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My big, big friend

Chapter Text

Levi found him just beyond his backyard, where his mother had warned him explicitly not to go wandering alone. Or with anyone else, for that matter. The heavy patter of rain was like a drone as the night grayed, the small solar bulbs lining the porch a gloomy addition to the persistently anguished sky. His mother would probably come looking for him in a second when she notices his absence. 

Levi huffed, slapping a hand to his cheek to support it as he glumly stared ahead and let himself be soaked. His bicycle lay a small distance away in the mud, his boredom practically oozing out into negative vibes and hanging heavy in the air. 

"That boy's gone off again. Have you seen him anywhere?" 

He sprang up at the sound of his mother's voice, muffled, unable to will himself to think about going to bed. So he ran mindlessly, out the fence, the small distance between his home and the woods, and crashed into a pile of brush just as the backdoor swung open.

There was a soft protest, and the door clicked shut again. Levi grimaced at the sting of his palms. He got up, mud staining him head to toe, and blew on his painfully scraped hands before looking for his sneaker. It caught on to a twist of brush during his fall and he put it on quickly, wiping his mud ridden nose before weaving through the woods again. 

To his dismay, there was nothing in the forest but trees and bushes and trees and the occasional wet ditch he tripped on. There were odd noises everywhere and the mud was drying at that point, and he came to the conclusion that he was very irritated.

And just as much lost. 

He should've went to bed, he decided, when a loud and consecutive string of branches breaking reached his ears. He took shelter behind a tree, peeking around it slightly as he quieted his breathing and warily watched his dark surroundings.

When nothing happened or moved in forever, he sighed in relief and pulled away from the tree. He turned around, stumbled back and screamed, screamed until he couldn't hear himself screaming anymore.

Then he suddenly woke up. "I was dreaming." he breathed right away, blinking his eyes open in a post traumatic, nervous excitement. Instead of being met with his glow in the dark planet peppered roof, he was met with the sight of morning filtering through the forest canopy. He jumped to his feet in fright again, afraid of seeing that-that thing from last night. The area was clear, all forest and trees, except-

He fell back on his butt again and clamped a hand over his mouth before he screamed. The creature's eyes widened a bit and it reeled back, and it of all things looked frightened. It opened it's mouth, and Levi nearly thought it would speak, but it emitted a small mixture between a timid growl and a whine instead.

Levi was suddenly conflicted between referring to it as an it or he-because it suddenly occurred to him that the creature looked very much human. If not tenfold the size, that is. He-it, whatever, stared down at him with doe wide green eyes, the ferocious looking ones yesterday that scared the shit out of him. It's features looked human, except for those two rows of teeth that nearly split his face in half. Dark, shaggy hair fell around it's face and his very ripped body was embarrassingly bare, except it's squat and the way it curled it's arms around it's knees made it look almost-vulnerable. 

"Don't eat me." Levi suddenly burst, and he nearly hit himself for talking to this thing, but to his surprise, it only shook it's head quickly. A small rainfall of leaves hit Levi with the movement.

"Wait," He whispered."You understand me?"

A nod.

Levi blinked, rubbed at the back of his undercut to make sure he didn't hit his head too hard last night. The thing moved it's hand forward, and he nearly jumped up, but it stopped it's hand midair until Levi somewhat relaxed again.

Then it prodded it's finger in a small patch of mud, struggling to keep it legible in such a small area. Levi blinked. It was writing. It was fucking writing.

He moved his hand back and put it back where it was, and Levi decided that was his invitation to look. So he got up and stretched his neck to get a look. It was far beyond chicken scratch.

"E...Eren?" He mumbled, and it nodded, eyes weirdly lighting up. It pointed at itself, and Levi's jaw might have loosened a little.

"Eren. You're Eren." He said again, and Levi was sure if he could smile then he would have, but the crinkle of his lower eyelids said enough. One of his pointed ears that Levi hadn't payed attention to before twitched a little, and it was the weirdest gesture, but it was communicative for some reason. And it was really, really cute. Weirdly cute.

"I'm Levi." He said before he could stop himself.

Chapter Text

When Levi returned home, reluctantly after Eren's kicked puppy expression and pitiful whines, it was a bit chaotic. Police were everywhere, his mother was a mess, and to his dismay, he made it just in time to wash up and get ready for school. He didn't have time to tell his mother about anything, though, until she was ushering him out the door.

"You'll be late if you don't hurry. Have a good day, honey." She said before he could even open his mouth, and he didn't bother with his father on the ride to school, he wouldn't believe him anyway.

The highlight of his day would probably be the new student, a bit too bright eyed and cheery for his liking, but a bit fascinating, too. Fascinating because Levi didn't know how it was possible to know this much Erens in such a short amount of time. 

He was messy haired and easily distracted, and Levi waited for him to trip on that oversized red scarf any minute. He didn't, and the smile he shot Levi was practically impossible.

Levi slumped by the window seat and his thoughts were drawn back to last night, and he almost told Hanji about the uncontainable discovery. Almost. It was hard for a child to know this much and reasonably deal with it. But he wasn't going to be declared crazy just yet.

Levi was used to sitting with only his two friends at lunch, but Erwin was absent today and Hanji, as always, never sat in one place. She was that annoying little intruder to all the conversations she could manage. 

He sat alone, not necessarily bothered because it was nice to be able to just eat and not answer to a thousand questions. That was too much to ask for, apparently.

