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Heart of Ink

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Paper clutched tightly in his hand, Eren pushed through the door into the small, hole-in-the-wall tattoo parlour. A bell jangled above his head as the door shut behind him, and Eren glanced around. The room he was in was almost like the waiting room at a doctor's office. Chairs lined two of the walls sandwiched between little end tables filled with binders. The walls were covered in a collection of unique tattoo designs, almost creating an impression of wallpaper.

 

"Hiya cutie! My name's Hanji. How can I help?" a voice caught his attention and Eren looked over to the desk directly in front of the door. The person who spoke was tall and slightly lanky, her hair up in a ponytail and her glasses reflecting the sun shining in through the door and windows. Eren could see that she had a complete sleeve of tattoos on her left arm, with the designs creeping up around her neck and beginning to snake down her right arm.

 

"Uh..." Eren clutched the paper in his hand a little tighter and cleared his throat. "I want to get a tattoo."

 

Hanji chuckled. "Well you've come to the right place! First, I'll need to see some ID though."

 

"Oh, how come?" Eren wondered as he fished out his wallet and handed his driver's license over.

 

"People need to be at least eighteen to get a tattoo..." Hanji explained and then paused. Eren felt himself deflate, knowing his ID proclaimed him to be seventeen. Hanji's eyes lifted to Eren and then glanced around as though expecting to find someone else. Her smile remained encouraging. "Or if they're underage they just need parental oversight."

 

Eren felt his throat tighten. "And if that's not possible?"

 

Hanji glanced at his ID one last time and then held it out for Eren to take. "It's only six months until your birthday. Trust me, it feels like a long way away now but before you know it, you'll be eighteen and you can get your tattoo."

 

Hanji was trying to be nice, and Eren appreciated that this was a rule she had to uphold. But that didn't stop Eren from clenching his teeth as frustration welled up inside him. "You don't understand. I need to get it today. I've already had to wait a week—" Eren cut himself off. No way was he going to spill that story.

 

"Aw hun, I'm really sorry," Hanji's eyes were genuinely sad. "I'd tattoo you myself when my shift at the front ends but Levi would cut out my guts and strangle me with them."

 

Eren raised a confused eyebrow. "Who?"

 

"Levi, the artist who owns this place," Hanji explained. "I've been his friend forever but that wouldn't stop him from murdering me. And as cute as you are, kid, I don't want to die."

 

"Let me talk to him then," Eren requested, though it probably sounded more like a demand. He had already been waiting all week for an opportunity to come here. He wasn't about to give up now.

 

"He's with a client right now," Hanji said.

 

Eren had already made up his mind. "I'll sit and wait." Hanji didn't argue so Eren sat down in one of the chairs against the wall.

 

Hanji hummed to herself as she did some work behind the desk. Eren did another scan of the room and the designs on the wall. Everything was orderly and spotlessly clean. Even all of the lines in the designs on the wall were crisp and precise. Not knowing how long he would have to wait, Eren carefully placed his sheet of paper on the chair beside him, spent a few moments working out the wrinkles caused by his clenched hand, and then grabbed one of the binders from the end table in the corner to flip through more tattoo designs inside.

 

Eren lost track of time but at one point Eren heard feet approaching from further inside the building. A tall man with short blond hair and broad, muscular shoulders walked out into the lobby. Blue eyes landed on him and the man offered Eren a pleasant smile before standing in front of the desk. Money was handed over and Hanji set it away. "Will we see you again soon, Erwin? I think Levi missed you," Hanji smirked.

 

Erwin laughed warmly. Eren couldn't see any tattoos on the man's body but considering that he had just come from the back and was apparently a regular, his tattoos must be hidden below his clothing. "Sadly not, Hanji. There's a good chance I may be deployed in the next week or two. I just wanted one more tattoo before I go."

 

"Well you better take care of yourself and come to visit us as soon as you're back," Hanji smacked Erwin's arm.

