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Mr. Ackerman

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Hello, everyone! Welcome to Mr. Ackerman Version 2!

I have rebooted this story starting from Chapter 16, where I will be revising the entire story from that point onward. If you happened to read the chapters after 16, I would high recommend starting the story over from Chapter 1 and continuing on this journey with me. 

If you were a fan of the previous story, I have saved all of my old work and the comments attached to each chapter in a google doc. If enough are interested, I'll compose the documents together and link it somewhere on my twitter. I appreciated that storyline for what it was, but I feel as though my potential was not reached and I have made the executive decision to start the story over. I hope you can trust my decision as an author. I don't want to let anyone down and I am immensely more proud of this work than I was with the first draft. 

A couple of warnings about this story:

  • There will be topics of homophobia, identity crisis and family separation. These topics will be explored in depth from my own experiences and might be triggering for some.
  • I will also be having ereri/riren dynamics in this story, so if you happen to only support one, this story is not for you. This is a creative decision I am making and it's what I feel best portrays my emotions and story. 

Thank you all for your amazing comments and support behind this work of mine! This story has been in my mind for a few years now, and I'm so happy that I can launch it the way I've always intended. This story has allowed me to get into contact with some of the most creative people I've met and admired ever since I started shipping Ereri back in 2013. I am so proud of this story and how it's reached so many people, and that is why I am rewriting it. 

I hope I can do you some justice, and I hope you enjoy. 

Follow my twitter for any updates about the story!!

Thank you so much!

Chapter Text

"You don't look happy, Eren," His seventh grade teacher frowned, bending over his desk and frowning sympathetically into his eyes.

Her face was blurred in the depths of his memory amongst the dozens of other teachers Eren had dealt with over the years. She was perhaps a rounder woman with shoulder length hair, or maybe Eren made that up. 

He remembered not what she looked like, what she taught or even her name as it's been roughly six years since that interaction. Eren only remembered the way she would stare sadly at him every time he would enter and leave her classroom, and the brunet never noticed this.

He rode the bus home that day, staring at the graying landscape running past him. As Eren dug his fingernails into the worn, muddy brown leather of the bus seat beneath, he pondered what his teacher meant. He couldn't explain the tugging feeling he experienced as he rolled this question around like a marble in the fishbowl he called a brain. 

At first, he thought himself far too young to wonder about stuff like 'looking happy'. What did it mean, anyway? To look happy? Was Eren happy?

Eren considered himself a very happy boy, as he had two married parents, a protective older sister and a cool room with posters and an Xbox. Sure, it wasn't a unique combination for your average 13 year old, but what more could Eren possibly want from life? 

He remembered glancing around him: Eren had many friends! They rode the bus with him everyday, they ate lunch with him and invited him to many pool parties. Was that what the teacher meant?

The bus stopped. 

The teacher's concern would not be obvious until Eren was 18 years old. 

-

To Eren, the divorce seemed inevitable.

Though Grisha and Carla, Eren's parents, tried their best to keep their blatant shouting under wraps, it was still fairly obvious. As a child, he would remember his older sister ushering Eren into her room where they would play Legend of Zelda. She would distract Eren with video games, painting and board games as to protect him from the venomous words being shouted a room over. 

His parents weren’t ever a really good fit anyway, and that was obvious no matter how much protecting Mikasa would do. He remembered years and years of their bickering in all sorts of settings: field trips, school fundraisers, football games, weddings . . . there was no exemption. The usual formula would involve his father making a tasteless joke or a cold remark about his wife's parenting. Carla, refusing to be spoken to that way, would always bite back until Grisha began ignoring her like a child. 

His father never hit her, no. Eren’s mother didn’t seem fearful or broken, but she certainly seemed tired and stressed. As time went on, the bickering from Carla's end subsided and she eventually ran out of words to fight back her husband with. He seemed to be rolling every resentful mark at her like a bowling ball, and there were no pins in the alley anymore.

Eren simply waited for their inevitable divorce. He assumed they were waiting until his 18th birthday to officially begin the divorce process, since shared custody appeared to be something his father wasn't all too interested in. The teen at the time was hurt, but when his parents sat him down one day and told him some shocking news, it all came to a head. 

A few weeks before his birthday, they sat him at the table. Grisha spoke first, beginning with a speech on how much he loved Eren, blah blah blah, but then it was as though he cut all that away once he told Eren the truth about his two decade long affair. There were small details that Eren hardly remembered, such as Eren having an older half-brother, a woman named Dina, something about the town . . . ? 

Carla looked quiet, which led Eren to believe that she knew about this affair for much longer than Eren initially thought. Once Eren looked over and saw the defeated look in her eyes, he saw red. 

Whatever happened next was a blur. He remembered yelling until his voice was hoarse and throwing something before leaving. Eren felt red-hot rage as years of resentment poured out of his throat like smoke, insulting his father to the high heavens. His fists shook and his throat felt raw. 

Eren was prone to bouts of anger. Usually, his mother would step in and throw ice on the situation, but at that time, she just sat at the table in silence. Perhaps Eren was only exhibiting the anger she’s tried so long to quell. The brunet remembered his mother looking almost skeletal back then, sitting at the table like her life was drained from her. 

Their divorce processing began right after Eren turned 18. Since then, he would glance at himself in the mirror and his former teacher's words would haunt him in the back of his mind. 

Was this what it looked like to appear unhappy?

Though his mother and father both agreed to the divorce, it turned out into a long, grueling process due to his father hiding assets, supporting his second family behind his wife's back and all sorts of messy things. Eren was away from the house often during these two years, in which he spent his time partying, drinking, going to Armin's house and moping. Luckily, Eren's mother found a house to move into at the end of this time period. Eren begged to stay with his mother, to which his father did not contest. 

Eren also burned himself at the gym, pumping iron and throwing around weights until he couldn’t move the next morning. Working out, dieting, bulking and counting his calories made him feel driven with something greater. To take this vanity of his and fling it onto women at parties in bathrooms or bedrooms was even an greater distraction for him. 

The months leading up to Eren’s mother’s big move felt like years. His father’s presence haunted the house and his mother never spoke. He supposed he could only be grateful he didn't hear his parents exchange harsh and terrible words to one another, but the air was suffocating. 

At the news of his mother's move, she gently told him that if he were to stay with her rent-free, he must admit to the university in town. Eren didn't like that idea, but he had no other options. His only source of income was his father's autobody shop, and he was clearly in no mood to see Eren at the moment. 

Though he felt self-conscious about being 20 and barely sending in his application for university, he was happy to give his mother something to look forward to.

His sister, Mikasa seemed excited for him. His sister already had the luck of finding a guy she liked, getting pregnant and moving the fuck out. It was a normal pace for someone her age, but it felt as though she was extremely grateful for the opportunity to escape her tumultuous home.  

Eren was okay with his choices, though. He ought to not regret them now. 

“Can you put these boxes in my bedroom?” Eren’s mother asked gently, handing her son a hefty pile of stuffed boxes. She wore an old, college shirt and a relaxed pair of jeans. This was something he wouldn't catch his mother in often, as she was a stay-at-home mother who opted for flowing dresses and aprons. 

He liked her this way. He felt as though she was being far more genuine to herself, which was a rare sight in the presence of his father. 

Eren took the boxes into the bedroom, where the only thing that existed in the space was a plain bed and a dresser. His father kept most of the furniture within their old, family home, so the new house was a little barren at the moment. 

He set the boxes on the floor with a thump, his knees straining as he stood. A plume of dust flew into the air, making his nose wrinkle. 

He stood and looked around the room.

It was a small room, but it was quaint. Eren’s mother already hung a couple of paintings, done by his older sister of course. And there was a giant window that led a flood of hot light inside. This was the bigger bedroom, which Eren assumed would be his mother's. 

Carla found a nice, quaint looking house down the block from Maria State University. It was a single story, Victorian style home with a pale blue exterior, white trim and a wide porch all around. There were three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an amazing space in the backyard for gardening, which Eren suspected as being the sole reason for selecting this house. 

He walked out of the small room and into the living room. Eren’s mother was sitting on the floor and sifting through some photo albums. The room was silent, save for the occasional sound of photos being shifted through and Eren’s mother muttering to herself.

Her amber colored eyes scanned the pictures slowly. Her delicate fingers flicked through each photo and she chuckled lightly at some memories. Her dark brown hair curled around her shoulder and tucked into a loose bun that nested at the bottom of her neck. She had slivers of gray peaking beneath, of which she never seemed to have minded.

This was an uncomfortable sight; seeing his mother sitting in an empty house surrounded by boxes and blank walls.

Eren sat next to her without saying a word. She didn’t acknowledge this, only continued on with looking through pictures.

“You were such a cute baby,” she said quietly, lifting a photo for Eren to see.

In the photo, a toddler sized Eren wore a frumpy sun hat, a stained T-shirt, shorts and sandals. He was held by a smiling, much younger Carla.

Eren chuckled with his mother, watching her set the photo to the side and reach for another pile.

“I made so many copies over the years,” She started. “I knew I was going to be on my own sooner than I liked, so I wanted to do this to be safe.”

That remark was made so casually, yet it felt like a pang to his heart. He wondered how long she’s felt like this. 

Eren had nothing to say, though. He was lousy in situations like this, and his mother most likely knew that. Eren was a physical person, not a vocal one.

The door knocked.

“It’s open, dear!” Carla called, tucking the photos away. She straightened her hair a little.

Eren stood right away and helped his mother up, who thanked him lightly.

The front door swung open, his older sister and her fiancé stepping through. A flood of light followed them. Eren was relieved to see his older sister, as they only call each other once a week or so. She lived in the city on the opposite side of her home town, which was an hour or two away. Visits were scarce.

“Hey, mom,” Mikasa murmured, adjusting the purse on her shoulder. “Sorry we didn’t come earlier, we had a doctor’s appointment.”

“That’s okay, honey,” Carla said, hugging her daughter tightly. “Hi Jean, how are you?”

Carla gave him a light hug to which the tall man returned. He looked awkward and out of place, which Eren would’ve usually loved to tease him on, but for the sake of his mother, he shut his mouth.

Jean stuffed his hands into his pockets. “Ah—I’ve been good. Nice place.” Eren clicked his tongue and prepared to retort on how stupid of a comment that was, but stopped himself at the last minute.

“It is, isn’t it?” Eren’s mother sighed and moved towards the boxes one more. “Eren’s been helping me all morning. Are you kids hungry?”

“A little,” Mikasa answered.

“Don’t lie, Mikasa. I know you’re eating for two now,” Carla winked. “I’ll send Eren to go get a pizza for us and we can get started. Eren?”

“Already on it.”

-

When Eren returned with the pizza, the sun was setting. There was something satisfying at how the sky looked behind Carla’s little blue house. 

The sky was streaked with oranges and vibrant pinks, the sun casting low rays across the uneven sidewalk. He enjoyed the scenery, and he’s sure his artistic sister could as well. 

He walked into the house and blinked at how different the sight was already.

While he was gone, the trio had already brought the dining room table, some décor, a TV and a coffee table. There was no sofa, so Eren assumed that he and Jean mostly likely had to do that later.

“Thank god,” Mikasa said, retrieving the pizza from Eren and walking into the kitchen. Carla followed after her and Jean, leaving Eren to close the door.

Eren made his way to the kitchen slowly, eyeing the pictures Carla chose to hang around her house. Carla was careful and meticulous, and Eren could bet that his sister also had a lot of input on the placement of the pictures and furniture. 

Her noticed that his father never made a single appearance.

Once in the kitchen, everyone was already chowing down on their pizzas. A freshly ripped open package of paper towels sat on the counter.

“Thank you, Eren,” Carla said, patting her mouth lightly with a napkin. “I can give you some money later.”

“No need,” Eren said, reaching for a slice. “Consider it a housewarming gift.”

Jean hummed. “So is Eren gonna be splitting time with you and Grisha?”

“No,” Carla answered quickly. “Grisha wasn't interested. But having Eren here is fine, though he's insisting on helping to pay rent. You stubborn kid." Carla poked at her son, who managed a soft chuckle at his mother's teasing. 

“I told you that you could’ve lived with us,” Mikasa murmured.

“I couldn’t,” Carla jutted forth. “Not with the baby on the way and everything—I simply wouldn’t fit in!”

Mikasa looked uncomfortable. Eren knew that she felt a little anxious at not having her mother in the same city with them during her first child. From their weekly phone calls together, Eren knew that Mikasa begged her mother to stay with them.

But Mikasa does that a lot. She cares too much and worries too greatly. She does it so much that it bulldozes over everyone else’s needs. Eren knew that Carla needed to be on her own for this one.

“Well, you’re always welcome if you need a place,” Jean promised. “But nothing wrong with this house. It’s pretty cute, actually!”

“It is!” Carla agreed. “I’m excited about starting my own garden. Retirement will make me bored, so it’ll give me something to do until I’m officially a grandma!”

Eren watched his mother smile and laugh as she talked about her new life. Of course he felt a wanton sadness when he remembered his parents being together, but his mother’s happiness was more important than that. It was bigger than that.

Eren continued eating with content.

-

This summer seemed like a total bust.

Usually, Eren would spend his time doing random shit with Armin and a couple of others, but everyone seemed to be too busy for him.

Armin was busy being a lab assistant and committing to his internship under some guy named Erwin Smith, a professor at the university. Eren couldn’t keep track of this Erwin dude. He doesn’t remember if he cured cancer, was super hot, or saved a school bus of kids from a fire. Armin sure talked about him a lot and put him on a pedestal as such.

Sasha and Connie finally started dating a few months ago, so they’ve been infatuated with each other ever since. Not that Eren felt a sting from that—he understood. He’s happy for them, but a selfish part of him wants to be paid attention too as well. It’s not fun to have friends ripped away from you like that. 

And Reiner and Bertholdt were studying abroad in Germany. It was only a matter of time before they came out as a couple too.

Which left Eren. Single, girlfriend-less Eren with nothing better to do than to visit his divorced mother nearly every other day. It was a fine arrangement, but he wished that his mom was cool enough to let him drink or smoke pot.

After all, what was there to do in the summer with no friends and no school?

Classes weren’t until the fall. And that seemed like a lifetime away. 

Eren hopped on his bike and began pedaling down the street. Cars became a slight blur and passing noises left his brain as quickly as they entered. Eren rode his bike with ease, feeling the wind catch into his baggy shirt and tussle his hair.

His chocolate brown hair was getting a little long, now. It crept over his ears, so he decided to stuff it into a baseball cap to avoid any remarks from his mom.

He halted at a stop sign, whistling a silent tune to himself and scanning the streets for cars. With a flick of his tongue onto his dry lips, he proceeded forward. He saw his mother’s blue house getting bigger on the horizon.

She wasn’t outside to greet him like he usually was, which was suspicious but Eren figured it was no big deal.

He set his bike against the side of the house and instinctively reached for his phone from his back pocket.

There was an immediate notification from his mom. First, there was a missed call. Second, there was a text message.

[Mom]
I have a guest over. Just let yoursekf in :-)

Eren reread the message a few times to fully comprehend what he was reading.

He was a bit surprised. His mother moved to a new city and already she was making friends. Of course, that outcome was most likely sooner than Eren thought. His mother is a very lovely and welcoming woman. Eren knew she was also eager to make friends, as she was very much kept in an isolation bubble with her marriage to Eren's father. 

She’s also drop dead gorgeous. How long would it be for a single man to take notice . . .? 

He shook the thought from his head. 

The brunet turned the cap around on his head and fashioned it backwards. A juvenile look, but who was here to be impressed?

He hopped up the steps and opened the front door, consciously reminding himself to slip out of his worn out sneakers upon entering.

The door fell open and Eren’s eyes scanned over the living room. His mother, nor the mentioned guest, were present. But he did hear a small chatter behind the walls of the kitchen. 

“Eren—?” His mother called from further back in the house. “We’re in the kitchen!”

“Coming!” Eren called back. He braced himself on the doorframe and toed off his sneakers. He kicked the old shoes towards the space behind the door.

“—my baby, Eren,” Eren heard his mother’s faint voice grow closer as he walked towards the kitchen. “He just turned 20! He’s been such a big help to me while moving.”

Eren bit his tongue to keep from interjecting. He hated how often his mother bragged about him all the time. Sure, he was going to college, but he wasn’t doing anything. She was probably better off bragging about Mikasa, who graduated with flying colors and was now expecting. She was basically an adult, whereas Eren was an aimless college student with no particular ambitions. 

The brunet turned the corner and froze at the sight. 

“Eren!” His mother’s face melted into a smile upon the sight of her son.

Eren ignored his mother's greeting, though, as his eyes fell upon the man next to her. 

He was a short man—shorter than Eren's mom, in fact. He had a broad but not unappealing figure that narrowed at the waist, with slightly toned arms that crossed over one another. He had dark hair that was cut neatly over his ears and parted off to the side, with a faded, almost undercut look. He had very fair skin, a slim, long nose and a glowering look in his narrow eyes and furrowed brows. 

“This is Mr. Ackerman,” Carla introduced the two, coming up next to her son to throw an arm around him. “He lives next door! We’ve become real good friends— you should see his garden!”

Garden? Eren’s eyes narrowed. His eyes scanned ‘Mr. Ackerman’ up and down. The guy looked incredibly formal and maybe even a bit domineering. He definitely didn’t seem like a garden type. He seemed more like a teacher, or lawyer. 

“Nice to meet you,” A deep voice rumbled, jutting a hand forth. “You can just call me Levi, though.” 

Woah. Eren totally didn’t see that coming.

“Nice to meet you too,” Eren returned the introduction, clasping Levi’s cold hand into his own.

Levi’s eyes were dark. He made direct eye contact with Eren and squeezed Eren’s hand hard.

Eren wasn’t impressed. He wanted to make it known that he wasn’t impressed, either.

Chapter Text

Upon meeting Eren Jaeger, there were two wrong assumptions made about him.

The first is that Eren doesn’t give a shit about other people’s feelings. This assumption was a bit more hurtful than others, as it was false. Eren cared a lot. His troubles with being conceived as a selfish asshole came from his hot-blooded nature.

The second misconception about Eren is that he wasn’t observant. This idea about Eren came from his classmates, who didn’t hesitate to tease him about his failing grades. While it was true that Eren cared not for frivolous and lengthy words, he cared about intention and body language. Growing up in the household he did, Eren could observe body language better than anyone. He could tell if someone was scared, drunk, angry, or . . . Eager to impress.

Given that, it pissed Eren off when people took advantage of him. People would disregard him as stupid or angry, so they would try and bypass him.

Which is why this whole ‘Mr. Ackerman’ deal pissed him off greatly. He was a man that exuded condescending energy, almost like he knew something you didn’t. The man constantly looked like he was judging the grammar of your words or maybe sizing you up. It pissed Eren off. 

Eren watched Mr. Ackerman and his mother from inside the house. He and his mother were in the front patio, drinking lemonade and talking. Eren wasn’t sure what they were talking about, but the conversation seemed endless.

After their introduction, Eren didn’t say much else. It seemed as though their new neighbor didn’t care either, as he and Carla went straight outside to mingle.

With nothing but a mosquito net protecting them from the outside, the two looked as free as the weather. Eren’s mom wore a small sun hat and her hair in a side braid. She laughed along with Mr. Ackerman, who only acknowledged the conversation with ghosts of smiles. He wore a faded T-shirt and some jeans. Nothing fancy, but something to relax in while he casually tried to fuck Eren’s mom.

Eren’s gut wrenched uncomfortably. He’s never seen his mother look so relaxed in his entire life. That should be a good thing, but why did Eren feel so . . . Defensive?

Maybe it was because he found the guy to be ridiculously suspicious. What kind of guy lives in a nice house by himself? It was apparent that he had no kids, no wife, no pets . . . Just him and a neat garden. That’s how serial killers live.

Eren tapped his worn out sneaker against the dark, wooden floors. He found himself moping on the couch, glaring holes into the television. He could see the two talking out of his peripheral vision. The television was absolutely no help in distracting him.

This shit was pissing him off.

He texted Armin to lament his woes.

[Eren]
are you busy rn

The response came almost immediately.

[Armin]
walking back home, what’s up

[Eren]
i need to vent about somethng rn……can you call me

[Armin]
give me 5mins. Erwin is walking me back

For a second, Eren thought Armin was messing with him.

The blond was well aware of the effect that the name ‘Erwin’ had on him. It wasn’t enough to send Eren into a flying rage, but every conversation between the two was always plagued with that name. It annoyed him.

At first, Eren was amused with Armin’s crush. But over time, he found himself to be more and more critical of this mysterious guy. Eren has never made his acquaintance, but at this point, he didn’t want to. Armin talked his ear off so much he could probably point out Erwin in a crowd.

Armin wasn’t ever the annoying type. Eren did that enough for the two of them. But this infatuation has Eren bugged more than anything some days.

His phone started vibrating, clicking the college student back into reality.

“What’s up, Eren?” The soft voice came from the other end.

Eren sunk into the feeling of relief upon hearing his friend’s voice.

“Dude, there’s some guy at the house right now,” Eren hissed into the phone. He stood and distanced himself from the duo outside.

“Like her friend, or . . . ?”

Eren wandered down the hallway. “I’m not sure. He’s her neighbor and apparently they’re best friends now. Even though they’ve only known each other for like, a fucking day.”

He shut himself into the guest bedroom of his mother’s house. It was empty, save for a bed and a few unopened cardboard boxes.

“That’s kinda weird,” Armin agreed hesitantly. “But what’s wrong with him?”

“I dunno,” Eren admitted, his lip twitching. He could already tell that Armin was about to start one of his lectures. Or maybe pin Eren down on his exact emotion. The blond had a knack for that.

“He just gives me a weird feeling. He’s stand off-ish and lives by himself.” Eren stumbled over his words.

Eren was really grasping at straws now. He honestly couldn’t explain what set him off about Mr. Ackerman. Was it his height? Was it his mom’s gooey demeanor around the guy? He couldn’t blame her. He was good-looking, after all.

Armin was silent on the other end for a bit, making Eren hold his breath. It made Eren feel almost anxious at this, like he was waiting for his fortune to be read.

“I think you’re just jealous.”

Eren blinked. He didn’t expect that response.

“Wh—Jealous?” Eren laughed incredulously. “I—Why would I be jealous? That’s so dumb! My mom’s an adult and if that involves . . . um . . .”

Armin hummed, satisfied. “I can read you like a book, Eren.”

Eren huffed, feeling like he was losing this battle. Which he always does, at least with Armin. It was frustrating, but Armin knew that. Armin wasn’t a total dick about it.

“Well I don’t—“

The door behind him began to click, making Eren’s heart leap into his throat.

“Gotta go, Ar,” Eren mumbled quickly before shoving his phone into his back pocket.

Eren turned and awkwardly placed his arms across his chest, almost as if the intruder had walked in on him naked.

The door swung open, making Eren hide a scowl at the sight.

Mr. Ackerman blinked up at him. “Oh, it’s you.”

“Yeah, it’s me,” Eren remarked, his upper lip curling. “What are you doing here?”

“Carla asked me to get her some gardening gloves,” Mr. Ackerman said plainly. Whether he caught onto Eren’s aggressive front or not, Eren wasn’t sure. The man’s expression was blank through and through.

“In the guest bedroom?” Eren asked skeptically.

Mr. Ackerman shrugged. Eren eyed the man up and down.

Despite the man’s unwelcoming demeanor he seemed . . . Dorky? Eren almost wondered if the man had a few screws knocked loose. His decorum was odd, and up close, the man wasn’t that charming. So what the hell did his mother see in him anyway?

“I’ll show you,” Eren conceded. “My mom puts all her shit in the storage closet in the hall.”

Eren brushed past the man and headed towards the door, trying to ignore the waft of expensive cologne that reached his nostrils.

-

Mr. Ackerman watched Eren shuffle awkwardly through different boxes.

Eren was crouched awkwardly over a cardboard box labeled HOBBIES. His spine ached and his thighs were burning. It was a leg workout yesterday and Eren felt as finely tuned as a rusty bicycle. 

Sometime in the awkwardness between then, Eren felt almost inclined to apologize for the lack of organization between him and his mother.

Fuck that, why should I apologize? Eren thought to himself.  

“So how long you been in the neighborhood, Mr. Ackerman?” Eren asked innocently enough. The brunet supposed he’d rather speak words than sit in an uncomfortable silence.

Mr. Ackerman’s nose wrinkled. “Don’t call me that. Call me Levi. I’m only Mr. Ackerman in the fall.”

“Okay . . .” Eren continued, feeling miffed at Mr. Ackerman’s straightforwardness. “How long you been here, Levi?”

“Since my divorce.”

Eren was shocked.

Although, it made sense why Levi was living in a house all by himself. The guy did seem lonely and awkward, as expected of a divorced person.

Eren wondered briefly if Levi had any kids.

“So you and my mom are kindred spirits, then?” Eren asked. “Because she left my dad very recently.”

Eren felt like a dick, but he wanted to remind Levi in a very subtle way that she was not open for business. While Levi didn’t seem to overtly predatory, Eren felt the need to remind him. They were getting too buddy-buddy out there.

“Yeah, I suppose,” Levi shrugged. Once again, he ignored Eren’s fighting words. “Your mom’s a sweet lady. We have a lot in common.  I think you’ll be seeing a lot more of me, what with your dad not around.” 

Eren grit his teeth. What a fucking arrogant asshole! Maybe it wasn’t obvious to most people, but it was to Eren. This guy had the most punchable face . . .

Eren stood, towering over Levi. He clenched his fists and glared at the older man, who stared back with a raised eyebrow.

“What’s taking you—“ Carla’s voice came around the corner. “Oh, Eren! I thought you left already! What are you still doing here?”

Eren turned and opened his mouth to respond, but like the arrogant shit he was, Levi spoke first.

“Eren was helping me find some gardening gloves for tomorrow.”

Eren looked incredulously at the guy. Levi didn’t seem phased, like Eren wasn’t about to punch his lights in.

“Oh, that’s nice of you, Eren!” Carla cooed. “But really, not necessary. I’ll just buy another pair when Mr. Ackerman and I go shopping tomorrow!”

Eren’s eye twitched.

“Eren, after you’re done putting away these boxes, why don’t you help me in the kitchen afterwards?” Carla asked. Her sweet, kind-hearted demeanor was enough to make Eren’s anger evaporate.

Eren’s mother could be just as fiery and loose as her son’s temper, but she was older now. Levi seemed to have a calming effect on her too, which made Eren disgusted.

“That would be my cue to leave,” Levi jutted forth.

Carla blinked owlishly at him. “You don’t want to stay for dinner?”

Levi waved a dismissive have forth. “I already have dinner plans. But please, you two go enjoy your food. I’ll see you tomorrow, Carla.”

And just like that, the raven left. His exit was rather non-dramatic, which Eren was grateful for. The guy seemed too clever to leave without event.

“Enough staring into space,” Carla shoved Eren playfully. “Let’s get dinner started, honey.”

-

Eren wondered if Jean and Levi were related.

They had a weird, pompous air around them and they both shared such a punchable face. 

His brother-in-law was obviously more smug, as he threw back fighting words whenever he spoke with Eren. God knows that resulted in a fist fight or two. 

Unfortunately, Eren promised his mom that he would retire punching people as a means to solve problems. It took a little bit of therapy and talking, but Eren was determined to make his mother proud. He had to act like a grown-up.

“This is so good, mom,” Jean moaned through a mouthful of food. “You’ll have to send Mika and I the recipe one of these days!”

Eren rolled his eyes. He hated that insufferable nickname for his sister, but for the sake of peace, he kept his mouth shut. He stabbed a potato and shoved it into his mouth.

“Oh, Eren did all of the hard work , actually!” Carla smiled at her son in law. “Pot roast is his favorite dish!”

Mikasa’s eyebrows raised. “Looks like Eren isn't as helpless as he seems.”

Eren rolled his eyes while his mother laughed gently. He hated how his sister would gang up on him, but she knew she had invincibility carrying Eren’s niece. And she was older.

“But how’s the neighborhood?” Jean prodded, wiping his mouth with a napkin. “Any weirdos live next to you?”

Carla laughed and studied her plate. “No, he’s—“

“We have a new dad, Mikasa,” Eren teased. Carla’s head snapped towards her son with offended eyes.

“What?” Mikasa blinked, her voice croaking.

Carla swatted her son in the chest. “Eren! No, he’s—he’s just a friend!”

Jean snickered. “Wow, mom. You sure move fast.”

“Where is he?” Mikasa asked darkly.

Carla clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes. “Eren is just being silly—I just made a new friend, that’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. I promise.” She sent her son one last glare.

“Besides, he wouldn’t ever be interested in someone like me,” Carla murmured softer than before.

“Sounds like you put thought into it,” Eren grumbled.

“You’re doing the dishes for sure, Eren Jaeger!”

-

Eren woke up the next morning to the warm, spiced smell of something familiar that made him grin. It reminded him of Christmas and how his mother would spend laborious hours in the kitchen. 

He threw off his thin blanket and hopped out of bed right away, his bare feet hitting the freshly cleaned wooden floors. He jogged down the hall and into the kitchen, where he saw a fresh plate of buñuelos sitting on the countertop, looking steaming, crispy and glittery. 

"Nice, mom," Eren reached for one, to which he was met with a swift hand smack from his mother. 

Carla glared. "Not for you, honey. These are for Mr. Ackerman next door."

Eren deflated at this, the mere mention of his neighbor bringing down his mood tenfold. 

"You make these once a year," Eren grumbled, accepting the foil his mother handed over to him. He ripped out a sheet of foil and began wrapping the plate of goodies before his mom could instruct him to. "But since you have the hots for the neighbor—"

"He was just asking about some recipes your grandma taught me, Eren," Carla scolded, holding the box of foil threateningly. "It's called being polite. Try it sometime."

Eren playfully shoved her, to which she maintained her no-nonsense stare. "You can start now. Bring these to him and make sure you tell him how to make it."

"How am I supposed to do that?" 

Carla looked exasperated. "Oh, Eren—I've taught you so many times! Fine—Here, I'll write it out for him later. Give him the goodies and tell him you look forward to being his neighbor. Okay, honey?"

"Okay, mom."

The trek to Mr. Ackerman's house wasn't long at all, but there was still a considerable amount of space between the two houses. 

Eren hadn't seen his house up close. It was a nice one, though a bit smaller than his mother's own house. It was a touch more modern, being colored tan with dark brown trimming. It was also decorated way more, with a carefully arranged stone pathway leading from the driveway to the front door. the porch was smaller, being occupied by numerous houseplants and other random decor. It was a nice place, but also a little suspicious from Eren's end. 

He glanced around. First, he glanced down at the still warm plate of cookies before looking into the driveway. No car. There also seemed to be no sign of life from the house within, as there were no lights on. 

Eren lifted the foil of the plate and glanced down at the fried, cinnamon goodies beneath. He took one and took it into his mouth, the fried dough cracking into his mouth. He enjoyed the treat to its fullest, the warm and sweet spice filling his senses with nostalgia and memories of Christmas. 

Once finished, he swiped his dirty fingers on his jeans before tossing the plate forward. He kicked the plate towards Mr. Ackerman's door, causing an explosion of fried dough and sugar-cinnamon to fly through the air. The plate hit his door with a loud shutter, sending the plastic thing to tumble to the floor along with scattered pieces of fried dough all over his porch. 

Eren promptly flipped off Mr. Ackerman's door before walking away. 

Chapter Text

Loud.

Eren scrunched his nose as he took another sip from his red solo cup. He wasn’t sure what was in there—something mixed with something. Well, no matter. It was alcohol and it was handed it to him.

The alcohol burned his throat and deep into his chest. It wasn’t a terribly strong drink, but Eren knew he was going to be here awhile. He had time to sober up by the end of the night. Even if he did end up getting totally shit faced, his mom’s house was a block away. He could just break into his bedroom and snooze there.

Eren was in the kitchen of some random acquaintance’s house party. He was listlessly bobbing his head to the rhythm of muted music playing from the living room, finding little entertainment in the half-assed beer pong game in front of him. The living room grew really crowded around an hour ago, so Eren found himself in the kitchen.

He was leaning against the sink, his arms crossed and nursing his iced drink. He was watching a couple of strangers play against his friends, Sasha and Connie. Eren felt in his heart that his friends had no chance, as they were drunk off their ass and hanging onto each other for support. Drunk people were funny that way.

A screech pierced his ears, making Eren wince. He saw Sasha hugging her boyfriend close to her chest, her fist pumping into the air with victory. Her face was flushed with red and her ponytail disheveled. Connie looked equally fucked up, his eyes heavy lifted and his grin wide.

“Eren—!” Sasha blurted, whipping her head around to make direct eye contact with her friend. He jumped in his feet at this, Sasha’s stark attention being eerily similar to that of a predator hunting its prey.

“Come play with us—!” Sasha moaned, squeezing Connie’s head close to her chest. “Don’t cha wanna lose?”

Eren snorted and put his drink down on the counter, rubbing his hands together and approaching the other end of the table.

“Which one of us can pass the straight line test, Sasha?” Eren teased.

Connie huffed. “Whatever, Jaeger. Find another person to play with and we can get this show on the road.”

“Your ass is grass, Connie.”

-

Eren wasn’t sure who ended up being his beer pong partner. It was just a random girl who happened to be the subject of jeering from his drunk friends.

She was cute looking enough, short and kind looking. Eren forgot her name, but she was very good at beer pong. During the game, she kept pressing gentle touches to Eren’s back and whispering to him on her tip toes.

Maybe it was the alcohol, but Eren found himself up against her backside as she prepared to land another cup. She smelled nice—like the makeup section at the mall combined with mint.

She held up the ping pong ball in her hands, giving Eren a coy smile. Eren could only return a forced smile with a slight nod.

Eren found himself attracted to her, but there was something tugging at the back of his mind that made him . . . Conflicted? Unwilling? He really didn’t feel up to banging someone tonight. This was unlike him. 

He wasn’t sure what was different about tonight. He came here wanting a distraction from everything going on with his mom and Levi. With the party being so close to Levi’s house, it was extremely difficult.

The ball landed in the cup, making her cheer to herself. She turned and gave Eren an eager high five. 

Of course, that ended up being their winning shot. Their prize ended up being more screeching and hollering from the sore losers across from them. To Eren, that was prize enough. He and the girl left to another place before his friends could cry for a rematch.

Afterwards, Eren found himself in the corner of the living room with her. She had a drink in her hands. It was something pink and filled with ice.

Their conversation was weighted, like most encounters Eren had with women at parties like these.

Not that Eren was a player or anything, but if he connected with someone for a night then whatever happened afterwards was between him and that person.

“It’s getting hot in here,” The girl laughed nervously, Eren only catching the last bit of her sentence. The ice in her drink shifted. 

“Yeah—Lotta people,” Eren laughed nervously. He cringed a bit at how loud the music was—he wasn’t sure what was playing. Britney Spears?

Eren briefly wondered if Levi was bothered by the noise. He probably would be. 

“We should go somewhere else!” She nearly shouted in Eren’s ear.

The brunet gulped, the music pounding in his ears and making his heart race.

She took the initiative to lean forward, despite Eren giving her a respectable amount of space. This girl was buzzed already, giving Eren a half-lidded smile. Eren wasn’t dumb—he knew what was expected of him from her. He just wasn’t sure if he wanted to go through with this.

But what was he supposed to say? Politely reject her because he couldn’t stop thinking about the guy next door? How was he supposed to word that?

“I’m gonna go get a drink real quick. Want anything?” Eren sucked at words.

“I-I’m good!” She stumbled over her words, smiling awkwardly.

Eren patted her on the shoulder, almost congratulating her for how well she took that rejection.

Stepping through the crowd, he made his way back to the kitchen. It was getting less crowded now, as people began to group into their own tribes and socialize accordingly.

He gave a couple of acquaintances some nods as he made his way to the countertop. Someone had a decent spread of booze out along with some half-flat sodas and juices and whatnot.

Eren was no bartender, but he knew when shit tasted good. It’s not rocket science.

He poured a concoction into a cup, wincing at how much alcohol there was. He briefly wondered what his mom would think if she saw him.

Especially like this.

Eren looked up to check on the girl, where she was drunkenly nodding along to the music. A guy seemed to be creeping on her and talking into her ear, making him scoff.

It’s not like he was planning on sleeping with her tonight anyway—not like this, at least. It was still jarring to see that some asshole made his move the moment Eren moved away. His fingers itched, as though anticipating a fight ahead. 

Eren walked back to the couple, their conversation becoming more clear the closer he got.

“—don’t know, I never thought about that!” The girl laughed in a fake tone of voice. Her eyes were darting and her arms were crossed over her chest.

“Hey, Eren!” The girl smiled, her face melting with relief. “Um—Um—this is my boyfriend, Eren. Eren?”

Shit. Eren’s teeth clenched. I don’t remember her fucking name.

“Hey,” Eren mustered. He wasn’t good at lying. “Uh—brought you your drink.”

“Thanks so much!” She mumbled. “Ugh—thank you.”

The conversation died and grew awkward as Eren realized he was still holding the drink in his hand. He didn’t think this guy was that desperate to sleep with someone tonight. He was preying that this creep would get the hint unless he wanted Eren’s fist in his mouth. 

The guy shot Eren an icy glare. “So you’re Historia’s boyfriend, huh?”

Was that her name? Eren bit the inside of his mouth. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

“Yeah—is that a problem?”

Doesn’t matter if Eren remembered or not. He had to get this guy out of here ASAP.

“Not at all!” The guy grinned. “I just brought her a drink, too. It’s her favorite.”

The girl actually reached for the drink before Eren took it out of his hands. Historia shot a look similar to that of a puppy being house trained for the first time. Eren didn’t stop to interpret this. 

“I um . . . I kinda made that for her, dude,” The guy said. 

Eren didn’t trust this situation. Not with an inch of his life.

“We’ll drink it,” Eren assured. “Don’t worry.”

“I really want her to drink it,” The guy pressed. “I made it for her.”

“Just give me the drink, Eren,” Historia murmured. “I’ll drink it.”

“No,” Eren answered stubbornly. “Why should he—“

Historia grabbed the drink from his hands before taking a giant gulp, making Eren’s eyes wide.

This girl was crazy.

Her nose scrunched. “See? I drank some.”

“That’s all I wanted,” The guy smiled. “See? No harm. Catch you guys later.”

He gave Eren an awkward pat on the back as he slid past them. Chills sent down Eren’s spine as he walked away and disappeared into the sea of bodies.

“Thank you for trying,” Historia muttered. “Ugh—I went to high school with that guy. Such a creep.”

“It’s no problem,” Eren replied, taking a sip of his own drink. “I don’t really want to leave you alone now.”

She smiled small. “Yeah—thanks. I knew it was dumb coming to a party without my friends. I think I’ll just head straight home, now, though. Wanna walk me to my car?”

“I don’t think you can drive.”

“Wait with me, then.”  

-

Eren called a cab for her before they left the party. She clung to his side like a magnet the entire time, taking periodic sips from a bottle of water Eren found for her. 

Eren held a protective arm around the small of her back and led her through the crowd. He recognized a few of the heads that turned their way, but it wasn’t any of their business. 

“Thanks for doing this for me,” Historia murmured into his chest. 

They stepped out the front door and into the cool, summer night. There were some guys chilling in a circle out front, but Eren paid them no mind at all. 

They made their way down to the street, the muffled sounds of a raging party dying in the distance. 

“It’s all good,” Eren replied softly. “Uh—don’t worry about it.”

They sat on the sidewalk, Historia resting her head on Eren’s shoulder. Eren kept his hands to himself. He was lousy in situations like these. He would’ve felt more helpful if he kicked that creep’s ass, not taking care of this girl. 

“I’m so dumb,” she moaned softly. “My roommates are gonna kill me. They told me not to go to this dumb party and I went—

Eren patted her shoulder stiffly. “I’m sure it’ll be fine. The cab will be here soon. Isn’t there—“

“I got in a fight with this one girl,” Historia sniffled. “My roommate, Ymir—she—she yelled at me to not go and I went—I’m so stupid!”

“She can’t be that mad at you,” Eren urged. “It sounds like she’s a good friend.”

“She is. We are literally best friends.” 

“See? Best friends can’t be mad at best friends forever.” Eren said, his mind remembering all the times that he got into fights with Armin over and over before.

“Yeah,” she replied flatly. “You’re right.”

A silence passed between them.

“I was gonna bring a guy over and have sex with him real loudly— just to make her real mad. But that idea seems dumb now that I think about it.”

Eren couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re funny.”

“Not very clever either,” Historia muttered. “I see the cab. Thank you for helping me, Eren. I’ll call Ymir now.”

Just at that moment, the cab pulled up. It screeched to a halt, making Historia stand and smooth out her pants. 

With a parting hug, Historia kissed Eren’s cheek and left into that car that sped off into the night.

He watched as the the cab disappeared into the darkness, feeling a little bad he hadn’t taken care of her more—but he couldn’t afford to stay out late as he was.

He watched a little longer, the street lights morphing into waves against the black street. The top of Eren’s eyeball began to feel very heavy and he found himself leaning forward.

Drowsiness took over, sending an electric shot of panic straight down his core.

Eren’s eyes twitched and wanted to involuntarily close. He stumbled forward and found himself hunched over his knees. It was almost like gravity became stronger, or his head grew a size too big.

Shit. Eren gulped, willing himself to stand straight on his feet.

He blinked harshly and saw his mother’s house a block away. It was going to be a troublesome trek to get there, but he’d rather be passed out and face the wrath of his mom than getting his shit stolen.

His body dragged. The temptation to lie still on the side walk and sleep was too strong, but he knew he couldn’t stop. If he stopped, it was all over.

Eren allowed a single eye to close as he found the gate to his mom’s backyard. He struggled finding the latch that allowed the gate to swing open—he could’ve sworn it was on the left and not the right side. Doesn’t matter.

The brunet slumped into the backyard and collapsed against the door, breathing a sigh of relief.

As Eren fell asleep, he found himself grateful that it was him and not Historia.

-

There was a sound—er, multiple sounds. It felt like a harmony of things that garbled and felt muted to him. It felt like he was listening to something coming from a muffled television in another room.

He recognized voices. It was hard to make out what they were saying at first, and it was hard to tell if they were even speaking English.

“—even awake?”

“Not sure.”

Eren’s eyes twitched and he slowly opened them, blinding sunlight forcing him to shut them once more. He groaned and buried his head in the dirt.

Where the fuck was he?

His mind was still very much blank. He doesn’t remember a whole lot from last night, only Britney Spears and drinking alcohol. He briefly remembered seeing a road and seeing a blonde girl, but that was it.

Eren raised a hand to rub at his eye, his limbs feeling slight static from how dormant they’ve been. The arm that was trapped under his body ached slightly. 

“Oh, shit! He’s up! Erm—Should we go get Levi . . . ?”

Eren cracked open an eye and found a couple staring at him with wide eyes.

Both were leaning in far too close with hands on their knees. One was a woman with wild, dark brown hair and tanned skin. She had oval shaped glasses sitting atop an aquiline nose. The other was a tall, blond man with slicked down hair and striking blue eyes.

His heart skipped a beat—shit, did he wander into someone else’s backyard on accident?!

His eyes scanned the scene behind them and his heart dropped. He was definitely not in his mom’s backyard. In fact, this place was a lot nicer, having greenery and a small stone fountain shoved in the corner. Flowers and deep green leaves were planted nearly everywhere, but they were all trimmed so neatly.

The woman stood first, crossing her arms skeptically.

“Hm . . . I’d hate to say this—“

“Don’t say it.”

“But he’s kinda cute!”

Eren sat up shakily, making the pair step back. “Uh—hey—sorry—“

His heart was racing as he tried to formulate a sentence. His words all crashed into each other in his throat, making it uncomfortable to speak. He began blathering something about a party and a drink and a girl, but it was clear they didn’t understand him.

Eren was growing flustered. The two stared at him for an uncomfortable amount of time.

“I think we should call the cops.” Decided the blond man.

Eren stood, waving his arms. “Wait—no, I just—“

“What the hell is taking you two so long?”

The woman jumped in her shoes and turned quickly. Eren followed her line of sight and saw Levi standing there, looking more irritated than usual.

Eren’s breath caught in his throat like he was hit by a truck. Don’t tell me he was in . . .

His head spun. It all made sense. Levi’s backyard was immaculate and his gate was mere feet away from his mother’s property.

Eren has fucked up. He has totally fucked up.

Levi’s eyes landed on the scene. “Eren, what the hell are you doing here?!”

“You know this cutie?” The brunette quipped, pointing precariously.

“Don’t tell me this is another one of your failed dates, Levi.”

“Does your mom know you’re here?” Levi ignored his companions, his eyes staring straight into Eren. His eyes were racing up and down Eren’s figure, no doubt putting pieces together in his brain. 

“No,” Eren muttered. “Um—sorry—I was—there was—“

“You look like shit. What happened?”

The brunet blinked at his neighbor. The man spoke concisely and stared without hesitance. His body language was authoritative, making Eren stand straight in his shoes.

Eren drew a deep breath. “There was a party—“

Levi’s face scrunched. “Of course you’d be involved with that loud mess. I couldn’t get a wink of sleep last night.”

“—and I was with a girl and I think someone put something in her drink—“

“You were roofied?!” The woman cried incredulously. “Oh you poor thing!”

“And you went to Levi for help?” The taller man raised a brow.

Levi ignored his friends once more. “So you broke into my yard and destroyed my carrots?”

Eren looked down. His (one) nice shirt was covered in dirt and his jeans wrinkled. His shoes were clogged with soil and he could tell his face wasn’t at its most handsome, either.

“Sorry . . .” Eren murmured, scratching the back of his neck. “I didn’t mean to, really. I thought this was my mom’s yard.”

“Eren,” The blond voiced, the name sounding foreign in his mouth. “So you’re Eren.”

The brunet made eye contact with the taller blond, who stared back at him with a vague familiarity. The gears in Eren’s head turned . . . He knows this guy.

Wait.

Tall. Blond. Piercing blue eyes. Thick eyebrows. Eren’s heard these characteristics many times. Even when unprompted, his ears would be subject to Armin’s almost annoying ramblings about the object of his affections.

“No fucking way,” Eren muttered aloud.

“How do you two know each other?” Levi snapped defensively, stepping between the two.

Eren bit back a snarky remark. “He’s—My friend knows him.”

“Armin,” Erwin affirmed, his voice sounding too fond for Eren’s tastes.

Levi pinched his nose bridge. “This—This is too much. Eren, you need to go back to your mom’s house. Now.”

“No way!” Eren cried. “I’m still—I’m still drugged up! I’m all dirty and she’d kill me if she found out that—

“I don’t care,” Levi growled coldly. “You need to deal with the shit outcomes of your shit choices.”

“Just let me camp out here!” Eren whined. “I—I’ll leave when I know she’s gone for the day. Let me stay . . . Please?”

The brunette woman frowned. “Levi, I think you’re being too—“

“No one asked, four eyes.”

“You can come with me,” Erwin offered gently. “Erm—I can call Armin to pick you up, if you’d like . . .?”

“No way,” Levi and Eren answered at once.

Levi shot an annoyed look at his neighbor. “Fine. Use my shower and I’ll lend you some clothes. Don’t leave a mess and don’t steal my shit.”

Eren blinked, shocked at what he was hearing.

“Th-Thank you! Thank you, you’re a life saver.”

“Yeah, yeah. Go sober up, you shitty brat.”

Chapter Text

“So that’s Carla’s son, hm?”

Levi sat back on his haunches and heaved a sigh. He dragged the back of his forearm across his sweaty forehead and glared at his friend. A friend who cared too much and was far too loud, the one and only, Hanji Zoe.

She smiled at him wickedly from her shady position on Levi’s porch. She agreed to help Levi with some yard maintenance this morning, despite sitting in the shade and typing over her laptop the entire time. Levi knew what was to be expected, though. 

Levi turned back to pulling weeds near the stairs.

And Erwin became useless, too. Ever since he started talking to that twink from the university, the entirety of his free time is devoted to typing on his phone. In fact, he was inside right now having a phone call with the aforementioned twink. Levi wasn't even sure why he invited the tall blond if he was just going to type away on his phone the entire time, but Levi knew better than to start excluding Erwin from the trio. 

Erwin talked about that kid so much that Levi would have half a mind to duct tape Erwin’s mouth shut. Erwin always had problems with romance, falling in love too easily and slipping into something obsessive. These were traits that Levi himself could never relate to, and they quite frankly pissed him off most days. It could be the fact they were two men with unsuccessful marriages, with Erwin's divorce ending a bit more tragic than his own; Erwin discovered that his husband Mike was in an affair with a woman from another country. Maybe his friend's willingness to love again was stinging to Levi's own pessimistic view on life. 

“Yeah,” Levi answered Hanji’s question. “That's Carla's son. I’m pretty sure the brat hates me, though. He kicked a plate of cookies onto my door."

Hanji's face brightened with amusement. "He what?! How do you know it was him?"

"I was watching from the peephole," Levi scowled at the memory. "I thought it was those damn door-to-door Mormons again, so I wanted to tell them to fuck off. But what do I get? Sugar and cookies scattered all over my porch."

"Levi, that's hilarious. What'd you do to the poor kid?"

"Thinks I’m pile driving his mom, probably,” Levi couldn't help but smirk. He wasn't entirely sure how Eren was the one to jump to this conclusion, but he wasn't going to pass up this opportunity to fuck with him. 

“You?!” Hanji laughed. “Levi, you’re gayer than Christmas and he and his mom think you’re—?”

“Carla knows,” Levi stated, dusting off his gardening gloves by swiping them against each other. “She figured it out right away. Her son isn’t so bright, though.”

“But that’s your type, isn’t it? Dumb-asses?" Levi scowled at this giggly accusation from the professor. He half-expected to hear this from her, though, as Eren’s attractiveness was offensively obvious to anyone with eyes

"Hanji . . . "

"You also like straight dudes.”

Levi stared back at her darkly. She looked self-righteously smug. Her laptop was forgotten and put to the side in order for her to lean forward. Hanji was a smart woman, but it was safe to say she missed the mark with this one. 

Levi hummed. Though, her observation on Eren being exactly Levi’s type hadn’t gone unnoticed. Eren was, unfortunately, Levi’s type. He was tall, had a great smile and looked clean. Levi had a very specific checklist for guys on his radar, and Eren displayed all of them brilliantly. 

“I know you’re a psych professor,” Levi started. “But grilling me isn’t getting you anywhere.”

Hanji cocked an eyebrow. “Do my eyes deceive me or are you being defensive about a kid you barely know?”

“Sounds like your shitty eyes deceive you.”

Hanji tutted her mouth, irritated. “You’re so dodgy! You know, Erwin was the exact same way when he met Armin. Being in denial, being snarky—“

“Erwin’s a dumb ass,” Levi remarked, still in disbelief that his hopeless romantic of a friend happened to fall for a student. “He could get fired for messing around with a student. Sorry, but I actually like my job.”

“But Eren isn’t a student . . . ?”

“Say, how about you check up on that shitty brat anyway? He’s been in the shower for nearly an hour now.”

He changed the topic quickly and went back to pulling weeds. He grabbed the stem of a rather large one and yanked it hard, sending dirt exploding and flying from the ground. Weeds were impossible to keep up with, but they were a good source for Levi to take out his frustrations.

Hanji stood and stared at him carefully. Her smile wasn’t playful anymore, flattening to a stiff line. Her fingers clenched and unclenched, indicating that she had more to say than she was letting on. Letting out an irritated sigh, Hanji turned and disappeared into Levi’s house, the screen door squeaking. 

Levi ignored her, though. He had no time for her stupid mind games.

He yanked out another weed, his arms burning from being out in the sun.

Honestly, what on Earth was Hanji thinking? Levi thought, gritting his teeth together. Sure, Eren was handsome looking, but he was also very young. From what Carla had told him, Eren just turned 20 a few months ago, putting their age gap at a devastating 15 years apart. Levi was closer in age to his mother, for crying out loud! He’s been teaching students in Eren’s age group for years, and the idea of hooking up with one of his students made him want to vomit. 

Hanji returned minutes later, looking bored. Levi saw this as a good thing, though, as it meant the woman managed to not catch Eren at an inopportune time to bother or harass him some more. And as much as he loathed the kid, he felt as though no one believed the prying eyes of Hanji. 

“He’s still in the shower!” Hanji huffed, residing herself on Levi’s porch furniture and reaching over for her laptop. “Honestly, no clue why kids that age spend so much time in the shower—“

Levi stood. “I’ll go check on him.” 

-

Levi knocked on the door, finding his nerves being suffocated with the feeling of irritation and impatience. 

Disgusting. What kind of moron stumbles into someone else’s garden after a night of partying? Levi allowed his scowl to deepen in the presence of no one. Eren was pretty dirty when they found him sleeping in the garden, with dirt all over his face and hair—Levi shuddered. He hoped, for Eren’s sake, he cleaned thoroughly but carefully. Levi was looking forward to bleaching his entire bathroom tomorrow, anyway. 

The door opened swiftly, forcing Levi to step back. 

Eren stood there, a towel clenched around his waist and held in place by a fist. Levi’s eyes traveled upwards, his throat going dry at how unbelievably sculpted Eren looked. His physique was everything seen on TV and magazines, with muscle packed onto a broad frame underneath unblemished tanned skin. 

“Did you need help with something?” Eren asked skeptically, the tone of his voice instantly grating on Levi’s aforementioned irritation. Eren was venomous again, almost as if he had forgotten how grateful he sounded earlier. 

Levi shook his head, meeting eye level with Eren and refusing to look down. “Do you need clothes?” He wanted to ask why the brat took so long in the shower, but he then remembered that he didn’t care. 

“No,” Eren replied coldly. “I already got some from your ‘friend’.”

Eren didn’t give him a chance to reply, as the door shut swiftly in Levi’s face. 

Levi squinted at the plain, white door in confusion. Hanji didn’t mention anything about giving Eren some clothes, so what gives—?

He raised his hand to knock once more, but he decided against it.

God forbid he get another barrage of cookies against his door. 

-

Levi was out in his yard watering his vegetables, which was a daily activity for him. He preferred watering by hand, as to ensure complete satisfaction within every inch of his soil. It was relaxing to bleed the minutes away, watching the clear water from the hose drain into his garden. 

Of course, this ritual was interrupted when Eren went out onto his own backyard he shared with Carla. Levi did his best to not stare, but he couldn’t help it. 

After Eren left his home two days ago, he hadn’t seen much of him since. Eren left without saying goodbye or without mentioning the clothes he supposedly borrowed. He thought of asking Hanji or Erwin if they had lent him anything, but he didn’t want to worry himself with Eren too much. He already staked out his efforts by allowing the brunet to recover at his home, and getting involved was the last thing Levi wanted. 

Their fence sat low enough for Levi, a man of 5’4” to look over and see well into their yard, and he saw a lot indeed. Carla’s yard was unkempt and overgrown at no fault of her own, of course. Levi was half tempted to begin some vigilante work of up keeping the yard had Carla not bought the place. 

Eren was wearing clothes this time. He wore basketball shorts and a faded shirt, which was nothing too extraordinary. He had his back to Levi as he held the rake in his hands close to him. He didn’t move for a few moments, which made Levi worried, until he opened his fat mouth. 

”You can set up security cameras, you know,” Eren called over his shoulder. “That way you can look at me all day without staring like a creep.” 

Levi scoffed. “You’re flattering yourself.” 

“Whatever. Your eyes obviously found something flattering when I showered at your house.” 

Levi scoffed, a little impressed the kid had the guts to throw that in his face. Perhaps he wasn’t as much of a frat kid as Levi had assumed. 

“I also thought it was flattering when I saw you kicked those damn cookies at my door,” Levi replied back, satisfied in the way Eren’s back and arms stiffened.

Eren froze but resumed his talking with a more urgent pace. “You saw that, huh?” 

“Yep, sure did. So, what exactly did I do to you that resulted in sugar and cookie dough exploding all over my door, Eren? Care to share?” 

Eren didn’t answer. 

Levi shifted over to the right, aiming his hose to his tomatoes. Just because he was in a verbal altercation with the neighborhood brat doesn’t mean he would pay attention to his garden any less. 

“You’re kind of an asshole?” Eren turned to ask as if it weren’t already obvious. He perched the rake against the ground and leaned against it, as if he were planting an imaginary flag on a new colony just discovered. “I wouldn’t have guessed you were a stranger to people vandalizing your house.” 

Levi’s lips tightened. He sure wasn’t, but he didn’t want Eren to know that. 

“You’re an asshole, too,” Levi simply countered. “You are insulting and accusatory. Unnecessarily so. Can’t we just call this truce?” 

“I don’t owe anything to you,” Eren scoffed, turning away again to continue his raking. “You’re just a bitter, divorced asshole with nothing better to do than to hurt people. You can suck my dick for all I care. 

His hand moved before his brain could think, and before he knew it, he closed half a finger over the hose and raised it quickly, spraying Eren in a cold gush of water. His body arched and he yelped with surprise. Levi chuckled with the way the brunet skidded away from the shock of the water, his hat nearly falling off his head. 

Eren turned to glare, disbelief in his eyes. 

“Oops,” Levi smirked. “My bad.”

Chapter Text

Eren studied the untouched cup of coffee before him. 

He doesn’t remember exactly what he ordered—or rather, what Historia ordered for him. She ordered him something that sounded too complicated for Eren to remember. Almond-milk whipped espresso cappuccino—whatever

The chestnut colored liquid sat in a pale yellow cup, grasping the edges of the cup and rattling at every sudden movement. He hadn’t tasted it yet, but he didn’t want to. It stared back at him, almost beckoning him forth. He felt nausea creep at the back of his throat, almost as if he were to throw up if he were to take a sip.

“Everything okay?” Historia gently asked, leaning forward and flicking mascara covered eyelashes at him. She seemed genuinely concerned, which made Eren feel a sense of guilt.

A few days after that incident at Mr. Ackerman’s house, that girl from the party found Eren’s number through the grapevine and invited him out to coffee. He wasn’t really surprised she reached out. Eren was used to this kind of treatment from women. 

Eren, having nothing better to do than to help his mom clean and decorate the house, agreed immediately. He was getting too alone with his thoughts and his therapist, Dr. Brzenska, was only available every so often. It wasn’t helpful to be too focused on his own thoughts and Eren tended to use women as a distraction, as bad as that sounded. 

Historia seemed like a nice girl, though. She was very cute and stylish, which Eren could always appreciate about anyone. She was a good texter and very clever with her humor, which was also another bonus. It’s also been awhile since Eren’s found himself occupied by a woman he was interested in, so he figured it was about time. 

This was slightly different. Eren was off his game today.

They’ve been sitting here for an hour. It was spent in complete silence, with Eren shooting down every attempt at conversation. Historia tried her best to not look hurt, but stern with a dying kindness in her eyes. 

She didn’t deserve that, really. Historia was a good, nice person who paid for his coffee and he couldn’t even find it within himself to take one measly sip. 

Eren thought briefly about how Historia would make the ideal girlfriend. His mother would adore her, finding every small, domestic moment to spend time with her. He could see now the potential conversations the two would have; Fond words would be exchanged over their mutual love for Eren Jaeger.

“Eren?” 

Ice shot down his stomach. Right, Historia asked a question. 

"Are you okay?" She asked softly.

“Uhh--“ Eren finally croaked, his voice feeling unable to work. “Sorry. Just a lot on my mind.” 

And there was a lot on his mind. He thought of the events of last week, in which he took a shower at Levi's home. While that situation was very strange in itself, he was more concerned about the events that occurred after

“Oh . . . Do you want to talk about it?” Historia asked gently, leaning forward. A waterfall of platinum blonde hair fell over her shoulder.  

Eren grabbed at the neglected cup of coffee before him and lifted it to his lips. He took a long, slow sip. The semi-bitter liquid burned down his throat, making Eren screw his eyes shut. 

Eren remembered how protective Levi seemed to be of Erwin. He remembered Levi stepping between the two and glaring with a possessive sense of intimacy in regards to the blond man. Eren reeled at the memory, Levi never looking so lively before. 

It only looked more bitter when Erwin, emerging from Levi's bedroom dressed in casual clothes, surprised the brunet with a pair of his own clothing. Eren was positively shocked at the whole encounter! His mind raced and he could only draw one conclusion: Erwin was in a relationship with Levi.

