Looking back on it, Levi should have appreciated Isabel more during the last two years. After Rika had died, she started helping him out by watching Mikasa for him while he worked. But now Isabel's husband, Farlan, was getting transferred by his job out of state, and Levi could hardly beg her to stay just so he wouldn't lose his babysitter.
So now he was scrambling to find a daycare for his daughter by the end of the month.
He was in the latest one, Rose Daycare, half-listening to the director, Ms. Brzenska, list the services of the facility. The other half of his attention was taken by a young man practically pleading with one of the other workers.
"Are you sure there aren't any afternoon shifts open, Miss Petra? All my classes this semester are in the morning."
"I'm sorry, Eren. The only shifts we have open are the morning ones."
The young man sighed. "It's okay. I could probably always go back to work at the coffee shop again." He grimaced at that.
Levi pulled his attention back to the woman seated at the desk in front of him just as she was coming to the point he was most interested in - the cost. "Now, Mr. Akerman, our weekly rate for five days of care including pick-up from school is one hundred dollars. Non-school weekdays, such as holidays and snow days, are an additional twenty dollars per day, and weekends are fifty dollars per day. During summer vacation, our weekly rate is one hundred fifty, but that does not include pick-up. Are there any questions?"
Levi sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose as he made the mental calculations. It was cheaper than the other places he'd checked, but still... "That's almost as much as my rent. In fact, the summer rate is more than my rent." He stood and held his hand out for the short-haired woman to shake. "Thank you for your time, Ms. Brzenska, but I'm afraid it's simply out of range for me at this time."
He was walking back to the car when he heard a baritone voice behind him shout, "Hey! Wait a minute!"
Levi stopped and turned, raising an eyebrow as the young man he'd noticed earlier trotted up to him. He was, unsurprisingly, a good six inches taller than Levi. He had long-ish brown hair pulled back in a messy ponytail and bright green eyes that looked almost blue in the sunlight. Levi tilted his head (fuck, he hated always having to look up at everyone) and asked, "Yes? Can I help you?"
The man shifted his weight a little from one foot to the other. "Um, sorry, I couldn't help overhearing you in there. You're looking for a babysitter for the afternoon, right? Well, I'm free in the afternoons. I actually worked here last semester, but my schedule didn't work out this time. I could do it for ten bucks a day."
Levi's other eyebrow shot up to join the first. Over the past few weeks, he'd gotten a crash-course in just how expensive child care was in their state, and this young man (Eren, he remembered the woman saying) was steeply undercutting the going rate. "That's awfully cheap. What's the catch?"
Eren grinned. "Well, I am a broke college student. A broke college student that's eaten nothing but ramen for the last week straight. And mac n' cheese the week before that. Tell you what, you can throw in dinner every night if that'll help you feel less like you're taking advantage of me." He laughed lightly, his breath puffing out in a cloud of steam in the cold air.
"You'd need to be able to pick my daughter up from school, even if you watch her at my place."
"I have a car."
Levi contemplated him a moment. He seemed earnest enough, but this was still his daughter he was talking about. "Give me your number, kid. I'll think about it, but I'd like to talk to the people here before I make a decision."
Eren nodded, quickly fumbling out his cell phone. "Of course! I totally understand Mr., uh..."
"Just Levi's fine."
"Right." Eren quickly rattled off his number, and, after Levi texted him to make sure he'd gotten it right, the young man walked off with a wave. "Bye, Levi! Talk to you soon!"
Levi snorted to himself as Eren disappeared from sight. "Optimistic brat."
He found out from Petra that Eren was a hard worker, great with the kids, and trustworthy. He also found out that he was studying to be a Special Needs teacher.
Less than twenty-four hours later, Levi was dialing the newest number in his contacts list.
"Hey, kid. Would you be able to do a trial run Monday?"
Picking up Mikasa went smoothly, although that was mostly thanks to the presence of Isabel, Levi's old babysitter. The cheerful redhead took Eren to the office of Mikasa's school first to get him authorized to pick her up in the future, and then she'd called over the small, black-haired girl when the children were released. They'd driven back to Levi's apartment together, and then Isabel had handed the spare keys to Eren with a smile. "Here you go. If you've got any questions or problems, my apartment is right across the hall." She squatted down until she was eye-level with Mikasa. "Okay, kiddo, now you be good for Eren until your Papa gets home, alright?"
The little girl gave a small nod, and Isabel stood back up, disappearing into her apartment with a wave, leaving Eren and Mikasa alone for the first time. He looked down at Mikasa, and she looked up at him silently, her large, dark grey eyes unreadable. Eren sighed to himself and unlocked the door to Levi's apartment, holding it open for Mikasa to go in first. She quickly took off her coat, handing it to Eren for him to hang up while she removed her shoes. While Eren hung up his own coat and scarf, Mikasa sat at the table with her bookbag and pulled out a workbook. Eren was about to head into the kitchen when Mikasa looked at him, her small brows knitting together. "Shoes."
Eren paused. "Huh?" It was the first thing he'd heard the girl say except for "hello" since meeting her.
"Dirty shoes don't belong on a clean floor." Her voice held all the conviction and certainty of a child who'd heard the same phrase directed at themselves countless times.
Eren smiled apologetically. "Sorry." He toed off his own sneakers and set them near Mikasa's before continuing to the kitchen in his stocking feet. As he passed her, he asked, "Are you hungry?"
Mikasa gave another small nod as she started working on her homework. A quick foray into the fridge produced a couple apples, and a little hunting through drawers and cabinets turned up a cutting board and a fruit knife. A few minutes later, and Eren had one apple cored, sliced, and arranged on a plate. He placed it on the table next to Mikasa, along with a bottle of water, and sat down across from her. He pulled out his homework, a reading assignment for his Psych class. He'd read about a paragraph, absentmindedly chewing on his own apple, when he'd realized Mikasa's pencil had stopped moving, and he looked up to see her staring at the apple slices intently. "Is something wrong?"
"They're bunnies." She reached out to poke one of the apple pieces.
"Um, yeah..." It was a simple trick his mother had taught him, and he'd done it automatically while slicing the fruit. "You don't like it?"
"No, I like it." Mikasa's lips curved up in a tiny smile before she popped one of the apple-rabbits in her mouth.
Eren mentally congratulated himself on the minor victory.
Mikasa finished her "homework" (a single sheet with tracing exercises of numbers and letters, Eren noted with a sharp sting of envy while he worked his way through paragraphs explaining why Freud's approach was a bunch of BS, to use the professional term) long before she finished her apple. When that was gone, Eren took her plate into the kitchen to wash it. By the time he came back and moved over to the couch to finish his reading, Mikasa had pulled out crayons and a coloring book, and was happily sprawled out on the floor, filling in the lines with meticulous intent and bright splashes of color. He wasn't sure he remembered Simba being purple, but who was he to question artistic genius?
They stayed like that for the next couple hours, Eren occasionally asking Mikasa questions about herself. He found out she was five, her birthday was next month, her best friend was named Annie, and she liked cats. As six o'clock got closer, Mikasa put the crayons and book away and went to the window, looking out at the street below. Eren had just finished reading when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket as a text came through.
From Levi: I have to stay late today. I'll be home in another hour.
Eren typed out a reply.
Eren: that's fine. ne thing you need me 2 do?
From Levi: You text like a 12-year-old. There's a casserole ready in the refrigerator.
From Levi: Put it in the oven at 325 and set the timer for an hour and a half.
Eren: aye aye cap'n
After Eren finished the task, he came back to the living room to find Mikasa still standing at the window. "Mikasa." She turned her head slightly toward him. "Your dad just messaged me; he's going to be a little late today."
She turned back to the window. "Oh." Her little hand came up to press against the pane. "I don't like it when Papa is late. Mama was late, too." Her shoulders shivered as she kept staring out at the street.
Eren frowned as he watched her, and then he grabbed his scarf from the entryway. He crossed the apartment in a few quick strides. He squatted down next to Mikasa, and when she turned to face him, he loosely wrapped the red length of material around her neck, grinning as he flipped one end up over the top of her head. "You're cold, right? This will keep you warm until your papa gets home." He tapped his finger lightly against the tip of her nose. "And I'll be right here with you until then."
She reached up, briefly brushing her fingertips over her nose before lightly gripping the material of the scarf. "It's warm."
Eren smiled and ruffled her hair, knocking off the end of the scarf still draped over it in the process. "Of course it is." He stood up and held out a hand to her. "Come on, do you wanna watch a movie with me while we wait?"
Eren led her over to the couch and then he pulled the Blu-Ray out of the cabinet. He was only mildly embarrassed when Mikasa ended up having to get back up to show him how to start the player. Soon enough, he was settled back and watching the movie with Mikasa quietly curled up against his side. As the story progressed, he couldn't help but think that the damn horse reminded him of someone.
This chapter was originally going to be longer, but I decided to break it up since the POV changes from Eren back to Levi after this.