 

Before Erwin could say anything else, another man stepped out from the back. This man was almost laughably short compared to Erwin, though Eren didn't dare laugh. The man's face and gray eyes were stern and serious, and his black hair was cropped slightly at the back. Eren could also make out the definition of strong muscles across the man's body.

 

"Thank you as always, Levi," Erwin smiled at the man. "Your work exceeds expectation every time."

 

"Yeah, yeah, you're fucking welcome," Levi waved him off. "Just try to not get shot in the damn head, would you?"

 

"I'll do my best," Erwin smiled one last time and then left the tattoo parlour.

 

Levi watched the blond man go and then turned to consider Eren, who did his best to not gulp too noticeably. "You here for a tattoo, brat?"

 

"Yes!" Eren said immediately, snatching up his piece of paper and standing quickly.

 

"No," Hanji said at the same time, causing Levi to turn away. "He's underage and doesn't have a parent with him."

 

"She said you'd kill her if she tattooed me, so I wanted to ask you," Eren said.

 

Levi shook his head and sent Hanji another glance before glaring at Eren. "First of all, don't call Hanji 'she'."

 

"Huh?" Eren grunted, confused by the sudden topic change.

 

"I identify as non-binary," Hanji explained. Hanji didn't seem too upset but Eren still felt bad. "Just avoid gendered pronouns, or just use my name."

 

"Okay," Eren winced. "Sorry about that."

 

"Second," Levi cut in before the tangent progressed further. "We can't help you if you're not eighteen and don't have a parent, so get your underage ass out of here."

 

"No, I need to get the tattoo today!" Eren snapped, voice louder than he had meant.

 

Suddenly Levi was in his face. Eren tried to step back to put some space between them and nearly fell backwards into the chair. "No you fucking don't," Levi stated. "You expect me to risk getting in shit with the law just because you're too thick to understand the concept of patience?"

 

Eren knew he was being a brat but he jutted his bottom lip out. "It's important to me."

 

"News flash: I'm not your damn boyfriend so I don't give a shit about what's important to you," Levi looked like he was about to turn on his heel and leave but then his eye caught the paper in Eren's hand. He ripped it from Eren's grasp before Eren could fend him off. "Let's see what a shithead like you thinks is so important that the wishes of others mean nothing."

 

"Hey, give it back!" Eren begged and reached for it but Levi kept him at bay with one strong arm. Eren knew he wouldn't understand.

 

Levi considered the drawing for a moment and then looked up, giving Eren an unimpressed look. "You want a fucking cherry blossom tattoo? How about I just tattoo a rainbow across your face?"

 

"It's important to me," Eren said again, voice strangled. He wouldn't cry; not here. He was tired of crying. It was all he seemed to do these days.

 

"No need to cry about it, kid. Geez," Levi frowned.

 

"Levi..." Hanji warned quietly from where zhe had remained behind the desk.

 

Levi gave a long suffering sigh and rolled his eyes. "Fine. Why is it so important to you?"

 

"Fuck off," Eren tried to reach for the paper again but Levi held it behind his back. "You just said you didn't care."

 

"And then I asked, didn't I?" Levi raised an eyebrow. "I won't ask again."

 

Eren bit his bottom lip and fought to keep his voice even. "The drawing was done by my mom. She always wanted to get a tattoo of it."

 

"And you're getting it instead?" Levi questioned. Finally he held out the piece of paper in offering and Eren snatched it back. "If your mom is so into tattoos then get her to come with you. We can get you sorted then."

 

"I can't," Eren held the paper against his chest.

 

"Scared to tell your mom you want a flower tattooed on you?" Levi teased, one corner of his lips twitching up.

 

Eren swallowed. "No. She died last week."

 

Levi's smirk dropped like he had tasted something unpleasant. Then he turned and began moving towards the back room. "Fine, get your ass in here already," Levi called after him when Eren didn't immediately follow.

