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The Red Light District

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Eren had never seen so much pot in his entire life.

He knew these guys were partiers, and he knew that they meant business when it came to a Friday night. But he obviously underestimated what he was getting himself into. The few small joints he had smoked before in his teenage years were definitely not enough to have readied him for the mountain of bud he was presently face-to-face with.

"Not going to chicken out, are you?" asked Jean with a heavy slap on Eren's back. The room was darkly lit, and Jean nearly had to scream over the overbearingly loud bass of the surround-sound speakers. Eren was sure the photo-frames would start jumping off the walls of this ancient house soon enough.

"Of course not," Eren replied with feigned confidence. He kept his eyes on the mountain, which was now getting ground and packed or rolled by the senior frat members. "What do I look like?"

"Just wait until we get you crossed," Jean snorted. "You're going to lose your ever-loving mind, dude."

Jean turned out to be right, as much as Eren wanted to deny it. He did pretty much lose his mind. He had never been cross-faded before, and in general, had never drank more than a few beers. When he took his first shot of tequila, he could only think, 'I am definitely losing scholarships before the year is over.' But the alcohol felt good, it made his blood warm and he felt a little sweaty in the already-hot room, but the buzz he had and the stupid smile that wouldn't leave his face made up for it. Honestly, he was just thrilled that anyone was including him in anything. His biggest fear going to college was that he'd make zero friends and have nothing of a social life. Although he couldn't call this house full of people 'friends' just yet, he was confident enough to assume that they would be.

If Eren thought being drunk was nice, he was in for a surprise once he started smoking the passed blunts. Jean ushered him over to a dark corner with a tattered couch where a man, much older than college-age, it seemed, had a packed bong and a lighter and a mischievous look on his face. If Jean wasn't in his ear pressuring him (which simultaneously cheering him on), Eren would've never trusted that man. But he took a few hits of the bong (after being instructed on how to do it) and sat back in a chair he found, letting his eyes close and feeling the way the smoke burned going down his throat and into his lungs.

"Good?" Jean asked, a fat grin on his face. He had already smoked before the party even started, so his buzz began a long time ago. Eren looked at him, with his long face and pale blond hair, and wondered how he'd even ended up here with him.

"Always," was Eren's drowsy answer.

 

Saturday morning, Eren had his head over the toilet for a good twenty minutes. As soon as his eyes had opened, he felt his stomach rumble and knew the taste in the back of his throat. As he sat in his dorm bathroom (which he was lucky enough to have), back against the shower doors, he contemplated every decision that led him here. He didn't regret the night before, though, because he had made good with a few of the current frat members, even getting their numbers and being invited out again tonight.

Only, Eren didn't know if he had it in him.

Jean, miraculously, was up in time to go to work at 6 am. When he walked through the dorm door at noon, Eren was still in the bathroom, having woken up only twenty minutes before. Jean stopped in the bathroom entrance, raised his eyebrows, and said, "So you can't take the heat, I'm assuming."

"Yes I can, would you shut up for once? Maybe I just have food poisoning, you don't know," answered Eren sharply, wiping his mouth with the hem of his old t-shirt. He felt like a pussy sitting here sick; he hadn't even blacked out last night or anything crazy. On the scale of fucked-up, Eren had maybe reached a four. Maybe. "Besides, it doesn't matter. I got a few of the brother's numbers, and that's what I really went for."

"Well, go out again tonight and get some more. Having some sophomore's numbers you won't ever use isn't going to get you picked."

"Like hell I'm going again tonight. I can't even picture food without barfing."

"You'll regret not going," Jean shrugged, fixing his hair slightly in the mirror and then turning to leave the bathroom. Over his shoulder, he smirked, "Levi Ackerman will be there. Just saying."

Levi Ackerman. Eren had heard that name more times than he could count and yet he had no clue who the man was. He seemed to be somewhat of a local legend around here, especially to the frat boys. He didn't go to the college, Eren gathered, so he wasn't sure why everyone obsessed over him; but, allegedly, when Levi was around, a good time was soon to follow. Anyone who was anyone knew him, and if you had it especially made, you got invited to his parties.

Very few people Eren knew had gotten invited to his parties.

"So what?" Eren answered Jean, finally pulling himself from the floor. He grimaced as he flushed the toilet and then again as he saw himself in the mirror. "I'll never be invited anywhere near Levi Ackerman, so what does it matter?"

"That's unlike you, you're usually so stupidly stubborn and headstrong," Jean quipped. He unpacked his bag on his bed and Eren watched absentmindedly. "You never admit the truth so easily. But you know that you have to get an invite if you want to get in Sina Sigma Kappa."

That was true, it was an unspoken requirement. The only people that got in without an invite were the people whose siblings were already in, which would be the guys like Jean. Eren figured it couldn't be that difficult, but oddly, Sina Sigma Kappa had the smallest amount of members of all the frats on campus.

"You're a dick," Eren frowned. "And I could totally get invited to one of his parties, by the way, way before you ever did. I take it back."

"Oh yeah? Prove it. Go tonight and get yourself an invite, since you're soooo cool," Jean said, taking off his sweaty work shirt and throwing it in Eren's face. Eren cringed and plucked the thing off of him, tossing it as far from him as he could get it.

"You're disgusting, you always come in here smelling like a grease trap," pointed out Eren, to which Jean shrugged. "Besides, if this Levi guy is the big party animal that he's made out to be, he can't be that hard to talk to. Most of these frat guys don't give a fuck once you get alcohol in their system."

"Whatever you say, dude," Jean sang, voice high-pitched and cautious. Eren rolled his eyes and threw him a controller.

"We'll find out tonight."

-

"Who the fuck is that?"

Jean and Eren stood in the middle of a room full of people. The same frat house as before, only now it was packed wall to wall. People were tripping on every drug Eren had ever heard of in his life and even ones he hadn't. The speakers were turned up even louder. The strobe lights were new, though. Eren had to blink really hard every couple seconds just to stop himself from feeling pre-seizure.

There was no ignoring the person Jean had been talking about. Both of them had their eyes glued to the enigma himself, sitting on a couch surrounded by a swarm of people. While both Jean and Eren had drinks in their hands, they were being left un-sipped. There were far more pressing issues on the table right now, and Eren had to come to a quick and unhappy realization.

"That has to be him," Eren said, pointing out the obvious. He continued to stare at the dark haired man who looked entirely too bored for someone sitting in the center of a crowd with all of their attention on him. Not to mention the incredibly vibrant party going on around him, of course. "I… didn't picture him looking like..."

"Like a thirty-year-old runaway dad?" answered Jean, eyebrows furrowed.

Eren gave a numb nod. Levi was… rude looking. Suddenly, all his previous confidence had gone out the window and just like that, Eren was pretty much ready to leave the party. Firstly, he would have to fight through all the people attempting to talk to him. Then, he would have to face Levi up close, and then thirdly, probably be shot directly down.

"He can't be that bad, right?" asked Eren. He already knew the answer.

"Good fucking luck with that, bro," Jean pursed his lips and gave Eren a sideways glance. "You said you'd get that invite, not me."

Eren needed it, too. He knew that. He knew that he had no chance of getting into the frat if he didn't get this invite. "You don't need it, you prick," Eren muttered, venom in his tone. He really tried not to resent Jean for his privilege of having an older brother already in the frat, and he hadn't up to this point. There was no way Levi was as intimidating as he looked, though, or at least he continued to tell himself. He truly wanted to believe it.

Eren turned to watched Jean go get himself a second drink, and when he turned back, Levi had disappeared. The crowd hadn't dispersed, though, so Eren wondered if maybe he had just gone to the bathroom or something. Taking a deep breath, he weighed the pros and cons. It was likely he wouldn’t even be able to get face-to-face with the guy, seeing as the deep crowd of upper-class frat and sorority members was blocking his entry. And, of course, if Levi didn’t return, that also posed an obvious problem.

Downing the last bit of his mixer, Eren determinedly set his cup down on a nearby table and stared confidently ahead. This wasn’t as big of a deal as he was making it in his head. Levi was just a guy. As Eren sauntered forward toward the crowd of people, faces illuminated by dark red LED lights and voiced drowned out by EDM, he reminded himself that Levi was human too, and not some famed god, and maybe if Eren just asked nicely enough—

 

The people weren’t parting. Eren got as close as he possibly could before some upperclassmen guys blocked him. Eren wasn’t sure if they were doing it on purpose but either way, they were ignoring his presence, closing the gap, talking amongst themselves. Cursing under his breath, Eren wracked his brain for the name of one of the short, brown-haired guys. Elf? Elk?

“Hey, Eld,” said a girl over the music. “Sweet Hawaiian shirt!”

Bingo. Eren braced himself, grinned, and tapped Eld’s shoulder to get his attention. The guy began to turn, looking confused, as his friends' eyes slid over to meet Eren’s face in blank stares.

“Hey man, what’s going on? Killer party, right?” Eren tried, motioning his hands around and trying to act like he was ridiculously drunker than he was.

Eld blinked. Slight recognition dawned on his face, but Eren knew Eld probably didn’t remember his name. He’s only met him once at the first rush, and even then, for only a brief second. “Aw, yeah,” the tall man responded, less enthusiastic than Eren had been. “Great party. Glad you’re having a good time.”

Eren scratched the back of his neck. He was nearly at a loss and feeling a little embarrassed. “What’s the crowd for? Beer pong?” He asked, feigning ignorance. Maybe if Eld would get him up front, he could—

“Nah man. Levi Ackerman is here. Or, he was, but I think he just left.”

Fuck. Eren could feel himself deflate. Giving an “ohhh” kind of nod, he bid Eld farewell, and slid back to the back of the room where Jean stood waiting. Hands in his pockets and eyebrow raised, Jean looked ready to mock Eren for his failure. But Jean always had some shit to say for someone who had way less to worry about in this department.

“No luck, huh?” Jean played, a stupid smirk on his face.

“He left,” answered Eren shortly. Arms crossed, he huffed, “The king must think he’s too cool for this party or something.”

“What do you think his parties are like? Smooth jazz, everyone off molly and cocaine, one giant orgy?”

“Fuck if I know,” Eren muttered. He pictured Levi as that kind of guy, though, in his overdramatic brain. Like he lived in a house made of glass, some untouchable King on display for his adoring fans. He’d only had one glimpse of the guy, so maybe he was entirely wrong, but Eren had heard enough to know that Levi was probably fucking full of himself. “I really hate that I have to suck this guy’s dick, basically. I’m sure enough people do that for him already. His ego doesn’t need anymore stroking.”

“Oh I’m sure his dick gets sucked,” Jean remarked. He held his drink to his lips and then laughed, “And yet I doubt he’s ever stepped foot in a sorority.”

“You think he’s gay?” Eren asked. “There’s no way. He’s the alpha dog of the drug game around here.”

“I’ve heard some things.”

“Some things. I’m guessing from your brother?”

A shrug. “He would know.”

Indeed he would. Jean’s older brother got invites to every Levi Ackerman party. Yet while Jean’s brother wouldn’t talk about what went on, you know, to add to the suspense, he would apparently talk about Levi’s sexual preferences. Eren stared at where Levi had sat, questions blowing through his mind faster than he could think them up. How had this random man became a legend on this campus? Had he ever even gone to college here, or at all? Why did he only deal to the fraternities when he could easily sell to everyone on campus? What happened at his parties and why were they so hard to get invited to? Was he an asshole like his reputation claimed, and if so, why did everyone adore him?

That night, Eren made it back to his dorm at about three am, with Jean in tow nearly unconscious. Eren had stopped drinking after the Levi debacle because he had too much to think about. He was going to have to devise a plan for next time so that he didn’t experience total failure again.

So, he Googled the guy.

Turns out, after some digging, there were some social profiles belonging to Levi Ackerman. Although they were all private, down to every photo and post, they existed. At 3:30 am, Eren found himself scrolling through Google results for a guy he'd never met, and wondered if this is what his life had been reduced to. The first paper of the semester was due in two days, yet this felt more pressing. First, he found a Facebook profile under the name "Rivaille Ackerman", which Eren would have never considered until he (dumbly, quietly, to himself in the dead silence of his dorm) said the name to himself and realized how it sounds.

Rivaille Ackerman's page was completely secured, but thanks to Facebook's shitty privacy priorities, Eren was able to click the profile picture and cover photo. The profile picture was a grainy, cropped photo of the same black-haired man Eren had seen that night. Only, it looked a year or two old, as the man's hair was shorter and he looked slightly younger. Squinting, Eren leaned forward, taking a closer look at his monitor. He was handsome, by Eren's standards anyway. His pale skin and dark hair contrasted nicely, and Eren wondered absently what ethnicities he was. Even though the picture looked old, the same scowl rested unpleasantly on the man's face. There were at least two other people in the picture but it had been cropped so close to the man's face that you could only see the sides of their bodies.

"Why do you look so pissed off..." Eren murmured, clicking away from the photo. Next, he brought up the cover photo. It was a picture of a lake somewhere with tall trees and a sunset in the background. It wasn't a stock photo, it had been taken amateurly, probably on a cellphone. The contrast between the pleasant landscape and the disgusted look on Levi's face were jarring.

Well, his Facebook told Eren very little except that they had 0 mutual friends, Levi wasn't always an old man, and that he appreciated nature. Getting slightly frustrated, Eren clicked away from the page with a force, instead moving to the next result on Google, which happened to be an Instagram page. Eren felt a tingle go through his body like adrenaline was starting to rush. He felt like a secret detective, though he knew he was probably acting more like a stalker.

The Instagram account was private, and Eren would be stupid to try to follow it, but he took advantage of the profile avatar and description box. The photo was a side profile black and white picture of Levi, much more current than the Facebook photo, only Eren couldn't click it and enlarge it. He could, however, see the description box, which read, "Don't ask, don't tell."

Enlightening.

Eren did not feel like he had any more information than he started out with. Maybe he wasn't digging hard enough? Maybe there were secrets hidden in these few glimpses of Levi's life that he just wasn't picking up on? But it was nearly 4 am and he had definitely taken this a little too far. With that thought, he closed the tabs and shut his laptop and moved to finally get in bed. He was going to have to devise a way to get close to Levi, just enough so to get on his good side, just to get that invitation. After that, he would never have to deal with the famously complex and bad-tempered man again.

 

The next week seemed to drag on. Eren had adrenaline pumping in his veins to meet with weekend with vigor, nervous and anxious to begin the phases of his plan. It was a messy, haphazard plan thrown together with a five-minute pep talk in the bathroom mirror, but it was a plan. He wrote that paper that was due, went to his classes and zoned out nearly the entire time, and went to the gym with Jean a couple of times. After what seemed like an eternity, it was Friday morning. He had no classes on Fridays, so he spent the extra time deciding what he was going to wear to this stupid party, like a girl, or something.

"You think plaid?" he asked Jean, raising both a flannel and an eyebrow. "Yes, no? Flannel? No flannel?"

"You're trying to get the guy to think you're cool, not bear your children."

"Hey man, whatever gets me that fucking invite."

"Don't wear a flannel. Get real."

Eren threw the flannel on his bed in defeat, a frown coming over his face. "Well, what then? Be helpful for once."

"The uh," Jean waved his hand dismissively. "Black jeans with the rips. And a white tank top, one of those sweet button-ups over it."

 

"So, basically, a flannel. Except with like flowers and shit."

"Whatever, dude."

Eren dug around in his closet and once he was dressed, he had to admit he looked pretty cool. Older than a freshman, anyway. He put on some classic vans, purposefully messed up his hair, and felt entirely too eager at noon. It felt more like he was preparing for a date than a frat party, which he attributed to his nerves. After all, he was trying to impress someone, so the nerves weren't mistaken.

"You think you can pull this off?" asked Jean, eyes glued to their shared TV and thumbs moving rapidly over a controller. "You're just going to walk up to him and ask for an invitation and you think he's going to be all like, yeah, totally dude, you seem cool?"

"He's not a fucking celebrity. He's not Bill Gates, or Hugh Hefner or… whoever else everyone seems to think he is," Eren countered with a huff. He was assuring himself more than he was assuring Jean, but that didn't need to be mentioned. "He's a regular person. His clout doesn't make him untouchable."

"Maybe not, but his gang-related past and criminal charges sorta do."

"His what?"

"Nothing, man."

Eren rubbed his temples and wondered what got him in this mess. Was all of this worth it? His social status didn't mean much in the long run, but the connections this frat would offer him did. He wanted the respect the rest of those guys had, he wanted the job opportunities and the feeling of brotherhood. He wanted to feel like he belonged somewhere within this campus of 35,000 students, and not just in his dorm with Jean. It sounded incredibly arbitrary, but it felt anything but.

Eren had nothing to offer a man like Levi Ackerman. He didn't do drugs. He didn't even know the names of most of them or what they looked like. He didn't know anyone who could be customers for Levi. He had no connections, no money, and no status. He knew so little about this mysterious man that imagining anything about his life left Eren pulling blank scenes in his mind. It didn't matter what he did in his free time. It didn't matter what drove him to that life. It didn't matter that his social media was private, or what his sexual orientation was. All that mattered was that he needed to trust Eren just enough to invite him over for one stupid party. And Eren could lie about who he was if that's what it took.

"Erwin is like his best friend," murmured Eren, throwing his various things into his backpack. He had some errands to run before this party tonight. "Why can't he just get me the hookup."

"My brother thinks you're a twerp and would never help you with anything."

-

That night, Eren had to stop his hand from shaking as he opened Jean's passenger-side door and got out of the car. It was cooler than usual, but that would be a good relief if he needed to step out of the undoubtedly hot and stuffy house. There were already cars overflowing out of the general parking area and down the street. The music was loud and muffled, bass reverberating through Eren's body from the parking lot.

"Do you think he's here already?" Eren heard himself ask. Faintly, though, as his voice could barely be heard over the music as they approached the frat house.

Jean had a black hoodie on, which he now had his hands aggressively burrowed into as he complained about the cold. "I would guess so, yeah. Lots of potential consumers here on this fine Fall night."

Why was Eren so goddamn nervous? He couldn't figure it out. This dude was fucking scary, or at least, he was if the rumors were true. And even if he wasn't a mob boss criminal, Eren didn't like being flat out rejected and laughed at for his efforts, which he hauntingly anticipated after this conversation. Yet, as he and Jean entered the frat house, he knew immediately that Levi Ackerman was indeed in the building. The most obvious clue being the man himself standing on top of the dining room table counting a gigantic wad of cash.

Eren stood, dumbfounded, watching as this man entertained a crowd of people. He was entirely different from the guy Eren had seen at the last party, who had just sat bored and tired looking until he left. Every time Levi counted past another hundred, the crowd of drunk students would cheer. There was no way Eren was getting past that crowd or saying a single word to the man while he was swaying dangerously on top of a wooden mountain.

Maybe it would be easier to get an invite if Levi was this intoxicated?

Eventually, Levi did come down from the table. He seemed to be supervised by none other than Erwin Smith himself. Jean grimaced at seeing his older brother, which Eren didn't understand. If he had a half brother as popular and well-liked as Erwin, he would be telling everyone that they were related. Jean, however, seemed to stay as far as he could from Erwin, but didn't refrain from taking the handouts that came with being his younger brother. In any case, Erwin was enticing Levi to take a seat in a closed off room, which the crowd didn't enthuse over but Levi eventually relented to. The large doors closed behind them, leaving Levi and Erwin out of sight but definitely not out of mind.

People began to form a line at the door. Buyers, Eren presumed.

"I'll buy something from him," Eren suddenly blurted out, looking at Jean for approval. "It's the only way I can get closer."

"What the hell are you gonna buy? He doesn't sell pot."

"What does he sell?"

"Coke, molly, bath salts, ecstasy, LSD--"

"One of those, then."

Jean looked at him like Eren had five heads. Eren didn't care. It wasn't like he had to use the cocaine, he just had to buy it. Easy-peasy.

Before Jean could tell him it was a bad idea, he went into action. First, he took two shots of Fireball just to work his courage up. Then, he let it settle into his bloodstream as he waited in the line to be able to go into the room to talk to Levi. His hands were shaking less, but his thoughts were coming to him slower. All he needed to think about was two things; the cocaine, and the invitation.

Simple.

The line went quickly. Most of the people shopping for illegal drugs seemed to mean strictly business and knew what they wanted. None of the people in the line looked like they even did illegal drugs, but what would Eren know about rich white fraternity kids. And what would he know about drugs in the first place? And he certainly knew nothing about Levi Ackerman, which was annoying in its own right.

He was almost there. Almost about to buy fucking cocaine for a party invitation.

He couldn't do this shit. There was no way. What did he think he was doing, who did he think he was? Buying cocaine as though he couldn't go to fucking jail for that shit. He could get kicked out of college. He could--

"You're up. Wait, aren't you Jean's friend?"

Eren was face to face with Erwin Smith. When did that happen? He had not thought this through. Before he could waste another second gaping with a stupid look on his face, he darted past Erwin and into the room, shutting the door behind him.

Turning around faced him with Levi Ackerman, who sat on a couch with two large suitcases next to him and a blank look on his face. The room was lit only by a side-table lamp, and Levi had one ankle resting on his knee as he leaned back, arm draped across the back of the couch, looking once again nothing like the person Eren had just seen outside.

"Well, kid, I don't have all fucking night."

Eren was not prepared for this shit. He remained planted at the door, although his brain was telling his feet to move. "I'm sorry," he blurted. "I want, erm, I want to buy some coke."

"Is that right. Well, I'm not going to hand-deliver it to you all the way over there, dumbass."

He was mean, and scary, and rude and assertive and Eren wanted to turn around and leave. He had steel-colored eyes that were dark under his droopy eyelids. He wasn't sober, that much was obvious by the slur in his words, but he wasn't fucking around either. His hair hung in his eyes in a methodical way, head tilted to the side, strong but slender body not unrelaxed but firm, and Eren was just some eighteen-year-old kid--

"If you came for what I think you came for, you can turn around and leave."

Eren blinked so hard he felt his eyes crinkle. Levi had spoken, but the annoyed look on his face hadn't changed. Had he been that obvious? This wasn't going to do.

"I'm here for some coke," Eren said, attempting to sound somewhat confident as he moved closer to Levi. "That's all."

"Alright," said the older man slowly, eyes narrowing as he leaned forward to put his elbows on his knees. Making direct eye contact with Eren, which shot adrenaline through the younger kid's body, he announced, "One gram. $200 dollars."

Eren sucked in a breath. Was that the going rate these days? "Okay," he said, stupidly, and Levi let out a ridiculously loud scoff.

"I knew it. You've never bought cocaine in your fucking life. $200 for a gram is fucking highway robbery, kid. Go the fuck home and read a goddamn book or something," Levi spoke curtly, a disdainful frown on his face. Eren figured, and with every word he winced a little more. "I'm not inviting you to a fucking party."

"I'll pay whatever you want," Eren said, firmly. Levi's eyes flicked to his, his hand twitching slightly. "I just need--"

"I know what you need. Or, what you think you need. And you're not buying your way into my presence, nor are you buying your way into this shithole frat," finished Levi, eyes boring into Eren's. "You're a little fucking kid, I'm not selling you cocaine."

"Then don't sell me anything, just invite me to a party," Eren countered, more assertive now, stepping closer and feeling courage rise in him. It made no sense. He had no ground here, and Levi only continued to shoot him down. This man obviously thought so little of Eren, it felt like he was about to spit at his feet. The redness in his tired eyes, the rigid motion in his body, and the mushing together of his words indicated extreme intoxication but it wasn't making the man any more easygoing, it seemed. If anything, he was on edge.

Levi was standing now, arms crossed over his chest, swaying slightly as he caught his balance. "Every... shithead kid in this house wants what you want, and you think I'm going to give it to you, you six-foot toddler? Let me show you something," he dropped down to rummage in one of the black suitcases. Eren watched in bewilderment as hundreds of pills, packets, and baggies were revealed when the lid to the suitcase popped open. Then, the man pulled out a baggie, white powder inside. Eren wasn't an idiot, he knew what cocaine looked like. "This is enough cocaine to kill a person. Just in this one bag."

"I don't want--"

"Of course you don't. You actually have a decent life, probably," Levi said, chuckling dryly as he opened the baggie and tipped out a line on the back of his hand with extreme skill and obvious practice. Eren stared. He continued to stare as Levi plugged one nostril and snorted the line like it was second nature. A sniffle later, Levi let out a long sigh, looked Eren dead in the eye, and said, "You should probably fucking leave now. Or, snort a line and prove you're really here to buy."

Maybe it was just Eren. Maybe it was just the drugs that were undeniably in Levi's system. Maybe it was the overcast of the poor lighting in the room, but whatever it was, there was a dread in Levi's eyes as he glared down Eren. It wasn't hard to detect if you didn't mistake it for annoyance. But Eren had seen annoyance, and this wasn't that; this was hollowness, so much so that it sent a shiver down Eren's spine.

Eren turned and gave a short knock, alerting Erwin and slipping out of the room as soon as the door was opened. He heard Levi shout, "That's what I fucking thought!" and it made his fists clench as he walked.

Chapter Text

He was lying on his back, sprawled out across his bed, long limbs stretching to every corner. His eyes were glued on the ceiling yet unfocused as his mind was elsewhere. He didn't see a ceiling in his mind, he saw a black-haired man with milky white skin and two suitcases full of felony offenses.

