Chapter 1: He's my husband
The OBNTS universe will always hold a special place in my heart. Thus, this happened.
There won't be much, if there are any, plot in this one, 'coz I don't think I can handle the pressure. Lol.
Yes, it will be multi-chapter, but I'm marking it "finished" 'coz I don't know when the next update might be.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Oh my fucking..." Eren trailed-off, not out of exasperation, but out of awe.
The view of the ocean from this vantage point was nothing short of breathtaking.
Levi, on the other hand, meticulously checked every nook and corner of the abode and was pleasantly surprised that whatever small lapses he has spotted were something that couldn't be fixed with some light dusting. By the time he found the cleaning supplies closet, he was in love. He was ready to marry that fucking mop right then and there.
The place was perfect.
Not once would they ever have thought that the last days of their honeymoon would double as house-hunting. It wasn't on their plans. Not on their itinerary.
But when Eren absently talked about needing to get a job soon and mentioned how most of the better choices were located in Sina (in fact, a friend of his already recommended him to a place), it spurred Levi to action. He's not usually the type to be impulsive. But there was no way in hell he'd settle with having to stay at Trost while Eren was miles, miles away somewhere in Sina.
Because it would be pretty damn ironic how they would have to be apart just when they were finally married to each other.
It took longer than they both anticipated – days, even – trying to consider every detail from location to space to layout to scenery to practicality (which, to the newlyweds' vocabulary, would mean viable sex wherever possible) to price, and everything in between. Of course, the people in the brunet's system also had a say in the decision-making. They weren't as fussy as the two (mostly Levi) though, and they really can't complain much when their "honeymoon" got extended.
"Holy shit, Levi! I think I may have just committed adultery." Eren exclaimed as soon as he saw the raven step into the bedroom where he had been standing the entire time, while said raven actually surveyed the entire house.
"Please don't tell me you sticked your dick in the tissue box." Levi deadpanned, uncaring how their conversation was currently making their house agent uncomfortable.
"Close, but no." The brunet merely shrugged. "I just eye-fucked the entire room." He added in a stage whisper.
Levi just looked at him blankly. He, himself, may as well have been humping the mop he found earlier, so Eren's confession doesn't really come close.
"I'm guessing you liked it?" The agent awkwardly cleared her throat and made her presence known once again.
"Yes. Very." The brunet eagerly confirmed with all smiles and cute bobbing of his head.
Levi didn't miss the slight tinting of her cheeks as the brunet beamed up at her.
"We're very much considering it." He butted in, diverting her attention.
And he also didn't miss how the hues darkened as she stared at him.
"Fine. Alright, Sasha. We're checking the kitchen." Eren suddenly sighed and stomped out of view, rendering the agent utterly confused in his wake.
"Shall we discuss prices, then?" Levi spoke up once again to prevent whatever wrong idea was currently building up in her head.
Talking about prices and payments effectively unhinged the brunet's jaw throughout the discussion. He knew such purchase was going to be worth a fortune, but actually seeing the exact figures was just unbelievable.
However, Levi's train of thought was stuck along the lines of, "at least Kenny's shit would be put to good use."
"We'll take it." He blurted out.
"Wait, what?" Eren piped up. "Levi, we're talking about a king's ransom here. Surely you've learned about that in business school." He pointed out.
As if the raven needed that reminder.
"Brat, I know what I'm talking about." Levi responded tightly. And when the younger attempted to open his mouth again, he beat him to it. "Don't worry much about the cost. I got it covered."
"What?! No, no. Oh no, no, no, no, no. If we're going to purchase something together, we might as well split it in half. It's rather unfair for you." Eren protested.
"Brat, you're still looking for a job." Levi pointed out. "If you really want to contribute in the financial department, you could do it after you had your own steady flow of income."
"That still doesn't make it fair!" The brunet waved his hands in the air.
"Would you rather pass up this opportunity and wait 'til someone else gets this offer?"
They continued bickering for a while longer. Eren feeling very much like a parasite from letting the raven handle most of the cost. He really didn't have much stashed up in his savings. And he thinks whatever he had would probably just scratch the surface of the price that was laid on the table. He already felt like he'd been leeching off the raven from constantly staying at his apartment since they started dating. Of course he wanted to stand in equal footing now that they were married.
But Levi was also adamant that he'd handle the costs for now. He kept making valid points to rebutt the younger's arguments and was only getting more convincing the more he talked. Of course the price would burn a hole in his pocket, but it wasn't like he hadn't been planning to have his own house ever since "inheriting" a portion of Kenny's fortune. It was just even more of a bonus that he'd be sharing it with his other half.
"Okay, fine, fine! You win." Eren finally conceded. "All of you are against me, and I'm developing a migraine from all this ruckus in my head. I'm just gonna go get some fresh air." He sighed and stood up and away from the scene.
Levi just regarded him for a moment, trying to see if he'd be fine, before turning his attention back after confirmation.
"That was quite the debate." The agent remarked with a fond smile, albeit a bit confused by the brunet's last words. "You two must be really close if you could fight like that and still be friends at the end of the day." She giggled.
The raven took a moment to just stare at her blankly.
"He's my husband." He responded just as stolid.
"Ohhhh..." The poor woman replied with an almost horrified expression. "I'm so sorry. I thought... I didn't... You two just didn't look like... I'm sorry, that was really stupid of me."
'It was.' would have been the raven's response had he not been too busy giving her the catatonic look of disbelief.
It wasn't the first time Levi had to point that out to people, mostly women, during the span of their honeymoon. There was that waitress, the hotel receptionist, that random dude who played beach volley with Eren once (which he, of course, just had to show-off afterwards), the group of girls who approached them one night, and that little boy whom he had the pleasure of educating that two guys can, indeed, love each other and get married (that's one less potential homophobe in his books). Why people think they weren't married to each other – or at least, dating, if being fresh out of the ceremony is any sort of leeway – is beyond him.
Wasn't it fucking obvious? Should he be waving their rings in front of their noses, or nail their marriage certificate on to their foreheads? Should he make out with the brunet as greeting to strangers? Because hey, that last idea doesn't sound so bad.
But long story short, that was how they got themselves their very own house located in Stohess, one of the suburbs in Sina.
Now to plan the moving.
Even though it was a heat of the moment decision to purchase their very own hearthstone, Levi didn't fail to consider that he'd have to ask for a workplace relocation as well. The house's location was within reasonable distance from the main branch of Survey Corps in Sina, and Eren's potential workplace (more closer to Eren's, really, but he's not complaining).
He's still quite uncertain that his request would get approved, but he'd sure as hell try, especially since his boss is practically his best man for the wedding.
"Well, this is... surprising." Erwin began, not unlike how he did when the raven first asked to take a leave from work. He once joked to himself that said raven might end up resigning from his job if he asked him to take a vacation. And even though Levi may not have submitted his resignation or him having to personally ask the other to take a leave, the situation was still eerily close to what he once thought.
For once, he was glad he was wrong.
"Are you saying 'no'?" Levi asked, tone seemingly impassive, though Erwin knew he was secretly as apprehensive as he was the first time they met.
Erwin just chuckled before giving his answer. "Actually, I'm granting you the permission to relocate. If anything, I'm glad I'll still be seeing you, albeit, at Sina."
"What?" The raven couldn't help asking dumbly.
"I've just been recently promoted and will be managing things from Sina. Mr. Keith Shadis had submitted his resignation and asked me to take over. I should be surprised you haven't heard the news yet. But I really am not." He smiled that fucking infuriating smile.
Levi's mind was reeling from this information. That explains why people have kept congratulating Erwin throughout the day. He really didn't think much of it since he had been away from work for quite a while, and hearing news of the blond's success is as common as seeing stars at night.
Said news was both a blessing – 'cause Erwin is still his boss – and a curse... 'cause Erwin is still his fucking boss.
"May I ask where in Sina you've found a place?"
"No, you may not." Levi instantly declined.
"Mike and I will be going back in the district of Orvud. You could come visit if you want." The blond continued, unperturbed.
He's not yet very much familiar with the twists and turns in Sina, but Levi could vaguely tell Orvud is at least a car ride away from Stohess. That's good.
"Though Hanji resides somewhere near Stohess. I'm just telling you ahead since we both know what could happen."
Well, what the fuck?
"You've got to be shitting me."
That was one detail Levi failed to consider all along. And with that reaction, Erwin knew where the raven's new love nest was generally located.
It took a couple of days before the couple finally settled in their new home. Though Eren had been ecstatic, it was mostly Reiner and Annie who helped in the packing and unpacking. Mikasa mostly took care of giving a new home to what very few stuffs they bothered to take.
When she was carrying a box – the box – towards their new bedroom, Levi noticed her stopping for a moment to check the contents. Of course, with the key always dangling by their neck, it was almost impossible to lose it.
Their journal and album have been progressively filled throughout the time, ever since Levi had given it to them. Safe to say, most of the pictures that filled it were mostly of the raven. Though Eren had added another content to fill the box. A picture frame with interlapping white and blue wings (in the same design as on the journal and the photo album) design on its top-right corner.
Levi couldn't help noticing Mikasa was looking at the frame with fond eyes, and a soft smile gracing her lips. He wasn't quite sure if that was due to Eren's influence, or just really her own emotions showing. He would like to think it was the latter.
After all, Mikasa was staring at their wedding photo.
With Levi's support and guidance, Eren and co. also managed to lessen the stress that comes with applying for a job. Though Eren already got a recommendation from a friend for a certain establishment, the brunet couldn't help his nerves getting the best of him. Thankfully, Jean and Reiner went to the rescue, and together, they managed to land a position.
Despite the small hiccups they encountered along the way, things were going well for the two. Despite having to go away from the proximity of friends slash family, they were loving their new home more and more each day.
Well, how could they not, really, when every corner and surface they could find was very much sex-feasible?
It was to the others' (in the system) adversity since they would always have to be suspicious about every single thing they were about to touch around the house.
When Levi woke up one day, the brunet was already up and about. He went through the, now, familiar motion of prepping himself for work. There have been rare cases where Eren would resort to nagging at him to get up at times when he was treading dangerously close to being late. The brunet was surprisingly an early bird, courtesy to the other people in the system who were as such. In his defense though, it was the brunet's fucking libido that kept him burned-out (yet sated) at the end of the day.
It didn't take long for him to realize that it was Mikasa who was currently out and making breakfast with Sasha's help. The system has been working hard on improving their communication, and was gradually reaping the results. Somehow, they could kind of control who gets to switch out and when. It does help tremendously to let Annie out in the morning to help the body get some exercise (which, sometimes, she'll argue that the body had been getting more than enough exercise with all the physical exertions the couple does), followed by Sasha who'll cook and make them lunchboxes, and Eren would have to be out for work. That doesn't mean that Mikasa and the others don't get their own times out since downtimes after or outside of work would be spared for them, if they want it.
Also, with the fact that it was Mikasa who was currently out, that also doesn't mean that the planned routine works all the time.
Levi had also inquired about the possibilities of switching during working hours, which does happen. But as Jean had answered, it wasn't like that they had no idea what to do, anyways. Besides, they did went to school as a system. Of course he had to mention it would, arguably, have to be Eren fronting during working hours that the raven have to worry about.
"Good to see you're up. I was prepared to pour this kettle on you. Tea in bed and all." Mikasa spoke up, teapot in hand, when she turned around to find the raven already fresh and dressed.
"Well, it's such a shame, isn't it?" Levi shot back, sitting down in his place at the table.
They ate breakfast in relative silence. As always whenever they were together, really. Levi goes to work earlier than the brunet does (with his destination farther than Eren's), yet he always picks up his husband on his way back home. Depending on the situation and who was fronting, sometimes, they would end up stopping by some other place or just driving around the city before going back home.
"I'll be heading out now." Levi bade as he put on his shoes by the doorway.
"Your lunch." Mikasa reminded and handed him the lunchbox she co-prepared with Sasha. When she noticed the raven's tie was slightly off, she also took care of that without saying a word.
"Thanks." Levi said before pulling her down to plant a kiss on her forehead. "I'm off."
Had it been Eren who was out, it would have been a peck on the lips. But when it comes to the girls, it was either the forehead or the cheek. And when it comes to the guys, well... a simple wave would suffice.
By the time Levi was picking up his husband on his way back, the brunet wasn't where he usually would be waiting for him. The brunet would usually already be waiting for him at the waiting area just outside the building where he works.
"Sori. Had 2 take care of sumthing real quick. Be out n a bit. W8 4 me pls <3 -E"
As if he had a choice.
Waiting in the car wasn't exactly ideal for him, so Levi parked directly outside of Eren's building (after making sure it was allowed) and got out, leaned back on the car with crossed arms, and waited.
It took some moments, so he fished out his phone for entertainment, as well as checking for any updates on the man-brat. And when the brunet finally stepped outside, the raven couldn't help his brows meeting at the sight of a very familiar mahogany hair walking beside his husband. Actually, there were two people currently chatting with the younger, the guy and a girl with short, cherry brown hair. But he could hardly give two shits about the latter.
Just by looking from a distance, Levi could tell it was Eren who was out (unless Sasha was was putting on her masked performance), and it was Eren who was currently immersed in whatever interesting topic they were on, if his animated movements was anything to go by.
In fact, he was so engrossed that he didn't even realize his husband was just a few meters in front of him. Though it seemed like that lady did.
The girl with cherry brown hair, Nifa, was the first to notice the raven staring intently at their direction. She didn't think much of it first, but when his eyes never wavered and she could somehow trace it to the guys beside her, especially Eren, she had a bad feeling about it.
She was just one of the very few people the brunet entrusted with the information of his condition. Actually, she and Hanji have been friends in college so she could sympathize with people who have quite some interesting conditions that society does not easily open up to. Another one was Floch whom the brunet was currently interacting with.
The way the raven was staring at the brunet made her think that perhaps Eren had done something to the man (which may be beyond his knowledge), and thus, took initiative of defending or apologizing in the brunet's place. She may not exactly know the difficulties Eren had faced, and keep facing in his life, but at the very least she wanted to help lessen whatever load he may carry. Even if they've only known each other for a couple of months, she does like the brunet and was actually grateful they were friends.
She approached the man with alacrity, and he didn't even bother sparing her some attention until she spoke up.
"Excuse me, sir." She started politely. "My name's Nifa, and I work here. I noticed you've been waiting here for a while now. Is there something you may need help with?"
"I'm here for Eren." was his terse response.
The way he said it only made her believe that her hunch was correct.
"I'm sorry, but may I ask... did Eren do something?" She decided to ask tentatively.
"He's my husband." He answered flatly.
"Haha. That's very funny, sir." She couldn't help letting out an awkward laugh. Barely two minutes into the conversation, and she already couldn't understand this man's sense of humor.
But when the raven kept his silence and redirected his gaze on her, she started to have second thoughts.
"Leeeviii!" Eren's voice broke through the budding tension between them.
In a flash, the brunet had launched himself on to the shorter man, and gave him a kiss on the lips without any trace of hesitation.
"I didn't notice you were waiting here. I thought you'd stay by the waiting area." He continued enthusiastically. Where he gets all that energy even after work was beyond Levi.
"You're welcome." was the only response he could bring to spare.
"Oh, and I see you've met Nifa." Eren flashed the girl a grin, still clinging unto the raven.
"I... uhhh... so you weren't..." She couldn't even finish her thought, too busy battling with the onslaught of shock at what just happened.
"Is something wrong?" The brunet couldn't help asking.
"Oh, gosh. I'm so sorry. I thought... I thought you were just kidding when you said you were his husband." She finally managed to utter out, completely flustered with her mistake.
Eren just laughed, realizing the situation. "If you thought Levi here was a mafia boss who's out for my head, then you wouldn't be the first one." He jested. "Lucky for me, Levi's only a grumpy kitten who's held my heart hostage." He nuzzled the side of the shorter's head.
"You should be embarrassed by the shits you say out loud." Levi grumbled. He was feeling secondhand embarrassment by the cheesy lines the younger just spouted.
He really shouldn't complain much since Eren kept making him feel that they were still freshly married. But expressing it shamelessly in front of other people was another matter.
"Ah, Levi. Long time no see. I'm not even sure if you remember me." The other guy finally approached them.
"Floch." The raven acknowledged briefly.
They continued chatting for another couple of minutes before Levi and Eren finally excused themselves to go home.