How else was one supposed to explain that? Erwin, someone Levi looked protective of, emerging from the bedroom in pajamas and walking around like he frequented the place! Though Eren was glad Levi had no interest in his mother, he was more dreadful of how Armin will react. 

“Yes, actually,” Eren began. “So—I-If you were talking with this guy you really, really like, would you want to know if he was in a relationship with someone else?” 

Historia looked startled. “Oh, um . . . I would, yes.” 

“If your best friend knew about this other relationship, would you want your friend to let you know?"

Historia thought about it. “I think I would. It would be the right thing to do, and I would always want my friends to do the right thing.” 

“Thanks,” Eren allowed. “That’s-That’s all I needed.” 

-

Eren prompted to walk. He thought it best to deliver this news to Armin in person and at his apartment, which was only a small walk away from the coffee shop. 

After how he acted, it would be pretty selfish to ask Historia for a ride home after that. She was nothing but sweet to him and he was acting aloof the entire time. 

Eren grimaced a bit, embarrassment burning the pits of his stomach. That was truly an awful date. Eren’s had his handful of awkward moments with the opposite sex before, but that hour with Historia was insufferable. It was going to keep him awake at night for sure. 

He heaved a heavy sigh, kicking a stray pebble into the street. The stone bounced off the pavement and out of sight, dipping behind the crooked crevices of the sidewalk. 

He hasn’t felt this disgruntled in awhile, and he wasn’t sure whether to take action or to call his therapist. His therapist might have a few nuggets of wisdom, but how was his therapist supposed to deal with this? 

This was something tangible. This was a conflict between two people in which Eren had the opportunity to fix and mend himself. He had to save his friend Armin from heart ache, no matter what. It would most definitely hurt, since Armin was undoubtedly a good person. He was nice and earnestly did the right thing all the time. He deserved someone who loved him for him, not someone who loved him for some kind of fetish or anything. 

The blond was notorious for having difficulty finding a boyfriend. Armin’s hobbies were eccentric and his personality was a bit more on the dorky side. If you add being short, gay, and trans, it really seemed as though Armin was doomed to a single life forever.

Once in view of his apartment, he noticed a small blond head of hair heading down the steps. 

Eren’s breath hitched, not expecting for his friend to be out and about. 

“Hey, Armin!” Eren broke out into a jog. The blond’s head snapped up and he broke out into a small, familiar smile. 

Armin clutched a couple of books to his chest, squinting at his taller friend in the harsh sunlight. “Glad to see you’re in one piece after the party. Are you feeling okay?”

“Erm—yeah,” Eren muttered, his gut stirring with guilt if Armin had known where he’d been these past few days. “Where you headed?” 

“Erwin asked me out to brunch, actually!” Armin beamed, sunshine pouring out of every word like it usually had when talking about his superior. “Why, what’s up?” 

Eren found that the words in his throat were jumbled, crashing into one another like some horrible car accident. 

He felt awful, truly. Erwin was the one guy who Armin seemed especially attached to. They were both dorky people who enjoyed school and nature a little too much. On paper, this guy walked out of a Armin’s dreams and in real life. 

But it was too good to be true. Eren had to break this to him. 

“I need to tell you something about Erwin,” Eren urged, leaning forward. “You think you got a second or two?” 

His friend blinked, his expression clouding with an apprehensive curiosity. His body language stiffened and he leaned away. 

“Is it . . . bad?” Armin’s voice dropped. 
Eren grimaced, his stomach suddenly feeling uncomfortably tight. His throat swelled with tension, not knowing how he should deliver this bad news. 

“I think we should go back inside," Eren nodded towards the apartment, his lip tightening. 

-

“Jesus Christ, are you still moping?” 

Hanji delivered a swift slap to the back of Levi’s head. 

The raven scoffed into his menu, rolling his eyes and browsing at the sandwiches they offered. 

Erwin, on the other hand, was staring holes into the table top and rubbing a vacant hand on the back of his neck. He looked his usual, well-put together self, except for the giant bags under his eyes. His crystal blue eyes also seemed a bit more lifeless, but nothing unusual for the man whenever he was going through a heart break. 

Quite honestly, this whole thing pissed Levi off. Erwin was a man who loved fast and forgave easily, so of course, this big doofus was a divorcee just like Levi was. 

But unlike Levi, this man bravely threw himself at some kid and fell like a bird hitting a window. From what Levi gathered, him and this kid have been talking for two months now, going on casual dates but never kissing. 

Who doesn’t fuck by the third date? Levi thought to himself, scoffing in amusement. 

Levi would have half a mind to knock some sense into him. Both his bushy browed friend and the kid who shat on his heart.  

“It’s been two weeks, Erwin,” Levi grumbled. “You’d think you’d get over some random twink by now. Hasn’t stopped you before.” 

Erwin sighed into a closed fist, flicking through a menu without thought. “His name is Armin. And he was different. He’s smart, he’s caring, he’s . . .” 

Hanji’s face softened. “I’m sure he’s just preoccupied! He really seemed to like you back, didn’t he?” 

“Yes.” 

“Then give it a bit more time,” Hanji’s lips tightened. “There has to be something else going on.”

Levi rolled his eyes. Hanji was lying out of her asshole and Erwin was eating it up. Hanji knew what she was saying was bullshit, but if it helped their friend get over a heart ache, more power to them. 

Levi wasn’t one for shit like that, but he’s known these clowns for years now. He had to say something. 

This was the first time Erwin’s left the house in two weeks. Levi wanted to enjoy a nice lunch with his friends and he didn’t want it to be ruined by Erwin’s moping. 

“Look, Erwin,” Levi slapped down his menu. “You’re a real catch. If that kid doesn’t see it, he’s a real dumb ass. You’re educated, you’re ridiculously hot and you don’t have STDs. You’ll be fine.” 

Erwin’s face cracked into a smile, his eyes watering and his thick brows furrowing. “Levi . . .” 

“Christ, can we order now?” 

“Thank you for saying that, munchkin!” Hanji squealed, her high pitched voice making Levi wince. She slipped an arm around her friend’s shoulder and squeezed him tight, making Erwin laugh and wipe away at a tear. 

“Okay, okay,” Levi scowled, shoving his friend off of him. “You smell like shit. Do you guys know what you want yet?” 

“Hm I haven’t looked.” Erwin muttered, leaning down to fully invest in the menu. Levi sighed slightly, relieved that the topic changed so quickly. 

“They have really good stuff here!” Hanji put forth. “Moblit told me about their paninis. See there’s this one . . .” 

His friends fell into a comfortable conversation, Levi naturally tuning himself out. 

He already knew what he wanted. He wanted some kind of artisan sandwich they offered along with a nice, warm cup of black tea. He’s eaten here once or twice before, once with his ex and another on a meeting. 

Levi closed his eyes and breathed in the air of the café, smelling like warmth and food. He wasn’t one for going out often, but when he did, it had to be a good, comfortable place. 
He perched his chin in his hand and leaned forth, slowly opening his eyes.

Oh, hello.

Levi’s posture straightened when he saw a deliciously broad back in the front of the restaurant. The mystery man in question had tanned skin and taut muscles underneath a denim jacket and tattered pants. Not to mention the pert, round ass underneath. 

Wait—he was talking to a woman. A woman slightly shorter than him and she had a hand around her swollen, pregnant stomach. She smiled when talking to this hot piece of ass. 

Damn. Levi leaned back, opting to bring his focus back towards his friends. He closed his menu and slid it away, trying to take his mind off. 

Maybe Hanji was right. Maybe he did have a thing for straight dudes. 

“Mikasa—we can’t sit here!” 

Was that . . . ?

“It’s the only table open, Eren. What’s the matter with you—?” 

No . . .

Levi turned and saw— 

Oh my God, gross. 

He saw Eren approaching the booth next to Levi’s, his eyes darting nervously around. He was being dragged forth by the pregnant woman earlier, who wasn’t taking notice of Levi or his friends. The pair maneuvered right past Levi’s table, forcing the two neighbors to make direct eye contact. 

Levi’s throat caught when he realized that Eren was indeed the man he was shamelessly checking out earlier. He felt even worse when he realized how nice Eren’s body was up close. 

Despite his disgust, Levi kept his stare focused on Eren, who met his eyes and stared back, with his dumb face tightened and his lips pouted. He kept that face even when he sat down with this woman, Mikasa. 

And of course, Eren sat across from this girl, whose back was facing Levi’s. Now Eren was going to be slightly in view for the entire meal. 

What a way to lose my appetite. Levi thought miserably, crossing his arms and looking away.   

“Eren, what are you looking at?” 

“Nothing! Leave it alone—“ 

God, Eren—“ 

“Hello!” A waitress smiled, rushing up to the edge of Levi’s table. She bounced in her place, nearly whacking Levi with a drink tray she had. “Sorry about that wait y’all, can I get everyone started off with some drinks?” 

Levi uncrossed his arms and reached for some hand sanitizer in his jacket. God forbid he touch any more germs in this place. He has a giant one sitting the next booth over. 

Hanji ordered first, grabbing Levi’s menu and giving it to the waitress. Erwin followed after, his mood much lighter than before. 

Finally, Levi gave his order, ignoring the pair of sea green eyes staring right at him. 

Chapter Text

“What about your mom’s house?” 

Levi froze, mid-chew. 

The raven leaned slightly to the right and watched Eren’s table with curiosity. 

Shortly after they sat down, a bunch of brats joined Eren’s table. There was a short, bald brat. There was a taller, brunette brat and a brat with a long face. They were all loud and only seemed to get louder. Eren acted dumber around them, throwing teasing words and playfully punching them. 

Levi was tempted to say something but Hanji and Erwin weren’t taking notice, so he left it alone. The two were involved in their own conversation. As much Levi wanted to be involved with his friends, he couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the table next to them. 

“What about my mom’s house?” Eren snapped, reaching for a fry off Mikasa’s plate. His sister didn’t seem to mind, chowing down on her burger and idly listening. 

“Well, it’s perfect for the party!” The brunette, whose name Levi learned was Sasha, grinned. “Your mom’s gone next weekend, why don’t we just have it there . . . ?” 

A bitter taste filled Levi’s mouth. So the brats were going to be throwing another loud ass party in the neighborhood. He’s sure that will fare well with the residents, seeing as they’re mostly families and elderly people. 

Levi took a sip of his tea. As his nature called for, he ought to bust this whole operation before it even started. What’s stopping him from shooting a quick text to Carla to warn her? He doesn’t even like Eren, so there’s no reason to vouch for him. 

He placed his cup down and pretended to listen to whatever Hanji and Erwin were talking about. 

Although, Eren was notorious for being sloppy. Who’s to say he wouldn’t fuck this up on his own? If this kid was capable of getting roofied at a party and destroying Levi’s garden, he was more than capable of getting himself in trouble. 

Levi leaned back in his seat. Perhaps he should let this one play out.

-

“What a charming little house.” 

“Thank you,” Levi stepped to the side, allowing the man to enter. “Shoes off, please.”

Levi scanned the stranger’s body from behind, enjoying what he saw. 

As it turned out, Eren’s house party had started too early and ended up having way too many people. The music grew, the number of cars grew and the music nearly vibrated the walls of Levi’s house. 

It was beyond irritating. Before Levi convinced himself to call the cops, he grabbed his keys and drove down to the local gay bar, hoping to drown out the music by getting pounded by a stranger. 

And there he was. Levi found this tall, young lanky thing. He was on the skinner side with ash blond hair and a mischievous smile. He was very easy on the eyes, so Levi approached him right away. There was also the accent—Levi assumed it was British, to which the guy offendedly responded that he was Australian. 

To be honest, he wasn’t Levi’s type at all, but he was flirty and attractive enough. He bought him some drinks and complimented his eyes.

Guess that’s all it takes nowadays, huh? Levi thought to himself, dropping his keys on the counter.

“So, uh—“ Levi said a little awkwardly. He cursed himself inwardly as he realized he forgot the guy’s name. 

“Farlan.”

Farlan,” Levi repeated, the name foreign in his mouth. “Want a drink?” 

The blond snickered. “I’m good, thanks. I’d say we make our way to the bedroom, how about you?” 

“You’re forward.” 

“I’m tipsy,” Farlan corrected, shedding his jacket and placing it on the couch. “And horny. It’s hot in here, damn.” His idle talk went in one ear and out the other for Levi. 

“Well, I’m gonna grab a drink,” Levi stated, padding into the kitchen. He flicked on the light and felt his eyes swirl a bit at the harsh fluorescent color that filled the room. 

He probably didn’t need this drink. His head was starting to inflate from the few drinks Farlan bought for him earlier. They spent quite a bit of time at the bar, laughing and talking in each other’s faces. This was until Farlan got brave and asked if they could move their conversation to Levi’s place. 

To be quite honest, Levi would’ve much rather spent the night at wherever Farlan lived, but the man sheepishly explained he was living with family for the summer. 

Doesn’t matter. Levi hoped the man was loud enough to drown out the sounds of the party next door. The shorter man leaned on his tippy toes and opened the cabinet, eyeing a rather expensive bottle of wine. 

“Can’t get through the night without a bit more alcohol?” The man called, sinking into the sofas. “Am I that ugly?” 

God, no. Levi thought to himself, unscrewing a bottle of wine. In fact, Farlan was really attractive. So much so that Levi bred a bit of self-loathing for himself because of it. 

Levi chose not to answer, only pouring the blood red liquid into the glass. He filled the bottom portion of the glass, the sharp and bitter smell of the wine piercing the back of his throat. 

He made his way back to the living room, his lips glued to the edge of the glass. He threw the alcohol back into his throat, a burning sensation running up his lungs and into his cheeks. 

“What a champ,” The man laughed wickedly. His gray eyes ran up and down Levi’s body hungrily, making the raven scoff.

Levi left the glass on the coffee table and joined Farlan on the adjacent sofa. He sunk into it, a pounding pulse sounding above his ears. 

The alcohol pumping in his veins did little to lighten his mood. Farlan was great to have around for compliments, but truth be told, Levi hated having strangers over like this. People were dirty, people were fussy and most importantly, they had feelings

Levi’s gaze went over to the man next to him. He was hot. It would be a shame to waste this evening. Farlan seemed too cheeky to get attached, anyway. 

“You’re sexy,” Farlan grinned, his pointed chin resting in the palm of his hand. “Has anyone ever told you that?”

Levi scoffed, shutting his eyes and resting his head on the back of the sofa. “Flattery is pointless. You’re already in my house.” His hands reached up and ran through his hair. 

“And funny too,” Farlan’s thin brows raised. “I bet you’re a mouthy top.” 

“Top?” Levi popped an eye open, panic creeping into his heart. “Don’t tell me you’re a fucking bottom.” 

Farlan’s eyes narrowed. “And you’re . . “ 

“Not a top,” Levi sneered. “God damn it to hell, what’s the point of having two bottoms?” 

“There’s no way you’re a bottom!” 

“The fuck’s a bottom supposed to look like, asshole?” Truth be told, Levi didn’t mind topping all that much. It was still nice, and Levi did tend to be more dominant in bed, but bottoming just felt so much better. 

Farlan shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. One of us has to buck up for tonight. And I already cleaned, so . . .” 

Levi ran an irritated hand through his hair. “So I can call you a cab.” 

“Don’t be like that,” The blond spoke, narrowing his eyes. “We don’t have to—JESUS CHRIST!” 

Levi jumped as the sound of shattering glass sounded throughout the living room. 

He looked towards the source of the sound—a rugged looking football in the middle of his carpet that wasn’t there before. It was surrounded by glittery fragments of glass. The broken window allowed for the bumping music to enter Levi’s home, making him cringe with how loud it was. 

Anger exploded in his stomach, causing Levi to stand abruptly and walk over to the window. Narrowly avoiding the glass, he looked out and saw a group of damn college kids gaping back at him before scrambling inside Carla’s house. 

I should’ve called the police. Levi grit his teeth, feeling his eyebrow twitch with irritation. 

“I thought this was a nice neighborhood,” Farlan mused, initiating a death glare from Levi. The raven scoffed and grabbed the football, making sure to properly return it to its rightful owner. 

“I’ll be right back,” Levi muttered, hobbling over to slip on his shoes. With his slightly drunken state, it was a bit more difficult and he embarrassingly had to lean on the door. 

“I think I should get going,” Farlan awkwardly retrieved his coat. “Before it gets ugly and all—“ 

“Don’t go,” Levi said, his tone laced with disbelief and anger. “I’m—I’ll just be a few minutes!” 

Farlan shrugged on his coat. “You have my number—“ 

Farlan.” 

“Call me when that window’s fixed, huh?” 

And in a hurry, the blond left, making Levi’s gut twist with anger and defeat. 

Damn it, damn it, damn it. Was anything ever going to go Levi’s way for once? 

But no. He couldn’t have friends, he couldn’t be nice to his neighbor’s kid and now he couldn’t have sex? And it all centered around the troublesome brat next door. What a fucking nuisance. 

He was definitely going to wring Eren’s neck. 

-

Levi pounded on the door with his fist, causing the music inside to be turned down ever so slightly. 

A few moments passed, Levi listening carefully for any more signs of life within the house before him. 

He knocked again, pounding a little bit harder than before. The door shuddered beneath him.

“Eren!” Levi called through the crack in the door. “Come out here, you little shit!” 

The music continued, albeit no sounds of cheering or chatter from before. 

For a minute, Levi felt like some grouchy old man about to spoil some fun for some kids. He remembered how lame it was back then for his Uncle Kenny to do the exact same thing, but this was totally different, right? These damn kids broke a fucking window for crying out loud. 

“God damn it, I’m gonna call the cops if you don’t open this door!” 

No response. 

“I’m gonna tell your mom!” 

The door creaked open, forcing Levi to take a step back. 

He was met with Eren and the heat of the party behind him. It smelled like smoke in the house and there was an annoyingly loud amount of chatter behind him. Levi dared a peek and noticed a ton of college kids milling about. Some noticed Levi’s disturbance and moved away from the door. 

Eren stood tall, his dark brown hair messed up and curled lightly. He wore a plaid shirt buttoned upon over one of the university’s t-shirts and tattered jeans. 

His face was flushed and his bottom lip pouty. He had a sneering look over his face, his thick eyebrows down turned and his chin length hair curled around. It framed his face nicely, and if he wasn’t such a shit head, he would be exactly Levi’s type. 

“The fuck do you want, Levi?” Eren asked, clearly annoyed. His speech was slurred slightly and his frame was leaned against the door. 

“Your goons broke my window, genius,” Levi scowled, holding the football up and waving it about. 

Eren raised a thick brow at the football. “I dunno, I’ve never seen that ball. You sure it was one of my friends?” A few chuckles sounded behind him, making Levi’s brows furrow deeper. 

Levi blinked, his mouth falling open. “I—You—I fucking saw it! They ran back inside this fucking house!”

Eren shrugged, a drunken smirk playing across his lips. 

The older man scoffed, his bones feeling hot with rage. So this is how this brat wanted to play things, huh? He was just gonna play dumb and dance around like some sort of monkey, messing with Levi like a ball of yarn. 

So be it. 

Without thinking, Levi launched an arm back and chucked the football straight at Eren’s face. It landed successfully, but not until the ball ricocheted back into Levi’s forehead. 

Levi stumbled backwards, feeling hot embarrassment explode in his chest. Eren was looking down at him in horror before he realized what happened and slapped a hand over his mouth. 

Eren’s body jolted forward with a laugh, with Levi scowling at him. 

“Take your damn football back,” Levi growled before turning quickly and stomping back into his house. The sounds of laughter taunted him, fading into the night. 

That backfired. It backfired badly. 

-

[Farlan]
hey…sorry for ditching you last night 

I had fun talking to you! 

and I don’t triple text people, so…be lucky or whatever haha 

how did things go w the window haha  

Levi stretched out his pale, muscular arm towards the coffee table. He slapped the surface a few times, feeling the edge of his cellphone. It fell to the floor with a clatter, causing Levi to curse and sit up. 

His head was pounding and his throat felt dry like sand. Tell tale signs of too much alcohol and too little water. 

The raven blinked harshly, the light leaking in from the window feeling as though the sun was right there in his living room. 

He leaned back on the sofa, his black hair feathering the edges of his ears. Rubbing his eyes, he felt tempted to coax himself back to sleep and waste the day away on the sofa. 

But God, he was sweating and smelled disgusting. He needed a shower and some water, ASAP. 

Instinctively, he reached for his phone and unlocked it, his movements still drunken from the night before. 

There were some texts from Farlan as well as a few notifications from the university. Useless words, as usual. 

As he formulated a text to the man from last night, a low battery warning popped up on his phone, making the raven sigh with irritation. He set the phone down and headed towards the kitchen, eager to grab a cold bottle of water. 

He sluggishly made his way to the kitchen, each movement being slowed by the alcohol in his system. He could wait to shower and tend his garden, something he knew would sober him up faster. 

Levi swung open his fridge, the glasses of condiments clinking lightly against one another with the sudden movement. 

As he grabbed a water and popped it open, he reflected on last night’s events. They were definitely a blur, but he remembered being very horny and then being very angry and embarrassed. Levi wasn't ever one to seek out a casual one night stand, but of course, the one night he did . . . 

His doorbell sounded, making Levi groan. 

Who the fuck could it possibly be? Levi thought to himself, chugging the remnants of the cold water. Probably Hanji. That annoying fucking four-eyes. She had a knack for intruding whenever Levi was at his most irritated. 

Levi dragged himself through the hall and down into the living room, where he braced himself for her loud voice and invasive physical presence. 

The knock sounded again, making Levi call out, “Just wait a god damned, second, you cow.” 

The door creaked open and Levi’s stomach flipped on who was standing on the other side. 

It was a small, blond kid. He had golden blond hair going down to his chin and innocent blue eyes. He was dressed rather conservatively, sweater vest and all. On first instinct, Levi thought this kid was a part of some religious schtick, or maybe selling something.

Levi closed the door a bit more. “I’m not interested, thank you.” 

“No!” The kid yelped. “Wait—I’m friends with Eren.” 

“Then I’m definitely not interested. Good day.”  

“Wait,” The stranger insisted, shoving his foot between the door. “I’m Erwin’s student.”

Levi’s eyes narrowed. “And you are?” 

“Armin,” The blond spoke, his voice stern. “And I need to talk to you.” 

Chapter Text

Levi was too comfortable in this situation. He wasn’t sure if it was the hangover or the fact that this wouldn’t have been the first time he’s been confronted by an angry twink. 

God, Nile was a shit head. 

Levi took a sip of water, glaring at the litter of glass on the ground. He still hasn’t bothered to clean it, but might as well wait until this kid Armin is gone. 

Levi didn’t know Armin. He knew of him, but he didn’t know him. Erwin talked his ear off about this guy for weeks and weeks, describing his eyes and hair and even his ears in the most poetic language possible. From what he gathered, Armin was meant to be this young, ambitious genius who has impressed Erwin greatly. They have a lot in common, from their dorky habits to their music taste to their area of study. 

And here he was right in front of Levi. The man, the myth, the legend himself, Armin. 

He thought that their first meeting would perhaps involve Erwin’s presence, but this was okay too. Armin looked pissed, but Levi couldn’t even begin to fathom why. 

It was also a little humorous that this brat was buddy buddy with Eren. This kid looked far too wimpy to be friends with someone so . . . Callous. 

Armin sat on the adjacent sofa, his fists balled in his lap and his body language more unwelcoming than barbed wire. 

“Why didn’t he tell me?” 

Levi cocked a brow. “What are you talking about?” 

“Erwin,” Armin’s voice cracked slightly. His throat bobbed with the mention of the name. “He didn’t tell me you and him were . . .” The blond swallowed thickly, tears gathering at the corners of his big blue eyes. 

Levi sat up, his alarm bells ringing. He felt slightly awkward, as the last thing he wanted was this kid to be crying in his living room. He was lousy with people crying around him. Shit, shit, shit. 

“Hey, kid . . . Are you okay, because—“

“No!” The blond furiously wiped at his tears. “I’m—I’m not okay! He—You—I—“ The blond gasped for air, making Levi look around, hoping for anything to ease the situation before him. 

“Erwin’s been cheating on you!” Armin cried, the words escaping his mouth, burning like fire. He shook slightly with his words, guilt clawing his tortured expression. 

Levi sat forward. “Armin, what—“ 

“I know,” Armin frowned. “I know. I should’ve told you, or maybe he should’ve—I don’t know, but we’ve been seeing each other and—“ 

“Wait, kid—“ 

“And I’ve fallen in love with him. I’m sorry if that’s hard for you to hear but—“ 

“Erwin and I aren’t together!” Levi blurted, waving his arms through the air. “We aren’t dating. Christ, kid.”

The blond blinked at him, stunned. His chest heaved, and Levi stared back, his own pulse racing. 

Maybe it was the hangover, maybe it was Levi’s thought process, but he was thoroughly confused through and through. What was this damn kid talking about? Erwin and Levi . . . ? 

But it slowly started to make sense. Why Armin began ghosting Erwin. Their match seemed to be made in heaven and yet they were torn apart. There was no way for that to happen unless there was some outside force doing this. 

“What . . .” Armin mumbled. “But—But I thought—“ 

“Who told you that?” Levi scowled. “Erwin’s my best friend, but he and I were never—and will never—be romantically involved. Ever. Who told you.” 

“Eren did,” Armin mumbled under his breath. His eyes darted quickly about, no doubt putting the pieces of his own puzzle together in his head. “He told me about Erwin at your house giving him clothes and . . . and that wasn’t as it appeared, was it?” 

Levi landed a self inflicted slap to his head, his chest feeling heavy like lead. Armin must’ve felt the same, as his own voice dropped in a dreaded realization. 

This stupid fucking kid. 

His contempt with the prying brat next door grew stronger. The anger began clouding his thoughts and making his breath heavier. His fists clenched, reading to launch himself at anything right now. 

“Levi?” Armin asked shyly. “Erm—I also wanted to talk about the window, too. I-I’m willing to pay for it. I know it was wrong, and I’m sorry for my dumb friends I just—“ 

Levi laughed. The window. That’s right, the fucking window! Eren had his window shattered and smirked like the little shit he was. He smiled like a dumb ass and he paraded aggression like it was a god damned trophy. What a smug, conniving little brat! 

What business did this asshole have meddling in Levi’s life so heavily? He fucked with his friends and he fucked with his love life! All for what? What did Levi ever do to him? 

Someone needed to teach this kid a lesson. 

Levi stood and marched out his door, causing Armin to stand and chase after him like a lost puppy. Anger guided his every step and quite frankly, Levi didn’t give a damn that he didn’t have any shoes on. 

Armin questioned him aloud on where he was going, but Levi ignored him. He was on a mission and he needed to confront this kid. This kid has gone too far. 

Eren has been a pest since day one. At first, Levi didn’t give it a second thought. He gave up far long ago on trying to make people like him, so what’s so different about some kid, right? 

But no, he was wrong. Eren has made it his personal mission to make Levi’s life a living hell. It’s time for this brat to reap what he’s sowed. 

He marched up to Carla’s door and tried the handle, finding it open, unsurprisingly. He threw the door open and scowled at the sight.

The living room was a mess, littered with a few sleeping bodies and crushed red solo cups. On any other day, the sight might’ve disgusted Levi and made him apprehensive to even step on the carpet, but he was far too angry to care.  

There was a TV playing somewhere and light chatter, an oddly serene setting to the fire burning in Levi’s chest. 

He stormed through the room and headed towards the kitchen, Armin trailing closely behind. Armin’s voice was panicked now, asking Levi what he was doing. He was pleading with Levi now, babbling about some misunderstanding. 

In the kitchen stood Eren. He was in the clothes from last night, although his hair was way messier. He had a trash bag in one hand and was talking to some tall looking asshole with shitty two-toned hair. 

“Hey, asshole!” Levi called, causing Eren to jump and turn. 

Eren scowled. “The hell do you—“

Eren couldn’t finish his sentence, receiving a swift punch to his cheek that sent him straight to the floor. Armin yelped and the tall asshole next to him scrambled out of the way. 

“What the fuck—!” Eren spat, his eyes glaring hot with rage through his brown bangs. 

Before Eren could scramble to his feet, the tall asshole grabbed and held him back. Levi held his stance and stared down the two. 

The raven’s heart thumped in his chest and he felt adrenaline pumping down his veins. It’s been a long time since he’s thrown a punch at someone like this, so the throbbing in his fist felt strange yet exciting.

“You gotta lot of nerve talking the shit you do,” Levi scowled, pointing an accusatory finger. “Next time I hear my name in your mouth, you’d better pray I can hold back from a single punch.” 

Levi left the house, ignoring the shouting and panic behind him. 

-

“You deserved it,” The blond muttered, pressing the ice cold pack against his best friend’s cheek. He winced in return, feeling pain web throughout his skull. 

Eren poked an eye towards his friend, who was pouting small and gave him those unmistakable blue eyes. 

“Gee, thanks, Ar,” Eren muttered, his cheek throbbing gently against the cool touch of ice. 

Eren was sat at the table with Armin, ignoring the pounding headache of his migraine for his cheek that feels like it’s been split open. Being punched in the face wasn’t pleasant. Eren couldn’t remember the last time he was punched like this. 

That shorty had a real fire to him. Eren never would’ve guessed it. He was a little impressed—he’s been waiting for the munchkin to burst and he finally did.

Jean glanced up quickly from the kitchen counter. The man was busy scrubbing old beer stains, erasing all evidence of Eren’s party last night. 

“Gotta say,” Jean sang sarcastically. “It was pretty neat watching you get your shit rocked. The hell did you do to this guy anyway?” 

Eren rolled his eyes. “Called him out on his bullshit, that’s all.” 

“And you lied to me,” Armin pressed the pack more into Eren’s face. Eren’s stomach twisted with guilt. 

“I didn’t lie!” Eren cried defensively. “I—I made assumptions, but is that so wrong?” 

Armin scoffed. “Your avoidance to responsibility is amazing. Thanks to you, Erwin might never talk to me again.” 

Eren was quiet at this. He was familiar to feeling this way; his friends often scolded him for hasty decision making. However, there was a nauseating feeling to this particular incident, as Armin seemed less forgiving than all the other times.

“I’m sorry,” Eren sighed, his chest feeling tight. “I didn’t mean for it to get this far, really. I was just trying to protect you.” 

Armin pursed his lips. “I know you were trying to do a good thing, but you need to back off sometimes. When you do these kinda things, it makes me feel like you don’t trust me to make decisions by myself.” 

Armin stood and tossed the ice pack towards Eren, who caught it with an amazed expression. 

“Wait, where are you going—?” 

Armin grabbed his phone from the table. “I’m going to find Erwin and explain everything.” 

“What about the house?” Eren said, panic capturing his throat. “My mom’s coming back home tonight! I can’t leave the house like this!” 

“Learn to clean your own messes, Eren. I’ll see you later.”

-

“Damn it.” 

Levi stepped back to admire his work. The dark blue tape was covering the open window sloppily, lacing over one another and sticking out like a sore ugly thumb in his neutral colored living room. 

How disgusting. Levi thought bitterly. I’ve spent years cultivating a specific aesthetic for it to be ruined by some horrendous blue tape. 

Although that was all the store offered. The worker apologetically explained they don’t carry a beige duct tape, only gray or blue. Levi reluctantly accepted, unwilling to subject the poor heterosexual man to any more interrogation.

Besides, it was only for a little while. The man fixing his window was coming in next week, so there should be no worries. Right? 

Levi also didn’t make Eren or Armin pay for the window. It just felt wrong, so Levi shouldered the cost himself. 

A gentle knock sounded at his door, making Levi exhale sharply, a little annoyed. He was getting rather exhausted of people interrupting the space that is his home. Judging by the knock, however, it wasn’t Hanji or Erwin. Lord knows those two only know how to enter first and knock later.

He was half worried it was Armin, or maybe Eren—Levi would have a real mess on his hands if the kid came back for revenge. Despite the incident happening two days ago, Levi was still on guard. 

Levi opened the door and his stomach sunk at the sight: Carla and her son were there, Carla looking pissed and her son staring at the ground. With a blossoming bruise on his cheek to boot. 

The older man cleared his tightening throat. “Carla, how nice to see you?” He almost phrased it like a question, unsure if the woman was here to ream his ass for punching her son or not. 

Carla forced a smile. “Levi, It’s lovely to see you as always, but I’m not here for catching up. My son has some apologizing to do, first.” 

She jerked her son forward and his eyes flashed with guilt before meeting Levi’s. The raven winced upon noticing a bruise blossoming where Levi had punched him a few days prior. There was a sinking feeling of guilt the man held for the kid.

“I’m sorry for breaking your window,” Eren took a deep breath. “I—I didn’t mean to.” 

“And?” His mother asked expectantly. 

“And I’m sorry for having a loud party and disturbing your peace,” Eren grumbled. 

And . . . ?” 

Eren rolled his eyes. “And I’m sorry for destroying your carrots. I’m so very sorry and . . . and I hope you accept my apology.” 

Carla’s face relaxed a fraction. “And to show how sorry we are, Eren volunteered to help with your garden for the rest of the summer! I know you were telling me about your pond and I thought Eren would be perfect to lend a helping hand.” 

Eren smiled, his eyes narrowing. “Yep,” He grit through his teeth. “You’re stuck with me all summer.” 

Levi’s eyes darted between the two. So it seems as though Carla doesn’t know about Levi assaulting her son a few days ago, which he found immense relief in. 

He almost felt bad for the little shit. It seems as though Carla found out about the party somehow and tore Eren a new one. The older man wanted to chuckle at the memory of his uncle doing the same to him back when he was a trouble maker. 

Should he subject Eren to the same thing, though? The kid had the half-decency to apologize face to face, albeit the presence of his mom. While his words said sorry, he was a little spiteful about it. 

Fuck it. This kid has raised some hell for Levi ever since he befriended his mom. Levi could use a little help around here anyway. 

“Sounds great,” Levi accepted the offer. “Eren could start tomorrow.”

Carla’s face brightened. “Oh, good! Eren, that sound fun?” 

“Yep.” 

“Good!” Carla grinned. “Alright, we’ll be here tomorrow. 8 sound okay?” 

That was far too late for Levi’s liking, but he couldn’t torture the brat too much. 

“Yes, thank you.” 

“See you tomorrow,” Eren drawled. “Mr. Ackerman.” 

Chapter Text

Eren arrived the next morning with little dramatics.

He entered Levi’s house with darkened, teal eyes and a half empty energy drink in his hand. He wore a tattered shirt and some jeans, a skeptical choice for yard work but clothes nonetheless.

“Good morning,” Levi stepped aside to let the brunet through. “You look like shit.” He felt guilt for the bruise that was now a deep purple. Punching his friend’s son was probably not the adult thing to do, but the kid was a little shit. 

“I’ve never been awake this early,” Eren admitted, digging a fist into his tired eyes. “So what should I do first, master?”

“Follow me.”

Levi opened his shed and showed the brat his collection of yard tools, carefully instructing him on each one. Eren kept up with his annoying yawning, but Levi let him pass on that one. 

Together, they crouched in the hot sun and began pulling out weeds near Levi’s porch. He didn’t get to finish that day Hanji and Erwin found Eren in the yard. The kid had a way of making everything about himself and leaving with a distasteful exit, which soiled Levi’s entire day.

Truth be told, he was avoiding his yard lately. He’s been mulling over the guilt of socking Eren in the face and ignoring Farlan’s texts. It was very uncharacteristic of him to neglect his yard and plants, but life has been rather tumultuous ever since Eren moved in next door. 

Eren and Levi spoke little during the weed pulling. The air between them wasn’t awkward or anything, but there was no need to speak during such a labored activity. Levi was surprised that Eren didn’t lay on the relentless insults, but he couldn’t complain.

“Let me know whenever you’re hungry,” Levi broke the silence within the first hour. “I don’t want you passing out and destroying something else, like my tomatoes.”

Eren snorted. “Yeah, I’ll do that.” Levi grimaced. Seems as though the brat didn’t appreciate Levi’s wry sense of humor. 

Tough crowd. 

Silence fell again, making Levi a bit more anxious. Though he assured himself he didn’t care about Eren or what he thought of Levi, it was still uncomfortable to have someone so agitated with his mere presence. 

Levi sighed and went back to work. 

They worked in the sun for an undisclosed amount of time, with Levi quickly losing steam. He glanced over at Eren, who stoically kept at it like a machine. 

The younger man’s arms flexed in the sunlight, a glimmer of sweat over taut looking skin. Pinkish lips rolled into white teeth as blue-green eyes squinted in the sun. Eren was attractive and there was no doubt about that. He looked like a model, with a symmetrical face and a stern looking jaw. He had Carla’s soft features while clearly inheriting other similarities from his father. 

Levi thought it was a damn shame that someone so attractive could be so malicious for no reason. 

“You’re more than welcome to take a break,” Levi spoke, causing Eren to lift his head slightly before returning to work. “It’s hot as balls out here.”

“I’m good,” Eren answered. “The faster I’m done with the weeds the faster I can go home.”

Levi frowned. So the kid was a little upset with Levi. Well, getting punched to the ground would make anyone upset. Especially in front of all his friends like that. 

Speaking of which . . .

“So you didn’t tell your mom, huh?” Levi asked, noticing the hesitance in the younger’s body.

“No,” Eren sighed, tucking his lips away. Levi was a little surprised to know exactly what he was referring to. “I don’t need her knowing. And plus I . . .”

Eren squeezed his eyes shut before opening them and making direct eye contact with Levi. “I think I deserved it. I’ve been a little crazy these past few weeks, and . . . Yeah.”

Levi raised a brow skeptically. The kid was no word scholar, but his body language was apprehensive and almost . . . submissive. Well, regardless of the eloquence of Eren, he said sorry in his own, weird way.

His first instinct was to be extremely skeptical. Eren appeared to be genuine, but he really didn’t think it was characteristic of the neighbor to apologize and own up to his behavior in the timespan of a week or so. Levi relented, though. Eren was full of surprises.

“I’m sorry too,” Levi spoke, his voice struggling. “I’m not good with apologies either, so erm—“

“So let’s forget it,” Eren said, his words rushing out like he’s been waiting on them. “Let’s just forget anything happened. I’ll help you with your dumb yard and then we’ll be good.”

It sounded like Eren was trying to convince himself more than Levi, but the older decided not to remark on it. Maybe the kid was more tortured with guilt than Levi expected.

Maybe Eren was spiteful, maybe he had a bad temper, but Levi was forgetting how human he was. Eren was feeling guilt through and through, and whether he knew it himself or not, Levi decided to extend a hand of kindness to him.

“You hungry?”

“No. Are we almost done?”

Levi held back an eye-roll. So it seems that making amends with Eren was going to take longer than expected. 

-

The next time Eren made his presence known was the next day. 

He was late, but Levi didn’t really care for that. All Levi had planned was finishing the weeds and planting some shrubbery around the edge of his house. Of course, he didn’t expect to get that all done today, but it was a start. 

“Want some tea?” Levi offered as the taller man slugged through the house like a zombie. “Coffee? Anything?”

Eren stifled a yawn. “No, I’m good, thanks.”

“Have it your way,” Levi mumbled under his breath. A knot of concern formulated at his gut when he remembered how sleepless the brat looked getting the newspaper the other day. He wondered if everything was alright at home. 

Of course, Carla already vented to Levi about Eren’s father, and how the two’s relationship basically disintegrated ever since the divorce. That could be tough on anyone. Levi could relate somewhat to Eren, as he had a dog shit relationship with his own two parents. 

She also mentioned the fact that Eren seemed to be taking the separation with great difficulty, though he wouldn’t admit it. It didn’t surprise Levi in the slightest that Eren would be the type to put on a brave face, after all. 

They got to work shortly after, Eren pulling out weeds like a machine. Levi helped, of course, but eventually he got pretty burned out pretty quickly. 

“I’m going to get takeout,” Levi announced to Eren, who had finally taken a break. The brunet was chugging on his water bottle that he brought. “Want anything?”

The neighbor didn’t answer. 

Levi stared at Eren’s back, unsure of what to say next. He was used to moody 20-somethings, but not like this. 

He’ll figure it out soon enough. 

-

The sounds that bothered Levi throughout the night were sounds that the older man cared not for. After all, he had neighbors and neighbors made noise. That much was obvious. Levi was never a light sleeper anyway, and he typically only got a few hours of sleep a night if he was lucky.

Tonight was an exceptional night, though, as Levi was dozing soundly.

Until he heard a loud thud and some giggling that woke Levi up, snapping his eyes open straight from his state of slumber. 

“Oh, for crying out loud,” A groggy voice escaped from a pale throat. 

Annoyed, the raven got up from bed and headed straight to the right side of his house, where he could peer into the yard and look for the source of the sound. Feet padded against cool, wooden floors and Levi stormed and made his way to the end of the hallway where a solitary looking window stood. 

He grabbed the glass with the ends of his fingertips and shoved the rusty window upwards, as to get a better view of the events going on. 

Levi shoved his head out into the open air, angry, sleep-deprived eyes that looked for the source of the racket. At first, he heard nothing but the sound of crickets and the gentle whirring of the wind around him.

There

Out of Eren’s bedroom window was a girl, sloppily dressed in scantily looking clothing. Her hair was matted at the back and she was barefoot, clutching her tennis shoes in one hand with a purse in the other. It didn’t take a genius to put two and two together. Levi’s nose wrinkled.

He looked up and locked eyes with a panicked looking Eren, who was leaning outside of his own bedroom window, his hair looking equally as ruffled as the girl’s.

Levi’s face wrinkled. He knew that everyone had their needs from time to time, but really, how undignified and juvenile of Eren to make Levi an unwilling witness to their immature escapades.

You’re nasty, Eren!” Levi harshly whispered, confident the college aged student could hear every word. Not that their houses were that far apart, as evident by Levi’s disturbance at Eren’s lewd activities.

“Please don’t tell my mom,” Eren pleaded, his urgent tone making Levi do a double take. “She’ll kill me if she found out, please!”

Levi never even thought of that. Truth be told, he was just gonna call Eren gross and head back to sleep. The thought of blackmail never even crossed his head until . . .

The raven scoffed. “Yeah? And what’s in it for me?”

“Anything. Please.”

“Okay.”

Levi had a stare down with Eren, his tired brain working at half capacity. He tried to think of something funny, or clever but alas.

“ . . .”

“Any day, Levi.”

Shut up! Fine—that’s it! You have to be nice to me for the rest of the summer, okay?”

Eren’s face turned in confusion. “What?

“I’m tired of dealing with your bullshit angst,” Levi elaborated. “You’ve been an asshole to me and I’m sick of it. You have to be nice to me and if you’re even the slightest bit yourself, I’m telling your mom.”

Levi wasn’t proud of his response. He was sure his psychology nut of a friend, Hanji, might get a little skeptical at Levi’s approach, but to hell with that! Levi wanted results, and those results included Eren not being a ball of hatred every time he saw Levi. If blackmail was the first step, then Levi would gladly jump on it. 

“Deal,” The shirtless idiot scoffed back. “Night.”

“Night.”

-

Levi didn’t account for how awkward the next day would go.

Truth be told, he expected Eren to completely bail and make up some bullshit excuse to his mom. That would’ve been fine, even by Levi, as he wasn’t in the mood to make eye contact with Eren after knowing what he knew. 

Levi woke up early that day and paced his house, absentmindedly looking for things to do. He wouldn’t admit it to himself, but the thought of Eren doing those things bothered him on a deeper level. It sent a low, burning sensation to the core of his body and he couldn’t quite explain it.

The raven chalked it up to simply being disgusted by straight people. Yeah, that was probably it. Gross.

Eren showed up a handful of minutes later, dressed in a t-shirt and athletic looking pants. He made awkward eye contact with Levi before turning away and heading straight to the backyard. 

The short man stood there, unsure of what to do next. 

“This is idiotic,” Levi grumbled under his breath, following his instincts. 

Levi met with the younger man outside, where he was already kneeling at the corner of his yard where some baby weeds were sprouting. Eren’s body language screamed at the older man to keep away but alas, Levi was too straightforward for any of this mess.

“You don’t have to be weird because I caught you and your girlfriend, you know.”

“She’s not my girlfriend.” Eren didn’t look up.

This conversation was going horrendously south.

Levi shifted his weight to the other foot, unsure of what to say next. He only thought of how miserable this exchange felt. It was probably less awkward when Levi punched him in the face.

“You know,” Levi crossed his arms. “For someone who just had sex, you seem pretty tense.”

Eren turned to glare, making Levi step back instinctively.

“You’re so weird, Levi,” Eren mumbled turning back to his very delicate looking weed pulling.

Levi frowned. Ouch.

He knew there kid had spit to him, but there was something particularly hurtful about being called weird by someone younger than you. 

“You want me to get food?” 

“No, I’m good.” 

His reply was short and simple. It was an echo of the response reiterated Levi many times before when the same exact offer was made. It sounded rehearsed at this point, but it was getting less venomous each time.

“I’m getting Italian,” Levi decided, turning and reaching into the phone in his pocket.

-

As it turned out, Eren was a sucker for spaghetti.

When Levi returned with the food, he was surprised to see Eren still working and nearly done with the weeds. The bucket next to him was filled with writhing and bruised plants and the yard was looking immaculate. Eren’s work pace had slowed a little, but he was still working till the very end.

“I brought you a plate of spaghetti with some bread,” Levi spoke, making himself comfortable on the porch steps. “Extra meatballs. You don’t have to eat it, but it’s here for you.”

Eren ignored him, of course.

Levi narrowed his eyes. Miffed that the kid was so stubborn, he wasn’t sure what to do next. Levi decided to open his own container and begin eating, which is all he could think to do. As soon as he popped the lid and the smell of garlic and red meat sauce hit the air, 

“Shit.” The kid muttered, his stomach growling. 

“I brought another fork and knife.” Levi answered a silent question, patting the space next to him.

And that’s how Eren was unashamedly devouring the dish right in front of Levi. The kid was eating like he’d never seen food in his life, making Levi more interested in watching than eating.

Eren moaned lightly, taking a break to pat his mouth clean and take a sip of water.

“Sorry,” Eren breathed. He leaned back and rested on his perched elbows, leaving his body open and legs stretched. His shirt rode up a bit, making Levi’s throat dry.

“I love spaghetti.”

“I could tell,” Levi joked, stabbing a fork into his ravioli.

Eren fell back onto the porch, his chocolate brown hair cascading down into piles alongside his head.

The kid looked peaceful like that, only breathing and taking in the air. His side profile allowed for Levi to admire him from a new angle, appreciating Eren’s strong jaw and nose.

“I’m exhausted,” Eren muttered, his eyes closing. “Your backyard is really nice, though.”

Levi shrugged. On the outside, the older man looked aloof and indifferent to Eren’s compliments, but on the inside, he was praising himself for getting to the point where he and Eren can exchange non-hostile conversation. 

“Levi?”

“Yes?”

“I’m gonna head out, now,” Eren urged, holding his half empty takeout box. His voice was pressing, almost as if he was in a hurry. Levi thought something may have been wrong if he didn’t know any better.

Levi blinked. “Sure. Same time next week, right?”

“Yeah, of course. Bye, Levi. Thanks for the food.” 

The raven held back a smile at the small, half-baked show of gratitude. 

They were finally getting somewhere. 

-

Eren settled into bed that night, harmoniously going through his nightly routine of washing his face and easing into his bed. His mom was still out late, which was fine by Eren. Having an empty house to himself was optimal after the hard week he’s been having. 

His body screamed in relief for being settled into bed that night. Despite the aches of his body and the awkward cadence between Eren and his neighbor, he was content. 

Truth be told, Eren enjoyed spending time with Mr. Ackerman today—the later half, at least. Eren was kind of a sucker for people who bought him food.

On the bright side, having to do yard work with him meant that Eren wouldn’t totally be bored this summer, and Mr. Ackerman wasn’t as unbearable as Eren led himself to believe. 

His picked up his phone for the first time that day, going through various notifications and reading through some news articles of the current events.

At the bottom of his notifications, he noticed a small text message nested at the bottom. It was from an unfamiliar number, but the text seemed familiar.

He opened the message curiously.

[Unknown]
Its Levi. Got ur # from ur mom. Thanks for the help today.

Eren read over the small, bolded words again and again. He couldn’t help but smile a bit, as this was a gesture totally unexpected yet endearing. It was short and it didn’t really scream appreciative, but it was enough.

Eren began typing out a message, pondering his words and mulling over them. He erased and typed a few times before settling on a simple message.

[Eren]
No problem

He was about to leave it at that. He wanted to put his phone under his pillow and feel it burning underneath. But there was no way he could leave it at that, right? It seemed to be lacking.

Eren picked up his phone again.

[Eren]
whats for dinner next week?

Levi responded almost immediately, making Eren feel a little hesitant and maybe a little excited at this notion.

[Levi]
i’ll make something. 

Eren read over the words again and again. He smiled a bit before replying.

[Eren]
dope

Chapter Text

Eren sighed and gazed out the window, watching the small town fly past them. He still wasn’t used to the scenery of this small, college town. It was nothing like the city he lived in back when his parents were married, that’s for sure.

It was the week after, and as promised, Eren arrived at Levi’s house first thing in the morning. Levi greeted him, offering a cup of coffee or tea, to which Eren declined. Eren secretly hoped Levi would express some disappointment at Eren’s declination, to which there was none.

Eren sighed and chalked it up to Levi’s naturally aloof nature.

The two immediately went away to the store in order to grab some supplies, Eren following suit into Levi’s clean car. Eren was amazed at how clean the car was, like it was almost brand new.

Although, the car ran less than smoothly. Judging from Eren’s expertise, there might have been something wrong internally, perhaps with the engine . . . ? Whatever it was, the brunet hoped the car wouldn’t break down until after they were done with the errand.

The car also blasted hot air, which didn’t help in the current climate. Eren was a little curious about why Levi’s car was in less than a pristine condition, considering how anal the man was about everything else.

The weather was sizzling, baking their small town underneath an unforgiving sun. The air also felt humid, clinging to Eren like a second skin. It was almost unbearable, and he nearly regretted making this yard work arrangement with Levi in the first place.

The younger rubbed his forehead with the back of his arm, glancing over to the driver of the vehicle. Mr. Ackerman sat there with his hands on the wheel, humming and seemingly unaffected.

“Your car sucks,” Eren complained loudly, jamming his fingers on the button besides him to roll the window down.

“Yeah, well—I’m no magician with cars and money is tight right now. What can ya do?” Levi didn’t make eye contact.

Eren stared at him. “You don’t know anything about cars?”

“Eren, I’m gay.”

“You’re an adult,” Eren tsked as Levi pulled out of the parking space. “Gay people can fix cars.”

Levi rolled his eyes. “Yeah, well, that’s what I had a husband for.” His sentence trailed off at the end, his gaze hardening to focus on traffic.

Eren grew quiet at the mention of Levi’s ex-husband.

Levi wasn’t mentioned his ex in heavy detail, really. Only in passing. He mentioned how his ex was a massive asshole and Levi was better off alone than another second with him. But the most memorable moment was when Eren threw his divorce in his face, only to be showered by cold water moments later. 

He’s been mulling over on how to apologize for weeks now.

Eren sighed.

”When’s the last time you changed your oil?” 

“I don’t know, Mom, last time I went to the car shop.” 

“You don’t have to be a dick, I’m just asking.” 

Levi didn’t answer. 

“If you want,” Eren added quickly. “I could change your oil for you. Y’know, to uh—to show that we’re homies now?” 

Taking a look at his car was a good enough apology, right? Maybe even buying him a part or two?

”And you know about cars?” Levi stated, unimpressed. 

“I’m no pro, but I used to work at my dad’s shop.”

Levi snorted. “We’ll see.”

In Levi language, that probably meant ‘thank you’. Eren tried to hide his smile by scoffing.

A silence passed between them. He drummed nervous fingers on his jeans, his heart racing a bit. He needed to keep the conversation going and quick.

“I don’t know how you can stand this heat, though,” Eren remarked, pushing a bang out of his face. “It’s hot as fuck.”

“Meh, doesn’t bother me too much.”

“You must be cold-blooded.” Eren joked dryly, leaning against his seat and squinting outside. He recognized the shopping plaza they were approaching, as he came here a week ago with his mom to go shopping.

“I get that a lot. Anyway, we’re here. Remind me to get mulch. The lady said they had it and if they don’t, I’m going to throw something.”

“You got it.”

Levi got out of the car and hurried ahead, not affording to waste any time waiting for Eren who followed quickly.

Once inside the store, Eren drew a deep breath of relief at the cold air that blasted from the ceilings. He trailed behind Levi who grabbed a cart and began to sanitize it thoroughly.

“I didn’t know you were such a germaphobe,” Eren remarked, shoving his hands into his pockets. He was slightly amused at the sight of a short man scrubbing a metal cart so furiously.

“People can be disgusting,” Levi replied, tossing the used wipes in a trash can nearby. “Let’s go.”

-

There was a lot to building a pond that Eren didn’t know about, apparently.

After spending less than five minutes in the auto section, where Eren was quick to decide which oil and filter Levi’s car needed, they headed straight to the gardening section.

It wasn’t long after until a store clerk arrived to bother them with questions about the project. Levi didn’t notice, but his tense body language relaxed a fraction as he realized he had someone to help them.

The store clerk was an older blond woman, with hair so platinum it almost reminded him of Historia. He felt guilt all over again as the weight of her unread messages haunted his phone.

The store clerk and Levi engaged in conversation, Eren tuning himself out to study the small details of a decorative garden frog on the other side of the aisle. He hung around behind Levi, possibly too close, as the store clerk would note.

Levi didn’t bother engaging Eren in this conversation, perhaps predicting that the college student would provide nothing insightful to say. But Eren paid more attention than Levi knew, as Eren deduced a few small but important factoids about the process of pond building.

“This sounds like a big project you guys are taking on!” The store clerk laughed lightly. “But it’s always fun, not a lot of couples are willing to take on such a big DIY project.”

Eren perked up and looked to Levi for a reaction.

Did she—?

“We’re not—“ Levi started, his voice tight. “Ugh, you know what, where’s the mulch. I read online that we need mulch. Do you have mulch?” Eren blinked incredulously at the older man, who brushed off her assumption about them without a second thought.

“Oh, sure! Follow me!”

Eren was silent throughout this entire interaction, a move which Levi gave a slightly concerned glance over. But inside, Eren was steaming. His insides felt hot and head spun slightly with embarrassment. At first, he wanted to blame Levi for not correcting her. Why didn’t he?

Whether it was conscious or not, Eren distanced himself from Levi in the store, trailing behind like a lost child. He didn’t realize how close he was to Levi before—when did he get so close?! Was that what set the store clerk off?

Eren tugged at the bottom of his shirt. Was it the way he dressed? Sure, his shirt was a little tight but that shouldn’t make someone look gay or not, right? Straight men could wear tight shirts if they wanted. Who cares!

Turquoise eyes burned into the back of Levi’s head. Levi dressed stylishly, yet masculine looking—like he was some sort of model in a magazine or something. He certainly didn’t dress gay, but there were subtle gazes and movements that might possibly indicate that Levi was gay. Did Eren do these mannerisms? Did he speak like Levi? Did he move like him, too?

What even made someone gay? Was it—

“Oof!” Eren let out involuntarily as he realized he collided with something. No, something was shoved into his stomach.

“Load this into my car, muscles,” Levi ordered, glancing quickly down at the bag of mulch bestowed into tan arms.

Eren blinked quickly, the musty scent of the mulch in his arms bringing him back. He realized they were outside again, and most likely checked out and paid for everything. Eren must’ve been really spaced out to ignore that entire process.

Heaving a sigh, the brunet loaded the back of Levi’s car while the older man occupied himself on his phone. Eren couldn’t help but feel a twinge at annoyance, being made like a servant to a man he barely tolerated.

“Stop glaring at me,” Levi snapped, shoving his trunk closed and grabbing at the cart viciously. “That’s not a cute look for you.”

Eren admittedly, was taken aback by Levi’s shortness with him. Ever since that store clerk made the mistake of grouping Eren and Levi as a couple, the raven seemed annoyed. The idea of pestering Levi with his thoughts on the interaction crossed Eren’s mind, but he decided to leave it.

He watched Levi haul the cart away and shove it aggressively into the corral, gritting his teeth at the giant hunk of plastic before him.

“Let’s go,” Levi mumbled.

-

Eren felt the pressure.

Levi didn’t speak much when they arrived back at his house, only responding to Eren whenever prompted. Eren wasn’t up for conversation either, as his brain still felt fried from being mistaken for gay earlier.

So when Eren squeakily volunteered to open the hood of Levi’s car to take a look, it only seemed to make things worse.

They were there on Levi’s driveway, the hood of Levi’s car propped up and the sun blazing around them. Eren was sweating through his shirt, to which Levi complained about very minimally.

Eren examined the contents of the car carefully, his eyes recognizing various parts of the engine and the battery. Levi’s car seemed older, but he had to know—

“How old is the car?” Eren asked, peeking an eye towards Levi, who leaned forward curiously. Eren braced himself for a snippy answer.

“Dunno,” Levi answered honestly. “Maybe fifteen years? Is that bad?”

Eren whistled low. “That’s old. But as long as you keep regular maintenance it should be okay. When’s the last time you checked the oil?”

“I don’t. I take it to a shop whenever there’s something funky going on.”

The brunet frowned. “That’s more expensive. You should at least know the basics.”

Levi scoffed defensively. “Well—I’m not used to these things. I just pay someone else to do this shit for me.”

“Well now I’m teaching you,” Eren said pointedly. “Hm . . . I’m gonna check your timing belt. Those things are tricky, though.”

Levi disregarded that. “So you work at your dad’s shop, huh?”

“I used to,” Eren replied, reaching for a pair of gardening gloves that Levi brought out. “Whenever I felt like making money. He’s owned his own shop since I was a kid, so he’s taught me everything I know.”

The older man hummed. “The perfect, hetero childhood.”

Eren laughed. “Sure.”

He squinted into the depths of Levi’s car, the dark metal twisting and giving off the smell of heat and oil. His eyes scanned over the insides of Levi’s car, hoping to find something to talk about before Levi said anything else about his father. 

“Looks like your timing belt is cracked. That’s easy to replace, so no problem. I could also take a look at your AC, which should also be an easy fix. I don’t see anything else wrong with the car, so count your lucky stars.”

Levi waved a dismissive hand. “Yeah, yeah. Will this be expensive?”

Eren’s lips tightened. “Maybe, it depends—but I can get it covered for you.”

Levi’s brows raised. “No shit? That’s very generous of you, kid. And what’s the catch?”

Eren snorted. “There’s no catch, Levi. I still owe you. You know, from destroying your carrots, destroying your window—“

“Accusing my friend and I of fucking each other,” Levi added, his tone dropping. “Kicking cookies onto my porch, throwing my divorce in my face—“

“I know,” Eren sighed. “I . . .”

Levi stared expectantly.

“Just let me fix your car,” Eren finished. “And dig you a pond.”

A twitch of a smile appeared at Levi’s lips. “Fine. I guess we’d be even then, right?”

Eren felt a weight rise off his shoulders. “Right.”

“And hey, I was gonna make salmon for dinner tonight, that cool?”

Eren gulped as he remembered that he had dinner plans with Levi tonight. He didn’t think the older man would go through with it after that awkward encounter at the store, yet here he was. This little man was packed full of surprises.

There was no way Eren was going to have a one on one dinner tonight! Not with just him and Levi! Not after being mistaken for a couple at the store! Eren needed to distance himself as much as possible! He needed to reinstate his sexuality, or whatever. 

“Well . . .” Eren hummed, his mind drawing a blank. “Uh—I think Armin had plans I think—“

“Oh,” Levi spoke, his tone causing Eren to chuckle nervously. “I see. Well, no problem. I can—“

“Well I—“

“Sorry,” Levi cleared his throat, blinking rapidly as their sentences collided. “Uh—thanks, kid. Same time next week? Car, pond—?”

“Car,” Eren nodded, unsure why his tongue went dry at the mention of the word, ‘kid’. “I’ll—I’ll be back with the parts and everything. And uh . . . Pond, mulch stuff. Cool?”

Levi nodded. “Cool. Thanks. Bike safe.”

“You too!” Eren cringed. “Or—not, since . . . You have a car. And I have a bike.”

