before is fine. It’s… Saturday. Six in the morning. I’m not hungry. Maybe Eren will be, after so long. A plastic cup of food, a plastic cup of water for Blake. That first, up the stairs. Eren’s plate is clean. I know he pitched it last night. Blake’s following me to the kitchen again. He’s at the glass door to the backyard. It’s cold out, but he’ll be okay. Let him run around. Let someone maybe be happy. Scrambled eggs are easy. Two minutes. They're on his dresser if he wants them. I think he has a new pill calendar for the week. 

  

I'm sorry, I was called away. I have nothing else to do today, miss, besides watch ghost hands fly over your keys. I'm watching them play ragtime, the blues, something that doesn't exist yet, perhaps. No, miss, I never said that. Never. It's as if music is reinvented every time it is played. It could never… What is it, one would say, ‘jump the shark?’   I could not stomach the thought. I could forever move over your ivory, hearing what is yet to be in shatterable silence, simply being and creating without movement, hearing without being and creating without movement, living without hearing without being and creating without movement. The papers? They, they are from my tilt. I haven't played them yet. But they sound absolutely wonderful, I assure you, Madame. I've worn down so many pencils writing them for you. I apologize for the drops on them, the tear marks… I have not been myself. I did something… awful. I have taken from two people what it is easiest for millions to sing about, either not knowing what their words written by others mean or speaking in tongues, their souls singing for them. I must sound so odd… Is not the right word. A romantic sap. Is perhaps accurate. I must sleep soon, miss. I have a puppet to tote come Monday. 

  

Blake is back in the house, he’s trying to tell me something. I do not need you, Eren does. Go to him. He has a heart to mend. More important than fighting the burden of Atlas. Go- I will hold this Boulder. You are as lovely as ever, miss. I do not know what to play. I have written for you, and I have sung in my head for you, but to play… I cannot. I do not know what to do with such an honor. I am willing myself for you not to wilt, it is all I have to give you, my presence. I have left the mail to wait, you have asked my attention. I forget myself… And I need to remember, for the sake of many. 

  

Blake is pawing at my leg. It is night. I must remember, soon, intention. 

  

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

  

It’s the only way to get him back… I need to do this. Eren stood behind the backstage curtain on their last day of school before Christmas. He’d entered the talent show. Everyone at school would be at this talent show, and it was mostly just some wise cracks making jokes… I guess they’re supposed to be funny? I don’t know anymore . Eren waited for his turn to get on stage; He still had to wait for three more people to ‘perform’ before him. I don’t know if you can call it a performance, no one has actually sung or danced at all. Eren clenched Blake’s leash as the line in front of him dwindled down to two. He was nervous, of course. Who could blame him… He was trying to win back Levi’s favor. Win it back… More like try and get him to acknowledge me again… If he would talk to me… even at school, I would feel so much better. Even if it’s just as a friend… I can bear with it… I want to be by his side again. I want him to be worried about me… I don’t want him to ignore me anymore… I don’t want to have this empty gnawing feeling in my stomach anymore… I want to be able to actually enjoy the things Lathe makes me to eat… I want to not have to feel acid burn my throat every time I try to eat. Eren pet Blake to calm himself down and to steady his thoughts before he got on the stage. The line had vanished in front of him and he watched as two buff Stage Crew guys pulled out the Grand Piano. It was attached to a mount with wheels so that it would be moved by two people easily. Eren took in a few deep breaths as the microphone was positioned for him to sit at the stool. Not even Lathe knows I’m doing this… Fuck, what will Lathe think? I’ve been wanting to practice… But he’s been hogging the piano lately, whenever I come down to see him… I don’t think he’s noticed me come to see him at all these past two weeks. I’ve been wanting to talk to someone other than Blake… Someone I could really talk to, but Lathe wasn’t there when I called out for him. He was physically sitting in front of the piano… But he just wasn’t… There. Eren took slow steps across the stage with Blake, giving him small commands to lay down and stay. He dropped the leash beside the dog, knowing he wouldn’t run off. His head turning briefly to look out into the crowd. Everyone was staring, surprisingly quiet, but then again, no one would’ve expected the most bullied kid to stand up and show himself off in front of the whole student body. Eren swallowed, or at least tried to. Levi’s in the center section, 10 rows from the stage, and sitting on the end. His face looks as blank as ever… Lathe’s in the back with the rest of the teachers. He looks a bit surprised. Probably didn’t expect me to give one more shot at this… One last arrow in the quiver before this hunter starves in the winter. Eren slowly took his seat, sliding down the long bench in front of the piano itself. He looked over the keys and then at the microphone in front of him. He didn’t bother to introduce himself, everyone knew who the fuck he was. He tried to clear his throat as he spoke into the microphone for the first time. The sound of his own voice echoing in the silent auditorium. “Well, I’m doing this for the two people I hold dear to me. For the first, I just want you to come back to me… I really want you back, and the second… Won’t you let me in again? I can’t deal with this loneliness anymore….” Eren trailed off his ‘intro’ and let the crowd of teens murmur about who they thought he was talking about. The people were only able to murmur for a few seconds before Eren’s fingers flew expertly over the keys in front of him. He closed his eyes as his glorious voice left his lips…. Leaving a majority of the student body in shock. 

  

“Am I just a fool?
Blind and stupid for loving you
Am I just a silly girl?” 

  

…He’s talking about me. Does he really want me back after… after everything I did to him? I’m a coward who can't say the most important thing I need to and… he still wants me? 

  

“So young and naíve to think you were the one who came to take claim of this heart
Cold-hearted, shame you'll remain just a frame in the dark” 

  

He’s still trying for him. He’s got a spectacular voice, and he’s giving everything he’s got. If anything would get through to Levi that he loves you so get over it and say it... 

  

“The people are talking, the people are saying
That you have been playing my heart like a grand piano
The people are talking, the people are saying
That you have been playing my heart like a grand piano.” 

  

...I'm sorry, Eren. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to keep you from getting hurt even more by staying away from you, not giving anyone more reason to hurt you and… I forgot about the most important thing. How you felt about this… Us, I should say... 

  

“So play on, play on, play on
Play on, play on, play on
Play on, play on, play on
Play on, play on” 

  

“Am I queen of fools?
Wrapped up in lies and foolish jewels
What do I see in you?
Maybe I'm addicted to all the things you do” 

  

...I need to say it. I need to get all of this out of my head. I need to tell you. I love you and you should know that. 

  

“'Cause I keep thinking you were the one who came to take claim of this heart
Cold-hearted, shame you'll remain just a frame in the dark” 

  

I'm going to do it. The second he's done singing on that stage, I'm going to get up there and fucking tell him. And I am going to make him believe it.

  

“The people are talking, the people are saying
That you have been playing my heart like a grand piano
The people are talking, the people are saying
That you have been playing my heart like a grand piano” 

  

I really fucking love you, you Brat. Any moment. 

  

“So play on, play on, play on
Play on, play on, play on
Play on, play on, play on
Play on, play on” 

  

Here goes everything. 

  

Levi was out of his seat in a moment, before the last chords had faded from the piano, before anyone had raised their hands to clap or to boo him off the stage. He was running down the aisle, leaping onto the stage, and at Eren’s side in a second. He knelt his left leg on the piano stool, pushing the microphone out of the way. He took Eren’s face in his hands. “Eren, I'm really sorry, and I love you.” And he smashed their lips together, willing him to understand and to believe. 

  

Eren leaned into the kiss immediately. His arms wrapping around Levi’s broad shoulders as he kissed Levi back. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as he kissed Levi. I missed this so much, I don’t care what people think anymore, I just want him back! Eren didn’t even take into mind that a majority of the student body was in fact applauding at their display of genuine affection. Levi, thank you so much. 

  

Levi, albeit reluctantly, pulled away after a moment. He leaned his forehead against Eren’s, breathing heavily. “Eren, I was such a fucking idiot this entire time. I didn't want you getting hurt any more than you were for your panic attacks so I tried to keep up my image of not being involved with you but I totally disregarded how it was messing with your head and I just couldn't get over myself and tell you that I loved you and I was so scared to say it so I pushed you away and… I'm so, so sorry for a being an asshole and an idiot. I really, really hope you can forgive me for that.” 

  

Levi pulled from him, reaching for the cordless mic and yanking it from it’s stand. He stood, addressing the crowd. “I, Levi Ackerman, hereby declare that this Brat, Eren Yeager, is my boyfriend from this moment forward… Anyone who so much as says a fucking word about it to him, you’ll have me , and the rest of the fucking football team to deal with! Are we clear?” Levi growled out into the microphone, almost expecting an objection just so they could shut him down. “Because Surprise, Motherfuckers, I’m Gay and Taken.” 

  

...a pissed-off, possessive boyfriend, flaunting it like an Olympic gold. And he doesn't have to act.

Chapter Text

Eren smiled as he looked into his locker. No one’s calling me any names… It’s great! ...Where’s Levi? He said he would take me home to Lathe’s after school. I want him to kiss me again. I want to show him Lathe’s study too! Eren grabbed all the things he needed, not noticing that Blake was currently sniffing at Levi… He’d almost barked at Levi when he had first met him, jumping on the stage to get close to his handler. Only now he was curious. 

  

Levi slung an arm over Eren’s shoulders. “Hey Brat. Is this Blake?” Levi kept trying in vain to pet him. Just let me pet you. I know your vest says I'm not supposed to, but I'm an exception here. Come on. ...Please? 

  

“Oh, hold on, he won’t trust you yet…,” Eren bent down and took Levi’s hand and put his own hand under it, then offering Blake to sniff at the outstretched hands. Blake instantly went to sniff at the hand that was attached to his person’s. His ears perked, moving all about as people walked by and lockers slammed shut. Blake scrunched his nose up a bit before going up to him and sniffing all over Levi to make sure that he got all of Levi’s scent. The dog soon sat and wagged his tail as he stared at Levi, now expecting to be pet. Eren chuckled and let Levi’s hand go. “He trusts you now.” Eren smiled at that and he looked so happy, for the first time in a long time. 

  

Wait, what? “So first you refuse to let me pet you, and now you're demanding I do it? I'm not sure that's how this works.” Levi told Blake sarcastically, still going to pet him, scratching behind his ears. 

  

“Levi, I’ve only displayed you to him and, like, one other person. He knows that I trust you with my life… And will look for you if he can’t find the other I’ve entrusted it with. You and Lathe are the only two he trusts completely.” Eren smiled and stood up, grabbing Blake’s leash and motioning Levi to get up as well. Blake got up as soon as Eren did so; he was very attuned to Eren’s body language and how he reacted to certain things. 

  

...you trust me with your life? Levi shook himself out of a daze after a second and quickly followed Eren. “...you really trust me with your life?” 

  

“Well… You've already saved it twice.” Eren blushed and looked at his feet for a moment. He’s got me wrapped around his finger and he doesn't even fucking know it. Face, meet palm. He needs to know that I still trust him… And I want it to stay that way. I want to be able to live again. 

  

...stopping him from overdosing… And sending him off in an ambulance. Levi walked to get alongside Eren, reaching out to twine their fingers together. “...that means a lot.” I'm still no good at romantic shit, am I? 

  

Eren smiled and he leaned over and put a quick peck on Levi’s cheek. He waited until they were far enough away from the school to take Blake’s leash off of him and put it in the pack attached to his vest. He only took his hand away from Levi for a moment before returning it to the pale skin he so desperately loved. I hope we can get along, all three of us… Eren smiled as Blake seemed unfazed by the removed leash, and stuck to Eren’s side like glue. The rest of the walk home was short and peaceful. Eren climbed up the stairs first, jiggling the key into the lock until the door swung open. Eren ushered them both inside, Blake waiting patiently to get his vest removed as per usual. So Eren did just that and let Blake go get his water. So how do I get you to kiss me again? Hmmm… Eren pondered as he shut the door and led Levi down to the workshop, which was still in the same order he had left it in 2 weeks ago. 

  

...back here, are we? I didn't exactly have art in mind… “There something specific you were… thinking of doing, Eren?” Levi smirked, his eyes running Eren up and down. 

  

Eren blushed a bit and got out some large paper and the charcoal pencils again. “Your back, I want to see how your shoulders meet your neck, so strip your shirt off.” He told him and was busy preparing for a day of drawing. 

  

...yeah, see- we’re not going to have that, exactly. “Alright…” Levi slowly pulled his shirt over his head, tossing it onto the table. He sat down on a stool directly next to where Eren was setting up. He tugged lightly at his sleeve for a moment. “I can understand you wanting the shirt off…” He reached over, pulling Eren facing him into his lap. “...but I had other things in mind.” He rested his hands on Eren’s waist, looking at him with shaded eyes. 

  

Eren let out a soft gasp of surprise as he was pulled close to Levi, his eyes instantly taking in the glorious sight of his wondrous abs. Fuck… He’s too fucking hot! Eren just stared at them, unable to pull his face away from them to actually look Levi in the eye again. His hand timidly reached out to touch Levi’s cool skin and feel how solid he actually was. 

  

Levi tilted his head, leaning into Eren’s touch, their lips only a few inches apart. He hovered there for a moment, before pressing his lips against Eren’s, their kiss starting slow. He pulled Eren a bit closer, letting one hand wander slowly up Eren’s side. It’s okay to touch- I'm certainly not complaining. 

  

Eren smiled as Levi was gentle with him. He slowly reached out his fingers gently touching Levi’s warm skin. Huh… It’s not cool like the rest of them? I can feel the muscles moving under his skin. Eren slowly put his whole hand on Eren’s abs, letting the palm of his hand touch the warm skin. He shivered as Levi’s hands had found a sensitive spot along his sides and he let a small moan escape his lips, pulling away from the ginger kiss for a second, to look into Levi’s eyes. His own eyes were full of happiness, and a hint of lust if Levi could detect it. 

  

Is that… Levi quirked an eyebrow, a small smile on his face. His own eyes mirrored Eren’s, and he let his other hand begin to wander as well. His eyes traced Eren’s outline. You feel… thinner. And you were thin to begin with… “Eren, were you eating while I was gone?” His voice was weighted with worry. 

  

Eren kept his hand on Levi’s lower abs, a few inches from the hem of his jeans. He looked down at his feet for a second before he nodded. “I was eating…… But I couldn’t keep anything down.” He told the Levi the truth; There was no point in hiding it from him.   No point in hiding it, then he’ll know why I’m still throwing everything up if it comes to that… Eren slowly raised his other hand, feeling Levi’s warm skin under all his fingers now. Hmm… I wonder how far this’ll go? 

  

Oh my. We need to fix that. But we can deal with that later. Right now… He cupped Eren’s cheek with his hand, kissing him again with more force, his tongue swiping over his lip after a moment. ...I'm a bit occupied. 

  

Eren felt Levi’s lips against his own. He moved slightly, pulling away from the kiss for only a second, but there was a mischievous glint in his eyes. He started to clear room on the table beside the two of them, after a moment clearing it from all the clutter so he could lay down on it, with Levi over him again. Eren jumped up onto the strong table and he motioned with one finger for Levi to come to him. He had almost a seductive air to him as his legs were a spread apart as the hung over the edge of the table. I hope he likes this, I want our last kiss to happen again, I don’t care if I get hard from it anymore. Levi won’t leave me because I get hard from it… I wouldn’t be surprised if he’ll be trying for it. 

  

What are you…? Levi watched Eren climb from his lap and onto the table, seeing him beckon him on top. Levi swallowed hard. Fuck. Levi stood, starting with one knee on the edge of the sturdy table and lifting himself on top of Eren, careful still not to crush him. His eyes dark, he dove in again, taking advantage of Eren’s surprised gasp to enter his mouth, immediately tangling their tongues together. So good... 

  

Eren felt Levi’s tongue dance around his own after the shock of Levi kissing him so quickly subsided. His own tongue danced around Levi’s, taking in the warmth of the muscle within his own mouth. Eren slowly wrapped his hands around Levi’s broad shoulders, moving his fingers across his chiseled back. Goddammit Levi, touch me already… Don’t make me wait. Eren became a little more forceful in the kiss, trying to get his message across as his fingers gently dug into his shoulder blades. 

  

Levi seemed to hear him, shifting carefully to lean on one arm, the other cupping his cheek, thumb brushing his jaw, before letting it slide lower, over his shoulders, splaying across his chest and stomach, running along his side. 

  

Eren let strings of moans out as Levi’s hands wandered over multiple sensitive spots. At least they're somewhat muffled by our kiss. God I wonder if he’ll find out my inner thighs will almost immediately get me hard, and I know that one… He’s finding ones I’ve never had touched before. Eren pulled back and let out an extremely loud moan as Levi’s fingers grazed his hips. 

  

Levi, his eyes dark, let his mouth wander again to Eren’s neck, nibbling and licking and suckling, remembering the sensitive spots from before. I want to hear you sing. His hands trailed along his sides and to the hem of his jeans and up again, wishing to go further, but he knew to wait until he knew he could. 

  

Eren moaned out even more as both of his hands were now at his waist. Fuck Levi, this feels amazing…. I want more… But the doors still open upstairs. “Hmmm… Go close the door upstairs… Then you can” Eren moaned out as Levi’s fingers grazed more spots. Lathe would be home soon, but hopefully he can get the door closed means at least knock, or think before you enter… Hmm, he’ll be cool about it. 

  

...Right. Door. Levi, with one last butterfly kiss to his neck, lifted himself off of Eren and touched down on the floor, hurrying himself up the stairs to close the door. No more interruptions, please. As he reached out to grab the doorknob and close it, his eyes glanced to the base of the stairs, where he saw Lathe. Fuck. Levi stood there a moment, unsure of what to do or say, when Lathe just quickly gave him a thumbs-up and disappeared up the stairs. ...how are you an adult. He closed the door, descending quickly and crossing back over in two steps to Eren, vaulting back onto the table. He gazed into Eren’s viridian eyes with his own hooded steel ones, kissing him fervently. Now, where were we? He carefully lowered his hips against Eren’s, gauging his reaction. 

  

Eren gave a soft groan into their kiss. Levi, if you continue... I hope you are prepared to deal with my hardon. Eren pushed his hips up against Levi’s, giving a slow motion to grind his own hips into Levi’s. Damn, this actually feels great when it’s not some random guy… Fuck, Levi… Eren could feel his length starting to harden in his jeans. 

  

Levi felt Eren’s length against his hips, grinding down against him, groaning into his mouth at the friction. His hands traced along the denim hem, wishing to go further. He brought his hand to toy with the button of his jeans, pulling back from the kiss for a moment, his eyes asking for permission. Let me… help you with that. 

  

Eren leaned his head back a bit, looking at Levi with lustfilled eyes. Oh don’t stop Levi. Eren spread his legs wider for Levi and let him undo the button of his jeans. Hmm, I wonder if he’ll know what to do? Well, if he doesn’t I can always direct him on how I want it. Eren gave a slight nod as well, in case opening his legs weren’t enough for his approval. 

  

Levi undid the button, gently kissing him as he unzipped his jeans and tugged them down his hips, fingers ghosting over the waistband of his boxers before tugging them down, letting his erect length spring free, hand hovering unsure for a moment, before gently taking him in hand close to the base, pumping in a slow rhythm. 

  

Eren let out a loud moan and his head shot up as soon as Levi began his slow rhythm. “L...Levi.” Eren moaned out his name, moving to grip onto the other’s shoulders. I haven’t felt this good…. Since I don’t know when… Fuck, please don’t stop Levi. 

  

My god, you sound so fucking sexy… Levi sped up his movements, going to suckle again on Eren’s neck, running his thumb over the slit of Eren’s head. 

  

Eren’s whole body shuddered from the intense pleasure. Beads of precum started to seep from his head. Eren’s whole face was flushed. “Fuck… Levi…. G-good.” He moaned out as Levi kissed his neck. Is he gonna leave marks on me? I wonder if he will… I kinda want him to. 

  

Levi twisted his hand as he pumped Eren quickly, biting Eren’s soft flesh. Mine. He held Eren’s length with more pressure, his movements becoming more erratic. 

  

Eren gave out a sharp cry of pleasure as he felt the pressure increase on his length. Shit… Levi…. He felt the warmth start to coil in his stomach. He moved his head to the side, giving Levi more room on his neck. “L-Levi… I’m… Close.” Eren’s breathing hitched more, his length leaking precum, effectively lubricating Levi’s hand on his dick. 

  

Levi pulled away from Eren’s neck, noting with pride that he would surely have plenty of hickeys to show off. He leaned up next to Eren’s ear, his voice smooth in quiet command. “...Then cum for me.” 

  

Eren felt the coil that had been tightening in his stomach snap. He cried out in pleasure as he felt his whole body shudder and felt rope after rope of come leave from him. The pearly white covering Levi’s hands and his stomach. Eren was still moaning underneath Levi as he was milked for every last drop of his come. He was still panting hard, his chest heaving litanies of Levi’s name rolling off of his tongue. Fuck…. I want him to do that again. “Levi….” Eren finally opened his eyes again and he looked at Levi with hooded eyes. 

  

I will never get tired of hearing that. “Eren…” Levi gazed at him with dark eyes, a red streak across his cheeks. He shifted a bit, his hand reaching blindly for the box of wipes he knew were somewhere on the table to clean himself, feeling his own length still straining against his jeans.    

  

Eren shifted a bit under him. “Levi….. Let me…” Eren moved out from under Levi and he grabbed the box, handing it to Levi before slipping off the table. He put himself together quickly before he looked at Levi’s jeans… “C-can I help you?” He asked quietly, his hand grazing over Levi’s length in his jeans. It’s so big…. Holy shit… 

  

Levi, having cleaned himself, shivered at Eren’s touch. ...Fuck. He tossed the box on the table behind Eren, letting out a shuddery breath. “... please.” His hands hovered unsure, before cupping Eren’s cheeks and pressing a quick, forceful kiss to his lips. 

  

Eren kissed him back. His slim fingers making quick work of Levi’s jeans and pulling them down, his fingers gently tracing the outline of Levi’s monstrous length. He pulled back to breath, putting his forehead against Levi’s. “Well, now I know why someone’s popular.” Eren smiled and palmed his length. “It’s so big.” Eren moved down to kiss the outline in Levi’s boxers, teasing him. I wonder how long he can take this for? 

  

...Tease. Levi forced down a moan, his fingers going to tangle in Eren’s hair. “Eren, please.I've lasted this long, but don't make me wait too much more... 

  

Eren smirked for a second before he grabbed hold of his boxers with his teeth, pulling them down all the way to his knees. He smiled more as he saw Levi’s length spring free. “It’s really big…” Eren trailed off as he slowly trailed a finger from the base all the way to the head, going over his slit. Oh, he is so getting teased… I don’t care, he’ll thank me later. 

  

Levi let out a low moan, his fingers threaded through Eren’s hair tightening their grip. Eren. Please. 

  

Eren gave a soft moan as his hair was pulled. He smiled softly, gently bringing his lips to kiss the head of his length. “Big and thick.” His lips opened and Eren slowly started to engulf his length into his mouth. Thank god I’ve done this before, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do this. Eren took his whole length in all the way to the hilt, mindful not to hit his teeth against him.   I wonder if he’ll pull my hair again… He’ll be in for a surprise if he does. Eren began to suck on Levi’s whole length, and looked up to see what his face looked like. Wonder if anyone else was able to take his whole length in and suck it? 

  

Levi groaned loudly in bliss, his face completely flushed, eyes hooded, trying to keep his hips from thrusting forward. Oh my god, Eren… It’s never felt this good… He fought to keep his knees from buckling, giving out. He tugged on Eren’s locks again, lost in pleasure. 

  

Eren moaned as Levi tugged on his hair again, sending vibrations down Levi’s length. Eren looked for his reaction, wondering if Levi would come from that stimulation alone. Eren moved his hand up to fondle Levi’s balls as well, gently massaging them in his hands. 

  

Levi felt his coil tightening, shuddering at the vibrations around his length. He let out a long moan. I can't hold on for much longer… “E-Eren...I… I can't…” His breath hitched, looking down at Eren with lust-filled eyes, overwhelmed. 

  

Eren slowly moved back, sucking on Levi's sensitive head, his tongue darting around the tip, before nudging his slit with it. Cum then, Levi. Eren brought his other hand up to start to pump the base of Levi’s length. Cum for me, I want to taste you. Eren was eager to have Levi come in his mouth, and he was doing everything he could to prolong Levi’s climax, but knew it would happen soon, even with his grip on the base of his length. 

  

Meeting Eren’s eyes, taking in the sight of him, Levi felt his coil snap, unraveling as he came in Eren’s mouth with a loud moan, Eren’s name rolling off his tongue, a mantra, his knees threatening to give out from under him. Eren... 

  

Eren swallowed every drop of Levi’s cum, not letting a single one get away. It’s salty, almost sweet…. I like it, it’s not terrible. He continued to rub him to milk every last pearl of cum from Levi’s length, before he rose his head again, his mouth coming off of Levi with a seductive ‘pop’. Eren looked up to Levi and moved to kiss him again, the salty flavor still on his tongue, but Eren had swallowed everything down. 

  

...He swallowed… Damn. Levi kissed Eren fervently, not caring that he could taste himself, pulling himself together before pulling Eren close and tangling their tongues. I really fucking love you. He wrapped his arm around his waist, his other hand cupping his cheek. He pulled back to whisper, “I love you.” before diving in again, a streak of red across his face. 

  

Eren didn’t care that Levi had pulled him up onto the table with him. It made it easier for their bodies to press against each other with Eren on top, so of course he did, pressing their hips and chests together, Eren’s nipples still perking up through the bandages wrapped around him. He continued the kiss, tilting his head to deepen it more. This is fucking amazing… I don't want to stop... 

  

Levi kissed Eren lazily, his hands running slowly up his sides, over his back. This is so wonderful… I don't want to have to stop… Levi pulled away after a few moments, looking to Eren’s neck and smirking in victory at the small bruises blooming there. Mine. Contented, Levi just held onto Eren, nose buried in his hair, feeling his breath on his shoulder. 

  

Eren smiled as he laid there contently. “You were pretty good at the handjob… I would’ve thought that you would’ve been bad… didn’t you have girlfriends like, all the time to do that for you?” Eren asked and giggled as he moved his head to set his gaze on Levi’s eyes. He was trying to poke at Levi to see just how experienced he really was with this. “I also know why all the girls would be so interested in you.” Eren playfully palmed at Levi’s crotch, a smile forming on his face. 

  

Levi blushed furiously at Eren’s movements, his insinuation, shoving down another groan and swatting at Eren’s hand. He quirked an eyebrow at him, opening his mouth and trying to find the words. There were none. “...shut up.” Dammit Eren. Levi pecked Eren again on the lips, a spark of amusement dancing in his eye. 

  

Eren smiled and let Levi peck him on the lips. He giggled and put his hands on Levi’s chest as he pulled himself up. “I think you would need to make me shut up… So when we go farther…. Do you know what you’re doing?” Eren asked as he slid his hands down Levi’s bare chest towards his hips, where Eren’s bubbly ass was currently resting. 

