The city was so ruined by the time the last titan fell, Eren didn’t recognized it at all. He couldn’t figure out if he was sad about that; he was so tired that emotions were hard to parse apart. He had been angry earlier, sad earlier, but now. Now there was just the faint shaking in his limbs as he crawled out of his smoking, decomposing titan form and out onto the rubble. What he did feel, through the head spinning misery of being transformed for so long and having fought so much, was a faint sense of finality.
Reiner was dead. In the last moment, Eren hadn’t wanted it to happen, but Mikasa’s blades were as swift as her temper. Reiner had fallen dead and in his place had risen Bertholdt, who’s roar had been thick with misery and the promise of revenge.
Bertholdt had been harder to fight than Reiner. In part size had been the issue, but also exhaustion; Eren had relied heavily on Armin’s quick thinking and the human squads coming to his aid. The crashing sound Bertholdt’s body had made still echoed in Eren’s head as he lay on the ground, trying to recover.
After the fall of the two titans – after the fall of the boys he had trained with, fought with, learned beside for years and years; after the death of his friends – there hadn’t been any titans left inside the city. But the battle had taken so long that by the time Eren had turned from Bertholdt’s body, the green flares signaling their victory had already been caught in the wind, dragged across the sky over the ruined city.
Green flares meant victory; Eren knew that. And victory meant the Beast Titan had either left or been killed. Last he had seen of Levi he’d been heading toward the Beast Titan, outside the wall. If anyone knew where Levi was now – because he had to be somewhere; Reiner and Bertholdt could fall, but not Levi, never Levi, Eren wouldn’t let him – they would be over the wall. Eren sat up with a groan, limbs heavy. He hated this part. He hated feeling so weak inside his own body. He almost wished someone like Jean or Mikasa would appear out of the rubble, to give him a fucking hand staying upright.
But no one appeared and Eren staggered through the pieces of knocked apart buildings, down the streets he had run through as a child. He pointed himself at the wall, hopefully toward Trost and not the outside world he had once been craving to see, and then wobbled on. He was halfway there before there was the ever so familiar whoosh of an expelling gas tank and a figure in a tattered, dirty green Survey Corps cloak descended from the air.
Eren recognized him instantly, shoulders sagging with a wave of relief that almost knocked his knees out from under him. Levi, who he would have known blind, hit the ground with too much gas and shrugged off the remains of the cloak as he surged forward, towards Eren.
“Oh thank fuck,” Levi swore and Eren felt that, deep in his chest, the kind of relief that dripped from Levi’s hoarse familiar voice. Three steps, longer and larger than Eren would have thought possible for his captain’s – his love’s – short stature, and then Levi was crashing into Eren’s chest, pressing up against him, and they were staggering back, Eren’s knees going out from under him but-
“I’ve got you,” Levi muttered, twisting so that with one sliding stumble of a shifting step Eren was pressed back against the mostly upright intact section of wall from a building too ruined to ever call shelter. Pinned and propped up between the old wall and Levi’s front, Eren let himself sag, just barely managing to wind his arms around Levi’s shoulders before he dropped his head on the shorter man’s shoulder.
“You’re here,” Eren said. He pressed his nose against Levi’s throat, which he knew should have felt warm, but it didn’t. Levi felt like a winter’s wind against his skin and Eren pressed forward into the feeling, his heart stuttering in his chest with a lurch. He felt weightless and heavy, all at once. Levi pressed them further together, pinning Eren securely against the wall, and he made a small noise against Levi’s throat, fisting his fingers in the back of Levi’s dusty, sweaty white shirt with the little bit of strength he had left.
“I’m right here,” Levi promised. Eren’s chest clenched and he laughed a little, because there was nothing left to do but laugh. His body trembled with the exhausted mirth of the moment and Eren felt Levi’s body tremble in response, just before he felt Levi twist, lips brushing his hairline.
Eren groaned at the gentle feeling, craning his head to catch those lips with his. Levi huffed a laugh, shifting to kiss him, and his lips pressed a smile against Eren’s own heat cracked lips. The kiss was as gentle as the brush of lips against his temple, but Eren was fine with that; he clung to Levi, shuddering at the ghosting sensation of Levi’s hands as they slid down his sides, cold even through the worn out material of Eren’s shirt. One hand slid down to Eren’s hip and curled there, fingers hooking in one of the straps remaining from his gear, but the other slipped beneath Eren’s shirt, the sensation of which had him arching, gasping weakly against gently curving lips.
“Ah,” Eren moaned, tipping his head, shivering at the way Levi bit softly on his lower lip before the shorter man used Eren’s slumped, pinned position to rise on his tiptoes, pressing kisses all the way from the corner of Eren’s mouth up his cheek to his eyelid. Levi pressed one quick butterfly light kiss on one eyelid, tipped Eren’s head lower and pressed a kiss to Eren’s eyebrow, then the other one, and then finally to Eren’s other eyelid.