 

Hanji gave him an encouraging nod and Eren shuffled into the back hallway. There were four doors, two on each side. Levi opened the closest one on the right and left it open for Eren to continue following. Eren found himself in a relatively small room with two chairs, a spotless counter with a sink, and a tray of tools. This had to be where Levi did his work.

 

Levi sat down in the chair with rollers that looked more like a stool except for the slight back support. Eren sat down nervously in the chair for people getting tattoos. The shape and angle of it reminded Eren of the dentist. "So you're going to give me a tattoo?"

 

Levi hummed in response and held out a hand. Eren offered the paper with the drawing again and Levi studied it. "So you want this design exactly, right?"

 

Eren nodded. "As close as you can get it, yeah."

 

He must've said something wrong because Levi scowled. "I'm nice enough to actually consider your request, despite the risk with the law, and you insult my ability. Rude."

 

"I didn't mean it as an insult," Eren rushed to say. Levi didn't seem to be listening as he grabbed a sketchpad and pencil from one of the drawers. "It's just that my mom drew it and I don't know if anyone could recreate it exactly."

 

Levi still wasn't acknowledging him, merely flipping open to a blank page and beginning to draw. Eren shifted in his seat uncomfortably, not knowing if he should stay or leave. A part of him wanted to lean over to see Levi's drawing but didn't want to piss off the man further. After a few minutes Levi flipped the sketchpad around to display the identical drawing of a cherry blossom. If there were any differences from the original, Eren couldn't tell.

 

"Satisfactory?" Levi drawled.

 

"Holy shit," Eren breathed and then swallowed. "I mean, yeah, it's amazing."

 

Levi's lips twitched before he set the sketchpad back in his lap. "And you want it just like that?"

 

"Yeah. But with my mom's birth and—" Eren fought the lump in his throat, "death date along the stem."

 

Levi stared at Eren and then looked back down. "What are the dates?"

 

"1968 to 2015," Eren offered quietly.

 

Levi added another scribble and then held the drawing up for further inspection. "Good?"

 

Eren was already nodding. "It's perfect." Levi's scrawl was simple and beautiful, the dates hugging the inside curve of the cherry blossom's stem.

 

Levi tore the page out and handed it over for Eren to study in detail while he set aside the sketchpad and pencil. "Where do you want it? It would probably look good following the curve of your shoulder blade. Incredibly gay as well, but you've already condemned yourself to that."

 

Eren rolled his eyes. "I don't care about that. I have nothing to hide. And I like your idea of the shoulder blade. Maybe the left one?"

 

"Yeah," Levi agreed, sitting back in his chair. "It would probably take me two hours since I don't want to rush it. Pricing depends on if you want colour or just the outline. The pink hues would probably look good on your tanned skin."

 

Eren couldn't explain why he was blushing. "What would the difference in prices be?"

 

"An outline I could give you for about $100," Levi said. "Colour, we're looking at $150 to $200 at least."

 

Eren wilted. "Uh..."

 

Levi was surprisingly perceptive. "How much do you have available?"

 

"$60," Eren said meekly.

 

Levi pursed his lips and took the drawing back from Eren's hands to set it on the counter beside Eren's mom's original drawing. Eren's heart plummeted but before he could begin begging, Levi spoke up again. "We could accept that as a deposit and you could bring the rest later." Eren's eyes remained on the floor. "What's the problem now?"

 

"I..." Eren clenched his eyes closed. "$60 is all I have."

 

Levi grunted. "What about your dad? I'm sure he could cough up a few dollars to honour your mom."

 

"He's gone," Eren sighed. "He left shortly after my thirteenth birthday, right after my mom got diagnosed with cancer." Eren couldn't believe he was telling all of this to a stranger, and yet he felt unable to stop. "He said he couldn't bear to watch his wife fade away. I haven't heard from him since."

 

"You have a shitty life."

