Actions

Work Header

Der Vogel

Chapter Text

 

If you win, you live. If you lose, you die. If you don’t fight, you can’t win!”

Jerking upright in his bed, a young man clutched his head in his hands as if he were suffering from immeasurable agony. Breathing fast and shallow, he raked his fingers through his long, damp hair. His body covered in a cold, unpleasant sweat, the young man fought to control his rapid breathing and beating heart. It took several long minutes, or even hours, he didn’t know, until he had calmed down sufficiently enough. Even so, unimaginable macabre visions still flashed behind his clamped eyelids as he gripped his hair by the roots and twisted in an effort to ground himself.

 It didn’t work.

"Eren!” Cried a girl, her voice sounding both near and out of reach to him at the same time. It was strangely familiar and made his chest ache in a way that made him want to weep uncontrollably and yet, he couldn’t fathom why. He heard what sounded like dull pounding in the background as he heard someone repeatedly shouting his name in a seemingly endless loop. The pounding got louder as the cries got louder until he couldn’t bear it any longer. Jerking his head up, the young man hissed, “What the fuck do you want?!”

Eren! Open the door!” Called the worried voice of a man, probably sounding somewhat relieved now that he could hear the other man’s voice.

Gone was the girl’s voice, now replaced by the familiar voice of his cousin, Zeke.

“O-Okay…hold on,” croaked out the young man as he wiped away the long hair clinging to his sweaty face. Stepping out of the bed, his bare feet hit the cold floor, startling him somewhat. His left leg buckled a bit, causing him to nearly stumble and fall. Grabbing onto the bed, which was a bunk bed, he clung to it for support. Searching his slightly messy room, he spotted a potentially clean t-shirt draped over a chair and limped over to snatch it. Throwing it on over his head, he made his way reluctantly towards the door. He wanted to be alone right now. The young man really didn’t want to open the door, but…

“Are you okay, Eren? I heard you screaming. It sounded…like you were…were dying,” quietly admitted Zeke as he placed a hand on each of Eren’s slightly trembling shoulders. Kind, bright blue eyes gazed down at the younger man as he regarded him with genuine concern that Eren sometimes felt that he didn’t deserve. Why he felt that, he didn’t know.

Holding the door open with one arm, yet still blocking the other man from entering his bedroom, Eren stared wordlessly at the floor. His nightmares, so vivid and real, happened nearly every single night now. He felt it was pointless to talk about something he didn’t even understand nor could clearly remember. What was the point? Besides, Zeke had his own problems to deal with. Eren didn’t wish to bother him or the rest of his family about this issue. It was bad enough that they were burdened with him in the first place.

Already knowing Eren’s answer, the blond man sighed, “Do you want to talk about it?”

Eren shook his head slowly, eyes still glued to the ground. “No. Go back to bed, Zeke. I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

Zeke sighed. “I wish you wouldn’t lock the door, Eren.”

The green-eyed man said nothing while he kept his eyes glued to the floor. They both knew that Zeke had a key to Eren’s bedroom and if he really wanted to open the door, there was nothing stopping him from doing so. No, what Zeke was referring to wasn’t an actual physical door of any kind.

“My door is always open, Eren, should you need it,” offered the blond man after a long silence had passed between them.

“Yeah…yeah, I’ll keep that in mind. Good night,” dismissed the younger man as he made to turn away.

“Oh…all right. If you need me, I’ll be in the next room, okay?” Softly spoke Zeke as he squeezed his cousin’s shoulders before letting go. He fixed the younger male with a sympathetic look before he turned and walked away.

Slowly shutting the door, Eren was about to close it completely when he heard the unmistakable voice of his other cousin, Floch. Keeping the door open a crack, Eren leaned against the wall and listened to the pair of voices. Though they spoke in hushed whispers, the green-eyed man was still able to make out most of what they were discussing.

“…he belongs in a nut house, Zeke. How much longer are we going to put up with this? Y’know, my leave is almost over. The brass isn’t going to extend it again, not even for him. And they adore the hell out of ‘Eren Jäger Vogel’.”

There was a long pause. “I’m not abandoning him, Floch. He needs his family, and we are his family. You can do whatever it is you need to do, but I’m staying here with him.”

A long-defeated sigh passed from the other man’s lips. “Look, I care about him, too. But even you have to admit…this isn’t working. Eren needs help.”

This time a sigh from Zeke. “I’ll…I’ll contact the VA in the morning, but…he won’t like this, Floch. He’ll fight it.”

“What choice do we really have here?” Snorted Floch and though Eren couldn’t see him, he could easily picture him standing there with his arms crossed, hips tilted to the side, and face twisted in that arrogant sneer he often wore.

Another long pause.

“Y’know…it’s a damn shame. Eren really has a lot of potential. Just when he was starting to really shine in the military, this happens…”

“It’s not his fault, Floch.”

Having had enough of eavesdropping, Eren pushed away from the wall to go sit down in a chair near his window. Staring outside into the night sky, where the stars were barely visible because of all the light pollution, he silently mulled over their conversation.

Despite Zeke’s kind, understanding words, Eren couldn’t help feeling like it was his own fault. Why he felt that, he still didn’t know. Sometimes he was just tempted to give up and stop being a burden to his family and friends. They didn’t need this…

“Endure it. Don’t let go.”

Eren’s eyes widened when he heard a soft-spoken voice speaking directly into his ear. Whipping his head around, he saw no one. Bunching up the material of his sleep pants in his hands, he sighed deeply as he hung his weary head. Something about that soft spoken voice…oddly brought him more comfort than his own blood family had ever been capable of. It was familiar, too. Just like that girl’s voice…

Endure it. Don’t let go.

The green-eyed man released his pants before he smoothed them out. Staring thoughtfully out into the night, he pondered those five cryptic words as he rubbed at his left leg.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“…this is unnecessary, Zeke. My leg is getting better, even you said so yourself,” muttered Eren, who was presently slouched in the front passenger seat of Zeke’s car like a petulant teenager. Arms crossed, he glared out the window as his cousin started the automobile. He unwrapped one arm just long enough to pat the knee brace he was currently wearing underneath his baggy pants. “See? I’m even wearing this stupid ugly thing you told me to wear, doctor.”

“Your leg is not the issue here, Eren. You’re doing exceedingly well with your physical therapy, but…there are…other concerns,” Zeke worded carefully as he backed the car out of the driveway.

Eren glanced back at the house and noticed his other cousin, Floch, standing in the window holding a mug and watching them, well, more like, watching Eren. Something about the way that he was watching the green-eyed man made him feel uncomfortable. Instead of dwelling on the feeling, Eren decided that Floch had such a very punchable face. The older they got, the more often Eren felt tempted to punch Floch’s smug face in. Too bad he was too old not to know any better. He turned his head and looked at Zeke instead. “Like that I’m crazy?”

A little too quickly for Eren’s liking, the blond retorted, “You’re not crazy, Eren.”

The brown-haired man didn’t bother to point out that he’d heard his cousins talking behind his back countless times about his mental health. Zeke seemed to think Eren could be helped whereas Floch seemed to feel like his youngest cousin was a lost cause. Just like his parents thought, too. The only one that seemed to be in his corner was Zeke, but he didn’t understand Eren and sometimes…he just pissed him off too much. Zeke cared, Eren knew this without a doubt. All the man was trying to do was help him and he did appreciate it, but…it just wasn’t enough. Eren needed more. He needed something else, but he didn’t know what that was just yet.

The rest of the ride was done in relative silence, which was just fine by the twenty-one-year-old man.

It sure did beat hearing those screams.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter Text

 

“Do you need me to wait here with you?” Zeke asked while he adjusted his glasses.

Eren shook his head. “No. I’ll be fine.”

The blond man stared Eren down as if he believed the younger man was going to bolt out of the clinic the moment Zeke left. “Eren…”

“I will stay and see this psychiatrist, Zeke. You have my word,” promised Eren before he opened the car door and gingerly climbed out. Once his shoes hit the pavement and he was staring ahead at the clinic, seeing people entering and leaving, Eren suddenly felt a surreal wave of anxiety wash over him. This would be the first time in six months that he’d be around other people that weren’t his blood family. Although a part of him wanted to desperately climb back in the car, another part of him longed for some type of human interaction, even if it was with a healthcare professional.

As the younger man shut the car door, Zeke called out, “Oh, all right. I’ll be back in two hours, Eren. You better be here...”

Knowing Zeke wouldn’t drive away until he was safely inside the building, Eren took his time walking to the entrance. His leg was feeling better today, and the brace did help to keep him from buckling, but there was still a slight limp to his walk. Most people would not notice it, but there was always one or two observant people that would cast him some unwanted look of pity.

Fuck that, fuck them. Eren didn’t need that shit. It was bad enough his cousins coddled him so much as it were. He knew it came from a place of genuine concern, but it still pissed him off since he wasn’t a kid anymore.

Once inside the waiting room, Eren peered around to gauge the waiting room. By the looks of the crowed room, he figured that he might be waiting a while longer than Zeke had believed. Eren knew by now how the VA worked here. It was always packed and even appointment times were rarely accurate. Still, it was better to be early than risk missing an appointment. The only reason Eren had gotten an appointment so quickly had been because Zeke had pulled some strings and well, the Paradis military wanted him back fully functional.

Everyone in the room was mostly spread out, except for people that were family or friends. The only thing that stuck out to Eren was how a good chunk of the room was nearly vacant. One dark-haired man sat there, by himself, as if he were death himself that people sought to avoid. Finding it curious, but irrelevant to his situation, Eren began his walk to the front desk. As he walked, he glanced over at the lone man to find steel-colored eyes staring right back at him like blades. Had Eren not hastily ripped his eyes away, he probably would have noticed how those steel eyes had widened.

 Standing with his hands on the counter, Eren spoke with the receptionist as patiently as he could even though inside, he felt all but patient since now he felt unbelievably restless. Once she was finished with him, he turned around and debated where he was going to sit even though he felt like pacing back and forth. Glancing back at the sole man, he discovered that he was no longer staring at Eren. If anything, the man looked bored and constipated at the same time. Like Eren, he looked like he didn’t even want to be here.

As if his long legs had a mind of their own, Eren found himself walking in the direction of the solitary man.  Eren was sorely tempted to sit right beside that man because he knew that would bother the hell out of him. Most people didn’t like strangers plopping down so close right beside them. He was so incredibly tempted to do it but figured it might start a fight. If he fought someone else, Zeke would probably lock him in his room for another week, or a month…

Oh, fuck it. He was going to do it.

Eren seated himself right beside the raven-haired man as if sitting beside each other like this was a regular habit of theirs.

Oi, there are other seats, brat,” pointed out the other man without even sparing Eren a glance, his voice low and controlled as he spoke.

Something about that voice was strangely familiar to Eren and he couldn’t fathom why. All he knew was that something about it made him shiver, which he hoped didn’t show. Eren crossed his arms and leaned back in the chair, showing that he was comfortable right where he was despite him feeling nervous. “So, there are. You are welcome to move if my presence offends you.”

Tch. I didn’t say it did,” muttered the dark-haired man as he continued to stare down at his smart phone while scrolling through whatever it was that he was looking at.

Any other time, Eren would have been put off by this rude man, but for some odd reason, he didn’t feel the least bit slighted. Shrugging, he said, “All right then.”

Ten minutes of silence passed before the dark-haired man broke it. He had probably felt the stare that Eren had been directing at him since Eren knew he wasn’t exactly being subtle here. Putting his phone down, the man sighed, “What’s your name, brat?”

“Eren. And I’m an adult.”

At hearing the name, the black-haired man turned his head to fully look at Eren. The man suddenly stilled as if death himself were sitting beside him staring right back at him. Despite his strange reaction to the younger male, he recovered quickly enough. The shock seemed to dissipate swiftly, leaving behind a lingering emotion. An emotion Eren couldn’t seem to decipher just yet. “How old are you, Eren?”

“Twenty-one.”

“Compared to me, you are a fetus, so therefore…you are a brat,” explained the steel-eyed man as if this were common knowledge that Eren should know.

“How old are you then?” Asked the green-eyed man while the other pulled out his phone and began to quickly type something. Although Eren hadn’t respected the older man’s space by sitting down right beside him, he respected his privacy enough to not bother trying to peek at his phone. Besides, nothing on that phone was probably even half as interesting as this cranky man’s appearance.

The older man snorted, “I’m old enough to be your father, brat.”

“You don’t look that old,” commented Eren as he studied the long scar that marred the right side of the older man’s pale face. The impulse to reach over and trace the scar with his fingers struck him then; however, he squashed it down like he did everything else. Not only would doing such a thing to a stranger be marked as creepy behavior, but it was also something Eren wouldn’t appreciate someone else doing to him without asking. Shaking such thoughts away, he focused back on the older man’s pale face. He noticed that the man’s right eye was silvery white and probably blind due to the damage it had received from such a traumatic injury. Why he hadn’t noticed this before, Eren didn’t know. The scar…kind of looked cool, Eren thought to himself. It definitely looked better than the scar on his own leg. Not even aware he was doing it, the younger man rubbed at his left leg out of habit.

The raven-haired man noticed. “Does it hurt?”

“What?” Eren blinked in confusion.

“Your leg, brat.”

“Oh…” Eren stopped rubbing at his leg to ball his hand into a loose fist. “Well…sometimes.”

“I have something if you need it.”

His eyebrows seemed to touch his hairline as Eren tilted his head while he gawked at the other man. “Isn’t that illegal?”

Tch. Only if you turn me in, brat.”

The green-eyed man nearly smiled at that even though he wasn’t sure if the older man was being serious or not. “I’m fine, really. Thanks, though.”

Another stretch of silence passed between them until it was Eren that decided to break it this time. As comfortable as he was with silence, and often went days without talking to anyone, he suddenly discovered the need to talk. Whether it was due to being isolated for so long, or the fact that he found this man fascinating, Eren didn’t know. Perhaps it was both.

“So, what’s my drug dealer’s name?” Inquired Eren once he realized that the other man had not properly introduced himself yet.

“Levi.”

That name was familiar to Eren and he didn’t know why. Even this man’s face, and his voice, was eerily familiar and Eren couldn’t quite place why that was. “Levi? I’ve heard that name before...”

“Of course, you have. It’s in the history books…and has been in the paper a few times.”

“Levi…as in The Levi Ackerman? Are you named after that Levi?”

The raven-haired man shrugged as he shot Eren an exasperated look that made the younger male crack a smile. “Please tell me you’re not a fanboy of his...”

“No, I just…I heard he was a great man. He was dubbed Humanity’s Strongest, or so it is said. Even…The Liberator greatly respected him.”

“Don’t believe everything you read, brat. History is written by the victors,” advised Levi while he slipped his phone back into his pocket even though it was vibrating. Whoever was calling, he didn’t seem that interested in talking to at the moment. His scarred face was curiously blank again.

“Yeah, I know. Still makes me wonder, though. Guess I’ll never know.”

Levi’s eyes appeared faraway, glazed over as if he were trapped in an unpleasant memory. What Eren didn’t expect was him asking, “Are you named after the Liberator of Paradis?”

Eren cast his gaze to the floor as he often did whenever anyone mentioned that genocidal maniac. Any mentions of Eren Jäger, the man that had mass murdered people, always made him feel on edge somehow. Despite being born in Paradis, and raised by Jägerist parents, Eren felt greatly unsettled by it all. Most of Paradis was proud of Eren Jäger and hailed him a hero for protecting Paradis from the rest of the world. He’d ultimately been dubbed The Great Liberator of Paradis and had been branded with the title ever since. As for Eren himself, he felt immense personal shame that verged on guilt even though he wasn’t the mass murderer himself. His parents had given him the entire name, surname included, out of pride. He should have felt proud, too, and honored by it, but…he just didn’t. Not even as a kid had he felt any semblance of pride. Something…had always stopped him from feeling the same thing others felt about The Liberator.

“Everyone here is named after him,” replied the green-eyed man with a shrug. It was true. For the past three hundred years or so, Eldian parents in Paradis started naming their boys Eren. But unlike most of them, Eren was also given the middle name Jäger.

Eren Jäger Vogel.

Levi nodded absently as he stared at nothing in particular. “I’ve come across several of them here in Paradis. There’s some in New Eldia, too, but not as many as here.”

Eren perked up at that. Leaning closer without realizing it, he eagerly inquired, “Is that where you’re from? New Eldia?”

“I was born here, but have lived all over the world,” revealed Levi, speaking a bit more slowly as if carefully choosing his words. “I have dual citizenship here and in New Eldia.”

Remembering where they currently where, the younger man then reached the conclusion that Levi was in the military. If it had been Paradis’ military, Eren surely would have noticed him at some point, right? If he wasn’t a Jägerist, then that meant…

“You serve or served in the New Eldian military. If that is true, then why are you here in Paradis?” Curiously asked Eren. Although he couldn’t confess to knowing the inner workings of either military, he still found it odd that Levi would choose Paradis’ VA over the one in New Eldia. He wasn’t even sure if such a thing was even allowed.

“I know the psychiatrist here. Shitty Glasses is the best despite her being insane,” admitted the steel-eyed man in a voice that wasn’t particularly enthusiastic.

“I see…”

“Eren Jäger!” Called the shrill, yet excited voice of a woman. Near the door to the reception desk stood a tall, slim woman with brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. She seemed to bounce where she stood as she stared at Eren eagerly through her glasses. The woman seemed oblivious to the people gawking at her and Eren and she didn’t seem aware (and if she was, she didn’t care) that the young man was embarrassed by her eccentric behavior.

When Eren didn’t move in his seat, Levi drawled, “I think she means you, brat.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so,” clipped the green-eyed male with a short shake of his head. He stared everywhere but at the obviously crazy woman. He wondered if she was an escaped mental patient trying to masquerade as a doctor.

“I told you she was crazy, but you’ll be fine. Just go with her, Eren,” assured Levi as he rubbed at his temples.

It didn’t slip Eren’s notice that this was the first time Levi had called him by his actual name. It didn’t feel like a stranger was speaking his name for some reason. It felt…nice. Like an old friend. Noticing the older man’s discomfort, he asked, “Are you…okay?”

Tch, just a headache, brat. Don’t worry about it,” muttered the older man.

“Is there an Eren Jäger present? If so, please step forward! It’s time for your appointment, Errrreeeeen!” Called the woman while she continued to eagerly bounce on the balls of her feet.

Sighing, Eren slowly rose reluctantly from his seat. “I think you mean Eren Vogel. If so, I am present.”

The crazy woman looked down at her clipboard and shook her head. “Hm, no…it clearly says Eren Jäger on here…oh! I see now. My thumb was covering your surname. How silly of me! All right, come with me, Eren Jäger Vogel!”

“Your middle name is actually fucking Jäger?” Asked an incredulously sounding Levi looking as if someone had just smacked him across his beautiful face.

Eren winced. “Unfortunately, yeah. Um…my parents…uh, respected him a lot, I guess.”

An unreadable, almost pained look crossed Levi’s visage. “Your parents…aren’t the only ones.”

Before Eren could question Levi about his peculiar admission, the woman called out again, interrupting his thoughts. “Errrreeeeen! Time is a tickin’! I got other poor, wounded puppies after you to heal!”

The raven-haired man leaned back in his seat, crossed his arms, and coolly glared at the woman. “Heal what? You should be employed as a faith healer, Shitty Glasses.”

“Quiet, you!” Scolded the woman before she turned and in two or three great steps snagged Eren by the upper arm. Nearly dragging him, she cackled. “Don’t worry, Eren, you’re in good hands! Ignore grumpy over there. He just hates it when I spirit away the good-looking ones…”

Levi sighed. “Fucking Hanji…”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter Text

“I am Dr. Haus, but you may call me Hanji! I prefer to be on a first name basis with my patients,” introduced the woman as she led Eren to a comfortable looking couch in her dimly lit office. Once he was seated, she made her way over to the adjacent chair to sit. The strange woman sat on the very edge of her chair, nearly off the seat as she regarded Eren with barely restrained glee. Eren couldn’t remember ever meeting anyone this excited, or even half this excited, to meet him. He wasn’t anyone special, so why the fuss?

Eren said nothing as he sat there taking his surroundings while the bespectacled woman looked over what looked like a file. Déjà vu washed over him as he sat there with her and he didn’t know why. He’d never seen this woman before in his life. And yet…like with Levi, something about her was eerily familiar. But unlike with Levi, Eren wasn’t too sure he liked the wild-eyed look this woman was currently giving him. It was like she knew something he didn’t know, something that pertained to him, and it unsettled him.

“…it says here that you suffer from Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder and Femoral Neuropathy due to an injury to your leg. How is your leg feeling?” Hanji asked as she flipped through the file as if it were the most captivating book ever.

He shrugged. “…fine.”

Hanji glanced up from the file to study the young man as if he were under her microscope. “It’s noted here that you’re suffering from nightmares and panic attacks, most likely due to your PTSD. That’s quite normal, Eren. Taking medication, exercising, and talking about it will help. That’s why we’re here today, to help you work through it.”

The brown-haired man said nothing.

“A…Dr. Vogel seems to think that you are a danger to yourself. Do you agree with that assertion, Eren?”

The green-eyed man shook his head even though he did recall having graphic dreams of dying. Whether he was murdered in his dreams, or committing suicide, he just didn’t know. Despite these nightmares of his, he honestly didn’t want to die. As many problems as he had right now, he wasn’t near that point yet. “I don’t want to kill myself, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Do you self-harm, Eren?”

At her question, the image of human teeth sinking brutally down into a hand flashed in his mind. It was so vivid in his brain that he swore that he even felt it, too. As if thinking about it breathed life into the notion, he suddenly felt the sharp, intense pain and blood trickling from the wound. Looking down at his left hand, he saw nothing to indicate any kind of injury. Rubbing at his hand, he tried to alleviate the strange pain from what felt like an invisible wound. It was in his head, he knew that, but…

This didn’t seem to escape the psychiatrist’s notice. “Is something wrong with your hand, Eren?”

Not knowing how to explain such a pain, he rolled his left hand around as he lied, “I think…I used it too much.”

“I was under the impression that you were right-handed…” Hanji began as she rubbed at her chin thoughtfully.

Eren said nothing.

“So, if you are right-handed, then why would your left hand be bothering you? You claim that you used it too much. Most people experience pain in their dominant hand…unless…you were looking at porn!”

The green-eyed man nearly choked on his own spit. Even though her analysis was wrong, a deep flush stained his tanned skin. Even if he had devices available to use to look at porn, he still wouldn’t do it. Watching porn just wasn’t his thing and seemed to lack the very thing he needed. He preferred…the real thing and if that wasn’t available, his memory worked just fine.

“It’s okay, Eren. It’s perfectly natural for a young man, or even a young woman, to need visual stimulation to reach sexual climax—”

“—I wasn’t looking at porn!” Objected an exasperated Eren as he raked his hands through his long, slightly tangled hair.

“Hm, I see. We’ll come back to that, I suppose,” dismissed the psychiatrist as she scribbled something down in her notepad. “Now then, this may be a touchy subject, but I feel compelled to ask again. Do you self-harm yourself in any way?”

Eren met her gaze firmly even as he saw images of himself biting down or cutting his own hand. “No. No, I do not hurt myself.”

The bespectacled woman jotted down a few more notes before she focused her undivided attention back on the young man. Despite her earlier craziness, she stared at him with a serious expression that seemed out of character for her even though he didn’t know her. Then again, thinking on it, he did know that some people used humor and silliness as a front to fool people. A lot of times, such people were suffering from immeasurable pain. He couldn’t help wondering if Hanji was one of these people. Ditz or not, Eren had this distinct impression that she was hiding something from him.

“Eren, I know you said you do not entertain thoughts of suicide or self-harm, but…I feel like I should extend my hand to you. If you start thinking these kinds of thoughts, feel free to reach out to me at any time. I will provide you with my personal number when our session ends. Call me…anytime, day or night. I mean it, too. I don’t sleep much.”

Eren was stupefied by the psychiatrist’s generous offer. Was this something she did for all her patients? He knew some doctors had pagers, work phones, and personal phones. Why would she offer him her personal number when she didn’t even know him? It was strange and kind of fishy if you asked him.

“I don’t have a phone anymore,” responded Eren quietly. Even if he had access to his old phone, he probably would have politely declined her offer, anyway.

“I see,” murmured Hanji, eyes looking faraway for a moment before they snapped to full alertness again. She reached into her vest pocket and pulled out what looked like a business card. Standing up, she walked the short distance to hand Eren the card. “The offer still stands, should you change your mind. Just hold onto it, okay?”

Glancing down at the card in his hand, Eren nodded slowly before he slipped the card into one of his pockets.

Sitting back down in her chair, Hanji picked the file and her notepad back up. Crossing her long, slim legs, she began, “I know I began this session asking you questions, Eren. They are standard questions, of course. I want you to know that anything said in our sessions is confidential and will not be recorded… unless I have your express permission, of course. You can speak your mind, say whatever you like and you won’t be judged. I’m only here to help you work your issues out, however long that may take. There is no rush, no deadline, so don’t feel like you have to fix yourself in one day.”

Eren stared at the psychiatrist unblinkingly. “What issues?”

“Just to name a few things, Dr. Vogel claims that you suffer from nightmares, night terrors, insomnia, and loss of appetite. It is also noted here that after the accident, you had temporary amnesia and suffered a major injury to your leg that resulted in femoral neurotherapy. You underwent six months of physical therapy, yet you still feel acute pain. Dr. Vogel believes the pain is in your head, which is likely a result of your PTSD. From what I have witnessed, I will have to agree with him on that one.”

“What do you mean, from what you’ve witnessed?” Asked Eren with a small frown.

The psychiatrist smiled knowingly even though it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “I saw you enter the building, Eren. You had a bit of a limp at first, yes, but it went away. You walked into my office normally with no sign of a limp and no otherwise indication of pain.”

The green-eyed man was taken aback by that. He couldn’t remember feeling pain or not when walking into this room. Why would that be? Sure, sometimes the pain came and go, but whenever he walked, he always felt it. Always. So…why, of all times, had it vanished now?

“So, what you’re saying…is it’s all in my head, then?”

Hanji nodded. “Yes, but that’s a good thing, Eren.”

Eren straightened up and couldn’t help feeling anger trickling up his spine. “What? Since when is being crazy a good thing?”

Hanji shook her head slowly. “I don’t like that word, Eren. I mean, yeah, my best friend calls me crazy, but he doesn’t actually mean it. You’re not crazy, Eren. A lot of people are ignorant when it comes to mental health, even in this current day and age. The human brain really is such a fascinating thing that we know extraordinarily little about…I wonder if we’ll ever discover its full potential…”

“If I’m not crazy, then what am I?” Asked Eren while he watched Hanji nearly drooling from her own thoughts.

“That’s why I’m here, Eren. To help you work it out. I want you to understand that many people undergo traumatic events and come out having issues. Especially policemen, doctors, and even soldiers, just like you. It doesn’t make you weak or unfit. Your brain is like the rest of your body, Eren. It just needs time to heal, is all. It may take days, it may take weeks, months, or even years, but don’t give up hope. We’re here to help you, in any way we can. You are not alone.”

Eren had this distinct feeling that there was more that the psychiatrist wasn’t telling him. Leaning forward, his legs spread and his elbows resting on his knees, Eren inquired, “What else does my cousin say?”

”Eren—”

“—I want to know. So, tell me now, or I’m walking out and never coming back,” threatened the green-eyed man. For whatever reason, this woman was interested in him and he would use that to his advantage to at least get a few answers. He didn’t like resorting to blackmail, but he was tired of being left in the dark while being treated like glass.

The psychiatrist regarded him silently for several long moments before she exhaled deeply. “Very well. Your brother…Dr. Vogel, suspects that you suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder. It’s when—”

“—I know what it is.” Interrupted Eren as he looked down at the ground, his lengthy hair slipping down over his shoulders like cascading water. “I took a psychology course in school and remember some things about it. I remember they said that the dissociative part is believed to be a coping mechanism, of sorts. The person afflicted with it…literally shuts down or dissociates themselves from an experience that's too painful or traumatic to deal with in their conscious state.”

Was that what Eren was doing all this time? He didn’t know. The young man hoped not because…it was just too jarring a thought. The idea of it was just, ugh. He wasn’t sure how to feel about Zeke talking about all of this stuff behind his back. Yeah, the guy was a doctor, sure, but why had he never spoken to Eren about any of it?

“That’s correct, more or less,” Hanji confirmed as she tapped her pen against her notepad. “However, I do not agree with Dr. Vogel’s theory. I suspect he just wants to get you prescribed some drugs to ‘keep you tame’. In other words, it seems to me that he wants to keep you in a sedated state so that you’re easier to deal with. I do not like to prescribe drugs to my patients unless it is absolutely necessary. There’s just not enough information present to support his theory, Eren. I didn’t want to mention it because I didn’t want you to…”

“To have a placebo effect, right? You don’t want me to trick myself into believing that disorder was my affliction,” finished Eren.

At that, Hanji smiled at him and something about the smile seemed fond. “Smart boy. Yes, that is correct. I just want you to focus on the things you feel, and that’s all. Try not to label anything, all right?”

“I’ll try,” promised Eren with a small nod.

“Very good,” said the psychiatrist, her toning implying that she was about to switch topics. Her eyes glinted behind her glasses, hinting that she was incredibly interested in what she was about to ask next. “Now, I couldn’t help but notice that you were talking to Levi Andersen in the waiting room. May I ask what your relationship is with him?”

“Only if you tell me first what your relationship is with him,” replied Eren coolly as he crossed his arms and tilted his head to the side.

“A friend and a patient. I’ve known him a long time. He’s a little rough around the edges, abrasive in nature, and a lot of people are intimidated by him.”

“Really? He seemed pretty amicable to me. Maybe people just judge him by his demeanor without giving him a real chance,” supplied Eren thoughtfully.

“Interesting. So…what’s the tea, Eren? Spill it.”

The green-eyed man shrugged. “I don’t know him. I just…saw him and…felt compelled to sit down next to him. I was curious why everyone in the room seemed to be avoiding him like he was some deadly plague.”

“Ah, yes…he has that effect on most people. You’re the first person in ages that’s had the courage to approach him first. And…”

“And what?”

The psychiatrist tapped her pen against her chin a few times. “I’ve never seen him talk to anyone as much as he’s talked to you. I wonder why that is?”

Eren shrugged again. “Why don’t you ask him yourself?”

Oho, I intend to!” Exclaimed a gleeful Hanji, a sly grin etched onto her face.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Later, as Eren reflected on his session with Hanji, he remembered what had struck him as odd. Several times, Hanji had said ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. Perhaps she just referring to his brother, or the other doctors there. In some instances, the “we” could have implied Hanji and Eren, together, but at other times, it felt…off. Like she was including someone that wasn’t even in the room with them. Hn. He was probably just overthinking this. It probably meant nothing at all…

The long-haired man suddenly stopped in his tracks as if lightning had suddenly struck him.

Brother. Hanji had referred to Zeke as his brother when previously he’d stated that Zeke was his cousin. Why would she make a slip like that? It made no sense. Sure, some people tended to assume they were brothers, especially with how overprotective and doting Zeke could be to him. So why—

“—Oi, brat! Get your head out of your ass and come here,” snapped a familiar low, irritated voice.

Rudely knocked out of his musings, Eren then noticed the raven-haired man. As if pulled by a rope, the green-eyed man found himself striding over to the older man. If any other person had ordered him about like that, with exception to his military superiors, Eren wouldn’t have moved a muscle. But something about this Levi…made him feel obligated to obey. Why that was, he didn’t know.

As soon as Eren was within proximity, Levi immediately circled around him, his sharp, steel eyes scrutinizing the other man’s body. “Did Shitty Glasses stick you with anything?”

“Er, no…” Mumbled Eren, too distracted by Levi’s sharp gaze and proximity to question said man about why he thought Hanji might stick Eren with anything. Before, they had been sitting, but now they were both standing and Eren was pleasantly surprised to notice that the older man was around his own height. Eren didn't know why, but he'd expected Levi to be shorter, much shorter. Why that was, he didn't know. Even when he was seated, Levi didn't look short and was much more fit than Eren himself. So why had he thought otherwise?

“Did she give you any medications?”

“No.”

Levi seemed satisfied at that. “Good.”

“Didn’t you try to give me drugs earlier?” Inquired Eren even though he had a feeling the older man wouldn’t appreciate being sassed. The other man probably didn’t appreciate the little grin on Eren’s face, either.

Levi looked like he wanted to backhand Eren’s cheeky face. “Shut up, brat, that was different.”

Once he realized that Levi was still hanging around the waiting room, and had been there since before Eren’s arrival, he asked, “Are you still waiting for your appointment?”

The steel-eyed man shook his head. “No, I already saw the whack job. She gave me my headache…”

“Then why are you still here?” Questioned Eren even though he wasn’t exactly displeased at the idea of Levi still being around to talk to.

“Waiting on my sister. She has the car, brat.”

Ah. That made sense. It looked like they were both in a similar predicament, so to speak.

“Do…do you need a ride? I’m sure my cousin wouldn’t mind,” offered Eren once he noticed his cousin's car driving slowly by the doors.

Levi’s head tilted to the side as he regarded Eren, his face frustratingly guarded. “Thank you for the offer, but she’s on the way, Eren.”

“Oh. Well…my cousin is here, so I better go,” said Eren, feeling awkward standing there now for some reason. It was awkward because he didn’t want to go just yet even though his cousin was waiting outside for him and well, he didn’t want Levi to think he was weird. Why he cared about what this man thought about him, he didn’t know. All he knew was that something here was significant.

As if sensing Eren’s dilemma, Levi sighed, “What’s your phone number, brat?”

Eren scratched the back of his head absently. “I, uh, well…I don’t have my phone right now.”

“Where is it?”

“My cousin has it. He doesn’t let me use it,” muttered the green-eyed man who was obviously not proud of the fact. It was one of the things he was sore about, especially considering he wasn’t even allowed to see his own friends, either. Being here today, meeting Levi and Hanji, helped him realize that he felt trapped, trapped in what felt like a walled in prison of a house. Eren couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without his cousins’ express consent. It was beyond infuriating.

Levi stared at Eren as if he were covered head to toe in shit stains. “What do you mean he doesn’t let you have your phone? You’re a fucking adult, Eren.”

“As long as he thinks I’m…unstable, he won’t let me have my phone,” explained Eren sullenly. Hearing himself speak it sounded even more stupid to his own ears. Looking towards the doors, he stared at his cousin’s car waiting patiently for him to exit the building.

Following his gaze, Levi glared coolly at the younger man’s ride. “When is your next appointment with Shitty Glasses?”

“Tomorrow at four. Why?”

“Good. I’m here tomorrow, too,” answered Levi with a small nod. Despite his unreadable appearance, something about his body language seemed satisfied, or relieved, even.

Eren couldn’t help feeling elated at the prospect of spending more time with this eccentric, older man. After being isolated for so long, it was a breath of fresh air just to talk to another human being that wasn’t his blood relative. It wasn’t just that, though. He knew that he liked Levi and enjoyed talking to him, even if his words could be cutting at times. The man didn’t treat him like he was some fragile thing that was prone to breaking.  

“See you,” said the younger man as he began to walk away.

“Eren!” Called out Levi, his arm halfway stretched out as if he had originally intended to grab the other man.

Turning back towards Levi, the green-eyed man cocked his head to the side inquisitively. “Yeah?”

The older man looked like he wanted to say something, something important, as he stared at the other man. Whatever it was, he opted to dismiss it entirely. Dropping his arm, he drawled, “Nothing. Just…be careful, brat. Don’t be a dumb ass.”

Feeling a wave of déjà vu wash over him, the green-eyed man nearly smiled at the older man. Levi’s words felt like an order to him, which would normally irk him since he didn’t like being bossed around by anyone that wasn’t his direct superior. But because it was Levi, something about it felt strangely right. Nodding his head to Levi, he turned and exited the building feeling lighter than when he’d felt upon first entering it.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

During the ride back to the house, Eren said nothing. Sitting in the passenger seat, he stared outside at the passing buildings and scenery. He could feel his cousin’s eyes burning into him from time to time even though the man should be focusing more on the road and less on him. The blond obviously was burning with questions that he was trying to restrain himself from asking right away. His approach with Eren was how a person would approach a starving, stray dog. Slow and patient with soft tones and no quick movements lest he provoke or scare away Eren.

Although Zeke didn’t mean anything by it, it still pissed Eren off, nonetheless. It always made him feel like less of a man, like he was a thing to be possessed.

“So…how did it go?” The blond man finally asked after his patience had dwindled down to nothing. He briefly took one hand off the wheel to adjust his glasses. Even though the things pinched the bridge of his nose, he never attempted to get them adjusted. Nor did he opt for new glasses since apparently someone special had once gifted them to him.

The green-eyed man glanced at Zeke as he grudgingly admitted, “You were right. It helped.”

Zeke seemed surprised by this and it showed on his face and in his voice. “It did?

“Yeah. I have another appointment, tomorrow at four,” said Eren, not really wanting to elaborate on the subject. Thanks to Hanji, he now knew some of the things that his cousin was keeping from him. Even if it was done with good intentions on Zeke’s part, it still hurt and angered Eren. He had what felt like a million questions buzzing around in his head but decided to keep them to himself for now. Knowing himself, he knew if he started questioning the older man, he would end up blowing up on him and starting a fight that neither of them wanted.

“I’ll be happy to take you.”

Eren sighed, “You know…I can drive myself, Zeke. I do have a license.”

Zeke shook his head, his posture now rigid and hands clenching tight onto the wheel. “We’ll discuss that later. For now, just know that I’ll be driving you to all your appointments. I don’t mind, really.”

The younger male knew that they wouldn’t discuss it later. It would just get swept under the rug and avoided by Zeke, as usual.

As they drove into their neighborhood, Zeke smiled a little. “I was going to wait until we got home, but I think I’ll tell you now.”

“Tell me what?”

“I’ve invited your friends over for dinner and if you feel up to it, they can spend the night, too,” revealed the blond man, trying to hide his smile.

It had been several months since Eren had last seen his friends, let alone anyone from his squad. Six long ass months of pain and isolation. Six long ass months that felt more like decades had passed him by. At first, he’d ask every day if he could at least call them but had been denied this request every single damn time. He wasn’t ready, his cousins had both adamantly claimed. They acted as if seeing his own friends would hinder him from the healing process. After a while, he had stopped asking altogether and had holed himself in his room most days without speaking a word to his cousins.

Even though he had kept up with his physical therapy, it had been obvious to everyone involved that Eren’s mental state had been deteriorating. That was probably why Zeke had set him up with an appointment with Dr. Hanji Haus.

So why now, of all times, was Zeke allowing him a visit from his friends? Was this his way of rewarding Eren for doing what he wanted him to do? That’s what it seemed like to him.

Despite himself, Eren couldn’t help asking, “Why?”

“Why not? I think it’s long overdue, don’t you?” Countered the blond man as he carefully pulled the car into the driveway.

“Yeah, it is,” agreed Eren quietly. It took him a moment to spot two remarkably familiar figures hanging out in the yard. As soon as the car doors were unlocked, Eren opened the door and stepped outside slowly without a care to the chill in the air. Leaning against the car, his green eyes watered, tears threatening to spill while his throat felt chocked up from emotion. He couldn’t trust himself to speak right now since he’d probably make some pathetic, strangled noise like a wounded animal.

Crossing his arms, Eren leaned back and watched the young man and woman arguing on the lawn. The woman, who was a few inches shorter than the man, kept a large sandwich out of arms reach of the man.

 “Hey! C’mon, Sasha, why can’t you share?”

The woman called Sasha snorted. “I did share, Con. I gave you half.”

“A crumb isn’t half, dumb ass!” Spat the man in mild annoyance.

Sasha opened her mouth to speak when her eyes finally caught sight of Eren leaning against the car. “EREN! Connie, Eren’s back!”

“Oh shit, Eren’s back already!?” Exclaimed Connie, his irritation at his friend quickly forgotten. Before he could move, the woman pushed the shorter man to the ground as she made a mad dash for Eren. Sweeping his leg out in retribution, Connie tripped Sasha, causing her to trip and fall to the ground like the klutz she undoubtedly was.

Bracing herself for the fall with one hand, Sasha used the other to protect her sandwich, lest it fall and get spoiled.

Eren ducked his head, feeling twin trails of tears leaking from his eyes as he laughed low, his laughter only rising in pitch. Wiping away his tears, the long-haired man pushed off from the car to approach his two closest (and most hopeless friends) before they killed each other. Holding out a hand to each of his friends, he effortlessly heaved both Connie and Sasha from the ground. Before he could get a word out, they both latched onto him, their arms twining around him tightly as if afraid he’d disappear forever. Slipping an arm around each friend, Eren returned the tight embrace while he pretended not to notice the tears streaming down their faces.

Smelling them, seeing them, hearing them, and feeling them made the green-eyed man want to cry a river. It was too much, and yet, not quite enough. Closing his eyes, Eren held them even tighter as he murmured, “I missed you guys, too…”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter Text

Dinner had been an awkward experience, at least for Eren for different reasons. One of said reasons being that this was the first time he’d eaten something outside of his room in the presence of others. It had been a long time since he’d properly sat at any dinner table of any kind. Eren couldn’t even remember the last time he’d sat down to a meal with others.

His best friends flanked him at the table, seemingly oblivious to the incredulous stares that they were receiving from his cousins.  Connie chatted with Eren and Sasha while the ravenous woman stuffed her mouth like a starving beast. Sasha nearly choked on her food when she had stupidly attempted to engage Connie in conversation. Fortunately, Connie knew the Heimlich Maneuver and managed to save her from choking on a piece of meat. 

Some things just never changed and for once, Eren was glad for this.

The green-eyed man opted to mostly just listen to the conversation since it had been ages since he'd heard his friends' voices.  There was that and the fact that he didn't feel comfortable speaking around his cousins. He couldn't quite place it, but both Zeke and Floch appeared to be on edge for some odd reason. That was his other reason for the experience being uncomfortable.

Eren had the distinct impression that his cousins didn’t want his friends around. Their cold, aloof behavior was proof enough for him. Connie had even tried to engage both Zeke and Floch at times, to be polite, and had been rebuffed. It honestly pissed him off so much that he didn’t even eat a bite of food. Narrowing his eyes and clenching his fists under the table, Eren made a note to talk to them both later after his friends gone to bed.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“…do you have any snacks in here? I’m starving,” whined Sasha from her place sprawled on her back on Eren’s bed, her arms folded behind her head. One of her long, lean legs hung off the bed swinging idly back and forth. It reminded Eren of their childhood of just hanging out in his room like this when they weren’t busy running around outside.

Lying beside Sasha, facing away from her, Connie sighed, “We just ate, woman. If you keep this up, you’re going to get fat.”

Raising the leg closest to Connie, Sasha promptly planted her naked foot right in her friend’s face. Next, she lifted her other leg and shoved her other bare foot in Connie’s face. She giggled manically from her friend’s cries of disgust and outrage as she tortured him. She was laughing so much and so hard that her pretty face was turning red, tears were leaking from her eyes, and she was wheezing from the intensity of her laughter.

“Dammit, Sasha! Your feet fucking stink!” Complained Connie as he wildly shoved her feet away from his repulsed face. When that didn’t work, and she continued to assault his face with her feet, Connie jerked away, resulting in him rolling right off the bed and landing on the cold floor.

“You know, if you didn’t react so strongly to it…she wouldn’t keep doing it,” Eren pointed out, hiding his smile behind his hand. Sitting in his chair by the window, he watched them both with a fondness that made his chest ache. This was temporary. He knew they would leave in the morning.

Connie didn’t say anything; he merely groaned from his spot on the floor.

Several minutes passed until Sasha sobered up from her fun. “Seriously, though, Eren. Where’s the food?”

The golden-eyed man sat up before climbing back on the bed. Pushing the young woman by the shoulder, he pointed out, “Sash, if Eren has any food in here, he should be the one eating it. Look at him, he’s skin and bones… practically. Didn’t you notice that he didn’t eat anything at dinner?”

“Huh? Really? Why didn’t you say anything earlier then?” Asked Sasha before she directed her curious gaze to the green-eyed man.

Connie leaned against the headboard of the bed before he crossed his arms over his chest. “Because Eren’s creepy ass cousins were there, that’s why.”

“I’m sorry…that they acted that way,” sincerely apologized Eren. He definitely was going to have that talk with his cousins as soon as he could. Sasha and Connie could be idiots at times, but they weren’t actually stupid. And even if they were, he knew he’d still adore them.

“Hey, man, you don’t need to be sorry. They’re the assholes, not you,” said Connie with a firm nod. He then shrugged and added, “Besides, they’ve always been…kinda creepy. It’s just somehow worse now, for some reason. Especially that Floch guy. Ugh, I wanna punch his bitch face out sometimes. No offence, Eren.”

Being all too familiar with that feeling, Eren nodded. “None taken.”

Several minutes of relative silence passed before Connie decided to break it. Looking at Sasha before he looked at Eren, Connie stated, “Zeke acts like he’s your mother, which is weird and kinda unsettling, but that’s not what really bothers me. What bothers me is how the other one acts towards you.”

Eren straightened up in the chair. “What…what do you mean?”

“Floch looks at you like Sasha looks at meat.”

Sasha made a face. “He wants to eat Eren?”

“Eh, who knows?” Connie shrugged. “All I know is I don’t like it.”

The brown-haired girl tilted her head slightly to the side as she regarded her tallest friend. “Eren, are they…are they doing anything weird to you?”

Eren shook his head. “No, nothing like that.”

Connie punched his right fist into his open left hand a few times as a gesture that promised a beat down. “Good, because if they do anything weird to you, I’m beating their asses, cousins or not.”

“Me too!” Joined Sasha as she pumped her fist in the air.

Although he felt touched by their protectiveness, Eren thought it best to change the subject. Even if it were a subject that he knew would make the hole in his chest ache even more. “So…how is everyone doing? Did the Captain find a replacement yet?”

Connie and Sasha exchanged looks before looking at Eren in bafflement. The other man scratched the top of his buzz cut as he regarded the taller male. “Replacement? For whom?

“Me,” sighed Eren. He loved his friends, but even he could admit that sometimes that could be a bit on the daft side.

“Eren, we haven’t been on a single mission since…you know, that day,” started Connie before he looked down pointedly at Eren’s bad leg. Although it was clothed right now, both of his friends had seen just how horrendous the injury had been. “As for replacement? Are you kidding me, man? Until you get better, we’re all just doing PT and paperwork. That’s our orders.”

Eren’s face scrunched up at that bit of information because it made absolutely no sense to him. He couldn’t believe that his squad wasn’t being utilized at all while he recovered from his injuries. “I find it hard to believe they would halt everything just for me. Even if the Captain does want me back, a temporary replacement could still stand in. You guys…shouldn’t have to just sit around like that.”

Sasha smiled. “I don’t mind waiting for you, Eren.”

“I don’t know why those are our orders, but I don’t mind waiting for you, either. We know and trust you, Eren. And no matter what you think about yourself, you are a good soldier. No one works harder than you,” affirmed Connie, any hint of his usual jesting self long gone now.

“Thanks, but…there’s no guarantee I’ll ever be fit for duty again,” murmured Eren solemnly. He hated saying it out loud, especially to two people that counted on him, but he couldn’t lie. Not to them.

Connie abruptly slid off the bed and strode over to the taller man. Without warning, he smacked Eren upside the head. Not giving the shocked man time to recover, Connie spat, “That’s not the Eren we know and love! Our Eren doesn’t give up, doesn’t submit. Our Eren relentlessly pushes through the pain with such iron determination that gets him called crazy.”

Eren stared at his friend in shock for several long minutes before he dropped his head, his hair falling forward and curtaining his face. “Maybe I’m not that Eren anymore…”

“Bullshit. I saw you glaring hellfire at your cousins over dinner. That look in your eyes…for us, is the Eren we know. He’s still in there, inside of you. You just need to find him again,” spoke Connie as he laid a hand on his friend’s left shoulder and squeezed.

Sasha nodded in agreement as she, too, stood up to join Connie, though she didn’t hit Eren. Instead, she placed a hand on his other shoulder. “Even during the worst times, when we’re at our lowest, you’ve always given us hope. We’re alive today because of you, Eren.”

The green-eyed man lifted his head to look up at his best friends. As much as he liked the way they looked at him, he still felt that he didn’t deserve it. Shaking his head, Eren countered, “People died…I couldn’t save them. I failed. I’ll fail again.”

“Yeah, people died, and it really fucking sucks, but…that’s part of our profession, Eren. You can’t save everybody. You can strive to, but it’s just not realistic. Nobody is perfect. Not even that bad ass Captain Levi Andersen has a 100% success rate. He’s lost people, too, Eren.”

Eren would never admit it, but he felt his stomach flip like a fanboy at the mention of Levi’s name. Thinking about Levi losing people made him wonder if maybe, like Eren, he blamed himself, too. Being a Captain, he was responsible for his men, which made sense. Although Eren wasn’t a Captain, he still felt responsible nevertheless because they were a team that depended on one another. “Funny you should mention him. I met him today.”

Oooo!” Squealed Sasha in excitement. “What’s he like?”

“Sasha has a crush on him,” sighed Connie in annoyance as he shook his head.

“I do not! I just…like his scars. It’s really cool,” denied the young woman. Her chocolate brown eyes lit up suddenly before looking down at Eren’s bad leg. “What’s your scar look like, Eren? Can I see it? Please?”

Oh Ymir, Sasha’s gonna start simping for you, Eren.”

Everyone simps for Eren, though,” pointed out Sasha as if this were a scientifically proven fact. “That Annie girl is always looking at him when she thinks nobody is watching.”

Connie snorted. “I don’t.”

Eren didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry at the absurdity of this situation. It felt disorientating to feel elated, then feel dejected, and now feel elated again. It was like there was two of him inside his body fighting each other in a battle for supremacy. The only thing he knew for certain was that he did want his old self to win the war.

“So, you going to show us or not?” Inquired the eager Sasha, completely unaware of Eren’s inner turmoil.

“No offence, Eren, but keep your pants on. I love you, just not in that way,” said Connie as he held his hands up.

“When I come back, you’ll see it soon enough in the locker-room,” promised Eren as he absently rubbed at his leg. Although it didn’t hurt presently, he still felt a little discomfort.  Through the fabric, he could feel the long, jagged scar. It wasn’t pretty to his eyes and he wasn’t particularly in the mood to show anyone else, not even his closest friends. It served as a constant reminder that he had failed.

Sasha pouted. “The men and women have separate locker-rooms, though…”

As if sensing Eren’s discomfort, Connie quickly held out a beef jerky stick to distract the persistent woman. As soon as her eyes spotted the long piece of plastic covered meat, all thoughts of Eren and his scars left her brain. Snatching the stick, she quickly unwrapped it and began biting into the mildly spicy meat.

“Thanks,” murmured Eren while he tucked some hair behind his ears.

“No problem, man. It’s bad enough she’s got a food fetish, but a scar one, too? At least she’s not into feet like that one guy on our squad, ugh,” spoke Connie in a low voice to the other male.

Even though it was silly and didn’t matter, it still piqued Eren’s interest. “What guy?”

“The weird tall one.”

“Bertholdt Hoover? How do you not know his name?” Inquired Eren, smiling a bit.

Connie shrugged. “He’s new, and he doesn’t talk…like that blonde chick.”

A minute passed in silence between Eren worked up the nerve to question Connie further about it. “Um, so…how do you know that he likes feet?”

The shorter man’s face flushed a deep shade of crimson. Turning away from Eren, he admitted, “I just know, okay?!”

There was a story there and there was no way the green-eyed man was letting this go without a fight. After all, Connie was the one who had initially brought it up.

“If you don’t tell me, I’m pulling my pants down,” blackmailed Eren with a determined, wolfish grin.  

Connie sighed in exasperation. “Fine! I’ll tell you, but don’t go around telling anyone else, okay? Not even Sasha.”

“I promise.”

“Okay, so…I was sleeping in the barracks one night and felt something touching my feet. I woke up and saw him there with his hands on my feet. I asked him what the hell he was doing and he had the audacity to ask me if he could play with my feet,” began Connie, his face so red he looked like he was cosplaying as a devil. “I told his ass no, of course, and eventually went back to sleep. When I woke up in the morning…my socks were hanging off my feet, barely covering my toes.”

“That’s…that is kind of creepy,” agreed Eren, keeping his face placid even though he was laughing like crazy on the inside. Unable to resist, he found himself asking, “Are your feet and Bert going steady now?”

“Shut the hell up, Eren!” Snapped Connie, tawny eyes blazing as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Besides, if he likes my ugly ass feet, then he’s gonna be after yours next.”

Eren blinked as he stared down at his tanned, hairless feet. Wriggling his toes, he commented, “My feet aren’t ugly, though. They look…okay.”

Connie gave his friend his best shit-eating smile. “Exactly.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

An hour later found Sasha passed out on the bed while Eren and Connie laid awake in sleeping bags on the floor. Originally the arrangement had been to place Sasha in a guest room while Connie bunked with Eren, but their female friend had fallen asleep first. Neither male had the heart, (or more like, the energy) to move her, so they rummaged in Eren’s closet until they luckily found a few sleeping bags. They could have just opted for the guest room, but Connie didn’t feel right leaving Sasha by herself since he didn’t trust Eren’s cousins.

Unable to fall asleep, and suspecting that Connie was faring no better, Eren decided to break the silence.

“Connie?”

“Yeah, Eren?”

There were a million, billion things that Eren wanted to say to Connie, and to Sasha, too, but he couldn’t even begin to fathom just how he could accurately get his feelings out in words.

“This brings back memories, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah…just the three of us sleeping in the same room in sleeping bags after rough housing all day and night. My ma screaming at us to be quiet or else,” reminisced Connie as he stared at the ceiling, his eyes faraway.

Eren smiled. “We deserved it.”

“Yeah, we did,” agreed the other male with a chuckle.

“Your mother was cool, though. Well, is cool, I should say. She didn’t care that Sasha was a girl and let her sleep over, too.” Pointed out Eren. Connie’s house was the only place that the three of them could sleep over without conflict. Eren’s parents never would have allowed a girl to stay in the same room with two boys, and Sasha’s parents, well, they mostly kept to themselves.

Connie smiled. “Yeah, my mom is amazing. She once told me she thought the three of us would be friends forever.”

“When did she tell you that?” Asked Eren in surprise.

 Arms folded behind his head; the shorter man turned his head to look at Eren. “When you took a beating meant for me and when Sasha chased those assholes off with arrows.”

“Is that why she let us stay over all the time?”

“I think so. She always told me when I was growing up that family sticks together no matter what. I think she knew you two would be part of my family,” explained Connie thoughtfully. Blinking away unshed tears, Connie looked away. “She was right…”

Pretending not to notice the waver in Connie’s voice or the sheen of unshed tears that glistened in the moonlight, Eren murmured, “I don’t know how to thank you and Sasha. There really aren’t any words…”

Connie didn’t reply right away as if he were carefully considering his friend’s words or maybe just waiting for the emotion to escape him undetected. The golden-eyed male slowly turned his head again to look at his long-haired friend, his gaze doggedly serious. “You’re a part of our family…no matter what you do, Eren. Always remember that. You want to thank us? Then come back to us.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“Oi, brat!” Called a familiar voice, which caused Eren to whip his head around and get struck in the face with a small box that fumbled to the ground.

Bending to pick up the box, Levi dropped it in Eren’s lap. A normal person would have apologized, but instead, Levi dead-panned, “Your reflexes are shit, brat.”

“Yeah, they kinda are,” agreed Eren with a small nod.

“We’ll just have to work on that,” stated Levi as he eased himself down into a chair right next to Eren as if he hadn’t just (accidentally?) hit the younger man in the face.

Looking at the older man in surprise, Eren echoed, “We?”

“I have plenty of time to kill and from what it seems like, so do you. I can help you get your ass back in shape.”

As Eren mulled that proposal over, he glanced down at the box in his lap and immediately froze in place. Heart hammering furiously in his chest, his sweaty hands gripped the box tightly. The sounds of people talking around him faded away until all he heard was his own labored breathing and heart beating like metal drums in his ears. All he knew was that he had to get away, he had to stop this, to save the others before it—

killed everyone.

When Eren didn’t speak, let alone, look at Levi, the other man rose from his seat to kneel on bended knee in front of him. He wisely didn’t touch the younger man, nor did he raise his voice or make sudden movements. Instead, he patiently and quietly repeated the other man’s name, “Eren…Eren…Eren…”

When Eren snapped out of his episode, the older man sighed, “Relax, brat, it’s not a bomb. I may be many things, but I’m not a suicidal bastard.”

Vibrant green eyes, no longer faraway and panicked, focused on the older man. Was Levi mocking him? He didn’t think so, but it was hard to tell since the man’s voice tended to mirror his indecipherable face. But something about the way Levi had said the last two words had seemed like a joke to him, nonetheless. “What…? Do you think this is funny?”

Levi peered up at Eren with a coolness that didn’t quite reach his eyes. What Eren saw nearly floored him on the spot. “Look at my face, Eren. Does it look like I’m joking?”

“No.”

As soon as Eren answered, Levi removed the black glove from his right hand and held his hand up for the younger man to see. Eren’s eyes widened a little when he noticed two prosthetic fingers attached to the man’s hand. The captain had obviously lost his right index and middle fingers to some event and it made Eren wonder why and how it happened. When the younger male’s eyes were fixated on his hand, Levi bent his fingers and as he did so, his hand emitted the subtle sound of something mechanical. His prosthetic fingers were robotic.

“I nearly died that day, Eren,” began Levi as he slowly reached over and gingerly plucked the box up from the younger man’s lap. Opening the box slowly, he revealed what looked like a phone still in a factory case. Looking back up at Eren, the older man continued, “I know…how horrifying and destructive bombs can be. Whether it’s a moment, or several moments, it makes no difference. The result is the same. You die, or you survive…but never unscathed.”

How had Levi known about the bomb? Had he spoken out loud during his episode?  Rubbing his face with one hand, Eren groaned, “How did you…? Did I say anything?”

“Just that you had to stop everyone from being killed,” answered Levi as he rose to stand to his full height. Smoothing out his slacks, he sat down beside Eren again, but this time, he left the box on the ground. “

“Oh.” Eren stared down at the open box, yet his true curiosity was rooted somewhere else at the present moment. “How did you know that I thought it was a bomb?”

“I remembered reading an article some months back about that terrorist attack. Your name, and bomb, were mentioned,” vaguely explained Levi. It didn’t escape Eren’s notice that the older man didn’t seem interested in attempting to pry any confidential information out of him regarding the incident. After the traumatic event had happened, everyone had wanted to know about it. Everyone, and he meant everyone, had wanted details that they didn’t need to know about. Details he simply wasn’t allowed to divulge.

“I see,” sighed Eren. Leaning back in his chair, he stared up at the white popcorn ceiling. “I wish it had never happened…”

“Some things are just meant to happen…no matter what,” commented Levi, earning a curious glance from Eren, as he flexed his fingers, staring at his right hand as if in deep thought.

Several minutes passed in silence, which wasn’t awkward despite Eren’s recent PTSD episode. Anyone else would probably have been cooing at him, or sitting there stiffly in discomfort, but not Levi. No, the man merely sat there comfortably as if his ass was made for that chair.

Looking over at the said man, Eren couldn’t help noticing that Levi was dressed much nicer this time. Not to say he didn’t look good last time, but it was clear to him that the man had dressed up a bit more for something specific…a date, perhaps? Five or six years ago, Eren would have been oblivious to many things happening around him. It wasn’t that he didn’t notice things in his younger years, it was just that when he was driven to do something, it became his sole focus while everything around him became a blur until he completed whatever he was doing. Fortunately, over time, he had been able to correct this rather obsessive behavior of his.

“Do you have a date later?” Asked Eren and as soon as the words left his mouth, he wanted to smack the shit out of himself.

Turning his head slowly to coolly regard Eren, Levi raised one eyebrow as he drawled, “No, why do you ask?”

That…was interesting. If Levi didn’t have a date, then why did he look like he was dressed for one? Scratching the back of his neck, he mumbled, “No reason.”

“Don’t lie, brat. There must be a reason for you to ask me that. Just spit it out already.”

Crossing his arms and turning his face away, he muttered, “You look nice, is all.”

“What did you say? I didn’t quite catch it, brat.”

“I said…you look nice,” repeated Eren, hoping to Ymir that he wasn’t blushing like an idiot. What he said was embarrassing, and seemed to imply something, he knew. Eren could have lied, could have just made something up, but…lying to this man seemed wrong somehow. If there was one person he shouldn’t lie to, something deep in his bones said it was Levi.

The raven-haired captain studied Eren in silence, a silence that quickly became suffocating as steel grey eyes pinned the younger man to the spot. He didn’t even blink once as he stared at the long-haired man, all traces of emotion vacant from his scarred, albeit handsome face.

After what felt like hours, or perhaps years, Levi finally broke the tense silence to reply, “Thank you, Eren. You look nice, as well.”

Out of all the things the green-eyed male imagined Levi would say, that was not one of them. Don’t get him wrong, he was grateful even if Levi was lying to him. He had enough people nagging him to cut his hair and to eat more. Eren didn’t really need another person right now to nitpick everything about him. It was bad enough that Zeke mothered the hell out of him and Floch constantly told him how he should be acting. It was nice, no, goddamn refreshing that Levi wasn’t behaving in the same way as his cousins.

Steering himself away from thoughts of his family, Eren looked down at the box on the floor. Staring at what appeared to be a cellular device, he inquired, “So…a phone? Why is there a phone in the box?”

Levi sighed as he slipped his glove back onto his right hand. Gesturing to the box, he clarified, “It’s for you, brat. You said you didn’t have one.”

Eren blinked. “Um, I’m not allowed to have a phone…”

“I don’t really give a fuck what you’re allowed. Even shitty ass prisoners get to use phones. It’s my phone and I want you to borrow it. If anyone takes it from you, I will rain hell on their asses, believe me,” hissed Levi, his eyes narrowed. Eren had the distinct impression that the older man’s ire wasn’t directed towards him at all.

“Don’t worry about minutes, or a bill. Just keep the thing charged and if you need to reach me, you have my number and even Shitty Glasses’. She wouldn’t shut the fuck up until I promised you’d have her number, too.”

“Oh.” Leaning over, Eren gingerly picked up the case in the box and opened it to reveal a slim black smart phone. Feeling the cool metal and the nice weight to it, felt really good. Unbelievably good. It’d been so long since he’d been able to even touch a cell phone. It was amazing to him the simple things most people took for granted, like having a cell phone or being able to walk without pain.

“Eren.”

Looking over at Levi, Eren patiently waited for further instruction.

“I will call you every day and you better answer. If you don’t answer, I will come to your house and personally beat whoever has my phone that isn’t you,” instructed the ebony-haired man.

Eren nodded slowly. “Um, okay, got it.”

Leaning close, the older man said, “One last thing: if you need me, call me. I don’t care what time or day it is. I barely sleep as it is…””

Standing behind the two men, Hanji leaned over and placed a hand on each man’s shoulder. Cackling, she exclaimed, “That’s for sure! I’m surprised Grumpy here doesn’t have bags under his eyes. Hm…maybe he uses a lot of foundation? A little kohl would make those eyes pop!”

“I don’t use makeup, Shitty Glasses. Theoretically speaking, even if I did, why the hell would I cover under my eyes, but not my scars?” Spat Levi as he slapped Hanji’s hand away from his shoulder before prying the other hand off Eren. “Since when can a licensed psychiatrist touch her patients?”

“Because scars are sexy!” Explained Hanji as she rubbed at the hand that Levi had slapped away from him. She didn’t even bother to address the captain’s other question.

Watching them both, Eren realized that these two clearly had a close friendship that reminded him of his best friends. Well, Hanji being an older, crazier version of Sasha and Levi being a smarter, more mature version of Connie.

It took Eren some time to realize that he was smiling, and not some small, soft barely there smile. No, he was smiling like he used to, big and happy, around his best friends. Just mere days ago, he had never thought it would ever be possible, but Eren was finding it easier to smile again.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Chapter Text



After a tense argument with Zeke, Eren paced his room for hours despite his stiff, aching leg. Even though both of the older men had reluctantly caved into his demands, the green-eyed man still felt restless as if the battle wasn’t over. Because he knew it wasn’t.

Huffing a loud sigh, Eren finally slumped down in his chair by his bedroom window. Staring outside at the cloud covered moon, the green-eyed man silently reflected on his cousins.

Zeke had tried to patronize him and when that had horribly backfired on him (resulting in Eren raising his voice angrily), the doctor had quickly resorted to doing and saying whatever he could to placate the fuming younger man. Floch, on the other hand, had stood there with his arms crossed, silently watching the exchange between the other two males. Face closed off, Floch hadn’t uttered a single word the entire time. It was uncharacteristic of Floch to keep his mouth shut since he always had something smart or abrasive to say. Eren didn’t hate Floch, but he had to admit the guy had no filter and could be a real asshole.

Now that Eren thought about it, Floch had been less vocal these days, at least towards Eren. He’d talk plenty to Zeke whenever both cousins thought Eren was none the wiser. Ever since the green-eyed man had been released from the hospital, Floch had been acting strange. Whatever the reason, he didn’t seem inclined to share it with Eren.

Lost in thought, Eren was idly aware of something buzzing near him somewhere. When it didn’t stop, the brown-haired male turned his head to search for the source of the disturbance. Spotting his phone vibrating on the bedside table, he sighed. He almost regretted giving Sasha and Connie his number since they’d been non-stop texting him all day. Rubbing his thigh for a moment, Eren, using the chair and wall for balance, heaved his body up into a standing position. Limping over to his phone, he snatched it and swiped the screen to unlock it. He raised an eyebrow when he realized he had close to ten missed calls from a number he didn’t recognize. Who the hell was so adamant about calling him this late at night?

As if reading his mind, the same number appeared on the screen again, actively calling him. Staring for a moment, he debated whether he should answer or ignore it. Not quite tired, Eren decided to humor whoever the call was. Swiping to accept the call, he brought the phone to his ear.

“Oi, brat, about fucking time you answered.” Hissed a familiar low voice that sounded wearily relieved.

Eren blinked. “Levi?”

“No, the damn Beast Man. Yes, Levi. Why weren’t you answering? I was starting to think something…”

“I thought you were…my friends. They’ve been texting me all day,” explained the green-eyed soldier as he gingerly seated himself on the edge of his cold bed. Last time he’d looked, which had been an hour or so ago, there were at least fifty unread messages from his friends. Thankfully, Connie and Sasha hadn’t given out his number to anyone else, yet. As silly and impulsive as they were, his two best friends weren't stupid. They knew Eren needed to ease back into the swing of things without being overwhelmed by a bunch of people hounding him. The only reason they were messaging him a lot now was because they’d missed him something awful.

That last thought made Eren’s chest ache. He’d missed them just as much, if not more.

Texting,” repeated Levi in a deadpan voice as if such a thing didn’t exist.

Swept back into the here and now, Eren smirked a little. “Yeah, you know, that thing old people don’t know how to do. See, all you do is just press on the message thing and then select a sender and then start typing a mess—"

“—I know what texting is, brat,” interrupted the older man, his tone sharp enough to cut through metal.

Unfazed by the older man’s harsh tone, Eren shrugged as he said, “You know, you could just text me. It’s easier to reach me by texting than calling.”

Levi sighed loud enough for Eren to hear. “That’s stupid. Do your superiors text you instead of calling?”

“I didn’t know you were my superior, sir,” teased the younger male, his lips curving up a bit.

“In a way, I am. Don’t think I won’t come over there and kick your sorry ass,” sniped the raven-haired man even though there wasn’t much heat behind his words.

A sudden thought struck Eren then after he’d glanced at his phone, noticing that the number had no contact name. “Hey, how come you weren’t named in my contact list?”

“I figured your fingers weren’t broken and that you could spell my name,” snarked the older solider.

“Are all old people this grumpy when they don’t sleep, or is this just something exclusive to you?”

“I’m not grumpy, brat. Just annoyed because you didn’t answer my call the first time…or the other million times.”

Million times? Levi was exaggerating there, obviously, but…something about the sour, almost beat down inflection in his voice suggested something odd. Because of this, Eren decided against continuing to tease the man since there was something amiss in the other man’s voice. He sounded…like he’d been… worried? That made the green-eyed man frown. He barely knew Levi, had just met him a few days ago and yet, the older soldier seemed hellbent on keeping regular contact with him. But why? And why had he been worried? They barely knew one another at this point, so why did Levi…?

“Not used to having a phone again. I keep forgetting I have it,” answered Eren honestly.

There was a brief silence followed by what sounded like a sigh. “Keep it close at all times, brat.”

Why? Why did he insist on keeping regular contact? Leaning forward a bit, Eren switched the phone to the other ear. “Levi…can I ask you something?”

“You just did, brat.” A quiet sigh. “Go ahead...”

Eren frowned. “Why do you care? We just met…and already you’ve given me a phone and insisted that I answer whenever you call. You don’t know me, so why this sudden urgency?”

There was a pregnant pause followed by a creaking in the background, sounding as if the older man was leaning back in a chair. “What difference does it make, Eren? A day or ten years, what’s the difference…”

Something about the way he delivered the last part of that response seemed as if Levi were speaking more to himself than to Eren.

“Most people that know me for a day or two don’t care that much about me to check up on me.”

“I’m not most people.”

“Obviously, but you’re still human,” pointed out the green-eyed male. Suddenly wishing Levi were in front of him so he could see his face to try and read it, Eren curiously asked, “So why do you care?”

Another long pause. It was becoming evident to Eren that this conversation, especially the personal aspect of it, was difficult for Levi to talk about. Yet, for whatever reasons, Levi continued to answer his persistent questions.

“Because you know what it’s like, Eren. There’s not many of us in this world that gets it, but you do.”

“What does that mean?” Inquired a perplexed Eren while he brushed some of his long, chocolate colored hair out of his face. He cringed a bit when he realized just how greasy his hair was. He made a mental note to finally wash it after this call was over. Zeke wasn’t wrong about him needing to take better care of himself. Eren wasn’t about to admit that to his cousin anytime soon, though.

“It means what it means. You’ll figure it out soon enough, brat.” Levi answered cryptically, finality coloring his tone. It was clear to Eren that the older man wouldn’t be humoring him anymore about this subject. Eren got the sense that there was something Levi wasn’t saying, or maybe…he was trying to say it, but couldn’t.  Whatever the reason, whatever it really was, Eren wouldn’t press it further, for now.

After a brief stint of silence, Levi asked, “How are you doing? Does your leg hurt?”