He was skipping class at that moment. It would be alright, all they did in ENG112 was have discussions anyway. He had to go to work in a few hours but that wasn't a pressing issue. It was only his second day and he was still in training. All Eren could focus on what that self-righteous jerk whom everyone worshipped. He couldn't help but be pissed off. He'd been dismissed, treated like a child, but he had expected that. What he didn't expect was for Levi to be the way that he was. He wasn't some big badass, he was a walking zombie. He was a user and had access to an overwhelmingly large supply, if the glimpse Eren got was any indication.

How did a drug addict run a fucking mini drug empire by himself? Throw memorable parties every weekend? Stay alive through all this?

Maybe Erwin took care of him. Maybe Erwin was his overseer, maybe he even helped with the business. But Eren knew Erwin, he had grown up staying at Jean's house all the time and never had Erwin seemed like the type to get involved in something like that. Maybe they were just really close, or maybe they were together romantically, though Eren knew Erwin had had girlfriends before. Eren frowned and shook his head slightly. This was all too much. There was something he was missing here. Levi Ackerman had to have a weak point, a place where he could be caught off-guard.

There was, indeed, and it would be revealed to Eren accidentally a week and a half later.

Armin was Eren's best friend, but they went to different colleges. This being because Armin was like triple times as smart as Eren would ever be and therefore was able to get into a much higher-ranking college. You may have heard of it, does the University of Chicago ring a bell? Luckily, though, UC was only a half-hour drive from Eren's much more vast and less-important college. They got to see each other often, and since Armin was coming to town that weekend, Eren refrained from any partying behavior.

Eren and Armin sat in a small downtown café drinking smoothies at nine PM on Friday night. It was a nice night and Armin was talking Eren's ear off about his calculus professor, Eren only half-listening out of pure politeness. There was no frat party tonight as tomorrow night was the first football game of the season and the party was scheduled to happen afterward. Eren had never been big on sports, but Jean was going and Eren needed to do some social mingling, so he bought tickets for himself and Armin to go. He, however, had no intention of bringing Amrin around the frat house Saturday night to witness the immorality that went down. He didn't need another lecture.

"How are your grades so far?" Armin was asking him, which pulled Eren from his thoughts. With a blink and shake of his head, Eren re-engaged himself into the conversation.

"They're alright for now," Eren said absently. Truth be told, he hadn't been checking. He'd been too preoccupied with something, or someone. "I'm sure you're blowing it out of the water like always."

"Well, sure, but the calculus class is really starting to worry me… Eren, are you listening?"

Chin in hand, Eren felt terrible. He couldn't focus. The music in this restaurant wasn't loud but it was still distracting enough, along with the tens of conversations going on around him and the millions of thoughts in his brain. He sighed, squeezed his eyes shut, and shook his head. "I'm sorry Armin. I think I'm just tired."

"It's fine, I guess I'm kind of rambling at this point. I just want to know that you're doing okay Eren," Armin said, a small smile on his face. His long blonde hair was tied back into a low ponytail, something that he hadn't been able to do the last time Eren saw him. His eyes had the same kind and loving twinkle in them as always, though. "You're… making friends? Taking care of yourself?"

Eren was relieved he hadn't hurt Armin's feelings. Sometimes he forgot to make time for Armin to let him talk about himself, which wasn't right of Eren to do. Armin always took an interest in Eren's life. "Yeah, of course. Jean and I get along, I've told you about him, right? My roommate? We're not best friends or anything but we do pretty much everything together right now. You don't have to worry about me!"

Armin looked at him seriously, a small but unreal smile on his face. He didn't seem convinced. Eren scratched the back of his neck, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. Did he know about the drinking and the parties and the pot? There was no way. Maybe Eren sounded more distressed than he thought he did. In his normal jeans and t-shirt outfit, he took a look at himself and didn't see anything wrong with his appearance. Armin's worry and concern seemed unwarranted, or at least, Eren wasn't going to be able to give him any answers to his questions. He couldn't explain the Levi situation to him, after all.

They paid, or Eren paid for both of them really, and then they started walking back to campus. Armin was staying in his dorm for the weekend, something Jean had okay-ed. It was starting to get cool as Fall was taking an early start in Chicago, as usual. Eren and Armin stayed mostly silent on their walk back, a lot on Eren's mind and not much worth mentioning on Armin's. Eren showed Armin his dorm building, then brought him up to his room, which Armin praised on size and compared to his much smaller dorm at UC.

"It's not as messy as I anticipated," teased Armin, setting his bag down on the floor by Eren's bed. Eren chuckled, nervously kicking some clothes underneath his bed. "Jean must keep you to a high standard."

"Jean's actually messier than I am, so," Eren said, slightly boasting. As if on cue, his phone began to buzz in his back pocket. Jean was calling, which was weird because Jean only ever texted Eren unless there was an emergency.

Eren answered, giving Armin a look. "Hello?"

"Eren, dude, you need to get over here."

"Here? Where's 'here'? Armin is here, man," Eren answered, a scoff coming shortly after, as he eyed Armin looking at him in curiosity. "I told you last week."

"Okay, whatever, bring him too-- Look, I know you're all pissy and everything still, but it's After-Hours at the Red Light District, you know the club on Sina St., and you'd never guess who's here."

Eren looked around his tiny dorm room, looked at Armin, the picture of total morality, and actually fought with himself over what move he should make next. He knew who Jean was talking about. Who else? What he didn't know was what he was supposed to tell Armin, his childhood best friend. Eren wasn't gay, he just really needed to go to a gay club and find a certain guy who he also hated.

"What does it have to do with me?" Eren asked, a frown coming over his face.

"Come on, Eren. I showed up by chance for Marco's birthday, and I never thought I'd see fucking Levi Ackerman sitting in the VIP room sipping Bacardi. I know you want in on this."

Eren hesitated only for a second. "You think I can..."

"Flirt, dance, shake your ass a little and get his address? I do. But you're going to be really fucking drunk if you want to pull it off dude, unless you're a little less straight than you've been letting on."

It was insane. He was going to try to fake being gay to seduce a guy he hated? All for the purpose of getting on his good side? How could that possibly end well? Why was Eren fucking considering it at all? Moving his phone away from his face, he looked at Armin apologetically. He felt terrible putting him in this position. "Armin, do you think… Do you care if we go somewhere else tonight?"

Armin curiously looked at him, "Where, Eren?"

"A gay nightclub."

A blink and a flush of Armin's pale cheeks revealed his true thoughts. "Eren, I don't drink… we aren't even old enough to drink or anything… and, are you even…?"

"No," answered Eren quickly, trying to think of a way to explain himself out of this one. "Jean, erm, works there as a… server. He needs us to go because… his car broke down."

"I see," Armin said, deflating a little, relief washing over his face. "So we won't have to go inside?"

"Wellllll, I don't know. We should really get a move on, though."

As they walked, or more-so, as Eren pushed Armin toward his car, he had a come-to-Jesus moment with himself. What the hell was he about to do? Could he pull it off, or would he leave missing some teeth? He was going to need to be a couple of beers drunker and a couple hits higher before he could build up the courage to even talk to Levi Ackerman again. And the VIP room was another issue; how the fuck was he going to get in there?

Armin was silent and sort of boiling the entire ride. He had his arms crossed, a displeased look on his face, and was looking out the window, not giving Eren the benefit of his attention. Eren drove with his hands tightly gripping the wheel and the radio up loud enough to almost overcome the tension in the car.

"I'm sorry Armin," Eren said after a while of driving. They were almost downtown, but the traffic was worse than usual. "I didn't plan for this to be how we spent our weekend together."

"I'm not mad, Eren," Armin said with a sigh, his hands collapsing into his lap. He looked at his fingers and said, "I just know you're not telling me something and I want to know what it is."

"I know. I'll tell you eventually, I promise."

They arrived at the club and Eren parked the car near the front for easy get-away action, should the need arise. He was wringing his hands as they approached the building, Armin staying close behind, and Eren noticed his own hand shaking as he presented his (fake) ID to the bouncer. The bouncer let them in without an issue and Eren reminded himself to pay a compliment to the dude that sold him his fake.

"Now look, I'm going to work on something important for a while, and you can talk to Jean. He has a friend named Marco that's really cool, you know? You'll like him," Eren was telling Armin as they maneuvered through the crowd. It was apparently a busy night for the strip club (no shit, it's a Friday night), and Eren was worried someone would scoop Armin up and steal him or something. He needed Jean to watch him for a while.

When they found Jean, he was at the bar ordering a round of shots. Eren cursed himself for bringing Armin around this mess but introduced them nonetheless. "Armin, Jean. Jean, Armin. I've got to figure out a plan, Jean, so do you mind watching Armin for a while?"

"I'm an adult man," Armin said, the first thing he had uttered since they walked through the doors. "I don't need to be babysat, Eren."

Eren winced, looking between the two. Jean put a shot glass in his hand and said, "Drink. It's going to be a long night."

Eren did as told, setting the shot glass on the bar when he was done. Once again, he looked at Armin in apology. "I'll be back as soon as this is taken care of, swear. It shouldn't take too long. Hopefully."

Armin nodded, though he was looking at the ground and had his arms wrapped around himself uncomfortably. Eren slapped Jean on the back in thanks and took off to figure out where the VIP room was, where Levi was, and what he was going to. All while texting Jean, which was much easier than yelling over the music.

As he slid past sweaty, grinding bodies, Eren felt his phone buzz.

Jean, 10:22 PM: find the VIP room. the only way to get in is to be invited in by someone already in, or be a waitress, dancer, etc. maybe you can steal someone's apron?

Eren, 10:22 PM: hell no dude. and Levi isn't going to invite me in there

Jean, 10:23 PM: welllllllll see if you can convince someone else to, then

It was the best shot he had. The room wasn't hard to find. It was really just a sectioned off area of the club guarded by big black curtains and a velvet rope with a bouncer at the entrance. Eren tapped his hand against his leg, uncertain of his next move. Maybe try to sneak in? He'd definitely get kicked out. And what was he going to do when he got in there? Just go up and demand an invite? That hadn't worked out in his favor the time before. He was going to have to think smarter, and fast, too.

He saw a server, a girl who looked about his age, heading into the VIP room. That was his shot. He had to talk his way in.

Sliding to get behind her, Eren tapped her shoulder. She was a short blonde girl, hair pulled back, reminding him of Armin if Armin was even more feminine. She was arranging drinks on a tray when she stopped at Eren's touch, looking at him in surprise. “Yes, sir?” She asked, timidly.

“Hi, I was wondering if you could… help me with something?” Eren asked, trying to sound as genuine as possible. He was about to tell a whoooole bunch of lies. “You see that man in there, the dark-haired one, kind of short?”

The waitress's wide eyes follow Eren's pointing finger and she nodded rapidly. “Yes, that's--”

“You see, I'm his fiance,” explained Eren slowly, placing a hand over his own heart for added effect. Oh, goddammit he hoped this shit worked. “My name is Eren. I'm here to surprise him, as I live… out of town. California, actually!”

“California? Wow,” said the girl. Her name tag, Eren noticed, said Christa. She gulped, blinked a few times, processing the information. “That's a really long way to travel.”

Eren offered a gentle, and forcedly sad, smile. “Yes, it's so hard on us… But, do you think you could let me into the VIP room, Christa? I don't want him to be alerted that I'm here and have the surprise ruined.”

Eren really hoped Christa wouldn't get in trouble for this.

Christa seemed to be battling hesitation in her mind. She faltered, looking at the room, and looking back at Eren, before taking an unsteady breath. “Well, yes, I suppose I can help… That's so romantic, after all, I don't think he would mind..."

Fucking jackpot!

Just like that, Christa took her tray and went off toward the VIP room, Eren in tow. He felt like the world's greatest actor, like a genius mastermind, a conman for having outsmarted the system. Really, he was preying on a young, hopeless-romantic girl’s heart, but that could be addressed later. He took a drink off her tray and downed it, thanking her after.

When they were stopped by the bouncer, Eren saw Christa say something to him. The thumping of the bass and the millions of different conversations made it impossible to hear them talking. After a moment, the bouncer narrowed his eyes at Eren, but unlatched the rope and let them inside.

It was quieter and much fancier in the VIP room. There were round tables with pristine white tablecloths on them, candles at the center of each table, and several different servers walking around the room. At the center table sat Levi Ackerman, dressed in a button-down shirt and slacks, cigarette in his hand, and Eren had to take a second to recover from the whiplash.

This man couldn't be the same druggie in a hoodie and Adidas track-pants that Eren had met before.

General chatter was occurring in the room. Christa had escaped already, not wanting to be blamed if Eren was a phony and someone was to be fired for their mistake. Eren put his jittery hands in his pockets and sucked in a breath. Here goes nothing, he figured.

As he approached the center table jittery and fearful, the conversation Levi was having stopped. His eyes moved to Eren and at first, shock overcame his features, but it was suppressed and cooled the moment it appeared. The cigarette met his lips and those icy grey eyes met Eren's, full of amusement.

Amusement was better than pure anger, right?

Levi took a drag of his cigarette and looked Eren up and down. Eren was now standing at the opposite side of the round table, hands in his pockets and several pairs of eyes on him. Next to Levi sat a brown-haired woman with glasses, and Levi's other side was an empty chair. A few others sat around the table, and every one of them was looking at Eren in curiosity.

“Now, what the fuck is this?” asked Levi, smirk on his lips. He didn't even sound pissed! It was as though he was… teasing?

Oh god, Eren was fucked.

“Mr. Ackerman,” Eren said, swallowing, trying to shake himself of the nerves. Lie! Just lie! “I've been sent to… relay a message.”

“Have you.”

“Yes,” answered Eren, far too eagerly. Reigning himself in, he gave a small nod. Levi's cigarette was ashed in the tray on the table. “I… work here.”

“Do you, now?”

Eren was wearing a white t-shirt and a pair of khakis. He did not look like he worked there.

“Yes, actually. And I was sent to retrieve you… by the owner?”

“The owner,” repeated Levi, coy look on his face as an eyebrow was raised.

“You, erm, have a private dance waiting for you, Mr. Ackerman…” what the fuck? Did this club even do private dances? How did this just turn into some shitty, low-dollar porno? Eren was absolutely pulling this shit out of his ass by the second. Mentally, he punched himself in the fucking jaw. “Paid for by another guest, as a gift to you.”

Now, everyone at the table was looking at Eren like he was a damn lunatic. The brown-haired woman scoffed a laugh, looking at Levi in disbelief. The others began to snicker, leaning into each other to whisper. The only person not looking at Eren like he was a mythical creature was Levi himself, who had his lips in a stern line and was drumming his fingers on the table rhythmically.

“Well, you heard the boy, everyone,” announced Levi with a sigh. He got up, to Eren's utter surprise. “The owner has requested to see me. What a nice surprise.”

To further Eren's confusion, the people at the table began to… laugh? Eren glanced between them, wondering what he had said wrong. Clearly, something he'd lied about wasn't believable, evidenced by the look of amusement on Levi's face himself and the snickering happening around the table. Levi brushed off his sleek dress pants, adjusted his button-up shirt, and look at Eren expectantly. His cool eyes, the smile toying at his lips, it was all so out-of-place on this face; wasn't he supposed to be a violent drug dealer?

“Well,” Levi said. He cocked his head to the side and motioned towards the entrance of the VIP room. “Lead the way.”

Eren wondered why Levi was going along with it. He knew that Levi knew who he was. He knew Levi knew that he was lying. That much was obvious by the facial expressions he was trying to suppress. Eren took a deep breath, locked eyes with Levi for a moment in question, and then turned. His body felt extra heavy on his feet like he was being forced to march towards his own doom. Levi was close behind, he could feel, and Eren soon realized he didn't even know where he was taking them.

The left the VIP room, and Eren began to scan the room for the next portion of his plan. He couldn't reveal himself in his lie, as that would get him absolutely nowhere. If he was really a worker here, he'd know where he was going. His faltering, his hesitation in his steps, it wasn't making his lie any more believable. There were some doors along the walls, but Eren had no clue where they led. So he stood still, chewing on his lip, eyes glancing from place to place, unsure of his next move.

Finally, he resolved to head toward the closest door he could find. Levi followed without a word, and Eren hoped that the older man was just as clueless as to where any of these doors led as he was. He wasn't trying to make himself look stupid.

The door handle, thankfully, turned. Eren could feel himself breathe a sigh of relief when the door opened and revealed a dark room. With a flip of a light switch on the wall, the room was illuminated, revealing a sort of office. There was a desk, a chair, some file cabinets and a window with the curtains drawn. Eren could feel Levi standing directly behind him, so he went into the room, motioning to the desk.

“You can, um, wait here,” Eren said, stupidly. It was like he had forgotten about the entire purpose of this lie, to get an invitation. How was he supposed to turn this around now?

“Who is it?” asked Levi, standing in the middle of the room, hands in the pockets of his dress pants. He looked so put-together and handsome like this, a stark contrast to stained track pants and a tattered hoodie. Even his dress shoes were shiny and reflective of the room around them.

“Who… is what?” Eren blinked, confused, hand on the doorknob for a quick escape.

Levi's eyes narrowed. “My dancer, you know, for my private dance. I'm assuming it's you?”

Eren's breath hitched. Wait a second. “Me? No, I'm not--”

Levi was walking toward him again now, cornering Eren against the door and his body. He had that same look on his face like he knew like something had given Eren away. How would Levi know if Eren worked here or not? He could be a new hire for all Levi knew. Levi was just a customer here. But really, Eren knew, logically, that the best way to try to get this invitation would be to stay. Give Levi a show, if Eren could manage it, and ask for an invitation as payment.

Was it crazy? Yes. Could he pull it off? Well, he could try.

When Eren pulled himself back to reality, Levi was inches from his face. Eren could see the bags under his eyes more prominently now; so, this was the same man, after all. Levi licked his lips, eyes flickering to the office chair. “Come on, then. Aren't you going to give me a show?”

“Right… here?”

“Where else?”

Oh, fucking hell. Eren really had not thought this through.

“I'm not a dancer,” Eren told him, firmly. He stayed planted at the door as Levi sauntered over to the office chair, taking a seat like he owned the place. “I'm just a server here. I'm new. I don't have any dancing attire or anything.”

“You heard your boss. I'm owed a private dance, and you're the one he sent for me.”

“Levi, I--”

“Ah, ah, ah. So you've broken character. I’m Mr. Ackerman to you.”

Eren cursed himself. He cursed Jean, who gave him the idea, and the frat, who he blamed for his actions. He cursed Levi Ackerman, for being a manipulative motherfucker. He could do this, he told himself. He wasn't some inexperienced child, and he could manage to make himself look sexy if that's what it takes to get an invite. He wasn't going to let Levi win this time.

Eren was just grateful that he wore a new pair of underwear.

Taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, Eren removed himself from the door. He walked over to the desk and placed his phone, from his pocket, down. Then his keys. “Do you prefer music?”

“Let's skip your shitty music taste this time.”

Eren's eyes flickered to Levi at that implies that there would ever be another time. He felt his fingers start to tremble as he pulled his shirt over his head, going slowly because of his nerves, not for the dramatic effect. It was odd, overly intimate to be undressed in front of a man he barely knew in utter and complete silence, save for the music that could be faintly heard beyond the walls. Eren tried not to think. He didn't want to think about the fact that he was about to embarrass himself, or that he was dancing for a man (Eren was straight!), or that that man was Levi Ackerman.

Levi stayed still in his chair, leaning back, relaxed, arms glued to the armrests. What moved were his eyes as he scanned Eren up and down, pausing at his fingers to watch him maneuver the buckle on his belt. Eren kept his own eyes on his own hands as well, knowing that if he looked at Levi in any aspect, his face would turn red and his anxiety would demand that he leave immediately.

“There's no touching on my end, in a private dance,” Levi said, his voice an octave lower than usual. Eren wondered if Levi was trying to calm his nerves. He took note in the change of tone that Levi was using, now talking much softer, far less abrasive and far less profanity than any other time they had talked. Eren looked at him now, and Levi gave a small smirk. “But, if you’re any good at this, I might ask permission.”

A shudder flew through Eren's body. He passed it off as disgust; there was nothing about this man that was (supposed to be) sexy to Eren. To start, he was a man, and never before in his life had Eren even looked at a man in a sexual sense. He didn't plan on starting now, no matter how mysterious Levi was, or how his jaw clicked into place when Eren unbuttoned his pants.

Definitely not now.

“I thought I was just a kid to you,” said Eren, finding some form of confidence from deep down in his soul. It was likely due to adrenaline, more than anything. He toed off his shoes, kicking them to the side. “You seem to be humming a different tune tonight.”

“Am I?” asked Levi, drumming his fingers on the armrests of the chair. He pondered this for a moment. “All I'm doing is accepting something that was offered to me. All you’re doing is your job. What's the issue here?”

Eren stayed quiet. He had nothing to counter back with. So he dropped his pants, kicked them to the side as well, and was left in nothing but his underwear. It was nerve-wracking to be nearly naked in front of this fully-clothed man, but Levi wasn't looking at his body, anyway. He was looking right at Eren's face, an unreadable expression on his own. Eren shifted uncomfortable, unsure of what to do next, unsure of why he was even in the room in the first place. He'd already taken this too far.

“What do I do now?” he asked before he could advise himself against it. He had already admitted that he was completely untrained in this area, how much more could he embarrass himself?

Levi raised his eyebrows, gave a little shrug of his shoulders. “Whatever you think will make me feel good.”

If only it were that easy.

Eren muttered some curses under his breath. God, he wished some music was playing. All he had to go off of was the faint beating of the bass speakers outside. He decided to follow that rhythm, if he could, and did the first thing that came to his mind. He moved forward to straddle Levi and the chair, an awkward position to maneuver into, all while his eyes were tightly closed. Levi said nothing, did nothing, and when Eren opened his eyes again, he was within inches of Levi's face for the second time tonight. Only this time, their crotches were pressed together and Eren's ass was planted on Levi's lap.

Levi was looking at him with boredom now.

Well, that would not do. Eren was going to have to do more than just sit on the man. His hands were gripping the back of the chair, but he was afraid of the next step. Besides, it was an incredibly foreign thing for Eren to be able to feel another man's dick outline through his clothing. He was terrified. Gulping, he trained his eyes on Levi's face, on the faint smile lines around his lips and the fact that he could use some chapstick. “Do you… like grinding?”

Eren grimaced at his own words, sounding like a twelve-year-old kid. Levi had to snort to stop himself from laughing, and Eren frowned deeply in response. “Sure, kid. Show me what you've got.”

“You don't have to mock,” Eren said, growing frustrated. He stayed still, upset with Levi now. “I'm doing you a favor.”

“Don't start fucking crying. Either start moving or get off me.”

There was the Levi he knew from before.

Slowly, and bitterly, Eren strengthened his hold on the chair and began to move his hips, trying to keep the rest of his body still. He rocked back and forth, worried he was going too slow, his movements jagged and rough. There was no smoothness, no practice, no skill, but he was trying his best. He would roll his body, his hips into the ones below him, pause, roll, pause. At first, he was growing discouraged, as Levi had no reaction at all. When he looked at the older man's face, all he could see was furrowed brows and annoyance.

But he must've mistaken that look, because after about ten slow rolls of Eren's hips, Levi shifted beneath him slightly and a quiet sound came from the back of his throat.

Eren felt like he had just won a Gold Medal.

He knew a stupid grin came over his face, he couldn't help himself. He had made this seemingly emotionless man react in a way other than anger. He was proud, despite everything. If his confidence had been low before, it skyrocketed then.

“Goddammit, kid, are you going to move?”

Eren flinched, looking at Levi in surprise. The man had his jaw locked again, eyes squinted slightly, looking pissed. His fists, on the chair, were balled up. Eren was amazed. The slow and steady pace he had been rocking back and forth in for the past five minutes was driving Levi nearly insane, and Eren realized he had accidentally been teasing.

Without a verbal response, Eren leaned back, angling himself better so that his ass was directly on Levi's crotch. He had to keep himself propped up slightly, because if he were to sit directly on Levi, he knew it would probably hurt more than anything. Slight friction was all he needed, he figured. Hands at the ends of the armrests behind him for balance, Eren swallowed and began to grind into Levi's lap at a far more rapid pace.

It felt fucking good. Of course, it did. Even if Eren wasn't gay, he could appreciate the feeling of continuous rubbing against his dick. And Levi felt like he was packing something considerable in the crotch of those dress pants if it counted for anything. Eren shook the thought from his head. He just had to get through this, and it was okay if he felt good while doing it. It didn't make him gay, right?

Levi's eyes scrunched shut for a moment, but opened immediately after and stayed on the place where their bodies were connected. He watched as Eren moved against him, his breath coming out in short puffs. Eren, if nothing, loved watching Levi react to him, overjoyed at the thought of having any control over the man.

The friction was becoming too much for Eren after a moment, and he wondered if he would even be able to continue doing this. He definitely did not want to fucking jizz on himself after ten minutes of high-school level grinding, and especially not over top of Levi Ackerman. But damn it felt good. It was dirty, they were in someone's office they were definitely not supposed to be in, Levi was years older than him, someone Eren should not be fraternizing with at all; whatever that all meant, it made the situation feel that much hotter to Eren, and the fact that Levi was a man had nothing to do with the sexual response his body was giving out.