The older man nodded slowly. “Yeah. I’ll see you around, kid.”

“Yep!” Eren gritted his teeth. “B-Bye, Levi.”

Eren scrambled for his bike that he had leaned against Levi’s mailbox from earlier. His stomach burned all the way to his ears and his throat felt tight. He needed to get out of here and fast.

Levi sent him off with a wave, Eren returning it eagerly.

The brunet peddled his bike down the street, the summer air burning his cheeks more than the embarrassment of that conversation.

Wait.

Eren slowed down.

I live at my mom’s house just next door. Where the fuck am I pedaling too?! Eren groaned to himself, peddling home faster. I’m such a fucking idiot. 

Chapter Text

“So what’s your dad like?”

Eren laughed at the question, running a hand through his dark brown hair. Levi never failed to catch the brunet off guard with his flippant and candid speech.

After being alone around Levi on a semi-regular basis, Eren deduced that the older man was totally harmless, albeit a bit dorky and stand-offish. The man was stoic and any attempt at conversation would fizzle out awkwardly. Their age difference, as Eren deduced, might have been around fifteen or so years. And it was very obvious when it came to cultural references or even music tastes.

Levi was clearly frustrated with this as well, making a subtle remarks about how Eren’s mother was a better conversationalist than her son. 

They’ve gotten better at it.

Right now, the duo were headed to a car shop in town to buy some spare parts for Levi’s car. Eren was planning on giving him a full oil change along with that pesky timing belt and AC fan.

“My dad . . . ?” Eren pondered aloud, drumming his fingers in his lap. “He’s okay, I guess. He has his issues like everyone else.” Eren sighed and rolled the window down to Levi’s car, relishing in the feeling of the wind in his hair.

Levi snorted, sneaking a glance at the younger man. “That’s a very charitable take. Your mom tells a different story, as you could imagine.”

I wonder how much she’s told him. Eren thought to himself, slightly embarrassed.

“I don’t blame her,” Eren muttered. “Their marriage was . . . bad. But it was always bad, y’know? Ever since I was a kid.” He wanted to keep this information about his dad relatively simple, as the only people he ever discussed about his father were his therapist, his mother and Armin. Eren had a feeling that Mr. Ackerman wouldn’t be too easy to shake off, however.

“Don’t I,” Levi hummed sarcastically. “I’m just glad Nile and I didn’t have any kids to fuck up in the process.”

Nile. Eren’s lips tightened. From what he’s heard from his mother and a few slips of information from Levi, Nile was Levi’s ex-husband. While they divorced two years ago, Levi was still as bitter as always. From what, Eren didn’t know yet. He didn’t dare pry. The only thing he knew about Levi’s past marriage was the name and meaningless interactions. 

Eren raked his fingers over his jeans, wanting something enlightening or reassuring to say to Levi. Eren’s been through breakups before, but nothing as complex and draining as a whole divorce. That was an ugly beast on an entirely different league.

“Uh . . .” Eren stuttered out intelligently. “I—yeah, that sucks.”

Levi let out a long exhale through his nose. “Yep. It does.”

Eren opened his mouth to say something further, maybe along the lines of, ‘I think you’re great! Fuck Nile. He’s a prick.’ or something like that, but the car stopped.

“This is it, right?” Levi frowned, pulling his car into an auto parts shop.

This was a chain store, and Eren knew wouldn’t usually dare step in one, as was betrayal to his father. But they weren’t exactly on speaking terms, and Eren was willing to shill out some money just to avoid groveling back to that man.

“Let’s get this over with,” Levi muttered as he stepped out of the car.

Eren silently agreed, following the shorter man closely.

-

“The energy in here is overwhelming.”

“Yeah, the smell of oil can be—“

“No, not that,” Levi mumbled under his breath, stepping closer to Eren. “It’s not exactly my scene, Eren. I stand out like a sore thumb. A very gay, sore thumb.”

Eren rolled his eyes. “You’re being dramatic. Let’s just get your parts and leave.”

Personally, he didn’t think Levi stood out at all. Levi looked like a fairly masculine person with a sense of crisp and polished sense of fashion. There was nothing wrong with that, of course. Eren wasn’t quite sure what made a gay person look gay, anyway. All his gay friends looked different from one another. 

“That sounds like a solo job to me. I’m gonna look around, if you don’t mind?”

“Fine.”

The two parted ways. Eren found himself browsing the store a bit, pondering and reflecting on the various parts Levi needed for his upkeep. He wondered about Levi and glanced around the store for him. He had not the slightest idea on what Levi could be searching for, but that wasn’t his business.

Up and down the aisles Eren walked, looking at various car parts. As he read off the names, tidbits of information rattled in his brain. 

He grabbed a few items and headed to the front, planning on cashing out and waiting by the car for Levi, who was still nowhere to be seen.

Until he was spotted in the front near the register, flipping through some magazines with a furrowed look in his expression.

“Levi? What the hell are you reading?”

“Eren, I have to ask—why do straight men love sweaty women so much? Eren, look at this.” The raven attempted to tilt the magazine in Eren’s eye line, to which the college student leaned his head away in response.

“Levi, not here—“

“Why not? The magazine was already here, Eren. I’m just reading it. Now look—“

“Jesus Christ, Levi—“

“We’re buying it.”

-

“I can’t believe you’re making me do yard work today,” Eren huffed as he dug the shovel into the rich, brown dirt. “After I just got you some new car parts, too.”

“You’re the one who said we needed to wait for the engine to cool off,” Levi replied without lifting his gaze. He sat in the cool shade of the giant tree in the corner of his yard, sipping his tea and reading his magazine.

“Can’t believe you’re reading that garbage,” Eren scoffed, leaning on his shovel and digging the metal into his chin. “That shit’s gross.”

“It’s what you like,” Levi accused, reading a fascinating article on some new Italian car model. Not complete without a scantily clad woman on the hood of it, of course.

“I don’t,” Eren continued, resuming his digging once more. “It’s not my thing.”

“So, what is your thing, Eren?”

“Not that.”

“That girl crawling out of your window that night would beg to differ.”

Eren rolled his eyes. “How much longer are you planning on teasing me about that?”

“Haven’t decided yet.” He reached for his iced tea to take another sip. “Was she one of those girls from that horrible party you threw at your house?”

Eren looked uncomfortable. “I—She was—She was just someone who was a friend of a friend who was interested in me and we hung out. That’s all.”

“Do you like her?”

“It’s not that complicated, Levi. She’s cute, but I was just feeling lonely. You don’t ever feel lonely?”

Levi shrugged. “Rarely. I don’t like having people over at my place often. People are dirty and annoying to deal with, which is why it made me extra mad you inadvertently shooed away one of my suitors with that shitty party you threw.”

Eren gave him a look. “I don’t think I believe you.”

“What, that I had someone over?”

“No,” Blue-green eyes rolled. “I don’t believe that you ‘rarely’ get lonely. People always get lonely, Levi. You’re still human, y’know. Allow yourself to feel human wants.”

Levi’s eyes narrowed. “Shockingly philosophical of you, Eren. Now keep digging.”

-

Eren found comfort in being situated under the 3,000 pound hunk of metal above him. 

After deducing that the engine’s cooled down enough, Eren grabbed his tools and got to work on Levi’s car. He began by jacking it up and rolling beneath the vehicle in order to change the oil. Changing the oil was a relatively easy and inexpensive task that any able human could complete on their own.

As Eren went through the meticulous task of emptying the oil tank and screwing in the filters and various other parts, he thought carefully about Levi, who was sitting indoors reading that stupid magazine.

Mr. Ackerman was a man who spoke harshly, in sharp words that made you feel like he pierced your boundaries and exposed your deepest intentions. This probably wasn’t on purpose on the part of the older man, but it felt the same anyway.

Levi was a fun person to be around. He wasn’t a party animal or a particular entertaining kind of man, but he was insightful, he was clever, well-read and easy on the eyes. His sense of humor made sense to Eren, who was often misunderstood by others all the time.

Tanned arms strained as they finished tightening the oil cap back onto the bottom of Levi’s vehicle. Sweat coated Eren like a second layer of skin, and he was cursing himself for not deciding to finish this task in the evening, when it would be much cooler.

Eren leveraged the bottom of the car and pushed away from it, the trolley-like device rolling him out onto the driveway with ease.

The bright sunlight invaded Eren’s visions and he instinctively raised a forearm to shield the bright light from his eyes.

Eren blinked. “Levi? How long have you been sitting there?”

The older man was sitting on a lawn chair he pulled out, sipping on a glass of ice tea, immersed in that cursed magazine. Eren found it funny that the older man looked much like a king on a throne, except the throne was a cheap lawn chair and his crown nonexistent. 

“I guess you could say I got lonely in the backyard,” Levi joked. “Want some?”

A pale hand stretched out the glass of tea towards the college student. Eren dismissed the fleeting thought of the self-professed clean freak willing to share a drink with him in favor of quenching his thirst. He craned his head up and took a long sip from the glass, eyes fluttering to meet Levi’s face.

“Thanks,” Eren nodded, handing the half-full glass back to Levi.

“Don’t mention it.”

-

Eren crawled into bed that night, his hair being freshly washed and his skin feeling soft from the body scrub Armin got for him.

After a few minutes of tossing and turning, he was too restless and decided to check his phone.

A message from Levi was waiting for him. It was sent over an hour ago, but it still made Eren’s heart race.

[Levi]

Attached was a picture of a bikini model pressing her boobs against the hood of a car. She was turned to look at the camera, winking with her ass high in the air. She was also platinum blonde.

Eren snorted but sent back a response anyway.

[Eren]
thanks but no thanks 

Levi was quick to reply, making Eren suck in a hesitant breath.

[Levi]
but she’s blonde. don’t you like blondes? 

Eren scanned the little words on his screen, curious on how to respond. Levi was acting weird. This isn’t how he usually spoke. He wasn’t ever so nosy about Eren’s life before.

[Eren]
not really lmao 

[Levi]
we’ll find a girl for you yet 

Levi’s response made him snort. His mind wandered, and for a second, he couldn’t believe how long it’s been since he’s been romantically involved with someone.

He had a girlfriend in high school, but that was a really long time ago.

And maybe a few months ago he had this girl who he was casual with for quite some time. He forgot her name.

The brunet swiped out of the conversation and opened Tinder for the first time in months, eyeing the flashing little flame icon warily.

He remembered to text Levi back.

[Eren]
i don’t think ur as gay as you say you are. You were staring p hard at those bikini models earlier….pretty sus  

The typing bubble appeared and disappeared a few times, prompting Eren to open Tinder again.

He cringed at his profile. It was a few douche-y looking pictures as well as a candid back shot of Eren on a hike. He remembered begging Armin to take the picture and to make it look nice, much too his friend’s chagrin.

He read his description, grimacing and how dated it was. It’s been forever since he’s used the app, he could most definitely tell.

[Hi I’m Eren. 19, 6’1, Aries. Swipe up if you’re looking for a good time or a long time if you know what I mean. ]

Brutal. Eren thought to himself as he quickly deleted the majority of that cringe descriptor of himself.

[Levi]
funny, I was about to say the same thing about you. 

Eren’s heart leaped from his chest and the notification of Levi’s sudden message. The words seemed to mock him before they slid away once more.

[Eren]
aaaaand this conversation is over. Night Levi, see ya next week

[Levi]
👋🏻

 

Chapter Text

Heat.

Eren licked his lips dry and felt heat all around him. It was a pleasurable, welcoming heat, though. His body felt like it was being eased and pulled info a warm bath while his mind was lost in ecstasy. His groin was aching dull with pleasure and his spine tingled.

He recognized this feeling. It was sex.

The setting of his dream wasn’t tangible, only a faded resemblance of his real life experiences tied together. He recognized a dark gray street, with stains of oil and litters of leaves all about.

He also recognized that he was leaning over the hood of a car. He identified the car as a 2009 Honda S2000, his very dream car. It was shiny and red underneath him, glaring harshly at him in the dream. The heat of the car also sizzled against Eren’s skin, who was nude.

Even more, he recognized the heat of another person’s body beneath him.

Hesitantly, Eren reached down and made contact with hips he was thrusting into. Eren rocked his hips more vigorously, feeling the car rock and shake beneath him.

Warm, wet heat took over his cock, tightening and sucking him in further. It was slick, enveloping and suffocating all at once.

Tight. Eren groaned, digging his nails into the other person’s skin. Fuck yes, yes, yes—

“Don’t stop—“ Whined the voice beneath him, although it was hardly a voice at all. He didn’t recognize it, Eren only heard the words and kept going.

Skin slapped on skin, encouraging Eren further. He went faster and faster, much to the overstimulation of his partner beneath him. They whined and chanted Eren’s name, coiling the heat in his gut like a snake.

Hands gripped Eren’s shirt and dragged Eren close to them, so that the two were nearly fucking missionary style on the hood of the car. Eren’s hands fell flat on each side of the person’s head. He moved his hips faster and faster, making the car shake beneath them.

“Eren,” The voice pleaded. “Look at me, I’m about to cum.” The voice sounded so soft. It was begging and it was so fucking sexy that Eren couldn’t help but look.

Much to his horror, it was Levi underneath him.

Oh my God. Eren’s stomach lurched. Levi? Levi, neighbor Levi? Oh my God, oh my God, oh my fucking God!

“Eren . . .” Levi murmured in his deep, low voice. His moans were guttural and sinful all at once, making Eren shudder with pleasure. “You’re doing so good, you know that?” His stiff hand ran up Eren’s chest, making the younger shudder over him.

His ink black hair was splayed against the car like the wings of a raven. His brows were twisted in ecstasy and his baby pink lips spread open. His eyes were half lidded and glossed with pleasure. His stark collarbones cast dark shadows across pale skin, a sight that Eren has seen in person many many times.

And much to a greater degree of horror that could only exist within a dream, Eren kept going. It felt natural to keep going, like he was meant to be here.

He couldn’t believe Levi had the audacity to invade his dream like this. Eren bent Levi’s knees over his shoulder and withdrew his cock—only to slam back into Levi with more force.

Levi let out a depraved moan, making Eren groan in return. He thrusted harder and harder, making Levi whine and moan, tears gathering at the corners of his eyes.

Good. Eren thought to himself. That ought to teach you to invade my dreams, you grouchy old man.

“You’re gonna cum soon,” Levi licked his lips. His eyes fluttered upon eye contact with Eren. “You can cum inside me, you know.”

Never. Eren growled to no one in particular.

“Do it, Eren,” Levi ordered, his voice dripping with venom. “I want you to do it now. Now. Now, please, please please—“

Hot skin pressed into skin and Eren raked his nails across Levi’s legs. The pressure was building, building and building until—

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BE—

He woke up panting, his breath short and his cheeks feeling hot. He blinked rapidly and tried to make sense of what just happened—did that really just happen?

Eren’s eyes peeled open, blinded by the sunlight bleeding in through his curtains. Eren has fallen asleep on his stomach again, his longish hair clinging to his neck through sweat.

A hand snaked to the bedside table and grabbed his phone.

Eren rubbed his weary eyes and ran his fingers over the smooth, cool surface of his phone before instinctively shutting off his alarm.

Eren rolled over and stared at the ceiling, his clothes sticking to him like a second skin through all the sweat he procured during the night.

His cock was also aching and stiff.

Shit. Eren thought to himself, finding the friction of his underwear against his cock to be enough to set him off. His manhood twitched.

Eren reached for his phone once more and ignored the notifications sitting and waiting for him. Instead, he opened his private browser and went to work. He typed the letters ‘p-o-r-n-h’ into the search bar and the internet did the rest for him.

There, he sought out explicit videos of his liking, which happened to be amateur videos. There was something raw and human about those types of videos that made Eren yearn for something similar.

He clicked on the first video he liked, a title too raunchy for Eren to commit to memory.

The video began, Eren pressing harshly on his volume button to keep it muted. God forbid his mom catch him watching porn—again.

Eren fished his leaking cock out of his underwear and began stroking himself, an action that sent real shivers down his spine. He lost himself in the video, hyper focusing on the attributes of the woman in the video. Maybe if he stared at her real hard, he could forget all about his dream.

He finished his morning in shame, wanting nothing more than to forget last night ever happened.

-

“Don’t you love this color?” Carla smiled at her son, her small hand waving a grand motion to the balloons she set in the corner.

The balloons were a pastel shade of purple mixed in with hints of gold. They really were pretty balloons, mixed in with flecks of vibrant gold.

“They’re cute,” Eren offered, setting a box of party items on the long buffet table.

Carla hummed, twiddling her fingers together. “Do you think your sister will like them? She said to not worry about decorating but you know I can’t do that. It’s her first baby shower! It has to be perfect!”

Armin appeared around the corner. “It looks great!”

“Oh, Armin! When is Jean coming back with the cake, do you know?”

Eren ignored their words, opting to spread out a plastic sheet over the long buffet style table in the living room.

Carla woke up her son first thing in the morning, eagerly reminding him of today’s events. He was groggy, with his hand in his pants and his phone dead. He totally forgot!

Mikasa’s baby shower was today, and Eren’s mom needed all hands on deck to decorate her house, so Eren recruited his best friend Armin to aid them. Carla was eager to host the party at her home, which Mikasa was passive with.

Carla was buzzing with excitement all morning, mouthing Eren’s ears off about party games and baby pictures and whatnot. Mikasa, on the other hand, made it clear on the phone that she cared not for decorations or anything, as she thought they were unimportant. So she lended full control to Carla, who was eager to take that role.

And so, Carla, Armin and Eren spent the morning rearranging furniture and encapsulating Carla’s vision. Eren suspected his mother was living vicariously through his sister, but that’s a suspicion he ought to keep to himself.

“Oh man, I wish Levi was here!” Carla whined, setting out small bundles of flowers on the table. “He said accents are essential to design and I just don’t know if I’m doing this right!”

Eren coughed awkwardly. “Is Mr. Ackerman . . . coming tonight?” He cringed at his sentence, his stomach burning with a fire only known to him.

“Of course!” Carla smiled. “Why, dear?”

“No reason.” Eren answered, hyper aware of Armin staring at him with careful eyes. He fished for a balloon and began filling it with air using the helium machine.

Carla smirked at him. “You know, you and Levi have gotten pretty close if I do say so myself. I knew you two would get along!”

“Mom,” Eren started, letting the balloon deflate and fall on the table pathetically.

Armin shrugged. “I noticed the same thing. Hangs out with that guy more than his own best friend, I’d say.”

“I live right next to the guy,” Eren said pointedly.

Armin smirked at him.

“Oh shoot!” Carla straightened. “I think I have a few of Mikasa’s baby pictures in the garage. I’ll be right back, boys.”

“You sure you don’t need help?” Eren asked hesitantly, not wanting to be alone with Armin’s ever-curious, every prying eyes.

Carla waved a hand. “I’ll be fine—just have to fight off a few cobwebs. Don’t decorate anything until I get back!”

The door connecting the garage to the living room shut unceremoniously. Eren let out a breath he was holding and looked over to his expectant best friend.

“Go on, ask.”

Armin stifled a laugh. “I don’t know what you mean, Eren.”

“Armin, don’t play dumb with me,” Eren begged. “You’re wanting to ask me something, so go ahead and ask. Free reign, I promise.”

Armin’s lips twisted, almost as if he was holding back laughter. His body language was stiff and his eye movements shifty, almost as if he was hiding something from Eren.

“Just from what I hear,” Armin started, his voice teasing. “I think that—you know what, never mind.”

“What? What did you hear?”

Armin waved a hand. “Nothing! I just think you and Levi have a lot in common, how about that.”

That’s not true. Eren thought flatly. Levi is a high maintenance divorcee who lived alone and cared about nothing except tea and plants. Eren was a future college student who enjoyed cars, video games and working out—the two couldn’t be more different if they tried.

“How.”

Armin’s brows raised. “How, huh? Well, you know, I’m your best friend. Erwin is one of Levi’s best friends. I’m just around them a lot. I notice things.” Armin crossed his arms and seemed like he was boasting, something unfitting for his character.

“You?” Eren asked skeptically. “You and Levi—“

“And Erwin,” Armin added. “Yes, we go on group outings sometimes. Hanji is there with her husband too.”

Eren’s nose scrunched, imagining what that could possibly be like. Just a group of grown adults and Armin. What kind of festivities would that ragtag team get into, the library? A neat coffee shop? . . . Theatre?

“A local pride parade is coming up,” Armin mentioned. “And we’re all going. You should consider coming with us. Levi’s the only single person in our group, might make him happy for you to keep him company.”

Eren couldn’t stop to interpret that, as his mom came back with a dusty old box of photo albums.

The brunet thanked the high heavens for this distraction, and he set to work following strict orders from his mother.

-

People began filling the house quickly.

Eren recognized all sorts of faces, from coworkers of his mother’s, to old family friends, to a few neighbors Eren recognized. There were also a few of Mikasa’s former art school friends as well as Jean’s group of people. Sasha and Connie eventually showed up, dressed decently and (hopefully) looking not to make this into a rager.

For parties, it definitely wasn’t what he was used to. He preferred the more loud and out of control type parties in which it was easy to lose oneself and forget any woes.

This, however, was a tight knit party in which Eren had to fake his way remembering relatives and old family friends. It was awkward and the worst part about it was that Eren had to be sober.

Eren wandered the quaint party, keeping an eye out for a short, black haired man. Not that he wanted him here, of course. Though it would be nice to have a friend here for this evening besides Armin.

But he wondered how it would fare to see Levi in person again. It would be strange, no doubt. Levi was just a dude, and Eren just had a weird dream. Lots of people have weird dreams, doesn’t mean they mean anything.

Right?

As he was pouring himself a bowl of punch, he heard the unmistakable sound of the front door opening and a few warm voices.

He looked over and stiffened at what he saw.

Levi was at the front door, holding a large present and scanning the party before him. Erwin, Hanji and another man, who was assumed to be Hanji’s husband, trailed closely behind, each holding a present in their hands.

Levi looked stunning. He wore a light blue button up hung over a pair of tight looking khaki shorts. He’d never seen him in something so . . . bare.

He can’t do this.

Eren sucked in a breath and lost himself in the crowd further, not wanting to be seen or heard by his neighbor.

His heart raced. He’s never been so nervous around Levi before, but considering his rather colorful dream this morning, he’d rather not. That was a new layer of awkward that his psyche couldn’t comprehend. Not today. Not ever.

“Hey, Mikasa!” Eren leaped towards his sister, who was quietly sipping on her drink in the corner.

Her eyes fluttered at the sight of him. “Eren! Thank God you’re here. There’s so many people here.”

“I know,” Eren huffed. “Mom went a little crazy. I couldn’t even put a cup down without her criticizing about the placement.”

Mikasa rolled her eyes. “She’s stressing too much. I don’t care about the color of the balloons, I care about all the baby stuff people are giving me, damn it.”

Eren nodded, his eyes darting about. Eventually, they landed on Levi, who noticed the couple and began walking towards them.

Mikasa took an absentminded sip. “You know, I don’t even like purple all that much—“

“I gotta go,” Eren interrupted. “I gotta—erm, I gotta take a shit.”

“Gross, Eren.”

The brunet pushed into the crowd and headed back towards the front door, making smiles and small greetings towards some guests on the way there.

Eren wasn’t even sure where he was going, he just wanted away from Levi. He couldn’t stand it! Not the dream, but Armin’s teasing words and not his mom’s nosiness. He just wanted to get away.

He was about to open the front door when it opened on its own accord, a tall man standing on the other side.

“Dad?” Eren’s voice raised an octave.

Grisha’s face melted into a smile and that’s when he noticed the strange woman in his father’s arms.

Quiet rage set slowly into Eren’s heart. The ground tilted beneath him and his blood ran cold and straight down. 

“Dad . . .” Eren managed, surprised he had any breath to speak. “What are you—you can’t be here—!”

A heavy, suffocating feeling settled over his chest and it felt like-it felt like he couldn’t breathe! Eren needed out. 

Grisha frowned. “Mikasa invited me. I’m a grandpa too, you know.”

His mother was going to be absolutely livid.

“I can’t do this,” Eren admitted out loud. He turned back around on his heels, leaving his father and whoever that was behind. Eren was just glad he had nothing to do with his father’s appearance. That was all for him and Mikasa to deal with.

Eren left, hoping to distance himself as far away as possible. He headed for the back door, not caring for anyone who might see.

Chapter Text

Eren opened the back door and threw himself onto a chair on the porch. There were few party guests out here, as the heat from outside drew everyone in. The guests outside were far away, milling at the edge of the garden and making light conversation.

The heat sizzled the very edges of the yard, making the heat almost dry and unbearable. But Eren didn’t mind, he was too busy dreaming up a battle scenario in which he was supposed to tackle his freshly divorced parents being in the same home.

Eren was grateful for the breath of fresh air. He was grateful for the isolation until he heard the unmistakable chill of that voice. That deep voice that haunted his dreams last night.

“Mind if I sit?”

“Do I have a choice?” Eren turned and saw Levi standing in the doorway, looking rather bashful. He didn’t mean to be so rude to Levi, but his presence was the last thing wanted right now.

“No, I suppose not,” Levi admitted, walking over to sit in the adjacent chair. “You just looked like you could use a friend.”

Levi walked around and sat comfortably. His pale skin sat in beautiful contrast to the man’s pale blue almost lavender shirt and khaki shorts. His cheeks were slightly pink, as guessed by the heat of the summer.

Eren turned away, finding the proximity of Levi’s body and face too close for his liking. Heat rose in his cheeks as he studied Levi’s body, finding it to be strikingly similar to the body in his dreams. Muscular, almost lean and shaped like a model.

“I saw your dad,” Levi finally admitted. “You didn’t tell him to come here, did you?” His voice was laced with genuine concern, his eyes searching deep into Eren’s for an answer.

Oh great. Eren groaned to himself. First, I have a sex dream about Levi and now he’s here sticking his nose in my family business? Give me a break. 

Eren wanted to be irritated. He wanted to snap at Levi and push him away. The man had no business following Eren around like some sort of magnet. Why would he care? All their relationship was was yard work and small talk.

“No,” Eren replied, his voice defeated. “I didn’t. I’m pretty sure my sister did.” He leaned away, trying to put as much air between the two men as possible. 

Levi didn’t notice. “No shit?”

Eren shrugged. “It’s whatever. Mikasa wants to believe in the best of people, I guess. I just don’t want to be in there when my mom finds out.”

Levi hummed contemplatively, rubbing his chin. Eren tried not to notice the slight stubble appearing on his jawline. Eren wondered what Levi was thinking. After all, the man knew his mom on a level that Eren wasn’t ready to acknowledge. Maybe Levi had something insightful to say.

“Let’s leave,” Levi decided, standing up.

Oh.

He stood in front of Eren daringly. The abrupt movement almost made Eren shrink in his seat, had it not been for their striking height difference.

Eren snorted. “And go where?”

“I know a few places.”

-

“I didn’t think this is what you had in mind,” Eren noted, bent over into the hood of Levi’s car. 

“You were gonna have to fix my car sooner or later,” Levi reasoned. “There’s no time like the present.”

“You really think chores are some sort of reward, huh?”

”And what about it?”

Levi was eating a small plate of small snacks. He was leaned over Eren’s shoulder, making the younger stiffen. Levi wasn’t exactly pressed up against his body, but the weight of his presence still sent tingles down Eren’s spine.

“Can’t believe you took food from the party,” Eren laughed as Levi swiped off a few crumbs from his shirt. He hoped the raven wouldn’t notice the crack in his voice.

“Your mom knows how to make a good spread,” Levi shrugged, a remark that probably would’ve sent Eren’s fist into his jaw a month ago. “So how long will this whole thing take?” He gestured lazily towards the hood of the car.

Eren hummed, clicking the cover of the timing belt into place. He had just finished replacing the cooling fan of the AC, something that definitely wasn’t an easy feat.

He’s been working on Levi’s car for almost an hour now, his forearms being stained with oil and grease. He couldn’t imagine Levi ever getting into this sort of mess, so in a weird way, he was glad he was here.

Levi’s presence was still unnerving, seeing as Eren kept seeing flashes of a naked body from his last night’s dream. Although, the man’s naturally unapproachable and crass sense of humor was quick to separate Eren’s dreams from reality. 

“I’m done, actually,” Eren sighed, standing straight to shut the hood of the car. “Anything else, Princess? You need your taxes done too?”

“I can do my own taxes, thank you. How about we take this baby for a spin?” Levi offered, slapping the hood of the car. He approached the driver side of his car, giving Eren a sharp look.

Eren stared for a little while. Levi looked a little more daring than he usually did, suspecting alcohol to be the source.

“You can’t be serious,” Eren put forth. “I’m not letting your drunk ass drive us around, Levi.”

The raven rolled his eyes in response, looking offended. “I’m not drunk, Eren. I don’t need alcohol to have fun with you. Now let’s go. I drive and you get aux.”

He said it more like a command, which Eren definitely took it as. He followed into the passenger seat, his stomach bubbling with excitement.

-

They weren’t four minutes into their trip until Levi started complaining.

“Stop playing all this sad shit,” Levi waved a hand towards his radio. “I know your parents are divorced and that sucks, but I took you out so we could have fun.”

“It’s Joji,” Eren said defensively. “But fine, I’ll play something a bit more upbeat.”

Eren grabbed his phone and searched through his Spotify, ignoring the impatient glances Levi kept sending his way.

Levi’s face wrinkled. “Oh, God, not this fucking song—“ 

“I like it,” Eren muttered defensively. “Why would you even give me the aux if you’re going to complain about every song?”

”Fine, I guess you’re right.” 

Roxanne . . . Roxanne!

All she wanna do is party all night!

God damn, Roxanne!

The speakers burst to life, making Levi glance at the radio. 

Eren craned his head out of the window, humming along the the lyrics and tapping his fingers on the window. 

Never gonna love me but it’s alright

She think I’m an asshole 

She think I’m a player

She keep running’ back though 

Only cause I pay her—

“So where are we headed?” Eren asked, barely recognizing the streets outside. 

The sun was falling and night was soon. Eren was slightly worried for his mom noticing his absence, but he figured she’d be more occupied handling the appearance his dad’s unwelcome presence.

The older man shrugged. “I was just thinking about cruising and talking for now. Anything on your mind you want to indulge in?”

Eren tucked his lips into his mouth, feeling his nerves clench slightly.

Wouldn’t it be funny if he told Levi about his stupid dream? 

Levi would have no reason to find it weird, right? Eren’s straight and he knows that. If anything, Levi would make fun of him for their text conversation they had about all those dumb bikini models. 

Ugh. Eren leaned out of the window. 

Levi was so complicated.

“So how long have you lived in Trost?” Eren asked, retreating back into the car. He figured this was a safe topic. 

”Since I was 18 or so,” Levi hummed. “I moved here to go to MSU, just like you did. Though I didn’t move here with any family, but Erwin followed.” 

”You’ve known Erwin for awhile, right?” Eren prodded closer, always being curious about the shorter man’s relationship with Erwin. His heart raced in anticipation of Levi saying they used to be lovers, or something. 

“Since high school, yes. Then we both went to MSU and met Hanji, who was a little older than us,” Levi began, allowing Eren to relax. 

Eren was a bit stunned at how much Levi was speaking, as he hadn’t heard the man talk straight sentences like this before. 

”I met Nile there at university while Erwin ended up marrying a guy we went to high school with,” Levi continued. “Years passed, here we are. Stuck in the same town for the rest of my life.” 

”Erwin was married?” Eren stared in amazement. 

The raven waved a dismissive hand. “Not for long. Erwin’s like that, though. He’s always in love with somebody and then it goes wrong.” 

Eren was silent. 

”But Armin is good for him,” Levi assured, answering an invisible question. “I honestly—now don’t tell him I said this—I haven’t seen Erwin this excited about someone before. Armin makes him happy and that makes me happy.” 

”Your definition of happiness is looking very different from mine,” Eren teased. 

“I suffer greatly from resting bitch face, sue me.” 

Eren enjoyed this. He liked having a new friend he could relate to and hang out with. Levi may have been older and a bit crass at times, but they’re almost like kindred spirits to one another. 

A techno beat broke through the speakers, prompting Eren to gasp and turn up the volume. 

“What is this?” Levi frowned at the speaker.

Electronic music filled the car, making Eren’s heart race and his smile hurt a bit. This song always had a certain way of making Eren feel so loose and excitable. He wasn’t sure why, but this song was associated with so many good memories. 

“Empire of the Sun,” Eren answered. “You’ll love it, trust me.”

“If you say so.”

The song began and Eren couldn’t help but sing along to the lyrics he’s chanted for years.

Days go by my window

World slows down as it goes

Goodbye to last night

Lost my eyesight

Can’t you help me see . . . ?

Eren nudged Levi playfully, snickering at the eye roll he received. There was something about being so brushed off that made Eren even happier. 

Levi rolled down both his windows, the wind of the speeding highway whipping their hair about. 

Once the beat dropped, Eren couldn’t help but dance along. 

Loving every minute ‘cause you make me feel so alive!” Eren sang, laughing at the hand slap his pointed fist received.

He repeated the verse, jabbing Levi in the shoulder on every beat. Levi smiled small, slapping Eren’s hand away. He was enjoying himself, the college student could tell.

Eren whipped his head around and danced as wildly as he could in the car, swinging his body with the mission to annoy Levi as much as possible. It was dangerous, maybe. But there was so much adrenaline running through the brunet’s body.

The hook of the song came back around, with Eren gripping Levi’s hand this time around and using it as an impromptu microphone.

Loving every minute ‘cause you make me feel so alive!” Eren sang into Levi’s fist, the pale fingers curling around his. “Loving every minute ‘cause you make me feel so alive . . . alive . . . alive . . .alive . . .

The singer began singing a higher note, prompting the words to die silently in Eren’s throat.

Eren’s fingers loosened around Levi’s hand. He studied Levi’s face, stoic yet relaxed. His midnight black hair whipped around his face as his eyes fluttered in the wind. He looked so . . . handsome.

He glanced at Eren, laughing low. “What’s wrong, didn’t win the Grammy?”

Eren threw Levi’s hand away and scoffed at him. “Nothing—I’m just hungry, what about you?”

“I could go for a burger.”

-

“Thanks for the food,” Eren murmured, sticking some fries in his mouth.

“Thanks for fixing this piece of junk,” Levi replied, banging a fist on the hood of his car. They hummed, content.

The duo were sitting on the hood of Levi’s car. They grabbed a few burgers and sodas and drove to a secluded cliff top, only half an hour away from the house. Levi questioned his knowledge of such a place, to which Eren shot him a smirk.

There, they could see the sprinkling sea of the city lights beneath them. It was arrayed neatly, almost like a grid. The dark blue mountains in the distance looked over the city like a set of watchful giants.

The air was cooler now, Eren actually shivering a bit through his thin shirt. It was welcomed, though. After the heat of the day and working on Levi’s car, he enjoyed this.

“So Armin mentioned something about a pride parade,” Eren started, making needless conversation to fill the emptiness. “He said you were dying to go with me.”

Levi laughed. “He’s just messing with you. He knows I have a date already.”

An arrow of ice pierced Eren’s core. “A date, huh?”

“Yeah, some guy I’ve been seeing for awhile now. He seems nice but annoying as all hell.”

“Hm,” Eren replied, chewing on his burger. It didn’t taste as good as it did a few seconds ago.

Levi kept eating, not seeming to take notice to Eren’s mood change. “You could still come, though.”

“Maybe,” Eren replied flatly. “Not really my thing, though.”

“Suit yourself.”

They ate in silence a bit more. Eren’s stomach burned with the prospect of finding something—anything to say. He didn’t like thinking and he didn’t like using words.

“So what’s up with your dad?” Levi broke the silence.

Eren cringed at the conversation choice. He figured it was better than anything else. God forbid Levi open up about this dude he’s been seeing.

“He’s a dick,” Eren relented. He’s also selfish and a bit of a narcissist.

Eren’s mind wandered back to his bi-weekly therapy sessions in which he’s heard these same words echoed back to him. And it rang true, it just took Eren years and years to see it through.

Levi nodded, only listening intently and waiting for Eren to elaborate. Eren felt self conscious of that, people usually didn’t prod for details once Eren gave a simple statement about his dad. Levi was something else.

“Well, I just—“ Eren’s words failed to form in his mouth. “He was a good dad to me and Mikasa when we were little. School trips, fundraisers, working on cars . . . It was all such a good memory in my head, y’know? Then middle school came around and I noticed my mom and dad weren’t as happy as I thought they were. Mikasa couldn’t hide it from me forever. Then they sat me down and told me my dad was having an affair. A really long one, too.” 

“No shit?” Levi’s brows raised. “I knew he cheated but I didn’t know it went back that far.”

Eren nodded grimly. “Yep. My dad had another kid sometime between Mikasa and me. My mom didn’t find out until I was in middle school, and . . . and the house—like the air in the house got tight. Like we were just waiting for a bomb to go off.” 

Eren’s heart was beating quickly. He couldn’t believe himself—he’s never expressed these woes to anyone outside of his therapy room. Much less, to Levi, someone he’s gotten closer with barely within the last month.

“I just—“ He coughed, his eyes narrowing at the stinging sensation behind his eyeballs. “My house didn’t feel like a home anymore, y’know? Fuck, dude—“

“You don’t have to justify anything,” Levi pressed urgently. “I’m just here to listen to you. Take a deep breath.”

Eren sucked in a breath, his lungs nearly shuddering from the cold air that entered. “It’s—I want to continue.”

“That’s fine, Eren.”

“They were waiting until I turned 18 and-and they finally did it,” The brunet almost whispered. “My mom hightailed it out of Shiganshina and moved here. My dad lives with his mistress turned housewife and-and my brother, I guess . . . As for my mom—well, you know. She came here. I haven’t seen my mom this . . . relaxed in years.” 

”And she’s done so much . . .” Eren continued after a pause. “She would do so much for him. She placed so much pride in her home and her kids and cooking . . . Just for my dad to—“

The brunet doubled over with a sob he attempted hiding. Levi offered a small bundle of crumpled tissues from the fast food bag, to which Eren accepted. He crumpled the napkins in his hands. 

“Sorry,” Eren’s voice shook. “This is stupid.”

“It’s not stupid,” Levi’s voice was gentle. His hand reached over to pat Eren’s back. Levi’s arm curled, bringing him in for a side hug. “Your emotions aren’t stupid, Eren. Sometimes, we’re just dealt a shitty hand in life. I’m sorry you were dealt these cards.”

Eren breathed a shaky sigh, finding Levi’s arm across his back to be a welcoming warmth. He couldn’t care how close he was to the man, and he couldn’t care about the entrancing cologne the man wore, either.

It’s been a long time since he was hugged like this, and though it was Levi doing the affectionate embrace, it was needed. Badly.

“Thank you, Levi,” Eren muttered.

“Don’t worry about it, kid.”

-

Eren was a wreck on the car ride back home.

He couldn’t help the stream of tears falling from his eyes, nor could he help the dry heaves escaping his lips.

Eren felt pathetic. He shouldn’t be crying this much over something he’s known about for years. He’s gone to therapy so many times, he shouldn’t be knocked down a peg by the simple mention of his parent’s divorce.

“Eren.”

A hand was held out to him.

Eren blinked. Levi’s hand was outstretched across the dashboard, offering itself to Eren. His hands weren’t delicate looking in the slightest, looking worn from years of yard work and so on. Yet his fingers were slender and his nails clean. 

Eren took Levi’s hand into his own, finding the small, physical act to have a calming effect on his anxiety.

At some point on the ride back, the brunet fell asleep with Levi’s hand entwined in his own.

Chapter Text

“So how’ve you been feeling since I last saw you?”

Eren pressed his lips tightly at the question, although he had no reason to. After all, it was how Dr. Brzenska started her sessions every two weeks.

Her therapy office was always a calming room, with two comfortable chairs that were adjacent to one another. There was a pale tan color on the walls, lit only by a few soft lamps. Dr. Brzenska always had a candle lit, and this time it seemed as though she opted for gingerbread.

He’s been visiting Dr. Brzenska since the divorce, so nearly two years now. She was a short woman with chin length gray hair, thick, downturned brows and oval shaped glasses. At first, she was incredibly intimidating, but she was good at her job. Her voice was commanding, yet gentle. 

“Good,” Eren answered uneasily.

“And your mom?”

“Um, she’s been great. She’s been volunteering more and we recently hosted a baby shower for Mikasa. But uh . . . My dad showed up.”

Her brows raised. “Your dad showed up to the baby shower, huh? Tell me more about that.” She began taking notes, making Eren eye the spinning pen warily. 

“I didn’t invite him, I think Mikasa did,” Eren began. “I opened the door and he was there with . . . her. I told him he couldn’t be here, he just said, ‘Oh I’m a grandpa too’. I remember I got so angry that I left.”

Dr. Brzenska nodded, setting her notes to the side. She pressed her fingers together and made direct eye contact with Eren. “That’s good. I’m proud of you for that one. We talked about how you can’t control other people, right?”

“Right,” Eren echoed, his gut twisting. Although that advice was true for him, he still struggled with it every single day of his life. “Then Levi showed up and took me out. We went to go fix his car and drove it around town.”

“Did you, now?”

“Yeah, it was actually really fun,” He cracked a smile. “We played some fun music and went to go get some burgers up in the mountains—the view was beautiful. I opened up to Levi about my dad and stuff, he’s a really good listener.” 

“Sounds like he’s a good support system.” 

“He is,” Eren agreed. “I cried on the way home and he . . . he held my hand. It was-It was nice.”

“And how do you feel about this Levi?” Dr. Brzenska’s sharp gray eyes narrowed, reaching for her clipboard.

Eren licked his lips. He wasn’t sure what was going through the mind of his therapist, as he remembered a few sessions ago he was ranting and raving about Levi the neighbor moving in on his mom. That was a problem they dealt with swiftly. Dr. Brzenska sternly reminded him that he couldn’t get in the way of his mother’s happiness because of resentment for his father.

“He’s been a really good friend to me,” Eren spoke honestly. These words sounded foreign, the first time he’s confessing his feelings about Levi to another human out loud. “I don’t know . . . I . . .” His voice cracked.

His heart raced. He wasn’t sure whether to tell her about the dream or not, but who could he possibly tell? Dr. Brzenska doesn’t know any of his friends or his mom. She certainly doesn’t know Levi! She’s also a professional with this stuff. He should tell her to get it off his conscience at the very least.

“I had a sex dream about Levi,” Eren spoke, catching the mildly surprised glance of his therapist. “I’m sorry, I know that’s not appropriate, but it’s been bugging me. I just wanna know what it means.”

“It wasn’t abusive, was it?” Was her first question.

Eren shook his head. “It was . . . Really good, actually.”

Dr. Brzenska pressed the end of her pen against her lips and hummed. Eren shifted in his seat nervously, unsure of what her next few words will be.

“You know, Eren,” She began, setting her pen down. “Dreams are simply manifestations of our every day thoughts and wants. Your dream about Levi could be a manifestation about control issues in your life, or it could . . . it could also be your mind’s way of releasing this feeling of temptation. Do you understand?”

“A little.”

“I think there’s a part of you that’s sexually attracted to Levi,” Dr. Brzenska conceded. “And from what it sounds, he’s a good friend of yours so I think it might be worth discussing it with him or—“

“No way,” Eren laughed, her words slapping him in the face. “He’s—I’m—I’m not gay!”

“Maybe not,” Dr. Brzenska agreed. “I don’t know what’s in here,” She pointed at her heart. “Or what’s in here,” She pointed at her head. “All I could do is help you the best I can with the information you are providing me. And from my opinion, as someone who’s known you for two years now, is I believe Levi is a new character for you. He challenges you, he listens to you and that’s extremely attractive to you.”

Eren swallowed thickly at these words, each one piercing his heart like a sword. He felt like his lungs were tight, like he couldn’t breathe.

His therapist halted for a minute, expecting Eren to interject. She continued, “I can’t tell you if you’re gay or not, Eren. That’s a journey you’d have to take on your own. I could appoint you some material to read, but I do not feel comforted assigning you into this role.”

Eren nodded, his hands feeling electric. He wasn’t sure how to feel. Dr. Brzenska has never missed the mark before, why would she—or should she—slip up now? Maybe she was right. Maybe Eren was attracted to Levi on some level.

“Thank you, Dr, Brzenska,” Eren murmured. “I’ll do some research at home.”

“Good,” She relaxed into her seat. “Now tell me about the baby shower.”

Eren also leaned back in his seat, recanting the story of the baby shower as closely as he remembered. His mind was elsewhere, though.

His mind was on Levi.

-

The bike ride to Armin’s apartment was welcomed. Eren rode his bike as vigorously as he could, pumping his lungs and working out a sweat to ease these feelings bubbling within him.

He trotted up the stairs to the door and held his breath. He raised his shaky fist and knocked gently, his heart thumping loud in his ears. 

“It’s open!” A muffled voice called. Eren swallowed thickly. 

Eren opened the door, noticing right away Armin and Erwin on their L-shaped sofa. The two were cuddled underneath a blanket and watching a movie. The room was dark, the only source of light being flashes from the TV screen.

“Hi Eren!” Armin sang, cuddled into the large arm around him. Eren felt a pang of jealousy at this, wanting so badly to be the one cuddled around another person. “What brings you here? You never visit anymore, what’s going on?”

Eren swallowed thickly, not expecting Erwin to be here. He didn’t want to have this conversation in front of him, in front of one of Levi’s very best friends!

Fuck it. Eren decided, drawing a deep breath. He circled around the couch to face the two, a little relieved he wasn’t walking into anything.

“Can I talk to you guys?” Eren murmured. “I have some questions.”

The two blonds exchanged a look.

“Sure,” Armin nodded. “Come, sit!”

Erwin reached over and paused the movie.

Quickly, Eren scrambled to sit perpendicular to the couple and fiddle with his fingers. He felt as though a giant ball of lead was sitting in his stomach. He didn’t want to have this conversation. Not with anyone, not ever.

“What’s the matter?” His best friend asked gently, knowing he had just come home from his hour long therapy session.

Eren wanted to scream. He wasn’t good at expressing himself through words or anything—he preferred doing. This was a dreadful feeling. He didn’t want to be here, he didn’t want to do this.

He closed his eyes, finding little comfort in the darkness. It was now or never. If he were to shut these feelings away, he would struggle with this for the rest of his life.

“How did you guys know you were gay?” Eren asked, opening his eyes slowly.

Armin looked stunned. His mouth fell slightly agape. His big blue eyes blinked. He looked at Erwin, who’s face changed little in expression. Rather, Erwin looked thoughtful, maybe even a little pleased. He was tactful enough to keep his mouth shut.

“Eren—“

“Please?” Eren interrupted his friend with pleading eyes. “Please. I need . . . advice.” 

Armin sucked in a breath and paused the movie, focusing his stare on his friend. 

“Whatever you need, Eren.”

-

The hose turned on with a gush of hot water, making Eren recoil and attempt to gain control over the hose.

“Shit!” He hissed lightly, as the hose sprayed the entire front of his T-shirt.

God fucking damn it. Eren cursed to himself, stripping off his shirt it and tossing it on a nearby chair to have it sun dried. He dragged the back of his hand over his cheek, where a splash of water left his face soaked.

Frustrated, Eren grabbed the hose and threw it into the pond, the host bouncing and splashing the pool lining with a watery crash.

Today should be a fairly easy day, as he was tasked with filling the pond and going home.

Usually, the workload wouldn’t be so short. Levi explained he had plans to get lunch, so Eren had to be out of here as soon as possible. Now, the college student didn’t take too kindly to being treated like an employee for the first time in their relationship, but he took it on the chin nonetheless.

Eren sat there for what must’ve been twenty minutes, absentmindedly watching the pond fill up.

As he watched the crystal blue water splash about and run over the black lining of the pond, he thought carefully over Dr. Brzenska’s words along with what Armin and Erwin had to say.

Eren’s never questioned his sexuality until just recently. For his entire life, he felt comfortable dating women and being intimate with women, so there wasn’t an issue there. Armin threw out the potential of Eren being bisexual, but that didn’t feel right either.

The issue was with Levi. There was just something about Levi that made Eren look at men a bit differently. The stark collarbones, the broad shoulders, the flat plains of his body and his hardened expression . . .

This man was an enticing figure in Eren’s life, what Dr. Brzenska said was true. He’s snarky and he’s daring, with lingering gazes and challenging words. Erwin added that Eren acted a lot like Levi back in the man’s hay day. Armin agreed on the similarities.

Erwin also added that Eren totally fit Levi’s type.

Could it be possible—

The back gate opened with a creaked swing, making Eren flinch and turn around quickly. He was self conscious of his shirt being off and in full view of the intruder.

What the hell?

Standing at the gate was a tall, lanky looking guy with blond hair. He peeked around the corner before looking back at Eren, visibly confused.

“Can I help you?” Eren called out, albeit a little venomously.

The man raised a brow at him. “Uh, yeah is Levi home?” What a weird accent.

“Who’re you?”

“I could ask you the same thing, mate.”

Eren narrowed his eyes and threatened to open his mouth, probably to say something offensive until Levi stepped out from the back door.

“Christ, Farlan,” Levi called, stepping down from the porch steps. “Have you no decency? You’re an hour and a half early.”

Eren’s eyes darted between the two, recognizing relaxed body language and a sort of familiarity between the two. Eren’s gut twisted and his mind began to race.

Farlan pouted. “What’s wrong with arriving a bit early to see my love?”

“God, you’re an ass.”

“Who’s this?” Eren asked, his voice coming out a bit more strained than he intended.

Levi’s brows raised, almost as if he forgot Eren was there. “Ah, right. Eren, this is Farlan. Farlan, this is Eren. Eren’s my friend’s kid, he’s helping me with some yard work.”

Friend’s . . . kid? Eren wasn’t shy to hide his scowl now.

“Ah,” Farlan raised his head, pretending to know what Levi was referring to. “I was about to say! You had me a bit worried there, having such a bloke like this all naked and like in your yard.”

“No worries,” Levi repeated. “Now let’s go inside, I’ll fix us a drink.”

“You’re speaking my language!”

Eren watched the two disappear inside the house, angrily turning and watching the water fill the pond.

-

“I’m surprised you don’t leave me for that beauty over there,” Farlan stared out into the yard, accepting Levi’s iced tea without a glance.

Levi rolled his eyes. “There would have to be something between us in order for me to leave it, don’t you think so?”

“Cruel,” Farlan grinned, taking a sip. “But seriously, though. That kid is a looker.”

Levi scoffed at the comment. Oh how he’s had to hear over and over again on how attractive Eren was. For the weeks they’ve become friends and worked on the garden together, Levi’s has many visitors. They would gawk and turn their heads at Levi, fumbling over Eren like he was a rare, precious gem.

Levi thought it was ridiculous.

“That’s my friend’s kid,” Levi said, an explanation he’s repeated to himself many times in his head. “He’s in college.” 

Farlan raised a brow.

“Plus he’s straight,” Levi added quickly.

“There’s no way!” Farlan exclaimed. “Mate, that’s a crock of shit you’re telling me. There’s no way he’s not into dudes! That bloke looked like he wanted to rip my head clean off when you stood next to me!”

“Really?”

“Swear!”

“Don’t care,” Levi decided, turning around to fix himself a drink. His face twitched with the smirk it was trying to hide.

“Well, you’re mine, anyway!” Farlan cried defensively. “I snagged you first, didn’t I?”

“Hm, that’s what we’re calling it now, huh?”

Farlan frowned. “You’re such a tease! What kinda bloke pashes another bloke without rooting him?!”

Levi turned, eyes narrowed. “What?”

“In American terms,” Farlan started slowly. “What kinda guy kisses another guy for hours but doesn’t even take him to bed?”

Levi snorted. Farlan was cute. He was pouty and his accent was adorable. He was also tall, which was a plus. His voice was also loud. And he also happened to only be in the United States for the summer to visit his parents. So that was a minus.

Levi threw back his iced tea, which he spiked with alcohol for this very occasion. Farlan was only here to eat, but God knows he always pushed for more.

“I’m much better than guy out there,” Farlan stuck a tongue out at Eren, who was mindlessly pulling in the hose and fixing to turn it off. He paid no attention to the conversation inside, though he did look incredibly pissed off.

“Are you, now?”

“He’s just a dumb frat boy,” Farlan shot him a knowing look. “I’m a chemist back home, for crying out loud! What could he offer you?”

Levi bit back a snide remark by tossing back another sip. Farlan’s words weren’t . . . inaccurate. Eren was a 20 year old with no clear direction and a love for video games, cars and the gym. Had he and Levi met under different circumstances (and sexualities) Eren would’ve been a fantastic one night stand. He was young and hot.

But relationship material?

Levi cringed. He told himself that those days were over—fixing up crummy dudes and Queer Eye-ing every aspect of their life while expecting them to do the same. He did that in the long term with Nile, an aimless college student who ended up being a fantastic lawyer. Though Levi got a pretty penny from alimony from time to time, he didn’t want a repeat of his past marriage.

Which is why Farlan was acceptable. He was older, he had a career and he loved his family. He was more on Levi’s speed.

But why didn’t this make sense to Levi? The raven’s eyes narrowed and his fingertips swirled the drink in his hand.

The sliding door open and Levi blinked, being pulled from the useless ramblings of his head space.

Eren occupied the back area, his shirt damp from water and his eyes defeated.

“The pond is filled?” Levi asked, surprised he spoke first.

Eren nodded. “Yep. I’m going home, now. See ya next week.”

The younger left without incident, although his facial expression was tortured. He looked . . . torn. Levi couldn’t help but gulp at that expression, knowing Eren had let himself be vulnerable to Levi before.

Levi fought this unknown feeling within him by drowning it with iced tea and rum.

Chapter Text

Levi sat up in bed, slightly panicked.

He immediately swept his hands over the cool covers of his bed before finding the familiar weight of his cellphone.

He tapped the device to life and squinted at the time.

8:03 A.M.

Levi relaxed a fraction upon reading the small numbers on his phone. Sleeping in until 8 wasn’t characteristic of the short man, but he’s been exhausted lately. Farlan’s been pestering him for late night phone calls, which is annoying as is, given that Hanji already blows up his phone.

He threw his legs over the side of the bed and began making his way into the kitchen, the floorboards creaking beneath him. The cool air swept around his moving feet, the once still air being disturbed.

Ceremoniously, Levi began his morning routine. He set the old record player in the corner of his living room to play some charming music from the 1950s. It was a few records he’d inherited from his grandmother, and it was the best way to pay homage to her.

After shaving, brushing his teeth and combing through his dark black hair, Levi set to the kitchen.

Levi began to make a pot of tea, filling the delicate ceramic kettle with water from the faucet. He stifled a yawn as he picked out a nice oolong tea to accompany his morning. Though Eren’s declined his tea many times, Levi still made an extra cup.

Eren.

Levi opened his fridge and scanned its contents, looking for a quick and clean snack to start his day.

It’s been a week since the brat’s been here, which isn’t unusual in the slightest. However, Eren’s been texting him a lot less. Usually, Levi’s day would be interrupted from a few messages from Eren, whether it was sending him funny videos or talking about current politics, of which Eren knew nothing about and Levi knew too much against his will.

Nowadays, every text notification that sounds aloud on Levi’s phone makes him excited—only for it to be Farlan on the other end. There’s something disappointing about that, and Levi can’t exactly pinpoint why.

Levi opted for some yogurt and fruit.

Maybe it was how skilled of a conversationalist Eren was?

Levi snorted, tossing a few blueberries into his small bowl of crème colored yogurt.

Okay, so the kid was no magician with words, but he was sweet. Eren was also much more entertaining to talk to. He was funny and he threw around a few raunchy jokes here and there. And despite having the appearance of a frat guy, as Farlan described it, Eren was surprisingly sensitive and in tune to his surroundings.

Eren had a lot to offer and Levi thought he was . . . well, Levi thought he was unique.

The ebony haired man brought his bowl to his small dining room table and began to eat, enjoying the quiet morning.

Of course, with all of Eren’s positives, there came the most glaring flaw of all. 

The age difference. 

Over the course of a few weeks, Levi hasn’t afforded himself the brain space to think about that. Sure, he initially saw Eren as a shitty kid who pulled shitty stunts, but he offered a lot more than that. Truth be told, he had forgotten about their age difference until Farlan brought it up. 

Having to address the decade and a half long age difference felt like stepping into a freezer—a deeply uncomfortably chilly feeling. 

The doorbell rang, a sound that jolted Levi out of his seat and shook his bones a bit.

He hurried to the door, throwing it open and seeing Eren standing before him. The younger’s vibrant, turquoise eyes blinked up at him, his dark hair tussled around and framing his slender face. He was getting more and more used to waking up early, his eyes looking less tired and his attention more sharp.

“You’re early,” Levi noted, standing aside to allow the younger man inside.

“Wanted to get away from Armin,” Eren sighed, plopping his house keys on the dining room table.

Levi headed over to the teapot, which was sure to boil over soon. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Eren sitting at the table and relaxing into his forearms.

“Everything okay?” Levi prodded, pouring boiling hot water into two ceramic mugs.

Eren nodded, sticking a yawn. “Yeah—Armin is just a little nosy sometimes, that’s all. He keeps bothering me to go to Pride with him today.”

“Well, why don’t you?”

“I’m not gay.”

Levi’s eyes narrowed and he walked over to the table, slipping Eren a cup of oolong tea. The fragrance filled the space between them, a toasty wooden smell that was sweet and delicate all at once.

He tried to remember what it was like when he was Eren’s age. When Levi was 20, he was much more sure of himself back then, as reserved as he was. He was just an unassuming looking college sophomore with a half assed English degree and a deck of shitty relationships. 

“You don’t have to be gay,” Levi offered, wondering if that was the kind of thing a 20 year old would like to hear. “Pride is for everyone, that’s kinda the point.”

“It’s not my thing.”

“Whatever you say,” Levi asserted, sitting back down to enjoy the rest of his yogurt. He flipped his phone out and began scrolling through it, as to avoid the prolonged stare from Eren.

“So what’s on the agenda today?” Eren asked, leaning into his fist.

“I don’t want to do anything too difficult,” Levi replied, ignoring the bundle of messages Farlan left in his inbox the night prior. “Pride is today and I want to look semi-fuckable, so let’s go grocery shopping.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

“You’re not asking your boyfriend to help you, huh?” Eren raised a brow, his voice completely even. Levi surprised himself on underestimating Eren’s observational skills. 

“It’s—“ Levi began, growing increasingly uncomfortable with Eren’s sudden assumption. “I don’t have to explain myself to you.” And he didn’t. Right?

Levi cursed himself. That isn’t what he meant to say—what he wanted to say. He wanted to tell Eren that there was nothing going on! Because there wasn’t, really. Farlan was just a warm body to kiss and be complimented by.

But how pathetic would that have been to explain all that? Wasn’t  Levi supposed to be the older and mature one?

“Fair enough,” Eren relented. “You ready to head out?”

“Sure.”

-

The trip to the supermarket was quiet, with only a few words exchanged between the two.

Levi was silently stewing over the words they exchanged back at the house. Eren seemed . . . cold. He seemed more aloof and pulled back than usual. Levi racked his brain to find any moment where he might’ve slipped up and said the wrong thing, but to no avail.

Though Levi wasn’t the most self-aware person there was. He’s offended Hanji and Erwin on more than enough occasions. 

They were greeted upon entry as Eren grabbed a cart and began wiping it down.

“Make sure you do a good job,” Levi called out. “People don’t vaccinate their kids nowadays.”

Eren snorted before going to work on the cart, making sure to get tight little corners and screws. A few people wordlessly stared, but Levi couldn’t care less.

The air sounded with a Ding! Making Levi impulsively reach for his phone before he remembered he usually placed it on silent.

“That you?” Levi frowned.

“Probably my mom,” Eren answered, throwing the used disinfectant wipes away. “Ignore it.”

Levi followed Eren into the store, accepting the command with a sigh and a shove into his pockets.

Their first stop was the fresh produce aisle, where Levi handed Eren a list and the boy began to search eagerly.

At first, Eren’s eager devotion to Levi felt a little uncomfortable. It was akin to the feeling of having a maid around, to which Levi loathed. But Eren was doing this entirely on his own and many times, Levi questioned that. He figured the boy must’ve still felt guilt for destroying his window and nearly soiling his friendship with Erwin.