"Let me guess, that friend you said who recommended you to the job... that was Floch, wasn't it?" Levi initiated on the drive back.
"Yep. And if you were wondering why he wasn't at the wedding, that was because he was already out in Sina applying for a job."
'Well, it could be that... or it could be for a wholly different reason.'
Not that Levi really cared about his attendance. Whether he had been present or not was a thought unworthy of being fret over. In the end, the fact that Eren is his husband was something he could write on his ass and parade it all around that guy's line of sight. Just in case he still hasn't taken the hint.
"Oh my gosh, that was really embarrassing!" Nifa squeaked out the moment the car went in motion.
"Why? What happened?" Floch asked curiously.
"I just... I thought that guy didn't mean it when he said Eren was his husband. I mean... no offense, but it just didn't look like it at first. I would have thought that Eren's husband was more of the... well, more like him, I guess." She tried to explain. "But then again, I guess that just proves that opposites do attract."
"Unfortunately." Floch may have responded a bit glumly.
Like I said, just Levi and Eren and co. shenanigans.
Anyone who thought of episode 1 - season 3 during the Levi and Nifa interaction, you got it.
Chapter 2: Guess who? (pt. 1)
First off, I wasn't aware Ao3 had made some changes with regards to writing the text of the story. I'm not even sure which one I prefer more.
But anyway, this was supposed to be a whole chapter, but it got out of hand. So I decided to post it into two parts. (Mostly because I've yet to finish the other half and am looking for motivation to do so).
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"I've figured out a way to settle this." Eren started somberly, fixing everyone with a serious gaze. He was sitting on his bunk in their headquarters, hands clasped together where his chin rested, his elbows planted on his knees.
"Can you skip the dramatics and just tell us already? It's hard enough to maintain this concentration for all of us to be gathered here together. Especially not with your brain." Jean groaned in complaint, leaning back with crossed arms on the bunk where Annie and Sasha made themselves comfortable, opposite to where Eren's is located with Mikasa and Reiner at his sides.
Eren was about to tell him off somewhere on the lines of neighing horses being the ones that makes things difficult to focus when Reiner graciously intercepted the argument before it even began.
"Not that I intend to take sides, but I kind of agree with Jean here." He started, and immediately followed it up with his reason of doing so, partly scared Eren would take it the wrong way and mean it to refer to his brain capability. "I mean, since we're all gathered here, I'm not sure who's exactly out right now. Though I am betting it could either be a combination of a couple of us, or a giant blob of all of us."
"Or it might just be one of us who's staring blankly at one spot as we're speaking." Annie suggested.
"If the body's looking stupid as it does that, no doubt it's Eren." Jean smirked.
"Have you ever seen yourself in the mirror, horse-face? Or have you ever only looked at your reflection in the pond where you graze at?" Eren shot back.
"Guys, please. We don't want to have that flash of migraine now, do we?" Sasha whined, clutching the sides of her head as if that would prevent it from happening.
"Thank you, Sasha." Reiner sighed, glad somebody was taking his side.
They were currently having a headspace conversation in a rare occurrence where everyone of them was present. The last time they attempted it, it was nothing more than to simply try and see if it could be possible for their system. And it was, though not for long as when Eren and Jean's bickering got out of hand, everyone else acquired a headache from it.
But right now, they were all gathered for a very important reason. One that involves around who gets to decide where their next week-long vacation to celebrate their anniversary would be.
That's right, the Ackerman-Jaeger's third wedding anniversary was approaching. How time flies, really. It still seems like they have just been married three years ago. (When Eren cracked this joke to his husband, Levi just looked at him blankly. "Blankly" as in contemplating on what compelled him to marry this idiot in the first place).
They haven't really done much on their first, seeing as they were still recovering from the financials of purchasing their new home. But Eren was more than content with the simple candlelit dinner they shared in their abode, amplified by the wild sex they had afterwards.
The second one they spent in Disneyland. Levi really wasn't as enthusiastic about it at first, but the insane rides lifted his mood up considerably. The cheesy, overly-used kiss under the fireworks wasn't bad either. And of course, Eren had another kind of ride before the night ended.
And now for their third, Eren was now generously letting his alters decide where they were going to spend it. Even though it was technically him and Levi who was married, he knew his alters also deserved their own vacation. Something that had been a bit difficult to achieve from focusing on their job.
Levi had no qualms about that, understanding the fact that their anniversary was a justifiable reason to ask for a leave of vacation. Erwin might have been more than glad to shoo him away from spending everyday at his desk, anniversary or not, but Eren was adamant on being the best employee he could be. Something that concerns with making up for his mental health issues, which Levi then and there refuted and demanded to give him the names of whoever it was that was ignorantly using such reasons against him.
Other than that, Levi also couldn't help finding it ironic how the brunet used to berate him from overexerting himself on doing his job, but is now treading into that same habit himself. Granted, he may not be overdoing it as he did, but the fact that he was so invested in his work might lead him to do just that if left unchecked. He could sense Eren has the same insecurities as he did with regards to keeping a job, after all. And he's not going to let that happen.
Which is also why he let the brunet decide where they were going to spend their yearly honeymoon. It really doesn't matter much to him as long as Eren is happy. And since his husband had told him he was letting his alters have this vacation for themselves too, Levi had no objection as long as they'd get to have sex before the conclusion. More than once would be preferable.
So, everything was smoothed over between the husbands. But the same could not be said between the alters.
Apparently, they had different opinions on what constitutes as a vacation that they would thoroughly enjoy themselves. Different ideas with different places they wouldn't be able to fit going to in a span of a week. Or even if that was possible, they wouldn't be able to savor it thoroughly if they were to hop from one place to another.
So, in order to resolve this, Eren had so carefully, strategically thought of a way on how he'll decide which opinion to follow.
"We've been a system for more than half my life now." He started, sitting up straight to better gauge the others' reactions. "And I assume that's more than enough time for you to practice being in my shoes. Literally."
"What the hell are you implying?" Jean narrowed his eyes. He has a feeling he's not going to like what the brunet was about to say. Then again, that's hardly unusual.
"Are you saying we pretend to be you?" Mikasa asked with confusion. That was something they had been doing for the majority of their existence, so it was weird that Eren was asking them of that now.
"Yes, but it's not as simple as that." Eren grinned mischievously. "I want you to make Levi believe you were me without him recognizing one of you has taken my place. If you get to front for an entire day without him noticing anything, then you win. Of course, it has to be on a weekend where we get to be with Levi all day."
They were silent at that proposal, thinking to themselves if that was even possible. It's Levi they were talking about here and that guy seems to be able to look inside their head to determine who exactly it was that was conversing with him. Granted, they haven't really tried after the raven became aware about their condition – hell, they didn't even really give it their best shot even before meeting him, which then left Eren to deal with the confusion of the shit other people gave him – but they really couldn't help but wonder if duping Levi like that could even be done. That would be an insanely difficult feat to achieve. Perhaps which is why Eren so generously proposed it.
"What if we switch out mid-day or something?" Mikasa pointed out.
Eren took his time to mull over that possibilty. "I suggest we should just stay at home then where we feel utmost security, and avoid anything that could possibly trigger someone else out. But since chances of that happening are relatively high, then maybe I'll shorten the required time to over 12 hours or something. It's important that Levi thinks he's with me before he goes to sleep at night."
"What if Levi uses the triggers?" Annie added in.
"Well, if he'll do it on purpose, then wouldn't that mean he already knows it's not me who's fronting? Besides, he's hardly done that to us." He shrugged.
"And if none of us could fool him?" Sasha asked, knowing that even though she was considered to be the best Eren impersonator, Levi still called her out every single time.
"Then I guess I'll just have to decide for all of us." Eren shrugged again, grin still plastered on his face.
"You little shit. Of course you'll propose it since you damn well knew that's going to be impossible." Jean groused once again.
"Technically, it's supposed to be mine and Levi's wedding anniversary, but here I am, graciously offering the planned vacation to you." Eren glared at his direction. "And with that in mind, I think it's only fair if the challenge I give you also revolves around your abilities to take my place on a day, or a week, that I should be spending with my husband."
Again, silence took over them. Eren may seem like an idiot, but he could get very creative with his ideas if he really wanted to.
If he really wanted to piss someone off, especially. And it's currently working wonders for Jean.
"He has a point." Reiner sighed after giving it a thought.
"Are you really accepting that reason? 'Coz I still think it's just a waste of time since he'd still get to decide things in the end." Jean scoffed.
"Of course, we could already cross out Jean's chances of pulling it off. Basically, this is a contest between just the four of you." Eren continued, smirking smugly.
Jean's brow twitched at that. "Listen here, you fucking bastard..."
"Oi, brat. You okay?" Levi gently put an arm on the brunet's shoulder after said brunet had buried his head on his arms at the table they were sitting at.
He had noticed his husband staring off blankly into space for a while now and decided to just let him be, having pretty much gotten used to it by now. He was perfectly fine waiting until the brunet snapped out of it, but seeing him looking like his brain was being hammered was another thing.
It took a moment, but the brunet soon hummed in response that Levi had to wonder if it was even directed to him at all.
"Head. Arguing. Again." The brunet mumbled the broken words out, not lifting his head up.
Levi couldn't tell who it was that was speaking, but he could damn well determine who might be arguing inside his head again. He just had to wonder what it's about this time.
Annie stared at herself (or Eren for that matter) in the mirror, taking in deep breaths as she closed her eyes. She had purposely feigned slumber and let the raven get out of bed first to mentally prepare herself for the day. She was going to do this.
She never really felt compelled to act exactly like Eren before, deeming it to be unnecessary and awkward. As long as she just kept her distance and her silence, then she wouldn't have to worry much about entertaining other people with an energy that was on par with their host.
And now that she was compelled to do just that... it had to be with the most difficult person to convince.
She really was tempted to just fuck it and accept defeat, but with the prospect of an actual vacation in the outside world, she figured she could at least try her luck.
It was quite daring to attempt it at the start of the day, though, since Eren said it was important that Levi goes to bed at night without any suspicions. But in her opinion, it'd be easier if Levi thought he was with Eren first thing in the morning, and it would also give her a kickstart to be in-character if her mentality was set on to it as the day started.
She took in another deep breath as her hand landed on the doorknob. And another one before she turned to open it. She could tell Levi was in the kitchen from all the noises he was making.
"Morning, babe." She greeted huskily, wrapping her arms from behind. Somehow, that felt way more cringey than she thought it would, and if Levi would ask about anything unusual, she could write it off to having just woken up.
Levi stiffened for a second, probably out of surprise, before turning around. Just as she feared, he took his time just looking at her, scrutinizing her features for something.
Annie tucked a loose strand of hair to the back of her ear, glad she hadn't bothered to fix their bed hair as it gave her hands something to do. She made sure to remember to specifically use her right hand all the time.
"What?" She asked, smiling sheepishly like she knew Eren would when the raven continued to keep silent.
"What're you doing, Annie?"
She could've just stopped there and then, knowing if she kept this up, she'll just embarrass herself to the grave. But for some reason, she felt like she couldn't give up just like that, and was glad she processed all these thoughts within a second.
"What're you talking about? I've just woken up to romantically greet you like how a husband should, and you're thinking about Annie?" She huffed indignantly, pouting with her arms crossed.
Damn, why did Eren have to be such a brat?
Levi stared at her blankly for another moment, but made no comment to address that. Instead, he just moved on like nothing was wrong.
"We're having bacon and eggs for breakfast. I'd appreciate it if you could help prepare the table while I brew our drinks up."
"Okay. Thanks, love!" She bounced happily and stepping on to the task.
Damn, not even 10 minutes in, and she was already drained from trying to match their host's enthusiasm. Not only that, all these pet names are internally difficult to spit out, but she knew she had to say them knowing Eren had a habit of doing so, especially in early mornings when he was still feeling fuzzy in every way she was not.
And as if to put her out of her misery, Levi suddenly called her attention.
"Catch." was all the warning she got before the raven hurled an apple in her direction.
Annie was quick to react, and she found the apple on her hand before she even knew she caught it. Her left hand.
"So again, what're you doing, Annie?" Levi repeated, an amused smile curling his lips.
At this, Annie frowned, knowing she was fighting an already lost battle. "How the hell did you know?" She decided to ask.
"Well, for one, Eren's hugs are different. Yours, obviously, has more strength in it. And Eren doesn't really have a habit of tucking his hair away, especially in the early mornings even though he's practically eating it." The raven pointed out, going back to finish brewing their beverages.
Annie just sighed and sat defeated at the table, waiting for the raven to finish up so they could eat and she could just sleep the day off.
"What's with the sudden interest in impersonating Eren?" Levi asked as he settled the steaming mug of hot cocoa in front of her and carried his to his own place.
Annie didn't bother with an answer and just shoveled up food in her mouth. She already feels downright embarrassed by her attempt and she didn't want to talk to him to make it worse.
"Are you gonna keep the pet names? 'Coz I sure enjoyed hearing them from you." Levi smirked before taking a sip of his own drink.
"Fuck you." She muttered out, having half a mind to throw the apple back on that smug face of his.
It wasn't long after that when Annie decided to go in hiding, and Reiner thought it was a good time to make his attempt. After all, Levi wouldn't think he was getting duped twice in a row, right? Surely he would be expecting Eren to front now.
After showering, he was no longer surprised to find the raven already starting up with the chores. He felt the urge to utter a, "Hey, Levi" or something, but figured at the last second that that would be weird since that would also mean he was greeting Levi again when Annie already did earlier.
Then again, he supposed that should be normal since the raven already called out Annie earlier, and that he was supposed to be pretending Eren had come out for real this time. Only, Eren would do it in a much more... expressive way that might involve hugs and kisses.
"Hi, love!" He beamed and went in to try and hug the raven when he was stopped by said raven holding a hand up.
"Just a sec." Levi muttered out without even sparing him a glance, before bending over to vacuum under the coffee table.
But after doing that, he turned off the vacuum and turned around to face him with an expression Reiner could only describe as confusion. So, without dwelling too much about it and giving the raven time to think and observe him too much, he decided to go in and hug the man in a way he knew Eren would.
"Can I help you? I'm bored being on my own and I want you to finish soon so we could cuddle." He whined.
Holy shit! Reiner can't believe he actually said that. Pretending to be Eren shouldn't be this hard, but it's a whole lot of another story when it comes to the husband. Hell, he's already dreading the "cuddle time" he proposed himself.
He kept clinging on to the shorter man so he could avoid looking at him directly in the eyes in that creepily fascinating way he does to determine who was currently out.
"How about you finish up here and I'll go start with the garage?" Levi finally proposed after a while.
"Okay! And then we'll cuddle, right?" He beamed again, smiling widely it was splitting his face. He's probably overdoing it, but Eren could be overly enthusiastic when he's promised with something he loves.
"Yes." The raven responded after a second's hesitation.
"Yes!" Reiner cheered before setting on to do his assigned task, taking the vacuum away from the older man.
Levi didn't immediately move away from his spot though, and Reiner could feel his eyes burning at the back of his skull. So before it could unnerve him further and break him out of character, he decided to shoo the raven away to do his own chores.
"Come on, Levi. Stop slacking around so we could finish this as soon as possible." He pouted, planting a hand on his hip with his other one still holding the vacuum.
Levi took another second to look at him before muttering out a, "Right" and going on his merry way, finally giving Reiner the chance to sigh out in relief. So far, Levi seemed suspicious but he hadn't called him out so he figured that was a good sign.
After finishing his job and even double-checking to make sure it was at least on par with Eren's, Reiner steeled himself to follow the raven in the garage knowing it would make sense that Eren would do it considering his clingy nature. When he arrived, Levi was busy rearranging heavy-looking boxes and dusting shelves, and just looking at him, Reiner felt the urge to offer assistance.
"Do you need help?" He asked tentatively. Surely, Eren would always offer to help his husband in this situation.
"I'm fine. These boxes are as heavy as they look. I don't want you burning yourself out and whining to me afterwards." Levi declined, not once pausing from his work.
"I could do the dusting then?" Reiner tried again. At this point, Eren wouldn't really push things, especially when it comes to cleaning. But Reiner's instincts are just screaming at him to help.
"I'm pretty sure that's one thing you despise doing." The raven continued nonchalantly.
Does Eren despise dust? Damn, why doesn't he know about that himself? He never really bothered to ask such mundane things like that since cleaning hasn't really been instilled in the brunet before they started dating years ago.