Eren was grinding now for his own benefit, for the feeling he was receiving, lost in his world. For this reason, when firm hands came down on his hips, he jolted. He had nearly forgotten where he was and who he was on top of, but the strong fingers digging into his hip bones and halting him reminded him quickly. Eren stilled, unable to continue the motion as Levi held him firmly.

Eren had to will himself to not jerk against the hands, breathing heavy. “You… You said no touch--”

“You’re straight, aren't you?”

Eren blanked. He was. He had always been. But Levi couldn't know that, not when he was trying to put on this show, not when he was trying to seduce him for the purpose of, well, his benefit. He was using Levi, pure and simple, and it felt wrong, but so was Levi for exploiting him like this. “No, of course not, I wouldn’t be doing… this, would I?"

Levi kept his hands on Eren's hips, pausing to think, and then gave a small shake of his head. “You fucking would if you were wanting something… say, an invitation.”

“You knew--”

“Of course I knew. I also knew you were straight, I just wanted to see how goddamn desperate you actually were. How far you were willing to go. You're fucking disgusting like the rest of them.”

With that, Levi began to stand, removing Eren from on top of him. Eren felt like he could be swallowed up by the ground. His confidence, his pleasure, it all came crashing down. He felt sick, both physically and mentally. Levi straightened himself, a total poker-face for an expression. Eren just stood and watched, knowing nothing he could say could help the situation.

Levi moved to leave, hand on the doorknob, when Eren finally spoke. “How did you know?”

This time, Levi actually chuckled, turning his eyes to Eren in an unreadable look. “I own this club, you stupid motherfucker.”

Chapter Text

Eren had fucked up. Nobody had to tell him that, it was obvious enough. He told himself every minute. He also told Jean, and he told Armin too, just with a lot less detail and explanation. He told anyone who would listen that he had fucked up. He also told them, solemnly, that he had no clue as to how he was going to fix it.

Eren slept in. He ate in the cafeteria. He stayed far, far away from the frat house, and skipped the party on Saturday. He skipped the football game, too, instead opting to take Armin to see a movie. Eren didn't feel like trying to socialize and fraternize and make friends right now. He didn't even feel like leaving his dorm. 

On Sunday, Armin went back to UC, and Eren hugged him goodbye and apologized for Friday once again. Armin told him that it was alright, that he needed to get out of the house for once anyway. Sluggishly, Eren had returned back to his dorm, where Jean was taking a shower. When he exited the bathroom, Eren was face-down on his bed, his blankets pulled over top of his head. 

“Eren, dude, you can't suffocate yourself with a knitted blanket. There's holes, man.”

Eren groaned, kicking the blankets off of himself, but stayed in the position he was in. Muffled, he said, “I want to die, Jean. I embarrassed myself so fucking bad.”

“So what? He's just a person.”

“I don't know ‘so what'. I'll never get into Sina Sigma Kappa after that. Levi will make sure of it.”

“I doubt he was that upset. Like you said, he seemed like he knew the jig was up the entire time. What's the big deal?”

Eren rolled over, eyes closing and the heels of his palms coming up to rub at them aggressively. “I can't believe I thought I could seduce him. He's probably been with hundreds of guys, all hotter and more experienced than me.”

“So is that what's upsetting you?” Jean asked, arms crossed as he watched Eren from the corner of their room. His town was hung around his hips and there was a teasing lilt in his voice. “That you couldn't get him to sleep with you?”

“What? No!” Eren protested, propping himself up onto his elbows and giving a pouty frown. 

“Did you enjoy it?”

“Did I enjoy grinding on another human being? Sure! That doesn't make me gay--”

“If he had taken it further,” Jean asked, throwing on a shirt and passively wiggling his eyebrows. Eren cringed. “Would you have let him?”

Eren faltered, he choked, he hadn't even thought that far and now that he looked back on it, he hadn’t been disgusted by their actions, nor by Levi's hands on his hips--

“You're taking too long to answer. You're definitely gay, you damn fruitloop. But for Levi Ackerman, really?”

Ohhhhh, God. Could Eren's life get any worse?

Putting a pillow over his head this time, Eren let out a muffled scream of frustration. “There's no way,” he whined, thrashing his legs on the bed like a child having a tantrum. “I would rather die. I am not gay. I am not gay!”

“Will you shut up? I'm watching YouTube.”

“Jean, this is a big deal,” Eren angrily burst, taking hold of the pillow and thrusting it at Jean. It hit him square in the face, to which Jean cursed. “If I were gay, I surely wouldn't just be figuring it out, right? My dick got some action and responded, that is not my fault! It was all for the invitation!”

“Then maybe you aren't gay. But please, for the love of God, do not tell me any more details about your almost-sexual encounter with that dude. And, I'm just saying, nobody could pay me enough money in the world to sleep with a man. So for you to be so willing to do so for a party invitation says… well, a lot.”

Eren did not know what to do. What does one do when their entire way of life gets threatened by the possibility that maybe, just maybe, they might have been okay with kissing a drug dealer? Do they investigate that possibility? Do they ignore it? Eren could forget the whole thing, never see Levi again in his life, and move on. He could marry some pretty girl. He still liked pretty girls, anyway, that much he tested that very night by watching some porn. It still worked. But he was scared to switch to Pornhub Gay, for the possibility that he might actually enjoy one of the videos made him want to jump out of their fourth-story window. 

Levi Ackerman was an enigma. He had sex appeal. He had mystery, danger, and a dry sense of humor. Eren felt like a little schoolgirl with a crush while looking at his Facebook profile picture again, trying to connect the pieces. Levi owned the nightclub? Eren couldn't wrap his mind around it. Surely he made enough money through his… business… to own it, but why? Levi Ackerman did not seem like the club-going type, though Eren supposed he actually knew very little about the man. Eren couldn't help himself. He wanted to know more. 

“I have to experiment,” Eren said, loudly, as though the realization had come to him like a lightbulb over his head. Jean looked up from the pad Thai he was slurping from his take-out container. “It's the only way to know for sure.”

“About being gay?” Jean asked. It was now five days after the club incident, and three days since their conversation about Eren possibly being gay. It had taken him that long to ponder his next move. “Okay, sure. With who?”

“Someone, anyone, a boy. I need to know if I like… that.”

“You're gonna fuck some random guy? I do not volunteer as tribute. Actually, scoot a little further away, would you?”

Eren jabbed at Jean with his fork, Jean dodging it with a snort. “No, you dick. I'm going to make-out with a random guy. I'm a lady.”

“I can't believe this is real life.” 

Eren chewed on a bite of orange chicken and leaned back against his bed frame. He and Jean were on the floor, and had treated themselves to take-out after a long night of studying for an exam. Eren was truly at a loss in his life, not really feeling like he understood himself. He didn't have time to think about the frat anymore, especially now that he was having an existential crisis and his chances had been ruined, anyway. 

“Then what?” asked Jean, taking a drink of his beer. He wiped his mouth and shrugged. “If you like it, what happens next?”

“I guess I, uh, well--”

“Do you think you like guys in general,” Jean interrupted, eyebrow quirked. “Or do you think you like Levi ?”

Eren began to cough as his swallowing had been interrupted by this accusation. Shaking his head, Eren protested, “I can't, I don't, I mean-- I barely know the guy, there's no way. The guy is a total dickhead, he's a… a drug-addict. I mean, really!”

Jean was changing the channel on the TV, but Eren could see the slight smirk on his face. “Okay, dude. Whatever you say. Just ignore him, then.”

“I will,” Eren murmured, taking another bite of chicken into his mouth. “You'll see.”

 

-

 

Well, that hadn't gone as planned. 

Saturday night, Eren and Jean attended the football game together, Eren happy to have something to distract himself from his currently fucked-up life with. Well, his life had always been pretty fucked-up, but this was a new level. After the game, they went to the frat house, Eren feeling a little blue the entire way there as he considered the fact that he was attending these parties for practically nothing now. With no prospects of ever getting into Sina Sigma Kappa, they were now just an excuse to get drunk and have a good time with Jean and their friends.

Jean and Eren had a good group of friends put together. There was the two of them, Connie, Sasha, Christa, Marco, and occasionally, Eren's older sister, Mikasa. Mikasa was older than them all, had never attended college, and lived and worked in Eren's hometown twenty minutes from campus. She visited often, helicopter-parenting Eren, but he appreciated her presence more than he let on. 

There was one problem. Jean was absolutely fucking smitten over Mikasa. 

Eren tried really hard to ignore it, even after Jean confessed to him. Eren had his own shit going on, so he told Jean that Mikasa was way out of his league, but that he could try all he wanted. Jean did try, that was for sure. Mikasa shot him down every single time. 

At the frat house after the game, Jean was actually on the phone with Mikasa, having thought up a fake question to ask her so that he had an excuse to talk to her. Dejected and annoyed, Eren sat next to Jean, wishing he could plug his ears and go ‘la la la’ for the rest of the night. At one point, Eren got up to use the bathroom, only to see a long line by the men's. He went back to Jean and tapped his foot impatiently, really needing to take a piss. Jean eventually ended the call, looking at Eren like he was a nuisance. 

“Dude, go piss outside or something.”

“It's fucking freezing, my dick will get hypothermia!”

Jean put his phone in his pocket and took a drink of his drink, whatever that was. He had a stupidly goofy grin on his face, Eren assumed from the phone call. “Go upstairs then? Maybe your loverboy is up there.”

“Shut up, Jean,” Eren snapped, eyebrows furrowed and arms crossed over his chest. “He's not my lover and he's not here.”

“You already asked?”

“Maybe I did, but you wouldn't know. You've been too busy trying to hump my sister through the phone all night.”

Jean began to argue but Eren wasn't having it. He walked away, toward the stairs, sliding past groups of people; ridiculously drunk guys and girls in very revealing clothing. He made his way to the stairs and climbed them all while thinking about how annoying Jean was, and how he didn't even deserve Mikasa, and how he always had some stupid shit to say and how sometimes Eren really wanted to punch him in the face. 

Eren had had a little too much to drink already. 

Eren quickly realized he had never been upstairs before. It looked the same as downstairs, save for the excess lack of people. Red rugs over dark hardwood, white walls with crown molding, pictures of previous fraternity higher-ups on the walls. Eren wondered where the bathroom was because it seemed that unlike downstairs, it was not marked. Instead, he was faced with six white doors and a hallway. 

Process of elimination would have to work. 

The first door was an office. The music from downstairs was so loud that Eren could still barely hear himself think, and everything was vibrating on the walls even in the upstairs rooms. Curiously, Eren stepped inside, looking around. After he got flashbacks from the last time he had entered a stranger’s office, he grimaced and left. The next set of doors revealed a utility closet. Third time's the charm, or at least he hoped. 

Opening the door, Eren saw nothing but black. He heard nothing but the shitty techno music downstairs. He felt the wall for a light-switch, flicked it, and the room was illuminated. 

Eren had questioned previously if Erwin Smith might be gay. Now, he had no doubt. 

As soon as he saw the blonde's silhouette twisted around none other than Levi Ackerman's, the light was switched back off, and the door was shut with a bang. 

Eren figured he could walk home.

Chapter Text

Pencil in hand, Eren sat in his psychology lecture hall, swiveling back and forth in his chair. The kid next to him was fast asleep, and Eren considered plugging his nose with erasers to make him stop snoring. 

“Developmental psychology consists of several layers, and in an introductory course like this, we focus on no specific stand-point—“ 

Eren could fall asleep, too. 

He hadn’t told Jean about what he saw at the party. A few times, he questioned whether he had really seen what he thought he’d seen, but the picture was seared in his brain. There was no mistaking who he had seen. Eren could probably spot Levi Ackerman in a crowd of hundreds of people. 

He began to tap the tip of his pencil on the desk, making little marks all over the place. His eyes were glued to the floor of the lecture hall but he was zoned out. His chin was in his hand and he felt like he could just cease to exist right there. He wasn’t going back to the frat house. Jean would have to attend the parties with someone else. 

There was no way that Eren was telling Jean that his brother was (at least partly) gay. Jean probably wouldn’t be upset, but it wasn’t Eren’s place, no matter how much he’d been annoyed by the scene we walked in on. And that didn’t make sense to him, either. He’d been able to admit that he thought Levi was hot. That didn’t warrant his response, though, seeing as Eren had promptly gone home that night and thrown his keys at the wall so hard that the key fob broke. 

Eren had never been a violent person. Something about Levi just made him want to smash shit.

Erwin must be his boyfriend, Eren reasoned, stopping the tapping of his pencil to grip the wood in his fist. That’s why he was always hanging around. But Erwin was so… logical, so level-headed, that it baffled Eren to consider that he would have a drug-dealing club-owning significant other. It didn’t seem right. And Levi… dangerous, reckless, exhilarating Levi was into straight-and-narrow squares like Erwin Smith? 

Eren cracked the pencil in half. 

After the lecture was dismissed, Eren had to find something to busy himself with. He went to the gym, needing a release of his energy. What about Levi’s apparent drug problem? The way he always had red eyes, slurred speech, and a dizzy composure, save for the night at the club? Where was Erwin in all this? Eren dropped his bag at his feet in the locker room, pulling his shirt over his head, frustration and pent up anger showing in his snappy movements. None of this was his business, but he wanted answers anyway. 

After spending two hours letting out his emotions on the gym equipment, Eren returned to the dorm. Jean wasn’t home yet, so he revealed in being alone for a time. He refrained from using social media, knowing he would be tempted to stalk Levi’s profiles some more. Why was he acting like this? Like a little girl, like he’d been betrayed. Like Levi Ackerman meant anything to him, or that Eren meant anything to Levi. Eren didn’t. He knew that much for sure. 

While he was playing a lonely game of Fortnite, Jean walked through the door. It was a Monday night and Jean had just gotten off work, kicking off his shoes and expressing his exhaustion. Eren greeted him, cursing as he was shot in Fortnite and throwing the controller to the side. 

“Are you alright, dude? You’ve seemed like, tense since you left the party early Saturday,” Jean took off his shirt and balled it up, throwing it in his laundry pile. “Which you never explained.”

“I felt sick, so I left,” Eren lied plainly. “I guess I haven’t shaken it off.”  

“Right. I guess that’s why you broke your keys and dented the wall.”

Eren shrugged, toying with the hem of his t-shirt. What did it matter to Jean, anyway?

“Well,” Jean said, a sigh escaping his lips. “Whatever, you'll have a better time this weekend.”

“I'm not going,” Eren replied, rubbing his eyes. 

“Plans again?"

“I'm not going to any more parties, at all,” a frown settled on Eren's lips. “I don't belong there. All I do is get trashed and then feel like shit and then get horrible grades. I'm over it.”

“So you're not rushing, for real? I thought you were just pissed off. This was all you cared about, dude,” Jean said, scoffing, shaking his head a little in disappointment. “It’s like you're giving up on everything you wanted for the past two months.”

Something in Eren snapped. He couldn't stand the condescending look on Jean's face, nor could he stand the privilege Jean held over him. Standing, Eren grabbed his (broken) keys off of his desk. “You know, Jean, you can suck my dick. And so can your stupid fucking brother, and everyone else in that dumbass fraternity. I don't care anymore, I'm done trying to be something I’m not and I really just need you to cut me some fucking slack.”

Jean looked at Eren, bewildered. “What are you pissed at me? And what did my brother ever do to you? Just because you can't manage to get an invitation--”

“Fuck you, and fuck your brother too. Maybe you should talk to him about who he's been fucking and then come run your mouth to me.”

Jean stared at Eren. Eren stared at Jean. Nothing else needed to be said, apparently, so Eren grabbed his jacket and left. Jean's eyes followed him the entire way.

Eren started driving but he didn't know where he was going. Anything, he presumed, was better than his dorm right now. He didn't want to think about Jean, or Levi, or that cocksucker (literally) Erwin. Eren felt like punching his steering wheel but instead kept his hands gripped around it so hard that his knuckles turned white. 

He called Mikasa. 

Maybe he relied on his older sister (mother figure) a little too much for an eighteen-year-old man. But Mikasa always knew what to say, what to do. And if Eren had nobody else, he had Mikasa to confide in. He hoped that she would shoulder his problems for him so that he wouldn't have to.

Mikasa met Eren at a Waffle House that was a split distance for the both of them. There were very few restaurants open at 10 PM on a weeknight, and Eren was in the mood for waffles anyway, so when Mikasa's black Nissan pulled up next to his Honda, Eren was dramatically relieved. 

“So, what happened? You never want Waffle House unless you're going through something,” Mikasa asked, getting directly to the point. They had barely even said hello and picked a booth to sit at. Eren pulled his menu up and pretended to be deeply in thought over side dishes.

“I'm fine, mostly. Just some dude problems, you know?”

“...Dude problems.”

“Yeah, like…” Eren scratched the back of his neck. Where was he going with this, again? “Problems with… dudes.”

Mikasa looked at him with her dark eyes and newly-cut black bob, looking like a grown and serious woman. Eren felt juvenile against her logic. “Eren, you’re talking in riddles.”

Eren bit his lip and laid the menu down on the table, finally. When the waitress came he told her his drink orders and food order at the same time, not wanting to be bothered further. Then he picked at his fingernails, his nerves setting in. What would Mikasa say? How would she react if he told her the truth? 

“If I tell you something serious,” Eren murmured, toying with the salt-shaker now. “Will you promise to be nice and never tell anyone else?”

“Eren,” Mikasa hissed suddenly, leaning forward on her elbows. “Are you on drugs?”

“What? No!” Eren exclaimed, putting his hands up in surrender. “It's worse, Mikasa. I think I might be… gay.

He whispered the last word like a secret, just in case. 

Mikasa let out a breathy sigh of relief, slumping back against her seat. “That's all? Eren, you scared me.”

Eren was confused now, a frown coming over his face as he failed to understand her reaction. “What do you mean, that's all? Did you hear what I said? I might be gay, Mikasa, I might like dick . Like, men, full grown men, Mikasa. Are you even listening?”

Mikasa had her arms crossed now, looking as though she was trying to figure Eren out. “Okay, so what? If you think you’re gay, test it out. Unless there's a specific person you…” and she trailed off.

“Well,” Eren considered. “There… sort of was. Maybe. But he fucked Jean’s older brother and now I don't know what to do.”

“Hold on, what? Erwin Smith?” Mikasa asked, brows furrowing and a small shake of her head being given in surprise. “Erwin Smith is gay?”

“So that’s surprising but not when it’s me!”

“Who is this guy, Eren?” Mikasa asked quietly. Their food arrived and Eren was grateful to have something else to focus on besides this conversation. 

Picking at his hashbrowns with his fork, Eren hated himself a little extra. Mikasa knew who Levi Ackerman was, everyone did. She'd seen him at the one party she had attended with Eren’s friends. She'd heard them all talk about Levi, about how terrible and annoying and evil he was. Levi still thought all of those things were true. He didn't have to like Levi to think his appeal and his hands were both blessings. 

“I didn't think I could even stand him before. Now I'm… fucking jealous, like a little girl. I’ve talked to him two, maybe three times in my entire life,” Eren digressed, feeling like a total loser. “Then I grinded on him and suddenly I'm in love--”

“Wait, what ?”

“Mikasa,” Eren straight whined now, throwing his head into his hands. “I'm so, so fucked!”

Mikasa smacked Eren on the top of his head, earning a jolt as Eren looked up at her in shock. “Eren Jaeger, pull yourself together. And please, for the love of God, tell me that you’re not talking about Levi fucking Ackerman.”

There was a fire in Mikasa’s eyes. She looked more than displeased, instead, she was downright pissed. Eren almost began to tremble in fear, giving a small nod of his head. What was he even admitting to right now? Why did Mikasa look like she was about to explode?

“He's a drug dealer.”

“I know.”

“He's a drug addict.”

“I know.”

“You have to stay away from him. Forget what I said about trying it out. Levi Ackerman will never, ever be good for you, he can barely even keep himself alive,” Mikasa said, her voice low, steady, and serious. Eren was letting his food grow cold by now. “You will break your own heart.”

Eren kneaded his fingers together, leg bouncing and he couldn't make it stop. Cursing under his breath, he gave a short nod. He had already come to this conclusion himself, but he needed to hear it from someone more rational. This was what had to be done. “I'm… I'm done with the parties. I'll never see him again in my life.”

“Do you promise?”

“I swear.”

Chapter Text

Of course Levi and Erwin were dating. It all made perfect sense.

Eren didn't bother asking around about Levi’s relationship status. What good would it do? It was clear as clear could be that something was going on between the two and Eren had promised his sister that he'd forget about it all. Like anything though, it was easier said than done. 

When Eren went back to his dorm, Jean wasn't there. Eren needed to apologize. He hadn't meant to lash out on Jean but really, Jean was constantly sticking his nose in Eren’s business and giving him unsolicited advice. Eren had implied something about Jean's brother that was not his place to imply. He hoped Jean hadn't picked up on what Eren was actually mentioning. If he did, Eren would really want to fucking die. 

Eren decided to stay in for the next two days. Jean came in went in silence, never staying longer for a few minutes, so Eren had no real chance to explain himself or apologize. He sat on his bed in his pajamas eating chips and watched as Jean pulled clothes out of his dresser drawers. Jean didn't seem angry, just in a constant hurry, and Eren didn't know how to grab his attention effectively. 

Clearing his throat, Eren crumpled up his chip bag. “Where you headed?” he asked awkwardly.

Jean threw the clothes on his bed and went to grab some shoes. “Just out.”

“Are you mad at me?” blurted Eren, unable to help himself. Jean paused, shook his head, and went back to his task at hand. 

“Why would I be mad at you? For being a dick when I was just trying to help you?”

Eren winced. “Jean, I--”

“It's cool, Eren,” Jean said, cutting him off. He stood, shoes in hand, a stubborn look on his face. “You just keep on obsessing over Levi Ackerman, ignoring the shit you really wanted in the first place. I won't get in your way.”

Eren's jaw locked as he watched Jean walk over and begin to stuff things into a bag. This was going downhill fast. “I wasn't trying to be a dick, Jean, and it's not about him. I just... had to be realistic with myself that I'm not going to get into Sina Sigma Kappa and that there was no point to keep trying, dude.” It was partly true. Eren's chances were next to none at this point, so what good was there in trying? Avoiding Levi was just a fuckin' bonus. 

“Sure, whatever, but there are free parties, open to the public, every single weekend. And you don't want to go anymore because of that? Or because of--"

“Okay,” Eren said, a frown coming over his face. “I get it.”

“And I don't know what happened to you Saturday, or what he did or said or anything, but it's not worth you changing who you are overnight. And my brother might be a manwhore but it's not his fault you can't get in,” Jean said, throwing his bag over his shoulder. Eren said nothing. So Jean hadn't caught on after all. “So don't take your anger out on him.”

Jean left but Eren didn't mind. At least he knew now that Jean had no idea what Eren had been implying to when they got in their fight. He just thought Eren was attacking his brother for being a ‘manwhore’ because Eren was mad that he couldn't get into the frat. At this point, it was laughable. He wasn't nearly as upset over not getting into the frat as he was about something entirely different, now. 

Ugh, this shit was so stupid. 

After Jean left, Eren watched a movie and decided to go to sleep, with nothing better to do with his time. He could've studied for his stats class, but really, he didn't understand anything that was going on in the class and his only hope at that point was to completely reteach himself the material. He had a plan, and as much as Jean claimed it went against his character, Eren had no other choice. He had made a promise to Mikasa to stay away from Levi, and that was what he was going to do. 

Eren could avoid Levi by not going to parties. He could avoid him by not going to the club. But Levi made it impossible for Eren to avoid him when he showed up right at Eren's door in the middle of the night. 

It was 3 am and Eren had been half-asleep. He was watching Youtube on his phone in his lonesome, seeing as Jean never came back that night. Of course, he was still in his pajamas that he’d been wearing all day, and just when Eren's eyes closed and the phone slipped out of his hand, there were three loud-ass knocks on the door of his dorm. Like, police level-loud, loud enough to wake the entire fucking dorm hall.

Eren jumped so hard that his phone dropped right on his face. Groaning in pain, he tossed his phone to the end of his bed and cursed whoever the hell had woken him up; but on second thought, fear coursed through his body as he realized that it might be the campus police, come to search his room. Scrambling, he jumped out of bed and took stock in his mind of all the alcohol and pot he had in the room. But when the knocks occurred again, quieter this time, too quiet for campus police, he assumed it was Jean, having forgotten his key card or something. So Eren groggily made his way to the door and yanked it open, fully expecting to see a drunk Kirschtein at his door. 

Only, there stood Levi Ackerman in dark jeans and a faded Led Zepplin t-shirt, arms crossed over his chest and a determined look on his face, instead.

“Huh? What are you--” Eren began to say, wondering if this was a weird-ass dream he was having, eyes still glazed over from sleep. 

“I need to borrow your car. Also, when's the last time you took a fucking shower? You look like shit,” said Levi pointedly, yet so nonchalant that Eren was unsure if he was even conscious.

Taking a moment to regain his consciousness, Eren raised his eyebrows and closed his eyes, bringing a hand up to squeeze his temples. After a shake of his head, he opened his eyes to look at Levi in disbelief. “What the hell is going on right now?”

Levi ignored, and dismissed, Eren's question with a lazy wave of his hand, looking entirely bored and annoyed at this point. He had his hair hanging down again, parted slightly to the left, grey eyes sliding over Eren's body. “Take a shower and grab your keys. You have ten minutes. I'm waiting.”