Levi was off behind the tomatoes, tapping away on his phone while Eren inspected each fruit individually. He brought each one to his nose to sniff before putting it down and continuing the process.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

“Your mom’s gonna have your ass if you keep ignoring her texts like this,” Levi warned, typing away an email to be sent to the head of the English department later.

Eren scoffed. “Then check it for me. Passcode is my birthday.”

Original.

Levi picked up Eren’s phone and swiped up, being met with a series of numbers.

03 30 . . .

Levi’s eyes narrowed.

00

God, Levi was old.

The phone unlocked like magic, and the first thing Levi noticed was his background picture.

It was a candid picture of him, Armin and his sister. The picture was a little aged, as indicated by Eren’s shorter hair and the absence of Mikasa’s pregnant belly. It was a sweet picture.

Ding!

A notification came through. When Levi read it, his throat ran dry and his eyes widened.

[Tinder] Jake sent you a message.

Jake? Levi’s mind spun. Jake is a boy name, right? Short for Jacob. Jake. Boy. Eren. Tinder. Tinder is a dating app.

Levi was tempted to put the phone down and forget this ever happened. He wanted to scrub this from his memory and carry on.

He looked cautiously up at Eren, who was now further away. He was staring down some green onions and glancing back at this list. So he was occupied.

Levi felt wrong. He shouldn’t be snooping like this. But this was just . . . too juicy, wasn’t it? Eren told him just that morning that he wasn’t gay, and here he was, parading himself on dating apps.

He couldn’t help himself.

Levi opened the app and was met with a picture of a smiling, handsome dude. Levi scoffed before swiping the picture away. He met yet another picture of a totally different dude. 

No way. No way. No way.

Levi immediately went to Eren’s messages on the app, finding provocative messages from men and women both. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing!

This had to be fake, or a joke . . . right?

Ding!

[Armin] what ?!!! no way you didn’t lmao

Levi was about to ignore the notification when another message from Armin came through.

[Armin] did you tell levi about it

His breath caught in his throat and he stared at the message with wide eyes. His own name staring right back at him before it disappeared.

Curiosity burned within Levi. He couldn’t. This wasn’t meant for his eyes, this was a private conversation. This was forbidden and if Eren wanted him to read it, he would tell him.

But it was also about Levi. They were talking about Levi unmistakably, and he had to know!

With a great hesitance, he put the phone down and locked it, his heart racing.

He’s snooped enough. He cannot destroy Eren’s trust any more than he already has. The information he found was already ground breaking, god forbid he find anything new about Eren.

“What’d my mom say?”

Levi jumped, startled and his heart leaping from his chest. Eren appeared next to him with a bag of green onions and another bag of spinach. Just the items he was meant to get.

“N-Nothing,” Levi answered. “It wasn’t your mom.”

“Oh,” Eren mumbled. “What was it.”

“Armin.”

Eren’s eyes widened. “W-What did he say?”

“I didn’t read it,” Levi answered truthfully, flipping the phone back to its rightful owner.

The brunet practically melted into relief. “Oh, okay. Cool. Where to next?” Eren grabbed his phone and slipped it into his back pocket, far away from Levi. 

Levi opened his grocery list, the writing scragglier than he remembered and his hands shaking. He had gotten some vegetables, now he needed—

Eh? He reread the word.

He didn’t remember writing that one down. Though he did make this list a few days ago, and he anticipated that anything could happen at the pride parade.

“This way,” Levi muttered under his breath, heading in the opposite direction of the store.

-

“Can’t you just hurry up and pick one?” Eren cried miserably. He was hiding behind one of his hands as he waited as far away as he possibly could.

Levi wanted to bite back something smug, but he couldn’t find it within himself to do so. After the realization of the fluidity of Eren’s sexuality, this grocery store trip seemed a bit more awkward than he anticipated.

Dammit, Levi. He thought to himself, gritting his teeth. You’re a big boy now, you can pick out a simple box of condoms.

Had he known how excruciating this process would be, he would’ve happily done it without the presence of ‘Hot N Cold’ Eren at his side, but he really did need condoms. He suspected his have gone bad awhile ago, a perfect representation of Levi’s sex life by the way.

“God,” Eren growled, marching up to one of the boxes and grabbing them before tossing them into the cart.

Levi stared at him, almost frightened before Eren waved a dismissive hand. “Those are the ones I use! Condoms are condoms, can we just go? Please?”

Gladly. Levi sighed before following Eren to their next stop.

-

Back at home, Eren was quick to put away the groceries while Levi opened up his laptop.

Nothing like some good ol’ lesson planning to help Levi get rid of any anxieties he had within himself.

The two fell into their casual routine of maintained silence. Eren was working in the kitchen while Levi relaxed and typed away on his laptop. Their dynamic was domestic at times, but Levi didn’t care and Eren didn’t seem to notice.

“Hey, hey, hey!” The door burst open, and a head of wild brunet hair appeared.

“My favorite uninvited guest!” Levi sang sarcastically. “You’re early, too.”

“Too?” Hanji tilted her head as she heaved a heavy bag through.

Levi nodded towards the kitchen and Hanji made an knowing ‘ah’ sound. She clambered to the sofa, where she sat too close to Levi and began rifling through her things.

“Where’s your much more pleasant husband?” Levi asked absentmindedly.

“No pride for him today!” Hanji sighed, bringing out various makeup and placing them on the table. “I think he was secretly happy about that, though. Stuck with the kids! Lucky me!” She followed her sentence with an obnoxious laugh.

Levi hummed.

“So what were you and jailbait up to today?”

“Grocery shopping.”

“And where’s your Australian man candy?” Hanji leaned forward, almost whispering.

Levi rolled his eyes. “Not here.”

“Whaaat? I thought he was supposed to be your date!”

“Well,” Levi scowled into his computer. “Sometimes things don’t go as planned. And besides, I . . .”

He shouldn’t tell her. That was Levi’s first instinct.

Eren was clearly insecure about his sexuality, and if he didn’t feel comfortable telling Levi, he most definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable having Hanji know.

Levi had to do the right thing. Being closeted or questioning wasn’t gossip, nor was it a joke. He already felt tremendous guilt from snooping, and he shouldn’t add to that by talking about it with the biggest loud mouth he knew.

“I think I like somebody else,” Levi relented. “So—It’s whatever.”

Hanji’s face lit up.

“Don’t say anything!” Levi threatened. “Not a single word or I’ll rip your head off.”

She held up defensive hands, her face tightened into a smug grin.

“Your secret’s safe with me!”

Chapter Text

A crackle of a stereo sounded before a high pitched beep, causing Eren to lean in slightly to his TV screen.

[Leon] Hunnigan It’s Leon. The door’s locked I can’t get in.

[Hunnigan] Didn’t they teach you how to pick locks at the academy?

[Leon] There’s some sort of indentation like something might fit inside.

“So you’re really not going?” Armin burst through the bedroom door, causing his friend to reflexively jump in his seat.

Eren paused his game and stared at his friend like he’d just grown a third eye. Well, he might as well have.

Armin was dressed in a sparkly crop top and shorts, something he hadn’t seen on his friend in years. He also had rainbows painted under his eyes and reeked of cologne. This was something unique for the blond, who usually dressed rather modestly most of the time. Pride seemed to be an exception.

“Not if I’m going dressed like you,” Eren joked, resuming his game and continuing to play.

He moved his character, Leon S. Kennedy, around the screen and began exploring the map. Resident Evil 4 was an older game, but a bad one it was not.

Armin put his hands on his hips. “Ha, ha, ha. I didn’t invite you over just to play video games all day, you know.” 

“I’m not going. I have shit to do.”

Leon S. Kennedy. Oh how he could get lost in a world with Leon S. Kennedy for a day. Now that Eren’s semi-accepted his sexuality, he could finally admit attraction for his childhood video game characters.

Armin tilted his head towards the screen skeptically. “Resident Evil 4? You’re gonna spend your day playing as Leon when you can go out in person and hang out with the real one?”

Eren’s eyes narrowed. “Wh—you’re not funny.” He raised his Xbox controller and played stubbornly, attempting to hide his blush behind his hands.

This wasn’t the first time Eren’s had to think about the physical similarities between Leon S. Kennedy and his cursed crush on Levi Ackerman from next door. They had the same hair style, the same skin and bad-ass aura about them. The two even sounded the same for crying out loud.

Armin crossed his arms and glared. “Eren, you’re going to really regret not going to Pride. Now hurry up and get ready.”

“No.”

“Levi is going to be there!”

“So?”

Armin gave him a look of disbelief. “You cannot play stupid with me now—I know when you have a crush on somebody, Eren Jaeger. A crush is a crush!”

“No it’s not,” Eren denied pathetically, slashing open some boxes and stealing the gold within. Real riveting game play. Too good to miss.

Armin glared at him, stewing in silence. This was something the blond typically did when Eren was being more stubborn than usual, and this was no exception.

“I’m going to put together an outfit for you,” Armin drawled, sounding more like a command. “And you’re going to wear it and meet us downstairs in ten—no, five minutes. Got that?”

Eren clenched the controller and pouted, his friend shutting his door without another word.

-

Eren wondered if he was a sucker for being humiliated by his friends.

As it turned out, Armin had put together a rather tame but revealing outfit for him. Armin knew Eren didn’t have any clothes that were, as he put it, ‘sexy enough’ for pride, so Armin took it upon himself to cut up some of Eren’s old clothes. He cut up one of Eren’s old football shirts into a crop top and an old pair of jeans into knee length shorts. Eren was grateful he decided not to go shorter.

Eren stood in the bathroom staring at himself in the mirror for maybe the entirety of the five minutes granted to him by his best friend.

Looking in the mirror felt akin to looking at a complete stranger with how he was dressed. Eren felt the nerves beneath his skin prickle—he’s never looked this flamboyant in his life before! What if he saw someone he knew from his high school? What if he saw one of his old teammates? God forbid his coach saw him gay it up in one of their old t-shirts.

But damn if it didn’t make him look good.

Eren decided to grab a hat and put it on backwards and adorn a pair of sunglasses. He also adorned his golden cross necklace gifted to him by his father long ago. It was douche-y but he didn’t look all that recognizable.

He grabbed Armin’s spare keys and made his way out of the house, swearing himself to only about an hour of the parade then it was time to head home.

Eren locked the front door and headed down to an unfamiliar looking minivan that had Armin and Erwin sitting in the front seat.

The van door slid open and Eren shrunk in place, realizing he was staring right at Levi.

The raven wore a simple black T-shirt with a printed rainbow flag and shorts.

“Oh,” Levi’s brows raised behind sunglasses. “Didn’t think you were coming.” He didn’t sound impressed, but that was how he always sounded, so Eren didn’t take it personal.

“Hi, Eren!” Hanji screeched from the backseat, shoving her hands out and grinning.

Eren’s eyes widened.

To say Hanji was ‘decked out’ would he and understatement. She had rainbows painted all over her face along with glitter everywhere. She had red colored fairy wings, a sparkling rainbow top and a fluffy skirt that occupied the entire back row.

“Hey, Hanji!” Eren waved small. “Wow you’re . . . dressed.”

“Thank you! Spent all night on the wings!” She turned to show them off, Eren narrowly avoiding a glittery wing to the face.

“Don’t worry, we quarantined her to the backseat,” Levi scoffed. “Glitter is Satan’s dandruff, I promise we won’t get any on you.”

Eren cracked a smile. “Thanks.” He climbed into the van, making awkward eye contact with Erwin in the rear view mirror before looking away quickly.

“Eren!” Armin sang. “I’m so glad you decided to come!” He followed his sentence with a small clap before encasing his hands into Erwin’s.

“I know!” Hanji’s head burst, shedding a cloud of glitter which Eren and Levi both leaned away from. “You look hot!”

“Thank you,” Eren chuckled nervously. “So how does this work, is there like . . . tickets?”

Hanji gave him a knowing grin. “Oh, you’ll see.”

“Put your seatbelt on, four eyes.”

-

The parade was plenty fun. Until it wasn’t.

The air was hot, but no one seemed to care because of the excitable atmosphere around them. Everyone was smiling and dressed in various, interesting outfits—some of which Eren averted his gaze to.

The pride parade floats were stunning to look at. Intricate in design and so full of color and life. Eren didn’t exactly feel at home as Armin predicted, but he did respect the process behind pride more.

“You look like you’re having fun,” Eren poked at Levi, who watched the parade with crossed arms and sunglasses on.

Levi scoffed. “I am. You, on the other hand, look like a fish out of water.”

“Well—“

“Let me guess,” Levi smirked. “‘I’m not gay.’

“I’m not!”

“Sure.”

Eren rolled his eyes. So Levi was back to teasing Eren about his sexuality. He didn’t mind much nowadays, considering that he was reconsidering his straightness behind the scenes. He’d tell Levi when the time was right.

“Did you spit on me?” Levi frowned, touching his lip.

Eren blinked. “Uh—no?”

The two looked up at the sky and simultaneous cursed at the boiling gray and white storm clouds above them. Rain droplets fell, causing everyone around them to look up confused.

And that’s how the group ended up in a crowded nightclub, where many others decided to seek refuge. It was Hanji’s idea, and Eren suspected this was an idea bred from eagerness for alcohol. 

The club had tall ceilings. And despite the amount of neon lights, it was incredibly dark and difficult to tell what the décor looked like. All Eren could see were private booths pushed to the walls and a giant dance floor in the middle.

The music was loud and boomed in Eren’s chest, which made the club all the more intimidating. Everyone dancing didn’t care about the volume, only thrashing and moving along to the beat and drunkenly shouting lyrics.

Levi took the lead and pushed through the crowd, everyone trailing closely behind. It was hard to keep track of the man, as he couldn’t have been over 5’4” and he was easy to lose.

By some stroke of luck, the group found an empty booth and gathered there.

“I can’t believe it rained on us!” Hanji cried, wiping wet glitter off her arms. She slid into the booth and rested her cheeks in her hands.

Armin shrugged. “Well, I’m not going to let the rain ruin my parade! Erwin, let’s go dance.”

Then there were three.

Levi stood. “I’m getting drinks.”

Two.

“So how’s your first pride parade, Eren?” Hanji grinned behind her glasses.

Eren relaxed a fraction. “Besides the rain? It’s cool, I guess.”

Hanji smiled. “I think Levi’s glad you’re here too.”

“It’s hard to tell,” Eren admitted honestly. Hanji returned this sentiment with an encouraging grin, making Eren feel at ease.

“Well, you know how he is,” Hanji tilted her head, rifling through her backpack. “He tries to seem all cool and ‘whatever’—but he’s just bad at expressing himself!”

Eren nodded, fiddling with loose threads on his freshly cut shorts. “I can see that. But he is cool. He’s nice, and all . . . It’s no wonder he has a boyfriend already.”

Eren wanted to regret the words spilling out of his mouth. The music booming over them vibrated his ear drums, and made him feel almost dizzy.

“Boyfriend?” Hanji tilted her head cartoonishly. “Oh, you mean Farlan! They haven’t talked in awhile, actually.” She pulled some baby wipes from her backpack and began wiping her arms clean of glitter.  

“Really?”

Hanji shrugged. “He just said he wasn’t into him, I guess.”

“Oh,” Eren nodded, trying his best to appear stoic. “Well, he’s—that sucks.”

“You know, Levi actually said—“

“Three tequila sunrises,” A familiar raven appeared, placing three colorful drinks on the table. Levi scooted into the booth right next to Eren, making the movement appear so casual Eren almost didn’t notice.

Hanji’s brows went up. “Wow! You want to go all out huh?” She reached for a drink, immediately sipping it. She recoiled, her face scrunching. “Whew, that’s strong.”

“Such a lightweight,” Levi scoffed, reaching for his drink as well.

“I have two kids!” Hanji whined, her face still scrunched from the drink. “What can I say?”

Eren blinked. “You have kids?”

“Mhmm!” She swallowed her drink. “Sonny and Bean! My precious baby boys. 9 and 6 respectively, of course. They’re my entire world, but God I haven’t been out in ages.”

Eren wasn’t sure if he should be surprised or terrified. He reached for his drink and took a sip, the alcohol hitting right away. The burning sensation spread from his nostrils to his cheeks and went down his throat like pure fire.

Levi chuckled at this reaction. “What’s wrong, party boy? Can’t handle liquor?”

“Not like this,” Eren coughed. “Mostly beers. But this is good, too.”

“I want something else, though!” Hanji frowned. “You know I’m more of a cosmo kinda girl, Leevs.”

“Don’t use that horrible nickname for me ever again.”

“I’m gonna go get us something better,” Hanji ignored her friend. “Be back in a bit.”

Eren stared after Hanji, watching her leave with scared eyes. He silently begged her not to leave, but sadly, she wasn’t a mind reader like Eren had hoped.

The two sat in silence, now. Sipping on their drinks and staring into the crowd. 

It felt like hours passed, with Eren stewing in his thoughts. He wondered where Hanji was, he wondered if Levi would speak first and he wondered what song was playing. Would Levi mention his outfit? The fact that he had no idea what to say right now? 

“Is that Britney Spears?” Levi asked, frowning up at the speaker above them.

“Uh, I think so.”

“Oh.”

Eren wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

And before he knew it, he finished his drink. The alcohol buzzed in the back of his brain and made his limbs tingle. He was hoping the alcohol would make him more comfortable like it usually did, but it had the opposite effect on him.

Levi must’ve noticed. “You feeling buzzed already?”

“No,” Eren lied. 

“Liar,” Levi snorted, setting his empty drink aside. “Well, you look less constipated so I think that drink is doing you well.”

“Think so?”

“You look great,” Levi nodded, the casual comment making Eren clench his hands in his lap. “I don’t usually give alcohol to minors, but judging from my previously broken window, I can assume you don’t care.”

Levi seemed to be leaning closer. His breath was close enough for Eren to feel the heat from. It smelled sweet, like alcohol or candy. Eren leaned in, convincing himself it was only to hear Levi over all the music. 

“No,” Eren laughed. “I uh . . . I didn’t throw that ball, by the way.”

Levi raised a brow. “You’re telling me that wearing an old football shirt?” He leaned in closer. “Shiganshina Titans 2018, huh?”

“Yep, wide receiver for four years.”

“And that isn’t a gay thing?”

Eren laughed. He genuinely laughed from the bottom of his gut, making Levi look a little pleased with himself with that one.

“No, I just caught the ball and made the touch downs. Still sounds kinda gay, though. I’m lucky I didn’t tell you I was a tight end.”

Levi snorted, his face looking flushed in the neon lights above them. “That’s not real. Is that real?”

“Oh yeah,” Eren nodded, adjusting his hat. “You got your tight ends, linebackers, your fullback, your bareback—“

“You’re so stupid,” Levi laughed, digging his fingers into his eyes. “If there was actually a position called bareback I probably wouldn’t have been bullied by those meatheads so much.”

Eren watched Levi carefully after that sentence, a little bit unsurprised by that little piece of information. “Must’ve been an early 2000’s thing. We had a few gay guys on our team.”

“No shit?”

“No shit. Reiner Braun and Bertholdt Hoover. Some of the scariest and biggest guys I’ve ever seen in my life. I think they’re a couple, now.”

Levi pursed his lips, impressed. “Well, look at you. Perfect American kid, huh? Football star, cars and a glaringly obvious heterosexuality. If Ronald Reagan could see you now.”

Eren rolled his eyes. “Fuck that dude. But actually uh . . . I was going to tell you—“

“Leevs!” Hanji screeched, nearly running up to the table. “They won’t serve me! TheythinkI’malreadydrunkpleasehelpme—“

Levi scowled at her. “That’s because you are, Jesus fucking Christ.”

Hanji frowned, stumbling into the booth and slouching over the table. Eren scooted always slightly, allowing the brunette to have more room in the booth. He was a little grateful for her return, but not like this.

Levi stood and looked back at Eren. “Text her husband and call her a cab. She needs to get her ass home. I’m going to get another drink.” 

“S-Sure!” Eren frowned, not exactly the most excited to being assigned as a babysitter. 

Levi rolled his eyes and disappeared into the crowd.

“Ugh, my head,” Hanji grumbled, rubbing her forehead affectionately. “I was just at the bar enjoying myself—some more tequila sunrises. Yummy, yummy!”

“Tequila will do that,” Eren laughed, sliding open his phone and opening his Uber app.

“I’m gonna text my hubby,” Hanji grumbled, her voice almost too quiet for the music around them. “The kids should be asleep by now . . . I miss my kids! Why did I come here!”

Eren cracked a smile and watched his friend frown into her phone, typing the keys as carefully as she could. There was something strangely uplifting about listening Hanji talk about her children so affectionately. They were lucky to have her as a mom.

“Your Uber should be here, soon,” Eren tucked his phone away. “Want me to walk you out?”

“Oh! That’s so sweet of you! Yeah, okay!”

-

The rain was a lot lighter, now, but still heavy. The sky was dark and the hot concrete outside hit Eren’s nostrils like a truck.

He had his arm around Hanji to help stabilize her motions as they approached a hot and waiting truck. Worry twisted his gut slightly, but he knew Hanji was a capable, grown woman.

The similarities to taking care of Historia all those weeks ago lingered in the back of his mind.

“Thank you, Eren!” Hanji sang, scooting herself into the back of the car. The driver looked back and nodded with Eren.

Eren smiled at her. “Be safe, Hanji.” He shut the door gently, the brunette opting to look drunkenly at her phone.

Eren slid a few extra dollars to the Uber driver before they drove away, leaving Eren behind with a raining club.

He walked back in, once again being overwhelmed by the music and bodies around him. The alcohol seemed to worsen this effect, making the bass pump his blood faster and his eardrums shake.

He scanned the crowd and began making his way back to the booth. It was kinda lame, spending the entire night of clubbing sitting in a booth and feeling insecure, but who was keeping track?

After pushing and dodging a few bodies, he found his booth occupied by Armin and Erwin. They were rather occupied with their hands and mouths, causing Eren to turn right on his heels and straight into the crowd.

Everyone was dancing and grinding around him, making Eren feel a bit self conscious about not doing the same. He had no other option than standing here awkwardly, as he wasn’t old enough to sit at the bar and he didn’t have the car keys to wait in the van.

A small head of black hair flashed by him, making Eren turn his head quickly.

There. Levi was chatting with some stranger, holding a drink and looking more flushed than before.

Almost hypnotized, Eren watched as Levi danced with the stranger. They didn’t touch bodies, but the man’s hands hovered over Levi as he sipped his drink looking bored out of his mind. Their bodies were close, their crotches were close and their mouths were close. The stranger took hold of the drink and sipped devilishly at the brightly colored liquid, Eren’s heart leaping.  

Eren saw red.

How long had Eren been gone, anyway? Ten minutes, and Levi already found some stranger to cuddle up to?

It might’ve been the alcohol, it might’ve been Eren’s pent up frustrations with his sexuality, but he walked towards the couple with a strange boldness not found before. There was something tight and angry growing in his throat.

Eren doesn’t want to sit here and feel sorry for himself anymore. He wants to get what he’s been wanting for days now.

He grabbed Levi’s wrist and yanked him towards his body. Levi fell like a rag doll, his movements being sloppier from the introduction of more alcohol.

“Dance with me,” Eren commanded.

Levi blinked up, surprised at Eren’s sudden presence. “Wh—“

“Dance with me,” Eren repeated, placing his hands on Levi’s hips and bringing him close.

Levi cracked a grin. “Thought you’d never ask.”

Eren’s heart raced as the older man moved closer, their clothes brushing against each other like electric static. 

The song blasted from ahead, filling their bodies with rhythm and movement.

Eren recognized the song playing as one of Lady Gaga’s older songs, Bad Romance. His heart raced along with the strong bass, finding Levi to be impossibly close to his own body.

Levi mouthed along to the lyrics, his sweet breath hitting Eren’s nose. It was hot, his proximity to Eren felt hot and too close, but he couldn’t care less. Levi smelled good and Eren wanted him closer.

His dark eyes were slightly cloudy, but brooding nonetheless. His lips were parted and there was a blush dusting his cheeks. 

“You’re wet,” Levi noted, his arms slipping up around Eren’s neck and toying with his long, brown locks. “What’ve you been up to? You were gone for an hour.” 

An hour . . . ? Eren’s mind trailed.

Eren bit onto his bottom lip and pulled the man closer to him. He didn’t want to admit that Levi’s deep voice was sending curls of arousal down his spine and into his gut, but it was.

I want your love . . .” The speakers shook above them. “Love, love, love, I want your love . . .

The college student chose not to answer, digging his nails into Levi’s hips to press him against his own body. And it felt good. Levi’s body was hard and flat, with all muscle and sharp edges. It was a new feeling for Eren and it was exhilarating. He wanted to sink his forehead onto Levi’s shoulder and lose himself in the sensations.

Eren didn’t talk. He didn’t care about talking anymore, not when Levi was pressed up against his body like this.

Levi looked up at Eren, who was slouching over to meet eyes with the man.

“Eren,” Levi laughed. “You’re—You’re close.”

Shut up. Eren thought miserably. Please shut up.

He wanted to call Levi out for teasing him. Teasing him and flirting these past few weeks like a cat with a string. But his brain wasn’t working—wasn’t functioning properly. All he could do was feel his stiffening erection against his jeans. 

He could feel Levi’s, too. 

Eren pressed his lips to Levi’s, his mouth opening right away. Levi returned this action, allowing the younger access and sucking on his tongue. The kiss was hot, Levi tasting of alcohol and something sweeter. It was sloppy and it was misguided, echoing Eren’s primal desire to wreck the man beneath him.

I want your love and I want your revenge, you and me could write a bad romance!” The song vibrated in Eren’s bones and made him explode.

Levi let loose a low, guttural moan that made the fire within Eren explode. He left Levi’s hips to grab at his face, wanting nothing more than to claim himself all over the shorter man. Eren was growing hard at the expert kissing Levi returned, and the other man must’ve noticed because he kissed so much more eagerly.

Eren felt insatiable, kissing and groping Levi like his last breath depended on it. Their kisses were frantic and filthy, Levi digging into Eren and Eren digging into Levi.

The ground almost tipped beneath them, but Eren didn’t care. He felt too good right now to care. His body was light and Levi’s body was so hot against him.

“Eren,” Levi pulled back, his breath hot and his eyes wide. They were searching and almost frantic, making Eren wonder if he did something wrong. 

“You—“ Levi gulped. “You um—“

“Let’s get out of here,” Eren breathed. The words spilled out of his mouth before his brain could even catch up. He wanted this. So bad.

Levi pursed his lips together. “Eren—“

“No!” Eren blurted. “Fuck—let’s-let’s do it in the van. You got the keys, don’t you?”

“You’re crazy. I don’t—“

“I know you feel it too, Levi. So take me to the van.”

Dark eyes searched his for a moment, but Eren never broke contact. The brunet half expected Levi to joke with him before painfully rejecting him, reminding that he was 15 years his senior as well as a friend of his mother’s. There were much more detriments attached to the offer, but Eren couldn’t deny his feelings. 

“Lead the way.”

-

The walk to the van was slightly sobering. 

It was safe to say that Eren wasn’t drunk, only buzzed and extremely elated. So while he felt high in the clouds, he was still very much aware of what was happening. He could feel the floor underneath his shoes, the damp air of the outside and Levi’s hand encompassing his own. 

Most importantly, he remembered following Levi into the van and settling into the seat next to him. The rain had made them slightly wet, with Eren’s clothes clinging to him and his hair. 

“You still want to do this?” Levi followed him in, shutting the car door behind them and sitting right next to Eren. “I mean, you’re allowed to say no—“ 

“I do,” Eren cut in, his eyes trailing down Levi’s body. “Um . . . It’s a lot, though. Can we start slow?” 

“Slow,” Levi repeated, almost as if it were his first time uttering the word. “I can go slow.” 

He scooted himself closer to Eren, who propped his arms up on the car seat behind him. Cuddling Levi like this was almost too intimate, and Eren thought about retracting his hand back until Levi began massaging the inside of Eren’s thigh. 

Eren’s hip buckled at the sensation, making Levi smirk. “You’re pretty sensitive, huh?” 

“Maybe,” Eren hissed as Levi began applying some serious pressure to the inside of his thighs. His cock twitched against the confines of his jeans, his gut bleeding arousal into his groin and his spine. “A-ah, you’re pretty good at this.” 

Levi hummed. “I’ve had years of practice, I suppose you could say.” 

It’s been awhile since Eren’s had the feeling of someone else’s hands on his body. Levi’s hands were an unexpected but welcome touch, they were hot-palmed and rough. They were also surprisingly big, which made Eren’s head spin a little. 

“Your body is so receptive,” Levi murmured. His deep voice did wonders for Eren, making him writhe like a snake. “So sensitive. When’s the last time someone touched you like this?” 

Eren held back a groan, heat pooling at the base of his spine. “Sh-Shit. Forever. Don’t stop.” 

Levi pressed his lips to the side of Eren’s neck, the soft yet unexpected touch making Eren moan. He cared not for how loud he was possibly being—he just wanted Levi to touch him more. 

The older man chuckled in his ear. “That girl must’ve had a lot of fun before you made her jump through your window.” 

Eren bit his lip and wanted to bite something sarcastic back, but he seriously couldn’t think. 

“I don’t think she made me feel like this,” Eren admitted, his head rolling to meet Levi’s. 

Levi smirked. “Like what, Eren? Like this?”

A heavy palm made its way to the top of Eren’s cock, pressing down lightly. Eren called out in a strangled cry, his hips jerking forward. Levi caught Eren’s open mouth in his own, almost beckoning the younger man back down to earth. 

As the kissing grew feverish, Eren began to lose control, his hands finally encasing Levi. Eren let his hands run against Levi’s sides and back to his lower back, where the softness of Levi’s skin welcomed him.

Levi licked a hot stripe up to Eren’s ear, making him whine and twitch underneath the older man. His cock twitched, feeling warm with an imminent orgasm at bay. He focused, however, on keeping his arousal under control. It would be pretty embarrassing to have came just at Levi touching him through his jeans

The raven halted, raising slightly to meet Eren’s eyes, which were no doubt, half-lidded and consumed with lust. 

“You’re close already,” Levi huffed, a slight smirk ghosting his lips. “Don’t worry, Eren. I’ll take care of you.” 

If he were at a loss for words back then, he most definitely couldn’t speak now.

Eren could only watch as Levi lowered himself to be eye level with Eren’s belly button before unbuttoning his pants. The man licked against the hot skin right above the groin, making Eren hiss and want to retract, but it felt all too good. 

With a raise of his hips, Eren helped Levi discard his pants and briefs beneath. His cock sprung free, making Eren sigh with relief. 

“Jesus,” Levi murmured, eyeing the shaft before him. Pale fingers slid up the already leaking erection, stroking it and massaging it with feather touches. Levi looked up for any sign of hesitance from Eren, to which there was none. 

When Levi began jerking off Eren by wrapping his fingers around the shaft, Eren began to sing. 

“Fuck, that’s good,” Eren called out, his abs rolling underneath the touch. “Y-You—“

“I love hearing you, Eren,” Levi groaned appreciatively, his lips pressed to the shell of Eren’s ear. “I want to taste you so bad.” He didn’t wait for an answer before diving down. 

Eren struggled for breath as pink lips enveloped his cock. Levi’s mouth was greedy, gagging up and down his length with impatience. The brunet was impressed at how the raven moved, tucking in his lips and taking in all of Eren. It was magnetic to watch: his own, stiffened cock disappearing in and out of Levi’s mouth. His mouth was like soft velvet, running along the shaft and beckoning Eren to orgasm. 

Hesitantly, Eren tangled fingers into Levi’s midnight dark hair and massaged his scalp. The older man groaned appreciatively, retracting from Eren’s cock and gagging slightly. 

“You look pretty like this,” Eren murmured, thumbing a lock of hair from Levi’s face. 

“Shut up,” Levi scowled, blushing and his dark lashes fluttering. “Do you know what to do next?”

He stared at Eren in the dark, his pale cheeks flushed and saliva running down his swollen lips and chin.

“I wanna fuck you,” Eren admitted. “I’ve been dreaming about it.”

Levi’s mouth twisted into a smirk. “Is that so? Stay there.”

Levi leaned over and rummaged beneath the seat, searching for something before pulling out a small, capped bottle of liquid. At first, Eren thought it was hand sanitizer but then he read the label.

“What do we need lube for?”

Levi gave him a look before shedding off his own pants. “This is how gay sex works, Eren. I’m gonna prepare myself.” Eren blinked owlishly at the older man, who scoffed affectionately towards him.

“And what do you want me to do?”

“Look pretty and try not to come.”

Levi climbed up to straddled Eren’s hips once more, Eren being fascinated with the sight of another man’s cock like this.

“Fuck, you look good,” Eren moaned, raking his hands underneath Levi’s shirt and dug his fingers into pale skin. He was slightly damp from sweat and the drizzle outside, making Eren all the more eager to taste his skin. “Mm—you feel even better.” 

Levi drank in these compliments, rolling his hips against Eren and feeling his hardened cock grind against his own groin.

“Jesus, Eren,” Levi sighed, lowering his cock to rub against Eren’s still slick one. Eren welcomed the sudden closeness, wrapping his arms all around Levi’s pale back. The older man stripped off his shirt, tossing it to somewhere unknown. 

He humped against Eren’s crotch with a purpose, his arms gripping Eren’s thick shoulders while he expertly moved his hips. Their lengths shifted against one another, making the heat in the enclosed space grow higher.

“Aw, fuck!” Eren whined, throwing his head back. “You’re so hard, Levi.”

“You like that feeling?” The raven leaned into Eren’s ear. “My cock against yours? You’ve never felt this before, have you?”

“No,” Eren called out, his body temperature rising. “N-No, but it feels so good—“

“I’ll show you what it’s like to fuck another man,” Levi growled, rising off of Eren’s lap one more time.

Eren bit into Levi’s shoulder at this sensation, a low heat pooling in the pit of his stomach. This was different, but a good different. Levi was heavy, all muscle and nice, smooth edges.

Eren wanted to speak. He wanted to confess to Levi how long he’s been wanting this, but the words died in his throat, being replaced with indecent moaning.

“You still feeling okay?” Levi asked, dark irises glittering back at him in the dark.

Eren nodded, the front half of his body tingling from loss of contact with Levi.

The neon light from the night club’s sign was their only source of light, peeking through the windows and outlining Levi’s muscular body.

Levi’s member was strained and erect, leaking at the very end. Coarse, black hair was nestled at the base, with a slight trail leading up Levi’s pale abdomen and leaving a dusting of hair across his pecs. Eren followed Levi’s body up. He’s never seen another man so close like this, and it was a stunning experience. The older man was built like a Greek statue, with steep crevices and crafted muscle.

In Eren’s preoccupation with admiring Levi’s body, he didn’t realize that his hands were already roaming the landscape that was Levi’s skin. The raven was also occupying himself with getting the lube open and pouring some onto his fingers.

Levi’s breath hitched and Eren blinked as he realized what was happening.

“It’s been awhile, you’ll have to be patient,” Levi mumbled in a strained tone. “And you’re bigger than I thought, because of course you are.”

“Can I touch you?” Eren whispered, his thumbs digging circles into Levi’s hips.

“You’re already touching me.”

Eren snorted. “Even when I’m under you like this you can’t help but be an asshole, huh?”

“That’s what tends to scare them away, I guess.”

“We’ll see,” Eren murmured, his hand reaching for Levi’s member hypnotically.

He wrapped his hand around the base, making Levi’s body twitch over him. Eren was almost scared at the reaction, loosening his grip and gazing at the man above him.

“It’s good,” Levi assured. “S-Sorry, you can keep going.”

Eren licked his lips and gave Levi an experimental stroke, making the older man groan. Levi shot out a hand to lean against the car seat, his other hand occupied behind himself.

“I’ve never done this before,” Eren mumbled gently. “I just want to make you feel good, Levi.”

“Just keep going,” Levi ordered. “Shit, Eren. You’ve touched your own cock, before, right? Just like that.”

There was something sinful about the way Levi casually bossing him around like that. His voice was deep and his aura naturally authoritarian. Eren wouldn’t mind submitting himself to Levi one single bit.

”You can grip me tighter, brat,” Came the snarl above him. Eren blinked like a puppy, before scrambling to do exactly that. 

Whether it was conscious or not, Eren lowered himself to align his face right beneath Levi’s balls. The smell of Levi’s manhood was intoxicating, moreso than the alcohol. 

Eren’s never given a blow job, but he wanted to make sure Levi felt good too. And so, he allowed his mouth to hang open and for Levi’s cock and balls to drift over the wet tongue. 

“Fuck, Eren,” A strong hand tangled itself in Eren’s hair. His hat had fallen off long ago, but Eren didn’t mind one bit. 

With one hand on Levi’s stomach and the other hand jerking his dick, Eren happily ran his tongue all over Levi’s groin. The taste of sweaty skin filled his senses and Eren shut his eyes. 

They kept at this pace for awhile, with Levi slicking himself open and allowing Eren to run his mouth all over his cock. 

Eren was nearly dizzy from the alcohol in his system and the buzz of his arousal in his gut that he hardly noticed Levi finding his discarded pants. He searched the pockets before pulling out a square of tinfoil, the condoms they had bought together earlier that day.

“That’s ironic, huh?” Levi laughed drunkenly, tearing open the condom and squinting at it in the dark. “Guess we don’t have to worry about the condom not fitting.”

Eren laughed, raising his body. He hummed happily, his head resting on the seat. His body was hot—it was way too hot in the car. His cock was also twitching, straining painfully as he thought of endless scenarios in which he could take Levi. 

“Tired?” Levi sat next to him. “We can take a break, I know this is a—well this is a lot for you.”

“Sure,” Eren hummed. “Just so I wont come so quickly.”

Levi laughed, setting the condom to the side and running his hands through his hair. “That makes two of us.” 

Eren hummed, exhaustion burning the back of his eyes. Though he felt tired, he was much more horny than he ever thought possible. 

Being with Levi was . . . electrifying. It was more intense and pleasurable than his experiences with any girl, but he couldn’t deny the feeling beneath his skin . . . 

The brunet swallowed thickly. Fuck that. 

“I’m ready,” Eren spoke quickly, wanting to rid these bubbling doubts in the pits of his gut. 

-

Levi ended up back in Eren’s lap, as was most comfortable for car sex.

They made out slowly, nothing like the pace back in the nightclub, in the sweat and heat of being in a crowd. This was more deliberate, with the chill from outside seeking in and no one around to bare witness. It was then that Eren never felt truly naked until now, his heart wrenching at the intimacy.

Levi toyed with the golden necklace that sat on top of Eren’s muscled pectorals. He made a joke or two about established religion until his voice died in his throat with the introduction of Eren’s fingers to his ass. 

Eren’s middle two fingers were knuckle deep in Levi, amazed at how well he took it in. Levi was being worked open and he was so into the feeling that Eren couldn’t help but moan. It was so tight he couldn’t believe he was meant to fit in there.

Levi moved his mouth away from Eren’s, causing the younger to suck in a breath at the absence.

“Does it hurt?” Eren whispered, thrusting deeper now with his fingers.

“No,” Levi groaned. “Add another one, hurry.”

Eren followed orders, slipping his forefinger into the tight warmth that was Levi Ackerman.

The raven had Eren caged against his car seat, his muscular arms trapping the brunet. Eren didn’t mind, though. He was fascinated with watching Levi’s facial expressions during all this. He looked strained and focused, yet his flushed cheeks and glazed eyes indicated his arousal.

“Eren, ErenErenEren—“ Levi hushed, biting onto his bottom lip.

Eren blinked. Did he hurt Levi? He was looking almost pained, but he didn’t ask to stop or anything. Eren rotated his fingers and Levi lunged forward with a gasp.

“Right there,” Levi swallowed. “Shit—“

He pressed into that spot again, causing Levi to arch his back and heave for air. Eren was fascinated, something in Levi’s desperate movements awakening something in him.

“Levi . . .”

“Get the condom. Now.”

Eren’s breath hitched at the commanding tone of the man above him. He shook his head slightly, as if to remind himself that this wasn’t a dream. He leaned over and grabbed the once forgotten condom and retreated his fingers out of Levi slowly.

With blind and hurried movements, Eren managed to roll the condom over his rigid erection, shuttering at the small amount of pleasure his own hand offered. Levi, on the other hand, squirted a touch more lube into his hands and reached behind him to slick Eren’s cock.

Levi lowered himself to tease Eren’s length  against his hole, drinking in the sight of Eren throwing his head back and moaning. Eren looked so good like that; his throat bobbing and his brightened eyes melting with arousal.

“I could watch you like this all night,” Levi hummed, licking his lips. “Who knew you’d be such a whore for me?”

Between the alcohol in his system and the hot coil in his gut, Eren almost lost control for his words.

“I just wanna fuck you,” Eren groaned. “Wanna watch you work that tight ass on me.”

“Well said,” Levi teased, teasing the tip of Eren’s cock with his entrance, making the brunet twitch involuntarily. “You gotta beg for it, though.”

“Oh, come on,” Eren’s head snapped back into focus. “Really?”

Levi shrugged.

Eren rolled his eyes and brought his hands up to trace the curves of Levi’s back and pert ass. Levi seemed largely unaffected by this action, if not for his fluttering eyes.

“Please,” Eren mouthed at Levi’s neck, licking a hot stripe around the shell of his ear. “Please let me fuck you. I wanna make you feel good, please . . .”

Eren didn’t afford the time to feel embarrassed at how submissive he was behaving. It felt natural this way, as Levi always has that commanding aura to him. 

“You make a convincing argument,” Levi relented. “Tell me how you want it.”

“Just want you to ride me,” Eren hummed, pressing shallow kisses to Levi’s neck. He brought his hands around the broad back above him, bringing him close. “Want you to take my cock. Let me cum inside you.”

“How endearing,” Levi chuckled, finally allowing Eren to ease into his slick entrance.

Eren went rigid, his cock being enveloped into hot, tight warmth that felt like it was suffocating him. His nails dug into Levi’s soft skin.

Eren let loose a strangled groan. “Ngh—shit, y-you’re so tight. This—This isn’t anything like I ever felt.” Embarrassingly, Eren’s eyes rolled back into his head and he gripped Levi closer. 

Levi’s chest must’ve swelled with pride, since he gripped into Eren’s broad shoulders and began to move, raising and lowering his hips at an agonizing pace.

Levi rode Eren’s cock with an eager showmanship, muttering praise and a relentless drive to bring the other man to orgasm. Eren was impressed that Levi was taking his full length, bouncing and working his cock. 

“You don’t know how good you feel, Eren,” Levi growled, his nails digging into tanned flesh.

Eren licked his lips at the sight. Levi’s hair shadowed his strained expression, sweat dripping down the very ends. Levi’s own cock also bounced and occasionally slipped against Eren’s stomach, a sensation and sight that turned Eren on way more than he’d admit. This was way better than any dream, this was real.

The seconds ticked by, Levi relinquishing control of their pace to allow Eren to thrust upon into him. They filled the van with lewd sounds of skin slapping against skin and guttural moans. Levi spoke more, gripping at his skin and chanting praises like it would kill him if he didn’t.

Eren brought the raven closer to him, allowing open mouthed kisses all over the other man’s pale chest.

He flicked a flat tongue over Levi’s nipple, making the man’s breath tighten and his body shake. Eren continued this action, working his tongue over Levi’s nipple with expertise. He knew this worked on the girls he’s been with, but he didn’t think it would on the ever stoic Levi.

“Touch me,” Levi commanded.

Eren followed the command with bringing one of his hands down to Levi’s weeping cock. He gripped the hot member in his hand, allowing his own thrusts to fuck Levi into the flesh.

“Harder,” The raven ordered, a pale hand finding place on Eren’s neck. Levi gripped a hand around Eren’s muscular neck and squeezed lightly. 

Eren was seeing stars. The pressure on his gut bubbled and his mind drew blank, but he willed himself to keep going.

He slammed into his lover harder, with unforgiving and animalistic thrusts. His mouth sloppily danced all over Levi’s chest now, desperately trying to latch onto his pink bud.

The car moved around them, Eren abandoning all restraint to finish. Levi’s low moans in his ear was just enough.

“I’m—I’m gonna cum,” Eren licked his lips, biting into Levi’s skin.

“Don’t stop, Eren.”

And that was it. Like an electric shock, Eren arrived at orgasm. His hips sputtered and he wasn’t sure if he called out Levi’s name or a swear word. His cock pulsated as he dove deeper into Levi, spilling into him.

Levi came soon after, sticking his face into Eren’s neck and moaning, his breath harsh and hot. Eren felt spurts of fluid land between them, but felt no disgust at the sensation. 

The air was still, the two laying there trying to catch their breath. Eren felt like he couldn’t see. He felt like every nerve in his body was shaking. 

“Shit,” Levi mumbled, finally lifting his body up and off of Eren. Eren groaned at the feeling of loss contact, running his hands over his face.

“What time is it?” Levi squinted into the darkness of the van. “Where’s my fucking pants.”

Eren sighed, the drowsiness hitting him like a truck. All he wanted to do was curl up and fall asleep, but he couldn’t sit here naked in a van out in the parking lot. He pulled off the condom and tied it off the best he could. Then it either rested on the seat or the floor—Eren was too dizzy to remember. 

Eren found his phone quickly, tapping it to life and recoiling away from the sudden brightness. He had a few missed calls, then a bundle of text messages from Armin.

[Armin]
hey, where’d you go???

Hello???

do u know where Levi went????

[2 Missed Calls from Armin]

[Armin]
we’re headed to the van now, meet us there!!!

are u there

[1 Missed Call from Armin]

[Armin]
nvm

u owe me for the Uber btw. Venmo me, nasty ass.

Eren rolled his eyes. He put the phone away and searched the floor of the car for his pants. He felt a tiny surge of embarrassment, just for the possibility of Armin and Erwin catching a glimpse of his earlier activity. But then he decided he was too tired to care.

“It’s 3 in the morning,” Eren replied, almost forgetting Levi’s presence entirely with how quiet he was.

“Want me to drop you off at home?” Levi asked, slipping his shirt on and jingling the keys.

Eren pursed his lips and met Levi’s gaze shyly. “Well . . . I just thought we could go back to your place, if that was okay with you.”

“Oh?” Levi hummed. “If you say so. Put on your seatbelt, I’ll drive.”

“Thanks, Levi.”

Chapter Text

The sound of a vacuum roaring to life was Eren’s first alarm. He jumped slightly, his eyes struggling to open against the bright sunlight that filled the room.

Heat pooled in from the window, crawling over his skin like a second blanket. He began to sweat uncomfortably, making the college student writhe in twisted sheets.

He fell backwards on the bed, a stinging pain hitting his core. He let out a small groan as he raised his arms. He couldn’t believe his mom was vacuuming this early in the morning. He’d have half a mind to tell her—

Wait.

This isn’t my bed.

Eren sat up and looked around, inhaling a deep breath as the details of the room became clear to him, almost as if a fog lifted.

The room was crowded with portraits of the forest and various flora. There was a doorway to the right and a bookshelf to the left, which was also crowded with books and nothing else. Eren looked slightly to the left where there was a giant mirror facing the bed, where he saw a disheveled portrait staring right back at him.

It wasn’t hard to piece together the clues; Eren was in Levi’s room.

Eren suspected it was probably mid-afternoon. Judging from the heat and blazing sun, he would be correct in assuming he slept the entire morning away. He scrubbed the exhaustion from his eyes before looking around the room, as if he expected for some kind of clue as to what he should do next.

His eyes stung and his mouth felt extremely dry, almost like his tongue swelled three sizes. Not to mention the pounding headache that throbbed throughout his skull, causing the room to spin slightly. These nauseous feelings hit Eren like a truck and slowly, he pieced together events from the night before.

His gut tightened as flashes of the previous night ran through his memory. Levi was all over him, pale skin smoothing against his own, dark hair flung over a chiseled jaw and that sinful mouth all over—Eren shuddered.

He ran a hand over the hills of Levi’s bed, the weight of the sex felt swaying over the top of his psyche like an anvil fastened with a rope. As he came to, a deep and coiling sensation overtook his nerve system, making him feel heavy like he were drowning.

Eren was someone who often felt regret. He was also the first to admit that he was a rather impulsive and emotional person, thinking first with his heart and second with his brain. He’s said and done plenty of things that would weigh heavy on his mind and make him feel like an idiot, with no path forward except apologizing profusely.

Except this time, there was no such feeling.

-

After an ordinary trip to the bathroom, Eren made his way down the hallway and into the living room.

He stepped across wooden floors, the creeks and moans of the old wood sounding foreign to his ears. He’s been in this house dozens of times, but there was a new feeling plaguing his movements.

Levi was in the living room, furiously scrubbing at the floors on his hands and knees.

This wasn’t an unusual sight, if not for the disturbed expression on his face. He looked focused and scarily so, almost as if the floor had wronged him personally.

“Hey,” Eren coughed, his stomach knotting at the thought of Levi responding.

The raven looked up, his brows furrowing. Eren took a hesitant step backwards, afraid he might have done something wrong. Levi opened his mouth, but words unsaid disappeared and Levi shut his mouth into a tight line.

“Did I do something wrong last night?” Eren asked, defensiveness edging the tone of his voice. “You look mad at me . . .”

“No,” Levi replied quickly. “You didn’t. Your clothes are on the table.”

The words came short, but they stung all the same. Eren could feel that Levi was on the verge of something—crying, yelling, something—but he couldn’t get it out. No. Perhaps Levi didn’t want those real emotions to come out.

Eren took in a deep breath and looked to the dining room table, finding a set of clothes neatly folded for him. He recognized the clothes as the exact same thing he wore the night he threw a party at his mother’s house.

The night it all truly began.

He walked to the clothes and held them tight in his hands, unsure of what to do next. He could feel Levi’s eyes staring holes into his back, but he was too scared to turn around. He didn’t want Levi to say the words Eren had been fearing since he woke up.

Eren took a moment to feel the room; the dining room was a smaller space connected with the living room. The walls were a warm, beige color and the floors a flattering color of caramel brown. Décor was simple, books everywhere—Eren bit onto his lip as he realized he could see the pond outside. It bubbled and stirred in the sunlight, sparkling and looking as lovely as ever.

He didn’t want Levi to say it out loud. Eren, in all his selfish pride, wanted to be the one to say he had the last word.

“I’m going to call my sister,” Eren turned, clothes in hand. “Thank you, Levi.”

Levi said nothing.

-

Eren sat on the hot sidewalk, the pebbles and stone digging into his jeans. The heat of the concrete wasn’t welcoming in the slightest, as it rose to suffocate Eren. His cheeks felt in flame and he could feel sweat pooling at the corners of his body.

Despite the heat and the sun glaring above him, his bones felt icy cold. His blood was chilled, forcing the college student to hug his knees to his chest.

He shut his eyes and simply waited for the sounds of a car to park in front of him.

The world washed ahead, and for the first time in a long time, Eren listened.

He heard the sounds of birds flying ahead, the stray sounds of dogs barking and cars rolling by in neighboring streets. The world was so large, so magnificent that in that moment, Eren couldn’t help but feel like the smallest person in the world.

And yet his feelings were so big. He felt guilt settle into his stomach along with the aching feeling of disgust. The alcohol was still in his system, slowing down his cells and making him want to turn over and sleep the rest of the day off.

An undefinable amount of time passed before he heard a car screech to a halt in front of him.

Eren blinked up and saw Jean’s familiar red truck in all its faded glory. The paint chipping and the dated exhaust blowing out from behind.

The brunet stood, his ass hurting from the sidewalk and his skin feeling raw from being out in the sun for awhile. He bent to the side and grabbed his back he dutifully prepared in hurried moments of his mother’s absence.

He willed his feet forward and opened the truck door, finding Jean to be looking at him up and down with a questionable look.

“You look like shit,” Jean raised a brow.  

Eren rolled his eyes at the one liner before stepping into the old hunk of metal. He shut the door behind him and settled into his seat, pulling his seatbelt over.

“Where’s Mikasa?”

“Home,” Jean answered, starting the drive off. Eren’s eyes fluttered away from Levi’s house, as it slowly disappeared in the horizon behind. “I didn’t want her to drive here by herself.”

“Ah, good.”

“So, can I ask why the sudden plea for help?” Jean didn’t meet Eren’s eyes. “It’s not like you to go crying to your big sister to come pick you up.”

Eren rolled his eyes. “It’s—it’s none of your business, Jean.”

“Uh—yes the fuck it is? You’re the one wanting to stay at my place, dumb ass. If I wasn’t your brother in law I would have kicked you ass out the second you stepped in. So tell me what happened, Eren!”

“Can we just forget it?” Eren asked miserably, crossing his arms and glaring out the window. “How about your life, huh? You still treating your mom like shit?”

Eren didn’t feel bad for saying that. Jean’s mother was a stubborn, yet very sweet person. She visited often and always cooked fantastic meals. Jean always seemed to be embarrassed and angry with her, for whatever reason.

Jean scowled. “I don’t, for your information. She’s just been grating on the nerves ever since she found out we were expecting. Calling every day, sending me articles, pictures—“ He shuddered.

“I guess I wouldn’t know,” Eren laughed, relaxing into his seat and staring out the window. Jean had a ghost of a smile on his face, making Eren semi-pleased he could deflect the conversation away from himself.

He liked Jean, truly. Despite their heated moments and venomous exchanges, he wouldn’t want anyone else as a brother in law and friend.

They met in high school, quickly becoming the best of frenemies. They played on the same football team together and found each other to be kindred spirits. Armin liked him, as well as the rest of Eren’s friend group so everyone just clicked.

Of course, Mikasa took a strange liking to him as well. As awkward as that phase was for Eren, he was glad that Jean and Mikasa ended up together. They were right for each other, in a weird, respectful and affectionate way. Their mother loved his charming attitude and his willingness to spoil Mikasa, and the rest was history.

Eventually, they pulled up to Jean and Mikasa’s shared home: a one story house with dark bricks, black shutters and a bright red door. It was a very artisan home, suiting to his artistic sister and Jean’s enthusiasm for pleasing his pregnant wife.

Upon entering the home, he was greeted right away by his sister’s twin Pomeranians. They barked joyously at him, running from the kitchen and jumping at his knees.

Eren gave them a few welcoming scratches behind the ears. They nipped and licked at his hands, initiating the first genuine smile of Eren’s day.

He loved Mikasa’s house. He wasn’t sure if it was on purpose, but she modeled it similarly in style to their childhood home. The furniture was dark and the accents bright. Though there were many poor memories of that place not worth remembering, Eren’s heart ached for it.

“Hi, Eren,” His sister greeted, rising from the couch to her brother. She pulled him into a hug, holding her arms tight around him and pressing her cheek against his shoulder. “Ough—you smell like sweat. You should shower.”

Eren rolled his eyes. “Delivering the words with such kindness. Thanks, ‘kasa.”

“Jean?”

“Get your ass in the tub, stinky,” Jean pointed a thumb down the hall.

Chapter Text

Eren spent a prolonged amount of time in the shower, allowing the water to soak through his hair and coat his entire body. For a while, he allowed the liquid to run over his limbs like a constant, distracting stream of nothingness to take his mind off of things. The water was scorching, so much so that the water felt penetrative and raw

There were things that the water couldn’t wash away, though. Mikasa and Jean’s bathroom was clean--certainly not up to Levi’s standards--but there were things Eren couldn’t help but notice that bothered him. Firstly, there were magazines in the bathroom, which was a trend Levi made his verbal disapproval on many times. The backsplash of the shower also looked as unscrubbed as ever, but Eren was willing to chalk that up to his sister being heavily pregnant and Jean being incomptent with cleaning. 

Eren sighed. 

The water also couldn’t rid of this heavy feeling in his bones, either. 

He wasn’t one to get rejected. He was very much used to being the one that was supposed to be everyone’s dreamboat--he was handsome, tall and friendly. Sure, he had his anger issues and impulsivity problems, but those things were commonly overlooked as a straight male. 

Eren miserably ran a hand through his soaking hair, the tangles of dark brown getting caught. 

He was starting to sound like Levi, who, despite being one of the most pragmatic people Eren’s ever met, was surprisingly introspective and highly opinionated on culture, society and all its ugly implications. He’s learned a lot with Levi, like how he’s apparently been raised as the perfect, all-American teen. Eren chuckled darkly, thinking how horribly ironic his life has become. 

After furiously scrubbing at his scalp with his blunt nails and digging into his skin with the cheap, plastic loofa on hand, he left the shower. 

The first object of his attention upon immediately exiting the shower was his phone, a dark rectangle of unassuming technology. 

Eren’s mouth twisted at the thing; he was so used to having it lit up with Levi’s teasing texts, but nothing like that should be expected from this point on. It was disappointing, and Eren hasn’t really allowed himself to feel the disappointment until . . .

Eren raised a hand to his eyes as they felt uncomfortably warm and wet. A shuddering breath overtook his chest and he heaved, in partial disbelief over the appearance of his tears. A blossoming, piercing warmth spread over his sternum and Eren sucked in a breath at this. Shit

“So dumb,” Eren growled to himself, allowing a hollow chuckle to follow shortly after. He grabbed at the towel and dried himself off, screwing his eyes shut. 

Eren allowed his eyes to open long enough to dress himself quickly. He wasn’t able to withstand the glimpses of his body in the mirror above, and so, Eren opened the door and shut the light off quickly. The bathroom was suffocating, and more so than usual. 

In the living room, Mikasa was sitting on the couch with her feet elevated on the coffee table. She looked surprisingly vulnerable like that, which was a rare sight for his usually polished sister who managed to make business casual look effortless. 

Her chin length hair was half up into a spiky ponytail, with strands and chunks of hair falling out of place. She had her humongous reading glasses on and a stained, loose t-shirt. A bowl of chips accompanied her side, where his sister absentmindedly preyed upon. 

“Mom called,” Mikasa mentioned, her voice hesitant. She reached for the small remote next to her and paused the TV. Her big, black eyes looked over at Eren, her bottom lip sucking into her mouth like it always did when she was nervous. 

“What did she say?”

Mikasa sighed. “Well, I just told her you needed space for a little while and that you’ll call her tomorrow.”

Eren was appreciative that his sister didn’t answer his question. She may not have known all the details of the time, but she responded accordingly. He relaxed into the sofa perpendicular to hers, pulling over the throw blanket to cover his lap. 

“Yeah,” Eren affirmed his sister’s worried look. “Uh . . . Things . . . Things got kinda complicated at home.”

“Did--”

“It wasn’t mom,” Eren jutted forth. “It’s something kinda personal.”

He left it there: vague and unwilling to divulge. His sister wasn’t a nosy or gossipy person by any means, but he still felt uncomfortable with the prospect of confessing something so intimate. There was also this underlying fear of how it would sound out loud, too. 

“Hey, Mikasa! So, I slept with mom’s friend/next door neighbor that I’ve had a feud with all summer. Also, he’s a guy and I liked it. Also. he’s a lot older than me and a lot cooler. I might be gay. Thoughts?”  

Mikasa didn’t look phased, as Eren feared. Instead, she gave Eren this pressing, maternal look that made him sick with guilt. It was only natural for her to be this worried. Jean was right: it wasn’t like Eren at all to seek refuge from his sister like this. Eren, who was always fiercely independent and stubborn, was now crying at his sister’s house like a child. 

“I . . .” Eren didn’t know where to start. The words died in his mouth as thoughts all crossed each other in his brain. He wasn’t sure where to begin or how to say it. 

So he started from the beginning. He divulged how he met Levi, how he felt about his initial presence in mom’s house as well as his general uppity attitude about everything. He told her about the house party, and how Levi saved Eren’s ass when he didn't have to and how shitty Eren treated him for awhile. Eren went on to talk about his friendship with Levi, and how the older man was a total ass at times, though he had one of the fondest hearts Eren’s ever met. And that much was true, of course. Eren could see the traces of humility in Levi whenever he spoke about Erwin, or Hanji and her kids. He could see the care and gentle nature whenever Levi tended to his garden or spoke about his house plants. 

Eren spoke about last night. He mentioned not remembering precise details, like where the club was or frankly, what Levi was even wearing. All he remembered was the gut instinct drawing him to Levi like a magnet. It felt inevitable to him, the way he crashed into Levi and dragged the older man to the van. He didn’t speak much on the details, since the audience was his sister, after all. 