 

"Fuck you," Eren said on instinct. He didn't need Levi telling him that; Eren was already more than aware.

 

The sound of fingers drumming on the counter caught Eren's attention. Levi wasn't really focused on anything in particular, staring at the wall as his fingers tapped in a row. "Tell you what, kid," Levi began and then paused, looking at Eren. "I feel bad for you. So I'll do the tattoo for $60 and you can come in and work off the rest by covering the front counter. Hanji and I both hate doing it; we'd rather be tattooing."

 

"I don't want your pity," Eren spat.

 

Levi didn't look fazed. "But you do want your tattoo, and that's my deal."

 

Eren huffed but already knew his decision. Still, for some reason, Levi just made Eren want to be difficult, "I have school during the week."

 

"Well thank shit for that," Levi turned away and began pulling open some of the cupboards to grab necessary tools. Eren saw ink, wrapped sterile needles, and gloves being set out first. "We're usually open 11am until 7pm on weekdays, and later on Saturdays and Sundays. We take Mondays and Tuesdays off. How quick could you get here after school?"

 

"I could probably get here around 4pm," Eren estimated, watching as Levi continued to set up.

 

"Good. 4pm to 7pm you're here Wednesday to Friday, and 3pm to 9pm on Saturdays, understand?" Levi didn't look up.

 

Eren silently wondered how he would have time to get all his homework done, but guessed that it should only take a week or two at most to pay off his tattoo. It would be worth it, so he didn't argue. "Yeah, okay."

 

Levi nodded. "Then go out and give $30 to Hanji and get a receipt."

 

"$30?" Eren clarified as he stood up.

 

"It's not like I'm going to leave you with no money in case of an emergency," Levi said as if he was offended by Eren's question. "And you're going to pay it off anyway."

 

Eren didn't point out that he could easily leave the parlour with his completed tattoo and never come back, because he didn't plan on doing that. He recognized that he should be very grateful to Levi, and he was. So he scurried out and gave Hanji his money, explaining the deal when zhe asked. He didn't linger when Hanji shooed him back into the hallway, and Eren saw that Levi was prepared when he returned.

 

"Shirt off and lie down on your stomach," Levi ordered as he pulled a pair of tight gloves on. Eren ignored the weird twisting sensation in his stomach and did as he was told. His shirt ended up on the counter and Eren lay down on the chair which had been adjusted to be flat like a bench seat. "You do have two hours to spare, right?" Levi asked as he rolled his seat and tray of equipment closer.

 

"Yeah," Eren said. Truthfully he would probably get in deep shit for disappearing from the foster home without giving any indication of where he had gone, but he wasn't exactly in a rush to go back.

 

Eren heard a cap clicking open and then the smell of rubbing alcohol had his nose scrunching up. A cool swab brushed over his left shoulder blade precisely. Then a wrapper crinkled. Eren tried to look over his shoulder and Levi held the newly-opened razor out for inspection. "I'm not exactly hairy."

 

"Even the hairs you can't see could fuck up the whole thing." Levi's empty hand pressed against the middle of Eren's back to flatten him out. "If you want to have a fucked up tattoo, that's your business." Eren said nothing as the razor passed lightly over his skin, but it still felt weird. "Now the stencil," Levi murmured as he pressed what felt like light fabric against the skin of his left shoulder blade and upper back.

 

"A stencil?" Eren couldn't help but tease. "I thought you were a super skilled artist or something like that. Guess I was wrong if you need to trace like in kindergarten."

 

It seemed obvious to Eren when Levi spoke next that his jaw was clenched. "How about I tattoo 'shitty brat' on your back instead, hm? That would be a good story."

 

"No, let's stick to the original plan," Eren squeaked. Levi chuckled and Eren's eyes drifted closed. The fabric was peeled away slowly and he could imagine an outline of his future tattoo on his skin. "Hey, Levi?" Levi grunted. "Thank you."