Eren blinked. What the hell was this, a set-up? More importantly, why did Eren feel like he had no choice but to go along with it, incapable of reasoning against it? He blamed it on his lack of sleep and his current state of delirium. Shifting, he awkwardly murmured, “Well, do you want to… come in, I guess?”

Levi only shook his head with a grimace, taking a step back from the entryway. “That room is filthy, I'd rather lick a library door handle. Get a fucking move on, would you?”

Eren gave a dazed nod, shutting the door, feeling almost hypnotized. He had flashbacks to the night at the club when Levi kept telling him to ‘fucking move', and sighed. What was he getting into? He should've just told Levi to fuck off and gone back to bed. He shouldn't be turning the shower water on, getting undressed, and hating himself a little. To his defense, Eren still wasn't sure if this was real life. He'd planned on never seeing Levi again, but apparently, Levi knew nobody else on campus with a fucking car. What bullshit. 

After his quick shower, Eren changed into shorts and a hoodie. He grabbed his keys and when he opened the door to his dorm, Levi was leaning against the opposite wall looking like a damn movie-star, somehow. 

“Finally,” Levi said, looking up from his phone with his lips quirked into a frown. “I thought I said ten minutes.”

“Why are you here?” asked Eren rather boldly, the door propped open on the side of his body. His hair was still wet and dripping onto the shoulders of his hoodie, but he had determination on his features. He wasn't going to give in this easily, he could at least demand answers from the older man. Levi met his eyes, still keeping his stance, pack of cigarettes and phone in his hand.

“I told you. I need to borrow your car.”

Eren shifted. “So you don't have a car? I don't believe you.”

“I have a car, shitface,” Levi said, finally straightening up now and brushing himself off. He took a cigarette out of the pack, placing it loosely between his lips. With a raise of his eyebrows, he continued, “Someone took my keys away and I have somewhere really fucking important to go.”

“You're high,” Eren said. Levi straightened his shirt. “So Erwin took your keys.”

“If you must know,” Levi answered with a frown, sounding exasperated, already walking toward the stairwell. “Yes, Erwin took my goddamn keys, Peeking Tom.”

Eren felt an unwelcome heaviness in his chest as embarrassment burned in his face. Fuck. He had thought it would've been safe to assume that he was in the clear, that Levi hadn't seen him that night. He wanted to smother himself with his pillow, yet he closed his dorm door and followed Levi down the hall and to the stairwell, where Levi could now light his cigarette as they trekked down the stairs. “So, you knew that was me?”

“You’re the only 6'3”, moppy-haired motherfucker who would be stupid enough to open random doors in the upstairs of a frat house,” Levi said plainly, as though it were common sense. He walked shortly ahead of Eren toward the student parking lot, and Eren stayed behind so that the red in his face wouldn't be seen. “So yes, I knew it was you, especially when you slammed the door without a word.”

“I didn't mean to--” Eren started. Then, he chewed on his bottom lip and began again. How would he explain this properly? “I wasn't like, looking for you guys or anything. I was just looking for the bathroom.”

Levi chuckled, and Eren would've missed it if the night hadn't been silent, only the sound of their shoes on the pavement being heard. “Do you care to drive?” asked Levi, looking back at Eren over his shoulder as though they were good friends going run some errands or some shit. It just didn't make sense how Levi could change demeanors in a matter of seconds, from being cocky and self-assured to rude and dismissive to genuine and calm.  

Yet Eren's stupid, dumb heart nearly skipped a beat with the way Levi was looking at him now. What the fuck was wrong with him? He was a new person from a few moments ago, his face now curious and serene, as he ashed his cigarette on the ground. Eren took his keys out of his pocket, pursing his lips and considering that really, Levi should be a fucking actor.

“Why are you here in the first place?” he asked Levi now, trying to redirect his eyes to look literally anywhere else. “A weeknight, on campus?”

“Do you really want to know?”

Eren knew he probably didn't, but shrugged anyway. 

“Same reason I was in that upstairs room on Saturday. I needed a good fuck.”

Yep, Eren really did not want to know. He wished he could forget ever hearing that, actually. 

They got to Eren's car and he had to excuse the mess while he threw everything from the front passenger seat to the back. Levi leaned against the car and finished off his cigarette before putting it out with his foot on the ground. Eren felt like he was being watched, but when he looked over at Levi, Levi had his eyes elsewhere. It was surreal, actually, that in the dead of night Eren was alone with Levi, whom he felt entirely and completely uncomfortable around. It was like an alternate reality.

Eren started the car and Levi shut the side door. Now, they were stuck in a little compartment, and Eren had never been more nervous in his life. Where was Levi needing to go, anyway? Was Eren putting himself in danger right now, and why didn't that thought scare him? It was difficult to look at Levi and feel unsure at all, what with how Levi always looked so in-control and put-together, as though he never worried about a thing and was always aware of his next move. He waited for Levi to say something, to tell him where to drive, but Levi didn't, so Eren talked first.

“How did you know where my dorm room was?” Eren asked absently, music playing quietly through the radio, the hum and vibration of the car engine putting his own nerves more at ease. Only slightly, though, because as soon as he felt Levi's eyes burn into the side of his face, his blood pressure shot through the roof again. 

“Erwin had mentioned it a few times in relation to Jean. I knew you were roommates, or if not, he'd know where to find you.”

Eren kept a firm hand on the wheel, chewing on the inside of his cheek. He didn't want to piss Levi off, but he was curious. “Why did you ask me? Jean has a car.”

“Jean would've told Erwin. I knew you'd do this for me.”

“Why?” Eren said, frowning. “I could've told you no.”

“You want an invitation, so you'll do anything for me,” Levi was looking out the window into the parking lot. “If I drag that shit out, I'll get more favors.”

Well, at least he was blunt. Still, Eren didn't like being called out on his previous desperate behavior, and it made him shrink in shame a little. “Are you always like this or is it because you're high?” Eren bit, looking at Levi with his eyebrows furrowed.

“I'm always like this, maybe a little less outspoken,” Levi answered, turned to look at Eren again. With an upward quirk of his lips, he continued, “But I'm also always high, so.”

“Well, I don't have to do any favors for you. I can kick you out of my car and tell you to go to hell. I don't care about that dumb frat anymore,” Eren responded, albeit a little quietly. He looked at Levi but got intimidated and had to look ahead of them instead, hands gripping the wheel. “The more I try the stupider I make myself look. And you haven't done a thing for me anyway.”

“Maybe you don't care about the invitation anymore,” Levi said. He shrugged, which Eren caught out of the corner of his eye. “But you're still going to do me favors.”

Eren gave a scoff. This guy really was full of himself. “Oh yeah? And why would that be?”

“The car is running, you haven't told me to ‘go to hell', and you have a crush on me like a little fucking girl.”

Eren tensed. He tried not to react physically but he couldn't help himself from snapping his head to the right and looking at Levi with wide eyes. Levi was only looking at him calmly, zero traces of an expression on his face, waiting for a reaction. “I don't know what you’re talking about. I don't--”

Levi seemed to be done with the conversation. He sat back in his seat and motioned to the wheel. “Drive. I have places to be.”

Eren felt his blood boiling like he was nearly about to explode and wanted nothing more than to give Levi a piece of his mind. He had no words, though, his mouth slightly agape and trying to form some kind of a counter-argument, but he was flustered and unprepared. So he drove. They started heading toward the highway, Levi barking a command here and there. After they got onto the highway, Eren remembered his anxiety about the entire situation and asked, “How far away are we going? And for what, exactly?”

“Why do you ask so many questions?”

Because you're fucking scary and weird! Eren didn't say it, but he wanted to. At his silence, Levi scoffed and continued.

“It's a twenty-minute drive. I have to meet up with someone. It won't take long and I'll give you an invitation for the fuckin’ trouble.”

Eren again didn't say anything. He hadn't been expecting any sort of repayment for this favor he was doing the man, and yet it didn't surprise him. It was exactly what Eren had tried so hard to earn for the past month, and here it was being handed to him. He wondered why it didn't excite him as much as he thought it would to hear those words. 

“In fourteen miles, get off at exit 23. Then turn right at the light,” Levi instructed. They continued on in silence, the radio barely playing in the background, and Eren was just happy he had driving to occupy his mind. He was sure he'd be saying all sorts of stupid shit if otherwise. Levi, on the other hand, peered out the window wordlessly, and Eren wondered what was on his mind. Something bad, no doubt. But Eren didn't have to wonder long, because Levi spoke up out of the blue, asking, “Does it upset you that I fuck Erwin?”

Eren nearly went off the road, taken aback, his eyebrows flying up to his hairline. What the hell kind of small-talk was this? Levi, again, looked calm and collected in his stance, regardless of the question he had just blurted out. Eren had to question his hearing capabilities as he straightened the car and said, “What? That's your business. I barely know you!"

“You want to fuck me, though.”

“Jesus Christ, you are blunt,” Eren cursed under his breath. This guy was definitely insane. Levi was looking at him with narrowed eyes, as though Eren were the one crossing boundaries. Eren, on the other hand, wasn't sure if he could keep the car on the road. “It's 3:30 in the morning, dude. I don't even know where I am.”

“You dry-humped me to maybe get into a fraternity," Levi replied, deadpan, and Eren knew he was only just beginning. "When I talk, you practically fucking drool. You got pissy after seeing me and Erwin, so much so that you stopped going out and went off on your roommate. Yes, Jean told Erwin. And every time I say his name you wince like I just fucking stabbed you,” he explained, one by one, a blank look on his face. He was impossible to read, Eren tried, but he couldn't tell if he was being mocked or ridiculed. Levi just looked… curious, and Eren was fucking lost. “Jean might not have picked up on your little comment, but Erwin and I did.”

Eren shifted. Well, fuck. He was beyond uncomfortable, cornered, not sure what he was supposed to say. He had been caught. He had never been in a situation like this, especially with a guy, especially with a drug-dealing addict. There were too many things he wanted to say, and at the same time, nothing could come to mind. He didn't dare look at Levi now, just staring at the road and wishing it would open up and swallow him whole. “I don't know what you're implying. You were just as… into it, as I was.”

He was referencing the ‘lap-dance’, if you could call it that. Levi considered this, snorting. “Duh. Anyone rubs all up on my dick and I'm gonna wanna bone.”

“Well, there you go,” Eren bit back matter-of-fact, as if this proved his point. “I was only into it because I have a dick and that's the... normal reaction.” 

“So if I had bent you over and fucked you in that office, you wouldn't have liked it?”

Fucking Christ. Now, the aura around them was tense, if it hadn't been before. Eren's face was on fire, which was embarrassing enough as he was an 18-year-old boy and had no business blushing like a school-girl at the mention of sex. Levi was asking the same thing Jean had asked, only much more vulgar and to-the-point. Eren groaned inside, wishing he could crash the car and kill them both, end it all. “Why are you asking? What the fuck does anything like this matter?" and, before he could even stop himself, he bit, "Go ask your boyfriend and see what he thinks about it.”

“Ah,” Levi hummed. “There's that spitfire redirection I was expecting. Answer received.”

Eren's knuckles were turning white on the stupid steering wheel. 

Levi was a pain in the ass. Eren felt like he was going to vomit, jaw locked and tongue between his teeth to prevent him from opening his mouth and talking ever again. Levi just sat quietly for a moment, contemplative, and that meant danger for Eren. After reaching in his pocket (?), Levi handed something in Eren's direction. Glancing down, Eren saw a neatly-rolled blunt. “I'll light it. You hit it.”

“I thought you didn't sell pot,” Eren said with confusion, eyes glancing between the blunt and the road. “You only do harder shit.”

“I don't sell pot, but that doesn't mean I'm above smoking it. And I have much harder shit with me, but nothing I'd give you. Certainly not for free, brat.”

Levi suddenly was sticking the blunt between Eren's lips, who tried to keep his eyes on the road but made a noise in shock. After he was satisfied, Levi lit the end with a white lighter. Eren took a good hit, pressured by Levi to 'hurry', and when Levi took the blunt back, he was just proud of himself for not coughing. 

They shared the joint in civil silence until they got off the highway, which had been fairly empty, and Levi put it out against a styrofoam cup before sticking it back in his pocket. Eren followed Levi's directions until they were in a little, quaint neighborhood and pulling up to the corner of the street. Levi got out of the car, sticking his head back in to look at Eren. “Stay here. Don't follow me, I'll be back in ten minutes.” 

Eren waited. He had time to think about every embarrassing thing he had ever done in his life. And, he did, of course, leading right up to that dumbass thing he had said only minutes before. His only saving grace was that Levi hardly reacted in an over-the-top fashion, only acting satisfied with the response as an answer to his question. If this car ride hadn't been a bad idea before, Eren definitely regretted it now.

Levi hadn't gone into the house that they pulled up outside of. Instead, he walked until he was out of Eren's sight, and Eren couldn't tell where he even went. At exactly nine minutes since Levi had left, he was walking down the street toward Eren's car, hands in his pockets. Eren had been chewing on his nails. He had been slightly calmed by the blunt they smoked but it wasn't enough. Their conversation had been panic-inducing, and Eren couldn't wait to be home.

Levi got in the car and told Eren to go back the way they came. “A... drug deal, I'm guessing?” Eren asked experimentally, starting the car again. As he put it in drive, Levi nodded curtly. 

“Two ounces of coke for two grand. I basically fucking robbed that guy."

Eren nodded slowly, unsure of what to say. He didn't know if that was good or bad. He'd made it clear previously that he was not well-educated on street prices of drugs. He got back onto the highway as Levi counted the money. It was a lot, Eren knew, and he couldn't help but look over at it every so often. 

“You know, Jaeger,” Levi began. Eren wondered how Levi even knew his last name, shocked out of his driving trance. “You're damn easy to read. I can tell everything that runs through the tiny good-for-nothing brain of yours. It's embarrassing how open you make yourself."

Eren bit the inside of his cheek. “I don't--”

“You don't know me, but you think you could figure me out,” Levi continued. He put the money in a baggie and into his pocket, face indifferent. “You're not the first freshman to fall over themselves to try to fuck me. It's probably… the danger appeal, I would guess. You live a goody-two-shoes life and someone like me offers excitement.”

Eren frowned. He was practically reading off a script, sighing after each statement, as though he had had this conversation a million times.

“Or, you like my face, you think I'd be a good lay and maybe you're into real kinky shit, like knifeplay.”

“You’re unbelievable.”

Levi grinned, which took Eren by surprise. “You know, you're young, stupid, and naive. But you're practically a virgin and good-looking when you're not running your mouth, so maybe we can work out a deal.”

“A deal? You can shove your deal up your ass,” Eren said quickly, mouth forming a tight line. He couldn't believe this conversation. Levi was offering to hook-up after he had just dismissed everything Eren was, and Eren was done listening to anything Levi had to say. It was all bullshit after all. “Do you always go around trying to recruit fuck-buddies out of young, stupid, naive wanna-be frat boys? Well, I'll have to kindly fucking decline."

Levi ‘humph’ed, eyebrows raised. “Well, then.”

They didn't talk the rest of the ride home. Eren tried to calm himself, upset over the suggestion Levi had made, upset that he had ever let Levi in his car, upset that he had ever met the man. He was crude, vile, and good for nothing. If Eren didn't see that before, he did now. Eren would have to let this little crushing shit go, get it over with and move on. Maybe he needed to fuck Levi just once and then the burning in the pit of his stomach would stop bothering him day and night. Maybe then, Levi looking at him wouldn't make the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. But Eren knew how his mind worked, how he handled things in life previously. Being around Levi was going to do him no good. 

Eren parked in the parking lot again, turning the car off abruptly. Levi sat there, not moving, and it just made Eren all the more infuriated. He wanted Levi to go, to leave him alone, to never talk to him again. 

“I'll send you the address,” Levi said. Eren knew they hadn't traded numbers. “Next party is in the works. I'll let you know.”

“Save it,” Eren said plainly. He had a hand on the door handle, eyes avoiding Levi. “Don't worry about it.”

“Suit yourself," Levi was looking at him, leaning against the door, eyes half-lidded. A small frown on his face. “You didn't do this for an invitation. Why drive forty-minutes and risk, well, pretty much your life?”

“I didn't risk my life.” 

“You didn't know where I was taking you. Police could've showed.”

Eren finally gave in, teeth already gritted. He turned to Levi with calm fury in his voice, on the edge of lashing out. “Stop implying shit, asking me questions you already know the answer to. Just get out already. I don't need a stupid fucking invitation, nor do I need your patronization."

Levi didn't wince or even seem fazed. He stared at Eren as though his anger was the most average thing in the world. “Then what do you want, hm?”

“What?"

“You want a romance with a guy you've met two, maybe three times," Levi continued, his voice rising with every word as he took out a cigarette and lit it. Smoking in Eren's car without asking, just another sign of disrespect Eren took as a threat. "A guy you know nothing about other than that he's a felonious criminal and oxytocin fiend? Maybe go on a date, get ice-cream, hold hands.”

Eren felt like a fucking idiot. It was like Levi was shooting him in the chest, but he had no reaction. He held onto the steering wheel for dear life and took it all. Eren hadn't wanted any of that, hadn't wanted to get fucking married. He barely knew the guy. But his pride was being broken down regardless. The venom in Levi's voice was something Eren couldn't handle, never wanted to hear again. All of this accompanied with the look of comedy, yet utter disgust on Levi's face, made Eren feel like jumping in front of a moving train. 

“I--” Eren tried, pitifully, but Levi cut him off with a snort of laughter. 

“Fucking delirious child.” 

Levi got out of the car. Eren stayed though, unable to process anything that had just gone down. How had Levi switched personalities once again, become an entirely different person within moments? Eren knew he had to get out of the car, had to drag himself to his room, but he couldn't find it in him to do so. When he finally took the keys out of the ignition, his phone buzzed. 

4504 East Maria St.”

Eren just deleted the text. 

Chapter Text

“I'm sorry.”

Jean had his arms crossed, looking at Eren with a frown. He didn't look like he was buying it, either, which was valid.

“Really,” Eren said with a sigh. They were in the dorm, Eren in his desk chair and Jean standing by the door. He had just come home at 2 pm, and Eren felt like this was his only chance. “I am. I’ve been a dick lately and I realized it had nothing to do with you.”

“I could've told you that.”

“Well, regardless, it's my bad. Guess I was on my period,” Eren murmured, scratching the back of his neck. The Fallout 4 theme song played awkwardly in the background. “Are you done being mad at me now?”

“I guess,” Jean shrugged, putting his bag on the floor next to his bed. He scratched his stomach lazily, giving a stubborn glance in Eren's direction. “...Pass me a controller?” 

So they played Fallout and were officially made up after that. Eren felt relief, a weight off his chest. It was hard to live with someone who hated you. He also considered that loved being a dude; making up with your friends seemed to be so much simpler. 

Eren had no intention of talking about any sore subject, but apparently Jean had different plans. After some time wasted on Fallout and eating a box of ranch Cheez-Its, Jean tossed the controller to the side and stretched his fingers. 

“What are you gonna do this Saturday?” he asked Eren, who was moving the controls furiously in concentration. 

With a shrug, Eren replied, “I dunno, maybe get drunk or something.”

“Well, I'll be at the party if you need me. My brother wants me to help him set up an event for Hell week,” then, Jean paused. “I'm assuming your stance still holds? Pussying out?

Scoffing, Eren threw a Cheez-It at Jean's forehead in offense. "Fuck you, dude," he joked. Sitting back in his chair and abandoning his controller as well, he drew a hand over his face and sighed. Really, technically, he had gotten an invitation. Levi would vouch, and he could join the stupid frat and live the life he expected to live in college. Make friends, make connections, not be the boring loser he'd been in high school. And while that sounded great, there was more to it than that now. There was a dumb heaviness in the center of his chest that resembled a dark-haired man with bags under his eyes. A man he should've never met in the first place, a man who he would never be able to get close to no matter how hard he tried. Every party he went to, also, meant that he would see not only Levi, but Erwin. And he wanted to see neither. 

“I'm just over the parties, I think,” Eren said. He was trying to convince himself that he was just over it, that his studies mattered more to him than weekend plans. "I have more important things to worry about than Sina Sigma Kappa."

“Really? Cuz I could ask my brother again, maybe he'll give you a good word, and--” 

“It's not about that,” Eren interrupted with a small shrug. He looked at the TV screen. "I promised my sister I'd chill with the alcohol and weed. Also, I just don't care as much.”

“You're lying,” pointed out Jean, pursing his lips. Eren just kept his eyes on the frozen menu screen of the TV. “But whatever you say, bro. I'll be at the party Saturday, I think you should come. One last party and then you can decide if you really want to throw away that opportunity. Don't want you to have any regrets.”

As of right now, his mind was made up. “You're helping out Erwin?” he asked to change the subject, going back to the game.

Jean nodded, picking up his controller again. “Yeah, I haven't been able to see him much lately. He's really busy with his girlfriend and--”

“Girlfriend?” He hadn't meant to say it with such shock, but Eren couldn't help himself. He knew his eyes had gone wide, as well; did Jean just say what he thought he did? Eren had never heard of Jean's brother having a girlfriend, except maybe in high school. If Erwin had a girlfriend, then what the fuck was going on with him and--

Jean didn't notice Eren's shock, nodding cooly. “Her name is Annie. They’ve been dating for like... three months now, actually.”

Something here was not adding up. 

Eren went to bed early that night with his mind racing. What had he missed? How was Erwin, moral student and level-headed role-model, having an on-the-side relationship with the most notorious drug dealer on campus? Who was Annie, and why was he cheating on her in the first place? Did Levi know? Eren figured that of course, he didn't. He would never let himself be embarrassed like that, right? But how was Erwin hiding it, how had it not been mentioned to Levi? Levi knew everything, he was introspective and yet incredibly perceptive to the people around him. He read Eren like a book, that was for damn sure, so for Erwin to slide this past him...

Okay, so maybe Eren had to go to this party Saturday. Maybe Jean was right, he didn't want to give up this opportunity without making sure he was done. And maybe as much as he hated Levi right now, he hated Erwin even more, and maybe he had to get answers to these questions. He wasn't doing it for Levi's sake, seeing as Levi had made it clear he wanted nothing to do with Eren besides maybe hooking up. He was doing it for his own curiosity. He'd go in there, get some answers, and get out. That was it. 

But Jesus fuck, Eren couldn't stop thinking about it.

After work on Saturday morning, Eren changed and went with Jean to the football game. Jean was happy Eren had decided to attend at all and didn't ask any pressing questions. Eren figured he could give it one more shot. If being around Levi was too much torment and he really wanted to throw away this chance, then so be it. 

Before leaving for the party though, Eren saw that he had a missed call from Mikasa. He called her back as he fixed his hair in the mirror, turning to each side to get a better look. Embarrassed at himself, he frowned and muttered, "Damn, I know I like dudes now or whatever, but when did I get so gay?"

"What? Hello? "

The phone tumbled out of Eren's hand and clattered as it fell into the sink. Scrambling to pick it up, he put it to his ear and let out a breath. "Fuck, hey Mikasa. What's up?"

"Are you okay? Did you just fall down a flight of stairs or something? Also, I can't believe I just heard you call yourself gay."

"I'm not--" Eren snapped, then sighed. This was not going well. "I'm not gay. I just... did you call?"

"Yeah, I was just calling to see what size shirt you're wearing now. Adidas is having a sale, but it kind of seems like you're having a crisis right now. Maybe I should call back later?"

It was nice to hear Mikasa's voice. It really was hard for Eren to not see her except on occasion, and when he did see her, he felt infinitely better about whatever was going on in his life. "No, no, I'm fine. I wear a medium still, and we're good to stay on the phone. I'm just getting ready."

"Getting ready? On a Saturday night? I thought you were done with the parties."

Well, shit. Eren winced physically, cursing himself for his stupidity. "This is my last one. Just to appease Jean, that's it. I'm not going... for Levi, or anything."

"Are you over him?"

"Yeah, totally," Eren lied, running his fingers through his hair. 

"Eren."

"Alright, fine. But regardless, he isn't even supposed to be there tonight. Jean wants me to go, so that's why I'm going."

"Have you made up with Jean? And have you talked to Levi at all since we last met? "

 

"Jean and I made up, yeah..." Eren answered, scratching his neck. He glanced around his room absently, shuffling his shoes on the carpeted floor. "And I maybe, may have, sort of talked to Levi. It doesn't matter, he's still as much of a dick as ever."

"What is it about this guy, Eren?"  The concern in Mikasa's voice was so sincere that Eren had to sit on the edge of his bed. "You've always been such a smart kid. Then you go to college, start partying, meet this guy you have nothing in common with, and you're all strung up. You know better than this, Eren. You're better than him and he would never give you what you deserve."

"I'm not in love with the dude, Mikasa," Eren bit, hand subconsciously gripping at his bedspread. He had his teeth gritted without even realizing, and took a moment to relax. "Goddammit. Between you and Jean, it's like I can't even breathe without one of you accusing me of being head-over-heels, blinded by love. I'm not fifteen."

"No, you're not," Mikasa replied curtly. "So stop acting like it."

"You know, you're always so supportive and loving, I really appreciate being your little brother."

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it just to stroke your ego and appease your little tortured heart. He's a bad boy 'fix-me' type, and you're the naive empath that fell for it. When he hurts you, throws you to the side like you're nothing, disappears-- I won't say I told you so, but I did."