Stretching out his long leg, Eren realized that it no longer ached with pain. It almost…felt normal. Whatever pain that had been lingering was gone as if it’d never been there to begin with. Strange. Hanji had told him that she believed that it was all in head, after all. Maybe she was right.

“I’m fine. My leg doesn’t hurt. What about your face?” Inquired Eren as he pictured the older man’s smooth, yet scarred face.

“It only hurts when I look in a mirror.” Levi dryly said, his low voice betraying nothing.

It took Eren a moment longer than he cared to admit that he realized the older man was most likely joking. Most people probably found it hard to tell when Levi was joking and when he was being serious; however, the more Eren was in this man’s presence, the easier it was to tell. Over time, he would probably be an expert at it.

Despite these thoughts, Eren groaned. “Please tell me you’re joking...”

“Of course, I’m joking, brat. Mirrors only hurt if you punch them or bash your face into them.”

Eren snorted. “Been there, done that. Something tells me you have, too.”

“I once threw someone into a mirror…it made such a gross mess. I don’t envy the poor bastard that had to clean that shit up.” Revealed the older man, the feel of his voice suggested that he was most likely smirking like a devil right now.

Despite not knowing Levi very well, Eren found that he could actually picture the taller man doing such a thing. He couldn’t help wondering what the poor fool had done to piss Levi off that much. He probably deserved it. It wasn’t difficult to remember that Levi was a soldier, a veteran one at that. He tried to picture Levi in uniform and in action. What a sight that would be, he supposed. A part of him wanted to see Levi fight, but preferably not against Eren, of course.

“When is your next appointment, brat?”

“Er, hold on,” said Eren as he reached into his pocket to fish out a somewhat bent appointment card. “Sorry, um, it’s in a couple days around 3, why?”

A brief silence suggested that the taller man was deep in thought. “What are you doing tomorrow?”

The brown-haired man didn’t even have to think about it since he was doing what he usually did. Mope around his room, restless, bored and depressed as usual. “Nothing. Why?”

"When was the last time you exercised?”

Glancing down at his shirt, Eren realized just how loose the shirt was on him. Before the accident, the shirt had been pretty snug around his well-defined chest. But now…it was loose, too loose. Gingerly standing up, he walked to the full length mirror that was mounted to his closet door and lifted his shirt up. What he saw in the mirror almost made him drop his phone. Sure, he knew he had lost a significant amount of weight, that wasn’t a surprise, but he’d been in denial about just how much weight he’d lost. No wonder Zeke fussed at him all of the time to eat more. Even Sasha and Connie had both expressed some concern, which he’d dismissed as them being worry warts.

Staring at his far too thin body, he slowly ran his fingers over his visible ribs. The sight both horrified and sickened him. Why had he allowed such neglect on his person? All those times he’d pushed around his food without eating a single bite. He just hadn’t been hungry for a while, now. It wasn’t like he was trying to starve himself or anything. Maybe this, and some other things was why Zeke had finally pushed him to seek professional help. After all those months of trying to help Eren and failing, the blond man had realized his own efforts weren’t helping at all.

Eren!” Hissed Levi, who nearly caused the younger man to drop his phone in surprise.

“Oh, sorry. Uh…” Mumbled Eren before he searched his memory for whatever question that Levi had asked him. Dropping his shirt and turning away from the mirror, he then remembered what the other man had asked of him. “It’s…been a while, to be honest.”

Levi sighed. “Tch. I’m picking you up tomorrow, bright and early, so your sorry ass better be ready.”

“Ready for what?” Asked a perplexed Eren. He wasn’t against seeing Levi again, but…it was still strange leaving this house to venture outside in the world again. He’d been holed up in here so damn fucking long that navigating the outside world now was a bit disorientating to him.

Getting your ass back in shape, brat. You’re a soldier, not a sloth.“ Revealed the older man.

Eren wasn’t so certain that he was a soldier anymore, but he decided against voicing such a thing to the other man. “So you’re going to…”

“Kick your ass all day until you are too sore to move. And the next day, and the day after that.” Promised Levi with an edge to his voice that implied the younger man had little say in the matter.

“Don’t…you have better things to do instead of wasting your time on me?” Inquired Eren, who immediately regretted the words as soon as he’d uttered them.

Not too fond of Eren’s self-deprecating words, Levi growled low, “You are not a waste of time, Eren. If I hear you say anything like that again, I’m drop kicking you in the mouth.” The older man paused as if to calm himself, taking what sounded like a quiet, yet deep intake of breath. “Just so you know, brat, if I thought you were a waste of time, I wouldn’t be talking to you now, or any other day. Remember that.”

The younger man didn’t miss the nuance of very faint emotion tinging the older man’s words. There was something there, something lurking beneath the surface. Something about the way Levi spoke to him made both his head and chest ache with an unknown pain.

“I…yes, sir,” said Eren in voice so quiet it was practically a whisper.

“Just Levi. I’m not your commanding officer, brat,” corrected the raven-haired man, a hint of mirth coloring his tone. “Be glad that I’m not because you wouldn’t survive being under my command.”

Something about the latter statement implied that it was just Levi teasing him again. It made the younger man want to tease him right back, so he did. Or attempted to, anyway. “I’ve been told I’m very hard-headed, Levi. I doubt you could survive me, to be honest. I’d make you leave the military on day one.”

Levi laughed. It was low, and Eren barely heard it, but the older man had laughed and it…was nice. That aching feeling in his chest only seemed to intensify now and yet, he was still smiling. “We’ll see about that, brat. Now, get your ass to bed. I’m serious about picking you up early.”

“What time?”

“0500 hours, brat.”

Eren groaned. That was the time he usually fell asleep. How the hell was he supposed to be up and ready by that time? “Why so damn early?”

“Keep pushing it, brat, and I’ll make it 0400 hours instead.”

“Fine, fine, I’ll be up and waiting,” sighed Eren with a shake of his head. As an afterthought, he said, “You know, for someone who isn’t my commanding officer, you’re very fucking bossy.”

“Get used to it, brat. Now go to sleep already.” Spoke Levi in his own way of bidding the younger man goodnight.

“Goodnight, Levi,” said Eren before he ended the call. Feeling a tightness to his right hand, he looked down and noticed that said hand was balled in a tight fist pressed against his chest. Turning around, the soldier peered into the mirror and saw himself standing there with his fist pressed to his heart in the old salute, like the Survey Corps of the past. That regiment no longer existed and was just something talked about in history books. Even the salute today in the Paradis army wasn’t the same. It was similar but held higher, closer to the chin, and not as tight.

Eren liked the old salute better.

Continuing to stare into the mirror, for a split second, Eren saw the image of a short-haired, adolescent boy with fierce, determined eyes bearing into him as he saluted him in the old way dressed in a familiar-looking uniform. In the next instant, it was gone, leaving Eren to stare at his too thin image.

Turning away from the mirror, Eren went to bed that night feeling too hollow and too full at the same time.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

That night, in the few hours that Eren managed to sleep, he dreamt of green grass and barren earth with the sounds and images of people sparring. He saw a petite, blonde girl taking a fighting stance before she flipped him and sent him flying. Every time he got back up to rush her, she quickly and efficiently tossed him in the air like he weighed nothing. She was so short and slight that it was odd that she was able to kick his ass. Even stranger, a big blond guy even bigger than Eren was sent sailing through the air, too, like he was nothing.

When the green-eyed soldier awoke, his room still dark, he didn’t move from his place lying on his back in his bed. Body slick with sweat, Eren stared up at the ceiling, eyes unfocused while he tried to remember the faces of the people in his dream. But just like dreams themselves, the images were a fading blur.

What he was able to focus on was the image on their uniforms. It looked like a shield with swords crossed. It had looked…familiar. He knew he’d seen that insignia somewhere before and as much as he tried to remember where he’d seen it, his tired brain came up with nothing. Giving up for now, the brown-haired male slowly sat up and brushed his greasy locks out of his wet face. Glancing at the alarm clock, he noticed that he still had roughly an hour before Levi would come kicking down his door.

It was then that he finally realized something: he had forgotten to give Levi his address! Pulling out his phone, he unlocked the screen and typed Levi a quick message telling him what his address was. After the message was sent, he reluctantly eased himself out of the bed. Shrugging off his baggy shirt and dropping it, he headed towards the bathroom, which was thankfully attached to his room. Zeke, being the overbearing cousin that he was, had insisted that Eren take the master bedroom when he first had come to live here.

Ignoring the mirror as he entered the bathroom, Eren turned the shower on before dropping his pants and boxers. Kicking his dirty clothes to the side, he stepped under the hot spray of water and leaned forward, his hands pressed against the wall. While he stood under the soothing stream of heated water, he reflected on his strange dream. Like many of his other dreams, it felt like he’d had that particular dream before. Whether it was déjà vu or something like that, he didn’t know. All he knew was that these odd dreams felt more like memories than anything else.

But how could that possibly be? Those weren’t even his memories. They couldn’t be, he knew that. It was all obviously in his whacked-out head. The sooner he sorted it all out, the better. As…eccentric as Hanji was, she was actually helping him. Talking to that woman was calming and freeing, especially considering she didn’t brush him off. She in fact listened and didn’t sit there trying to patronize him like everyone else always did. Hanji believed that he could, and would get better, in time. A part of him desperately wanted to believe that.

Growling, he shook those maddening thoughts away lest he spent his entire remaining time in the shower. He had no idea how long he’d stood in the shower, be it five minutes or twenty, so he grabbed some shampoo and hurriedly washed his hair. When he was satisfied that he’d washed every ounce of soap and grime away, Eren shut the shower off and got out to dry off.

After leaving the bathroom, he glanced at his clock and noticed with a start that he barely had fifteen minutes to finish getting ready. Poking his head in the closet, he hastily searched for the smallest compression shirt that he owned. Finding an old compression tank top he used to wear during his training days, he slipped it on and was relieved that it almost fit perfectly. It was a bit tighter than he liked, but it would work.

Next, he found a pair of black joggers that looked good enough. Stepping out of the closet, he rummaged in his dresser for some underwear. After he was completely dressed, he glanced at the clock again and noticed that he had roughly nine minutes until Levi would arrive. Jogging back into the bathroom, he found a dryer under the sink and plugged it in. Turning it on, he blew dry his hair while he ran his fingers through it. Normally, he preferred to air dry his hair to avoid damaging it with heat, but it was probably cold outside.

After about five minutes or so, his hair was dry enough not to hinder him. Brushing it quickly, he grabbed a hair tie and tied it back into a messy bun. Stepping out of the bathroom again, he looked at the clock and saw that it was exactly five in the morning. Was he forgetting anything? Oh, a jacket

Once he’d swiped a light weight dark green jacket from the closet, he grabbed his phone and wallet before he quietly exited the room. Shutting the door as silently as possible, he turned to walk and nearly ran into an annoyed looking Floch.

Floch crossed his arms. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“Out,” grunted Eren as he shot his cousin an unimpressed look.

“Out? What do you mean ou—” Began Floch, who was rudely interrupted by the sudden loud rapping on the front door. “Who the fuck is that?”

Before Eren could move a muscle, Floch stalked to the door and ripped it open without looking in the peep hole first.

Standing behind the door was none other than Levi Andersen, looking just as annoyed as Floch looked. The only difference being that he looked…really fucking cool standing there dressed in a black leather jacket, black leather cut off gloves, and holding a black motorcycle helmet in one hand. He looked like every parent’s worst nightmare, come to pick up their young impressionable daughter for a date. Once Eren realized what kind of comparison he’d just silently made, his face burned in embarrassment. Fuck, this man was like twice his age and here he was ogling him like a stupid hormonal schoolgirl.

“Who the fuck are you?” Sneered Eren’s cousin, his ire rising every second that Levi coolly glared right back at him. Glancing at his cousin, Eren noticed a strange expression of realization suddenly molding itself to Floch’s face as if the man remembered Levi. Weird…had they met before?

“I’m Eren’s date, shit face,” said Levi in a deadpan voice. Looking past Floch, he spotted Eren and gestured to him. “You ready, brat?”

As if he’d just noticed Eren’s presence, Floch moved to possessively block his cousin from sight from the man he perceived as a threat. “You better be fucking joking, asshole. Where the hell do you think you’re taking my Eren?”

“Back to my place so we can fuck,” sneered Levi, not the least bit intimidated by the glowering asshole in front of him. “What’s it to you, anyway? You’re not his old man.”

Eren coughed, trying to mask a laugh. He tried not to smile when Floch whipped his head around to pointedly glare at Eren. “You think this is funny, Eren?! This motherfucker is old enough to be your dad, you know. That’s fucking gross as hell!”

“Floch, he’s just joking, damn. Chill out already, all right?” Sighed the brown-haired man as he shifted his weight to his good leg. Feeling the pain flaring up in his leg, he rubbed at it to try and ease it some, but as usual, that didn’t do much to appease the limb.

“It’s all right, Eren. You don’t need to lie for his sake,” silkily spoke Levi as he brushed past Floch, hitting him hard with his shoulder as he strode past him. Taking Eren’s hand in his free hand, he laced their fingers together before leading the slightly shorter male outside with him.

As soon as Levi’s bare fingers made contact with Eren’s, he felt a spark ignite and spread throughout the rest of his body like lightning. It was so intense that his knees buckled, and he nearly collapsed and would have if not for Levi grabbing a hold of him. Eren was barely aware of his surroundings until he heard his cousin screaming at him. Whipping his head around, he looked at Floch for a moment, confused as to why he was there at all. What the hell was his problem, anyway?

Eren! Get back here!” Commanded Floch as he followed them outside, his face looking red and murderous as if he had every intention of killing Levi where he stood.

“Ignore him, brat,” advised Levi as they approached a classic looking black motorcycle parked near the curve. A second helmet hung on the side, hinting that the green-eyed man would most likely be riding with the older man. Eren admittedly didn’t know much about bikes, but this one looked like something a lot of bikers would be proud to own. It looked really cool, actually, despite him not knowing anything about motorcycles, it looked like Levi took exceptionally good care of it.

“Here, put this on,” softly ordered Levi as he handed Eren the spare helmet. Once the younger man took the helmet, the taller man put his on with ease and gingerly eased himself onto the motorcycle as if it was his prized possession. “You ready?”

Feeling hesitant since he’d never been on a bike before, Eren looked down at the helmet in his hands. Once he realized Floch was getting closer, close enough to grab him, the green-eyed soldier hastily shoved the helmet on. Slipping behind Levi, he gripped the sides of the bike until the older man grabbed one of his arms by the wrist. Taking Eren’s hand, Levi placed it around his waist in a silent gesture granting him permission to touch him.

“Hold on, Eren, with both arms, or your ass is going to fall off. I drive fast,” warned Levi, his head turned enough so that he could keep his eye on the approaching man that seriously looked like he wanted to throttle Levi to death. Once the older man felt Eren encircle both arms around his lean waist, he said, “Tighter. I mean it, I drive really fucking fast, brat.”

Nodding, Eren tightened his hold on Levi until the older man was satisfied. Flicking off Floch, Levi made his bike roar before he took off like a devil riding hot out of hell.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Biker Levi

 

Artist: @_Varrix_ https://twitter.com/_Varrix_/status/1202242883962707968

Chapter Text

 

 

It didn’t take very long for Eren to figure out that Levi hadn’t been kidding. The man drove really freaking fast, weaving in and out of lanes like he had the law hot on his heels. Even though he drove fast as hell, he was skilled at it and didn’t make the younger man feel unsafe.

Arms tight around Levi, his body pressed just as tightly against his back, Eren couldn’t help feeling a tad bit conflicted. Don’t get him wrong, the riding along was both freeing and exhilarating (he could now understand why people loved to ride bikes), but…there was a little problem. A problem he hoped that the older man wouldn’t notice. Unfortunately, because they were on a motorcycle and he had to be glued to Levi, there wasn’t any space to hide his growing problem.

Turning his head away, he watched the landscape and other automobiles zoom by as Levi sped like a demon. Eren tried his damnedest to distract himself, to think of the most unflattering thoughts that he could. Anything to calm his excited state, really. It didn’t help at all that being pressed against Levi like this felt way too damn good and it was starting to drive Eren crazy. The only good thing in this situation was that because of the helmet, he couldn’t smell Levi’s unique, hypnotizing scent. He’d caught a whiff of Levi earlier when they’d walked to the bike, (no he wasn’t intentionally sniffing him like some perv, thank you) and the man smelled divine. And to be perfectly honest, all the other times he’d been near Levi, he’d caught some type of amazing scent. All those other times he’d assumed it was someone’s cologne that was nearby, but now he knew better.

The green-eyed soldier now realized that he was touch starved and it wasn’t just for sexual touch, either. Half a year of being isolated from other people hadn’t worked in his favor at all, obviously. Not being able to socialize, and touch other people, had impacted him negatively. Eren was a young man and he had needs, which had been neglected for over six months now. Every touch from Levi was…electric and made him want more even though it seemed platonic on Levi’s part.

Eren was bisexual, and it wasn’t even a secret. Everyone knew and it wasn’t a big deal to Eren or to anyone else. Though he wasn’t ashamed of being bisexual, Eren still didn’t wave a flag and tell every person he met about his sexuality. It wasn’t who he was, just a part of himself. If it was vital for someone to know, he’d tell them. Levi hadn’t asked him about his sexuality, so he hadn’t told him. There was no shame. 

It had been about a year or so since Eren had been with anyone, honestly. He’d had a few relationships already, one girl and two guys, since he had started dating around the age of seventeen. Although some of the relationships had been fun, he’d never felt a spark or anything remotely serious with anyone before today. Every time the relationship had ended, it had kind of sucked, but not enough for the soldier to shed any tears.

And Levi…he had no idea if the man was gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or whatever else type of orientation that existed. Whatever he was, it was difficult to tell since most people’s personalities and the way they looked didn’t exactly betray their sexualities. Sure, there were some stereotypes out there and people that lived up to them, but that was just a minority. Someone that wasn’t part of that minority was his friend Reiner, for example. He was 100% attracted to men, was a switch in the bedroom (or so Eren heard, he didn’t know personally) and he was one of the most macho men Eren had ever met. Just looking at him and hanging out with him, you wouldn’t even suspect that he was gay until you noticed him eyeing a good-looking man walking by.

The brown-haired man wasn’t stupid or naïve in the slightest. He knew that Levi had been fucking around with Floch just to piss the guy off. He had no illusions that this was an actual date. Thinking back on it, he smiled because it had been so damn funny seeing Floch get so angry, and Levi just mouth off to him like that. A lot of people tended to allow Floch to get under their skin, but Levi didn’t. For once, it was someone else getting under Floch’s skin.

Thinking back on all their time spent together in person and on the phone, Eren realized something he hadn’t before. He’d actually laughed and smiled…a lot. Sure, when Sasha and Connie had spent the night, they’d amused him, as usual, but Levi…Levi made him feel a sense of happiness he’d never encountered before.

That was more than what he could say about his own family. Turning his thoughts back to his cousins, he reflected on something Floch had said that bothered him.

This motherfucker is old enough to be your dad, you know. That’s fucking gross as hell!

Floch’s words echoed in Eren’s head repeatedly but not because he agreed with them. While it was true Levi was significantly older than Eren, he wasn’t close to his dad’s age of fifty-four. But now that he thought about it, he did vaguely recall at the VA on the first day that Levi had told Eren he was old enough to be his father. Then again, he’d seen more of the older man’s personality since then and it was possible that had been a joke at his own expense. With that being said, there was just no way, and even if the veteran somehow was that old, what the hell was it even Floch’s business? He was a twenty-one-year-old adult male and he could spend his time with whoever he so chose, as long as it was consensual and legal on both sides.

Besides…if Floch was worried that Eren would enter in a relationship with an older man, his worries were for naught. There was no proof (besides some jokes on Levi’s part) that Levi was even into men, and even if he was, Eren might not even be his type at all. Plus, some older people didn’t like going for someone younger and he honestly couldn’t fault them for that.

Oh, Ymir, why the hell was he so fixated on this anyway? It didn’t matter, or so the viridian-eyed male tried to tell himself. Deep down, he knew why he was obsessing over this: he was attracted to Levi and it was far from platonic. Fuck, he needed to calm down and do it fast before they got to wherever the older soldier planned on taking him. Wherever it was, he was certain it wasn’t Levi’s place.

Swallowing, his throat suddenly felt incredibly parched and scratchy. He really needed to stop thinking about this before he did or said something stupid. Eren knew he tended to get excited about things and once he was excited, it motivated him to move ahead with his idea, even if it was a stupid or reckless one at that. He was bullheaded and he knew it.

Out of all the chaotic thoughts bouncing around in Eren’s overwhelmed head, there was one thing he was certain of: he didn’t want to fuck up his new friendship with Levi. Whatever this truly was, it was nice, hell, more than nice, and he didn’t want to lose this, too.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

An undetermined amount of time later, Levi transported them both to a very large building on base that Eren immediately recognized as the soldier’s fitness center. Noting the distance from his place to the fitness center, and Levi’s speed racing, Eren had been on the bike for at least forty minutes to an hour. As soon as Levi parked his motorcycle and shut the engine off, Eren released the older man so that he could dismount from the bike. His body felt a bit stiff and his legs a bit like jelly, which caused him to stumble almost like a baby deer learning to walk.

Although the stumble wasn’t that serious, a strong arm had shot out anyway to steady him. Feeling his face burn, Eren coughed and turned away enough to hide the evidence of his…ahem, issue. Only half hard now, and wearing black pants that were thankfully not tight, Eren still knew anyone with eyes would notice. If he took his jacket off and tied it around his waist, that would raise suspicion. Ugh. For the first time in his life, Eren longed for a textbook.

Still seated on the bike, Levi held onto Eren’s arm while he used his free hand to hang his helmet over the handlebar. “You okay, Eren? If you’re going to puke, please aim away.”

Pulling the helmet off, Eren handed it to the other man. Seeing a way out of his current embarrassing predicament, the younger man replied, “Um, yeah, I feel a bit nauseous, but not because of the ride. I’m going to run to the bathroom if you don’t mind…”

Seeing Levi nod curtly as he released his arm, Eren turned sharply on his heel and sped walked into the fitness center, doing his best to avoid people. If he had looked back at Levi, he would have seen the older man smirking knowingly after him.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Five or so minutes later, Eren had calmed himself down enough so that he no longer resembled a depraved fool. Splashing some cold water on his, ahem, problem area, had helped ease some of the…swelling. As a precaution, he’d used the paper towels to shield his pants from getting wet. If the front of his joggers got wet, he knew he’d never hear the end of it. As he grabbed more paper towels to dry his wet hands, Eren heard a knock on the stall he was in. Looking over his shoulder at the stall door, he spied Levi’s familiar looking leather biker boots slightly peeking under the door.

Figures.

“Everything okay in there, brat? You need me to come in to assist?” Teased the veteran soldier, his voice dripping with unexpected inuendo.

Fuck, if Levi came into the stall with him, he’d be dead in more ways than one. In his mind’s eye, he could already see scenarios playing out and as soon as the first images started to tease him, he quickly shut that shit down. Clearing his throat, he finished drying his hands off. It didn’t fucking help that the older man insisted on his own lewd jokes.

Eren sniffed. “No, I’m good.”

The raven-haired man then inquired, “Did you ‘throw up’?”

Something about the way the other man worded that made it seem as if he didn’t mean the actual act of vomiting. The more the man teased him, the more certain Eren was that the older man had been aware of his embarrassing problem.

Oh, haha, asshole. Despite himself, Eren smiled. Ripping open the stall door, he smirked when Levi, who had been leaning against the door, stumbled a bit, causing it to be Eren’s turn to catch the older man from falling. Patting Levi on the shoulders as if he were a little kid, he asked, “You okay there? Wouldn’t want you to break a hip, old man.”

Swatting Eren’s hands away, Levi scoffed. “I’m not that old, brat. Now, get your ass moving. We’ve got work to do.”

Eren raised an inquisitive eyebrow as he followed the older man out of the bathroom. “So…this ‘work’, is this something you will be doing as well, or are you going to be on the side lines barking out orders like a drill sergeant?”

The slate-eyed man peered at the shorter man out of the corner of his eye. If looks could kill, Eren would probably be six feet under by now. “My workout will be separate from yours, brat. You’re going to eat first, relax, and then I’m going to drill you.”

Eren groaned. Ymir damn it, why did Levi always have to word things like that?

Rounding the corner with Eren, Levi led the younger man into a mess hall like area. Leaning closer, the veteran soldier spoke in a lower voice so that only Eren would hear. “I did tell your father that I was going to take you to my place to fuck. This is technically my place. I come here every day around this time, and oh yes, you will be quite fucked when I’m done with you.”

The green-eyed soldier’s breath hitched in his throat before he groaned lowly, wishing he could disappear at will. Ymir, or some other god out there must have noticed his suffering because in the next moment, Levi was distracted by something that wasn’t Eren. Suddenly halting his steps, the veteran grumbled under his breath about crazy bespectacled stalkers.

Adjusting his gaze to follow the direction of Levi’s dead-eyed stare, Eren noticed a familiar face. Hanji. From across the mess hall, the psychiatrist was waving enthusiastically at them. What he also noticed were numerous eyes on them, a lot of them looking surprised. Feeling self-conscious, which was something Eren wasn’t used to feeling, he noticed that there were some familiar faces, but most were strangers to him. When he’d walked into the fitness center, he’d expected people, but not this many…

Choosing to ignore the doctor, Levi grasped Eren by the wrist and led him over to the bar. It was obvious the mess hall employee, a young woman with medium length blonde hair, knew Levi because the moment he approached, the lady immediately placed a protein drink and protein bar on the counter without having to be prompted to. She smiled warmly at Levi, but it seemed to be lost on him since his gaze was mostly on Eren.

“I’ll get the same for him, too, please,” politely said Levi as he fished out his wallet. The girl’s big brown eyes widened in surprise at Levi’s unusual request. Her brown eyes quickly sought out Eren and peered at him curiously. “Oh, wow. Who’s this cutie, Levi?”

The raven-haired soldier looked at the girl and nodded curtly. “Eren. He’s going to be accompanying me here every day and I’ll be buying his shit from now on, Petra.”

“Um, you don’t need to do that,” said Eren, his face heating up a bit. Was this how girls felt when guys paid for them?

Eren’s embarrassed words fell on deaf ears as the older man handed his card over to the blonde woman behind the counter. After she returned his card and receipt, she looked to the younger man and smiled brightly at him. “It’s nice to meet you, Eren. I’m Petra. I’m in Captain Levi’s squad.”

Wait, what? Eyes widening, the brown-haired male looked at the pretty girl to study her closer. A girl that looked to be his age, or perhaps younger. He’d mistaken her for just a mess hall employee at first.

“Oh, this? Well, this is just to earn a little extra cash for my husband since our anniversary is coming up soon. Plus, I’m bored since we’re on leave,” explained Petra with a wistful sigh.

That explained that, then.

Interest piqued, the green-eyed man asked, “I thought you were in the New Eldian army, Levi.”

“I was…” Trailed off Levi as he shot Petra a narrowed look that made her giggle a little nervously.

“Sorry, Captain. I didn’t know,” apologized the blonde lady who actually did look sorry. With her fingers, she imitated zipping her mouth closed.

Levi sighed but didn’t seem to truly be upset by her slip up. Why it was a slip up, Eren didn’t know. “It’s fine, Petra.”

Puzzled by their interaction, Eren said nothing as Levi handed him a protein drink and protein bar. This time when he led the younger man away, he didn’t touch him.

“She’s pretty,” quietly commented Eren as they walked away.

“She’s not my type,” said Levi a little too quickly. Realizing this, he sighed and added, “She’s married to someone else in my squad.”

Eren, feeling relieved, nearly opened his mouth to ask Levi what his type was, but stopped himself. Instead, he settled on nodding his response to the other man’s explanation. Led to a round table in the corner of the mess hall near the window, Eren sat down. Expecting Levi to sit across from him, he was pleasantly surprised (and not to mention flustered) that the older man seated himself beside him instead. Eren was about to say something when Hanji popped into view, bouncing on her heels eagerly. Without waiting for an invitation, the excited woman seated herself across from the two men. Resting her chin in her hands with her elbows propped on the table to support her, Hanji smiled happily at them both.

Errreeeeeeennn! Oh, how I’ve missed your handsome face! Levi, you lucky old dog...swaggering in here with a beautiful young stud on your arm!” Gushed Hanji, her cheeks rosy red as if she were daydreaming something romantic or obscene.

Eren had his money on obscene.

“I do not swagger, Shitty Glasses. Don’t be more ridiculous than you already are.” Sighed Levi. Switching his attention to the younger man, he looked pointedly at the ignored items on the table. “You need to eat, Eren.”

The green-eyed soldier looked down at the drink and bar. He wasn’t even hungry, but…the way the older man looked at him now made him feel pangs of guilt. “I…”

“I can’t have you passing out on me during training, brat. That would be irresponsible of me and if you got hurt…” Levi trailed off as he looked away. Running a hand through his dark hair, he sighed again before locking his gaze back on the other soldier. “If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for me? If you do, I’ll go easy on you today.”

Ymir, that concerned expression on Levi’s normally impassive face was enough to melt even the iciest of hearts. Even Annie herself would undoubtedly be touched by this and maybe even shed a tear. Well, maybe not a tear, but it would still tug at her heartstrings. Sighing, he looked down at the bar and slowly picked it up. He should eat it, he really should. The night before he’d even realized that he needed to eat more. Eren felt weak and knew he probably looked it, too. Zeke and Floch hounding him to eat every day had only guaranteed that he would stubbornly refuse to.

But Levi? Levi wasn’t demanding him to eat like they always did. He was imploring Eren to eat and…he looked like he really cared. Eren knew that if their situations were reversed, he’d want the older man to take better care of himself, too. If he was anything at all, the jade-eyed soldier wasn’t a hypocrite.

Making up his mind, Eren unwrapped the bar and took a big bite out of the thing. He nearly fell out of his seat when he felt Levi’s hand ghost against the small of his back. The hand hovered there, as if unsure, before it decided to make gentle contact with the his tense back. Ever so lightly, the captain trailed his fingertips in little soothing circles against his lower back. The metal of his two prosthetic fingers felt strangely good, too, and Eren felt sorely tempted to press back into that hand.

“Easy, Eren. Eat slow or you’ll get sick,” eased Levi, his hand continuing to soothe the other soldier’s slowly relaxing back.

Taking Levi’s sound advice, he took smaller bites and chewed them slower. After what felt like ages, he’d eaten the entire bar. Looking down at the protein drink with some hesitance, he directed his gaze back over to Levi. He felt a giddy tightness in his chest when he noticed that the older man was smiling at him, looking quite pleased.

“Take your time,” advised the veteran.

“Now, now, nowthis is quite something, all right,” commented Hanji as she continued to watch both men with open fascination. The moment she spoke, it was as if the spell had been broken, causing Levi to drop his hand away from Eren’s back.

“What the hell do you want, shit for brains?” Growled the captain, his annoyed slate grey eyes narrowed into thin slits.

Oho, such a look! If my heart wasn’t already enraptured by Eren, I would be tempted. Sorry, Leeeeevi, I have a new love now,” joked Hanji, not even remotely affected by the black-haired man’s death glare. She was probably one of the few people in the universe that wasn’t the last bit intimidated by Levi Andersen.

Sounding every bit as serious as he looked, Levi warned, “Look all you want, but if you touch him, you’re dead, Hanji.”

The bespectacled woman held up both her hands in a gesture of peace. “All right, all right, message sent and received. I swear I won’t touch this fine specimen, but you know, someone should touch him, at least. I mean, really touch him—”

“—Hanji,” hissed Levi in warning, effectively cutting her off from finishing her comment.

Eren blinked slowly, confused by the weird dynamic between the two friends. Not that they seemed like friends right now, but he still knew they were as close as any good friends could be.

 “You’re no fun, Levi,” complained Hanji with a pout. Sighing in defeat, she leaned back and then explained, “I came here to talk to you, because I know you come here every single morning. I arrived here and much to my surprise, you had Eren here in tow. So naturally, I am curious…”

Levi corrected, “You’re nosy.”

“Same thing as curious,” said the psychiatrist with an indifferent shrug.

“He needs to exercise, so I picked him up and brought him here. The brat needs to get out of that house and be around people again. Those fuckheads he lives with keep him imprisoned like he’s some shitty criminal and personally, it pisses me off,” said a cross looking Levi.

“I agree,” replied Hanji. For the first time since Eren had met this woman, she appeared and sounded solemn. Switching her contemplative, serious gaze to the green-eyed man, the doctor advised, “Eren, there is no one I trust more in the world than Levi. He has your best interest at heart, and I know he won’t let anything bad happen to you. Stick by him and listen to him. He won’t steer you wrong, I promise.”

Eren didn’t know what to say, or even what to feel about that. He’d barely known these people for a week, if even that long, and somehow it felt as if he’d already known them for years.

With those parting words, Hanji smiled at Eren and stood up to leave. “Ciao for now. I’ll see you soon again, Eren.”

“I thought you needed to talk to me,” pointed out the raven-haired soldier, his handsome face unreadable once again.

Looking over her shoulder at Levi, she said, “It can wait. Take care of him, Levi.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Some time later, Levi had led Eren into what appeared to be a private, expensive looking locker-room that looked like it was reserved for officers. This assumption was most likely true considering he'd been to this facility countless times and had never been in here before. Glancing around, the younger man noticed there was no one else in the room, which made him feel a huge sense of relief. As good as it was to get out of the house, he still couldn’t help feeling anxious when there were more than a few people around. Some soldier, he was…

“I keep my stuff in here,” explained the veteran as he made a beeline towards the back of the room where the lockers were. The lockers were black, impeccably clean, and absurdly large. Lingering to the side, Eren watched as Levi opened the one engraved with the name L. Andersen. Rooted to the spot, the jade-eyed man watched curiously as the other man disappeared inside the locker. Tilting his body to the side and craning his neck, he was able to catch a glimpse of what looked like a large, walk-in closet. Well, then…

Eren didn’t have long to gawk before the older man exited the locker, sans his leather jacket, with a set of clean, neatly folded clothes slung carefully over one arm.  Without sparing the younger male a glance, Levi set the clothes down on the padded red bench. The way he moved was like he was on autopilot as if he did this every day. 

“From now on, you will use my locker.”

Something about this felt strange to Eren, which caused his face to heat up a little. Turning his face to the side, he scratched the back of his neck nervously. “Levi, I already have one, so this is just—

The older man cut off Eren’s words with a sharp look. “For this to work, we are going to have to be in sync. That means everything I do, you will be doing, too. I don’t mind sharing what I have with you, Eren. All that I ask is that you keep things clean.”

Stubbornness still rearing its great bulbous head, the younger soldier asked, “Am I even allowed in here? I’m not an officer, Levi.”

Levi coolly gazed at the slightly shorter man. “As long as you have said officer’s consent, you are allowed in here. Obviously, you have my consent, brat.”

It was obvious that the older man wasn’t about to budge on the issue. Eren knew when to fight his battles, and when to back down. This really wasn’t a big deal to him, but it…just felt undeserving. Although he knew he wasn’t worthless, even if he felt he was at times, he still couldn’t fathom why some people believed he was worth all this effort. Especially people that barely knew him.

It was then at that moment that Levi crossed his arms over his broad chest as he shifted his weight to the other leg. Eren finally noticed that the older man had left his jacket in the locker and was now clad in only a plain white V-neck. Green eyes zeroed in on those impressive looking arms that looked like they could easily tear apart a titan. Damn, the guy was ripped as hell and even the shirt did little to hide the muscle definition beneath it. Eren was almost afraid to see what else was under Levi’s clothes…

Fingers snapped in Eren’s face, followed by terse words. “Brat, are you paying attention?”

Feeling sheepish and hoping he wasn’t blushing like a virgin, the shorter man answered, “Oh, uh, yeah, I’m here…”

“Good. Stay with me. This is important,” said Levi, his gunmetal eyes locking with Eren’s viridian orbs. Once he was certain that he had the younger man’s attention, the captain said, “The code is 12250330. Remember that, brat because I won’t be repeating it.”

Eren nodded as he mentally repeated those set of numbers in his head until he was confident that he wouldn’t forget them. It was a good thing he wasn’t Sasha because the girl couldn’t remember numbers to save her life.

The ruffling of clothes snagged the younger soldier’s attention, causing him to turn his head before realizing exactly what was occurring. He caught sight of Levi pulling the white V-neck off over his head, the rippling muscles of his body flexing with each of his movement. Pale, smooth skin taut over corded muscle was revealed and true to Eren’s suspicions, Levi was chiseled to perfection despite the old scar here and there. Offering little to no body fat, the older man’s body was the kind of body most of soldiers strived and failed to obtain.  

Realizing that he was staring and his mouth starting to water from the sight, the younger man quickly turned away so that his back was to the other. Scrubbing a hand over his face, he cursed under his breath until he heard the unmistakable sound of a belt buckle being undone. Viridian eyes widened when he figured out what was about to happen.

Deciding to take the coward’s way out, the younger soldier hastily declared, “Uh, I gotta piss, I’ll be right back!”                                                                                                                            

For the second time that day, Eren missed that little knowing smirk.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After Eren had returned, the raven-haired man questioned, “Brat, is there something wrong with your bladder?”

“Uh, no. I puked earlier, remember,” mumbled Eren as he tried to look as normal as possible considering he wasn’t meeting Levi’s eyes at all. It didn’t help that the captain had changed into a forest green compression muscle shirt and a pair of black compression leggings.

“I’m sure you did,” said Levi, head somewhat tilted. The look in his half-lidded slate eyes and the tone of his voice seemed to clash with his own words. Holding out his arm, Levi gestured to the other to hand something over. “All right, take it off now.”

“Um, what now?” Questioned the baffled younger male as he quickly looked up at the other man’s indifferent face. Finding no mirth there, he blinked slowly in confusion.

“Your jacket, brat,” sighed Levi.

Oh…oh. Well, damn. Whatever brain cells Eren had left had probably died the moment he’d realized he liked this guy. Silently prepping himself to get his head on straight, the shorter of the pair shrugged his jacket off before handing it over to the captain. “Sorry…I’m kind of tired.”

“I know. You look like shit. Get more rest tonight because tomorrow I won’t go easy on you,” retorted the older man as he disappeared into his locker to presumably hang up the younger man’s jacket.

“Thanks, you’re a generous god,” said Eren sarcastically though a part of him did see Levi that way. The man didn’t need to know that, though. Despite himself, he smiled.

Levi looked like he had wanted to say something but had quickly decided against it for whatever reason once the other had smiled. Leading the way out of the locker room, he merely indicated with a wave of his hand for the younger male to follow.

Like a puppy on his master’s heels, Eren followed obediently.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“You call—” Eren wheezed, breathing harshly in-between words. “—this taking—” Another wheeze. “—it easy—” Cough and wheeze. “—on me?”

Levi hadn’t even broken a sweat and not even one single black hair was out of place. One slim dark eyebrow lifted; the captain coolly regarded the soldier sprawled out on the ground in the private training room. It was a room reserved for officers and since the captain was obsessed with training early, it meant that the two of them were fortunately alone. Albeit a small comfort, it was still a comfort for Eren considering he was frustrated and didn’t need an audience to witness it.

“You did well, brat. Don’t beat yourself up,” rebuffed Levi with a small sigh. He crouched down and held a hand out to the younger male.

Eren turned his head to look up at the older man’s face before glancing at the hand. Looking away, he sighed, “Yeah, okay…”

Dropping his hand, the raven-haired soldier affirmed, “You have been out of commission for over six months, Eren. I brought you here on short notice, barely giving you any time to sleep. Then I had you work out muscles that have atrophied from lack of use.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“You’re a determined little shit. You don’t complain, you just take it. And you don’t give up easily,” answered Levi.

Eren bitterly scoffed. “Some would say otherwise…”

“And yet you’re here. I think that says it all.”

Surprised green eyes looked up at Levi, finding that the man’s stoic face appeared just as serious as his words.

“I was once in your shoes, brat. Like you, I had to learn to walk again,” revealed Levi, causing the other man to focus his gaze on the long scar marring Levi’s beautiful face. Oh, right…Levi had nearly been blown to smithereens, too. Offering his hand to Eren once more, the veteran soldier stated, “And like me, you will overcome this in time.”

This time, when Levi offered his hand, Eren took it. He grunted a bit when the older man effortlessly heaved him up to his feet as if the younger man weighed nothing at all. Knees buckling from suddenly being forced to bear Eren’s weight, the soldier stumbled but was caught by the taller man’s steady hands. A greedy part of the brown-haired male couldn’t help basking in the attention and touch of the other.

Peering closely at him, the captain queried, “How do you feel?”

“Tired. Sore….but nothing hurts,” answered the green-eyed man, knowing full well that the other man meant his leg. This entire time with Levi, his leg had felt mostly normal.

Accepting that answer with a small hum, the veteran then announced, “Time to get you cleaned up, Eren.”

Oh, Ymir damn it. There was no way he could survive a naked Levi, especially not right now. Blinking owlishly, he slowly questioned, “Um, what? What about you? I thought you were going to work out…”

“I will while you’re soaking. You should soak those muscles for a while in the hot tub. Then you can shower and dress. By the time you’re done, I’ll be finished with my routine,” answered the captain.

Grimacing at his sweat-slicked workout clothes, Eren realized that he had another problem. “I didn’t bring any street clothes, Levi.”

Levi narrowed his gunmetal colored orbs. “You’re not getting on my bike in those filthy clothes, brat.”

The younger man’s brown eyebrows rose to his hairline. “So, what, I’m riding on your bike naked? I’m pretty sure there’s a law against public indecency…”

The raven-haired man paused as if were truly considering that option, which made the younger male sweat a little more. In the end, the captain replied, “I’d prefer that over the soiled clothes, but no, don’t worry…I have some spare clean clothes you can borrow, brat.”

“Well, thank Ymir you’re prepared. Would hate to moon the world on the way home,” joked Eren with a small laugh.

As Levi turned to lead the other out of the training room, the jade-eyed man swore he heard the older man mumbling about how he wouldn’t hate it.

Nah, Eren was just hearing things...right?

Had to be.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Several hours later, after a good soak and wash and some lunch (Levi had insisted he eat again), the older man had driven him back home. Unlatching himself from Levi, Eren hopped down onto the ground. Even though he didn’t stumble this time, he felt the other man’s hand grip him by the arm as a protective measure. Lifting the visor of the helmet, the captain studied the other man closely as if looking for something

Pulling the helmet off, the slightly shorter male turned so that he was facing the other. Feeling awkward now, the young soldier mumbled, “Uh, thanks…”

“Same time tomorrow, brat,” reminded Levi as he slowly released the younger man’s arm. When Eren tried to offer back the helmet, he shook his head. “Hold onto it.”

“Thanks, I will.”

Shutting the visor of his helmet, Levi nodded once before he took off, his motorcycle roaring through the sleepy little suburban neighborhood. A few people outside enjoying the late afternoon sun stopped in their tracks to watch the biker speed away like the devil was out to get him.

Eren lingered in the driveway to watch, too, until the raven-haired man was long gone. Sighing wearily, the viridian-eyed man turned and reluctantly trudged his way back to the front door of the house. Before he even reached the door, it was ripped open to reveal a very livid looking Floch and an incredibly worried looking Zeke.

“Well, well, well…about damn time you came home, Eren…” Growled Floch as he stepped out the door, followed closely by the blond doctor.

Well, shit.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Exhausted to the bone, Eren wasn’t really in the mood for any of this bullshit. All he wanted to do was get inside the house, go to his room, and die on his bed until tomorrow morning.

His cousins had other plans, of course.

“If you have something to say, just spit it the fuck out already,” hissed the irritated solider as he jerked his messy hair back into a more manageable bun. Even though the helmet had mussed up his hair a bit, he was still grateful since the helmet had prevented him from suffering from catastrophic tangles.

Glaring back at the long-haired man, Floch was about to open his mouth when he noticed something he had failed to notice earlier. Body stiffening from the unpleasant realization, he stared incredulously at the clothes his cousin was wearing that were at least two sizes too big, which didn’t go unnoticed by Eren. Voice low, he ground out, “Where…where are your clothes, Eren…?”

Tilting his head to the side and looking unimpressed, Eren shrugged. “Beats me. Why don’t you ask Levi?”

Apparently, that had been the wrong thing to say judging by the wrath rolling off his cousin in choppy, angry waves.

Whatever, it wasn’t his problem.

“Floch,” started Zeke as he laid a hand on Floch’s shoulder, only for said man to jerk his shoulder away as if he’d been burned. The blond doctor sighed wearily. “You’re really making too much of this. Eren looks fine. Levi brought him back in one piece. Although I would have liked prior notice, I don’t think being angry at him will help anything.”

Floch turned to gawk at Zeke as if he’d betrayed him by turning him over to the enemy. “Are you fucking kidding me right now? You really are going to let him trounce around with that—that traitor?”

Not the least bit interested in their conversation, Eren took the opportunity to slip past both of his cousins while they were distracted. Although the word traitor caught his ear, he was too tired to dwell on it right now.

Once he’d reached his room, he shut and locked the door as was his habit to do. He didn’t always lock his door, but considering how unhinged Floch was quickly becoming, he would have to remember to always lock his bedroom door.

Dragging himself to his bed, he collapsed upon it as soon as he’d shucked off his jacket. Face down, he growled his frustrations into the mattress. Grunting, he slowly rolled until he was lying on his back.  Closing his eyes, he tried to drown out the irritating duo of voices that bickered like they were his parents. It was rich considering those guys weren’t that much older than him.

Something vibrated in Eren’s pocket, prompting him to reach into said pocket to fish out his phone. Unlocking the phone, he noticed a new text message and this time, it wasn’t from Connie or Sasha.  

Levi: Get some rest, brat. I’m hardly done with you.

Shaking his head, Eren plugged in his phone to the charger before he rolled onto his side. Closing his eyes, he mumbled, “I knew he could text…”

 

 ~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The sound of something quietly picking at Eren’s door awakened the viridian-eyed male. Raising his groggy head up slightly, he listened and realized that someone was picking his lock. Due to his years in the military, he’d become accustomed to waking up from the slightest sound. As irritating as that could be, he was now grateful for that. Was someone seriously trying to pick his lock while he was sleeping…?

Whoever was picking his lock had succeeded since the doorknob clicked before the door itself slowly creaked open. Head already back down, Eren feigned sleep just long enough for the intruder to step into his room.

Floch. That figured.

“What are you doing in here?” The long-haired man asked calmly right before he slowly forced his exhausted body into an upright position. As usual, his messy bun had been undone during his sleep and now he had cascades of chocolate brown hair in his face. Pulling his hair back, he retied it while he waited for an answer.

Floch jerked back in shock, which caused him to bump into the door and cause it to slam closed. After he’d recovered from the initial shock, Floch reached behind him to lock the door. Staring solemnly at Eren, he answered, “We need to talk.”

“And it couldn’t wait until tomorrow?” Spat Eren incredulously. Something wasn’t right here. His instincts screamed for him to be on high alert right now. Trusting his instincts, he slowly rose to his full height while he closely watched the other man warily.

“No, it can’t,” said Floch as he slowly approached the younger male. Whether it was the darkness of the room, or his own ignorance, it didn’t seem to register to him that Eren was regarding him as a threat right now. Stopping just a few feet from the green-eyed soldier, the blond gazed intently at the other. Despite the moonlight peeking into the dark room, it was still difficult to identify Floch’s expression. “I’m not angry at you.”

“Could have fooled me,” sniped Eren.

“It’s his fault. He’s trying to lead you astray from your great path, Eren. Don’t you see that? You are meant for more, and nothing will stop that,” explained Floch as he placed his hands on each of the other man’s shoulders, causing Eren to jerk a bit at the unwanted contact. Whether the blond noticed or not, he didn’t react, just simply pressed on. “No one can or will stand in your way. You will rise to greatness once more, and all will be well and as it rightfully should be. I am sorry for doubting you before. You are not yourself right now…you just need help finding your way again.”

Shoving Floch’s hands away from his person, Eren slowly backed away. If his instincts had been screaming before, they were roaring like titans right now. “You sound insane…”

Whether he heard him or not, the blond male didn’t react to the other man’s words. Following Eren, Floch reached over and pulled out the other man’s hair tie, watching with rapt fascination as brown locks swept down over his shoulders like dark waves. Moonlight bathing the jade-eyed man in ethereal light, the blond breathed, “You are…beautiful…”

Cyan eyes widened in the shock the moment Floch had backed him into the window. Clutching him by the face, Flotch pinned him against the window with his own body while he forced an uninvited kiss on Eren’s mouth. Although it only lasted seconds, it felt like an eternity of hell for the younger man as repulsion and anger flared up inside of him. Within seconds, he’d shoved the blond away before he sucker punched him hard in the mouth. Watching Floch stagger backwards, the soldier panted heavily and quickly, still seething from barely restrained rage. When the blond man recovered and attempted to approach him again, a fist shot out to sock Floch hard in the stomach, which caused him to crumble to his knees before he puked all over the floor. Collapsing on his side, Floch clutched at his injured midsection as he groaned in agony.

“Don’t ever fucking touch me again, Floch,” growled Eren, a deadly warning laced in his words.

Grabbing his jacket and phone (with its charger still attached), Eren hastily exited his room. He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew he couldn’t stick around. The green-eyed man wanted to be as far from this place as he could be. The last thing he needed right now was to go to jail for murdering his own fucked up asshole of a cousin.

Not looking back, the soldier quickly stepped out of the house and began briskly walking away. The air was frigid this late at night, but hardly distracted him from the vortex of angry and disgusted thoughts assaulting him with each step he took.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The night was illuminated by the occasional lamp light and by the moon casting beams of subtle light upon the world beneath it. Every now and then, a lone vehicle would pass by in the dead of night, high beams flashing like beacons in the darkness. Wind cold and blowing, the world was mostly silent and, in some ways, that was a comfort for the man whose steps quaked with rage. Each stride was quick and ruthless despite the aching pain in his leg. Neither the biting cold nor the pain in his leg did a thing to distract him from the war that thundered inside his turbulent mind.

Whether hours had passed, or just minutes, Eren didn’t know or particularly care. He was angry, so very incensed in a way that seemed to paralyze all reason. It was an old anger he hadn’t felt since his childhood. Sure, in the past, incidents and people had angered him, but…not like this. And not like back then…with that girl.

Eren halted all movement the moment she made her presence known in his thoughts. He hadn’t thought about her, or that ugly, traumatizing day for years now. But now, after what Floch had done, and then had attempted to do to him, forced him to remember that little girl and what had nearly happened to her. If Eren hadn’t happened to walk by the alley that fateful day, at that exact moment in time, then that girl would have died in more than one way.

The cyan-eyed man didn’t even know her name, or where she was now. All he knew was that he had stopped it in time, but at a great cost to himself. The day those men had tried to steal her innocence, Eren’s own innocence had been stolen instead.

It was not a trade that Eren regretted at all. If he had to do it all over again, he would have done it again even if it costed him his very soul.

He hoped that the girl, wherever she was in the world, was happy and living her life to the fullest.

Reluctantly driving his thoughts back to his disturbed cousin, Eren git his teeth and resumed his aimless trek in the barely illuminated street.

What was wrong with the guy? Yeah, he’d always been…a bit of a dick, that much was true, but he’d never outright tried to hurt Eren or anyone else in his family. After the jade-eyed man had nearly lost his life, Floch had suddenly changed like a switch had been flipped. He’d distanced himself from Eren and would talk behind his back whenever Floch thought he wasn’t listening. At the time, it hadn’t bothered him much considering he’d barely been functioning at all.

But now that he had truly begun his road to recovery, Eren was beginning to notice things he’d been blind to before. The things that hadn’t mattered before, were starting to matter now.

As revolting as Floch forcing himself on Eren had been, his cultist type way of speaking and staring at him was on a whole other level. Was Floch brainwashed? It sounded less like he was recruiting Eren and more like he believed Eren was already in said cult. It was so weird, so out there that he didn’t know what to think after all that.

It was during Eren’s ponderings of his incestuous, insane cousin that he felt his phone vibrating. As far as he knew, only three people had his number. This meant that the one calling him now was most likely the captain.

Wanting, no, needing the distraction from his unpleasant thoughts, Eren answered the call. Something about Levi always seemed to calm him down better than anyone else ever could. Be it by voice, or touch, the older man had a knack for turning Eren from a barking, aggressive dog into a purring little kitten. He would probably never admit that to the man, of course.

“Eren, where are you?” Asked a worried sounding Levi.

Glancing around him, Eren sighed, “Not sure.”

“Your apeshit cousin called me begging me to find you. He said something happened but didn’t elaborate on what. Are you okay, Eren?”

“I’m fine,” lied the viridian-eyed man and instantly regretted those two words as soon as they’d slipped out.

Voice hardened, Levi hissed, “Don’t lie to me. You sound like shit.”

“Sorry, I just…” Trailed off the younger man since he was at a loss of words. He was so used to telling people that he was fine when he really wasn’t. The norm for him had been isolation and denial, but now that Levi was in the picture, all that was changing disorientating fast.

“What’s around you?” Levi asked, voice softened now.

Peering around, Eren spotted the closest street sign and then what appeared to be a small building, possibly a convenience store, in the distance. “Uh, I’m on Rose Avenue. There’s some convenience store nearby, I think.”

Good, I know where that is. Get your ass to the store and wait there,” hastily ordered the older man before he promptly ended the call.

Slipping the phone back into his pocket, Eren sighed wearily as he slowly headed towards the store, hands buried in his pockets. Before, his strides had been hard and swift, but now they were slow and calm as if he were out on a leisure walk.

Strange…he’d felt so damn angry and bitter earlier, but now he felt almost at peace.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After buying a cup of coffee from the convenience store, Eren headed outside to wait. Leaning against the building, he sipped the coffee slowly. Although it had some cream and sugar, it was bitter, but he hardly noticed it. If it helped keep him awake, then he’d chug it gladly.

Staring up at the sky for an undetermined length of time, Eren suddenly realized he had zoned out when hands had cupped his face, followed by the utterance of his name. He blinked when he’d been knocked out of his stupor by the electric touch itself. Focusing his eyes before him, the cyan-eyed man stared into the concerned face of one Levi Andersen.

“Are you hurt?” Questioned Levi, dropping his hands to step back so that he could properly inspect the slightly shorter male. His sharp, hawk-like eyes swept over Eren, taking in every detail in his search for any possible injury.

“Physically, no,” murmured Eren as he mirrored Levi by dissecting him right back. He took note of just how tired Levi looked, how mussed up his normally flawless hair was, and how his clothes looked like he’d hastily thrown them on. It awed the younger man because every single encounter with Levi, the man was always so damn calm and neat. So, to see this methodical man so flustered and disheveled was a sight to behold, indeed. Don’t get him wrong, it wasn’t a bad look at all. Then again, it was hard to imagine this man ever looking bad. Levi could be walking around in a trash bag wearing crocs and still be hot as hell.

Levi tilted his head slightly as he took a cautious step forward. “What does that mean, Eren?”

“I…don’t want to talk about it here,” muttered Eren while he turned his head and averted his gaze. Even now, he could still feel that disgusting mouth and body pressed against him. If he talked about it, he didn’t want to be out in the open.

“Fair enough. Let’s go, then.” The veteran nodded his understanding as he turned towards his waiting motorcycle.

“I’m not going back, Levi,” stated Eren, not budging from his spot leaning against the wall.

Looking over his shoulder, the raven-haired male raised a single, fine eyebrow at that. “I wasn’t suggesting that at all.”

“I can’t go back. Not after…that…” The green-eyed man muttered as he glanced down at the now cold coffee. No longer in the mood for it, he tossed it in a nearby trash can.

Levi sighed. “When I said let’s go, I meant my place, not your cousins’ place. My house has three bedrooms, brat. There’s more than enough room for you.”

Looking at the taller man in surprise, Eren nearly stammered once he realizing what the slate-eyed male was offering him. “Uh, I…wouldn’t want to impose…”

“I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t want to, brat. Anything I offer you, I do so willingly and without unreasonable expectations.”

“I can easily get a hotel room, Levi,” Eren stubbornly persisted despite knowing that his objections were most likely futile.

Levi made a face as if Eren had just told him that he was into scat play. “Tch, the fuck you are, brat. Have you ever been in a hotel room? They’re fucking filthy.”

“They’re not so bad…” Started Eren, who trailed off once he noticed the withering look the other man was sending his way. Sighing, he then quickly acquiesced, “Okay, okay...so they’re not the greatest.”

“Here, take this,” ordered the captain before he tossed his own helmet at the long-haired man. Once Eren had caught the helmet, Levi searched his saddlebags until he found a pair of what appeared to be sunglasses. Slipping them on, he glanced at Eren and added, “Don’t puke in my helmet, brat.”

Staring down at the helmet in his hands, Eren felt conflicted. He really didn’t want to take the other man’s helmet, leaving said man unprotected should there be an accident. Considering Levi seemed to drive faster than the speed of light, it was probable something could very well happen. Even if he drove slower, there were still other vehicles out there and not all of them watched out for motorcycles. 

Mounting the bike, Levi waited for the other man to join him. When Eren didn’t automatically comply, he patted the seat behind him. “The bitch seat is calling, brat.”

“The what now?”

“Bitch seat. That’s what they call it.” Levi shrugged dismissively.

Eren blinked. “Why?”

“Because women usually ride behind the man. They call it riding bitch,” explained Levi, the corners of his mouth twitching a bit as if he were attempting to contain a smirk.

A traitorous part of Eren’s mind whispered that he wouldn’t mind being Levi’s bitch any day, any time. Before unwelcome images could assault his mind’s eye, the younger soldier forced them away. There was no way he was about to hop on a bike while entertaining thoughts that would surely incite an undesirable reaction from him.

“Would you prefer to drive?” Tested Levi as he raised his shades to peer at the other more closely.

Ugh, no. Not only had he never actually driven a motorcycle before, but having Levi pressed against his back with arms around his waist, was a really, really bad idea. This was his friend, a new friend, and he wasn’t willing to botch that up. No longer eager to keep them both out at night, Eren decided to just accept Levi’s generous offer. It’s not like they were getting married or whatever.

“Fine, you win,” sighed Eren as he put the helmet on before gingerly climbing on behind the older man. “Can you even see out of those things at night?”

“Don’t worry about it, brat. I can see just fine,” reassured the raven-haired man. Looking over his shoulder at Eren, he said, “Seatbelt, Eren…”

It took Eren’s tired brain and body to work out what the older man meant by seatbelt. “Oh, right.”

Once the younger soldier snaked his arms around the taller male’s body, Levi drove off like he had somewhere to be. Despite this, Eren could still tell that he wasn’t driving quite as fast this time.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Eren wasn’t sure what he had been expecting, but the moment he saw Levi’s house, it oozed of the man. Dismounting from the bike, Eren carefully slipped the helmet off before passing it back to the other man. Although there wasn’t much light, he could see just enough to know what he was looking at.

Although Eren wasn’t an architecture buff, he did know a few styles like cottage, contemporary, farmhouse, and etc. As a teenager, his parents had involved him in choosing a new home. Looking at the well-constructed, sturdy house that no feminine woman would ever pick out, it was clearly a craftsman style house. A man’s house with its neutral deep earth and stone tones blending nicely with the natural materials used to build the structure. Unlike most of the other houses in the area, Levi’s stood out against the multitude of poorly built, cookie-cutter houses that were littered all over the place. Looking at it, the house was simplistic, yet intricate in its attention to the handcrafted detail. Like Levi himself, it was charming in a natural way unlike all those other fake, pretentious houses.

It took the green-eyed man a few moments to feel the eyes burning straight into him. Turning his head, he spotted Levi standing there, arms crossed, as he studied the younger man expectantly. Like much of the time, his face was impassive. Eren was starting to believe that this was just his default expression. Some would call it resting bitch face.

“It’s nice. Suits you,” complimented Eren and he meant it.

Having already having ditched the shades, Levi nodded once. He said nothing as he turned and headed towards the porch that led to the door. Opening the front door, he held it open for the younger man to slip inside before he followed after him.

A couple dim lights were already on as the captain led the other man inside the dwelling, its impeccably clean wood floors devoid of any and all carpet. Not that he was really picky, but Eren did hate carpet since it sullied easy and was difficult to clean. Rugs, he could take and as he followed the older man, he did notice there was a tasteful rug strategically placed here and there.

The outside of the craftsman house had been a mere shell of Levi. Walking through the interior, he could see that the place breathed the man. From the neat, yet masculine appearance to the clean, yet undeniably male scent that filled the rooms. He liked the way the captain smelled, so…that was a definitely a bonus.

Another thought occurred to Eren then, making him wonder if there was anyone else residing here. “Do you live here alone?”

“Yes and no. My sister…sometimes stays here for days at a time, whenever she needs to. There’s three bedrooms. You can take the one between our rooms,” explained Levi as he led them upstairs. Turning left, he walked until he reached a closed door, which he opened. Gesturing inside of the room, he offered, “You can stay here for now, for as long as you need, Eren. I honestly don’t mind.”

Peering inside, Eren noticed that the room was just as spotless as the rest of the house. The place honestly looked like someone had scrubbed it top to bottom every day. It was clear that someone, (possibly Levi) worked hard to maintain the upkeep. His own mother would be intensely jealous of just how clean and neat the place was since it made her look like a slob. Not that she was, but compared to the captain, she was as clean as a hobo. Appearances were everything to his parents, especially to his mother, so this would sting her pride quite a bit. 

“Where’s your room?” Inquired the viridian-eyed male curiously. It wasn’t his intention at all to snoop around or bother Levi while he was sleeping or doing whatever it was that he did in his free time. No, he just needed to know where he could find him when he needed the man.

Without a word, Levi turned and led Eren down the hall to another room, which true to his word, was within reach. Something about knowing that was a comfort to the younger soldier. Unlike with Eren’s new room, however, the slate-eyed man didn’t open the door. The long-haired man didn’t mind, though. Bedrooms were intimate safe places for people to find sanctuary in, which was something not everyone was comfortable sharing with others. Besides…he had a sneaking suspicion the room had the most concentrated smell of Levi and Eren needed to avoid that for obvious reasons.

After he was satisfied that Eren knew where the rooms were, Levi led the other man to what appeared to be a bathroom, which was located between the sister’s and Eren’s rooms. Pushing the door open, it was revealed that there was a walk-in shower separate from a tub with plenty of space in the bathroom to accommodate most people.

“Go ahead and take a shower, Eren. The towels are over there,” Levi stated as he swept his hand over to what looked like a wooden bathroom cabinet. “I’ll have some clean clothes laid out for you in your room. Tomorrow, we can go get your stuff. But for tonight, just clean up and wear my clothes again. When you’re finished, come find me. I’ll be out on the balcony.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After a hot shower, some towel-drying, and clean clothes pulled on to shield his nudity from his new roommate, Eren wandered inside the house until he ultimately found what appeared to be a balcony guarded by a glass sliding door. Rolling said door open, the brown-haired man stepped outside, greeted by a chilly breeze and the sight of Levi sitting at a table with a handle less mug held in his hand by the very top of the cup. As eccentric as it looked, he made it look natural as if this were the proper way to drink whatever he was drinking.

Grey eyes gazed out into the night without so much as glancing in the younger man’s direction. In spite of this, Levi was acutely aware that he wasn’t alone. “Feel better?”

“Yeah, a bit,” answered Eren truthfully.

“Good. Now sit,” ordered Levi before he took a slow sip of whatever it was that he was drinking. Glancing at the teapot on the table, and a spare mug, the green-eyed man ascertained that it was must likely tea.

Sitting down in the only available chair, which was near the one Levi sat in, Eren sagged back in the chair as he looked up into the night sky.

“Take your time. There’s tea if you want any,” murmured the raven-haired man.

“Thank you,” said Eren before he took a deep, shuddering breath. Not wanting to sit out here forever stewing in unpleasant memories, he decided it was best to just spit it out as quickly as possible. “When I got home, Floch was upset. I thought nothing of it and went to bed, and like I usually do there, I locked my door. That didn’t keep him out for long, though.”

Out of the corner of his eye, the younger man noticed Levi’s body stiffen, which hinted that he perhaps suspected and dreaded what was coming next. Turning his gaze away from the city sights, Levi fixed Eren with his undivided attention.

“He…was saying some crazy shit about how I was the one destined to rise to greatness. He blamed you for allegedly leading me astray, too. It sounded like shit…a cultist would say to keep or recruit someone to a cult,”  Eren explained, trying to keep himself calm even though his anxiety was beginning to spike. He nearly jumped when he felt a hand touch his back, moving down to lightly trace random soothing patterns against his clothed skin.

Taking another deep, shuddering breath, Eren reluctantly continued, “Floch called me beautiful…then before I knew it…he kissed and touched me without my consent—”

“—What the actual fuck.” Interrupted Levi, his voice a low growl as he swiftly rose to his full height of six foot one, his hand dropping away from the other. Features incensed, he looked like a feral animal that wanted to hunt something down and tear it to shreds. “I’ll kill that fucking piece of shit!”

Rising quickly to block Levi’s path, Eren grabbed him by the shoulders to steady him. The older man was seething, his gunmetal eyes wrathful in such a way he’d never witnessed before. And yet…something about it was distinctly familiar. Whatever it was, he needed to first calm Levi down and fast before he did something stupid and irreversible.

“Levi…Levi, look at me,” Eren said firmly. Once grey eyes were on his face, Eren continued, “I punched him in the mouth and stomach. He’s not getting up anytime soon.”

“Did he puke?”

Remembering the acrid smell, Eren made a face. “Yeah. Made me almost regret hitting him.”

“Gross,” said Levi as he sank back into his chair in defeat. Although he still looked angry, there was something else simmering beneath the surface. Whatever it was, the older man sat there stewing in it in silence. He would definitely need some time to digest what he’d just been told.

Seating himself in the other chair, the long-haired man watched the other out of the corner of his eye. A part of him regretted saying anything, but another part didn’t. Although he was still personally upset by what had recently happened with Floch, the burden of it had been lifted a bit just by confiding in the other soldier. It helped immensely that Levi wasn’t judging him, wasn’t victim blaming him like others surely would. He’d heard about it countless times happening to other people. People saying ‘Oh, she shouldn’t have worn that.’ or ‘A real man would have been able to fight him off.’ It was no wonder victims, both males and females, often remained silent about such things.

After an undetermined amount of time had passed, Levi finally broke the silence. Looking at Eren now, the man looked both guilty and remorseful. Why he was looking at him that way, the younger man didn’t know. “I’m sorry, Eren.”

“For what?” Questioned a perplexed Eren.

“For goading that stupid little shit. If I hadn’t mouthed off to him the way I did, then he wouldn’t have…” Trailed off Levi, his head downcast and dark hair hanging in his face like a black silk curtain.

“No, no, that wasn’t your fault,” disagreed Eren with a hard shake of his head. The mere idea of the blame being pointed at Levi made him feel sick. There was only one person to blame and that prick wasn’t here. Curling his fingers in the now punched up material of his sleep pants, he continued, “Floch…was always a bit of a dick, yeah. But he was never…weird until that terrorist attack happened, and I nearly died. I don’t now what happened, but some switch in his head flipped. Even in my own fucked up state, I noticed it. I think that’s one of the reasons why I took to locking my door.”

Although he didn’t raise his head, Eren could tell that Levi was listening intently to him. Taking that as incentive to proceed, he resumed, “I guess all those weird looks makes sense now. His outrage…when you showed up to pick me up, I felt was over the top and now I know why. What I'd mistaken for him being protective of me was just petty ass jealousy. He’s my Ymir damned cousin, for fucks sake. Who knows how long he’s felt this way? I still can’t wrap my head around it. Can’t figure it out for the life of me and honestly, I don’t think I wanna know. But Levi…”

Hearing his name, the older man slowly raised his head to look at the green-eyed man.

“What I do know, is that you did nothing wrong,” revealed Eren, who paused long enough to let his words sink into the other man’s mind. Remembering all the times he’d been patronized and told how to feel, the younger man added, “I won’t tell you how you should feel, but I just wanted you to know…I don’t blame you.”

After carefully considering Eren’s words, the captain seemed to relax some. Offering him a slow nod, he simply said, “Thanks, brat.”

After that, they lapsed back into another long silence, however, it was far from uncomfortable. Sometimes it was just nice to sit with someone without having to fill every minute of the day with pointless chatter. It was apparent to him that Levi was the type of person that spoke when he had something to say, whether it was significant or not. It was also clear to Eren that the man was a very private, reserved person by nature. Knowing that and knowing that the taller man chose to associate with him, made him feel something similar to the day that Connie’s mom had hugged him for the first time.

“He called you a traitor. Why would he say that? Do you know each other?” Asked Eren since the thought wouldn’t leave him be.

“I wouldn’t say I know him personally, but we have met before,” confirmed Levi as he picked up his cup of tea once more. “People like him believe anyone that doesn’t support the Jägerists are traitors.”

Flotch was a loud and proud Jägerist, so that wasn’t surprising at all. Although Paradis, a militaristic country, was dominated by many Jägerists, most of them weren’t the least bit fanatical. They were mostly normal people proud to live in a strong country built on the sacrifice of many, including the late Eren Jäger.

Eren wasn’t one of them. “I guess I’m a traitor, too, then.”

Setting the mug down, Levi pointedly looked at Eren and advised, “You should get some rest, Eren, because your ass is still getting up at 0400 hours.”

The younger man winced at that but didn’t complain. Instead, he teased, “Anyone ever tell you that you’re a sadist?”

“All of the time,” replied Levi, the corners of his lips tilted in what appeared to be mirth.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

That night, Eren dreamt of a world of mirrors. In this world, there was nothing else except for him, and try as he might, he couldn’t avoid seeing himself everywhere he went. The more he tried to avert his gaze, the more he saw what he didn’t want to see.

In the end, he caved in by looing directly in the mirror and seeing a younger reflection of himself. Wearing a green cloak with wings crossed on the back, the younger version of himself nearly glared back at him. Green eyes so intense, so filled to the brim with emotion, it was still difficult to figure out what this younger version of himself was thinking.

What do you want? Why am I here, why am I seeing you?

His woeful expression, mated by a myriad of emotions, seemed to challenge the older Eren. His eyes spoke volumes, but the one thing the long-haired man heard the loudest was: What are you doing?

It was as if his younger self was challenging him in something, but what? What did he want? What was the point of seeing this at all?

The more those eyes stared into him, stabbing him with their unforgiving intensity, the angrier he became. Balling his fists, he couldn’t take it anymore. The longer he stood there, shrouded by mirrors, surrounded by his own image, the more caged he felt himself become.