  

Levi swallowed. “Uh… y-yeah, I do.” He watched Eren’s hands move down his torso, propping himself up on his elbows. 

  

“You don’t sound too sure… I’m going to assume you’ve never been in a gay relationship, since you so proudly announced that you were gay today at the talent show…” Eren smiled more as he traced the pronounced v-line on Levi’s abdomen. “... so I’m going to   assume I’m going to need to teach you what to do.” Eren leaned down and kissed Levi’s chest. God, he’s so beautiful. Eren started to bite at the white skin under his tan hands. He was starting to leave marks of his own. 

  

Levi let his head fall back, groaning at the feeling of Eren’s mouth all over his chest. “W-well… I guess so…” Levi shuddered, his heels digging into the table, trying to keep still. Oh my god... 

  

Eren smiled. “Oh, so you’ll let me teach you then?” He asked quietly as the smile escaped from behind his plump lips. He leaned down again and marked Levi’s chest again on his right pec. 

  

The thought finally registered, a dominant look flashing in his eyes. “Actually…” He purred, one hand going to trail up Eren’s inner thigh. “...I think I know what to do…” 

  

“Fuck!” Eren let out a high-pitched wail as Levi touched his inner thigh. His jeans instantly got tighter. Shit… And I just came not too long ago too… Fuck… It feels too good. “Levi, are you sure?” He asked his voice filled with lust, trying to cover himself from Levi’s eyes, only to force his ass onto Levi’s crotch more, as his hands went to immediately cover himself and Eren’s whole face flushed completely. 

  

Levi’s features softened, his hand leaving Eren’s thigh to bring his face closer to his, kissing him softly, drawing out some of the heat. He pulled back for a moment, speaking quietly. “We don't have to now if you don't want to.” He rested his forehead against Eren’s, meeting his eyes. I can wait. 

  

“I don’t want to… but that’s fucking embarrassing” He whimpered to Levi as he buried his face into Levi’s neck. I can’t believe I got hard again… am I some kind of insatiable demon? “I’m sorry, I should probably go take care of this.” He murmured quietly and moved to pull away. 

  

Levi stilled his movements, holding onto him. He murmured into his ear. “Let me.” He carefully switched their places, Eren underneath him as he undid his jeans, pulling them and his boxers down once again, kissing Eren slowly. Let me take care of you. He slowly pumped his length, twisting his hand and running his thumb over the slit of the head. 

  

Eren became vocal all over again. His back arching off the table from the pleasure. “Fuck… Levi…” Eren squirmed a bit under his grasp. Fuck it feels good… Do it more. Eren could already feel the coil starting to tighten in his gut, but that was probably because he was still sensitive from the first orgasm he had only a little while ago. 

  

Levi tangled their tongues together, speeding up his strokes. He moaned into Eren’s mouth. You're so vocal… And I love it. 

  

Eren moaned into their kiss. His back arching even more as only a few moments went by before he felt the coil snapped yet again, releasing a wave of pleasure. Fuck… that was good. Eren was close to passing out from the pleasure he had just experienced. Levi, if I fall asleep, you better fucking carry me upstairs. Eren curled up into Levi’s arms before he passed out and became limp in his arms. 

  

Levi reached over to the box of wipes, cleaning them up and discarding the used wipe. He carefully maneuvered onto the floor, donning his shirt before picking Eren up bridal-style and walking him up the stairs, watching that his head didn't hit anything. He opened the door, keeping his hold on Eren solid, stepping up and immediately being met by Blake, who has been lying patiently under the scripting table. He stood and trotted over to him, sniffing at his leg. Levi kept walking over and up the stairs. He glanced over to Lathe’s door, seeing the man in question leaning against the frame with an odd smirk. He wagged his eyebrow at him, laughing at Levi’s flushed face before descending the steps. Levi went to tuck Eren in on his bed, climbing in next to him and pulling him close, pressing a kiss to his forehead. 

  

Blake jumped up and stared at Levi laying with him for a second before he went to curl up at the foot of the bed. Eren curled up to Levi to get a few hours of sleep, safely in Levi’s arms again. 

  

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

  

Levi woke up to a hand smacking clear across his face. FUCK. Still in a sleepy daze, he could not avoid a second smack, now fully alert. What the hell? Levi looked up, arm shielding his face, to see Lathe looming over them, his hand still raised. Levi sputtered. “What the fuck was that for?!” 

  

“That.” Lathe dropped his hand. “Is payback.” He grinned. “Dinner’s ready. Come downstairs while it’s still hot.” He sauntered out the door, back down the stairs. Still too fucking adorable. 

  

Levi looked to Eren, miraculously still asleep. He smiled a little at his peaceful face, and gently shook his shoulder. “Eren, there’s food downstairs. Come on, I'm hungry.” I require sustenance! Come on! 

  

Eren’s eyes cracked open. “I'm not hungry.” Eren whined and tried to roll over to go back to sleep. Blake as already up and sitting at the end of the bed, watching the two of them. I don’t want to throw up again… I really don’t want to, I don’t want to eat and have it happen again. Eren pouted as he snuggled under the covers. “You can go eat, I’m staying here.” 

  

“Oh no, none of that. Come on- you're going to eat something whether you like it or not. I promise we'll do everything we can to help you keep it down. Don't worry about that.” Levi moved so that he was half-standing on the floor, hooking his arms underneath Eren and lifting him from the bed. You're obviously not going to walk down there willingly, sooo... 

  

Eren didn’t complain much as he was lifted off the bed. I wonder if he’s noticed I like him to carry me yet? Eren whined a little and held onto the sheets but once he let go he was easy to handle. He watched as Blake followed them down the stairs. Though he sighed when they got to the kitchen. “Levi, I’m really not hungry…” He trailed off and put his head against Levi’s chest again. 

  

“You're skinnier than the last time I held you, and you were too skinny then! We're getting some food in you.” He carefully set Eren down, pulling out a chair for him at the table and sitting down across from him. 

  

“I don’t want to eat though…” Eren complained until he saw that Lathe had made the chicken soup that he so dearly loved. He swallowed hard knowing he wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation of chicken noodle soup. He took his nausea pill and waited for it to kick in. This is bad, I’m gonna eat too much, then really be throwing it up. 

  

Lathe was beginning to act much more like himself, getting out bowls and placing one full of soup in front of Eren. He rested his hand on his shoulder for a moment. “I think you'll find you'll feel much better eating.” He went to hand Levi his bowl, setting down with his own. The problem wasn't you in throwing it all up, per se… I think what caused all that is mended. 

  

Eren looked down at the soup in front of him for a long time. Fuck… Lathe always does things like this…. I wanna cry again… I’m so happy he thought about this. Eren slowly picked up a spoonful and lifted it to his mouth. He smiled softly as he savored the taste. Dammit, I’m starving… And so after a few minutes, Lathe was filling his bowl again, with a smile on his face. 

  

Good to know everything’s working out. Eren can eat, and this one got his shit together. Lathe beamed, handing Eren his bowl back. He pretended not to notice Eren and Levi playing footsie under the table. 

  

Eren ended up eating the whole bowl before he called it quits on the food. He didn’t want to over eat and throw up because of that. Eren gave up after Levi won a majority of the footsie challenges the two shared. He looked down at his empty bowl and smiled softly. Maybe it’s for the better… that I can eat again. Eren looked to Lathe, “I can shower with the wraps on my back right?” He asked quietly. He’d never tried to take another shower by himself again after that experience, he would always just fill a bucket with water and dump it over himself to wash. 

  

“You can. It would be best if you took them off to clean, but you’d have to stay out of the direct stream of water, and we don't know how well you’d do then. You'd need help with that.” Lathe tried not to look at Levi. Don't give them more ideas. ...I already did, though. Shit. 

  

“Levi, can you help me shower?” Eren asked innocently as he looked to Levi, across from him. 

  

Lathe just put his reddening face in his hand, focusing on his soup and trying to ignore their conversation. Eren, why would you ask that when I'm right here? 

  

Levi turned a vibrant shade of red, glancing over to Lathe and back to Eren. “Uh… Okay…” Why in front of Lathe? Levi stood quickly, sidestepping the table and tugging Eren along with him. Dammit. 

  

Eren followed along, though the sudden jostle didn’t bode well for his stomach. Eren gripped Levi’s wrist to make him stop moving, if only just for a second. Fuck I feel like i’m gonna throw up again. 

  

Levi immediately stopped moving, moving to hug Eren and still him, seeing his face twist with nausea. Fuck, I forgot. He held onto Eren, hoping it would pass. 

  

Eren stood stock still, the nausea swelling in his stomach. No… Stay down, food. Stay down… I want to shower with Levi… Stay down… Please . It took a few minutes but finally the nausea passed to where Eren could move around without worry. 

  

Thank fuck. “Sorry about that…” Levi started them moving to the shower upstairs slowly, letting Eren take as much time as he needed. Maybe he needs stronger nausea pills… Lathe must've picked up on that. He saw the whole damn thing. I'll mention it later. 

  

Eren took about 5 minutes to get up the stairs. He looked around for new clothes and found that Lathe had put a bunch of clothes in a basket, folded by his door. Lathe did laundry while we were asleep? Eren shrugged and grabbed underwear and sweatpants knowing he really shouldn’t grab a shirt until his arms, back and chest were wrapped. He took Levi to the bathroom, closing and locking the door. “I’ll have to show you Lathe’s study after this… I snuck in and kept the blinds open all day, so that we’ll be able to see the stars.” Eren smiled and struggled to get his shirt off for a few seconds before finally getting it off. 

  

...Does he want help with those bandages? I can see some of the hooks are on his back. Levi put them on even ground, taking his shirt off and placing it on the counter. “Do you want me to help you with your wraps? There are hooks on the back.” 

  

Eren looked to Levi for a moment, thinking about it. “Yeah, that would help, thanks.” Eren turned around and displayed his back for Levi. His hair has gotten much longer since they had first met, it needed to be cut again. 

  

“Your hair’s really long…” Levi noted absentmindedly, unpinning and sliding hooks out of place and carefully peeling them away from his healing back. He looks so much better than the last time I saw his back… That was when he first got the stitches, wasn't it? They should be taken out soon, it looks like. “Your back looks much better, Eren.” 

  

“Does it? It still feels like something's ripping through it every now and then.” Eren told him. “My chest is almost completely healed though, which is good, only scars left.” He smiled softly and turned so that Levi could see his chest scarring over in so many different places. You could still tell where he was missing a rib. 

  

Levi dropped the wraps out of the way, kicking off his shoes. He looked at Eren’s chest, tracing every scar with his eyes. He did so much… No. You shouldn't think about that now. Just focus on helping Eren get clean. He pulled Eren close to him, giving him a gentle peck on the lips before he nudged him, a soft smile on his lips. “Come on, let's get you clean.” He continued to undress, stepping out of his jeans and placing them on top of his shirt, ditching his socks and boxers. 

  

Eren ditched all his clothes and turned the shower on, but didn’t step in. He didn’t know if he should let Levi in first. His ass was currently facing Levi, but Eren didn’t seem to mind. He can control himself. 

  

“Should I go in first?” 

  

Eren looked to him and nodded quickly. 

  

Levi slowly moved past him and into the hot spray, adjusting quickly to the temperature. He held out one hand to Eren, smirking. “Come on in, the water’s fine.” I'll catch you if anything happens. Don't worry. 

  

Eren took his hand and looked at his glorious body. God, I knew he was hot, but this is ridiculous. Eren blushed as he stepped in and he felt the heat of the water starting to steam the room. “It's warm” he said and smiled. Some of the water was coming off of Levi’s shoulders and splashing only his chest gently. 

  

Levi reached to his right for a washcloth, holding it into the stream of water for a moment and rubbing soap onto it, turning Eren around and beginning to wash his back, taking extreme care not to harm him. He went over the healing wounds with a ghost of a touch, and he entirely avoided the long gash and the burned skin underneath it. “Tell me if I start doing something that hurts.” 

  

“Okay.” Eren was quiet until Levi pressed a little too hard and he hissed in pain. “That hurt.” He tried to calm down, moving away from the pressure. He looked back at Levi to see if he understood. 

  

“Sorry, I'll be more gentle.” Levi rested a hand on Eren’s arm, holding him still as he finished with his back, moving on to his sides, coming up to his shoulders, his arms. He turned Eren around to face him, starting on his chest. He swiped over his neck, smiling a bit at the marks there. 

  

Eren moaned when Levi brushed over his neck. He snapped his eyes open and looked at him with hooded eyes. “How many did you leave?” He asked and eyed Levi up and down. He had only left 5 large marks over Levi’s flawless chest. 

  

Levi counted. “...Seven.” He allowed his eyes to skim over Eren’s naked frame. Beautiful. His redirected his attention to his eyes after a moment, then again to Eren’s chest as he washed him. 

  

“So I get two more then? I get to mark you two more times?” He asked, almost eager to do it again to Levi, just to see his reaction. Eren looked down slightly to meet Levi’s eyes. He’s not that much shorter than me… Maybe a few inches. 

  

So that's the game we’re playing, is it? Levi moved the washcloth to the small shelf next to him. “If you want to be fair about it…” He smirked, eyes shaded, his head slightly tilted and neck further bared in invitation. 

  

Eren’s eyes lit up like a fucking Christmas tree. He smiled before coming closer to him, bending his head down to get at the perfect skin of the other’s neck. He kissed it gently at first before he bit the supple flesh under his teeth. He made one large possessive mark that had almost broken skin, but was strong enough to leave a huge bruise there. He gently moved to Levi’s other side and he bit down on the other side of his neck. Mine. He’s mine, bitches. No one else’s. Eren smiled and was pleased with his possessive work. 

  

Levi groaned as Eren marked his neck. “Damn, you don't have to bite that hard, Brat.” That actually kinda hurt. He went with it anyway, eager to let Eren mark him. And I should get to mark him again later, too… definitely. Mine. Levi took his face in both of his hands when he pulled away, kissing him fervently for a moment before pulling away, reaching for the washcloth and putting more soap on it. Shower. Clean. Right. He carefully worked down Eren’s torso, making sure not to miss any spots. 

  

Eren just giggled. “Yeah, but now if anyone sees you now, they know you’re taken.” Eren smiled and reached up to kiss him, reaching for the cloth. “Shall I wash you?” He asked seductively. 

  

Levi felt red streak across his face, swallowing. “...please.” He smirked, handing Eren the cloth. Damn, that voice. 

  

Eren looked at him and smirked. He slowly washed Levi’s solid form with the washcloth. “Levi, where are you dirty?” He asked again in that seductive voice, his hands already starting to wash around Levi’s neck. 

  

Fuck… um. Levi quirked an eyebrow. “Everywhere.” That's a valid answer. ...right? 

  

Eren smirked and leaned down to peck his cheek. “Even your nether regions?” He asked and his seductive voice could bring even the most honest-minded men to their knees. Oh the ways that I can get you to blush… Talking dirty is definitely one of my favorites. “I’m not sure, you’ll have to tell me.” Eren was currently washing his arms and smiling as he did so, touching an asscheek to Levi’s hips as he got close to him. 

  

God… Levi searched for his voice. “Uh.. S-sure.” He’s such a fucking tease, dammit. 

  

Eren smirked and washed everything on Levi’s front, taking special care around his crotch. Eren bent down to give Levi a show at his ass when he washed his legs. He felt around Levi’s strong legs. So much muscle… Fuck it’s so hot.. I wonder how he’s finding my ass… God I love teasing him. 

  

Levi couldn't help but stare. His ass is damn fine. Levi smirked, enjoying the show. 

  

Eren soon moved and turned Levi around, his hands going down his muscled back. Holy shit, it just gets better. 

  

Levi shifted his shoulders, the muscles rippling across his back with the movement. He sighed as Eren washed his back, leaning into the touch. This feels really nice, actually. 

  

Eren smiled and washed the rest of him before handing it back. “Can you wash it out? I can do your hair if you can do mine?” He asked quietly his arms wrapping around Levi’s broad shoulders. He smiled and kissed Levi’s left ear happily. 

  

“Of course.” Levi rinsed out the washcloth, putting it back on the small shelf and reaching for a black bottle of shampoo. He poured some into his palm, setting it back down and beginning to massage it into Eren’s hair. 

  

Eren let out a soft sigh of pleasure. “That feels good, Levi.” Eren’s voice was soft and his seductive tone forgotten for right now. 

  

Levi gave him a small smile, moving his fingers in small circles from the nape of his neck to the crown of his head, careful to brush any bubbles away from his eyes. 

  

Eren leaned into his soft touches, his back flush against Levi’s chest. He left out a bunch of soft whimpers when Levi found a sensitive spot. He was in complete bliss with Levi’s hands running through his hair. 

  

Levi was content to stay in the warm water, fingers threading through Eren’s brunette locks, his face peaceful. After a few minutes, however, he moved to carefully rinse Eren’s hair out, brushing away the bubbles before taking the white bottle of conditioner from the shelf and resuming his motions with that, before Eren could protest. When he was sure he had gotten it everywhere, he kissed Eren’s shoulder blade, speaking softly. “We’ll leave that for a moment, alright? 

  

“Leave it? Don’t we need to wash it out?” He asked quietly to the other. Don’t we need to get it out? 

  

“We do, but if you leave it to sit for a few minutes, it makes your hair even softer. We’ll rinse it out in a few minutes, then. I won't forget.” He pressed another butterfly kiss to his shoulder. Don’t worry about it. He handed Eren the black bottle. “Will you do mine?” 

  

Eren smiled and he nodded. “Okay.” Soon he had his hands lathered in the shampoo, working their way through the Levi’s inky locks. “Your hair's getting long… Your undercut isn’t shaved all the way anymore.” He was really gentle with Levi’s hair. 

  

Levi hummed, leaning into Eren’s touch. “That makes two of us. We’ll get Lathe to drag us out of the house and get haircuts.” Levi let his eyes close, enjoying the feeling of Eren’s fingers threading through his hair. 

  

Eren smiled and he rubbed it in a little more. “You can probably wash it out, then I can do your conditioner.” Eren told him and brought his hands back. He was starting to get cold from the lack of warmth. His fingers were pruning and his lips starting to turn a purplish color because he was getting so cold. 

  

Levi looked over his shoulder at him, his eyes flashing with worry, seeing his purple lips. He immediately set the bottle he was holding down. “Eren, you don't look very good. Are you alright?” 

  

“I’m cold,” he murmured and he curled up to Levi’s skin for warmth. He couldn't get directly into the water, so he was freezing the whole time. So fucking cold… Can he rinse my hair out now? 

  

Levi wrapped one arm around him, the other going to turn up the water as high as it would go, adjusting to the temperature and rinsing his hair quickly. I hope the steam warms him up. He reached for the washcloth again, soaking it and carefully running it over his shoulders, his arms, trying to warm him. He moved to rinse out Eren’s hair, carding his hands through his locks. “Any better?” 

  

Eren nodded a little bit. “I’m still really cold though.” Eren looked at him and his lips were almost a shade of blue. “Can I get out?” He asked and started to shiver. 

  

Oh my, Eren. “Of course.” Levi quickly shut off the water, opening the door and stepping over the small frame, snatching a clean white towel from the rack. He held it open for Eren, wrapping it around him and carefully drying him off. He pulled him into a hug. You’re freezing… He rubbed most of the water out of Eren’s hair, patting his back dry without incident. He grabbed a towel for himself, drying his hair and wrapping it around his waist. He led Eren by the arm back to his room so he could change, leaving him for a moment to retrieve and don his own clothes. 

  

Eren slipped on clean boxers and he got out a new pair of sweatpants. He was still shivering. “Levi, can you get Lathe? He needs to do my bandages.” Eren moved to grab a blanket to wrap around himself as he shivered. 

  

Levi, though his first thought was to wrap himself around Eren and keep him warm, was trumped by Eren’s need of wraps for his back. He nodded, descending the stairs fully dressed, finding Lathe in the scripting room, studying a huge shuffled mess of sheet music, all in pencil and in varying states of completion. Many were wrinkled or torn. He looked up as Levi entered. “Eren needs new wraps.” 

  

Lathe nodded, straightening himself and moving to the bag on the banister, removing three new rolls. He led Levi back up the stairs, finding Eren in his room, his brow instantly furrowing with concern, noting his purple lips. “You okay? Are you cold?” He immediately set to work, having Eren stand and turn so he could see his back. 

  

Eren nodded. “I’m really cold…” He told Lathe and shivered as he turned and showed him his back. His back looked better after the dried blood had been washed off. Hurry, I’m fucking freezing!! Lathe please hurry I wanna curl up to Levi. “Oh… C-can I s-show Levi the stars?” He shivered, his teeth chattering. 

  

Lathe wrapped him in record time. The stitches can come out in a couple of weeks. It won't take too long. Good. Lathe smiled. “Let me see your arms first.” He took his forearm, scrutinizing the thin scars that remained. “You don't really need the arm wraps anymore. Unless you want me to do them anyway, if you're afraid of scratching, still. Or if you just want to look tough. Both are valid reasons.” He grinned. 

  

Eren shook his head. “I don’t want them wrapped. I can take him then?” He asked, still shivering, but now swaddled in his large blanket. 

  

“Of course. Go right ahead.” 

  

Eren smiled at him and reached out to grab a bunch of pillows and blankets happily. “Levi, we’re going star gazing!” He called happily from the room, he went and made a nest of sorts in Lathe’s study, he brought a bunch of blankets and pillows into the room, almost intent on watching the stars until they fell asleep. He’s gonna love this! Eren smiled, it was getting dark outside so the paint would really glow tonight. 

  

Levi let out a breathy laugh, following Eren into Lathe’s study, looking curiously around the cluttered room, down to the nest Eren had constructed on the floor. He quirked an eyebrow, but nestled in nonetheless, looking up to the ceiling after a moment, his eyes going wide, his jaw slack. Oh my god. “Did.. Did you do that?” It looks so real... 

  

Eren smiled and got close to Levi and snuggled up to him, wrapping them in all the blankets. “Yeah, I did, and wait until the sun goes all the way down… It’ll look really cool!” He said excitedly and started to finally get warm next to Levi. 

  

Levi wrapped himself around Eren, tangling their legs together. “It already looks so real… you did an amazing job.” 

  

Eren smiled and when the sun went down completely, the painting lit up the whole room. “Do you like it?” He asked as he turned to see his opinion. I hope he does. 

  

Levi looked to the ceiling in awe, feeling like he was staring at the sky. “It’s absolutely wonderful. It’s realistic and bright. Amazing.” Levi kissed Eren’s temple. You have real talent. 

  

Eren giggled and snuggled into his chest. “I could stare at it forever…” Eren trailed off and smiled as Blake came in and laid down by them. “Thank you for today, too. I really mean it… Thank you for… For telling me…” Eren said, a red tint across his cheeks. 

  

Levi pulled Eren closer, burying his face into the crook of his neck. “I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. I was… I was scared that things would get worse and not better.” He pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. “I'm so glad I told you. I… I really do love you, Eren.” 

  

Eren smiled, propping himself up. He looked over to Levi, swallowing hard. “L-Levi?” He asked quietly. His stuttering giving away that he was nervous. Blake was instantly by his side and grabbing his hands to get him not to scratch at the scabs that were there, but almost gone. Fuck, he knows I’m nervous now... 

  

Levi’s eyes widened a bit, at Blake’s intervention, and at Eren’s nerves. “Yeah, Eren?” It’s okay, you don't have to be so scared to tell me anything. 

  

“Um… Well… I… I … I…” Eren freed his hands only to have them snatched again in Blake's jaws. The dog growled at him… Wanting him to calm down before he even tried to take his hand again. “B-Blake?” Eren’s attention immediately pulled to the growling dog. Blake’s never growled at me before? 

  

Levi carefully reached out, tentatively petting Blake behind the ears and talking to him softly. “Blake, it’s fine, don't worry about him, let me.” Levi talked Blake into letting him hold onto Eren’s hands, sitting upright. He twined their fingers together, trying to calm Eren, his voice smooth and low. “Now, what did you want to tell me?” 

  

“I… I… <I love you Levi>” Eren looked down at his hands in Levi’s. I couldn’t tell him… I couldn’t tell him in English… I couldn’t tell him…. Fuckfuckfuckfuck… Nononononononononononononononononononononononono…. 

  

<“I love you too, Eren.”> All those German classes, for the best reason there is. 

  

<“You… They taught you that in school?”> he asked quietly. His eyes wide, his face flushed completely. Stop panicking… Stop panicking… Stop panicking… You’re fine! You told him… And he fucking understood… You’re Fine Dammit! Eren let Blake grab his shirt and lay him down on the ground and whine constantly. Blake was so worried about him, and getting ready to ground Eren before he really freaked out. 

  

Levi moved down with Eren, thinking about his words and doing his best to translate, unused to speaking it. He leaned over Eren, his voice quiet. <“Yes, they did.”> He pressed his lips lightly against Eren’s. It’s alright. You said it, and I understood you, and you're alright. Everything is alright. 

  

Eren watched Blake get on his chest and start to lick at his face trying to calm him down. Eren’s heart was beating a mile a minute. He was trying to calm himself. Levi told me he loves me… And I told him back… Holy Shit… I didn’t want to tell it to him in German… And for fuck’s sake he fucking understood it. He probably thinks i’m a fucking coward for not being able to tell him in English. Fuck… Blake whined and kept his full weight on Eren to calm him down. 

  

Levi kissed him sweetly, his hand coming up to cup his cheek. He told me he loves me! He loves me! I wouldn't have cared if you’d written it down, signed it, or said it in a language I would never understand. I know you're panicking about that. I couldn't say it at all at first. You actually said it. That’s what matters. You're fine, Eren. It’s all fine. Levi shifted his grip on Eren’s hands, running his thumb over his knuckles. 

  

Eren looked to him and his eyes were starting to show fear. I can’t calm down.. I can’t calm down… Levi help me please! Eren’s fingers moved to grip Levi’s hand in a vice-like grip. He was afraid of panicking again, and he didn't want to. Blake was already grounding him and he wasn’t calming down. 

  

He’s going to panic…. You keep forgetting he isn't telepathic. Maybe if you told him all that… “Eren, I promise you're going to be okay. I know you're beating yourself up for switching to German, and you shouldn't. You could have said it in English or written it down on a piece of paper and handed it to me and it would have meant just as much. There’s no reason to be so scared, so frustrated with yourself. You said it, and that’s what’s important.” ...that works. Maybe. Levi gazed into Eren’s panicking eyes with his own calm ones. “Believe me.” 

  

< “You don’t think I’m coward?” > Eren asked quietly. He started to calm down little by little, Levi’s deep voice calming him down. 

  

Levi thought for a moment, the words registering. He likes to speak German. Do that, still. He pondered his response, finding the words. <“I do not think that. I was a coward… I did not think about how you felt, and refused to tell you at all for too long. I think you are brave. Braver than I was.”>

  

< “You really think so?” > his voice was showing how much he was calming down. Blake started to wag his tail knowing he was starting to calm down. 

