A rainy morning, painted with delicate drops of rain pelting the window of a bookstore. Eren Jaeger, a busy brunette, had his green eyes darting from place to place in the bookshop, from the pile of books on a table next to him, to the newly-formed layer of dust settled on the counter. It was pleasantly quiet. Eren tugged one of his sideburns behind his ear with slender fingers as he glanced out the window. The rain had been coming down a little harder. “I hope my flight isn’t cancelled,” he whispered.
Silence. It wasn’t like he was expecting somebody to hear that, nobody was around Eren. He had the shop to himself. Exhaling a heavy breath, he moseyed on over to a set of traveling suitcases that had been huddled in the corner. Eren reached out a hand and grabbed one of them by the handle, which had been attached to the other, so they both rolled with him. Now, he thought. I just wait for Jean to pick me up. Then it’s off to the airport. Minutes passed, and Eren’s thoughts began to grow outlandish as they bounced off of How many pieces of dust does it take to fill up a room? to What if Jean was a horse and horses accepted him as one of their own in the wild?
“Speaking of the devil.” Eren smirked as he saw a maroon colored car make a stop in front of the Shiganshina Bookshop. Bringing himself up to his feet, he turned around and held up his hand for one last good-bye. He wished his hand were holding his chest together—he wished his hand would hold together the broken pieces left behind by leaving this place. He’d long for the dust layers on the desks and books (Eren used to complain about having to clean the books and trinkets every morning), and he’d wish he could flip through the crisp edges of sugar packets that customers left behind on the dirty, tea-and-coffee-stained tables (the bookstore doubled as a coffee shop), and he’d wish he could greet just one more customer with an overly-cheerful “Welcome to Shiganshina Bookshop” with a fake smile plastered all over his face. If only the bookshop weren’t being closed down due to competition with another bookstore in town, then he wouldn’t feel nostalgia plucking at his heartstrings. The brunette tugged at his suitcases again and made his way to the glass door. His gloved fingertips were pressing up against the cool glass, and the door opened up swiftly. It was quiet. No chime or jingle bid him goodbye as he walked outside. Eren wished he could hear the bell that hung on the door whenever someone exited or entered just one last time, but he removed the bell days ago. Nostalgia clogged up his throat as he tried to yell “Hey!” to Jean, who was currently rolling down his window.
“Hey,” Jean choked up on laughter. “Loser, get in and stop your whining.”
Eren gave a faint smile, “Neigh, neigh.” Even though he was already missing France, Jean was right there, and with the opportunity to tease him wide in the open, he could hardly resist.
Jean’s smile faded and he stuck out his tongue, “Just get in.”
Eren reluctantly swung out his hand and pulled open the door. Inside the car, Jean sat at the steering wheel, his eyes focused on the unmoving road ahead. His hair was cut underneath; it was kind of a messy undercut, it looked like he had cut it himself with the rugged look it gave. The layers underneath were a deep brown, while the disheveled mess layering up on top of his head were a dirty blonde. Jean was wearing a faded grey t-shirt that flowed off his chest neatly as he leaned forward into the steering wheel. His skin was a light yet vivid tone—his tone kind of matched that of a canvas. You know, the tan ones that artists use. It was like the sun was covered by a layer of translucent maple syrup, and then threw on skin like pajamas, and boom! Jean.
“How’s Armin?” Eren opened the front door to the passenger seat after settling his bags in the back seat. “And Mikasa?”
“Armin texted me this morning,” Jean began. His hand moved up and toyed with things like levers and turning the keys in the car. “And Mikasa said she’s kind of busy cleaning up her apartment. Marco says he’s almost done putting away some things for my stay. Are you sure you’ll be okay with that roommate program you signed up for online? Do you even know the guy you’ll be sharing an apartment with?” Marco was Jean’s internet friend. Eren knew there was obviously something more.
“I’ve messaged him. He seems...decent. I’ll be fine. But you’re staying with Marco, right?” Eren cocked his head to the side. “And you won’t cling around Mikasa like a sloth?”
“I’m not a sloth.”
“Clearly,” Eren purred. “You’re a horse.”
“Gosh,” Jean groaned and the car started to move slowly. “You won’t let up with that stupid horse thing, will you? It was one time on the holidays.”
“And I still have the embarrassing photo on my phone.”
“You piece of--” Jean grunted and rolled his eyes, letting it go and changing the subject. “You know, it’s kind of sad that you have to move out of the country just because the bookstore got shut down.”