Mikasa didn’t seem to mind, though. She was a good listener, not interrupting a single time. Eren would give her pauses to allow her input, but the input was never given. She only had this slight knit on her brows, indicating that she was having trouble processing all this information from her brother. 

“And uh . . . yeah, this is where we are,” Eren finished, feeling a little hot with embarrassment. He just told his sister all the intimate details of his relationship with Levi, which was a privilege that even Armin didn’t have. 

It felt strange to let it all out, but he was glad he did. 

“Wow,” Mikasa murmured, her eyes dropping to the floor while racing back and forth. Eren knew she had plenty of words to offer him, and he was a little scared to hear it. 

“Does Mom know?”

Eren felt an electric shock run through him. “What?! God, no.”

Mikasa looked stern. “Eren, I . . . I don’t know what to make of this.”

“I know,” His voice fell quieter, as if he were ashamed. “I don’t know either. It’s fucked up.”

“How old is he?”

“I dunno, maybe 35?” Eren’s voice got quiet. 

Mikasa’s eyes flew open and Eren winced for a moment, suddenly aware of how horrible that sounded. It was a chilling reaction, sending an ice cold shudder through his gut. 

Eren,” Mikasa scolded. “You’re 20 . That man is closer in age to Mom. You know that, right?”

Eren scoffed, impatience edging his voice. “Yeah, I can do simple math, Mikasa.”

It wasn’t like he never thought of their age gap. It plagued every thought that succeeded one about Levi. He couldn’t help but notice their difference in cultural references, their sense of humor and their general maturity. This kind of shit always disheartened him, so it was annoying that Mikasa would assume Eren didn’t care to dote on this very important factoid. 

“You can’t do simple common sense,” She snapped harshly. “How could you let this man take advantage of you—?”

“It wasn’t like that!” Eren snapped, his fists clenching. “God damn it, did you not listen to a single word I said? I know he’s older than me, a lot older, and I know he’s—he’s Mom’s friend or whatever but I was the one who initiated it, Mikasa! He kept asking me if I was sure, and if I was okay, so it wasn’t whatever weird situation you’re thinking it is.”

Mikasa quieted down, but the fire in her eyes let Eren know that she wasn’t remorseful over her feelings. 

“Besides, he clearly didn’t want anything to do with me after,” Eren muttered. 

Mikasa was quick to respond. “That’s worse, Eren. Even though you think Levi might not have used you, and maybe he didn’t, I don’t know, but now he’s—he’s gonna treat you like garbage after?”

“Did you let me into your house to make me feel like garbage, too?” Eren’s voice raised. Mikasa flinched at this, making Eren feel a pang of guilt that quickly vanished. 

Her pink lips pressed into a harsh line before sighing once more. “You’re right. I’m sorry—you’re right.”

A silence passed between them, which allowed Eren to relax once more. He relaxed into the couch and shut his eyes with his arms crossed. With his head tilted back onto the sofa, his thoughts began to anchor and settle in his brain. 

“What are you going to do?” Mikasa asked curiously. 

Eren sighed and brought his arms up to rest over his eyes. “I want to sleep right now. This sucks, obviously. I didn’t think he could do that to me, you know? I didn’t think that one day he would just look at me with such a . . .”

Blindness.  

“It was like he wasn’t even seeing me,” Eren croaked, his lips pressing together. He was irritated that his eyes were warm and wet again. “I dunno. It’s dumb.”

“It’s not dumb,” Mikasa assured quietly. “He meant a lot to you. Even Mom saw it.”

Eren froze. “What did Mom say?”

Mikasa didn’t hesitate. “She would just say that you looked happier with Mr. Ackerman. She thought he was such a good influence for you, like he was your role model or—or—new dad figure or something. She was probably just happy to have you out of the house.”

The two siblings shared an easy chuckle between them. 

“Imagine the look on her face when she finds out that her son just had weird, repressed sexual feelings towards him,” Eren mumbled miserably, his attempt at finding humor in the situation falling flat. 

Mikasa looked troubled. “Did you want to stay out here with Jean and I, then?” 

“Until I can get my head screwed on right,” Eren replied, his voice sounding lost in a place that was neither here nor there. “I don’t think I can stand to be at home right now.”

Where Levi was right next door.

Mikasa understood this, though. 

That was the thing about Mikasa. As willful and stubborn as she was about taking care of others, she was surprisingly patient and conscientious with her brother. She was always the one to take care of him, being the cool presence his fire needed. 

“I’ll have Jean get us some blankets and pillows,” Mikasa reached for her phone. “We’ll have a sleepover in the living room.”

“Just like old times, huh?” Eren teased his sister, poking her foot with his. 

“I’m a creature of habit,” She smiled back at him.

Chapter Text

In the morning, Eren woke up groggy, having slept on the floor tangled in foreign smelling blankets and tough couch pillows. It was a restful night of sleep, as Eren slept soundly, but he had no dreams. His sister migrated to the sofa, where she lay sprawled and snoring. 

Before he decided to get up to call his mom, he sat there to appreciate his sister for a minute or two. She looked unkempt and exhausted, but glowing and fierce at once. Her stoic and innocent look was hardened by pregnancy, but Eren’s never appreciated her more. 

Eren stretched his arms up and over his shoulders, feeling aching joints pop. He stifled a groan and got to his feet, deciding to step out to the kitchen. His phone was charging on the counter, half dead and empty with no notifications. He picked up the cool device and tapped it to life before calling his mother. 

“Eren?” His mother’s voice broke through the other line. There was no ‘hello’, or ‘good morning’, which was unusual for his polite mother. 

Eren only took a deep breath, bracing himself as if he were about to get yelled at. Guilt immediately flooded his system, as if his mother knew everything that’s transpired over the past two days. His gut wrenched, remembering that Levi and his mother kept close contact often. Worry plagued his thoughts and emotions, wondering if the straightforward Levi would be tactless enough to tell Eren’s own mother about what happened. He wouldn’t, would he? 

“Hey,” Eren gulped, trying his best to regulate his breathing. 

A relieved sigh came from the other line. “Oh, Eren. I’m so glad you’re safe. You had me worried half to death, you know!”

Eren was relieved, too. Knowing his mother, she most definitely would’ve brought up Eren spending the night with Levi right away, but it seems she was kept in the dark. Somehow, that seemed worse. Eren felt sick. 

“I’m sorry, Mom,” Eren’s sentence faltered. His brain drew blanks at any excuses he could muster. “I—I just uh . . . Things got crazy hanging out with Armin . . . and I asked Mikasa to pick me up.”

!Ay, pinche pendejo! Your sister is pregnant and ready to pop any day now, Eren!” His mother scolded. “Ugh, you shouldn’t do that! Next time you ‘get crazy’, or whatever, I want you to come straight home, do you hear me, Eren Jaeger?”

“Yeah, I hear you, mom.”

“I don’t care how messed up you get, I want to know my son is safe. I was ready to call the police. You’re going to kill me, you know.”

Eren chuckled, a curl of warmth filling his gut at his mother’s warm scolding. There was no venom in her words, only wary and loving grief. This warm feeling was soon replaced by a storm of cold, as he remembered the terrible and twisted secret he was hiding from her. 

“How long do you plan on camping out there, huh?” His mother asked, softer this time. Her voice lowered. He knew her question was coded for something else, something Eren wasn’t quite ready to answer. 

“I’ll be okay,” Eren answered her question honestly. “I just need some space right now.”

“Oh?”

He felt nervous. “Is . . . Is it okay if I stay here until school starts?”

“No,” His mother’s answer was quick. “But . . . I’ll let you. I know you need your space, honey.”

“Yeah . . .” Eren agreed solemnly. His heart felt full, knowing his mother carried her son’s feelings with the gentleness of a newborn bird. “Can I swing by later today to get my stuff?” 

He bit his lip. The only thing on his mind was whether or not he’d see Levi on his small trip back to his mother’s house. He hoped not. He hoped, like himself, Levi would hole himself in his room and wallow. 

There was a selfish part of him that wished Levi was feeling all the sorts of pains and angst that he himself was feeling.

His mother was quiet for a minute. “Yes. B-But Eren, it’s . . . I—I didn’t do anything to upset you, did I?”

“No!” Eren’s answer was quicker. “No, not at all. I love living with you. Uh—Armin and I got into a little fight and I need a change of pace.” His lies came out quickly. His breath felt short at the prospect of hurting his mother’s feelings so easily. How callous his words had sounded!

But he couldn’t tell her the truth about Levi. Not yet, and perhaps not ever. There were many reasons why their affair was forbidden and taboo, their age, gender, social standing—Eren felt sick. He wanted to stuff these feelings with lies until he couldn’t breathe anymore. 

His mother believed it easily. “Oh, I’m sorry, baby. Well, I hope you guys can figure it out. You’ve been best friends since forever.”

Eren smiled, but felt nothing. His mother’s advice meant nothing, as it was simply a soothing wave for a wound that did not exist. 

“We will,” Eren attempted to soothe his mother’s nerves. “I should go now, though. Mikasa wanted me to go to the supermarket with her. I’ll see you later today?”

“Yes, I’ll be home.”

“Great. Bye, mom. Love you.” 

“Love you too, Eren. Stay safe.” 

Eren hung up the phone and sighed, a weight falling onto his limbs. It felt as though gravity had increased tenfold on him, and he wasn’t sure where to move next. 

Luckily, he didn’t have to decide. 

“Eren?” Came the strangled voice of his sister. Her voice was strained, twisted and sent an array of alarm bells through Eren’s system. 

Eren nearly dropped the phone as he hurried back to the living room, where his sister laid on the couch. She was fully awake now, her face pink with strain and her breathing heavy. 

“Eren, don’t freak out, okay?” Mikasa breathed, her dark eyes meeting Eren’s green ones. “But I need you to call Jean from his work phone number and tell him, very calmly, that he needs to meet me at the hospital. Okay?” 

What—?

Eren couldn't think. He was immobilized—paralyzed in fear. Of course his sister was pregnant, that was no shock or new development, but he didn’t think about her potentially going into labor right in front of him! His breathing became shallow and the ground tilted beneath him. What was he supposed to do—? 

“Eren!” His sister snapped once more. “Call Jean now and drive me to the hospital. It’s going to be St. Maria’s Women’s Hospital off Chapel Drive. Do you know where that is?” 

Eren blinked. “Uh—“

“Ugh. Get me the keys, I’ll warm the car up and you call Jean. Got it? Catch.” 

Mikasa tossed her cellphone towards Eren, who stumbled over himself to catch the device. 

Before he could even protest or speak a single word, Mikasa forced herself up from the couch and waddled to the dining room table. She grabbed the keys in one fluid motion and turned to the front door, her movements strained but hurried. 

Eren felt like an idiot. Shaking his head free of invasive thoughts, he called Jean right away. The phone line trilled, which sent sinking feelings of doubt into Eren’s core. 

“Mikasa?” Came Jean’s garbled voice from the other end. 

“Uh, it’s me,” Eren said dumbly. “So erm . . . Mikasa’s going into labor and we need you at the hospital.” He paced around the dining room now, his mind swirling with so many thoughts.

“Fuck, are you serious?” Jean’s voice raised. “If you’re kidding right now, Jaeger, I will personally—“

“I’m not kidding!” Eren whined back. “Damn it, just get to the hospital! D-Do you know if I need to grab anything, o-or—?”

“Yes,” Jean replied quickly, shuffling noises muting his voice slightly. “There’s a blue duffel bag in our closet that has all of the stuff Mikasa needs. Grab it and go. Do not let her drive on her own—“

“Eren!” Mikasa snapped, the front door opening so quickly it made Eren jump. “What are you waiting for?! I’m about to have my baby!” 

Eren,” Jean’s voice grew serious and dark. “Don’t be scared of her, okay? Just grab the duffel bag and smile, alright? Don’t—“

“Enough of that,” Mikasa snatched the phone from Eren’s hand, scratching her brother with her nail. “Get in the car. I want to pick up some Starbucks on the way and we’re gonna be late if we don’t leave now.” 

The brunet blinked at his sister like she just grew two heads. “Mikasa, are you insane? We can’t get Starbucks—“

“Eren?” Jean’s voice sounded farther away but all the more urgent. “Don’t worry, Eren! I’m on my way! Mikasa, baby, I’ll get you the Starbucks. Please don’t give birth before I get there.” 

“Shut up, Jean,” Mikasa snapped before hanging up the phone. She gave Eren a wild stare. “Ready to go?”

Eren wanted to cry. 

-

Mikasa shook her drink. 

“It’s empty, can you toss this for me?” She asked, leaning over her hospital bed with the empty plastic cup in hand. 

Eren stared at his sister before gingerly taking the cup and throwing it in the trash can. He circled around the room before plopping right onto the sofa next to Jean, who nervously chewed at his nails. 

“I thought the baby would’ve come out by now,” Eren spoke aloud, knowing his dumb statement would ease Jean’s nerves ever so slightly. 

Jean scoffed. “She’s having contractions, dumb ass. Labor can last 8 hours. Didn’t they teach you this shit in school?” 

Eren excused Jean’s shitty attitude for today. 

Eren sighed and leaned back on the sofa, his feet spread forward and his arms behind his back. He knew better than to stress himself out and be worried over nothing—he figured out a long time ago that if Mikasa could be coolheaded, so could he. 

The only thing bugging him right now was Jean, who was so on edge it grated on Eren’s nerves. Mikasa was getting short as well, finding the bickering between her husband and brother less than appreciated at the moment.

“Jean, my mom says she’s here, but she’s lost,” Mikasa spoke. “Do you mind finding her?” 

Jean stood quickly. “Yes. Yes, thank god. I could use the air. Don’t have the baby while I’m gone.” 

“I’ll try,” Mikasa sang as her husband crossed the room and left. 

The two siblings breathed a sigh of relief. 

“He was making me nervous,” Mikasa muttered, tucking her phone away. She reached for a book and opened it to a random page. “I have no clue why he’s so worried. I feel fi—“ 

Her sentence was interrupted by a wince. Eren sat up, but his sister glared at him. The icy stare was enough to keep Eren quiet, and so, he did. 

Mikasa tucked her lips into her mouth and sighed. Eren could tell she was slightly nervous, despite her blank face and calm demeanor. After all, this was her first child to be born and it was something terrifying to think about. Eren couldn’t ever possibly relate. 

“Do you guys have baby names yet?” 

Mikasa huffed a bit, her eyes sparkling and her smile soft. “Not really. We thought we would find the perfect name when we saw her for the first time.” 

Eren nodded. The silence filled the air once more. 

“Did you tell Dad you were here?” Eren asked idly, wanting to discuss anything but Mikasa’s impending birth.

Mikasa’s lips tightened. “Yes. But I told him I only wanted Mom here and he seemed to understand.”

”I don’t know why you’re still talking to him,” Eren scoffed, his own voice sounding surprisingly bitter to his own ears.

”Because he’s my father,” She replied. “And I . . .”

He disagreed with Mikasa instinctively. He wanted to scream at her that she was wrong, that you shouldn’t simply forgive someone because of familial ties. It was foolish, really, but Eren knew better than to start a fight with his sister who was close to giving birth. Eren had so much to say. He wanted to rip into her and demand why she was being so welcoming and warm to that man, who did nothing but hurt their family for years. 

Mikasa understood this though, judging by the guilty look in her eyes. 

“I don’t want to hate him, Eren,” Mikasa said softly. “I don’t approve of what he did, but . . . This is the man that adopted me and took me in as his own. I owe him a lot, despite . . . everything.” 

Eren softened. He never thought about it that way, selfishly enough. The brunet was almost kicking himself in the ass for not putting himself in Mikasa’s shoes! He slumped over. 

“I think it might be worth reaching out to Dad, soon,” Mikasa murmured. “He has his problems, but he never treated you and I poorly and . . . I don’t know, I’m sorry if I sound stupid.”

“You don’t sound stupid,” Eren said softly. And he believed that. “I just need time right now, I guess.” 

Mikasa smiled small at him, which made Eren feel all the more guilty. He knew that he had his own selfish reasons for wanting to alienate his father, his mother’s hurt being one of them, but he never once considered how alienated Mikasa might feel. 

“Mikasa, honey?” The door opened and his mother stepped through, scaring the both of them. 

She was carrying a tray of Starbucks drinks with Jean close behind. He was holding a couple of wrinkled McDonald’s bags, looking relived there was another presence besides his irksome brother-in-law.

Carla embraced her daughter tightly before pulling away and rubbing at her back. 

They exchanged a few words about the kinds of medicine Mikasa intended to take as well as how she felt. In the presence of a woman, especially her mother, Mikasa visibly relaxed. Carla didn’t leave her side, though, only taking her hand and rubbing it. 

Something yellow landed in Eren’s lap and it took him a moment before he realized Jean tossed a cheeseburger into his lap. Jean, who also relaxed in the presence of Carla, leaned against the wall and began munching on his own burger. Eren took his cue and ate quickly, anticipating that he had a long night ahead of him. 

Solitary moments passed and Eren found his eyes occupied by the television, where he watched the evening news with vacancy as he finished his cheeseburger. He tried his best to ignore his mother’s presence, as he had not forgotten about the potential of her knowing about Levi. 

Carla stood, sighing and stretching. She looked over to her son, a sad look in her eyes. 

“Eren?” Her voice was clear. 

Eren sucked in a breath. “Mom?” 

“Hallway, please?” 

Eren wanted the ground to swallow him. “Yeah, sure.” 

Mikasa gave him a sympathetic look.

Chapter Text

“This hospital is so confusing,” Carla laughed quietly, her tired eyes blinking against the harshness of the fluorescent lights above. “God, it’s like a maze.”

Eren chuckled back, but his stomach felt twisted in knots. He was scared to death, to be honest.

He knew how his mom operated, too. She would reel him in with her gentle and kind nature, making idle conversation until she hit Eren with a difficult question and gave him an intense stare. She was kind, but deadly whenever Eren landed himself in trouble.

His mother had her hair in a clip, with wavy tendrils of hair sticking out at the sides. She wore loose and baggy clothing, which wasn’t unusual for her days off from volunteering. She looked tired, which made the college student feel a little guilty. He wasn’t sure if he was the reason for that.

“I haven’t seen Levi around lately,” Carla mentioned as they reached the vending machine. The eerie blue glow reflected across Carla’s olive shades skin. “Do you know why he’s been such a shut in all weekend?”

Eren shrugged, attempting to ignore the way the older man’s name sent knots into his stomach. “Um, dunno. I heard he was at Pride with Armin and whoever else, s-so maybe he just partied too hard?” He laughed.

Carla looked skeptical. “Armin?”

“Yeah,” Eren was talking too much, elated the heat was off him.

Carla didn’t falter. “Weren’t you there?” 

Eren couldn’t hear properly. “W-What? Why would I be there?” 

“On the phone this morning,” Carla recalled, her eyes focusing on the ceiling. “You said you were at Mikasa’s because things got crazy with Armin. So weren’t you there?” 

Eren’s stomach sank to the ground. He should know better than to underestimate his mother’s sharp memory. 

“I—I was there with them because Armin wanted me to go. He’s actually dating one of Levi’s friends.”

He apologized to Armin in his head. He wasn’t intending on outing Armin’s taboo relationship, but it was only to save his own ass. Eren made a mental note to grovel to Armin later.

Carla’s eyes widened. “Eren, are you serious? That’s a big age gap, isn’t it?”

Eren wanted to vomit. He was relieved his mom fell into that part so easily, forgetting about Eren’s potential involvement. “O-Oh, I—I don’t know if it’s that bad. Th-They like each other, don’t they?”

Carla shook her head. “Still, honey . . . A big age gap like that is rough. I dated a man like that in college.”

“What, seriously?” Eren couldn’t help but scoff. His mother wasn’t one to catch people off guard for her own entertainment, so Eren knew she wasn’t joking, but still . . .

“Yep,” Carla rocked back and forth on her feet, staring down the list of drinks. “It was my freshman year and I met this older man right before I found your father. He was twenty years older than me.”

Eren jumped. “Whu—Mom, twenty years?”

“I was young,” Carla insisted, sounding more indignant than embarrassed. “He was my calculus professor and very handsome—well, at least to me. A real grouch, but he was a bit of a softie.”

“What happened?” Eren blinked.

Carla shrugged, looking embarrassed. Her glittery eyes fell to the floor, stained with hurt over memories long ago.

“We were too different, I guess,” Carla murmured, tucking her loose hair behind her ears. “I had to take care of your abuela and finish school and he . . . wanted a wife. I mean, you couldn’t blame him—he was almost 40 for God’s sake.” She turned to her purse and began fishing around in it, moving various items about and generally causing a ruckus.

Eren wasn’t sure what to say. His heart leapt at the prospect his mom went through an eerily similar thing at his age, but there was also this residual feeling that this would lead to a lecture that would crush him. Suddenly, he didn’t want her to speak anymore. Eren’s curiosity over his mom’s first love affair had been squashed.

“And now that I’m well over 40, I could not imagine being with someone young enough to be my kid,” Carla mused, chuckling a bit.

She minded to herself quite well, inserting dollar bills into the machine as if her words weren’t chewing up her son’s heart and spitting it out.

“It wasn’t ever supposed to work out, you know?” Carla pressed a giant button on the machine. “I was a very different person when I was 18 versus now. How ridiculous, huh? A little creepy if you ask me—“

“I’m gonna head back to Mikasa’s room,” Eren interrupted, the back of his eyes stinging. “Sorry—I’m—I just don’t wanna talk about this anymore.”

Carla’s expression melted. “Honey, I’m sorry—is-is this why you and Armin have been fighting?”

It felt like a sword stabbed right through Eren’s core. He had forgotten about his lie, but grateful his mom remembered. He was relieved his mother wasn’t grilling him about Levi, but it didn’t mean he was in the clear.

“Something like that.”

Eren turned around, feeling the careful stare of his mother on his back.

-

Eren ended up being sent back to Mikasa’s house.

Jean and Mikasa both agreed they needed someone to watch the dogs while they were in the hospital for a few days. Eren was okay with this, as the thought of watching his sister give birth was not an appealing one in the slightest.

Carla suggested that Eren stop by the house to officially pack up his things. This time, she seemed a bit more sure about encouraging Eren to stay with his sister, perhaps believing their conversation earlier finally made sense. And it did, but not in a way she would understand.

Eren took Jean’s truck back to his house. The entire drive there, he was sick with worry.

Night fall was soon, the sky being painted with soft, pumpkin shaded hues of orange and lilac purples. It was a breathtakingly gorgeous array of colors, but Eren only felt dread as he drove closer to his mother’s house.

He shouldn’t be scared—Levi was in a house over. It wasn’t like he was their roommate, for crying out loud! But still, the idea of seeing the older man and his darkened stare was sickening. In fact, the idea of seeing his house was sickening.

The first thing he knew was that he didn’t regret his one night stand with Levi—not in the slightest. Was it strange and new and scary? Yes, absolutely it most definitely was.

He clenched the steering wheel.

But Eren loved it. He’s had amazing sex before, and it was always fun and great and enjoyable in the way sex with women can be, but sex with Levi was an entirely different playing field. Levi’s body and all his parts was an exhilaration, it was a light switch going off and it was addicting. Levi, showing him a whole new world was like scratching a deep itch that Eren never knew he had.

And he ached. Eren ached because Levi looked at him like he was made of glass or-or a deer about to be hit by a car. There was something off putting about the way Levi stared at him with a melancholic pity. Eren didn’t understand and perhaps he might not ever understand, since Levi looked like he had no interest in speaking with him.

Eren turned up the music, wanting to drown his eardrums out.

-

His mother’s house looked strange, now. Logically, Eren knew nothing changed about the place besides his mother’s absence. There was something about the way it stood that was different; it was almost too menacing to look at.

Eren took steps towards the house, very keenly aware that Levi’s lights were on, indicating that someone was home. His mind began spinning at that—did Levi have a guest over? What was Levi doing, tonight? What did Levi usually do on Monday nights during the summer? Was he cleaning? Was he talking? Was he reading his books with that familiar scrunch in his brow? Was he missing Eren?

His body moved, taking steps to his own front door. His mind screamed at him, wanting him to listen close and to hear any stray voices that would come from Levi’s house. Could it be Levi? Another male voice? Hanji? 

Eren heard nothing. He was standing in the middle of his own front yard staring at Levi’s house with a pained expression. He knew he would hear nothing—Levi was a very polite neighbor. 

“Stop being an idiot, Eren,” He muttered to himself as he stepped forward and ran straight into his house. 

Eren gasped as he unlocked his own front door, the dark shapes of his living room greeting him with a solemn welcome. The shadows were menacing, standing tall and angular like they were about to swallow him whole. 

His breathing was heavy. Eren turned on the light and shut the front door, the privacy of his living room providing bare scraps of comfort.

He ran to his room, his legs static like he’d just run a marathon. His movements were robotic and hurried as he tossed his clothes into a backpack. Eren’s movements were on autopilot, grabbing his cologne, hairbrush, toothbrush and shampoo. He was worried that if he were to slow down, Levi might catch up with him.

He ran out of the house, ignoring the heavy presence in the house next door.

-

The rest of the summer was boring, and delightfully so.

Mikasa came home two days later with a small bundle in her arms. She looked exhausted, but elated and peaceful.

Agnes Jeanelle Kirschtein was a healthy baby, though a bit smaller at 6 pounds and 5 ounces. She had soft, brown hair that laid on her head and giant black eyes. Mikasa was adamant that she looked exactly like her, and Eren was inclined to agree.

Eren fell in love with her right away. Agnes’ arrival cemented Eren’s stay here at Mikasa’s home for the rest of the summer. She was a welcome, calming presence in the house. Jean, who would usually agitate the space with loud outbursts or generally goofiness had muted himself, involving his days with his daughter and work.

Though Agnes’ time was spent sleeping, eating and pooping, Eren refused to leave her side. Her skin was pink, soft and her fingers and toes so small it almost made Eren scared to handle her at times. His heart must’ve grown three sizes because of how precious his niece was.

He was obsessed with her. He was obsessed with this extension of his family that provided him this warmth and purpose he so desperately needed. 

As Eren helped change diapers, feed Agnes, burp her and watch his family coo over her, he couldn’t help but imagine what his own life was like as a baby. He tried to see it: a small, tanned baby with brilliant green eyes that came as a blessing to Grisha and Carla, who once thought they were infertile. Eren must’ve been spoiled to the high heavens. 

Carla and Jean’s mom visited every single day, sometimes at the same time. It was a delight having them around, as they cleaned and harassed Jean to no end. He enjoyed their cooking and their wisecracking conversations. The house was decorated with laughter, amazing food and the wonderful aromas of home cooked meals.

Eren’s father visited a small handful of times, but never while Eren was around; he made sure of that.

Mikasa always gave him a pressing look whenever she mentioned their father, but Eren had no emotional capacity to care or make the effort. He couldn’t—at least not now. It’s been two years since he last spoke to the man, but not an easy two years. It might’ve been for Mikasa, since she wasn’t in the frontlines of the divorce at all—but Eren digressed. The last thing he wanted was to upset his sister who’d just given birth.

The siblings haven’t spoken about their last conversation concerning their father, but Eren expected his sister to corner him later in an effort to defend herself.

It wasn’t needed, though. Eren felt less hostile about his dad nowadays, which would send him into small bouts of guilt over what his mother might think. The college student couldn’t help but feel as though he might be betraying his mother if he were to reach out to his father, but that was a ridiculous assumption. Carla, despite her gripes with Grisha, was not a resentful person. 

Weeks passed. Agnes was healthy, Eren was relaxed and his mother didn’t prod him. Like his sister, he knew his mother had unfinished business with Eren to which he wasn’t looking forward to either.

He had his biweekly appointments with Dr. Brzenska still. The lies, unfortunately, have suffocated his life so much that he has yet to tell the truth about what happened between him and Levi to his therapist. He knew she wasn’t a judgmental person, being a counselor and all, but still. He couldn’t help but feel judged after sleeping with a man 15 years his senior. 

Eren’s friends bothered him to hang out, but he made up some flimsy excuse about helping his sister with his niece. Armin, smarter than the rest, knew better. Eren felt a chill with the idea about confronting Armin, but that conversation was soon to come as well. He was there, after all, and he might be the only person that knew all about the nuances of Eren’s sexuality.

The blond didn’t press, though. He only sent wishes that Eren was doing well and he hoped they would catch up soon.

As the summer ended, Eren was slowly feeling more and more confident to return back home. Thoughts and dreams about Levi were a common occurrence, but Eren felt less dread every time they passed. He was starting to forget how the raven spoke and what it was like to be in such close proximity.

Of course, things never went as Eren planned.

“Mom called again,” Mikasa noted on an unusually chilly summer evening. She was folding laundry while Agnes laid on the floor next to her.

Agnes was plumping out, her deer colored brown hair sprouting wildly from her head and her giant dark eyes staring into the play mobile above her. Agnes was in a padded floor gym with dainty toys hanging over her, occasionally making jingling noises with small silver bells.

Eren was half listening, as he laid on the floor next to Agnes on his phone. He was on his stomach and had his green eyes lazing over his social media; he was looking at Historia’s vacation photos, making note of how gorgeous she looked in a—

“Eren?”

He blinked, closing the app instinctively. “Hm? What did mom say?”

“She said she wants you to come over this week,” Mikasa hummed. “She wanted you to pick up some mail for me and something about fixing up Levi’s car?”

Eren paled. “W-Wait, what?”

Mikasa looked troubled, her lips pressed together. “I tried to make an excuse for you, but you know how Mom is.”

Eren deflated, his forehead pressing to his forearms. His eyes searched frantically back and forth in the micro fibers of the carpet as if they would provide the answers he needed. His chest felt tight and he held his breath, as if he wanted to preserve this moment before his world came crashing back down.

“I can go with you, if you want,” Mikasa suggested quickly. “I can bring Agnes and all—Jean is probably working, but—“

“Please,” Eren picked his head up. “You know I can’t do this alone.”

Mikasa nodded, her eyes serious. “You can count on me, Eren. I won’t let you have a single moment alone with him.”

Chapter Text

The drive to his mom’s house was daunting.

Mikasa and Eren woke up early that day, packing his things and loading everything into Jean’s truck. They both figured that it was about time Eren return home, as school was starting in a couple of weeks.

“Agnes will miss her Uncle Eren,” Mikasa noted early on in the drive.  She shook a toy at her daughter’s face and smiled peacefully, her words meaningful.

Eren was surprised his sister would miss him, to be honest. If he were to describe his sister, it would be a lone cat. She was never one for friends or lingering guests, with the one exception being Jean. In fact, he expected she would have kicked him out within a few days of his stay, and yet, he managed to work his way onto her couch for weeks.

“I’ll try and visit as often as I can,” Eren promised, meeting his sister’s brief eyesight in the rear view mirror.

Mikasa snorted. “You better. If I don’t hear from you soon, I might have to drive down there myself.”

Eren laughed and continued on with the drive. He will be the first to admit that his month or so off with Mikasa was much needed. He was able to get closer with his sister, Jean and their precious daughter. Mikasa and Agnes in particular were able to fill Eren with a motivation that no one else could provide at the moment and he couldn’t have been more grateful.

But now he was going back home.

Eren took a troubled breath, his sister noticing right away.

“You’ll be okay, Eren,” His sister assured, her words unsteady, like she couldn’t find the right words to say. Eren didn’t fault her. He wasn’t sure what he would want to hear, anyway.

 -

“Hello, my babies!” Carla grinned from her porch as Jean’s truck creaked into her driveway.

Their mother looked stunning today, adorning a bright sundress and a large hat with sunglasses. Over the summer, their mother has looked exponentially more relaxed and at peace. The smile that bled into her face was filled with more light and love than it had been in a very long time.

“You’re dressed up today,” Mikasa scoffed, hopping down from the truck. She turned to unbuckle her newborn daughter from the seat, her mother quickly approaching.

“Levi and I went to the lavender fest this morning,” She noted, her words quick and absent as she unbuckled Agnes from her seat. “Ugh—it was so gorgeous. I spent way too much money, though.”

Eren averted his eyes and swallowed thickly at the mention of Levi’s name. For some reason, it was a little jarring to hear that Levi and his mother were hanging out. Of course, they were friends but they didn’t ever really hang out in the time Eren was in Levi’s backyard.

“How was it?” Mikasa asked politely. 

“So, so, so amazing, Mikasa,” Their mother sighed contentedly. “Mr. Ackerman is so funny, don’t you know?”

He stole another glance at his mom, who was coddling a blinking baby in her arms. She was paying him no attention, and yet, Eren couldn’t help but stare at her.

His mother was dressed nicely. Eren wondered why she had to dress so nicely when it was just Levi she was spending time with. Was there a reason for that? Was she hoping to impress him? 

Eren burned. This was ridiculous. He shouldn’t be jealous of his mother—especially when Levi was—

“Levi’s inside,” Carla threw her head over her shoulder, her black hair catching the sun light. “He wants to meet Agnes! And Eren, you better be nice and say hi. He’s been asking about you.”

Eren looked at Mikasa right away, unable to breathe. Her lips tightened, almost as if she was holding back a smile, but her eyes shone with worry. 

Eren took a deep breath in. 

-

The front door was a welcome front of cold air. Mikasa entered before Eren, with her body placed protectively in front of him. The house looked no different, but something about the building made entering it somewhat daunting.

Carla was first, and as soon as she stepped through the door, she took a deep breath and said, “Levi, look at my precious granddaughter!”

“Oh, she’s gorgeous,” Levi’s cool voice replied.

Eren wanted to look at the floor. Feeling the offensive and tense presence sitting on the couch, he jerked his head away to close the door. He recognized the ink black hair against pale skin and took a sharp breath, as if it hurt him.

He pressed a flat hand against the door and began toeing off his sneakers, finding sudden interest in the way his laces overlapped with one another. He heard his mom’s voice, which was then interrupted by the low reverb of a familiar one.

He didn’t remember Levi’s voice being so deep. Has it always been that deep?

Eren dug his nails into the wood of the door, hearing only a faint ringing and the sound of his heartbeat. Where was Mikasa? Where was Agnes?

He was shaking. Eren needed to leave. But his shoes—they were off. Why did he take his shoes off?

Eren remembered the day he first met Levi. That seemed like a lifetime away, despite being four or so months ago. He remembered walking into the house—hearing low voices talk in the kitchen. He remembered his mother’s honeyed voice cooing over how old Eren had just turned. Right, it was a few weeks after his 20th birthday.

“Eren?”

He couldn’t remember what he thought back then.

Did he think back then?

No, why would he?

He didn’t know.

Eren.”

He froze.

Fuck.

He didn’t turn. Where was Mikasa?

Escuchando, Eren?” His mother’s shrill voice rose, making Eren flush with embarrassment. He hadn’t realized they were calling him.

Eren turned and gulped as he realized all eyes were on him.

His eyes went instantly to his mom, who was sitting on the couch with Agnes sitting upright against her chest. She made direct eye contact and rolled her eyes with a playful smile, which made Eren relax only a fraction.

“This kid doesn’t listen,” She shook her head, nudging Levi playfully. “How’d you get him to build an entire pond for you when I can’t get him to clean the dishes, huh?”

Levi was stunning to look at, and that’s what upset Eren the most. He looked more handsome as Eren remembered, with naturally aloof, sculpted features and downturned, pouty lips. His eyes were crisper than Eren remembered, shadowed by bags beneath his eyes and looking as if they could see right through you. He tried to not look at Levi’s body for too long.

Levi shrugged and his lips fell open. It took a few seconds of processing to realize Levi began talking. “I bargained him with food. That always works with kids his age, doesn’t it?”

Levi spoke as if he rehearsed it; he was cool, confident and unassuming in all senses of the words. His voice was smoky and deep, spoken within his chest and filling Eren’s stomach and throat with warmth. But he . . .

He thinks I’m a kid?

Eren blushed. His eyes fell to the floor as the chuckle of his mom rang in his ears. A wash of shame fell over him like a bucket of ice cold water once the weight of Levi’s words sunk to his stomach. He could feel his heart beat ringing against his rib cage and against his eardrums.

Eren looked to Mikasa, who swore to separate the two when necessary but to his surprise, she had a trained glare focused on the older man. It was hardened, subtle—protective. He gulped and looked back at his mom, a little grateful Mikasa decided to not intervene after all.

“So what’s wrong with your car?” Eren asked, his voice sterner than he expected it. Carla and Levi seemed surprised as well, his mother’s playful smile dropping and Levi’s brow raising.

“I need to replace my brake pads,” Levi replied, his voice even. “I got all the parts together, I just need someone to do it for me.”

Carla shook her head. “Oh, those auto mechanic shops always charge extra if they get a sense you don’t know what you’re talking about. Thank goodness we have Eren, huh?”

Levi gave Eren an up and down look. “Thank goodness.” 

“I can get started right away,” Eren blurted, not wanting to be anymore involved in this conversation than he already was.

Cálmate, Eren,” His mother scolded softly. “You guys just got here! Why don’t you sit down and catch up with us, hm?”

Mikasa spoke. “Eren has plans later today, so he wants to get this done as soon as possible.”

Eren blinked, surprised his sister lied so easily to their mom.

“You kids are acting funny today,” Carla noted, crossing her arms protectively over Agnes. “Well, fine, if that’s the case then I guess we can go next door to fix Mr. Ackerman’s car.”

-

“Oh, shoot,” Carla froze in place right as they were about to step into Levi’s driveway. “I forgot my stupid bread in the fridge—! Mikasa, honey, can you come back with me to get that sorted out? I have a bake sale to get to tomorrow and this bread needs to be perfect!”

Mikasa looked cautiously at her brother before looking back over at her mom. “I really think I should be here with Eren.”

“For what?” Carla asked, jutting her hip out. “Let your brother deal with the car! Bring Agnes inside and we’ll make some bread together. How does that sound?”

“Mom—“ Mikasa looked pained.

“It’s fine,” Eren spoke out. His sister looked at him with an urgent look in her dark eyes, but Eren nodded. “It’s fine. You guys can go. Mr. Ackerman and I can do this on our own.”

Eren would chain his mother and sister’s feet to the ground if it meant he couldn’t have a solitary second alone with Levi. But his mom was acting strange, and he didn’t want to act stranger, so he allowed them to leave. Letting his mother believe that everything was normal and dandy was crucial now.

“We’ll be right back,” Mikasa promised, holding Agnes close to her. “I’ll be inside, okay, Eren?”

“Goodness, so dramatic,” Carla sighed. “Joined at the hip, just like when you were kids. Come on.”

Eren watched the women carry his niece away and inside their home, where the door slamming shut echoed in Eren’s ears.

Then there were two.

Levi and Eren were on the side of Levi’s driveway, a foot or two away from his car. The weight between them was the heaviest Eren’s ever felt—heavier than their drunken escapade together, even.

Eren opened his mouth, but Levi beat him to the punch.

“How much does she know?” Levi asked, crossing his arms.

Eren chuckled hollowly. “Straight to the point, huh?”

“Your sister has a mean glare,” Levi stated. “I can’t imagine you’d stay silent during the weeks you’ve been staying at her house. So how much does she know?”

Eren didn’t know what to say—he didn’t plan for this. He was bracing himself for minutes of awkward silence as he drowned himself in changing out the brake pads of Levi’s car. He wasn’t expecting Levi to confront him or even say anything directly to him, but Levi always surprised him.

“Everything,” Eren admitted, scratching the back of his clammy neck. “I told her . . . everything.”

Levi didn’t look phased or annoyed. “I see.”

“Yeah . . . I’m sorry if I wasn’t supposed to do that, or-or whatever. I dunno if you wanted to keep what happened low-key.”

“Why should I care?” Levi shrugged. “What you say or do is none of my business.”

Really?

Eren scoffed. He shouldn’t be surprised at the way those words stung bleeding holes right into his heart; Levi was Levi. He delivered apathy served cold and Eren should be no exception.

There was a part of Eren that was pissed at such coldness. As someone who felt every emotion to the highest degree, he couldn’t begin to understand the thought process of someone so uncaring and-and—

“You’re a fucking asshole,” Eren bit out. “You don’t care, huh?”

Levi’s eyes darkened. “Eren—“

“No,” Eren cut forth. “You are such a liar, Levi. You cannot tell me you don’t care, okay? That isn’t the fucking truth and you know that.” Eren grit his teeth at how his sentence wavered at the end.

“That’s not what I meant,” Levi shook his head, his voice urgent-sounding. “Listen, Eren, we shouldn’t talk about this. It’s—it’s not right.”

Eren’s voice raised. “What do you mean, ‘It’s not right’—?”

“Okay, I’m shitting the bed here,” Levi laid out flat hands. “I understand that. God, I teach English at a collegiate level but I can’t even speak—“

“So maybe you shouldn’t speak,” Eren replied, agreeing viciously. “We shouldn’t speak, okay? Hand over the parts so I can fix your fucking car and then I can go.”

Levi grew quiet, his dark eyes searching Eren’s fiery green ones. He opened his mouth, and Eren pathetically thought that in that moment, Levi might argue. He hoped that Levi would pull him aside, tell him he missed him, he wanted to fix things—something.

“Okay,” Levi agreed. “You’re—I understand. The tools and new brake pads are on the side of the house next to the shed.”

Eren clenched his fists, an uncomfortable clawing feeling raking at the sides of his ribs from the inside. This was totally different from their dynamic before, in which Eren would say something snappy and Levi would do his best to fix it, even if his attempts were subtle.

“I’ll be inside,” Levi said, his words firm yet calm, as if he were speaking to a wild animal. “Let me know if you need to find a tool or something.”

That stung. Levi turned and walked away briskly, his moves hurried and stiff.

Levi didn’t say, ‘Let me know if you need me’, but ‘Let me know if you need to find a tool or something’. To Eren, this was a clear indicator of Levi wiping his hands clean of Eren and making their neighborly relationship apparent.

Eren’s world spun. Bubbling feelings of doubt, hurt and rage brewed inside of him at that horribly disappointing exchange.

He wasn’t sure what he was meant to expect from the older man, but he didn’t expect Levi to confirm his worse nightmares! Eren wanted for Levi to come down on his immature level, to throw caution to the wind and fight with him like lovers do in the movies.

Instead, Levi completely shut down even the smallest indication of an argument and walked away, somehow winning the whole exchange.

Eren took a deep breath out. He felt thoroughly defeated.

Chapter Text

Eren stuck his tongue out as his he pressed his body weight forward. His tanned arms flexed and gleamed under the sun as he pressed onto the car jack. His right arm began pumping up and down, hardened muscle bulging as Levi’s car lifted from the ground.

It was hot today.

The college student stood, his dark brown hair falling forward and shielding the upper half of his face from the glare of the sun. Eren let his mouth fall open as he took a deep breath—the hot air no doubt escaping into his lungs. Watching his pink tongue dart out to wet his lips was almost sinful.

Eren adjusted the baseball cap on his head and tugged at his pants in two jerky movements. He stretched his arms over his head and flashed his lower stomach, where there was a clear tan line bordering a small trail of hair that disappeared into Eren’s boxers. Sweat clung to his shirt, staining his armpits, chest and back.

Levi was not disgusted by the sight.

He grimaced at himself, embarrassed he caught himself staring like an old pervert for so long. He shut the blinds and turned around, looking for something interesting to do.

He wasn’t sure how long it would take to get the brake pads changed. It wasn’t as if he wanted to ask for Eren’s help in the first place; he bought the tools and parts himself in order to finally learn something. And he should’ve been able to do it on his own, right? He is a college educated man with a doctorate—he should be able to learn anything.

Until he was stuck in the hot sun all day last week. He must’ve looked idiotic, squatting besides his car with a bunch of tools. The men at the auto body shop definitely gave him an up and down when making his purchase, but Levi cared not for their judgments.

Carla caught him last week like this. She scolded him for messing around with his car, screaming about how he easily could’ve gotten hurt or killed since Levi was apparently so delicate. She suggested calling her son, to which Levi objected, but objecting to Carla was akin to climbing a vertical wall.

And here they were.

Levi sighed, discontent lining the annoyed noise. He reached for the fridge and began pouring himself a glass of iced tea, which always calmed him down.

Seeing Eren again was . . . troubling.

Levi knew he didn’t give off the most warm impression last he saw the 20 year old, which was fine; that was his intention. He didn’t want Eren to chase after him. Eren had much better things to do with his time and their encounter together was . . .

Levi couldn’t help but blush at the memory. He felt a clench of tense muscle take a hold of his organs.

It shouldn’t happen again. It was nice and exhilarating and all the things Levi looked for, but it shouldn’t happen again. It was a mistake for obvious reasons. They were reasons that Eren might not have understood, but Levi did.

After receiving his class roster shortly after sleeping with Eren, he was firm in his decision.

The name that was bundled right in the middle of his section two class haunted Levi. He was so sure it was a mistake—he contacted the counselors and made sure that this name was meant to be in his class but all they did was confirm his worst fears.

Eren Jaeger was not an uncommon name.

What horrible luck.

Levi knew it must’ve been a simple coincidence. Eren must’ve decided these classes for himself once he enrolled at MSU, but what were the odds?

Levi wondered if he should ask Carla about Eren’s school schedule, but she scared him at the moment. She was playing with a deck of cards that Levi couldn’t quite yet see, and god forbid he give her an upper hand with this knowledge.

They were still friends through and through, but Levi wanted to give her no more indication he had sex with her son than he already has.

The raven found himself at his dinner table with his laptop opened.

He’s accepted his fate. He cannot make Eren drop the class, so he might as well roll with the punches. That decision was up to Eren and it was on Levi, the adult, for maintaining a professional environment.

Levi rolled his wrist before composing an email to his hundred some odd students—

Hello, students.

I hope you all had an amazing and rejuvenating summer. I’m very much looking forward to meeting all of you next Tuesday. I’m Professor Ackerman and I will be teaching your Introduction to Literature class.

Just as a reminder, my last name in the system is incorrect, so please email me through this address and not the one listed on the site.

Attached here is the syllabus, and a quick look will show you how quickly we will move in this class. I expect you to have the first four chapters of Pride and Prejudice read by Tuesday so that we can have a full discussion on the book.

Please come prepared.

Levi Ackerman.

Levi sent the email with a nervous intake of breath.

Maybe with this email, Eren could put two and two together and drop the class on his own?

The raven shuddered. He felt sick.

Levi also wasn’t ecstatic about being stuck with teaching freshmen their required classes, but there were benefits. He enjoyed their energy and eagerness to engage in class, but if they weren’t the most snide and condescending little shits . . .

The front door creaked open, making Levi flinch as if he were hit.

Speaking of condescending little shits . . .

“I fixed your brake pads,” Eren jut a thumb behind him. His voice was focused and cold, as if he’d rehearsed the words a billion times in his head. “I gave it a test drive. No squeaks or scraping.”

Levi blinked. His mouth felt dry all of a sudden. He wanted to say something, anything—but he couldn’t. He should tell Eren right now, right away.

But there was something about the brunet that intimidated him.

He still wasn’t used to how Eren had changed over the past month or so. Logistically, Levi knew he hasn’t gotten taller—that would be ridiculous. Eren was more tan, of course. His hair was slightly longer, brushing against the top of his shoulders and hanging over his face with shaggy strands.

He couldn’t help but ache at the sight of him. Eren was gorgeous. He was handsome in a way that was painfully familiar and easy. He had soft, boyish features hardened by thick dark eyebrows, a strong nose and a pouty bottom lip. Levi’s always thought this of him, but these feelings of want grew worse right after their encounter.

Levi opened his mouth. He wanted to say something to him—he had to. But he couldn’t. Eren was very concise in telling him that they shouldn’t talk, they should only concern themselves with things like fixing cars and being neighbors.

Levi ought to respect these wishes.

“Thanks, Eren,” Levi nodded, his eyes moving away from the figure in the doorway to face his emails.

Eren’s arms relaxed and he didn’t move. He didn’t falter, and Levi wanted to scream at him. Eren began fidgeting, opening and closing his mouth like a trout.

“Yes, what is it?” Levi tried to keep his voice even.

Eren sighed, his fists closed at his sides. “I just—well, I—I . . . I hope the pond is doing okay. I always think about the pond.”

Levi wasn’t an idiot.

“The pond is fine, Eren,” Levi nodded, his words careful and punctual, like a needle pulling a string through silk.

“That’s . . . Good.”

“Yep.”

“Cool . . .”

“Thank you,” Levi pressed, hoping the brunet would take the cue and turn around to leave. “For uh . . . for fixing my brake pads, you really didn’t have to do that.”

A silence passed. Levi looked up at him.

“What are we?”

Levi shut his laptop. “Jesus, Eren—“

“No, I just—I want to know, okay? I’ve been thinking about you nonstop for the past month,” Eren’s voice sounded tortured. “I-I keep thinking something’s wrong with me because I dream about you and I miss you. I can’t put my finger to it and-and—“

“We can’t—“

“We’re alone right now!” Eren’s voice raised. “Please, Levi. Please talk to me. I just want to know what you’re feeling. Please?”

Levi’s heart hurt. Eren looked so stressed talking about this—his eyes were blinking quickly as if to hold back tears and his voice shook. It was no wonder his sister bit those venomous looks his way. Levi would too, if someone hurt his own sister this way.

“It’s hard to explain,” Levi stated, wanting to end it at that.

To be honest, Levi forced himself to not think about Eren over the past several weeks. His brain has tried, but Levi made himself focus on his courses and school work. He drowned himself in books, reading, research and board meetings with his colleagues. If there was even a scrap of free time to think about Eren, Levi picked up a book. He learned a new recipe. He cleaned. He scrubbed. He mopped.

His mind would betray him, however. His nights would be plagued images: the way Eren’s hands decorated Levi’s body, the way he would smile and flutter those dark eyelashes, the way he briefly glanced upwards before asking a question—it was all too much.

And for Eren to stand here, in the flesh? Levi wanted to flee.

But that wasn’t fair. Running away wasn’t fair to Eren—it wasn’t fair to Levi when it happened to him and it didn’t make it any more okay now.

He had to do this.

“I really like you, Levi,” Eren’s voice fell quietly. “I don’t know if that’s what you want to hear, but it’s what I want to tell you. I’ve done a lot of thinking lately and-and I know it’s wrong, but I want to be with you.”

Levi had to tell it to him in very concise terms. He wanted to leave no space for misinterpretation or hope on Eren’s end.

“We can’t do this,” Levi spoke, almost surprised he wasn’t interrupted yet by Eren. “There’s a lot of reasons why we can’t do this and I hope you’ll understand where I’m coming from. I’m sorry that it had to be this way.”

Eren looked crushed. His body language sagged, as if every word uttered by Levi hit straight through his heart like a sword. He let out a few shaky breaths before sniffling and nodding.

“O-Okay,” Eren nodded, standing straighter. Levi wanted to cry. “I-I think I g-get it.”

“Eren, I’m—“

“I’m sorry, too,” Eren insisted, tears springing at the corners of his eyes. “I’m sorry it had to be this way, too. I’ll—Bye. I’ll leave.”

The door shut as quickly as it opened, Eren phasing through like a runaway ghost.

Levi swallowed thickly, the air filled to the brim with this tenseness that he couldn’t explain. He heard ringing in his ears, as if the realization was finally settling in and vibrating his core.

“God damn it—!”

Levi stood and kicked his chair in a violent motion. The heavy set furniture fell over and crashed against the floor.

He breathed heavily, the chair unresponsive.

-

-

-

Levi had forgotten how crowded the campus could get.

Every year it surprised him how vast the influx of freshmen were. And every year Levi cursed himself for taking on so many students.

The new students were very easy to pick out in a crowd—always dressed a little too well, always walking a little too slow and asking questions a little too nervously. They bothered him outside of classrooms to ask him needless questions about where this building was, where that was, etc. etc.

“I want to rip out my own eardrums,” Levi announced loudly.

Hanji laughed at him.

Hanji had been surprisingly respectful during this time. While she definitely encouraged Levi to go ahead with Eren, she also see how tormented the raven was from the prospects of it. Levi expected her to grate him and slap him into the happier choice, but she was more receptive than she looked. She did her best during this time to distract him as well, allowing his presence to preside at her dinner table and have late night coffee sessions over their syllabus revisions.

“Oh, I love the freshmen!” Hanji sang, hooking her arm into Levi’s. “They’re so fresh and optimistic—it’s a little sweet, don’t cha think?”

Levi scoffed. “A little too fresh—I can’t wait to have them ask me to use the bathroom in the middle of class.

Hanji pinched his cheek. “Oh, you love it! Hey, this is me!”

They stopped in front of a set of double doors.

Hanji typically taught introductory psych courses with hundreds of students. Levi was skeptical, but she managed to get good reviews and marks after the end of every semester due to her engaging teaching style. Hanji always rambled too much for Levi’s tastes, but she was a successful professor nonetheless.

“I’ll see ya later, Leevs! Good luck with your little gremlins!”

Levi opened his mouth to say something but Hanji pressed a wet kiss to his cheek. He recoiled in disgust and launched a hand forth to shove at the woman, but she was already gone behind closed doors.

Levi grimaced, but smiled still. He rubbed at his cheek and began his trek down the hall.

“Hey, excuse me—?”

Levi rolled his eyes. Out of his peripheral, he could see a tall blond approaching him.

“Do you know where room 2429 is?”

The first thing Levi looked at was the paper held in the stranger’s hands. From Levi’s perspective, he could see that the blond was enrolled in several core classes, Levi’s literature class being included.

He looked up at the taller man.

This stranger looked far too old to be a freshman. He had wavy blond hair that stopped around his ears and a full grown beard. The beard and round, wired glasses hid his features, but Levi could tell he was attractive beneath.

Levi contemplated giving the blond wrong instructions. He also wondered if he should do the polite thing and walk him to the classroom, since he was headed that way anyway.

Ugh.

“I’m headed that way,” Levi decided, his voice uninterested and bored. “You can walk with me if you want.”

Gray-blue eyes lit up. “Oh, fantastic! So you’re taking literature with Professor Dawk as well?”

Levi regret his choice. He only took a deep sigh as he walked in tandem with this annoyingly tall bastard. It was clear this idiot didn’t check his emails. Why didn’t students check their emails? Levi was irked.

“We can sit together, if you like,” The man began to talk. “I’m new here—just transferred from Germany. I’m always keen on making some new friends.”

Levi wondered if he actually looked that young or if this man was just that stupid.

He racked his brain trying to remember who was in his section two class—besides Eren, of course. It was one of his larger classes, since it took place right at noon. Noon tended to be a popular time for freshmen to take their classes, Levi noticed.

“You’ll meet people,” Levi promised vaguely, his eyes narrowing at his classroom at the end of the hall. “Germany, huh?”

“Yeah, I was studying abroad there,” He spoke vacantly, as if studying abroad were the most boring subject known to man. “My father was going through a horrendous divorce and I needed to get away.”

This stranger was delving too much information too quickly. Levi was uncomfortable. The last thing he wanted to hear from a relative stranger was all the juicy details of their parent’s separation.

Levi opened the door to his classroom, unsurprised that the class was full already. Freshmen students tended to congregate in their classes early and nervously. The blond, thankfully, made his way to the front and sat down. He probably expected Levi to come and sit right next to him.

How gravely would he be mistaken.

The students hardly gave him a second look. There was one student, though, who couldn’t keep his eyes off of Levi.

He looked positively shocked from his seat. His large, blue-green eyes were frozen open and his face ran out of color. Levi could see the gears turning in his head, clicking together in pace.

“Good afternoon, class,” Levi made his way to the front of the classroom. He grabbed at a spare piece of chalk and began to scribble large letters on the board.

“Please call me Professor Ackerman—yes, that’s Ackerman. IT is working on getting my name fixed in the system after my divorce, so ignore that.”

Levi turned and faced the sea of eyes that stared straight at him.

“Welcome to Introduction to Literature.”

Chapter Text

Eren’s first day of college was less eventful than he anticipated it would’ve been. His mother woke him up to have a ‘special breakfast’, which consisted of eggs, potatoes and chorizo.

The college student wolfed down the breakfast, phone in hand and eyes heavy with exhaustion. He hadn’t slept much over the last week, which was expected. 

His friends blew up his phone, pestering him to meet up between classes or sending loads of jokes he didn’t quite yet understand. Armin wished him luck and sent a vaguely threatening message about an upcoming lunch date, which Eren expected would be non consensual from his end. 

Carla beamed with excitement, taking many pictures along the way. She fretted over Eren’s hair, scolding how long it has gotten and picking at it. She was like a fly, buzzing around him and asking about his schedule and his professors. He had not the slightest clue on why his mom would care about his professors of all people, but Eren didn’t give it a second thought.

She dropped him off with a big hug and a kiss, which only eased his nerves ever so slightly. 

Since Eren was a new, incoming student, he was meant to file into a giant lecture hall with a hundred or so other kids his age to hear a welcoming speech from the higher ups. All he heard were boring, upbeat filler words that came in one ear and out the other. This part was probably the most gruesome, since Eren felt no buzz or excitement his peers probably felt.

In fact, Eren was dreading this whole day.

His mom and sister occasionally sent him encouraging texts, with the pictures of Agnes being the most helpful.

After the speech, Eren followed other students to a long line of nervous looking kids. They chattered nervously amongst themselves, eyeing the other stream of adults that made directed streamlines throughout campus—they were probably juniors, seniors—maybe even grad students. Judging from their experienced strides and apathetic stares, Eren half-expected to find Levi within the crowd.

“Last name?”

“Jaeger,” The brunet unsteadily answered, his hands clammy with the thought of Levi now buzzing in his brain. “Eren.”

The girl behind the table didn’t notice or care for Eren’s stiff movements. She was probably used to the sight of many incoming freshman and the nerves that come with it. Her hair was tucked neatly into a ponytail while she adorned a bright red shirt that read MSU ORIENTATION 2020.

She hummed a subtle tune as she slipped out a thick-papered folder that read MARIA STATE UNIVERSITY FRESHMAN PACKET.

“There’ll be tables around campus to help show you around!” The upperclassman smiled. “You have a map and your class schedule, but if you have any questions, find someone with a red shirt like me, okay?”

“I will,” Eren promised, guilty he couldn’t match her genuine happy energy. “Uh—thanks.”

“No problem! Have a good one!”

-

Eren’s first class was right at 11, a meager fifteen minutes after the brief orientation, which meant Eren really had to start moving.

After some squinted reading into faded building names and double, triple and quadruple checking his schedule, he found himself at the right place. The MSU campus was pretty large, with angular, modern looking buildings sprawled over an outside space littered with trees and grass.

It was a class titled, Race, Class and Ethnicity: a sociology requirement for his undergraduate degree. He had not the slightest clue what he signed up for or what was in store, since Armin was the one to register Eren for classes way back in the spring. The blond explained Eren’s prerequisite classes, but Eren didn’t listen.

The room was a smaller sized classroom that was completely filled. He was almost grateful for this, as a typical lecture sized hall would’ve been far too intimidating for Eren’s first day.

It’s been a long time since Eren has walked into a classroom like this. The buzz and moving of bodies in seats almost made him nervous, if not for the calming presence of the small woman in the front.

As he waited and sat in his hard plastic seat, he read over his schedule for the billionth time.

AMST 185 - Race, Class, and Ethnicity —MWF 11:00-11:50 – Instructor: Ral

MATH 121 – College Algebra – MWF 12:00-12:50 Instructor: Shadis

PHIL 101 – Intro to Philosophy – MWF 2:00-2:50 – Instructor: Bossard

ENGL 141 – Intro to Literature – TR 12:30-1:45 – Instructor: Dawk

PSY 105 – General Psychology – TR 2:00-3:15 Instructor: Berner

Not too bad.

Eren chose his schedule carefully. He wanted to mimic what high school was like as much as possible, although Armin persuaded him not to. Eren thought the adjustment might be easier, somehow.

“Good afternoon everyone!” The professor spoke a few minutes before 11 o’clock hit. She smoothed out her pencil skirt.

Despite looking as young as Eren, she dressed and carried herself much more professionally than her age would suggest. Her strawberry blonde hair was clipped right after her chin and her large, dark brown eyes reminded Eren of a deer, or perhaps a squirrel.

“So, today should be an easy day!” The professor smiled, unpacking her laptop and starting up the projector. “Just some book work. We’ll talk about the syllabus, some required texts, my office hours . . .”

Eren couldn’t help but think of Levi.