  

A quiet voice spoke from the doorway. “Are you two doin’ okay? I heard Blake whining from downstairs.’ Lathe was mostly a dark silhouette, the lights behind him off. The stars above them showed his face, concern over the features not hidden by shaggy black hair. 

  

Eren looked up to Lathe and nodded. < “we’ll be okay… I’m calming down… Levi’s calming me down.”> Eren looked back to Levi and took a few deep breaths to calm himself down more. Blake's tail continued to wag. 

  

Lathe, though he did not know much German, understood by looking at the three of them that all was well, or soon to be. This is all too sweet. He smiled and nodded. “I'll leave you be, then.” He quietly slipped back downstairs, still keeping an ear out for them. 

  

Levi sighed in relief as Eren calmed fully, still running his thumb over his hands. He kissed his cheek, pulling Eren close. 

  

Eren smiled. <“Thank you.”> Eren called Blake off and leaned over to kiss Levi fully. I want you to fucking kiss me for that! 

  

Levi kissed back fervently, pulling Eren close, letting their tongues tangle together. I love you. He let his hands lazily wander his chest, his sides, finally settling on running through his hair. 

  

Eren let them kiss passionately, though soon asked for entry into Levi’s own mouth. I want to feel you too . He timidly licked at Levi’s lips. 

  

Levi’s tongue retreated, allowing him in. 

  

Eren slowly slid his tongue into the other’s mouth, his tongue going around to every point, mapping out the inside of Levi’s mouth gracefully. His hands roamed over Levi’s chest. 

  

Levi quietly moaned into Eren’s mouth, tilting his head further to deepen their kiss, one hand going to rest on his waist. You taste wonderful... 

  

Eren moaned back as well. His tongue slowly sliding over all of Levi’s teeth, counting each one as he did so. Always so clean and fresh… Levi, you feel so damn good. Eren didn’t mind Levi’s hands on his waist, he moved his leg bit, so that his body could move closer to Levi, his chest coming up to press against Levi’s. This feels so right, Levi… Eren pulled back for a few seconds to breathe, giggling when he gazed into Levi’s eyes with his own happy ones.

  

Damn, he’s gorgeous. Levi gave him a small smile, joy flitting past in his eyes. This feels… Right. Levi leaned their foreheads together, the both of them falling back on the pillows, Levi tucking Eren’s head under his chin. He looked up to the ceiling. 

  

Eren smiled and he curled up to his chest. He laid flush on Levi’s chest, their legs tangling together. “Levi… If I go to sleep…” Eren yawned, it had been a long day and he was falling asleep already. 

  

Levi ran his hand through Eren’s hair, his own eyes becoming heavy with sleep. “Yeah?” 

  

Eren nuzzled his head into the crook of Levi’s neck, under his chin. <“Stay with me.”> Eren’s voice was soft barely audible as he drifted off to sleep. Blake went off and padded downstairs probably to be let outside. Eren’s breathing had evened out as well, with Levi’s hand running through his hair. 

  

Levi instantly recognized the words, smiling. <“Of course.”> Levi let his eyes shut, and he too surrendered to the calm of sleep under the stars. 

 

Chapter Text

Lathe was back with them by Christmas. He went shopping, restocked the fridge, doted on Eren and Levi, poked fun at their couple-y antics, tried to deal with his nerves from pondering Christmas and everything that had happened by painting scene after scene of metal and gears, but the only thing that brought him back was sorting through the sheet music on the table, fixing and finishing it all, transferring it all in clean dark ink to fresh sheets, playing them on the piano until his fingers hurt, singing their odd lyrics that weren't always English and putting it all away on a shelf under the binder label ‘Tilt.’ He got back into the swing of cooking, that mischievous glint returning to his moonsong eyes, his voice going from quiet whispers to it’s loud tenor. Another golden line of script crawled over the wall behind the piano. He remembered to sleep and eat. He beamed. He was himself. 

  

Eren had progressed nicely over the past week and a half. He slept snuggled up to Levi every night, actually slept. He no longer woke up to nightmares and could actually sleep longer than four hours every night, catching up on some much needed rest. Eren’s eating habits had started to return to normal once again. He was no longer throwing up everything he ate, and was actually keeping it all down. He had gained a few pounds since Lathe started cooking again for them all. He was back to three meals a day, and the meals were small, but hey… it’s progress. Eren had found that his nausea pills did little to help him open up his stomach, so Lathe gave him stronger ones, which did the trick beautifully. He was able to eat larger portions of the delicious food Lathe made again. Lathe had also allowed Eren and Levi to go out and get a Christmas tree along with ornaments and some other random decorations for around the house, but due to his past experiences with Christmas, Eren insisted upon getting almost every decoration available and decorating THE WHOLE HOUSE… Even going as far as painting some Christmas scenes and hanging them around the house. He was overly bubbly when it started to snow outside 3 days before christmas, leaving a white sheet out on the grass in front of the house. Eren had stayed out for way too long since he was so excited to see snow on the ground again. That had ended with Eren needing to drink many mugs of tea, sitting in front of the fireplace wrapped in blankets and surrounded by Levi’s arms. Though Eren didn’t really mind; He got to kiss Levi as much as he wanted as they laughed in front of the fireplace. Eren didn’t leave the house when Levi left to go back to his apartment every few days, he trusted that he would come back as soon as possible. Eren wondered why he didn’t just stay here with them, but was given the spiel about how his Uncle paid for the apartment and wouldn’t reply to any of the mail Levi had sent him about renting with his own money, so Eren just let him go. He had finally gotten Levi to let him draw his whole body, almost completely naked, but he allowed him to wear his boxers for that picture, which was immediately hung in his room. Eren was much happier after that week and a half, and he was eagerly waiting to open the presents that started to accumulate under their tree. 

  

It was relatively quiet for those one and a half weeks. Most of the time I would be curled up with Eren, keeping him warm, or supervising his decorating the house, or acting as his model when he wanted to draw. I have no real room to complain- I get to hold Eren, have as many hugs and kisses as I want. Lathe’s been stress-cooking to ease his nerves, apparently. At least, that's what I think it is. But can cook really well, so… nothing to complain about. It was odd, seeing him so quiet. I'm just glad that joyful look in his eye is back. And Eren’s filling out nicely- he can keep food down. I have to check on the apartment from time to time of course- make sure nobody’s broken in, and at this point quite a bit of the food in the fridge is either gone bad or becoming suspicious- though it’s easy to forget I have to. I practically live here at this point. It’s wonderful to not have to sleep alone. Lathe… he takes good care of us both. Christmas is coming so soon… so is… I don't want to make a big deal out of it. It’s a day for everyone, not just me. I've been studying German a lot more lately, because Eren seems to switch to it often, and likes to use it. I'm not too sure what to get him for Christmas. I have ideas, but… I dunno. I've never been a good gift-giver. I need to fix that. Blake’s really been enjoying the snow! He’s been running circles in the backyard, confused and excited but mostly excited. He likes sitting in front of the fireplace especially. It’s nice… not having to spend the holidays alone. 

  

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

  

Eren cracked his eyes open earlier than he had planned. It’s fucking 6:30… The fuck… I won't be able to fall back asleep… But I don’t want to wake Levi up. Eren looked up a bit, shifting his head to confirm that Levi was, in fact, still asleep. He looked at his peaceful face as he slept. I really really really want to go downstairs and open presents… But he’s so fucking gorgeous sleeping, and I don’t want him to be grouchy if I wake him up to early… Eren decided just to lay there for the next hour and a half until he couldn’t take it anymore. He got up slowly, moving to straddle Levi’s waist before bending down to bite at the fading bites he had left on Levi’s neck a week and a half ago. Wake up… I wanna open presents, and I want you to open the present I painted for you… Come on… Please wake up. Eren bit down a bit harder on the sensitive skin to get him to wake up. 

  

Levi groaned, cracking his eyes open at the unexpected biting. “Ngh... Eren… What are you…?” Levi rubbed the heel of one hand against his eye, his other gently pushing up on Eren’s shoulder. As much as I enjoy it… “Come on Eren, I'm up.” 

  

“No… You made me wait….” Eren leaned down and bit at his neck again, leaving a fresh mark. His eyes were full of mischief. “You made me wait so you get bit.” He said and leaned down and bit his neck again. You are really gonna have to push me off to get me to stop… Eren rested his hands on Levi’s bare chest and smiled. He was happy that Levi never slept with a shirt on. 

  

“E-Eren… Come o-on…” Levi gasped. I just woke up and part of me doesn't want you to stop but it’s Christmas and I want to go downstairs…presents. “...Eren… Downstairs… Presents.” 

  

Eren’s head instantly shot up. “PRESENTS!!!” Eren was off of Levi in a second and racing downstairs without Levi, Blake following quickly at his heels. You could hear the squeals of joy coming from downstairs everywhere in the house. If Lathe was still asleep, he was certainly up now. There’s so many presents!! Yay!!! 

  

“Hey Brat, wait for me!” Levi reached over and tossed on a shirt before running down the stairs after him. “Don't start opening presents without us!” Don't do it, Eren! Control yourself! 

  

Lathe lifted his head as feet thundered down the stairs. What the hell… His eyes widened, beaming as he got up to follow them. It's Christmas! 

  

Eren was already by the presents. He was putting them into four separate piles one for each of them and a pile for Blake as well. So many presents… So many!!! 

  

Levi quirked an eyebrow at the pile being made for him. Is all that… “Is that all mine?” It can't all be for me… Is it? He knelt down, looking at the tags. They all have my name on them… “That’s all mine.” He looked over to Blake’s pile, grinning. Even Blake gets lots of presents. 

  

“Yup, those are all yours! And look- Lathe’s got just as much as us!” Eren beamed, his voice was so loud as he finished sorting out the presents. 

  

“I do?” Lathe’s eyes widened in surprise as he descended the last few steps. “...I-I do.” I didn't think I was going to get so many… that's so much… He crossed over to them, petting Blake and ruffling Eren and Levi’s hair on his way to sit next to his pile at the Christmas tree. He beamed at them. “Now, although I think we all know the answer…” He eyed a very excited Eren with amusement. “...who wants to go first?” 

  

Eren opened his mouth before he closed it for a second. His excitement seemed to die down a bit. “C-can I?” He asked quietly, still pretty unused to having presents to even open. Can I? Is that a thing? I am the youngest here… When mom was around I used to always open presents first. But she’s not here. 

  

“Youngest first? Wait…” Lathe counted in his head. He looked over to Blake with a grin. “Blake in human years is actually the youngest, but if you go by dog years, he’s 35. He’s technically the oldest one here.” His gaze returned to Eren. “But yeah. You can go first.” 

  

Eren’s smile brightened and he started to go through his presents. He mostly got some more hoodies from Blake, in literally every color he could ever ask for. Yes! I have more hoodies!!! Yes!!! Eren still had quite a few more presents from Levi and even one from Lathe. Eren opened one of his small boxes from Lathe and he looked at the small dark green calligraphy pen. What is this? Eren looked up to Lathe with confusion at first as he lifted the pen carefully from the case it was in. He looked at the top of the case, now looking for clues as to what this was, seeing countless small bottles of all the colors of the rainbow and everything in-between… is this a pen? A fountain pen? “Is this a pen?” He asked Lathe quietly and looked at it with curiosity and happiness. 

  

“It is indeed a pen. A dip pen, specifically for calligraphy- Fancy writing. There’s a row of other tips for it in that box, so you can make lines of all widths. Or they all just look really cool. Both. The book in there shows you how to do fanciful lettering, including cursive, which you should know how to do anyway.” You'd better let me borrow that on occasion. 

  

“Cursive? What’s that?” He asked quietly as he looked down at the case and saw the different tips Lathe had mentioned. There’s so many... 

  

“Cursive is that writing old people do where you write all the letters of words together with one line. It’s faster and generally nicer-looking than printing once you get the hang of it.” 

  

“Oh cool, can you teach me? I don’t learn that well from books… More from experience.” Eren carefully put the pen back before closing the case and looking up to see his answer. 

  

“Of course I'll teach you! As long as you're willing to occasionally share.” Lathe grinned. I shall teach you the ways of script. 

  

Eren smiled. “Okay, that's fine with me.” Eren’s smile got wider as he started to open his present from Levi. He opened a small box and his eyes widened at what was before him. “Are you serious??” Eren looked up to Levi, almost expecting him to say that they were fake. They had two tickets to go see Nate Ruess at a venue downtown. Is he serious?? Nate Ruess?? Like the real thing? Really I get to go see him in concert??? OH my fucking God YESSS!!!! 

  

“I'm very serious. Those are two tickets to see Nate Ruess perform live at the Town Ballroom.” Levi smirked. “Is that alright?” 

  

Eren instantly tackled Levi in a huge hug. He was squealing the whole time. “Oh my god! I am so excited!!!!” Eren was so happy. I get to go see a concert with him!! 

  

Levi caught Eren, trying not to let them topple over, laughing. “I'm glad you like it!” Yes! That is going to be an amazing concert, I know it! 

  

“Wait will I be able to bring Blake?” He asked and almost instantly started to worry. 

  

Levi thought for a moment, unsure. He looked to Lathe over his shoulder. 

  

Lathe also looked uncertain. “It's going to be really loud, very crowded, you're going to feel the beats of the songs in your chest, there's probably going to be smoke or something… I would honestly say it’s not the best place for Blake. I'll email Moblit a little later, get his opinion, but I think you'll have to leave him home.” 

  

Eren swallowed hard.   I need to leave Blake here? What if I panic? What happens then? Eren's face gave away his fears and worries. 

  

Levi held onto Eren a bit tighter, kissing his temple. “I'll be there with you. I'll make sure we don't get separated, and if you do start to panic or feel too uncomfortable, we can bail whenever you need to. I'll make sure you're fine. Sound okay?” I won't let anything bad happen. 

  

“Okay.” He said quietly he rested his head into Levi’s chest. “It’s your turn now…” He crawled out of his lap but stayed right next to him, holding onto his shirt with one hand and petting Blake with the other. 

  

“Alright.” Levi reached forward, taking up a large, flat, thin package. He carefully tore the paper off. 

  

Eren smiled when Levi was greeted with a painting of the picture of Eren clinging onto Levi when he had pastels all over his hands. Levi looked completely surprised and Eren had a toothy grin plastered on his face. I hope he likes it, it took me five tries to get everything right. 

  

“Eren… It’s amazing! You painted it so well!” Levi smirked at the memory, looking to Eren with happy eyes. “Thank you so much.” He leaned over and pecked his cheek. I love it! 

  

Eren smiled and blushed. “I’m glad you like it.” He was blushing a lot. I really hoped you would like it. And I’m glad you did, you seemed so opposed to the picture... 

  

Levi carefully set it down, looking at the two boxes addressed to him in Lathe’s script. Why is one wrapped in birthday wrapping paper? He couldn’t have found out… He reached for it, only for Lathe to stop him. 

  

“Open the other one first.” You can see what’s in that one after. He grinned impishly. 

  

Well that’s suspicious. Levi took the other small box in hand, carefully tearing open the bronze paper and opening the lid, seeing a row of small brown bottles. What are they? They smell weird. “Lathe, what are these?” Levi sent him a confused look. 

  

“Those are bottles of henna. The good kind, too, and plenty of them.” He grinned. “What you do, is you take one of them, and you draw on your skin with the paste, and you leave it to dry and crack off. It dyes your skin, and the tattoo lasts for up to two weeks if you take good care of it.” 

  

“So I can give Levi tattoos??” Eren asked and looked over the bottles. “Really? I can give his whole chest and back tattoos?” He asked and his eyes gleamed with mischief. 

  

I knew that was the perfect idea. Lathe grinned, recognizing that spark in Eren’s eye. I'm rubbing off on you. I'm not sure how good of a thing that is. He replied before Levi could. “Yup. And you can do it as many times as you like.” 

  

Eren’s eyes glinted more. “I’ll do your back today… And I’ll do your arms before the concert.” Eren’s smile widened from ear to ear. Oh you are so getting tatted 

  

There is no way out of this. You’re Eren’s new canvas. Accept it. “I better look so badass, you can’t even imagine.” He smirked, setting the lid back on the box and putting it aside. “Now…” He reached for the birthday-paper-wrapped box, looking at Lathe suspiciously. He tore at the paper, opening the lid of the box, which had a note taped to it. ‘Levi- you are now 18. I’m not telling you how I know that. But happy birthday all the same! Take good care of Eren~’ What? Levi moved aside the tissue paper hiding the contents of the box, blushing furiously at it’s contents, putting the lid back on the box and glaring daggers at Lathe, who was trying very hard not to laugh. ...Really? Condoms and lube? REALLY? What kind of adult are you?!? Lathe…” 

  

Lathe gave up and laughed, quickly taking a picture of his furious and embarrassed expression. That is the greatest reaction ever! “There a- problem, Levi? You look kinda mad.” Lathe grinned like a madman. 

  

“What’s in the box, Levi?” Eren asked and moved to reach for the box and open it, getting his hand on the lid. What’s in here that Lathe gave Levi to make Levi give him a death glare? 

  

Levi smacked Eren’s hand away lightly, holding the box out of his reach. He fixed Lathe with a death stare as he spoke, deadpan. “You don’t want to know.” 

  

“Why can’t I look, Levi?” Eren whined and reached for the box again. “It can’t be that bad if Lathe’s laughing.” Eren got his hand on the lid again. 

  

NOPENOPENOPE “Eren, if Lathe is laughing, it’s possibly something awful that he orchestrated. And this is one of those times.” Levi scooted away from Eren, trying to keep it out of his reach. “Lathe, you are horrible.” 

  

“But why?? I’m so confused!” Eren threw his hands up in exasperation. What the fuck did Lathe even get him?? 

  

When in doubt, encourage the mayhem! “I dunno Levi, if he really wants to know what I got you, why don’t you show him? He has a right to know.” It does involve him. 

  

“Stop encouraging this!” WHY? Levi facepalmed. I’m so done with you. 

  

Eren took this moment to grab the box and pull it into his lap. He slowly opened the lid, his face paled when he saw what was inside. Oh my god Lathe… That is fucking terrible… We’re not even having sex! Did you need to go ahead and do that?? Eren put his head down, his long locks hiding his eyes as he gave Levi the box back. Does he think we already did it? Does he really think I’m that loose?? Eren shifted to move away from Levi now… Completely embarrassed now.   How can he do that? 

  

Lathe sobered from his mirth when he saw Eren’s reaction. His expression shifted. “I’m sorry Eren. It was just supposed to embarrass Levi. I didn’t mean to upset you.” Dammit, Lathe. Learn to tone it down. 

  

Eren swallowed and looked down at his wrists. He was trying desperately not to scratch. Blake picked up on it and took his hands into his mouth. He whined a little but waited for Eren to calm down. Lathe… I do not forgive you… Not yet… You’ll need to earn it… “Don’t do it again.” Eren failed to keep his voice steady as it began to quiver a bit. You better not fucking do it again, Lathe. 

  

Goddammit. “I won’t. Swear it.” Lathe had a sheepish look on his face. 

  

Levi handed him a small wrapped box. “Come on. The sooner we eat, I think we’ll all feel better.” You better like that. 

  

Lathe took the small box from him, opening it and lifting out a small bronze gyroscope compass on a stand. He tilted it, watching it swivel. “...How…” 

  

“All you’ve been doing for the past week and a half is paint scene after scene of metal and gears. I thought you’d like it.” 

  

Lathe beamed. That’s really cool. “I do. It’s wonderful. I know exactly where it’s going on my desk.” 

  

Eren moved and gave Lathe another small box. “Here, this is for you too.” Eren said and smiled softly, though he still couldn’t look Lathe directly in the eye. 

  

Lathe took the box from him gingerly, taking off the lid, carefully removing a shining bronze watch, the numbering around the face in Roman Numerals. Oh my god. “Eren, this is beautiful!” He turned it, the metal glinting in the light. “I love it! Thank you so much!” 

  

Eren smiled softly and looked down at Blake, petting him to calm himself down. He looked back at Blake… “So who got him all the oddly shaped presents?” Eren asked. He had gotten Blake a huge rawhide bone, with a bow on it, but there were many more wrapped things.. They look like bones… Hmm, I wonder how many he’s gonna get... 

  

Lathe rubbed the back of his neck. “I got him a couple… but not as many as there are there.” 

  

“I got him… I dunno… five? Ish?” Levi was kind of impressed with Blake’s pile. He got so much stuff. I’m kind of jealous. 

  

“Alright well, we’ll give him this one first.” Eren picked up the largest one, which he had gotten him. He took the bow and ribbon off of it before he gave it to Blake who got up and struggled to put his jaws around the whole thing. It was huge. Heh. It barely fits, that’s actually kinda funny. 

  

Levi smirked, watching Blake attempting to bite around the bone. 

  

Lathe chuckled, taking a picture of Blake struggling with the huge bone. That’s really funny! He eyed the pile. I think we all know who really won this Christmas. ...Lucky. Lathe shifted to his feet, leaving his presents under the tree for the moment. “I’m going to go make breakfast, alright?” He ambled to the kitchen, getting out ingredients for quiche, deciding after a moment to make cinnamon rolls as well. When in doubt, win them back with food. 

  

Levi tugged Eren into his lap, wrapping his arms around him and studying the Christmas tree with bright eyes, resting his chin on his shoulder. “You really went all-out. You did a great job on the tree especially.” 

  

Eren smiled softly and snuggled into Levi’s chest. “Yeah, I guess I did.” Eren smiled and he reached for the box with the tickets in them. “So the concert… it’s on New Years?” He asked quietly and looked up to him. “January 1st?” He asked making sure he was reading the date on the ticket right. 

  

“That’s right. I thought it would be neat to spend New Years out and about. We can make a day of it if you want.” It’d be fun! 

  

“But we wouldn’t be able to take Blake with us.” He was curled into a small ball on his lap and looked up to his silvery eyes. What am I gonna do without Blake there with us? 

  

“I’ll be there the whole time. I don’t think that because Blake isn’t there, we can’t go and have a good time. I won’t let anything happen to you. But if you don’t want to, say the word, or we can figure something else out. Maybe take Blake around until the concert and have Lathe come get him or something.” Whatever we decide, it’ll work out fine. 

  

Eren nodded and curled up into his chest. “You’re getting a tiger on your back by the way.” Eren told him finally deciding what he was going to do first. 

  

“Am I now?” Levi smirked playfully, kissing Eren’s temple. That’d be really cool. “You’re practically going to cover me in tattooes, aren’t you?” 

  

“Is that even a question?” Eren snickered and reached up to kiss Levi’s neck, where he had bitten him this morning. 

  

“You’re right. Why did I even ask?” Levi gave a small smile, holding onto Eren tighter as he kissed his neck. 

  

“Hmm. You’re not getting anything after the stunt Lathe pulled…” He trialed off as he moved to bite at Levi’s neck again since Lathe couldn’t see them. “If he honestly thinks I’m that loose he is sorely mistaken.” Eren’s words were laced in venom as he muttered them; he bit Levi’s neck a little harder as he did so. 

  

Levi stifled a groan, pulling his head back to bare more of his neck. He struggled to speak normally. “I do admit, that was… crossing the line, a bit.” Dammit, Lathe. 

  

“So you need to be a good boy before your lips are allowed to touch mine.” Eren growled a bit as he moved to bite down on Levi’s collarbone. 

  

Waitwaitwait “Am I… n-not allowed to… to kiss you?” Levi sounded surprised. Is that what he said? No no no no no not happening 

  

“Nope. You’re not allowed to, you can thank Lathe for that.” Hmmm, I wonder how long he’ll be able to take it? He’s been kissing me non-stop basically for the past week and a half. 

  

...God fucking dammit, Lathe. If I wasn’t occupied right now you’d be dead meat. “Y-you can’t… be serious…” Levi gasped, trying to control himself as Eren trailed little bites over his neck, his shoulders. 

  

“Oh, I’m completely serious.” Eren’s tone told Levi that there was basically no room for discussion. “Nope, I’m not even gonna give you your birthday present anymore. I had it planned, too. Shame.” Eren bit hard enough to leave a good bruise forming on the top of Levi’s shoulder. 

  

How did you know it was my… what? “W-what… did you h-have in… in mind?” 

  

“Hmmm… let’s see, I made sure to pull the air mattress down to the workshop yesterday too… guess we don’t need it there anymore.” Eren bit down again, leaving another good mark. Hmm, I wonder what he thinks I had planned. I did take the air mattress downstairs for a reason, but I wonder if he knows that reason…. Or is his mind in the gutter? Well we’ll just have to see. 

  

He doesn’t mean… does he? Or does he mean for art or something… I can’t just fucking sit here much longer. “E-Eren… p-please… let me…” Levi could barely talk coherently. 

  

“Let you what?” Eren asked, pulling back from Levi’s shoulder and looked to him with a quirked eyebrow. His eyes basically telling Levi he had no room to argue in this so what the fuck do you want now? So his mind is in the gutter now? 

  

Levi was breathing more heavily than normal. “Let me kiss you please.” I don’t want to be punished for Lathe’s dumbass antics. Please. “You shouldn’t do this to me because of what Lathe did.” 

  

“Nope, you don’t get to kiss me. I’m going to go put my stuff up in my room.” Eren crawled out of Levi’s arms and then went to go take all his hoodies and such upstairs into his room, leaving Levi alone downstairs. I wonder if he’ll be bickering with Lathe when I get back? 

  

Levi sat there for a moment, stunned. ... what. Furious, Levi got to his feet and stormed to the kitchen, trying to keep himself from shouting. “Lathe.” 

  

Lathe jumped, dropping the knife on the counter and spinning around, his arms raised in defense. “Don’t come closer- I know Judo. And I didn’t think it would get that sort of reaction out of Eren! He wasn’t even supposed to see what I had gotten you!” Lathe looked worried that Levi would explode at him. 

  

“Well he was obviously going to want to know what you had given me! What else was I supposed to do? He would’ve been mad if I didn’t let him see.” 

  

“You could’ve… I dunno, lied? Okay, not one of my better ideas.” 

  

“Really? You really think so? It’s occurred to you that maybe it wasn’t the best gift to give after it makes Eren refuse to let me even kiss him?” 

  

“What now?” Lathe dropped his arms, apologetic. “I’m really sorry, Levi. I’ll try and make it up to you. I’ve already got cinnamon rolls in the oven; I’m going to try and win him back over with food.” 

  

“Apology only kind-of accepted. And how the fuck did you know it was my birthday, anyway? How did Eren know, too?” 

  

“Armin knows literally everything about everyone. I just kinda asked him at one point if he knew when your birthdays were. I need to know these things.” 

  

“How did Armin know that?” ...wait. “Fucking Erwin told him.” 

  

“Huh. He’s on the football team, right?” 

  

“Yeah. And don’t try changing the subject! ...Actually, when’s Eren’s?” 