"Hi." 

Eren had already pulled back the chair beside him and taken a seat. Levi wasn't very used to this spontaneous social situationing. 

He eyed Eren with genuine curiosity and lack of words as he bit into his apple. Eren just smiled a little and put his hands on the table. 

Levi turned back to stare ahead and munch on his food, but he was subconsciously aware of the boy's fidgeting foot and the empty space in front of him were he should've put his lunch box.

"Aren't you going to eat anything?" He asked, straightforward as always. Eren shrugged.

"I'm not hungry."

"Oh." Levi said. He fumbled with the straw in his hand for a second, still not peeling the plastic off. Then he slid his juice box towards Eren, not sure why he did, but feeling the need to do so.

"But I'm not...hungry." Eren said again.

"Well you're thirsty, aren't you?"

Eren blinked, looking slightly confused."No?"

"Drink it." Levi said in a sense of finality, picking up his apple again. He gave Eren a glance after a moment to find him staring at the juice box from different angles. The brunet met Levi's gaze and his eyes flicked around as if in embarrassment.

"It's juice." Levi mumbled, honestly unable to figure out why he looked so conflicted. He grabbed the straw and poked it in place. Then he put it back in front of Eren again. He pulled out his sandwich, missed Eren giving the straw a cautious lick, and was satisfied to find him sipping on it in another second. Hanji was still somewhere unidentifiable. 

"Thanks." Eren said after a minute, and Levi hummed, uncommitted. He went quiet, but the need to talk practically radiated off of him. So he did."I'm new to this place. It's nice here."

Levi didn't say anything, so he continued."I made a new friend already." He said with a small smile, and Levi didn't know where the "So did I" came from. Eren gave him a look he couldn't read.

"That's nice." A pause."You know, you look a lot like someone I used to know. It's funny."

"Really?"

"Yeah." He smiled."Except she was a girl. She didn't say much. But when she did, she made up for it."

There was also something in his voice he couldn't identify.

"She had black hair and grey eyes, too. And she taught me so many things."

"You're saying a lot of was." Levi idly pointed out.

"Well, she's dead." He said with a sigh, and Levi internally cringed. Eren shut his eyes for a moment and dipped his head in his scarf. He came back with a smile, only a small glaze over his eyes."But it's okay now."

"But she's dead."

Eren paused."I told you, I made a new friend."

"But that's not her, right?" Levi didn't know why he was saying all this stuff.

"I get used to it."

Levi tried to read him for another second, but gave up. He didn't understand what he meant. The bell ringed before further talk could be exchanged.

"It's nice to meet you, Levi."

"Yeah." He murmured, moving to throw his trash away. It occurred to him then. He turned around."How do you know my-"

Eren was gone.

-

Levi didn't tell his mother anything when he returned that day, because in the end he decided it sounded dumb and fake. As much as he believed otherwise. He was going to look for Eren before night fell, and maybe he would muster up the courage to bring someone with him to see.

Only he found himself alone in there again, ducking under low branches as he looked around for something that shouldn't take that long to find. If he didn't find him quick, then he wouldn't make it in time before his mother freaked out again. He'd probably get grounded.

Or worse, stay in here during nightfall. 

Finally, he saw it, that glimpse of a flesh, of dark hair in the distance, and for some reason the sight didn't frighten him any less. He stood there at a distance, heart pounding, conflicted until Eren finally turned his head around and blinked at him in that round eyed cluelessness that such a huge and powerful seeming creature couldn't possibly posses. Then he growled, loud and unthreatening, his ear twitched a little and Levi made the rest of his way towards him with steps no longer timid.

"Hey, buddy."

Chapter Text

Levi was having a very hard time getting this through. His mother merely blinked back at him in curious patience, and he tugged at the sleeve of his sweater in a thoughtful gesture."Well he's really, really big and has these huge teeth, and I think he needs to brush his hair maybe, and get some clothes, too. His eyes are really big like a puppy's." He said, his own eyes shining a bit as he met his mother's gaze."His name's Eren. And-" Levi made a useless motion to his ear."He can move his ears real weird."

She blinked in thought for a second, smile playing at her lips as she held both Levi's hands in her own."Darling, since when did you become such an amazing tale weaver?"

Levi did a double take, eyebrows pinching together in a hurt frown."You mean you don't believe me?"

His mother paused a little, mulling it over."You're smarter than that."

"I don't lie to you."

"I know you don't." She sighed, ruffling his hair affectionately."Go finish your homework and come down for dinner, alright? We'll talk about this later."

Levi stared out his window, sullenly pressing his cheek against it and watching the unmoving woods in disappointment. He wished he could get a glimpse, a small one, maybe to show his mother too, but Eren never stood up for some reason. He always found a spot to shrink in on himself as much as possible.

Maybe everyone else didn't like Eren.

He stayed there, thought consumed, until he was called down for dinner.

His mother never brought it up again. Levi took this as a sign to do the same.

The next day was all too repetitive, the only small difference being Eren. He joined them during recess, earned a smile and question from Erwin, earned Hanji's full blown curiosity as well. Levi was almost envious of how well he instantly got along with them, made himself at home with the trio. 

But he always drew back to Levi, like they knew each other since forever. A day couldn't make that much of a difference, really. But Eren didn't seem to think so.

