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Carry Your Heart

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If there was one thing about Erwin Smith’s career he could be thankful for, it was the fact that it rarely afforded him the opportunity to dwell on personal matters.

If he was not out beyond the walls, commanding his soldiers and scrapping with Titans, he was in the city, persuading haughty nobles to part with their money for the good of the Survey Corps. And if he was not doing either of those, he was writing up reports, planning strategies and expeditions, or training. The only personal time he ever really got was snatched in the last hour or two before bed.

If he had been a civilian, he’d have other concerns – such as the fact that he was, at thirty-six, the oldest unmated Alpha around. There were a few other Alphas in the Survey Corps, but most of them had beta or omega partners. A small few even had children.

Because of his busy schedule, Erwin never really had the time to ponder his own situation and his feelings about it. As far as he was concerned, humanity and unravelling the mystery of the titans came before anything else in his life. If the horrific odds stacked against him suddenly turned in his favour and he managed to either survive to retirement or reach Dr Jaegar’s basement and beat the flesh-eating monsters plaguing their world, he would think about finding someone to live with, maybe even raise children with.  Until that day, he would concentrate on the job at hand and push any feelings of loneliness to one side.

Things didn’t work out like that, of course. Somehow, Erwin still managed to be surprised.

 

 

A month on from Mike’s death, Erwin was signing off on requisition forms for a large shipment of new tack when he was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a frazzled-looking Hanji in his office.

Normally, this wouldn’t be completely out of the ordinary. Hanji was one of only two senior officers who he tolerated barging in to his room without knocking – usually because, in their eagerness to share experiment findings, they could sometimes quite literally run into the door, and an injured officer was no use to Erwin.

The other was Levi, who wasn’t brought up with the idea of knocking on doors and simply swanned in whenever he wanted. When Levi first joined the Corps, Erwin tried locking his office door against him as a sort of training mechanism. A useless endeavour, as it turned out, as Levi had a terrific talent for picking locks. Erwin gave in and returned to keeping his door unlocked after a few weeks.  Less than a year after that, he’d given Levi the spare key.

So when Hanji burst rudely into the room that day, Erwin shouldn’t really have thought too much of it. But he did, and, as he looked up at Hanji’s anxious face, he quickly realised why.

The scent that came with them was not one he had enjoyed many times in his life, but was one unmistakable to any Alpha. An omega in heat.

He opened his mouth, but found himself unable to form the question already leaping to his mind.

Which omega?

There were only a few in the Survey Corps. Society still generally expected them to stay in safe, cosy jobs, or at home, minding their children. The few Omegas who defied tradition and joined up were welcomed, but kept on a strict prescription of oral heat suppressants (broken every four months or so to allow them to spend their heat with their Alpha or beta).

Who was it then? Kara, from medic? She tended to be a bit forgetful at the best of times. Or Benjamin, from Mike’s old squad? He’d have to organise immediate leave for them, perhaps even lock them up somewhere safe until he could contact their partner and bring them to the barracks…..

‘It’s Levi’

Erwin’s racing mind stilled for a moment. Levi. Of the five or six omegas in the Corps, Levi was the last Erwin could imagine forgetting his suppressants. The man was as fastidious with those as he was with his cleaning. As far as Erwin knew, Levi had been on suppressants constantly since joining the Corps, without even taking the traditional break every four months – he was unmated, and Erwin knew he abhorred the idea of spending a heat with a random Alpha every few months just for the sake of his health, no matter how much Erwin or Hanji would like to persuade him to.

 It wasn’t good for an omega to suppress their heats for such an unbroken stretch of time. In fact, it was downright dangerous. A sudden heat after that long could easily lead to fever, delirium, seizures, unconsciousness, and eventually death if an Alpha didn’t help them through it.

Hanji confirmed his worse fears in their next sentence.

‘He’s in bad shape, Erwin. Really bad. It came on him suddenly this afternoon. The doctors can’t do anything for him. He needs an Alpha immediately’

Erwin abandoned the forms and lurched out of his chair with a sick feeling. He’d always had a quick read on situations. He knew what he’d have to do.

Hanji grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the office, giving Erwin a full report as they practically jogged though the barracks. Erwin’s chest felt tight, and he felt like he could barely hear them.