 

Levi's fingers against Eren's skin paused for just a moment and then they were gone. "You've had a shitty time," Levi said as his only explanation. "Now, everyone has a different opinion on the pain level of this. The only two important things to remember are to tell me if you need a break, and to breathe. I'm not scooping you up in my arms if you're a moron and faint."

 

Eren laughed and Levi smacked his leg. "Hey!" Eren squawked.

 

"And stay fucking still, dammit," Levi added.

 

He couldn't help but tense up when he felt Levi leaning over him and heard the machine with the needle power up. It was hard to not hold his breath in anticipation, not knowing what to expect. The first prick of the needle had Eren winching as the air left his lungs in a rush.

 

The needle continued piercing his skin quickly, Eren's body tensed and his skin burning. Eren could feel tears prickling the corners of his eyes but the pain wasn't bad enough to make them fall. And as the seconds turned into minutes, Eren's skin adjusted to the sensation and it turned into a slightly discomforting pinching.

 

"Still alive?" Levi asked sometime later.

 

"Mhm," Eren mumbled into his arms where they were crossed with his head resting on them.

 

They both fell back into silence, the room only filled with the sound of the machine. Eren lost track of the time, and though the sensation of the needle was still uncomfortable, Eren was confused when he felt his pants growing a bit tight. It started with his skin feeling overheated, followed by the building urge to shift his weight.

 

Eren figured that he was just in need of a break and opened his mouth to say so. Instead, a weak moan escaped his parted lips when Levi used one hand to pin Eren's hip to the chair. "Why are you so fucking wiggly all of a sudden?" Levi grumbled. His hand disappeared just as quickly after Eren's moan. "What the fuck?" The machine powered down and the needle and Levi's hands left Eren's skin. "Are you getting a hard on?"

 

Eren's embarrassment was overwhelming but he had just enough awareness to be confused by Levi's tone. He didn't sound horrified or angry, just exasperated. "I don't know what happened," Eren whined, wanting to run away but very aware of the sight he would present with his tented pants.

 

Levi's voice surprised him again, shockingly... reassuring. "Chill out. It's more common than you think. Just a normal bodily reaction some people have to slight pain."

 

Eren wanted to stop existing, pronto. "I'm sorry."

 

He heard the machine being set down and Levi's chair being wheeled back. "I'm going to go stretch my legs. If you must, the bathroom is the next door down on the right. Might want to consider it since we have over an hour of colouring to do, but if I find a speck of jizz in there, I will wring your neck."

 

The door opened and closed and Eren was left in the room alone. The thought of release was tempting, but Eren was honestly too mortified to even move. Plus, his skin was throbbing and Eren didn't want to risk causing any damage to the tattoo, if that was a possibility.

 

The minutes ticked by on the clock hanging on the wall. Eren shifted his hips a few more times but froze when the door opened again. "Better?" Levi asked as he returned to his chair. "Because I really don't want to have to stop halfway through the shading."

 

"Um..." Eren bit his lip, not knowing what to say. He didn't want to piss Levi off though, and be kicked out with a half-completed tattoo. "Yeah, I'm good," he said. Which wasn't quite a lie but wasn't entirely truthful either.

 

The needle powered up but Eren only made it for another thirty seconds before his hips were shifting and another strangled moan filled the room. Silence fell as the needle was put back on the tray and Levi sighed. "You know, I'd like to finish this tattoo so I can actually go home sometime tonight. Is that too much to ask?"

 

"I'm sorry." Eren couldn't think of what else to say as he buried his face in the crook of his arm. Eren had come here to get a tattoo, not to discover a new kink under the attention of his unfortunately attractive tattoo artist.

 

He heard gloves being dragged off. Eren yelped and then whimpered when Levi pinched the skin on Eren's lower back carefully between two smooth fingers. "I told you to go to the bathroom."