"You talk like you know him personally," Eren said, growing tired of being called 'naive' by everyone he spoke to. He hated that fucking word. "I'm getting off here. You don't have to worry about me, Levi Ackerman wants nothing to do with me anyway. He's made that clear."

After getting off the phone, Eren felt worse, not better. He hadn't expected Mikasa to be so harsh, but he guessed he probably should've. Everyone he loved was tired of him and his antics, so he'd just keep his stupid thoughts to himself. At the party, everyone was having a blast right off the bat. They'd taken home a victory at the game, so no time was wasted in getting the lights, music, and beer ready. Eren, upon walking in the door, had a blue drink put into his hand but a brown-haired-girl with a wink. Eren thanked her cautiously, following Jean, who was clearly headed to the back of the party in search of his brother. Eren didn't want to be around Erwin at all, but he also didn’t want it to seem like he had a problem with the man, so he followed and wondered how many ways you could destroy a man even if he was a foot taller than you and had a good 50 lbs on you. 

But it wasn't about Levi. Erwin just sucked, a lot.

Erwin was by himself with a laptop on the counter of the kitchen, which was pretty empty besides a few frat members putting together drinks and food. Jean went up to him and started talking about whatever ‘event’ Erwin was planning, which Eren only heard glimpses of. Apparently, there was going to be a sort of wild-goose-chase scavenger hunt that all the new inductees would be sent on, and Eren quickly became disinterested and zoned out. He had no plans of participating in any of the fraternity events at this point, even with his secret invitation he had told nobody about. Really, if Erwin wasn't giving him hints into this girlfriend situation, Eren wasn't interested in the conversation at all. 

Erwin looked at Eren a few times during the conversation, meeting his eyes before looking back to Jean. Eren felt angry sparks shoot through his body each time, feeling more and more uncomfortable with every passing minute. He just couldn't figure it out. None of it made sense. What was so special about Erwin? He was tall, handsome, intelligent. But he was also stuck up, arrogant, and boring. Maybe Eren was biased, but he didn't think Erwin Smith was the right kind of person for someone like Levi Ackerman. Though, he considered, neither was Eren himself, probably. 

After about ten minutes of Jean and Erwin's conversation, a blonde haired girl in jeans and sweater came over, greeting Jean and then attaching herself to Erwin's side. Eren's eyes were on her in an instant, as though she were a mythical creature that had just appeared right in front of his eyes. This was Annie, he gathered. She existed and Erwin was clearly not trying to hide that fact at all. He kissed her, held her by her waist, and continued talking to Jean as though nothing had happened. To Eren, though, everything had happened. What about Levi? Where was he even at, right now? On top of it all, Annie was cute, with her little ponytail and sparkly white smile. Little did she know, her boyfriend was getting it on with a dude behind her back. 

Eren excused himself from the conversation. He couldn't sit through another minute of that facade of normalcy knowing what he knew. Besides, he was here to have a good time, and he'd already gotten the major answer he needed. The night was still young and he didn't need this shit plaguing his mind so early on. So, he grabbed a few more drinks and tried to raise his blood-alcohol level as quickly as he could. He was determined to have a good time tonight regardless of whatever blonde haired giants and black haired devils were in the building. It might be the last frat party he ever attends in his life, after all. 

After he was feeling the buzz, Eren didn't stop. A few shots of Bacardi, Shitty K, and Jim Beam and he was starting to really feel good. People had already filled up the entire house, corner to corner, with barely enough room to breathe. After some time, a girl began talking to him and asked him to dance (well, more like demanded). Eren figured she was cute, in a mini-skirt and tank top with facepaint from the game earlier, so he did. It was so loud he couldn't hear her name when she told him, so he just nodded and told her his. And, like usual, dancing turned into grinding, and he kissed her. It was something he would never normally do, but this entire semester had been full of firsts. He’d never kissed a girl within a half hour of meeting her, but they were both entirely too drunk in a short amount of time and Eren knew that if he really wanted to have a good night, there was one way to do it.

Eren would've taken her back to his dorm no problem, but he got side-tracked. Just as she put her hands in his hair, singing along to whatever song was playing over the surround-sound speakers, Eren spotted the front door opening and Levi Ackerman walking into the building. Erwin was still here, and so was that Annie chick, so what the fuck was going to happen now?

As he got a better look, though, Eren noticed that Levi was scanning the room. Looking for Erwin, no doubt, Eren figured. He was on the edge of his seat with suspense, wondering if Levi would find Erwin and accuse him of cheating, or maybe try to fight, or maybe just blow the entire house up without a thought. Really, it was hard to predict anything when it came to Levi. When the girl he was dancing with (he was almost sure her name was Julia) left for the restroom, Eren felt a hand on his back and then Jean was at his side, drink in hand.

“Are you getting laid tonight, dude? She's hot, maybe not as hot as Mikasa, but,” Jean said, taking a swig of his drink and patting Eren on the back. “I'll let you have the dorm tonight.”

Eren was partially coherent, but enough so to form thoughts and make sentences. He shook his head slowly, dazed, and asked, “Why is Levi here?”

"What? Why not, he's always at these things."

“I didn't think he'd be here tonight,” Eren said plainly. Levi was now talking to someone who had stopped him, and Eren felt dizzy just watching. Erwin was here with his girlfriend, Levi wasn't supposed to show up. Surely Erwin wouldn't be so dumb as to let them run into each other. 

“Oh no, dude,” Jean said, looking at Eren with a very focused (yet very intoxicated) expression. “My brother said he was coming."

Well, as drunk as Eren was, he was fucking confused now. Erwin knew Levi was coming and yet had his girlfriend here hanging off of him? And who was Levi searching for, if not Erwin? It didn't matter. All Eren knew was that he did not want to be around when shit went down between them. He didn't want to be around if Levi was there, at all. His anger from the other night was still fresh and fierce in his memory, the way Levi had treated him like a child and blatantly disrespected him to his face. Really, Levi deserved this. He deserved to have someone discard him and use him as he did to everyone else. It wasn't mature, but Eren was drunk and that was his excuse for the thrill of revenge he felt at knowing Levi was about to find out some pretty ego-deflating information. 

It had nothing to do with Eren wanting their relationship to end.

Julia came back and hooked her arm in Eren's, sparking up a story she wanted to tell him about this one time in Vegas, and Eren pretended to listen. Levi had made his way to the center of the room now, and Eren acted on instinct. He leaned down, kissed Julia as suavely as he could manage in his drunken state, and asked, "Let's head back to my place?"

Julia agreed and Eren was just happy to have an excuse to leave the building. He gave a nod to Jean, who responded with a 'woohoo!' and a thumbs up from the other side of the room, and Eren began to snake his way through the crowd to the front door with Julia following closely behind. 

And he would've gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for that meddling drug dealer. 

Within the last three minutes, Levi had somehow teleported from the middle of the room back to the entrance. He was oblivious to Eren, hand on the wall and hushed conversation going on with a woman Eren had never seen before. Maybe Levi had a secret girlfriend, too? This shit was crazy. As soon as Eren stopped in his tracks and tried to conceal himself using poor, good-intended Julia, Levi's eyes snapped to him. 

Fuck, he'd been caught!

It couldn't end there, either, it seemed. Levi's gray eyes were locked on him like stone, the woman he had been talking to now looking at Eren as well. She had wild hair and glasses and was not at all dressed for the party scene, but Eren couldn't afford to pay her another glance as he tried to practically shove Julia out the door. I was so fucking close--

"Hey, sugar," Levi was saying now, and Eren knew he stood no chance. "What's the rush?"

 

Chapter Text

"Oh my gosh," she said, hand over her chest. "Levi Ackerman just called me sugar!"

Levi and Eren were both looking at Julia now, and Eren wondered what God he had pissed off to end up in this situation. What had he done to deserve this? And Julia, with her red cheeks and tipsy demeanor, was just as much of a victim in this situation. Regardless, Eren needed to escape now, lest this night takes an incredibly embarrassing turn. He was already in an awkward position leaving with a girl who just fangirled over another man. 

"We were just leaving," Eren said, hand still on the small of Julia's back. He knew that Levi was most definitely not talking to her, seeing as those steely grey eyes were trained on his own, although Eren would've preferred he had been. "Come on, Julia, let's go--"

"Do you have a way to get home?" Levi spoke again, only this time, he was actually talking to Julia. As though Eren didn't even exist, the two of them looking into each other's eyes with opposite expressions. The poor girl was awestruck, staring at Levi with eyes as wide as saucers and sparkling like stars. Levi, however, had this smile on his face, gentle and encouraging. Eren wasn't sure which was worse, the fact that Levi was bothering him in the first place or that Julia would definitely ditch Eren for him given the chance.

That fucker Levi had his hand on Julia's elbow, probably to balance her as she erratically nodded. Is  he really trying to swipe my chick right in front of me? This side to Levi was new to him entirely; all charming and gentle, bedazzled smile like a damn celebrity as he practically hypnotized this poor girl. Standing now with his arms crossed, Eren was basically pouting as he assessed the situation. Where had this side of Levi come from, anyway? How had he changed his personality on cue, being sweet and kind to Julia when he was normally a giant dickhead to Eren? Besides, what was Levi trying to accomplish, why was he even here? He should be worried about his boyfriend's dumb girlfriend, not trying to ruin Eren's night. 

But Levi had Julia captivated, in his white button-up and army green pants, and Eren felt like he could disappear and nobody would notice. 

"Who's your ride home?" asked Levi to Julia, smooth and cool, voice low and almost suggestive. Julia basically stumbled over herself while telling him the name of someone Eren had never heard of. Great, now he's definitely trying to take her home. Why does this shit happen to me?

Julia was over the moon, apparently having the same idea that Eren had, and she gripped Levi's arm in anticipation. Eren kept his eyes on where her fingers wrapped around Levi's wrist and ignored the way Levi's muscles flexed subconsciously under her touch. "I can go tell her to head out without me, that I got a new ride h--"

"Yeah, why don't you go find her?" Levi cut her off very suddenly, reaching into his pocket, presumably for his keys. Eren rolled his eyes.  I don't have to stand here and watch this shit. "And let her know you're ready for her to call an Uber. I don't play for your team, and I need to borrow your little boyfriend here."

He pulled out a wad of cash from his pocket, placing a few dollars in her hand. Then, in response to the three faces of total shock (Julia, Eren, and that weird woman Levi was with) that were staring at him now, shrugged. "Come on, dumbfuck, close your mouth."

This time, Levi was undoubtedly talking to Eren, and Eren barely had the chance to apologize to poor Julia (but really, she owed him an apology for almost ditching him) before he was dragged outside by Levi himself. Life just keeps getting weirder and weirder. 

It was much cooler and easier to breathe outside, as they were accompanied by only a handful of other people. Levi shut the door behind them rather abruptly, before pulling out his cigarettes. Eren's quick attempt to reassess the situation that just occurred resulted in him picking up on that ' I don't play for your team ' comment, meaning that Levi and that woman he'd been talking to were definitely not dating. Still, that was only one of Eren's many questions answered, and as Levi lit his cigarette and brought it to his thin lips, Eren wondered just what went on in this man's head on the regular. 

"What do you want now?" Eren was saying before he could stop himself, flustered expression on his cheeks, which were only growing pinker from the cold. Levi's lips were nearly the color of his eyes now as he blew out the smoke right in Eren's face. It was mid-Autumn at this point, after all, and it was cold as shit outside. 

As Eren coughed and sputtered, waving the smoke away, Levi cooly replied, "What are you all pissy about now? I ruined your only chances of getting laid?" He was leaning against the brick wall, one hand in his pocket, head turned up to the sky. 

As annoyed as Eren was, he couldn't help but notice how nicely Levi's pale skin would look covered in snowflakes. 

"You're a dick," Eren said, sticking his own hands in his pockets to keep them from growing stiff with the chill in the air. He wanted to be angrier, and while he was definitely unhappy with the atmosphere, it was hard to resent a man when you couldn't understand the meaning behind a single one of his actions. Levi made no sense to Eren, and really, all he could guess was that Levi had pulled him out here to ruin his night, which didn't seem beyond him at this point.

"At least I have a dick, whereas your hookup back there certainly did not. Did she know that you're gay?"

Eren dug his nails into his palms. "I'm not gay."

"I beg to differ," answered Levi with a snort, looking like he was almost going to laugh. He dropped his head down and suddenly his dark hair was covering the majority of his face, so Eren couldn't see his expression. "You want my fucking last name."

"Will you shut up?" Eren hushed him, hissing through his teeth, desperately not wanting this conversation to be overheard by literally anyone. Levi just looked at him lazily, and this time, Eren noticed the tip of his nose growing red from the wind. Whatever it was, it made Eren feel queasy in his stomach. "I've told you. I don't feel all that shit you think I do."

"You're jealous of Erwin."

"Who wouldn't be? He's a twelve-foot-tall Captain America with perfect grades, millions of friends, a loving family--"

"Alright," Levi said simply. "So go fuck him, then."

Eren blinked. Wait, what?  

Dropping the cigarette to the ground, Levi smashed it into the concrete with his foot. He pulled his dark-wash denim jacket tighter to his body and kept a small frown on his face. "Kids like you are so impressionable," he bit. Eren couldn't read his expression or the tone in his voice and only stood there like an idiot. "You think you fucking know someone just because you see how they act in public. Well, I can tell you this. Erwin Smith is not who you think he is, and neither am I. I was just going to tell you the date for the next party, but you can go get it from Erwin yourself."

"Hang on," Eren was saying quickly now, and his hand shot out to grab Levi's arm. Levi looked at him with the same look of disgust he'd given Eren that night in the car, and while it might've scared Eren off then, he wasn't going to let that happen now. "What is your deal, dude? Why do you think I'm a fucking pest in your life that you can't get rid of? I go out of my way to avoid you, not make your life worse. You're right that I barely know you, yet you're the one that keeps coming around me. And I don't want shit to do with Erwin Smith."

"I was trying to help you," Levi shot back, jerking his arm out of Eren's loose grasp. "I gave you an invite because that's what you fuckin' wanted, right? Just like every other snot-nosed brat that bothers me on the daily. Then you went and developed a little crush like a child."

Oh, fuck, this was annoying. Eren felt his short-fuse temper nearly explosion, and he had to grit his teeth to stop himself. "You act like I professed my love to you and won't leave you alone," He said, trying really, desperately hard not to lash out. Levi was having another episode of 'everything is about me', and if there was one thing Eren had learned from dealing with the man, it was that starting a fight was just giving him what he wanted when he was like this. So Eren let his hand drop and turned slightly away. "I deleted the text you sent. I told you I'm not doing this shit anymore."

"You're an idiot," shot the older man. He was standing straight now, no longer against the wall, looking like he was on the verge of ditching the situation altogether. "Like, you're actually a fucking idiot. You got what you wanted. Are you insane?"

"You don't know anything about me either, Levi. You don't have a clue about what I want."

"I don't need to know you. You're an open book, that's why people walk all over you."

"Me?" Eren heard himself ask in disbelief. And before he could tell himself it was a bad idea, he scoffed, "You're the one dating a guy with a girlfriend."

Levi's eyes met his in a flash and they held the gaze for a beat in silence. "You think I don't know about that?" he sneered response. "I'm not fucking stupid. And never did I say he was my shitty boyfriend."

Eren stared at him now, unsure what to say, unsure what to think. They weren't dating? So what the hell was going on? He'd had this picture in his mind and he turned out to be wrong after all, and a shiver went through his body from the cold. How long would it be until it snowed now? And why was Levi looking at him with this indecipherable expression, not so much pissed off anymore but still definitely unhappy? 

"Forget this," Levi said now, reaching into his pocket and actually taking out his keys. "I don't know why I'm bothering with this shit anyway. I made it even between us. And while you seem like a good time for a night, you're definitely not worth this fucking hassle."

Levi pushed off the wall and headed back inside the building in one fluid motion. Eren watched as though he were watching a movie. Something inside him felt weird. Why had Levi bothered to call him over, if not to ruin his chances with Julia and give him a hard time? All Levi wanted was a one-night stand, and that put a bitter taste in Eren's mouth that he couldn't explain. Where was Erwin in all this, and what the hell was going on with that situation? 

And who was this woman, with her dark hair and thick-framed sunglasses that she kept pushing up on her nose? Why did she look at Eren with big wide eyes and then squint like she was analyzing him, before quickly turning away to follow Levi wherever he was headed? And what was this urge Eren was having to shout something out, tell Levi to go fuck himself but also to ask him to stay and talk? Instead of doing this, though, Eren wrapped his arms around himself, digging his fingers into his arms now and gritting his teeth.

Eren didn't see Levi the rest of the night. In fact, both he and that brown-haired woman disappeared practically into thin air, and Eren had to reprimand himself over the weight of possible jealousy that settled into his stomach. He knew Levi didn't like women, he had made that clear with his comment earlier in the night, but Eren just couldn't help himself. Anyone that got to spend time with Levi, anyone who Levi made clear he wanted around-- they were lucky. As much as Eren knew Levi was bad for him and was determined to stay away, he knew the value of Levi's time. He didn't give it to many.

And yet he had given it to Eren on several different occasions. While each of these instances was few and far between, as well as explained by different levels of intent, but it made Eren's lips crack in a grin regardless. 

"If I had to pick a woman for Levi Ackerman, she wouldn't have been what I pictured," Jean was saying as he leaned his back against the counter of the kitchen. Erwin had disappeared now, laptop and girlfriend vanished as well, and Eren was pouring punch into his cup. His mind was swirling with thoughts and reactions and emotions he couldn't openly express at the moment and would have to save for later. "I mean, the nerdy NASA-wannabe?"

Taking a sip, Eren peered out into the main living area where bodies upon bodies were bumping and grinding and doing things he could go the rest of his life without knowing. Although the kitchen was fairly busy, it was much better lit and far easier to breathe in, so Eren kept his place next to Jean and resolved to stay there. "Levi wouldn't pick a woman at all. You were right."

"He's gay? And how would you know?" asked Jean suggestively, looking at Eren with his eyebrows raised. He really did look like a damn horse when he pulled that face, Eren thought, refraining from making a comment. 

"He told me," Eren said passively. He didn't want to give away too much, after all Jean didn't know about the ride Eren had given Levi, nor their heated conversation, and most importantly, the invitation. He couldn't let Jean know if he wanted his excuse to not join the frat work. But Jean was looking at him suspiciously, eyes squinted as he took a drink of his drink, and Eren was wondering if they were going to get into another fight before the night was over. 

Jean shifted, setting down his drink and sucking on his teeth. "And what are you thinking about in terms of Hell week? Are you gonna come?"

"I don't know, Jean. I still don't really have a chance of joining and I don't want to embarrass myself like the rest of these guys who don't know what kind of slaughter they're walking into. At least I have a clue, and since I do, I should back off before the embarrassment happens."

"I see through your shit, Eren," Jean snorted in simple response. He was staring ahead now, choosing not to look at him. "You're not worried about Hell week, or being embarrassed. You've never worried about that shit before. And even if I told you right now that I talked to Erwin and he said he'd pull some strings to try to get you in, you still wouldn't care."

"You did what?" 

Jean just looked at him. 

Well, fuck. Eren dragged his hands down his face, drink abandoned on the counter, and he felt like his cover had been blown. Really, what did it matter though? Who cared what Jean thought, whether he was accusing Eren of avoiding a social life in the name of a guy who wanted nothing to do with him?

Well, when you put it that way, it did sound pathetic. 

"Jean, I just--" He began, thinking maybe he could run with a different excuse, another way to get himself out of Hell week. It wasn't that he didn't want to join the frat; he did. He wanted to socialize, he wanted to make friends, it had been his main goal when he came to college and it still troubled him now. Only he had been preoccupied, and now he had his priorities jumbled. 

"Save it. You're being a coward, avoiding a guy because you have some girly, middle-school crush on him," Jean cut him off. Eren wondered just how many drinks he'd had tonight. "I'm giving you a chance to get into Sina Sigma Kappa and you're still going to turn it down? Do you know how many of these kids would kill to be in the spot you're in right now?"

"You're really being a prick right now, dude," Eren muttered, face contorting in practical pain as he knew a fight he didn't want to have was coming.  

"Well, maybe you need someone to be a prick to you. Apparently, Levi isn't doing a good enough job at it because you're still falling over him like he's some... fuckin' God. You could at least thank me for talking to my brother at all and getting him to help you."

"I don't need your brother's help," Eren bit, hearing the words before he even processed them in his own mind. Jean looked at him, eyes narrowed. "I already got a fucking invitation from Levi. I turned it down and that's my business."

It was Jean's turn to blink in confusion. "You… got an invitation to one of Levi Ackerman's parties and you turned it down?"

"Yes."

"Are you stupid? "

"Fuck off," Eren answered plainly. "This isn't the first time I've heard that tonight."

"Prove it," Jean said, the sharpness in his voice reflecting the downturn of his lips. "I don't believe you managed to do it. And if you're really over it and not avoiding him, you'll go. And you'll take me with you."

"I am over it," Eren sighed in exasperation. This conversation was tiring. He'd had it with Mikasa already and all he seemed to be getting was lectures tonight. "And if that's what it takes to get you off my goddamn back, I'll go to the party. Then you can kiss my ass."

"Show me the invite," Jean said now, suddenly amped up and full of energy. "Did he text it to you? Or tell you in person?"

"He texted it to me," answered Eren, peering at his hands absently. Suddenly his fingernails were very interesting. "And I... deleted it?"

"Oh my god, you are stupid."

Chapter Text

And so, here Eren was.

Pride being challenged, he had a few regrets about his previous choices. One being ever talking to Levi Ackerman at all, and the second being deleting that stupid text. Sitting in the mess hall, he had his laptop open, albeit showing only the sleep screen. He had a textbook open in front of him as well, but he had turned two pages in a matter of fifteen minutes and was suddenly feeling a great desire to pack all his shit up and leave. 

Eren took another sip on his second, now-cold latte, setting it down roughly and watching as a drop of coffee splashed onto his rented textbook. A sigh. He didn't want to go back to his dorm, where Jean likely was with a told-you-so look on his face, chattering and pestering about how dumb Eren was, how he had royally fucked up. And Eren, although he didn't exactly agree, couldn't take the constant criticism. He also had made a point of standing his ground, staking his claim that Levi Ackerman did not bother Eren at all and that Eren was man enough to get over his shitty little crush. And Eren took his pride very seriously; just as seriously, it seemed, as he took his sister's opinion of him. He had absolutely zero intentions of telling Mikasa about this party, and he only prayed Jean would be smart enough to avoid telling her, too. 

The text was gone. There was no asking Levi for the address a second time, although Eren and Jean had found out from Erwin that the next expected party was this Friday night. That was all the information he would give. But Eren had pissed Levi off by doing exactly what he always did (which was literally nothing), so that bridge was burned for the time being. And Eren didn't care; he didn't need Levi's good graces, a second invitation, nothing. Actually, the less, the better. He would be fine if he never saw Levi again. All he needed was to somehow recover that goddamn text. 

The thing, though, was that it was gone. Eren had indeed deleted it, just like he'd thought, and no matter of scrolling through his texts would bring back the thread from Levi. He was beginning to wonder if he had imagined the entire thing in his sleep-like, dream-like, pissed-off state that night. Having questioned whether or not the entire night happened altogether, it didn't seem so far-fetched. And, of course, there was the voice in the back of his head that asked, 'You don't want to go, so why do you care? Forget Jean and what he thinks of you, it doesn't matter anyway.' But it wasn't that simple. Eren wasn't just trying to prove something to Jean, he was trying to prove it to himself as well. He wanted to get into the frat, enjoy his freshman year, and live his life just the way he had planned to live it before he'd gotten himself into this mess. 

Finally waking up his MacBook for the first time all morning, Eren scrolled the cursor around randomly, chin in hand, boredly staring at his faint reflection in the screen. Notifications rolled in and he turned the volume off, dings of Facebook messages, news updates, Discord server notifications, and iMessages popping up in the right-hand side of his screen. He ignored them all and instead opened up a new Chrome page, yawning, and heading to the online quiz site he used to study. The issue Eren had inside his head was taking all of his attention, but he had an exam in Biology in two days and that was what needed his focus. He couldn't help it, though. He kept replaying the last conversation he'd had with Levi, the random and sudden frustration when Eren mentioned Erwin's talents, but the ignorance of Erwin's totally serious and open relationship (with a woman, at that!). He remembered the way Levi had lashed out, claiming that Eren knew nothing about him or Erwin, which seemed ridiculous. Eren had grown up knowing Erwin Smith his entire life. Surely he couldn't be hiding much about himself. And Levi, although he was the most confusing person Eren had ever met, seemed to be adamant in the fact that Eren was oblivious and would never understand him. Eren scoffed now at the melodrama, but even that outrageousness didn't stop the scene replaying in his mind of Levi peering up at the night sky, at peace for a single moment, lit cigarette in his hand with smoke swirling around his face and nose red from the cold. 

A 'ding' from his laptop jolted him out of his trance. His computer had nearly gone dark again. Blinking, Eren looked at the corner of the screen, seeing Armin's name. 

Armin, 10:31 AM: I hope you're studying for that exam I know you have, Eren. Don't make me call your sister

Eren cracked a smile. He clicked on his iMessages and watched as the little screen popped up, showing all of his texts. He replied to Armin's text, assuring him that he was studying (although poorly) right this second. And just as he was about to close his computer, he noticed a thread on the side from an unknown number. 