‘He’s in one of the disused rooms in the old building. The doctors had him in the san at first, but they had to move him out to where Alphas wouldn’t catch his scent. We’ll investigate what happened with the suppressants later. Back when Levi was still making some sense, he said he was sure he’d taken them. So we don’t know what went wrong’

Erwin winced.

‘How is he?’

He could hear the worry in their voice when they replied. Hanji and Levi had always maintained a sometimes strained, yet always genuine friendship.

‘He can barely get a word out. Running a huge temperature. When he turned up at my room an hour ago he was already doubling over with cramps. Nearly passed out a few times on the way to the san’

Erwin could understand why Levi went to Hanji first. Betas were able to keep their cool in situations like these in a way that Alphas never could.

They were crossing the courtyard now, rain drizzling as they made their brisk way towards the old building.

‘Morphine can only do so much, Erwin. The doctors say he’ll only get worse without an Alpha. You’re the only unmated one around, that’s why it has to be you. You can’t just sleep with him Erwin, you need to bond with him, otherwise there’s no telling what good you’ll do. We’ve managed to make him swallow some contraceptives’

They’d reached the door to the old building now, and Hanji pulled Erwin by the arm to face them. Their hair was soaking wet, their expression serious.

‘Don’t worry about the barracks, Erwin. Moblit and I will handle things for as long as we need to. You just worry about Levi’

Nodding grimly, Erwin had his hand on the door handle when Hanji spoke again.

‘Erwin?’

He turned.

‘Be kind to him. Whatever happened, it’s not his fault’

With that, they strode off through the rain again, leaving Erwin with a situation he had never once predicted facing.

 

 

He took gentle steps up the stairs while he tried to get his heartbeat under control. It was throbbing so hard he could practically feel it in his mouth. The scent of heat he was able to pick up from outside was a hundred times stronger in the building itself, and Erwin was suddenly thankfully that the doctors had had the sense to move Levi here, the only unused building in the barracks, and the furthest away from the entrance to the town itself.

He could tell exactly which room Levi was in. Approaching it, he put a hand on the door handle and froze.

Could he really do this?

Levi was one of the most independent people he knew. Erwin had only a bare idea of the man’s childhood, but even that small amount was enough to confirm that. He took pride in the fact that he, an unmated omega, was considered Humanity’s Strongest. Would he think less of himself if he were mated to an Alpha?

And what about their personal relationship? Levi was Erwin’s closest friend and most trusted soldier. They’d told each other things about themselves no one else knew. They’d spent hundreds of hours together, in the field, in the city, in Erwin’s office. Levi washed Erwin’s horse down when he didn’t have the time. Erwin knew precisely what temperature the water should be to make Levi’s perfect cup of tea. Levi had taught Erwin how to pick locks. Erwin had taught Levi how to read.

This could ruin everything.

But Levi would die, otherwise. And humanity still need him. Hanji and Moblit and Eren and all his other soldiers still needed him. Erwin still needed him.

He was still deliberating with his hand on the door handle when he heard Levi groan. Not in pleasure. In pain.

Erwin forced his doubts out of his mind and twisted the handle, slipping in through the door.

Levi was curled up in the centre of a rickety-looking old bed. He was wearing a set of loose training clothes – a plain white shirt and baggy leggings – but Erwin could still see the sweat on Levi’s skin.

He was breathing raggedly, his arm hidden in the crook of an elbow. But when Erwin’s scent reached him, he lurched up onto his knees, already moving instinctively in the Alpha’s direction.

He seemed to pause for a second, and the two of them looked at each other – Erwin, standing stiffly with his back to the door, Levi, rumpled and dazed and confused.

‘Erwin?’ Levi managed to croak out. His face was strained, and he winced and clutched at his stomach when a cramp hit him. He looked desperate. Nothing like the Levi Erwin knew.

Erwin pushed away from the door and stepped as gently forward as he could. Levi still backed up a bit, and Erwin could sense the warring distress and want coming from him in waves. The omega sank back on the bed, legs unconsciously spreading as Erwin approached. He looked like he was about to cry, and Erwin never hated being born an Alpha as much as he did right now.

Gently, he placed his hand to the side of Levi’s fever-warmed neck. Levi’s face was so small he was able to brush a few strands of black hair with the tips of his fingers and still feel the omega’s rapid pulse in his throat. He reached down and took one of Levi’s hands. They’d never held hands like this before, not even once, but Erwin felt the hand clutch his tightly nonetheless. He realised that Levi was afraid.