He retreated to the empty swings for a while, feet lightly scraping against the sand as he stared downwards, the chains creaking in a rhythm with every slow movement. He heard the other swing move and whine, but he wasn't too surprised.

"Are you sad?" Eren mumbled, and Levi looked up at the question.

"No."

"She always looked sad, too." He said more to himself, and Levi blinked in confusion as he fixed his grip on the chain.

"Who?"

"My friend."

Levi sighed lightly."Oh." He pushed against the ground, let himself swing a bit."What's her name?"

Eren snuggled his face into his scarf and sighed."I forgot."

"Oh." Levi said again, like he always did when Eren told him something he couldn't quite put his finger on.

"It was a long time ago."

The raven blinked up at the sky in thought."You miss her?"

"Yeah."

They went quiet for a short amount of time, the only noises being the creaking of the rusted swings and the children bustling around the yard. Levi idly slipped a hand in his pocket, pulling out a small packet and ripping the top."Want some?" 

Eren glanced towards him, regarding the offered packet."What is it?"

"Fizzy candy." Levi said, giving it a small shake. Eren stared at it some more before cautiously putting out his palm. Levi poured half of it into his hand, and Eren just brought it close and inspected it."You never had it before?"

"M-m." He shook his head, licked it out of his hand, tongued it around a little, and then gave Levi a wide eyed look."It's-it's-" He winced."Popping."

Levi's eyes shone in amusement."That's the point."

"Hey-ow." Eren cringed again, trying to swallow it. It popped in his throat, too. Levi pressed his lips together, but couldn't help a small chuckle. 

Eren narrowed his eyes a bit, cupping his jaw."You eat it, then."

Levi shrugged and tossed the rest of it in his mouth. He leaned a bit to the side and beckoned Eren towards him, too."Listen. You hear it fizz?"

The brunet nearly pressed his ear to Levi's cheek, tongue peeking out a bit in concentration."Sounds like soap." It popped loudly suddenly, and he gave Levi a look. Then he breathed a laugh. Levi smiled a little.

"It doesn't actually hurt." Eren mumbled on second thought."It's just weird."

"You like it?"

"Yeah." He grinned."Wanna swing race?"

"Sure. You can't beat me, though."

"Heh, we'll see."

-

It came to him as a small thought, as a few days passed and both Erens seemed to be embedded into his everyday life. Eren was sitting beside him, asking an unbelievable amount of questions during there science class. What's this tree called, why does that leaf look like this, why are there food chains, what happens if you break a food chain, does a food chain rust?

Levi just held his chin with his hand and tried to keep up with him."Eren, you listen in class, don't you?"

"Yeah."

"Then why are you asking so many questions?"

"Well. I just, I want to know." He went sheepish, maybe felt like he was bothering Levi.

"It's fine, I can help you."

He grinned, his green blue eyes lit up, and Levi was in the forest behind their home all of a sudden. He quickly snapped himself out of it.

"Hey, uh." He began, forming a sentence in his mind."We're friends, right?"

Eren blinked in surprise."Yeah, of course we are. I mean, you're my only friend."

Levi paused."No I'm not. you're friends with everybody in school."

"There's friends, and then there's...that friend." Eren shrugged.

"Oh." Levi didn't get it. "What the difference?"

"Well you're my best friend." He rephrased, going completely serious."The difference is...you last a lot longer."

He blinked, eyes flickering around Eren's face for a second."You sure?"

"Yeah." A small grin adorned his lips, but his eyes were sad."You're like her."

Levi didn't know why, but he knew that meant a lot. He meant a lot. It made him feel different, suddenly, even if it was only in the eyes of one person.

Chapter Text

He was sitting cross legged in front of Eren, quiet and thoughtful, while the endearing beast mirrored his actions and blinked at him earnestly. He was almost like an oversized pet that Levi wanted to bring back home but knew he couldn't.

His ear twitched, Levi's stomach clenched, and he chewed on the inside of his lip."You're big. An inconvenience like mom likes to say."

Eren's eyes drifted to the side apologetically, and his shoulders slumped.

"That's okay. You wouldn't be Eren if you were small and cuddly, right?"

His bottom eyelids crinkled, and he let out a series of broken low huffs. It resembled a laugh. It was a laugh. 

"Why don't you ever stand up?" He asked in genuine curiosity, and Eren stared back at him as he tried to find a way to answer. He lifted a hand over his head to emphasize his exposure if he did, curled his fingers around his eyes in a binoculars-like imitation, then positioned his hands in the air as you would if you held a machine gun with one eye cracked open, and pretended to snap his neck.

Levi broke into a fit of giggles."Who would try to kill you?"

He paused, his eyes saddened, and he gave Levi a light shove on the chest with his finger. Levi stared at him in disbelief for a second."Me?"

He nodded.

"But-" He didn't know how to argue to that, not when he hadn't expected Eren to have such a thought in the first place."But you're my friend."

Eren growled lightly. He motioned behind him. Dark. It was getting dark. He had to go home.

Levi was hurt. But Eren looked even more hurt. So he hugged him, wrapped his arms around what a small portion of his wrist he could reach. Eren was warm, like always."I wouldn't kill you." He said softly, before turning around and running through the woods lest it darkened and he lost is way.

-

He didn't know how he convinced them, but he did and here they were, Levi's hand loosely in his moms as they stood in their backyard, as he excitedly described to her his object of fascination in more detail.