So, what is Reiner supposed to do now? Just watch the raven do all the work? Eren might be able to do that since he'll just use the opportunity to gawk at his husband uninterrupted. Besides, Levi telling him that he could skip doing a particular chore is practically bliss for the brunet. But for Reiner, standing still and not helping someone who clearly needs help is torture.
Not only that, but Levi seems to be throwing curious glances his way as he does his task. He really didn't think much about it at first. Maybe Levi was just checking if they were still there standing stupidly at the doorway. But when the raven shot him another look while he heaved a particularly heavy-looking box Reiner definitely knew would be difficult to do alone, he couldn't stay still anymore and went over to help him carry it to where he intended it to.
"Oh, I'm actually just putting it down here." Levi said as he set the box down on the floor together with the younger. "Just wanted to see how much you're willing to stand by and do nothing, Reiner." He smirked deviously.
Reiner groaned, dry washing his face with his palms. "How'd you know it was me?"
"First off, nothing would stop Eren from assaulting me with his hugs. Not even me. So when you stopped at that simple gesture, I immediately knew you weren't Eren. Also, Eren would've pestered me to cuddle first over offering to help with the chores. And only you would take over an equipment from me. The others would've gotten their own and started with something else, leaving me to finish what I started." He explained, all the while dusting the shelves like how he was supposed to.
"How do you know all of these?" Reiner couldn't help furrowing his brows. Seriously, the raven should've been a detective with these skills instead of a businessman.
"After... what? Six years of being together and almost three years of being married, it would be a shame for me if I didn't." Levi blurted out, then immediately followed it up with, "Now put these boxes back where they belong." and moving over to the next chore.
Reiner knew he was just covering up his embarrassment for that statement by suddenly bossing him around. Nonetheless, he was pleasantly touched that Levi was still trying to be a good husband when Eren already found him to be the best.
Then again, he just had to wonder: is duping the husband really possible?
Well, do you think it's possible to dupe the husband? Who do you think could do it?
Chapter 3: Guess who? (pt. 2)
Have you already placed your bets on an alter? Let's find out who managed to win the seemingly impossible game.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After much deliberation, Mikasa finally decided to give it her shot at this game. Surely, being the longest alter who has been with Eren (now that Ymir's integrated, of course), she should know Eren best, including all his subtle perks and nuances.
And she does, but trying to imitate it is a completely different matter. It's like when you're watching people dancing; you could learn the moves by heart, but you could never quite execute it in the exact same way they could. You think what they're doing is so easy, but you end up looking like a convulsing penguin when you do it yourself.
Nonetheless, there's really nothing to it if she'll give it a try. Even Annie had attempted to do it, so why shouldn't she?
Making up her mind, she assessed their current situation to determine how she's going to execute her act. Levi was currently occupied with his laptop on the couch, his glasses sitting snugly on the bridge of his nose, eyes focused on whatever it was he was working on.
How long had he been like this? If Mikasa only knew, she would've went with the typical nagging Eren act. But that only happens when Levi's clearly burning himself out again. And so far, he seems relatively fine.
Which means... she'll have to go with the typical clingy Eren act. The hardest one, too.
Deep breaths. Here it goes...
"Leeeviiii." She whined, diving on the couch and hugging the raven's middle immediately.
"What?" He didn't even spare her a glance, though his hand instinctively moved to stroke her head, which was rather soothing.
"I'm tired. My head hurts." She mumbled through the fabric of his shirt. Something that isn't completely a lie. Doing this act requires serious mental and physical strain.
"What have you been doing?" The raven continued nonchalantly.
"Work." Mikasa lied easily.
The raven just hummed, but didn't say anything else. Mikasa started to wonder if this is the part where she should whine until she gets his attention. But thinking about it, once she does get his attention, the extremely difficult part begins.
So, she decided to take another approach. Surely Levi wouldn't notice anything unusual if she just stay like that for a few minutes. Of course, she also made sure to squirm every now and then. Details and all.
And that seemed to do the trick. After a while, she heard Levi sigh and closed his laptop. "Brat, what do you want?" He took off his glasses to rub at his eyes.
Mikasa's brain worked double-time to determine what exactly would Eren ask in this situation. The most obvious choice would be to hog all of Levi's time. But she didn't want to give the raven ample time to observe her and raise suspicions. This is an endurance test, after all.
"Ice cream." She blurted out, raising her head to beam up at the raven like how Eren would do.
Again, Levi sighed. "Fine. Double chocolate or whatever, right?" He rolled his eyes before sparing the brunet a quick look of feigned botheration.
And then doing a double-take.
Mikasa scrambled her brain for something, anything, to wipe that look off the raven's face. But before she could come up with even a single letter...
"Or would you prefer Matcha?" He added afterwards.
Mikasa's heart dropped, but fuck it all if she let it show on her face. "Of course, chocolate. Only you and Mikasa like that green thing." She scoffed, sitting up straight and crossing her arms.
"Right." Levi responded after a beat. "Exactly." He added under his breath.
She clearly heard that last part, but decided to pretend she missed it. "I'm sorry?"
Levi seemed to mull over his next words and Mikasa dreaded if he was gonna call her out already. She could deny it all she wants though, and she hasn't even really done anything that could truly expose her. Then again, she just had to wonder what prompted Levi to be suspicious. She could've sworn she had him when Levi listed off Eren's preference for ice creams, but all it took was one look and it's like he knew she wasn't Eren.
"I'm just thinking maybe you should go buy it yourself. After all, you're gonna need the exercise if you're going to consume that much calories. Don't tell me you're gonna let Annie take that burden again?" The raven finally spoke out. "And by the way, you look like shit so might as well fix yourself up before you scare people outside. It's too early for Halloween." He added before turning away and opening his laptop again.
Contrary to popular belief, Mikasa may seem like a generally calm person, but she actually shares Eren's short fuse. Unlike Eren though, she doesn't lash out and is rather passive-agressive. However, in accordance to popular belief, she is very, very protective with Eren. One wrong word about him and you'd successfully tick her off.
Or in this case, congratulations to the one and only Levi Ackerman-Jaeger.
"Excuse me? I'm your fucking husband." She seethed.
"I know that, and I love you. Which is why I can't lie about that."
The effort it takes not to scowl too hard – or better yet, slam that smug face of his on the table – is real.
"If you're such a good husband, you're supposed to be saying I'm always good-looking in your eyes despite my state of appearance." She tried again.
"I didn't marry you because you're the prettiest person in all the planet." He rolled his eyes again. "And I certainly didn't marry you because one of your alters has the tendency to scare all the other bachelors out there. You know, the one who glared too much she could keep even the rodents out of the house for good." He smirked.
Mikasa couldn't help her jaw unhinging at that remark. "How dare you!" She raised her hand, fully intending to at least get a slap in on that mug of his.
But Levi swiftly caught the offending limb and expertly maneuvered her around so she was trapped in his arms. She squirmed and writhed, but whether it was Eren's strength or her own, it wasn't enough to overpower the raven's.
"I was just messing with you." Levi spoke up again after Mikasa finally accepted that fighting back was useless.
"Fuck you." She muttered out.
The raven let out an amused snort before planting a kiss on the top of her head. "So, you want Matcha, right?"
Mikasa kept mum, still restrained by strong arms and thumbs caressing the skin they could reach. By now, it was pretty evident she blew it off, so might as well accept defeat.
"Yes." She mumbled out, yet refused to budge when the raven made a move to stand up.
Later that day, Levi just had to wonder why these brats are even doing this.
There was Mikasa, calmly watching TV on the couch beside him, a bored expression on her face.
Or more accurately, there was painfully subpar Mikasa. 'Coz Eren's doing a shit job at it.
"Why do you keep fidgeting?" Levi decided to ask, already hinting that he's aware of who he's really with. Yet also already knowing the hint would go over the brunet's head.
"This couch is uncomfortable." He answered monotonously.
"And you say that after years of having your ass pressed on the same exact cushions your sitting on."
"I'm kind enough not to bitch about it, okay?" He scoffed and rolled his eyes with a ridiculous amount of sass.
Damn. If Mikasa should be offended, then it should be by Eren's crummy attempt at impersonating her. He even wore a scarf and all, despite it being blindingly obvious he was already feeling hot even without its help.
As for Eren, the reason why he was joining in this game he came up with was so that it was fair for everyone. Well, it was only fair if he also knew just how difficult it is to do this particular job as an alter. And since, technically, he was the host and the owner of the body, he had no need to exert any sort of effort to act like himself.
He hadn't had the need to act like his alters like they do with him. As a result, he only needed to pick which one he'd like to impersonate instead of trying to do them all.
Jean was definitely a no-go. He definitely doesn't have the capability to nicker like he does.
Reiner was okay. Then again, he really can't trust his own mouth not to blurt out things that aren't in the range of being nice. Also, he's not that industrious to volunteer to help out if Levi does decide to do something.
Annie was fine too. But unlike her who could be ambidextrous, Eren definitely have least control with his left hand. He also couldn't be bothered to work out, even as just a charade. And if Levi decides to hurl an apple again, it might end up smashing his face.
Sasha was the better option. They were practically on the same wavelength, and even their mannerisms match up most of the time. But then, the problem would always lie on the food. If Levi forces a carrot on him again, he might probably die.
So it was down to Mikasa. She was generally calm and composed, and only inimical when rubbed the wrong way. But with Levi, her displays of hostility towards him had dwindled throughout the years, though of course, she's not above giving him the cold shoulder if he starts being more of an ass (since he already is the way she sees it).
That shouldn't be too difficult right? If anything, he could also avoid Levi like how Mikasa tended to, and it would just all work in his favor since that'll give Levi lesser chances of noticing anything amiss. Not only that, earlier, Mikasa had also came out before him, so that only made things a lot easier for him and harder for the raven.
He really shouldn't underestimate his own husband.
"You should really take that off now." Levi sighed when the brunet tried to loosen the scarf on his neck again.
Eren just snubbed him, though he really was starting to get dizzy from the heat.
"Eren, I already know you're an idiot. You don't have to prove it anymore. So don't do this." Levi shook his head.
"Did you just call m— Eren an idiot? How dare you? After years of being married, this is how you treat m— him?" He scoffed overdramatically. "And why are you accusing me as being Eren? Can't you see I'm Mikasa? See this glare?" He pointed at his eyes. "See this scarf?" He wiggled the tail end of the fabric. "I'm fucking Mikasa, alright?"
"That's just insulting to her, you know?" Levi responded, unamused.
"What're you talking about? I'm her... I'm Mikasa! You can't prove it otherwise." He huffed.
Levi just continued to stare at him, partly wondering how in the hell did he fall in love with this moron? But putting that thought aside, he can actually prove it otherwise.
"Have you seen this video of Latte yet?" He whipped out his phone and scrolled through his gallery. That successfully perked up the brunet's attention, yet he pretended not to notice it. Tapping on the particular video, he showed it to the already glowing eyes of the brunet.
It was Latte who was chasing the remote controlled mouse toy they bought for her some time ago. Obviously, Levi was the one handling the remote and letting the cat run around in circles until she trips on her feet and start over again. Sometimes, Levi would stop until the cat would hunch down on the floor then wiggle its butt, ready to pounce, before running back again.
Latte isn't always this hyperactive. But Levi may have used some catnip, more so to entertain himself as well.
"That's soooo cute!" Eren squealed, taking the phone from the raven's hand so he could watch it better.
Levi stopped the mouse at one corner, waiting for Latte to tackle it. And when she did, the mouse instantly started to move and the cat had slipped on the floor until she ran onto the wall headfirst.
"You're mean." Eren chuckled, replaying the clip all over again.
"I am." Levi agreed, and took the opportunity to take off the scarf from the brunet's neck before planting a kiss on the side of his head.
After the multiple failed attempts of multiple alters, Sasha decided to show them how it's done. Granted she may not have really fooled Levi yet, that doesn't mean she's still not the best Eren impersonator in the system. Therefore, she has the best chances of coming out the victor in this little game of theirs.
She started it off with playing with Latte; cuddling, and cooing, and squeezing, and squealing at the poor cat. Of course, purposely done within the raven's peripheral. It's the little touches that completes the picture, after all.
After that, she tried to lightly bother Levi while he was doing the laundry; clinging on to him and refusing to let go when told to. She tried her best to avoid looking directly in his eyes as she did so, knowing Levi had this uncanny ability to tell who it was by scrutinizing their eyes. Or at least that's what it seemed to her.
"Any preference for lunch?" The raven asked when lunchtime was nearing.
Ah, shit. Here comes the most difficult part of this charade. But Sasha had steeled her mind for this particular moment.
"Well... I... uhh... I'm not exactly hungry." She mumbled out hesitantly, avoiding the raven's eyes, having practiced this line to perfection.
"Brat, that's not what I asked." Levi responded with a tinge of warning in his tone.
Sasha groaned and hid behind the throw pillow she picked up from the couch. A perfect touch to the act, and a perfect excuse to temporarily hide from those steel gray eyes.
"I'll have whatever you'll cook." Her voice came out muffled with every trace of unwillingness draping her tone.
She didn't know what expression Levi was currently wearing, and she refuse to take a peek. She was certain she hadn't done anything wrong, but she can't help internally panicking when the raven didn't respond right away.
Levi couldn't be contemplating on calling her out yet.
"Fine." He muttered out and stepped away.
Sasha held her breath for a couple of seconds, and only when she heard the telltale signs of pots and pans clanging did she release it. Damn. She doesn't even know if Levi bought that. But since he hadn't said anything about it, that must mean she's still in the game.
And when Levi ended up serving something within the range of Eren's edibles, Sasha wanted to cry out and just announce her victory. Nevermind the fact that it was still too early to celebrate. She couldn't even mind how the raven seemed to pay a lot of attention to her while they were eating at the table since he tends to do that when he knows Eren, himself, was the one who was actually eating.
But he wasn't. And Sasha wanted to slap her own back repeatedly for that.
When hours passed and Levi still didn't seem to be suspicious of who he's with, Sasha was just itching to go back in and give them the "hah!" dithyramb. If only nighttime would come soon. Then again, since she was on a roll in this game of masquerade, she was confident enough that she could last 'til bedtime.
Until Levi just had to make things even harder for her.
"What's that?" She asked curiously when the raven returned home from a short trip to the store.
"Takoyaki." He idly held up the bag he was carrying. "Sorry, I didn't bring you any. But it's not like you'd want one, anyway. You might just end up wasting it."
"Right." Sasha responded numbly. "Sasha may have wanted some, though." She tried to throw in casually.
"Well, she's not here now, is she?" Levi dismissed, stepping forward to return to his position on the couch.
Sasha didn't immediately follow him, knowing she'll be put in critical condition if she stays within his vicinity. Then again, she can't possibly avoid him now since that'll only make things suspicious.
She doesn't have that much problems during mealtimes since Levi would always insist Eren to eat. She just hadn't considered the possibility that Levi would be buying snacks for himself.
Taking a deep breath, Sasha steeled herself once again. She has to do this.
Retracing her steps back to the living area, she found the raven already lounging on the couch in front of the television, those mouth-watering balls (get your head out the gutter) at hand. She tried to ignore that little detail and proceeded to return to her position on the couch beside the raven's.
It was a good move of hers to feign working on their laptop since that'd make a good reason to avoid being all over the raven in the meantime. Especially since he had Pandora's balls in his hands.
She viciously tried to remind herself never to take a glance in his direction. But the smel wafting through her nose and the fact that she could still see the raven pop those balls in his mouth (again, get your head out the gutter) out of her periphery makes things incredibly difficult to endure.
This is torture. This is worse than torture!
As means to counter the temptation of looking up and instantly drooling, Sasha had to constantly remind herself why she was doing this. That's right, a week-long vacation. An entire week where she could go wherever she wants and splurge their savings on whatever she wants. A few minutes of agony is nothing compared to an entire week of paradise. That's right. She could do this.
She felt her resolve indurating as she repeated that thought over and over, and she couldn't help finding herself silly for thinking the situation was more difficult than how it really is. Surely she could look at Levi and...
Find him intently looking back at her with an amused expression on his face.
Sasha couldn't help staring right back at him, whether it was out of curiosity or shock, she couldn't tell. And when the raven popped in another ball without breaking eye contact, Sasha wanted to wail out in despair then and there.