Levi was probably teaching some class right now, in some other building. Eren wondered how the smaller man conducted his lessons—probably with all the confidence and intelligence he did normally in mundane situations.

Eren tapped his foot. The surprising feeling of jealousy began clawing at his sides at the thought of other students sitting in his class. They were able to hear that velvety voice and see those taut muscles stretch beneath a nearly buttoned shirt a few times a week, a luxury that Eren couldn’t afford.

He wondered if Levi ever done anything with a student before—was that why he rejected Eren so boldly the week before? Levi spoke with some familiarity when rejecting Eren that one could only assume . . .

A paper landed on his desk, startling Eren out of his anxiety-inducing day dreams about his next door neighbor.

Eren blinked himself to alertness, passing the paper pile on to the person to his left.

No matter. Eren shouldn’t plague himself with these thoughts anymore. He had school to worry about.

Eren leaned back in his seat and looked at the syllabus before him, losing himself with the dark printed words on the ink.

-

Introduction to Literature.

That was Eren’s one of two classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After three classes in a row yesterday, Eren was extremely grateful for only having two classes today.

Yesterday was grueling, and Eren disliked the feeling of having someone talk at him for so long about shit he barely cared about. His Algebra class was the worst, his professor running the place like a drill sergeant. It was jarring, but he managed to finish the day.

He filed into a line that flooded into a another semi-normal looking, albeit a bit large classroom. It was on the second floor of the main building, dubbed the ‘freshmen building’, since apparently lots of introductory classes were taught here.

This class was another full one, which Eren was semi surprised about. He didn’t think kids would be itching to take literature, but he remembered something that Armin said about this being a more difficult core class to take.

The classroom hall was well-lit, echoing every dark cranny of the hall and giving the polished, wooden seats a harsh glow. The chairs were accompanied with small, rotatable desks and all faced the defending floor, in which there was a podium and a large projector set up above an old looking chalkboard.

Eren made his way to the front, as Armin recommended. The blond pointed out that Eren wasn’t exactly all that great at English, so sitting directly in the front would impress any professor.

Fuck that. Eren decided to sit a few rows behind the front, squeezing past a couple of students on his way.

He glanced around briefly for any sign of the Professor, to which there was none. Eren pulled out his phone and began scanning over his schedule for the umpteenth time that day.

ENGL 141 – Intro to Literature – TR 12:30-1:45 – Instructor: Dawk

Eren was sure he was in the right place.

“Hey,” A voice murmured next to him.

It was a girl who was leaning forth in her seat. She was a couple seats down to Eren’s left, and she looked younger than he by a year or two.

“Did you get the book?” She asked in a low voice. “The bookstore was all out!”

Eren thought about it for a second or two. He hadn’t realized that this class required a book right away—he planned on stopping by the bookstore after class today instead of wasting money on the potential of needing one.

“No,” Eren replied, his voice unsure. “Erm—do I need one?”

The girl shrugged. “Guess we’ll find out.”

Her eyes went up, and regretfully, Eren followed her line of sight.

No way.

Levi walked in, looking thoroughly annoyed. He had his arm around his book bag and his stare focused straight ahead, much like all the upperclassmen Eren saw outside. He dressed casually, with a dark green crewcut sweater and a flattering pair of khaki pants.

Eren blinked once—twice—in total disbelief and shock. Dread and dismay paralyzed Eren in his seat. Levi was here, standing in the flesh and making his way to the front of the classroom.

Though his figure was recognizable, Eren thought for a fleeting moment that this actually wasn’t Levi—perhaps it was some misunderstanding? A doppelgänger, maybe? And if it was Levi, there was no way he was his professor!

Eren let out a laugh.

Yes, that must be it! Levi walked into the wrong classroom! His name was Ackerman, not Dawk! It had to be some wild mixup.

“Good afternoon, class,” Levi spoke, his surprisingly deep voice ringing in Eren’s ear.

Levi didn’t look at them, which made Eren wonder if he should be angry or relieved at that small gesture. The shorter man grabbed at a piece of chalk and began scribbling at the chalkboard in large, elegant letters.

“Please call me Professor Ackerman,” Levi called out loud. Eren felt the low reverb of his voice all the way down his spine. “Yes, that’s Ackerman. IT is working on getting my name fixed in the system after my divorce, so ignore that.”

Of course.

Eren wanted to rip out his hair. There was no such thing as coincidences when it came to Levi, was there?

ACKERMAN in large, elegant chalk letters haunted Eren at the front of the classroom. The way he wrote his own name was offensive, but it shouldn’t be—!

Eren spun. The universe was exceptionally cruel for allowing this to take place. Eren was here just to graduate and please his mom, signing up for classes in the spring and not thinking another thing of it! By no means did Eren expect to find one of his professors to have a complex and unusual love affair with them.

His first instinct was to leave.

He should just grab his things and leave. Maybe even unenroll from this semester and try again at the community college. What was he even thinking?

“First thing’s first,” Levi called as his laptop warmed to life. “We’re going to read over the syllabus carefully and then go right into the readings.”

Students murmured, but no conversation was too distracting yet. Eren was reeling still, in disbelief that Levi, his Levi was standing right in front of him.

He couldn’t believe the confidence oozing from the man in the front. In their usual conversations, Levi was always so attentive, careful and close. But here, in a classroom with dozens of other people, Eren couldn’t believe how far away Levi felt.

A sheet of paper made it’s way to Eren’s desk and he jumped. He looked around quickly, but Levi was still far away. The man was now at the podium, his tired eyes scanning over his now opened laptop. The chalkboard was now covered by a projector screen, which made the brunet feel a fraction of ease.

Eren looked over the syllabus.

There was nothing interesting of note, which was expected from a syllabus. The paper was crisp and the ink was dark, with some bold lettering and not a single flash of color or intricate design, which was laughably reflective of Levi’s personality.

“We will be reading Pride and Prejudice for the first several weeks of class,” Levi typed away at his laptop, his eyes focused to his screen. “I know, I know—it’s overdone, but some of the classics are important and Jane Austen isn’t as stale as some of her peers.”

“Besides,” he continued. “We’re going to be reading a more contemporary piece after that. We’re going to be analyzing The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, which is fantastic and absolutely everyone should read, by the way.”

The class shared a few easy chuckles amongst themselves, which sent a hopeful twinkle into Levi’s eyes.

“It seems like most literature classes stopped somewhere in the 1950s,” Levi said aloud, his voice edging with the bitter familiarity of experience. “But reading is, shockingly, lots of fun and I want you guys to enjoy it in this class. At least—the best you can. The authors don’t always have to be stuffy old white people, either.”

The class shared another chuckle, Eren involved.

This was foreign. To hear Levi speak so passionately about books and teaching was something untouched in their relationship during the summer. It filled Eren with this wanting hope—all he wanted, all he ached for was to hear Levi speak more like that. He wanted to see those dark eyes light up and that usually stoic voice curl with shyness.

“With that being said, my class is not for the lazy,” Levi’s voice grew serious. “Unlike other professors, I’m not hear to waste your time, your money nor your parents’ money. So let’s get started, hm?”

“Oh, no,” The girl next to Eren muttered.

“Hands raised if you did the reading assigned for today,” Levi spoke, crossing his arms. His dark eyes scanned over the crowd as about 2/3 of the class raised their arms.

Eren shot his arm straight up. Levi glanced over at the brunet, his eyebrow raising with skepticism but looking vaguely impressed nonetheless.

“And if you didn’t do the reading?” Levi asked as hands began to slowly lower. A few sheepish hands rose, the owners of which began looking around in clouded shame. The girl next to him raised her arm, her eyes almost begging Eren to raise his as well.

“I see,” Levi’s voice dipped. He planted his feet on the floor and took a deep breath. “If you didn’t do the reading, you are dismissed and we will see you on Thursday.”

Eren blinked. The jarring shift from pleasant familiarity to cold deliverance was about as abrupt as a knife slice. The brunet wanted to laugh in his seat, admiring Levi for doing something only he could accomplish.

The girl next to Eren could’ve launched herself from her seat. “Wait, are you serious right now?”

“Deadly,” Levi replied easily. “It is extremely disrespectful to show up to class unprepared, as it wastes both my time and the time of your peers. Come back Thursday after refreshing yourselves on the syllabus as to prevent another situation like this from happening.”

Levi shut his mouth, Eren amazed at the gall. The students also looked incredibly stunned, maybe even miffed. They headed out regardless, looking as though someone had just slapped them in the face. It was hardly the second day of classes and already they were being faced with a harsh life lesson.

After the final student left, the room was silent once more. Eren grew uncomfortable with the now empty space around him, which he felt made him stand out like a sore thumb.

“If you can survive my class, you can survive graduate school,” Levi nodded. “Believe me, they will be a lot harder on you there than some introductory class. Now were there any questions about the reading?”

-

Eren did not do the reading, Levi decided. That much was easy to tell.

Nonetheless, Eren sat patiently in his desk and didn’t falter his vision once. A few times would his pencil scribble a few messy sentences onto his notepad, but Eren’s staring was much more common. 

Levi was self conscious for a moment or two, wondering how he appeared to Eren. He wondered if Eren had any other classes today or if he made any friends—? It would be easy for people to fawn over Eren, Levi feared. Eren was incredibly easy to fall for. 

After the initial awkwardness of kicking out a portion of his class wore off, Levi began the lesson with a brief lesson in literature and how one should approach such subjects. Levi has never felt there ought to be a specific methodology in analyzing books, of all things, but college is college for a reason.

In discussing the books, the confidence of his students rose. Many raised their hands to add their input or pose a surface level question. Levi never found freshmen to be particularly profound in their engagement in class, but that was a skill learned later.

Amongst the curious, leaning bodies and the hands that poked themselves out amongst the crowds, Levi nearly felt guilt for kicking all of those other students out. A part of him believed that they were entitled to an education as well, but he remembered that freshmen year was the year that many kids were weeded out. He would expect many to drop his class soon.

“That seems like a good place to end today’s discussion,” Levi nodded after a lively debate over the classicism in the story. “Please read the next four chapters and go over the syllabus for next class. I’ll see you all on Thursday.”

He let loose a breath and turned away, towards the podium. The sound of feet against the wooden floors came as a comfort to him, serving as a gentle reminder that Levi’s day was nearly done. 

Levi could feel eyes on his back—and not ones from the other students, either. He could feel a body approaching him with a repose kind of nervousness that could only belong to one person.

“Eren, if you want to talk, you need to take that opportunity during my office hours,” Levi shut his briefcase. “Anything personal will have to wai—“

He turned and stopped in his tracks.

It wasn’t Eren. Instead, it was that hairy blond idiot from the hallway. He had forgotten that he surprised the man earlier through his own assumption about Levi being a fellow student. He smirked a bit—he wondered what went on in his head at that.

A nervous smile cracked the man’s face open. “Ah, sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”

Levi didn’t relax. “It takes a lot to scare me.”

“I’m sure,” The blond nodded. Levi’s eyes narrowed, unsure if his tone was meant to be sarcastic or sincere. “I thought your lecture was great, you know. I didn’t think it would be possible to make Jane Austen sound as cool as she did today, but here we are . . .”

“An insult to Jane Austen,” Levi scoffed. “Is not the way to gain favors in this class.”

The man pushed at his glasses, hardly phased by Levi’s harsh words. “Hoh? What about bringing you some coffee during your office hours, would that work?” 

Levi felt heat. He grit his jaw and hit forth a smile, an uncomfortably warm feeling flooding his stomach.

It wasn’t often that students would flirt with him. After all, Levi was on the scarier and stricter side, which made him as unapproachable as the sun. In lots of these scenarios, these students were young women, which made them easier to reject. But this . . .

Levi gave him an up and down.

This was troubling.

“I’m more of a tea kind of guy,” Levi spoke, nodding slowly. “I’m also a professor, and you happen to be a student, of whom I don’t even know the name of.”

Again, this man wasn’t moved by Levi’s swift rejection. Instead, he seemed more caught off guard by the latter part of the sentence, which showed in his nervous fidgeting followed by a brief introduction that made Levi feel cold chills.

“My apologies,” The blond student rubbed at his neck. “I’m Zeke. Zeke Jaeger, nice to meet you, Mr. Ackerman!”

He offered forth a hand, to which Levi stared at like it was made of lava and poison.

Chapter Text

[Eren]
hey what’s up im gonna fuckimg shit my pantsf

Eren sent the text in a hurry, with no time to feel guilt over the fact that he’s done his best to ignore Armin over the past few weeks.

He was already late to his next class.

After Levi ended his lecture, Eren attempted to lurk around a bit more to angrily confront Levi—he wasn’t sure on what, but it was going to be angry and it was going to be confrontational! But then this bushy looking dude intercepted Levi and stole his time, talking about coffee and books and the syllabus. How lame.

Eren decided it wasn’t worth it today. His therapist always recommended to not always act on his impulses, which was unfortunately, a very characteristic thing of him to do. Against his better judgment, Eren decided to leave Levi alone.

His phone buzzed.

[Armin]
Well hi to you too

The message was bitter.

[Eren]
hop on fb messengew im bouta go into class

[Eren]
btw I love u ok but ive just been goinf thru an insanr amount of shut

[Eren]
shut

[Eren]
SHUT

[Eren]
shit ******

Eren was lucky his next lecture was only the next floor beneath Levi’s class. He could feel his phone vibrate with anticipated messages from his friend, but he didn’t have the time.

He slowly creaked open the double doors and felt embarrassment at the multiple eyes that went his way. The lecture had already begun, with a woman’s enthusiastic voice booming over a speaker somewhere.

“We got a few late birdies, but that’s okay! Second day, am I right?” The voice preceded a cackle. 

Eren froze. He recognized that voice.

He looked up and saw Hanji, Levi’s talkative friend, standing at the podium with a headset on and her face buried in her laptop. She looked tall up there, standing in formal clothing and speaking to an audience of hundreds. 

Eren wanted to go home.

Instead, he moved the hoodie over his head and tussled his hair over his eyes—the last thing he needed was Hanji screeching about Eren’s presence in her class in front of hundreds of people.

The lecture hall was large. It had rows and rows of seats that looked down upon the half circle stage on the bottom most floor, where Hanji and a few other older looking students stood. Most of the seats were filled with students, and Eren guessed there could’ve easily been 200 people in the class.

He made his way somewhere off to the side, where Hanji would’ve definitely had to make an effort to see him.

Thankfully, most of the students all had their own laptops out, which meant Eren could use his to touch base with Armin through Facebook.

He opened the overpriced device—a surprise gift from his mother that must’ve cost at least a few hundred dollars—and opened Facebook right away.

Armin’s message appeared instantaneously.

[Armin Arlert] Eren I’m so upset with you 

[Armin Arlert] You don’t hang out with me for weeks and when you finally get the gall to contact me, you discuss defecation?

Eren took a deep breath and began to type, but not before Armin sent another message.

[Armin Arlert] OK Erwin says I’m being unfair. I’m sorry. It’s nice to hear from you. How are you?  

Eren wrote back quickly.

[Eren Jaeger] im surprised u don’t know why ive been MIA for awhile

[Eren Jaeger] Erwin didnt say anything????

[Armin Arlert] No, but I suspect it has to do with Levi and my unpaid for venmo. You still owe me btw.

Eren was gobsmacked. While he never explicitly told Armin about what exactly went down between him and Levi after the events at Pride, he assumed that Armin knew the entire time. He had assumed that Levi told Erwin, who would’ve no doubt told Armin.

Eren felt even more guilt for keeping this from his best friend.

[Eren Jaeger] dude theres no way u dont know.

[Armin Arlert] OMG I am NOT one for suspense.

[Armin Arlert] Last I saw you, you were naked and having sex with Levi (thanks for the mental scarring btw, I’m adding a psychiatric bill onto your tab) and then you were at your sisters the last time we talked.

[Armin Arlert] We had plenty of convos about Agnes (she’s adorable), school and that horrible thing your dad posted on Facebook but nothing about Levi or you.

[Armin Arlert] We also discussed Jean being an idiot, if that helps.

[Armin Arlert] I promise you that’s all I know. If Erwin knew anything else, he didn’t tell me. Despite my best, albeit subtle, efforts to interrogate you and him, of course.

Eren trusted him. He knew that the blond wouldn’t have been this angry with him if he knew everything like Eren assumed he did.

Eren had to spill the beans.

[Eren Jaeger] ugh this is so weird to type but levi p much rejected me that next morning.. i woke up in his bed and he was acting weird so i asked if i did anything wrong n he just said my clothes were on the table so i left

[Eren Jaeger] and it fucjing sucked so i stayed at my sisters and now im back home n hes my fucking english professor.

[Eren Jaeger] like hes my actual intro to lit professor

Eren didn’t feel relief from sending all this. He felt worse admitting this to someone besides himself because it all sounded too ridiculous. Eren desperately wanted to believe what he was experiencing wasn’t real, but it was. 

[Armin Arlert] You’re kidding.

Eren could see the shell shocked expression on his best friend now: the crystal blue eyes widened into perfect circles and his jaw flying open.

[Eren Jaeger] can u ask erwin if professors get their rosters or whatever beforehand?

Eren didn’t appreciate Erwin’s presence during this intimate moment between him and Armin, but he’s already accepted their attachment at the hip by now. He might as well milk as much insider information as much as he can.

[Armin Arlert] He said they do. He also said he’s sorry, he hasn’t spoken to Levi much either.

[Armin Arlert] Eren, I am so sorry. I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now. Are you okay?

[Eren Jaeger] no im fucked up

[Armin Arlert] We shouldn’t talk about this over text. I want to see you. Come over to Erwin’s office after class. It’s in Regener Hall, 304.

[Armin Arlert] Love you.

[Eren Jaeger] love you too

Eren couldn’t wait.

He shut down the laptop and made his way back down the stairs, his hoodie falling off his head in the process.

Hanji glanced over and her eyes widened. She stuttered a bit in her speech before blinking and turning back to the students, as if Eren were never there. He half expected her to reach out to him—to say anything—but she didn’t.

He pushed out the doors and out into the sun.

-

Dr. Erwin Smith

Eren shifted his weight nervously on both his feet as he read the name plaque. He was assured that he had the right place, but it made him feel no better to have to face one of Levi’s very best friends after that.

These are friends that, as Eren understood, have been with Levi before Eren and surely after Eren. They’ve been with him through his divorce and other triumphs and failures—so he couldn’t help but wonder . . . Did they approve? Did Eren measure up? Would they tell him that Eren was chasing a hopeless dream and to give up now?

Eren knocked.

He figured that the answer would always be no unless he asked.

“Eren!” Armin threw open the door. Eren blinked at him, surprised. His hair was shorter than the bowl cut, shoulder length from before.

“Haircut,” Eren replied intelligently.

Armin rolled his eyes and brought the taller man into a hug. “Ugh, I missed you, moron. Come inside. Erwin’s gonna finish up some emails and he’ll give us some privacy.”

“I’m almost finished,” Erwin promised from behind his desk. His studious hands tapped away at the keyboard, the wire frames sitting low on his strong nose.

“No,” Eren blurted. “It’s fine, really. In fact, I think I could use your opinion.”

The two blondes froze and exchanged a look. 

Erwin chuckled sheepishly. “I really don’t think that I’m the one to—“

“Erwin,” Armin’s clear voice cut the air, prompting his boyfriend to shut his mouth closed.

Erwin took in a deep breath. “Right. I’ll try my best.”

Eren took a seat in one of the leather clad chairs in front of Erwin’s desk. Armin took a seat on the chair right behind Erwin, pulling out his laptop to type away. Eren tried not to not us how natural Armin looked there, sitting in Erwin’s office. He wondered if one day, he could do the same with Levi?

“I don’t even know what to ask,” Eren murmured, flexing his hands in his lap. “I-I guess what I wanna know is—did—did I do anything wrong?”

Erwin’s face twisted and he glanced at Armin once more, who replied with an equally pitiful look.

Eren hated this. He regretted asking that right away. The last thing he needed were people feeling bad for him—because Eren didn’t feel bad for himself—at least he didn’t think so.

“No, I don’t think you could’ve possibly done something to hurt or offend Levi,” Erwin affirmed. “To be honest with you, his reaction didn’t sound particularly out of character for him. Levi isn’t one to open up easily—especially since his divorce had scarred him so much.”

Eren’s eyes fell to his lap. “Right . . .”

“I think he likes you, Eren,” Armin blurted. “I’ve—I’ve only hung around him a few times since we started dating, but whenever you come up, he speaks of you fondly.”

Eren huffed. “He thinks I’m a kid—he told my mom that last week.”

Erwin grimaced. “He’s just trying to hurt you.”

“But why?” Eren asked a bit more heated this time. “I-I didn’t do anything to him! All I ever did was like him! Doesn’t he see how horrible that is for me? I still don’t even think I’m . . . gay.” The last part came out croaked and quiet, as if it were forbidden to speak.

Armin frowned. “Maybe that’s why he’s trying to hurt you?”

“Huh?” Eren’s eyes narrowed.

“That could be a possibility,” Erwin nodded solemnly. “Levi is . . . Complex. He assumes the worst of people, so assuming the worst of you would mean that you are just a kid who doesn’t know what he wants. And that’s why he thought it best to cut you off.”

“He didn’t ask?” Eren scoffed, his voice indignant. “I don’t even get to make a defense for myself?”

“Well,” Erwin reasoned. “I’m going to say something and I don’t anticipate you’ll like this answer, but I would’ve assumed the same of you, had I been Levi.”

A slap in the face. Eren promptly shut his mouth, his heart swelling with hurt. He frowned and his gaze fell to the floor.

Erwin,” Armin snapped. “Tone, for crying out loud—“

“He’s right,” Eren grumbled miserably. “I’m—I don’t even know if I’m into men or-or anything—so I get it. This is so dumb.”

Armin shut his laptop closed. “It’s not dumb, Eren! Look at Erwin and I! We have an age difference and we’re still—“

“That’s not the same,” Eren insisted, his voice wavering. He felt tears sting at the back of his eyes, making him feel all the more pathetic about his state of mind. “You knew you were gay going into this and you guys have so much in common! Plus, he’s not friends with your mom.”

Eren threw his head back and crossed his arms. He shut his eyes and took a deep breath, wondering how he managed to get himself into something stupid like this. Falling in love with a man fifteen years older than him that happened to be his professor wasn’t something in sight for Eren’s first year at college.

Why on Earth was he feeling bad for himself? 

“I’m just speaking from my opinion,” Erwin replied, his voice sounding like a twisted knife into Eren’s ear drums. “It might not faithfully reflect what Levi is thinking. It would be best to ask him.”

“You’re right, though,” Eren insisted, shaking his head. “Levi isn’t one to take gambles, and dating a stupid frat kid over ten years younger than him is the biggest gamble I could think of.”

Erwin shut up. Eren was devastated he did, which meant he must’ve agreed with Eren’s assessment of the situation.

“We should switch you out of his class,” Armin rushed forth and opened his laptop. “This clearly isn’t right for you. We should look into some other options. Babe, can you pull up Eren’s transcript—?”

“No,” Eren sat up, his eyes flying open. “I want to—“

“Don’t act spiteful,” Armin scolded, giving Eren a concentrated look. “This clearly isn’t good for you, mentally speaking. It would be the best thing to switch out of his class and—“

“I don’t want to forget what happened between him and I,” Eren finished.

A silence passed in the room, Armin looking slightly stunned. Erwin only looked grim about the situation, his lips pressed together and body language stiff.

“He already thinks I’m an immature kid,” Eren scoffed. “But him not telling me about being his student was the most immature thing I could think of.”

And it was; Eren was sure of that. He wanted to scoff at Levi for acting so high and mighty by not pursuing something with a younger man—how ridiculous was that? Levi wasn’t above Eren, Levi wasn’t more mature—Eren knew exactly what his play was and he was going to finish it.

Armin lowered his laptop screen. “So you’re going to stay in his class?”

“And ace it,” Eren nodded. “Yes.”

Chapter Text

Levi’s office was the closest thing the man had to a sanctuary nowadays. 

It was a neat little room on the second floor of the humanities building tucked far away down the hall with the biggest window. He remembered visiting potential office spaces back when he was a younger professor and keeping an eye on this spot before practically begging the university for it. 

Within a few years time, Levi has made it home. He made sure to keep both of his bookshelves stocked with class material as well as books intended for leisure. He also had a small, antique looking table right next to the window, where he kept a neat tea kettle and a portable stove top for days crammed with headache inducing work. This, along with the low maintenance plants he transported into his office every school year, he might as well call this place home. 

Levi settled into his slightly worn office chair and booted up his computer, scowling slightly at the dust reflected on the monitor. He booted up his computer and began at his emails right away. Heavens knew that Levi received a disgusting amount of emails per day. 

The door creaked open. 

“It’s you,” Levi spoke, recognizing the footsteps well enough to identify the intruder. 

Hanji cracked a wide grin, the bright sunlight shading her eyes. “Heya! I was just in the neighborhood and I wanted to stop by.”

“What a coincidence,” Levi mused flatly. 

“Right?” Hanji offered with a bright, almost infectious smile. She made her way to one of Levi’s chairs that faced his desk, making herself at home. “Hm, it feels so good to be back, huh?”

“You could say that.”

“Okay, enough small talk.”

Levi’s joy drained from his body. “Small talk?”

“Yep. I’m here because your erm . . . your beau is in my class. Did you know that he was enlisted at MSU?”

Levi swallowed. “Nope.” 

He was slightly panicked to learn that Eren happened to be enrolled in one of Hanji’s many psych courses. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as the eccentric woman often took on hundreds of freshmen per semester per year. 

Hanji bought this easily, too absorbed in her own thoughts. “Huh! What a coincidence, huh? He grew his hair out. Looks good.”

“Yep.”

Hanji knew not to prod. 

After the events in June, Hanji had a phase of gleefully mocking her longtime friend with joyous praise and teasing words. Constantly, would she make references to Eren, or even Armin and Erwin for that matter. While Levi could usually tolerate her teasing, this proved all too much. He snapped at her one evening during dinner, demanding her to drop the subject and that he wished to discuss Eren no longer. 

Hanji, though smiling at the time, must’ve felt his grave urgency, as the teasing stopped that very day. She still hung around Levi, though now with curious puppy dog eyes. 

“Oh, come on!” Hanji whined, her fingers dragging onto her cheeks. “This is torture! I can’t tease you about Eren at all—?”

Hanji ,” Levi warned sternly. 

“Leeevi, please! You haven’t liked someone like this since foreverrrrr! And I can’t even talk about it?”

“Not one word.”

“Seriously?”

“Is this all you came here for?” Levi snapped. He was irritated. Not only did he have to deal with Erwin’s ever prying eyes and subtle questions, but he had to deal with the barrage of Hanji coming his way. 

Hanji didn’t flinch. “Hm . . . No, actually. But I forgot it now.”

“The bane of my existence.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Hanji waved a flippant hand. “You ol’ grouch. Say, what if I let Moblit cook you a nice homemade dinner tonight, hm? Would that make my little gremlin feel better?”

“No.”

“Stinky,” Hanji replied, her mouth falling into a hurt, flat line. “Fine! If you insist on being all alone in your cute little house, next to an equally lonely cute boy, I guess I’ll let you . . .”

“Great.”

Hanji made her way to the door and stopped in the doorway, giving Levi one of her signature, ever staring and unreadable stares. Levi glanced up at her from over his monitor and waved his hand in a sweeping motion, as if to beckon her out. 

“The offer stands any time, love,” Hanji grinned, her worn book bag tucked under her arm. 

A ghost of a smile danced over Levi’s lips. “Right. See you, Hanj.”

“Ta-ta~!”

The door shut. 

Levi was alone once more. He moved his mouse and illuminated his monitor. 

He took a deep breath and looked at his emails. He skimmed the subjects of each email, keeping an eye out for anything alarming that might demand his attention right away. 

ZEKE JÄGER - Coffee? 

Levi scoffed. 

He ought to look into this strange guy some more. ‘Jaeger’ wasn’t exactly an uncommon surname, and the fact that this Zeke guy has mentioned his parents splitting . . . 

Levi should do something against Zeke’s desperate advances first. The worst possible outcome would be for Eren to discover that these two were related somehow and for Zeke to confess to pursuing Levi. More importantly, it would be devastating for Eren if he found out that Levi allowed for Zeke to pursue him. Especially while Levi rejected him for being his professor. Eren was fairly wrathful when jealous. 

Levi grimaced. 

It wasn’t often that students would fawn over Levi, but when it happened it was a lot to handle. In the past, it was mostly women, but now . . . 

Levi slid Zeke’s email to the little trash icon on the left side of his screen, breathing a sigh of relief. 

His phone vibrated against his desk, slightly startling the man. Dark gray eyes glanced towards the device before reaching out for it, missing by a few inches. 

“Shit,” Levi muttered unceremoniously as the phone fell to the floor, clattering against the wood. He bent down to pick up the device. 

-

Eren knew he was mad. That much, he knew of the mosaic emotions twirling inside him like some horrible cocktail. 

He felt the familiar embers and smoke of anger, burning his skin like a numb and uncontrollable fire. He felt all the heartache that came with rejection, and the embarrassing clawing feeling beneath that. This was a horrible, disgusting feeling—Eren ought to vomit from it. 

Instead, though, he was in front of Levi’s office. 

After his talk with Erwin and Armin, he made the quiet resolution to confront Levi. He repeated the man’s office number to himself in his head until he arrived at the destination: a warm, mahogany wood door that read Levi Ackerman on the door. 

He pushed open the door and found the man crouched behind his desk, retrieving something that Eren assumed had fallen. 

“Hey, genius,” The low, familiar voice called out sarcastically. “Next time you leave your keys in my office, your house is mine.” 

He sat up, a pair of keys and his cellphone in his hand. The playful look in his stoic features vanished, darkening into something grim. 

“Eren,” He addressed the younger man with poise, as if he were a man in front of an oncoming train. 

“Why didn’t you tell me that you’re my professor?”

Eren had no battle plan. He allowed his emotions to carry him here all the way to Levi’s office and he was now allowing his emotions to speak. 

Levi’s face fell with familiarity. “You really wanna know why?”

“No,” Eren barked honestly, humorously, even. “I don’t care about your reasons. I just wanna know why you hid it from me. Why you rode my cock knowing--”

Levi jut out a hand, his eyes narrowing at the mention of the incident. “Stop. Don’t be so vulgar, Eren. I didn’t have that knowledge prior to having sex with you.”

Eren felt himself wash over in a red light of rage at the bold faced lie. 

“Bullshit. Erwin told me--”

Levi laughed. “So that’s it, huh? You were talking to Erwin? So, all of a sudden, Erwin can read my mind and know everything I’m thinking?”

Eren faltered, wondering if it was some sort of betrayal indulging into Erwin for advice for something so private and intimate. 

“At least someone was talking to me about how you might feel!” He replied heatedly, fully aware of his rising volume. “God knows you didn’t.”

Levi made a sour face. “I thought we made it very clear to each other last time that we weren’t exactly speaking.”

“Yeah, that was before you ambushed me with this! Do you think that’s very fair to me, huh? Showing up as my professor not one week after stomping on my heart like that? Are you a psycho? Do you get off on me being miserable all the fucking time?!” Eren was loud. He was glad he was loud. His colleagues should hear about how fucked up of a person he is. 

“It was the best thing I could’ve done,” Levi replied, appearing no more than annoyed at this whole interaction, which drove Eren insane. 

Eren wanted to see him twist with hurt. 

“You would’ve never understood the paradigms that condemn our relationship had I not shown you otherwise.”

“You think me becoming your student is going to erase these feelings inside of me, Levi?” Eren asked, his heart thumping in his chest. His sentence fell towards the end, the hot and familiar sting of tears hitting the corners of his eyes. 

“It ought to, Eren. You and I shouldn’t be together and that’s final.”

“So what?” Eren snapped, annoyed that this exchange was falling into Levi’s favor, who looked even more stoic than he had before. Levi looked like he was scolding a child and that made Eren go insane. 

“So what? ” Levi’s brows raised. 

“Yeah, so what, asshole,” Eren snapped viciously, tears filling his blue green eyes. “I like you and I know you like me. Isn’t that enough for you?”

“You are twenty,” Levi reminded coldly. “And I am thirty-fucking-five. You and I liking each other won’t be enough for others and that’s what you aren’t understanding.”

“But is it enough for you ?”

“You’re missing the point,” The older man replied flippantly. “It’s-It’s not about whether I like you or not—“

“Do you?” 

“Eren—“

“Do you fucking like me back?” Eren hissed. “Answer me! It’s so simple!” 

“It doesn’t matter!” Levi’s voice raised for the first time in this conversation. “What would your mother think of us, huh? You think she would welcome me into the family with open arms? Invite me over for dinner? Are you comfortable missing out on your twenties for a man nearly twice your age? Are you okay with this gap between us?” 

This was a confession; a spill of anxiety and words that were all too familiar to Eren already. 

He wanted to scream at Levi that he knew all of this already! It plagued every thought of his over the summer! Every daydream, every nightmare, every uncomfortable conversation with his sister—everything! 

“I am.” 

“You shouldn’t be.” The sentence came as a slap. 

“So what are you saying, Levi?”

“You need to be with someone your age, Eren,” Levi replied in a matter-of-fact tone. “As should I.”

“Because that worked out so well for you last time, Mr. Dawk?”

Right away, the sinking regret of his words hit Eren’s stomach like a rock to water. His eyes flew open and he sucked in a deep breath at the way Levi looked up at him with an unspeakable fire. 

“That’s enough ,” Levi spoke with a coldness akin to knives. “We’re done here.” 

“Levi—“

“No, Eren. That was low. Get out.” 

“You messing with my feelings is hurtful.” 

“Get the fuck out, Eren!” Levi raised his voice, pointing wildly at the door. “You want to prove to me that you deserve to be with someone older while you act like fucking child! Get out, I don’t want to see your face!” 

-

“She’s really fleshing out, huh?” 

Jean looked annoyed. “Do not use the word ‘flesh’ to describe my daughter ever again, Jaeger.”

Eren glared but looked back to Agnes, who was blinking up at the rotating circle of sparkly toys on her mobile. She was in her automatic rocker, where she swung back and forth to the gentle sound of nursery rhymes. 

Agnes was a paler baby, so there was always a hue of rose on her cheeks, which directly contradicted her giant black eyes. She was growing more into her features—Mikasa’s almond shaped eyes, Jean’s deer colored brown hair and the particular button of a nose that closely resembled Mikasa’s. 

“You must be wondering why I showed up today,” Eren slouched, straightening Agnes’ socks. 

“Not really,” Jean murmured, crossing his arms and looking away from the conversation. He was standing behind Eren, who sat comfortably on the floor next to his niece. 

Eren took a deep breath. “Well it’s—I fucked up. I . . . I got into a huge fight with Levi and . . .” 

“Eren.” 

“And I threw his divorce in his face. It-It wasn’t on purpose! I just wanted to hurt him, yanno? Gain the upper hand for once? How could he walk around knowing he hurt me like this and not even bat an eye? Has he even cried over me?” 

Jean clapped a hand onto Eren’s shoulder. “Dude. I did not ask.” 

“Well, my sister isn’t here!” Eren blurted, looking wildly embarrassed. “I thought she would be so now I’m stuck with you!” 

“So call her !” Jean snapped. “I don’t care about your stupid back and forth with your neighbor, dude! Just suck his dick already! How hard is it?” 

“Pretty hard, actually.” 

“You’re sick. Agnes, don’t listen to your perverted uncle.”

Eren sighed. “But for real though, what should I do?” 

Jean groaned and sat down next to Eren. He fell to the floor and rested his head atop the knuckles of his hands, staring deeply at his daughter. It was here that Eren noticed how much more tired he looked than he did before Agnes was born, before Mikasa was pregnant and before he started his new job. 

“Give up?” Jean offered, making Eren roll his eyes. “I mean, it’s kind of a big age gap, right? How do you expect that to work, even if he did like you back?” 

“He does like me back,” Eren corrected. “Armin said—“

Jean clicked his tongue in annoyance. “Bro, what Armin has with Erwin is totally different. Those two are very compatible and Armin is . . . Well, to put it bluntly, way more mature than you.” 

“So? I like Levi!” 

“I didn’t say you didn’t like him, moron,” Jean shoved at him. “You just need to consider that—well, if he would, he would.” 

Eren’s eyes narrowed. “Huh?”

“If Levi wanted to be with you, he would, Eren,” Jean tapped his forehead. “You’re so used to being the one pursuing people that you never stopped to think it was possible for you to get rejected. Idiot.” 

“He’s my professor.” 

Jean’s eyes widened. “No way.” 

“Yes way.” 

Jean laughed. “Are you joking? That’s fucking hilarious! Holy shit, you had sex with your professor—?” 

The brunet looked annoyed. “I didn’t know, asshole! But that’s why, he said. So I think he likes me back, but he’s just using this Professor thing as an excuse. I think he’s afraid to like me back.” 

Jean shrugged and tickled the palm of Agnes’ foot with his finger. “No use stressing over it now. He’s made his choice.” 

“That’s not good enough for me.” 

Jean gave him a look. “Eren, do not. Like actually, do not. Your sister will kill you. And me, for not stopping you.”

“I’m not afraid of her.” 

“Some of us are,” Jean’s brow furrowed. “But you know what? Let’s pretend like we never had this conversation. Want to order a pizza?” 

“Oh, yeah, actually! I have a study group later, so--" 

“Cool! Give me your card.” 

“Asshole.” 

“That’s my psychotherapy fee, Eren. Card now, please.” 

 

Chapter Text

Levi burst into his bathroom. The thick and hot feeling was racing up his gut. He slammed the door shut and began to unbutton his shirt, his pale fingers moving paces slower than his mind screamed.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Levi let the words slip from his mouth, every syllable falling a fat drop of honey off a silver spoon.

The pulsing, red hot feeling that suffocated his insides was becoming too much. It warmed up his belly like a soup on a hot stove and climbed up his insides like vines. It made him so uncomfortable and hot with want that it hurried him into his car and down the street to his home, where the very source of this inconvenience lie next door.

He launched himself to the shower, where he cranked at the silver knobs until something creaked and water sprouted from his shower head. He sighed in relief at the steam that began to formulate in the air before he drew back his curtain and stepped into the shower. He kicked away the remaining crumples of clothes, as if the very threads of their existence burned a heavy burden.

The scorching hot water hit at his pale skin like pebbles, but that’s not what Levi cared about—not right now.

He pressed his back against the cool tile of the wall before his hand reached down to his aching groin. His cock was half-hard—as it had been for the past hour.

He stroked a languid hand to his cock, the sensation warming his body and springing life. Waves of pleasure began to work themselves up the front side of Levi’s body.

Levi let his head fall backwards and his eyes closed as the vivid memory of Eren manifested. At first, he saw those gorgeous green eyes followed by hot, angry words.

“Are you a psycho? Do you get off on me being miserable all the fucking time?”

Maybe. Levi mused to himself.

He could still feel the way Eren’s loud and angry voice shook his very core. The way those furious eyes raked up and down Levi’s body was enough to keep the man rolling with the heat he felt now. Eren was standing tall in his small office, his broad shoulders tense with anger and that dark brown hair framing his slim face—and that jawline—

“Fuck . . .” He let out a strangled groan as he tightened the grip on his cock. “Eren—“

“Yeah, so what, asshole?!” He could still hear Eren yell at him, his voice deep and shaking with hurt.

Levi whined slightly, stroking his cock faster. His memories and fantasies interlaced into one concoction—Eren’s drunken hands running over his, the salty, full bodied taste of his cock stretching Levi’s jaw, the hot anger of his throat against him, the press of Levi’s desk against his own bare hips—

“E-Eren!” Levi called out, his cock pulsating in his hand. His hips stuttered and the Earth went blank for a moment as Levi came, ropes of white cum erupting over his cock. Levi gasped in desperate breaths of air as waves of static ran through his blood and eventually lessened.

He stood still for a moment, the water continuing to rain down in a steady stream. The steam filled the shower, suffocating Levi in a mix of hot air and humidity. He licked at his lips and looked downwards at his still hardened cock, shame and guilt already creeping in.

Levi took a hesitant step forward before his heart lurched into his throat. Levi had no time to process what happened before he felt himself fall backwards. He launched out his wrist instinctively, which proved to be a big mistake.

Pop!

Levi called out in pain as his right hand wrist erupted in a web of throbbing pain. He writhed on the floor of the shower and felt his teeth grit as his wrist began to swell and throb.

He managed to scoot himself to sit upwards and against the tiled wall of his bathtub. In a heavy moment of embarrassing agony, Levi could only hear his heavy breathing and the sound of the shower pattering against his body.

“Fuck me,” Levi grit his teeth, his wrist feeling red with pain. He spent a brief moment in disbelief, still quite unsure if he was experiencing reality or some very fucked up dream.

“Hey, siri?”

A moment of silence.

“Can you call Hanji for me?”

Calling Hanji . . .

-

“A sprain!” Hanji skipped out of the doctor’s office. Levi scowled at the woman—she might as well have kicked her damn heels together. What an idiot.

After calling Hanji, Levi managed to gingerly get himself out of the bathtub and dry himself off. He sat himself on the toilet and attempted to figure out his next move before his friends arrived, but alas, they showed up quickly and got an eye full of something they weren’t meant to see.

“That’s still bad,” Levi countered, running his left hand over his new cast. “I sprained my hand in the beginning of the semester and I have over a hundred students.”

“Oh, get over it. At least you didn’t break that third leg of yours, huh?” Hanji cackled, nudging an elbow Levi’s way.

Levi blushed. “Hanji—“

“At least you could use your fingers!”

Erwin interjected. “That’s very true, Levi. How did you even fall in the shower anyway?”

“That’s—“

“I told you to get a bath math!” Hanji whined. “I have one! It feels like grass beneath my feet~”

“Why would you want to feel like you’re outside in a shower?”

“It’s nice?”

Erwin groaned audibly. “You two are impossible. Levi, let’s feed you.”

“No.”

“Really!?” Hanji squawked. “You just sprained your wrist and now you won’t—Oh, come on. We aren’t taking ‘no’ for an answer, do you hear me?”

-

The spoon clattered once more, spilling droplets of brown colored broth and sliced vegetables onto the table’s surface. Levi’s agitated lips rolled into his teeth, annoyed he couldn’t get any of the damn soup into his mouth. He’d been using his left hand, which was tricker than he thought.

Levi sucked in air through his teeth, a curse word brewing beneath his tongue. He glared at those around him, knowing full well his audience wouldn’t appreciate that sort of language. His audience, being Hanji, her two kids and Erwin of course.

He was already grouchy. He had a half-assed shower and still felt dirty. Not to mention the hidden embarrassment that was still creeping in the pit of his stomach. How humiliating, really—to sprain your wrist doing something as gross as masturbation. Levi didn’t masturbate often and of course the one time he did . . .

Levi felt as though his wrist sprain was some divine punishment or something. Perhaps it was karma? A sign of some sort?

Maybe it meant that Levi wasn’t meant to lust after the idea of Eren if he was refusing to allow the romantic relationship between them to foster. That must’ve been what the universe was screaming at him right now, right?

“Is Uncle Levi going to be okay?” Sonny, Hanji’s older son, tilted his head towards his mother.

Hanji laughed, shoveling a piece of bread in her mouth. “Of course he will, silly! It’s just a sprained wrist! The doctor said it will take 6 weeks to heal!”

Sonny’s giant brown eyes widened. “That’s—That’s a long time! How many months is that?”

“Well, let’s do the math . . .”

Bean, the younger one, looked skeptically at Levi’s wrist. “Can I sign it, Uncle Levi?”

“No,” Erwin corrected with a much gentler voice than Levi would’ve used. “It’s not that kind of cast.”

“Here,” Levi gently tossed a napkin this way. “How about you draw Uncle Levi a picture, hm? That’s much more permanent than a cast.”

“Perm-ah-mim?” Bean blinked.

Permanent,” Levi repeated. “Permanent means forever. Never going bye-bye.”

Bean nodded vacantly.

“You’ll learn.” Levi decided.

Hanji leaned lovingly into her perched arm. “My little man is learning so much in kindergarten already! Right, Beanie boy? Tell Uncle E and Uncle Levi what you’re learning.”

“Yes!” Bean grinned, his crayon scribbling harsh shaped against the sheets of napkin. “We are learning adding and numbers.

“But it’s boring, huh, beanie?”

Bean grinned sheepishly. “No.”

“Oh, my little Einstein!” Hanji leaned over to pinch his cheek.

At the sight, Levi couldn’t help but feel warmth and affection. Hanji, in all her earnest and honest craziness, was an amazing mother. She led her parenting role with confidence, patience, curiosity and love. Her two sons were her entire world and nothing could rip them apart.

“Thank you for dinner, Hanji,” Erwin mentioned, standing tall. “I have to get going, though. Armin needs a ride back from a study group of his. Levi?”

Levi stood. “Sure. I’ll drive?”

Erwin gave a hearty laugh, which cracked the faintest of smiles on Levi’s usually stoic features.

Hanji smiled warmly. “It was nice having you two. Don’t be strangers, okay? Say bye, boys!”

“Wait!” Bean whined. “Uncle Levi—?”

“A picture for me?” Levi slapped his good hand onto the back of Bean’s chair before leaning down.

“Yes!”

Levi’s eyes fell upon the set of organized scribbles on the napkin. Between the ripped corner, the bundle of dark shadows in the middle and the gray streaks around the bottom half of the napkin, Levi couldn’t tell what it was.

“Hm, I like it.”

“It’s you,” Bean explained. “See? Here’s your hair and-and here’s your muscles. Except this time you have more muscles so you don’t break any bones. And I put some pillows on the floor so you-so you don’t fall. Kay?”

“‘Kay,” Levi nodded. “I love this. I won’t break anymore bones, you hear me?”

“Good,” Bean nodded, his brows furrowing eagerly. “You promise?”

“Super duper promise.”

“Take it home,” The six year old held out the drawing eagerly. “So you don’t forget.”

-

“It’s good to see Hanji’s kids again,” Erwin mentioned in the car. “I always feel like I’m too busy to see them.”

“No kidding,” Levi said, clicking his seatbelt into place. “Those little runts have really grown.”

“When are you going to pop a few out?”

“Ha!” Levi laughed. “Find me a husband, first.”

Erwin gave him a look.

Second husband,” Levi rolled his eyes. “What about you, huh? You’re much more stable than I am.”

Surprisingly, the blond didn’t think twice before answering. “Armin and I are waiting until he has a career first.”

Levi blinked at him, recoiling at the serious answer to his teasing. “Are you for real? You’re actually planning on it with that kid? How long have you two even been together?”

“We don’t need more time together to know what feels right,” Erwin replied, almost smugly. “We don’t plan on breaking up and that’s all that matters.”

Levi wasn’t happy with that answer, but he saw no productive reason for speaking down on Erwin’s relationship. He was always a hopeless romantic, and there was nothing about that kind of thinking that made sense to Levi anyway.

“God, fall is cold this time around,” Levi grumbled, squinting at the sunset in front of them.

The sky was washed in a saturated hue of purple that blended with the fading oranges and yellows of the day. It looked heavenly, and it made Levi feel ache for a place that was neither here nor there.

“I think you and Armin are a good couple,” Levi filled the silence, allowing for the affection to soak his heart for a moment. “Whether you want to believe me or not.”

Thick eyebrows rose. “No, no— I believe you. Thank you, Levi. That means a lot coming from you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Erwin gave him a small smile. “You’re a good friend, Levi.”

“Good enough to name your kid after me?”

“We’ll see.”

The car stopped in front of a tall house. The house looked normal enough, with traces of life shown in the decorations and lights in the windows. Levi didn’t recognize the place.

Armin was the first one to appear. He opened the door and turned in the doorway to exchange some words with the shadows behind him before hopping down the steps of the porch.

Right behind him though, was a taller figure with a familiar mop of dark brown hair on his head. He was dressed the same way he was in Levi’s office earlier, with a faded hoodie and a pair of sweat shorts.

Fuck. This was most definitely a sign.

Levi immediately snapped his head away and towards the road. He made sure to tuck his sprained wrist away as well—there was no need for Eren, of all people, to get up in his business like this.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Levi hissed, a snake of tension stabbing him through the gut and worming his way up to his throat. He alternated between switching his panicked eyes to the road and to the pair of college students heading straight for their car.

Erwin was immediately apologetic. “Levi—I’m-I’m so sorry. I had not planned for this, I swear! Usually, Armin’s study groups are—“

Click.

“Hey, babe!” Armin popped the passenger side door open, startling Levi. “Oh—“

Levi was mortified. He froze. He didn’t care to look at the shorter blond looking at him inquisitively, but rather, into the gem like eyes of Eren, who was staring at him like a ghost.

“We’ll sit in the back,” Armin croaked after what felt like hours. The door shut, allowing for Levi and Erwin to exchange panicked looks.

“Erwin—“

“Just be calm, Levi. We don’t need—“

The passenger doors opened simultaneously as Eren and Armin climbed in, with Eren right behind Levi and Armin behind Erwin. Levi kept his stare focused on the road, ignoring the slight glances of Eren’s face in the rear view mirror.

“I hope you don’t mind I brought Eren, babe,” Armin spoke. “He—He um . . . He just wanted to study for a couple of classes and I thought it would be nice to bring him.”

“Yeah, sorry,” Eren spoke. Levi burned.

Erwin smiled tightly. “It’s no worries. It would actually be more convenient since Levi’s here, huh? Since you guys live right next to each other and all . . .”

“Start the car, please,” Levi’s voice came out gravelly.

An awkward cough. Levi couldn’t differentiate the source of it. Maybe it was Erwin, maybe it was himself, but all Levi could feel was a heavy presence on his entire back.

A silence fell over the car of men, making Levi’s gut twist with something sharp and heavy. It was a little surreal—and almost embarrassing to have Eren so close to him again. Only several hours ago they were exchanging heated words back and forth like some fiery tennis ball match. And only a few hours ago, Levi was masturbating to that very memory like some fucked up old man.

Levi swallowed his panic. He needed to stop thinking about that—at least for the sake of the car ride. He could shut his stupid mouth, hop from the car and run up the sidewalk to his house once this was all over.

“How was the study group?” Erwin asked politely enough, freeing Levi from his ridiculous thoughts.

Armin answered quickly. “It was fine, but—wait, you know what? Oh my god, you know that guy I told you about? That one—“

“Benjamin—no, Boris?”

Eren’s eyes lit up. “That guy?! You’ve told Erwin already?”

Armin nodded, grinning with a slight, disgusted twist in his eye. “Yeah! God, it was so cringe inducing. Babe, he pulled me to the side before we started studying and asked if I was doing anything tonight! Isn’t that just the worst thing you ever heard?”

Eren laughed. “And you said—“

“No, don’t say it!” Armin cut a hand forth, giggling to himself. “You’re gonna make me sound mean!”

“You were mean,” Eren corrected.

“Well, if there’s a nicer way to reject someone maybe you could let me know!”

Eren’s smile fell.

The car fell silent. Levi pinched the space between his brows and shook his head slightly. He considered, for a brief second, opening the car door and rolling out of the moving vehicle. He already had a sprained wrist, what was another injury to him?

Maybe he could injure both his hands and quit his job so he could never see Eren again.

Erwin spoke again, attempting to diffuse the tense air that has taken place. “So what did you say to him?”

Armin swallowed, glancing at Levi from his peripheral view. “Uh—nothing crazy. I just said I was going to watch movies with my boyfriend. That’s all.”

Levi looked onto the road, feeling sick. The road and sidewalk blurred into hues of light gray and dark gray, dotted with lines of yellow from the street or green from the grass. If there was more conversation to be had between the other three men in the car, Levi wasn’t sure. He tuned out and mechanically blinked every once in awhile.

“Here we are—“ Erwin pulled to a stop at the space right between Levi and Eren’s homes.

Levi curled his fingers, mentally prepping himself. He wondered if this exchange would end in another bout of anger; nothing would result from this except for hurt feelings and egos.

“Bye, Eren! I’ll see you tomorrow!”

“Text me, Levi,” Erwin spoke clearly amongst the fog in his brain.

“Love you, Armin.”

“Love you too, Eren! Bye, bye!”

A door slam. Levi was frozen on the sidewalk but so was Eren. He wondered why he wasn’t hauling ass right now up the sidewalk and into his house, but he had no time to think. Eren was speaking.

“What happened to your wrist?”

Levi blinked up at the taller man and looked instinctively behind him, but Erwin’s car was already down the road and disappearing down a turn.

“Oh,” Levi blinked up at Eren before looking back down at his wrist. “I-I fell.”

“Do you need help getting in?” Eren asked, his voice twisted with worry. “How are you going to eat? Do you want me to bring you stuff? My mom said she was making posole, could I bring you some?”

Eren’s words were fast. They fell like a leaking faucet into a puddle of water.

“I’m not hungry,” Levi said unsteadily. “I’m just going to go inside—“

“Do you want me to bring in your plants? It’s getting cold out.”

“Jesus,” Levi snapped, taking in a deep breath. “You don’t hold a grudge, do you?”

He was smiling hollowly, but he was irritated. His skin felt warm and prickly, like the march of a colony of ants all over. He was annoyed that someone could be so kind—so willing to help after such an ugly exchange was had earlier today. If only he knew . . .

“I feel bad,” Eren admitted aloud, much to Levi’s surprise. “I . . . I had a deep talk with Armin and-and I’m not proud of the way I talked to you today.”

The two held a steady gaze for a moment or two, with Eren’s mouth not moving. Levi was feeling panicked—perhaps Eren expected some form of apology from him as well? Should Levi say something?

“Are you saying sorry or what?”

Levi wanted to smack himself in the mouth for how rude that came across.

“Yes,” Eren’s eyes fell in shame. “And this is me talking. Not Armin. I’m sorry, Levi. It wasn’t fair for me to speak like that to you, no matter what went down.”

Levi didn’t want to hear this. He didn’t want to hear Eren kicking himself in the ass for what happened because that’s what Levi wanted to do.

Alas, Eren continued.

“I know I hurt your feelings. I was being so stupid saying all that shit to you because I wanted you to feel what I was feeling,” Eren spoke, his mouth running a million miles an hour. He was wringing his hands, and that’s all Levi could see.

“And that’s not an excuse for my behavior. My behavior was unacceptable. In fact, I don’t . . . I don’t think any of what I said earlier was any form of like—acceptable. At all.” His hollow chuckle died out quickly.

“I see . . .”

“I’m sorry,” Eren restated. “To sum it all up, I’m sorry. And I hope you can forgive me.”

Levi was unsure of how to pursue this. Out of all the things for ‘childish’ Eren to do, apologizing was dead last on that list. Levi was completely blindsided by this move, and he felt suffocated by it.

In his tumultuous relationship with Nile, he was familiar with all sort of tactics: low jabs at each other, rough sex, name calling, guilting, spouts of jealousy, ego—but nothing like this.

“Do you not mean what you said earlier, then?” Levi asked unsteadily, surprised at how vulnerable his voice sounded.

Eren blinked, taken aback by the question. “The—which part?”

Levi swallowed. “You . . . The you liking me, part.”

Levi felt like an idiot. His throat was all hot and the words felt like cotton on his tongue. He couldn’t help but feel nervous and clammy, like-like he were some kid in high school. He couldn’t help it, though. The very form and shape of Eren was enough to give him butterflies.

“I meant it,” Eren nodded eagerly. Levi swallowed thickly.

“And-and I still do um—I still do like you. But I understand if you don’t want to be with me.”

Can’t,” Levi couldn’t help but correct Eren. Despite all the warm and welcoming feelings that Eren brought, he knew it was wrong. How could it not be wrong?

Eren looked hurt. “Don’t say ‘can’t’, Levi. You don’t know what it does to me when you say you ‘can’t’ instead of ‘won’t’.”

“But it’s the truth, Eren.”

“It’s not,” Eren argued, his voice still gentle. “It’s—it’s like a soft, fucked up version of the truth. It makes me think you like me back, but-but not enough to be with me . . . does that make sense?”

“Yes,” Levi answered quietly.

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be blunt but it’s just how I feel.”  

Levi felt a gut punch. He knew that Eren had no intention of hurting his feelings or even interrogating him this time, which made the whole conversation hurt tenfold.

Eren had stated before that he was hurt with Levi’s avoidance of his feelings, but this time, he spoke with hurt and honesty instead of the intention to provoke. While both sentiments rang just as true, it was different this time.

Levi had a sprained wrist to remind him it was different.

“I’m sorry,” Levi felt his shoulders sag. “You’re . . . You’re right about-about that. You’re completely right. I’ll be honest with you, okay? And I’ll start right now.”

Eren’s eyes lit up and he braced himself. He sucked in a breath and nodded in small, rapid movements, as if a coach had told him he had five seconds before jumping on the field. A golden smile began to form at Eren’s lips, which made Levi shake with antici—

A front door opened.

“EREN!!!” A familiar voice called from Eren’s house. “Dinner!”

The two men jumped in place and looked over, seeing Carla standing there, apron in tow. Levi tilted his body away, hiding his wrist.

His heart raced. Levi could swear he heard the reverbs of his heart in his ear drums at the sight of the woman, who was so familiar to him yet stood so far away. Her outline intimidated him.

“Oh, hi, Levi!” She waved a hand, grinning. “I made posole, you want some?”

Levi gave a curt wave with his left hand. “Hi—yes, um, save me some! I’m not hungry but I would die to try it.”

Carla looked satisfied with that answer. “Hm! Eren, ven aquí, okay? It’s cold out there!”

“Five minutes?” Eren called back. Levi gave him a brief look, to which Eren met with a small smile.

“No more than five minutes, okay? Te lo digo por tu bien, Eren!”

The two men watched as the door closed again and once there appeared to be some peace, they met each other’s eyes.

“Like I was saying,” Levi’s voice was quieter this time. “I’ll be honest with you, Eren.”

“Yes, please,” Eren nodded eagerly. “I would appreciate that a lot.”

“I do like you,” Levi cleared his throat, the heat in his stomach making his breath increase somehow. “I do want to be with you, Eren. I’m sorry, I’m not good at this—“

“No!” Eren blurted. “That’s okay. P-Please keep talking—!”

He swallowed thickly. “R-Right. Well, I just—fuck—I’m really sorry. For not being truthful or-or considerate with your feelings. I was dishonest to you and most importantly, myself.”

“But?”

“There is no ‘but’ this time. I like you. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.”

“You know I’m gonna kiss you now, right?”

His heart thumped. Levi had so many words—so many thoughts that all crashed into one another like-like a boat? Like a car?

He couldn’t think. Fuck, what crashes into each other? What if Eren’s mom came out? What if—?

In one motion, Eren slipped his warm, calloused hands right under Levi’s ears. His lips came fast and closed around Levi’s slightly thinner lips, suffocating the man in a way he never knew he needed.

Levi accepted the flatness of his body with a welcome, his own hands coming up on Eren’s broad chest and shoulders. His eyes closed and he leaned into the heat above him.

“I’m—We’re—“ Levi stuttered. “I—You—“

Eren laughed. A loud laugh that startled Levi. Before the older man could stop and admire the gorgeous smile that cracked Eren’s face open, he was met with another kiss. And another. And another.

“I’ve never been this happy,” Eren said vacantly, his mind clearly adrift. Eren hugged Levi close, his arms wrapping like a big blanket. “I want to remember this moment forever.”

“Until—“

“Don’t ruin it,” Eren pulled his head back, his face impossibly close. “Don’t ruin it with your shitty attitude, Levi. I’m kissing you again.”

He delivered swiftly on his promise. His lips launched forward and met Levi’s with an impatient eagerness that was unique to Eren Jaeger.

“That’s a very good way at shutting me up,” Levi murmured, the smile on his own face making his cheeks hurt.

“Good,” Eren murmured. “Let me shut you up some more.”

Levi braced himself for another kiss until the sound of a door creak ripped through the air, launching the two men backwards from each other.

“Eeeeren!” His mother sang. “Listo?”

“Y-Yeah!” Eren called back. “I’m coming!”

He looked and gave a smile, making Levi catch his breath, just as if he were looking at him for the first time.

“I’ll call you tonight,” Eren promised.

Levi blinked, not realizing the warmth that’s spread throughout his face.

“Okay,” He nodded. “I’ll see you later.”

