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Since his promotion four months ago, most of Armin’s time had been taken up with deskwork, senior meetings, and formal dinners. What little left of it was spent on sleeping (Eren hoped), eating (Eren hoped again), and preparing for senior meetings. Everyone had joked about the perks of being the commander’s aide, but Eren’s job as part-squad leader and part-test subject was far more accommodating. He, at least, got days off.

This did mean that very little of their free time coincided. Even their stations were rarely the same: Armin was often being carted around Sina while Eren was holed up in HQ. So, when Eren received notice of his return that afternoon, it was only because of Mikasa’s warning that he allow Armin some time to rest and settle in that he bothered waiting at all. The hour might as well have been torture.

The necessity for travel meant Armin's room was sparse. Two chairs stood either side of his desk; on it, a pile of papers four fingers tall, an opened letter, and an ink well. Most exciting—to Eren, at least—was Armin himself. He was sat on the opposite side of the desk, pen in hand, and so absorbed in his paperwork that he didn't notice Eren was even in the room till the door clicked shut.

“Eren!” Armin said, and in an instant he was up from his seat. Eren caught him halfway around the desk. The hug was natural, expected, and Eren was a creature of habit. He tucked his head in against Armin's shoulder and took in the familiar soap smell of his hair.

“I missed you,” Eren said. His mouth was nearly at Armin’s ear, and Armin gave a little shiver at the brush of his lips there.

It had been two weeks since he’d seen Armin last. And now, he looked no different—good, actually, a little tinged by tiredness, but fresh out of a shower his skin was clean and dewy-warm, hair pulled back in a damp tail. The collar of his shirt was streaked by the wet tendrils that had escaped.

Armin stepped back to regard Eren straight on, hands bracketing his elbows. “I missed you too,” he said. Then, he tipped forward and pressed a fierce kiss into the corner of Eren’s mouth.

Distance or time spent apart had never upset their relationship. Eren still found relief in that: he feared change in spite of its inevitability, as sure as the shifting tides that Armin still spoke of, simply because constants were so rare in his life. Armin was one of the few. The way he felt and fit around him was, thankfully, the same as always. Eren could imagine the curve of his waist, the dust-soft skin at the small of his back, but nothing could ever compare to the real thing right in front of him. The longing he'd tamped down for the past two weeks came back in a rush—the urge to shell Armin out of his shirt, to remind himself of every quirk and angle and sensitive spot of his body, was near overwhelming. Still...

Eren’s gaze slid to the desktop. “You look swamped,” he said, trying not to sound miserable and failing.

Armin just smiled, though, and smoothed down Eren's lapels with his fingers. The domesticity of the touch bloomed a warmth in his chest.

“I’ve been working non-stop since I left. I think it can wait,” Armin said, and kissed him again, this time with an obvious hunger. He nipped at Eren’s bottom lip and drew away the tiniest bit; in the air between them, he whispered, “God, I want you.”

The words cut through him as a stone dropped through water. Eren’s hands slipped down the familiar slope of Armin’s back, cupping his ass and the back of his thighs before pulling Armin into him as near as he could manage. Slotted piece-to-piece, like one of those wood puzzles Armin kept in his drawer.

“Fuck, Armin,” Eren said. He was almost dizzy with him in such close proximity, alive and thrumming under his touch. “I want you too…”

Armin drifted from him. He took Eren’s shaking hand in his and led him through the side door to his private bedroom (that particular perk they’d all been jealous of). The bed was immaculate, having gone unused for the past two weeks of his absence, though the room smelled only of Armin and the winter cold.

“It feels like it’s been forever,” Armin said. He eased Eren’s jacket off his shoulders, then pulled at the hem of his top; Eren lifted his arms obediently. Now stripped to the waist, Armin paused to place a pale hand flat against his chest. Quietly, he said, “... You’re so beautiful.”

“You’re the beautiful one.” Eren was nearly fervent. “I’m going to treat you so good, Armin. I swear.”

Armin smiled again, indulgent, as he stepped back. With a patience that had always escaped Eren, he undid the buttons of his shirt and hung it over the bedpost.