Adrenaline rushed in his veins, excited at the very idea that it could be Levi's text. Why didn't I think of that? All of my texts go to my MacBook iMessage! 

Suddenly feeling entirely stupid, Eren clicked on the unknown number and watched the thread appear. And there it was, the text Eren had deleted on his phone that had held onto his computer through iCloud. The address that had haunted Eren for the past couple nights. Without a moment's thought, he screenshotted the text, sending it to Jean. 

Eren, 10:35 AM: Look what I found, bingo

Jean, 10:38 Am: No fucking way, dude!!!!!!! Jackpot!!!

He had a grin on his face, satisfied by his discovery. And hoping he could now focus, Eren went back to studying, thoughts of the upcoming weekend only interrupting every five minutes. 

-

Friday night. Eren's nerves had never been so shot, he was sure, as they were now. As he stared at himself in the mirror, nothing he chose to wear looked right, and no matter what he did, his hair wouldn't tame itself down. 

"I can't even picture what this is going to be like," Jean said behind him, pulling a t-shirt over his head. "Like, is it going to be some Gatsby-level shit? A ginormous club banger with millions of people and ten DJs? Bouncers at every door, a mansion on a hill or some shit?"

"I don't know, Jean. I'm just as clueless as you are," replied Eren, having thought the same questions to himself time and time again in the past week. He and Jean had driven by the address the night before, wanting a peek into where they would be having the party, but all they had seen was a large gated entrance at the end of a long, long road. Whatever house or building was at the other end of the road was blocked by hills and trees. Jean had tried the gate but it was locked, of course, and it was clear enough already that whoever owned the property had a bit of money. 

So here they stood, in their dorm room with next to no knowledge about what they were walking into. Granted, Eren was not supposed to bring Jean or anyone to the party but himself, if even he was still welcome, and had sent Jean a screenshot of the text to his phone so he could show it as fake proof of a text he'd never received himself. Eren planned on showing up to this party, letting it be known by the heads of the frat through pictures and greetings, and then getting the hell out of there before Levi saw him. He couldn't take another insulting confrontation with the man, who somehow seemed to always hit him right where it hurt. 

"Who are you trying to look good for, Satan himself?" asked Jean in a taunt, ruffling his hair and cackling when Eren smacked his hand. 

"I don't even want to see him," Eren said sternly, patting down his hair again. It stuck right back up when his hand moved away. Really, Eren knew Levi would probably be all dressed up and have his hair slicked back like he sometimes did, and that image alone made Eren want to drool, but it wasn't worth the inevitable uncomfortable situation that seeing Levi would put Eren in. "I also don't want to look like an idiot at this party, though, but you can feel free."

"Shut up, I look damn good. Now if only Mikasa would be there to see me..."

"Mikasa's lucky that she won't have to. I'm jealous."

"I just want to get absolutely fucking plastered, smoke whatever I possibly can, and take lots of pictures so nobody can deny shit," said Jean, determination on his face as he put on his deodorant. "As long as we don't see my brother or you-know-who, nobody will know I'm not supposed to be there. I still can't believe you got an invitation."

"Neither can I," was Eren's mumbled reply. "I'm sure if you did him a favor you'd get one too. He only did it out of gratitude."

Finally, Eren figured he'd have to be satisfied with his look. He was dressing slightly out of his comfort zone, black skinny jeans just a little too tight for every day and wearing brand new faux-leather chelsea boots that Jean said made him look like a hot Tumblr dad. He'd paired these with a long-hem, long-sleeve t-shirt and a bomber jacket to fight the cold. Just to their luck, Mother Nature had chosen this crisp Friday for the first snow of the year, and Eren wanted to be prepared in case this entire party was held outside. 

Giving a low whistle, Jean smacked Eren on the back encouragingly. "You look good. A little gay, but good."

"Oh, suck a dick."

-

The huge, cast-iron gates that had once blocked Eren and Jean from entering the long paved driveway were now wide open. Eren's knee was bouncing as he sat in the passenger seat of the car, toying with the ripped fabric of one of the holes in his jeans. He was more nervous than he would ever admit; what if Levi saw him and demanded that he left? What if they couldn't get past the bouncers Eren had no doubt would be guarding the entrance to the property? 

"This shit is creepy," Jean said, hushed as though they were being listened to. It was pitch dark outside, and the entire drive was surrounded by thick treelines, giving off an eery feel as the car moved slowly forward. "This better not be some kind of trick."

"It's not," Eren replied. Pointing ahead of them, he said, "See up there? There's a line of cars parked."

And it was true. Ahead of them, row after row of cars was parked in a flat area where the trees split off. Jean pulled into a spot and parked the car, and for a moment, the two of them sat in silence in the safety of the car. It looks like we have to walk from here, Eren thought, unsettled. The house is still a half-mile back.

"Can you see the house? What does it look like?" Jean asked, leaning over to peer out of Eren's window. "Goddamn, it's huge."

In the distance, Eren could make out the shape of a two-story colonial-style house, white, in pristine condition. The door was positioned in the center, and on either side, there were four large-paned windows with black shutters. There were pillars on either side of the door, giving the entire house a regal look, and Eren couldn't help but feel confused. Who owned this place? It was clearly an expensive property, with a perfectly kept exterior and lawn, therefore someone was putting some money into it. Surely Levi doesn't live here? 

Eren and Jean found that the walk wasn't as far as it seemed, but completely uphill. Eren had his hands stuffed into his pockets, looking for warmth, and Jean was chattering on about something Eren was only half-listening to. A few cars had pulled up after them, parking and beginning the trek up the hill, as well. Eren couldn't help but look. He'd never seen any of them before, and they seemed to be fairly older than himself, laughing about something. Then the second car of people joined them, waving and acknowledging each other. Clearly, they all knew one another, and Eren shifted uncomfortably. 

The house came closer to view. It was well-lit, as was the lawn, which they began to walk through to get to the front of the house. Music could be heard from inside, although not the typical party music Eren would have expected. It was loud, some dark electronic beat that Eren had never heard before, and the entire house was shaking. If you only looked at it, you'd never expect anything was going on inside. All the shades were pulled. And yet, a large man with short, blond hair was standing in front of the door, dressed in all black clothing and staring directly at Eren and Jean. 

"Pull up that text," Eren murmured to Jean, getting his own phone out, as well. 

Jean complied, and as they approached the man, he put a nervous grin on his face. "Hey man, what's up?" he asked enthusiastically, putting out his hand to dap him up. 

The man remained in his position like a statue, hands folded in front of him and standing ready for action. Nevermind the scornful look on his face; Eren was already considering turning back entirely. "Invitations, please," the man barked, sending a jolt through Eren's spine as he blinked. 

Using his ignored hand to scratch the back of his neck awkwardly, Jean gave a quick nod. "Yeah, dude, of course. Here's my text. Eren, show him yours."

Suddenly, the man's eyes were on Eren, low and inspecting. Jesus, why is he looking at me like that? Under this intense scrutiny, Eren squirmed, rapidly thrusting the phone in front of the man's face. His eyes stayed trained on Eren's face, scrutinizing him, for a beat before he turned his attention to the two screens in front of him. God, I hope this works. 

Without a word, the man straightened and used a large hand to turn the door handle and push the door open. Finally, he said, "Go."

"You don't gotta tell my ass twice," Jean breathed, taking Eren by the shoulder and shoving him inside the house. 

If you walked into a frat party, you would find people wall-to-wall, grinding and dancing like the world was going to end. This was not a frat party, Eren decided, as he took one good sweep of the room. 

There were plenty of people; on couches, standing near walls, sitting on the floor. But as Eren stared, astonished, he heard Jean's breath hitch next to him. "...Swingers?"

Sure enough, more than half of the people were nearly, if not entirely, naked. Eren had to stare; he had no choice. What the fuck have we gotten ourselves into? 

Right at this moment, a guy Eren vaguely recognized walked out of what seemed to be the kitchen. The music was blasting, making it impossible to focus, but this guy was fully-dressed and would hopefully offer some guidance. Jean seemed to catch Eren's idea, glancing over in the direction Eren had been looking, recognition dawning on his face. Quickly, he grabbed Eren's arm and dragged him over to the kitchen, away from the living room area where very open and very revolting things were occurring on the couches.

"Hey, Bert!" Jean called, gaining the guy's attention. With his cropped brown hair and wide eyes, Eren found it incredulous that he was attending this sort of party. After all, a fourth of the entire frat had been to a Levi Ackerman party. No way are they all a bunch of sex freaks!

Bert stopped, looking around before his eyes finally landed on Jean. He had a drink in his hand and seemed to be headed for the stairs. "Jean? Is that you? Does your brother know you're here, man?"

"No, and I'd rather he didn't, you know," Jean said. Eren just stood there dumbly, still in shock. "Listen. Is this a fucking swinger party? We had no clue--"

Bert laughed at this, only adding to Eren's confusion. I am so fucking lost. "You didn't know?" he asked Jean, wincing slightly. "Look, don't worry. Only the main floor is for sex. Upstairs is where most of us who manage to get invites hang out. C'mon, just don't tell your brother I showed you around."

Now, Bert was leading them through crowds of people to a grand staircase, but not before grabbing drinks for the both of them. "You'll need these to forget about what you saw down here," he'd said. Eren was baffled, blinking wildly, unable to wrap his mind around anything that was going on. 

"So, wait," he said, pausing in their journey, eyes shutting tightly as he shook his head in disbelief. "Is... is Levi a swinger?"

"Levi?" asked Bert, eyebrows furrowing. He chuckled again, answering, "No, Levi doesn't even come to these parties."

Alright, now absolutely everything Eren had thought he understood about this situation was just moot. Jean seemed to be on the same exact page, shooting him a 'what the fuck?' look as Bert led them upstairs. If Levi was the person throwing these parties, then why wouldn't he attend? What was the point? Whose house were they in, where did all these people come from, and how did all of this start in the first place? 

"Bert, if you don't mind me asking," Jean said now, taking an experimental drink of whatever was in his cup and cringing at how strong it was. "How did you get an invitation?"

"I did a favor for your brother once, so he lets me know when these parties are," Bert answered. He was in Erwin's graduating class, a friend from high school. So that's where I had seen him from before, besides the frat parties. After going down a hallway, Bert stopped at a door. "Here we are. If I were you, Jean, I'd steer clear of your brother. He wouldn't want you being here."

"Yeah, no shit," Jean pointed out. "No wonder he always refused to get me into one of these parties."

The door opened, and Eren was relieved to see that everyone had their clothes on. Breathing a sigh of relief, Eren entered the room, taking note of a few more familiar faces from the upperclassmen of the frat. The room was painted in red lighting, dim as it was, giving a demonic cast over everyone within the walls. There were two couches where people lazed, smoking joints and passing a (rather large) bong and lighter. In one corner, there was a table with different bottles of alcohol, shot glasses, and an array of drugs that Eren knew he could not afford to buy on his own. There were mason jars of pot, ready to be ground, baggies of cocaine, bottles of pills, and tabs of things he didn't even know the name of. I am not going to make it out of here alive.

"We know some people here, at least," Jean was saying now. Eren took a count of the people in the room. For every face he recognized, there were three he didn't. Doors to conjoined rooms were open, people flowing between them. Eren was about to make another comment about the number of people that they didn't know when a girl with short blonde hair approached them, drink in hand, wearing a black dress that barely reached her upper thigh. 

"Eren. That was your name, wasn't it?" the girl asked, blue eyes scanning his face, a small smile on her lips.  "You might not remember me. I'm Christa, from the club?"

The girl from the club who helped me see Levi! Eren split into a grin, happy to be talking to someone he knew, even if only slightly. "Christa! I didn't recognize you with the curled hair and different outfit. You come to these parties?"

"Of course," she answered sweetly, looking over at Jean. "Ah, my name is Christa. It's nice to meet you, Eren's friend. He tricked me into letting him into the VIP room at the club once, that's how I know him."

"Ah," Eren flushed. "Sorry about that."

"I'm Jean, Eren's roommate, and that was my idea," said Jean, earning a laugh from Christa, only boosting the smirk on Jean's face. Eren wanted to roll his eyes; of course Jean was already looking for a lay. 

"Granted, I should have known it was a lie. Of course my boss doesn't have a fiance. He's not the type," Christa waved them off. Not the type, huh? Well, that shouldn't have made Eren's stomach clench the way that it did. 

Leaning in, Eren put an arm on Christa's elbow. "Look, Christa, can you give us the run-down? We have no clue what is going on here. Swingers downstairs, strangers upstairs... Who runs this? I assumed it was Levi, but--"

"Well, it's a little complicated," she cut him off, blue eyes moving to look over the room. Two girls were now sucking face on the couch, surrounded by a group of guys who were cheering them on. Another girl looked coked out of her mind, sick, about to puke in the corner of the room. "I don't know if you two know who Erwin Smith is, but he sort of puts these things together. As far as I know, he's the one who is interested in all that... swinger business. He and his girlfriend met at one of these parties, and he knows the name of nearly every person who attends."

Jean's jaw had dropped, but before he could spout out that Erwin was his own flesh and blood, Eren shot him a look that told him to shut up if he wanted any more information. 

"Erwin Smith is a swinger?" Eren asked, partly for clarification and partly out of shock. 

"Sure is," Christa said, laughing softly. She took a drink from her cup and continued, "And Levi. Well, he owns this place, but never uses it. Lets Erwin use it for these parties. But you see, once a month, The Red Light District becomes a swingers club. It's this big event that's been happening for years now, attracts people from everywhere. I've had to work it once or twice; it's pretty gruesome. And Levi owns the club so he's there, but I've never seen him participate. Erwin, on the other hand..."

"What?" Eren enticed, egging her on. 

"He's the life of the party, if you know what I mean."

So, that's why Levi had been so adamant that he and Erwin were far from dating. Erwin didn't just sleep with Levi, he slept with everyone. And apparently, that quiet-looking girl he was dating joined him in the task. When Eren looked over at Jean, he looked nearly sick, ready to join the cokehead girl in the corner. 

"Your boss, Christa," Eren continued, question after question coming into his mind. "How does he have all this money? Doesn't he live here, in this nice-ass house?"

Christa pursed her lips, quiet for a moment. "Well, he runs several profitable businesses. But I don't know much about his personal life. If I had to say, I wouldn't think he lived here. This isn't his style... He's very clean, OCD even. I've seen him with... well, plenty of, er, lovers, but this scene is probably too grimy for him."

Eren came to the conclusion that Levi probably supplied all the drugs and hard shit while Erwin got to throw these insane parties. So, why? What did Erwin Smith do for Levi Ackerman that made Levi want to put this shit together for him? It didn't make any sense, and really, it was all making Eren's head hurt. He downed the rest of his drink, hoping to blur out his thoughts altogether. 

"Come on," Christa was saying now. She motioned Eren and Jean, who was still in shock, over to the table. "Mingle!"

And mingle they did. Eren was introduced to several people slightly older than himself, some who were as chill and calm as a gentle wave and others who were bouncing off the walls entirely. Most interesting, it seemed, was a guy named Mike and his group of friends. Mike was a tall blond man with a mustache, very subdued, as Eren would learn, from the "TNT" he had taken earlier in the night. And Mike's friends were a girl named Darla, a younger guy named Ford, and now apparently, Jean and Eren. 

"I haven't seen you two at of these parties before," Mike had said upon meeting them. Then, he cracked a smile. "You're cool, though. Want to try acid?"

Eren had never done acid before or even come anywhere near it. Now, the little tab was being presented to him practically on a silver platter. Before he could decline, Jean looked at him and said, "I'll do it if you will."

"Are you insane?" Eren replied, hushed. "What if your brother finds you here?"

"What's he going to do? Man's a goddamn swinger. Can't really school me on morals anymore."

Groaning, Eren sucked in a breath and considered his options. I can say no. But when will I get this chance again?

Eren said, "Fuck it," and they took the acid strips together. 

After this, the party seemed to really get started. Nevermind the people and the noise from downstairs, they were having their own little ball upstairs, as well. Darla had taken to dancing with Eren, grinding on him and using his hands to explore his own body. Eren continued having drink after drink before turning to shots, throwing back Fireball as he'd never done before. Darla encouraged it, rooting him on, having taken molly herself, she told Eren. And the red light that cast hues over the room just added to the atmosphere, making Eren's eyes flutter shut in pleasure every once in a while. 

Jean was doing alright himself, as well, having taken to the couch and was entertaining two girls who were barely clothed and hanging onto his every word. Eren shot him a successful grin, which Jean returned, and was dragged into the next room over by Darla. 

After about twenty minutes, things began to go distorted. Everything that moved appeared to be lagging, and Eren felt his limbs growing heavy. Darla was talking but he couldn't really hear her, as though she were speaking through a distant telephone. Taking a seat on the couch, Eren let Darla kiss him and returned it to the best of his abilities. "How do you feel?" Darla had asked him, hands beneath his shirt, like spiders against his skin.

"Melty," he replied, breathless. 

After about an hour, Eren couldn't move much at all. The world around him seemed to actually be melting, including his own body, which felt like it was being weighed down by a thousand heavy bricks. Shit was spinning and all Eren could do was try to hold on, hands gripping the couch desperately, as though his body was going to slide right off any second. And there was Mike in his ear, pushing another shot into his hand, instructing him to keep drinking. The bass of the music around him was like knives in his brain. 

Faintly, Eren recognized Darla standing near the window, peering outside. He couldn't manage a word to ask her what she was looking at, dress half on and half off her body. Eren wondered where Christa had gone. And where was Jean?

"Ackerman's car just pulled up," Darla was saying to Mike, who stood behind her looking outside as well. "I'd heard rumors that he was going to show up tonight. I didn't think they were true."

"You've never even met him before," Mike had said. Eren laid down on the couch. "Are you excited to see if he lives up to all the legends?"

"Eren's about to blackout," hummed Darla. She had her hands on his hips, glancing down at Eren's figure. "Maybe a thousand micrograms was too much."

Mike shrugged, lighting a blunt he had pulled out of his pocket. Passing it to Darla, he said, "If you can't hang, don't get on the monkey-bars."

"Is all this really necessary?" asked Ford. He had his eyebrows together in deep concern, chewing at his bottom lip. "I mean, this kid didn't do anything. I get that you're trying to get a rise out of Levi, but..."

"Levi didn't want him anywhere near this place. Trying to protect him, it seemed. Wouldn't sell to him or anything... and I don't have a clue as to why. Well, after tonight, I doubt Eren will ever come around Ackerman or these parties again," Mike took a long drag, breathing out the smoke like a dragon. He then ashed it over Eren's head, who laid unmoving in his own bubble. "So really, I'm doing the man a favor."

Chapter Text

Levi hadn't wanted to show up, just as he never did. There was no place for him at these parties that Erwin threw, and although he was the owner of the property, he'd never felt at home at Kenny's house. His uncle was long gone now, of course, but it was like his evil fucking spirit haunted the walls of the colonial estate. That was a part of Levi's past he'd be happy to never confront. 

Despite all of this, here he was. And for what? 

He'd given the snot-nosed brat the benefit of the doubt; his own mistake. Maybe he's smart enough to decide on his own to stay away from this shit. Maybe I won't have to interfere at all. Even if he is here, maybe he's just getting plastered and talking to some chick he won't have the balls to fuck. But this was Eren Jaeger we were talking about here, and if Levi knew one thing by now, it was that Eren never made shit simple. Nothing could be easy. And Mikasa's number in his recently-called phone log didn't make it any better. 

So while he could hope that Eren was just partying with his dumbass friends, there was also an entirely different possibility. Maybe he's downstairs getting screwed up the ass by some friend of Erwin's. Maybe Erwin himself. God knows his incapability of keeping his hands away from shit that doesn't belong to him. As Levi killed the engine of his car, trying not to grip the steering wheel too hard, he stared up at the house he knew was currently filled to the brim with strangers. Letting these weird fuckers get jizz and cocaine all over the house is, at least, a good fuck-you to Kenny.  

He had parked in the driveway, obviously, instead of the grassy area where the guests had to park their cars. He also went in through the side entrance, keying in the code to the door and sticking his keys into his back pocket. He wasn't sure why he was here, really. He knew Eren had shown up, thanks to Reiner out front letting him know of the idiot's arrival, but that wasn't reason enough. He'd make a promise a few days ago, and if Levi planned on remaining bodily intact, he was going to keep it. 

I just hope to God I don't run into a single person I know, he thought to himself as he moved through the mudroom. That was unlikely, he knew, seeing as most people who knew Levi knew Erwin. Including, though not limited to, a fair amount of anyone Levi had ever fucked. But that was a different story for a different day. 

Making it to the kitchen, Levi scanned the room. Dirty. Food everywhere, abandoned solo cups, napkins and… various other things Levi didn't want to register. A couple was open-mouth making out right on the, his, counter-tops, to which Levi grimaced and barked, "Get the fuck out. People eat in here." They obeyed in an instant, although they likely had no clue who Levi even was, the dead look in his eye was probably enough. They left the room like the ground was on fire. Breathing a small sigh of relief, Levi carded a hand through his hair. It's going to be a long night, he thought, just as The Sex God himself sauntered into the room, an idiotic grin on his face and shirt halfway buttoned. 

Stopping in the doorway, Erwin regarded Levi with a blink. "Well, would you look what the cat dragged in. What are you doing here?"

"I own this house," Levi snapped, arms crossed over his chest defensively. Sometimes, Erwin's age really showed. And with his hair a mess and the fly to his pants down, he looked remarkably twenty-one and stupid, making Levi feel ancient in his own composure. "What round are you on? Fourteen?" He wasn't referencing drinks.

Erwin walked over to the fridge, pulling it open and grabbing a wine cooler. "Why? Care to join, for once? I'll make it worth your while, Levi, just like I always do."

Levi scoffed now, wishing now that he'd refrained from engaging in conversation at all. This isn't what I'm here for. I don't have time to hear this. "I'll have to pass. Please, for the love of God, leave me out of your kinky shit."

"That's right," Erwin said, realization dawning on him. He shut the fridge and popped the cap, steam flowing from the open top. "You're only here for your little conquest. Well, I haven't seen him, so I can't help you."

"Your humiliating jealousy is showing," Levi said over his shoulder as he made his way to the living room entrance. Grimacing as he noticed the general state of the room, he shot Erwin a final look. "Have all this shit cleaned up before noon."

Staying close to the wall, Levi snaked through the room, avoiding eye contact with everyone in hopes of keeping unwanted conversations at a minimum. Although most of the actual sex at these parties happened in off-side rooms, there were the occasional couples that were really into some voyeur shit, and once you'd seen it, there was no unseeing it. A fair amount of the people at the parties were also his patrons, be it at the club or his… side business. Seeing them naked and caught-in-the-act, literally, made business a little uncomfortable. Finding his way to the front door, Levi stepped outside, crisp cold air hitting his skin again and making him exhale in calm. 

"Is he here?" he asked without greeting, taking out a cigarette and cupping his hand around it in order to light it. Putting the light back into his pocket, he took a drag, tiredly looking at Reiner. The man had his arms crossed and was staring out into the snow-covered yard with concentration. 

"Showed up about two hours ago," Reiner answered. "Blonde kid with him too, but I didn't get his name."

Jean. "Does Erwin know?"

"Saw no reason to tell him, sir," Reiner said simply, shrugging. Levi enjoyed the way Reiner conducted business, and paid him to do so for that very reason. He was straight to the point, easy to understand; a breath of fresh air. 

Really, Levi had no intention of telling her Eren had shown up at all unless something went wrong. All Levi would have to do was monitor from a distance, make sure the kid got home safely and then a guilty conscious wouldn't be on his hands. 

Ashing his cigarette, Levi was beginning to step inside when Reiner spoke again, voice like gravel. "Oh, and boss," he's said, slicing through the silence. Levi glanced at him. "Mike Artorio is here. I know you've been weary of him, so I thought you'd like to know."

You're damn fucking right I'd like to know. That creep only brings bad reckonings wherever he goes. Erwin might be childhood friends with him, but I see right through his bullshit. Levi wanted could've said it all, but resolved to mutter, "Got it."

Levi continued to smoke his cigarette as he moved back through the crowds to head for the stairs. If Erwin hadn't seen Eren, then at least he was likely not being fucked by Erwin or any of Erwin's other swinger buddies, so he was probably upstairs. Probably just smoking a joint, talking to Jean, nothing worth checking into.  

And yet, Levi felt obligated. Possibly more than that. Pausing at the base of the stairs, one hand on the rail, he frowned. Sure, the name in his recent call log was pushing him toward that upstairs room, but so was a deep feeling of something just doesn't fucking feel right. Besides, she asked me to. Well, demanded.

With a grunt, Levi started up the stairs, black boots hitting the steps a little stronger with each stride. 

These were the notorious parties that Levi himself was known for at campuses around the city. Parties that Erwin had nearly complete control over, that Levi actually wanted entirely nothing to do with and rarely attended. If anything, the parties only helped to bring in clientele and get his name around, which helped his business(es) to flourish. Nevermind the club, which raked in enough piles of cash a night on weekends with ease. This illusion that Levi was some unattainable socialite was little more than a business ploy. Though, he'd considered, it did help to keep himself distanced from the personal side of the businesses he ran. It allowed him to continue living his lifestyle, away from others and only using people as he pleased. And when he was done with them, he could be done with them. Nobody tries to delve into your personal life or any of that pathetic shit when you're a notorious drug dealer with a mysteriously eluded criminal background. 