Chapter Text

Eren’s phone call came while Levi was in the bath.

Right after he departed from Eren, Levi prepared himself a hot bath with salts, loads of soap and even a few candles. It was the perfect ambience for Levi to scrub himself raw.  With his cast wrapped crudely in plastic wrap, Levi felt leagues more confident getting himself clean this time.

Levi felt comforted by the slip of the warmth bath. He anxiously ran his fingers along the sides of the tub, the giddy feeling in his chest amplifying with every glance of memory from earlier. He could still feel the gentle warmth of Eren’s soft lips and the way his arms wrapped around Levi’s body. It was enough to send him straight into the stratosphere, and he was eager to hear from the brunet tonight.

Levi’s wistful daydreams were interrupted by the harsh vibration of his cellphone against the lid of his toilet seat. He picked up the device and squinted at the contact name. 

EREN JAEGER

He smirked before putting the call onto speaker.

“I was wondering when you would call,” Levi made his best efforts at sounding collected. “It’s getting late. I have classes to teach, you know.”

He expected Eren to laugh or perhaps return some retort, but instead, Levi was met with the gentle wave of nervousness that was Eren’s voice, which made Levi freeze.

“I know, I’m sorry,” Eren’s voice rang. “My mom and I were uh . . . we were talking, I guess you could say.”

Shit.

“Good news? Bad news?” Levi asked, doing his best to sound detached for Eren’s sake. He could feel a hard stone inside him free fall to the pit of his stomach.

“It’s not bad. She doesn’t know about us, as in, what happened between us . . . but she thinks um—she thinks that I-that I like you in some weird way.”

“I would hope so,” Levi snorted.

“You should sound more scared,” Eren laughed nervously. “Fuck, I know I am.”

Levi was scared. He was scared beyond his mind. He was terrified when Carla nearly caught them kissing and he was terrified when he befriended her all those months ago and met her attractive son only moments later. 

Levi swallowed. “Well, it’s a little late to be having second thoughts about this.”

“I’m—I’m not having second thoughts, I swear—“

“You can still back out of this, you know,” Levi spoke, a loose playfulness to his words. “You still have time to find someone else.”

“Shut up,” Eren’s voice cut through the line. “Don’t mope during our honeymoon phase, Levi.”

“I’m not trying to mope,” Levi protested weakly. “I’m just—I’m trying to be realistic, here. I know that parents can have certain expectations—“

“I’ve never done what my parents expected of me,” Eren snorted. “Besides, my mom doesn’t have expectations. She’s always wanted Mikasa and I to be with someone we love and that’s it.”

Love. Levi swallowed. That was an intense word.

He shouldn’t dwell. He shouldn’t call Eren out on his Freudian slip, either. Not when the younger was still feeling so anxious. Levi made sure to hold onto the small bloom of warmth that word provided, though.

Eren continued. “Me being scared of what my mom will think of me is totally different from how badly I want you, Levi.”

Levi rolled his bottom lip into his mouth as the last part of Eren’s sentence soaked into his core, igniting a small spark at the base of his pelvis.

“Does that make sense?” Eren’s voice pulled Levi back down to earth.

“I think she’ll come to terms with it,” Levi cleared his throat. “Eventually. All parents do.”

“Well, you’re her friend, right?”

“Sure?”

“Has she ever like—mentioned you and me?”

“In what way?”

Eren huffed, frustrated. “Well—ugh, it’s hard to explain. Has she ever mentioned you and me in any sort of romantic context? Like, being together, or whatever? Or even hanging out?”  

Levi grimaced. He could definitely think of a few instances in which Carla lightly drilled Levi on Eren’s whereabouts that weekend in June, to which he met with a terrified stutter. He remembered cursing Eren for letting it slip that the two were together in some capacity that weekend, but Carla then went on a tangent about Eren’s safety. Levi was off the hook for that one, but he still kept his guard up.

“She thinks I’m watching over you,” Levi spoke honestly. “She always talks about how you look up to me or whatever, so—“

“Oh my god,” Eren cried. “You think my mom views you as my surrogate dad or something?”

Levi shrugged. “Possibly. Is that what she mentioned earlier?”

“Kind of? She was just going on about you being a good presence in my life. Like teaching me responsibility and independence and all that shit.”

“And?” Levi snorted. “Do you feel anymore independent or responsible than you did before we met?”

“No. I want to be around you all the time. Which is probably the least responsible or independent thing I can think of.”

Levi found an odd comfort in those words. He was finding solace in the fact that Eren was aware of this reality and that he was willing to engage with it. Something about that was very attractive to Levi.

“But anything else?” Eren asked. “Has she talked about my dating life to you? Like what kinda girl she wants for me?”

“Yes, actually. She said that the perfect candidate for you would be a man 15 years your senior.”

“Asshole.”

“Jokes aside, not really,” Levi answered honestly. “She’s complained before that you were a lady’s man in high school—“

“Oh my God, she did not.”

“She did,” Levi chuckled at the memory. “She said that she hated meeting what she recalled, ‘a new plaything a week with that kid’.”

“Jesus fucking Christ. Anything else totally mortifying?”

Levi thought about it. “Hm. Well, I remember her mostly being upset that these girls weren’t ever permanent. She said that you seemed deeply unhappy with each one.”

Levi remembered this venting session with Carla well. The two were sipping some homemade lemonade at the corner of some obscure event at the farmer’s market. Carla, who’d just gotten into an argument with her son that morning, was fresh and ready with frustration and Levi, her willing participant, listened. She complained about Eren being unable to find a nice girl to settle down with, which mostly led to a string of tangents about Agnes potentially being her only grandchild and how Carla grew up in a large Mexican family with many kids.

“Glad she knows every single interaction I’ve ever had with women,” Eren muttered. “I’m sure my mom is just mad because I’m not settled down yet. At least to her knowledge.”

“Hey, don’t shoot the messenger,” Levi retorted. “I’m just telling you what she told me on one off hand occasion.”

Levi wasn’t well aware of Eren’s past. He knew bits and pieces told from the biased and judgmental lens of his mother, but that was hardly enough incriminating evidence to make Eren appear as some wild party kid unworthy of redemption. To Levi, someone who’s seen many kinds of personalities in his years of teaching and college, he saw Eren differently.

The next words came soaked with insecurity. “I wasn’t some kind of neighborhood pass around, you know.”

“It wouldn’t matter if you were.”

“I know,” Eren mumbled. “But I hate that my mom gave you that impression. I mean, she’s not wrong but she’s also not right. I did have meaningful relationships with those girls! I cared about them.”

Levi was quiet. He was unsure where this conversation was headed, so he’d rather sit in the passenger side for now. It was probably best to let Eren vent, anyway.

“I still like girls and I liked having sex with them, but sometimes it felt—it felt like— stale, y’know? I mean, it turned me on that they were turned on and I was happy to help them out, but . . .”

“But?” Levi offered.

Eren sounded like he was about to vomit. “I wasn’t into casual sex with girls. My mom probably thinks I had my dick in everything with boobs on it but that’s so not true! I really did care about the girls I had sex with and I tried my best but it always felt like something was missing. It felt empty.”

“Are you asking to bottom, Eren?” Levi teased loosely.

“I-You—You’re—! That’s irrelevant—!”

“Sorry, go on.”

“What do you think?”

Levi was surprised at how vulnerable the question sounded. It reminded Levi that underneath all the shit talking, the muscles, the arrogance and the temper, was someone who was deeply insecure about who they truly were. Levi’s stomach burned at how familiar the personality was.

“If you needed an emotional attachment to enjoy sex with women, you’re probably gay,” Levi blurted, dread running down his spine at how blunt and crude that sounded.

“Sorry, I don’t know if that’s particularly helpful. You could be bi.” 

“No, it is,” Eren’s voice was gentler. “And I dunno. I could be. I just don’t know. It’s—it’s weird to describe this to the only guy I’ve ever liked, but it’s the truth. When we had sex—when you and I had sex, it was like scratching a deep itch I never knew I had. I’ve been craving it ever since. And not just with you, either.”

“. . . Ouch?”

“No, I’ve been watching a lot of gay porn,” Eren corrected, which made Levi involuntarily laugh out loud.

“What?” Eren cried defensively. “It’s not like you were giving me any action!”

Levi shook his head before running a wet hand through his hair. “No, you’re just—you’re very funny, Eren. And not in the way you think you are.”

“Okay? Asshole.”

“You know I want to take this slow, right?” Levi prodded, his words edging on the something a bit bolder.

Eren was quiet for a bit. “Like, what do you mean?”

Levi rolled his eyes. “As in, I want to get to know you first. Not your dick. We should go out on dates and enjoy each others company. What kind of books do you read? What’s your favorite movie? All the sappy stuff. We didn’t get a lot of opportunity to do that the first time around.”

“I didn’t know how good the sex was going to be the first time around,” Eren argued, his voice playfully light.

“Tch,” Levi grit his teeth. “Idiot. Take this seriously. I don’t even know your fucking major.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry . . . I guess you have a point,” Eren hummed. “But you know I don’t believe you, right?”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Levi asked, half interested in the conversation now. The water around him was getting lukewarm and Levi thought wistfully to his soft bed.

“You’re down bad.”

“Down . . . bad?” Levi asked, the words falling in a strange order out of his mouth.

His brain tilted. He’s never heard those words in that exact order before. Was this some sort of lingo?  

Levi could see Eren snicker into his phone. “Yeah, you’re down bad. Here, let me look up the urban dictionary definition—“

“Oh, yeah, this age gap isn’t bothersome at all,” Levi sang sarcastically.

“Here! ‘Depressingly horny’. Yeah, you’re depressingly horny. You’re down bad. Do you see? Down bad?”

Levi rubbed at his temple. “Yeah, I think I got it. I’m down bad.”

He didn’t get it. Levi was sure that ‘down bad’ was meant to be an insult of some kind, but he wasn’t quite sure how . . . Levi shook his head. He decided to stand up in the bathtub with the help of his good hand. With a swift movement, he grabbed the towel off of the rack on the wall and began to dry his body. He stepped out of the bath and shook his head slightly, splattering drips of water about.n

“Yeah,” Eren affirmed, his voice echoing off the bathroom walls. “Down bad.”

“How am I the one who’s ‘down bad’ when you’re the one bemoaning about missing the sex we had?” Levi chortled, reaching downwards to drain the soapy water from the tub.

“Easy. I knew you were down bad when I caught you watching me that one time. When I was changing your brake pads . . . ?”

Levi froze and glanced down at his phone sitting innocently on the closed toilet scene. He heard slight giggling from the other end, which didn’t help all the heat that resides beneath his skin.

“Hey, nothing wrong with looking,” Eren snickered. “But what I’m saying is . . . y’know, if you look out your window, you might find something else you might like to see.”

Levi let the silence drop with that one. He bit the inside of his cheek and wondered what he could’ve possibly said next to ease the conversation into something more PG, but of course, something like that simply wasn’t possible with Eren.

He shook his head and continued to dry his body. If he were a true man of his word, he would take the initiative to ignore Eren and his antics right now.

“Stunned into silence?” Eren teased. “Can I send you a picture to jog your memory?”

“Tell me you’re not trying to have phone sex with me right now,” Levi said, pulling a pair of boxer briefs over his pale legs and snugly over his hips. “I have a sprained wrist, Eren.” 

“You don’t have to take me up on that offer,” Eren replied, his infliction so careless it made Levi annoyed. “I’m just letting you know that the curtains to my window are always open. And my window is never locked, so if you find yourself wanting to hop a wall or two . . .”

Levi chuckled, self conscious of how nervous he sounded already. But that is simply how nervous Eren made him at times. He couldn’t believe the brunet would be so bold within their first day of agreeing to be together, but he could hardly be surprised.

“You don’t waste any time, do you?”

“I’ve been missing you, Levi!” Eren whined back. “My libido is off the walls right now, man! It feels like I’m just itching to fuck you. It’s like I’m—“

“Down bad.”

Eren sounded offended. “You’re down bad.”

“So?”

Eren sounded confused. “So? That’s all you have to—“

“So what if I’m down bad? What if I wanted you to come over into my house right now?” Levi asked. “What if I pulled you onto my couch and got on top of you? What if I rode your cock until you came inside me? What if I bent over my dining room table and let you fuck me until you couldn’t stand anymore, hm? Eren?”

Silence.

“That’s what I thought, you little shit,” Levi snarled, picking up his phone. “I’ll see you Thursday. Don’t cream yourself before then.”

Levi hung up his phone swiftly.

Chapter Text

Levi was exhausted.

This wasn’t unusual for his Tuesdays and Thursdays, since he held two introductory level courses nearly back-to-back on these days. Levi exhausted himself just thinking of all those freshmen waiting for him in the classroom.

This exhaustion was new, though. Levi actually canceled his 9:30 lecture this morning in order to get some proper sleep. He wanted to kick himself in the ass for that one, since Levi was never one to cancel class for any reason, but he couldn’t help himself. Eren was insatiable.

Ever since the two made up only a couple of days prior, Eren has been blowing up his phone. Eren would send him stupid videos, to which Levi (eventually) began watching, though he was annoyed he had to download a whole separate app to see. Eren told him to prepare accordingly, since he would send a lot of ‘tick tocks’ his way. When the two weren’t texting, they were on the phone with one another, at Eren’s request, of course.

One of those phone calls happened last night. Eren spoke in depth about classes and movies and whatnot, but he also lightly drilled Levi on his past. This was something Levi kept vague about himself, much to Eren’s annoyance, but he digressed.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Levi remembered Eren complaining. “So let me get this straight, you get to know alllll about my parents’ divorce and I don’t even get to know what your mom and dad are like?”

Levi snorted. “They’re not worth knowing about, Eren. Trust me.”

“FUCK—!” Eren cursed harshly, startling Levi. “Sorry. I’m getting tilted. Halo Infinite.”

“Uh-huh.” Levi remembered he was already falling asleep. He tapped at his phone and glanced at the time and groaned miserably.

It was nearly 2 in the morning. He was way, way past his bedtime as it was, but Eren was—well, Eren was Eren.

“Will you let me meet them some day?” Eren asked, sounding innocent enough.

“Hmm . . .” Levi murmured, his eyelids heavy.

“Levi?”

“Mm . . .”

He ended up falling asleep to the sound of Eren gently playing his video game and cursing gently over the microphone.

He woke up on time, with his phone as hot as a brick of lava and his final alarm ringing.

God damn it.

Levi entered his Thursday afternoon lecture and placed his bag at the podium. He zipped open his bag and began taking out material for the course today. Exhaustion cloaked the back of his eyes and the air around him spun slightly.

His phone buzzed.

[Eren]
might be late to classsss lol

Levi scoffed.

[Levi]
Was I supposed to be surprised?

[Eren]
No but I wanted to be polite lmao

[Eren]
some profs are intense abt that shit and idk if u were or not sooooo

[Eren]
pls don’t knock my grade down babe 🥺🥺🙏🏼🙏🏼

[Levi]
I don’t give a shit.

[Eren]
rude

[Eren]
btw you were talking in ur sleepnLOL

[Levi]
No I wasn’t.

[Eren]
ya u were ! it was rly cute tho

[Eren]
:) ❤️ ❤️

[Levi]
What time did you even go to sleep.

[Eren]
uhhhhhh idk

[Eren]
I mean, the sun was definitely out so

[Levi]
Idiot.

Levi put his phone down. Face down. Unfortunately, the sudden motion caused his entire laptop bag to topple over and fall onto the ground with an embarrassingly loud clatter.

“Fuck,” Levi hissed, glaring at his useless right arm. He bent down before he heard the gentle thumps of approaching footsteps.

A husky voice sounded. “Here, let me—“

Levi’s throat felt as though it shrunk. Out of the corner of his eye, he could recognize the icy blond hair and the large hands. Shit. Not this guy again.

Before Levi could open his mouth and shoo this man away, he was already holding Levi’s laptop bag and various papers in his hands.

Levi straightened himself out to make eye contact with him. He tried to not grimace as he forced himself to politely accept the dropped articles from Zeke, but it was extremely difficult to keep a straight face.

He doesn’t think he’s ever seen Zeke up close before. It was hard to see the resemblance between him and Eren, but it was still there. The two shared strong eyebrows and a stark jawline, but that was about it. Zeke was taller, blonder and had a stronger nose. Eren looked too much like Carla for there to be—

“What happened to your wrist?” He made a point to motion to Levi’s right hand arm.

Levi waved his left hand dismissively. “It was nothing, really. I just fell in the shower.”

This was too much information already. Levi hated standing here. He hated talking to Zeke and subjecting himself to conversation with him.

He had forgotten how annoying it was to talk to people who were attracted to you. Eren included.

“I see,” Zeke’s careful eyes fell onto his paperwork. “If you need any help this semester, keep me in your thoughts, hm?”

“Sure.”

“I’m only taking three classes at the moment, so I’ll be available at any time,” Zeke nodded, smiling like a golden retriever.

Levi was only slightly curious. He wasn’t exactly sure how old Zeke was—older than Eren, that’s for sure. He carried himself with an experience that his brother didn’t, and with something a bit older too. He was well-spoken, well traveled and well educated. While it wasn’t quite clicking for Levi, he could see how Zeke’s charm might work on others.

“And I’m assuming this includes your persistent invites to coffee dates, huh?” Levi replied wryly.  

He smiled. “Maybe. Or just regular IT help, since that seems a little impossible at the moment.”

Zeke motioned to the retrieved papers and laptop bag and Levi tried to not feel offended. He wasn’t some kind of child! 35 wasn’t too old to know how a computer worked, for God’s sake.

Levi squinted. “And you’re supposed to be an expert?”

Zeke shrugged. “I already have an undergrad degree in IT. If you need help, I’m there.”

Wait, that was different. While Levi could definitely turn his laptop on and off, he found himself constantly annoyed with the projectors of each room. Depending on the classroom, he had to get to class fifteen minutes early for the damn thing to work.

“Greatly considered, thank you,” Levi meant that part. He was also impressed that Zeke already had a degree under his belt. So what was he back in school for . . .?

“But anything else, and I’ll be—“

A door slammed, echoing through the lecture hall. Levi’s uninterested stare looked towards the door where he saw Eren striding down the steps and down to the front of the classroom. He looked like shit, to put it nicely. He liked tired and his hair was tangled in a sloppy bun.

Before Levi could react, Eren’s vibrant eyes flickered upwards and darted between Levi and Zeke curiously. Levi was hoping for one of his trademark smirks to appear, but it never did. Instead, his brows furrowed some more before he finally sat himself down in the middle of the seats, near some girl Levi remembered kicking out two days prior.

God damn it.

Levi felt an impending sense of doom, almost like he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He mentally prepared to grovel to Eren later, who’d already demonstrated his wicked jealousy problem with Farlan.

“Anyway, class is starting, so—“

“I got it, I got it,” Zeke raised his hands. “But seriously, though, keep me in your thoughts, huh? I’d be willing to help you out with whatever you need.”

A heavy hand squeezed itself into Levi’s upper arm, which made Levi feel a flood of panic at the touch.

Oh shit.

He immediately looked over at Eren, who was, unfortunately, staring right at them.

-

Levi could hardly be surprised that Eren was waiting for him outside of his office.

“Don’t you have a psychology lecture to get to?” Levi called out, shouldering his bag as he walked briskly towards his office.

Right after class, Zeke managed to sneak in another lengthy conversation. Levi could see Eren burning out of his peripheral, but there was no possible way Levi could say ‘leave me alone, you furry bastard’ in a polite way. They were student and professor after all. 

Eren snorted. “You really think Hanji would really care? There’s like, a billion people in that class.”

Levi cocked a brow. “Don’t take advantage of us just because we know you personally, Eren.”

Eren didn’t respond, which usually meant he was feeling defiant but not argumentative enough to reply. As Levi turned to unlock the door to his office, he could feel Eren’s presence on his back.

Stepping into his dark office was a mistake.

Eren was quick. He shoved Levi in and closed the door right behind them, leaving Levi with not enough time to brain space to even process what was happening.

Eren sloppily picked up Levi’s body and threw it onto the flat surface of his desk, knocking a few things to the ground. A screech violated the air as the desk shoved slightly backwards under the weight of the two men.

Levi grit his teeth as he could feel the top of his stapler poke into his lower back.

“Eren,” Levi looked wildly towards the younger above him. “What the hell are you—“

“Have I ever told you how good your ass looks while you’re teaching?” Eren was occupying the space between Levi’s legs.

Levi tried to ignore the burning sensation he felt at the pit of his gut. His mind was more occupied on Eren, who lowered himself inches away from Levi’s face. His dark hair fell like a curtain, blocking Levi’s vision from his peripheral.

“I think I should tell you a lot more,” Eren’s voice was low as he rocked his hip forward and into Levi’s ass.

“Eren,” Levi spoke clearly this time, almost as if he were scolding him. His breath was quick and he wasn’t sure he could get the words out, but—

“I—“ Levi gulped. “I told you I wanted to take things slow, damn it—“

Eren rolled his hip another time, making the hardened shaft in his sweatpants all the more obvious. “Yeah, but you didn’t mention how fucking difficult you were gonna make it for me, Levi.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Levi lied.

“Shut up,” Eren grumbled instead. He grabbed Levi’s hips and rolled against them, igniting a gasp from the older man beneath him. “I’ve heard enough talking from you, today. No one gives a shit about Jane Austen.”

Levi’s eyes sharpened. “Eren—Oh, fuck—“

Levi was met with a long lick up his neck, which did an ample job at grossing him out as well as turning him on. He didn’t want to vocally accuse Eren of being jealous, since that might result in a more intense situation for Levi to deal with, but Levi was sure that was the reason he was splayed over his desk now.

“So you haven’t been reading?” Levi asked accusingly, flexing his neck to meet Eren’s eyes.

The brunet smirked. “I’ll tell you if you let me fuck you.”

“Tch,” Levi tutted. “In my office? Are you insane?”

“Why not?” Eren asked indignantly. “I’ve fantasized about this forever!”

Eren pressed kisses to the side of Levi’s neck, taking slow yet hungry kisses that made Levi’s eyes roll to the back of his head.

“Come on, you’ve never thought about this before?” Eren’s voice was husky. “Me fucking you on your desk, where anyone could come in and catch us . . .”

“It’s impractical.”

“You’re on a desk, aren’t you?”

Levi swatted his arm. “I mean—sex wise, idiot. We don’t have lube or condoms here.”

Eren hesitated and Levi could almost see the gears turning. “. . . How did we do it last time?”

“I had lube in my pocket,” Levi said, feeling annoyed that Eren was still all over him like a blanket. The heat was tickling the front of his body and he was tempted to kick the student off of him.

“You don’t carry it with you? Isn’t that usually how these things work?”  

Levi snorted. “No, I don’t usually take lube with me to my lectures. And I didn’t think you wanted to get hot and heavy with me today, or anytime soon.”

Otherwise, Levi definitely would’ve prepared accordingly at home.

“I didn’t,” Eren admitted. “I wanted to respect your wishes and all that shit but then I forgot to jerk off this morning. So now I’m really horny.”

Levi’s face scrunched. Maybe Eren wasn’t as jealous as he thought. “You’re very candid.”

“Don’t act like this totally isn’t your fault,” Eren whined into his ear, rolling his hip another time into Levi’s. “Calling me last night while you were taking a bath—I mean, really?”

“What?”

Eren pushed himself onto hands and gave Levi a look that made the older man catch his breath.

“You’re such a tease, Mr. Ackerman~” Eren bit onto his lip and rolled his hips even slower against Levi’s ass.

Levi wanted to recoil against the former address, but something inside him shuddered. Eren’s voice, throaty and dripping with honey as he referred to him as—

Mr. Ackerman,” Eren repeated again, more confidently this time. “I’m taking off your pants now, okay?”

Thank God.

Levi propped himself onto his elbows weakly, relieving his back from the pressure of the items left on his desk, like the stapler and a few knocked over pens.

Eren was working at his pants, unbuckling his belt and messing with the zipper at a sloppy pace. A gleam of sweat covered Eren’s thick arms and his forehead, which was only visible through the slivers of light offered by the window.

“Wait,” Eren froze. “Should I um—do you want me to take off your shoes?”

Levi blinked. “I—Yes.”

Was Eren . . . Blushing?

Levi reached his good hand forth and took a hold of Eren’s wrist. “Hey, Eren . . . If you don’t want to—“

“No!” Eren blurted, smacking Levi’s hand away. “Don’t baby me. I want to, okay? Will you let me make you feel good?”

Levi sucked in a breath and met Eren’s eyes. His gorgeous, bright turquoise eyes that shone like gems.

It was always so easy to forget how attractive Eren was until you looked up close. He had such innocent looking, boyish features that were shaped and accentuated by his strong jaw and pursed lips. Levi felt his heart flutter—he hadn’t notice how gorgeous Eren’s lips looked.

“Do as you wish, brat,” answered Levi.

Finally, Eren released Levi’s cock from its confines, allowing the strained member to slap against his stomach. Eren sucked in a breath and eyed the organ hungrily, his eyes blinking rapidly. Eren began to chew on his bottom lip nervously, taking in the sight.

“Don’t faint now, Eren,” Levi teased, gently knocking Eren’s shoulder with his knee.

Eren laughed throatily. “I didn’t think I’d get this far. Maybe you are down bad.”

“Who’s on whose knees here?” Levi replied playfully, trying to ignore the somersaults that erupted within him.

“You’re such an asshole,” Eren muttered, the ghost of a smile on his face. “Whatever. I’ll make you eat your words, old man.”

Eren’s large hands slid up Levi’s buttocks to his thighs before pressing forward, exposing Levi, who grimaced at the stretch.

The professor let out a loose curse as he felt Eren’s soft lips begin at the back of his thighs. It felt like soft, feather like touches the way Eren kissed. His heart melted at how gentle Eren was—he didn’t even think it was possible.

“You’re so beautiful, Levi,” Levi could hear the barest of whispers from Eren.

“Fuck,” Levi gracefully responded as he could feel a wet kiss meet his entrance.

Eren ate him out slowly at first, his tongue dragging slow and wet against Levi’s behind. His breath was hot against Levi’s core and he could feel his cock twitching at the sensation. He was tempted to grab at his member for relief, but he wanted to savor this as much as he could.

Using his hands, Eren spread open Levi more, stretching him ever so slightly as to lap at his entrance more. He increased his pace more here, flexing his tongue and flickering it back and forth over and over—

Levi buckled, his abs twitching and his good hand looking for something, anything to grab. He settled on tangling his good hand into Eren’s hair, gripping tight and forcing him to press closer against Levi.

Eren groaned in response, increasing his pace and bobbing his head obediently.

“Eren,” Levi began, his own voice unrecognizable.

With a final, sloppy wet kiss, Eren pulled away and looked at Levi with an attentive and starving hunger. Like a tiger, Eren leapt forward and met Levi with a kiss.

Levi didn’t have the alertness to recoil in disgust, but instead, he reveled at their lips meeting in an open mouthed sloppy kiss. Sometime in the lunge and the kiss, Eren managed to lower his sweat pants and release his cock, taking a harsh grip around the base and jerking it loosely.

“Mm,” Eren pulled away. “I’ve been thinking about this since the first time we did it.”

He flattened a hand on the desk beneath Levi while the other guided his own cock to nestle right between Levi’s. Even in the dark, Levi could see how thick and strong Eren’s cock felt. He couldn’t help but shudder at the feeling of the appendage resting on his hip. The memory of Eren thrusting deep inside him was enough to make him groan slightly.

Levi hissed at the feeling of a gob of spit landing itself on his cock.

“Eren,” Levi spoke calmly. “You did not just—“

“I did,” Eren chuckled. “Here, I’ll make it up to you.”

“You’re so gross,” Levi complained lightly. “Mmh—Eren!

The brunet took a hold of both their cocks in his hand, low groans erupting from his throat. Levi bit onto his lip so harshly he could taste copper. His cock felt warm and wet against Eren’s, and the pulse of his member was almost enough to drive him over the edge.

“Oh God, that’s good,” Eren gasped, buckling into his fist. “It’s even better than I remembered. You’re so good, you know that, Levi?”

“Don’t stop, Eren,” Levi ordered weakly, the very pits of his core being warmed impossibly hot. “Fuck, go faster, brat.”

Eren grinned, his eyebrows twitching upwards. “You got it, Mr. Ackerman.

He was obedient. He was patient. He was a bamboo tree, strong and sturdy but willing to bend to the beckoning cal of Levi. The older man relished in this, as guilty as it ought to make him feel, he was overtaken with the pride that came with having Eren bow over him.

Eren twisted his hand, making Levi rock beneath him with a heated impatience that could only belong to an impending orgasm.

“Levi,” Eren’s hoarse voice cracked the damp air. “F-Fuck, I’m-I’m so close, Levi—“

His voice was twisted with desperation, which was music to Levi’s ears. He wanted to keep this momentum going, to see Eren become completely undone.

“Come on my cock,” Levi growled. “Mmh, that’s right—“

Eren shuddered, spurting ropes of white cum all over the two hardened members as well as Levi’s shirt and the bottom of his chin. He came with a low groan, all while Levi talked him through the orgasm.

“Yeah, come all over me, just like that—“ Levi coached roughly. “So wet, huh? You like that, Eren?”

“Fuck yeah I do,” Eren chuckled, squeezing their slicked cocks together.

“Faster, now,” Levi urged. “Yes, Eren—moan for me—“

Eren whined, his hips giving in to the overstimulation that he was no doubt feeling. In spite of this, his cock didn’t soften once, remaining the powerful length it was before.

Levi chanted his name, pausing only to lick at his lips or to curse in between. He felt himself pulse and take over his senses before he squeezed his eyes shut.

“Ngh-Ahh—“ Levi grit his teeth as Eren bent down to meet his lips.

Levi came in large, rolling waves, his orgasm electric over the front of his thighs to the tops of his ears. His cries were muffled against Eren’s tongue, teeth and lips. His eyes squeezed shut and he inhaled deeply, gulping against the sweat on his forehead and the back of his neck.

Eren still dragged his cock against Levi’s softening one, the pulse of them thumping softly against Levi’s warm core.

“You’re cute,” Eren murmured against bruised lips.

Levi shoved at him. “Get the fuck off me.”

Eren snorted. “I’m not done, Levi. Can’t you feel it?” As if to prove a point, Eren lazily dragged his hips against Levi’s, his cock still hard.

“As if,” Levi rolled his eyes. “Get up.”

Eren opened his mouth to complain but Levi shot him a sharp look.

“Sit on the desk, Eren.”

Eren smiled sloppily.

Chapter Text

Eren hasn’t really had the time to wander around campus as much as he had liked.

The campus was vast. The buildings were assorted in both style and place, as some looked like they could’ve easily been here decades and others looked as though they’d been built yesterday. Within every nook and cranny, however, there was always a nice bundle of trees or grass or benches, which made the perfect study corner.

But the main attraction of the entire campus was the large duck pond smack dab in the center of it all. It was a nice, shaded area with tall trees and a perfect jogging trail right around the border of the pond. The pond of course, was separated by a few bridges and trees, but it connected all the same.

“I should take Agnes here,” Eren noted aloud, shoving his hands into the pockets of his hoodie.

Eren made his best attempts to see his niece once a week, but he was afraid he might fall short soon. What with all the classes and the surprising amount of coursework he had already . . .

Armin hummed. “She might be a little too young. But it’s perfect for a Saturday picnic between friends, huh?”

Armin smiled politely and held up the picnic basket.

To be completely honest, Eren forgot about their picnic date together. This had been planned since the two reconnected on Tuesday, but so much chaos had happened that Eren let it slip past his mind.

Eren yawned. He felt as though he lived an entire lifetime this week. He was grateful for this weekend, moreso than other weekends.

“So, how’s your freshman year so far, huh?” Armin prodded jokingly as he set down the picnic basket on a shaded patch of grass.

Eren snorted and spread out the blanket he was holding in his arms. He smoothed it out with the help of Armin.

After the events of Thursday, Eren tried bugging Levi into going on a date with him after. Levi looked at him like he was crazy before profusely declining the date, stating that he ‘had papers to grade and a well-deserved nap to take.’

“I made you cum twice and you still want to go out?” Eren remembered Levi scowling at him. Levi was washing down his mouth with some water, his hair looking tussled and tangled from Eren’s fingers.

Eren pouted.

“Do you even have an off button?“  Levi’s dark eyes glittered at him, narrowing in the dark.

Eren wasn’t sure. His feelings were semi-hurt, so he left and carried on with his evening playing video games. He periodically checked his phone for messages from Levi, to which, there was none. 

On Friday, Eren had classes and then he went to go see Agnes, Mikasa and Jean for the day. He texted Levi a few times, but Levi (again) scolded him, saying that he didn’t want to get caught texting Eren while in the presence of his very disapproving and protective sister. Eren supposed he had a point, but he still felt dejected about it.

“Good,” Eren answered decidedly. He was sweating already. It was an honest answer. Though Eren wasn’t as warm as he imagined he’d be, he still felt victorious over claiming Levi as his own. 

Armin sat up, his eyes narrowing.

Eren laughed. “What?”

“Something’s off,” Armin mumbled. “You’re not—what’s going on, Eren?”

Eren scoffed. “What are you even talking about?”

“You look happy.”

Eren tried to not let that sting him. 

“Gee,” The brunet kicked at his friend. “Thanks.”

Armin shook his head. “Not like that but—ugh what’s the word—you look more peaceful. Did something happen lately?”

“Not that I could think of,” Eren shrugged.

Eren found it easy to lie to Armin. Lying to Armin didn’t not make him feel guilty, but the small blond was so trusting it was hard not to! Armin was especially nosy and protruding when he wanted to be. Eren found it easier to lie than to spend precious seconds explaining himself. Armin usually told him he was wrong at the end of all his lectures anyway!

Eren frowned. Perhaps that said more about Eren’s life choices than it did about Armin’s lecturing.

“Dunno, I’m just happy to be here,” Eren shrugged. He reached for the picnic basket and began rifling through it, grabbing at a shiny packet of Kool-Aid before ripping it open.

“Oops,” Eren muttered as the trash found itself in the blades of grass. “Didn’t mean to litter.”

Armin didn’t let up. “Well, whatever it is, I’m going to find out eventually. But just know—“

“Oh my god,” Eren muttered, having a sense for Armin’s lecture.

“—That I care about you and that I hope you make the right choices,” Armin began, reaching a hand out to grab onto Eren’s knee. “Please make smart and safe decisions, no matter what they may be. I think you tend to come on too strong at times and you should tread carefully with peoples boundaries. Your expressions of certain emotions may not be other peoples, okay?”

Eren rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Whatever.”

He was fond about it, at least. Eren would’ve liked to tell Armin, but he and Levi already agreed to keep their relationship under wraps for right now. Not that they were ashamed or anything (at least that’s what Eren hoped), but they’d much rather enjoy each other’s company without the scrutiny of their friends.

“Erwin has such good recipes,” Armin changed the topic, taking out paper plates from the basket and handing one to Eren. “God, Eren, I seriously love this dude like crazy.”

Eren was already serving himself. “Yeah?”

Armin looked dreamily at the food. “Yes, he’s—he’s so great, Eren. Really. He’s so kind and so smart and so . . . so charming. I still can’t believe he’s divorced. If I were married to Erwin, I would have that man on a leash.”

“Yeah? And what happened there?”

Armin looked sheepish. “From what I can tell, he and his ex just drifted apart. Erwin worked at MSU and his husband worked at the prison as a security guard—“

“Wow.”

“Yeah,” Armin nodded knowingly. “So I don’t know, the time apart was the biggest thing. Resentment, miscommunication, all that.”

“But you and him are—?”

“We’re great! I was a little nervous, since I wasn’t exactly his type, and we’re so far apart in age and he was kind of my mentor, but . . .”

Eren was interested now. From what he’s gathered, Erwin was actually slightly older than Levi by a few years, which meant his and Armin’s age gap was far more severe. Not only that, but there was also the gray lines of Armin being Erwin’s research assistant, which would most definitely get the two in some hot water if their secret were to be revealed.

Erwin and Armin were also just an enigma to Eren, he supposed. He doesn’t really know much about Erwin’s history or life in general, besides his connection with Levi.

“But it just happened,” Armin shrugged. “I didn’t let it bother me. And I told you right away because you’re my best friend.”

“Armin,” Eren interrupted.

Armin looked at him with his sky blue eyes. Innocent at first, but calculating, smart and all knowing. Eren was totally screwed.

“So you can tell me about Levi, Eren,” Armin spoke concisely, as if he’d uttered the words a million times before.

Eren sunk, his gut feeling heavy like concrete. “It’s . . . it’s not that easy. He . . .”

“You don’t have to tell me anything specific,” Armin held up an innocent hand. “Just know that I know. And I love you, and I want you to stay safe and careful. Levi is a very unconventional person when it comes to emotions and you’re a very much ‘heart on your sleeves’ kind of guy, so . . . please be careful.” 

Eren curled up, his arms wrapping around his legs. “You’re not pissed, are you?”

“Of course not!” Armin cried. “Eren, I’ve never seen you act like this with anyone before. Now, I don’t know if that’s exactly a good or bad thing, and to be frank, I’m a little concerned because Levi is so polar opposite to all the girls you’ve been with before—“

“God.”

“Like, wow, Annie was—“

“We get it,” Eren bemoaned, feeling embarrassment burn at his gut.

Armin didn’t stop. “Well, now that I think about it, Annie and Levi are pretty simila—“

Armin,” Eren spoke harshly. “What’s your point?”

“It’s cool you’re gay, Eren,” Armin said. “I think that’s really cool.”

Eren gave him a look. “I’m not—I don’t know if I’m gay.”

Ever since Eren first slept with Levi, he never considered himself gay. Sure, he had sex with another man but one incident ought to not define a person’s entire identity, right?

Besides, what was it that made someone truly gay? Eren never found himself attracted to men before, just Levi. Now, he is most definitely attracted to sex with other men, but not romantically.

Except for Levi.

Armin was quiet, making Eren’s eyes widen slightly.

“I’m not gay, right? Do I come across as gay?”

“Do you want me to be honest or do you want me to be a supportive friend?”

“Supportive friend.”

Armin nodded. “Right. I think you look totally Eren!”

-

“Uh,” Eren blurted intelligently. “Well, I know I wouldn’t seduce people if I were invisible.”

Professor Bossard simply crossed his arms and gave Eren a skeptical look. One of his thin, suspiciously groomed eyebrows were raised and his frown deep, as if Eren let out a belch instead of raising his hand and participating in class.

“The whole purpose of discussing the Ring of Gyges is not whether we would do it or not,” Professor Bossard scoffed, pacing up and down the front part of his classroom. “It is to simply debate on the inherent goodness of human nature. Is it the ring that causes mischief, or perhaps, the human nature possessing the ring?”

Eren squinted. He thought his addition to the class was relevant, but it was no secret that Professor Bossard had it out for Eren. Well, right back at him! Eren was not interested in philosophy in the slightest and to be quite honest, he was pissed that this class was a part of his curriculum.

Professor Bossard and a handful of students in that class were also uppity assholes. To Eren, they spoke very loosely about hypotheticals and what-ifs but got very, very cross when it came to fallacies within arguments. It seemed that no matter what Eren said, it was a fallacy or irrelevant somehow.

He hated this class. He hated Mondays. Ugh.

“I think,” A girl raised her hand. “That it is the ring. Why would a person, truly evil or not, wait for an opportunity such as the ring in order to spread mayhem? If it were human nature to be evil . . .”

Eren droned out the class.

It was bad enough that he went the entire weekend without seeing Levi, but now he had to get humiliated by his dumb professor too?

He pulled out his backpack and flipped it onto the desk and next, his phone. Stealthily, he opened his messages.

[Mikasa]
Agnes took a bath today.

*Mikasa attached an image*

Eren grinned and kept a mental tab to look at that later. If it were up to him, his camera roll would be nothing except for pictures of his cute niece.

[Levi]
This kid in my crit and theory class pisses me off.

Eren snorted and swiped away the message. Almost as a reflex, he glanced up at Professor Bossard, who was still pounding out his lecture very loudly.  

He opened Levi’s message again, his thumbs moving in absent circles over his keyboard.

He considered typing out a response to Levi, maybe something along the lines of ‘Hey bro, I super miss you and I hope me cumming on your dick wasn’t too forward or weird? :(‘ or maybe ‘Why the fuck haven’t we hung out all weekend like I envisioned?’ Or even ‘tall furry blond dude in our class that totally likes you. Thoughts?’

“Actually,” A smug looking kid raised his hand. “That’s actually an appeal to nature, and has nothing to do with the current discussion.”

Professor Bossard’s face lit up. “Very good, Floch! Mind elaborating—?”

Eren grit his teeth.

In a frustrated, nauseating breath, Eren tucked away his phone and crossed his arms beneath his chin.

Levi wasn’t exactly acting uncharacteristic, but he was a lot more distant than Eren liked. He brushed away any potential for plans this weekend, as he said he was far too busy reading over discussions and planning course lessons. Eren knew that he was a professor, of course, but fuck, the dude lived next door for crying out loud!

From his experience, Levi was keeping his distance on the edges just like the first time they had sex. Maybe it was to ease Eren off our maybe he was just freaked out, but Eren didn’t give a shit this time. This time, he knew Levi definitely liked him back and enjoyed talking with him. 

Eren ought to take some drastic measures.

He pulled out his phone.

[Eren]
wya?????

It took awhile for Levi to respond, which made Eren chew on his bottom lip with nervousness.

[Levi]
Class, Eren.

[Eren]
Oh yeah haha the crit n theory class right

[Levi]
Yes. Stop texting me.

[Eren]
where is it at doe 🤔🤔

His phone went silent. Eren scoffed and tucked his phone away. By the time he looked up and soaked in his environment, class was ending and everyone was packing up their bags.

Eren didn’t hesitate to throw his bag over his shoulder and bury himself in his phone as he left the class. He might’ve heard Professor Bossard call out his name, which made him hightail it out of there.

He opened up his school email app and scanned the directory for a specific name . . .

[Zoe, Hanji]

Ah, right at the bottom.

Eren pressed himself against the wall outside and lifted his phone slightly closer to his face, as if he’d get in trouble for what he was about to do . . .

[Jaeger, Eren]
Hey Hanji its eren. What room is levis class in rn?

Hanji responded surprisingly fast. Her emails were also wordy, which came at no surprise to Eren.

[Zoe, Hanji]
You’re lucky I caught this email before my TA! They’d have your ass for emailing me like this ! No signature, no subject, no name, PHEW they would tear me a new one too. Bad habit of mine I suppose.

Hanji Zoë, Ph.D

She/They

MSU Dept of Psychology

[Zoe, Hanji]
But since were best friends I will let it slide, my dear Eren! ;) Why would you like to know? Is he being a stubborn little goose?

Hanji Zoë, Ph.D

She/They

MSU Dept of Psychology

Shit.

Eren gulped.

Hanji was most definitely onto them by now. He probably should’ve thought twice before emailing Hanji like this—it may have been better to find Erwin’s name in the directory and ask him, but Eren figured Hanji would be more willing to give out this information at no cost.

[Jaeger, Eren]
My mom wanted to bring him some food so i thought it would be nice if i brought him some lol 

Golden, right? If Eren name dropped his mother then there ought to be no suspicion on his end. Levi and Eren’s mother were friends and it would only make sense that—

An email appeared.

[Zoe, Hanji]
Don’t you two live next to each other?

Hanji Zoë, Ph.D

She/They

MSU Dept of Psychology

Damn it. Hanji was more sharp than she let on. Eren couldn’t believe himself!

He panicked slightly and considered abandoning the whole mission. Levi would surely ream his ass for letting it slip to Hanji that the two were not only on talking terms, but visiting each other.

Eren didn’t have time to decide, though. Hanji was faster than him.

[Zoe, Hanji]
You know what? I’ll interrogate Levi when I see him. His criticism and theory class is being held in Mitchell hall. Room 201. I found that out within the website. If you see the course offerings and log in as a student, you might have found this out yourself! Neat, huh?

Thanks, Eren. Hehehehheheheheh

Hanji Zoë, Ph.D

She/They

MSU Dept of Psychology

Eren groaned and slid his phone away. He ignored the burning feeling he got from his phone and headed across campus. With the hopes of seeing Levi make him feel better, Eren set out.

Chapter Text

Levi felt bad.

He could sense that Eren’s been itching to have some alone time—some true alone time—with Levi ever since they got intimate in Levi’s office last week. Eren’s been littering his phone and email with messages, memes and ‘TikTok’ videos galore.

Levi, in all his hectic happenings during the day, could only afford to scan through Eren’s messages a few at a time. Only at night would he have the time to chuckle at some of these videos and jokes before he passed out cold and woke up to missed calls from Eren. He always woke up with the guilt of having ignored Eren in some form. It wasn’t on purpose, really. Levi just had classes and students he was in charge of, so he didn’t have as much space to occupy himself with Eren like he used to.

And now, even in the remaining fifteen minutes of his upper level English class, Levi couldn’t bring himself to check his phone. He had a feeling that Eren left him some messages.

He glanced up. His small class of fifteen were currently separated into their work groups, some looking deep in thought while others were clearly on their phones. Levi opened his mouth—he ought to have half a mind to scold his students, right—but he shut it. Fuck it. That wasn’t important right now.

Levi grabbed his phone and slid it open.

Nothing. There was nothing for him. He turned the device to silent.

Levi breathed a sigh. He wasn’t relieved, exactly. There was no explaining this empty feeling within him. A ticking worry filled his gut and he wondered if he pushed it too far this time? Was Eren mad at him for being too busy for him? Levi supposed he deserved it. But that wasn’t a resolute feeling. Not in the slightest.

“Class is over,” Levi announced, grabbing his leather book bag and shoving everything in haphazardly. “You can use the rest of the time to work or you can leave. I don’t give a shit.”

A girl—Levi couldn’t remember her name, but she was blonde—raised her hand. “You’re really letting us go?” She sounded annoyed.

“Yes, now don’t make me change my mind,” Levi scolded, shoving his phone into his pocket.

Levi was in front of the door before anyone else. He had to run home and straight to Carla’s house to apologize to Eren. It was half past three and if he remembered Eren’s schedule correctly, he should be home from his last class by now. His heart raced as he—

“Ouch!” A voice yelped as Levi slammed open the door.

Startled, Levi held his bag and turned sharply behind the door.

Eren was sat there behind the door, rubbing his forehead and holding his backpack close. His messy brown hair was tucked into a cap worn backwards. He adorned a faded sweatshirt and knee length shorts with worn looking sneakers.

“Eren?” Levi threw out his name accusingly, but he could still feel the skip in his heartbeat at the sight of him. “What the hell are you doing here?”

He was excited to see him, as upset as he sounded. His mind raced with so many questions and emotions that he couldn’t even begin to sort through. His heart was pounding and he could feel sweat stinging the underside of his palms and his feet.

“I wanted to come see you,” Eren explained weakly. “I um . . . I wanna walk—you, me? Walk home together?”

I wanted to come see you.

Levi swallowed and allowed his smile to stretch over his face. His smile, the one that now belonged to Eren. Levi’s heart was racing so loud he was sure Eren could hear it, and Levi wanted to ask him that question as well.

Can you hear my heart, Eren? Can you hear what you do to me?

“I took the bus today,” Levi replied coolly, turning to walk down the hall and out of the building. His smile would be his only betrayal of his inner feelings, but the rest of his body remained eerily still and calm.

“Why?” Eren prodded with a new interest, skipping to catch up with Levi like a dog. “Is there something wrong with your car? Do you need me to look at it?”

Levi huffed, touched by the offer. “No, dummy. I feel like taking the bus whenever I want a moment or two to think.”

And it was true. Shiganshina had gorgeous scenery that he couldn’t admire within a normal car ride. There were buildings from the early twentieth century that still had their integrity as well as splashes of color from the downtown area. Levi was no connoisseur of the arts, but he could appreciate a good scenery like anyone else.

“Oh, that’s cool,” Eren noted, his voice far away yet sounding so close.

“Want to ride with me?”

“Really?” Eren’s eyes lit up, which made Levi’s lips twitch into a smile.

“Come on, Eren.”

-

“How did you find out where my class was, anyway?” Levi asked once the two stepped out of the building and into the open air, where the warm and dry air hit their faces. Fall was quickly approaching, easing into the lost hours of sunlight where she could only be felt through a darkened and cool temperature.  

“Oh, I just guessed,” Eren murmured sheepishly. “Uh—“

Levi reached for his phone, which was his own absentminded action that made Eren freeze.  

“Everything okay?” Levi raised a brow.

Eren was blushing. He blinked rapidly and laughed awkwardly, as if he’d just caught himself. In this bare moment of self-awareness, Levi might’ve expected for Eren to say something even more heartfelt. Instead, he surprised Levi.

“Want me to carry that?” He pointed hesitantly at the leather bag Levi had strapped around his shoulder, usually.

Levi glanced between the bag and Eren, suspecting something was amiss. Eren was jumpy and eager to please (more so than usual, at least). Not to mention he also had the gall to show up to Levi’s classroom in person and wait outside for him. As touched as he was, he didn’t expect Eren to get this bold until a few months into their relationship.  

“Here,” Levi sighed, slugging the thing off his arm and chucking it to the younger next to him.

The older man thought it much easier to appease Eren’s anxieties than to interrogate him on his jumpy attitude.

Eren caught the leather bag and slung it over his shoulder, looking like some sort of academic hiker. Levi half-expected Eren to crumble under the weight, but as always, he surpassed Levi’s expectations and handled both bags with ease.

The bus stop was close to campus, being nestled in the front and off to the side where the academic pavement met the road. It was a shady and usually crowded spot but today, in the hours of mid-afternoon, it was surprisingly peaceful. With no bag to stick his hands into, Levi shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned back, enjoying the reaches of the sun.

“How were classes today?” Levi decided to fill the air.

Eren’s expression clouded for a second. “Don’t even get me started.”

Levi wanted to hear Eren speak more. “We have a whole bus ride, you know.”

“I know,” Eren whined. “But I just . . . I feel kinda weird complaining about my professor to a . . . Professor.” The last part came under a hushed breath and a paranoid glance around, as if every single student around them weren’t wearing some form of headphones.

Levi snorted. “You know we don’t all know each other, right?”

“Really?” Eren’s expression opened. “But you and Hanji—“

“We knew each other before,” Levi corrected quickly. “This campus has hundreds of courses and dozens of majors. There would be no way I would know every single professor here. You can vent to me, Eren.”

This plea sounded more desperate than Levi intended. He grimaced internally, reminding himself to be more gentle with Eren, whom he wanted his vulnerability. Being an ear and shoulder for Eren’s woes was the least amount of groveling he could do for how he acted this summer.

Eren accepted, his shoulders relaxing. “Okay, fine. Well, I just have this philosophy class that kinda sucks. It feels like I’m too dumb for it sometimes. And my professor doesn’t help. I feel like he thinks I’m a big idiot or something.”

Levi nodded sympathetically, trying to reach into the depths of his own memory on how his own philosophy class went as an undergrad all those years ago. It wasn’t a very fun class, but the curriculum probably changed a lot.

He wondered what his next course of action should be in order to soothe Eren. His pragmatic brain urged him to offer his own help and to review Eren’s coursework for him, but he sighed.

What would Erwin say to Armin?

“That sucks,” Levi decided.  “Look on the bright side, Eren. It’s only for one semester. These 16 weeks will go by faster than you think.”

Eren looked defeated. “I dunno if that’s a good or a bad thing.”

Shit.

Levi acted quickly. He slipped Eren’s hand into his own and squeezed. He could hear a small gasp erupt from the taller man before he swallowed and looked straight. Eren looked as though he were about to burst, so Levi decided to speak before Eren felt obligated to.

“You’re more smart and thoughtful than you lead yourself to believe,” Levi assured, believing wholly in his words. He rubbed his thumb encouragingly over Eren’s own. It was a small attempt to soothe the college student, and it worked.

Eren slipped his bottom lip between two sets of white teeth, trying to bite down a smile that tried desperately to escape.

-

They found a couple of seats next to each other near the front of the bus, where they had a full view of the sinking sun in front of them. The sun casted bright yellow over the floor of the bus, casting long, warm shadows across the floor.

Eren’s thighs spread and he edged into Levi’s space, to which he muttered a quick apology, but Levi didn’t think it was necessary. He was very intimate with the reason why Eren couldn’t completely close his legs, anyhow.

“Wanna listen to music?” Eren offered a few minutes into their bus stop.

Before Levi could answer, Eren was holding up his AirPod, looking at Levi expectantly.

“Sure,” Levi quipped, slipping the earbud in and scooting in closer to Eren, as if the space between them could improve the sound quality somehow.

“I’m gonna play songs that remind me of you,” Eren nudged a shoulder, pulling a playful smirk from Levi.

“Is that so?” Levi sat back, his hand laying limp and open onto his left thigh, inviting a much bigger and familiar hand into it. “They better not be sad.”

Eren hummed, slipping his fingers into the empty spaces where Levi’s fingers weren’t. “Some of ‘em are, fair warning. I was very heartbroken when I made this playlist.”

Levi squeezed Eren’s hand. He knew the sentence was spoken without the intention to hurt his feelings, but the small confession still made Levi’s heart feel heavy. He had so much making up to do, and listening to Eren’s music was a small step.

“So you’re getting me back by forcing me to listen to the sad shit you had on repeat all summer?” Levi joked, knocking his knee into Eren’s. Typical Levi. Cracking a joke instead of vocalizing the responsibility he shared in making Eren’s summer slightly worse.

“Yep,” Eren smiled, easing Levi. Levi could always count on Eren for understanding his sense of humor, though. “Ooh! This is a good one. It’s on TikTok, too. You should know it.”

Levi was doubtful, but allowed for the song to play.

A tinkering melody began, something that sounded playful and almost childlike. Levi allowed himself to relax as he listened intently, releasing his breath as well as unflexing his muscles.

A burst of melody erupted over the soft sound. The beat sounded familiar. A robotic voice mumbled some words that Levi could barely make out. Levi glanced over at Eren skeptically, but the brunet only looked away in a shy smile. Eren reached for his phone, probably to pause the song and back out, but Levi squeezed his hand.

Eren blinked and Levi met his eyes.

Sometimes, all I think about is you

Late nights in the middle of June

Heat waves been fakin’ me out

Can’t make you happier now—

“This is too intimate,” Eren cried, pausing the song. “It’s like you’re peeling back my brain—“

“You asked me to listen,” Levi frowned. “Play the damn song, Eren.”

Eren gave him a look, one that was pained and probably embarrassed. Levi was enjoying this, even though the song was unmistakably melancholy. He enjoyed indulging in Eren’s emotions—all of them. Even the ones that had that gnawing, guilty feeling.

Eren pressed play.

Sometimes, all I think about is you

Late nights in the middle of June

Heat waves been fakin’ me out

Can’t make you happier now—

Eren shut his eyes. Levi watched him carefully, the way his thick brows furrowed as if deep and thought and the way his lips were flattened into a tight line.

Usually, I put somethin’ on TV

So we never think about you and me

But today, I see our reflections clearly

In Hollywood, layin’ on the screen

You just need a better life than this

You need somethin’ I can never give

Fake water all across the road

It’s gone now, the night has come but—

The chorus sang again, but this time, Levi hummed. Eren was right, he had seen snippets of this song before in some of the videos that Eren would clog his inbox with. It was a catchy song, and he was glad to have listened to the full thing.

He wondered how Eren listened to this song. Laying in bed, staring at the ceiling and allowing the words to make useless circles in his brain as he thought scornfully over Levi? Did he soak in these lyrics and imagine Levi being just as miserable as he was at that moment?

You can’t fight it, you can’t breathe

You say somethin’ so lovin’, but

Now I gotta let you go . . .

You’ll be better off in someone new

I don’t wanna be alone

You know it hurts me too . . .

You look so broken when you cry . . .

One more and then I say goodbye—)

The chorus started again. Levi gave Eren’s hand a final squeezed and pressed a kiss to his clothed shoulder. Eren looked positively embarrassed, slapping a hand over his forehead and sinking his head low. Levi couldn’t help but smile.

No matter the pain from before, Levi was able to have a piece of it. He was able to share it back and forth like a family recipe, savoring it and digesting it. Levi would be sure to honor Eren and his feelings.

A puff of air exhaled from Levi’s nostrils.

“Brat,” Levi teased. “You’re cute.”

Chapter Text

Levi was wary, to say in the least.

The fifteen minute walk from the bus stop to Levi’s house wasn’t the worrisome part, of course. The walk was pleasant, with Eren’s delightful chatter filling the air between them. He was good at that; Eren had an undeniably comfortable atmosphere that followed him everywhere, like an old friend you could blurt your thoughts to.

The upsetting part came when they arrived at the two houses.

With two feet planted on the ground, it dawned on Levi that Eren might want to—no, he most definitely will insist on joining Levi in his home. Levi fumbled with his keys and dropped them to the ground. Eren was quicker, and bent down to retrieve them. Levi thanked him and a silence wafted between them.

“I’ll call you tonight?” Levi phrased as a question, though he entirely meant it as a statement.

Eren frowned. “I can’t come inside?”

Levi swallowed thickly. “Right, well I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. I don’t want Carla to find you here and it’ll be a whole thing—“

“My mom’s not home,” Eren nodded a head towards the empty driveway that occupied the front of his house. “And plus, I could totally lie and say I was at Armin’s.”

Shit.

“Fine.”

Eren was the one to unlock Levi’s front door. Levi followed close behind, his breath heavy in his chest and his nerves sending alarms throughout his entire body.

Eren obviously hasn’t step foot in Levi’s house for a few months. The last time he did, well . . .

“Wow, you got a lot of houseplants lately,” Eren said, taking his shoes off. “These weren’t here before.”

Levi felt self conscious at that.

“Yeah, I’ve been bored with the weather getting colder. Not a lot of space for gardening and all,” Levi remarked, shrugging off his jacket. He felt an unfamiliar tug and glared over his shoulder.

Levi blushed when he saw Eren helping him with his jacket. He opened his mouth to shoo away Eren, telling him that it was just a sprained wrist, not a life debilitating injury, but instead, he uttered a simple, “Thank you.”

“Yep!” Eren replied, hanging Levi’s jacket onto the coatrack next to them. He tapped his fingers against Levi’s leather book bag, the rhythm sounding akin to water droplets on a roof.

Levi narrowed his eyes. “What.”

“What?” Eren asked innocently.

“So you’re . . . not going to jump my bones today?” Levi asked, his body still tense from nerves.

Eren laughed, making the older man shrink. “Huh? I’m not—you’re ridiculous, Levi. I have manners, you know.”

Levi didn’t believe that. Eren was, in his own words, down bad. The older man wouldn’t put it past him to jump into his pants at the first second he got.

“Okay, great,” Levi shrugged, ignoring Eren’s motives. “Want something to drink?”

“Water, if you don’t mind. Can I sit here and do homework?” Eren motioned to the couch.

Levi was grateful he asked. “Yeah.”

Once in his kitchen, Levi let out a sigh. Mechanically, he poured a glass of water and allowed the silence away from Eren soak into his skin.

It felt surreal, really, to have Eren back again in his home. After their incident months ago, he thought having the brunet in his living room would be something of a distant dream. Eren, as intrusive as he could be, didn’t feel as though he was imposing his presence within these walls. Nor could Levi sense any prior agitation from him, like those early mornings when his mother would drag him here for yard work.

“Here you go,” Levi came back from the kitchen, water in good hand. “I’ll be in my office.”

“Oh, then I’ll come with,” Eren stood, ignoring the water. “Want me to bring your bag?”

Levi shouldn’t reject him. “Okay.”

Eren stood from the sofa but Levi didn’t bother lingering. He hurried down the hall and into the room across from his bedroom, where his home office sat.

Eren made no note of the small changes to this room either, which were small color changes to the wallpaper as well as moving his bookshelf across the room. Instead, he wandered around, cellphone in hand as he observed.

“I don’t have another desk for you,” Levi said, sitting at his desk and scooting himself close to his computer. “The outlet next to the window doesn’t work, so you can use the one next to my desk.”

“Cool,” Eren replied. Easygoing. Casual. Unconcerned. Levi’s gut tightened. Eren was up to something.