So Eren did the thing he’d done a million times when he had been younger: he lashed out angrily. Punching the mirror, he watched as it shattered into countless pieces, distorting the image of his younger self.

And yet, those eyes…those vibrant eyes remained. Even in a million pieces, those eyes relentlessly stared right back at him.

What are you doing?

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

With a start, Eren awoke in the darkness in a bed and room that he wasn’t familiar with. Panting shallowly, it took him a few moments to remember the events of the previous night and just where he was right now.

Oh, right…he was at Levi’s house.

Wiping his hair out of his sweaty face, the viridian-eyed man picked up his phone to glance at the time.

3:14 A.M.

Well, that figured. There was no point going back to sleep now, if he even could.

Throwing the sheet off, he heaved his sore, sweaty body over until he was sitting on the edge of the bed. Grimacing at the feeling of the shirt clinging to his sweat-slicked body, he peeled it from his body. Using the phone light to find the bedside lamp, he turned it on and then searched for his abandoned hair tie. Finding it, he pulled his hair back as neatly as he could before tying it in a bun.

Already, the disconcerting dream he’d just had was already fleeing from his brain. Try as he might, it slipped away from his mind like water through fingers. As he sat there, all he could remember was a blurred-out image of eyes.

It was just a stupid dream. This wasn’t the first time he’d had a nonsensical dream and wouldn’t be the last time. He could dwell on it for years to come and still not get any closer to the truth of it. It was just his brain dumping out information while he slept. Nothing more, nothing less. 

Despite this, he still felt a bit uneasy as he sat there. Forcing his aching body to rise from the bed, he listened and heard no noise emanating from anywhere. It was dead silent in the house.

Not wanting to needlessly wake up Levi, Eren as silently as he could manage, slipped out of the bedroom, and creeped down the dark hallway. Each step was slow and cautious as he led himself to what he remembered was the balcony.

Sliding open the glass door, he was surprised to see a familiar figure sitting in the same chair as before. Gunmetal eyes shifted to regard him, not seeming the least bit surprised to see the younger soldier there as if he’d been expecting him. Ymir, did this man ever sleep? Eren hoped that he hadn’t been sitting there all night…

It took the younger man a moment to realize what the other man was staring at. Oh right, he’d left his room without a shirt on. But so what? They were both men. It wasn’t like he had tits hanging out for all to peep at.

Looking away, Levi stared out into the darkness of the world, which was littered with the lights of the city. “What are you doing up, brat?”

“I could ask you the same thing. Did you even sleep at all?” Eren deflected as he crossed his arms over his bare chest. The cold air felt good on his bare skin as it dried away the last remaining sweat from his sleep. It also did other things…like harden his nipples. Coughing, he made sure they were shielded from view.

Levi shrugged nonchalantly. “I slept enough.”

Walking over to the edge of the balcony, Eren leaned over it and stared down at the city while he lightly gripped the railing. Something about this place was oddly familiar yet comforting at the same time. It was as if he’d been here before, but he knew that was impossible. Before last night, Eren had never even once set foot in this place.

“Don’t jump,” joked Levi, his voice suddenly mere inches away from the other soldier’s ear.

Eren nearly jumped out of his skin the moment the other man had spoken since he hadn’t seen or heard him move. Turning his head quickly, he noticed that the veteran was standing beside him with nothing but a few inches of space between them. Damn, that Levi had the stealth of an assassin, it was nuts. Just goes to show that his reputation as a bad ass wasn’t unwarranted.

“Really? You almost made me jump,” complained Eren with no real heat behind his words. He shivered a bit, but not from the cold. The sudden proximity, and the sound of that low voice was doing everything in its power to make the younger man squirm like trapped prey.

Levi stared back at Eren with that maddening default expression of his that always made him wonder just what the other was feeling or thinking. Appearing unapologetic for startling the shorter male, he asserted, “I would have caught you.”

Despite the knowledge that he hadn’t known the older soldier for that long, he believed him. Whether that had been meant as a joke, or something more serious, he believed him all the same. It was so strange to him how he could trust someone he barely knew this much and yet mistrust others he’d known his entire life. And yet, at the same time, it didn't feel so strange at all.

Reaching over, Levi ruffled Eren’s hair, causing several long strands of chocolate colored hair to dislodge from the bun. “Go take a shower, brat. If you think your body is sore now, it’s going to be paralyzed after I’m done with you today.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

MirrorErens

 

Chapter Text

 

“So, Eren, how are things going?” Asked Hanji from her chair as she regarded Eren with a friendly face. Even though she was clearly attempting to maintain a calm, professional demeanor, he could still tell that the woman was radiating excitement by her body language alone.

Not one to complain, Eren answered, “Fine.”

Scribbling down something in her notepad, the psychiatrist then inquired, “I heard that you’re living with Levi now. How is that going?”

“I don’t have any complaints,” honestly answered the cyan-eyed man, who noticed the inflection in her voice as if she believed that friend was a difficult person. So far, Levi was pretty easy to live with and there were no issues. Perhaps in a month or so that would change, but for now, things were just fine.

 It had barely been a couple days now since that terrible night with Floch had happened. True to his word, after working out the next day, Levi had taken him back to that house to get his clothes. Thankfully, Floch had been absent with only a concerned and nervous Zeke greeting them. The captain had even rented a car to make it easier on Eren to transport all the things that he would need with him. It had been a strange experience to sit beside Levi (no bodily contact of any kind) in a vehicle for a change.

Eren had found out that day that he greatly preferred the bike. It wasn’t the vehicle so much that he liked (sure it was cool, yeah), but it was the contact he missed. He’d craved it so much so that after they’d returned to Levi’s house, Eren had seated himself much closer to Levi than he typically would have. Whether the older man noticed or not, it was hard to tell since he remained rooted on the leather couch checking something on his phone.

“I see,” murmured Hanji as she continued to jot down notes. Looking up from her notepad, she then asked, “How does it make you feel to be away from your cousins?”

“Liberating…like I’m no longer trapped in a cage,” replied Eren, hoping his face wasn’t flushed. Every day was a struggle to control his reactions since everything about his new friend flustered him. His voice, his scent, his touch…just everything. Even thoughts of him were enough to bring Eren to distraction. Hopefully, over time it would pass. If it didn’t…

More scribbling. “Interesting that you should word it that way. Do you feel free now?”

“I don’t know if anyone can truly be free, but I guess I do feel freer compared to days ago.” The long-haired man shrugged.

“You do seem lighter, Eren. That’s always a good thing. Too many restrictions on a person can put a damper on their mental health.”

Did he seem lighter? If Hanji noticed, then it must be true. Although Eren barely knew her, he could tell that she had a sharp eye (despite the glasses) and noticed things others would overlook. It made him wonder what else the woman was noticing and not telling him.

“Speaking of mental health,” began Hanji, and as soon as she had his undivided attention again, she continued, “Is there anything on your mind? You seem more contemplative today compared to our last session.”

“A lot has happened since then,” simply answered the brown-haired man.

Hanji slowly nodded her understanding. Leaning back in her chair, she gazed up at the ceiling pensively. “Moving, even if only temporary, can be jarring or overwhelming. So can returning to normal, everyday functions like eating, exercising, and communicating with friends. It may feel like a lot to you now, but you’ll adjust to it.”

That was true enough, Eren found. Starting a routine, and sticking to it, was a challenge for him considering the past six months he’d been a vegetable. But the thing about Eren was, he lived for challenges. Having something to do, to focus his energy on, was what kept him out of trouble.

“If you feel too overwhelmed, you can tell Levi. He may be a pain in the ass, but he’s reasonable. Don’t tell him I said that, though. ‘Kay, Eren?”

“I know. He’s been great, really,” said the viridian-eyed male. Reflecting more on his older friend, he then divulged, “Most people his age treat me like some dumb kid and aren’t that patient with me. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but he’s not an asshole, either. Makes me wish I had had him as my commanding officer four years ago.”

Hanji hummed. “It sounds like you respect him.”

“I do,” affirmed Eren with a nod. “Don’t get me wrong, Captain Miller isn’t a bad captain, but she could definitely improve her leadership skills.”

“Oh?”

“She’s either too lenient, or too strict. There is no middle ground. It’s either one or the other, and while I can take it, not everyone can. I don’t personally believe that she’s assertive enough,” candidly explained Eren. He didn’t bother mentioning the various times that he himself had to get his other squad mates under control when Miller had failed to keep them in line. The green-eyed man knew his comrades well enough to know that the problem wasn’t inherently them.

The psychiatrist nodded her understanding. “You prefer someone that will keep you grounded, but still let you fly when you need to. In other words, you respect someone that will keep you in check while still allowing you to make your own choices.”

“Yeah, pretty much,” agreed the long-haired soldier.

The bespectacled woman looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully as she tapped her pen against her chin. “If you could wave a magic wand, and be assigned a different captain, would you prefer to be under Levi’s command? Now, this is just hypothetical, of course.”

For some reason, Eren was under the impression that Hanji was testing him now. Sure, she’d poked and prodded before, but this, this felt important somehow. Even if it was hypothetical, as she claimed, he didn’t feel like it was. Instead of blurting out an answer, he leaned back and carefully contemplated the question. If he could replace Miller with someone, would he want it to be Levi? He respected the man a great deal, already, but they were friends. If he became his subordinate, would things change? Could they still be amicable? Eren didn’t want nor expect special treatment, but he’d at least like to keep this… thing, whatever it truly was, that they had. So far, the older man hadn’t steered him wrong and had been pushing him whenever he needed it. Everyone else had just let him mold away, but not Levi. He didn’t let Eren get away with shit, but at the same time, he was still considerate. It was a balance that Captain Miller lacked, unfortunately. If there could be a good balance with Levi, then yeah, he wouldn’t mind one bit if Levi replaced Miller.

“If he can balance being my leader and my friend, then yeah, I wouldn’t mind it,” answered Eren honestly.

Continuing to tap her pen against her chin, the psychiatrist mused, “You like him a lot, don’t you?”

Eren raised an eyebrow as of she’d just asked him a stupid question. “Don’t you?”

“Why, of course, I do!” Exclaimed Hanji with a maniacal looking smile. Cackling to herself, she then murmured, “Makes me wonder, though…”

“Wonder what?”

Waving her hand, Hanji dismissed, “Oh, nothing, nothing! I just think a loud a lot. Sometimes I temporarily forget when people are around.”

The jade-eyed male leaned back further into the chair and crossed his arms over his chest. He had the distinct impression that she was only telling half the truth. Whatever was bouncing around in her head must be good due to the excited little gleam in her light brown eyes.

“So, moving forward, is there anything you’d like to discuss?” Questioned the brown-haired woman. If she noticed Eren’s skepticism, she didn’t show it.

Eren shrugged indifferently. “Nothing comes to mind.”

“How’s your leg feeling?” Queried Hanji as she scribbled more notes down.

“Fine. It rarely hurts anymore,” admitted the long-haired man. Eren blew some stray brown hairs out of his face before he commented, “The rest of my body is sore as hell, though.”

Hanji chuckled. “Give it time. You’ll get back into the swing of things soon enough.”

“I know. I wasn’t complaining. I like this feeling of soreness. Reminds me of when I was a cadet during the training days, actually,” explained the green-eyed man as he pictured himself and his friends as lanky, weak teenagers getting their asses beat by things that their older selves could now do as easily as blinking today.

The brown-eyed woman smiled at that and leaned forward a bit. “You don’t seem to complain much, if at all. That’s kind of unique.”

“I just don’t see the point of complaining. Every time I complained when I was a kid, nothing ever happened. The only way to change something is to do something about it,” said Eren with another shrug.

“Interesting…” Murmured Hanji as she furiously jotted down more notes.

Eren tilted his head to the side as he watched her closely. “What’s so interesting?”

Lifting her eyes from her pad, Hanji regarded the other with a faraway look, which indicated that she was remembering something. “You sound so much like someone I know. You’re a dead ringer for him, actually.”

“Who?” Asked the puzzled, yet intrigued man.

“Your roommate.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Two weeks had passed since Eren had moved in with Levi. It hadn’t taken him long to grow accustomed to his new living arrangements or his daily routine. It was refreshing to have something to do, something to work for. Though it had barely been two weeks of eating better and exercising regularly, Eren was already starting to feel the benefits. He felt stronger and had already gained some of his lost weight back. His endurance was improving, as well, causing him to be able to run or swim for longer periods of time. It made him feel happy that he could actually go out on his runs again without his body screaming in protest at him.

Levi still refused to let Eren pay for anything, and when pressed about it, the captain had explained that Eren was young and should save his money now. Levi also disclosed that he only used his money for the essentials and usually ended up saving most of it. The raven-haired man insisted that he didn’t mind at all and to think nothing of it. Because he wouldn’t budge on that, Eren sought other ways to express his gratitude by always cleaning up after himself and keeping things as they were. Whether he was considered a guest, or a roommate, it all amounted to the same. He knew that this was Levi’s home, and he would help keep it that way out of both respect and gratitude.

Something Eren had noticed over time was that Levi touched him less and didn’t often make any lewd jokes around him. After that incident with Floch, the older man seemed to keep a closer guard on his own words and actions. The green-eyed male could hardly blame Levi for deliberately altering his own behaviors around him. If their situations had been reserved, Eren himself would probably be acting in a similar way.

However, with that being said, Eren still didn’t want Levi to have to tiptoe around him in his own house. He would show him that Floch hadn’t and wouldn’t break him.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

One day, after observing Eren reading some text messages from friends, Levi said, “You should see your friends.”

Tearing his gaze away from the phone, Eren blinked almost owlishly at the taller man.

“You can bring them over or go see them elsewhere. You don’t need my permission,” clarified the older man while he removed his elbow length cleaning gloves. After he’d put the gloves away, he leaned against the counter and crossed his arms. “If they come here, they better not make a mess, though.”

Eren smiled bashfully. “Yeah, I think it’s better if they don’t. Connie is…fine, but Sasha is…well, a pig. We’ve all tried to get her to be cleaner, but she’s…kinda hopeless.”

“She would get along with Hanji then. That woman is the queen of pigs,” said Levi as he pushed off the counter to walk over to the leather couch, which he plopped down on right next to the younger man. Leaning back, he stretched out his arm over the top of the couch, his hand brushing against Eren’s hair and neck in the process. It wasn’t done on purpose to tease the younger man, but it still caused him to shiver nonetheless.

The captain was probably right about Sasha and Hanji, too. Both women were kind of crazy, in the good way, and weren’t too worried about being the cleanest. Thinking about Hanji now, Eren was reminded of their sessions, of something that had been on his mind for some time now.

“Uh, Levi?”

“Hm?”

Although he wasn’t sure how to broach the subject without sounding like a noisy brat, Eren knew that he had to at some point. Of all the things that he was, he knew he was no coward. “What about you?”

“What about me?”

“I don’t really know much about you, really. Hanji talks about you a lot, but I take whatever she says with a grain of salt. I honestly would rather hear about you from you than anyone else,” answered Eren truthfully.

“That woman exaggerates…and she manipulates. Don’t fall for her games,” sighed Levi as he rubbed at his temple. Taking pity on Eren, he tilted his head and asked, “Well, what do you want to know?”

That was a very good question. The viridian-eyed man wanted to know a great deal many things, especially the personal ones, but he knew better than to launch them all at once. It was better to start off slow and not rush it lest his friend become overwhelmed and clam up on him. “Uh, well…how old are you?”

Levi raised one fine eyebrow as if he found that question pointless. “Didn’t I already answer that?”

Eren smirked a little as he remembered when they had first met. “Nope.”

When the captain didn’t respond, the shorter man playfully bumped his leg with his own. “What? You think I won’t like you if you’re grandpa age? I wouldn’t care if you were my dad’s age, I just want to kno—"

“—Thirty-five,” interrupted the raven-haired soldier, his jaw tight.

“See? That wasn’t so hard,” commented Eren, not the least bit bothered by the withering glare the older man shot him now. “By the way, you don’t look like you’re in your mid-thirties at all. You look good.”

A thirteen-year age gap honestly wasn’t that bad to Eren at least. It was refreshing to have a friend that was older than him, to be honest. The older man had things, like experience, for example, that his other friends couldn’t offer him. At the same time, he could see some people feeling intimidated by an age gap that was more than five years. Despite Levi calling him brat all the time, the man didn’t treat him like a kid at all. That was one of the many things Eren was grateful to him for.

“Anything else you want to know, brat, or is this interrogation over?” Sighed Levi.

“Far from it,” replied the green-eyed man as he carefully considered what he could ask next. “Are you married?”

Levi looked at Eren as if he’d just asked him if he were a cannibal. “Look at my hand. Do you see a ring?”

Deciding to humor the older man, he turned his head to glance down at the hand resting on the top of the couch, near Eren’s shoulder. No ring, but he’d already known that. Looking back at the captain, he raised an eyebrow. “Not all taken people wear rings, you know.”

“I’m not taken in any sense of that word, brat,” revealed the older man while his silver eyes watched Eren closely.

Although he wanted to keep pressing him for personal information about his dating life, Eren knew if he expressed too much interest, it would raise suspicions. Still, he couldn’t help feeling an immeasurable amount of relief and giddiness surge through his being at knowing Levi was single. But at the same time, he’d hoped that Levi had someone because him being taken would have served as a deterrent. Even if Levi was seriously interested in Eren, he was still self-aware enough to know that he wasn’t ready for anything just yet. He also wasn’t willing to ruin a new friendship that had the potential of being a lifelong one. Deciding to reel it back some for now, Eren then asked, “Besides cleaning, drinking tea, and manhandling me, what else do you like to do?”

Eren’s list of Levi’s hobbies made the dark-haired man smirk a bit, especially at the third one on the list. Even though the third one had been a joke, the captain didn’t correct him on it.

“What else is there?” Countered Levi as he lifted his arm to presumably mess up the other man’s hair. Before he made contact, he halted his movement as if suddenly thinking better of it and dropped his arm back onto the top of the couch.

Right…he needed to fix that. Inhaling and exhaling deeply to center himself, Eren put his phone down on the coffee table. “Levi, you know…you can be like you were before. You know, the time before Floch got his ass beat by me. I’m not a skittish horse, I won’t kick you. I’m comfortable around you.”

Staring ahead at nothing in particular, Levi didn’t utter a single word. Whether it was because he didn’t know what to say, or had nothing to say, Eren didn’t know, nor would he press. Perhaps the older man needed to see it more than hear that the younger soldier was just fine now.

Getting struck by an idea, Eren grabbed for his phone and quickly texted Connie and Sasha. Once he was done, he set his phone down again and looked at Levi. The taller man was still not looking directly at him, but he could still tell that the captain was still paying attention to him.

“You were right earlier, Levi. I should go hang out with my friends,” began Eren, scratching at his chin lightly and realizing he’d need to shave soon. Dropping his hand from his face, he gestured invitingly towards the other man. “And you should come with me.”

Levi finally turned his face to look at the younger male. “What?”

“You should meet them. I already know they want to meet you, so might as well get it over with,” clarified Eren. Once he realized how that sounded, he quickly amended, “I mean, not that it’ll be unpleasant for any of us.”

The slate-eyed veteran continued to stare wordlessly at Eren as if he were waiting for this to be a joke. Or perhaps he just wasn’t interested and was uncertain on how to proceed without possibly upsetting the other man.

“You don’t have to go, Levi. I just wanted to invite you along because, well, you’re my friend, too. And I know they’ll like you,” said Eren honestly, his voice nearly cracking. Feeling embarrassed from expressing his feelings, he looked away. He knew that he could be emotional at times, but that was usually anger that often got the better of him. That wasn’t quite the same as opening up about something relating to personal feelings, though. Relationships, be it friendship or more, Eren had always felt awkward and no good at even though others had claimed otherwise.

“Eren,” called Levi. When he didn’t receive a response, he sighed and said firmly, “Look at me, brat.”

Reluctantly looking at the other man, Eren locked gazes with silver eyes so intense that he felt a jolt shoot throughout his body. If he hadn’t already been sitting, he probably would have stumbled from the power of it.

Once he was satisfied that he had the younger man’s attention, Levi said softly, “I didn’t say no.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Once again, Eren sat in Hanji’s office, sitting in the same chair, and being stared at hungrily like he was prey, and the doctor was the wolf. It’s not that he didn’t trust her, he did on some level now, but it was just a bit…unsettling how interested she was in him. Sure, some people took pride in their work and loved every day of it, but Hanji…Hanji took it to a different level. Levi had assured him that the woman had always been like that and that while endlessly annoying, she was quite harmless. Mostly.

While he did believe Levi, Eren was still under the impression that her interest in his mental state went a bit beyond the professional. In other words, her interest in him as a patient seemed to verge on the personal. Something about this was personal for her and he didn’t know why that was.

What he did know for certain, was that Hanji truly seemed like she wanted to help him. Maybe that was good enough of a reason.

Same as always, Hanji cheerfully asked him, “How are you doing today, Eren?”

“Fine,” came Eren’s typical response.

“Whatever Levi is doing, it’s working wonders,” mused aloud Hanji as she examined the young man.

Wanting clarification on what she meant, Eren asked, “What do you mean?”

“Physically, you look much healthier. You’ve gained more weight back…and dare I say, you have a…glow about you.”

Eren cocked his head to the side. “A glow?”

“You’re more confident now, and I may be incorrect in assuming this, but you appear happier. I keep remembering the first day I met you…how lost you looked, like you were just a shell of your former self. Now, however, it looks like you’re finding yourself again and that’s good. Although it’s been less than a month, the change I see is quite significant,” explained the doctor. After letting that sink in for a minute, the brown-eyed woman added, “Now, don’t take this as a graduation, Eren. We still have work to do here, however long that takes. Just remember that it’s not a race.”

Was he happier? Thinking on that, he supposed that perhaps he was. He did feel more like his old self compared to the past six months of living with his cousins. He would never be the same exact person that he was prior to the terrorist attack, but at least now when he looked in the mirror, he was beginning to see someone that wasn’t a stranger to him.

“With that being said, I wonder if you’d feel comfortable talking about something we haven’t broached before,” said Hanji, her soft brown eyes twinkling impishly.

Oh, shit. Feeling some hesitation, Eren reluctantly inquired, “Uh, like what?”

As if they were talking about their favorite kinds of pets, Hanji chipperly answered, “Relationships, as in sexual relationships. If you’re not comfortable talking about it, we can always discuss masturbation…”

Ugh, no. How was that any better? For six months, he’d had zero interest in sex. For six months, he’d deprived himself of most things, including sexual gratification. Although he knew masturbation was normal and most people did it, he still didn’t feel comfortable talking about it. Especially considering the person sitting across from him was the very friend of the one responsible for reawakening his sexual desire.

Trying not to blush like a virgin, Eren was reminded of the fact that his body had basically reverted into a horny teenager. Sure, twenty-one was noticeably young and barely an adult, but at this age, he was still out of the awkward phase of youth. Most of his showers now were cold as ice, though he sometimes broke down and relieved himself. The jade-eyed man was immensely grateful for doors that could lock and for handsome men that didn’t dare invade his privacy.

Eren coughed. “No, no. I’d rather talk about relationships than…the other thing.”

“Very well. When was your last relationship?”

Eren scratched the back of his neck as he recalled, “A little over a year ago, I think.”

“Why did it end?”

“I wasn’t really into him, and he wasn’t that into me, judging by the fact that he found himself with someone else.”

Hanji nodded understandably. “How did that feel?”

The cyan-eyed man shrugged. “Wasn’t a big deal for me, honestly. He was nice enough, but there was no chemistry, no connection.”

“I see,” murmured the psychiatrist as she tapped her pen against her notepad. “Do you currently have a connection with someone else?”

Not liking where this was going, Eren tentatively queried, “What do you mean?”

“Let me rephrase that: are you interested in dating again?” Hanji asked as she leaned over some. She glanced around as if to make sure nobody else was around to eavesdrop. “Is there someone that you’re currently interested in?”

Yeah, he wasn’t answering that. No way in hell.

“Hm, perhaps it’ll help break the ice, so to speak, if I reveal what I like in a person,” stated Hanji after noticing he wasn’t going to answer her question. Being the perceptive person that she was, she had undeniably caught onto Eren’s discomfort. Leaning back, she tapped her chin with her pen. “Hm, I personally prefer men, but I like women, too. I like someone that isn’t put off by my various passions and doesn’t take it personally when I focus on what I’m currently obsessed with instead of them.”

He could see that. Hanji had a strong, obsessive personality type and the people in her life would have to have a lot of patience to endure her. That could definitely explain why Levi continued to be her friend while resisting the urge to murder her.

“What do you like in a person, Eren?” Gently asked Hanji, who tried her best not to appear overzealous.

Not answering immediately, the green-eyed man sat there silently as he mulled the question over in his head. What did he like? Although it wasn’t a complicated question per se, he was aware that what he liked as a teenager and what he liked as the man he was now, did indeed differ.

“I guess…someone that at least meets me halfway and doesn’t make me do all the work. Someone that’s patient and understanding…and not an asshole. I want more than just sex, and I only want it to be with one person, no others. You’d be surprised, or not, depending on who you are, by just how many guys that don’t want these same things,” unveiled Eren. Despite not being the type of person that has to be with someone, he still found it frustrating how shallow and selfish a lot of people his generation tended to be.

“Ah, I see. The things you like are perfectly normal and understandable,” said Hanji as she scribbled away at her notepad. Looking at him over the top of her glasses, she then asked, “Do you prefer the same sex?”

Eren shrugged again. “I’ve been with two guys and one girl. I prefer guys, I think. They have more of the things I’m attracted to, I guess.”

“What things?”

“Oh, um, I’m not sure…well…” Trailed off the long-haired male as he fidgeted with the zipper of his jacket.

Picking up on Eren’s discomfort and inexperience, Hanji offered, “Would it help if I described what Levi likes in men?”

Oh, shit, don’t tell him that. Inwardly, Eren groaned. Thinking about it, he wondered how Hanji even knew. Levi didn’t seem like the type that would discuss such private things with her or anyone else, for the matter. But then again, maybe he was wrong. “Uh…how do you know about that? Did he tell you?”

“Of course not!” Laughed Hanji. “Let’s just say that ten years ago, I tried setting him up with a lady friend of mine, and he said, and I quote: ‘Hell fuck no.’ I tried another one, and he told me that he didn’t like women that way…so naturally I…”

“You tried setting him up with a man,” guessed the green-eyed man. Part of him wondered if they should even be discussing this at all.

“Yep!” replied Hanji, who then sighed wistfully. “That little experiment failed, too, of course.”

“Dare I ask why?”

The brown-eyed woman clicked her pen repeatedly, her eyes elsewhere as she remembered that day. Chuckling a bit, she divulged, “Levi’s a top. I set him up with a man who was also a top, so…yeah, he didn’t like that, not one bit.”

Ymir damn it, he was burning in hell now. He should change the subject to something else, anything, but…he found that he couldn’t. Hanji had him in her trap and she damn well knew it. Damn that crazy woman. “He told you that?”

Hanji hummed. “Sure did. He also told me to stop setting him up with people. Of course, I complied…for now. If, no, when, I find the right man, I’m sending him Levi’s way ASAP, whether the grump likes it or not!”

Narrowing his eyes suspiciously, Eren asked, “Why do you care so much if he’s with someone?”

“Because he’s my friend and I want him to be happy even though he’s an insufferable, stubborn ass that refuses to be,” sighed the doctor dramatically as she leaned back in her chair.

Eren nodded slowly. “I guess…that makes sense. You must care about him a lot.”

“I do,” confirmed the bespectacled woman, her eyes looking faraway again as if fondly remembering a memory. “We’ve been through a lot together. You can’t just forget that, even if you want to.”

The viridian-eyed soldier nodded silently in understanding since he personally understood that to some extent. Without Connie, Sasha, and some of the others, he didn’t dare imagine where he’d be today without them.

“So, Eren! With that being said, are you a top or bottom…or maybe a switch? I like to switch it up myself!”

What in Ymir’s hell was Hanji playing at now? The young man stared at his psychiatrist as if she’d just grown fifteen meters tall and gobbled someone right in front of him. There was no way he was answering that, uh-uh, nope, no way.

Unfortunately, Eren’s silence seemed to suggest to Hanji what he didn’t want her to know. Her eyes widened comically as she leaned towards him excitedly. If she had a tail, it would be wagging furiously right now. “Oh, reeeallllllly?! Oho, that’s great!

“What? I didn’t even say anything!” Snapped Eren, feeling a bit of a headache coming on now. Narrowing his eyes, he then questioned, “What’s great?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing. I just like knowing things…for science,” answered Hanji distractedly while she feverishly jotted down more notes. With the amount that she wrote, he was beginning to wonder if she was writing a book.

After several long minutes of listening to Hanji writing on her notepad, Eren asked, “Are we done here?”

Poking her head up, the brown-haired woman gawked at the young man in surprise. “Oh, Eren! You’re still here? Sorry, I just got lost in my work again. It happens a lot, sorry!”

Eren raised an eyebrow. Levi was right, this woman was completely nuts.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Eren had arranged with his friends to meet in the Shiganshina park, located a few miles away from Levi’s house. The park had been named after the demolished district that Eren Jäger had once lived in as a child. The district itself was gone and was now a large, flourishing city that had been renamed Libertas.

The park itself had been a place Eren and his two best friends had often gone to play as children. It had a vast array of bike trails, trees, and even a lake to swim in during the summer. It was also a perfect place for planning events like picnics, barbeques, and even weddings.

Eren and Levi had been the first to arrive at the specified location in the park, which was near the lake. Sitting on the bench with the older man, he sipped coffee as he waited for his friends to arrive. Knowing them both very well, he’d already known they’d be late, but he didn’t mind. Levi didn’t seem to care one way or another about the fact that they were late. He only seemed to care about tardiness if it involved the younger male.

EREN!” Called Sasha excitedly as she waved her arms to get his attention. Jogging over to the pair of men, she nearly tackled the long-haired man right then and there. It took the woman a few moments to realize that Levi was there, staring down at her impassively. Blushing madly, the brown-haired woman had quickly scampered off Eren to stand back shyly, her arms behind her back. Behind her trudged Connie carrying a large picnic basket and a backpack strapped to his back.

“Damn, Sash, leave me in the dust, why don’t you,” complained the golden-eyed soldier as he set the heavy backet down.

“Uh, guys, this is Levi. Levi, this is Connie. I believe you just met Sasha,” introduced Eren as he gestured to each person. He felt nervous now as he watched them all closely. He felt nervous because he really wanted his friends to like Levi. The older man wasn’t an unpleasant person by any means, but he did have a strong personality that could rub others the wrong way. Sasha and Connie would probably not feel bothered by Levi, but you never knew with people. Sometimes they surprised you whether you liked it or not.

“Yo, man, nice to meet you,” greeted Connie as he dropped the backpack, too. Walking over to the others, he held out his hand for the captain to take.

Taking his hand, Levi firmly shook it the appropriate number of times before releasing it. Nodding his head to him, the veteran said, “Likewise, brat.”

Although it was probably nothing, Eren had a niggling feeling that Connie and Levi had met before. Nah, couldn’t be. He knew Connie would have mentioned it at some point and probably Levi, too. He was obviously just imagining things again.

Sasha stood there gawking at Levi, eyes wide and almost dreamy looking.

Noticing the way that the young woman was staring at him, the raven-haired man warily questioned, “What?”

“Oh! Um, well…are you the Captain Levi Andersen?” Asked Sasha as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

Nodding curtly, the older man stated, “You can just call me Levi.”

“How did you know his surname?” Questioned Eren, both eyebrows raised. He’d never told them his new friend’s last name, let alone rank.

“Oh, I saw him in the paper a few times,” answered the brown-eyed female as she scratched the back of her head. “He’s actually really popular over in Eldia. I’m surprised you didn’t know that, Eren.”

“You know Eren’s head is always in the clouds,” snickered Connie as he opened the backpack to pull out a large forest green blanket, which he began to set up in the grass.

Arms crossed, though it was relaxed, Levi smirked a little. “I’ve noticed.”

The green-eyed man nudged the older man with his shoulder since Connie was too far away to hit. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Nudging him back, the captain replied, “It means you’re a dreamer, brat.”

“And you’re an ass,” retorted Eren with a huff. A hot ass, he added silently in his head. It was difficult to focus since earlier Levi had removed his leather jacket. No longer blocked by an extra barrier, the athletic fit white V-neck shirt clung to the man’s body like sin clung to the devil. It also didn’t help that the veteran’s impressive arms were on full, bare display, too.

The raven-haired soldier shrugged. “There’s no denying that.”

The moment Connie opened the picnic basket, the food fiend inside of Sasha snapped. Whipping around like she was possessed by some devil, the woman launched herself onto the blanket and quickly began swiping things from the picnic basket. Not waiting for anyone else, Sasha began tearing into a chicken sandwich as if she’d been starving for days.

“Damn, Sasha, you couldn’t wait another second?” Complained the amber-eyed male as he sat back to incredulously watch the ravenous display take place before him.

“You know how she is, Con,” said the long-haired soldier as he fondly watched the young woman scarf down the rest of her sandwich.

“Uh, Eren, can I talk to you for a sec? Privately?” Quietly asked Connie as he slowly stood up to his full height. Whatever it was that was on his mind appeared to be physically weighing him down. Connie was normally the clown of the group, followed closely by Sasha, so it was always sobering to Eren to see his friend looking as if the world had unceremoniously dumped its entire burden upon his shoulders.

Nodding at the viridian-eyed man, Levi said, “Go on, brat. I’ll watch the demon.” Then turned his gaze to peer at said demon rapidly consuming whatever was left of the food.

“Thanks.” The younger man was amused to see the disgusted look on the captain’s face while he watched Sasha chow down like a zombie. It was a trainwreck and even someone like Levi couldn’t tear his eyes away from such a gluttonous sight. Remembering what he’d just been asked, Eren looked back at his best friend. Nodding, he murmured, “Sure, Con.”

Connie led the long-haired soldier over to the dock that overlooked a beautiful lake. Tossing off his shoes and socks, the shorter man rolled up his pants before he dipped his feet into the water of the crystalline lake. He didn’t comment when Eren sat next to him cross-legged instead of joining him in the water.

Several minutes passed in silence, the breeze a gentle, pleasant caress against their faces. It wasn’t really a warm day, but nor was it a cold one, either.

Tearing his woeful gaze away from the beautiful scenery surrounding them, Connie looked at the taller male. Face solemn like he was at a funeral, the short-haired male stated, “Eren, you almost died.”

“Yeah…” Was all Eren said as he looked away to watch the light dancing once more on the water, making it glitter like diamonds. The heaviness of the moment contrasted starkly with the pleasant beauty all around them. The moment felt like a surreal dream, a type of dream he’d had before.

“I’ve had a lot of time to think about everything. About that day, the day we almost lost you,” started Connie, his voice slightly rough from emotion that he failed to suppress. He then ducked his head and continued, “You…you’re always risking your neck for me, for us all. You’re always getting hurt and you just shrug it off like you don’t matter. You do matter, Eren. You do. That night…”

Keeping his viridian eyes focused on the lake, Eren silently listened to his best friend pouring out everything that he’d been bottling up for months now.

“That night…there was so much blood…so much smoke and debris everywhere. When we got to you, you weren’t moving. We seriously thought you were dead.”

Eren barely remembered that night. All he remembered was finding the bomb and desperately trying to get it as far away from the civilians and his comrades as he could. There had been pain and then after that, nothingness.

“You nearly bled to death that night, Eren. The next several days were critical and we didn’t even know if you’d make it. Even Jean was freaking out. Nobody could eat, nobody could sleep. Fuck, even Sasha , of all people, didn’t eat!” Said Connie, his voice rising in volume, betraying every emotion he’d been blocking for what probably felt like ages to him now. Shaking his head, he threw up his arms and exclaimed, “They tried to tell us to leave the hospital, to go home, but how could we go back to the barracks and see your stuff there? How could we go back and see evidence of you everywhere, but you’re not there? And what if, what if…nobody was there when you…”

From his peripheral vision, Eren could see Connie’s body beginning to shake, which meant only one thing. Closing his eyes, he cast his face down as he stretched out his arm, wrapping it around the other man’s shoulders. Pulling him close so that they were glued tight together, Connie fought the embrace until his struggling eventually weakened and stopped. Sagging against his green-eyed friend, he clung to him like he was a lifeline.

“You have no idea…what it felt like losing you,” Connie mumbled bitterly into Eren’s shirt.

Finally breaking his own silence, Eren quietly affirmed, “You didn’t lose me.”

Breaking gently from Eren, Connie turned his face away to subtly wipe away at his wet, amber-colored eyes. Eren tactfully pretended that he didn’t notice that the other man had been crying. “Promise me you’ll stop doing that suicidal shit.”

“I can’t promise that,” truthfully answered Eren. He didn’t regret what he’d done and if he had to do it over, he would do it again. “We’re soldiers. Sometimes we get hurt in the line of duty, and sometimes…we die, too. It’s part of the job. Despite what you may think, I don’t actually want to die, but you guys…I can’t just stand back and let you get hurt. If I can do something to save you, I’m going to do it.”

Connie was silent for a few minutes after that as he stared contemplatively at the lake. The taller man could tell that his friend wasn’t finished since his body language revealed that he obviously had more to say. He would patiently sit here and listen to him for as long as it took.

“I saw the report, Eren. If you hadn’t acted fast, Sasha would have actually fucking died that night. You saved her life, man. Because of you, we didn’t even get a scratch on us,” admitted the short-haired man. “Here I am, being an asshole when all you did was what you always do. We’re all alive because of you. I should be grateful. I mean, I am, but…”

As his friend spoke, Eren remembered the intense fear he’s felt when he’d noticed that bomb. Fear that he’d lose everyone that he cared about. His own life hadn’t even been a thought in his mind as he sprinted forward to snatch and throw the bomb. Still in the air, it had exploded in the building by a window, causing a good chunk of the building to collapse. The force of the bomb, along with some shrapnel hitting him in his leg, had thrown him back several feet. Eren had then hit the ground hard and rolled until he ended up on his back. Turning his head, his ears ringing and vision blurry, he had managed to catch a glimpse of his living comrades before everything went black.

Connie rubbed at his eyes with his hands. “Even though you survived, it still felt like you were gone. You were practically comatose. We tried to get your attention, but you just didn’t respond. Just stared and stared...at nothing. You wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t move. Just stared. Then you were discharged and your fuckhead cousins wouldn’t let us visit you. They wouldn’t even allow one damn phone call.”

The long-haired soldier honestly didn’t remember much, if anything at all, from his time spent in the hospital. Even the months spent with his cousins he barely remembered. He’d been trapped in a harrowing, dark daze filled with countless nightmares that he couldn’t, or wouldn’t remember. He was aware that there was something terrible lurking there, something he couldn’t name. Something that he desperately didn’t want to find.

“Those were the longest six months, Eren. We all missed you and yeah, that includes Jean, too.”

“Same here,” agreed the cyan-eyed male. It had just been half a year and yet somehow it had felt agonizingly longer than that. It was disorientating how much everything had changed and yet hadn’t changed, in that span of time. If he was certain of one thing, it was that he’d greatly missed them all, even that ass face Jean.

Connie slung an arm over his friend’s shoulder and leaned on him slightly. “I’m sorry, man.”

Eren sighed dramatically. “Yeah, I’m sorry, too, Con…”

Confused, the golden-eyed soldier looked at Eren and queried, “Huh? For what?”

This,” was all Eren said before he abruptly pushed Connie into the lake. Grinning, he watched the shorter male splashing around wildly in the frigid water as he sputtered in shock at Eren’s audacity.

“You ass!” Laughed Connie, obviously impressed by the other man’s backhanded childishness.

Taking pity on his friend, Eren leaned over and held out his hand for the shorter male to take so that he could heave him out of the water. He missed the mischievous glint in Connie’s amber eyes, though, and would have been yanked into the lake if not for the swift interception.

“Oh, hell no, brats,” chastised Levi as he jerked Eren away before Connie could latch onto him to pull him into the lake with him. “There’s no way you’re getting on my bike like some shitty wet dog.”

Eren had the decency to look sheepish whereas Connie looked smug as hell while he casually did the backstroke in the lake.

“Come on in, the water’s fine!” chirped Connie as he dog paddled in circles as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

“It looks cold as shit,” commented Levi, shielding the green-eyed man from Connie should he attempt to splash him. If Connie were stupid enough to splash the captain, well…then he would probably die within seconds of launching such an attack. Despite the risk of incurring Levi’s wrath, Eren knew that he personally wouldn’t have minded seeing the older man’s white shirt getting wet.

The golden-eyed soldier stopped swimming to look up at the other two men watching him. Moving his arms in a circular motion and kicking his legs to stay afloat, he shrugged. “Nah, my body is numb now.”

Turning away, Levi strode over to the bench to grab the jacket draped over it. Slipping it on, he pulled out his keys and started heading for his bike.

“Hey, where are you going?” Asked Eren as he jogged over to catch up to the older man.

“Getting your friend some dry clothes before he gets sick,” informed the captain as he straddled the motorcycle. Picking up his helmet, he narrowed his steel-colored eyes at the younger man. “Behave while I’m gone, Eren.”

Eren felt immense warmth flood his being as he watched the dark-haired man zoom off. Even though he knew he would be returning soon enough, the green-eyed man couldn’t help feeling a strange sorrow in his chest from the older man’s temporary absence. This was a feeling he’d never felt before in his life and the more he dwelled on it, the more he knew that he was fucked. Eren was quickly realizing that with each passing day, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to just stay friends with Levi.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Chapter Text

 

After having removed his shirt and pants, draping it over the back of the second bench to dry, Connie plopped down next to Eren on the first bench. Clad only in his boxers, the shorter of the two men didn’t appear as self-conscious as most others would have been to sit in a park nearly in the nude.

“Man, it’s a good thing I didn’t wear briefs today,” Connie mused out loud.

Smirking a little, Eren commented, “I’m just glad you wore underwear at all.”

The golden-eyed soldier made a face. “Hey, that was one time!”

Looking away from the other man, Eren fixed his stare on Sasha lying sprawled out on the blanket looking satisfied and content as she napped. It was always a wonder how she never seemed to gain any extra weight from indulging in food the way she did. Though he was still young and his metabolism good, if Eren ate too much, he definitely noticed it the next day.

“Uh, so Eren, how’s the new living situation going? You miss your parents yet?” Asked Connie, his last question more a sarcastic remark than anything else. Though his visage was facing Sasha, too, he was watching Eren out of the corner of his eye.

Damn, why did everyone keep asking him that? Sometime after moving in with Levi, even Zeke had called to check on him. He had been worried about Eren and had even asked him if he was being treated well. Everyone seemed to write Levi off as some pushy, complicated person. In some ways, the captain was a bit bossy when he needed to be, but Eren actually liked that. A part of him even felt he needed it since he knew he was extremely hard-headed and often dug his heels into the ground until someone corrected him. If it wasn’t for the older man, Eren would still be a bag of bones slowly starving to death.

Still, he knew Connie meant well so he chose not to take offense to it. “It’s good, don’t worry.”

“So, you don’t live in the dungeon in some cell?” Joked Connie.

“It’s a house, not a castle, Con. What, you think Levi is some vampire or a BDSM freak?”

Still in a jesting mood, Connie elbowed Eren teasingly “Well, you never know. There might be secret rooms you don’t know about. Maybe there’s a secret sex dungeon…”

Eren coughed, trying not to think about some kinky red or black colored room filled with sex toys. “I’ve seen every room there is, except maybe his bedroom. There is no sex dungeon, dumb ass.”

Connie’s eyes widened in realization as if a light bulb moment had happened. That was never a good sign with him. “Aha! Maybe his bedroom is the sex dungeon! Careful, Eren, he might tie you up and whip your ass, Dom Daddy style.”

“Yeah, no,” said Eren skeptically. Although the nosy, horny part of himself did wonder what Levi’s bedroom looked like, he highly doubted it was any different than the rest of the house. Levi might wear a leather jacket, boots, and ride a motorcycle, but he probably wasn’t some secret Dom Daddy. Thanks to Connie, Eren was now picturing the captain pinning him down to some flat surface…

Not noticing his friend’s distraction, Connie asked, “Well, have you seen it?”

Eren rolled his eyes and leaned back. “No, but I also haven’t seen his sister’s room, either. You think she has a playroom, too?”

“He has a sister?” Questioned Connie curiously, the mention of a sister piquing his interest.

“I haven’t met her, yet. Apparently, she has a job that requires her to travel a lot, so she rarely stays over, I guess,” answered the viridian-eyed male. From time to time, he’d wondered about her and if she was anything like Levi. There were no pictures anywhere of family or friends in the house, which wasn’t really all that strange. Some people just didn’t like displaying such sentimental things in their living spaces. As faceless (and nameless) as the sister was to him, Eren still wanted to meet her someday because she was a part of Levi’s life.

Good or bad, Eren wanted to know it all.

Arms crossed now; Connie nodded at that explanation but didn’t say anything. Several long, but comfortable moments passed before the short-haired soldier broke the silence again. Spoken more as a statement and less than a question, the other male said, “You like him, don’t you.”

Feeling like a child being sized up by a snarling beast, Eren felt frozen to the bench. “Um, what?”

“Sasha! Wake up!” Called the amber-eyed man as he tossed one of his shoes at the picnic basket, which was near their friend’s head.

Quickly snapping into an upright position, hair sticking up in various directions, the young woman rubbed at her eyes. “Huh…what?”

Smirking like a devil, Connie announced, “Eren has a crush on Levi!”

Face beet red now, the taller man shoved Connie by the shoulder. “Shut up!”

“What, really?” Inquired Sasha curiously. Suddenly wide awake now, she rose up and hastily padded over to both men. Planting her butt down next to Eren, she leaned over to study the long-haired man’s face. “As in…like-like?”

Connie nodded. “Dude, did you notice him checking Levi out with those goo goo eyes?”

Not really thrilled about being a sandwich, but not willing to move, Eren crossed his arms and stubbornly denied, “I was not checking him out.”

Not the least bit deterred by the taller male’s stubborn attitude, Connie pushed, “You were looking at him like Sasha looks at meat, Eren. I may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but even I know when someone has it bad.”

“He is hot, though,” Sasha pointed out.

“What, you want to date him, too?” Asked an annoyed Connie.

Sasha frowned at the shorter male. “What? No, he’s not my type, Connie. I’m just saying he’s attractive. Anyone can see that.”

“Good ‘cuz I really don’t want to see you two fighting over that guy,” breathed the amber-eyed man in relief.

“You guys are impossible,” sighed the tallest of the trio, desperately wanting to disappear right now.

“Oh, that reminds me!” Sasha fished out her cell phone and swiped it open. Tapping furiously, she pulled up a dating app. “This guy messaged me, and I don’t know what to say…”

Grateful for the reprieve, however temporary it would be, Eren peered down at the phone screen. The guy had added Sasha and without even introducing himself, had launched into what looked like a sex roleplay. Reading it out loud for both to hear, he recited, “I grab your fingers and tug you behind me, walking over to the bed. I pull you forward with force making you land on the bed with your back on the mattress. I kick off my shoes and straddle each side of your hips, lifting your blouse up with the tip of my fingers as I brush them against your skin. I lean down and give you a kiss on the cheek before moving down your neck, breathing a little heavier as I bite down into your skin.”

Outwardly cringing, Connie glanced down at the phone, too. Both males noticed that Sasha’s typed response to the long message had been merely ‘Wha nu’. “Sounds kinda rapey to me. Sash, do you actually know this guy?”

“No, I don’t even know his real name,” answered the brown-eyed woman as she shrugged.

Gently taking the phone from Sasha, Eren looked down at the profile pic of the guy. It looked like a stock picture the guy had stolen online somewhere. If he did an image search, he would probably find the owner of the true picture. This guy was probably some virgin neckbeard living in his parent’s basement and getting off on catfishing girls like Sasha. “His name is Penetration? Gross…”

“You should roleplay with him, Eren. You’re so good at it,” suggested Sasha.

“Okay, sure,” agreed Eren before he quickly typed out a response to the guy. Smirking a bit, he sent the message and then handed the phone back to his female friend. “How’s that?”

Peering down at her phone, Sasha read Eren’s response out loud: I jerk back in surprise at the unknown stranger manhandling me without my express consent. My shock quickly wears off, replaced by mounting confusion. I make an undignified little noise when you lift up my muscle shirt and run your hands down my six pack abs, the ripped muscles jumping at your touch. Against my will, my large cock begins to stiffen from the stimulation given to my squirming body. I gasp when you bite me, now fully hard and not able to think clearly. Growling a bit, I flip you over and pin you down, shoving my knee in between your legs to grind none too gently at your own burgeoning erection. Staring down at you for a moment, I release a deep breath. "Okay, man, I'm game for this...but I am topping."’

Clutching his sides as he laughed hard, Connie barked, “Man, that’s great!”

“Eren, you’re a good writer. You should write me a romance story,” sighed Sasha dreamily. Then as an afterthought, she added, “Make sure you describe all the food in stunning detail, though. I want to be able to taste it through your words.”

Connie wiped away the tears from his eyes that had leaked out from him laughing. “Wait, do you want him to write you a romance book or a cookbook?”

“Both would be great, actually,” truthfully said the brown-haired woman with a nod.

Shaking his head, Eren refused. “I’ll pass. That’s not really my thing, Sash.”

Connie leaned over Eren some, giving him his best shit eating smile. “Yeah, Sasha, you know Eren’s thing is tall, dark, and dommy. If he writes anything, it’ll be about him being railed by—”

“—Oh, Ymir, shut the fuck up!” Hissed Eren, nearly shoving the short-haired male off the bench.

Ignoring his friend’s protests, Connie continued, “Levi rakes his fingers through Eren’s luscious hair before twisting his long locks and yanking his head back to expose his long, tan throat. Eren moans when he feels his daddy press him into the wall, grinding their hips together like animals in heat as he nips and sucks at his neck—”

“—You’re dead!” Snarled Eren as he lunged at his male friend, who quickly pushed off the bench and rolled away. Jumping up, he began to sprint away like a weasel being pursued by a fox.

“Gotta catch me first, Eren! You and I both know my ass is faster!” Called Connie as he sped away like a criminal. Looking over his shoulder, his smile quickly died on his face the moment he realized the larger soldier was quickly gaining on him. “Oh, shit!”

“Shit is right!” Hissed Eren as he chased down his friend, every swift swing of each leg bringing him that much closer to his target. As soon as he was within pouncing distance of him, the long-haired man vaulted in the air. Colliding into Connie, both men tumbled to the ground and rolled repeatedly in the grass before Eren ultimately pinned him down. Sitting on his hips as he straddled him, he glared down at the smaller male though there wasn’t any true heat there in his cyan colored depths. “Sorry…but, who was the faster one again? You? Yeah, didn’t think so.”

“Ugh, okay, okay, you fucking win, you ass. You are the champion. Now get your heavy ass off of me,” groaned the slighter male.

Before Eren could offer him a smug retort, he felt something strong latch onto his arm and heave him off Connie as if the green-eyed man weighed nothing. Being set down gingerly on his feet, Eren turned his head and was met with a familiar handsome face that was mere inches away from his, cool silver eyes regarding him closely. Standing behind Eren, his mouth near his ear, he lowly purred, “I thought I told you to behave…”

Levi’s close proximity, those whispered words, and his hand still gripping Eren’s arm had the younger male shivering, and it wasn’t from fright. Not trusting himself to speak, he looked away and said nothing. He was suddenly grateful for Connie’s presence because had he not been there, Eren would have been sorely tempted to do something brash and foolish.  

Oblivious to Eren’s internal struggle, Connie sat up and rubbed at his sore lower back. Looking over at Levi, the amber-eyed solider looked impressed. “Damn, man, you’re strong as hell to lift his heavy ass like that.”

“I’m not that heavy,” denied Eren.

“Come on, brats. The other brat is unattended right now,” said Levi, shaking his head at them.

“Ugh, Sasha is probably eating the rest of the food!” Groaned Connie as he shot up to his feet and ran ahead to intercept his other friend.

When Eren tried to follow his shorter friend, the hand still clasped to his arm pulled him back. Face to face with Levi now, barely inches apart, he could do nothing but gawk at him.

“Are you okay?” Questioned the captain as he continued to peer at the slighter man.

“Uh, yeah. I’m fine.”

Tch. Your face is red, brat. The sun isn’t bad today, so I know it’s not sun burn.”

Shit. What was he supposed to say to that? He knew he couldn’t say it was from running. Levi already knew what he looked like before, during, and after an intense workout. His face was never red. Sweaty, maybe, but he never looked like this. Quickly raking his brain, he finally found what he believed was a suitable excuse.

“Oh, um, I guess you startled me, is all.”

“Was I interrupting something?” Asked Levi as he finally released the younger male’s arm. He took a step back and tilted his head. As it usually was, his face appeared closed off, but there was something in his eyes that Eren didn’t like…like he was sad or something.

Realizing what Levi might be implying, he quickly shook his head. “What? Oh, we were just horsing around, that’s all.”

Levi said nothing as he reached over, feeling Eren’s forehead before he lightly cupped the side of his face. He looked like he wanted to say something, something significant, and probably would have, if it weren’t for the other two people calling out Eren’s name. Dropping his hand, Levi turned and started heading back to the others. “We should get back to those brats.”

Standing there stunned and breathless, it took Eren several long moments to will his body to move, let alone to breathe.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“I can’t believe that heifer nearly ate everything,” complained Connie as he rifled through the picnic basket. Fully dressed in the clothes that the captain had generously brought him, Connie was seated on the blanket near his female friend. He’d already thanked Levi and tried to pay him back but was flat out refused.

Eren wasn’t the least bit surprised by that, either.

“This heifer thinks you should have brought more, then.” Retorted Sasha lazily as she lay sprawled out on the blanket again.

“Some of that was for Eren and Levi,” pointed out the golden-eyed soldier.

Wanting to prevent a fight, the long-haired man said, “It’s fine, Con. I ate something earlier.”

Not particularly caring, Levi shrugged as he sat beside Eren on the bench, his arms crossed.

“Speaking of eating, Eren, my ma wants to invite you and Sasha over for dinner. She keeps asking me about you like every day,” spoke Connie delicately.

“Aw, she’s the best cook in the world,” Sasha sighed happily.

Uncertain about how he felt about the invitation, Eren answered honestly. “Oh, well, I don’t know. I’ll think about it.”

“I understand. Just let me know when you decide,” Connie said understandably. Turning his attention to the raven-haired male, he offered, “You can come, too, if you want, Levi. My ma would love to meet you, I’m sure. Even if Eren doesn’t come, the offer still stands. No pressure, man.”

Although Eren wasn’t against the idea of the older man accompanying him, he was still suspicious of Connie’s true intentions.

If the captain noticed three pairs of eyes watching him, he didn’t let on. “If Eren goes, I’ll go.”

“Fine, fine, I’ll go, Connie, but just us here and your ma. Nobody else, okay?” Relented the viridian-eyed soldier. Although he wanted to eventually see everyone else, he felt he wasn’t ready for them right now.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Connie next asked, “All right, that’s good. Do you want to sit by Levi? What about you, Levi?”

Staring at Connie as if he were an imbecile, Levi stated, “You can seat Eren directly on my lap, brat.”

Eren had unfortunately chosen that exact moment to take a sip of his coffee, which caused him to choke on the warm liquid. The idea of sitting in Levi’s lap had occurred to him before, but in the setting, he hadn’t pictured others around to witness it. He wasn’t much of an exhibitionist, so yeah.

“Facing you or facing away?” Curiously asked Sasha, who appeared as if she were trying to actually picture the scenario.

Having noticed the other choking, the captain patted Eren’s back a few times while he queried, “How is he going to eat if he’s facing me?”

Eren hoped to Ymir that they weren’t being serious right now because if they were, he’d kill all three of them. He also desperately hoped he wasn’t blushing like an idiot again since it hadn’t gone unnoticed by the veteran earlier.

Looking at Connie and then back at Levi, Sasha then nodded. “Good point.”

“Good point? You better be joking,” cautioned a wary looking Eren.

Reaching over, Levi tousled the younger male’s long hair. “Of course, we’re joking, brat. I’m not going to embarrass you.”

“It’s not you I’m worried about,” revealed Eren as he pointedly stared at Connie and Sasha. Watching them stare back at him innocently, the green-eyed male sighed as he shook his head. “I’ll be right back, Levi.”

Grabbing Connie and Sasha by their upper arms, Eren dragged them away out of earshot of the older man. Once he stopped walking, he turned to them and regarded them much like a parent would his wayward children. “Look, guys, at that dinner I need you to behave, okay? No funny business whatsoever.”

“So, what, eating in the nude is out then?” Joked Connie, who stopped laughing once he noticed his male friend’s withering glare. “Okay, okay, chill. I was just joking, man. We’ll be on our best behavior, I swear. Right, Sasha?”

Looking a little sheepish, Sasha nodded her understanding.

Eren sighed quietly in relief. “Okay, good. Thanks, guys. I’m not trying to be a buzzkill, but I respect both Levi and Connie’s mom.”

Tilting to the side to look past Eren at the raven-haired man, Sasha smiled while she confessed, “I like him, Eren.”

“Yeah, he’s cool, man. He’s intimidating at first, yeah, but he’s all right. I don’t know a lot of guys his age that would put up with us like he does. It’s awesome,” agreed Connie with a nod. Glancing down at his new clothes, he then added, “Plus it’s really cool he went out of his way to get me clothes. He wouldn’t even let me pay him back for it, either.”

Hearing that his best friends both liked Levi made Eren’s chest tighten with nearly overwhelming emotion. He’d initially been nervous that they wouldn’t mesh well together at all and would end up having to juggle them separately. He liked Levi a lot and wanted him to be around whenever he was willing and available. The idea of leaving him out of things didn’t sit well with the green-eyed soldier at all. Although he knew him well enough to know Levi wouldn’t take it personally if he wasn’t invited to things, Eren still didn’t want to exclude him.

The long-haired man agreed, “Yeah, he’s a very nice man. He’s done things for me that he didn’t have to do.”

“Eren, does he really not let you pay for anything?” Piped up Sasha curiously.

Eren reluctantly nodded. “I try, but he refuses. Says I need to just worry about getting better and saving my money because I’m a young brat.”

Scratching at the back of his neck, Connie smirked once he realized something. Glancing over at Levi, who was busy looking at his cell phone, the shorter male then nudged his taller friend. “Sounds like a Sugar Daddy to me, Eren.”

Tilting his head, the long-haired man dubiously asked, “A what?”

“Don’t play stupid, Eren. You know what that is.” Smirked Connie as he crossed his arms.

Shaking his head, the taller soldier denied, “Uh, yeah no. I don’t have sex with him, Con.”

The shorter male clapped Eren on the shoulder a few times as he chuckled. “It’s a joke, Eren. But all joking aside, not all Sugar Babies have sex with their Sugar Daddies.”

“Oh, my fucking god, don’t call me that!” Groaned Eren as he scrubbed at his own burning hot face with his hands. Ymir damn it, his friends were so maddening sometimes. His only saving grace was that horse face wasn’t here to rub salt into his wounds. That ass face would have a field day with this.

Watching both men curiously, Sasha finally broke her silence. “Aren’t Sugar Daddies supposed to be old? Like forty-five?”

“It’s not an exact science,” said Connie with a shrug.

Eren scoffed. “How the hell do you guys know so much about this stuff?”

“The internet,” both of his friends said in unison after exchanging looks and nodding.

“You better not repeat that stupid shit to Levi,” warned the cyan-eyed man. Remembering their other friends, Eren groaned lowly. “And if you truly love me, you won’t repeat this shit to the others, too. Especially Jean.”

“What stupid shit?” Drawled a familiar, low baritone near Eren’s ear. Holy fucking hell, Eren just about jumped out of his skin once he realized just who it was standing behind him. Reluctantly turning around, he was met with the impassive face of Captain Levi.

“Eren thinks you’re cute!” Sasha giggled before dashing off to escape her friend’s impending wrath. The shortest of the three men very wisely sprinted after her. 

Levi raised an eyebrow as he glanced over his shoulder at the retreating cowards, the shadow of a small smile gracing his lips. Looking back at Eren, he asked, “Why is that stupid?”

Eyes narrowed and promising slow, painful deaths, Eren watched his friends making their speedy, albeit futile, getaway. He would be sure to get them later. “My friends are stupid.”

“I guess I should count myself lucky that I only have one stupid friend,” commented the raven-haired man.

Brushing long strands of unruly chocolate brown hair out of his face, Eren corrected, “Make that two.”

Without warning, Levi silently whacked the younger soldier over the head.

Although it hadn’t hurt much, Eren still protested, “Hey! What was that for?”

“For your shitty self-deprecating comment,” answered the captain. Reaching up to pat the other male on the head as if in apology, he then elaborated, “You’re not stupid, Eren. A little…naïve, maybe, but not stupid.”

Caught off guard by that admission, all Eren could think to utter was a quiet, “Oh.”

“So, brat, I must know,” started Levi as he snaked an arm around the shorter man’s shoulders, drawing him closer. “Do you think I’m cute?”

Having been around Levi for close to a month now, Eren was getting better at figuring out when the veteran was just fucking around with him. Shoving the older man’s arm off from his shoulders, Eren tried his best not to smile as he barked out, “Shut up, Levi.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Two days later, Eren sat in the mess hall of the fitness center after two hours of an intense workout that had been followed by combat training. Freshly showered and dressed in clean street clothes, the green-eyed male was seated at their usual table as he drank a protein shake. Levi was probably still taking a shower or doing something else. Despite what some people might think, the older man didn’t stick to him like crazy glue. Although he was undeniably attentive, Levi did still give the younger man plenty of space and privacy. It was usually Eren that sought the other man out and dragged him along to hang out with his friends just because he wanted to be around him.

“Oh, hi, Eren!” Greeted Petra as she seated herself right next to the long-haired man. The kind woman always waited to take her break until she knew Eren was done with his routine. Smiling warmly at him, she remarked, “You look beat. Levi kicked your ass again, I see.”

Finishing up the drink, Eren set it down and nodded. “Yeah, and that’s still just him taking it easy on me, too.”

The friendly, brown-eyed woman studied Eren for a few moments before she decided to speak again. “If you don’t mind me saying so, you look world’s better, Eren. I remember the first day you were here, and you looked so lost and beat down. I was a stranger to you, but I still wanted to hug you better. It would have been scandalous, I’m sure, had I done so.” Pausing for a moment to laugh at herself, she then beamed proudly at him as if he were her own son. “And here you are now, and I barely recognize you. It’s amazing and I’m so happy to see you looking so healthy and strong. You even smile more, too.”

Watching Petra as he listened to her kind words, a part of him wanted to cry. He wouldn’t, of course, but that part of him was still moved, nonetheless. The woman was very motherly in a way that he just wasn’t accustomed to. His own mother had always been standoffish with him and had never offered him any comfort. Looking at the blonde woman now, he saw all the things in her he wished that he had had from his mother growing up.

Leaning closer to Eren, Petra then whispered, “Levi smiles more, too, and I know it’s because of you.”

“Well, he teases me all the time, so that’s a given,” replied the brown-haired man dismissively. He had noticed that the captain did smile quite a bit around him, but he didn’t want to admit it because it just made him want him even more if that was even possible. He was trying his damnedest not to do anything foolish to ruin a friendship he wanted to keep. Sure, he had other friends, good friends, but Levi was still a friend he felt he couldn’t afford to lose.  

The blonde woman frowned slightly. “No, you don’t understand, Eren. Before you came into the picture, the captain never smiled. I’m not even kidding, either.”

That was a revelation he hadn’t expected to hear. Yeah, he knew the captain wasn’t the cuddly, happy-go-lucky type, but to think of him as being joyless around his own unit made the young man feel a touch of sadness and a sea of sympathy. Had Levi been unhappy before they met? Thinking back to a phone conversation they’d had within the first week of meeting, it made some sense considering Eren himself had been miserable for about half a year.

When asked why Levi even cared about Eren at all, the man had answered: ‘Because you know what it’s like, Eren. There’s not many of us in this world that gets it, but you do.’

The more that he got to know the older man, the more Eren was seeing that they both had a lot in common. In some ways, it was like they were kindred spirits or something along those lines.

“I guess you’re right about that,” reluctantly agreed Eren.

Petra chuckled, “You’re so cute when you pout, Eren. If I wasn’t already married, I’d snatch you up myself!”

Pouting? Had he really been pouting? Skeptical about that, Eren shook his head at the woman. Wanting to change the subject, he then inquired, “How long have you been in Levi’s squad?”

“About eight years now. Not counting falling in love with my husband, joining Levi’s squad had been one of the best experiences of my life,” answered Petra, sounding regretful to some extent.

Picking up on her wistful tone, he queried, “You sound sad. Did something happen?”

“You could say that. I…well,” the blonde soldier smiled wryly at the cyan-eyed man. “I fell in love with the captain, or so I thought.”

Although he felt that she’d punched him in the gut, he couldn’t fault her for feeling that way for the veteran. “You thought what? What happened?”

“I thought I was in love with him. It wasn’t him, but the idea of him that I loved. I was younger then, still wet behind the ears. Something later made me realize that it was just a silly crush,” explained Petra, her warm chocolate-brown eyes never leaving Eren. Something about the way Petra looked at him made the younger soldier feel as if she was searching for something,

“What made you realize that?”

“I was a coward, Eren,” started the blonde woman. Holding up her hand to silence the other before he could verbally disagree, she then continued, “If I truly loved him, I would have found the courage to tell him how I felt no matter the outcome. But I didn’t, and I got over the silly little crush. I have nothing but the upmost respect for him.”

Casting his vibrant gaze down at the table, his eyes went unfocused as he thought about what she’d said and how he felt about it. The first thing he’d felt was…relief. He knew exactly why he felt that, but what he didn’t seem to know was if he had a crush or not.

“Are you in love with him, Eren?” Asked Petra, her kind eyes watching him closely.

Caught off guard by her unexpected question, he whipped his head around to gawk at her with wide, bewildered eyes. “Um, what?”

Placing a gentle hand on his shoulder, Petra replied, “A girl can tell, you know. It’s perfectly fine if you love him. In fact, I think you should go for it…when you’re ready, of course.”

Love? Was Eren in love with Levi? He didn’t know since he’d never felt such a thing before. Sure, he loved his friends (even Jean), but even he knew it wasn’t the same type of love. He’d dated a few people before and though he’d liked them well enough, it sure as hell hadn’t been love if you went by how others described romantic love. There hadn’t been much chemistry and whenever it had ended, it hadn’t felt good, but it hadn’t felt that bad, either.

“I have to get back to work, Eren, but it was nice talking to you. Just think about what I said, okay?” Petra said as she leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. Before she pulled away, she whispered, “He would be so lucky to have you.”

Standing up, the blonde woman placed her apron back on and tied it before walking back to her station.

Eren didn’t have long to stew in his own thoughts before a familiar voice practically shouted his name. “Eren FREAKING Vogel!”

Turning his head in the direction of the obnoxious voice, Eren saw Jean standing about twenty or so feet away with his hands on his hips. “Jean?”

Quickly striding over to the green-eyed soldier, Jean sat down across from him looking like he had nearly spotted a specter. “Of all the people I expected to see today, it wasn’t your ass. Man, how the hell have you been?”

As if by reflex, Eren automatically said, “I’m fine.”

“Oh yeah? Last time I saw you, you looked like death,” spat out Jean, obviously not buying the other man’s mechanical answer. Glancing around the mess hall, the brown-eyed man looked back at Eren inquisitively. “What are you doing here?”

“Training,” said Eren with a shrug.

Intense brown eyes scrutinized the other soldier then; Jean regarded the other with a strange look that Eren had never seen before on said man’s face. He looked…concerned? No, it was more than that, but he still wasn’t certain what.

Disconcerted by the other male’s ardent gaze, Eren asked, “What?”

“Can’t I just be happy to see you, you jerk?” Snapped Jean as he crossed his arms like a petulant child.

“Not when it’s you,” insulted the viridian-eyed man, a hint of a smirk on his lips.

Normally such a jibe would have set Jean off, but instead, he sighed and shook his head. “We were all worried about you, you ass. Six months and no word. Now, I know that’s not your fault. Your…cousins, are the real assholes for keeping you from us.”

Averting his eyes, Eren murmured, “I still don’t understand why they did that.”

Jean indicated that he was just as lost as the other soldier regarding the cousins. Brushing them aside, he then asked, “Are you okay, though? Connie and Sasha told us you needed more time. I’m not mad or anything, just…”

“I miss you guys,” confessed Eren, his jade eyes everywhere but on his friend. “It’s nothing personal. I just need…a little more time. I was isolated from people for so long that…even now, I feel like there’s too many people in this room.”

Glancing around the room, Jean spotted maybe ten people or else sitting at tables or walking around. Running his hand through his two-toned hair, he sighed heavily. “You better listen up, Vogel, because I’m not going to say this again.”

Snapping his vivid green eyes back to Jean, he kept his undivided attention on the taller man.

Once green eyes had locked with brown, Jean demanded, “Don’t die for us. You did more than enough. Stop being a suicidal bastard and just…live. You deserve it, Eren.”

Jean’s words resonated something within him that he didn’t completely understand. It was like a déjà vu feeling, one that he’d felt before on occasion. Where it came from and why he sometimes felt this strange way, he didn’t know.

“I don’t want to die,” stated Eren as he broke eye contact. The moment the words left his mouth, he felt that déjà vu feeling strike him again. He’d never said those words in his life, not even once as a joke, and still they sounded familiar to him as if he’d spoken those words before to someone.

“You won’t as long as I’m alive,” promised a low voice at the same time a hand lightly grasped Eren’s shoulder.

Startled from the sudden appearance of Levi, Eren jumped a bit in his seat. Ymir damn it, the man had this incredible knack for always being able to sneak up on him. If the older man were a hitman, Eren would have been killed weeks ago.

“Levi,” greeted Jean sheepishly with a polite nod of his head. There was some familiarity there and it confused Eren. How did Jean know Levi…?

Nodding back as he made brief eye contact with Jean, the captain then patted Eren on the shoulder. “I have some work to do, so we should get going, Eren. I’ll be outside waiting.”

As soon as the slate-eyed man had disappeared from view, Eren looked at Jean suspiciously. “How do you know Levi?”

Scratching his head, Jean shrugged dismissively. “We’ve met before.”

“Met him where?” Eren pressed.

“In a gay bar trying to score other dudes,” Jean said sarcastically.

Knowing full well that his friend was one hundred percent heterosexual, Eren rolled his eyes. “No, really. Cut the shit and tell me already.”