  

“March 30th. Three months. His is real close to mine.” 

  

“Really?” 

  

“The Ides of March. I can never get tired of saying it.” 

  

“...we literally just read the fucking play and I can’t even remember what the hell that means.” 

  

“The middle of March, Levi. The fifteenth.” 

  

“Oh, right… how the hell did we start talking about that? I’m supposed to be mad at you! If Eren doesn’t cut out the ‘no kissing’ thing quick, you’re dead meat.” 

  

“I’m sorry!! I don’t know what to tell you… besides not listen to him and just do it anyway. He’d probably give up trying to stop you after ten seconds.” 

  

“He’ll be castrated if he even attempts it.” Eren’s voice sounded as he came into the room to get a mug out and pour water in the kettle. “Wouldn’t want that to happen, now would we?” Eren’s tone still deathly serious. 

  

Lathe spoke up first. “Eren, I admit, what I did wasn’t exactly a great idea. But do you really have to take it out on Levi? Just ban me from the basement! Steal my laptop! I’ll deal with it.” 

  

“You’re already banned from the basement for the next week. Have you forgotten that already?” Eren asked. He did ask Lathe if he could have the basement a week and a half ago and Lathe of course had said yes. So he doesn’t remember doing that at all? 

  

“I meant extend that. Like, a month. I don’t know! But I didn’t forget about it. I know I already have to keep away. You can still steal my laptop if you want!” This is reaching dangerous levels of ‘not cool.’ 

  

“Hmm, maybe I’ll consider it, but Levi’s still banned from kissing me, he’s also not getting his present either, and you are banned from the basement for the next two week.” Eren said and waited until the kettle was singing to fill his mug and start to steep his tea. 

  

I feel like a fucking hostage negotiator. Shit. “Eren, I’ll give you the password for my laptop, and Steam remembers all my credit card information. I’ll stay out of the basement for as long as you want me to, but I think you should at least let Levi have his present.” Lathe gave his words a moment to sink in. “It also has Netflix on it.” Since when did Eren get put in charge? 

  

“Hmmm…. Netflix… I’ll consider it, but everything stays the same for right now.” Eren said sitting down in his seat as he sipped at his strong tea. “That’s literally the only thing in that offer that entices me, Lathe. You should know I don’t play video games.” He murmured and sipped at his tea more. “Levi, there’s more water in there if you want a cup too.” Eren told him, knowing he would probably want some tea. 

  

“It has more songs on it than 200 CDs could store.” Lathe turned back to chopping vegetables. “Pandora and Bandcamp, Synthesia… you can have the drawing tablet too, if you want to use Photoshop… just sayin’.” 

  

Eren looked curiously at Lathe. “Hmm, this revelation entices me… Okay. Levi can have his birthday present if you are both good for the rest of the day. No fighting, either of you. Lathe you are banned from the basement and Levi you’re still banned from kissing me.” Eren told them and looked to Lathe. “I’m taking the computer downstairs then…” Eren’s voice was again firm, there was no more negotiating going to happen at all. 

  

I’m going to do absolutely nothing to upset this careful balance. Good thing I have all those magazines stockpiled. “Go right ahead. The drawing tablet should be with it. I’ll write all the passwords down in a moment, after I get breakfast in the oven.” I get the notion I’m a prisoner in my own house. 

  

But I still can’t kiss you… I’ll deal for now. This is an… odd situation we’re all in. I won’t mess with it.   Levi nodded, going to make himself tea. He glanced at Lathe, who just shrugged. 

  

Eren smiled when he smelled the cinnamon. “hmmmm…..Cinnamon Rolls.” He sighed in pleasure as he put his head down on the table. Ten points for Lathe towards forgiveness. Blake came up behind Levi and pawed at the back of his legs. He whined, wanting to go outside, chase the snow around. 

  

Levi moved over to the sliding glass door, opening it and letting Blake rush past him outside. He closed the door and picked his mug of tea back up, sitting at the table as Lathe opened the oven and removed the cinnamon rolls, drizzling them in icing and putting one in front of them. 

  

“One to start. There’s always more.” He grinned, returning to fuss over the quiche. He put it in the oven, setting a timer and turning to them. “I'm going to run upstairs and gather up all the cords on the desk, write down passwords and such. You're going to need a couple notes on the operating system; it’s nothing like Windows or whatever you're used to. Don't let the house burn down while I'm gone.” He smiled and left, going to do just that. 

  

Eren nodded and he reached for his first large cinnamon roll. He loved the ones Lathe made. He took his first bite, his eyes rolling back from the explosion of flavor in his mouth. Lathe, I expect you to make them more often now. 

  

Levi watched Lathe leave, turning to his cinnamon roll. He took a bite of it. It tastes even better than it smells! Where the hell did he get these?! Levi finished his quickly, bringing his plate over to the tray to get another. He turned to Eren. “Do you want another one?” Play nice. 

  

Eren had set his cinnamon roll down on his plate half uneaten… Fuck, I forgot my pill, I’m gonna fucking throw up… don’t move, don’t fucking move. Eren’s other hand was resting on his stomach and his face was pale. SHIT… Levi get me my fucking pill… I want to eat the deliciousness and not have to see it in a few seconds. Read the fucking situation Levi. 

  

He’s about to freak out. Why. ...food. Nausea pill. Where. Levi set his plate down, reaching for the bottle they kept on the counter. He opened it and handed Eren one of the pills. “There, that should help.” 

  

Eren nodded slowly, taking it, sipping from his tea. “Thanks.” He was able to say a few words after a few moments. It took quite a few minutes to kick in before he picked his cinnamon roll up again. “Thank you, really.” He said quietly. I can fucking eat again. 

  

“Of course. It'd be cruel not to let you enjoy cinnamon rolls.” Levi smiled, taking his place back at the table, sipping his tea. They really are good. I'm just glad you're not going to be sick. 

  

Eren nodded and he ate the rest before getting up to grab another big one. 

  

Lathe padded back into the kitchen, looking over to Blake outside running in circles and chuckling. He checked the quiche, deciding it was ready and bringing it onto the stovetop. He cut a piece for each of them, setting one and a fork at their places before sitting down himself with more coffee. 

  

Eren looked at the quiche with curiosity. “Lathe… it looks great… what the hell is it?” He asked and looked over to the man sitting to his right. 

  

“It’s called a quiche, a fancy word for breakfast-food pie. There’s a bunch of cheese in it, and ham, and onion, and fabulousness. I think you'll like it.” He took a bite, the cheese still hot and melting. 

  

Eren looked at it for a second before his fork stabbed into it. He lifted it to his mouth, eating the single piece before proceeding to scarf down the rest of this glorious breakfast pie. Eren then turned to his roll to eat that as well. 

  

It’s good I haven't made anything they don't like yet. They love whatever I give them! Lathe smiled and kept eating, turning to check if Blake wanted to come back in. He let him in again, white from the snow coming down heavily outside. It’s a good thing I put this towel here for this exact reason. He quickly rubbed Blake dry, hanging the towel on the handle of the oven for the moment. He filled Blake’s metal bowls, reclaiming his place at the table. 

  

Eren heard Blake’s tags clink against the metal bowl, smiling as he took his last bite of cinnamon roll. He took his plate to the sink and started to do the dishes again out of habit. Hmm… should I give Levi his present before or after I do his back? “Levi?” Eren asked quietly for his attention, without turning his head, mostly focused on the dishes he was doing and loading in the dishwasher. 

  

“Yeah?” Levi looked up from his quiche, turning in his chair. “What’s up?” 

  

“Do you want your present before or after I do your back?” he asked quietly. He was still doing the dishes, not paying much mind for anything else besides Levi’s voice. 

  

Lathe nudged Levi’s arm. “You're not going to be able to move for a while after your back is done, giving the henna time to dry and crack off. It'll take an hour at least after he’s finished. I'd say before.” 

  

Levi nodded, turning back to Eren. “Before.” 

  

“Alright. Meet me downstairs when you’re ready then, and close the door behind you.” Eren then left with his mug of tea, grabbed the box of henna bottles and retreated downstairs. Blake stayed in the kitchen after he had eaten, still struggling to eat the rawhide bone. 

  

Lathe stood after a moment, taking the rest of the dishes to the sink. He was quiet for a moment. “I really do want to make it up to you. Anything you need, tell me, alright?” 

  

Levi slowly nodded. “Okay. At least you know how to bargain with him. Thanks for breakfast. It was great.” He handed Lathe his plate, walking to the scripting room. He looked to the boxes under the tree. ...The henna is gone, but so is the box with the condoms and stuff in it… Did Lathe move it or something? He quirked an eyebrow, but did not stop walking to the stairs, closing the door behind him and descending the steps. 

  

Eren was in the middle of lighting a bunch of candles around the room, all the lights were off otherwise. Both missing boxes were on the table to the side, which still hadn’t been moved back in the past month. There was a large queen sized bed which had a bunch of pillows and blankets on it. Eren finally finished up with all the candles and he looked around to see Levi at the end of the stairs. He motioned him to come forward as he crawled onto the air mattress himself. He was wearing his sweatpants as well as a white tank top he had gotten today. The only thing white he actually owned. So he sat cross-legged in the middle of the bed, waiting for Levi to join him. 

  

Levi was speechless, stunned at what Eren had put together. He swallowed hard, crossing the room and climbing onto the bed next to him, watching Eren with unsure eyes. ...What is all this…? 

  

Eren moved and soon had Levi in the middle of the bed. He reached for the hem of his shirt and pulled the loose cloth over Levi’s head and threw it away, not caring in the least where it landed. Eren crawled onto Levi, straddling his waist, his ass cheeks on Levi’s crotch. He swallowed hard and ran his hands down Levi’s chest. Closing his eyes as he took in a deep breath. “You ready?” He asked quietly… but Eren didn’t look happy, he looked almost remorseful. 

  

He looks as if this is the last thing he wants to do… “Eren… are you sure? You don't look too sure yourself.” Levi spoke softly, propped up on an elbow, brushing a lock of hair out of Eren’s eyes. 

  

Eren looked down. “I… I’m scared. But I need to do this… I need to tell you.” Eren said and he moved his face into Levi’s hand as his face was shown again to Levi. I need to tell him, I want to tell him… I want to know he won’t leave me before we go any further with this. 

  

Levi gave him a soft smile in reassurance. “What do you need to tell me?” You don't have to be afraid to talk to me. 

  

Eren kept his head against Levi’s hand, not wanting to move it. “I’m not pure Levi… I’m a whore…” Eren let the first few tears drop quietly. He was putting all his trust in Levi not to leave after knowing how broken on the inside he was. 

  

Levi’s face twisted in confusion, concern. His thumb brushed Eren’s cheek, wiping away his tears. “Eren, don’t cry, please. What in the world makes you say that?” How could you call yourself that? 

  

“Levi… I’ve had sex with so many men, I lost count after 50… I even let my dad have sex with me… I’m a filthy incestuous whore…” Eren cried more, but tried to keep his voice as steady as possible, finding comfort in Levi’s hands. Well now he knows… that I’m a whore, a slut, a bitch, a prostitute, a toy for someone to play with… And now he’s gonna leave because I’m not anything like he thought I was. Eren reached out to his wrist and started to scratch at it, close to opening his small scabs up again, but he wasn’t there yet. 

  

Levi brought up his other hand to catch Eren from scratching, his mind running in overdrive. His own father… That must have been part of what the basement was all about. Wasn't it. No no no, that wasn't any of his fault! “Eren, don't call yourself that.” Levi looked into Eren’s viridian eyes, hoping he understood. “None of what your father, or anyone, forced upon you is your fault. You don't have to be so hard on yourself for it. If you're worried about me being mad, I'm not. It doesn't change the fact that you're wonderful, and that I love you.” How did I ever find that hard to say? “Please, don't think of yourself as a whore, because you're not one.” 

  

Eren sniffled and looked down to his hands in Levi’s hands. “So… you’re…. You’re not gonna leave me?” He asked quietly through tears. He was so afraid to be left alone after he had finally found someone to latch himself to. He had been brave enough to tell Levi what had happened, telling him was supposed to be his present, but Eren was tempted to allow him to go a little further if Levi would stay. Please say you’ll stay… Please don’t leave me. 

  

How could I? “No, I'm not. I want to stay.” Levi smiled. 

  

Eren sighed in relief and just laid down on top of Levi and let himself get over his fit of sobs as he held onto Levi, wrapping his arms all the way around his chest. “Thank you, Levi…” He trialed off and nuzzled into his bare chest, loving the feeling of his warm chest on his cheeks. Don’t let me go Levi. 

  

Levi instantly wrapped his arms solidly around him, one arm snaking up to tangle in his hair, slowly carding his fingers through his Brunette locks. He quietly mumbled to Eren. “Of course I'm going to stay Eren, I love you, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s all alright.” 

  

Eren smiled and moved up a bit. “I’ll let you have a little brief from your ban.” Eren’s moves would’ve left Levi very little time to comprehend his words before he crashed his lips against Levi’s, his arms coming out from around Levi’s chest and wandering down his bare chest. 

  

Levi kissed back fervently, one hand going down Eren’s side, the other cupping his cheek. He tilted his head to deepen the kiss, soon swiping his tongue across Eren’s lip in a request for entrance. Please. 

  

Eren opened his mouth instantly, arching his back and grinding his hips down on Levi’s crotch a little bit. He was still a bit timid to do so, but he feverishly kissed Levi, meeting his passion. Dammit Levi... Kiss me, I’ve already had enough without you. 

  

Levi groaned into his mouth, his hips coming up to meet Eren’s, tangling their tongues together instantly. He still tastes like cinnamon… I love it. He swiped his thumb over Eren’s jaw. I hope you don't reinstate the ban after this… Barely an hour with it in place, and I've already missed you more than anything. 

  

Eren moaned into the kiss as Levi’s thumb ran over a sensitive part of his jaw. His hips grinding against Levi’s, moving in a slow circle. Eren’s hands getting closer to the hem of Levi’s pants. Remind me, never ban Levi from kissing me again. 

  

Levi pulled back for an instant to take a deep breath before immediately diving back in, his lips moving forcefully against Eren’s. His fingers toyed with the hem of Eren’s tank top. 

  

Eren moved his hands to help Levi take his tank top off, pulling away from the kiss only to take it off. “Hmm… Levi.” Eren moaned and looked sexy as all hell where he was, straddling Levi and grinding down a bit harder as his length started to get erect. Fuck Levi, touch me please. Maybe if you’re lucky I’ll be calm enough to actually do it with you. 

  

Levi smirked, his hand going to run over the bulge in his sweatpants. “Yes, Eren?” His voice was low and smooth, his steel eyes hooded. 

  

Fuck. Eren let out a loud moan as his hand grazed over his hardening length. “Fuck, Levi… more” Eren ground his ass into Levi’s crotch and his own crotch against Levi’s hand as he was palmed, his eyes full of need. Fuck, I never want to miss this… He’s not allowed to fucking leave me. Ever. 

  

Levi leaned up to kiss at Eren’s neck, nibbling at the soft flesh as he palmed Eren’s length, one hand running along the waistband of his sweatpants. Too much fabric. Levi pulled at the fabric, moving them down from Eren’s hips, running his hand over his length through his boxers. 

  

Eren gave out a string of moans. “Fuck, Levi… Ahhh… More… please…” He moaned out and tried to get as much friction from Levi’s hand as possible. He was still holding back on how much noise was making; He was still really shy, but allowed Levi to do more. It feels good. It feels really good. 

  

Levi moved to switch their positions, suckling at the flesh of Eren’s neck, leaving small bites and kisses. He played with the hem of Eren’s boxers before pulling them down and helping Eren kick them off, taking his length in his hand and slowly pumping. Damn, his voice… Fuck. 

  

Eren’s back arched off the bed as Levi took his length into his hands. “No… I’m… supposed… to please… you…” Eren tried to get out his words in between moans. He wasn’t wrong, either. It’s his birthday, I’m supposed to do this to him… not have him do it to me. 

  

Levi pulled back from Eren’s neck, speaking lowly into his ear. “Eren, I want to make you feel good. Let me.You deserve it. 

  

Eren shuddered as Levi’s rich voice flooded his ears. He let out a louder moan as Levi squeezed his cock a little tighter. Fuck… Levi… So good. Eren moved a bit and wrapped his arms around Levi’s shoulders. His fingers digging into his shoulder blades. “But.. Levi…” Eren knew that he should let him do something else today, not just get a blow job. “Not all the way… ahhh… you can do… haaa… whatever you… agh… want besides… haaa… that…” Eren moaned out as he bucked up into Levi’s hand wrapped around him. Fuck, he can do whatever he wants… just not all the way yet. 

  

Levi nibbled down Eren’s neck to his collarbone, intent on leaving many small marks. Mine. He twisted his hand as he pumped Eren’s length, his other hand moving to gently fondle Eren’s balls. 

  

Eren let out a high pitched wail of pleasure. “Levi!” Eren gasped out feeling pleasure consume his whole body, his nipples beginning to perk under the bandages around his chest. His eyes were lidded. “I… I can’t…. Much longer….” Eren moaned out to him, stringing along his name within the moans. He could feel his coil beginning to tighten very quickly. 

  

...Not yet. Levi tightened his grip around the base of Eren’s length, slowing his ministrations and kissing his collarbone lightly, waiting for Eren’s shuddering to stop. 

  

Eren whined when he wasn’t allowed to cum. “Leee~viiiii.” Eren whined, wanting release. 

  

Levi leaned up to Eren’s ear, his voice soft. “Not yet… I want all of you Eren.” Levi moved in a blur of motion, flipping Eren over so he was resting naked under him. He drank in his lithe body under him, sitting back on his knees and reaching to gently trace his hands down Eren’s sides, noting where Eren moaned and writhed under him. Fucking perfect. Levi smirked as his hands finally came to rest on Eren’s bubbly asscheeks. Holy fuck. They’re so soft… and bubbly… no ass can match this one! HOLY FUCK! I want it… I want it bad. Levi noticed how his pants almost instantly got tighter as he saw Eren’s ass, his mind imagining just how good it would be to fuck him right then and there. No. I can’t do that until he says I can… He’s trusting me right now. That’s enough of a birthday present. Levi slowly started to massage Eren’s perfect asscheeks, gentle and rhythmic. 

  

Eren moaned out and moved to present his ass more to Levi, moaning more as Levi pulled his ass cheeks apart. I can almost feel him staring at my hole… damn, does it look that fucking good. Eren gave a small gasp as he felt something poke at his puckered hole. 

  

Levi smirked as he let a finger trace the twitching pucker. Fuck, I want this… Eren seems to enjoy the touching too, fuck, look at his eyes. Levi watched as Eren turned his head to look back at him. Hmm, I wonder if he’d let me… 

  

“No.” Came Eren’s instant reply. 

  

“But-” 

  

“No. I told you we cannot go all the way, I am not ready for that yet. No fingering either.” Eren’s voice was firm but he didn’t move his ass away from Levi’s grip. He slowly turned his head back to rest it down on the bed, trying to focus on the pleasure. 

  

Well, if I can’t finger him, I got something better. Levi moved a bit so that he could   more easily access Eren’s ass before he bent down, his head going immediately to Eren’s puckered hole. His hands were stretching his cheeks as far apart as possible, his tongue darted out to lick at the hole. Fuck he even tastes good too, he taste like the rest of his sweet skin… Fuck, I want more. 

  

Eren gave out a high pitched sound as he felt Levi’s wet hot tongue against his asshole. “Fuck… Levi…” Eren moaned out even more as Levi continued to vigorously lick away at the hole, slowly trying to get his tongue further. Eren let out loud moan after loud moan, his whole bodying shivering from pure delight. His length dripping precum already, a line dripping down to teh sheets below them. Fuck, Levi, I won’t be able to do this any longer. “L-Levi.. I.. I can’t- hyahh!” Eren moaned out before letting a loud gasp out. His throwing his head back as his orgasm finally struck him and he shot rope after pearly rope down to the sheets below them. 

  

Well, I found a new spot for Eren. That felt great, his ass clenched around my tongue almost instantly… Fuck, he’s gonna feel so good, when we get there. He held Eren up letting him get off his post orgasmic high, setting him to lay down by the pillows as he stripped the bed of the soiled sheets. Nope not getting dirty. Levi got off the bed and pull his own pants and briefs off, letting his own length spring free of its restraints before he climbed back onto the bed with Eren. 

  

Eren smiled as he came in and went to curl up to him. “Can I help you out now?” He asked his voice seductive, playful as well. Fuck, that felt great. Shit, I didn’t think getting rimmed would’ve felt so good. 

  

Levi smirked, settling next to him, pecking at his lips, moving down his jawline to his ear. “Hmm, I guess you can.” Levi smirked softly and he watched Eren shift to move so that he was in between Levi’s legs. Fuck his ass looks perfect… 

  

Eren went to Levi’s length, slowly running a finger from base to tip, watching the beads of precum seep from the slit on the head. Eren leaned his head down, licking the beads away from the slit, and rolling his tongue around Levi’s head, listening to him groan in bliss. He slowly but surely let his throat relax on Levi’s length, taking in his whole length at once. 

  

Fuck, I forgot he can deepthroat me… Shit, I am not going to last long at all. Levi’s hand grabbed at Eren’s long hair, pulling on it roughly. Eren, fuck, I can’t take this! Levi felt the vibrations run up his whole body as Eren moaned from the tugging. 

  

Eren began to bob his head up and down, letting Levi pull at his locks every now and then. It took only a few minutes of his movements until Levi was really starting to crumble underneath him. Only a few more seconds. Eren lifted his head up to the tip and increased the pressure tenfold. 

  

“FUCK!” Levi shouted out as his orgasm hit. His body jolted, hunching over Eren’s head from the sitting position he was originally in. Levi let out more moans than he cared to. Fuck, I didn’t want him to hear me moan like that! 

  

Eren smirked, his mouth coming off of his length with a seductive pop before he pushed Levi down and crawled up into his chest. “Can we sleep for a bit?” he asked quietly. Stretching his whole body before snuggling up to Levi, he shivered a bit, but didn’t make a move to collect his clothing from the floor. 

  

Levi smirked, pressing a kiss to his temple. You're shivering… And I ditched the sheets, so… “Let me up for a moment, get your clothes. You're shivering.” Levi, albeit reluctantly, slipped out from under Eren, picked up Eren’s clothes from where he discarded them and handed them to him, finding his own and putting them on. He climbed back onto the bed, pulling Eren into him, running a hand through his hair, murmuring. “Better?” 

  

Eren nodded curling up to him to sleep, getting warmer wearing of his previously discarded hoodie. “I wanna sleep for a few hours, then I’ll do your back after we wake up, okay?” Eren asked as he gave out a loud yawn and climbed onto Levi’s chest again, wanting to be in his arms and warm. 

  

Levi tangled their legs together. “Alright.” Levi closed his eyes, letting sleep wash over him. 

  

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

  

Levi opened his eyes to solid knocking on the door at the top of the stairs, Lathe calling down through the wood to them. 

  

“I’m not allowed to come downstairs, but I made lunch and am obligated to tell you to wake up and get the hell up here to eat, dammit!” 

  

Eren shifted on top of Levi, groaning as he did so. “So loud…” Eren whined and buried his head further into Levi’s chest, not willing to get up quite yet. 

  

Levi called out in Lathe’s general direction, “Give us a few minutes, and we’ll be up!” 

  

Eren whined more. “Too loud…” He moved and rolled off of Levi, surrounding himself in the mound of pillows a few feet from Levi. He closed his eyes to go back to sleep. They’re so fucking loud… My head hurts… I don’t wanna move…. Fuck it I’m going back to bed. 

  

Levi stretched his arms over his head, smirking at Eren’s adorable bedhead. He’s too fucking cute. Levi moved to catch Eren around his waist, pulling him closer to him. He spoke quietly. “Sorry for yelling… but you can’t fall back asleep. It’s the middle of the day and I want food.” 

  

Eren swatted lazily at Levi’s arms. “Murrrr…. Go then… I’m tired and my head fucking hurts.” Eren proceeded to grab a pillow and pull it to his chest to curl around. 

  

Levi let his arm drift to Eren’s waist, pressing a kiss to his temple. “Do you want me to get you some aspirin or something then? It would be nice if you did come upstairs to eat with us.” You require sustenance; admit it. 

  

Eren gave a soft whine. “I’m staying here… I want another blanket though, it’s cold down here…” Eren clutched the pillow more, turning away from Levi’s arms a little bit. I wanna sleep, I can eat later…. 

  

Levi pressed another kiss to his temple, shifting to get up from the bed. Fiiiiiiine. “I’ll go get you blankets, then. But you really should come up and eat.” Levi padded over to their stairs, careful to pick his way up in the darkness. He left the door slightly ajar, going up to Lathe’s study where the nest of blankets and pillows remained from more than a week ago. Draped in the blankets and carrying a multitude of pillows, Where Eren got all these I do not know… he stepped down the stairs, careful not to trip over anything dragging on the ground. He returned to Eren, dumping the pillows on the bed and tugging the blankets in a semi-neat fashion over him. “I really think you should come upstairs…” 

  

Eren grumbled something from under the covers, moving around to get comfortable before closing his eyes and going back to sleep. I want to sleep. Leave me be… sleep is not my best friend at the moment… I want to make it happen though… Fuck… my head hurts…. Murrrr. 

  

Levi sighed, leaving him to sleep. The Brat’s more stubborn than I am! He went upstairs and snagged the aspirin bottle from Lathe’s bag, ignoring lunch and Lathe’s inquiring look as he got a glass from the cupboard and filled it with water, returning to Eren and gently nudging his shoulder. “I have aspirin for you if you want it…” 

  

Eren slowly moved out from under his hoard of blankets. He took the aspirin and chugged down the glass of water. “Thank you.” He mumbled before retreating underneath his mound of blankets. Go away, I wanna sleep. 

  

Levi ran a hand through his hair before returning upstairs, taking a seat at the table and finally looking up to Lathe’s odd stare. “...What?” 

  

Lathe smirked, setting down a plate of grilled cheese in front of him. “Eren doin’ alright?” He nodded his head to the aspirin bottle still in his grasp. 

  

Levi quirked an eyebrow, placing the bottle on the table in front of him. “...Yeah, he just had a headache.” 

  

“...Really?” Lathe looked unimpressed, setting a mug of strong tea in front of him as well. “Alright.” He picked up the bottle, moving to put it back where it belonged. That really all? 

  

...What are you insinuating. “Lathe, don't. You don't exactly know what’s between Eren and I.” His voice was cold as he talked over his shoulder. 

  

I probably should lay off a bit. Lathe winced. “Sorry. I'll lay off for a while.” Lathe moved back to the table and sat down next to Levi, quietly starting to eat his grilled cheese. Dammit. 

  

Levi sighed. Just… “Just don’t joke about that, please.” That’s territory you're not allowed into. Also you're kind of like our dad and that just makes it weird. 