The room filled with the inelegant sounds of typing as the two got to work. Levi busied his time poring over the dozens of emails he got from students. When he wasn’t looking over emails, he was grading discussion boards. When he wasn’t grading discussion boards, he was reading reports from his upper level class. 

Eren, on the other hand, was typing furiously at something. Levi wasn’t sure what, it could even be for his class for all he knew, but he didn’t want to ask and disrupt his flow.

In these serene moments, Levi felt himself relax. He was comfortable like this; working next to Eren’s body but never speaking. It was a wordless time spent together that Levi found himself thinking of fondly. However, in these work oriented moments, Levi did not notice Eren gradually making his way closer and closer to Levi’s desk to the point where he was practically underneath it.

Levi was busy squinting at an email.

[Jäger, Zeke] Hey Levi! I was just at this local bookstore. It’s a fairly cute place, a little niche if you’re into hippy stuff (which I doubt you are), but they have some great selections. They also have some paperback copies of The Box Man by Kobo Abe. Thrilling piece. I’ll bring you a copy next class.

-Zeke

P.S. If there’ll be no foreseen coffee dates in the future, I take it you’re more of a tea kind of man? Let me know.

Levi scoffed and prepared to move the email to his trash bin, but not before he felt a warm and heavy hand land itself on his thigh.

“Jesus,” Levi jumped, his heart rate accelerating. “You scared me.”

Eren was beside him, staring holes into his desktop screen. His grip was heavy, tight. Suffocating, but not possessive.

“Is that his name?” Eren asked instead, his voice thick.

“The blond guy from your class? Yes. Why?” Levi’s mouth felt dry.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the time to do a whole lot of digging on this Zeke guy. What with the semester starting and Eren in his life, Levi gave it no more than two thoughts. He knew the two must’ve been related, hence the shared last names and family divorce, but there was a small, foolish part of him that wished they were cousins instead of brothers, as he so greatly feared.

“He seems like a dick,” Eren murmured.

God forbid he have both the Jaeger brothers chasing after him.

Levi moved the email to the trash. Regardless, it seemed that Eren had no clue who Zeke was in relation to himself. Since Eren’s father kept his second family a secret from Eren until he was 18 years old, it would have made sense for Eren to not even know or care to know his brother’s name.

Levi wasn’t sure what to do or how to carry this information. Though, he couldn’t even stop to think. Eren moved to the space between Levi’s legs.

“Hey, what’re you—“  

Levi felt warm licks of heat race up his groin as he felt Eren slide his fingers up the inside of Levi’s thighs from his knee just to the spot where—

“Eren,” Levi warned, pulling out his chair to glare at the brunet between his legs.

Eren flickered his eyes up at him, and in the most honeyed voice he’d heard from the man, came a simple, “What?”

Damn it. Levi was doomed. This is exactly what he didn’t want—for Eren to propel things forward into something purely physical. Not that he didn’t enjoy it, of course—

“Fuck!” Levi hissed. A heavy hand pressed itself onto the bulge of Levi’s pants, making his cock twitch achingly against the confines of the fabric above.

“You’re so hard already,” Eren croaked in a low voice, his fingers delicate across Levi’s increasing length.

“You can’t.”

“I can,” Eren teased. “And I am.”

“No, I mean we can’t—“

“Are you saying no?” Eren pressed, his mouth and nose mere inches away from Levi’s cock. “If you say no, I can stop.”

“It’s not that, exactly,” Levi wheezed, his words pathetic. “But I want to take things slow, Eren.”

He knew he made a mistake by opening Zeke’s email in front of Eren. He should’ve figured that Eren, in all of his jealousy, would lay claim to Levi right here in his office. Not to mention he was probably planning on this.

“It’s a little late for that, don’t you think?” Eren mused, biting gently into the supple skin of Levi’s thigh. Levi stifled a moan and fastened his good hand onto Eren’s head.

“Yes, but—“

“So what,” Eren spoke, his sentence sharper than before. Levi’s heart dropped. “You don’t like doing stuff with me? Is that it?”

No,” Levi said as sternly as he could when he felt Eren pull his wrist away from his hair. “I’m just . . .”

He had to be honest. Honest, but tactful.

“I’m . . . I’m a little apprehensive about the way we’re approaching things.”

Eren scoffed, but there was no humor to be found in his tone. “Of what? What is there to be apprehensive of?”

Levi took a breath. “I just—I don’t know, I’m scared that you might . . .”

“Might what?” Eren’s voice treaded dangerously.

“That you might lose interest once you get bored of the sex. That I might not be . . . enough.” Levi felt dumb. He was wrong saying that, but he needed to confess these feelings that have been gnawing at him since they first slept together.

There was a wall of silence.

He could feel Eren giving him an intense stare, which made him swallow with guilt. Eren’s hands were still on Levi’s thighs, unmoving as his eyes.

Eren’s brows furrowed. “Did I do something to make you think that?”

“No,” Levi answered quickly, the air rushing out his lungs. “It’s just me in my own dumb brain—“

“Then don’t fuckin’ worry about me losing interest,” Eren interrupted, making Levi sigh. “I like you, Levi. I like da—I like spending time with you and kissing you. Sorry if you think I’m just some dumb frat boy—“

“Eren—“

“—but I am capable of feeling emotion, alright? Even though I don’t go to fucking bookstores and shit, I have a whole lot of emotions for you, so—“

“That’s not it, Eren,” Levi insisted, his voice firm. His mind raced, both exhausted and  aggravated by where his words were heading. “Don’t take it there, okay? Because that is so far from the truth.”

“So what is the truth?” Eren’s voice was getting venomous. “That I’m no better than the guys that used you? I’m not good enough for you? That’s why you won’t let me suck you—“

“Stop,” Levi placed a hand on his shoulder. “Listen.”

Eren tightened his mouth into a line. His green eyes were wide, scanning Levi for anymore slip ups or mistakes from his end that he could drill him for. Levi isn’t sure if he would ever get used to Eren’s ceaseless and provocative nature.

“Can I explain myself?” Levi asked calmly.

Eren sighed. “Okay.”

“I’m not used to this, okay?” Levi admitted, in a voice that sounded more tired than he let on. “This amount of . . . attention that you’re giving me. That you’re willingly giving me.”

Eren looked confused. Levi continued. He continued like a newborn deer with new legs, but he continued nonetheless.

“You want to have sex all the time, and that’s great, I love sex with you. It’s amazing. That’s how you wish to express yourself,” Levi was rationalizing aloud. “But I’m not used to that like you are. Sex for me was . . . different for a long time. For years. It has nothing to do with you, either, but when you approach me so strongly, it’s like an alarm goes off in my brain.”

Eren’s eyes darkened. “You’re not telling me your ex husband—“

“No,” Levi insisted. “No, it was all consensual, Eren.”

Eren looked at him.

“I promise.”

“Okay,” Eren said, still unsure.

“But it was not functional. My marriage wasn’t functional. It wasn’t healthy,” Levi began. His voice broke. Levi cleared his throat and he began talking as apathetically as he could about the situation, as if he were describing a movie he saw last weekend.

“He . . . Nile was . . . he wasn’t the warmest person around. I know Hanji can call me the Ice King and whatever, but Nile was more severe. He was callous because I wasn’t something he wanted, you know? I couldn’t give him kids, I couldn’t be his arm candy to all his work parties—I couldn’t be more than someone he could gratify himself with in private. Yes, we were married but for fuck’s sake I had two whole guests at my wedding.”

Eren listened intently and Levi continued.

“We were married because I wanted to be sure he wouldn’t leave me so easily,” Levi concluded, crossing his arms. “I pressured him because I knew he didn’t love me. He loved sex with me, with another man and that was it.”

Levi didn’t look at Eren for a reaction this time, only closing his eyes and tilting his head up towards the ceiling.

“We divorced because he was having an affair with an intern in his office. Some younger woman who knew his work life and shared his dog shit sense of humor,” Levi’s words dripped from his mouth like bitter venom. “So in the end, I wasn’t enough after all. I didn’t fulfill my purpose of fucking him good enough to keep him around.”

A silence fell between them. Levi’s heart was positively racing, having confessed these feelings and actions aloud to someone who wasn’t Hanji or Erwin was mortifying. A billion thoughts raced through his mind and he wondered if Eren might think differently, might think worse of him after this.

Eren fell, his forehead landing on the top of his thigh with dark brown hair spilling over.

“Well?” Levi nudged him with his knee.

Eren groaned. “No, I feel dumb.”

“Why?”

“Because Jean and Armin were right.”

“Right about what?” His voice raised with alarm.

“Well,” Eren lifted his head. “Armin says that I can come on a little strong and that-that I should be careful. And I should’ve been. I’m sorry.”

Levi couldn’t disagree with that. Though he shared some fault in engaging in sexual activities with Eren, he couldn’t he helped.

“As for Jean?” Levi asked curiously. “How is he right?”

Eren looked miserable at the mention of his brother-in-law. “He said I’m not used to being rejected. I guess that goes for like . . . sex, too. Does that make sense or am I sounding like a dick?”

“Oh.”

Levi supposed that made sense. He couldn’t help but feel jealous. He didn’t care that Eren slept with a lot of women, not at all, but how accessible they seemed to him was something that gnawed at his stomach in an uncomfortable way.

“So you . . .”

“So I felt like total shit when you looked annoyed when I wanted to do stuff,” Eren continued. “That doesn’t happen to me. It felt like I was getting rejected by you. When I want to do stuff with you, it’s because I wanna show you how much I—“

“Like me?” Levi offered. The wires were connecting in his brain. No more did he have that annoying feeling of cross-wire in his brain, where he’d have to use scraps to draw conclusions, but rather . . .

“ . . . Yes. I didn’t know all that stuff before, so I assumed—“

“That I thought of you as some dumb kid that didn’t know what he wanted?”

“Yeah.”

“That . . . makes sense.”

“Yeah,” Eren agreed solemnly. “I feel really dumb we didn’t have this conversation earlier.”

“I do, too.”

“But it’s only natural, right?” Eren quipped. “We just—“

“Right.”

“How else could we have—“

“Yeah,” Levi laughed nervously.

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For pushing sex onto you,” Eren mumbled. “I was just trying to show you how much I liked you.”

“I know,” Levi acknowledged. “But don’t be. I did still enjoy it.”

Eren smiled shyly. “Well that’s . . . that’s good. I still feel like an asshole, though.”

“You’re not,” Levi assured, stroking Eren’s hair. “Don’t. I’m the one unintentionally punishing you for what he did.”

Eren huffed and shoved at Levi’s thigh playfully. “You’re not punishing me, shut the fuck up. You were in an abusive relationship.”

“Oh, how you kids these days love throwing around that word,” Levi grumbled.

Eren’s eyes flew open. “What? Don’t gaslight yourself! Abuse can be emotional and mental, Levi. He doesn’t have to hit you to leave a scar.”

Levi raised a brow, but Eren looked even more defiant. He wasn’t expecting that stroke of thoughtfulness from Eren, but it was welcomed in a new, invigorating sort of way. It brought fondness to him knowing that Eren cared. Hanji would be proud.

“I’m not some wounded kid, Eren,” Levi threw his name right back at him. “It was a shitty situation all around. God knows I wasn’t the best person to him either.”

Levi believed these words to be the truth. Of course, he was starting to forget memories of his and Nile’s marriage, but Nile wasn’t a malicious person. He had his issues, but—

Levi grit his teeth.

Damn you, Eren.

“Okay, fine,” Levi put up his hands. “Maybe it was more fucked up from his end, but still. I don’t need you feeling bad for me.”

“I’m your boyfriend, of course I’m feeling bad for you,” Eren spoke, his words lifting Levi to the ceiling. Levi’s stomach burned. Eren blushed at this.

Levi twisted a smile away, but failed. “Boyfriend, huh?”

“Yes,” Eren rolled his eyes. “Isn’t that obvious?”

“I don’t remember you asking me.”

“Oh my god—“

“I’m old fashioned, Eren,” Levi shrugged.

Eren didn’t look bothered. “Fine. I’ll ‘old fashion’ the fuck out of you. Prepare yourself.”

“Can’t wait.”

Chapter Text

“Want me to order a pizza?” Levi stretched his arms over his head and backwards. He looked down at Eren, who was now lying on his stomach next to his desk. He looked good like that: sprawled, casual, messy. Levi could stare at Eren all day.

Eren blinked up at him. “Wait, for real?”

“Why not?” Levi replied easily. “Here, call it in.”

Eren caught Levi’s phone and messed around with it before snickering to himself. Levi blushed, worried Eren may have found something incriminating. Levi wasn’t the one to really delete pictures. Did he find something in his gallery, maybe—?

“Dude.”

“What?” Levi snapped.

The brunet tucked his lips into his teeth to conceal a forming smirk. “Nothing, I just . . . The text on your phone is so big. Are you that old?”

Levi scowled. “Shut up! Can’t we just get pizza without you pointing out how old I am all the time?”

“I think it’s sexy, actually.”

“Eren.”

Eren laughed at the scrunched expression his boyfriend wore. “Kidding. But, not really.”

“Just order the pizza,” Levi sighed, rubbing a hand over exhausted eyes. “I’m almost done with my work.”

“And what is work?” Eren scoffed. “Watching Zeke make gooey eyes at you all day?”

“I’d rather shit in my hands and clap,” Levi scowled. “No, these damn discussion posts. Some kids really don’t know anything about brevity. Who fucking asked about your sick dog? Not me.”

“Mm.” Eren was typing.

“When I get done going through these papers, we can watch a movie,” Levi offered, nudging Eren with his toe.

“Cooool,” Eren acknowledged, half-listening. He was typing something into Levi’s phone. “Sorry. Did you want breadsticks?”

“No.”

“. . . Can I get breadsticks?”

Levi leaned into the palm of his hand as he scrolled through the several paragraphs of words he had left. “Get whatever you want, Eren. I’m paying.”

Eren sat up. “Whaaat, really? Like for all of it?”

Levi was confused. “Yes?”

“You’re so nice,” Eren was smiling again.

“Thank you.”

“You’re a good boyfriend,” Eren nudged him. “Is this what it’s like to be in a gay relationship? To be taken care of by another guy?”

Levi squinted. “You’ve never had a girl offer to buy you food before? Or take care of you in any sort of way?”

Levi was a little shocked. He would’ve pegged Eren as the kind of guy everyone would fall in love with and spoil every chance they could get. He was so easy to care about that way; it was hard to imagine someone not loving him as much as Levi did.

“Sometimes,” Eren shrugged. “I never let them, though.”

“Glad I could be the first one to break that ceiling, then,” Levi rolled his eyes. He was aloof, but burning on the inside. He was giddy to be the first one to treat Eren the way he ought to be treated.

“Okay, it’s ordered!” Eren announced, handing Levi’s phone back to him. “Twenty minutes.”

“Good,” Levi held out his good hand. Eren darted his eyes back and forth between his hand and Levi’s face. Levi could feel him wanting to ask something, but the older man prayed that Eren could take a hint.

As if on fire, Eren took a hold of Levi’s hand into his own and squeezed. Levi could feel Eren’s hand grow warmer, and sweatier, even. The immature feelings sent a flurry of butterflies down his own stomach and he smiled.

His phone buzzed a couple of times.

“Did you get all your work done?” Levi asked absently, rubbing a thumb against calloused skin.

Eren may have been the one to profess old fashioned feelings for him, but Levi had a few plans up his sleeve as well. He was going to ensure Eren felt all the love he could be given.

Eren scooted closer and rested his cheek against Levi’s thigh. “Hm, yeah. I’m about halfway through my algebra homework—it’s not due until Monday, don’t give me that look.”

“Good,” Levi replied, pleased Eren was taking in his affections so easily. “I don’t want our relationship to get in the way of your school work, Eren.”

He snorted in response. “Yeah? You gonna make me do my homework every time we hang out, or what?”

“If that’s what works,” Levi teased, his own smile growing at Eren’s grin.

“I take it back, you’re a shit boyfriend.”

Levi was enticed. “Because I want you to get good grades?”

“Don’t care, didn’t ask,” Eren poked Levi’s thigh. “Plus, you’re white. Plus ratio.”

Levi’s face scrunched. “What the hell did you just say to me?”

knock-knock-knock

“Hanji?” Eren asked, tilting his head.

Levi snorted. “As if she’d knock first. It’s probably the pizza.”

“That was fast. Want me to get it?”

Levi sighed, glancing down at Eren, who rested by his thigh. “You stay here. I’ll be back in a bit.”

“Okay,” Eren smiled, pressing a gentle kiss to Levi’s leg. “Back soon?”

“I’ll try,” Levi replied sarcastically.

knock-knock-knock

The moments between the bedroom and the front door were brief, but clouded with annoyance all the same. He didn’t think the pizza would arrive that quickly, but he’s experienced stranger things before.

Barely thinking about it twice, Levi opened his front door and froze. Fear sank straight down to his toes, icing his veins along the way.

There, on his porch, stood none other than Carla. To his relief, she didn’t look pissed, but worried? Scared, even?

“Hi, I’m sorry to bother you, Levi,” Carla smiled politely, clutching her phone close to her chest. “I was just—Ugh, I need to talk to someone. It’s kind of . . . well, it’s kind of urgent.”

Levi blinked quickly. It took a few moments to process what she was saying, as the only thing running through his mind was how her son was curled up against Levi’s thigh like a cat, flashing cute eyes and kissing him.

Eren was still in his office.

“Uh . . .” Levi croaked, his fist tightening on his doorknob.

Carla smiled. She was still wearing her work clothes from the aquarium. Levi knew she worked part time there now that she was retired. Carla enjoyed her work, giving tours to people and hosting children’s nights. She was a lovely woman and she didn’t deserve this. Any of this. At least, not like this. Levi cannot believe he was caught off guard like this.

He couldn’t let her in. He couldn’t invite her in. Carla was never one to venture into Levi’s office unprompted, but time was ticking. Levi knew that Eren could come out at any moment, grubbing for pizza only to find his own mother in the living room.

“You didn’t respond to my texts,” Carla spoke. “I saw you come home earlier and I thought to come here myself, so . . .”

Levi paled.

She most definitely texted him. It wasn’t unusual for Carla to ask Levi to hang out. A few times a month, they would drink wine and sit on his couch and vent. Levi would sometimes dominate the conversation, bitching about his ex husband or about work, and sometimes Carla would about her ex or Eren or Mikasa, even. Back when Levi was on horrible terms with Eren, he didn’t mind so much but now that they were an item . . .

“I must’ve missed it,” Levi tried to keep his voice even. “Sorry. Let me check—“

Wait. He could text Eren right now! He could warn him before he came out!

He grabbed his phone out of his pocket, where a few lines of messages from Carla and Eren sat patiently.

[Carla]
Levi. Mind if I come over? I have something on my mind. I was thinking…

And a text from earlier . . .

[Eren]
Hey leviii

[Eren]
im not sure if ur mad at me…

“Yep,” Levi blurted, rushing to put his phone away. “I found your message. Sorry, I—“

“Oops!”

And unfortunately, his phone fell in front of Carla, right where it had Eren’s messages were out in the open.

Levi was faster than Carla, grabbing his phone with heat beneath his cheeks. Carla covered her mouth with a snicker at the whole exchange, looking quite sly.

“Levi, you’re blushing,” Carla teased, shoving a hand towards his shoulder. “Have you been seeing someone? I know those messages aren’t mine.”

Levi was a horrible liar.

“No—“

“Oh, I’m definitely coming in!” Carla beamed, pushing past Levi and heading straight to his kitchen. “We need to dish. I bet my gossip is juicier than yours!”

Fuck!

“I seriously doubt it,” Levi grumbled. He swallowed down a bundle of nerves and shut the front door before speed-walking to the kitchen. His mind was racing. He was wondering what would come first—Eren being discovered or Carla leaving the house?

“You will not believe the week I’ve had, Levi,” Carla groaned, thumping her purse onto the counter as she slid into a barstool at his kitchen island.

“Oh, really?”

“Awful,” Carla groaned, rubbing manicured fingers over tired eyes. “Mind if I pull out the wine?”

“Not at all.”

Carla turned her back to Levi to rummage through his cabinets and work on a bottle of Merlot.

Levi didn’t waste the opportunity. He pulled his phone out.

[Levi]
Your mom is here. Leave.

”I love the aquarium, you know I do,” Carla spoke over her shoulder, making Levi dart a cautious eye up. “But sometimes that place drains me.”

“Kids?” Levi offered.

Carla popped the corkscrew off the wine bottle and took a breath. “No, not exactly.”

Eren’s text was immediate, but not fast enough for Levi.   

[Eren]
wtf liar lmao

“Coworker troubles you could say,” Carla shrugged, pouring liquid red into two wine glasses.

[Levi]
Eren, I’m dead serious. Find a way out and back into your room.

[Eren]
what about the pizza 😭😭😭

“Levi?”

“Huh?” Levi tucked his phone away.

“Everything okay?” She held out a glass for him.

“Everything is fine,” Levi lied, eagerly accepting the glass. “It’s just the uh . . . the gossip I had. What did you want to talk to me about?” Levi put his phone away, praying that Eren would be smart enough to take Levi’s word for it and to scramble.

Carla sighed. “Oh, Levi. You’re going to hate me.”

Not as much as you would hate me, if you knew.

“Carla,” Levi said seriously. “I don’t hate people.”

Carla looked playful. “Nile?”

“I said I don’t hate people, right?” Levi replied playfully, speaking slow as to keep an ear out for Eren. “Nile’s a demon.”

She laughed regardless, making Levi chuckle nervously. He took an impulsive sip of his wine, busying his mouth. Carla followed, taking her own sip of liquid courage.

“It’s about Grisha, Levi,” Carla’s voice grew gentle. “He is trying to reach out.”

“You told him fuck off, right?” Levi replied, a bit nastier than he intended.

Carla snorted. “I wish I did, but he didn’t reach out for me. He reached out to make amends with Eren.”

Levi could feel himself ignite. He burned with a new protectiveness. “He’s a grown man. Why not call Eren directly like an adult? Why are you the liaison?”

“I wish I knew,” Carla expressed, shaking her head into her wine. “But he said he wanted to at least be talking to Eren by his 21st birthday and I said that just wasn’t up to me. Because it isn’t.”

Levi hesitated. He stared into the small pool of his wine and thought carefully about his next few words. He cared greatly for Eren and for Carla. The last thing he would want for either of them is to get hurt by the man who started it all, but Levi had to pull himself into reality.

It wasn’t his place. Publicly, or privately.

“So what will you do?” Levi asked gently.

She rubbed a stressed hand onto her temple. “I . . . I don’t know. He’s still his father. He was a good father to Eren, but horrible as a husband. I just don’t know what to think . . .”

Levi nodded sullenly.

“Eren’s a good kid,” Levi nodded. “He’s very . . . Thoughtful. I’m sure if you gave him the option, he would do right by you.”

Carla’s face melted into something that Levi would label ‘soppy affection’.

“You’re sweet, Levi,” Carla smiled. “But don’t think I forgot about your piece of gossip!”

Levi stiffened.

“Now tell me about this new guy you’re seeing,” Carla smiled, taking a dangerous sip of her wine.

Chapter Text

Eren was successful in sneaking back into his own house.

He spent a moment or two pacing around Levi’s office listening intently. He was sure that Levi was pulling a prank of some kind and there was no way his mom was actually here. She still had her shift at the aquarium and she often went for dinner or drinks after with her friends. She wasn’t here, right?

Then he heard the unmistakable sound of his mom’s laughter and he felt cold all of a sudden. His mothers laughter was distinct, usually infectious in a playful and fun way but only rang like the toll of death now.

Once the laughter registered in his mind, Eren didn’t hesitate to push open the window to Levi’s office scramble out in a panic. He doubted his mom would suddenly want to go into Levi’s office, but one couldn’t be too safe nor too quick.

It was dark out, and Eren made the mistake of landing in Levi’s rose bushes.

He let out a loud yelp as he felt thorns scrape and prickle at his skin. He instinctively shut his eyes and grimaced, knowing he was definitely bleeding in most places. Hot pain seared across his body and Eren lay still for a single moment, holding his breath.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, Eren thought to himself. I gotta get up.

Eren let out a breath of air as he stood from his crouching position, wincing at the pain. He leapt out of the bushes and stumbled onto his feet. He took a quick look around to make sure no one was looking. He found the street to be empty, quiet with sleep and dark with night.

Eren ran back home.

-

Eren sat on the counter of his bathroom, stripped down to his underwear as he carefully wiped at the blood that raced over his tan skin. He wasn’t bleeding too profusely in certain areas, but the prickles on his skin definitely weren’t unnoticeable.

As Eren sat in the bathroom, he couldn’t help but think to himself.

Zeke Jäger . . .

Jaeger was not an uncommon last name in the slightest. Sure, their surnames may have been spelled differently, but there was no way in hell that Eren wasn’t related to this guy. Eren may not have had blond relatives, but he should find out.

He called Armin.

“Hello?” He answered immediately, his voice sounding far away and close.

“Armin,” Eren sounded serious. “I have like, this crazy theory.”

“Okay,” Armin said slowly, following along.

“And you’re the smartest guy I know,” Eren continued. “So, you can totally stop me at any time and call me crazy, but I just needed to bounce this idea off of someone.”

Armin took a deep breath. “Shoot.”

“Have I told you about that guy in my lit class?” Eren asked, feeling impatient at the mere mention of this stupid Zeke dude. “The tall blond guy that’s after Levi’s dick?”

Eren made it no secret he was peeved by Zeke’s entire existence. He vented to anyone who would listen (besides Levi, of course).

“Mm . . .” His friend hesitated. “Yes. Zeke, right? The one that always emails Levi?”

“Yes.”

“Yeah, many times,” Armin answered. “Why?”

Eren pursed his lips. He wondered briefly if he was making the wrong move here, letting someone besides himself indulge in this theory. He didn’t want to make the situation bigger and uglier in any way, but this whole thing smelled fishy and it was gnawing at him.

“His last name is Jäger.”

Armin was quiet for a moment, which drove Eren to chew onto his bottom lip nervously.

“I saw it on an email on Levi’s computer,” Eren continued. He hopped off the counter and began pacing his bathroom. “Zeke had a book recommendation for Levi, and his last name was Jäger, but spelled a little differently. You don’t think there’s any connection there, is there?”

Eren wasn’t sure what kind of response he was hoping for. He was praying that Armin would maybe laugh in his face, call him crazy and hang up. That would squash any of Eren’s worse fears that this guy was . . .

“You don’t think he’s . . .”

“Right?” Eren asked, his voice raising an octave. “Jaegers are kinda rare here! If someone is walking around with that last name, my dad knows them or I do.”

Armin chuckled humorlessly, like he often did while nervous. “Eren, that . . . that’s a pretty eerie coincidence. How old is he?”

“I don’t know,” Eren swallowed. “Maybe a couple of years older than me? Maybe more? I don’t know, it’s so hard to tell. I overheard him tell Levi he was a freshman once, but there’s no way he’s younger than me.”

His friend took a deep breath. “I think you should talk to your mom.”

“But . . .” Eren felt his chest get tight. “But I never—“

“I know,” Armin assured. “I know, but you should. Before this gets ugly. I think you owe it to Zeke as well. We don’t know what he knows or how much he knows.”

“This is crazy.”

“Do you want me to come over?”

Eren hesitated. “N-No, I think I can do it. I’ll ask her when she gets home. She’s at Levi’s right now.”

“Call me after,” Armin said, posing the statement as more of a demand. “Please, okay? I care about you.”

“Okay, I’ll keep you updated,” Eren promised. “Bye.”

“Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Eren hung up the phone and stared at the device as it went back to his homepage: a series of clustered apps over a photo of Levi that Eren snuck once.

It was a serene photo taken during the time Eren was still working on Levi’s backyard with a fat crush on him. Levi was reclining in a chair with his head towards the sky and his arms relaxed. His face wasn’t visible in the photo and to the naked eye, this could’ve been a stock picture. But Eren knew.

Levi . . .

Levi would want Eren to find out the truth.

Eren swallowed thickly and closed his eyes.

“Fuck,” He whispered to himself, tapping his phone against his forehead.

-

Eren was hungry.

Once showered and dressed, Eren slipped on loose, baggy clothes and went to the kitchen to scour for something to eat. He wore long sleeves and long pants, as to avoid any prying eyes asking why he was covered in tiny scratches and cuts. Eren also deduced that Levi wouldn’t have any questions, as it would be a long while before they ever saw each other naked again.

He wandered into the kitchen and froze at the sight.

Eren’s mother was standing at the counter, er—leaning over the counter, her face blushed and a pizza slice in her hand. Levi was standing next to her, calmly sipping a glass of water.

Eeeeren!” His mother sang, her arms flinging open. Her face peeled back with a sloppy grin. “Pineapple on pizza! Your favorite!”

“What’s going on?” Eren frowned at the sight.

“I walked your mom home,” Levi replied easily. “I didn’t think you were home, sorry.” His eyes glittered, making Eren swallow.

“Piiiiiizza!” His mother grinned, holding up a tattered, greasy box of pizza. “Mommy ate all the breadsticks, but Levi was so nice to order pizza! You want some?”

Fuck yeah I do.

“Sure,” Eren laughed, reaching in for a slice. He eyed the golden slices of fruit that sat still on the pizza and took an eager bite.

Luckily, Eren and Carla shared a few bites of pizza in a solitary moment before she opened her mouth again.

“Where have you been, Eren?” Carla asked through a mouthful of pizza.

“Uh, home,” Eren replied, patting his pizza with a napkin. He darted a look to Levi, who was busy fixing himself another glass of water.

She snorted. “Liar. You sneaking out again?”

“No,” Eren replied defensively. Levi looked quiet.

“Yeah y’are!” Carla jut a finger towards him. “I came home from work and you weren’t here! Where were you, hm? Annie’s house again?” 

Eren was getting annoyed.

Eren didn’t see his mother drunk often and truth be told, he hated it. His father was the one who was always drunk at parties, belligerent and out of control most times. His mother would be the streak of calm Eren needed, always taking care of everyone and keeping his father in check. To know that his one shred of calm was drunk in front of Levi like this was irritating.

“Mom, stop,” Eren snapped, sitting up. “Can’t you just mind your own damn business for once!?”

Levi slid the cup of water towards Carla and glared. “You really talk to your mother like that, Eren?”

Eren glared at Levi with a bright, angry look and opened his mouth, but not before Carla interjected again.

“Yes! See, Levi? This is exactly what I was talking about! Eren is so mean to me!” Carla snapped, taking the cup of water and chugging it.

Eren rolled his eyes. “Yeah, because you’re drunk off your ass and it’s disgusting to watch.”

“Whatever,” Carla snapped. “I’ll get drunk if I want. I’m having fun!”

“Good for you,” Eren rolled his eyes, feeling the burn of an oncoming argument with his mom.

“Speaking to your mother like that,” Carla continued, shaking her head. “Honestly, where did he get that from?”

Levi stifled a scoff. “No clue, actually.”

“I’m having fun,” Carla slapped Levi’s arms away before heading further into the kitchen. She stumbled as she kicked her shoes off, her hair tangled and her cardigan crooked. “Are we having fun?”

“Thanks for taking her home, Mr. Ackerman,” Eren spoke, a smirk threatening to unfurl on his lips. Levi glared at that but walked past Eren anyway. “You can see she’s pretty much useless when she’s drunk.”

Levi leaned against the counter, giving Eren a narrowed glare. His jaw was tense. He could tell the professor was upset with him, but he didn’t care. Eren admired him for a few seconds. Despite the man’s sprained wrist, Levi still moved with confidence and ease, like he thought carefully about his movements. He also couldn’t help but stare at Levi’s tense and muscled forearms—

“I’m going to head out,” Levi spoke, tossing a few napkins in the trash. “Text me tomorrow, Carla. Can I promise Eren will keep you safe?”

“Oh, I’m good!” Carla straightened with a smile. “Bye, Levi. Thank you, so, so much! And make sure you keep Eren in check at school, hm?”

“Wait,” Eren frowned. “Wha—?”

“Trust me,” Levi was at the door with a sharp stare over his shoulder. “I will. Night.”

“Night!” Carla yelled.

And then it was mother and son.

“Mr. Ackerman told you he was my professor, hm?” Eren spoke over his plate of pizza, fighting himself to keep composed. He burned with embarrassment, not knowing what the two spoke about in their private time.

“He did!” Carla smiled, reaching for a slice of pizza. “Mm, Mr. Ackerman is so nice. I’m so glad you two are close. He’s handsome, too. Don’t you think he’s handsome?”

Eren wanted to choke. “Uh, I guess—?”

“It’s a shame he’s single. I tried drilling him about his love life but that man is a closed up box! He swears up and down he isn’t seeing anyone, but I’ll find out soon. A man like that shouldn’t be single, right, Eren?”

Eren swallowed thickly. “Um, yeah. He’s a really cool dude, I-I guess. Did you guys talk about me?”

“A little,” His mom sighed. “He says you’re a good student, Eren. He says you’re keeping on top of your work.”

“Yep,” Eren was uncomfortable.

He remembered now that he ought to ask his mom about Zeke. She was drunk, sure, but the two were alone. Their alone time together like this was rare nowadays, since Eren is attending classes full time and his mother found an aquarium to work part-time at.

“Good!” Carla reached over and pinched his cheek. “I love you. You know that, right?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Eren shoved her away, a smile cracking onto his features.  “Hey, mom. I have a question . . .”

“Hm?”

Carla looked relaxed. She smiled with a gentle glow radiating from her features that made Eren melt. He hasn’t seen her look this plump with contentment in a very long, long time. She had one of those smiles you could only capture in photographs.

Eren can’t.

“Are you happier?” Eren asked, the question rolling instinctively off his tongue.

Carla looked like she was about to melt. “Eren, I’m always happier knowing that you and Mikasa and Agnes are in my life. I couldn’t be more blessed. Why?”

“I’m worried,” Eren said honestly. “That’s . . . That’s all.”

“You’re such a good boy,” Carla threw her arms around Eren. “I’m so proud of you, you know that, right? You’re doing such amazing things now, like going to college . . .”

“Mom . . .”

“Staying off the streets—“

“Mom,” Eren whined unwrapping her arms from his neck and shoulders. “You’re drunk. Let’s get you ready for bed.”

“Fine, fine. Just know I love you with all my heart, Eren.”

“I know, Mom.”

“Ooh, we should call Mikasa—!”

“Okay, let’s not do that, huh? Come on, drunk ass.”

Chapter Text

Carla considered herself an uncomplicated woman with a complicated past.  

Growing up, Carla was a handful to her single mother. She constantly found herself in school fights, parties and other questionable activities. Carla’s mother tried her best to wrangle Carla in, but with a lack of skills in English, three other children and two jobs, it was best to say that Carla was given up on.  

In those quiet moments of the early morning when Carla would come home after a night out, nothing would affect her. Not her mother’s tight-lipped stare of disapproval, not her burning eyes, not her tears, not her siblings screaming at her for making their mother cry—nothing. Carla, being the youngest, felt invincible. Her mother couldn’t speak enough English to properly discuss disciplinary actions with the school and her siblings were too busy with their own lives to chase after Carla.  

It wasn’t until her mother passed away whilst Carla was in her senior year of high school that something changed.   

Carla was plagued with an insurmountable amount of guilt. Her mother passed away, believing that Carla would’ve been the only one of her four children to not graduate high school and start a family. She passed away thinking Carla was going to make nothing of herself. Her siblings said nothing to her concerning Carla’s mistreatment of their mother, but Carla knew. Carla would fix things.  

She ended up graduating after all, and not dead last in her class. She studied hard over the summer while working late nights in a bar to make ends meet now that her mother wasn’t around. She got into the local college and found her love in social studies and history. A new passion burned within her to study the world and all its history. She wanted to travel.  

Of course, things changed.  

She met Grisha, an older, smarter man who listened to her and her troubles. As a young woman, Carla worked at a firm where she made a good amount of money. They were good as a couple, horrible as parents and they divorced nearly twenty years later. Carla doesn’t like to dwell on that part of her life, at least not yet.  

With her mother’s spirit, she made good with what she had. She had two beautiful children who were doing great things. Carla had a gorgeous granddaughter who shone with all the light of the sun and she had an easy, sunny job at the aquarium as a tour guide. With her alimony, retirement and wages from the aquarium, Carla was able to finally fend for herself and her home she shared with her son. She couldn’t be more grateful.  

She woke up in her bed, her throat dry and her eyes bleary. There was an ache in her bones and regret sunk deep in her core. Now she remembered why she never drank anymore. Carla was most definitely not the same woman she was decades ago.  

She sat up and jumped at the sight before her; on the floor was her son, sleeping in a ball with scarce blankets and a pillow from the couch. Her first instinct was irritation . She couldn’t believe her son slept on the floor in such conditions! He might get sick!  

“Eren,” Carla nudged at him, kneeling by his side. “Go in the bed.”  

Eren shoved at her, groaning to himself and burying his head beneath a pillow. She sighed and stroked his hair that was getting far too long for her tastes.  

Eren .  

Carla’s miracle baby. They adopted Mikasa early into their marriage, believing Carla had fertility problems. However, Eren was born soon after with no complications and he was a stunning image of Carla and her own mother. She loved Eren and Mikasa the same, though Eren was a more complicated child.  

“Do you have class today, baby?” Carla asked again.  

“At noon,” His voice was still thick and groggy with sleep.  

“Okay. I’ll let you sleep on the floor like a homeless person, Eren.”  

“Thank you.”  

Carla rolled her eyes. She grabbed at the duvet on her bed and tucked her son in, smiling small at the way he coddled to her touch. Believing he deserved the rest the most, she left him like that and wandered into the kitchen to prepare herself a cup of coffee.  

She glanced at the pile of dirty dishes in the sink and scowled at them. She considered for a moment if she should wash them, but with a tired defiance, she turned away and made her coffee. 

Once the bitter liquid reached her lips, Carla decided to fetch the mail.  

The morning was cool, with a gray overcast and a gentle, though nipping wind tugging at her clothes. She tugged her wool cardigan closer to her body and walked down her driveway.  

“Carla!” 

Carla whipped her head around and found her neighbor, Amanda, jogging her way.  

Amanda was the woman who lived directly behind Carla. She was a mother of two young children in middle school and worked as a nurse. Carla felt stings of jealousy towards her at times, since she had such a busy work schedule but found time to be a mother and found time to stay in shape. Amanda was nice, but nosy, at times. Levi didn’t like her too much.  

“Amanda!” Carla smiled. “Morning jog, I see!” 

“And morning tea,” Amanda teased with a smile, coming to a stop a few feet away from Carla. “It’s a term my kids taught me—tea means gossip.” 

Carla was intrigued, her eyebrows raising. She could admit she was a bit of a chismosa , and it wasn’t easy to soothe those habits when living so far away from her sisters.  

“Well, what’s the tea?” Carla shook her shoulders playfully, raising her cup to her lips.  

Amanda snickered. “Well, this tea is pretty juicy and very much true. I think your friend, the hermit over there, is seeing someone.” 

Amanda nudged her head in the direction of Levi’s house.  

“Shut up,” Carla rolled her eyes, crossing her arms defiantly. “I asked him about it last night—“ 

Amanda gave her a look and Carla waved her hand flippantly. “He swears he isn’t seeing anyone. I’ve asked and asked, but he won’t tell me. You know he’d tell me, too.” 

“I swear he is,” Amanda emphasized with a new excitement. “I saw a man climb out of his window last night!” 

Carla gasped, delighted by the news. That surely meant that Levi was seeing someone and he was home while Carla stopped by! Amanda shared her glee in this as well, snickering at Carla’s reaction.  

“He must’ve snuck out while I was there!” Carla clicked, snapping her fingers. “Damn, he probably didn’t want me to meet him yet!” 

“Probably,” Amanda shrugged. “Though, it’s odd that he wouldn’t just tell you, right? Why is it such a big deal? Unless . . .” 

“Unless it’s someone he’s embarrassed by,” Carla squinted. “But who would it be?” 

Amanda poked her playfully. “I would ask a bit more, Carla. Gotta run!” 

Amanda put her headphones back on and jogged away, Carla watching after her. 

Eren forgot how bored he was without Levi. 

He woke up and his first instinct was to FaceTime him, which he did.  

Eren woke up on his mom’s floor, disoriented and confused. He looked around to make sure his mom wasn’t around (she wasn’t) before ducking under the covers and calling his boyfriend.  

A yawn escaped from his throat and he rubbed at his eye sleepily. He was already warm thinking about Levi’s husky voice and onyx colored eyes staring back at him through the screen. Though the man lived next door, calling him was a new kind of giddiness.  

The call dropped immediately. Eren glanced at the time and frowned—Levi shouldn’t be in class yet. His first class of the day was at 9:30 and it was only 8 o’clock!  

[Eren]
What??? 

[Levi]
What.   

Eren recoiled at the cold reaction. 

[Eren]
Did I do something wrong? Why don’t you wanna talk w me :(  

[Levi]
You were being unfair to your mother last night, Eren. She never has the time to let loose and you shouldn’t go around making her feel embarrassed for that.   

You should apologize.   

Eren frowned at the message, a stirring feeling of annoyance brewing in his gut. He read the paragraph over and over, in complete disbelief! How dare Levi tell him how he can and can’t joke around with his own mom? That’s how they’ve been throwing words to each other back and forth for years!  

Eren took a deep breath, prepared to send a lengthy message about how it was totally none of Levi’s business and he should just keep his comments to himself—but Eren exhaled.  

[Eren]
Whatever.   

Eren got up for the day, a new furrow in his brow.  

Eren decided to skip classes today. 

For no particular reason.  

After showering and brushing his hair, Eren headed into the kitchen and began washing dishes. He noticed his mom was outside talking to some lady, but he didn’t think much of it. He’s seen her before—at Mikasa’s baby shower, around the neighborhood, that sort of thing.  

Carla came back inside, looking confused. She tugged her cardigan closer to her body before scanning the floor for some unknown answer.  

“Mom,” Eren called out. “You okay?”  

“Eren, what happened to your arms?”  

The question sent a sinking feeling to Eren’s gut. He blinked rapidly and glanced down at his arms, panic leaking into his body.  

He’d forgotten that he pushed his sleeves up to wash dishes, and now his arms were exposed for his mother to see. 

“Uh . . . I—I-“ Eren stammered, the urge to breathe escaping him. “I fell yesterday.”  

Carla didn’t look convinced. “Fell where?”  

“In a bush,” Eren replied, maybe too quickly. “I fell in a bush.”  

Carla stared at him for a few moments more. Eren stared back, unsure of what to say. His mind was racing a million miles a minute, trying his best to remember where he was exactly yesterday and where his mother was exactly yesterday—just to lie. He needed a good lie.  

“No class today, Eren?” Carla asked, her voice extremely low to the ground. She changed the subject, but by no means was Eren off the hook.  

Eren was scared shitless. His mother only spoke so punctually and low when Eren was about to get his ass handed to him. He needed to be very careful about what he said. He can’t speak too little or too much.  

“No.”  

Carla nodded. “Good. Let’s go get lunch, okay? Let me shower first.”  

“Okay.”  

Carla didn’t give her son a second look as she left down the hallway. This only worried him more, as this meant she was pissed. Eren knew his mom like the back of his hand. This wasn’t good.  

He called Levi.  

Luckily, Levi answered after three trills of the phone line.  

“Eren—“ 

“Okay, I know you’re mad at me or whatever, but something is wrong,” Eren said, his voice quick and quieted. The next words came out of his mouth like rapid fire.  

“She was fine this morning but then she talked to the neighbor lady and-and she came back looking so pissed at me, Levi! She-She asked me about the cuts on my arm and I got them from falling out of your house yesterday—“ 

“Eren, take a deep breath.” 

Levi’s voice was an anchor. It came as a steady, smooth and deep relaxation, like a heavy anchor in a thrashing, violent sea.  

Eren took a deep breath. He took a few more, not realizing that the wet warmth on his cheeks was from a sudden onslaught of tears.  

“Why did your mom ask about your arms?” Levi began.  

Eren glanced behind him. He could hear the groan of his mom’s shower and the muted sounds of music coming from her phone. He was safe.  

“I snuck out of your window last night and fell in your rose bush,” Eren explained, gulping down his nerves. “So I cut myself all over my arms. I’ve been trying to hide them but my mom saw them just now and asked me about it. I didn’t lie, though, I said I fell and-and now she wants to go have lunch with me right now.” 

“Okay.”  

“She sounded pissed ,” Eren added, confused at how calm Levi sounded. “She always sounds this way whenever she finds out something and-and I think she knows about—“ 

“No,” Levi spoke. “There’s no way she does, Eren. We’ve been very careful—“ 

“I’m telling you, she knows,” Eren cried, wiping the tears away from his cheeks. “I don’t want my mom to hate me, Levi. What do I do?”  

“She won’t,” Levi promised, his voice more urgent. “You said she was talking to one of your neighbors? Do you know who she was talking to?”  

Eren’s mind raced. “Uh—it was some white lady. She lives behind my mom. Andrea or—?” 

Amanda .”  

“Yes.”  

Levi was quiet. Eren jumped, panic bubbling in his throat.  

“Should I lie to her and say I have a test in your class?” Eren asked eagerly. “Maybe then I don’t have to go to lunch with her?”  

“No, go to lunch with your mom,” Levi said. “If you don’t, she might ask Amanda for more information while you’re gone. I guarantee Amanda saw you coming out of my window, and as of right now, we don’t know how much your mom knows.”  

Eren grew frustrated. “Levi, I’m telling you, she knows.” The utterance of that knowledge was enough to make Eren croak the last word, as if he were about to break down in tears.  

“She’s suspicious ,” Levi corrected. “If she knew for sure, she would’ve ran to my house to strangle me, don’t you think?” 

“That doesn’t make me feel better,” Eren mumbled miserably, knowing Levi’s words were accurate. He’s had many nightmares about the exact scenario.  

“She wants to ask you first, Eren,” Levi said. “She respects you that much.”  

“But what do I do?” Eren asked.  

“You can tell her the truth, if you want,” Levi replied after a silence. “Or you can lie. I can’t make you choose but just know that whatever you decide, I’ll still be by your side.”  

“Levi . . .”  

“I have to go to class, now. Call me tonight.”  

“I will.”  

There was a linger between Eren’s words and Levi’s next ones. The words hung heavy on Eren’s tongue and his heart ached to roll them out.  

“Bye, Eren.”  

“See you later, Levi.”  

Chapter Text

Levi was a nervous wreck. 

He managed to show up to his own class, at least. He was late and his students looked confused, but Levi couldn’t give less of a shit. His mind raced, his brain scrambled with thoughts of Eren, fears of Carla kicking down his door and lesson plans on Pride and Prejudice.   

He wasn’t quite sure if Eren would tell his mother the truth or not. A secret, selfish part of his psyche hoped that Eren would continue their lie. Levi’s been enjoying their small bubble. He enjoyed kissing Eren alone, he enjoyed spoiling the younger man without worry and public eye. Now, that all might be gone before it ever truly started.  

But he trusted Eren. Eren would make the choice he believed to be correct and Levi would live with it. He will live with it. His plans with Eren were long term, and long term unfortunately meant that Levi would have to be well acquainted with his mom in a new light. This was coming sooner or later.  

Fuck.

Levi must be okay with it. Levi wasn’t one to lie. He enjoyed the truth, in all its ugliness and faults and chaos. He believed people deserved the truth.  

“Okay,” Levi closed his laptop, shutting off the PowerPoint that was displayed on the projector screen behind him. “I’m sorry, class, but our lesson will have to end early.” 

No one seemed particularly disappointed. They all filed out as fast as they could, possibly afraid of Levi changing his mind. He wasn’t hurt by this, however, as he watched them leave the room until it was just him and . . .  

Speak of the devil.  

Zeke.

Zeke was sitting still in his seat, right smack in the middle of the ocean of seats. He looked unfazed, leaning on his desk while scribbling something into the corner of his notebook.  

He burned with a new impatience at the sight of the blond. Levi couldn’t put his finger on it, but Zeke crawled under his skin. He also couldn’t help but think of all the circumstances that surrounded Zeke. He was a child of Grisha, Eren’s older half-brother. His mother was Dina, a woman who worked with Grisha at his auto repair shop. Zeke was a part of Grisha’s secret family, his affair away from home. 

“Class is dismissed,” Levi barked in a not-so-friendly way before putting his own laptop away.  

“You look stressed,” Zeke simply said. 

Levi wasn’t sure if Zeke knew of all this. He wasn’t sure if he knew of Eren’s existence as his own brother. He wasn’t sure if he knew the truth. 

Levi snorted. “Gee, thanks. I’m going through some relationship problems, if it’s that obvious . . . Don’t look so pleased about that. You’re still a student.” 

Surely, Zeke doesn’t know.   

“An older student,” Zeke shrugged, slapping his notebook shut. “Still a student, I suppose.” 

Levi ought to find out. He should find out for Eren’s sake, for Carla’s sake. He should know what Zeke knows.  

“Do you not have any friends to tend to?” Levi asked in a tone that wasn’t as abrasive as last time. “Or do you find it absolutely necessary to keep making moves on your professors?” 

“One professor.” 

“And no friends,” Levi quipped back, his lip twitching.  

“I haven’t found anyone I’ve gotten along with, yet,” Zeke said. It was a surprisingly honest response that made Levi falter.  

I could ask.  

“I would’ve assumed you and that Eren kid were close or related somehow,” Levi spoke as he could already feel the heat gather beneath him.  

“Who?” 

“He sits a little behind you.” 

“Oh, him,” Zeke stroked at his beard. He thought carefully before speaking again. “I don’t know, I never thought to reach out to someone like that. He seems like too much of a meathead for me.” 

“He’s not a meathead,” Levi snapped. “He’s actually very smart.” 

Zeke shrugged. “Can’t say I know. I’ve never seen him before. Why do you ask?” 

Levi could tell he was being honest. For a moment, he felt the simmer of regret poking at his skin. He wondered briefly if he should stop—it was not his place to intervene, after all. 

But there’s nothing wrong with pointing towards the truth. Levi wouldn’t have to be the one to deliver it necessarily, right?   

“You guys have the same last name,” Levi blurted. “I just—I thought there might be a relation.”  

Zeke sat up.  

Eren Jaeger never had the best luck with his mom when it came to his upbringing.  

He knew why he always wound up in more trouble than Mikasa; his parents kept a watchful eye on him. And he’s heard the lectures plenty of times before as well. He’s heard about his own maternal grandmother passing away, he’s heard about Carla’s struggles, he’s heard about his own father’s parents—the whole nine yards.  

There was a part of him that was sure if his parents weren’t such micromanagers of his life, Eren would grow to be a good kid. And for awhile, he was.  

But for awhile, he wasn’t.  

Eren could remember the last time he was in big trouble with his mother. He remembered it clear as day, in fact.  

Eren was 18 and living at his old, giant house with his parents, who did nothing but bicker and argue at each other all day. In their stress of divorcing, they promptly ignored Eren. They cared not that their son dropped his football scholarship to play video games and smoke weed all day—not when they were fighting their own battle with each other.   

He remembered the day as being unusually cool, though the sun’s rays were warm. His bed at his parents’ house was a big, king sized bed with humble pillows and sheets. He had his TV blasting music, which was the usual protocol for when he snuck Annie over.   

Annie was his girlfriend who broke up with him right beneath their two year anniversary. She was a small, angry looking blonde that spent her days alone and in the library. Eren liked her because she was well-read, smart, and stayed out of trouble. This was the polar opposite to Eren’s reputation in high school as a star football player with struggling grades.   

“Eren?”   

“Hm?” Eren hummed, falling asleep where he was.   

“Turn off the music for a sec.”   

“Sure.”  

They met in a sophomore year history class when they were assigned to a presentation together. After Eren’s persistence and Annie’s eventual agreement, the two began dating. They were a bit of a marvel, as most were afraid of Annie and attracted to Eren. Their relationship was like any high school relationship: full of ups and downs. That’s all Eren could say.   

“You’re really not gonna go to college?” Annie asked, throwing Eren for a loop.   

Annie was sitting on the floor in front of Eren’s full length mirror, adjusting her makeup and hair after what Eren did to it. He didn’t mean to get it on her face, really.   

He thought for sure he was going to get yelled at again for it. She looked to scoff at him before remarking something hurtful in a low, monotone voice—much like someone he would meet two years later.   

“Why are you asking me now?” Eren coughed, exhaling a plume of Red Bull flavored smoke.   

Jean got him on vaping after his mom found out about the weed. It didn’t relax him nearly as much, but it left no smell behind and it tasted good. Annie didn’t like it, but she liked it more than the weed and alcohol.   

He could feel Annie roll her eyes. “Because, idiot, my dad’s asking.”   

Annie was cruel, that much could be said. She was mean to be mean, though Eren always convinced himself she had a soft side.   

“Nah,” Eren replied, placing the vape back between his lips.   

Annie was quiet for a moment.   

“It’s not too late to enroll in MSU, you know.”   

“My football scholarship isn’t for there,” Eren replied, as if rehearsed a million times. “It was for University of Alabama.”   

Annie didn’t care. She never cared about sports or anything like that, so she never fell for Eren’s traps. The traps being, of course, a few minutes of spiel about how he could easily go pro and yadda yadda yadda.   

“Not like you have it anymore, anyway,” Annie muttered. “But you should still go to college, Eren.”   

“And study what?” Eren scoffed.   

“English,” Annie scoffed back even faster. “It’s a good general degree.”  

“You want me to do everything you’re doing, is what you’re saying?” Eren sat up, staring at her reflection with narrowed eyes. “Why, is it ‘cause you think I’m stupid?”   

“Yes,” Annie stared right back. “But my dad doesn’t and he wants you to go to college.”   

“‘Kay, well your dad can go fuck himself.”   

Annie sighed and turned back to the mirror.   

Eren was being unfair, but he didn’t care. Annie was lecturing him a lot more lately, worrying over dumb shit like college and careers. He honestly had no clue why she was so worried like this.   

Another cloud entered his lungs.   

Who was she, his mother?   

Eren exhaled right as his bedroom door swung open, making him choke on his nicotine-infested cloud.   

Mom.

His eyes flew straight to Annie, who looked panicked and stood right away.   

“Eren, I have a—Oh! You have a friend over!”   

The way his mom’s voice twisted coldly pierced his lungs, making Eren unable to breathe. Eren sat up, fully aware of the hickies that littered his chest and neck.   

Once he locked eyes with his mother, who’s face contorted in a mixture of anger, disbelief and disappointment, Eren could feel the guilt penetrate his body like heavy rain to paper.   

Throughout his parents’ divorce, Eren’s tried hard to keep his less than cleanly activities out of the way of his parents. He would be careful to smoke his weed out of the window, through an empty toilet paper roll and dryer lint to hide the smell. He would be careful to mute the sounds of his rickety bed frame by stuffing pillows between the wood and the wall, he would cover Annie’s mouth with his own when he would rock his hips a little too hard—all for it to come crumbling down with an unlocked door?   

“Sorry,” Annie muttered, grabbing her bag and dodging past Carla and down the stairs. It was silence for a very heavy minute, the only noise being Annie’s retreating footsteps and the front door closing.  

“Mom,” Eren’s voice twisted, unrecognizable to his own ears. “I can explain—“  

Carla, like a lion, pounced.   

“Eren, you must be joking,” Carla approached her son with her nostrils flared and eyes wide. She raised her hand and swatted at Eren with quick hands.   

Eren jumped and raised his forearms against his mother. He knew she was reacting first and thinking later—as she often did.   

Eren wasn’t scared of her hits, no. After all, the sport of his entire life involved getting the lights taken out of you by bulkier men equipped with heavy padding and heavier helmets.   

But Eren cried. His mother cursed loudly in Spanish as she swatted unsuccessfully at him and he felt every single word.   

He screamed words back at her—but he can’t quite recall what he said. He must’ve said ‘I’m sorry—mom, please” in a variety of combinations and stutters.   

Eventually, he found an opening and scrambled out of bed. He ran down the stairs, his throat clenched and cheeks hot with tears.   

He ran out of the house, with his mom chasing after him. A string of Spanish curses escaped her lips as a sandal came at his head, narrowly missing and slapping against the wall.   

This time, they weren’t in Eren’s former bedroom. They were in a Vietnamese restaurant.  

And it wasn’t Annie. It was a man a decade older than him.  

He didn’t have a plan for telling his mom about Levi because to be completely honest, he thought Levi would’ve given up on him by now. Disregarding gender, Eren’s only been romantically involved with Levi for a few months, with a lot of that time spent away or fighting. It was a wild wave of a romance that Eren enjoyed riding, but he wouldn’t tell his mom right away even if Levi was a woman and his age.  

And besides, look what happened with Annie! His mom found out about their relationship only for Annie to dump him months after the incident. It was a lot of stress for something that fizzled out.  

In his heart, Eren wanted Levi to be different but he didn’t know yet. To keep Eren sane, he had to treat the two situations as the same. 

The drive there was the least nerve wracking part of the whole process, as she spent the drive telling Eren all about the owners of this place. She claims she’s been going here since they moved in and the pho is to absolutely die for.  

Once they were seated and looking at the menus, things were growing more and more tense by the minute.  

Eren squinted at the menu, unfamiliar with any of the food items and names—he resorted to having his mom order whatever she usually did.  

“Why did you decide to skip class today?” Carla asked curiously, folding her menu and placing her hands over it. 

Eren reached for his water and took a sip, as if quenching an invisible thirst might delay the inevitable.  

He needed to choose and he needed to choose quickly.

“You wanted to go to lunch,” Eren cringed as soon as the sentence fell from his lips. He couldn’t have been snarkier.  

His mother caught on, a nasty curl at her lips.  

“What happened to your arms, Eren?” She asked, much more pressing than before.  

The Earth was still. Eren could feel himself sweat. His hands vibrated, as if they would shake uncontrollably if he were to raise them. He wondered if it was going to feel like this forever, and if it was—when will it end? Will it end? Will it ever end?  

“Eren.” 

“Huh?”  

“Your arms,” His mom sounded irritated, which was absolutely warranted. Eren was replying dumbly, but he couldn’t feel his mouth.  

His mind swirled. Memories of his old bedroom were tugging at the back of his brain, screaming at all the warning signs like a toddler in a tantrum. Eren felt queasy.  

“Um . . .” Eren laughed nervously. “I don’t think it matters.” 

“Eren,” His mom sighed, her voice breaking its confidence. Eren’s head snapped up, surprised at how defeated she sounded. 

“I . . . I don’t want to beat around the bush anymore. I just want you to tell me the truth, okay? I know you were at Levi’s last night and I know you snuck out—so just tell me. Please, hijo, just tell me.” 

Eren took a deep breath. He clenched his fists and closed his eyes, searching wordlessly in his brain for something, anything that he could say. It was a public place. She couldn’t be too mad if he said it here, right? 

But Eren didn’t care.  

To compare the two situations, Eren had no choice but to tell his mom about Annie because she was the one to yank open that door and discover them. But this time, his mom was asking for permission to open the door.  

“I was there,” Eren spoke, his eyes falling to the table. “I . . .” 

He wanted to lock the door and do something he couldn’t do for Annie. He wanted to protect Levi, at least for a little while longer.  

“I’ve been seeing Mr. Ackerman after school because . . .”  

His mother leaned in. Eren swallowed.  

“Because I’m failing,” Eren’s voice cracked. “Er—I’m scared of failing.” He corrected quickly.  

His mothers brows downturned and her eyes darted about quickly, scanning her son’s expression. “I-I don’t understand—why are you scared of failing, Eren? Is that why you had to sneak out? You’re ashamed?” 

“Yes,” Eren broke. Though he was deflecting from the truth, his words and fears were far from a lie. “He’s been tutoring me. I’m too stupid for college, mom—I’m-I’m not cut out for it—“ 

“Don’t say that, Eren!”  

“It’s true!” Eren’s throat burned and he could feel the guilt sour the back of his throat like bile. 

Carla took his hands in her own. “Eren, you are a very smart kid, okay? I see it, Mr. Ackerman sees it—“ 

Eren flinched.  

“—We believe in you, baby. We’re gonna be by your side 100%! Oh, Eren. I’m so glad you told me this now! I was so worried—“ 

He didn’t let her finish. He came around the table and hugged her. Carla, taking her son’s hurt and turning it into her own, stroked his back and whispered lovings into his ear as he broke down and cried.