Well, nobody but that shithead Eren Jaeger. 

Reaching the top of the stairs, Levi heard the music pouring out of the series of conjoined rooms where he knew the influx of college kids would be found. Not many managed to weasel their ways in, but those that did stayed up here, accompanied by people who worked for Levi at the Red Light District and various non-swinger friends of Erwin. That's where Mike Arturio fit in, the fucking weirdo. Although Levi had never caught him in the act, Mike gave him the fucking creeps; the shit that he had been accused of by people naive enough to fall into his grasp made Levi's skin crawl. But since he had nothing to go on, Levi could do little more than warn those he could, like Christa and the other waitresses and dancers that worked for him. 

In fact, Christa was the first familiar face that Levi saw as he entered the room, door shutting behind him, eyes adjusting to the dark red-light hue that washed over everything. Standing off to the side with Ymir attached to her arm, Christa's eyes found him quickly and a flush came over her face, as though caught in some criminal act. 

"Sir! I-, it's nice to see you! What, um, what are you doing here?" she asked, timidly, both hands wrapped around her drink. Levi looked over the room, hoping to go as unnoticed as possible. It wasn't possible; a room full of inebriated college students did not have to tact to keep their staring and chatter to a minimum. Mostly, though, the noise from the speakers was enough for him to ignore it. 

"No," Levi answered, still nursing his cigarette with a firm scowl on his face. The entire area smelled like socks and Fireball. Putting the butt out against the wall, he flicked it onto the ground. "Have you seen Eren, Christa?"

"Eren? Who is-" she asked, eyes going a little wide, before she took a quick glance around. "Oh! Eren, the boy from- I… well, he was just here an hour ago, talking to me. Then he went to mingle, and I haven't seen him since, sir."

"And his friend, Jean?"

"The blonde one. He's over there, asleep on the couch," said Christa, pointing in the direction. Levi followed her finger, frowning at the drooling figure of the horse-faced boy. "They must've been separated..."

"Thank you anyway, Christa," Levi said in departure, resolving with a sigh that he would have to look his own goddamn self. Asking anyone else in the room would be a bust, considering the level of intoxication held by the general population. Searching the room with narrowed eyes, he didn't spot any tall, moppy-haired kids with goofy smiles. In conclusion, no Eren. 

"Whoa, hold on," a kid said, making Levi snap his head in his direction. Some curly blonde kid with fucked up teeth. Also not Eren. "You're Ackerman, aren't you? Levi Ackerman? No fucking way, dude!"

"How did you even get in here?" Levi asked in disgust, giving a short scan upward before continuing on. Erwin has got to stop being so generous with those fucking invitations. 

In the next room over, there was just as little sign of Eren as the room before. Finally, growing increasingly frustrated, Levi pulled whatever punk kid was to his right to him by the back of his shirt, asking him directly, "Have you seen Eren Jaeger? Treetop motherfucker with a head full of shitty hair?"

"I-I think so, yeah, man," the guy replied, thoroughly confused by the entire situation. Funnily enough, he put his hands up in surrender. Levi only quirked a bored brow. "I think, uh, he took a bunch of acid- Mike, you know, gave it to him. He was in here earlier all doped out on the couch until they convinced him to get up and keep drinking. Last I saw, he was running to the bathroom to chuck it all up."

"When?"

"Fifteen minutes ago? Maybe, I don't-"

Levi released him, only to wipe his hand on his jeans and grimace before making his way to where he knew to be the nearest bathroom. Mike and his friends seemed to have cleared the premises, having done their damage. Acid, and I can only fucking imagine how much they gave him. Eren can't even hold his liquor.

There was a considerable line for the door but Levi told them all to fuck off, saying, "This is my fucking house. Go shit on the lawn, I don't care." Pushing in with annoyance, he stopped in the doorway with one hand on the door handle. One more minute and the line of blundering idiots would have pushed their way in instead. On the floor against the wall sat a very pale and half-asleep Eren Jaeger, vomit in the toilet and in his hair, too. And was that beer spilled on his shit?

"Ah, fuck me," Levi muttered, grimy feeling clinging to his skin. The air smelled like puke and sweat and Eren, still, somehow. He used the toe of his boot to flush the toilet, then sat in a squat low enough to be at Eren's slumped-over level. "Hey, you shitfaced motherfucker. Wake up. You can't just sit here all night long."

Zero response. Not even one eyelash twitched. Disgruntled, Levi got under the sink and got out a washrag, one that probably hadn't been touched in years, and put a little water on it before using it to wipe Eren's hair around his face clean(er). Not without a grimace, of course, the very thought of touching the boy's puke making his own stomach churn. Then, with a breath, he raised his palm and open-handed smacked the kid squarely on his cheek, just hard enough to earn a jolt of surprise, red handprint taking form on pale skin. 

Hazel eyes were now wide and staring right at Levi, pupils dilated, and an astonished look on his face. With instinct, Eren flinched away, seemingly lost in his own world. "What?" he asked meekly. It was clear he had no clue where he was or who Levi was at all. 

Thank you, Mike, you absolute dickhead. "Alright, come on. Get your ass up. I don't know what you were thinking, taking drugs from total strangers but you're lucky I don't call your fucking sister," Levi chastised. He sounded alarmingly more like a dad than he'd ever imagined himself sounding. Taking Eren by under his arms and heaving him up into a quasi-standing position, Eren leaned most of his weight against Levi. Now, recognition and memory returning to him, he looked curiously to Levi. 

"My sister?" Eren asked drowsily, staring off into someplace Levi couldn't reach in his sober state of mind. "How do… How you know her. My sister?"

Not answering, Levi decided to save that for another time. Hauling Eren's half-conscious ass out of the bathroom, he dragged the boy down the hall, begging him to walk at least a little- but his requests fell on deaf ears. Finally reaching the door, Levi opened it, revealing the narrow set of stairs that (hopefully) nobody knew about but him. "Alright, you fucking drunk. I can't carry you up these goddamn stairs, so you're going to have to shape up a little."

"Where. Where are we going?" asked Eren, looking at Levi for one solid second before lacing his arm around the shorter man's shoulders and pulling him forward, pressing Levi flush against himself. "You are an angel."

Oh, holy hell. "Fuck off me, idiot," Levi snapped, shoving Eren off of him and toward the stairs. The taller boy stumbled, landing flat on his feet before craning his neck to look upward. "Up, now."

Eren did as told, albeit slowly, occasionally pausing in his efforts to regain balance. During one of these periods, Levi nearly collided with him and grabbed him by the shoulders in frustration, nearly lashing out once more. But before he could, Eren murmured, "Everything is melting. The walls, the floors… even me and even you."

"I've got to get your ass to bed," Levi replied impatiently. 

Once they reached the top of the stairs, Levi found the light switch, illuminating the room in soft yellow light. When Levi was forced to stay here, this was where he stayed. His own little sanctuary in this house of dirt. It was pristine, untouched by anyone else, and he squirmed at the idea of letting a sweaty, just-vomited teenager in the bed, but he had little choice if he wanted the kid to wake up the next day alive and having not been subject to the discretion of strangers in his sleep. 

The room wasn't overly occupied. Levi kept it practically sterile. There was a simple four-post full-size bed, clean grey sheets and white blanket, nightstand with a lamp, along with a mini-fridge Levi kept stocked with water and snacks. One chair in the corner of the room, as well. He was prepared mostly for himself, but he supposed it helped in this situation, too. 

Eren happily collapsed onto the bed, already nearly asleep. Rubbing a hand over his own tired eyes, Levi sighed. "Don't fall asleep yet, brat. You've got to drink some water so you don't fucking die."

Eren muttered incoherently, so Levi got a bottle of water and forced him to drink. Eren sat up on his elbows while Levi tilted his head back and poured water into his open mouth before letting him sprawl out on the bed in whatever manner he desired. It didn't take long. Eren asleep was much more at peace than Eren awake, features all soft and childlike, clothing bunched up and one shoe hanging off his foot. After removing them both so more unnecessary dirt didn't find its way in his bed, Levi decided not to bother him. Taking a much-needed seat in the chair across the room, he stared at the boy and wondered how he'd gotten himself in this situation. 

If she hadn't called you, you would still be here anyway, wouldn't you Levi?  

He didn't want to think about it. Instead, he leaned his head into his hand and let his eyes close.

-

A bright, white light appeared, unrelenting and unforgiving. Although he turned away from it, tossing and turning and trying to escape, it wouldn't leave. Finally, frustrated, Eren peeled his eyes open and confronted the offender.

An open window… and the morning sun. 

Oh, fuck me, Eren thought to himself, squeezing his eyes shut in another desperate attempt to block the light. But it didn't help, so he threw himself into an upright position, hands patting the surface beneath him desperately to find some sort of blanket or cover to pull over his eyes. This shit is worse than any hangover I've ever had in my life. 

Sitting up had had an adverse effect, one that hit like a wave of sharp objects stabbing Eren right in his temples. He kept his eyes sealed shut, scared of facing the blinding sunlight. Letting out a pathetic noise of pain, he flopped back down onto his back and held his hands over his eyes, teeth ground together in pain. What did I do to deserve this?

Tense and on the verge of lashing out in frustration, Eren used a hand to block the sun so that he could finally squint his eyes open, using this opportunity to look around the room. What he expected to see was his dorm, with Jean in the bed beside him, sleeping soundly. What he found instead was Levi Ackerman, leaning directly over him, eyebrows together in tight frustration. And a frown on his pale face directed straight at Eren.

"Jesus Christ," Eren squealed, jolting away from the man leaning above him and hitting his head against the backboard of the bed. "Oh, God! Jesus, fuck!"

"Care to continue to blaspheme? Maybe once more, for good fucking measure."

Eren rubbed the back of his head, seeing him in clear focus now. The sun was shining from behind him, but the scowl on his face was evident, and Eren very quickly came to the conclusion that he was not in his dorm after all. "Where even am I? Why are you here? Why do I feel like I've been hit by a… a train?"

"Because, dumbfuck," Levi deadpanned. He had a lit cigarette between his fingers, hair pushed back (just like Eren had pictured he would before), and a blanket in his other hand. "You took a shit ton of acid last night from a stranger, continued to get plastered, emptied your stomach and then that's when I found you. Making an absolute mess of yourself and of my house."

"Your house?" Eren asked in his daze of confusion. Looking around, it seemed like they were in a renovated attic of sorts, a single room with white walls and wooden floors. A bed with a white blanket, which he now bunched in his hand. "I thought… you don't live in this house, Christa said."

"How sweet of you to inquire of other people about where I sleep at night. I don't live here, you're right, but it's still my house and I don't appreciate you vomiting all over it. Or yourself. I had to clean that shit off you so it didn't get in my bed."

All Eren really, truly heard from that lecture was 'my bed', and he looked down in wonder at where he was laying; on a mattress with grey sheets and one firm pillow. His bed. So he's slept in this bed before, probably on these exact sheets and this pillow, too. I wonder if it smells like-

"Don't do any creepy shit just because I told you that," Levi grimaced, as though reading Eren's mind. 

Putting a hand on his forehead, Eren took in a pained deep breath. "I feel horrible. Everything is still dizzy."

"The trip should have worn off by now, seeing as you've been asleep for about ten hours. And the only reason you were able to sleep is because I put a sleeping pill in your water. I warned you to stay away from this shit and stick to pot," Levi said, taking a quick drag of his cigarette before putting it out on an ashtray on the nightstand. He looked at Eren hard and stern for a moment. "Should've known you don't listen for shit. Also, no more mingling with the likes of Mike Arturio. Motherfucker hates my guts and was probably trying to get at me through you."

"Why would Mike give me acid to make you mad?" Eren asked, sitting up again, slowly but surely. He realized he was still in his clothes from the night before, just without his shoes. "That's a large over-shot of the level of care you have about my life at all."

Levi didn't say anything, just picked something up from off the nightstand and handed it to Eren. Eren stared at it in his hand; My phone? "Call your sister."

Eren blanked. Had I even told Levi I have a sister? "Why? How do you know my--"

"Just do it," Levi snapped in response, eyes rolling slightly. "And tell her I did my damn job."

Lost, Eren unlocked his phone and tapped Mikasa's contact to call her. Slowly, he put it up to his ear, keeping his eyes trained on Levi's the entire time. It rang a few times before she picked up, saying, "Eren? Is everything okay?"

Eren squirmed. It was like everyone knew something he didn't. And he didn't even want to tell Mikasa he had gone to the party last night at all. "Yeah, Mikasa, everything is fine… Levi told me to call you so-"

"He did? Let me talk to him. Is he there?"

With a huff, Eren answered, 'yeah yeah' and handed the phone to Levi. How did they know each other in the first place? What the hell was going on? 

"Hello, Mikasa. Yes. Well, I wouldn't say that," Levi was saying, sending glances Eren's way as he talked on the phone. Eren wanted to throw a tantrum; why were they talking about him like he wasn't right there? "Of course I did. You don't have to be a— well, you know. Okay, okay. Here, I'm giving you over to him. Fuck."

Then Levi handed the phone back, and Eren took it very cautiously. Before he could get a word out, Mikasa's voice came through loud and clear. "Eren Jaeger. I told you to stay away from these parties and these people. What in the world has gotten into you, has college turned you into an idiot? I don't even want to know what you managed to get your hands on, the fact that you're sleeping it off in Levi's attic is enough for me to know it was bad!"

Pulling the phone away from his ear, Eren winced, ignoring the amused look on Levi's face. "Mikasa, calm down. First of all, how do you even know Levi? You've never even met him before. Can someone tell me what is going on?"

He heard his sister sigh on the other end. Levi's arms crossed, eyebrow arching conspicuously. "There isn't much to tell. After I went to a few of the parties at your school with you, I'd heard about Levi Ackerman, the famed drug pusher. And I got curious; my last name was Ackerman before I was adopted into your family. Remember?"

Eren did. Mikasa went by Mikasa Jaeger ever since they were young, so he hadn't given it a second thought when he met Levi Ackerman. Looking at him now, Levi seemed a little disgruntled, tapping his foot on the group and shifting where he stood. "Yeah, I do."

"I looked into it. Levi is my cousin through my father, my biological father. I'd never met him before those parties. And then when you started telling me about how you… well, you know," Eren cringed, hoping Levi couldn't hear Mikasa's voice now, as she was talking more quietly. He seemed to be oblivious though, glancing around the room in disinterest. "I reached out to him and asked him if he could do me a favor and just… look after you. I can't do it because I'm so far away, but I knew he was bad news and didn't want you hanging onto him. So I asked him to keep a distance from you, maybe even discourage you a little. Keep you away from drugs. Which, in theory, meant to keep you away from him."

Levi looked at Eren now, making brief eye contact before clearing his throat and turning away to sit in the chair on the other side of the room. Hold on, something about didn't feel fair. This had been arranged behind his back and now it was coming to light, which should've made things clearer but really only made Eren more confused, effectively. He felt deceived, a little, as he shook his head and let out a breath; though he wasn't sure why. His first thought wasn't even his anger toward his sister for meddling; it was would things have been different if she hadn't intervened? "You butted into my life and tried to control me from 30 minutes away? And, Mikasa, you didn't have to ask him to avoid me. He would've done that shit on his own."

Now, Levi was watching him, seeing as he was clearly being talked about. Something akin to frustration washed over his face, but Eren just turned his attention away from the brooding man. Nothing he'd said was a lie, after all. 

"You're allowed to be mad at me. But I'm not sorry I did it. You ended up stoned and helpless at a party, unable to care for yourself. I'm right, aren't I? And it's all because of him, his influence, yet he had to rescue you. Now you know better; you'll stay away from both him and these parties, won't you?"

The two of them had pulled this off without a thought or concern as to what Eren wanted, or what Eren thought was best. Two older adults making his decisions for him; it was tiring. Even when he was eighteen he was being treated like a child. With a frown, anger and adrenaline began to pump through his veins. Levi had a part in this, as well. Probably thought that it would be an easy way to get Eren off of his back, annoying as he was. And so Eren had been played by two people without regard to how he felt; one of whom was his own sister, someone he thought he could depend on. With a sharp breath, he made eye contact with Levi and replied, "No. I'm going to keep doing whatever I want. I'm going to go to whatever parties, do whatever drugs, and fuck whoever I want. I thought being an adult would mean having my sister's trust, but apparently I was wrong."

Mikasa didn't say anything right away. It hurt to talk to her like this, but Eren couldn't see anything beyond his own disrespected emotions. And then there was Levi, who stood, saying, "Don't get mad at her, Eren, you know she-"

" You treated me like a child, too," Eren cut him off with a bitter scoff, giving a small shake of his head. "You never took anything I said seriously. I don't need a babysitter."

Eren hung up the phone, not waiting around for Mikasa to give him some sort of answer. He wondered if Jean was still downstairs as he stood up, glancing around for his boots. Levi stayed where he stood near the chair, not saying a word but not looking exactly regretful either. Finally, as Eren pulled on his boots, Levi said, "She has your best interest in mind."

"Are you going to lecture me, too?" Eren asked. He really didn't need this, and everything he was feeling showed easily, like always, on his face. 

"No. Not my place. But your anger should be directed toward me, not her."

"Oh, believe me, you've got your share. You don't even know me, and yet you've treated me like a floor mat for the past month or so, at her command. All you ever had to do was tell me to fuck off and I would have. Mind you, you came around me and taunted me , multiple times."

"Fine," Levi said simply. Eren caught the way he pursed his lips, as though refraining from speaking, as he pulled out another cigarette. "It's up to you. Be pissy and throw your little tantrum, you'll get over yourself and make up with her eventually. I did what she asked, so I have no dirty conscience."

Eren's lips thinned. He couldn't believe it, Levi lived more and more up to the poor expectations everyone had for him by the day. With a scoff, Eren glanced up, not wanting to meet the man's eye. "You're just as horrible as they say."

Levi's jaw clenched, Eren could see it out of the corner of his eye. "Leave. I don't have to put up with your fifth-grade bullshit anymore," he said sternly, motioning to the top of the stairs. "I didn't have to clean you up and save you from the wrath of a bunch of drunk college boys, either. Mikasa didn't ask me to do that. But since I'm so horrible, go find your friend and get the fuck off my property."

The door slammed behind Levi. Eren sat frozen for a beat, as though the vibrations from the wooden panels had shocked him still. His jaw was still clenched, and his knuckles were white as he fisted the blanket beneath him, but he couldn't move. What was he supposed to do now? Mikasa had betrayed him, had tried to keep him from being happy; although, if she hadn't, would anything have happened anyway? Had she really kept him from anything when this was who Levi was, when he was so desperate and eager to leave Eren in the dust anyhow? There was no budding romance or shared feelings. Eren had a stupid, pathetic crush; a grinding session and an intoxicated display of jealousy meant nothing.

It certainly did not mean reciprocation, which Eren hadn't even known he'd imagined in his mind until now. 

Chapter Text

He was angry. Pissed. So why were tears pooling in his eyes? 

Because I'm frustrated, he assured himself, using the heel of his palm to rub fiercely at his eyes.  

He laced up his boots, put his phone in his back pocket, and braced himself. He moved to leave before pausing and throwing a glance back at the bed for his keys. Oh right, Jean drove last night. And then, as he stared at the bed, maybe I should make it?  

Oh, Jesus Christ. Here he was, churning with anger and mind burning with vengeance, but he was considering making up the bed of the very person he was mad at because it would be polite. With a huff, directed solely at himself, Eren sauntered back over and threw the blanket squarely out onto the bed before straightening the pillows. As he was doing so, he caught sight of something sitting on the nightstand. Pausing, pillow squished between his hands, Eren took sight of the mindfully placed objects. It was a glass of ice water, full, entirely untouched. And one white aspirin beside it, on a little napkin-- and that was all it took for Eren to yell "Fuck!" and slam the pillow onto the mattress. 

Downstairs, or rather on the second story, Jean was nowhere to be found. There were a few straggling college kids who only looked equally or worse off than Eren, besides Christa. She appeared to be attempting to hustle said kids out of the room and out of the house, with Ymir at her side barking orders. 

"Oh, Eren!" she breathed when she made eye contact with the boy. Her bright smile fell, though, and she looked out of place in the middle of a completely wrecked room. "You look like you've been hit by a train! Where were you even hiding all night?"

Sheepishly, Eren scratched his neck. Glancing around at the confetti, beer cans, clothing, and cups that were scattered along the floorboards, he noted how normal the space looked when it was lit by sunlight instead of red light. "I… got caught. Levi tore into me, hauled me off to bed. I guess I let myself get too carried away last night."

With the way Christa was looking at him, mouth slightly agape and eyebrows furrowed, he wouldn't have thought anything about it. But when she began to grow red in her cheeks, he sputtered, waving his hands and proclaiming, "No! No, I didn't mean that. He made me go to bed because I was drunk off my ass! Oh, God, Christa."

Relieved, but still incredibly pink in the face, Christa gave a small nod and smile. "Right… Ahem, well, he went downstairs if that's who you're looking for. Seemed a little touchy. If you're looking for Jean, however, I guess you could say Erwin tore into him earlier as well."

Well, shit. Jean might not even be here, Eren thought. Quickly, he went over to the window and searched the front yard for that familiar blue Honda. When he spotted it, he breathed a sigh of relief. With a small smile to Christa, he left the room and headed downstairs, finally seeing the house in daylight and noting that it had probably been an expensive build. The banisters on the stairs were a cherry wood and rather ornate, and every room had the same now-scraped hard-wood floors and large, multi-paned windows. Before Eren could do anymore analysis, he hit the bottom stair-step, and was greeted with the ground-floor of the house, which was, to his surprise, absolutely pristine. All of the people had vanished, the cream carpet had been vacuumed, and furniture was now sitting where furniture had not been before. There was even a candle lit on the coffee table, which reflected the sunlight that poured through the crystal-clear windows. 

Did I hallucinate everything I saw last night?

"Close your mouth, you might start drooling," said a voice he immediately recognized, but it wasn't Jean, and it wasn't even Levi. It was Erwin, who stood with gloved hands on his hips in the foyer. Eren tensed, having not given previous thought that it might be him who he'd run into. Suddenly, there was an energy between them that Eren had never detected before, but also could not classify. 

"Where is he?" was all Eren could choke out, very abruptly feeling nauseous all over again. 

"Jean? Or the man of the house?" asked Erwin. His narrowed eyes slid over Eren, taking in his frumpled and slept-in clothing and bed-head. He, himself, was as sterile-looking as the room; freshly-washed blonde hair slicked back away from his face, blue plaid button-up shirt, dark-wash jeans without a single wrinkle. How he managed to clean himself up so quickly after a night of total debauchery, Eren had no clue. "He's currently in the bathroom down the hall emptying his stomach. Yet I'm surprised it's not Levi you're looking for; although, I'd keep my distance if I were you."

Eren blanked. "Distance?"

Erwin stayed silent, pulling off his gloves and tossing them in the nearby trash-bag. On his way to the kitchen, while Eren stood frozen still in his spot, he gave a sigh. "It's not my place, but I'll just advise that you don't go there. You don't know what you're getting yourself into."

And then he was gone, and so was the spell that kept Eren chained to the stairs. Able to breathe again, he forced himself to deflate, when all he wanted to do was follow Erwin into the kitchen and demand answers while also giving him a piece of his mind. But he refrained and found his feet carrying him down the hallway to the bathroom where Jean was rumored to be hiding. 

What was there for Eren to get himself "into" anyhow? 

He pressed in, not bothering to knock, feeling like he also needed to hide from what was, or wasn't, going on outside. And Jean was surely there, kneeling on the floor with his head in the toilet, much like Eren figured he himself had looked the night before. He shut the door behind him and collapsed against it, letting his frustration escape with a simple, "Ughhhh."

Jean, startled, had jolted and turned to look at Eren like he was insane. "Dude, I feel like shit . Also, where the fuck have you been? I looked for you for an hour before passing out for the night. I heard you and--"

"I don't even want to hear about what you heard about," Eren cut him off in a groan. "Whatever it is, it probably isn't true, and it'll probably just make me want to slit my throat."

Jean snorted at that, but it made a flash of terror go over his face, and then he was puking into the toilet again. Eren winced until he stopped, and after a few deep breaths, Jean continued, "Apparently… gimme a sec… someone spent the whole night upstairs with a certain drug dealer."

Eren could feel his teeth gritting before the frustration came pouring out of him. "More like, someone got a little too fucked up last night and a certain drug dealer ratted him out to his sister, and then they both proceeded to reveal their mastermind plan to go behind his back, and now he has lost his trust in everyone he knows. And none of it would have happened if they had just minded their goddamn business!"

Jean was staring at him now, blank look on his face, and said nothing. 

Rubbing his eyes in frustration, Eren grumbled, "I don't know what to do."

"Start from the beginning, and while you do that, I'll wash the puke out of my mouth."

So Eren relayed a recap of the night, from when he blacked out, to when he was discovered in the bathroom, to when Levi drug him upstairs. "He has this attic up there, it's his own little bedroom and he said it's where he stays when he's here. Meaning I slept in his bed, Jean. No, don't you look at me like that; let me have this moment. Because the rest of the story is completely downhill." 