He really was beautiful. Pale, bruised and scarred in places, the rise of them highlighted by the flickering gaslamp. Eren knew his lack of muscles frustrated Armin at times, though he had never minded. Armin was wiry, undeniably strong albeit less so than some—but he had this kind of softness, too, that Eren loved. He ran his hands up Armin’s bare arms, watching the gooseflesh come in answer to his touch. When Armin’s hands dropped to undo the fastenings of his trousers, Eren stopped him.

“Let me do it,” he said. Armin’s eyes widened a fraction, but he nodded and let Eren lay him back on the bed.

His breathing came deep and uneven as Eren crawled over him. His fingers traced the warm seam over his groin. As quick as he could manage, Eren popped the button, then the hook and eye fastening; he could feel Armin growing hard from that alone. Well, Eren thought, and grazed his erection with his knuckles.

“Oh, god,” Armin breathed.

Eren looked up at his face. Eyes half-lidded and glassy, cheeks flushed. The muscles of his abdomen jumped at every minute touch.

“Sensitive?” Eren asked. He dragged his knuckles back and forth.

Armin barely had enough sense to nod. “It’s been a while.”

Eren backed away, patting Armin’s thigh in lieu of an apology as he slid into a kneel at the side of the bed. Armin came easy with his guiding touch, letting Eren reposition him so his legs dangled off the edge of the mattress. Even though his job was more behind a desk than on the field these days, Armin still had to wear the knee-high uniform boots. For that, Eren was grateful: the polished leather sheathed and defined the curve of his slim calves. Eren almost didn’t want to take them off—but it would make divesting his trousers all the more difficult, so he squirrelled the idea away for some other time and set back to the task at hand. It took some fumbling before the complex laces came undone. Armin watched, silent, transfixed, as Eren pulled off his boots, then the woolen socks. Tendons shifted beneath the spread of his palm. He hooked Armin’s slender foot over his shoulder, and kissed the bony ankle. There was strength here, too, a quiet sturdiness born of hard graft. His skin was hot as though warmed by the sun.

“What are you doing?” Armin said, cocking his head. It was fond rather than scathing or confused.

Eren smiled up at him. “I told you. I'm going to treat you…” His finger traced the sensitive arch of Armin’s foot, the heel. Armin let out a surprised moan. “You deserve it. Hell, it's the least you deserve.”

Armin’s chest rose and fell. He took a great inhale, and said, a little sheepish, “I don't know about that.”

“Well, I do,” Eren said. He stood from his kneel and reached for the waistband of Armin's trousers, tugging them free, teasing at the crease of Armin's thigh as he did so. His fingers skirted about the shape of his cock through his briefs. “And you're just going to have to take my word on this one.”

“Don’t I always, in the end,” said Armin. He sounded sly, if breathless, which was infinitely preferable. “I’m not sure I agree with you still being dressed, though.”

Eren grinned. “Yessir,” he said, bracing his fist against his heart before shucking off his own trousers.

The mattress dipped under their combined weight. For a while, side by side, Eren stared at his lover. The sweet curve of his nose. His jaw, which was more defined now than it used to be. Armin’s mouth red and shiny from all the kissing. The fine nesting of gold hairs just below his navel. Eren had never wanted anyone so much in all his life, and could hardly believe he was allowed to have it. This was a revelation he had every time him and Armin reunited: the world, for all its confusions and horrors, fell away for just a moment. Little else seemed to matter but the boy before him.

“I love you,” Eren said. It came out a little broken.

Something in Armin’s gaze shifted, softened. “I love you too.”

His hand came up to cradle the tender spot at the base of his skull as Armin pulled him into a kiss. The tentative swipe of his tongue against Eren’s bottom lip lit something up in his stomach, and it grew deeper, open-mouthed, teeth clacking like they were cadets again. Eren rolled them over so he was settled on top, caging Armin in with his hands, his knees. His lips slowly traveled downward. He mouthed at Armin's throat, sucking hard where the bone sat so close to the skin in the hopes of leaving a mark. Armin’s pulse fluttered against the even edge of his teeth; Eren left a damp trail as pressed hot kisses over his neck and chest, pausing only to circle one of Armin's nipples with his tongue. He flicked his thumbnail against the other, and Armin moaned softly, hips lifting up off the bed. Eren could feel the precum soaking through his underwear as Armin rutted against him. Vicious arousal tugged in his belly like a fishhook.

