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Maintaining eye contact is something Erwin Smith inclines to do, despite the (almost) nonexistent reciprocity.

He doesn’t blame others for this particular lack of mutuality. Most people are eyelevel with his chest, the topmost blade of his shoulders, or the lining of his mouth. Never his eyes. New cadets and recruits are easy to recognize because they report to him with an admirable straight back and perfect poise, their gazes respectfully trained at the gleaning stone of his bolo tie; while other people would look at his mouth when he is talking – and he wonders, briefly, if that would make them feel more comfortable to believe his words.

“They just think it’s scary,” Hanji’s honesty is effortless and comforting, something he learns to know even without having to search for it. “Sometimes the way you look at people’s faces is too intense.”

With her, eye contact is unnecessary; every time she says something her glasses reflect different images, deeper meanings which do not fall in line with her easy grin. Most importantly, Hanji’s eyes don’t really see things that are as senselessly obvious as people, and for Erwin, the body language of her playful fist bump on his shoulder is more than enough.

Mike is the only one being tall enough to meet his gaze, an opportunity which the man doesn’t take – Mike doesn’t really use his eyes. Their conversations are silent and mostly with Mike walking on his back, nose buried in his hair, and Erwin knows the sound of his shuffles being shortened to compensate for having longer legs. His consideration relieves Erwin in a way only Mike Zacharias does, because that way, he lets Erwin maintain his sight forward.

Strangely surprising: the fact that Levi is the only one who returns his gaze.

It fills his chest with something thick and liquid-like, seeping slowly through his lungs, when he knows how Levi is accustomed – trained, actually, and more than half of it was Erwin’s own fault – to direct his focus on the back of everyone’s front, at the nape of anything that’s bigger than himself. He knows the sweep of Levi’s eyes when he meets other people, a careful second when he relocates his gaze from the hindmost of their necks to properly meet their faces.

But if Levi looks at him, it’s always straight to his eyes, and the intensity of it keeps them locked to each other. Erwin knows what Levi is thinking, so sometimes he dips his head a fraction of inch downwards to look at him, a playful gesture that reminds him of Levi’s charming size; and the movement bares the back of his neck a little better. A little teaser, a little reminder.

And if there are twitches on Levi’s posture – small jerks on his hips, the way he maintains aerodynamic balance, the body language every time he looks up to Erwin’s sky blue eyes, as though he is flying –

Erwin never says anything.

“Don’t ever close them,” Levi tells him suddenly, one night, when Erwin’s blood loss almost exceeds human limit as there are throbs over his wounds, pressed under Levi’s palm that the bleeding stops and the pain keeps him awake. “Don’t you dare, Erwin.”

And if Erwin understands Levi’s fear, if he never sleeps, if he fights even harder to keep alive –

Levi never says anything.

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 (and looking at you

makes me feel

 so high ).

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