A rather unusual sight greeted Levi when he finally made it home. Eren was slumped into the corner of the couch, fast asleep, while Mikasa was curled up against his side, eyes glued on the TV. His daughter looked up when she heard the door open and put her finger up to her lips in a shushing motion before looking back at the movie. Levi felt the corners of his lips twitch upward, and he quietly took off his shoes and coat before going into his bedroom to hang up his suit jacket and tie.
As quiet as he was, nothing could prevent Eren from waking up when the oven timer went off. Levi barely stopped himself from laughing when Eren stumbled into the kitchen, his hair an absolute mess, only to jump in surprise when he saw Levi.
"When did you get home?"
"A bit over half an hour ago." Levi grabbed his oven mitts and pulled the casserole out, setting it on the stove-top to cool. "Did you have a nice nap?"
"Sorry. I didn't mean to doze off..."
Levi waved his hand at him. "Don't sweat it, kid; I remember how exhausted I was in college. Here." He pulled out a stack of plates. "Put these on the table, and then take Mikasa to wash her hands." As Eren left the kitchen, he called after him, "And wash your own while you're in there!"
Dinner was...nice. Normally, if it was just him and Mikasa, the evenings were quiet. Almost too quiet, if Levi were being honest with himself. Eren, however, seemed to bring just the right amount of chatter to the table without being overbearingly noisy, unlike a red-haired neighbor or a certain four-eyed maniac. Mostly he asked Mikasa questions about school, but he also asked Levi a bit about his day. Not that there was anything terribly exciting about filling in Excel spreadsheets all day, but Levi supposed that if he wanted excitement he would have studied archaeology instead of accounting.
Although archaeology probably wasn't anywhere near as adventurous as the movies made it out to be, either.
Despite the fact that he was doing most of the talking, Eren still managed to hoover down his meal (and seconds) with impressive speed. Levi watched him with amazement. "Christ, kid. Don't they feed you at that school of yours?"
Eren shrugged, "The cafeteria is too expensive. The senior dorms all have their own kitchens, but I'm usually too busy or broke to make anything except instant stuff. Why do you think I'm having you pay me partially with food? I haven't had anything home-cooked since I was actually at home."
"And what would you have done if I couldn't cook?"
"Prayed that you knew a lot of good take-out places."
Levi smirked, and then he caught sight of the time. He turned to Mikasa. "Finish eating, sweetheart. It's time for your bath."
"I'm done, Papa."
Eren stood up as he helped Mikasa down out of her chair and started to gather the dirty plates. "I can get this cleaned up while you're doing that."
Levi nodded his thanks as followed his daughter down the hall. "The tupperware for the leftovers is in the cabinet next to the fridge."
After Levi gave Mikasa her bath and tucked her into bed, he came back to the kitchen to find Eren wiping down the sink. Levi leaned casually against the counter and cleared his throat. "I, uh... I couldn't get her to let go of your scarf." He could see Eren's amused expression out of the corner of his eye and muttered, half to himself, "I swear, I've never seen her get attached to anyone this fast."
Eren laughed. Levi had noticed over dinner that Eren had a really nice laugh. It was light, and rolled easily out of him, without being obnoxiously high-pitched. "It's okay; I've got plenty more where that one came from. My mom knits me a new scarf every winter. Sometimes I think she has trouble remembering that I'm not a hyperactive ten-year-old that destroys my clothes almost as quickly as I can put them on anymore."
"Hm." Levi made a noncommittal noise as Eren turned back to cleaning the sink. The atmosphere in the room turned heavy, and Levi could feel his shoulders tense. A thoughtful look had settled over Eren's face, and Levi just knew that the inevitable question was going to be coming up. After two years, he'd started to get a sixth sense for it.
"Mikasa said something today, when I told her you were going to be late."
"She said her mom was late, too."
Levi winced; he couldn't help it. He hated doing that to Mikasa, hated making her worry, hated making her remember, but he didn't really have a choice. Eren, for his part, turned and started putting the cleaning supplies away where he'd found them. He didn't press Levi any further, leaving it up to him on whether he wanted to answer the unspoken question or not. Levi stood there silently for a moment longer, before nodding, mostly to himself, and pulling out a kettle. "Hey, Eren." He filled it up from the tap. "Do you want some tea?"
Please be advised that I have updated the tags.
Also, I don't know where all this angst keeps coming from.
Sorry, I'm not sorry.
For a while, Levi sat on the couch next to Eren without saying anything. The silence stretched on so long that when Levi finally set his cup down on the coffee table and started to speak, Eren nearly jumped at the sound.
"It was about...fuck, no, it'll be exactly two years ago this Sunday." Levi kept his eyes fixed forward at the wall as he spoke. "My wife, Rika, was on her way to pick Mikasa up from preschool. She was almost there when this kid ran a red light, and T-boned her in the driver's side, full speed. He'd been texting and never even saw her." Levi shut his eyes for a moment before leaning forward and looking down at his hands, loosely hanging between his knees. "It was almost half an hour later before I got a call from anyone, and that was from the preschool wanting to know why Mikasa hadn't been picked up yet. So I tried calling Rika's phone. A cop answered. I got Isabel to go pick up Mikasa and watch her overnight while I went to the hospital." Levi paused, his face carefully expressionless, but his voice was hoarse when he spoke again, as if he were forcing the words out. "She never even made it off the operating table. The kid that hit her didn't make it, either."
"That's..." Eren hesitated, gnawing at his lower lip. "That's awful." He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "I'm sorry; I don't really know what to say."
Levi shrugged. "Don't worry about it." He looked at his watch. "It's past nine. You should probably head home."
"Oh, shit, really?" Eren drained the rest of his tea and jumped up, stuffing his books into his bag. As he got his coat and shoes on, Levi took their empty cups into the kitchen before meeting him at the door. Eren paused awkwardly in the doorway. "So... pick up Mikasa at the same time tomorrow?"
"Yeah, that's fine." Eren was out the door and halfway down the hallway when Levi called out after him. "Eren." Eren turned, meeting grey eyes that seemed to search deep into his own for a moment before Levi simply said, "Thanks."
Eren nodded and waved. He got the feeling that Levi had been thanking him for more than just babysitting Mikasa.
The first time Eren stayed overnight at Levi's apartment was a couple weeks later. It was a Friday, and it had already started to snow fairly heavily when Eren picked Mikasa up from school. By the time Levi got home, the wind had picked up as well, whipping the snow back across the streets nearly as fast as the plows could clear it. Levi came in the door shaking snow out of his hair and looked up at Eren, who was just starting to set the table. "It's getting pretty bad out there, kid. If you want to make it home, you better either leave now or not plan on leaving until tomorrow."
Eren looked up. "You don't mind if I stay?"
"I wouldn't have suggested it if I minded, idiot." Levi finished shedding his outerwear and boots, and he walked into the apartment to scoop Mikasa up into his arms.
Mikasa looked from her father to Eren and back. "Are we having a sleepover?"
"If Eren wants to, sure thing, kiddo." Levi ruffled her hair before turning his attention back to Eren. "I've got some clothes that should fit you, and you can throw what you're wearing in the wash for tomorrow. You might want to start keeping an overnight bag here; this winter is supposed to be a bad one."
Eren grinned, relieved that he wouldn't have to go back out into the storm. Just the drive from Mikasa's school had been nerve-wracking enough. "Thanks. I think I'll take you up on that." A timer dinged in the kitchen. "You two can go wash your hands. Supper will be out in a minute."
Levi raised an eyebrow. "You cooked?"
"Don't look at me like that. I can cook just fine, thank you very much."
"Whatever you say. What'd you make, anyway?"
"You could have just said it was chicken soup."
Eren paused with his spoon halfway to his mouth. "It's not just chicken soup. It's Turkish, my mom's recipe." Eren felt a stab of apprehension. "Do you...like it?"
Levi ate another spoonful, a thoughtful expression on his face. "Not bad." He glanced over at his daughter. "Mikasa, eat your salad, too."
"It's got carrots in it."
"Mikasa," Eren said brightly, interrupting Levi. "Those carrots worked really hard to make something yummy and healthy for you. If you don't eat them, they'll be sad."
Mikasa frowned at him. "Carrots can't be sad. They're vegetables."
"Smart kid," Eren muttered under his breath. He switched tactics. "Well, if you won't eat them, then I guess I will." He reached out with his fork and speared a carrot from Mikasa's plate, popping it into his mouth.
Eren blinked innocently at her. "What? You don't like carrots, so it's okay if I eat yours, right?" He slowly started to extend his fork toward her plate again.
"I'll eat it!" To prove her point, Mikasa stabbed her fork into a large piece of carrot, shoving it into her mouth and chewing furiously.
Eren grinned in triumph over at Levi who stared at him in open mouthed amazement. "How did you do that?"
Eren just shrugged and turned back to his own meal, still smiling as he ate.