"You already know, don't you?" She asked numbly instead.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Levi smirked.
"Yes, you do."
"No, Sasha. I don't."
"But HOW?!" She finally howled in distress. "When did you find out?"
"When I noticed you couldn't quite look at me in the eye." He shrugged simply.
Sasha groaned out in misery. If looking at Levi in the eye would give him the opportunity to scrutinize them, and avoiding to look at him in the eye would make him suspicious, then how in the world would it be possible to deceive him?!
"And all this time, you were the one fooling me to believe I had you." She sighed despondently. "My pride as an alter... gone." She added dramatically.
"Don't get me wrong, you are quite excellent in pretending to be Eren. And you do pose quite a challenge for me as opposed to the others." Levi started. "But you seem to forget I've known you for years now. And though it might not be as long as what someone would expect, that doesn't mean I didn't get to spend the past years getting to know everything about you."
As much as Sasha accepts that reasoning, she still couldn't help getting sulky at the fact that she lost in the game she should do best in. If anyone else in the system would be able to pull it off, she's not sure how she'll feel about it.
"I left your share on the counter, by the way." Levi threw in, popping in another mouthful of the treat and redirecting his attention back to the show he was watching.
And just like that, he made the brunette feel that losing the game was still somehow worth it.
As the day (or week) of the anniversary threatens to draw near and none of them had yet to bamboozle the husband, Eren decided to be munificent and cut off the required time from "maybe dinnertime until bedtime". However, only Sasha and Reiner attempted for another time, yet they still couldn't win over the insane observation skills of the raven.
Out of everyone in the system, there was still that one alter who had yet to make an attempt. And that one time Jean was pushed to the front, he didn't even bother with any sort of simulating.
They started to wonder if Jean would ever try his luck, but they also wouldn't be surprised if he decided not to take part in it. Eren could care less about that, though. If he wasn't going to try, then by default, Eren would win in his own game.
Like Jean would let that happen, though.
It seems like everyone forgot that Jean is actually smart. He may not be the best at impersonating Eren, but that's only because he finds it extremely awkward to do so, most especially when he's doing all those disgusting shit he does with his husband. Really, who wouldn't feel embarrassed pretending to be a total dumbass like Eren? Other than that, he really has no desire attaining that particular feat. Let Sasha bask in that achievement. He hardly has a fuck to spare.
Then again, Jean could not just back down from a challenge, especially if it's imposed by the dumbass. He may not have shown any interest towards it, but that's exactly the point of why he was not doing anything. He wanted everyone to believe he wouldn't take part in the game. Notably Levi, since for sure, he probably already figured out what they were trying to do.
Not only that, but he was also taking notes from the others' attempts and failures. He wanted to find out how exactly Levi determines each alter, and what particular signs and subtleties he looks out with regards to Eren.
Problem is, it seems like the raven had an infinite array of observations, and one wrong blink of the eye would instantly make him suspicious. He doesn't even know how that was possible, but he could only imagine how invested Levi must have been ever since he discovered their little condition.
Plainly acting like Eren might not be enough, and once Levi starts feeling hinky about the situation, it would be pretty damn difficult to shake him off.
Good thing he spent enough time to think of a solution.
Summoning all his willpower, Jean joined the raven on the couch and instantly curled up next to him. He willed his (or Eren's) body not to be too rigid and make things pellucid. All those time he spent mentally preparing for such measures should not be put to waste.
As expected, Levi absently started to stroke his hair, but his attention was glued to the screen of his phone. He wasn't even looking at something particularly interesting and was rather just scrolling through whatever was available on social media. So Jean decided to join him on that as well.
"What does 'je t'aime' mean?" He asked when he read the particular phrase in passing.
"'I love you'." Levi responded accordingly.
"Awww. I love you too, kitten." He grinned at him cheekily.
Oh good heavens, can he just keel over and die already?
Jean would never be able to live this moment down, and he could never get rid of that taste in his tongue.
However, seeing that Levi just looked like he wanted to put a front of being indifferent, yet couldn't do anything to conceal the amusement in his eyes, that at least put a huge consolation to his internal turmoil. He started to dwell on the realization that maybe the eyes really are the windows to the soul since it's almost impossible to hide anything behind them.
Was it a wrong move to look directly into the raven's eyes then? He knew Sasha could never get pass him whenever she wouldn't do it. Then again, Levi would also, somehow, be able to determine if Eren really was out if he stares into their eyes.
But... considering he did just that, why didn't he get any sort of reaction from Levi? Is he hiding it? That couldn't be the case since he didn't see any flash of recognition or something in his features.
"Something wrong?" The raven suddenly asked.
Catching himself, Jean realized he must have been frowning from thinking too much, or in Levi's words, he "looked constipated". Right, being Eren means you don't have to think too much since his meager brain wouldn't be able to handle the pressure.
"Nothing. Just feeling out of it."
And that's exactly the excuse he'll be using for this entire game. The solution to shaking off Levi's possible suspicions. If he pretends he was feeling dissociated, Levi would think someone was close and influencing "Eren" to act in a certain way.
After all, Eren never mentioned any particular rule on what methods they could resort to when enduring this game. So surely, that wouldn't be considered cheating.
As the clock continued to tick away, Levi had a nagging feeling at the back of his mind. One that tells him something isn't quite right. The more he tries to ignore it, the more it bothers him. And when his instincts are like this, it usually has something to do with the brunet.
Is the brat hiding something from him? He really couldn't tell. Is it really Eren who was out and with him? Again, he really couldn't tell. As far as he knows, his husband had been feeling out of it for quite a while now, so his sense of identity might currently be hazy.
The brunet wasn't also avoiding to look at him in the eye. And when Levi does look into those ocean green orbs, nothing seems to be amiss. Whenever one of his alters was out, there was always a subtle – sometimes very subtle – change in the way their eyes looked. Somehow, he could easily spot that certain change whenever Mikasa or Annie was out.
But then, Jean was the exception.
He didn't know why, but he couldn't spot any difference whenever Jean was out. He tried to find something, anything, that could make Jean stand out, but other than his refusal to pretend to be Eren as much as possible – along with his subpar acting skills – there really isn't much to go by, appearance-wise.
Jean also has a different vibe, though. Maybe that's where he was getting that unsettling feeling from. But it would be wrong to accuse the brunet of something he really has no solid proof of. After all, maybe Jean was just close instead of out.
Or is he?
"Hey, can you read this for me? I can't seem to find my glasses." The raven asked just after they finished with dinner.
'Shit!' Jean internally panicked, racking his brain for a plausible excuse that Levi would believe. A little more time and they'd be going to bed soon. He was so goddamn close! He can't possibly fail now.
"Oi, brat. Did you hear me?" Levi prompted when the younger failed to respond.
Jean made a show of snapping out of it and rapidly blinking his eyes. "Huh? Sorry, Lee. What were you saying?" He rubbed at his eyes.
Levi stared at him for a moment, trying to determine if a switch had occured, or the brunet was just spacing out again. He was equally torn between those two possibilities.
"Can you read this for me?" He repeated, handing a sheet of paper.
"Of course." The younger beamed up at him. "Why though? Is your age catching up with you?" He added cheekily.
"Shut up." Levi muttered out. "That little shit must have played with my glasses again. It's not where I left it."
"Why don't you borrow Jean's?"
"Why don't you just read it since you're here?"
"Fine, grumpy pants." Jean rolled his eyes. Here goes nothing.
"Don't tell me your eyes are getting bad, too?" Levi spoke when he noticed the brunet squinting to get a better view at the words.
"Fuck, I hope not." He frowned. "Horse-face might be close, though. I just sincerely hope that was the case."
He couldn't really tell, but perhaps Levi accepted that excuse considering his lack of response. And fucking hell was that a fucking huge relief for him.
When bedtime finally rolled around, Jean felt like hyperventilating from all the pent-up emotions he had to keep holding back until the day was over. Once the raven drifts off to sleep, his victory would finally be secured.
Granted, Levi might not have specifically addressed him as "Eren" and was rather settling with "brat" or "hey" or "oi", but the fact that he hadn't specifically called him out should be enough reason for his win.
The final hurdle was to just snuggle up against the raven until he falls asleep. Levi was still freshening up in the bathroom and would be joining him any minute now. He could use that time to calm himself down and just breeze through this final step.
By the time Levi joined him in bed though, all of his preparations came spiraling down. He had failed to consider Levi would be the one who'll snuggle behind him... peppering kisses all over his shoulder up to his jaw.
He hadn't even closed his eyes yet, and he was already having a nightmare.
"Stop, Lee. We still have work tomorrow." He tried to shake him off, letting out a small (nervous) giggle, and hoping to all fuck his heartbeat isn't as loud as he could hear it.
"And you're complaining now?" The raven shot back before resuming those butterfly kisses on his shoulders.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
So this is why Eren made it "important" that Levi should think he was with him before he goes to sleep. That fucking bastard made it sure they would all get caught in this moment. So much for his fucking "generosity". He was just dangling them for his own entertainment!
How could he have forgotten how the couple shares goodnight kisses every single time before they go to sleep? Or worse... ugh! He doesn't even want to think about it. Fucking hell, he has to find a way out of this Gehenna.
"Really, love. We still have an important report to do tomorrow. I can't go to work looking all fucked-out." He tried again, each word another thorn in his tongue.
"Why not? That doesn't sound so bad." Levi rebutted.
"How about this... if the whole report thing goes well tomorrow, we could do a little celebration at night?" He proposed, praying to the goddamn walls he wouldn't break character.
"And if it doesn't?" The raven arched a brow.
"Then... you'd know how to make me feel better, don't you?" He smirked suggestively.
Levi narrowed his eyes on him, trying to determine if that was a good enough reason, and deciding whatever his doubts are, he really had no choice in the matter.
"Fine." He grumbled out. "But I'm topping since you made me wait."
Jean tried his damnedest not to cringe at that. "Of course." He continued to smile instead.
And this is when the most crucial point happens.
Jean leaned over to kiss the husband.
Unfortunately, it shouldn't just be a quick peck, 'coz their bedtime kisses are never quick pecks. It should be at least a minute long of horrendous spit sharing and tongue dancing. A minute long of pure torture.
He finally found a good use of Eren's motormouth. That dipshit never let any detail pass, especially when he was trying to get on his nerves. But goddamn, none of those sensations he described came any close to how it actually feels: Fucking horrible.
And when they finally broke apart, Levi continued staring at him. Jean couldn't tell what expression he must be wearing with the dim lighting, and he really didn't wanna know. All he wanted was to go back in their inner world and never resurface again.
"Goodnight, Lee." He almost whispered and immediately cuddled up on the older man's chest to avoid further conversations.
Somebody bury him already.
Levi just hummed and took a second to settle back on the bed. Silence ensued afterwards, and though Jean couldn't tell if he was asleep already, he didn't even have the strength left to care. He'll just drift off first then and escape this hell.
The most important thing is he won. He fucking showed that shitface that he was able to do the impossible. This achievement would be something he'll slap on that bastard's face. And he really had to recharge since he has a vacation to plan.
One day, Levi found his husband curled up on the couch with a constipated look on his face. He didn't even waste a breath and just proceeded to sit down beside him.
"What's wrong?" He asked directly.
"They're just pestering me to confirm who really won the game we were playing. You see, these past weeks, they've been trying to make you believe they were me for a day, or a couple of hours. Whoever wins would get to decide where our vacation would be." The brunet sighed.
Of course Levi had noticed the sudden interest of his alters in impersonating their host. But it was still nice to finally learn the reason behind it.
"Then wouldn't that be Jean?" Levi pointed out.
Eren let out a noise of distress at that. He really didn't want to acknowledge that fact. It was already bad that he had to bitch at that horse-face for actually kissing Levi, and Jean pointing out he was the one who left him with no other options in the first place. And what more, it was still, technically, Eren's lips that touched the raven's.
But then something clicked in his head.
"Hold on... how the hell did you know it was Jean?"
Levi lagged for a response, wondering if he should really tell his husband about it. But then, come to think about it, Eren is most probably already aware of the details of the time Jean last came out. And all things considered, he really couldn't lie to his husband.
He already had his suspicions that perhaps Jean might finally be trying his best to impersonate Eren like what his fellow alters had been doing. But there's really that one detail that sealed it for him.
"He kisses like a virgin." He deadpanned.
In the end, Levi took over the decision-making since he was the real winner in this whole game. And like the perfect fucking husband he is, he took them to a cruise he had been keeping an eye on for quite some time now, and satisfied every one of them.
Levi looking into Eren's eyes to determine if he was out was something he had been doing as far back as chapter 12 of OBNTS (yes, I checked). It's also why the edited "cover photo" (aka, the shitty edit on the summary) of that fic shows Levi doing that particular action to Eren.
On another note, remember how Jean used to be Eren's body-double in the canon universe, 'coz according to Armin, they had the "same menacing look in their eyes"? Well, guess who just milked that tiny detail?
Chapter 4: La La Latte
Me: Seriously brain?! You're giving me all these ideas for an appreciation chapter... of a cat?! Why are we even working on this? What about the other fic we've yet to upda—
Brain: Shhhhhhhhhhhhhut the fuck up and write.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was cold. It was dark.
She tried calling out for attention. She wanted to be let out.
But her pleas fell on deaf ears. She tried finding a way out, but the constant moving of the floor underneath her made it difficult to do so.
It's been a while since the darkness enveloped her. The cramped space surrounding her was something she should find comfort in. She kinda liked these sorts of enclosures, after all. But with the constant shifting, it was anything but that.
And when the movement stopped, she waited patiently to finally be let out. She started to call out for attention again when the human took more time than necessary. But again, she wasn't heard.
Popping her tiny head out of the enclosed box, she noticed that the human who carried her all the way here was no longer around. She doesn't even have an idea where she was right now. So she went back inside again and waited. Maybe the human will come back soon.
But they didn't.
She was starting to get hungry, and all she wanted was to curl up next to her mother again. She may have complained a little along the way, but she had been generally good throughout their travel.
Why would the human abandon her?
Trying her luck to find her way back home, she hopped out of the box and padded through the blanket of pure white snow. Nothing seemed to be familiar though; not the street, not that fence, not that house, or the one beside that, or the ones across from that. That doesn't even seem to be the same tree where she once chased a squirrel 'til she got stuck on one of the branches and had to cry out for help. Sniffing the air for any sign of familiarity was no use either. It only made her button of a nose hurt.
Her tiny feet kept padding forward. Each step only taking her to another area she doesn't recognize. She ran and hid when encountering a potential threat, until she learned to avoid walking in the open area and just keep to the sides where she can easily flee. Once, she helped herself to a house where a very enticing aroma was originating from. Sadly, she was promptly chased out by a scary-looking human.
Houses gradually turned into buildings. Tall buildings, some taller, some even more. Yet another sight that wasn't familiar to her in the slightest. The number of humans ambling around steadily multiplied. But no one paid her any heed; too caught up in their own bubbles. Had she been home, it would've been an honor for her to re-arrange all those human decorations that have littered all throughout the place. Those flashing lights, those hanging balls, those assortment of banners and garlands... they were too pretty not to be played with. But that wasn't something she could care of in her current state.
She was hungry. She was cold. So cold.
She stopped to rest at one spot. One that was void of humans and animals alike. Possibly abandoned. Just like her.
That was until footsteps she didn't notice approaching stopped in front of her. A human with ink black hair and narrow eyes, which were the only thing that could be seen by how far up he wrapped his scarf, was staring at her with curiosity. After a moment of just staring at each other, the human got down on his knees to take a closer look at her.
"Are you lost?" He asked through the fabric of his scarf.
"Meow ~" came her weak reply. She was so hungry she barely have much strength left in her.
The human started to look on both sides, and even the area behind him like he was searching for something. He redirected his gaze back at her with a seemingly conflicted look in those orbs.
"You're filthy." He mumbled out.
Well, of course she is considering everything she went through. Literally and figuratively.
"Meow ~" She called again, asking the human to at least just give her something for her empty stomach.
The human let out an audible sigh before extending his hesitant hands and picking her up. She didn't even squirm much since the heat radiating from the human was a lot better than the cold air she'd been enduring for how long now.
The human didn't give her anything to eat though. If anything, it only seemed like he was helping her with her aimless journey as he went around from door to door and asked, "Is this your cat?"