His turn to roll his eyes, Jean then said, “I ran into him about…uh, I think a month ago? I literally…ran into his motorcycle with my car. He wasn’t on it, don’t worry. But yeah…the dude was pissed as hell, and I thought he was going to kill me.”

Ah, so that explained why at the VA, Levi had been chauffeured by his sister for a bit.

“You’re lucky to be alive, Gerst. He kicks my ass every day,” Eren rubbed in, smirking a little.

Jean quickly shot back, “Good. Glad someone can actually beat your dumb ass.”

Rising up from his seat, Eren picked up his empty bottle and stated, “I should go. See you around, horse—”

Hopping up from his seat, Jean rushed around the table to crush Eren in a one-armed hug. Voice sounding strangely hoarse, the taller man said, “I’m glad you’re okay, Eren. Don’t be a stranger, okay?”

And with that, Jean broke the embrace to quickly walk away, leaving a stunned Eren staring after him.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Several hours later, face buried in his folded arms at the dining table, Eren was content to listen to the quick tapping of fingers on a laptop’s keyboard. Just like how he rode his bike, Levi typed with demon speed most people would surely marvel at. After a while, the older man ceased typing and though Eren couldn’t see him, he could feel his piercing eyes on him.

“Go to bed, brat. That looks uncomfortable as hell,” remarked the captain as he shut the laptop. Whether he was finished with whatever he was doing, or just taking a break to deal with him, the green-eyed soldier didn’t know.

Eren mumbled, “Don’t wanna.”

“So, you’re…just going to sleep there?” Questioned Levi, his voice still patient despite the other’s childlike response.

“Mhm,” hummed the younger man. Although his body was tired, his mind was far from it. His thoughts often raced, especially at night when he had nothing to do. Draped over the table for about an hour or so now, he’d been silently obsessing over the things Petra had said and Jean’s strange behavior, as well.

“There’s only one way I’m letting you fuck up your back, and it won’t be from a table,” informed the older man. Voice suddenly near the younger man’s ear, he whispered low, “It’ll be from a bed.”

Before Eren could properly process such a brazen statement, he felt two hands heave him up into the air as if he weighed nothing. An undignified noise of surprise slipped past his lips before he could stop it as he was lifted up. Eyes snapping open, he realized the older man was carrying him bridal style. He was actually kind of amazed that Levi hadn’t slung him over his shoulder like a barbarian would a wench.

“You’re an ass,” protested Eren. “Okay, put me down already. You made your point, warden.”

Ignoring Eren, the silver-eyed man continued to walk, his grip on the other male unrelenting even though he struggled to break free from it. Kicking the door to Eren’s bedroom open, Levi strode in and headed straight for the bed. When he had the younger male directly above it, he released him, but didn’t take into consideration that Eren might cling to his neck and shoulder.

Using the momentum of his weight and abrupt release (not to mention hooking his leg behind Levi’s knee) Eren tumbled down on the bed with Levi. Despite the shock of the action, the veteran proved his prowess as a soldier by falling without colliding onto the younger man. As quick and surprising as the fall had been, his lightning reflexes had served him well enough that each limb had managed to strike the mattress instead of the other person.

Landing on his back as his arms fell away from the taller male, Eren chuckled low in his throat when he’d succeeded in bringing down the other soldier with him. His victory was short lived when he realized just how awkward and arousing such a position was for him. While Eren was sprawled out on his back, Levi was above him, hands and knees boxing the other in.

Well, in hindsight, maybe that hadn’t been the best idea depending on which part of his body you asked.

Flawless ink black hair hanging, Levi peered down at the viridian-eyed man, his expression closed off, as usual. “You brat.”

Although the desire to touch Levi burned in him, his arms were anchored at his sides like they were made of lead. His heart pounded so hard in his chest that he could hear it beating in his ears, almost certain that the taller man could hear it, too.

Shifting the majority of his weight to his left hand, Levi lifted his right hand to slowly brush some errant strands of chocolate hair out of the other’s eyes. Gazing down at the younger man, Eren thought he saw fondness ghosting those silver orbs. “Are you always this insufferable?”

“Stay the night and you’ll find out,” jested Eren even though a large part of him wasn’t actually joking. It almost scared him with just how serious he felt in that moment even though he played it off as a joke. This was the kind of joking he might have done with his other friends, but with Levi, it didn’t feel like a joke to him.

Watching Eren with that guarded visage of his, Levi placed his right hand back on the mattress. Leaning over, lips barely a hairsbreadth away from his ear, he then spoke low, his voice sounding a little rougher than normal. “You wouldn’t survive me. I would eat you alive.”

Whether it was meant to or not, his words and the intensity of that hooded steel gaze sent spikes of heat that assaulted Eren’s body. Joke or not, the long-haired man didn’t doubt the other man’s words at all. Whenever Levi talked, it made him question what was actually serious and what was really a joke. Sometimes he wondered if the older man was deliberately flirting with him or was just being a teasing ass like his other friends tended to be.

In the next moment, Levi had gingerly repositioned himself until he was no longer above the younger man. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he made no move to leave just yet. Staring at nothing in particular, he used one hand to smooth out his hair.

Slowly rising to a sitting position, Eren felt dizzy while his body felt hotter than what was normal for him.  Ymir damn it, Levi was going to kill him one of these days. Watching the older man, he couldn’t help wondering how his hair felt and how it would feel to run his hands against his undercut and into his hair. Couldn’t help wondering just how other parts of him felt, like the scar on his face or his soft looking lips. Better yet, how did it feel when he—no, no. Mentally berating himself, Eren knew that he needed to stop thinking about all that and fast before he did or said something else stupid.

Desperately needing a distraction, any distraction, to help prevent himself from ruining a good friendship, Eren wracked his fuzzy brain for anything. There was something he’d been meaning to ask him, but it was personal. He wasn’t even sure if that would be allowed or not. Not one for being a coward, Eren decided to just go with it despite feeling hesitant.

“Levi? Can I ask you something?”

Without looking at the shorter man, the captain murmured, “You don’t need to tip toe around me, brat. Just ask whatever it is. The worst thing I’ll do is not answer it.”

Fair enough. Releasing a breath, he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, Eren stated, “You never talk about your sister…or anyone else from your family. I was just wondering if you’d be willing to talk about any of them.”

At Eren’s statements, the veteran turned his head to finally look at the younger male. “Why do you want to know?”

Eren shrugged. “I already told you before, I want to know you. Is that really so strange?”

Levi said nothing as he leaned over a bit, resting his elbows on his knees. He was quiet for a while and Eren almost gave up on him continuing the conversation when the captain finally said, “My sister, her name is Mikasa, is…around your age. She’s technically my step-sister by marriage and cousin by blood.”

Attention snagged by the older man, Eren tried not to appear too eager as he straightened up. “Wait, how did that happen?”

“Mikasa’s father died in a car accident when she was barely a newborn. Her mother had no family here since she was estranged from her clan. They disowned her when she married and had a child with an Eldian.”

Something about that made him think about his own absentee parents. It wasn’t exactly the same, but it sure as hell felt relatable to him. “That’s fucked up.”

“Yeah. Three hundred years later and people are still bigoted assholes,” muttered the raven-haired man almost as if he were talking to himself.

There was definitely some baggage there; however, Eren wisely decided not to root around in it. “So, what did her mother do?”

“My mother, an Andersen by blood like Mikasa’s father, took her in. It was only meant to be temporary until Asa could get back on her feet,” explained the captain. Gunmetal eyes then flicked over to Eren for the first time since he’d began divulging his past. “A year later, my mother married Mikasa’s mother.”

Eren felt floored by that knowledge enough to lapse into a brief silence. Realizing the veteran hadn’t mentioned a father, he then inquired, “What about your father?”

At the mention of his father, the older man looked away. Although his face remained characteristically stoic, the only dead giveaway about how he felt was the subtle clenching of his jaw.  “I don’t know who he is, and I don’t care.”

“That’s a shame that he wasn’t around to see what a good man you’ve become,” remarked Eren. He was well aware that he didn’t know everything about Levi and had barely known him a month, but he was the type to give people the benefit of the doubt. From what he’d seen so far, the older man had done nothing but prove that he was a good, caring man.

Voice calm and quiet, Levi revealed, “If he had had his way, I would haven’t been born.”

Viridian eyes widened in shock before quickly morphing into sickened outrage. “Are you fucking serious? What an asshole!”

Looking back at the younger man, the captain explained, “He wasn’t the only one. My mother’s brother also pressured her to do it, too. When that didn’t work, they both left her.”

Whatever heat that had been simmering in his body was shunted like fingers to a candleflame. An icy cold feeling of uneasiness speared relentlessly throughout his body, causing his chest to feel tight and heavy. Just the idea of Levi never having been born felt akin to having all hope smashed to pieces in front of him. If Levi’s mother had surrendered to their ill wills, then the man beside him wouldn’t be here today or even tomorrow. He didn’t know how the older man had found out about such a cruel truth, but what he did know that if Eren himself had discovered it, it would have messed with his head.

Reminding himself that Levi hadn’t been aborted, and was very much still alive right beside him, he professed, “I’m glad she didn’t go through with it. She sounds like a strong woman.”

Levi nodded. “She is, and so is Asa.”

Thinking about the older man being surrounded by females in the household, he grinned. “So basically, you were the man of the house.”

“They both juggled multiple jobs to pay the bills. That left me with taking care of an infant when I wasn’t in school. Felt more like a live-in maid,” snorted Levi indignantly.

Eren smiled a bit at the image of the older man changing diapers as a teenager and chasing after an unruly toddler. “That explains why you’re so patient and good with kid—sorry, I mean, brats. You’d make a good father, Levi.”

“If you say so,” muttered the raven-haired solider with a shake of his head. Though his face didn’t show it, Eren could tell that the veteran had been amused by his comment from his body language alone.

Thinking about the faceless girl now, he next wondered if the girl was anything like her brother. “What’s your sister like?”

“Like me in some ways, but different. She clung to me for a good chunk of her childhood until I left at eighteen. It took her years to forgive me for ‘abandoning her’, as she called it back then,” answered the older man, his slate eyes lost to old memory. “She got over it and eventually understood that I had joined the military at eighteen to help support them.”

Touched by just how much Levi had cared (and obviously still cared) about his family, Eren observed, “That was a very honorable thing you did, Levi.”

Looking back at the shorter man, the captain changed the subject. “Why did you join the military, Eren?”

Eren shrugged. “I live in Paradis and my parents are Jägerists. They have been pushing me towards the military ever since I could walk. So yeah, the moment I turned eighteen, I enlisted because my parents wanted me to, not because I needed to like you did.”

“I don’t agree with that. Pressure is still pressure even if the reasons differ, Eren.”

That was true enough now that that had been pointed out to him. He’d been groomed all his life to be a soldier by his family while Levi had become one for his family. Eren had been pushed so much about it that he hadn’t been given any real opportunity to dream about other life choices. Levi had probably been too distracted and worn out by his own home life to even think about dreaming.

Wondering what kind of people, they’d both be, had they chosen differently, Eren asked, “Do you regret becoming a solider?”

“No. Do you regret it?”

Eren thought about the new friends he’d made in the military, the very same friends he’d nearly lost. If he hadn’t been there, if he hadn’t ended his leave early…then they would all probably be dead. Most of them grew up in Paradis, too, and had been pushed just as much as him to join the military. With or without him, Connie and Sasha would have probably joined anyway. Because he had enlisted, he had been able to be there for them when they needed him most. Despite what some might think, Eren didn’t have a god complex. He knew that he was mortal and was far from perfect. The truth of it all was that his love for his comrades is what had truly motivated him so much so that he was willing to risk limb or life for them. Then there was Levi. Eren would probably never have encountered the man had they both not been soldiers. So, did he regret joining?

“The only thing I regret is not punching Floch out years ago.”

“That’s my brat,” praised Levi as he reached over to affectionately mess up Eren’s hair.

Shoving the older man’s arm away from his head, Eren complained, “Ugh, stop doing that. I’m not a dog.”

“If you were a dog, I wouldn’t be touching you at all,” snorted the raven-haired man as he slowly rose from the bed. Walking to the open doorway, he paused all movement when he heard the younger man call out his name.

The moment the taller man had looked over his shoulder at him, Eren said, “Thanks for telling me all that, Levi.”

Acknowledging Eren’s statement with a nod, Levi bid, “Good night, Eren.”

Eren felt immensely grateful that the older man trusted him enough to disclose the truth of his troubled past to him. He had the distinct feeling that the reserved man didn’t often, if at all, share such personal things with others. Suddenly wanting the veteran to walk away with something, he called out again, “Levi?”

“Hm?”

One of the things that Eren had been obsessing over was the day they'd met up with his friends. It had initially seemed like a joke and the green-eyed man had brushed it off in that moment, but afterwards...he just couldn't shake it off. Levi's words had been playing in his head, as if on repeat: 

So brat, I must know. Do you think I’m cute?

“Two days ago, you know when you asked me that question?” Started Eren and though Levi’s back was to him, he could tell the taller man was listening intently. Remembering what Petra had told him, Eren then continued, “Uh, you were…probably just messing with me again, but yeah…the answer is yes.”

Hand coming up to grip the casing of the doorway, the captain silently stood there for several long moments as if he were conflicted about leaving. In the end, he released it and murmured quietly, “Good night, Eren,” and left, his retreating footsteps almost as silent as the very house itself.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter Text

Clad only in black boxer briefs, Eren stood in front of the mirror in his room scrutinizing the current state of his body. This was the first time in a while that he’d stopped to really look at himself. Remembering how emaciated he had previously looked, he shuddered in repulsion. Looking at himself now, he could clearly see that he had filled out a great deal. Body no longer skeletal, it was actually closer now to the ripped side. His Adonis belt was much more defined now and he even had his abs back, too.

Eren didn’t notice it right away, but when he did, he felt speechless. Looking down at his tanned left thigh, he noticed that the horrible scarring was nearly nonexistent. Running his fingertips over the healed injury, he barely felt the raised skin at all. Although he’d never had scars before, he knew that they shouldn’t look like this, especially if they were new. Considering the scars on Levi’s face were over ten years old, it made very little sense for the heavy scarring on Eren’s left leg to have reduced as much as it had. So how could such a thing be? Maybe he'd ask Hanji about it the next time he saw her. 

Even though he wasn’t particularly a vain person, it still felt nice to no longer have to look at the ugly reminder of an incident where he’d nearly died. A day he would have lost everyone had he not resorted to quick thinking and sacrifice…

A sudden rapping on the door startled Eren out of his melancholic reverie. He relaxed once he realized it was just Levi. Though muffled because of the barrier between them, he heard the older man ask, “Are you ready yet?”

“Uh, no, I’m still kinda naked.”

Imitating the sound of a ticking clock, Levi tapped on the door. “Tch. That figures. Hurry up, brat.”

“Okay, just give me five minutes,” called Eren before he poked his head in the closet. Snatching a black V-neck, he slipped it on over his head. The shirt was now incredibly snug on him, almost feeling too tight for him. Before the bombing incident, the shirt had been slightly loose on his frame. Inwardly shrugging at the revelation, he next grabbed a pair of athletic fit dark blue jeans. Same thing as the shirt, the pants were tighter than he preferred. Since they were already athletic fit, they had already slightly hugged his ass and thighs, but now they fit him more like skinny jeans. Tugging at the crotch of the jeans, he adjusted himself as well as he could. Damn, if he got a boner while wearing these, there would be no hiding it.

Pulling his hair back into a loose bun, he tied it and then stepped back in front of the mirror. Scrutinizing his reflection, he decided that it was good enough. He didn’t look bad, really, and if anything, he kinda looked good.

After pulling on some socks and shoes, he grabbed his wallet and phone before opening the door. Head tilted and arms crossed, Levi was leaning against the wall across from Eren’s room. He looked…very nice, almost too nice, dressed in black slacks, a white dress shirt, and a dark grey vest. He realized he had been openly ogling the older man when he heard him cough to get his attention. Ymir damn it.

“You take longer than my sister to get ready,” pointed out the older man as he pushed off from the wall to approach the slighter male.

Half smiling, Eren apologized, “Sorry, I got distracted by something.”

Backing Eren back into his room, silver eyes swept critically over his form as he circled him. “You’re going like that?”

Trying not to focus on the fact that the other man was very close to him and checking him out (even if it wasn’t sexual on Levi’s part), Eren asked, “Yeah, why?”

“Do you not own a dress shirt or a blazer?” Queried Levi after he’d stopped in front of the younger soldier.

Briefly recalling what he actually did own, Eren then shook his head as he shrugged. “Why does it matter? It’s not like we’re going to a fancy restaurant or something.”

Tch. This woman hasn’t seen you in half a year and has invited you to dinner. You should look like you’re going to dinner, not a bar.”

“She’s not going to care, Levi.”

Ignoring Eren’s comment, the older man then questioned, “What is that on your shirt?”

Looking down at his chest, Eren noticed the kanji writing with the image of some dark-haired male anime character. “Oh. Some old anime shirt.”

“Anime,” sighed Levi quietly, looking like he was tempted to roll his eyes. “Isabel loves that shit. If she sees that shirt, she’ll rip it off your body.”

“Duly noted,” said the long-haired man. Catching the name, he then cocked his head in interest. “Who’s Isabel?”

Looking away from the tight-fitting shirt, the captain then distractedly replied, “A friend. I’m sure…you’ll meet her soon enough.”

Eren raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms. “I thought you only had one friend?”

“One friend that is an idiot. Farlan and Isabel aren’t like Hanji,” corrected the taller male and before Eren could question him further, the older man ordered, “Stay right there. I’ll be right back.”

With Levi gone, it gave him some more time to reflect on the night before once again. After he’d woken up, everything had come crashing back down upon him. Eren had practically told the other man that he had a thing for him by admitting that he thought he was cute. Calling someone attractive didn’t necessary equate to being sexually attracted; however, with that being said, most men didn’t call each other cute unless they were into each other. The raven-haired man wasn’t an idiot; he had to know by now that Eren didn’t view him platonically.

Eren had initially worried that Levi would act differently, but thankfully, the man acted towards him how he did every single day. There was no judgment or awkwardness of any kind on Levi’s part. Although things were pretty much the same, Eren still sensed a slight change in their relationship. The change, however subtle, was more about closeness and vulnerability. Levi had opened up to him by sharing information about himself that he didn’t broadcast to most people. He felt closer to the other man and couldn’t help wondering if Levi felt the same way in that regard, at least.

Glancing at his open door, Eren noticed that there was some damage to the casing of the doorway. Moving closer to it to get a better look, he reached out and touched it with his fingertips. Had he damaged it and if so, when? Inspecting it closer, the green-eyed man ruled himself out. No, it looked like fingers had done that type of damage, which meant it had been Levi.

It stunned him to know that the older man had gripped the casing that hard, hard enough to show damage. Had he been angry? No, it couldn’t be. His body language at the time had indicated anything but anger. So, what then…?

Before Eren could continue his train of thought, the older man had returned. Stepping away from the doorway, jade green eyes zeroed in on what the other man was delicately carrying in his hands. An impeccable looking dark green dress shirt hanging off of a hanger.

“As nice as you do look in my clothes, let’s not make this a regular habit,” recommended Levi as he gingerly handed over the shirt to the younger man.

The damn thing was so flawless that there wasn’t even the idea of a winkle in it. It looked like it had been carefully ironed. Glancing at the captain, he also noticed that the man’s attire looked just as stunningly clean and neat. Thinking back to everything he’d witnessed Levi wearing, even his t-shirts had appeared wrinkle free. Although this actually didn’t bother Eren, it still amused him to an extent.

Peering down at the dress shirt, Eren teased, “Do you iron everything?”

Staring at Eren as if he had just rolled around in mud, Levi retorted, “I iron whenever it is necessary.”

“So, everything then,” said a smirking Eren.

Levi sighed. “Whatever, brat. Just put it on. Don’t make me do it myself.”

“I dunno, if you try to force it on me, that might cause…wrinkles,” pointed out the younger man in jest.

The withering look sent his way had Eren quickly holding his free hand up in capitulation. Hanging the dress shirt on the doorknob of the closet, he then used both hands to peel the V-neck off before he tossed it onto his bed. More carefully than he had with his own shirt, Eren unbuttoned the dark green dress shirt before he slipped it on. It glided against his bare skin like a caress, feeling softer than he had thought it would be. Although the dress shirt was undeniably clean and ironed, he could still smell Levi’s unique scent clinging to it, nevertheless. Wanting to get this over faster, the long-haired man made quick work of buttoning it up. Once he was finished, he turned to look at Levi as he held his arms out, silently asking him how he looked.

“You could have worn your shirt underneath that,” pointed out Levi though there was clear approval in those steel-colored depths. Perhaps it was just Eren’s imagination, but the older man sounded slightly strained.

“Too late. My filth is now on your shirt. Deal with it,” said the younger man. Glancing down at the untucked shirt, he then inquired, “Should I tuck it in?”

“Either way is fine, but this,” Levi said as he approached Eren. Reaching around the slighter man, the veteran gently tugged the hair tie out and watched as long chocolate brown locks tumbled free. “This is better.”

Hyperaware of just how close the older man was to him, Eren felt his pulse quicken. Did Levi like him better with his hair down? People had remarked before that he looked better with his hair free, but he hadn’t cared what they’d thought. Unlike how he felt towards those people, Eren actually did care about what Levi thought. Even though part of it was because he deeply respected the older man, he realized he was similar to those girls that strove to look good for their boyfriends. It was such a strange practice, and he wasn’t sure if he liked it or not. With anyone else that he’d liked or dated, he’d never cared much before if they liked his hair or the style of clothes he wore.

“Ready to go?”

Knocked out of his reverie by the other, Eren dumbly responded, “Huh?”

Standing beside the younger man, Levi ever so lightly placed his hand against the other’s lower back, guiding Eren out of the room. “Come on before your friends accuse me of holding you hostage.”

Trying his damnedest not to react to the featherlight touch, Eren couldn’t help wishing that such an accusation would come true.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

“Oh, Eren, baby!” Happily squealed a blonde, middle-aged short woman the moment he walked into the Spencer household.  Rushing to greet him, the blonde woman nearly ran over Connie and Sasha on the way over. Like a burglar suddenly surrounded by the law, the long-haired man halted all movement and stared in shock.

Nearly tumbling over, Connie instantly complained, “Damn, Ma! You trying to kill me?”

Beside him, Sasha elbowed her friend hard enough in the ribs to get his attention. Once he looked at her, the brown-haired girl pressed a pointer finger to her lips and quietly shushed Connie.

Not noticing her own son cursing, Connie’s mother threw her arms around Eren and hugged him tight. It was an embrace so strong that it could rival most men.

Reluctantly releasing the green-eyed soldier from her death hold, Connie’s mother smiled up warmly at him. “Welcome home, Eren.”

“It’s good to see you again, too, Mrs. Spencer,” greeted Eren, meaning every single word of it. Offering her a small smile, he included, “I missed you, too.”

The blonde lady wagged a finger at Eren as she scolded, “How many times do I have to tell you? Just Molly is fine. Or mom. I won’t complain which one you choose to use.”

A cough behind Eren reminded him that Levi was still standing just outside the door. Clearing his own throat, the cyan-eyed man politely gestured for the woman to step aside. “Uh, Mrs. Spencer, if you don’t mind…?”

“Oh, of course!” Exclaimed Molly before briskly stepping aside to allow Eren more entrance into her house.

Stepping more fully into the house, the green-eyed soldier didn’t go far due to not wanting to abandon Levi since he was technically a stranger here. Coming to stand beside the younger male, the captain’s hand accidentally brushed against the other’s hand. Ignoring the jolt of electricity that he'd felt from the simple, accidental touch, Eren kept his gaze trained on the blonde woman. 

Once she spotted Levi, her amber eyes lit up with joy and recognition. It wasn’t long before she stood before the captain to greet him. When he politely offered her his hand to shake, Molly clasped it in both of her hands. “You must be the boyfriend. I’m sorry, dear, I don’t remember your name…”

Eren shot a murderous look at Connie, which quickly died when he noticed the shocked, embarrassed expression on his friend’s face. Glancing at Sasha, the woman looked both surprised and clueless as she shrugged at him.

Ma! I told you like a hundred times that Eren and the prick he was dating broke up over a year ago,” corrected Connie in exasperation, hands rubbing at his face. Gesturing towards the older man, the shortest of the three men then introduced, “This is Captain Levi Andersen. I told you about him, Ma, remember?”

“Oh, sorry, dear. All I remembered was the boyfriend was handsome and had black hair. I guess I forgot,” lightly laughed Molly as she released the veteran’s captive hand. She then fully focused her attention back on the silver-eyed man and apologized, “I apologize for my mistake, captain. You two just looked so nice together that I just assumed…anyway, it’s a pleasure to meet you, of course.”

Levi’s face was just as indifferent as it always was as he merely said, “It’s fine.”

“Such a kind, forgiving, handsome man,” complimented the blonde-haired woman with a wink.

Yeah, Levi was all those things and more, Eren thought silently to himself. Whether it was the dim, homey lighting of the room or something else, he also thought he saw a light dusting of red on the older man’s face.

Switching her attention to Eren, she studied him closely. “Oh, you look so nice, Eren! So handsome. I’m blessed to be around three handsome men and a lovely lady.”

Eren chanced a glance at Levi and instantly regretted it once he saw the ‘I told you so’ expression on the raven-haired man’s face. The regret vaporized the moment the captain offered him a small, genuine smile.

That smile alone made Eren happy to be proven wrong.

Clapping her hands, the blonde woman announced, “All right, everyone, I must get back to the kitchen. I’ve run behind a bit, but dinner should be ready in a half hour. Feel free to make yourselves at home.”

As soon as Connie’s mother flew back into the kitchen, Sasha collapsed on the couch and groaned as if she were dying. “I’m so hungry, I could diiiiiie!”

“You’ll live, Sash,” sighed Connie. Looking bored and restless, he then proposed, ”Hey, let’s play a game until dinner is done. You in, Eren?

Not really in the mood to play video games, Eren started to shake his head when a hand clapped him on the shoulder. He then looked at the owner of said hand, which was the man that stood beside him. Leaning in, he talked low so that only Eren would hear, “Just play with them, Eren. I have to make a call, anyway.”

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

A few minutes later in Connie’s room, Eren was seated on Connie’s bed with his back against the headboard. Having opted out of the zombie game that they were playing, he stared at the television screen with unfocused eyes. Connie and Sasha were on the floor with their backs pressed against the bed as they gamed.

“What the actual fuck! The challenge says special zombies come twice as often and regular zombies come in light waves, but does that look light to you?! It’s a fucking nonstop, never-ending army, man. This is some bullshit. It must be glitched or something,” complained the amber-eyed soldier after they’d died for the tenth time in a row.

Nodding her head, Sasha agreed, “Yeah, we played this yesterday, and it was easier. It must be a glitch.”

Looking behind him at Eren, Connie frowned once he noticed the troubled expression on his face. “Hey, you okay, Eren?”

Hearing his name, the viridian-eyed soldier snapped out of his never-ending thoughts. “Huh?”

“I asked if you were okay.”

Eren shrugged nonchalantly. “Yeah…I’m fine. Just have a lot on my mind.”

Turning off both the tv and game console, Connie crawled onto the bed to sit beside his male best friend. “Lay it on me, Manbun-San.”

Eren rolled his eyes at the ridiculous nickname. Ever since he grew his hair out and started putting it up, Connie had dubbed him as Manbun-San.

Heaving herself up from the ground, Sasha plopped herself down on Eren’s other side, leaning on him slightly.

“I know we’ve been teasing you lately, but you know we don’t mean anything by it. Whatever it is, if you want to talk about it, we’re here,” offered the shorter male, his face matching his earnest voice.

Maybe…he should talk about it. Eren knew he could trust them both with pretty much anything. It would certainly help to get some of this stuff off his chest and hopefully figure out some answers, too. He couldn’t exactly talk about it with the older man, for obvious reasons. At least not yet, anyway.

After a deep exhale, Eren revealed, “Okay, well, it’s mostly about Levi.”

Watching Eren’s face, the brown-eyed woman tilted her head curiously. Apparently noticing something, she bluntly stated, “You like him.”

“Um, yeah, I do,” confessed the green-eyed man, his expression calm and solemn. As he said the words, he felt a tremendous amount of weight tumble down from his shoulders. It was almost like holding your breath for a long time and then finally allowing yourself to breathe again. It felt like such a relief to finally tell someone, and it helped that his friends were refraining from teasing him.

Adjusting his pillow to support his back, Connie asked, “So what’s the problem? The Eren we know would have jumped that already. You were never shy about asking someone you liked out.”

Eren smiled wryly at that since it was true considering he was a brave dumb ass at times. Every person Eren had dated was because he himself had taken the initiative to make the first move. “At first I thought it was because I didn’t want to ruin our friendship. I love you guys, but it’s nice being around someone older and more mature, for a change.”

Nodding in support, Sasha pressed, “So what then?”

"I don’t know if I’m ready yet, honestly. Part of me feels like I am, but something is holding me back. I think I know what it is,” admitted the long-haired man, feeling cramped and restless sitting on the bed between his best friends. Crawling out from between his friends, he then slipped off the bed and walked over to the window. Leaning against the wall near the window, he gazed outside and realized that Levi was outside in the yard on his phone, his back to the house.

“What is it?” Inquired both Connie and Sasha in union, both now sitting on the edge of the bed watching their troubled friend.

Viridian orbs never leaving the captain, Eren murmured, “I don’t want to hurt him.”

“Hurt him how exactly? You’re always nice to the people you date,” pointed out the golden-eyed man.

Still fresh in his memory, the green-eyed male recalled just how starved and isolated he had been then. Looking in the mirror that night in his old room had been a rude awakening of sorts for him. Rather than scold him for it, or even point it out, Levi had taken a different approach and it had worked. “When I was at my lowest, which wasn’t too long ago, let me remind you, he swooped in. He didn’t have to, but he helped me find myself again. I’m not saying that I still don’t have a ways to go, I do, but…thanks to him, I’m doing the things I should be doing.”

Sasha agreed, “Yeah, I remember when your cousins finally let us see you. I barely recognized you. It was scary. We thought…”

“That we were losing you again,” finished Connie quietly. Running a hand over his head, the shorter male commented, “That guy has a way about him, for sure.”

“I’m sorry about that, I truly am. And yeah, he does have a way about him. Which brings me to my next point,” agreed Eren as he glanced over his shoulder at his best friends for a moment. Looking back out the window, he continued, “I admire him…like he’s my hero or something. I’m afraid that what this is, what I’m feeling, is some kind of transference. I’m not sure…if I like him for him, or just like him for caring for me if that makes sense.”

“Transference?” Asked both of his friends in unison.

“Yeah, it’s the opposite of the Florence Nightingale Effect. Transference is when the patient develops romantic or sexual feelings for his or her caregiver. It’s not really an actual medical thing, but I’ve read some cases on it. It’s a possibility,” clarified the long-haired solider. It was a possibility that he hoped wasn’t happening here.

“So, it’s kinda like when the damsel falls for the hero?” Questioned Sasha.

Eren replied, “I guess so. She doesn’t fall for him because she loves him. She falls for him because of the idea of him and what he did and can do for her. I don't want to...start something with him only to realize that I'm not actually into him. If he likes me, I don't want to risk hurting him."

Sliding off the bed, Connie walked over to stand beside Eren, followed closely by Sasha. “Do you think he has it, too?”

“I don’t know. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not blind or that oblivious. He’s not exactly subtle, but he’s not broadcasting it, either. I think he does like me, but he holds himself back,” answered Eren.

Looking at the taller man, Connie said, “If you ask me, I think he’s waiting for you to make the first move.”

“Maybe, but I’m not doing anything until I know for sure. I just don’t know…how to go about finding out,” admitted Eren with a shrug.

“Why don’t you get to know him better?” Suggested Sasha.

“I have been asking him things about himself. I’m trying not to barrage him with questions, though,” replied the cyan-eyed man.

Peering around Eren to watch the captain turn and head back into the house, the brown-haired woman murmured, “That’s good, at least.”

A brief silence passed between them, all lost to their own thoughts as they waited for dinner to be done.

Leaning on Eren, Sasha then proposed, “You could ask him what he likes to do for fun and do those things with him if he’s up to it. You should do those things without us, though.”

That…that wasn’t such a terrible idea. Levi tended to go along with whatever Eren wanted to do. Thinking more on it, he realized that their days and nights revolved more around Eren’s needs and his own friends than anything else, really. When was the last time his newest friend had done something that he enjoyed doing?

“That’s actually a good idea, Sasha. Thanks, I’ll do that,” thanked Eren as he looked to his right to smile at his female best friend. Turning his head to look at Connie, he added, “Thanks for listening, too, man. This…has actually helped, I think.”

“Anytime,” responded Connie as he playfully bumped shoulders with his male friend. “You know, everyone misses you. Even Jean. He asks about you all the time. Hell, even Ymir misses you and you know how she is.”

Eren thought about the others, which made his chest ache in longing. With exception to Jean, who had recently seen him, the green-eyed soldier missed all of his comrades. Although he’d known most of them for only a few years, he cared for them all deeply, nevertheless. The more he thought about them, the more he longed to be near them all again. They had been a team, a great team and not being around them these past six months made him feel increasingly hollow inside. So why was he keeping them at arm’s length, anyway? Because he wasn’t ready? That was bullshit. He knew he needed to stop pussyfooting around and meet his problems head on like he used to. Seeing Jean had made him realize that this wasn’t just about him, it was about them all. They were hurting, in their own ways, and were worried about him.

“I miss them, too,” murmured Eren. Turning around and stepping back to face them fully, he gazed at his two best friends, his bright eyes blazing with determination. “So, let’s go see them tomorrow. That includes horseface.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

True to their promise to Eren, during dinner, Connie and Sasha had behaved…mostly. When they thought nobody was looking, they would both sneak knowing little glances at Eren and Levi. To be fair, Connie did it more than Sasha did since she was more preoccupied with consuming as much of Molly’s delicious cooking as she could get away with.

Seated right beside Levi (and unfortunately not on his lap), was Eren. Although his talk with his friends had helped him, he was now even more hyperaware of the older man’s proximity. Since the table wasn’t that big, they were forced to sit close, legs nearly touching. If he even dared move his leg, they would touch and that would be a very bad idea. Even still, the younger male couldn’t help thinking about it and about what Levi would do if he dared rest his hand on the veteran’s strong thigh.

“So, captain, what brings you to Paradis?” Asked Molly curiously, completely unaware of any sexual tension. As stern faced as she looked, the woman was actually quite friendly in personality.

Not seeming the slightest bit intimidated by the four pairs of eyes staring at him, Levi candidly answered, “I had orders to come here, which are, I’m sorry to say, strictly classified.”

“I see. Well, I have to say I feel safer knowing you’re in Paradis now. With the way things are going, I wonder how peaceful things will stay,” sighed Molly before she took a sip of her red wine. “I do hope that the presidential candidate Schmidt wins the election. He’s the most honest politician I’ve ever seen in all my years. He’s also rather easy on the eyes, too.”

Connie groaned. “Ew, Ma!”

Schmidt? Why did that name sound familiar? Drawing a blank, Eren then inquired, “Who’s Schmidt?”

Levi Scoffed. “Tch. Are you serious, brat? Do you not pay attention to current events?”

Eren shrugged. “Not lately.”

“Or ever. Eren hates politics,” snitched Connie with a little smirk.

“Hate it or not, which I certainly do, I still say that you should still pay attention. Especially now, of all times,” cautioned the captain.

As much as he hated to admit it, Levi did have a point there. “All right, point taken. So, what’s been going on, then?”

“Schmidt is the presidential candidate running against Zachary. There have been violent riots and protests these past several months. I’ve heard there’s been death threats on Schmidt’s life, too,” spoke Molly, sounding concerned. “I hope Schmidt wins, and nothing happens to him. He has my vote when the time comes.”

Zachary. That name also sounded familiar. Combing his brain for information, Eren suddenly remembered where he’d heard that name before. “Wait, is Zachary that General guy?”

The blonde woman nodded soberly. “The one and the same. I personally don’t trust him. I think he’s a power-hungry deviant trying to grab as much power as he can. If he wins, he’s going to run this great country into the ground.”

“Is he really that bad?” Asked the green-eyed man. Although he didn’t know too much about Zachary, he’d never heard of any scandal concerning the guy. Then again, some of the worst people in the world were exceptionally good at hiding their monstrous sides.

“She’s not wrong,” confirmed the raven-haired man, his gunmetal eyes staring down at the glass in his hand. “If Zachary wins, there could be war.”

“Well, fuck that asshole then,” said Eren, completely trusting both Molly and Levi’s opinions on the matter. Realizing he’d just cursed aloud, at the dinner table in front of Mrs. Spencer, he blanched a bit since he knew the woman couldn’t stand bad language. Chancing a look at the woman, he was shocked to see her proud smile.

“That’s my boy. I just knew you wouldn’t support that…ahem, bad man,” praised Molly, who refrained from using bad language despite a part of her seeming tempted to.

Eren nearly jumped out of his chair when he felt a hand pat him on the thigh a couple of times. All eyes on him now, he laughed nervously as he searched for an excuse for his sudden movement. Out of the corner of his eye, he glared at the man sitting to his right. Noticing the ghost of a smirk on that damn man’s beautiful face, he explained, “Sorry, thought I felt something crawling on me.”

“That’s a shame,” innocently commented Levi, who then proceeded to pat the younger male’s thigh again as he took a sip of his drink.

Ymir damn him. He’d expressly forbade Connie and Sasha from misbehaving, and yet, he hadn’t even considered that Levi would be the one acting up, even if it were subtle. As inconspicuously as possible, under the table, Eren grabbed that damn hand before it could touch his leg again. Expecting the older man to pull away, he was surprised when the hand he had grabbed made no move to fight the hold. Instead of disentangling itself from the other man’s grip, Levi simply curled his fingers around the hand that held it captive.

While Sasha was still preoccupied with her food, and mother and son locked in conversation, Levi leaned over some to whisper in Eren’s ear. “Sorry, couldn’t help myself, brat.”

Uh huh, sure. Two could play at that game. Spreading his right leg, he pressed it firmly against the other man’s leg while his fingers ever so slowly and lightly, trailed over the length of Levi’s palm and fingers. Donning his best concerned expression, Eren then voiced, “Everything all right, Levi? You look a little…troubled.”

“Oh, is everything all right, dears?” Questioned Molly as soon as she’d overheard the green-eyed man’s words.

“Everything is fine,” answered Levi, his voice slightly more husky than normal, though only Eren seemed to notice. The older man’s hand abruptly clamped tight around Eren’s, effectively halting his teasing caresses. Turning his head to fix the younger man with a level stare, he then said, “Just was thinking about…how I should punish someone under my command that’s been insubordinate as of late.”

“Take your shirt off. I’m sure that’s punishment enough,” teased Eren even though it was the truth. If the silver-eyed soldier stripped and walked around him like that, it would be pure torture for him. A good kind of torture, but still torture, nonetheless.

Out the corner of his eye, Eren thought he glimpsed Sasha and Connie exchanging knowing smirks with one another.

“I was thinking more along the lines of making him scrub every inch of my house with nothing but a toothbrush,” retorted Levi in a low voice that sounded like he meant every single word.

Somehow, the younger soldier didn’t doubt that Levi would actually enforce such an unjust punishment. “That’s actually kind of really evil. I’m impressed.”

Molly took a more sympathetic role as she said, “I don’t know who he is, but I hope he straightens up.”

“Don’t worry, the brat will,” assured the raven-haired captain as he fixed Eren with a telling look that made the younger male shiver involuntarily.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Despite all the teasing, Levi didn’t lay a hand on Eren again after they returned back to his house. Nor did he actually attempt to force him to clean his entire house with a mere toothbrush. The only thing he did was bid Eren good night before he retired to his own bedroom for the night.

After a quick, but thorough shower, Eren collapsed on his bed clad only in sleep pants. Although he felt worn to the bone, his mind was as restless as ever. Glancing at the bedside table at the alarm clock, he noticed that it was barely a quarter after nine. Rolling over onto his side with his back facing the clock, he closed his eyes and attempted to clear his head.

After what felt like an eternity, the cyan-eyed man finally drifted off into a troubled sleep that was soon dominated by horrific things. Things so real and so gruesome, he felt trapped and unable to fight any of it. The more he tried to move, to do something, anything, to stop the horrendous things being done, the worse things got. Despite this, Eren didn’t give up even though the hope of succeeding was unfortunately frail. He fought tooth and nail to gain his freedom from this insufferable hell as a voice continued to ask him why he bothered to resist, to fight this. The voice kept whispering for him to just give in, to just accept it instead of running away from it. But he didn’t want to, he didn’t want to submit to this nightmare…

A stinging pain exploded across Eren’s face, causing him to immediately wake up and rise to a sitting position. Panting with hard, uneven breaths, he was disorientated by his surroundings as his heart hammered in his chest. Body slick with cold sweat and hair sticking to his face, he continued to pant as if he’d just ran nonstop for an hour. The first thing he noticed was that he was in his bedroom and the lamp was on. The next thing he noticed was a concerned Levi perched on the edge of his bed, with his hand now cradling the side of Eren’s sweaty face. The part of his face that stung as if he’d just been smacked by something…

“Levi...what…” Panted Eren, confused as to why he was so upset and why the older man was in his room at this time of night. Glancing at the alarm clock, he noticed that it was around midnight.

“I’m sorry I hit you, Eren, but you wouldn’t wake up no matter how hard I shook you,” quietly apologized Levi, his usually indifferent face now betraying just how concerned and remorseful he felt. His free hand then rose to delicately move the younger man’s wet hair out of his face.

Still baffled, Eren queried, “What…do you mean?”

“You were screaming like you were being murdered, Eren. I seriously thought someone was attacking you, so I ran in here…to find you thrashing and screaming on the bed. I tried to shake you awake, but you just kept screaming. You nearly punched me, too,” explained the captain, his voice a soothing sound to the other man’s ears despite the words upsetting him. In an effort to help calm him down, his hand moved away from Eren’s face to stroke soothing, random patterns into the younger man’s sweaty back.

Feeling upset that he’d tried to hurt the captain, he babbled, “I…I did? I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean—”

“—Don’t apologize for that, Eren. You did nothing wrong,” interrupted the older man, his hand still tracing comforting shapes into Eren’s back. “You have nothing to apologize for…”

For some reason, though he couldn’t remember anything that had happened during his sleep, Levi’s words made him want to desperately cry. Ducking his head, he flung his arms around the taller man and buried his face against Levi’s chest. The hand stroking his back ceased for a moment but soon resumed its job of providing comfort. His free arm rose to wrap around the younger man’s upper back, holding him tightly to him, but not to the point that it was uncomfortable. If Levi noticed the long-haired man shaking or making his t-shirt wet, he didn’t say anything. He just held him tighter while he continued to run his fingertips across Eren’s bare skin.

After what felt like forever to Eren, he finally calmed down enough that he wasn’t shaking or crying anymore. Ugh, crying. He’d actually fucking cried…in front of Levi, of all people. Although he hadn’t cried much in his life, he much preferred to do it when he wasn’t in the presence of others.

“Will you be okay if I leave for a moment?” Asked Levi quietly after realizing that the other soldier was no longer upset.

Not trusting himself to speak just yet, Eren nodded as he slowly disentangled himself from the older man. The moment Levi had left the room, he’d taken the opportunity to wipe at his eyes and the rest of his face.

True to his word, the captain returned with a large bowl and what looked like a washcloth. Setting the bowl down on the bedside table, he sat on the side of the bed as he dipped the cloth into what appeared to be steaming water. Wringing it out enough, he then tucked Eren’s hair behind his ears before bringing the wet cloth up to gently dab at his face.

“Uh, Levi, I can do that. You don’t have to…” Trailed off the younger man, feeling embarrassed by the attention he was receiving.

“Relax, I’m wiping your face, not your ass. Just let me do this,” sighed Levi. When the younger man offered no more protest, he then continued to wipe the soft cloth over Eren’s reddened face until he was satisfied with his work. Dipping the cloth back into the bowl, he then wrung it out again before sweeping the cloth over Eren’s chest, arms, and eventually his back. Once he was satisfied that he’d cleaned up the shorter man enough, he got back up and left the room to presumably put away the bowl and washcloth.

Scooting off of the bed, Eren took this opportunity to peel off his sweat soaked underwear and pants. Dropping them in the hamper, he then grabbed a pair of his loosest fitting sleep pants and slipped them on. Crawling back onto the full size bed, he then waited for the other man to come back.

Within a few minutes, Levi returned with a glass of water, which he promptly offered to Eren before he sat back down on the side of the bed.

After what felt like a lengthy silence, Levi broke it by quietly asking, “Do you want to talk about it?”

“I don’t remember anything, but…it was bad, whatever it was. Worse than it normally is,” Eren answered honestly. If he could choose to actually remember after waking up, would he even want to?

Taking the empty glass from Eren, the veteran gingerly set it down on the bedside table. “So, a night terror then. Does this happen often?”

“Occasionally. I don’t know what triggers it, but it happens whether I am stressed or not. I never remember what I dream about, but I always remember…how it made me feel,” clarified the long-haired soldier.

“Does Hanji know you suffer from night terrors?”

Eren inhaled deeply before he exhaled again. “Yeah. She suggested how to stop them, but it’s not working. Hanji also suggested some medication, but I don’t want to take anything.”

“I’ll help you with them.”

“What?”

Levi then clarified, “There are things I can do to help prevent them, like waking you up before they start.”

Curious, the younger man pressed, “How do know?”

“I used to experience them, too, Eren. I know what to do,” replied the slate-eyed man.

“Oh, uh, thanks. I mean, thank you,” murmured Eren. No longer wanting to think about the terrible experience, he asked, “Can we please talk about something else? I don’t…want to think about it anymore.”

“Sure. What do you want to talk about?”

Searching his brain for something, anything, to distract him, he then remembered the dinner at the Spencer household. Recalling what he’d talked about with his friends, he decided to just go for it. “What do you like to do? For fun, I mean.”

Studying him closely, the captain inquired, “Why do you ask?”

“Because whatever it is, I wouldn’t mind doing it with you,” replied Eren and as soon as the words left his mouth, he realized just how dirty that sounded. He knew he wasn’t the only one that noticed the unintentional innuendo since the older man had the audacity to smirk at him.

“I can think of at least one thing…” Levi trailed off suggestively.

Eren could think of at least one thing, too, and he knew they were both thinking about the same thing. As tempting as that was, whether the captain was just joking around again or he truly meant it, the slighter man would have to ignore it. At least, for now, anyway. Until he figured out what he needed to figure out, he would have to continue to abstain.

“Haha, no. You know exactly what I meant. You going to answer me or not?” Asked Eren as he rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his bare chest.

Still smirking, Levi said, “There is one thing, besides the other thing, that I like to do. If you want to try it, we can go do it in a few days.”

Curious about just what it could be, Eren leaned forward. “What is it?”

“It’s a surprise. You’ll see.”

Narrowing his eyes, Eren questioned, “So, you’re going to leave me in suspense for a few days? Why a few days?”

“Yes, I am, and you’ll see why soon enough. Just be patient, brat,” said the raven-haired man while he reached over and ruffled the other man’s long locks.

“I hate when you do that, you know,” lied the younger male as he shoved the other man’s hand away.

Seeing right through his blatant lie, Levi smugly said, “Sure you do.”

“Oh, by the way, you dick, I haven’t forgotten your little stunt at dinner,” scoffed Eren.

Smirk gone and his default expression back in place, the veteran said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was a perfect gentleman. Just ask Mrs. Spencer.”

The long-haired soldier groaned. “I can’t. That woman loves you; I can tell. She’ll deny any wrongdoing on your part.”

“So, what you’re saying is, if I pulled you into my lap at the dinner table, she would look the other way?” Teased the older man.

“Shut up.” Annoyed by Levi’s teasing, or flirting, whatever it actually was, Eren was still incredibly tempted to grab him, push him down on the bed, and have his wicked way with him. The only thing preventing him from doing so was the stupid, annoying voice of reason that was screaming like a banshee in his head. Sighing loudly, he flopped down on the bed and turned his back to the captain.

“What are you doing?” Asked a surprised Eren when the light was shut off followed by the unmistakable sound and feeling of Levi lying down next to him on the bed.

Teasing tone now gone, the older man said, “I’m staying here for tonight. If you need me, I’ll be right here.”

If anyone else had uttered something like that, Eren would have suspected them of impure intentions. Though Levi seemed to enjoy teasing him in different ways, the man never truly crossed any lines. His intentions always seemed to center on what was best for Eren and Eren only.

“Oh, um, thanks. The bed is a little…well, wet.”

“Would you rather come to my bed, Eren?” Asked Levi without implying any sexual innuendo.

“Uh…” Uttered the younger man, his coherent words lost to him. Levi’s bed, which probably smelled strongly of the man, was the last place he needed to be.

“Try to get some sleep, brat. We’re still getting up in a couple hours.”

After several minutes of silence, Eren turned around to look at the taller man. Eyes adjusted to the darkness and helped by the moonlight streaming in, he noticed that the captain was lying on his back with his arms at his sides and legs straight down in what Eren knew to be called the soldier position. He honestly wasn’t surprised that the veteran slept this way.

“Levi?”

Although he didn’t say anything, Levi turned his head to look at the younger male, nevertheless.

“Thank you.”

“Anything for you, Eren,” murmured Levi, his voice nearly a whisper.

Something in the way Levi had said the words and looked at him gave Eren the distinct, unshakable impression that he truly meant that.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter Text

 

In the moments leading to wakefulness, Eren was vaguely aware of the warm comfort he felt shrouded in. Something solid carded slowly through his hair, making him curl possessively closer to the warm, hard thing he was pressed against. Face buried in something hard, flat, and warm, he inhaled a scent so good it made his toes and fingers curl. When he turned his head, pressing his ear against the solid object, He then realized that he heard the unmistakable sound of a heartbeat, muffled by skin, tissue, and bone.

Wait a minute…

Lifting his half-awake head slowly, Eren opened his eyes and caught sight of a familiar face staring back at him. With a fine black eyebrow raised, gunmetal eyes seemed to regard him with both amusement and frustration.

“About time you woke up, brat.”

Taking stock of his surroundings, the green-eyed man realized that he was literally lying on top of Levi. His arms were like unbreakable chains shacked around the older man while his legs sandwiched one of the captain’s legs. To make matters worse, Eren was acutely aware that he was already half-hard, which meant that the other man was aware of it, too, since it was pressed against his thigh.

Fuck, fuck, fuck…

Mortified by his unintentional invasion of the other man’s person, Eren hastily untangled himself from the raven-haired male. He remembered last night, and how Levi had opted to stay for support, but nothing else had happened. The long-haired man faintly recalled falling asleep on his side with his back to the other yet didn’t remember how he ended up like this. He must have moved around in his sleep again.

As soon as he was free from his ‘man-made’ prison, Levi slowly sat up and stretched his arms while arching his back until there was an audible a crack. Rolling his neck slowly, he gazed at the younger man out of the corner of his eye. “Was it that good for you?”

Wait, what? Levi better be joking, or he’d…

Taking pity on the younger soldier, Levi reassured, “Relax, brat. It’s a joke. Nothing happened…except for you invading my territory while I slept. That’s what I get for lowering my guard, I suppose. Next time you won’t be so lucky.”

Quietly, Eren apologized, “I’m…sorry. I don’t even remember doing it.”

It wasn’t until right after he apologized that he realized the older man had implied there might be a next time. Then again, the captain could just be messing with him again. He was really making too much of this and really, he should be incredibly grateful that his morning wood hadn’t been mentioned whatsoever. As much as the captain seemed to enjoy teasing him, it was never intentionally cruel and he rarely, if ever, crossed any lines.

Leaning over, Levi ruffled Eren’s hair before he pushed off from the bed to stand to his full height of 6’1”. “Don’t worry about it, Eren. When I stayed here last night, I knew there was the risk of getting punched or kicked by you. Lucky for me, you had good dreams instead.”

Caribbean eyes roamed the other man’s impressive (yet sadly very clothed) body until they stopped on the wrinkled white t-shirt. Deciding to fire back, he said, “Your shirt has wrinkles, Levi. The Laundry Police might arrest you for this if they find out…”

“Here, hide the evidence, then,” spoke the steel-eyed man as he peeled the shirt off and tossed it at the younger man’s face. Turning around, he strode towards the door and opened it. Looking over his shoulder at Eren before he walked out, Levi then instructed, “Go wash your ass, brat. We leave in a half hour.”

As soon as the taller man had left the room, Eren had collapsed back down on the bed like a corpse, shirt still on his face. That arousing scent, the very one that drove him crazy, relentlessly clung to the shirt. Groaning, he picked the shirt off his face before he rubbed at his closed eyes while attempting (and failing) to not picture what he’d just seen. His half-erect cock twitched in interest as he recalled the older man shirtless, his mostly smooth skin stretched over rippling muscles. Even the scars marring that fair skin were fucking sexy as hell, too. He’d also noticed how Levi’s loose fitting sleep pants had hung low on his hips, revealing more of his Adonis belt and the fact that apparently, Levi didn’t wear underwear to bed. Ymir damn it, and every other real or imagined god out there, that was surprisingly hot, too. Everything about the man was hot as hell, even his damn tea drinking. And that was saying a lot since Eren absolutely hated tea.

And just for all that, Levi wasn’t getting his damn t-shirt back.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Several hours later, during the evening, found both Eren and Levi at Hanji’s residence, surrounded by most of Eren’s friends outside in a very large yard illuminated by various lanterns. Because Hanji lived in a house near a wooded area with the closest neighbors being miles away, there was no worries about receiving any noise complaints. Not willing to risk messing up his own spotless house, the captain had grudgingly suggested Hanji’s place as somewhere safe, or relatively safe, as he’d put in his own words. Hanji had immediately jumped at the idea despite Levi’s hesitance to it. Although she was under no obligation to, the psychiatrist had even run to the store to buy drinks and snacks for everyone attending.

“I regret this already,” sighed Levi as he warily watched some of Eren’s friends taking multiple shots of hard liquor around a fire pit.

Elbowing the raven-haired man in the side, Hanji chided, “Oh, hush, you.”

Receiving a text message, Eren fished his phone out and unlocked it. The message was from Connie.

Connie: ‘Gotta bail on tonight, man. Sasha is still sick from last night. I think she ate something bad so I’m watching over her. Don’t worry about us, have fun!’

It was just a text message, and it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Occasionally, Sasha did eat something bad, or eat so much it made her sick, so why did he feel weird about it this time? Something about it seemed off...as if maybe Connie was lying to him. But why would he lie? If they didn’t want to go, he would have understood. Eren had a feeling it wasn’t that, though. Something else was going on here, he just knew it.

“Everything all right, Eren?” Hanji asked gently after noticing his troubled expression.

Almost absently, Eren answered, “Yeah, fine. Sasha’s sick. Might have food poisoning.”

Overhearing the conversation, a tipsy Jean hung an arm over one of Eren’s shoulders. “Again? Aw, Vogel, don’t worry about ole Sash, she’ll pull through. Connie is an excellent nursemaid. He nursed me through some bad hangovers…”

“Why don’t you have a drink, Eren? Loosen up some. You’re among friends,” suggested the bespectacled doctor.

Glancing around the enormous yard at his friends, Eren’s viridian eyes landed on a big blond man sitting in one of the patio chairs near the fire pit. “Nah, I’m fine. I don’t drink anymore. Not after Reiner.”

Levi seemed to perk up at that, his crossed arms untangling and dropping at his sides. “Oh?”

“Oh, GOD, that shit was so fucking FUNNY!” Guffawed Jean, sounding similar to a braying donkey. Nearby, a blonde woman with a prominent nose, called Annie, silently shot Jean a sharp, disapproving glare.

Shoving Jean’s arm off from him, Eren stepped away to stand closer to Levi and Hanji. “Shut up, horseface. Go back to your stable.”

Sensing a crisis, Jean’s best friend, Marco, swooped in to drag his obnoxious best friend over to the patio furniture near the fire pit. Smiling apologetically at the trio, Marco said, “I’ll keep an eye on Jean.”

Eren nodded gratefully. “Thanks, I owe you one.”

Smiling kindly at his green-eyed friend, Marco said, “Oh, Eren, you don’t owe me anything.”

Once Marco had successfully dragged Jean away, the silver-eyed soldier inquired, “What happened with Reiner?”

Eren felt uncertain about how to answer, considering he didn’t remember all that much. “Oh, um…well…”

Draping her arm around Eren’s shoulders, the dark-haired, freckle faced woman called Ymir cackled. “Eren was 18, we had a party, and everyone got shit-faced. Princess over there is a relaxed, giddy drunk. He wanted nothing better than to curl up on the couch and relax. That big oaf, Reiner, however, had other plans…”

“Oh, really? Under aged drinking, brat?” Questioned Levi, one eyebrow arched as he peered at the long-haired man.

“Arrest me, officer,” joked Eren as he held out his arms, his wrists crossed and his head hanging.

Shrugging, Levi casually dismissed, “I’m not an MP. You’re free to go, I guess.”

“Ugh, get a room, you two!” Sneered Ymir in mock disgust as she rolled her gray eyes. “Anyway, Reiner is a horny drunk, so his dumb ass went after my woman, so I kicked his sorry ass. Then he decided to go after Eren even though Eren kept pushing him away. At some point during the night, they were on the floor fighting literally like lions…and well, let's just say that Reiner ended up getting punched in the dick a lot.”

Shocked by the story, Eren asked, “What, really? I barely remember anything…”

Smirking, the freckled woman then divulged, “I have videos of it if you wanna watch. It’s worth it for the epic ball busting punches alone.”

“Sounds like justice was served,” commented Levi as he looked at Eren with something akin to pride.

Beside Eren, Hanji cackled, but didn’t utter a word as she observed everyone.

“You wanna see ‘em?” Ymir asked, a slow smirk spreading on her face while her gray eyes flicked impishly between Levi and Hanji. When they didn’t say anything, she elaborated, “The videos, I mean.”

Ooo!” Whistled Hanji as she sidled closer to Ymir like a dog eager for treats.

“Ugh, no,” groaned Eren. Glancing at Levi, he was annoyed to see the older man smiling a bit. “Stop smiling. It’s not funny. This is awful.”

Crossing his arms again, Levi shifted his weight to one leg and pointed out, “You beating up a pervert doesn’t sound awful to me.”

“Oh, hell no!” Hissed Ymir after spotting Reiner sitting a little too close to the petite blonde, Historia. Dropping her arm from Eren, the dark-haired woman hastily ran across the room to intercept any and all unsolicited groping of her girlfriend.

Not deterred by Ymir’s abrupt exit, the psychiatrist then spoke, “Speaking of drinking…I once witnessed a drunk Levi. Granted, he has to drink a lot, and I mean a lot, just to feel a buzz. I don’t know how it barely affects him, but—"

“—Shut up, Hanji.” Interrupted the raven-haired veteran.

Ignoring her cross friend, Hanji continued, “About ten years ago, we had a get together at Erwin’s and Levi got shit faced drunk. He had to drink a shit ton of hard liquor just to get that way. Anyone else would have died of alcohol poisoning…”

Catching the name, the green-eyed man curiously inquired, “Who’s Erwin?”

“Mutual friend of ours. He’s busy these days, but I’m sure he’ll make time to meet you,” answered the doctor. Looking up and tapping her chin, she looked as if she were trying to remember something. “So anyway, do you wanna know what kind of a drunk Levi is?”

Stepping closer to Hanji, Levi hissed, “Don’t you dare…”

Still ignoring her friend, Hanji waited for Eren to nod before she continued, “Get this…Levi is an affectionate drunk. I never thought I’d see the day in this life, or any other life…that he’d willingly hug me, but he did. My only regret that night was not having the foresight to record him hugging me and others. It was…quite a spectacle. Fortunately for grumpy pants, I’m the only one that remembers.”

Connie and Sasha temporarily forgotten; the long-haired man smiled at the thought of a drunk Levi going around hugging people. He would have died just to see that. “You doing anything later, Levi?”

“I’m not drinking, if that’s what you’re planning,” drawled the gray-eyed soldier, too sharp to fall for that ploy.

Still amused, Eren shook his head as he thought over the doctor’s amusing story. The smile vanished in the next moment, however, once he’d realized something significant, something that made him feel concern. Turning away from Hanji, he looked at Levi. “Why were you drinking so much back then?”

Face his usual mask of indifference, Levi shrugged. “For stupid shit reasons that don’t matter now. That shit is never happening again.”

Hanji had stated it had been around ten years ago, which meant that had to have been around the time Levi had nearly died from a bomb attack. Eren personally knew how traumatic such an event was, so he could understand, in his own way. It made him wonder if anyone had been around for Levi like he’d been for Eren. He sure hoped so since the mere thought of the man having no one to help him made his own chest ache. Despite the feeling of empathy, something told him to drop it and not to pry. Levi was fine now, and had no intentions of abusing alcohol, so in the end, it really didn’t matter.

Phone vibrating, Levi fished it out and looked at the screen. Looking visibly annoyed now, he grumbled, “Fucking Eyebrows is driving me insane. I’ll be right back, brat.”

Watching Levi head into the house to answer the call, Eren turned to Hanji and questioned, “Eyebrows?

Hanji smiled kindly. “That’s what he calls Erwin. You’ll see why when you meet him.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Ten minutes later and still no Levi, Eren found himself sitting on a bench near the fire pit, the back of the bench facing Hanji’s house. He had to give his friends props since most of them had been respectful of his space and they hadn’t all swarmed him the moment they'd glimpsed him.

“So, you live with Levi, huh,” stated Jean as he leaned forward a bit. Although he was slightly drunk, he was still sober enough to talk without slurring. “How’s that going, by the way?”

“Just Fine. I’m not the one that wrecked his bike,” answered Eren, smirking a bit. “You better tread carefully, horseface.”

“What the hell, I paid for it! Why’s he still mad?!” Spat out Jean loudly. It took him longer than usual to figure out that Eren was once again screwing around with him. Once this realization struck him, he hissed, “Oh, shut the fuck up, Vogel. You ass…”

“I heard from Connie that he’s your sugar daddy now,” snickered Ymir, unaffected by the fuming Jean. Her favorite pastime, besides being around her girlfriend, was shit talking, after all.

Ugh, not this again. Eren rolled his eyes and vehemently denied, “He’s not my sugar daddy. There’s no funny business going on.”

The petite little blonde sitting beside Ymir frowned. “Ymir, that’s not nice. I’m sure it’s not like that at all.”

Snaking an arm around the small woman’s waist, Ymir said, “You never know, babe.”

“Some sugar daddies don’t want sex,” pointed out Bert, speaking up for the first time in an hour.

Annie looked at him as if he were the world’s biggest idiot. “Who told you that? They all want sex. Any sugar baby that claims they have a platonic sugar daddy is lying. The odds of finding one that doesn’t want sex isn’t in anyone’s favor.”

Blushing a bright crimson, Bert looked away and said nothing else. Beside him, Reiner nudged the giant of a man and then leaned in close to whisper something to him.  

Peering suspiciously at the icy looking blonde woman, Jean asked, “How do you know about that?”

Annie shrugged dismissively. “I looked into it once when I was seventeen.”

So engrossed in their banter, Eren didn’t even notice Levi approaching until he’d plopped down on the bench right next to him, causing the younger man to jump in surprise. Stretching an arm out over the top of the back, like he usually did, the veteran crossed his legs as he turned his head to regard the other man. “Did I scare my sugar baby?

“Um, what?” Queried Eren, his voice cracking a bit as his face flushed with heat. Out of the corner of his eye he could see his friends sitting there looking just as stunned and awkward as he was feeling. Well, except for Annie. She didn’t look like she cared one way or another.

“Why don’t you give daddy a kiss?” Asked Levi as he leaned close enough for the younger man to plant a kiss on him. When the Eren didn’t move a muscle, he then leaned back and said, “That’s ok, I can wait.”

Oh, Ymir, Eren hoped that the older man didn’t have a daddy fetish. Although he respected those others that had that fetish, he still found it cringey as fuck. There was no way in hell he’d ever willingly call someone daddy or even dress up like a Lolita or some other weird shit. Call Eren boring, but he just wasn’t into the super extreme weird stuff.

“You shitty brats are so fucking loud, you know. If you’re going to talk shit you don’t want me to hear, don’t shout it at the top of your lungs,” advised the veteran, his arms crossed over his chest.

Oho, you had me going for a second there!” Exclaimed Hanji, who sounded disappointed for some reason. Everyone else, excluding Annie, seemed to share similar thoughts on their faces. None of them had the balls to admit it, though.

Staring at Hanji as if she was the universe’s biggest moron, Levi snapped, “Really, Shitty Glasses? You think I’m into that shit? Eren is my charge, not some piece of expensive fuck meat.”

Fuck meat? Eren tried his best not to crack a smile at that particular eccentric expression. The older man really had a way with words like no other he’d ever encountered. As crude as those words could be, they were still amusing as hell coming out of that fine mouth.

After getting over the initial shock, everyone dispersed and went back to their prior activities. Ymir ended up lying down on a lawn chair with a sick Historia, gently massaging the petite woman’s abdomen to ease her nausea. Annie and Jean played beer pong against Reiner and Bertholdt while Marco watched and kept score. Like Eren, the freckled man didn’t care to drink alcohol. Besides, it was always a good idea to have one or two designated drivers to make sure the drunk idiots didn’t try to drive home or do anything too stupid.

Eren was content just to sit there and watch his friends play that silly game. He wasn’t surprised that Annie was carrying the team by beating the pants off both Reiner and Bert. She didn’t even need Jean and truthfully, all three young men could team up against her and they’d still lose to her. Although the blonde soldier behaved mostly like she typically did, there was something off about her. She seemed to glance at Eren more than usual, usually when she thought nobody was looking. It seemed like she might be concerned, yet it was hard to tell with her. What was more was that it wasn’t just Eren she was looking at, she was looking at Levi, too. The way she looked at Levi was different, though. Her gaze was more scrutinizing, like she was trying to figure him out. If that were true, then it’d make sense considering she didn’t know the captain just yet.

In spite of this, everyone was, more or less, behaving the way they had always done so before the terrorist attack. They weren’t tip toeing around Eren like he was some fragile piece of glass nor were they attempting to suffocate him with too much attention, either. It was nice…having things feel closer to normal. The cyan-eyed man had admittedly been worried that things would be weird and that everyone would treat him differently. Truth was, he didn’t want to be treated better or worse than how they always treated him because he was their equal, their friend and fellow soldier. Just because he’d nearly died for them didn’t mean he wanted to be held on some pedestal.

Unlike Eren and Levi, Hanji wasn’t content to just sit there in silence for very long. Whether she was just bored or had a particular agenda in mind, the doctor sat down on the other side of the young man. Adjusting her glasses, she appraised the younger man as if she were at a fair looking at a cow that she wanted to purchase.

Being the observant, intelligent man that he was, Hanji’s stare didn’t go unnoticed by Levi. “What’s with the creepy ass look, Shitty Glasses?”

Hanji tapped her chin as she looked up at nothing in particular. “Oh, I was just thinking about something. I don’t know if I should bring it up or not, though…”

Turning his head to look fully at Hanji, Eren raised an eyebrow, feeling a strange mix of apprehension and curiosity. Although he didn’t know her as well as Levi did, he could still tell that the psychiatrist was up to something. “What?”

“Just spit it out or shut up already,” spat the captain as he eyed his longtime friend warily.

Attention rooted firmly to Eren, the bespectacled woman said, “I was just thinking about this guy I know. He would be perfect for you, Eren. A bit on the older side, but not by all that much. If you’re interested, I could fix you up with him.”

Of all the things that the long-haired soldier had thought would come out of Hanji’s mouth, it hadn’t been that. Sitting beside Levi and hearing the doctor say those things felt akin to sitting beside one’s parents while watching actors on TV have simulated sex. It was unbelievably awkward as hell and made him want to flee the scene. He wouldn’t, of course.

Deciding to chance a glance at the man beside him, Eren noticed Levi’s stare gouged straight into Hanji like a knife to someone’s gut. The subtle clench of Levi’s jaw, the stiffness of his posture, and the narrowing of his sharp eyes all indicated that he was indeed, pissed off. It reminded Eren of that night he’d confessed to him what Floch had done. Levi had been enraged then and it had shown as clear as day on his face and in his body language. Although his anger now was carefully watered down, unlike that night Floch had assaulted Eren, this made him realize that Levi trusted him more with his emotions and feelings than he did with his longtime friend, Hanji.

Wanting to prevent any fights, whether it was with words or fists, Eren quickly asked, “Uh, Hanji…can I speak with you privately?”

Hanji’s face was downright grim as she gazed right back at Levi. There seemed to be a challenging aspect to it as if she were trying to egg him on to do something. Once she heard Eren, however, the grave expression on her face instantly died. Smiling softly, she patted Eren’s arm before she stood up. “Sure, Eren. Lead the way.”

Switching his attention to the captain, Eren leaned close to him and quietly pleaded, “Please don’t go anywhere, Levi. Ok?”

Tearing his eyes away from Hanji, gunmetal eyes focused on the younger man. Whatever anger was there seemed to melt away the moment he looked at Eren. Without saying a word, Levi nodded curtly.

“I’ll be right back,” promised Eren, breathing a sigh of relief as he stood up and walked into the house, Hanji following closely behind him. The moment the door was shut, he whirled around and fixed the woman with a level stare that was a borderline glare. “What the hell was that, Hanji?”

The psychiatrist beckoned him with her finger before she walked into her study to sit at her desk. Gesturing to the chair facing her desk, she waited for the green-eyed man to sit before she began. “That…was a test, my dear Eren. And oho, boy, is he angry. It’s been a long time since I’ve witnessed that.”

Eren frowned as he furrowed his brows. “A test? How is fixing me up on a blind date a test?”

Hanji nodded. “You see, he thinks I’m trying to fix you up with someone else...when in reality, I was talking about him to you. He just doesn’t realize that, yet. So, tell me, Eren, why do you think he’s so angry?”

Thinking about it, Eren could only come up with a couple of reasons why Levi was pissed. The veteran hated it when Hanji meddled in his life, and by extension, Eren was part of his life, now. So that meant her meddling in his life would also agitate the captain, too. Another reason could simply be that he was just protective of Eren, which he’d proved time and time again, but that seemed too simple and less likely. Yes, he was protective of Eren, but that’s not why he was angry. The only other reason he could think of was that the older man was jealous. If he liked Eren like Eren suspected that he might, then it made sense as to why he was mad. If Hanji had openly suggested, in front of Eren, that she wanted to set Levi up with someone else, the younger soldier would have been upset, too. Just thinking about Levi spending time with someone else, liking someone else, made Eren feel sick to his stomach.