A few hours later, Eren turned over on the couch underneath his blanket for what felt like the thousandth time. As he did, he noticed a light flick on in the kitchen. Eren rolled onto his stomach and peered over the end of the couch. The light in the kitchen went out, and Levi walked into the living room carrying a glass of water. "Hey."
Levi stopped. "Eren? Shouldn't you be asleep by now?"
"Probably." Eren shifted with a groan. "Your couch is way less comfortable than it looks."
Levi padded over to peer at Eren over the back of the couch. In the faint light streaming into the room from the streetlamps outside, Eren could just barely make out a smirk on the older man's face. "I know. I nicknamed it 'The Trap.'"
"Haha. Very funny. You could have at least warned me." Eren shifted again.
Levi looked at him a moment before sighing. "I'm probably going to regret this, but come on." He started to walk away, obviously expecting Eren to follow. When he didn't Levi stopped and called out to Eren over his shoulder. "Hurry up before I change my mind."
Eren scrambled out of the tangled mess he'd made of the blanket, by some miracle managing not to send himself toppling face-first into the coffee table. He followed Levi into his bedroom, keeping his attention focused on Levi's shoulders so he wouldn't gawk around the room.
Levi set down his glass on the nightstand and gestured at the large bed that took up most of the floor space. "Go on, get in. And stay on your side. If I wake up to find out you've drooled all over me in your sleep or something equally disgusting, I will kick your ass."
Eren didn't doubt that he could. Levi was short - nearly a head shorter than Eren - but he was by no means small. He had broad shoulders and a thick waist, and all of it was solid muscle. Levi could probably bend him in half he wanted to, and that really wasn't the thought for Eren to be having right at this moment. But that thought made him hesitate for a different reason. "Um. I appreciate it, really, but I... I should just stay on the couch."
Levi tilted his head. "I'm sorry; I should have asked. Does sharing a bed make you uncomfortable?"
"Oh, no, it's not that. I mean, it's kind of that, but... I just... I don't think you'd want me to...to be in the same bed as you."
Levi was getting visibly irritated now, his lips pressing into a thin line. "I'm the one that offered wasn't I? It's fine if you don't want to, but you looked fucking miserable out there. Why do you think I wouldn't be okay with it?"
Eren crossed his arms in front of his chest, his shoulders automatically curling forward as he stared down at the floor. "I..." He trailed off, licking his lips and taking a deep breath before continuing. "I'm gay."
Eren kept staring at the floor in silence until a hand entered his field of vision, and he flinched involuntarily. But Levi just reached out to tilt his chin up until Eren was forced to look at his face again. "Jaeger. Just answer one question: if you stay in here tonight, are you going to try dry-humping me in my sleep or something?"
Eren gaped at him and sputtered. "What?! No! Of course not! That's-"
Levi pressed a thumb against his lips, cutting him off. "Then I don't really give a shit what type of hole you prefer to stick your dick into. So if that's the only problem you have, get in the damn bed so we can both get the fuck to sleep."
Eren nodded and climbed into the opposite side of the bed as Levi. He curled up on his side, facing away, and burrowed under the blankets. Eren could feel Levi's weight shift as he reached up to turn out the lamp, although the bed was (thankfully) large enough for there to be a good amount of space between them. It was also infinitely more comfortable than the couch or Eren's bed back at the dorms. As he felt his eyelids growing heavy, Eren murmured a quiet "Thanks."
"Shut up and go to sleep, you ass."
Eren smiled into his pillow as he did just that.
Isayama has said in interviews that both Levi and Eren are better at communicating with actions than words, so enjoy some awkward kind-of-sort-of flirting and "oh shit, I did NOT mean to say that out loud."
Oh, and Eren's been babysitting for about a month at this point.
Eren took Levi's advice and started keeping an overnight bag in his car so he could stay over when the weather was bad. Or when he got too absorbed in his homework and ended up staying too late. Or on Fridays. He justified it to himself as just being because it was quieter at Levi's apartment than the dorms and easier to study. His grades actually went up slightly - although he was already doing well to start with - which helped back up his explanation when he gave it to Armin a few weeks later. Eren decided to ignore the knowing look Armin gave him, the same way that he was ignoring the fact that he genuinely liked spending time with Levi after he came home from work. Ignoring Jean teasing him about having a "Daddy complex" was a bit harder, but thankfully Eren had plenty of embarrassing stories about Jean to retaliate with. They were especially effective at shutting him up when Marco was present, and watching Jean turn five different shades of red in front of his boyfriend was always entertaining.
He was less sure how to handle Levi's friends.
"You know, Eren, when Levi was talking about Mikasa's new babysitter, he forgot to mention how adorable you are." Levi's coworker had come in with Levi when he got home from work and introduced themself to Eren as "Hanji - they pronouns, please", and now the four of them were just finishing dinner.
"Um...thanks?" Eren looked from the lanky brunette to Levi, trying to convey a silent plea for help.
"Stop attempting to traumatize the kid, you sh- Hanji." Levi stood up. "Come on, Mikasa. Bath time."
As Levi led Mikasa down the hall, Hanji laughed quietly as they helped Eren clear the table. "It's cute how he won't swear in front of Mikasa, but the second she's out of earshot he's got a worse mouth on him than a sailor."
"I'd noticed." Eren paused, a look of horror flashing over his face as he realized the implications of what he'd said. He quickly bent over the dishes in the sink. "Uh, I mean, the swearing part, not the cute part. Not that he isn't...I mean, I...goddamn it." Eren's head thunked down on the edge of the sink as he felt the tips of his ears start to burn.
Hanji cackled as they started to rinse and dry the dishes. "Don't worry; your secret crush is safe with me."
"I'm not-!" Eren stopped talking as his voice squeaked embarrassingly high. "Okay, change of subject. How long have you known Levi?"
"Oh, the shortie and I go way back. We were both in the LGBTQ club in college."
Eren's hands froze in the middle of wiping down a plate. "Wait, what? But..."
"But he has a kid? Levi's bi. Or pan; I can never remember which."
"O-oh right." Eren resumed washing. "I'm sorry; he told me about his wife, and I just kind of assumed. I shouldn't have, though."
Hanji tutted. "Don't worry about it. Honestly, I was kind of surprised when he and Rika announced their engagement. Levi usually has a slight preference for dating men, but I guess you can't really help who you fall in love with."
"Y-Yeah..." They finished up the dishes in silence as Eren tried to organize his scattering thoughts in vain. He was saved from the awkward atmosphere when Levi came back from tucking Mikasa into bed.
"Hey, Levi!" Hanji leaned around Eren. "Remind me again: are you bi or pan?"
Maybe "saved" was too strong a word.
"Bi." Levi's gaze flicked suspiciously between Hanji and Eren. "You better not be telling him about the incident in San Francisco, Shitty Glasses."
"Oh, you're no fun. That's one of my best stories."
"You know, I still haven't told Moblit about Tijuana. That can change." Levi's eyes glinted dangerously.
Hanji pouted and put away the last of the dishes. Eren looked back and forth between the two of them "What happened in Tijuana?"
"Let's just say that there's a reason we don't let Hanji drink tequila anymore."
It was nearly midnight by the time that Hanji left, and Levi told Eren that he might as well stay that night instead of driving home so late. Eren agreed - it was Friday, and he'd half been planning to stay anyway. Of course, that had been before talking to Hanji in the kitchen, and he was more than a little nervous when he slid into Levi's bed. When Levi came out of his bathroom, Eren swallowed heavily and turned to face the window. He knew it was stupid; Levi hadn't changed, only Eren's perception of him had, but he couldn't help it.
He heard Levi clear his throat. "So, next week is Valentine's Day..."
Eren looked back over his shoulder at that, his heart thudding harder in his chest. Levi wasn't looking at him, seemingly absorbed in his book. But Eren noted with a sort of hyper-awareness that Levi's eyes were looking straight ahead and not tracking across the page. Eren licked his lips, not sure where this conversation was going. "Yes...?"
"Did you need the day off? I can probably take a half-day at work so I don't need a babysitter if you had...plans. Or something."
Eren gaped at Levi for a second as he tried to figure out if this was Levi's roundabout way of asking him if he was seeing someone, but he shook off the thought as ridiculous. "Oh, no, I don't have anyone. Er , any plans, I mean."
"That's good." Levi grimaced and passed his hand over his eyes. "Shit, no, sorry. That didn't come out right." He sighed and snapped his book shut, turning away as he set it down on the nightstand. Eren could almost swear he saw a light pink color creeping up the back of Levi's neck, but then Levi turned out the light, plunging the room - and his neck and any theoretical color that may or may not have been there - into shadow. He settled down into the bed, his back still facing Eren. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Levi." Eren chewed on his lower lip for a moment in contemplation before he moved closer to the center of the bed. There was still space between them, but it would be an easy matter for Eren to reach out and bridge the gap, trace his fingers along Levi's arms and powerful shoulders, up his neck and into the short hair of his undercut. Eren's hand twitched where it was resting on the sheet.
"I can feel you staring at me, kid."