“I meant it,” Eren said, muffled with his lips against Armin’s naked skin, “you're beautiful. Especially—especially like this.”

His teeth glanced over Armin’s flat stomach, and then the rise of his hipbone, as Eren slid lower. Armin’s hips canted in desperate anticipation, cock nudging at Eren’s chin, blood-hot. Eren could feel Armin’s eyes on him. He waited a few long seconds, then ducked his head to suck at Armin's erection through the thin fabric of his underwear. The reaction was instant. Armin yelped, fist closing tight in Eren's hair and pulling.

Eren sucked him for a few more moments, lazy, warm and wet, as Armin squirmed. His teeth were sunk into his lip, but helpless little sounds escaped him every time Eren dragged his tongue across the head of his cock, where the dampness was most apparent.

“So noisy,” Eren breathed.

“... Sorry,” Armin said. His free hand was halfway to his mouth before Eren shook his head.

“Don't be. You know I like to hear you.” He rubbed his cheek against Armin's clothed erection, listened for the telling hitch of his breathing. “You close?”

Armin gasped out a yes, and then a miserable no as Eren drew away—but he looked so blissed out that Eren was sure he didn’t really mind. Instead, he dragged Armin's underwear off his hips and tossed them to the floor. His cock, swollen and slick, bobbed against his flushed stomach.

“You’re going to kill me,” Armin said. At his sides, his fists clenched and unclenched.

Eren laughed. Armin choked out a whimper at the hot huff of breath against his aching cock.

“I hope not,” Eren said. Then, a little hesitant, “You okay to keep going?”

Armin paused, then nodded, wetting his lips. “What about you, though?” he said. He reached down to brush the sweat-damp hair from Eren’s forehead.

“This is about you,” Eren told him, leaning into the gentle touch, “for you.”

He took Armin’s hand from his temple and, pressing it to his lips, kissed the cool flats of his nails, his knuckles, his fingertips. There was ink set into his writer's calluses. And still, as Eren's thumb stroked the flesh of his palm, the hard evidence of the maneuver gear's grips remained. A trained soldier as much as an excellent scholar. The singularity of Armin's body never failed to impress him.

“And besides,” Eren went on, parting his thighs and giving himself a few lazy strokes, “it’s not like I’m not enjoying it too.”

Armin’s brow knitted. Eren could see the argument in the furrow there, and decided to stop it before it could take shape. Luckily, he knew just how to distract him. Armin laughed in surprise as Eren hoisted him up, broad hands splayed under his thighs, though it quickly veered into a gasp when Eren laved his tongue against him. It dragged over the tender underside of Armin's cock, his balls, and then to the achingly sensitive skin just behind.

Unh, fuck!” Armin moaned.

He arched wildly. Eren propped his knees in against Armin's back and brought his hands to the cleft of his ass, the angle better for what he had planned. He pried Armin apart with his fingers, dipping his head lower. Then, he swiped the flat of his tongue in against him.

Armin startled. He gasped. And, as though in delayed realisation, his thighs clamped either side of Eren's head on reflex. “Eren, that's—!” was all he could manage before Eren stole his breath again, lapping at him in earnest.

His hips stuttered in the air, kept in place by Eren's grip, the muscles of his back and thighs flexing as Eren screwed him with his tongue. He worked it deep to coax his willing body open. The noises Armin was making were new—shivery, a whine at the edge of every intake of breath—and Eren reveled in them, heat coiling in his groin, his belly, his chest. He drove his tongue as far as it would go and gave an experimental hum, low in his throat. This seemed to be Armin's undoing: he seized up, thighs trembling beneath Eren's firm hold, sobbing like he was coming.