His father had went to get something, and in a minute had stepped out the door and shut it softly. The look in her eyes was sober when she met his gaze, and his smile hardened."Did you get it?"

"Yes." He murmured, before shooting Levi another grin."Alright. Let's go meet our weird neighbor." 

"Don't call him weird." Levi protested as they walked out the fence."You might hurt his feelings."

They laughed softly, and Levi grinned in excitement.

"This place is-" His mother murmured as she uneasily glanced around, ducking and barely missing a low branch."How do you sneak out here every night, darling? Aren't you afraid?"

"Eren can protect me."

"Ohhh." She sighed with a smile, giving her husband a subtle look."That's nice of him." 

"Mhm." He moved on ahead of them, expertly avoiding ditches and branches, peeking around in search of Eren. They were almost at the right place."There he is!" Levi ran between a belt of trees, hearing his parents follow.

Eren was sitting in an open space, just enough for him to get comfortable with, and the giant's eyes lit up as he turned his head towards the voice's source. Levi ran towards him, his mother screamed, and a tight grip around his waist pulled him back and against his father's chest. Levi opened his mouth in surprise, at the look of horror on Eren's face, at his father's expression when he tilted his head back and upwards. 

"He won't hurt you." He murmured, frightened by the display in front of him. His father pushed him behind him and into his mother's hold.

"It'll be okay, honey." She murmured shakily into his hair, just as his father reached behind his back, extracting something sleek and black tucked into the waistband of his pants.

A gun.

Levi screamed. Then his father aimed, and all he could yell was,"Run, run, run!"

Eren was one step ahead of them, standing on his feet and making the ground rumble with his movement. He stood his full height, and it was a terrifying picture, but all he did was turn his back towards them and ran, shook the ground with each foothold, and the weapon clattered out of his father's trembling hold far before the tremors in the earth stopped.

They went back home, the woods behind no longer woods but a trampled wreckage. And all Levi could tell them between sobs was,"I hate you, I hate you so much."

"It's for your own good, dear."

"It's for your own good." Liars. They were all liars.

"They have to know." Was the first thing his father declared when he stepped foot home, pulling out his cell phone."That monster can't be strolling around freely like this."

One Eren gone, the other a day after. Eren never came back to school.

-

He had no pictures, no proof, no nothing. He had an imprint and a scar in his mind, a twist in his stomach when he remembers, and rainy days to bring his nostalgia all back.

Today it rained, and his stomach hurt again. Every shadow behind a tree was a glimpse of black and tan, of curious green and low, barely audible growls. Sometimes it was a red scarf, a brilliant smile, the look of fizzy candy horror and the rust of chains.

Today was a jumbled up mixture of both.

He shook the rain off of his umbrella, put his boots on a grimy shoe rack and tied a chocolate brown apron around his waist. He smoothed down his semi moist hair a bit with his fingers in front of a small mirror in the locker room before stepping into his part time job. He usually brought some schoolwork with him to finish during these hours, he always had time to spare because whoever picked this location for a coffee shop didn't have much of merchandising brain. But hey, a coffee shop was a coffee shop, and there was always brain dead people seeking for the nearest coffee shop.

He grabbed a rag instantly, hunting a spot down on the counter top with his stare and wiping it while Erwin clocked out. "Slow today?"

"Yeah." Erwin massaged his neck a bit."Got a lot of studying hours."

"Don't understand why you'd need to study, genius." He grumbled, fixing a stack of cups that had went a bit awry.

He chuckled a bit."I know you're not very fond of Physics. Call me tonight if you need anything."

"Mhm." Levi murmured, Erwin leaving. After finding absolutely nothing on his hands to do, he sat back and pulled out his textbook. Not even a second later, the bell jingled. Levi instantly put it away and got on his feet. "Afternoon." He said uncommitedly as the person approached. He gave him a second glance that was longer than the first.

His hair was messy, his smile big, his eyes everywhere. The red scarf, for once, fit on him. Then his eyes settled back on Levi, and they widened a bit."Heeey, look at this." His voice had also dropped a few octaves."It's you."

Levi smirked, ignoring the way his stomach twisted in something like nerves."Dead guy isn't dead. Surprise."

"It wasn't my choice, really. Family and all." He rolled his eyes, leaning his arms against the counter. Then he regarded Levi again, and the way his eyes and smile softened hadn't changed a bit."You grew up." It came out quiet and choked.

"You bet I did." Levi said firmly, and Eren laughed a little."What can I get you?"

He shrugged."Anything sugary and chocolaty enough." He paused in thought."Oh. With that extra fluffy stuff on top."

"You mean whipped cream? How do you not know what whipped cream is called?"

"Now I do."

Levi made him the grossest, most sugar infested cup of childish pleasures he was capable of. Eren took a sip and practically melted all over the counter."Yes. This. Yes."

The raven watched him in mild amusement and rolled his eyes, fumbling with something in his pocket for a second before tossing it over the counter. 

Eren's eyes swept towards it and he inspected it."I remember these." He beamed.

"Me too." 

Eren put his drink aside and picked up the small packet, ripped the top and poured a good amount of it in his hand. He winced again when he put it in his mouth."Still weirds me out. But I like it."

Levi wanted to tell him something dumb, like, hey, it's great to see you again or something, but it was dumb and he wasn't saying it. So instead he scribbled down his phone number and address and gave it to him."Stop by sometime."