Even though Eren hadn’t answered her question, Hanji seemed to know what assailed his mind, nevertheless. “I told you before, during one of our sessions, that all I want for my friend is for him to be happy. I meant that and still do. Do you know what I see?”

Thinking on it, Eren did remember Hanji talking quite a bit about Levi, his sexuality, and her failed matchmaking attempts. He also remembered how she’d questioned Eren on his own sexuality and past relationships. It had been odd, and even then, he had suspected some ulterior motive on her part. “What?”

“Levi, my grumpy Levi, is on fire when you are around him. Do you know that old saying? The saying goes: ‘Love is friendship on fire.’ I’ve never, ever, seen him this way with anyone. Do you know what I honestly think? I think you make him happy,” candidly answered Hanji, a smile on her face that almost looked forlorn.

Pondering her words, Eren then realized that lately he’s felt happy, too. Happy in a way that he couldn’t ever fathom feeling once in his life. Sure, his friends made him feel happy, but the kind of happiness Hanji described, felt quite different. Whatever this was, this burning friendship, as Hanji had termed it, wasn’t just sexual. Eren genuinely loved being around Levi, even when they were just sitting around not saying anything. He purposely dragged Levi along with him whenever he went to see his friends, and even in Levi’s house, the younger man often sought out his company. Eren liked pretty much everything about Levi and if there were any flaws, he just couldn’t, (or wouldn’t) see them. Did this mean that it was more than what he thought it was? Did he…?

“Until you openly reciprocate his feelings, Levi isn’t going to initiate a thing. He’s holding back, and will continue to, forever even, if he has to. Your well being is his top priority, and he’ll always put you first. You have the power to break him, remember this,” said Hanji as she walked slowly around her desk until she stood before the younger man. Her eyes glinted dangerously in warning, as if she were silently goading him to dare to hurt her friend. “So, Eren, what are you going to do?”

Although he had so many questions, he had the distinct feeling that she wouldn’t answer them now. Eren knew that he was clearly being tested here by her. For as silly (and crazy according to Levi) as she always appeared to be, the woman did possess a caring heart. Everything about her now was genuine on her part from her facial expressions, body language, and her voice. She reminded him vividly of just how protective and caring he was towards his own friends. There was a reason why she’d never bluntly brought any of this to his attention before during their sessions. All this wasn’t coming from his psychiatrist, this was coming straight from Levi’s close friend.

You have the power to break him.

Hearing Hanji’s words echo in his head, Eren felt his throat go dry while his chest constricted so much that he found it difficult to breathe. Sure, he’d already realized that Levi did care about him. That was one of the reasons why he’d come this far with him. The man had never once attempted to take advantage of him. If he had truly been a sexual predator, there had been several opportunities where he could have gotten his way easy and Eren would have let him. He knew without a doubt that Levi wasn’t a predator and had been nothing but respectful thus far.

Eren wasn’t an idiot. Hanji had practically spelled it out to him that Levi was in love with Eren. The concept of it, whether it was true or not, made his palms sweat and his head become woozy. Did he love Levi back? Everything he felt up until this moment, was that what love was? The long-haired soldier had never felt a thing like this before in all his life, so he wasn’t exactly sure what this was. What he was certain of, however, was that the last thing he ever wanted to do, was hurt that man intentionally or not.

Meeting the woman’s tough, brown eyes evenly with his own vibrant green eyes, Eren sincerely vowed, “I will die before I ever hurt him, Hanji.”

Hanji’s eyes softened considerably at that as she sat perched on the edge of her desk, a small, nearly poignant smile now adorning her lips. Reaching over to lay her hand atop of Eren’s, she softly stated, “Now, now, Eren, let’s not have it come to that…”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Once back outside, Eren made a beeline to his drunk friends, fully aware of the way silver eyes followed him. Half of them were already passed out, so he sought Marco out first. “Hey, Marco, we’re going to head out. It was nice seeing you guys again. Tell everyone I said bye, ok?”

“Sure, Eren. It was great seeing you again. We’re all happy you’re okay,” replied the freckled man with a genuine smile that clearly expressed his happiness. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everyone here. That nice lady, Hanji, said we could stay here the night and is willing to help me keep an eye on them.”

Feeling relieved, Eren said, “Thanks, I owe you one.”

Marco continued to smile kindly. “Oh, think nothing of it. You don’t owe us anything.”

That was definitely not the first time he’d heard that particular statement before from Marco and from others. Choosing to ignore it for now, the long-haired soldier waved a hand before he turned and strode back over to the patiently waiting Levi. “You ready to go?”

The raven-haired man nodded but didn’t say anything. Rising up to his full height, he silently led the younger man over to his bike. Grabbing Eren’s helmet, he held it out for him to take, but when Eren didn’t take it, he looked over his shoulder at him quizzically.

“Levi, before we go, I just want to say—”

Before Eren could finish his piece, the taller man quickly cut him off. “—You don’t owe me an explanation, Eren. I don’t own you, you’re not my dog no matter how many times I pet your head. You can do as you like, you’re an adult. You’re free, and that’s what you should be.”

Was Levi…sulking? It was so freaking cute and endearing that Eren wanted to die smiling because of it. The bewildered look on the captain’s face betrayed that Eren was indeed smiling like an idiot. Wanting to quickly rectify the misunderstanding, the slighter man stepped closer to the other. “I appreciate that, but you didn’t let me finish. I just wanted to say that I have absolutely no interest in blind dates or dating websites. It’s never been my thing and will never be. What I like to do is…I wake up every day, and if I meet someone, I end up liking that day, I pursue them. I spend every moment I can with them because I like them and want to know them better. I even go so far as to drag them along with me even when I hang out with my friends.”

 Jaw no longer tight, and body considerably more relaxed, Levi started to speak, but seemed at a loss for words. “That’s…”

Moving closer, so close they were nearly touching, Eren gently took the helmet from the older man using his left hand. Raising his right hand to Levi’s face, he used it to gently hold his face in place as he leaned in to place a chaste kiss on the older man’s slightly parted lips. Although it only lasted a few seconds, it seemed to last even longer to Eren before he took a step back. Trying to ignore the way his own lips tingled, the younger man then asked, “You ready to go?”

Watching Levi’s reaction, which was basically stunned silence, amused Eren to some extent. He silently noted to himself that if he ever needed to shut the man up, all he’d have to do is kiss him. The green-eyed man could definitely live with that.

After what felt like ages to Eren and probably to them both, Levi finally blinked and so eloquently muttered, “Uh, yeah…”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The ride back to the house had taken longer than usual, reminding him of that fateful night of the assault. Levi had picked him up and had driven slower than was usual for him. At first, he’d assumed this behavior was because of the fact that it had been nighttime, and he wore sunglasses. It occurred to Eren that whenever the veteran was particularly emotional in some way, he tended to drive slower. Granted, he still drove really fast regardless, but it was still significant enough for the younger man to notice. It was also another reminder of just how much Levi cared since he always kept Eren’s safety in mind, no matter his own state of mind.

After Eren had dismounted from the motorcycle, gravity hit him full force. Removing the helmet, he felt just how sore and tired he felt from his bones all the way to his flustered mind and heart. Rolling his stiff shoulders and then his neck, it took him a few moments to realize that he was being watched.

Helmet hanging from one hand, Levi looked the younger man up and down as if trying to ascertain something. “Are you in pain?”

The green-eyed man shrugged causally. “Oh, um, no, just a bit sore, is all. Nothing I can’t handle.”

“A bit, huh?” Questioned a skeptical Levi. Walking around him, he brushed Eren’s hair aside so that he could prod at the back of the younger male’s neck before moving down to poke at the muscles of his back. “Fuck, you’re tight as hell. How long have you felt like this?”

Trying not to shiver from the clinical touches, Eren shrugged again.

Sighing in mild exasperation and mumbling under his breath about ‘stubborn brats’, Levi then ordered, “Get inside and take a hot shower. Afterwards, I’ll work out all the kinks from your muscles.”

Trying not to picture the older man’s graceful, strong hands on his body, Eren coughed. “Uh…that’s okay. I’ll be fine, it’s nothing I can’t handle.”

“I did this to you. It’s the least I can do for beating your ass every day,” stated Levi, his tone less teasing and sounding more on the guilty side. As if able to sense that Eren was going to continue being an obstinate ass about it, the older soldier crossed his arms and said, “It’s up to you, Eren. I won’t force you, however…if you stay all knotted up like that, I’m not taking you out tomorrow.”

Eren’s attention perked up even more at the last sentence. Tilting his head slightly, he asked, “Out tomorrow where?”

“The surprise, remember? If you’ve changed your mind, that’s fi—”

Realizing what Levi was referring to, he hastily cut the other man off. “—No! I mean, uh, no, I haven’t changed my mind. Fine, I’ll do it.”

“Good brat.” Unlocking then opening the front door, Levi held it open for the other man to enter first. His sharp, narrowed eyes were momentarily distracted by something he was staring at across the street.

Noticing that the raven-haired man was distracted by something he was staring at, Eren followed his gaze. Seeing nothing but darkness, parked cars, and streetlights, the younger man looked at the captain in puzzlement. “What are you looking at?”

Looking away from the street, Levi shook his head as he ushered the other inside. “Nothing of importance. Now get your ass inside.”

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

“You’re a little too good at this,” mumbled the freshly showered Eren into his folded arms. Lying on his stomach on his bed in loose sleep pants, he was becoming nothing but putty under the older man’s hands. Even when fingers dug hard into his flesh to fix the muscle adhesions, which Eren had learned is what the knots in his body were called, he didn’t complain or move away.

Although Eren couldn’t see his face, he could hear the smirk in Levi’s voice. “You’re actually doing very well. Most people squirm and groan a lot because it hurts. Mikasa is the only one I know, besides you, that actually enjoys it.”

“Where did you learn it?”

 “Asa, Mikasa’s mother, is a massage therapist and specializes in deep tissue massage. She taught me a few things. Mikasa is also a certified massage therapist but doesn’t practice it anymore.”

“Why not?” Eren asked curiously while Levi paused to scoop more body cream out of the jar. The stuff felt cool and tingled whenever it was rubbed into his skin. It smelled like some kind of mint, which the green-eyed man didn’t mind.

Knee pressed into the bed to balance himself, Levi was bent over just enough while he continued to work the pesky knots out of the younger man’s body. “She’s a bodyguard now.”

Picturing a faceless, dark-haired young woman with a sword and gun, Eren remarked, “That’s kind of bad ass. I guess it runs in the family.”

“You have no idea, brat,” murmured Levi, his hands stopping right above the other’s tailbone. Having already massaged Eren’s arms and legs, there was very little left for him to do. “How do you feel now?”

“I think I need a cigarette,” joked Eren as he propped himself up by his elbows so that he could look over his shoulder at the raven-haired man.

Using his knee to push off from the bed, the veteran then screwed the cap onto the jar of body cream. “You better be joking, brat. I’m not changing the sheets tonight.”

“That’s fine. I don’t mind sleeping in my filth.” Commented Eren before he slowly eased himself onto his back in a more comfortable position. Feeling more rested and relaxed now, he felt like a ragdoll as he lay sprawled out on his back, his clean, damp hair a dark halo spread around him.

Tch. I mind and if I mind, then we have a problem,” stated Levi as he sat down in a chair, crossing his arms and legs.

“What are you doing?” Asked Eren as he eased himself up by his elbows, his eyes no longer half-hooded.

Leaning back in the chair and tilting his head, the older man drawled, “What does it look like? I’m taking a break. You really are a lot of work, brat.”

Eren rolled his eyes. “No, really.”

“I’m going to sit here for a bit while you sleep.”

“Um, why?”

“I have a thing for watching you sleep,” snarked the steel-eyed soldier. His turn to roll his eyes, he then explained, “You had night terrors the other night. I’m just going to keep an eye on you until I’m sure everything is fine.”

Certain that Levi had to be tired and not wanting him to sit awake for hours, Eren suggested, “Or you could just do what you did the other night.”

Studying the younger soldier, his own face indifferent as usual, he retorted, “Why, so you can entrap me again?”

“If you’re bothered by it, you could just tie me up,” the brown-haired male suggested though it was just a joke, of course.

Staring at Eren for several long minutes in silence, he seemed to be considering it. Finally rising from the chair, the older man stated, “Fine. I’ll go get the rope...”

Watching Levi slowly stride out of the room, Eren hoped to Ymir and every other potential god out there that the man was just messing with him.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“I should have tied your ass up,” grumbled Levi, once again trapped in a prison of Eren’s making. Despite his complaining, he didn’t actually seem to mind so much.

Grunting out something unintelligible, the younger man hid his face in the other’s clothed chest. Winding his arms tighter around the taller male, he had every intention of not getting up. He was very comfortable right now and just wanted to sleep a little longer.

Shaking Eren lightly by the shoulder, the captain said, “Come on, brat. I have to piss.”

The cyan-eyed man blearily murmured, “Then piss…”

“That’s fucking disgusting, brat.”

Eren laughed into Levi’s chest and without looking, he knew he was being glared at. Taking pity on his prisoner, the younger man carefully rolled off the other man. Eyes still shut, he curled on his side and made no move to get up.

A few minutes later, Levi poked his head in the room and snapped, “Oi, brat! Get your ass up or I’m going by myself.”

Grudgingly rising to a sitting position, Eren rubbed at his blurry eyes as he slowly stretched. “Where are we going?”

“You’ll see. The sooner you’re ready, the sooner you’ll see,” came the captain’s frustratingly cryptic answer before he walked away again.

“Fine, fine,” Mumbled Eren as he slid out of the bed. Rolling his shoulders, he noticed that his body felt a little sore, but it felt better and was no longer taut. Glancing at the clock, he noted that it was around six in the morning.

Gingerly brushing his hair to remove the tangles, he then pulled it back into a bun. Checking his phone, he noticed several silly drunk messages from most of his friends. There was even a horribly misspelled one from Jean saying he’d suck his dick, which made him cringe at the thought even though he knew it was just a joke. Unfortunately, there were no messages from Connie or Sasha, which was odd in itself since the two always texted like it was about to go out of style.

 Making a mental note to call Connie later, Eren left the room to take a shower. Once naked and under the hot spray, he was mindful not to get his hair wet while he stood motionless for a few minutes. Brain rebooting, he started to recall the events of the previous night. Closing his eyes, he could hear Hanji’s haunting words echoing in his head, effectively reminding him of her warning:

You have the power to break him.

Remembering what he’d ultimately said to Levi and what he’d done to the man as a result, he still didn’t regret it even if it made him feel vulnerable. How the older man felt about it, he wasn’t sure since Levi hadn’t really said anything about it. Granted, the man hadn’t really had too much of a chance to be alone to process everything. Still, he couldn’t help thinking about what he wouldn’t give just to know what Levi was thinking right now.

It was strange how disorientating yet comforting it felt how nothing, yet everything, had changed.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

A couple of hours later, Levi stopped his bike near what looked like a cabin deep in the forest. The cabin reminded Eren of the kind of building park rangers tended to hang around when they weren’t out and about checking on things. If they were way out here in the forest, did that mean they would be…?

“Are we going hunting or something?” Asked the long-haired man, hands buried in the pockets of his jacket.

“Or something,” replied the raven-haired man as he gestured for the other to follow him. “Come along, you impatient brat…”

Following the taller man inside of the building, the first thing he noticed was that there didn’t appear to be anyone else around. It was organized and tidy, which made him suspect that the older man possibly owned this place. The cabin appeared to have a small kitchen attached to a living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. Leading him into the bedroom, Levi headed straight for the closet and pulled out a chest. Lifting it and placing it on the bed, he opened it to reveal some type of gear that looked oddly familiar to Eren.

“Is that…?”

“Omni-Directional Maneuvering Gear,” confirmed Levi as he stepped away to rummage in the nearby dresser for something. Finding whatever it was, he draped it over his arm and walked back to the bed. Lying it out on the bed next to the chest, Eren realized it was some type of black body suit with a bunch of straps. “Since you’re close to my size, it should fit you. Unlike the clothes you’re wearing now, this is supposed to be tight.”

“Don’t you have to have training and a permit to use this thing?” Asked Eren, ignoring Levi’s little jab at his tight attire, as he poked at some metal canister which appeared to be where the fuel was stored. Compared to three-hundred years ago, everything was much more compact and required less fuel now. In a museum, he’d once actually seen a mannequin equipped with the survey corps uniform and ODM gear. It looked bulkier and more ancient compared to the upgraded version that was laid out before his eyes.

“Yes, but don’t worry about that.”

Eren raised an eyebrow. “Are you expecting me to put this on and kill myself?”

“I expect you to do whatever it is you want to do, Eren. If you want to try it, then try it. The choice is yours. Whatever happens, I won’t let you get hurt,” honestly spoke Levi. Glancing down at the gear, he added, “Besides…I bet you’re a natural.”

“And if your bet is wrong?” Challenged the younger man as he crossed his arms and pictured himself flying face first into a tree.

Gunmetal eyes flicked over to stare evenly at the slighter male. “If I’m wrong, I won’t kiss you.”

Ah, so he had been thinking about the kiss. Good to know. And now he felt determined as hell to prove the captain right. How he would do that exactly, he didn’t know since he’d never even watched a training video on the subject. “You’re on. But if I end up making out with a tree, I’m blaming you.”

“Fair enough. Get changed. If you need help, call me,” stated Levi right before he strode out of the bedroom with his own body suit draped over his arm.

Shucking his jacket off, he dropped it on the bed before he peeled his shirt and jeans from his body. Picking up the suit, he studied it carefully for a minute before he attempted to put it on. Surprisingly, it was easier than he had suspected that it would be. Before he knew it, he had the gear in place and the straps adjusted correctly so that everything stayed in place. Standing in front of the mirror, he felt confused as he stared at himself. How had he known how to put it on? It looked complicated as hell, and yet Eren had nearly effortlessly put it all on.

Eren must have been standing there gawking at himself longer than he thought because before he knew it, a silky voice spoke near his ear, making him jump a bit. “You ready, brat?”

“Uh, yeah, maybe…no?” Meekly answered Eren as he turned to look at the older man. Whatever train of thought was occurring halted the moment he saw Levi clad in that tight black bodysuit and ODM gear. He looked really good, like he was made for it.

Turning towards the door to exit, the raven-haired man said, “Good, let’s go.”

Well, at least Eren got to die with that hot ass image of Levi burned into his retinas…

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Once outside, Levi did take the time to patiently point out and explain how everything worked. After he was finished talking, Eren then questioned, “Why do we still have this type of gear if there are no titans around?”

“It’s mainly used for rescue purposes by first responders, but it’s also used for recreation, though people have to sign a waiver in case someone dies,” answered Levi. Looking out towards the gigantic trees, he then said, “As for the titans, you never know. Nothing is ever guaranteed in life. For all we know, those shitty things could always pop up again tomorrow…”

Following the older man’s gaze, Eren frowned slightly. “I hope not.”

“Me, too. No need to repeat hell…even though history likes to repeat itself,” murmured Levi quietly almost as if he were speaking more to himself. Shaking himself from his thoughts, he directed his attention back to Eren. “I’ll be close by at all times, but if we get separated somehow, there’s a flare gun attached. Stay where you are, I will find you. Do you understand?”

The younger man nodded curtly. “Yeah, got it.”

In a burst of movement so quick that Eren nearly missed it, Levi was sailing through the air and weaving between the trees with such grace and precision that the shorter male stood there gawking after him for far longer than he should have. How anyone could move like that, so perfectly and so swiftly, was mind boggling to the viridian-eyed man.

Closing his eyes and breathing deeply as he mentally prepared himself, Eren felt all trepidation and uncertainly suddenly vanish like smoke in the wind. As if guided by instinct alone, he opened his eyes and shot off from the ground, each grappling hook striking and locking onto every intended target. As he weaved through the trees, flipping in the air as he did so, his hair tie came undone. Long chocolate hair whipped free in the wind as he soared high above the trees. The morning sun shined warmly against his face, contrasting brilliantly with the cold air that bit at his skin. Continuing to sail above, feeling freer than he ever remembered feeling in his life, his eyes closed momentarily as he heard faint, familiar voices laughing around him with such hope and promise. He didn’t know who they were, but hearing them made him feel at peace, a kind of peace he felt only around close friends, and around someone else he regarded as more than a friend. Opening his eyes again, he effortlessly twisted in the air as his Caribbean eyes sought out the one person that dominated his mind these days.

True to the captain’s word, he wasn’t very far from Eren at all. Looking over his shoulder at the younger man, Levi smiled at him proudly before firing ahead again as if beckoning him to follow.

Zipping downwards to follow Levi, he easily caught up to him within moments, though he suspected that was because the older man had allowed him to.

Landing smoothly on the strong branch of a gigantic tree, Levi stood there waiting for him. As soon as Eren landed near him, the older man turned and stalked over to him like a predator to prey. Pushing him against the bark of the tree, Levi’s left hand gripped Eren’s hip, pulling him flush against him while his right hand rose to cup the younger man’s smooth jaw. Tilting his head, the raven-haired soldier fervently claimed the younger man’s mouth, forcing it open as electricity sizzled and flared between them. Breaking the intense kiss for a moment, Levi rested his forehead against Eren’s while they both panted for breath and from arousal.

“I told you, a natural,” Levi whispered huskily before he crushed his mouth to Eren’s again, deepening the kiss even more as he ground his hips against Eren’s, both of them already heavily aroused. Hands scrabbled for purchase against the taller man’s back, one raking up to drag fingers against his undercut before tangling themselves in his silky black hair.

At this point, Eren didn’t care if Levi ripped off his clothes and fucked him against the tree. All he knew was that he wanted him more than anything else.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Chapter Text

Without breaking the smoldering kiss, Levi effortlessly hoisted Eren up by hooking under his spread thighs, hands running down and behind to firmly grab each ample, muscular ass cheek the moment long legs had wrapped around his hips. Grinding their clothed erections together, the older male used his mouth to mimic exactly what he wanted to do to the younger man.

Breaking the overwhelming kiss to suck in much needed air, Eren rolled his head back, submitting his long, tanned throat while he panted. When lips, tongue, and teeth found their way to his neck, electricity shot through his veins and straight to his groin, causing him to cry out and buck hard against the other man.

“Your neck is your weakness, huh,” murmured Levi against Eren’s neck, chuckling low in his throat. Why that amused the older man, Eren didn’t know and didn’t particularly care at the moment.

After a particularly hard, grinding thrust and teeth dragging against his neck, Eren practically screamed, “Fuck! Levi!

“Noisy brat,” commented the raven-haired man, his strong hands squeezing the younger man’s ass, causing fingers to dig into his clothed flesh. There would probably be bruises later, but he didn’t care. Levi could mark him up however he liked, wherever he liked, as long as he didn’t fucking stop.

“That’s…” Panted Eren, finding it hard to form coherent thoughts as he rolled his hips, desperate for more. “…your fault.”

Levi licked a stripe from his neck all the way up to his ear, his mouth hovering there while he growled, “Wasn’t complaining…”

Shivering from the hot breath that tickled his skin, Eren turned his head to chase the other man’s addictive lips. Hand anchored to the base of the older man’s skull, he yanked him closer so that he could crush their mouths together again. Boosted by Eren’s fervor, the raven-haired man shoved him harder against the tree, keeping him pinned there as he relentlessly ground against him.

Once again parting for air, they both panted harshly against each other’s necks as they continued to rut against one another, each thrust more desperate than the last. Due to weeks of sexual tension and many cold showers, Eren was already close and he could tell Levi was, too. Pleasure coiling tight, so damn tight in his body with every nerve on fire, it felt unbelievable. If this, just frottage, felt this damn good, then he could only imagine just how incredible it would feel to finally feel Levi’s naked flesh pressed against his own.

Just imagining it, Levi naked and above him, pinning him down to something as he fucked him, was enough to send Eren over the edge. Eyes rolling to the back of his skull, the green-eyed man came so hard he didn’t know if he’d screamed or not. Face pressed to the older man’s neck, he clung to him as he slowly came down from his blissful high.

Still holding the slighter male up with one hand, Levi reached up to sweep long locks of chocolate hair out of the other man’s sweaty face. There was fondness in his low voice as he murmured, “Such a loud brat…”

Eren merely chuckled as he held onto Levi, one of his hands roaming up the back of the other man’s neck. Feeling perspiration against his fingertips, he smirked to himself upon realizing that he’d finally gotten the captain to break into a sweat. Of all the times they’d sparred, Levi had always beaten his ass without so much as a droplet on his brow.

“Gross,” muttered Levi as he slowly and gingerly lowered the younger man back onto his feet but kept his hands on the other’s hips to keep him steady, just in case. Catching the affronted look on the other man’s flushed face, the taller soldier quickly amended, “Not you. I like your filth. The mess in my pants is what’s gross to me.”

Eren snorted at that, trying not to smile, though he failed miserably at that. Shifting his weight from one leg to the other, Eren could feel the sticky mess, which made him cringe from just how disgusting it felt to have that mess trapped in his underwear. He’d have to go commando once they’d changed back into their street clothes, but that wasn’t a big deal to him. “Guess we should head back…”

“Think you can keep up with me?” Queried Levi, a playful challenge in his silver eyes and a barely there smirk ghosting his lips. Without waiting for a response, the raven-haired man was already shooting through the air like some heat seeking missile.

Never one to turn down a challenge, Eren spit out a curse before he bolted off the tree, as well. Rocketing through the air, he was hot on the captain’s heels even though he had a sneaking suspicion that the older man was purposely letting him catch up.

The only thing Eren knew for certain was that that man was truly a marvel to behold.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After peeling off the bodysuit and ODM gear, Eren had cleaned himself up as best as he could considering the bathroom only had a sink and toilet. Still, a washcloth and warm water was better than nothing at all. Once he was finished, he’d shimmied back into his street clothes, sans underwear.

Peering at his reflection in the mirror above the sink, the long-haired soldier traced his ocean eyes over the bruise-like marks marring his sun-kissed skin. Running the tips of his fingers absently over the love bites, he felt heat spike in his groin area at the fresh memory of just what they’d done. Of what he wanted to do again, only this time, he wanted more. Closing his eyes and breathing deeply, Eren realized that he could still smell Levi on him. Could still taste him, too. Knowing It was probably greedy of him, the green-eyed man couldn’t help craving more.

Turning the water on again, he splashed his face multiple times with cold water to help cool off and hopefully distract himself. After his face felt numb enough from the cold water, Eren clutched the sides of the sink hard as he wrestled for control again.  He wasn’t fifteen anymore or even a damn teenager. Sure, his teenage years still loomed at him from around the corner, but that didn’t excuse his raging libido.

Naturally, he’d blame Levi for it because before Levi, his dick hadn’t even so much as twitched since the terrorist attack.

A sudden rapping at the door, followed by Levi’s voice, knocked the younger man back into reality. “Oi, brat, you done in there? What’s taking so long? Are you taking a shit?”

Ripping the door open, Eren retorted, “Why, is that your fetish?”

Tch. Not even close,” denied Levi, rolling his eyes. Gunmetal eyes then trailed the length of the other man’s body, stopping to scrutinize the denim stretched taut over Eren’s crotch and thighs. Although it appeared as if he enjoyed the sight of just how tight those jeans were on him, the captain still pointed out, “Brat, your pants are about to split. As flattering as it is to have you borrow my shit, we need to get you new clothes.”

Eren shrugged flippantly. “Eh, it’s not that bad.”

Somewhat distracted by the clear outline of the younger man’s cock, Levi inquired, “Can your dick even breathe in there? I think it’s suffocating in there, brat.”

“Why don’t you come find out?” Eren shot back, partially serious, but mostly in jest.

Levi paused as if he were seriously tempted to; however, his rational brain ended up winning the match. “No, we’re going to head out now and get you some new clothes whether you like it or not.”

Ugh, hell no. Although Eren groaned inwardly, his displeasure must have shown on his face judging from Levi’s unimpressed look. The younger man absolutely abhorred shopping of any kind, especially for clothes. Clothes were the worst. It was a pain to find anything decent that fit him right, unfortunately. Eren tended to wear whatever he had until it was just three strings. “I don’t need new clothes.”

“You will after I throw all your shit out. Don’t think I won’t,” warned Levi as he stepped into the bathroom to corner the slighter male against the wall without touching him. “If you want to walk around my house naked, I don’t care. Go for it, but I doubt you’ll get very far in the nude once you step outside the house.”

Proving that he was every inch the stubborn brat that Levi often called him, Eren retorted, “I’ll just wear your clothes, then.”

“If that is what you really want,” started Levi, sending the younger man a meaningful look that Eren didn’t fully understand until he spoke again. “Then I guess you won’t be wearing me.”

Immediately realizing just what the other soldier had implied, Eren knew in that moment that he had lost. Levi was one sly bastard, all right. “Fine. I’ll get new clothes, you ass.”

Although Levi’s face didn’t show it, Eren could tell that the older man was pleased by his surrender. Reaching around the slighter male to straighten up the slight mess, Levi hovered partially behind him. Mouth near the shell of his ear, his warm breath both warming and tickling his skin, he purred, “Trust me, brat, I  feel much better than any of my clothes do. You’ll find that out soon enough.”

Dick twitching in interest at those words, Eren silently damned Levi for what felt like the umpteenth time that day. As he climbed onto the bike behind the veteran, pressing close to him as his arms wrapped tight around his waist, Eren was tortured by thoughts of what it’d look like to have the older man’s naked body swathed over him like a blanket. Pinning him down onto whatever surface while shielding him from the view of uninvited, prying eyes.

It baffled him because some people thought Eren was the tease.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

In what felt like days to Eren, they’re arrived in roughly two hours’ time at what was called The Paradis Commons. It was an open-air shopping center with a range of nationally known retailers, casual dining & a multiplex. It was nice and rather pleasant but was obviously catered more towards potential tourists visiting Paradis.

After he’d climbed off the motorcycle and hung the helmet over one of the handlebars, Eren sighed. “You’re not going to budge on this, are you.”

Staring at the green-eyed man with his default expression, he scoffed, “Tch. Keep complaining and I’ll make you try on suits.”

Oh hell no. “Yeah. I don’t think so. The only way you’re getting me in a suit is when I’m dead.” Eren then glanced at his phone to check the time, noting silently that it was around noon.

Averting his gaze from the slightly shorter male to focus on their surroundings, Levi quietly murmured, “That’s if there’s even enough of you left to bury in a suit.”

Barely catching his words and finding them puzzling, the younger of the two questioned, “What was that?”

Looking back at Eren now, Levi shrugged. “Nothing. Just a joke considering both of us were nearly blown to shitty pieces….”

Oh, that made more sense then, though his gut instincts seemed to state otherwise. Walking beside the slightly taller male, Eren nudged him lightly with his elbow. “Joke or not, let’s try not to get blown up.”

Although Levi didn’t comment, he did offer the other a curt nod as a silent response. The younger soldier had enough sense in him not to push others when they weren’t willing to share their thoughts or feelings. Whatever was going on in the older man’s head was directly affecting his mood now. It wasn’t a constant thing, but there were times when Levi said or did things that Eren found mystifying. It was similar to voicing a private joke, only it wasn’t a joke at all. The thirty-five-year-old man definitely was lugging around some pretty heavy baggage there.

Eren was determined to lighten his load and one of the ways that he’d do it would be by distracting him from whatever was afflicting him.

“Well, well, well…looks like we have a winner here,” remarked the teal-eyed male as he stopped in front of a clothing shop obviously marketed to adolescent girls and young women. In the windows stood several mannequins wearing skimpy, glittery outfits. He pointed at one that was wearing a hot pink glittery crop top and bright yellow hot pants that were practically see-through. “What do you think, Levi?”

“This is a store for girls,” drawled Levi, looking unimpressed as he stared at the ugly ass outfit that made his lip curl in disgust.

Smiling like the little shit that he knew he was, Eren argued, “It says Eternally 21. I‘m twenty-one, so this store is obviously for me.”

“Funny…” Breathed Levi low as he moved closer to the younger man, invading his space. Not giving a single shit that there were pockets of people milling about the commons, the captain openly cupped and then squeezed Eren’s dick in his hand. Grinding the heel of his palm against the other man’s hardening cock, the raven-haired man growled, “…this feels like a dick to me.”

His smile dropping like a corpse, Eren’s voice snagged in his throat, but still managed to emit a pathetic little squeak, nonetheless. Although he was far from being an exhibitionist, his clothed cock couldn’t help reacting to the other man’s rough touch.

The doors to Eternally 21 automatically slid open, spitting out gusts of heavy, nauseating perfume as a young, heavily pregnant woman and man stepped outside into the fresh air.

“BIG BRO!” Screeched the young woman in a combination of shock and disbelief. Shock because she hadn’t expected to run into Levi here, and disbelief because he had his hand on another guy’s genitals. Her large emerald eyes bugged out as she shamelessly gawked at the unabashed scene before her.

The man beside her, who appeared to be a bit older than her, looked mildly scandalized at the scene before him. Unlike the woman standing beside him, this man had the decency to avert his gaze. Despite this, he couldn’t help cracking a joke. “Uh, Levi, I could be wrong, but…I don’t think the kid is packing a gun in there.”

“You never know with this brat…” Hand dropping away from Eren’s groin, Levi turned to address the couple. Despite being caught openly groping another man’s dick in public, his face remained unaffected. “Isabel, Farlan.”

“I’m not a kid,” Eren pointed out with a scoff. He didn’t bother to mention that if he were actually a kid, a grown man like Levi grabbing his privates would result in some police intervention.

The man, presumably the one called Farlan, held up his hands and calmly said, “My mistake. You just look young, is all.”

“Uh, it’s ok, man. I’m not mad.” Momentarily distracted by Farlan, Eren scrutinized him. Noting him to be of average height, with short dark blond hair, and grey eyes, and a calm, serious demeanor, Eren couldn’t help being reminded of Levi. If this man was indeed Levi’s friend or some type of acquaintance, which he was assuming he was, then it made since considering birds of a feather often flocked together. Or something along those lines.

Though he was loathe to admit it openly, Eren was grudgingly aware that Jean and he were alike in several ways. It’s probably why they’d clashed from the very beginning, and still did at times being the hard-headed, hot-tempered men that they both undoubtedly were. Despite what some would claim, Eren wasn’t oblivious to everything. He tended to notice things about people and often didn’t say anything because most of the time, there just wasn’t any point in doing so. Many people were often immovably set in their ways and refused to see the truth for what it was. 

Levi reached up to ruffle Eren’s hair, which caused some of the chocolate brown strands to pull free from the bun. Ignoring the look and noise of protest from the younger soldier, the veteran then asserted, “You’re a fetus compared to me.”

Stuffing his hands into his jacket pockets, the green-eyed man blew some stray hairs out of his tanned face. He couldn’t help wondering what would happen to him if he messed with Levi’s perfect hair in public. The long-haired man would have to file that idea away for later use. Putting extra emphasis on old, he snarked, “Whatever you say, old man.”

“Who is this, big bro?” Questioned the pregnant woman, snagging the attention of all three men present. Studying her more closely, Eren noted that she looked close to his own age. With bright red hair divided into pigtails, vivid green eyes, and a boisterous personality, he couldn’t help liking her right away. He could see some of himself in her, well, his younger self, at least. He wondered if this was the same Isabel that Levi had mentioned to him not too long ago. The one that would love (and steal) Eren’s anime shirts.

Something about Isabel bothered Eren, though. There was something particularly familiar about her, as if he’d met her before…

“This is Eren. Eren, this is Isabel and Farlan. They’re old friends of mine,” introduced the captain, his slate eyes unreadable as he watched them closely.

Although Levi’s face was its usual mask of indifference, Eren had the distinct feeling that these two people were very important to the older man. The shorter soldier would make sure to treat them as kindly and patiently as Levi treated Eren’s own friends, as rambunctious and crazy as they often were. 

“Eren? Is this The Eren?” Hastily questioned the redhead, her big green eyes wide with both shock and awe.

Sending a meaningful look at the long-haired solider, Levi confirmed, “I only know one Eren.”

Not missing the warmth in the veteran’s silver eyes as he gazed at him, Eren felt his heart flutter a bit. It was amazing just how one simple look could leave him feeling breathless and tongue tied. Hearing Farlan cough politely, Eren was then reminded that they had company. Turning his attention back to Levi’s longtime friends, he offered his hand to Farlan, which he shook politely in greeting. The caribbean-eyed man was about to shake Isabel’s hand when the unruly woman had launched herself at him without warning.

“Oh, my god! Big bro has told us so much about you! I’ve never seen him so—” Jabbered Isabel as she hung her arms around Eren’s neck, hanging off him like a little monkey despite her big, round belly. Before she could chatter excitedly more, the dirty blond-haired man had gingerly pried her off of the green-eyed soldier, smiling apologetically at Eren as he did so.

Though he was caught off guard by her enthusiastic behavior, Eren quickly recovered. Waving a dismissive hand at Farlan, he said, “Uh, yeah, he’s mentioned you to me before. Said you’d steal my anime shirts.”

“That’s probably true,” replied Isabel with a little grin. Standing before Eren, she stood very close to him as she stared up at the tall soldier, her big emerald eyes twinkling as if starstruck. “Hot damn, you sure are cute, Eren! If I wasn’t married to Farlan, I’d snatch you right up!”

Uncertain of what to say to that, Eren merely opted for silence and a polite smile. Chancing a glance over his shoulder at the veteran, he noticed the man looked mildly amused by the interaction. There was no possessive look, no jealous rage. Just silent affection.

Directing his attention to Farlan, the raven-haired soldier said, “I didn’t know you both would be in town.”

“We wanted to surprise you, Levi,” explained Farlan. Leaning closer to his taller friend, his gray eyes crinkled in mirth as he whispered, “Truth is, Izzy has been driving me insane. She kept badgering me about seeing you and meeting Eren. She’s been going crazy with all these pregnancy hormones and driving me up the walls, too.”

“Hey! I heard that!” Stomping over to her husband, the redhead punched him in the shoulder. Though it didn’t actually hurt, Farlan feigned feeling pain just for his fiery wife’s benefit.

Rubbing his shoulder, Farlan questioned, “So what brings you both here?”

Gunmetal eyes slid over to Eren, slowly roving over every inch of the younger man’s fit body. “Getting this brat a new wardrobe. All his clothes don’t fit him anymore. Just look at his pants.”

The dishwater blond winced once he noticed just how tight Eren’s jeans clung to his body. “Oh, I see. Well, we’re here because Izzy wanted to shop for baby clothes.”

“Wait…” Breathed Isabel, her impossibly large green eyes widened in realization right before tears began welling up and rolling down her cheeks. “I know you…it’s you! You…it’s you…”

Levi and Farlan exchanged quizzical looks before looking straight at Eren, both clearly baffled by Isabel's strange reaction.

“I’m sorry, I don’t—” Started the green-eyed man before slender arms wrapped around him. Burying her wet face into his chest, the redhead began to sob uncontrollably. Tightening her arms around Eren, the pregnant woman then chose to look up at him in something close to reverence while she hiccupped, tears still streaming freely down her reddened face.  

“You saved my life. It was you; I know it now. Your eyes…you have the same eyes as that boy. It’s you, I just know it. I’ve…searched for you for years, Eren. I didn’t know your name, but—” Started to explain Isabel before she got all choked up from emotion. Burying her face against his chest again, she breathed deeply several times before looking back up at him again. “They wouldn’t even tell me your name. I thought…they’d done something to you for what you did to those monsters. You killed those men for me, Eren. They were going to…going to…”

Flashes of old, long since buried memories assaulted Eren at that moment as the redhead spoke...

He remembered being ten years old and walking alone home from school. Connie and Sasha had been stuck in detention, and for once, Eren wasn’t joining them. That left him with the burden to walk himself home without his friends flanking him. Tossing his pocketknife back and forth in his hands, he whistled quietly to himself as he walked home. Passing by an alley, Eren suddenly felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up while his body tensed up painfully. The feeling sickened him, and he likened it to feeling like insects were crawling all over his bare skin. As soon as he felt the unnerving feeling, a girl cried out in pain and fear, followed by the sounds of what sounded like a violent struggle.

Despite the feeling of fear, Eren forced his body to creep further into the alley. Eyes adjusting to the darkness, he spotted two rough looking men and a young girl close to Eren’s age. One of the men was attempting to hold down the kicking and screaming girl while the other man pulled out a knife.

“Shut the little bitch up!” Hissed the man with the knife. Turning his attention to the girl, he leered. “Now, you’re gonna be a real good girl and you’re going to do what we tell you to, or you die.”

Before the girl could scream again, the first man clamped a dirty hand over her mouth. Biting him hard enough to draw blood, the man hissed in pain as he ripped his hand away. Angry now, he smacked her across the face repeatedly until she stopped making noise, temporarily dazed. The second man laughed low as he started to unbuckle his belt while he sickeningly caressed the girl’s bare leg with the blade of his knife.

Absolute boiling hot fury erupted in Eren then. Teeth bared, he seethed as he watched the men hurt the girl. He wasn’t certain what they were planning to do with her exactly, but he knew they were going to hurt her even worse if he did nothing. There was no time to fetch the cops, no time to even grab an adult to aid her. Eren instinctively knew that he had to act now before it was too late.

Spotting a broken wooden broom, Eren snatched it up as quietly as possible. Frantically looking around, he next spotted some dirty old rope wrapped around a rusted bicycle. Using his knife to free the rope from the bike, he then quickly placed the knife against the end of the broken broom as he tied the rope tightly around it, creating a makeshift bayonet. Testing it to make sure it would stay firmly attached, he then decided that it would have to do.

Charging towards the two men, Eren unleashed his full fury as he directed his attack at the man with the knife. Putting all his strength behind it, the boy slammed into the man, the broom breaking with a crack from the force of the blow as the knife tore into the man’s belly. Screaming in pain, the man dropped his knife as he clutched at himself in shock.

“What the fuck—” Started the first man and before he could jump to his feet, Eren had snatched the fallen knife and had whirled around on him. Knife raised high in the air, the boy lunged at the second man as he swung the blade down, making it sink grotesquely into one of the man’s eyes. Staggering back from the shock and agonizing pain of the attack, the knife slipped out as his back hit the wall. Pressing a hand to his injured eye, the panting man glared at Eren with his good eye. “You fucking little brat! I’m going to make you wish you were dead! You and this little bitch are going to be dog food!”

Something about the man’s cruel words made Eren snap even further, causing him to see disturbing glimpses of a little girl being eaten alive by dogs. Roaring in unadulterated rage, a roar that sounded almost inhuman, Eren charged at the second man again. Slamming into the man, Eren stabbed the man repeatedly, blood spraying all over his face and body. No matter how the man screamed and struggled, the green-eyed boy did not stop. The hurricane of wrath that was Eren Jäger Vogel didn’t stop until rough hands jerked him away from the other man, which caused him to drop the knife.

Slamming him against the wall, knocking the breath out of him, the first man snarled into his face. “I’m going to rip your tiny ass balls off for this, you little monster!”

Struggling wildly to free himself, Eren writhed violently in the hold of this repulsive monster of a man. He didn’t stop struggling even when cruel punches rained down upon his face and little body. Spotting the knife still embedded in the man’s stomach, he kicked out until his foot slammed against the knife, forcing it to ram deeper into the man’s flesh. Crying out in pain, the man dropped the boy as his hands twitched near his midsection. Coughing out blood, he sank slowly down to his knees, no longer concerned with the threat the loomed before him.

Picking up the fallen knife, slicked by blood, Eren glared down at the pathetic excuse for a human being. No, it wasn’t human. It was a monster, a mere thing pretending to be human. It deserved to die, just like the other one was doing right now. Panting harshly, he took a step towards the man, but halted the moment he felt a small shaky hand grab him by the shoulder. Turning his head, he’d nearly stabbed the girl that stood there. Big green eyes, full of unshed tears, stared at him imploringly.

He had done enough, and yet at the same time, he felt like he hadn’t.

“Please…please…please,” the girl begged and the moment her tears broke free from their prison, Eren dropped the knife.

“Eren?” Called a concerned voice. A devastatingly familiar voice that never failed to make him shiver.  

As if in a trance, Eren recited words, words he felt as if he’d once said before. When or where he’d uttered them before, he didn’t know. He just knew he’d said them a long time ago. “I disposed of some dangerous beasts. Mere animals that just happened to resemble humans…”

Strong hands then gripped his shoulders, which caused Eren to snap out of his daze before he slowly lifted up his head to peer into the concerned silver eyes belonging to a face so beautiful it made him shudder. Discolored eye, scars and all, Levi was still hauntingly perfect.

“Eren, is it true? Was that you? Did you kill two men to save Isabel?” Quietly inquired the raven-haired veteran.

The viridian-eyed soldier nodded as he slowly sank down to his knees, Levi carefully following him down. He then breathed, “I’m sorry…”

Smoothing long, mocha colored hair out of Eren’s face, the captain quietly asked, “For what? For doing what you always do, what you have always done?”

In wonder at the situation, Farlan wrapped an arm around Isabel’s small shoulders while he remarked, “What a small world…”

Wiping away the tears from her eyes, Isabel smiled gratefully down at the green-eyed man. “Don’t be sorry, Eren. I’m alive today because of you. Those men were going to rape and kill me. You stopped them. You saved me and…if there’s anything I can ever do to repay you, I won’t hesitate.”

Peering up at Isabel, or what he thought was Isabel, Eren saw a girl with gray eyes and long dark hair staring down at him. Although it was small and sad, the dark-haired girl smiled at him.

You…I know you…Mikasa…” And the moment he’d uttered those words, the raven-haired girl had vanished, replaced now by the redhead.

Why Eren had uttered the name of Levi’s sister, he didn’t know.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After everyone had sufficiently calmed down, from his position standing near the younger man, Levi asked, “Do you want to go home?”

Seated on a bench near a coffee shop, Eren then looked up at the captain in surprise. His heart clenched and his belly felt a spark of warmth at the word ‘home.’ Home. The only place resembling a home for Eren had been Connie’s house. To now know that the older man included him in his own home, as part of it rather than just a temporary house guest, made him feel like crying. He didn’t cry, of course, but a part of him wanted to.

Looking away from that piercing gunmetal gaze, Eren responded, “No, I’m fine. I’d rather get this shopping torture over with…”

Ooo! I can help with that! I love shopping!” Exclaimed Isabel excitedly. Now that she knew who Eren truly was to her, she seemed all that more determined to glue herself to his side. Seated on the bench beside him, the green-eyed woman beamed at him.

“Would you? He needs help picking out suitable clothes. Everything he has is at least two sizes too small for him now,” said the captain while he gazed down at the other soldier.

Isabel smiled. “Sure, I don’t mind. What does he need?”

“Everyday clothes, underwear probably, some dress shirts, and slacks. As long as it fits him, and suits him fine, I don’t care,” replied the slate-eyed male while he fished something out of his pocket. Turning towards the red-haired girl, the veteran handed her something small, which she took and slipped into her purse.

Now that Levi mentioned it, Eren did notice that his boxer briefs were a bit tighter than was normal for him. As lazy as he was when it came to trying on and purchasing new clothes, the viridian-eyed man knew that Levi was right. He did need new clothes and that annoyed him because he hated going through the annoying process of finding something decent and trying it on. It was mind-numbingly boring and always made him want to tear his hair out from frustration.

Catching the movement of Levi handing something to his female friend, Eren narrowed his eyes. “That better not be what I think it is, Levi. I can pay for myself, you know.”

Face stuck in its default neutral expression, the captain drawled, “As your sugar daddy, I insist.”

Looking at each other now, both Farlan and Isabel were lost as they exchanged looks.

“As your…whatever, I also must insist against it,” said Eren stubbornly as he crossed his arms.

Ignoring the long-haired man now, Levi focused his gaze back on Isabel. “Don’t let him pay for anything.”

“Sure thing, big bro! I won’t let you down,” promised Isabel with a huge smile on her face while she stared up at one of the few people she actually respected in this world.

Ruffling her hair, Levi graced the young woman with a small, barely there smile. “I know you won’t.”

“I hope you like hot pants and skinny jeans, Levi, because that’s what I’m getting,” threatened a petty Eren.

Taking a few moments to fix Eren with a level stare, the captain then looked back at Isabel. “No skinny pants, hot pants, or anything uncouth. Got it?”

Looking at the woman out of the corner of his eye, Eren noticed that she had one of her hands behind her back. Fingers crossed, the red head cheerily replied, “Got it!”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After two hours (or what felt like two thousand years) of being dragged to numerous stores to try on countless articles of clothing, Eren sagged on a bench in exhaustion. Sipping at his coffee and hoping it returned the will to live to him, he kept his eye out for the absent men. Levi and Farlan had opted to sit this one out for different reasons. He’d thought he’d heard Farlan mumble something about taking a break from his loveable, but overbearing wife. Why the captain had chosen to slink away to wherever, he just didn't know. 

“I thought you came here for baby clothes?” Asked Eren before taking another slow sip of the hot brew.

Isabel shrugged. “I can do that later.”

Viridian eyes searching the crowd of people milling about the commons, Eren asked, “Where do you think they went?”

“Probably to cower somewhere. I know Farlan is sick of me and needs a break from my craziness, so I don’t blame him. Big bro, though…I wonder…”

“Wonder what?”

Pulling down the collar of Eren’s jacket some, Isabel looked down at very noticeable dark marks marring Eren’s sun kissed skin. “Are these from big bro? I mean, it’s ok if they are. I’m just curious.”

Remembering what had happened earlier that day, Eren felt his face heat up at the memory and for being called out by this woman. Although she wasn’t judging him, he still felt embarrassed by it. Eren wasn’t ashamed of Levi, or how he felt about him, but that didn’t mean he was comfortable airing his dirty laundry to the world. The older man was much the same way, he’d come to find out, despite him boldly grabbing Eren’s dick in public just a couple hours earlier. It would seem that if Eren pressed Levi just right, the man stopped giving a fuck and threw caught to the wind. 

Gawking at the cyan-eyed man in awe, Isabel confessed, “I can tell that he loves you. I’ve never seen him act this way with anyone, period. When he talks about you, or even looks at you, he’s…”

“On fire,” finished Eren quietly, feeling his chest constrict a bit. It still amazed him how someone like Levi, who normally wore a carefully constructed mask, was being seen through by nearly everyone that they knew. Something about Eren seemed to lay Levi bare to a world that the man had once chosen to shield himself away from.

A cruel world that seemed to do nothing but take and take.

“Yeah, that’s it!” Said the redhead as she bumped shoulders with her new friend. “And just so you know, you have my full support. Farlan’s, too. Anyone that makes big bro that happy deserves to be cherished and protected.”

Not sure how he felt about her statements, Eren mumbled, “Uh, thanks.”

As Isabel happily chattered to Eren about several things, a familiar figure broke through the crowd, followed by the woman’s dirty-blond haired husband. Something about the way Levi walked was stiff, yet purposeful, as if he were upset about something yet determined to accomplish something at the same time. Silver eyes locked on Eren, the captain stalked towards him so quickly that people actually jumped out of his way to avoid being shoulder checked by the man.

Once Levi neared the pair, he’d reached down and captured Eren by the jacket collar. Yanking him up, he snagged one of the younger man’s wrists in a vice-like grip. Tugging him along, he didn’t spare anyone else a glance as he hastily led Eren away.

Looking over his shoulder at Isabel and Farlan staring after them, he objected, “The bags—"

“—Forget them.” Came the captain’s clipped reply, his voice just as tense as his body was.

Eren frowned but didn’t dare resist being manhandled all the way to Levi’s motorcycle. He couldn’t help wondering if the older man was angry and why. He certainly seemed upset by something, but what? Did Eren do something to piss him off? He also hadn’t failed to notice that the captain was purposely not looking at him. It worried him, but there was nothing he could do right now but follow Levi without sassing him for once.

Pressed as closely and tightly as possible, the younger soldier could feel just how unbelievably tense the taller man’s body felt. Once they were both on the bike and Eren had his arms secured around Levi’s waist, the captain sped off like a devil shamelessly courting death.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Eren felt both relief and trepidation once Levi’s house loomed in the distance. Within a matter of minutes, the motorcycle roared into the driveway before stopping. Shutting off the engine, Levi yanked off his helmet and hung it on one of the handlebars. Hopping off the bike, he waited impatiently for Eren to dismount and remove his helmet. As soon as the younger soldier was free, the captain caught him by the wrist again before leading him hastily into the house.

Slamming the door shut behind them, the silver-eyed soldier whirled around to lock his heated stare on the younger man. Chest literally heaving and fists clenched, Levi immediately stalked towards Eren, effectively backing him into the door.

“Levi—” Started Eren before he was shoved none too gently against the door. A hard body quickly pinned him against the door as a hand gripped him hard by the hip. Catching Eren by the face as he wedged a thigh between the younger male’s legs, he then clamped his mouth against the other man’s. Slowly grinding his leg against Eren’s crotch, he wasted no time stealing the breath from the long-haired male.

It took Eren a few moments to realize that Levi wasn’t angry with him, he was just…oh. Oh.

Reluctantly breaking the kiss so that they could both breathe, Levi panted harshly as he continued to stoke the other man to full hardness.

Arms clinging to the other soldier as if he were a lifeline, Eren gasped for breath as his heart hammered in his chest. “Levi, where did you go earlier?”

Slightly gentler now, Levi kissed and sucked at the green-eyed man’s neck as his hand caressed the side of his face. Voice roughened by arousal, he rumbled, “I had to…put some distance between us.”

“Why?”

Teeth dragging against a tan neck, the captain growled, “You’re really asking why, brat? Isn’t it obvious? I wanted to fuck the shit out of you in front of all those people, that’s why.”

Feeling the electricity surging between them and igniting nearly unbearable need, Eren couldn’t help the breathless groan that slipped past his swollen lips. His mind now a sloppy mess and body burning with excruciating desire, Eren ran a hand up Levi’s strong back and over his undercut before disappearing into his dark hair. Gripping him by the hair, the younger male forced the taller man to look at him. “I can’t take it anymore, I want you to fuck me, Levi.”

“Not here,” responded Levi, his roughened voice sounding incredibly strained. He was clearly just as affected as Eren was, if not more.

“Then where?”

“In my bed,” huskily answered Levi, his lips lightly teasing where ear and neck met. “…where you’ll be safe and comfortable.”

As intolerably sexually aroused as he was, Eren’s heart melted more from the captain’s answer since as painfully aroused as Levi appeared, he was still putting Eren first. As impossible as it seemed, he felt even more turned on by the idea that he’d finally be taken to the older man’s bed. Shrouded by privacy and surrounded by that intoxicating scent, there was no other place on the planet Eren wanted to be right now.

Slipping his hand into Levi’s, he allowed himself to be led down the hall towards the shut door that guarded the older man’s bedroom. Hand frozen on the doorknob, the captain hesitated. “Eren, if you follow me in there…I will wreck you, take you apart…ruin you.”

Eren saw Levi’s words for what they were: a way out for him, a last chance for him to change his mind if he so chose to. As turned on as they both were, painfully so, Levi was still only thinking of Eren and that made his heart flutter in his ribcage.

It was then, in that moment, that he remembered genuine words spoken to him by Levi the night the veteran had slept beside him in Eren’s bed for the first time.

‘Anything for you, Eren.’

Draping his hand over Levi’s, he gingerly helped him turn the doorknob, expressing silently with this gesture that this wasn’t all on Levi. This was what Eren truly wanted, what they both wanted.

As soon as the older man looked at him, Eren pushed the door open and commanded, “Then ruin me.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter Text

The moment Levi had shut and locked the door behind them, Eren had shoved the older man against the door hard. Pinning him bodily against the door, the jade-eyed soldier kissed the veteran with such bruising, ardent force that Levi gasped. Sinful mouth now open for him to invade, Eren forced his tongue into the older man’s hot mouth. Eren’s tongue sliding wherever it could reach, he tasted something that was undeniably tea. Although he personally hated the taste of tea, he was surprised to find that he actually loved the way it tasted in the captain’s addictive mouth. Not willing to be passive, Levi’s tongue soon joined the passionate fray to battle with Eren’s.  

Breaking the kiss, Eren trailed his mouth down to bite and suckle at the man’s strong neck while they ground their hips together, both now painfully hard in the confines of their pants. He hummed in appreciation when he felt Levi’s hands burning a rough route over the expanse of his back before settling on kneading the younger man’s flexing ass. As he lapped and bit at Levi’s pale neck, he was idly aware of some type of annoying vibration coming from the other man. Whatever it was, a phone or sex toy, he found that he didn’t particularly care in that moment.  Whatever it was, it could wait, and would wait.

As if silently agreeing with Eren, Levi then shoved the younger soldier a few steps back before he advanced on him. With the eyes of a predator bent on tearing apart his prey, the captain then ripped Eren’s tight shirt from his body before tossing the ruined garment away. Not the least bit apologetic, his heated gaze swept over the naked torso of the younger man as hands followed the path of his eyes. Those wonderful hands slid down, fingertips gliding over the quivering abdominals belonging to a ripped body that Levi had helped shape. Reaching the waistband of Eren’s pants, the older man wasted no time in unbuckling the belt buckle and ripping the belt away before dropping it to the ground.

A sudden banging on the bedroom door knocked both soldiers out of their lustful trance. Hissing in annoyance, Levi reluctantly parted from Eren to whirl around and stalk stiffly over to the door. Voice deep from both intense arousal and anger, he growled, “What the fuck do you want?”

“It’s me. You weren’t answering your phone,” spoke a quiet female voice, one so quiet that Eren barely heard it through the door. He didn’t know who she was, but he wanted her gone, right fucking now. Any other day and time, he would be willing to walk out and meet her, but right now, all he wanted, no, all he needed, was to get Levi naked and on top of him as soon as possible.

“Hold on,” sighed Levi loudly as he raked a hand through his hair in frustration. Turning around, he cast the younger man an apologetic look as he walked back over to him. Gripping him by the waist with both hands, the captain pulled him flush against him before kissing him on the lips. When he pulled back, Eren attempted to chase after his lips, which caused the veteran to half smile fondly as he avoided another kiss. “I’ll get rid of her. Just wait for me, baby. Don’t go anywhere.”

Never in the twenty-one years of his life would Eren have believed that he’d enjoy being called baby, but the moment it dripped out of Levi’s lips, sounding like liquid sin and love at the same time, it caused spikes of heat to flare dangerously hot in his already too heated body. He decided then that he liked it and wanted to hear it again.  

Reluctantly releasing his hold on the younger man’s hips, Levi turned around and strode back to the door, fixing his hair as best as he could even though he knew it was futile. Not bothering to put on a shirt, he cracked the door open slowly before slipping out and shutting it again. Whoever was out there wouldn’t miss the darkening love bites, some new and some old, decorating Levi’s neck. And if she looked down, she probably would notice the sharp outline of the man’s erection.

While Eren impatiently waited, he glanced around to study the dimly lit room. Minimalistic and clean, it oozed of Levi in every sense. Approaching the king size bed, which was neatly made, of course, Eren lowered himself onto the edge of it. Even just sitting there, he could smell Levi’s distinctive, masculine scent, making his fingers bunch up the silky soft sheets. Really, the entire room smelled of the man and it was driving him crazy.

Although he wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, Eren could still hear the voices on the other side of the door. With how close they were, he could tell that Levi was near the bedroom door as if he were guarding it from the interloper. The woman seemed to notice Levi’s disheveled appearance, and probably the hickeys, because she then asked, “…am I interrupting something, Levi?”

“What do you want, Mikasa?”

Oh…so this was Levi’s sister. That certainly explained how she was able to get into the house without ringing the doorbell and waiting for an answer. As much as he’d been curious to meet the young woman, Eren really couldn’t give two shits right now about her, as cruel as that sounded. It was difficult to care about anyone or anything else when he was this excruciatingly turned on.

“I needed to talk to you, but you weren’t answering your phone. That’s not like you. I was…worried.”

“Is it important?”

No answer.

“Is someone going to die? Because I’m not exactly alone right now, if you haven’t figured that out already.”

“Oh…oh! I…um, no, nobody is going to die. I’m sorry, I assumed you would be alone. It can wait until later…”

Ymir damn it, this woman was sure dragging her feet for some reason. It’s like she could sense when Levi was about to get laid and was determined as hell to be a goddamn cockblock.

“He’s loud as fuck, Mikasa. Feel free to sleep in your room, but I’m warning you right now, you won’t be able to sleep because I’m about to fuck his brains out.”

Eren didn’t know if that was true about him being loud, but he didn’t doubt it. The longer they talked, and the longer he sat there squirming impatiently, the more tempted he was to stalk out there and drag Levi back into the room. If Levi’s sister wanted to listen to them fuck, fine by him. At this point he didn’t care if everyone lined up to listen just as long as he got to finally have him.

Skin too hot for what was left of his clothes, Eren rose from the bed to stand. He unbuttoned and unzipped before he carefully peeled the jeans off, letting them drop to the ground. Since he’d opted for going commando earlier, (thanks to his semen-stained underwear), the viridian-eyed man was completely naked now. Half-tempted to touch himself, the long-haired man fought to keep his arms glued to his sides. He wanted Levi to be the one to touch him, all of him.

“O-oh, I see. I’ll just call you tomorrow. I’m sorry, Levi.”

“It’s fine. I’ll talk to you later.”

Finally taking the hint, the woman called Mikasa finally left much to Eren’s immense relief.

A moment later, the bedroom door opened again and then was shut and locked after the captain had entered. Despite appearing visibly distracted by his own troublesome thoughts, it didn’t last long. The moment slate eyes landed on Eren’s very bare and aroused state, he was already crossing the room. Splaying his fingers against the younger man’s chest, he shoved Eren down on the bed before he crawled over him like a beast about to feed.

Elbows propping his body up, Eren smirked as he watched the older male. “You gonna fuck my brains out now, huh?”

Levi chuckled low as his mouth scorched a hot, wet trail from Eren’s neck, collarbone, and then to his chest to suck and gnaw at a nipple. “Heard that, did you.”

“I’d like to feel it, not hear it,” snarked the brown-haired man as his body reacted enthusiastically to the other man.

Drifting his mouth lower now, his breath hot against sun-kissed skin, Levi murmured, “Brat.”

Impatient for more than teasing touches of a mouth and hands, Eren noticed that the captain was still frustratingly fully dressed while he himself was as bare as the day he’d been born. “Are you going to take your clothes off, or should I tear them off myself?”

The raven-haired man chuckled against Eren’s skin, his mouth precariously close to the younger male’s groin. Poking his tongue out, he leaned down more to lightly tease the head of Eren’s erect cock with the tip of his tongue. Watching the cyan-eyed man’s body jerk in surprise, the older soldier then crawled back off of the bed. Ignoring the noise of complaint and glare shot his way, Levi shrugged his leather jacket off before moving his hands to slowly undo each button from his navy-blue dress shirt while his eyes remained locked on the younger male.

Having seen Levi’s bare torso before, it was much different now. All those other times, be it at the fitness center or in the house, he’d subtly cast hasty glances without lingering too long. Now that they were in a private setting, and were about to have sex, Eren could look as much as he wanted without being called out or feeling like some kind of depraved pervert. Well, in a sense, he was one, but so was Levi judging by the way those gunmetal colored orbs hungrily raked over him.

The more skin that was laid bare to his eyes, the hotter the fire licked within Eren as he watched. He watched intently as a belt was unbuckled and jeans unbuttoned and unzipped. Dropping his pants, Levi stood there a moment doing nothing as green eyes trailed over the length of his nearly naked body. Eyes stopping on black boxer briefs, the same type that Eren himself liked to wear. Form fitting, they complimented the captain’s very fit thighs and ass very nicely. Focusing on the very noticeable bulge that was the captain’s dick straining against the dark cloth, viridian eyes widened considerably. Fuck, the man was huge and probably would appear bigger the moment that beast was free from its prison. Although he didn’t exactly have a size kink, the younger soldier couldn’t help feeling excited, nonetheless.

Eren watched intently, not realizing that he was holding his breathe when thumbs hooked under the waistband of the older man’s underwear. Forcing the black boxers down over fair skinned chiseled thighs, a well-endowed cock bounced from the motion before it slapped once against the captain’s ripped stomach.

Like the long-haired man had suspected, Levi looked much bigger without the underwear confining his rigid dick. Trailing his eyes over the length and girth of it, Eren wetted his lips as he silently wondered if it would actually fit inside any of his holes without killing him.

As if reading the younger male’s mind, Levi confirmed, “Yes, it’ll fit, brat. Don’t you worry about that. Now turn over.”

“What?”

Slowly advancing towards the younger soldier, the veteran growled, “You heard me. Now turn over…so I can eat you.”

Heat spiked hotter in his groin at the filthy implications of those suggestive words. Although he’d never personally experienced such an act upon his person, he wasn’t adverse to it. If anything, the idea of it excited him immensely, though he was reluctant to admit it.

Eren must have taken too long to act because before he knew it, the impatient captain had flipped him over onto his stomach. Nudging the slighter man’s legs apart with his knee, he ran his hands up his legs and to the curve of his muscular ass. Rubbing one cheek with a hand, Levi bent over to kiss and nip at the other cheek. Cheeks now spread apart, revealing his most intimate area, a tongue circled slowly around the dusky pink pucker before it plunged inside without warning, causing the younger man to cry out. Intimately stroking his insides, the tongue worked hard to take him apart until he was nothing but a trembling, moaning mess on the bed.

Damn, that felt good, too good. It was absolutely fucking filthy, and it made Eren moan like a whore as he ground against the mattress, desperate for more. As amazing as it felt, the tongue wasn’t enough, not even close. He wanted more, so much fucking more.

As if once again reading his mind, the tongue withdrew only to be replaced by a slick finger that pushed into his hole before wriggling around experimentally. Soon enough, another lube-slickened finger pressed in to join the first. Focusing solely on the penetration, Eren was too distracted by the feeling of fingers stretching him open to wonder just where and when Levi had procured the lubricant.

“Levi…enough teasing,” panted Eren, barely coherent at this point after feeling the third finger slide in and continue spreading him open. Clawing at the sheets, he arched his defined back, eagerly pushing back against the fingers that were now fucking his ass open. Once the fingers crooked inside him, brushing against his prostate, a loud cry verging on a scream was wrenched out of him. Despite this, he found himself craving something more, something much bigger and longer.

“Oho, I’m teasing you? Tch, if anyone here is the fucking tease, it’s you, Eren,” growled the older man, his husky voice betraying that he was just as affected as the younger man. Withdrawing his fingers, he then bit one of the other male’s ass cheeks, leaving imprints of his teeth behind. Slapping Eren’s ass hard enough to leave a reddened handprint, he sat up before squeezing a copious amount of lube onto his hand. The captain sighed as he lathered the lube over every single inch of his cock, eyes sliding shut for a few moments as he stroked himself.

Propped up by his elbows, Eren glared over his shoulder at the raven-haired male. Green eyes were riveted to the sight of a hand stroking over an impressive cock that he wanted to both taste and fuck himself on. Noticing that Levi was taking longer than necessary, (in his own opinion anyway), Eren rolled until he was sitting on his haunches. Grabbing Levi by one of his strong forearms, the younger soldier used one of Annie’s impressive moves to flip the veteran in the air and onto his back. Before Levi could recover from his shock, Eren was already on him straddling his hips. Reaching behind him to guide Levi’s cock into him as he rose up, the muscles in his strong legs flexing, the green-eyed man slowly sank down on the captain’s cock. Head lolling back, exposing his long, strong throat, Eren groaned loudly as he was penetrated by a dick that was almost too big for him. He barely noticed the hands that rested under his ass, spreading him open as he took more of the veteran’s cock inside of him. Hands braced against Levi’s broad chest; his fingers curled against the hot skin the moment he’d bottomed out.

When he noticed that Levi wasn’t moving a muscle, Eren opened his eyes and looked down at the man he was straddling only to notice that he was being watched. He shuddered from that intense stare; a gaze so hot that it was almost enough to make him come.

Staring intently up at the tanned-skinned soldier, Levi breathed, “Beautiful…”

Shivering almost violently due to a word he wasn’t used to being associated with, Eren leaned over, his shoulder-length hair tickling the captain’s skin as he did so, to offer Levi a smoldering, obscene kiss before he started moving. Using the captain’s chest as leverage and the power of his strong legs, Eren slowly lifted his body up and down until he’d discovered a pace that he was more than comfortable with. Moving faster now, the long-haired man bounced up and down as he eagerly fucked himself on the taller man’s cock.

“That’s right, fuck yourself on my dick, Eren,” hissed the older man, his hands now fastened onto the other man’s hips. Not content to just lie there like some pillow prince, he helped lift Eren up and then back down again as he bucked his hips, ramming his dick fully back inside that tight heat that was driving him crazy. Head rolling back from the ecstasy of their coupling, Levi’s hands gripped the other man’s hips so hard he was sure there would be dark bruises left behind.

No longer willing to continue his passive role, the raven-haired veteran hastily sat up with Eren still impaled on his lap. Grabbing him by the face, he slotted their mouths together for a messy kiss that mimicked what his lower body was doing to the younger man. Pushing the long-haired man down onto his back, which caused his cock to slip out, the captain yanked the other by the legs to bring him flush against him. Bending one of Eren’s long legs to the slighter male’s chest, Levi leaned over him right before he rammed back inside that willing body. Not waiting for a response, the slate-eyed man began to brutally fuck into Eren at a pace so hard and fast that it had the younger man was screaming his head off as he raked his nails hard against Levi’s back. Every sound dragged from Eren’s throat and every sharp stab of desperate nails against his skin only encouraged Levi to pound into him even harder than before. Weaving his fingers into long, impossibly soft hair, Levi yanked Eren up by the hair to claim another dirty kiss from him.

Far from passive himself, Eren rocked back against Levi, loving every damn second of their rough pairing. He thought he’d heard someone yelling, but he wasn’t sure who it was exactly or even if he was imagining it. All he could truly concentrate on was the electric sensations of a heavy body sliding against his own, and into him like this was a bloody war and not just rough sex between two powerful men.

And when Eren finally came, he came untouched while being relentlessly fucked into oblivion.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

For the second time that morning, Eren awoke, but this time he didn’t dare wake up the older man. Gingerly raising his head up from a slowly rising, naked chest, the green-eyed man looked around, but didn’t find anything indicating time, besides the light softly streaming under the blackout curtains. If he had to guess, it was probably around eight or nine in the morning. That was astonishing considering Levi was still fast asleep. The man was always up before Eren and had this been any other day, he would have been awake for hours already.