 

"Levi..." Eren whined and then gasped when Levi's other hand pressed down firmly on Eren's lower back where his tailbone was. Eren's cock twitched as it was shoved against the chair, which was already hot from Eren's body heat. "Levi."

 

Levi didn't say anything. He just pinched a line up the curve of Eren's back, just sharply enough to send jolts down Eren's spine to his pulsing cock. Eren's hips had found a rhythm now, rutting in a needy manner against the chair. His fingers clutched at the edges of the chair, Eren's mouth falling open as he panted harshly.

 

It didn't last long, though it felt like he had been waiting to come since lying down with Levi above him. With one last pinch to his skin and the sensation of Levi putting a bit more of his weight behind his hand holding Eren down, Eren cried out and arched violently. He could feel his come spilling into his boxers and all Eren could do was shudder.

 

"What...?" he struggled to catch his breath, his ears ringing from the force of his orgasm. "What the hell?"

 

"Now can we continue?" Levi drawled as he stood up and walked over to the sink, washing his hands.

 

Eren rested his head back down on his arms and watched Levi through glassy eyes. "You just got me off."

 

"I didn't go anywhere near your dick," Levi refuted. "I pinched your skin and you rutted yourself into oblivion like a whore."

 

Eren knew he was blushing but he didn't look away. "But still..." he shifted his weight and then grimaced when he felt how damp and sticky his boxers were against his softening cock.

 

Levi shrugged and dried his hands, pulling his gloves back on. He sat back down, out of Eren's view unless Eren sat up on his elbows. "The law and I never really got along anyway. What's a few more sins added on the tally board? Now for the love of fuck," the machine buzzed to life again. "Lie still."

 

In Eren's post-orgasmic haze he melted into the chair, barely noticing the needle piercing his skin. He was still hyper aware of the warmth seeping into his back from Levi's hand but that just left Eren further relaxed. Eren didn't pay attention to the time. He knew his pants and boxers would be uncomfortable the longer he stayed there, but he was in no rush to leave.

 

Eren's embarrassment faded the longer he lay there on the chair. He should be mortified by what had happened, but with Levi acting so nonchalant about the whole thing, it was easy to let the moment slide. Still, Eren felt self-conscious enough to avoid starting conversation first. To his surprise, Levi was the one to speak up. "So where are you headed after this with your dad having run off?

 

Eren didn't see a reason to not answer. "A foster home a few blocks away. Until I'm eighteen, any money that wasn't used for mom's treatment is locked away in the bank for safe keeping," he said bitterly. "Once I'm eighteen I'll be on my own. I guess I'll need to find a cheap apartment or something."

 

"Breathe," Levi instructed. Only then did Eren realize he had been holding his breath and clenching his hands into fists at his sides. When Eren struggled to do as he was told, the thumb of Levi's free hand massaged the middle of Eren's spine. "Maybe someone will adopt you or something," Levi said as he continued tattooing.

 

"People like to adopt cute little babies," Eren argued. "Not teenagers with anger issues."

 

Levi said nothing else and Eren didn't know what to say either so they returned to listening to the machine whir. Before Eren was entirely ready, the needle left his skin. "All done, but don't move," Levi ordered. Eren remained where he was, focused half on the stinging of his skin and also on Levi's footsteps. A few moments later Levi was kneeling by Eren's head and holding up the display screen of a camera. "What do you think?"

 

Levi flipped between two photos. The first was a close-up of Eren's new tattoo – which was stunning. The second was a photo of Eren's entire back to show the placement of the tattoo along Eren's shoulder blade. However, Eren struggled to focus on anything other than the line of little red marks along his lower back. Eren shuddered slightly at the memory of his orgasm. "Can I get a copy of the photos?"

 

Levi sent him an odd look. "I can print them off for you when you come by on Wednesday. Now how about some fucking praise for such a masterpiece despite my wiggly canvas."

 

Eren's eyes sought Levi's. "It's perfect, thank you."