Eren startled at the low voice, and covered his embarrassment by grumbling, "I'm not a kid."
Levi rolled over to face him then, the gap between them narrowing even further. His silver eyes were dark in the faint light coming in through the window, and Eren felt his heartbeat speed up as Levi looked searchingly into his face. And then his heart seemed to stop completely as Levi's fingertips brushed, featherlight, against the edge of his jaw. "I know." Levi's voice was soft and quiet in the darkness. "Go to sleep, Eren."
Levi started to pull his hand away, but before he could retract it fully, Eren reached up and laced their fingers together, staring challengingly into Levi's eyes as he did. Levi's eyes widened slightly in surprise before his lips gave a small twitch upward. With a quiet huff, he settled their hands more comfortably between them and closed his eyes. Eren followed suit, and soon found himself drifting off to sleep despite his heart thrumming in his chest.
Remember when I said this would be five chapters?
I lied, apparently.
Levi wasn't sure what woke him up. The first thing he became aware of was warmth pressed all along his back. It took Levi's groggy mind a few seconds to realize it was Eren, although the breath puffing softly against the nape of his neck was a big clue. It was oh-so-tempting to just relax into that warmth and go back to sleep, but a nagging sense of something being off caused him to pry his eyes open.
He nearly jumped out of his skin at the unexpected sight of a little face peering at him from over the edge of the bed in the darkness. "Mikasa?" Levi sat up, disentangling himself as gently as he could from Eren's arms. "What's wrong?"
"Mm." Mikasa ducked her head down into the red scarf she still refused to take off.
Levi scrubbed his hand through his hair and fought back a yawn as he glanced at the clock. It was just after two a.m. He started to go through all the usual things that would send his daughter into his room at that hour. "Did you have an accident?" She shook her head. "Bad dream?" Ah, a nod at that. He reached out and pulled her up into his lap, where she promptly fisted her little hands into his t-shirt and buried her head against his chest. Beside him, Eren had woken up, and he was sleepily rubbing his eyes as he blinked up at them. Levi shot him an apologetic glance before turning back to his daughter. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Mikasa shook her head again. "Want to sleep here."
Levi looked back at Eren who just smiled and moved over, making more space between them. Levi sighed. "Okay."
Mikasa promptly scooted down into the newly created gap and turned away from Levi, holding her arms out. "Eren."
"Um." Eren tentatively let her snuggle against him, and Levi barely stopped himself from laughing at the young man's bewildered expression.
"You traitor." Levi ruffled Mikasa's hair as he lay back down.
She grabbed his hand. "Stop it, Papa."
"Sorry." Levi smoothed her hair back in place before he looked up and found himself staring right into Eren's eyes, just inches from his own, and his breath caught in his throat.
Eren must have noticed the hitch, because his lips started to curve up into a mischievous smile. Levi furrowed his brows and glared at him, silently mouthing "shut up" over the top of Mikasa's head. Eren's smile just stretched into a grin, and Levi huffed at him in annoyance and closed his eyes.
But when Eren's hand found his again where it was resting across Mikasa's shoulders, Levi squeezed back.
Eren ended up staying at Levi's all day Saturday, hunched over his laptop where he'd set it up on Levi's coffee table and typing out an essay for one of his classes. Levi didn't mind; the weather had been mild the last couple of days, so Levi took advantage of Eren's presence and went on an early-morning jog, and later that day he went grocery shopping.
Eren finished his paper just before supper, and when Mikasa's bedtime came around, he read her a story at her insistence because he "did the voices better than Papa."
When he came back, he sat down on the opposite end of the couch from Levi. He was quieter than usual, and he kept fidgeting, his fingers constantly tugging at the hem of his shirt or playing with his hair. Several times, Levi caught Eren looking over at him out of the corner of his eye instead of paying attention to the TV. Finally, Levi turned to him with a heavy sigh. "Alright. What's wrong?"
Eren's eyes went wide for a second before his gaze skittered to the side, refusing to meet Levi's. "Huh? Nothing. Everything's fine!"
"Bull. You've been squirming around like you're desperately trying not to shit your pants for the last thirty minutes. Now out with it."
"Um." Eren swallowed, his hand going up to his hair again, pulling some of it out of his ponytail. "I just... I..." Eren's face started to go beet-red, and he covered it with his hands and mumbled the rest of the sentence into them too quietly for Levi to hear.
Levi rolled his eyes and got up briefly so he could sit down closer to Eren. Eren jumped a little when he moved, and Levi snorted. "What was that? Take your hands away from your mouth, Jaeger; I couldn't understand a damn word."
Eren dropped his hands and straightened up, his mouth hardening into a determined line. "I said, 'I think you're hot!'"
Levi's mind went blank, all his thoughts scattering like leaves in a breeze. He stared at Eren open-mouthed. "...What?"
Eren groaned, his face turning even redder than before, the color creeping to the tips of his ears and down his throat. "That's not...that's not what I meant to say." He licked his lips. "I mean, yeah, I do think you're attractive, but that's not it. Or not all of it." Eren looked Levi right in the eyes and took a deep breath. "I really like spending time with you. I like talking to you, and listening to you, and even if we're not talking I just...I just feel comfortable around you, like I'm where I'm supposed to be." He looked down, and then back up at Levi through his eyelashes. "I was trying not to think about it too much, 'cause I didn't think you'd be interested in me, but then yesterday, Hanji... And then last night...last night was weird; I'm still not sure what that was about." Eren dropped his gaze completely. "I like you. And I was wondering if you...if maybe...we..."
Eren trailed off as if he ran out of steam. Levi's blood was thrumming through his veins, and the room felt ten degrees warmer. He lifted his hand to Eren's face, brushing a loose lock of hair behind his ear before he tilted Eren's jaw up. "You brat." Levi leaned forward, stopping just a few inches away from Eren's face. "I thought you had more confidence than this."
Levi could feel Eren shiver under his fingertips. "I do." Eren's breath puffed against Levi's lips as he spoke.
Levi quirked an eyebrow upward. "Prove it."
Almost before the challenge had finished rolling off his tongue, Eren's lips were on his own, soft and warm and pliant. Levi's eyes slid closed, and he moved his hand away from Eren's jaw to thread it through the long hair at the back of his head. He gave a slight tug, and Eren moaned into the kiss, his lips parting just enough to allow Levi's tongue to slip past them. Levi pressed Eren back against the arm of the couch as he did his best to map out the inside of Eren's mouth. Every so often, Levi would lightly tug on Eren's hair again, just so he could hear another quiet moan or whimper escape from the other man's throat.
When Levi finally pulled away, they were both panting heavily. Levi looked down at Eren who looked back up at him with lips parted and red, his hair in complete disarray, and pupils blown wide. Levi licked a stray bit of saliva from his lips. "Not bad."
Neither of them said anything else for a long while.
Sunday found Eren standing next to Levi by the huge central tank of the city aquarium as a diver fed the fish and turtles swimming around the simulated reef. In front of them, two little heads, blonde and black, were pressed together as they whispered and pointed out different fish to each other. Eren glanced down at Levi, and he couldn't help a nervous fluttering in his chest. Eren knew they were there because this is what Mikasa had wanted to do for her birthday - which was technically tomorrow - and because she had asked for Eren and her friend Annie to come, but part of him couldn't help feeling like this was a date. A date with two small children tagging along, but Eren would take what he could get at this point. He found himself wondering if Levi felt the same way. It was hard to tell what Levi was thinking, most of the time, but Eren didn't think he was imagining the brief glance Levi shot him before turning his attention back to the two girls or the way the tight lines around Levi's mouth relaxed. Tentatively, Eren reached out, but just as his knuckles brushed the back of Levi's hand, a voice called out behind him.
"Eren! There you are!"
Eren turned to see Armin walking toward them through the crowd, a badge pinned to the front of the blue scrubs all the aquarium employees wore. Oh, right, he'd forgotten that he'd told Armin that he'd be there today. He tried to surreptitiously pull his hand away from Levi, but he could tell by the quick way Armin glanced down at their hands before looking up at Eren with a mischievous gleam in his eyes that his best friend hadn't missed the movement. Armin didn't say anything, however, which Eren was eternally thankful for. Armin smiled. "Hi, I'm Eren's roommate, Armin. You must be Levi. Eren's told me a lot about you, although..." Armin's gaze flickered backed over to Eren, and he smirked. He actually smirked. "He left a lot of things out, apparently."
Okay, maybe Eren wasn't that thankful.
This was going to be a long day.
Armin ended up giving them a "behind the scenes" tour of the aquarium, culminating at the sea otter tank which was currently off-limits to most guests.
"A little while ago, we brought in a baby otter that we're pretty sure had been abandoned. He was in pretty bad shape, but now that he's stronger we've integrated him in with the others. We'll probably open the exhibit back up in a few days; we just wanted to keep things quiet here while he adjusts."