Gazing down at his sleeping form, he noticed that Levi’s face looked less severe than it normally did whenever he was awake. That wasn’t a slight, really, since Eren actually found the older man’s face attractive whether it was indifferent, angry, or amused.

He looked peaceful and years younger.

Fresh memories of what they’d recently done, just mere hours before, played in his mind, which caused his limp organ to twitch with renewed interest. They’d had sex at least three more times before both soldiers had finally succumbed to sleep. Feeling heat beginning to simmer in his belly, Eren quickly diverted his thoughts before he gave in and molested this man again. He’d already woken Levi up once before to slake his own lust, not that the captain had minded…

Fuck, this wasn’t helping him any.

Feeling the pressure on his bladder increase as the minutes ticked by, Eren reluctantly untangled himself from the sleeping captain. Taking care as to not to wake the other, Eren quietly crept towards the bedroom door before unlocking it as quietly as possible. Slipping out, he walked naked to the bathroom near his own room. After he’d finished urinating, he washed his hands and crept to his room to fetch a pair of sleep pants. Not bothering with underwear since he was just going to take a shower later, he just slipped the pants on and headed towards the kitchen.

Making a bee line for the coffee machine, Eren prepared the machine to start brewing the dark liquid he was craving almost as much as something else. Thank Ymir he had already thought to ground some coffee beans the other day. He was trying his best to be as quiet as possible so that the older man could sleep in as much as he wanted. It was bad enough he’d woken him up once before by slithering between his legs to go down on him. It had ultimately resulted in the slate-eyed man rolling them over to pin Eren down on his stomach…

No, nope. He wasn’t about to head into that dangerous territory right now.

Sitting down at the kitchen table to wait, Eren tried to think of anything else besides what had recently occurred between them, as the coffee brewed. Raking his fingers through his tousled hair, he then leaned over and rested his elbows onto the table. Pressing his hands against his face, he shivered when the fresh memories relentlessly sprang to life in his mind’s eye…

Body hovering over him, Levi had lazily peppered kisses and bites from his lower back all the way up to his shoulders before he’d slowly pressed into him, his right arm draped over Eren’s to interlock their fingers. Rolling his hips slowly, yet deeply, Levi had fucked into Eren at such an excruciating slow pace that it had frustrated him. The moment the younger male had tried to buck back to urge him to move faster, the captain had clamped his left hand on the other’s hip to help restrict his movements.

Panting mouth at the shell of his ear, his breath hot puffs against his tan skin, Levi had reminded him, “You begged for this…”

Each slow, yet deep plunge into his body had Eren arching his body (as much as Levi allowed him to, that was) while he curled his fingers and toes from the torturous pleasure. Fingers tightened around the ones that were locked with his own, the younger male panted with his face turned to the side. He desperately wanted the other man to go faster and to grip him so hard by the hips that he’d bruise as he fucked him as rough as he could take it.

Eren could take anything. He’d proven that in the past with others and he’d proven it again with the slate-eyed soldier. Just hours before Levi had fucked him apart, had rutted with him like they had been  nothing but single-minded beasts. He longed for that again. He wanted, he wanted

Anything, anything but this. It was maddening lying on his stomach, his neglected cock trapped between him and the bed, while Levi took his sweet ass time taking him apart. Every slow, gentle roll of hips sliding a thick cock into his ass brought him all that much closer to sobbing like the wreck he was swiftly becoming. He was forced to endure it, to feel every single surge of pleasure, both small and big. There was nothing that he could do but lie there and take it while a vast assortment of feelings, both sexual and emotional, smothered him relentlessly.

Eren didn’t realize that he’d actually fucking whimpered until he felt a hand release his own to stroke against his face, a husky voice shushing him. Lips pressing soft kisses to his ear and neck, Levi had groaned, “Shh, baby, just let me love you.”

It finally occurred to Eren then that the reason the raven-haired man refused to just brutally fuck him was because he wanted to make love to him. Never having experienced something like this before with anyone else, Eren felt a choked-up sob nearly tear itself from his throat. A heady feeling, like an addictive drug, spread throughout his body, overwhelming him, and making him feel a neediness he’d never encountered before.

Vision limited because of his position, Eren could barely see the older man at all. “Levi, I want to see you. All of you.”

Eren found himself instantly regretting speaking at all because the moment those words had left his mouth, Levi had abruptly stopped and pulled out of his body. His strong body jerked back then, causing the younger solider to open his mouth to protest. Before he could even utter another word, let alone move, the green-eyed man found himself spinning suddenly in the air until he’d landed flat on his back, bouncing a bit as he did so. In a shocked daze, he saw Levi above him, situated between his legs while he slid his strong, graceful hands up the younger man’s thighs before sliding around to grope at his ass with both hands. Spreading Eren’s legs, he loomed over him, his gunmetal eyes, though darkened by lust, gazed down at the long-haired man in reverence.

Ymir , the way Levi looked at him now was something akin to worship. Unable to continue taking that intense stare, the tanned-skinned man squeezed his eyes shut.

Hooking one of Eren’s long legs around his hip, the older man spread the other leg wider to give him more access. Using his right hand to slowly guide his dick back into the other man, he held the spread leg as he began to breach the younger man’s puckered hole, which caused Eren to open his eyes again. Looking down at where their bodies joined, Levi’s face was an expression of pure concentration as he shallowly rolled his hips, easing every single inch of his cock until he was finally balls deep within him again. Releasing a shuddering sigh, the captain’s eyes roved over the wrecked sight of the man underneath him until they landed on a tanned face contorted in bliss.

Grabbing at the taller male, Eren yanked him down by the back of his neck to force him down into a slow, yet deep kiss. His other hand skimmed over the bare skin of Levi’s back, dipping down lower until he reached the swell of the older man’s magnificent posterior. Gripping a deliciously muscled ass cheek in his hand, he used it as leverage to pull and keep the other closer to him as if Levi might attempt to leave again.

Pinning Eren’s other hand above his head, Levi laced their fingers together while he slowly rocked into the willing body writhing beneath him. Releasing Eren’s leg, he reached between their bodies to snake strong fingers around the younger man’s neglected cock, making the younger soldier hiss at the electrifying contact. In sync with the languid, yet deep thrusts into Eren’s body, the veteran pumped the dick he held firmly in his hand.

Feeling the older man graze his prostate, Eren broke the kiss with a loud, moaning gasp and a sharp bowing of his body as he pinched his eyes shut again. This didn’t go unnoticed by Levi, who redirected his efforts to grinding hard, yet teasingly slow against that sweet spot within the other’s body. Tightening the hold on the hand that was mated to his, Eren opened his vibrant green eyes to gaze wantonly up at gray eyes that never seemed to leave him. No matter how much he was in ecstasy, Levi never took his eyes off the younger soldier.

Not even when he came later with a deep, shuddering groan.

Eren couldn’t help hoping that they could do this forever, just like this, with nothing and nobody else to disturb them in their little sensual world. When Eren had initially asked Levi to ruin him, he’d assumed that that would result in fast, rough mind-blowing sex. He’d never in a thousand years guessed he’d be ruined by being made love to as if he were a god being worshipped by an adoring mortal.

Feeling his dick beginning to swell to life just from that memory alone, Eren groaned, “Fuck…”

A hand then carded itself through Eren’s long, mocha brown hair as lips whispered by his ear, “If you insist…”

Jumping up in his seat, the startled man very nearly slammed his head into the older man’s face, but since this was captain Levi, the man easily avoided being struck.

“Did I scare you?” Inquired Levi smugly from his spot standing beside the seated male. Reaching down, he brushed some stray locks of hair out of the younger soldier’s tanned face before sliding his fingers through the hair as a makeshift comb.

Silently noting that the older man only had on a pair of sleep pants on, riding low on his hips, of course, Eren complained, “You…you’re always so fucking quiet, you bastard. Always sneaking up on me like you do.”

Levi smirked down at him, not taking any offence when his hand was smacked away from the other man’s hair. “And you, you shitty brat, you’re always so loud. It’s no wonder you and your bratty friends are part of the loud ass shit brat brigade.”

Eren snorted in denial. “I’m not loud.”

“Oh yeah? Last I checked, it was you screaming your head off in my bed like your ass was being murdered,” taunted the raven-haired captain with a bit of a barely there smirk gracing his pale face. As an afterthought, he then mused, “In a way, I guess I was murdering you…with my dick…”

Squirming in the chair, Eren felt his face flush with heat even though he knew it was just a lewd joke. Opting for silence, he just openly glared at the older man as he watched him step over to the coffee machine once it beeped loudly. Back now to Eren’s viewing pleasure, the younger male froze all movement when he noticed the multiple deep pink and red scratches marring that beautiful skin. If they had just been mere welts, he wouldn’t have felt so bad, but…some of the scratches had broken the skin and caused the other man to bleed.

Feeling both guilty and ashamed, Eren mumbled, “I’m sorry…”

Casting a glance over his shoulder at Eren as he took out two mugs from the kitchen cabinet, Levi raised an eyebrow inquisitively. “For what? I don’t mind you being loud. In fact, I love it. You scream so beautifully.”

Oh, wow. While that was nice to know, he still couldn’t let himself become distracted from apologizing for hurting the older man. “Uh, no, not that. Your…back is all scratched up.”

“I see,” murmured the raven-haired man, who then returned to fixing both cups of coffee just the way they liked it. Levi’s was made black while Eren’s was made with a spoon of honey and just enough creamer to balance the bitterness of the coffee. The fact that he knew just how to make the younger man’s coffee was just more evidence pointing out just how observant he was.

Gingerly walking back over to the kitchen table with both mugs, he set Eren’s down first before he sat down in the other chair.

“Thank you,” said Eren humbly since he hadn’t expected the silver-eyed soldier to fix his drink for him. Tracing the rim of the mug with his fingertips, he then asked, “Doesn’t that bother you?”

Levi smirked devilishly. “That’s not surprising considering I fucked the shit out of you, Eren. I’m almost surprised that you’re still able to walk.”

The green-eyed man ducked his head down, attempting to hide another blush that chose to bloom on his tanned face. It was amazing to Eren that he was acting like some young virgin now considering that just some hours ago, he had been riding the older man like some nymphomaniac

Holding the mug by the rim, just like he did for his tea, Levi took a slow sip of the bitter dark roast. “If it bothers you that much, I can just tie your ass up next time. Honestly, though, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind some pain.”

“If you’re sure, then that’s good enough for me,” sighed Eren before bringing the mug to his lips to take a sip, quietly sighing in pleasure from the taste. Eyes shut; he didn’t have to look to know that he was being closely scrutinized. Opening his eyes again after taking another few mouthfuls of coffee, the green-eyed soldier then added, “I don’t mind being tied up, by the way. Just my arms, though. I’m kinda boring, though. Not into too much kinky shit, to be perfectly honest.”

“You’re not boring. Far from it, actually,” disagreed the captain.

Several minutes of comfortable silence passed between them as they slowly woke up to the morning, thanks to the aid of coffee. They’d often had moments just like this, spent in comfortable silence without the need for unnecessary chatter. Being a reserved man that only spoke when he had something to say, Levi seemed to mirror the way Eren was with his own friends. Opting just to listen to his friends chat, Eren usually didn’t speak up unless someone dragged him into the conversation. It was just nice that with the older man, there was no need for talking. They understood each other well enough by now that the need for talk was few and far between.

Except for today. Eren knew they had some things to talk about. Things that had been put off due to their frantic need to have sex with one another for the first time. Now that the sexual need wasn’t distracting them so much, it was time to sort out…whatever this was, between them. Never being one to assume anything, Eren knew it was better to bite the bullet and have a difficult conversation. The sooner, the better, even if it was painful.

Before Eren could open his mouth, Levi set his cup down and stated, “You wish to talk.”

Eren nodded slowly. “Yes.”

“Go ahead, I’m listening.”

Tracing the rim of his half-full mug again, the long-haired man released a deep sigh. “What…what do you want?”

Face now his default bored and unreadable expression once again, Levi quietly answered, “Whatever you are willing to give, Eren.”

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Eren snapped, “That’s not what I asked, Levi. Ignoring my wants and needs for a moment, I need to know what it is that you want. I don’t want you to be forced into anything you’re not happy doing.”

“Very well,” started the black-haired solider before he fixed the other man with an intense gaze that had Eren squirming in his seat again just from the power of it. “I don’t do casual relationships and I don’t fuck around, either. I rarely, if ever, do relationships at all, if I am being perfectly honest here. But when I do…I want it all. I expect it all.”

Perplexed by Levi’s answer, the younger male then questioned, “Then why did you say…?”

“Because you are special, Eren. For you, and only you, I would do anything,” confessed Levi.

Eren believed him. Considering the way that the older man had been treating Eren since day one, it wasn’t surprising at all to hear that. If anything, it was an overwhelming relief to hear it since Levi was special to Eren, too. Nobody else had made him feel the things the captain did and nobody else had cared quite as much. Sure, his friends loved him like he was family to him, but Levi…he was different. The way he cared was deeper somehow and made him feel like he wasn’t alone. There was a kindred spirit in the older man, one that seemed to understand Eren on a level that nobody else in his life ever had.

“I only do relationships, monogamous relationships. If that’s what you want, then I want to be with you, Levi.”

Without speaking another word, the gray-eyed soldier slowly rose from his seat. Walking around the table, he stopped when he was standing behind the slightly shorter male. Trailing fingers over Eren’s face, he gingerly took hold of his chin, using it as leverage to tilt the younger man’s head back, exposing his throat. “That’s good to hear…” Levi murmured as he leaned over him, gifting Eren with a kiss on the lips that was neither chaste nor filthy, before he straightened to his full height again. Fingertips slowly tracing Eren’s lips, the captain then professed, “Because you’re mine now, brat. You’ve ruined me for all others.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Chapter Text

That very night, on the day they’d officially verbally became a couple, Eren had dawdled in the hallway, held back by uncertainty. He’d forgotten to inquire about the sleeping arrangements, and being the person he was, he didn’t like to assume anything. Just because they were together now didn’t mean they’d share the same room. Eren’s own parents had slept in separate beds in the same bedroom, after all. He’d even heard of some couples that slept alone in their own rooms because they were introverts or just couldn’t sleep in the same room with someone that snored.

Eren must have been lost in his own thoughts because the next thing he knew, he heard a throat clearing loud enough to gain his attention. Eyes snapping up to zero in on the noise, he spotted Levi lingering in the doorway of his own bedroom, back to him and head turned to stare at him intently.

“Are you coming or not?” Questioned the exhausted looking captain. The green-eyed man felt a twinge of guilt over that since it was his own fault that his new lover was bone tired due to all the screwing they’d done all day. Not that Levi had complained. Although the man was older than him by thirteen years or so, he had an insane amount of stamina. Considering they sparred nearly every day, Eren had already known Levi’s stamina was godly, but it still amazed him to know how much it extended to sex, too.

Mistaking the younger man’s silence and lack of movement for disinclination, the veteran then said, “You can sleep whenever you want, Eren. Just know that you are always welcome in my bed.”

Caribbean eyes widened at the other man’s quiet words and before either of them knew it, Eren had jogged ahead and brushed past the taller male to throw himself onto the now clean bed.

“Brat,” murmured Levi as he shook his head, sounding fond nonetheless as he stepped into the room and shut the door behind him before locking it.

Clad in only some sleep pants, Eren lazily watched from his place under the sheets as the older man removed every single article of clothing. Fully nude now, the raven-haired man approached the bed and crawled onto it. He gently nudged Eren over so that the younger man was closer to the wall and Levi stationed closer to the door. Whether that was just his preference, or was a protective measure, Eren didn’t know, but he was betting on the latter one.

Eren remembered the night Levi had come to his room wearing nothing but pants that hung low on his hips, so low he’d almost glimpsed his cock. The man obviously hadn’t been wearing underwear then and now Eren knew why. Levi preferred to sleep completely naked and Eren found absolutely nothing wrong with that. It also occurred to him that ever since his arrival to this house, Levi had purposely slept in clothes so that he wouldn’t have to waste time dressing himself in case Eren needed him. He did it all for Eren’s own comfort and safety.

After a brief silence, Levi said, “Come here.”

Rolling onto his side to peer at the gray-eyed man, Eren queried, “Why?”

Levi sighed. “We both know that your ass is going to be all over me come morning. So, get your brat ass over here and keep me warm.”

It wasn’t like Eren planned to become a bed leech. If anything, like Levi, he preferred to sleep on his back and occasionally on his side, without touching people. And yet…every time he’d been in a bed with the older man, he’d always woken up draped over him like a human blanket. He hadn’t intentionally meant to do it, yet it always seemed to happen nonetheless. Concerned that the veteran was bothered by it, he reluctantly asked, “Does it bother you?”

“If it did, I wouldn’t tolerate it, Eren.”

Hm, good point. Needing no further incentive, the younger male scooted closer before carefully molding his own body half onto the other man’s. Half his face buried into the taller man’s chest, he breathed in his scent, a scent that could either arouse or calm him. He then realized that ever since the steel-eyed man had started sleeping in the same bed with him, Eren had had no night terrors or even any mild nightmares. True, it had only been a few days, but there was still noticeable improvement in his own sleeping pattern regarding how fast he fell asleep, how many times he woke up, and how well rested he felt.

In that other house, Eren had opted to lock his bedroom door nearly every night. Although he had not been afraid of his cousins, he had still felt anxious and unsafe sleeping with the door unlocked. Sleep fretful and wrought with countless night terrors, Eren had been a prisoner for so very long. It had been so long since he’d felt secure in himself and in those around him. Now that he was here, in Levi’s house and in the man’s own bedroom, that security he’d been deprived of before had been offered right back to him. He felt so calm and safe now that if Levi got up and unlocked his door for the night, or even the entire year, Eren would have found no trouble falling and staying asleep.

Focusing on the tightened grip his limbs had on the other man, he nuzzled his face affectionately into Levi's chest. He knew he was probably getting on the older man’s nerves right now, but he found that he didn’t care.

“Eren, you keep fucking squirming like that and…” Warned the captain, his voice sounding strained.

Despite originally not having any intention of seducing the older man, Eren’s attention became piqued, nevertheless. Unwinding his limbs, he languidly climbed on top of the slightly taller man until he was straddling him. He’d made it a point to purposely seat himself on top of the other man’s naked groin, his own sleep pants the only barrier between them. He then fidgeted a bit as if to get more comfortable while also pretending he didn’t feel Levi’s hardening organ against his rear.

“Shitty brat,” hissed the raven-haired male, his hands raking blunt nails up and down over the bare skin of Eren’s tanned back before diving down to slip into his sleep pants, each hand cupping a rounded, muscular cheek. Using his ass as leverage to pull him down, the silver-eyed man ground up against Eren. “Always asking for it…”

Staring down at Levi, his green eyes unyielding, he ascertained, “I can take it...unless you're too tired, old man?”

“And you will,” Levi promised darkly, his eyes flashing due to the challenge, before he abruptly rolled them over. Sitting up on his knees, he literally ripped the pants from the younger man’s body before carelessly tossing them aside. “From now on, no more clothes in my bed. Just you and your naked ass…”

Minutes later, while being pinned down and railed mercilessly, Eren found that he could very easily live with Levi’s new bedroom rule.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

A week had passed before Eren knew it. Their daily routine was still mostly the same, (though sometimes Eren derailed it a bit by seducing Levi) with getting up early for a thorough workout that was two hours or more long. At this point, he was used to the burn of his muscles and found it easier to keep up with the older man now. If he ever overexerted himself, which he sometimes foolishly did since he was such a stubborn and determined person, Levi still took it upon himself to work out all the kinks in his body. Even if he called him a stupid foolish brat, there was no actual heat behind it, especially when he’d lean over and kiss the flesh he’d just recently massaged into submission. 

With each passing day, Eren could feel more strength returning to his body, and to his mind, as well. Although their routine was still mostly the same, there were definite changes in their behaviors. Before, they’d danced around each other while teasing and pining for one another. Now, they still teased, yeah, but it didn’t result in frustrating abstinence. Since that maddening sexual tension was no longer present to drive them both bonkers, their moods had significantly improved. Even Levi wasn’t as irritated as he normally was whenever he had to take a call from Hanji.

Eren had been so distracted by his newly formed relationship with Levi that he’d temporarily forgotten about his friends and especially the two friends he was closest to. He’d mentally made a note to himself to reach out to them later when he wasn't as preoccupied. 

Even though it felt difficult to keep his hands to himself, Eren still made a point to give the older soldier some space and time to himself. Levi usually used that time to clean his house and to deal with work-related stuff. Being an ambivert, Eren had qualities of both introverts and extroverts, so that he easily understood the needs of his reserved, introverted partner. Not to mention, he’d once been involved with someone, a girl, (he couldn’t even remember her name now) that had been clingy as hell. She’d texted him constantly and at school she would physically cling to him every chance that she could. Eren wasn’t even able to hang around his own friends, especially Sasha, without the girl throwing a hissy fit. Suffice it to say, that relationship didn’t even last a month. So yeah, he wasn’t ever going to subject Levi to such acts of suffocating possessiveness.

After a long, hot shower, Eren had had plenty of time to himself to muse over various things. One of the things he’d been thinking about was that girl that had nearly cockblocked them on that night roughly a week ago. Although he was immensely happy that she’d left, he now felt somewhat guilty for wanting her gone. If she was anything like her brother, she was probably a kind and strong young woman. Eren was curious about her and found that he actually did want to meet her.

Leaning against the doorway with his arms crossed, the younger soldier silently watched the other man clean his own kitchen until it sparkled. Well technically…it always sparkled. His damn house was always so spotless even when the captain would complain about some nonexistent mess.

“Something on your mind, brat?” Asked the raven-haired man without sparing Eren a glance as he put away his cleaning supplies.

Cocking his head, Eren asked, “When do I get to meet your sister?”

His back to the long-haired man, the older man’s body briefly stiffened for a moment in response to the question. Removing the gloves, he dropped them in the sink for now before turning around to face the long-haired man. As usual, his face betrayed nothing as he stared blankly at Eren. “Why do you ask?”

“Same reason why I ask you anything. I just want to know,” said the tanned-skinned soldier as he pushed off from the doorway to enter the kitchen. Sitting down in a chair at the kitchen table, he then added, “Considering I almost met her a week ago, I think I’d rather meet her when you’re not busy fucking my brains out. I'd rather we didn't scar her for life.”

Levi shot him an expression that seemed to convey that he, too, wished to avoid such an occurrence. Running a hand through his inky black hair, he sighed. “Soon.”

Although he believed that answer was good enough, for now, Eren still asked, “Can I see a picture of her?”

Approaching the table, the slate-eyed man seated himself in a chair across from the younger man. “I only have one with me, and it’s when she’s really young.”

Eren shrugged. “That’s fine.”

Reaching behind him to pull out his black leather wallet, Levi opened it and pulled out a wallet sized photograph. He stared down at it in his hand for a moment before he carefully placed the photo down on the table before he slid it towards the other man.

Noting the care and obvious sentimentality Levi had for the picture, Eren gingerly picked it up. Noticing that it was fairly worn, most likely because it was old, he could tell that the older man still treated it with great care. Studying it now, Eren realized that it was a picture of a sleeping Levi, dressed in his military fatigues, with a young, ebony-haired girl snuggled against him, her head tucked under his chin as she slumbered. His arms were wrapped protectively around her in a way that made the younger male nearly swoon in his seat at just how beautiful it was. 

“She was nine years old in that picture, I think. I was around your age. After I left the next day, my mother sent me that picture in the mail,” explained the raven-haired man.

“Really? You don’t age at all, do you,” teased the brown-haired male, smiling softly as he glanced at the older man. Looking back down at the photograph, he noticed that there was a faint blueish light reflecting off of their skin, which indicated that they’d probably fallen asleep watching television. Looking back at Levi, he inquired, “So, what’s the story here?”

“Mikasa…took it personally when I left to join the military. She was angry and hurt, believing that the reason why I had left was because she had made a mess one day. That wasn’t true, of course. I tried…to visit as often as I could and at first, she ignored me. I didn’t take it personally,” said the taller man, his eyes unfocused and staring at nothing as he remembered. “Then one night, I came home late, and she was still awake. I barely got inside before she jumped and clung to me like her life depended on it. The little brat refused to let me go and wouldn’t even let me change out of my fatigues. I ended up on the couch with her, reading her a story until she fell asleep. As you can see, I fell asleep, too, and my dear mother…decided to snap a picture of it. She has this…tendency to take pictures of people sleeping.”

Glancing at the picture one last time, Eren handed it back over to Levi. “I take it she forgave you?”

Putting the photo away, Levi scoffed. “Tch. For a bit, yeah, but she became a moody little shit as she got older. We’re more alike than either of us likes to admit and we tend to clash as a result.”

Eren frowned. “You don’t get along anymore?”

“Yes and no. The past couple of years…have been tense.”

“Why?”

Levi sighed. “She’s been going through personal things. Things I can’t help her with, or at least, that’s what she claims.”

“Sounds like she just needs to figure it out on her own. I’m sure she’ll come around,” commented the green-eyed man. In spite of not knowing Mikasa, Eren still felt that if she was anything like Levi, then the woman would eventually repair their familial relationship. Considering that Levi had been a caring, doting big brother to her, she’d eventually remember that, or so he hoped. Unlike Eren’s own stoic, distant parents, Mikasa had been gifted with two caring mothers and a brother. He couldn’t help envying her for that and wondered what it would have been like growing up with Levi as a brother. Well, now that he thought about it, it would have been great, but he probably wouldn’t be sharing Levi’s bed right now if he had.

Not bothering to respond to that, Levi stood up from the table and left the kitchen. A minute or two later, he returned with a pair of new black skinny jeans that he promptly dropped on the table in front of Eren. “While you were showering, Isabel and Farlan dropped off your new clothes. She wrote you a note, too.”

Dropping a piece of folded paper in front of the younger male, Levi crossed his arms and watched him closely.

Opening up the folded note, it read:

Lil Bro,

Sorry I missed you! I’ll drop by again soon…after your uh honeymoon is over. Have fun!

-Isabel

P.s. Sorry Big Bro found the jeans and glared at me after I ripped up the receipt and tore off the tags.

Of course, Levi would notice those jeans. He’d bought them mostly as a joke to piss of Levi since the man had outright forbidden him from getting skinny jeans. The man was lucky that Eren hadn’t purchased a pair of ugly ass hot pants, not that Eren would actually ever wear them. While some men enjoyed wearing feminine things, which was fine if that was what they liked, Eren was not one of them. If anything, the thought of himself, or any other man in women’s clothing was a huge turn off for him. Even Ymir hated wearing women’s clothes and usually opted to wear comfortable men’s clothing, though she did still enjoy seeing Historia wearing girly things. So maybe that wasn't the best example, but whatever. 

Levi raised a single eyebrow. “Can you even fit in those?”

“Yeah, they fit just fine,” replied the other male with a shrug as he fought the urge to smirk. Those hours of torture searching for and trying on clothing at the Paradis Commons had been well worth it.

Unconvinced, the older man remarked, “They look like they’ll squeeze your balls to death.”

“Thanks for being concerned about my genitals, but they’ll be fine. I’ll even let you personally inspect them just to make sure,” snarked Eren as he leaned back in the chair.

Levi rolled his eyes. “Don’t complain to me when you can’t father brats of your own.”

Eren shrugged. “Unless one of us can birth children, that’s not going to happen anyway.”

Slowly seating himself in a chair next to the younger man this time, the veteran slowly inquired, “You don’t want brats of your own?”

“Not really,” said Eren, shrugging once again. Wondering if perhaps Levi was projecting his own desires, he then questioned, “Why, do you?”

Turning around in the chair to face the younger soldier, Levi yanked Eren’s chair closer to him so that he could grab and lift the other man into his lap. Hands resting on Eren’s hips, he answered, “I already have a brat and he’s almost too much for me to handle as it is…”

Lifting a hand to lightly trace fingertips over the scars on Levi’s face that he found fascinating, sexy actually, even if the captain disliked them, Eren murmured, “If you adopt me, people will talk…”

Taking Eren’s wandering hand in his own, he brought it to his mouth to kiss. “Let those shitstains fucking talk then.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“You sure you don’t want any?” Asked Sasha as she peered down at the viridian-eyed man currently lying on the leather couch on his back with his head in her lap.

Another week had passed before Levi had surprised Eren by inviting the younger soldier’s friends over to the house. Shooting a sharp glare at all of the young people in his house, the captain had warned them to not make a mess, or he would beat their asses to death. After they’d all nodded or verbally agreed to his terms, Levi had left the house to run some sort of errand. That had been roughly a couple hours ago, in fact.

Shaking his head, Eren declined. “I’m fine. I ate earlier.”

“If you say so,” replied Sasha as she continued to munch on her snack. Despite feeling much better after her sickness, something about his brown-eyed best friend seemed off. She seemed clingier than normal and seemed content to fuss over him like she was his mother. It was strange and he didn’t understand why the sudden change in her personality. Glancing at Connie and silently voicing his concern, he watched as the golden-eyed man met his gaze and simply shrugged.

Rolling onto his side to get more comfortable, his shirt rode up a bit to reveal a few inches of bare, sun kissed skin that was all marked up. He wasn’t aware that the love bites, given to him just a few hours ago, were showing until Jean opened his big fat horse mouth.

Holy fuck, Vogel, what the hell happened to you?” Loudly exclaimed Jean as he jumped up from the chair to get even closer to the long-haired man.

Sitting with Eren’s legs draped over his lap, Connie leaned over curiously to lift up the shirt to reveal even more marked up skin. “Whoa, someone did a number on you, man.”

“Damn, Eren’s ripped like a beast,” commented Reiner from his spot in a chair next to Bert, clearly more concerned about Eren's physique than what could be bruises. 

Appearing concerned, Bert quietly asked, “Are those…bruises? Is someone…hurting you, Eren?”

From her spot on the floor, Annie bitterly snapped, “Those are hickies, idiot.”

Ignoring everyone else, Eren couldn’t help wondering about Annie’s hostile attitude. She’d been…stranger than usual, lately, and was even borderline mean to Bertholdt for some reason. Out of everyone, Bert was the only one she lashed out at for whatever reason. Whenever he got her alone, Eren decided he would ask her about it since obviously something had happened between them. The worst she’d do would be telling him it was none of his business before stiffly walking away.

“I wonder who did that,” leered Ymir as she, too, neared the green-eyed man. Hands anchored to her slim hips, she appeared cocky as she stared down at Eren.

“Looks like it was Humanities’ Strongest Mouth that did that,” joked Connie with a shit-eating smirk plastered on his devious looking face.

Slowly sitting up now, Eren tugged his shirt back down to cover every single inch of his smooth, golden skin. He furrowed his eyebrows at that reference since it sounded familiar somehow, yet he couldn’t fathom why it did. Humanities’ Strongest…why did that seem so familiar to him? He knew he’s heard that phrase before, somewhere, but couldn’t quite place it. Glancing around the room, he noticed several of his friends snickering as if this was some private joke that he wasn’t yet privy to. Exhaling deeply, he then asked, “Who is Humanities’ Strongest? Is that some private joke that I don’t know?”

Everyone in the room seemed to exchange looks before they all focused back on Eren, the laughter now having died down a bit.

“He means Levi,” replied Marco kindly. Like Historia and Bert, he’d been one of the few that had not laughed at all.

Tucking his hair behind his ears, Eren asked, “Why would you guys call him that?”

“You’ve heard of Levi Ackerman, right? Three hundred years ago, he was the captain of the Survey Corps and was dubbed Humanities Strongest. You have to admit…Levi Anderson is a lot like him, except for Levi Ackerman’s shortness,” explained Jean, who chuckled a bit once he’d mentioned the deceased man’s height, or lack thereof. He grunted when Marco quickly jabbed him in the side with his elbow. “Uh, well, anyway, they look alike, and it’s been said Ackerman was an intimidating man with great strength. Sound like anyone you know, Vogel?”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of him. I didn’t know him personally, so I can’t really say they’re similar,” responded Eren who wasn’t entirely convinced by that explanation. Although there were a couple old photographs of the surviving Survey Corps members, they weren’t photographs of great quality.

Taking out his phone, Jean unlocked it before tapping quickly at the screen. After finding what he was looking for, he then turned his phone around and held it close to Eren’s inquisitive face. On the phone was a picture of a bored looking, dark-haired man, dressed in a suit and sitting in a wheelchair. On his face were scars that looked suspiciously similar to the ones that Levi Andersen bore himself. Looking at the photo now, Eren couldn’t deny that the resemblance was uncanny. Maybe they were related?

“Huh. Well, maybe Levi is related to him? That would explain the resemblance,” suggested Eren.

“Captain Levi Ackerman never had kids, though. He was never even married,” pointed out Historia, speaking up for the first time. She looked and sounded strangely melancholic as if these facts personally affected her in some way.

Gesturing to the place they were currently inside, Jean pointed out, “You know this house, Eren? This was Levi Ackerman’s house. He had it built after he retired. Don’t you think it’s a strange coincidence that someone who looks just like him, and has his same first name, lives in it?”

Eren…had not known any of that and the more he thought about it, the more perplexed he felt. Not to mention, everyone here seemed to…just accept it like it was common knowledge. Sure, it might be available online, or in some books, but how would every single one of his friends know so much about that particular guy? It was very suspicious, and he couldn’t help wondering if they were just messing around with him as part of some weird prank. “How do you guys know so much about Levi Ackerman?”

Looking over at Eren now, her ice-blue eyes trained on him, Annie quietly stated, “You wouldn’t believe us even if we told you.”

Annie never, ever joked. Although Eren had personally witnessed her smile at him now and then, he had never once heard her crack a joke, or even laugh at anything anyone said, ever. The blonde woman had never once partaken in any of the pranks pulled on Eren, either. The most she’d do was watch from the sidelines, or on some occasions when she was able to, warn him personally.

Leaning over, Connie nudged his male best friend. “Okay, so, as interesting as all that is…I still wanna know who attacked your body? You gonna spill the beans, man?”

Feeling numerous eyes on him, the cyan-eyed man felt put on the spot. “Uh…”

“It obviously wasn’t any of us. So that leaves…your bodyguard. He only seems to leave your side when we’re around, so it’s gotta be him,” said Connie as he nudged his best friend again.

“Well, maybe Eren goes out to clubs to get some?” Suggested Reiner as he stroked his lightly stubbled face thoughtfully.

Sasha shook her head. “That’s not Eren’s style, though.”

“True, and I doubt Levi would want some other man on his territory. He barely wants us here and he knows us,” sneered Ymir.

The burly blond soldier sighed. “All good points.”

“Yo, Eren, you gonna fess up already?” Pushed Connie.

Eren resisted the urge to roll his eyes at his obnoxious, nosy ass friends. “Why do you guys want to know so bad?”

Glancing at Jean, Connie then looked to Eren and revealed, “Okay, so I…sort of bet Jean that you and Levi would smash.”

Smash? It took Eren a moment to realize what that meant considering he was never one for paying close attention to slang. For that very reason, he’d gone most of his adolescence not knowing what a simp was. “Ok then...”

Losing patience, Jean snapped, “So did you or did you not? C’mon, we’re waiting, Vogel. Money is on the line, you know.”

“That’s right, Eren. If you tell us that it was Levi who gave you those marks on your body, then Jean will lose five thousand bucks.”

Five thousand? Are you insane or just stupid as hell, horseface?” Spat the ocean-eyed soldier.

“Think about it, Eren. If you tell us, then Jean loses a shitload of money for being a dumb ass. It’s a win-win situation here,” pressed the amber-eyed soldier with a devious grin on his face.

Looking at nothing in particular, Eren asked, “All I have to do is confirm it?”

Connie nodded. “Yeah, that’s it. Your word is good enough for us. Right guys?”

Everyone in the room nodded except for Jean, who scowled looking like he wanted to demand more evidence of the fact.

Inhaling deeply, the long-haired man turned his attention to Jean, his face now as somber as death since he wanted to truck Jean into thinking he'd won. “Horseface…as painful as this must be...for you, pay the man.”

Screaming his outrage at what he felt was the injustice of it all, Jean fell down onto his knees a defeated horse of a man. “Damn you, Vogel…”

I FUCKING KNEW IT!” Roared Connie victoriously as he jumped from the couch at the same time as Sasha and whooped loudly as they high fived each other in celebration.

Reiner smirked. “Way to go, Eren.”

“Why are you congratulating him? You bet against Eren,” questioned Jean, sounding as annoyed as he appeared.

The blond man shrugged. “I didn’t bet as much as you did, and hey, as a man, I can always appreciate someone getting some, if you know what I mean.”

“Gross,” commented Ymir as she eyed Reiner in clear disapproval. “You know what this means, right? You can’t grope Eren anymore or Levi will murder your perverted ass. Actually…on second thought, when he comes back, I dare you to grab Eren’s dick in front of him.”

Rejecting her offer, Reiner said, “No thanks, I choose life.”

Gesturing to Jean, Reiner, and Bert, Connie commanded, “All right, assholes, pay up. You better have the money on you or else…”

Prompted by Connie’s words, Annie smoothly stood up from the floor and turned around to slowly approach the three debt-owing men, flanked closely by Ymir who punched her right fist into her open left hand as a show of intimidation. The female blonde soldier’s icy eyes were all that she needed to inspire intimidation.

Holding his hands up in surrender, Jean quickly conceded, “Ok, ok, damn!”

Within a matter of minutes, Jean, Bert, and Reiner had pulled out envelopes from their coats. Apparently today was the last day of the bet and they’d all agreed to find out who won the wager, which was why every person in the room that had participated in the bet was ready with their money.

After counting and then sorting the cash, Connie announced, “Ladies and  Ymir, here is your cut…”

“Okay, so, I wanna hear why you guys bet against us,” grumbled a sour faced Jean, who was five thousand bucks poorer, which made Eren feel smug about. “It’s the least you jerks can do, really. So, spit it out.”

“I’m not stupid enough to bet against Eren,” stated Annie before she glanced at the long-haired man and offered him a small, barely there smile. Eren couldn’t help smiling back at her since her smile was really pretty and he honestly wished she’d smile more, actually.

Sasha raised her hand. “Same!”

“I believe in love,” sighed Historia, a dreamy smile gracing her pretty face.

“Of course you do, sweetness,” cooed Ymir with fondness as she sat down beside her girlfriend. Looping an arm around the blonde’s petite waist, the freckled woman then said, “I saw the way Levi was eye-fucking Eren at the party. I knew it was only a matter of time before he wrecked him. I don’t blame him, really. If I had to fuck a guy, it would be Eren. And when I say fuck, I mean that I would be the one wearing the strap on…”

Not knowing whether to smile or laugh nervously, Eren said, “Uh, yeah, no thanks. I prefer the real thing.”

“What about you, Marco?” Inquired Jean, shooting his dark-haired best friend a betrayed look.

“I…didn’t bet. It’s just not my thing, really. Though, if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t have bet against Eren, either,” sagely answered the freckled man.

Accepting that, Jean then sighed. “And you, Connie?”

Connie smirked as he waved his cut of the money in the taller soldier’s face. “Dude, I saw them flirting with each other every time we hung out. It was kinda obvious, you know? I knew it was only a matter of time before something happened. Knowing Eren, I knew he’d be bold enough to go for it. Oh, that reminds me, here is your cut of the loot, Eren.”

Raising an eyebrow, the viridian-eyed soldier shook his head. “No, thanks, you keep it. I don’t want it.”

“Just take it and buy something nice?” Suggested Connie while he held out the money for his best friend to take.

“Nope. Don’t need it,” refused the green-eyed man stubbornly although he knew his friend would keep insisting anyway. It wasn’t a secret that Eren was someone that was difficult to shop for because he never wanted anything. As long as he had what he needed, he was satisfied.  Everything he owned he tended to hold onto until he couldn’t use it anymore. Levi even had had to resort to literally blackmailing him just to get him to shop for new clothes, after all.

“Just buy Levi something, then?” Suggested Connie.

Eren frowned. “He won’t let me pay for anything, though.”

“Ok, so buy something sexy to wear for him…like a thong or ladies’ underwear,” advised Reiner.

The long-haired man made a repulsed face at that. “Yeah, no. I’m not wearing anything weird. Besides, all I have to do is take my clothes off and he’s happy. He doesn’t have a cross-dressing kink like you do, Reiner.”

The blond man then smirked. “My bad.”

“Just buy him some girly little tea party set,” proposed Jean, his arms crossed, but his tone implying he was purposely being an ass.

Eren rolled his eyes as he resisted the urge to smack the taller man silly. “Horseface, he’s not some little girl in a pink room sitting at some plastic table with her dollies pouring imaginary tea.”

“Hm…actually…does he know that you hate tea, Vogel?” Inquired Jean curiously, though his eye twitched from hearing the unwanted nickname.

The caribbean eyed male tried not to sound defensive as he spat, “Yeah, he knows, and he doesn’t care. So what?”

Sasha tilted her head. “That’s odd. I’ve seen Eren drink tea, though.”

 “As much as I hate the stuff, I only drink tea when my throat is sore,” said Eren with a small shrug. The moment the words left his mouth, he regretted them the moment he noticed several people chuckling and grinning like the perverts he knew that they undoubtedly were.  

“Yeah, well, something tells us you’re going to be drinking tea every day from now, eh Eren?” Leered Ymir suggestively.

“S-shut up!” Stammered Eren, his face flushing a bit from the ribbing. He’d managed to keep himself composed, for the most part, until now.

Holding up his hands to placate everyone, Marco calmly said, “Come on, guys, leave Eren alone, now. You had your fun. Don’t make him mad, ok?”

“Ooo is Eren getting mad?” Teased Jean as he threw up his arms like he was scared. “I’m so scared! Yeah, right. I’m not scared of Eren…”

“I agree,” drawled a low, very familiar cutting voice. As soon as everyone’s eyes shot towards the entrance to the living room, they spotted Levi leaning against the doorway with his arms crossed and his face bored looking, as usual. Once Jean’s eyes locked onto the captain’s, Levi hissed, “You should be scared of me.”

The fact that Jean, his mouth hanging open, actually looked like he was about to shit his pants made Eren almost smile.

Raising her hand, Sasha then meekly spoke up when Levi looked at her. “Uh, sir…just…how long have you been standing there?”

“Long enough. I was busy trying to set up my next tea party when you loud ass shitty brats disturbed me. Just imagine how upset all my dolls are that they’re going to have to wait for their tea now,” said the raven-haired captain, his expression and the tone of his voice both looking and sounding deathly serious.

Not wanting to betray the fact that Levi was obviously just fucking with them, Eren covered his mouth to muffle his laughter while he looked down, his hair sliding like a curtain to hide his face. Though he was able to smother his laughter, he couldn’t stop his body from shaking.  

“Vogel, you asshole, you better be sobbing over there or else I’m kicking your ass,” threatened an unamused Jean.

Pushing off from the doorway, Levi then entered the living room, his every step slow and measured like the predator that he unquestionably was. “You brats forget…I’m the only one who gets to kick Eren’s ass.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Chapter Text

Acting as if he hadn’t just made several soldiers simultaneously shit their pants, Levi strode fully into the living room, his gait unhurried as if he had all the time in the world. Before he even reached the big leather couch, Connie had somersaulted off said couch away from Eren and Sasha. What saved Connie from an early grave was the fact that he hadn’t broken anything or hit anyone in the process.  Barely sparing Eren’s male best friend a glance, the veteran smoothly turned and dropped down on the couch next to the long-haired man. Although his arm was stretched behind Eren over the back of the couch as was his custom, this time, unlike the majority of other times, Levi was sitting so close they were pressed leg to leg and side to side.

Although Sasha still sat bravely on the couch beside Eren, she was several inches farther from her friend now as she quietly nibbled on a beef stick.

Using his free arm to point a finger at Jean, the raven-haired man said, “Oi, you! I’m only going to say this once, so you better listen: I didn’t kill you for fucking up my bike, but if you damage something else that’s mine, just know that I was once a criminal…I know what to do with the body.”

Nodding slowly, Jean wisely kept his big horse mouth shut.

Amused by Levi’s protectiveness, Eren couldn’t help shooting Jean a pleased look. After the older man’s words had fully sunk in, he then noticed something strange that the other man had said. A criminal…? Wait…

“A criminal? Is that a joke?” Slowly asked Eren after he’d turned his head to look at the man beside him. Because Levi wasn’t directly looking at him, it was difficult to gauge his facial expression, if there even was one besides indifference. What he had noticed was just for the briefest of moments, he’d felt the captain’s body had tense for just a fraction of a moment. It was so subtle, and so quick that the green-eyed man wondered if he’d imagined it or not.

Looking at Eren out of the corner of his eye, Levi muttered, “Yeah, it’s a joke.”

Ymir smirked. “Levi does have that mafia boss vibe going on. Careful, Jean, or your ass is gonna get whacked.”

Jean huffed and looked away, looking ever like the petulant child everyone in the room knew he could be. “Oh, whatever!”

“Oh, stop it. He wouldn’t hurt any of us unless it was to save our lives. You know that!” Scolded Historia as she wagged her finger at their friends.

Gazing at the smallest blonde girl, Reiner dreamily sighed, “You’re such an angel…”

“True, but she’s a demon in the bed, though,” remarked Ymir while entertaining the room with a saucy little look.

Fair-skinned pretty face now flushed a bright crimson, Historia squeaked, “Ymir!”

Ignoring his friends, the viridian-eyed soldier continued to stare at the older man curiously. He couldn’t help wondering how it was that his friends seemed to know Levi better than him. Certain things they said and the way they interacted with Levi was…too familiar. It was as if they’d known him for years already while Eren had barely known him for what, two months now, was it? He would definitely need to apply more heat to his friends later on to find out if he was crazy, or if this was real. “Where have you been, anyway?”

Levi merely said, “Work stuff. Don’t worry about it, brat.”

Work stuff, huh. Had Eren not been a soldier, he might have been slightest by such a dismissive answer. He didn’t have much time to dwell on it before he heard the tallest blond man in the room sighing loudly.

Resting his chin in his hand, Reiner sighed wistfully, “I still say she’s a Goddess. It’s too bad some people worship a goddess called Ymir instead of one called Historia.”

“Another thing we actually agree on. Reiner, you’re starting to scare me,” said Ymir as she made a face at the brawny blond man.

During Paradis’ rise to power, a lot of things had changed in the past three hundred years. Religion had been one of those changes. Eren had heard rumors about people worshipping the famed walls that had protected Paradis from titans and the rest of the world. Titans, a threat the green-eyed soldier was still skeptical about, if he were being perfectly honest. Despite what the history books said, Eren had always felt a level of resistance concerning anything titan related. He knew that victors wrote history, which meant history books were full of lies and omissions to make certain countries look good and just. Eren hadn’t grown up believing this, no, he’d accepted what he’d been taught, for the most part, and as a result of his parents pushing him, he’d even joined the military even though it hadn’t been his dream to. It wasn’t until he’d joined the Paradis military that he’d begun to question everything.

The only thing he didn’t seem to question was the goddess Ymir. Whether she existed as a deity or not, he didn’t know for sure. There was just something about the founder of their people that brought him some sort of solace for his restless mind. Whether she had just been born a human and later became their leader, or was born a goddess, it didn’t matter to him. The only thing he was certain of was that Ymir Fritz had once existed, and in some ways, still existed within his head.

In spite of this, Eren didn’t attend churches, nor did he label himself a religious person. Deamorism had been drilled into him by his parents but had never taken root in the way they’d hoped. Did he consider himself a Deamorist? Nope. There was no part of him that could fathom actual deities of any kind because if there were, then they gave zero fucks about this world. Although he found the idea of titans difficult to believe, he knew that as a result of a genocidal maniac, much of the world had been wiped out. Be it bombs or titans, something had indeed obliterated billions of lives, both man and animal alike. To think gods above watched on and allowed people to get eaten by giants, then later did nothing to stop the destruction of a madman, made Eren’s lip curl in disgust. If they actually did exist, which he didn’t believe they did, then they could go fuck themselves.

But Ymir Fritz? The mere notion of hating her just didn’t seem able to register in his mind for some reason. Something about her always made him feel…wistful somehow. Why, he didn’t know. All he knew was that she sometimes gave him comfort.

“Do you noisy brats ever talk about anything that isn’t utter nonsense?” Asked Levi while he rubbed at his temple as if he was developing a headache.

The freckled woman stared at the captain for a moment before switching her gaze to Eren. Leaning forward, a slow, depraved looking smirk stretched onto her face. “That’s a good question, boss man. How about we talk about you railing Eren? Because we all know Eren ain’t no top. So, how is it? Does he scream his head off? I bet he’s a screamer.”

Ugh. Why was Eren not surprised? Some of his friends were very ballsy and at times, that was irritating as hell. Despite them appearing intimidated by Levi announcing his presence earlier, they all seemed relaxed around Levi, for the most part. Comfortable enough to joke around him and actually have the audacity to ask him personal questions. It didn’t make sense.

Although Levi’s typically indifferent face betrayed nothing, his low, deep voice held a bit of an edge to it now. “That’s none of your fucking business.”

Unlike most of the people in the room, Ymir didn’t seem to be intimidated by the older man whatsoever. She merely tightened her arm around Historia’s waist as she whistled appreciatively. “That good, huh? Gotta say I’m glad Eren chose you. The last guy was a complete bitch.”

“Yeah, that guy was a dick. I always wanted to punch him in his midget mouth,” scoffed Jean, who seemed to have recovered from his interaction with Levi.

Connie nodded in agreement. “I don’t know what Eren saw in him. I guess maybe the fact that he could suck dick without having to kneel was appealing?”

“Wasn’t his name Leon or Leo or something with an L? He was what, 5’0”, right?” Asked Reiner, his tone more curious and not mirthful like everyone else.

Annoyed now, Eren quickly snapped, “All right, shut the hell up, all of you! He wasn’t a bad guy and there’s nothing wrong with being short. You guys all love Historia, but you never give her shit for her height, do you?”

Marco raised both his hands as he laughed nervously. “Uh, guys, Eren is right. You should cool it with the midget talk, okay? I mean, you know…”

Everyone (except for Ymir, of course) had the decency to appear remorseful for their careless shit talking.

“You’re all morons,” sighed Annie, sounding as bored as she looked.

The long-haired soldier didn’t miss the fact that most of the people in the room were avoiding looking at Levi now for some reason. Glancing at the older man, he noticed the subtle clench of his jaw, which usually indicated that he was irritated or upset by something. He wondered what could be bothering him before he realized that maybe it was just the talk of Eren’s ex that annoyed him. Some people honestly didn’t like to hear about their S.O.’s exes and it sometimes made people feel jealous.

“Levi? You ok?” Questioned Eren in an effort to do damage control.

Ignoring the younger man’s question, the captain turned his head to fully study Eren with his sharp, gunmetal colored eyes. “Was this the same man Mrs. Spencer mistook me for?”

Not knowing what to say, Eren nodded. “Uh, yeah…”

“In my ma’s defense, you resemble him a bit, Levi. Eren’s got a type,” Connie quickly supplied.

Arms crossed now, Levi smoothly inquired, “Oh? What’s this type?”

Eren had to stifle a groan. Maybe having everyone over hadn’t been such a good idea…

Out of everyone in the room, Jean was the first to speak up. He seemed to try to form his words as carefully as possible. “Well, preferably male, dark hair, gray eyes… athletic body. Personality wise, his type is usually…more on the standoffish side. So basically, someone like you.”

Levi tilted his head slightly. “So, what you’re saying is Eren is attracted to assholes.”

“Er, no, we don’t think you’re an asshole, man. It’s just…the last guy ignored Eren a lot. That’s why we were calling him a dick and stuff,” explained Connie, looking a bit sheepish.

Sasha nodded. “Yeah, unlike the last two guys, we actually like you, sir.”

Jean awkwardly scratched the back of his head as he said, “Yeah, I know we were talking some shit, but that’s all it was. Just us horsing around. We respect you and it may not seem it, but we also respect Eren, too.”

The green-eyed soldier couldn’t help snickering at that. “You said horsing…”

“Ugh, shut up, Jäger! I’m trying to be serious, you know,” sighed Jean in exasperation.

“Don’t fucking call me Jäger,” hissed Eren while he glared murderous daggers at his taller friend.

Jean leaned forward, eyes glinting as he challenged, “Stop calling me Horseface then.”

Sighing, which was barely noticed by Eren, Levi shot everyone (except for Eren) in the room a cool glare that only made him appear more attractive. The long-haired man often wondered if the older man was even aware of the aphrodisiac effect that his glaring had on him and probably others.

“Hey, watch it. The only reason I don’t kill you brats is because of him,” warned Levi, the identity of the ‘him’ in his statement being fairly obvious to them all.

If Eren were fifteen-years-old, he would probably be blushing a bright tomato red right about now.

Stretching, then folding his arms behind his head, Connie smirked. “Sure, Levi, that’s the only reason.”

“Yeah, it can’t be because you actually care about us or anything,” snorted Ymir sarcastically. Beside her, Historia smiled and giggled as she watched them all endearingly, knowing they were only teasing each other.

Smile sly and eyes hooded, Connie said, “I dunno, guys. I think he likes us. Gasp…I think…I think he even cares a little about us.”

Unimpressed, the captain then drawled, “Oh no, you caught me caring…”

Earlier spat with Jean forgotten for now, Eren sat there grinning like a happy little fool. He could get used to this…

The doorbell started ringing then, somehow sounding louder than the earlier heated argument between the two young rival men. The ringing didn’t stop and only became more obnoxious as the person pressing the button kept mashing it repeatedly as if they were trying to desperately win in a fighting video game. Appearing visibly annoyed, Levi sighed quietly to himself as he attempted to ignore the doorbell. Eren thought he heard the raven-haired man hiss, “Fucking Hanji…”

When it didn’t stop, he patted Eren on the thigh before he stood up to answer the door. “Behave, brat.”

As soon as Levi had left the room, Eren stood up and gestured at everyone. “All right, you asses, nobody says anything to Hanji, ok? She…doesn’t know yet.”

To Eren’s surprise, the first one to speak up was Annie. There was an odd look in her eyes as she stared at the long-haired male. “Why? Are you guys hiding this…relationship?”

“No, it’s just…Hanji is Levi’s friend, and she annoys the hell out of him. As soon as she finds out, she’s going to harass and piss him off,” explained the green-eyed man. He honestly had no qualms about his psychiatrist knowing, though it did give him pause because knowing her, she would want details. Details he wasn’t willing to give anyone besides Levi. With that being said, he still felt that it made much more sense if the news came from Levi, not from Eren.

Ymir shrugged. “So? If he gets pissy, just use your body to make him happy again.”

“He’s not some dumb animal, Ymir. I would never insult his intelligence like that, and I know he wouldn’t do that to me, either,” pointed out the long-haired male. The mere notion of using sex to get something he wanted out of another person made Eren feel dirty. Although he still respected sex workers, since they were people, too, and deserved respect, that didn’t mean he wanted to feel like one.

Ymir rolled her eyes. “Calm your tits, it was just a joke.”

“Uh huh, whatever,” snorted Eren before he turned to focus his attention on Annie. Now that Levi was temporarily distracted, he would take the opportunity to get some answers about why his friend seemed so pissed off at Bertholdt. Who knew when he’d find another opportunity to corner the blonde woman. “Uh, Annie, do you mind if we talk privately for a minute?”

“Sure, Eren,” replied Annie quietly as she smoothly stood up. Without sparing anyone else a look, the blonde woman silently followed Eren out of the living room and into his bedroom.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“You wanted to talk?” Prompted Annie when the brown-haired man hadn’t immediately spoken.

“I know it may not be any of my business, but why are you being so…uh, well, testy towards Bert??”

Standing there in the middle of Eren’s bedroom, Annie’s previously relaxed posture stiffened considerably. Rubbing at one of her arms, she looked away and mumbled something the other soldier didn’t catch.

Stepping closer to the blonde woman, Eren asked, “What did you say?”

Suddenly aware of his close proximity, Annie’s head whipped around to stare wide-eyed at the long-haired male. Fair-skinned cheeks tinged with pink and body rigid; Annie laughed nervously but didn’t speak.

“Annie, are you ok? I mean, if you want me to back off, just say it and I will. I’m just worried, that’s all,” Inquired Eren, who had attempted to reach over to touch her shoulder but stopped himself once he remembered she wasn’t big on being touched.

The shorter soldier took a few steps closer to Eren, nearly touching him now with how close she was. Looking up at him, she revealed, “He says things about you that I don’t like. Calls you…names.”

Eren frowned at that since it wasn’t what he expected to hear considering Bert was usually nice, albeit a bit on the shy, quiet side. “What…names?”

“Derogatory ones…like monster mostly. I’m not repeating the other terrible things he’s said. Just know he’s not the friend you believe him to be,” answered Annie, who appeared quite pained by it as if it personally offended her.

“Why would he say those things?”

Annie shrugged. “Because he likes me, I guess.”

The taller soldier tilted his head to the side as he inquisitively raised an eyebrow. “How would that involve me exactly? If he likes you, why doesn’t he just ask you out?”

Appearing visibly frustrated now, the blonde girl suddenly lunged forward, causing Eren to stumble back in surprise. When she followed him, he backed away until his back hit the wall of the room. As soon as she had him within her grasp, the blonde woman reached up and grabbed Eren by the face and tugged him down to her level so that she could kiss him deeply on the lips. Frozen in shock, Eren gawked at her like she had just stabbed his dog to death.

Before Eren had the chance to shove her away, Annie broke the kiss, but didn’t release his face, which was still cradled by her soft, small hands. Her blue eyes, now looking rather warm and open like a lake on a sunny, summer day, now searched his face as she chewed at her bottom lip anxiously. “I had to do that…at least once.”

Stunned, Eren remembered all the times he’d seen this girl smile for him, and him alone. He’d never realized that before, until now. He’d assumed she was just shy and wasn’t one to smile much. Never had he once, despite jokes made by others, had he entertained the thoughts that Annie liked him as more than a friend. Inwardly berating his own obliviousness, he murmured, “You…like me.”

Annie nodded slowly as she reluctantly released his face. “Bertholdt knows. That’s why he doesn’t like you. It’s stupid. You haven’t done anything wrong…”

“How long?”

“Since the first day I met you, Eren,” confessed Annie, her voice so quiet and sad that the other soldier barely made out her words at all.

Leaning fully against the bedroom wall, Eren slowly scrubbed at his face with both hands. Although he appeared mostly calm on the outside, on the inside he was anything but that. Being kissed and touched like that had felt wrong, and he felt guilty even though he knew that he hadn’t invited it and hadn’t kissed or touched back. Despite this being the second time someone had kissed and touched him without his permission, he wouldn’t dare compare this incident to what had happened with his cousin. Floch had outright assaulted him while Annie had…

Dropping his hands from his face, the green-eyed man sighed. “You shouldn’t have done that, Annie.”

“I know. You’re right. I shouldn’t have, and I am truly sorry…but I don’t regret it, Eren,” admitted the blonde soldier, her face expressing emotions that seemed to contradict one another, such as remorse and relief. Brushing stray golden hairs out of her face, the blue-eyed woman looked away quickly to avoid showing how her emotions betrayed her. But Eren had already seen the tears brimming in her eyes, and the tears that now fell freely down her unblemished cheeks. “I’m going to…keep my distance, for now. I think that’s best. If you need me, you know how to reach me. See you, Eren.”

Wiping her eyes quickly, Annie briskly strode out of the room, opening the door and pausing for a moment, as if conflicted. She’d turned her head a fraction, as if to look at him, but seemed to think better of it because she then left without sparing the brunet a glance.

Even though Eren knew that Annie would never breathe a word of this to another soul, Eren knew that he would still have to tell Levi. Feeling his heart clench painfully in his chest, his body shuddered as he forced himself off from the wall.

Eren was a lot of things, but he was no coward.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

When Eren returned to the living room, it was to his friends chattering animatedly about something. Glancing their way, he saw them all staring transfixed at the 65-inch flat screen television that was mounted on the wall. Focusing on the tv, he noticed that it was on the news, which was flashing multiple helicopter views of a demolished building. A building that obviously had been destroyed by a bomb.

“What’s going on?” Asked Eren as his eyes traveled from one friend to the next and noticed that Annie was absent. He also noticed that Levi was still missing from the room. He was either still dealing with Hanji, or he’d left again to do whatever. The first seemed far more likely since the older man wasn’t prone to leaving Eren without letting him know first.

Tearing his eyes from the tv long enough to look at Eren, Jean supplied, “Some asshole bombed an elementary school in Liberio earlier today. They’re not sure who is responsible, yet.”

Liberio. It was the largest city in Marley that was heavily populated by a healthy balance of both Marleyans and Eldians. It was also the city that separated the country New Eldia from Marley. Over three-hundred years ago, after the defeat of the Liberator, there had been many peace talks between the Eldians and Marleyans. A truce had been made and, in the end, a good chunk of the continent, large enough to be called a country, had been gifted to the Eldians as war reparations. The Internment Zones in the newly rebuilt Liberio and in other Marleyan cities, no longer existed. In return, the Eldians promised peace and upheld an alliance with Marley.

Having nothing useful to offer in response, Eren opted for silence as he gingerly seated himself back on his spot on the couch. He barely noticed Sasha immediately lean in and hang an arm over his closest shoulder.

“Did they mention any survivors, yet?” Asked Reiner, his solemn gaze glued to the television. His hands were resting near his knees, the fingers curling hard against his own flesh. Something about the bleak expression on his face and his body language gave Eren the impression that this news was affecting him greatly. He wasn’t the only one, though. The dark-haired giant beside him, Bertholdt, appeared just as bothered as the blond man.

Sure, they were all bothered by the news of a bombing on innocent kids, by why were those two the most affected? Reiner and Bertholdt were born and raised in Paradis like everyone else here and as far as he knew, they didn’t have family in Liberio. Maybe it was nothing and Eren was just imagining things again. It’s not the first time he’s halluncinated strange things that made no sense to him. He could be very well be seeing things that weren’t there.

“None, yet,” replied Jean grimly as he pulled out his cell phone. Unlocking it, he tapped and scrolled away before giving up on whatever he was searching for. Sighing, he put his phone away. “There’s nothing online offering any new information, either. I bet they know more than what they’re saying. I’m guessing they have to keep it under wraps.”

Connie frowned, his eyebrows beginning to furrow in anger. “But why kids?”

“Why do asshole terrorists do the things they do? Because they’re assholes,” Ymir pointed out, her usual laidback and sarcastic attitude a thing of the past. Although it happened time from time, seeing the freckled girl in a serious mood always felt a bit jarring to Eren.

“I bet this is a calculated attack by an organized terrorist group. It’s not random and I doubt it’s some homemade bomb. Can’t be,” mused Marco aloud.

Breaking her silence, Historia inquired, “Do you think it’s the same group responsible for the other bombings?”

“What other bombings?” Questioned Eren curiously. As far as he knew, the last bomb had been over six months ago…

“Uh, well, while you were…out of commission, there’s been attacks every now and then, in different countries, though,” answered Jean.

Connie nodded. “They haven’t figured out who is responsible for those attacks, or even for…you know, what happened on that mission. The only thing they do seem to know is that it’s the same terrorist group.”

The green-eyed man didn’t have time to really dwell on that due to the sound of approaching footsteps.  Getting up to snag the remote, he changed the channel to some random anime before quickly sitting back down again. It was a little game he sometimes did to mess with Levi, since he knew the man found anime annoying. There was that and the fact that he hated news channels because they were biased, untruthful, and ridiculously edited. He didn’t know how someone could continue watching the news spewing the same stuff over and over again.

Hanji and Levi both entered the living room then, the doctor a little ahead of the raven-haired man due to her typical excitement. Eren schooled his features as well as he could as he watched the veteran scan the room as if ensuring that everything was still clean and tidy. His steel eyes paused on the tv screen for a moment and Eren had to bite back a laugh when he saw the older man make a face. As if sensing the younger man’s mirth, Levi’s sharp gaze snapped over to pin down Eren. His eyes narrowed more (if that was even possible) as he stared at the long-haired man. Something about the captain’s intense gaze and body language seemed teasing now in a way that had Eren shifting uncomfortably on the couch and crossing his legs. The man seemed to silently say:

I’m going to get you.

Eren, the brash and determined man that he was, had miscalculated again. He often forgot that Levi was an exceedingly patient man that had several years on him. He’d have to be patient considering he was friends with Hanji, and often had to tolerate her presence along with Eren’s obnoxious friends. The man deserved a medal for putting up with them all without killing any of them.

He’d also temporarily forgotten that Levi excelled at teasing and was better at it than anyone Eren had ever known. His way was almost always so subtle (blink and you’ll miss it) type of teasing and yet it had a larger impact on the viridian-eyed man than anything loud and obvious would have on him.

It was also mind boggling how Eren could feel so troubled and lost on the verge of a mental breakdown, but the moment Levi walked in, all the shit washed away and there was nothing else. Nothing else mattered and all his troubles seemed insignificant and far away, like some faded dream.

Ymir damn, but the way the man moved, like water and electricity swirling together, should be illegal. Cyan eyes watched closely as Levi resumed walking again, striding right past Eren as if he didn’t even see him. His long, strong legs moved languidly with purpose as he headed over to a window. Did he always walk that way or was Eren just hyper aware of it now because he was getting horny? No, no, Levi had to be doing this shit on purpose. And even worse, his back was facing him now as he walked, offering him a view of those broad shoulders, tapered back, and taut posterior.

It made heat pool into his belly knowing that underneath those clothes, there were numerous marks. Marks made by Eren, and only Eren.

ERRRRRREEEEENNNN!” Screeched a familiar harpy-like voice, which caused the green-eyed soldier to tear his gaze away from his lover. Lover. Was that what they were to one another? Eren didn’t know what to call each other, but what he did know was that it was indeed a relationship, a monogamous one at that. It seemed juvenile somehow to refer to Levi as his boyfriend. The man was thirty-five, after all, and Eren was no longer some stupid teenager. So, what did he call him? Partner? Significant Other, or S.O. for short? Ugh, he just didn’t know. It’s not that he truly cared since labels always annoyed Eren. But sometimes labels were needed, unfortunately.

Eren! Yo, Eren?” Called Connie, who then waved a hand in his friend’s spaced-out face. Right next to him was Hanji, tapping her chin thoughtfully as she studied Eren before glancing at the raven-haired veteran. He followed her gaze, noticing then that the silver-eyed man had opened a window to allow fresh air to slip in and air out the room. A gentle breeze drifted in, bringing in the scent of wood, pine, and smoke. The scent of winter, which always made Eren feel comforted somehow

“Young man, you missed four appointments! Care to tell me why?” Interrogated Hanji, her arms crossed and her shoe tapping against the wood floor. In spite of her posture, she didn’t actually appear annoyed or upset. If anything, she looked intrinsically curious and interested as she regarded Eren.

Before Eren could even think up a response, let alone blink, Levi was suddenly right there to counter his polar opposite of a friend. “That would be my fault, Shitty Glasses.”

Oho, may I ask the reason why, Grumpy pants?” Inquired the psychiatrist as she leaned close, too close for Levi’s comfort. He easily lifted one leg and used his boot clad foot to push her away by the face, his arms crossed and his body never wavering despite standing on one leg. As soon as she was a safe distance, he lowered his leg back to the ground.

Levi sounding both annoyed and bored, replied, “To give him a break from you relentlessly probing at his brain like the crazy person you are.”

“You could have just called and told me this, Levi!” Sniffed Hanji, feigning hurt as she stared at the captain expectantly.

Clearly unmoved, Levi reminded her, “Tch. My priority is him, not your shitty feelings.”

“Hm, I guess that’s true,” sighed the doctor, appearing resigned for only a moment before she was renewed again by whatever thoughts bounced around in her hyper head. Though she was facing Levi, her brown eyes were staring at Eren from the corners with something akin to a knowing look. “So, anything of interest happen? Anything new…? Any new people…or relationships? Is Levi treating you well?”

Because everyone respected Eren’s wishes or well, just feared Levi and his wrath, none of his friends dared breathe a word.

“I beat him every day, Hanji. Is that what you want to hear?” Spat out the veteran.

“Not talking, eh?” Muttered Hanji to herself before she fully looked at Levi again. “I hope that’s a joke, Grumpy, because if you’re actually beating him, I’ll beat you!”

Levi scoffed. “I spar with him every day, shit for brains. He didn’t build all that muscle by sitting on his ass all day. You know better than most that I would never hurt him unless it was to save his life.”

Leaning in closer, but not too close, she stared at Levi full on in the face in a way most people didn’t have the balls to do. It was a feat most wouldn’t and couldn’t do for more than a few seconds. After a few minutes of unsuccessfully searching for clues in the captain’s impassive face, the doctor gave up with a loud sigh. The entire time, Levi’s face had remained neutral, and the man hadn’t looked away, nor had he even blinked once during their staring contest. He’d just stared back, his expression and body language betraying absolutely nothing.

“Damn you and your poker face, Levi! You’re no fun, you know that?” Complained Hanji, her hands anchored to her hips. Another idea seemed to occur to her because then she cackled excitedly. “I do admit, your poker face is impressive, perfect even…but do you know whose isn’t?”

“Don’t you dare—” Growled the raven-haired man, but before he could grab the psychiatrist, she had already whirled around and ducked down to stare Eren in the face.

Peering back at Hanji calmly, Eren patiently regarded her in the way he would to any hyperactive, annoying ass child. Just as coolly, he then asked, “Can I help you?”

“You have anything to tell me, Eren? Anything…anything at all?” Sang Hanji while she stared him dead in the eyes, seeking answers to her own questions that no doubt wriggles chaotically in that eccentric head of hers. If he was a young, dumb teenager again, then her probing him for answers and staring him down might have worked.

“I wasn’t aware Levi’s house was your office, Dr. Haus. If you want to talk about personal matters, I suggest that you wait until our next appointment,” said the long-haired man nonchalantly, his voice and face never once breaking under the pressure.

Huffing from defeat, Hanji reared back and stamped her foot. “Dammit, Levi, you’ve trained him well!”

While the fuming psychiatrist was temporarily distracted, the green-eyed soldier glanced at the older man and discovered him watching Eren with a look that could only be pride. Although Levi wasn’t one to hand out praise like candy during a child’s holiday, whenever he did praise Eren, it was genuine, and it always affected the younger man way more than it should. Eren was starting to think that he had developed a praise kink or something.

“I didn’t teach the brat that,” disagreed the steel-eyed veteran, his beautiful face once more cloaked by disinterest. Glancing at Eren for a moment, Levi then looked back to Hanji and narrowed his eyes. “And the brat is right, talk to him about whatever shit you want in your office. Guess that means…you’ll have to wait a few days, huh.”

“But Levi—” Protested Hanji, before she was cut off by Levi grabbing her by her shirt collar and dragging her out of the room. There was the sound of the front door opening, some talking, and then the door slamming shut.

