It’s been more than two years since they first joined the armed forces as fresh trainees, and even now it’s surprising that they’re all still alive and together in the Survey Corps. Having bunked with one another for so long, it’s really no surprise that they all know each other pretty well – hard not to become attuned to someone you’ve been living in close proximity with for such an extended period of time. This is why Eren can tell that Armin hasn’t been his usual self lately, and Jean can tell because Eren mentioned it to Mikasa who asked Armin about it while Jean was being stalkerish. Now, Eren and Jean are always at loggerheads over some issue, regardless of relative triviality or significance, but this is one thing that they can agree on. Armin’s antsy for a reason, and they’re going to work together to find out why.
The two well-intentioned idiots close in on Armin in the free hour they have after supper, as he’s making his way back to the barracks they all share. The sky is darkening rapidly and all of the other members are making the most of their miserly leisure allotment to go roll in the fields, get stone drunk or try to flirt with one another, like the stupid young people they are. But nope, not these guys. They are on a mission. They let Armin think he’s got the place all to himself for a maybe half a minute before slamming the door open dramatically, and hurling themselves on the small blonde to make sure he doesn’t try to flee. He manages to crawl out from under their combined weight so he doesn’t asphyxiate, though, at which point they back him up against the securely latched door and threaten to jump him if he tries to escape. He grudgingly agrees not to.
“Okay, Armin,” Jean begins. “We’ve noticed you’re looking pretty restless these days, and you aren’t being your usual self.”
Now it’s Eren eyeing him cautiously. “Yeah, like there’s something bothering you.”
“So spill. What’s the matter? You can tell us, you know. You should, really, you’ll feel better.” This followed by a pause from the unlikely pair in front of him.
“…It have anything to do with Annie?”
Armin thinks he does a pretty good job of hiding any winces he felt, but unfortunately for him that doesn’t get Eren and Jean off his tail. He’s glad that they’ve let the Annie thing drop for now and moved on to hassling him over other things, but he should have anticipated their persistence when it came to interrogating him on the root of his troubles, given the amount of practice hours they've had with pestering each other. He sighs deeply, and they turn to face him fully again with an almost menacing alertness.
“Say,” Eren queries suspiciously, “maybe you just need to let off some…steam, huh? Oi, Jean, why didn’t we think of that?”
Said horse-face rolls his eyes. “Because this is Armin we’re talking about, dummy.”
Sheesh. Let’s hear this already, Armin thinks. It sounds like this is gonna be good.
After an intense round of exchanged death stares, Jean’s the one who gets to break the news, and he does just that. “Armin,” he begins curtly, “have you ever considered that maybe you have a lot of pent-up sexual frustration?” And he’s interrupted just then by Reiner’s mocking drawl of “Have you no tact, Kirschtein?” coming from the window, and they all jolt (looking rather guilty, I must say).
Jean scowls. “Let’s hear you phrase it better, then, Reiner.”
But he’s beaten to it by Bertholdt, who’s clambering in through the window after his hulking friend with a fairly sheepish expression on his face. “Hey there, Armin.” The tall boy smiles.
“Maybe a better way to put it would be to say – ah – that being curious about and exploring your sexuality is a normal thing for a teenager. Quite especially, for sixteen-year-old's like us.”
“Damn right.” Reiner chips in, leering, and Armin gives up, mock-clawing at his face as he swivels to face away from the other boys.
“Fine, fine,” he sighs wearily. “So assuming I’m sexually deprived, what am I expected to – is there something I can do?”
Armin regrets those words the moment they leave his mouth, but it’s too late to take them back so he watches in slow motion as Reiner smirks and says “maybe not something, but someone,” in a ridiculously accurate parody of lewd tavern drunkards, whereupon they snicker collectively.
Well, it’s pretty clear to Armin what his friends have just suggested he do. Masturbate. He figures he ought to give this a shot, because even if it isn’t sexual frustration that’s making him antsy, it’ll be a welcome distraction from everything else that’s been emotionally screwing with him. He opens his mouth to speak.
“Okay, we still have about three quarters of an hour until free time is over. I don’t really know how to do this, so maybe you guys could…you know. Demonstrate or something…” he trails off when he spots Eren waggling his eyebrows. Everyone has a brief discussion, and they conclude that the logical first step would be to imagine a girl one wants to get down and dirty with, in order to get aroused. This turns out to be a source of much hilarity, because Armin takes one look at Eren and Jean’s expectant faces and drones, “not Mikasa?”
Bert and Reiner laugh so hard they can’t stand, slapping their palms on the wooden boards while crying mirthful tears (Eren and Jean, of course, cry tears of embarrassment). Of course, Armin has to completely ruin the mood in there by sitting forward and saying, very seriously in a small voice, “maybe Annie. If she was still around.”
Silence falls. In the background, Bert gulps audibly and flushes beet red. Reiner curls a possessive arm around his compatriot’s waist. Eren is the one who speaks up. “Okay,” he says (and he sounds so perky it’s weird), “now pants off, I suppose. C’mon.”
Cue synchronised shucking off of boots and trousers, belt buckles making ungraceful noises as they hit the floor. Then, wordlessly, all five of them slide their underwear off too. (“What, no horseshoe print boxers?” “Shut the fuck up, dickhead.” “Woah, check you out.” “Embarrassing. Eren, don't.”)
Just too unreal, all this
Watching his world slip though my fist
Playing with her in your fantasies
Haven't you heard a word, how I want you?
It’s so surreal to be told to touch himself like this, all of them naked from the waist down and with one hand on their semi-erect penises as they show him the basics of how to pleasure himself. How to stroke, or circle the mushroom-like tip, or flick at the slit there; how to cup his balls, how to vary the pressure just right. He looks down at his smooth white fingers sliding along his shaft, and wills himself to imagine that they are Annie’s instead, her touch sure and firm and absolutely phenomenal, bringing him closer to finishing. Armin imagines visiting her cell in the dead of night when no one else is around, kneeling in front of her crystal cocoon and stripping down slowly. He imagines getting to his knees on the floor, facing her lovely, cold visage as he strokes himself to completion; imagines his wildly flushed face pressed against the cool surface of the crystal as he trembles and gasps; imagines moaning her name as he squirts thick, ropy white onto the freezing cobblestones, imagines kissing the crystal over her lips before he has to leave.
The experience is immensely satisfying, and as his eyelids flutter back open he feels extremely grateful for the release (and the leeway to indulge in a forbidden fantasy). Still, his eyes narrow at the sight that greets him. Eren is gasping incoherently as Jean sucks him off, making mangled, incomplete jokes about horse sex and bestiality; his turquoise eyes glassy as he fists a hand in Jean’s hair. Meanwhile, Reiner has his dick inserted into Bert’s ass, and the sounds the two of them are making probably can be heard by anyone within five metres of the room, Armin thinks. He snorts rather derisively.
“So how often have you two done this?” Armin asks, and Bert quips back, in comically deadpan fashion, that “well, we didn’t want to die virgins.”
That line makes his night, really.
As does the frenzied bout of cleaning that follows, all of them wiping up the spillage from the floor with manic attention, and then taking great care to appear nonchalant when the others file in. The next morning, Corporal Rivialle pronounces their cleaning satisfactory for the first time.