They two little girls pressed their noses against the tank wall as one of the adult otters nosed the little one and then started grooming him, licking down his fur and then fluffing it up. When the adult seemed satisfied, it nudged the pup into the water and onto his back to float. When the adult otter reached out and took hold of the pup's paw while they floated, Annie squeaked and brought her hands up to cover her mouth. Mikasa tugged on Armin's sleeve to get his attention. "Mr. Armin? Is that his Mama?"
Armin smiled down at her. "I think she's decided that she is. That's Izumi, our oldest female. She's had pups before, so she was the first one we introduced him to. Everyone was really happy when she almost immediately started taking care of him like he'd always been hers."
"Oh." Briefly, so fast that Eren thought that maybe he'd imagined it, her eyes flickered up at Eren before she turned back around to watch the otters splash and play with each other.
Mikasa and Annie were both quiet as Levi drove them all back to Annie's house to drop her off. Then again, they both usually were quiet; Eren was starting to suspect that the two little girls communicated purely by telepathy.
They arrived without incident, and after she said goodbye to Mikasa, Levi unbuckled Annie and took her up to Bertholt who waiting by the front door. Meanwhile, Reiner came out and helped Eren get Annie's booster seat moved back to their own car. Eren had been a little bit intimidated by them both when they'd first met at the girls' school. Reiner was an imposing man, tall and built like a brick wall, with a loud booming voice, and Bert was even taller than his husband. However, Eren quickly found that Reiner's booming voice was usually used to produce an equally booming laugh and that he tended to be more than a bit of a mother hen. As for Bertholt, he was quiet and almost painfully shy. They complemented each other well, with Reiner encouraging Bertholt to be more outgoing, and Bertholt pulling Reiner back when he got a bit too enthusiastic about something. It hadn't taken Eren very long to decide he liked both of them.
Once they'd pulled away, Mikasa looked out the window and tugged at the edge of the scarf Eren had given her. Finally, she looked up. "Annie's like me; she doesn't have a Mama."
Levi glanced at her in the rearview mirror before turning his attention to the road. "That's right."
Mikasa furrowed her eyebrows together. The expression was so much like the one Levi made when he was concentrating on something that Eren had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. Mikasa continued, speaking slowly, "But... she has two Papas. That's different from me."
Eren twisted around in his seat to face her more fully. "Yes, it is. There are a lot of different kinds of families, and that's okay."
Mikasa nodded. "The little otter in the zoo didn't have a Mama or a Papa, but the big otter took care of him... Just like Eren takes care of me!" Mikasa smiled at that last declaration, like she'd come to a conclusion about whatever she had been thinking about.
Eren felt his cheeks grow warm, and he turned back around as he felt something light and fluttery settle behind his ribs. He heard a quiet chuckle and looked over to see Levi looking at him out of the corner of his eye, the edge of his lips twitching up into a smile. Eren mouthed "shut up" at him, but Levi only chuckled again as he pulled into the apartment complex's parking lot.
Friday - Valentine's - ended up being a surprisingly normal day. Eren picked Mikasa up, played with her until Levi got home, and they all had dinner together. After Mikasa was put to bed, Eren and Levi watched a movie together. And, okay, maybe Levi opened up a bottle of wine, and maybe Eren spent most of the movie leaning into Levi's side with his head pillowed on his shoulder, and maybe he couldn't have really said what the plot of the movie was because he was too busy concentrating on the feeling of Levi's fingers absently carding through his hair, but still.
Later, they curled up in bed together, Eren pressed tight against Levi's back and his face buried in the nape of his neck. They were both still fully clothed, of course. On top of their growing relationship still being new, both of them were far, far too aware of Mikasa asleep in the room next door to progress to anything too adventurous. At the moment, Eren felt perfectly content to just lay there, feeling the tension drain out of Levi's back as he relaxed into Eren's arms. Levi let out a quiet sigh. "Erwin was a total bastard today."
"Hm?" Eren made an inquisitive noise as he dragged his lips against the back of Levi's neck, just below the shaved hairs of his undercut.
"Yeah, he kept trying to think of reasons for me to stay longer, like he knew I wanted to get home early today." Levi tilted his head to give Eren better access and laced his fingers through Eren's. "Shitty Glasses must have tipped him off."
"Before I left today, Armin threw a pack of condoms at me. I hate to say it, but I think our friends already have it figured out."
Levi let out a short bark of laughter, but then he went still. "Hey, Eren...?" His voice sounded unusually tentative.
"Is this... Are you okay with this?"
"Huh? What do you mean?"
Levi turned over to face him. "I mean, I can't exactly give you a whirlwind romance here. I've got a job with long hours; I've got a kid. I can't just take you out on a date whenever I feel like it. Not without a lot of planning first, anyway. You're still so young and I-mmph!"
Eren pulled back from kissing Levi into silence. Levi frowned and opened his mouth to protest, but Eren quickly cut him off. "I like you." Levi froze, and then snapped his mouth shut. Eren continued, "I like you, and I don't care if spending time with you means that we just make dinner together here and then pull up a movie on Netflix. I know Mikasa is an important part of your life, and I wouldn't ask for or expect any of that to change." Eren gently leaned his forehead against Levi's. "And stop talking about yourself like you're an old man. You're only eight years older than me."
"You..." Levi blinked rapidly, then buried his face in the crook of Eren's neck. "...stubborn asshole."
"Your stubborn asshole, though."
Levi laughed before pulling back to look at Eren again. One of his hands came up to cup Eren's jaw, his thumb brushing against Eren's cheek. they came together naturally, slowly exploring the feeling of each other, and Eren couldn't prevent the way his fingers clenched in the back of Levi's shirt as Levi deepened the kiss. Levi trailed his lips down from Eren's mouth to his jaw and then to his throat, and Eren held back a whimper as a shiver ran through his body.
"Fuck," Levi murmured into Eren's skin. He pulled back and brushed Eren's hair away from his face. "I really need to see if Rika's parents will take Mikasa for a weekend."
"Mm, sounds good to me." Eren nuzzled his face against Levi's hand. "Think they're still awake?"
"No, and we probably shouldn't be either." Levi disentangled himself to turn out the light, and Eren took the opportunity to resume their original position with a happy sigh. He quickly fell asleep like that, lulled by the warmth beside him and the deep, even rhythm of Levi's breathing.
Rating upped to Explicit. Please be aware of the new tags.
Eren's college always had Spring Break the last week of March, which suited Eren just fine since it always coincided with his birthday. However, it seemed like the professors had conspired together to all give their midterms the week before break. Needless to say, the week before that Eren was more than a bit stressed. He spent most nights reviewing his texts and notes, and, for the first time since January, he wasn't going to be staying at Levi's over the weekend so that he could study with his friends instead. It didn't help his mood any when it started raining on Friday shortly after lunch in a steady, cold downpour that didn't show any signs of letting up.
Mikasa seemed to be sharing his gloomy mood when Eren picked her up from school, being even quieter than usual. Eren held his umbrella over her as she came outside. "What's wrong?"
"It's been warmer, so we were supposed to have outside recess today, but then it started raining." Mikasa looked over her shoulder at the playground before turning mournful eyes up to the lowering grey clouds. "The world is cruel."
Eren tried, he really tried, not to laugh at her serious pronouncement, but it sputtered out anyway. Mikasa frowned up at him, and Eren opened his mouth to apologize, but he was interrupted by Annie coming out of the building as Reiner jogged up to them, his own umbrella held over his head.
Reiner effortlessly scooped his daughter up with his free arm, balancing her in the crook of his elbow. "Ready to go home, Princess?"
Annie lightly smacked his shoulder. "I'm not a princess, Daddy! I'm a warrior!"
"Oh?" Reiner arched his eyebrows up in exaggerated surprise. "Then is Mikasa the princess?"
Annie crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. "No, Mika's a soldier."
Reiner nodded. "Of course, how silly of me. Who is the princess then?"
Reiner and Annie both looked down at Mikasa, who tugged at her scarf as she thought before announcing, "Eren is."
"Well, at least he has the eyes for it."
Eren might have found the comment more flattering if Reiner hadn't been choking it out between fits of laughter
Eventually, Reiner stopped laughing, and they both said goodbye as they headed to their cars. Mikasa had gone quiet again, and Eren thought he heard her murmur something as he pulled out into the street. "What was that?"
Eren didn't press, but he thought it had sounded an awful lot like "daddy."
Eren looked down at Mikasa. As soon as Levi had gotten home from work, Eren had grabbed his things and headed for the door. He'd told Armin, Jean, and Marco that he'd meet up with them at around seven, and it was already six-thirty. He crouched down so he was eye-level with her. "I'm sorry, Mikasa. I've gotta go see my friends this weekend. We've all got big tests coming up, and we promised to study together. Be good for your Papa, okay?"
Large tears started to gather in Mikasa's eyes and spill down her cheeks. "But I want you to stay. Papa is... Papa is happy when you're here."
Levi bent over and picked up his daughter. "Mikasa..."