Eren’s heart clenched at the tenderness he was being shown and he whispered Levi’s name as the man pressed kisses from the crest of Eren’s other cheek back down to the corner of his mouth.
“I missed you,” Levi confessed quietly. Eren’s throat closed over with emotions he was too tired to name. “I wanted to be here, with you, but-“
“Orders are order,” Eren murmured. Armin had told him about Levi’s orders, to protect the horses, to kill the Beast Titan. The thought made him cling to Levi’s shoulders a little tighter, even though Levi was fine, safe in his arms. He pressed his lips to the corner of Levi’s mouth, kissing his way long Levi’s jaw slowly. “It’s okay. You’re here now.”
Levi’s fingers, the ones against his hip and the ones under his shirt, curled. Eren’s chest clenched at that habit, one he recognized in Levi only too well. He slid one of his hands down, off Levi’s shoulders to smooth down his back, fingers curling reassuringly against the small of Levi’s back, where his belts crossed. Levi nudged their noses together with a duck of his head, kissing Eren again, and Eren pressed up into the kiss with as much enthusiasm as he could dredge up from his tired bones.
But their moment was interrupted almost before it could truly begin.
“Captain! Captain Levi!”
“No,” Levi moaned, pressing further into Eren, who couldn’t help but laugh and cling to Levi’s shoulders, turning his head to see who was trying to find them. Levi growled wordlessly and twisted, away from the voice, to press open mouthed kisses down the heat-flushed line of Eren’s throat. He shivered, eyelashes fluttering, and it was only when their intruder sputtered to a loud stop nearby did Eren remember why Levi’s lips were occupied with his neck and not Eren’s lips instead.
The soldier who had come looking for Levi was one of the previous Military Police soldiers, if Eren wasn’t mistaken. Marlo would have known her name, Eren thought, fingers clenching against Levi’s back as the shorter man shifted them both, sliding one of his legs in between Eren’s with a low noise that had Eren flushing even hotter. The poor girl was pale, a scratch on her face and blood staining the edge of her shirt and pants; she looked exhausted and utterly uncomfortable as she stared at them, wide eyed, mouth open in shock around what was probably going to be another shout.
Eren probably should have been concerned about this, about being caught pinned against the wall by his commanding officer. Levi probably should have been concerned about this too. But Eren didn’t. He just couldn’t bring himself to give a goddamn shit. Levi shifted, kissing the corner of Eren’s mouth shamelessly, and Eren felt his nose scrunch up as he laughed again, feeling the beginnings of a kind of happiness that genuinely terrified him burrow into his chest.
“Hi,” Eren said, head light with everything he was feeling. Levi snorted against his jaw, dug his fingers into Eren’s sides, and Eren gasped a little. The poor girl turned violet. “Did you, uh. Need something?”
With a jerk the girl whirled, averting her eyes elsewhere with a shake of her shoulders. “Commander wants you both to report to the basement door immediately,” she squeaked, voice high enough to confuse birds. Eren blinked at her and felt Levi pause against his jaw, the other man’s hands twitching at Eren’s sides. With a sigh Eren started to pull back, ready to put this on hold to report for orders, but Levi pressed their hips together and growled, keeping him in place.
“Tell Erwin he can take his fucking blades and shove them up his goddamn ass,” Levi snapped, his voice that of a commanding officer more than inclined to make any back-talking cadet pay. Eren shuttered at that voice, slouching further against Levi’s body. The girl made a noise that was mostly scandalized but also a little like a strangled cat, whirling to look at them just in time for Levi to curl his hand around Eren’s jaw and drag him back into a kiss.
Eren pressed into the kiss willing and more content than he had been in more years than he could count. His eyes closed slowly, his hand sliding up Levi’s back along his spine, the other creeping up into his hair. The girl made a sound, might have said Levi’s name again, and one of Levi’s hands slid away, the one pressed against Eren’s ribs, and he squirmed, missing it, opening his eyes just in time to see Levi make a foul gesture in her direction. Levi didn’t stop kissing Eren and Eren didn’t let him, angling his head up into the kiss as he let himself slouch even more, until Levi was the one taller, the one holding them both up. He knew Levi had to be exhausted too, but his love took his weight more than easily, held him up with the leg between Eren’s as his hand returned to slide under Eren’s shirt.
Eren forgot the messenger girl almost immediately, lost in the bliss of Levi’s kiss. He could feel Levi’s heart beating through his shirt and he pressed against the feeling, relishing in the way they were both alive. They’d won the battle and now-
Now they could live together to see tomorrow.