 

Levi looked away and stood up. "You're welcome," Levi's voice was gruff. "Stay put. I still need to clean and bandage you up." Eren remained where he was as Levi washed the skin over his new tattoo and then patted it dry with a towel gently. Next Eren felt a bandage being pressed down. "Leave the bandage on for a few hours, and don't scratch your skin at all."

 

"Sounds doable," Eren agreed. Levi's hands had left his skin but Eren remained lying down.

 

Levi nudged his hip. "Up. You're all done and it's time for me to go home."

 

Eren sat up on the chair and took the little box Levi handed him. "What's this?"

 

"A bar of antibiotic soap." Eren tried to not laugh at the oddness of that and instead listened as Levi continued to speak. "It'll be a little hard for you to reach but try to use it with warm water a few times a day on your tattoo." Levi rolled the tray of tools closer to the sink. Some things would get cleaned while others, like the needles, would be put in the disposal. "Oh, I nearly forgot. Do you have an ice pack you can use when you get back?"

 

Eren couldn't express how grateful he was that Levi didn't accidentally say 'back home'. "No, I don't."

 

Levi sighed tiredly and rubbed at his eyes with the back of his wrist. "Lie back down on the chair." Levi disappeared from the room and when he returned he set an ice pack on Eren's bandage, cooling Eren's overheated skin.

 

Levi returned to the sink and cleaned up silently. Eren crossed his arms and rested his head on them, watching Levi work. "Why are you being so nice to me?" he wondered aloud.

 

Levi didn't look back over his shoulder, focused on his cleaning. "Should I not be?"

 

"That's not what I'm saying," Eren said. "I just don't know what to think."

 

"Don't hurt yourself," Levi teased and then sobered when Eren didn't laugh. Eren wished Levi would turn around and look at him, but Eren wasn't going to make anymore demands tonight. "Don't think about it. I just wanted to make your day a little less shitty."

 

"But why?"

 

"Because I fucking felt like it," Levi shot back. "And I could."

 

The cleaning had been finished, everything put away and Levi's hands washed for what must be the hundredth time. "Levi..." Eren wished he could think of more meaningful words. "Thank you."

 

"Yeah yeah, no need to get sappy about it," Levi rolled his eyes and plucked the ice pack from Eren's back. "You can make it up to me by covering the front counter starting Wednesday so I don't have to. But for now, it's late."

 

Eren glanced at the clock. "It's not that late, you old man."

 

"Don't get between me and my sleep," Levi warned and walked out of the room, calling back to Eren. "Don't forget to turn the light off before coming out front."

 

Eren was left alone. He pulled on his shirt carefully, not wanting to peel off the bandage. Then he grabbed the paper with his mom's original drawing, folded it to put safely in his pocket, and flicked off the light on his way out. Hanji and Levi were both by the front door waiting for him.

 

"Do I get to see it?" Hanji asked excitedly, bouncing on the balls of zher feet.

 

"The bandage is on and we're leaving," Levi said quickly. "I'll show you on the camera tomorrow."

 

"And you can see it when I'm back on Wednesday to cover the counter," Eren offered. He would probably have to hide the tattoo from the people in charge at the foster home, so he wanted to show off the tattoo to anyone else who was interested. "It's amazing."

 

Hanji had a glint in zher eyes. "I bet. Well, can't wait to see you Wednesday! Have a good night."

 

"You too," Eren smiled at them as he passed through the door. Hanji and Levi turned off the lights and locked the door behind them. Eren lingered and tried to not be disappointed when he saw Levi turning to walk in the opposite direction of the foster home. "Goodnight!" Eren said quickly.

 

Levi paused and looked at him, nodding his head. "Goodnight, brat."

 

Hanji squealed. "You two are so precious!"

 

"Fuck off," Levi said and began walking away, Hanji at his side. Eren forced himself to turn and walk in the other direction, though the only thing he could think about was how excited he was for Wednesday to come.