Eren stood up as Levi straightened and wiped some of the tears off of Mikasa's face. "I'm happy when I'm here, too," he said quietly. He heard a sharp intake of breath from Levi and smiled softly at him before looking back at Mikasa. "But I made a promise. You don't want me to break a promise, do you?" Mikasa reluctantly shook her head, and Eren dropped a quick kiss against her forehead before leaning around her to give Levi a somewhat longer kiss goodbye. "We agreed to take a break from nine Saturday night until after lunch Sunday, so I'll try to come over tomorrow...if you don't think it's too late?"
Levi nodded. "It's fine." He kissed Eren again before nudging him toward the door. "Go on; don't keep your friends waiting on you."
It was actually closer to ten the next night when Eren let himself into Levi's apartment. Levi looked up from where he was reading on the couch and closed his book. Eren took off his jacket and shoes and walked over to him, bending down to press their lips together. He pulled back a little. "Hey."
Levi's hand came up to brush against his cheek. "Hey." There was a sleepy grumble from the couch, and they both looked down to where Mikasa was curled up with her head pillowed in Levi's lap, the red scarf clutched against her chest. Levi sighed and patted her head. "She refused to go to bed until you got here. Honestly, she's so stubborn." His voice was laced with warm affection, and he started to lift Mikasa up.
"Here, I'll get her." Eren put his hands under the sleeping girl and hoisted her up to his shoulder. Mikasa stirred a little and mumbled, but she didn't wake up. He carried her into her bedroom and tucked her in under the covers, quietly shutting the door behind him as he left. Eren stretched, feeling the joints in his neck groan and pop. He'd crashed out on Jean and Marco's couch at about three in the morning, and they'd restarted their study session as soon as everyone was awake and more or less coherent. Eren's entire body still felt stiff from the hours of being hunched over books and the uncomfortable sleeping position. While Eren tried to work the kinks out of his muscles, he felt a pair of arms wrap around his waist from behind, followed shortly by Levi burying his face in his shoulder. Eren turned and nuzzled his cheek against Levi's hair. "Hey."
"Mmph." Levi tightened his hold on Eren's waist, and Eren smiled and brought his hand down to squeeze Levi's own. He'd discovered over the past few weeks that Levi was - somewhat surprisingly - extremely physically affectionate, even if he wasn't very vocal when it came to expressing his emotions.
Eren stayed like that for a moment before he started to reluctantly pull away. "I've really gotta go take a shower." Levi sighed and released his hold. Eren paused to look back at Levi at the bedroom door. "I, um. I wouldn't mind if you joined me. If you wanted." Eren quickly entered the room and crossed the floor to Levi's bathroom, mostly so Levi wouldn't notice the flush that Eren could feel creeping up his neck. He shut the bathroom door, but didn't lock it.
Just in case.
Eren quickly stripped and stepped into the shower. He shivered as the first cold blast of water hit him - he hadn't waited for it to warm up before getting in. His heart was pounding a mile a minute in his chest at first, but when it seemed like Levi wasn't going to follow him after all, Eren sagged against the wall, partly in relief and partly in disappointment.
The water had heated up nicely, and Eren was just rinsing the shampoo from his hair when he heard the bathroom door open. Eren froze for a second before resuming washing, listening to the sounds of clothing rustle on the other side of the frosted glass. Eren ducked his head under the spray to rinse out his conditioner when the shower door opened behind him. "Did you wash your back yet?" Eren wondered if Levi's voice sounded a little lower than usual or if it was just his imagination.
"Not yet." The next thing Eren knew, Levi's hands were gliding across his skin, slick with soap. Eren instantly relaxed into the touch as he felt the last of his tension drain away, and he couldn't hold back a low moan when Levi found a particularly stiff knot of muscle.
"Jesus, Eren." Levi's fingers twitched, and this time there was no mistaking the decidedly husky timbre of his voice. "That was almost pornographic."
"D'you have any idea how many pornos I've watched that start out with two guys naked in a shower?"
"Found a kink of yours, have we?" Levi let out a low throaty laugh as he ran his hands up Eren's spine. "Fuck, you've got a gorgeous back. I could never get tired of this view."
"What was that you were saying about ki-!" Eren broke off into a strangled gasp as Levi lightly sank his teeth into the base of his neck.
The next few minutes were a blur of wandering hands and heated skin, whispered praise and voices muffled by the sound of running water. It culminated with Eren's back pressed against the tiled wall as Levi's hand moved over them both.
"L-Levi..." Eren broke away from a kiss (really just them panting into each other's mouths at this point). "I...I'm gonna..."
"It's fine." Levi tangled his free hand in Eren's hair, the movement of his other hand speeding up. "'M close, too. C'mon, Eren."
Eren's name passed Levi's lips in a breathy moan, and that is what finally did Eren in. He hid his face against Levi's neck and whimpered as heat flooded through him. He thrust weakly against Levi a few times, shuddering when he felt Levi stiffen and convulse in his arms as he came with a quiet cry of his own.
The two of them stayed like that for what felt like an hour, but was probably only a few minutes, leaning against each other until the rapidly cooling water of the shower forced them to quickly clean up and get out. Once dry and bundled into Levi's bed, Eren scooted down far enough to tuck his head underneath Levi's chin. He felt more than heard a laugh rumble through Levi's chest. "You're a spoiled brat, you know that?"
Instead of answering, Eren just hummed in contentment and wrapped an arm around Levi's waist. Levi laughed again and said something else, but Eren couldn't quite make out what it was as exhaustion caught up to him and carried him off into darkness.
"Freedom, finally!" Jean tossed his bookbag on the floor and thumped into the seat that Marco had been saving for him at the campus coffee shop. Eren and Armin had already gotten there about twenty minutes ago.
"For some of us," Armin muttered as he sipped a Chai latte. Unlike the other three, he still had a class that afternoon before his break officially began.
Marco gave him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. "So what are you guys doing for break?"
Armin perked back up. "My parents and I are going down to visit Grandpa in Boca Raton."
Jean groaned. "Lucky. You know what Montreal is like in March? Fucking freezing. My cousin called today and said it snowed. Snowed."
"We'll be fine, Jean."
"Says my weirdo boyfriend that actually likes winter." Jean was smiling when he said it, though. Marco leaned over and whispered something to him. Jean's ears turned bright red, and he shifted awkwardly in his seat before looking away and clearing his throat. "A-anyway, Eren, are your parents still in Germany?"
"Yeah. Dad's teaching that special class at Heidelberg, and then he and Mom are going to spend a couple months in Munich. I might join them for a little while this summer; I haven't seen Opa and Oma in years."
"Aw, does that mean you're going to be stuck all alone in the dorms this week?"
Eren ignored Jean, sucking noisily on the straw of his bubble tea.
Armin was giving him a calculating look. "You're staying at Levi's, aren't you?"
Eren nearly choked on a tapioca pearl. "Ar!" He could feel his cheeks starting to go pink.
Jean gaped at him. "Seriously? I was just joking about the Daddy-complex before, but you're actually dating him? I didn't think you were the type to go after an older guy, Jaeger."
Eren opened his mouth to retort, but Armin beat him to it. "You wouldn't be saying that if you'd seen him. He's way out of Eren's league."
Jean's brows scrunched together in confusion. "How can you tell?"
Silence fell over the table, and Armin stared at Jean with a deadpan expression until the other started to squirm in his seat. "Jean. I'm ace, not blind."
Jean thunked his head down on the table. "Sorry."
Marco shook his head. "Jean, I am so disappointed in you right now."
Eren grinned. "You hear that, Jean? You're not being the man that Freckled Jesus knew you could be."
"I said I was sorry." There was a distinctive whine in his voice, and the other three burst out laughing. Jean was still groveling to Armin by the time Eren left to run back to the dorm and pack some clothes for the week.
Levi had taken a half-day at work, leaving right at lunch time, so he could drop off Mikasa's car booster seat and clothes at Rika's parents' house. Mikasa's grandmother was going to pick her up from school that afternoon to stay with them for the weekend, meaning that Levi and Eren would have the entire apartment to themselves. With no little eyes or ears nearby. For two whole days and nights.
When he got home, Levi had a choice of pacing a rut into the floor or cleaning. He opted for the cleaning.
He was nearly done vacuuming the living room when he heard the door open. A moment later, he was engulfed from behind as Eren pressed himself to Levi's back. Levi twisted around in his arms to face him. "Hey-mmph!"
His voice was quickly cut off by Eren's lips sealing over his own. Levi fisted his hands into the fabric of Eren's shirt as Eren's hands shifted their grip down to Levi's hips, pulling them flush together. Eren was already hard, his arousal digging into Levi's thigh, and Levi let out a moan into Eren's mouth. Eren trailed his lips back along Levi's jawline and lightly nipped at Levi's earlobe. "Fuck me." Eren's voice came out low and throaty, and Levi felt a shiver run down his spine.
"My, how romantic," Levi intoned dryly, his voice not quite as steady as he would like.