Whoops, Eren thought. Though when he lifted his head to check, Armin's cock was still hot and hard and leaking, his belly streaked only with precum. Armin himself stared up at Eren between his legs, unseeing, struggling for breath. His body was bright with a sheen of sweat. In the wan light of evening, he was other-worldly, coloured silver.

Eren gently kneaded the flesh of his thighs, and said, “Almost there.” Armin’s boneless body went easy—pliant as wet clay by now—as Eren lowered him back flat to the bed, smoothing his hands up and down the straining muscles. As Armin's breathing began to even out, he reached for the bedside table. Armin's fist closed around his as he came up with the bottle of oil.

“Don’t,” he said, hoarse.

Panic froze the air in Eren’s chest. “—What?”

Armin shook his head, eyelids fluttering shut. “I need a minute. If you touch me now, I’ll explode.”

A beat passed.

“Oh,” Eren said. Relief flooded him and he laughed with it. “I was worried I’d pushed you too far!”

“Not you,” Armin said, and he squeezed Eren’s hand in his, “never you.”

How he could sound so genuine and tender while looking so wrecked was beyond Eren. All he could do was nod in quiet awe. He poured some oil into his hand and wasted no time in slicking up his cock. Armin lay there, hips rolling just a little as he watched Eren touch himself. His tongue darted out to wet his lips.

“Enjoying the show?” Eren said, arching an eyebrow. Armin smiled drowsily at him. His eyes were dark and glossy like the night had wore in. Waters undisturbed.

“Very much. It's not exactly helping me calm down, though.”

A crest of pleasure was starting low in his belly, and Eren had to fight the urge to bring it to its peak. The need to be in Armin was too great, a hunger that burned in his bones. After a pause that allowed them both to regroup, Armin nodded for him to continue, spreading his legs in wordless invitation.

The oil warmed in Eren's hot palm. He settled back in between the cradle of Armin's thighs and rubbed the slick against the seam of his backside, then deeper, coaxing gently till Armin pushed back into his touch. He was already so relaxed, so hot, so ready for him, that Eren couldn't help but groan. He pumped in two fingers at once, fingering Armin open with firm, steady strokes. Hands clutched at Eren where they could reach. Armin arched at the addition of a third finger, breathing ragged, ribs shuddering.

“Ready?” Eren asked. There was sweat running down the back of his neck. He was impatient, he knew he was, but Armin was rocking back, fucking himself on Eren’s fingers right down to the knuckle and slick was spilling hot down his wrist and this was all just—unbearable.

“Yes, Eren, now, please,” Armin said, voice thick.

Eren took a fortifying breath. His cock throbbed on just the edge of painful as he pressed against Armin—already the heat of him was incredible, almost staggering. Slowly, evenly, Eren pushed forward in one smooth motion. Armin exhaled a laboured oh as his hips came flush to Armin's ass.

“Fuck,” Armin hissed. He tightened around Eren's cock like a vise, his own erection twitching.

Eren's mouth was dry. Armin's perfect body taking him like this, so readily, so greedily. As natural as if they were made for this. Again, unbidden, the memory of the two wooden puzzle pieces came to mind.

“Do you think you could come from just this?” Eren said, breathless, dizzy with arousal and the heady warmth of the room. Armin pulsed around him. "From just my cock inside you?"

Armin didn't answer. He was gripping the sheets so hard his knuckles were whiter than the linen and when Eren rolled his hips, still seated so fully within him, Armin made a soft, broken sound. His hands reached blindly for Eren's wrists. Armin held him so tight it was like he was afraid to let go.

“Breathe, Armin,” Eren said. His eyes swept over Armin's parted mouth, the muted flush that had spread all the way down his chest. His hair had come free from the tie and fanned out over the pillow, damp still. Armin had let it grow long. “So hot,” he murmured, the reverence obvious in his voice. “You're perfect.”

Armin's lashes fell low over his eyes. Barely slitted open, all Eren could make out was the wide, impossible blackness of his pupils blown out.

