Walking back from the mess hall Eren stuffed the last of his roll into his mouth and shrugged into his jacket. He paused hearing a forlorn note from the building opposite of the mess hall. He saw a small light shining through the broken and boarded window of the abandoned-looking building. He made his way timidly toward the sound. As he crept closer it became more distinct, the horsehair bow gliding across the strings of a violin. He scrubbed at the grime on the window to try to see who was playing the instrument. A slightly small male frame sat facing away from the window, his jacket folded next to him, black hair cropped short in an undercut, graceful, long fingers gliding across the strings of the violin. Eren jumped and accidentally hit the window as he realized it was Levi that was playing the instrument so emphatically. Levi started and lowered his bow slowly and turned to look at the window. Eren ducked hoping not to be seen by the captain but realized he was too slow as he heard his name from inside.
“Jaeger,” the captain growled, “Shouldn’t you be eating in the mess hall with the others?”
Eren stood up hesitantly, in a timid voice he replied, “Yes si-c-captain, I just finished so I w-was on my way back t-to my quarters.” Even after so many years the shorter man still made him nervous, though that could have more to do with his less than subtle infatuation.
Levi motioned him into the building so, after a moment's hesitation, he walked slowly to the door and pressed the latch shoving the heavy wooden door inward. Eren made sure the door was latched and turned back toward the captain, taking in his surroundings. The bench that Levi occupied matched the piano just behind him. There was a messy stack of music books on the sheet covering the piano. Other than the piano and the violin held in Levi’s grip there were a couple stacks of wooden chairs lining the walls.
Levi cleared his throat yanking Eren from his reverie. “This used to be a village so there are some things people didn’t take with them,” Levi explained. He caught Eren looking at the piano and glanced toward it himself before looking back and asking, “Do you play?”
Eren’s face heated all the way to his ears. “Um, well, my mother made me take lessons for a while...” He trailed off as the captain stood up. Levi motioned silently toward the seat.
Eren started to shake his head to tell him he couldn’t but then he saw the hopeful look in Levi’s eyes and he couldn’t say no. “Alright,” he sighed. “Just know, that it has been many years and if it makes your ears bleed, it’s not my fault.”
Levi snorted at the reply, “It’s fine, I’m not going to grade you on it later.”
That made Eren chuckle a little but it also helped put him at ease. He sat down at the bench and lifted the lid to reveal the keys, slightly worn from use. He tested the piano by running a few scales, the sound wasn’t perfect by any means but it was much better than he ever thought it would be. He started to play one of the songs he knew. He watched his fingers on the keys, he messed up a few times but it just made him think of when his mother used to watch him play. After a particularly bad playthrough he would cross his arms and shove the stool back from the piano with a pinched scowl on his face, but his mom would be sitting in the chair smiling and only saying words of encouragement. As he came to the end of the song he started to feel the prick of tears behind his eyelids.
Levi must have known he was a little choked up because he didn’t speak for a moment. Eren turned slowly towards him and presented an unenthusiastic, “Ta-da.”
The beginnings of a smile crept onto Levi’s face as he said, “Not bad.”
Eren shifted uncomfortably on the bench. “How did you learn how to play violin?”
“I play by ear, I guess.” Levi frowned. “I just found this violin here a couple months ago and I like the sound, so I started trying to figure out some songs I knew.” He seemed somehow embarrassed by the admission.
“That’s amazing,” Eren couldn’t keep the awe out of his voice.
It was quiet for an almost uncomfortable amount of time when an idea struck Eren. “Do you think if I played a song a few times you could figure out something to play along with it?” He blurted.
Levi seemed surprised by the question but thought for a moment. “I suppose it couldn’t hurt to try. It’s not like we have a lot of pressing engagements,” he answered finally.
Eren couldn’t hold in the grin that overtook his face. He knew exactly which song he wanted to share with Levi, it had been his mother’s favorite. It took him a couple of tries to start the song but once he got into the flow it was like he was back in his childhood home playing it at his mother’s request. He was amazed at how easy it was to play the song, his fingers moving before he even had to think about it. As he finished he looked back to Levi who seemed to be playing with the fingering on the strings.