After the nth house and building they stopped by, the human seemed to have given up. She had no collar on, and unless there was a posted sign of a missing feline, it would be safe to assume she was a stray.
"Well, if no one's happy to take you in, then I know someone who'll shit his pants when he sees you. I'm sure you'll make him very happy – ecstatic, even – by just showing up." He said while idly stroking her head. "And who knows? Maybe you'll be my ticket to forgiveness."
And that was how she found herself taken into a warm apartment that was infinite times better than the cold world outside. It was void of all those flashy bric-a-brac though, compared to her former human's abode. Quite smaller, too. Not that that was important. She could – and she would – always find something else to play with.
The human took her to what seemed like his kitchen and had given her some milk he even heated up for her. It was so good it only took her a couple minutes to finish it all up and even ask for seconds.
"Damn, just how long have you been out there?" The human asked as he prepared her another bowl.
"Mreow ~" She responded a lot more cheerful this time, gradually regaining her strength.
"You're lucky you haven't turn into a popsicle yet by the time I found you, you know. Be grateful." The human muttered as he set down her second bowl. She just meowed her gratitude and instantly lapped at the milk once the bowl was settled on the floor.
"And you're lucky old man Pixis allowed me to keep you here. Just don't do something to change his mind."
She didn't bother responding to that. She could care less whoever that human is. He wasn't the one who rescued her, after all.
"You need a name." The human mused to himself. "Popsy." He blurted out. "Sort of like how you almost turned into a popsicle."
She didn't like that, at all. Why would this human name her into what she would've been... had she been dead?
"Not good, huh?" The human kept talking to her like he could actually understand her. "How about..." He trailed off as he racked his brain for better ones, eyes still trained on her own.
She could almost see how the gears in his brain worked until they clicked into place. A flash of "Eureka!" lighting his eyes for a second.
"Latte." He stated almost reverently, like it was some sort of a fond memory he secretly treasures.
She thinks that was better... whatever that means. Obviously, the human seemed to be fond of that name, so if he makes it her own, that would mean he'll also be fond of her. If he wasn't already.
"Right. From now on, you're Latte. I don't care if you like it or not, but that's going to be your name from now on." The human continued.
Right. Whatever, human. Call me whatever you like as long as you keep me.
As long as you don't abandon me once you got sick of me like my owner before you.
Soon enough, she was full. She was all warmed up. This human is, undoubtedly, her savior. She was sure nothing bad could ever happen again. She won't have to go through the suffering of being abandoned again. This human would take good care of her for the rest of her life. This human would become her new parent. This human would...
Give her a bath right after she was fed.
"Calm down, you little shit. Argh! Fuck! Hold sti— Ow! Stop that! You're not roaming around here until you're clean, you get tha— Ah, shit!"
If there was one thing she despises the most, it would be baths. It would always be baths. Baths were even worse than having to stay out in the freezing weather for days. She could never comprehend why humans would force her to have one when she could clean herself up. Maybe not as good as her mother could, but she's getting there.
"Fucking hell." The human muttered out as soon as he finally wrapped her up in a towel.
His eyes narrowed at the state of his wrists and arms. What once was an unblemished length of pale white, was now littered with streaks of pinks and reds. A true masterpiece if you'd ask her.
Suddenly, the human halted his actions of rubbing the fabric on her drenched fur.
"Shit." He mumbled under his breath. "I don't have any hairdryer."
She watched as the human's features contorted into one of irritation, or perhaps, of internal conflict. Seeing as he was no longer drying her off with the towel, she took three steps away from him and started licking her own fur dry. As much as she wanted to, she can't really go too far from the human. It was still too cold, she couldn't even help her tiny body from vibrating.
The human let out another sigh as he wordlessly wrapped her back up in the towel and carried her to another room. Back to the living area. Stopping in front of the room heater, the human sat down cross-legged and set her down in front of him. It was much warmer there, and the human was pretty smart for thinking about it.
Actually, he was pretty smart for taking her in in the first place.
Later that night, the human was going on about establishing house rules and something, but she was more interested in exploring her new home. Soon after that, lights were turned off and she followed the human to his bedroom.
"You're not allowed on the bed, got it?" He stated resolutely, donning on a stern expression. "I'll try and look for something you can sleep on some other time. Get you checked by a vet, too. But that'll have to wait. Holidays are a fucking pain in the ass." He droned on as he took to rearranging the pillows.
She just blinked at that and let the human settle himself on the bed. She lied down on the floor, still gazing up at him even though he already shut off the bedside lamp. Despite doing that, some light from outside the window still managed to sneak their way through. It was that time of year when humans like to bump up their electricity bills with flashing lights and a whole assortment of knick-knacks, after all.
Not this human, though.
When said human turned his head and saw her staring, he narrowed his eyes at her and, with clear reluctance, diverted his sights to the ceiling instead. She took that as her cue to join him in his sleep, lying comfortably on top of his chest.
"I said you're not allowed on the bed." The human frowned.
But technically, she wasn't really on the bed, was she?
She just blinked at him slowly, and feeling that comforting heat radiating from the human, she couldn't help purring.
"You little shit. Don't do that eye thing on me. I already have another brat who uses that to make me bend on his will."
She continued to stare at him, perhaps wondering what the human was going on about. The considerable darkness of the room was actually dilating her pupils and doing unexplainable sorts of things to the poor human.
"Fine. You can stay here." He finally conceded. "But in return, you're gonna have to help me reconcile with your human incarnate."
She still doesn't have an idea what he was talking about, but if he was asking for some sort of help, then she will certainly help him.
Eventually, she met her "human incarnate".
She actually liked him, despite the fact that he immediately started molesting her the moment he laid his eyes on her. He had pretty eyes and an equally pretty smile, and judging from the way he reacted when he first saw her, she was pretty sure this human would spoil her rotten.
And when he declared they were her new parents (when the first human certainly did not), that's when her fate was finally sealed. For good.
"You little fuck. Out of all the shit we bought for you, why in the fuck do you play with my glasses?" The human, her Daddy, grumbled, picking up the spectacles she had previously been batting on the floor.
"Tch. And don't think I haven't seen all those papers you swatted to the floor. You never learn, do you?" He narrowed his eyes at her. She just blinked back with wide eyes.
"Eren! You better get your cat here before I throw this shit out." He called out, sighing and walking away. Her Dada promptly took his place afterwards.
"Did you do something to upset your Daddy again?" The kinder parent cooed, picking her up to place her on his lap. "Don't worry, he doesn't mean what he said. Your Daddy loves you very much."
And to testify that, her Dada had actually walked-in to her Daddy one day, lying sideways on the kitchen floor next to her. Not wanting to disrupt the moment, her Dada hid behind the wall and strained his ears to catch whatever her Daddy had been telling her in such a low voice.
Turns out, her Daddy was just trying to re-instate why house rules were important and how she should stop being so bratty since he already had his hands full with six of 'em. When he was done with that, her Daddy went on asking her how it feels like being a cat and just what sort of things goes on her head. He also commented on how she and her Dada got along so well, it almost seemed like they shared the same brain (which her Dada still wonders if that was meant to be an insult or otherwise), all the while stroking her fur to her utmost content.
Her Dada knew that if he showed up, her Daddy would abruptly stop and make up a half-baked excuse on what he had been doing. So he didn't; fully content on listening from the other side of the wall and wishing he could record this moment.
And that was also one of the many, many reasons why Latte could never be threatened by her Daddy in one way or another. Hell, he'd probably have a heart attack if she so much get stuck on a high branch again. She knew her Dada almost did.
"Levi! Latte knocked over the coffee jar. Now she needs a thorough bath!" Her Dada had called out, carrying her by her sides while they both weaved through the rooms of the house in search of her Daddy.
Her Daddy soon popped out from his study, eyeglasses still on the bridge of his nose, his thin eyebrows already meeting in disapproval.
"Shit." was all he muttered out before letting out a deep, defeated sigh.
Her Daddy would never let her Dada handle her baths knowing how much she hated them and how much she likes to demonstrate that certain abhorrence. Her Daddy loves her Dada too much that even the slightest scratch would have him fussing.
"Give me it." He grumped out, extending his hands to carry her.
"Thanks, love." Her Dada beamed, giving him a loving kiss on the cheek. "Be nice to her, okay? It was an accident."
"I'm really not the one you should be saying that to."
And the dreadful baths would always be dreadful. Ever since then, her Daddy had thought better and wore gloves that almost reached his elbows whenever he would give her a bath. Of course, a pair could only last for a single use, and sometimes, her poor Daddy still managed to earn a few scratches.
"The next time this happens, I'm sticking you into the kettle and brew you." He had threatened as he dried her up with a towel.
Her Daddy tends to say the meanest things to her; calling her a little shit and every other name under the sun. He likes to accentuate his points with threats, too; telling her he'd disown her, throw her out, or give her to that terrifying human who was like a vet for humans. Apparently, that human was Dada's vet.
Why does her Daddy like to lie?
On the other hand, her Dada was like the perfect example of a stage mom. Most of the times, that is. There are other times when he acts like her Daddy, not in the sense of calling her names or dishing out empty threats, but in the sense that... he's not as gung ho of playing with her at times.
Her Dada is inconsistent. But she loves him all the same.
When winter came and humans started fussing over the holidays again, Latte was more than content to lounge in front of the fireplace and ignore the world around her. Ever since they lived in an actual house, her Dada had insisted they should at least do some decorating to somehow commemorate the season. Of course her Daddy could hardly say no when it comes to her Dada.
"Levi, do you think something's changed with Latte?" Eren asked as he lazed around with his husband on the couch that weekend.
"What do you mean?" The raven asked, taking a look at the feline in question.
"Don't you think she's gotten bigger?"
Levi snorted at that. "Of course she is. All she does is eat and barely do anything. She's fat and she's lazy. Why wouldn't you think she's gotten bigger?"
"It's not just that. I mean, think about it. Usually, she would've already attacked the tree by this point of time. But she hasn't. I haven't seen her messing with the decorations, too. And I think she might be eating more than usual." The brunet pointed out.
"Like I said, she's fat and she's lazy." Levi merely repeated with a shrug.
"Don't you think she's pregnant?" Eren suggested.
Dark brows furrowed at that. "What're you talking about? She hardly leaves the house."
"Well, it's true that we always see her whenever we're home. But what about whenever we're not? She's a cat, and we always keep a window open for her whenever she may want to go out. And maybe she didn't have to wander away from our lot. Maybe another cat is coming to meet her instead." He reasoned.
That got the raven to shut up and actually consider it. He spent a good few minutes of deep thinking, and Eren thought better than to interrupt him in his contemplation. And all too abruptly, he stood up.
"Get dressed. We're going to the vet." He announced unceremoniously.
"Now?" Eren asked dumbly, quite surprised by his husband's impulsiveness.
How long has it been, Eren couldn't tell. All he knows for sure is that his stomach hurts, he needed to breathe, and that he's already crying. In his defense, this was Pieck's, Latte's vet, fault.
Levi had been quite tense on the drive to her clinic, and Eren found it unusual of him to willingly weave his way through the busy streets of holiday season, just to find out if Latte really was pregnant. And as much as Eren likes Pieck since she takes really good care of Latte, not to mention she has a great sense of humor, she really is the one to blame for his current state... because of that particular sense of humor.
Pieck had a sombre air about her as they watched Latte's ultrasound. Even though Levi was keeping mum the entire time, Eren could tell he was at the edge of his seat just as he, himself, was. The fact that Pieck was being uncharacteristically silent was only feeding the tension.
"So, how is it, Pieck?" Eren had initiated to ask when the waiting was starting to kill him. He's not familiar with ultrasounds and is rather clueless about what exactly they were looking at in the monitor. He was quite sure the same also goes for Levi.
"Hmm... Nine." Pieck had responded cryptically.
"Nine? Nine what? Kittens?" Eren followed-up incredulously. Are cats even able to carry that much kittens?
"No. Nine chicken nuggets. Latte's not pregnant. She's just fat. Like, really fat. And happy." She announced with a shit-eating grin on her face.
And that was what led to Eren bursting out in laughter, failing miserably to rein it in even for his husband's sake. His husband who had kept a tight line on his lips even as he finally started to come down from his high.
"Shit, that was hilarious. I hate you, Pieck." Eren wheezed out, wiping the tears that have gathered in the corners of his eyes.
"Say that again, and you won't get special discounts anymore." Pieck threatened with no real venom.
"Well, Lee. Looks like it's still gonna be the three of us in the family." The brunet jested, gently nudging his husband by the shoulder to make sure he still functions.
"Right. Well... thank fuck." Levi muttered out, his tone betraying his words. Perhaps he really was looking forward to having more kittens.
Eventually, they thanked Pieck and went on their merry way back home, with Eren carrying Latte while Levi mechanically made his way back to the car, still unable to get over the pregnancy scare.
"Levi, did you really wanted Latte to be pregnant?" Eren decided to ask on the drive back home.
"I don't know." The raven sighed. "I mean, I'm not sure how we'll deal with more cats, but if she really was pregnant, then it's not like we could give those kittens away."
"Hmm, true. But at least now we could mentally prepare ourselves once that time comes."
"There's that." Levi agreed.
"Imagine if Latte really did have nine kittens though. We'd have enough names for a mini coffee shop's menu. Hannes would flip."
Levi couldn't help snorting and shaking his head at the thought. If they'd have Frappe or Cappuccino running around the house, people would definitely think they were running a business, or at the very least, think they were just a couple of caffeine enthusiasts. Which, all things considered, they are.
A couple of days after that incident, Eren found his husband on the kitchen floor again; sitting cross-legged with a yowling Latte in his hands.
"Zip it. Didn't you hear what your vet said? You're too fat and you need exercise. Be ashamed." The raven chided as he continued to help with the feline's exercise through simple stretches.
Eren had to slap a hand in his mouth when the cat continued to yowl in protest, clearly not a bit remorseful about her weight. For someone who complains a lot about keeping the cat, Levi sure do have his moments of contradiction. A lot of them, in fact.
Eren would very much like to join his husband on the floor by then, but knew he'd rather let them have this moment for the two of them to bond.
He is Latte's Daddy, after all.
Wow, what a filler chapter.
But is it, really? Or am I just setting the scene up for something major? Hmm...
Chapter 5: Conjugal contentment (pt. 1)
Demn, why do the ideas come easy when I'm dealing with this AU?
Look at me breaking chapters into parts.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The visitors watched as the brunet, who opened the door, go from being startled to somehow vacant, to confused, to blank again, to recognition, and then finally giddiness – all in a span of several seconds.
"Guys, you're here!" The brunet finally greeted, opening his arms for a warm welcome.
Historia went ahead to hug the brunet first, having to stand on her toes to accommodate for the increased height difference.
"Is this Eren?" She chirped as they enveloped each other in a warm embrace, reliving the sort of camaraderie they possessed of yesteryears.
"Yeah, it's me." Eren couldn't help letting out an airy laugh. "Though I have to say I'm now a bit muddled, thanks to that greeting you pulled."
"Sorry." Historia grinned as they pulled away, expression betraying her words. "It was Armin's idea."
"So definitely not." The other blond rolled his eyes playfully before going on to hug the brunet next.
"So good to see you guys again." Eren grinned as he held his non-biological brother close.
"You too. It's been a while." Armin returned.
"Come on in." The brunet gestured for them inside their home once they broke apart. "Levi! Look who's here!" He called out in the air.
It took a couple of minutes, but the raven soon popped out from one of the rooms and joined the others in the living area, unable to hide his surprise at the guests who were present.
"Levi!" Historia instantly bounded up to him and pulled him into a hug. "It's great to know I'm not the only one who hasn't grown any in the past couple years."
"I don't exactly share your sentiments, brat." Levi frowned.
The blonde just laughed before joining Armin, who simply lifted a hand in greeting for the raven, back in the couch. Years later and Armin still didn't think Levi's appreciation of personal space and minimal skin contact had dwindled any. Historia is just one of the very few people who's brave enough to cross that line; along with Hanji and Eren. Though technically, the latter could hardly be considered now due to the nature of their relationship.
On the other hand, Levi immediately took notice that Armin had finally decided to change his hairstyle. And what once was a blond coconut, was now a blond coconut husk.
"I'll go make tea." He offered and stepped into the direction of the kitchen.
"Thanks, love!" Eren beamed, happy for his husband's initiative.