Eren's eyes lit up."Thanks." He pulled out a few dollars and put them on the counter."I'll see around then, Levi." Another grin and he was gone. 

Again, Levi forgot to ask him how he knew his name in the first place.

 

Chapter Text

Levi worried a bit when he got no answer from Eren for nearly a week. Maybe he'd went a bit far to give him his number, maybe Eren couldn't find it in him to befriend him anymore. Or maybe Eren would just disappear without a trace or reason again, and who knew if they'd meet sometime along the way.

He usually doesn't care this much, as Hanji noticed and pointed out. Every two seconds he glances at his phone, waiting for something or someone.

"I feel like..." He reasoned, as he sat across from her during their break."Like he's lonely." It was just a random thought, fleeting.

"He's so friendly, I don't understand why he would be."

Levi stared into his cup of tea silently, watching his still reflection."It's like she was his only friend before."

"Hm? Who?"

"Nothing."

_

"Hello?" Levi picked up as he stuffed his text books into his backpack.

"Hi, it's Eren."

"Eren-hey." He might have been a bit too enthusiastic, hitting his head against his open locker as he got up, earning a glance and a smirk from Erwin. He rubbed at his undercut with a grimace.

A pause."...You okay?"

"Fine." He said, trying his hardest to level his voice again. There was whooshy static through his end-Eren standing outside from the apparent.

"I hope I didn't call at an inconvenient time." He said apologetically.

"Nah, you're good."

"I was wondering if I could visit sometime?" 

"Of course." He said hastily again, smacking Erwin with a binder when he stifled a laugh.

"Great." He could practically hear the smile in his voice."I think we have some catching up to do."

"Damn right." Levi found himself smiling a bit as he leaned down again to zip his backpack closed, quickly wiping it off his face as he got up and shut his locker because geez, since when was he a goof. "It's my day off today, wanna come over?"

"That'd be great."

"Alright, see you. Better be quick."

He laughed."See ya."

Levi ended the call, Hanji joined them with her books in her hand and backpack carelessly slung onto one shoulder, and Erwin gave Levi a look.

The raven shut his locker and gave the taller a glance out of the corner of his eye."Stop it."

"What is this?" He raised a thick eyebrow, giving Hanji a look. He put a hand to mock block Levi's view from his lips."Is he caring?" He whispered to Hanji, who put a an index finger to her chin and stared up in contemplation.

"I think so."

"You two are horrible." He grumbled, stepping away from his locker and they followed him.

"Do we get some care, too?" Erwin inquired.

"No."

"I wanna see Eren again. Your parents won't mind us over, right?" Hanji chipperly added.

"They don't." He sighed."But do."

"Ohhh." Erwin nodded."It's a date, then. Don't wanna be the third wheel."

Levi hit him with a binder again, he snickered, and they walked back home with him.

-

"This is Eren." Levi introduced as the said brunet fidgeted from foot to foot, eyes flickering from one of his parents to the other. Levi just took that as nerves-meeting strange people for the first time.

His green eyes searched for something in their faces, his fingers fumbling with a backpack strap. They smiled warmly, and a nervous one graced his lips.

"It's nice to meet you, Eren. Levi tells us a lot about you." His mom began, and Levi blushed despite himself.

"Yeah, whatever."

"Hey there, son."

Eren's eyes quickly snapped towards his father, and momentary alarm dissipated into a smile. Levi didn't understand why he was still acting like this."Hello." He stammered, and Levi lead him up stairs.

"Your house is warm." He said idly, stepping into Levi's room.

"Yeah?"

"Oh." Eren paused, blinked at the two other occupants of the room. Hanji grinned at him from her sprawl on the bed, dropping some superhero comic book in favor of fixing her glasses. Erwin stopped spinning in his chair.

He smiled."This is a pleasant surprise."

"Great! We thought we ruined your date." Levi smacked her in the face with the pillow she'd discarded and told her to put it back where she found it. Eren stammered something, stopped, and awkwardly scratched at his arm.

They sat down on the carpet after a while, exchanged small talk, some interrogative questions from Hanji's part, Eren's everlasting curiosity and unhindered wonder at everything. He still acted like a child. Still beamed when Levi tossed him a packet of fizzy candy.

He's never eaten it, but he's always had it within reach just in case. A detail no one had to know.

A while later, Eren picked up hanji's comic book and read, eyes widening and narrowing in reaction every now and then. He put it down after a while."Wow."

"Hm?"

"Pretty cool, uh, book."

"Really?" Hanji said excitedly."Levi says they're shitty."

"They're nice. They have pictures."

"Hah." Hanji snuggled her face to his arm, and he only blinked in surprise."I love you already."

Levi motioned to her uselessly with a hand."She's weird."

"It's fine." Eren said with a small laugh. They spent the rest of the afternoon like this, chitchatting in a friendly manner, until Hanji and Erwin decided to leave.

"Uh, guess I'll go too." Eren decided, giving the clock a glance.

"You don't have to." Levi quickly said, inwardly kicking himself. Someone giggled by his door."I mean, you can if you want."

He casually shoved Hanji's face through his door, the brunette mouthing a, "Have fun".

"Really?"

"Yeah, I mean I guess." 

Eren smiled and plopped back down on the rug. He dipped his face in his scarf as Levi took a seat again, fingers playing at the rug's fuzz. He took another glance around, set his eyes back on Levi. "You play sports?"