Eren didn't seem to notice. He pulled back, worrying his bottom lip, now red and kiss-swollen, between his teeth. "Sorry. I just... I've just been thinking about this all day. I guess I got a little too worked up."
"I didn't say I didn't like it." Levi ran a hand up into Eren's hair. "You already showered?"
"Right before I came over."
Levi pulled Eren closer, giving him a brief kiss before pulling back again. "Well, I haven't yet. Go wait in the bedroom for me."
Levi watched Eren's throat bob as he swallowed and then nodded, reluctantly letting go. As Eren walked down the hall, Levi quickly put up the vacuum before following him. As Levi passed through the bedroom, Eren was just pulling off his shirt. Levi paused, watching him, and Eren noticed, slowing down his movements with a cocky grin. "Like what you see?"
Levi hummed in agreement and opened his bathroom door. As he went in, he called out, "One more thing. No touching yourself while you wait." The last thing he saw before he shut the door was the pout Eren directed at him.
What followed was one of the quickest showers Levi had ever taken in his life, and he wasn't one inclined to linger in the first place. Levi briefly considered wrapping a towel around his waist before he returned, but he decided against it. It wasn't like Eren hadn't seen him naked before, and even if Levi did wear it, he wasn't planning on doing so for long. Levi took a deep breath and went back into the bedroom. He promptly lost that breath at the sight of Eren, sprawled naked on his bed, hands obediently curled against the pillow. Levi had no idea what he'd done to deserve to have this beautiful young man waiting for him with that look in his eyes, but he certainly wasn't going to complain.
Levi slowly crossed the room and climbed onto the mattress to kneel beside Eren, his fingers trailing lightly, almost reverently up Eren's chest. "Jesus, look at you."
Levi thought he heard Eren's breath hitch. He narrowed his eyes in speculation and decided to continue. "So fucking gorgeous."
This time, there was no mistaking the blush creeping up Eren's neck or the way his cock twitched at the praise, a thick bead of precum falling out onto Eren's stomach. Levi resituated himself between Eren's knees, pushing them apart. He leaned over to place a kiss on Eren's inner thigh, feeling him shiver underneath him. "So pretty," Levi murmured, and Eren whined deep in his throat. Levi sucked at the same spot, leaving behind a dark mark. "You're being so good for me, Eren." He moved up, nipping at Eren's hipbone. "Such a good boy."
"L-Lev~i..." Eren's voice came out shaking and broken. Levi had barely even touched him yet, but Eren's cock was leaking freely, leaving a slick mess all over his stomach and chest. Levi dragged his fingers through it, bringing one down to press against his entrance, not pushing through, just teasing the outside of the muscle.
"My handsome boy." Levi had moved further up, peppering kisses against Eren's neck - a sensitive spot for Eren that Levi had discovered previously. "Beautiful." Which each whispered word of praise, Levi felt Eren twitch against his finger as the moans spilling from Eren's lips grew louder. "My perfect Eren." Levi lightly sank his teeth into the spot where Eren's nape met his shoulder.
Eren tensed and cried out, and Levi quickly pulled away, afraid he might have accidentally hurt him. Levi's eyes widened in surprise as he saw the first thick spurt of white hit Eren's stomach. Eren's face and neck turned a dark red, and he flung his forearm over his eyes and just shook. Levi pulled him close and ran a hand through Eren's hair until he took in a shuddering breath of air and dropped his arm in favor of hiding his face against Levi's shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Eren nodded without lifting his head. "S-sorry. I did-didn't know I-I..."
"Surprised you, did it?"
Another nod. "I've had-d boyfriends before, b-but they never... They didn't..."
"No one's ever done that for you before?" Eren shook his head. Levi nuzzled into his hair. "Well, then I guess I'll have to do it more often, hm?"
"You don't...don't have to."
"You liked it, didn't you?"
Levi could swear he felt Eren's face flush hotter where it was pressed into his skin. Eren nodded, more slowly this time, and whispered a quiet "Yes."
Levi pulled away from Eren and brushed his bangs away so he could look into his face. "Then I want to do it."
"But you didn't..." Eren's eyes briefly darted down past Levi's waist. "You didn't come."
"That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. Besides..." Levi's lips quirked up into a small smile. "You're young. I'm sure you'll be ready for round two soon enough." Eren's blush, which had started to fade, came back full force, and Levi felt his smile stretch into a grin. He couldn't help it, and he felt a peaceful sort of warmth settle into his chest as he realized that he'd smiled a lot more in the past three months with Eren than he had in...in a very long time. "While we wait, we should probably get this mess cleaned up."
Levi scooted further down the bed, and Eren started to squirm when he realized Levi hadn't meant to go get a cloth. "Levi, don't... That's dirty..." His words came out in a half-hearted whine.
Levi pressed lightly down on Eren's hips to hold him still and looked into Eren's face. "Nothing about you is dirty." Levi bent back down and lapped his tongue up Eren's stomach. Eren brought his hands up to cover his face again as Levi carefully licked up every bit of mess off of Eren. By the time he finished, Eren's breathing had grown heavy again, and he'd brought his hands down to clench them in the sheets. Levi crawled back up the bed, and Eren grabbed him and pulled him close, slotting their lips together in a deep kiss.
Eren hooked his legs around Levi's waist and rolled his hips up into him. "Levi...Levi, please..."
It was Levi's turn to let out a low moan before he pulled away to open the nightstand drawer and take out a bottle of lube and a condom. He tossed the condom on the bed next to Eren and popped open the bottle, squirting out a generous amount on his fingers. He braced one of Eren's knees against his shoulder and reached down, slowly pressing one finger past the tight ring of muscle. Eren let his head fall back as he arched his back. Levi carefully moved his finger back and forth before pulling it out and then pressing two inside. "Fuck, you're tight."
"Mm, it's - ahh - it's been a while." Eren jolted as Levi's questing fingers brushed his prostate. Levi managed to hit it a few more times while he worked to loosen Eren. By the time Levi removed his fingers, Eren was rolling his hips rhythmically on Levi's hand, mindlessly seeking more. He whined a little at the feeling of emptiness, and Levi leaned over to kiss him again as he grabbed the condom.
"Be patient." Levi opened up the foil packet and pinched the tip of the condom as he rolled it down over himself. He spread more lube over himself and then ran his hands gently over Eren's sides. "How do you want to do this?"
Eren let his legs fall open further and reached up to Levi. "Just like this. I want to be able to see you."
Levi nodded and lined himself up, looking into Eren's eyes one last time for confirmation before he pushed himself inside. There was a bit more resistance than his fingers. He didn't rush, not wanting to hurt Eren, and he closely watched for Eren's expression to relax before he started to roll his hips. He kept his movements shallow at first, only strengthening them when Eren started to move to meet his thrusts. Sweat had started to stream down both their bodies when Eren cried out and tightened briefly around Levi.
Levi grunted and shifted his grip on Eren's hips so he could hit the same spot with better accuracy. Eren reached up and wrapped his hands around Levi's shoulders, pulling him down to him. Levi latched his lips onto Eren's collarbone as he felt the heat low in his belly coiling tighter. He could hear Eren repeating his name over and over as his hands clenched at Levi's back. "Eren. F-fuck, Eren. S-so good. You're so g-good, sweetheart."
Eren cried out, digging blunt nails into Levi's shoulders and arching his back beautifully as he came. Eren tightened impossibly around him, and Levi groaned and buried himself deep into Eren as his release flooded through him. A few more shallow thrusts milked both of them through their orgasms, and then Levi pulled out and collapsed to the bed beside Eren, shivering as the afterglow crackled along his skin. Levi reached for Eren, groping until he found his hand and laced their fingers together. He heard a soft laugh and opened his eyes to see Eren looking at him, his green eyes soft and almost seeming to glow from within. Levi's breath caught in his throat as his chest felt like it was filled to overflowing with emotions that he couldn't quite give voice to yet. Not because he didn't want to, but because there was so much there that it would take a lifetime to even begin to say it all.
So instead, he closed his eyes and leaned into Eren, pressing their lips together and mouthing three simple words, in the hopes that at least some small part of what he was feeling would convey itself with their meaning.
"I love you."
Eren woke up slowly. The first thing he was aware of was warmth - the warmth of Levi's body pressed against his own, their legs tangled together under the blankets. The morning light glowed against his closed eyelids, and Eren nuzzled his face further into Levi's hair. As Eren moved, there was a slight twinge in his lower back, and all the memories of the night before came flooding back, including the words Levi had murmured against his lips.
Eren felt a different kind of warmth filling him then, starting in his chest and flooding outwards until even his fingertips were tingling with it. Eren's arms tightened around Levi, and he whispered, "I love you, too." There was a hitch in Levi's even breathing, and he moved his hands over Eren's back. Eren blinked his eyes open and looked down, seeing silver-grey staring back at him. "How long have you been awake?"
"About half an hour, I think."
"You could have gotten me up."
Levi shrugged. "You looked like you could use the sleep. Besides, this is...nice."
