The only thing that kept Levi from slumping forward onto the table’s surface and muttering every foul thing he could think of was that Jean had done that exact thing three seconds after he had sat down and the dark haired captain would be damned before he stooped down to the level of some idiotic kid. If the squad before him had been in bed, like they should have been, then he would have been free to sprawl across the table’s surface all he liked, but for some fucking reason the kids wouldn’t go to bed.
Oh god, he thought, everything in his body aching; the kids. I sound like some kind of fucking parent. Where did I go wrong? When did I get so fucking old?
As it was Levi’s control over his own posture was fraying slowly, idiotic kids present or not. They’d been outside the walls, bare minimum supplies, for once only interested in actually scouting, but as it was to be excepted everything had gone to shit rather quickly. Once Eren had bitten his thumb all hell had broken loose, titans flocking to the sound of his roar while everyone scurried like fucking bugs looking for a good space to fight without scattering to the fucking winds. Levi had spent the at least 12 hours straight scrambling to make sure his squad survived, bouncing between checking on the kids spinning around in their gear and making sure that Eren pointed his great hulking fists in the direction of their enemies.
Eventually the titans had tapered off and Eren had shrunk back down to a manageable size. But the scouting mission had been called to a halt and they’d turned around, Hanji rattling on about some important information they apparently collected while everyone else was surviving by the skin of their fucking balls.
Levi had briefly considered using his gear to close-line Hanji against a tree, but with Eren slumped over his horse, half passed out, and their gaggle of infant morons behind him he couldn’t risk one of their stupid asses getting caught against the line as well. They’d ridden hard back to the wall, barreled through the city in the pre-dawn hours without a care about the noise their horses’ made with their hooves on the ground, and then turned their bodies toward home.
Levi’s shoulders slumped a little involuntarily as he remembered the full body flush of relief that had gone through him upon seeing the castle loom closer in the early morning light. Embarrassing as his reaction had been, it had been nothing to the hoot and hollers of his squad as they had crested the hill and pulled their horses just short of the stables. One of them, Sasha Levi believed, might have actually have been weeping a little when she stumbled off a horse. Levi wasn’t completely sure, however, because Eren had still been half-asleep with exhaustion and had been slipping off his horse with the grace of a sack of shit.
Levi probably would have just let him fall if it had just been them, but he was supposed to take care of these idiot kids. That meant making sure they didn’t fall of their horses and brain themselves to death. So he had swung off his horse and grabbed Eren by the arm, easing him upright until Armin and Mikasa could get their asses of their own horses and come help him.
Daylight had broken over the horizon when the messenger had stepped out of the building, halting their squad’s merriment in its tracks. The messenger had been from the same fucking court back in that shit city they had sort of helped destroy in an effort to protect it only months before, demanding their immediate presence.
Or at least they had demanded Erwin and Hanji’s immediate presence. Levi had gotten off scotch fucking free, for once in his fucking life, leaving him to watch as his superior and Hanji mount the very same horses they had just dismounted from minutes before.
“Stop smiling at me or you’re coming with us,” Erwin had said, the memory of which made Levi’s lips twitch tiredly.
“I’m not smiling,” Levi had said. He hadn’t been, because Levi didn’t smile. It was physically impossible for him to smile; just ask the new recruits. “And unless you want to parade the entire fucking squad back into that fucking circus of pigs, I’m staying right here.”
Erwin had looked like he was considering ordering Levi back onto his horse out of spite, but one look behind the captain at his squad had made the older man sigh. Levi knew that the entire fucking squad wouldn’t have had to come, but Eren would have at the least and bringing that brat back into the politics of the city he had helped destroy was something they had agreed to avoid at all costs.
“If I’m not back in four days, send in a rescue mission,” Erwin had muttered, low enough that the messenger wouldn’t hear. Levi had smirked and promised nothing, which was how he ended up in the mess hall trying not to slump down in his chair too much while the rest of his squad moaned and groaned about their aches, their pains, and their fucking boo-hoo miseries.
Personally Levi just wanted to go back to his room, bathe, and then crawl in bed, but he couldn’t until the rest of the reports from the scouting mission came in from the other soldiers who had been outside the walls with them. So it was a little hard to understand why the idiots had decided to plop themselves down at the table with him, bitching up a storm, instead of crawling into bed like sensible fucking people.
Eren, the idiot that he was, had simply forgone the bed part and collapsed on the edge of the table in his seat to Levi’s left. The brat had been in danger of sliding off the edge of the table within minutes of nodding off, which had forced Levi to stick out his leg to keep him from moving any further. The brat in question huffed out a breath in his sleep as Levi was scanning the room with narrowed eyes, drawing his attention for a second as he mentally ran through the events of the previous day. Eren had kept good control over his titan form, though the roaring was unnecessary, as it drew attention, so if they could just-
Levi’s thoughts were interrupted by Jean. This happened more than Levi liked to acknowledge, mostly because the kid spoke loudly enough to be heard by the dead. He lifted his head as he turned back to the conversation, thoughts surfacing just in time to hear Jean say, “I don’t know how they kept fucking finding us, we were staying quiet and-“
“Quiet,” Levi repeated. Everyone at the table jolted, as if they had somehow fucking forgot Levi was there. Everyone except Eren, of course, who slumped further against Levi’s leg like a dumb puppy.
“Um,” Jean said, but Levi was so fucking done with that shit.
“You were being quiet, were you,” Levi asked. He finally gave in, slumping back against his chair and rolling his shoulders. Eyes darted between Jean and himself, wide and curious. Jean flushed.
“Well, yeah,” the kid said and Levi snorted, tipping his head back a little. Jean’s face did a complex thing where Levi didn’t give a fuck, the captain rolling his eyes toward the ceiling with agitation.
“Jean,” Levi said slowly, his patience bleeding out of him like he’d been gutted by a very dull piece of shit knife. “I told you to stay in the tree and keep quiet. Your idea of staying in the tree and keeping quiet was to fall to the ground, call the titan in front of you a ‘shit eating assface son of a bitch’, and then shoot a fucking flare up the goddamn thing’s nose.”
Silence hung in the air like a cloud of dust for a few seconds before the table started to roar with laughter. Jean turned a color of red Levi had only seen painted across hooker’s faces, sputtering and fumbling with his words as he tried to find something to defend himself with against the accusation that he was really that fucking dumb.
Eren shuffled slightly in his seat, drawing Levi’s attention from the sputtering teenager and toward the napping one. Only he wasn’t fucking napping; Eren was wide awake as fuck, his eyes slitted open slightly and grin mostly hidden by the arm he was using as a pillow. Levi considered using the leg that he thought had been the only thing between Eren and a painful head wound to kick the brat out of his chair, but Eren’s eyes were bright, filled with mirth as he listened to Jean sputter on the other side of the table.
Instead of kicking Eren out of the chair Levi slumped a little further down, leg pressing against the brat’s more firmly. “Go to sleep,” he told the boy quietly, eyes drifting back to study his squad. Alive and happy and whole, they settled in to tease Jean for his poor battle strategy with grin and giggles that made something in the vicinity of Levi’s chest ache horridly. Eren gave him one last smile that Levi spotted out of the corner of his eye before tucking his face back into his elbow and presumably drifting off again.
It would be another hour at least before the reports came in and he was getting too old for this bullshit anyway. Levi figured sitting at the table with his healthy, lively squad wasn’t the worst thing he could be doing with his time, so he settled back against the chair, let his shoulders slump a little more, and then let himself fall into the comfort of their idiocy.