"Aww. That's so sweet. Years later and your affection for each other is still going strong." Historia gushed, cupping her cheeks dreamily at the couple.
"Yeah, well... Levi doesn't really have a choice. He's stuck with me." Eren jested.
"I don't think he minds that if you ask me." Armin threw in.
They soon engaged in small talk filled with fond memories of the past and catching up with some news of each other, until the raven returned with the beverages and sat down beside his husband.
"So, what brought you guys here today?" Eren initiated, seeing as everyone had gathered around the coffee table.
The two blonds looked at each other, and whatever telepathic conversation had just occured between them, apparently resulted in Armin being the one to answer the question.
"Well..." The blond trailed off, sheepishly scratching the back of his head. "We're here to tell you about our engagement."
Levi, who had been leaning in to grab himself a cup, abruptly stopped at the announcement.
"Wait, what?" Eren managed to ask intelligently.
Historia just giggled and flashed the both of them the glittering silver ring on her finger as proof. Eren's jaw unhinged, a finger simultaneously pointing at each of his friends, trying to make the connection that was already clear as day.
"Congratulations. So, when's the wedding?" Levi asked, recovering from the initial shock first and was now calmly sipping on his tea.
"Thanks. We still don't have a date yet, though." Armin smiled. "Eren, you're going to be my best man this time, alright?"
Levi nudged his husband when the brunet didn't reply right away.
"What? Of course! Congratulations! I'd love to be your best man, Ar-Ar." Eren rambled, and the blond visibly cringed at the nickname. It's been years since he last heard that one.
"And Levi, you're gonna be my maid of honor." Historia joined in cheekily.
"Fuck you." Levi bit, though everyone pretty much just laughed it off.
"Do you have any approximations on when the wedding might be?" The brunet decided to ask, his excitement showing.
"Well, Historia wanted it after the baby is born, so—"
Armin was cut-off when the raven sprayed the tea he had been sipping on to his husband and started choking. Fortunately, Eren wasn't able to register the droplets that have stained his skin as he was also stunned shock by his friend's words.
"Way to spoil things, honey." Historia rolled her eyes at her fiancé.
"Shit. Sorry. That just slipped off my tongue."
The two other men were still unresponsive after that, unabashed shock present in their faces. Though this time, it was Eren who recovered first than his husband.
"Wait. So, you're saying that Historia... is... pregnant?" He asked slowly.
"I'll take that as a compliment that you haven't noticed right away. Even after I hugged you." The blonde laughed, unbuttoning her blazer to show off the now obvious baby bump in her stomach.
"Holy shit, Historia!" Eren sprang up to envelope the blonde in another supporting embrace while gushing out words of felicitations for the both of them. "People in the system want to say congratulations, too. I can't tell who for sure, but it might as well come from all of them."
"Aww, thank you. Send my love to all of them, as well." Historia smiled, letting herself be smothered by the enthusiastic brunet.
Meanwhile, Levi remained still on his seat, staring at the area between Armin's legs like it was a very complex concept he couldn't quite wrap his head on. It didn't even seem like he was ashamed of doing it in the slightest.
"Should I be worried, Lee?" Eren teased when it looked like his husband wasn't even blinking anymore.
"I just didn't know you had one." Levi finally spoke, addressing the blond sitting across from him.
Armin instantly frowned at that. "That's it. You're not invited. Not to the wedding, not to the reception, not to anything."
"Levi could still come as my plus one, though. Just saying." Eren smirked smugly.
"Is Jean close?" Armin quirked an eyebrow.
"Ugh. Yes." The brunet groaned, massaging his temples.
Soon enough, their conversation branched off to different topics, though try as they might, for some reason, they always circle back to the matter of Historia's pregnancy.
"So, is it gonna be a boy or a girl?" Eren asked.
"We still haven't checked, but I have full faith that it's going to be a girl." The blonde answered confidently.
"You fine with having a daughter, Ar?"
"I don't really have a preference." Armin shrugged. "I'm just wishing I could actually be a good parent."
"I'm sure you will. The both of you."
"Oh, by the way, you and Levi are gonna be godfathers for the baby." Historia suddenly announced.
"We're not religious." Levi blurted out. But the blonde just rolled her eyes at the remark.
"I'm just saying I want you guys to be like a second set of parents for the baby. We're not religious too, in case you forgot." She chuckled lightly. "Think you could give a name suggestion?"
"No, Levi. We're not calling the baby 'little shit' or anything along that range." Eren cut off before his husband could finish the sentence.
"Tch." The raven clicked his tongue before leaning back in his seat with crossed arms.
"Well, how about..." Eren trailed of, sucking on his bottom lip as he tried to come up with a good suggestion. Little did he know he had been spacing out for a couple of seconds before he suddenly blurted out, "Christa."
"Christa? Isn't that the name of Ymir's friend in your inner world?" Armin pointed out.
"Huh? Oh, yeah. I don't know why I said that. I mean Christa is practically Historia in the inner world, so... I don't know. I guess that's how I got it." Eren scratched his head.
But as how Historia views it, Ymir must have somehow influenced Eren to blurt out that particular name. She knows it has been quite a really long time since Ymir integrated that her and Eren are practically one and the same now, and it might just be wishful thinking but... she'd like to believe Ymir could never be fully gone as long as Eren is here. She is a part of Eren, after all.
"I like that." She mused out loud. "How's Ymir doing, by the way?"
"Well, if you're asking Ymir as an NPC, then she's still as blunt as ever. Always chasing Christa around. But if you're asking Ymir as a former alter, then... you could just look at me, I guess." The brunet gestured to himself awkwardly.
"Then she must be very happy." She smiled sweetly.
"I guess." Eren agreed with a smile of his own. "By the way, Historia. I hope you won't take this the wrong way, but... I initially thought you were... gayer than this. I mean, I love Armin, but I'm honestly shocked that you're actually engaged to each other. Hell, I didn't even know you were dating." He kept his voice low as he said this, wanting to keep the conversation between them as much as possible.
Historia chanced a glance at her fiancé beside her before casually leaning closer to the brunet on her other side. "Yeah, well... Armin isn't entirely out of touch with his feminine side, if you catch my drift. So all things considered, it works perfectly for me. Don't tell him I said that." She whispered conspiratorially.
"Not a word." Eren vowed, trying to rein the laughter in.
"As for when we started dating, I honestly couldn't give you an exact date. We just never really lost touch with each other, you know? We kept seeing each other over coffee and stuffs. I guess things just escalated from there."
They continued to talk for the next few minutes, until their attention was diverted by Armin's outburst.
"No way! Obviously you're pulling some strings here."
"Alright. Why don't you ask her yourself?" Levi responded with a thoroughly amused expression. Apparently, the both of them had been engaged in a conversation of their own, while Eren and Historia were having a moment.
"Fine." Armin huffed out, fishing up the feline from the floor and setting her on his lap, back turned to her ebony-haired owner.
Levi just sat back in his seat, propping his elbow on the sofa's armrest, head tilted to the side with a cocky smirk on his face. And though curiosity was getting the best of the other two who had been left out, they silently agreed to just keep watching in case they'd get some semblance of comprehension even without pretext of what was happening.
"Okay, Latte." The blond started, giving the cat a determined gaze. "Do you seriously think that shitty owner of yours has a dick?"
Eren and Historia were positively lost by the outré question the supposedly smart blond had just blurted out. And to a cat at that. But when said cat meowed its agreement, they could see how Armin's eyes narrowed considerably.
"And of course you know I have one too, right?" He followed-up. Latte just blinked before making a move to lick at her paw.
Armin looked visibly distraught at the lack of response, and Levi had took to crouching on himself to hide his face, though the shaking of his shoulders was a dead giveaway. Historia desperately bit the insides of her cheeks to prevent laughing at her fiancé's expense, but Eren wasn't so considerate.
"Dude, I swear she's not taught that. Whatever she does is out of our volition." Eren defended unhelpfully.
"Thanks, man. I feel a lot better now." Armin sighed, melting further on the sofa.
"Levi, if you want to laugh, you don't have to be shy about it, you know?" Historia, thankfully, diverted the topic, giving her fiancé comforting strokes on his arm.
"Oh, no. That's really how Levi laughs." Eren answered in his husband's place. "At first, I thought he was just too cool to peep out a laugh, but apparently, that's just how he does it. I don't know, but I feel like I'd be more worried if he does make a sound when laughing. I love him to the moon and back, but I'm not above considering he could be related to Satan or something." He stage whispered the last part out.
"I heard that, you little shit." Levi piped up from his place.
"Then you also heard when I said 'I love you' right? 'Coz I do. Satan-related or not." He made smooching faces at his husband, who just frowned and clicked his tongue.
What once had been gentle stroking had turned into rough shaking as Historia squealed at the childish display of the two men.
"Honey, promise me we'd be like that even after we're married. Promise me!"
"Alright, alright. As long as you stop torturing me, I will." Armin managed to let out even with his fiancée's rough treatment.
When Historia ceased her actions, Armin took her hand and lovingly kissed the back of it before settling it down between them. Eren pouted at the display, standing up and making himself comfortable on his husband's lap instead.
"What're you doing?" Levi arched a brow at the brunet.
"I'm jealous. Love me." was all he said before nuzzling the raven's head.
"Oh? You sure you wanna do it here, brat?" Levi smirked, yet held the brunet close nonetheless.
"Guys, please don't." Armin groaned, half-expecting the two would actually get it on in front of them.
"Honey." Historia caught his attention again with that sweet voice of hers.
Armin turned to smile at his fiancée, wondering what she was going to say to make things better. "Yes, honey?" He prompted when she didn't continue right away.
"You promised." was all she said, not tearing her eyes away from the couple who looked like they were really going to get on with it any minute now.
Well, what the hell? Armin may not be that knowledgeable when it comes to established relationships (yet), but he could pretty much tell the two aren't exactly appropriate role models for it. Their affection for each other is really admirable, but still, he just wishes his wife-to-be wouldn't take all notes from them. Especially not when it comes to matters of physical intimacy.
"I don't know. I'm just a bit lost on what my purpose for continuing to exist really is. Eren doesn't really get into fights now, and if he does get into trouble... it's not like I could always do what my job is supposed to be."
"Oh, Annie. You can't be referring to that time when Levi had to save Eren, are you?"
The alter kept mum at that, unable to meet their therapist's eye.
"Sweetheart, it's not your fault. I'm positively sure everyone could vouch for that. Stop beating yourself up over something you have no control in. If Eren ended up safe and happy despite everything that had happened, you should be too. You deserve it." Hanji consoled. "As to your purpose, I'm really not the one to dictate it since it's something you figure out on your own. But the way I see it, you are definitely helping the body stay fit and healthy, and that's not something you should belittle. It's difficult to maintain physical fitness when you're mentally struggling. And that holds true for everyone, not just people like you. So give yourself credit, Annie. You're a great alter, and I know everyone appreciates you."
Annie let the words sink in her head. Though she was still a bit skeptical and lost in existential crisis, Hanji's advise – along with Eren, Sasha, and Reiner currently acting like cheerleaders in her head – was making her feel somewhat better about herself.
"I guess." She sighed out. It is a tad difficult to always feel down when you have such an active support group, albeit, a rather small, small circle, but one she was very much grateful of.
They carried on with the session afterwards, with Annie fronting the entire time.
"Oh, by the way honey, can you tell the others I might not be available for a few months from now? But don't worry, if it's really needed, then just give me a call and I'll be there before you could even say 'pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis'."
Annie slightly frowned at the humor, yet she really was hardly surprised by it. "Why's that?"
"Because, dearie, Moblit would flip if I stress his spawn in the slightest." The brunette grinned, running a hand over her barely telling belly.
Hanji and Moblit had been married not too long after Eren and Levi had. Though apparently, it had taken them years to finally bear fruit of their love.
"Why is everyone getting pregnant nowadays?" Annie thought out loud.
"Huh? Who else is pregnant?" The bespectacled brunette asked in confusion.
"Historia had announced her pregnancy a few months back."
"Really? Do I know who the father is?" As Eren's therapist, Hanji practically knows the brunet's friends by now.
Had it been physically possible for the eyes to gouge out through the glasses, Hanji may have done just that in that moment.
"What?! Seriously?! My little mushroom actually has a mushroom down there? Why didn't he tell me? Now I'm upset. How could he have possibly forgot to tell me?" Hanji rambled out.
"Easy." The alter tried to placate, raising her hands for good measure. "Your little spawn won't appreciate it if you're stressed." She pointed out.
"You're right." The brunette conceded and took steadying breaths.
"Congratulations, by the way."
Though the tone may have been monotonous, Hanji knew Annie was sincere when she said that. "Thank you, sweetheart. Think catnip would be nicer to me now?"
"Unless it's Eren who's miraculously pregnant, let's not get out hopes up."
"Again, Annie... Even though you're left-handed, you're right." Hanji shook her head.
"Kitten, you're frowning." Eren playfully poked his husband's cheek.
"This is my face, Eren." Levi grumped out.
"You mean that's your 'I'm five seconds away from committing a murder spree' face."
"Can you blame me?" The raven sighed, running a hand through his slicked hair. "I don't care how long I've worked for this company. I still don't understand why this is necessary." He vaguely gestured to the packed hall where they were in.
After all, Levi Ackerman-Jaeger was never one for social gathering. Hell, showing his face in public is probably enough social interaction to last him for a day. So he could never comprehend why Commander Eyewin would always compel him to join these company gatherings. He sees these people everyday (or at least some of them), and party or not, he's still not inclined to talk to them about... what? The weather? The latest gossip in the Survey Corps' building? The biological explanation for Erwin Smith's eyebrows?
"Lee, you know it's not as bad as how you're conjuring it up in your head." Eren shook his head in amusement at his husband's sour expression. "Besides, I don't always get to see you all dolled-up for the occasion." He whispered seductively in the shorter man's ear.
"Careful, Eren. Or else all this dolling-up would go to waste." Levi shot back with a smirk.
They were wearing matching outfits of white shirts and charcoal vests, only that their ties correspond with the other's eye color, and Eren topped his with a suit jacket. Their black slacks and dress shoes were practically identical, too. Save for the irrelevant details of measurements.
"I'm not drunk enough to take you up on that offer." The brunet grinned, picking up two flute glasses from the table. "And you're gonna need this to loosen up." He handed one glass to the raven.
Levi took the offered glass appreciatively, swirling the liquid for a moment, before downing it in time with his husband. Honestly, his saving grace of enduring these company parties has always been no other than Eren (and co.). He could never imagine going to these type of events alone.
It took a while before the liquid courage started to kick in his system. But when it did, he did loosen up considerably. Enough to tolerate holding conversations with other people in the place, at least. They had a brief chat with Erwin and Mike at first before the blond's attention was sought by other people, and the couple's attention was diverted as well.
Eren had already got to know some of Levi's co-workers and found that they were generally pleasant people. Some he found a bit eccentric, but with Hanji's over-desensitization to him, it really wasn't something he couldn't handle. Of everyone, Eren liked Nanaba the most, so when he found her and got engrossed in a discussion with her, Levi was gently shooed away to socialize on his own.
"Love you!" Eren kissed him on the cheek before being pushed away to fend for his own in favor of talking to Nanaba.
Levi just sighed and made a beeline for the table for another glass of champagne. He knew he shouldn't be hiding behind his husband's back, considering he was the one who actually works for the company. But like hell he'd actually be the first to approach someone and initiate conversations.
It's a good thing not everyone shares his sentiments though, as all he had to do was stand there, and people would automatically think he was up for a chat. Irony is fun.
Meanwhile, in the middle of Eren and Nanaba's colloquy, the latter's attention was called by some other guy, and she had to politely excuse herself from the brunet. Looking around, Eren saw his husband in another conversation with two other guys and a girl, and he couldn't help smiling at the sight. His husband could be asocial at the best of times, but seeing him actually punch in the effort to try to step out of that makes Eren really proud of him.
He was brought out of his thoughts when a woman sidled up next to him, and gently tapped his shoulder for attention.
"Hi, I'm Carly. Carly Stratmann. And you are?" The woman with wavy light brown hair that matched the color of her eyes greeted, extending her hand out with a smile.
"I'm Eren. Eren Ackerman-Jaeger. Doesn't really roll off the tongue, but that's me." The brunet responded with a polite smile of his own, taking the offered hand.