  

“...Okay.” Lathe was silent for the rest of lunch, getting up to do the dishes and taking Levi’s plate and mug without comment. 

  

Levi stood, about to turn back to the scripting room, but he stopped and walked next to Lathe at the sink, silently drying the dishes and putting them away. An understanding passed between the two of them as Levi took a grilled cheese on a plate and a mug of tea, balancing the bottle of nausea pills next to the sandwich and leaving to rejoin Eren downstairs. He descended the stairs, closing the door quietly and turning on the lights of the stairwell and the front quarter of the room. He set the food on the table, moving to Eren’s sleeping form and gently shaking him awake, speaking softly. “Wake up, Brat. Food.” You need to eat! 

  

Eren groaned. Slowly coming out from his nest of blankets. “Do I have to?” He asked quietly, looking at Levi with almost a death glare. I want to sleep… Why’d you fucking wake me up?

  

“Yes,” Levi leaned down and a gave him a peck on the lips. “-you do. Lunch today is very good, so please try and eat.” He retrieved the nausea pills, handing him one and his mug of tea as he sat up. Come on, we need to make you eat! 

  

Eren took the pills and took a sip of his tea, sighing as he felt the warm liquid run down his throat. “Why… I’m not really that hungry…” Eren was still giving Levi his own death glare, though it started to soften as he saw the grilled cheese sandwich. Ten more points to Lathe and his apology. 

  

“Because you might not know how hungry you are, and because you should.” Levi placed the plate in Eren’s lap. “Just try, and if you find you really can't I'll take it back and stop bugging you about it.” Please at least try. 

  

“Fine.” Eren reached for the food after a few minutes of intense staring. My head hurts too fucking much to stare at him for too long. Fuck. Eren picked up the grilled cheese from the plate, taking a bite before taking a few more. 

  

Levi internally sighed in relief as their staring contest of sorts ended. Thank God he looked away, I wouldn't be able to hold it for much longer. ...He has a headache, though… Shit, he could probably hold it for much longer. Levi watched Eren nibble at the sandwich. Good. He's eating. 

  

Eren ate the rest of the sandwich and downed the tea before he set it down and slithered back into his cocoon of blankets. I’m going back to fucking sleep. 

  

Levi swiftly placed the dishes on the table before crawling back onto the bed and under the blankets, turning Eren onto his back and straddling him, brushing a lock of hair out of his face. “You don't think I'm just going to let you go back to sleep, do you?” Of course not. 

  

Eren curled closer in on himself. “Go away, I have a headache. I wanna sleep.” Eren growled at him and tried to grab at the covers. 

  

Levi leaned down and gently nipped at the bruises littering his neck. “Well, while we're waiting for the aspirin to kick in…” 

  

Eren let out a loud moan, his face flushing in complete embarrassment. What the fuck is he doing? Is he trying to get me hard? Eren moved and swatted at Levi, pushing him away. “No, Levi, don't do that.” Eren whined and moved away from his grasp. 

  

Levi shifted and followed Eren’s motions, suckling harder at his neck. You're not getting away that easily. He ran his hand down Eren’s chest, tracing over his sides. 

  

Eren moaned out again. “Levi! No, I have a headache!” Eren let out a huge moan as Levi sucked on a very sensitive spot along his neck. “Levi, stop…. I’ll get horny again!” Eren whined as he squirmed under Levi’s hold as his sides were touched. 

  

“That’s the plan, Brat.” Levi kept Eren in place as he kissed and licked at Eren’s adam’s apple, one hand drifting south and ghosting over the front of Eren’s sweatpants. 

  

Eren moaned out more. Fuck, if Levi does this again… I don’t know how long I’ll last. Eren struggled to move away from Levi, but found it next to useless as he felt Levi’s hand already starting to tease him through his sweatpants. Eren’s breath hitched immediately, his back beginning to arch up off the air mattress. 

  

Levi brought his head up to meet Eren in a heated kiss, tongue prodding at Eren’s lips for entrance, his hand palming Eren’s length with more pressure. My God, your voice… you sound so damn sexy… 

  

Eren let out another loud moan only to have his mouth sealed off by Levi’s lips. Levi… Fuck… Eren ground his hips up into Levi’s hand, wanting more of the friction as his length slowly got harder. 

  

Levi moaned into Eren’s mouth, his hand moving against Eren’s clothed length before drifting to the hem of his sweatpants and pulling them down over his hips, palming Eren through his boxers. Levi pushed his tongue past Eren’s lips, tangling with his. Just let me. 

  

Eren soon gave into Levi’s touches, his head pounding from both pleasure and the damned headache. Eren’s hips moved more vigorously as he was palmed through his boxers to full erection. Fuck. 

  

Levi’s tongue danced with Eren’s, his hand for a moment playing with the hem of Eren’s boxers before pulling them over his hips and helping Eren kick them off. He gently took his length in hand, stroking him slowly. 

  

Fuck… Levi, you bastard, rub me harder . Eren bucked his hips up, groaning as Levi’s hand slid down to the base and then back to the tip. Eren’s hands gripped the blankets under him, his knuckles white. Fuck, don’t tease me. “Please Levi… Faster, don’t tease me…” Eren begged, letting his seductive voice take over of his vocal cords. 

  

Fuck, that voice. Levi obliged him and sped up his strokes, gripping him more firmly and twisting his hand. 

  

Eren moaned out more, throwing his head back in bliss as Levi did as he asked. His moans were incredibly loud; he wasn’t trying to suppress his voice anymore. “L-Levi!” Eren gasped out feeling that sensation start to coil in his stomach. He growled and continued to buck his hips up in time with Levi’s motions, trying to get as satisfied as possible. 

  

Levi gasped for air, going to attack Eren’s neck, sucking and biting hard as he pumped Eren’s length quickly. He groaned, his own length throbbing as he heard Eren moan loudly. 

  

Eren reached down for Levi’s hand, getting him to stop. “Hold on, together… Please…” Eren begged him and a hand moved to pull Levi’s sweatpants down. I wanna feel you too. Eren pulled Levi’s sweatpants and boxers down in one pull, reaching out to grab Levi’s length and move him closer. 

  

Levi stopped, moaning as Eren took his length into his hand. Fuck. Levi lowered his hips, letting their lengths brush against each other. “E-Eren…” Levi gasped, leaning to kiss him hungrily. 

  

Eren kissed him roughly, biting at Levi’s lips teasingly. He soon had his own length in his hand, rubbing both his and Levi’s together. “Fuck!” Eren cried out as he felt both the warmth of Levi’s length against his own and the pressure of their hands running over them. “Levi… Levi… More… I want more” he moaned out and his whole body began to quiver under Levi. 

  

Levi shuddered, feeling his own coil tightening, ready to snap. I can’t hold on for much longer… Levi leaned up to Eren's ear, willing his voice to be smooth and low. “Eren… cum for me.” 

  

Eren’s eyes widened as he cried out loudly in bliss. He almost clamped down on their two lengths with a vice like grip, only to stop himself when he felt the coil snap, his pearly cum shooting out, messing the sweatshirt that he wore. He was in complete bliss in his after-orgasm high, slowly jerking the both of them trying to get as much cum as possible out. His eyes hooded as his head rolled to the side, staring into Levi’s silvery orbs with his own green eyes, darkened with lust. 

  

Levi groaned as his own cum decorate Eren’s chest, his steel eyes shaded as he leaned down to kiss him, the fire in his chest burned down to a glow. Fuck, that felt amazing… He shifted, pulling back to help Eren remove the soiled sweatshirt, dropping it on the floor to be washed later. He laid down next to Eren, straightening himself out and content to lazily kiss Eren, pulling them flush together. 

  

Eren kissed him lazily back… It took a few minutes for him to get out of his daze. “Did we just cum on my new hoodie?” He asked, moving to reach for his boxers and sweatpants. He didn’t seem too pissed off about it right now. “And twice? In one day Levi? Twice in only a few hours… Fuck my head is pounding.” Eren sat up and put his head in his hands, rubbing his head. Fuck the pills better kick in soon. I feel kinda dizzy… I need water. “Levi… Get me some water… please, my head hurts.” 

  

Levi’s brows furrowed in concern, pecking Eren on the forehead and immediately slipping from the bed to take their dishes upstairs. “Alright. I'll be back with water in a minute.” He quickly walked upstairs to the kitchen, the smell of Lathe’s cooking hitting him as soon as he stepped into the scripting room. Damn, it smells good up here… He walked to the kitchen, seeing Lathe fussing over three pans and a cutting board all at once, in full-on chef mode. He put his dishes in the left side of the sink, grabbing and filling a water glass and studying the stove. “You've got a lot going on, and it all smells great.” 

  

Lathe beamed, chopping onions. “Thanks! There’s going to be a feast tonight, given it’s Christmas. I'm planning on having plenty of leftovers, which is always a good thing.” He scraped the contents of the board into a pan, going for the carrots. “Feel free to snitch anything. I don't mind if you want to steal a cookie or two.” 

  

“Nah, thanks. I'll let you have the kitchen to yourself.” You seem really into it, I don't want to get in the way. Levi smirked, turning and going back downstairs, taking the bottle of aspirin with him. Just in case what Eren took wasn’t enough. He closed the door behind him, walking down to Eren and handing him the full glass. “Here you go, Brat.” Hope this helps. 

  

Eren made a soft noise of acknowledgement before reaching for the glass. He took slow sips before he was chugging the whole thing. Shit my throat is dry… “Can you carry me upstairs? I don’t think I can walk with how dizzy I am.” Eren looked up to him, his head spinning a little bit. I don’t think I’d be able to fucking stand, I want to drink a fucking gallon of water too. 

  

Upstairs. “Of course.” Levi pocketed the bottle of aspirin, reaching under the blankets and curving his arms under his legs and back, lifting him in one smooth movement from the bed. He traipsed over to and up the stairs, careful of his head. He opened the door and nudged it wide with his foot, following the scent to the living room and setting Eren down on the couch, arranging a pillow under his head. He didn't drag anything up with him, and he was freezing earlier... “Do you want me to grab you a blanket from downstairs?” He held out his hand for the water glass. 

  

“Yeah, please. Levi… Um… I’m sorry… About earlier… your present… I didn’t explain it properly…” Eren said and looked down at his fingers, twiddling with him. I can explain it later… If you want me too, so you can understand it… But I can’t keep my fucking head up right now. Eren gave him the empty glass and hoped he would fill it and come back with a full one. 

  

Levi’s expression changed to one of worry, going to fill his glass again before he asked anything, avoiding an in-the-zone Lathe as he did so. He handed him the glass full of cold water before asking, “What did you need to explain about it?” I don't understand… What do you have to explain? 

  

Eren drank the full glass in a few seconds… “What it meant was that I’m giving you complete trust… So I told you about my past… That was your birthday present… My complete trust in you… Even though I was so worried you would leave me.” He told him and held out his glass out to be filled again. I hope you understand… Please do

  

Levi looked at the glass in Eren’s hand for a moment, reaching out to take it and twining their fingers together with the other, bending down to kiss him passionately, though soon pulling away. “I'm really glad that you trusted me to know all that. You don't have to worry about me leaving anytime soon.” He winked, smirking as he went to refill his glass again. He was back in a second, handing him back the glass. “I'll go grab you a blanket.” Levi left for the basement, sifting through the many blankets on the bed before picking out a thick red and gold quilt, folding it so it wouldn't drag on the ground and returning to drape it over Eren, sliding under it next to him. 

  

Eren smiled as Levi came to lay down with him, curling up to his side. He had already downed the water, and was intent on keeping himself flush against Levi’s sculpted chest. “Thank you, Levi.” Eren said and smiled happily. “I’m really happy.” Eren’s eyes closed again, his aspirin kicking in a little, as he closed his eyes to sleep. 

  

Levi pried the glass from his hand, placing it and the aspirin bottle on the floor next to him. He brought his arm around Eren, leaning his cheek on the top of his head, looking over and noticing Blake asleep under the piano. That’s adorable. He closed his eyes, rubbing invisible patterns on Eren’s arm. But not as adorable as Eren. 

  

Eren was dead to the world until Lathe announced that dinner was about ready, and to start waking up. He groaned, his head still pounding as he woke up in Levi’s arms. Fuck… my head fucking hurts… My back is starting to hurt too… The fucking morphine’s wearing out… Shit. Lathe, I need another pill. 

  

Levi noted his discomfort, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Eren, do you need more aspirin? Something else?” You don't look like you're doing too well. 

  

“Morphine… ran out.” He whimpered, even though his back was healing, if he didn’t have morphine, he could still feel all the stitches and the large burn on his lower back. Hurts like a fucking bitch! 

  

“Got it.” Levi slid out from under the blanket, bending down to grab the aspirin and glass, switching the pills for the magenta bottle. He filled the glass with cold water, handing it back to Eren along with one morphine pill, as well as a nausea pill. “Here. This should make you feel better.” 

  

Eren thanked him, taking the pills and downing the glass. He sat up, feeling his head spin a little less than it had before. Eren moved to shift his leg over the side of the couch, getting up to slowly pad to the bathroom to relieve himself from the numerous glasses of water. 

  

Levi sauntered into the kitchen and sat down at the table, looking back at the counter lined with a multitude of dishes of food. Leftovers for days. 

  

Lathe looked over his shoulder at him, smiling. “We’re going about this buffet-style, Levi. You can grab a plate at the end unless you want to wait for Eren.” 

  

“I'll wait. He’ll only be a minute. He’s been drinking water like crazy today, so…” That is kinda weird. 

  

Lathe’s expression shifted. “That explains the million times you've come to get water from the tap. Is he doin’ alright?” That’s not exactly a good thing to hear, considering he isn’t out running a marathon… 

  

“He had a pretty bad headache all this afternoon, still does.” 

  

Lathe’s brow furrowed. That doesn't sound too great. “I'll check up on that when he gets back. Speak of the devil…” Lathe set down the pan in his hands on a potholder, pulling off his oven mitts. He walked over to Eren, around the table. “How you feeling, Eren? I'm hearing not too great.” 

  

Eren shook his head immediately regretting it and putting it down on the table to stop the dizziness swirled in his head. “No…. My throat’s dry… and my head fucking hurts.” He whined and he reached up to rub his temples. “I’m hungry… and thirsty.” He mumbled, making things even odder, he never admitted to being hungry. 

  

Lathe’s eyes widened in surprise. “From a medical standpoint, this is the first case in which I'm concerned someone’s hungry. ” He felt his forehead. “You're just a bit warm, if anything. I'd say you're just dehydrated. We’ll make sure you eat and drink plenty, and you should be fine in no time. Sound alright?” Lathe smiled. “It’s serve-yourself for dinner. I've got a whole feast laid out for us. Take as much as you like. I'll get you some tea, if you like. There’s hot cocoa too, if you feel like something sweet for a change.” 

  

Eren shook his head slowly. “Tea, please.” He said before getting up and loading his plate, at least doubling what he was normally served… and he never finished what he was normally served. I’m cold. “Levi, can you get the blanket from the couch?” He asked quietly as he took his plate to sit down in his normal spot. 

  

Levi set down his plate, not believing the amount of food Eren had taken. There’s got to be something wrong. “Uh, sure.” Levi swiftly walked to the couch, picking up the quilt and helping to drape it around Eren before reclaiming his spot. 

  

Lathe set down Eren’s tea, his eyes widening at the sight of all the food Eren took. That’s more than I took- and I'm starving! “I guess we should be glad you're eating!” Lathe joked, setting down and sipping at his cocoa before starting on his plate. 

  

Eren wrapped up in his blanket finally started to eat. What was incredible was that he had finished the whole plate, and actually went up for seconds to get another decent sized plate. Eren’s skin looked a bit pale, but other than that he seemed fine. Eren finished his glass of tea, getting up to get more, leaving his food at the table for the others to stare at. My head still fucking hurts. And I’m fucking cold to top it off. 

  

Lathe studied Eren’s plate, thinking hard. What the hell? He normally has the appetite of a fucking ant. ...If something were really wrong, he’d still be out of sorts tomorrow. We’ll wait and see. He returned to eating his mashed potatoes. 

  

Levi was thinking along those same lines. He eyed his boyfriend- he would never get tired of thinking that, his boyfriend- with a mix of worry and curiosity. It’ll probably blow over, whatever’s gotten to him. 

  

Eren sat back down and finished up his second plate and his tea before he got up to start the dishes like he normally did. Fuck… I feel dizzy again. Eren gripped onto the small ledge to keep himself standing up. Shit… Dizziness, kindly go fuck off. 

  

Lathe was on his feet in a second, his hand on Eren’s arm to steady him. “You okay? You need me to walk you to the couch?” Dizziness getting up. Dehydration. Sudden increase of appetite. Add blurry vision and you’d get… Is it that? 

  

Eren turned his head, feeling his head ripping with a new pain. Fuck… I can’t see anything. What the fuck? Eren felt so disoriented as he fell forward a little bit, everything in front of him a blurred grey. “Y-Yeah.” Eren’s voice sounded both pained and confused, like he didn’t know where Lathe was anymore. Fuck… go away… my head fucking hurts. 

  

Lathe caught Eren as he lurched, half-dragging him to the couch, speaking so Eren could tell where he was. “I've got you Eren, I'm getting you to the couch, you're going to be just fine. I know what’s wrong now.” He carefully set Eren on the couch, letting him lie down, exposing his right arm from his quilt cocoon. “I never put that other saline IV in nearly a month ago; It slipped my mind completely. You didn't show too many negative signs of all that blood loss, until now. You haven't been eating too much, the low blood pressure and not enough salts- yeah, it all lines up. I’m going to put that IV in now, alright? I'll find a stand for it upstairs and we can get that going; you'll feel much better after it.” Lathe went up the stairs to retrieve a metal stand, hooking an IV from his bag onto it and inserting it into Eren’s arm, taking it down. “It'll be less than an hour, but I'll probably get you a second one. I'll go find one.” He left, disappearing upstairs. 

  

Levi watched this unfold with worried eyes, setting his silverware across his finished late before coming to kneel next to Eren. He brushed his bangs from his eyes. It’s worse than I thought, huh. But you'll be okay soon. Levi didn't know what to say, instead just pressing a kiss to Eren’s cheek. Feel better. 

  

Eren moved to take his hand. “Can you stay?” He asked quietly, his vision had finally returned back to normal. His head still felt like it was splitting. “Please?” And just talk to me… about anything, please, I don’t want to be reminded about what’s in my fucking arm. 

  

Levi gave him a small smile, standing and slipping next to him, careful of the IV. He slung his arm across Eren’s shoulders, chattering about things happening in his classes and on the football team, noticing Eren’s uncomfortable looks to his arm. Be distracting. That’s easy enough. Neither of them noticed when Lathe walked past and changed the bag hanging from the thin stand. 

  

Lathe started on the many many pots, pans, and dishes that had piled up, stashing the many leftover plates in the fridge. I'm not going to have to cook for awhile- sweet! He looked down when he felt Blake nudge his leg, smiling and setting food and water in his bowls. He’s finally woken up. He’s got the life. 

  

Eren smiled and chuckled every now and then. His color was starting to return, and his headache starting to subside a little bit. “Levi, you’re so cold to everyone else except me, it sounds like.” He murmured and smiled curling up to him as best as he could. He was shivering against him, he needed another blanket, but he didn’t want Levi to leave him alone on the couch. Don’t leave me, I don’t care if I’m cold. 

  

You're still shivering… “Do you want me to get you another blanket? You're still cold, I can tell.” Levi tensed to get up. 

  

“I'll get one for the two of you.” Lathe approached them, a dish towel over his shoulder. “Eren, let me take that IV out, okay?” He took his arm gingerly and removed the needle, leaving the tape and gauze in place. He disposed of the empty bag and tubing. He disappeared upstairs and returned with another quilt, twin to the one already thrown over them. He spread it over them, returning to the dishes. Let them be as they are. 

  

Eren curled up into Levi’s arms. “I wanna sleep downstairs tonight.” He told Levi before he closed his eyes against the man’s chest. Eren slept peacefully as his headache faded to oblivion. 


Levi kissed the top of his head, letting his eyes close, already heavy with sleep. “Of course. ‘Night Eren.’” He mumbled, fading into unconsciousness, content. 

Chapter Text

Eren’s health had improved after a few good nights of rest, plenty of food and drinks as well as some much needed movement. With his dizziness and headaches gone, Eren dragged Levi to his ‘nest’ downstairs, opening the box of henna bottles. He took over 5 hours to complete Levi’s intricate back and he was very proud of his work. Even the shading looking excellent! It took Eren a few more days to convince Levi to get his arms done, finally resorting to a staring competition, which Levi had no hopes in winning now that Eren’s headache was gone. His arms took another 5 hours, each containing intricate detail. Eren had practically moved into the larger basement, sleeping on the larger air mattress with Levi almost every night now. He was fiddling with Lathe’s odd computer whenever he wasn’t either playing the piano or painting. Eren still hadn’t completely understood how the damn thing worked even with the notes Lathe gave him, so he found himself more occupied with painting and playing piano than singing, though as the week wore on Eren was becoming obsessed with learning every song he could from Nate Ruess. Eren had been singing his songs non stop- that was, until Levi had practically gone mad from Eren singing all day; and apparently his voice was a good way to get Levi horny. Eren, being the tease he is, didn’t allow for a single touch other than a kiss that day. Lathe had spent a great deal of time with Eren at the kitchen table, attempting to teach him the ins and outs of cursive handwriting. The lessons had been going well, but Lathe had decided Eren was not prepared for his calligraphy pen yet, so they were practicing with normal pens. Eren and Levi stayed inside the warm house for the most part, which left Lathe to go outside and play with Blake to get his pent-up energy out. The crazy dog would run laps around the large yard, waiting for Lathe to finish building a snowman before running at it full speed and knocking it over completely, effectively turning Blake white while he was still outside. Lathe seemed to enjoy his time outside with the dog a lot, seeing as he was constantly singing songs from Frozen, which was also driving Levi up the wall.   Eren watched most of the time recording the whole scene on his phone, smiling as he sent it to Armin. The two of them had become regular texting buddies over the course of the past week, and if he wasn’t laughing because of something Levi said, it was definitely about something Armin had texted him about. It was nice seeing that Eren was actually happy now, his real personality coming out. Eren had become stubborn, both Levi and Lathe agreed, yet they could do nothing to stop Eren from challenging them to staring competitions they couldn’t dream of winning. It was their fault for agreeing to something they had no hope of winning. The time flew by on their winter break, the week passing by quickly, along with their New Year's celebration. Eren had become a happy camper about the idea that they would stay up to watch the ball drop on livestream only when Lathe told him he would make fresh cinnamon rolls the next morning.

  

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So there they were, sitting down eating cinnamon rolls at noon on a friday afternoon. Eren had already eaten 4 cinnamon rolls and was getting up to get another. They are too fucking good to give up. I feel like I’ve gained ten pounds in the last week from Lathe’s cooking. Well, ten pounds would probably do me some good. I wonder if I have been gaining weight. I wonder if Levi can tell? I’ll have to ask him. 

  

Lathe quirked an eyebrow at Eren, smiling as he sipped at a mug of hot chocolate, his features still with a reddish tint from so much time spent outside. He’s still eating like a starved wolf. Getting some meat on his bones will surely do him good, given how thin he was at first. I need to get him on a scale soon, see how he’s doing weight-wise. 

  

Levi was thinking similarly, his eyes tracing Eren’s outline. I don't have a clue as to how he could flip the switch from ‘never hungry’ to ‘constantly dying of starvation’ in a day. Well, he’s filling out nicely. Levi smirked, biting into his second cinnamon roll. Very nicely. 

  

Eren sat back down at his seat, digging into his beloved roll before he spoke up. “So, where is the concert again? And what do I have to wear?” He asked quietly and he took another bite from his cinnamon roll.

  

“It’s at the Town Ballroom, in the city. You’d probably want to wear jeans and a hoodie over a long-sleeve shirt if that’ll keep you warm enough. Two if you think you'll need it, I dunno. I'm not sure what footwear you have that will work…”

  

Lathe spoke up, putting his mug down. “Eren, I know you don't have a winter coat or boots or anything like that of your own right now, so until we get you some, you can borrow some of my stuff. You'll fit anything in my closet, really. My metal-toe boots have good treads for the snow and ice, and I have a couple jackets you could pick from.”

  

Eren looked up to him with wide-open eyes. I get to wear those awesome boots? I REALLY GET TO WEAR THEM?? YES!!! Eren’s eyes shone with even more excitement than before. “Thanks, Dad.” Eren didn’t even realize he let the word slip.

  

Lathe froze, his eyes wide, looking intensely at Eren, before a smile overcame his face. Did he really… He rested his chin in his palm, his head dropping down to look at the table, trying not to cry. He did. He tried to keep his voice even. “Of course.”

  

Eren smiled. He finished off his fifth cinnamon roll before taking his dishes up to the sink, starting to wash them. “Levi, help me take a shower after you’re done eating.” Eren’s voice was stubborn, meaning no room for argument. Eren also didn’t care Lathe was there; Lathe knew they’d showered together before, so he didn’t really care anymore.

  

Levi smirked, finishing his tea. Is that an order? “Alright.” He stood, bringing his dishes to the sink as well, drying the plates Eren handed him and putting them away.

  

Eren and Levi finished up the dishes pretty quickly, Eren heading off upstairs first, towards his room. I should pull out what I want to wear… Hmmm… Long sleeves, I’ve only got black so I guess i’m wearing that, my dark green hoodie, the jeans that Levi likes… He says they “make a perfect ass look more perfect”... Which I don’t care about, but I guess if they make my ass look nice for him… So that’s good I guess, right? 

  

Levi walked into Eren’s room shortly after, eyeing Eren’s choice of jeans with a smirk. Nice choice. Levi sifted through the selection he added to Eren’s closet, pulling out a Nate Ruess wife beater, a dark jacket, and dark jeans. Going with the black, aren't we? At least we’ll sorta match. 

  

Eren picked up some towels before scampering off to go get in the bathroom. He turned the water on and stepped back to strip a bit, waiting for Levi to help with his wraps. I wonder how it looks under the wraps now. 

  

Levi was in the bathroom a moment later, stripping off his shirt and jeans, kicking off his socks and stepping out of his boxers. He turned Eren around and slid the hooks out of his bandages, letting them unravel onto the floor. His eyes swept over Eren’s back, the cuts across Eren’s back almost totally healed, the burn in the small of his back looking much better than at first. The long gash down Eren’s back, held together still with a neat row of stitches was healing well. Those can come out really soon. After our shower, Lathe should have a look and see when they can come out. 

  

Eren stripped the rest of the way down. He waited for Levi to step in first, and reached to give him the cloth so that he could wash his back. He waited patiently and quietly, happy that he was going out on an actual date with Levi for the first time today. I wonder if we’ll go out to eat…. Hmmm... 