"Okay, so you slept in his bed. Congrats," Jean said, though his face was twisted in confusion. "He just found you, babied you, and took you to his room for no reason? Why didn't he just kick your ass out?"

"I didn't know at the time. I was also too high to think about it. But when I woke up and he was there, he demanded I call Mikasa and talk to her. Apparently, and get this shit, they're cousins . And Mikasa, thinking she has to control my life, told him to avoid me. Not that it was difficult for him, I'm sure."

"And what was her excuse?"

"That it was for my own good, that Levi and everything related to him would be my character-development downfall," Eren pursed his lips. "It's not like I'm a grown adult, capable of making my own decisions or anything."

"I guess she's not wrong about Levi," Jean grumbled as they headed out the front door of the house. The man in question himself seemed to have disappeared; his car was gone, Jean had noted, and it was almost like he'd never been there at all. "But I don't see the point in taking it this far. Levi was never interested in you in the first place, was he?"

"Levi hasn't wanted fuck-all to do with me since day 1. Mikasa didn't have to intervene," Eren answered, albeit a little bitterly, as they made their way through the cold to the car. "He's an egoistic addict and I know next to nothing about him except that he owns a club, constructs a shady, back-lit business out of it. Who would want to deal with his moody ass anyway?"

"You," Jean said as he unlocked the car. 

Eren sat in the car with his arms crossed, brooding the entire way home. 

 

-

 

A scalding hot shower wouldn't fix all of Eren's issues, but he figured it would be a pretty good start. 

There was something sitting uncomfortably in his gut that he couldn't identify. So much of the morning and the night before had blurred together in his mind, giving him an unclear image to reflect on. He remembered his own emotions mostly but was trying desperately to fill in the gaps of his understanding. 

So Levi and Mikasa were cousins. Really, two people couldn't be more different. All of Mikasa's known family was, to her knowledge, dead; so what did this revelation mean? Did she have a branch of family living in the same area her entire life without her even knowing? Or did it mean that all of Levi's family, who Eren knew absolutely nothing about, was dead as well? 

When did Mikasa put this together, and when did she decide to intervene? Thinking back, Mikasa had heard of Levi around the same time Eren did; she was even present at the parties where Levi had made appearances. Was Levi acting on her call the entire time he and Eren had known each other? If so, why would he let things go as far as they did in the back room of the club, and why would he send Eren the invitation in the first place? 

Hot water streamed down the front of his chest, but Eren was lost in his thoughts. 

Scenes replayed in his head. The night Levi had refused him coke, dubbing him a shithead child from the very start and calling his bluff by offering him a line. Levi, who Eren knew did drugs as much as he sold them, but who had been entirely sober the night before when he was on babysitting duty. And then the night when Eren had infiltrated The Red Light District, flying by the seat of his pants, and somehow managing to find himself on Levi's lap; Levi had known Eren didn't work at the stupid club, and yet he let it happen. Snorting, Eren mentally laughed at the realization that, at this time, he still thought he was 100% straight. 

The shower was steaming hot on its own, but the embarrassment from that night turned Eren's cheeks hot pink. He'd stood confidently before Levi and all of the people at that table and proclaimed that he worked at the club, was sent by the owner, and owed Levi a paid-for private dance. All while Levi himself was, to Eren's later surprise, the owner of the club. It really doesn't get any better than that. 

Levi had implied that there would be more "private dances" between the two of them. He'd touched him, advised him on his next moves, very obviously aware the entire time that Eren had no clue what he was doing. But then Eren remembered the hip-roll he gave that elicited Levi's first response; a soft noise from the back of his throat and a slight shifting of his hips. 

And miraculously, just like he had been then, Eren was now hard. 

His hand attended to that matter without needing to be told to. Hot water still poured down from the shower, and Eren was insanely grateful to have a private bathroom in the dorm. His eyes fluttered closed but it was like he was transported back to that scene, and his vision was clear as could be. He could see Levi beneath him, hair slicked back from his face and crisp suit adorning his body. Jaw stiff in frustration, eyes momentarily shut in bodily response. He looked like a billion fucking dollars. 

Eren stroked himself to the memory of Levi's seemingly-considerably-sized package beneath his dress pants against his own crotch, clothed only by his thin underwear. He felt a small, breathy moan escape him when memory-Levi watched almost astonishedly at where Eren's dick was grinding against his own. And, instead of Levi's hands coming down to stop Eren's hips from moving just when he was finding his rhythm, he imagined that those hands were gripping his hip-bones and pushing Eren's hips more aggressively against his own. 

The thought of Levi taking control of the situation, grinding up and, with a firm grip on Eren's hips, forcing the friction to grow stronger and more unbearable had Eren tossing his head back in awe, mouth slightly open but eyes firmly closed. His hand sped up rapidly, and as he imagined Levi's hand snaking behind his neck to messily press their lips together, he climaxed, and the shame didn't even set in until a good five minutes afterward. 

Post shower, and having actually washed his body and his hair, Eren sat in his dorm with a towel around his shoulders, feeling a little relieved but just as confused as before. Eren remembered admitting that he had a crush on Levi after all, walking in on him and Erwin getting it on in one of the frat-house bedrooms, and Levi coming to him in the dead of night to ask a "favor". That night had been a frustrating one, to say the least; Eren had just come to terms with a rather life-changing realization, only to be hunted down by the very person he was avoiding. Not to mention Levi had been higher than a kite and was unapologetically blunt when approaching the subject of Eren's apparently-obvious crush on him. 

That night had quickly gone sour, with Levi directly accusing Eren of being childishly and hopelessly in love with him. After the events of last night and today, Eren wished he'd never recovered the address. He should've just let it stay deleted. 

Their next interaction had been the night Erwin showed up to the frat party with his girlfriend on his arm, and Levi had gone off the rocks with the xans and oxy. Eren had gotten wasted (and almost laid), had a little wintery confrontation with Levi, and Levi had thrown out his little jealous comment at Eren's praise of Erwin's character. 

Things ended badly between them that night. But still, Levi felt it was necessary to come to Eren's rescue last night. Would he have done that if Mikasa hadn't asked him to? It wasn't likely, Eren figured. And now that Eren had gone to the party and made his presence known, and would pledge Sina Sigma Kappa, which was the original goal all along. And yet he felt so defeated, like something was broken and he needed to fix it. Levi had outrightly called him ungrateful, expressing very clearly that he had gone out of his way to do more for Eren than Mikasa had requested. I mean, fuck. The guy took off his shoes and left him an aspirin. 

In retrospect, yes, Eren had probably reacted a little childishly to the situation. But it wasn't fair to him that decisions about his life were being made behind his back. No, nothing probably would've arisen between Levi and himself had Mikasa not intervened, but the possibility that something might have left Eren wanting to throw a full-fledged tantrum. And Levi, as much of a dick as he had been in the past weeks that Eren had known him, was still just as much of an alluring mystery in his mind as ever before. Their little back-and-forth couldn't just end like this; Eren didn't care if he was going to make a fool of himself. He was going to go to The Red Light District tonight.

Chapter Text

After talking himself out of it three times but convincing himself again a fourth time, Eren found himself standing in front of the full-length mirror that night, analyzing his outfit choice. He had no game plan, once again. He just hoped Levi would be there, that he could catch him, and that he could force himself to talk. What he was going to say, he had zero idea. 

He had to pull out all the stops, whatever he did. So he hunted down those black skinny jeans he never wore, stepped into the black chelsea boots he forgot he had, and managed to find a graphic tee that made its way into his last batch of laundry. His hair wasn't a controllable factor in the equation, so it remained the way it had dried. 

Jean, who had been out all day at a swim practice and subsequent trip to the gym (and Wendy's) came strolling into the room with a mouth full of fries. Pausing as he watched Eren straighten his belt, his eyes widened with realization and he proclaimed, "No!"

Eren startled, "What the fuck?"

"You're not going to the club to thirst over him, bro," Jean replied assuredly, Wendy's bag suddenly discarded onto Eren's desk. "Come onnnnnnn, have some self-respect!"

"I'm not thirsting over him," Eren bit, albeit one moment away from pouting. "I'm just… going to make an appearance. You know, be an adult about it."

"Be a smart adult and, like, don't."

"I can't just--" Eren started, exasperated, before he let out a huff and finally peeled his eyes away from the mirror to look firmly at the door. "It's like… I just have to know. I can't stop thinking about it. I have to know--"

"What would've happened?" Jean cut in, arms crossed over his chest, eyes burning holes into the side of Eren's face. "Nothing. Nothing would have happened because Levi Ackerman is a drug dealer and all he's good for is making you irrationally upset."

Eren said nothing. He went back to peering at himself in the mirror, jaw locked and resolve faltering. No, he wasn't expecting to walk into Red Light and have Levi fall at his feet. He would be lucky if Levi even spoke to him at all, seeing as he was pretty damn upset with Eren this morning. And while Eren wasn't really sorry for being mad, he did feel like Levi had taken extra measures to care for him. He just didn't understand why and intended to find out. 

Yes, part of him hoped Levi had some sort of soft spot for him, though Eren wasn't sure if it was even possible because Levi had a heart made of cold, cold steel. 

"Anyway," Eren said after a moment. "I'm going to Red Light tonight. You're free to join. I might invite Armin too."

Jean said nothing, only shutting the bathroom door behind him firmly. 

After Eren found his keys, fake ID, and wallet, he was headed for the door. Quickly, he shot Armin a text to meet him there, but Armin said he was staying in to work on a philosophy paper. So tonight he would be alone, it seemed, and that was fine. He didn't need anyone getting in his way right now. 

The drive to Red Light was a short one, but Eren knew he didn't plan on going in for the kill completely sober, so he called an Uber and was in the entrance line within fifteen minutes. Red Light was one of the more upscale, 21+ clubs, and therefore not located conveniently right outside of campus like the more college-age oriented clubs. Levi, although a reckless addict, was too upscale for that scene and a mature, burlesque-themed strip club fit his personality better than Eren had initially realized. 

Once inside, Eren didn't begin looking for the short man right off the bat. He was going to have to build up some courage, first. Levi always had the upper hand in the boldness department, whether it was intoxication or his characteristic bluntness that fueled it, and Eren wanted to turn the tables tonight. A shot of Bacardi for good spirits. A shot of vodka for bravery. And a shot of tequila just in case things go really well.

He didn't need to be wasted , he just needed to grow some balls. 

And after taking a moment to let it all settle in, Eren scanned the crowd of people that filled the club from wall to wall. The stage in the center had two dancers, both males, performing a synced choreographed routine on poles. Surrounding the stages were very excited fans and drunk patrons ready to throw their money. The dance floor with the DJ was on the other side of the room, and of course, everything was cast in a dim red light. On the outskirts of the room were plush white-and-red leather couches where people lounged and laughed and smoked, and at the bar where Eren stood, he blended in with the crowd of loners drinking the night away. 

Levi was likely in the VIP room, if he was anywhere here at all, Eren figured. After all, he owned the damn place. And Eren didn't have an elaborate scheme to get him in there this time, so he was just going to have to wait. 

Eren downed another shot and figured he'd make a quick run to the restroom before beginning his stake-out, beelining for that direction. As he weaved his way around people, about ten feet away, he saw the curtains that lead to the dancer's locker room move and a familiar hoodie exit. Eren stopped in his tracks and redirected, using his advantage of longer legs to reach Levi before Levi could get anywhere near the exit. 

Without a thought, Eren placed a hand on his arm, turning the man toward him just as Levi was turning to leave. 

An instinctively defensive expression came over Levi's face. He was wearing the exact same hoodie-and-Adidas-track-pants outfit he was wearing the night Eren met him, although that wasn't likely to be something Levi would have remembered. 

"Can I help you?" asked Levi, scowling as though Eren had just insulted his mother. He had a black backpack slung over one shoulder and his hood up like he was mid-exit. "What are you even doing here? You're 18."

"Where are you going?" Eren asked him instead, bypassing everything Levi had said. His hand remained on Levi's upper arm. 

"How is that any of your goddamn business?" was his aggravated response. Still, he hadn't ripped his arm out of Eren's grasp. Eren considered that a win. Steely grey eyes closed momentarily in frustration as the man let out a huff. "Do you mind, like, getting the fuck out?"

"Why were you in the back?" asked Eren now. That alcohol was like a barrier between Levi's digs and Eren's resolve, because he was feeling better than ever. And Levi was looking surprisingly adorable with his hood up around his face like a little bonnet or something. 

If Levi had a meter to detect his annoyance levels, though, Eren would be pushing that sucker higher and higher. "I was buying fucking bath salts off of one of my suppliers, if you must know. Now, if you don't mind, I have better shit to do than stand here and be interrogated by a 12-year-old," Levi finally made another move to leave, but Eren was feeling too confident. He held onto to Levi's arm, who jerked against it roughly. 

"Dance with me," Eren said more than asked. He began to move the two of them towards the open dance floor. He knew Levi was strong enough to resist, but the man seemed to be in such shock that he couldn't. Wide eyes stared at Eren like he was insane. "Come on. Ditch the backpack and dance with me."

Levi was entirely baffled. "There is over two grand worth of illegal drugs in this fucking backpack and you want me to drop it so I can dance with you?"

Eren couldn't help himself, the situation was just so funny. He let out a chuckle that turned into a laugh, continuing to guide them away from the wall. "Leave it behind the bar, they'll watch it. Come on, you know you want to."

"I definitely do not fucking want to."

"Well, you're not beating my ass to a pulp right now."

"Just because I don't want to make a scene."

"You have no obligation to Mikasa, you know."

"It isn't about that," Levi said firmly in response. This time, he stopped himself and planted them both squarely in their spots. It seemed that Eren had struck a chord. "Who the fuck do you think I am?"

Eren didn't care. He didn't want to talk about this right now. Seizing the moment, he stepped closer, placing a hand on the backpack strap. Now with his mouth close to Levi's ear, he murmured, "Just dance with me, Levi."

And just like that, for a reason Eren didn't yet understand, Levi allowed him to take the backpack and drop it behind the bar before leading the both of them out into the crowd where they would be ignored. Levi stayed silent this entire time, only closely watching Eren's movements as though he didn't trust his intentions. 

Surrounded now by people who couldn't care less about their existences, Eren was so giddy at the mere fact that he'd gotten this far. He put his hands on Levi's waist, and Levi allowed him to, expression frozen in a slight frown. His hands, however, rested atop Eren's arms, which was a start. The song playing was fast-paced and sort of dark, and Eren twisted and turned the two of them while keeping a (hopefully) steady rhythm as he rocked back and forth into Levi's body. 

Levi, on the other hand, remained lax and allowed himself to be moved but made no movements himself. When Eren's hips rolled into his, he didn't respond. After a moment he asked, "Why the fuck is this happening?"

Eren didn't know what to say, so he decided to be a smartass. With a goofy grin and a turn, he replied, "We're in a club and that's what people do."

Levi glared at him, but he took the hands that he had on Levi's hips and controlled their moment, rolling them in time with his own as the music progressed. They rocked back and forth, chest-to-chest now, faces mere inches apart. Eren could feel Levi's breath on his face when he asked, "What are you trying to leech out of me now? I don't have any fucking invitations or ammo against your sister."

Eren had one hand on Levi's upper back, the other on the very end of his lower back, wrapped around the man and with complete control of the movement of his body. He was able to grind their bodies together to the beat of the music, and Levi was practically forced to put his hands on Eren's chest. 

Except, no. He wasn't forced. He could have objected, but he didn't. So there.

"You're practically stalking me," Levi remarked, not having to talk over the music now that Eren was up in his face, alcohol on his breath. "Showing up to my house, my job."

"You don't live there," Eren answered with a grin. "And you don't even really work here. You just run things from the outside and your little... side hustle from inside."

This made Levi snort, the two of them casually grinding for the second time in their short time knowing each other. Levi began to respond finally, slowly moving his body in tandem to Eren's, not enthusiastically but complying nonetheless. "You think you've got me all figured out, don't you? You know maybe three things about me, but you think you know it all."

"What don't I know?" asked Eren, boldly allowing his thumb to slip below the hem of Levi's sweatshirt. He wondered how much Levi would allow him to get away with. 

"My middle name. Where I live. How old I am. Where I'm from, what I eat for breakfast, how many times a day I take a shit. You don't know anything," Levi answered. His face was unreadable now, and the song changed, but the two of them continued their movements. "You, on the other hand, drunk and horny and young and stupid. An open fucking book."

"You know as little about me as I know about you," Eren hummed. He took in the details of Levi's face, the sharp nose, small eyes, the round shape of his lips. His skin was flawless, though there were circles beneath his eyes. 

"I know you have a sister who would try to commit premeditated homicide if she knew my dick was as close to yours as it is right now."

"It isn't the first time. Did you tell her about that?"

"No. I decided I rather enjoy living."

"Funny," it was Eren's turn to snort. "Coming from a drug addict."

Levi tilted his head to the side, eyes narrowing. "A couple shots is all it takes to get you to start running your mouth."

"I don't understand something," Eren stated. His thumb continued to ghost over Levi's skin beneath the sweatshirt, and for once, something about the man was warm and inviting. Or at least the alcohol in Eren's system was. "Why bother with me at all? Giving me an invitation, showing up at my dorm, the night at the party with Erwin..."

"It was fun to watch you squirm," was the blank answer. Then, with a sigh, "Look, kid. I don't know what you've dreamt up in your head--"

This was becoming too much. Really, it was rather exhausting, and beating around the bush wasn't Eren's style. If anything seemed to work on Levi, it was directness. 

"You're attracted to me, right?" Eren asked, his lips just barely touching Levi's temple. 

"What? Who cares--"

"You're attracted to me. I may be young and dumb and whatever else, but I'm willing to bet you even find it endearing."

"You're insane."

"You think," Eren continued, slipping two more fingers to approach Levi's waistband. Levi's eyes flickered dangerously to meet his, a warning shot. "I'm an airhead. I'm probably too skinny for you, I talk too much, I'm far too young."

Levi gave a shrug. "All true."

"But you also think I have pretty eyes," Eren grinned. "That my crazy hair suits me. That I look good in these jeans and that you wouldn't mind taking them off of me."

Eren knew he was pushing it, now. But Levi shifted, pushing his hands slightly against Eren's chest, though simultaneously arching his own chest toward Eren. "You're even drunker than I fucking thought you were."

Eren paused for a beat, feeling the heat from Levi's body radiating onto his own. It was like heaven. He'd wanted to be this close to him for weeks; now he finally was, and Levi was letting it happen. This definitely wasn't the way to get over his crush. And finally, when Levi pulled slowly away from him, Eren felt the cold. 

"I don't know what you think you want. But you seem to be missing a few pieces to this puzzle, kid," Levi began. He was glaring directly at Eren, danger in his eyes. For the first time that night, Eren noticed the dilated pupils. He began to head toward the edge of the room again, away from the crowd and the noise, and like a helpless puppy, Eren followed. "If it's sex you want, fine. I'll tell you-- my services don't run cheap. If it's money, I can get your ass up on that stage tonight. And if you've gone through all this trouble for a little street cred, you're a fucking idiot and I can't fix stupid."

"What is it about him?" Eren blurted without thinking. They were by the wall again, only a few straggling people around them, and one or two heads turned at the volume of Eren's voice. Levi, who had been walking ahead, stopped in his tracks and stared.

"What?"

"Erwin," Eren continued. His eyebrows were knitted together, his hands in loose fists. "What is it about Erwin? That he's tall, quiet, capable? More mature, family has money?"

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Levi had his teeth gritted together and was hissing his words with a venomous bite. Stepping forward, he growled, "You don't know when to stop. When to keep your fucking mouth shut."

"It's fine. I know I'm nothing like him and I never will be," Eren simply replied. He didn't react to the shift in Levi's mood, something that sober-him wouldn't have had the resolve to do. "But at least call it like it is. You can't be with Erwin so you just treat everyone else like shit." 

"Hah!" Levi scoffed, bewildered, genuine amusement washing over his face and mixing with the anger already present. He shook his head for a moment, laughing in disbelief. "That piece of shit couldn't have me if everyone else on the fucking planet keeled over. You have no clue what you're talking about. Just shut the fuck up."

"So you don't want to be with him?" Eren asked, confusion setting in. At least he was getting some information out of him. The music changed again, and the people around them started heading for the dance floor. 

"No, you dense motherfucker. If you only knew… Erwin Smith is not who you think he is," Levi was saying, rambling slightly, almost as though talking more to himself. He wiped his nose across the back of his hand quickly before continuing, "The last time I took a chance on some ankle-biting kid like you, it resulted in my entire life turning to… to shit. And then you have the audacity to imply that I'm the one pining after that fucking lying maniac ."

Levi was entirely off the hinges, at least more-so than Eren had ever seen. He was pacing slightly back and forth, animating his speech with his hands, hair hanging in his face as he talked and made no direct eye contact. Eren stood, watching, without any clue how to respond to this situation. And then, as Levi wiped his nose again once more, it clicked. 

"You're high. Cocaine, right?"

Those steely grey eyes, almost entirely overcome by saucer-like black pupils, finally flashed to meet his own again. Levi answered, "How very astute you are."

Now, the weirdly compliant behavior all made sense. It was disappointing, really. Eren was intoxicated himself, but this meant that any previous vulnerability Levi had exhibited hadn't been voluntary. Levi wasn't sharing about his life because he trusted Eren. He hadn't soberly made the decision to let Eren hold him close. He was acting off of an altered state of mind. In Eren's opinion, their entire interaction was now deemed fabricated and moot. A deep, stable frown came over his face and a bitter, sour taste flooded his mouth. 

"This was a mistake," he heard himself say, voice low and almost ashamed. Then, he began walking to the door, pushing past Levi without another thought. 

Except, for once, Levi stopped him. A smaller, pale hand with a strong grip shot out to grab Eren's arm. Eren paused, glancing at his hand before looking over his shoulder at Levi, whose eyes were wide and eyebrows were furrowed in shock.

"You're leaving? You can't just fucking leave. You came here to find me, but you don't like what I have to say so you're just going to dip?" 

"That isn't the point, Levi," Eren bit now, wanting very much to scream and yell to get his point across. Holding everything in for weeks was taking a toll on him. "You're fucking doped nearly out of your mind. I wanted to apologize for this morning, to… to hear from you without the influence of my sister getting in the way. Well, instead of her, it's coke."

"You're drunk!" Levi proclaimed. He threw his hands out to the side in exasperation and Eren felt his heart ache for some reason. "What the fuck do you care how high I am? Why do you care about anything at all? Why the hell do you want to hear my sob story, Eren?"

Well, if they hadn't grabbed attention by then, they definitely had now. Several people were looking at them, and in a split decision after taking a nervous glance around, Eren took Levi by the arm and pulled him outside. Levi willingly went, or rather he was too inebriated to resist. 

Outside, the air was bitter and chilly. It wasn't snowing tonight but it was nearly cold enough to. The only lights illuminating them were those from the club's neon signs and the cars whizzing down the street. Levi and Eren stumbled outside, away from the entry line, beside the brick wall of the building. Levi, shaky, took out a cigarette and lit it. Eren took a breath in and steadied himself with a hand on the wall, feeling almost entirely sobered up now. It pained him more than he could even understand to see Levi like this, though he didn't know why. Staring now at the man he'd put on a pedestal stand shaking, tired, and pale only made Eren want to hold him, this time without all the dancing. 

They were silent for a good five minutes. Levi finished his cigarette and put it out against the brick before flicking it onto the concrete. Eren kept his back against the wall and blankly watched the cars go by. Then, Levi took a deep breath and folded his arms against his chest. 

"When Erwin was a freshman, I was only just starting to get into the whole drug scene. I was… 23? Right. Anyway. Erwin's-- Well, your frat quickly became my most prominent clientele. I hung around there a lot, and I didn't know any better. I was using more than I sold. Very quickly I had no place to live, no money, no family. I was... stupid and reckless and I needed someone mature and logical to help me get my shit together."

"Erwin Smith." 

"Erwin Smith," Levi confirmed almost somberly. He had an unreadable expression on him now, his eyes trained on the concrete sidewalk. "I lived with him. He had a room at the frat house and I crashed there for months. He got me some interviews and I began working again, but he made me quit the drugs. Of course, I did it all when he wasn't looking, and he'd find out, and we'd fight and scream and all of that. Shit was going downhill and in all honesty, I was just using him. He was using me too, and we never really had any feelings for each other."

"And then what happened?" Eren asked in one breath. 

Levi paused. Shook his head, sucked on his teeth. "You're so much like he was, and at the same time, you're somehow completely the opposite."

Eren didn't understand. He got the feeling that he wasn't supposed to, yet. 

"You need to go home. Get some sleep. And call your sister," Levi finished. He pushed himself off the wall, yawned, and stretched out his arms. "God knows she's been blowing up my phone."

"And you? What are you going to do?" Eren asked. Levi gave him a sidelong glance. "You're way too high to drive!"

Levi grinned, actually fully grinned, finding this funny for some reason Eren couldn't fathom. "Don't you worry your pretty head about me, Jaeger. I'm a big boy and I can take care of myself."

"Let me get you an Uber home, then."

This time, Levi actually chuckled, and it was a beautiful rumble. "But then you'd have my address, and where's the fun in that? I'm playing hard to get," He dismissed the thought with a coy wave of his hand. "Besides, you already have my number, remember?"

Eren had not, in fact, remembered.