"Soccer."

Eren nodded, laughing after a second."You're room's so clean. Mine would never be this neat."

"First world problems."

Eren obviously didn't get it, but smiled anyway. There was always something he didn't get. Like he wasn't even from the same time zone. They fell into a silence, a bit awkward, Eren seemingly trying to get a grasp of words while he was at it. He sighed, opened his mouth to say something, fixed Levi with a look and stopped. Levi folded a leg to his chest, rested his arm against it. Gave Eren a questioning look.

"Hey, you know..." Another pause. Eren shut his mouth, opened it again."I trust you." He said finally, gaze unwavering. Levi was slightly taken aback by his genuine expression. 

"Why?" He said, of all things, and Eren shrugged in honest cluelessness.

"I just do."

"Oh." There he was--making him speechless again. He always seemed to be able to do that.

"And I really want to tell you something." This time, his eyes sobered up."And when I say I haven't told it to a living soul, then I mean not a single soul."

Eren, being the child he was, could only be so much. Could only know so much. So Levi humored him, put his chin in his hand as a smirk tugged at his lips."Alright."

The brunet looked around, put his hands on his knees and leaned forward a bit."Promise you won't tell anyone?" he whispered.

Levi only stared at him for a second. It hadn't occurred to him--but Eren was so fucking endearing it made his chest his hurt. He smiled a bit."Of course not."

"I didn't tell her." He said softly, fingers in his lap twirling together.

Her.

"I was too afraid to tell her. Then she grew up and died and never knew who I really was."

Levi was all ears now, Eren casting him a self conscious, hesitant glance.

"Maybe you'll hate me." He shrugged."But at least you'll know."

"What are you talking about?" Levi said impatiently, and the brunet wrapped his arms around himself.

"I'm. Well, you see. I'm Eren."

Levi blinked, and his brow furrowed."You pulling my leg?"

"No. I'm...the Eren in the woods behind your yard." He forced out, quickly casting his gaze downwards.

The Eren in the woods behind your yard, Levi played over in his head, glancing upwards in a gesture of thought. He went silent, mulled it over, logically made sense of it all. It was too long for Eren.

"Sorry." He croaked."I probably freaked you out. I'll just..." He made a move to get up, but Levi gently grabbed his wrist.

"My entire life makes so much more sense right now." He breathed in sudden clarity, and Eren stared back, startled at the reaction."You'd better not be lying to me."

He smiled, relieved and almost bashful."I can move my ears."

He did without touching them, and Levi laughed despite himself, because it looked plain funny and holy shit he was going crazy."I have to see it with my own eyes."

Eren pulled him up and led him downstairs, and it was raining, his bike drenched as it lay to the side, and it was all like six years ago again. He was alone last time.

No, he wasn't. He stopped just at the space between his yard and the woods, Eren giving him a look.

"My dad." He said, and it dawned on Eren. But instead of looking traumatized, looking afraid--he only scrunched up his nose and shrugged.

"You knew I would nearly kill you. And I was so close to doing it."

"It wasn't you." He shook his hair, water flying everywhere."I don't die that easily. Not with a gun, anyway. Just--it's a long story."

"Do you, like, shape shift?" He asked idly when they were maneuvering through the woods again, Levi forgetting the place and tripping at every branch while Eren laughed at him. After all, he hadn't stepped foot in here since that incident.

"I don't really shape shift."

They stopped at the clearing, and Levi felt a mystical sense of nostalgia wash over him all of a sudden. It wasn't really sad de ja vu bull crap-it was just so pleasantly familiar and the way it all made sense-it was all crazy but it made sense.

"I sort of...shape explode."

Eren stepped a small distance away from him, and Levi eyed him with fixed curiosity.

"Close your eyes, this'll get ugly."

"Hey, you think you could trick me and whip up a giant while I ain't watching?"

Eren laughed, shrugging."Your call."

Levi understood what he meant by ugly. He put the side of his thumb in his hand, Levi heard the sounds of his skin breaking and ripping, and before he could cringe at the copious amount of blood there was something like a thunderbolt and the sound was practically deafening. 

It could pass as mere thunder anytime.

But it wasn't. Levi blinked his eyes open, they widened as his heart picked up, and he was glancing straight up into the enormous eyes of his lovable childhood pet.

His chest heaved, his neck ached from staring so high up, and he fell on his ass without realizing. His jaw might have been hanging open, he was mind blown.

Eren just stared down at him curiously. The Eren that was human a moment ago. The Eren with the red scarf and heartwarming smile.

He breathed heavily, stared some more, and laughed along the way."Well then. It's nice to meet you, Eren."

His bottom eyelids crinkled and his ear twitched.

Chapter Text

"Can we talk?" Levi says, and it only takes these words for him to experience by far one of the most traumatizing experiences of his life. 

Eren looks up as if in thought, then in concentration, and the bit of a tongue peeks out before he collapses to the ground in a loud and huge heap.

Levi cringes, searches his body questioningly for any sign of whatever the hell just caused this spontaneous reaction, and gets up to check it out. He lay limp completely, Levi was confused when he rounded his massive body. He touched the skin, and was suddenly aware of wisps of white smoke hovering over Eren.