  

Levi stepped into the warm stream of water, adjusting the nozzle above his head so it was a gentler spray, like a mist. Maybe he can actually get under the water now. He reached for the cloth, taking Eren’s hand gently. “I think you can get under the water and not have it hurt. I also don't want you to be freezing again. Give it a try?” I don't want you to scare me with being so cold- your lips were fucking blue! Not good.

  

Eren thought about it for a few moments before he shook his head, thinking back to the time when he had tried to shower alone. Eren shook his head more and backed away out of fear, moving his hand from Levi’s hold and backing away until his back reached the cold tile wall behind him and he jumped out of surprise. No… I don’t want that to fucking happen again… No, absolutely not. Eren was too afraid to step under the direct stream of water still, and probably would be for awhile.

  

Levi sighed, smiling. Soon enough he won't be freezing to death every time he wants to take a shower. He held out his hand for Eren’s again. “Alright, then at least come over here so I can wash your back.”

  

Eren slowly got closer to Levi, slowly turning to him and allowed for his back to be washed. He was still pretty on edge. Don’t you dare take the head off and put it on my back. I swear you will be kicked in the balls, and Lathe will take me to the concert if you do! 

  

Levi washed his back, still being very careful of the scars and especially of the huge gash running up from his burn, which he avoided completely. He’s seriously tensed from my suggesting he stand under the water… I just don't want you freezing. Levi moved to wash his sides and arms, turning him and starting over his chest. He made sure he held the cloth under the water every minute or so as he washed him all over, trying to keep Eren warm. We're not having a repeat of last time. No. 

  

Eren noticed and stood closer to Levi, letting himself press against his warm skin. He’s warm… Which is good, I don’t want to be cold again. Eren let himself be washed, giving a small gasp as Levi grabbed his ass, quickly smacking his hands away with a glare and let him return to washing him.

  

Levi let out a breathy laugh, bending over to wash Eren’s legs and feet. Enjoying the view up there? He glanced up for a moment. ...yup, he definitely is. He stood to his full height, drenching the cloth and handing it to Eren, smirking. “Your turn.”

  

Eren smiled softly. “Okay.” He said quietly. He got the cloth and started with Levi’s chiseled chest, admiring the feeling of the stone hard muscles under his hands as he washed him. God, I fucking love his body… Is that a bad thing? 

  

Levi leaned into his touch, his eyes wandering over the fading bruises on Eren’s neck. He smirked. They suit him. But they're fading… I need to fix that. He looked up and met Eren’s eyes, a possessive glint in his eye. I wonder how mad he’ll be if start fixing it now… 

  

Eren met Levi’s eyes, noticing the possessiveness in his look. Levi? What the hell are you thinking? Eren quirked an eyebrow as he got closer. “What’s your problem, Levi? Think I’ll find a guy hotter than you?” Eren asked teasingly as he poked his chest with a smirk forming on his lips.

  

A spark of mischief danced past in Levi’s eye, and he took a small step forward, closing the space between them, their chests flush. He muttered against his neck. “No… Just making sure everyone else knows you're already taken.” He started sucking hard at the skin near the joint of his neck, kissing and nibbling across to his adam’s apple. Mine. 

  

Eren gave a moan, pressing his hand against Levi’s chest, trying in vain to push him away. “Levi!” He gasped, trying to push him away. Fuck, I’m gonna get hard! I don’t want to! “Levi! No! Stop! Not there! Anywhere but there!” Eren called moving his head away from Levi head to get himself out of the sticky situation which was going to ensue if this continued. If you continue I will kick you in the balls, and not give a damn. Eren’s eyes were hard, but he was giving Levi permission to mark him on his neck anywhere but there.

  

Alright. Not there. “...Alright then.” Levi moved back to the joint of his neck, suckling and biting the skin, leaving a ring of bruises around the base of his neck. He trailed up to nibble on his earlobe.

  

Eren let out strings of moans but he knew he’d be able to keep his arousal down. “Levi… Fuck, so many, I get to do it later…” He told him and clawed at his skin as Levi bit particularly hard.

  

Levi pulled back for a moment, satisfied with his work. That’ll let everyone know he’s mine. “Of course.” He leaned in to kiss him fervently, soon pulling away.

  

Eren let Levi kiss him, pulling back with him. “Hair, then can I get out? I'm starting to get cold.” He told Levi honestly and pressed his back to Levi’s chest to stay as warm as possible.

  

“Okay.” I'll try to keep it quick enough- no blue lips. Levi reached for the black bottle of shampoo, massaging some into Eren’s brown locks. He helped him rinse it out, still staying out of the direct stream of water before running conditioner through his hair and rinsing it out right after. That should be fine. 

  

Eren got out once he was done and wrapped himself in the warmth of towels. He went back to his room, putting on new boxers and his nice jeans before going to get his back and chest wrapped by Lathe again. His back was doing extremely well now that he was actually eating things.

  

Lathe grinned as he wrapped Eren’s back, studying the stitches. “I’d say you have no more than a week left to keep in those stitches. And the rest of your back and that burn and doing very well.” Lathe thought a moment, sliding the last hook in place. “Is it alright if we weigh you? See where you're at? There's a scale in the bathroom under the sink.”

  

“Okay, the upstairs bathroom? Or is there one down here?” He asked quietly, knowing Levi was still in the shower. I wonder how much I’ve actually put on in the past week… Actually, when was the last time I was weighed? 

  

“There’s one down here. Come on.” Lathe led the way to the bathroom, rifling in the cupboard for the scale and pulling it out, giving Eren room to step on it, looking at the number. He grinned. “You're at 98 lbs, up from your original 80. That’s still really light for someone your height, but it’s great progress for two months. Keep that appetite of yours and you'll be where you should be in no time.” Lathe joked, stowing the scale back in the cupboard.

  

Eren smiled and nodded. “Thank you Lathe, for everything.” Eren went right up to him and hugged him tightly, probably surprising Lathe from the amount of strength his body was able to produce.

  

‘Dad.’ The word still rang in his head. Lathe hugged Eren back just as tightly, his cheek resting on Eren’s head. He let out a shuddery sigh, trying to keep his voice even. “...Dad.” You can call me that if you want... 

  

Eren’s eyes widened, his head craning back to look up to Lathe’s eyes. “Really? I can call you Dad?” Eren’s voice was quiet, yet full of excitement, just as his eyes were. “Can I really call you Dad?” He asked just to be sure, and seemed to hug Lathe even tighter.

  

Lathe smiled, his eyes hopeful. “If you want to.” He swallowed, trying to push down the lump in his throat. Dammit, don't cry, you sap. Quit it. 

  

Eren’s eyes brimmed with happy tears almost instantly. His shoulders shuddered as he started to cry against Lathe’s chest, grabbing onto his shirt. “I finally have a Dad again.” Eren said, crying happily in his arms. I can finally say that again… I have a Dad… I have a much better Dad. I have one that won’t leave me, one that won’t hurt me. One that that wants me. I’m so happy. Blake sat at the door watching them with perked ears.

  

Lathe pulled Eren close, rubbing his arm and resting his chin on Eren’s head, tears trailing down his cheeks. It makes me so happy to know you trust me like this… There’s no way I'll ever let anything happen to you. Swear it. 

  

Levi stumbled down the stairs, hearing sobs from upstairs, turning to the bathroom with worry etched across his face. Eren’s crying. Why. What’s wrong? “Eren, are you-” Levi stopped short, his worry gone as he saw Eren latched onto Lathe’s shirt, both of them crying in happiness. It’s been two minutes. What did I miss? Levi stepped back awkwardly, walking back to the stairs to go up to finish changing. ... They need a minute. 

  

Eren held onto Lathe for a few more minutes, crying happily until the tears subsided, giggles now breaking free. “Thank you.” Eren giggled. Thank you so much, you have no idea how much I appreciate being away from that home. 

  

Lathe let out an airy laugh, rubbing at his eye with his sleeve. “Of course, Eren.” Lathe beamed. You really do mean too much to me. 

  

Eren smiled and laughed for a good bit before he pulled back, reaching up on his tippy toes to kiss Lathe’s cheek before giggling and dashing off to go glomp on Levi upstairs, tackling the two of them to his bed. Eren was still laughing and giggling; he was so happy, and it showed in his whole demeanor. “Guess what! Guess what! Guess what!” Eren was talking really fast, his smile from ear to ear.

  

Something big must have happened. “Whatwhatwhat?” Levi’s quick speech matched Eren’s, a small smile on his face as they fell onto the bed.

  

“Lathe said I can call him ‘Dad’!” Eren said excitedly. He looked like a happy puppy, and if he had a tail it would be wagging back and forth. “I finally have a Dad again!” Eren said happily and giggled as he curled up onto Levi’s chest. He shivered a bit, realizing he was just in his jeans and his wraps. I have a Dad again! 

  

Levi’s eyes widened, his arms wrapping around Eren’s shivering form. That… For Eren to have someone like Lathe, someone like him to call Dad after the first ‘Dad’ he was given… It’s amazing. “Eren, that’s wonderful. You're really lucky, you know… Having someone like Lathe as your father. I'm really happy for you.” Levi kissed the top of his head.

  

Eren smiled, happy. “When are we gonna go?” He asked quietly, shivering in Levi’s arms. “I’m really excited!” Eren said, his smile wide. I’m so happy, and I’m really excited to know what we’re doing… Levi said we had reservations downstairs. 

  

Levi looked to the clock on the wall. “It’s around four-thirty now… So we should probably leave in about a half hour, no later. We have reservations at six, so we should probably finish getting dressed.” Probably. 

  

Eren nodded and moved to get his longsleeve on, slipping it onto his slender frame. He looked really hot in the all black attire, shoulders wider than his waist and he was tall. He looked almost like a girl with how long his hair was. The bite marks were still clearly visible even after Eren had donned his dark green hoodie. He looked to Levi, looking for his approval in his clothing choice. Hmm, do you like what I’m wearing? 

  

Damn. Levi looked Eren up and down, nodding in approval. “You look damn fine.” He smirked at Eren’s blush. Hey, I'm being honest here. 

  

Eren’s blushed flushed his whole face, all the way to his ears. “Okay, I wanna look to see if Dad’s boots and jacket fit, come with me.” Eren pulled on his hand and pulled him downstairs to the closet the coats and shoes were in. I wanna wear the steel toed ones!! 

  

Levi let Eren drag him downstairs, smiling just a bit at the happiness in Eren’s eyes as he spoke. He really is pretty fucking lucky. Levi stopped with him in front of the closet, helping him look for a jacket that’d go well with his outfit.

  

Eren picked out a nice heavy black jacket. The jacket had strips of teal green, which matched Eren’s eyes, bringing them out nicely. The strips were where all the seams should’ve been and covered them, fitting him nicely and Eren smiled as he put it on. Eren dug into the back of the closet, finding a smaller pair of Lathe’s steel toed boots. Probably an old pair. Eren slipped them on finding that they fit him perfectly, his smile running from ear to ear. Perfect fit. “How do I look?” Eren asked Levi in an almost seductive purr as he showed off his outfit.

  

Levi smirked, studying Eren’s form. “...Perfect .” Damn does he look good. “Let’s get going, cool? We’re taking Lathe’s Thunderbird.” He nodded to the door. “I'll grab the keys.”

  

Eren nodded and carefully went outside, the snow had even gotten onto the porch, forming a good layer of ice on the steps. He carefully took his first few steps down the icy driveway, getting closer to the car, looking up for a moment to look at the darkening grey sky, seeing the snow fall. It’s pretty. 

  

Levi looked over his shoulder as Lathe tapped him on the arm, pressing the keys into his hand.

  

“Have fun, Levi. But be careful driving- you have my son in the car.” Lathe looked to him with a proud grin, turning and walking back upstairs. They'll be fine. 

  

Levi quirked an eyebrow, smirking. “I will be, don’t worry.” He walked out the door, closing and locking it behind him, unlocking the car for the both of them. He started it, carefully backing out of the driveway before heading for the city, Eren fiddling with the music on his phone, plugged into the stereo. With their singing along to every song, time flew, and in no time they pulled up to the curb two doors down from Between the Walls. Good parking space. That’s luck right there. Levi killed the engine, pointing and announcing to Eren, “We’re here!”

  

“What’s this place?” He asked as they got out. Eren was still unfamiliar with the downtown area, having only been there once to pick up Blake. Well, it certainly looks crowded and popular… I guess that’s a good thing then? 

  

“This is the restaurant Erwin insisted we have our football party at last season, and I thought it was pretty nice. I think you'll like it.” I hope so. 

  

“Okay, sounds good.” Eren said, taking Levi’s hand and twining their fingers together. The tips of his fingers were already cold from being outside for only a few moments. They were the only thing not covered. His nose got a bit red as well, and it made him look even cuter. It’s cold, I wanna go inside. Eren noticed that they could see the wispy steam from their own breaths in the cold air.

  

Levi smirked, pulling him to the doors of the restaurant and holding it opening for them, immediately greeted by the loud chatter of people and a neatly-dressed hostess. “Reservation for Ackerman?” They were led to a table in the back corner of the restaurant, away from most of the noise and handed menus.

  

“Your server will be right with you. Can I get you two any drinks to start?” She pulled a pen and paper out of her apron.

  

“I’d l-like a hot tea please, Earl Grey if you have it.” Eren said and shed his jacket, rubbing his hands together to warm them up, breathing on them to try and see if that helped. They don’t feel any warmer. 

  

“The same.” Levi looked to Eren, noting how cold he was after just a moment outside.

  

“Alright, I'll bring those right over.” She scribbled their drinks onto her pad and walked off, disappearing into the fray.

  

Levi looked over to Eren’s red nose, then to his hands. Without another thought he reached over the table and held them, rubbing them to try and warm them. You’re freezing already. How does that even work? 

  

Eren smiled softly and thanked him, letting Levi warm his hands up before the hostess came back with their teas. Eren took his tea in his hands, warming them the rest of the way up. “Okay, now I haven’t been to a restaurant in a while… so… I don’t know what anything tastes like.” Eren reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his nausea pill, taking it and sipping his tea to help wash it down. How does this thing work? I mean I know they serve you, but what do I do? 

  

Hmmm… Levi quickly skimmed the menu. 90% of this or more, Eren isn't familiar with. “Well, first I'll just give you a rundown of how this all works. The waiter or waitress, whichever, will come over, introduce themselves, ask if we need more time to decide what we want, and we’ll probably say yes. They'll come back again after a few more minutes, and whenever we’ve decided what we want, we just tell them, they take the menus, and it’s all a waiting game from then on. As for what the different foods taste like… I can't exactly describe all that for you. I think you just have to pick one and hope for the best, though I think anything you can choose will be good.” Yeah, I dunno how to tell you what to get. 

  

“Hmmm… can you just get me whatever you think I’d like? I’m not really that picky of an eater… just nothing too sweet.” He told the other and smiled behind his mug, sipping at it quietly. There’s too many things to read, and I don’t exactly know what everything is in the descriptions either… It's better just to let him decide. I have no idea what the fuck we’re doing. 

  

Or that works. “Okay…” Levi trailed off, reading over everything and skipping around. There’s plenty to pick from… But of all the things to get, on your first real date, steak never fails. “Got it.” He set it down, picking up his tea and drinking, skimming the crowd for a moment. I forgot how many people come here. 

  

Eren looked around with him and almost seemed uneasy, seeing such a big crowd around them. He watched as someone came forward, a tall man had dark hair which was slicked back. He looked really buff, and smiled as he came up to them, almost instantly undressing Eren with his eyes as he came up to them.

  

“Hello, my name’s Gustav, I’ll be your server for this evening. Have you decided on what you would like to order? Or should I give you a few minutes?” The man’s voice was smooth and his smile close to intoxicating.

  

Eren swallowed hard and looked away from the man who was clearly trying to hit on him. He was really uncomfortable with the man undressing him with his eyes, looking up to Levi for help, he had no idea what to do. Levi, help! Please! Get him to leave! 

  

Levi had the man fixed with his coldest glare. “Yeah, my boyfriend and I would both like the steak, medium rare with a baked potato, butter only.” Levi rattled off their order quickly and thrusted their menus at him, trying to get this over with so the man could leave.

  

“Of course sir,” Gustav took the menus after writing down the quick order. “Could I interest you in an appetiser to start with?” He asked, his eyes flickering over to Eren’s lithe body every few seconds.

  

“No, thank you.” Just leave so you can stop making Eren uncomfortable. 

  

“Alright,   I’ll put this in for you guys, would you like waters with your teas?” He looked at Eren completely when he asked. He was ignoring Levi completely, trying to get Eren’s attention.

  

“Umm… yes please.” Eren said, looking down at his hands, trying not to scratch at his wrist with this man staring at him.

  

Gustav left after that, but he was certain to return. Eren looked up to Levi, putting his hands across the table and looked to him with pleading eyes to get him to hold them firmly so he wouldn’t scratch at his arms. Blake’s not here, I need you to fucking hold them, so do it dammit! 

  

Levi immediately took his hands, holding them firmly and giving them a quick squeeze in reassurance. “I'm sorry, that guy’s being really creepy.” We’re on a fucking date and he’s just going to creep all over this. Ugh. 

  

“It’s okay… there’s a lot of people.” Eren said, trying to keep his eyes locked onto Levi’s as the creep came back with waters for them. Eren completely ignored the man, his hands shaking in Levi’s hold. Fuck, calm down, Levi will beat him to a pulp if you freak out. Don’t freak out, calm down. 

  

Levi’s hands didn't leave Eren’s, thumbs running over his knuckles as he looked to the man setting down their water, obviously staring him down. I hope you've decided to fucking quit it. 

  

“Is there anything else I can get for you?” Gustav asked with his persistent smile plastered to his face. He was trying not to back away from Levi’s stare, struggling to hold his ground.

  

“No, thank you.” Levi answered for the both of them, unblinking. Give up. 

  

Gustav visibly swallowed hard before leaving. Eren seemed to calm down once the man left. I hope he doesn’t come back. I don’t want to see him again. 

  

Levi kept his hold on Eren’s hands, hoping the same thing. I wonder how long it’ll take for him to pass us off to another server. Or become mute. Or stop looking at Eren like a fucking pervert. Any would work. “You know, it's going to be crowded at the concert, more so than this. And you look uneasy… are you going to be alright, do you think?”

  

Eren thought about it and nodded. “Yeah, I just want you to be next to me, I don’t want another person trying to force themselves on me.” He murmured quietly to the other. I’ll be okay. I’ll be okay. Eren calmed down after a few more moments and was able to pull his hands away from Levi and sip at his tea.

  

Levi mirrored his actions, watching Gustav come out from the kitchens, tensing. What’s he up to. Levi followed him across the the room, stopping a waiter with sandy hair on their way to the kitchen, speaking to them quickly and quietly. They looked over to them, and the blonde nodded. They both carried on with their duties. Levi smirked triumphantly. Levi: 1. Fuckwad: 0. He returned to his tea.

  

Eren smiled down at his tea. “So, how close are we to the stage?” Eren looked up to Levi with curious eyes, still not knowing much about the whole ‘concert’ thing.

  

“We’re in the pit, meaning we’re in the area directly in front of the stage. So, really really close. But the pit is very crowded and loud. And there aren't any seats to be had.” Is that okay? I thought it'd be okay. 

  

Eren watched him, his eyes filling with more and more excitement if that was even possible. “Really? That’s cool, do you think we’ll be close to him? Oh my god that would be so cool!” Eren said and smiled more as he squealed quietly in excitement.

Thank god. Levi smirked. “We’ll be pretty close, most likely. I'd say no further than… Thirty feet at most? Like, no further than that wall over there.” He pointed to the other side of the narrow restaurant. So, pretty damn close. 

  

Wow, we’ll be so close, I wonder what it’ll be like? Levi’ll be able to see from between people… Right? Oh well, we’ll figure it out. I wonder what it will be like? He said it was gonna be loud, how loud? And how crowded? Eren nodded, he watched as a new server came up to them with their perfectly done steaks. He smiled kindly after setting them down in front of each of them.

  

“Is there anything I can get you? Refills for your teas?” He asked softly and sweetly.

  

Eren shook his head. “No, thank you.” Eren’s response was quiet, the mostly because he was distracted by the food that had been placed in front of them. What is this? How does one even attempt to eat this? “Uh… How does… Umm… How do you eat this?” Eren asked and looked up to Levi with a curious glare. What even is this? Is it meat? I’m assuming it’s edible… 

  

Levi quirked an eyebrow, a surprised look in his eyes. He doesn't know how to eat a steak? Um… how the fuck do you explain how to eat a fucking steak? “Uh, here. Watch me.” Levi picked up his fork in his left hand, his knife in his right, starting to cut off a piece slowly enough for Eren to follow. He stabbed the small enough piece with his fork, showing Eren. “You just kinda cut it into small enough pieces to chew, like this.” He popped it into his mouth. “And then you can eat it.”

  

“Huh?” Eren stared at the odd knife and for a few more seconds, “Wait, what? Why are you holding your fork in the wrong hand?” Eren asked. He was overly confused about this. Why are you holding the knife in your right hand? That’s where the fork goes…. Eren put the knife down and tried to cut the large piece of meat with the side of his fork, quickly getting frustrated when the action did nothing to break apart the steak.

  

That’s not exactly effective. “No, look, pretend you're holding a pencil instead of a piece of cutlery. So do that for the knife and the fork, and you hold the steak in place with the fork while you move the knife back and forth to cut the steak.” He showed him his grip on the knife. “Look how I'm holding it, and give it a go.”

  

Eren picked up the utensils as directed. How is this supposed to be any better? Eren had picked up the knife in his left hand, effectively holding the steak down with the fork in his right hand. He struggled to cut it, trying in vain to maneuver the knife over the meat. He makes it look so easy… What the fuck! 

  

Levi watched his plight for a few moments. Have you never used one of these things in your life? It's so fucking easy. ...Fuck it. He leaned over the table, tapping the spot on his plate next to the steak with his knife. “Here, let me.” He quickly started cutting up Eren’s steak for him, careful not to elbow their tea or water.

  

Eren watched Levi cut his steak. It only took him a few seconds to do the whole steak….. Well then… So I must look like a complete idiot in front of him then… that’s wonderful. Eren stared at his plate with a sullen look, his eyes no longer seeming to glitter as he slowly took his fork and stabbed a piece, raising it to his mouth. His eyes brightened back up again and he smiled happily. This is fucking delicious! 

  

Levi returned to his own steak, not missing the sad look Eren had before eating the steak. Huh. “I’ll teach you how to use a knife later. It’s kinda important to know. We’ll fix that.” He smirked. This steak is great! 

  

Eren nodded, his focus now completely shifted to the steak in front of him. He managed to clear his plate in a good amount of time, sipping at his tea occasionally. He finally finished and shifted his gaze to look up at Levi with his bright viridian eyes. He had a big smile on his face too. “That was delicious!” Eren said and smiled happily, taking another sip of his tea.

  

Levi looked up from his near-clear plate, smirking at Eren’s bright expression, staring into his eyes for a moment. He looks so happy! His eyes are shining. You know, they're really pretty… It was a great idea to bring him here. “I'm really glad you liked it, Eren.” He blinked, leaning back and sipping at his tea. “I'm full. As soon as I spot the waiter I'll wave him down…” Levi trailed off and looked over the restaurant, seeing their waiter a few tables over. He caught his eye, nodding. He came over to their table.

  

“Is there anything I can get you?”

  

“The check, please.” He watched him leave with a nod, checking his watch. 6:43. Plenty of time. Levi studied Eren’s happy expression over his mug, inwardly ecstatic. This was a wonderful way to start off the night. How is this our first date? You think we’d’ve done something before this. Dunno. This is an unconventional relationship. I'm not going to question it. 

  

Eren smiled down at his tea. “Thank you… I really mean it, this is fun.” Eren said and blushed looking at the bottom of the mug. I wonder what the rest of the night is going to be like? I hope there won’t be any other guys hitting on me… god that guy was a creep. 

  

He’s too fucking cute when he blushes. Levi nudged his foot under the table. “Of course. I'm glad you're enjoying it.”

  

Eren smiled more and watched the blonde waiter come back with the check. I hope it’s not too expensive. 

  

Levi picked up the check, opening it and trying to figure out the tip. Fuck, I'm absolute shit at math. That Gustav douche better not be getting any of this. But that other guy is cool. What was his name, anyway? He never really told us, I don't think. How the fuck do you figure fifteen percent? Meh. That looks about right. Levi scratched down a number to leave the total at an even number, fishing out his wallet and setting down three twenties, shutting it and placing it back on the table. He pushed out his chair a few inches. “You ready to go?”

  

Eren reached for his jacket and nodded, shrugging it back on, zippering it up and waiting for Levi to lead him out of the crowded restaurant. “Ready.” Eren’s voice was soft, and he was already shoving his hands into his coat pockets to attempt to keep them warm. I don’t want to be cold… but I’m gonna be fucking freezing as soon as we step outside… fuck. 

  

“Alright.” Levi rose, pushing his chair back in with his foot and stepping to lead them from the restaurant. “Do you want to walk to the Ballroom? It’s not too far and I don't know if I'll find a parking space if we try and drive down.”

  

Eren thought about it. “We can walk, if we’re not too far.” Eren said and zipped his jacket all the way up as they neared the entrance and could feel the cold air coming in as the door was opened. Fuck did it get colder outside? I mean the sun went down… but it feels like it took twenty degrees with it! 

  

Levi led their way, turning right as they exited. “It’s at absolute most a ten-minute walk. And we already have tickets so we won't be stuck waiting in some long line.” I hope. It’s fucking freezing. Levi stopped them at their car, opening the passenger door quickly. “Hold on a sec.” He reached in the space between the seat and the trunk, pulling out a green scarf and tossing it to Eren. He took a grey one for himself. And I thought Lathe was fucking crazy for bringing backup scarves everywhere. He wrapped his around his neck, slamming the door shut and locking it, continuing on their way.

  

Eren’s thank-you was soft, mostly muffled from the scarf he hurriedly wrapped around his face. He looked at his hands, already red from the cold air. Fuck… they’re already so cold…. I won’t be able to feel them soon… fuck! Eren hurriedly buried them into his pockets, trying to get them to warm back up again. He followed Levi, only two steps behind.

  

Levi looked over his shoulder, quirking an eyebrow. What’re you doin’ all the way back there? He reached back and tugged at Eren’s left sleeve, pulling his hand out of his pocket and twining their hands together, slowing to walk alongside him. Fuck, your hand is cold. It’s been all of a minute! He held on to his hand tightly, hoping his grasp brought him some warmth.

  

Eren shivered slightly as his hand was taken. He let Levi’s warm hand hold his own. He’s so warm…. It feels nice. I wish I could stay warm like that…. I don’t know if I’ll be able to feel my hands after this…. Eren stayed mostly quiet during their walk to the Town Ballroom, his hands still icy cold as they entered the venue. Fuck, I can’t feel my fingers… Shit, don’t let Levi know… shitshitshitshitshit. 