Levi gulped as he looked up at Erwin, eyes half-lidded and a flush of red high on his cheekbones. Erwin tried not to breathe too deeply through his nose. He needed this chance to explain to Levi. He was never going to forgive himself either way for what he had to do, but he would hate himself even more if he didn’t at least try. It could never be consent, of course. Levi was too far gone for that, and Erwin would be soon too. But his captain deserved to know.

‘Levi, I-‘

He closed his eyes as Levi’s other hand crept up to clutch at his bolo tie. He was sitting on the side of the bed now, between Levi’s spread legs, and found himself leaning forward, struggling to balance as he leaned over the omega, his one remaining hand still grasped tightly in Levi’s.

What could he say? How could he possibly say the right thing in this moment?

To his surprise, Levi spoke next.

‘Erwin. Erwin, I’m-it hurts. Help me. Please, Erwin’

He could feel Levi’s body tensing as another painful cramp wracked though him. Erwin breathed out slowly, letting the omega’s scent fill his senses. He leaned forward and rested his forehead on Levi’s, and it was there that he finally found what to say.

‘Levi. Do you trust me?’

Levi’s body relaxed again, and the omega gasped out in relief as the pain ended.

‘Always, Erwin’

He leaned forward the last few inches and met Levi’s mouth with his own for the first time. Levi groaned against his lips, hand snaking around Erwin’s neck to brush through his undercut. Erwin felt his tongue slip into his mouth, and they kissed messily for a few moments, scared and angry and agonised, but both far too desperate for each other to care.

When they broke apart for air, Erwin quickly sat up and started to pull at his belt one-handed. Levi’s joined his after a moment, and the commander’s addled mind managed to remember the weeks and months after he first lost his arm, when he couldn’t complete even the simplest tasks without help. Levi had been there, always, quietly offering his help. Erwin had never had to ask. He could never have imagined Levi’s hands helping him with something like this.

Once Erwin’s belt was unbuckled, he worked on pulling his boots and trousers off, while Levi shrugged his way out of his leggings and shirt. He was panting heavily, his eyes bright. Erwin leaned forward and kissed him again, pushing him firmly backwards onto the bed. He went easily.

Levi pushed the commander’s shirt off his shoulders, and then arched himself slightly off the bed, reaching for the waistband of his underwear to pull them off. Doing so, his hips pressed into Erwin’s and he whimpered, collapsing back onto the bed. Overwhelmed, Erwin pressed his face into Levi’s warm shoulder, feeling the man’s arms wind around his neck as he reached down to pull Levi’s underwear off himself. The heady scent of heat increased and Erwin pulled a shuddering breath in as he tossed the clothing to one side and removed his own as quickly as he could. He could feel Levi’s now-naked body shaking against his own. He hated that the strongest man he had ever known had been reduced to this, by his own biology.

At least the omega wouldn’t need any preparation. His biology took care of that, too. Erwin could already feel the slick fluid between Levi’s legs.

It was becoming harder and harder to think straight. Erwin ran his hands gently along Levi’s thighs, spread on either side of him. He hesitated for one more brief moment, wondering if Levi would prefer it if he took him from behind. It was more impersonal that way. He was about to ask when the omega, arms still wound around his neck, pulled him down to lay on top of him, burying his face in Erwin’s collarbone. His legs pulled up to splay loosely on either side of Erwin’s torso and he made a small noise – of pain, or perhaps impatience. Neither of them could tell anymore.

He was still shaking as Erwin lined himself up and began to push slowly into him. He tried to be as gentle as possible, for both their sakes. Even with the natural lubricant Levi was providing, Erwin was still very conscious of how small the body underneath him was. He turned his face into Levi’s dark hair and concentrated on the feel of it against his skin as the omega gasped, head thrown back onto the pillow. One of his hands slid down to the swell of Erwin’s ass, fingers digging in as he encouraged him to push further, deeper. 

Then he was fully inside him, and the two of them lay a moment, bodies pressed closer to each other than they had ever been before. Erwin tried to still his mind, which was racing. He was inside Levi - his right hand man, his captain, his best friend. How surreal.

He felt the omega’s breath against his skin as he panted, trying to adjust to Erwin. After a few seconds, Erwin tentatively withdrew a little and sank back in, drawing a strangled groan from the man beneath him. He began to roll his hips, working into a rhythm, encouraged by Levi’s hands scrambling desperately across his back.