“Eren,” Armin said, “oh, god…”

Eren could tell he was coming undone. He grabbed Armin's hands and pressed them either side of his head, fucking him deeply. Armin's body tightened, bowing to take Eren to the root, and in doing so the half light caught all the lovely angles of his face. Eren felt his insides swell with something more than just the arousal. Even without trying, Armin could reach inside him and twist him up like rope.

“Oh, there,” Armin gasped suddenly, and Eren focused on the angle of his thrusts, driving in hard where Armin's breath escaped him in a hiss. “Yes—!”

And then, there, he felt it: the deep, full shudder of an orgasm that had Armin curling, arching, bending his body to an impossible peak as it robbed him of sense. The muscles of his jaw tensed as he tried to keep the shout in against his teeth, but his whole body was screaming, seizing Eren so tight it almost hurt. Armin tossed his head back against the pillow as he came. It spilled hotly over Eren's stomach and his own, streaking the immaculate sheets. In the aftermath, the spasms rocking him still, Armin made a raw and strangled sound.

The display left them both panting. Eren throbbed, ached, still buried inside him—it was only moments away, now. He pressed his hot forehead to Armin's damp one and let his body seek its release, thrusting without rhythm or gentleness.

He sank in deep one final time. Eren came with the blood roaring in his ears, in his veins, in the marrow; and though it paled to Armin's own, Eren had never felt so split open and so awed in all his life. He had just enough energy to slide out and drop heavy at Armin’s side. He was still breathing hard, chest heaving, staring up at the ceiling through the hair plastered to his face. The sight of him so utterly fucked out made a weak pang of arousal start in Eren's belly.

Gradually, he calmed, and fixed his gaze on Eren's. Armin was silent for a long, deliberate moment.

“Have I just made one of the commander’s most eloquent speakers speechless?” Eren said, grinning at him. Armin laughed at his cheek.

“... A little,” Armin conceded, and turned on to his side with obvious effort. He played absently with Eren's hair. “I wasn't expecting that kind of welcome.”

Eren remembered the hot kiss Armin gave him earlier, back in the office. The low whisper against his mouth. I want you. Even well after the fact, it made his insides coil with quiet pleasure. “But you started it,” he said.

Laughter again. Eren's stomach did a hopeless flop at the sound of it.

“Maybe,” Armin said, and fonder, lower, “but I meant more—the intensity of it, of you.”

“If there was the time, I would always treat you like that.” Eren swallowed hard. “I was serious when I said that you deserve it.”

“I think that really would kill me,” Armin said, his tone teasing, "and besides, that wouldn't be fair to you." His fingers traced the fine bone of Eren's clavicle, and he continued in a whisper, “In fact, perhaps tomorrow I shall fob that paperwork off on a subordinate and give you the same courtesy that you gave me today.”

Eren grumbled. “It wasn’t meant to be trade-off—”

Armin interrupted him with a jab to the chest, though it lacked any real viciousness. “I know. But it's the least that you deserve,” Armin said, parroting Eren's words back at him, “and I won't stand for any argument.”

“You make a persuasive point,” Eren said. He smiled despite himself. “Is this how you get us such great deals on supplies? Your charm offensive really is a weapon of the war.”

Armin swatted his arm. “No work talk in bed,” he chided, and as though to make up for it, leant in to kiss him deeply on the mouth. Eren ached at his gentleness.

“Understood,” Eren said, once they parted. “Bed's are only good for sex and sleep anyway.”

Armin hummed in happy agreement. He closed his eyes. “Mm. That sounds good right now.”

Eren nudged closer, pulling Armin in so he was tucked under his chin. It hid his grin from view, though it must have been obvious in his voice.

“Really? After all that? You're insatiable.”

A sigh huffed warmly over Eren's chest, but he could feel the press of Armin's smile there, too. “Please. You know what I mean.”

Eren glanced down at the blond head of hair nestled in against him. His naked shoulders, and the neat column of his spine. The air now smelled warm, of him and Armin, the aftermath of their coupling. His hands came around Armin's waist. The shape of him was familiar even as Eren closed his eyes, and the comforting brink of a dreamless sleep was nearly upon him. Eren welcomed it.

“Yeah,” he said, “I know exactly what you mean.”