Eren grunted. He really didn’t want to be reminded of it, how the bookstore was forced into closing because of competition, and how he couldn’t tend to the shop as well as he used to because of his mother in the hospital. His mother had passed away a month ago, and the store was going to shambles. Mikasa and Armin insisted that he moved to the United States to be closer to them so he didn’t have to grieve alone. The only reason why Jean was still with him was due to a failed relationship that ended over a year ago. Eren shook his head, allowing the thoughts to dissipate and elude his mind. The trip to the airport wasn’t anything special. Between Eren changing the radio station every ten minutes, and Jean making a million wrong turns, it wasn’t really a quiet ride. Noisy, in fact. The car had been filled with lively commotion, and that was better than having Eren gazing out a window as his eyes tried to take in all of the scenery, and trying to forget every last beautiful detail of the Shiganshina Bookshop. Jean didn’t conk out and get them into a car accident, and Eren didn’t let sentimentality overflow his brain.
“Eren,” Jean would tease. “You’re gonna get all mushy on me, aren’t you? About leaving France?” Eren didn’t want to admit that Jean was right, so he distracted that idea by constantly correcting him for using “gonna” instead of “going to” like it was meant to be phrased.
Soon they were both anxiously tapping their feet as they waited to board the plane. Their flight left at eight o’clock at night, and it was currently seven-thirty. Eren pushed his side burn behind his ear again, his green eyes glancing over at Jean. Or so Jean thought. Eren really wasn’t glancing at Jean every few minutes, he was glancing passed Jean. A few seats down sat a young looking man with pale skin like porcelain, and a mop of black hair perched upon his head, below it shaved like an umbrella. Another undercut, Eren thought, Maybe I should consider getting one. The man’s face was painted with a bitter look; straight lips, and cold, narrow eyes that settled with a tint of grey. Wow, his eyes really are grey. But they’re kind of clear. Not cloudy, though. Foggy?
Eye contact. Accidental eye contact, and Eren had been so very oblivious to it. The man tilted his head up and glared into Eren’s eyes with a stare that could cut a watermelon in half due to sharpness.
“Hey,” Jean snapped his fingers in front of the blank face that belonged to Eren. “Shit, dude, how much sleep did you even get last night? Are you falling asleep with your eyes open?”
Eren grasped Jean’s hand and forced him to stop snapping, “I got enough sleep, you idiot. Don’t put your hand in my face again, seriously.” He tried to fixate himself on something else other than the enigmatic man that was only a few seats down from him.
“So,” Jean’s smirk stretched from ear to ear, “What were you looking at, my handsome face?”
“Don’t get your hopes up, nerd,” Eren chuckled. “I was just zoning out.”
“Dude, no you weren’t,” Jean wagged his finger around in the air. “Those were the eyes of a man who was totally swooning.”
“I wasn’t swooning.”
“Don’t lie to me.”
“Jean, I’m not lying,” Eren groaned and crossed his arms, his index finger bouncing on his arm. “You’re being annoying.”
“I’m being annoying?” Jean jabbed his finger at Eren’s arm, scowling. “You’re being a brat.”
“Can we stop arguing? Seriously, if I get stuck sitting next to you on the airplane I’m going to have to jump out with a parachute,” Eren ran his hand through his bangs, averting his gaze away from Jean. Interrupting them was a robotic and foggy voice over a loudspeaker; the flight heading to Florida was taking off soon. Jean grabbed Eren’s wrist and dragged him out of the crowded terminal. The man with the black hair glared up at them as they bolted out of there. After a short while, they finally boarded the plane safely. Of course, after an extremely long series of Jean pulling Eren to the bathroom, and then to grab pamphlets, and then back to the bathroom to grab his purse (Eren called it a purse. It wasn’t, really, it was just some camera bag that Jean used to carry stuff in. Purse.)
Eren pushed his side burns behind his ear again—he really needed to get them trimmed—and settled down in his seat. A window seat. He wasn’t planning on complaining, at least he could take some photos of the scenery he’d witness.
“Move your bag,” a voice.
Eren was oblivious.
“Hey, brat,” they barked. Eren’s bubble was finally snapped, and his gaze was placed on a man’s torso. Torso? No, that wasn’t right. He averted his gaze upward and settled on cold eyes, and a sour and twisted face. An undercut. A sleek, black undercut that looked as soft as a crow’s feathers. No way.
“You?!” Eren nearly jumped out of his seat. “I’m sitting next to you?” Here he was. The guy from the waiting area.
“Why do you seem so surprised?” The man popped his hip to one side, scoffing, “God, just move your things out of my seat. It’s irritating me.”
“Who do you think you are?” Eren snapped back, his anger bubbling over. What did this man think he could do, waltz in here and order him around like a puppet?
“Last time I checked my name was Levi, yours?” Smartass.
“Eren.” Levi repeated it. And again. And again.
“Just,” Eren pulled his bag off Levi’s chair and plopped himself back down. “Sit.”
“Okay,” Levi coughed up hesitantly. “Nice to meet you, Eren.”
They say it’s about the journey, and not the destination, Eren thought. Someone get me off of this journey.