Erwin soon lost himself in it all; the feel of his cock sliding in and out of Levi’s warm, wet body, Levi’s legs wrapped around his waist, pulling him in with every thrust, the sounds Levi was making, the scent of him. Levi, Levi, Levi.

He was gasping the name over and over into that dark hair, almost without realising.

Levi was keening; a low, sensuous sound punctuated with an occasional sharp moan when Erwin hit the right spot inside him. They were beginning to get more and more frequent. He gripped Erwin tightly, and he knew he must be getting close.

So was he. As Levi tipped over into orgasm, trembling and gasping against him, Erwin felt himself begin to swell, his knot a sure sign of his own approaching completion. Some part of his mind, miraculously not swept up in the storm of heat and instinct and omega that the rest of him was, remembered what Hanji had said to him earlier. He needed to bond with Levi if he wanted to save him - tying the two of them together for the rest of their lives, becoming a mated pair. He pressed his face into Levi’s dark hair, felt the omega’s face pressed into his own skin, and reminded himself that this was the only way. He couldn’t lose this man. Not yet.

As he came and his knot filled Levi, Erwin allowed his instincts to take over and let his body lie heavily over the omega, pinning him to the bed. His hand pressed Levi’s neck to the side, exposing his scent gland. He felt Levi’s body tense, then go still beneath him, some primal part of him recognising and accepting Erwin’s dominance.

Without allowing himself to hesitate, Erwin leaned in and bit carefully down, bonding them together as alpha and omega.

His omega.

Levi.

 

 

The next three or four days passed, mercifully, in a blur. Levi was feverish, needy, in near-constant pain from cramps. Erwin soon found himself exhausted, emotionally and physically, and spent the brief hours he wasn’t fucking Levi worried about his health and making sure he drank enough water. 

At least they didn’t have a lot of time to think about this situation; what it was going to do to their relationship. Erwin would fuck Levi, knot him. They’d rest and try to catch their breath for a while, maybe eat or drink if they could. Then Levi would need him again. It was relentless, and Erwin kept an eye on Levi’s weight, worried at the exhausted, dark shadows he saw under the omega’s eyes.

Their sleep was sporadic. Levi would often wake him up and push him onto his back, straddling him and sinking down on to his cock with a tired ‘Sorry, Erwin, sorry’

Erwin became more and more attuned to Levi’s state of emotion, thanks to their newly-formed bond. Whenever he left the room briefly to use the bathroom or collect some more of the food and painkillers Hanji was leaving up, he experienced a strange sensation at the back of his mind, as if subconsciously aware all the time of Levi’s whereabouts and whether he needed him or not.

He could sense Levi’s pain, and his humiliation, and anger, and couldn’t figure out how to sooth him. It was maddening. He hated the idea that Levi thought any of this was his fault, or that Erwin was going to hate him for pressuring him into a bond they had never wanted. But Levi was barely lucid half the time, and Erwin wasn’t sure what words he could say anyway to reassure him or make things better.

Towards the end of Levi’s heat, Erwin lay the exhausted omega on his stomach and slowly and gently rolled into him, careful of his sore body. Afterwards, they lay in the blissful darkness of the room, trying to get some sleep. The sheets had long been kicked off the bed, and Erwin could see the sweat on their skin in the small sliver of moonlight coming in through the shutters. Levi was curled on the other side of the bed, utterly exhausted. Erwin was utterly spent, too. Just as he started to drift off, something in his mind forced him to back to wakefulness. For a moment, he lay, confused as to what was preventing him from sleeping. Then he saw Levi’s shoulders shaking quietly, and understood.

Carefully, not sure if he was doing the right thing or about to make it worse, he slowly scooted over, closer to Levi, and gently wrapped his one remaining arm around his waist. He squeezed a little and pulled him in so that Levi’s back was to his chest. It was strange, considering what they’d spent the last few days doing, that this felt like the most intimate they had ever been.

He felt the omega’s body tense. Slowly, almost reluctantly, he relaxed, hand sneaking up to grip Erwin’s forearm. Eventually, his shaking, quiet tears stopped, and Erwin nearly felt the exact moment when the man in his arms finally succumbed to sleep.

It wasn’t so easy for him. He gripped Levi a little tighter and lay awake for another hour at least, keeping his own eyes squeezed shut and burying his face in the soft, inky hair of his best soldier, trying not to let his own tears fall.

When sleep finally came, he was grateful.