"Oh, so you're Levi's spouse." Her eyes lit up in recognition. "I worked with Levi back when he was still in Trost, and have only been approved of my request to transfer in Sina a few months ago. I didn't know he was already married back then."
"Well, he wasn't. We were still just dating back then."
Carly had this look in her eyes that seemed like curiosity and something else Eren couldn't quite identify.
"You're quite handsome, Eren." She blurted out, catching the brunet completely off-guard.
"Ah, thank you." He scratched the back of his head sheepishly.
"Levi is very dashing too. I never would've thought he's gay, honestly." She threw in casually.
"Well, technically he's bi, but yeah."
"I'm the gay one." He admitted.
Carly regarded him for a while longer, but Eren could practically see the questions brewing in her mind.
"So, Eren... I heard you're sick?"
That was not a nice way to put it. But the way she dropped it so casually had Eren wanting to overlook that little detail. Some people tend to talk before thinking, after all. And he could relate to that to some extent.
"Well, uhh... it's more of a mental health condition, really." He started generally.
A lot of Levi's and his co-workers are pretty much aware of the vague details, and were pretty much polite about it. Only a few had bothered to probe Eren for more details, and once he gave them a name and a brief explanation, they were really just generally nice about it all. Which led Eren to be more comfortable talking about himself.
"So, like a brain disorder or something?" She asked innocently.
"So, what exactly is it?" She frowned a little in a mixture of curiosity and confusion. "Forgive me, I'm naturally curious to a fault." She added afterwards, trying to convey that she meant no offense.
Perhaps that little gesture of assurance was what led Eren to push his fears to the background.
"That's alright. If be lying if I said I can't relate to that, honestly." He let out a small laugh. "I actually have DID. Sorry, that stands for Dissociative Identity Disorder."
"Well... It's previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder."
"So, you... have different personalities?"
"Well, generally speaking, yes."
"How does Levi keep up with that? I mean, does he even know about it at all?"
That was not a nice implication, yet Eren deliberately chose to ignore it.
"He does. He's gotten to know them even before we started dating."
"My... other personalities."
"They have a name?"
"Yes. They have identities of their own." He was gradually getting uncomfortable, but Eren politely answered each of her questions as best as he could.
He's already used to the fact that the more answers he provided, the more questions pile up. Yet there was this nagging feeling at the back of his mind that tells him something isn't quite right. Perhaps it was the way she worded her questions. Perhaps they were coming off as invasive. But surely she doesn't mean anything bad about it, right? At least, that's what he wanted to believe.
That is, until their conversation took another turn.
"Well, Eren. I have to say, I'm honestly glad you're gay."
The brunet was once again caught off-guard by the remark. "Why's that?"
"Well, I mean... It would've been a concern if you had children of your own, right?"
No matter which angle he looks at it, there was no way she meant no harm by that. That certainly felt like a direct attack to his condition. Was she implying that he'd potentially reproduce... sick kids?
"Although, it is also a shame for Levi. Scary as he might be, I think he'd actually make a great father. He is a hardworking and dedicated man, after all. I wonder how he'd be like when handling kids? It's a pity we'll never get to witness that now." She continued.
At this point, Eren abruptly excused himself and hastily weaved his way through the crowd in search of solitude. The bathroom. That had been the first place that popped in his mind, yet his steps were already leading him there before he even fully processed it.
In his haste and muddled mind, he locked the men's restroom shut instead of seeking refuge in just a single stall. Luckily, the restroom was unoccupied at the moment, 'coz he really needs the whole space for himself. Fragments of memories assaulted his thoughts as his knees gave way and he slid down to the floor with his back on the door.
"Don't ever breed, faggot." had been a mantra he had to endure during high school.
"We don't need more retards like you."
'Stupid. Stupid. Stupid, Eren. Why are you dwelling on the past long over? I thought you were already past this.' He pounded on his head with aggravated fists.
He couldn't help dwelling over Carly's words. The fact that she indirectly told him not to reproduce, he could endure. But talking about the consequences it gave Levi was a whole other matter.
Levi always made him feel like they were standing equally on the same ground. That no one was weighing the other down. But a few words from a practical stranger wiped that sense of security away from him.
He knew he shouldn't let that happen, and that he'd come so far than he had been years ago. But with all his insecurities rearing in their ugly heads again, it was almost impossible to hold on to that shred of rationality.
He tried, really. He knew this wasn't a good time and place to break down. Yet in the end, he lost that battle. After all, when did his condition ever had the decency to be reasonable?
"Nanaba, where's Eren?" Levi approached as soon as he wondered why his husband hadn't gravitated back towards him.
"He's with Carly the last time I saw him." Nanaba looked around to see if she could still spot the brunet, to no avail. "Huh. Maybe someone else swooped him away. I'll tell him you were looking for him if I see him."
"Thanks." The raven muttered out before steering his way through the throng in search of his husband.
He knew Eren would never wander too far from him. So when he couldn't find the brunet in the likely areas that he would hang around, Levi guessed he could only be in the restrooms, or outside of the establishment.
Making his way to the toilets first, Levi was a bit surprised to find a small group of men loitering just outside the door.
"What's going on here?" He addressed the man closest to him.
"Oh, the male's restroom is locked for some reason. We don't know if someone's in there, but I think someone went to call the attention of a staff already." The man responded accordingly.
Levi pushed his way through the group until he was in front of the door. Pressing an ear to the hard wood, it was difficult to make out any sound coming from inside as the noises coming from his side were effectively interfering with that.
But the moment he heard a faint noise that very suspiciously seemed like a sniffle, he didn't hesitate to start knocking. Despite the less to no proof of who could be inside, Levi had a sinking feeling in his gut that he couldn't be mistaken in this one.
"Eren? Eren, it's me. Please open up." He called from the other side.
The wait was excruciating, regardless of how short it may have really been. And when the wooden plank made a move to open, Levi instantly barged his way in, locking the door behind him again.
The sight that greeted him was nothing short of concerning. Eren was on the floor with bloodshot eyes and tears that seemed to have been streaming down his cheeks steadily for hours now.
The raven immediately kneeled down in front of him, noticing that his husband's shirt had acquired some wrinkles on the chest area, and deduced it may have been through Eren pawing at his aching heart again. But for what reason, he could only wonder.
"Eren, talk to me. What's wrong?" He gently cupped the brunet's cheeks as a gesture of comfort and assurance, as well as an attempt to ground him if ever he needed it.
"It's nothing. I'm fine." Eren dismissed curtly, the waver in his voice betraying his words.
It was futile to hide things from the raven; impossible when it was blatantly obvious. But Eren couldn't bring himself to talk about it with his husband. Especially not in their current situation.
"No, it's not nothing. And no, you're not fine." Levi pointed out matter-of-factly. "Come on, love, tell me what happened." He cooed, the endearment rolling off his tongue naturally.
But Eren's stubbornness seemed to be in full force tonight as he resolutely shook his head and reiterated that he was fine. He wasn't. But Levi would let him be for now.
He waited patiently for the younger to collect himself, and was a bit startled when he suddenly snapped out.
"I'm fine, Mikasa! Don't."
Levi could only guess the alter was attempting to take over again, seeing as the host was heavily upset. But as established beforehand, Eren's stubbornness was definitely in full-force tonight. And that only fed his concern as for the reason behind.
Though as Eren fought hard against the switch that was bound to happen, he was only dragged further away as he did so.
"Shiiit." The brunet droned out, promptly burying his face on his knees, clutching his head by the sides the moment he snapped back in reality.
Levi had expected Mikasa to take over, and was mildly surprised when the current one was someone else. Judging by the tone, he assumed it was Jean.
"Hey, do you wanna go home?" He offered, something he would've done with Eren earlier had he not been too out of it.
The brunet took his time answering, simultaneously rubbing at his head and his chest as he tried to even out his breathing. Then, he absently shook his head.
"Eren doesn't want to." He backed-up the gesture with words and a tired sigh. "Don't ask me why, 'coz I don't have the faintest clue." He groaned out.
Now Levi definitely knew it was Jean. Probably for the much needed "voice of reason".
"How long have we been here?" Jean asked as he surveyed their surroundings.
"Long enough for other people to burst their bladders, I assume." The raven shrugged.
"Shit." Jean let out another sigh before finally standing up. Then his face promptly contorted into a frown as he caught his reflection in one of the many mirrors lining one side of the wall. "Well, fuck. I look like shit. I mean, Eren does, but they wouldn't be able to tell the difference."
He tried fixing himself up as best as he could, fumbling the most with his hair that was horribly dishevelled. Eren must have been pulling at it earlier.
"Let me." Levi offered when the alter couldn't quite do it efficiently enough. He would've preferred to comb it thoroughly, but with the very high possibility that people were starting to shit their pants (literally) outside, he didn't have such luxury.
They soon exited the restroom when the brunet was deemed presentable enough, muttering out words of apology – that didn't sound as genuine as they intended it to – to the men who had oddly been patient enough not to force their way in. They must have sensed something brewing on the other side of the door when Levi had slipped in. At least they were fortunately sensible to be so considerate.
It had been very awkward for Jean to be around people he barely recognize with the constant worry that he was looking like his pet dog had just died. And they don't even have a dog. Fortunately, Levi was plastered to his side the entire time, providing security and warding off unwanted questions with a single look.
With how muddled up his mind was and how heavy his chest weighed, Jean ultimately just wanted to go home. But considering how irrational Eren was currently being, he knew their host would throw a fit even if he was just doing what's right.
He felt like drowning in alcohol. Whether that was him wanting a counterweight to the stress, or Eren wanting to deluge his sudden bout of sorrow, he couldn't tell for sure. He found it quite difficult to resist the urge though, and ultimately succumbed to it.
"Mind telling me what wrong with you?" Levi asked as he casually took the 6th glass before the younger could down it.
"I don't know, man." Jean sighed, massaging his temples from the migraine he was getting both from the buzz he could feel from downing glass after glass in succession, as well as the unexplainable emotions that were coursing through him. "Eren's just really upset, I guess."
"Any guesses on why?"
Jean mulled over it for a moment, still nursing his throbbing head. "Either someone talked shit to him, or he had a flashback. Or both."
Levi hummed in agreement, taking a sip from the glass he just confiscated. He had a feeling it was more of the former, considering Eren refused to talk about it despite Levi already knowing about the flashbacks he goes through.
Why won't Eren talk about it, though? That's the real question that was at the forefront of his mind.
Can you feel the drama brewing in the air?
And here I thought this'll, generally, only have fluff and humor.
Chapter 6: Conjugal contentment (pt. 2)
Here comes the drama. (And fluff. And humor.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Days passed, yet Eren continued to refuse talking about the incident at the party. He reasoned once that it had just been another stupid flashback, but Levi couldn't bring himself to believe that was truly the case. Nonetheless, he didn't pry further so as not to upset his husband. He'll just wait until the headstrong man-brat comes around.
Levi also contemplated asking Carly what they had discussed over the party. But there were a couple of things that made him hesitate to do so.
One was that he wasn't sure if Carly was, indeed, the last person Eren talked to before breaking down. It would be wrong for him to go accusing the person without having solid grounds to stand on.
Another was that, he really didn't wanna talk to her. She was one of the many people he found annoying, even back in Trost. She tended to linger around his work area when he thought he (silently) made it clear he'd like to work in peace.
He wasn't entirely blind of her infatuation towards him. Hell, perhaps that was why he found her annoying in the first place. Woman can't say a single word without batting her eyelashes at him suggestively. She was quite pretty, sure (though Levi couldn't tell if it still holds true without the makeup on). But she really just wasn't his type.
His type is one with bright, emerald eyes who has a dazzling smile, and very interesting personality(ies). Someone who could drive him up the fucking wall 'coz he just won't fucking tell him what the fuck was wrong!
As much as Levi tried to subtly coax his husband to talk, Eren's stubbornness prevailed and the incident was eventually filed into history.
Months passed, and they finally received news of Historia's birthing. They promptly scheduled a leave of absence from their respective work places in order to travel all the way back to Trost to see their goddaughter.
Eren was vibrating with excitement that he burned himself out halfway through. Levi could only shake his head fondly at his husband, but was really more relieved that the brunet was being his enthusiastic self. And well, very much relieved that he was sleeping on the journey instead.
Arriving in Trost, Levi watched as Eren took in his surroundings with eyes filled with nostalgia. He wouldn't be surprised if he was mirroring that look, too. It had been a while since they've been here, after all.
The raven thought they'd be spending the first day holed up in their hotel room to recuperate from the long-ass travel, and save the visit for the next day. It was already getting dark, after all. However, he spent more energy than necessary bickering with his husband to submission.
The brunet wasn't entirely happy with the decision, yet he knew it was the more reasonable option (even though he won't admit that to himself). And funny enough, he was the first to be knocked out by the Sandman as opposed to the raven.
When morning came the next day though, Levi was surprised to be greeted by Sasha instead. He thought Eren's excitement would've allowed him to hold out. Then again, Sasha told him said brunet was still very close.
Sasha's presence may have also been needed, considering how little Eren ate the day before. Levi would've nagged as usual, but he didn't have the heart to subdue his husband's excitement.
He also didn't have the stomach to take in the truckload of "breakfast" the alter had ordered for them. They could probably feed an entire class of little children with the amount, and still have leftovers. Sasha begs to disagree, though.
Arriving at the blond's front door, Eren had successfully taken over again before they could even knock at the wood. It really seemed like he wanted to be the first one (in the system, at least) to actually see the baby. Something that didn't really surprise anyone at this point.
"Daddy!" Eren greeted as soon as Armin had opened the door.
The blond instantly cringed at that, shaking his head as he pulled his friend to a hug. "Eren, just don't." He muttered out.
Once they were ushered inside, Eren immediately darted his head every which way for any trace of a little human. On the other hand, Levi took to surveying the interior of the house instead. Not that he's trying to find a flaw, being observant is just his nature. And well, there wasn't really anything wrong that he could find. Maybe just a few clutter on some areas, but those were really more like traces of having a kid in the house.
"Honey, we've got visitors!" Armin called out.
It didn't take long before Historia was padding down the stairs, looking a bit sleep-deprived, yet more blooming than she ever had been before, as she carried a bundled-up infant in her arms.
"Hi, guys! I was starting to wonder if you'd even visit at all." She jested, pulling Eren into a one-arm hug as best as she could.
"Oh my heavens, Historia." The brunet remarked breathily, emerald eyes locked on the bundle in the blonde's arms.
The baby was awake and was staring back at the brunet with her own ocean blue eyes, constantly squirming in her mother's hold, her little mouth opening and closing despite no sound coming out.
"Holy shit, she's so beautiful."
"Don't cuss in front of the baby, Eren." Historia chided lightly, before turning her attention to her daughter. "Hey, Christa." She cooed, angling the baby a little upright to face the brunet. "It's Uncle Eren. Won't you say hi?" She bounced her a little as she talked.
Little Christa just continued to squirm, limbs flailing and mouth opening in her own little attempt to communicate. Eren looked like he was ready to burst squealing any second now. That cute, tiny cherubic face was doing unexplainable things to his poor heart.
"She really looks like you, Historia. I mean, Armin looks like you, too. But that's besides the point."
"I heard that." The blond piped up, his voice drifting from the direction of the kitchen. He must be preparing drinks for the guests.
"What's that? You want Uncle Eren to hold you?" Historia continued.
Teal eyes widened at her words and he was already stepping back on instinct, hands raised defensively. "No, Historia. I can't—"
"Oh hush, Eren. Look at her, she's practically reaching out for you." She cut him off.
"No, really. I don't think I can—"
"Of course, you can. Stop worrying and start being a good godfather."
Eren had to will himself to stop trembling as the baby was carefully placed in his arms. She looked so tiny, so fragile, so precious in his hold. He can't even begin to explain all the emotions that were coursing through him.
"Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit."
And he certainly didn't notice the string of curses that he was muttering out.
"Eren, don't cuss." Historia reminded.
"Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god." The brunet amended without even sparing a glance to any direction.
"Hello, other godfather." Historia chuckled, approaching the unattended raven with open arms.
Levi let himself be pulled to an embrace, promptly handing her the little present they brought once they broke away.
"What's this?" The blonde asked, mildly surprised that they actually brought something.
"Gift for the little dude." He explained briefly with a tilt of his head to the direction of his husband who was still completely mesmerized by the bundle in his arms.