"What the-" The skin under his hand fell, melted away, and he stared in confused horror at the sight. The entire body was simply melting away, just evaporating into smoke. It didn't make sense, but it looked scary.

But then the skin of the nape ripped with a pop, and a figure was crawling out.

Eren--the human Eren--detached the last of some weird residue from his shoe and clumsily fell over the now useless heap of meat.

"It's hot." He said, waving his hand in pain."I'm hot." He chuckled, excessively pleased with himself for making that joke. Then he glanced up at Levi, raised an eyebrow, and strode over towards him. He grabbed his shoulders."Levi, you okay?"

The raven stiffened when he was slapped, right out of fucking nowhwere. He whipped his head back to give Eren a look."What the fuck was that for?"

Eren blinked in surprise, expression quickly turning apologetic."I'm so sorry! You looked so stumped I thought you needed a--"

Then, just as spontaneously, Eren had pulled him into a hug and his nose was buried in the taller's chest."I'm sorry." He repeated, and Levi remained still when Eren didn't make a move to pull back, still unable to react properly.

A moment of silence ensued, and Eren's chest heaved with a sigh."I've always wanted to do this."

Levi's cheeks heated up slightly."What, hug me?"

"I didn't hug her." He said in a remorseful whisper."I regret it so much."

Her again. Levi felt the sadness practically seeping into him, how much just the mention of her name made Eren's smile a forlorn one. Without thinking, because he wouldn't have done it if he'd thought, he tentatively lifted his hands up, let them linger a second over Eren's back, then rested them lightly there.

Eren smelled like a lot of things--it was overwhelming. The stench of raw flesh surprisingly wasn't one of them. All Levi could pay attention to was the smell of the forest and morning dew, the most prevalent. Then he sighed, and decided it was time he figured everything out."Will you tell me your story from the beginning?"

-

They sat against a tree, and Levi got comfortable as he waited for Eren to do the same. The canopy of the forest shed less light, it was getting dark soon. 

"How old do I look?" Eren starts, and Levi glances his way. His eyelids are half shut and he stares at a spot on the ground.

"Not much younger than sixteen."

"I do look that way, don't I?" He hums more to himself, idly poking a finger in the dirt."I'm actually somewhere around...2500 years old." 

"You're kidding." Levi gives him a look. Eren blinks around in insecurity."You're not." He concludes, brains all over the trees."How?"

"Well, there used to be more of me once. I mean, I didn't know there were until I--anyway. The only memories I have are of my youngest age...ironically, I don't remember anything that didn't happen in the first twenty years of my life. I don't know why, I just don't."

"That's funny."

"It is." He smiles, almost bitterly."I remember the walls." He whispers, a glint of fear in his eyes as he curled in around himself."We lived inside walls, us humans. Thick, giant walls that protected us from the titans." He paused, chuckling a bit."And what do you know? Turns out I'm a titan."

"The giant is called a titan?"

"Mhm. They ate humans back then. Didn't digest them, just chewed them up and threw them back out."

"Don't say them." Levi said in annoyance. It bothered him, for some reason.

"I'm not human, Levi."

He isn't.

"She was with me. She was with me, that entire time, but I don't know where. I never knew where she was at the beginning, even though so close." His brow furrowed, his eyes narrowed in agitation, like he was trying to get an image he couldn't get."They figured out that I could transform. The military, I mean. I was to be executed."

Levi wanted to ask about the details, but he knew it would get Eren more frustrated when he wouldn't remember. 

"I was beaten by a man I could never remember the face of, he saved my life just like that, and deep down I know that I..I do know him..." His face scrunched up again, his knuckles whitened."But I can't remember."

Levi wanted to hug him again. Wanted to do something to get that expression of of his face.

"In time, my human tendencies began to evaporate into nothing. One day I'd wake up, and I'd lose my voice. I just did, without a reason. Sometimes, I'd wake up and forget how to hold a spoon. How to pick up a blade. I realized, I wasn't a human with the ability to turn into a titan--it was the other way around."

Levi's chest constricted.

"She reminded me, all the time. She'd tell me, "Eren, you can speak." And I would. She would say, "Eren, you can cut." And I would again. She taught me how to tie my laces when I forget. She told me I was human when I'd stare into the mirror, lost, confused, horrified." He swallowed."I was blind without her. But she never left. She stayed with with me. Until she grew up, until she got old, until she couldn't get out of bed." Eren's tears fell, he ducked his head and they fell."Until she died."

Levi was silent.

"Levi, she died. And that didn't bother me. What fucking drove me so close to insanity was that I couldn't. I don't die. I don't...die." He buried hi s face in his arms, his shoulders shook, and Levi waited for him for a minute until he got over it. He was quiet, he was fighting with himself. Then he looked up again, he wiped at his face, and smiled like he said nothing, like he hadn't went through anything. It made Levi hate himself.

"She died, and I forgot how to be human again. For another two thousand years I could never, not once, find it in me to transform. I couldn't remember what it was like to be human, not even when I watched them bustle around their lives and do it. I didn't know how." He gave Levi another gaze, a smile, and his chest hurt again."But then you came in here, and," He paused, eyes drifting to the side."I remembered it all. I could walk in shoes, I could speak. I still didn't know what a cellphone or a car were, though." He shrugged, laughing at his idiocy. His inexperience suddenly made sense.

"I did that, huh?"