Levi let go of Eren’s hand once they got into the lobby, looking around at the people waiting around. He nodded over to the coat check, taking the tickets out of his pocket and making sure his jean pockets still had his phone and wallet before handing his over, the scarf in a sleeve.

  

Eren followed Levi around like a lost puppy. He could hear one of the opening bands already playing through one of the open doors at the end of the large hall they were in. Eren tucked his scarf into a pocket before he took it off and handed his jacket over as well. He looked adorable in his hoodie, and his bruises around his neck were still quite visible. So why are we giving them our coats? And is that the room we’re going into? With the loud music? Eren’s eyes wandered around the room looking at the many doors around the hall, adorned with musical paraphernalia.

  

Levi smirked at Eren’s collar of bruises, making sure to keep an eye on him as they stepped around swarms of people to the door. He handed the man guarding the door their tickets, taking the ripped stubs and holding his hand out to be stamped. He turned and waited for Eren, making sure he got his stamp before walking any further in.

  

Eren followed after quickly, seeing the room that they were entering, brightly lit worth various colors, the sound was immense, flooding his whole body, not just his eardrums. It's so loud… This is a concert? Eren made sure his grip was locked onto Levi’s wife beater, which nicely showed his badass tattoos. Well, they do make him look like a badass… Eren smiled softly and followed him through the throng of people towards the front. So many people, and apparently I’m an eye catcher… Eren looked around as they entered, seeing various guys with their eyes all on him, his grip tightening on Levi’s shirt in an instant.

  

Levi looked around as they headed for the pit, sending cold glares to anyone he caught ogling his boyfriend. We don't need repeats of what was going on at dinner. Keep away; He’s obviously taken. Levi guided Eren towards the pit, enjoying feeling the thrum of bass in his chest.

  

Eren felt the vibrations pound through his chest. It feels weird… But like in a good kind of way. Eren let Levi guide him, only to have his other hand tugged on, bringing them to a screeching halt. Eren’s head snapped back to see the owner of the hand currently wrapped around his wrist- a tall brunette man who seemed way too old to be looking at Eren was staring at him with a heavy look of lust.

  

“Are you from Tennessee? ‘Cause you're the only 10 I see. The name’s Nile. Nile Dok.”

  

Eren paled a bit at the man’s cringe-worthy attempt at flirting and struggled to pull his arm back from the man’s grasp. Levi, help, he’s got my wrist, it hurts! He’s grabbing it too hard... 

  

Levi turned to see why they stopped, barely able to keep from cringing at the godawful pickup line. Who the fuck does this bitch think he is? He fixed him with a deathly look, staring him down. “Hey. Dipshit. He’s taken. You can let him go now.” I don't want to have to wreck you. I'd get kicked out for that. 

  

The message didn’t seem to get across. Nile was still trying to hopelessly flirt with Eren. “Do you have a map? I just keep getting lost in your eyes.” Nile attempted to pull Eren closer, feeling the small wrist in his hand and wanting to get him away from the smaller man. He looked at the hickeys with distaste but it didn’t deter him.

  

That was so unbelievably shitty… Just stop. “Stop fucking hitting on my boyfriend. And let him go. He obviously doesn't want your fucking hands on his wrist. Back the fuck up.” If I have to I obviously will. But I also don't want to get blood on this shirt. Getting the stains out is a bitch. 

  

Eren’s eyes widened in pain when Nile’s hand closed even tighter around his wrist, he whimpered, his eyes fearful. He tried to get the attention of one of the security guards, finally getting one, and the burly man started to walk over.

  

Nile held his wrist tighter. “Which is easier? You getting into those tight pants or getting you out of them?”

  

Eren’s eyes hardened almost instantly, his other hand coming up and connecting with Nile’s nose with a sickening crunch, knocking the man down with the solid blow. Eren then fearfully retreated behind Levi as the security guard came to assess the situation. Fuck, what if Levi’s angry I punched him? Are they gonna make us leave? I think my wrist is bruised… I don’t think it’s broken, but only time will tell for that one. 

  

Levi was caught between anger and complete confusion. He’s gonna fucking die. But he’s unconscious on the floor. But… Did Eren fucking break his nose?! Levi watched as blood started streaming from Nile’s nose, stepping between Eren and his unconscious attacker, not even noticing the security guard until he spoke.

  

“Okay, calm down, what happened? I saw you punch this guy… But I don’t think I really need to escort you out, do I?” He asked and looked at Nile as the man was slowly coming back to reality.

  

Levi looked to Eren behind him, turning to address the guard. “This guy had my boyfriend by the wrist, and was making him seriously uncomfortable. He wouldn’t let go or stop harassing him no matter how much we both asked him to step off.” ...the fucking asshole. People need to stop making passes at Eren. It’s getting really fucking irritating. 

  

“Ah alright, so this guy’s at fault.” The guard easily picked Nile’s stunned form from the floor, throwing him over his shoulder and dumping him outside of the venue.

  

Eren watched the guard leave with him and sighed quietly, his attention back to his wrist. It’s already starting to bruise… Fuck, I hope it’s not broken. Eren’s finger slowly ghosted over the forming bruise, hissing from pain when he pressed too hard.

  

Levi gingerly took his wrist, inspecting it. “I don't think he broke it. It’s just a bad bruise. You gonna be okay?” I’m gonna need to really fucking watch for this sort of thing. I’m not letting you wander off. 

  

Eren nodded slowly. “Yeah, I’ll be okay.” Eren leaned down a bit and kissed Levi chastely on the lips. “Thank you.” Eren’s eyes were happy as he leaned forward to kiss Levi again, hopefully to get the other prying eyes to look away. Hmm, hopefully this will get them to look elsewhere. 

  

...Fuck it at this point. Levi kissed him back feverishly for just a moment, deciding that everything was already odd enough to warrant it. Maybe everyone will get the message and step off. He still broke their kiss early, turning their attentions back to the stage and getting as close as they could.

  

Eren followed Levi closely until they got right to the front of the crowd, keeping his backend pressed against Levi so he wouldn’t be grabbed. We’re literally right in front of the stage! He’s gonna be right in front of us!! Holy crap! 

  

We’re right in front! I'm surprised everyone let us pass them. He shifted, feeling Eren’s ass pressed against his hips. If that’s what it takes to keep him from being groped, go right the hell ahead. Levi smirked, his hands drifting to hold Eren’s hips possessively, waiting for the opening bands to finish their set.

  

The opening bands were pretty good. Eren smiled as he saw the stage crew starting to put up the set for Nate Ruess. “Levi how long do you think it’ll be?” He asked turning his head to look at him.

  

Levi thought for a moment. “...five minutes? Ten at most.” It won’t be too long. I wonder what song he’ll open with... 

  

Eren waited patiently, excited once he started to hear the Introduction of Grand Romantic He hummed along, tapping his foot. He’s coming out!! He’s coming out!! Eren jumped up and down excitedly as Nate Ruess stepped out from behind the curtain   singing ‘AhHa’, so of course Eren had to sing along with him.

  

Levi jumped with the beat, the energy Nate had instantly infectious. He moved against Eren, feeling the bass in his chest and singing right along with the words, not even able to hear his own voice with the sound so loud. He’s right fucking there! He’s not even ten feet from us!! 

  

Eren was having the best time of his life, he wasn’t panicking at all. This is so cool! Eren was so happy that he actually got to reach out and touch Nate’s hand as he kneeled down to touch a few people’s hands. He was so happy, singing song after song after song.

  

Nate ended ‘Slide,’ swaying as he took another drink from a red solo cup, going to the mic and holding onto it tightly, the audience quieting in an instant. “So, I never originally wanted to do a duet with Pink. She had written a wonderful song and I kinda liked it, but I didn’t think I was the right voice for it. She wouldn’t stop asking me to at least give it a shot, and I had walked into the recording studio singing something I just came up with in the car on the way there, because I had been listening to the radio and ‘We are Young’ had come on and I was so fucking sick of it at that point that I turned it off and just started thinking of random shit to sing so I was singing something and her expression let me know she was not going to let me get out of singing. We recorded it and it went alright, but the thing is, it’s a duet. I want to know if anyone wants to come up here and sing with me.” He grinned, licking his lips and scanning the now screaming crowd in the pits, more rushing into the back. He looked as near dead center a noirette was waving the arm of the smiling, embarrassed brunette in front of him. He looks thin enough to lift up here. “Come on up here, kid.” He knelt to the edge of the stage, helping him up onto the stage and leading him back to where another microphone had been placed next to his on the stage. He looked over to him, beaming. “What’s your name?”

  

Eren’s face was completely flushed, his whole body shaking in excitement. “E-Eren.” His voice stuttering from his adrenaline running through the roof. Holy shit, you’re gonna sing with him, calm the fuck down! Eren’s gaze landed back on Levi, seeing him smirk and his phone already out and recording the whole thing. Well I guess Lathe is gonna see this in the morning, wonderful. 

  

“And how old are you, Eren?” Hope you don’t stutter like that too much. You gotta sing! 

  

“I’m sixteen.” Eren smiled as he was able to calm his voice. He looked really hot standing there too, a feast for all eyes, and the girls were screaming for him too.

  

“You having fun, I hope?”

  

“Yeah, this is awesome, I’m having a lot of fun!” Eren seemed to brighten more as Nate continued to talk to him. His voice sounded throughout the whole venue, sounding like an angel’s.

  

I get the feeling you’re gonna do just fine. An easy look came over Nate’s face. “Well Eren, I think you’re about to have even more fun. Would you do me the honor of singing the part of Pink in ‘Just Give Me a Reason?’”

  

Eren’s eyes widened. “Really? I get to sing it with you?” Eren asked and he looked absolutely adorable as he asked that question even though he was already onstage. Oh my god is this really happening? 

  

“Hell yeah! You ready?” He nodded to the pianist behind them, the room immediately going silent as the first few chords thrummed through the speakers.

  

Right from the start 

You were a thief 

You stole my heart 

And I your willing victim 

I let you see the parts of me 

That weren't all that pretty 

And with every touch you fixed them” 

  

Nate turned from the mic, shouting to the backstage crews, still audible to the crowd. “Someone get this kid a record deal!” He’s fucking amazing! I should be listening to you on stage! 

  

Eren blushed as he heard Nate’s words, but continued to sing the rest of Pink’s part beautifully, the crowd going completely wild.

  

Now you've been talking in your sleep, oh, oh 

Things you never say to me, oh, oh 

Tell me that you've had enough 

Of our love, our love…” 

  

Fuck waiting, I wanna sing with him. Nate joined Eren in the refrain, smiling wide.

  

Just give me a reason 

Just a little bit's enough 

Just a second we're not broken just bent 

And we can learn to love again 

It's in the stars 

It's been written in the scars on our hearts 

We're not broken just bent 

And we can learn to love again” 

  

“I'm sorry I don't understand

Where all of this is coming from

I thought that we were fine

Oh, we had everything 

Your head is running wild again

My dear we still have everythin'

And it's all in your mind

Yeah, but this is happenin'” 

  

“You've been havin' real bad dreams, oh, oh

You used to lie so close to me, oh, oh

There's nothing more than empty sheets 

Between our love, our love 

Oh, our love, our love” 

  

Just give me a reason 

Just a little bit's enough 

Just a second we're not broken just bent 

And we can learn to love again 

I never stopped

You're still written in the scars on my heart

You're not broken just bent 

And we can learn to love again” 

  

Oh, tear ducts and rust 

I'll fix it for us

We're collecting dust 

But our love's enough 

You're holding it in

You're pouring a drink 

No nothing is as bad as it seems

We'll come clean” 

  

How the fuck did he hit that note?! I can’t hit that note! HOW?! 

  

Just give me a reason 

Just a little bit's enough 

Just a second we're not broken just bent 

And we can learn to love again 

It's in the stars 

It's been written in the scars on our hearts 

That we're not broken just bent 

And we can learn to love again” 

  

Just give me a reason 

Just a little bit's enough 

Just a second we're not broken just bent 

And we can learn to love again 

It's in the stars 

It's been written in the scars on our hearts 

That we're not broken just bent 

And we can learn to love again” 

  

Oh, we can learn to love again 

Oh, we can learn to love again 

Oh, oh, that we're not broken just bent 

And we can learn to love again” 

  

Eren took in a deep breath as they both finished the song without incident. Holy shit, I just did that! Eren looked over at Levi, who had an actual smile on his face as he recorded the whole thing.

  

Nate just looked at Eren as the audience exploded with applause. Holy fuck. He took a step closer to Eren so he could hear him. “After the show, do you think you could come backstage? I want to talk to you.” He grinned as Eren nodded. “Cool. You with anyone? I'll get you passes.”

  

“Yeah, with the guy who was raising my hand before, he’ll be standing with me.” He said and smiled, his whole face completely flushed. “Did I do okay?” He asked after and he seemed genuinely concerned that he would’ve sang horribly. I hope that was okay, I really don’t want to tarnish his image in the least.   

  

Are you serious? “Eren, I'm pretty sure you did better than me.” He shouted over to the crews again. “Can we have two backstage passes please? Do we have those?” He watched his guitarist take them from a stagehand and bring them over, taking them and giving them to Eren. “That voice of yours is going to get you places, Eren. Thank you so much.” He beamed.

  

Eren smiled even more. “Thank you, Mr. Ruess.” Eren said bashfully, clutching the back stage passes as he headed towards the edge of the stage to slide back down to Levi’s side, his eyes filled with happiness. “Levi, that really just happened, OMG!” Eren slipped down and hugged Levi close. Holy crap, that really just happened! 

  

Levi grinned, returning Eren’s tight hug. That was fucking amazing! “Eren, you were great! You sang beautifully! You're so lucky! And he gave you passes backstage! I can't believe it!” I can't fucking wait to tell Lathe all of this! 

  

“He said he wanted to talk to me after the concert…. Is that okay?” He asked, reclaiming his place against Levi as Nate began to sing again.

  

Levi pulled Eren close to him possessively, a small smile still on his face, his eyes bright. “Who the hell would I think I am to tell you no? Of fucking course! It’s Nate Ruess! It can only be good!” You are so fucking lucky. 

  

Eren blushed and smiled happily as Levi wrapped his arms around him. The concert lasted a long time; some people had started to shuffle out around 11pm. Eren waited excitedly for them to go back stage. I wanna see what he wants to say to me… I’m really curious…. What could it be? 

  

Levi watched as Nate finished his second round of encores, disappearing off the stage for good. I wonder what he wanted to talk to Eren about. We'll just have to see. He kept one arm wrapped around Eren’s waist after Nate walked off, nudging him gently in the direction of a door to the right of the stage, guarded by two members of security. “Come on, let’s go say hi to Nate. Get out the passes so they let us through.” Levi smirked. That really was the greatest thing that could have possibly happened. 

  

Eren took out the passes, his hands shaking in nervousness as he did so. Shit, I need to calm down, I need to calm down… Levi help, I need to calm down dammit! 

  

Levi took the passes from Eren’s shaking hands, tossing one of the two lanyards over Eren’s head, then bringing one around his own neck. He’s shaking with nerves… Levi rubbed Eren’s side with his thumb, sending him a reassuring look. “You don't have to freak out. I can only think that whatever Nate wanted to tell you is something good. Who knows what he has to tell you? But you did fabulously on stage, you know. Maybe it’s something about that. We’ll have to find out.” He lifted the tag on his lanyard to show to the guards, recognition crossing their faces as they saw Eren, moving to let them pass. He slowly guided Eren into the busy, dim halls of backstage, people running around with headsets and drapes of wires and binders of papers.

  

Eren held onto Levi with a shaking hand. One of the people running around spotted them and took them back towards a smaller room, where Nate was waiting for them. It’s okay Eren, don’t freak out, Levi’s here… Yeah but this is Nate Ruess we’re talking about- that is freak-out worthy! 

  

Nate grinned when he saw Eren, getting up off a stool and moving to greet them. “Hey, Eren! I'm glad you could come back. I need to tell you something very real. Your voice,” Nate Ruess sounded absolutely sure of his words. “...is going to get you places. I know it. You sang your half of the duet better than I did. If it’s cool, I'm going to talk to my producer, see if I can get you a contract if you're interested. He’d need a video of you singing though, so… I'll just give you my number.” He patted his pockets for nonexistent paper, then just reached out his hand. “Can I borrow your phone for a sec?”

  

Eren nodded hurriedly. He fished his phone out of his pockets, fumbling with the passcode a few times before handing him the phone with a blank contact space. Is this really happening? Like really? Levi I swear to god if this is a dream I don’t know what I'm gonna do. 

  

“Thanks.” Nate turned it sideways and tapped quickly, putting in his name and number. He handed it back to him. “Cool. If you could at some point send me a video of you singing- preferably with the best microphone you have on hand- I'll pass it on and see if I can get you a contract with someone. Alright?” He grinned easily. He’d definitely interest someone. 

  

Eren could only stare. He’s serious… I can’t believe it… He thinks I can sing that well? Eren looked down at his phone in disbelief, still unable to really process just what Nate was saying. Earth to Eren, he’s talking to you! Eren swallowed hard, opening his mouth, but finding himself at a loss for words. He nodded and looked over to Levi with wide eyes, as if asking him if this was really happening.

  

This is really happening. Levi’s arm tightened around Eren’s waist, practically beaming. His grey eyes were bright as they met Eren’s viridian ones. Holy fuck this is happening! I don't know how today went from creepy waiters to this, but it’s all real! 

  

Eren watched his reaction for a few seconds, quietly shifting his gaze in between the two of them. So does this mean I can trust him? Can I really trust him to do everything he says? Eren’s trust issues were quickly resurfacing as he pressed against Levi’s side.

  

He doesn’t look like he believes this is all happening. Or trusts me to do it. Either.    “I'm serious, Eren. You've got talent and I don't want it to go to waste. I'll do what I can to get you started.” Nate shifted his gaze to Levi, addressing him. “I'm sorry, I never got your name?”

  

“Levi.”

  

“Well Levi, do me a favor and make sure Eren gets around to sending me a video, cool?” His eyes were amused, looking between the two. When they both nodded, he beamed. “Alright. I'll talk to you guys later, maybe? There's still a ton of stuff we all have to do to clean up.”

  

Eren nodded and his shaking hand still had not left Levi’s shirt at all, he stared down at the phone with Nate’s contact information on it, his cellphone and email… did this really just happen? Or am I dreaming? “O-Okay.” Eren stuttered and his face flushed all the way to his ears.

  

“Thank you so much! Really, it’s a great thing, what you’ve just promised to do for Eren.” Levi spoke softly, his voice heavy with gratefulness. He rubbed Eren’s side, reassuring him. This just happened. 

  

Eren’s eyes still held disbelief. Can I really trust him? Levi must think I can… But I don’t understand. I can’t sing that well… do I? Grisha always said I had a horrible voice. What will Dad think? I don’t have any recording equipment or anything to even attempt to try this. Eren looked down at his hands, hiding his face, swallowing hard as he tried not to scratch at his wrists again. He was so nervous about this. And Nate probably fucking knows that I’m a freak…. Gaeh, I want to scratch, Levi, I don’t know what to do. 

  

“It’s all up to you whether or not you go through with this. I think you could get a contract. Easily. But if it freaks you out, you don’t have to send me anything by tomorrow, say. That’s not how this works. Whenever you want, send me something. Or not.” He raised his hands in surrender. “Either way, it’s your call. But I’d give it a shot.” He smiled. “I’ll talk to you later, alright? I shouldn’t keep you any longer. It’s late as fuck.”

  

Eren looked up to him. “I… I don’t have a microphone or any recording equipment at home.” His voice was quiet, his hand still clutching onto Levi’s shirt.

  

Levi spoke before Nate could. “I’m pretty sure Lathe could either dig something out of that office of his, or get you something new. With that voice, you were bound to want or need one at some point anyway.” He smiled. I know Lathe would have no problems spoiling you with the best recording equipment you wanted. 

  

Eren thought about it and nodded. “Okay, that sounds good.” Eren nodded and leaned against Levi’s side. It's really late, and I’m exhausted. I hope Levi’s okay to drive. It's probably freezing outside too… Great. 

  

“Alright, we’ll get going. Thank you again, so much.” Levi gently tugged Eren to the door. You’re exhausted. Let’s get home. They walked back through the halls, past the stage and to the coat check, Levi paying the man and helping a very sleepy Eren put his coat on and wrap his scarf around his neck. He put on his own before they walked outside, the air cold as ice. Fuck it’s cold. He kept one arm securely wrapped around Eren’s waist, opening the car door for him after their ten-minute walk and hopping into the driver’s seat, immediately starting up the heater.

  

Eren looked at his hands. They’re frozen again. “Levi, I can’t feel my fingers…” He trailed off as he flexed them, touching his own fingers and feeling nothing but numbness. That can’t be good. 

  

Levi, about to pull from the curb, put the car back in park in an instant. He reached over for Eren’s hands, rubbing them to try and warm them up. Your hands literally feel like they’re frozen. He waited until they didn’t feel like ice, running his thumbs over the knuckles and kissing the top before letting them go, returning to pulling from the curb, setting off in the direction of home. He grew more and more curious about the silence of the car, accustomed to Eren’s usual singing or chitchat. He’s probably just thinking about everything that’s happened. A lot has gone down in not too much time. He pulled into the driveway a half hour later, looking over to Eren. ... Aaaand he’s out. He’s not gonna wake up, is he. I need to carry him. Ugh. Levi opened the door and closed it as quietly as he could, going around to unbuckle Eren and lift him from the seat. He hip-checked the door shut, keys in hand as he approached the front door, about to try and open it when Lathe opened it for them, smiling fondly at Eren asleep in Levi’s arms.

  

“I take it everything went well?” Lathe stepped aside to let them enter, closing the door behind him and leading them to the door to the basement. He kept his voice down, wanting to let Eren sleep. That’s the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. 

  

“I’ll tell you about it later. Right now I’m tired, and Eren is getting heavy.” Levi stepped down the first step, turning to look at Lathe over his shoulder. “I need to talk to you in the morning, cool? A lot of stuff went down. And thanks for letting me borrow the car.” He gave him a small smile, turning to watch his feet as he picked his way down the basement stairs.

  

“Of course. G’night.” Lathe shut the door behind them, padding upstairs to his own room, stretching his arms over his head with a yawn. It’s half past midnight. I need sleep. 

  

Levi walked over to the bed, setting Eren gently down. He went to unlace his boots, placing them on the floor at the foot of the bed. He slid him out of his jacket and unwound the scarf from his neck, pulling his hoodie over his head and unbuttoning and pulling off his jeans, leaving him in his shirt and boxers. He didn’t even stir. He’s out cold. Levi himself stripped to his shirt and boxers, sliding under the covers next to him, wrapping around him.

  

Eren curled up to the warmth, his body was still oddly cold, especially his hands. The boy hadn’t moved besides getting closer to Levi, and he slept like that the whole night, not moving at all. He didn’t even wake up first, and didn't even move when Levi slid out from under him in the morning.

  

Levi untangled himself from Eren, trying not to wake him. He stood and looked at Eren for a moment, smiling gently. I’ll let him sleep. He walked over to his side of the bed, pressing a kiss to his forehead and walking to the stairs. He closed the door quietly behind him, padding to the kitchen where Lathe was skimming through a book, coffee of course in hand.

  

Lathe looked up, placing his chocolate coffee on the table and closing his book, turning to Levi. “You wanted to talk to me?”

  

Levi nodded going to fill the kettle with water to get tea ready. “Yeah…. We need to get Eren some good recording software, along with a really good microphone.” Levi sat down at the table to wait for the water to heat up.

  

Lathe quirked an eyebrow at him. “What are you getting on about? Why the sudden interest?”

  

“Well, after getting hit on by two creepy ass guys, and I’m pretty sure Eren broke the second guy’s nose… ‘Cause he was on the floor before I could touch him… we got pretty close to the stage and Nate Ruess ended up singing that duet he did with Pink… And long story short, Eren was pretty much picked up and he got to sing it with him… So now Nate wants Eren to send him a good video of him singing so that he can talk to his producer about it.” Levi got up when the kettle whistles and began to pour it into his mug quickly.

  

Lathe was deathly silent, his eyes wide. He looked at Levi, then over the floor. What. The. Fuck. “...are you serious?”

  

“Completely.” Levi said and sat back down with his mug filled with tea. “You wanna see?” Levi was already fishing for his phone in his pocket. He’ll probably wanna see this. I don't know if he knew Eren could hit that high note. 

  

Lathe watched the video with wide eyes, his gaze impossibly intense. That’s… that’s Eren on stage. And he sounds amazing! He can hit a note that high?! He watched as he was handed backstage passes, the crowd absolutely wild. “You two got to go backstage and meet Nate Ruess??” Lathe looked ecstatic. That’s the greatest thing ever! 

  

Levi nodded. “Yeah, so Eren’s gotta get recording things to send to Nate, he gave him his number, so he can send it to him. He said to use the best mic he had available to him.” So I take it Lathe's on board with this already? 

  

Lathe looked up at him, then off in thought. “Well, the only mics I have are attached to headphones I bought years ago… It’s a good thing amazon exists!” He grinned. He’s getting whatever he needs. Or wants. Both. We haven’t really been using Sue’s old room anyway... 

  

“Hmm, you’re going to spoil him rotten again aren’t you?” He asks quietly before sipping at his drink. Wonder how much he’s gonna get him this time. 

  

“Oh yeah.” Lathe grinned, picking up his mug. “Can I go stalk the internet for microphones and stuff now?”

  

“Am I allowed to join you? Also you should probably make cinnamon rolls, it’ll get you back in the basement quicker, I’ve learned.” Levi smirked as he set his cup down.

  

Lathe put down his mug, standing. “That’s a great idea! Cinnamon rolls! And then we can go on the internets!” Lathe rifled through the fridge for cinnamon rolls, and in less than half an hour they were eating rolls over Lathe’s laptop at the kitchen table, scrolling through amazon and reading description after description of microphone specs.

  

Eren had woken up alone on the air mattress downstairs. He groaned, looking around for his clothes. Did Levi bring me down here? I remember... falling asleep in the car? I don’t remember getting home . Eren found his pants and shimmied them on after he heard footsteps upstairs and smelled cinnamon rolls. “Ten points to Lathe.” So Eren wrapped himself in a blanket and came upstairs, rubbing his eyes at the bright light pouring into the house. Fuck it’s bright. I want cinnamon rolls though. Eren yawned as he walked to sink to get his nausea pill. “Mornin’” Eren yawned, taking the rest of the hot water to make his own tea.

  

“Good morning!” Lathe grinned, eyeing Eren’s bed head with amusement.

  

Levi smiled, getting up and wrapping his arms around Eren’s waist from behind, leaning his chin on his shoulder. “Good morning Eren.” I’m smiling more than I ever really have. Huh. 

  

“What the hell, why are you guys so happy… It’s too fucking early… Levi, you're smiling, you never fucking smile what the hell is up with you two?” He asked as he picked up a large roll, smiling as he took a first bite.