Turning towards his friends, Eren found that they were all staring at him with mixed expressions. No longer in the mood to socialize, he decided to call it a night even though it wasn’t even dark outside, yet.

“It was nice having you guys over, but it’s a been a long day and I’m tired,” bid Eren quietly, his words indirectly asking them to leave.

“Sure, Eren, we understand, man,” said Connie as he stood up to lightly punch him on the arm. “See you around and sorry if we were assholes. You know we’re just…”

“You were just trying to make things normal again. I know, it’s okay. I’m not mad at you guys. I get up at around four A.M. every day to work out, you know. And before any of you say anything, Levi doesn’t hurt me. If anything, I know he’s holding back,” explained Eren and it was the honest to God truth.

Connie nodded and most of the others did, too. “Yeah, we know. He’s a good guy, Eren. He’s not like those piece of shit cousins of yours.”

Appreciating that, Eren nodded, but said nothing. Although his friends were aware that there had been…some sort of disagreement among him and his cousins, he hadn’t revealed the whole story. Levi was the only one that truly knew what had happened that night. He hadn’t seen or heard from Floch since that fateful night and he couldn’t say he was unhappy about that. As for Zeke, he hadn’t heard from him since he packed and left the house. A part of him felt that it was Levi’s doing that caused the lack of communication between him and his cousin. He didn’t mind considering his relationship with both of his cousins was complicated and he felt better not thinking about either of them.

Sasha’s eyes grew large in realization as she rose from the couch. Wrapping her arms around her long-haired male best friend, she sighed, “Wow, that’s so early. That’s usually when I go to bed.”

“We used to get up that early every day, though,” pointed out Jean as he rolled his eyes.

Noticing that everyone was dragging their feet when their mutual friend desperately wanted some peace, Historia stood up quickly and dragged Ymir along with her. Now assertive and determined, she glared around the room at everyone as she announced, ”Okay, guys, let’s go! Get a move on, I mean it!”

Everyone mumbled a goodbye to Eren as the gentle blonde woman herded them out. As she passed Eren, he gave her a grateful look and a nod, to which she smiled back at him before she disappeared from view. Feeling eyes on him, the teal-eyed soldier turned to regard the other presence still lingering near the doorway of the living room. Spotting Bertholdt standing there awkwardly, Eren raised an eyebrow. “You forget something?”

Straightening his posture, the normally shy man firmly questioned, “What did you say to Annie?”

“None of your damn business. You want to know; you go ask her yourself. I won’t betray a confidence,” snipped Eren, just wanting the taller man to leave already.

Ignoring Eren’s response, Bertholdt asked, “Did you hurt her?”

“Get out,” hissed the long-haired man as his fingers curled into fists at his sides. The fact that Bert had had the gall to ask such a fucked-up question made him want to sock the guy in the jaw. If the other man continued to push him, Eren just very well might give into his temptation to strike him.

“I’m not going anywhere until you—” Began Bert before he was cut off by a low, deep voice that cut deeper than any knife could.

“—You heard him,” interrupted Levi, his low voice sharper than it normally was. Gunmetal eyes glinting dangerously, the older man continued, “Now get the fuck out of my house.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Sitting on the couch, Levi patiently observed the younger man pacing back and forth. After Bertholdt had reluctantly (but wisely) left, the younger man had told the captain that they needed to talk and that it couldn’t wait.

“I don’t even know where to start,” sighed Eren after he’d tortured himself for several minutes. Combing his fingers through his long, mocha brown hair, he turned to fully face Levi despite his anxiety wanting to keep his body in motion.

Noting the other man’s indecisiveness, the older man decided to make the decision for him. “What happened with the blonde girl?”

Dropping his eyes to the ground, he felt guilt well up in him then. “Long story short, she planted a kiss on me and confessed that she liked me. I’m sorry, I didn’t—”

Feeling cool fingers slide against the skin of his neck to gently raise Eren’s head up by his chin, the younger man was surprised when concerned grey eyes met his.  “Did you want that?”

“No. No, I don’t…like her that way. I didn’t even kiss back. I didn’t want that,” Admitted Eren quietly. His viridian eyes widened when he noticed something that looked like anger licking like flames in steel eyes.

Noticing the younger man’s reaction, Levi sighed and tucked some of that long hair behind one of Eren’s tan ears. “I’m not angry with you, Eren. I’m pissed at her.”

“Don’t hurt her, Levi, please. She’s not like Floch. It wasn’t…the same. She’s also never going to try anything again.”

“I see. I’m still going to have a little chat with her next time I see her,” said the raven-haired soldier as he pulled aside the younger man’s collar to reveal a love bite that had been made just a few hours ago. Tracing his fingers over the dark mark, Levi then murmured, “To think that I have my marks all over you and that girl still had the gall to touch what’s mine…”

Feeling cool hands slide underneath his shirt, Eren shivered from that sensation and from the possessive words. When he felt lips press against his neck, the younger male stepped back quickly. He needed to be coherent, not distracted by those talented hands and mouth. “Levi…something has been bothering me for a while.”

“Tell me.” Following Eren, the dark-haired male latched his hands onto the younger male’s hips, but otherwise did nothing else but watch him intently.

“I get this impression that my friends have known you for years. They’ve tried to hide it, but most of them aren’t that good at acting. There’s been hints, looks…just things they’ve said. They’re familiar with you, and you them. I’ve known Connie and Sasha since grade school. The rest I’ve known since I was eighteen. And yet, none of them have ever mentioned you. What is going on, Levi?” Asked Eren as he slid his hands over the hands glued to his hips as if to ensure that they stayed there.

The hands bracketing Eren’s hips tightened more, but not enough to bruise the skin. Slate eyes full of anguish and what appeared to be helplessness, stared right back at him. The hands on the other man’s hips untangled themselves so that they could snake around in a lose embrace to pull the younger man against him. Cheek to cheek, Levi then whispered, “I wish I could tell you, Eren.”

“Why can’t you? What’s stopping you?”

“You are.”

“I don’t understand…”

“Exactly. You don’t understand and even if I tried to explain it to you, you still wouldn’t understand.”

Eren pulled back to look the older man in the face. “I’m not an idiot, Levi.”

“No, you are far from it. It has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence. It has everything to do with memory, which you lack. You don’t remember. I remember, Hanji remembers, all of your friends remember. Everyone…everyone but you, remembers. Even if we took the time to explain it, to recount every single memory of the past, you still wouldn’t believe us,” sighed Levi, frustration apparent in his voice and body language. He was tense now and his jaw tight as if he were about to fight in a major battle.

Hearing those words brought a recent memory to mind for Eren. He remembered his friends talking about Captain Levi Ackerman, a man that had lived over three hundred years ago. His friends had compared him to Levi Andersen, had pointed out the similarities. He’d thought it was odd but didn’t think much of it. He also remembered Annie’s words:

 ‘You wouldn’t believe us even if we told you.’

Trying desperately to attempt to wrap his mind around this confusing matter, Eren then inquired, “They compared you to Levi Ackerman, a man that lived three hundred years ago. Were you related?”

“No.”

“You look like him and you live in his house,” the long-haired soldier pointed out, clearly not buying his answer.

“This is my house, Eren.”

“I was told that he had this house built.”

“That is true,” admitted the older man slowly.

“Give me something, Levi. Tell me something, anything. Even if I can’t understand, give me something,” beseeched the younger male, at his wit’s end now. Although he didn’t know what to believe, he still didn’t believe that this man, or his own friends, were lying to him necessarily.

“My name is Ackerman, not Andersen. My full name is, and always has been, Levi Ackerman. My sister’s name is Mikasa Ackerman,” confessed Levi after a lengthy silence. When he felt Eren pull away from him, he allowed his arms to go limp and fall at his sides. The captain remained where he stood and didn’t bother to follow the other man who had stepped back away from him.

Eren shook his head slowly. “I don’t understand…”

“Hanji is Hanji Zoe, not Hanji Haus. As for your friends…Connie Spencer is Connie Springer. Sasha is Braus, Jean is Kirstein, Reiner is Braun, and so on. The surnames that you are familiar with them having, are just aliases to protect them,” explained Levi patiently despite the obvious turmoil and frustration plaguing him now.

“If that is true, and know that I’m not accusing you of being a liar, why the false names? What do you all need protection from?”

“From the ones that want us dead, Eren. Something warned us, warned our parents, of the danger, so they gave us all false names to protect our identities. I don’t pretend to understand it. I just know it to be true,” clarified the veteran.

Eren was beginning to understand why Levi had told him that this would be difficult for him to grasp.  “You were named after Levi Ackerman, then.”

“No, I was named because of him,” the older man corrected.

The green-eyed man’s brow furrowed, clearly perplexed by that concept. “I don’t understand what that means.”

“Do you trust me, Eren? Before you answer, think about it.”

And he did. Eren thought about the first day he’d met Levi, and just how quickly he’d felt a connection to him. That very first day, he had felt compelled to approach the man even though the veteran soldier had made no attempt to engage him first. Eren rarely felt drawn to strangers and didn’t easily trust people. After killing two men to save Isabel from a grisly fate, the brown-haired male had begun to see the world in a different light. The world was cruel, and often unfair to the life that inhabited it. After losing his innocence to protect a stranger, Eren had found it increasingly difficult to trust and connect with people. Maybe that’s why he’d had a hard time connecting to anyone else he’d dated. Feeling no true connection, no trust, had ultimately driven them all away. But Levi…he’d connected to and trusted pretty much instantly. Why that was, he didn’t know. He remembered once asking why the man cared so much about him, a stranger. Levi had said:

‘Because you know what it’s like, Eren. There’s not many of us in this world that gets it, but you do.’

Focusing his gaze back on the other man, Eren took a step and then another step until he was closed enough to touch the other man. Wrapping an arm around his narrow waist and using his other hand to reach up and touch the scarred part of the veteran’s pale face. Unlike the other times, Levi didn’t flinch or show any form of disapproval when his scars were touched. Eren nearly sighed when he felt hands slide up his thighs to ultimately end up hooking themselves onto his hips, the thumbs brushing over hipbones.

Looking into those liquid metal eyes now, eyes that many would describe as cold, all Eren saw in them was warmth. “Yes, I trust you.”

“Do you trust my judgement?” Asked Levi, his hands unlatching from Eren’s hips so that he could back away until he was close enough to sit down on the couch.

Like a magnet attracted to steel, Eren found himself following after the other soldier, barely allowing him space to himself before he straddled his lap. Placing one hand on a shoulder, the younger man leaned closer as he carded his fingers through inky black hair that felt like silk. Resting his forehead against Levi’s, he shuddered a bit in pleasure at the feeling of hands sliding up his thighs before reaching around to grasp him by his ass.

“You going to answer my question, brat?”

Hands kneading his ass, Eren did his best to remember the original, unanswered question in spite of the distraction. Once he finally somehow remembered, he sighed, “Yes, I trust your judgement.”

“Then be patient and do as I say. You may not understand everything now, but you will, in time. Everything I’m doing, is for you. I promise you; I will not fail you again,” vowed Levi while his hands trailed up the younger man’s back to rub indistinct patterns into his flesh to soothe him.

The long-haired man found that he did indeed believe that to be true. While he didn’t understand what was going on, or even what Levi meant by him failing him, Eren knew one thing for certain and that was that he trusted Levi without a doubt. Whether he was Andersen or Ackerman, it still amounted to the very same man he sat astride. No longer willing to torture himself with all of these confusing, conflicting thoughts, Eren lowered his face to Levi’s neck. Fingers still tangled in impossibly silky soft hair, he bit and sucked at the pale flesh until his mouth hovered near an ear. Teasing an earlobe in his teeth, he then requested, “Make me forget, Levi. I need to forget everything that isn’t you.”

Not needing to be told twice, the taller soldier lifted Eren up and laid him down on the couch before he crawled over him, mouth and hands blazing a searing trail as clothes were shed and tossed away like the younger man’s unwanted thoughts.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

The next morning, after a vigorous workout followed by sex in the shower, found the pair driving to a destination unknown to the younger man. Dismounting the motorcycle, Eren winced a bit from the soreness of his body. At this rate, if he kept provoking Levi, he would actually need a wheelchair. Amused by the thought, the younger male slipped the helmet off and hung it over a handlebar before he turned to face the titanic sized building that loomed before them. He’d been here once before, years ago when he had attended high school. It felt disorientating to think that hadn’t been too long ago yet felt like it had been decades ago at the same time. “So, you going to tell me why we’re at the Paradis Museum of National History?”

“There’s something you need to see,” answered Levi cryptically as he hung his helmet before he dismounted his bike with ease. Unlike Eren, he seemed to have a far easier time sliding off the bike and moving despite having sparred with and fucked the other soldier not long ago.

Eren smoothed out his somewhat messy helmet hair until it was more presentable. Blowing a tuft of long, chocolate brown hair out of his face, he said, “I’m pretty sure I’ve probably already seen it. In high school we had a field trip that took us here.”

Tch. It was recently added this week, brat. Unless you snuck away while I was sleeping to break into the museum to see it, then you haven’t seen it,” drawled the raven-haired captain as he headed towards the museum without looking to see if Eren was following him.

Since it was barely eight in the morning, there was barely any people inside the gigantic building. Eren forced himself to adjust his steps once he heard how loud his footsteps echoed in the enormous chamber. As usual, Levi was silent, his boots barely making any sound as he strode leisurely through the museum. With how confident he walked and how he barely glanced at anything along the way, it was clear to the younger man that the other man had been here before.

After several minutes of silence and walking, Eren whispered, “So, which exhibit are we going to?”

“The Eren Jäger exhibit,” answered Levi, not bothering to whisper, and ignoring the dirty looks two elderly women shot his way.

Before Eren could question Levi why they were headed to look at the Liberator’s exhibit, Levi had already slipped into a chamber even bigger than the first chamber they’d entered. Once the green-eyed man stepped inside, he quickly understood why. Near the middle of the room was a gigantic sized statue of a crouched male, which appeared humanoid in form. Upon closer inspection, the statue appeared to be made out of…crystal? But how? It was both beautiful and terrifying to him as he gawked at it while trying to wrap his brain around this massive thing.

“What the fucking hell…is that statue thing?” Breathed Eren as he inched closer, the size of the statue easily dwarfing him. What bothered him most about the monstrous thing was just how disturbingly familiar it looked to him. He’d never seen it before in his life, and yet here he was, staring up at it like it was some creepy old acquaintance of his.

From beside him, Levi stated, “It’s not a statue. It’s the crystallized shell of the Attack Titan and the Founding Titan. The very one Eren Jäger used.”

“How did they—” Began Eren before he was interrupted by a horrified screech.

“—Eren?! Levi?! What are you guys doing here?” Called out Hanji as she sped over to them like a maniac, her eyes as wild as her frantic voice. Unlike every other occurrence with the doctor, she wasn’t being playful or silly. Staring wide-eyed at the captain, the brown-haired woman quickly asked, “Didn’t you get my text message, Levi?”

“No, I did not,” answered the raven-haired man, one eyebrow arched as he fished out his phone, unlocked it and double checked to see if he’d received any messages. Finding none, he held up his phone as proof for the bespectacled woman to see.

Visibly shaking now, Hanji hissed, “Shit, I must have texted Moblit instead! Fuck, you two have to get out of here right now!”

“Why? What’s going on?” Questioned the cyan-eyed man, wondering what could have spooked the seemingly fearless woman.

Hanji grabbed Eren by the arm and proceeded to tug him, though he didn’t budge from where he stood. “Eren, sweetie, there’s no time. We have to go—”

“—Eren?” Came a young woman’s dubious voice, a familiar voice that was quiet sounding despite how it loudly echoed in the chamber. Eren knew that voice, he’d heard it before but when had he? Wait, now he remembered why it was familiar. He’d heard that quiet voice in Levi’s house on the night Eren and Levi had finally had sex for the first time. This meant this must be Levi’s sister, Mikasa.

Turning to fully face the source of the one calling out his name, Eren spotted a pretty woman with short, raven hair standing several feet away. She was dressed in a short, black trench coat with a crimson scarf wrapped around her neck. At each side there seemed to be a sheathed, slim sword that matched the other. Focusing back on her pale face, despite her Asian features, he definitely noticed the resemblance between her and Levi. They weren’t twins, but they had some similarities both physically and well, aura-wise.

Glancing at Levi, Eren was about to ask him a question when he noticed the shocked look on the man’s face. Silver eyes wide, skin a few shades paler than normal, body ramrod straight, the older soldier looked as if he were staring at a specter and not at a family member.

“Eren!” Repeated the raven-haired woman, her voice louder and more certain as she gazed at him with what appeared to be pure elation. Smiling now, she started running towards him until Levi slipped in front of Eren, effectively blocking her path to him. Stopping abruptly, the woman’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she gawked owlishly at the man standing between her and Eren. “Levi? What…”

“He doesn’t remember you, Mikasa. He doesn’t remember me, Armin, or even his own parents,” stated the slate-eyed male. To some random observer, Levi probably sounded cold and cruel, but Eren knew better. He could easily tell that the person the captain was speaking to right now was someone that he loved.

Taking a slow step forward, Mikasa narrowed her dark grey eyes as the cogs in her head started turning. “You found Eren. When…did you find Eren?”

“Nearly two months ago,” answered Levi, his gunmetal colored eyes trained on his sister. When Eren tried to move around him, the captain held out his arm to block the younger man’s path.

Mikasa took another step forward as anger began to blossom within her. “You…found him…and didn’t tell me?”

“That is correct,” Levi said, sounding resigned. Jaw tight and body stiff as a board, the older man didn’t move a muscle, didn’t even look away when the young woman launched herself at him like a missile. Pulling her arm back, she swung it and punched him seemingly with all her might, in the mouth. Although he didn’t stagger from the blow, his head did jerk to the side. This woman…she hit like a fucking man. In all the times that they’re sparred together, Eren had never dared hit the man even half that hard. Horrified now, Eren stared in disbelief with wide eyes at the scene before him.

Turning his head back to look at Mikasa, Levi said nothing as he stared at her expectantly. Bottom lip now split; blood leaked freely down his chin before dripping messily onto the white marble floor.

Yanking back her arm to deliver another punishing blow, the angry, panting woman launched her fist a second time, her target once again Levi. The sound of a fist striking flesh echoed in the chamber, but this time it hadn’t connected with Levi’s face. As quick as lightning, Eren had intercepted Mikasa’s wrathful fist in his own hand. Gripping her fist hard, he tightened his hold on her small hand until she winced in pain. Fuming from his own barely restrained rage, Eren stepped forward and forced her back until she was several feet away from Levi. Shoving her arm away as he released her fist, his vibrant green eyes continued to glare unforgivingly at the young woman.

“If you hit him again, I swear to Ymir and every other goddamn god out there that I will put you in the fucking ground,” hissed Eren, his own anger making him pant a bit.

“Eren…Eren, I’m sorry…please,” apologized Mikasa, her face twisted in pain as she gazed at him imploringly.

“Don’t apologize to me. Apologize to Levi,” growled the green-eyed soldier before he turned his back on her and stalked back over to the older man. Taking out a napkin from his pocket, he gently took a hold of Levi’s face in one hand and used his other hand to gingerly dab at the split lip with the clean napkin. Face now softened as he wiped up the blood, Eren sighed. “Levi…”

“Oh, Mikasa…I wish you hadn’t done that. If you’re going to be angry with anyone, it shouldn’t be with Captain Levi,” spoke a soft spoken, male voice.

Looking over his shoulder at the newcomer, Eren noticed a young looking, short blond man standing beside an older looking and taller blond man around Eren’s own height.

“Who should I be angry with then, Armin?” Sighed Mikasa, looking defeated, but still a bit miffed.

The young blond man, presumably the one called Armin, smiled woefully. “With me.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter Text

“I don’t understand,” whispered Mikasa, her quiet voice sounding broken as she stared at the short, blond man.

That made two of them, Eren thought to himself as he felt some sympathy for the woman. That sympathy, however, shattered the moment he glanced back at Levi and saw traces of anguish swirling in his silver eyes. Levi was a tough man; he could take a hit and he could deliver an even better hit. For whatever reason, he’d allowed his sister to hit him and was about to allow her to continue raining blows upon him until Eren had stepped in. This probably meant that he thought he deserved to get hit, but why?

The older, taller blond man sniffed the air like an animal before he stopped and stared directly at Eren, his light gray eyes widening. Wordlessly, the blond male’s long legs quickly carried him over to the long-haired soldier as if he were being pulled by a rope.  Before he could close in the distance, Levi had snapped out of whatever daze he’d been in to step protectively in between Eren and the blond male.

“You already know what he smells like,” snapped the raven-haired man in annoyance, his words drawing the attention of every occupant in the room.

Wait, that dude wanted to sniff him, like some kind of dog? That was…weird. Wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it was still weird. Despite the animal-like traits, the man appeared calm and unlike many people, didn’t seem the least bit intimidated by Levi’s intimidating personality. Eren couldn’t explain why, but something about the dynamic between the blond and the captain seemed like equals.

The tall blond shrugged. “Just making sure it’s him.”

Him? It didn’t take a genius to figure out they were probably referring to The Liberator, the one everyone seemed to be cautiously hinting at that he was what, reincarnated from? As laughable as such a notion was, this unknown blond man’s familiarity with Eren, along with Mikasa and Armin’s, made his already aching head spin. He’d never met these people before in his life, but they all looked and acted like they’d known him for years. He wanted so badly to believe everything Levi had told him, but there was just something making him obstinately dig his heels in.

 “Mike…it’s him,” Levi stated, his steel eyes locking with the blond’s own pale gray orbs. As if Levi’s word was enough for him, Mike nodded his acceptance. Breaking the staring content, the dark-haired soldier then switched his attention to the smaller blond man, the one called Armin. “Hey. Where is Eyebrows?”

As if Levi’s very inquiry had summoned him, another blond man then chose that moment to stroll into the gigantic chamber with a familiar petite woman hooked to his arm. Upon closer scrutiny, Eren realized that it was Petra holding onto the blond man’s arm. Trailing behind him were two other older men, their eyes darting around the chamber in a practiced effort to spot potential threats. They were obviously bodyguards, or at the very least, had used to be at some point in their lives.

Unlike the other blond men in the chamber, this newcomer had a very commanding air about him as he strode towards them. Just five feet or so shy of Levi, the blond stopped to regard each person in the room. His intense blue eyes stopped on Eren momentarily, appearing thoughtful as he stared at him before he directed his gaze back at the captain. “Levi. I didn’t know you’d be here today.”

Levi shot Hanji a withering glare before he looked back at the imposing blond man. Eren could tell by his body language that Levi respected this man very much. “I wouldn’t have come here at all if shit for brains over there had managed to operate a cell phone correctly.”

“I’m sorry, Levi!” Apologized Hanji, who actually did appear to be remorseful for her mistake.

Apparently losing her patience, the raven-haired woman snapped, “Is someone going to tell me what the hell is going on?”

“In due time, Mikasa,” said the commanding blond as he held up a hand to placate the angry woman, not the least bit bothered by her rude attitude. Taking a moment to gaze up at the crystallized titan, the blond man then murmured, “Seems like just yesterday, doesn’t it. Just yesterday we fought against titans to save humanity only to realize that the true enemy was indeed, humanity. Still is. And…there’s always another basement to find, isn’t there. I just hope this time I get to discover its secrets with my very own eyes…”

“Uh, excuse me, but what are you talking about?” Asked Eren, becoming more confused by the second. These people he’d never seen before, were acting like they knew him and were also spouting out gibberish. Like Mikasa, he wanted to know what the hell was actually going on.

Disconnecting his gaze from the shell of the attack/founding titan that loomed over them like a beautiful, terrifying protector (or angel of death), the blond man regarded Eren then. The moment he stepped forward to approach the green-eyed man, Levi had immediately stepped aside to allow him access. Holding out his right hand, the blond warmly said, “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Eren. I am Erwin Schmidt.”

The first thing that the green-eyed man noticed about Erwin was that his bare right hand was a robotic hand, but unlike Levi’s two robotic fingers, Erwin’s hand was completely robotic. How had he lost it? Part of him was tempted to ask, but the other part of him metaphorically kicked himself to keep his damn mouth shut. No, that was just really freaking rude and insensitive. Losing a hand, or any limb, was a traumatic experience in itself and it wasn’t really Eren’s place to dredge up harrowing memories from a stranger. 

Now that Erwin was close enough to scrutinize fully, Eren tore his eyes away from the robotic hand to stare up at a handsome face. Eren then realized the man looked oddly familiar, too familiar. He’d seen him somewhere; he was sure of it. Even the name was distinctly familiar somehow. Although Erwin was by all accounts, good looking and well built, he just wasn’t Eren’s type. Not that it mattered, considering neither one of them seemed to be available and Erwin was probably heterosexual, anyway. Wait, why was he even thinking about this, anyway? There was zero interest on his part, that was for sure. He just couldn’t help noting that many people would probably foam at the mouth for that muscular body, that sculpted, handsome face, and those big—

“—Damn…those are some big ass eyebrows,” Commented Eren in awe, without thinking. The moment the words had left his mouth, he instantly regretted them. Still…he couldn’t help gawking at just how big those monsters were. Eren’s own eyebrows weren’t slim like Levi’s, but they were definitely not giant caterpillars clinging to the brow like Erwin’s did. Though he wasn’t a vain person, the brunet still maintained his appearance by regularly bathing and grooming himself to at least be somewhat presentable. If he had to use tweezers, wax, and razors, it was a small price to pay to prevent himself from looking like some wild man roaming the mountainside.  

Erwin stared at Eren with those intense blue eyes of his, eyes that seemed to penetrate straight through the younger man’s soul. Face looking just as grim as it did upon his entrance, the blond silently watched the long-haired male without giving any clear indication about how he felt by Eren’s rude comment. Maybe it was shock, maybe it wasn’t registering to Erwin just yet what he’d said until all of a sudden, a deep chuckle bubbled out of the blond man’s mouth. Smiling now, Erwin appeared genuinely amused as glanced at Levi before he regarded Eren once again. “Did Levi tell you to say that?”

Eren shook his head. “Uh…no, sir.”

“Oh, please, shit brows, anyone with eyes, even shitty eyes like Hanji, would have drawn the same conclusion by themselves,” Levi pointed out, one fine inky black eyebrow arched ever so slightly. The man was a living, breathing pure work of art and he didn’t even know it. Eren didn’t realize he’d been gawking at the captain like a lovestruck teenager until he heard a throat being cleared. Whipping his head back around to regard Erwin, he smiled apologetically.

“Please, just Erwin is fine,” said the blond man before shooting Levi another mirthful look.

Not returning his amusement, Levi then drawled, “Erwin, he knows about our surnames. I told him. He knows I’m an Ackerman, as well as Mikasa. I don’t care, I don’t regret it.”

“Ah, I see,” murmured Erwin quietly, though he didn’t seem particularly upset, just thoughtful. “Do you remember anything, Eren?”

“If you’re asking me if I remember anything from a past life, which I still find hard to believe, then the answer is no,” answered the viridian-eyed man, his arms now crossed over his chest as he shifted his weight to one leg. The only thing that kept him from walking out of this room and museum was the steel-eyed veteran. Levi had asked him if he trusted him, had asked him if he trusted his judgement. He wanted Eren to follow his lead, and to do that, he knew that started and ended with trust. Though some things, well, many things, didn’t make sense right now, what made sense to the younger man was the unshakeable trust that he held for the captain. It made sense and that was what he would cling to, to keep himself grounded.

After Eren had spoken, everyone in the chamber had lapsed into an uncomfortable, tense silence. Subtly surveying the room, his vibrant teal eyes noticed that each person seemed particularly pained or troubled as if this personally affected them somehow. But why would it? A small part of him, the part of himself that he tended to ignore, thought that perhaps they were right. Perhaps they weren’t the crazy ones here. Perhaps it was just him. After all, Eren was the one hearing and seeing things that weren’t there. Maybe…

No. No, it just wasn’t humanely possible. It couldn’t be. How could it? It was so farfetched to think that he could be descended from the arguably worst person in history. Whether by blood relation, or by the even more ridiculous notion of reincarnation, it just…no, just no. Even though everyone else in the room looked at him like he was The Eren Jäger, the Great Liberator of Paradis, there was just so way it was true. Maybe they were all the reincarnations of past great Eldians. Eldians that had fought hard and died at a young age or later in old age. He could at least acknowledge that may be true, but him? Not Eren. He wasn’t some heartless bastard bent on unfathomable destruction.  

What bothered Eren the most wasn’t the fact that they seemed to believe that he was the reincarnation of The Liberator, it was the fact that they looked at him with respect and even love. How could they? Who would respect such a genocidal maniac? But then he remembered on the first day they’d met, Levi had even heavily hinted that like Eren's Jägerist parents, he respected Eren Jäger, as well. Although his face had been so guarded, the younger male had thought he'd glimpsed traces of what looked like pain, or something resembling it, on the older man’s scarred face.

Turning around to face the crystallized titan, he stared up at the gigantic thing that seemed to emit an ethereal glow in the dimly lit chamber. It was terrifying to look at, yet mesmerizing at the same time. A horrible, beautiful thing that had somehow remained behind while everything titan-related had vanished without a trace. The only thing that had remained was this thing left behind by The Liberator and the various accounts of people affected by the blood-stained history of The Liberator and the titans.

As if gaining focus and courage, the smallest of the blond men decided to break the silence. As soft as his voice was, it somehow cut sharply through the gigantic chamber, even causing Eren to turn his head to stare over his shoulder at him.

"Mikasa, as I stated earlier, I am the one to blame," spoke Armin, his gentle voice reflecting his guilt. Sorrowful pale cerulean eyes kept themselves trained on the raven-haired bodyguard. "When Levi and Hanji found Eren, we had a meeting on what steps to take next. During that meeting, I was the one who brought up that it was wiser to wait to tell you about Eren."

"But why?" Asked Mikasa, her soft voice sounding incredibly small and betrayed. Despite the recent incident, Eren felt his heartstrings being tugged a bit. He wanted to dislike her, to feel nothing but contempt for this young woman, but there was something stopping him from not giving a fuck. Something else, something else he couldn’t quite place had also wedged its foot in the proverbial door, preventing him from becoming a cold bastard towards her. Whether it was Levi, or his own conscience, or maybe both, he didn’t rightly know.

Erwin came to stand beside Armin as if to help shoulder the heavy burden. The taller man then placed a large hand on the smaller blond's shoulder for encouragement and support.

Taking a deep breath as if to ground himself, Armin continued, "I knew how much you cared about Eren and how...determined you were to find him. I also knew that there's a lot at stake and that we couldn't afford to have you distracted right now. We needed, still need, I will add, you to protect Erwin at all costs. Especially after…” The blond paused for a moment, his face appearing distraught as if he were recalling something upsetting. “What happened to him months ago. He almost died, Mikasa. The only reason he’s been safe these past couple of months is because of you. I knew…that if you found out about Eren, you would..."

Erwin squeezed Armin's shoulder, which seemed to give the shorter man some much needed strength.

"This was my idea, Mikasa, and I didn't make it lightly. You're not the only one that cares about Eren. As soon as it was confirmed that we'd actually located Eren finally...I wanted to run to him, too. It was...really hard not to. He was, and still is, my best friend," spoke Armin, his sky blue eyes trailing away from Mikasa for a moment to gaze at Eren meaningfully. The stare, which appeared to be brimming full of barely restrained emotion, caused the green-eyed man to look away and reposition himself until he was standing beside Levi again.

"So, just like that, you all decided to keep me in the dark?" Inquired Mikasa, sounding hurt by the cold, hard facts of the matter.

Squeezing Armin's shoulder one last time, Erwin broke his silence. "No, this was a decision we all made together and it wasn't made lightly. Levi was the only one who opposed it, actually. He was rather adamant that you be told and argued with us about it. In fact, the moment we confirmed it was Eren, he wanted to tell you right away, but I forbade him. Armin was the mastermind behind this decision, but it was I who authorized it and it was I who ordered Levi to omit the truth from you. If you are angry, it is me that you should direct your anger at, Mikasa."

Glancing at Levi, Eren noticed just how defeated and worn out the man looked right now. The long-haired man's heart clenched in his chest once he noticed just how unbearably anguished and alone the older man appeared as he stood there in silence. It reminded Eren personally of all the times he'd felt like utter shit until Levi had comforted him with words and soothing touches.

It was Eren's turn to be the rock now, so he decided to inch closer until there was barely space between them. Moving his right arm, he touched the small of Levi's back lightly and paused when he felt the man flinch from the unexpected touch. Once the captain realized just who was touching him, he relaxed slightly but did not look at the green-eyed soldier. Taking this as permission, Eren began trailing his fingers comfortingly up and down the other man's back under his jacket, doing his best to replicate the type of touches Levi had done to Eren to help calm his nerves.

If anyone noticed what Eren was doing, nobody said a word. Most likely it was because of the angle and their positions on the room and the fact that everyone was mostly focused on Erwin, Armin, and Mikasa at the moment.

Closing her dark eyes for a moment, Mikasa's body shuddered as she breathed in and out shakily in an effort to calm herself down. Everyone wisely gave her space by keeping their distance.  Whether it was because they feared getting hit, too, or was because they respected her, Eren didn't know. If he had to bet on it, he'd say it was honestly probably a mix of both.

Several minutes had passed in silence, nobody daring to breathe a word as the female Ackerman calmed down and seemed to be lost in her head. During that time, Eren had spent it using his hand to caress the slowly relaxing back of the older man. It wasn't long until Levi's left hand reached behind him to pull Eren's hand out from under his leather jacket. Locking their fingers together, the steel-eyed man squeezed the other man's hand to silently show his own appreciation and support. Though he kept his sharp eyes trained on Mikasa, Levi was obviously very aware of the younger man's presence.

Lifting her sullen gaze from the ground, Mikasa's eyes then zeroed in on Levi and Eren. Her eyes narrowed a bit when she noticed their close proximity, but she didn't bother to question it for some reason. Perhaps if she could see them holding hands behind Levi's back, she might have demanded some answers. Eren didn't know her or why she would even care about whatever the nature of their relationship was, but so far, he had grasped that she cared about him for whatever personal reasons.

"Levi, can I talk to you for a moment? Privately?" Quietly inquired Mikasa. Although she no longer glared at her step-brother, Eren's body still stiffened at hearing the request.

Squeezing Eren's hand one last time, the raven-haired man then released it, fingers trailing lightly over Eren's arm in a fleeting caress. He'd obviously noticed the younger soldier's reaction since he'd turned to Eren and quietly said, "Calm down, brat. We're just going to talk. She's not going to hit me again, I swear."

"But—" Eren started to protest before a hand reached up to ruffle his hair. The elegant, yet strong hand then stilled on top of his head. All other times he would have been annoyed or flustered by such an action, but now he just seemed to derive some sort of small comfort from it.

Applying a bit of pressure to his head, Levi then ordered, "Stay here and behave, you shitty brat."

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Standing there staring at the double doors to The Liberator’s exhibit, Eren didn’t care if he resembled a dog by staring at the door as if anticipating his master’s return. He nearly jumped when he felt a small hand touch his arm gently. Turning his head to find out who the culprit was, the green-eyed man was met with a familiar pretty face that smiled warmly up at him.

Petra.

“How are you holding up?” Asked the brown-eyed woman, her hand still gently draped over his arm.

“Fine…” Sighed the brunet though he did feel a small amount of comfort from her touch and concern. Glancing around the room, he spotted Erwin and though the tall blond man was quietly conversing with Armin, he was still covertly keeping an eye in their direction.

Wanting to distract himself from his own maddening thoughts, Eren then asked, “Is that man your husband? I remember you mentioned a husband before. You never told me his name.”

Petra smiled brightly and it almost made the brown-haired man smile in return. “Yes, Erwin Smith is my husband. He’s a good man, Eren. Your Levi trusts and respects him, just so you know.”

Your Levi.

“That obvious, yeah?” Eren mumbled as he looked away, his cheeks lightly dusted with pink.

“Mhm, but it’s cute and not everyone has noticed yet, by the way. I’ve never seen Levi so happy before. He actually smiles now, and I know it’s because of you, you big cutie,” gushed the blond woman as she reached up to gently pinch Eren’s cheek in a teasing manner.

Gingerly pushing her hand away from his face, the caribbean-eyed soldier coughed. “I’m not cute.”

“Oh, yes you are! We should ask Levi when he comes back. I bet he’ll agree with me,” giggled Petra.

Eren groaned, “Ugh, no. You better not. I mean it, Petra. Don’t.”

The blond woman pouted as she reluctantly caved in. “Fine, I won’t.”

“But I will!” Exclaimed Hanji, who had somehow edged closer to them without them noticing. Glancing at the bespectacled woman, Eren noticed she seemed far more subdued than was normal for the deviant of a psychiatrist.  

Eyeing Hanji warily, the green-eyed male said, “Go ahead. He already wants to kill you.”

Pffbt. When doesn’t he want to kill me?” Sighed Hanji almost happily, her eyes sparkling as if she were recalling bittersweet memories. Snapping out of it, the doctor focused her attention back on Eren. “How are you feeling, though? I mean, it’s not every day we get to see someone punch Levi. That’s a mere pipe dream for most of us. I almost envy Mikasa. Almost.”

Although he felt slightly annoyed by Hanji’s ramblings, the long-haired soldier sighed. “Why almost?”

“I don’t know how far your, ahem, relationship, has progressed, but whatever you do, don’t flaunt it in front of Mikasa,” advised Hanji, the previous glee from earlier now suddenly absent as she carefully regarded the brown-haired man. It was both amazing and disorientating how quickly she could switch from insane to rational in a matter of mere seconds.

Before Eren could question her about her cryptic advice, the large double doors opened to reveal a set of calm-looking, raven-haired siblings. Viridian eyes zeroing in on Levi, quickly sweeping over his form, Eren was relieved to discover that the man didn’t seem to sport any new injuries and appeared less stressed than before. Obviously, whatever they’d discussed in private had done them both some good, judging from their body language alone. Eren just hoped Mikasa had actually apologized for her unnecessary bout of violence.

Shooting Hanji an annoyed glare, Levi had walked over to Eren and the two women while Mikasa walked past them back to where Erwin stood. As she passed, the dark-haired woman glanced at Eren with such a wretched, regretful expression as if she believed that she'd ruined everything somehow.

“Levi, Hanji, Mike, and Armin, with me now. There are some matters we must discuss now that cannot wait. The rest of you can wait in the lounge until we return,” commanded Erwin before he strode out of the room, sparing both Eren and Petra a glance before he left, Armin and Mike close on his heels.

The last one to follow, Levi leaned in close to Eren and said, “Be nice to Mikasa, brat.”

“I am being nice,” stubbornly said the younger man, his arms crossed.

One of the older man’s eyebrows twitched, ever so slightly, at that. “No, what I mean is talk to her. Get to know her. Don’t be a brat.”

“Kind of hard considering you call me a brat all of the time, old man,” snorted Eren, barely holding back a little smirk. He knew without a doubt that Levi was sensitive about his age and didn’t like to be reminded that he was more than a decade older than Eren.

“And every time, you prove it to be true, hm?” Replied Levi as he reached up and flicked the younger soldier’s forehead like someone would to a bug. “Just talk to her and be kind. Do it for me.”

“Fine, fine, but you owe me,” caved the younger male as he resisted the urge to pull the taller man close to him.

Although the captain didn’t respond with words, the smoldering look he’d tossed Eren’s way before he strode out, seemed to convey the silent promise that he’d have the other man on his back soon enough.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Trailing aimlessly around the visitor’s lounge, Eren surreptitiously observed the inhabitants of the room. The two men, who he’d recently learned were squad mates of Petra’s called Eld and Gunther, were busy sitting at a table playing cards with Armin and Petra. He could tell that even though they were partaking in a game, both men were diligently aware of their surroundings. As for Mikasa, the silent woman was leaning against the wall near a window while she stared outside. Keeping her dark gaze to the window, he could tell that she was purposely avoiding looking at him, though she did sneak furtive glances Eren’s way when she believed he wasn’t looking.

Remembering his deal with Levi, Eren reluctantly made his way over to the raven-haired woman. Flanking the other side of the window, he pretended not to notice her dark eyes on him as he crossed his arms and gazed outside. “I’m sorry if I threatened to kill you. I was just angry.”

“I know,” quietly said Mikasa before she averted her eyes and slid right back into silence.

Hm, so he’d have to work harder at this considering she didn’t seem to be a big talker. Sighing, he tore his gaze away from the birds hopping around outside to look at Mikasa. “He talks about you, you know. For whatever it’s worth, that man cares about you a lot. He even carries a picture of you in his wallet.”

Looking back at Eren, Mikasa’s charcoal grey eyes were wide with surprise. “He does? What picture?”

“One of when you were a little kid snuggled against him on a couch, I think. You were both sleeping in it, and he was still in his military fatigues. It was…touching, actually. I can see why he likes that picture so much. It's cute as hell,” revealed Eren with a small, barely there smile.

Mikasa ducked her head in an attempt to hide an embarrassed blush. “Oh…”

Staring at the reserved woman then, Eren couldn’t help thinking to himself that she was actually very beautiful. Had he not been involved with Levi already; he might have been tempted to get to know her in a more intimate manner. The older man had been right when he’d stated that he and his sister were alike in many ways. Eren could spot some of the similarities already and it made him wonder if perhaps like Mikasa’s mother, Eren himself seemed to have a thing for Ackermans.

“I’ve been wanting to meet you for a while now…though not in the manner that we met,” confessed Eren quietly as he fiddled with the zipper of his jacket. “Levi had promised me soon.”

Mikasa seemed surprised by that as she stared at the tanned-skinned man. “Oh…I see.”

“Mhm,” hummed Eren.

Looking back out the window, Mikasa’s gaze appeared faraway as if she were drowning in memory. “He’s always taken care of me. Everything I know, he taught me. Levi taught me how to fight, how to be strong. When he left, I mistakenly felt like he was punishing me for something I had done. I took it personally…and didn’t understand until years later, that everything he did, was always for us.”

“He’s a selfless person,” agreed Eren as he remembered all the things the man had done for him, and for his own friends. Thinking about it always made his chest swell to the point that it nearly hurt.

Mikasa nodded slowly. “He’s always been that way; I know that now. Even in the very beginning, when he didn’t have to be, he was. It took me a long time to see him for who he really was. But to be perfectly honest, he’s not the most direct person when it comes to personal feelings.”

“Neither are you, it seems,” pointed out the long-haired soldier, smiling slightly.

Rather than outright deny it, Mikasa conceded, “True.”

They talked for a few minutes more, about how Mikasa was a bodyguard to the presidential candidate Erwin and how Armin was Erwin’s advisor. Although she admitted that her job was boring most of the time, she still found it fulfilling, nonetheless. Considering how Levi, and most likely Mikasa, too, had a protective nature about them, it wasn’t all that surprising to learn.

Feeling the urge to urinate, Eren quietly excused himself to leave the room in search of the nearest bathroom. Finding it, he entered and did his business as quickly as he could, though he still took great care to thoroughly wash his hands. After he had exited the bathroom, he turned to head back to the lounge and on the way, he caught the sound of familiar voices, some of them raised in pitch. Stopping in his tracks, Eren stood by a closed door to what was most likely a meeting room, possibly a break room, or study. The long-haired man knew he shouldn’t eavesdrop, he should just go already, but then he heard his name being mentioned and found that his shoes seemed to be nailed to the ground.

“…hope you’re happy now, shit brows. He’s even more confused now than he was before.” Hissed Levi.

Erwin apologized, “And I am sorry about that, but we cannot wait any longer, Levi.”

“He doesn’t remember that he’s Eren Jäger…or anything that happened in our previous lives, Erwin. To be perfectly fucking honest, I hope that he never remembers. It was hell for me to remember and I wish I didn’t, but I do. I can only imagine how shitty it will be for him if he ever remembers…”

Ah, so his suspicions about them believing him to be the reincarnation of The Liberator had been, unfortunately, correct. If it was actually true, then he was with Levi on hoping that he never remembered any of it. If…he had been Eren Jäger in a past life, did that mean he would turn into a monster if he remembered everything? Ymir, he hoped not. Eren desperately hoped that none of this was true…

“Be that as it may, the time has come. The JLA is planning something big and will enact it sooner rather than later. We need to act soon,” urged Erwin.

Eren raised an eyebrow. The JLA? Was that in reference to the terrorist group called the Jägerist Liberation Army? He’d heard some nasty rumors about that group over the years. There was even a rumor that the JLA had been responsible for the bomb that had nearly killed Eren nearly eight months ago, now.

“Tell me, Erwin, what do you expect him to do?”

“What he has always done, Levi.”

A brief silence.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” mumbled Levi so quietly that Eren nearly missed it.

“It cannot be helped.”

“Tch. Fuck that. Eren has a choice, and whatever he chooses, we will all respect it. Including you, Eyebrows. He doesn’t deserve more of this shit. That brat has suffered enough for a thousand lifetimes already.”

“Do you not trust me, Levi?”

Another brief silence.

“I trust you with my life, Erwin. Always have,” affirmed Levi, his firm tone seeming to back his own words.

Erwin pressed, “Then what is it?”

“I don’t trust you with Eren’s life.”

“I see,” said Erwin and something about his tone indicated that he wasn’t at all surprised. “Is there something you wish to tell me, Levi?”

An even longer silence passed. It was so long that Eren was about to head back to the lounge when he heard the captain finally break the silence. Why the younger man’s heart was beating so fast right now, he couldn’t fathom. He’d been far calmer when he’d confessed their relationship to his friends, but then again, the answer hadn’t relied on Levi answering. Would the older man admit it, or would he keep it a secret?

“I am…involved with him,” confessed Levi before he gruffly asked, “Happy now?”

“Actually, yes—" Began Erwin before a loud screech interrupted him, effectively silencing him temporarily.

“—I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT! OHO, EREN, YOU TENACIOUS, WILY BOY, YOU!” Screeched Hanji like a happy banshee.

“Shut the fuck up, shitty glasses! You wonder why I don’t tell you shit. This is why,” complained Levi crossly.

“Oho, Levi, I have sooo many questions to ask you! Who initiated the relationship? It was Eren, wasn’t it? Oho, I just know it! I bet as soon as he grabbed your ass you pounced on him like a starving mutt on meat! Is the sex good? You guys are having sex, right? Is that why he hasn’t shown up to his appointments with me? Are you having safe sex? Does he—”

Losing his patience, Erwin was the first one to put a stop to the excitable woman. “—Hanji, enough.”

“Hm, now we know why the kid reacted that way to Mikasa punching you,” spoke Mike with a small laugh, sounding impressed.

Armin then reluctantly asked, “Does…Mikasa know?”

“I wouldn’t be alive right now if she did,” admitted Levi. “Erwin, I suppose this changes things.”

What? Why would Mikasa care? Eren felt confused until he remembered the way she’d attacked Levi, and the way she looked at Eren like some shy virgin with a crush. Did she…like him? Why and how?

”This changes nothing, Levi. Eren will still be under your command,” answered Erwin.

Levi protested, “That’s a power imbalance, Erwin, and you know it.”

“Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even entertain the thought. However, with that being said, these are not normal circumstances. There is no one better suited for this task than you, Levi. I know you will not let me nor Eren down. You can do this; I know you can.”

“If that’s true, then why do you have men stationed outside my house?” Drawled the captain.

Eren’s eyes widened in realization as he recalled that night Levi had stared out into the night as if he’d seen something. The green-eyed soldier had looked and seen nothing out of the ordinary that night and every other night since then.

“Ah, so you noticed…”

“Of course I did. Why the extra muscle? Think I can’t protect Eren?”

“Even you need to sleep, Levi. Just think of it as…backup, just in case.”

Levi snorted. “Tch. You could have just told me, shit brows. Two separate cars are overkill, even for you.”

“Two cars? Hm…I only ordered one car to guard your house. How long has there been two?”

“Since I brought Eren to my house. See, this is why you should tell me this shit right away,” griped an annoyed sounding Levi.

Two cars? Just thinking about there being two separate cars made Eren feel beyond uneasy. If one was guarding them, then what was the other one doing? Staking them out? For what purpose? Why?

A snort in the hallway jerked the viridian-eyed man out of his anxious thoughts. Looking up, he spotted a very tall, slim man leaning against the wall barely ten feet away from him. Dressed all in black, wearing a wide-brimmed fedora and a trench coat, the man flicked a cigarette to the ground before stepping on it. Looking at Eren now, the man used his fingers to tilt his hat up a bit as if to get a better look at him. Pushing off from the wall, the man, who looked to be in his forties or fifties, began to saunter over to Eren as if they were longtime friends.

“Shit, kid, it’s been ages! My, how you’ve grown from a little runt to a man…” Barked the man gleefully, his wicked smile revealing most of his teeth. Cruel, gunmetal colored eyes watched Eren closely like a predator would its prey. The more the younger man stared at those eyes, the more familiar those eyes appeared to him. But why? Wait…something about them…reminded him of Levi, strangely enough. Only colder, older, and far more vicious.

They reminded Eren of the black, soulless looking eyes of a great white shark.

Instinctively, the jade-eyed solider backed away from the strange man, wanting to put more distance between them. Suddenly wishing he was armed, Eren growled, “Who the fuck are you?”

The older man leered at him as he followed after the shorter male. For every step Eren took, the man seemed to take two more. “I’m hurt ya don’t remember me, kid! After all the good times we’ve had together. Such a shame. You just done gone and hurt my little feelings, kid. What’s a fella to do now?”

“I’d suggest fuck off, but it doesn’t seem like that’s your intention,” snarled Eren as he continued to cautiously back away. He wasn’t an idiot; he could tell that the man was armed to the teeth. He could call out for assistance but didn’t want to dare endanger anyone else here. Hearing the sudden, loud scraping of chairs dragging back against the floor, Eren knew then that they’d been discovered. It wasn’t exactly surprising considering this old man was loud as fuck when he talked.

The man dressed in black smirked as he pulled out a powerful looking handgun. Tapping the barrel against the brim of his hat, he commented, “Smart kid…”

All of a sudden, the door ripped open, and with that distraction, the man in black used it to his advantage. Faster than he looked, the man had lunged at Eren like a stalking wild cat leaping in for the kill. Behind Eren now, the man roughly pressed the barrel of his gun at the younger man’s temple while the other hand fiddled with something. Before the cyan-eyed man knew what was happening, a cloth doused in chloroform was shoved hard against his nose and mouth. Not giving a shit about the gun pressed against him, Eren struggled violently to free himself from this sadistic man’s hold. He did his best not to breathe in what was in the rag, but that was easier said than done while in the middle of battling to free yourself from your assaulter.

Ooo, gotta admit, I always loved it best when they fought back! You got a lot of fight in ya kid, gotta hand it to ya, ya little devil!” Guffawed the man as he tightened his hold over the shorter man’s face, so hard there would be noticeable, ugly bruises later.

Hearing a commotion in the hallway, Eren looked just in time to see Levi’s alarmed face, eyes wide and lips parted in shock, before he passed out cold in his abductor’s long arms.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Chapter Text

"Sasha...is there something wrong? You've been acting odd," Asked Eren worriedly. He'd been meaning to pull his female best friend aside for a while now. Since everyone was busy yammering in the living room, he'd found the opportunity to talk to her.

Sasha looked at the long-haired man then and smiled sadly, her beautiful, warm brown eyes shining with unshed tears. The only time he'd ever seen her look anything like this was the time she'd dropped her steaming hot potato in the sand at the beach a few summers ago.

"I just missed you," whispered Sasha as she moved closer to him. Twining her arms around him, she rested her head on his shoulder. Arms tightening, she added, "We all did."

Frowning in confusion, Eren loosely wrapped an arm around her waist. "It's only been like a week or so, though."

"No, I mean before that," his best friend clarified, her eyes now closed.

The green-eyed soldier then realized that she'd been referring to his half a year absence from her life. "Oh...well, six months isn't that long. I'm back now and yeah, I missed you, too. But...why are you acting so strange now?"

"It's been years, Eren. We all were worried about you. I missed you, we all missed you, including Captain Levi. I didn't even get...the chance to tell you," whispered Sasha woefully.

Eyebrows knitting together, Eren didn't get much of a chance to question her odd statements, let alone think about it, when another pair of arms snagged him from the other side. Turning his head, he looked down at Connie and raised an eyebrow.

"Hey, don't hog him now, Sash!" Laughed Connie, his mirth not quite meeting his amber eyes.

"Hey, is it Hug-Eren-To-Death time now? I'm in!" Announced Reiner as he moved in behind Eren before wrapping his buff arms around all three of them.

Ymir was the next to join the embrace as she used her elbow to shove the blond man aside just enough so that she could hug Eren from behind. "Don't hog him, dumb ass."

"Hey! Hands above the waist, Reiner!" Hissed Eren once he felt a hand roughly grope his ass.

"That wasn't me," snorted Reiner in amusement.

"That...was all me, baby. Damn, now I know what Levi sees in you," snickered Ymir, her hand sliding away from his posterior.

It was Marco’s turn to join in on the hug by embracing Eren from the front, in-between Sasha and Connie. “Oh, Ymir, I’m sure he sees more than that.”

Historia padded around the group to squeeze herself in between Sasha, Marco, and Connie to plaster herself against Eren like an affectionate cat. "We should do this more often, guys."

Eren then felt his other ass cheek being squeezed, which caused him to wriggle a bit in an effort to dislodge the offending hand. Considering he was in the gangbang version of a hug, he couldn’t move all that much. "Really, Ymir, again?"

"Sorry, that was actually me this time," admitted Reiner with a half smirk while sounding about as apologetic as a serial killer. As if suddenly realizing what he’d just done, the big blond then quickly whispered, “Don’t tell Levi, ok?”

“If you do it again, then I will tell him,” vowed Eren in his best low, ominous sounding voice.

Reiner smirked. “Deal.”

"Okay, you damn perverts, make room before captain Levi kills us," griped Jean as if he didn't want to actually join the group hug. Once Reiner and Ymir had moved a bit, the tallest of the group squeezed himself in to join the embrace from the back.

"Another hug, Jean? Did you suffer brain damage while I was gone?" Teased the viridian-eyed man while he wore a shit eating smirk. Remembering the hug when Jean had discovered him at the fitness center, Eren still felt stunned by it.

"Shut the hell up, Eren, and just take it like the little bitch you are," snapped Jean though there was no actual heat behind his words.

For the first time since probably ever, Eren actually listened to Jean. Closing his eyes, he settled for just enjoying this warm, yet strange moment. Considering several months ago he'd nearly died for these guys, he knew time was a precious, fleeting bitch of a thing. Who knew when, or if, he would ever enjoy such a moment again...

…so why did something feel off?

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Much like the sensation of being underwater, everything was muffled, and he felt like he couldn't breathe. It felt like he was falling asleep underwater as he sank deeper into the dark depths, but it didn't hurt. Before he could sink too deep, a strong hand had reached down and had snagged him by his wrist. With a strong yank, his body was propelling through the water like a missile until it broke the surface and bright light blinded him...

"Brat," murmured a familiar voice. Surrounded by warmth while fingers slowly combed through his hair, Eren blinked open his eyes in confusion. Naked with a sheet draped over his lower half, Eren realized he was lying half on top of a very naked Levi in a bed.

He had just been with his friends then suddenly, he had been drowning and then...then he found himself here with Levi, his body feeling sore but incredibly relaxed and blissed out at the same time. Had he fallen asleep and dreamed about his friends and the water? It didn't seem so and yet...he'd still woken up here.

"Levi...how did I get here?" Asked Eren, his voice hoarse from screaming. He stared curiously at the older man's relaxed face, eyes closed and appearing to be asleep. The only thing that indicated he was even awake was the hand stroking Eren's tousled hair.

The hand playing idly in his hair froze, but only momentarily before it resumed again. Gunmetal eyes opened to peer curiously at the younger man. "Don't tell me that I fucked you so hard you lost your memory?"

"Humor me," drawled Eren after he'd rolled his eyes. Carefully turning his head, he gently rested his chin on the older man’s chest in an effort not to stab him with it.

Levi untangled his fingers from the other man's long locks to flick him on the nose. "Well...I fucked you on the couch. We took a shower, you were a little shit, as always, and started shit in the shower. We went to bed, but your bratty ass woke me up by riding my dick. Does none of that ring a bell?"

"I remember..." Murmured Eren distractedly. He did remember all that, but that stuff seemed to have happened a long time ago, for some reason. It had happened before that group hug, and before he had been drowning. Maybe...maybe it had all been just some lucid dream that was having him feel all out of sorts. It wouldn't be the first time he'd woken up feeling disorientated.

But somehow, this felt strangely different. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off here.

"Can I go back to sleep, you horny little shit?" Questioned Levi, his voice faintly reflecting his amusement. He wasn't annoyed in the slightest even despite the simmering glare that he tossed Eren's way. The veteran had learned pretty quickly that glaring at the younger man was like an aphrodisiac for Eren. Something about Levi looking angry, especially in an animalistic way, was both arousing and breathtaking for him. Despite that, the long-haired man didn’t actually try to piss off his lover or anything like that. If anything, Levi used it to his advantage to shoot Eren glares here and there to tease him when they were somewhere or doing something that prevented any intimacy.

"Keep looking at me like that and neither of us will sleep at all," teased the green-eyed man, smirking a little. Although he couldn't put a finger on the feeling he was experiencing, a large part of him desperately wanted to cling to Levi and his warmth.

Closing his eyes, Levi merely hummed his reply.

Slowly rolling onto his side, he buried half his face in the taller man’s chest while he draped a leg over both of Levi’s legs. The hand that attempted to weave itself back in his hair was caught and kissed by Eren’s swollen lips. Laying the hand down on the other man’s chest, he ran his own fingers over the length of the hand, paying special attention to the two robotic digits. Curious and hoping it didn’t come off as insensitive, the shorter male asked, “Can you feel anything in those two digits?”

Cracking an eye open, the captain peered at him as if he were a menace to society. Despite this, he sighed quietly before he answered, “Yes and no. It’s sort of like having a tooth implant, but more complicated. You can feel it there, but it doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t feel good, either. It’s just there. There’s a sensation that lets me know I’m touching things, and what not to touch. It’s…difficult to explain.”

“You have teeth implants?”

“I lost a few during the bombing, yeah. That bother you?” Asked the older man slowly as if hesitant to know the answer. That wasn’t surprising considering Eren knew despite not being told, that Levi was insecure about his disfigurements even though they didn't lessen his attractiveness. At least, not for Eren. 

Pulling Levi’s hand to his face, he nuzzled it, not feeling the least bit bothered that he felt both metal and flesh. He’d felt that hand on his body many times and had never felt repulsed by it. The hand curled to stroke his face softly before fingertips paused on puffy lips. “Nope. Just makes you more of a really hot bad ass in my book.”

Levi’s throaty bark of a laugh had Eren grinning into the smooth, warm flesh of his chest. Raising his head and angling it so that he could stare at the raven-haired man, his eyes trailed over that beautiful face to pause on the long, noticeable scar and the discolored, though still silvery eye. He’d meant it, Levi did look like an absolute, hot bad ass from his scars to his resting bitch face, and to the manner that he presented himself. Scars or not, tall or short, everything about this man made Eren melt from the inside out.

Studying the scar, it reminded him of something that he’d noticed some time ago. Something that had been bothering him for some time now. Something that he’d been hesitant to voice before. “I think… there’s something wrong with me, Levi.”

Sitting up slowly, Levi was careful not to knock the younger man over in the process. Taking him gingerly by the face, he searched said face before he asked worriedly, “What’s wrong? Are you sick? Did I hurt you?”

“No, not sick or hurt. Just…my leg. The scar is barely there now, and the skin is smooth. It doesn’t look like I lost a chunk of my leg anymore and doesn’t feel that way, either. I’m not a doctor, but even I know…that’s not normal,” explained the viridian-eyed man quietly after he’d risen to a sitting position.

Pulling Eren’s naked legs apart, the captain tugged him closer so that Eren was seated in his lap with those long, bronze limbs flanking Levi’s lean hips. Running his hands over both legs, his gunmetal colored orbs stared down at the slightly discolored skin of the left thigh. Trailing the fingertips of his right hand over that thigh, his face was an impassive mask. Raising his eyes to meet Eren’s concerned jade eyes, the older man admitted, “I noticed.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“What is there to say?” Questioned Levi, his hands stroking up and down smooth, hairless tan thighs. “As long as you’re not in any pain, I don’t see the point.”

“This…I’m a freak, Levi. This isn’t normal. Something is wrong with me,” muttered Eren, his voice just shy of a whimper as he averted his eyes in shame.

Hands ceasing in their caressing, Levi then snagged the younger man by the chin and forced him to meet his steel gaze, eyes now hardened. “Listen to me, if you say shit like that again, I will dropkick your face. You. Are. Not. A. Freak. You understand me? Say it.”

“I…I am not a freak,” whispered Eren almost reluctantly.

Louder.”

Raising his voice, the younger soldier repeated, “I am not a freak!”

“Good boy,” praised the raven-haired veteran as he released the other man from his vice-like grip. Hands dragged down over Eren’s chest before dipping down over quivering abdominals to slither back to the younger man’s strong thighs. When liquid silver eyes locked with bright green, Levi questioned, “Do you think I would ever fuck a freak, Eren?”

“N-no,” stammered Eren, the intensity of the older man’s gaze making him squirm along with being hyperaware that they were both still very naked and touching, He was no virgin, but there were times when the taller man made him feel like one.

Leaning close, his lips nearly touching Eren’s ear, hot breath rolled against the younger male’s neck, making him shudder. “You want to know what a freak is? Those…cousins of yours, are fucking freaks. I see the way those shit stains look at you, and I don’t fucking like it.”

Eren knew Floch was bizarre, and had looked at him in weird ways, but Zeke? He’d never noticed anything off about him except for him trying to fuss over Eren like some domineering mother. Then again, both of his cousins had kept him on house arrest, isolated from his friends and the rest of the world. That type of controlling behavior wasn’t normal and made him wonder if perhaps there was some truth to Levi’s words.  Genuinely curious, he couldn’t stop himself from asking, “How do they look at me?”

“Like they want to devour you, brat. I can’t fault any man for wanting to have you, but a blood related man? Yeah, that’s sick as fuck,” replied the black-haired soldier with a sneer. It was well-known to Eren that this man couldn’t stand Floch and Zeke, though for some reason Levi seemed to hate Zeke the most our of the two.

Not knowing how to respond to that, Eren merely leaned close and buried his neck in the crook of Levi’s neck. Like the older man, the idea of his own blood-related relatives lusting after him was gross as hell. It was hard to stomach, but he knew that Levi was probably right about this. Especially considering that asshole Floch had assaulted him and probably would have done more had Eren not defended himself. In his weakened, malnourished state, it was a miracle he’d been able to fend off Floch at all. As for Zeke, well, that was news to him. It made him uncomfortable to think about and really, this wasn’t shit that he wanted to talk about, let alone think on when he was sitting naked skin to skin in his lover’s lap.

“All right, so…if I’m not a freak, then what am I?” Posed the younger man while he trailed fingers apologetically over the scratches marring the other man’s pale back. Despite Levi claiming that he didn’t mind Eren using his back as a personal scratching post, he still couldn’t help feeling guilty about it.

“You’re special, Eren. Different, one of a kind. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“I know, but…what am I? Should I tell Hanji? I know she’s a doctor, so maybe—"

“—no. Don’t tell shitty glasses anything. Keep this between us. Don’t even tell your friends,” interjected Levi, his solemn grey eyes locking with Eren’s surprised green ones the moment the long-haired man had lifted his head to look at him.

“Why?”

Yanking Eren closer so that they were now touching chest to chest, he mouthed at Eren’s ear. “Because they will want to take you away. Do things to you. Treat you like some shitty lab rat.” The captain then ran his hands up the younger man’s back before sliding around to cup him by the face with both hands. Slate colored depths swirled with various rampant emotions that this man only ever displayed for Eren to see. Among all the emotions, he could clearly see fear. Voice low and hard, Levi swore, “If they ever try to do that, I will kill them all, Eren, comrades or not. I swear to every shitty fucking god in the world, I will not lose you again.”

Lose him again? What did that mean? Deciding to shelve it for now, Eren focused on the most glaring aspect of Levi’s bold statement. “You’d kill Hanji?”

Levi sighed before resting his forehead against the younger male’s forehead while his thumbs caressed little circles into Eren’s cheeks. “It would never come to that. Shitty Glasses, as batshit crazy as she is, would never dare cross me. She knows better than that. She knows…what it would do to me to lose you.”

It would break Levi.

“You’re not going to lose me. Sorry, not sorry, but you’re stuck with me, old man,” assured Eren as he slid his hand over the older man’s undercut until sun kissed fingers tangled themselves in inky black strands. And he meant it. As suicidal as people branded him as, the green-eyed soldier didn’t actually want to die. It was just…his desire to preserve his own life and to preserve the lives of those he cared about sometimes conflicted with one another.

“I was afraid of that,” spoke the other man in his best deadpan voice, obviously in reference to the last part of Eren’s spoken statement.

"Don’t make me stab you," snorted Eren, still attempting to shake off his overwhelming feelings. Whenever Levi was protective over him, (or his friends) it made him feel an assortment of overwhelming emotions. Sure, his friends were protective of him, but the way the older man was protective was something else entirely. It wasn't unwelcome in the slightest, however Eren still wanted to prove himself to Levi that he wasn't some useless (male) damsel. He wanted Levi to be able to rely on him, too. As strong as the captain obviously was, Eren wanted to be strong for him and have his back, too.

Levi scoffed, "Mhm, brat. Do you even know how to use a knife?"

Eren raised an eyebrow. "Uh, yeah?"

"Where did you learn how to wield a knife?" Asked the older man with one thin eyebrow raised skeptically.

"In training, of course. You know, when you enter the army...they teach you stuff sometimes," sassed the brown-haired male.

Staring at Eren with that trademark indifferent expression of his, Levi suddenly laughed lowly. "Oh? Tch, brat, that's not how you use knives. I've seen what they teach you and it's child’s play at best."

"Oh, and you know better?" Snorted the green-eyed man as he rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, of course I do. Whatever they teach you is basic shit. Someone like you needs to know the advanced way of fighting," the older man pointed out as he smacked the side of one of Eren's bare butt cheeks. His eyes darted down to glance at the reddened handprint that appeared on bronze skin as if he were admiring his handiwork.

Hissing from the sting of the smack, which caused his mostly flaccid cock to twitch with renewed interest, Eren squirmed. "Oh yeah, tough guy?"

"Yeah. Tomorrow morning I'll instruct you," said Levi as his offending hand slowly massaged the inflamed skin he had just struck.

"No need. I know how to use a knife, sensei," rebuffed the younger man with a small shrug. For some reason, he just liked to purposely be difficult sometimes.

Narrowing his sharp eyes, the veteran stared at the younger man as if he was onto his game. Although Eren usually listened to him and did as he was told, there were times when he acted out to get a rise out of the captain. Leaning back against the headboard of the bed, the state-eyed man hooked both of his hands onto Eren's narrow hips. "How about a compromise, brat. Tomorrow morning, after your warmups, you prove to me that you know how to knife fight. Whoever draws first blood wins. If you manage to cut me, and when I say cut me, actually draw blood, then I'll concede your claim."

"And if I don't?" Asked Eren, his interest piqued.

"Then I get to demonstrate to you the proper way to wield a knife. Deal?" Clarified the taller male.

"Deal...as long as you don't cut my face."

Levi hummed in agreement, obviously having similar thoughts since he seemed to like the younger man's unmarred face. Although he wasn’t particularly vain, no more than most people, Eren knew some people thought his face was handsome and one of those people was Levi.

"So...this 'proper way’ of knife fighting. If it wasn't the military, then who taught you?" Questioned Eren curiously since he was always willing to learn more about the other man.

Though his face remained unreadable, there was the barest flicker of emotion in his eyes before it vanished just as quickly as it had appeared. Had Eren not been watching him closely then he would have surely missed it. "Some asshole..."

"Anyone I know?" Prompted the younger soldier, all semblance of teasing wisely dropped for now.

Levi suddenly looked like he hadn’t slept in years. "No. Don't ask to meet him because I have no intention of introducing you to that shitty scumbag. Trust me...you don't want to know him."

Knowing better than to push this complicated man, Eren accepted the explanation with a small nod.

"Ok, so tomorrow first thing, we're going to knife each other," Eren cemented out loud in an effort to divert the sullen man's attention away from whoever he was brooding over.

When the older man didn't respond, let alone blink, Eren began to feel concern bubbling up in him. That weird, unwelcome out of place feeling was back again, and this time, with a vengeance.  Feeling like he was suffocating, Eren breathlessly gasped. Starting in alarm at the motionless Levi, he felt dread prick at his entire body like countless needles. "Levi? Levi! What's wrong? Answer me! What's going on, Levi?!"

Grabbing the veteran by the shoulders, Eren shook him hard and though the older man's body moved from the frantic motions, his head remained still as he stared at Eren with cold, dead looking eyes. The eyes were so cruel and chilly looking that it didn't even look like Levi anymore.

"Wake up, kid," Levi suddenly said, his scratchy voice sounding incredibly muffled as if he were speaking underwater. "Time to get your ass up, kiddo, so wake the fuck up already!"

"Levi, what are you talking about? I am awake!" Breathlessly hissed Eren, who grit his teeth hard in an effort to steel himself. He was beginning to have a panic attack now as his heart hammered in his chest and his vision began to blur and blacken until—

SMACK

The force of the blow caused his head to snap sickeningly to the right. Eyes momentarily squeezing shut as a result of being struck hard, Eren was beyond shocked and not to mention, betrayed. Opening his eyes, he reared his head around to glare angrily at his assaulter.  Suddenly lurched into unfamiliar, candlelit surroundings, the long-haired soldier was speechless as he gasped for air. Lungs burning and heart speeding beyond what was normal, he fought to calm himself, but was unsuccessful.  Viridian eyes were widened to the size of soft balls while he gaped at the unexpected sight before him.

"...you..." Eren hissed before he launched himself forward and yet, it wasn’t the cold metal cuffs strapped to his wrists and ankles that had truly stopped him. A surge of electricity had briefly assaulted him the moment he’d moved, making him feel as if he’d been slammed into by a train. Head hanging as he struggled to breathe, the brown-haired man wasn’t sure if his heart was beating normally or not as his muscles spasmed from the recent electrocution. No stranger to pain, the young soldier then lifted his head up to glare at the man laughing mockingly at him.

Standing before him bearing a cocky smirk was a tall, older man leering at him with cold, dead eyes. "...me."