Eren grinned. "It is." He leaned down, pressing a kiss against Levi's lips.
Levi returned it, but his brows furrowed together briefly when he pulled back. "Morning breath. Gross."
Eren laughed, and Levi huffed at him and buried his face against Eren's chest which only made Eren laugh harder.
Eren and Levi spent a lazy morning in bed, which eventually led to lazy morning sex, and by the time they managed to get up, shower, brush their teeth, and dress, they'd basically given up on having breakfast and settled for lunch.
Sunset found Eren reclining on the couch with Levi curled up in his lap. There was a movie playing, but Eren had no idea what it was. Not when all his concentration was taken up by the feeling of Levi's lips and teeth against his throat. A sharp pain blossomed within the fire running along his skin, and Eren knew there was going to be another mark added to the collection scattered across his neck and collarbones. Eren tugged at the bottom hem of Levi's shirt until he sat upright long enough to pull it off over his head, and then Levi had latched back onto Eren's neck, his fingers sliding along the waistband of Eren's pants until they reached the zipper and-
"Levi! I know you're home! I saw your car parked out front!"
Levi swore as the sound of someone banging on the door reverberated through the small apartment. He got up from the couch and stalked toward the door, yanking it open with a growled out, "What?!"
Hanji smiled brightly from the other side of the opening. Behind them, Eren could make out a brown-haired man peering over their shoulder with an apologetic expression and two tall blond men standing off to the side. "Now, Levi, I know you said you didn't want to join the four of us for dinner, but you really can't spend all your time just moping alone in your apartment. With Mikasa at her grandparents it's the perfect opportunity to-"
"I said I had plans this weekend." Levi crossed his arms over his bare chest.
"Hanji, dear, if Levi doesn't want to go out we shouldn't force him."
"Oh, hush. He's just grumpy because it's been too long since he was laid."
Levi slammed the door shut and turned back to the couch. He'd only made it half-way when there was the jingle of keys in the lock and Hanji walked into the apartment behind him. "Honestly, was that really necessary?"
"No, but it was immensely satisfying." He looked at the others and sighed. "You three might as well come in instead of standing out there."
The three men filed in, and one of the taller two smiled disarmingly. "Sorry about this, Levi. You know how Hanji gets when they..." He trailed off as Levi turned around to pick up his shirt from the floor. "What happened to your back?"
"Hm?" Levi craned his head backwards over his shoulder to look.
'Oh my God, did I do that?!'
Sets of parallel scratches, mostly concentrated around Levi's shoulders, ran down both sides of Levi's back. Levi shrugged his shirt back on. "I have no idea. Maybe you should ask Eren."
"Uh..." Four sets of eyes were suddenly focused on Eren, as if they had just noticed him sitting there. Eren slunk back into the cushions, pulling up the loose neck of his sweater in a futile attempt to hide the hickies that he was suddenly very self-conscious of. "Um, hi?"
"Levi!!" Hanji shrieked and threw their arms around Levi's shoulders. "Why didn't you tell me?!"
"Because my love life is none of your damn business!"
"Ah! You said 'love life!'"
"Oof! Get the fuck off me, Shitty Glasses! Mo! A little help here?"
It took about twenty minutes to get Hanji calmed down and introductions exchanged. The brunet, who did most of the calming, was Hanji's boyfriend, Moblit, and the two blonds were Levi's boss, Erwin, and Erwin's husband-slash-business partner, Mike. After they left, Levi leaned against the door and sighed. He pushed himself off the door and walked back over to Eren. He flopped back down into the position he'd been occupying earlier and buried his face into Eren's sweater. "Fuckin' weirdos."
Eren laughed and brought one arm around Levi's shoulders, his other hand playing with the ends of Levi's hair. "I dunno, they seemed nice."
Levi cracked one eye open to peer up at Eren. "You say that after Mike fucking sniffed you."
Eren shrugged. "Okay, maybe that was a little strange, but they all seem to care a lot about you. And..." He smiled shyly down at Levi. "I really liked it when you called me your boyfriend."
Levi blinked up at him before quickly hiding his face against Eren's shirt again. "I... liked it, too." His words were almost lost as he mumbled them into the fabric.
Eren decided not to comment on the decidedly pink color tinging the tips of Levi's ears. Instead he asked, "Hey, do you think you'd be able to take a couple weeks of vacation this summer?"
"Are you kidding? Erwin would be ecstatic. He's always nagging me to use my vacation days. Why?"
"Well, my parents are in Germany until next fall, and I was going to visit them and my grandparents once school is out, and I was wondering if you'd maybe...want to come with me? You and Mikasa, I mean. I'd, uh..." Eren could feel his cheeks heating up, but he took a deep breath and continued. "I'd really like you to meet my family."
Levi lifted his head to look at Eren, eyes wide in surprise before his expression softened into a smile. "I'd love to, Eren."
"Oh, good." Eren let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding and Levi laughed and leaned up to kiss him.
As their lips joined together, Eren felt a sense of peace, of belonging, settle over him. He closed his eyes and ran his hand down Levi's arm until he found Levi's fingers and twined them together with his own. As their breathing, their heartbeats, synced into a steady rhythm, Eren felt a growing certainty that wherever Levi was that was where he was meant to be as well.
He was home.
~10 Years Later~
"Dad, are you ready to go?"
Eren looked up from where he was shuffling papers together on his desk. A young woman stood in the doorway of his classroom, her fingers playing with the ends of a red scarf wrapped around her neck. He smiled. "Sure, Mikasa, just give me a minute. If I forget anything, I won't be able to get it until the Christmas break is over."
Mikasa nodded and waited patiently for him to store everything away in his briefcase and then grab his own scarf and coat from the closet. They walked together down the nearly deserted halls of the high school, students and teachers alike eager to get out of there and start their break. Eren's car was one of the last ones left on the parking lot, and he quickly got in and started the ignition to get it warmed up.
Mikasa moved a bit slower, and she hesitated as she pulled her seat belt across herself. "I have my Learner's Permit now. I could drive us home."
Eren shook his head. "You know your father doesn't want you to drive unless he's in the car."
She frowned. "Papa doesn't have to know if you don't tell him. Please, Dad."
Eren tapped his fingers against the wheel. "We're going out to see the Christmas lights tonight; I'll try to convince him to let you drive at least part of the way. You need more practice night driving, anyway."
"Okay." Mikasa smiled at him, a small, tight-lipped smile exactly like Levi's. Eren smiled back, and then he pulled out of the parking lot. The ride home was quiet, Mikasa spending most of her time tapping away on her phone until Eren pulled up the driveway and into their garage. They'd moved out of Levi's tiny apartment and into a modest, two-story house about seven years ago when Eren had moved on from substitute teaching to a permanent position at Trost High School. Mikasa had liked it because they were just down the street from Annie's house. Eren had liked it because of the large, fenced-in backyard. Levi had liked it because the walls were of a composition thicker than "paper" and the master bedroom door locked.
They hung up their coats and scarves just inside the garage door. Mikasa had long since gotten over wanting to wear the scarf everywhere, but it was still the only one she would use. Eren nodded at the scarf. "You know, Grandma Carla would probably be more than happy to make you a new one."
"I know, but I like this one." Mikasa turned to Eren with another small smile. "It's the first gift my Dad ever gave me, after all."
Levi was mentally drained when he made it home, but the sight of Eren standing in the kitchen and putting the finishing touches on dinner while his daughter set the table did wonders to lift his mood. After taking off his outerwear, Levi padded across the tile floor to stand behind Eren. He lifted up on his toes a little to kiss the nape of Eren's neck as his arms went around his waist from behind. "I'm home."
Eren set the bowl he was holding down on the counter and brought his left hand up to cover Levi's, their wedding bands clinking together as he did. "Welcome home."
Mikasa pulled out her phone from her pocket and discreetly snapped a picture of the scene happening behind her in the kitchen.
"The parentals are getting sappy over salad. Again."
A short while later, she received a snap of Annie rolling her eyes. Reiner and Bertholt were standing behind her, their backs to the camera, and Reiner's hand very un-discreetly resting on Bertholt's ass.
"I feel ur pain"
It was shortly followed by another reply, this one with two snaps: an uncaptioned picture of Jean lying down on the couch with his head in Marco's lap while he yelled at something on TV and Marco fought back a smile, and then a selfie of Armin arching one eyebrow as he peered over his glasses at the camera.
I want to thank everyone that took the time to comment, to leave kudos, or to simply read my silly, self-indulgent fluff.
Without you, well, I'd still be writing, but it wouldn't be as much fun.
Thank you all! \(^o^)/
(Also, Armin is asexual but alloromantic in this fic. I'm kind of leaving it up in the air if he's just housemates with Jean and Marco or if they've entered a poly relationship in the last ten years. If you're REALLY curious, you can send me an ask on Tumblr. (bfketh.tumblr.com) I don't bite. Unless you're into that kind of thing.
...I should probably stop while I'm ahead.)