  

Levi stood on his toes, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “I just had a lot of fun yesterday. Last night was really nice. And you sang wonderfully and we met Nate Ruess… and you could really go somewhere with your voice. It was great!” So much has happened, and it was all wonderful. How can I not be happy? 

  

“Levi, it wasn’t that good, and I don’t have any equipment to even make a video. I wouldn’t even know what song to pick!” Eren said pushing Levi away playfully with both his hands only to pull back his left wrist immediately. “Shit.” He whispered quietly, cradling his bruised wrist. Eren looked down at his wrist. I think it actually might be broken… Shit… 

  

Lathe glanced over as Eren swore, noticing the way he gingerly held his wrist. Uh oh. He turned from the laptop to better face Eren, holding out his hand. “Eren, your wrist hurt? Can I see it?”

  

“Ah… Yeah.” Eren slowly and carefully held out his horribly colored wrist, he hadn’t noticed how much his wrist had swelled up, giving it an odd look around his thin limbs.

  

Lathe looked stunned and immensely worried, cradling Eren’s wrist and looking at it for barely a second before he stated, “It’s busted. To bruise and swell that badly, it’s not going to be an easily set break, either. Let me run and get changed. We’re going to get you to a doctor who can set that for you. You’ll be fine dressed the way you are, but have Levi help you with shoes and a hoodie. I’ll be two seconds.” Lathe let go of his wrist and got up to rush upstairs, changing quickly and grabbing for the car keys from the dresser… which were not there. Lathe froze, thinking. Oh. Right. Levi had them. He scampered down the stairs, looking for Levi.

  

Levi and Eren were in the front room, getting Eren into his boots, and he was now wearing a hoodie, though the boy didn’t look happy. “Is this really necessary?” He asked, quickly getting irritated, which led Blake to hop up onto the couch and calm him down. “It doesn’t really hurt that bad!” Eren persisted.

  

“Eren, it looks horrible. We need to get you to someone who can help.” Levi tied the laces tightly, moving to sit next to him on the couch, wrapping an arm around him. “I don’t know how you didn’t even notice it.” Seriously. How did you not notice? It looks ridiculously painful. 

  

“Levi, it doesn’t hurt, really, I don't want to go to the hospital to get it checked out, it doesn’t really bother me! Please! I don’t want to go!” Eren pouted, petting Blake with his right hand. I don't want to go to get it set, because it’s probably too broken to set… I don’t want it to have another surgery… God no. 

  

Lathe sat down on Eren’s left, looking at his wrist with extreme worry. “Eren, your wrist is busted very badly, probably dislocated, and I’m not about to let you go without at least a cast. Whether or not you feel it doesn’t matter. We need to get you to a doctor, now. Please. Let’s go.” He patted Eren’s knee, standing. “Levi, you have the keys?”

  

Levi reached into his pocket with his right hand, tossing him the keys. “Here.” He gently leaned over and gave Eren a peck on the lips, pulling him to his feet. “We just want you to be okay. It’ll be fine. We’ll bring Blake with us.” He let his arm slide from Eren’s waist, going to the kitchen to retrieve Blake’s vest, securing it in place. He took Blake’s leash in his right hand, immediately pulling Eren back against him with his left, feeling protective of him. “Come on, let’s go, okay?” Let us make sure you’re okay. 

  

Eren sighed, “Alright, fine, let's get this over with.” Eren let them all pile into the car. Eren found himself in Levi’s lap, shivering from the outside cold air. Blake sat between Levi and Lathe, and he car ride was fairly quick to an Orthopedics Building about 15 minutes from their house. Which of course, when they entered, Lathe just had to know the lady at the front desk.

  

“Hey ‘Desce! That’s my son Eren and his boyfriend Levi. Eren busted his wrist and someone needs to check it out.”

  

She stared at Lathe with wide brown eyes, a dark brown lock of hair with the ends dyed purple falling into her face. She was deathly silent for a few seconds, her face neutral until she exclaimed “What?” ...You have a SON? Since when?! 

  

WHAT!? ” Eren’s eyes were wider than dinner plates. Did he just call me his son?! Is that really what he just fucking said!? 

  

Lathe looked back to Eren, smiling mischievously. “What? You two are obviously together. I wouldn’t think it’d be a problem to say it.” He turned back to Iridesce. “I adopted Eren a few weeks ago. I thought I’d told you?”

  

She quirked an eyebrow, still shocked. “...You most certainly did not mention it in your Christmas card. I haven’t heard it from anyone. But that’s great!” She beamed, tucking her long hair behind her ear. “So Eren’s wrist is broken?”

  

Lathe’s smile dimmed, his mouth a serious line. “Shattered would probably be a better word for it. Most likely dislocated too. It needs at least to be set, or more if that’s not enough.” He leaned on the front counter, watching as Desce tapped quickly on her computer keyboard.

  

“Alright. I know you know what you’re talking about. I’ll see how soon we can get an x-ray done… I think we have a place in… less than an hour? Someone cancelled an appointment, and if everyone else was at least sort of on time, you’ll get in without too much of a wait.” She smiled. “You can have a seat over there. There’s a bunch of magazines everywhere, so you should be pretty occupied for a bit. If anything earlier comes up I’ll call you up first.”   

  

“Thank you so much. Don’t I need to fill something out? I mean, Eren hasn’t been here before yet or anything.”

  

“Yeah, let me print out the forms you need.” She tapped on her keyboard, clicking away and handing him forms on a clipboard in no time. “Do you need a pen? Or do you still carry ten around with you?”

  

“I’ve got it.” He grinned, reaching into his coat pocket and ushering Eren and Levi into the waiting area. “Let’s sit down. It might be a while.”

  

Eren nodded and looked to Lathe as they sat down. “So why were you guys all happy go lucky this morning?” He asked, shifting his gaze over to Levi before reaching out to pet Blake and turning his focus to the dog. I couldn’t have sung that well… I don’t understand why Nate would even offer me something like that. I can’t even record anything. All I would be able to do would be a phone recording. 

  

“Levi showed me the video of you singing with Nate Ruess onstage last night.” Lathe beamed at him. “You were so fabulous up there I can’t even tell you. It was seriously impressive. I heard that he’s going to try and get you a contract. That’s huge!” He split his attention between the papers in his lap and Eren. That… I can’t even begin to believe it! 

  

“Lathe, I can’t really sing that well…. I can’t really…. I don’t know why he said that…” Eren trailed off, keeping his   attention on Blake as he pet him. He looked around and he saw two young women sitting across the room from them, whispering and point at him. When the women noticed he was looking, they blushed and giggled. Why are they giggling and blushing? I don’t get it…. Eren watched as one of them came over to see him.

  

“You aren’t by any chance Eren? The guy who went and sang with Nate Ruess last night?” She asked quietly, her eyes full of hope.

  

“Uhh…. Yeah, I am…. Can I help you?” Eren asked, confusion clearly written across his face, his confusion furthering when the woman squealed and waved the other woman over.

  

“Could we get a picture with you? And maybe an autograph?”

  

Wait, what? Eren was at a loss at how to respond as the other woman came up to them. “Oh My Gosh! It’s really you! I can’t believe it!” The woman was so excited to even see him. Wait, are they serious right now? Eren looked over at Levi. What do I do? 

  

Levi just nodded, his eyes bright. He’s famous already. That’s really cool. He nudged him, standing. “Go ahead- I’ll ask Desce for paper.” She should have enough to fork some over. He walked to the front desk.

  

Eren stood up and he got in between the two young ladies, who preceded to take pictures with him, mostly selfies, though they did ask Lathe to take a few pictures of them together. Blake was in those pictures, with his leash in Eren’s good hand. The women were smiling and excited the whole time, already voicing their plans to post the pictures of facebook. Facebook? What is that? 

  

Levi came back from the desk and handed them two sheets of paper, Lathe letting Eren use the clipboard to sign his name.

  

Eren signed his name neatly on both sheets of paper and the ladies giggled happily giving him one last hug before they were called back for their appointment. Eren just watched from where he stood, completely stunned. “Um… what’s a facebook?” Eren asked innocently as he stood there. And what just happened? Do they think I’m a celebrity or something? If they do, they are sorely mistaken. 

  

Lathe took back his clipboard, but had to consciously make an effort not to drop it at that question. ...HOW? “How… Facebook is this website where people put up photos of themselves and little snippets about their daily lives, and pretty much anyone can see what you put up on your profile, or ‘Wall,’ as it’s called.” I need to get you a PC you can actually use, dammit. 

  

“So… they’re going to post those pictures of themselves with me…. And other people will be able to see it?” Eren asked and sat down as he tried to process everything that was currently happening. “But why would they want to post about me? And why did they ask for my signature?” He asked. Eren knew close to nothing on social norms or even what fangirls were… but he obviously had two already.

  

Levi looked at Eren incredulously. “You got up on stage last night and sang a kickass duet with Nate Ruess. They wanted your signature and a photo to post because they obviously attended the concert and loved your singing. That was a big thing that went down yesterday. You already have fans!” I just hope I don’t have to fight off    too many fangirls in the times to come. 

  

“Okay… but… is it already on this facebook? Did people post videos or pictures of me already?” He asked quietly, facebook was his only concern for right now… but what he really needed to worry about was Youtube and Twitter. Especially Nate Ruess’s twitter.

  

Levi already had his phone out, checking YouTube. Lathe got his out to check twitter. His eyes widened. “I typed in your first name and there are hundreds of results coming up. Twitter, instagram, youtube, facebook, tumblr… everything.” Holy Shit. 

  

Levi looked up from his phone. “Someone from Nate’s crew got the whole thing on video and put it up… it’s got 2 million views and climbing.” Levi just stared at Eren in complete disbelief. ...oh my god. 

  

“Wait… WHAT? 2 million people have seen it!?” Eren’s eyes were widened in shock. “And what is a twitter? And a youtube? You said a couple more, but what the hell are they?” Eren asked his eyes switching between the two of them to get answers from either of them.

  

Lathe started to rattle them off, counting on his fingers. “YouTube is a website where people post videos of all sorts of stuff, like music, home videos, anything, really. Instagram is this app where you post pictures of stuff from your day with captions explaining what’s going on. Tumblr… the pictures you post can be drawn or taken and pertain more to fandoms and followings of people. A fandom is the term for the fanbase of a specific thing, like a show or person. There are a few more, but those are the big ones. And you’re an absolute hit! The internet has officially gone cray.”

  

Ummm…. What? People are actually talking about me? Eren seemed at a loss for words… one of the technicians came to get him for an x-ray, pretty early, but things were going quickly, so the room was free. Eren stood quietly, Blake at his side.

  

“I’m sorry hun, but your dog needs to stay out here. If you need to bring someone with you, you can, but the dog can’t go in the x-ray room.” The old woman watched as Eren gave Lathe Blake’s leash and brought Levi back with him.

  

Eren followed quietly behind the woman, answering questions about the pain he was feeling so Eren told her honestly. “It’s just annoying when I put weight on it or pressure behind it, but besides that I didn’t even notice it.” I don’t think Lathe was right when he said it was shattered. 

  

The old woman nodded and got his wrist ready for the x-rays, after putting the lead aprons on them. She wasn’t prepared for what she saw on the first picture. Eren’s wrist was dislocated, completely separated from the point it should’ve snugly fit into… and his wrist really was shattered. She sighed, going to reposition his wrist to get a few more pictures so she could get an accurate picture of all the pieces of shattered bones above the dislocation. The lady took the pictures and moved them to his file, telling them to go back out to the waiting room. “You’re wrist is horribly dislocated, and the bones above your wrist are completely shattered, hun. You’re most likely gonna need surgery, and probably some pins.” She told them as she led them out of the room.

  

Lathe had finished the paperwork by the time they came back out to the waiting room, and was showing Desce the video of Eren singing on his phone. He looked up, immediately addressing them. “How bad is it?”

  

Eren looked down, his face was still pale as he cradled his shattered wrist, still distraught about the outcome.

  

“Well, you were right. It is shattered, and his wrist is completely dislocated… I don’t know how you can’t feel it Eren.” Levi shook his head as they reclaimed their seats.

  

Lathe winced, taking his phone back and stowing it in his pocket. “Desce, work your magic for me. Can you get us an appointment to fix up Eren’s wrist?”

  

“I’m already on it. There’s an opening later today. I’ll put this in as a procedure to be done as soon as possible.” She clicked twice, a grin cracking across her face. “Oh, you’re going to like this. Guess who’s open today?”

  

Now what? “...who?”

  

“Dr. Scott Octavian.”

  

“You’re joking.” Lathe’s eyebrows disappeared behind his black hair.

  

“I am not. He’s got nothin’ going on at around two this afternoon. I’ll put you in. That alright?”

  

“Uh, of course! I heard he decided to become a doctor, but I didn’t know what the specifics were.”

  

“He’s a surgeon.” Desce booked the appointment and looked up to Lathe’s worried face. “It’s a shattered wrist. I’d be shocked if they put a cast on it and left it. He’s at the hospital a couple miles down the road, further south. You know the one?”

  

“Yeah.” Lathe pushed himself off the desk. “Thanks Desce. And someone needs to tell me these things. I thought that was what the whole Christmas card exchange was for.” Apparently that sort of stuff isn’t note-worthy. Apparently. 

  

“...Just like how you didn’t mention you have a son now?”

  

Lathe blushed, glaring at her. ... Roasted. “It had been a month, Desce. It was a weird, intense, I-don’t-even- know month. But I probably should have mentioned that.”

  

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

  

A few hours later, the four of them had piled back into the car to head to the hospital where Eren’s appointment was. They were called into Dr. Octavian’s office a half hour before Eren was scheduled for surgery so he could talk with them about how the surgery would go.

  

Eren was nervous, gripping onto Blake’s leash as they walked through the white hallways. Why did I need to have surgery? Why? I don’t want to have them open my skin… It’ll bleed…. What if I bleed out? What happens if they can’t be fixed? Millions of thoughts were running through his head as they got closer to the doctor’s office. What happens if I can’t use it again? What happens if I can’t play the piano. Eren stopped in his tracks as the thought crossed his mind. No! That can’t happen! I need to be able to play piano! I can’t do this! I can’t! Eren was starting to freak out until Blake got hold of his good hand to bring him back to reality. I can’t do this Blake, I’m too scared! Eren took a few steps back from the direction they were heading, and Blake whined as he held Eren’s hand in his mouth still. No, I can’t do this Blake… Lathe I can’t do this… I don’t want to go into surgery.

  

Lathe turned as he heard Blake whine, taking in the panic on Eren’s face, flitting past his eyes. This isn’t going to go over easily. Lathe walked back to them, putting his hand on Eren’s shoulder and gently pulling him along, speaking softly. “You don’t have to worry, Eren. Scotty’s a great doctor and you’re going to come out of surgery as good as new. Swear it. Let’s just go to talk to him right now, and we’ll know exactly what’s going to happen and if there isn’t anything we can do to make this go smoothly, okay?”

  

Eren swallowed hard but nodded. He was quiet, sticking mostly to Lathe’s side since he knew that Lathe knew about what Grisha did to him in the basement. He knows… He can help… Lathe can help, he knows the doctor… Eren was struggling to calm himself as they entered the room and Blake was still whining about it as they sat down.

  

They hadn’t been sitting for more than a minute waiting when a wiry man with light brown hair walked in, skimming over a paper on a clipboard and consciously avoiding the top of the doorframe. He looked up to them and grinned, beaming when he spotted Lathe. “Hello!” He put the papers on the counter, coming over to shake their hands, giving Lathe a fistbump. “I’m Doctor Scott Octavian, and you two must be Eren and Levi? Desce told me a bit about you two. It’s nice to meet you.” He looked to Lathe with a mock accusing look. “How dare you not tell me you had a son?”

  

“I’m sorry! Yeesh, it’s been a cray month, but yeah. That’s a thing. And you need to stop being taller than me.”

  

“Can’t do much about that, Lathe. Sorry.” I’m not really sorry. He smiled good-naturedly, returning to business. “Alright, so I was told Eren’s wrist was shattered. Could you tell me how that happened?” His looks softened as he addressed Eren.

  

“Ah, we were at a concert last night… And there was this guy… He grabbed my wrist and tried to get me away from Levi, and his grip kept getting tighter and I felt it snap, but I didn’t think it was shattered, ‘cause it didn’t hurt that much…. But I knocked him out and gave him a bloody nose for it.” Eren had to pet Blake to keep himself calm as he told Scott, and it was the first time Lathe knew what exactly happened too. Hmm, he deserved the bloody nose, he didn't even have good pick up lines. 

  

Levi reached his arm over Eren’s shoulders, trying to keep him calm. Please don't freak out. Please don’t. We need to go through with all this and get you better. 

  

Scott picked up on Eren’s discomfort and studied Blake for a moment, understanding. Ah. This isn’t going to be easy for anyone here, is it? “That would definitely do it, with a strong enough grip. I can’t really explain how you didn’t feel the pain from the bone breaking, though. I hope I can alleviate some concern; this is a very run-of-the-mill procedure you’re asking me to do. Plates and pins are definitely necessary, but there’s very little risk of complication. Recovery will be a breeze as long as you don’t rush it. You’d be in a cast for about six weeks, then after two more you would be 100% good to go. Do you have anything specific you want to ask me about how everything will go?”   

  

“Do I need to be knocked out?” He asked and held onto Blake tightly as the dog jumped up into the chair to calm him down. If he does… I won’t be able to do this… I’ll have an attack… I can’t…. I don’t want to have another one. 

  

“You do. We need to keep you from moving during the procedure and from feeling any discomfort or pain.” He looked to Lathe, who had a very worried look on his face. There’s something I don’t know… It’s not my business, though. Not in it’s entirety. “I’m sorry, but it’s necessary. And I can’t let you bring your dog into the room during surgery. It could compromise our ability to perform appropriately and the sterile environment.”

  

Eren’s grip tightened around Blake. The dog knew that Eren was gonna have an attack if this persisted so he was already clambering off of Eren’s lap and pulling the boy to the floor and getting ready to ground him. Nononononono…. I don’t want it out! I don’t want it out! Eren’s mind was in a complete wreck at the thought of being put under again. Blake had already started to ground Eren, a sure sign that this was not going well with Eren, and already starting to bring up painful memories. I don’t want it out! 

  

Lathe leaned forward, about to go down with Eren and help him, but Levi was already there, cradling him and muttering in his ear. What could we do? His eyes widened as a thought crossed his mind. “What if I was there with him?” Lathe looked at Scott intensely, who had backed up to give Eren room. “I could be of use. And I could help keep him calm. He needs to have this done.”

  

Scott looked to Eren, to Levi, and back to Lathe. “It’d be a crime not to try and fix his arm. And we could use an extra set of hands. Alright. I’ll show you where you need to go and get properly dressed later. Right now, um…” He looked to Eren again. I don’t know how to properly deal with this… Um… I’ll just let Levi and their dog handle it, I guess… 

  

Eren calmed down after a few minutes of Blake and Levi by his side. He seemed a little lethargic after his attack, but that was to be expected. I’ll be okay if Lathe’s with me… I won’t freak out if he’s there. Eren was soon taken by nurses to get dressed for his operation and was helped onto a stretcher, waiting to be called into the operating room.

  

Eren, though he was still out of it from his earlier attack, felt overcome with worry when a surgical team came to wheel him into the operating room. What are they doing? Where are we going? I don’t see Lathe and I want him to be here and he said he’d be here for me where is he… Eren felt one of the team tap his shoulder, looking up behind him to his left to see Lathe, grinning from behind a blue mask, wearing scrubs.

  

I didn’t bail, don’t worry. I’ve got you. Lathe kept pace with the rest of the team, acting as the Operating Room Nurse. When they entered the dark room and positioned Eren under spotlights, he saw fear bloom across Eren’s face again. He rested his hand on Eren’s arm. “You don’t have to worry about a thing, Eren. We’ll take good care of you.” He helped drape Eren and sterilize his arm. He watched as Scott spoke to the anesthesiologist, giving them permission to put in the IV. Lathe stepped to Eren’s other side for a moment, holding onto his hand. You’ll be fine. Out like a light before you can count to ten. 

  

Eren barely felt the IV being inserted into his arm. His gaze was focused on Lathe for all but three seconds before his eyes started to close. This stuff works quick…. Eren was knocked out without incident for the whole 1 hour procedure.

  

Everything went off without a hitch. Lathe handed Scott everything he needed and called for, putting in metal plates and pins, reassembling Eren’s bones and stitching the wound back up. Eren was taken to a room where they waited for the anesthesia to wear off, Lathe getting out of his scrubs and sitting by his bed with Levi on the other side with Blake. They were both on their phones looking up recording stuff and debating their findings when Eren started waking up.

  

Eren’s eyes cracked open slowly. Shit… What happened? My body feels like lead. Eren looked up to the white ceiling and almost instantly started to freak out because he didn’t know where the hell he was, struggling to sit up. Blake jumped up on the bed and licked at his face to calm him down.

  

Lathe immediately put down his phone, taking hold of Eren’s right hand. “Eren don’t you worry, it’s Lathe, and you’re in the hospital. You just woke up, and the operation was a complete success. You don’t have to panic.” He rested his other hand on his shoulder, prepared to hold him down if needed. You can’t move too much. The medicine is still working it’s way through your system and we can’t have you overdoing anything. 

  

Eren looked up at Lathe and around the room silently. He opened his mouth to try and speak, but his mouth was too dry to even get a few words out, so he opted to nod. He laid back down on the hospital bed and let Blake come and lay right up with him. So my wrist is okay then? Eren lifted his left arm to find it wrapped in a white cast. Huh…. I would’ve picked green but oh well. I’m making him get me a pack of Sharpies then. 

  

He could use water. Lathe reached over to the bottle of water and the glass on the table next to them, filling it and handing it to him. “I didn’t know what color you’d want your cast, so I got you white. Easier to doodle on.” He gave him a mischievous grin.

  

Eren sipped at the glass and nodded. “Sharpies.” Eren croaked out before sipping more at the water. I need sharpies to be able to do that Lathe… What will people think at school? Eren looked over to Levi to see what he was doing, finding him engrossed in his phone. What’s he doing? 

  

“I’ll get you plenty of Sharpies. As long as you let me help you decorate it.” He followed Eren’s gaze. Riiiiight. We haven’t done much talking about recording stuffs. “Earth to Levi, the bf’s awake.”

  

Levi put down his phone, giving him a small smile. “Sorry ‘bout that. We were both looking up microphones and such for you while you were still out. How’re you feeling?” Hopefully not like shit. 

  

“Weird.” Eren said quietly as he sipped at his water. “Why… Microphones?” He asked quietly. He had no idea what the two of them were doing. Microphones? Why are they looking for microphones? 

  

“Remember meeting Nate Ruess last night?” Levi smirked. “Anything about sending him a recording sound familiar?”

  

Eren stared at Levi for a few moments before everything clicked again. “Wait... That actually happened?” Is he being for real? Like really? That actually happened? I wasn’t dreaming? 

  

Levi pulled out Eren’s phone from a bag next to him with Eren’s clothes in it, pulling up his contact and showing him. “Pretty sure.”

  

“That’s…. He gave me his phone number?” He asked in disbelief and he had a huge smile on his face. That actually happened!! OMFG! 

  

How do you not remember this? “Yeah, he did! He asked you to send him a sample of you singing and he’d try and get you a contract, get his producer interested.” Okay, he did seem pretty out of it and it is hard to believe. But it happened! 

  

Eren looked up to Lathe to see if Levi was actually telling the truth, because he couldn’t believe it. “I can’t sing that well though…” Eren said, his confusion clearly etched across his face. “And I don’t have any recording equipment…” Eren trailed off looking back at Levi. Oh, that’s why he’s looking for microphones. 

  

Yet.” Lathe grinned, picking his phone back up and handing it to Eren, the video of him singing onstage. “And you sang so unbelievably well last night! I think you could really do something with it. The recording stuff and your voice. You could make it into a career if you tried hard enough, I think. But do you hear yourself? You were better than Nate!”

  

“I was?” Eren asked and looked down at the phone and at the YouTube video that was from Nate’s channel. The video already had two and a half million views. “Is this really me?” He asked quietly and he pushed play and he was surprised by himself. That’s me singing? 

  

Lathe watched Eren’s expression shift. “That’s really you.” How can you not remember something like that? 

  

“Everyone was going absolutely wild! Nobody could believe their ears when you hit every single high note there was. It was really impressive!” Levi tapped on his phone, showing it to Lathe. “What about these specs?”

  

“Nice. Put it on the watch list.” We’ll sort through the rest of our options with that later. “So, since you’re awake, I think we can leave after we fill out paperwork. I’ll go see what I can find out about that, alright?” He stood, pushing the curtain aside and looking for a nurse.

  

Eren nodded looking over to Levi. “What kind of camera have you found?” He asked quietly. I really want to try this. What song should I do? 

  

“There’s this camera called a Canon EOS Rebel T4i that has really good quality for taking still photos as well as video, which is good, and we’re probably going to need a couple extra memory cards, maybe, I dunno. But the microphone… there’s an Audio Technica AT2020 which looks pretty good, regarding the specs and reviews of it. And obviously as for headphones, you need a pair of Beats. And don’t try and say no to any of this.” He looked to Eren and stopped him before he could protest. “At least with the headphones, you love music so damn much you were bound to end up getting a pair eventually. The Studio ones are wireless… and this pattern with the white pixels on it looks so cool! Yep, it’s settled. You’re getting these. But the real thing we have to worry about is the computer. You hate Lathe’s laptop, so we need to get something with an operating system you can use.” He scrolled down, looking at the list of options.

  

Lathe came back, sighing and running a hand through his hair. “Ugh, I don’t like having to argue as to the mistakes on the damn bill. Half the time there’s so much wrong on it. Levi, remember we can always add more hard drive space and memory. If it has a damn good processor, it’s being considered.” He grinned, plopping back down next to Eren, smiling gently at him. “Whenever you’re ready to get up, you can change and we can get going.”

  

“I’m thinking a Cyberpower, or an Alienware. They’re both really really good.” He read further. “This Cyberpower has a better graphics card.”

  

“That one, then. I have a feeling you’ll want to use it for drawing and photography, too.” He looked back to Levi. “See if there’s a good printer on there, actually. I don’t have one. One with a big scanner.”

  

“HP Printers. Got it.” He typed quickly, handing it to him. “That good?”

  

“We don’t need the industrial one.” He tapped one next to it. “Better.” Well, I know what we’re doing with Sue’s old room now. 

  

“Cool. We can finish checking stuff out later. But we should probably get going.” Levi stowed his phone in his pocket, reaching to the bag of Eren’s clothes. “Do you need help?” You still seem kinda loopy. 

  

Eren nodded. Oh yeah, I don’t think I can do this myself. Eren was able to swing his legs over and the side of the hospital bed. “Yeah, please.” He said quietly, reaching for Levi’s shirt so he had something to grab when he stepped onto the cold floor. His legs shaking alread