“Sounds like one you played a lot.” Levi said, smiling for real this time.
Eren felt the air leave his lungs, making his reply sound a little breathless in his own ears. “Yeah.”
Levi raised an eyebrow at Eren’s response. “Do you care to elaborate?”
Eren shook his head to try and tear his gaze from Levi’s face. “It was my Mother’s favorite, she used to ask me to play it when she was having a bad day. She used to tell me it was the best cure for her sadness.”
“Sounds bittersweet,” Levi responded after a few seconds, “Thank you for sharing it with me.” He didn’t seem to know what else to say but Eren understood exactly what he meant.
Eren nodded gently. After the quiet exchange Eren played the song again, then again while stopping a different points for Levi to try out different ways to accompany the song. Before they knew it a couple of hours had passed. They had just played the whole song through together and Eren pulled his hands off the keys, stretching them at different angles.
“I should probably stop, my hands are already going to be useless tomorrow.” He looked down at his hands covered in scars and shaking from how much playing he had done.
Levi moved over to the bench from the chair he had pulled over a while ago and reached for Eren’s hands. He pulled one closer to him as he started gently massaging the muscles. Eren, so surprised by the familiar gesture froze in place and did nothing but watch the way Levi’s calloused hands worked on his own.
Levi spoke softly, “Sorry, I didn’t realize you were in pain.” He switched to Eren’s other hand and Eren shifted so he was facing more towards Levi than the piano.
“It wasn’t your fault, I should have said something when I felt them start to get sore.” I just wanted to spend more time with you, was left unsaid.
Eren could see the guilt creasing his captains forehead as he continued his ministrations. He felt himself slowly leaning forward until their foreheads touched.
“You don’t have to protect me from myself,” Eren murmured.Levi looked up at him then.
“I promised you I would, I promised everyone that I would.”
They spent few minutes like that, sitting on the piano bench with their heads resting against each other Levi holding both of Eren’s hands in his own rubbing small circles against his palms. All of a sudden Eren stood up seeming to realize the situation they were in and what it might look like if someone else were to walk in and find them. He shook himself out of his thoughts and glanced up at Levi. Levi looked shocked and he thought he saw a flash of sadness before he saw his normal indifferent mask slide onto his features.
“I guess we should probably hit the sack,” Levi stated flatly.
Eren felt his chest constrict as all the moments they had shared that evening fled. Eren felt himself step forward and start before he could think better of it. “Levi, I… I…”He didn’t know what to say. He felt a million emotions run across his face but all he could do was look at Levi and hope he understood. Pray that his feelings were being received.
Levi didn’t move, his expression unchanged. Eren took it as a sign that he was wrong, that Levi didn’t want anything deeper than whatever they already had. He shook his head and felt his entire face heat. As he started to turn toward the door Levi spoke. “Eren.”
He froze mid step and slowly spun back around. The mask from before was gone, Eren saw so many emotions flash through Levi’s eyes, he thought he may have even seen hope.
“Come here?” Levi pleaded, more vulnerable than Eren had ever seen him.
Eren closed the space between them in two easy strides. Eren felt breathless as he urged, “What now?”
Levi searching his face, considered his answer. Slowly he placed his hand on the taller man’s neck and brought their faces closer together so their lips brushed as he spoke, “I was hoping you would kiss me.”
In an instant Eren closed the gap between them their lips crashing together a little clumsily, making Levi stumble back a step before closing the gap again. The second time was softer, more hesitant as the tension eased and they explored each other.
When they finally came apart Eren rested his forehead against Levi’s once again, unable to keep the excited grin off his face. Levi’s smile was smaller but Eren noticed a slight dusting of pink across his cheeks as they gazed at one another.
“What are we going to tell people?” Eren laughed breathlessly.
Levi considered for a moment before he came up with the right answer, then looked Eren right in the eye as he asked, “Who cares?”