"That's a she, Levi." Historia rolled her eyes with a chuckle, carefully tearing open the wrapper from the box.
She didn't notice how the raven had slightly frowned at that. In his defense, the baby was bald. But that's an observation he best kept to himself.
"Oh my gosh! This is so cute!" Historia squealed the moment she checked the contents of the box. It contained several baby costumes ranging from a cute little bumblebee to an apple. "Honey! Honey! Come look at these. Hurry!" She couldn't help calling her fiancé.
Armin instantly obliged, having just settled a tray of drinks and some pastry on the coffee table, before stepping in beside the shorter blonde.
"Oh, wow. I'm definitely gonna take pictures of Christa wearing those." He remarked. "They're still a little big on her, but she'll probably grow into them in no time."
"You get plus godfather points from Christa already for these." The blonde added.
Historia rummaged further on the box and fished out a knitted baby blue mermaid tail. "Oh my gosh! Where'd you get this?" She beamed excitedly at the raven.
"Mikasa made that. She's not sure how big the baby would be, but I guess she looked up average dimensions on the internet." Levi responded accordingly.
Armin pulled out the matching knitted baby pink seashell bra as the raven talked, which only made his fiancée even more giddy that he thought possible.
"Thank you so much! I really, really love them. Send my love to Mikasa."
She fawned over the presents for another moment, before finally putting them away with much reluctance. Actually, Armin had to take the box away from her to do that.
They found Eren still cooing at the baby. Still completely enamored by the wonder in his arms. Levi decided to join him a moment later, wanting to get a good look at his goddaughter as well. Although, just as Levi stopped beside his husband, Historia spoke up.
"Does Christa want to be held by her Uncle Levi, too?"
"No." He instantly refused with wide eyes.
"Come on, Lee. It's the most wonderful thing you'd ever experience." Eren encouraged, already tilting the infant very carefully so Levi could get a good look at those ocean blue orbs.
"No. Seriously, don't." Levi continued to refuse, worry starting to creep up to his expression. "I might drop it." He added for good measure. However, his husband merely scoffed at that.
"You could probably lift a two-ton barbell without breaking a sweat, and you're worried about dropping a two-pound baby?"
"Then I might accidentally crush—"
"You won't break her, Levi." Armin joined in, shaking his head in amusement.
It was really a treat to see the raven actually be scared for once. And from an infant, on top of that.
It took a lot of coaxing, but Levi finally agreed to hold the baby. He had to sit cross-legged on the floor, though. His first thought was actually lying prone on the floor so he could be ensured he wouldn't possibly drop the baby, but he had his dignity to protect, too.
He was clearly hesitant as Historia carefully placed the bundle in his rather stiff arms, and it seemed like he became still as a statue once the blonde moved away. Levi couldn't tear his eyes away from the tiny human, unable to identify the unfamiliar emotions filling his chest. The bundle kept squirming that, at the back of his mind, he was starting to worry if he was even holding her correctly. Probably not, considering he had no idea what he's doing himself.
"It's so light." He breathed out absently.
"Again, Levi. That's a she." Historia corrected.
Christa soon yawned out tiredly, and Historia suggested Levi to rock her to sleep. The raven refused at first and attempted to hand her back to her mother, but everyone else (
forced) encouraged him to do it instead. They were definitely enjoying Levi looking so lost and troubled.
However, contrary to that, Eren has actually never seen Levi's face so... completely soft before. So utterly tender. Most especially when Christa drifted off to sleep in his arms. Eren should've been really happy about this, but his fucked-up mind was remembering Carly's words, instead.
Levi seemed like a different person in the presence of a child. Hell, he'd actually gotten a glimpse of that way back during their honeymoon where his husband had been uncharacteristically patient enough to explain to a kid that there was nothing wrong with two men loving each other. He thought about the time Levi panicked when they thought Latte was pregnant. He thought about Levi being subtly nicer to Hanji after learning she was also pregnant. Then he thought about the possibility of Levi wanting kids of his own.
He never really voiced out about such desires though, nor even hinted at it. Was Levi constantly teasing him about "making babies" the hint that he had failed to notice all along? Was Levi just sparing him the stress of asking, knowing that he couldn't possibly raise a child when he's stuck with someone as dysfunctional as Eren?
"Hey, what's wrong? You look upset." He was snapped out of his thoughts by his husband kneeling in front of him, looking at him with worried eyes. "Did you want to hold the baby longer?"
"No. I mean, I do, but it's not that." Eren forced a little laugh. "I guess I'm just feeling out of it." He shrugged noncommittally.
Like he could fool his husband.
Nonetheless, Levi decided not to comment on it. Now would hardly be the time for that. They were here for their goddaughter, after all. That tiny bundle of happiness that was now sleeping peacefully in her crib barely 30 minutes after meeting her secondary parents.
The couple stayed the entire day in the blonds' residence, since this was what they really came all the way from Stohess for. When Christa awoke again and immediately bawled out her demand to be fed, Historia thought it'd be a great chance to let the godfathers try their hand in bottle-feeding her.
"It's a great way to bond with the baby." She reasoned cheerily.
However, this time, Levi insisted the task be given to Eren. Not because he doesn't want to (though that is partly the case), but because learning how to hold the infant and rock her to sleep had been enough anxiety to last him for the day.
Though truth be told, he really was just worried about his husband's strange behavior, and thought letting him hold the baby more would cheer him up immensely. And it did.
"Aww. You look like a real family like that." Historia cooed as she snapped a picture of the couple who were enthralled by little Christa.
Being flushed to his side, Levi felt his husband tauten up at the words. It was a very subtle reaction, but being so in-tune with the brunet for years had him noticing these tiny details. And when the brunet's mood fluctuated again by the time they were leaving, Levi just really had to ask.
"Eren, are you ever gonna tell me what's wrong? You've been having this odd behavior for months now." He started as they drove back to their hotel. "And don't bother denying it, brat. You're only wasting your breath."
Eren dragged his silence out. If Levi said he shouldn't deny it, then that certainly doesn't mean he couldn't keep mum about it. Besides, he did just say not to waste breath.
When the raven was sure his husband had no intentions in breaking the silence, he let out a deep sigh before parking the car safely on the side of the street. "Eren, look at me." He instructed firmly.
The brunet looked like he was silently groaning at the request, but ultimately did as he was told with much reluctance. He could see the worry swirling in those gunmental orbs of his the moment he made contact, and couldn't help breaking a little more inside at the sight. As much as he didn't want his husband to ask, he'd hate it more for his husband to (needlessly) worry about him, thinking he didn't deserve that. Though most of the time, those two – unfortunately – go hand-in-hand.
"You know you can tell me anything, right? Anything at all." Levi reminded softly.
"I know, I know." Eren finally caved in with a sigh. " It's just that, I'm not sure how to bring it up to you. Or if I even want to." He mumbled the last part out.
"Even if it doesn't make sense, I'm listening."
Eren took another moment chewing the insides of his cheek and willing himself to just say it. He knows the raven had never let him down when it comes to venting out his internal turmoils. But this... This was something else.
"Have you ever wanted a child of your own?" The words rushed out of his lips the moment a split-second surge of intrepidity flashed through him. And when that second passed, it was followed by dead air that seemed to stretch on for eternity.
Eren didn't know what the raven's silence depicted, yet his brain was already feeding him the worst possibilities. Not knowing what else to do, the brunet let out the thoughts he'd been nursing inside his head for some time now, unfiltered and raw.
"I've seen how you've dealt with kids, Levi, despite the fact that it only happens once in a blue moon. But then, I've seen the way you held Christa. I've seen the way you looked at her. And I can't help thinking if that's something you'd never admit to me: The thought of having your own kids. The thought of having a real family of your own. And you know what? I don't blame you. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry that you're stuck with a homosexual, mentally unstable mess whose capability of raising children may be deemed laughable. If it wasn't for me, maybe you could have—"
"Okay, stop." The ice in the raven's tone effectively pulled the handbrakes of Eren's mouth. Levi looked at him dead in the eye before breaking the contact with a heavy sigh. "I haven't even told you if I really wanted kids."
"You don't have to. I can sense it by now."
The raven didn't bother denying that, rather resorted to lightly drumming his hands on the steering wheel as he gathered his thoughts. Before he has formulated the right words though, Eren absently said something that caught him completely off-guard.
"I'm just thinking maybe you're better off without me."
His head whipped into his direction so fast it was a miracle he hadn't twisted his own neck. "Why would you say that? What're you even trying to say?" He asked incredulously.
But the brunet didn't answer and rather gave him a look that seemed to say, "You know the answer to that."
But no, Levi really doesn't. And putting his guesses out, he didn't want to be right.
The silence and tension that was concentrating in the cramped space of the car was practically suffocating. Perhaps that was why the raven decided to start up the car again and drop the conversation like that.
Busy with keeping his emotions in check and holding the tears in, Eren didn't notice where his husband had driven them to. He just wanted to curl up in bed and hope someone else would take over come morning.
He didn't expect that they'd stop by a park. The park that they had frequented back in the days.
Levi wordlessly held him by the arm and steered him to the direction of an unoccupied bench. This was the very bench where they decided to officially put a brand in their relationship. Eren couldn't believe he'd still be able to see it to this day.
They sat in silence for a while, with Levi collecting his thoughts once more. Eren could tell the exact moment his husband finished his thought process, evidenced by the way he took in a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"In spite of your condition, I vow to love you unconditionally." He started, before turning to face the brunet. "Remember when I said those exact words, Eren?"
Though Eren could never tell what words his husband had in store for him everytime something like this happens, he never would have anticipated the raven would start like that. And though he had been asked a question, he could only stare dumbly in response.
"I meant them before, and I meant them now. I didn't exactly say those words for the sake of dramatics, Eren. It's my vow, for god's sake. And I'll be damned if time and circumstance would render it void and meaningless." Levi continued, each word spoken with conviction. "I know what I've gotten myself into when I dated you all those years ago. And of course, I fucking know what I'm getting myself into when I married you. And guess what? I still don't regret any of those decisions I've made. Not then, not now, not ever. How about you?"
At this point, Eren was already failing to keep the tears in. Seriously, when will this man ever stop making him cry?
"Being married to you is a choice I would never ever regret." Eren stated almost solemnly despite the sniffles, reiterating his own vow from years yonder. "But being a burden to you is—"
"No." The raven immediately cut him off. "You're not, Eren. You never were."
"I vowed to be your pillar of support, but—"
"But nothing." His tone left no room for arguments. "You, Eren Ackerman-Jaeger, are my pillar of support as much as I am yours. And it's in times like this when that's put to the test. So, if you give up on me now..." He trailed off, letting his forehead drop to one of the brunet's shoulders. "I'll fucking crumble, Eren."
The way he said those last words – so small and vulnerable – was what did it for Eren. He never meant for his husband to feel like this. To make it seem like he was being abandoned. He could never have the heart to do that. No matter what happens, he could never imagine being away from Levi. If anything, he had always thought that, between them, if there was someone who could walk away, then it would be Levi. He's pretty sure the raven could manage without having some mentally unstable brat weighing him down. But as it turns out, he was wrong. Little did he know Levi had said something similar to Erwin all those years back.
"Eren is not entirely dependent on me, and I'm not entirely independent of him."
A very subtle confession that Levi needed Eren just as much.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." The brunet apologized, holding his husband flush against him.
He continued apologizing profusely through tears even as the raven had repeatedly told him it was alright. It took a while, but Levi soon coaxed the brunet to calm down.
"Eren, do you wanna have kids?" It was his turn to ask.
Eren was a bit surprised hearing his own question being asked to him. Nevertheless, it was a question he had spent a long time seeking the answer to.
"Well, I know it might still be a bit early, but we're not getting any younger, and Latte could only play the part for so long until the reality of her being a cat kicks in." Eren gave a little chuckle at that. "Then again, I'm not sure how I'd be as a parent. And it's going to be difficult explaining to a child about my condition. If we'd even tell them that. What if other kids make fun of them because of me? I don't want that to happen." He sighed.
"Well, if anything, I'm no more confident in my potential parenting skills than you are." Levi threw out.
"Well, at least you're not mentally ill like me." He muttered with a hint of bitterness. "I'm sure you'll do just fine. Like I said, I've seen you around kids."
"Eren, if you're just gonna use your condition as a reason, then at least take into account that you were able to graduate college and get a degree, as well as the fact that you have a stable, well-paying job that you actually like. I've also seen the way you interacted with kids, you know? So, what makes you any less better than other folks out there? What makes you any less better than me?"
"Stop, you're gonna make me cry again." The brunet jested, raising his head up and blinking the tears away.
"Besides, you know better than anyone what it's like to struggle as a child." The raven continued, even so. "Surely you'd take extra measures not to let another kid feel like that in any way possible. Wouldn't that already make you a potentially damn good parent?"
"Right back at you, Lee." Eren shot back. "You're speaking for yourself as well in that one."
Levi looked like he wanted to disagree, yet doing so would only make him a hypocrite. "I guess." He muttered out, instead.
Silence draped over them once again. Yet this time, it was under a pensive yet comfortable atmosphere.
"Do you wanna adopt?" Levi blurted out, breaking the spell.
Even though, at the back of his mind, Eren could tell this was where their conversation was heading to, he was still stunned that his husband had suggested it himself.
"Or do you wanna go back and smuggle blondie's bambino to Sina?" The raven added, attempting to add a lighter tone in their conversation. Which did help.
"And have Historia go ape-shit and butcher us? No thanks." Eren chuckled. "But... I... Honestly, I do want to. But I think we're gonna need a lot of preparations for that. I still need to ask for professional advice from Hanji, too. I don't exactly believe raising a child could equal to raising Latte."
"Agreed." Levi hummed. "One step at a time. Like you said, it's still a bit early. For us, at least. But I'm sure we'll manage to do that if we really want to."
We. The clear indication that they were in this together effectively dampened his worries. Levi would never leave him alone in this one. He would never leave him alone in general.
"You should also talk about this stuff with the others, by the way. We never know what their thoughts about this matter would be."
"Don't worry, I'm already planning to do that, as soon as I could. If anything, I think Mikasa would be thrilled. She has some strong maternal instincts, after all."
"Then, she'd be a huge help if ever that happens. See? You're condition isn't all that bad." The raven pointed out.
"I guess." Eren smiled genuinely this time. "I'm just lucky my alters and I have gotten along so well that we're able to function more efficiently than before. I mean, not to talk shit about Ymir, but if she had continued with her... ways back then, then I probably would be scared shitless of even considering about adopting a child."
"Hey, things are gonna be okay." Levi assured, grabbing hold of the brunet's hand in support. "Just don't ever say shit like I'm better off without you again. You almost gave me a fucking heart-attack, thinking you were considering divorce."
It really was a wonder how Levi didn't spiral into a breakdown after hearing those words. He really thought Eren meant that he wanted a child of his own blood, and therefore, was contemplating a divorce to achieve that with someone else. Completely forgetting about the brunet's sexuality in his shock.
"I'm really sorry. I'd never do that to you." Eren pulled his husband into another embrace again, the raven's head buried in his chest. "I don't even think I'll ever be able to do that."
Even though it was something they both had secretly been wanting for a while, they were finally taking steps on adopting a child. They were finally going to be a real family. Granted they were still barely at the planning phase, but that was a lot better than nothing. At the very least, both of them showed willingness and desire of the same thing.
"I love you." Eren breathed out absently, completely helpless to the amount of affection he felt for the man.
After all this time, he couldn't believe it was possible to feel the same devotion for someone as he had the first time they got together. But here they were, only going stronger throughout the years. It takes impressive amount of effort and dedication, sure. And it'd be a flagrant lie to say their relationship had been smooth-sailing the entire time. Arguments do break out, and even if the better choice was to avoid them and just give in for the sake of the other and for the relationship, sometimes, you really have to fight... for the sake of the other and for the relationship.
It's not going to be easy, but it would all be worth it in the end.
"I love you too, Eren." The raven gave a soft smile before caressing his cheek, and pulling him in for a gentle kiss like it was their first time all over again.
If you're wondering when Levi said those words in his conversation with Erwin, it's in chapter 41 of OBNTS. If you remembered it yourself, well props to you, mate! Consider me impressed. :D
On another note though, where can I possibly get myself a Levi? *sigh*