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Feeling like a dirty old ragdoll, Eren quickly scanned his unfamiliar surroundings. He noted that he was located on some dais of some sort, chains effectively keeping him spread-eagled. Attached to the chains were cords that led to a large machine of some sort. It didn’t take him long to deduce that this machine was what was most likely responsible for electrocuting him before. What he couldn’t figure out yet was whether it was triggered by him moving too much or controlled by a remote. If he had to bet on it, he’d say it was most likely both.

After looking away from the torture machine, Eren realized then that he was chained up in some large chamber, like at the museum, except this room seemed to be twice as gigantic, if not larger. It appeared to be some old, medieval looking church, going by the stained-glass windows and the images of religious symbols on tattered, dusty looking banners hanging on the walls and from the ceiling.  The entire ceiling and walls, from what he could see in the terrible lighting, seemed to be decorated with cracked, faded paintings of various kinds of religious imagery. Continuing to scan the chamber, he quickly realized that there were several masked and heavily armed men. From the looks of it, they were wearing some type of ODM gear for whatever reason, just like the asshole standing five feet away from him.

Speaking of said asshole, the lanky man appeared to be amused as he watched Eren intently.

"Nice place for a wedding, eh, kiddo?" Barked the man, his rusty voice seeming just as tickled as the rest of him. Why this was funny to the asshole, Eren couldn't even fathom.

"What..." Croaked Eren, his mouth and throat so parched it felt like there was sand lodged in his throat. He had a million questions zooming through his mind but couldn't focus on a particular one. Even though he was conscious now, his brain was still extremely muddled.

Lighting a cigarette, the older man regarded Eren's dazed state. "Had to use a special cocktail on ya, kiddo. The chloroform barely knocked you out. I couldn't have you waking up prematurely. I know the stuff I injected you with is...rough. Sorry about that."

The man didn't look nor sound the least bit apologetic.

Although the drug seemed to have left his system, more or less, he still felt the debilitating effects of the shit. If the chains hadn't been holding him up, he probably would have been sprawled out on the ground like a newborn deer from just how weakened he felt. Feeling anger seeping into his shaking being, Eren narrowed his eyes despite how his vision seemed to fade in and out intermittently. Fuck, what had this asshole given him?

"I heard you mumbling the name Levi," the taller man pointed out thoughtfully before inhaling another long drag of his cigarette.  Stepping closer, he didn't even flinch when Eren yanked hard against the chains in a futile attempt to lash out at him. Taking another puff of the cancer stick, he slowly blew the rancid smoke into the younger man's angry face and laughed. Flicking the cigarette away, he pulled out a knife and used the sharp tip to slowly lift up Eren's shirt until he'd raised it nearly to his chin. Whistling at the various bruises and love bites that littered that golden skin, the man jeered, "Looks like my little pride and joy takes after me more than I thought. Atta boy, Levi! He’s not completely hopeless, after all…"

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Growled Eren while gripping the reins to his rage even harder. He'd realized that despite his wobbly, trembling state, being angry seemed to help focus him more.

"Oh, my bad, kid. How rude of me. I forgot to introduce myself. Uri keeps telling me that I need to improve my manners. Keep this between us or I'll never live this down," Laughed the taller man, still using the knife to hold the younger male's shirt up.  "The name is Kenny Ackerman. The pleasure is all mine, Eren."

Ackerman...?  Was this the same piece of shit uncle that Levi had mentioned once before? The same shitty one that had wanted his sister to abort Levi? Admittedly, he knew next to nothing about this odd, crude man. Why he’d chosen to abduct Eren, and chain him up here, he didn’t know, but he had a feeling he’d find out soon enough.

“Not talking, eh? That’s okay. I’ll get ya talkin’ soon enough,” Sniggered Kenny before he slowly turned the knife until the sharp edge was facing up. Applying pressure, he carelessly and easily sliced through the shirt, slicing skin in the process, until it hung off the younger man’s body in uneven shreds. With his other hand, he reached up and took a hold of one of the chains restraining one of Eren’s arms. Jostling it a bit, the older man asked, “Comfortable?”

“Now that you mention it…no,” countered Eren, not the least bit concerned about the cuts he’d just received from the sharp implement. Kenny shaking the chains seemed to cement the idea that the machine was controlled by a remote and not by movement. He knew that if he wanted to get out of this predicament, he’d need more information and to do that, he’d have to talk to this despicable man. “But something tells me you don’t actually care about my comfort. So, what is it, Kenny, what do you want?”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. I think you’d look real nice and comfy in a bed,” commented the older man aloud as if more to himself than to anyone else. Scratching at his bearded chin, his gray eyes flicked over to the young soldier’s face. “Do you have any idea how much you’re worth, kiddo?”

How much he was worth? Was that a joke? Did this mean that this dick was involved in human trafficking? If so, why Eren, of all people? Although he was in good shape now, thanks to Levi, he found the notion hard to believe that someone went through a lot of trouble to abduct him so that they could sell him.

Not waiting for a response, Kenny slipped his knife back into its sheath at his side. “You are worth a shitload of money, kid. There’s a lot of…interested parties vying to buy your ass, did you know that? Right now, as we speak, there’s a bidding war going on.”

“I find that hard to believe,” spat Eren even though a tiny part of himself believed it.

“Oh, believe it, kid. You’re very important to some people, some very dangerous people. I don’t know what they want from ya, whether it’s to kill ya, fuck ya, or dress you pretty for some grand ball. I just know they’re going to pay for my early retirement. As you can see, I’m getting old,” explained the bearded man with a wink.

The younger male, in no mood to joke, sniped, “Getting old? You should already be in a grave.” Flexing his fingers, which he could barely feel because of the cuffs, Eren offered, “Untie me and I can make that happen.”

Kenny stared at him in silence for a moment before he slapped his own knee while he guffawed at what was obviously not a joke. “No can do, kid! As much as I like ya, ya gotta stay put for the main event.”

“Main event?”

“Oh, I didn’t say? I invited all of your friends. They should be here really soon,” replied Kenny while he adjusted his hat and flashed a crooked smile at the other man. Using a thumb to point at some of the masked men, he added, “I hope you don’t mind the extra guests…”

Eren froze, not even blinking or breathing as he gawked at the bearded man. “What? Why?”

“I’ve been trailing you for weeks and weeks, kid. Someone was almost always with you. My nephew never let you out of his sight, until yesterday. I couldn’t believe it when that Ackerman girl let you walk off on your own…just like that! You were gone for a while, and nobody thought to check on you. I guess they thought with how many people were around that nobody would try anything,” monologued Kenny as if he were performing before an audience. Stroking his bearded chin, the lanky man then jeered excitedly, “Ooo, did you manage to catch the look on his face? He. Was. Fucking. Pissed!” Cackled Kenny as if he were fondly remembering someone’s crazy birthday party. Taking his wide-brimmed fedora off, he scratched a hand through his gray-black hair before putting the hat back on again. “The little runt almost had me, too.”

“Levi is your nephew,” phrased Eren more as a statement and not a question. So far, he’d gathered that the older man seemed to take pleasure in teasing his own flesh and blood. That didn’t sit well with Eren at all, which caused him to grind his teeth. “Why are you doing this to him? Do you not care at all? What are you, a fucking sociopath?”

For the first time since meeting this deranged man, Kenny appeared stone cold serious. All semblance of his amusement was gone as he ground out, “Of course I fucking care about Levi. I always have, and always will. You just don’t see the big picture, yet, kid.”

“You have a funny way of showing it,” snapped Eren as he continued to glare at the man while not quite believing this deadbeat of a man gave a fraction of a damn for his own nephew. If he truly cared, then why did he seem to delight in torturing him? It was even obvious to Kenny that Eren and Levi were involved, so why poke at it? What did he have to gain from this insane behavior of his? Maybe…maybe that was just it. The man was just batshit crazy.

No longer offended, Kenny laughed. “I always did like you, kid. You got some real spunk to ya. I’m not surprised that he’s taken with ya, really. Those blazing eyes of yours…if they could kill just by looking at people, I’d be a corpse right now, I reckon.”

Seeing natural light beginning to filter into the gigantic church, Eren craned his neck around as much as humanely possible to look at the enormous stained-glass windows behind him. Judging by the direction of the light, and the amount, it was clearly the sun rising in the sky, which meant that it was morning now. Straining his ears, he thought he heard the sound of approaching aircrafts. A helicopter or two, perhaps. Feeling dread well up inside of him at the thought that his friends were potentially getting close, he whirled his head back around and beseeched, “Kenny, don’t do this, whatever you’re planning. Don’t hurt them. It’s me you want, so just take me, and do whatever, but don’t…don’t do anything to them.”

Unmoved by the younger man’s begging, the older man snorted. “No can do, kiddo. All the little traps are already set up. It would be a shame if nobody discovered them.”

Traps? Eren glanced around wildly, his viridian eyes frantically trying to spot Kenny’s traps.

“Ah, showtime. Now be a good kid and shut the hell up,” sighed Kenny while he took advantage of the long-haired soldier’s distraction. Punching Eren in the stomach to force his mouth open, he then forced a gag into the shorter man’s mouth before clasping it closed.

“Wouldn’t want you to ruin the surprise, Eren. It’s gonna be damn good.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Fuck, fuck, fuck! Eren panicked as he began to struggle violently against the chains, his gagged mouth emitting noises of distress. Yanking his arms and legs, he didn’t care that the metal was biting into his skin and making him bleed. He had to get away somehow and stop this, whatever this was that Kenny planned on having occur here today.

“Oh, looksee here, that was quick,” remarked Kenny while he pulled out a remote and pressed a button. The high up dais turned, the sound of gears grinding as the thing maneuvered itself around until it had them facing the same windows Eren had turned his head to look at previously.  Coming to stand beside the bound man, Kenny slinked an arm around his neck as if they were longtime pals.

The large double doors to the church exploded at the same time as several dark-clad figures crashed through the stained class. Some zoomed into the church while others crouched or hung from the window ledge. Everyone was armed with some type of weapon in hand, whether it was a handgun to a military issued combat rifle.

“He’s over there!” Shouted Connie as he hung from the ceiling using his ODM gear.

Crouched on the window, Jean warned, “Watch out, there’s some armed douchebags down there!” High powered combat rifle in hand, the tall soldier aimed it at the masked men though the men made no move to aim back, yet. “Shit, there’s a lot of these fuckers…”

“We can take them,” assured Sasha with determination as she hung near her amber-eyed best friend. The best shot out of the group; the brown-haired woman already had the enemy well within her sights. She would be easily able to take out ten or more of them before a single one had a chance to fire at them.

No, no, no! Although they couldn’t see his face, Eren still did his best to attempt to warn them non-verbally about the traps. He wanted them to leave, to go back, and hoped they’d somehow pick up on it. There was the high likelihood that they would be electrocuted, bombed, or riddled with countless bullets.

“The captain said to wait,” Reminded Reiner grimly though he was just on edge as everyone else.

With a sigh, Annie agreed, “Reiner is right. Just wait for it.”

“So nice of you lot to finally join me and Eren! Speaking of your ‘captain’, where is he? I would have thought he’d be the first one stupidly barreling in here,” Inquired Kenny as he squeezed his arm tighter around the struggling man’s neck.

“Over here, you shitty asshole,” Called out Levi from his position on the ground. Handgun gripped in his right hand, he kept it trained on Kenny. Although he was a good distance away, Eren could still tell that the captain was beyond pissed off from the way his voice seethed with unbridled rage. As angry as the man had been about Floch’s sexual assault, he was obviously even more livid now.

 Mike and Mikasa flanked the raven-haired captain, their guns drawn and aimed at the masked men. From the looks of it, the three of them had entered through the demolished church doors.

“Oh, there he is! My pride and fucking joy! Get your ass up here, runt, and get your feisty little boy!” Dared Kenny, his voice and face expressing a disturbing amount of personal elation. Whatever this was for him, he was deeply enjoying it on some sick, sadistic level.

“Do you think I’m stupid?” Hissed Levi, his body rigid as he stood there rooted to the spot. As much as Eren wanted to be close to the captain again, he was immensely grateful that Levi seemed to be aware of possible dangers in the room. If their positions had been reversed, Eren, like the suicidal bastard that he knew he could be, probably would have foolishly rushed in to rescue Levi regardless of the risks.

Kenny shrugged nonchalantly. “Well, if you don’t want him, I’ll keep him…”

“The fuck you will, old man,” Growled Levi, his deep voice reverberating throughout the gigantic room like a wrathful god of war.

Suddenly, the chopping sound of a helicopter was heard from behind Eren and Kenny before it appeared hovering near the windows. The movement of the main rotor blades causing sunlight to dance through the stained-glass windows. Although Kenny did look over his shoulder to look at the looming King Raven, the hovering military craft obviously armed to the teeth, Eren kept his gaze glued to the slate-eyed veteran soldier.

Now!” Ordered Levi as he took that moment of distraction to swiftly fire several specific shots in rapid succession. It took Eren a few moments to realize the raven-haired man had spotted and disarmed the traps within the church. At the same exact moment, the King Raven began firing heavy artillery through the glass, effectively shattering it, the colorful shards sparkling like gems as they rained down while someone opened fire on Kenny’s scrambling men. The loud cackling, which somehow was heard above the sound of the helicopter, revealed the pilot to be Hanji.

Several bodies suddenly flew through the air, not hesitating to take shots at the masked men. Gun put away, Mikasa unsheathed her swords as she sailed and twisted in the air like a bird of prey, her blades hastily rending multiple men to sickening pieces. Seemingly faster than a bullet, the raven-haired woman dodged gunfire as she continued taking out the enemy. Covering her, Mike sped through the air raining shots down on anyone daring to aim at the female Ackerman.

Not willingly to die on their feet, several of Kenny’s armed men recovered from their initial shock to also fly through the air to avoid being shot or to openly pursue Levi and his squad.

“Not so fast!” Shouted Kenny as some of Levi’s squad, including Levi himself, made moves to rescue Eren from his chains. Standing close to the younger soldier as he pressed a gun into his neck, Kenny cursed in surprise when Eren had suddenly lunged at him before biting a sizable chunk of flesh from his hand. Ripping his hand away, Kenny cursed loudly while he staggered away from the younger male. Not hesitating, he quickly pushed the button to the remote, electricity suddenly ripping through Eren without mercy. Head thrown back; the cyan-eyed soldier howled in agony as the voltage of the electricity increased dramatically. The electricity sent sparks flying everywhere, which effectively prevented anyone from being able to get near the green-eyed man.

Suddenly, the electricity stopped as soon as the cords connected to the chains had been severed by knives that had been thrown expertly through them. Using the last knife on him, Levi quickly threw it at his uncle, who dodged it even though it managed to graze one of his long legs.

Heart stopped completely, Eren sagged uselessly against the chains, his hair hanging like a curtain over his face. Vision blurring, he began to slip into unconsciousness until he heard his name being screamed by multiple people, their shouts resonating all around him. Although there was still residual electricity coursing through his body, it was quickly replaced by something similar, but far stronger. Coursing through his body in a different way, in a way that invigorated him, blue-green electricity sizzled and shocked all around him. Heart beating once again, Eren’s blood felt like it was on fire as he lifted his head. Viridian eyes glowing now like whipping green flames, the long-haired soldier scanned the church and what he found stoked his already boiling rage.

Crouched over Connie’s bleeding body was Sasha, who was busy desperately trying to administer first aid to the unconscious man. Acting as a shield, Reiner blocked them from view of Kenny’s men while he fired away. Ymir flanked the other side of them to help cover them and Reiner, her freckled face twisted in fury as she fired unforgivably at the masked thugs.

Roaring similar to the Attack titan, Eren used all of his might to violently yank one of the chains free from the wall, electricity sparking wildly all around him. Yanking his other arm free, he quickly tore the shackles off his wrists before moving to rip them off of his ankles. Panting angrily, he then whirled around just in time to spot Kenny aim a machine gun before firing multiple rounds at someone. No time to check to see who his intended target was, Eren lunged at Kenny in an effort to disarm him. Although he succeeded in ripping the gun away, he still managed to get shot multiple times in the chest during the struggle. Tossing the machine gun away, the viridian-eyed man staggered on the dais, his vision blurring as copious amounts of blood spilled messily from his wounded body. Tumbling off from the dais, he was about to hit the ground with a sickening splat before someone of considerable strength intercepted his fall. Strong arms snagged him securely before landing them both down onto the floor gingerly. Gunmetal eyes peered down worriedly at him as hands pressed hard against his bleeding chest to help staunch the blood flow.

When a pair of agonized dark eyes joined them, Levi, his voice quaking with barely controlled rage, then ordered, “Stay with him, Mikasa.”

After receiving a curt nod, the raven-haired captain spared Eren one last glance before he used his ODM gear to launch his body through the air. Mikasa’s hands shook as she pressed the reddening white cloth to Eren’s chest in a desperate attempt to apply pressure to the wounds.

“KENNY!” Bellowed Levi, the sheer force of his fury seemingly causing the church to shake as he tore through the air like a demon straight out of hell, hot on the retreating Kenny’s heels.

Rolling his head so that he could get a better look at Mikasa, Eren then violently coughed out blood all over himself. Using the back of his hand to wipe away the blood, the green-eyed man gazed at the raven-haired woman as if he regarding an old, dear friend close to his heart. In a hoarse whisper, Eren confessed, “I remember…everything…” before his vision faded and he was met with unrelenting darkness.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Chapter Text

Note: ~…~ indicates Ymir’s Speech

 

A gentle breeze blew long, chocolate locks against his face, tickling his skin. Opening up dazed caribbean eyes, the young man focused on the surreal looking cerulean sky above him. There wasn't even a single cloud in sight, which was odd. Even the way the sky looked...seemed almost fake, like he was underwater or staring at it through class. It was odd. Was he dreaming...?

Eren slowly sat up and absently brushed his hair out of his face. The motion made him realize that his hair, which had been shoulder length months prior, was now a few inches or so past his shoulders. Sometimes he was tempted to cut it since it required so much upkeep, however, whenever that thought crossed his mind, he dug his heels in. He liked his hair long, it suited him...and well, Levi seemed to like it long, too.

Wait. Levi!            

His memories of Kenny, Levi, and his comrades suddenly slammed into him like a freight train. Jumping up onto his feet, Eren frantically looked around, eyes searching for Levi and his friends.  Seeing nothing but rolling pastures of grass and wildflowers, his eyes landed on a familiar looking tree.

And standing beside that recognizable tree, was a small blonde girl, that was just as familiar.

Ymir Fritz.

As if his feet had a mind of his own, Eren began his trek over to the Ymir as if he were drawn to her like a magnet. His feet were bare as he walked, the feeling of the cool grass feeling pleasant against his feet. He remembered the paths, and how the sand had been as coarse and ice cold as the air itself. It had been a desolate, chilling place and at the time, it had reflected his mind. Now, this place he walked…was soft and warm. Ymir had once been forlorn and chained in the paths, but here, she appeared happy and free. He almost didn’t recognize her now as he studied her, each step bringing him all that much closer.

It made him want to cry.

Dressed in a flowing cerulean sundress that danced in the breeze along with her flaxen hair, Ymir smiled softly up at him. Although she didn’t open her mouth, he heard her words uttered in the wind near his ears. As she spoke, she flipped something in the air, which moved far more slowly than it would in the real world.

This had to be a dream.

~You have questions…~

Taking a deep breath, Eren decided to bite the bullet by first asking the most pressing questions of all. “Am I dead?”

Ymir shook her head slowly as she continued to flip the small and round object in the air. When light hit the object, it glistened like the metal of a sword. Something about the color and the intensity of it reminded him of captain Levi Ackerman, which caused his chest to constrict at the thought. No, he needed to focus first and figure out where he was, and what was happening now.

Gesturing all around them, the green-eyed solider asked, “If I’m alive…then what is this place?”

Ymir tilted her head as if she thought he should clearly already know this.

~This place is inside of you, Eren.~

So, in other words, this lucid dream-like world was all in his head. Facing the tree now, Eren ran his fingertips against the bark until he noticed the small headstone at the base of the tree. Although the words inscribed upon the stone had been weathered away, he already knew what they said.

“I was buried here,” sighed Eren wistfully. Lifting his eyes, he turned and looked at Ymir quizzically. “Why…am I back? I died, and yet, we’re all…alive again, and we remember it all. Why?”

~This is what you wanted, Eren. Because you willed it, it happened.~

“I willed it? You make it sound like I just made a wish and it came true.”

The blonde girl cocked her head again, her eyes reflecting a deep-rooted empathy as she ceased flipping the object, her fingers closing around the small thing protectively. Her empathy made sense considering out of all the people in the world, she was one of the very few that understood what it was like.

~Your dying wish, perhaps. Do you not remember it?~

Closing his eyes, Eren searched his memories for the last moments of his previous life. His mind had been a mess then, and there’d been many tumultuous thoughts whirling around in his head like a hurricane. Wading through the mess of his mind, the long-haired man finally found what he had been searching for.

~Do you remember what you wanted most?~

Opening his vibrant, watering eyes, Eren breathed, “To live. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to live. I wanted…us all to live.”

Humming in response, the girl didn’t expand on that whatsoever as if she preferred for him to draw his own conclusions. Opening her hand, the blonde girl revealed the small object that lay in the palm of her hand was a silver coin.

Remembering the strange blue-green electricity and his insane superhuman strength, Eren hesitantly asked, “Am…am I a titan?”

Ymir slowly shook her head as she rolled the coin over her fingers, revealing that the coin had an engraved image on each side. One looked like someone’s profile while the other side looked like wings.

“Then what am I?”

~I don’t know, but what I do know is that you are what you wanted to be. Just like I was, thousands of years ago. I remember being…a small, scared little girl who wanted to be big and strong, so that’s what it gave me. It, the creature that found me in that tree, seems to give us what we want…to some degree. So, Eren, what did you want?~

Eren pondered that for a long while. Something told him he had all the time in the world, so he slowly lowered himself to sit on the ground with his back pressed against the tree. He said nothing when Ymir gingerly sat next to him, close enough to be friendly but giving him enough space to breathe, which he appreciated. She wasn't afraid of him and for whatever reason, she seemed fond of him as if they were old friends. In a way, he supposed that they were.

So, what had he wanted? He knew that in his heart of hearts, he had wanted his people (especially his close friends and comrades) to live and thrive for centuries to come and so far, that had all come true. For over three hundred years, the Eldians had more or less thrived. Sure, there had been minor skirmishes here and there among their people and due to other races, but it was nothing like before.  Eren had given the Eldians had been given a fighting chance to continue living in a cruel, yet beautiful world.

What else had he wanted? Oh, yeah. Eren had wanted to live free, free of titans and war among humanity. As much of a fighter as he was, he did not lust for death or for combat.  Unfortunately for him, he had been living with a short expiration date and would have died no matter what he'd done. Yeah, he could have run off and lived his remaining few years with the one he loved and respected most, but it would have solved nothing. He would have ultimately died and left his love in a chaotic world that was bent on culling humans with Eldian blood. No, that would have been the easy way for Eren and if anyone knew anything about Eren Jäger, he never did things the easy way.

In the end, his death had meant something. The death of all his comrades and people, had meant something and hadn't been in vain thanks to Mikasa, Levi, Armin, and the others. They were the real heroes and it repulsed him to know the Eldians of Paradis celebrated him more than his comrades who had opposed the Rumbling.

But yes, Eren had wanted to live and experience an actual life. He'd wanted to live that life beside the person he respected most even if at the time he'd never dreamed that same person would love him back. To think that in this life he actually had that chance was overwhelming to say the least. Now that he remembered everything, he hoped that hadn't changed.

And being the person he was, the green-eyed man had wanted to live his life being able to protect the ones he cared about most...without anything remotely titan chaotically roaming the world. When he'd vowed that he wanted to kill all titans, he'd meant every word of it. There was no way in hell he would have ever wished for the return of titans. No, he'd rather die all over again than allow such a thing to occur. Despite what Jean and some of the others might think, he’d prefer not to die, though.

Watching the long blades of grass swaying in the wind, Eren quietly uttered, “I wanted us all to live again…free.”

~Do you feel free?~

At that question, the long-haired male turned his head to look at the young woman in surprise. He noticed a soft smile playing on her lips and a lightness in her eyes that indicated her question wasn’t derisive. Looking away again and sighed as he seriously pondered her inquiry. “Compared to my previous life, yeah, I feel free. I’m, no, we’re no longer in a cage and there’s no titans treating us like cattle. But…there are still people in the world that want to kill us or take our freedom away. I understand that will never change. It’s just how Humanity is, and always has been.”

Ymir said nothing then, just hummed her response.

The sky began to blacken ominously as dark, depressing thoughts began to flood Eren’s mind like a turbulent storm. The wind blew more harshly, biting coldly at them both as thunder boomed loudly and lightning flashed. Ducking his head down, his hair formed a protective curtain around him as he squeezed his eyes shut tightly. Fingernails biting into his palms, he hissed, “I don’t deserve to live. Why am I alive again? After what I did, I shouldn’t be…”

Arms then wrapped around Eren, so tightly and strongly in such a way that reminded him very much of Mikasa. Despite himself, twin trails of tears slid down his cheeks as he raised his head to look down at the person embracing him. Expecting raven hair, he was surprised to find a blonde head resting against his chest. A slender hand reached up to delicately wipe away the young man’s tears in a loving gesture.

~What we think we deserve and what we actually get…don’t always align, Eren. This is a new life for you, and whether you think you deserve it or not, you are here in the world, along with everyone else.~

“But—”

Ymir’s face lifted to look up at Eren and it was in that moment that he realized she looked older now, closer to his age. Blue eyes peered up at him with such conviction it was almost like he was staring into a mirror of his younger, more brash self.

~—But nothing. Mikasa wants you to live. Armin wants you to live. Levi wants you to live. They all want you to live. Even I want you to live. You don’t get to die just because you feel like you don’t deserve to live.~

The ink blackened sky, no longer booming thunder or flashing lightning, began to lighten, ever so slowly as the viridian-eyed man reluctantly began releasing the rigid hold on his unpleasant thoughts. Despite this, his horrible reflections lingered stubbornly due to his own insecurity and obstinance.

“Why do you care? I’m just like…” Trailed off Eren, still resisting even though he knew that he was losing the battle. “I’m just like that asshole that hurt you.”

Arms still wrapped tightly around the brown-haired soldier; the blond woman shook her head slowly as sorrow draped itself over her like a veil. If she had been Levi, she would have whacked him over the head for his self-depreciating words.

~You are nothing like him, Eren, just like I’m nothing like Mikasa. He wanted to destroy the world out of greed. You, you wanted to destroy it out of love. I should have stopped him, but my love for him…if that was even love, I don’t know, hindered me from taking a stand, from doing the right thing. Mikasa…did what I failed to do. She stopped you, the one she loves beyond all else. In doing so, she freed herself.~

Ymir’s words packed a solid punch that left Eren feeling utterly speechless. So far everything she’d said resonated within him in a soothing manner that was effective in calming him. Almost hesitantly, Eren slipped an arm around Ymir’s deceptively delicate looking shoulders. She was still short and slim, yet she was older and stronger now. The cyan-eyed soldier barely recognized her as he stared down at her as if he were seeing her for the first time. Something about her almost glowed

~I am not a goddess, Eren. Just a human, just as you once said to me.~

Although he didn’t doubt that, he still wondered about this place and how he was even speaking with her now. Perhaps it was just some fever dream? Tearing his gaze away from her, he looked around this little world and noticed the sky was bright blue again without a cloud in sight. “What is this place and why are you here?”

~This place is a dreamworld of sorts, of your own making. I think. The paths no longer exist and yet, we’re all still very much connected thanks to you. I’m here because you needed me to be. You brought me here.~

“Are you…real? Or just a figment of my imagination?”

~I’m real. I may not have all the answers you want, but just know that I am real.~

“Does that mean you’re alive now in the world?”

~Yes. Because of you, I am living a free life with my family. Thank you, Eren, for everything. And should we not meet again, thank Mikasa for me, too.~

Thinking about all of the people that he’d met in this new life, Eren realized that in a lot of ways, life wasn’t anywhere near as dreadful and confining as it had been back then. A lot of the people that had died young  in the previous life were still alive now, like Levi and Mikasa’s mothers  for example. Isabel and Farlan, Levi’s closest friends, were still alive and now happily married. Marco and Sasha were still alive along with several others. Things were far from perfect, but it seemed as if everyone had been granted a new beginning and another chance at a life that had been cruelly snatched away from most of them.

Teal eyes widened when a familiar beautiful face, one bearing a strong resemblance to his own,  though far more feminine, appeared then in his memory. If everyone else was alive, including this Ymir, then that meant…?

“My mother?” Eren asked hesitantly even though he knew that he didn’t deserve to know. She had died…because of him. That titan headed for Bertholdt, he’d diverted straight to his own mother instead. His own father had been used as a pawn by Eren, too, and although it hadn’t been easy on him to use his parents to save the others, he still felt that he didn’t deserve their forgiveness.

~Your real mother, Carla Jäger, is still alive, Eren. Grisha, too. They’re both waiting for you.~

Feeling his heart plummet down in his chest, he frowned. “How do you know?”

Ymir smiled kindly at him as she slowly withdrew her arms from around his larger body. Taking his hand, she turned it around and placed the coin in it before closing his fingers around it.

~I’ve met them.~

“Oh, I see…” If what she said was true,  (which he had no doubt it was) then those cold and distant people that had raised him weren’t his biological parents. Eren wasn’t a Vogel, he was a Jäger.

Opening his hand, Eren stared down at the silver object glistening in his palm. Using the fingers of his other hand, he nudged the coin over until the head was hidden and the wings now revealed. As he gazed unblinkingly down at the coin, the world around him started to fade away until all he saw in his vision was the argentine engraved image of wings.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Opening up bleary viridian eyes, Eren found himself lying in a bed in a mostly darkened room, though slivers of light seemed to peek out through the curtains teasingly. Sitting up slowly, the jade-eyed man absently ran a hand over his chest before realizing that he was wearing a shirt. Frowning, he lifted the shirt and saw nothing but unblemished, sun kissed skin.  No blood, no wounds, no scars, and not even a welt. It’s as if he hadn’t been shot multiple times by a powerful weapon. So, apparently, it hadn’t happened, or he just so happened to heal similar to a titan-shifter. That would explain why his left leg was no longer scarred.

Dropping his shirt, green eyes swept over the familiar room, which looked like his old room, until they landed on a familiar figure sitting in a chair near the bed.

Levi.

Upon closer inspection, he noticed the man was somewhat slouched over and appeared to be asleep. Head tilted and cradled against one shoulder; it would have been an endearing sight had he not looked so incredibly worn out. Although he appeared clean, his face wasn’t as smooth as it usually was, which proved that he hadn’t shaved in days. Reaching up to touch his own face, Eren felt his own stubble, which also indicated that he hadn’t shaved in some time, too. That probably meant—

Something suddenly vibrated, which directed Eren’s eyes to the floor near Levi’s booted feet to spot the bright screen of what looked like the captain’s phone. The vibrating soon stopped and within moments, the bright screen of the phone faded to black.

No longer distracted by the phone or the sleeping soldier, Eren focused back on his confusing surroundings. Why was he back in his old room instead of Levi’s bedroom and why was Levi opting to sleep in a chair instead of an actual bed? Even with how dark the room was, there was enough light filtering in to reveal the dark circles under the veteran’s eyes. This indicated that he was either getting less sleep than normal, or rarely slept at all.

How long had Eren been asleep? A day, two days, a week? Considering they were both sporting stubble, it had to have been at least a few days.

When he shifted again, he felt a sudden familiar pain in his groin area that morphed into the urge to urinate. Lifting the blanket again, he spotted the catheter that was slipped through the front of some loose boxers. Following the tubing with his eyes, he noticed the night drainage bag at the side, which made him cringe. Considering he was wearing a catheter; he had definitely been unconscious for more than a day.

Another need presented itself then in the form of a parched, sandpapery feeling throat and cotton mouth. Spotting several water bottles located on the beside tabled, Eren gingerly (and as quietly as possible) reached for one before downing the entire thing until his thirst was fully sated. Unfortunately, relieving his need for water only seemed to provoke another, less welcome need.

Unwilling to urinate into the bag or risk waking up the sleeping man, Eren was stuck in the middle of a stalemate. It was one thing to urinate into the bag when he was asleep or too weak to move, but he felt physically fine now. Using the bag would feel too much like using the bathroom in front of someone and that was just gross. Yeah, Levi had obviously rubbed off on him…

After several minutes of his internal struggle, he finally reached a decision.  Carefully and as silently as possible, he  gingerly crept out of the bed. Taking hold of the bag and tubing as quietly as possible, the younger man tip toed towards the door, his eyes glued to the veteran as he did so. Once he reached the door, the green-eyed man had to somehow manage to turn the handle and open the door without it creaking. It creaked once, just a bit, but fortunately all that happened was the older man twitching a bit as a reaction. Holding his breath, Eren then slipped out of the room and didn't breathe until he was in the bathroom. Once inside, he closed the door and went through the typical steps to remove the catheter.  Considering he'd been through this before several months ago, the young soldier knew exactly what to do.

After reliving himself the old-fashioned way (in the toilet), he flushed and washed his hands. Feeling gross since he didn't know when he'd last been bathed (though knowing Levi, the man had probably given him a sponge bath), he shucked off his shirt and boxers. Eren then grabbed a clean hand towel before he immersed it in hot water and soap then used it to wipe away the sweat from his body. He soaked the towel, wrung it out, then wetted it again in hot water before using it to clean his body. The younger soldier repeated these steps until he was satisfied that he no longer felt or smelled funky as hell. It wasn't the same as taking a shower or a bath, but it would do for now until he could take a proper shower. Dumping the shirt in the hamper, he then slipped the boxers back on despite being tempted to walk out naked.

The thing was, Eren didn't know where he stood with Levi right now and even more pressing, he didn't know if they were alone in the house. It was possible that Mikasa or someone else was in the house, too. Last thing he wanted was to scar anyone for life whether they'd welcome the sight or not.

Remembering recent events caused him to pause on his way to the bathroom door. Remembering the feeling of bullets ripping through his flesh, Eren turned towards the mirror and studied his body. His hairless, sun kissed skin was smooth and unblemished as if he’d never even skinned a knee in his entire life. There were absolutely no open wounds, no stitches, no scars, and hell, not even a bruise. Even looking at his own face, he didn’t even appear to be in any pain despite the mental and emotional anguish simmering inside of him. 

If not a titan, then what the fuck was he? He wasn’t normal, obviously. Like Levi and Mikasa, he had strength and abilities that other humans could never hope to achieve; however, his own seemed to surpass the Ackermans, at least in terms of strength. He remembered ripping heavy, thick chains from their posts like it was something he’d done every day easy peazy. Even with that being said, he still didn’t believe he had what it took to take down Mikasa or Levi in a fight, if it came down to it. Not that he wanted to actually take them down. But the thought that he was no longer normal…

Huh. Normal? Eren shook his head at the thought. He’d never been normal, but he’d never been extraordinary, either. He’d been a slave, a slave to destiny and like the slave he had been, he’d succumbed to it. He’d been told that he was free, had been born free, but after touching Historia, he’d come to relieve that had all been a lie. In that life, everything had led to the final outcome for a reason. To be free, Eren had had to die.

Scrubbing at his face with both hands, the brown-haired man sighed loudly in frustration before remembering that he needed to be quiet. Padding over to the door, his hand hovered over the doorknob for a moment when he felt a strange sensation, which felt almost like he was being watched. Shaking his head, he dismissed it. Gingerly opening the door, Eren stumbled back and nearly fell flat on his ass when he caught sight of Levi leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. As usual, his sleep-deprived face betrayed absolutely nothing.

Damn, it was a good thing he'd already used the bathroom otherwise he would have pissed himself like some drunken idiot. Running a hand through his messy hair, he shifted his weight to one foot as he stood there awkwardly uncertain how to proceed. A part of him wanted to close the distance and embrace Levi while the other part of him, wanted to respect the older man’s space. Although talking with Ymir had helped him, it was still a bit disorientating to know that he was both Eren Jäger and Eren Jäger Vogel. It was like being two people at once, two very similar people, and yet, the more he thought about it, the more he realized that he was more like a coin. He wasn’t two coins; he was just one coin with two different sides.

Maybe that was what Ymir had been trying to tell him with that silver coin of hers.

Pushing off from the wall, the raven-haired man approached him cautiously as if not to spook the younger male. Even if Levi believed him to be a titan again, he found it difficult to believe the man would ever be scared of Eren. There was a very good reason why Erwin had entrusted Eren to Levi twice now.

Reaching a hand out towards him, the steel-eyed man hesitated as if uncertain whether to touch him or not. It reminded Eren of how the older man had treated him after the Floch incident. This made him think that Levi might be uncertain if his touch was still welcome considering Eren remembered everything now. Perhaps that's why he'd been placed in his old room. Or maybe...him being a freak actually did bother Levi? It was one thing to heal fast, but to have inhuman strength...that was another thing entirely. Whatever the true reason, he wanted to sort it out asap. As comforting as Ymir had been, which still left him feeling calm and warm, he still needed more. Levi had been his go to comfort in this second life and that had not changed for Eren, at least.

Being the daring man that he'd been since his first life, Eren stepped closer to Levi until they were almost touching. When the captain didn't put space between them, the younger man then decided to reach out and touch the side of the other man's stubbled face. When the silver-eyed male shuddered and leaned into his touch, Eren had to fight not to crush himself against the other man. Gray eyes slid closed for a moment as a hand reached up to cover Eren's.

"How do you feel?" Asked Levi, his low, deep voice suddenly breaking the silence between them. Gunmetal eyes now open, he regarded Eren carefully for any signs indicating that he was unwell.

"Physically...fine," Answered the slightly shorter man, his voice hoarse from disuse. Moving in closer, the younger soldier felt relieved when the taller man finally snaked his arms around him before tugging him close. The contact made him want to cry, so Eren clung tightly to him and buried his face in his neck, the warmth and scent of him immensely comforting. Eyes watery, he managed to blink away the unshed tears. "Mentally...I am sound...enough.  Emotionally, I'm..."

"I know. There's a reason why I got wasted over ten years ago. After I nearly got blown to bits, I remembered everything.  I tried...like an idiot, to forget," admitted Levi as he rubbed soothing, indistinct patterns into the bare skin of the younger man's back. "It didn't work."

Although he was hesitant to know, Eren still asked, “Did…anything work?”

“If you are asking if I turned to drugs or fucking around, no, I did not resort to those things. I did what I always have done, I focused my energy on keeping busy. Searching for you, and everyone else, helped ease it a bit. The more people I found, the easier it was to cope. And yet…”

“Yet what?”

As if suddenly realizing that they were standing in the bathroom, Levi wrinkled his nose and took a step back. “Let’s talk elsewhere and not in this shitty bathroom.” His hand then slid down Eren’s arm to lace their fingers together before he started to lead him away, his eyes never once leaving the younger soldier as if afraid that he’d disappear.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

“You eluded me. With each passing year, my frustration grew and grew like a monster threatening to snap. Every lead I had was just another disappointment and after ten years of nothing, I was starting to lose hope that you even existed at all,” confessed Levi, sounding a bit guilty from his spot sitting in his usual chair on the balcony. He then sighed, “To think…you were here in Paradis this entire time. Those shitty fucks hid you very well.”

“Who?”

“Those people that raised you weren’t your biological parents. When you were barely a toddler, you went missing one day in a store. Nobody knew where you had gone, or if you were even alive. Your parents…never stopped looking for you, Eren,” explained the other man before he took a sip of his freshly brewed coffee. Although he preferred tea most days, he still indulged in coffee when he was particularly exhausted. Considering Eren jumped him every chance he got, the captain was drinking a lot more coffee compared to when the younger man had first moved into this house.

Remembering Ymir's words about his parents, which Levi had just confirmed to be true, Eren nodded. "Ymir Fritz told me. She said they were waiting for me."

"Ymir Fritz? What are you talking about?" Questioned Levi, his thin brows now furrowed.

Knowing there was no one he trusted more, Eren took a deep breath before he briefly explained his meeting with Ymir, as strange and comforting as it had been for him at the time. Whether the older man believed him or not was another story altogether. To Levi's credit, the man didn't interrupt him, not even once, and just sat there silently listening to his account.

“I’m not sure how to explain it, but seeing her and talking to her, helped a lot. I thought…when I woke up, that I would feel lost and alone. I thought when I remembered, I’d become some mad beast, but that’s not what happened, thanks to her,” spoke Eren quietly as he watched the sun beginning to set. Turning his vibrant gaze to look at the man sitting beside him, he finished, “And thanks to you, too. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you, Levi.”

Because of the darkening sky, the natural lighting was less reliable in ascertaining whether or not there was a pink flush to the skin and neck of the captain’s neck. Coughing a bit as if to distract them both “Did you really think I would abandon you after you remembered everything?”

The long-haired man looked away then to focus his forlorn gaze onto the sun sinking down in the sky. “It’s not…that I thought you would. It’s more like I believed that I deserved it.”

“I may not like it, and I may never understand what was going through your thick skull at the time, but what I do know is that you did what you did because it was probably the choice you felt you’d regret the least,” sighed Levi.

“You may not believe it, but a lot of what you told me in the life before stuck with me. Out of everything you’ve said, there was something that stuck with right until the very end. You once said: ‘I can believe in my own abilities or the choices of the companions I trust. But no one ever knows how it will turn out. So, choose for yourself, whichever decision you will regret the least.’

Levi's jaw tightened. “Are you blaming me?”

Eren laughed mirthlessly. “Not at all. What I did is all on me and absolutely no one else. Even if it was the only outcome I could see, the only path for me, it is on me and me alone. I don’t deserve to live; I shouldn’t be alive—”

SMACK

During the middle of Eren’s rant, the steel-eyed man had jumped up from the chair to whirl around and face him like a wrathful storm. Without hesitation, he’d smacked Eren hard across the face, causing the younger man’s head to snap to the side. Head staying where it had been forced by the blow, long, unkempt chocolate strands of hair hung in the younger man’s face. Although he was mildly shocked by being struck, he remained calm as he waited for what was to come next. He’d deserved it and more, he knew, and would accept anything Levi said or did to him.

“Don’t you ever say shit like that, Eren. If you deserved death, I would have already killed you myself. I didn’t spend over ten years looking for you just to kill you. I didn’t agonize over finding you, and keeping you safe, for nothing. I wasn’t the only one, either. Don’t you fucking ever cheapen what we all felt, and still feel for you, shitty brat,” spat out the older man, still clearly seething with rage. Fists balled, he kept them at his sides as his body shook.

Turning his head to look up at the angry man, not even caring about his own bleeding lip, Eren apologized, “I’m sorry.”

“Prove it. Stop trying to get yourself killed. You may be some new superhuman shit with healing abilities or whatever, but you can still die. Stop…trying to fucking die already,” hoarsely spoke Levi, his shaking voice teeming with barely controlled emotion that wasn't anger. Silver eyes, now glistening with unshed tears, which Eren barely managed to notice just before said eyes quickly squeezed themselves shut. Head turned away, the older man whispered, “Wasn’t once enough?”

Damn, he was such a fucking dumb ass. Ymir had been right. Why had he spit out that self-depreciating shit? He should have manned up by accepting the responsibility without slipping back into some pathetic pity party. Instead of it just hurting himself, it had hurt Levi, too. The green-eyed man knew that he needed to fix this and prevent further damage from occurring.

Slowly rising up from the chair, Eren tentatively approached the taller man as if he were a spooked horse. Deciding to carefully test the waters, he reached out and placed a hand on the other man’s shoulder. When he didn’t shrug it off, though he did tense a bit from the touch, the younger soldier moved closer. Gently resting his forehead against the older soldier’s, Eren snaked his arms tightly around the other man’s tense body. “You’re right, Levi. I almost died again, and it was my fault, not yours and certainly not Mikasa’s. I know you blame yourself and you shouldn’t. It’s not your fault. And…despite what you might think, I don’t actually want to die.”

“You didn’t know anything. We should have told you instead of keeping you in the dark,” bitterly admitted the captain.

“I understand why you guys didn’t and I understand why you withheld the truth from me. I wouldn’t have believed you. I didn’t want to believe any of it. I think…I think that’s why I had all those night terrors and hallucinations. I was trying to remember everything, but a part of me didn’t want to. Refused to. Maybe it was because I knew I wasn’t ready yet, I just don’t know. But what I do know is,” said Eren, in part as an explanation and as him musing his thoughts aloud. When the older man finally opened his eyes to look at him, he added, “I don’t regret remembering anything. As horrible as most of it was, and as upsetting as it was to learn I was the man I grew up hating, I don’t regret getting my memory back. You and everyone else—"

—Connie! Suddenly thinking about his friends and their wellbeing, especially Connie’s, he inwardly panicked. How had he forgotten about his best friend? Even with how much shit was chaotically tumbling around in his head, he should have already asked about his friend. Alarmed, he unwrapped his arms from around the veteran to grip him by the shoulders. “Levi, is…is Connie ok? All I remember is him getting shot. Please tell me he’s ok…”

“He’s recuperating as we speak. It’ll take him longer to heal than you did, but that brat will be just fine,” answered Levi, his voice and body much calmer and steadier than it had been just moments before.

Feeling the older man’s arms slink around his waist and back to pull him close, Eren sagged against his warmth, greedily siphoning in as much of his comfort as he could. “Thank you.”

“Why did I wake up in that room?” Calmly inquired Eren. After several minutes of silence had passed. As many nights as he’d spent sleeping in that room, the place had become more like an empty guest room to him.  

Levi lifted a hand to wipe away the blood from the shorter man’s lip with his thumb, noticing that the wound was already healed. “I didn’t know how you’d react when you woke up. Considering Mikasa and others checked up on you often, it didn’t seem the wise option to stick you in…”

“Our bed,” supplied Eren. Despite it technically being Levi’s property, the younger man couldn’t help thinking of it as theirs. Though his answer made sense, and had been a wise choice, Eren could sense that something was amiss, and he had a feeling it was related to Mikasa.

Levi's gray eyes widened a bit from surprise as if he hadn't expected to hear such a response from the younger man. As if it greatly pained him to ask this, the older man questioned, "You still want to be with me? What about Mikasa?"

Ah, so he was right. Levi was acting funny because he believed that as soon as Eren had regained his full memory he'd want to flit over to Mikasa like a moth to flame. He wouldn't call the other man an idiot for such an assumption because had Eren been in Levi's boots, he would have feared the same exact thing, too. At the end of the day, Eren did love Mikasa, always had, but not in the way the older man assumed. Running a hand through his hair, Eren sighed. "Sit down, Levi. I have some things to tell you that have been a long time coming. Things I wanted to tell you in the Paths, actually."

Nodding slowly, the raven-haired male strode over and eased himself back in his chair. Gunmetal eyes locked on Eren, he gave him his undivided attention.  His face was carefully blank again as if he were preparing himself to hear the worst.

It nearly made Eren smile.

"Do you remember what I said to you in the Paths, Levi?" Inquired the slightly shorter male after he had seated himself, too.

Levi nodded before he cast his gaze away from the other man. "Every single word."

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Standing alone in the Paths with Eren, Levi had listened to his explanation without interrupting once. Due to a number of reasons, mostly personal, the nineteen-year-old had saved the captain for last. It wasn't easy to stand before him now knowing that this would be the last time they spoke to one another. After this, this and the other memories of the Paths Eren had had with all his comrades would be blocked until his own imminent death. Levi, along with Mikasa, Armin, and the others, would forget this and become his enemy. Even though he didn't know every single detail of what was to come, he knew in his heart of hearts that they would succeed. They had to or all this would be for nothing. Although it shattered him entirely, Eren knew that he had to keep moving forward.

This was for them all.

"So, you're telling me you destroyed most of the world for us, is that right, brat?" The captain asked slowly as the information seemed to sink into him. Although there was a resigned air to him now, a part of him still appeared as if he wanted to fight it. Underneath that mask of indifference hid the true face of a passionate fighter.

"Yes." Eren turned and looked towards the sea, its rolling waves soothing. This would be the last time he could stand beside Levi looking out into what appeared to be a peaceful and free world.

Levi said nothing for a long time. He merely stood there beside Eren as the breeze tickled their skin and forced their hair to billow in the air. Unlike Eren, his eyes weren't fixed on the sea but on the young man himself almost as if he were trying to imprint him into his memory forever. Or at least, that's what Eren hoped he was doing. Unlike the rest of the people Eren loved, Levi was almost impossible to read.

“Ever since I was a kid, I greatly respected you and regarded you as my hero. You were the very reason why I wanted to join the Survey Corps in the first place. I hated those walls, hated how they confined us all in like cattle waiting for slaughter. The idea of leaving the walls, of making a difference, appealed to me,” Eren explained as he remembered his youthful years as a little brat getting into fights and dreaming of big things (thanks to Armin and his books). “Freedom was something I wanted more than anything. I thought I would find that in the Survey Corps and in a way, I did. Even though I had every intention of joining, I never thought I would ever get to meet you face to face. But I did and…”

Viridian eyes tore themselves away from the sea to look at the shorter man that stood beside him. A man so short and compact, yet so strong, still managed to make someone Eren’s size feel tiny and weak. Smiling softly, he confessed, “I’m glad I got to meet you, to know you, Captain—"

“—Levi. Just call me Levi here. No need to bother with pointless rank,” the older man corrected gently.

The titan-shifter couldn’t help the swell in his chest or the tiny giddy little flips that occurred in his stomach. Even near the end, Eren couldn’t help regarding Levi as a god, his god. If the captain only knew just how he felt, then…no, it was better if he didn’t. “Right, Levi. You…weren’t what I expected at all. If anything, you exceeded my expectations. It’s one thing to hear about your hero and to imagine how he is as a person, but to actually meet him, to actually get to know him as a person and fellow comrade…”

It might be Eren’s wishful thinking, but he thought the shorter man had a bit of a pink tinge to his skin now. Coughing, Levi looked away from him for a few moments.

Feeling emotion prick at his eyes, Eren closed them to prevent the older man from seeing the telltale shine of unshed tears. “There are no words that could ever describe it, Levi. All I can really say at this point is that it was the greatest honor to know you, Levi Ackerman, as my captain and dare I assume, friend. It gives me some relief to know that even after I’m gone, you’ll still exist in this world. There is no better man than you. You may not think you’re a good man, Levi, but you are. You’re a good man and no one has devoted their hearts more than you. I just wish…I wish…”

“You wish what?” Asked Levi softly, his voice sounding far softer than Eren had ever heard it before.

Opening his tormented eyes, the taller male looked meaningfully at the man standing beside him. The man standing beside him as if Eren wasn’t a monster. “I don’t want to die, Levi. I don’t want to leave any of you. I want to live, but I can’t, and I won’t. I wish…I wish I could live with—"

‘I wish I could live with you for the rest of my days.’ Eren had wanted to say but couldn’t. Even if there was the remote chance that the captain felt anything other than friendship for him, it would be cruel to dangle it in front of him only to rip it away. The selfish part of him wanted to confess his feelings, to just let it out into the air after years of stagnation. But no, Eren couldn’t do that to Levi of all people. Never to Levi.

“Live with what?” Questioned the older man patiently as he reached out a hand to touch the younger male’s arm.

Trying not to react to the platonic touch that seemed to burn a hole through the cloth, Eren shivered as he whispered, “With you all.”

“Eren—”

Whirling around, Eren leaned over and crushed Levi into a tight embrace that was far from platonic on his part. It was the kind of embrace he’d witnessed every now and then between his mother and father. He didn’t care if the shorter soldier kicked or punched him for it, he just wanted to have at least this bit of intimacy before he left. If he were being honest, he wanted to do more than merely hug him. Eren wanted to kiss him, to touch him, but if he did that, then the titan-shifter would never want to leave this place.

“Farewell, Levi. I’ll miss you most of all. Take care of them all for me, will you? I know you will,” spoke Eren, his voice cracking from intense emotion as he felt arms slowly curl around him. Feeling those strong arms return the embrace only made Eren want to sob uncontrollably like a widow at a funeral. Squeezing his eyes shut, he felt twin trails of tears trickle down over his tan cheeks. Forcing himself to reluctantly break the hug, the green-eyed soldier took a step back while he furiously wiped away his tears.

Chancing a glance at the captain, Eren was stunned by the unexpected sight before him. Beautiful face normally devoid of most emotions, argentine eyes now stared back at him twisted in anguish and brimming full of unshed tears.

Despite himself, another tear escaped and rolled down Eren’s face as he gazed both fervently and brokenly at one of the people that he loved more than himself. Holding his fist over his heart in the salute they both knew so well, Eren then regarded Levi, locking eyes with him one last time before he vanished from the Paths.

Right before he left for good, Eren thought he’d glimpsed a tear streaking down one of Levi’s pale cheeks as he held out a hand to him as if imploring him to come back. What was more, Eren even had thought he’d even imagined (but it couldn’t be, could it?) that he’d heard:

"I love you."

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

“I had the impression then that you had wanted to tell me something, but you wouldn’t. You started to tell me what you wished for, yet you didn’t elaborate when I asked you to. What had you meant to say then?” Levi questioned as he watched the light slowly vanishing from the world around them. Sinking lower and lower, the sun was nearly gone from the sunburst sky.

“I meant every word I said. Even the words I didn’t say. I couldn’t…no, I wouldn’t tell you how I felt because it would have been cruel of me to. Even if you did feel the same, I didn’t want you spending your life pining over a dead man. I wanted you, and Mikasa, too, to move on and be happy in your lives with whoever you chose to love.”

Levi sighed wearily as if this conversation taxed him, he revealed, “Although it took her years to, Mikasa did eventually move on and marry that Kirstein brat. She had children with him and seemed happy, but she still visited your gave every year on the anniversary of your death. Sometimes I went with her, and sometimes I went by myself.”

“You visited my grave?” Asked Eren, feeling genuinely touched that the captain hadn’t easily forgotten him. He also tried not to be annoyed by the fact that horseface had married Mikasa. Out of everyone, it just had to be fucking Jean of all people.

“Why is that surprising?” Snapped Levi, sounding a bit offended by that. Scratching at his undercut, he then elaborated, “I visited your grave whenever I wanted to talk to you. Sometimes it was once a week, sometimes once a month, or every few months. It may sound stupid, but it did comfort me to be there and talk to you even though you never talked back. This house we're in, I had built where your family home used to be. I wanted to be close to you, to be able to visit you whenever I needed to."

"You did?" Slowly inquired the younger male, genuinely surprised and touched at the same time. He sensed that there was more to it and couldn't help wanting to know more. The long-haired man had left the world in his previous life knowing that Levi cared but not knowing quite to what extent.

"Yeah, I did," sighed Levi.

Eren cocked his head to the side curiously. Still sensing there was a lot more to it than just that, he insistently pressed, "But why?"

"For the same reason why I never married or sought a partner. I couldn't.  Even before you, I never..." Levi trailed off as he rubbed at the back of his neck, which betrayed just how uncomfortable he felt right now admitting these personal things. "Before you, there was no one. I was never interested, not even for a quick fuck. I never wanted a woman...or even a man, but then your dumb ass showed up and fucked everything up."

Levi had been a virgin in his past life and apparently, had died one. Such a notion wasn't entirely unbelievable considering just how unapproachable the captain had been in that life. He'd always kept everyone at arm's length for whatever reasons.  He knew the man had once been a criminal, had been born and raised in the cruel, hopeless Underground. Although Eren had never seen such a terrible place, he had heard many horror stories about it. It didn't take a doctor to know that Levi had suffered a lot of trauma in his past life. There were still many things Eren didn't know about him. All he knew was that Levi had lost his mother at a young age while living in a hellish, unforgiving cesspool of a world that required shady and/or demeaning acts just to somehow survive. He knew that the man had later lost friends, no, people he’d regarded as family. Losing people important to him had been all he knew as a child, an adolescent, and ultimately as an adult man, too. It wasn't surprising that the captain hadn't been eager to form more tight knit bonds with people he'd only lose in the end.

Another thing Eren had become aware of was despite Levi's confidence in his own abilities and in others, the man had some deep-rooted insecurities. He knew one of those insecurities had been about his own size, especially his height. Considering how the world was, it probably wasn't easy being a grown man the height of an average woman. Regardless, Eren had never cared about how tall Levi was even if at the beginning, his size had briefly surprised him. In this second life, the captain had managed to surpass Eren and even Erwin in height. Whether the captain was 6’1” or 5’3”, the younger soldier didn't particularly care just as long as Levi was still Levi. That was all that truly mattered to Eren.

Now pondering about how similar yet different Levi was to Eren, he chuckled a bit. Noticing the way Levi's sharp eyes narrowed at him, he quickly held a hand up and defended, "I'm not laughing at you, Levi. I'm laughing...because well, you'll see when I'm finished telling you everything.”

Arms crossed in what Eren knew was a  defensive gesture, the raven-haired man unhooked his arms to wave a hand in the other man's direction.  "So, enlighten me then, brat."

"Everything I told you in the paths was true. I grew up admiring you and that still hasn't changed, even now. I guess you could call it hero worship or whatever, but it took me a while to realize that…well, it was more than that,” explained Eren, his body shivering a bit from the slight chill in the air. Though he was aware that he was literally sitting outside nearly naked clad only in boxers, he didn’t seem to particularly care. He had more important things to worry about right now than his own comfort.

“The others noticed how much I looked up to you and Jean liked to joke that I had a crush on you. None of them actually believed it, though, not even Jean. That douche just liked to try and get a rise out of me whenever he could and however he could. And of course…I immediately denied the joke a bit too defensively,” continued the younger soldier, whose eyes crinkled a bit as he smiled. “I think the only one who noticed my strong reaction was Armin. As focused as I was on whatever I was doing, even I noticed Armin watching me more closely whenever you were around. I don’t know for sure if that’s true, it’s just an impression I had. You see, I had a lot of time while I was away to think about things.”

Glancing at Levi out of the corner of his eye, Eren thought the man might be blushing. Considering how poorly lit the world was now due to the sun retreating, he couldn’t be sure.

“Shitty Glasses noticed, too. She loved to rub it in about how starry eyed you were for me. I ignored her, of course. That woman was, and still is, batshit crazy and a menace to society,” revealed the raven-haired man as he scrubbed a hand over his face. He grimaced then as if suddenly aware that he had yet to shave. Under his breath, Eren thought he heard Levi mutter something about needing to shave that gross shit off.

Now that he thought back on those days, Eren could recall how gleeful Hanji had looked whenever she had spotted Levi interacting with him. She was like some biologist in the wild observing animals behave and chanting from the sidelines for them to mate. Had Eren stayed with them all, instead of running off to Marley, he wondered if Hanji would have tried playing matchmaker in that life, too. He wouldn’t put it past that insane woman.

“When I was away, especially in Marley, I had a lot of time to think about everything. I missed you guys more than anything else. I missed the little things…” Resumed Eren, his eyes unfocused as he remembered. Pain glistened in those viridian depths as he remembered the loneliness, the despair, and how much he longed to be around them all again. Running away had been the easy part; it was the staying away that had proven to be the hard part. “I missed the little things like training until our muscles screamed at us, being mothered by Mikasa, fighting with Jean, and even scrubbing everything clean until it made you happy. These were all normal, everyday things and I missed them terribly. It wasn’t easy to stay away, to do what I had to do. There were many days I almost left Marley to run back to you guys…”

“I wish you had,” quietly remarked Levi, his own slate eyes blurred from most likely walking down memory lane, as well.

Although he didn’t respond verbally to that comment, Eren couldn’t help silently agreeing with it, nevertheless. “You know, most of my life I spent focused on wanting to and attempting to kill all the titans. I never really stopped to think about what I wanted in life, besides being free. I didn’t think about having crushes, dating, sex, or even having a family. None of those things even occurred to me…until I had time to think about them, in Marley. One of the things I thought about a lot…was you, Levi.”

Gunmetal eyes snapped over to look at Eren then and despite the captain’s face being still heavily guarded, the younger man was still able to glimpse surprise and interest in those razor-sharp eyes. Hands curling against the cloth of his boxers, Eren confessed, “I realized that there had been some truth to Jean’s teasing, though it was more than just a crush. It was more, much more. In the Paths, I almost told you. I was so close to telling you, but I didn’t want to selfishly burden you with it, even if there was the slightest chance of you feeling the same. Even if you felt the same, I wanted you to move on and…”

“Just spit it out, Eren. What are you trying to say? I don’t care how much it hurts. Just…just say it already,” snapped the dark-haired veteran, his jaw tight while his storm gray eyes reflected anguish.

Considering how lengthy his explanation had become, Eren couldn’t fault the normally very patient Levi for beginning to lose his godlike patience. The older man reminded him of men on trial for murder sitting on the bench while waiting to hear their sentencing. Life or death, it had to be torturous sitting there for what felt like years, to finally hear what it would be.

Life or death.

“I love Mikasa, and I always will, but she’s not the one I’m in love with,” professed Eren as he turned his vibrant eyes to look at the beautiful man beside him. “It was always you, Levi. There was never anyone else, not even a one-night-stand. In our past life, I wanted to live a life with you. I still want that.”

Slowly standing up, the older soldier turned to face the long-haired man. Voice low, the stoic man quietly asked, “What did you say?”

Out of habit and respect, Eren stood up, as well, to face the slightly taller soldier. Despite himself, he couldn’t help releasing his brazen nature. As obedient as he usually was when it came to Levi, there was the occasional moment when he liked to push his buttons. Lifting his chin, Eren countered, “You heard me.”

Silver eyes narrowed dangerously at that as the captain moved forward, his long strides forcing the other male to back away until his back hit the wall of the house, near the balcony doors. Placing a hand on each side of Eren’s head, Levi caged him with his strong arms as he leaned in close, their breaths now mingling as one. “Tell me, Jäger. That’s an order.”

Body shuddering from the overwhelming proximity, the heady, enticing scent, and the authority of the older man, Eren felt utterly powerless to fight him. Not that he wanted to fight him, that was. Everything he had ever wanted was right here in front of him, ironically caging him in. Locking gazes with the raven-haired man, Eren then softly declared, “I love you, Levi Ackerman.”

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

As if a switch had been suddenly flipped, Levi, with pupils blown so wide his gunmetal eyes looked quite black, had crashed against Eren in an instant like a violent wave. Grabbing the younger man by his thighs, he lifted him up and pressed him hard against the wall all while he claimed Eren’s mouth in an fervent, bruising kiss that left them both panting and breathless. Grinding their hips together, Levi’s mouth worked on stealing the oxygen from the other man’s lungs with every swipe of his tongue, press of his lips, and scrape of his teeth.

Due to Eren often provoking Levi sexually, and yes, he did tend to tease the older man on purpose, Levi had taken to keeping a bottle of lube on him at all times. As rough as he could, and often would get, the taller man never wanted to hurt the shorter man. Perhaps it made him a horny little shit for jumping the captain every chance he got, but still, the green-eyed man couldn’t help it, though. He’d never felt this addicted to anyone before or had such good chemistry with another person. Levi was insanely hot and knew exactly what to do to drive Eren crazy in every way imaginable.  Although Eren tended to be the instigator that led to sex or some other physical activity (like cuddling or a massage), he knew Levi wanted it. The captain was the type of person to put his foot down whenever he needed to. If he wasn’t in the mood, or felt it might hurt Eren, then he would outright refuse, and the younger man would respect that. Fortunately, so far it hadn’t come to that just yet. Despite the silver-eyed man being at least thirteen years his senior, it was Eren, the younger man, who struggled to keep up with this beast of a sexmachine. Not that he’d ever admit that, of course.

Breaking the kiss, the raven-haired soldier trailed hot kisses and nips against the younger man’s jaw, his ear, and down his golden neck. Remembering how sensitive Eren’s neck was, Levi made sure to pay special attention to each inch of it by dragging teeth and marking skin with suck and bite of his strong mouth. Hands roved behind thighs and upwards to grope and knead Eren’s round, muscular ass while their clothed dicks rutted against one another.

Painfully aroused, and losing patience fast, the captain gave one last meaningful suck to the other man’s neck before he pulled his mouth away. Carefully lowering the younger man so that his bare feet touched the ground, the veteran released the younger male’s thighs from his iron grasp. Swatting the side of one of Eren’s thighs, he ordered, “Drop your boxers, turn around, press your hands to the wall, and spread your legs.”

“Out here?” Husked Eren, his lips wet and swollen. It was more a curious question than a protest. To be perfectly honest, the long-haired soldier didn’t give two shits where they had sex just as long as it happened.

Fishing a small bottle of lubricant out from one of his jacket pockets, Levi waved it in the other man’s face to show that he was serious. Tilting his head to the side, the taller male quipped, “Unless you don’t want to? I can just go inside and shave instead…”

“No, no!” Turquoise eyes widening even though it was clearly a joke, Eren quickly hooked his fingers under the waistband of his boxers before he forced them down his legs. Kicking his underwear away to the side, the long-haired man hastily turned around before assuming the specified position. He shivered in anticipation when he felt the older man move closer behind him, one hand skimming against the naked skin of his thigh and ass. Hearing the cap of the lube being opened, Eren still flinched a bit (more from mounting eagerness than anything else) when he felt slick fingers slip between his cheeks to prod at his orifice before entering one finger at a time. Shoving back impatiently, Eren panted from the strain of his own mounting arousal.

Smacking one of the younger man’s ass cheeks, Levi snorted, his voice still sounding fond. “Impatient brat. Hold still, I’m not hurting you. I don’t care how fast you heal, baby.”

“Fine, fine,” Eren huffed despite his mind barely coherent at this point. Hanging his head down between his arms, he curled his fingers against the wall while he felt the older man prepping him for something much larger and longer than fingers. It wasn’t long before he was rocking back onto fingers that curved inside him, searching for something specific. When they brushed against those special nerves, his back arched sharply as he cried out loudly. Unconcerned about the noise he was making, Levi continued to fuck Eren with his fingers until the younger man was on the verge of losing it.

Before the teal-eyed man knew it, the other man’s fingers had suddenly withdrawn from his body. Taking a hold of Eren by the shoulder, he was quickly spun around so that both men were facing one another again. Staring at Levi now, Eren realized the man looked just as wrecked as he himself felt right in that moment. Without a word, the older man hooked his hands under Eren’s thighs before he hoisted him up against the wall. Pants open and erect cock already pulled out and slicked with lubricant, Levi manhandled the other man so one leg was hooked around his hip while the other was bent against his chest.  

Holding onto his captain, the younger soldier touched every part of him that he could get to before eventually twisting his fingers in the man’s black, silken locks. Using the hair as leverage to yank Levi closer, Eren slotted their mouths together while he felt the head of the other man’s dick nudge at his rim before slowing easing in. Kiss broken and forehead pressed together, they both panted harshly as the veteran slowly, gently rolled his hips until every inch was swallowed to the hilt. Once fully seated, the taller man kissed all over the younger man’s face, ignoring Eren’s lips that tried to chase his own, before moving down to his sensitive neck. Starting to squirm now from the desperation for the other man to finally move, Eren gasped, “Fuck, Levi…”

Biting one of the green-eyed male’s earlobes, Levi throatily purred, “Ready for me, baby?”

“I’ve been ready since I was fifteen,” growled Eren, half joking and half serious as he wriggled impatiently.

“Shitty brat,” chuckled the captain, who had his hands hooked under Eren’s toned thighs now. Using them as leverage, he spread the younger man’s legs further apart before pulling out and ramming back inside his ass repeatedly. He seemed unconcerned by the nails that clawed at his skin and through his clothes, since at this point, he was clearly accustomed to being used as Eren’s personal scratching post. The only thing he seemed concerned about was fucking the younger man into ruined little pieces.

Being held up and fucked hard and fast into the wall, Eren couldn’t help marveling at the sheer (basically inhuman) strength of the other man considering the younger man knew he was heavy. It seemed effortless on Levi’s part to hold him up like this while he pounded into him at a pace that was nearly brutal and nearly too much. Any other man, especially a sleep deprived one like Levi, would have dropped Eren on his ass by now, or forced him to turn around and bend over, but not the captain. He clearly wanted to hold the position and seemed bent on watching all the ways the younger soldier’s face twisted in pure ecstasy. Every thrust into his body had Eren tossing his head back while wailing his pleasure for the world to hear. Whatever garbled words tumbled out of his mouth, if any, Eren wasn’t coherent enough for, though it was probably mostly clipped demands and Levi’s name stumbling from his moaning lips.

“Fucking roar for me, Eren,” commanded Levi as his thrusts became jerkier, which indicated that he was close to his own release. Adjusting his position so that he struck the younger man’s prostate now with every deep stroke into his violently writhing body, the older man hoarsely growled, “I want the world…to hear…that you are mine.”

Although he was barely coherent enough to focus on Levi’s words, they were still enough to push him over the edge. Tossing his head back as his eyes rolled into the back of his head, Eren was lost to his own euphoria, which crashed down upon him without mercy. If he screamed, laughed, or roared his ecstasy to the world, he just didn’t know. In spite of that, when he did open his eyes to look at the other man, Levi’s smug, blissed out expression was enough of an answer for him.

After both men had sufficiently calmed down, Levi had led Eren to the bathroom to quickly shower and shave them both. After they were both clean and dried off, he’d led the younger man to his room, well their shared bedroom. The captain didn’t even pause to grab, let alone glance at, his phone from Eren’s old room. Opening their bedroom door, they slipped inside before Levi locked the door. Crawling into the cold, yet clean bed, the taller soldier pulled Eren on top of him in their usual position. Sheet already thrown over their naked bodies, it trapped the heat and quickly helped to warm up the bed.

Face half buried by Levi’s hairless, yet scarred chest, Eren pressed against him, winding his arms more tightly around him as if afraid that he’d wake up and the older man would be gone. Now that he remembered everything, a part of him was afraid that he didn’t deserve this and would be alone again like he’d been in Marley. Although it had been his choice at the time, the thought of being alone, of being without Levi and the others, was a very real fear of his. 

“I love you, too,” confessed Levi quietly while he slowly threaded his graceful fingers through Eren’s long, tangled hair, gently working out each stubborn little wet tangle.

Despite still being uncertain that he deserved to be happy and loved, Eren knew without a doubt, that out of everyone, Levi deserved both of those things. And while he knew that the slate-eyed man loved him, had felt it from his actions time and time again, it still felt good to actually hear the words from the veteran. Anyone else could casually utter such words like it was nothing, but not Levi. If the captain said them, he meant them and wouldn’t say it to just anyone. Feeling those words warm him better than any alcohol or drug ever could, Eren’s own fears and insecurities ebbed away until all he knew was the sound of the other man’s soft breathing and steadily beating heart.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~