"You're special." Levi smiled, flattered."But don't get cheeky." He fixed him with another gaze, and all the light disappeared from his face again."You'll die, too, huh?"

Those words hurt--stung a lot more than that slap. Levi wished he could tell him that they all would.

"You grew up so quickly."

"That's alright, Eren. Just like there was me after her, there's going to be another one after me."

"There isn't."

"There is, I promise."

"But I don't want anyone else." He says almost childishly, lips curving into a pout as his eyes turned glossy."What if I forget your name? I wish I just...I wish I could remember hers."

It comes out of absolutely nowhere, but it's on the tip of his tongue and his entire being is telling him that...he gives Eren a look, his heart beats in excietment, and he grabs the brunet's hands. Eren looks up in surprise."Her name is Mikasa." He doesn't know where he got the confidence to say it so surely.

Eren's eyes dart around his face for a moment, a crease forming between his eyebrows. His lips thin and he's glancing down, whispering the name over and over again. Then he gasps, freezes, and gazes up again."Her name is Mikasa." His voice trembles, and his eyes are wide. Then He cries again, sobs like a baby, and Levi does pull him into his hold this time, while he whispers again and again against his chest, 'her name is Mikasa, her name is Mikasa, her name is Mikasa'

Levi remembers something he always keeps in his pocket, and fumbles with the back pocket of his jeans until he pulls out a black sharpie."Give me your hand." Eren blinks, wipes at his eyes, and does so. Levi gently holds his wrist and writes, 'Mikasa' just underneath his palm.

Eren stares at it with bright eyes."I like your writing."

"Thank you."

"Can you write your name under?" 

Levi smiles slightly, and does just that. He then puts the cap back on the sharpie and gives it to Eren."You might need to go over it soon." 

Eren smiles, trying to smudge it."It doesn't go off. I love it." He then takes the sharpie, and bends over to add something to his wrist. A minute later, Levi takes a glance.

In unproportioned, childishly endearing handwriting, he'd added a 'her name is' and 'his name is.'

'her name is Mikasa'

'his name is Levi'

Eren cried again.

-

They went back home, Levi convinced his parents to let Eren sleep over with a few words. He locked his door to make sure his parents didn't randomly walk in and hear something they said, and turned off the lights to make it look like they were asleep. There was only the blue illumination falling in from the window, as Levi sat Eren down for another task. He gave him a note book and a pencil.

"They say writing things a lot make you remember. Why don't you try it?"

Eren nodded, readying the pencil on the paper as he waited for Levi to tell him something.

He went quiet in thought, gazed at Eren intently for a second."Levi says I can be human." He finally says, and Eren pauses for only a second before writing it down. He begins, and never stops. Levi dozes off without realizing, Eren puts him in bed-- and he wakes up to the sound of scratching against paper again, Eren's soft whispers of,'Levi says I can be human'.

He rolls on his back and listens to him for another moment, gazing at the ceiling. He then sits down on the floor beside him again."You still writing?"

Eren looks up, eyes visible in clarity even in the dark."Yeah."

Levi hums, taking the notebook from him and flipping through the pages. Seventy three pages, double sided. He looks up at his alarm clock, seeing as about four hours had passed. He gives Eren a look and hands him the notebook back."How about you try, I'm human?""

He could practically feel Eren tense."But I'm not."

"Please, Eren. Do it for me."

He picks up the pencil again, his hand is hovering over the page, and he presses his forehead against the book for another thirty seconds before beginning again. He slips back into bed, to the sound of Eren's hesitant whispers. 

He wakes up another time in the middle of the night, and this time Eren's asleep on the edge of his bed, face buried in his arms. An urge overtakes and he's running his fingers through his brown locks of hair, lightly brushing his fingers against his scalp. Eren sighs in his sleep, and Levi's heart hurts again.

He steals a kiss to the crown of his head before waking him up so he'd sleep beside him.

Eren's gone in the morning.

He leaves his notebook behind, filled to the brim with shaky letters and a few crumbled spots from dried tears, takes the sharpie with him. Levi didn't know how long he sat there with the notebook in his lap, how many times he flipped through it and read and re-read the words again. He flips to the last page again, sees a small something he hadn't noticed before.

He runs his fingers over the inexperienced handwriting.'my name is Eren don't forget

I love you'

His chest constricted.

-

Eren wears something nice. Buys some flowers and wraps his red scarf snug against the cold autumn wind, makes his way down the street in his faded sneakers. He was off to his favorite place, his favorite little tidbit of his daily routine in the morning, and this time he doesn't forget the small packet of fizzy candy.

He goes through a manicured lawn, and aesthetically pleasing little garden of some sorts, walks along the path. He reaches his destination and grins."Hello, Levi."

He crouches down and with the back of his hand brushes away browned and dead flower petals from previous visits peppering the slab, cleaning it away to the littlest edges like Levi likes. He then sets the bouquet down on the grass, sits cross legged on the grass and pulls out the candy.

"I missed you. I wish I could stay with you every day, but there's too much people here." He sighs, flicking one last crumbled stone from the slab and gently putting his palm against the cool headstone. He didn't like the 'in memory of' for some reason. So instead he told them to put a 'his name is Levi' instead, because really, that's all he needed to know. Although, they did need to know that 'The reminder of my humanity', so he put that on, too. 

He sat in front of the grave for hours, never once bored. He talked and talked, about everything he wanted too, because after all, Levi was still his friend.